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AICN Games: Monki's Weekly Wrap-Up! Monki is going to E for All! Phantom Hourglass and more!!

Greetings humans, Monki here with your brief batch of gaming news.

This is going to be a shortened version of the wrap-up due to the fact I've got stacks and stacks on my plate right now. One big thing, I'm flying out to California this week to go to E for All to give you guys some sweet updates from the front lines. So, if you are in the industry and will be at E for All or are based in L.A., drop me a line and we'll set up some cool stuff. I can't wait to get my hands on Super Mario Galaxy or Super Smash Brothers Brawl!

It's about that time, isn't it...lots and lots of big releases are right on the verge of destroying your bank account. We saw the start of it all with Halo 3 a couple weeks continued this week with The Orange Box. Looking forward we have Call of Duty 4, Rock Band, Mass Effect, Guitar Hero wallet is cringing just thinking about it.

Was the Orange Box enough to pull you away from Halo 3 last week? Or are you still going at it with your pals in custom games of infection or rocket race?

The Simpsons posters I offered in my last update were gone in a couple of seems like you kids love your Simpsons. I received requests from a French teacher at NYU all the way to a grave digger. You are all an awesome bunch of readers...

Alright, one more quick thing before I kick off this week's column. I have an absolutely amazing announcement coming very soon. We're still knocking out the exact details, but I promise you, it is something that every single gamer between the ages of 23 and 37 will go bonkers for. I don't want to spoil it just yet, but you'll'll see.....

DS Game Review of the Week!

The Zelda titles are often cited as the first RPG ever played by most "gamers-of-age," at least, the ones I know of. I know I got my first taste of Zelda when I unfolded that beautiful pull-out map in the first issue of Nintendo Power years and years ago. How the hell did they manage something so badass.

Anyway, Pipking sent in his thoughts on the new Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass title that just hit for the DS...and it sounds like that tradition of quality (minus the CD-i title) is still there. Enjoy.

Up until Phantom Hourglass, the only game I had ever taken online was Star Fox Command.

It wasn't that great. It was a quick taste of something intriguing done poorly.

I've never been an online guy, due to one part intimidation and two parts economics. Because the DS strips away most of what's associated with online play (chat, convenience), it's an ideal testing ground for an online noob. There's not at lot at stake - no breach in the intimacy of gameplay, just a much more compelling Intelligence on the other end.

Battle Mode is your typical game of cat and mouse. The mouse (Link) tries to get the cheese (Force Gem) back to his home (mat) while the cats (Phantom Guards) clunk around with big swords trying to cut him in two. Eight arenas run from small to large, dense to sparse; items drop to make you stronger, faster or give you more time. Twee Link can carry small Gems easily, but moves slower the bigger the prize. Guards follow paths drawn by the stylus and can be used to block, intercept, chase, defend - I've found the higher the rank of my opponent, the more interesting the gameplay becomes.

I don't have friends. Not DS friends, anyway. The game compassionately offers four options for random play, which works fine, except it sucks that after a great match (or series of) I'm likely never going to face that opponent again. Just now I finished a marathon session with some dude named 'Link' that was several rounds of fantastic. I'd play him/her again in a second, but Nintendo is keeping me friendless under the guise of protecting me from Predators.

It's s tricky situation. On the one hand, you don't want to be the person who says, "To hell with your PREDATORS!" because, frankly, it makes you look suspicious. But it's continually ridiculous, both in games and society, that we as a people would rather censor and edit than outright tell our kids, "There are some bad people/things out there and you need to follow these rules/never feel like you can't tell me things." My belief is that an informed child is a protected child - unless you're a dumbass and have raised dumbass kids, at which point they can't be helped, just sterilized.

And yes, I realize that the very thing that draws me as a noob to online multiplayer is exactly what I just bitched about. Don't interrupt.

So - ships pass in the night on DS online. It's a minor point. The core gameplay is entirely fun and addictive if you hit a great match. There was another guy, 'link', who blew my mind. He kept throwing his own gems off his mat and into the neutral zones, whittling away his score. It took me a few minutes to figure it out - then it became a race to zero. Online leaderboards be dammed - that shit was cool.

Nintendo is dolling out online functionality in drips and drabs that make it much more palatable to many more people. This little bite of online play has whet my appetite for more - just as I can see it doing for hundreds of Momtendos out there. Just as the Adventure Mode in Phantom Hourglass will draw them into a real game-y game.

And we've come, as they say, to the heart of the matter.

Phantom Hourglass is the best Zelda ever.

It is not especially long. It is not particularly hard. Challenging, but nothing to bust a nut over. As the game finds it's rhythm, it becomes apparent that it never intends to punish you. That's not it's style. It doesn't mind telling you what to do - because the real joy is how you do it.

Holy crap.

I wasn't worried about touch screen control, but I didn't think I'd be SO jazzed about it. That might be the real reason why I'm big on Battle Mode - because tooling around as Link is fantastic. He's tiny and spry and runs to the tip of your stylus with determined cartoon enthusiasm. He yips and hies and springs at your taps and slashes. It feels almost like puppetry - instead of climbing inside a character, you direct it's actions with graceful gestures from a distance. It's kind of like you're one of those meddlesome old Greek gods, peering, tapping, writing, scratching and blowing into your DS at a small corner of a charming, bright world.

Plus it's got Johnny Depp in it.

The game starts where the Wind Waker ended, with Link and Tetra on the Great Sea. A fog rolls in bearing a dark sinister shape. ZOMG GHOST SHIP! Tetra is taken, Link tries to follow but falls into the sea.

Cue being woken up on a beach by a fairy.

The fairy tells you to go find Grandpa, who in turn tells you to seek out Johnny Depp, who today is called Captain Linebeck. He's a braggart and a coward, but he's the one to talk to about this Ghost Ship business. Throughout the quest he is your begrudging chauffeur - he and the fairy don't get along, and he's more interested in treasure than the greater good. Like Wal-Mart.

But unlike Wal-Mart he brings a nice new energy into the Zelda mix and helps further flesh out the character of this world. The Wind Waker took genuine risks with the franchise - it traded traditional land-locked fantasy Hyrule for a living ocean of treasure and pirates (and way before pirates were so in). It's nice to see that risk rewarded with the tiny toy world of Phantom Hourglass. This is the direction Zelda should have kept going.

The quest begins and ends in the Temple of the Ocean King.

There are several traditional dungeons with exquisitely fun bosses, but all of them serve one purpose - to buy you more time in the Temple.

The air is poisoned with evil. Invincible Phantom Guards patrol the halls and slice to kill. There are safe zones on each floor where the evil hasn't reached - here the sands in the Hourglass stop counting, and the Guards can't see you. Here you pull down your map from the top screen and make notes on what you've seen in dashes between safety, to paint a picture of the puzzle before you. People with a Brain Age of 43 shouldn't have much trouble with the solutions, but again, the joy is in the execution.

That goes double for items: the arsenal is small, entirely familiar and wonderfully functional. Everyone knows about the boomerang and most people know about the Bombchus but there's one item that surpassed all my expectations for it. I won't spoil it except to say it's the last one you get. From the stance li'l Link takes to the Tex Avery of it all - that was the moment my like of Phantom Hourglass turned to love.

To say nothing of the sea.

Oh, the sea. How you were missed.

See, the sea is infinitely cooler than some tired old cave in some dusty old kingdom. The sea represents life, death, mystery and adventure. It is one part of our world that seems actively, frighteningly alive. People are dust to it's whims - untamable, fathomless and surging with raw, pulsing power.

That's not at all like sea in Phantom Hourglass, which is bright blue and calm all the time. But every sea still evokes thoughts of... The Sea; it represents endless potential. The great unknown. As a canvass for adventure, it piques the imagination like few other backdrops can, mostly because it isn't so played out as land-based adventures.

Tiny toy sea is filled with pirates and treasure and interesting island people. Gulls circle your ship anytime you're near land, making ideal target practice. Navigating is done on the map before you head out, and you can stop the ride at any time to plot a different course. Now you are free to shoot the holy hell out of everything. Especially bracing are encounters with your typical three ship pirate raiding parties, furiously redrawing circles between tapping out cannonballs.

It is a joy to play in every way. I didn't realize how much Twilight Princess had dampened my spirits for the franchise. All the elements were there, but at a certain point they failed to impress. It was the first in the franchise to show a bit of fatigue. Not a bad game by any stretch - yet, somehow, some of the magic had gone.

Luckily it didn't go far.

Phantom Hourglass is a gem.

Pretty Images of the Week!

Speaking of RPGs, here is the intro for the upcoming title for the 360, Lost Odyssey...looks Final Fantasy-riffic!

This would be the first RPG for the 360 I've touched since Oblivion...and I think I might have to do just that...after I finish this pile of games.

Following up that beautiful CGI-fest...I give you a trailer that makes me happy inside...check out this look at Super Mario Galaxy.

I'll be at E for All trying to check this one out...hopefully there won't be four hour lines like at E3 last year...sheesus!

Four Games You Must Own of the Week!

Beautiful Katamari (Available now for the 360)

If you don't know why you should buy this title, watch this video, and then buy the game. As an added bonus, this game works wonders for getting girls to play video games with you! Try it!

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (Available now for the PS3/360/Wii/PS2/DS)

I've been a fan of the Tony franchise since I was bombing that Hangar in the very first game. Skate has come out and put a dent into things, but I think there may still be room for two skating titles. This would be the arcade title with skate being the "realistic" title.

Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock (Available 10/23 for the 360/PS3/Wii/PS2)

This one is still a couple weeks out, but I'm still looking forward to it. Go ahead and pre-order to make yourself happy that you'll have at least one of the two big rock games hitting in the next couple of months.

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core (Available now for the Wii)

A fighting game on the Wii that isn't Super Smash Brothers...this could be awesome or really terrible. At least the box looks pretty! Any title for the Wii right now that looks cool is a plus in my book.

The Final Minute with Monki!

Once again, sorry for the lack of a rant or news bites this week, I'm just having too much crap piling up here before my trek out to E for All. Again, if you are going to be at E for All, drop me an email and you can buy me a beer and we'll talk gaming. I'm a good drinker. To make up for the short report, I will leave you with a video that makes me replay it over and over again. This thing is insanely awesome.

How insanely badass is that?? Alright kids, I've got to do some packing and write up some more crap for this here website! Keep your eyes peeled for lots more coming from your favorite furry simian this week! Until then though, back up the tree I go!


Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 16, 2007, 12:49 p.m. CST


    by Little Dick Wick

    Who wants to touch me?

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 12:50 p.m. CST

    I'll touch you...

    by LordPorkington

    ... for fifty pence.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 1:07 p.m. CST

    Havoc 2

    by Regina V. Dudley

    Amber Tamblyn - wha' happen?

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Been playing Phantom Hourglass on the subway all week

    by slone13

    It's a blast. Love the music, too, with all the hints of the old (and some newer) Zelda tunes.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Morricone rocks ass

    by JaggedSac

    That video was pretty damn awesome. Morricone comes up with some of the most uniquely awesome stuff ever. I particularly enjoy the Once Upon A Time In The West score. Those guys playing that stuff are pretty good.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 2:52 p.m. CST

    would have been first..

    by darthhirsty

    ..but im not one of these sad fuck geeks who sit around waitinig for a post to come up.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Agreed, Morricone does kick ass

    by c5ride

    Always got goose bumps at the beginning of a Metallica concert with The Ecstasy of Gold. Oh yea, the Orange Box is very fun, Portal is a little creepy.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Lines like this are why this column sucks

    by jslay012

    "A fighting game on the Wii that isn't Super Smash Brothers...this could be awesome or really terrible. At least the box looks pretty! Any title for the Wii right now that looks cool is a plus in my book." I now understand why Harry gave you a column, what with insightful, intelligent comments like that. Can't wait to read your opinions on all the box art you'll see at E for Everyone! Seriously, Harry, can't you get a real gamer to write this column? Maybe one with some inside sources to provide some information that hasn't been on other, better game sites for weeks?

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:50 p.m. CST


    by c5ride

    Don't like it, get the fuck out, go hang out at ign. I happen to enjoy it.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:52 p.m. CST

    And while I am at it...

    by jslay012

    Stop bitching about not having enough time for your columns. I honestly think you complain about that in every column you have done. If you don't have time to write something decent, fuck off and let someone who has the time and the passion for it take over. Seriously, who did you suck off to get this column? It is easily the worst thing on this site and and embarrassment to gamers like me.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:54 p.m. CST

    I've gotta agree about Twilight Princess

    by mraig

    Trudging through that game seemed like such a chore to me. Yeah, it's big and beautiful; yeah, it's neat to be able to point to shoot my bow and arrow. But you spend so much time with the game holding your hand and telling you what to do next, where to go, how to walk across the kingdom and get it to show me the next cut scene--I feel like, instead of challenging me, the game is just finding ways to occupy my time. <P>But Twilight Princess is far from the only modern game guilty of this.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:54 p.m. CST


    by jslay012

    Yeah, fuck me for wanting a little more then random, pointless opinions about old gaming news.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Like I said..

    by c5ride

    Then go get that news from somewhere else without having to bash someone in the process.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 4:12 p.m. CST

    Good column.

    by dangergirl

    I read IGN and Gamespot (among others) every day, and this column still has me reading from beginning to end.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Sorry c5,

    by MikeTheSpike

    Jslay's just tellin' it like it is. This column is embarassing - the only truly awful reading experience I'll slog through just to see how bad it can get. It doesn't just suck; it's compellingly awful. Defend Monki's choosing one of the 4 games this week you must play based on its box art.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 4:35 p.m. CST

    MGS4 will also be there in English...

    by Johnno

    I've been noticing a lack of MGS4 coverage on this AICN games... there wasn't even a mention when MPO released for PSP... what's going on? How the hell can you conveniently ignore it? You better come back with something from E for All...

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 4:54 p.m. CST

    Tony Hawk Proving Grounds is boring

    by Orionsangels

    Tony Hawk series has become stale. Buy SKATE instead. It's refreshing unique controls are rewarding and it's strange, even though you're using your thumb. It feels more like you're really skatboarding.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 4:56 p.m. CST

    The Japanese are gonna eat up Lost Odyssey

    by Orionsangels

    Sales of the 360 should increase in Japan

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 5:10 p.m. CST


    by c5ride

    It's very very simple, Don't read it then. You don't have to be assholes about it. Fucking sue me, I like it.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 5:16 p.m. CST

    It wasn't that great.

    by Just another useless chump with a microphone

    I beat Phantom Hourglass yesterday, after owning it just barely over a week. It's not a bad game I guess, and if it had been anything but a Zelda title, I probably wouldn't judge so harshly. It's easily the prettiest game for the DS, with the greatest graphics. It's fun, the touch screen control is fun to use, but dammit it's just way too easy, and way too short. Call me crazy, but with the brand name of Zelda, I expect "Epic". Even Link's Awakening managed to be somewhat epic. This game was more of just a fun distraction. The world was small and boring, with little to no exploration. The dungeons were moronically simple, and the game baby steps you through the entire game. Any challenge is removed when you walk into a room, and mini-cutscenes pretty much give you the answer of how to solve the puzzle. <br> I'm not going to give the huge thesis paper of a review I did for GameFAQs, but I'll sum it up by just saying I was sorely disappointed. Maybe my hopes were too high, especially for a handheld, but I wanted so much more. I would have been happy with a more 2D game, if it meant more content, more epic-ness.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 5:24 p.m. CST


    by chiahead

    I applaud you for pointing out that anyone who doesn't like this column really need not look further than IGN to get their fix. And anything beyond that- well that's just their therapy. And i also appreciate that you appreciate this column. That said, I kind of agree that the Guilty Gear comment was really lame. hahahahah I will, however say also that pipking's Phantom Hourglass review was by FAR, the BEST review of PH I've read thus far on the net. I love it when someone reviews a game for a franchise and you can tell s/he loves it- but s/he isn't totally gushing to the point of losing an informative tone. And The Sea, most definitely, had me. I bow to you pipking. You had me at The Sea. *sigh*...

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 6:21 p.m. CST

    I see what you're getting at.

    by MikeTheSpike

    Don't like it, don't read it. Fair enough. But surely with the contacts at his fingers, Harry can get ahold of someone with knowledge of the videogame industry to write this column, no? And, amicably, I ask you to tell me why you don't seem bothered by the fact that Monki is picking Guilty Gear as one of the 4 games to play this week because it has nice box art.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Monki you are Evolving into something truly great!


    Thanks for the last vid it cheered me right up!

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 7:24 p.m. CST

    by Orionsangels

    you know it

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 8:10 p.m. CST

    on Oblivion IV...

    by Zardoz

    Man, I've got over 160 hours on the game so far, and I haven't even half-way finished the main quest! And after that I can buy all the extra downloadable content off Xbox marketplace! The game is just massive. Too massive, maybe. But fun and addictive as hell! Well, maybe by the time I finish it GTA IV will be available...?

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 9:07 p.m. CST


    by c5ride

    I took it as a total joke, I have a Wii, and in my opinion, there isn't shit for games for it aside from a few gems. It's catalog right now is not robust, I took it as a total joke that at least there is a Wii game with nice box art coming out. That's just opinion though.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 9:43 p.m. CST

    Wait a second...

    by Just another useless chump with a microphone

    Pipking thought PH was better than Twilight Princess? Is he high? I mean okay comparing a DS game to a Wii game is like comparing apples to carburators. But still...while TP was not without its flaws, it was a phenomenal game. It was epic, with a good twist in the story, an expansion on the world of Hyrule. The gameplay was solid, the puzzles challenging. Yes, it DID hold your hand a lot, but I didn't feel it did so nearly as much as PH did. <br> Bah. I'm crawling back in my fanboy cave. <br> See now what I would really like to see is a truly epic quest, something spanning 70+ hours, that links (no pun intended) all of the stories thus far. Maybe not the Capcom titles, which never REALLY felt like Zelda games, but the main Nintendo games. Connect the generations. Connect the worlds. THAT would be awesome.

  • Oct. 16, 2007, 9:55 p.m. CST

    Doing the rounds

    by proper

    Pro evo on the nintendo looks interesting and Everybody else=I saw this a few months ago but nobody here posted it so here you are though I'm sure the upfront crew have already seen it... That looked impressive,not the silly money they are charging for PS3 impressive but still come 2010 when the second MG4 deluxe edition comes out and the machine is below £100 I'm sure I'll play it through.I'm clearing up the Ps2 games I missed and getting them dirt cheap too,thanks everybody for paying through the nose and taking one for the team.I'm happy to have a game last me 10-15 hours when I've paid less than £10 than I would if I got them for £30-£40.Right now I'm rinsing through Global Defence Force,Raw Danger,and the God Of War series(Awesome games though I'm glad I played and appreciated Rygar and Ico first ;>).What happened to the God Of War TB that was around a couple of years ago?.The article has been butchered and the TB (which I was a bit part of) is Gone,Call Orcus and the time travellers.Phantom hourglass is on the shelf so I'm looking forward to playing that one day (Castlevania P.O.R. comes first :>).I'm watching these vids right now of Dead Rising as I don't think I'll be getting an Xbox but I am interested in the game. going Monki.All the best.

  • Oct. 17, 2007, 3:04 a.m. CST

    Games coverage is AWFUL!!

    by Fixthe Fernback

    I feel sorry for anyone that actually used this section to get their games info. Shouldn't we be getting advance reviews and hot insider details/gossip ala the main page. It comes across as an outlet for one of Harry's mates to get some cash in hand money. Yet another lame gaming update, I mean why bother with this week at all. All we have is a crap review and "4 Games you must own this week." Why must we own GG Accent Core Monki? " ..this could be awesome or really terrible. At least the box looks pretty!" lol!! The only useful thing about this section is that it creates a talkback to chat about games. THAT'S IT!

  • Oct. 17, 2007, 6:47 a.m. CST

    Don't think I will get Orange box..

    by Stalkeye

    ..but I'll get into some black box this weekend. (v)

  • Oct. 17, 2007, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Yeah i just played Zelda

    by kilik777

    the Phantom Hourglass and its pretty fun so far. The multiplayer is a lot better than what i was expecting. Simple but addicting.

  • Oct. 17, 2007, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Maybe the music in the bottom youtube-window will inspire......

    by JDanielP

    ......Hollywood to give us more westerns. After listening to that music, I'm ready to pop in some classic Clint Eastwood on dvd.

  • Oct. 18, 2007, 9:59 a.m. CST

    Why Aren't Video Games Treated Like Movies & CDs Where Reviews A


    Why can I never find reviews of any of the new games (for me, for the Wii)? Why don't reviews come out in advance like any other entertainment/consumer product? This column is useless.

  • That's why you won't hear far in advance full reviews, and games unlike movies are usually more in a state of production than movies where things can radically change every time. At early stages, people only play demos to critique the gameplay etc. not the entire game, as well games can take days to complete and fully explore, whereas movies can be viewed in a few hours. Video games aren't treated like movies and music in that respect (review wise)because they're an entirely different medium.

  • Oct. 18, 2007, 4:14 p.m. CST

    Johnno, thanks but....


    Are they really working on games right up until the release? Surely there's got to be a couple of weeks in there where they can give out review copies, no?

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