Review: Wiffle Ball (seriously)

Reviewing games is a true double-edged sword. Just last week I had Pokemon show up on my doorstep; a full week before the official release. Unfortunately, two days later, Wiffle Ball did the same. Many of us have fond memories of playing wiffle ball in the backyard with friends. With such awesome rules as “ghost runners”, beaning the base runner causes an out, and hitting the ball over the fence is an out instead of a home run (who wants to jump the fence into old man McGurney’s yard anyway?), wiffle ball was one of the best ways to wittle away summer vacation time. On the DS, however, the wiffle experience is kind of a punishment. Actually, I undersold it, it’s like a jab in the face with a hot poker. I’d rather watch the title screen for an hour than to actually play the thing. Here’s the rundown:

Graphics: Terrible
Sound: Grating
Gameplay: Painful
Replay Value: Retardiculously Low

So, unless you hate yourself, gaming, and/or freedom, avoid Wiffle Ball like you would your wife’s senile grandma when she starts handing out sloppy kisses. Don’t destroy your fond childhood memories.

Review: Pokemon Pearl

Well, it’s not so much a review that I’m posting here as much as my feelings on the new Pokemon releases as a whole. As a 26 yr. old guy, I’m supposed to recognize that Pokemon is for kids and move on to more “mature” gaming experiences, right? After a few minutes with the newest Pokemon release, however, I find that the series still provides one of the deepest and most satisfying RPG experiences on either a console or a handheld. The game hearkens back to an older time when players expected long periods of level grinding, a semi-defined path, and a formula that doesn’t change too much from start to finish.

My time with Pokemon Pearl has been great; but it seems that Game Freak is starting to get a bit eco-friendly and engaging in some intense recycling efforts. While there are plenty of new Pokemon, the adventure is still mostly more of what we’ve seen in the past few Pokemon releases. I’m not asking for the series to be overhauled, but it’s time to update many aspects of the adventure.

Here are my “second opinion” comments from AMN’s official Pokemon Diamond and Pearl review.

At the risk of infuriating fans and supporters across the globe, I think it’s time we start to recognize that the Pokemon series is starting to enter the “milked” category. Sure, Diamond and Pearl are excellent games, but as the series makes its appearance on a third handheld (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS), it’s not unfair to expect greater leaps forward in the genre. Game Freak put out a high quality product, I don’t want anybody to get the impression that they haven’t. There are just a few missed opportunities I see with Diamond and Pearl. First of all, the battle system, while highly entertaining, needs to be sped up a lot. In a game that relies on level grinding and getting into a lot of encounters, the series could benefit from a much quicker pace during battles. Secondly, the creativity is starting to wane in the naming and overall design of the new Pokemon. While there are some real gems, most of the designs feel kinda half-hearted in nature. I’d rather see ten really interesting new Pokemon than many more that are somewhat forgettable. These two aspects would be my biggest gripes with the newest pair of Pokemon packages.

On the other hand, the series is still a blast. Making your way through the Sinnoh Region is great fun, and there are some new things to experience (like snowy areas and online play). I hope I’m not coming across as overly negative, because I really enjoyed Pokemon Pearl, and I don’t find myself feeling like it’s time to move on yet. There’s no reason to think that I won’t be searching out battles for many months to come, thanks to online play. While small in nature, the graphical upgrade is appreciable, as is the touch interface. Whether you’re a long-time “Pokefreak” or a first-timer, I think you’ll find that Diamond and Pearl are enjoyable RPG adventures worthy of your time and money. I only hope that when the next pair comes around, that we can see a more streamlined battle system and a huge innovation or two added into the mix.

I still encourage anybody out there to pick the game up.

So there you have it. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are excellent games. Despite the heavily recycled nature of the game, it’s still something that every RPG fan should experience.