Friday, April 27, 2012

Moetry in Potion

Last time we were all gushy over five Wii games that have re-ignited our passion for games. Today we pick up that blog post, flip her over only to see the puss filled and warty fissures caused by the ingrowing hairs that is average Wiiware games.

Just in case you've been a fanboy of other formats up until this second, Wiiware is the Nintendo Wii's downloadable game service. It is a real mixed bag. There are gems and they are the likes of Lit, Maboshi's Arcade, Jet Rockett, Final Fantasy: Subtitle subtitle, Nyx's Quest, Sword and Soldiers, Lost Winds 1 and 2, World of Goo, Art of Balance... wow now that we start to list them there's quite a few good 'uns and many that put bigger box release games to shame. TO SHAME WITH YOU. 

The problem in the past has been that Nintendo (Europe at least) has been fickle in the extreme. The ficklest in fact with allowing players to try Wiiware demos before they buy. Sometimes NoE releasing a dribble of Wiiware demos. Sometimes none for ages and then sometimes a boat load. Also, as with XBLA, Wiiware games and demos are buried, the menu for navigating them sucks and unlike XBLA download and transfer times can be painfully slow. The menu really does suck as well I can't understand why QQMoars like Trent Oster (who he?) don't whinge about this shit instead of the certification process boo hoo hoo. On the Nintendo shop home page there is a scrolling page that highlights what's new on virtual console, wiiware, what is highly rated and the latest demos. Download one of those demos from that page however and you have to completely quit the channel and go back in to get to the highlighted demos page. Otherwise, the only way to find them is to unintuitively search the Nintendo shop for 'demo'. Again having to repeat that whole process after each download. I'm shocked that anyone actually downloads demos, particularly as we will see it is rarely worth it.

Currently it seems that Nintendo are all in favour of Wiiware demos so after no less than a couple of hours of downloading and SD card juggling we tried out a bunch of demos for games we hadn't otherwise heard of. Here's some thoughts. 

Anima Ark of Sinners
We don't have Game Development for Dummies but if we did, we reckon that quite near the top of the Golden Rules for Developing a Game would be the rule:
If your game has anything remotely female in it, give it a massive pair of tits and expose side, under and interboobal areas at all times. 
We're no prudes, we happily talk about How's Your Father around the water cooler and we regularly watch instructional love making videos but check out these images we purely took for research purposes and no other reason, see we did use them in a blog post so get off our backs. 



And that's just from the demo. Underboob, bird's eye boobs and basically vag. The game by the way is terrible. A remnant of the Net Yaroze days that somehow manages to look worse than some PlayStation games. The demo worked though, we were tempted to download it just to see how bad it could get. Common sense prevailed though.

AYA Cubes of Light
From the menu screen and the first five seconds of play it looked like it could be a cool game in the same vein as Kula World albeit fronted by a woman with some weird looking shirt potatoes. After that however it's clear that the game is wank. It might be better if the whole game didn't feel so heavy and slow, Aya runs like an asthmatic sloth wading through treacle whilst carrying heavy shopping. In a word: Paptastic.

Dive
Remember Echo the Dolphin? Now imagine that instead of a dolphin you play as a diver who moves like a scuba diving asthmatic sloth wading through treacle whilst carrying heavy shopping. Don't get us wrong, slow and steady can work, just look at Astro Lander. Slow and shit however turns us right off.

3D Pixel Racing
Hey you know Minecraft right? Now imagine that someone made the totally average PlayStation game Porsche Challenge in Minecraft. Now imagine that it was a dull racer like racing games used to be before developers realised that Sunday driving doesn't make for a good game and that they got the world's most honest programmer to design the tracks so that if you veer more than 12 inches off the track you're sent to the back of the pack. For only 500 Wii points this wonderful gaming experience can be all yours.

For those of us who remember when CurlyWurlys were 14ft long and when you used to be able to take a bus journey without every fucker in the world shouting down their phone at their dealer, there was a thing called the Net Yaroze PlayStation. For $50,000 anyone could buy a Net Yaroze PlayStation (it was black) and with some PC jiggery pokery they could make their own games. For a couple of glorious years, PlayStation mags back in the day would include tons of Net Yaroze games on demo discs so the player base could test the games made by the community. Haunted Maze, by Ed Federmeyer was amazing, the other 49,000 games were a total pile of shite. In fact in 1998, the collective noun for shite was suggested as "A Net Yaroze of shite" and was duly accepted by the OED. We've not deliberately gone back to PlayStation games for the references peppering this post, that is exactly how these games feel and play. We've been a harsh critic of poor games and the shabby games industry in the past but our recent experience with this selection of games has shown us that actually not just anyone can make a game and that developers have to try really hard to make average, boring, broken and glitchy games. At least shovelware has a valid niche, who needs rubbish games that are trying hard?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poetry in Motion

We bought BIT.TRIP Complete when it came out and we've voluntarily relegated ourselves to the naughty step for not telling the TGAM Massive all about it. 

For those of you unawares, BIT.TRIP was a series of six Wiiware, PC and devices-beginning-with-a-little-i games that came out from 2009 until 2011. They got good reviews but we weren't tempted to take the gamble. Plus, downloading new Wiiware is preluded by an hour long mini game called "Try to micro manage the selection of Wii games and channels you want with the tiny amount of space the Wii hardrive has" which is not intuitive, slow as fuck and all-round frustrating. However, the gods of gaming have smiled upon us by using divine intervention to convince the publishers of BIT.TRIP to release all six games and a soundtrack as a boxed Wii game. It will never sell huge amounts. Despite being multi-platform the brand is not well known and you'd be hard pressed to know what the games are about from the box art or screenshots without getting elbow deep into some reviews. But it does mean that we bought it (for a mere £15 new!) and it breaks our hearts to see it already slashed to half price. Buy it, we emplore you. 

The compilation has all six games in their entirety and comes with some extra tidbits; galleries, trailers, behind the scenes stuff and online leaderboards. We're trying to eek out the most from this compilation  by playing the games to completion in order. A rule we already broke by playing BIT.TRIP RUNNER before we'd finished BIT.TRIP BEAT. Both of which are excellent. 

BIT.TRIP BEAT is essentially scrolling Pong but with colours, music and balls that do crazy things. The aim is to stop the beats from crossing the left hand side of the screen by batting them away. It starts off relatively slowly but soon gets crazy and your brain has to enter "the zone" or fail. Hit enough beats without missing one and the audio ramps up, miss too many beats and you're kicked back down to normal mode, miss more and you have to play it in monochrome with paltry blips when you hit a beat. Keep missing them and it is game over. Start again. 

BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a game where the series' protagonist Commander Video runs along and you have to jump, slide, kick and block your way to the end of each level. Again, sounds simple but before the end of Zone One you're pulling off impossible feats of hand eye co-ordination that, when you succeed, force feeds endorphins to your brain to the point of trouser mess. Hit an obstacle or miss jump and you're sent right back to the beginning of the level. This could be frustrating except it is instantaneous from all singing al dancing right back to the beginning. A brilliant design decision that makes the game and eats hours of your life. Audio is also core to Runner as sound effects and the soundtrack match the on screen action perfectly. Collecting pink crossy things adds layers to the music, hit an obstacle and its back to the basic beats. It is undoubtedly tough but at the same time brilliant. One of the challenges is impossible to beat if you're thinking about it. You have to shut off the concious part of your brain and let the hands and eyes guide you. We concentrated so hard we burst blood vessels in our eye and spent the next day wearing an eye patch. No jokes guys we're super serial here. See here for one of the challenges. 

We haven't tried the other four games yet but it doesn't matter BEAT and RUNNER alone are worth the price tag. This is gaming that is putting a smile back on our conjoined face and considering that they're linear,2D and graphically retro they're surprisingly refreshing and give a greater sense of freedom than 3D lavish Wallpaper shooters seem to offer up these days.

On a retro beat, we also 100% New Super Mario Brothers Wii. Look we took a screenshot just to prove it to the ether. NSMB was one of those odd points in our game playing career when we put the game down for a long time, picked it up again and got a lot out of it. We found the post-credit game to be amazing and once again we're reminded that Nintendo does a lot of work to make the game look simple but is a devil with the detail of the design. In the first World you can visit Peach Castle and spend those Star Coins (there's nothing else to spend them on) on various hint movies. It's essentially a GAMEfaq within the game. In addition to hint movies showing you the location of secret exits and the more elusive star coins you can also buy 'Super Skills' videos. I imagine most players just wouldn't bother, we didn't until we'd 100% everything but viewing these at the eleventh hour of the game made us realise we've been playing NSMB all wrong all along.

   

Looks simple right? It's impossible for mere mortals to judge virtually everyone single one of those jumps let alone all of them in one video. There's a whole bunch of super skills videos and they made us wonder hard. Like, furrowed brow, fist under chin wonder. Are the levels designed and laid out deliberately with these kinds of skilled runs in mind or is it just a bunch of bored people at the Super Mario Club that come up with these in their lunch break? It seems that every koopa and every goomba has been purposefully placed exactly so for the less than 1% of players who can see through the code. We'd like to think they are made by real players and not procedurally generated. Especially this one, that one makes us sick to all four of our  stomachs and we hope that there are 14,000 failed videos attempting that run on the cutting room floor somewhere. 

So there we have it. Retro Old skool is the new black. No pressing X to win here compadres. Or A. Poor right buffer, never gets pressed to win.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dead Space Martyr

In a moment of not being particularly inspired at the book shop I ended up buying Dead Space Martyr, knowing nothing about it other than it is set in the Dead Space Universe. We really liked Dead Space, something set it apart from the overflowing bundle of sci-fi future space shooters. It stuck with us in a way that other games in the same pool haven't. See, we've played Halo and Gears of War. Worse even we've read every single Halo novel and watched the anime compilation Halo: Legends. Yet if you were to ask us what happens in Halo. It's a total blank. The whole SPARTAN programme we remember and then there was a Halo? And some Zombies? And the Pillar of Autumn. That was all Halo, Halo 2? No idea. You could duel wield. Halo 3? The theatre mode was amazing. Oddly we remember more about Halo:Reach even though it's probably the worst of the bunch. Gears? Well there was emergence day and then a giant worm. When Epic ran their poll to determine whether or not the third Carmine brother would survive in Gears 3, we had to look up who the Carmine brothers were and check if/how the other two had died. 

There may be something wrong with us, yet we remember the entire plot of Asimov's Foundation series. It might have something to do with the fact that we only have a tiny amount of time to ever play through games these days and so rush through. But it still doesn't explain not being able to recall a single detail from all 143 Halo books. Maybe we have taste and don't want to commit schlocky space marine stories to our long term memory. Dead Space, though. That's a whole different story. We're still to play Dead Space 2 but loved Dead Space, Dead Space Extraction and the anime Dead Space Downfall. Cross media when done right sets all our neurones firing. Something about the setting, USG Ishimura is a powerful place and the plot with planet cracking, the Marker, Unitology and the descent into madness worked together well to lead us to think fondly of the series. So with this in mind we were keen to see what Dead Space Martyr had to add to the Dead Space chronicles. 

SPOILERS ABOUND (sort of) 

The answer is not very much. Like other poor prequel works it suffers from having to link up with the story that succeeds it and ends up replicating it even though there's a lot of material to draw from the original Dead Space so there's a nice continuum between the book and game. Characters and events that are mentioned in the games happen in the book. The problem is that the book features the best of Dead Space. Familiar elements come to play in the same order that they do in Extraction and the Downfall game and comic. A Marker is discovered, people start having headaches and committing suicide it all plays out as you are already familiar with except instead of being in space it's set under the water in Mexico. 

The only reason it might be worth sticking with is to find out a bit more about Michael Altman who is the founder of the Church of Unitology but the twists and turns are tired ones. There's a shady organisation that is every shady organisation you can think of and Altman is a very typical hero type. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint), the book doesn't expound upon things which are left open by the games in particular, the origin of the Marker remains mysterious and stays that way. I dunno, I was sort of expecting more (from a video game novelisation ha ha ha!) but it just goes through the paces, ticking the right boxes and filling out some of the information about a minor character in the series. Also and weirdly a lot of the characters in Martyr have the same name as characters from Dead Space despite a three hundred year gap in the timeline this seems a bit unnecessary, including one Hideki Ishimura, who it is proposed (by the Dead Space fans) the USG Ishimura is named after. Odd.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 'Real' Cost Of Used Games

First up read this, it's Richard Browne (pictured below) from umm, well he's an industry veteran okay. And he's finally willing to bring to the table that much missing piece of evidence to prove that pre-owned games are killing kids, raising house prices and toppling the game industry. At last. Some actual evidence to scrutinise rather than a dev sounding off because their last poorly marketed shite game that sat on the shelves for two weeks didn't sell as much as Wii Sports. That key piece of evidence?


A colleague of mine brought to light how bad this has become just the other week. He went into his local GameStop and was point blank REFUSED the option of buying the game he went to get new. After pressuring the sales assistant for a few minutes he finally got his new game - but only after the assistant got his manager's approval to sell it to him. [via Gamesindsutry international]
Ah, okay. That appears to be an anecdote and a suspiciously tall tale. Browne then goes on to mention the death of single player gaming. No really. Poor gaming. PC gaming is perpetually dying, Couch co-op gaming is dead. Add single player games to that list. That leaves ARGs and online multiplayer games, you know like L.A Noire, Zumba Fitness, Mass Effect, Batman Arkham City, Assassin's Creed and all those console RPGs and virtually every other game that did well last year. Oh well dead. Long live single player.

Oh wait someone who can actually write over at Wired called it. Read that instead. That uses facts and data rather than feelings to show that Browne should be added to long list of games people who totally abuse the platform they have to play scapegoat. We're going to keep saying it until someone listens: can someone please wake us when game industry professionals grow up and decide they want to run businesses rather than the billion dollar unstable backward sham of an industry it is now?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Progress. Whore.

Do you know about the backloggery? If you don't you should know about the Backloggery. It ticks a lot of boxes in our brain. You create and account and then (manually, but it is worth it) add all the games you've played, review them and then note whether you've not beaten the game (bronze), beaten it (completed the 'story' that's a silver medal) or 100% (gold medal) of for those doubly hard bastard out there MASTERED IT (a gem that denotes you've played a game inside and out and back again). Then after all that at a glance you can see what percentage of all the game you own you've seen all the way through to the end.

You may find it all a bit arbitrary and in the same vein as the compulsion to "Thousand" games on the Xbox 360, beating the game and getting all the achievement points for it. For us, the backloggery helps us to document and progress on the all the games we own and haven't finished yet. I don't know about you but we have a rather substantial 'collection' of games that represent an investment of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of hours worth of play. Yet when we find ourselves in the rare situation with time to play games we are often paralysed by indecision. The choice is too much. Shall we play no no there's that sucky bit. Maybe we should play.. ugh. I have to get the light gun out for that. PARALYSED.

Browsing our backloggery page which you can see here shames us into the excruciating effort of putting a disk (or cart) into a machine and slogging through it. We don't want to be in the majority of gamers who don't ever finish games. And then 90%of time, game selected we'll then spend the next couple of hours happily playing a game we otherwise wouldn't have been bothered to play for fear of a hard bit. Hey, don't judge us. yeah we're lazy and require motivating like some fucking attention deficient four year old but the Backloggery gives us that little glimmer of reward to motivate us to play the games we waste all our money on. We know, we know. We have some proper issues. Bear with us.

And some games aren't worth the effort. Capcom games in particular massively open up once you beat the main story but our ageing brains and tiny amounts of leisure time mean, with some games we're happy to cut and run (or settle for a 'silver' medal on the Backloggery). We won't ever kill 53594 zombies in Dead Rising, we won't ever be able to unlock the hand cannon in Resident Evil 4, there's nobody left in the world interested enough in We Love Golf for the Wii for us to ever be able to unlock Ken. We're fine with it. We're sort of obsessive compulsive but we have our fucking limits.

Anyway all that bullshit above is foreplay to explain why we've been playing Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros 2, 3, lost levels, NSMB and NSMB Wii. We haven't ever completed any of them despite owning some of them more than once and in terms of backloggery progress the old SNES and NES games are gifts double edged gifts. Back in the day there were no unlockables, or extra modes or achievements or side quests so beating SMB gets us a gold medal on the backloggery. The downside is that they're not the easiest of games. Lost Levels. OMG. OMG Lost Levels. Even the first SMB is giving us a hard time on World 8. Fortunately, NSMB is a little bit easier, to 'gold' the game all you need to do is collect the three hidden star coins on every single level. On the DS version, collecting them is a slog. Some of them are hidden in areas that require either the turtle suit or tiny Mario, the rub being that there's not really an easy way to get those suits so the game becomes hunting down a level with a tiny mushroom or random block, getting the suit you need (which is a hit and miss affair with the random blocks forcing a restart) going to the level with the hidden area, navigating that level without losing the suit or dying and then getting to the end of that level. And some of the Star coins. Ugh. Hours. Hours going back and forth (quick loading is for cheating scumbags) for a virtual ticker to tick over by one. 

New Super Mario Brothers Wii is slightly different in that it does away with rare suit specific coins and in a weird way the end game becomes less a platformer and more, dare we suggest it, a puzzle game? Each level has three star coins and when you collect them you can see whether they're the first second or third one on the level. After a couple of runs you can intuit roughly where one should be and then use subtle environmental clues to work out what you need to do to find it. Some are just mildly tricky to get. Others are tantalisingly dangled in front of you on the screen but need a tricky jump, hidden beanstalk or some lateral thinking to get it. Others just appear to not be there and lead to minutes of trying to go down every pipe, wall jumping and other random actions in the area. After we first beat the main story we wrote of ever getting all of the star coins as a task too challenging and time consuming and one to file under WILL NEVER DO. Inspired by our Backloggery drive and some progress on the earlier SMBs we loaded up NSMBWii to see how far we could get with the Star Coins. AND THE ANSWER IS PRETTY FUCKING FAR. With only maybe one or two visits to gamefaqs we've managed to get all the star coins up until World 7 (out of 9). Also, unlike NSMB on the DS getting the Star coins is actually worthwhile, unlocking a whole new world and when we loaded up our old completed game there were two whole worlds that, thanks to warp cannons, we'd not even set foot in. It's more than doubled out play time of the game and judging from the 166,000 other players who submit their data to the Nintendo Channel, with an impressive average play time of 43 hours, they've spent a lot of time nabbing Star Coins too.

Review of the above post: Tl:dr, what does that beginning bit have to do with anything? Sometimes silence is more eloquent that words.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seven Deadly Sins of Gaming: FEAR

Oh shit. Here's an original idea, a new feature from TGAM looking at the seven deadly sins of gaming. For our other long running and not at all forgotten running features see practically every post we ever did. For the absolute originality of the Seven Deadly Sins theme just google "Gaming Seven Deadly Sins". 0 hits you'll find. 

So here's out brand new feature that will probably peter out. Peeter out? Pooter out? Petre out? trail off after this one. We're looking at fear. But we aren't just about new features, we're about features within features so before the word feature starts to look weird, here's the latest on the Seven Deadly Sins of Gaming: FEAR from out in game correspondent surveying the populace of Xenoblade Chronicles. What do they have to say about either new features or FEAR in games Alcamoth Citizen?

Oh shit me that is pretty fearsome. Fear in games comes in many forms. Survival horror is often said to be scary but as I'm sure we've mentioned before, sometimes the term is misappropriated. Remember Resident Evil, the series that started this blog all those years ago? Not scary. It isn't a scary game and we aren't just saying that because we are doubly hard fearless dudebro hipsters, it isn't scary. Well most of it isn't, the fear comes from fear of dying and having to play through the bits you've just done again. The fear doesn't transcend the screen to shit you up for months on end. Proper fear in games does that. It shits you up and gives you nightmares. Except you're grown up and not supposed to have nightmares. Here's the definitive scariest shit in games. 

1) Silent Hill. We could pick out moments but there are many in this series. Even the trailers for games we long ago busted still mess us up. Remember when we said we couldn't pick out moments: a stranger sings happy birthday to you down the phone (a bit that the second Silent Hill movie straight up nicked for the trailer), your radio starts to crackle, an air raid siren sounds, you find a file about paranormal behaviour in adolescent girls and then can never find it again in subsequent playthroughs. You look out your apartment window to see a figure across the road just pointing at you. Fairgrounds. Urgh. That's enough. We're starting to freak ourselves out just typing about it. I've been watching the Two Best Friends playthrough and Silent Hill Downpour, unfortunately, looks a bit pap. Shattered Memories on the other hand probably pips Silent Hill 4 for just making us shit ourselves constantly. And that's a game where you can't die unless you are in the otherworld. Even with the knowledge that you're safe as long as it isn't icy, exploring the town by torchlight is strictly for playing when you have a spotter and when it is light outside. And that#s when you can't be hurt, in the icy otherworld the screaming ice men and the fact that there's nothing you can do except run makes the hairs on our neck stand up. Enough now or we won't be able to sleep. 


2) Forbidden Siren. Fuck that. Seriously, fuck it. It should be laughable, Japanese people with cockney accents firing about. But it's the sight jacking that does us in. You can 'sight jack' to see through the eyes of nearby enemies. The first time you use it and you see the back of your characters head. We outright refuse to play it any more. It's creepy. 

3) Lakitu. Yeah, weren't expecting the old make-a-list-and-put-something-on-it-that-very-clearly-is-a-joke. We've bringing out the heavyweight techniques of video game journalism right here. Lakitu fucks us up. Not in Mario Kart or the other spin-offs but in the platforming Mario games. We've been trying to get all the star coins on NSMB Wii as well as playing through the older Mario Bros games and we've noticed a tensing of the sphincter whenever Lakitu turns up. I don't know where it stems from, probably from the hours we put into SMB and SMB3 back in the day but no doubt about it Lakitu is chaos in an otherwise ordered world. Most of the other enemies wander around in an orderly fashion but Lakitu messes it up floating around there chucking out spiny eggs at random. We've just learned they're called spiny eggs. He's easy to beat, wait until you can platform high enough and get him or just ignore him. It's best to ignore him. Still he gives us the jitters and makes us very subtly sigh every time he pops up. Panic forcing us to make countless stupid errors. Bastard.

4) Heavy Rain- The Taxidermist. We're quite rude about the PS3 in general but we (still) feel let down by the successor to the PS2. The DLC chapter the taxidermist however, was amazing. That room is straight from a nightmare we now have.

5) Eternal Darkness. Somewhat gimmicky but boy what an effective one. Eternal Darkness has three bars you want to keep topped up, Health, Magic and Sanity. Health and magic are obvious but once sanity started to wane a bunch of creepy effects would start to creep into your games. The ones that are often mentioned are where it would mimic the channel being change, or the TV being muted or pretending the game is a demo and you've timed out but we found the in game ones to be proper pant filling- your avatar would shrink, or head would randomly fall off or a fly would crawl around on the inside of the screen. Like we said, gimmicky but disconcerting enough to make sure the sanity meter was always topped up. 

That's it. Some might say Dead Space is fear inducing but it isn't. It's spooky flesh men jumping out of cupboards. True fear is the stuff that plays on your mind once the console is off and we've definitely had anxiety dreams about Lakitu, cockney Japs looking at us and a room with a giant head with crazy eyeballs in it. Oh god, we're going to need some coffee to stay up all night tonight.

I did find it funny, not so much sad

Yes it's a review of three year old Madworld for the Nintendo Wii. When it came out last millennium in 2009, the middling reviews and the overt attempt at being 'mature' put us off. Until we found it for sale for £2.50. At that price we don't care if it is shit.

But it isn't shit. It is actually quite good. It is a very inspired title. By that we mean it's probably easier to explain the game to you in the media that has 'inspired' it. Take the aesthetic from Sin City, and the plots from Escape from L.A. (or Batman Arkham city for our younger readers), The Running Man, Manhunt and a splash of No More Heroes. Allow to rest and then whisk in mechanics and directly lift at least one boss character from Devil May Cry. Add a couple of levels on a bike from Final Fantasy VII, throw in a Caddyshack reference and a level that rips off Star Wars. If you are going to lean on source material, they could have chosen worse sources of inspiration I guess.

You play as Jack, complete with a foldable arm mounted chainsaw arm, who has arrived on an Varrigan City which has been cut off from the rest of the world and turned into a city wide arena for a brutal competition of DeathWatch games. There's some hockum about a virus as well but you don't need to know that. Jack must then punch, chainsaw and QTE his way to be the top ranked Deathwatch contestant to fulfil his own personal aims. 

The game is a lot of fun and it took us about 14 hours to get through, taking our time over some areas. You move through Varrigan City and each area has a theme. It starts of with a fairly standard street area, through Asian Town a Halloween castle and then on to UFO inspired 'Area 66'. Each region has three areas in it with two as arena to brawl through and a boss level at the end. The bosses make what can be slogging through impaling lesser dudes worthwhile and we even got stuck on one (in a good way) for too long than we'd like to admit. Some of the QTEs, particularly in the boss fights, seem to be a bit generous in interpreting waggling but most of the time they have you mimetically matching on screen actions which works much better than just straight forward button QTEs which can take your focus off of what's happening in the background.

In order to progress through each area you need to hit a score to unlock various events until the final boss challenge is opened. You could just punch a bad guy to death but if you impale them with a road sing and then slam a barrel on their head you get more points. If you then use the environment or get multiple kills at the same time the score starts to rocket. As your score grows towards the target for the end of level boss, melee weapons, environmental hazards and Bloodbath Challenges are available. Melee weapons add a bit of diversity to chainsaw kills and Bloodbath Challenges are mini games that give you a chance to rack up points. They include such challenges as Man Darts, Death Press and 'Money Shot'. Some are easy, some are more fiddly. In particular, Money Shot sees Jack having to shake up a bottle of bubbly (waggle the wiimore obviously) before jamming it into the eye of a bad guy until the bottle pops sending them flying. The idea is to get them to hit one of three spiked targets on the naughty spots of two giant naked ladies but there's more luck than judgement involved in getting them on target.

Other things the game is to be commended on is the running commentary (fuck you Bastion) which does repeat but does solicit the odd chuckle and continues into the credit sequence which is one of the most watchable credit sequences in games. The game has its own soundtrack which inoffensively goes on in the background but has lyrics all about the game! Go SEGA. On that note, every character is a potty mouth but it just about manages to hit the sweet spot along with SEGA stablemate House of the Dead Overkill in not being just outright offensive and fitting the overall setting of the game. In fact, the two games make a nice pair of fun, if shallow hammer horror games unlike any others.

There's plenty of replay value, after you beat an area you can return to it to beat high score (high scores awarded for battering bad guys in the most 'creative' of ways but which ends up boiling down to impaling them with up to 5 things, putting a barrel over their head and then throwing them into an environmental death spot be it a dumpster, spiked wall, out of the airlock or into a piranha tank) and a number of challenges open up. And this is where our biggest complaint lies, often it isn't clear what you need to do. Sometimes we are sick of the handholding in modern games but we spent over an hour in the second Halloween arena trying to work out what we needed to do 'five of' for one of the challenges. A quick gamefaq revealed the answer but  it wasn't exactly intuitive although we had some fun in that hour creatively killing foes in as many ways as possible to try to work it out. This being said, we probably won't ever wade through it again, we've seen all it has to offer and enjoyed it but a replay isn't going to add anything. 

If you can find it for less than a fiver we'd suggest giving it a go it's a couple of gaming sessions well spent and there's a multiplayer bit to it but we didn't try it out.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Goodbye GAME reward card...

Its time to pack it all in, I made myself very ill when GAME briefly closed down thinking of the vast amounts of GAME reward points I had collected for over 10 years.

I had been telling myself that I would spend it on the next console release...

...but fuck it! It a slippery slope the GAME group is on, so it's getting spent, diced up and never to be thought about again.

Love and I hardly knew ye,

Richie X

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bye Bye Game Focus


We're all about being open and transparent with YOU, the homeless transsexual checking the Internet when you should be working and this post, friend((ette)?) is going to be a short one.

London indie game store GAME FOCUS has closed its doors (EDGE has the scoop).

This is a fucking tragedy and much more sad face for us than the whatever-the-fuck-is-happening-with-GAME. 

Game focus was a lovely little store that we'd frequently go to just browse. Not only did they have OLD FORMATS, pretty much every GBA and GC game I bought was from here but they used to have amazing displays of limited edition games, consoles and peripherals. Also they sold PlayStation promo copies for like a pound each. They did not give a fuck even though they were emblazoned with "PROMOTIONAL COPY NOT FOR RESALE". 

The shop took a bit of a dive when they moved all the DVDs upstairs and the games to the basement and for some reason their amazing display cases got culled and the display merch significantly reduced. To hear that they are closed is a sad day indeed.

Sad AND FUCKING MENTAL. We live and work in central London and now there isn't a game specialist* within walking distance of the heart of the capital. If Sir Lord Alan Sugar wants to fuck next year's Apprentice candidates on the here's a lit of stuff you need to buy task he should just ask them to track down a copy of, I don't know, that rare and obscure game Super Mario Sunshine.  

The gaming community is constantly banging on about how games are the biggest growing, highest grossing entertainment industry so why is it that there's now nowhere to physically go to consume games? That's important so we'll say it again, there's nowhere for the millions of people who play games, more people than have ever been interested in games, to go to buy games from a 'specialist' in the motherfucking capital^. Sure you can go to CEX but what if you don't have a fucking clue about games because you don't sit all day F5'ing www.allthosegamesites.com to find out about what's going on? The customers don't have a clue about what's good and what's shit and guess what? Second hand games don't represent the best that gaming has to offer because they're the games people don't want to play anymore. I wish that devs would stop using platforms like MCV to blame the pre-owned market for the failure of poorly marketed and distinctly average Clone Shit Shooter 3: Like that other shooter but less fun which has a man dressed in grey walking along with a bunch of guns in an army suit. On line retailers have hammered a couple of nails into the coffin of high street retailer but a lot of the time, savvy sellers keep prices updated (Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii for how much?) but the 'market' prices aren't competitive, they're ridiculous. Generally speaking, sealed critically acclaimed or limited release titles' prices inflate on line whilst anything outside of the top say 10% of games depreciate in a matter of weeks. The excellent Bit.Trip Complete is down to half price with most retailers and it isn't even a fucking month old. Critically acclaimed Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now £5 in HMV. £5 after just seven months! Oh the big developers are fine you might think. Name any other industry that has such poor stability, frequently a game developer will make a good game, do well, get bought out, release a less than stellar game and then get broken down. We're not just talking about the little guys we're talking about some of the big players. Inevitably they will then go off to form a new studio, rinse and repeat.

'What about digital product?' you might stop rooting around in your nose with your thumb just long enough to suggest, however it was only last month that digital only PC games sales ticked over to 50% and that's PCs. The format where you're already on line.  This last couple of weeks twitter has been awash slightly damp with people tweeting developers and publishers with "Where can I buy your game that is out this week?". Why aren't publishers going to stores and taking the likes of GAME to task for being out of stock, hiding new releases or just being generally incompetent. I'd be down there saying, look our game is fucking amazing and if you sell it like this it'll sell a shit load. Your customers will be happy, you'll be happy and we'll be happy. Oh wait it isn't all doom and gloom the supermarkets are here to help that is the best fucking joke I've heard all century. Have you been to a supermarket to buy a game? They're clueless.

It makes us so angry for the industry that occasionally throws us a bone to make our hobby worthwhile seems to be so backward when it comes to getting its product to market effectively. In the rush to become culturally relevant and technologically impressive it seems everyone forgot to take How To Run A Business 101.

Are we the only ones angry about this? We're this close [-] to just giving up on gaming altogether and we fucking love gaming but its constantly us bending over to support the industry that at times seems to think it is too fucking cool and aloof to behave like a grown-up industry. We're so mad we're not even going to re-read this for typos because we'll just add a ton more swears and probably give ourselves a heart attack.

NB Wow that turned out quite long we should probably change the intro.


* Video game or board game. Two of the ace board game shops and two comic shops in the capital closed down in the last twelve months making casual geekery window shopping very tough after you've wandered around Forbidden Planet.

^ If you do know of anywhere that isn't a crack den could you let us know? Thanks.

Nintendo Channel: Now Showing

We check in with the Wii's Nintendo Channel because, well you won't bother to do it on your own. Here's some of the new content that is up since last time.

  • Finally! It seems like someone out there has been reading our weekly-ish gripes about Nintendo's poorly used Nintendo Channel and they've only gone and posted the entirety of Satoru Iwata's Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation. This is what we want. No gimmicks. No bullshit round the bush hype just straight up Nintendo news from Nintendo itself. Sure, there's a whole bunch of "Details not confirmed for Europe" disclaimers but I'd rather that than having to wait for the video game blogosphere to give us the news once they've added their sneery commentary or worse have to sit through the NoA Nintendo Direct presentations. More of this please Ninty and if you don't have a Wii you can watch the presentation here!
  • The Last Story continues to receive some love from the Nintendo Channel with yet another interview. Hopefully it will sell well despite the UK's biggest game retailer not stocking it...
  • Nintendo also seems to be keen to push Dillon's Rolling Western for the 3DS and there's a trailer up on the Nintendo Channel. It does look like an interesting twist on the Tower Defence Genre but we're not sure why this game is getting pushed quite so hard.
  • There's also a new Pokepark 2 trailer up. Despite being self confessed Pokemaniacs the Pokepark games look firmly family orientated. PP2 has been receiving average but "young kids will love it" reviews although I have to say the trailer does make the game look quite exciting.
  • There's four Weekly Download trailers up (when was the last time we wrote one of these?) showcasing the latest digital downloads available through Wiiware, DSiWare and Virtual Console. As ever the selection is a real mixed bag. Highlights are Fun!Fun!Minigolf TOUCH!, Mega Man X and Strider. Lowlights are 1001 BlockBusters, Aahhh! Spot the Difference, of course Successfully Learning Mathematics Year 5 and yet another Poker game. 
  • SpeedThru: Potzol's Puzzle looks like an inoffensive 3DS game, you control an Aztec guardian (oddly shaped like Tetrominoes pieces) that hurtle towards walls with convenient Tetromino shaped holes in them. We've seen this concept from Nintendo before however, most recently in Wii Motion Play.
  • As the last of the Operation Rainfall games to come out in the UK, Pandora's Tower has two trailers up. Pandora's Tower always looked to us like the weakest game of the stable and unfortunately from the review we've read so far this seems to be the case. Still it looks passable in the two demos so give 'em a butchers.
  • Bizarrely, the Kirby TV Channel is back again. Check it out if you missed last year's very slow roll out of every episode of a poor quality TV series based on Kirby on your Nintendo Wii for free.
  • There's a trailer up for 3DS Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure. Originally we wrote it off as yet another DS game that looks like Layton but plays like balls. Actually the trailer's convinced me to check it out- it looks like it takes inspiration from Elite Beat Agents and Warioware to create a fun rhythm game adventure. 
  • Elsewhere on your Wii whilst you've got it on there's a new Wiiware demo for Anima: Ark of Sinners. If you are too young to remember Net Yaroze demo discs then I suggest you download Anima to appreciate just how awful most Net Yaroze games were back in the day.
  • As ever there's a "new" live Mario Kart Wii competition- a gate based time trial on DK's Snowboard Cross.
  • The Mii Contest Channel continues to tick over, check in to submit a umm Beowulf themed Mii and check out the latest contest results and vote on live contests. In particular examine the racist stereotypes of people who make pizzas and see the difficulty that the Mii creating community seems to have fitting the theme "Someone who just graduated (from school)". Also for a laugh, check out the imagination that went into the creation of Miis and the contest voting for the theme "Someone who helps a Princess". It is truly astounding.
  • Lastly, in what has turned out to be a mega update, don't forget to see the results on the Everybody Votes Channel to discover what Scottish people seem to be more realistic about than the rest of the UK, how where you leave can affect what you are afraid of and the South American country that is the most altruistic country in the whole world. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Peter Molyneux Breaking News!

Where did Peter Molyneux come from? Recently, it feels like every other video game article is about him, something he said, where he moved to and what he thought of game X. He is on a mission to get as much coverage as possible (presumably as two Fable games are due to come out soon). Well his reach extends far, even into the world of Xenoblade Chronicles where Alcamoth Citizen has this breaking news to report:


Should Peter be worried?

Monday, April 09, 2012

Justifiably Trivial

We were lucky enough to reach the grand old age of 30 again last week and among the presents presented us for surviving the 90s was a copy of Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition. Now, if you're like us then Trivial Pursuit progresses by quickly hoovering up the green, yellow, blue, pink and brown (now purple, presumably to avoid endless entertaining 'pink or brown' choices) wedges/cheeses/pizzas and then spending the rest of the game passing back and forth over the orange Pizzedge spot waiting for the odd chess question in between endless fucking cricket and soccerball questions. Well. NO LONGER!

The recent master edition now has a bunch of video game based questions meaning that a) It doesn't take quite so long to get that orange chedge slice b) Finally, all that video game knowledge is justified in the eyes of your immediate family as you beat Uncle "Knows it All" to the win all because of a Halo question.

Somewhat paradoxically it takes inclusion in Trivial Pursuit to make games more mainstream* now that knowing about them has been elevated to the same heady heights as knowing bullshit about who kicked some balls where back in 1969. 



* Yeah we know, we've already won but Leigh Alexander might struggle to fill her EDGE column if we didn't keep banging on about it.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mixed Emotions

A new Steel Battalion we can actually play AMAZING! Oh requires Kinect BALLS. Still it means we don't have to buy a new piece of plastic for the ever growing pile of peripherals AMAZING. Fist bumping? BALLS. Seriously, fucking fist bumping? BALLS. Is this what it takes for the 'hardcore' to accept the Kinect? BALLS Fist-Bumping? BALLS. FistbumpingBALLS. Fistbumpballs. Fistballs. Fialls. FIALS.