Monday, January 31, 2011

Hiatus Part Two: Hiatus Harder

Well, we've got the computer shambled back to some semblance of life; Windows is working again, even if it's in a semi-strange manner. But, of course, right after I sort of got settled with the idea that hey, I have a computer again, Mother Nature steps in and went, "Hurr durr, nope."

We're set to have an ice storm for, uh, until Thursday, basically. (This is as of Monday's writing) So, I'm going to let that pass, given that power outages are common during, well, anything going wrong ever. Out here at least. So, yeah, barring anything else happening (which, our DirecTV DVR just went out today too. Again. DirecTV appliances suck dick.) Kupowered will come back Friday.

Thanks for all the support, guys. Let it be known that only acts of Vengeful Gods of Technology and Nature can keep me away from Kupowered! (Also maybe illness. I haven't been sick lately, so, hey, maybe that'll happen too. This was written with some sort of mock-enthusiasm and sarcasm combo somehow. Because I wouldn't be surprised. I'll keep you guys updated though!)

Friday, January 28, 2011


Well, my computer's busted until I can find the Windows backup disk. Which might be a while. So yeah, spread the word if necessary.

Windows can't boot because system32.hal.dll (I think that's what it was) is missing or corrupt. So yeah...Anyone know if I need -my- windows disk or just any XP disk that would have come with an XP system? All I was told is that I needed the backup disk that came with it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PSP2 - What'd I get right?

So the PSP2 is a thing that is happening.  Eventually.  Tonight's meeting was little more than to show it off and give everyone a little idea of what -could- be on it; much like Nintendo's E3 3DS reveal (except there were one or two actual 3DS games shown on it, Kid Icarus is all I can think of).  What you see above is the PSP2, codenamed NGP (for Next Generation Portable) with an actual name forth-coming.  Also, price forth-coming.

So, what all did everyone get right?

- Less broad but more high than the original PSP (PSP dimensions: 17X7.4X2.3 cm) - More or less, yep
- 5" OLED multi-touch screen (12.7 cm) - Yep
- Multi-touch trackpad - Yes?
- Resolution: 960 x 544 - Yes, surprisingly (At least, if this is 4x of the PSP)
- Quad core ARM Cortex A-9 - No Mention Update: Looks like it.
- PowerVR SGX 543 MP4+ - No Mention
- 512MB LPDDR2 RAM (1GB devkits) - No Mention
- 16GB flash + SD slot - There's a stick slot, no data storage mention
- Wifi, 3G, bluetooth - Yep
- Acelerometers, GPS, gyroscope, front and back camera - Yes
- November 2011 - "Holiday this year"

What else?  Here's the full-list of features shamelessly stolen from here.

  • 5 inch OLED – 4x the resolution of the current PSP
  • 3G plus WiFI
  • GPOS
  • Sixaxis Motion Sensing
  • Electronic Compass
  • Front and Rear Camera
  • Microphone
  • Dual Analog Sticks (Not Nubs)
  • Flash Memory – memory sticks instead of UMD – like DS carts
  • PS3 quality graphics
  • Touch Front Screen
  • Touch Pad on Back
  • Augmented Reality Games
  • Coming this Holiday Season
  • will include a new service called LiveArea which will keep you upto date with news on all your games.
  • LiveArea will let you see what others are playing in your area - this will be extremely popular in Japan and huge Metropolis cities like Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, etc...
  • Trophy Support
  • Will be able to connect to Mobile Networks
  • Augmentation will allow you more control on your games. As you move, you affect the game you’re playing: shown in action during Uncharted and Hot Shots Golf Previews
  • PlayStation Suite (revealed earlier) will work with NGP
  • PSP games currently available for download WILL work with new unit.
 So I hadn't even thought of the mics or the cameras, but we all should've seen that coming.  I called the dual analogue sticks (though I will admit, I expected nubs, rather than sticks) which was not hard at all to call.  Also Physical Media.  Also PSP BC (with DD titles).  One can assume PSOne/Minis BC still, as this is compatible with the Playstation Suite, which in itself, will be compatible with PSOne games.  I made easy calls, and hey, I got them.  Go me!

Also, they showed off Yakuza:  Of the End on the thing.  All of my money.

Update:  Here is a chart.  It is full of Chart-y goodness.

And here are the games they showed off on it, though they were just demos and proof-of-concepts and the like.

* Monster Hunter 3rd
* Hot Shots Golf
* Uncharted
* Lost Planet 2
* Wipeout
* Yakuza
* Dynasty Warriors
* Metal Gear Solid 4
* Call of Duty
* Dungeon Defenders - an upcoming PS3 game by Epic

LittleBigThings: Water water everywhere...

So I finished the Pirates of the Caribbean DLC today, though, unfortunately did not get everything.  Not only is there a nigh-arbitrary x2 section in one of the levels, later on there is an even more arbitrary x4 section in the same level.  I'm not sure if I care enough to bother for them, honestly.  I got what was important out of the pack already:  The Water.

Awww yeah.  We wanted it, we got it.  Mostly.
Before this, you were merely stuck with using glass and/or poisonous gas in varying shades of blue to depict "water" in your levels, and even as is, it's not entirely optimal, as it's merely a switch that floods the level, but to a degree you adjust, and one that can be altered on the fly with switches.  Still, it works; you swim in it, they give you a scuba pack if you want to put that up, ensuring that you won't drown, or you can add bubble stations to recharge the 30 second air limit.  Not a concept any of us should be unfamiliar with, certainly.

Quality-wise, I'm not sure what I think of the PotC levels and, in fact, I was trying to think while playing it, since I knew I was going to report it here.  The levels retain a charm that is distinctly LBP, one that you can't mimic without flaw, but the actual enjoyment of the levels is middling.  Not unenjoyable, but not exactly fun.  Not difficult, but you don't manage to simply walk through every level and get an ace.  Especially the boss-fight, which, on first attempt, befuddled me as to how I would even manage to ace it, seeing that it seems very nearly random regarding your chances.

This is part of the Kraken fight.  The part with the tentacles.  Clearly.
It's very very near lazy, I'm loathe to admit.  You are on the boat, and there's four cannons on it, the second tier requiring you to grab something on a piston to get to.  Said piston might also shield you from the flaming cannonballs that the enemy ships shoot into your ship from the top.  Of course, they might drop the cannonballs directly onto your little stuffed head as well.  With the space as cramped as it is, it's hard to prevent such a fate, and instead, better to simply hope it doesn't befall you.

The bossfight's pattern is rather simple; it starts with you between two ships.  They shoot cannonballs at you, you can use the cannons to destroy them, but there's little point beyond points (possibly, I don't even remember if you get any for sinking a ship), as, at certain points, they'll move off to let the Kraken's tentacles come up from the briny depths to wiggle threateningly at you, and sometimes encroach on the ships borders, killing you if you happen to be in line with their destination.  No projectiles, no real impact, just a line of poison gas behind the tentacle that is sure to hit you if you're not far ahead of it.  The point is to use the cannons to destroy them, of course.  The balls have sensors that dissolve the green bits as they pass by, and you need to dissolve the top and a good amount of the sections beneath that before it's defeated.  You have to do this twice per stage, as there's two tentacles at all times.  And you have to do this three times.  Three sets of two, if I didn't make that clear.

When you defeat them, the enemy ships swoop back in and shoot at you until they stop and another attack of the tentacles occurs.  And then when you beat that, you just have to go to the scoreboard.  It manages to be wholly underwhelming despite the significance you might think it would have, given that it's a Disney/MM colab.  And honestly, that's mostly the problem; despite it being the Pirates of the Caribbean DLC Pack, if there were none of the licensed stickers or the costumes, you wouldn't know the difference.  It is very generically 'Pirate' which almost didn't really strike me until now.

Still, at no point was I specifically annoyed or disappointed with the pack.  I may focus on the fact that at no point was I specifically enjoying it either, they both deserve an equal say.  If you want Water and any and all chances for new materials and the like, having the Pirates pack won't do you a disservice.  But if you're not much of a creator or don't really think you need the tools, it's a safe pass.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PSP2 - My Thoughts, Predictions, Expectations

For a rather long time now, the PSP2, Sony's theoretical successor to the PSP, has been a rumor tossed about with no real basing aside from eventuality.  The PSP, no matter what some might tell you, was most certainly not a flop, having sold an estimated 62 Million units as of last year, and, while it's had its fair share of problems (Mostly in the piracy column), there's been no indication that, in a business sense, there should not be a follow-up device.  So, really, it's been more of a "when" than an "if" for a long time now.

Well, actually, ever since September it's been less "when" and more "soon".  Netherrealm, back in the hustle in bustle of the goings-on, let it slip that not only did they have a prototype to work with, but that it was, in fact, "Powerful", so much so that it was worth a mention in the same breath as stating that they weren't planning on releasing the new Mortal Kombat on everything day-one, including the newly-announced (at the time) 3DS.  Could it have been a fluke?  Possibly, maybe moreso if he hadn't elaborated on the PSP2, making it known that he knew what he was saying, but then again, he might've just been in another thought.  These things happen.

Well, since then other people have all had things to say and speculate, going so far as to say that this Thursday, at the just-announced Playstation Meeting, it will be announced officially for the first time.  (Can I put more links into that sentence?  Theory says yes, but practice says I shouldn't.)  And honestly, with the thread of the 3DS looming in the background, ever-presently, there's no reason not to at least announce it right now, unless it's going to take the better parts of two years to get it into consumer hands.  So, going with the idea that it will be announced, and that a whole bunch of specs have been "leaked", I'm going to go through them, and say what I expect, what I hope for, and what we all shouldn't hope for, even though it would be majestic.

One of the earliest, most-referenced mock-ups of a then-theoretic PSP2.  Unlikely, but damn sexy.
The latest word (From here originally) was one of the larger lists of specs so far, featuring:

- Less broad but more high than the original PSP (PSP dimensions: 17X7.4X2.3 cm)
- 5" OLED multi-touch screen (12.7 cm)
- Multi-touch trackpad
- Resolution: 960 x 544
- Quad core ARM Cortex A-9
- PowerVR SGX 543 MP4+
- 512MB LPDDR2 RAM (1GB devkits)
- 16GB flash + SD slot
- Wifi, 3G, bluetooth
- Acelerometers, GPS, gyroscope, front and back camera
- November 2011

Which, I don't know, a lot of that goes right over my head, but none of it sounds too far-fetched aside from, perhaps, the Screen resolution, possibly the GPS, since that might not be so easy to license.  I'm not sure I buy 3G being in it, but we'll just have to see, as that's seeming to be a little more, er, standard in mobile things.

Now, as far as what we do know, since it's been in just about every rumor since the conception, is that the PSP2 will almost definitely have two analogue sticks which may just be crucial to the strategy.  I can't tell how many complaints have been leveled at the PSP for only having one stick (admittedly, a few from myself even at times), and given that the 3DS will be the one with just one this time, anything that can be made out to be an objective advantage is necessary.  Even when people start complaining that it's a 'nub', well, at least there's two of 'em, buddy which means no padding the face buttons just to swivel the camera around.  So that's not just a hope, but that's a down-right prediction from me, and an easy one to make, no doubt.

My other definite predictions for the PSP2 are, no doubt some form of physical media (with the most likely being flash sticks, ala 3/DS) and at least one touchscreen.  If all the specs leaked so far are accurate, this thing could stand the potential to have two or even three, depending on how the rear situation is handled.  Sometimes I've heard a sensor pad, sometimes two, sometimes a multi-touch sensor bar, etc. etc.  So if nothing else, we can relatively easily say that it'll have at least one screen of the touch variety on there.  Physical media is almost a given, being that the less-than-lukewarm reception of DD-only design by some companies who will remain nameless goddamnsqueenix has been one of the more-poked topics concerning the PSP being 'failed'.   Granted, if it's DD-only or get out, that'll solve your problem of devs not making DD versions of their games for your system, but it might also stop them from making games for your system.

Another mock-up.  Equally sexy, still very unlikely.  I would eat this up, though.

 Now, what can we hope from the PSP2 at least semi-realistically?  Well, for one, PSP backwards compatibility would be a nice start.  I would almost guarantee it, but what with the whole GeoHot/fail0verflow nonsense having gotten out and demolished the PS3/P securities both, it's hard telling for sure.  Given that people are able to actually sign software on the PS3/P systems, that might have been a fatal blow for BC in the Sony systems.  Given that they require the key that has been put out there to run, having said key on the new systems might just leave the security open from day one, which no company wants to do.  Before this whole thing happened, I was willing to go out on a limb and not only suggest full PSN-PSP BC (as in, the DD-games, which in turn, might spurn some people on to put their games up) but PSN-PS3 BC as well, meaning some PS3 PSN games would have be able to be played on the go.  Perhaps not every game, certainly not the full PS3 DD games, but some.  Which of course, sounds nice and all, but whether it's simply possible now (from a business sense, not a technical one) is up in the air, leaning towards falling on the Not good side.

But hey, as long as they get to run Linux and other little piddly homebrew things they could just make on the PC on the PS3, anything and everything is totally worth it, right?  Right?  (Not right.  Damn it.)

BC that I'm willing to go out there on a limb for is continued support for the PSOne Classics.  They're extremely cheap to do and sell, and likely well-worth the cost, since all it's putting the Devs out on is the ESRB rating and Sony's QA support.  I can't see the PSP2 not play PSOne games, since, hey, that's a potential bullet-point.  Continued support of Minis is more expected than not, as well, but that may fall into the same categorical limbo as PSN games.

What we're likely dreaming for this to deliver, but won't be able to is pretty easy to point out.  If the PSP can play PSOne games, the PSP2 should play PS2 games, right?  I'm putting an almost non-zero chance on this happening, because, not only would it be difficult in theory to make portable versions of the parts that are absolutely positively necessary for PS2 games, but controls are an issue as well.  So far, we all know that it will have two sticks, but there's still only two shoulder buttons (L and R, instead of L1, L2, R1, R2) as far as any of the reports are saying.  Is it possible that that's where the rear touchpad/bar/sensor/thing comes into play?  Absolutely.  Would I expect it, in a way that if it's not delivered, I will be angry?  Of course not.  Because I don't realistically expect it, and neither should you.  If anything, it would be that much more of a surprise if it happened.

And the final issue that floats somewhere in between "What we can hope for, and possibly recieve" and "What we can hope for, and be stupid for wanting it" is the notorious issue of pricing.  Sony's no stranger to starting way high in the price-zone to come down later on, with the intent on making a profit per-unit-sold for at least the better portion of its lifetime.  Which is a strategy that they sorely need to ignore for this.  The 3DS is out there, price-wise.  It's $250, which to normal people is a lot and given that it's that high at least partially because of the E3 reaction, makes it a perfect opportunity to strike.  What everyone expects Sony to do is go, "Oh, $250, well our product is better so let's make it more expensive!", which is exactly what should not happen.  It is the anti-thing to be done, make no mistake about it.

I'm not exactly sure just what price they can set on the PSP2 to ensure a profit-per-unit with it also being a viable price to, y'know, be sold at, since I'm not really knowledgeable on those things.  Is it possible that they could sell the thing for $350 and still lose money on it?  Sure, and that would be a damn shame, since it would point to them needing to have used less expensive things to start with.  But if they want this thing to be anywhere near viable, it's got to, at the very damn least, be $299 or less.  Anything above that is lunacy bordering on financial suicide given that the console they sell is $300, and absolutely no other gaming thing is above that price currently.  The very very best thing that they could do is put this thing at $250 to compete directly with the 3DS or, even more optimally, sub-$250, even if it's just in the $210-230 range.  If just to get that first blow against Nintendo to let everyone know that they're trying.

So my main bullet points for a PSP2 have been thus:  1-3 touch screens of some variety, 2 sticks, physical media (with a download option as well), PSOne/Minis support, Possibly PSP BC, PSP-PSN BC, PS3-PSN functionality, and, for best results, <$250.  Is it realistic?  I don't know. Will it be worth more than $200 if it doesn't have PSP/PSN/PSOne/Minis support?  Hell no.  Which is what really really worries me about this whole thing, since it very well may not be viable unless there's some sort of technomancy they can work around to make sure the PSP2 can't be compromised in the exact same fashion as the PSP, which, rest assured, will be the first thing a good percentage of PSP2 purchasers will attempt.  If Sony's forced to put out something that will only play PSP2 games and do all the fancy multi-media things, it'll almost be DOA based solely on that.  If it's 'competitively priced' at that, then it's almost assured.

It's definitely something we'll have to wait and see on; after all, it's only a day away, but that doesn't make the anticipation any easier/less worrying.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quick Note - Bleh

I really really hate having so many quick notes, but my sleeping got all messed up today, and I got a bit of bad news and it's really just pushed me into "Bleh" territory, so I can't really concentrate enough to write something out.  But I can mention what I've been up to today at the very least, presenting, as I always try to do in these daily posts, content.

Snake?!  This was a sneaking mission!  Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!
I remembered from the other day that I lacked the content from the MGS DLC in LBP for reasons that I've vowed to stop mentioning, so I decided to go back through it today after waking up at 8:22 AM for absolutely no reason.  I forgot just how enjoyable they were, and, honestly, how impressive they are when compared to LBP1 proper.  (Which, after LBP2 just seems a lot more frustrating for some reason)

I did remember, however, that I used to think they were hard.  Not in the sense of getting through them, but in getting through them with the "Ace", as in, not dying once.  In general, Acing a level proves a slight challenge, depending on what it is, but there is usually a challenge if there is meant to be one.  However, on this run-through, I found that it was actually no challenge at all.  I don't know if my early morning had anything to do with it, or if I've simply come a long way, or maybe I just got lucky, but with no more than a few hours of play, I walked away from the MGS Pack with everything.  All five levels aced, played, and 100%'d.  And it was satisfying.

Tomorrow?  The Pirates of the Caribbean  pack, which I've not actually finished completely (in the Ace, 100% sort of way) yet.  Hopefully my....whatever it was carries over as well!  (Because after that, I'll likely make a clean break back to LBP2.  After getting to the end of the Terrible Oni level in LBP, and being killed by his sword after he exploded and it flew right at me, I'm prepared to accept that, yes, I aced everything on LBP1 already, and no, I don't need to do it again, because I want to be sane.)

And yes, I know that I could play them on LBP2, but, well, it just seems right to play on the first, alright?  (And this has absolutely nothing at all to do with LBP1 already being in my PS3 and me being too lazy to switch it out.  Nope.  No sirree.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

LittleBigThings: Of Contemplation and Exectuion

As I've lamented about before, Create Mode in LittleBigPlanet (as a series, not just one specific game) is wonderfully open, in my case, entirely too open.  It's been said by many gamers that, presented with a sandbox, the first thing they do is freeze with the possibilities, because here they are, playing a game like they have done before; but in this one, rather than being presented with a clear path, say a long corridor in a building, or a more vague "Here's point A, there's point B, get there" over a large map, tools are thrust in their hands and before them lies a canvas, with only the gentle encouragement from the developers to guide them.

"Go ahead," they say.  "Do what you want.  Make what you want to make; express yourself."  Much like that Art Teacher in High School that simply hated being stuck to a curriculum and felt better things would come from less structure, the developers of these sandbox games expect you to derive more enjoyment out of being able to do what you want, rather than what they want you to do.  And by in large, they're right, but that doesn't make the prospect any less terrifying.  Because, as is the natural order of things, once you have managed to buckle down and put yourself to that canvas, to create, truly, what you wanted to create, another push is given, still caring in nature, after all they're just trying to help you. 

"Now show it off.  Be proud of what you've done."  Bless these people, all they want is for you to have a little fun with yourself, and to let others see your interpretation of fun, they want to help you help others.  But damned if it isn't difficult to do, knowing that the second step is there beforehand.  Because, at least I believe that we, as a people, not just the small percentage that enjoy games, have a nature entirely counter to that.  We like to think what we like, enjoy what we like, but we know that there are others who think completely counter to us and, when there is a conflict of opinion, there tends to be other conflicts.  Most people tend to, in general, try to avoid conflict!

As such, as I believe it goes, the first instinct of being frozen when presented with the opportunity to show off in front of others, is natural.  Unfortunately so, as the general line-of-thought goes "I make this, I show this, people hate it." and then that comes back around to making something in the first place.  Obviously, this doesn't affect everybody, seeing that there's, oh, around 3,500,000 levels out there playable by LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2.  But I do know that it affects me, as I've mentioned, which means that of the five levels I started and gave an actual try with on LBP, one got actually finished and published.  And, again as I've said, it's not the best, but I'm proud of it for not only being done by me, but for the fact that it's actually helped a little in getting over this train of thought.

Whether you realize it's because there'll always be 'worse' levels, or because that you honestly don't care what anyone thinks of your level, or what have you, the thing to realize is that whatever you create has the potential to be great in someone's eyes who aren't your own.  If you find that, it makes all the anxiety and such worth it, because honestly, all we want is to have our work appreciated, right?  And I think that's pretty much the reason I'm feeling a bit more open about what I want to do with LittleBigPlanet 2, as far as level creation and hopefully will turn to this blog to offer updates and behind-the-scenes sorts of deals as I move forward.

To that effect, I will go ahead and set some goals I'd like to accomplish sometime before I put LBP2 down, not permanently, as I'll never be able to -not- find a chance to play the game, but do finally move on for other things on a more clear basis.  (The first time this will likely happen will probably be in March, where the ability to punch dudes in Yakuza 4 presents itself)  I would like to do something with Journey's Fall, not only as a level, but the series I had envisioned it as in the first place.  I've said it before, but there was a second level to complement the first, and a remake of the first in the works, both I hope to make happen, with likely a third to tie it all up.  I would also like to participate in at least two of the LBP2 competitions hosted by the new LBP2 thread over at Penny Arcade, depending on how many we actually go through.  I'm hoping quite a few, to boost the number of 'two' to a higher value.

If I can get that accomplished, I'll be satisfied.  If the end-products are actually good, I'll be happy.  So we'll see how it works out!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yakuza 4 Official Release Date: March 15th

So, Joystiq reported that Sega updated their Spring release date to the solid March 15th for Americaland.  (Of course, knowing how that went last time with Yakuza 3, you better believe I will be calling prior to going.)  There's not a lot to say to this, we all know this is probably my ultimate series, so the new one coming out is a no-brainer for me getting excited for it.  So, in honor of this, I figured I'll go ahead and embed the three character trailers up so far!  (In Sega of America's uploads, at least.)

Also, it wouldn't be a Yakuza post without showing off the battle trailer too!

Very Stylish.  I can dig it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Music! Impromptu Dance Edition

Music is kind of a hard thing for me to write about, honestly, as I used to be a music snob in my teenage years (but then again, who wasn't a snob of something back then) and I would only like something if it had a meaning going for it or this or that.  And it also had to be high-energy; I'm not a fan of slow songs on the whole.  I've made exceptions here and there, but the long and short of it is when I listen to music, I want to be entertained.  I've evolved, luckily, in that I'm more willing to try and listen to new things, musically, without being pointed to them by someone else.  Almost completely counter to this point, the songs I'll be showing off were pointed out to me by someone in some fashion (Either the song directly, or a song by the same band and I moved on to listen to more things), but, uh, I guess you can take my word that I'm getting better.

Anyways, I've already shown off one of their songs, but I branched out a bit with 80kidz and, in fact, the song inspired this post, rather than the other I had in mind.  The song is called Fait la Danse and is rather neat!

(Small window because it's static.)

There's a real groove to it, and it manages to get really energetic at times without ruining the flow.  I half-expect it, or rather a snippet of it, to be used as like an introduction theme for a character in some sort of stylish movie.

Moving on, a friend of mine has gotten rather interested in Dubstep remixes of things and sent me off in the direction of them.  I'm not really into all of the classifications; good and not-so-good are all the tags I need, really.  But I did manage to find something by the same remixer that I quite like.  So next up is the Skrillex remix of Lady Gaga's Alejandro.  Yes, yes, Lady Gaga and all the stigma that goes along with that.  I'm allowed to like her songs and not care one bit about the artist.

(Once again, static image)

It's an interesting take on the song and manages to make it a little, well, dancier than the original, which might be the point.  One thing that's pretty embarrassing/hilarious about me is that I actually know very very little about music, which makes it all the worse that I used to think I was smart enough to decide what was worth it or not.  Again, no judgments from me anymore!  (Outside of a few cases, which I won't go into here.)  Once again, I get to simply say that I like what I like, and don't like what I don't like.

The last song is one that wasn't introduced to me as recent as the other two, but it's not been that long ago that I listened to it first.  Sometimes it takes me a little while to really branch out, and for MSTRKRFT, it took a bit longer than I like to admit, considering I've moved from one song to about three or four.  But hey, when I like something, I tend to listen to it a lot before moving on.  This is one of the songs I branched out to, and I find it's pretty good for pretty much any listening occasion.  It's called 1000 Cigarettes.

(This one isn't static, per se, but it's a static image that the 'camera' moves and focuses about on; nothing too interesting.  It's static now that I had to switch it out with a new one.)

Apparently, MSTRKRFT gets a lot of mention in the same groups as Daft Punk and Justice, so, being a real big Daft Punk fan, this means I'll likely need to listen to some Justice things eventually as well.  As well as more MSTRKRFT.  We'll see!

Friday, January 21, 2011

LittleBigThings - Bad News First

Oh noooooooo

So, as Joystiq's reported, plenty of people are suffering from an infinite loading glitch when playing online with pals.  I was hit by this earlier today, as was Kaseius, whom I was trying to play alongside.  It's a real shame, as aside from that, the netcode seemed more improved from the first game, honestly.  Hopefully they'll get that sorted out quickly, as they are aware of the problem and have a fix in the works, apparently.  The article states that a quick fix is to turn off your controller, wait for the level to load (it should, apparently, once the controller is off or shortly after) and then turn it back on and resume.

You can't stay mad at that face.
Happily, there is good news, though.  Plenty of it, in fact.  Not only, as I said, has the netcode improved from the last game, just about everything has improved over the last game.  The visuals are more striking, the characters are more defined, the levels are just that much more entertaining, and the tools, my word, the tools.  Short of some little issues with the Grappling Hook, which is a learning experience, rather than poor implementation, everything works just so well and feels so good and easy to pick up.  The problem with the Hook being that the whole of its controls are hogged onto the left-stick; you go up or down with up and down, left and right accordingly, which doesn't sound all that bad, honestly, but when mention comes up of having the shorten/lengthen inputs being changed, it's hard to not find yourself going, "Well, yeah that might work better, now that you say it."  

The past has shown us that this is just the very very beginning of LittleBigPlanet 2, no doubt MM is already hard at work with supplements to keep us all happy for a while to come.  And with what they've undoubtedly learned with the previous two games (LBP and LBPPSP), the sky is the limit on what to expect.  (Except anything from Squeenix.)

As for my personal experiences in LBP2, I've already completed the story mode, which wasn't too hard to do.  The difficulty is spot-on, so long as you're able to think things out for a moment.  Times when you contemplate going back through the level you've just finished, or that you're having difficulty with, to ace it, you may think to yourself, "Why, that's never going to happen", and then perhaps a minute later or so after thinking more, you just realize all the errors you made, and it becomes that much easier and possible.  I know that's how it happened with me at least; the last boss in the game is particularly punishing until you stop for a moment to recognize all his patterns.  (No pun intended, given the context of the game)

Do you know what's going on here?  Right, neither do I.
I'm not quite sure how far I'll get into the Create Mode.  I know I'll spend all the time in the world in it, but whether anything of worth is produced from it is the part that I'm just not convinced on.  The tools are spectacular, and perhaps it's just experience talking, but they seem a bit easier to use.  On the other hand, there's just so many, and the mere thought of me possibly understanding microchips (it's 99% intimidation, don't worry) is daunting at the very least.

That's me (In a Bomberman costume) swinging on the falling lights in my level, Journey's Fall.

If, or rather, when I do have a project in mind, I'll likely use this as an outlet to express my ideas and intents; hopefully putting it all down somewhere will help the process along a bit.  I did have quite a few levels started in the original, after all, they just simply never saw anything resembling completion.  Aside from Journey's Fall, that is.  And while I'm proud of Journey's Fall, as it was the only level that I made and published and it wasn't complete crap, quality it was not.  It was short, I didn't know much with the tools (Not that I'm some guru now, mind) so there's a lot of embarrassing little things strewn about, and the 'cool' thing of it at the end (A Jetbike) still ends up killing sackpeople about 50% of the time.  While I've begun tweaking it a bit, or at least I had, back in LBP1, I'm not sure I'm happy with putting it back out there with anything short of a full-on remake, though, which will almost be as difficult a task as any.  But it's always been an idea in my head, as has the sequel level to it.  (In fact, I had the framework of the sequel built up before I lost it, but it was not that bad of a loss)

Few games have the ability to make and keep me as excited as the LittleBigPlanet games do (note the present tense), which is why I'm happy to say that it's here to stay, on this blog and in my PS3.  My poor, poor backlog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Popcorn On - The Protector

For this first installment of Popcorn On, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite Martial Arts films, The Protector (Also known as Tom-Yum-Goong).  Namely because the amount of badassery it contains is fairly unfathomable, which initially made me a bit wary to try and write about it without just linking to youtube clips (which I'm still going to do) and just spoiling the whole thing.  (Which I won't do, not that there's much of a plot to spoil, anyways.  I mean, it's a Martial Arts movie.)

I will say, which is a very very minor spoiler, that The Protector isn't exactly the best name for the movie.  Kham (Tony Jaa) is a protector of sorts, as he's the last of a long line of warriors who were in charge of guarding the King of Thailand's war elephants.  But the fact is, the two elephants, a mother and baby, he's charged with guarding get captured within the first fifteen or so minutes of the movie and the rest is him trying to get them back, not only because it's his job, but because he more or less grew up at the same time as the baby elephant, so it's kind of a pet of sorts to him, or something equally cared for.  If anything, I believe the new title was a subtle nod to Jackie Chan, whom Tony Jaa really admires.  (Jackie Chan starred in a movie also called The Protector, you see.)

As I said, rather quickly into the film, Kham's elephants are captured by poachers and what follows is one man's badass journey of ass-kicking, shit-ruining combat to find out just who are responsible and to make them p- er, get his charges back.  The journey spans a number of locations and the fights get more and more intense with each locale as he gets closer and closer to the heart of this Poaching operation.  The story stays fairly straight-forward throughout, which is welcome, even if the characters don't seem to match in that aspect.

Throughout the film, a number of opponents with rather varied styles of fighting get put up to Tony Jaa whose own altered form of Muay Thai (the form roughly translates to "Elephant Boxing", though focuses more on Captures and Incapacitation rather than striking) offer quite a nice variety, even though Jaa's Muay Thai never wears out its welcome and barely ever repeats itself.  Capoeira, Wushu, an improvised form of Mounted Combat (You'll just have to watch the movie for this one), Wrestling (Not olympic style, but not the type you really watch on TV either) as well as a few weapon styles that I can't really think of at the moment.

One of the things about the movie that I have to impress upon you is the sheer impressive choreography the movie has without relying on dreadful Wire-fu.  One of the best examples of this is simply referred to as the Continuous Fight Scene, in which Kham ascends a Restaurant/hotel type of building, set up as a tower while fighting groups of people the entire time.  The scene is just under 4 minutes long, but it was shot in whole, as a single take, and took five takes (I believe) before it was, from start-to-finish successful.  There's also a fight scene directly after it as Kham takes on Johnny, the man he believes has his elephants.

There are a few mild spoilers towards the end of the video (If you speak Thai, I guess, there's no subtitles in this video for some reason) as they speak, and then after the fight is over, but again, it's a Martial Arts movie; you don't really have to expect much.  If you just want to see the scene in question, you can stop it around the 3:50 mark, where Kham storms through the door of the upper floor.

It's hard to say how many impressive scenes are in the film, but there's at least a few more on the same level as that one, which I won't link because I want you to watch the movie instead of just the really really good parts here.  I can honestly assure you that if Martial Arts films are something you like (as in, you can tolerate the generally weak storylines that lead to a bunch of people fighting in awesome ways) then you certainly won't walk away dissatisfied.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ragequit - Final Fantasy XII

This post will contain spoilers from the game, so if you would rather not see any for whatever reason, you may want to skip this one.

The year is 2006.  Five years after the last Final Fantasy that many will argue was the last "real" Final Fantasy to that point (since "MMOs don't count", apparently, regardless of how much storyline is there) the air is thick with anticipation, both positive and negative as all titles in the series will ultimately face on release, as the next one is upon us.  Carrying a story behind the game almost more interesting than the one featured -in- the game, one of the more divisive games in the franchise is launched October 31st in America.

The backlash became widely known.over time though perhaps not critically and definitely not economically.

I'll stop writing like I know how the climate of the situation was back then.  Because, in all honesty, I didn't buy FFXII when it first came out.  I didn't hear about it, I didn't really care to read about it; I simply wasn't that interested in the Final Fantasy franchise.  But I did buy it eventually.  And it's probably the easiest game for me to write about in this first installment of the "Ragequit" series, for reasons I'm sure you can imagine at least right now.

I was not a fan of FFXII.  At all.  It's hard to not type down some sort of qualifier for that statement like "It's an understatement" or "I'm bordering on outright lying by not writing a string of vitriol here", but I'm not going to.  Because in truth, all I have to say is the truth.  In absolutely no way, shape or form, was I a fan of the game.

This right here is probably the very first image of the game I saw.  Way back in one of the various magazines that I got at the time, I remember seeing the words "Final Fantasy XII Details Inside!" emblazoned on the cover, and going "Eh." before opening it to simply leaf through it as I usually do when I first get a magazine, saving the actual reading for later.  And when I hit the section for Final Fantasy XII, you couldn't help but see that picture or the other, possibly more-known pose.  It was unavoidable, and it was atrocious.  I was already unconcerned with the game as it was, and that certainly didn't help.
What also didn't help was that he was an entirely useless character throughout the whole of the game.  Not only was he useless, really, but he was annoying.  Which is, of course, worse than just being a waste of everybody's time and space.  The game starts off in what I will always remember as one of the worst cock-teases in my entire gaming life, in which you actually start out playing as the fairly decent brother of Vaan, Reks.

I say fairly decent, as he wasn't really developed in the miniscule window he existed, but he was far, far better than he-who-would-be-MC, Captain Inverse Abs Vaan.  For that small time when you're playing as him, it simply feels mediocre, but not particularly offensive; you're on some sort of mission with an older knight, Basch, and it's just alright.  Were the game to get better, it would have certainly just been a subdued start to something entertaining.  As it stands, it shines as one of the few times you won't hate a single person in your party.

The section ends unexpectedly with failure, Reks receiving wounds that later wind up fatal in the cutscene that introduces our fantastic little Protagonist.  About a few hours later, Reks is simply gone from the game.  This is after Vaan parties with Penelo (Who is almost irrelevant as soon as she joins), fails at being a thief, runs across two new characters who are totally not analogues for Han Solo and Chewbacca in this whole mess, and generally just attempts being something that he is not:  interesting.

They even have an airship!  Separately, their tropes would make them simply generic, of course.
The rest of the game can be summed up by throwing around terrible clichés from more popular movies and TV shows and the knowledge that yes, the Empire is still the enemy at any given time.  Well, except for the ending, which, I won't even bother spoiling.  I'll just say it's dumb and leave it at that, since it basically just goes crazy for no reason.

The License Board is one of the least offensive parts of the game.
The rest of the game is no better; the battle system plays out like a poor single-player MMO for some reason, and the hated-or-lauded Gambit system could make the game play with itself in certain situations, namely being when you got one of those points with infinitely respawning enemies and set it up so you had near-zero chance of actually dying.  Walk away, come back a few hours later, and hey, your party has super-leveled!  While not as bad as one could make them out to be, the sheer complexity of it, rather than a simple slightly-more-custom-than-normal Tactics system (as in, beyond, "Heal dudes" and "Hit things") makes it unattractive at the very least.

Bear witness to the breaking point.
Everything mentioned isn't even the biggest problem I had with this game.  The biggest problem that eventually drove me to ragequit (see?  This is where the classification comes from) the game were the Hunts.  Well, not even the hunts.  I should say -one- hunt:  The goddamn Trickster.

This goddamn chocobo was insane.  Not only was it -huge-, but it could cast crazy powerful spells, move really really quickly, as chocobos do, but it could turn invisible and render the stupid attack targeting useless.  Upon coming out of invisibility, it would already be casting the new spell so, by the time your attacks have queued up, you're in a severe amount of pain.  The windows to actually hit it is small, it has 61,321, can cast Paling which renders it immune to physical damage, and can, during those times, only be harmed by one element that will change over the course of the battle, leaving the other elements to actually heal it.  In short, this goddamn thing is more monster than it is bird.

At the time I got the quest to go out and actually look for this thing, my interest in the game was beyond waning; The story was going nowhere (and barely does, regardless), the characters were more or less completely uninteresting (Basch and Balthier being the exceptions but only barely so), and it just was more of a boring chore than a gaming romp.  And after getting demolished soundly a few times, I just gave up, as it just wasn't worth it.

Even he's unimpressed with the game.  And he's -in- it!

Anymore, I'm not even angry at FFXII.  I can't even muster up enough to actively hate it anymore.  It's just not worth it.  You know when you hear, "Son, I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed" and you go, "Oh noooo, that's even worse!", well, that's what it is.  I'm just disappointed in FFXII from start to finish with what it ended up as, when it could have been so much better.  Other resources have covered it better, but, in essence, XII was going to be a completely different game than what it ended up as.  Unfortunately, Squeenix managed to drive the Director, Yasumi Matsuno, so crazy that he left the company completely.

It's hard to argue definitively that the game would have been better with him than it was without him, but looking at the product that we're left with, it's not necessarily wrong to hope that it could have been, well, good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quick Note - Tired

Bleugh.  I really didn't want to not post tonight, but there's no way I'll be able to actually post anything cohesive unless this magical blue potion called Mountain Dew: Voltage wakes me up some.  So there might be a proper post still, but don't be surprised if there's not.

But at the very least, I offer something of content:  Music.

(Small box since it's a static image)

I'd say I know I've heard this before, but, well, I know I have, but not in the way I mean.  Or...something.  I know I heard it in one of Kaseius' vids (Not spoiling which one, it adds to the surprise/enjoyment), but I mean, like, before that.  Can't for the life of me remember where, though.

I will also mention that Phantasy Star Portable 2 has developed a fondness for punching me in the dick repeatedly and I'm not too pleased with that.  Stupid bosses with their stupid-strong attacks.  You know who you are.

Going to get LittleBigPlanet 2 tomorrow barring any unfortunate GameStop Pre-order shortages that might result in an unfortunate purging with fire.

That's about it; I've got two proper posts (Should I start calling them articles?  I mean, I know this isn't article thing, but "proper post" sounds weird.) in mind and will likely be putting them up in the next two days.  I imagine they will be enjoyable!  (Both of them kicking off new sections or what-have-you as well.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Note - Carmageddon and Other GTWMG

Go and watch this.

Trust me.  You'll love it.

I guess I can embed it too.  Let's see if I can get it nice and big.

(Nice. Originally shown to me by Haplo.)

Working on updating the Games that Weren't my Games now.  Will be updated shortly!


The Ones that weren't my Games has been updated, so go see if you can spot the new ones!

Can I type Update more? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Games of 2010: The Ones that Weren't My Games

For several reasons, my games of 2010 list lacked quite a few games that appeared on plenty of other lists. For some, it was not a case of not wanting, simply not able to list it, and of course others for less-nice reasons.  I figured now was the best time to get this one out while the "Of 2010" ideal hasn't worn out its welcome.  While I won't go into every game I wanted to play this year but couldn't, I'll try to put out the most notable examples.

No Time


Now, I'll admit, I wasn't always hyped in any sort of way for Bayonetta, especially early on, but from the time that the marketing really started injecting the crazy into what we saw, I become more and more interested in the concept and the product that I expected to come from it.  Though I didn't have the money to buy it right out of the gate, I kept an eye on it for a long while, only to be a bit disappointed in one fact that I learned.

In a way beyond long load times (as is described, or at least touched on, in that article) and less impressive visual (as is shown off in the video the article links to), but numerous reports of general choppy framerate and the like were abound.  So much so that a patch (by Sony, not even Sega or Platinum Games) eventually was put out there, and even that couldn't fix everything.

Now, if there's one thing that tears at me, it's Lazy Ports.  And that's just what this was; there was no real attempt pre-release to get it at least a little closer to the 360 version.  And what's worse, it wasn't even supported after the fact.  

Still, after all the praise it received and my admitted interest in the game, it became hard to pass up on when I saw it on the shelf of a Movie Gallery that was going out of business, and thus, marked all of their games down increasingly on the way to shutting their doors.  Several games were picked up this way, and most of them were put directly into the ol' backlog that still hasn't budged much.  As such, I own Bayonetta, but I simply haven't played it yet.  I think my grudge with it has mostly passed; after all, it was Sega that put it out, and, well, if you're not used to their nonsense by now, then there's no way to get around disliking them and the games they put out.


This right here, this was never a game that I had any qualms in saying, "I will own this game".  The only thing that held any qualms with it was my wallet.  My financial situation wasn't that great in 2010 (not that it looks too much better in 2011) and it was only through gift cards, careful sale-purchasing and the odd gain in funds here and there for part-time things that I was able to get anything game-wise.  And as much as I hate to be that guy I knew Darksiders wouldn't hold its price for long, so it was simply a matter of waiting for it to enter a price I could afford.

Between waiting and playing what I managed to get my hands on last year, it did manage to slip my radar until, well, December.  While out running errands, I stopped by a Blockbuster because, well, why not, and checked out what few things they had for sale.  (Truth-told, I went in half-expecting to see a similar situation to the Movie Gallery that had shut down months prior.  I was not expecting to see a line of customers, certainly.)  After a bit of perusing, I passed on Final Fantasy XIII for $30 and a few other things on similar sales when I noticed Darksiders.  "Oh yeah," I thought, "I really meant to buy that.  And it's only Fifteen Bucks.  I think I can swing that."

I did leave, intending on looking elsewhere for Christmassy things while the line thinned down and came back when my shopping was done.  Sure enough, only a few other people milling about in the place, and the line was completely clear.  I grabbed it, placed it on the counter, produced the payment in card form and was bewildered to see $9.99 show up after the scan.  While I knew the cashier could sense my confusion, I rolled with it; certainly a game costing less than I thought it would was not a thing to look in the mouth, even if the voice in my head was going, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!~".

Of course, as I said, that was in December, when all my non-gaming time was spent running errands and spreading Christmas cheer (also other things) and my gaming time was spent frantically trying to finish a couple games so my backlog would have room for the Season's haul.  As such, I haven't managed to get into it, though I anxiously await a time when I can give it the try I've wanted to since last year started.

No Ability

Deadly Premonition

To deny that this game has a cult following would be lunacy; it has one of the more prominent "Seriously, you think it's bad, but it's sooo goood" vocal groups working for it that I've seen in quite a while.  And, having seen a good majority of the game in a livestream done by the broest of bros, Kaseius, I can't very well argue with them.

While the game did in fact look painful to play (at least, the fighting parts, which there were quite a number of) the story and the characters were by and large interesting at the very least, and all the twists and turns it took were rather nicely done...except, in my opinion, the ending.  Which admittedly, is a definite YMMV deal, so by no means should that be a condemnation of it.  Even if you don't like the ending, the journey there is a fantastic one (if you haven't noticed by now, I'm more of a "It's not the destination that matters" type of guy) that I could definitely recommend to people who can tolerate the gameplay.

At $20, the only reason I didn't pick this game up and play it was the fact that, at this point in the States, it's 360-exclusive and I, without said console, can't very well buy it and play it to draw a verdict on it, now can I?  While there have been rumblings of a PS3 version over here, nothing made it out in time and, in fact, there's still no confirmation on it one-way or another.


There isn't a lot to say about Minecraft that isn't known to the general population of the internet by this point.  The game thrusts you into one of the most literal definitions of a sandbox, makes it clear in short order the pattern of things (Monsters come out at night, you'll need to make shelter to survive) and inevitably presses down on your Create button and never lets go.  And that's all it needs.

The game, as of this posting, in the Beta phase, doesn't have an end-game goal.  Instead, it's focusing on the actual mechanics of building and giving you things to build.  New crafting formulas, new blocks to put down in whatever fashion you please, new items to craft -with- and new mobs to drop said items.  While some may speculate that the game will, in fact, never see an actual release outside of what it currently is, time will only tell if there's truth to that.  But, in the eyes of many, it doesn't need a goal just yet, as there is simply too many things left to build.

The reason for me not getting this game, despite it's similarly cheap pricetag is because, again, it is on a viable gaming platform that I do not possess; the PC.  While it is true that I have a PC and, in fact, am typing this -from- it, it's not exactly what you would consider game-worthy.  It's most certainly not what -I- would consider game-worthy, either and I've given up that idea long ago.  Always on the horizon is the idea that I will, someday, get a computer that will actually allow me to play games, crazy as that may seem, but that day doesn't draw nearer in any way that I can see.

Alan Wake

At no real point did my interest in Alan Wake rise above "Meh" during it's development (Well, the latter stages of it, when it was clear that it was, in fact, not a dead project) until after it was released.  Not only did I not really have much faith in it, from what little information I saw prior to its release, but I knew from day one that I simply wouldn't be able to play it for a long while, given that it was originally a 360/PC title.  (I say originally, as the PC version was canceled.)

And in all honesty, everything I've seen now, from a livestream of a good portion of the game to reviews leads me to believe that, while it wouldn't underwhelm me, it wouldn't amaze me either, leaving it to fall, at the very most, into the "Good" category.  Which, of course, is not bad at all, what with the category being called "Good" and all.

But of course, being in that category means that I do still want to play it at some point, perhaps to flesh out the story that I missed, perhaps to see if some of the sections were as difficult as I saw them to be, or maybe perhaps just to experience it for that very slight chance of surprise.  I can't lie, thinking about possibly playing the game someday, does stir a slight of excitement in all the right gaming areas, but it's a subdued excitement, more for being able to play it, rather than the hope for something more.

No Reason

Dark Void

Another of the games I bought from Movie Gallery, I went into this game with the mindset of, "It can't be -that- bad, right?  Right?" and let me tell you something.

It is.  It is that bad.

Now, I will say, when I first picked it up, it left a good impression.  Decent third-person shooter, Nolan North voicing the main character, the promise of a jetpack in the future, everything was just peachy.  And then, well, I kept playing the game.

And kept playing it.

And kept playing it.

Over time, the reason I kept playing it changed, at first it was, "Well, it's not all that bad, I'll just go ahead and beat it and file it under mediocre." next it was, "oh, well, now, this isn't very good at all.  But not unplayable, I suppose.  I can finish it so I can be done with it" to, eventually, "ARRGH, GAME.  I WILL SHOW YOU WHO'S BOSS."

Yes, that's right, over time, the over-arching reason for beating this game (Not only beating it, I felt I had to truly dominate it by getting the Platinum trophy for it) was spite.  Never before has this happened, and I hope, truly hope, that it never happens again.  But in the end, I had a few laughs (at its expense) and an accomplishment that I feel oddly alright with (absolute domination over it, minus the DLC) so I guess I still won by playing it.

But seriously, just steer clear of it.

No Hurry

 Final Fantasy XIII

I would like to preface this one with the fact that no, I am not trying to flash my Internet Cool Kid Card with this one, even though it seems to be the thing to do.  The truth of the matter is, I haven't truly enjoyed a Final Fantasy game since Tactics, or if you merely count the Main-line, 8.  9 felt too slow and too boring to me; I simply couldn't establish any sort of connection with the characters that made me want to go on, and when nothing had been done to alleviate my boredom by the end of the first disk, well, I simply knew it wasn't for me.  10, well, I did beat it, and I did get a lot of the extra things, which must have indicated that I, at the very least, did not mind playing it, but with the ol' hind-sight going, I simply don't see any reason why I need to return there.

I never did play 10-2, and I don't really see a reason to; I accidentally, (Read: Purposefully) got spoiled on the ending possibilities and, well, somehow I'm not sure I'd be too keen with the adventure to get there.  And 12.....well, 12 is a whole other matter that I will probably talk about in a separate post.  (That will likely launch another one of the series of posts like the ones I already have started.)

So that right there dampens my enthusiasm quite a bit, and, make no mistake, the internet has not made it easy to care about the game either.  While I generally do take popular internet thinking and put it separate to how I look at things, I simply cannot help but take some of the things provided and say, "Why no, I don't believe I will enjoy that."  Of course, the battle system, of which nearly everyone agrees upon as the high-point is enticing, but overall, I'm not too fussed at waiting out on this game.  And in fact, I'll likely continue to for a time.  Down the road, if I'm looking for something to play and I spot it at $20 or so, feh, I might pick it up and see where it falls on my scale.

But until then, Meh.

Red Dead Redemption

This game and the following one are probably the two big reasons I decided to make a section titled "No Hurry" rather than putting them in the "No Reason" category as I was almost ready to do with FFXIII.  (Well, that and the fact that I decided nothing should be included in with the crapheap that was Dark Void.  Aside from Brütal Legend, which I played last year as well, but that was from 2009.)  Because, honestly, I can't say with a straight face that there is in fact no reason to play Red Dead Redemption; It seems like a swell game to people who are prepared to like it and once you get past the tutorials.

While I'm sure I make it seem like I constantly spoil myself on everything by this point, I don't, in fact.  You'll just have to trust me on that.  But, again, I have seen the way this game starts; the riding missions, the, uh....riding missions.....the missions where you keep pace with somebody for five minutes....riding a horse, and, having experienced something similar in Grand Theft Auto:  The Lost and Damned (Riding in formation, yeuch), I can't say I'm too prepared to tackle things like that again.  Of course, I'm sure it gets much better after that.

But the honest fact is, at the time of its release and, hell even now, I had and still have entirely too many other great games to play through, and, after the whole deal that was the Episodes of Liberty City, the individual packs, the combo disk and eventually, the collection, well, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a similar situation on this one.  It'd be nice to be able to pick up the entire RDR experience at once, rather than the semi-fragmented state it's in currently.

Fallout:  New Vegas

I do so hate to be blunt, as I come off sounding rude, but honestly to me, there's absolutely no reason to buy a Bethesda and/or Obsidian Game on release.  Are they fantastic games?  Yes, usually.  Are they laden with bugs?  Yes, I daresay always.  Will there always inevitably be DLC that will eventually be packaged into a Game of the Year version, meaning you get all of it cheaper even if you buy -that- day one?  Believe it.

By no means am I saying that there's no reason for you to not buy an Elder Scrolls or Fallout game on release day if you're excited for them.  In fact, I would encourage anyone who had the desire to do so, provided they can deal with the game pre-patch, as most people can.  But for myself, while I do enjoy the Elder Scrolls games, (Fallout 3's GotY will be my first real dip into that world) having bought Oblivion's GotY for full price and then buying Morrowind's GotY for PC for a song, I can say that the level of enjoyment is the same regardless of how much I spent.  (Well, not so much for Oblivion as I did get cheaped out of some of the DLC.  PS3 version, you see, but the point remains.)

So while I've seen practically all positives around for New Vegas, I can't do anything more than sit back and bide my time for that inevitable One Disk to Rule Them All version; one that will hopefully include all the DLC, even the ones marked "exclusive" for now.

Right then.  That seems to be the bulk of the games I've passed on for one reason or another (or simply couldn't play), so I do believe that's good.  One of your games not mentioned at all?  Feel free to ask me about it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Look Back - Crystalis

This one, as they say, is an oldie but a goodie.  A gem from, not only my childhood, but plenty of others, I'm sure.  In a time where RPGs weren't the norm just yet, and everyone's top-down fantasy-action fix was covered by an obscure little game called The Legend of Zelda, SNK had the idea to release a game that was somewhat a blend of the two, with a definite focus on the action and give it a (for the time, of course) deep story to tell over the course of it.  That game was Crystalis.

Oh, NES Box Art.  At least the creatures featured on it were actually in the game in some form.

The opening credits tell of a great war that ravaged the land followed by a cataclysm that altered the landscape indefinitely, mutating most of the wildlife on the planet to dangerous monsters.  That, of course, put an end to the war, since it most likely killed more people than the battles had, and the survivors put all their energy to building one last bastion of Technology and Magic, a giant floating tower in the sky from which they could purge evil.

100 years following, technology has become forbidden, though the ways of magic still prosper.  Life has returned to the norm; The mutated creatures still lurk the world, but the humans have rebuilt their civilizations and managed to thrive.  But they still knew fear everyday, and what's worse was that a man, self-titled Emperor Drygon had brought back the old ways of Technology and began imposing them on the world in an attempt to gain control of the Tower and use its weapons the hold the world at his mercy.

But there is one chance left for humanity; one that has slept endlessly to be awakened when he was needed the most.  And thus began the quest of the foretold hero.

The game starts as the protag emerges from this Cryostasis chamber and proceeds to explode through a cave wall.

What follows is a journey where our protagonist (you name him) sets out to meet with the Elders of the remaining villages for information on Emperor Drygon, with the eventual aim of defeating him.  Guided by their wisdom and entrusted with the relics of old, passed down through the ages, the four elemental swords, he meets many interesting characters along the way, as well as his partner in this mission, Mesia, whom he shares a link with that he just can't recall.

Our protag foolishly challenges two Tigermen at level one.

Back in the NES days, this right here was my game.  Everytime I think of those days, this is the one I think of first, simply because it's the one I put the most time into.  Hilariously, I've only managed to beat it twice; the other times I simply played for a bit and then ended up starting over again just because that's what you did as a kid with something you liked.  If it was a movie, you watched it over and over again and me, with games, I just played it over and over again, despite not finishing it.  This is largely due to the fact that once I got the Sword of Water and the Ball of Water, the game opens up dramatically, or at least, way back then it -felt- like it did, and I'd always spend more time moving about than actually making progress.

And even when I beat the game, I couldn't really appreciate the ending back then.  Unfortunately, I still can't, because, as I've learned in growing up, the ending is rather poor.  I won't spoil it here, of course, but there's a lot of last minute reveals that dampens the feel and throws all sorts of questions into the mix, and it's better to remember the game for the fun it offered; using swords to stab things and shoot Wind, Fire, Water/Ice and Lightning at them.  Also getting the Rabbit Boots and jumping everywhere.  Especially getting the Rabbit Boots and jumping everywhere.

Not flying.  Jumping.  Though, you did gain the ability to fly later.

It'll be hard for you to go out and experience this game yourself unless you look into less-than-savory means, (Or finding the Game Boy Color remake which is awful) so if you'd at least like to see the story of this game play out in a humorous manner, I can recommend This Let's Play if you're into that sort of thing.  Otherwise, you could, of course, search it out on youtube; I'm sure there are video Let's Plays of it out there.

Failing that, just take my word for it:  Crystalis was a great game and would be well worth your time if you ever managed to find it and an NES to play it on.  (Or a miracle occurs and it's put up on the Virtual Console at some point.)