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by Ethos

Most Surprising Game 2009 – Ethos

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks - LogoThe Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Yup. The trailer that we all laughed at turned into one of the best games the DS has to offer and the strongest Zelda title in a long while. Nothing looked stupider than Link in his crappy conductor costume, but luckily he quickly lost the clothes and started exploring the best cel-shaded Zelda adventure yet with the strongest music in the series in ages.

While Arkham Asylum was a huge surprise for me too, there was always a bit of hype surrounding it. I never thought it would suck, I just never expected to like a batman game. With Spirit Tracks, I truly thought it would be the first Zelda game I would legitimately dislike, but it ended up being one of my favourite titles of the year. I wrote an epic review on the game, so I don’t have that much more to say except that this was a great year of surprises in gaming, and to have a Zelda game top that list is the most pleasant surprise out of all of them.

Runner Up: Batman: Arkham Asylum

What a weird Thursday…

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

It really was, too.

It started when I woke up at the unholy hour of 8:30 a.m. Why would I do such a thing? No reason unless I absolutely had to, and today I had to, because about two months ago I was pulled over and ticketed for driving with three-month expired tags. Pretty stupid, huh? Anyway, today was my scheduled court appearance, since it’s apparently necessary to appear in court for EVERY MINOR DRIVING INFRACTION when you live in Murfreesboro. Seriously, can’t I just send the city a check? Why do I have to go stand in front of a judge just to tell him “yes, I was driving with expired tags.” Makes no damn sense.

My total payment to the city of Murfreesboro was 115.50 USD. My fine was a whopping two dollars, while the goddamned courtroom fee accounted for the other $113.50. And… I think I just answered my own question.

When I returned home I was VERY tired, having woken up a good deal earlier than I’m used to. What better thing to do when suffering from a lack of sleep? Record an episode of MAP, obviously. For all those who are tired of hearing us shout “worst podcast ever,” worry no longer – MAP Episode 43 really is a piece of literal shit. I was asleep for the most of it, and I think the rest of the panel might have been as well.

After that I took a nap. It was a good nap, too.

After that nap, I played some SPIRIT TRACKS! Hooray for theme-week relevance! I still haven’t played enough to offer any impressions, (just beat the first temple) but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, I can tell you that right now. Still not the biggest fan of touch controls. It’s not that I dislike them, I just view them as an over-simplification. Really, though, I can’t express how happy I am just to be playing a Zelda game again, even if it is a handheld title. All it takes is for me to hear that Princess Zelda theme, and I’m hooked again. Gah, me and my shameless fanboyism…

Anyway. I finally ate some food, so now I’m just… really tired again. I think it’s time to attempt a GOOD night’s sleep. ‘Till tomorrow, faithful readers!

Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah!

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

tingleheader

We’re back, folks. This is the bizarre love child of Hey! Look! Listen! and Scatter Storming. Wherein there’s no particular date or set form, but I generally talk about previews, interviews, and scattered news that Riddles doesn’t care about. Given that the title is Nintendo centric, it’s only appropriate that I’m going to talk about Zelda and Final Fantasy on the Wii.

eff eff sea sea sea beeEff Eff Sea Sea: Sea Bee Preview -
That’s FFFCC: CB, or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers. Otherwise known as “The game that’s trying to compete with Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days for dumbest name. Anyway, this is a li’l old, but watch it anyway. It’s from late November, so recent enough. The gameplay actually looks quite intriguing, but I’m upset to hear that they’re doing away with traditional levels. I don’t understand that. It’s one of the most satisfying parts of any game to level up and pour over the resulting enhanced stats. Bozon didn’t really go into detail, but it sounds like the game isn’t a complete Zelda clone. I have to see extensive menu coverage before my worry is eased. But still, I’m more optimistic for this game than ever before.

And now a trailer for the same game -
Official trailers for Crystal Bearers suffer from being way too dramatic. I mean, even if the graphics were PS3 HD caliber, it’d be difficult to take that voice over seriously. I’m also not drawn in by grand sweeping statements that don’t connect me to the characters at all. I mean, it looks like the story segments will be well executed, but the trailer didn’t really help the cause. Especially when the one character-based throwaway gag at the end is the most stupid offensive thing I’ve ever heard. Hey, why not just quote it?

I think we’d both benefit if you went on a diet. No offense.

I mean, sure, I get that they’re trying to make fun of the fact that women are apparently obsessive with diets, and it’s supposed to be tongue and cheek, but it just feels very 1960s to me. Like, “aren’t you supposed to be in the kitchen?”. And not in the making-fun-of-actual-sexists way, but in the we’re-actually-sexists way. Despite all this, I’m still going to give the game a chance. If only by listening to reviews, initially.

The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks - LogoAonuma talks Zelda -
I really do like the way Aonuma’s talking about the next Wii Zelda title. I know that Nintendo’s always way too positive, but it sounds like they know that Twilight Princess suffered from a case of the vapids, which is encouraging. Aonuma’s mind helmed the brilliant likes of Majora’s Mask and Spirit Tracks along with strong titles like Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, so I think he’s entitled to another legitimate chance on the Wii after Twilight Princess. After all, TP didn’t suck, it was just pretty empty.

Aonuma talks more Zelda -
This time on the DS. I was backing the transition of the “toon shaded” Zelda sub-series to the DS from the beginning, and Aonuma talks about more reasons why it was a good idea. Like the last interview there’s not much meat, but for Zelda fans, scraps are like a meal.

Scatter Storming. Issue #013 “Like Father Like Son”

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

ss013Hey there! It’s a new week, a new Scatter Storming, and I actually have things to say! Can you believe it? Last week I was playing Spirit Tracks most of the time and wasn’t allowed to talk about it, so it was difficult for me to come up with anything. But now I’ve beat and reviewed it and given back my pre-release copy, so Riddles can bring relevance to the theme week for the rest of the time. For now? Let’s pick my brain!

IGN’s got a new look! -
And they’re really fucking excited about it. It’s better, yes, but their video page still needs tons of work. You know there’s a problem when I prefer to watch their stuff via YouTube. It’s a new player too, so ugh. Oh well, the site itself is faster and prettier now too. Although I think the new logo is interchangeable with the old one.

In which Ethos starts talking about Looney Tunes and ends up talking about the Wii -
I’ve been watching Looney Tunes recently before going to bed. Brilliant stuff. While it sucks that the hilarious Daffy Duck was used less often during the golden years in favour of the far more uninteresting and unfunny Sylvester, Bugs is always amazing and there is no better timing in anything ever than in the Roadrunner cartoons. Anyway, I wasn’t in the mood for it last night, so I decided to play some video games. How novel! I looked at my impressive array of current gen games and decided that I was in the mood for something old school. I booted up FF7, was enjoying it, but decided I wanted something even more old school, and a very rare craving for FF6 hit me. I say rare because I’ve tried the game multiple times and even got through about half of it once, and I’ve never loved it. However, I always wanted to beat it and give it a fair shake since it receives so much love. Anyhoo, since I just moved, not everything is in perfect order so it took me a bit to find my ol’ PSX Anthology with FF6 on it since it’s my only copy of the game. FFV was in there just fine, but I open up the back end and BLAMMO, it’s disc 1, season 2 of The Office. Great show, to be sure, but it makes for a terrible entry in the Final Fantasy series.

I ended up playing Dragon Quest V for DS.

This is a picture of me taken while I told this story

This is a picture of me taken while I told this story

But the story doesn’t end there folks, no! You thought you were in the clear! No such luck!! I decided to boot up my Wii today to see if the Virtual Console had FF6. It absolutely doesn’t, but I haven’t looked up Wii news by choice in a long time, so I had no idea. Anyhoo, I decided that since the system was already on, I might as well check to see if the Nintendo Channel has any new DS demos.

It didn’t.

Not any interesting ones anyway, but it DID have an update to the channel itself. I have no idea how recent it is, but I was surprised. They now have an option for much higher quality video display, and it looks and streams great. Not a single hiccough in the 7 minute Shigeru Miyamoto interview I watched. It also has really interesting stats about your game library including which games you played the most and for how long. It includes WiiWare and Virtual Console as well. You can watch game videos, see what games people like the most, related titles, and more. I thought it was a genuinely good experience. Now, if only it wasn’t years too late, and if only it fixed the rest of Nintendo’s horrific online service, then we’d be in business.

Final Fantasy XIII got a 39 from Famitsu -
And people care? FF9 got a 38 and it’s better than a girl who swallows. It’s like the YouTube comment I saw today when I watched the IGN review for Link’s Choo Choo Adventure. The guy was actually upset that the game got a 9.3 saying something like “this game was at least a 9.6, IGN’s gone to hell”. Forget that 9.3 is an incredible score, and that Bozon doesn’t hand out scores like that too often. Also, somebody’s minute difference of opinion doesn’t – or shouldn’t – change your opinion. Anyway, I want FFXIII.

Zelda stupidOh yeah, Zelda’s AI -
I didn’t mention this in my review. While the whole “control Zelda as a big armored dude while in the Spirit Tower” was a great mechanic, her AI when you called her to you was incredibly stupid. Like, she’d be almost right beside me, I’d press the “call” button so that she’d follow me and she would literally walk in the opposite direction. It was almost as embarrassing as having Zelda afraid of rats work as a puzzle mechanic.

Look for another Tingle feature -
Remember that one time I did that Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! feature? Yeah, I’m bringing it back this week. Basically when I have previews and interviews to comment on, I’ll bundle them together into that madness. Look forward to it.

That’s it! Long and gorgeous. Just like my penis. The cover and title, once again, has no relevance to the content, I just like that picture of me and my Dad. Later, assholes!

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Review – The Train Doesn’t Suck!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks - Box ArtLIKED:
-The music (when it wasn’t recycled)
-That the gimmicks didn’t turn out to be gimmicky (see: train and spirit flute)
-A chronology that is easy to follow

DISLIKED:
-When the otherwise great controls failed me
-The really really crappy and bad warp system
-The drab looking dungeons (I’m looking at you, Tower of Spirits)

Let’s be completely honest here, folks. I call myself a Zelda fanboy, but I’m not really. I’m an Ocarina of Time and a Majora’s Mask fanboy, sure. But go further back in the series and I haven’t beat a single other game. I can’t get into Link to the Past, the original NES Zelda frustrates me to no end, and while apparently the Oracle games are the best thing since stuffed crust pizza, I always gave up half way through. In fact, I just sort of wrote the handheld Zelda games off in general. I didn’t even notice when Minish Cap came out, and I casually played most of it later with mostly apathy. The DS has changed all that, however. Nintendo has brought the Wind Waker world to their portable wonder and has only improved the sub-series by doing so. For the sake of pure honesty, I don’t remember Phantom Hourglass except for the fact that I loved it and thought it capitalized on the potential Wind Waker set up.

But that’s a whole bunch of text without mentioning the game of honour once. So how is Spirit Tracks? Did the cartoony Link go too far with trying new things? As someone who cringed with the world the first time I saw Link ride on the screen in a ridiculous conductor outfit, I can happily say that this is easily the best the cel-shaded Link has ever been.

Don't mess with the best, 'cause the best don't mess.

Don't mess with the best, 'cause the best don't mess.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the Wind Waker sub-series is that the games are completely transparent in their chronology. This game does feature a new Link, yes, but the connections to Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass are everywhere and intended to be so. Spirit Tracks takes place 100 years after Phantom Hourglass on new land that has been discovered in that time. Tetra and Link discovered it and named it Hyrule in honour of the ancient land below the sea. Soon after its discovery, an evil force known as the Demon King and the spirits of good had some crazy battle that ended with the Demon King suppressed – not defeated – by the good guys by means of some magical tower. This tower acts as the centre hub for the game world. Those who played Phantom Hourglass will be familiar with how the next part plays out.

Essentially the game takes on the predictable structure of: Spirit Tower section, explore newly unlocked part of world, beat temple, repeat. Luckily, returning to the Spirit Tower isn’t quite the same annoying affair it was in Phantom Hourglass. Instead of being forced to race through the same sections time after time against the clock, Spirit Tracks lets you skip all the previous floors and uses good – and occasionally quite difficult – level design to add challenge to the experience. This eliminates almost all of the gimmicky feeling that the structure had in the previous DS installment.

Speaking of gimmicky, let’s talk about the train. Since Spirit Tracks mostly takes place on solid land instead of an expansive ocean, the boat is gone. No more sailing, not even for a single meter. Its replacement is the controversial train. My initial concerns were largely tied to the belief that it would be too restrictive. This is definitely not the case. Not only are there a large and always growing number of branching paths, but when it comes down to it, even in Phantom Hourglass you would really just draw a path from Point A to Point B. Link wasn’t able to swim around in the ocean just like he can’t run around the overworld by foot. In fact, there are so many paths that riding around in the train even has a great sense of exploration. Unexpected, perhaps, but undoubtedly true. Not just that, but there’s tons to do as an engineer. You can blast enemies, change speeds and directions on the fly, hail down travelling hot air balloon shops, capture bunnies, and even just shoot bombs at rocks. The experience is rich, fun, and even rewarding. Unfortunately it’s far from perfect. Changing directions is possible, but a pain in the ass, and sometimes the overall experience is just a little boring even with all the frills. To top off the list of negatives while travelling, Spirit Tracks has by far the most obtuse and unhelpful warp system out of any Zelda game to date. Its existence is better than nothing, but not by much.

mini bossBut back to the upside. Back are the touch controls from Phantom Hourglass, and while not everybody loved them, I’ve definitely been an advocate from the start. Link and his bizarre arsenal of weaponry control like an intuitive dream most of the time, and the touch screen allows for puzzles that just wouldn’t be possible on another system. More importantly, the weapons and items are a blast to use. You’ll see classics like the boomerang and the bow and arrow, but that’s where the familiarity will stop. Zelda is a series that continuously delivers by offering unique and fun items and weapons, and Spirit Tracks is no exception. However, for all the praise, touch controls do have their weaknesses. It might be impeccably precise to draw the path for a boomerang, but try to control Link in a tight area surrounded by enemies and lava? Not so precise anymore. It won’t happen too often, but there will be moments that you will likely want to scream in frustration because Link auto-jumped in the lava again when you really just wanted him to hit a switch. Again, it’s not common but it’s worth mentioning.

Speaking of frustration, Spirit Tracks gets to be one of the more difficult Zelda games in recent memory. I am a bit of a pro at Zelda dungeons, usually. I’ll blast through a complicated puzzle that even some Zelda veterans will be stumped at, but by the end of Spirit Tracks, I had to give more than just a few moments to solve the stuff it was throwing at me. I wouldn’t categorize the game as a terribly difficult one overall, but by recent Zelda standards, it definitely grows to be a toughie. Obviously depending on your preference, this will either bring you great joy or great anguish. Personally, I was generally pleased with the challenge.

Writing this review, I’m beginning to realize just how massive Spirit Tracks is. I tend to write brief reviews, and this is a novel before I’ve said half the things I want to. So let me try and be concise when describing the last things that truly stood out to me about Link’s latest adventure.

First off, the music was an absolute treat. Despite some very disappointing repeat tracks in the dungeons, the music is layered, rich, inspired, and easily the best to come out of the series since the N64 era. Of particular note are the duets with the sages that are scattered throughout the game. You play a form of pan flute by blowing into the microphone – which feels surprisingly fantastic instead of gimmicky – in response to the music a sage will play for you. The result is a sense of magic and wonder that has been notably lacking in the Zelda franchise of late.

D'awww

D'awww

Next are the graphics. Still the best on the handheld, only rivaled by the latest Kingdom Hearts effort. Close-ups are still a little ugly, and there can be some pretty nasty slow-down and pop-in, but overall the game is very easy on the eyes, especially during the rare but extremely beautiful areas that take up both the top and bottom screens.

Speaking of, the boss battles are a complete blast, true to form. I personally preferred the epic and very clever battles presented in Phantom Hourglass, but Spirit Tracks offers nothing disappointing, if not a little more safe. Although the unique train boss battles are worth mentioning as a welcome and intense addition.

Finally, the game is deceptively robust. I spent a lot time beating the main quest and dabbled here and there in some side quests. It’s obvious that there is much more to unlock even though I got to the end credits. The coolest part about a lot of the sidequests is that beating them actually unlocks more “spirit tracks” and therefore more of the world to explore. It’s a really cool mechanic that encourages side questing in a new way.

I would somehow love to say even more about this surprisingly strong title, but I suppose I should wrap things up. It’s cool to see Nintendo continue to grow their franchise in new ways. Spirit Tracks is obviously trying to build a new Zelda mythos and I’m all for it. It’s refreshing to see the start of new characters and legends forming in a land with a familiar name.

Ultimately Spirit Tracks suffers from a predictable structure, graphical slowdown, occasionally sexist game mechanics, and a train that – while usually awesome – can also be boring and hard to use to quickly get to specific places. Also the middle dungeon, while well designed, still takes up a lot of the game and even the best puzzles don’t save it from feeling tired by the end. However, Spirit Tracks succeeds by telling a charming tale accompanied by a robust world, fantastic music (when it’s original), great controls, and a much needed sense of magic. Wind Waker started the trend of proving that Zelda works and even thrives in new environments, and Spirit Tracks just furthers the cause. Highly recommended.

spiritTracks02

The December 7 Release Date Was a Lie

Monday, December 7th, 2009

It’s December 7, and where is my copy of Spirit Tracks? Not at GameStop, that’s where.

If my memory serves me right, Nintendo does this frequently – announcing ship dates as release dates. And every single time a Nintendo game I care about is released, I stupidly hope that THIS time, things will be different. And without fail, I am disappointed.

As the years go on, I become more and more convinced that they are nothing but a pure and unadulterated evil.

But while I may be Spirit Tracks-less, I’ve managed to keep myself entertained, thanks to Spike TV and its back-to-back airing of Kill Bill volumes 1 and 2. I’ve never seen them before, and I missed the first hour or so of Volume 1. Now I’m trying my best to make sense of Volume 2.

Also, the frequent commercials for the upcoming Spike Videogame Awards are making me wonder if I should DVR them this year. I’ve never paid attention to them before in my life, simply because I’ve never viewed them (or any videogame award show) as terribly relevant.

Anyway. Perhaps some Wind Waker later. It’s my day off, I have to fill it with as much nothing as possible. I leave you with this for now:

Damn right you are.

Damn right you are.

Welcome to Link’s Choo-Choo Week

Monday, December 7th, 2009
Thanks again to Megatonik

Thanks again to Megatonik

Yes, this is essentially Spirit Tracks Week, but we decided to be hilarious and call it Link’s Choo-Choo Week. Aren’t we adorable?

Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical. Welcome to the second Zelda-themed week in a row, Ladies and Gents. In case you’ve forgotten who I am, (which is entirely possible given how scarce I was last week) my name is Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I’m actually pretty excited about the impending release of Spirit Tracks.

Yes, I know I’ve been skeptical in the past, but for a variety of reasons (some that I can’t divulge) I’m a lot more optimistic now. I’m still not the biggest fan of the stylus controls introduced in Phantom Hourglass, but I don’t hate them either.

So stay tuned, faithful readers, and we’ll see where these SPIRIT TRACKS take us. Or… something. Blah. Just insert a more sensible pun yourself.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

HLLfinal

It would appear we have something of a slow week on our hands at Riddlethos.com, no doubt spilling over from our slow weekend. Somewhat disappointing, perhaps, but what can be done? I’ve been trying my best to finish Assassin’s Creed II, but I can’t seem to stay on track. The temptation to run around and entertain yourself with the game’s ENDLESS side-missions is too great! I don’t know how Nate Liles found the time to beat it already. Ethos? He doesn’t even play videogames.

In any case, it’s time to shake things up a little around here. Roll film!

ac2screen2Assassin’s Creed II Sells Almost Two Million

I am hardly the only one faffing about in Ubisoft’s critically acclaimed actioner. The company announced today that in one week, Assassin’s Creed II sold over 1.6 million copies. That’s a 32 percent increase over first-week sales of the original Assassin’s Creed, which launched back in November of 2007.

For the hell of it, Ubisoft also re-iterated the fact that the original Assassin’s Creed remains the fastest-selling new videogame property of all time. Not sure why that’s relevant now, but hey, they’re entitled to some horn-blowing, I guess. Check out my impressions of Assassin’s Creed II right here, and check back SOMETIME this week for a full review. (IGN).

Diablo III Won’t See the Light in 2010diabloIII

No, I didn’t mean 2009, I meant 2010. The sad fact of the matter is that if you’re a Diablo fan, you’ll be waiting a long damn time for the third installment.

“We always announce all of our games too early,” said Blizzard’s executive president of game design Rob Pardo. “We realize that and go, ‘You know what? Next time we’re not going to do that.’ And then we always fail at that. But I’d rather fail at that than fail at making the game great. I think it’s safe to say that, yeah, [Diablo III] is not going to be out next year.”

Bummer. I actually spent a decent amount of time with the original Diablo. If it was anything but a PC game, I might have finished it. Diablo II I installed and never played. As for Diablo III? Not sure if it’s a planned purchase or not. Sounds like I have plenty of time to think about it, though. (1UP).

bayonettaBayonetta Demo Coming December 3

Bayonetta looks like something that just screams to be tried firsthand, and we lucky residents of North America will be able to do just that on December 3. The demo will be released on both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and will likely be unchanged from its Japanese counterpart. The PSN Demo gives players access to the Tutorial and Angel’s Metropolis levels, while the Xbox Live demo will have those two plus the Falling Clock Tower level.

Sounds like favoritism, now doesn’t it? But then, it shouldn’t be too surprising, since the PS3 version has already been universally lambasted for looking and running decidedly shittier than the Xbox 360 version. Sega supposedly plans to release a patch that will, at the very least, address the PS3 version’s long load times. Regardless, it sounds like this is one multiplatform game that I’ll be purchasing for the Xbox 360. Bayonetta will be released in North American and Europe on January 5. (1UP).

Microsoft Faces Possible Class-Action Lawsuit over XBL Bansxbox_live_original

Well, this is rich. You’ve probably caught wind of the massive Microsoft banhammer that came down on Xbox Live a few weeks ago. Well, needless to say, it pissed a lot of people off, and it’s even caught the attention of a law firm.  Abington IP claims that they’re considering filing a class-action suite against Microsoft, and they’re attempting to rally all those who were banned to their cause. What legal feet do they have to stand on? None, as far as I can see, but Abington IP claims that Microsoft “conveniently timed the Xbox console ban to coincide with the release of the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game and less than two months after the release of the very popular Halo: ODST game.”

The idea, in case you’re confused, is that Microsoft intentionally banned a lot of people around a time when many, many gamers would want an Xbox Live Subscription – and if you’ve been freshly banned, the only choice you have is to buy another one.

What does Microsoft think of it? Not a whole lot, as it were:

“Piracy is illegal and modifying an Xbox 360 is a violation of the Xbox Live Terms of Use,” a spokesperson said to Financial Post  ”Microsoft is well within its legal rights to ban these users from Xbox Live.”

Yeah, that’s more or less how it sounds to me. I doubt we’ll see this one go anywhere, frankly. (Financial Post, via 1UP).

Watch the Introductory Scene of Spirit Tracks

Egads! Spoilers! Nah, it really doesn’t spoil a whole lot, but it’s undeniably Zelda. Cookie-cutter-ish and simplistic as it may be, this video actually brought back some fond, Zelda-related feelings of magic and… warmth. Anyway. Watch the video below if you so desire.

I Don’t Understand This Video, so I’m Hoping You Will

Yeah.

Anyways… um. Yeah.

And that’s all for tonight, ladies and gents! Hope you enjoyed yourself, and please, someone go become a fan of our Facebook page. We only need one more fan to hit 100, and it’s just killing me that we haven’t gotten it yet. If you haven’t already, then just help a brother out and… go become a fan.

If you have a Facebook, that is.

And if you don’t have a Facebook, get one, and then become a fan. Because seriously, who doesn’t have Facebook these days?

Scatter Storming. Issue #010 “10th Issue Extravaganza!!!”

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

ss010I’ll admit, this cover is pretty terrible even by my standards. Still! Let’s not focus on the bad because today we have reason to celebrate! For some disgusting and twisted reason, I have been able to churn out 10 of these ridiculous nonsense-filled bizarre-fests on a surprisingly timely schedule. So let’s continue into this triumphant issue with our heads high, our brains scattered, and our expectations low!

I wanna play more Mario Bros -
It’s the truth! I gotta say, that game is massively addicting. Even Nate Liles agrees. Take our text conversation from earlier today for example:

Nate Liles: NSMB is freaking amazing.
Ethos: Told ya! Non-stop awesomeness!
Nate Liles: AC2 is good too.
Ethos: So I hear. I don’t doubt it’s great, I’m just not interested.
Nate Liles: Wow. That’s rude. Go edit Kim Kardashian’s butt into my bedroom
Ethos: I’m on it.
Nate Liles: God, I hope so! She is a cutie with a booty

Perhaps that whole thing wasn’t relevant, but then again everything is relevant when Nate Liles is involved.

It’s now a day later! -
This is also true! I wrote that intro and first story yesterday. Since then, I’ve actually “beat” New Super Mario Bros Wii, but there are many levels I haven’t even played yet, and lots of star coins to collect. Hell, I might even write my first Riddlethos review for the mother fucker.

Review Controversy -
Continuing in that stream of thought, how would you guys like to see my reviews formatted? Riddlethos currently has a policy against numerical scores on reviews, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to necessarily not have a score of some sort. Riddles has suggested a Ethometer of sorts. Thoughts?

Apparently Magna Carta 2 doesn’t suck -
I was skimmin’ ye olde RPGamer today and saw the review for Magna Carta 2. I just needed a reason to give this a try, and now I have it. I need to beat Dragon Age so I can move on. I’ll take a hack at it tonight!

I got some art assets I never showed you kids -
When I did that Zelda preview last week, I was later given access to some artwork. Most of it is floating around somewhere, but is it floating around WITH PATENTED ETHOS MS PAINT COMMENTARY?! I didn’t think so! So in honour of this, the 10th Issue Extravaganza, I bring you:

A Bunch Of Art Screens With Stupid Writing On It, And By A Bunch, I Mean Just Four.

Spirit Tracks01
Argh, I’m thrilled and all that Zelda gets to join in the fun, I’m just prepping myself for a lot of cringe worthy stereotypes.

Spirit Tracks02
Seriously, I just need to leave this one alone.

Spirit Tracks03
ZOH MY GOD, SPOILERZ.

Spirit Tracks04
Yup, no words.

That’s it! I had a few more screens, but I need to get to work, and this issue is already late enough. Look forward to many, many more beautiful Scatter Stormings!

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Preview

Friday, November 13th, 2009

I was lucky enough to try out two Nintendo games before their release this week. One was obviously New Super Mario Bros Wii as indicated by my awesome preview below. The other was the direct sequel to Phantom Hourglass (which was the direct sequel to Wind Waker, can you believe it?), Spirit Tracks. I didn’t get to play it for quite as long as Mario, but I played enough to feel confident in giving you guys a small preview. Let’s get to it.

spirit_tracks_previewThe Expected
It, graphically, looks like Phantom Hourglass. Which – also like PH – looks surprisingly better running on the DS than on video or screens on the internet. The game also had the same Wind Waker brand of cutesy gag humour that actually had me chuckling a bit. While some people complained about the all-touch controls of the first DS Zelda, it’s difficult to deny that they are absolutely the best touch controls on the DS. Spirit Tracks is no different. It feels fast, intuitive, and fun. The set-up is also the same: go to an annoying repeat dungeon in the middle of the map to unlock more sections of the world map. At least it looks like the annoying repeat dungeon might have measures to make it less annoying this time around. I’m not holding my breath for that yet, though. Just speculation based on some things I saw.

The Unexpected
How quickly I was hooked. Like the entire universe, I was extremely skeptical of this title the first time it was shown. Link on a train? Really? But seeing the world, hearing the music, exploring the puzzles, and realizing that Link wouldn’t be in that ridiculous conductor outfit, I instantly started craving more. Because this is the first “cartoon” Zelda game to take place on a major land mass, I realized that I was really excited to see what Nintendo did with it. This “New Hyrule” is only 100 years old and so there’s the opportunity to show the beginnings of new cultures and maybe even the revival of ancient ones. The music seemed to be a great mix of the Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass style combined with hints of a brand new style. So while at first this game looked to be a disappointment, I now believe it has the potential to be the best of the Cel-shaded Zeldas.

Surprisingly, I didn't draw this

Surprisingly, I didn't draw this

The Mixed
The train. It’s definitely better than I originally feared. There are many branching paths, and to be honest, it’s not like you had to turn all that often in the boat, anyway. You can control speed, scare animals out of your path, and I’m more than sure that there’ll be upgrades to keep the experience fresh. That being said, I can’t imagine that it won’t get a little tiring. Also, going backwards is a bitch, and no matter how smooth the train experience, I’d still rather be on a horse. Spirit Tracks also marks the return of a musical instrument, which I love. However, it’s a set of wind pipes that will require you to literally blow into your DS to work. It strikes me as lame and gimmicky. Still, I didn’t really get a chance to test it out, and since the rest of the game has surprised me, I’m open to letting my mind be changed.

The Outlook
Strong. Just a few weeks ago, Riddles and I were talking about how we were feeling apathetic toward the title even though we’re both massive fanboys. But Nintendo has lured me in with their unbeatably tight game design and the promise of entirely new Hyrule lore. The train thing is still ultimately ridiculous, but like Kingdom Hearts: Dumb Name, there’s a place to relentless poke fun at a great game. These few weeks look to ease a little bit of the pain Nintendo has caused by not releasing any of their first party gold in ages.
I couldn’t have done better than the folks at MEGATONik with that hilarious picture above, so thanks to them for drawing the perfect picture for me to steal.