Monday, 28 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars Review

For those of you who don't know, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a new turn-based, tactical combat game for the Nintendo 3DS. The characters take it in turns to move and attack various enemies in the battlefield.

The main storyline focuses on a Russian Ultranationalist called Yuri Treskayev who is amassing a secret army of drones in the hot desserts of Kazakhstan. It is up to the 'Ghosts' - an elite special operations fighting force - to stop Treskayev from coming to power.

There are three gameplay modes: Campaign mode is a single-player mode in which players must control a squad of six Ghosts as they complete a series of thirty-seven missions. Completing the required  objectives in each mission earns the player Hit Points (HP) which can then be used to upgrade equipment and weapons.

The other two game modes are Skirmish Missions and Multiplayer. There are twenty Skirmish missions to complete, each one features a fixed team of Ghosts. There are also a total of ten Multiplayer missions which can be played by two or more players.

The six main Ghosts that you control all vary in rank and the type of weapons that they use. The respective soldier ranks of the main Campaign Mode squad are as follows:

Commando: The Commando (Duke) is equipped with an assault rifle and a hi-tech shoulder mounted missile launcher. He is a very agile member of the team and makes use of all the weapons at his disposal very effectively. There are two types of Commando soldiers, anti-vehicle or anti-personnel.

Sniper: The sniper (Haze) is an expert in long range weapons including heavy sniper rifles, which are very good at getting through the enemy armour, or light sniper rifles, which allow Haze to move faster on the battlefield. His secondary weapons include a choice of either AP or EMP grenades.

Gunner: The gunner (Richter) has a high-powered automatic weapon. This causes an excellent amount of  damage to the 'hostiles' and features good return fire, but does slow Richter down overall. Like Haze,  the gunner has a choice of grenades for his secondary weapon.

Medic: The Medic (Saffron) has effective personal defence weapons and a wide choice of medi-kits, including a 'stim kit', which can give injured characters a chance to perform their attack again, or a 'boost kit', which provides extra power points to the rest of the squad.

Recon: The Recon (Banshee) is has a special camouflage system that prevents any direct attacks against her unless she is revealed by an adjacent enemy. Banshee's main weapon is some silenced carbines, and she also has a choice of EMP grenades or knife for secondary weapon.

Engineer: The engineer (Mint) is equipped with an assault rifle as his main weapon. His secondary equipment is either a deployable gun turret or an armed, mobile drone. His main function within the squad is to repair damaged vehicles and drones.

Weapons and characters can be selected by using the stylus or by pressing the 'A' button on the 3DS D-pad. All the main characters have strengths and weaknesses which must be utilised correctly for players to succeed through all the combat missions. However, they may also be joined by other teams occasionally and can issue  specific orders to these squads as well.

The graphics are very good. The cutscenes look fantastic and realistic in 3D. However, the graphics in the actual game are shown from a Birdseye perspective and often look quite small and unclear on-screen.

Overall, this is a brilliant game and will no doubt be a very popular 3DS launch game. The turn-based combat system may not appeal to everyone's taste but it does seems to work very well here.

If you are a fan of tactical combat games then Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars definitely has a lot to offer. Overall rating: 9/10.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: PES 2011 3D Review

The Pro Evolution Soccer  (PES) franchise has often been accused of living in the shadow of fully-licensed football games such as the ever-popular FIFA video games series, nevertheless, the inclusion of PES 2011 3D in the list of Nintendo 3DS launch titles has proven to be a stroke of genius and really allows this fantastic game to shine.

PES 2011 3D has a lot to offer both new and old fans of the series. As well as full football commentary during every game, PES 2011 3D features an impressive list of  6 different stadiums, 10 leagues, 60 national clubs, 170 league clubs.

The game also features three different gamplay modes, including an Exhibition single-player match mode, a Champions League Mode and a Masters League Mode, however, in a change from other games in the series, PES 2011 3D does not feature any Training Modes.

The 3D graphics adds greater depth and realism to the game. It is now easier to become immersed in the action via the new Player's Camera view, which centres the camera directly behind the main player.

Mini Gamers could not believe how lifelike the new 3D AI players seemed to be. They looked much more like their real-life counterparts and moved easily and realistically along the pitch. Parts of the game really felt like we were taking part in a real football match!

The D-pad controls are fairly easy to understand and mostly involve using the directional circle pad to move, and pressing the 'A' button to pass the ball between players and to execute sliding tackles.

Nevertheless, this is where we encountered our first problem - the sliding tackle function did not always work first time and we often found ourselves fouling the other players (and being presented with a 'yellow card' by the referee) when we tried to use it.

Sliding tackles aside however, this really is a very enjoyable game. One of the features that Mini Gamers found most impressive was the camera replays after every goal. They really do show the game from every possible angle and reminded us very much of an actual televised football match.

The PES 2011 3D game is a fantastic addition to the series and the new 3D depth makes the matches really interesting. If you like football games, you will definitely want to give this title a try. Overall rating: 9/10.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: Nintendogs + Cats Full Hands-On Review...

Last month Mini Gamers wrote an article about the fact that the new Nintendogs + Cats 3DS game would only feature three breeds of cats and twenty-seven breeds of dog, which was very disappointing news as we had expected a lot more kittens than that. Thus, we were understandably nervous about how good the actual game would be. Nevertheless, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.

Nintendogs + Cats comes in three different versions: Golden Retriever, Toy Poodle and French Bulldog. Each version of the game differs in the nine breeds of dog that are immediately available to own, but all twenty-seven breeds of dog are eventually unlocked and are the same regardless of which version you have.

For owners of the original Nintendogs title, there will be a lot of familiar elements to the new game, but there are also quite a few surprises too.

As with the first game, players start at the kennels, where they can choose their puppy from one of the nine starter breeds. Here is where the first differences between this game and the original become very noticeable.

In the first game, puppies from one type of breed (eg. Golden Retriever) all looked exactly alike, but in this game, there are inter-breed fur colour options, and this means that each dog looks unique in its fur colour and texture, which adds to the overall realism of the game.

Only puppies are available when you first visit the kennels, but kittens will become available on your next visit to the kennels. Players are given a budget of £2000 at the start of the game to buy their first pet.

 Kittens cost between £880-£1400 to buy, and puppies cost around £1200-£1600,which means that it will take quite a long time to gather all the necessary funds in order to purchase a cat or another dog.

As with the original game, there are a few different ways of making more money, but they won't necessarily earn you an abundance of wealth. The first way of earning money is to sell unwanted puppy and kitten supplies and accessories back to the second-hand shop. You can also sell items that your puppy finds on his or her walks.

The second way of earning money in the game is to enter your puppy into some daily competitions. There are three competitions:
  • Disc Competition -  players may remember this competition from the original Nintendogs game.
  • Lure Coursing - players encourage their puppy to chase a Lure along a racetrack until the finish line. This replaces the Agility Course competition from the original game.
  • Obedience Competition - also an original Nintendogs competition, which now uses the 3DS Augmented reality card.
Puppies start off in the Junior Cup in all competitions and must try and beat their canine opponents in order to gain entry into the coveted Nintendogs Cup. The first-place prize money ranges from £100 in the first cup to £500 in the final cup. Each of the competitions can be entered twice a day.

There are also two ways to walk your dog in Nintendogs + Cats. Firstly, players can simply choose to take their dog for a walk in the traditional way. There are a few changes to this mode however. In this game, players no longer select the route for their puppy before they go on the walk.

Instead, a  location is chosen by selecting a signpost in the street which leads to one of the three new locations - the Mountain TrailSeaside or Town. Each of these locations has its own visitor hotspots, which players can choose to take their pet to.

For example, the Town includes the Café, where they can meet their first cat, and the Gym, where dogs can practise for the Lure Coursing competition, whereas the Seaside has a Beach to practise for the Disc Competition, and the Mountain Trail has a green Park for playing fetch with a wooden stick or a ball.

Also, the graphics on the walks have changed. Now you can expect to see birds pecking the ground and butterflies resting in the flowerbeds or flying around. Furthermore,  you will also see other people walking down the street or standing around chatting and you will also get the chance to meet other dogs and their Mii-style owners! The 3D graphics help to make the whole journey really interesting and realistic.

Another way to walk the dog is by using the in-built Pedometer function. This means that you can put the console into Sleep Mode by shutting down the lid and walking around with the console - ideal if you are out and about for a day. When you re-open the console you will be rewarded with a present from your dog.

Most of the presents are actually treats for your puppy or kitten, which can either be used or sold back to the second-hand store. However, the Pedometer Mode has the added function of helping players to unlock their ten daily Bonus Coins for you to use in the Mii Plaza, and there is even the possibility that they will have unlocked a new breed of dog via the StreetPass function as well.

Unlocking new puppies and accessories is available through extended gameplay (as in the original Nintendogs) or from using the game in Sleep Mode and meeting other players with different starter breeds to you via StreetPass. This adds an interesting element to the game and can speed up the time that it takes to unlock all twenty-seven breeds of dog, especially if you happen to have a large circle of friends who all like Nintendogs + Cats!

For example, if you meet someone who has a Labrador puppy (Toy Poodle and Friends version) on their console, and you happen to pass by them whilst you are both using the Pedometer Function on your respective games, there is a good chance that you will have unlocked the Labrador Retriever breed the next time you start playing again.

In conclusion, Nintendogs + Cats definitely has the cute factor and is certain to appeal to animal lovers of any age. The fur and eye colour customisations for both kittens and puppies really does help to create a unique identity for your chosen pet.

It is disapointing that there were not more actual breeds of cats in the game, but fur patterns include solid colours such as completely black, white, grey or ginger kittens, amongst others, and also include calico fur patterns, Tabby patterns and bi-colour patterns, which actually means that a lot of different and distinctive kittens can be created from the three breeds on offer.

The 3D graphics add amazing depth to all of  the in-game environments and are especially visable during the various dog competitions. However, we found that the effect can be quite subtle at first, so it was best to turn the Depth Slider up to just above the halfway point to get the full 3D effects, but this is a matter of personal taste and may not suit everyone.

Mini Gamers loves the new features and environments and thinks that Nintendo has done a brilliant job in bringing one of their most popular pet simulation games onto the 3DS. If you have ever thought about owning a pet but did not want to deal with messes or expensive vet bills, then this is definitely the game for you. Overall rating: 9/10.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS Review: Why This Could Really Be The Best Handheld Console Ever...

"The 3DS is so awesome, it just blows your mind..." 
[Mini Gamers Blog Reader]

First Impressions:

From the minute that we removed the new 3DS console from its box here at Mini Gamers HQ, it was clear that we were holding something pretty special. Its bright metallic finish means that the Nintendo 3DS console is sleeker than any of the previous Nintendo handhelds, which just adds to its immediate sense of excellence.

Nevertheless, it is only when the console is switched on for the first time that you get to see how brilliant it truly is. The old adage of "It has to be seen to be believed" definitely applies to the 3DS. From the moment we calibrated the 3D sensors, we couldn't believe our eyes - the upper screen just seemed to burst into life.

Each of the menus included in the console contained some amazing floating icons, which served as our first introduction to the three-dimensional world of the 3DS. We were really impressed with what we saw, and we had not even tried any software yet!

The Mii Maker Studio and Mii Plaza:

One of the first things Mini Gamers did after inputting the basic settings, was to create our very own Mii characters. We opted to use the 3D camera to help us construct a reasonable likeness and then added a few minor tweaks. The 3D camera function definitely proved easier than creating a Mii from scratch like in the old days of the Wii and Nintendo DSi. It only took moments to create a good (and very lifelike) Mii.

Once our Mii characters were created, we decided to examine the Mii Plaza. This was similar to the Nintendo Wii's Mii Plaza, but with some noticeable differences - in the 3DS version, we were offered the chance to use the new StreetPass function to scan for other players Miis, and we were also allowed to try out a Mii Plaza Mini Game, in which we hunted for puzzle pieces that would eventually create a 3D picture.

The idea is that the more players we connect with while out-and-about with the 3DS, the more Miis we can collect, and the more puzzle pieces we will find. The mini games help to  give the 3DS Mii Plaza an extra sense of enjoyment which sadly seemed to be lacking in the original Wii version, and besides, the games are really great fun to try.

Face Raiders:

Face Raiders was next on our list of 3DS preloaded software to investigate. This preloaded mini game had some intial problems: It took a long time before the 3DS camera was able to accurately detect a face in Face Raiders (mostly to do with low lighting conditions at the time,) which was a little bit frustrating.

Nevertheless, once we had snapped an acceptable picture, our chosen face was placed in a 3D vikings helmet and went darting around on the screen, this was so funny that we forgot our earlier frustrations and really started to enjoy the game.

For those of you who haven't experienced this zany bit of software for yourselves yet, Face Raiders turns your chosen face into a fast-paced intergalactic enemy. You must move the 3DS around and shoot at the spinning and darting heads in order to gain points. There is even a chance to face-off against 'Boss' heads in order to progress to the next level.

The 3D heads have a variety of attacks to use against players, including throwing heavy items, firing laser blasts and even trying to kiss you to death! Players can follow the cartoon indicator to locate the direction of new heads on screen, but they tend to disappear and re-appear very quickly, so players have to be fast in order to defeat them all.

The on-screen health meter goes down further with each successful attack. If it reaches the end before all enemies are defeated, then the player loses the game and must replay the level from scratch. If you are successful however, your chosen head gets placed in the 'rescued faces' section and can be re-selected at any time.

Face Raiders can only be described a totally crazy game, but it is a lot of fun if you have a few minutes to spare and it is also a good test of the 3D graphic capabilities of the new console.

 AR Cards:

The AR Cards, and the six mini games included on them, posed a similar difficulty to the Face Raiders game in that it took a while to position the card in the correct place and with the correct lighting conditions in order for the card to be detected by the 3DS.

As some of the games involved moving the 3DS around, the console's ability to detect the AR card was sometimes lost during the mini games as well, which proved to be quite annoying overall and interrupted gameplay. Nevertheless, once we had located an area with an adequately flat surface and good lighting, we were able to play the first mini game, which was target shooting on a Desert island.

The AR graphics were breathtaking. It was amazing to watch this compact little box unfold to reveal a 3D tropical island complete with four shooting targets to aim for. The actual game proved quite difficult to master at first as it was difficult to spot all the target boards, but after a few practise goes, it did begin to get easier to lock on and shoot each target in turn.

Each of the AR games has to be completed with a successful score in order for another game to be unlocked. The AR character cards (such as Mario, Link, Kirby etc) are used to create 3D model characters that players can interact with in some of the games.

If you have a 3DS console, but have been too busy playing one of the 3DS launch title games to really bother with the AR cards for the time being, then you really are in for a treat. The Augmented Reality Games software was one of our favourite features of the 3DS console overall.

Launch Game Software:

After testing the pre-installed software, Mini Gamers thought it was finally time to examine some of the 3DS launch title software. We chose The Sims 3 (3D) and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. We won't go into too much details about the games themselves at this point, as we don't want to spoil the surprise for other gamers, nevertheless, it is true that the graphics on both games was absolutely stunning.

Furthermore, both games seemed to utilise the 3DS features and effects in slightly different ways to create two very interesting games. The Sims 3 (3D) had vastly improved graphics from the original DS version. Sims now look much more lifelike and there is a real sense of depth and space when moving between rooms in your chosen house. Furthermore, objects appear more solid than in previous handheld versions.

The internal 3D camera can also be used to 'morph' a 3D image of their own face onto the Sims 3 avatar, supposedly making it easier to create lookalike Sims than ever before. We tried to do this. However, the result was not entirely accurate and we still had to do quite a few facial tweaks to get a reasonable lookalike. Nevertheless, it was all part of the fun and we were delighted with the final results.

Lego Star Wars III on the 3DS was equally impressive. The landscape really had depth. The desert rocks looked so real in the opening scenes that we felt we could reach into the console and touch them! Even the traditional scrolling text, which we have seen in the Star Wars Films and other Lego Star Wars games looks fantastic in 3D.

The overall game appears to be sharper and brighter than in the other titles in the series. Characters seem to be much more detailed and the cutscenes are almost movie-quality to watch. The 3D enviroments make it even easier to become immersed in the action than ever before.

Obviously, the 3DS launch games will all respond differently to the 3D effects, but if these games are anything to go by, then gamers are truly in for a treat over the coming months.

The 3D Depth Slider:

A lot has been written about the 3D Depth Slider recently. As Mini Gamers discovered earlier this month, some games respond differently when the 3D effects are set to maximum, which can lead to distorted images and poor gameplay. In our hands-on with the 3DS we found that most of the software features worked best with the depth-slider set to the halfway point.

Most of the pre-installed software graphics were unclear when the slider was on full, and some of the game images also started to 'ghost' - an unwanted effect which is known to cause headaches and dizziness if viewed for too long without correction. 

Battery Life and Charging:

According to the 3DS instruction manual, the 3DS takes about 3 and a half hours to charge, but in our experience it only took around two hours to complete its first full charge.

The battery has a lifespan of 3-5 hours with all the settings on maximum, but this can be increased by setting the screen brightness to minimum and lowering the 3D Depth Slider. Setting the Power Save settings to ON can also help to increase the battery life.

The 3DS Charging Cradle (pictured above) is very handy when trying to charge the console. it also makes it easier to continue gaming whilst charging and is a good way to save battery power when the console is in Sleep Mode.


It is very difficult to describe the amazing 3D effects of the Nintendo 3DS console to anyone who has not experienced it for themselves, but we were truly impressed with what we have seen of the console so far.

The pre-installed software is enough to keep most people entertained for a few hours at least, and when you consider the wide range of launch titles on offer in the shops at the moment, it is certain that the 3DS is going to remain popular for a long time to come.

Having seen the console in action, Mini Gamers is in no doubt that the 3DS is currently the best handheld console to date, and could quite possibly be the best handheld console ever produced ever... If you are a handheld gamer then the 3DS is a must-buy. You won't believe your eyes! Overall rating: 10/10.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: 3D Depth Slider, Gyroscopic Sensors and Preloaded Software Explored...

There are now only four days until the UK release of the Nintendo 3DS . Mini Gamers takes a look at some of the new 3D hardware features and preloaded software that you can expect to find included in the console.

The 3D Depth Slider is a vital component of the Nintendo 3DS, as it allows gamers to instantly change the level of 3D that they want to experience.

You might think that there is no need for a 3D depth slider at all as you will always play your 3DS games with the slider set to maximum anyway, but the truth is that some 3DS games will work better with the 3D depth on a slightly lower setting.

The 3DS depth slider can also help to control the 3D settings for younger gamers too. Nintendo has advised that children under seven years of age should not use the 3D features of the console as it might damage their eyesight.  The depth slider allows parents and guardians the ability to turn off the 3D capabilities of the console until children are old enough to use them.

Another interesting hardware feature is the new Gyroscopic Sensor. This nifty feature allows the 3DS to respond to movement, such as being tilted. Some of the UK 3DS launch games use this feature. For example, The Sims 3 (3D) has adapted some of the gameplay from the original DS game so that players can cause earthquakes in their Sim's town, by tilting the console left and right.

 Nintendogs + Cats also utilises the gyroscopic sensor. If players tilt their head to look at their puppy or kitten, then their puppy or kitten will also tilt their head in the same direction as the player.

As well as some impressive hardware, the Nintendo 3DS comes preloaded with extra software and features. Firstly, the console comes with six different Augmented Reality (AR) cards.

As anyone who has used Eyepet will know, Augmented Reality helps blend the virtual and the physical world together - want to see a Dog pop out of the middle of your coffee table? It could be possible with AR technology.

Very little is known about what AR mini games are actually contained on each special AR card at present, but some rumours about islands and dragons are beginning to surface amongst the gaming community. Nevertheless, this is pure conjecture at the moment.

Nintendogs + Cats will also use AR technology. Players will be able to see their chosen puppy or kitten sitting on their desk or in the palm of their hand.

Other software included in the 3DS is the Pedometor and Activity log. The built-in pedometor will chart the number of steps that players walk each day. These steps are then recorded in the 3DS Activity Log. If players achieve certain targets, they will be rewarded with special coins that can unlock bonus content in some compatible 3DS games. Well, it never hurts to exercise a little, does it?

Face Raiders is one of the most controversial pieces of preloaded 3DS software to date. In this quirky mini game, players target and shoot at images that they have created via the Mii studio.

It is the only game of its kind that allows you to shoot at images of yourself. Even though it may not be to everyone's taste, Mini Gamers bets that it will prove be extremely popular, especially with the First Person Shooter and Third Person Shooter fans amongst you.

So there you have it - Mini Gamers exploration of the Nintendo 3DS hardware and software features has sadly come to an end. We hope that you found this overview useful.

What do you think of the new hardware features? Which of the preloaded software most appeals to you? Why not leave us a comment and let us know. We appreciate your thoughts.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Japanese Game Publishers Face Economic Slump In Recent Crisis...

Japanese video game publishers face a big economic slump in the wake of the recent devastation caused by the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Crisis, which has affected the north-eastern (Tohoku) region of Japan.

Sega was by far the worst affected by the crisis so far. According to information from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, on Monday the 14th of March, Sega's stock had dropped by a massive 13.5 percent by the end of the day.

Sony and Nintendo also saw big stock losses too. Sony had a loss of 9.1 percent, whilst Nintendo suffered losses of 7.6 percent. Square Enix and Namco Bandai were amongst the least affected video games publishers with losses between 6.4 and 6.2 percent respectively.

Several video game  Japanese release dates have had to be rescheduled due to the economic downturn, including Sony's Motorstorm Apocalypse  and Sega's Disaster Report 4, which has now reportedly been cancelled altogether. Meanwhile, the upcoming European 3DS release has not been affected by the crisis and will go ahead next Friday as planned.

Dispite the economic slump, many video games companies have reportedly chosen to donate money to the victims of the Tsunami Crisis, including Sony, Namco Bandai  and Capcom, who each donated between 100 million and 300 million yen to relief efforts. Sony also donated over 3000 radios.

Meanwhile, The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami crisis continues to deepen. Many people have been left homeless since the disaster, and although exact figures are unknown at present, casualties are expected to run into tens of thousands over the next few weeks.

Mini Gamers extends its sincere condolences to the victims of this terrible tragedy. For more information on how to give donations, please visit the official Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal website by clicking HERE now.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: UK Launch Titles Explored...

With little over a week to go until the European launch of the Nintendo 3DS, Mini Gamers takes a look at the video game titles we can expect to see on the shop shelves very soon.

The full UK line-up was recently revealed by Official Nintendo Magazine. Amongst the already heavily
-publicised Nintendo 3DS games like Nintendogs + Cats, and Pilotwings Resort, there is a whole host of other gaming titles which are sure to have a wide appeal. The full list of  UK launch games is as follows:

 - Pilotwings Resort
- Nintendogs + Cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends
- Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends
- Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends
- Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
- The Sims 3
- PES 2011 3D - Pro Evolution Soccer
- LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
- Ridge Racer 3D
- Super Monkey Ball 3D
- Samurai Warriors: Chronicles
- Asphalt 3D
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D
- Rayman 3D

The twelve UK launch titles (not counting all three separate versions of Nintendogs + Cats) cover an exciting range of genres from Sports and Life Simulations to Tactical RPGs and Platformers. There really does appear to be at least one appealing 3DS game title for every gamer out there, which is a truly impressive feat.

 Nevertheless, this does not mean that the Nintendo 3DS does not contain some disappointing omissions from its launch software list. For example, some long-running and popular video game series such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Metal Gear Solid and Professor Layton are all scheduled to debut on the 3DS in 2011, but most of them have been given a late Autumn or early Winter UK release date, dispite the fact that they are due to be released earlier in other countries such as Australia and in Japan. 

Obviously, there has to be a limit on the number of big-name titles that are released at the same time in order to ensure continued public interest, but it would have been nice to see one or two of the above game series make the 3DS launch games list.

Furthermore, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle has already proven itself to be an extremely popular 3DS launch title in Japan. The game shifted over 370000 units in its first launch weekend alone. However, gamers in the UK will have to wait until late 2011 to see what the game is really like.

With only nine days left until the 25th March 2011 release date, expectation and excitement over the 3DS and its launch games continues to grow. What do you think of the launch games on offer? Are there any titles which you wish had made the final launch list?

Keep checking in with the Mini Gamers blogsite over the next few days for more 3DS related news as it happens. If you are a fan of the 3DS already, why not take a look at our new Quizzes page? It features a quiz specifically about Nintendo's new console.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Panasonic Scraps Jungle Device

Japanese Electronics corporation, Panasonic , has reportedly scrapped plans to release its portable MMO device, (called Jungle,) just four months after its official announcement.

According to various sources of publicity material, the Jungle handheld device was intended to be a small, portable console with a QWERTY style keyboard, which would allow users to download and play Massively Multiplayer Online games whilst on the move.

Mini Gamers first reported that the new handheld was in development back in October 2010. At that time, Panasonic had created the official Jungle website, and were in the process of developing a Battlestar Galactica MMO for the device.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but according to a recent article by GameIndustry.Biz, Panasonic has axed the device due to undisclosed shifts in the current gaming market. This seems unusual, as the Jungle's style of Downloadable Content would seem to fit neatly with the rising social gaming trends that we have seen over the past year or so.

This is Panasonic's second failed attempt at entering the handheld gaming market. Their 3DO multiplayer device also failed to attract enough positive attention when it launched in 1993, and the product was quickly abandoned. Now, sadly, it seems that the Jungle MMO device is fated to fade into same obscurity as its counterpart.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Game of the Week: Pokémon Black & White Edition (Nintendo DS/DSi)

The Pokémon Video Game Series has been steadily popular since its inception almost fifteen years ago. Now the new Pokémon Black and Pokémon White versions on the Nintendo DS/DSi look set to continue the trend.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of Pokémon (translated as 'Monsters in my Pocket'), players must take over the role of a Pokémon Trainer. You must catch and train your Pokémon so that you can compete in battles against other Trainers, in the hope of becoming a Pokémon Master.

Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version introduce a whole host of never-before-seen Pokémon characters. New Legendary Pokémon include Reshiram ( Pokémon Black Version) and Zekrom (Pokémon White Version).

 Pokémon Black and White DS/DSi versions contain two new battle systems, Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. In Triple Battles, both Trainers must send out three Pokémon at once.

 The position of your Pokémon in the Triple Battles arena has a direct impact on the type of attack that players can perform on the opposing team. For example, Pokémon on the left or right sides can only target the Pokémon directly opposite of them and the two Pokémon in the center position on both sides, while Pokémon in the center can target all Pokémon in the field.

Players can choose to change the position of their Pokémon during their turn, but they must then wait until their next turn to launch a new attack.

In Rotation Battles  both Trainers send out three Pokémon at once, again, but instead of a three-on-three match as seen in the Triple Battles, Players must endure a one-on-one match, whereby the Pokémon in the front can be switched with either of the two other Pokémon sent out without using up a turn.

Depending on the game version, one of these two new battle types will be found in greater quantity than the other; Black has more Rotation Battles than Triple Battles, whereas the White version features more Triple Battles than Rotation Battles. 

Further gameplay changes include The C-Gear , which allows the player to control the various wireless capabilities of Black and White, including any wireless battling, trading and friend codes, as well as the new Feeling Check function.

Another unique feature of Black and White is the Pokémon Dream World, which utilises the official Pokémon Global Link website where the player can befriend and capture Pokémon  normally unobtainable in the main gameplay.

Furthermore, the Dream World function also allows players to gain special Pokémon Abilities, which are then later captured in an area known as the Entralink  after syncing the game back with the Dream World.

Moreover, in a similar way to the HeartGold and SoulSilver Pokéwalker, players can also maintain a house in the Dream World that other players can visit.

Black and White have also introduced a seasonal cycle, however, the seasons are not linked to the real-life calendar, but automatically change every four months or so.

Outside areas will appear different depending on the season, such as changing of leaves in autumn, or snow on the ground in winter. Certain areas will only be accessible during certain seasons, and different Pokémon can be found in the wild in winter when others are only encountered in the other seasons.

The overall graphics have been enhanced in the new Pokémon Black and Pokémon White versions, and the game now features more cutscenes than in previous titles.

 Character speech has now been changed from scrolling text to speech bubbles, which are shown over the character's heads. This means that it is easier to talk to other characters and it also allows more characters to talk at the same time.

Overall, Pokémon Black and White is a very welcome addition to the series. The new features enhance gameplay and provides a lot of refreshing content for fans of the series to explore. If you've ever had the desire to ''Catch 'em all'', then this game is perfect for you. Overall rating: 10/10.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS: Midnight Openings Revealed!

Retail giant, Game Group PLC, has revealed the list of locations for its special midnight openings, which will occur on the night of Thursday 24th of March to celebrate the UK launch of the Nintendo 3DS console.

According to the Game website, over 100 of its participating stores will open their doors around 11.45pm. Nevertheless, it is possible that some shops may open earlier to help customers who are wanting to trade in their old DS/DSi consoles for a new 3DS. The shop tills will be open from midnight and will remain open for approximately one hour. Depending on the level of demand and the volume of the crowds, local  branch managers may choose to close  a store earlier or stay open longer than the aforementioned time.

The participating store locations can be found HERE.

Game is not the only retailer to offer Midnight Openings. The official 3DS UK launch venue is at HMV's flagship store at 150 Oxford Street, London. Nevertheless, HMV has yet to confirm whether any of its other local branches will be opening the doors at midnight as well.

Gamestation  has also followed suit with several of its highstreet stores and has prepared its own detailed list of Midnight Openings, details of which can be found by clicking HERE.

Whilst queuing up outside a busy highstreet shop late at night may not sound like most people's idea of fun, but a chance to be one of the first people to own one of the most impressive handheld consoles to date, is certainly an appealing one.

So, what do you think? Will you be attending one of the Midnight Openings in your area, or is it all too much bother?

Keep checking with Mini Gamers for news of more 3DS launch events. If you are a fan of the 3DS already, why not take a look at our new Quizzes page? It features a quiz specifically about Nintendo's new console.