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On the Horizon: the Nintendo consoles, spring 2010
by Sean Engemann

Spring is upon us, which means we can finally stow that nasty old snow shovel away for the next several months and pick up the Wiimote or DS a little more. Oh wait, I guess that grass isn’t going to cut itself. Crap. But, for those you who don’t have to worry about tedious Spring chores (lucky), there are some nice titles hitting the Wii in the next few months. I’m only diving into the Wii this time around because I was hard pressed to find any noteworthy games for the DS (besides Tetris Party Deluxe). I may need to delve a little bit deeper to find them, but please, if there’s one or more solid ones you know about coming in the next few months, let me know about it and I’ll put together an exclusive DS “On The Horizon” piece.

Now, onto the games…

Super Mario Galaxy 2

How can I start anywhere else than with the Big N’s mustachioed mascot in his big Wii sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2? Once again you will launch yourself across the galaxy, this time travelling in your own starship, battling baddies on large and small planetoids, defying many laws of gravity, much like the first game of the series. And much like its predecessor, you will use features such as Pull Stars and reverse-gravity arrows to obtain stars in order to unlock new levels. The biggest inclusion would have to be the return of that lovable green dinosaur mount, Yoshi. As we can expect, Yoshi brings forth his usual tools such as his long and sticky tongue and the ability to power up by eating different fruits; some that make him quickly dash, inflate like a balloon, and even find secrets paths. Mario will also have a healthy new supply of power-ups, like Cloud Mario, Rock Mario, and a drill which allows you to tunnel through the ground. Don’t expect anything new as far as graphics quality or music, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the first game was absolutely gorgeous to look at, and the orchestrated music was equally pleasant to listen to. Although this is a definite purchase for myself and any other Nintendophiliacs out there, I’m going to remain a bit sceptical. As fun as the game may be, and even though we’ve been told by Nintendo’s big boys that the game contains over 90% new content, right now it just doesn’t seem like enough of a break from the first game to keep it fresh. I hope the game proves me wrong, and you can definitely expect a review from me on this on. Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be released in Europe on June 11th and in the U.S. on May 27th.

Metroid: Other M

Alright, just a quick teaser here about Metroid: Other M, the next game in the venerable series. Since it is technically coming out shortly after the Summer Solstice, I won’t dive into it here, but you can expect a thorough preview as we get closer to the release date. Until then, the official website has a couple of nice trailers for you to enjoy.

Tetris Party Deluxe

Let me move on then to another long running series, Tetris. You all know it, and most of you love it. Well, if you weren’t smart enough to download Tetris Party for the WiiWare, here’s your chance for redemption. A full-fledged disc/cartridge version of Tetris Party Deluxe is coming to the Wii and the DS, and includes all the wonderful game modes that made the WiiWare version a hit, along with even more to satiate your puzzling appetite. Add that to the full spectrum of Wii peripherals that can be used to play, and you can expect a solid solo or multiplayer experience. The Wii Speak, Mario Kart wheel, and the Balance Board are all used to make it the most versatile Tetris, or any game for that matter, available for the Wii. Remember using your bottom on the Balance Board to move around the Tetrominoes? Well it’s time to find that ass grove again. You will also be able to use the Wii Speak as a chatting (taunting) device when playing multiplayer matches. My biggest hope for this version is that Hudson and Tetris Online continue the success of the tournament they created back in December of 2008 and give us a stable mode to win prizes, or better yet a league would be killer. Sign me up! For the DS most of the game modes found on the Wii version (minus the ones that require a Wii peripheral) are also available for the DS. You can even chat in multiplayer using the microphone on the DS, so no heavy breathing… it’s a sign of weakness. Since Tetris began its legacy on a handheld, it only makes sense to bring it to the DS, and hails as one of the easiest games pick up and play, and one the best for those on-the-go gaming spurts (or long car rides). Both the Wii and DS versions are scheduled for a Q2 2010 release.

Trauma Team

Trauma Team, an installment from the Trauma Center series, will hit U.S. stores on May 18th with no European release date set, but probably to be expected late spring or early summer. Trauma Team keeps some similarities with the other games of the series, such as the Japanime art style and comic book presentation, along with the character intrigue and overblown plotlines. Oh yeah, and the medical procedures too. The difference this time around is that you are not confined to just performing surgeries. You’ll also get to work with endoscopy, orthopedics, forensics, first response, and diagnosis, all which come with different tools for you to use. Forensics and diagnosis will bring elements of CSI and House to the anime world, as you must use devices other than surgical tools in order to solve the murder or discover the medical condition. For these tasks, instead of the patient losing vitals for poor skills, there is a limit counter which racks up any mental mistakes you make and will fail the mission if you have too many brain lapses. For the most part the characters are all new and a mixed bag of backgrounds and attitudes, which plays well with the chaotic life that is medicine. I’m saddened that there is no mention of using the WiiMotion Plus peripheral for this game. While the motion controls in previous games of the series functioned well enough, there really are more boundaries you can cross with the WiiMotion Plus. That alone may get my thumbs down after I try the game.

Arc Rise Fantasia

Finally for the Wii is Arc Rise Fantasia, a new RPG game, yet containing elements that will make gamers think of Tales of Symphonia, the Star Ocean series, and the Dragon Quest series. Now I must admit that I am not a huge fan of Japanese-style RPG games, but the lack of classic turn-based RPGs for the Wii has given me the inkling to look a little closer at this one. The Meridian Empire which you explore promises to be an expansive and full of monsters to combat. The game boasts a large roster of playable characters, all with different aspirations, which will create many different engaging plotlines. You can expect to lose about 60 hours trying to complete the game, and that’s without doing any side quests. The battles are turn-based, which although some may label as outdated, I like to call refreshingly nostalgic. During a battle sequence, all the characters use the same AP gauge to carry out their movements and attacks. There are also various combos that can be chained together, adding a nice strategic element, which definitely need to be utilised in the later levels of the game. In typical fashion, you can also summon giant beasts to carry out massive attacks. So don’t expect to see any groundbreaking new features, but if you’re a fan of the tried and true turn-based formula, this one is definitely worth at least a rental. Arc Rise Fantasia is slated for Q2 2010 for Europe, and will hit American shelves on June 22nd.

So that’s the list for the next few months, some worth a little coin to try out, and some that definitely need to be picked up and placed alongside your great collection. I’ll be keeping eye out for any surprises that may come out of this year’s E3, and hope to bring you a jam-packed summer edition of “On The Horizon”.


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- Sean Engemann

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