Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ice Hockey

Icehockey Cover Art

Oh Nintendo, you sure do love yourself some sports.

Ice Hockey on the Nintendo Entertainment System is as simplistic as it is incredibly fun; the gameplay is fast paced and the controls are smooth. Nintendo Power rated Ice Hockey at the 142nd spot for best game on a Nintendo system and it was also featured on IGN top 100 list sitting at the 100 mark. Ice hockey stands as one of the best sports games ever released on the NES with its incredibly addictive gameplay and multiplayer options. The game isn't totally faithful to regular hockey standards as each team only consists of five players (including the goalie), and instead of the players involved in fights both being penalized, whichever player loses the fight is sent by himself to the box for a three minute penalty. Icing can occur but is rare, and that is the only other call aside from fights that the game has.

Ice Hockey (1)

Amazingly a lot of Hockey Players were born this year, coincidence? I think not.

As mentioned earlier the game’s modes come in two flavors: single player and multiplayer. The only major difference between a “2 Player Game” and a “1 Player Game” is that your opponent is either controlled by an actually person (i.e. a friend or the like,) or a computer. Each mode consists of one match which is broken up into three periods. Each of which are set to seven minutes as a standard but can be changed along with the speed of which the players move and how fast time passes. If there is a tie by the end of the last period, a shootout occurs between the two teams where they shoot to win, however if both teams still have the same scores by the end of the shootout an overtime match will occur where the teams will face off once more. If there is a tie by the end of overtime another face off occurs and this cycle repeats indefinitely until a team wins.

Once you’ve selected a mode, you are treated to the settings selection screen where you pick what team you wish to play as. Team-wise you get to pick between the United States, Sweden, Poland, Canada, Russia, and Czechoslovakia. There are no benefits to choosing one team over another as they are merely aesthetic in function and are just palette swaps. Though I’m sure everyone has ideas for dream matches so it does add some form of competitiveness for those who root for teams from other countries. You can also change the speed of the match, it basically increases the speed of the players and the speed at which the clock times down. The time setting is fairly self-explanatory, it controls how long the periods are.

Ice Hockey (U) [!]_002

A rivalry that has existed since the dawn of time, a tale of hockey sticks and pucks eternally retold. . .

Once you are done with the selections screen you advance to the line up screen where you select your four players. You get the option of three different types of players, Large, Small, and Medium players. The Large players are strong and can knock most players aside, and they are great at shooting the puck, however they are slow and aren’t very good at face-offs. Small players are fast and great at face-offs, however they have weak shots and can get knocked aside easily. Medium players are average in all areas, they are generally the vanilla players who specialize in no particular area but aren’t terrible in any particular area. After choosing your line up the game starts.

Ice Hockey (U) [!]_003

Most people would make jokes about gym class, but I’m way to classy for that.

Just like with actual hockey the puck is served by the referee and then it’s a fight over which team gets it first, from there you make mad dashes and passes to get the puck to the goal. Everything is straightforward from here. You have the ability to pass the puck and shoot it in whatever direction you press on the D-pad, and when you don’t have the puck you are able to flail your stick around to initiate face-offs or to get the puck away from the other team.


Show them the might of Poland!

In between periods the teams change sides as per usual but in between the second and third periods you are treated to a somewhat silly Zamboni ice fixing show where several people wearing goalie masks patch the ice with Zamboni machines.

Ice Hockey (5)

Or maybe they are all Jason Voorhees? D:

After third period a team either wins or you go into a shootout (as mentioned earlier), shootouts can be difficult sometimes as the game forces you to move forward constantly only allowing you to move up, down, or shoot.

Ice Hockey (33)

No pressure dawg, no pressure, NO PRESSURE MAN!

As mentioned earlier the controls for the game are very simplistic, INCREDIBLY SIMPLISTIC, so simple in fact that your entire team is controlled by your d-pad. Whatever direction you push on it is the direction your entire team will travel in. At first this may seem frustrating but after you get the hang of it you never look back from it. The movement is stiff, you can move in eight different directions and you can use your stick flailing and shooting controls flawlessly. The only part where controls suffer is during shootouts where you are constantly being thrust forward and you have to make a quick decision on where to go and where to shoot (like in real hockey :o).

Ice Hockey (22)

Oh god I can’t stop moving! D:

Graphics-wise it’s nothing pretty, but it by no means is an eyesore. The graphics work well with the gameplay, they are just as simple as the game itself and lend to it an incredibly endearing air. The music for the game is just as simple with it only having a few songs and sound effects.

If there is anything I can really say about this game, its that the game is deliberate in every field. The game has no extraneous extras, it has what it needs and what it has is down right awesome. The game has plenty of pick up and play capacity and requires no real dedication so it can easily be played casually or hardcore. This game is great for both retro sports fans and collectors. I highly recommend it, as it has practically no faults and is an incredibly fun game.

Ice Hockey (47)

Medium player has always been a party pooper.

Fun Facts: The Team Lineup is different in different regions, in the American release the roster lacks Japan which was replaced with Czechoslovakia, the PAL version also suffers from this.The Japanese version lacks Czechoslovakia but has the rest of the roster in tow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires

Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires COVER51ES4Q5V55L._SL500_AA300_

Choose your destiny!

Dyansty Warriors 5 Empires is the second empires offshoot produced by Koei. The Empires series is essentially an attempt at adding a strategy element to Dynasty Warrior’s typical “hack and slash” formula. This attempt succeeds quite well as it allows more control over events unfolding in the battlefield and along with the ability to make your own characters with which you can essentially invent your own story, or just change the historical events to suit your own needs; as such the game has an almost “RPG” feel to it. The game contains two modes of play, “Free Mode” where you can play any stage from Dynasty Warriors 5, and “Empire mode” where you attempt to unify China. There is also a “Create a Warrior” function (called Edit Mode) similar to that of the Xtreme Legends games where you design a character by setting their appearance and their weapon, though unlike in Xtreme Legends instead of being limited to generic weapons and one or two actual character weapons you are allowed to use the weapon of every character in the game. Finally there is the typical Archive function where you can read up on some of the history of the characters and view events and ending videos you’ve unlocked.


Cater to your inner Ghengis Khan!

The core gameplay is similar to that of Dynasty Warriors 5 though with a larger emphasis on capturing basis and preventing your own from falling (this formula would later be used extensively in DW6). Unlike in previous games where you were forced to defeat the enemy commander to win a battle you now have the option of just capturing the enemy’s main camp. In defense you now have the option of merely defending your main camp for fifteen minutes. You also during battle are able to give orders to your Generals and Lieutenants from the Unit Info option when you pause the game; you are able to tell them to defend, assist another unit, attack another unit, or to attack a base, though this isn’t mandatory, as your units will generally advance without being told. The D-pad on the controller has orders assigned to it and you can give all your units quick orders by pressing a certain direction.


Alright old man, go and attack all the enemy units while we sit back and enjoy a nice lunch!

Graphics-wise the game is nothing to shake a stick at, but they are anything but terrible, regardless as to whether you get the Xbox 360 version or the PS2 one both are nearly identical Graphics-wise. In all honesty though if you are looking for a Dynasty Warriors game you probably don’t care much for the graphical aspect and care more for how many onscreen enemies you can slaughter. The 360 version is capable of fielding a few more soldiers than the PS2 version and the PS2 version tends to lag a bit when playing in multiplayer and K.O.ing massive amounts of troops. Regardless of that both versions are fairly identical.


That is, if you’re a graphical Purist.

If you’ve ever been completely baffled over how to unlock a certain item or mount in the Dynasty Warriors games you aren’t alone as its generally quite difficult to unlock anything without luck or a lot of time. However in this game you unlock items and mounts in Empire Mode not by completing certain objectives, but instead by developing your territories. From there its only a matter of producing the items of your choice. Though for some items you have to do more then develop, you have to actively participate with trade with the native tribes to get the super rare items. Once you’ve done this you gain access to these items in free mode.

Gaining weapons is different this time as well as instead of merely defeating enemies and picking randomized items and weapons up from their corpses you instead have to develop your weapons through Policies in the same vein as developing your territories to gain items. Basically the weapons are broken into three categories, Spears, Swords, and Weapons(other). By electing to advance one of them they/it will go up by 20 points and each weapon technology has 5 levels it can attain and advances a level every 100 points. As you level up each one you unlock a new weapon for whatever character uses that weapon type. This isn’t the case for the fourth weapon as you are required to defeat a certain number of enemies to obtain it.


Policies, sometimes they involve burninating the countryside.

As per the Dynasty Warriors formula you gain rank as you defeat enemies and accrue points. As you advance in rank the amount of troops you are able to command increases, this is the same for all officers in the game including those generic officers who typically you are never able to use. Well in this game you can level them up and increase their troop count, upgrade their weapon get them to defeat a few officers and mix it up, and BAM! You have somewhat competent and useful officers! Also by ranking up character you also unlock alternate costumes from the previous game (DW4) and for those characters who are new to the game they each receive two new alternative costumes.


…and that kids is why Pirates are better then Ninjas.

Now as this is an Empires game that means that there is no overreaching story mode like “Musou Mode” instead it is replaced with “Empire Mode” where you can play as any ruler and even as your own Created Character. As such there aren’t many character specific Story Events, the three main rulers Cao Cao, Sun Quan, and Liu Bei all have story events you can see but only if certain criteria are met. Despite this there are many many more generic events which also require certain events to unlock that you can see as any Ruler. Empire Mode is basically your standard Unify the Country thing were actions as split between two phases, a Policy phase where you develop your territories, heal troops, engage in diplomacy, ectc, and the action phase where you attack other territories or defend your own.

Enemy Rulers will attack you.


Surrounded on all sides by enemies, being attacked by giant flame spitting robot tigers, no reinforcements. . . Challenge Accepted.

Free Mode is the same thoroughfare as in the other games, you select a stage and choose a side to play as. However! You can change the officers to whomever you want, and if you are feeling particularly sadistic you can reduce the enemy officers to one guy likewise with your own troops. The strength and level of the enemy officers is determined by however powerful they were in Empire Mode, though you can level up your sides officers at the end of the battle by winning, though it is nowhere near as efficient.


It makes it no less fun or satisfying though.

This game isn’t for everyone though as Empire mode can become tedious when you have Rulers nearby who never let up on attacks, and you are beset by natural disasters. The game requires patience and a need to destroy entire armies mostly by yourself. I would recommend this game mostly to strategy gamers, and would recommend that fans who love it purely for the hack and slash stick to free mode and multiplayer mode (or just get the regular version). This game is another brilliant entry into the Dynasty Warriors Franchise and succeeds quite well with few short comings aside from occasional tedium. All in all get this game if you’re a fan of the series, and if you like a little strategy with your slaughter.