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DS Daily: How much do you trust reviews?

Penny Arcade's Gabe had some choice words for reviewers of Assassin's Creed, and we couldn't help commenting on it. Sure, the game isn't for us -- at least, not yet -- but the sentiment behind his words is something that should be important to every gamer ... or at least, every gamer who reads reviews.

How much do you trust reviews? We've discussed it before, of course, and we know that many people have reviewers they return to again and again, people who've demonstrated similar tastes in the past. But as occasional reviewers ourselves, we not only see the point Gabe is making, but agree with him. Reviewing a game within a particular time frame is wholly and completely different than playing it just for fun. It doesn't always make a huge difference in the way that you perceive or play the game, but sometimes -- as in this case, apparently -- it does.

So weigh in. Do you take that attitude into account when you read reviews? Our biggest regret in regard to Gabe's statements is that it just seems unfixable. Reviewers are almost always working within some sort of time frame, and some games are just long. It can't be avoided, unless we all want short games (and we don't).

Zero Punctuation disembowels Phantom Hourglass

We've all played or heard of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. We all know that everyone who played it loved it. Let's move on. Wait ... what's that? Not everyone loved it? Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, in fact, despised it?

Apparently so! But hating on a game is never as amusing as it is in The Escapist's "Zero Punctuation," so we don't mind. We found this review to be rather funny. If you don't feel like your poor heart can take it, though, feel free to watch some other reviews of Phantom Hourglass that involve girl cosplayers.

Warning: The audio in this video makes it NSFW. Oh, and there's some bad visual bits, too.

[Thanks, Brian!]

DS Fanboy review: Picross DS

Picross DS is very much a puzzle game, despite its attempt to lure you in to its grids with a slow, comforting pace of gameplay. It can instill those emotions of tension as the clock ticks away or those almost-insurmountable mental hurdles we stumble upon so frequently in the genre arise, however. So, in a lot of ways, Picross DS is a genre-breaking title, taking things here and there, patching them together into a brand new game. A fun game.

Gallery: Picross

Continue reading DS Fanboy review: Picross DS

Analyzing player behavior in Hotel Dusk

We seriously need more game reviews like this one. Krystian Majewski looked at the design of Hotel Dusk in terms of the behavior it caused in a player. By videotaping his girlfriend playing through the first chapter, he was able to calculate the percentage of the game involving interacting with people, interacting with items and the environment, or changing locations. He then mapped her spoken responses to the game to the kind of gameplay in which it occurred, to see where the player was most engaged.

It turns out that it isn't the characters that generate the biggest emotional response, but rather the interactions with the environment-- the puzzles. Majewski speculates that "When interacting with objects, the player is acting on his own so the feeling of responsibility is much greater." For this game, at least, it would seem that the story doesn't drive immersion as much as the gameplay, which is a pretty interesting hypothesis. We'd like to see the same kind of experiment done for a Final Fantasy game.

DS Fanboy Review: Brain Buster Puzzle Pak

Sometimes, a package doesn't really tell you what you need to know about a game -- and it can actually be misleading or off-putting. As tragic as the thought is, the box art for Brain Buster Puzzle Pak falls into that category. Up close, the art is rough, jagged, and looks like it might have been printed in someone's home office.

So is the game also unfortunately bad? Not even a bit -- Agetec's Brain Buster Puzzle Pak lives up to its name and is packed, as promised, with an array of brain-busting puzzles. The puzzle standard, sudoku, is present, but BBPP brings in four other games as well, all presented by a professor who in no way resembles Dr. Kawashima. By that, we mean he actually has a body.

Continue reading DS Fanboy Review: Brain Buster Puzzle Pak

Picross DS gets a nice review

Since we haven't picked up Picross DS yet and are therefore unable to review it, we're going to assume (pretend) that our friends at 4 color rebellion have reviewed it just for us. And according to the Official 4cr (for DS Fanboy) Review, Nintendo's puzzler will be worth picking up when it arrives in the US in July, and is worth picking up ... now, in Europe!

The review is especially positive about the online features of the game, including the ability to share your own puzzles online, and free weekly downloads of extra puzzles. Some of the downloadable content includes puzzles from Mario's Picross and Mario's Super Picross! Technically, we shouldn't be happy about recycled content, but it gives us a warm, happy feeling.

The only real complaint they have with the game is the stylus control, which seems like it should be a natural for Picross. Luckily, it's optional! So we can all just pretend it didn't happen and doesn't exist.

Parish's rejected Pokemans review: Let us show you it [update 1]

For a change of pace, 1UP's Jeremy Parish sometimes submits reviews in webcomic form. He tried to do just that thought of doing that for his review of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and was denied, but went with the more traditional approach in the end. Luckily for us, personal blogs face no such content approval process. But rather than scrap the idea altogether, Parish has drawn up part 1 of his Pokemon review comic on both his 1UP blog and his personal blog GameSpite, with a promise to continue the story of ... well, of a guy reviewing Pokemon.

We're big fans of Mr. Parish-- we listen to his 1UP podcast Retronauts every week, just like every sane person should. Not only that, we continue to be enthralled by anything that makes use of the "Pokemans" meme. So there was no choice but to post this comic when we saw it. Our hands were tied. What do you think about "alternative" review formats like this one?

Update: Changed to reflect the actual circumstances of the strip's creation, thanks to a correction from Mr. Parish himself.

Continue reading Parish's rejected Pokemans review: Let us show you it [update 1]

Critic's choice: The top five DS games

All week, we've been sharing our favorite games with you, as well as snippets of our personalities outside the fanboy sphere. Now you know that some of us weren't really huge handheld fans before the DS, that at least one of us is terribly silly, and most of us seem to dig cats, in some way or another. But forget the trivial details -- how do our favorite games stack up against the critical darlings? We offer this side-by-side comparison to wrap up Fanboy Favorites week, and we hope you've enjoyed this closer look at not only the DS Fanboy staff, but some of the best that the DS has to offer.

Continue reading Critic's choice: The top five DS games

DS Fanboy review: Trioncube

Much like our review of QuickSpot, this is long overdue. Better late than never, right? Regardless, here we are ready to present to you our opinions on Namco's puzzler, as we hurried to gather each and every opinion floating about in our noggin with nothing more than our cunning wits and a large net. They've all been organized now and are ready for show, so prop your feet up and get to reading!

Continue reading DS Fanboy review: Trioncube

DS Fanboy review: Quickspot

When the above game arrived at Fanboy HQ, we hastily opened it to see if Namco's budget title would be worth its weight in gold, so to speak. Then, some stuff happened and we never got around to playing it enough for a review, that is until now. With time finally allowing us to take the game for a prolonged spin round the block, we've done our fair share of "quickspotting" and are ready to review the game.

It's fairly evident from the beginning that the game isn't going to give you much bang for your buck, considering that some of the spot challenges repeat as frequently as in the very next challenge. For example, our first play through had us going into the game's Rapid Play mode, asking us to go through several different pictures of escalating difficulty and spot the difference. The problem was, though, that one challenge where we were shown two different cars, which took up a bit of the screen and was very obvious to the player, had repeated 3 times in a row, through challenge level one, two and three.

Continue reading DS Fanboy review: Quickspot

A glowing import review of Picross DS

If paint by number gets you so excited you can't even see straight, have patience -- your day in the sun is coming, courtesy of the DS. A Jeux France blogger got their hands on an import copy of Picross DS and had nothing but love for the game, particularly when it came to the online mode. Might be worth importing, for those of you who hate waiting for localizations that may never come.

Continue reading A glowing import review of Picross DS

DS Fanboy Review: Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

If, in your secret heart of hearts, you really enjoy being kicked in the face, then we can heartily recommend Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. It will satisfy your special needs in a way that is beyond compare.

However, if you're like the rest of us and don't have a genetic need to sweat and swear your way through games, we'll tell you to approach this one with caution. Izuna has a lot going for it, but prepare yourself for an unforgiving gaming experience.

Continue reading DS Fanboy Review: Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

EGM so-so over Phoenix Wright, anoints Hotel Dusk

While we haven't seen it, word is that the upcoming issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly has some very interesting scores (and reviews) for a pair of upcoming DS titles. The March issue takes a look at both Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (it's long title month around here), and offers a lackluster-to-good range of scores for one, and great scores to the other ... and it's not the way that you may think.

Word on the street forums is that the scores for the two games in the issue are as follows:

Justice for All
: 6.0, 7.0, 8.0
Hotel Dusk: 8.0, 8.0, 10 (yeah, that's a ten)

Now, it's true that this edition of Phoenix Wright is not judged to be the best by those who've played deeper into the series, and those are decent and respectable scores (which mean nothing, since we're all playing it anyway, and probably twice). But the scores for Hotel Dusk are surprising, and something of a relief as well. Whether or not you're a fan of EGM, it's nice to see such enthusiastic review scores. As a point of comparison, Trace Memory (often invoked when mentioning Hotel Dusk) scored much lower with EGM -- that game posted an average score of 6.17.

[Via Go Nintendo]

Japanese hardware sales, 18 Dec - 24 Dec: New Year's Resolution Edition

Cross 'em.As we here at the Fanboy ready ourselves for the revelry of a new year, we must turn back and view 2006 through shiny, gold-tinted glasses. It's been a full twelve months of taking names and kicking ass (look forward to a special Review of 2006 series), but we can't help but think that we could do better.

What's in store for 2007? The library of DS games continues to expand with gems like Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Dragon's Quest IX, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, Diddy Kong Racing, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Phoenix Wright 2 (oh hell yes), Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and much more. We'll be starting up a series of Fanboy podcasts quite soon, and we'll be bringing some new talent into the fold as well.

Let's not forget, of course, the reason you guys come here in the first place: the weekly Japanese Hardware Sales posts. In case you've missed the hilarity, there's a run-down of every edition after the break. We're curious: which were your favorite? Let us know! We look forward to 2007, readers, and have a wonderful New Year's!

And holy hell look at those DS Lite numbers.

- DS Lite: 485,584 165,876 (51.88%)
- Wii: 279,277 171,040 (158.02%)
- PSP: 138,588 89,626 (183.05%)
- PS3: 76,882 5,940 (8.37%)
- PS2: 46,209 8,479 (22.47%)
- Xbox 360: 17,213 45 (0.26%)
- Game Boy Micro: 2,394 903 (60.56%)
- GBA SP: 1,858 9 (0.48%)
- Gamecube: 1,250 98 (8.51%)
- DS Phat: 380 222 (140.51%)
- GBA: 57 15 (35.71%)
- Xbox: 11 8 (266.67%)

[Source: Media Create]

Continue reading Japanese hardware sales, 18 Dec - 24 Dec: New Year's Resolution Edition

Metareview: Kirby: Squeak Squad

Kirby has a wide array of powers, among them the little known aura that inspires complete adoration. Who could look upon the puff and not smile? In that, most of us agree. But there's something that no one can agree on when it comes to the newly released Kirby: Squeak Squad -- and that's the difficulty of the game. Sure, reviewers may be extolling Kirby's virtues, but the list of virtues is not quite the same from one write-up to another.

Yahoo! Games - 70%: In terms of difficulty, this is one of the easier platformers on the DS ...This game definitely catered to the less patient and less experienced DS owners. Mini-games are another beloved aspect of Kirby titles, but Squeak Squad's are disappointing: Play a variation on bumper cars, engage in speed eating, or avoid bombs in a treasure hunt. Even the prospect of multiplayer competitions can't add much longevity to these quickly cast-aside diversions.

Cubed3 - 90%: ...people oft complain that Kirby's adventures are far too easy, thus do not manage to scale the heights of Mario's platform games. They generally point out that it is especially due to the fact that he can inhale fresh air and then just float along at the top of the screen until the end of a level. However, this really is not the case with Squeak Squad as the levels are extremely intricate, housing so many secrets that it is practically impossible to find them all on your first play through. There are eight worlds in total, broken down into separate levels, with a final boss at the end of each one. Altogether there are 37 stages, seven hidden ones and eight boss battles. The main stages and boss battles alone should be enough to keep the average gamer happy, but thankfully for those Kirby masters out there, much more is added on top of this to make the package truly complete.

GamePro - 80%: The only thing we didn't like about Squeak Squad is that it's a tad on the easy side. To say that it's forgiving is an understatement. Food, which replenishes your health, is readily available and the bosses don't put up much of a challenge. Also, the cartoonish visual style might turn off more mature gamers who like their games to have a little hair on their chests. But there is no denying the ineffable charm of this title and gamers looking to give their DS a workout should gobble this one up like it was made of sweet, sweet candy.

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