June 2005


A field of blocks three rows deep sits against a colorful background. You casually shift the blocks around, sliding them up and down their columns as additional blocks occasionally drizzle down from the top of the screen. Lining up groups of three or more like-colored blocks launches whole columns skyward, where some blocks disappear into the heavens and the remaining drift slowly back down to Earth. Pleasant music and sound effects fill the air to accompany your every action.

This is the dreamworld of Meteos as it exists at the start of a session – calm, peaceful, all-in-all a generally agreeable diversion. This version of the world lasts… oh… about a minute before you begin to notice the drizzle of blocks turn into a light shower, then a steady downpour, until finally a torrential flood of blocks begins to fill the screen almost faster than you can handle them. Far from a lackadaisical diversion, Meteos quickly transforms itself into a frantic test of visual acuity and reflexes.

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Thus far, developers making games for the Nintendo DS have been pretty desperate to show off just how useful the system’s distinctive features are. Unfortunately, these developers seem to have focused so much on using these features that they forgot to create a substantial game to apply them in. Nintendo DS owners have had to suffer through a string of games that generally get repetitive after a few sessions and waste the DS’ potential.

Now along comes Kirby Canvas Curse, a surprisingly meaty platform game that just happens to be perfectly designed for the DS. Suddenly all those wasted features are put into what could pass for a decent platforming game on any system, and the DS’ unique functionality begins to make a lot of sense.

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The best description I heard for the experience of attending the Electronic Entertainment Expo (a.k.a. E3) was "a rock concert in the middle of a battlefield." Indeed, the 10,000 square feet of the Los Angeles Convention Center were so full of flashing displays, thumping sounds and distracting stage shows, it could lead to a bad case of sensory overload for the unprepared. The show floor itself is so massive — over 1,000 completely new games were shown — that three days isn’t nearly enough to experience it all. Three weeks might not be enough. Picking out hints of the industry’s direction in such a massive, confusing environment is a bit like guessing the plot of a movie based on the trailer. Still, based on my own spotty experience at this year’s show, I did notice some trends.

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I’m a gamer. You know nothing else about me, but I play video games.

What do you think of me?

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