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The Gamebrit Podcast by
published Sunday, Oct 12th

#015 — Epic Announcement

Hey Brother! It’s time to listen to (a slightly delayed) episode 15 of Britain’s soon-to-be-favourite gaming podcast, The Gamebrit Podcast.

This week we talk about Dumb Ways To Die (the game that is), along with Shadow of Mordor, Crazy Taxi: City Rush and the recently released Pokemon Trading Card game app for iPad. We take a good guess to what a Tetris movie may look like, discuss our favourite gaming soundtracks and Leo shares an epic announcement.

Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to The Gamebrit Podcast via RSSon Stitcher or in iTunes. It’s guaranteed to make your day better.

Got any feedback or questions for the show? Drop us a message via Twitter, over on Facebook or by email at podcast@gamebrit.com.


Pokemon X & Y by
published Monday, Mar 31st

First Gen Magmar & Electabuzz Offered To Pokemon X and Y Players

Old meets new as The Pokémon Company announced Monday that classic characters Magmar and Electabuzz will be made available to UK Pokémon X and Y players throughout the Easter period.

Starting April 4th, Pokemon players can claim one of the first-gen monsters at retailer GAME. Magmar will be made available to Pokémon X players, whereas electric-type Electabuzz will be up for grabs for Pokémon Y players.


by
published Saturday, Apr 10th

A Week In The Life Of A Real-Life Pokemon Trainer — Poke Walker Review

As you’re probably well aware of by now, there are two new Pokémon titles out (well, we say new, but ‘remade’ would be a more fitting term). Heart Gold and Soul Silver have taken the best bits from previous adventures and distilled them into two comprehensive packages. Like the other Pokémon adventures, they’re great titles, but essentially more of the same. You’ll know by now whether it’s your bag or not.

Poke Walker

What you may not know is that these new titles come with a fancy little toy you can play with. Dubbed the ‘Poké Walker’, the device allows you to take one of your monsters with you on a stroll in the real world, gaining experience, items and even new creatures with every step you take. It’s a brilliant idea in theory, but what about in practice?

Join us as we delve into the week-long diary of a real-life Pokémon trainer.


by
published Tuesday, Apr 06th

Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver Review

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Nintendo unleashed Pocket Monsters upon an unsuspecting public. The franchise’s phenomenal success surprised everyone, including Nintendo themselves, but there were still some critics that saw it as just another childish fad. While interest may have cooled a bit in the west, the franchise remains as popular as ever in Japan, pulling in sales figures in the millions. The series’ high point is undoubtedly the first set of sequels, released on the Game Boy Color in 2000/2001. There were more new features in these than the rest of the later sequels put together. Pokemon breeding, dual battles, day/night cycles and extensive ‘post-credits’ quests were all features established in the second generation, and have been present in every iteration since.

Nintendo has now refitted the second set of Pokemon titles for release on the DS. Though while they may seem like a cynical cash-in, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When the first set of games were re-released on the Game Boy Advance as Fire Red and Leaf Green, Nintendo gave them a bit of a lick of paint and added a few extra features. Heart Gold and Soul Silver have themselves been spruced up a bit graphically, but Nintendo have included far more extra content than they did in FR & LG. For starters, some of the features from the later two generations have been slotted into HG & SS, like the Battle Frontier and Pal Park. But perhaps the biggest and most significant additions are the all-new Pokeathlon (a series of ‘Pokemon Olympic’ events, controlled via the stylus), and the surprisingly fun little freebie, the Pokewalker.

It’s essentially just a simple pedometer, but its application in the world of Pokemon adds a new dimension to the gameplay. Pokemon can be transferred to the Pokewalker and then carried around with you as you go about your daily business. Every step in the real world equates to one experience point for your chosen partner; for every twenty you’ll build up watts, a special in-game currency. Watts can then be used to unlock new locations to walk in, or for two simple mini-games included on the Pokewalker, which allow you to find items or Pokemon along the way. Presumably the device is meant to encourage fat ten-year olds to get out of the house and get some exercise, but it’s still an addictive little distraction nonetheless.

So the new features fit in well, but what about the original stuff? Does it remain as addictive as our sepia-toned memories might suggest? Well, this could be down to personal opinion but the simple answer is this is Pokemon as it’s always been: complex, engaging and full of charm. The nostalgia factor is definitely there for those who have travelled the length and breadth of the Johto world already, and newcomers can look forward to the biggest and best Pokemon adventure yet. HG & SS represent Pokemon in its purest form, before the world was filled with hundreds of insignificant monsters, dozens of ‘legendaries’ and pointless side games (like the beauty pageants).

There are a few minor flaws lingering in the series that Nintendo seem averse to correcting. Pokemon are still represented by simple sprite art, which, as charming as it might be, could really do with being a bit more dynamic. The over-world graphics, while functional, are far from pushing the DS hardware much. Finally, the game structure is beginning to feel a little tired now and could do with a shake up. Nintendo will certainly need to look into rebooting some aspects of the series in any future editions if they want to hold gamers’ interest.

These issues can’t take the shine off what is an epic and enthralling return to the series’ glory days. The core gameplay is still as addictive as it ever was, with hundreds of golden gaming hours to be had, marking this as yet another essential DS title. Perhaps the next editions will take the series in a new direction, but for now these titles stand as a fond celebration of the world of Pokemon at its best.


by
published Sunday, Oct 19th

Now thats what I call the best list of Top 25 GBA games to put in your DS GBA slot ever

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.