Friday, August 31, 2012

Metal Gear All The Way Down

So, there was a lot of news that pretty much dropped at the same time that involved all things Metal Gear.  Except REVENGEANCE.  All that got, pretty much, was a handful of screens, maybe a new trailer, but I doubt it.  Which, I say I doubt it because I'm not going to look for it because I am pretty tired at the moment and, thus, lazy.  Regardless, even if there was another trailer, it can't really compete with the other news which is funny because the lid has been slammed on shut to one of the bits of news specifically so it wouldn't out-shadow Rising.  But that's neither here nor there and since I am still excited about REVENGEANCE, I decided to throw up one of the new screens in honor of it instead of throwing down the picture for one of the things announced.  I'm silly like that, I suppose, but also I don't particularly care about the other bits of news right at the moment since they're basically just announcements and only that.  No real meat to sink into or anything of the sort.

The first bit of news up is the announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops, which rounds out the recent social game explosion quite nicely.  I'm not sure if there's anything at this point that separates Social games from Cell Phone games, or if it's just supposed to be a better term to take away from the Cell Phone aspect or what, but there's been a Persona 4 one, a No More Heroes one and certainly a couple more announced lately, and it is a -thing-.  Not a positive thing, nor a negative thing I suppose, depending on your taste with mobile games, but I do find it a little funny that they keep getting made.  If only because it shows a very obvious disparity in how the developers listen to 'fans' and how 'fans' go about deciding things, righting things with their wallets.

Whenever one of these social games get announced, nobody really seems for them, yet they sell, apparently, and thus more get made.  But with the amount of near-universal backlash these things seem to get when they're brought up, it doesn't quite seem like a 'vocal minority' situation here really.  I'm not particularly sure who is buying these, but it's equally hilarious when you have people arguing that handheld consoles (3DS and Vita currently) don't do well or shouldn't be regarded, because they 'only get watered-down console offerings' yet...well, I could move my hands at the images of these social games over and over in a manner to specifically call them out, but you couldn't see that.  Rest assured, I am doing it.  Not...currently, because I'm typing, but, you know what I mean.  Because if I am doing that to these screenshots, it is pretty obvious where I am going with this.

I'm not sure if the intention was thus, but what is pictured is very obviously something that looks an awful lot like an awful-looking Peace Walker.  I can hear you now:  "It actually doesn't look all that bad!", but, well, that's the thing about smaller images, they hide jaggies and blurries and such that you can see if you open the big picture and zoom it.  Depending on how big of a phone you're walkin' around with, well, it could be very noticeable, and that's just in stills, since we know things can go amazingly wonderful or completely pear-shaped in motion, depending on the factors involved.  Regardless, there's not a whole lot of information beyond what's in those two screenshots.  With the AP and such, one might wonder if maybe it takes on a more turn-based thing to reduce strain, or if that's just a thing and it's all wacky, but seeing as I'm not sure if these social games that have been announced stand a chance of coming out this way, I don't really care to expand too much without details.

I made reference to the joke already with this.  Now we don't have to make it.  Okay?

The next bit is probably just as divisive as the Social Game, but at least this is something that we'll definitely be able to get, or at least that's the -plan- of it.  That much is definite because apparently Columbia Pictures is making a Metal Gear Solid movie, like for realsies.  Avi Arad, CEO of Marvel Studios, was on-hand for the announcement, because he's apparently going to be at the helm of it, rather than just attached to it like the tenuous Uncharted, inFamous and such movies that may or may not see the light of day.  I mean, as far as I know, he hasn't officially been attached to any of those properties in theoretical film version, so I'm just saying his filmography might be a little misleading, if you look him up.  Still, it's hard saying that just because this whole thing is a bit more official than other video game to movie adaptations are in conception, that it'll be a real thing that happens, but I'd put money on the side of more possible than not.

Reactions, as I've said, have been divisive though more on the side that we've more or less been trained to err on with past adaptations, which means there's not a whole lot of good faith out there.  For one, it seems like it's just impossible, these days, to put out a video game movie, based on the last one being...what, actually?  One of the Resident Evil movies, apparently, and before that, Prince of Persia:  Sands of Time.  With Tekken, Street Fighter and Max Payne going before those.  Needless to say, it has not been a smooth road, nor even a good one, for Video Game movies, and nobody is really expecting anything to buck that trend anytime soon.  However, and this is where the only real hope comes in, some people think that if anything can do it, Metal Gear Solid can.  And you know what?  I am solidly in this camp, and it's for a few very simple, very obvious reasons.

Obviously, I am a big fan of the Metal Gear series; I've made no attempts to hide it nor should I because it is a fantastic series.  The main complaints levied at it lie pretty much on the story, which makes it seem like doing a movie which is basically a story with pictures and movement and acting and such is kind of a bad idea.  But here is also something that has been made abundantly clear with the past trends in popular movies:  Nobody cares about story.  You can tap-dance around it all you want and try and move goal-posts or call me ignorant, blah, blah, blah, but things that have been popular lately, things like Twilight (which admittedly seems to be waning a bit), are conceptually awful and play out worse than the roots themselves are.  Nobody cares so long as the acting is good, the actors themselves have at least one big name amongst them, and the movie itself looks good.  If you're Transformers, you can drop the first bit and very few people will care regardless, it seems.

While I'm by no means trying to put Metal Gear Solid's story anywhere near the caste of these 'blockbusters', I'm simply saying that things like Plot Holes, retcons and the other things that people lob at Metal Gear Solid's over-arching story like so many bricks at so many windows, none of them will really matter whatsoever when it comes to a movie.  Give people action, give people good acting, and the spy-drama roots of the story itself will carry it well enough that they won't care if something absurd comes out towards the end as the traditional twist.  In fact, that could possibly even add excitement to it for the inevitable sequel (that, let's face it, we know everybody hopes their movie will be that successful to warrant one) for the most part.  So long as there's nothing super glaringly wrong, I'm sure we folks, familiar with the series as we are, will be fine with it as well.  Provided it is a thing that actually happens.  Which, it has a good chance of that, I'd say.

The last bit and arguably the one to say anything about is Metal Gear Solid:  Ground Zeroes, which is apparently going to be an open-world Metal Gear Solid title running on the FOX Engine.  Just go ahead and re-read that, let it sink in a bit while also remembering that the above picture might just be an image from the game.  It is more likely that it is from the game with some touch-ups, but then again this is the FOX Engine which, as we know, does not fuck around with the graphics from what we've been shown.  Still, we haven't seen it in motion on one of our consoles, so I can't blame anybody who might be a little wary of thinking it came from the game, but let's just run with it.  Because it's nice to dream that the above is possible on the systems that we have now.  (Since, as far as I remember, FOX Engine is supposed to be something to bridge not only PS3/Vita/whatever else development, as it's a multi-platform engine, but it's also likely going to bridge this gen and next, but started on this one.)

What we have here is something that is pretty much as obvious as can be:  another Big Boss game.  Unless there's some sort of MGS2-style twist with after-reveal stuff, Big Boss is taking another outing in the video game scene (note the Militaires Sans Frontiers emblem and the eyepatch strings under the goggles) and pretty much everybody is super excited for it.  I'm....optimistic.  My situation is a bit weird on the games, I admit, since my first one was Metal Gear Solid 2.  After which I played the first which was a wholly different game more or less, and then 3 and 4 when they came out, not to mention pretty much all the other iterations.  Except Twin Snakes.  As such, I've never really had -that- experience with Solid Snake himself (MGS4 was Old Snake, I kind of consider them different because I am a pedant), the one that clicks and feels perfect (I basically ruined MGS1 for myself by playing 2 first), and I've really been hoping that I could get that with a new game that comes out.  I can keep waiting, certainly with another Big Boss game to distract me in the meanwhile.

I've mused in the past that I have honestly no idea where another Big Boss game could really fit unless they just did a straight re-creation of Metal Gear 1, but the title "Ground Zeroes" does....bring something to mind.  Without spoiling the ending for Metal Gear Solid 4 since, after the trophy patch, I'd suggest it is a game that has re-upped its "Do not openly spoil" status, lest you look like a gigantic dick, I think there is something in MGS4's ending that is key here.  Something of a catalyst between two of the characters (Big Boss obviously being one) that could create a very obvious, very Major antagonist for the man, as well as giving the game the backdrop for another Peace Walker-esque Base build-up.  Just what that base will be, I have no idea, as I'm a little fuzzy on the timeline myself, and I could be completely wrong as I am often.  But that's what the sub-title brought to mind, so we'll just have to see when the game actually comes out.  I'd say it is probably the only other scenario that really has not been covered in a game yet for Big Boss.

Metal Gear Solid is kind of one of those things that I doubt anyone -really- can get enough of, despite the whinging of "Oh boy, another one?" that you'll get here and there.  Each game really has its own charm about it, and there's not been a one that could honestly be called 'bad', though I'm sure anyone could disagree with me on that for any reason.  Still, for each game that everyone dislikes, I'm sure that they have at least one iteration of the series that they do really enjoy and sometimes that's all you need.  Just that one, perfect, unspoiled game that does what you wanted it to do in a series that might not have done otherwise.  With any luck, Ground Zeroes won't be the last real game that we see come from it all anytime soon since, hey, we're looking at a new gen in a year or so, I'm sure.  It's definitely a series we want to see make the transition, and it just remains to be seen how it'll look after-the-fact.

Update!:  There is a sub-titled trailer now.  Everything is amazing.


Dig it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Helloween4545 Reviews Valkyria Chronicles

Earlier today, thanks to a little twitter conversation with Helloween4545, I was reminded of something that I meant to do up a little post about last week.  You see, Helloween did up a little review of Valkyria Chronicles and since I made a post about the review he made for Nier, it's only fair that I write a little something here about this one as well.  I make no secret of it, but I love Valkyria Chronicles and Nier both dearly, so whenever I can point out something for either of them, I will do just that and happily so.  Funnily enough, during the post I made for the Nier review, I mentioned that he was doing an A-Rank (because I am pretty sure it's A, not S) Run of Valkyria Chronicles and manage to absolutely forget that between then and now.  Presumably because I can be a bit thick at times which we've all seen at various times, but regardless, due props to the man since he actually pulled it off which is certainly something I did not do.  Maybe it will be a goal to strive for next time I play, in the off-chance that I ever, ever find a cache of free time somewhere, but personally, I think I'd just be happy to play the game all over again, no matter what.

I'm going to do my best here to not review the review, but I'm making no guarantees, as I do want to point out some things said in the review.  Nothing really to argue -against-, but maybe just expanding a bit on what's said or voicing how I agree instead of just nodding my head and going "yep, yep, this is also how I feel" like a twit.  I like to add substance to things that are substantial already, as you know, which is honestly not a rare thing either.  A few things of note did pop out that are things what I could comment on, including the burning question of "Why didn't this game sell well?" to which I might have an answer to!  Perhaps several answers!  Because it is a thing that I spent a lot of time thinking about while playing the game, playing the sequel and dealing with the heartbreak in knowing that the sales of both games were not enough to ensure Valkyria Chronicles 3 safe passage to the states.

I would not be surprised whatsoever if the art style, while beautiful, put some people off of the game, since they took a look at it and scoffed.  "Oh, just another anime thing", they likely said and it's an infuriating thought, certainly, but one I probably couldn't put past a lot of people.  If not the art, then probably the story on that front since, regardless of how good it was, and it really was, some people just don't pay attention, they grab on to pieces here and there and use those pieces to just toss the whole thing aside.  I honestly cannot see anyone really disliking the game for the actual gameplay of it unless they just don't really grasp it and don't make an effort to do so, because the itch it scratches is a broad one, and it scratches that itch in the best, best way.  Though maybe, just maybe, the system they had to play it on might've been a breaker as well since it came out when there was still (hell, there -is- still) massive distaste for the PS3, which means being exclusive to that meant losing a lot of sales from people who could not or chose not to buy it for that reason.

I was honestly a little surprised by the comment that the soundtrack was beautiful, but forgettable because I remember the soundtrack being, well, really nice to listen to, certainly.  I also realized that I could not recall a single song outside of maybe a few beats here and there.  It was a pretty strange revelation and I even took a dip into some of the OST tracks on youtube to sort of reconfirm or at least refamiliarize myself with them.  Even still, I could hear the tracks, I could feel 'familiar' with them and such, but I could not remember how they went, nor after I listened to them, could I keep the tune without a bit of difficulty at least.  It's still got me a little surprised and I feel like there are one or two tracks that I am overlooking that are ingrained in my memory for good reason, but whatever they are, I simply cannot recall them right now, even though I really want to, clearly.  So I can't help but agree completely on that front since there is absolutely no way I can refute it, despite feeling like I should be able to.

Really, the review is something that I do encourage you to listen to because it pretty much reaffirms what a lot of us feel about the game already.  Not that we exactly need the constant reassurance that the game that we liked, that I liked, was liked by others, but it's nice.  Especially since there apparently aren't -that- many of us who bought and loved the game, despite it seeming otherwise sometimes.  It's hard saying just what's going to come from Valkyria Chronicles as a series in the near future and if we'll even get to enjoy whatever that is, thanks to the sad truth about VC 3.  Currently, the 'thing' about the series is Duel which will burn bright and fast before it's passed over for the next bright candle, and after that any number of things could happen.  An attempt to revitalize the series with a bundle deal that might actually hit the West, a new installment for any given system across the board, hell, maybe just a steady mange/anime thing that will be missed out on by most of the fans regardless.  We just don't know.  And it's a real shame because VC1 really was as brilliant, as wonderful as people like Helloween, like Chance or even myself would have you believe, but the series has simply found itself caught in hands that aren't as steady as it requires.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sega Makes Me Want Samurai & Dragons, Are Teases

 Samurai & Dragons, the free-to-play Vita game that we are likely never ever ever going to get in America, is going to get quite a bit of support in the coming months, and it's all being done with very, very familiar faces.  Being that it was announced in the end of January and has released in Japan without so much of a whisper of localization and, considering Sega's status of being mostly dead on that front, it's safe to assume that I will, in fact, never get to play this game, despite being excited back then at the prospect of it.  And really, much like the rest of Sega's practices, this just makes it sting all the more since it is a genuinely awesome move.  One that, because I don't, nor won't, have the game, I have no idea of its implementation, so bear with me on it while I try to muddle my way through it.

Starting today, through September, the pack of cards initiative begins with players who simply log in to the game.  They'll gain a pack of Tokyo Jungle cards which include the Pomeranian, the dog that's become the unofficial mascot for the game because of how often it was used in trailers and the like.  Players can also get a pack of cards based on Toro if they own a 3G Vita and update their plan with the chosen 3G supplier over there.  Toro, of course, being Japan's unofficial Sony Mascot character, who you might recognize better as an announced character for the up-coming Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.  As far as 'free' cards goes, that seems to be the whole of it, but that's not even close to the whole of the cards that will be offered.  What all these sets will do is sort of up in the air, of course, as is just what the cards will be, really.  Of course, knowing me, I see "cards" and stop caring about anything that makes sense, and just start impulsively throwing money at things.

I should interrupt for a moment here and explain myself a little better.  I have, in fact, absolutely no idea what cards do in Samurai & Dragons.  Were I pushed to guess, I assume that the cards are the things that have all the actions on them that you can use in the city-building mode of the game.  So, buildings to make, improvements to enact, things of that sort, I assume that's all relegated to cards and, perhaps there's just a random element to it in the form of drawing from a deck, though I'm not sure of that at all.  One could then assume that these cards, specifically made with these characters in mind, are probably going to be universally more beneficial than those in the game already since they are 'premium' items.  Or, if nothing else, they certainly (probably) aren't going to be negative in nature, so there's that.  Could I be wrong in this?  Absolutely.  Should I checked into it some before posting about it?  Most times, I would say yes, but this is a game that A) we're never getting, and B) a game that, if we were to get, -somehow-, I would want to be a little fresh on.

With that out of the way, I can begin talking about the card support that's been announced to start November 29th.  For starters, a 'deluxe pack' will be released with cards from such Sonic, of course, Bayonetta, Yakuza, and Virtua Fighter.  (Suggested characters in the set are Sonic, Bayonetta, Kazuma and Akira Yuki)  That pack will also contain some in-game money, presumably so you can buy other cards that are less premium or hold out for the sets from the list of other announced supporting, listed below:

  • Vanquish
  • Anarchy Reigns 
  • Resonance of Fate 
  • Nightshade 
  • Sakatsuku 
  • Sakura Taisen 
  • Jet Set Radio 
  • Super Monkey Ball 
  • Space Channel 5 
  • NiGHTS 
  • Panzer Dragoon 
  • Virtua Fighter 
  • Sonic 
  • Yakuza 
  • Bayonetta 
  • Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity 
  • Shenmue

That is....well, that is pretty much everything, as you might notice.  Pretty much the only thing not listed that's immediately thought of is Valkyria Chronicles, which is strange since Samurai & Dragons is likely going to stay in Japan forever like everything else Valkyria Chronicles.  Actually, double-weird since Valkyria Duel is out over there which is, surprise, a card-based game as well and you'd think there could be some sort of cross-promotion there.  Maybe there will be, but it's not announced just yet, I suppose.  Also surprising to see not listed is Shinobi, I suppose, considering Nightshade is the direct sequel of it or something of that sort, but maybe that's sort of an implied thing.  I know a card dedicated to Hotsuma's scarf would be the buff to end all buffs because that scarf was boss as hell.  Still, support for Resonance of Fate, Jet Set Radio and Vanquish all seem like very very good signs for the franchises there, seeing as they're likely not the hottest IPs Sega has.  Even if they should be hotter than they are because Sega is bad at doing good things.

Of course, it doesn't end there because why would it?  That would be insanity if it left there.  Also mentioned in the Siliconera article that I linked to is the fact that there are characters designed by the Hatsune Miku illustrator that are Sega Consoles brought to some sort of life.  It specifically mentions 'characters', so I assume these aren't merely going to be cards, but perhaps playable characters?  Or just outfits that will make you look like them, I'm not quite sure.  There is basically a character for every Sega console released, including the friggin' Game Gear, so that's pretty cool on its own merits.  It seems a little bit much -just- for cards, which is why I'm suggesting it's more, but I don't really know.  When they all release in Japan and never in North America, I guess we'll see, but I can't guarantee I'll remember it by then.  What with the whole not releasing over here thing and all.

So, did I really just spend all that time detailing a big, expansive update schedule for a game that will almost positively never see the light of day in North America?  Yes.  Yes I did.  Because it's Sega, it's Vita, and it's overall just something that I think is my kind of game, even if it's not.  I'm trying to keep myself under-exposed to the game because I hold out hope that I'll be able to play its likely only-decent offerings.  The Free-to-Play structure is profitable as hell in the right conditions, and I'm sure Sega knows this, so there is a very, very faint hope that they'll release this in more territories to try and get a cashflow from them, being that there are people out there who will buy luxury things for the game when offered.  Some people who might be me if it comes to things like Yakuza-related things and the like.  Some people who honestly, truly wish for this game to hit the West now just so they can buy Yakuza cards even if they are just a thing for a single game and not an actual TCG.  Please, Sega?

Bonus Post - Things To Do If You Can't Play a PS1 Game on Your Vita

So, it seems like you are one of the folks that have a Playstation Vita, apparently solely for the purpose of playing PSOne Games and the 1.80 Update has infuriated you because how dare they sell you something that won't play something that you bought in the past, but only in digital form, of course, since it would just be silly to buy a physical game and expect to own it on all formats forever and ever, right?  Well, since everyone is incapable of thinking of anything to do beyond playing PSOne games currently, I have taken the liberty of compiling a nice, handy little list of things you can do, perchance while you await your chosen game to become compatible through means that are befitting your tastes.  So, by all means, take advantage of this, because clearly this is a big deal.
  • You could always take to Internet forums and complain about it incessantly!  The fun part of this choice is that you get to feel good about yourself afterwards, of course.  Make sure to point out how you hate feeling like a Second-Class citizen, because that's not disingenuous at all when you're talking about Video Games of all things.  And don't forget to constantly insist that Sony has absolutely no idea how to do anything while you're scrolling through the pages of your Vita, possibly looking through pictures that you can set as your wallpaper, listening to songs and looking for other sites to complain to through the use of the browser.  All at the same time.
  • If you're looking to be entertained regardless, you could always bring up the Youtube app to watch some lovely videos.  Some recommendations would be Kaseius, Helloween4545 and Klyka1 for a rather full range of hilarity of different origins and different game coverage.  While I may not be fully happy with the Youtube app, it serves well enough, which I can attest to from being glued to it near constantly.  Of course, since you are so mad at Sony, don't forget to point out that it's just stupid that you can't play youtube videos in the browser, and if there's any videos that you just can't watch, well, that's their fault too, nobody else's.  I mean, it's not like they designed around Flash Mobile and then Adobe pulled out of supporting that just months prior to the Vita coming out or anything.  No, nothing sensible like that.  Just allllllll Sony.  Their bad.  Totally.
  • Make some sandwiches.  Why?  Because sandwiches are delicious.  Also, apparently a lovely way to pass the time.
  • Play something else.  Sleeping Dogs, for instance, is fantastic, and I'm told Darksiders 2 is pretty great as well.  Maybe even play your PSOne game of choice on your PS3 or PSP if you have one.  Yes, this is assuming you have another console of some sort, but how many people out there only have a Vita?  I'd suggest not many.  Many others will as well.  Of course, they will be a lot snarkier about that fact than I.
  • Take up a hobby.  Might I suggest writing a Blog?
  • Play something else from the past on your Vita.  Sure, PSOne games of your choosing might not work, but there's a very respectable PSP Library out there.  If you need some suggestions, perchance to take a look at this picture for what I have currently downloaded.
  • Alternatively, and I understand this is a wild suggestion, but I'm just throwing this out there:  Play Vita games -on- your Vita!  There are games for it.  This may surprise some of you out there, but I have photo proof of this above.  Were I richer man, there would be more bubbles, but I am not and thus must wait to grab some other games I want.  Games that exist.  Are tangible things.  Right now.
This will be a tough time for you, I'm sure, but I hope that my handy list has offered you a few things to do while you wait for the thing that you bought to be able to do more things than it could when you bought it, but you are still somehow entitled to.  Because there's absolutely nothing amazing on a basic level of buying something that will eventually do much more than you probably anticipated it would be able to do based on how it was when you bought it.  Absolutely not.  Take heart and be strong, however, because your time of waiting will probably be short.  Of course, if it isn't, well, that's what the list is for, anyways!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Vita's PSOne Support Inbound....Kinda

So, in most parts of the world, the 1.80 update, which is talked about in the above video is either live (personally, mine is downloading as I type this) or on its way, assuredly.  As I brought up back on the 14th, the star of the 1.80 show is the PSOne Support and, as suspected, it seems that it's going to be a gradual process of opening up, rather than a whole lot of stuff magically working right off.  At least...that's how it seems to be for North America and not so much for PAL territories which is certainly.....certainly a thing, I suppose.  No one seems to know why there is such a giant disparity, but there's probably a few things to be addressed before going into that further.  This one's a real head-scratcher as always, and pretty much all I have to go on is what I've read so far, less I want to put this post out a half-hour from now when my update finishes and I get to test it myself.  That, I suspect, will just be an update after I get a firm grasp on it all.

So, something to address right off is that, for as great as the PAL list is, I don't see Xenogears on it (nor do I know if it's either on their store) so nyeh, take that.  (I'm so sorry, Xenogears was pretty much the only thing I wanted to DL right up-front, but I guess I'll fall back on FFVII)  In all seriousness, however, the lists do appear to be deceiving, not only for us, but for the PAL-land as well, presumably because the update has come up before the announced dates of the 28th and the 29th.  For instance, I've heard some statements claiming that some games aren't on the list, yet downloadable, versus some are on the list, but cannot be gotten by the conventional method of getting it right on your Vita.  I say this because, as with the PSP library (and it persists now, really) some titles can be gotten on your Vita if you have a PS3 to go along with it and serve as a content gathering machine.

The process is as simple as getting on your PS3, downloading the PSOne game of your choosing, NOT INSTALLING IT, and instead transferring that bubble that you install the game with to your Vita, presumably through the content manager.  This is not fool-proof, of course, as the game has to be a game that can be played on the PSOne emulator that the Vita is being out-fitted with.  For reasons unknown to everyone, certain games (this is true with PSP as well) simply are kept back, presumably to be tweaked more for best performance with the emulator, but are still in a very playable state if you can get them.  This list proves to be a lot larger than the 9 titles we have, I'm told and is probably on par or thereabouts with the PAL list.  If you're willing to put in that amount of effort, of course which, you might guess, I am not.  Call me silly or what have you, but I'm more than happy to wait for the titles to be 'officially' touted before I get in there and get attached once more.  I assume they will do this as they've done with the PSP games in recent weeks; thrown them in the new releases section even though they are hardly new at all, simply because they are probably new to play for plenty of people.

It's not ideal, of course, and I'm positive there will be so much whinging and "Oh lord, Sony is incompetent" and blah blah blah, rabble rabble, but it's all just hilarious to me, as there is honestly pretty much a triple-standard at play here and nobody seems to realize it, nor care.  For some, it's simply 'too much' that this wasn't here at launch and they will not let up beyond that.  Others, they harp on that it took so long, but understand it wasn't a thing that could be done.  Then the last caste gripe that it took too long -and- there are only these titles officially supported at the front-end of it.  So no matter what, they're annoyed that it took 'this long', so if it worked perfectly, they'd still bitch, meanwhile, there are people who bitch for the sake of it and etc. etc.  There's just no substance to it, and if anything, push me to be more passive to it all than anything.  Snarky people say "Heh, it's such a big thing for the Vita to play ten-year old games" and then complain that they cannot play their favorite ten-year old game on it right away and I'm just not sure where these people find the time to complain, really.  Between Gravity Rush, Treasures of Montezuma Blitz and a plethora of PSP games (not to mention the Youtube App), I've discovered that I don't have enough hours in a day for -anything-, much less whinging about things for no reason.

Do I get it on some level?  Of course.  I want to play Xenogears, and I wanted to play it like two months ago, but my real recourse is to just fish out my disks and play them on one of my consoles that will allow such a thing, or purchase it digitally for my PS3 (which if I'm playing anything on, it's Sleeping Dogs or Lollipop Chainsaw).  Or buy a new PSP since my good ol' 1000 is borked nine ways from Sunday.  I have all these options at my disposal, but since I prefer the one where I get to play Xenogears on that lovely screen of my Vita, I can wait.  Patiently.  I'm not really sure what part of this is a difficult concept, especially since holding back the update until all the titles are compatible means it probably wouldn't come out for months.  Regardless, it's not like I don't have a wealth of things to do on my Vita, so the fact that I won't be able to play Xenogears on it tonight, tomorrow or the next day isn't really a factor for me.  It'll get resolved enough soon enough for the rest of the folks, I'm sure, so once again it's simply a big to-do for the sake of it.

Update!:  Well, I can download Final Fantasy VII and probably will.  Honestly, that's fine enough for me for now.  The whole thing is pretty well-documented by now, but it's not really that big a deal unless you're a giant baby working for Joystiq in charge of most of the Mobile Gaming posts and clearly have a hate boner for all things not on a cell phone. Not that I'm bitterly pointing fingers at anyone who's being a jerk about the situation just because he can be for some page hits from the lowest common denominator that will just agree with him despite the intricacies involved.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Squeenix Hates You - TWEWY News is iOS Port

I don't think there's really any doubt that this -is- going to be a TWEWY project and with what's being thrown down here, I would highly doubt that it's something as banal as like an iOS port of the game, but I wouldn't quite put that past Squeenix.
                                                                                           -Mogs (August 19th, 2012)
I am wrong a lot.  We have established this several times over and we will continue to do so because I clearly exist on a different plane of existence when it comes to anything resembling sense or sanity.  I pride myself, however, on at least trying to own up to instances where I am completely wrong, as this case was.  I mean, yes, I suggested it was a possibility, and it was always a thought in the back of my head, but it was more one of those "Man, wouldn't it be hilarious if they were dumb enough to make a fuss about an iOS port?" thoughts that you get.  I don't think I really, honestly thought it would turn out this way, but in a way, I'm pretty happy it did.  Blasphemy, I know, but it's not for any reason as you would suspect.  I don't derive a bit of pleasure from seeing people excited and then let down for a game that I don't particularly care about, nor do I derive pleasure from seeing Squeenix squander potential like this, as they've done on several occasions before.

The reason I am okay with this bit is that the iOS version here (Well, versions, plural, since there's separate ones for iPhone and iPad) is clearly designed with only one screen in mind, rather than the DS' two.  Now, it's always nice to have a game specifically catering to the features of the system it's on, so as to clearly identify itself as a game -for- said system, TWEWY's handling is....not ideal.  Having combat on both the top and bottom screens, combat that seems to rely on both screens, requiring you to completely split your focus in a big way seems to really just obfuscate people, like me, who are interested in the game based on the high praise it carries.  And it just serves to make you wonder -how- it got the praise, since it seems the type of thing that one simply does not end up understanding.  Clearly, it is an understood concept to people and when and if I play TWEWY again, perhaps it will sink in, but I doubt it.

The strength of a single screen, however, in my mind at least is the obvious at first:  accessibility.  I don't see how that could be over-complicated any -more- than the two screen design and while it's not directly in-line with the original game, such is the price we pay I guess.  What really matters is just that, however - is it easier to play and enjoy on a single screen?  Because if so, then there might be good money in putting it elsewhere without stopping at iOS.  I'm not sure quite how accessible the game would be with a full-fledged controller in your hands, since the iPad/Phone release retains the touch-screen at least, so a PSN/XBLA version might not be in the cards, but if it were, I doubt very many people would balk at a $20 price-tag.  For me, I wouldn't balk at that price for a Vita version, with the best of both worlds, but that goes without saying and Squeenix aren't going to bother, I'm sure.  Since why would they; it's far easier to just doctor up a version and throw it at a giant pool of people who have, likely, zero interest, than doing up a version and offering it to people who are probably more inclined to purchase it.

Of course, a lot of people just aren't happy that the 'big' TWEWY news is a port of the game they have likely already played on a platform they may or may not have, but probably don't have a good reason to purchase on.  Most people are just never happy when it comes to video game news, but I daresay that these people might just have a point in this one for reasons that I might have stated in the previous sentence.  This move isn't really -for- the faithful, isn't really something that does anything for anybody except potentially draw in new fans for a fanbase that has sat by for four years, waiting with bated breath for something, anything new related to this.  I imagine the inclusion of Neku (TWEWY's protagonist) in Kingdom Hearts 3D wasn't really impressing anyone, so this is still a bit of a far cry from giving them -anything-.  And so, of course, the way it's been handled has been just as haphazard as everything else related to this whole project as a whole.

After a leak that spelled out directly that the site was for an iOS version to release in 2012, Brian Grey who was the lead translator on TWEWY, went on to say something basically to the effect of "There's more".  Specifically, he said: "Before everyone decides the countdown is over, they might want to wait for the countdown to be over. " which, understandably, gave everyone a lot of hope.  False hope, of course, as that was basically everything.  I suppose the soundtrack for the game might go on sale in the iTunes Store as well, but that's really not 'big' enough to sustain itself next to the iOS port job.  Seeing it all painted out in a line now isn't nearly as offensive as hearing about the leak, hearing the reassuring news the same day and then waiting a few days to learn that no, no the iOS thing is basically it.  Certainly not a 'drip' of the leak unless a dam only drips when it's allowing buckets of water to pass through its walls.  Perhaps something else will get announced in short order, or perhaps the other 'big' part of it was simply the fact that as soon as you were likely to hear about it (unless you stay up at all hours of the night like.....well, most of us), you were able to buy it, effectively announcing its launch than it's release date.

This is pretty much all in a day's work for Squeenix, however, so no real surprise in here to be found I think.  I don't mean to belittle them based on a series of hilarious misunderstandings that they clearly hold when it comes to their fanbase and the delusions and hopes they hold, but, well, I don't necessarily -have- to, since they do a nice job of that themselves.  Which is kind of the point I was making here.  As I said, this might be a good thing in the long run if it proves to be a gateway project; a means to get something new and/or original with the IP out on other platforms, just to have it out there, but it's just not there.  There's absolutely no reason anyone has to believe that this is anything more than throwing something else at the iOS market and hoping they buy in droves because it's easy money, what with it being $18-$20, depending on what you buy it on  (which seems arbitrary to me - just two dollars extra for the iPad?  I'm not sure how the costs factor into that at all).  Of course, maybe that's just a bit of conjecture drawn from a similar move to surface just recently.  Who am I to say, really?  In all senses of the word, when it comes to this stuff, I'm merely an observer, but it is a teensy-bit funny, the timing between these two things.

I Bought Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley Today

I still don't know why.  I mean, I know why - it's because it's $7.50 in the Playstation Store for Plus Members instead of $30 and goddamned if I don't like a value.  Of course, Harvest Moon:  Hero of Leaf Valley's value was, before I purchased it, highly suspect, as it seemed to be a port of Save The Homeland, which I didn't care for at all, what with the year time limit the game has in place.  While I'm not sure if it's a hard time limit or not, I'll likely never find out as I'm not planning on playing Save The Homeland again anytime soon, and Hero of Leaf Valley is much more loose with it than previously indicated, I suspect.  This is for many reasons, but the important bit is that, when presented with the same scenario with slightly different end-goals the game did something that I suspected it was not capable of doing, being what it is:  It drew me in and made me want to play it.

I am not absolutely certain, but it seems that the time limit in this game, as opposed to Save the Homeland is two years, rather than one, which is certainly a lot easier to swallow when informed of that upfront.  I'm not sure if that's going to be correct, or if there's some sort of subtext that I missed, but the CEO of the place that is coming in to bulldoze the entirety of Leaf Valley told me that I was to have 50,000 G before two years had passed, so I'm just -saying-.  Or, rather, she said "I guess if you have that much money before we come to tear this dump down in two years, I'll sell you the deed" or something that amounted to it but semantics.  So right off the bat, you have twice the time that you have in Save the Homeland, or at least the game presents as much to you.  There is still an end-point and that's still a thing I'm not comfortable with, but I handled it with the Rune Factory games, so I believe I can handle it here.

Beyond that, after checking a few things that point out the differences between Save the Homeland and Hero of Leaf Valley, one of the big differences is that you can get married in Hero of Leaf Valley which is such a goddamn Harvest Moon standard that any game that doesn't include it is pretty permanently on my 'nope' list for this fact.  It's only a big deal because it's a goal to strive for, a meta-goal even, in a game that is built on its own meta-goals because, in most cases, it doesn't have a 'goal' itself, which is the inherent strength of the Harvest Moon series.  Learning (perhaps re-learning) that Save the Homeland doesn't include the feature while Hero of Leaf Valley does, it only served to push the former further down my list (Below Innocent Life, even because let's face it, Innocent Life at least has a goddamn dune buggy) and the latter higher up in prospective places.  Since I barely played it at that point, you see.  In all reality, I've -still- barely played it, as I'm only on Spring 8th in my save file, but I'm sure you see the distinction.

Beyond the fact that it was $7.50, I think the other reason that I bought the game is that I always, always crave having another Harvest Moon game, and one that is at least somewhat 'new' as Hero of Leaf Valley is.  Despite a quick play of Save The Homeland years ago, the place is basically a clean slate as the inhabitants of Leaf Valley are not featured in any other Harvest Moon game to my knowledge.  At least, no other game that I've played.  There is a such thing as being over-familiar with characters, you see, so any game in the Harvest Moon line that offers me an opportunity to romance women who are not Ann, Popuri and the other caste from Mineral Town is a game that I will happily attempt, if nothing else.  Even though I believe Friends of Mineral Town to be one of the better Harvest Moon games out there.  If they could just take about 90% of that game and just fill it with new characters, that would probably be the next best thing, really.

Seeing as I expect my days to be filled with Sleeping Dogs when available, having Hero of Leaf Valley serves as quite a fine counter-point.  An indulgence after another indulgence if you will.  I get to enjoy the violence, the visceral nature of Sleeping Dogs and then step into something that is wholly counter to that, yet entertaining on its own merits.  While jarring, it's a nice jarring, something that I don't think a lot of people get to experience or, if they do, enjoy, which is a little bit of a shame really.  Both are equally valuable, however, which is what I want to embed, so people who don't enjoy a good slow down with Harvest Moon or similar games are missing out I say, but not in a way that is detracting from what they're enjoying regardless.  Which sounds a little muddled now that I wrote it out, but whatever, it's late and took me like three hours to type this up because I am tired.  Off to bed, folks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Some Fairly Early Sleeping Dogs Impressions

People who follow my Twitter or at least give a little looksee to the Twitter widget on the side know that I had quite an adventure today in actually getting to the point where I can play Sleeping Dogs, which I haven't played prior to today, despite buying it on release day.  And by quite an adventure, I mean I popped the game in when it was an appropriate temperature in my room, what with still being in a goddamned heat wave, and expected to play the game.  I was incorrect in thinking this, as a 348 MB patch awaited me.  In the near two hour download of that (And people wonder why I insist on saying I hate the thought of a digital future) I busied myself with Twitter and catching up on some Treasures of Montezuma Blitz which I have sorely overlooked in favor of simply binging incessantly on Youtube videos since, despite my misgivings, the App appears to offer -most- of the videos I want to watch, it's just an issue of getting to all of them without the aid of descriptions or playlists or anything of the sort that is there to assist you in this process on PC.

Anyways, the point in pointing all of this out is that by the time I actually got to the point where I can play the game two hours later with the update and game installed when it was much hotter in my room than previously, forcing me to throw caution to the wind, I was not a happy fellow.  I was grumpy, indeed, and I had a very real fear of Sleeping Dogs not being able to remove this from me, so that I may enjoy the game.  I thought it would be the ultimate annoyance; here was this game that I had yearned for, pined for, been so excited for for as long as I have, and everything would conspire against me to ensure that my experience with the game would be an ultimately negative one.  Really, I just thought that, after everything, after how grumpy, annoyed and such I was by the point I made it to the point where I could play Sleeping Dogs, I wouldn't enjoy it.

I was very, very wrong, thankfully.

Sleeping Dogs' intro is not the greatest intro, but I say that because I had to wonder if this was possibly the greatest.  It is a very good intro, certainly, which is why I went to that extreme first, but I am confident that it's not the greatest simply because the intro does not wholly involve the greatest part of the game itself which is, clearly, the combat.  It is there after a chase scene and after laying the ground works for this genuinely being a crime drama story, but I consider that like the first chapter or so if this were a book, not the prologue.  It is highly enjoyable nonetheless and as it opens up more and more, the game leaves you more and more to be happy about, even though you understand completely that you're being fed things at a deliberate pace, at least, the instructions for tools that you already have and can use regardless of your story progress.  Your basic tools for melee, the attacking and countering, are given to you exactly when you need them, and to be honest, that's all you really -need- for the most part, though I look forward to seeing the intricacies the game ends up delving into.

Something that I learned before I was told was that every car, and it has to be a car as the motorcycles lack the pure bulk to do so, has the ability to ram other cars with a push of the square button and a direction, provided you're going at a distant speed and have not, in fact, -just- rammed someone already.  Without that knowledge, pushing square was simply an exercise in confusion as, suddenly, my vehicle went this way for reasons unbeknownst to me, for values that I didn't comprehend.  I tried to use it as a navigation assistant, a quick-shift to move -away- from obstacles and other cars with limited success - it seems I will simply have to get better at drifting, as the game enjoys putting you behind the wheel of a car, and I shudder to think of car chases where I cannot figure out how to move properly in them.  As a method to move -into- cars, with destructive intent, the ramming action works just as intended and is quite enjoyable for that; allowing you to make rather short work of anything that just so happens to be in your vicinity.

Another thing that I stumbled on just prior to being informed of, is the fact that some cars allow you to pull a tire iron from their trunk for whatever mayhem you could think of doing with a tire iron.  It proved quite useful in my adventures as you might imagine, but the funny part is how I was told about this little tidbit.  You see, the game has side missions in the form of 'Favors' that you do for seemingly random people (though the tasks themselves are not randomized, I'm sure) and one such man asked me to help him get back at a rather rude racer.  He tells me that in a race his opponent knocked him off track at the last moment simply to win, and he was not standing for that, so if I was gracious enough he told me that he would enjoy hearing that the man's car was found a little roughed up.  I rushed to the nearest parked car, grabbed a tire iron from the trunk and hopped in, driving to the designated spot where the game prompted me to get out, ready to take the business to this rather bright yellow vehicle.  The game then tasked me with retrieving the tire iron from the trunk of said race car.

The awkwardness of the scenario was palpable as I considered the turn of events, possibly more than the game itself had done.  Here I stood with the very instrument the game desired I acquire, albeit from a different vehicle, yet it seemed to insist that the one in the trunk of the target car was the one I wanted, perhaps a better one.  Or perhaps it was simply a matter of it being the tire iron that had been in the car itself.  Or, even more possible, I was simply making a deal out of something that didn't matter because the scenario was funny in my head.  Dutifully, I dropped the tire iron I had and moved to retrieve the other, this better one, so that I could begin my work.  And it was good.  Part-way through the owner of the car came by and we had a little fun.  Or rather, I had fun, as I doubt he was too pleased with getting his face slammed into the hood of his own vehicle.  Repeatedly.

I ended my journey in Sleeping Dogs today simply running around and enjoying the aspects of the open world as you are wont to do in open world games.  I partook in a little reckless driving, explored environmental attacks by breaking random women over the backs of benches in a rather grisly fashion, and tried, unsuccessfully, to acquire a handgun from the local police and retain it, simply to have a piece to walk around with.  As my time holding a firearm was short, I didn't explore the shooting mechanics, but in a sense I find that liberating.  I'm missions, plural, into the game and not once has it tasked me with firing a gun, even though the mechanic is there.  There had not even been a scenario where I could in all good faith -have- a gun, which is equally tantalizing.  All I really wanted from Sleeping Dogs was an Open World game that focused on melee, on having -good- melee, and I should say that it has done well enough on that front.  Delicious.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Escape The Factory" is My First Sound Shapes Level

We're going to do something a little different tonight thanks to me finally, finally finishing a project that I claim I will actually finish.  Funny thing, that.  The level that I have been working on in Sound Shapes, "Escape The Factory" is a thing that is done and published and you can queue it up to play with this link the next time you open Sound Shapes, sign into the community (It -works- now!) and bring up your favorites, since that is where things get queued apparently.  Perhaps a subtle hint, hm?  Anyways, if you have a copy of the game, go ahead and do that if you will to at least listen to what I've put together since that's the one thing I'm a bit incapable of offering with my blogpost here about the level.  As promised, and this is sort of what I was getting at in saying music is the only thing I can't give, I'll go ahead and show off all the screens of the level here so you can at least take a look at the style and see if you dig it.  As is probably obvious because of that, this will be a picture-heavy post, so I do apologize if that causes problems.

The first screen of the level, as seen above sets you in what I have styled as a factory which I assure you looks a little more like a factory (or at least a warehouse, perhaps I should've called it that...) in the later screens.  Our little crab buddy offers a little maraca sound to give us a baseline for this screen where the first establishing notes are laid.  They are, as most of the notes in the whole level, fairly easy to get to, as I didn't want to throw -too- much challenge in, because I preferred to have a nice little level to look at, which seems to follow the mood of the actual game itself really well, if I do say so myself.  Which isn't a knock, of course, simply a statement and a preparation for you in that you won't find the challenge you might be looking for with Sound Shapes here.  So, after grabbing the notes, it's a simple enough matter of just...going right to the next screen.

I was trying to go for a sort of derelict look here, what with the shelves almost all knocked over and product laying here and there everywhere, not to mention the faulty wiring in some of the lights that offers quite a bit of danger.  This probably offers the first of two really really not tricky but tricky jumps with the top, right-most note, which requires you to dash and jump pretty near the edge to actually get it.  Again, no real issues and you probably won't even get hit by the electricity jumping for it, but it at least poses the possibility for danger.  For flavor, I have the two coffee-sipping dudes who are obviously people who work in the Factory without hard hats or appropriate attire or anything because nobody -cares- about OSHA, alright?  Anyways, to the right is the next screen, again.  This is a theme, you see.

Once again, we carry over the run-down look with more shelves and product in disarray (I'm not sure what the boxes are actually supposed to be, but short of including sprites for cardboard boxes, I couldn't ask for better) and bring in one of the more notable pieces from "Cities" as well as a dude with a laser because who cares.  I just liked the sounds they offered and there has to be a little bit of separation in justified aesthetic and musical focus.  They offer what I want with the latter, so that's all that matters.  I didn't see fit to add any notes here as the ambient sound of the laser and the Beck vocals did most of what I could hope to add in for this phase of the level.  They're only here for this screen of course (well, in a way), but it makes a difference, I think.

And here is the exit to the factory itself.  I found that I had used the shelves for all my obstacles starting with the second screen and I wanted to bring back the aesthetic of the first screen, if only so that it didn't seem completely out of place.  I'm not really sure what those boxes are supposed to be, to be honest, but they are mechanical whatsits or what have you, and this is a factory, so just go with it.  As you might have noticed on the first screen, or at least do now, I used an outline of sticky material over non-sticky material so that it wasn't that abysmal grey with the red, but also served as something you can traverse.  Also added to keep with the mechanical theme are the two arms that, presumably pick up and sort the various product that seems to be, thanks to the background designs I was able to slap down, all mish-mashed and just fitting the theme of the whole factory itself.  You use these to get up the pipe on the far right, above the second and last piece of music terrain from Cities and above the janitor who has quite a job to do.  The 'flow' machine allows you to get right up to the left-most arm or you can skip it and just roll up the box.  Obviously, you just get to the pipe to get outside.

If there's anything I want to impress upon you from my experience with the editor and with making a level, it's that, if you care about the aesthetic at all, you have to consider the scale of it when you're doing it up.  As you can see, I've got the outside of the factory here and have it basically sheer, with the trashed product and shelves serving as a junkheap to stand upon.  Basically, I picture the Factory itself on the edge of a cliff so that they can dump all the excess right off into the screen below which I will get to in a moment.  And, as you can see in the background, the trash has piled up regardless of what's below, which I think is the primary reason for -why- you wanted to get out of it.  It's all a bit esoteric, I realize, and I'm not trying to sound a snob or anything, but with these types of games where you're only really allowed the minimum of expression, things are left open to interpretation, so I'm giving mine.  Being that I made the level, I think it matters a bit.

This is where the trash sort of ends up when properly dumped - a place to be slagged.  This is where the above clouds come from (which you can traverse) and, despite there being two clouds here, you aren't really going to get anywhere from here.  In fact, if you're on the cliff where my Blobby Guy is, you might just have to throw yourself to the molten metal below to get back up where you're supposed to go.  The proper developers did this type of thing too, so I don't want to hear complaining now.  Still, as I said, this is not where you want to go and instead want to jump off the cloud from the screen before this to the one on the right.

With any luck, jumping off the cloud will land you on the left-most cloud here.  They conspicuously make a path that leads up and to the right and you just jumped a screen to get here, so, that's pretty much the case here as well.  You might notice that in the background, the rubbish has subsided a little, and that's because it's the edge of the hill of crap, so it's tapering down from there.  Replacing it as the pretty background is the clouds and wisps with some sparkly stars at the top because it's nice.  Really sort of sells the whole "You're free of the factory" aspect, which is what I was going for.  Of course, it's pretty easy to land on that cloud that you're supposed to land on, so before checking out the screen to the right, let's take a look below.  Obviously if there's clouds here, there must be more slag, right?

Right.  Once more, there are clouds here and once more you're kind of delaying the inevitable by relaxing on them as I'm doing here.  The slag goes off somewhere underground which may or may not be a -thing-, but much like the other portion of it, you have it bubbling a bit and steaming, but not a whole lot else.  The hill of rubbish does still taper off here, which isn't entirely noticeable, but is enough, I think.  So, dead end, let's go back up and to the right for the penultimate screen of the level.

Proper jumping will land you here on this patch of rather dry looking grass (thanks to the colors, but I liked the sky, so I went with it) along with the only real signs of nature you've seen in the level in the form of some ambient sound creating flowers.  There are no notes, and you might have noticed that I never really repeated any of my notes, so it's about this point that I started letting most of it taper off.  It's a different sound throughout the level that way, but I think it makes for a progressive song as well, if you can call it that.  I'm no musician, however, so it might just be noise.  Regardless, it seems fitting for the nature screens to let that sort of thing sort of drift down.

And here's where it ends.  Much like the screen before, it's just a tranquil looking bit where even more of the notes have faded away, leaving you with just a few stray things that, I think, sound pretty fine.  It's a pretty simple concept, I admit, you escape a Factory and end up in Nature which is....kind of obvious, or at least thematic enough that it seems the obvious place.  It's not ground-breaking or anything, nor am I willing to say that it's awesome, but I'm proud of it regardless.  I think it sounds pretty good and looks pretty good, so that's all that matters for me.  For going on with little more than a crash-course and messing about with the creator, I think I did pretty good to establish something clean-looking at the very least.

Thanks for checking this post out if you read to this point and really took a look at the pictures and such.  With any luck, it plays decently to people who aren't me and hopefully, showing off this here might have interested you in checking it out.  By all means, if you did, let me know!  I need feedback so I can get better as a maker in preparation for LBP Vita.  Again, sorry if all the pictures were a problem, but, well, I wanted to show them off.  And at least they were a little better realized than my first attempt with it that you can see here.  I messed with that damn screen for about a third of the time as I did the whole level, I swear.  But that's the one that gives you the first impression, so that was the point of it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just Doing a Bit of Maintenence Tonight

Because I'm a bit bothered by stuff tonight as usual, as well as having a bit of troubles with my allergies, I think I'm just going to spend a few hours going through the backlog of posts and doing a little work with them.  Resizing/relinking pictures, just doing a bit of tidying up and the like because I do see the virtue in doing that, in going back and treating old posts like the newer ones.  I also have just been putting off dicking around with old posts in general for far too long unless I link to them in a new post or something of the sort.  Simply because it is a bit of a chore to go into the blogger....-thing-, whatever it is where you have access to everything and tick off post after post after post.  But doing them all now might just get me in the habit of keeping up on them in the future so I don't have to do another big thing of this.

The pictures is really one of the more important bits for me, as I've toyed around with resolutions and figured that, for my current layout which I'm likely not going to change dramatically, tweaking the resolutions of most pictures to 520x293-ish (depends on the base picture, generally 400x225 is how it is when you set it to large, then manually altering the HTML to the new numbers which are just 1.3x bigger a piece) is the sweet spot.  They're nice and big at that size without being, I think, -too- big, and they definitely do not break the barriers at that point as setting them to X-Large or, in most cases, Original Size, would do.  This is also where my Flickr for Kupowered comes in handy, as some pictures (generally the ones I take on the Vita) are hosted through that thanks to the mostly terrible Flickr App for Vita.  (Seriously, if you try and look at a picture in the app, it crashes it.  It's only good for uploading.)  They have a resolution that is 500 by something which, as you can tell, is just about in line with what I figure on anyway, so that certainly works for me.  Anything to make it easier on my end, I guess, since I can throw those in, slam "Original Size" and be done with it just that simple.

Something else I'm considering is cribbing an idea from Chance and getting together a post that is where I keep the reviews I've done.  Or, rather, handy links to the actual review posts themselves so you can just take a look, click, and find out just how the game tickled my fancy.  Since it may also tickle your fancy in much the same way.  And then there will be much fancy tickling.  ...I'll stop that now.  Thing about that is that I haven't actually done very many proper Reviews (the actual number as of this writing is, in all honesty, probably 9) so it seems like some work to do for what is, basically, "Here is what I think of nine games."  Perhaps when I get a few more up, I'll do up the post or I'll take some of my other posts that are -basically- reviews and do up a section in said Review Repository thread for that purpose.  I mean, I'm getting close to 600 posts here, so I'm well-beyond the point where a little more organization and quick-reference is necessary.

Beyond that, I probably won't mess with a whole lot.  Now that I've done this for a while, my Tags list has piled up so I might throw a few extra ones onto posts where required, but that's about it.  Really, I've been putting this off much like the other stuff to do with the blog itself.  For at least two different posts, I just need to do a bit of research and a bit of effort into some things before I can actually just bring them up as posts, but I just haven't done them because I've found it easier to just pick something out of the news.  Of course, the news has been a bit scarce through the summer, less the deluges of things here and there, so it has been a risky strategy of late.  Though I still maintain that it's a good sign that I can sit here and -want- to write something, even if the what seems a bit sketchy for far too long because nothing interesting or relevant personally has happened and/or is pointed out at places I trust.  So, with any luck, I'll be able to get at least a bit of that stuff worked out so I can do something a bit different than lately.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Way of the Samurai 4 Released Today, I Can't Play It

In the rather beefy PS Store Update today, Way of the Samurai 4 joined the ranks of several other games in appearing in the digital storefront, most of which provide a rather disturbing reminder for me everytime I consider it.  Way of the Samurai 4 is just yet another game that's out there that I -want- to play, and just cannot, since they are relegated behind a wall that is much higher for myself than others, though I am assuredly not alone on this side of it.  As a digital-only title, Way of the Samurai 4 requires only three things to open up to you, the consumer, as a product to be played and experienced:  Enough money in your account to buy it, enough space on your hard drive to store it, and the internet connection that is fast, reliable and unrestricted enough to allow you to download it.  That third bit right there is something that we, as a whole, seem to be wholly disregarding as an idea, though it's a very, very real reality that is simply unreachable for many people like us who enjoy sharing this hobby that we do.

I've lamented it several times before, and will likely continue to do so - My internet connection is entirely too slow for me to even -consider- going digital for more than the odd title here and there, much less going full-digital as 'everyone' assumes is the future.  I might seem as if I'm in the minority in this, but I suspect that is the exact opposite of the case as a standard (since it's not only gaming that assumes everybody has internet to freely do this and that and devil may care on the size) and it's unfortunate since it's only going to get worse from here on out, I'm sure.  And even for those not in my situation, there's the chance for another one entirely, when they have the speed, just not the ability thanks to internet caps designed to hamstring people attempting to enjoy the internet unfettered because infrastructure was never considered properly and it's too difficult to change now.  So while 'internet' as itself is not a finite resource, that which enables it certainly is, which is where these absurd charges, theories and caps come from.

Let's just take today's Playstation Store Update for an example.  It was a very beefy update, as I said, and I could see the same person wanting to get a lot of the items offered.  So let's say they decide to download Metal Gear Solid 3:  Snake Eater HD, Way of the Samurai 4, Metal Gear Solid 3:  Snake Eater HD for Vita, and Gungrave Overdose.  This is being conservative.  All together, the file size for all that is in the neighborhood of 19.5 GB alone.  This is just for PS3 and Vita gaming.  If you are a PC gamer, then boy-oh-boy, are you looking at a large internet usage every month just from obtaining things that you are purchasing.  Imagine, if you will, that you are in one of these awful places where the cap is very low per-month where they give you only so much and no more, charge you ridiculously if you go over, cut the speed when you pass the arbitrary number or do some combination of the three.  Now not only are you unable to get something that you've paid for already, but you might be screwed out of using the internet as a whole for a period of time, or it'll cost you a ridiculous amount.  How does this make sense at any level?

Now, I -get- that the -option- is nice for people who can make effective use of it.  I encourage a digital future so long as it is a companion to physical since it is not as widespread an option as people think, nor will it be in the foreseeable future.  And I get that there are some companies who endeavor to make smaller games that only have a chance of success at digital retail.  The counter-balance to that is that these companies keep their games, as you might think, -small- so as to not need the 5-15 Gigs of space some of these games seem to think they need.  (Seriously, why is Michael Jackson:  The Experience 15 gigs?)  There are things in place to make the digital space as user-friendly as possible, and there is a giant difference involved then between a full retail game going digital and a game being built from the ground-up as digital.  The former becoming the only option is just horrid for everyone involved since it honestly just completely loses sales from people like me who want to buy your game and just can't.

And that's what the case here is.  I want Way of the Samurai 4 for reasons that are well beyond me.  It's not a serious game, nor is it likely a technically amazing one, but it offers a specific scratch for a specific itch, and I want to procure it for said itch.  But like Warriors Orochi 3 before it (and basically every fucking KOEI game to come unless I buy a 360 and they actually release it for that) that's simply not an option unless I go above and beyond my own means instead of doing what I should be able to just do with any other game.  But thanks to this wall that has been established by things well and truly out of our hands for silly reasons, it's just not an option.  With niche games like this and KOEI-fare, you really cannot afford to cut out -any- of your customers, though that's exactly what they're doing.  It's simply worrying because if we can't buy their games, we who normally would, that means they're getting even less than normal and are thus less inclined to continue.  And that's.....well, that's just a real shame.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tokyo Jungle Has a Western Release Date

Last December, a little game called Tokyo Jungle was more or less thrust onto a lot of radars thanks to the absolute pure absurdity running through its veins, so to speak, as well as the real, undeniable uniqueness the game holds.  I was....confused about the game and I still am, but I can say with some certainty that it's definitely grown on me a little bit.  I don't know what it is in particular - perhaps just that it's one of those silly little titles that embraces absurdity and runs with it (which you know I am a fan of, despite how I wobble on that stance sometimes) or perhaps it's just that the game will allow me to play as 50 different animals at base, including a goddamn dinosaur, which, let's be honest, enough games do not do this.  I don't really think you can disagree with me on this either, because "You get to play as a dinosaur" is a goddamn bullet-point if I've ever seen one, and I look at a lot of game boxes.  Guess what?  THEY DON'T SAY THAT.

Ahem.  Anyways.  Speaking of game boxes, this game will not have one when it releases as a PSN-exclusive on September 25th which is a -really- bad day because sorry Tokyo Jungle, I will be playing LittleBigPlanet Vita for the next few months starting on exactly that day.  I believe that means you don't have to have a permanent mental break, Chance.  Well...I dunno, it was a retail release in Japan (possibly retail/PSN both), but not here or in PAL territories so....take that for what you will.  The game launches here at $15 which is a lot less than said retail release in Japan, and probably makes it a -lot- more palatable over here for those folks on the fence about it.  Which I can only imagine is just about everybody, so with any luck, there will be a demo for it up on day one or shortly thereafter.  There was for the Japan PSN, but then again, Japan's PSN seems to get -everything-, so it's not that farfetched to think that they got it solely for that reason.

Still, to recap, since I am actually interested in this game and want it to succeed, the game is pretty awesome in premise.  If you looked in the Playstation Blog post to check out the trailer (which is exactly the same trailer as last year with english text) then you'll know this already, but Tokyo Jungle is a survival-based game at its core.  In a world where at least Tokyo has become completely uninhabited by people for some reason, nature steps in and fills in the gap by involving a rather diverse assortment of creatures; at least 50 of them.  Everyone has to fight for their spot in the fragile eco-system and you, as the player, will likely be doing that fighting for them.  Or, rather, as them, since that 50 number is the number of creatures playable in the game.  I assume the story mode has a limited assortment of them (something in the 15-25 range) on focus as they establish their dominance in an area while also finding out just what the hell has happened.  I assume that is more for the player's benefit, as I'm not quite sure just how smart the animals in the game will be, but I'm just not sure on a whole lot of the game, really.

In addition to the Story Mode, there's another mode called "Survival Mode" which seems to stick to its guns with that title, tasking you with taking to an area, making it yours, and going on the hunt not only to survive, but to look for a mate to create future generations that I assume you step into as well once your initial animal has passed on.  Seems almost RTS-like in a sense, since you will likely end up losing because you have been over-taken by another species that has done the same thing, or will win because you reign supreme, though 'Survival' leads me to think more of the former for whatever reason.  Basically just lasting as long as you can until you just can't anymore, I mean.  Ecosystems are hard things to manage after all, especially when you're an animal in the middle of a ruined city with other animals.  Really, it seems simple enough as a system, and the intricacies likely just come in with how you use it.  Since it is basically "Run around, attack, consume", though overkill in some areas is likely a bad idea, as an example.

I really don't know what else there is to say about the game.  It looks neat, even though it's not really a good-looking game, especially for the year 2012, but knowing there's 50 differently modeled animals plus all sorts of costume pieces for them all to wear softens that a little since, -yeah- that is going to be a little hard to manage, especially for this niche of a title.  Seeing your dog run around in a construction hat as he passes by hippos, baby chicks, a crocodile and a kangaroo likely beats seeing your expertly textured dog running by similarly textured dogs that are basically just clones, but hey, at least they look good, right?  I'll take variety over looks super-duper any day of the week, though both is quite nice as well.  Perhaps next generation we'll finally get that level of variety and detail at the same time, since it seems we just won't with this gen quite yet.  Glad to see we still get some of these quirky games rather than mostly just different takes on 'sure sells'.  Because this one surely won't sell all that much, but it'll be unique indeed for the people that play it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

'The World Ends With You Too' is a Possibility

Okay, probably not with that title, but I really couldn't resist it after the latest piece of news I got off of Siliconera.  Apparently there is a new teaser site up with the URL of 'subaseka' and as of this writing, it seems to have a countdown of...uhh, really soon.  Like as soon as I post this, I'll have to edit it with news of just what the hell it ended up being.  If my internet is willing to cooperate, of course, since it's taking forever to load this damn page.  Nothing important or anything, of course.  Just kind of want to know what the hell I'm supposed to be seeing as opposed to what I am seeing.  It is....somewhat important, after all, being that this is something I want to write about.  Anyways, what you are -supposed- to see on the page is an image that looks quite suspiciously like things seen in The World Ends With You and is, after all, apparently the teaser page for a project that involves both Gen Kobayashi and Tetsuya Nomura, or at least characters created by them.  Which keeps the umbrella for TWEWY open, of course.

I don't think there's really any doubt that this -is- going to be a TWEWY project and with what's being thrown down here, I would highly doubt that it's something as banal as like an iOS port of the game, but I wouldn't quite put that past Squeenix.  Regardless, more TWEWY is something that I have heard the outer edges of the internet clamoring for for a few years, and I really....don't understand the why around it.  I've played The World Ends With You after proudly grabbing it up for my collection, as it is, apparently a really rare and great game, and I put it into my DS as soon as I was done with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (which I picked up at the same time) and...well, I tried playing.  That's as charitable as I can be with talking about the game since it is...unique in that aspect.  Not only is there a big amount of cutscenes and exposition at the start, none of it seems to really mean a whole lot, and the actual gameplay is really out there.

I assume that it is one of those games that is a slow-starter, but once you really get it, you get it and I was hoping for that, but there was just no way I could manage it.  With the fighting system for the game relying entirely too much on the stylus in ways that are entirely too similar to one another, it's hard to make the game specifically do this or that when you want it.  A swipe is taken as a poke so your flame strike translates as a lightning bolt and when you start getting into enemies with affinities and the like, well, it -kind of poses a problem-.  Beyond that, the story wasn't nearly as gripping enough from the start to make me want to dip more into it, coming off more as seeming urgent for the sake of it than meaning -anything-, but again, perhaps I was just frustrated with it.  Regardless, if this pans out to a sequel, it could be a good time to throw the game in again and try to run it once more.

Just to get this out of the way before the page updates, I would really suspect this to end up being the long-awaited sequel announcement.  There really isn't anything else I think it could be beyond a port announcement and that would cause a rather tepid reaction for an entire teaser thing and the like.  Of course it'll be a 3DS game, since the game admittedly was pretty tailor-made for the DS (which isn't exactly high-praise considering how it was done) and by those virtues, I pretty much won't care unless when I play TWEWY again, it amazes me.  I highly doubt that happens.  But we must be open to any possibility and such, I suppose, since everything has the chance to surprise you if you really don't expect it to.  Or....something like that.

I do wonder as to the name, however, as "The World Ends With You Too" seems a little too....expected, I guess?  It's a play on both the title and the expectation of a sequel carrying 2 since 2 is two is too, but I'm going to be surprised if that's what they go with.  Maybe they'll change 'World' with something else, something more personal or grander as a scale.  But beyond all that, I can't really give a rough estimate of anything about the game since my own experience with the first one was limited and not particularly enjoyed nor remembered.  Again, maybe I shouldn't bring it up in that case, but hey, not like there's much else to talk about here, news-wise or otherwise.  So, not much else to say then, as it simply becomes a waiting game for the site to update and show off whatever the game is.  And then..maybe wait for some other site to translate it unless it's pretty goddamn blatant.

Update!:  Oh sure, after I post this, the site friggin' fixes itself.  Look for the announcement next week, kiddos.  And enjoy that music, since it is pretty neat.  I do believe it is reminiscent of TWEWY, but I'm probably not the most reliable person on that.  I should note that the site seems to be Time Zone sensitive, so this is EST I'm working from.  Might be a couple hours yet for you West Coasters.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bleh Post - Some News and Whinging

You might have noticed, but for the past few weeks, I've just been in a constant state of 'bleh' and I'm not quite sure why.  Well....I could produce some very sound theories, of which include Summer troubles, allergies (or possibly being sick on-and-off) and all sorts of other stuff that I'm not getting into, but that's not really the point.  The point is that it's kind of been affecting my writing, I believe, in that I find it a bit harder and harder each night to come to the table, as it were, and put down something that I'm happy with.  When posts normally would take me a few hours, they've taken in excess of five on a few occasions this week, and with such prolonged writing times due to not being able to focus, I'm sure it's shown a little.  Knowing that I'd probably not be able to get out of this slump without acknowledging it, I'm going to go ahead and do that so it's not something weighing on the back of my mind with the hopes that it'll let me move on.  So yes, apologies if the quality seems to have suffered (when I actually get a chance to write instead of feeling miserable or storms making it impossible to do so) and with any luck, just coming out and throwing that out there will help me get out of it.

In a further effort to raise my moods, I'm pointing out what is basically a superfluous news point about LittleBigPlanet Vita to reaffirm to myself that the game is a thing and will be coming out at the end of next month and I just cannot wait.  If messing around with the Sound Shapes editor has taught me anything, it's that I can be a real perfectionist when I have, essentially, all the time and ability to be, as I do with a handheld, so hopefully I'll be able to effectively branch out beyond just writing a thing every night in terms of content creation on a broad scale.  Not that it isn't great to be able to do this, but I sometimes feel myself withing I could do something a little more tangible - something like a Let's Play which is just beyond my means.  Making a -thing- and showing the inner workings of it (As I have attempted to do with my game that is still being worked on, I swear) is that next step of things to bring in under the umbrella as it were, and I can imagine getting further and further along with that when it comes around.

Now, that out of the way, the piece of news here is that LittleBigPlanet Costumes are going to be cross-compatible, even moreso than simply LittleBigPlanet 1 costumes working in LittleBigPlanet 2.  You see, not only will you be able to use most of the costumes from LBP2 in both LittleBigPlanet Vita and LittleBigPlanet Karting as a way to stay comfortable in the game, or just make your style choices 'known' if you become 'big' in the community or such.  The costumes that won't make the cut, it seems, are the Assassin's Creed costumes (Ezio from AssRev and Ass2) and the April Fool's Costumes, but the only thing mentioned is that they will not make it to Karting with no mention of Vita.  The April Fool's Costume, I can understand as it has a specific animation attached to it that simply won't work in a Kart, but I'm not quite sure about the Assassin's Creed costumes.  Maybe the wristblades get in the way of the wheel or something of the sort.  Again, I can't tell if not making it to Karting means it won't make it to LBPV either, but I suppose we shall see.

The costume migration won't be immediate, of course, as there are a -lot- of costumes at this point, so they'll have to be rolled out gradually after they've been remade and such.  Something else that is a bit up in the air is whether it's simply DLC costumes, or if we can expect all the costumes, ala LBP1 -> LBP2 that we've gathered to show up.  (As in, costumes you simply gain by completing the main game)  Perhaps with a little save connecting or the like, we might see it, or if that sort of thing is flagged server-side, then it is possible, but I really have no idea.  I will be slightly sad if I don't get to use some of the vanilla costumes from LBP1 and 2, but between the Sony Licensed Costumes I have (Metal Gear Solid, God of War, etc.) and the others that will be in the game proper, I won't worry too much.  I'm sure I can find -something- that I like to have my Sackboy run around in.  Regardless, it's good to see that the things that people have actually -bought- for one game continue to make it across to the newer games in the series; something that other franchises should really take heed of.

Speaking of Sound Shapes' editor (as I did a couple paragraphs back), it shouldn't surprise you to know that I have been working rather extensively with it, tweaking and perfecting little bits here and there of a level that I am working on.  When it gets to a state that I'm pretty happy with, both in look and sound, I'll be taking some pictures, publishing it, and writing up a little post about the whole of it.  My experience making it, stuff I figured out, possibly showing you the 'preferred' method of getting through it and the like.  Not that it will be something amazing or even close to it, but it will be something that I definitely worked on and in no small form - I have been wracking my brain for hours trying to figure out what comes next in the musical part of the game, and figuring out how to make it mesh with the level design I have.  It's....a balance, to say the least, and I think that will be a little more clear once I can shed a little more light on it.  With that said, though, time to get back in it; borders that you can stick to aren't going to make themselves, after all.