DVD by czechrThis weekend I brought Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. I greatly enjoyed the first one, and it’s one of the few games that me and my girlfriend can play together.

It’s a pretty easy game to pick up, but for this one Nintendo included a tutorial DVD. Two questions immediately spring to mind here. Firstly, what can you do with a DVD that you can’t do with an in-game, interactive, tutorial. Secondly, why is this a DVD that you can’t play on the Wii?

Let me just say that again.

Why is this a DVD that you can’t play on the Wii?

To watch the tutorial you need to turn off your Wii, turn on your DVD player, watch the DVD, and then go back to your Wii. I’d love to know how Nintendo came to this decision, because it drastically slow you down your first experience of playing the game, and those that are mostly likely to want to watch the video are those who will struggle to switch over to the DVD player.

Come on Nintendo, you can do better than this.

Photo of DVD by czechr.


Championship Manager 2010 for the iPhone Review

Soccer Ball by jbelluchI often pass some time while traveling playing a game or two on my phone. Being a football fan I was interested to see that a version of Championship Manager was available for the iPhone.

Early impressions of the game are good. The interface is polished with plenty of options and buttons to press. The game also features a pretty complete set of teams and players with all the usual statistics that you would expect from a football management game.

The key part of a football management is the match interface. Choosing your formation and assigning players to positions is incredibly easy with the touch interface. The actual view of the match is top down and feels really cramped on the small screen. Reading the text commentary is simple, but watching the tiny dots running around on the pitch is very difficult to follow. You cannot help but feel detached from the action.

Post-match you are often treated to a press conference where you pick a journalist who asks you a question. You then pick an answer from a number of options, trying to balance the happiness of your players, board, fans and the media. Different answers will improve your standing with some and reduce it with others. Oddly along with the text of each answer the game shows you the exact effect the answer will have. A really manager has to guess at how their answer will be interpreted, they don’t have a help set of red and green numbers.

I was quite surprised to see a football management game on the iPhone. Both Championship and Football Manager are well known for needing substantial amounts of CPU power and memory to run well even on a desktop PC. The game does run pretty well, although some of the menu transitions are a little sluggish. I’m sure it would run better on a 3GS rather than the 3G that I have. Another issue is that the game is a huge battery drain and you can probably only get an hour or so play on a fully charged phone.

While Championship Manager on the iPhone was never going to be a graphical marvel, but it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive games on the system. At just £2.99 it’s an excellent purchase.

Photo of a soccer ball by jbelluch.

FlightControl Review

On Friday I download a fun little puzzle game for my iPhone, FlightControl.

The premise of the game is that you’re running air traffic approach control for a small airport and you need to arrange for the two types of passenger jets, light aircraft and helicopters to land in the appropriate places without crashing into each other. A simple concept with even simpler controls. You tap on the plane you want to direct and then drag the plane to the runway. It will then follow the path you dragged out. It’s incredibly easy to use and really lets you focus on the goal of stopping those planes from crashing.

The graphics and sounds are excellent. The game has a great cartoon feel and although the menu and ui are minimal it has a very consistent look that clearly didn’t happen by accident. The map and airport look good and there are plans to add more airports to the game which I hope will be done to a similarly high standard.

The game starts off very easy to let you get the feel for the controls but the difficulty level ramps up pretty quickly and you’ll soon have to deal with five or more planes at once. When you’ve got two planes flying at different speeds trying to land on the same runway your brain will start to melt, but in a good way.

The game features online leaderboards which is a nice touch, but like with most online stats the leaders are way out of most users reach. The current all-time top score is almost 15,000. My best is 53.

My only criticisms are that the airport is perhaps a little large which means you don’t have much room to sort your planes into stacks as you wait for them to land. The game also has an annoying habit of letting new planes enter when an existing plane is right by the edge so they crash before you can do anything. A warning icon does appear to give you time to move a plane out of the way, but it’s frustrating to lose a game in what seems like such an unfair manner. Finally I think the game could be improved by putting ticks on the planes paths so you see more easily when they well get to a certain point on the map. A small marker every five seconds of flying time would be very useful.

The game is a great pick-up-and-play title, and you won’t be able to play it just the once. With the game currently selling for a greatly reduced price it should be on every casual gamer’s iPhone.

Wolfenstein 3d iPhone Review

ID Software have taken time out from letting you play Quake 3 in your browser to release a port of the granddaddy of all first person shooters – Wolfenstein 3d. The iPhone is really beginning to show itself as an excellent gaming platform, and despite its age Wolfenstein really looks at home on the phone.

The graphics are, quite frankly, rubbish. However, they’re exactly as they were when the game was released in 1992 which is exactly the point. The sound has faired much better and sounds great. The voices of the German soldiers still send shivers up your spine. It’s an extremely faithful port of the game, and the addition of an automatic save feature means it really works as a pick up and play game. It’s very easy to dip in and out of taking one level at a time.

The controls have naturally been revamped for the iPhone’s unique control system. You steer by moving your left finger over up/down/left/right arrows and fire by tapping your right finger on a button. This works really well and it is very easy to pick up and to start running around the Nazi prison that you find yourself in. The controls do rather feel like driving a fork lift truck. You regularly find your self reversing backwards around a corner, which is not how a person would move, but it’s easy to forgive and hard to see how else it could be done.

The game might seem a little expensive at £2.99 but you get all six episodes of the game which will last you many hours. It’s available in the App Store now, and for such an old game still shows its class amongst the other games available on the iPhone.

If you’re interesting in the process of making the port then John Carmack has written a detailed post describing it.