Saturday, 30 October 2010

Game Of The Week: Super Scribblenauts (DS/DSi)

Maxwell has returned for a second adventure on Nintendo DS and DSi, and this time, he's SUPER! For those of you who have never heard of Scribblenauts before,The objective of the game is to complete puzzles and collect little objects known as Starites, which players can attain by writing different objects into the game via an on-screen notepad.

The game was produced by video game developers, 5th Cell, who are also well-known for creating the Drawn To Life series of videogames.

Now Super Scribblenauts promises to be even better than its predecessor. So, what new features can we expect from this long-awaited sequel?

Firstly, Super Scribblenauts has an expanded dictionary of approximately 10,000 words that were not included in the original game. Furthermore, Adjectives now feature prominently in the game and allow players to specify the colour, size, style, behaviours of the object they are describing.

Multiple adjectives can be combined together to produce incredibly creative objects. If you ever wanted to create a giant, blue, happy, spotty, fox, or an angry, yellow, flying, car, then this is definitely the game for you.

As with most word-based videogames, it is important to be aware that not all words are recognised by the game's dictionary, especially where a chosen word differs in UK English and American English. For example, we tried typing in the word 'Spade', but found that it was not included in the dictionary. However, the word 'shovel' was included.

On the whole, however, Super Scribblenauts adjectives work very well and help to create a deeper and more imaginative game than before.

The levels map has also gone through a bit of a makeover. This time, each level (and its sub-levels) help to make up a different star 'constallation', including a big tree. Each time a sub-level is completed successfully, a new star (AKA a new sub-level) is added to the constallation.

One of the changes that we at Mini Gamers most approve of, is the ability to choose how you control Maxwell. The previous game was purely stylus-based and this meant that poor Maxwell would easily fall off the end of ledges or suddenly dismount from an aeroplane in mid-flight.

Luckily, the geniuses at 5th Cell have included D-Pad Controls in this game. Use the directional buttons, or A and Y to move Maxwell, or X and B to jump. We tried flying a 'Friendly Dragon' via the D-pad and found that it was much easier than by stylus.

Another new feature is the Hint System. Players can now use the points they gain in each sub-level (known as 'OLLARS') to purchase some useful hints about which objects might be needed to reach the end of the level. This is really useful as it stops the game from getting stale.

Official E3 Trailer: Super Scribblenauts

In conclusion then, Super Scribblenauts really does live up to the hype. All the fun features of the original game such as Merit Points, The Custom Level Creator and Unlockable Avatars are still available, but the new controls and adjective-based gameplay makes this game so much more interesting. If you like games with a high level of creativity and innovative content, then this is the perfect game for you. Overall rating: 10/10.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sony Stops PSP Development Kits

The SCEE has announced that it will stop distributing current PSP and PSP-3000 Development Kits from the 15th November 2010.

Development Kits are tools which help Software Developers to develop games and applications for particular devices such as games consoles. Sony now wish to stop distribution of their PSP development tool (dtp-t2000a) and testing tool (dtp-h2500a), however, they stress that they will continue to loan the tools to software developers who request them after the deadline.

According to the gaming blogsite VG247, Sony has openly admitted that it is going to stop distribution of the development kits for its PSP and PSP 3000 consoles. However, Sony's latest console,  the PSP Go will not be affected.

A representative of the SCEE said: “Due to the certification on the current development and test tools expiring, we will be stopping selling them on November 15th 2010, however, we will continue to provide loan stock for registered and new developers, until a new certified model is available.” [source:]

The decision comes after months of speculation about falling sales figures and lengthy game delays. PSP hardware sold 62 million units worldwide by September 2010, whereas its main competitor, the Nintendo DS had already sold 132.04 million units worldwide by June 2010.

Furthermore, several 'big name' game releases have either been delayed on the PSP or have not included a PSP version at all. These include: The Sims 3The Force Unleashed II, Patapon 3 and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars ,which have now both been delayed until 2011.

The SCEE's decision has also fuelled further speculation about a brand new type of PSP console (nicknamed the PSP2), which could possibly be in development right now.

Sony still refuses to acknowledge the existence of such a console, let alone confirm whether the device will be heading for a 2011 release to combat possible Nintendo sales from the 3DS, which is set to debut in March 2011.

Nevertheless, Shaun Himmerick, Executive Producer on the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot, not only revealed that the device existed, but also that his team had one.

In a PAX 2010 interview about the upcoming reboot, Himmerick let slip that his team had been working with a PSP2 development unit at Netherrealm Studios, thus offering definite proof that a new Sony console is in production at the moment.

However, whether or not a new console is in development does not change the fact that older-style PSPs will no longer be supported after the 15th November 2010. This means that there will be less new games and applications available to people who cannot afford the latest PSP Go console, despite recent price reduction promises.

Furthermore, old PSP stock will be reduced in many retail stores, making the original PSP and PSP 3000 consoles and their software completely obsolete within a few years.

There are still a few new PSP games on the horizon, such as God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta, EyePet , or Buzz: The Ultimate Music Quiz, as well as some of those delayed games mentioned above, but we at Mini Gamers are saddened that these games will be more of a last hurrah for this great console, rather than a continuation of its previous success. November the 15th 2010 marks a very sad day for handheld gamers everywhere...

Have YOUR say....

What do you feel about the SCEE's decision? What does it mean for your current PSP? Will you be buying a PSP Go?

If you have any thoughts on this issue and wish to share it with others, why not leave us a comment by clicking on the COMMENTS link at the bottom of this post (or by filling in the COMMENTS BOX if viewing this post in a separate window).

Mini Gamers is very keen to hear your views.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Star Wars The Forced Unleashed 2 (DS/DSi)

It has been one of the most anticipated sequels of the year, but Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II was finally released to the public today.

For those of you who don't know, this game continues the story of Galen Marek, (AKA Starkiller,) a young human child who was kidnapped by Darth Vader and raised to become his secret apprentice for the Dark Side.

 However, StarKiller soon begins to realise that Darth Vader has only been using him as a tool to destroy Emperor Palpatine and seize control of the Galactic Empire for himself. He decides to turn against Darth Vader and the two of them engage in a powerful battle to the death...

In The Force Unleashed II, Darth Vader cannot face the fact that his apprentice has failed him. He kills Starkiller, but has the young man's body cloned and then imprisoned on the planet of Kamino.

Waking up in shackles, the cloned Starkiller has only fragments of the memories of his past life. Nevertheless, He manages to escape and sets out to learn about his mysterious past. But  Starkiller finds it difficult to know where to start his search. At that moment, a familiar name echoes in his mind and with little else to go on, he sets out to find the one person who is guaranteed to help him – Juno Eclipse.

The Force Unleashed II promises to deliver even more powerful gameplay with new powers such as the Mind Trick,which confuses your enemies and turns them against each other, and Force Fury, which enhances all of StarKiller's attacks and powers.

Even though this version of Starkiller is a clone, he still possesses all of the original Starkiller's powers, so there is no need to build up his powers slowly this time around. There are greater customisation options in this game and the use of  power-enhancing lightsaber crystals make battles more interesting.

 Furthermore, there are better Combo-Controls for Dual-Lightsabre attacks, and an all-new Precision Targeting System, which greatly enhances Starkiller's success against his enemies.

Players must skillfully manage Starkiller's combat techniques to defeat a variety of brand-new enemies, which will culminate in some epic boss battles.The Force Unleashed II  also contains more puzzles and makes good use of the in-game environment as well, giving the plot an even greater realism this time around.

LucasArts' President Darrell Rodriguez said: "Executive Producer Haden Blackman and his team have been able to build on the core foundation of the award-winning original [game] and create a powerful combination of engrossing story-telling and intense action. The Force Unleashed II gives fans an opportunity to wreak havoc on an even greater scale in the Star Wars universe..."

This game has made a number of  improvements since the original game, and if the success of its predecessor is anything to go by, then The Force Unleashed II is sure to be a big hit with fans over the the coming weeks. Overall rating: 9/10.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Game Of The Week: Professor Layton & The Lost Future (DS/DSi)

Everyone's favourite logical detective, Professor Hershel Layton returned in his third adventure on the Nintendo DS and DSi consoles this week.

Professor Layton & The Lost Future  sees the professor and his young apprentice, Luke Triton, in a battle to save future London from a major catastrophe after a time-travel experiment in the present goes badly wrong...

The Professor and Luke are amongst a select group of people who have been invited to witness a demonstration of Dr. Alain Stahngun's new Time Machine, during which, the Prime Minister of Britain volunteers to be the machine's first official Time Traveler.

However, the experiment does not go as expected and the machine is destroyed. Both Dr. Stahngun and The Prime Minister disappear. Over the next few weeks, there are several  newspaper reports concerning other missing scientists.

Some weeks later, Layton and Luke receive a letter which claims to have been written by Luke's future self. The letter directs the two to a clock shop in London. The pair decide to investigate.

Inside the clock shop, a strange elderly couple show the Professor and Luke another time machine, and the pair decide to activate it. After a bit of confusion, Layton and Luke find themselves in a drastically-changed London ten years from their present.

Here the pair meet future Luke, who explains that the Time Machine accident caused the future Professor Layton to change (becoming a ruthless criminal). Future Luke asks for help in setting the timeline straight again. The Professor promises to help the now grown-up Luke and embarks upon a finding a set of clues that can help them to save London.

Although Professor Layton & The Lost Future has many of the common features associated with the other games in the series - such as beautifully-rendered 2D cutscenes, a distinctive musical soundtrack, and of course, some mind-boggling brainteasers - it does contain some slight format changes, which helps to make the game even better than its predecessors.

Firstly, the puzzles now seem to build up in difficulty throughout the game, so the puzzles at the beginning are all very easy to solve and should not require any Hint Coins to be spent here. This is good as it allows players to get into the heart of the storyline more quickly than in the previous games.

Furthermore, the game's developers, Level 5 inc have now instituted a Super Hint function, which is very useful for those puzzles that just do not seem to have a recognisable answer, and it can stop the game from getting stale or frustrating.

 Although Super Hints only require two hint coins, they can only be purchased after the other three normal hints have been unlocked. This means that Super Hints essentially cost 5 hint coins each (one hint coin each for the three normal hints plus two extra coins).

Nevertheless, if you do manage to purchase a Super Hint, it will virtually solve whatever puzzle you are currently struggling with at the time. This allows younger players or people who are not overly adept at brainteasers the chance to move on to the puzzles that they can solve.

The puzzles themselves (over 165 of them in total) involve a lot of similar tasks as the other two games, from putting items in a particular sequence, arranging tiles to form an image, or spotting the 'Odd-One-Out' in a sequence of shapes, amongst others. However, although these types of puzzles have featured in the other Professor Layton games, they are given a refreshing new twist as part of the overall storyline, which makes them very interesting to solve.

Two minor disapointments with Professor Layton & The Lost Future are the set of minigames and Luke's voice.

As with the other games, this title features three different minigames for players to enjoy, including Luke's new pet parrot, a toy car with collectible track pieces, and picture books with missing stickers which the player has to locate throughout the game. Please note, that the solutions to ALL the latest Mini Games can be found by clicking HERE.

Although the new minigames make a welcome change from the annoying tea-drinking minigame in Professor Layton & Pandora's Box, which many fans of the series struggled to complete sucessfully, they do seem a bit too easy to complete for the game's numerous adult fans, which is a bit of a shame, but still does not affect the brilliance of the game as a whole.

Furthermore, Luke has gone all posh again in this game. Fans of the series will remember that Luke's voice in the very first game sounded like that of an upper-class public schoolboy. This was then changed to a rough cockney-sounding voice in the second game, (which incidentally is the voice which features in the new DVD feature film Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva.)

 Now it seems like Luke has been taking elocution lessons in the future because the voice of 'Future Luke' now matches that of the one used in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, dispite the fact that Young Luke still has the rough Cockney accent . Although this is only a minor part of the game, it still affects the overall continuity of the series, which can be very frustrating at times.

In conclusion, Professor Layton & The Lost Future is definitely a must-buy for existing fans of the series. It features more cutscenes and voice work and puzzles than ever before and is sure to keep you entertained for weeks to come. If you haven't tried a Professor Layton game yet, this game is certainly worth a try. Overall rating: 9/10.

Official E3 Debut Trailer [HD]

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Sims 3 On Nintendo DS/DSi - Just Ten Days To Go...

The Sims 3 comes to the Nintendo DS console systems on the 29th of October, but we couldn't wait until then. Mini Gamers takes a look at some of the features that players can expect from the new game.

1) Create-A-Sim Gets A Whole New Look:

The classic 'Create-A-Sim' mode, which has been present since the Sims 2 DS games, has now been given an extra makeover, meaning that more unique Sims can be created than ever before. Earlier Sims DS games had only allowed players to select from a very limited list of faces, hairstyles and clothes, meaning that all the characters were pretty generic.

The Sims 3 (DS) does away with the old character templates. Instead, the stylus is used as a sculpting tool so that each feature of a Sims' face can now be moulded to the players chosen specification. This brings the 'Create-A-Sim' mode more in line with the PC version of The Sims 3, and makes it easier to create realistic characters.

2)  Detailed 'Build Mode' 

 Again, the 'Build Mode' has been re-developed to bring it closer to the PC version of the game. Players can literally paint their own wall designs, floors and furniture. Preset options are also available if you are lacking inspiration though. The stylus can also be used to pick up and place new furniture items.

3) A Truly 'Open' Story:

Unlike the PC version, The Sims 2 console games only ever contained a single narrative. The new game allows players to decide the fate of their chosen Sims through the use of Personality Traits and Karma Powers.

Whilst the Personality Traits are already a strong part of the PC version of The Sims 3, Karma Powers have been specially designed for the console version and the type of Karma Powers you can unlock during the game depends upon what particular console version of the game you have purchased.

For the Nintendo DS/DSi consoles, there are eleven total Karma Powers that can be unlocked. These are: 

+ Winter Wonderland: triggers a permanent winter season in the game.

+ The Muse: helps painting and cooking skills.

+ The Riddler: helps logic and mechanical skills

+ Casanova: other Sims cannot resist you.

+ Bless the Mess: everything broken or messy within your Sim's home is fixed and cleaned for you.

+ Wormhole: makes your Sim travel quickly.

+ Instant Beauty: you can edit your Sim's physical appearance in Create-A-Sim mode.

 + Super satisfy: immediately fulfills needs.

+ Giant Jackpot: you get money.

 - Cosmic Curse: depletes all of the target Sims’ needs.

- Epic fail: makes Sims fight, burp and fart, get demoted or fired, break things, causes fires and more.

Although there are a total of nine positive Karma Powers (+) and only two negative ones (-) , overuse or misuse of these powers can cause bad or unexpected things to happen, which in turn may disrupt your Sims overall lifetime goals. Use those powers carefully!

Overall, The Sims 3 on Nintendo DS/DSi is as close to the PC version as it could possibly be. With so many plot twists and an open storyline, this game is sure to keep Sims fans busy for a very long time to come. There is talk that a version of this game will also be making its debut on the 3DS next year, but until then, this game is a true life-simulation masterpiece. Overall rating: 10/10.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Review: FIFA 11 (DS & PSP)

EA Sports FIFA series has always provided a good quality of gameplay and entertainment for its many fans. Now the latest game, FIFA 11 promises to be better than ever before.

The game has even been hotly tipped to be the best-selling game of Christmas 2010 according to William Hill PLC , which certainly seems possible when you consider that the game managed to sell 2.6 million units in its first weekend of sales alone. This figure is almost unheard of for a sports franchise.

However, putting all the hype to one side for a moment, let's take a look at FIFA 11's new handheld console features.

Firstly, FIFA's use of licensed players and teams has always scored them brownie points over other football game franchises like Pro Evolution Soccer, and FIFA 11 contains over 30 officially licensed leagues, 500 licensed teams and more than 15,000 players to choose from.

The game also features a new Pro Passing System, whereby pass accuracy is determined by a gamer's ability to use the controls, and player skill, situation and urgency on the pitch. This means that now over striking or under striking the ball will mean inaccurate passes and more varied outcomes. New types of passes such as swerve passes also enable players to make a safer and more effective play.

Nevertheless, the biggest enhancement to FIFA 11 has to be the Personality+ System, which affects players, goal-keepers and even a CPU player's capability.  It sounds too good to be true, but the new system means a greater level of realism for the FIFA handheld games. 

For example, CPU opponents now have a entire repetoire of skill moves to exploit through the use of star player attributes and specific behaviours attributed to particular players.

 Goalkeepers also feature more prominently in this game. Alongside the standard FIFA career mode called Be A Pro FIFA 11 also introduces an all-new Be A Goalie mode, allows gamers to play as a goalie of their choice.

Here, the Personality+ System accurately reproduces the actions of a particular real-life Goalkeeper on the pitch, so if your goal-keeper has a longer reach than others, he will be more successful when diving for the ball. Some of the controls in this mode can seem a bit of a struggle, but is a worthwhile effort overall.

Goalkeepers are also now more aware of their surroundings and react more intelligently to potential goals from the opposing team. Goalkeepers can now sprint to cut off a loose ball before urgently scrambling back to defend the net, and they can even skillfully identify and react to lob shots.

However, unlike the major console versions of this game, it is impossible to cut to the main action of the game whilst in the goalie mode on the PSP and DS, which means that gamers could get bored of only seeing the action from the Goalkeeper's perspective.

The PSP version also features a new Fame mode.  Gamers can choose to begin their campaign as a player, player/manager or manager as you lead their club through fifteen seasons of club soccer.

Your success as a player or manager is ranked through the new Fame system. The better your performance the more Fame you receive and more prestigious offers will become available on your journey to become a football legend.

The Nintendo DS version of FIFA 11  also has its own new game mode called Ultimate Team. This mode allows players to collect a set of in-game trading cards (which can be purchased after completing certain activities in the standard game modes). These cards will upgrade the athletic abilities of your chosen team.

Both handheld consoles also feature the Soccer IQ mini-game, which is essentially a general knowledge quiz based on various football triva.

One further feature (exclusive to the Nintendo DSi or the PSP's Go! Cam function) uses the camera functions of either console to take a snapshot of the gamer's face, which can then be uploaded and placed on the face of any customised  football player. Thus, gamers can literally put themselves in the game.

However, it has to be said that despite a few minor tweaks to the overall gameplay, the handheld versions of FIFA 11 seem to pale in comparison to their major console counterparts. The game itself is adequate and is likely to be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the series so far, but much of the content remains unchanged from previous versions, which is a little disappointing when you consider that the major consoles have a lot more variations. Having said that, the gameplay is solid and the graphics on both versions are pretty accurate.

In conclusion, FIFA 11 is a decent game with good graphics and entertaining gameplay which is likely to keep fans of the series occupied for a long time to come. However, the handheld versions do not quite compare to the finesse of the major console versions. Overall Rating: 8/10.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Dude Looks Like A Lady: Men, Women, And Games Which Can't Tell The Difference!

The number of Girl Gamers has continued to rise significantly since the early twenty-first century. Until that time, gaming was considered to be a widely male-dominated aspect of the Entertainment Industry, with games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Prince of Persia being aimed exclusively at a male audience.

Nevertheless, the development of the Nintendo DS in 2005 led to greater family and casual games being produced. These games also appealed widely to a female audience.

Coupled with this, the Hardcore Gamers market started to feature strong female leads in games like Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Velvet Assassin, and Bayonetta, which increased the validity of being a female gamer.

Nevertheless, whilst video game producers now sought to include female and male avatars in many of their games, they still do not always consider female gamers in the main plot of their games.

Mini Gamers has found that a  number of games contain blatant gender errors, which show that the industry is still promoting video games as a male-only pastime. Here we expose the worst offenders:

 MySims: Agents

Although this game allowed for female avatars (and clearly shows a female on the front of the box), the actual storyline was clearly aimed at male gamers. We created a female avatar (Let's call her 'Minnie Gamers', for example,) and set about choosing a suitable hairstyle and outfit - all good so far.

We then chose our assistant - a male called 'Edgar'. The game starts. The first thing the text on the game says is: "Agent Minnie explained the details of the latest assignment to HIS assistant, Edgar..."

At first this might seem like a minor indiscretion, but at several other points during the game, the accompanying text refers to our obviously feminine detective as 'He', 'Him', or 'His' . Never at any time throughout the game does it refer to our avatar as 'She' or 'Her'.

This must be very off-putting for all the Girl Gamers out there, as the earlier games in the MySims series had a very big appeal to females. The worrying thing is that this game is not the only one that seems to be suffering from some form of gender-confusion.

Enchanted Folk: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Anyone who has tried this game will know that it is a brilliant and absorbing game that provides an interesting cross between the worlds of Animal Crossing and Harry Potter to create a  virtual environment set in a Magic Boarding School. Nevertheless, that still doesn't stop Enchanted Folk from getting confused between its male and female characters.

Several times during the game, teachers and other staff at the boarding school refer to our female avater (Minnie Gamers,) as "Young MASTER Minnie," instead of using the feminine term "Young Miss Minnie".

Once again, it may seem a minor point, but it is amazing how annoying this can get after a few hours of gameplay. Nevertheless, if you thought that only Nintendo DS games contained these kinds of errors, then you would be wrong.

ModNation Racers (PSP)

This particular racing game is big on customisation. When we first reviewed ModNation Racers back in May this year, we were taken aback by all the various costumes, facial features, hairstyles, vehicles and tracks that could be customised to suit the individual player.

This game had a wide range of items aimed at creating the perfect female avatar including pink hair and outfits, bunches, plaits and ponytails, skirts and dresses, lipstick-covered mouths or eye-shadow covered eyes.

Thus a game which has spent so much time making sure that it is also inclusive to female gamers is bound to feature them strongly in the main story mode, right? Wrong.

The game's Career Mode featured a young male racer named 'Tag'. The game then gives players the option to change this character to a created avatar if they wish to do so. Again, we created the female 'Minnie Gamers' avatar and returned to the story mode where we completed our first race in third place.

The commentary at the end of the race did not take into account that we had now chosen a female avatar and said: "HE will have to work harder if HE hopes to beat competitors in the next race..."

Okay, so the odd mention of the wrong gender in the commentary or text description is probably considered trivial by many gamers, but if video game developers are serious about their intention to produce games which can appeal to both males and females alike, then the inclusion of female avatars alongside male ones is clearly not enough.

Therefore, if a game wishes to contain both female and male characters together, then any plots or commentaries should cater for both instances by accurately recognising the gender of the chosen character, and by reflecting this gender in the actual storylines.

Why should female gamers settle for their avatars being refered to as 'He' while a male character being called 'She' throughout a game would clearly be laughable?  This form of androgeny cannot continue if the Video Games Industry hopes to truly attain equality for both its male and female audiences.


Do you consider yourself to be a Girl Gamer? Have you encountered a game that refers to female avatars as 'He'? How does this make you feel? Do you think that female avatars being referred to 'He' or 'Him' is acceptable? What could the Video Games Industry do to rectify this problem?

If you have any thoughts on this issue and would like to share it with others, why not leave us a comment by clicking on the 'Comments' link at the bottom of this post? We would love to hear from you.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Professor Layton As You Have NEVER Seen Him Before...

 Hollywood movies and videogames have become almost synonomous with each other in recent years with games such as Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and Doom (to name but a few) being turned into massive film blockbusters. Now another gaming series is to be given the Hollywood treatment.

Yes, that's right, the famous detective, Professor Layton - star of the Nintendo DS games series is set to make his first ever film debut in Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, which comes to UK DVD and Blu-ray on the 18th October 2010.

In the film,  Professor Layton receives a letter from his old student, the famous opera diva Janice Quatlane who will soon perform at the legendary Crown Petone Opera House. She sends Layton two tickets and invites him to attend as her special guest.

Meanwhile, a rash of disappearances hits London. Two young school girls are the latest victims and the Professor suspects it's related to the strange things that are happening at the theatre. Layton and Luke travel to the Opera House to solve their toughest puzzle yet, the mystery of Eternal Life!

The film was first released in Singapore on the 18th of March this year and has so far been considered an overwhelming success by critics. It is also said that Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is only one in a pre-planned series of Professor Layton films, which have been carefully developed by Level-5 Inc, who also produced the Professor Layton Video Games.

According to Level-5 Inc, the movie will stay true to the games - with music, puzzles, and characters that will be instantly recognisable to fans of the series. It is an interesting experiment to see whether the Professor can be just as enthralling on film as he can in the games.

For true hardcore Layton fans, the film will also be available as a three-disc DVD/Blu-ray Collector’s Edition Combi Pack, which will include the film on both DVD and Blu-ray, plus a bonus DVD featuring ‘Mystery of the Last Song’, ‘Professor Layton and the Mystery of the Production Company’, ‘Professor Layton and the Mystery of the 3D CG’ and a promo video for the Professor Layton games.

Additionally, there will be a two-disc DVD/Blu-ray Deluxe Collector’s Edition Combi Pack featuring all of the aforementioned items plus a super-collectable 630-page Storyboard Book and rigid art box outer packaging.

The news of a Professor Layton film may come as some surprise, but it will certainly help to fill in the gap before the release of the third video game Professor Layton and the Lost Future, which has sadly been delayed until the 22nd of October 2010.

We at Mini Gamers are delighted to hear that Professor Layton is going to be a film star, but if you have not quite made up your minds yet, and if you are still curious about the film, why not check out this UK "teaser trailer":

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Into the Jungle with Panasonic's New Handheld...

It was news that many handheld gamers never imagined they would hear, but almost seventeen years after the release of their doomed 3DO Multiplayer handheld console, Japanese Electronics giant,  Panasonic have announced that they are ready to try and conquer the gaming market once again with a product called Jungle.

Jungle, which is aimed exclusively at MMO (Mass Multiplayer Online) enthusiasts, comes with a QWERTY keyboard and is expected to use some form of the Linux Operating System.

Very little has actually been announced about the console yet. However, we do know that BattleStar Galactica will be the console's first available MMO game when Jungle launches in Mid-Spring 2011.

Gamers who are interested in the Jungle console and wish to follow its development can visit the new website devoted to this mysterious gadget. Click here to go to website now.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Game of the Week: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Predator (PSP)

Deep in the jungles of Sri Lanka, the Ghosts have 72 hours to prepare the way for a U.S. invasion force. As open conflict with Pakistan looms, the Ghosts uncover proof that they've been targeting the wrong enemy.

Now they must act before falsified intelligence lures America into an unpredictable and devastating war...

It might sound like the plot of some Hollywood blockbuster, but this is actually the main story of Tom Clancy's newest PSP game, Ghost Recon: Predator.

This is the second PSP title in Tom Clancy's shooter series Ghost Recon. The first game, which was called Advanced Warfighter 2, has been criticised by some for being too difficult in its missions and for having very short gameplay overall, so will the new game be any different?

Ghost Recon: Predator is certainly a challenge! The new tactical experience means that how you lead your squad to victory is entirely up to you.

Players can either opt to use their massive firepower to take down enemies, which works well when facing stronger and more powerful opponents, or they can choose a more strategic approach like sneaking up behind enemies at close range. 

Players can also use the environment to their advantage, along with intel and information from command, media and the locals.

Furthermore, Ghosts now have high-tech equipment such as drones, air support and prototype weapons to help them to locate and stalk their enemies.

Experience, which is earned in the game by defeating various opponents, now means greater customisation for your squad and thus a more powerful, elite force.

For those of you who prefer to game with friends, Ghost Recon: Predator also features an ad-hoc co-op mode for up to three PSPs. Team up and outsmart the opposition.

 Ghost Recon: Predator is a pretty good Shooter game and it does contain many of the core elements that one would associate with the series. The graphics are not as smooth as those found on the major consoles and some Wi-fi enabled multiplayer wouldn't go amiss, but the main game is very interesting and challenging regardless. If you like Shooter games, then this is likely to fit nicely into your collection. Overall rating: 8/10

Friday, 1 October 2010

October/November Games Line-Up...

The handheld gaming market has suffered another 'drought' recently, with many big-name titles choosing to settle exclusively for the major consoles instead, but that is all about to end as the next two months promise some interesting games for owners of the DS or PSP handhelds. Here we look at a few new release and pre-order games that have managed to catch our eye recently:

 My Sims: Sky Heroes

The cute and lovable My Sims are back for another round on the Nintendo DS and DSi systems. This time, your chosen avatar will take to the skies in an all-new adventure. Take on Morcubus (the usual villain from the Wii version of the My Sims games) and his evil army to become the ultimate hero. Take part in high-speed dogfights, aerial battles and rescue missions with your chosen My Sims. Encounter some new faces as well as some very familiar ones.

As with the last few My Sims titles, this game is geared more towards males than females (but that should not prevent girls from having a go at it, I hasten to add,) however, the quirky characters and fun gameplay will be instantly recognisable to fans of the series.

Players start off as fledgling pilots and gain skills and experience to become heroes of the skies. Unique to this game, however, is an Upgrade System, whereby aeroplane parts can be upgraded to provide greater movement, speed or ability. This certainly makes the game more challenging in lots of ways and definitely adds to the replay value of the overall game.

This game will not be to everyone tastes (sugary sweet storylines mixed with aeriel assaults don't come along every day, people!) Nevertheless, it is a fun little game which will appeal to the casual gamers amongst you. Why not give it a try?

The game will be available in the shops from the 1st October 2010.

Professor Layton & The Lost Future

Professor Layton and Luke return in the final installment of their adventure trilogy on the Nintendo DS and DSi, but don't worry, as we already know that a new title Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle is being planned for the 3DS and we also heard a sneaky little rumour that a new 'prequel' trilogy was in the pipeline too, so fans definitely have not heard the last of this logical detective.

In this game, which is released on the 15th October 2010, Luke receives a mysterious letter from his own future, prompting the Professor to embark on another puzzle-solving mission.

With over 165 separate puzzles, this game promises us more brainteasers than ever before, as well as a  Super Hint system for when we really do not have a clue and have already purchased the three normal hints. However, as the new Super Hint function usually makes it so easy to solve the brainteasers, it will cost more hint coins to purchase one!

The Professor Layton games have always been a massive hit with us here at Mini Gamers, be sure to check in with the blog for a more in-depth review when the game is released.

Buzz: Ultimate Music Quiz

The new Buzz title does what it says on the box - it puts your musical knowledge to the test. As usual, this game for the PSP contains thousands of questions, so the chances of the same questions being asked twice are minimal. This game also features an ad-hoc wireless multiplayer mode so you can take on up to eight players and enjoy pitting your wits against your friends and family.

Fans of this series will already know what to expect. The single player mode consists of fifteen separate challenges filled with music video clips, photographs, audio excerpts and general trivia. Trophies and medals will be awarded for various accomplishments during each level, including getting the most amount of correct answers or answering questions in the shortest possible time.

However, there have been some minor changes to the PSP game which is refreshing for such a long-running games series. Firstly, the game now comes with a Personalised Commentary System, which means that Buzz can now call you by name!

Furthermore, there have been rumours that the game's irrepressible host, Buzz, has undergone a bit of a makeover  himself for this title, but the developers are being very tight-lipped about what that will actually entail.

The game was originally scheduled for release at the end of October, but this date has since changed to the 12th November 2010. If you like music trivia, then this could be the game for you!

Tron: Evolution

If you were a child growing up the 1980s then you will definitely remember the film TRON from 1982. The film broke new ground in its use of Solid 3D Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). It was aimed at the new videogame craze and most of the film was set in a graphically-enhanced world.

Nevertheless, the film was a little before its time in its approach to computer graphics, and unfortunately the CGI methods used all those years ago were not as convincing as today's models, so TRON was infamous for being a Box Office failure. Nevertheless, it did gain cult status in the early 1990s. 

Now, twenty-eight years after the original film, a sequel called TRON: Legacy is in the pipeline, and of course where there is a major film, there has to be a major game title to accompany it.

TRON: Evolution is set during the era between the two TRON films.  It has been developed by Propaganda Games and Disney Interactive Studios. Essensially the game will help to bridge-the-gap between the main plots in both films and help fans old and  new to familiarise themselves with TRON mythology.

"TRON is the most revered video game-inspired film property of all time, TRON: Evolution, the video game, will enhance the TRON experience for existing fans of the franchise as well as an entirely new audience." [Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing, Disney Interactive Studios.]

The game itself will be an action-adventure with elements of racing and role-playing games included in it and although TRON: Evolution is linked to the events in both films, it will also be a stand alone project, so no prior knowledge of TRON is needed to play the game. 

TRON: Evolution is set to be released on the 26th November 2010. It will appear on all major formats including the Nintendo DS and PSP systems. However those of you in the UK who wish to see the film sequel TRON: Legacy will have to wait  until the 26th of December 2010.

So there you have it - just a few of the games that we think are going to be massive hits over the next two months. Of course, October and November have many more brilliant games to offer us but it would take us a lifetime to include all of them in a single blog post.

However, Mini Gamers will endevour to keep you up to date with all the latest releases as they happen over the coming months and we look forward to hearing your opinions on new games as well. Watch this space!