Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Wish I Loved Grinding

Disgea 3:  Absence of Detention was handed out last week as a Playstation Plus freebie, which I immediately picked up and by immediately, I mean "overnight for a 14 hour download".  I have a good portion of the Disgaea games, only skirting around picking up the re-releases and such (though I have some of those) so I -have- Disgaea 3 on PS3 already, and I did put a good bit of time into it there before moving on to other things.  That was a while ago, however, and my progress has since been lost, so the knowledge that there would be a handheld version of the game in the Vita port was comforting.  I do some of my best gaming on handhelds, after all, since it's far, far easier to keep at a game when you can take it anywhere you go.  That is unless the game utterly turns you off, of course.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Disgaea 3.  Well, there are a couple things wrong with it, chief being that the story is....terrible, but it is not a -bad- game.  There's not bugs in it, it's perfectly playable, it runs smooth, looks nice on the Vita and there was a clear amount of love placed into the game.  I cannot say "I don't like Disgaea 3" and be telling you the truth, because I -do- like it in premise and concept.

I just cannot enjoy playing it.

It is something that never ceases to boggle me; Disgaea as a series, as games, in story and in mechanics, is steeped in absurdity, practically slow-boiled in it and yet I can't bring myself to enjoy it as fully and wholly as I expect to and as I want to.  You can climb mountains that just don't exist in other games, and then you can climb -bigger- mountains than those ones.  You can reach Level 9999, you can deal a million damage with the swing of a sword, you can turn a Prinny into a handgun, you can go -into- a world inside of a weapon to make it stronger and you can erect a tower of people all for the effort of throwing one to throw another to throw another and so on.  You can do other things that are crazier than the mentioned.  There is not a sane bone in the body of any Disgaea game and that what makes them charming.

I would love it if I could find that enjoyment in Disgaea.  I did, once upon a time, as my save file for Disgaea 2 on PS2 will attest to, but I can't find that any longer.  Every battle just seems like it's the same one and I can't exactly figure out what the differentiation between that and a game like Final Fantasy Tactics, which I have no qualms playing almost any time, but there is some sort of difference there and it is key enough that it prevents me from making an actual effort.  My only idea is the grinding (as you may have guessed from the title) since you can grind literally everything, but I enjoy grinding in other things.  Like....Final Fantasy Tactics.  I would routinely play by the "X2 Rule" whenever I played FFT which was, simply, the "Suggested Level" in the strategy guide that was given to me with the game as a gift...times two.  Suggested level was five, I was level ten, ten, I was twenty, etc.  I love accelerating FFT characters.

There's just some sort of strange disconnect when it comes to the characters you get in Disgaea, though.  Perhaps it's because they're a bit more malleable than most games, but that should be inspiring more than it's not.  I don't suspect that I'll find the reason why and be able to exile it and find that Disgaea 3 'clicks' with me, though I would certainly like that.  I want to enjoy Disgaea 3 as much as I know that I can, and that I cannot it something that is of particular annoyance with me.  Still, I suspected as much and it's only because it was free that I'm playing it - I'm not actually regretting it or anything of that sort - I just want to be able to like good games.  And I feel that, beneath whatever it is that I just don't like about the series, they -are- good games.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Vita is Turning Into an Indie Haven

If you've been paying attention to game and port announcements lately, you'll have noticed something of a trend, and an encouraging one at that.  While the bulk of it was at GDC, a lot of Indie devs have pledged their upcoming games to the Vita, likely encouraged by the success of Brian Provinciano with Retro City Rampage and the other few Indie games that have hit already.  It helps, of course, that Sony has actively been courting devs and seem to be treating them right, given that at a GDC panel, a handful of them said "Absolutely" to the question "Is your next game going to be on the Vita?"  (Well, one did, the others just said "Yes", don't be a pedant)  Interest is spreading as well, since many of the attendees also seemed keen to work on the delightful little handheld.

In fact, the folks at the Playstation Blog were so kind to put together a list (albeit not a complete one) of indie games currently announced to hit the PS4, PS3, Vita and Playstation Mobile platforms.  I'll just keep it confined to the games that will be playable on the Vita:

  • Divekick – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Spelunky – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Velocity Ultra – PS Vita
  • Limbo – PS Vita
  • Metrico – PS Vita
  • Guacamelee! – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Hotline Miami – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Dragon Fantasy Book II – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Thomas Was Alone – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Luftrausers – PS3 and PS Vita
  • Friend Network App – PS Vita
  • Zombie Tycoon II – PS3 and PS Vita
  • A Virus Named Tom – PlayStation Mobile
  • Treachery in Beatdown City – PlayStation Mobile
  • Crumble – PlayStation Mobile
  • Crystallon – PlayStation Mobile
  • Don’t Wake the Bear – PlayStation Mobile
  • Hermit Crab in Space! – PlayStation Mobile
  • Oh, Deer! – PlayStation Mobile
  • Rymndkapsel – PlayStation Mobile
  • Ten By Eight – PlayStation Mobile

(I've left the links that were there intact so you can peruse some of the Playstation Blog posts related to the games if you're so inclined)

That is no small thing by any means and, as stated, it doesn't cover the full host of games that have already been committed.  Absent, likely because of the little bit of time between the announcements and this one, are (off the top of my head) The Binding of Isaac:  Rebirth and Lone Survivor, both of which have already made their own splashes on PC, and not in a little way.  That is also not even counting the announcement of Terraria's left-right movement towards the Vita as a platform.  I am likely missing others as well, but that's fine since, I mean, this is a pretty big list, both in length and content.  Wouldn't want to, you know, overwhelm people with this stuff.

Size is, admittedly something I've been focusing on since it's the theme of an interesting new development on the game complainer's front, also known as the comment section of every mainstream game news site anywhere ever.  The whingings of "no gaaaaaames" can be heard throughout every corner of the internet, as is usually the case when something is new and developers haven't had a lot of time to actually work on it.  Despite the truth of the matter being that there clearly -are- games for the Vita, it was a bit hard to argue, given that the schedule looked a bit clear a few weeks ago with Soul Sacrifice, Tearaway and Killzone:  Mercenary being the biggest things on the horizon.  However, as it is in most cases, these folks aren't -actually- criticizing from a place where they actually want to see things get better, but rather complaining to complain.  You can tell this because the whingings have shifted from "no gaaaaames" to "No biiiiiiig gaaaaames".

While true that the scope of Indie games is usually inherently smaller than most because of the nature -of- Indie developers (usually a small group of people, if not just one or two), these are not, by any means, games that you're going to sit down and fully complete in an afternoon.  Which, by the by, you -can- do with some of the 'big' games that are out there now that people just absolutely clamor for.  At the very least, the above Dragon Fantasy Book II seems to fancy itself after RPGs of the 'old school' which, as we know, were not incredibly short affairs and we loved them for it.  I just can't help but laugh at how quickly the goalposts get moved and by laugh, I mean want to shake someone by the shoulders for about five minutes straight.  Not like I would shake any sense out of them, of course.

The whole point that I'm harping on, I think, is that one of the complaints about the Vita has been "Where are the games?" and now, bam.  There they are.  These are the confirmed ones and this level of support means that it's not a one-off thing - these developers are in because they -want- in and they're going to keep going, clearly.  Robert Boyd of Zeboyd games has been fairly coy about developing for the Vita, but has stated that there's a "good chance" that CSH (Short for Cosmic Star Heroine, code-name for the next Zeboyd Games RPG after PAA4) will be PC/Vita at launch (if not for the major consoles as well) which is a big boon, certainly.  If the 'game-starved' handheld could manage to have CSH, Hotline Miami, Terraria and The Binding of Isaac on it at the same time, well...

I think we'll manage.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Have Never Been So Happy to Be So Wrong

Will [Terraria on Vita] happen?  Certainly not.  I'm amazed we're getting the PS3/360 versions and I worry for the amount of post-release support they'll see, so yet another version is inherently out of the question.  A man can dream, however, and we know that I dream big.  Or...well, in this case, little.
-Me from "In Which I Shamelessly Port-Whine" (February 7, 2013)

It is kind of a running theme that I am bad at predicting stuff.  It's so bad that it's kind of a running theme pointing out that it's a running theme that I am bad at predicting stuff.  If it ever gets to the point there it's a running theme pointing out that it's a running theme that it's a running them, it will be so meta that I will probably reach some sort of singularity and implode.  Because of all of that, I shouldn't have been surprised when I looked in my twitter feed earlier today and saw this tweet leading to this Playstation Blog Post, my natural reaction should have been some sort of smugness in successfully extorting reverse psychology or something like that.  Instead I just kind of went "Eeeeee!" and opened the link to check it out on the Vita browser.  There was some degree of excitement in my actions, but I will let you guess as to just how much.  We're getting interactive now.

You can check out the post if you like - in fact, I almost encourage it in some ways - but you're not really going to get a lot of information from it, since they didn't really give any.  It's basically around four paragraphs saying "It's coming to Vita because a lot of people asked for a Vita version and we like the Vita because of it's control options.  Terraria is also awesome, I hope you guys know that." and showing off a couple of fancy pictures, one of which I nicked for the above header image.  Since it is (likely) from the console version which, obviously, the Vita version will be based on, it was on a flickr account (Playstation Europe's) which I am a fan of using for picture hosting and I didn't want to load up IGN tonight.  This is a better picture than I would've gotten anyway.

All the information you would kind of want alongside an announcement, stuff like pricing, release date, improvements/changes to this version, as well as the Cross-stuff we might assume is there with the PS3 version (Cross-Buy/Play/Save) is missing, unfortunately.  It's not surprising, though, nor is it too much of a problem since we know, unequivocally, that it's coming to the Vita.  Personally, I'm going under the impression that it's going to release at the tail end of Summer for $9.99 and not support Cross-anything.  It will be unfortunate, but at the same time, I will be able to build a bunch of shit on my Vita which is kind of all I ever want to do, so I can't be too upset with that.  A little, perhaps.

I have already made suggestions as to alternate control methods that utilize some of the Vita's features in a way that isn't abhorrent (despite the insistence to some that it might be) so I'm not going to present them again and act like my idea has refined with time or become more attractive.  Still, I would be surprised if touch screen support wasn't implemented in some way, though I suspect it will only be useful in Inventory management, hotbar selection and navigating the crafting menu.  I would certainly hope that they wouldn't use the front touchscreen to try and aim the 'cursor', even optionally, because that...that would be abysmal with how small the Terraria blocks are and how much of the screen you block when you do that.  The backscreen is attractive because of that, not obscuring things, but I'm sure gripes with the expected accuracy might hinder its use as well, even if it's just used as, again the 'cursor' and nothing more.

I suppose when Terraria for Vita is announced to release sometime Mid-May at $14.99 with Cross-Buy, Play & Save support, you'll all have me to thank for that, but until then I will hold on to my cynicism that isn't actually all that cynical considering the circumstances.  Whatever the release date and in whatever form it comes out in, it's going to be a little late because I want it now.  Still, knowing that it's coming in reality and not just my fantasies is comforting to say the least and for as tempted as I was to buy the PS3 version, I'm glad I held off since I will likely never play it on PS3 even if the Vita version ends up being Cross-Buy, much as I have never played Retro City Rampage on my PS3.  Or Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.  Or any other Cross-Buy game I've bought.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gaming by the Numbers - Plants Vs. Zombies Vita

This seems like a strange game to do a gaming by the numbers post about and, indeed, if it weren't for an oddity that I encountered earlier today, I probably wouldn't have written this at all.  Certainly, there are other things I could be writing about tonight which is pretty typical - I figure out something early on and then blam, big news, but I can cover that tomorrow.  This has been in my brain all day and I'm going to get it out here because, well, I want to.  And it gave me an excuse to do a little number running again because I just like doing that every now and then because I am weird.  A weird person.  Who is weird.  Clearly.

Let's get this trick out of the way first and allow me to preface this with a statement which I will then leverage against numbers and show you why, in the long run, running this is not only easy, but the sane move.  This -is- an exploit since, presumably, this is a bug that has stayed in the game for this long for reasons we just don't know about.  If you'll take a look at my picture above, you will see that Crazy Dave is giving me Tree Food for the Tree of Wisdom to 'start me out' even though my tree is 175 Feet Tall.  This was done mostly for curiosity's sake as I only really needed to get the tree to a still-staggering 100 Feet Tall for a trophy.  This is, of course, no simple task to do because why would it be.

The Tree of Wisdom requires an initial investment of $10,000 which is, by all means, no small sum.  After you get a Zen Garden via the story, you can purchase another one, specifically for mushrooms, for the bigger amount of $30,000, though after you have that, you can happen upon Mushrooms in games that you can then raise over the course of three days (probably less if you check in often) that will sell for $10,000 each once fully matured.  Less the cost of Fertilizer, a Gramophone and Bug Spray (all of which I won't bother looking up the prices for) that you will likely need for the stages of their growth, it's fairly lucrative, if slow.  Regardless, once you're in the position where you can throw down $30,000 on the Mushroom Garden, you have much easier avenues with which to get some coinage going on and selling plants will just be supplemental to that.

Let's just focus for a moment here, though.  Let's say that you wait until you have everything but the upgraded plants unlocked/purchased and the Tree of Wisdom itself since those are the things that are a factor here.  By this point, you have put quite a lot of time into the game already and while I could try and quantify that in some numbers, let's just go with "a lot" and I'll kind of make a little "roll with it" hand motion and we'll be square.  You are, at this point, ready to get all up in the Tree of Wisdom business and grow this thing to the massive 100 Feet required.  You throw down your $10,000, it adds a new thing in your Zen Garden, you go to it and Crazy Dave goes "Here are five free food bags" and you give them to your tree and go " many more?"  Forty-five, or rather forty-six bags of food later, you will realize that you have...forty-nine bags left to go as the last bag raised the tree from 50 feet (the first time it actually displays a height) to 51 feet. 

So, let's break this down for a moment.  The Tree of Wisdom requires 100 bags of Food to reach the 100 Feet requirement.  This is a nice, simple number.  Where it gets less nice is when you realize that Tree Food costs $2,500 for one bag.  So yes, of course, first grade math, this means a 100 Foot Tall tree requires a $250,000 investment, though you get five bags for free, so it's actually 95 bags at $2,500 for $237,500.  Which isn't much better.  While I'm not -sure- of this, I am -fairly certain- that you have a limit of how many bags you can buy per day, and that limit is five bags.  Somebody feel free to correct me on this, but let's just suggest that it is true and cut out the money for a moment.  Five a day for 100 bags means 20 days of buying food and giving it to a tree, provided you have that much money and can do it, bare minimum. fairly ridiculous.

If you want to do this legitimately, it means farming the -hell- out of some maps, though what I've discovered as the 'popular' method is going on "Last Stand" (a map that's not initially available and requires a few other things beaten beforehand) and plopping down a -ton- of Marigolds (flowers that intermittently drop coins) as well as Garlic to force zombies into specific chokepoints that are lined with Gloom-Shrooms, an upgraded plant that costs $7,500 for the initial purchase, like so.  It's an ingenious method, actually and only requires a minimum of attention as it's more or less self-sustainable aside from the moments where you'll need to replace pumpkin shells (which you can replicate if you want, but the replicator card is a hefty $30,000 investment) and garlic cloves as they become degraded.  In fact, I wrote this paragraph while letting it just go and do that since I don't have to touch anything aside from the two shells that I -just- had to replace.

The problem with this is that it's a lengthy process.  This entire Last Stand thing will probably take upwards of 10-15 minutes all told, and the return I'm expecting is about $10,000 and that's being generous.  So, if I were trying to legitimately get the $237,500, that's 24 runs at ten to fifteen minutes minutes a run for 240 to 360 minutes or 4 to 6 hours.  Of doing nothing but babysitting Last Stand.  And that's if everything works right - on the last round of this run, my garlic cloves got decimated and I had no sun to help with that, so I just had to wait out the last ones as they sort of stumbled against the Gloom-Shrooms, taking one of them out as they died.  And this is, apparently, the 'best' method of farming coins out there which is something that doesn't really instill me with great confidence, because this is all for -one- trophy about growing a tree that offers you precisely nil in return.

It's for that reason that I have no issue with exploiting the little bug that is present with the whole tree of wisdom thing.  It's a simple thing - I stumbled across it, but it's documented other places as well.  When you're on the Tree of Wisdom screen, try dragging a bag of food from the spot on the bar to the tree and one of two things will happen, provided you have zero bags of food.  Either you will get a phantom bag that you can feed the tree or Crazy Dave will pop in and go "Hey, here's five bags of food" which is actually six because there is a phantom bag at the end of it.  If you get a Phantom bag, feed it that and then click to another garden and back.  Touch the icon and it should bring up the Crazy Dave thing, feed it those six bags, click to another garden and back and you should be able to repeat the Crazy Dave step over and over again until the tree is however tall you want it to be.  What proves to be a convoluted and expensive process becomes about ten to twenty minutes of equal tedium which is a pretty okay exchange in my book.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Squeenix, Pull Your Head Out of Your Goddamn Ass

I probably do it more than I realize, but I will say that I specifically don't like 'Rage-posting', or sitting down with a topic in mind and just writing up something vitriolic and annoyed over a situation or thing.  It can be cathartic, of course, and at times, it's warranted (topically enough, for Final Fantasy XIII-2, it was certainly acceptable) and this is one of those times.  While I'm sure this is a "Moving Parts" scenario, or a thing where there's a lot more going on than what is obvious, and all that other such rot, I don't really care.  This is a situation in which the solution to a problem is completely and totally in front of their face, and they refuse to actually understand that and acknowledge it.  Yet, they are more than willing to completely misappropriate things in whatever way they can to try and put a spin on it, which is the last thing they should be doing at the moment.

The situation, as it stands currently is that CEO Wada is going to step down as the company restructures in the face of posting a $106 Million loss.  Technically, Wada's in place until at least June when they vote on whether or not he can actually step down, I guess, but let's face it - dude is gone.  That part?  That's whatever.  Good luck to that dude or good riddance - it's a judgment call as to which one you're saying and you're probably justified either way.  The other part, the whole restructuring and losing a ton of money is where stuff starts to get interesting, and by 'interesting' I mean that Squeenix lets their patently Squeenix colors fly, meaning they felt the urge to say something dumb and make the situation worse for themselves.  Because that is just how they roll, you see.

You see the primary reason, they said, that they're doing so financially poorly at the moment is because their latest games are selling so bad.  You know, Sleeping Dogs which is a pretty great game, Hitman:  Absolution, which admittedly saw something of a mixed reaction and Tomb Raider, which sold over a million copies in forty-eight hours.  Only a million, of course, and then only 3.4 million retail copies by the end of the month, based on their projections.  I will say and specify retail once more because they are not counting downloaded versions of the game, of any of the games, which means they're actually short-selling it when the goddamn game was available on Steam and PSN on day-one at least, if not XBL as well, all of which will comfortably add a million to the total at least.  In a month.  Since it was released on the fifth, the fiscal year ends on the 31st and that is the window that they estimate 3.4 Million disk sales after I assume they did not update their sales forecasts after delaying the game for over a year.  Yet the sales are 'weak'.

You might think that it's funny that they're just sort of blaming the western games, and make no mistake, they are just doing that in a pompous sort of way.  Though, there's really nothing to compare it against because the last Squeenix proper game that came out was Theatrhythm in goddamn February of 2012.  Or, if you don't count handheld games, then Final Fantasy XIII-2 in January of 2011.  The former being a wacky spin-off of a spin-off and the latter being a shitty sequel to a game that was collectively despised more than it was touted.  Before those, it was Final Fantasy IV:  The Complete Collection in March of 2011 and before that, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy in the same month.  My point is that Squeenix is not good at making and putting out their own games, so whinging on and on about games that have actually entered development, finished and released in the same span of time that their own game has solely been in development (Not counting the years prior to it) seems a little silly.  Be glad you're releasing anything at all, because that means money at the end of the day, which is certainly not something -you're- bringing in.

Really, the bulk of the losses is because of the restructuring that they're doing in the face of losses.  So they're throwing out more money because they're losing money.  This, of course, makes perfect Squeenix sense and just lends itself to allowing us to stand by and point and laugh.  They have plenty of money to print if they would just do it - Lightning Returns might not actually be terrible, so I might pick it up, and I would definitely buy a digital copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 on my Vita if such a thing ever happened.  The upcoming FFX/X-2 HD Remasters will also gain a few bucks depending on the strategy they go for it.  If it's $40 for the PS3 package and $20 for each Vita game individually, well, good on them.  I do, of course, expect $30 per Vita game and will continue to believe that until I am proven incorrect.  Because Squeenix are, clearly, assholes that will do that, if just to have something else to blame when their shitty things don't sell well.

What that means is that this likely isn't dire straights for the company.  But they will probably act like it is and the next year or so of Squeenix will either be -awesome- or -horrible-.  We're used to the latter, so I'm not sure we'll notice much of a change, really.  Regardless, as I implied with the title, they should really take the advice of one of their own published characters.  And all I gotta say beyond that is that if Drakengard 3 doesn't get localized, I'mma cut a bitch.

And you know it's true.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coming Soon: When I Don't Feel Like Hell

While it would have been super awesome if I were back 100% from my little sleep schedule debacle, I am not.  It is rather unfortunate since these last couple of days, I have felt nothing but sleepy, unmotivated and grouchy, which doesn't lend itself very well to productivity.  This is a shame, of course, as I have been lacking in that lately because of other issues...also this issue, so a lot of issues and it is bugging me.  Because clearly, I don't want to neglect this, it's just hard to think of something to write about, much less find the will and drive to do so, when you wake up at 2:30 AM, disoriented and wondering what the hell happened to the 'hour long nap' you laid down for at 7 PM.

Even though I couldn't think of something to talk about tonight in a sense (actually, I had an idea, but wasn't really feeling it tonight), I figured something out in that I can kind of give you all a little insight into what I want to get posted up in a relatively soon-ish manner which means it could be between now end of April.  We'll go with that to stay conservative because I have no idea what's going to happen between now and then, clearly.  Thankfully, unless there's something I forgot about, there's not a new game in sight that I'm picking up until April 30th when Soul Sacrifice drops, so I can play a little catch-up on my backlog.  Which generally means fun times here.  Since if I am focused on games that I've been simmering on for a while, I can generally form them into coherent words moreso than new games.

As I've stated, I have been playing Deus Ex:  Human Revolution lately and while I'm not quite sure -what- I'm going to write of it, I'm going to write -something- about it, even if it's just a few more collection of "Adam Jensen:  Jerk with Super-Powers" stories, since that post was rather fun and I -did- manage to keep it fairly spoiler-free.  I don't want to say here that I -won't- Review it, because I just might, but every time I've considered doing so thus far, I just...haven't been into it.  I dunno, perhaps it is due to the fact that I have two other games that I want to do things with here (that came out wrong) and I want to get them out of the way first.  Or maybe it's just because I feel like I want to play the game on Normal or Easy before actually trying to make an argument of its values.  We'll see how it unfolds.

No matter what I decide, I -am- going to be talking about the game, as I said, because there are things to be said.  Things that have likely been said millions of times before already since I am a bit late to the party, but things that are still ringing out now after the whole test of time and such has passed.  I..guess.  In any case, a playthrough on Normal or Easy will likely allow me to have fun with the game rather than the current 'almost not-fun' I am in a constant state of while playing it on Hard or "Give Me Deus Ex" difficulty.  Prepare to hear me repeat myself again as I whine and grumble about the merits of making Hard Mode Hard and not Bullshit.  That is a little spoiler alert.

One of the games that I have certainly played quite a bit, yet talked almost zero about is the Tomb Raider reboot that I bought purely on a whim.  I intentionally saved my talking about the game for a review that I haven't yet written because of reasons that -should- be obvious by now.  What with the being in an up-and-down mood and sleep-issues thing going on.  Regardless of whether or not I have been able to do so before now, the intention -is- still to write a review of the game because I think I delved enough into it that I think I can speak on its positives and negatives easily enough.  When I play it a little more know, remind myself of them.

Not because I just want to play the whole damn thing over again.  C...certainly not.

Er, I'm getting rather dangerously close to letting you fine folks know what I thought of the game.  And it would be a sad thing indeed if I let it slip that I think it is a wonderful game and certainly worth a purchase before I actually say that in a review.  Even if the multiplayer is a steaming pile of butts.  And steamed butts are, in fact, the worst butts known to man.  Oh, whoops.  Well, anyways, that's certainly on the agenda for some time in the near-ish future.

While I have been a little bit more vocal about REVENGEANCE, it too was a game that I was looking forward to attempting to review which I simply haven't gotten around to doing.  Of course, I'm...not quite sure on this one.  I might just have to go the Sleeping Dogs route with this and just dedicate a couple of posts to just gushing about it because the damn game is that fun.  Yet, I -do- have my gripes with it and they are well-reasoned ones, so perhaps I will manage to be unbiased enough to present something that I am comfortable with labeling as an actual review.

I will say now, however, that I hope they release they Gray Fox/Fox Blade DLC as a paid option for folks who didn't pre-order the game.  This is because, quite simply, the Fox Blade is Over-powered as shit and also provides me the experience I specifically grumbled about way back when I wasn't sure about this game.  With an upgrade to its special effect, the Fox Blade will slice and dice something fierce.  As in, you cut, things fall apart, no muss, no fuss to it.  This is, of course, game-breakingly powerful since it only -doesn't- work on bosses, but it is also pretty damn fun to mess around with.  As I told a friend:  "Throw on the Gray Fox Outfit, equip the Fox Blade, run around cutting people and yell "Hurt me more!" and you have the Frank Jaeger experience."  It is a pretty fun experience, all told.

As for what is essentially the elephant in the room at this point, I have absolutely no idea just what I'm going to do about God of War:  Ascension.  There are things I can say about the game, things I -want- to say about it, big things, but I usually reserve those big things for at -least- until after I have beaten it.  At that point, I usually know whether or not I'm even going to attempt to try and review it, if not before it.  However, that's sort of the rub:  I -can't- say those things because I -can't- beat God of War:  Ascension.  Or rather, I can, in theory, but I'm not willing to expend the effort in the attempt until I know that the game works.

I hit a rather nasty glitch in which I got to the literal end of a chapter or what have you and, for whatever reason, the doors that are supposed to open will not open.  No matter what I do.  Logically, I know that the thing I -should- attempt to do is replay the chapter to get to that point and it will likely work properly, but the thing is...well....Ascension just is not fun enough to make that a viable option.  Yes, I'm playing on Hard Mode, yes, it's another game that doesn't really get that right, and yes, it's because of those elements that I'm just not happy with the game at all.  It doesn't help that there are other problematic factors mixed in, but those are for another night.  I have the game on my "To Play" stack where it will remain until I have heard that a patch is out that fixes a bunch of the issues people are having with it.  And likely for a time thereafter.  Because I'm really not expecting them to fix re-balance the gameplay with that same patch or any other patch for that matter.

So there you have it.  I -do- have things brewing and these are certainly not all of them.  It's simply a matter of being able to sit down with a clear enough head to translate those things in my brain into words on here.  It is not always an easy task, as I'm sure you're aware, but it's something that I enjoy trying to do, at the very least.  With any luck, I'll get normalized on my sleep at least, and figure out something to do for the burgeoning allergies that will likely follow my normalization.  Since nothing can be easy or let up and just let me be because why would it.  I'm not bitter or anything, of course, why would you ask that.  You're silly.  That's silly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trophies May Be Coming to Older Games

It's been kind of a thing floating around the internet for a few days, but I'm just now getting to it because I completely forgot about it last night.  There's a patent that's been recently filed by Sony that I'm linking to IGN for since Joystiq hasn't made a thing about it from what I can tell, and while it's kind of patent-y in "what is this even", it's a fairly simple process.  Basically, so says the patent, games can be patched in a way that doesn't call for re-certification because the game hasn't actually been altered in any way except that it adds triggers for trophies.  So basically, the process would just require a person or few people to sit down, come up with a list, make the appropriate triggers and submit them to be implemented.  Nice and simple and, most importantly, cheap.

So why should we care?  Well, the vagueness is sort of the key here - it just says 'games', not 'PS3 games', though I suspect this could be utilized in those handfuls of PS3 games that remain trophy-less to this day (Valkyria Chronicles, anyone?).  Which means any game you can play on a system that supports trophies (PS3 and Vita, really.  Until the PS4) would, theoretically, be able to have trophies attached to it.  Which means that copy of Metal Gear Solid you have in your download list might just offer you a shiny silver trophy for unlocking the Tuxedo, or Final Fantasy VII might have a gold up its sleeve for someone who collects every type of materia.  Things of that sort.  For people like myself who use trophies as a sort of benchmark, or an incentive to replay some games and wring some full enjoyment out of them, well, this is quite a boon.

It is, ultimately, hard to tell just how involved these types of deals would be because they are sort of unprecedented in most cases.  While there are -some- PS2 that have trophy lists now (thanks to HD-ification), these might be the exceptions and not the rule.  Who knows if any PS2 Classic that might get support via this method will be 'allowed' the full trophy list, though I don't see why they wouldn't.  It's a fact that makes some people a little annoyed, but Platinums move games.  $10 for a good game that will get you a Platinum trophy?  For most people, it might just be the little extra incentive to tip them over the edge into picking up some older games that they've been meaning to grab.  For others, it might just mean that they're suddenly buying up a bunch of older games for the specific goal of getting trophies in it.  Either way, they games start selling more and that's all that anyone really cares about.

I can't deny that the prospect of  playing the Playstation One version of Chrono Trigger for trophies is almost delicious - a game that I've literally 100%'d multiple times through my lifetime, yet with nothing really to show for it aside from my memories.  Which is, I believe one of the stumbling points that I think I cover every time I talk about trophies, but it's always relevant to the conversation nonetheless.  It's not like achievements/trophies suddenly phased into existence to make people go on fetch quests and this and that in the multi-hour task of 100%'ing a game, or playing it in a way that might not be intuitive at first.  This has existed since the beginning of games - just that before this generation, your only recourse was to inform those who didn't know about these little things, these easter eggs and such, or discuss your 'stories' of getting them with people who had similarly done so.  For all intents and purposes, nothing has changed - you just now get a thing that gives you points or a shiny trophy when you do it on top of the story that comes with it.

There's a completely possible chance, however, that nothing will come of any of this, though.  It is, after all, just a patent, and even if it were something that were made possible, it requires -some- work on the developers and/or IP Holders.  While it's minimal work and I doubt there's a big cost associated with it, it -is- work nonetheless, and on games that have been out for a decade or better in most cases - a lot of devs just won't see a point in doing it.  There's all sorts of wondering to do if they actually -do- this as well, since it's hard to tell just how the actual lists will be added in and handled, as I mentioned, and whether or not there will be 'guidelines' for them as there are for PS3/Vita games.  Still, it is something worth mentioning and could be very interesting to see how it's utilized, if at all.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jak and Daxter Probably Coming to Vita

Woah woah, don't get all excited now.  It's probably just the HD Collection, which was outed through an ESRB rating, though I shouldn't say 'just' the HD Collection.  By all means, if this is true (which, it probably is, really) then that's pretty impressive and will actually give us a look into the sort of PS2 HD games on Vita thing that we haven't really -seen- despite wanting it pretty hard.  There was Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, yes, but has there been many other examples, really?  The Ico/Shadow of the Colossus remote play kind of counts, but not natively (Which is something that needs to be rectified soon-like) and...well, that's really about it.  Unfortunately.

While it does feed the "Hurr durr ports are dumb" crowd, it -does- mean that there's more things to play on your Vita which, at the end of the day, is pretty much all anyone cares about.  Or should care about, at least.  While it's not a brand new game or even a 'new' game by any means, it's still -something- and could hopefully help usher in a few other things as well.  People clamoring for good portable Sly games might be able to dream a dream for the Sly Collection, we can all hold out a little hope for the Ratchet and Clank one, and so on and so forth.  God help me if Yakuza 1&2 HD Collection becomes a thing that happens in the West on Vita because it could be download-only (and not largehuge on Vita) and save Sega some costs.  Because I wouldn't put my Vita down for months if so.

It's more for those reasons that I brought it up, as I don't have a real personal connection to the Jak and Daxter series of games.  Indeed, I haven't even played them, nor grabbed the HD collection because I...really don't need to add three new games to my backlog that is already overfull and counts at least two JRPGs among them, meaning I won't want for games for the rest of the year, most likely.  I'll -buy- new games, of course, because I am a terrible person with money and such, but I won't -need- them.  Except for Last of Us.  ...and Tearaway.  That's not the point, though.  The point is that it's worth a mention because of what it could signify, as I already stated.

Another thing that could be telling is just how this is priced and handled.  The Collection on PS3 is officially $20 now, (it is, check it out on the online store or the PS3 store) and this seems like a bit of work to just release it for $20 as well, though there doesn't seem to be any 'added value' to bring the price back up to $30 just for the Vita version either.  The up-cost would cover the things needed to be changed about to fit the Vita's control scheme, of course, but that doesn't translate well to consumers.  "Why is this $20 and this $30?"  "Because this one is portable."  "Oh." is not a conversation that will end with said person buying the Vita version, is my point.  Aside from that, will all three games even fit on a Vita cart?  Are we going to see a multi-cart release this early?  Or will this possibly be a digital-only affair to keep the price at $20 for it?

These are all questions to consider with this being a thing that is likely to happen.  Something else to wonder about is whether or not folks who already own the Collection on PS3 will see some sort of benefit in doing so.  Things like whether or not it ends up being Cross-buy (which would be a bit ridiculous, but I wouldn't mind), if it'll support Cross-Saves (which should be expected) and the like.  If it ends up Cross-Buy, do you only get the Vita version if you bought the Collection digitally?  I don't see how it could be done otherwise, to be honest, but that's very likely a -very- small market of people initially.  It might spur some more digital sales, but it'd probably be a grumbling-point for folks.

I might be getting ahead of myself here though.  After all, the only thing we know is that the ESRB Listing specifically states PS Vita as a platform, which leaves little wiggle-room for understanding.  It is likely that the Collection -is- hitting the portable device since it doesn't really lend itself to misinterpretation, being a new listing and all.  The how, the why, the when and other logistics are the only things up in the air and, as I said, they're worth paying attention to, since they could set the flow for other such collections that may or may not come out in the following.  Depending on how it's handled, I might just pick it up despite the inherent lack of need to do so, because I can't say that I'm -not- curious about the games.  And hell, I love playing things on my Vita, so it all works out.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Back to Normal Soon, I Promise

So, this week has been sparse in terms of posting and the reason for that is basically that my sleep schedule has gotten progressively more and more fucked with every passing day.  When I started this post at 10:30 PM, I had been awake for 20 straight hours and as I near the 11:30 mark because I have been trying to collect my thoughts, well, I'm sure you can guess the divide between the 20th hour and the 21st.  It is a gap that is not meant to be crossed by mere mortals and I cannot help but wonder what actual insomniacs go through when they're on the 37th hour, the 48th hour and so on.  It cannot be pleasant, whatever it is and though I have sleeping issues, I dare not suggest I have that, even in jest, because it is kind of a serious thing and it gets thrown about far too loosely and too much for being something as awful as it is.

Moving away from that, I will instead spin a few little yarns to you fine folks about my adventures in Deus Ex:  Human Revolution.  You might have heard that it's getting a Wii U Super Port and you can thank me for that since I started playing the game on PS3 the day before it was announced.  Sure, I didn't get -far- into it, but I -did- play it and, well, that happened.  Sort of like Persona 4 Golden finally getting a release date literally right after I beat Persona 3 Portable.  Except that wasn't horribly depressing in a "oh god, am I going to do -everything- in this game -twice?-" sort of way.  Maybe 'depressing' is too strong of a word, but I'm sure you can gather what I am sort of shooting for here.

Rather than talk about the mechanics of the game, whether or not I'm enjoying it and the like, stuff that you generally save for a review or, indeed, just discussing the merits of the game, good and bad, I will pull from the file of stories I created today in my absurdly long session of play that I may entertain you.  Or at least entertain myself as I relive the memories because they are honestly pretty enjoyable for me if nothing else.  I dub the stories "The Adam Jensen Files:  Fun with Cyber-Strength".  I am pretty sure you can imagine -what- the stories entail, and I will try not to spoil things, but there are some things that are sort of vital to understand.

Now, at a certain point in the game, you're expected to go into a place known as Derelict Row, which is an area that is populated by one of the street gangs.  That's fine enough, right?  Except you're expected to go rather deep into it and not be detected in the process, which is a bit of a difficult thing.  What makes it doubly different, of course, is if you're playing like me, going full-lethal, and you haven't found a fucking silencer yet, seriously, where the fuck are they.  It degenerated, basically, into me picking off bangers one at a time while running back and forth from cover when they came over and started moving back to their patrols.  What I'm getting at is that it was a bit of a slog and I never wanted to go back to Derelict Row ever again.

So, of course, later on you get a mission where you have to do just that.  At first, I was annoyed.  "Guh!  This fucking place!" I exclaimed, and then I remembered, "Oh...I don't have to be undetected this time.  And I have a shotgun.  With the dual-burst mod."  As a meaningful grin crossed my lips, I made my way over to the area and, making use of one of the maintenance entrances where only two bangers were stationed, I decided to make it a little fun.  I would rile them up and get them all mad at me and then take them down with my awesome shotgun.  So I grabbed one of the (apparently heavy) tall crates and threw it at one of the bangers.  I expected it to sort of bounce off of him like most objects did for...some reason, but that is not what happened.  Instead, the crate just kept moving in a straight line and his face met the hard concrete of the room in a hurry.

He lay there motionless for moments and I crouched down to move up to him - he was dead.  The crate was so heavy and the throw so strong that it killed him and I was almost too shocked for a moment to do anything.  Dutifully, however, I grabbed his arm and tugged him around the corner, lest his partner see him.  "That had to be a one-time thing," I told myself.  "No way could that happen again."  So I grabbed the murdercrate and moved over towards his buddy.  Once again, I let loose and once again a body met the ground, sufficiently 'body' and less 'living person' as the time before.  Suddenly, I flashed to the guy calling me a 'cabròn' and telling me to get out and I remembered his buddies on the other side of the door I was heading towards.  I had an idea and it was not a very nice one.

"Fly fly, Cabròn!  Bring me bangers to shoot!" I exclaimed, throwing my latest victim several feet into the air and out into the area before the building I had just exited.  It may come as a surprise, but a corpse flying through the air at a sustained speed tends to draw attention, so I just pressed my back to the wall next to the doorway and waited.  Sure enough, they came to investigate and when one of them was sufficiently close to my little 'bait', I activated the dual-burst and popped out, giving him a little long-distance heart surgery before popping back in and waiting for the gunshot to alert his friends.  One by one, they filed over for something a little more close and personal, finding themselves standing in my doorway before being propelled back against the slight railing the platform had, as two or three steps elevated it from the ground.  When they were taken care of, it was merely a matter of moving further into the compound, barren of life from my earlier visit.  I entertained myself by whistling a jaunty little tune.

Later on, I found myself in a situation where an undercover cop I had been working with informed me that they had all the evidence needed - if I wanted the collar, or just to gloat to the perp before things were over, I was more than free to take a crack.  "Yeah.  I would like that," I thought.  So I went to his apartment building and made it the short trip there with ease.  The door was already open from my earlier excursion into there and I quickly took stock of my weapons.  Everything was...quite lethal save for my stun gun which I keep for moments just like this.  Fortunately for me, this one wanted to have a little chat before we ended things.  He knew the noose was tightening and thought credits would grease my palms enough to let go of the rope.  He was incorrect.

He drew a revolver, but I was faster and one shock later, he was a heap upon the ground.  Almost by instinct, I grabbed his wrist and started dragging him away, heading for the front door.  It was only when I was in the little open area in front of the entrance of the apartment, however, that I suddenly questioned what I was doing.  He needed to stay here to get cuffed.  Though I -knew- he wasn't going to get up, I wanted a little, so I considered my options for a moment.  I just wanted to make sure he was properly captured and wouldn't be able to regain consciousness before the handcuffs found their way around his wrists.  Was that going to happen?  No.  But I'm Adam friggin' Jensen, I have augmentations and I'm going to use them, damnit.

So I grabbed the refrigerator, moved over to his prone form and promptly dropped the heavy appliance onto his legs.  He wobbled a bit and the entire thing ended up tipping over, laying flat across his back and, because of the way he had lay arched, his protruding spine.  "There," I thought.  "All secured."  I briefly checked to make sure my little antics hadn't killed him and, when I was amazed to learn that they didn't, I promptly left to report to my contact.  I informed the contact that he was, er, 'taking a nap' and assured them that they weren't going anywhere.  And as I walked away, I couldn't help the burst of laughter that overwhelmed me from the truth in my words.  I could already imagine them walking in on the scene and wondering how in the hell they were going to get the fridge off of him.  It was a good thought.

So, I submit to you the question that comes from all of this.  Adam Jensen:  Great Jerk?  Or Greatest Jerk?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fez Getting Ported to Things

Obviously, Fez is about the experience, man, and not the money.  No sir.  And when the timed exclusivity expires, I'm sure we won't see the game hit Steam because who cares if "the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.", because money doesn't matter!  No amount of money, no tens of thousands of dollars, matters!  Because it's about the -game-, goddamnit, because this is Indie Gaming.  It's about the principle of it all, which means standing up for the little guy who gets ignored when it's not profitable to help them!  So, seriously that settles it.  You won't be seeing Fez on any other platform even after the exclusivity runs out, because it's purely about making sure everybody gets the full experience of the game and not like....most of the experience.  Minus the ending.  The whole experience.
 -Me from this post. (July 19, 2012)

oh no, that wasn't sarcasm and I've been proven wrong whatever shall I d-of course it was fucking sarcasm

Alright, while I'd love to just sort of post that and be smug and get off of here, I can't exactly do that.  At least, that's not what I want to do, except I kind of do and it's confusing so don't worry about it.  It would be fun and funny to me to do that, I guess, but it's not helping anything.  Not that sitting here and actually talking about it is actually helping anything, but, well....alright, let's try again.

Fez is hitting Steam on May 1st which is completely and totally a sealed deal barring last-minute delays or what have you.  It is, for the moment the only port that is scheduled.  It is not the only port that's in some sort of process of being a reality however.  In reality, Fez will likely be seeing a port to just everything without a Nintendo logo on it (though that can't be discounted either) in the window of 'eventually'.  Mentioned specifically are Mac and Ouya versions as 'definite', a Linux port as "part of vague plans, but plans nonetheless", ports to Sony's consoles hinge on him 'working something out' with Sony, and an iOS version is "highly probable".  None of which is surprising in the least.  Mac and Linux versions, specifically, are practically expected at this point, what with the whole Mac thing being a Mac and Steam going more towards Linux, where PS3/Vita versions (PS3 at least) should be highly considered because of the previous exclusivity to 360.  And iOS being what it is is certainly something that I doubt anyone can really resist as a possibility since that market promises so much profitability.  It....rarely delivers, but it is so tantalizing.

Something that's interesting is the already mentioned lack of Nintendo support.  Obviously, it's likely a bit late/difficult to throw this up on the WiiWare shop or whatever the Wii has, but the Wii U and the 3DS are things and both of them likely should be powerful enough for Fez if an iOS/Ouya version are seriously in consideration as well.  With the Wii U specifically, it's been said that Nintendo are doing their best at being Indie Friendly, yet we have barely seen anyone taking advantage of that.  Specifically with Fez, there could be a lot of neat things done with the Wii U Tablet (Not calling it the Gamepad, sorry, it is a tablet) should they choose to go that route (of course, they wouldn't put any effort beyond the porting, just saying they -could-) and, in general, they kind of seem to want to put the game everywhere.  While the Wii U's audience is currently fledgling, it is also a Nintendo console which means that it's just a matter of time before it gets somewhere between 'solid' and 'oh my god are you kidding me', so getting in now just seems like a smart play for the long-term.

What's reassuring is that the build of the game that'll go around should very likely be the build that includes the patch that cuts out that nasty game-ending bug that plagued the 360 version and was not patched out because 'money'.  So if, for some reason, you have any faith in them fixing this version should a problem arise, or you don't care about gaming politics or whatever, you can probably buy this free of worry.  Clearly I am not very enthused at the prospect of buying the game, but first and foremost, it's because I'm just not interested in Fez.  Obviously, being that I ranted about it and such, I think it's a shitty thing what Polytron did if moreso in the handling than the reasoning, but I've gone out there and stated times before that I don't really -get- boycotts or anything like that.  If you -want- something, just buy it and leave the bullshit at the door.  -Not- buying Fez has a more direct impact on Polytron than not buying the next Call of Duty from Activision, but in the end it's very likely that you're not going to send a message either way, especially with the shotgun strategy for Fez here.

That's not to say that I cannot enjoy my small victory here in pointing out how full of shit Fish is.  Since I very obviously am.  It's not even a personal thing, I just find it amusing.  If anything, it's just another reminder that there's not really as big of a gap between Indie and 'the man' when it comes to these types of attitudes that we don't like and attach to 'the man' to further demonize it.

Regardless of anything, that's pretty much all there is here - Fez hitting Steam on May 1st, everything else but Nintendo things at some point(s) thereafter.  So if you're looking for a (hopefully) bug-free version of the game, ready your purchasing methods at your buying point of choice!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Super Tired

For reasons that may or may not include the coming of Spring, the fact that I only got about three hours of sleep last night, or the fact that I got up early and went off to a convention-type thing today for three and a half hours, I am absolutely worn out.  Really, I'm just as surprised and confused as you are.  Which should be not very, considering.

There's absolutely nothing news-worthy today, and I just don't have the energy to write up something about God of War: Ascension that properly exudes the amount of seething that I need to do over how bitterly disappointed I am.  Spoiler Alert:  It might be my Final Fantasy XIII-2 of this year.  That is how annoyed I am with it.

There's that, then.  I'm just going to pack it in early tonight.  Goodnight, folks.

P.S. Dear Mogs,

Learn to draw so you can have a proper sleepy Moogle for these types of posts.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Should You Be Excited for Drakengard 3?

Some games out there are just kind of a hard sell.  We like them, love them even, even though there are many, many flaws to them.  Many flaws.  Many.  Multiple.  They're not perfect by any stretch, nor can we even say "Oh, yeah, there's -this-, but you can ignore it" because the flaws are big ones.  Drakengard 1 and 2 each have their own which make them particularly hard sells in their own right.

Drakengard 1's combat is archaic, to put it lightly - the entire game about murdering things doesn't actually lend itself well to really getting out there and slaughtering by the tons.  Sure, you'll end up with bodycounts in the hundreds and thousands (Seriously one level in particular you can, oftentimes -do-, end up with a bodycount between 1,000-2,000 enemies) but getting to that point....wasn't that great.  It's unfortunate, really.  Drakengard 2's combat wasn't much better (though some outlets claim it was playable...perhaps I'm a bit biased against it) but it was, apparently, better.  Of course, the entire reason to play Drakengard 1 was for the story which got progressively and exponentially more and more batshit crazy as it went along.  Drakengard 2's story, on the other hand wasn't nearly as good and focused on a cast that was meant to be likeable in contrast to the original's group, yet ended up feeling hollow and annoying at best, going completely counter to point.

Nier, on the other hand, was much, much easier to recommend to folks.  Combat wasn't flashy and amazing, but it was far more capable than the two iterations in the Drakengard series.  Plus, as with Drakengard 1, the story is worth paying attention to, but not because it gets batshit, but because it gets more and more involving, touching and, at times, depressing.  The cast is wonderfully developed as well and remains the only instance in (Action) RPGs where they've introduced a child character that wasn't annoying in every facet of her existence.  Complaints ranged from vapid (as in meritless) - That whole fishing fiasco kerfuffle, whining that the game is ugly, uses too much bloom - to reasonable ones - trying to 100% the game takes forever and is not encouraged, nor worth it, a couple of the areas -are- a bit much, in terms of forced combat and length - but overall are mild enough that, even pitting the litany of them against the pros of the story, the characters and the soundtrack, it's still something we can easily describe as "Worth it" and have it fit a broad enough appeal of the phrase to be correct.

Nier is, however, a decidedly different beast than what Drakengard 1 and 2 were and while it may be the actual progression of that style, I'm not quite sure it will be.  Where Nier had a semi-open world to travel across, Drakengard had levels (Chapters and Verses, rather) that had a set-up for each and every one.  You are in a forest level for this reason, the sea temple for that reason, etc. etc.  It's very constricted, which is something that we've by-and-large out-grown in the games that have come out since.  Not saying that it isn't possible to make each of those levels wonderful so that it's not a problem, just that it's not immediately accessible to people.  Combine with the likelihood of Drakengard 3 following that, with the history of the first and second games and the idea that combat may be merely good at best, it's hard to tell you that Drakengard 3 is a game that will sit alone on a pedestal as a game you should look into, should have excitement for, feel -anything- for.

Yet, that is precisely the reason you likely -should- be excited, should be looking forward to Drakengard 3 for.  Some games have their over-the-top spectacle to fall back on, to be the thing that embeds them in your mind.  We'll all remember Uncharted 2 for that moment when you were inside a building that was physically falling over and God of War 2 where the tutorial was murdering the hell out of the Colossus of Rhodes.  Other games maintain that a tightly-controlled, polished experience will keep you coming back for more and more, and the technical workhorses that are the Call of Duty games (while we may groan, they -are- usually locked to a butter-smooth framerate and tuned to accentuate the shooting) are a good example of this as well given their commercial and critical success, no matter how many people who call themselves 'hardcore' or what have you roll their eyes.

Only a select few games really try to have a story or an experience that will burn itself into your memory.  Games like Heavy Rain do this by making the story personal - the ending you get, considering your actions, is -your- ending from then on, even if you go on to play it again.  Others do this by making the story something truly provocative, intellectually or morally, so that you paint things in other games by your freshly expanded mental toolset.  Games like Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, like Planescape Torment, made particular use of this tactic and because of that, you still hear about them to this day.  While I'm not suggesting Drakengard 3 will be in the same 'hallowed halls' as these games, I -am- suggesting it will likely be special enough to be singled out for a similar reason, as was Nier.  And, in a sense, Drakengard 1, given that it was an experiment in wallowing in Anti-Heroes in a terrible world that only succeeds in getting more and more messed up the further down the rabbit hole you get.

Drakengard 2 was just awful, though.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Drakengard 3 is Officially Official

By officially official, I mean that it has a Japanese Squeenix web page that just so conveniently more or less confirms everything we've found out about the game thus far. This is more or less the 'point of no more news' for a while I would think since this is out there to get initial hype, where in a couple months, there'll be some follow-up and a month or so afterwards again, etc.  You know how the beast operates when it comes to the hype machine and while it won't be working over-time for this game for a lot of people, there are the few, like myself, that will go absolutely froth-at-the-mouth-crazy in the meanwhile whenever something else pops up.  Yet I don't expect anything for a bit, is the point that I was trying to make.  You'll hear it from me if I'm wrong, of course, but for now, let's just cover what we've got.

Some primary things to cover first, of course.  In Japan, the game is only slated for a Playstation 3 release which isn't surprising because PS3's actually sell in Japan unlike the other counterpart of the "HD Twins" as they're often referred to.  (Noted by the 360's inability to crack 1,000 sales last week and definitely not the first time)  In some localization cases, I would suggest that there might be a 360 version outside of Japan, but that's a hard one to count on, really.  Most critics will say that the game probably won't be localized and, unfortunately, there's a chance of that because it's Squeenix and Squeenix is a factory of dream-crushing and terrible games that -do- get localized for whatever stupid reason. 

However, I'm of the opinion that it -will- be localized because it makes perfect sense to do that it -doesn't- make sense at all to do it.  Drag-On Dragoon 3 will release in the tail-end of 2013 for Japan, right around when the PS4 hits that will not be able to play PS3 Drag-On Dragoon 3.  Not a great time for what is, by all accounts, a niche title, to get released.  Localization tacks on at least half a year, I'd assume, so it would come out in North America mid-2014 when the PS4 will likely be in the tepid "Okay, but where are the games?" phase that all new consoles go through which means, for all intents and purposes, that it's probably a better time for release, actually.  People will be picking up PS3's because the PS4 isn't up to snuff yet, but they've got an itch to scratch anyway, etc. etc.  However, it's going to be a budget thing - so a PS3-only release is likely in my head at least.  Which means it is entirely possible that Squeenix will go full-bore and make a 360 version as well.  It's hard to pin down.

As previously stated, the 'Cavia Dream Team' will be working on the game, but under the banner of Access Games, instead of a Squeenix subsidiary or, heaven forbid, a re-formed Cavia.  Because why would we have nice things, Squeenix?  If you're thinking to yourself, "Self, where have I heard of Access Games before?", and haven't gone off to check it through Google or Wikipedia, then allow me to make it easy for you.  Access Games is the developer behind a few niche titles, but Deadily Premonition is likely chief above them all for its cult following and over-the-top absurdity in the ranks of the classic Twin Peaks, since it was...kind of modeled after the show.  It's also the developer that SWERY calls home; SWERY, of course, being the writer and director of the mentioned Deadly Premonition, as well as the writer for the Lords of Arcana/Apocalypse games for PSP (with the latter getting a Vita version eventually).  SWERY is also a pretty righteous dude in his own right and is an absolute joy to follow on Twitter.  (You probably should.)

With the basics out of the way, however, let's get down to the juicy bits, yes?  This is the main character, Zero.  I'm sure I don't have to say a lot about Zero after you take a look at her, but let's just set matters straight.  Yes, that is a metal prosthetic left arm, not a gauntlet, nor armor or anything like that.  Yes, a flower is growing out of her left eye.  No, she's not modestly dressed, nor will anything about her be modest - it's been suggested that Zero is...liberal and very in-touch with her sexuality, let's say, and isn't afraid to let it be known.  Knowing Cavia, it'll be less 'easy' and more 'aggressive, border-line predator' which kind of crosses the line twice to go back into 'yeah, that's okay' territory.  Finally, yes, that is a pretty awesome-looking sword she's got, very similar to other weapons in Drakengard/NieR, and no, she is nowhere near afraid to use it.  Come on, this is a Cavia game - be grateful it's not constantly dripping blood or always disemboweling somebody.

Oh, yeah, about that.  That's a good segue into some of the game mechanics since, well, they do introduce elements of that.  As you can tell from these screenshots, the game is going to be very bloody and, as suggested with the second screenshot there (which, I'm certainly hoping isn't indicative of the final graphics build - at this point, it honestly can't be), some blood will be persistent.  One of the key mechanics -is- getting all bloody from slaughtering your enemies, actually.  Zero is a Songstress, or someone who draws magical power from song, and her magical ability actually grows more and more powerful as she is covered in the blood of her enemies.  No, I am not kidding.  Yes, it is, indeed, metal as fuck.  Pretty....pretty literally, actually, given some of the associations with the metal genre.

That, honestly, is the bulk of the information we have about Drag-On Dragoon 3/Drakengard 3.  While there's another character, One, who is Zero's much more conservative and innocent sister.  And...just happens to have glowing red eyes like a certain other blonde girl in the previous two games.  As in Drakengard 1 and 2, Zero has a Dragon companion, who is featured in some of the art and screenshots, specifically here and here, but doesn't have a specific character page just yet.  In what I can only assume is an assurance of an American localization, the dragon is White, whereas the previous dragons were Red and Blue for Drakengard 1 and 2 respectively.  Let me dream, okay?  Until we get more information, pretty much all I have are dreams, but, well, all I had were dreams before it was announced as well.  So perhaps there -is- something to them!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ohhhh, Makes Sense

So, while I have clearly had sort of an up-and-down couple of weeks as you've no doubt noticed by now, it's all been on the up for the last couple of days, yet I found that I was dreadfully tired yesterday (aside from a few hours when the Drakengard 3 semi-announcement made me so excited I nearly ran around the house cheering) and today (despite still being happy and also excited about Drakengard 3) even though I got a rather good bit of sleep last night.  You would think that I would be rather alert today, rather willing and able to do just about whatever, up to and including writing a rousing post tonight.  Yet, despite there being little bits of news, nothing too big, unfortunately, it was a bit of a hassle to actually sit down and attempt to think.  It's a bit worrying, really.

Then I realized something as I started feeling a bit off tonight.  Next week is the week in which Spring officially begins.  As long-time readers of mine would know, I hate Spring.  This is something that is well-documented.  The only reason that I hate it is because it's a time of ever-changing environments and allergies and unbearable heat, all of which conspire to make me as miserable and sickish as possible.  I'm not being the slightest bit unreasonable, I think.  We had our first bit of Spring weather this weekend, with temperatures 30 degrees higher than what the norm had been for the last month....which then dissolved right back into the normal temperatures.  With snow.  That's what's got me feeling icky currently - the drastic change between hot and cold, and that's something that'll just keep happening.  It's unfortunate, really.

Yet, in the spirit of trying to keep things moving, let's talk a little shop here.  As stated, there are a few bits of mini-news out there, so let's have an impromptu News Dump and see if any of it particularly interests you.

The first thing that is something that is of-note is that Minecraft is actually getting a disc-release...on XBox 360.  Of the XBLA version.  Which is multitudes of versions behind the actual PC version.  Yet it's still the only console version of the game and being that it'll be the same price as the digital version ($20), it is nice to have that option.  As someone who actually desires physical releases for my own convenience, my first instinct was "Yes, I might just buy this for when I buy myself a cheap 360" (or, in the unlikely event that the NeXtBox is fully backwards compatible), but then I went "Why?"  And it was actually kind of a horrifying moment.  I realized that Minecraft is one of those titles that you more or less -have- to have access to all the time, as in the downloadable version, since who knows when the desire to play will hit.  So I might even personally skip on this one for the inevitable day when I actually friggin' buy the PC version for my laptop that I swear I will someday own.  Or maybe other dreams will come true, and I'll be able to someday play a Vita version.

In news that is surprising everyone, I guess, the Vita Out-sold everything in Japan last week thanks in part to the release of Soul Sacrifice which sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 115,000+ copies (spread out across the stand-alone copy, the hardware bundle and the Double-Pack to spur the multiplayer-focus) which -technically- means it sold more than Hatsune Miku:  Project Diva F for PS3, the top-selling game on the list.  The gulf between the Vita sales and 3DS sales is a small one, around 2,500 units, but it's still damn impressive considering the 3DS and 3DS XL are counted as a single unit for sales.  The gulf between the Vita and the Wii U (mentioned because they are the two newest consoles out there, what don't you understand about that, Joystiq commentators) is considerable larger, however, with the Vita outselling it by a hefty 54,000 units and the gulf between the Vita and the 360 (the worst-selling console there) is hilarious considering the 360 managed to sell 738 units total.  Still, all in all, it's a great sign.  A lot of the sentiment seems to be "hurr durr, well it finally got a game" which is shamefully stupid as we know, but Soul Sacrifice looks pretty great, so it likely spurred a lot of purchases with that regardless.

Finally, the two bits of REVENGEANCE DLC that we know about now have a release window.  Sometime in April, we'll be able to buy the Jetstream Sam and Blade Wolf DLC packs which will, unsurprisingly, allow you to play as Jetstream Sam and Blade Wolf.  Both of them will have their own settings and such, telling expanded stories about the respective characters.  From the way it reads both packs will be $7, as in $7 individually which isn't bad at all.  Blade Wolf, at the very least, probably has to have an entirely different moveset and playstyle, and with both packs ensuring there will be hours of playtime there (likely dozens in replayability alone) there's an obvious value to it.  As someone who really liked REVENGEANCE and wants to funnel as much money into it as possible to increase the chances of a sequel, I know I'll be picking them up.  If they can bring in David Hayter to voice the "Soul of Snake" Sword DLC, I'll buy the hell out of that as well.

There's other little bits of info strewn about the internet and I might talk of them on another night, but that's good enough for tonight.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just be over here ticking off the days til Fall.  Obsessively.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Drakengard 3 is Being Made, I Could Not Be Happier

Do you have that one game in your head, the game that uses ideas, characters or a world that already exists, and is simply some form of that?  Generally this is a "I wish there was a sequel" idea, like a lot of people pine for Mirror's Edge 2, Psychonauts 2 and the like.  I imagine asking if you have one of those is a little bit rhetorical - I figure we all have those.

For me?  I'd always held the possibility of a Drakengard 3 close.  While an almost impossible thing to consider, given that I don't think the series ever really had much traction -anywhere-, I still couldn't help it.  And even with the dissolving of Cavia, I wished, I hoped there was still some sort of faint glimmer of possibility.  Just let the Cavia dudes do what they do, that's all I wanted.

Every now and then, it happens.  You don't know why, you don't know how, but it does, and it is pretty much one of the best feelings.  You want these things because you think they're impossibilities, so to see them given life is almost surreal, but it's entirely pleasant.  Of course, the news that it gets better helps as well.  News like the entire team behind Drakengard 1/Nier are getting back together for this is something that almost seems to elevate the impossibility to an entire new tier, forgetting that that's nonsensical.  Seeing that Yoko Taro was the glaring thing missing from Drakengard 2, and given how it turned out, while he was present for Drakengard 1 and Nier, it's not a small comfort that he's directing this.  It's almost the perfect thing to assuage any and all early fears.

There are some slight details leaking out already, but I would like to wait until there's a bit more so I can expound on them fully, when I'm confident that we won't get a whole new stream of information directly after I present the initial bits.  For now, I just want to sort of savor the reality of the situation here.  Drakengard 3 is a reality and it's already looking pretty damn sweet from what's been leaked.

Things just keep looking up, folks.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Darkwood Looks Downright Terrifying

Just....just watch that.

There's a lot I could say to that.  A lot.  But I don't want to, not right now.  I think it would cheapen what's there unless properly given time to fully digest what is shown as viable in that trailer.

So, I will probably edit in some real-talk tomorrow, but for tonight?  Just watch it.

Watch it and be afraid.  Or at least slightly unnerved.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Good Lord, This SimCity Thing is a Disaster

I am pretty sure I don't exactly have to elucidate the situation that is SimCity, as it is a thing that has been at the forefront of pretty much everywhere.  For good reason, too, since it is a case where this thing has been, as I say, wobbled so drastically that it's ripe for mockery and derision.  Not a single facet of this entire experiment has been particularly -good-, but merely yet another vessel through which we find yet another reason to collectively put our palms to our foreheads and sigh in something of a mix of disappointment and confusion.  It's hard to think that EA and Maxis, who have been doing this Sim thing in various forms for decades, could have gotten it so wrong with this installment, one that was meant to be a reboot, to bring the series back to 'glory' as they say.  And yet, they did.

If you -have- somehow missed out on the whole deal with SimCity, I would like to know what sites you frequent to ensure that.  More to the point, I can give a little bit of a run-down here so you're definitely caught up and just so we can all rub it in just a tad more.  When the game launched on March 5th, same day as Tomb Raider, the initial flood of players did just what it does with every game that requires online and crashed the ever-loving hell out of the servers, completely putting them out of commission.  Which, since the game has that pesky always-online DRM, requiring an internet connection to constantly affirm that you are totally playing a legit copy of the game, means that nobody got to play it.  Or, at least, very, very few people got to play it.

The problems only expanded as two days ticked by and the game was officially released everywhere aside from North America which caused an even bigger server strain which meant even more people 'owned' SimCity and could not play it.  EA issued a statement saying they would be adding more servers to address the issue over the next couple of days, yet here it is, the 10th, and not a whole lot has -actually- changed.  Presumably more people have, indeed, been able to play, but 10,000 people over 1,000 people is also still -more- so 'more' is honestly not indicative of a clear percentage of people who own the game and can actually play it with a degree of reliability.  Which is, of course, a Bad Thing™.  You know you have a problem on your hands when the company actually asks people to stop promoting the game until it works right and disabling parts of the game to expedite that process.

On the eighth, there was an official update about the situation as well as a little bit of a peace offering.  On top of dedicating 120% more server space, everyone who bought SimCity will be eligible for a 'free PC download game from the EA portfolio' which is a sort of nebulous statement.  Common sense would dictate that it's a pre-determined title, but the wording leaves it open to interpret that perhaps you get to -choose- a title (up to a certain dollar amount, likely, which will preclude 'new' releases).  We'll find that out on the 18th, when players will get an email with details on just how to redeem their game, but either way, free stuff is free and that always goes a long way to placate folks.  It's certainly not something you'll ever find me complaining about unless the situation is far more drastic.  "Oh, I'm sorry, I broke your leg in three places, here have a free PSN game" or the like.  I will assault you with my crutches, sir.

Now, we're being assured that 'the worst is behind us' which sounds very nice, of course, but it's not, really.  I never really understood people openly rebelling against this game, against this concept until this whole thing.  Until all of it made me realize just what the critical flaw of SimCity is:  Whether or not you get to play the game is wholly dependent on EA.  We talk about digital licenses and 'loaning' games to you, not actually 'selling' them and by and large, there's some truth in that, but this is just blatant.  Look up how many games EA turns the servers off of ever year and see just how new -some- of those games just happen to be.  Not, like, year old new, of course, but similarly not decade old either.  So for your $60 investment (or more), you only get to play this new SimCity for as long as EA is willing to hold servers aloft for it which is certainly not going to be more than....six years, I'll say.

There is no way to play SimCity Offline and an idea to do an Offline Mode has already been nixed as a possibility, which of course wouldn't normally preclude it from being possible eventually, but I highly doubt it.  The reason provided, you see, is that the actual simming part of SimCity is apparently done server-side (to incorporate other players into it and the like, all those lovely 'social' features that require it being online) so your game is less a game and more a conduit for input.  And, of course, it's pretty much persistent.  I've heard stories already from people who were locked out of playing the game for a while, only to come back to disaster and unrest because, well, the city went on even though you couldn't continue to play it and guide it.  That, to me, is the most damning thing about the whole situation, and is one good reason why I would never personally look into procuring the game for myself - but also because, as stated, that's a technical impossibility.  It's just absolutely baffling how they took SimCity as a concept, a single-player thing, and turned it into this.  Absolutely miserable.