Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Going Digital Continues to Save Some Bucks

Thanks to Shacknews (or in my case, Joystiq) we've learned that we don't need to worry anymore about whether or not we'll see discounts on digital versions of Vita games like Japan has had since the device came out.  The answer, quite simply, is that yes, Digital Versions of Uncharted:  Golden Abyss, Reality Fighters and all the rest of its Vita brethren will see a discount versus their physical versions.  Now, whether or not you -care- is another matter entirely, as the discount might just be 10% off the regular price.  I say -just- as if the simple fact that there's a discount at all isn't amazing - because it is.  Companies (because it's the playstation store, but Sony isn't setting prices for everyone) honestly don't have to do -anything- and they've really really exercised that muscle with the PSP (among other things).  So that we're getting a discount on games if you buy them digitally is really a step forward for...well, people who enjoy digital distribution.  Which is not everybody, mind you.

I am not one of these people as you might have guessed.  Or, hell, I've probably said it a few times over the year of posting here since it's an opinion that I've had for a while.  My real issue is twofold in both the capability of the internet out here doesn't match what the rest of the nation does, as well as the fact that I'm just not comfortable with putting information of mine into these stores, especially in the day and age we're in when it seems like every other week we're finding about another place that got hacked and information stolen.  Thankfully, most online avenues offer ways around giving them an actual credit card (likely because of things like the previously mentioned) and I'm pretty fine with going that route for digital purchases since I don't think they're -bad-, I just don't like -using- it as a method of getting games.  Because on top of my hesitance with online buying, as you all know, my internet just isn't too good at supporting online ventures anyway.

Regardless, on the matter of the discount, if we're going by a picture taken of a Best Buy fact sheet or something, it seems like every game just has a discount of 10% digitally.  At least, Best Buy's download voucher purchases have that which...well, I dunno.  Uncharted:  Golden Abyss is listed as $44.99 which is, indeed, 10% of $50, and Reality Fighters is $26.99 which, again, falls right in line with the established discount.  Mind you this is, again, just a Best Buy sheet and it is conveniently only First-Party Sony games from what I can tell, which one might suggest will only have the lowest discount available.  A bit cynical I guess, but if there's anything that Sony has been with their digital scene, it's flexible (too much so, really), so I imagine if your favorite developer wants to sell their game digitally at a 30% discount, they will be able to do that.  On top of that, we could probably hope to see sales in the vein that we have seen already for the PS3 and PSP, though the latter to a lessened degree.  Probably not right out, of course, but eventually.

I guess what annoys me here is that the comments for these stories basically eschew common sense in lieu of making everyone seem like the entitled children the rest of society expects us to be sometimes.  Like I pointed out earlier, absolutely no developer or publisher has any -need- to sell you their game at a discount - there are people who will buy the thing regardless and in the end, they will probably make a profit off of it selling it everywhere at full cost.  I don't think enough people pay attention to the gaming news out there to try and make sense of it all, and then point to Steam as 'the perfect example' of a DD platform.  Which, I'm sorry, it's not.  Steam is a very, very consumer-friendly DD platform, but that does not make it the best, nor does it mean that everyone involved walks away with tons of profit.  People talk, with pride even, about their latest conquest, a game that was released not but three months ago, yet they have bought it for half the price as everyone else, seeing absolutely nothing wrong with it.

In all reality, there really -isn't- per se, but when you can go to Joystiq, Kotaku (urgh) or any of these other sites out there on any given day and read about how this developer is shutting their doors, firing dozens of people or any combination thereof, maybe there needs to be a little more thought put into matters.  Our hobby is just that to us, our hobby, but for many, many people out there, it's a job.  It's a sole source of income for entire families.  Games are the culmination of hundreds if not thousands of hours of life from the combined team that put them together, no matter how little a part they took in its creation, and just because you base their value on the amount of time you personally spend with one, that doesn't equate its real worth.  So maybe, just maybe, when these types of stories come out, use a little common sense.  Because even if you don't like the big three companies out there, they're not the only people you're buying from and, in all reality, they probably make up a rather small percentage of where your money goes.  10%, if that's even the only discount applied to any Vita game, is huge and maybe we shouldn't devalue that.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Game-Play Planning For Fun and Pro....Well, Fun

As I always do when I'm planning out a future purchase, I've started thinking about my video game budget, or rather, my time budget, since my monetary one is a bit more simple.  With the Vita looming on the horizon (as well as the two games I'll likely grab with it), it most certainly constitutes as a 'future purchase'.  While true that I will have more opportunity to play with the Vita than my PS3 by mere virtue of it being designed to be pick-up-and-play from anywhere, I imagine it is going to take up a good bit of my gaming time, so my PS3 will sit by rather under-appreciated in the meanwhile unless I absolutely destroy the Vita battery and can't play it which it charges.  Still, I have a month to go before I really have to worry about it, so I have to figure out what I'm going to do, game-wise, in that month, hence the 'budget' or the gameplay-planning here.

I do have a bit more accomplished in AssBro, but nothing really to write home about.  I'm becoming increasingly annoyed at the rather arbitrary region divisions as it's making the goal of renovating the entirety of Rome impossible to the point that I hit so many brick walls, or more accurately white walls of desynchronization, that I eventually just give up and start advancing the story with something of a grudge.  I'm sure that's not very good for myself or for my impression of the game, but it's the truth, unfortunately.  I think it speaks highly for the game itself, however, or at least the design of it that I would rather cruise around the map and visit different areas than be 'forced' to actually -play it-.  Though there's nothing really wrong with the actual gameplay itself, it's just that goddamnit, I want to burn that Borgia Tower.

It's gotten past the point where I actually unlocked the 'Brotherhood' part of AssBro, and while it took me a few days, that is again because I spent more of my time dicking around the world rather than playing the story, so I assume you could theoretically get to the point I'm at in hours rather than my prolonged period of time.  I actually really really enjoy the way the Brotherhood Assassin's are handled; the Contracts are very reminiscent of Peace Walker (by design, I know) which is -always- a good thing, and being able to summon them at any real point to watch them pounce a foe before you, well....it's a good feeling.  And the detail with them is surprising - after calling my assassin's on a group of guards, I simply walked by as the last guard was killed with a jumping assassination by one of my men who whispered something to the effect of "The Void welcomes you.  Your suffering is at an end." which caught me right off guard.  It's a little surprising at how such a little thing has such a power to it, but it does and it's something that should be trumpeted, I think.  At least a little more than some of the other things featured more prominently that is.

I'm not sure exactly how much of Brotherhood I'm going to delve into, however.  I haven't looked at the trophy list, but I have a sinking suspicion that a goodly amount of it is dedicated to the online portion which I have said that I likely won't look into too much.  I might pop into it, but if there's a trophy that requires I get to the highest rank or something equally silly, I might not even bother, which might reflect on my willingness to get the rest of the trophies.  If the end goal is the Platinum and I already know I'm not getting it, what's the point in prolonging it?  Aside from fun, I guess.  Maybe if the MP offers the level of fun as I'm assured it grants, I'll dip into it regardless.  We'll see.

I recently purchased a copy of Alpha Protocol for PS3 for $12 for no other reason than "Hey, it's $12" and I've had a cursory interest in it for a while now.  While I have a lot of games that I didn't just buy that I still need to play, one of those games that I do need to play is still Fist of the North Star:  Ken's Rage and with Dynasty Warriors Next coming up for the Vita, I'm pretty covered on my Warriors needs.  I'm still recovering from Gundam 3 after all, so I need to keep the healing channels open.  So, for $12 and my interest already, as well as the desire to play as a created character since my Demon's Souls plans never panned out, it's looking like Alpha Protocol will be the next game in line, depending on my AssBro antics.

I looked through the manual that came with the game and I'm not quite sure just what build I'm going to attempt first; Stealth is very enticing, but the stealth build doesn't include computer skills which likely help with that sort of thing.  Computer skills are covered by another field and while you can buy skills regardless of your class, I'm sure if I go with the Stealth class I'll have other things to do like focusing on the stealth skill.  It seems like something that is vital and if you base a character around stealth, you have to go full-boar into it.  At least that's what previous games have taught me, since focusing in stealth, and indeed being good at being stealthy, generally precludes you from being too combat-friendly which gets a little hairy real fast if your stealth skills don't come through.  (Looking at you because of this, Tenchu.)

I have considered that perhaps Alpha Protocol is a game that I will want to play more than once for the clear expanse of options that are present beyond what I represent here (as there is certainly more than 'stealth' and 'not stealth').  And if time allows, I might do just that, but I'm not guaranteeing quite anything beyond sharing my experiences here.  I'm sure the game will, like AssBro, offer me entertainment even if I come to the conclusion that the game itself is -not- entertaining.  (Which is my stance on AC2, less so with AssBro, as I feel something resembling genuine excitement over the growing game variety)  So I'm not too worried on my gaming in the month I have before I jump back into the portable world with both feet.  Because -god-, do I miss it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

AssBro is Pretty Fun

After my conquest of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 the other day, I decided to move on to Assassin's Creed:  Brotherhood (henceforth abbreviated as AssBro because it makes me giggle) which I got for Christmas and sort of wanted to play since I got it.  Kind of.  You see, I've had sort of mixed feelings for the Assassin's Creed franchise ever since getting to end-game of AC2 when I realized I just wasn't having fun with it thanks to the stupid tombs and the fact that I really just didn't like Ezio.  (And the ending did nothing to help that, by the by.)  Yet I'm assured that AssBro manages to refine things from AC2 to make it a genuinely good game, as well as the fact that the online mode is something that is both innovative and unique.

Now, my stance on online modes is....pretty well-documented I'd say.  So beyond a cursory interest (which is a compliment) I don't really care about AssBro's multiplayer whatsoever.  That just leaves the gameplay itself which....no, it's not as refined as it is more of the same.  At least, towards the start it is.  Which is...about all I have to judge on, really.  This is a bit spoilery, and I apologize, but I don't enjoy being Super Metroided, game, no matter how stealthy you manage to make it.  Granted, it's not a complete reversion to basic which is very, very much appreciated (as I'm having a lot of fun with Ezio's wrist-gun), but it's -enough- that it bugs me.  Though I guess I'm going to be getting better things anyway, so I -guess- I can forgive it, though I would like a bit of a good faith gesture beforehand at least.

As far as the new mechanics go, I'm....a bit torn, really.  As you might've guessed, I was not a fan of the tombs from AC2, so now that they're back, more or less, in the Shrines of Romulus for AssBro I am not impressed in the least.  They really want you to use Eagle Vision to make sure you get through it the right way in the stupid time limit they impose on the majority of them, but Eagle Vision is so so very not something that is convenient enough to just switch to on the fly and then out of for the rare instances where there's red arrows on the wall showing you where to go.  Strangely enough, going the wrong way usually results in a pocketful of florins which, while largely unnecessary, is still something of a prize for doing the wrong thing and wasting time.  Really, timed platforming/maze-traversing in any form is generally awful and they're certainly not busting up a generalization with that.  They are also sewer levels which adds a whole new level of "urgh" on top of that.

Conversely, the new Borgia Towers are something of a real delight since they really capture everything that was good about the original Assassin's Creed (And, technically, AC2) without any of the additional fluff.  You know there is a guy you have to kill in this fortress-type thing.  You kind of know where he is.  You have to kill him in a spectacular fashion and then fight off the inevitable wave of lackeys who can't believe that you just showed up and assassinated their boss out of fucking nowhere.  My one small complaint about the system is their ability to run the hell away until the next guard change, since the first time that happened to me it took all of a minute for him to disappear and I had absolutely nothing else to do since at that moment, I just wanted to renovate things and this tower was preventing that.  My big complaint about the system is really more of a reflection on the, er, 'refined, smooth freerunning/parkour/climbing' that the game has to offer. 

In all reality, it's not really that refined, nor smooth, when compared to the games out there that do essentially the same thing and do it much, much better.  inFamous and Uncharted spring to mind, though I'm sure there are other competitors for the crown that don't quite meet standards either.  Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but merely a few notches above 'serviceable' and only really shines when you're doing a fast-paced chase across the rooftops and the myriad of obstacles between them - provided you don't fall during that.  When it's a bit slower and focused on merely climbing something like, say, a Borgia tower, it drags and shows its real weaknesses.  Ezio simply does not go where you want him to sometimes and for very little reason other than the finicky nature of the grab points and how some of them are barely visible - so much so that the first time you get one, you see that same kind where there actually isn't one.  So rather than going around to another side of the building (which you really shouldn't have to do anyway) you spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to get to that obvious goddamn handhold only to realize that it's not obvious because it is, in fact, not somewhere you can grab.

The other place the game really shines, however, is the combat system which you know is a very, very key point of any game for me apparently.  With the addition of Execution Chains, Ezio feels like more of a murder machine than ever despite being a little older and a little ill-equipped.  If I were to judge the system on just how easy it was to walk into a fight scenario and look like a complete badass, it would earn pretty top notch marks, really.  I can walk up to a group of four guards with no weapon equipped, take one of them out with a friggin chokeslam before combat is initiated, take the weapon of the first guy that attacks me and kill him with it and then his buddies with the execution chain, then just drop the weapon and imagine that there is a "Fuck all y'all" emote that Ezio does.  Because that's really the only thing that's missing that would be the icing on the cake.  It's not perfect, not yet, but it's certainly the most fun I have with the game and I suspect that'll only improve as I actually begin to play it.

I'm still not completely sold on the game, really, despite my praises.  There's just something in my head that's preventing me from enjoying the franchise and I suspect that it very well might be the disconnect I have with Ezio.  I'm not playing -as- Ezio, but rather I'm playing around inside his puppet, and I'm not sure I have anything resembling a connection because of that.  I already don't like him because of his attitude/decisions in AC2, so that's another barrier against him, but, hey, maybe he'll get better.  There's a whole two stories worth of Ezio left after all, since I've got this and will assuredly pick up Revelations at some later date simply because, while a bit uneasy about the AC games, I really just can't stop buying them.  And I have fun with them, despite my misgivings, so that's really all that matters.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I've Kind of Ruined Animal Crossing for Myself

With a PSP that's on the fritz, a month til the Vita drops, and a lackluster DS library, my options for portable gaming have been limited.  It doesn't help that I keep forgetting to check out DS games at GameStop whenever I go there, but that's another matter entirely.  So since I've disallowed Harvest Moon DS to ever grace my system again, I'm burnt out on Rune Factory still, and my other DS games are more or less "Played it, Beat it, Don't Care" (Castlevanias, GTA:  Chinatown Wars, etc.), I decided "Welp, guess it's time to go back to Guardia."  Guardia being the name of my town in Animal Crossing:  Wild World for DS.  I'd always considered going back to it, but, well, the game kind of encourages continued play through something resembling penalties for staying away.

In Wild World's case at least (As well as City Folk since the games are fairly interchangeable, don't know about the first game) if you're not around then nobody else will pick the weeds that constantly grow within the walls of your town.  For some reason.  This is an issue, of course, because it causes your town to devalue or something, nobody likes living there, and eventually you're stuck with a bunch of people moving out because the place is such a crapsack.  So when you do hop back in, you have quite a bit of work to do before you can get back to the daily grind of life in an Animal Crossing game.  So the first few hours that I spent playing, it was doing nothing but going around and pulling up weeds because yes it took that long.  I did discover, however, during my weed pulling that only one inhabitant of Guardia had moved out.  Who this person was, I don't recall, of course, nor did I get a letter, I think, so it was of no concern.  Replacing whoever it was was a new person already, a cat with the skin of an orange (not kidding) calling herself "Tangy".  I have been avoiding Tangy.

Of course, once I finally got things set up, there was only about an hour of play to be had in Wild World.  Look about for fossils and dig them up, have them appraised by the Owl working the Museum and pocket them for selling to Nook.  (Because I have pretty much all the Dinosaur skeletons put together already)  Grab a cup of coffee from the cafe under the Museum (despite having the avatar of a ~13 year old kid).  Start digging behind rocks and then smacking them to try and get bags of money (the holes being the thing holding you in place to get the max of seven bags).  Check the recycling for free items.  Visit the Able Sisters and check out their stock.  Go to Nook's, sell things, check the catalog and see if I haven't already had something the Sisters are selling.  Repeat for Nook's furniture stock upstairs.  Talk to villagers if I feel like it.  And finally, go home and go to bed so I can turn the game off.

It's very routine, unfortunately, because I can't seem to make Animal Crossing, er....not be routine.  Wandering the limited slice of a world you're given just isn't too much fun, I've given up fishing, and I can't bother talking to the other residents beyond what's necessary since residents of a similar personality seem to, er, say the exact same things.  And there's not that many different types of Personalities unfortunately.  As was evidenced by Roald (a penguin) and Tank (a rhino) who lived directly next to each other and were obsessed with working out.  While it was cool for the theme, since it made -sense- for them to live next to each other, they would oftentimes say the exact same thing to me after talking to the both of them, so it got a little less fun.  It was about when I started figuring this all out that I came to a very unnerving conclusion.

Animal Crossing is basically a Facebook game you play on Nintendo products.  It's kind of an outlandish claim at first, but the parallels are there.  It's built from the ground-up to be played in short bursts everyday.  Facebook games do this by having things happen in semi-realtime (Plants in Farmville only grow every few hours and such, Cafe World food takes hours to cook, etc.) and Animal Crossing does this by only having a limited amount of things you can do in a single day.  They both tend to change in the day-to-day while largely remaining the same. (Sales in the in-game shops corresponding to certain days, celebrating holidays and the like)  They both tend to have exaggerated art styles to cater to a wider audience.  The only big difference is that Facebook games tend to be made by undesireables with the intention of siphoning money out of you for bonuses which, to be fair, some game companies do anyway.  (See Bamco's Hyperdimension Neptunia's DLC)

I don't say this to be extremist or anything of that nature, nor is it a condemnation of Animal Crossing, as a lot of people see "Facebook Games" and instantly go to a bad place.  Which is natural, of course, but having played a few Facebook games in my day, I can't help but see the similarities and be annoyed by them.  After playing Mafia Wars for so long, it was less something I was playing and more something that I did because it was in my schedule which I can sort of how I see Animal Crossing capable of falling into.  And try as I might, I can't really think of a way for it to get out of that rut beyond actually introducing more game to it, but at the same time, I'm not sure about that, either.  With Animal Crossing played in real-time, there's only so much you can really put into the game, since you don't want to have enough content that people trying to do all of it every day will burn themselves out.  But you -want- your players to play your game for more than a couple token hours as well, which is what I imagine a lot of Animal Crossing players do unfortunately.  Perhaps Animal Crossing 3DS will offer a solution, but we won't be able to see until it's out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Platinum Get - Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 (Kind of)

In truth, as of writing this, I haven't gotten the Platinum trophy for Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 just yet, nor have I synchronized since my last play session, so anyone who would check my trophies -right now- (not, y'know, months from now) would see I'm only about 80% done with the game.  So why am I writing a "Platinum Get" post for a game that I have not, in fact, platinum'd?  Simple enough:  The platinum is child's play after what I did today.  What I did today being earning the "True Gundam Dynasty Warrior" trophy, the third of three gold trophies that the game has to offer.  How does one earn this trophy you ask?  Quite simply, it is earned by unlocking and beating every single other mission in the game.  This is a trying task as you might think, especially when certain missions aren't unlocked until you've taken one of the derp suits out (Zaku Tank, Ball, etc.) a number of times sometimes equaling 20, or used them enough to have shot down 1,000 other suits.

Only after those missions have been unlocked does one final mission that's likely been taunting you for 20+ hours now, if not longer, unlock itself, "The Return of the True Dynasty Warrior Gundam!".  It is a Ten-star mission that can only be played on Hard and it's not the first of that type, but this mission is not fucking around.  It is, in all honesty, the single-most difficult challenge the game has to offer which is, well, thematically appropriate, but frustrating at the same time.  I'm afraid this is one of those situations where I have to explain something to explain something else, so bear with me for a moment.  In DWG3's field-based nonsense, there are a few special fields that serve certain purposes, of them the most annoying are the Fortresses and the Missile Bases.  Fortresses cut down Morale/Effectiveness Loss when a negative thing takes place (failed a sub-goal, lost a pilot, lost a field, etc.) which is kind of an 'eh' effect, but the problem is that Fortresses are a bitch to take because while in the field for one, you're constantly being bombarded by, well, bombs.  Then Missile Bases are easier to take and you want to take them immediately because they have a very special and very annoying ability:  They launch missiles at opposing bases, surprisingly enough.  Guess what happens?

The field instantly falls.  Missile Bases are capable of hitting -any- base, including your HQ and the only way to stop a Missile after it's been launched is by taking the Missile Base field which is 99% of time easier said than done.  As far as I can tell, there is no rhyme nor reason to how and when a Missile Base fires, nor what it will target, but it doesn't matter if you just spent five minutes taking a Fortress, all it takes is that ten seconds for the Missile to get from the base to the Fortress and -bam- it is not yours anymore and you'll have to take it all over again.  Now, I'm sure you're all smart enough to figure out why I have gone so far as to explain these two specific structures, but I'm going to spell it out anyway.

The main issue with this mission is that the map is -always- the largest map in the game, and it -always- has two Fortresses and a Missile base in the same place.  The secondary issue with this map is that the two strongest suits in the game are present, the Musha Gundam and the Musha 2 Gundam (From Dynasty Warriors Gundam and Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 respectively) and always start -in- the Missile Base and always move -together-.  At ten-star hard mode difficulty, near any Ace Mobile Suit can wreck your shit but these two Gundams will especially rip your rectal cavity in half while it still exists in your body.  And the third issue is that, -somehow, someway- you will always lose your allied HQ before you can take any of the other essential fields which instantly depletes your Efficiency bar and prevents you from being able to redeploy.  (Granted, so does the loss of your HQ, but if you lose it with another essential base, it can be taken back without your gauge depleting completely)  Whether it's because somebody will catapult into the base and overwhelm it, or it'll just get hit by a fucking missile, you're going to lose your HQ and from then on, you're on your own.

I cannot tell you how many times I had to attempt this mission, but the number is definitely in the double-digits and it was an exceedingly infuriating exercise from start to finish.  I approached this, first, as a normal thing that was difficult, which I always take to with one simple solution:  Put Heero in the Wing Zero and set phasers to fucking genocide.  Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a way for it to work because Heero and the Wing Zero both excel in Projectiles which, the map does not really afford you the leisure of using.  So, naturally I decided to go to the other extreme and switch to Milliardo Peacecraft (as you might tell, I do have a certain affinity to Gundam Wing, being the only Gundam I've actually watched and all) with the Epyon since it does not, in fact, have projectiles whatsoever and is thereby more Melee-focused, as is Milliardo himself.  It, uh....it didn't work either.  Unfortunately, the Musha Twins just gave me too much trouble.

So naturally, I went with the "If you can't beat them, join them" philosophy and threw Milliardo into my very own tricked-out Musha Gundam.  With Maxed out Attack and Defense (alongside other quite high stats) as well as other enhancements, I figured it would be no issue.  I was still incorrect as you might guess, so I just went with the only thing I -could- do and switched to another Pilot that would do what I wanted.  I'm not sure how much Pilot stats actually effect anything, but Milliardo excels in Melee at the cost of Shot while taking up a bit of slack in Defense.  It wasn't good enough, so I went with the only other guy who was an option at that point.  Domon Kasshu, the star of G-Gundam, the King of Hearts himself.

Domon's Shot stat is abysmal, but his Melee and Defense stats are basically on par with each other and even at level 43, Domon's Melee stat was higher than Milliardo's at level 50.  I spent the entirety of the G (money) I had left training him up and still only made it to about 46, and then took a couple missions just to scrape together G for a couple skills for him.  And then I threw him in my Musha Gundam and this is where I tell you that I destroyed shit, right?  Well, no.  Even with Domon powered up sufficiently and with a Musha Gundam that was a boss machine, it still took me about half a dozen tries before I managed to perform the 'Perfect Storm' required to beat it.  By some miracle, I managed to defeat the Musha Twins (thanks to Special Attacks and well-placed Attack Up item drops) and proceeded to take the Missile Base, followed by the two Fortresses that finally pushed the effectiveness of the enemy down enough to get the commander to drop down.

Knight Gundam is the Musha equivalent for Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, so you'll understand why I was not surprised, yet still bothered, when it dropped down in the enemy HQ.  I'm not prepared to say it's -as- imposing as either Musha, especially when they're together, but Knight Gundam will still wreck your fucking day and move on, so it's not even like the worst was over when I beat the Musha Twins.  (Who, by the way, redeployed and proceeded to run amok, but away from me.)  Getting Knight Gundam to drop was the furthest I'd gotten in the mission during the half hour I spent slamming my head against the wall trying to beat it and thankfully I didn't have to make it that far a second time; the first time I got Knight Gundam to drop was the only time as I went into the base and kicked it down eventually.  It was very nerve-wracking as you might assume, and it has never been so satisfying to bellow "Ffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck yoooooooooooooooou" at my TV as it was when I finally beat this mission.

So what else do I have to do before I actually get this Platinum trophy?  Quite simply, I just have to play 100 missions online which won't be as difficult as it will be tedious, but even that should hopefully be negated by the pure fact that I will be playing those missions online with friends, or at least people who are a step above 'random dude' that I'll get matched up with if I just dove into the Online mode with abandon.  I think the number 100 definitely requests that you do as much, but I'm simply not going to because after this, after this whole grind that I went through, I would like to remember what it's like to enjoy Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3.  So that is what I'm going to do.  Someday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Personal Note - Some Stuff Lately

I really, really wanted to avoid having to make this post, since I figured I'd work through things without it being noticed, but it's just really not working and I think it's having a fairly adverse effect on my posts lately.  I really don't like to do a post like this since it's only going to be relevant now, but I guess a lot of posts are like that anyway, and I've learned recently that only by talking about things or actually putting them out there that I can really work through them.  So that's pretty much what this is going to be, and I apologize right now since it's very likely that this won't be interesting in the least and border on self-serving for the simple fact that I sort of believe actually coming out and saying it, putting it out there will help.  I guess I'm just a bit desperate for that by now.

Since the Tuesday before last, I've been single for the first time in five or six years.  It's....been going about as well as could be expected.  Which is not very.  It's sort of weird as it's not exactly new in a few senses; the relationship was long-distance, so it's not like I was waking up with someone, just the knowledge that there was -someone-.  On top of that, the last few months were fairly trying; to say communication was strained would be understating thing, so I pretty much felt alone in that aspect.  So I figured, y'know, when it was official, it wouldn't be that much different and let me tell you, I was wrong.  It wasn't really so bad at the start, really, as I actually was working on my Harvest Moon DS post before the ex and I had 'the talk' and while I was upset, I obviously ended up finishing it before shuffling off to the world of Youtube to console myself with Happy Wheels videos.

The day after, however, and truthfully a few days following, I simply did not want to get out of bed.  So....I didn't, at least not for a while, spending hours after waking up (far earlier than I am used to, by the by) just laying there, idly listening to the Television and thinking about nothing.  I lost a goodly bit of motivation unfortunately, and I personally think my last few posts haven't really been up to snuff which is more or less why I'm writing this now.  I don't know if you guys have noticed, but I certainly have and you know me, I have to acknowledge these things.  I've been getting a bit better about it, slowly, and the hope is that I'll get back to posts that I'm happy with soon, since I've at least still -wanted- to post and still -managed- to post which I am happy with at least.

It's hard to explain, I guess, in that my brain just isn't working the right way.  I use to be able to sit down, figure out what I want to write about and just go at it.  Any distractions were handled easily and I got back to it.  Now I find myself starting a post, finishing a paragraph and going off for half an hour to do something nonsensical so that when I come back I'm just in a completely different mindset.  It feels disjointed and I think it kind of translates, but again, maybe I'm just being a bit over-critical.  It's a bit to be expected that I'm thrown off my game, really, but accepting it just isn't good enough, frankly, since I want to just get back to how it was.  And I'm -going to-, but I don't know how long it'll take, so I guess the overall point of this is just to ask you guys to bear with me until I'm really back into the swing of things.  With any luck, it won't be much longer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reality Fighters - Less Real, More Interesting

So, the above image is pretty easy to identify and yes, it is exactly what you think it is.  That is Mr. Miyagi, built for a video game, with a Reality Fighters logo in the bottom right that suggests said game is, in fact, the previously overlooked Reality Fighters for the Playstation Vita.  That is the announcement that was made regarding Reality Fighters in the Playstation Blog today and to be completely honest, this is the thing that made me take notice of the game.  I'm not saying I'll buy it or anything, but it got my attention, so I'll be keeping an eye out when stuff for it comes out.  If there's a demo, I will likely download it because of this.  And I don't even really know why beyond it being something that's so -out there- that I can't help but not take notice of it.

In all reality (no pun intended) I don't believe I've even watched The Karate Kid (to be fair, I don't watch a lot of movies), so it's not like I have an attachment to Mr. Miyagi, or specifically Pat Morita, beyond thinking he was just a cool dude.  I just guess there's something to be said for having the guts to want something like this and actually go through with it, given that there are certain...issues involved with it.  Seeing as Mr. Morita passed several years ago, the usage of his likeness might be thought of as something approaching tasteless even if said usage likely has to be with the permission of his family.  On top of that, in his role of guide/sensei (fairly literally), there is a necessity for voice-overs which he is not in a position to do, meaning they had to bring in someone else.  That someone was Jim Ward who you have assuredly heard while playing several games.

I'm still not too sure on Reality Fighters itself as none of the video on it has been too flattering yet, but at the same time, the above model, which is the actual model I'm sure, looks miles away better than anything from them, so perhaps they were only showing off an early build of the game.  It certainly has the potential to be neat, with as much as it can do with alternate reality, and is likely aimed at being one of the more 'introduction to the Vita' games, since I believe it takes advantage of every single feature the Vita touts:  Front and back touchscreens, cameras, sixaxis, etc.  The problem I see is that it has a very deliberate casual air about it which is almost counter-intuitive these days.  You don't say "casual" and "fighting game" in the same sentence, since it's a very focused, very niche market if you think about it.  It's about on par with racing games, I'd say in the level of focus its market displays.  Having a lot of 'extra' equipment for the extra bit of an edge (Racing wheel, pedals for racing games, arcade stick for fighters) and the like.  Though with both genres, Nintendo's proved able to buck the trend and introduce casual with Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.  So perhaps I'm being a bit premature.

It kind of cycles between looking terrible and looking decent at the drop of a hat, and maybe it makes more sense actually playing it, but I really just don't know.  Only just a little bit of time until we find out for sure, but I'm not getting my hopes too high for it.  If nothing else, the customization looks like it's plenty of fun to toy around with, so I could definitely see myself playing around with it if I got the game for whatever reason.  Possibly on merit of it just being a Vita game and I'm going to want so many Vita games.  So many, you guys, you don't even know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Samurai & Dragons - Simple Name, Simple Pricing

It's come out today that the previously announced "Samurai & Dragons", presumably named for having both Samurai -and- Dragons in it, is going to have a very, very simple pricing scheme:  Free.  As in, the game itself, the game Samurai & Dragons is going to be a free game that you download and play.  For free.  Of course, it can't be that simple, so, much like these Free-to-Play MMOs out there, Sega is banking on making the bulk of their money on the game through micro-transactions.  The items that are being sold through said transactions aren't really apparent at the moment, but figuring that the majority of them are going to be purely (or mostly) cosmetic is a fairly safe bet.  On top of that, I imagine perhaps extra character slots, stat boosts, basically anything that you -could- want but isn't -vital-.

However, that's not the only interesting bit about it as Samurai & Dragons is also going to be sold....in a manner of speaking.  How do you sell a free game, you might ask?  Well, it's less that you're selling the game, but rather a stick with the game on it and voucher codes for a bunch of micro-transaction items.  Included in the retail version of S&D will be "four 100 CP tickets, four CP discount tickets, four commander tickets, four extra tickets, and four friend tickets".  If we do a little rough math, four times five is twenty, we could safely estimate the game will be $30-40 so that's $1.50-$2.00 per item, though that'd be more of an average and it's assuming the items are not discounted for being bundled together.  Generally, micro-transation things tend to range from fifty cents to about five dollars if I'm not mistaken, so that would pretty much fall in range and I'm sure there are several configurations that the above items could be priced at to fit in the normal $30-40 price range for a Vita game.

If we go on the knowledge that CP is the in-game currency for S&D (which it is), then the starter tickets in the retail bundle really start you up pretty well.  400 CP will likely help a lot depending on how much CP you get from raiding dungeons.  (The Siliconera article linked above suggests that the game is city-building and dungeon raiding so they likely support one another.  CP is likely used to buy buildings, upgrade things, etc.)  On top of that, the CP discount tickets sound to me like something you can use to apply a flat discount to the purchase of something that requires CP, so four of them means four separate occasions to use those 400 CP if it lasts that long.  The last three items, Commander, Extra and Friend tickets, I'm not even about to try and guess at, except for the "Friend" tickets might buy you a partner character that serves some sort of auxiliary purpose.  Other games do this by giving you Pet characters, though whether this would be for S&D or if you'd get more 'sidekick' types is up for debate until something more concrete comes through.

For me, I was getting the game as soon as I heard "Sega" and "Vita" in the same sentence.  That "Samurai" and "Dragons" were also in the same sentence was just icing on the cake of awesome.  Seriously, "Sega announces 'Samurai & Dragons' for the Playstation Vita" is just an amazing sentence and is full of everything I want except something to do with Skies of Arcadia or Valkyria Chronicles.  Though perhaps one of those things might come if we all support Sega in their crazy ventures on the Vita.  Who knows, we might even get Black Panther!  And hey, Samurai & Dragons might even be good so there's that too.  For the price of "Free", I'm suggesting that anyone with a Vita is likely to give it a shot, which is exactly what Sega wants.  Because for all those people who download the game, a good percentage of them might very well pump some money into it for some of those micro-transaction tickets.  Consider my interest rising for this game.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Warriors Orochi 3 Officially Coming to America

Earlier today, I just so happened to be informed that there is an official site up for Warriors Orochi 3 and that is Warriors Orochi 3 with a 3 and not a 2 meaning it's not something to do with, y'know, the Japanese release from a couple months ago.  Or last month.  Looking at the site, an ESRB logo is plain to see which, y'know, heavily suggested a North American release to me as I -think- the ESRB is just America's thing.  So I was super excited about that and then I went on Siliconera to find that yeah, it's officially a thing and just could not be happier.  For.....a few minutes until I took the time to actually read the news towards the end of the article.  Specifically the part that says...

Additionally, Tecmo Koei’s community manager in the UK mentions that Warriors Orochi 3 will only feature Japanese voices with English subtitles.

I'm honestly not too sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, I've played and enjoyed games with Japanese Voice-Overs before (granted, I think 100% of them were Yakuza games) and I do enjoy the language.  On the other hand, I can't understand it and while it's not -vital- to the enjoyment experience, I imagine I'll eventually miss -something- and will be constantly annoyed by that.  Also I'll be missing out on the awesome voice of Jamieson Price yelling as Lu Bu which is near worth the price of admission right there.  Still, it's not enough to prevent me from buying the game, happily at that, so it seems that it's a non-issue.  It's just a non-issue that I find myself grumbling about currently.

That we're actually, officially getting the game is pretty much enough for me to not care about much else, really.  While I didn't really doubt we -would- get it, having it confirmed is a load off my mind which is really, really helpful lately.  And from what I've seen, the game should be pretty neat on top of existing.  It's a direct continuation of Warriors Orochi 1/2's storyline in which the warriors, brought together by Orochi who has since been slain, are still stuck in Orochi's realm.  Years pass and the warriors find themselves fighting still and, of course, losing members along the way.  When the threat of a giant hydra rises up, the fractured remnants find they're no match for it and that is when a strange woman of mystery appears with the answer.  By going back in time to prevent the death of their foes and comrades alike, they can ensure their combined strength is where it needs to be when the Hydra strikes.  Perhaps with that foe defeated, they'll finally be able to return to their own times.  (I hope not)

There's really not a whole lot else to say.  The game has been fairly dramatically changed from 1/2, obviously, but I won't know the full extent of those changes until I have it in my hands.  I hope that all the guest characters are written in a bit coherently at least, but even if they're not, I probably won't care too much.  And is it too much to ask that the game didn't have to come out in fucking March?  Between Lollipop Chainsaw, Yakuza:  Dead Souls, this, and oh yeah, the fucking Vita, the front-end of this year is loaded with entirely too much stuff that I don't have money to buy.  And people were concerned that 2011 was going to have more than 2012.  Ha!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Games of 2011, The Games That Weren't My Games

Much like last year, there were several games that, while noteworthy, I simply didn't get into playing them for one reason or another.  Some because I didn't want to, some because I didn't get to, and some because I just didn't have the funds to justify getting it.  Luckily(?) this year I didn't really have any games that I just didn't get around to playing by some miraculous glut of purchases, so that's honestly one less section that I have to put in, however there's really only two sections that the games for this year to fit into for me.

No Ability


I actually keep forgetting about Terraria in every fashion for a multitude of reasons.  It's a PC-Exclusive game that will most likely remain that way, it seems like it's either completely entrenching one moment or completely off-putting another, and I actually own it, technically, but I can't play it because my PC is terrible and has no shaders to speak of in the graphic cards or something.  I know, really authorative on PC gaming specs, right?  Anyways, I got myself a Steam Profile a ways back as almost a cruel joke for myself since I'm not fooling anybody; I can't run shit on this machine.  And shortly after that, I was handed a copy of Terraria and it was going to be fun times because I mean, look at Terraria, it doesn't need -shit- to run, right?  Wrong.  It needs more than I have, which means it's....well, completely untouchable to me for now.

It's unfortunate as, like I said, at times Terraria looks like the kind of game I personally would sink -hours- of my life into when in the right mood, as, despite the lack of 3D space to work with, Terraria compensates by having a lot of 'fluff' items to decorate with.  Dummies that you can put full suits of armor on for display, statues, varied pieces of furniture, etc. the possibilities are already numerous and growing more and more with every update.  It's out-paced Minecraft in that department by quite a bit already and has the added benefit of, well, being more of a game than Minecraft unfortunately.  While I'm not one to needlessly compare the games, as the internet seems wont to do, there are striking similarities and in brutal honesty, Terraria is a more realized game and feels like it's actually past release.  It has actual NPCs rather than placeholders, actual boss fights, plural, rather than only one, and definite 'post-game' content that shapes the world around your character and their designs.

However at the same time as the above, there is only so much that you can do with a single plane of input.  (Well, two as there's a background layer for walls)  You can make things that look kind of neat, you can make overly elaborate towers and tall buildings to compensate for the single plane and....that's about it.  There's not really the expansive feel that you get with 3D terrain.  I mean just look at this video of a series called "Medieval Minecrafting" in which one DurandalofAegis proceeds to make a gigantic castle in Minecraft.  There's a real feel of scale that I really don't think you can recreate in a solely 2D environment.  Maybe I'll get proven wrong, and there is obviously merit alone to Terraria itself, merit that I would've loved to explore personally, but I just couldn't.

Star Wars:  The Old Republic

Another PC offering (as will likely all the 'no ability' games be), The Old Republic and the upcoming Phantasy Star Online 2 caused me to really really consider my position on MMOs because they are both games that I would really like to play.  I'm just not sure -how much- though, as I wouldn't want to pay for the privilege of playing the game I bought with other monies, and that's really a stance I'm not planning on wavering on.  We'll see if that stands when I actually have a computer that could play either game, as I suspect I might buckle under the weight of being able to play something with my Li'l Sis (TOR) or being able to play a PSO game online for the first time after missing out all those years ago on Dreamcast.  All venues that I would consider listening to suggest that TOR is actually something to keep an eye on and to play and, most importantly, enjoy, but I am not really the best judge of these things.  Still, after great enjoyment with the Knights of the Old Republic games, it would be nice to give TOR the ol' college try.


Still.  Goddamnit.

No Hurry

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While it may be considered blasphemy in some places, I don't think Skyrim would have placed very high on my GotY list even if I had played it.  Regardless, I didn't and the reasoning is quite simple:  There's no need to buy Bethesda games at launch.  I have made this point again and again and will continue to make it until it proves to be mis-truth.  The games are generally riddled with bugs that may or may not render some future additions completely untouchable if not just generally hamper your experience, and they will invariably always get some form of expansion packs that are then bundled in when the game goes "Game of the Year Edition" the following year.  And all the reasons to play it, the expansive maps, the stories, but main and side, and the actual experience of the gameplay?  Those will all still be there when you pick up the game a year down the line at a discount with content that people had to shell out half the games value to get additionally.

Regardless, I find it hard to be anything more than a little charmed with the openness and such of Bethesda worlds that so entrench others.  I have fond memories of Morrowind and Oblivion, but they're only of dicking around which you could generally do in most games.  While the specifics might be exclusive to these games, the general vibe is not, nor can it be, so it' not something to really tout.  For instance, the most fun I had with Morrowind was getting it on PC, using the glitch that let you make spells that would permanently buff your stats to make a super dude and then going around and assassinating the guards of the land with shurikens until 1) I died or 2) the game crashed.  Similarly in Oblivion, I had a lot of fun just killing people to throw them into rivers and the like and specifically causing trouble in the district of the Imperial City where the Thieves Guild meets for initiation; hopping up on those rooftops and taunting guards and civilians that happen to be annoyed at you while they just stare at you in impotent rage, it's a pretty good feeling.  Yet not feelings specifically found only in Bethesda games.

Portal 2

I hate to do it, but I gotta be that guy.  I didn't really care for Portal which is no doubt partly caused by the overexposure I and the rest of the internet was subjected to after its massive success.  I gave it a try, played until I couldn't, which meant I didn't beat it, and just couldn't be bothered to care.  Even when I saw the rest of the game via two different Let's Plays I couldn't care.  I realize that's just my own personal thing here and no representative of popular opinion or of even an opinion that you should have, but I can't really lie about it.  And as far as I can tell, Portal 2 promised from day one to be more of the same but bigger and 'better', so I basically just had to write it off to a later date.  I'll give it a try just like the first Portal and since the internet hasn't exploded with memes from the game, hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it a bit more.

Batman:  Arkham City

Much like Portal 2 being more of the same of Portal 1, Arkham City had been described as more of the same of Asylum but, again bigger and 'better' which...just isn't very appealing to me.  I didn't dislike Arkham Asylum, but when I beat it I was very much done with it.  I had done the bulk of the side stuff already, so when the game dumped me back into it after the final boss fight, I could only walk around for a little bit before I shrugged and moved on.  I can't tell what it is, but Arkham Asylum was just one of those games that, while I was playing it, it was awesome and I couldn't get enough until I was finished, and then when I was finished, I just couldn't be bothered to have anything more to do with it, as I said.  It wasn't like the combat wasn't great - it was.  It wasn't like the characters, the acting weren't wonderful and nostalgic - they were.  It just was not a game made with replayability in mind to me, which is a bit rough considering one of the two(?) trophies I had left was to play the game through again on hard.

Like the rest of them, I'll play Arkham City one day.  That day is just undetermined and very much in the future.

And finally one last game that wasn't my game of the year and I'm going to give it its own section.

Don't Hate Me, Chance

Dark Souls

I assure you there is a very, very simple reason for why I didn't play Dark Souls this year, nor will I for a while yet:  I haven't played Demon's Souls yet.  I know I was talking about starting that up months ago, going so far as to even plan out my character far in advance, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  Other games take priority over one that's going to stab me repeatedly in the throat while I am learning its ways, I'm afraid, and me being weird as I am, I can't let myself play the sequel before the original even if they have nothing to do with one another.  It's just not a thing I can do, and I would suggest that I suffer for that as others might suggest as well.  While I am assured that Dark Souls is a very good game, I have only been able to muster a wary eye towards it, wanting to know of its ways, yet not wanting to be spoiled on too much of it.  I want just that right amount of preparedness for when I step into its world that I might learn the hard knocks without suffering the easy ones as well.

While there's a few other games that could make this list, these are pretty much the note-worthy games here.  There's really no ill will towards any of them, just not any particularly high level of excitement, either.  And if we know one thing about me it's that that's what I crave:  games that excite me.  Whether it be for the concept alone (Lollipop Chainsaw) or the promise of something I already like, but refined (Like, every sequel this past year that I played), I have to feel something for the game before I want to exchange currency to hold it in my hands.  It'll be a dark day indeed if I lose that feeling, but I really, really doubt that day will ever come, which is something to be quite thankful for.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Progress Report - Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3

As I have often said and lamented in the past, the 'Warriors' line of games have a very japanese design in their trophy layout in that they just want you to squeeze every last drop of gameplay out of the thing before it tosses a bit of Platinum your way.  So with that in mind, as I have done in the past, I figure I should kinda air out my thoughts on Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 now that I'm 55 hours into it and knee-deep in "I just don't give a shit" anymore regarding some of the complaints I had.  Not that I've accepted them, I just don't care now; they don't even register in my head now that I have this goal of getting shit done because that is my focus now.  I want that 19th Platinum trophy for the non-existent Trophy Shelf in my Playstation Account's nebulous representation of these accomplishments.  Would've been a lot nicer if that Trophy Case thing for Home ever panned out but, well, it also would've been a lot nicer if a lot for Home had panned out properly.  But that's a whole other issue entirely.

Now, a good portion of the trophies has been, much like Dynasty Warriors 7, about collecting things.  Collecting Mobile Suits, Characters, Pilots (which is different than characters because some of the Characters are non-playable and only have an entry in the Gallery), Movies, Music and Sounds all have a trophy attached to it, I believe, and they've been pretty much easy to get.  No real going out of the way to get them, no dramatic goal that is, yes, part of another trophy but practically in its own league (Looking at you Consensus Builder), just things you'll get naturally.  That's been fairly nice at least.  Another one of those has been gathering all the licenses for the main Mobile Suits (of which, most are proper Gundams) so that anyone* can pilot them rather than just their intended pilot or pilots depending on the suit itself. 

*Anyone who is a Newtype/Cyber-Newtype at least, as some suits are Newtype specific.

The licenses are mostly useless from my perspective since if I like a suit, I generally like the Pilot as well (Gundam Wing Suits/Pilots minus Trowa, Char and his Zaku II, Domon and the Burning Gundam) and beyond that, the only reason to play as someone I didn't care for/didn't know was to get their license which required them being in their suit and not one that I bought for another suit.  That'll change now that I'm grinding for friendship and not licenses (have to use the suit five times before it's purchasable) and it'll be nicer to use my better suits with Pilots I don't generally care for, but that just makes the licenses for the Gundams I don't like double-useless.  Why would I use the V2 Gundam, for instance, when I have a much better Epyon that's just -right there- ready for me to use?  I wouldn't.  Nobody would.  Because the V2 is pretty terrible aside from a fairly spectacular special attack.

The real bone of contention I've found is with the structure of unlocking missions since it basically relies on other missions being unlocked which, in turn, require other missions to be unlocked.  To that end, I currently have no new missions.  Literally none that I have not completed save for one missions that I can see that is not unlocked because I have not completed all other missions.  The reason I don't have any new missions is because the ones I need are locked for whatever reason meaning that I have to do something before I unlock and do a mission that will invariably unlock another mission leaving me to then need to do something else for yet another mission to unlock more missions.  The bulk of the problems here is with the History missions as I need certain pilots to have a certain friendship level before I can do them or before they'll even show up for me to find out how I need to unlock them.  It's a cyclical problem that I seem to stumble across in several games and it never gets any less frustrating.

Regardless, I think that, working with relationships will basically fill in the rest of my game for me and considering that's the step I'm on, it should be easy enough to finish off.  Unfortunately, that won't be the end of it as there is the little matter of the Online Mode which requires you to actually play missions over the internet.  No workaround either, no setting up a private match and playing before your reserve slot comes in as those kills, that victory won't count towards the eventual 1,000 Shot Down and 100 completed missions you have to do for all the trophies.  I think I'm going to reserve those for a later day with a friend rather than working with some pubs about the internet for them.  So all in all, the road to being finished with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is technically pretty short or super long depending on how hard it'll be to up these remaining friendships.  Hopefully it'll go by quickly and then after that, I'll just have to wait til I can have a buddy work with me for 100 missions.  Which isn't a slog at all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh, Come On Nintendo!

Keen-eyed readers might recognize the above shot from the upcoming Pokemon + Nobunaga's Ambition that still doesn't have a better title because of the clear-cut tactics game layout it shows with Pokemon and a Japanese fan above the X button.  But, apparently Nobunaga's Ambition wasn't the first series pitched to Nintendo for a collab project.  If you guessed the first attempt was KOEI's most successful franchise in Dynasty Warriors, you would be correct, but Nintendo shot down the idea because it was 'too violent' to have in conjunction with Pokemon.  A game all about pokemon beating each other up was too violent for pokemon, a game all about pokemon beating each other up (at their trainer's orders).  Now, come on Nintendo you're not even trying here.

While I see the fact that Pokemon Tactics (that's what I'm calling it now) is likely more marketable to the world as a whole than Dynasty Warriors:  Pokemon and that's likely why Nintendo passed on DWP (either to force KOEI to bring up the strategy franchise of Nobunaga's Ambition or just leave them alone)  I can't accept that logic because it doesn't make sense.  I mean, like I said before, the entirety of Pokemon is built on your character walking atop a pile of corpses unconscious foes that he has made that way on the way to the Pokemon League to challenge the top Trainers in the land who got there by excelling in using their pokemon to beat up everyone else's pokemon.  It is a game all about violence and using it to solve your problems and that isn't changed by the fact that it does so without shedding a drop of animated blood.  There's episodes of the Pokemon anime that are more 'disturbing' for 'violence' than anything in standard DW gameplay for the sheer fact that you just sometimes see Pokemon getting wailed on by humans or other 'Mons.

Regardless, you all know me so the fact that I would buy the shit out of Pokemon Warriors is no surprise, and now knowing of its possible existence leads me to wonder just how it could've played out.  Would it be like Pokemon Tactics with Three Kingdoms dudes having their own Pokemon that they send out into battle to decide the fate of China?  Or would the Three Kingdoms guys themselves be represented by Pokemon?  That might be a little difficult, I'm sure, as I'm not quite sure there's a Pokemon awesome enough to be a Lu Bu analog, nor could I even imagine trying to replace any member of the DW cast with an existing Pokemon.  I can't help but wonder if maybe they'd go with some sort of middle-ground where the Three Kingdoms guys actually used the Pokemon in different ways - the example that comes to mind being Lu Bu riding a Rapidash into battle to replace Red Hare.  Stuff like that, though I'm not quite sure how well it'd work out on that, either.

I mean, I can acknowledge that it's a tough sell, but like I said to my friend, "Scyther's moveset would be awesome.  Can you just imagine Scyther taking down like ten Pidgeys at once with a single swipe?  I CAN.  AND IT'S AWESOME."  It boggles the mind how much awesome there stands to be here if Nintendo had been willing to give it a shot and instead we're left with a Tactics game that doesn't really look like it has a whole lot to do with the Sengoku Era aside from being, well, set in it.  I guess there's not a lot wrong with that and maybe it's just something that's really told outside of battle rather than in it, but I'd like to see a little more.  Though I guess that's what trailers are for!

The trailer shows off a little more gameplay alongside Japanese audio that I have absolutely no idea where to even begin suggesting what it's saying and, as I said, it pretty much just looks like Pokemon Tactics set in the Sengoku Era.  I'm still seeing a bit of the idea that every member of the time has their 'own' pokemon (Newly shown off in 'pairing' was Chosokabe Motochika with Oshawott and some guy I don't recognize with Smugleaf Snivy) as if you notice during the bit that starts at around 0:32, Pokemon are plopped down on the board with different era-members showing up thereafter, notably Sanada Yukimura following the placement of a Tepig (Which could by all means be his 'pairing' as I have yet to really see one for him) after Toyatomi Hideyoshi following the placement of a Chimchar which is the first form of Infernape which has been shown off as Hideyoshi's partner.  (Which might be further evidence to the previous idea of Yukimura/Tepig or, perhaps the Tepig line.)

There's still a lot of questions that'll get answered eventually, I guess.  I'm interested in seeing how it all works out, as I wonder just what degree of control the player will be able to have for the battles; will he/she be able to control everyone on his/her side, or simply his/her Eevee or whatever it evolves into?  How does evolution play up into this whole partner situation they've sort of billed the game next to?  I'm sure, by it's own merits, the game will be a fairly fun game, but I still can't help but wonder what might have been now that I know Pokemon Warriors had been on the table.  Man.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Woah Now, Europe

Stop getting all this shit I want, okay?  I mean, I know we Americans are kind of spoiled with releases since we get things when you generally don't but, well, these are things I want.  Earlier today, a Tecmo KOEI community manager mentioned the fact that Warriors Orochi 3 will see a European release, though it was not, y'know, confirmed quite yet.  Notice that it was, indeed, called Warriors Orochi 3 because it will be the third proper Warriors Orochi game outside of Japan where it, much like Dynasty Warriors, has been quite funky with its naming of the iterations of the series, leading our Warriors Orochi 2 to only be considered an expanded version, thus making our Warriors Orochi 3 their Warriors Orochi 2.  It's all quite confusing and brought about by quite dumb things, but oh well, that's just sort of how it flies.

My interest in Warriors Orochi 3 is very well documented and I never really -doubted- a version with English would get released, considering this would be a mainline release which we get fairly consistently.  I just never imagined that English would mean, well, English, as in from the UK.  I still don't think it'll come to that, but if it does, then I guess I'll just have to jump into this whole importing thing with both feet, because I am going to get this damn game one way or another.  It's apparently the closest I'm going to get to play Samurai Warriors 3 on PS3 in English, so I guess that's all I've gotta think about when I go for it.  (Tangentally related, Samurai Warriors 3 is getting a PSP version which means it's going to stay in Japan, obviously.  They can port the game to everything under the sun, but not localize it?  Makes total sense, of course.)  Aside from that, I love the Warriors Orochi series, as I've said before, for the simple fact that it goes crazy with mystical stuff, screwing with the timelines and relationships and doesn't even care.  I can respect that.

You would think that with me playing so much Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 that I'm actually grumbling about random things with it (Like it having -9- missions that are the same as every other mission with guaranteed aces that have to be played on hard for no reason other than to pad it out some) that I would be a little tired of Warriors news.  Or, maybe you know me and wouldn't think that at all, because I am very obviously a Warriors sponge and I soak this shit up and can't wait for more.  I'll keep an eye out for an official announcement regarding overseas release, but I would imagine at least the PAL release is concrete and a NA release would be right behind it.  With any luck, KOEI will be brilliant and release it right after/before One Piece:  Pirate Warriors and something else to flood the market with KOEI games and then wonder why only some of them get bought, instead of reasonably releasing them at something resembling a good pace.  Because why would they do that, that would be sensible!

In other "Getting a European release but no word of American release" news, Way of the Samurai 4 is finally getting released outside of Japan 'sometime this year'.  It seems a bit late and all, since WotS4 has been out for quite a while already, but, hey, any chance for us to get our hands on it is a good one because of just how different the games are.  I imagine Way of the Samurai 4 is a little....errr...more realized in this gen than 3 was by any measure as well, which should make things a bit nicer for it on the whole.  Just the picture above is miles and away better than how 3 looked at some points, possibly even its best, but that's fairly expected from something that was sort of realized as a budget title anyway.

Still, as I mentioned, the amount of choice and the way the story conforms around your choices is pretty much unmatched by any other game out there.  Sure, it's not very long if you're just looking to get a couple stories down, but if you are the type who wants to (or has to because of trophies) get into everything, these types of games will give you endless hours of content that, at times, will always seem a bit new to you, if just because something different than the norm, or what you expected to happen, happened.  Those subtle little details are taken into account always, and especially so with 4, as it seems your choices might directly impact the next time you play as well.  So not only does what you do build the story, it also shapes your next one which likely means that much more possibility.  I'm not sure how it works, but it's interesting, at least on the surface.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mortal Kombat Announced for the Vita, "Oh, right, that", Says Mogs

Remember waaaay waaaay back before the Vita was the Vita and, in fact, before it was even the NGP?  When talks about it were mere whispers in the night and rumors of its prowess were sort of leaked by Netherrealm Studios who, presumably, had a prototype version of the device to work with?  I didn't.  I completely forgot all about it.  So when Joystiq featured an article with the box art for Mortal Kombat on the Vita, I had, initially, a moment of "Oh, wow, that's neat." followed directly by "Oh, yeah, I knew that already".  Because, well, I did, we all did.  We knew it because Netherrealm knew it and were a bit loose about everything since as we know, the Vita is indeed "powerful" and it is a thing that exists and is a thing that will run Mortal Kombat where the 3DS will not.

Regardless, Mortal Kombat for the Vita is definitely a thing and in quite a big way, honestly.  Apparently the game will feature, at the very least, the PS3-Exclusive Kratos and the other DLC characters released for the console versions, but is also fairly likely to include other bits and pieces of DLC such as the classic skins and the like.  Perhaps not a voucher for the Mortal Kombat movie through PSN, but, well, I think we'll manage.  Just saying.  On top of that, however, we're promised some new features that will, presumably, be exclusive to the Vita version for at least a little while, maybe, but nothing's really explicitly said or set in stone.  We'll just know when they announce it.  Or someone blabs about it.  Whichever comes first.

I admit that my interest, my vigor for Mortal Kombat spiked for a while there when the game was just being shown off, not released, and the Mortal Kombat Legacy shorts were Machinima's big Friday draws, and for good reason since they were pretty awesome or at least the first half.  Unfortunately, my excitement did die off quite fast, so much so that I actually forgot to finish watching Legacy.  Not like I -can't-, but I just haven't, which I guess is telling for the fact that I'm not really all about it at the moment.  Not maliciously or anything, of course, I just can't be bothered with fighting games as a base, and even something as iconic as Mortal Kombat has to do a lot to stir me.  That may change, however, since it seems that the Vita is the place to go with Fighting games - the current list includes BlazBlue, Tekken x Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom and Reality Fighters announced, with versions of Dead or Alive and Soul Calibur quite likely in my opinion.

Anyways, thanks to its successful resurgence, Mortal Kombat is a fairly big name again (Man, who saw that coming?) so this is a pretty big boon (no pun intended) for the Vita.  It's nice to have some fairly objectively good news about the system since the gaming media seems to like bashing anything non-Cell Phone Mobile Game (I said iOS initially, but that's not all of it) for months before it actually comes out.  Depending on the price and how much it packs in compared to its console counterparts, I might just pick this up as I was really quite interested in the game as I said.  That I never followed up on it is hardly a surprise, but hell, that's just what time does, I guess.  Makes you do things you never planned on doing, or makes things happen that you couldn't have expected to happen.  And that's....well, that's not cryptic code for other things going on at the moment at all, no siree.

For what it's worth, I should say that Mortal Kombat seems interesting for reasons beyond "It's Mortal Kombat!  Again!" and "It's Mortal Kombat!  But Shiny!", going so far as to say "It's Mortal Kombat!  With a -good- combat system!" and "It's Mortal Kombat!  With polish!".  (I'll stop typing It's Mortal Kombat! now.)  That is to say that it looks like it was a real labor of love to put the game together rather than the iteration of the series that had come out just prior in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe which was, well, a pair-up doomed to fail.  There's no conceivable way that Superman, for instance, could've been ripped apart or decapitated even before DC insisted that their characters not be treated as such, so not a whole bunch could've been expected from it.  Still, I imagine that Mortal Kombat is just going to be one of those things that you can't help but notice since it's very likely that you grew up with it.  (Even if you weren't 'supposed' to.)

Update!:  Well, it certainly didn't take long to get a little extra information.  Thanks to an interview with Ed Boon over at the Playstation Blog, there's a few things that've been extrapolated on a bit.  First off, and I think this is probably the most important thing to mention here, is that the game will be locked at 60 FPS, much like the console counterpart.  FPS is obviously a very important thing for Fighting Games, so to hear right out that they made sure on that, well, that's a good thing.  On top of that, it's been confirmed that all the content from the PS3 version (story modes, Challenge tower, etc.) will be on the Vita version alongside the new things, of which will include an entirely new Challenge Tower for the Vita, designed specifically around the things the Vita has to offer.  Touch Screen features, Accelerometer/Sixaxis, etc. will all have a place, minus the Rear Touch Panel.  The number '150' came up in relation to Challenge Tower missions, but I don't know if they're necessarily for the Vita-Exclusive one or not.  And, finally, there will obviously be Multiplayer for the Vita in both Ad-Hoc and Wi-Fi Infrastructure varieties, so fighting game fans all around the world will be able to challenge each other as if there were just a controller in their hands.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ragequit - Harvest Moon DS

Now, I have been known to vocally enjoy the seemingly-droll games that encompass the Harvest Moon series and its spin-offs, so the fact that I'm playing one should never be a surprise.  The fact that I'm outright refusing to play one of the titles should be one, however, and that's just what I have to do with Harvest Moon DS for being one of the most buggy things I've ever had the misfortune of dumping dozens of hours into to only have it lost.  There's more bugs (or if not more, then at least more devastating) in this damn thing than a Bethesda game and that's -saying- something.  What makes it worse is the fact that the game offers quite a lot and it's not inherently bad, but for the fact that you most likely -will- lose your game in a way that makes it unrecoverable is damning in a way that most games won't ever be party to.

I'll break it down right now and let you know just how you can and will lose your Harvest Moon DS game:  The saving system.  That might be obvious, but it's the bug with the almost innocuous, everyday application of the system that other games have that makes it so dangerous.  At any time, provided you're not in conversation, event or Holiday, you can move to the data screen on the bottom screen and save it in one of the two files available.  It's just that simple, and that's what everyone loves, is a simple saving system.  However, you'll find guides for the game online, or even just advice pieces around online that tell you to save in areas that have no movement on-screen.  Why is that?  It's because if there's something moving on-screen while the game saves, that save will just become corrupt and any attempt to load it will return an unsuccessful message.

That's not the only problem, however, as there is a specific freezing glitch associated with another glitch that is very, very easily activated which makes absolutely no sense.  Apparently in the winter, if you hire the fishing team to fish at the beach and then go down and cast your own fishing rod for a couple seconds, there's a chance that, when the Mayor comes to take your shipments for the day that an exorbitant amount of money that tops out at A Billion Gold will be put into your account.  It seems almost 'perfect storm'-ish as a scenario but I assure you it's very easy to trigger it on accident.  And, in my experience, if you save when you have that Billion Gold in your account, you're not loading that game anymore.  When you try and load it, it just freezes up and the sound that plays stutters and such, and your only recourse is turning off the DS entirely.  So all that work, unless you've been using both slots to save (which you shouldn't be forced to do), is gone.  Unsurprisingly, that's what happened to me and it's the reason that Harvest Moon DS is getting shelved permanently.

It sucks a lot really, because Harvest Moon DS is sort of the last resort I've got when it comes to Harvest Moon games.  I have Rune Factory, and the lot of you know I've gone on and on about those, but they're spin-offs, pure and simple.  I could play Harvest Moon:  Boy & Girl on my PSP, which takes Back to Nature and the Girl version and puts them both together on a single UMD, but Back to Nature takes place in Mineral Town with all of Mineral Town's characters who I am, frankly, a little tired of.  In my playings of Harvest Moon 64, Back to Nature (via Boy & Girl) and Friends of Mineral Town, I've married Karen, Popuri, Ann and Mary more times than I care to remember, and developed more friendships with the same denizens of the Town over and over again than I've formed actual friendships in real life.  I have exhausted Mineral Town of all it has to offer and thus need to move along.

On top of that, Harvest Moon DS actually brings quite a few good, or at least decent, ideas to the table that vary things quite a bit.  With a few extra types of buildings available, not to mention the fact that you can decide their design (sort of) and their placement, that alone opens more doors and windows for variety, and variety is always a welcome thing for HM games as a whole to have.  Joining the usual roster of animals you can raise are ducks, which require you to have a Pond (a new 'building') put into your farm who give off eggs that sell for more than Chicken eggs on the whole, but they only produce them every other day.  Another new source of income (in theory, at least) is a Mushroom Shed that you can buy if you like having something around that won't start to pay for itself for like two or three seasons afterward.  Basically, it's a shed that comes with six slats, you put lumber on those slats, seed them with mushroom seeds and water them everyday for, again, months (In Havest Moon games, generally your 'months' are your seasons.  30 days of Summer, 30 Days of Spring, etc.) and eventually you'll be able to pick off a mushroom.  After the initial one, you'll be able to get one every few days, and if you leave them on and continue watering them, the mushrooms will go up to Medium or even Large size to, obviously, sell for more.

Alongside that, the new ways to up the affection that your animals have for you is welcome, if not executed well.  Using the "Touch Gloves", any action you would take with your animal (petting, brushing, milking or shearing basically) is turned into a scored mini-game and some of the mini-games lead to gaining up to three times the amount of affection you would normally gain.  Granted, that three times means three points over one and a single heart (the measure of affection, they can get up to 10, I believe) is 100 points, but like I said, it's a good idea in theory and not execution.  That the mini-game is entirely optional is the good point, of course, since any action taken without the Touch Gloves equipped is just as normal as it is in any other Harvest Moon game - same efforts, same results.  That the mini-games basically entail "Rub your stylus on the screen really really fast" is also a detracting factor from them, but it honestly would be mitigated easily if the gains weren't abysmal.

Also fairly interesting about HMDS is that there's literally three different casts of women that you can marry, as opposed to just the normal roster of five or so that you generally get.  That is one cast, obviously, and it features Celia, the fair farmhand with a fragile bill of health, Lumina, the rich girl with a curious streak, Muffy, the resident bar girl with a bit too much hot air in her head, Nami, the rough-and-tumble traveling girl, and Flora, the archaeologist's apprentice.  They're your normal group of varied girls who live and work in Forget-Me-Not Valley to cater to varied tastes of the players, and 90% of the time, you're likely going to go for one of them.  However, keen-eyed readers might notice the above picture of the Witch Princess features a little out-of-place black heart as well, and if you know that the Heart System features only with women you can marry, you might just wonder about this a bit.

The second cast of women that you can marry in the game is actually the more 'fantasy' themed ones that features the Above-Pictured Witch Princess, resident 'evil' character, the returning Harvest Goddess who is sent to another dimension at the start of the game and can only be brought back by unlocking 60 Harvest Sprites during the course of the game by performing various tasks, Keira, who is apparently a "Sleeping Beauty" reference that lives at the bottom of a 255-floor mine, and a Mermaid that's being kept in the resident Mad Scientist's basement.  No, I didn't make any of that up, yes it's a little crazy.  The common theme with those few is that if you want to get with them, you're going to have to put in a lot of extra effort.  The Mermaid is almost the exception to that, as you really only have to befriend the Mad Scientist Daryl so he'll let you go into his basement, and he is a fan of the wild colored grasses that grow about the valley regularly, but the Harvest Goddess' hand requires that you ship one of every single item in the game among other things.  It's not a pleasant thought.

And finally, the third cast is the returning cast from Mineral Town, which is apparently just a short walk away from Forget-Me-Not Valley.  Their inclusion is one of those 'neat' little things that you'll likely miss out on anymore, as it requires a copy of Friends of Mineral Town and a DS that has a GBA slot to keep it in.  All five women have their own schedules that take them into Forget-Me-Not Valley a day or two out of every week so that you can talk to them and give them gifts to win their affections.  That's not the only time they come around, of course, but I'm fairly certain you can't woo them without the linked method explained above, and if not then the alternative would be quite tedious.  There are obviously a few ticks against going after them, however, as you might be like me and simply be jaded with them, but even more importantly is the fact that marrying one of them means relocating to Mineral Town which will end the game right there.  I don't know why you necessarily have to move to Mineral Town, but that's how the game handles it and no there's not something that carries over into Friends of Mineral Town if you do so.

After reading this over once, I've realized that the tone is entirely too positive, so I think I need to throw down some of the other annoyances I have besides the few I've mentioned.  First off, saving the Harvest Sprites is a tedious, terrible, game-padding move that detracts from the game more than it adds, despite the obvious.  In previous games, you could hire the Harvest Sprites to do various jobs around your farm that you didn't want to do, or possibly couldn't do (like event days, the birth of a child, etc.) and they retain that role in HMDS....after you bring them back from the other dimension that the Witch Princess inadvertently sent them to directly after the Harvest Goddess. 

This is done by doing various things attached to their particular team, so for example, to bring back a member of the Fishing Team, you have to fish up a certain amount of fish before he comes back somehow, and for another sprite like a sprite from the Collection Team, you have to chop up a certain amount of logs found around the Valley or so.  It sounds simple, but the requirements get way over-the-top for many of them, of which one of the more egregious examples being a member of the TV Team won't unlock until you ship 100,000 of a single item.  Other sprites won't unlock until you acquire Mystic versions of tools which can only be gotten after upgrading every single tool to Mystrile level, unlocking the third mine (which requires getting to the bottom of the 255-floor second mine), finding the cursed version of the tools and then paying a Priest to remove the curse from it.  That's practically a quest in itself and that's only for a handful of Sprites.

Possibly the worst part of it is that half the game of any Harvest Moon game is interacting with the folks about town, so the fact that the denizens of Forget-Me-Not Valley are, in fact, quite forgettable is bothersome.  Characterization is not very strong here despite the fact that the character list includes an android Doctor (or at least a Doctor with a T-1000 eye replacement), the afore-mentioned Mad Scientist, a darling old married couple, and a hulking artist with a fondness for 'modern' interpretations that aren't commonly seen in the Harvest Moon vistas.  Still, even with those, none of them are interesting enough to warrant peeking at, especially when the timing system in the game seems a little sped up from previous iterations.  Less time to do more in a day doesn't bode well, after all, in life or a game simulating life.

Money is either entirely too hard or entirely too easy to get in the Valley, depending on whether or not you know the 'tricks' to making a quick buck.  Normal fare of grabbing up the stuff that grows in the wild and selling that next to crops you grow isn't going to get you very far, and when everything is as expensive as it is (building-wise, at least, which is basically all you need to spend money on), that can lead to not getting a whole lot of satisfaction out of the game.  Even going to the mines and mining a lot of ores doesn't quite pay the bills properly (at least, I don't think it did, or not proportionally to the amount of effort used) so you have to wonder just how in the hell you're supposed to get anywhere.  And while it's not 'the' method, there is 'a' method involving Van, a traveling merchant who wanders into the Valley on every day of the month that ends with a 3 or an 8.  Van sells quite a few things of interest, but the more interesting aspect of his usage is that he buys things -from- you, and apparently has a fondness for accessories.  A Red Cape that can be gotten from the Harvest Sprites for 65k or so medals can be sold to him for a price that fluctuates in the 400k-600k range and the slight pieces of jewelry that can be dug up in the main dig site that leads to the mines can be sold for a few thousand G a piece.  It doesn't feel right and it's fairly cumbersome, but it'll get you what you need.

I guess if I had to describe it in a few strokes or condense what I've already said here, it's that Harvest Moon DS obviously has a few good ideas, but the overall handling of not only them, but some core mechanics of the game (not mentioned so far is the fact that Stamina and Fatigue do not go long -at all-) is fairly poor.  Adding to that the game-crippling bugs and you don't exactly have a 'good' game by any measure.  It's the truth and an unfortunate one at that, but no game can be considered 'good' when your save data can get corrupted for little to no reason at all.  Or when you can get the maximum amount of money possible for no other reason than you went fishing during the winter and didn't keep your line out long enough to reel anything in.  And just the thought of all that progress that I lost just because the game wasn't properly tested...I can't call this anything else -but- a "Ragequit".  Avoid the game by all means unless you're not the type to get attached to your characters.