Monday, April 29, 2013

Game Dev Tycoon Has Hilarious Anti-Piracy Measures

Doing fun things to the coding of your games that are only visible on pirated versions of it is not a new concept by any means, but it is almost always a fun one to explore.  These little bits of coding, whatever they set off, it's solely intended on being viewed by someone who has not actually paid money for your game, nor gone through anyone who paid money for it either (like a gifting option).  As such, you might expect them to be mean-spirited or even just nasty, yet I can't honestly name one instance of that - everything basically boils down to electrifying the cookie jar lid so that you get a little shock when you try to sneak one before dinner.  You cast a sheepish look around and spot someone just giving you a knowing smirk - the trap-setter - and the two of you share a shrug.  No harm done, I suppose, but you've got to play by the rules now.  After all, you just literally got caught red-handed.

Take this instance for example, if you would:  Game Dev Tycoon is a game where you start up a game development company sometime in the 80s as a small operation with the intention of building it into a big brand that releases blockbuster titles.  It's not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last, and it's a genuinely interesting concept if nothing else.  It has a natural, obvious progression and for the most part, it's something you could likely sink time into 'indefinitely', except I imagine there's a point where the game 'ends' because of the years that have passed, if nothing else, and your success is measured then.  Maybe I'm wrong on that, however.  Regardless, if you're a legitimate purchaser and player of the game, you'll be able to have a nice, thriving company if you run it right.  However, if you've not purchased the game, eventually the games that your studio is making will start getting pirated more and more, and sold less and less.  Such a recipe is only good for disaster and, eventually, your company will go bankrupt.

This was the scenario that played out for a staggering 94% of initial playersNinety-four.  Of the 3,318 copies of the game that were floating around through the internet after its initial release, only 214 of them were purchased legitimately and it's thanks to this little anti-piracy scheme that we're seeing the true scope of this kind of figure.  People took to message boards, not-so-innocently lamenting the fact that they were unable to actually complete the game proper because their studios kept closing.  "Why are there so many pirates?  They're ruining my studio!" is exclaimed, yet nobody really understands the subtle irony to it because it is not exactly subtle, being the majority.  There's something funny about one or two people who pirated the game taking to message boards and voicing their confusion at a very obvious issue, as it always is in these situations.  There's something incredibly sad when those boards get flooded and it's less the outlier and more the norm.

I'll not get into the philosophical debate about whether or not piracy actually leads to lost income in developers since every side to the argument ends up going over semantics about entitlement and it's just not a fun conversation any way you slice it.  I will, however, say that I think this is absolutely brilliant if just for the subtle jab it takes that couldn't help but look for a better impact with the 95% piracy rate of the game.  Seriously, it's $8.  It's made by a handful of guys.  You seriously can't spend $8 to support these dudes for making a game that you obviously want to play?  And the "Piracy-As-Demo" idea doesn't fly considering there's an actual demo of the game.  With any luck, the exposure their story has gotten from the little piracy thing will divert a few sales their way since they deserve some money if just for providing a good laugh.  Yeah, their game isn't completely totally original, but what is anymore?  If it works and if it's fun, that's all that matters.

"wait my studio closed because of piracy?  geez, it's like karma or something"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Terraria on Vita Can't Come Fast Enough

Today, I finally got to wrap my hands around a 360 controller as Minecraft for the mentioned system was loaded up and, indeed, I actually played it, which is something that, before today, I had not done.  Being a creative mode game that was already loaded up, I did the only thing that you do in Creative - I built.  At first, I was frozen with the possibilities; after all, this is a game where literally everything that is grand and wondrous has been made, basically, and anything you can do will hardly pale in comparison.  Yet, we try anyway because the thrill is there no matter what, and eventually I settled on making what everyone more or less ends up making first.

I made a house. 

Rather, I constructed a house.  The semantics, I'm glad to say, are more about the amount of pride used rather than the logistics of it.  I didn't just throw up four walls and smash a door in.  No, I laid down a framework of pillars and built walls in between.  I carved out beneath them and laid down a stone foundation surrounding those walls.  I slammed wooden floors in place.  I created a floor rug with colored wool.  And then I threw down stairs for a second floor and basement both.  I furnished the place.  Without so much as a floor plan, without so much as a preconceived notion of just what this thing was going to look like, I had already put together something quite nice, especially for a first effort.

And then I worked on the second floor.  I extended it out a single block around the edge of the first floor and hopped down, adding supports at the four corners, using fence posts that dropped down to a single wooden block.  Then those wooden blocks were supplemented with stairs that served as a sort of 'trim' to add depth to the facade as they covered the entire bottom layer of the outside of the house.  A set of wooden logs surrounded the front doors to create a 'frame' while also adding depth.  Then, building up the new walls of the new floor, I separated it into the 'landing' from the stairs and a nice bedroom within which I used half-slabs to create nice varieties in height, building up to a focal point where the beds went.  It was about this time that my 360 time was cut short and while I was nowhere near complete, I still held something of satisfaction.

I'm not done, however.  I cannot physically finish that house now, nor can I begin the project anew here, being that I don't own a copy of the game, nor the means with which I can actually play it.  I have an urge to create, to construct, yet no outlet with which to do so other than LittleBigPlanet which I can't get back into at the moment because Soul Sacrifice drops Tuesday and I'm going to play that thing.  It's not quite the same either.  Nor is my other outlet, Terraria, but it will be something different enough, new enough, that I should be able to play with it whenever it comes out.  That's the rub, however, the 'whenever' is not Tuesday, nor next Tuesday, nor the Tuesday following.  And, essentially, I need it now, not then.  My urge to construct will have to take a backseat to my urge to destroy, to cast spells, to fell monsters and that's something that I'm generally fine with.

Still, I really want to play Terraria.  I want to build a house.  I want to find a snow-covered area and build an igloo.  Then I want to build a -riduclous- igloo.  It will please me.  Especially since the game is coming out during the summer and it'll be nice to think cool thoughts.  As in thoughts involving cool and/or cold things.  Not things that are awesome and neat.  Well..that too, but you get my point.

please, Mojang, let 4J port Minecraft to the friggin' Vita, I will love you forever with 20 of my US dollars

Friday, April 26, 2013

Huzzah, Relaxation

Today is the day that I've been looking forward to since....well, Tuesday.  Rather, tonight is because tonight is the first time in two weeks where I was and am able to feel the freedom of nothingness.  No obligations to go to bed at a certain time, to schedule this or that, to wake up at a specific time.  No need to keep this and that in mind for tomorrow for work since I don't -have- work tomorrow.  I got to lay down after work today and just let all that seep out and it felt good.  It felt so good that it basically rocked me to sleep as, two hours later, I awoke in a better mood than I even anticipated being in.  It's honestly something that I didn't even know I missed last weekend when I was sick and it's all the sweeter for having been so long, even if I'm not much of a fan of it taking this long to actually have this feeling.

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with the weekend per se, but I know that I'm going to be doing a lot of leaving the house (unfortunately), so it's looking like my Vita is getting time regardless.  To be fair, I probably would be playing around with it anyway for reasons that I will get into in a moment, but it sort of takes the questioning out of the equation which spoils it just a tad.  I like to at least pretend I have plans to play my poor, neglected PS3 again so I can jump back into Deus Ex:  Human Revolution, REVENGEANCE, Tomb Raider and/or Nier, or play one of the games that I haven't even started that I've been saying for about two months that I need to start.  But there's always next weekend for that, I suppose, and next weekend, well, I can always say there's the following.  Procrastination is magical like that.

It does have at least a little bit of merit this time around, however, as I do have an over-arching meta-goal in Disgaea 3 Vita that I am going to accomplish.  I have stated several times that Dinah is going to be my Avatar of Extreme and Unyielding Murder JUSTICE and for a little bit, I thought I had seated her on that very position.  Post-game, however, has a bit of arguing on that point to do, and it is convincing to be sure, coming in the form of the ever-difficult Tyrant Overlord Baal.  Not even the super-secret final form, but just the regular reskinned mushroom enemy form.  But as you can see above, my training of Dinah has barely even begun, so it's not especially surprising that I haven't taken him down quite yet.

Oh, I'm sorry, you think I'm kidding?  You look at the above image and see that Dinah is level 9999 and go "But Mogs, just where can you go from here"?  You, my friend, must not know the depths of insanity that Disgaea travels to, and you must not have been paying attention to my previous posts on the subject.  Getting Dinah to level 9999 the first time is a mere accomplishment and notice that I said "The first time" - after I clear out the main story once more, I'm going to reincarnate her back to 1 so I can do the whole thing over again.  And this time, I'll be able to add even more insanity to the proceedings - I'll be visiting Dinah's Class World to pump her up so that her gains over this span of 9998 levels will be that much more inflated....and then I'll reincarnate her again and do it over again.  And again and again.  And again.

I have a -lot- of ground to cover, you see, as Mushroom Baal, at base, has 1.7 million ATK, which you can see easily trumps Dinah's measily 242K ATK, with his Defense roughly in the same lines.  With successive training, reincarnating and Class World visiting, however, Dinah's stats will only get better and better with every iteration of her form, and that's even before I finally step properly into the insanity of the Item World, which is not something I'm relishing even in the slightest.  Yet the benefits will be great for what I'm promised is minimal, but tedious, endeavoring.  Basically when I have conquered Mushroom Baal, I will call my relationship with Disgaea 3 severed, but not a moment before.  Because Baal has issued me a challenge, you see.

And Dinah is going to answer that shit.

seriously, she is going to wipe the fucking floor with Baal when I'm done.  Maybe

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bonus Post: No Nintendo E3 Conference This Year

The title of this one basically says the big part of it - Nintendo's not holding a big E3 spectacle like usual this year.  Instead, they're going to focus on doing more and more little Nintendo Directs up to E3, while also holding the things around E3 that they -usually- do.  Make no mistake, Nintendo isn't eschewing E3 completely, but simply the only thing that we generally associate with E3 in the big presser event.  You know, the thing we look forward to every year, that people make up Bingo cards for, drinking games for, and generally cluster up with to hold little E3 parties over, whether it be in person or (far more commonly) over mass-party areas like IRC and the like.  The thing that is kind of a big fucking deal regardless of whether or not it actually 'is' a big deal.

On the one hand, I get it - Nintendo Directs instead of E3 Presser Event means that most of the E3 stuff that we don't care about "here's how awesomely/poorly this thing sold" and the like, gets filtered out because they're holding a private press event to do just that sort of thing.  Therefore, all you get in the Directs then, is the condensed 'awesome' from what would have been the E3 event.  That's the theory of it, at least.  In theory, because of that, we as gamers sort of win out because we don't have to sit through the boring to get to the great for Nintendo, and I'm sure we're all hoping for something great from Nintendo.  The Wii U could really use it, and use it in a bad way if they want a boom of sales rather than the Nintendo inevitable slow-burn.  Not like, "Here's footage of the new, not Wind Waker HD Zelda" but more like "Here's the Wii U running Grand Theft Auto 5 with an exclusive character that joins the other three with his/her own missions and integration into the story".  (Which won't happen, I'm arguing magnitudes, obviously)

On the other hand, fuck all that.  Call me traditional if you must, but I just prefer the whole big E3 Presser thing because it's been built around in such a way that the stuff surrounding it is almost more important than it is.  I mentioned E3 parties, Bingo cards and the like - there's not a whole lot you can do for those based around Nintendo Directs.  For one thing, Directs are generally announced like...very shortly before the actual event.  If I had to put any amount of time on it, I'd have to say a week at most, and what are you going to do in a week?  Well....a lot, probably, since you can make a Bingo Card in one night, but the point is that there's no real time to sit and anticipate and stew beyond the initial bout of it.  Look at the difference here - Sony and Microsoft have E3 pressers, obviously, where they will be showing off a bunch of stuff for the PS4 and NeXtBox.  We know this.  We've known this for months.  The rumors are flying left and right, speculation is broiling constantly at a fever pitch about what's going to be there and what isn't and what big megaton announcements could happen.  And we know when they're going to happen.

Some non-specific Nintendo Directs that'll happen sometime around E3?  How in the world will we know what to be ready for?  On one hand, I suppose that carries its own excitement since it'll spring up and likely be big anyway, but on the other hand it's a lot more frantic, a lot less known and a lot less enjoyable.  "Oh, they're probably going to show Smash Bros. sometime" is not the same thing as "I wonder if Gabe Newell is going to walk out on stage at the Sony Presser again".  Which isn't to say, I guess, that Gabe Newell couldn't up during a Nintendo Direct either for surprise factor.  I suppose hat is really killing it for me is the complete lack of structure for it all that we know about.  Obviously it's structured on Nintendo's side and I just like that whole thing being transparent, rather than a surprise.  It was just hard to get excited for it since they've already announced a lot of what they were going to show at E3 (meaning less room for big surprises) and now it's even harder because I don't know when they hell they're going to talk about the things they were going to show off at E3.

Regardless, the low-key approach is going to work for Nintendo based on the fanbase, the fat-cutting and the potential for surprises.  Also the threshold for working Nintendo fans into a lather is "show a new Mario or Zelda", apparently.  (Look at reactions for Link to the Past 2 if you think I'm oversimplifying it too much)  Being that there's the chance for Wind Waker HD footage, LTTP2 footage and/or footage of the new, ground-breaking Wii U Zelda on top of guaranteed Smash Bros. roster reveals and footage, there's going to be a lot of clamor about how much Nintendo won E3 without actually doing E3.  (Ignoring that they're still at E3, on the show floor and everything)  Hopefully these Directs mean that they're not going to wait til after June 9th (Animal Crossing's release date) to announce something megaton for the 3DS, however.  (Like a new model or a price drop.  Both of which would rattle my fucking ire like crazy if it happened days after I plop down $220 for the XL that I'm only getting because it's not washed-out Red or Blue)

seriously, why would you release that so goddamn close to E3, what are you doing, Nintendo

NeXtBox Reveal Scheduled for May 21st

There's no uncertain terms used here, no rumor, no speculation about it - this is direct from the source.  The reveal for the NeXtBox is the 21st, 19 days before their E3 conference.  So, if nothing else, now we actually have confirmation that there is a NeXtBox that is happening.  Even though it was obvious that there was and all that, nothing's true until it's confirmed, etc. etc. all that stuff.
On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox LIVE and If you are in the US or Canada, you can also watch the broadcast on Spike TV.

On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.

We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.
Should you want to tune in to see just what in the hell about the machine is actually going to get confirmed and what isn't, your options are pretty simple:, XBox Live and Spike TV for USA and Canada - the former because it's obvious and the latter because Spike is always doing gaming-centric things like this without relying on it.  You like, like G4 did.  You remember G4, right?  No?  Well...that's about what I've got on that part...Moving on then.

The current standing on the rumor mill seems to be as thus:

  • The Console will be Always Online meaning if you have no internet, you have no games.  Another, new-ish rumor states it as "must be Internet-Connected to use", yet tries to differentiate from "Always Online" which suggests perhaps a check-in thing at starting a game, similar to Steam.  Still, no internet means you can't start a game in that case, so it's not much better if true.
  • There's possibly an "XBox Mini" component to the NeXtBox that will allow Backwards a very complicated way.  Though a digital-only box (if stand-alone), it can connect to your NeXtBox to allow you to play your 360 titles (Digital and Disk-based, using the NeXtBox Disk drive, but the box's hardware) on your NeXtBox instead of just on the 360 itself.  Think Sega.  The newer rumor dictates that this unit was designated "Yuma" and is indefinitely delayed.
  • As per those conflicting rumors, Backwards Compatibility is up in the air leaning towards "No, not going to happen".
  • Windows 8 Base (ugh)
  • Two models, two pricetags - a Stand-alone unit for $499 and a Model where you're locked into Live for 2 years (at $10/month) at $299 (So, end price $548)
  • Every model ships with a Kinect 2.0 that will be integrated into the console from the get-go, meaning it might start being 'required' by games
  • 2013 Holiday launch
  • The technical specs will be roughly around the PS4's, though possibly with less RAM and/or lesser quality RAM
First off, no way are we getting a price or a proper release window on the 21st, so let's just not worry about that right now.  Those will be E3 announcements and if they're not, then they're going into E3 with a lot of steam built-up already, or a lot of ire that the actual conference will become secondary to end-capping the price, whatever it ends up being. The XBox Mini rumor is so goddamn convoluted that I didn't care to write about it when it came out and I almost left it out here, but since it's in the new-ish rumor page about the Internet-Connected bit, it was officially 'enough' for me to mention it.  That rumor also negates it, so it's probably not happening, but it possibly could still, I guess.  I hope not because it sounds like a lot more trouble than it's worth since it's not going to be something you can just plug into the NeXtBox and work off that power, so it'll be two draws and goddamnit, just buy a 360.  The NeXtBox likely cannot upscale Halo 4 enough that it's worth the hassle.

Backwards Compatibility is likely a no-go, which is sort of a bigger issue for the NeXtBox than it is the PS4, though it's still a very big issue for the PS4 as well.  For a while, XBox Live Arcade was the place to be if you were a digital-focused developer, and with as many promotions and all the weight that XBLA built up because of that focus, there is just a higher-probability that you have digital games on a 360 than a PS3.  And that you're much more attached to those because of some of the ones that have remained exclusive, or the ones that you have unfinished cheevos with or what have you.  Basically, there was always talk about how XBLA was a 'bigger deal' than PSN and now, for better or worse, that school of thought is going to bite back if it's true.  And if the structure of the NeXtBox is so radically different (and in-line with what the PS4 is, more or less) then yeah, it's hard to imagine XBLA/360 games will emulate on it natively.  I'm hopeful, but I was hopeful for the PS4 as well.

The price thing, even though it won't be touched on, is what really riles me up more than anything at this point, however.  I absolutely cannot fucking stand the 'subscription-subsidized' pricing model and I wish it would fucking die.  Yes, I realize that it's the 'right thing' for a lot of people because it's easier to scrape together X amount of money at any one given time than Y amount and sometimes 'just save up' isn't viable because money just kind of goes places.  I understand this.  Here's the rub though:  nobody fucking cares.  This isn't the reason why this sort of thing exists, it's not something to help folks get in by letting them pay less up-front.  It's about making more in the end and it's about marketing.  The $99 dollar 360 exists solely so Microsoft can get away with saying "The XBox 360 is only $99" because it's technically true since you're only paying $99 initially for the box.  But you're not leaving said store with only $99 gone from your account (not accounting from tax) and it's a shit-head practice because of that.  That it's going to continue into next gen (and it is, I have no doubt about that) bothers the shit out of me for fear that it will begin to edge out proper purchasing methods.

Anyway, the stuff that isn't the release window and price will likely get talked about in so many ways on the 21st and, for better or worse, we'll finally have a sort of PS4/NeXtBox comparison readily available.  We'll finally be able to see those two, plus the Wii U and really know what's going to be up with the next five or so years in gaming.  It's....actually almost a little much to think about.  It's a  lot to worry about as well, since even if you're not planning on buying a NeXtBox (Which a lot of people honestly aren't, thanks to the Always Online concerns) it will be a big deal, and it will have some sort of impact on the gaming ecosystem in some form.  There will be people who will say that it does and will affect it in a bad way, and it's just up in the air for now as to how many will say it and how 'right' they actually are about that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Haven't Talked About BLOOD DRAGON Yet

After you watch the above video, you'll know why this is a Bad Thing™ that I haven't yet.

So I'll give you some time to do that.


It's a bad thing because BLOOD DRAGON is every shade of fucking awesome.

I need only remind of my love for absurdity and I think it all becomes crystal clear since Far Cry 3:  Blood Dragon is quite possibly one of the most absurd things to happen to video games in a long time and that is a very good thing.  I mean, if someone does a Live-Action trailer for the game where the main character gets into a cyber katana duel with a robot while a shockwave from a nuclear explosion barrels towards them, you have to give it up for that shit.  Because that's not the craziest bit about the game by a long shot and it's still so fucking awesome that I cannot emphasize the point enough and I think you realize that by now.

If you don't know what Far Cry 3:  Blood Dragon is beyond the sparse ramblings of "it's fucking awesome" that I've put forth, it's....well, rather unique to explain.  Basically Dinosaurs got busy with the 80s and injected pure Neon into the baby.  If you think I'm joking then perhaps have a look at some of the more official things attached to the project, eh?

The Logo, plus some....endorsements.

The official reveal trailer for the game

A screenshot literally steeped in Neon Lights

I guess I can throw down some actual technical aspects of this thing since that's about the only coherent thing you'll get from me about it.  Blood Dragon is a stand-alone expansion to Far Cry 3 coming out for PSN, XBLA and Steam which means you do not have to own Far Cry 3 to buy and play Blood Dragon.  It's simply built off of the same engine which is fairly evident.  Of course, you -should- own Far Cry 3 because it was fantastic as well, even if Blood Dragon will literally be better than it in every conceivable way.  It's set for release on May 1st which means there is no reason it shouldn't be the very first game you buy in May, especially since it'll only be $15.  (I believe)  Being that it's built on the Far Cry 3 engine, it's carrying over a lot of tenets from that game, even if it paints them all with neon and badassness - people might've noticed a neon bow and arrow in the trailer, plus the knife which looked like a futuristic dragon dagger (like you eventually get in FC3), so those remain, as will at least some of the wildlife.  The free-roaming island won't be anywhere near as large as FC3's, but it'll still be expansive to be sure and similarly filled with things to do, like larger outposts to infiltrate and conquer.

I...really don't know what else I can say.  I really don't think there's anything else I have to say.

You want Blood Dragon.

Buy it.

fuck yeah Blood Dragon fuck yeah

Monday, April 22, 2013

Soul Sacrifice - Demo of the Year of All Years

In what continues to be a rather pleasing trend, I have picked up yet another something and found little to be disappointed with it.  Because of my whole snafu with the sickness thing, I didn't really get to put any time into Soul Sacrifice (given that afterward, I wanted to enjoy something light-hearted, which I did in Dragon Fantasy Book I as mentioned) and, in truth, I sort of forgot about it.  Earlier, I plugged in yet more time into Disgaea 3:  Absence of Detention, plodding Dinah closer and closer to Level 9999 (which it seems I might just have to achieve to grant her victory over a surprisingly difficult foe) and it was only after a random flip through my pages that I caught glimpse of the icon for the demo again.  And after some outside prodding, I decided to throw my hand back into it - after all, the only time I spent playing it was half-asleep and that's hardly fair to the game itself.

So I played the demo some more tonight....and I played and I played and suddenly an hour had gone by.  Let it be known that I was thoroughly entertained by this point, if that much was not already decidedly obvious.  Let it also be known that I had not a single clue of what the hell.

I don't mean that in a bad way, and it's understandable as I'm still a little hazy and sick because of sinus and allergy issues, but I can't effectively quantify what I experienced in the half a dozen missions I slammed through to draw closer and closer to a conclusion of the Ordeal.  It was intense, it was fast, it was chaotic, but most important of all, it was fun.  It was absolutely enjoyable and I have no earthly idea what ideas and executions are responsible for this, but I also don't really care.  To be honest, I feel an itching to jump right back into it now, but I will abstain for several reasons, most of which are completely responsible.  Totally.  Super responsible.  Unfortunately.

The basic gist, I have down and it's actually quite a bit refreshing in that it damn near reminds me of Phantasy Star Online which is a surprise that I never would have expected.  Not in so many ways, but in the particular binding of spells or offerings to the Square, Triangle and Circle buttons, where X is your dash and R switches to a separate palate of the same three buttons with different spells.  That's....where the similarities end, of course, but that momentary familiarity brought me immense pleasure and brought a level of comfort into the experience that I might not have had otherwise.  From there it gets more complicated, depending on the spell you're actually using of course.  Some spells require a charging time, others some aiming and then firing, while still others alter your attack pattern entirely for a duration, such as making a sword out of ice that you can either chain attacks with or hold for a long combo attack.

Perhaps because of the inclusion of "Soul" in the title and the tonal similarities with concept art and such, I think there were a lot of misconceptions about the game early on, thinking it would be a sort of "Souls" game (Demon's or Dark) in that it would be at least semi-open world.  In fact, it could not be more opposite, given that it seems every mission is an arena battle, basically, which is kind of a hard sell I should think.  Though, knowing that it was going to be that type of game also put illusions into some people's heads that it would be Monster Hunter + Grimdark which it decidedly is not either.  It is -far- too fast-paced and, er, responsive to be a Monster Hunter clone, of which I am quite thankful.

Regardless of what its intention was, what Soul Sacrifice ended as was an enjoyable thing to be sure.  The demo is something that I'm going to hop into several times between now and my purchase of the game, and I look for more entertaining fights the caliber of which I saw tonight.  For instance, one battle ended when a Ghoul (basically a large, undead bird) was zooming down towards me and I threw down the Stone Clod offering which brought a giant Stone Fist up through the ground.  The fist uppercut the Ghoul straight out of the air and killed it.  If that is not satisfying, friends, then I cannot tell you what is.

I seriously laughed so much....and then I made a "Flipping the Bird" pun which didn't end well

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Okay, I Was -Really- Sick This Time

I hate feeling like I am doing just a lot of sick posts, but, well, I can't exactly help it when I am constantly getting into varying states of sickness during these lovely Spring months.  'Lovely' meaning 'terrible', of course.  Because they are.  Terrible.  Very terrible.  The worst.

Anyway, this was a fun weekend and when I say 'fun', I mean 'full of soul-crushing agony' that you will certainly understand if you've had food poisoning and/or a particularly nasty stomach flu in recent times.  I'm leaning more towards the latter, but the point is that my Friday consisted of nasty things that are associated with those two ailments that I'm sure you do not want me to go into detail about, and my Saturday and today have consisted of recovering from said ailment.  Or rather, I should say today, since Saturday I was mostly still in a haze since Friday (the entirety of Friday, it hit around 12:30-1:00 AM) and Saturday sort of...blended in together.  Except the terrible things were mostly on Friday, of course.  Which is why I'm thinking it was some sort of 24-hour bug which is not uncommon!  And I believe two of my co-workers had just recovered from something similar.  Or just recovered from -something- nasty since one of them was still pale Thursday.  You know....the day before I conspicuously got sick.  Hmm.

Unfortunately, the horrors that accompany a sickness that I experienced this weekend sort of preclude one from getting much accomplished.  Being that I was barely able to walk around the house with only minor errors and only such occasions that deemed it necessary like hurried trips to unmentionable places or to get some water or take a pill that I don't know actually accomplished anything, I wasn't exactly in a place for gaming or anything like that either.  Strange, right?  I'm ashamed to say that I actually checked my Twitter on Saturday through my Vita because I am kind of a Twitter whore now, but that's basically been my entire involvement with technology until today. was different.  Very different.  Feeling refreshed, even though not 100% better, I was able to plug solid hours into Dragon Fantasy Book I and actually managed to complete the entirety of its offerings.  I hope to have a write-up about it in the next few days but here's a little Spoiler Alert:  It's pretty damn fantastic.  Did you like Dragon Warrior as a kid?  If you said yes, then buy this game.  If you said no then I don't even know what to say, you heathen.  Of course I'm kidding.  Of course I am.  Mostly.  Somewhat.

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to drop in a line and let you folks know what went wrong this time around.  I did post about it on my Twitter a few times, but, again, the damn widget broke and there's not another one I can use and it's annoying as hell.  Since I got into the habit of using it for specifically this type of thing.  Oh well.  Hopefully back to normal...again....starting tomorrow!

I'm seriously not kidding what the hell is wrong with you, not liking Dragon Warrior

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nintendo Announced Some Things

Yesterday saw yet another Nintendo Direct wherein Nintendo saw it fit to throw even more things on the 3DS, finer-tuning their laser focus while....mostly ignoring the Wii U still.  Which is kind of the exact opposite priorities they should probably have at the moment considering the 3DS can probably carry on its own momentum for a while, whereas the Wii U needs help desperately, but hey, what do I know.  I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the disparity of success between the -other- things in the respective markets or anything like that.  Regardless, like most Directs, there was some reiteration of some points while also providing a few rather large announcements that deserve a mention.

The biggest news, certainly, is that a sequel to The Legend of Zelda:  A Link to the Past is in the works for 3DS.  Yes, a sequel.  A direct sequel.  In Legend of Zelda.  (Yeah, it's happened before, but that was a -while- ago)  Or at least a game that takes place in the exact same world as A Link to the Past, albeit with a brand new story, new dungeons and the like.  Something else that it adds that I'm a little undecided about is Link's ability to turn paper-thin and walk along walls which is, obviously new to the series and a decided reference to Paper Mario.  While it is an interesting mechanic, I can't help but look at it, scratch my head and say "Why? because it is...more than a little confusing.  It seems superfluous at best and the only thing I can figure is that it's the answer to the "Dark World" transformation that, for a little while, turned Link into a bunny.  But that was not a mechanics thing and it wasn't permanent, so I don't even know what to think.

Those aren't the only sequels that are now heading for the 3DS however!  Joining LTTP2 is yet another Mario Party and a sequel to Yoshi's Island, also known as "That game with Baby Mario".  And yes, Baby Mario returns and yes, he probably cries very horribly once again.  Possibly.  From what I can tell, there is damn near no information on either game except a screenshot of Yoshi's Island 2 (probably not the title) showing Yoshi with Baby Mario on his back in an area similar to the original with a slightly different aesthetic.  One comment states that it looks more watercolor than crayon which is very astute.  Yoshi's Island, I can understand since that was a game that people liked, despite its issues, but when has Mario Party been relevant after the first three iterations?  No online play was mentioned which probably means there will be none which means....there is very little incentive to buy it unless you are constantly around people who have 3DSes and you all want to play what amounts to a board game on them, I suppose.

It's not like there wasn't -any- Wii U news announced at this Direct thing, however!  Next week, the oft-mentioned Spring System Update is hitting, which brings a lot of little improvements to the Wii U's overall workings.  Faster Load times, the ability to boot right into Wii Mode and some fancy things with downloading games and updates for said games in the background are all included as well as the actual, really real Wii U Virtual Console.  As in the platform that will allow you to buy NES, SNES and eventually GBA and N64 (and possibly other systems) games and play them with full integration to the Wii U's features, including the ability to play directly on the tablet to free up your TV.  Also Miiverse stuff, which I suppose is good since it is apparently to thank for Earthbound getting a VC release.  Apparently a flood of Miiverse posts and the like wanting Earthbound is what inspired them to do that.  That' know, probably not true, since doing something like this isn't a magic wand type of deal, but it's nice all the same.

Of course, the bit I'm most interested in, if you couldn't tell, is that the Animal Crossing 3DS XL Bundle is coming to NA, which is the thing at the top of this post.  It's not exactly what I want, and I know I'm going to be disappointed by New Leaf, but I want a 3DS XL and my only other options are Washed-out Red or Blue, maybe pink, and the special Pika-Nipples Yellow unit.  (Seriously, I bet you can't unsee it now)  So I figure, I'm getting New Leaf, I'm getting a 3DS XL and that one's not -bad-.  Besides, the version of the game is digital, coming pre-loaded on a 4 gig SD stick (that is easily moved to a bigger stick which is exactly what I'm going to do), so I'll be able to have it available whenever in case I feel like just hopping into it for a bit between Harvest Moon sessions.

There were a few other announcements, but those are the main ones that grabbed me in any way, so they're the only ones I'm really concerning myself with bringing up.  It seems pretty divisive, with either people being in the "oh shit the is all of the amazing at the same time" camp or people being in the "meh" camp about it.  With the people from the former camp being absolutely disgusted at the people in the latter, it seems.  Obviously, I'm more in the latter camp since even a sequel to my favorite Legend of Zelda game only has me wary instead of excited, but maybe that'll change when we start getting some more information about it.  Still, I guess it's a successful Direct, since they've finally convinced me to part with 220 of my dollars come June 9th, and I'm probably going to pick up a few 3DS games between then and now in preparation for when I actually get my system.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dragon Fantasy Book I is Pretty Neat

With the whole late PS Store Update snafu, it's pretty easy to sort of write off the whole thing with a dismissive hand-wave until next week, but this week offers two very compelling reasons -not- to do that:  Dragon Fantasy Book I and the Soul Sacrifice demo.  Obviously, tonight is for talking about the former (and not just because it was the only one I could download, coming in at a very nice 90 MB) because I purchased it literally right when it was available and managed to play a little bit of it before the toll of today's work forced me to partake in a little napping.  Which I must stress was entirely due to work and not at all indicative of Dragon Fantasy's quality as nothing short of extreme and lasting pain would have kept me awake this afternoon.

Dragon Fantasy Book I is very much a game that reminds me of Dragon Warrior and I'm sure that is intended.  It is also delightful for me especially as, like I mentioned sometime previously, I spent a good chunk of my childhood time with my NES playing Dragon Warrior when I wasn't playing Crystalis.  The actual style and build of the games are similar in more than a few ways, from the window placement to the battle screen that just comes up offering a perspective on the enemy (perhaps multiple enemies later on?, maybe not, I don't think Dragon Warrior did), to the overall look and feel of it.  It's very much an homage, which is nice, and offers that little bit of nostalgia on top of doing its own thing, putting its own spin on the same type of mechanics and style.

Though I already mentioned it in a previous post about Dragon Fantasy, I really should bring up the whole graphics overhaul thing now that I have actually experienced it.  Contrary to what I thought, the 'Classic' graphics and music are tied together where the Redone things are similarly bundled, but that's not a bad thing by any means.  The way you handle it is going into the settings (Setup?) and finding the "Enhanced Mode" toggle.  It's instantaneous, the switch, without requiring a reboot of the game or anything like that.  So, if you were so inclined, you could just stop anywhere and toggle it just to see what it looked like and what it looks like now, which gives you a real understanding of the work that went into it.  But there really isn't anyway to quantify what the change is without actually showing it off, so I'll go ahead and do that.



That is literally the same area, same screen and everything since all I did was go into the menu, toggle it, take a screenshot, toggle it back and screenshot it again.  The only difference, of course, being that I waited long enough for the Status reminder window to pop up for the Enhanced version screenshot, but it's a little enough thing and the shots manage to show off everything well enough, I would say.  Some of the changes are subtle like Ogden (our main character for the first Chapter) and the town/village sprite, but they're definitely changed up and smoothed out to fit in with everything else that is most definitely a bit more dramatically different.  I'm playing it through on the Enhanced mode for now, only switching every now and then, but I might actually do a go in Original mode, depending on how long or short the game is and how much time that I have what with Soul Sacrifice hitting next week and the demo being out.  (Which I can hopefully download overnight)

I will say that I also called a definite integration of humor into the game based on the trailer that we got, however.  As you might be able to tell from the first screenshot I posted, the script has a definite level of snark and humor running through it that has been pretty refreshing and enjoyable so far.  They even managed to incorporate a Legend of Zelda reference (Literally the "It's dangerous to go alone!  Take this!") rather seamlessly into part of the opening bit of the first chapter.  On top of that, some of the monsters have a little humor injected into their own battles, such as whenever you fight a Mr. or Mrs. Rock Monster.  Their attack animations read in a way that suggests an interplay between the two, obviously, and is quite entertaining really.  Mrs. Rock Monster is played as the angry, nagging wife to Mr. Rock Monster who is either really unlucky, or is just really not happy in his relationship.  It's a little thing, but it's....honestly not something I've seen before, really, so it's worth a mention.

My time with Dragon Fantasy Book I has been brief, but I'm sure you can tell it's already left something of an impression on me, and I'm only more than happy to hop back into it.  It'll be a little rough juggling this and the Soul Sacrifice demo (and Disgaea 3 now that I've opened that door again because Dinah must become level 9999) but it'll be a worthy venture.  I'm curious to see how the multiple chapter/multiple character aspect of it plays out as well, since that's a throwback to another series of RPGs altogether.  If only there was more time in a day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yessssssss, Yessssssssssssss

I'm just doing a quick post tonight since I -was- going to do Dragon Fantasy impressions tonight, but the store isn't going to update and, to pass the time, I've been playing Disgaea 3.  Again.  Even though it is bad for my free time, productivity and sanity.

After an inhumanly terrible slog through Hall of Ordeals 3 (seriously, the map took me 76 turns of absolute fucking tedium involving throwing blocks up a tower and then throwing people so that I could, in turn, have them throw more blocks.  It was immeasurably stupid.), I unlocked Hall of Ordeals 4.  Now, the Hall of Ordeals levels have, at least for Disgaea 2 and, apparently 3, been prime grinding spots and Disgaea 3 puts a damn exclamation point on that shit.  You probably have no idea so allow me to elucidate the facts here as only someone who is obsessed with numbers can.

So, as you can sort of tell from the above screenshot, the map has nine enemies arranged in a 3x3 grid.  This grid just so happens to be on a 3x3 grid of Geotiles that just so happen to give +100% EXP.  And you'll notice that Dinah just so happens to be badass enough to clear that shit in a single attack.  (Specifically a Level 4 Big Bang attack)  The Base level of the enemies here is 400, so this is definitely advanced training grounds but once you get to the stage where you can make use of it....oh man.  It is the best spot you could ask for.

Dinah is currently Level 2400 and she was assuredly around 200 and change levels lower than that when I took the above screenshot.  Because not only does this map give fantastic XP, but it gives it fast.  As I am wont to do, I had it timed from the time I start the map to the time I start it again and, because I have animations turned off, it took ~20 seconds.  Given that I have about 4 or 5 Stronger Enemy Bills passed to raise the level from 400 to 810 currently (and I have 20 ranks of enemy levels to work with), this is something that you can grow -with- your character and it's's amazing.  Three entire clears in a single minute.  I'm averaging around 20 levels a go (which means I need to up the enemy ranks), but even if that were -all- you could hope for, that's 60 levels a minute which means 3600 levels an hour.  Obviously the numbers dip the higher your character gets which means you have to compensate by making them stronger which causes a peak and then another slow descent, but I'm sure you see what this is like.

It's like I'm experiencing another of the true insanities of Disgaea as a series for the first time.

I love it.

seriously this is amazing, she is level 2500 already from the few breaks that I took while writing this

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dragon Fantasy Book I Hits PS3, Vita Tomorrow

For like, the entire time since the Indie-Themed Spring Fever Sale was announced including Dragon Fantasy Book I, I was under the crazed impression that it was actually Dragon Fantasy Book II, which not only was announced first but also included in all of the big Indie Lists that I used to say "holy shit so many Indies" and has generally been a known quantity as coming out to the PS3 and Vita for a while now.  Obviously being called Book II insinuates that there's a Book I and with no real mention of it coming to the PS3/Vita as well, I more or less wrote Book I off as inconsequential.  Or at least hoped as much because I was going to buy the hell out of Book II no matter what.  Well, the only little thing holding me back from doing just that has officially been assuaged.

Dragon Fantasy Book I, as in the first book of what is possibly a series of games, being that there are at least two of them, is being released tomorrow as part of the already-mentioned Spring Fever Sale.  So when Dragon Fantasy Book II comes out sometime later on this year (calling it now, I'm saying the Summer Sale), we will have all already had the chance to be initiated in what type of game this is, had a chance to experience the world and the mechanics and story already so that the proper continuation of it will be able to do what it is meant to do - continuing on from where Book I leaves off.  Hopefully now that both games will be on the same platforms, there will be some way to tie data from one to the other if they did, in fact, do that in their original forms.  Because that is always really neat when games do that and not enough -really- do it anymore.

So what -is- Dragon Fantasy Book I, you're wondering?  Well, that's a pretty easy question to answer.  Dragon Fantasy Book I is a throwback to the classic RPGs of yore, your Final Fantasies before they got crazy convoluted, your Dragon Warriors before they were called Dragon Quest, these are the games to think of when you consider Dragon Fantasy Book I.  Which....makes sense.  Given that Dragon Fantasy could be seen as an amalgamation of Dragon Warrior/Quest and Final Fantasy in title alone.  I....hadn't actually noticed that until I started typing those sentences. Strange.  Anyway, the sprite style seems closer to Final Fantasy (basically FF1) and the combat style seems closer to Dragon Warrior 1 than anything which is an interesting combination if nothing else.  And since I played the hell out of Dragon Warrior 1 when I was a kid, I am all about this, suddenly.

I'm not prepared to say that it's a parody game, but the official trailer certainly paints the picture of a game that doesn't necessarily take itself super serious.  So at the very least, expect little bits of humor interspersed here and there, if not necessarily an outright humorous tale as you might expect from something out of Zeboyd Games.  Perhaps not a parallel I -should- be drawing, but, well, it's an easy one to make, really.  Zeboyd might not have revolutionized 'retro-humor' games or whatever, but they're certainly the biggest name of them at the moment, so it's inevitable that some allusions are going to be drawn if you focus on humor and retro-style graphics for your game for at least a little bit longer.  Personally, I don't see it as a bad thing, but I really can't speak for what the game has to offer until I have played it.  And I am going to play it.

Though, speaking on the graphics, there is something rather interesting on that to note.  Originally, Dragon Fantasy Book I sported a complete 8-Bit style 'Retro-throwback' look that I believe Dragon Fantasy Book II ended up updating to more of a 16-bit style.  Well, in porting the game over, the developers decided that it wasn't enough to do a straight-port and then decided to redo every single piece of art in the game to match a sort of almost-16-bit-but-not-quite style that they're calling "8-Bit as we remember it" because, honestly, I'm sure we do remember 8-bit games as looking a -little- better than they actually did.  The cool part about this is that it can be toggled at any time, so if you want to go -super- retro, you can flip it back to the original 'actual' 8-bit look.  Either the music shifts in type along with it (so, sounds more like a classic NES game on 'actual' 8-bit style) or you can shift the music independently of the graphics, but either way it means that the whole look and feel of the game is toggleable.  That is no small feat.

If nothing else, it's clear that there's been a lot of effort put into not only the game itself, but the porting and transitioning of the game to PS3 and Vita.  The improvements and changes I've already mentioned aren't the only ones, as Dragon Fantasy Book I will also include UI improvements already made to DFBII as well as adding an entire new section to the game.  If that's not enough incentive to urge a purchase, then that combined with the Indie Push and the sale price should be enough, hopefully.  If that's not enough, however, well....I dunno.  Maybe the posts I'll make -about- the game will do that.  Possibly.  Because I am going to talk about this game as well as buy and play it. a novel concept lately.

basically my point is that I want you to buy this game

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Well, This is Something - REVENGEANCE Trophy List Mentions "PS Vita"

Earlier today, after I got my Platinum Trophy for Guacamelee! I checked my trophies just for posterity and noticed something....strange.  Something new.  As you see above, the entry for Metal Gear Rising:  REVENGEANCE suddenly has PS Vita listed in its trophy section.  A quick Googling reveals that, no there isn't any news about this that I managed to miss, but I am not alone in noticing it either.  Obviously the idea is that this points to a possibility that REVENGEANCE will see a Vita port despite past suggestions that it would not, but it could just as easily be some kind of error.  And while I obviously would hope for the former, I'm not going to suggest that the latter is the more obvious of the two possibilities.  Even though the former would be really, really theory.

So let's play around with the theory for a bit.  Let's say that, despite all previous indication, Metal Gear Rising:  REVENGEANCE is indeed heading for the Vita in some form.  That right there is the first question - what form is it going to come in?  Physical and digital is almost a given, but more to the point, I meant what state of being.  Since the PS3 and 360 versions are already out and have DLC put out for them, is the Vita version going to come afterward and include all the DLC to justify a stand-alone price?  Or is there going to be some sort of Cross-Buy/Cross-DLC situation so people like myself who are already entrenched in REVENGEANCE financially don't have to shell out an extra $40-60 for that entire experience on the go as well?  Mortal Kombat and Disgaea 3 on the Vita have sort of set a precedent for the former, if nothing else.

Honestly, doing stand-alone would probably be the easier and smarter option for everyone.  Much as I would like to avoid making my entire Metal Gear Rising:  REVENGEANCE investment ~$210 by buying the Vita version (provided it bundled the JetStream Sam and BladeWolf DLC at the very least), I would do that in a heartbeat.  REVENGEANCE is just too good and the ability to play it whenever I want is a dangerous one indeed.  Oftentimes, while playing REVENGEANCE, I only stopped playing because I knew I -had- to because of other obligations, or because I beat it.  Again.  It quickly transcended from "Game I need to play because I want to and I just bought it" to "Game I need to play because oh my god" and all the way to "Game I want to play forever because oh my god".  While I was doing practical things like farming the arms that the game wanted me to pick up and S-Ranking whatever I could, I was -also- stuffing about with things like "The Frank Jaeger Experience" in which I just suited up in the Gray Fox suit with the Fox Blade and ran around cutting things with abandon, yelling "HURT ME MORE".  Also giggling.

The game is just fun.  I could be more specific and I will be some night after I have sat down and played it a bit more (since I have played Tomb Raider, Deus Ex:  Human Revolution, Disgaea 3 and Guacamelee! at least in the meantime since I have played it) and can elucidate my points a little easier, but the general gist is that REVENGEANCE is just a fun thing to play.  And I like fun things.  Fun things are, indeed, fun.  So while I am constantly struggling to keep at least two gigs of space on my Vita's paltry 16 Gig memory stick, I would certainly kick out some of the things I have tried to keep in the off-chance that I will want to play them to make space for REVENGEANCE, should it arrive in a form that would require a lot of space.  Like digitally.  Like in a delayed cross-buy scenario.  Which I doubt would happen, but I am open to the possibility.

In practice, it's a hard thing to imagine, though.  The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection also set a precedent for being a stand-alone, full-investment game that only offered Transfarring (also known as Cross-Save), which I would also expect in a case where REVENGEANCE got a Vita version.  It also set a precedent for being roughly the same price for less game than the console counter-parts (completely lacking Peace Walker in -any- capacity, including a download voucher) which is...less than inspiring in that it makes me think of a scenario where I can only play as Sam on Vita if I pay another six dollars.  I also worry on the technical slant of things because, while the PS3 and 360 versions ran quite smoothly (and needed to, being the type of game that REVENGEANCE is), I'm not sure I have faith in anyone's ability to port it faithfully, keep the framerate tight while -also- not muddying up the visuals a lot, as they did in Mortal Kombat.  The Vita is a powerful machine, make no mistake, and I think it definitely could be possible to do it...I just don't have a lot of faith in developers putting in the required effort to make -it- happen.

Of course, this is all basically just posturing here.  If Metal Gear Rising:  REVENGEANCE is announced for Vita, you could just find that gif of someone throwing money at a computer monitor over and over again and that would be me.  (that's a thing, right?  Someone make that a thing)  There is no way that I -wouldn't- buy REVENGEANCE on another platform that I could play it on because it is just that good of a game.  So while I hope for a lot of things, that it would be put out at a reasonable cost, that it would run smooth and look great and that it would justify a late port with more base content, I can't honestly say I would take a moral high ground or anything if it didn't.  I would just buy the hell out of it and play the hell out of it.


or at least until Terraria comes out....then I will probably play that for a long time

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Popcorn On - Pitch Black

I imagine that it's because of the Fast and the Furious franchise (which I admittedly haven't seen), or perhaps the less-awesome movie, The Chronicles of Riddick, but whenever I tell people that I enjoy Vin Diesel as an actor, I'm always met with stares like I have a giant dent in the side of my head.  Or that such an opinion is only valid if you -have- a giant dent in the side of your head.  I won't say that I don't understand it, because I do, but I don't like it, and a big portion of the reason why I don't like it is because of the movie I'm going to talk about tonight.  That is partly because Pitch Black is a fantastic movie, but partly because it's also a fantastic movie that features Vin Diesel being awesome.  The first of its kind, really, unless the handful of films he did before this one have him being similarly awesome.

Pitch Black, if you have not watched it which is probable, is a Sci-Fi/Horror movie released back in February of 2000, being both the movie that really launched Vin Diesel's career and the movie that debuted the Anti-Hero we've come to know and enjoy as Richard B. Riddick.  The premise is a simple, tried-and-true one which works because it is simple and tried-and-true:  A ship carrying an incarcerated Riddick as well as forty civilian passengers is shot down above a remote, seemingly uninhabited planet and, following the crash, the survivors try to band together and find a way to get off the rock.  That's not to say the movie is formulaic or anything of the sort, as it breaks conventions, certainly, but that the premise is an easy one and one that continues to prove its worth with its use.

The harsh, desert-like conditions of the planet make it insufferable to consider taking refuge on it, and with how badly the ship was following the landing, it's practically unsalveagable.  The forty passengers have been whittled down immediately to a dozen or so, being the ones lucky enough to not get dragged out from the impact, nor shot to death inside their Cryo-sleep chambers by whatever shot the ship out of space.  Riddick is nowhere to be found, which is to be expected, given that he survived the crash and wouldn't want to hang around with his bounty hunter, William Johns, alive and on the prowl for him as well.  As the other survivors settle into their roles of trying to pick apart what they can from the ship and organize for a search effort for civilization, it soon becomes clear that Riddick is the thing to be worried about on this planet, being the escaped murderer that he is.

The entire first portion of the movie revolves around this, as Riddick plays Cat-and-Mouse with the survivors, though more often than not without them knowing.  It's quite enjoyable to see just how ever-present Riddick is even when he's not the focus, reminding the viewer that he can be anywhere, anytime, ready to strike.  He is the literal Beast uncaged and unchained, reveling in his newfound freedom while the rest of the crew stumbles about their new surroundings, keeping an eye out for him while trying to find any basic tenet of survival.  Water, shelter, food, anything that could make their hopefully brief stay on the planet more pleasant, if not just to make sure they stay alive long enough to get off.  For a while, the extreme heat from the two ever-present suns (joined by a third when the first two seem to begin setting) and Riddick are the main antagonists of the story, and the viewer is left wondering just when one is going to strike.

There are worse things on the planet than Riddick, however.

Given the nature of the advertising for the movie, there's no real spoilers in saying that there are other inhabitants of the planet and they are not particularly friendly.  After the survivors find themselves a few short thanks to run-ins with the light-sensitive creatures in abandoned buildings and such, the idea of keeping Riddick around suddenly becomes palatable for everyone, even Johns, who suggests that Riddick can work with them in exchange for his freedom.  Perhaps it's a little too good to be true, perhaps not, but for the moment, an uneasy alliance is formed with the group of them and Riddick no longer has to stalk them in the ever-present broad daylight of the planet.  He still -could-, of course, but now he can be up close and personal with his prey without having to worry about a shotgun tearing his chest apart.  Not that he was too worried about that to begin with, though.

The introduction of these creatures seems a bit odd as they are creatures that stick to the darkness on a planet that barely -has- darkness.  It seems the easiest thing to avoid, but all of that changes when they stumble across a diorama that shows exactly why the planet is otherwise unoccupied.  Some time ago, almost to the exact day they're on, the planets aligned in such a way that a total eclipse occurred, submerging the planet into a pitch black state (see?  it has a reason after all).  With that possibility looming over them, it's agreed that leaving sooner rather than later is the plan of action and they all take the steps necessary to get that done.  I won't spoil whether or not that succeeds, but I'm sure you can hazard a guess.

Really, the reason why Pitch Black is so brilliant is because it encapsulates what's scary about horror movies without shoving it directly into your face yelling "MAN I AM SO SCARY, HUH?" as current horror flicks seem to feel the need to do.  Pitch Black -is- scary because it takes a very simple approach and executes it flawlessly by building up atmosphere.  If I had to make a gaming comparison, I would point at Dead Space without hesitation, as with both things, it's the atmosphere that is tense and scary rather than the actual creatures and/or monsters that inhabit them.  Though the creatures in both aren't slouches either, and moreso in Pitch Black, as they play the predators in the dark that strike when you literally cannot see them...unless you're Riddick with his eyeshine eyes.

It's because of those elements, the horror feeling that is actually scary, the characterizations of the survivors and Riddick, and the way it all plays out that I cannot recommend Pitch Black enough.  There's definitely a reason why it made Vin Diesel popular and why it inspired a series of things to go alongside it.  Unless we all forgot the rather fantastic The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, as well as the eventual sequel to this film that, while not as cool as this movie, was still pretty awesome to watch, if for completely different reasons.  So if you're a fan of horror films at all, a fan of Vin Diesel at all, hell, a fan of movies whatsoever, I implore you to track this one down.  It's not on Netflix because Netflix is just, you know, a service wholly dedicated to movies, so why would it be on that, but it's worth the more-than-cursory searching that it will take to procure a copy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guacamelee! Was Pretty Good, You Guys

I'm not going to review Guacamelee! because I don't think I can rightly give it a fair shake, given the week that I've had.  I honestly do think that it had -something- of an impact on my overall experience with the game, given that, after beating it tonight and starting up a Hard Mode playthrough, I started having a lot more fun with it.  Not a lot is different about Hard Mode from what I noticed - you start out with less health and I imagine health orbs initially heal less as well, but I don't think damage has been toyed with, or if it has, then it's negligible.  Being that I'm a lot less stressed tonight than I have been since, hell, Sunday, I imagine that I might have just been enjoying it because it is, indeed, enjoyable, but I'll never get to play it for the first time again, so I can't say what I thought then versus what I think now.

Still, I played Guacamelee! to completion, as I stated (100% completion at that) and I am going to talk about it, because holy shit I've played like five games that I haven't even talked about on here and that is a daunting thought.  So if I've just gotta spill now to get it done and go back to the others, then that is what I'm going to do now that I've broken the hold that Disgaea 3 had on me and Soul Sacrifice is still two weeks off.  And I have been feeling oddly excited for Soul Sacrifice in the past few nights (especially with news of a demo next week) so it's safe to say that I will be playing the hell out of that when I get my hands on it.  At least, I hope I will be.  Because that will mean that it is a good game that I agree is a good game.  Since I can be contrary sometimes, you see.

Anyways, to segue that into Guacamelee! - people have been saying that Guacamelee! is a good game.  A great game, even.  A Metroidvania through-and-through that shines brightly and plays nicely.  These people?  They are not wrong.  Even in my stress-riddled state where I was not up to fully enjoy anything, I couldn't fault Guacamelee! much.  It plays smoothly and looks gorgeous on the Vita, both aesthetically and mechanically.  The game has been fine-tuned to run at something that is locked, framerate-wise, whether that's 30 or 60, I'm not sure, but I would guarantee that it is, in fact, locked to it because not once did I see a stutter or hiccup or even the briefest moment of roughness.  I'm not sure I even expected there to be any problems with that, really, but that there weren't any was reassuring, if nothing else.

As stated, the controls handle rather well with only a few minor complaints here and there on them.  Combat is, obviously, the main portion of the gameplay and it is definitely no slouch in that area.  Though there aren't a -lot- of attacks, the ones that are there are utilized in such a way that you have a healthy amount of combo options at your fingertips which only expands and gets more complex as you gain new moves from breaking Choozo Statues (homage, honest).  The complexity of these combos is demonstrated if you happen to step foot into a dojo in one of the few cities in the game where you are tasked with completing combos of varying difficulty on a Skeleton Luchador who just kind of stands there and takes it.  Still, even with the equivalent of a sack of sand as a sparring partner, pulling off twelve input combos that require precise timing is not an easy thing to do, nor is it something you'll likely use when you're -actually- fighting.  Unless you go out of your way to do so, which you might want to if you're looking for the combo-oriented trophies.  Or bragging rights.

Indeed, if you played like me, then a lot of fights went something like "Rooster Uppercut, Derpderp Dash (it's seriously called this), Punch, Punch, Punch, Grapple, Piledriver" and then it was dead, if not before then.  That's not saying that I -didn't- use variety, nor is it a good idea to fall back on a basic combo and spam that, but it's what I did because it was effective.  And, well, piledriving skeletons never gets old.  (I personally would've liked to see a powerbomb move as well, but alas)  Still, combat is responsive and dodging works fantastically, which some games get wrong somehow.  Not -everything- can be dodged, but what can't be can be evaded easily enough regardless.  It's as deep or as shallow as you want it to be, which is a nice slider, I think.  It's simple, it works, just how flashy you want it to be is up to you.

Every single move you pick up has a utilitarian use as well, which is part of the whole Metroidvania base that the game was running with.  Some of the moves, like the Rooster Uppercut and Derpderp Dash (seriously, I am not lying when I say it's called that) are meant to help with the platforming, giving you a little bit of extra air time and coverage to try and get to places you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise.  Still, other moves serve limited, but useful functions as well, such as the Headbutt, which will stop you in the air for a moment or two in case you need that moment to get a platform under you or something like that.  Of course, there are more direct uses for exploration in the form of colored blocks that correspond to different moves, meaning you can only get into certain areas after you have that move.  Much like the different barriers in Super Metroid requiring the Ice Beam, Super Missiles, etc.  The inspiration is pretty clear and pretty well-implemented regardless.

One of the places where the game falls short is the actual story and characterization.  It's not that what's there is -bad-, more like what's there just isn't -enough-.  It is a barebones experience which has a veneer of charm overlaid onto it, which is fine, but not necessarily meaty enough to really come away satisfied if that is your thing.  You get enough to get from Point A to Point B and punch someone with a reasonable excuse, but that's -it-.  Everyone is essentially an archetype with a flimsy attempt at adding another point to it so they're not directly out of the book, but it's barely there.  -Especially- with our main character, Juan.  There is precisely one attempt to flesh him out in the entire game and not only does it fall flat on its face, but it has nothing to do with anything, really, and is never really brought up again.  You can connect a few dots with what's laid out, but it's not going to win anything for writing, which, for me is a shame, but I suppose it's not a necessity.

Still, the question with most games is "Is it worth the price?" to which, for Guacamelee!, I say yes.  Even at the normal price of $15, it would be a worthy investment, if only for the smooth combat, lovely visuals and clever map design that manages to not be contrived in forcing Metroidvania elements while actually using a few of the moves in smart ways.  (Mostly Goat Fly.  By the way, I love Goat Fly)  All of the things it supports - Cross-Buy/Save, Vita Controller functionality, etc. - are things we want to support as well, so your purchase is getting you a good game -and- doing a good thing.  It's flawless!  It's made that much easier a decision if you buy it for the sale price ($12, so not a big discount, but a discount no less) and, equally easier if you consider that it's part of the Indie-Themed Spring Fever Sale that will be going on for the rest of the month. (Sale is only good for the launch week, however, so buy Guacamelee! before Tuesday)

In short, Guacamelee! rocks and you should buy it if you're at all interested in it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sick Post Because I Am Sick

So, it has been a shit week.  One of the worst in recent memory and recent memory isn't actually too recent which is saying quite a bit.  Fun times are not being had, is my point.

Technically, I'm -not- sick at the moment, but I'm going ahead and saying so because I had a migraine for four hours, and for the last hour of it moving sent a shock of nausea and exploding pain throughout my whole body.  I'm not really over that yet, but I wanted to post something tonight, even if it was just a quick "Hey, this is what's up" thing.  Because that is what I do.

In the meantime while I recover, perhaps you should look into purchasing Guacamelee! because it is pretty good.  I'm not having the amazing "this is awesome, how awesome?  SO awesome" experience with it that a lot of other people seem to be, which might be partly because of my week, but it is a mechanically sound game with a good art style and nice sense of humor.  Being Cross-Buy, Cross-Save, using the Vita Controller functionality, having a full retail trophy list and being on a little sale for PS Plus folks (part of an indie promotion that you all better friggin' support) makes it all the sweeter.

So yeah.  Bear with me, folks.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

It's no mystery that I have been anticipating the newest Animal Crossing game because it is an Animal Crossing game which I am fond of.  It's also no surprise that I have also been dreading the newest Animal Crossing game because it looks like the Animal Crossing games that we already have that, while I am fond of, I have played the hell out of and found that there are no more worlds to conquer in it, so to speak.  The Animal Crossing games of the DS and Wii, the ones that New Leaf itself looks like almost to a T, are games that have no sustainability beyond a front-loaded glut of hardship.  The various loans that you're saddled with, the need to make all your tools better and get established all hits right at the same time at the start and stands as a brick wall for you to chip away at very slowly.

The issue is that, once you have tunneled through the wall, made a hole through it, there is nothing new on the other end.  You look behind you and see a blue sky, green grass and tall trees.  You look in front of you and see a blue sky, green grass and tall trees.  It is functionally a brick wall that surrounds nothing, protects nothing and only stands as something to be destroyed, circumvented, undermined.  The wall exists not as an obstacle, but as an optional and that's really what a lot of Animal Crossing's problem is.  The 'wall', so to speak, is more or less the narrative, the main 'quest' as it would be in other games, and other games manage just fine to have this thing, this main thing that can be ignored safely for time immemorial.  Of course, those games traditionally have other things to do.

New Leaf, from what I can tell, seems to be heavily leaning on the whole "You are the Mayor" aspect which, I mean, is good.  It really is.  If nothing else, it allows you the ability to make all the shops open at night or whenever is convenient for you.  Plus you get to move stuff around and mold the city in whatever image you desire.  Presumably, there are other things involved with this that make it more than a very, very light town sim, because really what it sounds like.  I don't know if there's any way to upgrade things, to make new 'types' of buildings or anything of that sort, meaning it ends up a bit shallow.  I hope at the very least that the residents have their own requests as to where they live, ala Dark Cloud, since at least you can meta-game that part of it.  Still, I can't see how a lot of game -time- could actually be spent with the sim portion.

So, minus that, you basically have....Wild World/City Folk.  The above video literally shows everything from both games (being that they were almost one in the same) to a T with only slight alterations.  Seasons are very welcome, and I wonder if they'll be actually in tune with real-world seasons, or if it's sort of a variety thing so you can see snow in the game when it comes out this summer.  I'd bet on the former, unfortunately.  Beyond that, being able to swim is....not a big deal.  A night club where you presumably don't do a lot more than you do on the nights KK Slider would play in the coffee house from WW/CF is hardly something to celebrate.  Really, it all seems like token additions so far, and nothing really yells out that "Here!  Here is the actual sequel with actual improvements and a bunch of stuff!", but instead that it's the same game, except with a few different things.

Either way, I'm pretty much stuck in -actually- buying the game when it comes out.  It's one of the handful of titles that galvanized my purchase of a 3DS XL (well, I haven't bought it -yet-, still holding out for a better color) and even if it's not much different than Wild World, I'll have a whole timesink to start putting into it to break down that wall standing in the middle of a field.  That is there for no reason.  Which isn't necessarily as bad of a thing as I make it out to be, really.  I just wish that there would have been something done with this game other than a very light sim element.  But hey, maybe it will surprise me and be super deep and awesome.  I would like that kind of shock.  But I'm certainly not counting on it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Writing Night Time!

It's one of those awkward nights where I totally want to talk about something, yet there is nothing at all to talk about.  In the wake of the "Always-Online" thing (I refuse to call it "Orthgate"), there just isn't a whole bunch of other news (who would've thought, right?), so that's something I can't really fall-back on.  And while I'm sure you would all be riveted with yet another Disgaea 3 post where I talk about how disgustingly powerful I'm making Dinah (spoilers:  she has reincarnated two more times to the fifth Female Monk iteration and is already level 200-something in that), I'm not really feeling like doing that.  Mostly because I sorely doubt you would all actually be riveted with such a post.  Also because there's not a whole lot -else- to add to it except that playing with "Strongest Enemies" bill passed makes getting XP and Mana easy mode so long as you don't die.  And the not dying part is only hard for a little bit.

Anyways!  Since I have this whole writing project on the side, when I have left-over writing capability, I do stuff with that.  And since I have a lot of that tonight and nothing to use it on -but- the writing project, I'm going to do that.  Though, I suppose I can shed a little light on it instead of just being all cryptic about it whenever I talk about it.  It's not like it's a big thing, just a personal project that evolved from something that should have been relatively simple.  Over-complicating things is kind of something that I do, you see.  Though you probably know that by now!

It was over a year ago when a buddy of mine said "Hey, I'm probably going to be running this Persona-based game" (as in a table-top RPG with mechanics based on the Persona series) "at some distant point in the future and I was wondering if you'd be interested?  It's still way far off, since I've got like two games before it, but still."  And I said, "Yeah, I'd be for that." and proceeded to start dreaming up a character.  Being that I was, back then, attempting to keep my creativity and writing from stagnating, I was prepared to do something that I hadn't done previously (nor have really done a lot since this whole thing started):  I was going to make a girl character.  Taking out all the conversation on -that- particular topic (though you know you played FemShep, don't even get all up on me about RPing as a woman) I thought it would be a good exercise to just try and consider things differently and such.

Over a couple conversations, my character for the game was created - Dinah - and I started trying to think of what she was going to be like.  As you may have already extrapolated from my Disgaea 3 Dinah, the character is not at all a prissy-girl or anything like that.  To be honest, one of her big influences is KainĂ©, if that tells you anything.  (If not, it tells you that you should be playing Nier)  As part of a sort of character personality litmus test I run with any character I make, I posited the theory that there is something necessary in a building where the only plausible entrance is a locked window.  More cautious or careful characters might try figuring out a way to get the lock out of the equation or carefully remove the glass.  More out-of-the-box characters would insist there's another way in than the window.  Dinah?  Dinah would just remove her tie (part of a school uniform), wrap it around her hand and punch through it.  And then probably make a flourish or sardonic statement.  She's that kind of character.

Those conversations with my buddy who presented the idea and thus the means for this character and world to exist in restarted around this New Year's and, presumably in a little bit of annoyance with how much I insisted on talking about Dinah, he prompted me to just 'write a book or something, geez'.  The idea wasn't abhorrent and, as a character, she needs a backstory anyway.  So I intended to write a backstory.  A backstory turned into a short story that describes her pretty well.  And....a short story turned into something that is going to be like twenty chapters long when all is said and done after the way I've plotted it out and actually started to write it.  So I mean, it turns out I kind of am writing a book, but I'm not quite sure what sort of end product it's going to be.  I'm enjoying writing it, I think it's coming out very nicely and it's going to be friggin' long by the time I'm done with it, but it's not something I'm writing with the express purpose of making money.

When it's done?  We'll just have to see.  It's a pretty easy story to hook into - despite the Persona backdrop that she was invented in, Dinah's tale doesn't involve any magic, demons or long-nosed folks in a strange blue room.  It's just a story about a collection of her return trips home from the school overseas that she attends (that will eventually host the Persona-like events) and how they all intertwine because of the people that she's constantly leaving behind when she goes off.  As I said, it will hopefully be a good story, and I'll use some reactions of folks to get a good bead on whether or not it actually is.  Then I'll decide what's going on with it.  For now, though, it's just something that I'm doing, and tonight, it's something I'm going to write in.  Hopefully manage to get another chapter done to feel like I have made progress.

As usual, when I don't have something to write about (Except I kind of did tonight, whoops), I left you some K-Pop at the top to enjoy.  So, enjoy!

is it still K-Pop if it's sung in Japanese, I don't even