Review: Rayman Origins

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Rayman Origins is one of the best games of 2011, and it’s a shame that so few people have bothered to notice it.

The game, a 2D platformer, succeeds in its absolute refusal to be anything like most of this year’s most popular games, while staying true to the traditions laid down by many a classic from the 8- and 16-bit eras. Rayman Origins is a game in which nothing has to make sense, but everything is supposed to be fun.

The title also earns distinction as one of the most beautiful releases for the current or any generation of console games. Rayman Origins’ rich, painterly character designs and layouts are as vibrant as the sights one may see in the best animated films. Indeed, playing the game is like playing a cartoon.

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Review, Part One: The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Nintendo Wii is a worthy addition to the beloved Zelda franchise. In some in some ways, especially its emphasis on motion controls, release is one of 2011′s most ambitious games, although other elements of the title show Nintendo is not keeping up with current trends in game design.

The game’s positive aspects far outweigh its minor disappointments. At its best, Skyward Sword is a triumph of visual design and a game that delivers the most visceral combat experiences of any Zelda title. What causes the game to fall just short of greatness, at least in its early parts, are moments of outdated gameplay and occasional frustrations with the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls.

This review covers the experience of playing the opening stages of Skyward Sword. This reviewer will write a second review after completing the storyline.

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Trailer: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Some players may want to try the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword because the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls may end up creating a pretty decent sword-fighting experience.

Others may be interested because franchise hero Link will be able to ride birds.

And others may do so because they’ve been buying Zelda games over the course of 25 years.

Nintendo promised a holiday season release for Skyward Sword at E3. Here’s the new trailer.

Nintendo cuts Wii price to $149.99

Nintendo, scheduled to unveil its next gaming console in June at the E3 convention in Los Angeles, announced today that it will reduce the price of its Wii console from $199.99 to $149.99.

The console will also be packaged “Mario Kart Wii” and matching “Wii Wheel” peripheral. The Wii’s iteration of Mario Kart will replace “Wii Sports” and “Wii Sports Resort.”

Nintendo also announced four titles, “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” “Animal Crossing: City Folk,” “Mario Super Sluggers” and “Wii Sports” will sell at the reduced price of $19.99 as the first four titles in the “Nintendo Selects” line, i.e. popular games that get to be sold at a discount with slightly different packaging, a la the “Greatest Hits” series for PlayStation 3 games or the “Platinum Hits” line for XBox 360 games.

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Dance your “badonkadonk” off

Casual and children’s game developers GameMill Entertainment on Tuesday announced the future release of “Country Dance for Wii.”

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The game’s lineup of country songs will include Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

Other performers set to be heard on the release include Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and Miranda Lambert.