Saturday, June 29, 2013

Upcoming Purchases: July and August 2013

If you have ever seen me type the phrase "Too many games" on this blog before and would not like to see it again (beyond that inclusion) then, by all means, skip this post.  Because in this post I'm going to complain loudly that there are in fact so many games that it borders on too many, even if there technically cannot be too much of a good thing.  Tonight I went to the effort of putting together a list of games that I know for a fact I have pre-ordered or that I have a very real intent of pre-ordering and the fact that it is 13 items long over the course of the year without including PS4 purchases or digital games is nothing short of being outright terrifying.  This is, of course, compounded by all the games I already have and haven't touched, and while it's a simple matter of just saying to myself, "It's really really hard for games to become rare anymore so I don't -have- to get things on the first day or second day" to which I then say "Shut up".  It is...not very productive.

Still, I would like to allow you a slight peak into the insanity that is simply the next two months.

Metal Gear Solid:  The Legacy Collection
July 9th, 2013

The next "Definitive" Collection of Metal Gear Solid games (likely to be preceded by the next next "Definitive" Collection if Kojima actually does find a studio to re-remake Metal Gear Solid 1) is a very, very impressive and alluring box collection if there ever was one to be had.  Every game in the proper Metal Gear Solid series up to 4 and Peace Walker (excluding Portable Ops because I guess nobody liked Portable Ops) is included in some way, shape or form.  Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are featured yet again on Metal Gear Solid 3 HD (I imagine), Metal Gear Solid 1 and the VR Missions may or may not come in disk(s?) form (I've seen it stated as such, but I'm wary of believing it), Metal Gear 2, 3 and Peace Walker are all their respective HD versions from the collection that is friggin' impossible to find in the wild and Metal Gear Solid 4 is the Trophy version of the game, meaning the trophy patch that was released for all prior copies is printed right on the disk requiring no update.  This is, of course, leaving out the fact that the two Digital Graphic Novels (?) created by Ashley Wood will appear in this as well, which I don't believe they -were- available in America before.  If so, then it was...very, very limited.

The eternal torment I'm faced with in regards to Metal Gear Solid is that all I want, all I have wanted since the Vita was released, was a version of Peace Walker for the handheld in which Peace Walker dreamed the PSP would be.  (Well, that and a new Ac!d game, but we're talking realistic possibilities here)  The HD Collection for PS3, I had heard, contained a digital code for the PSP version of Peace Walker so that you could do the whole Transfarring thing between the HD and Portable versions, given that it was built entirely around that, yet I over-estimated just how available the HD Collection would be.  By the time I had a space in my calendar for it and began looking, it was nowhere to be found and I've never been able to confirm whether or not I could -get- a digital code from the game.  It is all, of course, just an effort to avoid spending money on buying a game again since I bought Peace Walker on UMD and played the absolute shit out of it to degrees that I never would've envisioned.  And I want to do that again, but I don't $30 (or has it price-dropped yet?) want to do it again.  I very much doubt the Legacy Collection will help me with this venture either, unfortunately.

Regardless, it is a package that is enticing to me as I do not currently have in my possession blu-rays that contain Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 or Peace Walker on them due to my lack of ability in finding the HD Collection without online ordering, which is basically me stating that I'm lazy and I wouldn't play any of them right away anyway.  (As a point of fact, I've had the Vita Collection for....weeks and I haven't put it in aside from checking for an update during the time in which I had barely-there internet)  In a lot of ways, that's solely why I would want to pick up the Legacy Collection, though I do worry because I have not, in fact, remembered to pre-order it which makes me kind of a dumb.  I have a week and I simply don't know if I'll manage it within that timeframe (If I can still pre-order it at all), but I can give it a shot, or take a chance on it just...being in stock.  We'll see.

Shin Megami Tensei IV (Limited Edition Box Set)
July 17, 2013

The PowerUp Rewards site assures me that my copy of Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS is among those that were elevated to the Limited Edition Box Set for the first shipment of the title.  I'm not sure I'm willing to allow myself to believe that I was, in fact, so lucky, but I suppose that's something I'll find out in a couple weeks.  I'm not too fussed about it, personally in the sense that I'm not really buying SMT IV out of the pure excitement for the title, but rather a bit of curiosity and the knowledge that, being an Atlus title, it will quickly become fucking impossible to find at a reasonable price, barring the times when you simply get lucky and the copy of Devil Summoner 2:  Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon that you bought for $20 was in fact one that somebody pre-ordered and never picked up and comes with the neat little plastic enclosure and the awesome little Raiho plushie.  For $20.

I've never played a proper SMT title, which is something I'd always hoped to rectify and SMT IV is simply a means to that end.  I've not paid attention to any of the hype, any of the people who played the Japanese version or anything.  I have nothing in my head about what an SMT title is, much less SMT IV specifically, and when I purchase it, I hope I'm still of similar ignorance.  I don't know really what I expect from the game, but I know that I expect something and I don't want that to be colored by anything else.  I want it to be the easiest litmus test as possible about whether or not it's a series that I can enjoy, since I wouldn't be surprised if its continued existence is exclusive to handhelds and I do so enjoy handhelds.  Regardless, it will be a neat experiment, that's for sure.

Dynasty Warriors 8
July 16, 2013

Releasing on the same day as SMT IV and being the game that I am genuinely excited about purchasing on that day is Dynasty Warriors 8, KOEI's latest and greatest iteration of the series where Chinese Warlords, Generals, Officers and Fictional Characters murder beat up people by the thousands at a clip and I am going to love the shit out of it.  Though I do believe I have expressed as much already (after I once again whinged for paragraphs about KOEI's dickery) and largely enough, that all remains the same.  If you'll allow me a sidenote for a moment.

Sidenote:  I still find KOEI's reason of not releasing WO3 on a disk because they were simply staunchly adhering to a Sony guideline stating that no dub = no physical media is absolute horseshit.  Since I definitely just purchased Muramasa Rebirth a few days ago, it is definitely on physical media, and it definitely does not have a fucking dub.  Now, we resume.

In the days since I posted that original article, I have found more reasons to be excited about DW8 - 11 of them to be exact - and they are all new (and in on case, returning) characters.  Caring not for our silly notions of roster balance, they've added three new characters to Shu (plus one from DW7 Empires which was Digital-Only in North America, fucking KOEI), two new characters to Wei (plus the three from Xtreme Legends which had a retail release meaning I fucking bought it), two new characters to Wu, three new characters to Jin and none to the Others with the exception of bringing back Zuo Ci for the first time since DW5.  That brings the total roster up to 77 characters, 21 of them being Shu, 18 being Wei, 18 being Wu, 12 being Jin and 8 being Other.  Lop-sided much?  While there is quite some grumblings I can make about KOEI's choices of new characters this go around, that probably deserves its own post considering how verbose I can be about history.  Just know that More Characters = More Gooder and that makes me more excited to own the game.  (Yes, I know gooder isn't a word, it's a joke)

Dragon's Crown (Vita Version)
August 6th, 2013

Yes, yes, we know.  I have always been firmly in the camp of "Does the game look neat?  Yes?  Okay, Cool" without a single trudging away from that opinion even when that whole thing happened that I'm not even going to link because it doesn't deserve anymore damn coverage.  Dragon's Crown is just a sidescrolling Beat-em-Up with fantasy characters and that's all I want it to be.  That's why I put money down on it, and that's why I'm going to buy it.  It is going to be a neat game, and I don't think I have to quantify it any further than that.  As it gets closer and closer towards release, perhaps I'll have more to say about it (and hopefully neat pictures like this one to link) but for now, that's really all I feel I need to put down as my justification.  It looks neat, it's likely going to be fun considering who's behind it, and I want in on some of that action.

Rune Factory 4
August 13, 2013 (Placeholder Date)

I have been excited for Rune Factory 4 for a very, very long time.  It was one of the three titles that finally made me admit that a 3DS purchase was inevitable for me and is, quite honestly, the one title of the three that did it for me.  The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  Few other games could have done it - not even something the likes of Pokemon X&Y - and it's for that reason that I made sure a copy of it was reserved for me weeks before I even had a 3DS XL in my possession.  Absolutely nothing I've seen in the weeks since it was announced as a thing that was being localized has done anything to damper my excitement for the game and, in fact, has only made me that much more giddy as time went on.

It certainly helps that a Production Assistant for XSEED Games who was spear-heading the text localization talked about the game a lot on her Twitter, mentioning exactly how fun it was (note:  it was megatons of fun) and generally being a wonderful person to follow for someone who is very interested in RF4 as a whole.  (It also helps that she is a wonderful person of wonderful taste which I'm not solely stating because of her apparent excitement for Drakengard 3, but it helps) Being that the text turn-in date was fairly recent, I'm hoping that means a release date will actually be announced soon because it will technically mean that I am that much closer to owning the game.  Which I sometimes worry that I appear as if I am simply chomping a little over-eagerly at the bit for, which is subsequently ignored because I just want to play Rune Factory 4.  If the date is not August 13th, I certainly hope it's not too far removed from that.

Killer is Dead
August 27, 2013

It's a little odd to follow up Rune Factory 4 with this one as I am fanatically devoted to Rune Factory 4's release, whereas my primary reason for pre-ordering Killer is Dead is mostly like SMT IV's reason:  I want it because of who is making it and putting time into it.  Killer is Dead was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture which, as you know, have No More Heroes and the fantastic Lollipop Chainsaw under their belt already.  It's honestly that simple as well - they made Lollipop Chainsaw, so I want to throw money at them for making another good-looking action game.  I haven't looked into it too deeply because I don't need to.  I am going to get to cut things up and if Lollipop Chainsaw is any indication, I will have a lot of goddamn fun while doing so.  So there, it is that simple.  Pre-order down.

It should once again be stated that these are only the physical releases since digital-only titles tend to....not have their release date known for some reason.  We know of the big list of indie games planned for PS3/Vita that is only getting longer and longer as the days go on and we know that some of them have a tentative "Summer" release window.  Then we have this tweet from Shahid Ahmad who is at least partly (probably mostly) responsible for courting a good bit of the indies over stating "Lorenzo looked at our Vita line up for July tonight and said “we have too many games coming out”" and you cannot help but cover your wallet's ears.  My personal hope is, of course, Terraria is among those titles given that it has a Summer release date and damnit I just want to play Terraria on my Vita, but there are a lot of tantalizing options that could very well be coming in the month of July alone and they add up rather quick.  So yes, the next two months are going to be rather brutal.

I swear I will never stop harping about that goddamn Warriors Orochi 3 bullshit

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hotline Miami Impressions

"Damnit......damnit......damnit!....Shit.....Guh!  This fuckin'......hurrgh...GODDAMN DOG!.....damnit.....yessss.....yesssss.  New stage time!"

The above is a basic approximation of my vocabulary whilst playing Hotline Miami, but with a lot fewer actual curse words (and a lot fewer words in general since a chapter here and there has had me stumped for a good half an hour or better already) while the game is doing its thing.  I put it this way because it's kind of hard to actually explain just how Hotline Miami works.  I can tell you how it plays, I can tell you what it makes you think, and I can compare it to this and that, but I'm having a hard time of putting on my finger on just what makes Hotline Miami [i]work[/i], because I assure you that it does.  I imagine that's one of the various things that ensures you come back to the game again and again, which ensures that you'll get your bang for your buck if you're worried about that.

I -want- to say the reason the game works is because of it's relative ease of use.  It implements an "easy to learn, difficult to master" approach to its gameplay, allowing you to get through a chapter with minimal effort (in a comparative sense) with a rating that reflects that.  It's the game's hope that you'll see that C- rating or whatever it is and tell yourself "I can do better than that", leading you to replay a level again and again, searching for that ever-elusive A+ rank.  Throwing this weapon at just the right moment to let you get two wall executions via forehead stomp, switching from a shotgun to an assault rifle to a pipe for a succession of foes, knowing when to burst into a room guns blazing are all practices that the game wills you to understand will help improve your rating and make it easier to do in the long-run.  Not to mention, when such tactics work correctly, it does instill a rather strange sort of satisfaction given the real, hard mortality that your character possesses in line with everyone you're shooting/stabbing/etc.

I also want to say the reason the game works is because of the unique blend of its bright, vivid retro graphics with a soundtrack that matches the era and mood the game attempts to create perfectly.  Though, perhaps retro itself isn't exactly the best word to use, but more of something like "Retro Progressive" or something, as it mimics a style that would have been the natural progression of retro graphics had we not skipped several leaps and bounds as we did.  The design, the look are reminiscent of 8 and 16-bit classics, but the fact basically remains that those 8 and 16-bit classics could not handle the amount of detail, the amount of colors or anything else that Hotline Miami manages.  It's a play on perceptions which I suppose is appropriate once you get into the meat of the game itself and the plot that it offers.  I do have to re-emphasize detail, however, as Hotline is absolutely ridiculous with it - on top of dozens of different corpse designs for your slain, you'll notice little things, the the bubbling of boiling water in a pot on a stove or, indeed, spent shell casings on the floor after you've fired a weapon.

To be honest, I even want to put some of the blame or praise, depending on how you see it, on just how unapologetic the game is about its violence.  Make no mistake - Hotline Miami doesn't pull a single punch.  It doesn't say "Violence is bad!" in the same timeframe that it allows you to climb onto a fallen enemy and slit his throat with a knife.  It doesn't outright paint you as a villain, nor the foes you leave in your bloody wake as villains.  It's violence with a side of violence rather than a side of morality lessons or preaching.  If anything, I think this approach is much, much more effective towards sending a non-violence message were the intent there, because it's..well, unrepentant.  I haven't finished the game yet, so I don't quite know the fate of our main character, but I could hazard a guess.  And it is not a pleasant one which is fitting because it doesn't have to be.  To enjoy Hotline Miami requires you to check your expectations at the door since, while playing it you simply won't know what to think in regards to all this and in some ways, that might just be the better idea.

The word that Chance used was "lurid", and that's about as apt a descriptor as anything ever could be.  Put simply, Hotline Miami is a game where you don an animal-themed mask, burst into a building bustling with violent people and murder them before they can kill you.  The way it accomplishes this is not for the faint of heart, though if you distract yourself from that long enough, remind yourself that it's just a game, you can find a massive amount of enjoyment and lose hours of your life in a flash because you just wanted to give this stage one more try, go for that A+ ranking or even just refine your technique.  For that, it's well-worth the hype that it has received and I'm certainly glad that it made its way to the PS3 and Vita platforms so I could give it a whirl.  The fact that it has a Platinum Trophy honestly might give me enough incentive to play it enough to achieve that feat, but I haven't quite decided just yet.  Regardless, it has definitely been an interesting game so far, and one that I want to delve into the deepest reaches of if only to see the conclusion of the story that is honestly more interesting than it has a right to be given how threadbare it can appear to be.

btw Tony the Tiger mask is best mask - punch all of the things to death

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cosmic Star Heroine Announced, Detailed

If you've been following either Robert Boyd or Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd Games, chances are you've heard of CSH at some point in time.  CSH were the initials given for the name of the new IP Zeboyd was going to work on following Penny Arcade Adventures 4 and while I had thought "Cosmic Star Heroine" was just a working title (because it fit), it turns out that was the actual title it announced with today, which has been known for months. fair, since Alyssa L'Salle, the protagonist of the game (pictured above) has also had a twitter account since March and nobody really figured it out, either.  Hilariously, that just re-enforces a little something about the character and works well in the favor of Zeboyd Games proper, since this is a neat little tidbit of info to come out after the actual announcement.

You see Alyssa L'Salle, in the context of Cosmic Star Heroine's world, is one of the greatest spies in the world (galaxy?) until she stumbles across something she's not supposed to do.  Apparently rather than dealing with her themselves, the Galactic Government whom she worked for instead simply outs her, drawing the attention of all her fans and enemies from the far corners.  After all, when you do what Alyssa does for a living, you're going to make a lot of enemies.  Powerful enemies.  So what better way of getting rid of her than by letting all of those enemies find her at once?  After all, maybe if they're really, really lucky, they'll fight over her.  At least, that's kind of the mental picture I'm getting from the little plot blurb from the actual announcement post.
Here’s a short plot teaser:
Alyssa L’Salle is one of the galactic government’s top agents and always manages to save the day! But when she accidentally uncovers a dark conspiracy, her own government outs her as a legendary spy and the people’s champion! Sure, now she has hordes of adoring fans but every villainous organization she’s ever crossed in her career knows who she is and is out for her blood! Can she save the day once more while she faces her greatest challenge… Everyone!?
Zeboyd Games has more or less made a rather big name for themselves by making Parody RPGs in the form of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, and likely to a lesser extent with the Penny Arcade Adventure games, but Cosmic Star Heroine will nonetheless mark a departure from that.  A slight one, however, in that the game will still be an RPG, but it will be humorous instead of an outright parody which is absolutely fine.  Where it will likely make itself a little more apparent is with the different approach to mechanics the game is seemingly going to take.  First off, the Combat Map is gone and the game takes a more Chrono Trigger approach to it by simply having the enemies on screen with movement patterns of their own (that can chase you if you get too close) and allowing battles to happen right there on the exact same map with no transition.  This is something that...has honestly been lost even since the days -of- Chrono Trigger, so to see another game embrace it is heartening.

There are two big, big things about Cosmic Star Heroine's announcement that have me really hyped, however.  First off is the line "Players will be able to customize their own spy headquarters by recruiting more agents (think the Suikoden series)" for the obvious reason of it mentioning HQ-building like the Suikoden series.  If you haven't played any game in the Suikoden series, it's likely because you didn't play PS1 RPGs and you heard from a friend that Suikoden (or, more likely "this stupid game") 3 and/or 4 just aren't very good.  (3 is interesting, but I've learned that 4 is almost universally reviled and I don't own it regardless)  If you could believe it, there's a 5, and it's actually good, except it's almost definitely the very last Suikoden game that will ever be because Konami likes series that sell, but don't bother to make their developers make series worth selling.  (Except MGS, obv, but that's Kojima for you.) 

What made Suikoden good, however, is that it gave you large, large casts of characters (107 that you could recruit over the course of the game, not counting your MC) that all had some worth.  They weren't all battle-worthy, but they had neat things to say, or they did things at or to your castle that added a little flavor to it and was just one of those nice detail things.  They also served a big purpose later on in the games during the "War battles" that were not very commonplace, but nonetheless important.  Long story short, by the end of a Suikoden game, if you had a character in your army, there was a chance you knew -something- about them beyond "Oh, this character has a neat quirk" because they managed to make a large cast of characters most of the time, not just a large cast of party members.  It's a very, very distinct difference that games I won't mention by name, Chrono Cross, should have honestly paid more attention to in their own inception and creation.

The other important part, the part that is actually more important than the Suikoden part, is that this game and likely the games following CSH (or perhaps even preceding its release? Eh? I'll get to that in a second) will be coded in Unity.  Unity, for the unfamiliar is a development tool that is compatible with basically every announced and released platform with the singular exception of the 3DS that I know of.  So what does this technically mean for CSH and Zeboyd Games?  That they can put all their further games on whatever the hell they want.  What does it -actually- mean, according to Robert Boyd?  That they're aiming for PC, Mac (possibly) and PS4/Vita as platforms with a huge lean towards "definitely" on the Vita, with Bill Stiernberg personally pushing for Cross-Buy if it does indeed hit PS4 as well.  Basically what it means is that unless something drastic happens, Zeboyd Games will finally be publishing on Sony consoles so those of us with terrible PCs and no XBox 360s (admittedly, this is a small, small portion of people that I think is only myself) can finally witness first-hand what they're capable of, which is definitely important.

Though I can't help but hold out hope that this will not be the first game the Vita sees bearing the Zeboyd branding on it.  A while ago, as Robert Boyd became more and more enamored with the Vita and more and more enamored with the battle system they'd created and fine-tuned for the PAA games, he posited a simple question:  "Would you like Vita remakes of Cthulhu Saves the World/Breath of Death VII if it meant delaying our new game?"  Of course, it didn't quite end just there as it started picking up some steam when theory was put into practice - Breath of Death VII's first dungeon was completely recreated in PAA4's graphics engine in less than a single hour, making it clear that such a transition would not be harsh, and the realization that hitting a new platform would not only give them experience in developing -for- that hardware, but to also improve on what was there already.  This eventually spawned what such a game would look like if it ever saw the light of day, as said by Robert Boyd himself at NeoGaf:
Cthulhu Saves the World All-Stars
PC, PSN (definitely Vita, probably PS3/Vita cross-buy)
Includes remakes of Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World
Remakes would have visuals on par with Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4.
Gameplay would be rebalanced & would include some of the stuff we've added in the PA series.
Would also include two new "games" - Breath of Death XIII-2: Undead in Time and Cthulhu Saves the Galaxy.
Breath of Death XIII-2 would be inspired by Space Quest IV. i.e. you'd travel to other "installments" of the Breath of Death series.
Cthulhu Saves the Galaxy would be a direct sequel to CSTW.
BoDXIII-2 & CSTW would probably be about as long as BoDVII each. Maybe a little longer.
Truly, it's a thing of beauty.  However, I haven't heard word one of this happening since it was dreamed up (and then reported by several sites as a thing that was definitely happening since they missed the whole context of the situation) and I do worry that with CSH officially announced (though I suppose they might not have started work on it yet) that this was quietly swept under the rug.  Regardless of whether or not Cthulhu Saves the World All-Stars will ever see the light of day, however, it does of course reinforce that Zeboyd Games is enthusiastic about developing for the Vita which is the important part to take away here for those of us who really, really love our Vitas.  Which I suggest is just about everyone who actually owns one.  So no matter what game actually does end up coming out first, I'm happy to say that I'll be putting money aside specifically for it.  Since that's something I'll actually be able to do.

gotta say, if Alyssa doesn't make one Burn Notice reference, however, I'm gonna be disappointed

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Indies I'd Like to See on the Vita

Last Night, as I eagerly awaited Hotline Miami to go up on the store, it occurred to me that it was yet another Indie title that I was looking forward to specifically because I could play it on my Vita which is shaping up to have all sorts of games on it, contrary to popular belief.  And despite claims that Playstation has all of the Indies - Count it: Fuckin' all of 'em - they actually don't, not quite yet.  Ignoring the obvious Minecraft (which I sincerely hope didn't get another year minimum of exclusivity because of the XBone version), there's all sorts of Indie games out there that haven't been outwardly courted to the Sony side just yet, or at least not in a way that I know of.  Though, it does sort of help that the three games I'm going to feature tonight (three, who would have guessed, it's almost like it's a theme) aren't even complete just yet, I suppose - they probably want to at least -launch- on PC first before considering any other platform - or platforms - as it were.

The....rather lengthy video above is Alpha Footage of a Multi-player client of Broforce as played by one AvidyaZen and one Coestar (who isn't going to update his Youtube account anymore, but still, for posterity and apropos) for -hours- (yes, it has been editted down to -only- a single hour) and I assure you, it is worth your time.  Unless, of course you don't like a very Contra-esque sidescrolling shooter featuring 8-bit versions of 80's and 90's action movie stars and almost wholly destructible terrain.  But, I mean, if you don't like that, then I don't even know what to say to you.  If the notion of playing an 8-bit Arnold ala Terminator with a friggin' minigun as his default weapon in a world where it can literally tear a wall of dirt to...nothing at all doesn't instill a certain interest and giddiness in you, then....I dunno, just skip to the next game, I guess.  God.

I must stress in so many ways that the above video, as stated, contains alpha footage of the game, meaning it's not even really -done- in the conception stage of things.  More heroes (though seriously, there's about two dozen in the game already), more enemies, more areas, et all still have their place in the minds of the developers - who go by Free Lives, by the way and offer a download of the game in its current state (the 'Brototype' as it were) on said website - and just have yet to make it into the game proper.  Still, what's there is rather impressive, especially the terrain deformation aspect to the whole game.  As Coestar puts it a few times in the video, it creates 'emergent gameplay' which I have to agree with since it could fundamentally change how you approach a part in the level, or just how it plays out in general.  There won't be randomized level designs in the final product, but the deformation ensures that you'll have a hard way of it playing any level the same way twice.  Definitely neat.

I've talked about Stardew Valley before, I'm sure, but anything I've said about it deserves to be reiterated anyway and you can bet this won't be the last damn time I talk about the game anyway.  What Stardew Valley is, if you didn't click this much, much shorter video and watch it, is a throw-back to the classic Harvest Moon style and look, while also taking the Rune Factory approach to it by adding fantasy and combat elements to the mix.  Though, I should make the distinction that it clearly sways more to the Harvest Moon side of the fence than Rune Factory....which is a distinction that I'm probably in the minority of to be able to detect as much.  That's not quite the point, however.

The point is that Stardew Valley is a very, very Harvest Moon-like game which, for the most part, the Vita completely lacks.  Sure, there's a couple of the classics, including the very, very good Hero of Leaf Valley as well as the less-good in-fact-almost-bad Innocent Life, but they just don't scratch the itch as well enough as I would like.  It should also be said that not only does SV look like a very Harvest Moon-like game, but also a good one, which is even more enticing.  Everything seems to be there - the crop raising/management, animal farming and even the social aspect of the whole series on top of a few things that aren't always there like customizable farms (except a little moreso, obviously, since it appears that you're going to be building everything) and the whole caves bit.  Combat, as stated, is generally saved for the Rune Factory series (though it -has- made it into proper HM games) but looks to be well represented here as well as some neat terrain deformation and actually usually in Harvest Moon games as well.  The mining bit, I mean, not the terrain deformation.

It's not perfect, of course.  The portraits shown for the characters of the game are...alright, but they need a little working on and I'm wary to suspect they actually will see work done on them.  (Update!: I received an email from someone pointing me to a portion of the website that -I- even linked which showed markedly improved character portraits.  So, basically I didn't pay close enough attention.  Good catch!)  It's also a little strange to see your character carrying an item over his head to use it, especially a single torch, which I also hope will be made a little less awkward before the game sees a release.  Still, even if it were to release in the state that it appears as currently, I would be satisfied. satisfied as I could be with a PC game, given that I cannot play PC games quite at the moment of this writing.  As denoted by its website, the publisher for the game is listed as Chucklefish, who you might just know already from their little game called Starbound.  That would also be a game I'd love to see, and I believe I will allow myself a little bit of hope, considering Starbound is very close in development (and developer) to Terraria, which is, as we know, finding a home on the Vita in the coming months.

Last up is a game that you probably have not heard of, but it certainly looks like something you think you have, and it's definitely something you -want-.  Of course, you might take a look at the voxels, the fully 3D world and go, "Oh, so it's third-person Minecraft", but if you would, I would like to direct you towards a game that more closely fits this type of game in 3D Dot Game Heroes.  In fact, what it feels like this game is to me, is simply the developers, fresh off of playing 3D Dot Game Heroes and going "That was cool, but let's make it awesome" and then proceeding to do just that by taking the lovely aesthetic of the game and inserting that into a game that randomly generates infinite worlds as you explore them, has ridiculous amounts of terrain exploration options (a must-have for a giant world such as this) and just all sorts of things to really pull you into the voxel world provided.

The other videos on the developers channel freely tell the tale of the game since its inception over a year ago, and it's made several long strides since then.  Of course, there is also the main site of the game which offers you a more comprehensive look at all the things that are somehow being fitted into this world of wonder.  It's honestly going to be a game of amazing and impressive possibilities, though I just wonder as to -how- it's really going to manage it.  It's just completely above my comprehension, to be honest, especially when you consider the option that you will be able to improve your weapons by adding voxels to them, completely changing their shape as well as making them stronger.

What is promising about Cube World above all else is that it -is- being planned with consoles in mind, though what platforms and what sort of timeframe are completely up in the air at this point.  Even the PC version is only -now- entering a closed Alpha client, meaning it's still likely a year out from being completed anytime soon.  Still, given Sony's relationship with Indies, I imagine a PS4 version, at the very least, will be on the table.  Even without a separate Vita version (which I still very much want) that alone will ensure that the game will be -playable- on the Vita, if just through Remote Play.  Yet beggars can't be choosers and if that's the only way I'll be able to experience the wide wide blocky world of Cube World on my handheld of choice, I'll take it.  But, seriously, a stand-alone version would be lovely.

So there you have it.  Three indies with various chances of releasing on consoles beyond PC and the Vita beyond consoles, all of which would find a loving home on the little device.  I want it, obviously, and I'm assuredly not alone in that, so perhaps the next time someone asks "What Indies would you like to see on Playstation platforms?", you'll have a few new answers.  Because you can never have enough fantastic looking indie games on your platform of choice, no matter what it may be.

no, but seriously, I want all of these and Starbound and Minecraft and all of the Indies

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tonight's A Writing Night!

It's been fairly weird lately, in that I just haven't found myself with a lot of actual free time at night which is generally when I take care of this blog and whatever else I can see fit to do before I head off to bed.  I've been spending a longer-than-normal amount of time on my posts lately which has lead to me sort of neglecting everything else since, by the time I'm done writing them, I don't want to write anything else, which is sort of a problem considering I have other things that I want to write.  Of course, it's not the fault of the blog or my desire to....stay consistent or anything, so much as it's simply me procrastinating and generally being a lazybutt.  I tend to finish a blogpost and then either pick up my 3DSXL or Vita and play a bit, kick back and listen to music or read up on a Let's Play to unwind.  Like the very, very excellent Ogre Battle 64 Let's Play over at the LP Archive.

Considering the only thing news-worthy is the fact that both Muramasa Rebirth and Hotline Miami come out this week according to The Drop at the Playstation Blog, alongside Deadpool which I unfortunately won't be picking up, there's not really enough to talk about.  I've not played Muramasa for the Wii, mostly because it was on the Wii, and I haven't even allowed myself to delve into anything beyond the bare surface of Hotline Miami.  I want my experience Tuesday or Wednesday to be as-new, un-touched by the outside world except for the few things that I do know - the fact that it's ultra-violent and the fact that it's ultra-awesome.  Which, to be honest, the latter is what prompted me to be excited about the opportunity to play Hotline Miami on my Vita, and the $9.99 pricetag for a Cross-Buy on the PS3/Vita versions of the game were just the kick in the ass I needed to send me into 'instant purchase' territory.

I could've written another post about Animal Crossing:  New Leaf, but it would've mostly been more of "Goddamnit, Animal Crossing, give me stuff to do whenever I play you and cut it out with time-sensitive bullshit like the Stalk Market" and it's not yet time for that.  I could've written a post about an absolutely hilarious and wonderful-looking Indie Game that I saw tonight, but I'm still going to put a few things together before I make that post.  Since it's probably going to turn into a Three-Indie Spotlight post, which means I need two more.  I suppose I could've written another post about Terraria and Minecraft and how much I want to play them on my Vita and yet neither are available for it yet, but, well, even I'm starting to get a little depressed by those posts.

So really, it's just one of those nights.  I want to write, I've neglected my story for a bit, and I have nothing else -to- write, so I'm gonna jump on that.  I'm sure nobody will blame me, and as always, I've brought tidings of K-Pop to assuage the gaping hole in your night that I've left.  "Scream" by BoA is off of her English Album, or one of them, so it sort of straddles that line where it's only K-Pop because of the singer, but it counts in my mind.  And it's just a fun song, really, so that just makes it easy to post up, but it does make me worry that I might've used it already.  If so, whoops.  If not, well, enjoy!

seriously though, friggin' Tuesday's gonna be a thing unless GameStop doesn't get Muramasa until a couple days later

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The E3 Recaps

Almost more fun than E3 itself is the spin that people take on the events afterward.  I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone of the famous "Never" bit from Giant Bomb from years back, and there are innumerable other examples I could throw down right here.  That's not the point.'s mostly not the point.  The point is that I'm trying to lead-in to talking about the E3 recaps from VideoGamerTV, one of those Youtube groups that has all sorts of folks uploading to the same channel, I believe.  Probably.  Gonna be honest, I didn't look into them at -all- aside from collecting the recap videos because I'm at a surplus for Youtube channels I watch yet my time is heavily, heavily budgeted already, so I don't need or want more.  The recaps are hilarious, thus I'm going to talk about the recaps.

The Playstation one above was the first one of the three I saw and was quite fantastic the first time I went through it.  Of the three, it's probably the least out-and-out funny, but that's more than likely because it doesn't -need- to be funny.  One of the things it plays up pretty heavily is, of course, Sony's triumph at E3 and it does so in a way that, while humorous, really sort of captures the mood or the thinking of the majority of us that was likely going on while it was happening live.  So I didn't have to stop the video and belt out a peal of laughter at any point, but it -was- still entertaining the whole way through.  Definitely worth a watch, if just for the Indie section alone.

"Do you guys like Indie Games?  Because we've got all of them.  Fuckin' all of them.  Count it:  all of them."

If there can be anything said about the Microsoft video, it's that it 99% -only- covers the actual E3 presser, which is pretty much a good thing overall, I should say.  No sense bringing that negativity into it, though there are just a couple bits where a little snark is thrown that way if you're thinking along those lines.  It is a shame that the video was taken from a laggy livestream, thus making the video choppy as hell, but, well, that was likely the E3 experience most people got anyway, so, true to form again.  If I had to pick a favorite part of that video, it'd definitely be the bit where they tried to make sense of the "Driveatar" because.....yeah.

Good luck with that.

I've gotta be honest.  My whole reason for doing this post was just so I could post the Nintendo abridged one.  It is by far the best of the three and it is -still- funny even though I've watched it half a dozen times.  It's just stellar and really kind of captures the feeling that it might not exactly be all the games we -wanted-, but they're games we'll play and enjoy all the same.  Really, the whole thing, aside from the Wind Waker bit which I just didn't understand, is all fantastic.  It just didn't feel right -only- posting this one even though it's the one I enjoyed the most.  So really, if you haven't watched the other two, at least watch this one.


Friday, June 21, 2013

How to Not Mess Up a Remake

"What's old is new again."

It's a statement that comes up a lot and for obvious reasons - remakes are easy money.  Simply by the flow of time, you have people who just aren't exposed to certain things the first time around and it's just easy enough to repackage those things and sell them brand-new to the folks who just haven't experienced them as well as the people who have and want to see what the 'new' experience is like.  We've seen a lot of the remake and remaster situation this generation because we've reached a point where a -lot- of people haven't been around for as long as we have, or at least not been in it as some of us have, which just means it's easy to capitalize on.  Well, easier since, well, remaking/remastering a game is honestly a very simple process.  Yet...some companies just seem to completely miss the point.  So here's a nice little refresher course on how to properly make a remake.

If you change something big, try to make it optional - Yes, everyone knows the whole point of giving a game a remake is giving it another go while not making it a wholly different game, but that doesn't mean you should change -everything- about it.  Or if you do, then it's a good idea to leave the original there as well to give new and old alike an idea of just -what- you changed and be able to quantify just how much work you put into it.  Dragon Fantasy Book I (which I still need to review >_<) was absolutely wonderful about this, in that the guy remade the map assets and music from scratch to make it better looking and sounding, -but- they also included an option to turn it back to 'retro' to see how the game was in its original state.  (they also patched in the ability to pick between retro visuals and sounds if you were so inclined)  Compare this to, oh say, Chrono Trigger DS wherein Squeenix completely and totally changed the script without including the original.  Also the new script was terrible, thus making it all the more groan-worthy that there wasn't an option to not stomach it.

For the love of God, don't make it worse - This one should be the most goddamn obvious of them all, but it's hilariously sadly one of the ones that gets tripped over the most.  If a game ran like X on this platform, it's just....just a given that you can figure out -some- way to make it run like at LEAST X if not X+1 on more advanced platforms.  Since everything is more advanced now than what you're remaking at the moment.  If you can't, then don't fucking do it.  The more recent examples have been the Jak and Daxter HD Collection on Vita and the infamous Silent Hill HD Collection debacle, but those aren't the only ones.  Hell, it'd take a while to name all the worst ones.  But one of the particularly bad ones, I think, is Squeenix's handling of Final Fantasy Tactics:  The War of the Lions which was a remake of Final Fantasy Tactics.  While I personally didn't have too much of an issue with it, there were many, many folks who complained of some slow-down that happened during magic casting and the like.  It's a valid complaint.  Where it gets egregious is when that slowdown is still there in the next port of it (on the iPhone) and is also still there in the next next port (on the iPad) when that port came six months later.  Did fucking nobody QA this damn thing at any point?

Realize what it is you're doing and market it appropriately - Remakes and remasters can be really, really exciting since you're basically getting new fans while also allowing old fans to relive the fun of whatever it is you're remaking.  But a remake/remaster is never, ever, ever going to be, on the whole, more exciting than a new iteration of the particular game or series.  (Yes, even THAT remake that will never happen, shut up)  So never forget that.  Promoting the announcement of your remake for days, even weeks leading up to said announcement is just the height of cruelty and is completely unnecessary.  I doubt I need to remind everyone about the whole The World Ends With You debacle.  A week-long countdown site for an iOS remake that wasn't even a universal app.  Who in the actual fuck thought that was a good idea?

Give the most complete game you can - If your game released and then you did something else with it, tweaked it, added DLC (which obviously isn't a thing -yet- but will be in future remakes) or whatever, include that shit.  Different regions get different versions of a game meaning some regions don't get -everything- of a game.  So if you're remaking/remastering that game, make every version standard as the version that had the most content.  Never, ever, ever, ever, ever even consider the notion of selling these extra bits of content additionally, squash any rumor that's saying you're thinking about doing it, or at least let people know you're giving them the whole game when somebody fucking asks you about it since that also gives you a chance to explain your strategy.  Because, you know, we always assume you actually have one, being that a remaster/remake is still a release.

I hope this handy little guide helps anyone who is thinking about releasing a remake or remaster of a game in the future.  It's a complicated thing, I know, but it's rewarding and valuable if you put in the right effort.  But if you're repeatedly making big mistakes in your remakes or remasters, then perhaps you should consider either not making those mistakes or not constantly torturing your fans with shitty remakes and remasters.  Of course, it's not like there's any company that is fairly consistent in releasing bad remakes and remasters, right?

this post is very tongue-in-cheek and I am very proud of it

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dynasty Warriors 8 is a Thing, I Had No Idea

The other night, one of my friends said "Hey, you getting Dynasty Warriors 8?" and for a moment, I had no idea of what to say.  That I knew -of- a Dynasty Warriors 8 was, of course, reality, but my knowledge of it did not include the fact that it was being localized and had already had a release date (which GameStop pegs as July 16th) and such.  As that knowledge sank in, however, my choice became obvious.  "Is it coming out for PS3?" I asked.  "Yes."  "On-disk?"  "It is."

"Well, yes then."  It really isn't a difficult choice.

I've made it known several times on this blog that I am certainly not at all happy with KOEI, given that they took a game of theirs that I wanted so very badly and did the one thing that guarantees that I just don't fucking get to play it.  Deciding that for one region and one region only, for one platform only, they were not going to release Warriors Orochi 3 physically pissed me off immeasurably, especially for the fact that it was the North American PS3 release which, obviously was what I was going to go with and blah blah blah b-bu-but Sony policy is never going to fucking fly with me.  All it was was a shrewd move to cut costs wherever possible and North America was the only region where the "no english VA, no Disk" excuse was going to fly.  All in all, it probably saved them a bit of money, enough to convince them it was worth it since they continued to do the same thing with all of their releases thereafter, so whatever.

But the issue was always, always, "Goddamnit KOEI, I want to fucking play your games" and not, "Okay, fuck you, KOEI, I'm not going to play your games".  So of course the first game that came out physically, meaning I could play it, I snatched right up in Dynasty Warriors Next.  It's the same reason why I'm going to pre-order the shit out of Dynasty Warriors 8 - I fucking want to play it.  This is why I've always adopted a "Buy what you want" stance, versus the whole "Company has annoyed me, so I'm going to boycott them even though I like what they put out" stance that the internet seems to take every now and then about this and that - usually a game from ActiBlizzard, EA or Ubisoft.  Some might argue that I'm simply buying into bad practices by purchasing DW8, but I can assure you quite plainly that I'm doing just the opposite.

The simple truth is, I cannot download and store Warriors Orochi 3, One Piece Warriors or any other game that KOEI has only released digitally, so thus, I don't want them.  I want to play them, of course, but I don't want them as a product because I cannot use them.  So I don't buy them.  Buying those would be buying into bad practices since I'm simply encouraging them to continue beating me over the head with games that I'll buy without the ability to play.  Buying Dynasty Warriors Next on a gamestick sends two very clear messages - I want Dynasty Warriors on Physical Media and I want Dynasty Warriors on Vita - where buying Dynasty Warriors 8 on blu-ray for PS3 sends exactly the same message.  I want the fucking game, here is how I want it, I'm proving it by throwing money in your face.  It's that easy.

I suppose I should state somewhere in this post why exactly I specifically want Dynasty Warriors 8 other than "it's a Dynasty Warriors game I can fucking buy and play how goddamn revolutionary", because there definitely -is- a reason!  Up to Dynasty Warriors 7 each iteration of the franchise tried to do something, anything to really sort of make it 'click' with not only us, but the developers as well, yet each try at that found itself lacking.  4 and 6 are among the most divisive since they do things very, very differently (4's weapon upgrade system rather than acquiring weapons, and 6's much-reviled Renbu system which I thought was actually okay) but every game was very, very different than the last.  When 7 came out to prove itself different than every game before it, it also did something else - it proved itself to be awesome.

Dynasty Warriors 7 was the first game in the main series that introduced a system wherein you could carry two weapons into the field and switch between them at will, oftentimes as part of your combo, thereby extending it into use of your next weapon.  Needless to say, it could get pretty friggin' sweet to watch with some of the possible combos, but also served a utilitarian purpose in allowing characters whose main weapon was something you didn't mesh with to still be useful by equipping a weapon that you -were- familiar with.  Not only that, but it was the first game to take the term 'cinematic' and mean it which really knocked it out of the park for a few things.  Dynamic mission switching (in which you finished a mission and were then instantly lead into another one, oftentimes as a different character) and the like were rife in the rather intricate Story Mode of the game and made that one of the best it's been.

The thing about Dynasty Warriors 8?  KOEI basically went and looked and said "Well, 7 is awesome, so let's just make that better instead of revamping it again".  Which is all amounts of "yessssss" that I can physically give.  Dynasty Warriors 7 was indeed awesome and managed to butt in to the conversation whenever "Best Dynasty Warriors game" was being discussed and the merits of 3 and 5 were being touted because 2, 4 and 6 'sucked'.  Which....doesn't mean a whole lot to folks who aren't series fans, I imagine, but it's a -thing-, I assure you.  So DW8 as an improved DW7 basically means all the awesome weapon systems, the cinematic feel, the improvements made since in iterative titles of DW7 and additional cool things like more characters on top of the already-impressive roster and, y'know, Free Mode, which was completely absent from 7.  Free Mode, obviously, lets you take a battle in particular and insert yourself on whichever side you like as whoever you want to be.  So if you want to play a guy from Shu on Wei's side fighting -against- Shu?  Go for it.  It sounds like a little thing, but it adds so much replayability to the game and the series -thrives- on that.  So DW8 is definitely something to be excited about from my perspective.

I'm giddy about a KOEI game again, what sorcery is this because it is the best kind of sorcery

Bonus Post: The Fiction of Kupowered

Folks might notice that I've added a little something to the sidebar, something that might seem rather curious at first glance, but it should become fairly obvious as to what it is in short-order.  Still, I didn't want to just throw it up there (especially at the top) without giving it a little explanation first.  Especially since it's kind of a big thing for me.

The new gadget that sits atop my sidebar is "The Fiction of Kupowered" which is something that I'm going to use to collect and keep the posts that I do in a sort of story-like manner.  It started back last year when Far Cry 3 inspired me so damn much I had to tell my story of a completely random situation I found myself in while playing the game.  A situation that was more or less unique to me thanks to just how many random elements were involved.  I was impressed with Far Cry 3 itself because of this and I was also ecstatic for the story that came of it.  And what do you do with good stories?  You share them, of course.  My blogpost that night served as a nice little way to do that and while I don't get a lot of feedback, generally, I did get a few of the people who I know check the site out every now and then point that post out specifically as a good thing.

It was something new, something different, than what I'd done with this blog before and it felt good.  It still does.  Story posts are things I can't obviously do every night, but when I get to do them, they're something quite different and fun in a different way than other posts.  I specifically started this blog as an attempt to write more consistently and thus hopefully improve my skills with it, and my story posts are a bench-mark of that progress I think.  I have mixed feelings about them in all honesty because I like them and am excited about them, but there's always the under-current of "perhaps I'm too close to them" or "everyone is their own worst critic, I should be harder on them" that keeps me....nervous(?) about them, I suppose.  Basically, I like them, but I don't want to seem like I think they're awesome super-great pieces of writing that you should like.

Personal things are always a bit awkward to explain, I suppose, which is why this is weird for me.  As I've said, however, Story posts are rather fun for me, so I intend to keep writing them, and some feedback has indicated that the story posts are also quite enjoyed, so I wanted to feature them in a way.  I worry that top of the blog is a bit much, so I -might- move it down, and as I write a lot, I might have to condense it further somehow, but for now, it's what it needs to be.  At least, that's what I think, but I'm always open to hearing otherwise, of course.

I would like to end this bonus post by saying Thank You to all of the folks who do read this blog on at least a semi-regular basis.  I write because I like to and I want to, but I enjoy constantly doing it at the pace that I do because there are people that like what I put out.  It's encouraging and humbling and all sorts of positive things.  So honestly, thanks to everyone who reads this and I hope you continue to enjoy as I hopefully keep improving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This Post Has to Have "XBox One-Eighty" in the Title

I do believe that the Earth quaked a little earlier today when Microsoft announced one of the biggest backpedals in recent memory, vowing that most of the policies described as "Toxic" about the XBone will be absent from the console at launch.  Instead of the XBone being this thing that acts as a sort of hub for your games (since it would rip them to the HDD) with all sorts of restrictions on it, it has now become....well....a game console.  A game console that has a bunch of extra stuff that we've also been whinging about from day one (TV stuff, I'm looking at you as know....every not in North America) but a game console nonetheless.  Finally.  It is...something of an absurd situation, much like the celebration of Sony's PS4 announcements, when this has to be something brought up and explained.

Specifically, the list of changes looks like this:
  • No more 24-Hour Check-In
  • No Mandatory Internet Connection at all aside from games that require it (Obvious) and a first-time connection when you set up the console
  • Disks work like today and like they will with the PS4 - Buy them, sell them, trade them, loan them, the game is on the disk and the disk is your key
  • Disks will not rip to the HDD, thus you have to have them in the console to play
  • Family Sharing Plan thing is dead, dead, dead
  • Digital Games work just like today in that you cannot sell or trade them
  • The Console is Region-Free (Which I don't think it was ever stated as it wasn't?  This is probably due mostly to, y'know, blu-rays anyway)
All in all, it's a win for consumers.  So, basically this has been met with overwhelming positivity, right?


If anything, this has simply made people angrier as a whole than anything else and it's all at once completely understandable and not.  Fans of what the XBone was going to be are now angry because "whiners" have ruined their "perfect digital console" and are further incensed by the people who are still not buying an XBone because they're still suspicious of a company that was ready to go full-steam-ahead with these ideas until they were very loudly shouted down.  They're mostly incensed because they view these people who were 'never getting an XBone anyway' as non-essential - they were not part of the 'target market' (I'm really running with the air quotes, huh) so their opinions should have never factored into it.  All of these thoughts and opinions have me feeling and thinking so many different things that I find it's far, far too difficult to really condemn or defend them, but at least try to explain the sides and facets to them.

While it's true that every product simply has some people that just won't buy it no matter what - you're never going to sell your new chicken product to a vegan, for example - and they should really be factored in, you need to keep in mind just what your target market is and be able to determine if your target market is large enough and willing to buy in.  The target market for the XBone as it was was basically:  People who had reliable, stable and fast internet, people who have no qualms about digital purchases and sharing (and also have reliable, stable and fast internet) and people who live in the countries that Microsoft can reliably support with such a plan.  That target honestly smaller than many people would like to believe thanks to the poor state of global infrastructure, and even a bulk of the people -in- that market weren't willing to buy in, meaning it was an even smaller one to begin with.

Conversely, it was completely within anyone's rights, interested buyer or not, to complain about how the XBone was shaping up, because it was a terrible machine for this point in time.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a terrible machine for -any- point in time, because I don't think Infrastructure is going to get to the point that everyone pushing digital is assuming we are anytime soon (soon meaning decades here) but I'm in the minority there.  The internet is not a right.  It's not water, it's not food, it's not housing - it's not classified as something necessary for your quality of life and as long as it's in the hands of the same people that refuse to improve upon it because they're making mad bank as it is, it won't be.  So this goes for everything as far as a 'digital future' involves, not just gaming.  Online banking, purchasing, straining out physical media more and more as time goes on is silly, but I worry that we're not going to figure that out until someone's gone over a cliff, so to speak.  Microsoft curiously toed that edge with a machine that will not work without the internet and thankfully was talked back from that precipice (because of pre-order numbers, I assure, not care for the consumer personally) but it sets a dangerous precedent all the same.

This was Microsoft's vision of the future today.  This missive from the company clearly states that it has not lost that vision of the future,
For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.
but rather insists that you'll be fine with that vision anyway since you'll abide by what the restrictions were regardless,
While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.
which simply means, to me, that we'll have to worry about Round Two of this nonsense whenever the XDeuce is announced.  That's...not particularly appetizing to me since I simply see trends continuing as they are, meaning the five, six or seven years between now and then might be the difference in a lot of people standing up for consumer rights and instead adopting the 'fuck you, got mine' manner of thinking that many XBone supporters were clinging to.  That's likely a little unnecessary at this point, granted, since it's hard to tell what'll happen next week, much less in the next half-dozen years, but I'm sure it's something that a lot of people with the distaste of the XBone as it was before today are considering as well, given the level of Microsoft-distrust that still exists.  It can't -all- be simply residual, after all.

Regardless, what this honestly means is that the XBone has been elevated from this very niche market to something that is as accessible as everything else, meaning it's much, much more attractive to quite a few people out there.  Not everything is fixed with the console as Mandatory Kinect is still something many folks have been grumbling about, rightly or no, and will continue to grumble about because that's not looking like it'll change.  Combined with a higher overall price, the fact that many, many people have been indoctrinated into the wonders that is Playstation Plus and the idea that a lot of people have simply found reasons to attach to the PS4 means that this might not do a -lot- for Microsoft in the short-term, but thankfully it might in the long-run.  I know I've personally elevated the XBone from "Never buying it ever" to "Might get on the cheap for exclusives" like Project Spark (even if I'm still grumbly about the Fable filter) and there are likely plenty of people who -wanted- to like Microsoft, but couldn't and now feel that freedom with these policies taken down.

Personally, I'm just....disappointed by it all, really.  The fact that the XBone was presented as it was as a viable machine in the first place speaks more to a dissonance between companies and consumers than anything else possibly could, aside from the abysmal PR that's gone on since then.  And the basic fact is that we got lucky.  Microsoft was very easily in a position to force the XBone as it was down all our throats to attempt to make it the standard and the resistance would've been fierce at first (obviously since it was), but, well, people end up moving on.  Nobody was going to press the issue everyday it existed, much less multiple people and eventually fatigue sets in for the people who -can- run with that model but don't particularly want to, so long as the games were there.  Microsoft clearly flashed a lot of cash to developers and probably could've continued to do so for a year or two which would've been all that was needed for the final "ugh, fine" moment.  I'm obviously glad that none of this is going to transpire, but if Microsoft of all companies, thought this was viable, who's next?  And how many 'next' companies is it going to take to 'force' this model to be viable?  If we continue to be lucky, we won't find out, so....well, let's just start banking on luck, folks.

I kinda bummed myself out with all this, to be honest, how annoying

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - It's Good to be the Mayor

It's been over a week since my purchase of an Animal Crossing 3DSXL bundle and, unsurprisingly, during that time I have spent a goodly amount of it with Animal Crossing:  New Leaf.  As its release drew on the horizon, word of all its changes started piling up and in the weeks, the days prior to the time when it was purchasable, the word was that it was the "Best Animal Crossing game to-date".  As someone who had been jonesing for some Animal Crossing, the news practically drove me to salivation whenever it came up as I could only wring my hands and reassure myself that my bundle was already in a box somewhere and it was only a short journey away on that awaited day.  It was less for the box and more the ability to not only play Animal Crossing, but an Animal Crossing that was apparently better than all the rest.

To be fair, it's...true.  In the most minimalistic way possible.

In what I can only describe as listening to the only, -only- complaints about the last iterations of "There isn't enough to do" but stopping at "enough", all that Animal Crossing has over City Folk/Wild World is more stuff.  Which doesn't sound like a bad thing, of course and it's not, really.  But none of this stuff really...adds more to the game that allows you to have something to do when you otherwise have nothing to do.  Which was the problem, of course, though some would suggest that it's -not- a problem.  That in itself seems to be the real surrounding Animal Crossing and has since its second incarnation where it became obvious that there wasn't very much it intended to change about the formula established in the first game aside from...unnecessary things like a rounder world and the like.

One school of thought insists that Animal Crossing is and always has been a game that you simply play for 15-20 minutes a day to upkeep appearances, collect bells and work towards paying off your loans that you accrue in playing the game.  Everything else, everything beyond that checklist is optional since it only adds 'fluff' to that experience.  Which, to be fair, there is fairly little else to do aside from a daily checklist.  You could hunt for bugs or fish, but that's...about it.  Which suggests then that the 15-20 minutes approach is the correct one, clearly, and that's just how it is.  There's no problem with it if that's simply the way the game was meant to be played.

The other school of thought insists that Animal Crossing is a game and that games should generally have something to do when you play them.  When you play during the day, you have a fine bit of things to do - the checklist of course, but also walking about, talking to folks, going shopping, etc.  When you play at night, quite late, in fact, there is....none of that.  Most everyone in your town is asleep, the shops are closed and all you have available to you to entertain yourself is the same bit of bug hunting and fishing that you can do at any other point in the day.  Or you could play interior decorator, of course, but only if you already have the pieces you want since, well, you can't just go and buy something else.  To say that you're never without something to do because you have a net and a fishing pole is disingenuous, if just a little bit.

To be honest, the fact that your character plays Mayor to the Animal Crossing town this go around means very very little in the long run.  You can enact one of four ordinances to sort of try and categorize your town into either being Beautiful (having a lot of flowers which are taken care of), Rich (except not really because selling -and- buying prices are increased by 20%), Late (shops are open two hours later, townsfolk stay up later) or Early (Like late, except early.) something, I suppose.  Certainly not what I thought of when initial reports claimed you could determine the hours the stores were open.  Yes, technically you are, but it's semantics.  There's absolutely no further customization to that end of things than that, no "This ordinance, but", nothing.

The Public Works Projects are where the bulk of the updates come in which ensures that you'll never ever ever have bells burning a hole through your pocket, as if they ever would in the first place.  Public Works Projects range from Park Benches to Street Clocks to Campsites to a Cafe with everything in-between.  You can only have one project open at a time and the project stays open until the amount of Bells it requires has been 'donated', read:  You raised that many bells and force-fed them to the damn gyroid asking for donations to actually fund the project itself.  Sure, you'll see the bell total go up by a hundred or so everyday, maybe, but I think the least expensive thing is 30,000 Bells, so I'm sure you can see how that might pose a problem.  If you're playing only the required 15-20 minutes a day, you'll be earning 16,000-20,000 Bells a day, or somewhere in that range, so you can see how that is also a problem.

Obviously, I -like- Animal Crossing:  New Leaf because it's more Animal Crossing.  But I also like the game -in spite- of it being more Animal Crossing.  There's a nightclub in the game that is unlocked eventually, so perhaps that's....something that will provide minutes of entertainment should I pick up the game in the middle of the night without the express purpose of building up a collection of bugs and fish to flood Re-Tail with come daylight's rays.  And perhaps once I make Kupolis a bit more...personalized with some effects, I'll enjoy it a little more, but until I get to that point, where I no longer have to spoon-feed hundreds of thousands of bells to the ATM to add just a little bit extra to my house, well, I know what I'm doing in the game.  Possibly unfortunately.

most disappointingly, Nook is a -bitch- in this game, he ain't got shit

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Fall of the Arisen

"Master, please don't!"

I heard the voice, but I couldn't place an identity to it.  Regardless, I paid it no heed.  My hand was already gripping tightly the hilt of my new sword and yanking it from its sheathe, perhaps a little faster than I meant.  I missed the heft of my old broadsword, I admit, but what this new blade lacked in density, it more than made up for it in sharpness and speed, impressing even me with the ease that it felled our recent foes.  For that alone, there was no chance that I would not turn this opportunity down, this chance to test my new weapon on an old foe.  Perhaps it was misplaced anger, but since that night that neither I nor my companions spoke of, I found that I could not control my rage when presented with an Ogre.  Seeing one now in the bright light of day, of the wide open space that this cliff-side offered us, it was my chance to slay yet another of them, if only to sate my own irrational distaste.

My feet were running long before I intended to and my blade was already thrust outward - I found myself standing next to my quarry with sword hilt-deep within its thigh before I knew what was happening, allowing me only a moment to pull back as it lurched in surprise and anger.  It wheeled on us in a hurry, growling and announcing its displeasure, but I simply didn't pay attention - I was much more focused on my sword as it re-entered the flesh of the beast again and again.  A frown drew across my face as I realized that it rent flesh from muscle and bone on this creature just as well as my broadsword did, or at least the improvements seemed minimal at best here.  Though this was not, of course, its most sensitive area to strike.  Only then, after realizing that much did I look up, did the voices of my partners start ringing in my ears loudly once more.  Only then did I feel a tinge of regret for my decision.

"They hold the advantage!  We must flee!"

'They' was the operative word, indeed.  I know not how, nor where a second Ogre appeared, but there it was before my eyes, real as the sky was yet blue.  My resolve weakened for but a moment before I gripped harder, set my jaw and grinned a grim smile.

I laughed.  I'm not sure why, really, given the context.

"Bring them all on!  We'll slay the lot of them if we must!"  My boast was near-hollow as I truly worried for our chances with the second Ogre, but as leader, I had to put up a strong front, I suppose.  Or perhaps I simply had to talk myself into it, into the realization that two of them were no match for us, seasoned as we were now.  Though the situation had changed, my desires had not, which I swiftly expressed through another slash at the ankle of the Ogre I fought before my feet left the ground and my hands sought purchase of its flesh.  As I had time and time before, I climbed my way up the creature as I heard the clashing and the clatter of my teammates fighting as well, feeling relieved that they were yet by my side even though my attentions had not been on them for some time.  My hand reeled back and I stabbed forth just as I heard Zero grunt with a similar attack below.  Our coordination sent him back in step, but my assault did not halt until I fell the strength leave my left arm and I toppled to the ground below, shaking my weary appendage to breath life back into it.

It was....a strange battle, to say the least.  I'm not sure how, but we had seemed to communicate a team effort between the four of us, with Zero and I taking one Ogre and Yoko and Aya taking the other on for a time.  After a series of particularly rough hits, I saw Yoko collapse to the ground and rushed to her side once more, finding myself able to bring color back to her cheeks and even life back to her bones.  It had something to do with the connection between Arisen and Pawns, I was sure, but that was where my assumptions ended, unable to surmise anything else about the phenomenon as it occurred.  We both had to roll away as one of the Ogres charged forth and I found myself then teamed with Aya and Zero teamed with Yoko for a time.  Our combat experience seemed to be paying off, as our efforts spoke of a trained unit and not of a mob which surprised me to no end.

I was the one to break rank first, however, as I saw Zero grabbed up in the large hand of the beast she fought, who then began to run off to do nothing I cared to think of.  I gave chase and counted myself and Zero lucky as it stopped and stood straight to gaze over its 'prize' in my companion held firmly in hand.  We were lucky, because it presented an opportunity that I capitalized on, leaping onto its back and climbing around to slash down with the express purpose of separating arm from body.  I failed in my task, unfortunately, but Zero found air in her lungs and ground beneath her once more with energy to spare in battle.  She let out a loud shout as her sword, my old sword, lurched back and struck forward, sinking in deeply to the bone of its knee, causing it to stagger back and even fall to the ground.  I moved swiftly as it fell and found myself level with the top of its head as it was dazed from the fall.  It was simple.

Much as Zero had, I found myself bringing my sword back for a strong thrust forward, sinking my blade deep into the skull, into the brain of our conquest, killing it utterly and completely in one decisive blow.  It had been showing wear, but I shuddered to think of the idea that such a blow would not have been deadly otherwise.  There was no time to rest, however, as the second Ogre was in a frenzy and I turned just in time to see Aya knocked through the air as if she weighed nothing, toppling to the ground with a thud and rolling before finally coming to an all-too-still stop.  While I still did not understand the link I had with these beings, I was thankful that a mere touch awoke them from what would be a deathly slumber otherwise as not only Aya, but Yoko again lay in crumpled heaps on the ground in the wake of the frenzied creature they fought.

I knew it was time to end this, and that simple thought surged through my mind, propelling my tired body forward towards the back of the beast that yet roared and fit, perhaps at the death of its companion or perhaps at its own wounds.  When my blade sank into its back, into its flesh, my thoughts went away as I cared not for its being, its reasoning, but only of its death. 

I was not prepared for how swiftly, nor how strangely, my desire would be met.

The beast lowered itself to all fours which brought vivid flashbacks to my mind of that night in the mines, but I did not get a chance to relive them as it charged forth towards the cliff-face that our battle had precariously took place near the precipice of.  My eyes widened in....surprise, fright, I don't know what, as we drew nearer and nearer.  My sword slashed viciously at the back, the spine of the beast I could not seem to let go of, trying merely to steer it off to the side or stop it altogether.  I knew what was coming, yet perhaps I didn't truly understand it, but then again, what happened was something that is perhaps simply not understandable in the first place.

I'm not sure what is supposed to flash through one's mind when they understand that death is not but a minute away.  For when there was no longer earth beneath the feet, the paws of the Ogre I rode, that is what I realized in an instant.

I was going to die.

I, the Arisen, the supposed hero of the land could see only water below myself and the creature.  Water that we were falling towards at an alarming speed.  Water that I knew held a creature, the 'Brine', would be the cause of my death all the same as it was the death of thousands of others who braved the seas, the oceans of the lands, perhaps foolishly in knowing such a beast existed.  I had seen the beast's handiwork up close when I kicked a goblin off of my sword, launching him into the sea only to witness as a pillar of blood erupted from the depths not a moment later.  It was....terrifying.  Because of this damned creature, that was to be my fate as well.

I suppose it would have been grander if my last visions of this world were of the expansive vista I could overlook from the sky that I was falling through, but my battlelust saw fit to ensure the thing I saw before my death was the demise of my foe.  I'm not sure if the repeated stabs I managed actually finished the Ogre off, but it was a way to vent the frustration I felt in the final moments of my life, in the final moments before our freefall came to a stop.  Though it came to a stop with a lot less of a splash than I anticipated and more of a bone-crushing impact that was thankfully cushioned by the newly-dead Ogre I found myself laying atop.  I stood, frantically looking around to let loose a cackle that surely sounded mad.  We had managed to land on a narrow bank of the massive, deep river that was no more than a foot away from my feet where they stood.  I hurried onto the land as the Ogre was drawn in and disappeared before my very eyes and did not look back as I ran along the narrow earth for I saw a shore and I was going to get to it.  My breath hitched and as my feet stepped in the solid sands of land that offered security from the depths, I allowed myself a reprieve, bending at the waist, hands to my knees as I wanted to laugh, to cry, to retch all at the same time.

I was alive.

I rode on the back of an Ogre as we fell through the air - a distance that I could only squint to see the top of now, it was that far - and managed to survive.  A chuckle escaped my lips after a gasp of breath that was as soothing as the hand that touched my shoulder just then.  I turned to look, expecting the face of Zero, but found that it was Yoko instead and as I straightened and turned fully, I saw only her.  There was a grimness to her eyes that made my question moot, but it had to be asked.  It had to be breathed, to exist, to be communicated that we both knew why it was stated.

"Where's Zero?  And Aya?"

When she said nothing purely because she did not have to say anything, anguish crippled my form and my face dropped into my hands.  Flashes of things I had seen but not registered finally seared into my brain now.  I had looked up during my descent and had seen my three companions similarly falling, though I could not, even now, assume to know why.  Nor how Yoko had survived it as had I.  The Mage spoke now, but I didn't hear it, at least not until her voice was firm, attempting to stem my despair.

"Sir...fallen pawns can be recovered at a Riftstone."

My eyes shot up to hers which seemed to hold confusion in my emotions, but in truth it was my turn then to be confused.  She spoke as if it was nothing, as if their lives were nothing.  I didn't believe her, simply, but I remembered all the times I breathed life into these beings simply by picking them up off of the ground and my doubt wavered.  I allowed myself to hope as we left the beach we had stumbled upon and headed straight for Gran Soren, to the Guild where many Pawns had congregated, had come together for the arrival of the Arisen.  To the Guild that was built around a Riftstone that I had every intention of getting to and nothing was going to stop me.  We made record time, I'm sure and as I saw the odd rock, I almost couldn't approach it.  No, I almost dared not to, fearing the worst.  Still, I drew near to the Riftstone and placed my hand upon it, causing a bright light to shine not only from the stone, but to my left.

I turned to see a form I knew all too well emerge from the light.  With something of a meek wave and a smile, Zero had appeared before my eyes once more, alive as could be.  The rush of emotions surged through me anew and I could not help myself.

I struck her.

She seemed genuinely confused as she straightened from the punch across her face I'd delivered, but that expression melted into one of understanding under my withering gaze.

"Of all the stupid things you could do...", I began, but could not muster the effort to complete the thought.  Nor did I have to as she looked down, understanding the level of disappointment I held in her lack of worth for her own life.  My hand pressed to the Riftstone again and moments later Aya reappeared as well, though I spared her the attack, merely expressing the same amount of disappointment to her in a steeled glare.  All three of the women I had surrounded myself with, entrusted my life with and protected in our travels were back together again.  Our party was complete once more, just that easily.

Yet I made it obvious as I left that I wanted nothing at all to do with them for the time being.