Category Archives: purchase of the month

Disney Magical World simply asks you to collect the world

disney magic castle 3DS 36176608

I ended up nabbing a copy of Disney Magical World for the Nintendo 3DS a couple weeks ago and have been chipping away at it ever since. The first GameStop I went to, however, didn’t even have a single copy available since, according to the slack-jawed guy behind the counter, “We got no pre-orders for it.” Hmm. I went home defeated, but returned a few days later to a different GameStop and was lucky enough to snatch from the shelves their only copy. I guess the game isn’t in high demand, since everyone probably has Animal Crossing: New Leaf to keep them busy daily, and I get that. But I was also very curious about what Disney Magical World does differently. Surprisingly, a lot.

First off, you’re not the mayor of this magical castle and the realms surrounding it. Instead, you’re you. Well, at least I am. You can either create an avatar from scratch or use a Mii you’ve previously created, and I love seeing my Mii in action in games like Find Mii 2, so I went down that path. Plus, for a game all about customizable clothes, I want to see what I look like in a Mickey-themed apron–and only a Mickey-themed apron–not some passable clone of an avatar. Anyways, you’re dropped into this magical world with no big, hard goal to complete; instead, you’re out to earn stickers, which will help unlock other areas in the hub world, as well as give you new recipes for clothes, furniture, and other stuff. Early on, you’ll unlock one thing after another, so the pacing and progression is constantly rewarding, but around the 28-33 sticker mark, I hit a lull and had to actively plan on getting some stickers to help keep things going forward. Not a major problem, really, as by then there’s plenty of other stuff to occupy your brain even if, technically, progress is stalled.

See, Disney Magical World is one big collectathon. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a combination of collectibles and marathon, and that’s the fuel driving every action you more or less take here. In all the various hub worlds, spots on the ground will shimmer just like in JRPGs like Dragon Quest IX and Ni no Kuni, indicating an item to find, and these glow spots refresh pretty quickly if you’re looking to grind for, say, balloon apples. You can also gain items from fishing, doing miscellaneous fetch quests, and killing ghosts (more on that later). Some of these items are good for selling, some for mixing to create recipes, and some for making clothes and furniture. And some are more rare than others, requiring you to devote a decent chunk of time to fishing or planting crops to gain ’em. It’s a lot of alchemy without the alchemy pot, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s taking one item and fusing it with another to create something even cooler.

Pretty early on, you end up being the manager of the local café, which I decided to call the Drinkpad. This means you can select and create the dishes served for customers, change the room’s layout and theme, and throw big parties, the kind that might even gain the attention of some of the bigger Disney characters, like Stitch and Cinderella. There are even café-specific quests to complete, and this is where you’ll make most of your money, so long as you keep on top of inventory stock and what the people really want. Eventually, you’ll get to live above the café and can also decorate your bedroom a bit; not to the crazy extent of some other life simulator, but enough to make it feel like yours. I appreciate the ability to change your background music.

Strangely, my favorite aspect of Disney Magical World, so far, is the combat. Yeah, you read that correctly–the combat. Whenever I describe the gameplay of Animal Crossing: New Leaf to someone, I always make sure to mention that there’s no fighting, no boss battles, and hand-to-hand violence. That you just live a life and collect stuff and make your own non-violent fun. And the same can be said here as well, but you also get to take on missions that have you dungeon-crawling and zapping ghosts with your wands. It’s not a very complicated system; you can shoot a blast of energy from your wand with a simple button tap or hold to charge up for a stronger shot. Depending on your gear, you also get a set number of magic spells to use, though you can refill these as you go along, gathering items, hitting switches, and exploring the map. Instead of a roll, you can twirl out of the way of enemies by hitting the shoulder button, and that’s pretty important as, so far as I’ve seen, there’s no way to recover your health along the way. At the end of each dungeon is a boss ghost, complete with a long health bar to deplete, and upon kicking its butt, you’re rewarded even more items for your inventory. It’s not very challenging, but it helps break up the pace of simply running around, farming glow spots.

Honestly, there’s a lot to this game. I’ve not even touched on everything, though this post is now getting kinda long. I’ll write more later, I knows it. But yeah, just like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Disney Magical World is perfect for picking up and playing for ten or fifteen minutes only to realize a half hour has gone by and I still need to collect more character cards and check on Pooh’s garden and find a pumpkin so I can go to Cinderella’s ball and and and…

Be like Bolton, and get back to the good part!

In honor of today’s big Purchase of the Month–that’d be LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, not Brink, which is getting horrible review scores–I give you Michael Bolton crooning over Jack Sparrow’s fantastical adventures:

“Big sexy hook” doesn’t even begin to describe this work of art.

Adding to the Backlog – Ratchet: Deadlocked, Secret Agent Clank, King’s Field: The Ancient City, Myst III: Exile

Yup, four more games. How did it happen? Well, let me tell you, inquistive Grinding Down reader.

GameStop is currently running their Power Saver Sale to make more room on their shelves for all things shiny and current. That means a lot of used PlayStation 2, GameCube, and GameBoy Advance games need to go, and as we’re all aware, these sorts of stores have plenty of stock available to push. Outdoing their buy two, get one free deal, the current Power Saver Sale is all about buying two, getting two for free. That’s, uh, an extra free game! Not too shabby.

I went to the GameStop by the Leaky Cauldron the other night, but didn’t see anything worth grabbing. Still, this sale is too good to let swim by so I decided to try again, this time visiting the closest one to my workplace. Went out on my lunch break and found both of the Ratchet & Clank games for super cheap, around $7.99 each. I scanned the shelves and bins for other titles I knew I wanted, such as Ico, more point-and-click adventures (if any exist for the PS2), Suikoden III, any of the Yakuza games, and maybe a copy of Psychonauts if I was lucky. Alas, none of those titles were discovered. The best I could find was Myst III: Exile and King’s Field: The Ancient City, both around $2.99 each, meaning these would be my freebies for the Power Saver Sale. I’ve never played any Myst games, but I did read one of the books a long time ago; from what I can tell, it’s kind of like a first-person clicking game. And I guess King’s Field is a first-person RPG starring people with deformed hands…I dunno. Going to go into it with completely fresh eyes and give it a shot.

I am, however, most excited about the Ratchet & Clank games. That series, mainly the original trilogy, had some of the best gameplay to offer on the PlayStation 2, and I had just started moving over to new consoles when the spin-offs and tie-ins came out. These are sure to be a blast, and all that remains for PlayStation 2 playable titles in the series is Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters.

To be honest, I’m getting a little bored with my current Xbox 360 selections. Considering that I recently went back to a five-year old game simply for Achievements, something needs spicing up. My videogaming, that is. And if I’m going to go back and play five-year-old games, I might as well go play some good ones from the PlayStation 2. Well, hopefully good.

The sale ends on April 24, 2011 so get to it. Plenty of great games still available for all three systems. I suggest you go searching, too.

Xtreme shopping sales on Xbox Live today

There’s some crazy deals happening on Xbox Live today for tons of games. Seriously, there’s a lot of content marked down, way too much for little ol’ me to type up, but Major Nelson has a good summary of it all.

Having only 400 Microsoft Space Bucks left over from when I recently purchased Torchlight (well, 410 if you wanna be specific), I figured I’d grab one game for a good price and be done with it. Then I started to peruse all the deals, and well…I caved. There’s also one-day only sales happening today, the day of fools, and I just couldn’t pass one up at the discounted price. I purchased another 1600 Microsoft Space Bucks and have now downloaded five arcade games in the past 12 hours. Check ’em out:

A Kingdom for Keflings – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. I don’t really know what this game is…an RTS with your Avatars? Interested to find out even if I’m probably late to the multiplayer aspects and all that.

3D Ultra Minigolf 2 – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. Golfing season approaches, but one probably couldn’t tell considering it is SNOWING outside right now. Maybe this will help pass the time.

Costume Quest – Marked down to 600 Microsoft Space Bucks. I’ve heard many great things about this bite-size RPG. It looks freakin’ adorable to say the least. Might feel a little weird to play a Halloween game in April, but that’s not enough to stop me from charging forward.

X-MEN – Marked down by some insane percentage to a mere 200 Microsoft Space Bucks. WELCOME TO DIE!

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Special Edition) – Marked down by 50% to 400 Microsoft Space Bucks. I missed out on an entire generation of point-and-click adventures, and this one seems like a fun time. I like that it can be switched between new art and the original screens. Hope it’s not too confusing since I never played the previous title. Oh well. I’m sure the Internet could help me there.

I normally don’t splurge like this, but honestly, these were some great deals. I’m most excited about Costume Quest and seeing what I’ve missed out on in Monkey Island 2.

If you too are interested some of these titles, you’d better act fast. This foolish day is almost done.

Today just might be Monster Tale’s day

Monster Tale is an adorable Metroidvania game that, if the Internet is to be believed, comes out today on March 22, 2011. A few months back, I originally saw a projected release date of March 1, 2011, and when that day came and went without so much as a Monster Short Story, I tracked down some peeps at Majesco Entertainment and asked them if they could kindly spoil the release date as all the Internet was then saying was some time in March 2011. The nice peeps at Majesco were nice and got back to me, but they could only confirm that the Internet was to be trusted. A couple days later I noticed that both GiantBomb and IGN had updated their respective pages to indicate that today is Monster Tale‘s day.

Alas, I’m not going to rush out to the stores later and see if it’s sitting high and mighty on their NEW RELEASES shelves for several reasons. 1) I busted up my back golfing over the weekend and cannot physically rush anywhere 2) I’m still plugging away at several other Nintendo DS games, namely Pokemon White and Radiant Historia, which both require devotion and time 3) and lastly, the nice peeps over at Majesco Entertainment asked for my mailing information after I emailed them so that they could put my on the request list.

What does that mean? I don’t really know. But maybe they took a look at my blog and liked what they saw and want to send me a copy to review. I’ll wait a few days to see if anything arrives, but if nothing comes by the end of the month, I’ll most likely go grab a copy so that I’m well stocked for my MoCCA trip to New York City the second weekend of April.

Man, looking at some of these screenshots again reminds of just how adorable this game is gonna be. I’m holding out hope that it’s a crazy deep adventure with a cute skin. Guess we’ll find out soon enough…

Prepare for trouble, Pokémon fans, and make it double with White/Black

I bought Pokémon White this past Sunday, the day it was released, and it was much more than an impulse buy. Much, much more. There’s a story to it all, but it’s very sad, and I don’t think I can type it up just yet–or even explain in a way to make sense outside of the clusterstorm that is my processing of life and all that jazz–but yeah, I went out and bought the newest Pokémon game without really completing the previous one enough (HeartGold).

And so far, it’s good and all, but a bit too much like HeartGold in terms of the first hour or so. You start out as a fatherless trainer (boy or girl) who picks one of three special Pokémon to call their own. Once that is decided, it’s off to collect ’em all, conquer gym leaders, and stop an evil corporation from doing something justifiably evil. It doesn’t feel very different except for the battles, which are nicely streamlined and presented with much more pizzazz (not to be confused with pizza). I am pretty stoked about the seasonal changes and what that will do; right now it’s autumn in-game, with some nice leaves blowing in the wind action.

Right, here’s my team of five, all at various levels:

Pretty adorable designs, but I am a little tired of battling Patrats. Are they the new Rattata? I surely hope not. Yeah, the minute I saw Snivy, I had to have him–he’s too smug to be left in the distance. As for his name and Lillipup’s name, well…they seemed fitting. “Are you going to name every Pokémon after Harry Potter characters?” my wife asked over my shoulder. No. Not all. But maybe 75% heh heh.

Still waiting to catch a sixth Pokémon. I personally don’t like using doubles of any pocket monster, even if they are different genders or have unique abilities. I was hoping to add Victini to the party right away, but it seems like I can’t acquire it (genderless Pokémon!) until I’ve collected two gym badges and reached a specific city. Wah. Thankfully, I found a free WiFi access point during my lunch break and downloaded the Liberty Pass, so I’m ready to go.

But yeah, Pokémon White. I’m playing it, as well as looking forward to the game opening up more.

Radiant Historia and history as it should be

According to the GameStop guy, I was the fourth person to pick up a copy of Radiant Historia yesterday. I should’ve asked him how many fratheads came in for their copy of Bulletstorm, but I forgot. Either way, it’s safe to say that this new RPG from Atlus is either going to sell slow, but steadily or fall victim to being too niche for the industry to pay attention to. I mean, my local GameStop didn’t even have boxes out for it yet under the NEW RELEASES section. Good thing I pre-ordered it.

Greg Noe wrote about the game’s first hour, and I’ve played all that and 30 minutes more at this point. Nations are at war, and the world is in clear danger of being turned into a desert. Two time- and space-bending figures, Teo and Lippti, attempt to try again to save it all by putting history’s chances on a soldier named Stocke. Last night, after saving an allied spy, Stocke had to make his first crucial decision, and I’m curious to see how it’ll play out. If it doesn’t go well, that’s okay. The great thing about wielding the White Chronicle is that Stocke has the ability to travel back in time to key events and try things differently.

The first sixty minutes of the game, the time that encompasses the Prologue, is very tutorial, which isn’t a horrible thing, but I am eager to get out there on my own and figure stuff out as I go. A good portion of Radiant Historia‘s beginning is spent talking and pondering, and thankfully the story and writing is strong. Heck, one of the villians even used the word cacophonous, warming the fire burning deeply in my heart. It is also quite refreshing to see a protagonist that is not silent, that is more like Mass Effect‘s Shepard, that is not a bumbling idiot led by his partymates, but rather a leader, a decision-maker.

However, not all is perfect. The sound of Stocke’s footsteps begins to grate, the overuse of cliche JRPG bubble emoticons, and for some reason I find Stocke getting stuck in the strangest of places when running around. Like against NPCs or behind a treasure chest. Something about the collision detection is off. Minor stuff, but irky stuff nonetheless.

Still, the story and battle system have their hooks in me already. I want to desperately know what happens when I side with character X over character Y, and even though the game’s opening only had a few fights to it I can clearly see them really becoming headscratchers. These are not fights one can simply auto-battle their way through. Turn order is vital. Planning and precision are also equally important. That’s like the total opposite of Dragon Quest IX (post-game currently) where all I do in that one is run around, spam the attack button, gain experience and coins, and do it all again–all while watching an episode of The Office or something.

I think I’m really going to love Radiant Historia. Thanks, Mom.