With RPG Elements - The Search Bar!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Xbox Live 60 dollars!

Microsoft came out today and announced that starting November 1st Xbox Live would now cost 60 dollars for the full year subscription. 3 months will cost 25 dollars and one month will now be 10. I understand that as inflation and the general cost of doing business goes up the price we pay for Live would need to go up but in this case I believe it's kind of crap that MS is raising the price.

When the live service debuted back in 2002 it was like dropping an atom bomb on the console gaming community. It was a way for the first time for console gamers to meet up online and play with each other and it took off.

As the years went on Xbox Live set the standard for console online games, when Sony would launch the PSN with the PS3 it even followed in Live's footsteps.

When the 360 launched Live was upgraded to match the 360 with a new dashboard and new features that the new hardware allowed the service to use. But this is when the problems started.

With every new dashboard update it became more laggy. It became a sluggish mess and just trying to get to your games and videos became a test in patience.

Facebook, twitter, Netflix, all the other add on crap they've added to the dashboard is doing nothing besides bogging it down and making it run like garbage. The streaming ads they don't help either. All this crap all these unneeded features that could be avoided if MS would allow a web browser to run on the 360 and then you wouldn't need all these apps you could just use the browser to tweet and facebook.

On the first Xbox I remember Live being down maybe 3 times over the years and it may of all been maintenance. After the 360 came out Live was down all the time and I'm sure we all remember the December it was down for almost 3 weeks because of what MS claimed were to many new users. They knew how their machines were selling around the holidays that year they should of been ready. Lately it's been nothing but service outages and lame excuses from MS. Then they go and raise the price of their broken service.

It's come to my attention lately the Xbox Live Enforcement service is a busted mess of contradictions and nonsense. Hope you never get falsely banned from the service as you're boned and you will probably not get back on. It's like this, if someone and I mean anyone calls Xbox Live and says that the gamer tag you own and use has been stolen the enforcement department lock the gamertag for 10 days to investigate the claim. You can call with all your personal info stuff only you and Xbox Live would know and you're still locked out. It's crap and I've heard they've revised it somewhat but it's still not perfect.

In the end I think MS needs to fix the issues with Live before they go raising the price. How about a cheaper price for people that just want their machine to play games and go ahead and charge extra for the people that need it to be their one stop shop for all things online.

Friday, August 27, 2010

DoDonPachi: Resurrection

So the other day hailed the release of DoDonPachi: Resurection on the various idevices out there. As soon as I was able to download the game from the Apple App Store I did and immediately started playing it. I'm going to tell you right off the bat it's a good game but read on for more details.

Cave is a video game company known for it's scrolling shooters and DonPachi/DoDonPachi is probably their biggest series the one everyone who is into shooters knows of. Their games have been out in arcades and home consoles in Japan for years. I think DonPachi was in the U.S. arcades and maybe on the U.S. Saturn but I'm not positive on that one.

Lately they've been testing the waters outside of Japan with region free versions of some of their 360 games and by putting games out on the iphone. I reviewed the last iphone game, Espgaluda 2 on this very blog a few weeks ago. You can read that review here.

http://withrpgelements.blogspot.com/2010/07/iphone-game-review-espgaluda-2.html


So now we have DoDonPachi: Resurrection for the idevices. This game first off unlike Espgaluda 2 works on the ipad so you can get big screen bullet hell on you ipad.

DDP:R is the fifth game in the series and picks up after the events of part 4 with the DonPachi squad going back to base until the latest threat rises. One thing I've noticed with Cave shooters is that the stories are really fleshed out. Most of these type of games are just fly to boss and kill it then move on finish game for a high score. But these games always to me at least have very interesting stories and this one isn't any different.

Instead of typing it all out I'm taking this from Wikipedia...

After the turmoil caused by the machines' assault on Lunapolis (as depicted in the previous installment), peace seems to have been restored, with the legendary DonPachi Corps retreating to its HQ in a space-time fold. Six years later, anomalies are detected in the space-time fabric, yet tests reveal nothing out of order, with the portals regularly functioning for both teleportation and time travel; also, the leader of the DonPachi squadron Colonel Longhena Gottvin dismisses the matter due to the lack of actual danger.

Neverthless, a technician delves deeper into the anomaly, discovering that something has infiltrated the HQ computer systems and is using the portals to send large quantities of materials and data to the past, spreading out like a virus and quickly evolving. In an ironic twist, the virus is discovered to be the program originally installed in the Element Dolls six years ago, now reaching beyond the DonPachi Corps programming and seeking to annihilate the human race in retaliation for their "enslavement" (after the war, they were sealed on the Moon) by waging war in the past rather than in the present: unsettled, the Colonel authorizes the last transport ship to time jump in order to fight back the invasion before future changes. However, he states: "Start over from the past... I never thought of that", echoing the ideas of mankind's imperfection which has always been a recurring theme in the series.

And once again, the three pilots jump back in time to 2008 and enter the fray, the transport ship being targeted as soon as it exits the portal: the Element Daughters, gigantic evolutions of the Dolls, are awaiting...

The bee is still humming.



The game starts out with you choosing a mode and a difficulty. You can play the arcade game verison 1.5 or the new iphone mode. Arcade made is well the arcade game. You choose a ship one out of three and you're off. The three ships differ in shot spread, with ship A shooting pretty much straight and B and C spreading out their shoots more then A. After choosing a ship you can pick the type of powers you want. You can play with the standard ship shoots and you can drop bombs, You can power your gun up faster but can't use any bombs or a mix of both. After that the game sends you into battle and it's up to you to save the world.

The game controls like Espgaluda 2 did on the iphone which is perfect. You use your finger to drag the ship around the screen, the shooting is done automatically. The various buttons run along the side of the screen and can be edited into preset spaces if just on the right or left side of the screen isn't something you want. The buttons control your shot being on or off, the switching to laser, entering Hypermode and dropping bombs. As with Espgaluda 2 they never get in the way and work when you hit them. I'm going to say so far they don't get in the way even less than they did in Espgaluda 2 where I sometimes found myself sitting the shield button on accident a few times.

You have two forms of attack, the standard shot and the laser blast. The laser blast shoots directly forward in a thick beam of power but it also blocks enemy laser blasts allowing you to cut through the enemies and finish them off. I found it extremely useful during bosses and would just end up switching to it at the start of a boss fight, using it the whole battle. You can also drop bombs, these are some killer weapons that just devastate the normal enemies and do a massive amount of damage on the bosses. One thing about the bombs I like is if you have any in stock and take a hit you don't lose a life but you drop a bomb really making you feel like you have way more lives then you really have. You also have a meter that fills as you kill enemies and when it's full you can unleash your Hyper mode attack which takes whichever weapon you're using and amps the power up significantly. This weapon in shot mode will destroy enemy shots and the laser mode destroys lasers. It's pretty cool to use it and it feels like you're giving the enemies a taste of bullet hell for them to deal with.

Now you also have iphone mode which is similar to the above with a few changes, it's called Slaughter and Menace. You have a meter and it fills to the left and right. As you kill enemies it fills to the left or the S side. When you fill the S side up all the way your standard shots get maxed out but as you shoot you loose multiplier. You'll see in iphone mode your ship has a small field around it. If enemy shots pass into this field and don't hit you it's called scraping and that fill the right side of the meter or the M side and when that bar is full your multiplier goes up. When the M side fills your Hyper meter gets a boost and fills faster. When you activate your hyper cannon you are stationary and can't move but you can rotate the cannon left and right to target enemies. It's an interesting mode and I plan on spending some more time with it.

The graphics and sound are top notch. The game looks amazing on the iphone but I notice some major slowdown mainly when I use bombs so it's not a big deal. I am playing it on the 3GS so if I had an iphone 4 maybe it would run smoother but again the slowdown isn't really that bad but it's there. The music is awesome. I cranked it up the first time I played and I love it all. The title screen song is my favorite though.

DoDonPachi: Resurrection is an amazing game. It's even more amazing playing it on a mobile device but that's the age we live in. If you love scrolling shooters you need to pick this up. For the first few days it's on sale for 5 bucks and it's a steal at that price. I've only finished the arcade mode with one ship at the time of this writing but I'm no where near done with it. I still need to dot he second loop and get into the iphone mode a bit more. While I think it's a great game between the two that are out for the iphone I'd have to give the edge to Espgaluda 2 I don't know why but I like it a little more.

DoDonPachi: Resurrection - 9 out of 10

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops and Modding

Treyarch recently announced they were going to be releasing mod tools for Call of Duty: Black Ops sometimes after the game's release. After Infinity Ward decided that Modern Warfare 2 didn't need the ability to be modded I'm glad to see Treyarch stepping up and letting the mod community get their hands on the newest COD game.

I played MW2 on the PS3 but if the PC version had the mod tools released and mods were being made for it I would of picked up the PC version instead. As unbalanced as MW2 was and still is it would of made the game so much better if the modders could of tweaked the settings and actually made the game playable.

So with Mods coming and the announcement of dedicated servers it looks like COD: Black Ops if shaping up to be the best COD yet.

Plus zombies, don't forget this one will have zombies too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Broken Links On This Blog

So it came to my attention today that the links on this blog were not clickable. I've gone back and fixed it and there will not be a problem in the future.


69th post!

Catherine

So this game Catherine is coming to us by way of Atlus. It's their first PS3/360 game. Yeah they've published some including my beloved Demon's Souls but Catherine is the first "next gen" game they're making in house. (Can we still call it next gen? I wonder why people still call it next gen?)

Anyway I don't know what type of game it is, I'm assuming a RPG style game of some kind but what I do know is it's name sake, Catherine is all kinds of hot! The whole game oozes sex but in a good way and not a need to get some penicillin kind of way. I really hope this game gets a uncut U.S. release we need more games like this one here.

And Catherine is HOT! Did I mention that?



HOT!


Official site, go check out the hotness!

http://cathy.atlus.co.jp/product/

Torchlight coming to consoles!

So it looks like Torchlight is coming to the consoles. I recently played through the PC version and a review can be found a few entries down but I'll say here it's really good.

I not sure exactly how they're planning on making the controls work for this but something along the lines of Deathspank or Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance would work well with this game. As I played through the PC version I kept thinking how it would work on the consoles and I think the above idea is perfect for this game.

It's cool to see this little budget priced PC game is getting the success and attention it deserves. Because it really is a fantastic game and the more people that get to play it the better.

Carl of Duty, I thought this was funny.

We all remember Reginald VelJohnson star of Family Matters and the first 2 Die Hard movies. Well look at this! His own game!

It's a play on Call of Duty: Black Ops, as if you didn't know that.


Another Flash Game: One Button Arthur

I was reading over on Rock Paper Shotgun about a flash game called One Button Arthur. Apparently it's the sequel to another flash game called One Button Bob which I have not played but I plan on doing that after I write this. (I went and played One Button Bob and I totally played it before but I'd completely forgotten I had) OBA is an interesting game. You control King Arthur going to look for Excalibur but there is a catch, you can only use one button to control Arthur. On each screen said one button does something different. It can make Arthur jump, run or just change direction.

Surprisingly it works really well. The puzzles are not super difficult but some can take a little thinking to make it through them.

It's a simple game to play and you should probably try it out. The link to Armor Games web site is bellow. They've made a lot of great flash games in the past and you should probably check them out as well.

http://armorgames.com/play/6700/one-button-arthur

Coma

I played through a flash game last night called Coma. I played it on the popular flash gaming site Newgrounds.

Coma is a 2D atmospheric platformer with light puzzle elements. What I mean by light puzzle elements is that the game has puzzles but they're not very hard to figure out and the game is more about the journey then solving puzzles.

As I was playing Coma I couldn't help but be reminded of the art style of Limbo. Coma even makes reference to finding a sister and I'm wondering if that's a reference to Limbo.

Coma controls really well with a floaty jump mechanic that works for this game. The visuals and music are really well done not just for a flash game but it stands up with some full retail games.

If you have a spare 15-20 minutes you should check out Coma.

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/541124

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bear Grylls doesn't play games!

I was reading over on Kotaku about a video where Bear Grylls doesn't know about video games. That all well and good but the comments on the video about, "How could he not know about games??!" They're kind of crap.

The dudes life is a video game! He's goes to these exotic locations and does some crazy things, things that you and me both wouldn't ever dream of doing. The man is a total badass, regardless of the stuff from the beginning of the Man Vs Wild show. Even with some of that stuff being staged you can't stage jumping off a giant mountain or eating animal poop for water. He's made of iron and one of the toughest people on earth ever.

Chuck Norris has nothing on Bear Grylls! TOTAL BADASS!

Here's the video from MTV.com

The rumored Rock Band 3 track list.

I've seen the "rumored" set list for Rock Band 3 and I must say it's looking to have the best set of music in any music game.

Here's the list and I think it's an amazing set of songs. I'm glad to see more Devo in these games but I wish they'd picked a song other than Whip It. They have so many other songs that are just amazing they could of gone with something that isn't Whip It.

Some of the other bands I'm glad to see on here, Primus, Queens of the Stone Age, Chicago and Yes. But again I'm excited about the whole list of songs.

1. Amy Winehouse – Rehab
2. Anthrax – Caught in a Mosh
3. At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor
4. Avenged Sevenfold – Beast and the Harlot
5. The B-52s – Rock Lobster
6. The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Live)
7. Big Country – In a Big Country
8. Blondie – Heart of Glass
9. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Get Up, Stand Up
10. The Bronx – False Alarm
11. Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4
12. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
13. David Bowie – Space Oddity
14. Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
15. Def Leppard – Foolin’
16. Devo – Whip It
17. Dio – Rainbow in the Dark
18. Dire Straits – Walk of Life
19. The Doobie Brothers – China Grove
20. The Doors – Break on Through (To the Other Side)
21. Dover – King George
22. Echo & the Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
23. Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
24. Faith No More – MidLife Crisis
25. Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot
26. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1
27. Foreigner – Cold as Ice
28. Golden Earring – Radar Love
29. HIM – Killing Loneliness
30. Huey Lewis and the News – The Power of Love
31. Hypernova – Viva la Resistance
32. Ida Maria – Oh My God
33. INXS – Need You Tonight
34. The J. Geils Band – Centerfold
35. James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)
36. Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
37. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Crosstown Traffic
38. Joan Jett – I Love Rock N’ Roll
39. John Lennon – Imagine
40. Juanes – Me Enamora
41. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
42. ManĂ¡ – Oye Mi Amor
43. Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People
44. Metric – Combat Baby
45. The Muffs – Outer Space
46. Night Ranger – Sister Christian
47. Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
48. Paramore – Misery Business
49. Phish – Llama
50. Phoenix – Lasso
51. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close to Me
52. Poni Hoax – Antibodies
53. Pretty Girls Make Graves – Something Bigger, Something Brighter
54. Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
55. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
56. Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows
57. Rammstein – Du Hast
58. The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
59. Raveonettes – Last Dance
60. Rilo Kiley – Portions of Foxes
61. Riverboat Gamblers – Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead
62. Roxette – The Look
63. Slipknot – Before I Forget
64. Smash Mouth – Walkin’ on the Sun
65. The Smiths – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
66. The Sounds – Living in America
67. Spacehog – In the Meantime
68. Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle
69. Stone Temple Pilots – Plush
70. Swingin’ Utters – This Bastard’s Life
71. T.Rex – 20th Century Boy
72. Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
73. Tegan and Sara – The Con
74. Them Crooked Vultures – Dead End Friends
75. Tokio Hotel – Humanoid
76. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – I Need to Know
77. The Vines – Get Free
78. War – Low Rider
79. Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London
80. The White Stripes – The Hardest Button to Button
81. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again
82. The Who – I Can See for Miles
83. Yes – Roundabout

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Castle Crashers on the PSN August 31st

Castle Crashers the second game from the Behemoth who also brought us Alien Hominid is coming out on the PSN at the end of the month. This about 2 years after the game came out on the XBLA. Castle Crashers is a side scrolling beat'em up in the same vein as Streets of Rage or the TMNT arcade games.

You pick one of four knight Red, Orange, Green and Blue each with their own special magic attacks. As you fight you gain experience and level up which allows you to use more weapons and more powerful magic.

I played the hell out of the game when it came to XBLA and anyone who hasn't played it should definitely pick up the PSN version when it comes out on the 31st.

Mass Effect 2 on the PS3

So it was announced earlier this week that the beloved Mass Effect franchise would be coming to the PS3 in the form of Mass Effect 2. In this time of exclusivity disappearing from gaming and the fact that Bioware was bought by EA and EA is in the business of making money this comes as little shock. EA is going to want a potential game of the year to be on every platform possible so here we go with Mass Effect 2 on the PS3.

Some people may say Mass Effect 2 is a game you need to have played the first one to fully enjoy and I some what agree. Part 2 has plenty of plot points and little nods back to the original game. A lot of these are affected by the decisions you made in the first game. Which we all know is not available on the PS3 and probably will not be due to Microsoft publishing the first game. Bioware is promising some sort of Prologue first game recap thing at the beginning of ME2 to get the new players up to speed with what went down. I can only imagine they'll include some of the choices in this for the player to make to influence the second game. Maybe they'll add in flash back type things during the main game of part 2 to let you play the important parts from Mass Effect to let you make these choices. Who knows but I'm sure Bioware has something that will kind of work up their sleeves.

Out of all this ME2 on the PS3 business I think it's funny how Microsoft is handling the whole thing. They remind me of an angry child, crying because someone else got an ice cream cone. They released a press statement saying that with all the available pay for DLC that the 360 is the only place to play Mass Effect 2 in it's full splendor. Didn't this game come out on the PC? Let me check..... Yeah it did and guess what? It has all the same DLC, a better control setup and it's 20 dollars cheaper than the 360 version. The first Mass Effect was a better game on the PC too with a ton of the bugs fixed and the control scheme was way tighter. Microsoft needs to get over themselves, they're slowly loosing the lead they had this generation of consoles and they can't handle it. Not to say they're going to lose it when it's all said and done but a lot of companies are actually starting to make worthwhile ports or just basing their games on the PS3 so the balance that should of been there from day one is starting to be seen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mortal Kombat Arcade Collection?!?

After my moment of silence here for Midway over the weekend I'm glad the first thing I'm writing about this week is more Mortal Kombat news.

CVG has the story here,

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=259982?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=CVG-General-RSS


It looks like the rumored collection would include Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 plus the Ultimate Mortal Kombat. Ultimate Mortal Kombat was an enhanced version of MK3 with a lot of the characters that didn't make the cut in the original MK3.

The listing was put up on Shopto.net then taken down and according to CVG they were the second retailer to put it up but with no mention of the first one to do so.

I for one would love to see this come out. While we had version of MK2 and 3 on the PSN and XBLA they weren't the best ports. The PSN verison of MK2 was buggy as hell and to me the XBKA MK3 never felt right. If these are just basic arcade perfect versions with new shiny HD graphics then I am totally down to play this. Mortal Kombat 2 was the pinnacle of the series, while not all about the blood and gore the toning down of the violence in later games really hurt the core idea of the series.

I've been hearing some good things about the new Mortal Kombat that's coming out and I hope it's a return to the series roots in both gameplay and the amount of gore. Until then I hope to see this collection come out so we can all get ready to dive back into some Mortal Kombat.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Goodbye Midway




The above image was tweeted by an employee of Midway today. Today was the last day the Midway office was open as the employees packed up to move on over to Warner Bros.

Regardless of recent output from Midway in the past they made some classic games. Everyone remembers Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, Spy Hunter and all the other classic games Midway put their name to.

But how many people remember Satan's Hollow? You and your ship against the forces of hell. I thought the game was amazing when I played it as a kid. You actually fought the head of Satan, awesome!




Oh and I almost forgot freaking Hydro Thunder! I loved playing Hydro Thunder in the arcade it was a blast. It is definitely one of my favorite racing games in the arcade and I hardly ever touched racing games when I use to go to arcades. But if they had a Hydro Thunder machine I was down. Hearing the announcer call me crazy when I would choose the Razorback and then destroy whoever I was racing against with it.

Midway may of put out some not so stellar games in the last few years but I can say I'll miss the Midway of old. Sorry to see them go out like that.

STALKER 2 coming in 2012!

Today GSC Game World announced they're working on a true sequel to 2007's STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl and it should be coming out in 2012.

They released Clear Sky which was a prequel to the events in SOC and then the follow up to all the stuff that happened in the first game Call of Pripyat came out after.

GSC is considering all three of those games to be part 1 in the STALKER story and now we'll finally see the true sequel to those games.

STALKER 2 will not use the X-Ray engine with GSC making an all new multiplayform engine for the new game.

I'm excited to see more STALKER. The series especially Shadow of Chernobyl is one of my favorites and I'm looking forward to exploring the zone once again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Id Tech 5 on the iphone

Quakecon is going on right now and while I'm disappointed we're not going to see anything about DOOM 4 we did get some RAGE news.

Id is making a version of RAGE for the iphone running at 60 frames per second and using Id's new Id Tech 5 which is being used for the PC/Console RAGE and DOOM 4.

John Carmack said it would run on the iphone 4 and the 3GS. He also commented that it would look better than anything on the PS2 or the Xbox.

We'll be seeing two versions of RAGE iphone, one later this year and then the full blown version when the PC/Console RAGE comes out.

while I only have a few iphone games I am impressed with a lot of the stuff that's coming out for it as far as games go. I'm really interested in seeing what Id can do with the hardware as they always push there games to take advantage of whatever they're on.


Here's a picture of RAGE on the iphone




And even better here's a video of RAGE running on a iphone 4. This was posted on Game Videos.

Cave Story Appreciation Week! Part 5!

Cave Story started out as a free PC as I've mentioned earlier and earlier this year it was released on the WiiWare service. While being a pretty faithful port somethings were changed and I think for the worse.

The only change that I don't think was that big of a screw up were the graphic changes. The game has a softer look to it now with some of the hard lines smoothed out and more detail added to some of the character models. Here's a side by side comparison of Curly Brace.



The one of the left is the original PC release with the WiiWare version on the right. I really think the graphics are an improvement but something that maybe didn't need to be changed.


Next up they remixed all the music. The option to still have the original music is there and you absolutely need to use it. The remixed music is garbage and most of it is unrecognizable. I was really psyched to hear my favorite song from the Egg Corridor remixed and I couldn't even tell if it was the right song or not. It's a shame they would even attempt to screw with the already wonderful music this game has but they did and it is a complete failure. I would post a video of the new music but I don't think anyone should have to listen to that garbage. Use the original and you'll be fine.

The other big thing they changed was with Balrog. In the PC version whenever Balrog enters he yells out "Huzzah!" It's original it's neat not a phrase you hear often nowadays I really liked it. In the WiiWare version he says "Oh Yeah!" You know like Kool-Aid does when he breaks through a wall. It's not funny or clever or witty it's stupid. Anyone who is into Cave Story, take any person and if you say "Huzzah!" to them, BOOM they instantly think of Balrog. This is one of the main reasons and it may sound like nitpicking but I would never recommend the Wii version over the PC download.

Don't get me wrong Pixel deserves to make money from this amazing game but I'm just not a fan of all the changes they did in this when it came out on WiiWare.

There was an announced PSP version that was suppose to come out in 2007 but from what I've read it's dead in the water and that's fine by me because Pixel wasn't even involved in the making of it. If dude isn't going to get paid he at least needs to be credited for his creation.

Bioshock: Infinite

So after weeks of build up, Irrational games finally announced the new game they're working on and it's another Bioshock. Not a big surprise but the game is different from the Bioshock we've seen.

The setting for this games isn't in the sea but up in the sky. Set aboard a flying city named Columbia you're a disgraced agent named Booker DeWitt. No longer the nameless protagonist of the first Bioshock you're charged with going to the flying city of Columbia to find a woman named Elizabeth. While Columbia was once a great city, an icon to the people it has become a tool for war. Covered in large cannons it floats through the sky ready to unleash war upon the people of I'm guessing the USA or even the world.

Reveal Trailer:




This looks to be Bioshock but in the sky. The woman in the trailer is either using a plasmid or some kind of magic. The giant steam punk robot is probably this game's Big Daddy. The banner seen a little into it has the whole Andrew Ryan propaganda look to it.

I really hope Irrational Games tries to come up with another type of villian for this. After the extremely bad Sophia Lamb in Bioshock 2 who was just a rip off of Andrew Ryan in the first game, I hope they go another direction. I know Irrational didn't do Bioshock 2 but it tainted the idea of Ryan with it's failed copycatting of him. It is cool to see Irrational take the world of Bioshock to another location, the end of the first Bioshock left no loose ends, it had closure, something you don't see in games in these sequel happy days.

I don't like the name, Bioshock: Infinite is a stupid name. I realize they need brand recognition but it's just a bad name. I have read a few things where people thought the first Bioshock should of been called Rapture and I agree about that 100 percent, it would of been a better name. Then with this game they could of called it Columbia or whatever the city ends up being called.

While I think the new Bioshock: Infinite will be a decent game I just hope they make enough changes so it feels somewhat new and not just Bioshock in the air.

Super Mario Advance 4 - Super Mario Bros 3 and the E-reader!

Around the launch of the Game Boy Advance Nintendo started to release the Super Mario Bros on the handheld. Starting with Super Mario Advance which was a re-release of Super Mario 2 with some added features the list goes like this.

Super Mario Advance = Super Mario Bros 2

Super Mario Advance 2 = Super Mario World

Super Mario Advance 3 = Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Super Mario Advance 4 = Super Mario Bros 3 (Yeah that makes sense!)

Anyway, all the games had added content and a few new games modes to make the price of rebuying these old games make sense. Well SMA4: SMB3 had what some are now calling the best add on of all of them. It used the GBA's e-reader peripheral to read trading cards. These cards would let you add new content into the game. Some of it was from past other Mario game and then some of it was exclusive to this release. It's like Nintendo took the best Mario game and just added the best stuff from all the other Mario games to make the ultimate Mario game. What I don't get is why this is a big deal all of a sudden. I don't remember anyone making a big deal out of this feature when the game came out and I certainly wasn't aware of what was in the game. If I had known this I would of bought an e-ready and tracked down all the cards. What I'm excited about is if someone comes up with a way to hack this version with all the added stuff and we see some crazy hacks like we see with Super Mario World.

Here's a video that shows all the added stuff you could of had. It does look really sweet and I would love to try SMB3, my favorite game of all time with all this added stuff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Valve making their own version of Defense of the Ancients?!?

It's been making it's way around the internet the last couple days but some interesting posts from various places are showing Valve might have something new up their sleeves.

It started with the voice of Duke Nukem, Jon St John twittering he was doing voice work for a DOTA game and putting Valve at the end of the twitter. Defense of the Ancients or DOTA for those who may not know is a mod for Warcraft 3 based on a Starcraft map. In it you take control of a "Hero" unit and fight against other players who also control Hero units, one per person. The maps are lane based with usually with one player taking a lane and well, defending it. Your character levels and you can buy and craft items as you play. The levels and items reset after a match is over and you start with a clean slate. I must admit I'm not super familiar with DOTA but I've played League of Legends which is made by a different company with some input from a former DOTA developer and it is really fun but I'm personally not that good at the game.

Valve hired the current DOTA developer Icefrog a little while back as they do like to grab talent from the mod community and I guess we may see a real not mod version of DOTA out of this. While I haven't played the original DOTA I will like to see what Valve will do with this if it is in fact the DOTA people know and not some other project. I think it's cool for Valve to branch off from the FPS and start putting out other games. Alien Swarm was an example of them trying something new and I think it's quite popular so that's cool.

My love for Valve is no secret so I wish them success with any game they put out and I'm looking forward to playing this one.

For more info on Dota look here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dota

To read about League of Legends go here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Legends

Finally the other big DOTA style game Heroes of Newerth which I have never played but I've heard good things about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes_of_Newerth

IOS4 for the iphone. A testimony in pain.

So I like many upgraded to the new iOS4 for my iphone. Everything was okay for a couple days but then the crap started to happen. My apps would crash randomly a problem I never really had before except for one but even then it didn't happen all that often. Then as the apps themselves were updated to be in line with iOS4 the problems grew. Espgaluda 2 my most favorite iphone game became a barely working piece of crap. Constantly crashing, not booting right, it was like I couldn't even leave it without the OS thinking I wanting to multitask so I'm assuming the app was running in the background all the time. All the time until it finally crashed again to shut it down and down it's stayed. I loved being able to play this game but now I can't. Cave put out an update for it that I hope fixes the problem but I'm not ready to deal with trying it out. If it doesn't work I'll be really bummed.

But overall my phone is really laggy now. I'll hit the home button to leave an app and it takes a few moments to leave it. The loading of apps can be hit or miss, sometimes they load sometimes they don't. It's like flipping a coin, the hot new Apple iphone game! Gamble on apps starting!

So today I figured I should get the new 4.02 update with the PDF security hole and what not. Well after taking forever to download it installs, restarts my phone and then the phone never comes back up in itunes. After a long time I decide to pull the plug on the phone and plug it in again. Nothing, the PC let alone itunes doesn't recognize the phone. I shut the phone down and decide to restart phone and PC. Well the phone shuts off but my PC crashed with a blue screen upon it trying to shutdown for the restart. Some USB driver error, whatever it was I'm blaming the upgrade process for my phone because I've never had the error before. It's crap plain and simple, Apple should be ashamed of themselves. It's like they wanted to put out the iphone OS version of Vista.

I've decided that now is the time to roll back the OS on my phone and jailbreak this bitch. Hey Apple! I tried to follow the company line and stick with what you're doing with your phone but I've already felt the pain of the real Vista I don't need your iphone version screwing me over.

Trying Starcraft again, some thoughts (Terran Campaign)

When the first Starcraft came out in 1998 I picked it up, playing it for a little bit and didn't think much of it. I played some multiplayer at a local LAN center and again wasn't that impressed. When it came to my RTS fix back then it was still Warcraft 2 and Red Alert. There was something about Starcraft, well something about it to me that was a bit off. When I saw the original concept shots for the game and it looked similar to Warcraft 2 but in space I was excited for it. Then out of nowhere here we have this isometric view, different graphics and all that jazz. I think I took it to be Blizzard trying to do Command and Conquer and I wasn't having that. If I wanted to play C&C I'd play C&C what I really wanted was more Warcraft from Blizzard.

So with all the love Starcraft 2 is getting I felt left out on the hype so I'm giving the original another shot. Right now I'm at the last mission for the Terran campaign. The story is okay but nothing no one hasn't seen before and I'm judging that by 1998 standards too not just today. The controls and stuff work fine, I mean it's a working RTS. Path finding can be crap at times and I've had units get stuck behind buildings they were building only to be lost forever. While a game like C&C is all about having more numbers I think this is a more rock scissors paper type game. Certain units are best against others and even if you have more numbers if the other side has the counter to what you're using you're done. I'm not a fan of this in RTS I haven't ever and I think it has something to do with why I didn't care for Starcraft when it first came out.

These are just some initial thoughts, I'll post something more substantial when I'm done with the game but I'll do updates as I finish with each race.

Cave Story Appreciation Week! Part 4!

(This post may contain some story spoilers. I'll try and be vague but it may still give something away. Sorry in advance.)


So yeah, more Cave Story! The game is fantastic, it's great and I've been showing my love for the game all week and today is no different. Today I'm talking about the story.

So you start out Cave Story as a dude you're in a cave and you have no idea where to go. As you adventure into the world you find a weapon then you come across a village a village of rabbit people called Mimigas. They're being plagues by an evil Doctor and his two minions, Misery the sorceress and (Huzzah!) Balrog the whatever he's suppose to be. The hero of the village Arthur has been killed in a battle with the Doctor and the remaining Mimigas are just trying to survive. This is where you come in and start to help the Mimigas out with their problem.

You soon learn you have no memory of who you are but you eventually run into people who know you're a "Soldier from the Surface." As the game goes on you learn exactly what that means.

The overall story in Cave Story is a pretty dark one. Many people will die some you can save but most there isn't anything you can do. I'm use to see this type of thing happen in more modern games. A character dying isn't that big of a deal because it happens so much or it's presented in a different way. Cave Story from a graphics stand point takes us back to a time when this didn't happen in games. You made it through the whole game to save the princess a girlfriend or even a pet frog. In the end you were successful and everyone lived happily ever after. As you battle through Cave Story you watch your new allies and even friends die right before your eyes, it's a different dynamic for a game like this. Your direct actions can either save or condemn the one person who knows exactly who you are and why you're on the Mimiga island. If you fail to save this person you will not find out who you are. The writing is done in such a way you feel connected to the people you meet. They personalities of each character is very clear and the writing reflects it well. I played the PC version so I had the fan translation and that was done so well to convey the emotion in this game it's just amazing. When Cave Story ended I actually felt something. I wasn't sad but I had a emotion stirring inside and I think that's part of why I really like this game. It's rare that a game or anything for that matter make me feel something on the inside so when it happens it's special. In an age when developers are trying to give us these emotional experiences with realistic 3D graphics and top notch voice acting to try and make the people seem real to us so we feel for them. I think they need to take a step back and look at Cave Story and how it did what they try to without the fanciness of cell processors and SLI video cards.

Duke Nukem Forever and Gearbox!

So the latest internet gaming rumor is that the company Gearbox makers of the unbelievably awesome Borderlands is going to be finishing Duke Nukem Forever. I think this is pretty good news if it's true.

Duke Nukem is a franchise that many people know but they may not of played any of the game associated with it. The first two Duke Nukem games were 2d side scrolling platformers. They were actually really fun and were an early sign of platforming done right on the PC. Then we had the third game in the series, Duke Nukem 3D. DN3D came out right in the middle of the whole "DOOM Clone" hot time in gaming. But the thing with DN3D was it was an amazing FPS. It mixed great controls, nice graphics, gore and humor in a way we hadn't really seen in the FPS genre before. Then rumors of a new Duke game started to surface. Duke Nukem Forever or Fourever if you want a stupid number tied in with the sequels name, was suppose to be out more than 10 years ago. 3D Realms restarted the development process a ton during the 10 year period. Anytime a new thing was introduced into the FPS genre they needed to have it, engine switches and other nonsense held up development. Well a few months ago 3D Realms announced they were closing and Duke Nukem Forever was never going to happen. They a few contradicting news pieces came out saying they were going to finish the game then shut down but nothing really came from those reports.

Now we hear about Gearbox, they're finishing it. If this is true I can't wait to see what they do with the Duke license. Not only with Borderlands but Gearbox has done some really good games in the past. The Brothers in Arms series, the Halo PC port and the Oppressing Forces expansion for Half Life.

I really really hope this is true, it's been way to long Duke and I can't wait to have you back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cave Story Appreciation Week! Part 3!

The PC has been home to almost any genre of game you can imagine. Sure, FPS and RTS are the bread and butter of the PC. They simply just control better with a mouse and keyboard. One genre the console's have always had on the PC were the platformers. Games like Mario and Sonic they all benefit from using a controller. Through out the years we've seen some platforming games on the PC and well they always come and go without much fuss. Using a keyboard to control these type of games almost always feels awkward. You can buy any number of PC control pads to use for these type of games but really how many PC gamers really have one. I bought my first one earlier this year and it was to play Street Fighter 4.

So we've seen the always on life support platforming genre on the PC but lately it's had a resurgence, sprung back from the dead. Most of these games are coming from the indie developers. Games like La-Mulana, Treasure Hunter Man, Knytt and Cave Story. These games not only use the keyboard to control them they use it extremely well. Some of them let you use a control pad to play them but they work as well with the keyboard. I was really cautious about trying these games out because all I could think of were the hard to play platformers from the past struggling to even make the easiest jumps.

As stated above I finally decided to try Cave Story and within the first 20-30 minutes I was completely turned around on the idea of using a keyboard to play a platformer. Cave Story has the simplest keyboard setup for this type of game. Jump and shoot are next to each other and all the other option such as map and inventory are right there too. Your hand never needs to move far from the action keys to do something else. After playing Cave Story almost all the way through I decided to try my USB controller to play the game a bit. I was shocked to find I was confused using the controller for this game. I thought the controller would help me get through a part I was having an especially hard time with but no it didn't. I played the game with a controller for about 10 minutes before I gave up and went back to the keyboard. It's just another testament to exactly how well done Cave Story is. Everything about it is great right down to the perfect platforming controls. Controls I think were designed and balanced with the use of a keyboard in mind.

Monday, August 9, 2010

PC Game Review - Torchlight

I finished playing Torchlight last night, yeah that hot new release of 2009 but hey I'm a little behind!

Torchlight for those who may not know is from Runic Games. The Schaefer brothers who helped design Diablo 1 and 2 and Travis Baldree who worked on Fate along with the team who worked on Mythos make up Runic games and the games from their past show through in Torchlight in a big way. Taking aspects from Diablo and Fate you get a very enjoyable dungeon crawler at a budget price but it does have issues that keep it from being a perfect game.

At the outset of Torchlight you choose a character class. The Destroyer which is basically a warrior, the Alchemist who is the games magic user and then the Vanquisher who is a ranged archer type class. Each class has the standard RPG like skill trees for developing your character and like WOW you have three to choose from. At the start of the game each character is better than the others in a certain ability like the Alchemist being better at magic. But depending on how you spend your skill points you can have a Vanquisher swinging big swords instead of using bow or a Destroyer with a big mana pool casting all kinds of spells. It isn't really in your best interest to play like this but to each his own.

The game controls like any other Diablo clone. You move a mouse cursor on the screen and click where you want to go then click on an enemy to attack. The left button handles your movement and one attack while the right button is set to another skill and can be swapped with the TAB key to be something else. In my playthrough I found I only needed my basic attack on the left button and the Destroyer's first special attack on the right. You also have the standard 1-0 number keys for some hot hotkey action. Potions, spells and other skills can go here, I used the 1 and 2 keys for health and mana potions with some random skills on the 3, 4 and 5 keys. Overall the controls work well having come from people that made Diablo I'd expect nothing less than perfection in this type of game from a control stand point and we have it here.

The game starts you out in the town of Torchlight. You've arrived to find a battle going on near a mine, you help out then you get sucked into the overall conflict. Some demon is coming up from the dungeon and you've tasked with going down the various floors to stop it. It's a very basic story very reminiscent of the first Diablo but instead of Diablo it's Ordrak. It isn't really anything special but it does the job.

Once in Torchlight you have various vendors to trade with. Weapons, items and magic vendors we've all seen before. You have am enchanter seller who will enchant any piece of equipment for a price, a gambler who sells unidentified mystery equipment which will be revealed to you when you make the purchase. Transmuter guy will combine various items to make them more powerful and finally you have the gem recovering vendors. One will destroy the gems in a socked weapon and the other will destroy the weapon to get your gems back. In the middle of the town you have your stash and then north of town you have a shared stash. The shared stash is interesting. You can place items in it for other characters. Since Torchlight is only a single player game this seems to be a way for characters to trade rarer items with each other even though you're just trading with yourself. I don't think characters playing on different difficulties can trade with each other so make a point of that before you decided to give a bunch of Very Hard loot to an Easy playththrough character.

Speaking of difficulty this game isn't very hard but can destroy you, I'll explain. If you've ever played a game like this do not play on easy or normal play on hard as it goes to the easier side. You will have some trouble at first but a couple levels and some loot you'll forget you're playing on hard. That is until the last set of floors. The game gets down right masochistic near the end. I was so shocked by the jump in difficulty I didn't know how to handle it. I'm not sure if I wasn't specced right or if my gear was bad, I died about 5 times earlier in the game and about 20 times on the last set of floors. The last boss is a good challenge and in the age of gaming where bosses do not exist it's good to see a nice long final boss fight. You also have a very hard mode to play on and you can check the Hardcore option for any difficulty level. Hardcore is like Nightmare mode in Diablo, when you die you can't resurrect and you see you character as a ghost on the character select screen for all eternity. I'm planning on doing a hardcore run in the future so I'm looking forward to the new challenge of that, I may even do it on Very Hard to really test myself.

As with any game of this kind of any RPG in general what you care about is the loot and this game has tons of it. Weapons and items drop all over the place with many being unidentified for which you will need a Identify Scroll (game has Town Portal Scolls too, yay Diablo!) or the spell that does the same thing. With all this loot my only complaint was I wasn't really getting better stuff at a good pace. I'd find a very good weapon or piece of armor every now and then, then I'd get a ton of things that were just crap. This is a major gripe for me but a lot of times the quest rewards are things you can't use. I played as a Destroyer and most of my quest rewards were for Alchemists and the Vanquisher. I may test another class to see if it's like this for all of them but it was kind of crap. Cater at least the quest rewards to me class. In a game without multiplayer that way they do it makes no sense, hell even if it had online it wouldn't make sense.

As you adventure in Diablo your pack gets full with all this loot and you need to drop a Town Portal and head back to sell it all, but not in Torchlight. You have a pet, either a dog or cat you choose at the outset. Your pet has an inventory and when you need to sell stuff give it to said pet and you can order them to go back to town. After a few minutes they'll come back with your money. It's a great feature in a game like this. I wish someone had thought of it a long time ago. Your pet also fights along side you. The pet can be equipped with two rings and a necklace for stat boosts as well as two spells. I had my pet dog casting fireballs and summoning flaming swords for most of my adventure. Near the end I swapped the fire sword with a summoning of Skeleton Warriors and it was really cool.

Torchlight is also a pretty good length another thing we don't see in todays games. I played through on hard and exploring every part of the main dungeon and doing a few side dungeon floors I spent about 20 hours playing it. It has achievements for beating the game in under 8 and 5 hours so I imagine if you rush you could blow through it on easy in this time. After you beat the main quest you're taken back to Torchlight and you can continue the adventure. After killing Ordrak you open the Shadow Vault which is an endless series of random floors. New quest become available and it's pretty cool to be able to keep going with your leveled up guy. The new floors were not as hard as the end game while having similarly leveled enemies leading me to think it's a balancing thing near the end of the main quest and not a lack of skill or gear on my part. Once the Vault is open on one character it's open from the start for any others you make so leveling and new gear opportunities are there for any new guys you start. I wasn't sure I'd go far into the Shadow Vault when I was done with the game but I'm still having fun with it and I've found some really good gear in the first few floors. If you do not want to keep adventuring with your seasoned character you have the chance to retire them at the end also. When you retire a character you can give one item to a new character which will increase some of it's stats but it's up to you if it's worth it. If you're looking to get all the Steam achievements in this game it mandatory as you'll need to do it a few times to get all the achievements associated with retirement.

Diablo 1 was such a new experience to me I loved it, Diablo 2 was the first game I ever stayed up all night playing and didn't get any sleep from. The last game of this type I just fell in love with was Dungeon Siege. Torchlight is a good game at a good price, you can get it from Steam or the official site for 20 bucks. There is a retail release and I think it's also 20 but I'm not sure. The good things about this game make overlooking the negatives very easy to do. As a first release from a studio and a budget game at that Torchlight is well worth the money, if you like adventuring alone. Those looking for multiplayer need to look somewhere else, but anyone looking for a fun to play dungeon crawler need to stop here and play some Torchlight.

Torchlight, available on the PC and Mac 8 out of 10

Cave Story Appreciation Week! Part 2!

As I celebrate my own little Cave Story love week I want to talk about how I got into the game.

While Cave Story came out in 2004 and I had heard a little about through out the years it wasn't until I came across a Let's Play on Youtube that I finally downloaded and played the game and that was late last year. For those who may not know a Let's Play is when someone records themselves playing through a game sometimes with a voice over sometimes without one and then posts the videos on a video hosting site. Lot's of people use Youtube some use other sites such as Blip TV or Daily Motion.

One of my favorite Let's Players on Youtube is Deceased Crab, in general I think he's one of the most popular on Youtube but either way he's really good. I've heard about a lot of indie games from watching his videos. Cave Story was one I noticed he did due to actually having heard about the game over the years but I never watched it. I try not to watch a Let's Play if I haven't played the featured game and I was planning on doing so. After going through a ton of his videos I was ready to watch Cave Story which I wanted to play. I played through the game and thanks to Deceased Crab I played what would become one of my all time favorite games.

Here's the first video in Deceased Crab's Let's Play of Cave Story. Very entertaining, play the game then check this out.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Reveal and some thoughts on the COD series as a whole.

So today we were shown the first video of the new Call of Duty game, Black Ops. Treyarch the "other" company that make COD games is up to the plate this time and well what can I say? It looks just like Modern Warfare 2 with new guns. But I have some other thoughts on this game which I will put after the video.




At first glance you'd think exactly what I said it's the same as MW2 while that's going to be true in a way I don't think Treyarch will make the same mistake Infinity Ward made with MW2. A lot of people like to show hatred for Treyarch for the mere fact they're not Infinity Ward when it comes to COD games.

Yeah COD3 wasn't the most polished game but Treyarch made it in about 8 months time. For a game with such a short development cycle they did a hell of a job and I blame the hate to the they're not Infinity Ward hate.

After that one we saw COD4 and yeah it blew the gaming world away, me included. I hadn't been into online FPS for while because I'd kind of given it up when I stopped playing Counter Strike but COD4 was like this amazing experience. I along with many others was instantly hooked. We would go on to see every aspect of the multiplayer ripped off in other online shooters which is expected but it changed the face of online multiplayer.

Then along comes Call of Duty: World at War. Another WW2 shooter, the last WW2 shooter in the COD series and it's made by Treyarch. The Campaign fantastic one of the best if not the best WW2 shooter campaigns I've ever played. Treyarch managed to show the overall brutality of the second world war in a way I don't think other games have really captured. Well this game had multiplayer and it was almost identical to COD4 except for the setting and the weapons but guess what? It played well and was a hell of a lot of fun but people hated it just because it was a COD game not by Infinity Ward. WAW also had the amazing Nazi Zombie mode, I logged so many hours playing Nazi Zombies online and by myself because it was just so much fun.

Then the super hyped Modern Warfare 2 comes along, people are crapping themselves in anticipation, the excitement is building, everyone is sure it's going to be like the second coming. I was one of these people, I couldn't wait for it. Then I played it, and let me tell you the game was crap. The campaign in COD4 had that one "Oh shit!" moment which made the whole thing have a good impact on the player but MW2 tried to cram as many, "Oh shit!" moments into that game as they could and by the end I was rolling my eyes it was kind of sad. COD games on Veteran have always been a test in skill but also patience as some parts need to be played over and over again but not MW2, it was easy way to toned down. Then the multiplayer, in one word, crap. The guns are not balanced, the maps are not good, the game is glitchy as hell and it take IW to long to fix the glitches. Where COD4 was like a drug to me I played MW2 for about a weekend and I was done. With all the IW drama that went on after the release of MW2 I wonder if they released the game buggy and broken on purpose just to shove the screw you at Activision, but who knows?

Now we have Treyarch back for another COD game, Black Ops. While it's not the fabled Vietnam game we so desperately need, well I mean a good Vietnam game it looks interesting. After WAW I firmly believe Treyarch has surpassed Infinity Ward as the premiere COD developer and I have high hopes for Black Ops. If Treyarch just takes the look of MW2 and actually balances the game maybe with a beta we could have the definitive online shooter for the next couple years.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sudden Increase in Difficulty

I'm not afraid of hard games, I've stated this many times here and my whole gaming attitude is the more challenging even to the point of frustration is fine by me. What I do not like is when a games difficulty isn't balanced all the way through. I'm not talking about a level that's harder than the rest or a part that may be tricky to get by. No I mean when a game has a consistent challenge through the whole game but then near the end the difficulty is jacked up to an almost game breaking difficulty. Again not afraid of the challenge, it can be annoying to experience this.

One example of this is the first Assassin's Creed. This was a game without a difficulty selection you were stuck on what the developer wanted you to experience. Playing through that game I spent the whole game building my combat techniques to handle the enemies no matter how many I had to face. But all of a sudden near the end of the game the combat spikes and even a couple foes become a challenge and the combat skills I've spent the whole game honing are useless and I was stuck with just blocking and countering. I went from feeling like a bad ass kill anything assassin to some shmuck who has to hide and turtle only to strike when the cheapest opening appears. I still likes Assassin's Creed but that to me hurt the over all experience. As mentioned in a past post about monsters in games and how they're never as balanced as the human enemies that is another concern for me when it comes to balanced difficulty.

The main thing that made me want to write this post here was the game I am currently playing. That game is Torchlight, I've finally been playing through it the last few days and right now I'm on what I guess is the finally set of levels of the main quest. I've been playing the game on Hard and at first and I mean like for the first few floors it was some what challenging but then it was a cake walk. That is until this last set of floors, it's a ball buster now. In about 3 floors I went through the 60 Super Health Potions I had then the few Great Health Potions. Also from the start to this point I had only died a few times and that was mainly due to me not paying attention to my health. On these floors alone I've died about 15 times. It's freaking brutal, I was shocked by the spike in difficulty. I'm properly equipped and my skills are all set up alright. It's just, I don't know maybe it's unbalanced, I plan on doing a Very Hard playthrough and maybe it will be different but I have no idea. I've played other games over the years that do this but the two mentioned above are the two examples that come to mind right now.

Cave Story Appreciation Week!

So with this extremely slow time in the world of gaming I decided to dedicate the majority of this week to talking about Cave Story. Cave Story is a 2D Metroidvania like platformer that came out in 2004 and was recently made available on the Wii's WiiWare service. It was designed by one man Daisuke Amaya who goes by the name Pixel for his games. It took Daisuke 5 years to program this all by himself. One aspect of this I think is really cool is he did all the music for the game also. Having no former musical knowledge he just came up with sounds and the songs by just putting beats together until it was something he liked. Now knowing this was how all the music in the game came together it's amazing to me how outstanding the music is. Today I'm going to share a few of my favorite tracks from Cave Story.

Fortunately someone has put the entire soundtrack on Youtube and I'll be using those videos to let you listen to the songs here. If you like what you here go give Metoolx597 on Youtube a subscription.

If you really like what you hear you can here and download the entire soundtrack.

http://www.miraigamer.net/cavestory/downloads_3.php

The first one here is called Mischievious Robot and plays when you first enter the Egg Corridor level. By far this is my favorite song in the entire game. I would just sit idle in the level so I could listen to it loop over and over.




Next up is Mimiga Town, and it plays in the well, Mimiga Village. I like the laid back sound, it's almost relaxing. Something this game does well with the music is it's placed in very appropriate places. Times of action have more upbeat energetic music. I know most games do this but this one especially is extremely memorable.




Huzzah! This is Balrog's theme! It plays whenever that toaster, suitcase, whatever the hell he is jumps in through the wall or roof like Kool Aid man. Balrog is my favorite character from the game. He's the perfect bumbling fool bad guy and his boss fights are really the easiest to finish but I think that goes with the character.



Pulse plays at the end of the Egg Corridor. I like the almost ambient sound of this song. The beginning reminds me of some of the drone bands I like to listen too. Then the pick up in tempo which again really fits with what's happening in the game at the time is a nice change up.



Running Hell, this is a song you will hear over and over again if you're going for the full completion best ending. It plays as you go through the Sacred Grounds other wise known as Hell. The Hell level in Cave Story can be brutal hard and you will have to go through it a ton to get your strategy down. But that's something I'll save to talk about later in the week. Until then enjoy one of the best songs in the game.



Not so much a favorite but if you manage to beat Hell in under 3 minutes (Good Luck With That!) you'll hear this on the title screen. I figure since many people probably can't do it (I'm one of them) I'd put it here for your enjoyment. It is quite good though.




As I'm writing this and listening to all the Cave Story music to refresh my memory on my favorites I'm realizing just how amazing the whole soundtrack is. Check out the samples I've shared then do yourself a huge favor and just go download the whole thing or even better play the game and listen to them as you go.

I'll be posting various Cave Story related stuff all this week. With I'm thinking a full review on Friday. Check back for more Cave Story stuff!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Games being art? Or the Ballad of Roger Ebert

So the other day I was told about an article over on Joystick Division about the whole Roger Ebert and games being art thing. I read through it and I have some thoughts on it and the whole games as art argument which I plan on sharing here.

First the link to the article you should read it before you finish this post.


http://www.joystickdivision.com/2010/07/the_ten_games_roger_ebert_shou.php?page=1


I think the first thing to write about here is my general thoughts on this whole debate. I'm not quite sure why everyone cares what Ebert thinks. He's a product of an older generation from a time when games weren't really around. Myself and people a little older than me are the first generation to grow up with video games being a part of our lives. I'm sure in the future when our grand kids are growing up they'll have something we just will not understand, hell some of the things around now that kids have or do I just don't get. That's the nature of getting older and the evolution of any medium. Now Ebert claimed when he made his statement he had never played a video game and really wasn't thinking about doing so, I do believe that if you're going to denounce an entire form of entertainment you should at least try it before you talk trash about it. But the real shocker to this is when Ebert took his statement back, not saying he was wrong but just saying he wished he'd never said it in the first place. I'm guessing the lack of support and the amount of pissed of gamers giving him crap over this is what probably caused him to take it back but really who cares? Let the man have his opinion if he doesn't like games he doesn't like them, has Ebert even been relevant in the recent times? Either way who really cares? As I play more and more of these "art" games I'm seeing a trend, they are usually crappy games with maybe one of two good ideas that people latch on to and then try to claim that it's all about artistic qualities when in the end it's just a bad game. But today I'm not looking to get into this whole debate because I think it's just pointless to keep arguing over it. Take anything and there will be someone who doesn't like it. What I want to do is go over this list on Joystick Division and just share some thoughts.

10 - Psychonauts

This is a hard one to start with because I've never played it but from what I've heard about I can agree with it being on this list. As far as the 3D platformer goes this is probably the closest one will get to being the holy "art game."

9 - Portal

No, just no, Portal is not an art game. Yes Portal is an amazing game but at it's core it's a FPS with a well done story but it's nothing we haven't seen before. With it's story it resembles System Shock 2 the machine guiding you through your journey only to betray you in the end. If this list was about games to just get people to see what gaming in general is all about then I'd put Portal on it and it would be in the top 5, if not at number 1.

8 - Braid

Braid to me was a very special game. While being a simple platformer with a genius time control mechanic it made me feel something at the end. When presented with what lead up to Tim doing what he had to do the story finally makes sense. The art style while still simple is just amazing, at times you feel like you're playing a painting. The way Braid tells a very dark story in such a colorful and lively world says so much about the way games can tell a story in a way different than other mediums. My only complaint about Braid on this list is it should of been higher.

7 - Shadow of the Colossus

SOTC is an amazing game in it's own right. But it also shows how an engaging world and a very well done minimalistic story can make up for a game having some short comings in the presentation. While SOTC is a beautiful looking game it's pushing the PS2 to it's limits and it show. Slow down plagues this game, as does pop in and some laggy controls. As a lone wanderer in this barren world only inhabited by the 16 colossi the game does an amazing job of making you feel just like that, alone. I think in this presentation is where the art part of this game shows through but in the end it's just a well done boss battle only adventure game and I'm fine with calling it that. I would of put it higher on the above list as I think 7 is to low.

6 - Red Dead Redemption

I have not played this game yet but it being on this list is crap and for one reason, a reason that will be applied to a game later on the list. It has not been out long enough to be considered a classic amazing have to play game. Right now it's the new hotness you know a western game! Wow! Why hasn't anyone done this before? (*cough* GUN *cough*) Yeah but I truly think that a game needs to be played and then the player needs to sit back and be able to think about it evaluate it a while after having finished it. We have tons of examples where a new game comes out and gets amazing reviews only to be considered a crap game later on. Halo 2 comes to mind as does GTA4. I've talked to some people who put a lot into RDR and loved it thought it was fantastic until about half way through when it much like almost all of Rockstar's open world games just becomes boring and repetitive. before crowning this game with an art title let alone a game people should play give it some time. I would of put Vice City or hell GUN is it's place if you wanted Ebert to play a sandbox game.

5 - Passage

I had never heard of Passage until I was shown this list. let's get this out of the way right now, Passage is a horrible game. I did what the read me suggested and played through the 5 minute game then read what the Creators Statement and I came away with a better understanding of what he did but it was poorly done. I know it's a free indie game under 500k but the graphics are crap, it makes it way to hard to tell what is going on. I know the muddled up display at the front and back has it's meaning which I won't spoil but it just makes the overall game very hard to look at. I think the creator had a clever idea when it came to this game and this is my main bitch with "art games." As I said above people will make excuses for bad games by calling them art and this is the prime example. Horrible graphics, the field of view was just a joke and didn't make any sense. If I were in Ebert's shoes and I played this I'd just get the feeling that gamers are pretentious dipshits who go slapping labels onto crap to sound cool. Next game please!

4 - Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Legendary game? Hell yes! The best Zelda game ever? To me, hell yes! A art game? No it's not. A game being a kickass adventure game does not make it an art game, it just means it's a great game. I don't need to say anything about this one, it's a real classic has stood the test of time and yeah it's fantastic. What this game does is make me wonder what this list is all about. Are we listing Art games or just great games Ebert should play to get into gaming? I'm a bit confused and while the article is well done I just don't think the author is 100 percent sure on what he's trying to say. I know it's hard to write but this is a confusing list which is all over the place in the vein of showing art games.

3 - Bioshock

Yeah this is another good game, story wise it hits all the sweet spots. Gameplay wise it's a very clunky game and it's sequel deals with most of those problems and fixes those. But the way Bioshock leads you around and make you go about your journey is genius. Anyone who gets to the twist and isn't completely floored is an asshole and needs to put the controller down turn their machine of choice off and just stop playing games. Now is Bioshock art? It's been about 3 years sense we've all played and it's still a game people talk about in a positive light, I think we can include it on a list like this one and to see it so high up is great. In a genre (FPS) that isn't really known for it's deep story telling Bioshock is able to tell an amazing story and do it extremely well.

2 - Super Mario Bros

When I think of games where they came from what made me love them and why it's an amazing past time, I can't help but think of Super Mario Bros. Everything about it defines classic one of the all time greats, nothing will ever give me the same feeling I had playing SMB for the first time. It's like some one putting greatness in the palm of your hand. Now my love of SMB is borderline insane but this game isn't art. It's a straight up platformer, it defined the genre and spawned numerous copycats way to many to count. Anyone who has ever played a game should play this one no doubt about it, if you consider yourself a gamer and haven't played SMB you're not a gamer. If this list was about games some one who never played a game should play yeah it should be number 1 but this list is about art games and that's where Mario falls short. On the entry for this on the above list it's stated this one is just to show how far games have come but that's not what this list is about, it's about art. Again making think the author was a little confused or was sidetracked while writing and couldn't find enough art games and had to blur the line.

1 - Limbo

No, No, NO, NO! This game has been out a freaking week at the time this article was written and it's at number one? Let alone on the list at all! Read my Red Dead Redemption thing above to get the gravy of why I think this is crap but talk about limiting yourself. I'm imaging the author had just put down the 360 controller from beating Limbo and was still all giddy from playing it so it was going to end up on this list. But you need retrospection, time, need to let the game soak in before you declare a love like this for it. Now I haven't played Limbo, and yeah it's getting tons of great reviews, I'm not denying it's a great game as I'm sure it is and I'm sure it could be considered art but it's still to new. Flavor of the week stuff does not mean it's great for a list of all time great, art or just need to be played games in general. Another game on this list that makes me think the author was struggling to come up with games.


Overall it's a competent list but it's all over the place. When I think about art games I just can't help but not care. I love games but I love them for what they are, games, games that are fun to play. If a game makes me feel something great, but I'm not going to get all weepy and declare it's something more than it is, a game. Gaming really is still in it's infancy with true game story telling and immersion just lately coming into it's own. As the older generations die and fade away the generation that grew up with games will be the adults and we'll probably see more acceptance for games in general. Jimmy Fallon showcases games on his show and has on programmers and developers and such. We'll see more of that but it will take time. Give it the time needed to get there and stop trying to shove it down the throats of people that just don't care.

Halo 2600

I read about this on various other sites this weekend and I was trying it out this morning. It's a Halo "demake" to make the game look like it was made for the Atari 2600. Controls are simple with the arrow keys moving Master Chief and the space bar making him fire his gun. You have to find the gun first and it's one screen up from the stop. I played this for a little bit and it's pretty fun, reminds me of Berserk or Frenzy except you can only shoot left and right. If you have some time to kill it's worth checking out.

HALO 2600