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December 26, 2015

Demo Review 50: lilt line

Final demo review! When we start lilt line, we get to a menu that shows 15 levels with interesting names, though only the first one, TRAINING, is open. We start this, and find out how the game works; you are following a line going in a colored section of the screen. Everything else is black. The point is to prevent the line from hitting the borders, which is achieved by turning the Wii remote held horizontally towards the screen or towards you. Whenever you hit a wall, you lose points. After a moment, you reach a section with lit-up parts, and you have to press 2 when the line reaches these parts to follow a beat. However, if you press the 2 button anywhere outside of these lit-up sections, you lose points.

This sounds like a BIT.TRIP game without anything that features Pixel Boy. But hey, I don't mind.

If you run out of points, you lose! Yeah, that’s all. Hey, I still got to Level 4! That’s where things got really hard, what with the walls of pure blackness taking more and more places, and me having to be quicker to spin the Wii remote in my hands to avoid them… also, the passages became narrower, and whenever lit-up sections appeared, there would be a few of them in a row, and I had to perfectly time my button presses and Wii remote movements! This got pretty difficult.

That’s really all there is to say about this game, maybe there was more later on to discuss, but that’s where I got. This game is simple and abstract, but it’s easy to learn. My sole complaint is that the actual tutorial began after I started banging the line into walls, thus before I could figure out how this thing worked. I would have liked a tutorial that had played before getting tossed into action. Other than that, this is a game that requires precision in turning the Wii remote, as well as good timing.

That’s really all there is to say about this one. Oh, yeah, I also really liked the names given to the levels, though I can’t remember all of them, I know one was titled “SRPNT” and another “BETAMAX”, and one of the earlier levels was called… um… “BICYCLE”, I think? Yeah.

So yeah, try it, try to see if you like it, and if you like it, buy it. That’s it.

…That’s it!

This was the last demo review! I’m done reviewing the Wii Shop Channel’s demos now! In a way, I am happy, as this was a lot of work. Also, this has let me try out many games I would have never thought about otherwise, and this has let me find games that I might be interested in buying later. I hope this month did the same for you. See you in 2016, and until then, stay awesome.

December 25, 2015

Top 24 Just Dance Levels (#12-#1)

Continuing from last Monday, here’s Part 2 of this list! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! I hope you have a great day! Oh, and that goes for everyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, too; today, do something special! I mean, if everyone else treats today like it’s a big deal, why couldn’t you? Have fun like everyone else, go see some friends, or buy yourself a gift online. I mean, if you’re not celebrating Christmas, this means we’ve been annoying you for well over a month now with our Christmas songs, and the thousands of versions of A Christmas Carol airing on TV, and all those Holiday specials… Try to enjoy the day. Alright, are we continuing the list?

12. Diamonds (Rihanna) JD2015
Much like the earlier entry on Ellie Goulding’s “Burn”, this level is pure art. The female dancer switches from a black and white figure to a purple-haired one with a diamond-shaped ornament. The movements, while relatively complex, are in perfect sync with the audio, graceful when the song is calmer, quick when the song is more energetic. “We’re beautiful, like diamonds in the sky” indeed. Hey, diamonds in the sky; but no Lucy in sight. The world around the dancer is mostly darkness, although a single light shines upon the dancer, illuminating her. This is just… well… beautiful.

11. Just Dance (Lady Gaga) JD2014
AKA the best example of a Boss Level in the history of Just Dance. See, most songs featured in this series are between 3 and 4 minutes in length. There’s the rare one that has less than three minutes, as well as a few that have only a little over 4… Just Dance falls into that category. And, in an exercise game like this, that’s what counts as a boss level. Being the namesake of the entire franchise, this song just HAD to be in a game at some point… and boy did the development team deliver. The routine is GREAT. The song has two additional versions (On-Stage and Sweat). The background, while mostly simple, will feature glass art of past dancers in the franchise. Long story short, not only is the importance of this song for the series acknowledged, it is treated with utmost respect and features series-wide call backs. Love it, love it, love it.

10. This is Halloween (Danny Elfman) JD3
I have plenty of reasons to like a level; its routines, its dancers, the atmosphere surrounding it… or simply because it’s fun. This Is Halloween checks all four boxes. The Dance Crew features a Pumpkin-headed being, a vampire, a witch and a zombie dancing to the classic Disney tune. What’s more, Pumpkinhead is the one to bring the others to life. And, in the purest Dance Crew tradition, each character gets his or her solo moment. It should be noted that it’s a Just Dance tradition to have one Halloween-themed level in each installment, just like how there’s always at least 1 Christmas level, 1 Bollywood song, 1 Disney song, and another where a dancer plays air guitar. Featuring a great ambiance, great stylish dancers, a lot of chemistry between the characters and a very catchy Halloween tune, this is one of the best examples of a Dance Crew level out there.

9. Happy (Pharell Williams) JD2015
This level may look pretty basic, but it uses to its full potential everything that can make the surroundings more dynamic. For starters, it’s one of the rare levels that has the camera moving around the character, often zooming in. Second, the background constantly changes, from a street to a school hallway, to under a viaduct (thankfully they’re not in Quebec…), to another street, and then an ultra-colorful place, then in front of a pool… and they’re all having plenty of special effects added to them. Third, the routine is accompanied by a TON of cameos from other dancers in the franchise. Mix this with one Hell of an ear worm and an excellent choreography to accompany it, and you get what’s without a doubt one of the best levels in JD2015.

8. What You Waiting For (Gwen Stefani) JD3
Here’s another solo routine that doesn’t seem to have anything special going for it… but hey, does that mean it’s any less valid for this list? Nope! After all, this isn’t “Top 24 Most Innovative Just Dance Levels”, it’s just a list of which levels I consider my favorite. It’s true, there isn’t so much special with this level. But I still like it. Maybe it’s the dance moves. Or maybe it’s the song, which is too catchy for its own good? I can’t really explain it. I just like this song. (Though, you could have guessed that before, since this was the song closing my Just Dance 3 review…)

7. Get Lucky (Daft Punk ft. Pharell Williams) JD2014
Hi again Pharell! Hi again snazzy suits and groovy rhythm! This is a Duet level featuring one of the best songs to have come out in 2014. The dancers are wearing gold and silver, and the choreography is of an alright difficulty (not too difficult, not too easy). When the Daft Punk bit starts, the two transform into robots and do, well… robotic dance moves, duh. Although, unlike many other examples on this list, this level remains simple when talking about the backgrounds. Also, what a shame that such a great song doesn’t get alternate routines, while stuff like *urgh* #thatPOWER or Fine China get three alternate routines each…

6. Let It Go (Disney’s Frozen) JD2015
I haven’t quite caught the Frozen Fever, but I acknowledge when something is good. The film itself has a few flaws, but is still an enjoyable watch – as long as you don’t mind the cruel lack of communications that plague all the characters, which is what caused the whole damn situation to begin with. But everyone, freaking everyone knows Let It Go and has either sung it, or parodied it, or covered it, or announced their pure hatred of it. I’m sparing you my terrible singing voice. But Just Dance 2015 couldn’t let this song out of its catalog. And, to Ubisoft’s credit, they’ve done an excellent job with it! This duet has Anna and Elsa, first dancing on a snowy field… and around that moment in the song in the film where Elsa creates her ice fortress, the Elsa of this routine does the same – and the environment changes to the inside of the ice fortress. Oh, by the end, it reverts back to the snow field, sure. This level is practically a gift for all Frozen fans out there. You’ll love it, that’s for certain. The only downside is that the solo routine has to be bought from the Shop… but you don’t really need it, do you?

5. She Wolf (Falling To Pieces (David Guetta ft. Sia) JD2014
However, before JD2015’s Let It Go, the previous installment also had its ice queen. While I do think both Let It Go and She Wolf to be excellent levels, I chose She Wolf as the one I preferred among the two, because it’s even more impressive to watch. The character looks amazing, what with this tiara and this ice suit… The choreography is simple but effective and energetic, and the backgrounds… wow, the backgrounds. The character is pretty much flying across a deserted ice land. It is a marvelous sight. At the beginning, the dancer thaws herself out of the ice, and at the end, become encased in it again. And then there’s the change from light to dark, and all the touches I’m not discussing due to keeping each point of this list short… really, a thing to see.

4. Prince Ali (Disney’s Aladdin) JD2014
Three Just Dance games, three Disney songs, and they all made the list. There’s probably a reason for that, but I won’t bother looking for it. We are revisiting the classic Disney song featuring Robin Williams as the Genie. This Dance Crew is composed of Aladdin (who changes from his street attire to his Prince Ali disguise halfway through), Jasmine, Jafar and Genie- wait, why the Hell is Jafar dancing to this? This not sense makes! Ah, whatever. The background goes from the marketplace to the Cave of Wonders to the Palace. And all the way through, Aladdin plays the part of the proud, if smug, hero the song makes him to be. Aside from a few difficult moves and the need to dance with at least one other person for only a few seconds, this is an excellent level and I happily play it almost every single time I’m playing Just Dance 2014.

3. I Was Made For Loving You (KISS) JD3
Oh yeah, I mentioned earlier that this franchise had the weird tradition of including at least one dance that includes air guitar in its movements. Well, here, we have an entire air BAND, with a guitarist, a singer, a drummer and a bassist. Oh, and the drummer is a woman, which is double awesome, as the Scott Pilgrim series can attest.  Expect a lot of hammy movements, a shining moment for each member of the quartet, and lots of fun. It opens with a garage door opening (geddit? Garage band?), and then we get what’s a mostly straightforward routine, with the characters playing their instruments. Oh, simple, sure, but the team really shines through during the musical bridges of KISS’s famous song. My favorite Dance Crew of all the Just Dance games, and that’s no small praise.

2. The Fox (Ylvis) Regular AND Campfire Dance JD2015
Yeah, THAT song… and yes, the dancer is a fox, who looks like something between fursuit and actual anthropomorphism. And two backup dancers wearing orange loups. Because, “loup” is French for “wolf” and it’s a canine and it’s also the name of those party masks that only cover the ears and… ah, I’m just wasting space right now. The level opens on a children’s book opening, revealing our Trio. Yes, I know I said the middle dancer was the only important one, and it’s quite true here, but I still like this level regardless. The routine is excellent, and features some funny moves in the chorus (you know, where the singer tries many sounds to figure out which one is the fox’s cry). The level’s background also changes quite a bit, including a nighttime forest-like décor to mimic what happened in the song’s original video clip. All in all, a good level, as well as a good variant; see, JD2015 had few variants, but there’s one for this song, the Campfire Dance. This is a Duet featuring two boy scout monitors dancing to the song… by mimicking what’s being said in the song, sharing this task between them. The result is a lot of silly dance moves, much chemistry, and just plain old fun. I love both of these levels, and I just couldn’t pick one over the other. They're both awesome. For all the flak I gave JD2015 over all of the changes it made to the formula, I have to admit it, the game’s got some of the best songs.

1. Take On Me (a-ha) JD3
I don’t care if anyone says otherwise. This is one of the best songs of all time. And as a result, we get what’s without a doubt my favorite level in the entire series. The routine, given by a normal guy in stereotypical 50’s bad boy outfit (though significantly more colorful), is simple and includes some “air synthesizer” as one of the movements. The routine approaches perfection, the movement detection is spot-on, and the backgrounds, while simple, fit perfectly with the mood of the song. This is it, the perfect level. It's not even all that special, but that may be what makes it so great. The one I play every single time I pop Just Dance 3 in my Wii. Forget the Super Mario level, forget any other. Give me Take On Me.

And… this finally concludes this epic list! Phew, this was long and tough to write. I don’t think I’ll do any more lists longer than Top 12s in the future… Oh well. Officially, this is the last article before 2015 ends. Therefore, I wish to you a Happy New Year in advance. I wish you a happy 2016. Let’s pray it turns out better than this year was. On January 1st, I’ll probably have a special article published, after which I’ll start planning more stuff. I’m hoping to be posting even more frequently in 2016 than ever before!

December 24, 2015

Demo Review 49: Cave Story

A WiiWare remake of a Windows game for the WiiWare, played by holding the Wii remote horizontally like a controller. Cave Story is the story of a human soldier, Quote, who falls in an underground village inhabited by rabbits; their numbers keep on decreasing because of a mysterious entity, the Doctor – not a heroic one who travels in a police box, mind you – who has been kidnapping girls from the village, and killing the others. We assist to the kidnapping of one of the rabbit girls by a human sorceress named Misery and a robot-like creature named Balrog, and we can even battle said robot. Afterwards, we report back to the chief of the village, who lets Quote into the graveyard where their hero lies. There, we battle mushroom creatures and a knife-wielding monster, and we get a key that opens the door to said hero’s house. We get in there and activate a teleporter that brings us to a Hall with numerous numbered eggs. There’s also a real armada of flying enemies there, so navigating is difficult. And don’t get me started on the insta-kill thing at the bottom of the screen!

I tried to get to the end of the demo twice and gave up. I got killed, both times, by the thing at the bottom of the screen in the Egg Hall. And each time, I had to start everything over. Everything! Now, this is just a demo, so I was probably close to the end anyway.

The controls are simple, really; 2 to jump, 1 to shoot, left and right to move around, Start to open the inventory, and Down to speak to the rabbits, find objects, or activate things. The weapon has a pretty cool mechanic, too, in that when you defeat enemies, triangles may appear; collecting them will level up your weapon (to a max level of 3), allowing you to deal more damage. Getting hurt, however, makes you lose weapon experience, leading to a possible downgrade if you're not careful.

I really liked it. Even though I probably didn’t get very far, I must say I greatly enjoyed the exploration aspect of this game – as small as it was in this demo. The concept is pretty great, and the story seems to be very complex – what a shame, though, that I cannot see more of it! You get used to the controls very quickly (though I’m so used to pressing Up to open doors that, at first, I had to tell myself to press Down instead). The pixel work is great. If I had money to spend, I’d probably buy Cave Story. Give it a try. Download the demo, play it. If you like the action platforming and the small RPG elements (such as the life bar), you might just love it. Then again, I see that Cave Story already has quite a following, so maybe I’m just late to join the fun.

December 23, 2015

Demo Review 48: BIT.TRIP FATE

At last, the final BIT.TRIP game! It was about time! This one tells us to use either the Classic controller, or the Wii remote with Nunchuk. Once again, we get an intro that makes no sense – and only makes a little bit more sense if you’ve discovered the order in which these games are supposed to be played – and then we’re tossed into the game.

This is a rail shooter mixed with a horizontal shoot’em up. The character, always the same pixelly guy with no features, follows a line on the screen as enemies come towards him. The tough part is that this guy cannot move away from the line, and said line has ups and downs, so you need to steer him (by moving the Nunchuk’s analog stick right to go forwards, or left to go backwards – all while pressing A to shoot). This is important to avoid the bullets, as even though the character’s weakness window is small (the heart), it’s still very easy to get hit there due to the bumps on the line the character follows.

The demo was pretty long, and went through at least two levels (I lost during the second level). The first level was already pretty tough, with the dozens of bullets that some enemies would shoot, bullets which were not always simple to avoid due to the line followed by Pixel Man. The game also includes power-ups in the form of Pixel Dude’s allies (some which are their separate video game characters, such as Meat Boy). Last but not least, the first level ended with a boss fight against a giant version of a previous enemy. It was pretty strong, but I managed to defeat it.

All in all, I consider this one of the stronger BIT.TRIP games. The art is more complex than in other parts of the series, though not to the extent of BIT.TRIP RUNNER, and the music is pretty good. The game offers quite a challenge, too, though it’s not nearly a rain of bullets as other shoot ‘em ups might be (and that’s understandable, as the main character here doesn’t have all the freedom of movement that regular shoot ‘em up characters have). It wasn’t nearly as frustrating as some of the other, more abstract BIT.TRIP games were. I’d say the enemies take too many hits before being defeated, however. Also, it’s not made clear from the start that the character is only hurt when struck to the heart (though, silly me, I should have known about the hitbox).

All in all, an okay game. Probably not enough to encourage me to buy any of the BIT.TRIP games, but at least it ends my look at the six-part series on a higher note. Go try the demo!

December 22, 2015

Demo Review 47: MotoHeroz

There goes another game I don’t like. MotoHeroz doesn’t really have a plot, although it seems to take place in a military program of sorts, which I don’t get since this appears to be a racing game. Not any kind of racing game, either; a platformer racer, where the entire point is to drive forwards – or backwards – and keep the motorbike balanced so that it doesn’t turn upside-down.

The first level teaches the basics – moving forward with 2, moving backwards with 1, repositioning the bike with Left or Right on the horizontal remote (in case it’s about to land upside down), using items with A. If, by a streak of bad luck or a missed landing, the bike falls upside-down, you must shake the Wii remote to bring it back on its wheels. Sounds simple so far? Oh, it gets tough. The mountainous areas this game takes place in are full of climbs and descents, and a bike going fast enough will fly off the road, which is why you need to always keep your wheels towards the ground. Easier said than done.

By level 3, the game introduces ghost racers that you must beat. Oh yeah, and you can’t skip them. You must always beat the ghost racer to get to the next level, and those fuckers are fast. Best case scenario, they’re gonna be very close to the goal when you reach it – and that's, of course, if you’re ahead. The difficulty is too great; the timing is too close. The ghost racer is too good compared to an average player. This is way too difficult. Plus, it takes a moment to get used to the physics. Also, if at any moment against a ghost racer you flip upside-down, you can pretty much kiss victory goodbye, as it will take too long to flip back up and resume the race. It’s a good thing that you can start over at will by pressing the – button on the Wii remote! The last level I played required to be good at both going forwards AND backwards, and needed some luck too. I just gave up.

I can understand if someone likes this game – it’s challenging alright, the 3D in the levels looks good, and the characters have funny proportions. Plus, the Tutorial is self-aware and cracks a few jokes at video game conventions (such as being unable to use more than one power-up at once). The controls also work well, but the problem here is that you’re not given enough time and levels to master them before they toss you into playing against a ghost racer. As a result, I really didn’t like the demo. But hey, that’s just me. Try it if you want. As for me, there’s no chance I’ll ever buy this game.

December 21, 2015

Top 24 Just Dance Levels (#24-#13)

Continuing from last Friday's post (About the 12 Just Dance levels I despise), here is the first part of my first (and possibly only) multi-part list. I'll be listing off my 24 favorite Just Dance levels. Once again, I may put here songs simply because I like them, or because the level is fun, or because the background and dancer make for a pretty, if not outright artistic, thing to see.

Alright, let’s get to it!

24. Best Song Ever (One Direction) JD2015
These games feature a lot of songs from boy bands. Deal with it. Don’t be picky.  As much as I hate some current artists and bands geared towards a teenage female demographic, I’m of the belief that nothing is all good or all bad. Thus, I believe One Direction’s Best Song ever, not only to be at least listenable, but also pretty damn danceable. The Dance Crew works very well together and I found myself surprisingly enjoying the three minutes spent shaking to it. What else is there to say? Well, “Best Song Ever” is a boy band version of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”, in that it’s not THE best song ever, but a tribute to it… and now I made everybody hate me.

23. Macarena (The Girly Team) JD2015

And the hating continues! If you’re still attending family parties and your baby-boomer relatives dare play some dance music, it's likely that you’ve heard - and possibly danced to – the Macarena at least once in your life. It’s easy, really; and if you already know the movements, this level should not be much trouble. Left first, right first; hands forward, palm down, hands forward, palms up, hands to shoulders, hands behind head, hands on waist, hands on butt, then you turn 90 degrees and repeat. This level in JD2015 is extremely colorful and features a Dance Crew of women. Pick one, follow the rhythm, and prepare to have this ear worm stuck in your head for a long time!

22. Forget You (Cee Lo Green) JD3
A man in a snazzy suit dances to a song about how his girlfriend is a gold-digger, ultimately dropping a couple of F-bombs on her- oh wait, right, forget the F-bombs, this is the “acceptable for an E+10 rating” version. I remember the “Forget You” level and loving every minute of it. I love the choreography, it’s as cool as the character is snazzy. And it’s great to mimic. The setting is an old television, and in the second half of the level, backup dancers appear in the background to make this comedic song look and feel more epic, more… what’s the old term? “pizzaz”? I’m not up to date on old slang. Either way, I like this one. Though I prefer the non-censored one better. Shame it’s unfit for Just Dance.

21. Where Have You Been (Rihanna) JD2014
This song tends to divide some people, because Rihanna starts it with an excerpt from a Johnny Cash song… but whatever. The rest does sound pretty good to my not-a-music-reviewer ears. (Seriously, if I was reviewing music, I’d be far more critical than that.) This song comes in JD2014 in five variations: The regular choreography, an On-Stage version, an Extreme version, a Battle (against She Wolf, which I also love, but I still hate Battle mode), and a Mashup unlocked on April. As for the choreography itself and the ambiance around it, I don’t see how a woman in tribal attire dancing in front of and later inside a volcano corresponds to the theme of the song… Ring of Fire isn’t even the Johnny Cash song referenced at the beginning! Oh well, it’s still great to move to, the controls are very responsive, and it’s overall enjoyable.

20. Flashdance… What A Feeling (The Girly Team) JD2014
Similar to Macarena, chances are you’ve heard this song before. If only because there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this song. The level is pretty good, too; it starts with the dancer, a woman in a dress, with calm movements. Then off goes the fake dress, and we see our dancer, now dressed as a fitness teacher. Of course, don’t expect insane dance moves here, moves Just Dance players would be unable to do… but kudos if you pull off the jumping split! This level is simple, but it’s great. The routine itself is enjoyable, not too difficult nor too easy, and the song helps a lot towards me liking this level! I mean, I just hear this and my body wants to dance. No, foot, stop tapping! Leg, stay calm, will ya? Oh great, my arm’s going at it now. How the Hell am I typing this?

19. Dynamite (Taio Cruz) JD3
The more this list advances, the more annoyingly catchy the tunes get. Gotta give that to Ubisoft, they know to pick the best tunes. …well, most of the time. In the case of Dynamite, we have here another Dance Crew. I don’t remember explaining that in my review, but Just Dance 3 introduced Dance Crews and had quite a number of those. And they left quite an impression on the audience, and on me; most JD3 examples on this list are Dance Crews. As for Dynamite, it was good back in 2011, it was still good today. The four dancers have different looks, but still work very well as a “team”, or “crew”, or whatever you want to call them. The result is a great level, one that I replay almost every time I pop the disk into the Wii.

18. Turn up the Love SUMO (Far East Movement ft. Cover Drive) JD2014
The special alternate choreographies were okay, for the most part. I found myself hating Seated Dances – thank God they’re rare – but once again there are some diamonds in the rough. Case in point, the SUMO Dance Crew on Turn Up The Love. Now, these are not actual sumos, just really really fat rappers with bling. But they sure shake their lipids a lot. And they’re singing to someone? Well, that person will have a lot to love. Still, having overweight dancers sure is a nice change of pace, since just about every single other dancer in these games is thin… and it’s also funny to watch. The routine is great, the controls work well... My only complaint is that this alternate routine for Turn Up The Love costs 50 Mojocoins to unlock… but it’s worth it.

17. Burn (Ellie Goulding) JD2015
This level is another example of the perfect mix; good song, great routine (not too complex, not too simple), great character model, beautiful changing background, and of course, very responsive controls. Why is it not higher on the list? I mean, I AM pretty much calling it a work of art. Hell, it’s just another proof that video games CAN be art. Then, why is it not higher on the list? Well, probably because I’m a geek and I tend to prefer the Just Dance levels that have more geeky connections. Or a bit of humor. Also, this level does have a lot of beauty, but it doesn’t quite push the boundaries of what can be done in Just Dance.

16. Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.) JD2014
A classic theme tune! This one also plays around with the conventions of the Just Dance series, as there are three Ghostbusters… and Slimer. Yep, one of the dancing characters doesn’t even have legs. In fact, in the second half of the song, Slimer possesses the other three and controls their dance moves for a moment. Needless to say, this song is fun to dance to if you’re a geek, it’s even better if you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise (of note, Stay Puft makes a cameo in the background), and it’s even better if you control Slimer. I like the more gimmicky levels like this one.

15. Built For This (Becky G.) JD2015
Talking about gimmicky, how does an army of robots sound? I already discussed this one in my review of Just Dance 2015, so I won’t talk much about it again; however, this level takes “NPC dancers” to its logical extreme, featuring sometimes what looks like dozens of the same dancer, as a robot, doing movements exactly at the same time as the actual dancer. That’s pretty damn impressive; in fact, it must have taken a lot of processing power. I mean, it’s only normal for a franchise that releases games every year to try and push the limits of their craft. And the result is impressive.

14. Spectronizer (Sentai Express) JD3
I have to admit to something; I noticed, after writing my review of Just Dance 2015, that dancers transforming have been in this series since Just Dance 3. It’s just that, in Just Dance 3, it was much rarer. One example I can give is Spectronizer, where the teenage members of the Dance Crew turn into Power Rangers-like heroes partway through. Well, then again, this IS a Japanese song we’re talking about… Make it another point for “geek preference” and “gimmick”; after all, dancers transforming mid-song WAS a simple gimmick back then, it wasn’t yet commonplace.

13. Jamaican Dance (Konshens) Mashup JD3
I love dancing to this song. But in Just Dance 3, the “regular” choreography for Jamaican Dance was the dreaded “Hold My Hand” mode, which is the Just Dance variation I despise most. Thankfully, there’s ever been only three levels like this in Just Dance history. Thankfully, we do have a variation on Jamaican Dance; the ever-popular Mashup. To compensate for the absolutely crappy Hold My Hand level, plenty of Just Dance organized a quick dance-o-thon over Jamaican Dance for the player. …Oh, who am I kidding, this is just silly. Still, the team at Ubisoft offered an alternate choreography for a song that much needed it, a song so good it would have been unfair to hate it due to the mode it’s played in.

Well, it appears that I’m gonna have to split this list in two. See you Monday for Part 2!

December 20, 2015

Demo Review 46: BIT.TRIP FLUX

Oh no, not those again! Let’s get this over with.

BIT.TRIP FLUX is another one of the six BIT.TRIP games, which are meant to be a musical arcade game if you were on an acid trip while playing. No really, that’s how they describe the whole thing.

I have no idea what the intro was supposed to represent. Too abstract for me.

As for the game itself, you’re a little white bar at the far right of the screen, and the point is to block the white squares – pixels – that are coming your way, by moving the bar up and down. How do you do that? By turning the Wii remote, held horizontally, on itself with your hands. Turn it towards the screen, the bar goes up, turn it towards you, the bar goes down. Basic controls, right? Yeah, except it’s very imprecise. Very easy to miss pixels with these controls.

The pixels appear. Some go in a straight line, though they don’t all come at the same speed. Sometimes, pixels will go in diagonal ways, bouncing off the top and bottom walls, and you need to judge where these things will be. Sometimes, big squares show up, and sometimes large white lines appear. Either way, you have to stop them in their tracks and push them back. Sometimes, a grey pixel will move on the screen at about the same pace as a white one; the grey is worth more points, but is it really worth it?

If you miss too many squares – and at one point, you will – you’ll end up with the game screen turning black and white. This means you’re about to lose, and the only way to get back to normal is to knock back enough squares. If you still can’t do that, game over.

That’s all I got to see, because I suck at those damn BIT.TRIP games. Seriously. I’m just terrible at those, and it must have reflected in these demo reviews. I mean, I understand the idea behind the games, and I like how the pixels are meant to turn into music as you knock them back, but no, this just isn’t for me. Just not a fan of those games. Go try them, and if you do like them, good for you. I just don’t. There’s still one BIT.TRIP game to try, I’ll review it soon then be done with them.

December 19, 2015

Demo Review 45: Jett Rocket

It was a sweet day for Jett Rocket, planetary inspector. Then evil arrived, in the form of a robot controlled by the Power Plant Posse! The robot attacked core elements of Jett’s ship, and then knocked it to send Jett falling down to the planet below. Jett lands in the water, where a dolphin explains that the PPP are planning to pollute the planet with putrid pollutants. Ooh, nice alliteration there. We get a tutorial where we learn Jett’s basic moves. By shaking the Wii remote, he tosses himself forward, kind of like Sonic the Hedgehog.  He can jump, and while in mid-air you can shake the Wii remote to make him do a ground pound, which can also target and hit large buttons on the ground or other items of interest. A generator on the atoll is repaired, letting Jett go back to his ship.

There, one world, the Atoll, is open. The other two require 200 and 550 solar cells to be unlocked, and the demo will not have enough. Oh well. Let’s try the first level. Here, Jett learns to use his jetpack to reach higher places; he also learns how to refuel it when needed. We also encounter the first PPP robots. Again, ramming into them is the key to victory. We also learn to look everywhere for solar cells, as there are many scattered around the level, and they are often well-hidden. At one point, a robot asks Jett to retrieve four batteries to power up a cannon disguised as a stone idol. Jett does so, then jumps in the cannon and is sent to the platforms that were previously too high for him to reach. We also get a section with helicopter blades, which can be used to reach higher ledges, as well as ventilators which serve a similar purpose. At the end of the level, Jett Rocket activates the generator, and returns to his base. End of demo.

What? After only one level? Aw, man!

I instantly liked this game. The CGI is very good, the music is catchy, and the plot, while simple, at least allows for an interesting gameplay. Truly, Shin’en Games (who also made Art of Balance) have a lesson to everyone who makes WiiWare games out there: Make good games. It doesn’t have to be complex, it can be a basic puzzle game idea or a little 3D platformer. But put some effort into it. Jett Rocket is often hailed as one of the best WiiWare titles, and it’s not difficult to see why.

You catch on quick when it comes to controlling the character. The whole thing has a slight Super Mario Galaxy vibe to it. The demo level is well-designed, including the secret sections where you can find solar cells or a 1-Up. This demo lets us try many features, and promises a lot more on the way. I wished it was longer, though. Maybe two levels instead of just one? I mean, outside of the Tutorial, of course… Oh well, I’m still very happy with what I got. The demo ending screen tells us about the many features of the complete product, and it all looks very fun; I might buy it once I have some money to spend on WiiWare titles.

If you have a Wii, try it. Seriously, try it. My guess is that you won’t be disappointed. It’s a short demo, perhaps too short, but if that’s my only complaint, this means we have a great game here.

December 18, 2015

Worst 12 Just Dance Levels

As I said the past two weeks, Just Dance generally remains the same regardless of the edition. It’s all dancing, it’s all copying the movements of a character on the screen. Therefore, there shouldn’t be much to make a Top/Bottom 12 list about, right? Wrong! It’s perfectly possible to rank my favorite and least favorite Just Dance levels (AKA the routines, whether they’re the main one or an alternate). There are many factors to take into consideration.
-The song itself: Obviously it’s fun to dance, but we all tend to prefer to dance to songs we already like;
-The artist: Similar to “the song itself”, this is when the song’s artist is the reason you like or dislike a song more than another. That’s a bias, but it happens… even to me…;
-The choreography: It all depends on whether or not you like the movements done by the character on the screen. Do you need to make large movements? Do you need to get on the floor? Is it slow or fast? Are there movements difficult to replicate? If it’s a Duo, Trio or Dance Crew level, will I look ridiculous playing it alone? All questions to take into consideration;
-The responsivity of the controls: It may be just an impression, but certain Just Dance levels work better than others. Sometimes it feels as though the game doesn’t recognize your movements. Other times, it does so extremely well;
-The mode: This is a big defining factor, as the mode can make a big difference. Of course, this mostly has an effect on alternate routines, and there will be alternate routines on this list.
-And last but not least, the style: the character(s), the background, and all the animation that goes with it.

Today, I am counting down those 12 levels that I simply cannot stand. Do I play them? Yes, because of a mindset I have that I should try everything that’s in a game. Because some people went through the trouble of doing this. I’ll finish this list first, then Monday I’ll post Part 1 of the Top 24 article, and then on Christmas I’ll post Part 2. And as you’ll see, there are many reasons to like or dislike a level. But in the end, these lists are just my opinion. You’re free to like levels that I dislike, or to dislike levels that I like.

12. Land of 1000 Dances (Wilson Pickett) JD3
Sometimes, unresponsive controls and a difficult routine are all you need to hate a song. In fact, this one, I just don’t get. A lizard – crocodile or alligator, one or the other, I don’t know and I don’t care – in a suit, dancing in front of a classroom’s blackboard, and doing a bunch of difficult moves that, of course, the player has to repeat. It’s not a bad song, but why an alligator? Why a classroom? Is he teaching the 1000 dances? This is not even a land! Why the suit? Why… why… You know what, the logic part of my brain gave up. Add to this a level that seems to find it hard to recognize your movements, and you get a perfect contender for the #12 spot on this list.

11. Xmas Tree (Bollywood Santa) JD2015
MY EARS, THEY BLEED. Okay, first off, while I love Christmas, there is one thing I hate: The songs. The god-freaking-damn songs. As a result the Christmas songs in my MP3 collection are either anti-Christmas, dark twists on the holiday, or just plain weird stuff with Christmas as an element. Also of note, I have nothing against Just Dance games each having one Christmas song. Nor do I have a problem with Ubisoft trying to have at least one Bollywood song per game. Sadly, mixing both results in what I consider auditory torture. This song is awful. It’s annoying, it’s bad, and although I like the style of the dancers (one of them is a dark-skinned Santa) and the background animation, this is just too terrible for me. I’ll go back to “The Night Santa Went Crazy”, I like it better.

December 17, 2015

Demo Review 44: Urbanix

After some very amateur-looking menus, we get to the game; you control your personal little Cars reject, a brave little tractor who is helping turn a large patch of land into a city! How does he do that? Merely by creating streets. How do you create streets? By moving around. When you create a zone with the tractor, you see it fill up with houses and buildings! Urbanix is based on those early computer games that had similar premises. The goal was, and in Urbanix is, to fill up most of the field with streets and buildings, all while avoiding the enemies who roam the land.

And what enemies! First there are land biters, who can chew through the path you’re making (as the street is only complete once you’ve connected a street to another), and when it does, you lose a life. Whenever those things appear, hurry to the nearest street! After a lot of streets have been made in the game, you can also trap these things in smaller and smaller zones. In later levels, cranes appear to destroy the buildings created by your actions… and even later, shark blimps may chase your tractor. You know, by this point I’d resign from that job. However, the goal remains the same, and you need to go as far as possible by getting the required percentage of city, before the time limit hits zero!

This game has three variations:
-Earth, the regular game;
-North Pole, where you must pass a first time on each zone to turn them to ice, then a second time to make the streets and buildings appear;
-And the Moon, which is locked for this demo, thus I can’t explain it. Still, two out of three isn’t bad.

I didn’t get very far when I played. Still, it was fun. Although I didn’t like how, by the fourth level, the tractor would spend longer avoiding the multiple hazards that get added than actually connecting streets and making buildings appear. That’s what happens when you saturate the game with enemies and gimmicks at the expense of the gameplay. There’s also the possibility of a 2-Player Mode, which is a neat addition.

The CGI isn’t half bad, the game is challenging, and the full version offers a total of 150 levels. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the menus, which are very unprofessional. This game is worth trying. I mean, play the demo. As for me, I wouldn’t buy the full version, but if you’re nostalgic for an old computer game given a WiiWare revamp, go ahead. Who knows? You might like it.

December 16, 2015

Demo Review 43: Aya And The Cubes Of Light

No story, we’re thrown right into the gameplay, with nearly nothing to explain the basics – and the physics – to us. Not even a story. Anyway, we follow Aya, whom I suppose to be a galactic soldier or something with experience in gravity shifts. She finds herself on these large constructions shaped like cubes, with platforms on four of the six sides (the top and bottom don’t count). Her goal? Make her way to the end of each level. When she walks on a platform and reaches a round portion, she will shift her gravity. See, she’s standing upright at the start of a level; when she reaches a round, she’ll walk on it and start walking on the wall. I don’t know quite how to explain it. Also, she can only change her current gravity when she’s walking on platforms, so when she jumps, her current gravity will affect the way she jumps, and she can only jump or fall on platforms that are in her current gravitational state.

In every level, there are balls of light to pick up; I suppose that picking them all up opens a lot of secrets. In every level, Aya needs to reach a portion of the level where there is an exit, but first she needs to unlock said exit by picking up an object; a key, I guess. And getting said object also requires using your brain to figure out which platforms to use to get to it. To use the key, you need to push the Wii remote forward and twist it; this makes a portal appears, an exit towards the next level. You can also look around a level by keeping A pushed and moving the Wii remote.

In the third – and last – level of the demo, you are introduced to levers, which you can pull by pressing Z and raising the Wii remote. This makes platforms appear or disappear. So yeah, ass you may have guessed by now, this is a puzzle platformer.

You can defeat the rare enemies by jumping on them, though that’s not simple as merely touching them in any other way leads to Aya losing a life, which brings her back to the start of the level. Nope, no checkpoints. Which means you have to go through the whole level again when this happens. Same if you miss a jump and end up in the depths of space; Aya gets teleported back on the level… to the very beginning of it. This, coupled with platforms which are often far from Aya, and the main character’s very limited jumping abilities (AND the fact that she jumps by lifting the Wii remote, like a certain bad game I reviewed over a year ago!), make this game rather annoying to go through.

Still, the idea is good, too bad that it is executed this way. Playing around with gravity isn’t all that new, though this game uses it in a unique manner that takes a bit getting used to (especially with the controls). All in all, this game suffers from too many issues for me to really enjoy it. But perhaps you might; maybe you could try the demo, and see for yourself if you like it. There are only three levels in it, though it shows that the final version has three worlds with about 30 levels.

Though, having a female protagonist is rather cool.

December 15, 2015

Demo Review 42: chick chick BOOM

Volleyball with chickens! And explosives! What’s not to love? Oh, and weights. And chomping plants, too. Get your seatbelt, we’re in for a ride in a serious game here. The idea behind chick chick BOOM is that there are five chickens – more like balls with feathers and beaks – on each side of a fence. Each side has its turn, during which they can summon either a bomb, a weight or a plant; the idea is to defeat the other team’s chickens by inflicting damage to them. However, there’s more strategy to it than it seems, as both sides can use ink to summon lines that will protect them from the other team’s nasty tricks.

Aside from that, we also have thunder clouds that appear at random, that both teams can activate. Oh, and each arena apparently has its own traps, such as UFOs that kidnap the chicks. But don’t worry, if you lose too many Hit Points, you can wait for Corncobman to appear in the background and shoot it! Oh, and of course, if enough damage gets dealt regardless of side, a piñata may fall on the fence, and then you can shoot it to get a power-up!

You probably have no idea what I just said. And yeah, it does sound pretty insane. The tutorial alone will take you at least 15 minutes to complete.

Although I really find the idea funny, I’m really not a fan of this game. For starters, almost everything is done through dot-to-dot games; as in, to activate any power-up, you need to hover the cursor on a circle on the screen and connect the dots. After which, if you were quick enough, you can shoot a target to gain upgrades to your weapon, and then activate it.

Dammit, every line I add to this review removes some sense out of this game!

But, um… yeah, no, it’s not for me. It sounds like a funny strategy game, really, but I don’t like how just about everything is down to how well you control the cursor. Because that’s pretty much what it is; move over the dots to connect them with the cursor; draw lines with the cursor. Though, the art style is alright, and there are enough features to keep one busy if they like this sort of funny yet complex game. But no, it’s just not for me. Try the demo. You might like it more than I did.

December 14, 2015

Demo Review 41: And Yet It Moves

We don’t get much of a backstory for this one. We follow a white guy – and by white, I mean chalk-white – as he ventures across levels containing who knows how many death traps. You move with the Nunchuk’s analog stick and jump with Z. You can also press A and turn the Wii remote – yes, turn – with your hand to flip the world around. See, the main point of And Yet It Moves is that you can play around with the gravity. Walls become platforms, platforms become walls. There’s a catch, however; this main character really has the consistency of a chalk; if he falls from too high, he’ll crash to the ground in pieces. And since the character’s momentum remains even if you twist the world around for a softer landing, it may already be too late. And crash, your character will need glue to put himself back together. Thankfully, there are multiple respawn points, represented by a black guy – no, I don’t mean an African-American type of guy, I mean a character of solid black with white outlines. Like a drawing on a blackboard.

I’m starting to realize the theme… Chalks, blackboards…

The first level takes us in a cave, where we get to test the controls. We also get to see some of the traps, such as a large boulder that falls along with the character… And big masses of blackness akin to endless pits, which we must avoid. The second level, a forest area, introduces swinging platforms, which are affected by the gravity, which means that if you want to land on them without any danger, you’ll need extra caution. Last but not least, the third level introduces an environment that decided it had had enough of standing still while you flipped the gravity to your heart’s desire. Now, branches and other platforms will, too, spin around to make things more difficult for Chalk-Boy. The third level also marks the end of the demo version, though it’s still possible to earn a few achievements during this short playthrough. The previews for the full version show even more complex traps for Chalk-Boy, which all look more interesting than the levels available in the demo.

I felt the demo was kind of boring, but that’s probably because the early levels served more as a tutorial of sorts. The art style is pretty good, and the game as a whole is a great concept, though it’s a very difficult game to master and sometimes, victory hinges on the exact moment needed to mess around with the gravity. Beyond being a platformer, this is also a puzzle game. It’s not much for me, but feel free to download the demo and give it a try.

December 13, 2015

Demo Review 40:Gods VS Humans

Such an ominous title should mean an interesting game, right? Well, appearances can be deceiving. This game takes place over several eras where Gods were being worshipped, the first one being Ancient Egypt. As is normal for a demo, this serves as a Tutorial of sorts for the game. The story is simple: You represent the Gods. The humans, down there, are attempting to climb all the way to the residence of the Gods, and they are hoping to achieve this by building a giant tower. If they reach the top, you can kiss your godhood goodbye. The idea is to rain blows of fire, lightning and hail on the different floors of the tower to weaken and destroy them… but since those powers are granted to you by these very humans you’re trying to stop, and that angering them will severely slow down your power recovery, you will need to be careful not to hit humans!

Yeah, there’s quite a number of things to keep in mind here: The number of floors on the current tower, the different types of humans, the powers available (most of them are offensive, but others are defensive, such as summoning a pin-up to disrupt the workers’ concentration on a floor of the tower – I gotta admit, that one was really funny). The tough part is to avoid hitting humans, because then they get angry and your spells don’t recharge nearly as fast.

In the end, this is a strategy game, so I’m sorry if you expected some epic battles between humans and godly beings like a cartoonish God of War. Forget about that. Though, this game isn’t without its challenges, and it would be very interesting… It just didn’t do anything for me. And yet, the 3D is simple but pretty and effective, the controls work fine (well, aside from a few issues when it comes to selecting one of the Gods’ abilities), but the game may be a tad too complicated. It would take me more than just a demo to get used to everything that has to be taken into consideration. In the end, though, the experience felt very… underwhelming.

Still, I suppose the demo is still on the Wii Shop Channel, so go try it if you feel like it. Maybe you’ll like it more than I did.

December 12, 2015

Demo Review 39: LIT

In this survival horror / puzzle game, we follow a student on a quest in his almost entirely-dark school. Something happened. But nobody knows what exactly. What’s more, this student has a friend, and she’s in danger. But wait, how can we go from room to room? Merely stepping into the darkness is an instant life lost! Using a flashlight to see what’s on the way doesn’t always help. Thousands of little bugs… and vaguely human-shaped things… are roaming in the darkness. Though, the flashlight may help in finding tools required to go across each room…

You move with the analog stick on the Wii remote’s Nunchuk. You can interact with objects by pressing C, whether that’s to light up a lamp or open a toolbox to find ammunition for your slingshot. You can switch between your tools by pressing B. Yes, you have to fend off the forces of darkness with a slingshot. Poor protagonist. You can also pick up TV remotes here and there. How can you move through each room? You find ammo for your slingshot, then you break a window. After which you can move in the newly-created path of light (wait, is it daylight outside? And… is it daylight behind every window, even in rooms that have windows on three out of four walls?). Find more ammo, break windows, disperse the darkness… also, find a remote to turn on a television and create a zone of light. Or you can turn on lamps that create arcs of light, and then move from one to the other until you reach the door at the end of each room.

The demo ends after five levels, thus about ten to twenty minutes of gameplay. This game turned out a lot more enjoyable than I thought. Adding to the ambiance is the few telephones here and there, which you can answer to hear the protagonist’s friend as she waits for him to help her out of this horror story. And when you answer the phone, the voice comes from the Wii remote’s speaker.

My first issue is that you'll usually have only one stone for your slingshot, so if you make one mistake, you have to try again – but there is no option to try again, so if you make a mistake, you have to step into the darkness and see the character get dragged down by lots of grey hands. Creepy. Thank God we have reserves of protagonists. Also, after you’ve used your slingshot ammo, the item currently used reverts to being the flashlight, so every time you pick up ammo, you need to press B to equip your slingshot again and prepare to shoot with Z.

But all in all, a really good idea, well done. I strongly suggest that you try this one. The demo ends before the first boss, however… it would have been nice to see what boss battles are like in LIT. Oh well. I know Halloween is long gone, but give it a try anyway.

December 11, 2015

Just Dance 2015

I’ve covered most of the elements of Just Dance last week, in the long review of Just Dance 2014. Go check it out, you might need it as I won’t spend words re-explaining core elements of the franchise for this review. Also, there’s been an itch recently, like I have an impression that I won’t be so nice today…

The new edition of a Just Dance game always changes many elements from the preceding edition. As such, new modes can be added, new features be implemented… but old modes and features can also be removed. As an example, the hand-in-hand choreographies from Just Dance 3 (where there were only two) and 4 (where there was only one) disappeared from Just Dance 2014. Note that I don’t blame them, that particular type of choreography was a load of crap. But sometimes, good modes can be removed, good ideas can be taken out. Well, “good” is subjective, and it has always been, so your opinion may vary on each feature. As for me, I always try to have a positive judgment of things. Ultimately, the choice of adding or removing features is left to the creative team behind the game; they choose what stays, what's new, and what goes. If they get rid of a feature you liked, well, I’m sorry, but that’s how it works. And, in the end, things have to evolve. It’s only normal that every next edition of a game that comes out yearly has to have some changes. Change is a part of life, we can only accept it.

I bought Just Dance 2015 last year, in… October 2014, I think. Yeah, pretty much around the time it came out. That was right after I had returned the only game I never wanted to see in my collection ever again, and I think I had also bought another Ubisoft Wii game around that time… No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. Yes, I remember now. I also remember going straight to Just Dance 2015 when I got home. Despite the blood games of NMH2 and the promise of fun, gratuitous violence, I instead started with the dancing game, and... I really liked it. Although, now that I have played another Just Dance game, I can allow myself to be more critical of it. Let's start now!