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Arkham City First Impressions [GO]
Oct 19th, 2011 by Dan

Batman: Arkham City Box

Nifty White Aesthetic For The Box

Arkham City is out! I played it for a few hours last night. Here are some initial thoughts:

– Have a backup game on another console ready. Play that until the free (with non-used purchase) Catwoman DLC finishes downloading (mine was Gears of War 3). I guess Rocksteady Studios was thinking, “If the Catwoman DLC is on-disc DLC people will get mad at us. Let’s split it out and force a 200 MB download so they know we’re not ripping off used game buyers (PS: We’re so ripping them off)”

I have tremendous doubts that the Catwoman stuff wasn’t done simultaneously or that it couldn’t have fit on the disc. Seriously, I’m 98% sure the 200 MB download is largely symbolic.

– Arkham City (the environment) is pretty big. Getting around it is fun! Finish the AR missions ASAP to get a (free) neat traversal upgrade. After you get the upgrade either be like me and be so obsessed with completing the Advanced AR Missions that you repeat them ad nauseum until you get them right (you can fail them within 5 seconds and it takes maybe 10 to get back to the start) or you can be a healthy individual, pace yourself, and just let it be if you fail a few times. Come back later and all that.

– I always forget “payaso” is spelled with an ‘ll’ instead of a ‘y’. Subtitles will help you learn to spell in Spanish!

– Arkham City does not Metroid you. Batman has all his gadgets from the last game. It also does not do a great job of reminding you how to do anything again right off the bat. This could be because I started on Hard, but maybe not. I don’t know.

– Beating on henchmen is still super fun! I think that they regenerate in the overworld, which is a nice departure. If they don’t…well that’s a bummer. Speaking of the overworld: some sections have guys with guns. Don’t hang out in the Penguin section if you’re not prepared to run into like five guys with guns by accident. You can also do what I did and just get shot so much you die. I did that a lot trying to complete the last Advanced AR Training mission.

– Man, crooks be hating on Bruce Wayne. Even the crooks who don’t know he’s Batman! It’s true what they say, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

– Ever wanted to apply Super Mario World cape mechanics to a game where you can dive bomb crooks so hard you knock them unconscious? This is the game for you. Seriously, within a second of learning I could dive bomb into a glide and back again I flashed back to SMW and I instantly knew what I was doing. If only they had licensed the bouncy noise from SMW. If only.

– Batman is not afraid to straight up hit a girl. Damn, son. That’s not cool.

– Catwoman is the worst maintainer of a secret identity ever. People call her Selina and Ms. Kyle all game long. Hey Catwoman, you’re terrible at this super villain thing.

– Some reviewers have lamented that Catwoman controls too much like Batman. Remember how awesome it is to control Batman? That’s not a problem, guys.

– Counter indicators even on Hard mode? Not fun, guys. No achievements for beating it on Hard? Lame. Word to the wise: play the game on Normal, at the very least. Can’t unlock New Game+ without doing so.

– If you get this game before Halloween, be sure to explore the basement of the courthouse on Halloween for 1/12 of an achievement. I’m worried about how I’m gonna get the one on Christmas without cheesing the system.

– Everybody should go and apologize to Kotaku. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I love the meta-joke at play there. Cool stuff.

EDIT: This Kotaku story reminded me that Arkham City leans a little too hard on “b***h.” Like, uncomfortably so. I wish that word had a more negative stigma to it to the general public because it is not okay the way we’ve been using it nowadays. It should have way more force and be deployed way less flippantly than Arkham City has been doing it. Makes me super uncomfortable to play the game.

Perfect Blue [FB]
Aug 26th, 2011 by Dan

Perfect Blue

It's as weird and creepy as it looks.

Idol culture is weird. I mean, bizarre. It only just hit me while I was watching the opening of Perfect Blue that the main fans of these idol groups are men! The shitty, poppy, stupid J-Pop that is peddled throughout Japan by gaggles of over-cute women doing choreographed dances have male audiences. It’s so weird. I mean, in the states we have guys who perv over girl groups and female artists, but none of them would admit to being “fans”.

Several Kotaku articles I’ve read reference the immense amount of pressure that pop idol fans have to remain “pure.” Rather like hiding John Lennon’s marriage back in the early days of The Beatles, these women aren’t allowed to express any emotional or sexual involvement with men in public and they’re quite serious about it. Fans will turn against impure idols very quickly.

Satoshi Kon, whose favorite topics seem to be obsession and dreams vs. reality, tackles this otaku culture right off the bat with Perfect Blue. It’s funny how much disdain he seems to have for the hardcore fan that seems to comprise anime fandom in Japan (at least from a western perspective). I’m not saying it’s without merit, since obsession of any kind is a little dangerous, but it’s always seemed risky to me. It also lends legitimacy to his message since he’s using their medium against them. Well, that’s not completely accurate, I mean, obsessive groups exist for every type of fandom, but the anime otaku is not exactly high on the obsessive social totem pole.

If I had to complain about one artistic decision in this movie, it’s choosing to make Me-Mania, the scary stalker-level fan of our main character, Mima, look like an absolute troll. His eyes are misshapen, his teeth are disgusting, and his hair greasily covers up half his face. It’s a cheat to make him seem so abnormal, in my eyes.

Here I am talking specifics when I haven’t even explained the plot! The aforementioned Mima was part of an idol trio, CHAM, and she’s “decided” to leave the group to go into acting. I put that in quotes because Mima seems to just do what she’s told. Her fans don’t seem to take this very well and a threatening fax and a letterbomb make their way to her.

The problem is that her new gig as an actress is in a seedy crime drama where she is immediately thrust out of the “good girl idol” light and into the “this girl is not pure” light by way of a rape scene in the drama. It’s disturbing and kind of gross to watch and Mima’s already fragile consciousness seems to snap right here. She wasn’t really raped, but the acting and scene are horrifically tough to deal with and she can’t quite cope, but her manager continues to push this darker bent.

All the while Mima has stumbled onto a webpage seemingly written by her describing her daily movements and actions to a scarily accurate degree. She knows she’s not writing it, but the psychological trauma of reinventing herself and her already fragile psyche starts to make reality and fiction start to blend. Scenes in her life seem to happen, but then are actually scenes from her drama. I won’t spoil much more past here, but this is where the movie starts to get that Satoshi Kon feel.

As a viewer, this movie was tremendously disturbing. The fake rape scene begins blending reality and the drama in scary ways and Mima’s stalker seems scarily determined to get her to return to her singing career. What I especially enjoyed was watching Satoshi Kon’s trademark shots and symbolism start to take shape here. Certain scenes and ideas are definitely explored and expanded upon in his later work and that was really cool. I also loved that this movie took things to a much scarier and weirder place than Paprika.

If you can’t handle psychological thrillers, stay away from Perfect Blue, but everyone else should check this flick out. Considering his later work, it’s an unsurprisingly solid freshman effort from Satoshi Kon, even if it’s rougher around the edges than his later work. Definitely worth watching.

AUSA Perfect Blue-13

Is cosplaying Perfect Blue missing the point? Doesn't matter, it's still pretty cool

What I’ve Been Doing 8 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 6th, 2011 by Dan

The new Spider-Man is Miles Morales, a previously unseen character motivated to do good by Peter's sacrifice...or so Marvel says. I've yet to read a story issue with him in it.

Movies

Horrible Bosses – Part of me thought it was hilarious and part of me thought it was passable. There were some really strange story beats in this no doubt because this wasn’t the dark comedy it was advertised to be. I dunno what the proper word for it would be…dim comedy? Without implying that the comedy was stupid, I mean to say that Jennifer Aniston’s part in the story was treated completely differently than the two male bosses and was resolved in a way that felt tacked on. Decent movie, just not the funniest thing I saw this summer (:cough: Bridesmaids :cough:)

TV

Weeds – Having Heylia return to the show last week just reminds me how well-served this show is by its travels and changes. Being able to call back to the first couple of seasons and get a great emotional response is not easy. The story is moving in an interesting direction, but I’ve yet to see it thematically gel yet. I wonder if that has to do with Jacob Clifton’s fantastic summaries on TWoP being canceled? Great season so far.

Frisky Dingo – This is one of those 11-minute Cartoon Network comedies that Adult Swim specializes in. Had some genuine laugh out loud moments and some stupid stuff too. I think I like Archer a lot more (not CN).

Retro Game Master – I totally forgot to mention that I’ve been watching this. Kotaku bought licensing rights to bring RGM to the states and I’ve been enjoying watching the Kacho, Shinya Arino, try to conquer all kinds of classic games. Some episodes are better than others, but they’re usually pretty funny/interesting.

Books

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – The central conceit of this book, that the real Thursday Next is missing, ends up being somewhat detrimental. I’m still legitimately enjoying the book, but I find that following the “fictional” Thursday around is less interesting than the “real” Thursday. Still got about a hundred pages left and I’m loving the book.

Slaughterhouse Five – Finished up the reread. Poignant and interesting. I love how layered Vonnegut’s writing is. You can choose to believe that Billy is telling the truth or not. There are clues layered all throughout the book that would prove either interpretation.

Ultimatum – Went back to read the old crisis for the Ultimate Universe that was supposed to change/relaunch it before this whole Death of Spider-Man thing. Wow, this was terrible. It was pointlessly violent, jumped around with no real narrative focus, and was just plain bad. I’m glad the side-universe is not mired in this anymore.

Secret Warriors – Got another book in. Still really interesting. Can’t wait to keep reading it.

Y: The Last Man – Finished my reread. It’s even better the second time. I love how deep the characters became and where the whole thing ended. Post-Y-chromosome Earth was interesting, but I really hope that kind of thing never happens for real!

Ultimate Fallout – The above panel came from this book. Our new Spider-Man is neat, but I won’t know more about him until this week. Racial controversy aside, he seems cool, but a little too similar to Peter in personality. Can’t reinvent all parts of the wheel, I guess. The other two parts of this book were pretty neat too. Always nice to read Hickman’s work.

Snarked – Roger Langridge’s look into the world of The Walrus and The Carpenter seems neat, but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading.

Moon Knight – I think this may have been my favorite of the releases this week. The art was just stunning and fun. This is a pretty cool book that I’m sure a lot of people aren’t reading or giving a chance.

Irredeemable – Speaking of underground books (I don’t actually know the circulation for this, but it can’t be huge), this was way depressing this week. Interesting, per usual, but depressing. The Plutonian is back and kicking all kinds of ass and he’s caught Earth with its pants down…again. The story is interesting, but it’s a bummer my favorite character didn’t make it in this issue.

SHIELD – Another gorgeous comic book. It’s still very confusing, but a book filled with Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists is always gold in my eyes.

Video Games

Catherine – I played this game just a little too haphazardly to get the ending I wanted. See, I was actively pushing away Katherine, who I find obnoxious, while answering questions like I would (in a quasi-responsible way), which resulted in me getting a Katherine ending. Ah, well. At least I’m having fun with the game on my second playthrough. I’m really down with the block puzzles. I might have more to say about the game in its own detailed post, but we’ll see.

Team Fortress 2 – Played so much of this over the weekend! I’m so close to getting the Scout achievement I’ve been chasing so long (1900-something/2004 kills). I’ll probably get it tonight or tomorrow night. It’s a lot of fun, but I’m kind of sad about having to play some other classes for a bit for achievement’s sake.

Back to Business for a Bit [Game Overview]
Aug 28th, 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 was originally just going to post another video and not write anything, but then I realized that there was Left 4 Dead 2 news this week and I couldn’t let another week go by without mentioning the game (did you know I’m excited about its release?).

Obvious, but nice to hear…

When releases are imminent, people get impatient and want to know what’s coming next. When asked about Harmonix’s plans for next year, the question revolved around whether it would be another iteration in the Rock Band series or another band-style game like The Beatles: Rock Band. In typical PR fashion, Harmonix reps said that both were in the works and both might see the light of day next year. Way to be specific guys! You mean you’re working on another project that would capitalize on the success of your previous projects? Where do they get some of these questions?

I answer my own question with the excitement I feel in hearing about new games in the franchise.

I’m like Tiresias!

Ok, so I didn’t really predict these things and I heard them from the rumor mill, but I was right about all the WoW rumors I reported on last week. Go me!

Starcraft II News Bundle

Blizzcon was last weekend and, naturally, we have a lot of Starcraft II news to report on (we also have plenty of Diablo III and WoW stuff to say, but I don’t really care about those games, so…). The biggest news, for me, involved the new Battle.Net and the innovations behind creating one of the most interesting backends for games since Steam.

Rather like Steam, the goal of the new Battle.Net is to integrate Blizzard’s multiple properties and keep players connected. An instant messaging client will be a part of this new service and it will allow you to see what people on your friends list are doing in other Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, allowing you to chat from within the game with people playing Starcraft or Diablo. The WoW achievements are also due for a slight upgrade to sync with the more general Blizzard achievement system that’s being created so that every character doesn’t have to go out and earn achievements on its own.

Another interesting innovation has to come from Activision. The aforementioned monetization of the service will make its debut as a Custom Maps marketplace. No more will players play free mods like Defense of the Ancients and love them. Now they’ll be forced to buy certain custom maps to enjoy their non-core gameplay.

In non-B.Net-related news, it was announced that the new voice for Sarah Kerrigan will be Tricia Helfer, whose last work was the little known project Battlestar Galactica. The former Cylon will be taking up the mantle of Queen of Blades for the foreseeable future, which is pretty awesome. She’s really got the commanding, scary voice down when she was Six on BSG.

Last, but not least, Blizzard has announced that Starcraft II can be played offline. Not the multiplayer, mind you, which requires an internet connection, even if played locally, but the single-player. You’ll be able to opt out of logging in, but you’ll lose out on all of the B.Net goodies. Your choice.

Did you really expect anything different?

Wii Sports Resort has crossed the million sales mark in Japan…and America…and Europe. It’s only been a few weeks, but man, that’s incredible. Way to go Nintendo!

Shepard?

If you love Mass Effect as much as I do, then you’re probably super excited to see the latest DLC, called Pinnacle Station, added to the game.

In what will probably be the last DLC pack for the series, you can now head to a space station and battle against the clock to set records, etc. and earn achievement points. Combat is nice, but it’s not really the focus of Mass Effect, is it?

Glad to see more content added to the universe! Can’t wait for ME2.

Another ban story

Out in Venezuela they don’t like objectionable content hitting the eyes of their children. Despite the violent and damn near despotic and tyrannical things that come out of the mouth of Hugo Chavez, the government is concerned with the sale of toy weapons and violent video games.

Should this ban pass, Venezuelans would have no access to toy weapons, which can be used to fake robberies, etc., nor would their people be subject to the corrupting forces of video games. Way to go guys, you’re really focusing on what matters.

You asked for it! Well, I did…

And here’s your weekly L4D2 news! Valve will make playable the creepy fair level, now called Dark Carnival, at PAX next week! Yeah, I wrote the previous 800 words just to talk about a playable level. What can I say? I love L4D2!

If that’s not enough, you can check out some sweet concept art at Kotaku.

Let’s close with another recent obsession of mine, The Beatles: Rock Band!

Buy One Game, Get One You Don’t Want Free, Beatles: Rock Band Track List [Game Overview]
Aug 14th, 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.

Microsoft made a very intelligent move last Friday by introducing PayPal to Xbox Live for US users. From Friday onward users could use the online service to add points to their Xbox Live accounts. Those of you who don’t have credit cards rejoice. Things just got easier for you.

The Numbers Keep Climbing

As of last Friday, sales of Wii Sports Resort hit 600,000 copies. It’s also racked up at least 500,000 in the US and 350,000 in Japan, again, as of last Friday. We’ve got a big seller on our hands here.

I Really Wish They’d Stop Doing This…

Square Enix announced last week that they would be announcing the release date for Final Fantasy XIII in the coming weeks. Instead of rejoicing, most people said “Yeah, ok…How about you just tell us the release date when you know it?” Popular opinion is that the date will be revealed during Tokyo Game Show 2009.

Your Mother Lied, There’s Only So Much Love to Go Around

Ever wonder why you’re limited to a scant 100 friend on your Xbox Live buddy list? The answer lies where it always lies with Microsoft: legacy support. Keeping Halo 2 on the roster of games played over Xbox Live requires that the 100 person cap be met. Since tons of people still play Halo 2, the artificial limit continues.

Really?!

Nintendo has announced that the DSi outsold the DS, DS Lite, and Wii in its first three months of sales. Since the buzz seemed to be so muted, I was personally way shocked by this news. Who knew the new iteration was so popular?

Exclusivity

Xbox continues to lock down Netflix by getting exclusive movie streaming right to the service. PS3 users are out of luck as are Wii users in the USA, despite similar streaming services being available in Japan.

Pre-Buy One, Get One Free

In a move that screams lack of confidence, Activision has announced that anyone who pre-orders the upcoming Guitar Hero 5 will get…a free copy of Guitar Hero: Van Halen.

It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever seen a company outright give away a brand new game should the consumer commit to buying another game. It’s a move that’s got me scratching my head and wondering just how bad the projected Van Halen sales are supposed to be, but it could easily be a response to the nosediving sales numbers of rhythm music games.

Open SD

Nintendo has finally opened up the SD card slot in their system for booting DLC, allowing Guitar Hero and Rock Band fans to cry out in joy. No longer will players have to leave space open on their hard drives to swap data, they can now launch and play DLC directly from the SD slot. The new feature will debut on 1 September concurrent with the launch of Guitar Hero 5

A Good Old Fashioned Competition

The latest iteration of the classic Wolfenstein series will launch next week, a mere four days after August behemoth Madden NFL 10, which launched at 0000 today. Manveer Heir, a designer at Raven Software, would like to make a deal with you involving these seemingly disparate events.

If Wolfenstein outsells Madden in August, he will personally pay for any and all copies of Wolfenstein sold that month.

Good thing for his wallet that it will never happen. Like Kotaku said when they reported the story, he may as well just use that cash to buy copies of the game for himself to drum up sales.

Sgt. Soul

Harmonix has announced/confirmed that The Beatles albums Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul will be among the first albums released as DLC for the upcoming The Beatles: Rock Band (09/09/09)

While we’re on the subject, Game Informer Magazine has announced 44/45 of the track list for the upcoming game.

Singles
I Want To Hold Your Hand
I Feel Fine
Day Tripper
Paperback Writer
Revolution
Don’t Let Me Down

Please Please Me (1963)
I Saw Her Standing There
Boys
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Twist and Shout

With the Beatles (1963)
I Wanna Be Your Man

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love

Beatles For Sale (1964)
Eight Days a Week

Help! (1965)
Ticket To Ride

Rubber Soul (1965)
Drive My Car
I’m Looking Through You
If I Needed Someone

Revolver (1966)
Taxman
Yellow Submarine
And Your Bird Can Sing

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
Good Morning Good Morning

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye

The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
Dear Prudence
Back In the U.S.S.R.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Birthday
Helter Skelter

Yellow Submarine (1969)
Hey Bulldog

Abbey Road (1969)
Come Together
Something
Octopus’s Garden
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Here Comes the Sun

Let It Be (1970)
Dig a Pony
I Me Mine
I Got a Feeling
Get Back

Love (2006)
Within You Without You/ Tomorrow Never Knows

Most surprising to me is that last entry, Love. This album is from the remixed Cirque du Soleil show Love and it’s interesting to see that such modern additions are being made to the game.

Almost Nothing Creepier Than a Carnival

You really didn’t think you’d get through an edition of Game Overview without mention of Left 4 Dead 2, did you?

Gabe Newell announced on Gametrailers last night that one of the new campaigns for L4D2 will be The Fairgrounds, an amusement park-style level. All I can say here is that I’m already decently terrified by clowns. Please don’t make me cry in the corner Valve. Please don’t make clown zombies.

I’m going to go not think about zombie clowns for a bit. Have a week.

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!

Summer of Arcade, 1 G$ in Losses, Twisted Shadows, and More![Game Overview]
Jul 17th, 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.

There’s been a lot of news this week, so let’s get right down to it.

The Xbox Live Summer of Arcade schedule has been announced and it looks like there are some great games coming soon.

22 July – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled – A 3D update of the classic arcade and SNES beat-em-up, this game could be fun, but then again, the 3D models just look so uninspired compared to the cartoon and their pixelated counterparts.

29 July – Marvel vs. Capcom 2 – The most famous of the Capcom vs. series, MvC2 was one of the worst kept secrets in video gaming. We’re all excited to see it arrive soon, even if the game makes absolutely no sense and is hectic as hell.

5 August – Splosion Man – Don’t know much about this platformer other than that 1up.com kind of likes it.

12 August – Trials HD – Some motorcycle racing platformer. :yawn:

19 August – Shadow Complex – Epic’s latest project was surprisingly not Gears of War related. This Metroidvania-style game has a lot of promise and a great pedigree. Will it deliver?

English Downloads

The English have figured out something before we did:

Music game downloads are becoming a significant share of music sales.

They’re looking into counting them on the downloads chart to try and track them a little better. I applaud their practical thinking.

My national pride (the 4th wasn’t that long ago) requires me to say, “Hey, at least we figured out dentistry first!” Sorry UK, nothing personal.

Trailer Time!

Some great trailers and videos about Mass Effect 2 and Uncharted 2.

40 Novels?!

While we’re in the vicinity of Bioware coverage, why not mention this alarming statistic about The Old Republic, Bioware’s upcoming (in 201X) MMO.

The good folks at Bioware claim that TOR will be as long as 10 KOTORs. Now, Knights of the Old Republic was a plenty long game, but the scope we’re talking here is, wait for it, forty (40!) novels worth of dialogue that’s ALL SPOKEN. That’s going to be a lot of audio.

L4D2 and Nerds

Has a week gone by since L4D2’s announcement that I haven’t talked about it?

EA and Valve have decided to show off the new game, specifically a campaign called “Swamp Fever,” at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con. This means I may have more news next week to post about. Good on you Valve and EA

Everything Old is New Again

Much has been said of the recent resurgence of the fighting and adventure game genres. The most recent Giant Bomb Bomcast (Downloadable Here) made a joke about how we were back in the 90s with the punchline being something like “All we need is for Starcraft and Diablo to come out again.”

Well Starcraft II is scheduled for a late 2009 launch, but analysts are starting to get skeptical (quite frankly, so am I), especially given statements by Blizzard itself. They want about four to six months to beta test the new game, but we’re already at a point where only five months remain before 2010.

My prediction: mid-2010.

Two Million?! USO!

Dragon Quest IX went and had two million pre-orders set for the game before launch. Guess what, it sold about two million. Lines weren’t as ridiculous as they were in prior years, but it was still something of an event.

I started reading an article on Kotaku about the launch and it didn’t quite feel like it was by Brian Ashcraft as my RSS reader said it was. It sounded more like…well, I watched a video on the story (good read) and pretty much knew by then that it was Tim Rogers. It’s worth reading and it provides a look at what a modern Dragon Quest launch is like in Japan now that players can just pre-order their games at local convenience stores.

UFC…yawn…

UFC president Dana White says “EA doesn’t give a fuck about mixed martial arts.” That makes two of us…

The real point of the story is that White tried to pitch the ridiculously well-selling UFC Undisputed 2009 to EA a few years ago, before MMA was big, and he was turned down. Now he says that if any fighter signs to be in EA’s upcoming MMA title (creatively entitled MMA), they can kiss the UFC goodbye.

This now makes for two (three, counting this one) more paragraphs about UFC than I ever want to see on this blog again, so I will close with Penny Arcade’s accurate rendition of every UFC match ever.

VIDEO GAME BREAK!

SOUR / 日々の音色 (Hibi no Neiro) MV from Magico Nakamura on Vimeo.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Get ready to say “That’s ridiculous.”

Modern Warfare 2, the sequel to Call of Duty 4, has a special edition coming out that includes functioning night vision goggles. The less said about how ridiculous that is, the better.

Club Nintendo Rewards

If you were a Platinum member of Club Nintendo last year, you can earn yourself a Punch-Out Wii download that will allow you to box Doc Louis, your personal trainer. It’s kind of crazy, but also way cool.

1 Beellion Dollars

You know how EA has that pesky monopoly on football games due to an exclusive deal with the NFL?

Well, according to an economist, that deal has cost gamers about $926 million due to lack of competition allowing EA to raise their prices.

EA thinks this is ridiculous and I kind of agree. Guess what, Mr. Economist? If 2K still had access to NFL licenses, they probably would have sold their game for $60 too.

Looks Neat and Shadowy

That dude, Michel Gagne, who’s famous for leaving Disney and making his own cartoons has got a game in the works and it looks beautiful. Watch:

The game is called Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and it looks quite good and retro-tough. All of the footage is in-game, apparently, so it also looks pretty kicking.

BlazBlue, Twitter x WoW, Lucasarts Back Catalog, Ueda vs. Miyamoto, and More [Game Overview]
Jul 10th, 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 figured I’d start with BlazBlue today, since the game just came out and I sunk an evening in playing it. I don’t have all that much to say about it yet, but it’s intriguing in a very not Street Fighter way. The fighters are all insanely detailed and designed in an intricately anime fashion, leaving no moe niche unserved and the fighting system is deceptively simple, but actually WAY complicated, as most of these things are nowadays. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sink into it, especially because Street Fighter IV has nabbed my attention yet again, but I will keep posting impressions as I play.

Get BlazBlue!

Get Street Fighter IV!

Indie Darling Gets on XBL

Fez has been confirmed for 2010 release on XBL, according to Giant Bomb. I don’t know much about the game other than that the press loves it and you play as this little white dude with a block head. I’m sure someone out there is jumping for joy, but then crying a little bit because it means the 2009 release date has been pushed back. There, there.

Brilliant Game Design

Giant Bomb reports that Tekken 6 has finally gotten it right. The game will ship with all of the characters unlocked. Honestly, this is some of the best news that could have hit for a fighting game and I hope that other developers take up this and make it a trend. There’s no reason why players who just want to get playing online should have to spend hours completing menial tasks against the AI just to get access to the hidden players. Heck, if I didn’t bother with that I would never have unlocked Cammy, my Street Fighter IV main. I know there are legitimate reasons for doing this, namely to increase the longevity of the game that a consumer purchased, but how about making things like costumes or colors (the second of which is already a SFIV unlockable) the real secret content. Extra stages are also acceptable, since they have no real gameplay significance in, say SFIV. Either that or include an option, like in Rock Band 2, where you have all of the content unlocked, but achievements are disabled. This would be far preferential to the current methodology currently en vogue.

Get Rock Band 2!

Now the world will know about your phat lewt

I know what you’re thinking: I love to tweet and I love to play WoW, but goddammit, it’s far too difficult to do both at the same time. I have to Alt-Tab and everything! TweetCraft has got the solution for you, an in-game Twitter client. With Peggle already integrated within WoW, I’m starting to wonder what other apocalyptic life-distracting measures are going to be added in the future.

Sad Half Year for the Japanese Bottom Line

Gamasutra reports that the Japanese gaming market is down a scary 25% in the first half of the year so far. Dan reports that perhaps we’re prematurely worried? Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, as of 8 July, has sold some ungodly 3.5 million or so units in the country while this Saturday will see the monumental release of Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS (forecasts say there are already 2 million pre-orders put down for the game), and the recent release of Wii Sports Resort has seen major success as well. I think it should be a healthy year for Japan, it’s just been stacked toward the second half.

L4D2…Kinda Sounds like a Droid, no?

In unsurprising news, Valve has announced that players who pre-order Left 4 Dead 2 will have early access to the demo. This is pretty much exactly what happened with Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2, so no surprises here.

Other neat news claims that players will have access to a cricket bat a la Shaun of the Dead.

Also reported was a rumor that L4D players might be able to interface in a meaningful way with L4D2 players, meaning a less fractured player base. I hope they get it worked out; online games live and die by their player base and dividing it is never wise.

Bonus Left 4 Dead Sackboy Images!

Get Left 4 Dead!

Look! A Three-Headed Monkey!

Ok, so it doesn’t include that game, but Lucasarts is releasing a classics collection via Steam that includes seminal adventure titles such as The Dig, LOOM, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. It’s great news to see that they’re finally capitalizing on their adventure game library and it, combined with the re-release of The Secret of Monkey Island, gives me some confidence that we might see other HD remakes. Day of the Tentacle remake, anyone?

Mega Awesome

Tired of adorable Mega Man videos? I’m not. Enjoy.

That kid’s little brother sure is a pain…reminds me of my childhood.

BONUS ATARI REMAKE MEGA MAN VIDEO:

Music Was Better in the Past

I’m not sure if there’s actually a re-release of the Chrono Trigger Soundtrack imminent in Japan, but this recent trailer sure seems to suggest something of the sort.

If it is being re-released, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out in September when I head over to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Get Chrono Trigger DS!

It’ll Soak Up Water!

I’m pretty sure you all know that I adore the folks over at Giant Bomb. Here’s their hilarious commercial for their iPhone app. I won’t be getting it (too much $$ for my tastes), but the commercial sure is funny.

Critical Much?

Says famed game designer Fumito Ueda regarding news that Shigeru Miyamoto was inspired by Shadow of the Colossus and built a level around that:

Yes I have played it, it was hard to not to since it was rumored that Miyamoto-san was inspired by me. But I had expected more, that segement {SIC], was like the rest of the game not so fun as it could had been. I think the fans made a big deal out of nothing when they said Miyamoto had stolen from me. The thing I am critical over isn’t that they didn’t borrow anything that isn’t unique for my game, but that they didn’t make more fun stages out of it.

To clarify, the level in question is the boss fight on the small planet where Mario must guide Bullet Bills to sensitive spots around a giant robot to defeat the boss. Way to be a jerk Ueda. I mean, your games are held to ridiculous artistic plateaus that Miyamoto’s have never been elevated to. It’s like comparing pop art to Picasso or something. I’m not saying that Miyamoto’s not a genius in his own right, but rather that the man doesn’t need to ape Ueda to make a fun game. The boss fight was a homage, not a direct attempt to bring Shadow of the Colossus to Super Mario Galaxy. There’s no need to get so pretentious!

Bonus Fact: Picasso’s full name is: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. I guess it makes sense that he only went with the first and last part, that would be hell to sign on all of his works.

Get Shadow of the Colossus!

Back Away From That Sun

Speaking of Miyamoto-san, he had this to say about all of the people clamoring for a new Kid Icarus sequel:

Wait, please.

There you have it. Chill out guys, it’s coming.

Nobody Likes a Guy Who Plays to Win

Professor David Myers, under the guise of science, played City of Heroes for a while to find out about the psychology of social groups. His account, published as Play and Punishment: The Sad and Curious Case of Twixt came to a predictable conclusion.

It seems that when Myers PvPed and fought with what are considered “cheap tactics” he was alienated and hated by everyone on the server, including people on his own faction. Myers stuck harshly to the rule set, but took the whole Heroes vs. Villains thing way too seriously for most, choosing not to adhere to social conventions within the game. To be fair, it’s pretty lame to have these accepted “Let’s not fight” zones in PvP areas. I mean, it reeks of grade school playground, doesn’t it? Anyway, it confirms what we already know about MMORPGs, the prevailing culture within the server trumps in-game rules and some things just become conventionally taboo. It’s the same with real life. For more interesting reading, check out Malcom Gladwell’s article in the New Yorker entitled How David Beats Goliath. It’s brilliant reading and conveys a lot of the same points without being a thinly veiled excuse to play City of Heroes for hours on end.

Whoops! Here’s More Work!

Back to Shigeru Miyamoto. It seems that he accidentally forced the Wii Sports Resort developers to include Golf within the game.

Says Takayuki Shimamura

“Right after getting back to Japan, he suddenly said: “You know we’re including golf now.” Apparently he’d stated in an interview that this time round golf shots would be determined by the backswing, even though at that time a golf game didn’t exist in any shape or form!”

How’s that for an origin story?

Houston…Well, I guess you can guess what comes next…

Battlefield 1943 came out this week! Kind of. The game is unplayable as of right now (as of when I write this). Servers are clogged and some users can’t even launch the game. Money well spent, I guess…

EDIT: It appears to be up and working properly now.
EDIT 2: Whoa, I’m wrong. Still wonky for the most part.

This is terrible news for a small, online arcade game like this. Games like these live and die by reputation and first week experiences, unless the Battlefield pedigree will carry it until they get it fixed.

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!

Texas Sex Offenders Could Be Required to Register Their Gamertags [GO]
May 7th, 2009 by Dan

In an interesting move by the Texas legislature, sex offenders may be required to register their online identities with the state, according to this article at Kotaku. While it (intelligently) doesn’t explicitly mention Xbox Live or the PSN, it’s clear that they’re talking about services like that or AIM. The bill, if passed, could even be extended to restrict sex offenders from even having identities on social networking sites altogether.

It’s a bizarre move by the government to limit freedoms, but then again it’s to convicted sex offenders. I’m no lawyer, but I’m not sure how the constitution falls on this topic and I predict that if Texas does pass this into law, it will quickly be challenged as high as it can go. Not that I don’t support vigilance with respect to sex offenders, but it just seems a little too big brother-y to not let you use a social networking site, since the government doesn’t have control of those. Not allowing you to teach or work with kids is a smart, good thing, but cutting you off from the (if the trend continues) vein of modern society seems harsh. I do support registration of online identities though, since it’s really no different than publishing on those websites where they all live like in Knocked Up.

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