Saturday, 24 November 2007

Game Review: Loco Roco

Every second Wednesday (OK, every so often then...), I write about a game that I've played in a short/long review. These are only my thoughts and I'm not responsible if you buy a game based solely on my review and you hate the guts out of it...

Game - LocoRoco (PSP)

Games that break convention don’t come very often. We’re increasingly looking for realistic graphics, realistic gameplay and expecting complex control systems to go with it. Well, guess what? LocoRoco isn’t one of those games. In fact it’s just good, clean, simple fun that anyone can enjoy. One that deserves all the accolades it gets.

The basic premise is that the LocoRoco, round yellow creatures, lived on their planet, taking care of it and singing their troubles away, until the Mojas come down from space to take over the planet. Being a peaceful bunch, you have no choice but to help them out by tilting the planet and guiding them to rescue everyone. How do you do this? You simply tilt the world left and right and also shake the planet to cause the creatures to jump. That’s it!


Well, almost. First of all, as you eat berries, you will start to grow. This is a good thing as you need to grow to save some of your friends (like the blue MuiMui). Unfortunately, that also means that you’ll have trouble getting through narrow gaps. To get through these small gaps, you need to scare the LocoRoco and force them to split up into smaller LocoRoco to get through to the other side (and possibly eat a few more berries along the way). You can get to a size where you eventually split into 20 small LocoRoco in each level.

Finding the berries isn’t always easy. Sometimes they are hidden from view until you hit the right area, and some are hidden further still by being hidden in secret areas that you won’t see until you jump into them. Finding these areas is great fun and prolongs your stay in the game. A level can be finished within 3 to 4 minutes but by finding every single berry, you’ll end up taking 10 to 20 minutes to explore and jump into every single avenue.

There are many other things to see and interact with while you do all this. There are a few mini-games, a mini-house and eventually a small level editor to make your own level and send to your friends. The game has a huge amount of charm with a bubbly soundtrack that your yellow friends (and others) will sing to you as you explore the levels and make you grin from ear to ear. You also start to feel guilty when you hit an enemy who suddenly gobbles up one of your LocoRoco, which is a disaster if you’re trying to find them all.


This game is quite simply superb. Easy to pick up, difficult if you’re aiming for everything. The game has one the most simple control systems you’ll see on the PSP, using only 3 buttons in a level (2 for tilting the world, and one to split the LocoRoco up). The game just makes you feel warm inside thanks to the soundtrack and the colourful graphics. If there was one gripe about it, I’d say it might be that it’s too short. There are enough levels for the person wanting everything, but not enough for those who just whiz through. Also, the game might get a bit frustrating at times. For example, the ice levels can be a nightmare when avoiding the dangerous spikes. However, don’t let that put you off. If you’re a PSP owner who wants an original game, you should not miss this unless you really don’t care. Quite frankly, you must be pretty cold if you don’t.

Score: 9/10

Friday, 23 November 2007

Rumour: Patapon to reach Europe in February? (Update 1)

Earlier in the month, Team ICO Gamers reported that Patapon would be getting a February 2008 release. Although I had my doubts, it seemed plausible since some of the niche titles (coincidentally, like Shadow of the Colossus, We Love Katamari and Okami) tend to release in that month. Well, just to give the release date more credibility, the game is listed on as being released at the end of February. Of course there's so little text in the game that a release so close to the Japanese version (which seems to be heading for a 20th December 2007 release) is entirely feasible. aren't the most reliable when it comes to release dates but it looks like we might be heading to February to start shouting Pata Pata Pata Pon! Until the fateful day that this arrives in Europe, have a gander at their official Japanese website.

Update: Patapon was confirmed for a February release

Steal Princess revealed

Climax, the makers of the Shining Force series have opened the website for it's first DS title. Named Steal Princess, the game is an Action RPG that will make use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection capabilities. That's about all I can muster. However, the website also says something about December. Maybe we will find out more details then...

Trailer: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria European Trailer

This superb trailer was put up just a couple of weeks before the European release of the game in September. It shows a bit of the gameplay, the puzzling platform game aspects and "those" really nice CG sequences.

Trailer: First look at Nobi Nobi Boy

I'm playing catch up here but remember when I briefly told you about Nobi Nobi Boy being shown at GameCity in Nottingham? Well, someone kindly managed to film the event and thus we have a look at the game. So far, it's pretty weird if you asked me. Then again, so was We Love Katamari...

Ivolgamus release trailer for Fading Shadows

Fading Shadows is a puzzle-platformer game for PSP that sees the player guide an orb through levels by controlling a beam of light. This orb contains the soul of a young boy, and it is the player's job to rescue the boy by safely leading the orb to the Castle of Heaven.

There are 40 levels in total, and the difficulty level is perfectly balanced so that right when things start getting too familiar, another challenging element is thrown into the mix. Controlling the beam of light requires the player to master a uniquely original gameplay mechanic as the beam can be widened or narrowed for different effects, and the orb can be transformed into glass, wood and metal to surmount various obstacles.

In a sense, the beam acts like a magnet for the orb and the narrower the beam, the stronger the gravitational pull. Whether the orb is made of metal, wood or glass will also affect how the beam interacts with the orb. If the beam is too strong, wood will burn and glass will break. Yet these more fragile states are needed as puzzles require the player to activate underwater switches or float across rivers – metal just isn't suited to water and will quickly rust upon contact.

The in-game graphics are incredibly detailed and immersive as each level offers the player an enthralling new environment to explore with plenty of obstacles to overcome. Even once you've finished the game, the fun doesn't stop. A fast-paced and exciting multiplayer mode lets you test your skills against friends wirelessly.

Fading Shadows is scheduled for a February 2008 release.

The trailer can be downloaded at Ivolgamus' website.

[Update: The trailer has been uploaded by Gametrailers. Best quality you'll probably see!]

SEGA releases first images of NiGHTS remake

After announcing that they are re-making the Saturn classic NiGHTS for PS2, SEGA today released the first images of the new game in action.

Titled NiGHTS: Into Dreams, the game is heading for a Japanese release on the 21st February 2008.

NiGHTS: Into Dreams - First Images

The weekend has arrived!

Been a while since I last did this. It's Friday, so what's everyone up to?

Myself, I'll be hammering the beats on the PSP and playing Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria on the PS2.

Ah, VP2. The game looks superb and the mix of platforming and RPG elements is great fun. Basically, you control Alicia in a 2D/3D world and you have to shoot crystals, called photons which can freeze your enemies into a crystal. If you shoot a photon at the crystal, you can switch places, gaining access to places you haven't been before!

I'm only 3 hours in (I've just started coming in off the back of Shadow Hearts: From the new World) but so far, this game deserves the reviews it has been getting!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Trailer: Valkyrie of the Battlefield Gameplay

This video of the upcoming PS3 game gives you the basic military training and shows you how to beat your opponents by walking on top of buildings, sneaking in the grass, or just shooting on sight. Unfortunately, it's all in Japanese so you'll probably still not be fit for battle.

This week's UK releases (23rd to 29th November)

Every Thursday, I report on what is being released this week on all consoles. Releases are subject to last minute delays and changes.

Guitar Hero 3 - Legends of Rock
Kane and Lynch - Dead Men
Need For Speed - Prostreet

XBOX 360
Ace Combat 6 - Fires of Liberation
Guitar Hero 3 - Legends of Rock
Kane and Lynch - Dead Men
Mass Effect
Need For Speed - Prostreet
Rainbow 6 Vegas (Xbox 360 Classics)
The Elder Scrolls Oblivion - Shivering Isles Expansion Pack

Dewys Adventure
Guitar Hero 3 - Legends of Rock
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
Need For Speed - Prostreet
My Horse and Me

Cars Mater-national
Guitar Hero 3 - Legends of Rock
Jackass - The Game
Need For Speed - Prostreet

Bratz 4 Real
Company of Heroes - Gold Pack
Company of Heroes - GOTY Edition
Kane and Lynch - Dead Men
My Horse and Me
Need For Speed - Prostreet
Painkiller Overdose
Supreme Commander - Forged Alliance Expansion Pack
Supreme Commander - Gold Edition
Unreal Tournament III

Boulderdash Rocks
Cars Mater-national
Mario Party
My French Coach
My Horse and Me
My Spanish Coach
Need For Speed - Prostreet
Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots
Sight Training
Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys

Crash of the Titans
Jackass - The Game
Warhammer 40000 - Squad Command

Source: Eurogamer

First impressions: beats

Apart from the surprise release of the new PC-PSP Store (as in the one that was supposed to be released after Christmas), there were more surprises in-store when the European version of the Store had the full version of beats, a new game that managed to evade pretty much everyone's attention. At the moment, beats is only available in the European store while Americans have to make do with a trailer (though as usual they still got the better deal elsewhere). At £4.99, it seems like a good bargain, but is it up to the task?

I downloaded the game last night and so far, I've enjoyed it. The game itself takes up around 230MB on your memory stick (can't remember the exact figure at the moment) after you purchase it. The game takes your MP3 collection from the memory stick and puts a button sequence to the music, which is then given to you as a stage of the game. In other words, the game will last as long as you have music on your stick. If you feel you don't like the music in your collection, there's always the standard music wrapped in with the game.

In the game itself, your aim is to hit the right button as it's symbol scrolls on the screen, hitting it when the corresponding symbol reaches the centre circle. In Novice mode, you can see one circle and you can just concentrate on getting your button presses correct. In Normal mode and above, you will see three buttons from left to right. If a button symbol heads towards the left or right circles, you need to press the corresponding direction on the d-pad before you can press the button.

The more symbols you hit in time, the better your score and your chain will go up which in turn increases your multiplier. At some points, the symbol that comes onto the screen will have a trail of special sparkles. If you hit this one, your Overdrive meter, which is shown on the left of the screen, will go up. Once this is full, you can press the L button to double your multiplier for a few seconds. The better you use the overdrive, the more points you can score (after all, you don't want to use it up while the symbols aren't coming!)

I'm fairly impressed by the accuracy of the game to change the music to something playable. Let it be known that my taste in music is at the moment, Japanese music and game soundtracks, with a hint of electrical classical music. During my first round of stages, the buttons were pretty much in-tune with what I had. In terms of difficulty, novice and normal are straightforward enough but Hard is just insane and I can't begin to imagine what Expert is. Maybe too much of a spike there. The game also suffers from a slight slowdown when things get busy. Also, I would have liked a way to play all the stages from one of my collections and getting a total score at the end, rather than picking an individual song each time.

The game also features a jamming session where you can make and record your own tunes. I haven't explored it yet but it seemed pretty complex to me (tutorials are available for both modes of play). It might be worth exploring it, if you're a budding musician but if you're just here to play the game, it's safe to skip over this.

Is it worth £4.99? In my eyes, yes. The game is pretty solid aside from the niggles and if you have a huge music collection, then the game can last a long time. Just make sure you don't try the hard level too quickly on a rock song. It's bad enough with the Okami soundtrack...

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Super Mario Galaxy racks up 500k in sales

In just a week, the first outing for Mario on Wii has seen a huge success with over 500,000 copies sold in the U.S. alone.

The game is also doing well in reviews, having scored an overall 97.4% on, coming very close to the much heralded Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which has an aggregate score of 97.6%. It's all good news for Nintendo and with Christmas closing in, sales can only go up. Not that it's a bad thing. Galaxy is an amazingly fun game.

PSP Store Launches

Sony has launched the long awaited PSP store in western territories. Similar to the one used by PlayStation 3 owners, the store offers full games, demos, videos, music and other media for download.

SCEE has also revealed "Beats," a new bemani-style music game where players use their own MP3's to hit buttons in the correct combination and in time with the track. The game, along with many others is available for purchase from the UK version of the PSP Store.

Fragile RPG coming soon for the Wii [Update]

Famitsu have unveiled a new RPG coming to the Wii console, called Fragile. The game is from Namco, the makers of Eternal Sonata and the Tales series. Scans of the pages for this are circulating the net, like this.


The official website is open. Go have a look!

New Contributor: Alex Rowe

Hello everyone, I'm Alex and from today I'll be contributing to Hiding in a Game World by covering news and press releases.

Although my main interests in the industry are Fumito Ueda, his team and their games, I love videogames so I'm very grateful to HiddenAway for giving me this opportunity to write about the things which do not fit on my blog.

I guess there isn't much else to say about me... See you all around!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Trailer: Operation: Darkness

Here's a trailer for one of the 2 XBox360 RPG's I mentioned. If I'm perfectly honest, it looks pretty good. Keep an eye on it!

For a Hero, you're Pretty Impudent: Free demo

Well, it's better than remembering the Japanese name isn't it? Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaiki da, or FAHYPI for ultimate shorthand is a game where you play as the villian and you have to kill the good guys that come after you. I've been fooling around with the game thanks to this free demo, and it's been a surreal experience so far. Loads of green blobs and skeleton warrior guard dogs/humans. Worth keeping an eye on as we approach the game's release.

Instructions for the demo:

Firmware required: 3.72


Menu screen

x - cancel
square/circle - select option

From left to right

1. Play (Training and actual gameplay)
2. Monster inventory?
3. Options (BGM and SE)

In game

circle - speed up text
x - skip speaking person
square - hit block/object
triangle - zoom out
select - monsters on field
start - pause
L - see character/current pickaxe position

How to play

In the training levels, you need to crush the blocks to reveal the amount of "blobs" required (shown at the bottom) within the time. The monsters get harder to find and the blobs do wonderful things when they hit a block (tip: look for white).

In the main demo levels, you have to build up your army of bad guys and beat up the good guy that comes after you.

Gaming news in brief

Been away for a while but I'm back and now ready for a quick catch up!

Atlus announces localisation for 2 RPG's for the XBox360

Dragoneer's Aria approaches Europe

Zack & Wiki delayed to February 2008

Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness for Europe in December (maybe 7th)!

PS3's Nobi Nobi Boy shown at GameCity

Source: Eurogamer