A design element that deserves to die: The time limit

Ahh, our old enemy the time limit. Is there a lazier way for a designer to increase the difficulty of a game?

The latest object of my scorn due to this lazy design element is Star Fox Command on the Nintendo DS. Before you get to the Star Fox part of the Star Fox game, you plot out flight paths for Fox and his allies on an overhead map of the planet, keeping in mind enemy squadrons that approach the Great Fox, cities that need liberating, and objects on the map that may assist you in your quest. The caveat? You have a limited number of turns in which to accomplish the planet’s mission objective. You can increase the number of turns you have remaining by liberating cities under enemy control. →  Read the rest

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.21.07

PSP outsells DS in Japan
Square’s Final Fantasy VII spin off for the PSP, Crisis Core, sold half a million copies last week. It also sold PSPs. Possibly not all of the 95 thousand Sony sold in the week, but likely around 80 thousand, which is how many more units were sold than the previous week. Sony’s business strategy should be clear – simply release a spinoff of one of the most beloved games of all time once a week and the PSP will handily outsell the DS in Japan 1.2 to 1.

Or, to quote someone from a forum I read:
“If DS stopped selling and PSP continued at this rate, it would catch up in 139.7 weeks (May 21, 2010).”

Does anyone else feel nauseous?

Home delayed till Spring
Good for Sony. →  Read the rest

Playing catch up: Super Mario World

I was a Sega kid. This means different things to different people — I was deluded, I had bad taste, or maybe I loved action games? Yes, somewhat and no. Sega’s consoles gave me plenty of great games to play growing up, and I don’t regret knowing the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series as well as other gamers know the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

What I do regret is how little I know about the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. Everything in life costs something, even if only time, and playing so many Sega games necessarily meant I had little opportunity for Nintendo games.

Here is a partial, embarrassing list of titles I missed that I still hope to play:

Any Final Fantasy before 6
Any Dragon Quest before 7 and after 1
Link to the Past
Chrono Trigger
Super Metroid
Ocarina of Time
Super Mario World

Before yesterday, I had never played Super Mario World. →  Read the rest

Review – Meteos

As I have argued elsewhere on this site, I think Nintendo is doing wild and crazy things with their new age of systems that, if a few things fall into place correctly, will allow Nintendo to become a serious player again in the coming console war. They have simplified controls to the point that they are no longer intimidating to non-gamers and created games that appeal to entire demographics that are not traditionally interested in gaming. Meteos is the perfect example of how this strategy can succeed.

Blasting dirty hippy peace signs off of a planet is very rewarding.

Meteos is a straightforward puzzle game. Using the stylus, you line up at least three blocks of the same color, which then “launch.” If there are a lot of Meteos (blocks) on top of those you have launched they will not go as far as if there were fewer Meteos on top. →  Read the rest

Review – Star Trek: Shattered Universe

Developed by Stasphere Interactive
Published by TDK Mediactive
Released 1.13.04

No … this game was not made in 1990. Why would you say that?

This Trek game was developed by Starsphere Interactive whos last game seems to have been You Don’t Know Jack for the PS1. They should have stopped there. Just take a look at their impressive list of games and I believe you will already know where this review is going.

Being an enormous fan of the Trek universe, I really want the franchise to do well. Movies, books, new shows, video games; I just want them to make enough money to keep the universe alive. That’s why games like Shattered Universe bother me so much. I think this game was made in two months … by monkeys … monkeys who were somewhat slow. →  Read the rest