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Zelda Reorchestrated [Game Overview]
Jan 22nd, 2010 by Dan

Right around Christmas of 2009, Zelda Reorchestrated completed a pretty ambitious musical project: a reorchestration of the Ocarina of Time soundtrack. The free, 82-track download is available to download here and I’ve given the songs a listen or two and they’re fantastic.

As someone who actually owns the original Ocarina of Time soundtrack, I was impressed by the high quality work that this fan group was able to bring to bring to the project. Not only are the tracks faithful to the original music, they’re actually a vast improvement from the original MIDI-synthesized tracks that we’ve all become accustomed to.

A month later I’m impressed that the work hasn’t seen some sort of cease-and-desist or been sued, but I wouldn’t wait around too long to download the collection if this kind of thing interests you. It’s really only a matter of time before Nintendo cracks down on this.

Rock Band News

This week the Rock Band Network, the service enabling non-Harmonix-employed musicians to chart their tracks for Rock Band, entered open beta for anyone interested in working with the software. Recent interviews give reason to believe that the service is within a few months of launching, which represents a way awesome breakthrough on the platform, least of which is because I’ve seen the Rx Bandits listed as a band who will be utilizing the service.

I’m just really excited to see the game move forward as a new way to experience music and not see them cash in as much as Activision has with its Guitar Hero franchise. That’s not to say that Harmonix won’t be releasing any new games this year. Both Green Day: Rock Band and Rock Band 3 are expected to launch this year, but I know I can live with a two-year Rock Band cycle, so I don’t mind too much.

On Tim Schafer, Apotheosis, and Video Game Rockstars: A Brütal Legend Review [Game Overview]
Nov 20th, 2009 by Dan

Apotheosis
1. The fact or action of becoming a god; deification
2. Glorification, exaltation; crediting someone with extraordinary power or status.

Do you know who Tim Schafer is?

When I still lived at home, my dad used to ask me, “When are you gonna grow up and stop playing video games?” He tells my mother that he’s sure I’m addicted to the medium. It’s true that I spend the vast majority of my free time playing games. I can name developers, producers, writers, designers, and even composers for games from my favorite series of games. This vast information age enables me to know everything about a game, down to its minutia, just by checking an online database. If there’s not enough information there, I can almost guarantee there are five or six fansites devoted to uncovering every last detail. It must be daunting for developers nowadays to produce in this environment.

My dad says these things, but I’m not sure he understands that this is just the nature of hobbies nowadays. Not too long ago we could almost justifiably claim an unhealthy obsession with the works of Deepak Chopra and transcendental meditation. Eric’s life revolves around photography nowadays almost as much as mine involves interactive entertainment. This is what hobbies are like now. Think of an obscure hobby, like stamp collecting, and I’ll guarantee you that someone out there spends a couple of hours a week producing a podcast for tons of people to listen to.

The point is, there’s a growing number of people who actually know just who is behind the games they play, a huge contrast to the early Famicom days.

It’s not exactly the fault of the developers that we had no idea who was behind our games back in the day. Standard process for Famicom-era games was to credit oneself via a pseudonym to prevent talent poaching. How would you be able to tell that seeing Gondamin credited as a composer meant you were listening to Junko Tamiya’s music? Famed Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune still goes by INAFKING in some games.

Now that games are actually credited properly, it’s not uncommon for people to know that Bioshock was the brainchild of Ken Levine or that the wackiness of Metal Gear comes from Hideo Kojima. Nintendo actually keeps Shigeru Miyamoto’s hobbies on the down low because they don’t want people to speculate on what ideas his brilliant mind will come up with next. We’re talking a complete 180° shift here.

Eddie Riggs: “Ever feel like you were born in the wrong time – like you should have been born earlier, when the music was… real?”
Roadie: “Like the seventies?”
Eddie: “No. Earlier… like the early seventies.”

Embedded within all enthusiast cultures is the cachet that comes with either “being there first” or experiencing a unique experience that the ignorant masses overlooked. Go to Brooklyn, grab the first guy with crazy hair and skinny jeans you can find (protip: you won’t have a hard time finding one), and ask him what his favorite bands are. Chances are, unless you’re from the Brooklyn scene too, you won’t have heard of any of the groups he’s mentions. He will consider you a barbarian for liking commercial music and you will consider punching him in the face.

I think it’s clear where I’m going here, so I won’t belabor the point.

Have you ever played Grim Fandango?

We arrive at the natural conclusion: these developers, thanks to the power of the Internet and rabid fans like myself, are now legends in their own right. When Miyamoto talks, everyone listens and when Tim Schafer makes a game, I buy it (we’ll ignore the fact that I don’t own Psychonauts or Full Throttle). All this devotion and dedication to one man is based on the strength of four games: The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, and Grim Fandango, the last of which is the only one solely under Schafer’s artistic control (the true Monkey Island games were made by the holy trinity of Gilbert, Grossman, and Schafer while DotT was a Grossman/Schafer collaboration). When I played Grim Fandango for the first time in 2002, it was on the strength of Schafer’s Monkey Island reputation, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you his name until 2007 when I started listening to video game podcasts.

The press gushed and gushed about how good Schafer’s games were and how Psychonauts was criminally under appreciated and created the image of a brilliant game designer whose games featured great comedy writing and stories, but mediocre gameplay. Think about this for a second: Tim Schafer is famous for being a commercial underdog whose games are only hampered by mediocre controls. Before Psychonauts, Schafer’s only games were adventure games. Controls are irrelevant in that context, so Schafer has a reputation based on one game.

What’s worse is that I totally bought into the hype. I found myself thinking, I hope poor Tim Schafer isn’t underappreciated yet again. Really? After one game? This is the industry. This is modern, enthusiast society. This is madness.

Did you buy Psychonauts?

I can’t say that it started there, but the first time I ever saw an editorial campaign intended to raise a game’s sales was back around 2003 at IGN. Matt Casamassina, a fellow fan of Eternal Darkness, was bummed about the lackluster sales of what was actually a really great game, but its downsides were twofold: it was a new IP and it was a dark, mature game launching on the Gamecube, clearly the wrong platform for the game. The point of the campaign was that mature games would not continue to launch on the Gamecube if no one bought it, so everyone should take one for the good of the team and play this game. As you might expect, the plan failed and, for all I know, Casamassina still does his best to drum up sales of mature games on Nintendo platforms (he was back in 2008 when I still listened to IGN podcasts) with the same results. The Internet’s a tricky place. Everyone will agree that these games are criminally underrated by their sales numbers, but no one is willing to actually open up their pocketbooks.

Well, there is at least one. At some point I got it into my mind that if I wanted to keep seeing good games, I should support the ones that are trying to innovate in the field, regardless of whether I want them or not. It’s why I own Zack and Wiki and Little King’s Story, despite having no real interest in either. I just wanted to support good, non-minigame collections on the Wii. Lucky for me, nine times out of ten the stance that I want to support means that I’m supporting a game or series that I do truly love. Paying for the Day 1 DLC in Dragon Age: Origins is a hot issue for many who are morally opposed to content appearing on Day 1, despite the fact that this stuff probably wasn’t ready for a Day 1 launch. Regardless, I own both packs because I love Bioware as a developer and I want to see them continue to make good games. Likewise, it might have been a few parts my completist nature, but I used to buy every bit of DLC offered by Harmonix for the Rock Band series because I wanted to support their philosophy on music gaming over Activision’s (I also don’t buy used games for a similar reason).

It’s an attitude not limited to games either, I no longer pirate anything and actually buy CDs, .mp3s, and DVDs to support the artists that I treasure. It’s kind of foolish and I get burned sometimes with mediocre stuff, but I think it’s still worth it.

The take home message here is that my purchase of Brütal Legend comes from a complicated place. Tim Schafer, a man elevated to game-god status, a rock star, if you will, being the primary catalyst while the rest of my logic amounted to a combination of wanting Double Fine to find success in their game releases for once and rewarding EA for picking up this title after Activision so unceremoniously dropped it.

Was that a good idea?

It may not be the truth, but it’s the better story.

Brütal Legend is the worst kind of lie. It’s singing love songs with the girl of your dreams on a road trip, but you’re the only one who means it, while your best friend is sleeping in the backseat, blissfully unaware of the metaphor. That’s not to say it’s an evil, insidious lie, it’s just pretending to be one thing while slowly guiding you toward another. Boot up the game, watch Jack Black, go to the Land of Metal, and you’re expecting a 3rd person action brawler. Not too long into it it’s become an open-world brawler, complete with vehicle sections. An hour or two after that and you’re partaking in a hybrid RTS/3rd person action brawler/open-world driving game. It’s bait-and-switch executed marvelously. You might hate the RTS portions, but you’re already hooked on the story and you’ve got to begrudgingly see the rest of it through.

I’ll guarantee that most players didn’t even know that their game had RTS elements before purchasing it. How would they have when all the advertising campaigns featured only the 3rd person combat? Was this an evil move on EA’s part?

As a supporter of Tim Schafer, I say no. It’s a lie, no doubt, but it serves a greater purpose. This game cannot be distilled into its distinct parts in a 30 second action reel. Why not bring in the sales on the game on this promise? It’s not like it’s a total lie, it’s more like a half-truth. You will be fighting in the 3rd person for majority of the game, you’ve just also got to manage your troops well or you will lose. Then again, I have a hard time defending deception to the consumer on such a grand scale. Did Brütal Legend lie to all of us? No one went out and outright said it was one thing, but gave you another. There was even a demo out there. Is it really “Buyer Beware” to give the impression of one thing in your advertisements and deliver a slightly different thing? This isn’t like giving top billing to an actor who only appears for three minutes of a movie, is it?

“We say, over and over again, that the default player actions in a single-player game should be compelling enough to make you believe with all your soul that a two-player deathmatch situation using two player character clones and said default player actions would be at least as compelling as the actual game.”

– tim rogers in his Bionic Commando: Rearmed Review

tim rogers makes a point in countless reviews that a game’s core mechanic should be good enough that you can play it in multiplayer ad infinitum and have just as much fun with it. Brütal Legend takes that just a touch too literally. Double Fine so desperately wants you to love their multiplayer that the entire singe-player campaign is a training mission to prepare you for multiplayer. The final units and mechanics are all finally nailed down for the player in the penultimate battle. I’m not kidding, you can’t do everything until right before you fight the final boss. It goes against everything that “we,” the player, knows about games. When you play the campaign in StarCraft, haven’t you gained access to the entire tech tree after maybe four of the ten missions in the campaign? Maybe I’m wrong and this isn’t true, but it’s certainly not right before the final boss.

I see what the intention is. Strong multiplayer drives down the resale of games. Pre-owned game purchases are money lost to the developer. We’ve seen this trick already, EA, it’s why Dragon Quest made you grind for ages and why DLC and special pack-in unlocks are so prevalent in the games of today.

Back on message, the problem with this structure is that I didn’t want to play multiplayer once I finished. I’ve yet to boot it up once. That’s not to say that the game is terrible, it’s just not mechanically sound (and, lo, we now have a pattern that we can apply to Schafer).

“The road is fuckin’ hard,
The road is fuckin’ tough-ah”

-Tenacious D – “The Road”

Before I dive even further into the mechanics, perhaps a look into the raison d’être for Brütal Legend, its story, is in order. I should start by saying that the most surprising thing about this game is that the player is controlling Eddie Riggs, not Jack Black. Despite his tendency to be Jack Black in almost every role he plays, credit has to be given to Tim Schafer and Double Fine for writing him as someone completely different. There’s not one “skedoosh” uttered by Riggs in the whole game and even the part where Jack Black is Jack Black is decidedly restrained and non-Jack Black-like.

So the player controls this guy, Eddie Riggs, who is a roadie for a fictional metal band, Kabbage Boy, that’s all kinds of terrible in the modern, faux-metal, emo kind of way. The intro has this great part where the band starts off with an appropriately epic power cord, only to have a DJ break in with some scratches while the song devolves into a pop-nonsense song about the lead singer’s girlfriend. After saving one of the band member’s lives due to some reckless climbing (all while staying out of the spotlight), Eddie is crushed by some of the stage and his blood lands on his belt buckle, summoning the Metal god Ormagöden, who kills the members of Kabbage Boy and transports Eddie to a mystical world of METAL (if I could make flames burst out of this review, I would). For a guy like Riggs, this is a dream come true since the entire landscape looks something like the album cover to the metal records of old. Demons rule this world and enslave humans, but there is a small resistance group led by a man named Lars that Eddie joins to get closer to Ophelia, a woman he meets when he first teleports in.

The beauty of Schafer’s tale comes from the heavily enforced role of the roadie. Eddie Riggs is not out for glory and, despite the fact that he is the resistance and the main character throughout the entire game, he is not the hero. Maybe it’s Eddie’s personality, but he is firmly devoted to being a roadie and unused to the spotlight. It’s so ingrained in his character, that the narrative only addresses the discrepancy between what Eddie does and what he gets credit for maybe twice and both times he quickly brushes off. The story isn’t about Riggs becoming a hero in a world in which he belongs, which is strange, because it clearly features him uniting humanity and freeing mankind. Instead it’s a (METAL!) love story between Eddie and Ophelia and a damn good one at that.

Both the characters of Eddie and Ophelia are believable and both the dialog and voice acting between Eddie and everyone else is among the best I’ve seen in any game (top marks also go to the Uncharted series, the second of which I played right before Brütal Legend). The metal legends chosen to make cameos (Ozzy Osbourne, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister among others) do fantastic jobs of being both themselves and (especially in Ozzy’s case) fucking metal. Even the professionals like Jack Black and Tim Curry do some of their best work while industry veterans Jennifer Hale continues to prove that she’s one of the best in the business (don’t believe me? Check out her gameography).

At the end of it all, it’s clear what Schafer’s true strength is: world-building. Grim Fandango takes place in a wholly unique, single-serving world inspired completely by the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico with a dash of hell, demons, and the 1920s mafia. Psychonauts takes place within the brains of its cast of characters, with each mindscape inspired by psychology featuring wildly different neuroses, themes, and ideas. Brütal Legend, as you know, is inspired by heavy metal and creates a world where bass notes can heal, guitar strings are crafted by metal spiders, and guitar solos have the power to literally melt faces off. In each case his brilliance and creativity shines through and the player never wants to leave. He is unparalleled in this respect.

Brutal Legend draws itself up proudly. “I am a bastard child of the schizophrenic postmodern age. Know only that I am metal, and that I was forged from the raw materials of innumerable genres. No single acronym can contain my all. I am pure hybrid.”
-Chris Clemens. “At the Gates of Genre

Should Tim Schafer give up on games? I refuse to go on the record as saying that Brütal Legend is a bad game. Trust me, it’s not. On the other hand, it’s also not very good. It’s wild hybridization of multiple game styles and mechanics don’t combine for the better and the game winds up a jack of all trades, but, well, you know the rest. No one aspect of the actual game mechanics make me want to boot the game up again. Melee fighting is shallow because only two buttons can be allotted (you need to be able to control your troops and play guitar with the others). Driving is just a faster way of getting from point A to B and feels unsatisfying.

Quick Aside Time

I understand that this is hard and that resources are better spent elsewhere (not to mention that invisible walls serve to keep the player within them), but we, as gamers, need to take a stand against the goddamn trees in video games. How many fucking metal :throws up horns: nitro boosts did I waste because a thin, pathetic looking tree turned out to be The Epic Tree of Arrested Momentum. Seriously, if you’ve got small logs that I can drive through at low speeds, then why can’t I drive through a thin bit of underbrush? Then again, my car can fall thousands of feet and take no damage, so maybe my car and the trees are made of the same mystical, physics-distorting material.

Back to the review…

I can go on ad infinitum about every system in the game: the guitar solos are shallow, the RTS-style mechanics are frustratingly imprecise, the quest structure is repetitive, and the collectibles are annoyingly difficult to track and collect. Tell me Schafer, if I’ve got a map that automatically draws itself as I discover new parts of the world, why can’t it have a toggle switch to show me which collectibles I’ve already found? Ask my friend Ian how many hours I spent searching for the last (of 120) Bound Serpent in the game. It’s MADDENING.

At the end of the game, when evil has been vanquished and all the credit and accompanying hero worship has fallen on Lars and his sister, Lita, we see Eddie drive away, content to be a mere footnote in history, despite being the only reason that the history of that world continues. I return to the question, should Schafer stop making games himself? Wouldn’t he be a much better world designer for other projects? Isn’t Tim Schafer a better Eddie Riggs than a Lars? On one hand, I want him to continue to have the freedom to make his own full, artistic visions come true, but with two consecutive commercial failures under his belt (Brütal Legend has reportedly sold only 200,000 or so copies in Rocktober, but we’ll see what Christmas brings), will the industry keep giving him a chance?

Lars: “What do you do with a bunch of kids that just wanna bang their heads all the time?”
Eddie Riggs: *tears in eyes* “You start a revolution Lars…”

Tim Schafer is a rock star. There are few people in the industry who get what it means to craft a world, but the staff at Double Fine, Schafer-included, need to sit down and think about game design a little more. It’s got to be hard to reign in Schafer’s monstrous creative energy, but it would be a good idea to try to focus on getting fewer things perfect in their next game. The sad truth is that they haven’t got many more chances. Most of them could probably find jobs elsewhere, but the only member of their team with absolute job security is Tim Schafer. He will always be a Lars in the industry. Developers would be nuts not to give him top billing of some kind (note that the boxart for Brütal Legend explicitly states “A Tim Schafer game” above the title) and he deserves that kind of praise. So, to answer my previous question, Tim Schafer should absolutely make games, but perhaps he needs to narrow his sights a little bit and focus more on his core mechanics. Less can be more when you have to sacrifice quality.

Furthermore, have I learned anything about hero-worship in the industry? If anything, I think that writing this review has caused me to reevaluate the stances I take for granted on game companies and the artists I love, in general. I still think that the most effective way to lobby for anything in this industry is with consumer dollars, but I’m finding myself increasingly disenchanted with how little the sales from a small, dedicated fanbase amounts to. I mean, look at what my money did for the MLB Power Pros series in America? Given the decision again today, I would still go out and buy Brütal Legend. I like it that much, game mechanics aside, but with only 200,000 in sales, I’m pretty sure it will be a while before Double Fine is able to round up as much capital as I’m sure they did for this game (which may be to their benefit). On the other, Dan-has-learned-something hand, I’m pretty sure that I’m no longer giving everyone a carte blanche license to earn money from me. Metal Gear Solid 4 was such a disappointment to me that it will take some prodding for me to really trust Kojima again. Nintendo has flip-flopped around so much with Mario that I’m unsure where I stand. Mario Galaxy was not the breath of fresh air I thought it would be, but New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a masterpiece of sharp, 2-D game design combined with the brilliant addition of 4-player co-op. I no longer buy mature titles for the Wii. DVD box sets of shows that I casually want to remain on the air no longer get bought. Some things have been learned.

Take Home Review Message:
Brütal Legend is a definite rental, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending that you buy it until you’ve tried out the multiplayer.

No MLB PP 2009 Again, Cheaper PS3, and More L4D Campaigns! [Game Overview]
Aug 7th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

I get tired of saying it guys, but, really, MLB Power Pros 2009 is not coming to North America. Nintendo has, yet again, released a list of upcoming titles for 2009 (seen here, from Kotaku)

Seriously guys, it sucks, but we’re not getting the game.

Gamestop Getting Paid

Hey readers, surprise! Gamestop likes to make money. Since they like making money so much, they’ve launched their own digital download store for casual games.

Considering that digital download retail will be the death of the traditional Gamestop, it’s rather forward-looking and a wise business move to get on track with this.

Cost Reduction

Sony has managed to drop the production cost of the PS3 by 70%, a huge margin that can only mean great things for a console manufacturer who was selling at a pretty major loss per unit. With rumors abound about the PS3 slim swirling around and a drastic need for a price reduction, it seems Sony is right where it needs to be to pull the trigger and make something happen to increase sales. Whether or not they do so will remain to be seen.

Trailer Break!

You’ve seen the Uncharted 2 trailer, but have you seen it…in Japanese?

I don’t know about Japanese characterization, but it seems that they’ve lost the lighthearted, scoundrel-like voice for Drake while both Elena and Chloe have voices so similar that I can’t tell them apart. It’s really bizarre to see something so distinctly American with a completely different audio track, but I like it.

New L4D Campaign!

Valve stated that there was a reason that L4D2 was coming out when it was and claimed that they weren’t done supporting Left 4 Dead (obligatory L4D2 reference on this week’s GO). They made good on those claims this week with the announcement of a new campaign for Left 4 Dead called Crash Course.

Our latest adventure for our heroes has been slated as a connecting mini-campaign that bridges the end of No Mercy, in which our heroes escape via helicopter, to the beginning of Death Toll, which begins at a camp site.

It’s a strange shift in philosophy concerning the first game, as the developer commentaries mentioned an overarching narrative idea that they trashed in lieu of just having four independent campaigns. I’m not saying I mind connecting the two games together with one narrative, but the about face is a bit jarring.

Can’t complain about free (on PC) content, though! Go Valve! I can’t wait for L4D2 in November!

Big Money for EA and Other Sales Data

Guess what guys? The Sims 3 sold. A lot. The numbers are somewhere in the 3.7 million copy range for everyone’s favorite life simulator. What’s more, EA’s brilliant idea to cash in on the fitness craze with the more western-focused EA Sports Active has earned them great sales numbers to the tune of 1.8 million copies sold to date.

Other big sales winners obviously include Nintendo, who has already sold 500,000 copies of Wii Sports Resort in America within eight days of launch. Japan has seen a cool 828,000 copies leave the shelves proving that Nintendo still hasn’t lost its edge.

The other two big franchises of Japan, Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter, have seen recent releases. DQIX has hit 3.39 million copies sold this week with 3.5 million copies shipped and the new release of Monster Hunter Tri has already sold 520,000 copies this week. A few games can’t exactly revive the entire industry, but it’s nice to see that the juggernauts are still selling like hot cakes.

Delays

For the first time in ages, titles have been backing out of the holiday launch window to head for the greener pastures of Q1. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have gotten the same memo and not talked to each other, because so many games have been delayed to 2010 that it’s starting to get too crowded out in January and February.

One game whose delay has nothing to do with the aforementioned information is Blizzard’s Starcraft II. Many of you remember Blizz stating that Starcraft II would require a four-to-six month beta test to determine that it was ready. Guess what, we’ve passed the point where six months can still fit comfortably within 2009. As a result, we’re looking at a 2010 release.

I hope none of you were surprised by this, we all knew it was going to happen.

The best news of a game not delayed will come from the lawsuit settlement between Activision Blizzard and Double Fine Productions. Brütal Legend is free from legal limits to its release this fall. Rejoice all ye fans of Tim Schafer.

Seacrest out!

Pew Pew Pew [Game Overview]
Jul 3rd, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

The most amazingly adorable Mega Man ever.

Sweet Brothers Art

Ever wanted to see some great renditions of the Mario Bros.? Well, BAM!

SNES!

It’s kind of old news, but here’s a neat way to use an old SNES to connect to a PC and play your carts on an emulator.

SNL Hilarity

Ever wonder what a game based on a depressing drama would be like? Wonder no more.

Floyd-tastic!

Daniel Floyd, with Leigh Alexander’s help, has put out a new video! Check out “Video Games and the Female Audience”

Red, White, and Blue!

The Fourth of July is tomorrow! If you love Little Big Planet and you love America, you’ll no doubt love the new Sacktue of Liberty Sackboy skins to celebrate your love for both.

Blizzard Gets Chilly with Audience

Do you love to play Starcraft at LAN parties? Too bad! According to Kotaku, Blizzard has decided to completely remove LAN support from Starcraft II.

I understand why they’re doing this. They’re trying to curb piracy. No doubt you know tons of people who totally pirated a copy of Starcraft or Warcraft 3, so now this cuts out one of the major draws, since players will have to connect to Battle.Net to play other people.

There’s also the fact that Battle.Net is ad-supported. Guess what you don’t see when you play a LAN game? This is one of the best ways to completely milk all of the money that they can out of Starcraft.

The one downside: super-low latency games will now be impossible.

I usually have so much goodwill for Blizzard, but this reeks of Activision. I don’t like it and I think it’s an awful idea. I’m not mad enough to not buy the game, but this is definitely uncool. Online petitions are pretty dumb, as I’ve said before, but feel free to sign!

Ero-Banning

There’s been a developing situation on the Internets involving the Ero-Game industry in Japan. Again, according to Kotaku, due to the controversy over RapeLay, an increasing number of Japanese H-Game developers are blocking any and all foreign IP addresses from accessing their websites. This seems like a rather drastic response to the recent threats of legislation upon their industry that have resulted from an increase of sexual crimes in Japan coupled with poor international press from the rest of the world.

I can see where Japan is coming from here in trying to insulate themselves from the rest of their world that doesn’t “get” their hentai games, but I really can’t support segregation on the internet.

Emulate!

Sony seems to have patented a software emulation technique to run PS2 software on non-PS2 compatible PS3s (thanks again Kotaku!)

Too Hard? Just Cheat!

Is Guitar Hero too hard? Here’s a control that will play the game for you!

New FF

Kotaku reports that a new Final Fantasy side story is coming to the DS. Story details are light at the moment, but I’m definitely supporting all of these DS games by Square Enix.

That’s all for this week!

Warcraft Retrospective [Embedded Reporter]
Nov 17th, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.
I love the Gametrailers Retrospectives. They do a great job of summing up great games. This episode is all about the WoW games.

Game Overview: E3
Jul 11th, 2008 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

It’s that time of year again, E3 season. Come next week the nonsense will begin yet again in California, but in the same diminished capacity it showed up in last year. The relevance of the show was really tested last year with the new format which eschewed the old convention hall, complete with flashy lights, long lines, and booth babes in favor of smaller company-run events in separate hotels.

As you might have guessed, part of the problem with this new format is the lack of a centralized show floor. As crowded and hectic as the convention center was, it seems to be preferred to a much greater extent than driving around all over L.A. to make it to the various hotels and showrooms where each developer was showcasing their wares. Sure, you no longer were forced to wait an hour in line just to see a game, but now you had to wait in a car as you drove around to each show for an hour.

Another huge problem for the ESA and the continued existence of E3 has to do with all of the game companies dropping out of the association. Top among the companies no longer a part of the ESA is Activision Blizzard. It gets pretty tough to argue for the continued existence of a show that doesn’t include the largest publisher of video games in the world.

I’ve never actually been to an E3 show, despite wishing I could since I first learned about them. Even though the show has become far less important and the journalists are less interested in going, I still would like to see the show continue. I hope that this year is not as big a bust as last year’s show, because if it is, it could be the end of E3.

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