Monday, August 29, 2011

Now Showing: Nintendo Channel


If you believe the moronic notions of some of the bigger internet games """"journalists""" and seasoned developers then the Nintendo Wii, aside from having the dust continuously wiped from it is now a legacy platform. You know, now that the Wii-U hasn't even been released yet. Anyway, judging from the output on the Nintendo Channel the hype might be true. This is what we find odd about the Nintendo Channel. It is essentially a marketing tool for Nintendo products that comes with every Wii and according to the software data there's at least 500,000 players that watch it. That being said, the coverage is inconsistent at best. A number of promotional series have started and then abruptly been discontinued (the Warioware and Monster Hunter ones spring to mind) and since ONM have been in charge of the 'regular' Nintendo News episodes the quality has been very hit and miss. The recent E3 round ups were pants and there hasn't been much in the way of uploads since then. Frustrating, especially considering how little games press coverage Wii games, WiiWare and Virtual Console games get. What a wasted opportunity. If they so wished, Nintendo could completely bypass the normal games press machine and make all their big announcements directly to players and consumers. NEways here's the low down on the recent videos.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles This game has been getting some extra love from Nintendo, similar to how Monster Hunter Tri received special coverage. There's currently five Xenoblade Chronicles videos up at the moment including a three part, so far, interview with Koh Kojima and Tetsuya Takahashi, the official trailer and a Nintendo News special partly dedicated to the game. The interviews are alright but sadly rather standard promotional fare than enlightening or insightful. Oh and unnecessarily spoilerific :( Poor showing for the game that's rightly getting a lot of praise.
  • Legend of Zelda Those creepy Robin Williams ads and plenty of 25th Anniversary and OoT shenanigans. We aren't LoZ fans at all (sue us!) but the coverage is pretty piss poor, mostly noise very little signal (as is custom for ONM).
  • WiiWare game EscapeVektor has a video up. It looks a bit like Qix meets Pac-Man but since the Wii Shop Channel demos seem to have been all but dropped yet again there's not much more I can say about it.
  • There's also a StarFox 64 3D trailer up. Obviously, without the benefit of a 3D trailer it just looks like Star Fox 64. Which is also why we still aren't too bothered about picking up a 3DS because, you know, we still have two versions of Lylat Wars that continue to work perfectly well.
  • Upcoming Wii game Mystery Case Files The Malgrave Incident also has a trailer. It's a find the hidden object game. We find it hard to get excited about it to be honest.
  • There's a trailer available for NyxQuest from the Wii Shop Channel. stupidly, however, it can't be launched from an SD card and we can't be bothered moving games to and from the Wii hard drive to the SD card for the sake of one demo so we deleted it straight away again.
  • Weekly Download Trailers are always a laugh. Aya and the Cubes of Light reminds us of quirky PlayStation game Kula World. Except less good. Finally! Card game Bridge comes to the DSi for 500 points. That's more than it costs to buy a deck of cards and you can probably pick up a copy of the quite good 42 All Time Classics for less which includes Bridge and 41 other games. Gargoyle's Quest is now out for the 3DS Virtual Console because there aren't enough average platformers for the Game Boy. And that's the lot! Whoop de doo!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles: Initial Thoughts

Well we've spent about 20 hours with Xenoblade Chronicles and overall we're enjoying it. First up is that you can download twelve tracks for free when you register the game with Nintendo which is nice. Something for nothing (well, for £40 but hey). Is it one of the best jRPGs or even RPGs of this generation as many reviews have been claiming? Possibly, but there are a few gripes even very early in.

1) Sound Bites. The noises that your party makes during battle get repetitive very quickly. They start repeating after about one battle. I'm sure that as the party expands you'll get to hear some more lines but how did nobody spot that it is irritating to hear the same phrases over and over again? It is grating and somewhat undermines the fiction of the game unless your characters are supposed to have short term memory loss or a total lack of imagination when it comes to battle cries.

2) TITS. Currently, the best armour for the female in the party seems to be a pair of knickers. So in all the cutscenes she's trying to be serious but has essentially left the house underdressed. Quite how they provide the highest physical defence when the barely cover the lower half of the body is beyond me. The boob jiggle is a little bit too sensitive too. Still we cracked one out over the characters just in case.

3)Localisation. The localisation has been receiving some praise. Possibly just because it was localised in the first place rather than for the quality of the effort. There's something distinctly jarring about the English accents that unfortunately makes the game humorous when I don't think it is trying to be. The fact that the main protagonist and his best buddy sound not unlike Simon Pegg and Nick Frost makes it a little bit more acceptable. I turned the English voices off but then missed the comedic delivery so it is back on for the time being.

4) Shulk is a prick. Okay so he isn't as androgynous as tradition dictates but he is annoying. SPOILERS AHOY! He has the power to see in the future but the first twenty times he sees into the future he chooses not to tell the people involved that he sees that they might be in trouble or how they die or to avoid big spiders. For no good reason either. It's irking. JUST TELL THEM YOU MORON, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE.

These are minor gripes you understand. The rest of the game is pretty good, particularly the living breathing ecosystems you traverse through. Xenoblade Chronicles also manages to breath life into the long stale villager fetch quests but we'll cover that in a later post. The game also seems to take inspiration from all sorts of weird places rather than retread the tropes of more established RPGs including TGAM favourite Shadow of Memories, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, a splash of Monster Hunter and even Kingdom Hearts. Of course the story is total bobbins and the main character is a prick but you can't win them all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mad Catz Pro circuit is... Maybe OK?

Mad Catz are getting more and more credibility these days, i remember the days when 4 people sat round a console and "player 4" got stuck with the cheapy 3rd party controller that everyone dreaded. That controller used to be made by Mad Catz. Now they have released these controllers specifically for the gaming elite, for the "pro-gamers" allowing for things like interchangeable team plates. But most excitingly interchangeable D-Pad/Thumbsticks, making the 360 more like the PS3 controller, and vice versa. I'm still pining for this, 5 years on from getting the 360 I still prefer the DualShock PlayStation layout. However what bothers me about this incarnation and the thought and process put into it is that the 360 D-Pad seems the same. I really really fucking despise the 360 D-Pad, and have done from the start, firstly it's in the wrong place, though this is fixable on this gaypad, but it frequently just does not function well. It suffers from I-pressed-Up-not-Left-itis. This affliction was really first recognised with the release of some of the retro games on XBLA where you wanted to treat your 360 controller like the game pads of such as the Snes and Megadrive. More recently it's bugged the crap out of me on Mortal Kombat and MvC3 the smooth action of the Quarter-Circle forward was unobtainable on the D-Pad and analogue stick, I mean last thing I want to do is play a lottery of whether or not I pull off a special move. I know this has been addressed with the release of SSF4 specific pads and Arcade sticks, but c'mon, why cant I have a nice SNES/PS D-Pad to which I feel is superior in almost all fashions to the 360 D-Pad.

Pleh

Love and QCF+LP

Richie X

Friday, August 19, 2011

The tragic cogitations of DS/Pokemon Loss


Shock horror, dismay and tears.


Over the past ten years of playing pokemon there were certain things that caused me dismay, the battery on "Red" depleted loosing all the hours spent on that. Telling doppelganger to get Pokemon, then further down the line him thrashing me in a 6v6 battle. And most recently, Taking my DS on holiday with Pokemon Black.

I lost it, I left it on the plane, I spoke with KLM several times to see if it had been handed in, but no :( it's
lost...
gone...
stolen...
moved on...

It is... no more

Well it's not the worst thing in the world, the DS can be replaced, I may even get the 3DS for the hell of it. The thing that bothers me most is Pokemon Black and the time I invested. Along with that I have lost my Celebi, Zoroa, Zoroark, and Victini. Several event-only (i.e. time-sensitive) Pokemon, Zoroa and Victini were actually ones I was using when going through the game too!

So, i dont know, do I play through the game again? do I just drop it, say to hell with it and give up on pokemon for ever like a massive quitting-quitty-boy? Do I get an action replay just to get the event pokemon and justify it as having them before (yet knowing their shady past and shunning them forever)... These are just a few of the thoughts running through my head, running through my head, all the things she saaaaaiiiid.

Whaddya reckon?

Love and Painful Pokemon Remorse.

Richie :(

NoA: DoA

I SAW YOU PEEKING
I only recently found out about Project Rainfall from that homo-du-jour Jayjay-Fahid Sulley, editor of a little website called videolamer we used to write for. Turns out Nintendo of America hates JRPGs. With a passion. Amazingly, there are currently no plans to release The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles and some other emo game in the United States of America. Crazy news huh? I thought Europe had it bad but Another Code R and the awesome Disaster Day of Crisis didn't get stateside either.

I guess it's because Nintendo don't want people playing the old Wiis with Wii-U around the corner. God forbid people keep buying games for one of the best selling consoles of all time. That would be insanity. Can't wait for this crap though. Give me a poorly controlled generic cockney simulator over some crappy japanese games anytime you muggy bint.

Why is the Escapist so shit Part 2

Part 1 is here. This may be why the Escapist continues to be so shit.
Here be a few gems from the Reddit:

Robomonkster in response to the escapist claiming the crunch has caused strain:

How are they 'feeling the crunch' with that many fucking ads? Have they found the other end of the online ad-revenue bell-curve, where they spend more money on the bandwidth for them than the ads bring in?
Amen to that even if I did have a desire to sift through their poorly designed website through all that crap to find some theoretical gems the constant ads would drive me away. As it is I try other ways of watching Zero Punctuation so i don't have to visit the site and get inundated with advertising before, after, above, below and around and content.

Acid Super Sam:

"I respect the Escapist"
Nooooo ho ho. What kind of person says that. Why god why?


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eight Little Touches to Little King's Story

Alt text is back mother fuckers!
That see it rise above the crap that has outsold it. I recently completed it so it only took me just over a year. It's a really good game. We aren't good enough with words to express it. It's a great game even are there words to express better than great? Here are eight little touches that, for me, made it a really greatastic game and why my heart is made heavy with the knowledge that we won't see a game quite so beautifully crafted or surprisingly fresh for a long time.

1) Detail in everything. Everything from collectibles to the snippets that your civilians will offer up in conversation through to incidental details in the cutscenes draw the eye. It's all been lovingly crafted to reward players who will care to look for those tiny little details.

2) Naughtiness. Not as in, lame pre-watershed sex scenes or characters who stream cusses but genuine naughtiness. Citizens send you rude notes, perhaps my favourite of which is a letter rating the princesses (Old Hag, Fatty). Other citizens just tell you they hate you to your face. If any of the big game haters out there bothered to play this they'd see some pretty explicit anti-religious messages in there as well as issues relating to sexual relations between adults and minors.

3) Wackiness. Sometimes you are asked nonsense rhetorical questions and forced to answer them. Other times you find yourself granting an audience with the royal cow, knowing that it will be pointless, but willing to nonetheless. Game Studies scholars in the future will teach whole terms on what the hell was going on with those kings. You can't help but smile when you fight an army of 2D fan-submitted poorly drawn horses/cows/dinosaurs or fight headless cows dropped off by UFO.

4) The sting of losing a guy. They have names and histories. They can get married and have children. We thought losing pikmin was upsetting but we spent many fraught moments standing on the shores of Over-There-Beach hoping for our favourite citizens to wash up. The fact that the nation goes into mourning when somebody passes away makes it all the more galling and more often than not forces a restart from the last save.

5) The equipment. A paperweight, a pillow, a legendary dress and a rolled up newspaper. Even better is that you can see the equipment on the character models.

6) Collectibles. Gaming's favourite fluff. Even the filler has been thought through here. Hunting down the tunes was infuriating. The kind of madness, the likes of which we haven't known for a long time. Even with a FAQ we were questioning our sanity and casting aspersions about the "computer cheating" like the good old days.

7) Messing around. If you asked whether or not I wanted to change all the paintings in the castle and have a choice of over two hundred to choose from I'd have probably said no thanks. As it was, I spent many hours changing them around to suit my mood.

8) Music and sounds. Just amazing. The remixes of classical music, the hummed versions you have to collect from the townfolk and the babbling of the character's voices are charming. I can thing of no other word. I'm coming over all gushy. It's too much. Why can't every game be this wonderful? Why do we have to suffer all that average crap? I need a lie down.

Back on the small screen.



No thanks to our interview five years ago. We remained true. STILL A SHALLOW GAME THOUGH.

In other news. Hey, hey remember Resident Evil? That was pretty cool right? In Raccoon City and stuff and and the one in Spain with the non zombies. That was pretty cool. Hey you remember when, like the only thing that would make Resident Evil better was loads of shitty dialogue that actually takes itself seriously and generic S.A.S bullshit and ziplines and helicopters and terrorists and all that boring generic military crap that nobody finds cool? No. We don't either.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Libris geekus: Ready Player One


Earlier today I picked up a copy of Ready Player One. A little bit less earlier today I put it down. Finished. It's a really great book. Okay, so the set-up is a little flawed to engineer characters fourty years in the future with the geek sensibilities of a 2011 late-twenties-early thirties geek but it's forgivable. This book gives hope to geeks everywhere who may take solace in a scenario (albeit fictional) that actually makes use of all that knowledge of books, films and games that we have to save the world.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wikipedia, therefore the world, is run by men

In today's Observer Carole Cadwalladr (who?) writes part of her column on the interesting statistic that wikipedia is a very mael dominated site. Fair enough. She then however, equates this to men controlling human knowledge (wikipedia's version of it). Pathetically she compares the word count on the page for menstruation against Star Trek and gender inequality against William Shatner. Something Awful have been covering the patheticness of wikipedians for a long time and to be frank, a lot better than award winning Carole's attempt.

To look at these statistics and come to the pithy conclusions she does and to try to equate this to equality is special pleading of the kind reserved for Sunday newspaper columnists struggling to make up the word count for their articles. Wikipedia is written by volunteers. Draw conclusions about what men do with their free time as compared to women (shopping? being duped by cosmetic adverts? shoes?), fine. But men controlling knowledge? How about women being lazy when it comes to contributing to wikipedia. Or perhpas women being less selfless than men? Still, one presumes Carole has a wikipedia account perhaps she should apply her writing skills to expanding the articles on vagisil, ovulation and other women's concerns to you know, save human knowledge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beaten by the AI

AI in video games is often an oxymoron. Developers will boast about their superior AI and in the days when games came in boxes you might even seen it as a bulletpoint on the back- Most advanced AI ever! Yet with sad predictability chances are within ten minutes of playing you'll see a man with a gun take cover on the wrong side of a sand bag or take time out of the hell-on-earth battlefront to inspect a wall for ten minutes. One of our favourite moments of AI failure was when playing the original Red Faction on the PlayStation 2 (maybe?). The last remaining guard in a unit of 6 claimed to have us surrounded. Surely, you can program a guy to not come out with that particular sound bite when he is the only one in the room no?

However, FPS AI is the drooling propellor hatted idiot when compared to thinking men's games, particularly RTSs. Recently, I was bested on a map on "retro" game Advanced Wars: Dual Strike. The map was Point Stormy if you know it. Image from Wars Wiki.



I'd got the top cities and all the way around to the bottom right corner but for the life of me I couldn't press the advantage. I'd shored up the top left from attack from the port on the left hand side and occasionally I'd try to take the port but the AI would get aggressive as soon as it saw me prepare for an aerial or beach landing. On turn 161 (non Advance Wars Aficionados: stupidly high turn number) I somehow lost the edge in our super long stalemate and the enemy slowly steamrollered me out out existence from then on. The problem I have is I cut my RTS teeth on Command and Conquer Red Alert so when I don't win in the initial surge I wait for the AI to get bored and stop producing units. Advance Wars seems to be more advanced in this respect and didn't give up for a second. I should have just reloaded an old save but the computer had earned the victory so I saved my shambolic defeat.

UPSIDE: Not just my poor tech then.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marvel vs Capcom vs Mortal Kombat


So a while ago I was really excited about Marvel vs Capcom 3. After completing it a couple of times I grew tired of it, after pondering why, given that I love the characters and also Capcom games, I think it was just shallow. Short of a ladder to fight over and over and some unlocks, which are either crappy gallery things, or the hidden characters, which can be gotten in a couple of hours. In short, completed it once, unlocked the characters, and that was me done with it.

Then Mortal Kombat came along. I had been a fan of the original Mortal Kombat since disk swapping it on the Amiga. Though I ignored many of the 3D iterations, MK4, Armageddon and Deception. The latest Mortal Kombat is great! Primarily because they brought back all the retro fighters and moves, but also because it had more depth than MvC3! I'm going to say it, Marvel versus Capcom 3 is a shallow game! Mortal Kombat has over 300 challenges, story mode, and some worthy alternate costumes to unlock.

The online debate:
now what I  mentioned previously, is all from an "offline" perspective. Both games have a massive following Online, and one could argue that the depth of MvC3 comes from playing online to create some kind of dick-move-lock-you-in a-corner combo. One person actually summed MvC3 up for me as an "eSports" game. but again MK is also guilty of this with a huge variety of online modes. Personally I couldn't care about online, the time involved in "Mastering" one character is not something I find appealing.

But in other news, cant wait for Soul Calibur V.

Love and Fatalities,

Richie X

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

London Riots and GTA?

Yes people with astonishing predictability at least one newspaper is saying the riots in London are inspired by GTA. First of all this is idiotic. GTAIV is now three years old. Secondly, you can't 'riot' in GTA. Almost as soon as you set something on fire, the fire engines turn up and the police show godlike tenacity and initiative when you start a crime spree. Perhaps we should get our police officers and firemen to play GTA and it might inspire them to be more effective?

Secondly, this is yet another example of sloppy reporting by the media. These riots were clearly inspired by 1999's Urban chaos, where gangs take to the streets to fuck things up and:


The 2002 game State of Emergency. And look! It's by Rockstar, the same purveyors of such filth as Bully, GTA, Table Tennis and Manhunt.


Do your fucking research you lazy media cunts.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Excited About....

Xenoblade Chronicles. Here be the trailer.



What's not to love? It's got more than a little bit of Monster Hunter and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers about it, two games which I like a lot. Talking to a couple of gaming pals about it, their response has been "since when did you like JRPGs?". A fair question. I don't and I don't normally like games with Xeno in the title. But I do like big open games with a sense of environment and it looks like great care has been taken over the setting. Finally! A game I'm actually excited about. Let's hope it doesn't dissappoint.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

FINISH THEM!

I have holiday and I've been trying to bust as many games that I've half started as possible.

Kirby's Epic Yarn A lovely little game that appeared quite easy to 100%. I was wrong. Clocked it in at just under 20 hours in the end. Stupidly, I left all the challenges until the end so the last hours or so was just burning through the repetitive and sometimes tricky challenges. Soundtrackwise, many of the new tracks are as sublime as the classic old tracks. Fun.

Little King's Story I'd put Little King's Story on the back burner for a long time. Typically because when I play it I get sucked in so I don't attempt to play it unless I know I have time free. It's a game that still gives even late on where lesser games tend to add all the padding. It is also still challenging although I do end up restarting a lot because I'v become very attached to a little hunter of mine called Stella. She was one of my first citizens, she's married to a guard and has a child and I can't help but restart every time she gets killed just in case she doesn't wash up the next day. I'm currently on the hardboiled king (what does the fucking suggestion box look like?) but there's a nasty Red turnip guardian I'm too scared to fight right next to my kingdom. Every time I try he turnips all my guys. I understand that if you haven't played one of the greatest games of all time then you won't understand much of the above.

Eternal Darkness. Another game that I started, loved and then suddenly it's four years since I played it. A really brilliant game in all kinds of ways. I love the spell combinations, I love the storyline and the way it is delivered. It's not all good though. Another example of a Gamecube game that boots you to the menu screen every time you die. Is a continue option really that hard? Also, and I don't know whether it is because I forgot some of the details since I last played this game but some of the puzzles are really tough. I had to FAQ it up a number of times. There's also a really old school annoying boss in chapter 9(?). That requires some lucky timing rather than any element of skill. Which I love and hate in equal proportion. Lastly, backtracking. Lots of it. The gripes don't quite do enough to make me dislike this game though although I doubt I'll ever play it through another two times to unlock the extra modes. I'm kinda hoping that they don't make a sequel because as it is, the game is a nice little. A sequel would ruin it somewhat.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Golden Joystick

That time of year again. Another stupid gaming awards ceremony. The problem with game awards is that they try to be like film awards but games don't really work like that. Let's have a look at the UltimateGOTY nominations:



Sad face just doesn't cover it. Maybe the selection isn't that bad it's just well, this screenshot says everything doesn't it? Is this it? Is this what we'd be dreaming next generation was going to be delivering? Here's the same selection with sequels and remakes taken out.



Two interesting but flawed games. Do that excercise again but only keeping PC games, or downloadable games or pah. Same old arguments. Unlike films, there are a bazillion games released every year and I know that my personal choices don't overlap with everybody's but there are a few outstanding issues. What's with the categories? Either have categories that work or just make em up. I know I'd never put Portal 2, Dead Rising 2 and Little Big Planet 2 in the same category (apart from games with the number 2 after them) but that's where they are here. Free to play is a new category and soundtracks and puzzle games seem to have vanished. These and a billion other complaints. Nobody is reading. The world will keep turning. We'll keep having these idiotic and flawed award ceremonies.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Death by Xbox

You may have read this story last week about the tragic death of a 20 year old killed by deep vein thrombosis, supposedly from playing Halo online (ODST? Reach? The original?).

You can predict how the rest of the story goes. The parents say they thought it was safe, Microsoft point to that small print that comes with their console, in the instruction booklet for every single game and even flashes up as a message in many games "Time to take a break kids".

My initial response was that long stints of doing anything causes all kinds of medical problems but a friend pointed out that even if you were reading a book for twelve hours straight you'd move around more than if you were gaming. Nothing else exists like gaming to fix your attention so avidly. Dead arms, pins and needles and head rushes are par for the course for gamers and chillingly, this story reminded me of marathon sessions in my youth. Fortunately, necessity means I don't have time for hours and hours of playing games but I imagine many people do. Even more worrying today is that you can just play games forever and ever. Online gaming and panglobal networks now mean that you can find players for online gaming around the clock. Achievements, secrets and unlockables all serve to keep you playing longer and longer, especially those achievements that demand x hours of playing a certain game mode. It's also in the culture to play games beyond the reasonable limit. "Sleep is cancelled" is now a common order in MMOs and stupid stunts like this and this sort of put last week's tragedy into a better context.