Tag Archives: Namco

Pool Pro Online 3 Review: DLC Kept in Check

Pool has always been a classic game that has shown up on every single platform imaginable, starting from the PC to the PSP, DS, and mobile devices.  But pool hasn’t translated very well onto the iPhone and, well, there aren’t many “pool” game choices to choose from.  I know that before Pool Pro Online 3, searching for a solid-looking pool game was more than difficult.

But Namco has actually, for once, delivered a surprisingly solid pool experience onto the iPhone.  While it’s one with more or less no point, the online play was quite smooth along with sporting some impressive graphics.  While I had many issues with their more modern games such as Ridge Racer and Ace Combat, Pool Pro Online 3 has me thinking twice about what Namco can do.

In other words, it’s a game done right.

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Graphics: While these aren’t the best graphics for a pool game, they’re good enough to look over and deem as acceptable.  There could maybe be some polishing up here and there, but other than that, I thought the graphics were very well done.

You don’t need WiFi: The major problem I have with multiplayer games is the fact that it’s only one thing and one thing only: online.  You need some sort of internet connection to play, earn points, etc.  But for Pool Pro Online, the single player is enough to keep you busy, and I must say that the single player is almost identical to the online multiplayer.

Controls: Swiping across the screen was quite responsive, aiming was easy to do, and shooting was a cinch.  It’s very difficult to mess up pool controls, but hey, I thought the sensitivity was just perfect.

Acceptable online multiplayer: The online multiplayer isn’t great, but it’s acceptable.  I would have liked it if it was more of a live atmosphere without having to wait for the player to make a move, send that move into the server, play the sequence on my device, then take my shot.  Overall though, the multiplayer was quite smooth.

DLC kept in check: I’m glad to see Namco take steps towards the right direction and realize that delivering a 10 minute game with 20 packs of DLC doesn’t cut it.  They controlled themselves in this game with adding just one, very reasonable DLC pack to the game; a move that caught me by surprise but one I was very happy with.

Dislikes

No point: There’s really no point to gain credits, compile points, or even play the game for that matter.  New items won’t increase your power shot or your statistics; they only make you look cooler.  While I did have fun playing pool whenever I wanted, some people may just find Pool Pro to be a bit too… shallow.

Crash and burn: Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it did happen to me once while trying to connect to multiplayer.  The game crashed on me, and I had to restart my device to get the game to start working again.  Hasn’t happened to me since, but just thought I’d throw that one out there.

In my opinion, Pool Pro Online is a bit above average, and it’s a solid attempt at pool on the iPhone.  I had a few moments of fun with it, and it definitely shows the progress Namco has taken on the iPhone.  And above all else, I’m more than glad to see only one DLC item in there; one that is reasonably priced and makes sense.  But still, it would have been nice to put some motivation into this game.

Pool Pro Online 3 was developed by Namco, and I played through version 1.0.1 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $4.99.


Ridge Racer Accelerated Review: Another Yet Lackadaisical Port

I’ve probably mentioned this way too many times, but I loved Ridge Racer.  The PSP version was just so great, and it almost seemed unlikely for Namco to butcher it on the iPhone.  With so many assets and tools available to Namco, I can’t seem to understand why they seem to think it’s ok to nickel and dime their customers.

They’ve been in the business for a while now, going back to the arcades with Galaga and Pac-Man, and I would think that they would have learned by now.  That doesn’t seem to be the case with Ridge Racer, and while it’s slightly better than Ace Combat, it’s still very disappointing.

Anyone looking for a true Ridge Racer experience shouldn’t find one here, and with such a lack of true content and more of a DLC extravaganza, Namco has managed to once again destroy a once beautiful franchise.

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Graphics: Not as bright as the PSP version, but really not as bad as the screenshots show.  The car graphics are very blocky, but otherwise, the backgrounds are quite impressive.  Again, don’t expect PSP graphics with this one, but don’t expect pixelated, throw-up.  It actually looks pretty nice, and I was quite impressed.

Controls: The accelerometer controls were accurate, concise, and well executed.  I didn’t really find much wrong with it, and it should be enough for those looking for good controls.  I found it quite easy to learn without any auto-acceleration along with a good feel of drifting and turning.  If you were worried about the controls, worry no longer.

Faithful: I’m was going to hold back on this one, but I’m just going to say it.  Personally, I think it’s a faithful port of the PSP version.  Sure there is a lot of content missing and the graphics aren’t as impressive, but honestly, it feels like Ridge Racer.  As a Ridge Racer fan myself, I knew that I was playing the racing game on my iPhone.  The only thing missing is, of course, content and other major features.  But I should give props to Namco for making the game atleast feel like Ridge Racer.

Dislikes

Collision: When you collide with your opponent, almost nothing seems to happen.  No crashing sound, no sparks, nada, zilch, nothing.  It’s quite weird if you ask me, as in any racer there should be some sort of crash detection.  Instead, all that happens is that your opponent seems to scoot a bit forward while you fall back, almost as if your car was made of sponge.  No matter how arcade a racer is, this seems to be pushing the boundaries a little too much.

Difficulty: I haven’t gone through one track.  Not once.  That’s all thanks to the difficulty of the game, with a time limit between checkpoints.  If you don’t reach a checkpoint in time, you lose the race and must start over again.  The time provided between each checkpoint almost seems impossible also, and even without making mistakes, you’re bound to lose.  I was somewhat frustrated as I haven’t been able to beat one track once in my hours of hands-on time.

Nickel and Dime: I’m not a big fan of the “nickel and dime” method taken by Namco, and for that matter, any game in the App Store.  But for $2.99, you receive around 3 or 4 tracks along with 2 levels of cars.  The third level for cars will cost you another $1.99 while 6 tracks will cost another $2.99.  While Ridge Racer on the PSP cost me around $30, the game should have gone down in price atleast a little bit with such little content.  The original for the PSP can easily be found on ebay or Amazon for significantly less, and the iPhone version doesn’t even feature half the content as on the PSP.  I’m not satisfied with this nickel and dime method so far, and as an iPhone gamer, I say give us more.

Content: As mentioned before, you’ll only get 3 or 4 tracks across 3 gameplay modes.  While 3 gameplay modes sounds quite extensive, the lack of a campaign or career mode makes this game feel a little bit… un-racer like.  While you’ll play this just for a quick pick-up-and-play, the amount of tracks is quite saddening, and no one really wants to buy more for another $2.99.  For now, this is one skeleton of a game.

Camera: I’ve never seen a more jerky camera.  While playing the game, I would find the camera shaking back and forth throughout the ride, causing somewhat of an unpleasant view.  I’m not sure why Namco thought this was okay, because for the rest of us, it’s not.  I couldn’t help but feel quite nauseous and slightly dizzy after such a shaky ride, and it would be helpful if they could fix the camera.

Lack of Multiplayer: In this day and age, multiplayer is clearly necessary for a game’s success.  NOVA shows quite a success due to multiplayer; EA Mobile’s games have almost all been equipped with local multiplayer options.  The list goes on and on, and the lack of multiplayer in the game is quite saddening.  Even bluetooth multiplayer would have been welcoming, but alas, a lack of multiplayer may lead to the game’s ultimate demise.

Sense of Speed: Basically, it feels like I’m going 20 mph in a 90 mph zone.  It’s almost as if I’m driving a golf cart rather than a full-featured race car, and these cars don’t exactly drive the way they look.  The backgrounds are sleek and all, but true racing fans will find the speed slow, monotonous, and a bit off for a racer such as this.  While the higher level cars, such as the level 5 car pack available as DLC, are quite faster, most will find the game too slow to be considered a racer.

As you can see, I wasn’t exactly happy with the Ridge Racer port to the iPhone, and I’m pretty sure first-time buyers won’t either.  If you’re looking for a quality, content-filled racer, look at Real Racing or Need for Speed because you won’t find it here.  I may see some Ridge Racer fanboys feel some enjoyment from this title, but otherwise, it’s best to avoid this.

While I have received news that free content updates will start arriving as early as January 2010, the current version just doesn’t have enough.  I’m sure most of us have seen developers promise updates but never follow through, have we not?  Either way, this content-lacking racer is best avoided until Namco takes the iPhone with seriousness rather than mediocrity.

Ridge Racer Accelerated was developed by Namco, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $2.99 with a machine pack DLC for $1.99 and a 6-track pack for $2.99.


Sales from Gameloft and Namco, Most at $0.99

Gameloft has been solid, Namco has been up and down.  Either way, both have decided on peggling their iPhone games to $0.99, with some games from Namco going to $2.99 from the original $5.99 price tag.  Here’s a list of some games that I highly recommend, and more can be found in the App Store.

Gameloft (All $0.99)

Namco (Until December 27th)

If I were you, I would pretty much grab all the Gameloft titles, and Garters and Ghouls and Pac-Man from Namco.  Others are certainly worth a look, but those seem to be the best out of the few.

Details and Screenshots of Upcoming Update to ‘Ace Combat Xi’

Ace Combat Xi was somewhat of a disappointment with very little missions, a huge amount of DLC, and not much in it for the price tag.  While I didn’t exactly enjoy the iPhone version, a new update is in the works from Namco that will add 3 new singleplayer missions for free.

I know many people, including me, have been disappointed with Namco’s latest price model.  DLC has never been quite established yet due to many reasons, including light abuse from games such as Ace Combat, and I’ve never been a fan at all.  The included missions in Ace Combat have not been too many, but the update should atleast add another hour to the gameplay.

For those who were disappointed, this update should slightly mend your broken heart.  The update is in the works and should be with us either this month or next.

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Ridge Racer: Accelerated Released, Priced $2.99

I swear I bought Ridge Racer on the PSP for almost $30.  Of course, the game on the iPhone doesn’t look anywhere near the PSP version, and while disappointing, still promising to see what direction Namco is heading.  Although I didn’t like their other PSP outing on the iPhone, we can only hope.

Ridge Racer was released back in 2006 when the PSP was first released from Sony, and I remember many a day playing this game and totally wiping out the competition.  Of course, my PSP eventually became very dusty and almost never touched due to the acquired iPhone, but that’s another story in and of itself.

Ridge Racer for the iPhone is priced at $2.99, and we’ll post a review once we get some hands-on time.

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