Nanoreviews: games


Geist: Cool game that starts out as a first-person shooter, but then turns into something much more interesting. You, a ghost, get to possess people, animals and objects. This makes for some pretty complex puzzles, where you have to take control of something or someone and use its special powers to get ahead in the game. For example, you can possess a telephone or a trashcan to scare someone, after which it becomes possible to possess *them*, and move around, open doors, use their weapons, etc. Recommended if you like something different. ^_^

Lord of the Rings: The Third Age: Turn-based RPG set in (Peter Jackson's interpretation of) the world of LotR. Quite good. You know a game has something special if you tell yourself to stop "at the next save point", but keep going instead. Not overly simple, but it's easy to get started nonetheless. Recommended.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Much like the GBA Fire Emblems. Would be as good if it wasn't for the fact that battles can easily take an hour or more, during which the game cannot be saved. As such, everything gets too long in the tooth. Should be better in 10 years or so when we can play it on Gamecube emulators and save whenever we want. ;-)

Nintendo DS

Children of Mana: A dungeon crawler game. Cool if you like this kind of stuff. It's kind of like Nethack, with better graphics and dialogue, but less sophisticated. At first there's considerable variety in monsters and obstacles, but eventually it gets long in the tooth, since you have to revisit the same worlds over and over again (although the dungeons will be different each time). Story is decent but neither original nor very deep. Still, an enjoyable game to kill some time.

Phoenix Wright: And justice for all: If you liked the first Phoenix Wright game, you'll like this one. It's just more of the same. That's not to say that the sequel isn't worth playing. Quite the opposite. It has some seriously weird cases (especially the last one), where you think, "there's no way the accused is going to get out of this"... and yet you can pull it off. ^_^ A new feature is the so-called psyche-lock; this appears on people who are lying or refusing to tell you the truth. You can break the locks by presenting evidence, much like in court. When all the locks are broken, they will tell you the truth, which is often crucial for progress. Highly recommended.

Lost Magic: Innovative RPG-like game. You cast spells by drawing mystic runes with your stylus. Unfortunately, you'll often run out of mana, rendering your character helpless. Also, casting a spell doesn't pause the game, which makes you vulnerable to attacks and forces you to draw quickly and often. These two problems make the game much less enjoyable and playable than it could have been, IMHO.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime: Brilliant little game. Think Zelda meets Unicorn Jelly. You take on the role of a "slime" and set out on a quest to rescue 100 other slimes from the evil platiosi. Your actions are limited: move around, break things or knock them over, possibly catching them on your head and throwing them off later. This is how you rescue townsfolk and collect monsters and items. Plus, you get to reuse objects you collected in hilarious tank battles. These don't require a lot of strategy, but are fun: basically you pelt your opponent with "stuff" (anything goes here, pretty much) until his tank's HP reaches zero, then you go and finish off his engine. There's lots of little twists and choices that make the game highly replayable. Recommended!


Hoshigami: This could have been a good game, but it's frightfully hard. Tactical RPG that looks and works a bit like Disgaea, but it's much less playable. I personally like games where the first levels or stages double as a tutorial so the player can get the hang of things. This is not such a game. Instead, there's a separate tutorial, which is a must-read, since just starting the game and hoping that you will figure things out along the way will not work. Question is why you would want to bother mastering all the complex rules, since they don't add very much to the gameplay. Not recommended, unless you like micro-management and difficult battle tactics.


Mercury Meltdown: Unusual game that reminds me of Marble Madness. You control a blob of mercury. The goal is simple: in each level, lead the blob to the exit. Doing this correctly or optimally, however, is anything but simple. Besides all kinds of obstacles and traps, there are also puzzles that must be solved by making the mercury change color. (Which is extra hard for somebody who is colorblind, aside...) This is what makes Mercury Meltdown part thinking game. Often, you have to split the blob into separate parts, give them different colors, and add them again, to get the desired target color (which would, for example, unlock a gate). Nifty.

Gameboy Advance

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Much the same as the first Fire Emblem. I personally love these games. ^_^ They're tactical RPGs with a strong storyline. Basically you take a main character (or two, in this case) through a number of quests. Most quests are of the type "defeat all enemies on a map", collecting loot and recruiting new party members as the story unfolds. Acquiring more powerful weapons, and leveling up your characters, is all there, but has less of an emphasis than most other RPGs. Execution is great, and most levels require some strategical thinking, if only because you don't want to lose crucial characters. Pet peeve: You can't save during battles. Aside from that, I could probably play this all day. ;-)