March 25, 2009

Toy Story Mania

BURBANK, Calif. – (March 25, 2009) – Disney Interactive Studios today announced Toy Story Mania!, inspired by the Disney/Pixar animated feature “Toy Story,” will be released exclusively for the Wii™ home video game console this fall. Toy Story Mania! showcases an array of entertaining games based on the iconic characters and humor from the popular Disney/Pixar “Toy Story” franchise at the new Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort attractions.

“The ‘Toy Story’ franchise is a fun, dynamic and heart-warming series containing characters and themes that connect with every age group,” said Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing, Disney Interactive Studios. “Toy Story Mania! combines those popular elements with the unique antics of the new theme park attraction for the ultimate in family entertainment.”

Toy Story Mania! is the first video game to place characters from the “Toy Story” films into a carnival game setting and is expected to resonate with fans of the films and the attraction, as well as gamers who like pick-up-and-play party games. In the game, players experience the fast-paced, zany fun of the Toy Story Mania! theme park attraction, which is an interactive experience requiring 3D glasses and involving rapid or quick-firing shooting galleries.

In addition to galleries adapted from the attraction, the game includes new and original galleries and a series of mini games, all hosted by beloved characters from the movies. The thematically-connected levels are designed for up to four players of all ages with competitive and co-operative multiplayer options. Toy Story Mania! also includes bonus 3D features, transforming the game experience with eye-popping visuals.

The Pixar-created “Toy Story” and ”Toy Story 2” have both had successful box office and DVD sales. The Disney Digital 3D™ theatrical re-release of “Toy Story” is in the works and will open in theatres on October 2, 2009, followed by the 3D re-release of “Toy Story 2” opening on February 12, 2010, leading up to the premiere of “Toy Story 3” in 3D summer 2010.

Developed by Papaya Studio, Toy Story Mania! will be available this fall exclusively for Wii.

March 18, 2009

Boing! Docomodake

Author: Kirby of

I have to be honest and say that when I received Boing! Docomodake for the Nintendo DS I had no idea of what the game was about and who the main character in the game is. So thanks to the power of the internet I did a little research and found out that the mushroom like character is actually based of a cell phone mascot popular in Japan. Yep, a game released in North America is based on a Japanese cell phone mascot from Japan’s NTT DoCoMo. I have to say that this is surprising to say the least. However, surprises are good, and as much as I was surprised with the source material of the game, I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this little title.

As I mentioned, our mushroom like character heralds from Japan, and most Western gamers won’t have a clue who he is. That being said don’t let that scare you from the game as it has a strange addictiveness to it. Our main character has to search the world he inhabits in search of the rest of his family who went missing as they went to collect goodies for the annual village festival. You will venture through a total of 40 or so levels in your efforts to find the family you love and bring them back in time to celebrate the annual festival. There are short, but sweet, panels (or screens should you wish) that tell each family members story of where they are and how they got there.

The best way to describe the gameplay in Boing! Docomodake is that it is a platform/puzzle hybrid. Anyone who has played Nintendo’s own Mario vs. Donkey Kong should understand the game type right away. You will face quite a variety of challenges including moving platforms, different types of enemies, ladders, trap doors, spikes, gates, switches and all the regular fare you have come to expect in platform based games.

Before you go off and say “geez louise, this is just another mario-like clone”, I have to tell you that it is not just that. Our main hero has the strange ability to break up into little mini-Docomodakes. This is where the puzzle element of the game comes in. These mini-Docomodakes can be used for a variety of things. You can launch them like projectiles, pile them up to weigh down switches or platforms, fill in blank areas to create missing blocks, and you can even stack them on top of each other to form a Doco-Ladder (a term I just coined while writing this review). As the mini-Docomodakes are actually part of your main character he will decrease in size the more of the mini’s you send out. I should note that each of the minis will not be able to reattach to the main Docomodake after 10 seconds. Using the mini-Docomodakes is kind of cool and it adds a bit of originality, and even some strategy, to the game at hand. I even found myself somewhat sad when I had to sacrifice some of my minis, but alas I had to do what I had to do to finish the game.

A major part of the success of Boing! Docomodake is the control scheme that is implemented in the game. Developers AQ Interactive did a great job of making a simple game control so simple. Most movements are assigned directly the the D-pad. You walk, duck, dig, jump and roll all using the DS’s D-pad. Controlling your minis is accomplished by using the stylus. It is as simple as tapping the mini, dragging it to where you need to use it, and releasing it. As noted above, the minis can be reabsorbed by your main character and should you wish, you can draw a circle around a large group of them and bring them back at once. I liked the fact that I could control each and every mini, but I think that some younger gamers may have problems with what can seem like micromanaging each and every one.

An experienced gamer will only take around five hours or so to finish the game; however as the game can be found for around 20 bucks (USD) that isn’t too bad of a value. Once you finish the main story you can go back through the game and collect every coin and get the best grade possible for each level. These coins can then be spent on such things as story art, music, themes and pictures. For the diehard this is more incentive to play and play again.

If there is one thing that Boing! Docomodake is it is cute and it has a certain appeal that you just can’t ignore. The main character is pretty much a mushroom with arms and legs, but he is pretty charming in design. All the supporting characters (e.g. the main character’s family and enemies) match the game’s endearing approach. The level design is somewhat kid friendly with bright colors and simple tasks, but they do get a little more complicated in looks (and play) as you get further into the game. The 2D style suits the game very much and there is not a lot to dislike here. Sure, it is not going to win any awards for being technologically advanced or pushing the DS hardware, but what is presented on-screen looks pretty good and suits the theme of the game.

The sound is as simple, but yet cute, just like the visuals offered in the game. From the very charming and chipper music to the simple but solid sound effects such as jumping around to sending out your mini-Docomodakes, everything is pretty solid and manages to convey and add to the atmosphere of the game you play. There is not much more that I can say here.

Although I had no clue where the game’s mascot originated, and I had to do some surfing to find out it is a mascot for a Japanese cell phone company, I really did enjoy the whole package offered. From the cute visuals, upbeat sound, and somewhat addicting gameplay, all that is offered on the DS card is well worth the 20 or so bones you will pay to experience this game. Sure it is not the best thing ever, but I still have to thank Ignition Entertainment for having the foresight to release a good and unexpected title to the masses.

March 11, 2009


Award-Winning Black Rock Studio Creating Innovative New Action-Racing Game Where Speed Meets Strategy in a City Rigged For Destruction

BURBANK, Calif. — (March 11, 2009) — Racing to the finish line takes on added excitement when competitors trigger destruction on the track to take out their opponents. Disney Interactive Studios today announced Split/Second, an intense action racing game set within the world of a hyper-competitive reality television show. Competitors vie to be the first across the finish line in a made-for-TV city built for destruction, with the ultimate goal of becoming the season champion. Developed by Black Rock Studio, Split/Second is scheduled to be released in early 2010 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and Windows-based PC.

Competitors in Split/Second don’t just collide with other vehicles to knock them from the track -- they can also trigger explosive events that drastically alter the dynamics of the race. Players must use strategy and pinpoint timing to derail opponents, tactically alter the track or create entirely new routes.

“Split/Second elevates action racing to a new level by enabling players to strategically take out their opponents by dynamically altering the course in real time,” said Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing, Disney Interactive Studios. “Split/Second further showcases Black Rock Studio’s ability to innovate and deliver a compelling experience that has wide appeal beyond the traditional racing genre.”

“We’re creating huge memorable moments on par with the biggest blockbuster action films,” said Nick Baynes, game director, Black Rock Studio. “Action racing has captured the imagination of video game fans worldwide and we’re going to redefine that experience with Split/Second.”

(Article courtesy of Disney Interactive Studios)

March 8, 2009

Phineas & Ferb - DS

The Emmy nominated animated Phineas and Ferb has jumped from the small screen onto the even smaller screen of the Nintendo DS to the delight of many fans. Prior to getting the game I had some knowledge of the show but I had never watched an episode myself. So, I walked down to my local video store and rented Phineas and Ferb so that I could have something to compare the game to. For those unfamiliar with the show the main story line revolves around two step-brothers named Phineas and Ferb who find themselves bored during summer vacation. In order to pass the time, they decide to construct various inventions which range from a backyard roller coaster, a tropical beach, modifying their mom’s car into a race car, or constructing the scariest haunted house imaginable. Throughout the episodes Candace, the older sister of the two brothers, tries to foil their plans by attempting to get their mother to notice their activities. After watching a few episodes, which were surprisingly quite enjoyable, I popped Phineas and Ferb into my DS ready to play.

The best way I can describe Phineas and Ferb is that it is a traditional side scroller with 3D environments. Tossed into the mix are quite a few mini-games and challenges that will keep gamers entertained and on their toes mentally. The story contains four worlds/episodes in which the boys will build a roller coaster in their backyard, drive through a muddy monster truck track, build a waterslide, or make winter happen in the middle of summer.

To achieve their wild and crazy ideas Phineas and Ferb have to collect scraps around their neighborhood to build the parts they need to construct their zany inventions. Collecting parts is fairly easy as you navigate around the neighborhood. Phineas will act as your scavenger and will jump into piles of junk and search through the debris to obtain the scrap pieces once you use the stylus to make a counter-clockwise circle. There are also toolboxes scattered throughout the worlds which contain special parts that you will need to collect to progress to the next world.

While Phineas is the scavenger, Ferb is the craftsmen of the duo. Ferb uses his aptitude towards construction to repair obstacles like lifts, box springs, doors and gates so that the duo can progress to other areas of the world(s) or grant access to toolboxes and other scrap piles. To repair obstacles Ferb will need to be equipped with the required parts to make the repair. Once the parts are in his hand you will need to complete a mini-game like hammering nails (tapping the touch screen with the stylus) or welding shapes (tracing the shape on the touch screen with the stylus) to complete the job.

The two brothers must also team up to perform special maneuvers like jumping over a large gap, walking along a rope bridge, springing over a fence with the aid of a loaded spring, or just jumping up on top of a hard to reach area. The drawback to these maneuvers is that they grab the attention and anger their nemesis, who just happens to be their sister Candace. Candace is always trying to get the boys in trouble with their mother which results in her attempting to catch the boys while they are creating their crazy inventions.

While Phineas and Ferb are exploring their neighborhood you will have to do your best to keep Candace from getting so angry that she tattles to their mother. There is a meter on the top DS screen which increases as Phineas and Ferb’s actions become more outrageous. When the meter reaches 100% you will be launched into a mini-game similar to Pac-Man but with the TV shows characters. Phineas and Ferb will have to evade Candace through a maze while collecting bolts to complete the mini-game. You have three chances to complete the mini-game before Candace captures Phineas and Ferb and tattles on them. If you are worried that you will spend half the game evading Candace, you won’t have to worry too much as Phineas and Ferb have cake to distract her and decreases her anger meter. The boys also have invisibility potions at their disposal which will aid in eluding Candace for a short time.

After you collect all your pieces to build your contraption, and you return to your backyard, you get to play another mini-game to construct your massive invention. Make sure you collect all the pieces you need because you won’t be able to move on to the addicting and fun racing challenges that come into play after you complete your structure..

I really enjoyed the racing aspect of Phineas and Ferb. In the first world you get to race your roller coaster car on a huge roller coaster. Throughout the ride you will have to collect stars and when you collect enough you will unlock other parts of the track. Littered across the roller coaster course is the equivalent of nitro which you can use to set course records, or if you have a fully upgraded vehicle you can use the nitro to gain enough speed to launch yourself into space where you get to participate in a bonus stage. During this bonus game you will take on the role of Agent P and battle Dr. Doffenshmirtz by matching icons on your touch screen to dodge falling debris and earn a perfect bonus.

The game’s stylus controls are intuitive, easy to use, and work well with the other controls of the game. This is a great surprise and adds an extra level of enjoyment to an overall well rounded title. The racing aspect of the game really stands outs from the rest of the game and is by far the highlight of the mini-games.

Being that this is a game adapted from a television series it was not surprising that the graphics were nearly identical its television counterpart. This was a great feature as it gives one a sense that they are stepping into their own episode and taking control. Fans of the series will instantly recognize the familiar triangle and rectangle likeness of Phineas and Ferb, as well as the characters Candace, Isabella, Bufford and the rest of the supporting cast. The settings that are included in the game are also be recognizable from the television series.

The games graphics are true to their cartoon nature. They display some nice attention to detail in the settings as well as in the movements of the characters. You can really see this when the two boys have to stand one on top of the other and they sway left or right as they try to keep their balance. The game is very bright, vibrant and full of color. The only drawback to the graphics was that at times the animations felt sluggish and could appear to be blurry and out of focus. This was not anything major, just something I noticed now and then.

The music of Phineas and Ferb is a basic musical score that repeats itself throughout the game with very little variation from area to area. Though it is kind of catchy it does become a tad monotonous and has you hoping for a drastic change of tune. That being said, fans of the show should not be too disappointed.

There is very little voice acting incorporated into the game and what is there is limited to a few catch phrases like Isabella saying, “Watcha doing?” The little voice work that is available will lead to a lot of required reading. Though, it is great to get kids reading, it may detract them from wanting to play the game if they have to read too much.

Overall, the highlight of the sounds in this game is the sound effects which are quite well done. They really added to the cartoon feel of the game, from the sound of your characters jumping to the musical chime when you find scraps or collect items on the ground. I especially liked when Phineas and Ferb run at full tilt and suddenly stop on the spot. You will hear a screeching sound as the duo stops in their tracks. Phineas and Ferb’s shoes even have upgrades that allow you to change your shoes to tap shoes or shoes that squeak, and they all make different sounds.

Phineas and Ferb for the Nintendo DS is a great family title that uses the stylus controls really well and adapts the television series accurately. I found the only drawbacks within the game were the limited music selection and the occasional sluggish animation, but these did not overly affect my gameplay experience. Though fans of the television series will likely enjoy playing Phineas and Ferb and interacting with the characters, rest assured to rest of you out there do not need to have seen the show to get the most out of what this game has to offer.

March 6, 2009

Ask A Gamer

We are launching a new feature today! I have dubbed it Ask A Gamer and it is for gamers, or parents of gamers who need a helping hand with beating a game or attaining knowledge of the game. The blurb below sums up the feature quite well.

Not sure how to beat a certain level? Stuck on a boss? Just need some help with a game, or some pointers to help your kids? Want us to review a specific game? Drop an e-mail to our resourceful gamers and we will get the answers you need.

Delve into this season’s finest with Days of Arcade on Xbox LIVE Arcade

Get ready for six weeks of downloadable blockbusters as Xbox LIVE Arcade debuts a hot line-up of titles with Days of Arcade.

Toronto, ON – March 5, 2009 – The Days of Arcade program kicks off on Wednesday, March 18 with four board game favorites in “Hasbro Family Game Night.”

Days of Arcade will feature a new smash hit every week; stay tuned for a surprise two-title week where you can double-up on the downloadable fun.

From the card-game thrills of “UNO Rush” to highly-anticipated indie title "The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai," to an enhanced re-make of the classic “Lode Runner,” Days of Arcade offers something for everyone.

Home to 2008 award winners "Braid" and "Castle Crashers," Xbox LIVE Arcade is your premier destination for the freshest and most innovative digitally-distributed, pick-up-and-play games. Now’s your chance to celebrate this exciting collection of top titles.

The Days of Arcade blowout brings you:
• “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai” (Microsoft)
• “Flock” (Capcom)
• “Hasbro Family Game Night” (Electronic Arts)
• “Lode Runner” (Microsoft)
• “Outrun Online Arcade” (Sega)
• “Puzzle Quest: Galactrix” (D3 Publisher)
• “UNO Rush” (Microsoft)

Each week’s title release will be announced the Monday prior to availability. Get ready to experience Days of Excitement, Days of Fun, Days of Arcade!

(Article courtesy of Xbox)

March 3, 2009

Minesweeper Flags: XBLA

Minesweeper Flags brings an old classic PC game to Xbox Live Arcade with a few fun additions and variations including campaign mode and minesweeper flags. The idea behind classic minesweeper is to clear a grid which is variable in size depending on your difficulty level without falling on a mine. The harder the difficulty, the bigger the board grid will be and more mines will be hidden throughout. In order to accomplish your goal you will be provided numerical hints once you select a grid block that will let you know how many mines are located around that grid block. The number of mines will fall within a 3x3 grid (the 8 grid blocks that surround the block with the number). The hints will make sense once you start playing.

In campaign mode you will travel across the continents clearing levels (game boards) in order to unlock the individual continents: South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Antarctica for use in classic mode. North America is the only continent board that is available without having to be unlocked. The continental game boards deviate slightly from the traditional grey grid rectangular boards in the way that you view them and their shape and colour. The continental boards are viewed horizontally (you look down on them as though they were laying flat on the landscape) instead of viewing the traditional grid vertically or head on. This change took some getting used to and slowed down my clearing times at first. The boards will also vary in shape and size in each level of campaign mode and at times will even include gaps (missing blocks) within the grid. When using a continental board for classic minesweeper it will keep the traditional rectangular shape. The continental boards are more visually pleasing than the traditional board within the landscape stereotypical to the continent in question. The backgrounds have some moving features to them including: animals, water features etc which added to the beauty of the boards.

Flags mode can be played with up to 4 players and you can play either against the computer AI or multiplayer with a friend locally or through Xbox Live multiplayer. The goal in minesweeper flags is to uncover more mines than your opponent. In the game you will take turns (a turn timer determines the length of your turn) to select grid blocks to attempt to find the mines. You can play around with the game rules to determine difficulty, ability to move again on Flag found and how long the turn will last. My only complaint with the few games that I played of Minesweeper Flags on beginner difficulty was that I found the AI a little too lucky. They always seemed to find a surprising amount of mines by chance (random clicks, not determined by number clues) than I felt really possible.

This arcade game is suitable for all ages and encourages counting and problem solving with numbers. I found the game really enjoyable however, if I could have added one feature to the game it would have been the ability to zoom into the board to make it a little easier on the eyes. Overall, the game is a good value and there are a lot of gameplay options that will keep you busy for some time.

Halo Wars Contest

Howdy folks,

I have some Flaming Warthog Codes for Halo Wars and one Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack to giveaway! All you have to do is e-mail, message me on Xbox Live or post a comment on who is your favourite classic video game character to enter. I mention a few in my Halo Wars Demo article if you need some inspiration.

Draw will take place tonight at midnight (EST)

March 2, 2009

Xbox 360 Delivers Best March Break Ever

National tour offers hands-on fun, excitement and information for the entire family; valuable EB Games rebates; plus the chance to win an Xbox party at your house

TORONTO, ON – March 2, 2009 – Xbox Canada is helping parents coast-to-coast solve the perennial “What can I do with the kids during March Break?” dilemma. The Xbox 360(R) “Best March Break Ever” Tour will bring family friendly fun to retail malls and other March Break destinations. Tour details can be found at

• Centre Pointe Claire, Montreal, PQ -- March 5-8, 2009
• Richmond Centre, Richmond, B.C. -- March 12-15, 2009
• Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, ON -- March 19-22, 2009
• Market Mall, Calgary, AB -- March 26-29, 2009

At the Tour, brand ambassadors will guide families through four exciting interactive zones where parents and kids will be invited to enjoy games like Rock Band 2, Scene It! Box Office Smash, You’re In The Movies and Lips. The experience will also include tutorials on the many features available with the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system including Xbox LIVE(R), Xbox 360 Family Settings and an array of options that extend beyond gaming, such as viewing DVDs and photo storing.

$25 Coupon
As an additional reward for visiting all four interactive zones, families will be given a retail coupon courtesy of EB Games for $25 off an Arcade, Pro or Elite Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

Enter To Win
Families can also enter for the chance to win the ultimate party with 30 of their family and friends. Xbox will provide all the necessary components to throw the party including an Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, select games, catering and professional cleanup crew. Not only will it be a great time, the only evidence of a party will be the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system left behind. Provide the necessary information to an onsite representative for the chance to win 1 grand prize or 10 secondary prizes.

Full rebate & contest details can be found at

(Article courtesy of Xbox)