Thursday, August 29, 2013

Well, That Was Short-Lived

I would like to start off by saying that I'm sorry.  Kind of.  I'm sorry if, after my faint praise of the game and its low, low sale price were enticing enough for you to have bought the game, then I apologize.  Not because Touch My Katamari eventually turns into a game that lives and breathes on punching you in the dick and laughing at your torment or anything, no.  In fact, it's very fair and when you unlock the Eternal Modes for the levels, it's quite enjoyable indeed.  Fundamentally, there's not a whole lot wrong with the game part of the game if you don't count the fact that it's kind of short.  There is something, however, that is one of those naturally terrible things that just grate on me because it screams of design that you should never ever ever incorporate into a game.  Ever.

The currency of the game world in Touch My Katamari is Candy.  You get candies for finishing requests (based on your performance), for buying things for the King (never as many as you spent) and for playing every day.  That last one is the key - playing a few days in a row will only get you a couple to a handful of candies, whereas a full ten days in a row and thereafter will get you 256 candies simply for loading up the game.  That seems like a lot, right?  It does.  Until you learn that everything costs thousands of candies.  Some of it is the low thousands so it's not -bad-, since you're earning a couple hundred easy from requests anyway (so long as you're not getting really low scores, which you -won't- in Eternal because you'll be rolling all of the things), but it's still a bit of a slog to buy everything.  Even utilizing Candy Tickets, which multiply your candies earned in a request by 2, then 4, then 8 (if you use three at a time) won't get you a -lot-, but it'll get you a good amount towards buying things.

And if you want all the dozen trophies that Touch My Katamari has to offer, then you're going to have to buy all the things.  Specifically all of the music (you'll want to anyway, the music is more or less pretty good) and all the King's clothes, which is where the issue is.  You see, the upper echelon of outfits for the King's wardrobe will cost in the high thousands per piece meaning you're kind of stuck playing the levels over and over and over and over again...which is fine in theory.  Either that or, if you're going for the mega secret ultimate hidden item, which is literally a golden poop soft-serve that costs a grand 76,500 Candies which is...far more than the rest of the items in the game combined.  By quite a wide margin.  Given that your biggest get for a single level using three candy tickets if you finish off all the bonus things in the same level (which are one-time-only affairs) is probably somewhere around 1,000-1,400 candies.  Maybe.  For about 15-20 minutes playtime.  You....can see how this will end up being a sort of a problem.

This is where that bit about the 256 candies per day comes into play.  See, the silly thing about Touch My Katamari is that, even though there's something that clearly checks an external source for the date and time (the rank/title vendor, basically - you title will upgrade as you continue to play the game which eventually gives you candy multiplier bonuses that do not stack with tickets) you can go into a menu (guides suggest the curio menu) switch to settings, advance the day by one, go back into the game, exit the menu and get handed 256 candies.  You can repeat this process over and over and over again and it will take you a long time, but it will be far, far faster than getting the candies legitimately.  And by far, far faster, I mean it will take hours of your life and cause you to advance the clock manually, day-by-day, to June 22nd, 2014 if you started today with a no-streak (meaning the first ten days were building up to the 256).  Like I did.  Today.  Right before I bought the golden poop soft-serve and got the trophy for getting the golden poop soft-serve, uploaded my save data to online storage and deleted that shit.

That is really my main issue with the game other than it being short, but it's a pretty damn serious issue if you have terrible not-actually-OCD-but-let's-call-it-that-anyway like I do, and as a design philosophy, it's abhorrent.  You might think, with Namco and the way they treat Katamari games, that it was a trick to get you to -buy- candy with real money, but no, that's not even an option.  You can by Fan Damacies (that are otherwise completely random spawns) which you trade for Candy Tickets (and also unlock the free DLC missions with) and that's basically the gist of the whole....real-money aspect to it.  Aside from maybe buying more music or something, I didn't really look into it.  And it's not that I was going to buy candy, it's just that I was assured that that's what Namco wanted me to do.  But it was not.  Which makes the decision even more baffling.  Still, for $3.75 and Eternal Modes, it was a rather fun, enjoyable game that would've been easily "alright" if it wasn't for that whole glaring issue.  As it stands, I just can't continue to recommend it unless you just...don't care about trophies at all.  Which is probably the healthy move.

it burns usssss, needs the trophies precious

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nintendo Announces the 2DS, Nobody Knows What the Hell

In a stunning, out-of-friggin'-nowhere announcement that Nintendo made today (alongside a few others), it seems that they've developed and created a new 3DS that will be out in just under two months when Pokemon X and Y hit the shelves.  Actually calling it a new 3DS is...a little tricky, however, because it lacks the titular element that made the 3DS the 3DS.  So much so, that it has a different name entirely:  the Nintendo 2DS.  It means exactly what it says on the tin, because the shiny 3D effects that the 3DS outputs and whatnot are entirely stripped from this new system, leaving every game (even the ones specifically designed around the 3D effect) stuck in the 2D plane literally and figuratively as opposed to the quasi-3D plane that they previously achieved through the 3DS' (admittedly alright) methods.  Because, you know, that was necessary.

The 2DS does quite a bit more to differentiate itself from the 3DS aside from simply losing the 3D, however.  Gone is the clamshell design that, while it apparently sometimes causes scratches to the upper screen, made the device a portable one which know, the point of it.  Size Comparison shots put the new 2DS at about the size of an original 3DS unfolded, but just a bit smaller while retaining screen size.  I think.  Looks like it at least.  Basically this thing is not going into your pocket to make use of Streetpassing and the mobility-centric things that Ninendo designed for the 3DS specifically so you would walk around with it in your pocket unless you just really have big pockets and aren't worried about the exposed screens getting all mussed up.  Thanks to the shell-less design, however, we finally do have proper Start and Select buttons (possibly....they have to be better than the crappy ones on the 3DS and XL) and a Home Button that looks a -little- better, even if it's specifically reminiscent of iDevices.  The entire aesthetic and layout is changed as well and looks....terribly uncomfortable, with the main things directly in the middle with the shoulder buttons on the top of it.  Given its smaller size, maybe it's better than it looks (in fact, it almost assuredly is) but it doesn't give the best first impression.

Something else that's rather interesting about the 2DS is that, thanks to the lack of a Clamshell design, the two screens of the handheld are actually -one- screen this time around.  Which means that the whole thing is a touch screen, but you can only make use of the bottom half of it.  This is mostly a cost-cutting measure as is most of the design choices with the 2DS.  And at a pricepoint of $129.99, it's pretty obvious why.  By cutting all of the bells, whistles and some basic functionality, they're able to put out a really dumb iteration of the 3DS which is selling fine thank you specifically to market towards kids on the day that Pokemon comes out.  Because the people who really want Pokemon are not the people who have already bought a 3DS, clearly.  The fence-sitting "only going to buy one when Pokemon comes out" crowd is clearly a large one that deserves some subset of pandering to.  And the argument, again is, "It's for kids!" but what kid has been crowing about a 3DS since it came out that -doesn't- have one?  And how many of those kids who haven't gotten one are actually going to get this one?

The answer is:  Probably a lot.  Because it doesn't make sense.  The only -actual- level this makes any bit of sense on is the financial one, which I suppose is the only level it needs to function on, but still.  It's beyond silly to design a console specifically around a feature and then remove that feature just because.  You could draw some allusions to Microsoft and the recent shenanigans they made, but it's a highly different beast for very simple reasons:  1) Microsoft's original XBone was detrimental and harmful to the gaming model as a whole and would have not been sustainable on the level they were expecting and 2) Their decisions to remove the functions was purely reactionary.  Perhaps if the 3DS had been the 2DS from the on-set after the original announcement and people went "We don't need 3D, 3D is lame!" and such, then, yes, that would have been reactionary and comparable.  But this is just mucking about with something simply to squeeze a little more money out of it in a ridiculous fashion and it comes off as one of those "Nintendo Desperate" moves in an atmosphere where they don't need to be desperate just yet.

I really had to resist the urge to add the "I never asked for this" jpeg

Monday, August 26, 2013

BigFest Looks Like It Might Be Something

BigFest is one of the games that was just announced at GamesCom and like most of the Vita announcements, this one was Indie-Oriented - but in a far different way.  It's being developed by what I can only assume is an Indie team, "On the Metal" apparently, but it's one of Sony's ideas simply handed down to the team to develop, or so the (European) Playstation Blog says.  At its core, it's essentially a Theme Park Game (You remember those, right?) in which the idea is to run not a Theme Park, but a music festival, setting up booths and the stage, customizing the set-list and such and making sure everything runs smoothly so that your visitors are happy.  It's a management Sim which, I have been begging for on the Vita because Sim games on a portable just make sense and only now is it finally appearing as such, but not quite in a way I would've anticipated.  Though it is in one that I'm willing to give a try with.

The reason why this game beats Indie at its core is not because of the developer or the concept, but because of the content.  Music Festivals need music - that is the point of them - and the actual music that you'll be using will not be canned music from a database or pre-arranged songs unique to the game, but tapped directly from an independent source rife with bands who are not signed with record labels.  Actual Indie bands, not, you know, bands that adhere to the "Indie Scene", since that was a thing for a little while.  Music-snobbery aside, that along makes it a fascinating prospect; one that many are already interpreting as a way for Sony to gather some intelligence for their Music Division which would be a brilliant idea, so long as it's done through a workable, enjoyable game in the process.

There's not a whole lot about the game that's really known at this point - it's only announced for the Vita and it makes the most sense there, and there's some (hopefully alpha) footage of it shown in the above video, but that's about the gist of it.  And really, that's the bulk of what needs to be said of it at this point - It's an interesting looking game with an interesting looking concept that will hopefully be executed well enough to draw attention to itself and the crux of its creation.  Don't really need to go off into a tangent about this or that related to it.

Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself because I've had a headache for ten hours and I can barely focus and I just want to go to sleep.

I do hope that it's successful (and Football Manager) if just to bring more Simulation games to the system KOEI

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bonus Post: Animal Crossing: New Leaf - The Culling

Far too long ago I spoke of a simple goal in Animal Crossing:  New Leaf.  That goal was to finally obtain the Golden Axe through which my will would be done I would be able to clear-cut Kupolis and replant the trees in places where I wanted them, where they would make sense, and where they wouldn't be in the way of the damn roads I wanted to put down.  The goal was to be free of the bonds that hold you to doing certain things, to playing a certain way if you want "the good stuff".  With 15 days of "Perfect Status", your time beholden to the City, the ways that it wanted it shaped and the ways that it desired the foliage were finished, but you did not have an effective tool for reshaping until you acquired the Golden Axe.  Which of course required 50 saplings purchased from a store that sells one per day.  While the Golden Axe is not required in concept, it certainly is in execution because it is the only axe that simply will not break, and thus allows you to simply enjoy the arboreal genocide.

A few days ago, the Golden Axe was mine.  I was technically prepared, but I wanted to wait for one last harvest of my trees because I wanted to get enough to replant.  Because that's...half the point.  I don't -want- a flat expanse of nothing, I just don't want trees in the middle of my goddamn roads and in the way of my Public Works projects and such.  So I rested on my laurels (almost literally, ha) and simply awaited the day when fruit would spring from them anew.

That day was today.  As soon as I came across a group of two apple trees and two lemon trees with the respective fruits hanging from their branches, a smirk crossed my lips.  This was it.  This was the moment I waited for.  It was time.

Today was The Culling.

The fruit had to be gathered first.  All in all, I have enough trees that give me anywhere from 1-3 baskets of 9 fruit for all of the different types of fruit (Apples, Pears, Cherries, Peaches, Lemons, Durians, Lychees, Mangoes and Persimmons) not counting my native fruit of Oranges, and the two fruits who only drop in twos, Coconuts and Bananas.  So, harvest day takes a bit of time, especially because fruit doesn't auto-stack and you have a limited inventory space to begin with.  Still, it's something that I do and as a sort of fail-safe with myself to ensure I don't miss trees, (aside from keeping the totals to 9s across the board), I generally stack my fruit baskets up and take a look at them to see if it looks more or less like the last time I did it.

This is...generally what it looks like.  I don't need to have the coconuts and bananas because, as said, they don't all total to 9 and I didn't cut those trees anyway because they're on the beach and I don't even care about the beach, but still.  It's nice to have evidence of the bounty.  Of course, it would have been much more impressive if I had remembered my oranges -before- I took this picture and sold all those instead of after, leaving me to just take a picture of the orange baskets.

Still, that's a lot of oranges.  They sell for a lot less, being the native fruit, but it's still a little bit of bells if you need it and are willing to go through the hassle of shaking them all down, piling them up and whatnot.  Of course, I -did- have the forethought to take out fruit from every basket for replanting purposes.  You simply plant a single fruit and it sprouts into a tree that will bear three whenever it's ready to be harvested which means a nice, steady income of bells since the trees bear fruit every three days, I believe.  Which means for every 9 fruit you collect, if you want to replant, you take out 3.  Because 1 fruit equals 1 tree equals 3 fruit, so 3 fruit equals 3 trees equals 9 fruit.  Nice and simple.

This is basically what that looks like.  Obviously, a good portion of the fruit was cut off on the left side, but it helps to get an impression on just how many fruit trees I had in Kupolis and will have again.  So you can understand why I will have to have them sectioned off in a nice little area all to their own which I can keep handled quite well.  That is the purpose of an orchard, of course.  It's much more convenient and clean than having them scattered about willy-nilly within the town proper so that I have to make a trek about all parts of Kupolis just to harvest it all.  Those days are over.  Those fruit were, of course, basketed up and set aside since there will be an event in the plaza tomorrow, but still, it was effective in showing off the enormity of the situation.

I spoke of my trees as a burden at first, and then as an obstacle.  I spoke of my neighbors and in fact the very core of Animal Crossing: New Leaf as antagonistic.  The nature of Animal Crossing, in both meanings, had become something of a rival to me.  Something to be defeated.  To be conquered.  That I could finally take an axe to the greenery around Kupolis was something to be exalted and savored.  The Culling was to be an epic battle of Man vs. Nature, if you will.  Thus, I present to you the soundtrack of my deforestation.





noun: catharsis; plural noun: catharses
the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
synonyms:emotional release, relief, release, venting;
purging, purgation, purification, cleansing;
"the hope was that hypnosis would bring about a catharsis"

138 trees later (give or take a couple) and all was right in the world.  I was left with a few special stumps that will, apparently, attract rare bugs to them that I may catch and present to the Museum for cataloging (and thereafter simply sell to Re-Tail for bells) and they do look neat.

It's hard to note, but the upper right one is a Butterfly stump (I believe) and the lower one is a Heart stump, shown off next to a normal "Bullseye" stump.  All of them can be sat on feel the need to sit on a stump, but aside from the bug thing, that's all they're there for.  The special stumps, I didn't dig up, and I left a few regular stumps as well, but everything else was dug up and the earth returned to normal underneath.  All so I could complete the project that I had striven for for these past weeks.  The one project that I wanted to accomplish first, as it would be phase one of making Kupolis that which I desired.  That which I envisioned.

Roads.  Paths to the houses of my villagers, paths to my house and Dinah's, paths to Re-Tail and the Train Station and the entrance to Main Street.  Roads connected all to one another, taking you anywhere you want to go.  Each tile of road, I placed down manually, conforming my will with that of the very ground of Kupolis itself.  With the hands of my sprite, I have begun to bring civilization to Kupolis.

Phase One is complete.  And how sweet it is.

I might be a little obsessed with Animal Crossing, you guys

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Oh My God You Guys inFamous: Second Son

It was hard doing other things with my night tonight.  It was hard to write something other than this.  It's just that after I saw this trailer, I knew there was absolutely nothing I could want more than to talk about this game other than actually playing this game.  Hopefully I will be able to make up cognizant instead of the mindless blathering of approval that I could just type up here.  Because you all know, I could just type a whole bunch of worthless, filler words of praise just to make this exorbitantly long in an attempt to make up with quantity what I can't concisely say with quality.  You know this.

First off, let's go with the obvious in this trailer, yes?  Fetch is Laura Bailey.  I....pretty much just need to say that.  It's awesome, and needs no further explanation.

Secondly, I really do enjoy the way that they show off what appears to be Delsin's main "Default" power, Typhokinesis, the power over Smoke.  (Yes, that is apparently a thing, no, I don't know, yes, I googled it, no, I still don't know)  Delsin's power, obviously, is his Chameleon ability which allows him to absorb other powers and use them, but he's been shown primarily utilizing his smoke powers not only to blast things, but to explore so that kind of sets the theme for it.  It feels fairly similar to Cole's Electric Powers which is a good thing, but there's a clear difference to them as well that I'm sure will become more and more obvious as we see it all in action more and more.  Certainly the shadow jump or whatever you want to call it is a big deal right off, and will likely set the schism for them to expand from that.

And obviously, I really do enjoy them showing off the Chameleon ability in an interesting way.  The power that Delsin receives from Fetch is apparently Photokinesis, which is the ability to control and manipulate light.  Which...makes sense, what with the Neon signs and such.  It stands to wonder just -how many- sets of powers we're going to be looking at in the game proper.  Conduits in the first two inFamous games were common, even if they were more or less grouped by power (with the important people also being different in the power category) but to be able to have shifted to their powers at any point in the game would have been huge, which is....on Second Son's platter, I assume.  The DUP don't seem to be inclined to power, but the game isn't going to be -full- of power-less enemies I would hope, so being able to leech someone in battle is...hopefully a thing.  Something that I hadn't even considered.

Goddamnit, now I want this game even more.

is it wrong to hope that there will be an electricity conduit towards the end of the game that you get to leech and pay homage to Cole with

I Guess I Can Talk About the PS4

It amuses me that the PS4 had such a strong showing at Gamescom and I have completely and totally neglected it to talk about the Vita.  I could technically still talk about the Vita tonight, in some of the exclusives that were announced for it, but I will post-pone that because there was some very very important information dropped about the PS4 that deserves mentioning and speaking on.  I think part of my issue with it is that I'm just trying not to think about the PS4 because I can't get one at launch (well, I could but semantics) and I have just so many PS3 games that I want to play first.  So I basically just keep thinking that the PS4 isn't going to come out until some far off date in the future that I don't have to worry about.  Still, I suppose it's close enough that I know, stop doing that.

Anyway, the biggest news, clearly, is that the release date of the Playstation 4 is November 15th in North America, November 29th in Europe, where "Europe" means "PAL Territories" and numbers at 20 countries at least, as well as Latin America for the 29th.  That is, of course at the $399 Price-point that was mentioned beforehand and without any bundles unless you count the ones that Amazon and GameStop are putting together.  However, much like the Vita with Trophy Park, every Playstation 4 will launch with The Playroom pre-installed which is basically like Trophy Park in that the whole point of it is to show off the new features of the Playstation 4 in a fun, cute way.  Of course the one downside with that is the fact that some of the games require the PSEye....which actually isn't bundled in with the PS4.  But it's a free game that most people will probably ignore anyway because they'll grab a shiny new thing with their console and play that instead, so it's likely not a big loss.

They also announced like a metric damn ton of Indie games for not only the PS4, but the Vita and PS3 as well (as some will be releasing on all three, but most seem to be moving forward with PS4/Vita which is A-Okay), and it'll stun you to know that that list right there?  In that Playstation Blog post?  It's incomplete.  There's more games than that that were announced later and not edited in.  Were it that I could find a place that compiles the full list definitively, I'd link it here, and it probably exists but I don't think my poor heart could handle it.  Of course that is also neglecting to mention the -other- games that were announced, the ones that some would call right, proper games (because they're not Indies), like the Shadow of the Beast reboot, Rime from Tequila Works and Everybody's Gone to Rapture from thechineseroom (which may ore may not be Indie?) who are famous for Dear Esther and the up-coming Amnesia:  A Machine for Pigs which is a semi-sequel to Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Hell, there's probably other games, but I think you get my point.

One of the things that I personally loved about the PS4 news is not only the Playstation 4's UI, but the way that it was presented.  Shuhei Yoshida showed us the UI in probably the most brilliant way one -could- do such a thing at the start of the show, which is included above.  It is pretty much diametrically opposed to the way they were initially planning to show it off (?) maybe, I don't know, it says leaked and looks legit, but I just don't know anymore.  Technically, they probably -will- run with that commercial eventually, but the point is that we've had a good impression made with Yoshida.  The reasons are two-fold.  First off, Yoshida actually shows us the interface in motion as opposed to carefully selected shots for the trailer with far too much zoom, and secondly, he shows us how it performs under the conditions that we'll likely use it in.  We're far more likely to be reclining in a comfortable chair or couch or bed, lazily flitting through the menus and whatnot than we are to be sitting on the edge of our couch, earbud in place, constantly ready and vigilant and excited to purchase and download a game to assist a friend who is in similar conditions.  It shows that it simply works when all we want to do is relax and play video games which is just....the whole idea, really.  Doesn't really make for an exciting -thing- of course, but it in turn generates excitement -because- it works.

The launch window line-up, as if we haven't talked about games enough, was also more or less pinned down, coming in both Retail and PSN flavors.  It's easiest to just Copy/Paste, thus I shall do so.

  • Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (Ubisoft)
  • Battlefield 4 (EA)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (Activision)
  • Driveclub (SCE)
  • FIFA 14 (EA)
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall (SCE)
  • Knack (SCE)
  • Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft)
  • LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Warner Bros.)
  • Madden 25 (EA)
  • NBA 2K14 (2K Games)
  • NBA Live (EA)
  • Need for Speed: Rivals (EA)
  • Skylanders: Swap Force (Activision)
  • Watch Dogs (Ubisoft)
  • Basement Crawl (Bloober Team)
  • Blacklight: Retribution (Zombie Studio)
  • Contrast (Focus Home Interactive)
  • Counterspy (SCE)
  • Doki-Doki Universe (SCE)
  • DC Universe Online (SOE)
  • Flower (SCE)
  • Hohokum (SCE)
  • Minecraft (Mojang 4J Studios)
  • N++ (Metanet)
  • Pinball Arcade (Farsight Technologies)
  • Planetside 2 (SOE)
  • Pool Nation Extreme (Cherry Pop Games)
  • ResoGun (SCE)
  • Super Motherload (Xgen Studios)
  • Tiny Brains (Spearhead)
  • Warframe (Digital Extremes)
  • War Thunder (Gaijin Entertainment)
Basically, if you're looking for straight-up Playstation First-Party Exclusives to sway your decision one way or the other for whatever silly reason, you're basically looking at Knack, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Driveclub, DC Universe Online, Planetside 2 (both of these are 'kind-of' because they're on PC too) and Hohokum.  Everything else is presumed to be either third-party or third-party exclusive which isn't too bad.  That also isn't taking into account inFamous:  Second Son which hits in February 2014 and The Order: 1886 which will also likely release sometime in the early 2014 window.  You should really care about inFamous: Second Son and there is going to be another post explaining why, and definitely The Order: 1886 as well because it looks awesome.  This is also not taking into account whatever Naughty Dog and Sony's other First and Second Parties have up their sleeves.  Basically I'm saying you're to expect some big things on top of this massive wave of titles as well.

I'm pretty sure that that is a good swath of the Playstation 4 news from Gamescom and am comfortable with the knowledge that even if it's not and I missed some other things, that that is even more of a testament to the size of the event than I could emphasize here.  Because there is a -hell- of a lot of news in this post, and I honestly can't imagine there being a whole lot more.  Because that much awesome would hurt my brain, you see.

I just can't get over that UI video, it's just so simple, but goddamnit if that's not what I want to see

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gamescom Was a Nice Little Vita Show After All

A common worry going into Sony's Gamescome Event was that it was going to be an all-PS4 show.  That's not a far-fetched idea, given that the PS4 is the new hotness riding a wave of positive PR thanks to E3 and such, but everyone was hoping that the Vita would see some sort of acknowledgement, and we got that and then some.  We didn't get a sequel to Uncharted:  Golden Abyss announcement (unfortunately, this would've been the perfect time to announce it) or a Gravity Rush 2 announcement (which was always going to be TGS), but we got some good news nonetheless.  News that some people are prodding endlessly with a stick instead of just saying "Yeah, it's good" because we can't all agree on anything ever because why would we, but that's just the way of things.

Between the straight-up price-cut of the Vita itself and the lowered memory card prices, Sony managed to shave a very nice bit of the price off the lovely little portable.  A nice bit more than people actually realize, it seems, because they're not looking at the big picture.  The $50 price-cut of the Vita itself is steep and much nicer to think about, and each tier of the memory cards took a drop.  4 Gig dropped $5, 8 Gig dropped $10 and the 16 and 32 Gigs each dropped $20, meaning you're spending a right comparable amount of money picking up a Vita and a 16 Gig card versus a 3DSXL bundle.  My 3DS XL Bundle, the Animal Crossing one was ~$220 for the system, Animal Crossing (pre-loaded) and a 4 Gig stick (which was less than 4 gigs because Animal Crossing).  If you buy the shiny Walking Dead Vita Bundle for $200 (which comes with a 4 gig stick) and throw down $40 for a 16 gig stick, you have $240 invested in it, 4 times the storage for $20 extra.  Essentially, price parity is pretty nice and if when you throw in Playstation Plus for $50, you get a ridiculous amount of games for a year which makes the value shoot right up.  So yes, you spend a little more, but you get miles more than the money you spend unless you jump in the Wal-Mart deal, spend less and get a shitload of content.

People rail on and on that there's no reason for the proprietary cards and insane prices and, sorry, there is.  It's called the PSP.  Piracy was absolute bananas on the PSP and, unlike the DS, it actively squeezed out and over-shadowed actual purchases for the device, which is not something that Sony wanted a repeat of.  Games just didn't sell, but whenever they released, they were among the most pirated things on all the popular sites out there, so the age-old excuse of "if there were good games I -would- buy them" went right out the damn window.  Hell, Metal Gear Solid:  Peace Walker only sold 52,000 physical copies in America at launch which is ridiculous for a Metal Gear Solid game and especially as good of one as Peace Walker was.  Yet, there were far, far more people that played it than that - it's not like the DS was where a game got 23.34 Million sales (like Mario Kart DS, jesus) and got heavily pirated as well.  That's what I mean when I say that the actual buyers got squeezed out of the equation - the buyers just didn't compare at all to the people just straight-up downloading the games.  So that's why they went a more controlled route this go around.  Because you can't tell me that people would've bought games for a $250 Sony handheld if it was as easy to pirate as the PSP.

There was also the matter of games being announced for it, which is, you know, kind of importantBorderlands 2 came out of nowhere to see a release on the Vita sometime in 2014, brought to us by Iron Galaxy Studios, the team who developed DiveKick which just released this week. certainly a get for Sony, and it was alongside several other announcements for the Vita that I will defer to Chance for because I don't want to mine in Joystiq posts and cobble together a bunch of links.  Let's take a look at the list, shall we?
  • Age of Zombies (BlitWorks/Halfbrick)
  • A-Men 2 (Bloober Team)
  • Assault Android Cactus (Witch Beam)
  • Avoid Droid (Infinite State Games)
  • Broken Sword: the Serpent’s Curse (Revolution Software)
  • Eufloria HD (Omni Systems)
  • Fez (Polytron Corporation)
  • Final Horizon (Eiconic Games)
  • Flame Over (Laughing Jackal)
  • Gravity Crash Ultra (Just Add Water)
  • Gunslugs (Abstraction Games)
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital)
  • Joe Danger 1 (Hello Games)
  • Joe Danger 2 (Hello Games)
  • Kick & Fennick (Green Hill Studios)
  • Minecraft (4J Studios)
  • Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door Games)
  • Samurai Gunn (Teknopants)
  • Starbound (Chucklefish)
  • Supermagical (Tama Games)
  • Switch Galaxy Ultra (Atomicom)
  • Table Top Racing (Ripstone)
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Nicalis)
  • Volume (Mike Bithell)
  • Wasteland Kings (Vlambeer)
I had to add Minecraft and Starbound, the last of which is almost more impressive than Minecraft, because it's essentially Terraria ins Spaaaaaaaaace (one-half of the original two Terraria developers is making it), it has a ton of content, and there's absolutely no Vita Terraria sales data just yet, meaning it's a blind leap of faith and that's so appreciated.  Granted, all of those are games that are classified as "Indie", but as we've come to learn, that doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot in the grand scheme of things.  The prime gradient here is content and Minecraft, Terraria and Starbound at the very least are going to have those in spades, not to mention Rogue Legacy and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.  Those are just the games that I know a little about.  As you can see, there are a hell of a lot of other games on that list, and that's probably not even a complete list.  And this is all before TGS.  And before the PS4 launches and does Remote Play like a champ.

Yeah.  The Vita's gonna be just fine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Minecraft Vita is a Thing That is Happening

I...honestly never thought this was going to happen.  Truly.

A PS4 version of the game?  That was always in the cards.  It was inevitable.  A foregone conclusion.  Maybe a PS3 version.  That was definitely within the realm of possibility.  But a Vita version seemed so perfect, so good that it was not to be a reality.  A portable version of the game that wasn't the stripped-down Mobile version whose last big update was like, beds, which have been around for almost a year at that point?  It would be the stuff of legends.  And a PS4 version always meant that you -could- Minecraft on the go via Remote Play, but it would never be the same thing as, for one, you would have to have a reliable internet connection that wasn't 3G, which is sort of -not- something you can rely on.  It would have been better than nothing, but it never would have been a proper Vita version of Minecraft.

And to be fair, I may be jumping the gun here.  All that we know is that Minecraft in some iteration will be on the PS4, the PS3 and the Vita, but word of versions, builds or anything like that is just not present currently.  One could reason that the PS3 version will simply be the 360 version with the updates its received by now (and by the PS3 launch) baked in, and that the PS4 version will basically be the already announced XBox One Edition (which will basically just have bigger worlds, though likely not infinite, and just run smoother and such), but where does that leave the Vita version?  Given how similar architecture apparently is between the PS3 and Vita (though friendlier than the PS3 by a wide margin), it should be a simple enough matter to simply make the Vita version the PS3 one with the necessary tweaks and whatnot, or maybe even just cut down the PS4 version a bit since the PS4 and Vita are apparently a lot alike as well.  But I am ever the cynic here and this is something that I have yearned for, so I have to assume that there is a catch of some sort.

As we know there is a mobile version of the game for cellphones.  And as we know, there is that whole Playstation Mobile thing on the Vita (and other things) that a lot of people (rightly) care about because it's a very small barrier of entry.  What worries me here, clearly, is that the version of Minecraft that the Vita gets will be the heavily neglected Pocket Edition (as it's actually called) instead know, a proper version.  Because that would still technically be Minecraft on the Vita and it would simultaneously be the biggest dickpunch and misdirection in recent memory for me at least.  Okay, maybe not the biggest, but a pretty big one.  On the one hand, I don't think it's possible because nobody really considers the Pocket Edition a proper version yet, but on the other hand, it's easy, and Playstation Mobile is right there and people -are- trying to push it at the same time as everything else.  This is clearly not the way you want to push it, and I'm fairly certain that the folks in charge understand that (because Shahid is awesome) but it's definitely not outside the realm of possibility.

Still, it's better to dream when you can, and I've been dreaming about Minecraft on my Vita forever since it just makes sense to have a giant sandbox building playground on something that you'll want to have on you all the time.  So it just makes sense to have it be a proper version that you'll want to sink your teeth into and build dramatic things, and especially because the Vita is a proper power machine in its own right.  It just makes -sense- to give it a version comparable to the ones on Consoles, but I just can't believe whole-heartedly.  Terraria was announced for the Vita to my surprise and wonderment and I haven't heard word one of that lately, yet not too long after that announcement was one for Terraria Mobile for Cellphones which I'm hoping is purely coincidental.  As stated, however, that's just the cynic in me speaking and I highly doubt that -both- building games that I wanted will end up being some incarnation that I won't want to touch with a ten foot pole.  I choose to believe it won't work out that way because that way just doesn't make sense.

oh yeah, a bunch of other stuff got announced too, but I will talk about that later

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dragon Fantasy Book II Has a Release Date - And There Was Much Rejoicing

Thanks to the announcement of the new Vita Summer Select at the Playstation Blog, we now have a release date and pricing information about the upcoming Dragon Fantasy Book II.  On September 10th, we'll all finally be able to get the sequel to the fabulous Dragon Fantasy Book I that I adored, even though I never got around to reviewing it properly to say as much, for the price of $14.99 or, if you're a Playstation Plus Member (because you should be) then it'll be $11.99.  If I'm not mistaken, the original was under the same sort of discount deal, so this is all sorts of wonderful going on here.  It's only for the launch week, however, so you'll want to grab it ASAP because it's going to be so good, you guys.

To be honest, Dragon Fantasy is basically going through my childhood and making everything wonderful again.  Book I took after Dragon Warrior which was pretty much -the- RPG I played on the NES, and Book II is taking after Chrono Trigger which I talk about a lot and might just be my favorite RPG of all time.  The same 16-bit art style, the same on-map battles (meaning no random encounters), Area of Effect attacks and so on, they're all included in Book II which makes it really tantalizing to -me- at least, but you should definitely be interested in it yourself as well.  Book I proved that it can be a capable, enjoyable RPG, but Book II might just end up being a proper evolution into something great, and that's definitely why I'm looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, my brain is not cooperating with me tonight as I've had a headache for several hours, so I'm not going to be very wordy.  I just wanted to bring up Book II's release date and price and convey that I am quite excited for it.  Because I am.  And I'm going to buy it.  Perhaps even review it.  And the original.  Hopefully.

nothing wrong with shorter posts every now and then, or at least that's what I keep telling myself

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Touch My Katamari is Pretty Good

Tonight was not my first exposure to Katamari since that honor was given to the demo for Touch My Katamari around when the Vita launched.  It was a really fun demo because the core mechanics of the game are pretty solid and the demo level had some really interesting layout and music that made it rather memorable.  It was because of the demo that I went "Yeah, I'm going to buy this game at -some- point", yet that point never came until today.  Thanks to the fantastic Japanese Game Sale going on, I grabbed the game for $3.75 and I do not regret it even a little bit.  (I also bought Atelier Totori Plus as I said I would, but I don't have 3 Gigs free and I need space for the Killzone Mercenary Beta anyway)  I thought about it and realized that even though I played the demo like fifty times, I didn't really say a -lot- about it.  Yeah, I mean, I said two paragraphs about it all that time ago, but now I have the game proper and it's fresh and new (to me) so I should go a little deeper.

If you're not quite sure what a Katamari is, I have to assume that you're not really up on the niche stuff which is sort of an assumption one can make because of the whole definition of that and whatnot.  Regardless, it was a series that I knew of for a while even if I didn't play a single iteration of it until this one on the Vita.  Basically what the game is about is rolling a ball that captures things on it to make it bigger so you can roll up bigger things.  Like a snowball effect, except you're eventually rolling up cars and people and being a general menace to society by making a gigantic ball of chaos.  Some missions there's a time limit to make as big of a ball as you can, some missions there's an amount of things that you have to collect, and some missions, it's just about getting to a particular size.  Eventually, I think there's a mode where you can just roll up everything and that will be amazing if it's true and I want it, but I'm good with what I've got for now.

It is very....quirky.  Quirky isn't the right word, of course, but it's the only one I can think of without saying "Japanese" and getting all sorts of negative connotations leveled at me.  Even though you all know what I mean, you bastards.  You're the Prince under the King of All Cosmos who is in a guy in too tight tights asking you to make giant balls of things that he can eat and turn into stars.  Please, go into your own minds and think of an appropriate word for that scenario as it lays out.  Try to blame me, I dare you.  Aside from that, there's all sorts of weird animated cutscenes that go on betwixt the missions, which are presented to you by talking to people who are standing on the hat of the King of All Cosmos while also ignoring gravity.  All the missions seem to involve bettering the King in some fashion, either by making a Katamari that has a lot of sports equipment to make him get out more, or a lot of rich things to make him look better off than he is, but really, it's all about rolling a ball around and making it bigger and bigger and bigger.

That works.  It's simple and it's far more enjoyable and engrossing than you might think.  All you're doing is rolling around the Katamari and picking up things so you can pick up bigger things as stated, but there's just something -to- it.  You roll by a King Chess Piece and say "No, too big for now", yet keep it in mind as you roll up about twenty toothpicks, six coins and some batteries that have been progressively larger.  By the time you see the Chess Piece again, you barrel right on through to pick it up because you're big enough now, and thanks to that, you're big enough for something else and so on and so on.  It's that sort of driving force that doesn't make it quite strategic, but distinctly gives the game structure that allows you to play around within those admittedly expansive confines.  Structure that you will eventually roll over to bring into your latest Katamari that will be as large as the day is long, and make a rather impressive star that burns twice as bright.

As stated, there's a demo of the game on the Playstation Store and while the game is $3.75 (only until the store updates on Tuesday) you should give it a shot.  Worst that will happen is the charm, the music (which is fantastic) and the game itself will fail to grab you and you won't spent less than four bucks on something.  Or, depending on your outlook, you'll love it and have to spend less than four bucks on it which is not that big of an issue either.  Basically I'm just saying that there's very little to be lost and potentially a lot to be gained here.  It's not a particularly big game, but it offers a lot of replayability once new modes open up and give you new incentive to try out the previous stages again.  And again, it's less than four bucks for a few more days.  I feel I have to stress that, while also reminding you that there are other games in the Japanese Game Sale that you should also buy like Soul Sacrifice which you should buy because I'm telling you to buy Soul Sacrifice.  Subtly.  Subliminal messaging.

roll up allll of the things!

Friday, August 16, 2013

PSA: There is an Amazing Vita Sale Going On

Completely out of the blue, the Playstation Blog announced a sale this previous Monday that would go live this past Tuesday and carry over into next week's store update on Tuesday where different titles are switched in.  As someone who loves his Vita so much who wants other people to similarly love their Vitas, I would be remiss if I didn't bring it up at least once, so that is what I'm doing here.  The sale is the Japanese Games Sale which is appropriate because a lot of the games that are really good on the Vita are Japanese (though there are notable exceptions, of course) and quite a few of them are included in the sale in one vein or the other.  Of course, it would just be easiest to sort what the sale is and -then- talk about it first.

August 13th – 19th

Regular Price
Sale Price
Plus Price
Soul Sacrifice
Gravity Rush
Sumioni: Demon Arts
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus
Guilty Gear Accent XX Core + R
Atelier Totori Plus
Silent Hill Book of Memories
Touch My Katamari
Ridge Racer

August 20th – 26th

Regular Price
Sale Price
PS Plus Price
Street Fighter X Tekken
Muramasa Rebirth
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
New Little King’s Story
Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Ragnarok Odyssey
Dynasty Warriors Next
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Super Monkey Ball
As stated, the first batch of titles will be only be on sale until next Tuesday, where another batch of fantastic games will take over and threaten your wallet with all the fury of a thousand purchases.  Or something along those lines. 

One thing that I do want to emphasize so much that I started a new paragraph for it is that I want you to buy Soul Sacrifice.  As you know, I really enjoyed it and I want a sequel which is only going to happen if more people buy it.  So buy it.  At $17.49, it's practically a steal (even if some of the other games in the sale are literally a steal) and it has hours upon hours upon hours of content to keep you coming back for more, not counting the batches of free DLC that have come out for it.  Which I don't even think are -done- by the way.  So the game is there and then some and I cannot say enough that I want you to buy it because I love it and I know that I'm not going to be alone in this.  It's one of those games that I will eventually Platinum because I just want to really badly, even if it's going to take a ridiculous amount of effort.

Other things I'm going to pick up personally include Atelier Totori Plus, which Chance assures me is very cute and well worth the sub-$20 pricetag on it and Touch My Katamari because that name, the demo is amazing and I have just wanted it for a while, so $3.75 is absurdly reasonable.  I briefly considered Guilty Gear, but I don't like Fighting Games as a rule, and I already have BlazBlue attached to my account and I really want to play that...when I have 3 gigs free which isn't going to be anytime soon, I can assure you of that, unfortunately.  If I liked Diablo-like games, I would certainly pick up Silent Hill:  Book of Memories since I enjoyed the demo for it and....even as it stands, I still might.  It's a weird, neat little game and it's something that I want to like, and am assured by some sources that it's something that is indeed likable, but I just haven't reconciled that with my brain just yet.

The following week is when it gets a bit ridiculous.  Muramasa: Rebirth just came out not too long ago and for $21, you're getting a crazy good deal.  Similarly the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for Vita, while it lacks Peace Walker, is still twice the price it'll be on sale for and even if you're just looking for one or the other, it's simply easier to buy both because they're both fantastic games.  Just pretend you're getting one for free if you need any more convincing than that.  While I have my complaints and whinges about Dynasty Warriors Next, sub-$9 is a good price for just about anything, and it -is- based on Dynasty Warriors 7 which was the best Dynasty Warriors game before 8 came out (which I have yet to play even though I bought it on release day auuuugh).  So if that's something you're interested in at all, it might not be a bad idea so long as you're not a Trophy addict.  Honestly, there's not a bad game in the second week of sales aside from perhaps Super Monkey Ball (which I don't think I've heard a single positive thing about) and New Little King's Story which is purely dependent on your tastes, I believe.  (Have heard mixed things about it, myself)

Regardless, the prices are amazing, the games are great and it's a sale that is geared specifically towards getting you to enjoy your Vita more than you already do.  Unless you already own like -all- of the games in the sale in which case you are probably enjoying your Vita just fine enough.  Because you also likely have Persona 4 Golden which means you're not even reading this because you're still playing it because it's so good.  So please, if you're one of those folks complaining there aren't enough things for the Vita (or know someone who is saying that) direct your attention to the storefront for the next two weeks and gorge yourself on something great for a price that won't hurt.

but no seriously, at least buy Soul Sacrifice

Grand Theft Auto Online Looks Amazing

So, last month, I pointed out that seeing a Gameplay Trailer for Grand Theft Auto V made me really excited for the game, to the point where I didn't quite know how it could get better.  If you would have told me that it would get better with the Multi-Player Portion of it, I would have called you silly, but damned if it didn't happen.  I'm not sure if it would be better for you to watch the above video first to see what I mean, or if you should read the Overview from the official site first to give context to the video before you see it, so I'm just going to give you both and let you decide.  Either way, both need to be consumed by your brain in some fashion, I urge this at least, so keep that in mind.
Grand Theft Auto Online is a dynamic and persistent online world for 16 players that begins by sharing gameplay features, geography and mechanics with Grand Theft Auto V, but will continue to expand and evolve after its launch with new content created by Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto community. Grand Theft Auto Online takes the fundamental Grand Theft Auto concepts of freedom, ambient activity and mission-based gameplay and makes them available to multiple players in an incredibly detailed and responsive online world.
In Grand Theft Auto Online, players have the freedom to explore alone or with friends, work cooperatively to complete missions, band together to participate in activities and ambient events, or compete in traditional game modes with the entire community, all with the personality and refined mechanics of Grand Theft Auto V.
Players can invest in their character through customizing their appearance, improving their stats, owning customized vehicles, purchasing personal property, and taking part in missions, jobs and activities to earn reputation and cash to open up new opportunities to rise through the criminal ranks. The world of Grand Theft Auto Online will constantly grow and change as new content is added, creating the first ever persistent and dynamic Grand Theft Auto game world.
Access to Grand Theft Auto Online is free with every retail copy of Grand Theft Auto V and launches on October 1st.
The keywords here are "dynamic" and "persistent online world" which are things that have been thrown around here lately for other such things like Destiny and possibly TitanFall, which are meant solely to imply something of an MMO-experience without stating it's going to be an MMO.  But let's face it - Destiny is an MMO, so is TitanFall kind of and GTAO is going to basically be a Grand Theft MMO, and you know what?  That's fine.  Excellent, even.  It's sort of one of those things that you never knew you wanted until it was thrust into your face and then all you wanted was to feast upon its wonder and splendor.  Or, you know, something that sounds a little less weird.
Grand Theft Auto IV's online portion was entertaining in its own right - giving you the ability to free roam the entirety of Liberty City with your buddies doing whatever the hell you pleased, but its short-coming was that there was....not that much to -do-.  There were multi-player modes you could join, sure, things that were specifically there to foster a multi-player mentality, but if you wanted to just faff about, then that's all you -could- do.  Have little impromptu drag races that aren't scored except with your collective imaginations.  See who can launch themselves the furthest from a motorcycle thanks to the wonderful physics engine.  Things that, while entertaining, were things that you had to figure on yourself.  That is where Grand Theft Auto Online's MP sounds as if it's going to shine, and where the MMO portion of it comes into play in practice.

Quests Missions that you can take with a crew of others, possibly -against- other crews, dynamic mini-missions like being able to properly knock over small stores (which I think I only did in Vice City, but I imagine you could do it in San Andreas and -maybe- IV as well?  Probably not) and take on other such activities has a wealth of potential.  It lends some legitimacy and depth to the experience overall when there's something to work towards (getting money and property) and having easy and fun avenues towards that (mini-jobs like robbery and proper missions), and that would be fine on its own.  Add to that the 'experience' of GTA with the little vignettes of characters (actual fleshed-out ones) telling you where to go and why, giving you back-story on the situation, and it's truly going to be something to look out for.  Hell, it might even be something fun to much around with on your -own- if it's as involved and dynamic as it seems (which might be how I deal with it regardless, what with the crap internet and all)

The only 'hitch' involved with GTAO is the fact that it's not actually going to launch alongside Grand Theft Auto V, despite being something that you can technically access from the disk, presumably.  Which I'm hoping does not mean (yet thinking that it does mean) that the game will be available as a download after-the-fact that's not even included in the game's hefty mandatory installation (8 gigs!) for both PS3 and 360.  I'm hoping that that installation is, of course, putting aside a lot of room -for- GTAO, in which you'll only have to download the 'access key' once it goes live on October 1st and updates/patches thereafter, but I'm wary and I'll reserve the right to wonder until we get a little clarification on that.  Regardless, so long as GTAV and GTAO combined don't take up an absurd amount of Hard Drive space, it shouldn't be too much of an issue, and from what I've seen here, it'll be worth it and any hassle that it might bring.

oh man, I just want to be the wheelman for a bunch of thefts, that would be so awesome

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More More Microsoft News

I'm gonna be honest here - I'm getting a bit tired of posting XBone news.  I had to search for the new box art picture instead of using the same old image I tag the XBone posts with (you know the one) just to switch it up a bit.  The obvious response is "Well, then just don't post the news, duh" and yeah, it is kind of obvious, but, well, there ain't shit else going on and a few pieces of news came together that made for an interesting little chat.  So I figured I'd do it and then hopefully get it out of my system and then hopefully we'll get some news about other things, since just about all of it has been about the XBone and not a near-bit of it very positive.  I've been one of the people who have been, uh, vocally against what the XBone was in its original inception, of course, and I remain one of the unswayed by Microsoft's furious back-peddling and desperate attempts for further affection, but even I've basically lost the verve and the concern with which to talk about the XBone in any manner, even negative.

First up in the parade of bad news and worse decisions, one of the other main things that folks have been clamoring about regarding the XBone from the onset of it, even alongside the whole DRM nonsense.  The Kinect 2.0, as it's been dubbed, was previously listed as required for the XBone to do basic things like function whatsoever, which people didn't like for one reason or another.  "The room is too small for it to be utilized", "there's 'no good use for Kinect'", "I don't want it constantly watching and listening to me and even though you can turn it 'off', how off is it really?" and such things, which are valid concerns in one way or another.  While there wasn't going to be some sort of NSA situation going on, there was and still is, I suppose, a very real chance of Kinect 'spying' on you to direct you towards ads that it thinks you want to see, which is almost and oxymoron because nobody wants ads, even if they're advertising the brand of coffee you drink in the morning or the brand of chips you snack on at night.

Obviously, all that build-up is to simply say that the Kinect is no longer required except in the rare case that a game requires Kinect, of course.  Which will be few and far in-between as even Microsoft's Kinect Sports thing was delayed til a few months or more after launch, meaning the number of games that -require- Kinect at launch will be zero I believe.  Of course, the bigger thing is that unless you're planning on talking to your XBone, waving at your TV or playing that new Harmonix game that I can't be bothered to search the name of, you can safely leave the Kinect that will be included in your XBone box right where it is, since absolutely everything about it appears optional now aside from its purchase.  The announcement made a lot of people think that the Kinect could safely be taken out of the box from the getgo, resulting in a hefty price drop, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen.  This is less of an issue of programming and whatnot, and more of an issue of they've probably already started mass-producing the things, so they're -going- to be in the damn boxes whether you like it or not.  Similarly, others have been suggesting that -down the line- there will be a Kinect-less box after the initial 'shove Kinect down everyone's throat' phase and I'm...not inclined to believe in that either.  It's a game of too little time at this point now, and while Microsoft has been screwing the pooch left and right here, splitting things up like that would be silly even for them.  I think.

Speaking of mass-production and shipping, the XBone was initially supposed to launch in 21 Markets, and that number has been reduced to 13 surprising absolutely nobody.  Given that they're still throwing things in the box as shown by the unboxing vid that let slip the Chat Headset that was previously going to be sold separately, but I guess they just decided to throw them in since they were already manufacturing them as well.  Really, it's -far- easier to -include- things than it is to take them out which is why I'm saying that the Kinect is going to stay in for the launch bundles at the very least.  (Also because the unboxing video kind of...well, makes it 'official', I should think)  What with production apparently going on at the moment, though not quite as fast or well as they would like it to be going and all.  What's curious about that is that I can't help but wonder if those countries are going to be the ones where the console -launches- or if they're going to be the ones where the console -launches- and XBox Live for it is up and functional, meaning the region-free aspect of it would be quite moot otherwise.  There is the whole matter of that Day-One Firmware update for the console as well as the update that Forza 5 will require to be a functioning game that will be unavailable to those were Live for the XBone isn't supported.

And while we're on the topic of XBox Live (geez, it's almost like I put thought into the flow of this post), there was a little announcement kind of good?  It actually seems a bit redundant and dumb, but it's not actively harmful or out-right silly like some of the other bits of news, so it gets a pass, I suppose.  A season pass, actually, because I am so clever since the news is that the XBone has a "Season Pass Guarantee", meaning that every time you buy a (supported) 360 game with a Season Pass, you will be able to access the Season Pass content if you then buy the game again on your XBone.  Why you would do that is....quite a bit beyond me (unless the game is just really good and only gets better on the Next-Gen machines for some reason), but it is rather nice that the option is -there-.  Though I do believe GameStop is going to offer some sort of "upgrade" trade-in thing so that you get so much credit towards an XBone version of a game for the 360 version, which makes the offer a whole lot more tantalizing if you're into that sort of thing.

Aside from trying to assuage some RROD-type fears by stating that the XBone will fix itself when it's overheating, there's not a whole lot of other news about the thing which is great, since that was a lot to cover when I didn't even really want to do it in the first place.  With any luck, that should be all the XBone-related news from now until Gamescom which like a week.  Great.  Regardless, Microsoft's presentation will be a short one, though they're hyping it up to be something big.  I guess we'll see what comes of it, but until then, I will hopefully not have to type the words "XBone", "Kinect" or other such things again.  After all, can we know, find some other news to make a big deal about?  There should be more news-worthy things, it's almost the end of Summer!  Almost.

honestly, I probably shouldn't write about it because I'm so whiny, but I want to write -things- and it's like the only topic there is some days

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sony, This is Not How You Do a Price Drop

The 'Super Slim' Model of the PS3 isn't anything new, having been around since September, so just under a year, and it's quite obvious that it's going to be the last way to get a PS3 unless, you know, you do some online shopping or find a store that just so happens to have a regular Slim (or even rarer, a late-model 'phat').  Initially, this posed something of a nagging issue as the Super Slim was introduced at the exact same price-point of the regular Slim with neither of them taking a price-cut.  People started questioning the worth if it and, well, rightly so, since there was no real price difference or anything.  Traditionally there...are changes and such when this type of thing goes down.  But whatever, everyone just sort of ignored it and assumed the price would quietly be dropped down at some point and any late-comers could grab a PS3 on the cheap-ish to enjoy some of the great exclusives that the PS3 offered this generation.  It's only now, almost a full year later, that we see a Super Slim model at a lowered price-point and it is, uh...less than ideal.

The new 12 Gig (Solid State/Flash memory versus Hard Disk Drive) Super Slim will debut at $199.99 in North America and even it is not a new thing on the market.  This model of the Super Slim was previously exclusive to European and Hong Kong regions and for some reason it didn't die a horrible death of obscurity in the meanwhile as Sony moved further and further into digital ventures.  If it's not patently obvious, I question its existence in the first place and further wonder why it's re-emerging since it seems....quite a bit senseless if I'm being honest here.  Clearly, I'm not in the minority of people questioning it either, but what really bugs me is that it effectively kills any chance of a proper PS3 being put on sale for any less than the $270 pricetag it's currently sporting (generally with bundles and the like).  As someone who is basically in the market for a new PS3 because I am just tired of worrying about my 80 gig, I was hoping to find a nice budgeted version at some point considering I have spent about $570 on -just- PS3s (my original purchase, plus a YLOD replacement refurb) and the idea of setting that further up to $840 is...distasteful to say the least.

The common defense I'm basically seeing for the thing is that the Flash Memory isn't in the same place where the HDD bay is, so you can theoretically buy this model, buy a 1-2 TB drive and slap it right home.  Easily.  So easily that Sony even gives you instructions on the topic and whole-heartedly encourage the process.  The issue here is that, yes, you could spend about $70 on a 1TB and have precisely twice the space of a 500 gig that will run you $270, but I don't care I don't wanna fiddle with shit.  Selfish reason, granted since the pragmatic approach would be to do just that if it's even possible (I don't see why it wouldn't be), but just because you -can- do something doesn't mean you should, nor should you -have- to when it comes to circumstances like these.  Yet the problem is that you're still paying the same price regardless when the hope know, for something less.  Which says nothing for the recently-deserved fear of consoles with higher-capacity HDDs becoming useless after Firmware updates until, you know fixed versions come out which you'll have to plop in through Safe mode and blah blah blah, nonsense.

Maybe it was silly of me to think that there was going to be a proper price-drop for the system in the looming wake of the PS4's release, considering there's going to be a 500 Gig GTAV Bundle for $270 (which, hell, I might just look into because I'm getting GTAV anyway and it's just a pack-in game with a new system and 500 gigs of space) coming out in September which is just...months (perhaps even -a- month) before the PS4 releases proper.  Of course, the PS3 is going to be a necessity regardless of the PS4's launch given the unfortunate lack of backwards compatibility (which is completely understandable, but still).  That is likely the reason for a non-drastic drop and instead something along the lines of this 12-gig silliness.  Much like the 4 Gig XBox 360, it honestly has no place in this world (even if the 12 gig is 'better' because you don't have to pay for proprietary memory like the 360) and it....just annoys me that it exists.  Oh well.  Never let it be said that I'm not willing to call Sony out on stupid things, I suppose.

honestly I kind of just want a new PS3 with lots of space so I can download my PS+ games for the stupid amount of time it'll take and not worry about the thing catching fire...or just using the warranty if it does

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On Heroes and Their Portrayals in Games

Mogs note:  There are various spoilers within about several games, each of which has a little heads-up beforehand.

One of the various things that have been rolling around in my head lately is thanks almost solely to the Neverwinter Nights 2 LP I've been reading over the past few nights, which I just finished last night.  Neverwinter Nights 2, for those who are unaware, is a game made by Obsidian using the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons with all the trappings you expect from an Obsidian game.  It's buggy, flawed and rushed to completion, yes, but it's also intelligent and interesting in the way it goes about several types of things regarding party balance, morality and the story's take on that and more.  At least, in concept and theory it is, since there are all sorts of things that change based on whether your character is Evil or Good, Lawful or Chaotic, Male or Female, but where it falls flat is that even if you're playing a Lawful Evil character (as the LPer did), you're still getting treated as if you're a hero at the end of the game simply because of one bit of plot armor.  So it feels like a game where you -can- be Evil, and the game goes "well isn't that neat", though it expects you to be Good.

Of course, it's not an unfair thing to expect.  In games, when given the option to be Good or Evil, a majority of players swing towards Good for one reason or another.  Sometimes it's simply because we've been conditioned by games that don't offer such choices, sometimes it's because the benefits of being Good simply outweigh those of being Evil, and sometimes it's simply because games don't offer enough potential for Evil to make it truly worth it.  Whatever the reason, players will generally dedicate their first (if not only) playthrough of a game to the 'good' side when one is offered, which leads to things like inFamous:  Second Son making the Good Ending canon "because more people chose it", despite that....not being a very effective barometer for the reasons discussed therein the post under that link.  (With spoilers, be careful)  Everyone just expects the main character to be good because they're the main character, so of course they're going to be good.

That's why I chose to lead this post with a picture of everybody's favorite Badass, Big Boss from several Metal Gear Solid games.  Now, it's been long enough, I think from the original Metal Gear that I don't have to spoiler tag certain things about it, but I did sort of give you a little warning there.  As we all know, Big Boss is the Main Bad Guy™ of Metal Gear, whom Solid Snake eventually defeats and presumably kills.  (And we know it doesn't take and Big Boss is the inevitable Main Bad Guy of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake as well)  The reason this is important, of course, is because with three games that have Metal Gear Solid titles attached to them, we play as Big Boss (or, well, the man as he -becomes- Big Boss) and he is always portrayed as something of a heroic figure, even if the context isn't quite so kind.  What I'm saying, basically, is that he's never been portrayed as the Antagonist just yet, even though we all know he is eventually supposed to get to that point.  I can't even cry retcon as much and as loudly as I want to because the original Metal Gear games were provided with both the Subsistence version of Metal Gear Solid 3, but the recent HD remakes as well, as a clear intention for the player to get to know Big Boss as he will eventually be.

Of course, both halves of the game that we'll colloquially know as Metal Gear Solid 5 (Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes) will feature Big Boss yet again as the protagonist (for most of the games, I suspect, but not all), so maybe we will finally reach that point.  In all honesty, there's no getting around it - Big Boss has to eventually be shown in his fall from his past, his morals and his past ambitions to get to the point where he's at in Metal Gear 1.  Peace Walker (and to a lesser degree, Portable Ops) are a good start when you look at the context over the portrayal (namely the fact that you're kidnapping and brainwashing soldiers to your cause in building up what is eventually known as Outer Haven, with the caveat being that the cause seems noble), but it's not quite there.  I don't need Big Boss to grow a mustache and start twirling the end of it, of course, but there has to be a point where we look at Big Boss and collectively realize that "wow, this is Not a Good Guy™" before he is -finally- the Big Boss that we know him to be.

What's interesting in that realization is that it lead straight to another one for me.  One that does sort of bolster my confidence in the ability of it happening within the confines of Metal Gear Solid 5 somehow.  It's not much of a spoiler to say as much, but over the course of Metal Gear Rising:  REVENGEANCE (For which I have previously mentioned a fan survey suggesting a sequel that can be found on the main Metal Gear Solid website) you come to the realization that Raiden is honestly Not a Good Guy.  It's not even in the vein of something that I can call subtle, and it's only down-played by the fact that you're up against enemies who are pursuing what can be called an actively evil goal.  I do get confused as to who did what now when it comes to the game, but I am -fairly- certain that they more or less maintained a story that Kojima made for the game, even if there were certain changes made to it (such as setting it after MGS4, rather than before it).  Essentially, while it's not subtle and while it's in the confines of over-the-top awesome things, which REVENGEANCE is full of, it does give me confidence that we can be pointed to Main Bad Guy Big Boss over the course of MGS5, which I look forward to quite a bit.

The problem that I have with games in general is that there simply aren't enough games where you are playing someone who is genuinely Not a Good Guy by the end of it.  And even when we do, they're often of...dubious quality (apparently I have never written anything substantial about [Prototype] as I was going to link it here.  Huh.) which more or less defeats the point.  But I'm less interested at this point in games where you play someone who is a bad guy (like [Prototype]) and more interested in a game that actually lets you be the Hero for the whole game until the end where things take a turn and force you off the heroic path for reasons that are...well, understandable.  That in itself is rather difficult to accomplish, because you're dealing with extremes here - Good is Good, Evil is Evil and for the most part, they're generally all set up as things that are absolutes, barring the backstab that most games have to inevitably have.  And not without reason - while good characters do bad things and bad characters do good things, it's always presented as just that, not a redemption or a fall, but a faceted approach.

Honestly, it takes a lot of pacing and a lot of nuance to pull off, so it's no wonder most games don't even dream of attempting it, especially when it's easier and more dramatic to have an asspull Face-Heel Turn that is then conveniently explained away by a few plot points in a very loose interpretation of the events contained therein.  I think that is basically why I can't think of any examples that show off exactly what I want from a game along these lines, because there's not really anything that you -can- list off that fits into the archetypes.  There are a few examples that you guys know I like to throw around about excellent characters because they're Not Good Guys even if it is a bit spoilery.  Caim, from Drakengard, doesn't fit however because even though he is an antagonist in Drakengard 2 (and fucking awesome, and done with taking shit from anybody), honestly -everyone- in Drakengard 2 is an antagonist since the main party is trying to un-make the world (same as Caim) and the people trying to defend the Seals are unrepentant assholes.  And there is the stand-by of Kain from the Legacy of Kain games because the 'Evil Ending' of the first game is canon which sculpts the rest of the series, but Kain, similar to Caim, was never a Hero.  His entire story is revenge and selfishness, so the 'Evil Ending' obviously makes sense because he is Not a Nice Guy.

All I really want is a two-part series (or more, but at least two parts) in which you play as the hero for the first part and play out his fall from grace in a way that is entirely believable, and the second part, you play as someone who has to take him out.  I know this has to exist in some fashion somewhere, but I'm not sure if it's actually in the way that I'm thinking of it.  I also know that there's a lot of games that have a setting where the main villain is a fallen hero, but that doesn't really count because you don't really get to see the villain before he became as such.  You don't get to feel as the hero feels, and you don't get to understand, even if you disagree, with his fall.  And you will likely disagree with the fall, but it will be understandable.  Not something like "The Empire is also evil" or "I was tricked by a witch" or something like that, but just a genuine temptation from evil for something that is obvious and reasonable.  Someday, I will find these games and it will be an awesome day indeed, but until then I fear I'll just have to make do with my lovely anti-heroes which are neat all the same.

Jack the Ripper is still so awesome because REVENGEANGE is so awesome you guys