A long time ago in a Toys ‘R Us far far away, there was a PlayStation game I couldn’t live without. Tail Concerto, it was called, and I knew I had to have it. The smiling canine on the cover and the colorful art reminded me of happier times – childhood, and it seemed it could be to my liking. Of course, back then as a child when I actually had the time to play every single game I wanted to, I was lacking the necessary funds. Each sojourn to the toy store that ended in my being allowed to choose a game never happened to culminate in my choosing Tail Concerto, though. Instead I’d choose others, like Fear Effect, or Parasite Eve, because that’s what my favorite magazines had been talking about. I never did pick up Tail Concerto, not until a couple of years ago, when I finally experienced the adorable little game for the first time.
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Tucked away in the back of the show floor was a tiny publisher known as Storm City Games, who beckoned to Chris and I with the promise of comfortable leather seating, bottled water, cans of soda, and delicious snacks. Oh, and there were games, too. As I neared the booth area I consulted with one of the PR people present, later identified as Tyler Ager, who looked positively baffled when I asked him if he was the person in charge of demoing their products.
If Castlevania, Metroid, and that Tamagotchi hidden in your closet (dead because you never fed it even though you promised Mom you’d never let it out of your sight ) had a child, they’d probably name it Monster Tale…and marvel at the fact that two video games and a virtual pet could conceive new life. It’s a colorful, playful tale that incorporates elements of adventure, fantasy, puzzles, and even pet-raising that hearkens back to the days of the aforementioned classics. It doesn’t innovate or re-invent the genre, but it’s adorable, addictive fun that can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
Kingdom Hears continues to capture the imaginations of Square Enix and Disney fans everywhere. Though its lore may be a little convoluted, you certainly can’t argue with the fact that both companies know how to cater to series loyalists. The adventure continues in Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded, another handheld DS entry, this time a remake of a formerly mobile phone (and Japanese)-only installment. It’s obvious that some of the more “hardcore” elements have been stripped away, making this one of the most accessible entries for gamers who may stray away from the RPG genre. And while it isn’t exactly a giant step forward for fans clamoring for more insight on their favorite characters, it’s still an entertaining addition to any Kingdom Hearts fan’s library – even if it is occasionally riddled with issues.
Games made specifically for children often seem to follow a very specific pattern. Either they mimic more popular “core” gaming titles and do this successfully, or they fail miserably. iCarly 2: iJoin the Click for the Wii and DS falls into the latter category. While, surprisingly, the first iCarly videogame outing was a decent offering of quick and easy minigames, the sequel’s attempt at parroting concepts popularized in MySims and Animal Crossing nosedives about as fast as some of the live action show’s jokes. It’s really a shame, especially when the show’s relatively talented cast and techno-ready world would have made for a pretty interesting variation on these themes.