GigaGaming Tips & Tops, Season 5
Published on: June 16, 2011
Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
Description: One of the most "awwwww"-some games ever made! Cute and clever surprises await you in (and upon unlocking) every stage, and you can challenge them together with your (boy/girl)friend. Relaxing and cheerful music is there to keep up your spirits on every step of the journey. Kirby is immortal in this game, but letting him get roughed up (and the bosses play very rough) hurts your score, which pretty effectively ensures that both inexperienced and expert gamers are catered for (and if you're an expert Kirby player, the final world will hit a lot of your nostalgia buttons). Play this game for happy feelings!
Free tip: You have extra abilities when you're playing with a friend, so use 'em! For example, pressing A to call Angie when you're falling down a bottomless pit can let you avoid getting hurt.
Cookie tip: Here are some handy boss tricks! When you're fighting the Treat Land boss and you wind up on his big bomb, after you've freed yourself, ring the bell above the bomb as many times as you can for extra beads. You may have more time to do this than you think, but get off the bomb when it starts flashing! When you're fighting the Snow Land boss, look for non-obvious opportunities to attack. You may find more than stars to throw at him, and you may even find opportunities to attack him without throwing anything!
Bejeweled 3 (PC)
Description: All of PopCap's experience in creating the Shariki-based Bejeweled series has culminated in this masterpiece! You can create three kinds of special gems, all of which can cause chain reactions with each other (Hypercubes do stuff when you blow them up, yay!). The game's graphics and music have a fantasy theme, with beautiful and imaginative backgrounds in most modes. The four secret modes are no longer mere variants of the modes you must play to unlock them, nor are they modes that should have been available at the start, but rather unique and fun new challenges. Together, the eight modes offer a great variety, whether you're seeking a calm game or a frenetic one. This is a game that continues to be fun even when it's been in your collection for a long time.
Free tip: To make your Classic games last as long as possible, look for any opportunity to create a Hypercube, and when you get one, save it until there are no other moves. If a Hypercube is in range of a Flame Gem or Star Gem, try to eliminate gems underneath either the Hypercube or the Flame/Star Gem to get the Hypercube out of the potential demolition area. (Feel free to use a Hypercube on another Hypercube any time, since in Classic mode that will grant you two replacement Hypercubes!)
Cookie tip: In Butterflies mode, don't ignore opportunities to create special gems. Obviously your priority should be freeing butterflies, but if you sometimes take a turn to make a special gem instead of match a butterfly, it may get you out of a tight spot later. (Speaking of which, here's a secret: If you manage to get a Hypercube in the bottom row of the board, no more butterflies can appear in its column until it's gone!)
Glory of Heracles (DS)
Description: Not really a game for enthusiasts of ancient Greek mythology, as it is quite loosely based on that (although, give the developers credit for using the Greek name and not the Roman one), but if you're looking to play a good RPG, this is your game. Battles feature high and roughly-equal amounts of strategizing to be done in before-battle preparation and in-battle actions, though not in a way that makes it very hard. It does a pretty good job of not letting you come to despise random encounters, in spite of having a lot of them. Play this if you're a gamer who wants some rather involved gameplay. By the way, if you like "OMG"-inducing spell animations, be sure to head for System > Options and set "Battle magic effects" to "Extended" - they're not Disgaea-level, but they're pretty awesome.
Free tip: Get in the habit of using Reaper Strike on weakened foes once you get it. Defeating an enemy with it usually results in a net gain in MP, especially against Immortos enemies.
Cookie tip: Do not underestimate the value of abilities such as Counter that give you an extra attack! Dispatch is particularly helpful, for it makes battles less annoying and lets you feel a little safer using less MP-intensive attacks. Also, note that Counter can activate even if your character activates Dodge on the same enemy strike. It's very satisfying to watch enemies suffer such an epic fail.
Nintendo Tips & Tops, Season 4
Block Breaker Deluxe (WiiWare)
Description: This was clearly created by people who love the Breakout/Arkanoid-like genre. It's a fusion of numerous things that make a game of its kind awesome (multi-ball power-ups, exploding bricks, bricks that re-arrange the playing field, the works) and an exclusion of things that make them uncool (such as trying to hit that last brick - Block Breaker Deluxe will surround the final brick with explosive bricks if it's being a pain). And it has a few extras that are unusual for a Breakout/Arkanoid-like game (permanent upgrades, combo scoring, etc.). If you want a game of that genre, Block Breaker Deluxe is definitely worth the download.
Free tip: Keep an eye out for the red/blue bricks that modify a level, and make them your priority. Sometimes they're the key to turning a hard level easy - even more so than the power-up bricks.
Cookie tip: Failed to snatch a gift? Need more lives? Replaying some levels is often much better than buying your way out of trouble, and it'll get you those tune-ups much sooner.
Sonic Unleashed (Wii)
Description: This is quite the mixed bag. Day stages have you using Sonic's moves to blast through with speed and style. When you do everything just right, it feels exhilarating, but sometimes one wrong move will send you into disaster. Night stages can make great stress relievers, as you swing the remote and nunchuk to perform various fighting moves, but they can also induce stress when you try to get across a series of little platforms. The only things consistently enjoyable here are the cutscenes - beautifully rendered with just the right amount of humor.
Free tip: In day stages, get in the habit of using Sonic Boosts often. They're especially useful after an Action Chain because sometimes you can reach something else to add to your Action Chain to make it ridiculously long. Once you're in the habit of boosting often, you can learn through experience when not to boost.
Cookie tip: In night stages, hold the B button as you approach a grabable non-enemy object, and Sonic will grab it as soon as he's close enough. This is very useful for getting past a series of horizontal or vertical beams.
Rhythm Heaven (Nintendo DS)
Description: This is one for music lovers! Wonderful tunes of numerous styles, all original to Rhythm Heaven (as far as I know), await you on this DS game card. Most tunes are accompanied by a game in which you could be doing any of a number of odd things - fueling robots, harvesting vegetables, making a moai sing, etc. Each game has different rules but they all follow the same scheme: Tap and/or flick on the touch screen to the rhythm! This game is stricter than other music games, so anyone who follows the visuals instead of the music will do miserably here, and even those with a good sense of rhythm will face some challenge. It can't hurt for you to give it a try, though.
Free tip: The game itself yields quite a few tips and secrets if you make good use of the cafe.
Cookie tip: Most, if not all, of the tunes in Rhythm Heaven are in 4/4 time. If you don't know what that means, basically it means that a tune can be divided neatly into four-beat chunks. If you can identify the beats and the chunks, you'll be in much better shape. For example, in Fan Club, the three-repetition cue will take up three beats of one chunk, and you must tap on each beat of the next chunk. You may find it helpful to count "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4..." as you play.
Nintendo Tips & Tops, Season 3
Star Soldier R (WiiWare)
Description: If you know exactly how much time you have to kill, this shooter game comes in quite handy! Just select "Start Game", then choose whether you'll play for two minutes or five minutes, and the action will begin. But within the game's short time span, there are many ways to increase your score and two ways to increase the power of your spaceship. No matter how many times you play this game, there's always the challenge of getting a better score next time.
Free tip: Don't neglect weapon and force upgrades after you've increased them to their maximum power. Each upgrade collected for something that's already at its maximum gets you 10,000 points, and that quickly adds up!
Cookie tip: Always, always, always attempt to get the 80,000 point Delilah bonus if your weapon level is 5 or 6. You can attack the eyes with your rear lasers if your front ones don't get the job done, and making an accidental shot that hits one eye but not the other doesn't disqualify you.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
Description: Plenty of characters, a fully-fledged story, and literally dozens of unlockables. Sounds like a game I won't tire of for a while. If you're familiar with Super Smash Bros. Melee, the gameplay is basically the same, except that Air Dodges can no longer nudge your position or stop you from using further moves, and other minor changes like that. Oh, and one MAJOR change: Smash Balls, which enable you to perform super-powerful special attacks. If you're not familiar with any Smash Bros. games, you won't have much trouble finding someone who does. It's that sort of game.
Free tip: In Subspace Emissary, not all damage is created equal. Damage dealt may do more to reduce an enemy's health if you direct it to the proper place on their body - for example, the Greap's head.
Cookie tip: Here's a number of things regarding the collection of Smash Balls. Propelling your rival in the direction of the Smash Ball actually works pretty well if you send them sailing past it. Attacks with any sort of delay (such as Meteor Smashes) are not your friends. However, fast-moving projectile weapons will work very well (unlike with Metal Boxes, you do get credited for hitting the Smash Ball if you do it from a distance).
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Nintendo DS)
Description: Actually, this isn't much more than a glorified puzzle book. But what a collection of puzzles it is! There are simple puzzles and brain-busting puzzles. There are straightforward puzzles, and annoying puzzles with oddly-worded instructions. There are number puzzles and picture puzzles. Everyone can find some puzzles they'll love, and if you use Wi-Fi you can get even more puzzles. What makes this game so much fun? That's not a very puzzling question.
Free tip: You can sometimes save hint coins by simply re-reading the puzzle's instructions, word by word. Pay close attention to each word - you may discover a helpful detail, or realize what isn't in the instructions.
Cookie tip: Hint coins may be limited, but there's a lot of them! Check the windows, the barrels, the bushes - anything that's the right size for a coin.
Nintendo Tips & Tops, Season 2
Mario Party 7 (Nintendo Gamecube)
Description: Some of you might be getting tired of all the sequels, but don't worry: This game breaks the formula in nearly a dozen places! For starters, only two boards in this game follow the traditional scheme of "pay 20 coins at the Star Space to get a Star". All other boards have unique methods of Star gathering, so you'll need to apply different strategies for each board. Bowser plays a much bigger role this time around: Among other things, Bowser hosts his own event every five turns (some of these events will make fundamental changes to how the board works), as well as the Last 4 Turns event. Koopa Kid spaces start mischief events that are quite amusing this game, and go beyond the typical "I'm gonna steal your coins" events that were used for past games. The items are more versatile in this game: You can use them claim spaces, set up roadblocks, or give yourself a boost. Each character also has a special item that only that character (and his/her counterpart) can use. Perhaps one of the most interesting new features in this game are the new 8-player games, where teams of two can share a controller. The mini-games aren't as imaginative this time around, but trust me: There's plenty to make up for it!
Free tip: The Surprise/Magic Orb can guarantee that you won't be stepping on certain spaces. This can be good and bad! Analyze the board carefully before you use this orb! (Of course, if all you want to do is get somewhere fast, and you don't care what you'll be landing on, you can ignore this advice.)
Cookie tip: In Windmillville, remember that you can lock out players from buying your windmill by putting much more that the required amount of coins into it. If you're rich, consider putting all of your coins into the center windmill. This will not only guarantee that you will have at least 3 Stars, but it also prevents you from being robbed by almost anything! (Bandits excluded, of course.) There is the slight possibility that Bowser will destroy your windmill, but this is a rather low risk.
Meteos (Nintendo DS)
Description: In this action/puzzle game, you are presented with a stack of Meteos that you have to get off your planet before they stack too high and your planet goes KA-BLOOIE! So, what to do? Simple: Move the Meteos up and down to form a set of three Meteos, and they'll take off like rockets! It sounds simple, but there are a variety of tricks you can use, such as secondary ignitions, mid-air docking, and my favorite, the step jump. There are 32 different planets, each with their own graphics, sounds, and physics, adding a lot of replayability and strategy to this game.
Free tip: Remember that most of the physics change from planet to planet, including the effect of the speeder on a falling stack of launched Meteos. On Meteo, the speeder causes stacks to fall at a great speed, but on Bavoom, the speeder will actually slow stacks down!
Cookie tip: Clearing your screen of Meteos will give you lots of points and make it easier to win! You can achieve this by using mid-air docks and step jumps to form a planet-wide stack, then sending it out of the atmosphere! On some levels, such as Megadom, putting a planet-wide stack together and pushing it out of the atmosphere is too hard, so don't push your luck.
Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS)
Description: When it comes to handheld racing games, I highly doubt anything will ever top Mario Kart DS. (Unless there's a Mario Kart DS 2. ;-) ) The single player mode features a variety of activites to keep you busy, including a Grand Prix mode with 8 cups (4 classic, 4 new), a Battle mode in which you can fight computer characters, and a Mission mode. I know that "missions" in a racing game sounds kind of "off", but trust me, these make pretty good boredom busters. Those of you with friends, don't worry, because they haven't neglected multiplayer games. Together, you and your friends can go race each other, pop each other's baloons, or go hunting for Shine Sprites... even if your friends don't own the game! And there's a new Wi-Fi mode, so that somebody in Germany can thwock someone in Texas with a Koopa shell. Just be warned that it's quite common for one's hands to get sore playing this game!
Free tip: There are many karts in this game. Try as many as you can to find one that suits your style. For example, I've found that I do well in Daisy's Light Dancer. It has above average speed and excellent drifting, which suits me quite well. Its Items and Weight stats aren't very good, but I typically don't need to rely on these stats.
Cookie tip: In Battles, you can't just rely on brute force to win! Try some smart moves, such as: Place a Fake Item Box in the exact same place as a real one. Place lots of Bananas on a single ramp, making it hard to dodge them all. See if you can think up some other clever moves!
Nintendo Tips & Tops, Season 1
Sonic Heroes (Nintendo Gamecube)
Description: Upside-down super-speedy triple-play action! Sonic Heroes allows you to blast through levels with Sonic leading the pack! Want someone else? Just push a button and you've switched to either Knuckles or Tails. On the off-chance you get tired of all three, three additional teams allow to play as Shadow, E-128 Gamma, Rouge, Amy, Big, Cream, Espio, Charmy, and Vector!
Free tip: Dash as much as you possibly can during the Emerald Challenges, and only stop dashing to collect red starred Power Spheres, to get a little extra control, or if you can't because your dash bar is empty.
Cookie tip: Save your Team Blast energy by powering up your Power character to level 3, then by repeatedly pressing the attack button. Often, you'll get the same effect [as you'd get from a Team Blast].
Pac-Man Collection (Game Boy Advance)
Description: They sure PACked a lot of fun into this cartridge! There are four Pac-Man games in this, including Pac-Man Arrangement, which was previously only in arcades! That one's my favorite. There's also Pac-Mania, Pac-Attack, and, of course, classic Pac-Man.
Free tip: In Pac-Man Arrangement, you'll munch a lot more ghosts by eating a power pellet after a red power-up.
Cookie tip: In classic Pac-Man and Pac-Man Arrangement, look for trouble spots where there is a long path with only two entrances. Clear those while the ghosts are busy somewhere else, otherwise, you'll be cornered easily.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Nintendo Gamecube)
Description: They were very creative with this one! You can now create teams of 2 characters to control each kart, and there's even a way to have 2 human characters work together to race their kart to victory! There are lots of unlockable secrets in this one: secret karts, secret tracks, even secret characters. You won't get bored for quite some time.
Free tip: When choosing your characters, pick one character with a special item that helps you take the lead, and another character with a special item that helps you keep the lead. Example: Mario (Fireball) and Peach (Heart).
Cookie tip: Become a master of the drift turn. This skill will help you win in the harder parts of the game, but only if you use it properly.