Sunday, November 30, 2008

No FAllout 3 DLC for PS3

in a move that, at this point, shouldn't surprise PS3 owners......

Bethesda announced the first official downloadable content, Operation: Anchorage, will be available exclusively for the Xbox 360. as well as two other content packs coming in the early part on 2009.

Three downloadable content packs will be coming to Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live starting in January that will add new quests, items, and content to Fallout 3.

* Operation: Anchorage. Enter a military simulation and fight in one of the greatest battles of the Fallout universe – the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska from its Chinese Communist invaders. An action-packed battle scheduled for release in January.
* The Pitt. Journey to the industrial raider town called The Pitt, located in the remains of Pittsburgh. Choose your side. Scheduled for release in February.
* Broken Steel. Join the ranks of the Brotherhood of Steel and rid the Capital Wasteland of the Enclave remnants once and for all. Continues the adventure past the main quest. Scheduled for release in March.

sucks for me because i really, really, really, really like fallout 3 and i'm having a good time playing it. i plan to play it through again as a bad guy and again when trophies show up. but it really sucks because the broken steel mission sounds awesome. but, again, as a PS3 owner you get used to things like this. i'm sure at some point, DLC will show up. it happened with oblivion.....eventually.

on the bright side, it'll give me more time to play resident evil 5 and killzone 2. and finish studying for school. you know, that old chestnut.......


J.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Deck 11/27: turkeyed out and off work edition

another thanksgiving over. another couple days off work. days off work equal games getting played. hope you got some good food in your mouth holes and some good gaming in between eating, hanging out with relatives and passing out after eating too much stuffing. with x-mas coming quick and a few more games coming soon, i've got my plate full with some great games. and let's start.....

Skate

with skate 2 coming really soon, i figured i'd better dust the game off and bone up on my 360 kickflips. at this point, i've gotten to a point were i'm faced with alot of challenges i can't, for the life of me, pass. so, i've taken to making videos and taking photos of cool poses (see photo) and whatnot. you can check them out here. i still ok, but just like in real life, bailing ten times in a row trying to grind a huge rail in old town got me almost throwing my dualshock. so, i went back to the standard time killer in my house.....

Fallout 3

never saw that coming, did you? i've been working through the main storyline, but once it started felling like i was going forward too fast, i veered off the main path and started going toward the areas of the map i hadn't been to. alot of crazy wildlife out in the wastelands. i've finally found the shishkabob, or better said, the flame sword, the Lincoln Repeater and the dart gun. the dart gun cripples the target on each hit. makes it fairly easy to get away from the Deathclaws. at this point, Deathclaws are the hardest enemies i've found so far. so i, as a smart gamer, go right into the Deathclaw sanctuary. word on the street is that there is a big fucking gun, not unlike the......big fucking gun in doom, somewhere inside. at last play, i've almost been killed in there. i'm going to try to run though it without getting killed tonight. if you don't have this game.....what the fuck is wrong with you? really. tell me. i want to know.......

Warhawk

i jumped back in to warhawk as my "race to trophy level 5" campaign. i reallized that i'm pretty rusty. flying and dogfighting landed me shot the fuck down. i decided to play my favorite multiplayer variant, capture the flag. i managed to get the "hitlist" trophy for killing everyone on the other team at least once. what can i say, Proximity Mines are awesome when you know how to use them. after 45 minutes, i jumped out to play another trophy heavy game......

Burnout Paradise

again, after re-acquainting myself with driving in Paradise, i set out to rock some road rage. i did very poorly in my last outing, so i was primed for mayhem. i finished three after failing once. i took a spin on the railroad tracks and crashed through a billboard. the trophy sound hit and i looked up to see that i had earned the "smash 60 billboards" trophy. it's a gold and it put me over the top. i'm at level 5.

why do i care about my trophy level? because it sounds like sony is going to tie your trophy level with money in home, i'm going to use my awesome skill at blowing up cars in GTA4 and my unbelievable luck in racing in wipeout HD to have a bitching pad in my homespace. can't wait to tell people "you like this couch? my talent in killzone 2 paid for it."


J.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

R.I.P Rudy Ray Moore, AKA Dolemite: 1927-2008

No, it's not games related (if only someone would make a Dolemite game!), but it needs to be said. I’ve been meaning to take a moment here and tip my hat to the late, great Rudy Ray Moore for awhile, as it seems like only yesterday that Dustin told me he had passed on (more like three weeks ago; school fries brains and makes time fly). On October 19th, the beloved comedian, actor and inspiration to countless entertainers died due to complications with diabetes. However, though it’s coming late, I want to dedicate the 100th post on Driver ID to Rudy, and give thanks for him—the man that created Dolemite and elevated the toast to become the Godfather of Rap.



Rudy played many over-the-top roles from his original role as Dolemite, the “Human Tornado” rhyming pimp with an all girl kung-fu army, to Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law. His movies were low-budget but truly amazing to behold and take in. There is no way I can express how much my friends and I enjoy his movies—it doesn’t border on obsessive, it drives over the railing at top speed. So Rudy, from both all of us at Driver ID and your old fans in the DIYMF Crew, rest in peace.


In tribute, here is Rudy’s original Dolemite sketch, from his album, Eat Out More Often. It’s definitely not safe for work, but fuck it!



Max

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Games that need to be remade: Fighting game version


with the re-release of Super Street Fighter 2 hyper global mega-net remix HD today on XBLA and PSN, i was thinking of how fighting games are seemingly coming back. i also started thinking about other games that could benefit from the new coat of paint and the HD treatment. non lag online would be a plus as well. rather than write a million words about each game, i figured that i'd scour the annals of youtube for some examples of what face beating could be. maybe this list could inspire you to poke the developers in the side to remake some of these awesome beat 'em ups. and start making some other ones.



Power stone (capcom)




Street Fighter EX series - Capcom (EX3 pictured in video)



Darkstalkers - Capcom



Clayfighter - Interplay



Rival Schools - Capcom



King of Fighters - SNK (2002 version shown)



Samurai Shodown - SNK (i never noticed that it was spelled S-H-O-down. like shogun. sweet.)



alot of capcom games, eh? sure. at one point, capcom was the end all and be all in the fighting game genre. many still think so. sure, tekken and virtual fighter have wowed with the advances in graphics and modes, but i think that the side scrolling fighter will made a comeback after the (upcoming) success of SSF2THDR and SF4. i'm sure we'll see another River City Ransom at some point soon.


Happy Thanksgiving,
J.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Watchmen Game…


…Unless you have this month’s EGM of course. After getting the issue about a week ago, I’ve been meaning to post about this game, the new info laid out by EGM, plus some geek commentary. Mainly, because I’m a comic fanatic and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is one of the (if not the) most amazing comic series I’ve ever read (no, it is not really a graphic novel, it’s a trade paperback collecting a 12 issue mini-series). Therefore, I’ve had a healthy amount of skepticism regarding both the Watchmen movie and the game spinning out of it, Watchmen: The End is Nigh. Anyone who has read Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and then seen the movie can probably relate to this (though V for Vendetta didn’t turn out badly…). Anyway, when I first heard about the game, I groaned. After reading EGM’s coverage of the game, I felt a lot better. Here’s some of the things discussed that may put your mind at ease as well:


  • First and foremost (to comics nerds like me anyway) to note is that the game’s script is being handled by none other than Len Wein. Len Wein is a comics legend, creating both the Swamp Thing and everyone’s favorite mutant, Wolverine. He has worked on many comics properties, from Batman, to X-Men, and my favorite, Blue Beetle (a character he wrote the entire 24 issue series for in the 80’s). Wein is no amateur writer. He also has worked with Alan Moore in the past, and was the editor for the Watchmen comic series. Not to mention, Alan Moore made his name in the comics’ field writing Wein’s creation, the Swamp Thing. Says Wein: “When you’re dealing with anything that’s become this iconic, there’s always a moment of ‘Boy, I better get this right.’ But I figured Alan [Moore] has followed my work on a number of different titles over the years, so turnabout is fair play. It was actually quite liberating.”


  • The game is a downloadable title for XBLA, PSN, and Steam for PC and will be broken into six episodes, the first releasing in March 2009 to coincide with the movie release. Despite the downloadable nature of the game, EGM claims that the production values are so great that, “This game looks so good in high-def on a huge 50-inch television that you’ll easily forget it’s a downloadable title.”


  • The End is Nigh features two playable characters, Rorschach and Nite-Owl. The game is a brawler at heart, with puzzle solving elements, and co-op is key. Even when you do not play with another player, your partner will be controlled by the game’s AI. Both characters have their own attributes and specialties that makes playing as each one a distinct experience. Rorschach uses street weapons dropped by thugs, is a bit faster and has a rage meter that builds when he attacks and when he is attacked; Nite-Owl’s combat techniques are a bit more refined and he uses gadgetry, such as screecher grenades, his grapple hook gun and an electrified suit, the latter of which has a meter that charges up. Teamwork will be required for some puzzles. Unfortunately, there will be no online co-op.

  • Watchmen film director, Zack Snyder doesn’t want the game to fall under the usual licensed movie stigma, and serves as an adviser for the game. Says Snyder: “…I don’t see The End is Nigh as a marketing tool, I really don’t. I want to be able to say, ‘This is a movie. This is a videogame. And this is a comic book. All as good as they can be. None of them compromised for the other.’”


  • Dave Gibbons, the artist of Watchmen, is also an adviser for the game: “I keep an eye on it, and if I see anything I really don’t like, I let people know.” Gibbons also points out that this isn’t the first time Watchmen has been made into a game, “A long, long time ago, before the days of sophisticated computer games, role-playing games—you know, with dice and paper—were very popular and Alan [Moore] did collaborate to a great extent, as did I, with a company called Mayfair on three Watchmen modules, which actually seem to cover similar ground, although in a different way, to that which is being covered by the [upcoming] videogame.” Because these were written partially by Moore and do not conflict with the book, a renown set of online Watchmen Annotations states that these modules can be considered semi-canonical. That The End is Nigh treads similar ground to these RPG modules is definitely a good thing.


  • The game is a prequel and takes place in 1972, thirteen years before the setting for the comic series. Therefore, vigilantes aren’t outlawed yet by “The Keene Act” which was detailed in the book. Characters mentioned in passing in the comics will play a big part and be fleshed out, such as Jimmy the Gimmick and Underboss. Each chapter will have bookends in the form of motion comic intros done in the style of Rorschach’s journal. Enemies will include Top Knot gangsters seen in the book, as well as cops, who will prove a bit tougher. Utmost respect is being paid to the source material. Says Wein: “I’m a fan myself, and there’s an inclination to despise change for the sake of despising it. We love and respect the original graphic novel as much as you do—maybe more if that’s possible. Nothing we’ve done has been done lightly and without much serious consideration. Loosen up, and you’re in for a heck of a ride.”


  • Scandinavian developer Deadline Games is the team working on Watchmen: The End is Nigh for Warner Bros., but despite their location have an international roster with several employees from the United States and South America. One team member of note is Junichi Yamada, a level designer formerly of Sega, who worked on the Super Monkey Ball and Shenmue series, as well as the Sega/Nintendo joint project F-Zero GX.


  • The End is Nigh is rated M, and will have much of the violence and profanity the comics are known for.

  • While EGM attributes Batman-like qualities to the game’s two main characters, Rorschach and Nite-Owl, the pair are actually based off of characters Steve Ditko (who co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee) created for Charton comics: the Question and Blue Beetle, respectively. Almost all of the Watchmen characters are based on Charlton characters, who DC Comics bought the rights to in the 80’s. Word is that the original Watchmen outline used the Charlton characters before DC nixed the idea as they had other plans for them. The Charlton version of Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) is the same one who had the series Len Wein wrote. There have been reprints of early Charlton adventures by DC lately (Action Heroes Archives Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) while the reprints of the 80’s Question series by penultimate Batman scribe, Len Wein, have been coming out in trades since last year.



Hopefully, all of this information will come as a relief to some of you die-hard fans worried about a video game disaster mucking up some of the greatest comics ever. Still, a promising early look from a video game magazine never guarantees quality in the final product, but it sounds like Deadline is taking all the right steps to not make a total screw-up, and instead produce something Watchmen fans like me may actually get into. Be sure to pick up a copy of this month's EGM to learn much more about the game and read interviews with Gibbons, Wein and Snyder.

What’s this? Haven’t read Watchmen yet? Get thyself to a Comic Book Shoppe! Or risk having your geek cred yanked!


Max

Those Darn Kids… Brats & Addicts!

Overload on sugar and throw a temper tantrum, because it’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for another installment of “Those Darn Kids…!” It's the segment where we bring you brats, bastards, over excitement and rage displayed by youthful participants. Annoying? Of course! Hilarious? You bet!


Remember a couple weeks ago, in the first installment of Those Darn Kids…, there was a German kid acting like a maniac playing Unreal Tournament to make a political statement. Keep that in mind while viewing our first video, because here’s another look at the type of rage displayed by that young German actor… Though it looks like with this time, and this guy, he isn’t acting (and I have no idea what language he's speaking):




From the people I know who play it, I’ve determined that World of Warcraft is like a form of crack that gets into your system and won’t let go (Drugs Are Like That too ya’know). Here’s a young addict flipping the fuck out at his teammates, having not only to contend with the Lich King, but his mom too:




If my kids act anything like these two members of the “All-Winners Squad,” (more like All-Whiners) they will be beaten and forbidden to play anymore video games. Seriously. Stay tuned for more juvenile video game freak outs when “Those Darn Kids…” comes back to haunt you next Tuesday!


Max

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Community for Nintendo & Wii Forthcoming?

I came across a story at Forbes which interviewed Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president, AKA “The Regginator.” The story of course had comments about Nintendo’s Wii supply this Xmas, which for the first time since the console’s release in 2006, Reggie & Nintendo seem confident they’ll be able to meet demand for Wii, but probably not Wii Fit. Says Reggie: "With Wii hardware, I think we've got a good shot at meeting demand during the holidays. With 'Wii Fit,' I know we'll fall short. That's a product we have consumers lining up for each morning outside of our Nintendo World store [in New York City]."


What caught my interest in the story is the talk of community. Following stories on what the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are doing in terms of community building, it has long seemed that Nintendo is festering the opportunity to establish one for the Wii, despite the high sales of the console. It turns out, Nintendo has not necessarily been ignoring this idea of console gaming; instead, they’ve once again been holding back, doing things as they see fit. Quoth the Regginator: "Nintendo has always had a vision on community," he says. "The issue is that we define community differently than our competitors. ... Our consumers do want a sense of community, and we're going to deliver that--but in a way that is unique to Nintendo."


Of course, despite saying this, Reggie laid out no plans, nor commented on when Nintendo might elaborate. Forbes speculated next E3, but with Nintendo doing its Media Day where it revealed the DSi back in early October long after E3, who knows when we’ll see what the company has in mind? If I had to guess, this "community" will not only involve the Wii, but the Nintendo DS as well.


Max

Some Chrono Trigger Musical Sweetness

OK, I am sure all of you can direct your browsers to YouTube and search for “Chrono Trigger” all by your bad selves, but here I go again not being able to resist posting something. It’s a clip by the famous “PLAY!” concerts that have been around the past few years, which play orchestrated versions of video game music. After posting the last story, I came across this medley of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross music. Now, I’ve only seen Chrono Cross played in passing, but it’s one of Maureen’s favorite RPGs, and we have listened to the soundtrack extensively in the car. This is beautiful music, and hopefully will help add to your Chrono Trigger excitement.


Max

A Chrono Trigger Wedding Proposal

To say I’m excited by the DS release of Chrono Trigger is an understatement. I’m incredibly stoked! I haven’t played the game in some twelve years (despite having J’s copy of Final Fantasy Chronicles the past several months), and last time I did, it blew me away. I’m definitely hoping that my return to the game (which hits this week, but is on the top of my Xmas list) won’t be one of those games where my memories are exaggerated of its greatness.


Anyway, poking around YouTube to stoke my excitement, I found this, an amazing video where a talented young man, posting as TheRealPfhreak, hacked a ROM of Chrono Trigger his girlfriend was playing to implant a wedding proposal. I’ve embedded said video here:



Fortunately for the guy, she said yes. Here’s what he had to say about it on the the video’s page on YouTube:

On October 17th, 2008, I proposed to my (now) Fiancee. Originally I wanted to return to the site of our first date, Mount Baker, near Bellingham Washington. Sadly, there was no discreet way to get her out there. So I turned to the next best thing, digitally recreating the mountain!


But why stop there? I figured I'd try and recreate many of our other favorite memories -- stargazing, dancing, even her favorite song lyrics (from the Princess Bride). I'm a college student who is studying Computer Science, and I wanted to do something unique that used my talents, so I did some research on Rom hacking, as she was playing through Chrono Trigger. (A perennial favorite of mine, I can't wait to buy it for my DS.) I even put in her cat, Cleo!


I had several goals in mind:

First) Keep the area in the context of the original game, the proposal should be a surprise.

Second) Get it done quick! I had the ring, I had the Father's blessing, and you can't sit on either of those for too long. You'll notice some of the NPC collision information is missing (the cat runs through a lot of weird places) and I didn't have time to properly debug every tile.

Third) Place memories that might be poignant enough to remind her of our relationship, while not inadvertently giving away that this was somehow hacked.(See goal #1.)


Overall, it was a resounding success. She had no idea that this wasn't part of the original. She asked, "Hey, are those the Princess Bride lyrics? Do the Japanese really love that movie?" to which I responded, "Yeah! That's probably it! Either that or a bored translator slipping in an easter egg."


When her name appeared on screen (blurred in this video), she glanced over to me (on one knee, with the ring out), wondering, "How did they get my name in this game?" When she saw the ring, she reread the proposal, nodded yes, and said, "You are such a huge nerd! I love this!"


I spent a long time debating whether or not this proposal was awesome or incredibly stupid. Her friends, and my friends helped talk me into it, and it was a huge success!


I built the area by fusing a pre-existing area (Denodoro Mountains) with concepts I had in my mind. Each NPC in the area (save the cat, and the young girl at the beginning) is supposed to be either myself or my fiance.


I’m a sucker for romance, so this seemed like a great story to me. When I told Maureen about it she replied: “It sounds like this guy had way too much time on his hands!” Well probably, but it's a labor of love! Anyway, check out the video and get ready for Chrono Trigger this week!


Max

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sony drops news: games, games, games

Sony has stepped their game up in 2008. 2007 was a tough year, but 2008 is coming along nicely. but, there has been alot of game news in the last few days. here is some of the more interesting game news (to me anyway.)

SONY ENDS PLAYSTATION UNDERGROUND, REPLACES WITH PLAYSTATION NETWORK ONLINE

(source - kotaku.com)

wow. underground is over next week. shame. but, as long as the website moves closer to a bungie/xbox360-like interface where you can check your friends' list and trophies online, i'm cool with it. the website updates 'early' next week.

ALL PS3 GAME MUST HAVE TROPHIES STARTING NEXT YEAR,

(source - PSXextreme.com)

sweet deal. i'm not really a trophy whore. granted, some have had me scratching my head, trying to figure out how the hell do i get 100,000,000 points in Pain to get the Affliction Addiction trophy. but overall, i dig having them around. and with sony possibly starting a reward system around your trophy score, (i'm not sure what it's really called) it's making me more likely to try to get more trophies in pixel junk eden. now, if they would hurry up with the fallout 3 trophies........

MORE PS1 GAMES COMING "SOON" LET'S HOPE

(source - mtv's multiplayer blog)

well, this would be a welcome change. sure, the PS store is rolling along and i'd like to think that sony is leading in the downloadable content department. but, not having more PS1 games online is a crime. drop street fighter EX next week with Street Fighter 2 hyper mega global super remix 2. MGS2 and MGS3? dark cloud? rez? the list could go on forever. let's hope this is going to jump off sooner then later.


sony is trying to keep up with the times. i dig it. back to playing fallout 3.


J.

FINALLY!!!! Playstation Home 1.0 is out in beta; rest of the world next week?



ahhh yes. Playstation Home. if you play video games, i'm sure you've heard of Home. it's one of the many internet memes related to the sony game system. it's been a long time coming and even seems to have influenced another system to be more community focused. it's been delayed and delayed and delayed. but, ironically coming the day after the new xbox experience, Playstation@Home version 1.0 is out and, if the rumors are true will be out for the world (in a constant beta) later next week. i have yet to check out the newness of 1.0 since the servers were off being readied for the beating that it's going to get in the next few weeks. but, i will be diving in and seeing what's new in home. more on that....next week. maybe.

with killzone 2 shocking the shit out of people, could home live up to the hype as well? hey, seems to be the new trend in the sony camp.


J.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Xbox Experience Initial Impressions

Well, I’ve spent a few hours this afternoon just dicking around with the NXE, and I have mixed feelings about it. First off, I was greeted by a new Terms of Service agreement, which I earnestly tried to read in full. However, it was FOREVER LONG, and I ended up just skimming the parts I thought were important. Then there was a little animated video of flowers blooming, race cars racing and a giant (yet thin) mountain growing and spawning the 360 logo. Oooookaaaaay…. I thought there was some instructional video once you booted up NXE, but I think this was it. Then it was off to pick a starting point avatar. After that, I had to leave for an obligation I had made earlier (getting through the ToS took waaaaaaaaaay longer than I thought).


Coming back later in the afternoon, I booted up again and tweaked my avatar to make it look a bit like me. While there’s way more customization than Miis in terms of body parts and clothes, which is cool, I have to say (for now) I still prefer Miis. Making Miis you can rotate and move around facial features on them to make some cool (and twisted) stuff. Plus, sometimes simple is better. Still, I did like reading that Microsoft will be adding more clothes, for free (it looks like at least) in the coming weeks and months.

After that I joined a Party with my buddy Mike and Dustin’s fiancĂ©, Rose. I guess Parties allow up to 8 people to chat together, even across different games. It also shows all your avatars together on your friends’ list, all of whom are also represented by their avatars, and the avatars of people they’re partying with…interesting. The three of us basically chatted about what we thought of NXE, and Mike gave us detailed Left 4 Dead impressions (which it doesn't look like I'm getting this week). There is of course the ability to watch Netflix movies from your queue on your console right away, though I’m not a Netflix member so no big whup to me.


Instead of blades of old, they have several different menus that scroll vertically, each with small picture boxes of the different things you can do, which scroll horizontally. It’s a lot more to deal with, and a little less user friendly. There are also several more advertisements. The upside is that there is a Events menu that advertises several upcoming events on Live; this will definitely increase the presence and strength of the Xbox Live community, which I think is good.


Hitting the giant “X circle” in the center of the controller brings up pretty much the same things, though a “quick launch” has been added to where you can fire up your arcade games right away (maybe console too, wasn’t sure how that worked unless the game was in the tray). Audio and video menus are similar to the old ones, which made me happy.


One thing I especially didn’t like was that the Batman theme I paid for awhile back was obstructed by over half the screen covered with the top of a giant grey circle. What the fuck! I don’t understand why; is it supposed to be ground for my avatar to stand on? Mike, Rose and I all agreed this was a gyp. Another problem is that it seems you can’t share music anymore; however, there is a channel called “Photo Party” where you can share pictures with people in your party. This worked for me at first, but I got disconnected, and as more friends joined our party, it was impossible for me to reconnect. When I did, I was separate from the group and couldn’t see their pictures or added any of my own. This seemed to be a problem in several other aspects of NXE, with network errors popping up for several functions. I don’t think it’s bugs in the system, it’s more likely just due to probably every Xbox Live account fucking around with NXE like I was today.


It’s new, and different, but increasingly less exciting to me. Microsoft is trying to do some cool things here and that’s great, but until network traffic slows a bit and I figure out all the ins and outs, I’m still lukewarm on it all. Rose pointed out that after it’s no longer new, it may not seem that special. I dunno, only time will tell… Either way, I guess it’s what we’ve got now.


Max

Change Abound & the New Xbox Experience!

As many of you know (and have probably already downloaded), the New Xbox Experience hit early this morning. Honestly, I have yet to download it. Part of it is that I had to finish my last bit of school for the quarter by turning in a revised short story & having a conference (plus coffee and chit chat) with my teacher. The other part of it is that I’m resistant to change, and I want Maureen to be up when I make said change.


“Do I have to make an Xbox Mii?” Maureen asked me last night. I told her of course not. Unfortunately, the Mii rip-off aspect, plus the Netflix feature, are about the only things I know about for the NXE. I’m sure there is lots of new features, and I plan to post impressions later today. I just hope they’re good improvements, and not a lot of unnecessary bells & whistles.


Meanwhile, the change I am excited about is being out of school and having lots more time to play games over the next five weeks or so. I’m hoping I’m able to get Left 4 Dead on Friday, and in the meantime I plan on beating No More Heroes, I’ve only two more ranked assassins before I’m #1 (though a friend who beat it told me I may not be as close to the ending as I think I am). I’ll also have more time to post on the blog, which I’m thrilled about. I’m looking forward to when Dustin wraps up his quarter and can post (and hang out) more. I’m excited by the possibility that J might get an Xbox 360 for Xmas, because believe me, if you knew him and how much shit he’s talked about the system, then you’d see the chance of him getting one a sign that Hell is freezing over (actually, Hell will freeze over if J gets a Wii). Speaking of the Wii, I plan on doing a holiday guide for new Wii owners to list some of the better games, at the request of one of my friends who is a reader and just got a Wii.


So yeah, big day for change. It’s a lot colder; there’s a little snow on the ground. But with the season change comes the holidays, new games, and a couple meals where it’s totally cool to eat too much. Plus the end of the year, and a start of a new one where George W. Bush is no longer in the White House, and Barack Obama will be. Change is good.


Max

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Capcom Remake?

Capcom has been allegedly mining its old franchises after the success of Mega Man 9 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed to see what else they can dig up, make new again, and profit from. I’ve been looking at games I’d love to see Capcom remake, covering Magic Sword and the Buster Bros. series. Meanwhile, J’s planning to write about what he’d like to see in a Strider remake, and there’s a rumor that Capcom is already on it. Now the latest word from the rumors section of the latest EGM states that Capcom is looking into remaking Forgotten Worlds as a downloadable title for XBLA and PSN.


What’s Forgotten Worlds you might ask? It’s basically a side scrolling shooter originally released in 1988, where you can take control of a jetpack wearing soldier (with two player co-op available) and fly around stages shooting badguys. One cool aspect of the game is that you can rotate your shots 360 degrees around you, controlling where they go. You can earn Zenny (the currency of many a classic Capcom game) to buy power-ups at shops scattered throughout levels.



While many of us have probably forgotten Forgotten Worlds, the Sega Genesis version of the game (which cut two stages from the arcade version) just hit the Wii Virtual Console yesterday. Plus, Capcom apparently doesn’t regard the franchise as a throwaway, as one or both of the solider characters from the game have had cameos in games such as the first Marvel Vs. Capcom, the Japan only Namco X Capcom, and the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash. The game has also appeared as part of Capcom Classic Collection Vol. 1 for PS2 and Xbox (and surprisingly doesn’t work on the 360), where I’ve played a bit of it. It’s alright, but I’d definitely love to see other Capcom games remade (and I’ll post about more of them soon). But if Capcom is digging this deep, who knows what else might be being prepped for a comeback?


Max

God Hand Lovers Unite!

I have to say, I love Clover’s often overlooked PS2 brawler God Hand. To me, it’s like what the Fist of the Northstar saga would be if it were a comedy, and the gameplay is fantastic (albeit hard). I got hooked on it, and its catchy tunes in late 2007, and Maureen being the awesome wife she is, went ahead and surprised me with it last Xmas (even though we didn’t have a PS2 in our possession at the time). I’ve played a fair amount, though haven’t made it too far, but it’s definitely a fantastic game that I may try to beat over holiday break.

I just found out that the soundtrack is composed by Masafumi Takada of Grasshopper Manufacture (Suda 51’s company), who has jumped up on my list of favorite video game composers. Along with composing the music for God Hand, he’s done other great soundtracks to games such as Killer 7, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, and the game that is currently lodged in my Wii right now: No More Heroes. I found this out last night poking around looking for a No More Heroes OST (Original Soundtrack), and after I had this tidbit of knowledge about Takada-san, I looked everywhere for a God Hand OST as well.

I finally found it, and a fantastic site devoted to God Hand itself:

Kung Pao Fu. They’ve got a lot of info on the game, hidden tributes to Capcom classics that can be found throughout it, strategies, pictures, reviews, and as previously mentioned, the OST available for download. What a great site for a great game! Check it out, if only to educate yourself about how cool God Hand is.


Of course, with Clover gone and the game selling poorly, we’ll never see Capcom release a God Hand sequel. Still, I’d like to think the spirit of God Hand lives on in Madworld, just as Clover lives on in Platinum Games.


And hey, for those of you who don't know the awesomeness of God Hand, take a look at what you've been missing:



Max

Left 4 Dead Multiplayer Impressions

With Left 4 Dead hitting stores today, I figured I better get my multiplayer impressions up ASAP. Of course, if you’ve been reading lately, you probably already know that this game is the shit and you should be getting it if you have an Xbox 360 or a PC. I’m really glad J got to play a little, as they’re not making a PS3 version and he needs more reasons to get a 360.Since trying out the demo solo, I’ve gotten a chance to play with my brother in a two player match, and other friends in a few three player matches.

Let me just say the obvious: the game is more fun with friends. The not so obvious? It is scarier too. Not only are you watching your own back, you need to help your team out too, which becomes a lot more urgent when it’s a real person playing (who can scream in terror for help over Xbox Live) over a computer player. I’m not surprised to read in J’s impressions that even when playing with random people, other players don’t act like selfish funhats. It’s most likely tied to the need for mutual survival; the more of the team that stays alive, the more likely you’ll stay alive. Not to mention, the more human players there are, the more threats there are too; more hunters, smokers (tongue guys), boomers (fat exploding guys)—so it’s best if every one works together.

The other interesting thing I noticed while playing is that things so INTENSE that occasionally other players may be so wrapped up in the grim situation that they won’t respond right away because they may not hear you; a few times both playing with my brother and in three player matches, things needed to be repeated. This is no fault of the online chat servers; instead it’s because of the amount of fear that overwhelms you.

Team tactics work a lot better in a group too. Plans can be made up and executed, and sometimes, more ground can be covered as the team can split up. However, I learned very quickly that you should never leave the group to go somewhere alone. There will be undead threats to face anywhere and everywhere you go, and if you don’t have at least one other team member with you, there won’t be anyone to save you once things go bad. But sticking in a tight knit group while patrolling the area, there are few challenges you won’t be able to fend off successfully.

With real players, you’re able to plan as a team, verbally call out for rescue, and hear other people in the group freak the fuck out. It also makes the sense of accomplishment much greater when everyone makes it out of a level alive. With the demo being only two levels, I’m sure things get even more intense and the need for cooperation increases. And in the final version, there’s also multiplayer matches where you can play as zombies hunting humans.

Multiplayer puts an already great game over the top. Don’t miss out on Left 4 Dead; again, it’s out today.

Max

NEW SEGMENT: Classic Catch Up

Here I go busting out another new segment. With Classic Catch Up, I plan to take a look back at old classic video games that have made a comeback by way of Wii’s Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade or PSN. It won’t really deal with new downloadable software (including remakes of classic games), just games from yesteryear to see how they hold up after time has passed and our childhood rose tinted glasses no longer fit anymore. As always, I’m sure the other guys will throw in on this from time to time, as between the three of us, we’ve got quite a few retro entries to talk about.



Kicking off this first edition is Toe Jam & Earl, originally appearing on the Sega Genesis. After seeing my friends play through the first game on Virtual Console last night, Maureen and I were appalled: mainly because the game seems to have no appeal and looks horrible—not fun in the least.


The story is basically that two aliens, the three legged Toe Jam and the rotund Earl, crash their space ship and then must search several levels to find the parts for it. The levels are randomly generated, making it a new experience each time, and two players can play co-op with the game diverging into split screen when the two move apart from each other. To top it all off is funky 90’s style with Ninja Turtle like catch phrases and hip hop overtones. But is it fun? No.



Toe Jam & Earl’s biggest problem seems to be that unlike Sega’s mascot, Sonic, Toe Jam & Earl take things at a slower pace—a much slower pace. They basically mosey their way through the game, occasionally getting presents with random items which you hope are rocket boots or wings that make moving around tolerable, but these are few and far between. There’s also no attack button (although you can throw tomatoes at some enemies) and since you move so slow, it’s easy to become victim to one of each level’s many dangers. You can fall off the levels safely, which moves you down the vertical planet, but since the levels are randomly generated, the game slows down immensely as it must render the rest of the level on the fly as you fall.


The worst part? Players back in the day were expected to play this bore-fest in one sitting and there are no continues, no saves, and once you’re out of lives, it’s over (though players can give up a life to their partner, Contra style). Basically, the game is evil. However, playing it on Virtual Console at least you can utilize the save state. The game hit Virtual Console on Christmas Day, 2006. Merry Christmas kids! Nintendo hates you!


I'd warn against spending $8 on it on VC unless you do drugs, or enjoy torturing yourself (or both!). Last night, watching the game being played, Maureen and I saw no redeeming qualities, but don’t take my word for it. Take a look and see for yourself:



Max

Those Darn Kids: Big, Bold, Sassy & Brassy!

Last Tuesday, I started a new segment: Those Darn Kids…, which looks to showcase kids freaking out about video games for whatever reason. Since I started thinking about posting another one today, I’ve decided to designate Tuesdays as “Those Darn Kids” days, where I’ll post a video or two every week of youthful bad, spazzy, or mad behavior inspired by gaming until I can’t find anymore clips, or I drive the few readers we have insane. And what the hell, today I’ll post two of ‘em.

This first one is a kid flipping the hell out once he gets a rare Pokemon card. Calm down little guy! Your maniacal laughter is scaring me!




Rounding out today’s installment is our second clip, this one featuring a road trip turned hell ride. It involves a youngster going ballistic at his DS during what must be a long drive to grandma’s:



Believe me when I say Maureen and I are not in any hurry to have kids! Those Darn Kid brats will be back next Tuesday!


Max

Monday, November 17, 2008

DEMO-LITION: Left 4 dead edition



you may have heard about a game called Left 4 Dead. catchy little title. i first heard about this at E3. in between fallout 3 and gears of war 2, was a game i'd never heard of called Left 4 Dead. being a valve game, i didn't pay it much mind since my laptop isn't as awesome as it should be to run a valve game and head honcho Gabe Newell doesn't think that certain gaming systems are worth the headache of programing for.

i didn't pay much attention to the title since there wasn't much chance that i was going to play it. months go by. fallout 3 comes out and is awesome and huge. then i start hearing about this game, left 4 dead again. i see videos. it looks cool. a new take on survival horror and co-op. whatever. "i'm not going to play it." i said.

so, i opened up my steam account because i like to justify still having it on my laptop since no games i like to play will run on it, and i found that i had 23 hours to play the demo for L4D. hmmm. so i go to canyourunit.com and found that i could run it, on very low settings. so i DL'ed it to see what the fuss was about.

first off, the game is FUCKING SCARY!!! i jumped out of my chair more than a few times. and playing it in the dark isn't the move. the whole point of the game was the feeling of being alone with three other people and the fact that at any moment, you could possibly get ripped to shreds by half dead freaks. it was insane! playing with other people was very interesting. the people i played with weren't the normal, out for self, ass clowns that don't help when you're getting pinned down by gunfire. they healed me when i was down, shot boomers and smokers when i was about to get wasted while my back was turned and they yelled for me to hurry up when i was getting to far away from the group. the sparse music only added to the fright. string stabs and general droning ambiance mixed with the silence made hearing the oncoming footsteps that much more dreadful. you know they are coming. you don't know how many there are, but you know there's going to be alot of them. i quickly got sucked into to game. something i wasn't planning on.

i now see what Max was going on about. it's shaping up to being a really good time and with the possibility of a 360 showing up in my house this x-mas, i could be jumping out of my skin more often than playing the last level of manhunt.

Left 4 Dead is out tomorrow. demo is available now. and the original manhunt is really good. not like that other manhunt.......


J.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Banjo Kazooie Nuts N Bolts’ Text Overhaul


You may remember my brief time with the demo of Banjo Kazooie Nuts N’ Bolts wasn’t very enjoyable due to text that was completely unreadable on my standard definition TV. Apparently, a little while ago, Rare heard the complaints of many other disappointed gamers and staffer George Kelion had this to say:


“I'm sorry that we weren't able to address this issue as nothing would please us more than turning all your complaints into gleeful responses, but it's simply something that's too expensive in terms of time, resources and money to alter.”


A mere three days after that statement, George via Microsoft PR issued a completely different story, indicating the tiny text would be fixed via a patch:


“It has come to our attention that people are experiencing subtitle [dialogue text] readability issues with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts on Standard Definition TVs. We would like to assure you that contrary to earlier reports, we are aware of the issue and currently working on a title update to be released within the next 30 days that will fix it for those with Standard Definition TVs. We’re committed to ensuring all fans of the franchise are able to have the best experience possible with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.”


I guess Microsoft got pretty serious about this marquee holiday title having readable text, real quick. That’s great and all, but hey Microsoft, why not go after Capcom to fix Dead Rising?


Max

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Deck: PS3 video version (mostly)

haven't done an On Deck in a while. mostly because everyone knows about the games that are out that i want. because it's the same games that you want, too. well, not all of them. but, with x-mas coming up, here's a video list of games i'd like to play that are coming sooner then you think.


Skate 2



i really liked skate. i decided to check it out after playing the demo and being really disappointed with tony hawk proving ground. it was as close to real skating as you could really get. there isn't much they really had to do to add to it. except handplants and ninjas. and now, they're in game. sweet. look for it jan 6th. wow. i need to save some money.

Uno Rush



this is already out, but with my waffling on joining the rest of the civilized world and buying a 360, getting this is one of the reasons why i keep thinking about acquiring one. the amount of games on XBLA that i'd like to play are alot bigger than the regular, disc based games. believe it or not, i really don't care about playing gears of war or halo ever again. whooping someone's ass in Uno and laying the smacktalk down while you're doing it is awesome. and it's a flashback to my indoor recess games in the 7th grade. this is out now. get it.

Infamous



still not much about this. looks like a win for sony fans. shooting lightning is cool. just not as cool as fire swords and shooting bees. coming "sometime" in 2009.

Chrono Trigger DS



Chrono Trigger was one of the best RPGs ever made. period. if you don't think so, you're wrong. cool. now that we have that out of the way, CT is coming out in a few weeks. i have the PS1 version bundled with final fantasy 4 (my favorite RPG of all time) but i haven't played it in a while. i might be not being able to plop down in front of my 27" and grind like i used to. it also might be that max has had my copy for a while now. either way, this will be a moot point when this comes out on the DS next month. RPGs are a very good fit on the DS. with it's awesome battery life (i've charged mine twice....in a fucking year!) and install base, square should be porting every FF and RPG that they have ever made to the DS. and yes, that means super mario RPG.

Chrono Trigger DS comes out next month.


Killzone 2



sure. we've all heard the jokes. but now that we're seeing more of the FPS that sony has all their money on, people are starting to back off their punchlines. alittle. kind of like what joe lieberman is doing now. it looks insane! hopefully, i can get into the beta soon and tell you more. until then, start eating your crow now. just in case.....

Killzone 2 is out (hopefully) in February.

J.

Fallout 3 weapons: the ripper



i like posting these because bethesda has done a great job making crazy weapons that, in theory, could work in real life. this time, again coming from youtube poster Shebut, is the ripper. which is a hand-held chainsaw. what the hell?!?!? it's a good thing that something like this doesn't exist. i can only image the run at home depo on these when they come in. i know that i wouldn't someone like me to have something like this.

anyway, props to Shebut. love the voice kiddo. check it out.


J.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ba-Rack Man is a Mac Man, Loves Pac-Man

After a recent rumor that Barack Obama took part in a Zero Wing “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” joke with an aide, comes this picture of our newly elected president-elect. I think the picture says it all (that or my stupid title to this story does):


It’s definitely good to have a gamer in the White House again (who knows about W., but it’s well documented that the Clintons were big Game Boy addicts during travels).


Max

Whatever Happened to Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for Wii?


Great news for fans of the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles series. Remember the FF:CC game that was shown waaaaay back in May 2006 with the unveiling of the Wii at E3, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers? Nothing has been heard about it since and many thought that the game was completely canned, with EGM even reporting a rumor that Square had dropped the project. In response, Square sent out the following statement:


While much of EGM’s ‘Rumor Mill’ contents end up being accurate, in this case the report is incorrect.


We have never announced that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has been cancelled and have every intention of releasing it. There may be some concerns as a firm ship date has not been set but rest assured there will be an announcement once we finalize the date internally.


Although there are many Square Enix related rumors out there that we do not comment on, due to the feedback from the readers, we felt it was necessary to provide a statement to alleviate the worries of those who are looking forward to the game. The fan base that the Final Fantasy series has is appreciated by everyone at Square Enix (not only the developers) so we hope this statement will prevent any further spreading of the rumor.


We apologize for any unnecessary distress this rumor may have caused and hope the fans of the series can again look forward to the upcoming release of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.



This is a big deal to many Wii and Crystal Chronicles fans, Maureen (especially) included. Hopefully the delay in news or announcements about the game signals a great deal of development has gone into it, making it well worth the wait. Thanks to Kotaku for this great news!


Max

F-ed Up Things You Can Get at Super-Fly Comics that are Actually Kinda Cool

A couple weeks ago, I was in Super-Fly Comics & Games, my beloved local comic shop and video game depot, and was ordering something or another. Tony, one of the owners was looking up the thing I wanted in the computer and was reading off some results.


“There’s Donkey Kong Jenga,” he said.

We shared a hearty laugh.

“You’ve got to be fucking with me,” I replied.


Nope! It turns out that Donkey Kong Jenga is real! It plays like original Jenga if you want, or can be a more faithful adaptation to the original Donkey Kong arcade game, where Mario must ascend the pink platforms, overcoming obstacles to save Pauline from Donkey Kong. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it involves a spinner (there’s plenty of info here). So now I must eat my laughter, as it looks pretty cool and I almost want it.


Sure, Donkey Kong Jenga sounds crazy, but it’s almost sane compared to other things you can order from a comic shop: hentai action figures; replicas of actual Green Lantern lanterns, Joker canes or a Star Trek communicator; a giant Hero Click figure of Fin Fang Foom; Indiana Jones bookends, and… I’ll stop there. I’m sure you get the picture.


(NOTE: I'm not saying Super-Fly has any of this stuff, DK Jenga included, but they can order it!)


Max

Your Virtual Girlfriend: A Game of Torture and Shame!

While I’m not about posting outlets for creepy Japanese hentai school girl obsession on Driver I.D., I couldn’t help but post this, as it is technically a "video game." It seems Geisha Tokyo Entertainment is offering a new product: the Dennou Figure ARis. It is basically a web cam game that plugs into Windows XP and allows you to manipulate a young girl in 360 degrees. Just take a look at the commercial for it and see how much “manipulating” can be done! Fondling, shoving, even giving them a magic door that opens to a world of dinosaurs are all within the range of possibilities of how you treat your virtual love. She’ll get mad, but just give her a teddy bear! Or why not some more sexy clothes? Real women love that kind of tricks-then-treats kind of action! They'll love to hate you and hate to love you! It’s sick and twisted yes, but think of all the loneliness killing fun to be had? Better yet, don’t. I don’t expect many people are reading us at the workplace, but this shit is definitely NSFW. Oh, and it's also really, really, wrong.




Max

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Deck: catching up on non Fallout 3 games

with school slowing up to once a week and sometimes once every other week, i've had some time to play some games. most of that time has been with fallout 3. the game is insane. period. i can't help but play this any spare second i get. but, i did manage to play some other games while i pried my copy of Fallout 3 out of my deck.


Call of Duty 4

for my multi-player fix, i dropped into COD4 again. sorry, warhawk. i really need to play you more. after double xp weekend a few weeks ago, (well, more like months ago) i chilled out on COD4 for a while. catching you up, i'm at level 37 and i'm starting the shotgun challenges. i'm not doing so well with the transition from my mini-uzi/MP5/M16A4 combo to any shotguns. team deathmatch and domination games have left me shot the fuck up in numerous times. in the end, i put COD4 down to play fallout 3.

PAIN

the old standby. then i realized that the movie studio wasn't out until later in the week, at the time. i put it down to play fallout 3.

Burnout Paradise

jumped back in the play some online since i hadn't played in a while. played a few stuntruns, losing badly i might add. got four trophies. sweet deal. did some freeburn challenges. then jumped back into single player. rocked stuntruns and won all but one before moving to road rage where i promptly flattened out the opposition. to check my stats, hit the jump and see the carnage.

the return of Oblivion

after being lent out to a friend for upwards of three months, i got back my copy of Oblivion. last left off, i was at level 35 with me being knee deep in the shivering isles quests. i currently have two saves. one where i'm close to the end of the game and one where i'm dicking around dungeon crawling and finding random quests and weapons. it's a fun time and it's brand new again. even after some, at last count, 370 hours played. it was almost like i was playing fallout 3. so that leads us to.................

Fallout 3

yeah. you may have read about this one. i'm working on a few quests at a time. i just finished one where you have to go to the Lincoln Memorial and do...something. sorry, no spoilers here. all you need to know is that shooting was plentiful and there was no shortage of targets. i'm doing a quest were i'm picking up a rare drink for a collector that's obsessed with it. it seems to be everywhere, but after going to the factory and finding the shipping list, i'm finding that the places where it was shipped is filled with crazy people. it's a good time.

also, i've been trying to find all the schematics for the special weapons. i have the parts for the railway gun. (which i posted a video showing the head blasting goodness) my new quest is to find the Shishkabob, the gun-powered flaming sword you make out of a lawnmower blade, a motorcycle gas tank, a pilot light and something else. the outcome is awesomeness. as seen here:


did i mention a FUCKING FLAMING SWORD!!!! props to shebut for the vid.



back to fallout 3. later.


J.

DEMO-LITION: A Taste of Bird, Bear, & Zombies

While I usually don't take time to delve into demos unless I'm really curious about a game, or want it and can't afford it, I've checked out a couple demos lately and am here to report on 'em.


Banjo Kazooie: Nuts N' Bolts


I enjoyed the original BK, but my wife Maureen was an absolute fanatic about the two N64 games in the series. She played them non-stop, has a stuffed Banjo-Kazooie plush (which compliments my Mumbo Jumbo plush quite well) and used to draw several cartoony pictures of the bird and bear duo. You'd think we'd both be excited about the new Xbox 360 version, but we're not. We've been skeptical about the whole "Nuts N' Bolts" part, as while building a variety of vehicles may be cool, it seemed too much of a deviation from the original formula. Still, over the weekend when I was looking for the Left 4 Dead demo and couldn't find it, we downloaded this and gave it a try.


The game is beautiful and the character models have been updated and redesigned well. The music is true to form and initially, the gameplay seems fairly intact. Unfortunately, Nuts N' Bolts is one of those annoying Xbox 360 games where only HDTV owners can actually read the in-game text. This was a major bummer, as the game starts out in a town, where a computer screen faced robot, Mumbo Jumbo (in overalls), Grunty the witch and several other anthropomorphic animal characters all have something to say—including how to play the game and build vehicles. This doesn't make the game unplayable, just confusing, as only by leaning in and squinting and working together could we get the essential instructions on what to do. You’ll need to follow instructions too, as initially, the town is blocked by some red force field looking thing which only opens up for exploration after you complete an assigned task. After some fiddling around, it seems Kazooie now has a tractor-beam ability, which allows her to pick up various parts in a level, and flip them or place them elsewhere (like a designated area). There are also vehicles, which presumably you can modify to be a variety of things, but without textual instructions, we had no way of knowing how to do this (plus there weren't too many parts in the opening area).


There is some small amount of good platforming to be had, and the one vehicle we found controls well, though figuring out what to do seemed to be too challenging, because everywhere we went different instructions were being told to us in lengthy text increments, and it got to be too much. The game, at least the opening, is very heavy on dialog. This reminded me of Kameo, which I was excited about ever since it was announced for GameCube but found it disappointing when I finally played it on 360. It was an amazingly put together game, but it just seemed like there was too much of everything. I could wander around the town and talk to people multiple times with them saying different things each time; there were so many moves; so much story... It was a little overwhelming. Of course I only played a little of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts N' Bolts so I can't say it's like that for certain, but it kind of feels like that already. Rare has seemingly (and increasingly) always been about “more of everything” though sometimes less is more. Again though, I only sampled BK: NnB so I should shut the fuck up.


We did make it to the customization part of the game, which is a garage run by Mumbo, and it seems like there are a plethora of ways to customize your vehicle from parts you acquired down to the color scheme. Seemed neat, but there was too much tiny text to try to make sense of it.


Bottom Line: Even if I had an HDTV, I don't think I'd be interested. There's a little bit of the old stuff in there, but it's too different and (apparently) too vast to pull me in. New is good, but I’m not a fan of the little I played and could not understand. Take that as you will. But please, we'll take those XBLA downloads of Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie ASAP!


Left 4 Dead



Dustin called me Tuesday to inform me the Left 4 Dead demo was finally up, and though the jerk never called me back after work to try out the multiplayer, I still put the demo to the test. If you haven't seen the opening film yet, go watch it right now. The game plays out very much like the cinema which establishes the story, as zombies are literally everywhere. Just when you think you’ve killed them all, one (or some) will pop up from behind you, burst through a glass window, or wrap its super long tongue around the neck of one of your teammates (or you!) and start dragging them off—seemingly from completely out of the blue. Sometimes, a zombie mob will come running out from areas you have just come from, meaning there’s no safe angle to turn your back to. On top of all that, these aren’t the slow ass Romero shuffling zombies either, these fuckers run, and climb and jump so you’re really going to need to be on the look out at all times.


Along with the mad amounts of zombies, there are a couple specialized types of undead, like the giant tongue ones previously mentioned. There are orca-fat zombies who will explode if you get too close, spewing zombie-horde-attracting goo all over you, leaving you and your team to be pretty much fucked. However, these fat bastards can be taken out with a single shot from a distance, providing another incentive to proceed carefully. There are also guys called “Hunters” who can jump very high and come at you very fast and ferociously. And don’t be fooled by the cries of what sound like a sad little girl sobbing… The swarms of undead themselves can be a lot to tackle at times too; get too far away from your group and you could be surrounded, with several teeth gnashing at every side of you.


That’s where teamwork comes into play. Again, I was only playing the single player mode with my teammates all computer controlled. Their AI was pretty good though, as they stuck together in a tight knit group unless I boldly led them forward, and would cover my back and each others’ quite well. Having four people on your team means you can fend off the seemingly endless waves of zombies pretty well as long as you work together and cover different sides. It also means you can heal each other after particularly intense fights or give out pain pills that temporarily boost health. I presume there are opportunities to switch weapons with your cohorts as well. Any time you get too far away from the group, you’re asking for trouble; Left 4 Dead is definitely a game that requires you to progress slowly and cohesively as a team if you’re going to do it safely.


The graphics are really excellent (even without having an HDTV you can see the immense detail that went into this game), and depict the action very well. Music is minimal, jarring notes, which is perfect. Gameplay is spot on, as there isn’t just killing undead, there’s times when you want to avoid them, by turning off your flashlight or being careful not to set off car alarms. It’s a really good FPS and I can only imagine it gets four times as sweet once you get a crew together to play. If I’m able to do that soon, I’ll definitely post impressions.


Bottom Line: I didn’t need to play this to want this game. Now that I have, I at least I know the money will be very well spent. It is awesome and exceeds my expectations, despite the fact I’ve only played single player so far. I can see my friends and I playing this one a ton in the coming weeks and months.


Max

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

“Leave Mario Out of This!” – Star Fox 64 Promo: Nintendo Marketing at its Best!

Or should I say worst. This little video was posted on YouTube by someone who found it in a Goodwill store for .75 cents. It features some of the most awful acting I’ve seen this side of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fare as thugs employed at Sega and Sony hijack a Nintendo employee as he parachutes into work (I knew there was a reason I always wanted to work at NOA!). Why you might ask? To torture information out of him to learn about Nintendo’s latest greatest game (in 1996): Star Fox 64 and its amazing “Rubble Pak” technology. It gets even more terrible from there, so have at it:

Still, with the rumble and the four-screen multiplayer, ol’ Star Fox 64 was pretty revolutionary at the time. The commercial on the other hand… Anyway, thanks to my pal Jason Frisbie for finding this and sending it in after hearing my incessant Peppy Hare imitations!


“Bah Doom Doom Dabba!” – Falco from the original Star Fox


Max

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

notes from the wastelands: fallout 3 videos VOL. 1



i just thought that since i've been prattling on about how awesome Fallout 3 is, so i figured that i'd post some videos of the game and some of cooler aspects of the game. up first, the railway gun. this is one of the weapons you can cobble together with random trash you find out in the wastes. beheading with railroad spikes; priceless.

J.

In Deck/On Deck: End of the Quarter Craziness Edition

Although I haven’t had too much time to play games or post, writing this I see that I’ve definitely been able to squeeze in some game time despite school stress. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been playing lately. I’ve recently put all my GameCube games in a huge CD book alongside my Wii games, and quite a few of these games that I’m playing take advantage of the fact that Wii can play GameCube and Virtual Console games.


IN DECK:


Wario Land Shake It! (Wii)


I bought Wario not long ago after I had a really shitty week. The animation and music to this game are really special, as it’s amazing to see Wario so animated and unbelievable how great the soundtrack is (tracks of which can be unlocked by accomplishing everything within a level). The gameplay doesn’t fall short either as it’s a great 2D platformer with sensible “waggle” moves that don’t disrupt the game or seem tacked on. There’s lots of challenges to every stage and each subsequent level gets tougher. Maureen has fallen in love with this game and is obsessively completing every challenge for every level. Me, I’m a bit more relaxed, just getting through levels and will go back to find treasures or complete challenges later. If you liked any of the previous Wario Land games or love 2D platformers, Wario Land Shake It! is worth your sheckles.


Soul Calibur IV (Xbox 360)


Soul Calibur IV is fantastic. Hands down the best Soul Calibur yet, with tons of characters, weapons, and a fantastic customizable character feature, it’s hard to top it. The fighting mechanics are all there, accessible to newbies but offers a lot for mastery. Yoda is a cheap character and is basically the Oddjob (i.e. banned character) from my Versus matches with friends. I’ve recently had a chance to try out the “Tower” mode, where you ascend a tower, fighting groups of enemies, one after another—not dissimilar to the Weapons Master mode in previous games. It’s cool, but ultra frustrating, and it’s hard to earn treasures—which in turn unlock an achievement. When I’ve played I’ve really tried to work on getting achievements because they are tied to getting new costume pieces. The more the merrier I say, and I’m eager to get a wealth of them before I start messing around with character creation. Unfortunately, the road to achievements has been slow. I need to get my friend back this copy of the game though and get my own! However, I’m not in quite as much of a hurry as I was. It’ll keep…


Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (Nintendo DS)


If you’ve played Elite Beat Agents then you probably know that Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! is the original Japanese version of the game. Maureen got it for me for Christmas 2006 and the sequel for my birthday 2008 (because she’s the best). They are two of my all time favorites and games I practically refuse to loan out, because I never know when I’ll need an Ouendan moment. The premise of a male cheer squad swooping in to save the day in any number of problems (from helping a boy study for exams to fending off an alien invasion of robots) with a PMA (that’s Positive Mental Attitude), a dance and a song. No need for Japanese language skills, you’ll get the gist of the story of each stage. With the presidential election coming to a close and the soundtrack in my car lately, I picked it up recently as I wanted to play the level about an election (what I assume it is anyway), where a young candidate struggles to make his mark. Meanwhile, his evil opponent uses a dangerous hair spray that turns potential voters into purple wigged zombies, mindless to anything but his bidding. If it sounds pretty fucked up and wacky Jappy, it is, but it is also like 3000% awesomeness.


F-Zero (SNES by way of Wii Virtual Console)


One gaming night, Maureen and Aaron busted out F-Zero X on our Wii’s VC and raced several times. It once again drove the point home that Maureen kicks serious ass in F-Zero games. On election night, I fired up the original on VC (one of the first VC games I got, and the game that made me want a SNES way back when) and tried getting through some of the circuits. I was doing pretty well compared to earlier sessions and was really enjoying it. It’s a classic, I can’t wait for a Wii version, and I want to play more of it, F-Zero X and F-Zero GX, soon.



Starfox 64 (N64 by way of Wii Virtual Console)


I’m always imitating Peppy Hare from this game, yelling “FOOOXXXX! USE THE BRAAAAKES!” or “USE THE BOOST TO CHASE, FOX!” or “DO A BARREL ROLL!” and it drives Maureen crazy. I had the opportunity to share these jokes with Aaron, who hadn’t been beaten over the head with them, and therefore found them funny. This led to me playing through Starfox 64 in its entirety on my Wii’s VC with Aaron and I trading off at levels. This was, and is, truly a remarkable game. It’s a bit dated, though the fun is still there. We ended up on a super easy path, missing some of the better moments of the game, including a showdown with Andross that was truly challenging. Good times though. It reminded me once again why Sin & Punishment is the better rails shooter (despite it being far more linear and having less levels) and made me wish Nintendo would actually make a sequel to this series that actually is a shooter with Fox in his Arwing and not fucking around in other genres.




Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis by way of Wii Virtual Console)


Aaron has this on his VC and we played it one night while intoxicated. It was very fun, and I remember how cool I used to think the series was. It’s dated, but it’s definitely better than the one-player only home version of Final Fight available on VC and a step up from Double Dragon. I also learned that the series is called “Bare Knuckle” in Japan. Isn’t that a much cooler name than Streets of Rage?
Anyway, it was a good time, and it’s aged OK, but like any side scrolling beat-‘em-up, it gets repetitive. I played as young, street-smart Skate and breakdanced my way through many a foe or locked steel door, often attacking Aaron’s controlled Axel by accident.


“Nooooooo Skate! White Man FRIEND!” I cried out in vain, as my random button pushes caused Skate to jump on Axel’s shoulders and beat him about the head.


Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E.: The Kinnikuman Legacy (GameCube)


I’m not the biggest wrestling fan, only watching tidbits here and there, and I’m an even less of a fan of wrestling games. Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E. definitely stands out as one of my favorite GameCube games though and has me appreciating the genre. It’s by Aki (who made many a great wrestler), it stars those little flesh colored M.U.S.C.L.E. Men lifesized and colorized, and it is too over-the-top for words. It’s tag team wrestling action with solid controls, hilarious commentary by announcers, and ridiculously damaging combo moves that see your characters flying through the air doing kicks and leg drops and whatnot with really corny names (like “Texas Condor Kick!”).


Plus there are a bunch of extra characters that I think(?) were designed by fans. From the heart-nipple Panda Man to the Frog-like Mr. French, there’s a lot of variety. For some reason, some of the game’s music got stuck in my head last week and I had to play it. It was a blast, but the overblown silliness got to be too much before long. It's something that is definitely better with four players, so maybe next time I get a crew together, I'll break it out again.


Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360)


I said it all already here. Rock Band + Alcohol + Lots of Friends adds up to tons of fun, every time (unless one of said friends is a crazy and/or mean drunk!)!


Crazy Taxi (GameCube)


“Hey! Hey! HEY! Come on in, and have some fun with CRAAAAAZY TAXI!” My brother Patrick and I used to be obsessed with this game and its Wolfman Jack sound-a-like announcer. We’d play it endlessly, especially after mastering and abusing the boost in the GameCube version (which was 100% easier to do than in the Dreamcast one). If I got into all the private jokes that came out of those sessions, it’d be a three page post. Anyway, Maureen had never seen it and I’d been meaning to show it to her forever. We broke it out, and while I did decently, but I began to see how necessary having the boost mastered is key to having a good run. It was a fun dash through memory lane, but we didn’t play too long. But with Crazy Taxi, do you really need to? I don’t know, but I do know the immortal words of B.D. Joe might have an answer: “Shut up and move your butt!”


Boom Blox (Wii)


I’ve been really curious about Boom Blox for awhile, as it’s received high accolades for being an amazing party game. After borrowing it from my bro-in-law, I’m here to report it definitely lives up to the hype. There are so many types of games from breaking up a Jenga-like tower by “tossing” a ball at the screen, to shooting games, strategy puzzle games—just a lot of different styles of play, all of them better with friends. It’s by far a better party game than Mario Party 8 because of its less involved pick-up-and-play nature and is lightyears above Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz because unlike that game, the waggle mini games actually work! If you’ve got friends and a Wii, I highly recommend this one.



Sin & Punishment (N64 by way of Wii Virtual Console)


The obsession continues. After Aaron bought his Wii, I bought him Sin & Punishment and watched him play through it in its entirety a few weeks ago. After that, I worked diligently to beat it on Normal Mode, practicing levels before playing my saved game. Finally, I made it to the end boss, where you earn more lives in a battle than you loose, so it’s virtually impossible to run out of Continues. One Saturday morning, I picked it up and continued my saved game and beat the (incredibly hard) final boss on my first try. GET BONUS! In doing so, I unlocked the soundtrack of the game, which I’ve listened to over and over until the boughs of Maureen’s patience breaks. Now, I need beat Hard Mode to unlock frameskip mode and x2 speed mode—both which make things super crazy. The cool thing about playing S&P on different difficulty levels is that there are new enemies, different attacks, and much trickier challenges. Starting in on hard, there’s a lot more stuff added over medium than I remember too. I love this game so much!


Cubivore (GameCube)


One of the advantages of having all my GameCube games in one giant book is that it makes it easy to play any of those older games a lot easier—and random, as in you never know what you might pull out next. We recently pulled out Cubivore which I’ve had in my possession for awhile but haven’t played…not, exactly anyway. Back in my game reviewing days, I played the Japanese version, Animal Leader (which was published by Nintendo) extensively, but didn’t understand any of the story. Playing it in English provided a good look at what I was missing (as the job Atlus did localizing is really nice), and was like reuniting with an old friend. The basic gameplay encapsulating the circle of life in the wild with its bizarre block art style and simple, yet very groovy music, was great to revisit. There’s nothing like clamping down on a flat flap of animal, chewing it a bit, then ripping it from its body to mutate to a new form. It’s definitely one of (if not the) weirdest GameCube game that got to our shores


Samba De Amigo (Wii)


Before your Guitar Hero whosits and Rock Band whatnots, there was Samba De Amigo. Well, I got it on Wii Friday and have been loving it! The bare bones games of the Dreamcast have been reborn with some meat on them in this Gearbox developed title with many modes, challenges, and more songs than the two Dreamcast titles combined. I didn’t get the packaged-in maracas but I don’t care; two Wii-remotes with maraca noises coming out of their speakers is just about the same. What is not the same is that you don’t need much motion to trigger the “shake;” just a little pointing up or down re-orients the cursor, so I’m digging this version a lot more than the original. Another cool feature is that your Mii is used onscreen with Samba and company while the song plays. If there are two players, both Miis are shown; if just one player plays, than a random Mii takes up the second slot. So I’ve been jamming with J, Dustin, Star Fox, Luigi, and Sarah Palin Miis while I play, which makes things interesting (not that you can pay too much attention to all the animation onscreen while playing). There’s a few mini-games as well, a couple of which are decent.

Also, there’s multiplayer, which I got to play after I conned Mareen into trying the game. Not only does she like the game, she is better at it than me! We played a couple different multiplayer modes, co-op, versus, and one called “Love Mode” where your grade is determined by how many beats you can play simultaneously. The only problem? Some of the songs were dated when the game first came out in 1999 (such as “Macarena” & “Tub Thumping”). All the same, welcome back Samba De Amigo!


ON DECK:


Super Mario World


After Louis Armstrong’s Mario song and very horribly nonsensical YouTube videos (that nonetheless amused me) I want to revisit this one bad. I have it on VC, and though I’ve played a lot of it and beaten it, I’ve never gone through the game beginning to end. Now I’m on a mission.


Super Mario Galaxy


This one has lingered on my backlog list too long. My niece had it forever, and as soon as school lets up, it’s back to Super Mario Galaxy for me.


Professor Layton and the Curious Village


I love this game, even though I suck at the brain teasers. Once I’m out of school, I definitely plan on spending some more time with the Professor and Luke.


No More Heroes


I need to return to Santa Destroy to finish this bitch up. Just a few more assassins on my list to knock off and claim their titles!


Left 4 Dead


As soon as I get it, it’s on! Meanwhile, I should be getting all over the demo tonight-hopefully in cahoots with Dustin!


Whew! Maybe this lengthy list has something to do with me being a little behind in school? Naaaaaaaaahhhh....


Max