VGA 101: New DS Aquisitions: Soma Bringer & ATV Wild Ride

new DS stuff

One is an awesome Japanese import action/RPG that’s very much Diablo inspired with an anime edge (and sadly was never localized into English – thanks, Nintendo for missing out on what would have been yet another a surefire hit new IP!).

The other is an amazing technical wonder in the form of a 60 frames per second racing game featuring those four-wheeled death machines some folks seem to love a wee bit too much. Thanks to Anthony Bourdain nearly killing himself when he fell off one that proceeded to roll over him as he tumbled down a sandy slope on an old episode of No Reservations, every time I see or think ATV, I get a good laugh going that takes a minute or two to subside… Continue reading

Review: The Croods Prehistoric Party (DS/3DS)

Croods DS_3DSPlatform: Nintendo DS/3DS

Developer: Torus Games

Publisher: D3Publisher of America

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site: (3DS) (DS)

Score: C (70%)

Like the Wii and Wii U versions, The Croods Prehistoric Party is a collection of 30 mini-games that range from pretty darn fun to slightly (and temporarily) baffling.  While colorful and lots of fun to play, both of the portable versions miss the golden opportunity to add any sort of multiplayer modes. In terms of design decisions on a handheld that has a number of fine multiplayer and party-themed games, this is actually a lot more baffling than that occasional mini-game you won’t get right away. As for how this is as a solo game, well, playing against the AI is at best, a bit too easy and at worst, way too easy once you find a few exploits too tempting to pass up… Continue reading

Young Justice: Legacy Gallery: Little Orbit & Freedom Factory Are Doing It Right For The Fans…

Fans of this freshly canceled (or hopefully just “on hiatus”) Cartoon Network show will have one really cool thing to comfort them in these desperate times: Young Justice Legacy is coming along REALLY nicely. While my overall impressions are embargoed for a few more days, I can safely say that fans of games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, X-Men Legends and yes, even Justice League Heroes should be pleased with what’s coming from Little Orbit and Freedom Factory. That trailer shows off an older build, as the HUD is now different (it’s in a corner now) and anything else you want to know will have to wait (sorry!). As for looks, the stylized 3D visuals mimic the show’s 2D art style well enough and I like that the dev team didn’t go for the overused cel-shading some probably wanted or expected.

Of course, the BIG question is will the game do so well at retail that the powers that be over at Cartoon Network and DC want to kick things back into production? That, dear reader… is all up to YOU. Petitions are groovy and all, but buying the game and telling as many friends with a PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, DS and 3DS (Hey! Where’s the Vita version?) as possible and making sure they also vote with their wallets is the best thing to do if you want to see something positive come from all this hard work. Hey, even if the show never gets a second chance on TV, I’d say the game deserves a solid sequel that addresses that cliffhanger finale, right?

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Young Justice: Legacy Cover Art Revealed: Revenge (of Sorts) Is Sweet…


Young Justice Legacy_coverOK, so the show is dead, killed off somewhat unceremoniously by Cartoon Network (the curse of poor ratings, most likely) but that’s not stopping the development on this game fans have been eagerly waiting for since it was announced. Here’s the official cover art for Young Justice Legacy, set to hit the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PC (and hopefully a few more platforms). Developer Freedom Factory is going all out to make sure its upcoming action/RPG is one those fans of the show will really get into and definitely make a day one purchase. It would be nice to see sales hit a fast high and sustain that for a bit so CN could reconsider its termination of the cartoon, but that’s a harder thing to do with a niche series no matter how much the most loyal fans shake their fists at their monitors and cable boxes.

As always, (yeah, repeat after me, folks): We Shall See…

The Croods: Prehistoric Party Hits Nintendo Systems: It’s Time to Get Seriously Stoned!


Hey! You thought I’d forgotten to post today, hmmm? Well, I was working on some reviews at the home office and then I went to a screening of Dreakworks’ latest CG animated flick, The Croods. It’s actually quite good and pretty hilarious with some fine performances overall. Nicholas Cage actually makes a MUCH better animated caveman in this film than he does in the last couple of movies he’s made (ha ha), the 3D is pretty cool and yep, there’s a message rolling throughout, so expect some dramatic points mixed in with all the fun.



Just in time for the film, D3Publisher of America is shipping out The Croods: Prehistoric Party for the Nintendo Wii U and Wii, as a collection of 30+ mini-games presented in a fun family board game format a la Mario Party. The 3DS and DS also get versions of this, but geared toward solo play action.

D3Publisher of America’s Holiday 2012 Lineup Is Mysteriously Free Of Bugs…


Hey D3! Nice family-friendly lineup you’ve got there. One teeny-tiny thing irks me, however. You know, TEASING viewers about Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (which comes out on February 12, 2013) in your otherwise fine Holiday Gift Guide YouTube video would have been a REALLY cool thing to do. Since you didn’t, I have an idea: cook up another of these videos for that game and post it, oh, I dunno BEFORE the end of this year (or at latest, at the beginning of 2013) just so people KNOW that the game is available as a pre-order from a few places. Look, the Vita is getting the crap kicked out of it by the 3DS and some games journalists who aren’t happy with some of Sony’s decisions. It needs any game that could be a potential hit (and system seller) to get as much notice as possible as early as possible. Sooooo, get ‘er done, I say! Take Two… ACTION!

Video Game Appreciation 101: New Additions – DS & PSP Stuff!

DS_PSP_stuffA few more games for the library, this time a few Match-3 puzzle games: Bejeweled 3, 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, 7 Wonders II and the recently reviewed Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2. On the PSP front, Taito Legends: Power-Up and The Chikyuu Boueigun 2 Portable (in English, that’s The Earth Defense Forces 2 Portable). Of the puzzle games, of course Bejeweled 3 is the master class in fun, accessibility and replay value, as the game hooks you right on in from the beginning and keeps you playing thanks to its wide variety of mini-games and rewards galore as you play. The music is pretty killer as well. The two 7 Wonders games show an interesting progression, as the sequel fixes some of the issues from the first game while also adding new content.

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“Retro” Review: The Dark Spire

The Dark SpirePlatform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Success

Publisher: Atlus

# of Players: 1

Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Official Site


Score: A (95%)

(Note: while I’m buried in a few other reviews and working on some new site stuff, here’s an old review to peruse. This previously “lost” review was written LONG before the PSN Wizardry games from XSEED and Wizardry Online were announced, but I decided not to alter anything mostly because I’m surprised this turned up in a folder packed with stuff I thought was gone for good – enjoy!)

Since no US publisher seems to even be thinking about reviving the classic Wizardry franchise anytime soon, Atlus has pretty much taken up the mantle of “publisher of Wizardry-like gameplay experiences” on the Nintendo DS. Some of you might be asking “Hey! what about that excellent 2001 PlayStation 2 game, Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, huh?” However, that game (great as it was) wasn’t at all related to the eight Sir-Tech PC games. Other than a few console remakes of the first seven games scattered over an assortment of Japanese consoles and a few handheld version the numerous Japanese-developed Wizardry games are their own bird (and yes, it would have been grand to see them localized in English), but that’s another subject for another time. Anyway, thanks to titles such as the two Etrian Odyssey games (which can be seen as spiritual successors to Sir-Tech’s original games) and now The Dark Spire, developed by Success, Atlus will absolutely make you do a happy dance if you love your RPGs old-school tough yet completely user-friendly.

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Young Justice: Legacy Teaser: It’s Getting Closer…

Finally (after a wee bit too long and quiet time), here’s a cool short teaser for the upcoming Young Justice: Legacy game, set to hit home and portable consoles in 2013. Thanks, Little Orbit! OK, that’s one more game to keep an eyeball peeled for next year. If you feel like reading some insider stuff about the game, boogie on over here and here for some posts that are pretty informative about what goes into making a game like this come to life. Naturally, the big fat question for many fans remains just how good it’s going to be. Then again, given that it’s an action/RPG and there’s a nice pedigree behind the product in progress, I think the Little League (a ha ha) is in fine hands indeed. Now, let’s see an all gameplay trailer next time!

Review: Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2

Platform: Nintendo DS (also on Nintendo 3DS)

Developer: Cerasus Media

Publisher: Rising Star Games

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

Score: B (80%)

Match-3 puzzle games have a certain healthy reliability to them and while it adds a few new twists to the formula, Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 is a pretty solid budget game for entry level to veteran genre fans. While it’s not packing fancy HD visuals or flashy special effects, there’s a nicely addictive feel to the gameplay that makes for a game worth replaying multiple times. Featuring three game modes, 100 levels and an interesting resource gathering mechanic that really needs to be expanded on in any future games in this series, CoE2 makes foe a rather cool gift for puzzle fans of any age.

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