Saturday, March 28, 2009

Arcade Trolling

Well, I've supposedly found an arcade that has Blazblue: Calamity Trigger and is closer then the one my friend suggested to me. Puente Hill Mall apparently. But as a last ditch thing, I trolled a bunch of my local arcades to see what's new in town.

Imagine my surprise when I see SFIV arcade machines in my local mall, the Asian Garden Mall. I used to think that being run by Vietnamese people, it wouldn't be on the cutting edge of gaming, but there it was, freshly imported with Taito card readers and everything. Not only impressive for just being there, but also impressive because I've read it's technically illegal to import these particular machines.

My local movie theater at Bella Terra also has the latest in shooters, Time Crisis 4 and House of the Dead 4, hard to find in many places, along with a little known Mario x Namco Kart Racing game (yup, play as Pac-Man, racing in a go-kart).

So if you've been surprised by recent additions to your arcade, drop me a line. Let's all keep the arcade zombie up as long as we can!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Air Guitars and Air Juggles

I never got into Guilty Gear because I thought it's learning curve was too high (scratch that. It's learning wall). But now Blazblue is succeeding it in terms of design and most of all, music.

I'm constantly blasting the Blazblue ost in my iPod. Give it try if you have a bittorrent client (remember kids! I endorse uTorrent!)

Go Google it morons!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wii Updates to 4.0: Answers Our Prayers

For years now, Nintendo has bragged of their intimacy with it's consumers. They think they know us and know what we want. For some reason, they think we don't want storage. Nintendo is just deluding itself now.

The memory on the Wii gets cramped fast. If you like the Shop Channel, get ready to redownload all your stuff, cause the main Wii menu will fill up fast, and an SD card for storage means copying the data back and forth for use.

Now 4.0 is out and it answers our prayers in terms of storage. Now we can launch games from the SD card, so with a simple 1GB card, you can store much more and play them straight from it.

N64 games are the biggest problem, taking up hundreds of blocks at a time. Now you can store them on the SD card with plenty of room and play them too with no memory juggling.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A New Stage In My Xbox 360's Life

UPDATE: I've included links to the as of yet to be released games to places where I think the videos on display are a good indicator of the game'ss quality.

Back in 2007 to 2008, I was partially ashamed of having mostly shooter games. I had Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead, and Call of Duty: World at War.

Shooters are fun and all, but they quite honestly leave a bad taste in my mouth. Skill in my opinion in these kinds of games are kind of arbitrary. In Halo, competitive games meant know the spawn points for all the best weapons on the map. The range of motions for skills like aiming, shooting, throwing nades, and just moving was a big task. And worst of all, shooters don't have the best reputation for having a community of pleasant folks to play with. It seems like every shooter has it's fair share of rascist, homophobe, asshole gamers who think everyone wants to hear them sing, blast their music, or otherwise don't know how to turn off their mic when their personal life comes bursting through the door.

I believe fighters on the other hand, are simply the purist form of competition. Know your character and his moves. Know your enemy and what moves he might use. Space yourselves and kick the shit out of each others' avatars. And fight games have old roots in the old arcade scene. Dedicated roots with history and skill. And now my 360 is going to be home of some wild figthers. 2D fighters (Let's not talk about Soul Calibur 4 and stuff).

Goddamn! Let go of my life!

Street Fighter IV, as you know, is my current obsession. Simple on the surface, deep on the inside. It's an established franchise that's a new entry, but veterans liken it to a second coming of Street Fighter 2, to give you an example of it's familiarity.

Return of the King

But that's not all! King of Fighters XII is coming this year! SNK's classic fighting game who has always been at odds with Capcom's succcess with Street Fighter. It's had it's own following, with it's own deep gameplay with a flurry of characters and features and I've always thought of it as much more high class then Street Fighter (while Street Fighter embraced simpler double quarter circle motions, KOF had much bolder, complicated motions like half circle forward + quarter circle back from that position) and as if that weren't enough, XII is going to be crazy with nearly everything hand drawn and animated. Seriously, every frame was lovingly drawn and animated into perfect sequence.

It's got an awesome sense of style. Google it yourself man!

And finally is one that's perhaps most hardcore. A spiritual successor to Guilty Gear, the crazy hardcore game that practically brought 2D fighting games back into the limelight of the 21st century. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, takes the crazy homage to the crazy character designs of GG, envisions an entirely new cast of insane characters, brings back the rocking music we all pegged GG for, and polished up everything to a mirror sheen that would produce fires in drybush. That's BlazBlue to me. Everything's in: showstopping finishers, awesome supers, airdashing, air blocking, cancels, and maybe a kitchen sink to smack them with.

Ok, not really, but still...

Selling Me On the DSi

Sunday was a little different for me then usual. Usually I spend time at home, in my room, lamp on to focus on my homework which I regulate to Sundays. After all, the weekend only comes so often in the week, so any work is taken care of only when necessary.

Weeks before hand though, my membership in the Nintendo Club finally pay off. As a Platinum member (someone who's bought a certain Nintendo games and registered them on his online profile) I've finally received a perk for spending so much money on ill fated Nintendo games. I was invited to a special preview session of the DSi, Nintendo's upcoming third iteration of the Nintendo DS.

It's important to note though I'm a fairly skeptical consumer. When I first heard of the DSi a while ago, I immedeitely though, "Why should I get a new DS when mine works just fine?"

Well, after attending the preview, it's changed my mind, if only because of the special gift card they handed out that makes my current DS Lite worth $100 credit (it's normally worth $70).

The DSi's new features are certainly head turning in some aspects. It's built in cameras aren't anything to scoff at. These babies take fine pictures. Not high quality mind you, but nice enough that if something weird or interesting is on the scene and you always have your DS on hand, having a DSi ready means having a picture. Best part though? Since it uses an SD card, transferring pics is a simple task with no wires. Just slip it into the laptop and cut/paste.

The music player isn't something I'm terribly interested in, but if you don't have an iPod, it's definitely worth something. It's like having a nice MP3 player, but with one drawback: it only plays ACC format sound files. No MP3 filetypes, so I guess it's not really a freaking MP3 player in the first place. Still, it has nice visualizer effects, and it can cut down on the stuff you wanna carry around.

The DSi also hints at a DS Store, much like the Wii's Shop Channel. The Internet has already speculated on what could possibly go up for sale there, including classic SNES games and the like. We'll have to wait and see.

Really though, the biggest sell on me was the DS Lite $100 trade back value card, which will only work at the Gamestop I went to for the preview, but hey, my DS Lite's L button is kind of sketchy in function. It'll definitely pass the inspection process mind you, but getting a new DS with a better L button and a camera thrown in isn't all bad at $50, right?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ever Think Why PSN is Free?

via kotaku

I play on the 360. That means to enjoy online features, I have to pay a subscription fee. This is one thing PS3 owners hold over my head to no end. But haven't you ever wondered why it's free?

I do know that Microsoft prefers that people making downloadable content available make that content "premium" (READ: make'em pay for it), but that doesn't mean they all are of course. We do get free content on occasion, and there is much rejoicing when we do.

But the Playstation Network? Well, of course accessing it in the first place is free. But the publishers? Apparently they're having a hissy fit on the fees that come from putting DLC on the PSN.

The PlayStation Network Bandwidth Fee, instituted on October 1st of last year, charges game publishers 16 cents per gigabyte of free and paid content download via the PlayStation Network, which presumably helps Sony cover the cost of the bandwidth. The fee only covers the first 60 days of downloads for free content, while paid content accrues fees until the content is removed from the service.

While 16 cents may not sound like much, as MTV Multiplayer points out, a one gigabyte demo downloaded one million times equals an additional $160,000 a publisher has to pay Sony, on top of licensing fees to get their games on the PlayStation 3 in the first place. Needless to say, publishers aren't too happy about the fee.

Big deal stuff has been bolded. Your stuff on the PSN popular? That's great! Now pay up publisher!

The arguments between Xbox Live's subscription fees and Playstation's free service is never going to end, but this is certainly food for thought on how you percieve the business your recieve.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Councilman Resigns After Rascist Flash Game Backlash

via gamepolitics

John Dowdy, a Georgian Councilman, must've skipped some important decision making processes when this scandal came to light. One day, he plays what may be a fun, but nonetheless, rascist flash game involving Mexicans and border patrol. So a prominent politician thinks a random flash game is fun. It's kinda rascist (maybe not even kinda, but more like really), so perhaps he should keep the fact he's even played it in the first place a secret.

Nope, he forwards it to all his friends in the office.

So two things happened. Someone was offended, and someone was offended enough to leak this news to the press. Kudos to them, but seriously Councilman Dowdy, was emailing this to your friends the best choice?

At best, you could've forwarded it to your best friend. Like, bestest friend. The guy who's you confidant. Chances are in the game of life, one of your friends is probably going to have objections about you and your choices. So what? Is everyone calling your John "MexiCAN" Dowdy?

He's resigned, obviously to avoid walking into city council to have everyone call him that nickname.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One of My Favorite Idols has an Xbox 360? *A*

One of my favorite Japanese idols is Shoko Nakagawa, or Shoko-tan for short (tan is a childish mispronunciation of chan, which is an honorific to refer to girls). I found out about her in early 2007 as an otaku idol, in other words, a celebrity who embraces their nerdier hobbies. She is an accomplished anime fan and extends that love into cosplaying in her spare time between her blossoming music career.

Now I find out on Kotaku that she's gotten her own Xbox 360 and she's made her gamertag public.

Fucking A

via kotaku

and her's her official blog, which she updates regularly. Yeah, that's another cool point about this idol.

So yeah, I have sent her a friend request.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bailing it Big Time in Skate 2

Rewind to the 90s. As a gullible 10-year-something kid, I simply wanted to play whatever was the hottest around. Tony Hawk put skate boarding games on the map with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, an arcade style skateboard game where you pull off all sorts of tricks through combinations of button presses.

Skip to 2007. Tony Hawk games which put the skateboarding genre on the map has now saturated the market with it's monopoly on skate games. And Skate comes along courtesy of EA to challenge the king of the hill, currently Tony Hawk's Proving Ground.

In short, Skate was like a second coming for skateboarding games. It wasn't a humongous success, but that could be attributed to how Tony Hawk's yearly releases turned people off on the idea of another skateboarding game.

Enter Skate 2. An improvement of an already good game. People generally know Skate because of it's leaning towards realistic tricks by flicking the right stick for tricks like ollies and kickflips (and the learning curve associated with it).

Skate 2 throws everything and the bathwater to immerse you in the underground world of skateboarding. Not only will you have your rudimentary trick contests for points, but you'll also find downhill races, games of S.K.A.T.E. (HORSE but for skateboarding) and my personal favorites, editing replay videos and bailing on your tricks big time.

The replay editor is rather meaty in terms of getting what you want out of an awesome line or combo. You have follow cam, tripod, actual game cam, and even camera speeds. Things can get pretty cinematic, not to mention the film editor DLC available that'll expand on your tools.

And purposely bailing on your tricks? It's hilarious. The rag doll physics never cease to make me go "Ahhh!" when my poor little avatar flips, crashes, or otherwise maims himself on the pavement (my personal fav is the high speed fall with your face simply rubbing off on the cement).

Make no mistake. Skate 2 has a difficult learning curve. The slightest deviation in your stick flicks can make you do an entirely different trick then you intended. But the fun is in pulling off even the simplest trick and having that satisfaction eternally immortalized on video. A triple kickflip on Tony Hawk is just a simple button press. Here, a triple kickflip not only needs the right speed and height, but the correct flicking and the right timing to pull the board back in before you eat the floor.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Assassin's Creed Slowly Sneaks Into My Play Cycle

Gamefly sends me over Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft's former big title back in Fall 2008. Reviews were mixed on it. Some people thought it was great, but certainly not incredible. Others (a lot more others) thought it was kinda... shitty...certainly not great. But where am I on this?

I don't know, because the game bored me too much in the beginning.

Yeah, the beginning is so slow and tedious, I did not want to keep playing it. There are so many unskippable tutorials, cut scenes, and gameplay scenes (What? Eavesdropping?) that I couldn't stand not playing Street Fighter IV or Left 4 Dead because of this. I get the feeling all the backdraft that occured as a result of this game was because Ubisoft was so sure this was gonna be a big hit. It's surefire title of the year. Then the reviews come out and people call their bluff and knock them down a peg.

You play as Altair, an assassin from the crusades. Only not really, you actually play as a chap who's been kidnapped for his genetic memory of his ancestor Altair. My first problem is the metagame involved in this, being forced to relive your ancestor's memory is totally unnecessary in my opinion. This could've beena decent game about stealth in broad daylight and assassination, and certainly it is about that. But ever now and again, the flow is broken by coming back into reality to see how the douchebags who kidnapped you have to say about your progress.

Ok, so now you're Altair. Time for some stealth killing right? Not so fast! You gotta go through some tutorials real quick! Learn to blend! Pickpocket! Eavesdrop! Wait, eavesdrop? I have to sit someplace, look inconspicious, and watch an in game cut scene about information that could've just been relayed to me via a waypoint on my map? No thanks Assassin's Creed. No thanks.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wheelman Demo Wheels It's Way Into My Heart

At the same time as I download the new Burnout Toy Cars pack, I noticed the Wheelman demo was released and decided to giive it a spin. Vin Diesel can apparently make good games (google: Escape from Butcher Bay) so does he do it again?

In Wheelman, you play as Vinny himself (or the character he plays anyways) who is a driver for hire apparently in high risk crime and stunts. The game starts right off with you female client coming out of a building with alarms ringing, where you then pick her up and a chase ensues.

"My name is Riddick... I mean Vin"

The physics are fairly arcade like. Drifting by carefully braking during turns feel floaty and easy to manage. It's pretty hard to over or understeer, so the margin of error is forgiving. The police are right on you, and later in the demo, you learn to pull out your gun, but this is where Wheelman becomes something absurdly awesome.

Instead of actually steering your car to side swipe other cars, pushing the right stick actually sends your car sideways into your would-be chasers. As the game puts it, "your car is your weapon."

Your car is your weapon. Just remember you're in your weapon.

As you wreck them, the camera changes dramatically to display their heaping wreakage just like Burnout. It's pretty cheesy though, as the cars literally fly through the air like the Hot Wheels from our old days. At least in Burnout the cars will flip and wreck with a little more weight and realism.

You also get a bar for focus moves that fills after drifts and stunts. The bar is used for your traditional boost but also crazy moves like bullet time shooting (slowing down to time to shoot a timely target) and the cyclone move (just like bullet time but you automatically spin backwards to shoot targets behind you).

The last thing I did was a side mission introduced after escaping the cops and another gang. The wild thing they introduce is the crazy car to car jump and steal. The goal was to steal a car and bring it back to the appointed location for money. Unlike GTA though, these cars seem to always outpace you. So what's a wheelman to do? Well, why not jump out of your freak'in car, land on theirs, and kick the driver out. Holy hell, this takes the middleman out of the old GTA completely!

pictures coutesy of and MTBS

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Late Gaming: Boom Blox

February was a slow month for my Gamefly membership. I've been too busy with SFIV to play a game that took nearly a week to arrive after my last game was sent back.

So Boom Blox has been here for at least a week and I hadn't touched it. I finally popped it in and was expecting a pleasant experience. It was a surprise hit last year so I'm expecting good things. And it delivers.

The game plays like a big, overgrown carnival ball throwing game in the guise of a clever puzzle set up. You get a bunch of blocks stacked up, and you have to figure out how to knock them all down with as few balls and tricks as possible. It controls easier then it sounds as flicking the wiimote, because you aim and lock your aim with the A button. When you're set, you flick the wiimote and let go of the A button as soon as you do, with the game recognizing how much force you put into throwing flining your wiimote.

This alone kind of makes it primordially satisfying, but there are several different hitches that make things more interesting. Bomb blocks, dissappearing ghost blocks, chain reactions, and of course, a physics engine that makes everything going on react believably.

There are tons of things to unlock too, as you can create your own custom puzzle maps with the things you unlock.

All in all, this is a very good game to go for as far as a drought in games go for the Wii.