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BlazBlue, KoF, L4D, Pokemon, and Capcom [Game Overview]
May 8th, 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.

If you’re trying to find the common thread that weaves all of these games together, don’t keep racking your brain, I’m just covering a ton of different stories and experiences.

Tangled Up in Blue

Street Fighter IV created within me something of a fighting game…well I hesitate to call it a renaissance, cause there was never a naissance, so to speak, but, should naissance actually be French for birth, it did birth in me the fighting spirit. I haven’t played the game in a while, mostly because I’m trying to save the world and attend high school (Persona 4) at the same time, but I figure I’ll get back to it soon, especially with that new tournament mode in.

The reason I even bring that up is because of the upcoming game BlazBlue has got a pretty sweet pre-order bundle set to launch alongside the game. Buying the game early, at no added cost, will yield soundtrack CDs and, my favorite feature, a DVD with top players going over the moves and strategies for each fighter.

Being the fighting game newb that I am, I find this kind of thing to be an invaluable help in creating strategies and managing opponents. I just hope it’s not too high level that I can’t understand or implement the things they’re doing. It should also help me to find the most bizarre, obscure character to master. I don’t always go for the strangest guy, but I definitely make an effort to try and choose lesser-used characters in fighting games mostly because I tire of seeing Ken all the time.

Source: Kotaku

Royally Screwed

Staying on track with fighting games, the two extra King of Fighters XII home version fighters were announced and they…don’t include Mai?! There’s still time to announce Mai in the game, but the release date is rapidly approaching. Why they didn’t have her in the arcade release baffles me in the first place, but why they’re not including the absolute fan favorite in the home version absolutely blows my mind. We’ll see how this continues to play out.

Oh yeah, the new fighters are Elizabeth and Mature. Stupid name on that second one, if you ask me.

Source: Kotaku

Stats 4 Me

If you know me decently well, then you know that I love stats. Very few things excite me more than seeing a nice, clean breakdown of how I did in certain aspects and how I fare against certain situations or match-ups, etc. It’s why I hate the stats section of SFIV (Why don’t they have stats for how I perform against each character as each character? Why don’t they have stats for each opponent I face?) and of SSBB (Actually, kind of the same things here.)

Leave it to Valve to satisfy my every craving with the detailed Left 4 Dead stats page that you can check for any player. Where else would you be able to see that I have 100% accuracy with an assault rifle or that my favorite Tier 2 weapon is the hunting rifle?

Can't say "screenshot or it didn't happen" now, can you?

Can’t say “Screenshot or it didn’t happen” anymore, can you?

Granted, these stats were collected a few weeks (months?) after the game came out, so I probably don’t really have 384 Assault Rifle kills or 100% accuracy, but you can bet I probably won’t pick up an assault rifle again for a long while until I’m sick of looking at that sweet 100% mark.

It’s interesting too that my Zoey count is so low (only 55%) considering that I always prefer to play as her. I blame quick games, where my character choice is not left up to me.

Oh yeah, here’s a link to my stats page.

Stats I will be working on:

-More Zoey!
-Increase revive:revived ratio (currently 1:2)
-Improve finales survived (sitting at 12.5% right now)
-Drop average damage to teammates (this one ballooned after I spent a whole game on easy shooting my partner for fun)
-The fact that I’ve only shot one cartridge with the pump shotgun makes me laugh. So long as I’m never Francis or Bill, I doubt that number will increase too much.
-Want to know why my hunting rifle headshot rate is only 5%? It’s not cause I suck zoomed in, it’s cause zombies die in one hit with the hunting rifle, so why aim for a small target? Don’t expect that to rise.
-More versus! The new maps are out. I need to play them. I need to have a more lopsided (in the wins direction) record.
-I should throw more rocks as the tank.
-More survival mode medals. I need more!
-More achievements

Darek’s got more friends playing, so I should be able to find people to continue to play with and keep improving. I’m excited.

Gotta Catch ‘Em Again

Nintendo announced today (but in the Japanese today, which is still going on, but at 2230 or so right now) that they would be re-releasing Pokémon Gold and Silver as Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver on the DS Generation IV engine. Exciting news for Pokémaniacs, since Gold and Silver were perhaps the longest, and neatest games. Not only did you go through the new region in those games, but your quest actually required you to return to the original region and collect all those badges too. With one fell swoop, the geniuses at Nintendo have managed to bring all of the regions, minus the Gen III region into the future. It’s an exciting time for someone who wants to catch ’em all, but we’re all wondering out here in the West when Nintendo is finally gonna get around to letting us import our Platinum dudes into Pokémon Ranch, much less our new Gold and Silver buddies.

Source: Bulbanews

“You must be a master of sales”

If you got the obscure and kind of lame Resident Evil reference there, go you. For everyone else, let’s move on.

Capcom has released a listing of its top-selling game franchises to give you an idea of how well its game series sell and are popular relative to each other. Here’s the list:

Resident Evil – 40 million (56)
Mega Man – 28 million (124!)
Street Fighter – 27 million (62)
Devil May Cry – 10 million (11)
Monster Hunter – 8.5 million (11)
Onimusha – 7.8 million (12)
Dino Crisis – 4.4 million (13)
Ghosts ‘N Goblins – 4.4 million (16)
Final Fight – 3.2 million (10)
Ace Attorney – 3.2 million (12)
Breath of Fire – 3 million (15)
Lost Planet – 2.7 million (7)
Commando – 1.2 million (2)
1942 – 1.2 million (3)
Sengoku BASARA – 1.2 million (10)

Note that there are numbers in parentheses. This is the number of games released in that series, which gives me a great idea. You see, this list, in and of itself, does not accurately represent how well each game performs on a per-game basis. It’s not really accurate to say “Wow, Mega Man is way better than Street Fighter” when Mega Man has had 124 releases to SF’s 62 and only outperforms it by one million. Here’s the adjusted list in sales per game:

Devil May Cry – 909091
Monster Hunter – 772727
Resident Evil – 714286
Onimusha – 650000
Commando – 600000
Street Fighter – 435484
1942 – 400000
Lost Planet – 385714
Dino Crisis – 338462
Final Fight – 320000
Ghosts N’ Goblins – 275000
Ace Attorney – 266667
Mega Man – 225806
Breath of Fire – 200000
Sengoku BASARA – 120000

What does my expert analysis show? Well the top three series are all more modern A-list Capcom games. Games have become far more serious business in recent years, so this makes sense. Expensive games plus the increased numbers of buyers make these franchises more successful. The most glaring change in this list is the move of Mega Man to the near bottom of the list. What else can you expect from a series that got its start on the NES and has released 124 (!) games, many of which are portable or spin-offs not meant to sell. In fact, the last real Mega Man release was Mega Man 9 and that was released digitally.

This list really doesn’t prove anything, but it’s at least fun to look at.

Source: Kotaku

Game Overview: 16-Bit Runner-Ups Part 2: RPG Edition
Jun 10th, 2008 by Dan

Back on Saturday we took a look at two excellent games that didn’t quite make the cut. Today, we examine another three, all of them the superb 16-bit RPGs.

You know the drill by now about the “Table of Honor” and whatnot, so let’s just get down to the clue and game:

This first game I want to examine jumps out at you from the world of platforming. You might doubt his ability to manage, but once he jumps, you’re filled with utmost confidence. Yeah, it’s Mario’s RPG debut, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

Runner-up: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

For some crazy reason, nobody in the Mushroom Kingdom will believe that you are Mario. You’re probably the most famous savior of the land, but it’s not your dashing mustache or your red overalls that will prove your identity, it’s your trademark jump. This running gag is probably my absolute favorite part about SMRPG. No matter what part of the world you’re in, someone will inevitably ask if you are really the plumber. The dialog will pause, you will be unable to do anything else until you finally push the jump button and prove your identity.

The rest of the game is full of comparable humor and character that exude from every pore. Dialog makes sense and is pretty slick, the story is actually not that bad for what you’d expect it to be, and, most importantly, that trademark tight gameplay that Squaresoft has always been known for makes for a great battle system and actually meshes pretty well with Mario’s more typical platforming roots. Battle returned to the more traditional turn-based type affair, but now your special attacks were powered up by timed button presses or other similar tests of button-pressing acumen. This system was so slick and exciting that every subsequent Mario RPG (sadly none of them Squaresoft created) and even the new Penny Arcade Adventures has got timed button presses for defense and interesting special attacks.

I’m sure that many were skeptical about SMRPG’s ability to be a valid, entertaining game when it was announced. Just adding a big-name RPG developer to a franchise character does not make everyone believe it will rock (just look at Sonic Chronicles, no one thinks it will succeed). That SMRPG is able to succeed on all fronts and still be one of the better RPGs on the console is a testament to the talent of old-school Squaresoft. What a great game…

I just can’t resist throwing in yet another video game commercial for this game. This one’s quite bizarre…

This next game was published in America by a company whose motto is “Serious Fun,” but it’s not the farming sim/RPG that you might be thinking of. The main character fights very sinister beings in order to save the world in this one. This one’s a bit tougher, but it’s Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.

Runner-up Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

This one might fall a bit outside of most of your game radars. It’s not A-list like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, not even B-list like Breath of Fire or the Secret of series (you can bitch and moan all you want about this, but you’ll never convince me that the Seiken Densetsu series is anything more than B-list). Lufia is a pretty firm C-list series, with regards to RPG popularity. There were two SNES games games and one gbc game in the series canon, with another gbc gaiden. That’s it, that’s the entire series. To be fair, it was mostly concluded with the GBC game, but I feel that they did leave it slightly open-ended.

Gameplay isn’t that special, it’s your typical RPG with turn-based battles. There was one notable battle mechanic in the capsule monsters that you could capture and have fight on your team. These monsters were computer controlled and could be leveled up and evolved by feeding them weapons and armor. The interesting thing is that this idea came about a full year before Pokémon was released. Pretty cool if you ask me.

What does make this game stand out and what earns it a spot on this list was its story. As a prequel in a time before prequels were cool (this was way back in Japan in 1995), Lufia II picked up the story before the events of Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (a game I never played). You were Maxim and, like most RPGs, you are told by a mysterious figure (a woman named Iris in this case) that you are destined to save the world. You head out to solve a monster problem for your village with your childhood friend Tia (you reluctantly bring her along) and from there you bounce from town to town solving problems and adding the brutally strong Guy to your party. Iris saves your life after you learn about the Sinistrals and you go on to add another party member, the female soldier Selan, before you finally learn the identity of the first Sinistral, Gades, after he brutally destroys an entire town.

Excited yet? Your party certainly is. They set off to confront Gades and make him pay for what he’s done. He responds by soundly kicking your ass. In yet another video game “oh shit, I hope I was supposed to die” moments, you are revived by Iris who revives the party and tells everyone but Tia that they are meant to confront this evil light with Maxim. Another dude, Dekar, joins the party and Maxim, Guy, and Dekar head out to kill Gades after learning from a lieutenant of the Sinistrals, Idura, that Gades plans on sinking an entire island. This time Maxim manages to kill Gades, but he still manages to activate the machine after all. Maxim heroically gets to the machine on his own, but deactivating it mostly kills him in the process. Iris teleports in, decides to be useful, and saves Maxim.

In the aftermath of this event, we are treated to a touching cutscene where Ti– no, wait, Selan (?) confesses her love for Maxim. I still remember this plot point coming straight from left field. You mean to tell me that Tia, who’s been hitting on you this whole game, isn’t gonna end up with Maxim? As a player, I didn’t mind, since Tia was annoying and Selan was arguably hotter (in that 16-bit way), but still, it really messed with me to see the developers not take the easy road, and I respect them for it. Tia honorably realizes she’s not gonna win Maxim’s love, tells Dekar that she loves Maxim the man, not Maxim the warrior, and sets off to find a man as good as Maxim to marry. That’s seriously the last you see of a character you’ve spent hours developing. The game sort of “ends” here as Maxim and Selan are married, buy a little house, and have a kid.

If you couldn’t guess by now, I’m a fan of these drastic world- or game-changing events in a video game. Be it the loss of Naked Snake’s right eye in MGS3 and how it affects first-person view from then on or something like the World of Ruin, these huge, irreversible events never cease to amaze me (I guess, if Iabsolutely have to I’ll admit that Aeris’ death is kind of cool in that way, but it never really had the same emotional impact on me as any of these other ones). Here I am, yet again thinking that I beat the game, and then Idura kidnaps your son and you’re forced to take up arms again. Iris comes in and claims that it was Maxim’s fate to die after the battle with Gades, but her actions have changed the future. As the gamer, you don’t yet know that these are lies. Heck, you don’t even know the huge twist yet at all (maybe you might if you had played the first game, but I certainly didn’t).

You do more quest-y stuff, Dekar dies after you kill Idura, and eventually you get to the final confrontation with the Sinistrals which is, not coincidentally, precisely the way that Lufia & the Fortress of Doom opens, which means that you fight the Sinistrals and kill three of the four. While trying to escape, only Guy and the elf Artea (he joined you in the second half) make it out alive. Maxim and Selan die, but are forever remembered as the heroes who vanquished the Sinistrals. It also turns out that this whole time your “helper” Iris was the Sinistral Erim. Erim is unique in that so long as she lives, the Sinistrals can be continually reincarnated. Also unique about her is her ability to take on human form, which some fans speculate is a result of the Sinistral Daos testing humanity. The real twist here is that Iris/Erim is later reincarnated as one of the main characters in the first Lufia game. By the way, you’re probably wondering why this game is even called Lufia if there are no characters named Lufia anywhere in the game. I can see your brains connecting the dots. Lufia is Erim and she is a character who fits a similar role to Tia in the first Lufia game to one of Maxim’s descendants. She didn’t change history by allowing Maxim to continue his bloodline, for Maxim and his descendants were always meant to counter and eventually defeat the Sinistrals. Erim makes one final appearance as a party member in the third Lufia game, as she gathers up yet another of the bloodline of Maxim and a crew of strong warriors. She builds them up this final time to destroy the Sinistral menace forever. Erim had tired of life as the Sinistral of Death and wanted her life to finally end.

I should also mention that Lufia II had a pretty solid puzzle and monster mechanic. Monsters appeared on the field and got to move every time you moved. There were also some pretty neat and difficult puzzles for the player to solve as he made his way through the many dungeons. I distinctly remember some of these being so tough (this is good!) that I had to consult old issues of Nintendo Power to figure out how to progress.

There you have it, a fairly convoluted plot and a game that’s ultimately average in its battle execution. Still, I can’t help but love Lufia II for it’s creative puzzles and that zany story. Prequels were still a pretty new concept to me back then when I played it and knowing what was to happen to Maxim and Selan made for some interesting, if fatalistic gameplay as I watched the drama unfold. There’s something cool about playing a game that fits into a pre-determined timeline. It’s both futile and awesome to fill in the details of a future you know will one day occur. I’d like to see more games try this with their storylines. Have a sage/oracle-type character tell you that completing the game will lead to your death. It could be fourth-wall or even within the game itself. Watching the main character grapple with what he knows to be the greater good at the expense of the personal good leads to good drama. They did it in FF VI with Terra, but the devs didn’t have what it took to let her die and not have a happy ending. That may be a good thing anyway, since I’m one of the few people who can be satisfied with an unhappy or unfair ending.

The Japanese commercial for this game is pretty lame, so here’s something that a fan put together for the 11-year anniversary of the game:

Yeah, the video’s not that cool, but it gives you a taste of what the game looked and played like. If you ever get a chance to play this game, I do recommend it. It’s well worth your time.

Our last game of the day had a mother of a time even getting released in America. To this day, the first and third game of this series have still never seen the light of American day. If you’re a fan of the Runaway Five, you also already know that I’m talking about EarthBound.

Runner-up: EarthBound

The brilliance of EarthBound lies not in its genre, but more in the originality and character that it brings to an already tired formula. How many sword and sorcery-themed RPGs does the video game market really need? (Answer: Don’t be stupid, sword and sorcery-themed RPGs rock!) Still, it’s refreshing to see an RPG take place in a modern setting like the country of Eagleland (a not-so-veiled reference to the USA). It’s hilarious to see that your weapons consist of baseball bats, yo-yos, and bottle rockets.

The story centers around Ness, a boy of tremendous psychic power who is tasked by a bee from the future named Buzz Buzz to destroy the evil force known as Giygas. Ness sets out from his hometown, Onett, and encounters and recruits Paula, Jeff, and Poo to save the planet. Along the way, they fight cultists, zombies, dogs, ninjas, bails out the Runaway Five twice, and eventually have their souls transferred into a robotic body to enable them to travel in time to fight Giygas. It’s strange, but in a quirky way. Even the final boss isn’t your typical encounter. You defeat the mighty Giygas by repeatedly praying, eventually getting the entire planet to unite and defeat Giygas in a Dragon Ball spirit bomb-type fashion.

EarthBound makes this list (just barely) because of the character that it exudes from every pore. Destroying the Happy-Happy cult is still one of my favorite situations in a video game mainly because of how bizarre it really is. Another plus for EarthBound is that it’s really hard. The game definitely doesn’t pull any punches with its difficulty.

Unfortunately for us US EarthBound fans, the series didn’t sell all to well when it first came out for the SNES. As a result, Nintendo decided not to release the sequel, Mother 3 (EarthBound = Mother 2), stateside citing poor sales of EarthBound. No matter how many fan campaigns Starman.net tries to put together to bring Mother 3 to North America, Nintendo continuously refuses to release. Interestingly enough, the Nintendo of America guys actually love the Starman dudes, which I think is what has allowed the Starmen to still have a Mother 3 fansub in production without a cease-and-desist order being issued.

Many fans speculate that EarthBound’s upcoming release on the Virtual Console (it was rated by the ESRB => it will be coming out) will be a barometer to test the validity of releasing Mother 3 in Eagleland. You can bet that the day this game comes out anyone, and I do literally mean anyone, who is on my Wii friends list will receive a gift of EarthBound for the SNES unless they tell me they’re planning on buying it already. I just want to drum up sales because I’d love to see Mother 3 hit our shores.

Yet another Japanese commercial that doesn’t make too much sense. Enjoy!

With that, we’re almost done with our 16-bit all-stars. Just one more entry on Thursday to finish these guys off.

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