Games Watch: Wii and DS, 2009

Well, I’ve done it. I posted my very first review on this blog the other day. I wrote it on Sunday, and I aimed for about five hundred words. I hit that mark, but, looking at it now, I think I focused too heavily on the negative aspects without really giving the game enough credit where it deserved praise. I will try to do better on my future reviews.

Alright! I’m now playing Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia. I think Atlus released the sequel today, so I’m a bit behind. I’ll see how much I like the first one, and then if I like it I’ll hunt down the second.

Now I’d like to talk about some upcoming games I’m looking forward to for the Wii and DS. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Wii and DS are the only current-gen systems I own, so this post will be exclusively about upcoming games for those systems. There are plenty of Playstation 3 and XBox 360 games I’m interested in and following closely, but I will talk more about them in a future post. So here they are (All images are from unless otherwise noted):

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

System: Nintendo DS
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: E10+ (everyone ages 10 and up)
Release Date: 02/16/09

First up is Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. I’ve been a big fan of the series since it first made the jump to the U.S. in late 2003 on the GameBoy Advance. Though we didn’t get a Fire Emblem game until this decade, the series has been around since 1990 or so in Japan. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a remake of the very first game for the NES. It stars Marth, who until now is only known outside of Japan for being a playable character in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, on a quest to free his homeland from the revived evil of the Shadow Dragon. Along the way he’ll gain numerous comrades and form an army to aid him on his adventure.

Okay, so what is known of the story sounds pretty generic, but I’m not lying when I say most of the Fire Emblem games (that have been released here anyway) follow a similar formula. The only one that tried something different was the Wii title Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and it’s story was nightmarishly bad. However, story is not necessarily why you play a Fire Emblem game. It is a turn-based strategy series with a very deep and engaging battle system. It forces the player to have intimate knowledge of their individual units and those units’ capabilities in order to conquer each battle. You must also consider terrain, enemy units, approach, and unforeseen circumstances. If you screw up the game will let you know because if one of your units’ health runs out, they die. Of course, you’re allowed to restart the battle, so it isn’t completely unforgiving. Yet a good portion of the characters are imbued with so much personality through their fantastic character portraits (as seen in the screenshot), and through support conversations which give the player insight into the character’s motivations and emotions. It is hard to not get attached!

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon has already been released pretty much everywhere except North America, and I’m hearing it is quite good. The only concern I have is that I’ve heard in order to get to all of the side-quests you’ll have to let certain characters die. How uncool is that?

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

System: Nintendo DS
Developer: Arte Piazza
Publisher: Square Enix
ESRB Rating: E10+ (everyone ages 10 and up)
Release Date: 02/17/09

Yes, even though I wasn’t terribly impressed by Dragon Quest IV, I am looking forward to Dragon Quest V as I am a fan of the series. Like its predecessor for the DS, Dragon Quest V is a remake of the Super Nintendo title of the same name. But unlike its predecessor, it has never before been released in North America. Regardless, it is extremely popular in Japan, and, from what I’ve seen around the internet, it is the most popular entry in the series.

That being said, I don’t know a whole lot about the game’s story. I know that you take the role of the hero as you do in every Dragon Quest game and guide him through an adventure that will take him through various stages of his life. He starts as a kid, but will eventually become an adult. I don’t know how complex the aging concept will be in the game, but I imagine it will be child to adult without anything in between. Which is just fine. In many ways it sounds like it is a spiritual predecessor to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which is one of my favorite games.

The battle system will be traditional Dragon Quest meaning it will be the same simple and addictive gameplay that has made the series so fun to play for so long. And would you look at that color palette in the screenshot! The vibrancy of the Dragon Quest settings are truly phenomenal with today’s technology. My only hope is that Square Enix will include the party talk feature that they removed inthe Dragon Quest IV DS remake. Of course, the characters having actual dialogue would be nice too.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade

System: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: XSEED
ESRB Rating: Not Yet Rated
Release Date: 07/15/09

Muramasa: The Demon Blade will be a 2D side-scrolling action title with RPG elements. It is set against a Japanese fantasy backdrop, and you can see just how gorgeous that backdrop is in this and many other screenshots. As a sidenote, if I’m not mistaken, I believe all of the sprites, and environments are completely hand drawn! I’ve yet to hear any details on story, but apparently you can play as either a male or female ninja. What’s not to like about that?

I’m looking forward to it because good side-scrolling action games are sadly few in number anymore. The last I played was Viewtiful Joe 2, and there won’t likely be another Viewtiful Joe game since the developer, Clover Studios, is ancient history. The developers of Muramasa: The Demon Blade also made Odin Sphere for the Playstation 2 (which I still haven’t played!), and I have high hopes that Muramasa: The Demon Blade will receive the good critical reception that Odin Sphere did.

These are the Wii and DS titles I’m looking forward to most this year, but there are others I’m interested in that I’ll just list: Suikoden Tierkreis, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, Dragon Quest VI and Dragon Quest IX (which might not hit North America until 2010), Madworld, and New Play Control: Metroid Prime.

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