GAME REVIEW: Wii Play Motion

Anyone still lamenting the Nintendo Wii’s lack of quality titles is just wasting their breath at this point, because its audience has been figured out for quite some time now, as evidenced by the onslaught of minigame collections targeted at those who only power up their Wiis when they’re having friends and family over. Though there are quite a few compilations out there to choose from, Nintendo’s own “Wii Play” series is probably one of the best, and the latest installment offers up 12 new games that fully utilize the system’s MotionPlus expansion device. If you don’t have a controller with MotionPlus yet, don’t worry, because “Wii Play Motion” comes with a black controller that has the hardware built in, and it’s actually a lot nicer than the bulky add-on that was first released.

As for the games themselves, it’s pretty hit and miss as you might expect, although there aren’t any that are so terrible that you’ll never want to play them again. Star Shuttle, which puts the player in control of a spaceship that they must then dock onto a space station, is certainly the most frustrating of the bunch due to its steep learning curve, while the stone skipping simulator, Skip Skimmer (say that five times fast), isn’t nearly as fun as the real thing. The rest of the minigames range from cute to addictive, like Cone Zone, an amusing balancing game using ice cream scoops; Veggie Garden, a suped-up version of Whack-a-Mole; Pose Mii Plus, a variation on the Japanese game show “Human Tetris”; and Teeter Target, a cool mash-up combining pinball and marble mazes.

My personal favorites, however, were Spooky Search and Treasure Twirl. The former is probably the most innovative game in the collection and has you searching for ghosts using the Wiimote like a metal detector and then reeling them into a containment unit à la “Ghostbusters.” Treasure Twirl, on the other hand, may look boring at first sight, but it makes great use of the Wiimote as you twist it around like a crank to lower your Mii into the deep sea to hunt for treasure, all while avoiding obstacles like sharks and jellyfish. As usual, each game has different modes and levels that you can unlock as you play through them, and you’ll even earn medals for your performances. The biggest downside is the price. But if you’re in need of a new controller, it’s not a bad investment, because while “Wii Play Motion” isn’t something you’ll likely revisit on a regular basis, it’s a nice addition to any party game rotation.

  

GAME REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

My fondest childhood memory involving video games is beating “Super Mario Bros. 3” with my older brother during a snow day off from school. For many others, it’s probably the first time you sat down to play “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Still a classic to this day, the Nintendo 64 title was one of the system’s few must-have games, and for good reason. Not only did it represent Link’s first foray into a completely 3D environment, but the open world-based adventure featured the kind of narrative depth that you just didn’t see in video games during that time. Though it’s been re-released quite often over the years (perhaps most notably as the Master Quest pre-order bonus packaged alongside “The Wind Waker”), the new 3DS version has been completely remastered with enhanced graphics and some updated gameplay features.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the 3D looks great. Though Nintendo experienced a bit of a backlash from critics with the initial launch lineup of games, “Ocarina of Time” makes excellence use of the effect, particularly in the more open areas of Link’s adventure. The most welcome change, however, is the addition of the touch-screen inventory system, which allows you to easily access items and weapons on the fly and even features a permanent spot for the map and your ocarina. Additionally, you can now use the system’s gyroscope feature in first-person mode to look around while shooting your slingshot or bow. It’s not for everyone, as some people will likely want to avoid being seen spinning around like an idiot in public, but it’s a nice addition that makes playing the game that much more immersive.

Other cool new features include a hint system that allows players to visit Sheikah Stones for prophetic-like visions on what to do next; a Boss Challenge mode where you can fight all eight bosses back-to-back; and, of course, the Master Quest mode for those that want a slightly different experience on their second go-around. But no matter how much it improves on the original game, “Ocarina of Time 3D” doesn’t quite have the same charm as playing it while sitting in front of the TV. Diehard fans and newcomers would be crazy not to pick this up, but everyone else will be perfectly happy with whatever version(s) they already own.

  

Weather Doodle now available for the iPad

The Apple iPad may already come pre-loaded with a pretty handy, no-frills weather app, but for those that want their weather forecasts delivered with a bit of style, Tiny Mammal’s Weather Doodle is just the app for you. Although it’s been available for the iPhone since late 2010, the app has finally made its way onto the iPad, and it’s currently on sale for only $0.99 (normally $1.99) through May 23rd.

Weather enthusiasts won’t find too much to get excited about — using individual weather stations within cities across the world, you can access basic info like current conditions, the 5-day forecast, and wind speeds and humidity — but it’s in the presentation where the app really shines. Instead of just seeing a static image of the weather conditions, Weather Doodle depicts it using animated art, whether it’s the moon glowing, snow falling, or lightning striking from storm clouds. There are three different art themes to choose from (with more on the way), but only one of them comes installed with the app. The other two can be purchased for an additional $0.99 each, which is perhaps its biggest shortcoming. Fortunately, the one theme that is included (titled Paperscape, which looks like a grade-school art project using construction paper) is undoubtedly the best of the bunch.

Still, for as appealing as the simple yet beautiful presentation may be (it certainly makes checking the weather more interesting than usual), the lack of any really cool features prevents Weather Doodle from being a must-have app. It’s a great deal at its current sale price, but at its usual $1.99 price point, there’s just not enough there to make it worthwhile.

  

Bullz-Eye reviews the Nintendo 3DS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re well aware of Hollywood’s recent obsession with 3D… only, it’s not just Hollywood that’s obsessed. The video game industry has been eager to embrace this latest fad as well, with the Sony PlayStation 3 already offering several titles that are compatible with 3D-ready TVs. But if there’s been one steady complaint during this whole 3D craze, it’s that in order to take advantage of the technology, you have to wear a pair of clunky (and expensive) shutter glasses. That’s what makes the Nintendo 3DS so appealing, because it’s not only the first handheld device to offer 3D gaming, but also the first to deliver a completely glasses-free experience.

Though the system isn’t without its flaws, I was overall really impressed with what Nintendo has achieved with their latest handheld system. Head over to Bullz-Eye now to read my full review.

  

Bullz-Eye reviews Orb Audio People’s Choice

Orb Audio review.

If your browsing history looks anything like my own – lots of tech and games – chances are you’ve seen ads for Orb Audio’s line of quality speakers. With such a radical design, I always wondered if they were just a gimmick. After listening to the People’s Choice set that Orb was kind enough to send me, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite its relatively low cost, Orb delivers sound quality I have yet to see matched by small speakers.

For my full review, head over to the Bullz-Eye Gadgets channel.