Posts in category 'reviews'

  • Trip 2, Fini

    Well, trip number two has come to a close, this time a jaunt out to Regina for some mom-time with Linda! As usual, food was abundant, as was amusement (and slightly hurt feelings :) with the copy of Ticket To Ride that we purchased and hauled along. Among other things that were accomplished, I:

    1. Proved to myself that my knitting needles (as previously mentioned) would easily get through airport security (they didn’t even register on the X-Ray, so far as I know).
    2. As a result of 1, half-finished Lenore’s new hat. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn, as I neglected to bring a second ball.
    3. Finished reading “Red_Mars”, a rather largish tome by Kim Stanley Robinson which details the terraforming of Mars.
    4. Learned how to make Cabbage Rolls! Linda is an excellent tutor. :)
    5. Started reading “Robots and Empire”, by the legendary Isaac Asimov.

    And on the topic of Red Mars, a mini review. In short, it’s a massive vision, incredibly detailed and realistic. Characterization is good, though the dialog a little unbelievable at times. The plot can be a bit ponderous, and Robinson seems to relish showing off his knowledge of Mars topography, going on for pages describing the Martian landscape. The discussion of the sociological impacts of Martian colonization are quite fascinating, particularly in conjunction with new technologies that are invented in the course of the story.

    In short, highly recommended for anyone into hard science fiction and who can stand a healthy dose of Tolkein-esque verbosity.

  • Don't Buy A DS or A Tetris DS Review!

    So, I’ve been an owner of a Nintendo DS since shortly after the device launched. I picked it up originally because I planned to hack code for it… the idea of a cheap device with a touch screen and wireless really sparked my imagination. But, thanks in part to the original launch game, Super Mario 64 DS, which was just so much damned fun, I’ve found myself actually playing games on the thing.

    So, why would I advise you not to buy a DS? Simple! Because, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist the desire buy new games. Since I picked up my DS, I’ve bought:

    1. Super Mario 64 DS
    2. Warioware: Touched
    3. Advanced Wars DS
    4. Meteos
    5. Mariokart DS

    And now, Tetris DS. And I don’t play my DS that much! Incidentally, of that list, Touched is probably the main one I regret, followed by Meteos. Touched just doesn’t have much depth (I finished it pretty fast, and there’s little replay value) and Meteos, while fun, hasn’t captured my imagination. It’s also a bit confusing. :)

    Anyway on to Tetris DS. I gotta say, if you’re a casual gamer, and in particular, a casual gamer who grew up during the 8-bit console era, this game is, IMHO, a must-have. As a Tetris rendition, it’s pretty damned good, and reasonably faithful to the gameplay we all remember. About the only thing that bothers me is the inheritance of the infinite spin “feature” from Tetris Worlds, where you can continually spin a piece and move it around, even though it’s landed on the tableau.

    In addition to the standard modes, the game also provides a variety of puzzle modes, versus modes, and a rather odd Catch mode. Of the new modes, I gotta say Push mode is the coolest. It’s basically a Tetris tug-of-war, and brings about some interesting new game mechanics. This mode can be played against the CPU, where the difficulty can be tuned from fairly easy to frustratingly difficult, or against people head-to-head or over the Internet.

    Speaking of which, the head-to-head modes are very well executed. In a local Wi-Fi enabled game, you can have up to 10 players playing using a single cart, with various options available to adjust gameplay. Of course, you can also play online against people on Nintendo’s network. Unfortunately, the gameplay options are more limited, here: 2-player in Standard or Push mode, or 4 players in Standard mode. Still, online play is very well polished, as with Mario Kart DS.

    But the best part for a retrogamer like myself has gotta be the soundtrack and visual themes for the game. For example, in Standard mode, you’ll recognize the music as remixes from Super Mario 1, 3, Link, and Metroid. Moreover, on the top screen, a demo of the game in question is played, and as you approach the next Tetris level, the character progresses through the game level (eg, world 1-1 of Super Mario Bros.). Quite clever! The other modes are themed differently. For example, Catch mode is based on Metroid and Push mode has a Donkey Kong theme.

    Of course, if one isn’t a retrogamer, or (god forbid) you’re too old to remember the good ol’ 8-bit days, you might find this all quite annoying. But I love it!

    So, in summary, I’d give this new Tetris rendition an 8. I just hope Nintendo could stop releasing such good games at reasonable prices, because, apparently, I’m unable to control myself…