Angry Birds is one of those franchises that has a pretty polarizing effect on people. Early on I was one of those people that couldn’t really understand the fad and why there was so much attention on a game that was mediocre at best. The touchy game play and unpredictable physics left me scratching my head. I just didn’t get it. I pretty much ignored the franchise in the early days and said the fad would pass. It didn’t. It’s never really gone away. There are still people to this day that get excited for the announcement of new Angry Birds stuff and the games continue to come out on a pretty consistent basis.
When Angry Birds Trilogy released on DS we were sent a review copy and I gave the franchise another go just to see if it would click with me. It did this time. I think it was the more precise control scheme offered on the 3DS using the stylus that finally won me over. I could see what I was doing without my hands in the way. I was able to get birds to launch where I wanted them to go more often. It finally made me realize the franchise could be fun. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan, but I understood why people enjoyed the game. Since then I’ve sort of kept an eye on it and downloaded a few games here and there to try out. It’s been the releases of Angry Birds Star Wars that kept me playing through every level and now there is another licensed tie in that’s got me hooked; Angry Birds Transformers.
I first read the Lord of the Rings after watching Peter Jackson’s first film in the series back in 2001. I know, I know. You’d think someone who’s as big a fan of these books as me would have read them when I was five years old, but I didn’t. I knew of them, but hadn’t read them. Since then I’ve read them all at least once a year and gotten deep into many of the other Middle Earth stories written by Professor JRR Tolkien. When I heard about Shadow of Mordor and the parts of Middle Earth lore it would be exploring I was excited, to say the least. When I saw that it was taking parts of my favorite game franchise of all time and implementing them into the world of Middle Earth I was even more excited. I’m glad to say that this game held up to my lofty expectations and then some.
What You Need to Know
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor puts you in the role of Talion, a ranger that is part of a group tasked with keeping watch over the Black Gate to Mordor. The game starts with your family (and yourself) being killed by servants of Sauron. Somehow you survive and seek out revenge on those that took your family from you. The game is an open world action game where you can take on numerous side missions, collect artifacts, upgrade weapons and skills and hunt wild beasts.
Nintendo has announced that Mario Kart 8 is getting DLC and many people have already pre-ordered the bundle of two packs that will be available. The first pack of DLC will be launching in November and includes a character from The Legend of Zelda for the first time. Link will be making his racing debut and many people expected him to have some vehicle to come along for the ride. Nintendo could have gone crazy and given people and Epona Cycle, but they did something even crazier. They actually made an Epona Cycle. Well, in reality it’s just a motorcycle with a body sort of shaped like a horse. It’s called the Master Cycle and it looks pretty good, right? It’s horse-like enough in shape to give the feel that Link is riding a horse, but not goofy like the Merry Go Round cart in the game now. I like it. I probably won’t use it much because I don’t like motorcycles in the game, but it looks cool.
Nintendo owners have had a little bit of history with Koei Tecmo’s popular hack/slash series Dynasty Warriors, mainly through the spin-off series Samurai Warriors. The second spin-off series, Warriors Orochi hit Wii U with the release of Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. Despite that the series is really getting attention from Wii U owners with the recent release of Hyrule Warriors, a game that mashes the Warriors series together with the Legend of Zelda.
The franchise is no stranger to mash-ups as it has partnered with other popular franchises in the past to help bridge the gap between fans of the Warrior series and other properties. Examples include Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, One Piece: Pirate Warriors and even the real world Trojan War in Warriors: Legends of Troy. That got me thinking what other franchises would make for good candidates for a mash-up and I thought of a few that might fit.
I’m a few hours into Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and am absolutely loving it. I think it’s a great game in terms of what it wants to do and executing on the things it’s trying to do gameplay-wise. The Nemesis system is something that’s unique and really adds a level of depth to the game that we haven’t really seen. It has so many unique things to offer. The one thing I have to say about it, though in regards to its relation to the source material may (or may not) surprise you. It’s absolutely not a Lord of the Rings game.
“How can that be?” you say. Well I would think if Professor Tolkien were alive today to see this game in action he would be appalled. Fans of the Lord of the Rings, especially Peter Jackson’s movie hexalogy, are going to love it. It’s a perfect extension of that world and fits right into place with the tone, themes and look of that version of Middle Earth. In relation to Tolkien’s view of the world it’s everything he stood against.
I like rhythm games y’all. Games like Rhythm Heaven and Elite Beat Agents are regular entries into my systems. There’s just something about getting into a rhythm (no pun intended) and sort of zoning out on the music. I remember when Kickbeat was first announced and how interested in playing a rhythm game from Zen Studios I was and then disappointed when I found out it was going to be a Playstation exclusive (due to not having a Playstation system at the time). I’ve been a big fan of all the stuff I’ve played from Zen Studios whether it was their numerous pinball tables or their sidescrolling RTS Castlestorm. Now Kickbeat is out on Wii U so I finally get to play the game I was so excited about to begin with. Was it worth the wait?
What You Need to Know
Kickbeat is a rhythm based fighting game. Well, actually it’s mostly rhythm game disguised as a fighting game. Actually, it’s pretty much just a rhythm game that happens to have some fighting in it. Your character stands in the middle of a circle and is surrounded on all sides by enemies. They attack you and you have to fend off their attacks in time to the music by hitting the corresponding face button. The four buttons match up with the position of the face buttons on the controller so it’s easy to keep track of where you’re supposed to be hitting at all times. You play along with the game’s 18 song soundtrack as you try to restore music to its rightful place in the world. There are other modes outside of the main story mode like an endless survival mode where you are not given any of the normal visual cues and you have to survive as long as you can or an equalizer mode that basically plays the game for you so that you can listen to the music and watch the events of the song unfold on screen. (Something more rhythm games should do.