All 5 entries tagged Review

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February 21, 2007

Okami: PS2

4 out of 5 stars

I think this was reviewed in the Boar last week too, so I’ll keep this quite short; Okami is lovely to play and looks amazing. The Japanese brush-painted style works incredibly well and the game looks like nothing else. Capcom has experimented with different visual styles before, but the success of the cel-animation style in games like Auto Modellista was ultimately let down by the gameplay; not so here. I particularly enjoy the battle scenes where Ameratsu has a range of abilities available, not least the brush techniques.

Which brings me to the nagging problem I have with this game; Okami should have been a Wii release. The brush painting idea is novel and works very well, but I can’t help thinking it would be so much more natural and responsive to wield a Wiimote and literally ‘paint’ on the screen, rather than having to twiddle the analogue stick on a DualShock. I can’t see why Capcom developed this for PS2 first (a Wii version is ‘under consideration’); this would have been a killer 3rd-party release for the Wii.

Oh well – it’s a great game on PS2, even if I will be playing it all over again on the right platform.

August 25, 2006

Nintendo DS: Electroplankton

4 out of 5 stars

I blogged a while ago about Electroplankton, saying that it looked like fun. I picked up a used copy last night at Gamestation and after spending an evening on it I'm glad to report that it is indeed fun and very absorbing. I agree with the media reviews; the lack of a goal and the ability to save a formation means it can never be more than a fun distraction, but the 10 species of plankton give enough variety to keep you occupied for as long as you would probably play a conventional game.

There's variation in the appeal and interactivity between each species, but I guess that was the point; everyone will have their favourites. I wasn't able to try the voice–operated species properly, mainly because I had to share the living room with my wife and 'Most Haunted', so my attempts at singing into the DS to make the electroplankton sing back weren't appreciated. I was able to record a great "will you be quiet!" though, and munge it about to a disco beat. :–)

The touch–screen interactivity is very well done, with each species having a different form of control – some you place on the screen and they 'live' for a while, changing their pitch and sound as they grow before eventually dying, others you spin as fast as you can to emit tones and others you send along paths with the stylus – it's all beautifully done. It's not often you hit the sweet spot and get something really lovely to listen to, but when you do the effect is mesmerising, because then you can lightly tweak the results and maintain something musical and magical for several minutes. It's a shame you can't save or record a section of interaction other than by connecting to a headphone socket to another device though.

So, it's a toy, albeit an endearing and nicely executed one. If you like the idea of 'doodling' soundscapes it's certainly worth a go. Wish list for a sequel; more species types, save/record and perhaps a way to mix species on a single screen would be nice.

July 06, 2006

Hybrid – Just for Today

Writing about web page

This early one–track preview of the forthcoming album "I Choose Noise" is now available as a free (registration required) 320Kbps MP3 from the Hybrid and Distinctive Records sites. Fans of Hybrid will be pleased to know that their mix of progressive breaks and electronica with a real live orchestra (in this case the Seattle Session Orchestra) is back, while the welcome return of Kirsty Hawkshaw adds something ethereal. It's reminiscent of Finished Symphony, uplifting yet hard–hitting, with precision production. The album is scheduled for release on 5th September.

June 16, 2006

Nouvelle Vague – Bande a part

4 out of 5 stars
The second album from the French outfit Nouvelle Vague and it's another perfect soundtrack for summer. Their last album achieved something of a cult following, applying a laid–back, bluesy pastiche to a range of post–punk tracks from 70s and 80s. It was inevitable that the project would continue, and on this album again they manage to rework tracks by influential bands like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and Siouxsie into something unique. There's a feeling of innocence mixed with an appropriate degree of irony about it too and despite heavy use of bossa–nova rhythms it never sounds as gimmicky as it should. Some of the material covered seems somewhat darker than the first album but each track is carefully arranged and recorded. Played back to back with the first album on a sunny evening it's great to listen to.

October 22, 2005

Sigur Ros: Takk

5 out of 5 stars
Recommended by Greg, and definitely one to unwind with. This most recent release by Sigur Ros (who hail from deepest Iceland) is lovely. Its an ethereal and immersive album, from the very first bars of the title track as it runs seamlessly into Glosoli and beyond. At some point from here on in you'll drift blissfully away to somewhere nice, only surfacing again as the final track comes to a gentle close. Most of the tracks start with simple piano melodies, slowly build up to a crescendo and then take you slowly back down again, but it's done so well you don't mind the application of the formula over and over again. It's all in Icelandic of course and for all I know they might be singing about it being dark 24 hours a day, but when it sounds this nice who cares?


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