Category: "General"

Tomena Sanner review

 

Many months ago I was shown a trailer of a WiiWare title that was soon to be coming out, and a couple of days ago I bought it, and that game was Tomena Sanner.

Tomena Sanner

I had honestly forgotten about it, as it was so long ago, but I was browsing the Wii Shopping Channel and came across it. Firstly I would like to point out the price, it's only 500 Nintendo/Wii points, which as long as you buy your points off the channel itself is only £3.50 (If you purchased a Nintendo points card from a retail shop, it would be costing you £5.00)

Take control of business man Hitoshi Susumu who is behind schedule and won't stop running until he gets to his ultimate dance party!

As the quote from Nintendo Europe's website states, you play Hitoshi Susumu, and you must get to his ultimate dance party, which sadly he is running late to. This helps establish the knowledge that you are aiming to be as fast as possible, which of course is the ultimate goal. The real simplicity however is that there is only one button press needed while playing, which is the A button. The player must simply press A just as they are about to run into a person/animal/object/whatever that's in your way. Dependant on timing you get different results, which results in either a miss/good/great.

Tomena Sanner

Tomena Sanner has some of the most addictive and upbeat soundtracks I've heard in a game recently, this could be on the basis that I left it playing to itself while I was doing work around the house, or it could be that the main theme reminds me of the Rocky Theme, either way the game features very short pieces of music but it was great for motivation, which suits the game perfectly, it's all about speed, movement and motivation.

Tomena Sanner

The animation and visual style are very polished and appealing to look at, I did notice when scanning the credits they used mo-cap, which I'm sure really helped with the fluid movements of the characters dancing and moving around.

The first time I played it I found it a little hard as I wasn't used to the way the game plays. I felt this was slightly because I've played a fairly similar game in the past which is Rhyme Rider Kerorican. The game plays almost identically (bar different button presses), the only real difference being that with Kerorican there are cues in the audio to when you should press the needed button. As it's a rhythm action game, so the dodging of obstacles/enemies goes to the beat.

Rhyme Rider Keriorican

Unfortunately nothing in Tomena Sanner goes to a beat, but still I'm just comparing it to another game, it isn't necessarily a bad thing, just I do enjoy games that move to a certain rhythm, after a while of playing I will have my timing spot on.

I did manage to finish the normal mode in one sitting, however this was after various failures of some levels (I found level 1-2 the hardest). The difficulty really comes from judging when the button should be pressed, as with some items it's hard to judge where the point of button press is. Turbo mode however is a lot harder, as the game gets quite fast in the normal setting. I have yet to finish the first level on turbo.

Tomena Sanner

You may also notice from the images I've posted up that while you’re playing the game and you interact with the characters/things a sentence of writing scrolls across the screen, this adds more to the pure craziness of the game, and I recommend having another person in the room to read them out, as when playing you don't have the time to enjoy reading.

My only real nag is I would have liked the opportunity to start from level 1-1 and then when it finishes and you get your score etc it could then go straight into 1-2, instead of having to select 1-2. I understand why this may have been done, for many reasons to help the developer in some problems they may have faced. Of course there is the endless play mode that you can unlock, but that's a whole different mode altogether.

I'm going to Tomena Sanner a 5/5 because it is an extremely polished game that I'm going to play again and again until I can have a better high score (that darn Izzy at the top of the boards, I will beat you one day!). It is definitely worth the 500 points (£3.50) that they're charging for it.

A look back over 2009

 

After seeing Korina’s blog entry I felt the need to also do a recap on the goings on of 2009 from my perspective, or at least what I can remember happening.

It's pretty much 2010, I must say 2009 was maybe one of my best years, so I thought I’d try and show this in the following events, I’m not sure if it will express it as much as I’d like to but we’ll see. One thing I joined just before the new year started was, MyDailyPhoto I’m very interested in seeing how long I can keep up with it for. I hope everyone has a lovely new year, I’m imagining I will spend mine the way I like it.

January

23rd – I ordered my lovely cute little Dell mini 9, which was my new piece of hardware for the year, I still use it pretty much daily, need to sort out the files on it though :)

Cute!

31st – I participated in my first ever 48 hour game making session, which was the Global Game Jam. I took part in it at my university, in Newport, Wales, it did actually finish in February, either way it was heaps of fun, and you can read more on it here

This was quite early into the development

February

Through-out most of February I was very busy working on Void so I didn’t do much else this month, which probably sounds pretty sad to most people, but I was very busy.

March

9th – This was the day that I had my dissertation printed and bound and I think handed in a couple of days later, I was so happy with finishing this, and a few weeks before hand-in. I knew from the first place I wanted to hand it in early and not last minute, and I’m so happy I accomplished this.

Dissertation finished

12th – I was lucky enough to get to attend one of the Blitz open days for this year (which you can still apply to for next year). I must say it was a wonderful insight into the company, and was accompanied by a memorable night at the pub with some of the lovely guys from Blitz, I met some amazing people I will never forget. I only hope I have the opportunity to visit them all again.

Yummy food I ate the day before the open day, and a quaint little cafe in Leamington Spa

April

April was another month full of intense working on Void (to be honest January to July I was constantly busy working on it), as well as working on Void, my website had a redesign, and I started writing for SK Gaming sadly with my lack of time I only wrote up a couple of articles though.

Max Payne 3

May

16th – It’s my nieces birthday, it was her first birthday so I went back home to visit her along with my sister too, it was a lovely time, and it fit together well with other plans. I love watching Bethan grow up, the following picture was taken on her birthday of her doing her sneaky laugh.

awesomely cute and very devious looking

18th – With only a couple of months until I had to move out of my place in Wales, there was house hunting needed for the new destination of Aldershot. And oh my god, some of the places we visited (myself, my sister and Tim her boyfriend) were amazing. But sadly each had a bad point. It was then down to choosing which we preferred.

June

29-5th – Was the Computer Games Design 09 degree show, it was awesome the Void team attended every day, and made sure it was all running ok, sadly the main day people popped by was the opening night, but that was ok. You can check up my quick entry here

Voids little corner

5th – I got to officially find out my results today, although only in the case of an overall grade, it was the last day of the graduate show and we were all heading home and on the way out of university and happened upon the list up on the wall, I already knew what I had, but it was exciting seeing everyone else pleased with their results.

Sorry its a little blurry

17th – Upon deciding on our place to move into we popped down to Aldershot to sign contracts, was the first major move I felt I’d done, as it was of course no longer student accommodation. I felt I’d taken a huge step from doing this, while also feeling slightly nervous to if it would all work out.

24th – After three and a half years of working for GAME I finally called it quits and had a farewell party, sadly not many people could make it, but it was still a nice end to it all. Goodbye lovely staff discount.

Paddy at Spoons

27th – Today was the day I said goodbye Newport and hello Aldershot, was quite a tiring move, getting three peoples worth of stuff up two flights of long stairs, but we managed it in the end, and I must say this little flat has really grown on me, I must say I’ll enjoy living here for a while.

Epic flat

30th – I was privileged to be allowed to become the student blogger for WIG (Women in Games) which allowed me a paid ticket to Develop, which I am very grateful for. I never thought I would have been chosen, but I was, I very much enjoyed helping out at WIG 07,and I was and still am looking forward to helping out WIG in the future.

July

14-17th - After being given a ticket to Develop I had to make sure I used the opportunity to my fullest. As well as going to almost all the talks I could, I met up with a very lovely friend and even had a WIG lunch (totally love Char Sui pork). Either way it was an awesome conference and I wouldn’t mind going next year as well. You can check out the entries I made on my blog here

22nd – Just before Develop on the 10th of July I was fortunately given an interview slot for a job at EA Bright Light in Guildford (About 20 minutes away from Aldershot). Amazingly on the last day of Develop on my train ride home I had the most incredible phone call, informing me that I had gotten the job. I was so ecstatic I felt on top of the world. I started my newly acquired job on the 22nd and it was the best end to an awesome month.

August

To be honest I don't really remember too much of August, all I know is I was busy working lot, and that's pretty much it sadly.

September

1st – After working at EA for a few weeks I then found out we have a bake-off club run by one of the lovely members of staff, I made sure to join and participate in the baking :). My first entry in the bake-off was some spiced oatmeal and raisin cookies. Unfortunately I didn’t win with them, but I had some nice comments from people telling me how they liked them, all the spares got munched up too, which was good :).

They were yummy

7th – I then participated the next week and baked something that I hadn’t really tried before, chocolate rum truffles. They went down really well, and I won as well. I was really chuffed, I even made some for my sister Emma for her birthday as she loves rum truffles.

Yummy, the longer you leave the in the fridge, the more the rummy taste comes out

10th – After leaving Newport so long ago in September we all finally got to graduate, it was fun saying hi to everyone again, although it was so busy as it was packed because the whole art school were graduating. We had some fun after the ceremony taking pictures though. Was a nice little fun day out, anyone who’s my friend on facebook can check out loads more of the pictures on there :).

Happy to of graduated

30th – My last bake-off of the year and I won again, but then I did make a delicious chocolate brownie torte, it was so rich and yummy. I hope to make something else in the new year, or just keep baking on weekends.

Yummy chocolate brownie torte, it was sweating a little as it had been in the fridge

October

9th – FLIPS on DS was announced, all four titles that I’d spent my time at EA working on. Basically they’re interactive books for kids, so parents can try to get their kids to read a little more if they don’t. Or so kids can read their favourite books (if they like the series we released) on their DS. I loved working on them, and I hope those who now have copies enjoy them. You can read a bit more on the announcement here.

FLIPS

24th – I attended London Expo (didn’t go to the earlier one in the year) and my main reason was to get my BSG poster signed by the lovely Kandyse McClure, along with with that I got to play Borderlands, and realise it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it, perhaps I had followed their marketing the wrong way, I'll probably pick it up for PC, but it didn't really feel like a game best suited for Xbox 360, along with getting to play the lovely Muramasa and a few other games, as usual it was a jolly old laugh to go there, and again as always was bloody annoying with all the people with their hug signs. My favourite picture from the day however was this lovely Tingle, she was so much better than the other guy who didn’t do a Tingle pose!

Shes so cute

30-1st - Now GameCity was the main event to end October, it did start earlier than the 30th, although with work commitments I was unable to travel to Nottingham until the 30th which was a shame as I missed a lot. However what I got to attend was worth it all in itself. I had the opportunity to meet Masaya Matsuura for a second time and give him a Parappa gingerbread cookie (and get him to sign Major Minors Majestic March) and he also remembered me from Develop. I also gave Keita Takahashi a prince & nobi nobi cookie too, which he thought was cool, and he really apologetic when he broke the nobi nobi boy too. The final party, was very enjoyable, it was awesome hanging out with my university friends again, and on my birthday too. It was a great time, even if I did bruise my side and spend hours travelling home on the Sunday!

GameCity banners

November

12th – So for a few months I’d been very much looking forward to getting my hands on a HTC HD2, and after many days of refreshing pages and waiting for the phone to be up on websites, I finally ordered one and it arrived on this date, it was awesome, and I couldn’t believe how big the phone was. Now I can’t believe how small other phones are when I use them. I’m so happy to have gotten the HD2 and I wouldn’t switch it for any other phone.

Most awesome phone box

22nd – The first time I ever went to the Barbican was back in September 2002 to the Game On exhibt. More recently I went to the Barbican twice in November, once to see Brendan and the Secret of Kells (amazing animation) and A Serious Man, and then seeing a dubbed version of Ponyo. The Barbican is nice, however in relation to the BFI. The BFI is a much better place to go, at least in my opinion. At the BFI it goes straight into the film, at the Barbican however there were about 30 minutes of adverts before the film. The Barbican is quite far away from Waterloo and doesn’t have many food places nearby (the Barbican’s restaurant is a little expensive for me). Whereas the BFI is on the South Bank so there’s loads of different places to eat. Before this turns into a huge rant, I love that the BFI and Barbican support independent or lesser known film.

December

5th – I was lucky enough to be invited to the Capcom Xmas party, it was an amazing party, at a bar in London. Free drinks, along with game playing, and chatting to Capcom fans made it a very enjoyable event. I only hope they do similar events in the future, and on weekends too! I hope to write up a short entry on the party at some point in the future.

Can you see me

11-13th – So I managed to take part in my second 48 hour game making event for the year, which was Ludum Dare #16. I never imagined I’d be able to do so, but I did, and it was different this time as you had to make a game on your own, and you did it at home. All in all I hope I can take part in the next Ludum Dare, you can read some more indepth entries here and a post-mortem here.

Busy game making

19th – I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the BFI, I feel things like this are amazing, first seeing Brazil and the Fisher King at the cinema, which I never thought would happen, and then having the chance to see a film like It’s a Wonderful Life on a large screen at a cinema is amazing. I’m so happy to have gone to see it, and it was a very high quality transfer as well.

24th – Had a lovely Christmas this year, although I could have spent a little more time at home home (Chelmsford) but it was still enjoyable.

Little Bethan is all grown up

Here's to an equally awesome 2010!

Rex's Junk Hunt Post-mortem

 

So I thought I’d write up a post-mortem on my game, so I’ll just outline the key points which I have come up with.

Rex's Junk Hunt

What went well

  • The art – I’m quite happy with the images I created for it, it could have been a little better in some cases, but I’m quite fond of it.
  • The audio – A lot of people have commented on how the audio is cute, or funny, the voice of my boyfriend proved rather successful for Rex the dinosaur.
  • The menus – I quite like the colour scheme of the menus, although looking at it now it’s very Bonsai Barber. However there aren’t many clicks needed and it’s easy to navigate around so I’m happy with that.
  • All the little bits and bobs – I love that in the last remaining 5 minutes I managed to pull together an icon file along with all the other little touches that makes it feel a little more finished.

What went wrong

  • Not being a coder – I was limited in what I could make, so I thought making a seek n’ solve game would be easy. However I was wrong as it was a lot harder than I thought.
  • The pop-ups saying you found an item – I had to keep these in to have it work properly.
  • The fact that it repeats items and never ends – I couldn’t figure out how to get my game to work the way I really wanted it, sadly this is the huge downside of the game, showing no progression or reward.
  • Items staying there – I couldn’t make the items disappear and this then means the game doesn’t work how it should. I know this means it shows no progression for the player. So this is why I added the quit button, it was the only way I could make the game end.
  • Not enough images – For the game to work really well I’d have to of increased the number of images by about 500% as this would then add the complexity needed for the game, and then the gameplay would be down to the placement of the items.
  • The controls – Having right click as a drag button would not be the first thing a player would think of, I could have fixed this many ways, either by telling the player when they start the game in a pop-up with arrows or something, or the better way. By having items over the edge of what is visible on the right side of the screen, then encouraging the player to look. However if the player reads the instructions they shouldn’t encounter this problem.
  • Zelda – Unfortunately The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks came out so I had to stop myself from playing it all the time, although I did play it a bit over the weekend at times.
  • Sleep – On the Friday night I didn’t actually stay awake for the theme to be announced, and had a large amount of sleep, although this was mainly down to having a long day at work, doing food shopping and Gamercast in the evening. So I was quite tired, and I had about 4-6 hours each night, so that knocked a fair bit off my development time. However if I had less sleep I’d not work as well as my brain wouldn’t function properly.

What I would improve

  • More images – I would add a large amount of images to populate the space and make Rex’s living room more junk filled, originally the game was two times the size it is currently, unfortunately I didn’t have the time to make enough, but now that I can improve on the game in my spare time I will attempt to create more assets to populate the space.
  • Learn a bit more code – It was pretty much the first time I’d really made something on my own in Game Maker, which was so vey hard, I am a designer, however not a designer in any way of programming. I hope to try working on my programming skills a little, not that it’s really essential for my job, but it’s always good to know a little of everything.

Final thoughts

I intend to work on the version and perhaps make a version 2, when I do it’ll be posted up on my blog
I’m extremely happy with the outcome of the game, not being a programmer, I made something that i feel was a little successful. I know of its failings, and I hope to work on them so it can then become a better play experience.

You can give Rex’s Junk Hunt a try, but don’t expect an completely engaging gameplay experience, as it's still in early stages.

FLIPS on DS released

 

Ok this entry was supposed to have gone up back when FLIPS came out on the 4th of December, but I've been a very busy bunny and haven't had enough time to do so.

So I posted about FLIPS back in October when they were announced. The four titles released being: FLIPS Faraway Tree Stories, FLIPS Too Ghoul for School, FLIPS Cathy Cassidy and FLIPS Artemis Fowl.

So the day they came out I had a look about in the shops to see if I could spot them, and here are the following.

HMV

Three in the charts in hmv

In HMV three of the FLIPS titles were in 6, 13 and 16 in the Nintendo DS chart.

GAME

In GAME two of the titles were at 8 and 17 in the Nintendo DS chart.

Waterstones

In Waterstones they were displayed with DS POS.

And finally

Sat proudly on my bookcase at home (is a little messy and needs sorting out however)

I'm quite satisfied with the launch FLIPS had, along with Ruth Langsford from This Morning promoting it at an EA games show.

And Bernard Cribbins (who most people now will know him as Donna Noble's grandfather in Dr Who) has also helped promote them on the Radio.

I'm very happy to have helped in the development of these games at EA, I hope those who have purchased them for family or who are buying the titles themselves enjoy them.

Ludum Dare 16

 

So last weekend I took part in the Ludum Dare #16 48 hour game jam. Having previously participated in the Global Game Jam 09 I was looking forward to taking part in this event too.

Similar to the GGJ you are given a theme when the competition starts in which you have 48 hours to make a game based around it. The main difference it has with the GGJ is you must create the game all by yourself, so programming, art, and sound all done by yourself. Which I must say is quite a challenge.

Anyway so after lots of food that was bad for me, about 4-6 hours sleep each day, and then making the game amongst a little Zelda: Spirit Tracks playing every now and again, I created Rex's Junk Hunt.

Rex's Junk Hunt

There are a few problems with my game which I didn’t have time to fix, which is a shame, (but I’m not a coder so it was hard) although I intend to try and work on it more and make it a more lengthy game in the future.

Rex's Junk Hunt

I'll post up a post mortem on my blog as well, and you can try the game here

Heavy Rain Chronicles and Special Edition

 

Sony recently announced on their EU blog about Heavy Rain DLC, called "The Heavy Rain Chronicles".

As well as the nice news of getting more character centric Heavy Rain DLC, they've also announced a special edition version of the game, although sadly it is a special edition not collector's edition, so there's no physical cd soundtrack or anything like that. (A small piece of paper with instructions to make origami would be nice though.

However in this special edition you are also given a PSN voucher for the first piece of DLC as well as a voucher for the soundtrack and a dynamic theme.

As well as the DLC it's getting a rather interesting sounding box:

The Collector’s Edition is packaged in a special ‘rain-effect’ slipcase – thanks to special embossing and other manufacturing tricks, it gives the impression of being streaked with 3D rain-drops (something that has confused a lot of people when they’ve seen it lying on my desk recently!).

Quantic Dream are one of my favourite companies in the games industry, I loved their past two games and I'm very much looking forward to Heavy Rain, February is going to be an interesting month!

The full article can be read here

Also it has been announced that HMV are the only retailer to sell the special edition of Heavy Rain, you can find it here on the HMV website.

Bonsai Barber on WiiWare

 

Bonsai Barber

So my first official WiiWare title that I decided to purchase was Bonsai Barber (I just wanted to write about NyxQuest first).

It came out back in August (March in NA), and was developed by Zoonami, who are based in Cambridge and headed by Martin Hollis. The first I'd heard of it was from Develop this year, as there was a talk relating to it, sadly I missed it. But I never forgot the name of it.

So I made it my first purchase on the Wii Shopping Channel.

It has a nice simplistic style to it, and easy replay-ability, you start off by opening a new barber shop and mysteriously you have a load of customers already as they heard you were coming!

You then have a set style to give your tree and they grade you on how well you do during the cut. Sometimes it can be a little tricky on getting five stars as it can be really finicky at times.

Bonsai Barber screenshot

The tool you use when cutting/clipping/painting the hair rotates as you rotate the Wii remote, making it easy to be very specific when cutting. Although you have to remember when playing that you're cutting a tree's hair, so branches higher up may be attached to a far down root. You can always grow it back with the water spray though, although your customers may not like it.

As well as everything I've mentioned so far it also integrates with the Wii message board, if for example you make an appointment with a customer in your book, they'll send you a message telling you how long they were waiting for (if you didn't show up of course). Or if one of them goes somewhere nice they'll send you a postcard. You can also get presents from your patrons as well.

There's loads of fun little extras in there too, so you get little interactive things while you're cutting their hair, be it clouds, birds or even rain clouds.

You only get to cut on average between 4-5 shrubbery's hair every day, which means a game can last between 10-30 minutes depending on how long you spend with your customer. And you will always get them coming back again, this adds to it's replay-ability. It's a short game that is played in bursts, so if you're waiting for dinner or something to be on TV it's a good thing to pop on and play.

It'll set you back 1000 points, the same as NyxQuest, I feel it's worth the money as the visual style and gameplay compliment each other quite well, and £7 for a nice little game isn't bad.

NyxQuest Kindered Spirits on WiiWare

 

So one thing I've tried to do recently is buy a few more digital release games (I never used to so much as I prefer owning copies), as I know have a steady flow of money I felt I should buy a few games on WiiWare. The first that I actually bought was Bonsai Barber, but I felt more inclined to do a little entry on NyxQuest.

It came out back in June (August in NA), although I had only heard of it since a few weeks ago, it was made by Over The Top Games who are a small independent games developer in Madrid that compromises of four guys. It's also been entered into IGF this year (good luck to them, hope they win!).

It is set in Ancient Greece (it actually used to be called Icarian: Kindred Spirits, but got changed) the game itself follows Icarus, son of Daedalus and Nyx who he befriended (Nyx is actually the titan of the night). It was quite hard to watch the story at the start as I had a few people talking to me, so I missed some of it as there was no voice over, but I can always start the game again to view it again in more detail.

I shall try to keep this short, the setting in the game itself is a very picturesque Greece, with broken remnants of statues of gods, along with temples and rocks, which feature Giorgio de Chirico style long shadows sweeping across the landscapes.

screenshot from ingame

What I would love to hope is as well as the game being set in a midday scenario, is that the large amount of shadows are inspired as well by the main character being Nyx, but I can always interpret it how i wish.

The gameplay itself is what I would expect from a Wii title, or at least one that uses the motion control, but requiring you as a player to multitask. For example using the power of Zeus to move an object while flying and gliding over some spikes.

I would also like to give a big thumbs up to the music, you can download it off the NyxQuest website been listening to it at work recently, it's some really nicely composed relaxing music.

I haven't finished it yet, but I must say I don't really want it to end, it's a very enjoyable puzzle platforming style experience, I would recommend it to people with Wii's if I knew many people with them! Also can't wait to see what Over the Top bring us next!

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