Star Soldier R
- Developer: Hudson
- Wii Points: 800 Wii Points
- In Real Money: GBP 7 / EUR 10 approx
The latest instalment in Hudson's classic Star Soldier series of vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups appears to be a WiiWare game for one very simple reason: because it's tiny. It retains many of the gameplay features of previous Star Soldier games, most notably the ability to switch between three different speeds for your ship on the fly, but we suspect that it's the key difference that will attract the most comments.
Rather than progressing through various levels in a linear fashion, Star Soldier R makes you choose between two- and five-minute time-attack modes when you begin, and then challenges you to rack up as many points as possible before the timer runs out. As such, the game only has two short levels, and even a fairly unaccomplished shoot-'em-up player (such as your humble, and twitch reaction-challenged correspondent) will have seen everything the game has to offer within about ten minutes.
Now, you could argue that the real challenge and entertainment of a game like this lies with attempting to continually improve your high score, and to that end the game does boast online scoreboards and so on. However, given the tiny amount of content on offer here, that repetition isn't going to appeal to very many gamers. Even at the lowest price for a WiiWare games, it's hard to see Star Soldier R being good value.
That's a bit of a shame, because the production values aren't bad - the controls are sensitive and accurate, and the graphics, although not much beyond PS2 level, are crisp and clean. If only they'd taken the time to build another dozen levels, this would be a great little game. But they didn't. So it isn't.
- Developer: Two Tribes
- Wii Points: 900
- In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 approx
Toki Tori is a fat little chicken who's lost an absolute sackload of eggs. Oops. Thankfully, he's a fat little chicken who happens to be rather adept at overcoming platform and puzzle challenges, thanks to an arsenal of gadgets including a teleporter, a freeze gun and a bubble generator for moving around underwater. Perhaps his eggs aren't scrambled after all.
Actually, it's a bit of a stretch to describe Toki Tori as a platform game, since there's no actual platforming involved. Although the levels are laid out in 2D platforms, you move Toki Tori around by pointing the Wiimote at where you want him to go and pressing a button - he'll automatically make any simple jumps or drop down the requisite spaces. It's only in getting to places Tori can't get to automatically that you'll need to interact, by using one of the limited sets of items at your disposal.
This is really a puzzle game, then - and it's actually rather good in that regard. Although it starts out very simple, later puzzles require several attempts for most players, as your early actions - building bridges, dropping malicious ghosts through holes in the floor, or sucking slugs into a Ghostbusters-style backpack - will influence what you can and can't do later in the level. Despite the childish graphics, this feels like it would be quite frustrating for anyone younger than their mid-teens - although if parents fancy playing it with younger children, it does allow you to draw on the screen with the second Wiimote so you can offer hints and suggestions.
The game has over 70 levels, so there's plenty of potential play time here for anyone who enjoys this kind of puzzle. On the downside, it's yet another game that fills your Wii message board with spam from in-game characters - and even though Tori's postcards are fairly charming, we can see them resulting in astonishing barrages of swear words when they make our Wii's disc slot pulse insistently at us and get us all excited about non-existent messages from the friends we like to pretend we have.
TV Show King
- Developer: Gameloft
- Wii Points: 1000
- In Real Money: GBP 7 / EUR 10 approx
TV Show King is WiiWare's answer to Sony's hugely successful Buzz! games, and is likely to be the most divisive of the launch titles. The idea is that you're presented with multiple-choice questions and points are scored by those fastest to click on the correct answers. The developers claim over 3,000 questions in a number of categories, which should last a fair few rounds, although it's less extensive than any of the Buzz! games.
There are some nice touches - like the fact that it uses your Mii characters - but there are also some aspects that just don't work that well. At points in the game it makes you use the Wiimote as a scratching device to scrape away at the answers, for instance, which is just annoying and doesn't contribute anything to the quiz experience. Buzz! also had a number of rounds which rewarded players either randomly, or for things other than their quiz knowledge, but these were the weakest points in Buzz!, and copying them here feels like a mistake.
The biggest problem with TV Show King, however, is the complete lack of any online functions. We'd love to have seen additional question packs up for download, but the game doesn't acknowledge the existence of the Internet. Of course, being a quiz game, it's also very much a party experience - you won't get much out of it if you're on your own.
On the plus side, it's a perfectly adequate little quiz game, with generally decent presentation and what seem, based on our short play time, to be a reasonably varied line-up of questions. We're not sure, however, whether the questions have been changed for the UK English version - we hope we don't end up answering questions about US soap operas. It'll likely be blown away by the PS3 version of Buzz! when that appears, but then again, it's also much cheaper (and runs on a much cheaper console) - so it's certainly not a bad filler for that quiz-shaped gap in your life.
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