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December 26, 2014

Rock Band 3 DS (Part 3)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here!

Hello again! Welcome back to the year-end concert on Planned All Along! We've got plenty of famous bands – even some that have ended years ago – to play for you today! Oh, and there's a review of Rock Band 3 DS in the mix. With a lengthy explanation of the story in the game. Where were we at, exactly? Oh, right! Hardcover, our fictional band, had completed three tours around Canada and the U.S. aboard their bus, and now they were ready to go International! They're gonna get free from the vines restraining them to the American continent!

Oh yeah, have I mentioned I was trying to fit the title and band of every song in the paragraphs I write? It's a lot harder than you think! What kind of misery business did I get myself into? I'm doing all this par amour (paramore) of music and reviewing in general... why? Why? Even that last pun was kinda lame!

December 24, 2014

Vlog 5: Cons, Eyes, Magic and Music!

Today, I discuss four games I reviewed in December 2013. I also wear a funny hat with lights and do some kind of magic trick. I was never really talented with magic anyway.

December 23, 2014


Eeyup. Thanks everyone for 80,000 views!

(In 2013, I ended the year at about 4,500 views. That means I got over 75,000 views this year! And it's still not over!)

December 22, 2014

Rock Band 3 DS (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here!

Hello everyone! Welcome back to this (sadly non-)musical review of Rock Band 3, on the Nintendo DS! I don't mind so much the fact that I couldn't make it into a musical review after all, because I love music nonetheless. My MP3 player (yes. still got one) is almost full. And we're talking 4 gigabytes here! ...What the Hell do you mean, that's not impressive?

Anyway, even if my talent in this type of game is limited, I'll always have a fondness for Guitar Hero-type games. What can I say? I can just agree with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It's stronger than me, really; I can't help it. I love rock'n'roll. And metal, and prog metal, and prog rock, and psych rock, and comedy rock, and field rocks... Oh wait, scratch that last one.

So, last week, I stopped just as I was getting around to discuss the “Story Mode”, in which your band does a few tours, upgrades their vehicle, makes a few more tours, upgrades again... When you're on a tour, you can't allow yourself to screw up on a song. Hate to paraphrase bands, but as INXS once said in a song, every night you perform, the people in the audience need you tonight at your best. Don't mess it up. Thankfully it's just a game, so you don't have the pressure of playing real music. But at the very least, you have to try playing music the best you can. Still aim to hit every note! Get 100% on every instrument! Ace that darn song!

And if you do, the public will give you their approval in spades.

December 19, 2014

Rock Band 3 DS (Part 1)

Hello, and welcome to the final review of 2014 on Planned All Along! ...What do you mean, I'm one week too early to say that? Just wait, this review is pretty long. How can I top last year's Just Dance 3 review, entirely made in rhyme?

I can't, and I won't. Yeah, I decided not to do a review on the style of what I did last year. The reasons are... personal. My real life has been rather hectic, so I decided that instead of making things even more complicated for me, I'd just make a regular review and put all the songs from the game around the text.

Anyway, better start now. Do you like rhythm games? I'm not talking DDR or Just Dance, here. I'm not talking about games that demand a lot of energy. Or am I? If you've played an instrument, you know it can get quite physical. Think about your favorite guitarist, and then tell yourself he/she has to hold that guitar and keep playing for a few minutes. For your enjoyment, sure. But it takes some training. Heck, imagine how much energy a drummer needs! No wonder some of them are hyperactive wackos! They need all that energy!

Since music is an important part of our lives (seriously, try to calculate the number of times I've made musical references on the blog – there's a LOT), some game companies soon had the idea of a musical game that involved guitar-shaped controllers with buttons on the handle. For those who haven't guessed yet, I'm talking about Guitar Hero.

Yeah, yeah. Despite the cost of these games (due in no small part to the price of the mock-guitar), the Guitar Hero franchise has known a massive success. First developed by Harmonix, and later by Neversoft and Activision, the game is simple: You follow the series of notes (AKA "frets") on the screen by hitting the colored buttons on the guitar while strumming, and activate a bonus every once in a while to rack up your score. Fair enough. Plus, the large majority of the songs are actual rock songs, whether they're classics, recent successes, songs that aren't that well-known, or covers. Heck, it expanded to include genres outside of rock.

Sadly, the series has been rather... dead since 2010. However, Harmonix hadn't spoken its last words. In 2007, they released Rock Band, which was Guitar Hero (almost) taken to its logical extreme. Now, you can play just about any part of the band, from the main guitar to bass to drums to even the freaking vocal track. But one thing remains: These frets, the need for a perfect rhythm, and the fact that you're leading just a cover band that can't make its own damn music. Today, I'm looking at Rock Band 3... But not any version. I'm looking at the Nintendo DS version.

How can there be a Nintendo DS version of a game like this?” You ask me. “Aren't these games all about pretending you're really playing music?” You're right, but at the same time, as I've learned recently, money is money, and to many companies, more money is always welcome. Besides, multi-platform ports of the same game are rather common. The true question is rather: How do you adapt this concept to a handheld console? Guitar Hero succeeded by having a fret controller plugged right into the GBA slot of the first Nintendo DS (which also means you can't play that game with a Nintendo 3DS - Whoops). Here? Let me explain.

December 13, 2014

Yet Another Updated List Of Games

I bought a lot of games in the past months, so I decided to make another post to show the new games I got since August. (Also includes the very small list of games I reviewed that I don't have... and a special mention for the one game I decided not to keep.)

As usual, you can access all of the reviewed games' reviews through the site's Archive page.

Games reviewed so far: Crash & Spyro Superpack, Mario Pinball Land, Pokémon FireRed, Garfield: The Search for Pooky, The Simpsons: Road Rage, Rayman: Hoodlum's Revenge, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards

Games reviewed so far: Big Brain Academy, Desktop Tower Defense, Thrillville: Off The Rails, Midnight Play Pack, Purr Pals, Flash Focus, Master of Illusion, The Simpsons Game, Puzzler Collection, Cartoon Network Racing, WarioWare: Touched!, Scribblenauts, New Super Mario Bros., WarioWare: D.I.Y..
Games still to be reviewed:
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Fossil Fighters
Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars
Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Mario Kart DS
Mario Party DS
Picross 3D
Pokémon HeartGold
Pokémon White
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Rock Band 3
Super Mario 64 DS
Super Scribblenauts
Rhythm Heaven (NEW!!)

Games reviewed so far: Castle of Shikigami III, How To Train Your Dragon, Wii Sports, Wii Music, Just Dance 3, Kirby's Epic Yarn, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (Wii)
Games still to be reviewed:
Fishing Master World Tour
Mario Super Sluggers
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Rayman Raving Rabbids
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party
Rise of the Guardians (NEW!!)
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sonic Colors
Sonic Unleashed
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Paper Mario
Wii Sports Resort
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS: Duel Transer
Just Dance 2015 (NEW!!)
Muramasa the Demon Blade (NEW!!)
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (NEW!!)

Games reviewed so far: Super Contra, Pokémon Snap, Final Fantasy, Mario Party 2, StarTropics
Games still to be reviewed:
Kirby and the Crystal Shards
The Legend of Zelda; A Link To The Past
Mega Man
Paper Mario
Super Mario RPG
Super Mario World

Games reviewed so far: Yard Sale: Hidden Treasures Sunnyville, Pokémon Rumble, Reed Fishing: Ocean Challenge, Bit Boy, Pop-Up Pursuit, WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase
Games still to be reviewed:
Deer Drive Legends
Play With Birds
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

Bugs Bunny: Lost In Time, Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (DS)

Demos still to be reviewed from the Wii Shop Channel: ThruSpace, lilt line, Crazy Racers, Urbanix, Pong Toss Pro, MotoHeroz, LIT, Jett Rocket, Gods VS Humans, Cave Story, Dive, and yet it moves, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as A Dark Lord, BIT.TRIP VOID, BIT.TRIP FATE, Chronos Twins DX, chick chick BOOM, Dart Rage, BIT.TRIP FLUX, Fast Draw Showdown, Aya the Cubes of Light.


December 12, 2014

WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase

This review of the WiiWare game WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase is a follow-up to my review of WarioWare: D.I.Y., which you can read here, here and here.

Here it is, the final part of this mega-review of WarioWare: D.I.Y. and its WiiWare tie-in, Showcase! For those who didn't read the last three posts, this WarioWare game is all about creating your own content and sharing it with other people. One way to do this is from your DS to a friend's DS. A now-defunct way was to use Friend Codes, a feature called the Warehouse, and the possibility to share with people you had never met in your life. The final way to share your games, records or comics? Transfer them to this WiiWare game, which was made just for that.

No, really. All in all, WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase is just that: An additional sharing tool that also lets you play your microgames on the big screen in your living room! Plus, you will not need an Internet connection to send stuff from your DS to your Wii! It also serves as an expansion to the plot shown in WarioWare: D.I.Y..

It even looks like it's smiling!
In case you don't remember: After a bad dream that involved video game creatures coming out of their world and attacking him (Geez, that sounds an awful lot familiar, doesn't it?), Dr. Crygor makes a machine called the Super MakerMatic 21, which can be used to make microgames, records and comics. Wario instantly smells jackpot (with his big nose, he can also smell truffles, illegal merchandises in suitcases, or the overly-smelly Ax body spray a mile away). He immediately orders the machine be mass-produced. Meanwhile, many of his employees have left WarioWare to create Diamond Software, all because of Wario's greedy ways. As a result, Wario hires the player to make games for him. Quite literally; he doesn't pay you. In fact, all the remaining employees of WarioWare seem absent from the DS game. They created their own company, Diamond Software, probably as revenge since Wario took all the credit for their creations.

Oh, but no worries. Wario seems to have moved his base of operations on an island. Why? No reason. The guy's just a jerk, and he's bitter towards his employees. This doesn't seem to have caused much friction; the only real broken friendship is that of 9-Volt and his ex-buddy 18-Volt; 9-Volt left for Diamond Software, while 18-Volt stayed behind to work for Wario, along with Kat, Ana, Dribble and Spitz. As such, there are four stages in Showcase, a total of 72 new microgames that you can send to your DS. That's awesome? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

December 10, 2014

Planned All Along Vlog 3: Pokémon, Theme Months, and more!

In this vlog, I discuss many things: My admiration for Pokémon, the games I bought after I returned Anubis II to the store, the difficulties of keeping a tight reviewing schedule while being a university student... and more!

December 8, 2014

WarioWare: D.I.Y. (Part 3)

Thanks everyone! Planned All Along has officially reached 70,000 views!

Read Part 1 of this review here and Part 2 here.

So much stuff to do... Oh, hello again! Today, we finish discussing one of the WarioWare games with the best gimmick of all: You make your own microgames! In the past posts, I took a good look at the Tutorials, the Studio and the Shop. We're getting close to the end of this review of the DS game. This Friday, I will discuss the WiiWare game that “completes” WarioWare D.I.Y., titled Showcase. But for now, we still have to check the Distribution Center and the Option Garage. Shouldn't be too long, right?

A center that looks like a pile of cheap carton boxes.
...Makes sense to me!
When you enter the Distribution Center (which I won't shorten to DC even though you can manufacture comics), you get three options: Wii, DS or WFC. When you select Wii, the game will seek out any nearby Wii on which WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase is being played. From there on, you're allowed to ship games, records or comics. There are shelves in Showcase, which can contain up to 72 items each. If you want to fill everything, you need to create no less than 162 items for each section! That is a LOT.

All you have to do is select the item you want to send (one at a time – yeah, it sucks. What do you want to do, nothing's perfect), then send it. You'll see a diver sending a package to the little island in WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase. ...Oh yeah, it's an island. I forgot to mention that? No worries, I will explain in greater detail in the next post. You can also receive stuff from Showcase. As if that wasn't enough, you are not limited to one WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase to send the products to, either. You can ship your products to any D.I.Y. Showcase around. That's pretty cool. A friend of yours could buy the WiiWare game and then you could send him/her most of the games you've created. Oh, and the records and comics, too.

Which kind of genius builds a game company on a FRIGGIN' ISLAND?
The stupid kind, that's which.

As for a trade between 2 DS, obviously both consoles need to have WarioWare D.I.Y.. And while one is the host, the others will join the group for trading. ...If you've ever played a wireless multiplayer DS game, you know the drill. As I said earlier, I never got a chance to try that, which is pretty sad... Though I imagine it's fun.

Then there's the Wi-Fi Connection portion, which contains a few more options. First of all, like many DS games, you could input Friend Codes. When you connected to the Warehouse, it was them possible for you to get the games, records and comics released by the owners of those friend codes. (Note how everything was in the past tense for this paragraph. Take a guess why...) There's also a place to check your WFC Settings.

The other sections include the Warehouse, in which you could store some games, records and comics you've made. People with your Friend Code could then log on to your Warehouse and download the stuff you've made available. That's a pretty neat feature, considering it saves the trouble of connecting to every single person, one by one, to send the same items. You could also pick up the products created by those who gave you their Friend Code.

I just went around gaming forums and included in my game all of the WarioWare D.I.Y. Friend Codes I could find. What? I needed them for some missions! You can say it's an easy excuse and... yeah, it is. Whatever. I never got a chance to truly experiment with the Wi-Fi Connection! Heck, when I bought the game, a lot of gamers had stopped using it anyway! (Again, we have the Pokémon Trade Rule: Only Pokémon is a game famous enough that you'll pretty much always find someone to trade stuff with. Any other game will have much smaller odds of a trade happening, if ever.)

The final section is called the NinSoft Store. It's in there that you could access a design challenge. These Challenges took place in North America between March 28th, 2010 and April 6th, 2011. There were 17 contests in America, while there were 32 in Japan and 15 in Europe. All contests were themed: Sports, Creatures, the four seasons, cute stuff... and so on. The reward for each contests winner? His/her game was featured in the NinSoft Store and could be downloaded by anyone. Again, the WFC was shut down for the DS, so...

This game here was made by Masahiro Sakurai.
It's REALLY hard. Personally, I dislike it.
Another cool thing in the NinSoft Store: There's a section with even more microgames that could be downloaded. For a while, there were 2 new microgames per week with releases starting on March 29, 2010 and ending on March 7, 2011 (for North America, of course). As a result, over a hundred microgames were released. Oh, but wait, that's still not all! There was a section called Big Name Games. Each region had a different set of Big Name Games. The particularity of those is that these microgames were all made by people from the gaming industry, either journalists, mangakas, developers, and so on. Even Masahiro Sakurai made one! They even got some developers outside of Nintendo's main offices (but from companies that released games for Nintendo consoles, especially for the WiiWare). A few examples of developers who made a microgame: Ron Carmel (2D Boy, World of Goo), Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story), Alex Neuse (The BIT.TRIP Series), Matt Bozon (Shantae, A Boy and His Blob Wii), Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy, Gish), Todd Lewis (Scribblenauts, Lock's Quest), Bo Strandby (Max & the Magic Marker), Manfred Linzer (Jett Rocket) and Felix Bohatsch (And Yet It Moves). You'll notice many of those titles are available in the WiiWare section of the Wii Shop Channel, and I covered some of these games' demos in my Demo Reviews series. I've been plugging lots of people in the last paragraph, I guessed I was better off plugging myself too.

There was also a great amount of Big Name designers for Japan, and a much smaller number of the European release of WarioWare D.I.Y.. I downloaded a few of these games back when I could access the WFC, but even then, I couldn't download too many; my games shelf was almost full at the time. Scratch that; it WAS full. I had to delete the microgames I made that I didn't like in order to add any of those to my shelves.

Now, the final part of the game: The Options menu! There are only six options, so let's get this over with.
-Change your in-game name (for free!);
-Change your microgame enterprise's name;
-Change the sound settings;
-Test the microphone (even though its only use is the Humming mode in Record-making);
-Delete all your data. This includes all the medals you've collected, all the scores you've achieved in the Game Blender, all the microgames, records and comics you've made. Seriously, you'll spend dozens of hours playing this game, I don't think you want to erase your entire save file unless you make a serious mistake;
-View the credits. Yeah, there's no ending to this game, so there's no other way to view those. The credits are arranged as a microgame in which you must destroy UFOs located above the developers' names. Pretty fun. As it progresses, the ships start moving or changing in size. When you get to Satoru Iwata's credit, you have to defeat a larger ship with a core made of a nose. Ah, I knew it was weird! A WarioWare game without a nose minigame? That's unheard of!

And that covers everything, I guess. There's nothing else to add... Unless...

Objects appear or disappear when
her nose twitches.
Oh, I know! I think I'll cover the characters' stories in the D.I.Y. Shop's Game Blender! As usual for WarioWare games, each developer has a “storyline” with his/her microgames. It's not always a complex story (if you want examples, check my preceding review of WarioWare: Touched). Here are the five storylines.
-Mona becomes a temple explorer and ventures inside a temple with Manager Joe, her... manager, who has become her cameraman for this adventure. Huh. When you lose, Mona and Joe run out of the temple. (As usual, she has strange games.)
-Jimmy T. now has an aerobics show and trains with women. We see him from behind, and I swear, he reminds me of pre-1999 Weird Al Yankovic, except with blue hair and an exaggerated afro. Also, the music during that level is pretty fun. (He specializes in sport games, in case it wasn't obvious.)
-Ashley is just looking at the moonlight. ...Yeah, that's all. I thought she was gonna make a potion or something. Nope, just looking at the moon. (Also, all her microgames are about food. Yum?)
-Orbulon was flying around in his piggy ship when he gets hit by thunder (again????) and falls into a spaceship about to launch. With his head still poking out. The ship launches and he has to find a way to get out. (All of his games revolve around intelligence. He claims he has an IQ of 300; why doesn't he make his piggy ship thunder-proof??? It's the second time – that we know of – that it gets stricken by thunder!)
-9-Volt is still a huge Nintendo nerd. He made a game resembling the first Super Mario Bros.'s graphics, except he is the main character and he's on his skateboard. Each microgame you win lets him go a little further. (As always, his games are bout Nintendo classics.) By the way, he has split up with 18-Volt.
Also to note: Each stage has a Boss microgame which you cannot access in the Shop. Because they're too long, I guess. These can't be viewed in the MakerMatic.


And... yeah, I guess that's all I had to talk about. Time for the final thoughts, then?

Laugh all you want, but Penny is a
great teacher for microgames class.
This game is very good. Games that require creativity are always a lot of fun, if only because they give the tools required to make whatever it is they want you to make. I used to have a game-making program for my computer. It doesn't work anymore, technology marches on, but it was fun to make my own stuff (though depending on the amount of effort I put into it, the game was either meh or plain awful). Here, you're limited to microgames, but you literally create everything: The graphics, the music, the background, the programming. You can do anything, as long as it fits in 8 seconds or within the limit of the number of objects. Being given full creative freedom over those tiny projects is great, and it might spark an interest in game development among many gamers who never thought they'd have any talent.

And the Tutorials do a mighty fine job at telling us what we need to know. Once you've completed all the Tutorials, you're set and ready to make your own games. There's still some things that you'll need to learn (after all, practice makes pudding- Perfect. I meant Perfect), but in the end, Penny's tutorials and the 32 lessons from the Assembly Dojo are more than enough. There are lessons among those that you'll hardly ever use. Personally, I'm a big fan of randomness switches that change how the game is played depending on which switch is on and which is off. It's a really cool feature. Removing such a feature would take away a lot of the fun of game-making.

The graphics also take some time getting used to, but after a while you learn to live with the limitations (The biggest objects you can create are 32X32 pixels, each object's phase has a maximum of four pictures, and each object has a maximum of four different such animations). The drawing canvas reminds of Mario Paint and is very easy to use. Plus, you can create your own color palettes to give some of your creations a special style. It's all pretty fun.

The only problem is that the only commands you can input in the microgames you create involve tapping the screen (no sliding the stylus, no rubbing, no blowing in the microphone... nothing except tapping). Yeah, I would say it decreases the amount of things that can be done, but at the same time, game-making is already very complex as it is, and it would be even more complicated if there were different types of commands for the games you create. This really is a WarioWare-style "Game Programming For Dummies"; it would be too difficult to add more command styles. I'm happy with what we got.

While I absolutely love the game maker, I'm not a fan of the music and comic makers. I love music, but I suck at making music. There are ways to make good songs (and the 90 songs made by developers are good examples), but there are other problems with the music: There are 40 instruments and 8 sets of drums, but none of those can be tuned so you'll get the sound you really want. As an example, the electric guitar always sounds the same. Your creativity is a lot more limited with this. Thankfully, you can just import full songs from the D.I.Y. Shop and edit them. But making a fully original song? Tough luck. (I remixed Orbulon's Boss Time song and the result was damn awesome, though. Here's the original.)

Wish it was. I'm kinda broke.
Same for comics. I really dislike making comics for this game. A maximum of 4 panels, solely black and white (not even gray! It's lacking GRAY!), with nothing but you and your drawing tools. Oh, and a whole bunch of stamps (speech bubbles, simple symbols, some slightly more complex environment pictures, and then a B&W sprite of every WarioWare developer so far). Even with all those, your creativity is still very limited. You probably can't do as well as some of the comics made by official artists. So yeah, a huge fan of the Game MakerMatic, not a big fan of the Record MakerMatic, and I hate the Comic MakerMatic. My bad. Thankfully the existing comics are pretty funny.

On to my other points of criticism: The shop charts are really random. Like I said in Part 2 of this review, the established developers will always rack in the sales, while you will take a while to get "popular" by the in-game standards. If you try really hard, you could wind up selling more, but even then it's unlikely. The result is a flawed system that doesn't work quite right. The sales of most microgames will stop after a couple days, too; there will even be a point when you don't sell anything anymore. I would have preferred some realism on that side, but eh, they already implemented that thing even though they had no reason to, so I guess I can't complain that we have more than we were asking for.

Now, the medals. Many of those are fun and easy to get, and then there are some that are very difficult. Spending 40 hours with the Game MakerMatic? Sure, after 90 games you'll have reached that. Doing the same, or even half of that, with the Record or Comic MakerMatic is more difficult, especially if you have less talent in those two. Then there's all the medals that require you to ship products to another friend's DS game (hard to do if you don't have friends with the game) or D.I.Y. Showcase, on the Wii (already simpler, as you can do it all by yourself if you own both a DS and a Wii). Then there's the medals that require getting into the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Those medals are lost forever. Don't get me started on the three medals that demand you enter a design contest! Urgh. ...It's still possible to get all the music from Diamond Records, but it's a pain nonetheless.

As for the Distribution Center, it lost a big part of its appeal when the connection was terminated in May 2014. So many microgames that we can't download ever again! That's sad. Also, it means that now you must seek out someone else with a Nintendo DS and this game. Thankfully, the DS-to-DS option and the DS-to-Wii options aren't closed, so there's still a possibility to share. That's alright. The challenge is to find someone who owns WarioWare D.I.Y..

One of Mona's games.
No fair, it looks better than mine!
Overall, a solid game for creative spirits. For whoever likes microgames, too. It is definitely fun. Sure, it's got problems, all the problems I described in the preceding paragraphs. What doesn't? Thankfully, the material given to you compensates, maybe not in entirety, but in good part, that's for sure. Love the music in Diamond Records, love the microgames that I've played and the ones I've made. Games like these really help one become more creative. It's also great to learn some bits of programming, and to learn to solve problems at the same time. All in all, a good game. If you want to make your own things, buy it. But don't expect to be able to trade much.

Talking about trades, now I have to discuss WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase, the companion WiiWare title with which you can share games, records and comics. I covered almost everything in the past three parts, so I guess I have very little left to say. Still, it has to be done, so tune in next time. It's Showtime! ...Wait, I meant to say Showcase. Oh well. Bye!

December 5, 2014

WarioWare: D.I.Y. (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here!

Hello, and welcome back to this review of WaroWare: Do It Yourself! In which you... do your games yourself. Yeah. We've got a game that requires creativity here! Oh, the horror!

So, we've been through the tutorials, then we saw Wario's jobs, and then we met Mantis and Cricket in the Assembly Dojo. Now, we see what happens next... That is, when you start creating. Once you're ready, head to the D.I.Y. Studio.

Or... just tap it with the stylus and then tap OK, that works too.

In the Studio, there are three options: The Super MakerMatic 21, the D.I.Y. Forum, and the D.I.Y. Data. The Super MakerMatic is where you'll make all your microgames, records and comics. It's where you go to create. I mean, this is the studio, right? This is where you create, right? Well, yeah, obviously.

Oh hey, an old computer!
Aside from this machine, there's a computer on which you can access the D.I.Y. Forums. Before you ask, no, these are not real forums. A bunch of in-game developers got together on a forum to discuss game-making techniques. Some of the threads are funny, others are just meh. However, many of the threads actually give some pretty cool advice. Heck, some of that advice is not given to you in the Assembly Dojo! One new thread appears every day starting when you begin the game. What I find funny about this feature is that every developer has a personality, even though they're just forum names and avatars. There's AAAaaah, who keeps screaming in rage at the difficulties of game-making, blobmob really likes to say “lol”, KAGE always hands out useful advice, D.I.Why stats off saying smart stuff but devolves after some point to trolling, Javier gives out helpful advice but he's got Phonee, a forum stalker constantly praising him, yogaguy approaches game-making (and forum-posting) wisely, there is a trio of users who almost always talk about WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase for the Wii...

November 28, 2014

WarioWare D.I.Y. (Part 1)

I think I said last week that I could do better than what Data Design Interactive released, a bad game called Anubis II. I think calling it a game is still giving it too much credit.

so bad that I could probably do better alone with a video game design software found at a flea market.”

...Okay, probably not a “flea market” game, but one thing's certain: I can do better. Thanks to WarioWare: Do It Yourself. The game is a smart combination: A game maker, a long series of fun tutorials, design challenges, medals, collectibles and endless possibilities of sharing with other people. ...Okay, not anymore; the DS and Wii servers closed earlier this year, but you can still trade between two Nintendo DS as long as both players are in the same room and have the game. You can also trade with a WiiWare game called WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase, which I will look at right after this review.

Say hello again to Wario and his company, WarioWare- Wait. WarioWare has split? Really? Oh. I'm sorry. Some of the employees (to be precise, Mona, Jimmy T, Ashley, Orbulon and 9-Volt) left the company and started their own, called Diamond Software. Guess they were tired of Wario's greedy ways. Oh, don't worry, they'll be back with WarioWare by the next game; but until then, we've got all sorts of problems. 9-Volt and his friend 18-Volt have split up (18-Volt stayed at WarioWare along with Dribble, Spitz, Kat and Ana and, obviously, Wario). Now, whether Diamond Software is doing better than their competitor isn't clear. But one thing's sure: WarioWare needs new developers. Thus, Wario turns to the gamers who bought his games. For that occasion, Dr. Crygor has invented the Super MakerMatic 21, which can let just about anyone make their own microgames, but also their own songs and comics! That's the story in a nutshell.

November 26, 2014

Vlog 2: Me, my site, my music

A second vlog about the history of the site! Next week: Poké-Month, keeping a theme during a whole month, and the hardships of working on a site while doing university classes!

November 21, 2014

Anubis II

Fuck this game.

The end.

No, really. I don't want to write this. Anubis II is a game so horrendous, it has made me catatonic! It happened right after I screamed on top of my lungs. I type the best I can with my hands, as they're the only part of me that is still moving. All things considered, I'm lucky. Though my parents feed me through a straw-

Oh, who am I kidding. Of course I'm not catatonic. In shock at such a horrible game, sure, but not catatonic. In shock? Close, but not quite. Actually, I think that witnessing this horror has made me insane; it has awakened something deep inside me that I never wanted to see out, and I'm soon going to go kill something to appease my spirit. A fly or two, an iguana, maybe a cat... And I cannot use video games to get that out of my system, as video games are the source of my insanity. I cannot touch a Wii remote anymore, I just want to stab someone with it. Don't ask me how I'd do that.

Ah, and dammit. I need to get this out of my system. Maybe talking about the game will calm me down.

So... Anubis II was a game made in 2007 by Metro 3D. It has been released on the PlayStation 2 and on PC. Data Design Interactive later bought Metro 3D and saw fit to re-release their titles, by adapting them for the Wii (even though it was pretty damn obvious they were of a low quality). Anubis II shares many similarities with other titles released by DDI around that time, such as Ninjabread Man, Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland, or Rock'n'Roll Adventures. Never heard of those? You're lucky.

DDI, get ready. I'll spew a lot of rage at you.

Anubis II takes place in Ancient Egypt. The evil skeleton pharaoh Mumm'Hotep reigned with an iron fist, until he was defeated. Years later, he is back, and has spread darkness across the land. The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt have a hero, however – Anubis, the *ahem* "mighty" God of the underworld! Armed with his scepter, the God has to travel through six long levels, defeat the forces of evil, collect eight golden pyramids in each level to bring back the world's peace... and end it all in a brutal fight against Mumm'Hotep!

Let's give that to this game, at least Mumm'Hotep looks
fine... just like a cheap animatronic in a haunted house
for kids! Fakeness and broken mechanism included!

Here's an alternate storyline for this game: A game developer goes to take a dump and then decides to make a game of similar quality to what he's just released. He makes every level in a matter of minutes with a cheap game engine, and takes a 30-minute break to watch porn between every level. After one day – no, scratch that; half a day – he has completed a little game that would be alright if he shared it with his friends... and then realizes he could just send it to a stupid game company. Said stupid game company decides it's of good enough quality to be published and distributed across North America and Europe. Oh, and then he makes a carbon copy of that same game, only changing the character and some of the graphics, and sends it to the same stupid game company, which releases that one too. Because they're fucking stupid.

I'm feeling really crazy. I want to smash something. Just give me a few minutes... I'll go outside, destroy the neighbor's house with my father's tractor, and come back for the rest of this review. ...Oh, wait. Of course not. I'm not really insane, it's all make-believe for the review. Truth is, the plot to Anubis II was tacked on and is told only in the instruction booklet; there is literally no story in this game unless you read the booklet. Also, I'd have figured as such; any storyboard artist would have left at the Tutorial level.

So... How does Anubis II work? You control the jackal Anubis with the joystick on the Nunchuk. He jumps when you lift the Nunchuk, and can double jump if you lift the Nunchuk twice in a row. This doesn't work very well, however, as you need to be able to control Anubis while doing that movement, and it's a pain in the ass. In fact, controlling Anubis is a pain. Thankfully, you can use the Z button instead; it works way better. As for his attacks? He can swing his scepter around to attack enemies. You swing the Wii remote to do that. Also, Anubis can throw energy balls; you target an enemy with the remote and press B when the crosshair changes color near it, and then you can press B numerous times to shoot a load of bombs and destroy the enemy quickly. It's the best weapon in the game, because swinging the scepter doesn't work what, maybe 60% of the time? By the way, he's not throwing energy balls; he's tossing the essence of the game Anubis II, a plague powerful enough to kill enemies and severely injure or depress normal people. Also, he can swing his scepter upwards near some stones marked with the Eye of Anubis, which will activate their magic power and move some platforms around, letting him cross the levels. That, too, doesn't work about 60% of the time. You have to try again repeatedly. Pray there are no enemies around... There is one final thing Anubis can do: When he has picked up a bomb, he can throw it if you push A and hold it while making a tossing movement. Guess what? THAT, TOO, DOESN'T WORK MOST OF THE FUCKING TIME!

It worked now? It's gonna stop working at the worst moment.
ALL the controls that require shaking the Wiimote around are awful in here. And of course, two out of the three require just that. Guess DDI didn't want to work too much. The game will hardly ever detect the movement. And of course, most of the enemies in this godawful game are programmed to run into you when they see you. Even if you do manage to swipe the scepter at them once, you will NOT succeed twice in a row and the enemies will have taken some Life Points out of Anubis. Same problem when the time comes to activate the obelisks, which is just as annoying. Screw that goddamn scepter. I hate it, hate it, hate it hate it.

Hey, Anubis: You know what you can do with your scepter? Here are some hints: It involves a part of your anatomy, it involves shoving, and best of all, it involves lots and lots of pain for you. Oh wait, I think I can help. Bend over. Get on all fours, bitch. I promise it's not going to hurt. It's going to REALLY HURT.

"Woof, woof, bark, bark, arf, arf! I mean.... Arrooooooooo!"
He's trying to speak! Quick, someone bring him a muzzle!
By the way, you look awful, you little Sonic reject. No, really, look at you, with those revealed nipples! And look at that face; on the box cover, you actually look pretty cool, but in the game... What, are you Anubis the God of the Underworld, or a little purse puppy who still hasn't learned cleanliness and whose mistress, a clone of Paris Hilton, called Anubis because she thought it sounded manly, even though chihuahuas laugh at your small size? You're pathetic, Anubis. I'm rooting for Mumm'Hotep in this game. I'll be so happy to see you die. Bad doggy! Bad, bad doggy! That pyramid monster you just killed had probably a more interesting life than yours!

...And that's what our hero looks like in pain? He looks like
he is having another kind of powerful experience...
Oh, but Anubis isn't the only bad-looking character in this game. Everything is horrendous. The fields are simplistic, and all the enemies are just copy-pastes of each other. Some are too detailed, others aren't detailed enough. The result is... jarring, to say the least. There are tornadoes of flies right beside pyramid monsters, and then there are rock face monster things that just look out of place. Well, I guess AT LEAST they all have something to do with Egypt... I suppose...

Seriously, I feel like strangling the closest thing I can find. Come here, Valentine, my dear dog... Nico isn't going to hurt you, he just needs to release some stress... by snappING YOUR NECK...

What? Oh, I would never do that in my entire life! I really like my dogs! Where did that come from?? No! Video games do not push to violence... No! They... don't... shouldn't... Urge to kill rising... rising... Hm, if my urge to kill really gets out of hand, maybe I could go look for members of the GamerGate movement... No! Humans are off limits! When it comes to killing, EVERYTHING is off-limits, except for things that aren't real, like video game characters! My... logical brain... is clashing with... my morals... it's... Help me...

Tssk, you really believed that? Fiction doesn't make one go insane so easily! ...I hope. No, when faced with something like... this, I actually tend to get prone to depression. I feel extremely saddened that such an awful game exists.

The pain will start in 3... 2... 1... OOOOOWWWWWWWW!
Seriously, this game is the eleventh plague to strike Ancient Egypt. It's that bad. What else is there to mention... Oh, right. The levels. There's ten of those. Or, rather, there's one Tutorial, five normal levels and four piss-poor attempts at mini-game levels. I think I'll start with those. Basically, Anubis has to defeat enemies by having them chase him around a level. He can jump over puddles of lava, which the enemies can't do, so they should fall in the lava and die. Good luck controlling the jackal at a bird's view, though, as that camera is awful. The enemies are very difficult to avoid in that mode, too. Gee, it's like it wasn't programmed correctly! ...Nooooooo, you THINK? The lazy bumholes who made this game probably felt like they needed to fill more space on the disk, because five levels is not enough.

And then there are the six normal levels – oh, I mean, one Tutorial level, and five levels. In the Tutorial level, you learn the controls, and then you see how the levels work: You have to collect a number of items. ...That's it. There's an arrow in the bottom left corner indicating the direction in which you must go to reach the next item. In the Tutorial, it's parchments; in the next levels, it's golden pyramids floating above ground.

Okay, so the other levels come in many variations. Once you beat them the normal way, you unlock the new modes. There's Treasure Grab, Artifact Hunt and Time Attack. I gave myself the pain of completing one level in each of these modes to tell you how they work. No need to thank me, I'll just... stay in my corner... and gently weep...

Treasure Grab mode has Anubis pick up an insane amount
of objects across every level. 398? If you're crazy enough
to try and pick them all up... Go ahead... But get ready to
curse. A LOT.
In normal mode, Anubis has to run through the level and pick up eight golden pyramids. These will activate the portal at the end of the level, which you need to reach. There are save points scattered around as well. These five levels are not the longest I've seen (trust me, the far superior Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter, also for the Wii, had longer levels, most of the time), but they're still of an okay length. There are tons of enemies around, and as I noticed very quickly, Anubis' best weapon is energy balls. You can aim at the enemies from a distance and shoot many of those in rapid succession... In comparison, the scepter is a pile of manure. In Treasure Grab mode, there are lots and lots of smaller items (mostly precious stones, ankhs, and other such objects) around the level, and the goal is to pick as many of those as possible while you run through the level. In Artifact Hunt mode, there are 20 artifacts hidden around each level, and you have to find them all. In Time Attack mode, you have a set amount of time to reach the end of the level; better run through the whole thing!

Also, there are plenty of checkpoints... But what the Hell is
a red floating ball surrounded by a circling arrow doing in a
game that takes place in ANCIENT EGYPT?
Thankfully, there are some things that make the playing experience a little less annoying. Every time you defeat a monster, it releases a heart, which Anubis can pick up. He has a maximum of ten hearts, always starts at five, and he gets a new Life if he collects hearts to go beyond the ten he can have. Also, when he defeats an enemy, a meter on the screen will increase. This indicates the strength of his attacks. Sadly, when Anubis gets hit, this same meter decreases. However, each time it increases, it takes Anubis one less hit to defeat every enemy. As a result, this meter works best with the energy balls, which are and will remain the best weapon in this game.

Fall off that platform. Break your leg. Stay stuck there. Die alone.
That's all you deserve.
You go through this for five entire levels, for a total of, um, maximum 20 levels. Oh, God, this is depressingly bad... As if gaming wasn't already doing so horribly! What with the obvious betas that are released by major companies, many Xbox games released with upgrades you need to pay to get... and then recently we had that fucking GamerGate... And then, there was that Gamer flick... I'm saddened by the state of gaming as it is now. Only Nintendo still has some kind of decency... And even then... Gosh, I hate being a gamer these days... Screw you, Anubis II...

...Or maybe not. It's really silly to get depressed because of a video game, huh? What's next, once I'll have beaten Anubis II I will ascend to the next level of evolution? Satan is going to call me and pretend he was the maker of this game? ...I'm gonna get attacked by a man in a cheap Anubis costume pretending to be the video game character? An alien is going to contact me to stop the review? Mumm'Hotep will hack into my broadcast to threaten me so that I have to give the game a positive review? An alternate version of me from a universe where bad is good and good is bad will appear to give me a beating unless I see this game like he sees it – as a masterpiece?

Gosh, what is it with reviewers and these ideas that bad fiction is dangerous? Always coming up with new ways to have a bad work of fiction come back to bite their asses at some point in the review. …Don't get me wrong, bad fiction is awful. Bad films, bad comics, bad games deserve to be made fun of, and their creators do too. And it's a load of fun to see these sketches, these storylines added to a review. But there is one thing I have learned through these repeated attempts at a cheap storyline for this review of Anubis II: A game like this is simply not worth it. It doesn't deserve a majestic review with special effects and a plot. All it deserves is a good old verbal beating. No parade, no wonderful storyline. Just discussing this game and spewing insults at it is enough. It's not worth the extra effort.

Okay, maybe I DID put more effort in this review. There are
about 4,000 words, a title card, two videos... Does that make
me a hypocrite? Hey, at least I never worked on Anubis II...

Remember when I said I was rooting for the villain? Yeah, it's still the case.
No hero means no game. No game means I never wrote this review.
...Sadly, that would also cause a paradox that would result in me never
writing these lines, and thus you never reading them, so I guess
Anubis defeated Mumm'Hotep after all.  I hate logic...
I'd gladly call this game shit, but I'm afraid shit would sue me for defamation and misrepresentation... Another example of how bad it is: Just take a look at the final boss fight. It takes place after an easy level, in which Anubis pushes three switches, one after the other, to reach a mechanism that lets him gain access to the boss's room. He faces Mumm'Hotep, who protects himself with a screen, so he can't be hit with the scepter or with energy balls. And he tosses three energy ball himself, every few seconds. Anubis has to go on the floating platforms in the room, which have a tendency to disappear every few minutes (I'm guessing the platforms are ashamed that Anubis is stepping on them, so they vanish). Anubis has to pick up bombs on the furthermost platforms, high above Mumm'Hotep, and then come down and throw them at him. The controls to toss these bombs are not given anywhere in the game, and they're not even in the booklet. I personally had to search on Internet to find out. You have to stay at a distance from Mumm'Hotep, then press A and swing like you're tossing something. There are problems: Anubis swings too far (when the bomb should land near Mumm'Hotep so that the explosion can hit him), and thus the best place to throw the bomb is a corner of the boss's room. But it's hard because of the shitty camera, the shitty controls, the shitty view and the fact that Mumm'Hotep shoots energy balls your way every few seconds. Still, after you manage to hit Mumm'Hotep three times, the ground opens under him and he falls to his doom. Anubis goes down that same hole, finds the lifeless body of Mumm'Hotep, reaches the teleportation platform, and disappears, gone with the ending, I guess. You heard right: There is no ending to this game, just Anubis leaving.

I think the cutscene designers jumped out of the building from the third floor once they saw the overall quality of the product. That, or they all left during creation of the Tutorial level, making sure they had slammed the door hard behind them. I like to think that they left while brandishing two magnificent birds to all of their co-workers who were still stuck working on this.

Shovelware are like serial killers. When you're a young
idealist, you manage to convince yourself that this kind of
evil in the world doesn't actually exist. Then reality catches
up to you. You see the true madness. You see how LOW
and desperate some people get. You see the true evil.
You see how far some people are ready to go...
And your idealism is crushed like a fly under a boot.
What happened to you, Data Design Interactive? You were decent in the past! I heard you made some good games in the 90s! Sure, you can't avoid making bad games every once in a while, humans make errors. I can't name a single video game company that has only released good games. But THIS? Anubis II, Ninjabread Man, and the other shovelware you've been releasing between 2005 and 2009 are just painful. Seriously, shame on you, DDI. You are the first, and most likely only, time I break away from my “don't insult the developers” rule. That you were merely adapting this shovelware game for the Wii is not an excuse. FUCK YOU, DDI. I'm glad you went bankrupt and closed down in 2009. I hope it taught you a lesson: You don't make money with bad games. You lose the gamers' trust when you make bad games that are intentionally put on the market long before they're even ready, or when they're of such piss-poor quality. You don't make money when you lose your public: You make money by keeping it, by proving that you can make good games. By making games worth buying, games that no one will toss to the trash or bring back to the closest game store after a single playthrough. Trust will make gamers come back to you and your games, because they know you can release decent games and they'll look forward for your next releases, because they trust your products. Video games are an art form, you should not mess up with games that classify as “quick bucks”. The face of Anubis II would be on a Quick Buck if those were made for real! I think I spent more time playing the game and writing this review than you spent making this piece of crap of a game! Fuck shovelware!

Yes, now crap can sue me for defamation and misrepresentation.

Anubis II is, hands-down, the worst thing I have reviewed for Planned All Along. Not the worst game; the worst thing, period. It's worse than Pop-Up Pursuit; it's worse than Mario Party 2; it's worse than that Gamer movie I keep punching on; it's worse than Bit Boy, ReelFishing: Ocean Challenge, Garfield: The Search For Pooky, Purr Pals, Mario Pinball Land or even Castle of Shikigami III. It is the worst thing I've reviewed for the site, and it will probably remain the worst thing I've ever reviewed, years from now. I bought this game on July this year, along with two more games that were the same price. The other two games were a lot better. Heck, I usually try to review the games I bought recently for later, and first do the ones I've owned for a while, but I wanted to review this one as soon as fucking possible so I could send it back to EBGames and forget about it. I said during my review of the Gamer movie that I had never seen a game that personally insulted me on a moral level. Well... now I have. Thanks, Anubis II.
Oh hey, Anubis II is on that picture! How convenient.

Why is it so damageable? Because its a textbook example of what some companies are ready to do for quick cash. They forget their reputation. They forget the fans' trust in them. All that counts is the money, the bloody money. Screw good games, we can make some in a matter of days and then fill our pockets with the cash and tears of unsuspecting young gamers! I strongly hate the companies who do this kind of thing. They're the spawn of Satan's brother who is watching over mankind's economy with an evil smile. Video game companies who indulge in this practice just to increase their bottom line do not deserve our respect. Shovelwares, obvious betas and other shit like this are a plague that should be stopped, as they are a reason some people still do not see video games as an art form or, I'd dare say, as anything with even a bit of artistic value. Fuck you, Metro 3D. Fuck you, Data Design Interactive. Fuck you, whoever you are, if you've worked on this game, unless you apologize. Fuck you, Anubis, fuck you, Anubis II, and fuck you, whoever thinks that shovelware is a good idea.

Yes, giant mosquito: Suck all of Anubis' blood! KILL HIM.
Anubis II has it all: Painful controls, horrendous graphics, a story that a first-grader would be unsatisfied with, unimaginative levels and modes, an unresponsive camera, a tiny number of levels (six if you count the Tutorial, and ten if you count the cheap-ass attempt at mini-games)... The creatures are either creepy or just plain boring. The final boss is difficult not because of the strategy you need to use against him, but because of the bad controls and the fact that you never get any indication on what you have to do. Even in its history, Anubis II is plain bad: A cheap copy of another game (Ninjabread Man; NO, I WILL NEVER REVIEW IT), made in a cheap game engine (ironically titled the GODS engine), so bad that I could probably do better alone with a video game design software found at a flea market.

Destination: Trash Land.
What are the positive things I can say about Anubis II? It will attempt to “entertain” you for a few hours, provided that entertainment and frustration/hatred go hand in hand for you. It's in a normal-sized Wii box, so it takes very little place in a garbage bag. You can wave the CD in front of your face to produce air during summer. The booklet makes great slippery litter paper if you want to play a prank on your cat. Said booklet also takes little room in a recycle bin. The CD would make a good paperweight or glass mount, but your gamer friends who know about Anubis II will probably stop being your friends if they see you own it. The CD will burn very well in a bucket in your backyard. It can also easily be broken with just about every tool you can borrow from your friendly neighborhood lumberjack, like a CHAINSAW! Anubis himself is a horrible character, one I wish I could inflict countless tortures on, and see if he likes it now that he's on the receiving end.

This is it: The one game that has struck me on a moral level, so deep that I will never forget how awful it was. The worst thing I've ever reviewed.

Memories of this game will stay in my head as long as I will play video games and enjoy it.

Come back next week for another review. Anything will be better than Anubis II. Anything.