Maybe you missed it…Platinum Sudoku

24 April 2009

platinumsudokucoverPlatinum Sudoku is the most complete Sudoku game I have ever played on the Nintendo DS.

It successfully borrows the excellent control scheme found in the Brain Training version of sudoku and combines it with a huge number of sudoku puzzles (20 million!), kakuro puzzles and some other highly entertaining mini-puzzles. The control scheme works like a charm and makes it a dream to play. The little mini-puzzles also add plenty to the package, with the pairs match game being especially fun. The kakuro puzzles are a welcome addition, providing a great alternative to the sudoku. There is even the option of making your own sudoku grids. The only negative is the lack of single card multiplayer.

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Living with a casual gamer

24 April 2009

casual-gamersCasual gamers are often accused of being the death of the video game industry. Most hardcore gamers are happy to believe our casual gaming friends are destroying real gaming by just buying any old crap that is put on the shelves. Merely mentioning the the name Carnival Games on video game message boards is enough to guarantee that someone will claim casual gamers will buy anything that features mini-games or has a Z at the end of its title. But is this necessarily true?

Well, my experience has so far shown me that this is completely inaccurate. In fact, I have found that casual gamers are far more difficult to please than any hardcore gamer will ever be. Getting a casual gamer to even try a game is difficult, but finding one that they enjoy is even harder.

How do I know this? Well, I live with a stereotypical casual gamer and it is almost impossible to find a game that she wants to play. For the sake of anonymity I shall call this person EB. EB is a 30 year old female (she still claims 21), who has her own DS and access to the household Wii. She plays games to relax, kill time and for mental stimulation. EB will only go into gaming shops/sections if I drag her in, kicking and screaming, and she has absolutely no interest in the gaming industry. All of her information about games comes from a game’s packaging, television advertising or from me. Despite all this, EB plays games on a daily basis, clocking up more hours in front of the DS than I manage on the DS and Wii combined.

While I can find any number of DS and Wii games that I know I will like, finding a game for EB can be frustratingly difficult. My game library is filled with plenty of games that I was sure EB would like, but sadly, it turned out that she just didn’t find them all that entertaining. The good news is that once EB finds a game that she likes, she will spend hundreds of hours playing it, to the point that hearing the music or sound effects again and again can drive me insane.

The Living with a Casual Gamer series will examine which games EB likes, and more importantly, the common elements that link these games together. Hopefully, it will help us harcore gamers understand the casual crowd a little more too and help anyone having trouble finding suitable games for the casual gamer in their lives.

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I made it on to Screen Play’s Your Turn

8 April 2009

A while back I wrote an article for Screen Play’s Your Turn section and it finally got published today.

It’s called Do not feed the fanboys and is about fanboys and how they are the lifeblood of the video game industry.

Head on over and check it out.

February US sales figures

21 March 2009

The latest sales NPD sales figures for the US have been released and as usual it is great news for Nintendo all round.


  • Wii 753 000
  • Nintendo DS 588 000
  • Xbox 360 391 000
  • PlayStation 3 276 000
  • PSP 199 000
  • PlayStation 2 131 000

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What’s wrong with…Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars?

21 March 2009


I just got Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and I am not happy.

While I am enjoying the game, I am a little frustrated that, inĀ  such a high profile game, there are technical glitches which cause freezes and game issues.

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Wii review – House of the Dead: OVERKILL

7 March 2009

houseofthedeadoverkillboxHouse of the Dead: OVERKILL manages to inject an abundance of new life into the on-rails shooter genre by investing heavily in a stylised grindhouse presentation. Rather than trying to reinvent the gameplay, developer Headstrong Games has taken the Quentin Tarrantino/Robert Rodriguez route and planted the House of the Dead story firmly into campy 70s horror territory. The result is one of the most refreshing, surprising and fun games to come out in a very long time.

Taking plenty of inspiration from Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, House of the Dead: OVERKILL serves up seven chapters of over the top zombie…sorry, mutant shooting action. Mixed into the plot are some of the most memorable supporting characters that have ever appeared in a video game, including a mad scientist, an incestuous prison warden, a hot stripper looking for revenge and a deranged crime lord. The lead characters are equally memorable. Agent G and Detective Isaac Washington play off against each other in true odd couple style during the many well made cut scenes. Their interplay can be quite entertaining and does a great job of endearing players to what could have been two quite anonymous lead characters. Washington in particular has some spectacularly funny lines, but he does often rely too much on swear words, which drags the quality of the script down.

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Playing now…Dragon Quest: The Chapters of the Chosen

3 March 2009

dragonquestivboxStatus: Playing now

I recently started playing Dragon Quest: The Chapters of the Chosen. Having never played a Dragon Quest game before, I was eager to see why Japanese gamers go so crazy over the series.

Read on for my impressions of the game (spoilers too).

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DS review – Crosswords DS

1 March 2009

crosswordsdsboxCrosswords DS epitomises Nintendo’s highly successful Touch Generations approach to making games. It features a highly accessible concept that is familiar to almost everyone, a clean and simple interface which is easy to navigate, and most importantly, it contains hours and hours of fun. These three themes are common to all successful casual games and Crosswords DS has them in spades.

The game features 1000 crosswords, as well as anagrams and word search puzzles, which should be enough to keep even the most avid crossword buff entertained for months. The gentle difficulty curve allows players of all ages to enjoy the game, with simple puzzles for the younger crowd and extremely difficult options for crossword veterans. The anagram and word search options provide a nice diversion and are fantastic fun in their own right.

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DS review – Ninjatown

28 February 2009

ninjatownboxNinjatown is a fantastically quirky tower defence-style game for the Nintendo DS which features an excellent audio-visual production, a genuinely funny story, great pacing and above all, superbly balanced gameplay. The style of game is perfectly suited to portable gaming as each stage is over and done with in about 10 minutes, making it a great fit for a daily commute or when traveling.

The game is based on the extremely cute Shawnimals Wee Ninja character created by former Electronic Gaming Monthly editor Shawn Smith. The story takes place in Ninjatown in the world of Shawnimaland. After an eruption of the nearby volcano, Mount Feroshi, Ninjatown is attacked by the evil Mr Demon and his dark minions, the Wee Devils, who are looking for the recipe for Ninjatown’s famous ninja star cookies. Taking on the role of Ol’ Master Ninja, the player must defend Ninjatown against the demon invaders. It is all very cute and cuddly, but extremely funny, with plenty of pop-culture references and movie quotes scattered throughout the game.

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Wii review – Deadly Creatures

24 February 2009

deadlycreaturesDeadly Creatures is a fun but flawed action-adventure game that takes advantage of its unique theme and setting to deliver one of the better traditional gaming experiences on the Wii. Developer, Rainbow Studios, has managed to combine a superbly atmospheric audio-visual style, interesting design and fun gameplay into a game which is more than a sum of its parts. There are some flaws that impact on the final quality, but overall, Deadly Creatures is a great experience that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The story revolves around the misadventures of two human characters, George Struggs and Wade, as they search the desert for buried American Civil War gold. George and Wade are not the most competent people to ever look for buried treasure and things soon take a turn for the worst as greed quickly sours the relationship. The events are revealed from the perspective of the two playable characters, a tarantula and a scorpion, and eventually the paths of George and Wade cross with the arachnid heroes to unexpected results.

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