SpongeBob’s Boating Bash Review

SpongeBob – surely everyone’s heard of him. The animated series has enjoyed huge success in the long years of their existence, and like with most other popular TV shows, that success lead to the creation of an entire merchandise, including over a dozen video games of all genres (and qualities). SpongeBob’s Boating Bash is yet another game in the SpongeBob line, this time featuring a racing theme.

Gameplay

In SpongeBob’s Boating Bash, you get to play as nine different characters from the series, including Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, and of course SpongeBob himself. There’s even a simple backstory to the game, involving SpongeBob attempting to get his driver’s license, but ultimately failing as he picked the wrong school. All of the characters have been represented true to their originals, and each comes with its own uniquely-designed car.

The game is very hectic and fast-paced, with traditional elements from arcade racing games. The AI has been developed especially well, always offering you a challenge even on the easier modes of play (which we’re not sure is that good of a thing, actually). If you’re playing on the Wii, you can use the Steering Wheel controller with SpongeBob’s Boating Bash, as it’s fully supported and compatible.

Graphics and System Requirements

We wouldn’t call SpongeBob’s Boating Bash exactly spectacular in its graphics – it’s a common problem for games designed after cartoon shows to look odd and slightly distorted, as animated characters never truly fit in a 3D environment, no matter how much the developers may try. This is valid for this title as well, though it’s also evident that the devs have been sweating hard over bringing the characters as close as possible to the originals.

The Nintendo DS version has been reported for having some odd issues such as long loading times, but nothing game-breaking or too serious, so it shouldn’t deter you from trying it out in any case. The artistic style of the levels is varied enough and each can be instantly recognized if you’ve played the game for a few times.

Other

There’s a multiplayer component to SpongeBob’s Boating Bash, but at the beginning you won’t have access to absolutely everything – you’ll have to complete the singleplayer campaign fully before every option is made available to you for online play. It shouldn’t take you that long though, and if you’re having problems with the AI you can always “cheat” and turn down the difficulty (which, as we mentioned above, does surprisingly little in this game, but the difference is still noticeable).

Conclusion

Fans of SpongeBob will either love this, or choose to ignore it given the abundance of SpongeBob-branded games in recent times. Even if you’re not a follower of the franchise though, the game should still give you a few entertaining hours as a racer title.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Review

The Ace Attorney series by Capcom has managed to gather quite a respectable fanbase, and the newest one – counting at number five – “Miles Edgeworth” – has so far lived up to the success of its predecessors. It doesn’t directly follow the story from where the previous game left off as you might expect though – actually, it reveals what happened between the third game, “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations” and the fourth, “Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney”.

Gameplay

The player controls the character of Miles Edgeworth, and the game is played similarly to the others in the series – it’s a rather simplistic adventure with a point-and-click interface, where you have to go around the various scenes, collect items, and figure out how to use them in combination with other items. When investigating crimes, you have to figure out the three basic aspects between them – suspect, method of execution and the motive behind it. The dialog is very well-written and varies depending on your choices – and the characters are developed quite well, too.

The cross-examination from the previous games is gone – there are now “rebuttal” phases, which will be combined with the regular investigation phases for every crime you’re solving, forcing you to think differently in both situations. Don’t worry though, rebuttals aren’t that different from how cross-examinations worked, and in them you’ll simply have to talk to various characters in a direct manner, presenting them with the results of your work on the investigation so far. If you’re good enough and have collected sufficient evidence for the crime, you may be able to get out a confession early on – though it takes some practice and experience to get that right.

Graphics and System Requirements

For an adventure, AAI:ME’s graphics are more or less fine – they’re nothing outstanding, but fans of Japanese art will surely enjoy the various scenes, especially some of the dialog parts. In some cases, to give an extra dramatic edge to a scene, the game may use still images instead of the standard animation, and we’d say it works out quite nicely to set the overall atmosphere for those special scenes.

For an NDS game, it pulls off great framerates, and despite the relatively small screens, you should be able to see plenty of detail in all of the scenes you’ll be exploring.

Other

The game suffers from some control difficulties, and you may have to get used to the odd control scheme if you’re a newcomer to the series. Using the touchscreen to move the character around is definitely an art of its own, but once you’ve gotten used to it, you shouldn’t feel so negative about the choice of controls.

Conclusion

The new installment in the Ace Attorney series is an absolute gem in every aspect – a varied game with enough dialog to keep you thinking, and a learning curve that gradually rises, enough to let you learn smoothly.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review

The Colin McRae series of video games has enjoyed tremendous popularity while it was active, releasing multiple games that have all been huge hits with racing fans. After the tragic death of Colin McRae himself though, the series was halted for a while and there were no new games on the market with his name. Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is the first to be released since then, and many fans were wondering what to expect after the pause, and whether the series has managed to retain its integrity.

Gameplay

The new Colin McRae puts an equal focus on multiplayer as well as singleplayer, and you can play all of the available game modes against computer-controlled opponents, or real live humans online. The feeling of the driving, and the overall level of immersion in the game, have been tremendously improved – the game’s powered by an all-new engine that can handle physics very realistically, so expect to be able to perform various real-life stunts that were previously not very easy to do due to limitations of the game’s technology.

Some of you will surely involve one of the new racing modes, Raid, which puts players behind the wheels of some very impressive-looking and quite largely sized machines, on medium-long races that will test your skills in some more unforgiving environments. There are also several extra game modes, and the overall replay value is very high and the game has a lot of potential for entertaining you.

Graphics and System Requirements

The new engine does its job perfectly when it comes to pleasing your eyes – you’ll see lots of effects, realistic collisions between the vehicles, and impressive representation of weather effects. The engine is especially capable when it comes to drawing detail over distance, as you’ll be able to see some very finely detailed elements of your surroundings even at longer ranges.

As you’re probably guessing though, this does come with its price – you won’t get to enjoy the new Colin McRae if you’re running on an old machine. Even the minimum requirements will leave some disappointed, so those of you who’re planning on playing it on the PC should prepare themselves with at least a Radeon HD 5750, or Nvidia’s equivalent which would be anything above their GeForce 400 series.

Other

The mobile versions of the game are somewhat stripped down as you might expect, but they still replicate the actual game quite closely. We were very impressed by the graphics the PSP version offers, as it managed to bring some very good-looking eye candy on the screen without compromising framerates in any way (though the loading times were somewhat longer than usual)

Conclusion

Rally fans have been waiting for this for quite a while – and if you’re one of them, then you should already be on your way to getting your hands on the new Colin McRae: Dirt 2 – it’s definitely worth every penny.