I was having some trouble writing up Pokemon Rumble, so I decided to publish my reviews of Excitebike: World Rally and Frogger Returns separately. I didn’t want the work I’d done on them to get stagnant or go unused. I’m finding it tough to put FWD Download features together because its hard for me to write short, sub-500 word reviews.

Because Game Forward is so heavily focussed on downloadable games now, I’ll likely switch the features so that they only include apps and games that are under $5. The next one will be a look at some of health and fitness apps available for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

I’m continuing to evaluate the CogniFit Personal Coach software and I continue to be impressed by it on a bi-daily basis. I can see and feel myself getting better at tasks that I was struggling with at the start of the process a month ago and though it may sound silly, I swear I can feel my brain “fire-up” when I sit down for a training session and it helps me feel more alert when I hit my afternoon wall.

I started the first 48-day cycle of the program with higher than normal results in many of the 14 cognitive abilities that CogniFit Personal Coach ranks you on. It does an excellent job setting tasks related to my stronger abilities to a higher level to maintain my skills in those areas. It also adjusts on-the-fly when I’m struggling with a task and will bump down the difficulty level so I never feel too frustrated or overwhelmed.

Because I’m an avid gamer, I may look at  this software differently than others, but I genuinely find the training sessions fun and often they provide a rewarding challenge to my memory or motor skills. This program could easily be marketed as a game for the Wii, DS or iPhone/iPod Touch.

It features a clean and polished presentation and the tasks aren’t too far removed from things in the Brain Age or Big Brain Academy games to be intimidating to a casual gamer audience. The difference is that CogniFit Personal Coach actually works and is worth the asking price for a yearly subscription to the online training program. I’ll have a full overview of the program posted in the coming weeks as I finish my first cycle.

Our PSP Go is getting a lot of love these days. In addition to being hopelessly addicted to the surprisingly great Creature Defense that was released in November, we downloaded Kurulin Fusion and Battle Poker this week, one of which is good.

Kurulin Fusion is a puzzle game that reminds me of ColumnsLumines and, of course, Tetris. Two types of objects, Fusion Blocks and Energy Orbs fall from the top of the play field. You can move, rotate and hard-drop these objects into place and matching Fusion  Blocks and Enery Orbs of the same colour will make them disappear.

You can build large rectangles of Fusion Blocks to score more points and create chain reactions. If you clear a 3×3 Fusion Block, it will clear all Energy Orbs of that colour from the play field. Much like Tetris, the game will end if a piece cannot fall below the top of the play field and you are given a hold queue foe assistance.

Kurulin Fusion features four play modes. Arcade serves as a marathon mode in which pieces fall faster as you progress through levels. There are some unique mechanics at work in this mode that I don’t quite understand yet, but sometimes pieces will speed up exponentially for a short period of time. Score Attack is self-explanatory and Mission mode tasks you with clearing preset puzzles. There is also ad-hoc multiplayer which I plan to test using the Ad-hoc Party feature of the PS3 before I write my review.

The game sports a highly polished presentation that rivals Lumines and also features interpretations of the works of J.S. Bach by legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu . For $5, you really can’t go wrong with Kurulin Fusion.

The Remote Play feature is by far one of my favourite things about owning both a PSP and a PS3, though it is vastly underused. Q Games however has embraced the feature with their stylish PixelJunk series of games and that trend continues with PixelJunk Shooter.

The title is a bit misleading and though you do indeed shoot stuff in PixelJunk Shooter, the game has more in common with Lunar Lander or the recently released Gravity Crash than it does Super Stardust HD. Your primary goal is to navigate your ship through cavernous levels and rescue survivors with a sort of grappling hook.

Early on, I’m finding myself solving light environmental puzzles that use a cool water and lava system. I can see these puzzles getting more complicated as I go and I’m really enjoying it so far. The game is fairly easy to control and uses the analog sticks and triggers on the PS3. The control setup is a bit different when playing via Remote Play, but I found it easy to adapt.

The look of PixelJunk Shooter is most comparable to that of PixelJunk Eden and it uses 2D art and slightly contrasting colours to create its world. The water looks particularly good and the whole package seems to be running at 60 fps on the PS3. The PixelJunk games have had great audio to this point and PixelJunk Shooter is no exception, featuring a great atmospheric soundtrack from High Frequency Bandwidth; a project headed by Dr. Alex Paterson of The Orb.

I’ll be digging deeper into PixelJunk Shooterin the coming days and hope to have a review up before our holiday break.



I tend to not get much real work done on Mondays and today is unlikely to be an exception to that trend. I usually take the day to do stuff like site maintenance and in the case of today, I’m harvesting an old computer for its hard drives so I can find a font I’m looking for.

Woke up with an unusual pain in my heel today. I think it may be from the time I spent with the Island Biking activity in Wii Fit Plus yesterday. Sadly, it seems that the majority of the new activities will not be playable sitting down and that my second Sit on It! experiment probably won’t go as well as the first did.

I’m pretty much finished with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on Wii now. I really liked the game at first, especially the Balance Board skiing, but its appeal was stretched quite thin while playing through the main Festival Mode. The Olympic and Dream events are all decent enough, but like many Wii games, sketchy, inconsistent and inaccurate controls mar the experience. I’ll be starting my review of this game sometime this week.

Nathalie and I started playing the a boy and his blob remake from WayForward this weekend and we both like it quite a bit so far. The original is one of my favourite NES games and I am not disappointed in any way with how the remake was handled. The art is beautiful and the music is quite pleasant as well. The only knock I have against it is that there is little to no direction for the player, though it is easy enough to figure everything out.

Once I’m done with my website maintenance stuff and old computer part salvaging, I’ll be turning on my Xbox 360 and playing Brutal Legend some more, tackling a few levels of Axel & Pixel and hopefully polishing off South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!

I meant to pick up .detuned and Mushroom Wars on PSN over the weekend but never got a chance, I’ll likely get around to that after lunch too.

[10:33 AM] I managed to salvage the font I was looking for from my old PC and I tweaked the Game Forward logo a bit in anticipation of the upcoming redesign.

Rock Band for iPhone and iPod Touch[10:47 AM] Feeling pretty nauseous right now, which is always unpleasant. I’m downloading Rock Band for iPhone/iPod Touch right now and will likely add my impressions to this post later on if I manage to play it enough. 20 songs for $10 is a pretty good deal as far as I’m concerned though, I can tell you that much already.

[12:17 PM] Well I played through the first two cities of the World Tour mode in Rock Band for iPhone/iPod Touch and I can’t say that I’m very impressed at all with the product. On the plus side, you are getting 20 songs to play for $9.99 and current offers in the in-game music store are two songs for $0.99. These songs are all recycled from previous Rock Band games however and their sound quality is suspect to say the least. The compression used here is heavy and the songs have a muffled, scratchy sound. At first, I thought they were mono, but it seems more like they used joint stereo encoding here.

When starting or continuing a World Tour, you have the option of playing solo or online. I’m honestly not sure what playing online does, but it is certainly not what I was expecting. Once you do that, you are presented with five cities to choose from, each of which has four songs to complete and 20 stars to obtain. After selecting a song, you choose which musician to play as. The band members are pre-set and you are not given a chance to create or customize the rockers, or even choose a band name.

I got frustrated with the controls of Rock Band for iPhone/iPod Touch very quickly. The game is played with your device in the vertical position and when playing one of the three instrument a series of buttons appears at the bottom of the screen. The gameplay is straightforward and familiar and it makes great use of the multitouch capabilities of the iPhone/iPod Touch .The on-screen buttons however simply feel too small and I find myself missing notes, seemingly for no reason. The lack of any tactile feedback hurts and can make it difficult to nail multi-note chords.

Another thing that I frankly find very odd is that the game doesn’t seem to be calibrated properly. I find myself having to tap the buttons a bit early to score properly, even though the hit timing window feels very loose. This could have to do with the fact that this version of Rock Band is seemingly running at about 15 frames per second and is really showing its mobile phone roots. I’m not sure, but in any case it doesn’t feel quite right compared to the console versions or Rock Band: Unplugged on PSP.

What frustrates me the most so far is the lack of a lefty flip option. While it really doesn’t make a lot of difference when playing the instruments, I found the vocals very hard to control. The vocal mode places all of the buttons vertically along the left side of the screen. It is expected that you’ll play using your left thumb only, but in the case of someone like myself with limited dexterity in my left hand this is next to impossible. I found myself flipping my device on its side in order to play the vocal mode. Had Harmonix provided the option to flip the game to a horizontal mode it would be much easier to play, despite having less room for the note highway.

Even with these complaints, Rock Band is the most full-featured music game on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform and most definitely worth playing for rhythm game fans.

I can’t help but feel like Harmonix missed an opportunity here though. Since Apple now allows apps to access your iPhone/iPod Touch music library, they could have incorporated an option to play along to your own music like they did with the iPod game Phase some time ago.



I’ve been pretty much stopped dead in my tracks as far as work goes because of joint pain. It’s mostly in my arms, but my hips are affected as well and everything is quite stiff. I’m really hoping to get some (any) work done this week. Seeing work posted on the site helps me feel better and really lifts my spirits.

I’ve been evaluating the CogniFit Personal Coach software and I find that it’s really quite thorough and impressive. Because of the nature of the program, I’ll need to keep using it for at least another two weeks before I can give it a fair evaluation and come up with material to ask the people behind it. It’s proving to be a very fun and interesting project, though some of the precision mouse-controlled tasks are difficult to perform with my joint pain flared up.

Like millions around the world, I’ve been glued to my Wii, playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii as much as possible given my recent arm pain. I am almost halfway through the game already and I am thoroughly enjoying it for the most part. It’s the 2D Mario game I’ve been waiting for for almost 20 years and it really feels like “Super Mario 4“.

The level design is fantastic and the game is far more challenging than New Super Mario Bros., especially if you are trying to get every Star Coin in the game. The Penguin and Propeller power-ups are both great additions to the series and make for some interesting new ways to clear courses.

Some of the hint movies that you unlock are absolutely amazing and show off a new layer of depth related to “comboing” your way through courses or the all-new multiplayer mode. Much like when I learned about speed Tetris, my mind was a bit blown when I saw some of these hint movies and I realized there was an entirely different (and hardcore) way to play Mario beyond simple speed runs.

Mastering the multiplayer mode will require practise and extreme co-ordination between all of the players involved and quite frankly, Nathalie and I will never be able to pull of many of these tricks. I consider myself a skilled player and she is average and when we play together the result is often frantic and chaotic, though in the most fun way possible.

The only complaints I have are related to the controls. As I detailed last week, I hate playing with the Wii Remote sideways for any length of time. It and its d-pad are simply too small and often result in me having “claw hand” after even a short session. Though there are actions mapped to tilting and shaking the Wii Remote, they could have easily been mapped to an analog stick or shoulder button on the Classic Controller or a GameCube controller without detracting from the gameplay at all. There is a Wii Remote and Nunchuck option, but it does not allow for d-pad control.

If you are like me and primarily playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii as a solo experience, you won’t find much new here outside of the new power-ups and tacked-on motion control actions. There are familiar desert, water and ice worlds. There are also ghost houses, mini-games and baddies on the map that attempt to impede your progress.  None of this is bad however and the game really does feel like a long-awaited sequel to Super Mario Bros. 3 with a bit of Yoshi tossed in.

The game is in many ways making me feel 20 years younger when I play it and I will likely collect every Star Coin and unlock every secret. It will likely be remembered as one of my favourites of the decade despite my issues with the control scheme. This game is making me smile through an otherwise difficult time, which is a huge thing for any game to be able to do.