Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, Walkers

Is it appropriate that I finally finished The Walking Dead Season One on Vita on Halloween?  Because I think so.  I very much think so.  Because The Walking Dead is very much a horror-themed game, but not exactly because of the zombies or the scares involving them.  No, no, that...that would be a little too easy.  I'm sure everyone knows this by now since I'm playing catch-up with the rest of the world, but Telltale's version of The Walking Dead presents real, gut-wrenching terror in the choices that have to be made by Lee, the man whom you assume control of for the entirety of the five episodes.  It's no spoiler to say that you hold lives in your hands, virtual though they might be, and the game makes sure you feel that weight which is impressive to say the very least.

I didn't expect that.  Call me cynical, but when I hear universal praise for a game, I expect it to be disappointing, hype aside, because it's just happened so many times before.  Portal bored and frustrated me, Bioshock convinced me that I simply have differing opinions on what makes a Hard mode hard and Assassin's Creed 2 managed to only get a resounding "meh" from me when all was said and done, because for all the right it did, it did so much wrong.  So I went into The Walking Dead expecting...well, not really expecting anything because I feared to be disappointed and secretly hoped to be overwhelmed.  Obviously, the latter happened, and in the good way, clearly, which is something that honestly surprises me given how these things generally work out.

It has to be stated, however, that the game is not a technical marvel by any means and will leave you wanting if you're intensely put off by such things.  Framerate hitches and drops are commonplace - even at times where such a thing is deadly - audio stutters are not uncommon and I even had a moment where Lee managed to break every amount of tension by moonwalking away from someone for...some reason.  I'm assured that it was not intentional.  I'm fairly confident that these issues are present in all versions of the game, not just the Vita port, and while it's no small thing, it's something that I'm willing to ignore for the sake of what the game offers otherwise.  It's well worth it, I assure you.

Not since the likes of Alpha Protocol have I seen a Conversation and Relationship system work in quite such an encompassing way as The Walking Dead's system manages.  I dare say that it's not quite as complex as Alpha Protocol's, and it has a feature that basically 'lifts the curtain' of it, so to speak, that tells you what decisions -really- matter, versus the ones that might not beyond a little context.  You can turn it off, and you might wish to as seeing "Kenny will remember that." or "You scared Clementine." in the upper left corner might make your meta-gaming instincts take over.  It's clearly these decisions that decide your path and who will be joining you -on- that path, which is sometimes based on that one decision alone, but other times decided based on that one and previous ones which is fairly clever.

I am now admittedly far more interested in The Wolf Among Us than I was previously, but the technical foibles of TWD as a whole have cemented my purchasing decision for me already.  As in, I will be waiting for the entire season to be out and discounted before I put money on the Season fully.  It's only the tipping point of the decision, however, as were they not present, I'm fairly confident that I would have a difficult decision to make.  I did really like TWD and found it...actually inspiring, as in don't expect this to be my last post of it, but the episodic structure would drive me crazy (I don't know how people didn't riot in the streets after Episode 3 came out and they had to wait for Episode 4) and I honestly have a lot on my plate as it is without introducing something that requires a long-term commitment as this does, technically, due to the protracted releases.  So it's far less of a issue than it is an excuse, I suppose.  Still, the waiting for the full TWAU Season One on Vita is going to be difficult...just as the wait for TWD Season Two will be excruciating.

seriously, the moonwalk just ruined that entire moment (near end of chapter 2) and it almost made me mad that it did so

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Split Your Lungs with Blood and Thunder

Continuing my Halloween/Horror-themed game playing to be season-appropriate that started with Sleeping Dogs' Nightmare in North Point, I put my PS3 to the test yesterday and found out whether or not it could know, download the 3.1 Gig download that is inFamous 2:  Festival of Blood, which I had purchased last year for a cheap Halloween sale but couldn't play because reasons.  Reasons that include not being able to leave my old PS3 on for the fifteen hours that was required   Reasons that have since been resolved and thankfully so, because I honestly didn't know what I was missing from my life by not having played Festival of Blood and now that I have fixed that little error, things seem that much better.  Brighter and sunnier, even.  Just nicer all around.

Much like Sleeping Dogs, inFamous 2 was just an absolute joy to play and that still holds true to this day, having gone back into it for the first time in months and picking it all back up rather easily and happily.  That means that inFamous 2's fluidity and enjoyment translate well into FoB at base, not even counting the fun little bits that FoB adds, and does it ever add a doozy.  And much like Nightmare in North Point, Festival of Blood changes things aesthetically for the most part, but leaves the bulk of the main gameplay in standard.  Your amp is replaced with a cross from a coffin that still has a bit of pointy wood left on it and that does change the animations - to finish vampires, you need to stake them with the pointy wood, obviously, and it is satisfying.  But the bulk of Cole's moves are still in play here, or at least the main suite of them - Zapping, repulsing, grenades, rockets and gliding are all present and accounted for and they're your bread and butter powers anyway.

The funny thing is that inFamous 2 got a lot of praise (from me, at least) for having the best system for freedom of movement I've played, and that's up to current standards, but Festival of Blood even manages to one-up it there.  Admittedly, it cheats a little to do this, however.  One of the first vampire powers you get (if not -the- first) is the Bat Swarm ability which allows you to turn into....well, a swam of bats and actually fly.  No gliding, no hovering or anything like that - actual sustained flight.  It's fast flight too!  You zip around the city pretty wildly with it....which is why there's a fairly drastic timer set on it.  You see, in addition to your Electricity Gauge, you have a 'blood pool' or what have you, which fuel your Vampire Powers, obviously.  Flight drains it rather quickly and you only have so much to start with, though you can collect upgrades (think blast shards, but in the form of blood jars) that extend your maximum blood pool which gives you more flight time.  It is definitely worth it to track them down (100 of 'em) once you're able to, and it's made trivial if you find glyphs that unlock your Advanced Vampire Sense, since that will point them out on the map while you're in bat form.

The only issue that I have with Festival of Blood is is rather short, unfortunately.  I started it sometime around 2:30 PM this afternoon and had nearly 100% completed it in under six hours.  All I have left to do for all the trophies is completing some User Generated Content missions which will unlock what I imagine is the final power that I don't have, triggering both trophy unlocks in a single stroke.  (One for doing the required amount of UGCs, one for getting all the powers)  It was a hell of a ride while it lasted, and granted, the game is still just fun to toy around with, flying about (literally now) and such, but I only have so much time for games and far too many games for that little bit of time, so I'm afraid I'll have to be moving along as soon as I mop up the last little bit here.  I can't help but feel as if there's a little disproportionate return on it as, while I got it for cheap (I think it was honestly $3 when I bought it) it still took more than two times the length of time to download it as I'm going to put into it play-wise...which is my ISP's fault and not the fault of the game, of course.

Aside from that, one more night in inFamous 2's New Marais was an enjoyable experience all told.  I'd definitely recommend Festival of Blood if you dug inFamous 2, and if you didn't dig inFamous 2 then you just hate fun, so I don't know what to tell you.  If you're interested, it's currently $3.99 for Playstation Plus users (and will probably stay that way til November 5th, 2013) and it's definitely worth that, no questions asked.  I do however feel like I'm kind of the last person who played inFamous 2 but not Festival of Blood at this point, so it might be a bit moot anyway, but it's still always nice to put a recommendation out there.  Never know who's going to check things out, after all.  And with something as good as Festival of Blood was, you're gonna wanna make sure it's known universally.

I was just so happy when I thought of the Blood and Thunder thing, you don't even know

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wait, Wait, Pikachu is a -What-?

Pikachu facial capture.  I...I don't...

A Detective. A Fucking Detective.

I just don't even know anymore.

I mean, I say that a lot, and I get dramatic sometimes for comedy's sake, but I am well and truly baffled by this.  Essentially, the Pokemon Company has been working on a "Top Secret" game for a little while and just chose to reveal the details for the first time yesterday.  The game is going to be for the 3DS and won't see release for a while - they've suggested that they're shooting to release two years from now - and will be, as stated, a detective game where you and your intrepid partner Pikachu try to solve mysteries and do all those detective-y things.  You might say "Ohhhh, so it's basically just one of those Pikachu games and he'll just be kind of an annoying sidekick" and no, you are actually incorrect apparently.  Pikachu will be cognizant of his own thoughts and ideas and he'll actually be able to communicate them through speech.  That's right, Pikachu is going to talk to you, and do so using proper language.

That's part of why the Pokemon Company felt the game was so experimental and 'dangerous' because making Pikachu talk is a -big deal- to them.  The little yellow mouse is the mascot still, after all, and likely will never relinquish that role so the branding more or less lives and breathes on his image.  So to put him in this kind of game which honestly won't be pandering to the younger crowd - at least one can surmise as much, given that Pikachu will be saying some 'adult'-ish things (commenting on pretty ladies, suggesting a situation is going to be fairly violent) - is a big risk.  One that Nintendo is clearly hoping will pay off later on and, let's face it, it probably will.  It does, however, leave me just one question about the whole thing as it stands.


Why is Pikachu in this game?  Why is Pikachu essentially a functioning adult character stand-in?  Why did they announce this game -now- if it won't be ready for two years?  Are they fucking Squeenix now?  Why did they make yet another drastic genre-shattering game with an existing IP?  Why did they not just make a new IP for fuck's sake?

New Nintendo IPs are a rare breed indeed, at least when it comes to something they have any intentions on -making something of-, and with the success of the Professor Layton games, there's absolutely nothing saying Nintendo couldn't have made their own detective series of games that would've been memorable and inspiring enough to jettison the main character into the Nintendo Hall of Fame as it were.  It honestly wouldn't take much at this point - just make the character and give it even the slightest pushes and you're set.  Just give some perceived notion of at least semi-permanency even if you don't intend it - lord knows Star Fox and Captain Falcon know that pain as do their fans.  Yet they're never forgotten, and you can't say that Nintendo put so much effort into that effect, if only for Captain Falcon and not so much Star Fox.  Yet, instead of taking a chance on that new IP, we get a weird game where Pikachu has facial scanning and animations because he's going to say “If this keeps up, we’ll have a bag made from Pikachu…” because that's necessary.  Totally.

really, the whole 'two years' thing is what bugs me the most, you're better than that Nintendo

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Finally Started Sleeping Dogs Nightmare in North Point

It's been a while since I played Sleeping Dogs properly (admittedly, I have tossed it in here and there to re-enjoy some of its virtues), so with Halloween just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to hop into what was definitely a Halloween-themed DLC pack.  It also just seemed like a good time to play Sleeping Dogs again aside from the whole "I have 20 other games that I haven't even opened yet" thing, but, you know, small, petty details and such.  Which is also ignoring the fact that any time is a good time to play Sleeping Dogs, which is something that I alluded to in the past and still feel is true now.  And even with the different framing of Nightmare, Sleeping Dogs remains Sleeping Dogs.

Admittedly, that's both a good thing and a bad thing in some different ways.  Sleeping Dogs had one real flaw with it, and that was the story-telling aspect of it, which did not improve with Nightmare, at least not at the start.  Indeed, "tongue-in-cheek" is what I'd use to describe what Nightmare in North Point cobbles together and calls a narrative for the story framing that it uses to set itself up.  They don't attempt to sell you the premise, but instead agree with you that it's ridiculous by its own merits (because Jiang Shi, or 'Hopping Vampires' have overrun Hong Kong thanks to Big Scar Wu, aka Smiley Cat, who has escaped from the underworld) and just run with it, which isn't a bad thing.  I just wish, like Sleeping Dogs proper, it had been fleshed out more, since it seems like I'm just fetching things and running around just because.  However, that's a flaw in the narrative's structure more than anything.

You see, Nightmare in North Point is supposed to take place in a single night (or so it seems), thus you're not really expected to play the game like a sandbox game, which is really weird since it -is- a sandbox game and they put things all around the map as a Sandbox game does.  The urgency is set up to max, making you want to play each story mission after another and doing that robs you of a little enjoyment that the game can realistically offer you with the free-roaming and exploring of the city.  As stated, there's at least three types of things scattered around the city - Hell Shrines, Energy Sources and Yaoguai - that encourage you to get around, but if you follow the narrative, you're merely concerned with chasing down Big Scar Wu and putting a stop to his shennannigans.  As a result, I suppose you -could- save all the extra bits for the part after you're done with the story, which might even be 'thematic' depending on the conclusion, but I think treating a sandbox game like a completely linear experience is an exercise in frustration.

However, all the good things about Sleeping Dogs come back in aces and spades because it is still very much Sleeping Dogs at its core.  After putting some time into Grand Theft Auto V (which I have yet to sit down and really write about in any real fashion, something that will be fixed soon enough) coming into another sandbox game is different, and I find that I've had to break myself of habits that GTA V ingrained into me, but it's honestly been a breath of fresh air.  It's surprising just how many facets of Grand Theft Auto V are just out-dated and, quite frankly, bad when compared to other games of the same genre.  It has everything to do with evolution, as so many of V's mechanics are just straight-ripped from games that we played on the early days of the PS2.  We have, indeed, evolved beyond furiously tapping X to sprint faster, and we have, indeed, evolved beyond the almost non-existent amount of ownership the game allows you to have on all things that are not simply your character and their actions (i.e. material possessions, really), but you wouldn't know it, simply playing GTA V.

Doing things in Sleeping Dogs is practically refreshing with the experience in San Andreas under my belt, and I'm honestly taken back by that.  Driving is, ironically, a big complaint for just about any Grand Theft Auto game, V included, and it's just so much easier in Sleeping Dogs, even if it is a bit arcade-y I imagine.  Combat is no question - Sleeping Dogs was built around it and it shows, where Rockstar's latest barely attempted to upgrade the piss-poor system from IV.  I'm even a little partial to SD's gunplay, but that is admittedly more because of my opinion of the system in general than me feeling it 'should' be one way or another - I really just like the slow-mo John Woo stuff over 'proper' cover-based shooting because I get that enough everywhere else.  One is also reminded of SD's evolution of the 'Collectible' aspect of sandbox games in terms of "being able to unlock the goddamn locations on the map" (other games have done this too, admittedly), which is something V also failed to join us with.

Basically, the point is that I'm really enjoying Nightmare in North Point because it's more Sleeping Dogs and Sleeping Dogs is really great.  The new variety of enemies is nice - Jiang Shi and Yaoguai both fight differently than the combatants the game already sported which are still present (as possessed people and/or spirits) - and the general aesthetic adds a new flavor to the game.  I'm not sure if there's been other additions aside from a slightly altered moveset (for when you fight Jiang Shi, since slapping a paper talisman on a thug's face might not really do a whole lot) and the obvious stuff, but it feels good coming home to my favorite game of 2012 in the way that I'm doing it.  Especially since I have something else to weigh my experiences against to make my favorite game from 2012 seem all the better.

some of the stuff is pretty bad like, "All chinese magic is based on Antifreeze!" because what the fuck

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Causality Loops - I Ain't Gotta Explain Shit

One of my favorite things in video games - well, all forms of media, really - is Time Travel because of the non-linear thinking that it necessitates to understand what's going on.  One of the by-products of Time Travel stories is usually something called a Causality Loop, which, coincidentally, is another one of my favorite things in video games and media.  Moreso than Time Travel, but it more or less goes hand in hand with Time Travel because one almost always has to beget the other.  Of course, it's hard to really hammer in this point without really explaining just -what- it is, even though I'm sure we're all familiar with the concept of it, if not the actual definition.

A Causality Loop, in essence, is something that happens because it happened and furthermore must happen, because it happened.  It sounds confusing and it is, but in all actuality, it's very simple because of its concrete foundations in its own existence.  It's the direct inverse of what many call the Time Traveler's Paradox, in which it states that going back in time to prevent something from happening negates the necessity of the Time Traveling in the first place, meaning it would never take place, meaning that it would, again, have to take place.  The resulting is a loop of things that don't happen because something happened that caused it to not happen.  Examples are more or less needed to elucidate the actual concept in motion.

The classic go-to example of the Time Traveler's Paradox is going back in time to eliminate some horrible despot before he comes into a power that will eventually cause the world to spiral into chaos.  Say the team succeeds, the despot is eliminated and the future is destined to change - what does that say of the future in which the time travelers were sent back from?  By all accounts, it doesn't exist anymore because the despot's devastating rule was what necessitated the time traveling to begin with.  Thus, there is no future to time travel back from, thus the time traveling does not occur, thus the despot is not eliminated and, as a result, time refuses to bend or change.  It pretty much only covers willful time traveling, however, which brings us to the other point.

The only example of a Causality Loop that immediately springs to mind that we should -all- probably know about, is the one that Futurama brought to us with the episode "Roswell That Ends Well".  The crew ends up thrown back into the 1940s and Fry runs into a man named Enos, who he recognizes as his grandfather.  His accident-prone grandfather.  Fry attempts several times to prevent Enos from dying because that would unmake him in the future, but his direct interference ends up causing Enos to die anyway, yet Fry still exists.  He comforts Mildred, the girlfriend of Enos and who Fry thought was his grandmother, and the two end up having sex because Fry figures she can't be his grandmother because he still exists.  Well, the end-result is that Fry is his own grandfather and it is hilarious.  This is a proper example of a Causality Loop, however, because Fry exists because he exists.  He ensured his creation by already being created by, seemingly, his own actions which are only possible because he existed.  It's the whole "chicken or the egg" scenario, really.

There are other examples of Casuality Loops out there - at least a couple in Chrono Trigger which I almost got to, but will probably do some other night - and they're all just fun.  Causality Loops are fun to me, in all honesty, otherwise I wouldn't have written about them at all.  I do worry sometimes that people confuse them with paradoxes and, more frustratingly, plot-holes when they're honestly too cool to be either of them!  Paradoxes are easy to make and plot-holes aren't always a big deal (yet you will hear someone yell about them for hours straight for no reason) but it takes -skill- to craft a perfectly executed Causality Loop.  It is an art form and I cannot help but point them out.  Especially since the phrase "Causality Loops - I ain't gotta explain shit" is one of my favorites, even though it is highly situational.

I was going to write about one of the loops in Chrono Trigger but I couldn't figure the words out and it started getting late

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Which I Flip-Flop and Grumble

I was excited for Terraria Vita.  I really was.  I was starved for even the mere theory of a building game on my Vita and Terraria filled that niche up quite well.  It wasn't Minecraft, but I never thought Minecraft would hit the Vita.  Even though I was wrong about that too, it doesn't actually detract from the awesome idea that Terraria is going to be on the Vita as well and is going to be out first and will be awesome and such.  At least, it wouldn't, except there have been some things that have happened (or rather, -not- happened) between now and the point in time where it was announced as a Summer release.

Namely, the game not releasing and there being no official word from the developers about that little fact.

This is further compounded by a few other things that have happened between Terraria Vita's announcement and now, up to and including the following:
  • The announcement of Mobile Versions for the various phones/tablets out there
  • The release of at least two of those Mobile Versions
  • The announcement and release of a 1.2 Patch for the PC version that may or may not release on non-PC versions of the game
  • Talks (but no development) about a theoretical Terraria 2, including platform plans
  • Absolutely no official word whatsoever on the Vita version.
I'm pretty sure that I have a right to be wary here.

It's still coming, we can generally be assured of that, and if you pay attention to the unofficial word floating around on the Terraria forums, it might be soon.  It might also be Cross-Play with the PS3 version.  I think that last part is almost a definite, but there is always a grey area when it comes to forum posts, even if it's from the representative of whoever is porting the game.  Because that is why you make official statements.  Regardless, if you believe what you read on the forums, the 1.2 content, or at least a portion of it, will be released on consoles as DLC that will -probably- be free.  And some inference about a few things in the notes suggest that patch will introduce Cross-Play with the Vita version, whereas all that stuff will be baked into the Vita version right off the bat.  So that the two versions will be on par with one another and thus compatible, you see.

Still, they managed to do something which is very, very rare.  I don't generally pull back on a game I allow myself to be legitimately excited for because I tend to choose my battles in the excitement game so that I don't get excited for things that are likely to fall through or otherwise disappoint.  I have to pull back on Terraria Vita, however, because I simply don't know anymore.  What was originally a day-one sight-unseen purchase has taken a freefall all the way down to "Wait for reviews to say it's okay before I debate whether or not I have the time and desire to put into it".  That is a mighty drop, my friends, and it's just incredibly unfortunate that it ended up coming to this.

still, the allure of building all sorts of structures is very strong - I'm probably going to bite if it's reviewed okay

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Sales Are Here

In today's Store Update, there's, among a lot of other things, a rather large sale based around the Halloween season, putting a grip of Horror-themed games on sale for scary low prices.  (Yes, I fucking went there, no, I didn't have to)  From Resident Evil in a few different iterations, to Dead Island to The Walking Dead and even including The Last Of Us (which is a very specific sub-set of horror, I'm sure), there seems to be a little something for everyone no matter your tastes and all of them seem like good picks to get into the holiday season, as it were.  There are two games in the sale, however, that stand out a little more than the others to me, and it's because of some very specific reasons.

Corpse Party and Corpse Party:  Book of Shadows for the PSP (Vita-compatible) are both on sale for half-off the normal price ($10 instead of $20) and are both definitely something you should look into.  Brought over to American shores by the always-wonderful XSEED Games, Corpse Party seems to invoke little else but disinterest when one looks at the basic sprites and presentation, but looks are quite deceiving.  Encapsulated in Corpse Party is one of the tensest, most fucking frightening experiences I've ever had in a video game and it's due in no small part to the minimalistic presentation (aside from the Visual Novel-esque full art static screens) and the Voice Acting.  To keep costs down, as well as hold true the actual mood of the game, the Voice Acting in the game is all the original Japanese and it...well...Nobody can do Horror like the Japanese.

I'm going to be honest with everyone here - I bought Corpse Party on a Halloween Sale last year and I was determined that I was going to enjoy the experience as everyone suggests.  Played on the Vita (for the crisper visuals, if just slightly), in the dark (to set the mood) and with headphones (to truly enjoy and experience the voice-work and the directional sound design) is supposed to be the key environment for some Corpse Partying.  I was doing that.  Here's a little useful tip:

Don't do that.

Well, actually -do- that, just don't be surprised when you find yourself in fear for your fucking life.  I played the first chapter of Corpse Party and got all three endings for it.  That was all I could do.  The chapter was not very long, but I still required three different sessions of gameplay to complete it because I got so tense and out of sorts that I just literally could not function.  It doesn't help that one particular scene is burned into my brain so that I can perfectly recall it at any given time, mostly thanks to the VA because nobody screams like Japanese women.  I should state that I do not regret my purchase at all - in fact, I encourage yours and I know I'm going to drop $10 on Book of Shadows as well.  However, I do so with full knowledge that I will likely never play it because it is fucking terrifying.

So basically my point is that Corpse Party and Book of Shadows are perfect for this time of year because the whole point is to get scared shitless.  There are few things that are $20 or less that will offer quite as many scares.

seriously, hearing that screamed line is never a good thing and it happens all the time and goddamnit brain -stop doing that-

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gaming By the Numbers - Rune Factory 4

As I near my natural conclusion with Rune Factory 4 (by which I mean a point where I can comfortably pick up and start Hometown Story) I started looking back on some of the stuff in the game, new stuff, returning stuff because I am honestly thinking of doing a review on it.  Or rather, I already started one, but my words just came out sort of over-the-top kissing the game's ass, so I decided to step back until I could reasonably ground myself.  One way of doing that that helps, as always, is by pushing my sleeves up and rooting around inside the mechanics of certain things.  As we all know by now, I have a fair fondness for crafting systems in games and Rune Factory 4's is by no means no exception.  In fact, for my purposes (see:  breaking the economy in the name of Capitalism) it does very well, especially with some of the improvements to the system 4 added, so I thought it best to do what I do really well.

The video above so helpfully describes the method you need to actually get to a point where you -can- craft in Rune Factory 4 and it is just as simple as the video makes it seem.  You purchase a License for whatever you're attempting to get (Cooking License, Advanced Cooking License, Chemistry, etc.) which gives you a little mini-quiz (where the point is to teach you things by making you guess) and then blam, you can buy the piece of equipment so long as you have the materials.  Then you take it home (or, honestly, wherever the hell you want) and muck about with it so you get items.  Recipes are obtained (again, as per the video) by Recipe Bread or you can just be a jerk and look up the recipes and use them instead.  (Since you can just throw things together without a recipe)  It takes a -little- extra RP depending on your skill level, but what you can and what you cannot craft are fairly easily gauged.

One of the biggest boons of Rune Factory 4's crafting system is that almost everything can be procured for free in some fashion - some items are drops, whereas others are mined objects or fish, or things of that ilk.  The only investments you generally make (beyond the crafting pieces themselves which are a small investment all-told) are the costs of seeds to grow crops for cooking recipes, or flower seeds for pharmacy recipes and those are minimal.  What this means is that profit margins are generally huge.  As in, most all of it.  To counter-balance this, a lot of lower-tier items don't have a very high retail price which means you can't craft 15 Claymores and be rolling in theory.  This is where the additions of Rune Factory 4 specifically come into play and make things a lot more tantalizing.

Quality levels of crops are nothing new to the series or even to Harvest Moon proper, but the thing is, they didn't generally affect too much beyond the price of the crop itself, and I was never sure just how much.  Since I never bothered with it since it was never a necessity really.  However, in RF4, the quality of your items really friggin' matters and it affects the price in a -huge- way.  For instance, any recipe that calls for an egg will accept any size of egg, which helps because if you take care of your Chicken monsters, they will eventually lay Medium and even Large eggs which, naturally, sell for more and more at base, not even counting the level of quality because the more affection you have with a monster, the better quality the item itself.  The size of the egg -and- the level of quality both directly have an impact on the end-price of the dish or weapon or medicine, etc. that you craft.  It's easier to just explain with an example.

Take the basic Fried Eggs recipe which is literally just an egg in the Frying Pan.  A small egg sells for 280 G at base, and the Fried Eggs dish, at base, sells for 335 G.  However, if you make it with a Level 10 large egg that sells, alone, for 960 G, well, it shoots the sell price of the dish all the way up to 1,005 G.  That's a rather large increase of what is, more or less, an item that doesn't cost you a single G unless you really pedantically add in the cost of the brush, the monster barn and fodder (which you grow multiple harvests out of a single seed -anyway-).  That's a really simple example, obviously, and the hikes only get more and more ridiculous as you go along.  Take a Cake - the recipe is Flour, Butter, Sweet Powder, Strawberry, Milk and an Egg - and just -imagine- how it works with top-of-the-line ingredients.  At base, a cake sells for 4200 G, but if you have Level 10 Butter (900 G versus 300 G), Level 6 Sweet Powder (212 G versus 170 G), Level 10 Large Milk (1000 G versus 260 G for a Small Level 1) and a Level 10 Large Egg, then it goes for 5880 G easily.

It does get even better, however.  While I did whinge a bit about the Shop System (in that it's not really a shop) the fact of the matter is that it's really damn handy.  You sell everything at above-retail price in your Shop (rather, they offer you more than retail) for some reason or another and hand-made things with high-quality ingredients go for a ridiculous mark-up.  Case in point, the 5,880 G Cake I made just got an offer of 8,518 G with absolutely no insistence or extra pushing on my part.  (You can do things to try and push the price of an item up, even, if the mark-up wasn't delicious enough.)  This is how you make your mad bank in Rune Factory 4.  The only item I paid money for in that recipe was Flour which was a paltry 320 G, and the Sweet Powder, were I to buy that (because I often do, I just made a couple to try and bump my Pharmacy up a level) would just be an extra 450 G. 

So, for a full investment of 770 G (which is the -normal- cost, since I generally buy those two items) I make 7,748 G profit and that's just one item.  That Cake costs 108 RP to make at my current level, and I have a max of 1433 RP.  That's 13 cakes for one full RP bar (technically 14 since I can make one more and take an HP hit) which means 100,724 G profit (or 108,472 G) if I wanted to go that route.  Of course, that's assuming all my Cakes sell for 8,518 on the open market and know, more than that.  Even if I just sold them through my shipping bin for regular price, that'd still be 5,110 per Cake, 66,430 per 13 (or 71,540 for 14) per RP bar.  I can, of course, head to the baths and get a full RP refill for 300 G (the first time), 500 G (the second time) and so on and so on.  At no point would it definitively eat into my profits and it simply allows me to continue making madd bank so long as I have the items to make the Cakes in question.  That's not even the most cost-effective recipe, no no no.  I haven't even looked for the most cost-effective recipe yet because I don't have to.

It will not surprise you to know that I have basically run out of things to buy at this point and thus I don't really feel a need to 'grind' out crafted items for a bunch of money since I'm sitting on 150K now that I don't even need.  I mean, technically, I could build up a lot, buy material pieces (if I could find them for sale), build up more money and expand all my things over and over again (get a whole new room and another farm space, for instance) but it's unnecessary.  It's almost unfortunate.  But making a ton of fucking money, even if it's fake money in a video game, is almost always its own reward because it gives you hope that someday, somehow you get to put all this terribly nerdy logic into play in a real-world scenario and make actual mad bank.  One of these days, maybe...

of course, I would be a lot less evil in pricing and such in a real-world scenario....probably

Sunday, October 20, 2013

3rd Gen Pokemon Remakes Are Probably Coming, But Eh

If you take a look at this Siliconera post you'll see a few screenshots from various sources that would generally hint towards a Ruby and Sapphire remake.  However, if you would just pay attention to...just about anything and use your own common sense, you would already know that these things are things that are going to happen.  It's not even called pattern recognition, noting that the first and second gens have seen remakes, or anything like that.  It is, quite literally, just common sense, because all it does is make sense for Nintendo to go this route.  Because it makes money, and what Nintendo really needs to do is bolster their Wii U division while they get the games on it, and the way they do that is by making a ton of money in the handheld division.

The biggest arguments against Nintendo making Ruby and Sapphire remakes basically come from people who refuse to believe Nintendo wants to do it because....reasons, I suppose.  When you point out that Red and Blue (Green) were remade, they say "Well yeah, they were the first ones, it was a special thing", and when you point out that Gold and Silver were remade, they go "Well yeah, but that was because of the improvements made, and because they wanted to do the Pokewalker thing".  When you say that that is just what Nintendo does, they go, "Oh yeah, because they're doing all the same things, right, and that's why we got Pokemon Grey?"  To that point, all I have to say is thus:

Hey.  You.  Listen.  We didn't get Pokemon Grey, true.  We didn't get one bridging game with a few new features.  We got two bridging games that follow the "Please buy both" philosophy with a few new features, further pointing in the direction of Nintendo wants your fucking money.  "But Mogs, Black and White 2 were full-fledged sequels and it wasn't just like a potential Grey cas-" Hush.  Black and White 2 were -far- less taxing than something like X and Y, a brand new iteration, and was probably only mildly more intensive than a theoretical 'Grey' so it existed somewhere in the grey space (heh) between a Grey and X/Y.  In other words, it was not as dramatic a departure from the release formula as you might expect, and thus it doesn't disprove the potential of a Ruby/Sapphire remake release in the least.

It's not to say that I even -want- a Ruby/Sapphire remake, however, because I didn't even particularly care for Gen 3.  I know I say a lot of negative stuff about Pokemon as a whole, which is why I'm going to try to reign it in here, but Gen 3 was, outside of the important changes to the battle system, the worst gen to date.  Fresh off the amazing things that Gold and Silver did - the Poke'Gear, Radio stuff, introducing the Day/Night Cycle and letting you go back to the original region for a whole new Gym-crawl - Ruby/Sapphire basically only brought the Special Attack/Defense split and regressed beyond that, resulting in -massive- steps back.  Sure, the region was alright.  It looked nice for the time.  And the new Pokemon were pretty cool.  However, the mechanics, as stated, were abysmally behind-the-times they had instated themselves, and the story was -terrible-.  I know, I know, we don't play Pokemon for the story, but that doesn't let it get a pass for being the most bullshit thing this side of Black/White's main storyline.

It's all a bit moot, however, since I will be first in line to buy a Ruby remake even though I've decried Gen 3 for as long as I've been playing Pokemon and Gen 3 was a thing.  I will put down money for it, play it and probably bitch the whole time, but at least I realize that I am part of the problem.  But I can't help it because the allure of Pokemon is something that no other company has fine-tuned just yet and until they have, I will probably keep getting drawn back in, over and over again, kicking and screaming the whole time.  Who knows, one of these times, they might just implement the improvements to the formula that we all wa-


that joke will never get old, unfortunately

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Haven't Talked About The New Harvest Moon Yet

No, no, I don't mean Rune Factory 4, but I haven't gone deep enough into that quite yet either.  Just last week, Harvest Moon: Connect to a New Land was announced for the 3DS, further solidifying my purchase of the system even if I would really just prefer them making Harvest Moon/Rune Factory games for the Vita.  It seems silly to be getting excited for a new game when I'm -still- excited for Rune Factory 4 and I haven't even really played A New Beginning just yet, but, well, we all know that I am excessively prone to silly things.  This is no exception.  However, there are some very big, very real reasons to be excited for Connect to a New Land just from what little information has been shared for now.

First off, they seem to be taking some of the improvements from A New Beginning and keeping them baked in going forward, which is always a good sign.  Specifically being able to pick a Male or Female protagonist at the beginning is still relatively new to the Harvest Moon series, strange as that seems, so to see the trend almost become 'standard' now is good.  I personally hold no interest in playing the female character of a Harvest Moon game simply because I play the games to woo virtual people and I'm just...well, I'm not interested in wooing the virtual dudes in Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games.  However, having that option baked in to the game's very design means that you're definitely set to get at least five characters, male and female, who are wholly interesting since their inclusion is partly being interesting enough to date.  Rune Factory never has a problem with having interesting characters, datable or not, but Harvest Moon games have had fairly small casts in the past which is helped some by ideas like this since, at the very least you get -more- characters.

Keeping with the 'More is better' theory, CtaNL will be featuring a "Safari" area which will hold a host of exotic animals that you will be able to tame and bring back home with you in case the animals you get in Harvest Moon proper just aren't enough for you. all honesty, might be true.  There has been expansion in that field (heh) with the last few games, taking the potential roster a bit away from the traditional Cows, Sheep and Chickens, adding in Ducks, Alpacas (At least one game, if not more) and probably at least a few more things that I can't really think of right now since I haven't played ANB for more than twenty minutes.  All in all, the amount of animals that are tamable in Harvest Moon games is said to be doubled in New Land, but I'm hoping they're using a bit of an inflated figure to start, since double of five is just ten.  Which is...not a big enough number to tout as "double" or "twice as much" since you can just say ten.

Some other information from the Famitsu article that broke the news and details of the new game also mentioned what is very, very obvious from the name of the game itself - you'll be able to visit other people's ranches.  It's unclear as to how this'll be managed - the theories seem to be an Animal Crossing-esque Street Pass method where your Farm 'State' is saved and loaded elsewhere so that someone can visit it as it was in that state, ala the Dream Suite (for your town) and the Happy House Academy Showcase (for your house specifically) or just straight up Wi-Fi traveling to the other and co-habitating the same space, perhaps working side-by-side and whatnot.  That alone is rather amazing, since it's basically one of the big things Stardew Valley had on the Harvest Moon games it was clearly inspired by - multi-player farming, as inane as that might sound to you.  Which it shouldn't.  Because farming is serious business.

The game will also feature something called a "Trade Station" which will allow you to buy and sell particular things from and to other countries (unknown if this is in-game countries, or real-world countries) as a new little facet to the business numbers side of the game.  Because as we all know, you're not doing all this farming and animal rearing for your health and happiness - there's gotta be some cold, hard green involved, yo.  Farmer's gotta make bank so he can upgrade his house and get a few of the locals under their belt as a little pick-me-up between field chores.  And to buy new things like new animals and new barns and plants and tools and such, you know, responsibly growing what is generally accepted as a business to a very nice enterprise.  But also the opulence and the making it with the locals.  Mostly that.  Maybe.

The game likely won't be out in the states until late 2014, if not 2015 since it's still in development and will assuredly hit Japan months before a localization is even announced, but I think the series has expanded a niche enough in the states and elsewhere that it's a safe bet on coming out over here.  If nothing else, I'm sure a few particular people at XSEED would love to localize the game, and we would all absolutely love for those people to handle it as well.  Because XSEED does great work, you see.  And also @Hatsuu has the absolute best tweets about Rune Factory and Harvest Moon in general that I always just love reading.  So I want more of them.  As should everyone.

you'll be able to raise a friggin' reindeer in New Land, I don't even

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This is Why I've Held Off Pre-Ordering inFamous: Second Son

I've been thinking about it here lately, and I said to myself, "Self, why don't you have inFamous:  Second Son pre-ordered?  It is literally the game you're buying a PS4 for, and it would probably be cool if on that."  My answer had more or less, to this point, been "Oh, I keep forgetting."  Much like I kept forgetting to pre-order the Ys: Memories of Celceta Limited Edition and the 'Grand Wizard' Edition of South Park: The Stick of Truth, both of which have been rectified.  Who knew that, in that same vein, all I was doing was biding my time for a Collector's Edition?  I, uh, didn't, even though I damn well should've considering the amount of worrying I did over getting an inFamous 2: Hero Edition after I stupidly forgot to pre-order one.  Now that this has been announced, however, I know what I'm doing Tuesday when I buy Hometown Story.  Aside from also buying Pokemon X.  And...possibly Valhalla Knights 3 because XSEED.

With all the Collector's Editions that I buy, I try to rationalize just why I am actually buying them and some are far easier than others.  inFamous 2's Hero Edition was rationalized because of the badass statue (which is, of course, badass) and the utilitarian purpose of the Messenger Bag that came with it.  (I have never used it because I worry it'll break or something.)  I rationalized REVENGEANCE's Collector's edition because swordlamp is the light (no pun intended) and it ended up working well because, even though I haven't even plugged in the lamp, it still looks badass and REVENGEANCE was fucking amazing, please go buy it.  Or wait for the PC version and buy it there.  Muramasa's was delightful if just for the little pouch that I'm not using currently, but I definitely -could- be and will at some point, not to mention that Muramasa itself was pretty good.  And so on and so on and so forth.

This one?  I'm essentially paying extra $20 (retail $79.99 for the Collector's Edition) for a Beanie that I'm never going to wear, decals that I'm never going to place, pins that I'm simply going to display and a patch that I will similarly simply display.

All of that will, of course, come with inFamous:  Second Son.

So basically what I'm saying is worth it.

February is a brutal wait, but goddamn if I don't have a ton of fucking games in the meanwhile

Some Encouraging Project Spark News

It seems that Project Spark, Microsoft's game-building game, will not require XBox Live Gold to play in any of its versions on the 360, PC or XBone.  Seeing as that is a Microsoft Studio title, as first-party as can be, that's quite a surprising development, but not an unwelcome one.  It also makes a lot of sense to do which I posit is most of why it's surprising.  Despite me being a little disappointed in Project Spark, or what little of it has been shown off, I'm still nonetheless interested in it, especially now that the XBone left Crazytown and is a viable, purchasable console now.  Because I am just a whore for the concept of creating things even though I'm terrible at actually executing the creation thereof.

Of course, that's kind of where the rub is - everything points to being able to play Project Spark without XBox Live Gold.  Semantics are a wonderful, terrible thing, of course, so one could actually infer that silver members can only do that - play the game.  Play other creations people have made.  The worry, then, is that you will still need Gold to actually be able to create and share your little games that look suspiciously like Fable even though it's supposed to be set in space or something.  It would certainly make sense, since it makes -more- sense than Microsoft being cool where it concerns this game.  It's not that we want to be cynical, that we don't want to believe, but, well, I think we've all touched the fire one too many times, and we're pretty sure it's still going to burn.

We're watching you, Microsoft.  Keeping an eye on you in case you go all Crazytown again.

yes, it was a short post but what else is there to say about a game that has like three minutes of footage out there

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let's Talk About Shop-Keeping - Rune Factory 4

Back when I was in a froth of excitement for Rune Factory 4 and didn't know what to expect, I came across a list of things that was new to the series or at least this particular iteration of it.  It was all excellent stuff, but one thing stood out to me because of just how I am was the mention of the ability to run your own shop.  This is something I've been excited to do if it hasn't been obvious with my picking apart of Animal Crossing's Re-Tail system and my hopeful babbling for Hometown Story.  Because of my terrible computer, I pretty much can't play any PC game which includes the wonderful Recettear:  An Item Shop's Tale which is basically the only game I want to play as a consequence.  Hometown Story looks as if it will scratch that itch for a real, wonderful storefront simulator, plus it'll have the trappings of a Harvest Moon game that I am constantly seeking as well.

Anyway, to call what you do in Rune Factory 4 "running a shop" is....charitable.  At the very best, you're just running a Garage Sale out of a Castle which I guess lends some weight behind it for reasons, but there's absolutely no management to it.  If you'll refer to the screenshot above, do you see that little booth thing next to the overly elaborate mailbox just off-center of the top of the picture?  That is where you sell things from.  You sell things from a box in which you have placed things you specifically want to sell.  All you do is stand there while people walk up to you at a meandering pace and speak to them when they're near.  They will either say "Oh, I want to buy this for this price" which you can accept or refuse, and I have never once had someone raise their price if I refuse, say "Oh, I dunno..." which allows you to employ your business savvy of saying it's a good item or smiling vapidly (possibly other methods as the skill levels up more) to try and sway them to buy it and/or buy it at a higher price, or say "Just looking", which wastes everyone's time.

That's not to say it's bad, of course - it's not.  In fact, it's a damn fine source of money when it finally unlocks and because of that, it's only more of a reason to delve into raising your skills via crafting, forging and cooking, since you can sell everything that you make at a price that will at -least- be what you'd get for shipping it, but in most cases, more than that even.  Sometimes a lot more.  Of course, sometimes you'll only sell a 200 gold potion for 215 gold, but that's still profit (since you're almost always just gathering the materials for crafting/cooking/forging) and by using the 'Shop', you're increasing your Barter skill.  And even though you only use your Barter skill for the 'shop', it gives you stat bonuses like every other skill, so you always want to raise skills when you can always.

Much like Animal Crossing's Re-Tail, the only thing missing here is depth and that's fine.  Neither Animal Crossing nor Rune Factory 4 were built around shop-keeping and were I not completely infatuated with the concept as it was, I might suggest they veer towards superfluous territory.  Because of that, it's a given that their uses are going to be perfunctory in nature and, as stated, you can still make good use of them but it's not a 'proper' set-up.  That's ultimately what I still crave, of course, is that proper set-up and I should hope for all our sakes that Hometown Story offers that as it appears to.  I won't be done with Rune Factory 4 by next Tuesday which will make it a rather painful day (compounded by the fact that I will be purchasing Pokemon X on the same day with the express intent of playing it "sometime in a month or two") but the pain will immediately be eased by more Rune Factory 4.  Because it's quite good, if I haven't made that known enough by now.

seriously, the booth like, cuts off the top of the character's head, could they have maybe done -something- else?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is Interesting - Square Enix Collective


Crowd-funding is the way to go these days, it seems, what with Mighty No. 9 getting funded in a weekend (and going on to gross over $4 million) and Zeboyd Games taking Cosmic Star Heroine to Kickstarter on top of the other hundred Kickstarter stories I could link here, so it makes sense that other companies, even the big ones, are taking notice.  The notable differences here is that the company involved is Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter and Squeenix isn't actually making a game, but rather encouraging everyone else to do so.  If you're lucky and have a good idea for it, you can even use an old Eidos IP as your basis with Squeenix's blessing....since they're the ones publishing it anyway.  We don't know -what- IPs just yet, of course, but I imagine there's one that's off the table...because of its terrible, awful, no-good, very bad announced iteration that I still refuse to believe is real.

What this collective process is is basically an additional step before going up on Indiegogo that'll get you a little bit of a running start.  You detail your pitch and a community gets to vote on it.  If it's voted for favorably over a given length of time, it's then submitted to Indiegogo so that people can actually contribute to its funding, thus granting it a little visibility beforehand to ensure that word-of-mouth occurs.  It's basically Steam's Greenlight service, except you then add the crowd-funding aspect to it after it's approved, and the extra step should, in theory, help it get noticed.  Which should then, in theory, help it get funded since Indiegogo is...much less known than Kickstarter.  With the end-all goal of being helping out the projects to actually get funded, of course so they can get out there.

It's just an interesting thing all around because of Squeenix's backing and because of their decision to allow for the use of old IPs that they're (apparently) not using.  Most companies tend to just sort of sit on IPs that they're not using nor plan on using and it's a shame because you think back on the games that spawned from them and remember just how fun they generally were, at least if they were.  The only problem with the set-up is that it's just Eidos properties right after you see the Squeenix involvement and laugh because there are so many properties under Squeenix's label that -honestly- need attention.  Proper attention.  Whereas I can't really think of any Eidos properties beyond the ones that are getting games made for them currently.  (Deus Ex, Tomb Raider......Legacy of Kain, technically)  Still, I'm sure there'll be some with potential when we get a list.  After all, what would be the point otherwise?

Of course, it's not -just- a project to have indies make new iterations into standing series, since you'll be able to post just about any idea you could want on the Collective.  The only issue with that, however, is that with Squeenix publishing your game, it's up in the air as to whether or not they're going to want the IP to it or if you'll be able to negotiate that.  Obviously they're going to get a cut of it as well, and you as the indie simply have to decide whether or not what Collective offers is enough that you'll want to give up that much to make it happen.  Personally, I'm assuming there's going to be a very real 'wait and see' approach to this at first which is...less than ideal for this type of project.  The other caveat is that, I'm guessing Squeenix is only publishing, meaning you're not going to get to assume some sort of help with development or funding - after all, you're getting your money from Indiegogo members.  Still, it's an interesting prospect, and there's certainly some things that can come from it!  I look forward to seeing what people attempt, myself.

hello yes, I would like to reboot Robotrek please, it would be awesome

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm Still Alive

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's been fairly shitty lately and I've been working myself ragged trying to keep ahead of the curve.  Literally and figuratively.  So I haven't been able to sit down and write again, but it's not like there has been a lot of news lately again.  I do have to make a post about Rune Factory 4 now that I've played a good grip of it, and I do have a post about something else already worked on.  All sorts of stuff going on that I just have to finish.  Which is...again, how it usually goes!  Over and over and over and over again.  But I -am- bucking one trend at least.

Instead of giving you some K-Pop, I'm instead leaving you with one of my favorite clips from Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which is definitely my favorite movie of all time.  I feel like I have already left this clip in this blog, but I searched and could not find it.  Regardless, it bears watching over and over again because it's just absolutely wonderful.  If this doesn't get you interested in the movie, even a little, then I'm sorry, but you don't know what funny is.  Or what good things are.  Or anything along those lines.  Because it's amazing, you see.

Hopefully will be able to drop a normal post tomorrow if not two.  Here's hoping!

"Yeah, I heard about that.  It was neck and neck and then she skipped lunch."  classic

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


In a Playstation Blog post, Sakura Minamida did the one thing that I have been hoping for for a while now:  Announced that Drakengard 3 is heading to North America.  Part of me wants to say that it's not surprising, especially after being buoyed a bit last week with that website registration, which is actually a site now, but it is surprising.  It always seemed like one of those "Never going to happen, but wouldn't it be awesome" things, but, hell, that's what this whole year has been like.  Still, this is Squeenix we're talking about, and they're almost on the same level as Sega in the whole dream-killing, terrible decisions game.  God knows we're all damn lucky that Drakengard 3 wasn't a fucking tablet game.

Details at this moment are scarce, really.  The game will be released on North American (and European, I believe) shores sometime within 2014, I'm assuming the latter half of it, and it'll be for PS3.  The above trailer, as you can see, is subtitled instead of dubbed, which, if they were going to keep that way might indicate a Digital-Only release (if you believe KOEI's lies) but obviously the game isn't really in the throes of Localization just yet, so if they're going to dub, they probably haven't even hired Voice Actors yet.  Furthermore suggesting a physical release is the fact that the game is available for pre-order 'exclusively' through the Squeenix Store for $50.  Now, call me crazy, but I don't think Squeenix is crazy enough to take pre-orders this early for a Digital-Only release of a game. 

What this does question, however, is just how accessible the game is going to be.  Perhaps a physical version is only available through them directly, otherwise it's digital-only dub or not?  Or maybe this is just a ploy to gauge interest to determine how much effort needs to go into the game's localization.  Or maybe it's just Squeenix being weird because that's what they do.  I'm not one for internet purchases like this, but it's Fucking Drakengard 3 so of course they're going to get my $50 before the end of the week.  And hell, if the game goes up for pre-order at GameStop at some random point in the future that is 2014, I might just reserve a copy there too.  I'm just fucking excited and happy about this happening that I want to make it worth-while.  Most of all, I just want the damn game that bad.

Now, remember kiddos:
If it does happen?  You better buy the fucking game.  I don't care who you are, I don't care what you want.  If you're looking for a pure action game, I can tell you that this won't be it.  But what it will be is a very particular type of game that has grown amazing over a long-running series.  A particular type of amazing game that I will make you buy.  If you buy the game, that will be the end of it.  I will not look for you, I will not pursue you.  But if you don't, I will look for you.  I will find you.  And I will slam your head against your keyboard until Amazon has ordered a copy for you.
(I won't.  Please just buy the game.)
 It's happening.  Thus, it is on.

really, it's not on but please buy Drakengard 3, I know I tell you guys to buy a lot of games, but especially this one

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Sleeping Dogs Universe is Set to Expand

I loved Sleeping Dogs.  I loved it so much that it was my Game of the Year last year by a clear majority, and I found myself gnashing my teeth for another go at it, even if it was just a straight-up replay of the game in its entirety.  With Squeenix being...well, Squeenix, I had started to wonder if we'd actually see anything else from the series, however, but always hoped and assumed that news would be forth-coming.  That hope has paid off, as United Front Games are working on a game called "Triad Wars" which will be set in the Sleeping Dogs universe.  However, there is...a couple things that get me worrying because as you all know, I am sort of prone to worrying about literally everything.

The trademark filed for the game, as far as I know, is simply "Triad Wars" and not "Sleeping Dogs:  Triad Wars", which is well, kind of the thing you -don't- want to do.  I hope it's a sub-title and it makes the most sense to be, what with it being set in the same universe and keeping that brand recognition is key, but I don't know how trademarks work in terms like that.  "Triad Wars" on its own is incredibly generic and that leads into another point that deserves a little worried thought to it.

This is Squeenix we're talking about.  Granted, it's United Front Games developing, but Squeenix has the whole thing by the balls, you can bet, and we all know where Squeenix has been buttering their bread lately.  Or at least trying to.  And failing pretty uniformly.  Chances that this game, since absolutely nothing about it was announced by the name (potentially just half of it) will be a mobile/tablet game are far too high for my liking because they're present at all.  The idea is that it'll be a PS4/XBone game, of course, but I'm not putting anything past Squeenix, especially when the trademark, as stated, is simply for something called "Triad Wars" which will go well right next to all your other iOS games.  I can't name any of course (aside from Angry Birds), but you know what I'm getting at.

Assuming that we're not expecting the worst, one can only dream of what might actually occur in a Sleeping Dogs sequel, especially one (hopefully) sub-titled "Triad Wars".  Wei Shen obviously spent the majority of his time trying to shut down some of the Triad factions and members, but you can't always get rid of all of them, and the game could take place in the aftermath of the first game during a rebuild time or something along those lines.  Of course, it could also be a prequel that shoes off the establishment of the Red Poles in the Triad and their respective rises to power.  Or it could even be a game that runs concurrent to the events of Sleeping Dogs while Wei is running around, stirring up the pot and trying to get them all taken down.  The possibilities for another Sleeping Dogs game are honestly a bit astounding and it does manage to get me excited and hopeful despite a complete information blackout until 2014, apparently. 

It's going to be a long, hard wait, but at least I have plenty of things to keep me occupied while I wait for news about the game.  Fingers crossed for a PS4 game to play alongside the Tomb Raider sequel so that I can tell Squeenix that I really do actually support their non-Final Fantasy projects.  Since, you know, they apparently need to be told that.  Excessively.  Loudly.  So that they can't say the best/fastest selling iteration of an IP's sales are "not what they expected".  Because they're dumb.

just give me some more environmental finishers and we're all peachy, United Front Games

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rune Factory 4 is Pretty Fantastic

It's not surprising that this game that I've been looking forward to for forever is wonderful and definitely something that I wanted and the like.  It's not surprising that I feel compelled to tell you to pick it up if the Harvest Moon bits of the game tempt you because the Rune Factory bits are better than ever.  It's not surprising that it's got its hooks into me in a way that few games do, pulling me into playing it whenever and however, constantly luring me and calling out to me, pleading with me to play while I'm doing important things like writing a blog post about how it does all these things.  What it is, however, is refreshingVindicating, even.  I hoped - I knew- the game would be exactly what I wanted, and even that level of certainty does grant a little bit of relief when it turns out to be correct.  I can enjoy everything about it while also enjoying the fact that I knew I would enjoy it.

It's hard to really know where to begin, other than the beginning, which is actually easy enough to do.  Every game manages to have the protagonist have amnesia to start with and, as tired of a trope as it is, it's not shoe-horned in and it -does- manage to serve a purpose.  RF4's method is perhaps one of the more spectacular the series has seen and ends up dropping you right into the thick of things in a light-hearted way that the series seems to just ooze.  You're then prompted to introduce yourself to the cast of characters this iteration boasts who are just as crazy and fun as they've been in previous games, making it hard to pick a favorite immediately.  Of course that's not where the end of the cast is, however, as more people (including more Bachelors/Bachelorettes) start appearing as you get more and more into the game for various reasons.  The cast is filled and rounded out well, to put it mildly.

The controls have been refined to such a degree that doing just about anything is fairly easy and intuitive, making it just as enjoyable to play as it's ever been.  The "Magical L Pocket" as it's referred to in-game lets you hit the L button and bring up a menu (that thankfully stops time) to allow you to go through your Weapons, Armor, Tools and holdable Items and manage them right there without jumping into the proper Start menu.  This cuts down on the tedium of switching between the various things that you have to manage to do simple tasks.  Planting and watering seeds, for instance requires you to equip a hoe, use it, equip the seeds, plant them, equip the watering can and then water them.  Imaging doing that in a quick-swap menu (ala Animal Crossing) and it's cumbersome, but just imagine going into the Start menu proper for all that.  It wouldn't be pleasant, which makes me thankful that RF4 had that amount of forethought put into it.

Some people tend to worry that these types of games are slow-starters and that's understandable, especially after Harvest Moon:  A New Beginning.  While generally considered one of the best straight-up Harvest Moon games in a long time, it nonetheless had a first season that I've heard described from anywhere as "a really, really long tutorial" to "a slog" before it really opens up and lets you do things.  Rune Factory 4 is not like that.  It's not like that at all.  On my second day, I walked outside of town, Forte came out and was like "So hey, it's dangerous out here, want me to come along?", I went "Okay", and then we partied up and I proceeded to rail through the entire first dungeon without so much as a "woah, wait, are you sure you wanna do that".  On my second day, I cleared the entire first dungeon, boss-fight and all.  It was a good feeling.  There have been absolutely no barriers since then aside from the one I'm self-imposing because I need to stop stumbling into things until at least Summer if I don't want to beat the game's story before Fall.  And I don't.  I think.

Finally, the translation is absolutely wonderful, but that's hardly a surprise.  There's a good blend of humor spiced into things, of course, but it's not excessive nor is it cringe-worthy (as some tend to worry when 'humor' is mentioned) unless it's in a good way.  Otherwise, it's handled quite professionally and everyone has a cohesive manner of speaking that's individualized enough to give them all their own character.  Dolce talks differently than Forte who talks differently than Amber who talks differently than Nancy and so on and so forth.  Things are just as they should be, I should say, so I can't find fault at all with XSEED's handling of that portion of the game.  If anything, I have to applaud them for it, because the experience has been uniformly great on that front.  Of course, the game is uniformly great on -all- fronts, and it's engrossing as all get out.  In fact, that's mostly all of what I wanted to talk about for the game, so I'm going to get back into it now.  Because it's awesome, you see.

actually I'm going to watch this episode of Attack on Titan first, then play RF4 as the next one pre-loads because oh my god, Attack on Titan

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Okay, So, Go Watch Shingeki no Kyojin

The theme song is so damn badass.

I like to, you know, write things in my blog posts, especially when I'm telling you specifically to do something.  So when I tell you to go find a way to watch Shingeki no Kyojin (more commonly known as Attack on Titan), you're probably like "Oh, why?  Is it good?  What's it about?"  I could tell you the answers to those questions.  In fact, okay, I will.

Because it's awesome.  Yes, it's awesome, not just good.  It's about awesome things.

Saying anything about the show would kind of be spoilers, so just....go watch it.  Stream it somewhere - Crunchyroll has it as one of the like three dozen shows it streams as a pay service for some reason.  It's also on Hulu if that's your thing.  There are other streaming options, of course, though I'm not sure about any of them, so I won't share.  You all know how to use the internet, though.  I think there's a physical release, but it's probably absurdly expensive, so I won't even look.  Do what you have to do.

Just....just watch the show.  I am.

coincidentally that is why short post tonight, I'm sure you'll forgive me

Friday, October 4, 2013



You guys know that I'm not one to post the most insignificant piece of something and run around screaming and flailing my arms in a comical fashion because I think it's true or anything like that.  I don't like to cling to the faintest hope of something that could be, that has proper time -to- be, because more often than not, that never amounts to anything and it just crushes everyone involved emotionally.  Getting hopes raised up and getting them smashed always hurts and sometimes it just hurts a ridiculous amount.  Which is why I don't do it.  I don't like doing it.  I don't want to do it.

But goddamnit, this is Drakengard 3 we're talking about here.

Basically the story is that some of those internet sleuths out there noticed a new website registration from Squeenix titled "".  It says in very plain detail on the whois site there that Squeenix owns the domain now, but of course if you go to, there is absolutely nothing there.  I am pretty sure that it is legit because I can't see any reason for it to not be legit beyond my pure, unadulterated hope.

It's a weird thing to think about, really.  Trademarking "Drakengard 3" would have been a flag, of course, but companies trademark shit they don't intend to use all the time, so it wouldn't have been a definitive sign.  Website squatting isn't too terrible of a problem though, I don't think, so I don't see the point in registering the website unless you are going to use it.  That does bring up the point that it says "DrakengardGame" instead of "Drakengard 3", however.  But companies do that shit all the time too, have weird ass websites for their normal-named games and whatnot, so that's even more a point in its favor.  Especially because the series has always only been Drakengard over on these shores.  Drakengard has only ever been used specifically for -this series-.  Drakengard is therefore not ambiguous.

It's tiny.  It's a very, very small thing, a kernel of almost miniscule size.  But it's something.  I want to believe that I'll be able to buy a copy of Drakengard 3 from GameStop with the biggest smile on my face and all the wonder of the world in my eyes sometime late next year or so.  I want to believe that Squeenix is going to localize -this- game because they know the very weird niche audience that it has over here that will eat this shit up.  I want to take anything and everything as evidence at face value to point towards the logical conclusion of this goal happening. 

If it does happen?  You better buy the fucking game.  I don't care who you are, I don't care what you want.  If you're looking for a pure action game, I can tell you that this won't be it.  But what it will be is a very particular type of game that has grown amazing over a long-running series.  A particular type of amazing game that I will make you buy.  If you buy the game, that will be the end of it.  I will not look for you, I will not pursue you.  But if you don't, I will look for you.  I will find you.  And I will slam your head against your keyboard until Amazon has ordered a copy for you.

(I won't.  Please just buy the game.)

it's a Taken quote, but you know that already because you're a smart person

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Practically required listening for this post

Last week was a rather fun one with all sorts of Valve announcements rocking the internet and driving all sorts of hype through ceilings.  It was, in fact, a week-long event with three announcements scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday to allow for proper amounts of speculation and wonder in between conferences.  Speculation that all revolved around Half-Life 3, of course, due in no small part to the whole three announcements thing, and I'm sure that Valve is acutely aware of that fact.  Those rascals.  As someone who doesn't do the whole PC Gaming thing, all of this was a mere curiosity to me even if I do plan on getting into the scene at some point in the future when I have money to throw into a fairly decent rig (or even a -super- decent one) if only to check out a few odd exclusives here like Recettear and such that have no chance of jumping ship anywhere else.  Still, I can't help but take a look at the announcements and work through them as an outsider, but I'm going to tackle them in a way that...makes a little more sense than the order they picked.

Wednesday's announcement was that The Steam Box is now the Steam Machine and it is real.  Not only that, but they will come in all sorts of shapes and sizes because there are several different hardware manufacturer's that will make their own box, basically, even if they all have the exact same innards to start.  Or...maybe they will.  It's all very vague, if you haven't noticed.  I was originally thinking that there was going to be two different 'builds' or 'tiers' of it - one that acted mostly as a stream-between Box to get your games in Big Picture (and probably optimized a little better) versus a box that just -plays your Steam games-, but it seems like it's more or less going to be an amalgamation of the two.  It's hard to really pin down, however.  The only thing that's confirmed is the former bit about the streaming, but I can't imagine that Valve is going through all this trouble to release a dinky little bridge for people who want to use Big Picture, but can't be assed to...set it up properly through their PC.

How will it do this, you ask?  By using what was announced on Monday - SteamOS.  That's right, a Linux-based Operating System specifically for Steam to help you get all your digital content attached to your Steam account (and things on your normal PC) to your fingertips in one way or another.  Obviously, Steam Machines will run SteamOS natively, but you'll also be able to download it elsewhere if you feel like it; hell, you can probably just make your -own- Steam Machine based off of how open this thing seems to be.  What it's going to do, however, is try its best to optimize the parts for Game performance where a PC generally cannot do that, even a specialized one, because of the overhead from other programs and such.  Being Linux-based, it'll be able to natively run games that support Linux, but as we know that's not -every- game.  Or a good majority of them.  For the games that won't run natively, you can hook it up to your PC and stream the game through your house, but just how much of it all runs on one thing and the other is something that I just can't fathom.  It would be nice if it could just use the Machine's components and Windows' process so that I could actually play the scant few games in my library (assuming they're not Linux-compatible), but that sounds too wonderful to be true.

Finally, there's the question of -how- you will play all of this, which is where Friday's announcement of a Steam Controller comes into play.  This baby (viewable at the top of the page) is built specifically for PC gaming and will be compatible with pretty much every game in the Steam catalog, even (hopefully) games that don't have controller support cooked into them.  Of course, even knowing and seeing the controller, the issue remains of -how- you're going to play it....because the controller looks very, very unwieldy to me.  The trackpads stand out first thing, of course, but there are apparently people who've played with them already and said they work quite well, much to my disbelief.  What bothers me, however, is the placement of the face buttons, because they just seem so...weird.  Even the beta models of the controller have them taking up the touch-screen area as large keys, and that seems just as bad.  Hopefully it plays a little more intuitively than it looks, however.

The long and short of it, however, is that with those three announcements, Valve has more or less officially thrown their hat into the ring.  It's not a complete thing, as their investment is basically just as much at it's been aside from getting hardware makers to make hardware for them and if they have to discontinue them then, well, it's no big loss since a PC basically -is- a Steam Machine already with SteamOS being a thing and the controller being compatible with whatever.  Big Picture mode still exists, so what the Steam Machine/OS seems to be is an attempt to create something cohesive to mold it all together in one package which is a smart move, but you have to wonder if it'll be able to go off as seamlessly as it's arranged to do.  Depending on how many games end up running Linux natively (since I don't plan on hooking one up to this junk heap one way or another) I might just find myself owning one of these things to get my PC gaming fix....which I haven't even really dipped into yet.  But the Zeboyd catalog, Recettear and a few other things are all very tempting and ensure that I'll get into PC stuff, one way or another.

Update!:  So, now we have specs for Steam Machine prototypes.
The 300 prototype units will ship with the following components:
GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
CPU: some boxes with Intel : i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU)
Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high
As we all know, that is a bunch of gibberish to me, but consensus from conversations about it that others have had seems to suggest that this....this is all very bad.  By virtue of being disgustingly good.  Because it will cost a lot of money, you see.  Like a lot.

really though, who -isn't- going to get the clip of the lyric and make their machine boot with that