Archive for the 'Nintendo DS releases' Category

Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box

I finally managed to disattach myself from my PSP long enough to write another post!

Stuff Spoon is looking forward to: Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box (Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box in Japan), which will be released in Europe on September 25.

I was a huge fan of the first release in the series, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and have been eagerly anticipating its follow-up ever since I finished the first game. The series has been popular enough in Japan to spawn 4 titles to date since its introduction in 2007, but sadly Europe is lagging behind a little at a meagre 2 titles.

So what is it about the game that I enjoyed so much? Well, I’d have to start with its cute 2D visuals and charming background music, quickly moving on to the interesting and original storyline (complete with unexpected ending!) and from there to the scores of puzzles which range from almost mindlessly simple to frustratingly difficult. The game came with a 3-hint system based on a limited amount of hint coins (to be easily used and abused if combined with the save feature!), and it had a neat little download feature with which it is possible to download even more puzzles. It even had some fully-voiced cutscenes to go with it.

It’s not a typical puzzle game, it’s not a typical whodunnit, and it’s certainly no run-off-the-mill adventure game. The interesting blend of several types of games is exactly what made part 1 so enjoyable, and I for one am looking forward to part 2!

Final Fantasy IV DS

Some games just don’t die. If a game is part of the Final Fantasy franchise, it has a good chance of living forever, or at the very least it will be remade over and over again. (No, this is not me being a cynic. This is me sending Square a not-so-subtle hint to get working on an FFVII remake already.)

Final Fantasy IV is one of the games that Square seems to enjoy reinventing. It was first released in 1991 for the SNES, and after 6 years found itself remade for the PlayStation. Square released another remake of the game in 2002 for the WonderSwan Color (I’m not making this thing up!), and got so into the remake-business that the GameBoy Advance got its own version in 2005.

The funny thing is that although it was released in Japan as IV, it was only the second game in the franchise to be released in the US. Just to keep things simple it was originally released there as Final Fantasy II (not to be confused with the actual Final Fantasy II, of course) and this shuffling of the numbers there continued down the line.

Imagine the confusion when Final Fantasy VII came out and they decided not to re-number it.

The game was never released in Europe prior to its 2005 GBA incarnation, so for people like me a whole new world spread out before us when it finally came ashore in Europe on June 6, 2006. I was one of those geeks who actually marked the date on her calendar. Yes. Really.

Interestingly enough just a simple GBA release wasn’t enough for Square. A Nintendo DS version came out in Japan late in 2007, and eventually made its way to the USA and Europe in 2008. Unlike its GBA predecessor, this version got a complete overhaul to make it shiny.

For example, the 2D graphics were abandoned entirely in favour of a more 3D setting. If you’ve played the DS remake of Final Fantasy III (the Japanese III, not the initial US III, which was actually FFVI) you’ll have a good idea of what FFIV now looks like. Apparently Square loved the style so much that they decided to use it again for IV. Fans of the franchise are still wondering WHY?!

Don’t get me wrong, the DS release has some cool stuff to offer. The story was fleshed out with content left out of earlier versions. This might not sound so thrilling, but it really added to the overall fun and enjoyment of the game. Some of the cutscenes even come fully voiced in this remake, which is not something you’ll find in a lot of DS releases. Even the English translation was given a clean-up and a fair number of lines were given a more accurate translation.

Ironically enough, the bard really was spoony. Spot on.

So why am I writing this now, 2 months after the latest EU release of this incarnation of the game? FFIV is in fact one of my favourite games in the franchise, and if you still haven’t played it, I really recommend you pick it up- if only so you’ll be among those who know what game gave birth to the best line ever.

Fleeting fancies

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