Friday, February 17, 2012

This Wait is Killing Me

The wait for the Playstation Vita, of course.  As you might have already seen, Chance got one after paying a small fortune and despite that, I am so jealous.  Every time I get a moment to just sit here and think, I think about how awesome it would be if I had mine and could just....sit here and fiddle with it, changing the backgrounds and stuff.  And then I think about the fact that he's already done all this and I would honestly hate him for this if he weren't so awesome.  My time will come, however and when it does, it will be glorious, and it just can't come fast enough, in all honesty.  But in my waiting, I've decided it's a good idea to take a look at the Vita's early offerings via other people who actually have a Vita and these games - Namely the fine chaps at Giant Bomb who have a whole host of "Quick Looks" for the Vita Launch games.  I figure I might as well share a few of these as well as my impressions of them.

First up is the first one of these I watched, actually.  I've been talking with my buddy Kaseius who has been debating, almost endlessly it seems, between grabbing a 3DS and a couple games, as it seems to be ever-so-conveniently inexpensive at the moment or a Vita.  I'm fairly confident he will own both at some point in time (and in fact already owned a 3DS before, but sold it a week prior to the announcement of the price-cut/free games.  He was not happy.) so it's more a matter of the -now-.  While my purchases have been solidly put in place since the beginning, his are a little more nebulous and, when handed the prospect of a potential Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale at Target for Vita games, he decided it would be prudent to look through the launch games in the event that he went with the Vita.  All this ended up in my confession that I haven't actually played Lumines in any form and, in fact, have no idea what it is.  To which, I was directed to the above video.

After watching it, I'm still not quite sure I know what it is, but I don't believe that's a bad thing.  It seems like it's just meant to be a game that, if you've had a rough day or what-not and have to find something to chill you out over the course of half an hour or so, you just sink that time into Lumines and walk away refreshed.  At least, that's the impression I got from Joystiq's JC Fletcher (who I agree with..maybe 60% of the time lately it seems) who reviewed it, saying, "My time playing Lumines has been the only time in the last week during which I wasn't panicking. I come out of a 45-minute session feeling rested and kind of euphoric.".  'How's that for an endorsement' indeed.  I find that I'm strangely attracted to the idea of buying it now with only this minimal bit of exposure, but I will likely wait a bit, as I'm not quite sure it's my type of game, which is to say that I will likely enjoy it, but not in a way that makes me keep going back to it.  Maybe some day I'll have to eat those words, but we'll see.

Part of my apprehension might come from the fact that I've never been a fan of Tetris and, let's be honest, that seems to be where Lumines has drawn its inspiration from.  In Lumines favor, however, they've clearly carved out their own niche, found a way to make it a different game from Tetris, and that way involves some groovin' tunes and funky visuals, of which I expect I might be a fan of.  All the extra stuff that seems to be new for this version, like the avatars that change how you might think of playing by adding certain bonuses or the like helps with this as well, and while I don't understand it all, it's interesting at the least.  The soundtrack for this version has me a little intrigued as, even though I haven't heard of 90% of the people in it, it still manages to have The Chemical Brothers, Benny Benassi and Amon Tobin whom I've all heard of at minimum.  I'm sure it's absolutely lovely while playing the game.

Now, it's obvious that I'm getting Dynasty Warriors Next because, as I've stated several times before, I am just a whore for Warriors games.  And even though I'm (rightly) pissed at KOEI for the latest announcement that Warriors Orochi 3 is PSN-Only for PS3 (In North America at least for stupid reasons that I am not even about to claim are all Sony's, considering the fact that there have been games for PS3 on disk with no English dub before.  Not even counting Yakuza!  Way of the Samurai 3 didn't have any english vocals.....but to be fair, I don't think it had -any- vocals.  Still.) I'm planning on grabbing this, provided the GameStop I go to has a copy.  And in all honesty, nothing in the video was going to sway me on that purchase.  In fact, a few key things have almost assuredly pushed me more fully into it.

Despite the obvious blase attitude and snark held by the Giant Bomb cast, as that is the only attitude they are contractually allowed to have about a Warriors game, being games journalists and all, they offered valuable insight into the game to spot a few crucial things.  First off is the apparent inclusion of "Empires Mode" elements, insofar as having the map of China divided into territories that you can invade and conquer, as in the previous Empires games.  It appears to be the 'main' portion of the game, titled as the "Campaign Mode" and is, in fact, the first billing in the menu, but Conquest Mode is there as well which I imagine will be much like its PS3 counterpart.  Especially given that there's Create-a-Warrior in the game, meaning you can, in theory, make your own character that will cut a swath across China and wrest victory from Wei's grasp.  Or, I guess Jin's grasp is more appropriate.  Regardless.

It has to be said that I physically cringed at hearing him try to pronounce the names.  "Cao Cao" as "Cow cow" is understandable as KOEI's localization crew thought that's how you pronounced it for five main games, but "Jee-how dune" is where I draw the line, okay?  And "Jee-how YAHN" isn't any better either.  Play the game, listen to it, and learn to pronounce, alright?  Awesome.  Something else that is greatly appreciated is the inclusion of Item Slots finally finally finally.  As shown in the video, it seems there's a spot for a Mount, an Orb, and five Items/Accessories as in previous games that will no doubt assist in making the game more customizable to your tastes and play style, as well as giving you extra incentive to play, if just to find all these things.  In the past, getting the mounts has been an arduous process, almost in line with being a 'secret unlockable' at times, so here's hoping that tradition comes back as well, as I would like to feel like I have a 'quest' in which the reward is Red Hare, personally.

Something I'm not at all thrilled about with, however, is the duel system as it's shown off in the video.  While I imagine it's a lot easier than he made it look, given that he clearly doesn't care about the game, it still looks clunky and annoying at best.  While I get that they wanted to bring something new to it, I can't imagine it'll be much fun after the first five duels or so, after which it'll just be a chore - especially against better duelists like Lu Bu or Guan Yu.  Still, I'll have to play with it myself before I can really pass judgment on it, and aside from that, it looks just fine.  Given that I haven't played a Warriors game in a while (though I have been tempted to throw in Ken's Rage, oh so tempted), I'll likely be ready to jump right into it when I grab it, and I'm eagerly awaiting that time.

The last game is something I've been on the fence about since it was first announced because while I love me some Ninja Stealth games, Tenchu has taught me that I am, in fact, not good at them.  So Shinobido 2:  Revenge of Zen's mission was basically to convince me that I could get it, play it and not be terrible....but I'm not quite sure it's done that.  Based solely on the fact that, as the Giant Bomb guys were quick to point out, the game looks a lot like Tenchu.  That's understandable, of course, considering it's the same team and/or dev that made the old Tenchu games (or so I'm told), but in that same vein, I know I am bad at Tenchu games, as I said, so I'm wondering about that.  It seems to default back to the "Stealth is so crucial that you're punished for being bad at it" with the less-than-stellar combat system which isn't a good sign.

By that same measure, the guy playing this seems to have been showing just as much thought and care in playing this as in playing Dynasty Warriors Next (read:  not much) so it might be a rewarding game if you play it right and might, in fact, not be too difficult to play correctly.  And in another play to the game's favor, it does look measurably better than it has in promotional materials so far, though that might also be in part to only seeing it through a camera, rather than seeing it on the screen itself.  It doesn't look -amazing-, nor like it's taking advantage of any 'next-gen' graphics or animations, but it's not as 'early-PS2' as it looked before.  To me, at least.  It also looks like there are a few things to the game beyond "Tenchu, but on Vita" as well in the Alchemy portion (which also includes Near functionality which I can't -wait- to mess around with....hoping that it works out in the middle of nowhere where I am) which means that there will be material collecting which always adds -time- to a game, even if it feels like a grind sometimes.

Only a few more days until I can have a Vita in my hands and, with any luck, there'll be some demos for a few of these games so I can try them out.  I'm not too optimistic for this stuff right off the bat, but I can have some lofty hopes for it, at least.


  1. The secret to having fun with a stealth title isn't so much about staying unseen - it's identifying the moments when you should dash into the open like a roadrunner to cut one guy's throat the instant his friend turns his back. Good stealth games (which Tenchu is) allow you to play very, very aggressively.

    You can get perfect runs on Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven and Deadly Shadows by essentially blitzing through their levels in a flat-out run. It's as if the game expects you to go so fast, it paces out its NPC routs and behaviors in such a way that it all just lines up perfectly, and you're just tok, tok, tok - knocking down the dominoes its set up.

  2. Hmm. Fair enough, I obviously haven't played with that sort of mindset. I'll give it a shot with the next thing Tenchu-ish that happens along my way (be it a retry of Tenchu or Shinobido 2 itself) and see how it works out. I would love to be able to enjoy the games as I hate that their quality is sort of locked away from me just out of reach.