Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FreeStyleGames lives to make another game.

So, just after three months and change of just sort of hanging in there, FreeStyleGames has signed a new deal with Activision, ensuring they get to stay around and work on a "new, innovative" game that has yet to be announced.  Well, 'they' minus 35 people.  Still, it could have been worse.  All those months ago, I was convinced that they were just about to get their walking papers, after all.  Of course, that they're still around, in the current state they're around in, all but confirms that DJ Hero 3 is not going to be the next thing to come from them as it's not 'new', even though it's fairly innovative, so it's a bit of a kick to me at least.

I guess the fact that they're still around is the best news that could have come from this.  Even if they get relegated to making the next "Dance game" to capitalize (a bit late) on the buzz brought around by Just Dance, Dance Central, even the Michael Jackson game, that's still devs who made a couple good games making some cash and not having to muck about looking for another place to work for, establish a whole new dynamic with, and such.  And so long as they exist in some shape or form, we can always hope for another return, another excuse to use those turntables (but no microphone).

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Look Ahead - Project Zomboid

A couple days ago, my attention was brought about to a game that I believe I'd heard of before, but never really looked into it.  I don't quite remember why I didn't, why I wouldn't (because it seems fairly interesting), but all I know of is that this game was put back to the forefront of my mind when a youtube person I'm subscribed to did a little test run of the Alpha Tech Demo he'd gotten.  The game, obviously as it's in the title, is called Project Zomboid, and it's being made by a little indie group appropriately named The Indie Stone.  From what I can tell, they're based in the UK, as is the game itself.

The premise of the game is relatively simple:  There is a zombie outbreak, and the game is telling the story of how you died to it.  Yes, that's right, Project Zomboid is the Tarantino movie of Zombie games, in that you know how it ends, so the important part is how it escalated there.  Admirably, the game attempts a story that gives a goal without restricting you and, from what I can imagine, can branch rather quickly.  At the start your character and his significant other, who is injured, are holed up in yet another in a series of 'safe' houses on the continued journey of survival.  The tutorial then takes place which explains the base game, showing off how you scavenge for food, fight zombies and defend yourself via crafting and barricades.

It also teaches you that you'll encounter other survivors.  And said survivors aren't always friendly, as paulsoaresjr (The youtuber mentioned earlier) eventually learns.

Positive impressions aside, I do have to state that, personally, the interface and the controls seem a bit clunky still (Of course, this is just from what I've seen; I've not actually played it for reasons we all know by now) but with the aggressive (In a good way) patching the developers have shown capable of doing, hopefully they'll be able to clear that up to match the good the overall rest of the game carries.  And hopefully the myriad of problems they've experienced with the game (Discussed on the blog that I've already linked) will clear up soon enough.

One of those problems, being with Google Checkout, has actually stopped them from really selling the game itself, which they've done a little workaround spoken of here that will explain what they're doing.  But in essence, if you buy one of their other games, you get a free, lifetime access pass (whatever you want to call it) to Project Zomboid and all its updates.  (Similar to, say, Minecraft with its account system.)

Even as someone who hasn't personally been all too affected by the apparent 'glut' of Zombie games that others speak of, I'm glad to see a refreshing attempt on the whole idea.  Sure, you shoot zombies, but you'll never actually get them all; you just get enough of them before they catch up to you.  The sense of dread absent in most other zombie titles will be here in spades, given that well, you know they're going to get you.  It's just a matter of when.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

NGP gets a (possible) name: "Vita"

Take a look above, as it's the first (possible) picture of the NGP (from Joystiq.) that actually isn't a stock photo from what I've seen.  Sure, it's more of a mock-up than anything, but my point stands.  Anyways, that's not explicitly the point, so much as the latest addition to the overall look:  What may possibly be a logo.  When I started suggesting possibilities for alternate names (a whole one and a half of them, I guess) I never would have come up with the name "PS Vita", and when presented with it, I'm sure my reaction was the same as most everyone else:  "W...what?"

Now, while it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue right away, nor does it lend itself to accurately giving you an idea on what it even is, I can kind of understand the thought behind naming it the Vita, if, of course, they do name it that.  Or, at least, I can throw a couple reasons out there and suggest it was on their minds so it doesn't look like five guys sat around a table playing Scrabble until the letters just sort of fell into place.

Now, a quick googling will lead you to the quick revelation that "Vita" means "Life" in a couple of languages.  Given the PSP's lackluster appearance (not actual performance), a good way of shedding that image would likely be to launch a campaign built around that point, claiming to "Breathe new 'life' into portable gaming" or something of the sort.  Really, so long as they manage to keep away from psychic babies and (as much as I didn't personally mind him) Marcus, pretty much any ad campaign for this will be fine, not even necessarily pointing out the Vita part.  Still, taking a cue from Nintendo and incorporating the console name into the message ("Wii would like to play~") would likely be a good idea.

A very slightly less quick googling will also bring up the fact that "Vita" is also a different form of the more common word "Beta", which we all know is the second letter of the Greek Alphabet and is pretty much usually synonymous with "second", with the common example being "Beta" being the second phase of a game's development.  Given that this will be the second Playstation Handheld Device, well, that just sort of works nicely.  Not very many people will know that right off, which is a bit unfortunate, and naming it the "PS Beta" would likely raise more than a few eyebrows, but for what it is, it's not exactly offensively bad or anything, so it'll work.  We all got used to calling the Wii "The Wii", and it obviously hasn't distracted from its success.

For my own opinion, while I'm not exactly impressed right off with it, after looking into it, I think it's a fairly 'smart' name, even if it's a name that will allow all, and you'll have to excuse the meme, the haters to continue to hate.  Which, hey, there will be detractors for everything, and no matter what this was going to be named, there was likely going to be a lot of vocalizations against it.  While this makes it a bit easier, it's not starting something that wasn't going to happen anyway.

Of course, it could be an elaborate hoax, or we could have another "Move" situation, where we all sort of accepted that would be called "Arc" until a Microsoft patent forced "Move" to win by default.  We'll just have to see how E3 goes.  And, for what it's worth, I really hate ending E3 related articles with "We'll just have to wait" because it's such a crap thing to do, really, but, hey, it's not like I'm a psychic or anything, and I don't want to state rumors or unannounced things here as fact.

Update!:  Evidence just keeps a-comin'. In there, there's some source code for a Playstation website where there is clearly a couple instances of the phrase "PS Vita".  So either this thing is going to be called the PS Vita, or something is going to be named the Vita!  (Or it's still just an internal codename.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

White Knight Chronicles 2 Dated for Europe, America gets nothing.

So, a little while back, I pointed out that White Knight Chronicles 2 and White Knight Chronicles:  Origins were both officially announced for Europe, but the release date was fairly vague.  Now it's a bit more concrete.  According to Joystiq, both games will see a release date on some day between June 8th and June 10th, depending on your territory which is, uh, fairly soon, actually!  I guess they just wanted to be sure, of course.

So, what did the publisher for the American version say about what we get?  "Eh, Summer."  Which, seeing as June 21st will be the first day of Summer here (I believe), well, there will be at least a slight delay, and of course, the title I'm most interested in hearing about, Origins, wasn't breathed of at all.  Getting a little upset with the waiting, fellas.  I like my giant robots and all (which, come on, these are basically giant robots), but I won't wait forever to hear things about them.

(Please localize it, I will buy it.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

House of the Dead: Overkill announced for PS3

Pictured:  Improper Aiming Priorities.
In a not-so-surprising move, Sega has announced that House of the Dead:  Overkill will be the latest game to join the ranks of "Formerly Wii Exclusive" titles, in an attempt to capitalize on the invent of Move.  As Joystiq and Siliconera report, the up-port, in addition to featuring obviously better graphics and the almost obligatory 3D TV option, the game will come with two new scenarios made exclusively for the Extended Edition, which, well, makes sense given the title.  So, come October, Move owners will be able to shoot things and hear the word 'Fuck' said so many times, it loses all meaning.  Apparently.

Honestly, I'm not too excited; House of the Dead games haven't really had an impact on me at all as I only recall playing it once in one of those gigantic, awesome arcade units with the foot pedal to take cover and the giant red and blue guns attached to a cord way too small.  Which, admittedly, was fun, but not something that I necessarily need in a home setting, especially on my own.  Although I have to admit, Overkill looks like a bit of fun from what I remember after seeing a bit of it Livestreamed a while back....but maybe I'm forgetting or misremembering.

So why talk about it?  Clearly, I usually only bring up announcement of titles here that fill me with something resembling excitement, so if I don't care about the game, why even show it off?  Well, the answer is fairly simple.  I'm hoping that this title is a precursor to a similar port of Sega's other over-the-top-violent game, sent out as an attempt to make the Wii more than the 'cutesy, family console' that, honestly, probably didn't go over too well.  (Not that I'm saying the Wii is only good for family titles, of course.  Just stating one of those general stereotypes for this gen that just won't go away.)

Yes, I'm talking about Madworld.  (Clearly, I mean, the box art is right there.)  While most people will tell you that it's a bad game I tell you....well, that I don't know.  As I've stated several times, my Wii-time is and has been limited, so even though I purchased a copy f Madworld a while back, I've only really played the first level, which pleasantly surprised me.  You just don't see the Extreme gore and humor combination much these days, so, for me at least, it's a bit refreshing when it comes about again.  And hey, Bender is one of the announcers.  (Okay, not Bender, but John Di Maggio all the same)

Even though my experience with the title is limited, I'd almost assuredly buy Madworld HD on sight, if just to enjoy trapping a man with a tire, impaling him with a street sign, and then throwing him against a wall of spikes in the comfort of a seated position, rather than the standing one afforded by our Wii placement.  (Not that I couldn't bring over a chair but, hey, Effort.)  So, here's hoping.

Speaking of Sega getting off their asses and giving us stuff to buy, Where's Valkyria Chronicles 3?


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yo Dawg, I heard you liked Storms....

You heard wrong, good sir!


Anyways, it's pretty funny how I said I wasn't going to timestamp-alter posts for weather issues and then, well, weather issues happened.  So, true to my word, this will be going up Thursday, which means hey, I missed a day.  Again.  Through no fault of my own.  Sigh.  And I hate to say that I'm not sure how content-heavy this post can really be, as there's just not a whole hell of a lot of news out there that really strikes me.

Chance posted about Marvelous' plans for NGP on Tuesday, which is really good news for me, well, for everyone really, but especially me, as it gives me hopes for a decent Harvest Moon game on a Sony handheld.  ...What?  Don't look at me like that.  I am a man who enjoys his Harvest Moon games!  Boy & Girl is serviceable, since it's just Back to Nature and Back to Nature:  Girl version on one UMD, but Back to Nature is the less-good version of Friends of Mineral Town for GBA, and it looks weird on the PSP.

I editted my last post with this update, but I'll say it here, too.  Minecraft "Pocket Edition" details were thrown about on Reddit by one of the developers from Mojang, which is actually a pretty common thing.  There's some sort of real weird, close relationship between Reddit and Mojang, from what I can tell, as I've been linked to a few different things of Notch talking personally(?  Is such a thing there really possible?) to the folks there, not to mention the large group of Let's Players of Minecraft there who have a ton of rather large projects.  If you need proof...

Invizimals: Shadow Zone was announced for PSP, which, Invizimals was one of the more obvious (if only for recent exposure) 'Pokemon clones' that I could have talked about when I talked about pokemon clones, and I didn't, specifically because of how little I know about the thing.  It seems obvious enough, walk around your house or other places you don't mind being seen interacting with AR technology at with the game on and try to catch different members of this rather large caste of monsters that have been developed for the series.  Beyond that, I don't really know.  Which is mostly why I abstained from talking on it, as I might take the plunge on it at some point.

So, there's that.  From one day to another, the meterologists don't know what's going to happen, but the general consensus is that the worst of the storm season should be over and maybe we can go a week or two without a storm (aside from one next week) comfortably.  We'll just have to see, though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reasons to Own an Xperia Play: +1 (Kind of.)

So it was announced today that the Mobile version of Minecraft, previously announced in vague terms, such as a release date of "Sometime", followed by "Sometime in 2011" just got a little, tiny-bit more defined; this time as "Sometime in 2011, on the Xperia Play.  Then another sometime in 2011 for other mobile devices." in fewer words, likely.  While a bit weird to think of it on a couple levels, it does eventually work out for everybody, as mapping it to the controller-like....controls of the Xperia Play may just open the door for console versions at some point.....or perhaps a version styled after a similar handheld device with a similar control scheme that may or may not be codenamed NGP.

I am a very hopeful person, I understand.  It is quite possible that I've already started thinking of just how it would be custom-mapped to the NGP's controls, like swiping the back panel to place a block, or assigning general commands to general buttons - inventory to start, hot-bar navigation to L and R, looking around to the wonderful new right stick with movement to the left, X to jump, Square to punch, Circle to activate an item....etc., etc.

This is....this is all hypothetical, of course.  I haven't been thinking about this at all.  Assuredly.  Just, uh....just trust me on that.

Anyways, the point is, early access and a possibly better overall mobile experience, considering the controls, of Minecraft Mobile was announced, and that's pretty cool.  Now they just need a few more dozen good reasons to convince anyone to own an Xperia Play.

(Also, this is a little side-note, but some of you may notice the timestamp of this article and go, "Hey, I was around at 11:30 PM EST, and this wasn't up!" and that's because blogger went down and wouldn't let me sign in.  I'll be damned if I let that interrupt my daily flow now that I know how to Time Travel.  Of course, I will only use this power when it's Blogger getting in my way, not the weather.)

 Update!:  A few details have come out for Minecraft Mobile (my name), including the tentative(?) title of "Pocket Edition" for reasons that are no doubt immediately obvious.  So far as we can tell, the game is multi-player ready, but only in short-ranges, and there's not the actual single-player portion of Minecraft; merely Creative Mode in a capped limit world.  (Of which there can be multiples, I would hope.)  For the uninitiated (I use this phrase a lot, I hope it'd not condescending) Creative Mode is essentially the Infinite Lego version of Minecraft where all or most of the block types are immediately and infinitely available for you to build with.  No need to go off and 'harvest' anything, just build your masterpiece and admire it.

It also re-confirms that it will be exclusive to Xperia Play for undisclosed amount of time and, without giving specs out, says it'll run at 30+ FPS.  Which, hey, for Minecraft, is fairly impressive! (Or so I hear.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

And it Continues.

So, hey, more storms this week.  I think we went, what, a whole week without them?  Yaaaay.  But no more.  After being woken up by one at 6 AM this morning, I was pretty sure that it was not going to be a pleasant week and considering that weather.com expects my area to have a chance of storms from 10 o'clock tonight to...1 AM Wednesday, well, I was pretty right.  But, eh, that's how it goes, I guess.  And at least with the time I'll have not doing anything else, I'll be able to continue doing what I have been doing; getting material for more posts here.

Seeing as Innocent Life did little to sate my Harvest Moon urge, I've moved on to Rune Factory once more with the overall goal of actually completing it this time.  This will be the third time I've started it, as my first attempt was the most successful, leading me to fall out of playing pretty much one or two dungeons before the end.  I'd completed a year, married, started a successful farm and had my house fully upgraded, as far as I can tell/remember.  And my second time ended in Winter of the first year, meaning I was close, but I hadn't married and wasn't quite fully there with the upgrades.  We'll just have to see how this playthrough turns out.

I also started Shadow Hearts:  Covenant on PS2 since I've never played it and, well, I've already mentioned the PS2 replacing the PS3 in favor of caution with the weather, so I will stop harping on that.  It's a rather nice game so far, really kept the mood from the first, which is essentially a strange mix of creepiness, general fucked up-ness, downer notes, and dark humor.  For anyone that hasn't played Shadow Hearts and could go for a rather classic style RPG right about now, I'd recommend it.  There is a rather nice Let's Play of it here as well, but I'm of a mind that Shadow Hearts is more of a game that you have to experience before watching/reading an LP of it to get the same amount of enjoyment.  Of course, that might just be my love for batshit crazy stories coming out again.

So yeah, this is basically just one of those update posts, and a heads-up that I may have to miss a post some night this week.  Of course, I'll be doing whatever I can to make sure I don't, but it may just be out of my hands.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

PSP Remaster Series Inbound

While Chance beat me to the punch on this one, and as much as I hate to do, essentially, the same article he has, I did bring it up first.  All due respect, of course.  Still, while this is pretty much all the proof one would need to expect to be playing the two side-stories of Kratos on the PS3, word hasn't officially been dropped for NA or anywhere that is Japan yet, even though it might not be all that necessary.  With E3 coming up, they just might wait til then to bring it up to the general public, though, since this is kind of a big thing that they can make a big to-do about, even though everyone knows about it already now.  Especially since there was a press release about it.  (When I say general public, I pretty much mean there hasn't been a playstation blog post about it yet.)

Of course, this begs the question, "Why should we care?", and the answers are numerous and simple.  Not only will there be cross-compatibility between both versions, insofar as Game Saves goes (Sort of like how PSOne games work currently.  You can freely transfer your save between PS3 and PSP and continue playing just where you left off on the go), but the PS3 versions will likely see graphical updates and possibly even extra content.  (And I would suspect trophies.(And I would be wrong. Ffffuuu-))  And it could possibly mean a release of certain games we'd never see otherwise because Sega is a company full of assholes and trolls.  Not only that, but if said games are released on PS3, their graphical update might include the lovely style the original had that the two portable titles just can't swing.

So far, the only title confirmed for this treatment is Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, which means it'll be the first game to be on the Wii, PSP and PS3 simultaneously which kind of blows my mind.  Hopefully the release of the PS3 version will mirror the Wii version moreso, as I've heard a few things were cut in transition to the PSP (namely underwater battles) that were new and neat to the series.  But even without those, I'm sure Japan will be happy.  I mean, I'll be happy with what we get, since it'll likely prove to everyone that, hey, the PSP did, in fact, have a ton of good games.  Now, as far as what I really want?  Aside from VC, give me a Metal Gear Ac!d bundle if you really want to impress me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

E3's Coming, Which Means the NGP is Too!

My goal is to make every picture using this stock photo with obvious photoshops on it.
Since it was announced, and the specs were put out for us to say what we predicted correctly, there actually hasn't been a lot of NGP news.  Partly for the fact that people have a lot more sensational Sony news to report lately, and mostly, from what I can figure, well, the general lack of anything new coming out for it, tech-wise.  Which is a bit interesting, as either Sony is doing a good job at keeping this under wraps, or people are just waiting for E3 to get closer to really put info out there for maximum interest.  And, given that it's just about time, hopefully we'll start seeing some info coming out.

But definitely, definitely what we're going to end up getting from E3 will be a name, a price, and hopefully a release date.  So basically this post would be me saying what I expect as I have been known to predict things NGP-related.  Some launch games to be announced would be nice as well, and while I expect a couple to be tossed out, I don't expect a full list at all.

First off, as far as the name goes, I have a few thoughts on it.  I'm not sure what I expect the full name to be, but I could definitely see them sticking with the NGP, since it's stuck this long.  The name "Next Generation Portable" won't stick, but they could easily swap out the Next Generation part for something that also starts with NG.  The only other thing I can think of is "New Gaming", which is mostly worse than "Next Generation" but you get where I'm coming from.  My lack of being able to think is just not helping my point, is all.

The fact remains that they very likely could go with "PSP2" as the name, given their numeric scheme for names, but many will argue, likely for little reason other than to detract, that associating it with the PSP directly is one way to really kill interest in it.  Since the PSP 'failed' so hard, you see, despite selling somewhere in the neighborhood of 67.8 million units worldwide.  And as much as I disagree with that, I wouldn't mind a name other than "PSP2", though will happily accept PSP2 if that's what they really end up going with.

It's working so far.
The big sticking point on everyone's minds whenever the NGP comes up is what the price will be.  Obviously, Sony hasn't proven themselves to be quite reasonable with past pricing schemes, but we can always hope they'll have learned their multiple lessons on the subject.  Prices anywhere from $200-400 have been thrown around, as well as $999 for people who don't know what a placeholder is, but the general consensus is somewhere in the middle.  For the simple fact that there will be two models, one with wi-fi only and one with 3G as well, an obvious price discrepancy will be in place between the two of them, so you have to think of a high-end and a low-end.  My actual, actual guess at the price is $249.99 for the Wi-Fi model and $299.99 for the 3G model.  As much as I hope both could be lower, that's really looking like what the picture is.

Which, given the 3DS, the thing that everyone expects to completely smash the NGP, is priced at $249.99 as well, would be a very good move, especially if you really push everything that makes the two different.  (The second touch panel, second stick, PSN support, trophy support, etc.)  One would hope upon hope that Sony really resists the urge to add the customary "Ours is better" extra cost, bringing the pricing up to $299.99 and $349.99, if only for the fact that people will harp on the high-end of that.  Only time will tell on that front, though.

I can't wait til we get actual pictures of this thing instead of stock photos.
As far as launch games, I'm not too sure any of the titles shown off so far will actually make the launch window, instead relying on 3rd-Party Support to carry it, if only to show that 3rd Parties are, in fact interested in developing for the thing.  Although, if anything, I could see the Resistance title being in the launch line-up if just for the fact that it started on the PS3 as a launch, so it would be nice to have that sort of parity.  And despite my love for Uncharted as a series, and my high-opinion of Naughty Dog, I just don't think the Uncharted game will be a launch title.  And for every bit of me that hopes that it will be, I hope that it won't be either, since it will likely be -the game- to be released on it shortly after launch that will start getting people to really get it, since it shatters the perception of "Well, launch titles usually suck, just gonna wait" that people normally have after a new system comes out.

One thing that does have me a little annoyed, re: the games now that the facts have come out, is the fact that there's not going to be any on-board storage for the NGP.  If anything, that's one advantage the PSPGo clearly had over any other PSP, as it meant you didn't really have to splurge on cards to put all your games on and, instead, you had everything right there.  And not only that, if I remember the rumors clearly, then the sticks that the games come on will have the storage needed for the DLC and patches post-release which could likely end up messy unless you can leave a good portion of storage free.  Hopefully that will change in a way that lets your memory sticks be sort of a catch-all for that sort of stuff, but it may be an issue of 'it's gotta be that way'.  Again, one of those wait and see deals.

With any luck, this thing will see a release date that puts it firmly in the the Holiday season everywhere, which would help get it on Christmas lists everywhere.  The flip-flopping of "It will be delayed" and "It won't be delayed" after the Japan crisis has that sort of in a gray area, but I imagine things have been sorted well enough on that.  Regardless, whenever it releases, it will be high on my get-list, provided the price is right.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome....to Rapture.

Er....no, not this one.

This one.  Apparently.

Now, while there are a couple places that I don't want to take this blog, religion being one of the bigger areas, this shit is everywhere.

And yet, there really isn't much to say about it.  This sort of thing is pretty common, actually, and why it's getting media coverage this time around is baffling.  Especially so, considering this isn't the first time Harold Camping, the guy who is shouting tomorrow as Judgment Day from the rooftops, has has predicted the Rapture
Camping uses a mathematical formula linked to prophecies in the Bible. He once predicted Sept. 6, 1994 as Judgment Day, but that math didn't quite work out. This time around, Camping's organization took out an ad in Reader's Digest, stating: "The Bible guarantees the end of the world will begin with Judgment Day May 21, 2011."
So, essentially, he's going "Okay, for real this time, you guys."  I, uh.....alright, guy.  If you want to take a look at the big math involved in predicting the end of the world, it is here.  (Spoiler:  The only math shown is simple addition and subtraction.)

Of course, I don't mean to offend anyone reading this, as I'm obviously not poking fun at any religion, just at a guy saying he derived math from the Bible that guarantees the start-date of the Rapture when he was completely wrong before and predicting an actual -day- for a giant catastrophe is silly.  I have a friend in Australia.  It is tomorrow there.  It has not Raptured yet.  And the last time something was supposed to destroy the world, well, it just didn't happen, as you can see.  (Protip:  If you don't get that, look at the URL when/if you open it.)

Anyways, that's just all I wanted to address with this.  Apologies for this being a fairly link/media-heavy article, but hopefully it brought around a chuckle or something.  See you tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Skyrim - In This Place, There Always Be Dragons

At least, that's what Todd Howard, Producer, says.  Not only will dragons be part of scripted events and such, but they will also just be a randomly spawning monster around the countryside.  While not explicitly surprising, it is a bit comforting to me especially, as I am a man who enjoys Dragons, clearly.  (I really don't even have to link to that post.  For whatever reason, it has about 10x more views than any other post of mine and I have absolutely no clue why.

Now, I haven't talked about Skyrim much, and that's just mostly because of the little stigma I have with Bethesda games.  I always get them for consoles, and then I always end up getting them again on PC to actually play them, what with all the mods and such out there.  Real cheap-like, of course, but I always feel like I let myself get into them too early, when a packaged version of the 'full' game comes out a year later and drops like a brick in price.  Of course, I can't currently play them on PC since this PC just.....just sucks and I wouldn't actually want to do any gaming on it, but you get my point.

And I'm pretty sure that's what I'm going to do with Skyrim this time.  Not only did my last foray into a Bethesda game burn me a little (Oblivion GotY on PS3, no DLC = Angry Panda), I just don't have enough time.  With Summer coming around, I'm not going to be playing my PS3 a lot unless I get some real, true cooling options out here, which isn't that likely, and I already have too many games as it is.  One of them being Fallout 3:  GotY which I haven't even touched yet, which, well, I'm sure I don't have to explain anything about that at all to you, the reader.

Of course, that isn't to say that if whatever computer situation I get next is able to play it (which isn't too likely) I won't, because Skyrim looks really, really interesting.  The Dragons, the new Dual-Wielding system, the usual 'real' open-world you get from Bethesda, its allure is pretty strong.  And it just looks absolutely wonderful from all the material they've released.  But then you have to consider 'the other side', the bugs and such that you know will be there, and might be a continual pain in the ass and, again, the fact that there will likely be two big expansions, little bits of DLC, and then a big package deal after a year and change.

I like to think I've become a fairly patient man.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Popcorn On - Hero

So, I got this a couple weeks ago and watched it a few days later, but haven't really had a lot of occasion to talk about it til now.  Now being that I've been thinking about it again and, honestly?  I'm not sure what to think about this movie.  So maybe if I write it out, it'll help me really figure it out.  And in the process give you guys sort of a pros/cons look at the movie from my perspectives and opinions.

Now, the first thing I'll point out, which I have to point out is that, well, you guys know I don't like wire-fu nonsense.  And this movie is rife with it.  But at the same time, it's not super bad with it, and doesn't completely use it as a crutch.  So while I sort of like the fight scenes, I can't really remember one beyond the awful parts I don't like.  Well, okay, a couple parts, but the movie seems more about the drama than the action.

It's really hard to explain the plot of the movie without spoiling what is "The Twist" that comes into play half-way or a little earlier through the film.  So, rather than dance around it, and with the fact that it's given away on the friggin' DVD case, I'm just going to spoiler it here and, basically throughout the entire article.  This is your fair warning, that if you want to watch the movie unblemished by pre-knowledge, you should probably stop reading now and wait til you've seen it.

The main character of the film is simply known as Nameless.  Yet he is a prefect of a small area under the King of Qin's domain.  (For those not in the know, a Prefect is sort of like a Governor or similar; basically in charge of running an area)  Nameless has dedicated his life to practicing his swordplay for reasons that aren't disclosed until fairly late in the film, but are apparent much earlier than that; those reasons being that he is bent on revenge against the man who killed his parents.  Because of that swordplay technique, he has been granted an audience with the King of Qin, as he has defeated three deadly assassins that the King put a bounty on after they tried to kill him and failed.

In true Tarantino style, the movie starts pretty much at the end and cuts back to earlier times to progress the movie along.  The first fight is between Nameless and the first Assassin, Long Sky, who specializes in a spear fighting style.  And it's probably the first really sour taste the movie gave me that almost made me stop watching it.  Because Nameless and Long Sky don't actually fight at the start; after Long Sky fights off a few guards like they're nothing, he and Nameless stand before one another in what is essentially a Go parlor and rather than fight with their weapons....they fight with their minds.

Except not really.  Without the movie magic, it would just be two guys standing in front of each other with a pretty neat song playing in the background for ten minutes.  The way they explain it is that it's a battle of wills, in that each of them have been able to size the other up and can play out the whole fight in their minds to determine the victor.  Then once one was decided in their minds, they fought for real.  Which lasted....not too long and unsurprisingly, Nameless wins.  I mean, absolutely zero surprise, the reason he's there is because he has the end of Sky's spear.

From there, the movie goes on to have Nameless get moved closer to the King.  As celebration for taking out more than one assassin, he is allowed within 20 paces of the King to drink with him.  As well as getting a ton of gold and land to rule over.  This is important, of course, but you don't really get why until the end.  Anyways, after that, the swords of the other two assassins, Broken Sword and Flying Snow are exposed, and the King asks him how he managed to defeat them, as they worked together as a deadly pair, for they were truly devoted to one another.

Without going too much into it, since it's a really really long section of movie with a log of exposition and not a lot of action, Nameless recounts a tale of how he gained their trust by assisting in warding off an attack of Qin archers and then managed to turn them against one another through sheer jealousy.  After Snow killed Sword, Snow's emotions were too unchecked and Nameless was able to defeat her easily.

Then the movie does something I really, really have to respect.  At this point in the story, the King and Nameless have been fairly pleasant to one another, but the King hasn't had a lot of his personality shown.  Sure, he wants to rule the land but....eh.  Whatever, who doesn't.  But here, the King really kicks into high-gear by immediately calling Bullshit on Nameless' story.  He muses that Nameless is actually working with the three assassins, as he knows from his dealings with Snow and Sword that they wouldn't turn on one another.

And the best part?  He's right.  Mostly.

After the King tells his version of what he thinks happened with the entire plot, Nameless concedes the fact that he is indeed an Assassin working to take him down, for the King of Qin's armies destroyed his village and killed his family.  And then proceeds to tell the King the entire story of what really happened.

Basically, because Nameless has perfected this badass technique, they think he's the only person who will be able to successfully assassinate the King of Qin, and concoct this scheme to get him close enough to perform this technique which requires him to be within, you guessed it, 20 paces.  The battle with Sky happened mostly as he said it did, except the strike he took Sky down with wasn't fatal and he was recovering off somewhere from it.  A similar thing had to happen with Snow, who essentially stabs Sword to make sure she fights Nameless instead of him.  (He isn't killed by the stab, either.  She's pretty accurate herself!)

Here's where the movie really starts building to the ending climax.  Sword is essentially the reason why the first assassination attempt failed.  He fought the King while Snow held off the guards and during that fight, saw the true nature of the King.  He then refused to kill him, because, in his opinion, the King had the ability to unite the land under a peaceful rule.  (Spoiler:  He's right, too.)  In telling this to both Snow and Nameless, he effectively draws a battle line between the two of them by stating that the King will not be killed while he still breathes.

Throughout the movie, the toll of everything starts becoming more and more clear, and in the end, Nameless realizes the truth, much as Sword had.  After making his decision on whether to kill the King or not, which I won't say (I will say the King gives Nameless his sword to choose with), Sword and Snow have a confrontation over their conflicting beliefs regarding the king, and decide to fight for their convictions.  In order to make Snow believe him, that he wants to be with her, that he truly wants a land of peace, he doesn't block a fatal strike and Snow accidentally kills him, forcing her to see the truth as well.

The rest of the ending, I just won't say, as it really is pretty neat.  But I'm really not sure.  I like the story, I really like the style and use of color, but I didn't like the action, and that's sort of the Anti-What-I-Got-The-Movie-For.  A good story in a Kung-Fu/Action movie is a bonus, not a selling point.  Still, all in all, I would say that it was a worthwhile experience, and really insist that anyone who hasn't seen it (which, if you haven't seen it by this point in reading this, what the hell is wrong with you, I warned you) to do so, to form their own opinions on it.  As for whether I'll watch it again...I'm not sure.  I might.  Which might be sort of telling on my opinion of it as well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Went Wrong - Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon

Waaaay way back in the beforetimes of 2006, Natsume, in their infinite wisdom, decided that simple farming games just weren't cool anymore.  There has to be some sort of hook, some change-up to the series, and they decided on two different methods.  Two methods that couldn't be further from each other, and on different platforms to boot, because, well, obviously that's how you'll get an idea of what people want.  Anyways, the method that Nintendo DS owners got was a little game that you might have heard of called "Rune Factory:  A Fantasy Harvest Moon".  (As a sidenote:  Rune Factory: Oceans is getting localized with a slightly different name for PS3/Wii.)

Rune Factory took the concept and added a few easy additions without really taking much away.  You don't really get a pet, which is a sort of a staple of the series, but there's a proper replacement in the form of tamable monsters.  That would be the other big addition, is Monsters and the combating thereof.  All around the area in Rune Factory, are caves that you can explore with monsters inhabiting the interior of that you can kill for experience (Rune Factory is a bit more of an RPG than normal) or tame to take care of on your farm.  There's also a few more possible romance options than normal.  The point here is that they didn't really cut out a lot of stuff and, if anything, made it a bit deeper.

Innocent Life?  Not....not so much.  And to explain that, I am basically explaining my problem with the more 'narrative' of the installments of the Harvest Moon franchise.  Even though Innocent Life isn't what I would call one of the 'narrative' games, in that it certainly feels loose enough where you can do whatever and I imagine though the goal is clear, it's not concrete.  But, essentially as I've explained before, Harvest Moon as a series is just something you play when you want to chill out and grow some plants, pet some animals and hit on some local ladies.  No real goal is needed, so when one is pushed on you, it kinda ruins the whole reason you're playing.

Let's cut to the chase that is possibly my biggest "ehhhhh" thing with the game:  You're a robot.  So right there, the ability to romance people in the town is completely excised.  And honestly?  Human interaction period is mostly optional at best.  Through the whole game, I imagine you need to talk to about a dozen people, if that.  Even though nobody knows you're a robot (at first) absolutely nobody is interested in you beyond saying, "Hey, there's that poor kid stuck at the Easter Ruins."  The characters, in fact, aren't generally interested in much, really.

So, let's move on to the overall story here with that, since the other characters in the game are pretty vital to what is, in all honesty, a pretty terrible backstory.  Now, you know that you play a robot, but I haven't told you why just yet.  And the reason is simple:  Everyone on the fucking island is too lazy to save their own life.  Essentially, everyone on the island knows of the 'legend' that the lands became un-farmable without high technology because the Spirits of the island became angry with the people there.  And that only by farming the Easter Ruins properly, with a human touch and care, could they be appeased.  So what do they do?

Absolutely fuck-all.

To the point where Dr. Hope Grain (ugh.) goes, "Hey, this is pretty bad, the volcano looks like it might erupt and if that happens we're all going to die, I should probably do something."  But given that he is old and frail, and apparently completely unable to inspire others to do what they need to do, he just builds a robot to do it for him.  A robot that he programs to be a pure, innocent being, like a child, who will grow and flourish as the crops he plants does.

It's....not a very good backstory.  And Innocent Life isn't that good of a game, either.  It's a fair game with good points, I'll grant it that, but the sum of the frustrations with it simply outweigh the good.

Quite simply, the game is not at all built to be anything but a game where you farm and/or raise animals (eventually).  The townspeople offer nothing in the way of entertainment or insight or bond-growing, and even when you can go about and collect other materials, there's not that much plentiful and they barely even sell.  The wild food you can gather after you buy a scale pack has to grow back, even, and will sell for even less until they're fully grown again.  You can't even fish until Summer since you have to talk to the Fisherman to fish.  Not even in a sense where you have to get a fishing pole from him to go out and fish on your own.  But in the sense that you have to talk to him, get a pole and then you give it back.

The point is that there is very little to do if you are not farming.  Even cooking doesn't bring a lot to the table since it doesn't even require things to cook, since they're from your apparently magical ever-full refrigerator.  Which, I guess, is fine.  The farming is fine in this game, especially when you start unlocking things to make it easier to work with the rather large field you can eventually have.  Rail systems you can set up to put harvested crops onto so you can more easily take them to your shipping pod, for one, is a really neat idea, if not perfectly executed.

This reliance on the farming aspect makes it perfectly simple to pinpoint the exact moment where the game goes fully wrong:  Monday, 8th Day of Summer.  You see, weather has often been a key player in the Harvest Moon games; you got your sunny days, your rainy days (snowy in winter), and then your calamity days.  The Calamity days are when it's storming so harshly that you can't really do much aside from wonder why Natsume thought this was a good idea.  It also does bad things to your crops, which is what I'm getting to here.  The 8th day of Summer, as far as I can tell, is always going to be a storm day.  So, if you've been doing what you're supposed to do and you've got a bunch of stuff planted, well, there goes your money.

And Innocent Life is a bit worse at it than any other game in the series, as far as I can tell.  I more or less lost 4 or 5 plants per main crop (I usually do plots of 9 of the main stuff) and everything else was decimated or completely removed.  At that moment, when I saw that, I knew there was just nothing more I could experience in the game to make up for it.  As I explained to a friend, it's an excellent Robot simulation game, in the sense that robots really don't do a lot to spice up life or have fun.  So I will say that Innocent Life is clear in its goal and handles it well, but that doesn't make it interesting for anyone who plays Harvest Moon for the overall experience and not just the farm sim part.

As I said before, there's a lot of good in the game to be found by anyone who plays it.  The locales and areas all look absolutely wonderful.  Houses are large and detailed nicely, if feeling a bit out-of-scale at times, and there is a lot of area to explore before you realize there's really no point unless you're trying to treat your eyes.  The music is non-invasive and mostly fitting, though quite forgettable.  (I had noticed someone on a board somewhere said that to really hear the music, you had to use headphones, but never got around to it.)  And as a game, it plays fairly simply and nicely, even if there's hardly a good game to pair it to.

Also, you get a dune buggy. (Pictured a few pictures above)

But all in all, while interesting and while exploring an area where a Harvest Moon game genuinely has merit to be attempted in, it's a flawed game that will eventually convince you that you don't really like it, despite how you may feel playing that first season.  Which is a little disappointing, given that a Futuristic Harvest moon could have been so much more.  Perhaps they'll attempt it again sometime, but in the right way.  We can always hope.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chains of Olympus/Ghost of Sparta Possibly PS3-Bound?

That's what Joystiq seems to think, at least.  Apparently, a few sources in China (Which, from what I know, doesn't instantly mean a lot of credibility and, actually, the opposite, but...) say there's a listing coming up for the God of War Portable Collection which would include God of War:  Chains of Olympus and God of War:  Ghost of Sparta on the same disk with up-porting much like the original two God of War titles have received.  At this time, though, anyone who has previously had their hands in the franchise are busy doing other things (Minus the team responsible for the God of War Collection port, or at least, Joystiq makes no mention of them) so that would mean that another port team would have to step in to do it.

What does this mean for everyone?  Well, first off, if true, it just sort of continues the trend of Sony not really comprehending that if you make a portable game, you make it portable so it stays portable.  A lot of people will place the blame of the PSP tanking in Non-Japan (aside from rampant piracy) on the theory that any good PSP game would eventually make it to the PS2, thus negating the need for the lovely portable.  The Grand Theft Auto Stories games especially made this case.

Second off, on a much less critical note, it inevitably means that many more people will get to experience these two great games.  I'm almost of the mind that anyone who doesn't have a PSP and whines at the lack of ability to play the games it has should put up or shut up, but, hey, I'm also of a mind that God of War games are pretty great and the more attention they get, the better.  If only to make my dream of the next big SSM project come true.  I still think of that multiplayer concept and salivate sometimes.

So we'll just have to see about this.  If anything, this one's an E3 revealer.  Especially since Sony will want as many things as possible to distract from the last month.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What's the Time? It's Time to Get Chill!

So, I had a pretty Chill day today.  And I was thinking, "Say, there's a lot of games out there that you play when you just wanna chill out and relax", so, especially since I played one of those all day, I figured what better to do a post about than them?  Re-lyric the above song in your head at your leisure, of course, or feel free to skip it entirely.  I just always say that when it is time to Chill.

Harvest Moon, as a series, is pretty much the quintessential "Chill" game.  There's as much or as little depth to it as you want there to be, and, with most of the games (the really non-narrative ones, at least, which are the ones that count) it's all up to you on what you want to do.  The basic goal is pretty clear, of course.  Usually, the game wants you to be the ultimate farmer, build up your farm, clear your lands, raise crops and livestock, that sort of thing, but if you don't?  No real immediate consequences.  Say ore mining and hitting on the Mayor's daughter is more your thing.  Well, this is a thing you can do.

Bust out your fishing rod (Once you've acquired it from somewhere or someone) and spend all day fishing if you want.  Sell the fish, cook 'em, eat 'em or give them to someone who may or may not appreciate the gesture, it's all fair game.  While there are always little bits of story intermingled here and there (from the bare-bones "Rival Events", to oftentimes more driving things, more interaction with the people around town to find out something they need or want, where you can then give it to them or decide against it), the broadest strokes of the story are the ones you make for yourself.

It's very much a game series that you play in your head more than not, and that's pretty much the true beauty to it.  It's not overcomplicated at all, unless you make it that way, but even then it's easy enough to just step back, relax, and let it run.  And while they're not always the games you want to play, they'll always be there when you do, ready to let you start right back where you left off, or all over again, since sometimes going back to scratch is just as fun as anything else.

Animal Crossing is another of these series, and one that I never really got exposed to until way too late into it.  As I've said time and time before, I completely skipped the Game Cube, and Animal Crossing and the Skies of Arcadia remake are pretty much the two main games that bring me close to regretting it.  Had I had Animal Crossing back when it was new, back when it was on Game Cube, I likely would have fell in love with it, as I have with the Harvest Moon series.

And while I speak as if I don't love the series, I sort of have to; since my only real dip into it is with the DS version, which most speak of with grumbles, as well as the Wii version (which I also own but have never really played.)  On top of those two games being, by-and-large, the same game, they try too hard, but not enough, to be the Game Cube version, or so I'm told.  And through it all, there's just something missing, especially when you compare it to the Harvest Moon games in levels of 'Chill-i-tude'.  My word.

If I had to guess, I would suggest that the trademark lack of romance is part of that; not that you'd want to romance anything in Animal Crossing, of course.  Being the sole human in a town of humanoid animals is the thing of nightmares for most of us, but it never gets that bad, thankfully.  But it's something that I notice in the more narrative Harvest Moons as well, when you can't actually romance anybody.  There's no real feel of relationship building in those games, and while there is some in Animal Crossing, in that you can tell who are your friends and who are not so much, that's about it.

But that might not be the whole of it.  To say that Animal Crossing as a series isn't that great would be a lie, of course.  It's a good series on its own, and definitely fulfills the Chill criteria, as you can basically do whatever you wish without any real repercussions.  I just think that it needs a little something, and hopefully Animal Crossing 3DS does a little to add to the mix, rather than continuing down the Pokemon path of keeping the same things that hamper it while making it shinier and adding superfluous things.  Will I neglect to buy AC 3DS if it doesn't add much?  Probably not.  But I can dream.

What would an article about games that let you do, essentially, whatever you want be without a mention of The Sims series?  Unquestioningly the most popular franchise in what I would call the "Chill" series of games, or the Chill genre, millions of people have played at least one Sims game and understood the allure of governing the lives of a virtual family, sometimes loosely, sometimes strictly and for their own good, and sometimes out of pure sadism.  Yes, anyone who says they've played the Sims for an extended period of time and claims that they didn't kill one of them is a liar of the highest caliber. 

The game could not likely be any easier.  You can build a house for your sims or just buy/download a pre-built one for them to live in and then, well, facilitate their living for however long or short you would like to.  You can make your sims rise to the tops of their chosen professions, or have them wallow in their own filth while the repossession people come and slowly take everything they have to pay for the bills.  With the expansions comes even more options for careers or side activities and the mod options allow for limitless creation thanks to the power of the internet.

Of course, The Sims doesn't have the same lack of relationship issue that Animal Crossing has and, if anything, provides more there than any other game on the market.  You can have one of your sims be, quite simply, a pimp or pimpette of the highest order, with every eligible bachelor or bachelorette on speed-dial, ready to head over for a little hot tub fun at the press of a button.

If anything, though, I'd say it's the complete freedom of The Sims that creates, eventually, a complete lack of focus when playing it, and you eventually stop playing it, so much as you're stalling to try and figure out what you want to happen next.  Sure, your main sim is a CEO now, but, well, now what?  Maybe a kid?  But before a kid, you should probably have him with someone, but who?  All those people, all those options, which one will be around for your main sim's son and/or daughter while he's off at work?  Or maybe he could just quit and start another career?  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Still, any game in these series will likely find a way to eat straight hours of your life, should you let it, and there's absolutely nothing wrong in doing so.  Sometimes you just need to, even, to remind yourself that games aren't always about the goal, and sometimes just about the journey and the experiences you can have along the way.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

PSN's On the Way Back

So, the latest firmware for PSN, which will allow you to change your password (And likely that's about all it does) is up now, sorta kinda.  You see, the PSN is being restored incrementally, or mostly as a state-by-state basis, which is being displayed on a map here.  Dunno how often it's going to be updated, nor do I know if that map will cover Canada as well (Sorry Chance!) but I mean, it's on the map, so hopefully it will be!  As of this writing, it's California (which is a given) and the north-east states.

So, what does this mean?  Well, it means we'll get to have online access again!  Not store access just yet, as that's a later phase, and they're first concerned with getting you set up to, y'know, play games online that you've bought rather than selling you games you, in fact, cannot play online with.  (A move many would have accused Sony of doing, assuredly.)  The full-list of services is hopefully going to be back to full capacity by the end of May.  If you go by the list Joystiq gives,

  • Sign-in for PlayStation®Network and Qriocity services, including the resetting of passwords
  • Restoration of online game-play across PS3 and PSP
  • Playback rental video content, if within rental period, of PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service on PS3, PSP and MediaGo
  • Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity, for current subscribers, on PS3 and PC
  • Access to 3rd party services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and MLB.tv
  • 'Friends' category on PS3, including Friends List, Chat Functionality, Trophy Comparison, etc
  • PlayStation Home
Pretty much looks like priorities are straight.  I'm not sure where the store fits in, but I would hope it would be directly after online game-play, and not but a couple bullets later.  But hey, we'll see how it works out.  Me?  I'm just happy that in a few days, hopefully, I'll be able to sign in, sync my trophies, and sign out, assured that I'll never have to get Quizmaster again.  Unless I buy the game again on another system in the future.  Which....I'm that hardcore of a fan.  But we'll just have to wait and see!

Friday, May 13, 2011

And wrap it up with Music - Lately Edition

So, lately, I've been letting my 'Pop side' have a little fun with my music choices.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

After hearing this song a few times, I've just been completely unable to stop wanting to hear it.  So I found it on Youtube and have done the normal binging out on it.  I think it's the catchy beat that's keeping me around.  Whatever it is, I'll be doomed to listening to it for a couple weeks still.  However will I manage.

That said, I do believe I've found tomorrow's anthem.

There's not a lot to say about that song.  It's just really good.  Not too serious, not too deep or anything, just a neat little song that's fun to hear and sing.  Reminiscent of the love affair everyone, including me, had with Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You".  Just Wonderful.

And hey, if I'm going to mention it, might as well link it.

More Chrono Trigger Stuff

 So while we all found out last month that the second best version of Chrono Trigger will be playable on the PS3 and PSP at the tentative date of 'Sometime', which is now, 'Sometime in the future' given the PSN outage, it was only earlier this month that we found out the Top Best version of Chrono Trigger was heading to the Virtual Console.  I hadn't mentioned it before now, but hey, there it is.  And it's release date is less 'Sometime' and more 'Monday, May 16th.'.

That's a lot of links.

Anyway, as for most of my posts about Chrono Trigger, I feel the need to do a little explaining.  I'm not usually much of a gaming snob in the least, so for me to say that one version of a game is great and another is poor because of some of the content in it, is a little out of my way.  But we all have that one game or so that we just can't help but be picky about.  I'm sure for a lot of people, that game would be Final Fantasy 7, for others, possibly Ico (Given that there were a ton of people on the edge of their seats to find out whether the version of Ico included in the Ico/SotC Collection would be the NA or PAL Version.  It's PAL, btw.) or some other game.  We just can't help it.  These games were formative games in relations to our enjoyment or our actually stepping into this hobby.  So we want everything to be perfect for when they're inevitably retouched for the unknowing masses of a later age.

But regardless, the version of Chrono Trigger that will go up on the Wii's Virtual Console will be the classic SNES version, untouched by the new age, and fit for the highest nostalgia-factor for those of us who would know the feeling.  If you've got a Wii, got some space and some Wii Points, and you like good things, well, this is a no-brainer.

So that Blogger outage was a thing.

As my fellow bloggers know, Blogspot was pretty much completely unavailable yesterday, as it was just in read-only mode.  Hence another week where I miss a post.  Although, with what they did, in removing Wednesday's posts to stabilize things (and then republishing them), it looks like I missed two days.  Awesome.  Am disappoint, Blogspot.

So with that happening, I'm going to try my hand at a couple posts tonight (outside of this one) to bring my count up to speed.  Which I kind of hate to just post this and then go onto another post, as that makes this one really short and one-note-y, but, oh well!  I just gotta do what I gotta do.

Giant Robot On - Armored Core 5 officially announced

Is....that a mech...dropkicking another mech?  I....think so!
This October will see another wave of giant robots hitting Japanese consoles for some good old fashioned giant robot action focused around the customization of such (if previous titles are a gauge) and the destruction of others.  At least, that's what I figure.  To be honest, I haven't really played a lot of Armored Core games.  I played one on the PS2 waaaay back and remember having a lot of fun with it, but...not so much in the latest installment.

I'm not really even all that sure what to make of AC4.  Maybe it's a game where you have to be a fairly solid fan of the series to really settle into it easily enough.  Which would certainly explain why my repeated attempts were met with disappointment and confusion.  The missions, at least the starter ones largely rely on very, very short time limits that really limit the amount of actual enjoyment you can gleam from destruction on a large scale that only a giant robot can create.  As such, all my gameplay sessions were short and bittersweet.  Perhaps I was doing it wrong, perhaps it changes later on, I don't know.

So file this one under "I'm keeping an eye on it", as I am wont to do with anything that will allow me to pilot a mech.  Or customize a mech.  Doubly for customizing and piloting a mech.  Just...just let me enjoy it, Armored Core creators.  Make me figure it out this time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AQ and Marvelous Entertainment Merging

So, as it's been reported in Joystiq and Siliconera that AQ Interactive and Marvelous Entertainment, as well as the less-mentioned Liveware, are going to merge together as companies are wont to do.  Now, this might not be a big deal to a lot of people, and in fact, probably isn't.  Certainly not as big as it would be if Ubisoft, EA, or the like were involved.  But you know me, and without trying to act all Game-Snobby on you, as I don't have any hipster glasses, I like some niche franchises and have talked of them at length before.  One such franchise would be Harvest Moon, which is under the Marvelous banner.

But there's a very big reason why I took notice of this, and especially so for why I decided to make a blog post about it.  You see, I may have doled out a bit of misinformation in the past, or at least that's what I'm worried about with what I figured out.  As it turns out, Cavia is part of AQ Interactive, which, before today, I thought Cavia was some subsidiary studio of Squeenix.  And it is not.  AQ Interactive has very little to do with Squeenix, as it turns out, so this makes me happy.

So, as it turns out, Cavia, now directly absorbed into AQ Interactive, along with other developers Artoon and Feelplus, will all be under the new umbrella company of "Marvelous AQL" come October 1st.  Will this mean much in the long run?  Probably not.  To expect another masterpiece like Nier from the company is probably a lofty expectation that can only be met with disappointment, but the plus side is that, hey, these guys are still working, and something just might come out of them.

But on a personal plus, this just means more Harvest Moon games, which is a-okay by me as well!  (YMMV.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Way Too Hot, You Guys.

Like, it is so hot.  You don't even know.  This is the time where I hate not having a fan, because, well, it is very goddamn hot and a fan would help.  I mean, I have a tiny one, but I don't have a plug for it, and it doesn't do a lot anyway.  Like, it's just a little better than those handheld ones.  I need a fan that will make my whole room like, 62 degrees.  Which sounds a lot like an air conditioner, which I don't have!  Of course.

Minecraft storms are 80% cooler than real-life storms.  FACT.
The downside of this heat in Spring is also that Spring can't just be hot.  No, it has to be a constant battle of Hot fronts and Cold Fronts taking their turn flying over head just to make everyone miserable.  Which means storms.  Which means I may be missing a post or two this week.  Just, y'know, throwing that out there as a warning.  If you find yourself going through Kupowered Withdrawals because of this, just, y'know, read my Chrono Trigger DS Posts.  "But Mogs, I already read those!"  Well, read them again.  But no, seriously, I worked pretty hard on those, so if you would read them, it would be appreciated.

This heat is also pretty much interfering with a good bit of my gaming.  I did dig out a PS2 over the weekend and start up Romance of the Three Kingdoms X again, and had some pretty good times with it.  But I'm too paranoid to turn on my PS3 since I don't want it to explode before the PSN comes back up.  Whenever that is.  Because damnit, I got the Trophy for Answering all of the questions in DW7 which rendered all of my other work completely useless.  Of course.  The guy never did get back to me, by the way.  There's the update on that.  Anyways, the point is, I don't want the PS3 to explode because then I can't synch my trophies and then we're going to have what is known as a problem.

But the PS2 doesn't need nearly as much fussing over it, as far as I'm concerned, so this is a good thing.  I might head over to Nobunaga's Ambition here soon on that, or I might power through a few PS2 games I've actually never played.  Or, y'know, play some old favorites.  I'll let everyone know what happens with that.  Or I might jump back into heavy portable gaming.  I have been playing Castlevania:  Dawn of Sorrow again for reasons I myself can't discern, as I don't even really like the game.  And Valkyria Chronicles 2 does remain unbeaten still.

All I know is that I'm still hot, cranky, tired and hungry.  So, this is probably a good place to stop.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Music! Chrono Trigger Edition

In light of me thoroughly ripping Chrono Trigger DS apart, for the fact that there's a bunch of new stuff that doesn't belong there (Which really makes me sound xenophobic when I say it like that, but oh well), I figured there should be something here to reassure everyone that the base game is well enough still that you should pick up whatever version you can if you haven't already.  Just....don't hold the DS version against the original.

Anyways, I figured, what better way to do that than by highlighting one of the game's strengths:  The Music?  So here we are.  This first theme is basically the first song you'll hear in the game, though not the exact version.  It's, unsurprisingly, the main theme of the game.

(Sidenote:  Apparently something is borked with linking to videos in posts, so I had to embed instead.)

Next is a tune that you won't hear until....well, basically the end of the game, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

It really gives a sense of forboding, I think, which given the area you're in (this is the post with as few spoilers as possible) is pretty apt.

This next song is the battle theme you'll hear when you know shit has just gotten real.  And I think that shows well enough in the music itself.

And this final song is my personal favorite tune from the game.  Mostly because Magus is my favorite character from the game.  Yet, this song is what elevated him so high.  So it's some kind of cylindrical situation where everything is awesome.

Honestly, picking music from a game hasn't been so hard since Nier, as both soundtracks are just fantastic from start to finish.  So you'd do yourself well to find a good playlist of them all out there and give a listen for yourself.  But this is a good start, I would imagine.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What Went Wrong - Chrono Trigger DS Part 2

When we last left you, I had just got finished explaining how the new script, new playable areas, and the new story accompanying them all sucked.  And boy did they.  Once again, I'll put up the warning here, that this post, especially this post, will be filled with spoilers from both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, so be warned before you read.

So, to start, I have to explain something so I can explain something else, so I can resume making my point.  Sigh.  The hard part about this is that I'm writing this to people who either A)  Have played both games (or the majority of both, at least), or B)  Don't care about spoilers, so either way, it seems like a lot of unnecessary typing, but oh well.  This is therapeutic, and for all the A people out there, hopefully I can reinforce opinions or even sway them.

Now, I guess the point I'll start at here is just how important Schala becomes to the entire, overall story of both games.  Schala, for all intents and purposes, honestly doesn't matter much if you just play Chrono Trigger.  She's a tragic character, as she basically exists to be the ultimate, tortured martyr.  In the Kingdom of Zeal, when her mother, appropriately named Queen Zeal, starts going crazy because of the influence Lavos has over the world to those with magical ability, Schala is tasked with using her ability to keep a machine going that actually taps into Lavos' energy.  Which...for a kingdom of knowledge and power, isn't really a smart move.  But influence of the all-powerful, blah blah, whatever.

Anyways, Schala's sob story continues as she tries to fight against her mother, sort of, but being a pacifist, or something, kind of ruins that.  So she just gets dragged along as the plan gets more and more dangerous and they decide to move the machine closer to Lavos to get moooooreeee powerrrr.  And eventually when shit gets real, she's the one who ends up taking the fall, leaving one to imagine that she just got eaten by Lavos or died or something.  The end.

But this is where Cross comes in.  I'm not going to beat around the bush here.  The girl pictured above is Kid, the second main character of Chrono Cross, and no matter what she looks like, she's actually a clone of Schala.  She's actually a clone of Schala.  A daughter-clone no less.  You see, when Schala is left with Lavos, she actually gets absorbed by him, rather than just being lunch.  And when Crono and Co. defeated Lavos, instead of, well, dying, he instead turns into the Boss of Chrono Cross, the Time Devourer.  Somehow.

When Serge, the main character of Cross, dies as a child (which is what sets Cross' events into motion by creating an alternate universe in which, well, he doesn't die), the Time Devourer, or more aptly, the part that is Schala, births the child-clone that is Kid six years prior to him dying, as a means to give Serge an ally to stop himself from dying.  I.....yeah.  Let's just move on now.

The point is, Schala's role extends just like that to not only Trigger in ways that actually show up more than not now, but creates that bridge that is supposed to make us all go, "Oh, hey, it is a sequel, totally and completely!"  But, of course, this is all gripes pointed towards Chrono Cross, which, as I have established, has very little to do with Chrono Trigger.  (Snap!)

So where am I going with all this?  I'm going to the all-new boss that leads to the all new ending exclusive to the DS version of Chrono Trigger.  After you clear the Time Vortex areas (meaning you have to sit through that scene with Dalton) a new sparkle will open up at The End of Time, and the old man will warn you to stay the hell away, because this dude ain't messing around.  So when you inevitably go, "Pshaw, you're old, what do you know" and warp there, guess who the new boss is?

The Dream Devourer.  An early form of, wait for it, the Time Devourer.

You know, the thing responsible for Chrono Cross and.....you know what, just forget it.  Obviously, we've established that Lavos just doesn't die.  Since when he did die, he just got better.  Italics.  Anyways.  For what happens here, I'm just going to post, verbatim, the private message I sent to somebody on Penny Arcade when they asked me about what happened in the new ending right after I'd gotten it.

Essentially, to get the new ending, you have to go through all three "Time Vortex"es which are new dungeons that take existing palettes and throw them together in sequences of five. Then there's a couple new areas (one or two 'zones') with Uber-gear, and then a Boss fight of Crono, Marle, or Lucca clone.

Oh, and Dalton. Yeah, you fight Dalton right before the Crono clone in 1000 A.D. When you win, he basically says "I'm so mad, I'm going to go to Porre and raise an army to Destroy Guardia! That'll learn ya!" So he's a cheap plot device, basically.

So after the TVs, you go to the End of Time and Gaspar goes "Oh, hey, so the bucket leads to somewhere new, and it's pretty dangerous." So when you select the bucket, you have the option of going to Time's Eclipse, where you fight the Time Devourer (Dun dun dun) which is a Red Lavos with Schala on top.

When you get there, Magus is there (Future Magus, basically, so he's there even if you have Magus. Or....even if you 'killed' Magus) and goes, "I'm from the future after Lavos was destroyed, and I'm here to face the greater evil, you don't need to get in my way." So, you can follow him and watch as he gets his ass handed to him by the Time Devourer, then you engage in battle.

The Time Devourer is pretty rough, even with uber-gear. But he's entirely beatable.

Once you beat him, Magus comes back and Schala goes "I've become so terrible, I have to send you people away from this place." So the party gets teleported away. And Magus goes, "Schala, I have to save you, wahwahemo" and Schala goes "You can't save me, Janus, you've done all you can do and now you just have to make a new life for yourself, abloo ablooemo" and Magus goes "Noooooooooo emo" and gets teleported away.

Then there's a black screen and Magus goes "So my efforts were useless. Fine then, I'll do something else, whatever. Not like I needed a driving force in my life. Maybe I'll just wait til I DIE" And then he's in a forest and goes, "Oh no, I've lost my memory! But I remember that I was trying to find somebody! Even though I don't know anything at this point, I will search for this person!" and then walks off.

I'll admit, the fact that it was called the Dream Devourer escaped me, as before tonight, I thought it was the Time Devourer.  But....technically, it is, so fuck semantics.  But that is the new ending.  I don't think I can explain it anymore than that.  So I'm just going to leave it at that.

This is why Chrono Trigger DS is not the definitive version of the game.