Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bonus Post - Random News Dump

This has just been one of those days where a lot of actual news and information comes out, but nothing about it is really substantial enough to go on and on about in the way that I do.  So it's one of those days where I contemplate just grabbing said news pieces and popping them together in one big news dump.  And this is also, obviously, one of those days when I actually just go through with it instead of finding something else to write about or taking one of the topics and really elaborating on it which generally leads to me saying things I've said before.  Regardless, there is a bounty of knowledge to share here.

The first and likely biggest news I have is that an International Version of Final Fantasy Type-0 is being made.  Not that I said 'biggest', not 'most positive' or 'most negative' or anything of that sort since, to me from what I've seen, there's nothing really to push it either way.  With any other company, you see International Version or Edition and think "Yessss, here it comes to North America" but, as is the case with Squeenix, there are several well-known examples of this thought being false.  These International versions are almost always stuck in Europe if they manage to get out of Japan at all, so hearing one is being made for Type-0 doesn't instill me with any confidence as, to my knowledge, there's no mention of an overseas release and obviously "International Edition" isn't enough on its own to carry that weight.

I would so very much love to have Final Fantasy Type-0 in my hands in the best way possible; freshly bought from a local retailer without any of the hassle.  While the fact that the PSP is region-free is a relief if this version of Type-0 stays exclusive to Europe (if it makes it there at all), it doesn't help put me at ease completely as I honestly hate the hassle involved with importing something (even if you can argue that there is little to no issue with it) and would rather not do it if I have any choice in the matter.  I'm just going to wait for something more of an official announcement that the game will hit US shores before I really start celebrating, because if it's announced, that is exactly what I'll do.

In other Japan/Europe-centric news, it was announced earlier today that the circle pad add-on for the 3DS is heading to Europe in a bundle with Resident Evil:  Revelations.  Being that the circle pad (Apparently called Circle Pad Pro) was born directly of Capcom's money, I would suggest this is an appropriate delivery and tells of a truth that people likely aren't willing to embrace just yet; the 3DS is going to need a second stick for a good few games and will likely be trapped in the nebulous pattern that was created with the Wii and Motion Plus of "is it or isn't it required" until a Nintendo property finally uses it and firmly instills it, where practice and execution will have taken quite a period of time that leaves you with games you can't play or a second stick you can't use. (or have little use for.)  Either that or you're going to have to look into a bulky add-on being required for your enjoyment lest you just buy a whole new handheld when it comes out with one built-in.

Of course, this bundle (and likely individual sale) is only announced for Europe for now and Capcom USA has said there's no plans for a release of it in America.  Which is either a lie, or the truth and you'll just have to buy both separately here, because an outside of Japan foray for the Circle Pad Pro accessory likely means it'll be all around the world before you know it or want it.  Still, the discomfort of the larger device (or at least the bulkiness of it, it might actually improve control by being larger) is a small price to pay for the precision that two sticks provide and the familiar feeling we've grown attached to, and it's just such a shame that nobody else had the foresight to put two sticks on their device from the sta-hahahahahaha.

The last bit of information I want to put out there is by no means one of the generally 'important' pieces of news and info out there, but it's something I'm personally excited for, so it's going up.  Yakuza:  Dead Souls, which as we know is a thing that is happening got a new trailer put out and while it's not the same as the -awesome- character trailers for Yakuza 4, it is very stylish all the same and likely the first of many as Sega has no problem making advertisements on the internet where you likely aren't going to find them unless you look for them, meaning you are not the target demographic.

Much of Yakuza:  Dead Souls is still a mystery to me and that's just the way I like it, though I will likely crumble and take a look at whatever other trailers come out for the game between now and March.  Let's just hope they're as great as I know they can be.  And that they don't spoil any major parts which I highly doubt they would but it's Sega and fucked if we know what's going through Sega's collective hivemind at any given point.  Speaking of which, I'm going to throw out one last bit of information that came from the Playstation Blog post showing off the trailer to begin with.

This is a classic "Goddamnit, Sega" moment right here because they just won't commit to anything.  One of the comments from "UltimaDestroyer" says "im so excited for this game! cant wait to fight zombies in kamurocho!! how soon will the cut content list be revealed?  ps – pass along word that we want valkyria chronicles 3 dammit!!" which is replied to by Kellie Parker who is apparently the Community Manager for Sega of America.  The reply?
"We’re excited that you’re excited! Also, Valkyria 3 request noted. Stay tuned for more info!"
I am scorn-facing so hard, Sega.  So very hard because I got tired of this song and dance with Yakuza 3 and I really don't want to go through it -again- with Valkyria Chronicles 3.  Hopefully they will be a little more forthcoming with information about it sooner rather than later, because I think a lot of us have tossed away our torch for now, meaning any news could potentially fall on deaf ears besides the ones of those most dedicated who aren't enough, sales-wise.

Character Spotlight: Caim (Drakengard Series) Part 2

Once again, I warn that this post contains Drakengard Spoilers as well as Nier Spoilers (for real this time, I -really- don't think anything was spoiled about Nier in the last post) so if you have not consulted the proper source material for either game, possibly give this post a little skip-over.  With any luck, I'll do an extra post afterwards with general news for anyone who's skipped out on these but wants to read something regardless.  Once again, there is a page break for your convenience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Character Spotlight: Caim (Drakengard Series)

Something to be noted before I start at it, there's going to be Drakengard Spoilers as well as possibly Nier Spoilers in this post, and as I've said in the past, the best way to experience the former is with this Screenshot LP whereas the best way to experience the latter is to buy it and play it.  Fully.  All four endings.  So if you've not done either, maybe skip this post until you have.  I've even inserted a page break for your convenience, much like I did with the spoiler-heavy post about inFamous 2 I made a while back.

Monday, November 28, 2011

'Title Fight' Is a Rumor, Sony Smash Bros. and Awesome

You may remember the above commercial that came out a while ago, but I've prefaced this post with it again just so you can take a look at it again/if you haven't.  Go on, you're doing yourself a favor because it's just so awesome -and- it's topical.  How is it topical, you might ask?  Well, by now you've obviously read the title and what with the rumors that that commercial meant more than it might seem, so with that in mind, just consider the idea that that commercial is just a sneak peak into what could be.  A cross-franchise fighter/brawler to the tune of a Super Smash Bros. and/or Dissidia-type game starring some of Playstation's better known characters (first party or not).

I'm not sure if 'Title Fight' is just a placeholder name or what, but there's a good smattering of information about it already, thanks to some ill-thought (or expertly-leaked?) tweets from a developer over at SuperBot Entertainment better known for...actually, I'm not sure what SuperBot Entertainment's known for, if anything.  This might just be the 'proving grounds' title for the Sony Exclusive developer which is obviously something to be wary about but, with any luck, they'll have the guiding hands of Naughty Dog and/or any other Sony-centric developer to help out as this is going to be a big thing assuredly, if only on scope alone.  But PS3 Exclusives have a (mostly good) reputation to work under, so the bar is quite high, assuredly, and these crossovers have the potential for greatness as the past has shown us.

Obviously, it's not going to be an easy test; by listing some of the main Sony characters alone, you'll start to see the first wrinkle in the whole of it.  Nathan Drake, Kratos, Sackboy, Cole MacGrath, Sweet Tooth, Sly Cooper, Ratchet And/or Clank, Jak and/or Daxter, Gabe Logan, Crash Bandicoot, they all come in all shapes and sizes and art styles which will take some doing to integrate alongside each other properly and that's just off the top of my head.  There's obviously plenty of other characters that could be considered from third party (but at least mostly Sony Loyal franchises) like Solid Snake, Kazuma from Yakuza, anybody from Valkyria Chronicles and the like, which is one of the big points people are arguing in that there simply aren't enough characters to choose from which I hope I've pointed out as a downright silly notion.  I could go on, I'm sure, and it's not even a guarantee that the game would only pull one character from a game (although, -everything- at this point is kind of a rumor yet) which would mean an even more impressive roster.

If it's not obvious already I am a man who enjoys a good crossover as much as the next guy (if not more) so the possibility of this has me drooling a bit at the scope, possibilities and implications of it.  To be honest, I'd be a little miffed if there was only a fighting game that came from this (as opposed to something more of a mish-mash of styles ala Sonic Generations) but I'd accept it nonetheless as I'm sure that, even if it doesn't live up to my hopes of being big, it'll be more than Smash Bros./Capcom vs. (franchise) at the very least (putting it at Dissidia levels) which is just fantastic enough.  I can only imagine how this all could be written up; perhaps something a little less 'intricate' (like the bar scene where it's just assumed the characters hang out when you, the player, aren't using them) or the obvious "Greater Evil" scenario, or even something else I can't quite put together here.  Whatever it is, I would hope every characters' respective writer has some input on 'their' character, of course. 

I kind of wish I had more information here to extrapolate a little, but that's really about all there is to it at the moment.  There is almost certainly a Sony Cross-Franchise game in development, it may or may not be called "Title Fight" which would indicate a fighting game, and it has every opportunity to be awesome.  Let's just hope the guys over at SuperBot Entertainment have it in them to produce something we've come to expect as it would be a shame to let something this 'big' to fall flat.  I expect that, being a Sony-owned studio, they'll have access to other developers 'in-the-know' that can make sure this whatever it is gets polished, so hopefully when something else comes out about this, we'll get to know one way or another.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to unwind from the thought of Kazuma Kiryu appearing in a game alongside Nathan Drake, Kratos and Cole MacGrath.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vita Accessories Priced?

Update!:  It's worth mentioning that the actual prices have been announced and are less than the ones listed below almost universally.

So, The Examiner just put out the fact that GameStop's website has stealthily priced quite a bit of the Playstation Vita's accessories for everyone to check out and/or flip out over.  Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of the latter going on because "argh proprietary arrrgh" which only seems to come out on a Sony product or maybe I'm just a little hypersensitive to it.  Just saying they're not the only ones who go with proprietary formats is all, and there's actually (at least somewhat of) a reason here in the simple case that proprietary formats are at least an attempt at keeping your device safe.  With the way the PSP went, it's no surprise that Sony's going this way and of course everyone will whinge about it anyway.

Regardless, if you want to check out the GameStop prices you can go here where I think I pretty much have them isolated (albeit with a few games and the two systems) or you can just read to the end of this sentence and then check out the list I will shamelessly copy/paste.

  • 4GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card - $29.99 (24.99?)
  • 8GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card - $44.99 (39.99?)
  • 16GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card - $69.99  
  • 32GB PlayStation Vita Memory Card - $119.99  
  • PlayStation Vita AC Adaptor - $19.99  
  • PS VITA Armor GameCase - $7.99  
  • PS VITA ArmorShell - $12.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Car Adaptor - $17.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Card Case - $9.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Carrying Case - $19.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Cradle - $19.99  
  • PS VITA Crystal Custom Case - $19.99  
  • PlayStation Vita In-ear Headset - $19.99  
  • PS VITA Nerf Armor - $17.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Portable Charge - $49.99
  • PlayStation Vita Protective Film (Two Pack) - $14.99
  • PS VITA Pull N Go Folio - $29.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Starter Kit - $29.99  
  • PS Vita Starter Kit - $24.99  
  • PS Vita Trigger Grip - $17.99  
  • PlayStation Vita Travel Pouch - $19.99  
  • PlayStation Vita USB Cable - $14.99
So, as you can see the Memory sticks are front and center here and as you may know, whether a Vita game will use a stick or the cart itself for saving is a bit up to every game in question.  (Unless, assumedly you just get the game digitally in the first place) so it is very likely that you can get a game with the save-on-cart feature and not even worry about the stick right off.  Of course, I'm looking for a stick to grab on some of my PSP games at the very least and while I was originally thinking about just grabbing a 4 Gig (as I've mentioned in the past how I'm surprised at what a 4 gig can really hold), the 8 gig is tempting me on those prices alone.  $45 for 8 gigs isn't the most attractive proposition, of course, but just taking what's there, I could get 4 for $30 right off and need another 4 gig later or save half of that and just get an 8 right upfront.  It'll probably last me a while, regardless.

The only thing I can really pick out here that bothers me a bit is the Portable Charge, which was something I've talked on in the past and was really interested in grabbing.  I still probably will someday, but $50 is a little steep unless the extra battery life is really noticeable (more than the base battery is what I'm looking for here) which is likely something we won't know about until it's closer.  Regardless, I doubt these prices are surprising anyone and, in the end, it's really not that big of a deal but everyone will make it out to be one.  Then turn around and buy a 4 gig 360 only to later buy a hard drive for it that'll cost them more than if they'd just bought the system with an actual hard drive in it and keep on keeping on.  Which is really what's bothering me here, clearly.  I'm just tired of seeing all these promotions and sales for the 4 gig model because what the hell can you do with 4 gigs on a console?  A console that practically begs you to install your games on it?

Regardless, that's another rant for another day.  The main draw here is the accessories and their pricing, which is above and likely concrete.  Always take this stuff with a grain of salt, of course, as Gamestop has been known to mis-price things on their website before when there's a long time between release and the product itself, but these are about in-line with what anyone could expect, so there's really no reason to go against them at the moment.  And hey, at least you know before Christmas, so you can start prodding people into gift card purchases to the retailer of your choice, yeah?  I know it's what I'm doing.

Update!:  It should be noted that the prices of the smaller Vita Memory sticks might be lower than GameStop lists and as we all know, none of these prices have been confirmed by Sony yet.  Regardless, it's not hard to imagine these prices (though the 'corrections' are a mild bit more palatable) will be correct.  We'll just have to see, though!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Second Thoughts - 3DS

Now, I know I said I really, really wanted this 3DS, even going so far as to say I would "gladly pay full asking price" to get it and, well, that opportunity materialized in what I don't think is necessarily a limited time offer, which has brought me, obviously, to the point of 'put up or shut up'.  Unfortunately, I have to do the latter option here in the form of a lengthy post here (which is sort of funny) quite simply because A.) I really didn't expect it to come to America and B.) I just don't have the money.  I've pretty much got everything set aside for Christmas shopping and, whatever else will likely go towards my Vita purchase and assorted things involved with that come February.  I'll need a memory stick and Uncharted:  Golden Abyss at the very least, of course, which means I'll have to walk into the store with quite more than just the $200 pricetag (since I pre-ordered for $50.) which means that is $200 less I have to go spending on a 3DS, no matter how pretty t is.

And it is pretty, of course.  It is very pretty as I've said before and, upon thinking about it, it'll be pretty easily compatible with the Slide-Pad add-on since it, too, is black, though I imagine there might be conflicting finishes.  Basically what I'm saying is that it would be too bad to get this 3DS with plans for the future, even in the face of the obvious next 3DS with better battery and two-sticks native to the device, and if I could, I'd get right on that.  Of course, in time, if I find spare money kicking around (doubtful) and don't have anything else to buy (also doubtful) and I find one of these hanging around (seriously, this is nil chance) I do promise to snap it the hell up.  If just so I have something to play Rune Factory 4 on.

This kind of 'eventuality' feeling that I have with the 3DS is exactly why I'm pretty comfortable with getting around to the system since it's something that I don't have to jump on.  I'll get one eventually, as many of us will (which is why I think it's silly for all this knee-jerk from months passed) as there's simply not a reason against it.  It's a Nintendo handheld, it's going to have great 3rd Party games (specifically from people carrying on DS franchises at the very least, but there will be more) and will be, you know, the DS if just a little different because there's a 3 in front of it.  I can't honestly figure anyone with a DS out there is going "I'm never getting a 3DS", but rather "I'm waiting on the library of the 3DS to grow/second revision of the 3DS to come out before I buy one", which I imagine is the category I'm in.

At the same time, I am kind of looking forward to getting my 3DS now, if not even for the thought of the games, but just to see what the device is going to be like.  I'm pretty much in the complete dark on that, on purpose, so when people start talking about "Street Pass" and this and that with regards to the 3DS I just sort of shrug and tune out.  I already don't know what it means and finding out now won't do me a bit of good; especially if it stays in tradition with a lot of other Nintendo offerings and is on series of time limits that will have long-passed by the time I get one.  I only say this, of course, since I've heard tell of people getting a few things, additions and the like from StreetPass, which instantly puts my mind into that cynical area.  I might be wrong, of course!  But if I am, I'll find out whenever I get around to owning one of these.

Friday, November 25, 2011

KinecTV? Buh?

So I was going to do a post here about going back to Playstation Home complete with pictures of my adventures since it's switched to the remodled layout and is thus, different, but in lieu of sitting there and watching every area tick away in downloading, I decided to switch between TV and HDMI settings to have a little fun with Storage Wars all day.  Unfortunately, switching back one time lead to some.....pretty drastic graphic distortions which freaked me right the fuck out and sent me turning off the device.  After a minute of cool-down, I turned it back on to see that the familiar sight of the Sega Room Dynamic Theme behind the Xross Media Bar, completely untouched by aforementioned distortions.  I immediately turned it back off, of course, and would be willing to lay the blame completely on Home itself, rather than my PS3, but I'm not sure.  You'll find out, I can assure you that.

But, regardless, without being able to do that, I've had to scramble to find something else post-worthy and this was just weird enough of a proposition for me to throw in on.  It seems if Joystiq (and, by proxy 'The Daily') are to be trusted, Microsoft is planning on integrating Kinect into Televisions in the near-future which by itself is not all that outlandish.  However, the fact that Sony is brought up as one of the TV Manufacturers is enough to bring it into the realm of mention.  Of course, this wouldn't be Sony as in their rivals in the game market Sony, but Sony the TV makers Sony.  (Sony.)  And it's only mention-worthy because you would think that Sony already has plans to try and integrate Move into their new TVs (or at least whatever the motion capable device that launches with the PS4 will be) and thus this wouldn't happen.

However, if this is true, which it by no means is right at this moment, you have to wonder just what this means for PS4.  It would be ridiculous to suggest that SCE (used as a general term for all of the Entertainment division) would really let this deal go through without a fight and then A.) not use the Kinect Cameras (which would mean dropping move entirely or retooling it, making all the existing wands and such likely obsolete) B.) Launch the PS4 with Move (or the 'next step up') that requires yet another external camera, since I don't see Kinect+ or whatever you want to call it (as there's a chance it'll use the improved Kinect for Windows model or something even more improved than that) being open enough for both Kinect and Move functionality.

Basically, what I'm getting at is that I've never really seen a situation like this, where all the cross-breeding that parent companies do with their child companies rivals has created such a quandary.  Sony computers run Windows which is fine enough and expected even, mostly because Sony doesn't have their own OS made up to try and step into the OS market (which would be a fool's move, honestly.) which is the most common example you'll find when the cross-breeding I mentioned is brought up.  So whatever comes of it will be an interesting case to refer back to after it's done and over with.  I really don't know what the "best case scenario" is here, as, with several improvements, Kinect is likely the motion control device you want, but without those, the Move is still the most precise one out there, s'far as I know.  I think there's a place for both of them, and I doubt there's going to be a world where that place is "Co-existence".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving! Thanks Time!

Depending on where you sit, actually celebrating Thanksgiving by talking about what we're thankful for is either cliché or appropriate and, as you might've guessed, this year I'm falling in the latter camp.  I usually don't really spend a lot of time thinking about being 'thankful' for a lot of things, which might just be the last year clouding my thoughts, but after last year's Thanksgiving...I'm realizing that this year was better, even only just so, so it sort of put things into a new light.  Regardless, I'm intending to be properly nerdy here as well, since the first thing I'm going to mention here is all the game-related things I'm thankful for.

First and foremost, I'm thankful that the PS3 I have has managed to not crap out and die on me yet (though I am in a constant state of expecting it to do so, as you may know) since it's meant that I've had quite a lot of enjoyable gaming going on this year.  Yakuza, Dynasty Warriors, LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted, these are all series that I've been able to enjoy thanks to having a working PS3, which in turn means that I have had a lot of different places to go this year when I just needed to do so.  Not saying like an 'escape', but sometimes just playing something and really getting immersed in that other universe, helps, I'm sure you can understand.

By that measure, I'm also thankful to the studios that have brought us these delightful games since obviously without them, we wouldn't have gotten them.  What is now Yakuza Studios, W-Omega Force, Media Molecule, Naughty Dog and more have put a lot of their own time and effort into producing something that we can proudly call our hobby and I think sometimes that it's more their efforts and passions, rather than simple design or presentation, that can push a game from "good" to "Great" and hopefully more and more people are noticing these nowadays.  It's only because these people go so far that we get these experiences that really can't be represented anywhere else, in any other form of media and I think that oftentimes gets lost in the "It's just video games" mentality, so pointing it out sometimes is a little nice I think.

Switching gears though, I think what I'm really thankful for most of all are, obviously, my friends.  It's been a rough year, as I've alluded to a few times (but don't plan on elaborating on) so I've had quite a few occasions where I just needed to lean on friends like I've never had to before and the ones I've kept around have stepped up and done that everytime I needed it which I will likely be eternally grateful for.  This kind of thing is probably the only really challenge I have in terms of writing something out as, well, I don't really write about people that often, if you've noticed, and I think we're all just sort of 'wired' to not really try and put our thoughts about people out there in simple words, since they're always harder to describe than just that.  Still, I should try.

Haplo's a good friend of mine from down under who's been around forever when I really think of it, even if he ends up being off and away for long periods at a time.  Still, everytime he pops back up he's a joy to be around and talk with even if most nights we don't hold out real conversations.  He's been one of the biggest supporters of mine for this blog which has really helped, as if I didn't have him around to bounce ideas/paranoias off of, I don't know how well it would've fared by now.  I like to think it would be, y'know, mostly the same, but credit where credit's due, he's made it a ton easier.  And even outside of anything to do with the blog, he's just fun to talk to if just for the times where we basically talk about something the other is guaranteed to know nothing about, for the fun of explaining it.

Kaseius has been a stalwart bud of mine for quite a while and it really feels like just yesterday when we got to know one another, but in truth it's been at little over two years if I'm not mistaken (I got to know him through his Let's Play of Blood Will Tell which started in February of 2009, and I just happened to start watching fairly close to when it started).  Since then, we've run the gambit of ups and personal downs on both ends (we've never been at odds thankfully), and I like to think I've helped him through his and I know he's done a lot for mine.  Plus, there's something to be said for someone who can make just any game fun and/or funny to play, as several of his LPs will show that he is more than capable of doing.  There's something else to be said for him because without him I likely wouldn't have met...

Sakura.  There's not a lot I can say here that I haven't already told her several times over, but Saki-Chan has been really really important to me even though we haven't known each other too terribly long.  It's hard to explain really, but sometimes you just meet somebody and everything just clicks and you know you and that person are going to go far, which I obviously said because it really feels like that's the situation with her and I.  From our humble beginnings at just sort of bonding over similar interests (history, mostly) to eventually just talking like every night and having some of the most fun conversations I've had in recent years, getting to know her has just been a pleasure unlike anything else.  She's been fantastically reliable for me in the last few months which is exactly what I've needed and there's no getting around it.

There's really no other way to say it other than saying, simply, that Saki-Chan has made me happy, which is impossible to quantify or express the real true extent of that or just how much it means to me, but I'll leave that to your imaginations I suppose.  I'm hopeful that it's possible to understand that I don't mean a laugh here, a pleasant conversation there, but just that feeling, even just for a moment, where you're just unable to be bothered by anything, even the most pressing of life's concerns is what I mean here.  So it's for that, if nothing else, that I'm really glad to sit here and point out to express my thanks for this year.

Hopefully you all have something similar that you can think of, even if you're not in the states and thus don't have a 'day of thanks', because it truly is special.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More KOEI Chat

Obviously, with Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends being the only thing I'm playing lately I'm thinking a lot about it and the other KOEI games out there that I just can't wait to get.  Like Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 which I will hopefully be getting for Christmas and Dynasty Warriors NEXT for the Playstation Vita which I will definitely be getting for sure.  And of course, there's the above-pictured Warriors Orochi 3 that I have already talked about but I still want a whole lot.  And of course there's the never-coming-to-America Samurai Warriors 3Z along with Warriors Orochi Z that I can always pine for vainly on top of the hopes of ever playing a Romance of the Three Kingdoms game ever again, especially on a handheld where it would be a perfect friggin' fit.  Basically, what I'm saying is that I really, really enjoy the KOEI games that come out, no matter how often and how varied (which they really are, despite what reviewers tell you.) they are.

Warriors Orochi 3 is the thing that's highest on my list, however, as more and more reasons keep getting added to it as enticement for buying.  Even more cameo characters have been announced to join Ryu Hayabusa, Jeanne D'Arc and Achilles to the tune of Ayane from the Dead or Alive series (also from Ninja Gaiden, and she's no real stranger to DW games after being present in Strikeforce) and Nemea from Trinity:  Souls of Zill O'll.  Much like the previous three mentioned, they will have stages crafted specifically around the games from which they hail, so their inclusion is more than a token effort and it lends credence to the idea that even -more- could be on the way, as there still are franchises under the Tecmo-KOEI umbrella as well as their friends over at Bandai-Namco that are as of yet untapped.  Is it too much to hope for Ken from Fist of the North Star to find his way into Orochi's realm?  I think not.

Moving on, I am really looking forward to Dynasty Warriors NEXT as I said before for quite a few reasons.  Sure, it's looking like it's basically Dynasty Warriors 7 in your pocket which is fine enough right there, but there's quite a few improvements going on with it from what I can see.  For starters, every character that is in the roster from the latest release, Xtreme Legends, will be in NEXT, meaning you have the full list right at the start without having to wait for some sort of expansion pack game or anything else of the sort.  The next reason would be that some characters might just be 'decloned' or, in better terms, given new weapons so that they're not just randomly carrying around the same weapon as someone completely different from them.  No longer will Cao Ren and Dong Zhuo be walking around with the same flail, nor will Pang De and Zhang Liao thankfully.

But really, the top reason here is the return of CAW or Create a Warrior for those not in-the-know.  Create a Warrior is exactly what it sounds like, in that you have a character editor and can make your very own Chinese Warrior to run about the battlefield wielding whatever you choose and doing whatever you wish.  Or, just make a Time Traveler who dresses up like the rest of the people back then to fit in.  It more or less just depends on what you name your character and whatever you hope to have going through your head while playing your character out.  For instance, "Dian Shan" would likely find himself comfortable back then whereas, er, someone named "Alexander" might....not.  Just saying, it all kind of depends on what you want out of the experience; if you just want to make a dude to join the roster of 65 other characters and kick ass alongside them and don't care much beyond that?  More power to you.

Still, with KOEI games, you more or less have to take what you get which is a shame as there really is way more material out there that would be fantastic if we could get our hands on them.  The entire Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunaga's Ambition series has basically been scrapped outside of Japan and while I understand it, I don't like it as I have lamented in the past, because that breed of game just...doesn't see enough usage.  I have heard whispers of Romance of the Three Kingdoms 12 (which is PC-Only for now) being compatible with some sort of touch screen support which gives me hope for a Vita release, but only just so, especially because Romance of the Three Kingdoms 12 puts you directly into the Rulers shoes rather than letting you decide just what you want to do.  Still, if it would come out, I'd buy it if just to encourage them to do better.  Also because it might be enjoyable still.  But mostly the 'do better next time' reason.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gravity Rush is Looking Legitimately Good

Now, I know it's kind of a weird thing to preface something with "Legitimately Good", but when we're talking about a Launch title for anything, quality does always have to be an issue that is scrutinized by weighing it against the newness of the device.  Obviously the tech is new and as such, there is very little to suggest that any developer has discovered little ways to use the wizardry that one often finds later on in a console/handheld to make the quality that much higher than before tricks were known, so you more or less have to be a little forgiving in certain areas.  Take Shinobido 2 for example; by all means from what we've seen it will not be a pretty game by any means, but it's not bad for a first effort with a device that hasn't been tinkered with yet.

My point is, more or less, that after looking at the above trailer and a few other resources of information for the game, I'm not sure that Gravity Rush will need to really be judged on this curve as it looks just fantastic.  The art style/direction has a lot to do with this, obviously, but it just doesn't look like it's really hampered in appearance or mechanics because of new tech, and really just instills a good feeling in looking at it since, inevitably, Vita games yet to come will likely eclipse it in 'quality' simply because everyone will know how to work with the device by then.  While I'm not sure if there'll be a such thing as an increase in quality at Uncharted 1 to Uncharted 2 levels, I can hope, which well....when it starts this good, is quite a thing.

I don't really know a whole lot about Gravity Rush as a game, other than the story seems like it'll take place over some cutscenes and Comic Book style events (as seen in the video) which is plenty fine by me, and the main 'gimmick' of the game is, of course, nullifying gravity.  I imagine this will be used in puzzle situations as well as fighting, and can only hope that we actually -get- a city as we see in the trailers and previews and not just...chunks of areas, which I suspect is a possibility.  If technical limitations come into play at all, I imagine that's where it'll happen which wouldn't be -terrible-, but a city plus gravity manipulation is just so enticing to think of.

From what I've seen, the story of the game seems a little underthought on the surface, but that could just be because it's a story of discovery and as such, is meant to be as such.  Kat(t?) the main character, awakes at the start of the game with amnesia, gravity powers, and a whole mess of enemies, and during the story, I assume she will regain some of her memories to at least figure out why she's being chased and/or hunted.  Again, not the shining example of an exemplary story on its surface, but it might open up into something quite enjoyable, so it's hard to judge on that.  Still, I'm hopeful, as I have no reason to be outwardly negative on it since I am a little enamored with the game I believe.

I'm really interested in getting my hands on it if just to see how they handle the gravity manipulation with the fighting system, as it -looks- like you can use it to rush (hey, wait....) at your enemies to start the fight which is really, really cool.  Seems like it could make for some really fast paced combat, so long as it's not too basic.  I wouldn't mind either way, obviously, but I'd hate to see the game get panned for what too many consider 'unrefined' fighting.  Not all systems have to be Arkham copies after all; just because many like to copycat CoD shooting, that doesn't make it the right move, as an example.  So long as it does something and does it well, that's all we can hope for.  And it's what I am, indeed, hoping for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Legend Mode and Other Xtreme Legends Issues

I should preface this post with the fact that I really like Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends as it is, essentially, more Dynasty Warriors 7 which is as much of a good thing as it can be.  I realize upon thinking it out that I'm more or less going to tear into everything that is 7XL and throw down all the tatters here as examples of my problems with the game, which will leave a negative opinion hanging over it all.  So I really want it known that, despite the bitching I'm about to do, I enjoy the game and don't regret my purchase of it.  This is really vital to spend a little bit of time talking on, as you might guess from the amount of time I spent talking on it.

With that out of the way, I have to start with Legend Mode which is basically the entire draw of the game.  The new characters are good, the new weapons are fantastic, the remix option assuredly breathes a whole new realm of life into the base game and Challenge mode....exists, but Legend Mode is where the bulk of the effort went and it shows.  Basically, in Legend Mode, you pick your Ruler and your Adjutant (both of which don't matter much at all, except you play as the ruler which can be changed freely to no negative impact) and are given a 'desolate' city to reinvigorate by going out and killing men by the thousands in the missions tailor-made (or not, I'll explain in a bit) for the mode.  I'm not even going to pretend that this is deep in any fashion and it's clearly another attempt at a hub city ala Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce, yet somehow more shallow.

Once you unlock a utility (blacksmith, weapon dealer, strategist, etc.) they remain forever and you can use their services to your hearts content.  The Weapon Dealer will, unsurprisingly, sell you weapons (of which there are six new categories I believe), the Blacksmith functions exactly like it does in the base game; you give it a weapon and money and he'll slowly unlock the seal on your weapon.  I have no use for this as I loaded my Dynasty Warriors 7 save into the game which has the added benefit of carrying over everything I unlocked like seals, which was, of course, everything since I platinum'd the game.  The Merchant will scour one of the handful of provinces of the land and come back with treasure and/or weapons according to some random formula that only it knows and the Strategist will sell you manuals to increase your stats.  Which is very, very useful for obvious reasons.

There is, by that merit, absolutely nothing to do in the city as it serves as only a hub from which you upgrade your character, get more money/weapons and go into missions.  There's a token effort of development, in that the city can have a 'mood' (which is either Desolate, Orderly, Carefree or Friendly) which has some sort of effect on the city (carefree being the most useful as all prices are halved because nobody cares, get it) and it changes between missions.  Well, mostly between Orderly and Carefree, with Friendly only coming up after your Adjutant has been your Adjutant for some length of time that I couldn't discern.  When it reaches friendly, you talk to them, get an item (manual of some stat booster) and then go about your way.  Or, if you're me, you immediately replace them, as getting them to friendly gives you their 'devotion line' which gives you access to their Legend Mode voice gallery.  There's a trophy for hearing everyone's devotion lines, of course.  Well, a few.  One for women, one for men, and then one for everyone, if I'm not mistaken.

Legend Mode is a disappointment in a very minor way as I was having flashbacks to Dynasty Warriors 4's take on roughly the same concept, in that every character had one battle tailor-made for them and their exploits, whereas that was sort of the case here, but not for every character and some of the missions were just....ridiculous.  The manual claims that if you play the stage as the Recommended Warrior, you'll get more scenes and such, but from my experience, you get the same amount of scenes no matter who you are, unfortunately.  I might be wrong, or it might be a consequence of seeing the 'ending' of the game (brought about when the Emperor comes to stay in your town for being so awesome or something) which is just the credits.  Or it might be a clever ruse to get you to play as characters you might not have played in the base game, or rather just developing some of the underdeveloped characters (ones that didn't feature heavily into their respective story) which is rather welcome.

Unfortunately, I kind of just roll my eyes when one stage is playing as Xiao Qiao (wife of Zhou Yu, historically wasn't a warrior at all, of course) during Chi Bi (or Red Cliffs as you might know it by) escorting Zhuge Liang to the altar where he shifts the direction of the winds and then protecting him as he's doing it.  That sort of level is a step above inane which is beyond frustrating, but there are levels that really make up for it.  Whether it's because it's more 'accurate' than the norm or what, the Battle of Jieting with Yue Ying as a recommended character is rather nice as it details the infamous battle where Zhuge Liang's student, Ma Su made such a big blunder that he was executed in shame for it.

Not to get off on a history tangent, but, basically during the Northern Campaigns of Zhuge Liang towards the latter half of the war, Shu was in a constant state of trying to take the northwest area of China from Wei and failing miserably at it.  They managed to get the really important location of Jieting which Zhuge Liang entrusted the defense of to his student, Ma Su.  Ma Su had the bright idea to make camp atop the mountain (likely for the best vantage point possible) despite being told it was an incredibly bad idea by his underlings, as it left them unable to properly defend their water sources.  This is, of course, always reason enough to not do something, but Ma Su didn't listen and, sure enough, Wei cut off their water supply to force them off.  It was a decisive victory for Wei and Shu lost many, many troops in it, which was the direct reason for Ma Su's execution.  Of course, there are conflicting reports saying that he might've been killed while imprisoned awaiting execution, he might've simply escaped, or perhaps was just held indefinitely, but whatever the case, it was the last thing of note that Ma Su did.

Right, anyway, a really positive addition to the Legend Mode roster of stages (which play out from left to right in rising Star Rankings, starting at one, ending in 10) is the inclusion of some Classic Dynasty Warriors stages recreated with DW7 assets.  These stages all have whatever modes they offered in the game they came from (Meaning some battles like The Battle/Siege of Fan Castle have three different versions) and are enough of a blend of past and present to offer nostalgia with out sacrificing much, if anything, in enjoyment.  There's not quite enough of them, but there's more as DLC for DW7 (specifically, they won't work with basic DW7XL as they require Conquest mode to be played) that it was surely done that way on purpose; if you want that nostalgia you gotta pay for it.

Also of interest is the addition of personal Titles that every character earns (up to 10, I believe) by performing certain tasks under certain difficulty restrictions.  These range from "Simple" to "Goddamn Nigh-Impossible" depending on whether or not other Titles offer bonuses appropriate to assist with getting the higher titles.  For instance, Lu Bu's top title is earned by defeating 1000 foes on a Ten Star ranked level on Nightmare difficulty (which is new to XL, is higher than Chaos which is higher than Hard) without using a musou attack and while keeping his health above 70% full.  On its own, this is patently impossible, let's not mince words on that.  Everything in Nightmare, even with the max defense possible, hits like a goddamn truck and there's not one damn thing you can do about it.  However, the bonus of one of Lu Bu's other Titles is that attacks made with a speed weapon transfer health from the target to the player.  This, coupled with the strongest Speed weapon I have (Base attack of 56 whereas the best Halberd I have so far has a base attack of 83) and good seal distribution makes it possible, though difficult.  Especially with the no musou restriction as musou attacks are really your lifeblood in Nightmare mode.

Once you really see all that Legend Mode has to offer you do, unfortunately, get a sense of "That's it?", which is disappointing, however there is still every single level of Conquest mode available to you in a technical sense as well.  But the good missions make up for it, and it's a fun little toy to play around with on the set that is Dynasty Warriors 7, but that's all it really is is a new toy; an addition.  Collecting all the new weapons put in the game (Some by beating stages on Chaos and under certain circumstances like "Swiftly complete the objective" or "Beat X, Y, and Z Officers personally", some by, likely doing the same or similar on Nightmare mode.) is a fun distraction and basically the only one you have full control over.  I'm sure I could play a game of "This is how I would make it better", but I won't bother.  Xtreme Legends is almost always the one I find little reason to play (excluding Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends as basically everything Samurai Warriors 2 was fantastic), whereas Empires is always the game that gets you to play more and more.  And there likely will be a Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires and, provided I have the opportunity, I will buy the hell out of that, too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Talk About Minecraft Again - Release Edition

Minecraft, the indie darling that has been on many many minds this year, has finally been released officially, during Minecon; the convention specifically about all things Minecraft hence the name.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing, of course and neither is really an objective thing as it all depends on where you are and what side of the fence you're on here.  The main bad thing would be that, for those of us who didn't jump on buying it earlier (for various reasons), the price has now been raised to a hefty $26.95 which by all means still isn't bad but considering that anyone could've gotten the Alpha build oh so long ago for much less than that and been able to update it as it came out, it's just the bargain person in me screaming that I blew it for not magically having a computer that could play it and a way to buy a code.

Still, it's one of the few big bad things that the game has, though I imagine the other complaint several will have is, surprisingly, the content.  It's hard to say as someone who has watched the game start from those humble beginnings whether or not there's 'enough' game to Minecraft to actually be considered release-worthy, given that in essence, not a whole lot has been added.  By that, I mean a lot has been added, but it's sort of....well, it's a step above cosmetic.  The game has always been about digging, mining, exploring and building and remains so, basically, with the difference now being that there's more for you to find and a few other things to do.  Basically take a Bethesda game, your Oblivions, Skyrims, etc. and strip out the main story and quests.  What you're left with is a wide world to explore, things to find, monsters to slay, and a personal story to develop; that is Minecraft in a nutshell.

Some would argue that's enough, as I would, but I can understand if someone would suggest that there needs to be more.  And luckily enough, the fact that the game has been released means frankly little to Mojang Productions, as they're devoted to supporting the game post-release to add in whatever they please....much like they did during Alpha and Beta.  Which would also lend a little more ammo to anyone wondering whether or not Minecraft is a 'game' or at least a 'done game', given that Mojang simply sees Release as another 'phase' which questions whether or not they feel there's -enough-.  Granted, most everything essential will likely be added to the game freely, rather than as paid DLC, so finished or not, there likely won't be much issue with what comes now.

What -is- next is another point of interest as, aside from continued support of the PC version of Minecraft, there still is the XBLA version of Minecraft far off on the horizon.  As far as I know, the release window is "sometime 2012" and that's about all that's really known about it.  Content is something else to talk about for that version as they won't really be able to just drop whatever they want into it willy-nilly unless they work out a deal with Microsoft (unlikely) or they work around some sort of "teh internetz" style magic (little more likely, but not much) to work within the limits of Microsoft's "No Free DLC" constraints.

As much as I hate to let my fanboy flag fly, I -really- think going with XBLA was a bad move for Mojang since, well, as mentioned XBLA isn't that open for post-production support which they seem to really be a fan of, whereas it would likely fly on PS3/Vita.  And unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Notch has gone out and said that the XBLA version will be the only console version.  Could be a lie, could be a short-sighted statement, but either way I'm officially not getting my hopes up.  I guess if Minecraft Pocket gets Playstation Suite certified, I can play it on the Vita without getting an Xperia Play, but it just won't be the same since Minecraft Pocket  Not as good.

Oh well.  One day, I'll have a computer that can run it well and I'll be able to jump in and experience all that's existing currently, plus whatever else they've added by that point.  Hopefully the NPC quests will be in by then (as there's (ugly as sin) NPCs, but nothing to do with them yet) as well as a few more nuances to The Nether (little castles are cool, but...) and just the world itself (higher level randomly generated cities?) as, yes, half the fun of the game is crafting whatever you wish and on the top of that list would likely be the pretense of civilization, but the other half is the exploration and Random little villages, abandoned mines, caves and strongholds (underground expanded dungeons) aren't quite enough.

Really, it's just a weird feeling to think of Minecraft as a finished product as we've been taught (by the game and the nature of it) that it is, in fact, not finished and you can always look forward to more.  Calling it released tends to make you think that you're not able to look forward to more, though you actually are able to do so and are encouraged to.  So it's just one of those strange conflicting things that you can't really put a finger on.  Regardless, it's a game, it's growing and it's going to be around for quite a while, so all there is to it now is to enjoy it (if you can) or see what happens next with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

3DS Finally Joining Us In 2011

If you were wondering just how specific the term "Add-On Content" was when the November firmware update for the 3DS was detailed, then everyone's favorite smug guy/President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime has you covered.  A recent interview has him putting it out there that yes, Add-On Content does indeed mean DLC (that will be paid DLC 99% of the time, assuredly, even though Nintendo is no stranger to giving away things on the eShop) that will be used by the bulk of games in the future including first party titles.  He then, of course, goes on to say that Nintendo wouldn't dare think of releasing an 'unfinished experience' and wouldn't dream of using DLC to finish off games as some claim some developers are guilty of doing.  Like no other company has said as much before.

Of course, when I think of Nintendo and DLC, I instantly think of Pokemon, because if anything Nintendo needs a proper DLC system, it's fucking Pokemon.  Not as a "Buy a pokemon you can't catch" system as some people might have already thought of by now, but simply to replace all this nonsense that we've been subjected to for Legendary pokemon for years now.  I imagine expecting a change because a proper DLC system is in place is a bit silly, unfortunately, since I can't see them really embracing it in a smart way, but I can dream.  I can dream of a world where we don't have to drive to Toys 'R Us for the express purpose of being near one while opening download channels to actually get a code that could just as well be broadcast over the whole fucking internet as some of the promotions have been to then have the privilege of attempting to capture a rare, difficult-to-catch pokemon.

It's not like they don't know -how- to do it right once you've downloaded something, either.  You don't just download a pokemon; you download something that allows you to pick up an item which allows you to initiate an event that ends with you being able to catch the pokemon.  While it sounds convoluted and isn't the prime scenario by any means, it's serviceable enough.  If they'd just take that approach to DLC, removed the arbitrary time limit and didn't charge for it, that would make every Pokemon game 150% better and I would have no qualms about buying them.  As it stands, it's hard to want to buy them because if you don't get them right away and then mire yourself into information on promotions, you'll miss out on content that you should not, by any means, be locked out of.

Of course, other First Party Nintendo games could benefit immensely from proper DLC rather than their vague, half-assed attempts in the past.  Animal Crossing is the next game on my list that I can think of.  Did you know that Animal Crossing on the DS had time-sensitive clothing that could be downloaded/received at a certain point?  No?  NEITHER DID ANYONE ELSE.  Because Nintendo simply does not have a network in place that is good enough for the general public to be able to know these things, and relying on word of mouth over the internet is bad and it shouldn't happen.  With the next Animal Crossing coming out on the 3DS, I would hope that the DLC system is properly thought of, even if you only get a few outfits and unique household decorations.  At least everyone stands a good chance of getting those, rather than being expected to know to get online between two dates and getting lucky.

It is entirely possible, however, that the usage of the DLC system by Nintendo will be negligible at best, bordering on "Why even bother?", and in all honesty that's where I would put my money.  It's unfortunate, really, but I just don't have any faith in these games being made any more convenient to play/collect even when there's proper channels to do it.  Mostly because there have been proper channels to do it before now, theoretically (simply putting pokemon on Nintendo Wi-Fi rather than doing Gamestop/Toys 'R Us exclusive promotions) and they've been promptly ignored.  Still, time will tell how this all works out for us and the more surprises that come of it, the better.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Metal Gear?! 5?!

Metal Gear Rising might not be the only game in production at the moment with the words "Metal Gear" in the title, as the upcoming Official Playstation Magazine - UK reveals, though not on the cover in small font which makes me a bit fussed.  You'd think "Metal Gear Solid 5" would be a big enough deal to actually print on the cover in big giant letters, but what do I know apparently.  There's really not a whole lot of information beyond the fact that it exists, unfortunately.  Hideo Kojima, unsurprisingly, will have a big hand in the title despite previous claims that he would like to step away from the series (similar claims being made between 2 and 3 and 3 and 4 I believe), though I imagine he's going to ween himself away from it so he can work on his other projects that he's excited about; specifically "Project Ogre" which is mentioned vaguely with nothing beyond that.

If I had to guess, I'd say that "Project Ogre", whatever it is, is his first FOX Engine game made primarily for PS3 and Vita, though what it'll entail or revolve around is probably more up in the air than anything else could be.  If anything's clear about anything, it's that Kojima will make what he wants which is something to be commended, yet also means that it's impossible to really predict.  Between Metal Gear Solid, Policenauts, Snatcher, Boktai and his work with Castlevania:  Lords of Shadow, it's clear that he's got a -lot- of range, so you can't even narrow down the possibilities.  Whatever it is, it'll be distinctly Kojima and that's about all you can say for it beforehand.

As far as what Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be, well.....that too is also as up in the air as anything could be.  I was under the impression (as I figure many others were as well) that Metal Gear Solid 4 would be the end of Solid Snake's story, which despite Peace Walker originally being branded as Metal Gear Solid 5, still makes sense.  As such with what's said about 4, I was also under the impression that Metal Gear Rising would be the Raiden answer to MGS, so a "Metal Gear 5" wasn't entirely necessary.  Thus with those two characters both (theoretically) tied up, does this mean another run for Big Boss?  There's still a lot of ground that can be covered with him, but I'm not really sure if I want another Big Boss game.  I mean, yes, I do, but I just feel like his explained story is good enough.

It's kind of another God of War 4 situation in that there's really no reason to continue the branding with any of the existing characters, yet to make a new character would undermine the reason for making it another notch in the continuity.  I just don't see a reason for Metal Gear Solid 5 in that I want another Metal Gear Solid game, but I don't want it called Metal Gear Solid.  Rising is fine enough, it's its own entity and has its place in continuity but you know that it's going to be an entirely different game.  As I imagine MGS5 just might be unless they (unfortunately) find a way to shoehorn another adventure of Solid Snake or Big Boss into the timeline which, I only say unfortunately because I imagine doing so will do more harm than good.

It's kind of like the difference between what I want and what I know what's 'responsible' and I want more Solid Snake and Big Boss, but I know it's not likely a good idea for more.  I think that's the point that I'm trying to make here and I mean, at the end of the day it's all just games so it's not like it's going to 'undermine' anything, including itself, by hashing out.  The most likely scenario for Metal Gear Solid 5 that I can see (without a new main character) is that it takes place as Big Boss right after Peace Walker and has the player setting up Outer Heaven proper which would probably rock out loud.  Even moreso if they go the extra mile and re-imagine Metal Gear 1, placing you into the boots of Solid Snake for the 'second act' as it were.  It would be awesome but wholly unnecessary narrative-wise since it just sets up a 'second beginning' for a character that was closed up fairly well enough.

But I would buy twelve copies is what I'm getting at, here.

Update!:  So, I guess this is all kind of unconfirmed as Joystiq had another article about this that suggests they did not, in fact, read the magazine that had the bold declaration on the cover before reporting on it.  Which is just fantastic, of course.  But basically, it states that Kojima says "We'll -probably- have to make MGS5 sometime" and that if/when that time comes, he would like to be involved, but not at the helm.  As he's said a few times now.  So, there's that, I guess.  GJ Joystiq.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Playstation Suite Getting Closer

Joystiq has announced that Sony has announced that the Beta for the Playstation Suite program will be beginning later on in November.  Of course, this is only for Japan, and only for 'Playstation-Suite certified' devices which will eventually include the Vita and Sony's Tablets, but for now seems, s'far as I can tell, it looks like it'll just be available on the Xperia Play and other Android devices.  Maybe.  I'm not really sure as I haven't followed it much and can only really go by what that article says and what I can kind of figure on.  Plus, I kind of remember a few things from the keynotes about it a while back when it was first announced alongside the Xperia Play.

When I was doing a little look through of the news to pick out something to write about tonight, I almost skipped this entirely as, assuredly anything made with the Playstation Suite program, or at least 99% of it will be strictly 'Cell Phone' games in that they are made much in the style of the existing cell phone games that are meant to be played in bursts no longer than 3 minutes.  While that's fine and well, and those 3 minutes are usually quite enjoyable, I...can't help but really want something more.  After taking a dip into some of the Playstation Minis, I unfortunately have the same thing to say there from my experience.  There's just nothing...deep about them and if I'm paying cash money for something, I want a little depth in 99% of the cases.

Now while this isn't universally true, of course, the outliers are just that; outliers and exceptions, and not shining examples of the viability of Cell Phone gaming.  In the future, I'm sure that it'll evolve as a platform, much as everything has, especially as more and more 'serious' game devs start taking an interest in the mobile/non-handheld system market, but I'm not expecting leaps and bounds anytime soon.  Still, that Playstation Suite is really more or less the first opportunity for real indie support, I can't help but feel a little excited for it.  It only takes a few copies like "The Dishwasher" or the Zeboyd Games games to really implant something as viable in the minds of others and something of similar quality would likely push me into looking more into it.

That said, the bar is low and as long as we can keep the ESRB from getting involved and hiking the prices by $1-3 dollars, I'll be more than happy to take a look around at the first wave of iPhone ports and such since, well, I'm sure some of the games are popular for a reason and so long as I can find that reason I'll be content to give them a shot.  Then I'll be more than happy to sit back and enjoy the rest of the content available to the Vita until something really outstanding comes out as it assuredly will.  The amount of time it'll take might outweigh the advent of it, but only time will tell on that.  S'long as someone can make something of a less-shallow experience, I'm all for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sengoku Basara or I Really Just Like Destroying Armies

On the night before I go pick up Dynasty Warriors:  Xtreme Legends 7 I find myself playing Sengoku Basara:  Samurai Heroes for my PS3 which is, for the unfamiliar, Capcom's take on the Sengoku Era ala Samurai Warriors.  (Not sure which came first as both series have been going on for a while, so I'll just state that they're similar and move on)  Now, Samurai/Dynasty Warriors games aren't well known for being "Historically Accurate", but they've got the broad strokes down at least, whereas Sengoku Basara gleefully goes way over the top to the point where Honda Tadakatsu, famous for surviving his part of the war without sustaining a single major injury and being one of the best Officers under Tokugawa Ieyasu (The man who would end up winning the war and unifying Japan), is depicted as a giant robot.

Basara spits in the face of common sense with its story, plot and characters, and it's awesome because while it takes very, very numerous liberties with the era, it still follows the era at least semi-faithfully.  The first person I went through the story with was actually Tokugawa Ieyasu (depicted as a spry, young-ish pugilist which is....I guess on par with his older, more realistic Samurai Warriors version since that version wields a Cannonspear) whose story roughly spans the time between the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and ends with the Battle of Sekigahara which was, basically, the battle to end all battles.  And while it's a very different game from the Warriors series, it's fun enough in its own right in that it does, roughly, what they do.

Sengoku Basara is a much heavier game; not plot-heavy or anything, just every action has more weight to it, which unfortunately leads to a little bit of a slower pace for me at least.  Eventually when I have awesome weapons and super accessories and such, I'm sure it'll be better but for the time being, I was wondering who got their action game in my beat-em-up since that was kind of the difference in speed.  I felt like I was playing Devil May Cry or Darksiders in terms of weight, of every hit having an impact, rather than cutting a swash through the air that felled five people at once, if that makes any sense.  Still, a lot of the fun lies in the fact that you're still beating up dudes in the multiples of 50-100 and a lot of the extra lies in the actual story itself, or at least the presentation.

You see, the games are based on a manga series very closely from what I can tell, so all that Over-the-topness comes directly from that and has actually been developed, rather than KOEI's approach at taking history, running their spin on it and generating dialogue as thus.  So the story is quite a different take from what you might've seen elsewhere (including history).  For any example, in the starting cinematic, it shows Tokugawa Ieyasu standing face-to-face (chest, really, Hideyoshi is really tall in this) during a battle then cuts to Ishida Mitsunari who senses danger and returns to Hideyoshi to find him dead with Tokugawa flying off on Honda Tadakatsu's back.  (Giant robot, remember?  What good giant robot doesn't have flight capabilities?)  So throughout the whole story, it seems more of a motive that Mitsunari wants to get revenge for Hideyoshi's death and chooses to raise an army to do that, whereas Ieyasu harbors Hideyoshi's dream for unification.

Every character has their own quirks and the like (a necessity from coming from a manga) and while some work, others don't and that's unfortunate, but I think at this point the ones that count matter more.  For every Hojo Ujimasa, there's an Otani Yoshitsugu and for every Kobayakawa Hideaki, there's a Date Masamune and it evens out quite well.  Whether or not I'll hold firm to that belief when I have to play the 'lesser' characters is something that remains to be seen, but regardless I'll be interested in seeing what goes on when I do play them.  It's a strange feeling, knowing the era, yet not knowing where they go with it, story-wise.  I know at times I should be getting history snobby, but all I can do is be interested in what they've decided to do or where they've decided to go with something.

Next up when I play will be Date Masamune, so I've gotta be ready to put my guns on.  I will be ready, though.  Oh how I will.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Platinum Get - Uncharted 3

Earlier today, I ended up picking up the final treasures I needed to get the trophy for getting all 100 (101 if you get the Strange Relic as well) treasures over the course of the campaign with a few chapter selections since, even following a guide, I still managed to derp-run past a few ones.  After that, it was just a matter of locating a Mag 5 and shooting enough people with it to get past the 30 toll on it.  (For those interested, chapter 8, stealth kill the first guy you encounter.)  And then finally to dip into Multiplayer for the first time, even though I activated the online pass the day after I bought the game.

I didn't know quite what to expect with Multiplayer as, on one hand I quite enjoyed Uncharted 2's offerings, even going so far as to actively participate in the Beta when it was around and then play a good portion of MP in the actual game well past the single required dip into each mode.  On the other hand, I generally dislike multiplayer shooting galleries because sometimes I am simply not good at them.  Sometimes I am, though!  I think it more depends on the game, really or maybe I'm just better at third person shooters than first, but regardless, my time spent with Uncharted 3's multiplayer was quite enjoyable.  My competitive mode match was fairly uneventful; Team Deathmatch, we lost, bleh.  I was Rank 1, of course, in a match with at least one 47, a 22, and a 55 (Though at least one of those was on my team) so I wasn't really surprised.  The highlight would be that I managed to score a melee kill on someone who I believe was Rank 27 by circling around behind them.

My Co-Op mode match, though, that is what I'm interested in talking about.  In a manner much like how I assume most people got their trophy or at least their start in Co-Op, I simply hopped into the Find Match setting which, quite counter to my Competitive attempt, plopped me right into a Co-Op Arena game with swiftness.  A game where I was Rank Three among two others who were Rank 45 and 42 respectively.  (I believe.)  Needless to say, I was a little nervous at the expectations here since my rank exposed my Multiplayer green-ness, though thankfully Co-Op revolves around more than just the visual representation of how long you've put into it.  Still, were that not enough, when it came time to select a difficulty, two votes were instantly cast for Crushing, near instantly ending all need for further input.  So, sufficiently challenged, I grit myself for the fight.

Apparently in Uncharted 3's Arena (In which you are simply supposed to survive a number of rounds of foes) every round also has a different sort of theme to it on top of that.  Our first round, as far as I could tell was simply "Survive and Thrive", as if any other gimmick was attached I simply missed it.  However, starting our second round, we had the ability to pick up treasures, much like in the mode specifically built around doing so, to take back to a chest for deposit to make some quick money while killing our foes.  I believe we captured two treasures before the end of it, which was fine enough for me.  The third round, however, is where everything went south.  I forget if it was called Siege or Turf War, but essentially, a piece of the map was squared out and only kills made while you were in that zone (you, didn't have to be the enemy as well) counted towards your score.

I'm not sure if it's a Crushing-exclusive amount or what, but we only had three 'lives' for the entire Arena battle, though thankfully the lives were only expended once we were all downed.  Which...well, happened.  A lot.  Enough to end the game for us.  The inclusion of some of the harder troops from the main campaign was definitely our downfall as an Armored Shotgunner invaded our 'base' as it were, very very slowly, and proceeded to murder us all while we were scrambling to kill him and revive our teammates.  The second rounds fared similarly unfortunately, though one loss was directly a case of ending up separated and slaughtered systematically.  Still, it was good fun and in the end, I'd ended up holding my own quite well, having only a $1-2K difference in score from my teammates and Kill/Death Ratios that were similar enough to not be outstanding one way or another.

When the trophy dinged, I was actually tempted to disregard it and just continue on playing, but I'd meant to play Sengoku Basara:  Samurai Heroes for some time now and ended up throwing that in instead to punch mans as Ieyasu Tokugawa.  I think if nothing else, it stands to reason that I like Uncharted 3's multiplayer if I have such a story of personal enjoyment from it and was only tempted away from it by the prospect of punching dudes.  Which, I suppose I could still do in Uncharted 3, but it's not quite the same.  Still, I could see myself coming back to it for Holiday events or the like, or just casually if I ever combat the deluge of games I still have and will still get in the time to come.  And with Platinum Trophy number Seventeen firmly in place, I can move on, for now, with an oh-so-pleasant feeling.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Music! Sonic Edition

I've been watching a lot of stuff for Sonic Generations lately (which looks like a surprisingly good game, by the by) and I have to say that it reminded me of something that I've known for a while but, well, I guess I'd forgotten in past years:  Sonic games have friggin' fantastic music.  Now, while there's plenty of the classic songs I could throw up here and justify as to why they're there, I going to stick with Sonic Adventures 1&2 this time around as, while I haven't come right out and said it before, I loved the Dreamcast and I loved Sega as a whole way back in the day, so those two games probably had more of a lasting impression on me than any of the others.

First up, I've got the first of two songs from Sonic Adventure 2 (Which, amusingly enough, I don't think I ever beat.  At least, I don't remember doing so) which really needs no introduction.  Primarily because it was the introduction, basically, provided you decided to be Sonic at first by picking the Hero path.  Whosoever doesn't have fond memories of Sonic Adventure 2 while this song played is someone I don't care to meet, personally, because back in the day, if just for what it did, the first level of Sonic Adventure 2 (Hero Path) was fantastic and something everyone should've experienced.  So without going on about it anymore, here's City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2.

Next up is a song that, if the video is right on, is apparently the main theme of Sonic Adventure 1.  If it is, it's news to me, as I only remember the song from hearing it during the very last boss battle of Sonic Adventure 1, which I'm not going to name of course.  There's no real way this song can be embedded into my head any other way than with that fight, so to suggest to you that there's any possibility otherwise would just be lying to you.  Which I'm not known for doing, I would say.  Aside from being in the Final Boss fight, it's just a fun song to listen to by all means.  I haven't really heard it in Generations, but I have heard that there's some remixes in the game and the one of this was not stellar.  Can't confirm or deny myself, but considering that's what got me to talk about the songs, I figured it was mention worthy.  So here's Open Your Heart from Sonic Adventure 1.

The last song is the second of the two I picked from Sonic Adventure 2 and once again this appears to be the main theme of that game if I'm being told right.  Again, I couldn't tell you if that's true or not, since I don't remember a whole -lot- about the games other than some of the songs and some of the moments the games held.  Not really my overall experience or anything like that which is unfortunate and likely something that will get remedied at some point.  With any luck Sonic Adventure 2 will get an up-port treatment like it's predecessor and come out on PSN/XBLA where I could then snag both and overkill on the Sonic playing.  We'll just have to see, but in the meantime here's Live and Learn from Sonic Adventure 2.

It's always fun to look back at the songs from earlier years and realize that, yes, Video game music has -always- been awesome, general, and it's not some new trend that started with this or last generation, but far before that.  Music might be a little more loud, a little more booming, a little more involving or a little more 'epic' now, but if it's good, it's as good as it's always been.  I imagine if I do another look at Sonic music, I'll include some real classics to make that point a little more obvious.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yet Another Uncharted 3 Post (Kind Of)

I've been finishing up all I need to do with Uncharted 3, trophy-wise, over the last couple of days since, upon beating it on Crushing, my time with the game is becoming short.  Not out of want or desire of course, but of utility and responsibility.  Sort of.  I know the whole point of games is to play them because they're fun, but as I've lamented several times in the past, I simply don't have the luxury at the moment to simply sit back and play a game I enjoy unless I'm also 'gaining' something, be it trophies or simply the experience of traversing the story of it, because for every game I complete, there's three more that I already own and need to beat and two more that I want to buy and beat.  Those who checked the latter link I just posted will see that picture and know that no, I've barely made a dent in that and yes, there are more now.

My saving grace at the moment is that I simply don't have the money to go out and buy more games to add to the pile of things I haven't yet and likely will not play for a time yet; Uncharted 3 will likely be the last $60 game I purchase between now and next year, with the only other game on my purchasing radar (that I know of at the moment) is Dynasty Warriors 7:  Xtreme Legends.  I'm assuredly forgetting something, (aside from the Metal Gear Solid Collection which I remembered, but might just be waiting for the Vita version) but whatever that is, I simply don't even want to think about it at the moment.  I've been putting off making up a Christmas list for this explicit reason; even with just a single thought, I managed to put down five games that will assuredly take hours upon hours to complete, and more yet to conquer as is my usual goal.

Speaking of conquering games, that allows me to come back around to Uncharted 3, given that I'm in the process of doing that now.  Going from Crushing to Easy is like a whole new game, but not necessarily in a good way.  Despite everyone complaining that Uncharted 3 is apparently too hard or "bullshit hard" (which I personally call bullshit on because it is patently not bullshit in its difficulty) playing Drake's Deception on Easy after experiencing the thrill of firefights that I haven't experienced since the original just doesn't do much for me.  Of course, this is the fault of the difficulty and not the game itself as my complaint here is that I simply cannot die unless I'm accosted by two shotgun dudes at the same time or I just don't try to be good at the game.  I find myself craving that thrill once more; the rush you get when you put the final bullet into a foe who's reduced you to a blurred, grey screen of near-death with half a clip and are finally afforded a moment to relax against the comforting cover of a crate because that's itI've wrecked them all.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, "For Drake's path, under my supervision, was one of victory and so again shall it be. "  While I'd love to explain the best example of this, I fear I can't really because it's fairly spoiler-laden and cutting out the spoilered parts simply paints a strange picture that will, of course, only make sense to those who've come to this part as well and surpassed it.  Still, there's few things other than the undeniable frustration we get from challenging a difficult section of a game and failing several times, as only it can truly bring around the greatest feeling of satisfaction when you've not only beat that section, but destroyed it.  All who found themselves in your path now lie dead, leaving you to smugly survey the fallen and to steep in your superiority.  That's what you'll find on Crushing difficulty (or Hard/Normal as they're both a tinge tougher than implied), but not on Easy.

Of course, the purpose of going through the game on Easy now is simply to grab all the treasures I'd missed over my two separate playthroughs of the game (which were....very numerous.  I'm not good at finding treasures, I learned) with as little frustration as possible, as I wasn't sure how intricate the treasure guides strewn about the internet (at least what can be accessed on a PSP) would be, but while this is the simplest course of action to get the desired result (unless I miss some treasures like I have already goddamnit) I still can miss the thrill of a good challenge.  Regardless, there's a mere 20 or so treasures left and after that, I just have a few token kills trophies and then the obligatory "Introduction to Multiplayer" trophies that were similarly featured in Uncharted 2 trophies before I have the Platinum in the bag.  Number seventeen will be sweet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

UMD Passport System Announced

Since the announcement that the Vita would, unsurprisingly, not have a UMD slot, people have been wondering, as they wondered back when the PSPGo came out, "What about our UMDs?"  These are games that have been purchased by us for the same platform and format that is going to be supported by the Vita via Backwards Compatibility and, seeing as how the Go went, many feared the answer would be simply to re-purchase your games as digital versions all over again.  This is, understandably, a grim proposition that people have been waiting with baited breath for a confirmation on one way or another to either sigh in a moment of relief or a moment of disappointment.  Well, now we know and my reaction is the former, personally.

The UMD Passport program (which will be launched as a free application for the PSP sometime in Japan) assumes some very basic things that, well, are not hard to satisfy.  You have to A) Have a PSP and UMDs, B) A Vita and C) Access to the Playstation Network.  According to the post, if I'm reading it right, what you'll need to do is, access the Playstation Store on your PSP and go to the section that has the UMD Registration Programs (Or, as I'm thinking of it thanks to the name, the Passports) and purchase the one for the game you want to 'transfer'.  Put in that UMD and run the passport, which will register said UMD and then add a digital version of your game to your Playstation Network account that you can then access on your Vita and download said game.

Now, people will take this, that you're buying the license for a digital version of a game you own physically, and say that you are, in fact, re-buying the game.  And this is not a difficult statement to make, especially because the pricing for every license is going to vary based on several factors; chief of which is the greediness sense of value its developer has for the game.  The example given is that, to buy a license for Persona 3 Portable will cost 1,500 Yen, whereas Disgaea 2 will only be 500.  However, since the price is, of course, assuredly less than you paid for your UMD copy (unless you found a good deal somewhere), I would suggest that this is more along the lines of those "DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital Copy" bundles you see for the latest movies.  They, quite simply, cost more because you get more.  You are buying a Digital Copy of your movie alongside the other two copies of it for a reduced price than if you bought all three individually.

Of course, the program isn't perfect, even if it's actually a pretty good middle-ground between the two extremes of "Buy everything!  Again!" and "GIVE US EVERYTHING FOR FREE".  For starters, games have to be implemented into the program for you to be able to purchase a passport for it, obviously.  This puts yet another limit on the already (slightly) limited library of Digital games available on the Playstation Store, since, quite simply, not all games on the store will be in this program.  Whether it's because the developers don't want to fuss with it, there's some sort of legal issues involved, or something else, there is a very real possibility of the games involved in the Passport system to be dwarfed by the amount of games on the store proper.  (Squeenix, Capcom, I'm worried about you two being the biggest dicks here)

Not only that but, as I mentioned above in not-so-many-words, the game has to actually be on the Playstation Store first for there to be a possibility here.  For instance, unless something can be done to smooth over the issues Lumines has had with getting on the Store, simply having the UMD will not be enough to be able to play it on the Vita, unfortunately.  Seeing as the Store pretty much has the bulk of the necessities (some outliers notwithstanding) this shouldn't be too much of an issue, but it is still an issue which some will take and clutch onto in fervent denial that this is the best attempt that can be made.

For what it's worth, as I've stated a couple times, I believe this is the best effort that can be made here, really.  Sony can't give you digital versions/the right to digital versions of a game no matter what, and they can't give you a tool that would do a similar thing (the UMD reader/converter thing that was spoken of long, long ago), but the developers can decide to reward its customers with a chance to have a second, future-ready version of their game at a lower cost than just buying it once more.  As with everything else, for better or worse, Sony is leaving this one up to the developers; it's their games after all.  So it's just up to them as to how consumer friendly they want to be.  Of course, this will stop nobody from whinging and blaming Sony because Squeenix won't put Crisis Core on the Store, but, well, that's the internet for you.