Montageman: A dude who writes

March 18, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Filed under: videogames, wii — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 10:12 am

First of all, it is not normal for me to go out on the release date of anything to purchase or see it. I try to avoid opening nights of films, I’m not big on standing in line for something. The last time I waited in line was for the Wii a couple Christmases ago. The Smash Bros. franchise has been around since the days of Nintendo 64. A very easy game to pick up and play, Smash Bros is frenetic and has infinite replay value. I didn’t really play Smash Bros. for N64 much – I started playing Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. Part of what I like best about Nintendo and their games is the small learning curve for initial enjoyment, meaning a novice can pick up just about any Nintendo game and play around for a few minutes to get the gist of what’s happening. For example, just from watching for a few minutes, my near 80 year old grandmother was able to play Wii Bowling with us. The ease of play is even better on the Wii due to the physical nature of the games. When limited physicality is imparted on these games i.e. actually swinging the Wii-mote to play Tennis or Golf, the learning curve switches from “you must hit A at just the right moment to hit the ball” to “it’s just like playing real tennis”. I use the limited qualifier because games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero are actually much more complex given their use of total physicality along with their rhythm component.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is excellent. An easy game to pick up and play as well as game rife with unlockable items (over 700 from what the dude at Gamestop told me) and game modes, Brawl has near infinite playability for single players as well as multi-players. Additionally, the game can be played online, but when we tried to play my brothers recently the game slowed down so much it was unplayable and we bailed on the idea. We haven’t tried again, but hopefully that will be fixed (or maybe it was a hardware issue on our side). We’ve played for roughly 6 hours thus far, so I have not experienced most of what the game has to offer. More to come as we work through the game.

March 4, 2008

Rock Band

Filed under: affect, play, videogames — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 2:17 am

I was given an Xbox 360 as a birthday present this year.  A wonderful gift, indeed, made even better because one of my brothers has let me borrow his copy of Rock Band with all of the accompanying instruments.  Essentially, Rock Band takes the Guitar Hero model of rhythm gaming further and adds drums and vocals.   What is great about these games (along with Dance Dance Revolution and the like) is there is an endless replay factor.  Even after you’ve scored 100% on a particular song, you can jump online and compete against an unlimited and ever growing number of players.  Furthermore, the game play of Rock Band does not require learning the Xbox controller scheme rather you must learn the guitar/drum/microphone scheme, which may be easier for those not familiar with controllers.  Similar to the Wii model of using the controller as a point of action, the player is actually doing the actions on screen.   Much different from games like Grand Theft Auto or Madden NFL 2008 where the player is using buttons to stand in for actions i.e. the A button shoots a gun or throws the football, Rock Band players are banging the drums, singing into the microphone, and strumming a guitar.  Thus engagement with the gamer is taken to a new level beyond the controller as representation – the A button is no longer the trigger.  Drum sticks are necessary to play Rock Band.   The importance of physical engagement in rhythm games complicates the relationship of the player to the controller and the game.

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