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Family Play Madden offense controls

Most gamers that play sports games, either casually or hardcore, have certainly run into the problem of attempting to explain complex controls to a friend – which usually results in your friend QB scrambling or shooting half court jumpers each time he or she gets the ball. But the new Family Play feature, which is debuting in this year’s Wii versions of Madden 08, NBA Live 08 and FIFA 08, is aiming to make it easier for youngsters or game novices to jump in and play against friends and family who would otherwise wipe the floor with the competition.

When playing, you can choose either Advanced or Family Play. The former allows you to make use of both the Wiimote and Nunchuk, while the latter assists the player in-game and requires them to use only the Wiimote. Family Play users will control only the key actions, like shooting, passing, throwing, etc. And by simply plugging in a Nunchuk, someone playing with the Family Play style can easily try out Advanced mode.

This sounds like a truly fantastic idea – sports games have a huge market, especially Madden, and by opening the floodgates and allowing for an otherwise complicated game to be played by most anyone, EA Sports is poised to make quite a bit more money, while also allowing gamers to begin experiencing a new genre.

Gallery: EA Sports Family Play Makes It Easier To Play Madden, NBA Live, And FIFA


Soltrio Solitaire screenshot

Typically when I download an Xbox Live Arcade game, I know right away whether or not it’s something that I’ll play for three minutes and delete, or if it’s something that’ll sit on my hard drive awaiting me to plunk down however many Microsoft Points it costs to own it. Soltrio Solitaire is one of those games I expected to delete right away. I mean, it’s just solitaire. Albeit, 18 different kinds of solitaire, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is something I’ve played enough of as I waste time on my computer. So I played a game of regular old Solitaire (which is apparently called Klondike – who knew?) and enjoyed it, and decided to try another type. Then I noticed that I was playing over and over and over. I quickly snatched up the full version so that I could attempt to climb the leaderboards and try out some of the game’s other features.

After a ridiculous number of games played (including time spent willingly playing this over the Halo 3 beta), I can safely say that if you’re a fan of card games, you should pick up Soltrio. Casual fans with short attention spans or graphic whores need look elsewhere – this is clearly aimed and successfully works as the type of game that sucks in anyone that can appreciate the depth of a card game.

Click to continue reading Soltrio Solitaire Xbox Live Arcade Review

Gallery: Soltrio Solitaire Xbox Live Arcade Review

Pac-Man Championship Edition

Today’s XBLA release was first revealed yesterday as Pac-Man Championship Edition. Before you roll your eyes thinking that this is another port, you’d be well advised to give it a look – despite being 800 points ($10), this is a pretty rock solid release. I spent some time with it earlier today and had a blast; expect a review in the next few days.

New modes and redesigned mazes are the big attraction here (although those neon visuals sure are pretty). The new modes are as follows:


  • The Championship Mode. This is the main game mode designed by NAMCO BANDAI Games and Iwatani specifically for the championship round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. This mode – as well as all others within the “Pac-Man Championship Edition” – features redesigned mazes with wide maze walls and a widescreen configuration to better enable high-speed game play. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Challenge Mode 1 (Patience and Reward Course). This mode is an evolution of the Championship Mode.  Patience mazes strategically offer fewer Power Pellets and Reward mazes provide a large number of Power Pellets – providing unique challenges and rewards for the player. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

  • Challenge Mode 2 (The Darkness Course). In this mode, only the area directly around Pac-Man and the Ghosts is visible and the maze walls are completely hidden. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

  • Extra Mode 1 (The Freeway Course). An extremely high-speed mode for advanced players, this mode features warp-speed Pac-Man and Ghosts and plenty of tunnels. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Extra Mode 2 (The Manhattan Course). A mode inspired by the streets of Manhattan — the home for the first-ever Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Extra Mode 3 (The Overall Course). A mix of all other modes resulting in extreme mazes for the most devout Pac-Man fans. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

    Gallery: Xbox Live Arcade 6/6: Pac-Man Is Back, Now With Neons

  • Gametap Home
    Yesterday, Gametap opened up a new component in their online subscription-based gaming service, and it’s worth taking a look at. Gametap’s new service is a FREE (as in beer) ad-supported list of games that you can play through their client. All that’s required is that you register with their site, and you can begin playing games like Street Fighter 2, Metal Slug, and Tomb Raider: Legend for free. In addition, many of the games are upgraded from their original version, including features such as online play in Metal Slug

    So what’s the catch? Well, to start with, you have to watch ads at certain points during the game (for example, when a new level is loading, or when the game is first downloading). The other big problem—and one that a lot of sites don’t seem to be mentioning yet—is that the list of free games available rotates on a week-by-week basis. So while you may be able to play Joust for free this week, all your progress might be for nothing next week when they switch over to a NEW list of ad-supported games. This may not be a huge deal for some of the more arcade-y, quick play games like Rampage or Bust a Move, but it’s going to be pretty lame when you get hooked on TR Legend and then can’t play it after a week. Frankly, this all sounds suspiciously like a ploy to get people hooked on their service enough so that they’ll end up becoming paid subscribers to the full library - I can’t see any true gamer being happy with the list of free games changing every week.

    Read More | GameTap.com

    Gallery: Gametap Opens Free Ad-Supported Game Site

    Double Dragon box artAs was rumored this past week, Double Dragon will be released on the Xbox Live Arcade this Wednesday. It’ll be available at 2 a.m. PDT for a fee of 400 Microsoft Points, or $5 in non-virtual money.

    It’ll ship with the standard Arcade fare of 12 achievements and 200 achievement points, graphical enhancements, and leaderboards. But the major benefit of picking up Double Dragon will be the two-player co-op, playable locally or over Xbox Live. For $5, you really can’t go wrong with this arcade classic.

    Microsoft has also announced six other upcoming Arcade titles – only one of which is a port. Finally, another use for the Vision camera will be available with Spyglass Board Games, a collection of classic board games such as chess and checers. Video chat will be available in game, much in the same fashion that it is in Uno.

    The full list of titles can be seen after the break.

    Click to continue reading Double Dragon On Arcade This Week, Six More Games Coming

    Gallery: Double Dragon On Arcade This Week, Six More Games Coming

    Rub a Dub

    During Phil Harrison’s Q & A session at D.I.C.E., the Sony Computer Entertainment President revealed a new game to be released on the Playstation Network. The game Super Rub a Dub looks to be based around the infamous “duck demo” that Harrison showed off at E3 2005, and of course, gamers saw the original duck at the first E3 of the Playstation 2. The game will apparently be controlled entirely using the PS3 SIXAXIS controller, and Chris Kohler at Wired’s Game|Life blog has a few shots.

    Read More | Game|Life

    Gallery: Sony Turns Duck Demo Into Actual Game

    Crazy Crossword ImageNintendo stated for a long time that they were hoping to open the gaming market to new consumers (read: old folks), but ever since the release of Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes A Day, there hasn’t really been a title that I could see either of my grandparents sinking their dentures into. Sure, Big Brain Academy was great, and it revolved around the same concept as Brain Age, but stylistically it was a little more gamer-oriented. And even though they’re under the Touch Generations line, I can’t really see G’pa Cardiff spending much time with Tetris DS or Elite Beat Agents.

    Enter The New York Times Crosswords, a game practically screaming for attention from the new “older gamer” set. The New York Times Crosswords will feature, you guessed it, crosswords - and lots of them by the look of it. The cart will include over 1,000 real crosswork puzzles and will allow you to write in answers or use a touch-screen keyboard. It even features both cooperative and competitive 2-player games (no word on whether that will be single-cart based yet), so that G’ma and G’pa can work together or duke it out. Also no word yet on whether the game will be incorporating any features of the Nintendo WiFi Connection,although the ability to download and solve new puzzles would be pretty sweet!

    Majesco has a mixed record on the DS, creating such acclaimed titles as Cooking Mama and Age of Empires, but they’ve also released a fair number of quick profit-makers like Brain Boost: Beta Wave and Brain Boost: Gamma Wave (read: one game divided into two equally priced carts). We’re hoping for the best with NY Times Crosswords, though, as it sounds like a game that really has the potential to recapture the casual gaming market when it launches this spring.

    See the full press release, after the jump…

    Click to continue reading NYTimes Crosswords heading DS-ward, Older Gamers Rejoice!

    Read More | Majesco

    Gallery: NYTimes Crosswords heading DS-ward, Older Gamers Rejoice!

    Zune It was anticipated early on that Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player would offer some kind of gaming in the future; after all, the Zune already utilizes Microsoft’s point-based transaction architecture for song downloads and the MP3 player was created by one of the parents of the Xbox, J Allard. Now, it appears that there is a timeline for games on the device, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Peter Moore has confirmed that the Zune will see games support within 18 months to bring it on par with the iPod. Hopefully this will happen sooner, rather than later. By June 2008, the iPod will more than likely have advanced to its sixth generation release of the platform; Microsoft may need to have more up its sleeve to keep pace.

    Read More | Bloomberg

    Gallery: Zune Games To Appear By July 2008

    Description Gamestop / EBGames website were updated today, but not only with PS3 pre-order information. Today, the website also launched a new PC Game download service that may be the first real competitor with IGN’s Direct2Drive service. The website features over 1,000 downloadable games (although many of that 1,000 can be accounted for by duplicate titles in various languages) and range from $4.95 to $49.99 in price. As you might expect, there are a lot of cheap casual games available through the service for under $10, with most of the traditional “core” games (think Tomb Raider, WoW, etc.)running from $19 to $39.

    Perhaps Gamestop has been reading all the recent news about this new-fangled “digital distribution” and started to get worried about their business model. And with Sony execs talking about how the PS4 probably won’t have an optical drive because digital downloads will make them obsolete, I can see why Gamestop would be concerned.

    Read More | Gamestop.com

    Gallery: Gamestop / EB Launch PC Game Download Service

    Wii Big Brain Academy Screenshot

    With the success of the DS’s brain-training games, it should come as no surprise that Nintendo is planning to try to bring the same magic to the Wii as well. Big Brain Academy, similar in play-style to the DS title of the same name, will be coming to the Wii as a multiplayer game that allows two brains to either compete OR work cooperatively. The game will also support “Mii” characters, allowing you to import your likeness into the game.

    The first screenshot of the title can be seen above. So far, the release date is TBA, though we expect it to show up soon after the console hits the streets.

    Gallery: First Wii Screenshot - Big Brain Academy