First Impressions

We know how much you want to know more about a new release once it releases, so our First Impressions page is our way of getting our thoughts to you as soon as possible before we're satisfied to write a final review. Take some of our opinions here with a pinch of salt as they may change from now until the review goes live.

Madagascar 3: The Video Game (Wii) - First Impressions

posted 13 Jun 2012, 20:16 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 13 Jun 2012, 20:16 ]

In line with the release of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted which, little did I know, has been in theaters for a week already as of today, Madagascar 3: The Video Game sees the familiar cast of eclectic, talking animals as they try to find their way back home to New York City -- yes, still after all this time. In keeping with the prevailing circus theme, how is the game doing at putting on a show of its own?

Well, one of the first things I observed about it that I wasn't made clear on before was that this is actually designed to be a two-player co-op experience by the looks of things. That doesn't stop solo players from enjoying what this game has to offer; using the 1 and 2 Buttons you can switch between the two active characters for a specific mission. I have yet to encounter a mission where I've been able to go the whole way with just one character, which led me to the conclusion just described. Each of the playable characters -- Melman, Gloria, Alex, and Marty -- have their own special abilities, though I'd hardly refer to them as anything substantial. Melman can sneeze at enemies and, in the process, produce a stomp that can open up closed-up compartments, while Gloria's specialties are hip bumping and diving underwater.

The game's Story Mode is a mission-based affair where, after completing the training missions, the wise-cracking penguins will take the team to European locations to seek out items and accomplish assorted tasks. Within these environments, you'll find Animal Control officers who will try to bring you in if you draw too much attention to yourself. To lay low, you can press the C Button to whip out a disguise, but I am currently on the fence as to the value of this feature. As an aside from the standard fetch-quest-type missions, I've encountered a few of the additional activities the development team has thrown in to vary the pace a bit. One of these tasks you with escaping the clutches of Captain DuBois -- yet another belonging to the Animal Control team -- by running down the streets of Rome, collecting balloons and jumping over crates like hurdles on an Olympic race track. 

So far, nothing out of the ordinary has popped up yet. What has popped up has left me with a few concerns that reside on multiple ends of the spectrum, but I am by no means taking an early stance on the quality of the game just yet. As the game continues to takes me back and forth through hoops, I'm interested to see if these hoops are then set ablaze later on in the experience. I'm cautiously hopeful for reasons I will not disclose just yet. For more details on that and more, stay tuned for my full review later this month.

Shifting World - First Impressions

posted 9 May 2012, 19:29 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 13 Jun 2012, 19:16 ]

Shifting World is a game about a parallel dimension that may offer just as much of a change in perception as CRUSH3D. It stars a character who can traverse between positive and negative space to get across seemingly impassable barricades and gaps. In a world full of squares and rectangles of varying sizes, you need to bounce back between these two phases constantly to reach the exit door located somewhere in each level. In many cases, you'll also need to locate keys that, interestingly enough, aren't for unlocking the aforementioned door. Special blocks with key symbols disappear as each of these are retrieved, opening up new paths that may not have been there a minute ago.

The levels I've encountered up to this point have been interesting. They demonstrate a sort of thought process that encourages players to plan and see changes in perspective ahead of time to avoid wasting time needlessly. Losing progress can prove costly if you can't remember the sequence of events that got you to that spot you accidentally fell from. So far, there's been nothing severe, but it would be interesting to see if there's more pressure on that front as the levels progress. In a similar fashion, I'm hoping that a few of the concerns I have right out of the gate will be addressed moving forward. Without getting into too much detail at this point, I will say that because there is no indication (in the game) of how many stages are present, the difficulty could ramp up significantly. Given what I've seen so far and the kind of game that it is, I think that's a fair assumption to make.

Thus far, the game is going just fine, but we shall see what happens as I continue to sink time into this. Stay tuned for a full review of Shifting World.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land - First Impressions

posted 23 Nov 2011, 20:36 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 27 Nov 2011, 10:01 ]

It's a mighty return indeed for Kirby as his latest game, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, takes a top spot on Nintendo's list of holiday releases. We here at Wiiloveit are thrilled to see Kirby back in action this year. As you await Patrick's upcoming review, here are some impressions if you haven't had the chance to check out the game yet.

While I didn't take a full tour of Dream Land when I tried the game a couple weeks back, playing a few levels from the entire adventure left me feeling really satisfied. My entire session consisted of stages from the game's second world, Raisin Ruins. (Gotta love those food-themed world names!) Not even 30 seconds into the game and I already had a great understanding of the controls. Holding the Wii Remote sideways, the D-Pad is used to control your selected character, while the 2 Button is used to jump -- or hover when pressed repeatedly. Holding Up or Down on the D-Pad along with a press of the 2 Button will execute different variations of your basic attack. Unless you're playing as King Dedede, Waddle Dee or Meta Knight, you can also press and hold the 1 Button to inhale nearby objects and enemies.

Besides making it to the end, your primary focus in each level is to gather missing parts of the large ship situated at the central hub. These parts (called Energy Spheres) are usually easy to spot, but there were some that were only seen after doing a quick sweep of the area or taking a path that differed from the normal route. Kirby's Return to Dream Land's strengths stem from its co-operative focus, where teams of 2-4 can go through levels with relative ease if they can get a working system going. In addition to the return of the health sharing ability seen in previous Kirby titles, you can also jump on top of your partner and have them literally carry you the rest of the way -- if you want them to. Playing in a co-operative setting, the mini-bosses at the end of levels are hardly threatening, which naturally means that the enemies are generally easy to defeat -- as has been the case in the past. The world bosses are slightly more challenging in nature, but once again, a well-rounded team can get the job done without having the leader lose all their health.

Now as for some of the more interesting elements I was exposed to, it was interesting to see how the game attempted to incorporate a puzzle element mostly for returning visitors. Some areas of a level are closed off on your first go for the sake of encouraging you to come back a second time, while others simply require a bit of forethought to gain access to the initial visit. In one level, there was a crystal item that could make Kirby invisible so he could walk through walls made of the same material. If you raced to the end of the section where you found the item, the next segment featured a wall just below the entrance where one of those key items was being held. I thought that was pretty neat.

Much more thrilling, though, are the action-oriented ability upgrades. Also known as Super Abilities, these power-ups -- dropped by special enemies -- can result in devastating on-screen effects where parts of the destructible environments will get destroyed, as well as any enemies that are caught in the path of the attack. It's really sweet! Then you also have these secret star warps, portals that lead to a grayscale world where time and space appear to be unraveling. I wasn't quite sure what needs to be done for these to appear in the first place, but in their mysteriousness, it actually encourages you to destroy parts of the environment, take the time to outsmart enemies instead of just zipping past them, and so on. 

As I played the game, I was reminded of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, which is a good thing considering that's one of my favourite Kirby games to date. Not because the structure or even the presentation is similar, but the overall positive vibes that pulled me into that great platformer is what tried to grab me here, and more. I have to say, pulling myself away from this game wasn't easy. The levels I tried were exciting, which isn't a word one I would usually associate with Kirby games. Based on everything I saw, it seems to me that Kirby's Return to Dream Land will become more and more of an experience that you can really savor and not just rush through. Stay tuned for Patrick's full review of the game, coming soon!

Pokémon Rumble Blast - First Impressions

posted 25 Oct 2011, 06:27 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 25 Oct 2011, 06:28 ]

25th October 2011; By Billy
It was quite a surprise to see this title amongst the 3DS stuff at Eurogamer, mostly because it had slipped my notice that this game even
existed. I remember playing the WiiWare demo of Pokémon Rumble and thinking to myself "I'd like to buy the full thing one day." I still haven't got round to doing that. As far as I'm aware, though, the action on the 3DS version is pretty similar to the original.

    For those unfamiliar with Rumble, the unique feature about this game is that instead of collecting Pokémon to fight for you, you actually play as the Pokémon themselves. The game uses a combination of RPG and action elements as you teleport to and make your way through different level stages, defeating all Pokémon you meet along your way. 

    This is done by making use of each creature's different abilities. So, if you were Pikachu, you'd be able to channel your electric prowess and zap your opponents, watching their health bar slide down until they've been successfully defeated. If you are killed in action, low on health, or you just feel like making use of a different set of powers, you can always change to one of the other 'mon that you've managed to capture along your journey, allowing your creatures to level up as they defeat more and more enemies on the move.

    Pokémon Rumble Blast also features some multiplayer options for co-op experiences, but sadly I didn't get a chance to try these out. Overall, the game plays pretty well, and those who enjoyed the original Rumble should be sure to check it out. Thanks to the 3DS' current, somewhat undersaturated lineup, this game should prove to be a nice, new experience for Pokéfans and non-Pokéfans alike. Stay tuned for Patrick's full review of Pokémon Rumble Blast.

Just Dance 3 - First Impressions

posted 21 Oct 2011, 20:31 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 21 Oct 2011, 20:31 ]

Just Dance 3
, everybody -- one of the hottest games to release this month. Let's see how long it takes before this new installment tops the charts. Of course, sales are one thing, but what we really care about is whether or not the game is actually fun. And with quite a few gamers still questioning the structure and longevity of this franchise, that answer is more important than ever.

There are more songs included this time than there were in the last two games, which is always good. But I'm more concerned about the variety, myself. I can already say that I'm less enthused about the songlist than I was last time, but that's before I've given 90% of the routines a try. Thankfully, one of the first songs I picked (Da Funk by Daft Punk) made me feel optimistic about the game's strength as a successing title. Having said that, trying the Party Rock Anthem routine left me feeling the very opposite. Seeing the preview clips prior to release, I half expected it to be lame, but having actually played it, I can now confirm that it is. Plus, the fact that I very easily scored 10,000 Points on it worries me.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting such a dramatic change in the interface so when I saw how the menus were divided up this time around, it was a bit surprising at first. However, from what I can tell so far, it seems like these changes are mostly for the better. From the Dance menu, there are three buttons running along the top that you can choose from: Playlists, Songs and Specials. It's a different way of organizing everything so it's going to take me a bit to get used to it.

There's a brand new unlock system in this game where earning stars in songs will go towards unlockable gifts (Specials). These gifts include secondary modes like Simon Says, and apparently new choreographies. It's very interesting that instead of presenting all of the modes at once, you need to make them available over time, which I think makes Just Dance 3 have less of a pick-up-and-play appeal in that sense. In other respects, though, there are areas that seem to work much more in the game's favor. 

Downloadable content makes a return once again, with four DLC tracks up for grabs right now for 250 Wii Points each. Inside the box, there's some printed material detailing how players can download new songs from the in-game Store. This is obviously in response to the innumerable calls for help on Facebook asking how to get to that area of the game. I'm not sure why it was so hard for people to figure that out in the first place, but I digress.

Based on my initial observations, the game is decent so far. We'll see how the other songs turn out. Will it turn out to be more of the same with little-to-no improvements to speak of, or will it manage to be a worthy successor to Just Dance 2? Time will tell. For now, though, check out this run I did earlier today of Da Funk (by Daft Punk) where I almost get a 5-Star ranking.


MotoHeroz - First Impressions

posted 15 Sep 2011, 19:18 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 15 Sep 2011, 19:26 ]

Can you picture Sonic the Hedgehog getting swapped out for a monster truck? Neither can I. But that's about the best way I can describe MotoHeroz. Sending monster trucks through loop de loops may sound a bit stiff, but that all changes when you actually get to playing. It may not have the speed of a Sonic game, but as a hybrid racer/party game it sure has spunk.

Instead of following normal racing game practices, MotoHeroz attempts to do something different with its blend of platforming and racing gameplay styles. The vehicles in this game conform to a rather bouncy physics system where a small dip can overturn your car if you're not careful. Players get to use the +Control Pad to tilt the wheels on their vehicles either forward or back to prevent this very thing from happening. Since any little dip along a portion of the track can cause your truck to tip over onto one side, it's important that you learn to control just how much your chosen vehicle is affected by the terrain.

Levels feature assorted design elements like large spinning wheels, and even trees that can be knocked down to create a crossable platform. On a regular basis, you'll find coins lying around for you to collect, as well as special blue orbs that are usually not found along the main path. These items are referred to as Ancestor Spirits, but at this point I'm uncertain as to how they relate to the story. As the level designs continue to grow, pick-ups like parachutes and springs also appearover time in select stages.

Much of my time with the game thus far has been spent in the Story Adventure mode, but I did test out the online component as well. Essentially, you have a small list of challenges that you can complete for a limited time only before more challenges open up. Completing a run will earn you points towards an overall worldwide ranking depending on where you fall on the leaderboards. I have encountered two types thus far: One-Stop and Unlimited. With the former type, excluding any pre-event practice sessions you participate in, you only have one shot at submitting a good score. With Unlimited challenges, however, you're allowed to try as many times as you want until the challenge is no longer open. Other than completing online challenges, you can also organize an online group with friends without the use of Friend Codes. You just create a group name and assign it your own secret password. It seems like a neat way of organizing matches.

After nearly two hours of initial playtime, with more than half an hour being spent just in the online mode alone, I think it's safe to say my confidence in MotoHeroz wasn't misplaced. I'm having fun with the game thus far, and I look forward to seeing how else the game will try and hold my attention. Worth $15? We'll see!

Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension - First Impressions

posted 2 Aug 2011, 14:22 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 15 Nov 2011, 18:45 ]

As of today, Disney's latest multi-platform release, Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension, will be hitting store shelves. Disney was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the game for review in advance. Can Disney keep up the positive streak they've been having in the gaming world? As you await the answer to that question (as presented in my upcoming review), hopefully these brief impressions will hold you over until then.

The game starts off by keeping things close to home -- the Flynn home to be exact -- with the Gelatin Dimension. Initially, you take control of Phineas, with Ferb being controlled by the CPU. You can switch between the two using the 1 Button, or take full control using the game's drop-in co-op system. Over time, you'll unlock new characters as the plot advances, some of which are automatically added to the team while others must be purchased using tickets.

The controls are pretty solid, with most of it being button-controlled. For those wondering, motion control isn't a big component here. A shake of the Wii Remote is typically used to execute your melee attack, or free you when trapped in a gelatin cube. So any worries of that nature should be put to rest. Your main attacks come from six different gadgets that you'll be equipped with over the course of the game. Continued use will level them up, and by visiting Workbench areas within each location you can upgrade things like ammo capacity.

To get past some obstacles, the boys will have to create some inventions. At certain points in a level, a blueprint will appear, identifying nearby parts you'll need to collect. Other occasions call for different solutions, like firing a baseball through a hole and controlling it inside a small shaft.

Beyond your starting point, there are five other dimensions to travel to, each presenting new ideas than the last. Aside from the standard platforming stages, there are also boss fights and flight missions. At the end of each level, you'll get to use any Gold Tokens you collected to play bonus games where you can earn tickets to unlock different sorts of rewards. On a similar note, there are plenty of extras to be sought after including medals and character skins. The game definitely keeps you busy, but for how long? Time will tell.

I hope that's given you a bit of a taste for what the game is like; you can look forward to my full review soon. To assist with the wait, I've also prepared a couple videos of in-game footage which can be found on our YouTube channel, WiiloveitTV. Be sure to take a look at the vids if you have time, and please do let me know if you have any general questions about the game.



Bobby Carrot Forever - First Impressions

posted 24 Jul 2011, 07:29 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 24 Jul 2011, 07:42 ]

After a bit of wait to see Bobby Carrot Forever release on WiiWare service, is it worth getting excited over? Read on for some brief impressions to hold you over until the pending review.

Bobby Carrot Forever features six worlds with ten main levels each, where players will use the D-Pad on the Wii Remote to guide a stubby rabbit to the target at the end of each level. For the target to become active, you must first collect all of the carrots in the level. Sounds easy enough, right? In addition to the normal stages, there are also bonus stages where you must collect as many coins as you can within the time limit. 

Some of the puzzle elements I've seen so far include using a lawnmower to mow bushes, a hang glider pick-up that will send you flying to other platforms by walking through a mini-tornado, and lilypads that can cross water using single-direction movements. It's not all unique, but the game doesn't feel like a total copycat of other games either.

Thus far, I've cleared one third of the game's levels with about an hour's worth of playtime. The puzzles I've solved so far have all been low difficulty (according to the game), yet on some of these, I did have to stop and think how to go about activating switches or crossing single-use bridges in the right order. There are some elements designed to throw you off as they are not required to solve the puzzle, so you can't just activate everything randomly and hope for the best. I look forward to seeing how the stages improve as I move onto the medium- and high-difficulty worlds. 

Last time a logic game like this appeared on WiiWare, I didn't think too much of it. Will Bobby Carrot Forever just secure an average placement for itself, or will it turn out to be of a higher standard? All I can say for now is that I kind of like the game, but I'm hoping the next sets of worlds will present some new ideas or more interesting puzzles to solve. Stay tuned for a full review of this game soon.

FAST Racing League - First Impressions

posted 30 May 2011, 13:39 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 30 May 2011, 13:43 ]

Everyone on the Wiiloveit team has been eagerly looking forward to FAST Racing League especially with the depressing state the WiiWare service has been in as of late. Since Shin'en first unveiled their latest WiiWare-exclusive many months ago, we've received many visual teases that have shown the game to hold a major amount of promise. And I for one am really excited that it is finally here. After having spent over an hour with the game, I can confidently say FAST is proving to be a really strong title. 

In this futuristic racer, you take control of one of six sleek ships, participating in tournaments and races on any of the game's twelve tracks. As you swerve around corners and zoom along straightaways, you'll notice energy-powered orbs on the track which can be used to activate your boost power or flip between the light and dark phases. Aside from instilling a great sense of speed, the game principally focuses on the element of phase-changing and this is reflected in the different track designs.

Depending on what phase you have active at a given time, you'll be able to use certain gimmicks on the track like jump or boost pads to stay ahead. Going over a boost pad with the wrong-coloured phase will end up slowing you down, but in the case of the jump pads, it is possible to avoid some of them completely. In doing so, you'll take a different route which may or may not work in your favor. You'll have to experiment on the fly and get used to each track after multiple plays to determine the most ideal strategies.

The game is set up much like other racing games, where you have multiple tournaments to complete on three difficulty settings. Jumping from the first set of leagues to the next, I noticed that along with having more challenging rivals, the pace of the game gets faster. I'm really looking forward to seeing the third difficult setting (Ion) and how that plays out.

For the first 15 minutes or so, I was jumping back and forth between control schemes. Initially, I stuck with the default control scheme, but I soon found this to be a bit uncomfortable for my tastes. I also tested out the Classic Controller for a bit and that worked fine, but I'm finding that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo is the best way to play so far. 

So far, it looks like the game will last at least 3 or 4 hours without taking multiplayer into consideration. Currently I'm at the second League on the Proton difficulty and it's been a blast. I haven't touched the Challenges or looked into the Unlockables menu yet, but I'll probably make my way there soon. But right now I can tell you that FAST Racing League is lots of fun to play, and I'm already craving to experience more of it. We'll have a full review on the site soon, but in the meantime, feel free to check out this video of one of the tracks in the game. Let us know if you'd like more footage!


Face Raiders - First Impressions

posted 20 Mar 2011, 08:42 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 20 Mar 2011, 08:56 ]

In playing Face Raiders for the first time at the 3DS Demo Station, I didn't exactly get the "fullest experience". I started in the middle of someone else's game, so there was already a face set up and everything. But at least I managed to sneak in some time with this built-in application. 

In a nutshell, Face Raiders uses AR technology to create a simulation of floating enemies in the real world that you need to defeat. The app will have you turning your 3DS around you to locate and exterminate monsters by pressing the A Button. Icons appear off to the sides of the screen to indicate to you where these human-like creatures are hiding. There are also mines floating in the air that you need to avoid hitting. As well, there's an enemy leader who tries to hover behind some of its subjects to dodge your attacks. You'll need to observe his tendencies, daze him with one of your shots and hit the red gem on his helmet to defeat him and clear the round. 

I quickly got a glimpse of the Main Menu too. In addition to the three different levels, there's also a 'Face Collection' that keeps track of all the juxtaposed images you've used, and a 'Show Friend' feature that I didn't look into further. My time with Face Raiders was quite brief but it turned out to be as I expected -- decent fun but nothing worth getting excited about. It uses AR in a somewhat clever way if only because it takes a similar approach that Nintendo did with Photo Dojo on DSiWare. I wasn't particularly fond of it and I can't see myself playing it that much, but we'll see if that changes when I get the 3DS for myself.

This concludes my 6-Part series of 3DS software impressions! Stay tuned to Wiiloveit.com for more coverage on the 3DS in the coming weeks.



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