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Gamebrit.com opened it’s doors back in August of 2008, but us as a team have been gaming for a large number of years, so, in a incredibly late fashion, it’s with pleasure that we present to you the first annual Gamebrit Awards.

The Gamebrit Awards aim to celebrate the best in videogaming from the past twelve months, and not only are we honoring all games on all major platforms, we will also be selecting the best home grown title; along with the best game developed right here in the United Kingdom.

All the titles in the categories below were pre selected by Gamebrit’s staff team and after much further debate an overall winner was chosen. We hope you agree that our choices are deservedly awarded, if not be sure to join the debate on our Alprazolam Order Lorazepam to discuss the awards and the industry as a whole with like-minded gamers.

So without further a due let the awards commence:

iPhone Game Of The Year

Winner – Sim City iPhone

Nominations:
Fieldrunners
Super Monkey Ball
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart
Bomboozle

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The visuals of SimCity 3000 combined with the gameplay of SimCity 2000 gave us the biggest and most ambitious iPhone app of 2008: SimCity iPhone from EA. With the ability to pinch in and out of your custom-built city to edit those fine details, this rendition of SC is both pretty on the eye, and pretty damn playable. The fun, addicting gameplay that you remember from the PC version remain intact to give great value for your £5.99 to provide hours of high fun.

Nintendo DS Game Of The Year

Winner – Professor Layton And The Curious Village

Nominations:
Advance Wars: Day of Ruin
Apollo Justice
The World ends with you
Soul Bubbles

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It took its sweet time to arrive here but Professor Layton and the Curious Village was worth the wait. After a clever ad campaign and word-of-mouth it became one of the most sought after titles over the Christmas period, selling out across the country and fetching stupid prices on eBay. This popularity was no accident as Professor Layton is one of the most addictive and engrossing games of the year and a great bridge title to bring together new and old gamers.

Playstation Portable Game Of The Year

Winner – Patapon

Nominations:
Loco Roco 2
Echochrome
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Space Invaders Extreme

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The people behind LocoRoco have once again delivered a game that’s crazy, original and downright addictive. Patapon built on the idea of simple 2D graphics and combined it with a rhythm led, side scrolling, fighting game. This may sound like an unusual match but it’s an instant hit and has won critical acclaim across the industry. It covers all bases providing artistic visuals, perfectly mapped controls and a soundtrack that will get stuck in your head and won’t let go. This is not only one of the PSP’s finest but a game that should be experienced by everyone.

Multiplayer Game Of The Year

Winner – Burnout Paradise

Nominations:
Gears Of War 2
Left 4 Dead
Smash Bros Brawl
Mario Kart Wii

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Despite being out for more than a year, Criterion, another UK based developer, have been supporting Burnout Paradise with a slew of downloadable content since release, it’s this continued support along with a amazingly thorough game to build upon that make Burnout Paradise our multiplayer game of the year. A solid multiplayer experience, different to any other racing game make Burnout Paradise such an appealing multiplayer affair. The open structure of the multiplayer gave gamers a choice in how to play which is still refreshing more than a year after release.

Download Game Of The Year

Winner – Braid (XBLA)

Nominations:
Geometry Wars 2
Lost Winds
Pixel Junk Monsters
Megaman 9

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An independently developed title takes the scoop for downloadable game of the year. Braid (available on Xbox Live) married beautifully unique visuals with captivating and thought provoking gameplay. A highly satisfying puzzle challenge with indefinte style. Jonathon Blow, congratulations.

British Developer Of The Year

Winner – Media Molecule

Nominations:
Fable 2 – Lionhead Studios
GTA IV – Rockstar North
Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts – Rare
Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise – Rare

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Coming from a small office in Guildford, newly formed Media Molecule gave the world not only LittleBigPlanet but also a fresh approach to games development. They’ve drawn on 70+ years of combined gaming experience and are packed full of people who love making and playing games. This is incredibly clear from the game they’ve made so far and the community feel they’ve created that surrounds everything they do. The Media Molecule ‘family’ has got a bright future ahead of them and it’s genuinely exciting to wonder what project they’ll embark on next.

PC Game Of The Year

Winner – Red Alert 3

Nominations:
Spore
Football Manager 2009
Far Cry 2
GTA 4

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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the famous phrase, but EA went ahead and fixed it anyway, by introducing a fully playable online co-op campaign. Fortunately nothing has stopped the consistency of the Red Alert franchise from being the awesome Real Time Strategy gaming series that we all remember, as the third (if played alongside a friend) could be considered the best yet of the trilogy. It may not do a great deal to introduce new players to the series, but RA fanboys will be drooling over HD Tesla Tanks, heavy naval combat and most importantly… Jenny McCarthy and Gemma Atkinson wearing leather in HD!

Playstation 3 Game Of The Year

Winner – LittleBigPlanet

Nominations:
Metal Gear Solid 4
Grand Theft Auto 4
Burnout Paradise
Resistance 2

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Fresh from new developers Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet put creativity back in the hands of players. Combining classic platforming with a do-it-yourself attitude, this game established itself amongst the PS3’s elite titles. Add to this an adorable lead character, limitless customization and one of the most fun multiplayer experiences around and you have an incredibly enjoyable game. With the ongoing content updates as well as the numerous user built levels being uploaded every day, LittleBigPlanet’s hold on the gaming world isn’t due to end anytime soon.

Wii Game Of The Year

Winner – Smash Bros Brawl

Nominations:
No More Heroes
Mario Kart Wii
De Blob
Zack & Wiki

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Despite all the massive hype, director Masahiro Sakurai managed to deliver on just about all his promises for this sequel. The impressive selection of playable characters, stages cameos and nods to the company’s glossy past made this a virtual wet dream for Nintendo fans around the globe and it quickly became one of the best selling hardcore titles of the year. The addition of a fully-fledged single player, online options and level editors gave gamers even more reasons to immerse themselves in the Smash Bros universe.

Xbox 360 Game Of The Year

Winner – Gears Of War 2

Nominations:
GTA 4
Burnout Paradise
Fallout 3
Fable 2

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Gears of War 2 was a highly anticipated sequel to a game that has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and had won many awards in 2007 including Game of the Year. It did not disappoint. A compelling story saw the characters progress in the fight against impossible odds with scenes of great atmosphere. Gripping multiplayer with new modes, such as Horde, meant that Gears of War 2 set a new record for the number of simultaneous players on Xbox Live, with over 1.5 million people logging on to play the game.

Gamebrit Game Of The Year

Winner – Gears Of War 2
Nominations:
Grand Theft Auto 4
Metal Gear Solid 4
LittleBigPlanet
Burnout Paradise
Fallout 3
Spore
Professor Layton & The Curious Village
Left 4 Dead
Smash Bros. Brawl

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As the above mentions, Gears of War 2 offered enough fresh material, coupled with the necessary high standards of graphics and sound, to win both Xbox 360 Game of the Year and Game Brit Game of the Year 2008. Congratulations Epic.


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If you’ve read our review of the latest Animal Crossing you can probably tell we’re just a little disappointed by the lack of innovation in what is one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. Not ones to rest on our shiny laurels, we put our heads together and came up with a few ways to put some extra spark into the AC experience, while keeping to the core values that made it a success in the first place.

*cue wibbly-wobbly ‘what if’ effect*

Locations

After shrinking the towns in Wild World, Nintendo have returned them to more or less their original size in LGTTC but left out some of the locations trimmed for the handheld release. It made sense for some of the features to be condensed for the DS worlds and made daily visits a tad quicker, but now the bigger townscapes feel a bit empty. Places like the fountain, town dump and lighthouse could have been reinstated and the observatory and café could have broken free of the museum and gone it alone somewhere else in the town. Brewster must have made enough from his extortionately priced coffee in WW to pay for a new shop in the city or somewhere.

Speaking of which, where was the bustling metropolis we were expecting? Considering the rolling perspective it’s understandable that the city was never going to be a mass of buildings – you’d lose your character amongst skyscrapers. But it could easily have consisted of several areas, each the size of the plaza present in the final game. There could have been a large open-air market, selling rare and exotic items, with the stalls changing daily. An entertainment complex with a cinema showing off some of the video trailers available on the Nintendo channel. How about a mall, encompassing a bunch of themed clothing or furniture stores? Or a city park to visit during festivals, full of snowball fights, kite flying and the occasional funfair?

Tools

AC rewards players for interacting with the environments, from shaking trees to finding the money-spouting rock every day – your town is full of daily secrets. Buried treasure is always marked by a small crack in the ground but what if that little signifier was removed for some of the rarer treats? What device could be added to help you find these elusive goodies? Well how about a metal detector? The pointer and speaker functions would be perfect for this task – equip the tool, point at the screen and listen out to a beep from the speaker. Then it’s just a case of whipping out the shovel, digging in the right spot and reaping your reward.


Items

The furniture in your house is mainly there for show but there are a few items that have a less superficial purpose, like the Hi-Fi, cupboards or lights. But what if you could do a little more with the furniture you’d worked so hard to raise the cash for. TVs could be used like Harvest Moon, to show you a weather report or get some hints via a TV show.

Then you have the pinball tables and arcade machines – what if you could actually play on them? Nothing fancy, but enough to give you something to do in the absence of the NES titles last seen in the cube game. Imagine if they were initially housed in Brewster’s Café (which, lets face it really needs some extra raison d’etre), but awarded as a present if you beat a high score so you can practise in the comfort of your own home. Then there’s the competitive and communication elements it would bring with it; set a high score on Pinball, then go online to check out how you fare against others on your friends list or discuss tactics. Nintendo could make these a prime candidate for the DLC content they’ve touted since the Wii version was announced.

Collectibles

It’s probably fair to say that Animal Crossing has reached a plateau in terms of number of collectible flora and fauna (dead or otherwise) and that any more additions would propel the franchise to the same heights as Pokemon. Furniture is a different matter of course it would be great to see a whole plethora of new styles to kit out your home. One thing we’d like to see is an expansion on the Nintendo themed items, with a different set for each of Nintendo’s best loved franchises. On our most wanted list would be DK barrel seats, a TV shaped like Samus’ helmet and a bed that looks like the Blue Falcon.

Remember the GBA card-reader? It was a short-lived peripheral released around the same time as AC in the US and let you scan small pieces of code printed on the edges of sets of collectible cards. Each contained part of a small mini-game (or a level for Super Mario Bros 3 on GBA) or in Animal Crossing’s case, items and bells. It never managed to make an impact in the market and so was scrapped very early on but it forms the basis of our next idea. Taking inspiration from the Pokemon trading card games and eschewing the unpractical and expensive hardware, it would be great to have a set of collectible cards within the AC game world. You could trade or battle with the town folk or your friends, and have rare cards given out as rewards from the Mayor and other characters. If we had to pick a theme, it would definitely have to be based around Nintendo characters and items from yesteryear (what else) which would fit nicely alongside the retro Nintendo items.

 

Multiplayer

With a bit of tinkering AC Wii could have been a great multiplayer title, as it stands it’s extremely limited in what you can do, especially with just four visitors (come on Nintendo, at least make it eight at a time). The thought of fishing with a mate or hunting for treasure may have seemed wonderful in Nintendo’s mind but in reality it’s a superficial addition and the novelty soon wears off. As a rule, we normally we wouldn’t advocate bolting on mini games to a single-player focused title but Animal Crossing could have been one of few titles to have benefited from them, seeing as friendly competition is a running theme throughout the series. As a simple starter, Fishing would have been more competitive if you could see just how big a fish was when caught. We’d also love to see a mixture of mini-games based around sports (2 on 2 basketball, five a side soccer and swimming) and playground favourites (hide and seek, kiss chase and beat the letter, or anything else that involves a lot of running). And maybe some traditional games like hangman (with a stuffed Nook in the noose) or paper-rock-scissors.

DS Connectivity

Transferring a character from your DS game was a bit of a no-brainer but the handheld could have been far more useful. Imagine if it had been an item itself, passed off in-game as a personal aid mimicking the GB color’s appearance in Luigi’s Mansion. For instance, information on your catalogue, museum donations and bug or fish collections could be displayed on your DS, available to browse on the fly. Or it could be used to show your town map so you can see at a glance where the other villagers are and keep track of any errands they may have asked you to run?

Ok, so a map isn’t exactly the most original use of the DS we admit, but the personal organiser idea can be taken even further, if the other animals have one of their own. You could send and receive emails from them (and maybe some spam from Redd) or, if you link your hotmail account for instance, view any real world emails while you’re playing. Maybe you could upload your collection of KK Slider songs and have them playing in the background, turning your DS into a temporary music station. Photos could be transferred and edited in a similar way to the feature included on the DSi.

 

Integrating Wii Features

Posting photos to the message board and letting you get a Mii makeover for your character are a good start, but the Wii has so many more features that could have made LGTTC more than a simple port. Take the channels for a start; Wii Fit and Mario kart can get their own channel but why not AC? Presuming Nintendo had allowed your town to carry on in your absence (and that any visitors could be trusted not to deface it) an AC channel could have been a quick way to see if anything had happened since you last loaded it up. Headlines could scroll in the channel window to let you know if a character had moved away or to give you the results of a fishing tourney. Delve deeper and get a list of your achievements in your town or take a look at up and coming events (Booker would be a great character to handle these reports).

And how could Animal Crossing have interacted with the existing channels? Well, your town-folk could mention some of the games you’d rated via the Nintendo Channel, or discussed how they’d voted on a recent Everybody Votes poll. Pics from the photo channel could have been imported and used as wallpaper, floor tiles, furniture or appeared on billboards in the city. Then there’s the virtual console. While removing the NES games in light of their availability on the online service made sense from a financial perspective, Nintendo could have still let you play your downloaded collection within AC. The original shipped with a robust NES emulator so it isn’t a stretch to imagine the same being possible on the Wii, especially as Smash Bros Brawl allowed a handful of Nintendo gems to be sampled.

These are just a few things we’d have loved to have seen in the new Animal Crossing, or future versions (if you’re reading this Miyamoto…)


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Backwards compatibility is slowly being phased out by hardware manufacturers; even Nintendo have taken away the opportunity for DSi adopters to savour some of its finest handheld titles. So before the option is gone forever, I urge you to root out these classics and fill your DS’ GBA slot with true gaming goodness.

In no particular order (except maybe, alphabetically), here are my top something-or-other best GBA games to put in your DS GBA slot ever:

Advance Wars

Someone once said ‘War is Hell’; but that doesn’t always apply because Advance Wars is bloody brilliant. The chunky tanks and cheerful troops quietly camouflaged the depth on offer in one of the finest strategy games ever made. The sequels on GBA and DS could do nothing to improve upon the formula (after all, how do you improve on perfection?) and were resigned to bolting on extra units and gimmicky control systems that watered down the finely balanced gameplay. The only thing that could have made the original better was online play, which is remedied in the latest DS version, Days of Ruin. Still, local multiplayer matches could easily last an entire day if your batteries and brain cells could handle it. Because of the turn-based nature of the game this is one of the few multiplayer GBA games that can still be enjoyed fully on the DS, just pass and move, like that old Liverpool groove.

In a word: Tank top
Expect to pay: £5

Boktai

In between creating 10-hour long interactive movies, Hideo Kojima could be found tinkering away on this innovative little series. Boktai followed a vampire hunter who could use the power of the sun to decimate hordes of evil. The game made use of a specially designed GBA cartridge containing a sun sensor, meaning you had to recharge your in-game solar power by playing outside. Its USP proved its undoing however as the prospect of having to face natural light frightened and confused many gamers and as a result the game bombed. Shame, as the game was pretty good fun, as long as you didn’t live in perpetual twilight, and has the unique claim to be the only game you can’t play during a solar eclipse.

In a word: Blindin’
Expect to pay: £8-10

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow

Since Konami gave Castlevania a Metroid style makeover the GBA and DS have played host to some of the finest entries in the series and none more so than the third GBA outing, Aria of Sorrow. This refined just about every aspect of gameplay, and included some of the best bosses in the handheld releases. Bargain hunters should be on the look out for the double pack which also contained Harmony of Dissonance.

In a word: Whipped cream

Expect to pay: £7.50

Densetsu no Stafy

For some reason Nintendo decided to keep Stafy’s antics from anyone but the Japanese gaming public, despite finding popularity amongst the fish-loving populace of Akihibara. Stafy the starfish remains mostly unknown to UK gamers, but his strange brand of underwater platforming was pretty charming for its time and spawned two GBA sequels and a further two DS titles. This can be found dirt cheap on most import sites.

In a word: A shining star(fish)
Expect to pay: £12

DK King of Swing

Paon developed this rather unique Donkey Kong title, which saw the big ape traversing levels by swinging on peg boards, using the shoulder buttons to swing DK around. This marked one of the first appearances of DK in an original title since Nintendo’s split with Rare and had a style that was more akin to Yoshi’s Island than the pre-rendered look of the SNES era. While it hasn’t aged well and has been soundly beaten by the far superior DS sequel it’s still worth rooting out, if only for the groovy music.

In a word: Swingin’
Expect to pay: £5-10

Drill Dozer

Coming from the brains behind one of gaming’s biggest franchises, Pokemon, you’d think Drill Dozer would be assured of some measure of success. Unfortunately, Game Freak’s quirky platform title never found much of an audience and it sunk without a trace. Every action in the game revolved (literally) around main character Jill and her drill, and the title contained some pretty ingenious puzzles, especially in the boss battles. Eagle-eyed fans may have spied Jill’s brief cameo in Smash Bros Brawl as an assist trophy. This is another import only title I’m afraid.

In a word: Revolutionary
Expect to pay: £15

F-Zero GP Maximum Velocity

The first of the GBA’s three F-Zero titles is arguably the best of the lot. This launch title saw a return to the mode-7 tracks of the SNES original but did away with most of the existing cast. As such it’s the only game in the series that doesn’t feature Captain Falcon and his wonderful Blue Flacon, or his Falcon Punch. The tracks were tightly designed and looked great even on the GBA’s poor screen. Unfortunately the DS can’t recreate Maximum Velocity’s single cart multiplayer, but you can still pretend it works using the power of imagination.

In a word: Neeeooooowwwmmmm

Expect to pay: £3

Final Fantasy VI

Ignore the fanboy arguments over which one is best, just sit back enjoy Square’s sixth instalment. This was the last Final Fantasy to appear on the SNES and one of the finest RPGs ever made. This port marks the first PAL release on a Nintendo format (there is a hard-to-find PS1 version) and was one of the last big GBA games released over here. The story is still as engrossing as ever and contains some of the series’ more memorable characters. Definitely the best RPG on GBA and guaranteed to make any long distance trips at least 27% more bearable (unless you’re driving).

In a word: Fantastic
Expect to pay: £15-20

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones

Although it’s been around since the NES days and had more than a dozen titles, Intelligent System’s Fire Emblem series has only recently been given some time in the limelight. Like Advance Wars, Fire Emblem revolves around strategic turn-based battling but there are some major differences that set the two apart. Aside from the medieval fantasy setting and RPG elements, FE places greater importance on your individual units. Unlike most games, once they are killed that’s it; they are gone forever so every move and attack really counts. Sacred Stones is one of the best in the series and a good introduction to one of Nintendo’s most low-key franchises.

In a word: Fire-starter

Expect to pay: £12-15

Golden Sun

It’s a testament to Camelot’s original RPG that people are still clamouring for a new instalment to the Golden Sun series. The games found a cult following amongst Nintendo fans eager for a meaty RPG after the genre was severely underrepresented on the N64. The graphics and music still hold up well today even if the story feels a little tired.

In a word: Sun shiner
Expect to pay: £5

It’s Mr Pants

Rare may have lost a little of their magic, but their thoroughly British humour is still intact. This puzzle game, featuring the mascot from Rare’s letters page on their website, was originally meant to be Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers and was one of the first games announced for the GBA. It wasn’t a particularly enthralling puzzle game but the fact it contains a stick man wearing nothing but a pair of pants, a bowler hat and a moustache (which is my usual weekend attire) means I just had to include it in this list.

In a word: Pant-tastic

Expect to pay: Thruppence ha’penny

Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

Kirby has never got the same amount of attention as Mario or Link, which must be really upsetting for the little pink fella. Make him feel a bit better by purchasing one of his better adventures, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. While it doesn’t add much to the staple gameplay of the series, it is still a fun adventure and the only game that King Dededee doesn’t make an appearance. If you’re not put off by the sugary sweet graphics this is a great way to introduce yourself to the little puffball’s under appreciated world.

In a word: Doesn’t suck
Expect to pay: £12

Kuru Kuru Kururin

American gamers may have got English language versions of Chrono Trigger, Earthbound and Mario RPG exclusive to their territory but we got Kuru Kuru Kururin. Thanks Nintendo. Well actually their loss really was our gain as this launch title was a great little super action puzzle game (as described by its designer). Your goal was to guide a slowly rotating helicopter thing through a series of tight courses without touching the sides and against a strict time limit. It was immensely frustrating but in a good way and remains one of the most unusual games on the GBA.

In a word: You spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby right round, round, round
Expect to pay: £5

Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past

The GBA saw plenty of remakes of old SNES classics and this was probably the best of the lot. Not only did it contain one of the best games ever, shrunk down and ready to take on the move, but it also had the fabulous bonus title Four Swords, a multiplayer-oriented adventure set in randomly generated dungeons. Link to the Past remains Link’s most epic adventure and was the one that put into place just about every gameplay aspect that the series is so well-known for – beautiful worlds to explore, haunting musical scores, complex dungeons and challenging bosses.

In a word: Legendary

Expect to pay: £15-18

Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap

Minish Cap was the GBA’s one and only original Zelda title and is possibly the best of the handheld bunch. Developed by Flagship, who had been involved with the GB Color duology Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, this game continued the cel-shaded style first seen in Wind Waker and paired a miniaturised Link with a magical talking hat, Ezlo. The game made great use of its diminutive theme, as Link had to complete puzzles in large and small form, making for some interesting dungeons and boss battles. The game also integrated the multiple-Link elements from Four Swords into some of the puzzles which really made this title stand proudly alongside the series’ grander console entries. It’s a short adventure but nonetheless a must have for Zelda fans.

In a word: Size matters not
Expect to pay: £12-15

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario’s RPG adventures are well-known for poking fun at the staple elements of Mario’s worlds and Superstar Saga is no different. The paper style may have been ditched but the humour and witty script are still intact, as is the turn-based action-led battle system. Superstar Saga let you control both plumbers at the same time which led to some ingenious puzzles throughout the brothers’ unusual quest to return Princess Peach’s voice from the evil witch Cackletta.

In a word: RPGreat
Expect to pay: £15

Mario Kart Super Circuit

Eschewing the slippy-slidy nature of the N64 version, Super Circuit returned the series to the tightly controlled mode-7 tracks of the original. The graphics and music evoked happy memories of the hours spent on the SNES classic and the ranks awarded after each race meant this had tonnes of replayability. It even went so far as including every course from the original as unlockable bonuses, giving this title the most number of tracks of any title in the series. Some of them made it into the DS & Wii iterations (cunningly titled Mariokart DS & Mariokart Wii) so you can still check them out even without a copy of this game.

In a word: Has a great track record

Expect to pay: £15

Metroid Fusion

The first original handheld Metroid since Metroid 2 on the old Game Boy. Although it retained the same puzzle and exploration aspects the series is known for, this adventure was a bit more linear due to the expanded story elements which saw Samus being infected with a parasitic virus that gives her Metroid-like powers. It saw the first glimpse of an evil Samus, the SA-X created by the parasite that infected Samus. Owners of Metroid Prime could unlock Samus’ Fusion suit if they linked the two together, but you can’t do that on the DS so forget that little factoid.

In a word: SA-Xtroidinary
Expect to pay: £10

Metroid: Zero Mission

Samus’ first adventure got the remake treatment on GBA giving players a second chance to experience the haunting world of the original Metroid. Zebes and its inhabitants have never looked so good and the bosses, which are still some of the most iconic of the series, have been given some extra oomph thanks to the GBA. The original content has been fleshed out a bit to include some of the abilities and bosses from later titles like Super Metroid. On top of this, there is a whole new section to explore after you ‘complete’ the game, which is almost as long as the main game itself and will probably please fans of Smash Bros Brawl.

In a word: Missionary position

Expect to pay: £10

Mother 3

Why Nintendo refuses to translate this title and releases it to the masses is beyond even us here at GameBrit. I once asked Nintendo why this was but Iwata-San just chortled maniacally and went back to his game of bingo; Miyamoto didn’t even look up from tuning his banjo and Shigesato Itoi just quietly wept in the corner of the room. Until they decide otherwise you can get hold of Mother 3 via an import site and use one of the excellent FAQS available on the interweb. Or you can get a hold of it by more dubious means but we didn’t tell you that. Incidentally the wonderful guys at StarMan.net have just finished their English translation of the game, so the patch for those less legal copies should be available shortly. Hooray for ultra-dedicated fan-bases!

In a word: Mama mia
Expect to pay: £20

Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald

The third generation of Nintendo’s money-spinning collect-em-up took players off to the land of Hoenn in search of Pokemon glory. All your favourites like Surskit, Volbeat and Spheal are here and waiting for you to beat them to within an inch of their lives and chuck your balls in their direction. Extra features included force feeding your ‘mon berries and the chance to create a secret base that could be decorated with the hollowed out carcases of wild Pokemon – gotta love that Snorlax skin rug.

In a word: Gotta catch ‘em all
Expect to pay: £20

Super Mario Advance 1-4

I’ve lumped these together as one entry because writing about them individually would have taken ages, and more importantly I shouldn’t need to explain how good they all are. Nintendo may be more content to repackage former glories than create new ones but in this case we’ll forgive them as each cart holds some of the best platforming action you will ever find. Mario Bros 2 may be the ugly duckling of the group but it’s still a challenging platformer; Mario 3 redefined the genre; Mario World polished all the aspects that made 1&3 so much fun and added Yoshi to the franchise; Yoshi himself got a chance to shine in the best of the bunch, Yoshi’s Island.

In a word: Super
Expect to pay £10-18

Tales of Phantasia

The first of Namco’s long-running RPG series came shipped on the largest SNES cartridge ever made (it was even bigger than some 64 carts). It was an absolutely gorgeous adventure, even out-performing the Square titles on the format in graphical terms and featured a soothing score from series composer Motoi Sakuraba (who went on to work on Star Ocean and Baten Kaitos). It also had a battle system totally unlike any RPGs at the time; turn-based battles were replaced with a system more like a side-on beat-em-up. This GBA port is quite poorly put together but seeing as the original was never released outside of Japan this is the only chance PAL gamers have of playing this gem.

In a word: Phantastic
Expect to pay £20

Warioware Inc.

Mario’s nemesis had already had his own line of fun platform games before he got this series, which has become one of Nintendo’s biggest new franchises in recent years. The simplistic five-second mini-games were perfectly suited to the play & go nature of handheld gaming, and were hugely addictive. The surreal themes meant that games based around shaking hands with dogs, jumping over hot dog cars and keeping cats dry were all par for the course. This saw a re-release on the GameCube in the form of Warioware Mega Party Games.

In a word: Fast
Expect to pay: £15

Warioware Twisted

Those evil bar stewards at Nintendo UK still have this on their release schedules, taunting us poor UK gamers with the faint hope of a release on these shores. This is the best game in the series, thanks mostly to the gyroscope built-in to the cartridge, which puts a whole new spin on many of the mini-games from the original. The gentle rumble gives a tactile pleasure as you tilt and twist your way through the selection of games. Get down to your local importer and get a hold of this genius game.

In a word: Twist and shout
Expect to pay: £20

There we go – the near definitive list of essential DS GBA slot-filling GBA games that no one else has ever thought of. If you think I’ve missed anything off the list or if you want to chat to someone in complete confidence about an embarrassing GBA related problem, please get in touch.


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What a letdown the PSP turned out to be. It didn’t reach anywhere near the levels of success that the Nintendo DS has enjoyed. The upcoming release list is depressingly scant. Better portable systems have already made it practically redundant as a music or video player. Even the Playstation brand couldn’t save it from its drawn out, agonising demise.

Is this really how it is? As with most things, it depends on how you look at it. You probably see it through the eyes of other games journalists: a failure, an embarrassment; a lifeless, dead console that deserves to be overlooked and ignored, because, let’s face it, there’s bugger worth playing out for it.

Here’s how I see it: even now, the PSP has plenty going for it. Perhaps “especially now”. The PSP scene may seem quiet (because it is), but there aren’t truckloads of baby simulators and Luv Your Petz games coming out for it, either. If you look below the surface, there’s plenty of gaming fun to be had on Sony’s portable – and you don’t have to look far, either.  Forget the media functions for a few minutes. Sales figures don’t matter either – they’re still good, apparently, but they don’t matter. The games are what matters, and there’s more than enough to keep most discerning gamers happy.

I still play Lumines. It’s still an incredible game. Most people treat games as being far too disposable these days – partly because most of the gaming media is a glorified buyer’s guide, and partly, one suspects, because of the preowned games market – but Lumines was a wonderful game when the PSP launched, and it’s still wonderful now.

I was an early adopter of the PSP, and I sold mine on soon after. There was nothing worthwhile to play after the launch period, and while the DS was showered with wonderful games, Sony’s machine, it seemed, began to flag. Fast forward a few years, and all the good games for Nintendo’s console have been played – there’s still a few kicking about, for sure, but the DS has seen its day. The PSP, on the other hand, has a treasure trove of great games – original, exciting and fun games buried amongst the rubbish – that begged to be played.

Let’s not pretend for one second that the PSP hasn’t got loads of crap on it too, because it does. But it also has Exit. And God of War. And Patapon – one of the most refreshing and engaging games I’ve played for ages. And Echochrome. Crush is good, too. LocoRoco is fun, if sickeningly cute. Ratchet and Clank. Daxter. Flatout. Space Invaders Extreme really shouldn’t be incredible, but it is. Worms Open Warfare 2 is on my shopping list, as is Crazy Taxi. And then there’s the games that I don’t like, but everyone else does: Wipeout Pulse, Everybody’s Golf, Crisis Core, Jeanne d’Arc, Monster Hunter 2, MGS: Portable Ops, Virtua Tennis, PES, Ridge Racer, and so on, et cetera, et cetera.

Granted, it’s not the greatest back catalogue a games console has ever had.  But they’re all great games, and they’re all worth playing – by most people’s standards, at least. And surely such a list is good enough for most people? The PSP is a portable console, after all. Most people don’t play their handhelds unless they’re taking a very long trip, or they’re going on holiday, or both. You don’t need a massive list of games: you just need one or two to keep things fresh now and then; a few passé-temps. And after starting to feel more and more like the best has been had out of the DS, I’ve been keen to discover the best of the PSP. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

And when I’m done with all of that, I might do what most other people seem to have done with their PSPs – crack one open like a nut, and enjoy the full back catalogues of every console from the PS1 back to the NES, thanks to custom firmware. It’s the trendy thing to do at the moment with PSPs, apparently, and while it may be illegal, I have few qualms about downloading all the wonderful games from yesteryear that I’ve already paid for once upon a time, and giving them all another go on a portable console.

My opinions might not gel with the rest of the gaming community (it’s just me and the mums playing the Wii these days), but with the PSP’s excellent back catalogue, along with the huge wealth of games that custom firmware can offer, I don’t think my decision to buy a new PSP three months ago was a bad one. They still have plenty to offer, despite what the gaming press would have you think. (And they’re still damn sexy machines, as well).


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The day was Saturday the 25th of November 2006; the time was 17:25 pm. I had just finished speaking to Tommy Tallarico, co-writer and Executive Producer of Video Games Live and was making my way to the bar for a little pre-show drink. To my right, a solitary Wii unit was being set-up, surrounded by Journalists and staff hovering with intent. I edged forward to get a closer look, eager to get a first little glimpse at the console I’d waited so long to play. As I got within an inch of my target a drum roll rumbled from the main stage behind me. A soft, enticing choral sound stopped me in my tracks. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and shivers coursed their way down my spine; the title screen music from Halo had never sounded sweeter…

Tonight marked not only the first appearance of Video Games Live in the UK, but the first time any sort of event of this kind had been arranged full stop. The phenomenon that had already swept across the United States and made several stops around the world finally touched down in the Hammersmith Apollo in London. It wasn’t just a chance to hear fully orchestrated versions of classics that have followed us through so many digital adventures but a celebration of video game culture itself. People came in costume or in T-Shirts emblazoned with various video gaming icons, chatting unashamedly about the latest games with people they’d never met before. Several hundred crowded around the lonely Wii in the foyer hoping to get a chance to wave the controller like a Tennis racket or bowling ball. Those who had taken to their seats pulled out a DS or two and one by one the rows became lit by a thousand dual screens; Pictochat rooms were soon full and bursting with Wii jokes, drawing contests and requests for Tetris matches.

When the first segment, a retro medley (compiled by British musician Richard Jacques who worked on many Sega titles), appeared on the big screen above the stage, DS’ were snapped shut and the crowd erupted in applause as Pong played out before them. Other classics joined the fray, with Space invaders and Donkey Kong getting huge cheers. Classic NES and Sega titles Punch out and Outrun, along with Rastan and Ghouls & Ghosts following shortly after. Is was great to see some of these old titles again after so many years and even better to hear the old themes, previously limited by their respective hardware, performed by a full orchestra. One of the purposes of VG Live is to put older games back in the spotlight, delighting fans and introducing younger gamers to a wider history that most had missed out on.

As each segment played, beautifully orchestrated music was accompanied by video montages of some of each game’s most memorable scenes. The result was nothing short of amazing, gamers could relive favourite moments as they appeared or simply close their eyes and let the majestic score take them back through a sea of memories. Anyone doubting the validity of classing video games as art needs to visit this show. Indeed, the enthusiastic applause that greeted each and every game show just how much the music and the memories they conjure up means to so many.

There were so many highlights throughout the evening and the favourite moments for each attendee would probably be very different. The opening Metal Gear Solid piece started the night off with a powerful rendition of the series’ main theme, introduced by the creator Hideo Kojima via video. Not only was the video sequence, featuring clips from Solid Snake’s 3D adventures (and some clips from the upcoming fourth game) superbly put together but on the stage itself a skit involving a guard and a cardboard box brought huge cheers from knowing fans. The laughs grew when exclamation mark lit up above the guard’s head whenever the box moved around the stage.

The next musical number, Beyond Good & Evil brought with it a surprise appearance from Michel Ancel who confirmed that he was bringing his team together to discuss a sequel to the superb yet overlooked original. Medal of Honour displayed a poignant video of clips from WW2 as the orchestra played a sombre piece from the first game. This was followed by an uplifting African choral piece from Civilisation 4 and British-composed duo Headhunter (Richard Jacques) and Tomb Raider (Nathan McCree).

Fan favourites Zelda and Final Fantasy disappointed slightly; the Zelda piece was the exact same composition performed by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra on the Orchestrated Ocarina of Time CD and FF7’s classic ‘One Winged Angel’ was minus a video display. Both were still great pieces and delighted the audiences and the lack of video was down to SquareEnix’s reluctance to allow any in-game footage to be shown.

But this was a show with very little to really complain about and the second half performance was just as great, if not better than the first. After an amusing Frogger competition held on stage, complete with on-the-fly music from the orchestra, Kingdom Hearts’ main theme took the audience through a montage of the Disney characters featured in the game albeit through clips from their respective films. Tracks from Myst and Warcraft were well received by the crowd and the Sonic and Mario medleys whipped the Sega and Nintendo fan-boys into a frenzy. Both iconic characters were treated to lengthy renditions of their most familiar themes and were largely regarded as the show’s highlights. And if that wasn’t enough to please the crowd, the finale Halo piece sent them into the stratosphere. A final encore for the Halo 3 trailer music was the icing on the cake and capped a magnificent night of entertainment.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, and the one that garnered the most applause, was when Tommy brought out one of gaming’s biggest cult heroes, the Video Game Pianist, Martin Leung. He had shot to fame on Ebaumsworld when he posted a video of himself playing the Mario Bros tune blindfolded and had now been invited to take part in the world’s biggest celebration of video game music. His first set was a whistle stop tour through some of Nobuo Uematsu’s finest works from the Final Fantasy series including the main theme from FF7 and Kefka’s theme from FF6, although the brilliant Zanarkand from FFX was notable for its absence. When he was called back on stage after the Mario medley, Martin replayed the moment that had brought him into the public’s eye, performing the Mario Bros blindfolded. He followed that with tunes from Mario World and the GB version of Tetris played at an incredible speed.

VG Live has done so much in one night. It brought together four-thousand people in a celebration of music and video game culture; it made the general media sit up and take note of a form of entertainment all too easily passed off as ‘just for kids’; it introduced gamers of all ages to music and experiences that they’d perhaps missed out on; it rekindled the passion for games in a jaded gamer I know who’d all but forgotten just how powerful and memorable the medium could be. And I bet it’s inspired more than a few people to pick up an instrument and play a tune or two from their favourite game.

The true impact of VG Live will be seen years from now, when sell-out performances of the music of Zelda sit proudly alongside the latest Andrew Lloyd-Webber piece in the West-end or Broadway. Soon, Video game composers will be given the recognition and appreciation they’ve deserved for many years; music stores across the world will be full of the latest VG OSTs and Uematsu’s Greatest Hits album will storm the classical music chart.

We are on the cusp of a revolution, and VG Live is the drum roll that has started it all.

This post was originally posted on Eurofusion.