Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rune Factory's Future Looks Troubling

Yesterday was a dark, dark day for everyone, though most people don't even know it.  Neverland, the developer behind the Rune Factory series, announced that it was immediately shutting down and filing for bankruptcy, know, is bad.  It's also completely unexpected because Rune Factory 4, their latest released game, did well enough to greenlight a Rune Factory 5.  It seems that they were simply struggling financially and nothing was helping it, so they're just closing up shop.  It's depressing as hell, because Rune Factory as a series, 2 aside, has pretty much been getting exponentially better with each numbered iteration and would probably continue doing so.  Though, technically, they do still have a chance to do that.

You see, it's simply Neverland, the developer, that's going out.  Marvelous AQL has owned the IP for Rune Factory since the start, I believe, and that's not going to change.  Being that they're the publisher, what it means is just that they need to find a new developer to make future Rune Factory games if that's their choice.  Considering Rune Factory 5 is almost certainly already started and it's a good series that sells well-enough for what it is, it's pretty easy to hope that they will indeed continue making it.  One can simply hope that it won't lose any of its charm with a developer change, if one is indeed going to take into majority effect.  I know, you're just yelling "STOP WITH THE LEAD-INS", but it's as much for my own benefit to assuage my own fears about the situation as anything.

The plot thickened when Yoshifumi Hashimoto, Marvelous AQL producer of the Rune Factory series made a little post on the Rune Factory blog regarding their next project, since things appear up in the air.  If you'll allow me to shamelessly steal Siliconera's translated version of the post...
“Hello, Hashimoto here.

How are you guys enjoying Rune Factory 4?

I’d like to take this occasion to make a comment about the future.

As of now, it’ll still remain a secret as to what kind of title we’ll be releasing next, but I can say that the staff members are still doing great.

I will leave it at that for now, and I thank you for your continued support.

Producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto”
The part of that message that states "The staff members are still doing great" is what's causing a bit of the rumor mill spinning.  The people in a folding developer are generally not "okay" when the announcement goes out, much less "doing great", so there are two different interpretations of what that actually could mean.  Either he means that the Marvelous AQL staff are okay which is...superfluous to say, or he means Neverland is great as it seems to imply, which would sort of make on think that they're doing great because Marvelous has something to say about it in the matter.  People are speculating that Marvelous might be hiring some, probably not all, of Neverland's staff with the intention on making a new development studio that can continue working on the Rune Factory series.  It might seem a little too good to be true, but it does absolutely no harm to anyone to at least -hope- it's true.  At the worst, we're wrong and Rune Factory 5 will be finished out by a studio unfamiliar with the series (or Marvelous' own in-house studio, but they might be a little busy with the new Harvest Moon at the moment) and at best, we're going to get Rune Factory 5 which is still mostly a Neverland production.  Either way, it still seems like Rune Factory 5 is still a thing that is probably going to happen, and I don't think I'm deluding myself into thinking that.

Still, gotta be honest, when I first heard the news, my reaction was basically this:  (Sorry, Chance, I'm stealing it)

It's good to be optimistic, however.  To hope.  Something something, A New Hope.

I just really want Rune Factory 5 if that wasn't blatantly obvious, and Vita plz if you like, I'll buy both versions

Friday, November 29, 2013

Toukiden Is On the Way West

The last time I said anything substantial about Toukiden was over a year ago when it was revealed, from which it eventually released, sold and did all that over in Japan with nary a word of western shores in its sights.  For some reason, I had thought Toukiden being localized was a foregone conclusion so when I heard that it was officially announced, I was a little confused at first.  "Didn't we know this already?," I said and it turns out that we did not.  So, good news everyone, Toukiden is releasing in North America (on carts! also digitally) as Toukiden:  [The?] Age of Demons.  (I'm seeing conflicting reports on whether or not the 'The' is there.  It is superfluous anyway.)  As far as I know, Toukiden isn't a real word, but it's damn fun to say, and a lot easier to figure out how to pronounce than Ys:  Memories of Celceta, which I learned from experience last wednesday, but that's a topic for a different night.

That's the good news about the situation.  The bad news begins to to the tune of the knowledge that the game is yet another Monster Hunter clone, but an actual really real one this time, not something that's just called a Monster Hunter clone because of poor reporting.  However everything in that trailer above screams Monster Hunter, from the segmented maps, to the giant monsters, to the four-player co-op with the bars on the upper left side literally like the MH UI (though not unique to that game) to the hub town and you get the point.  It's Monster Hunter with a side of Monster Hunter on a Monster Hunter plate in a Monster Hunter restaurant that calls itself Toukiden from KOEI and it's more than a little disappointing.

I'd personally hoped for something a little....less like that, clearly.  While my enjoyment of the KOEI games is well-known here, I don't necessarily want them to only make hack-n-slash games, so while that's what I expected with this, I would have been happy to have been wrong in most cases.  Perhaps with a proper Action-Adventure title, something along the lines of a Ninja Gaiden game, but actually fun, would have been great.  As it is, I'm assured that Toukiden will at least be a little more fast-paced than Monster Hunter which is one of my issues with it, and I'm hoping there's more variation to the game than "go here, kill monster", but I don't know what to expect and I don't want to spoil it for myself by reading impressions on the Japanese version of it.  It will serve me better to simply blindly pre-order and buy it and hopefully not be disappointed.

That is part of the other half of the bad news.  The game is releasing in February of 2014 which is right dead-smack in the middle of Christmas II which just so happens to include March this year, meaning they decided to release it the Sega way; at a time where it has the least chance of being bought 'just because'.  I'll be buying it because KOEI has so many fucking games to localize and I don't want them to be able to use their own shitty logic to leverage less and less localization projects because I fucking -want- to play these things.  I want Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends on my Vita, preferably with Dynasty Warriors 8 built into it, because I still don't know how DW8XL being on Vita/PS4 is going to work when DW8 proper is on PS3 and the selling thing of Xtreme Legends in the past has always been connecting the two games to expand on the original.  Despite my whinging, it does look like a nice game and seems capable of tricking everyone into forgetting that it's not actual Monster Hunter, but rather something close enough like it that they can just play it instead.  Because damned if a Monster Hunter wouldn't help matters.  CAPCOM.

I just want to run around maps and cut things and not worry about small areas and hrrrgh

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Persona Persona Persona

The other night, there was all sorts of Persona announcements and it was a pretty great time unless you were actually watching it as it was happening.  Because that was a nerve-wracking experience, I'm told, what with Atlus trolling the shit out of everyone.  On a molecular level.  Which is...admittedly fun to experience after-the-fact as a sort of educational bit of how to endlessly torture someone in the span of the hours the actual event covered during the announcement parts.  Regardless, the important part is the games that they revealed in the event and not so much the means with which they did so.  Even if it was just...just hilarious and fantastic on some schadenfreude-laced level.

Probably the second-most high-profile announcement of the night was that of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth which will release on the 3DS in June of 2014.  Details were scarce at the time of announcement, but we've since learned a few more bits about it.  First, there was a trailer (linked to the page, not the video itself) that showed off a good bit of the gameplay alongside some words in the actual page itself that seemed to suggest, yes, the SEES Team from Persona 3 and the Investigation Team from Persona 4 will be crossing over, but not in some sort of free-for-all. kind of weird to say when the actual video shows Yu, Yosuke, Mitsurugi, Yukari and Aigis in the same All-Out Attack, but they basically mean for story purposes.  Which is precisely the wrong way to approach a cross-over game, but, hell, what do I know, I suppose.  Not like I wanted Brosuke and Junpei to brofist and thus uncreate the universe through a Bro-Singularity or anything awesome like that.

Of course, there were even more details meted out since then, but they're fairly sparse in what's actually being revealed.  The game takes place in Persona 4's school though there seems to be a Persona 3 Tartarus theme to it since there's a clock tower that just sort of appears out of nowhere and is rumored to usher in the death of all who hear it ring.  You know, normal stuff.  Of course, it also seems like there will be Day/Night sections to the game, as the page mentions school events as things that will happen that allow the P3 cast and P4 cast to have some limited interaction.  Honestly, that means that it really just sounds like Persona 3 at Persona 4's location with both teams....which is fine by me.  The same dudes on Persona Team seem to be handling the game as well, though perhaps not in their usual roles.  Still, Shoji Meguro will be producing the soundtrack which means it's going to be awesome.  Certainly something to look out for.

Probably the most....special announcement of the night was that of Persona 4: Dancing All Night for the Playstation Vita.  If you were wondering just what would come of the recent buyout of Index by Sega Sammy, well, here's the first proper product of it.  Dingo, the developers of the Hatsune Miku:  Project Diva games are the folks behind this, so if you bought either of the versions of the game that Sega decided to localize over, you know, any fucking other game at all, then you'll know exactly what you're looking into here.  From what I can tell, there's only Yu Narakami, Rise Kujikawa and a new character who has a Megidoloan Cute smile and a name I can't quite parse nor do I care to google for because ehhhhhhhhh.

I'm not really sure what I think about this game.  I see the 3DS getting what essentially looks like a proper Persona game that's a cross-over of P3 and 4, albeit with an unpleasant art style for me, and then I see the Vita getting...a rhythm game.  A rhythm game that only pulls from Persona 4 in music, and only has three announced characters that might not actually get more characters.  I'm hoping there's going to be more to the game than what we've seen, but I'm just not seeing -how-, and that coupled with the knowledge that it'll still release at full price (as in likely $40) just seems to drag my potential mirth for the game to below sea levels.  Especially since it's all but dashed my dreams of seeing Kanji do a righteous step to Mass Destruction.  That's right.  Tell me you don't want to fucking experience that now so I can call you a goddamn liar.

Persona 4:  The Ultimax Suplex Hold (I don't know either) is getting the highly-expected Playstation 3 port next year to match the Arcade release of it.  Uncle Dojima's partner Adachi was revealed as one of the new fighters in it, alongside Yukari and Junpei who were announced months back.  That's...uh...

Yeah, that's about that.

So really, there were some assorted announcements and they ranged from pretty interesting to "okay", but overall it wa-

Oh, right, there was one other thing announced.  Some little thing that you might not even really care about called Persona 5.

Persona 5 was announced for the Playstation 3 and will release sometime in "Winter" 2014 in Japan, which most likely means Winter Quarter which know, the tail-end of the year.  Which means we probably won't see it on American shores until 2015 and what part of 2015 is very much up for debate.  After the other announcements, I'm sure you can guess, but there aren't very many details out there about the game except for a few tidbits released later.  Tidbits that are, apparently, the only ones we'll see during 2013 which is kind of disappointing, but it only further serves to feed the hype-machine which is...what they want, after all.

Like Persona 3 and 4, Persona 5 will take place in a high school setting, though the theme of the game is a bit different.  Instead of facing the miserable truths of the universe ala Persona 3 and facing the miserable truths of oneself ala Persona 4, Persona 5 will be about 'being restrained by modern society' and the breaking of those bonds.  They also claim that it's going to have a different 'mood', but it'll still be familiar and reassuring for the fans.  Which...I cannot even really fathom what it's going to mean.  Between Persona 3's sometimes-overly-depressive narrative and Persona 4's always-upbeat-even-though-we're-tracking-a-serial-killer tone, they've covered a rather wide swath of moods, but I suppose there's still ground to be broken, though just where it is, I'm not sure.

So basically there was just so much Persona announced which is good for us fans, since, well, more Persona is always a good thing.  Just what titles we'll end up seeing in the west and when are up for debate, but the big one is definitely coming over so that's what matters.  Still...the wait is going to be painful.

I can pretty much just list a bunch of Persona 3 songs that I want Persona 4 characters to dance to, goddamnit Sega

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Beat Beyond: Two Souls

I'm....not really sure what to say.  I'm not sure what I want to say, as I never even so much as posted that I had started playing it, meaning I've gone from start to finish without saying a single thing about it.  And of course, given the type of game that this is, there's the looming problem of what should I say about it?  I don't want to spoil anything and talking about most any facet of the game is almost guaranteed to spoil -something-, which makes it difficult, especially when I don't want to go through the effort of spoiler tagging the post and/or inserting a jump break.  Perhaps if I were to speak a little more in-depth about the game (which I may still do) then I'll worry about it then, but for now I'm not so fussed.

I liked Beyond:  Two Souls.  On the list of things I can and should say, that is pretty much at the top of it.  I liked the game and I definitely think it's something that everyone should give a shot.  It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and it'll get a lot of hate (it already did, really), but it's a wholly different experience than most games on the market, and it's something worth played if just for that.  For all the complaints about stagnation and "booo, I'm tired of waist-high wall, shootymans games", when you're presented with something that is legitimately not that, you should fucking play it or shut up a little.  While, yes, there are shootyman bits as we saw from at least a couple trailers, they're certainly not handled like any other game of that particular genre, so I wouldn't even worry about it.  Saying this as someone know, played it and whatnot.

In the same vein of "It's different, so you should play it", I do think I liked Heavy Rain more than Beyond.  I'll have to replay it sometime (especially since I can leave my PS3 on long enough for the Move patch and I also have Move peripherals) but Heavy Rain just seemed a little more...'crafted', I think is the word I want.  Beyond feels like it defers more to Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe than it directs them, potentially because of their fantastic acting abilities, so you get moments in the game where it's awesome because it's Ellen Page or Willem Dafoe and not simply because that part of the game is particularly good for them to simply enhance that.  With less-storied actors, it wouldn't be nearly as memorable, I think, which is an issue in itself, because a great story makes actors; actors don't make great stories.

Still, as stated, Beyond was a great experience and one that I can't help but recommend if only for the departure from the norm.  Someone described Quantic Dream games as "Western Visual Novels" and I can't help but agree with that assessment, even if they're a bit more interactive than that.  Whatever it is, it's a breed all to itself which is a bit unfortunate for now.  I don't know what I'd do for a modern remake of Snatcher in the vein of Heavy Rain.  Probably not good things.  Probably bad things.  Very bad things.  If Kojima wasn't stuck making Metal Gear Solid games over and over again, maybe we could have hoped for that, but oh well.  As long as someone else runs with the style and turns it into a genre all its own, I'll be more than happy.

really though, Willem Dafoe was pretty damn great in every scene he was in

Thursday, November 21, 2013

All Sorts of Excited for Tearaway

How long have I been waiting for Tearaway?  Well, only since August of 2012 when it was announced with a reveal trailer that I saw and could only wonder at just how magical and charming it looked.  And here on the night before the game comes out, I can only think about how true that still rings, and just how desperately I need that right now.  Not only in a general sense, because whimsy and magic is always appreciated and I -can- get that from LittleBigPlanet Vita and I intend to again someday, I'm just worried about my save file getting corrupt.  Again.  But also in the specific sense in that this week has been absolutely trying and miserable on all counts and all I want to do is play something that makes me genuinely smile and feel a little flutter in my heart.  Tearaway seems like it's the perfect game to do just that.

What's especially lucky about the situation is that I seem well within my rights to be excited for the game, as it's receiving very positive reviews across the board for the most part - with only Game Revolution, "Hardcore Gamer Magazine" whatever that is, and Joystiq (who can safely be ignored) giving the game reviews I could call 'tepid', with Joystiq's at the lowest at 3 out of 5 stars or a 60 out of 100.  As we know, however, 60 or 6 for short-hand -is- one of the forbidden numbers as it's not 10, so when a game gets something that is not a 10, people assume bad things.  However, on a proper scale, 6 out of 10 is still good!  It means above average.  If we could trust Joystiq to be a proper review-site, then it would still be okay!  But we don't, so the whole thing is moot; the other two 'middling' reviews were solid 70s or 7s which is acceptable even for those of you who believe 8 is the lowest number acceptable for a score.

While it's a shame that the game just so happened to come out on the exact same day as The Legend of Zelda:  A Link Between Worlds and a little niche product called the XBox One, I still have a feeling that it's going to grow a pair of legs for itself.  I know I'll likely be singing its praises from the highest mountaintops, and I won't be the only one to do so.  With the PS4 out and making the Vita all that more tempting to pick up with Remote Play, since it apparently works fantastically, it's almost a no-brainer to pick one up and a game that everyone says is great.  In the case of the Vita, there are actually quite a few titles that can claim that honor - Persona 4 Golden, Gravity Rush and Muramasa Rebirth among them - which might surprise a few people.  Still, adding one more title to that pile helps, and I'm certainly glad that Media Molecule looks to have another critical hit on their hands.  They certainly deserve it.

it's going to be so much fuuuuuun you guys

Monday, November 18, 2013

Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Have Release Dates!...For PS3

Stretch your memories all the way back to September 14th, 2011 when Final Fantasy X HD was annoucned for the Vita and PS3 (in that order) and realize that it's been over two years between then and now.  Keep in mind that the PS3 version of the game was sort of announced as an "Oh yeah, that too" deal.  Keep in mind that X-2 was added later on.  Just consider all of that for a moment, as the only version of the game that we have a release date for at this point in time is the PS3 one.  March 18th, 2014, a full two and a half years after the original announcement of the Vita game, is when the also-announced PS3 version is getting released.  With no news on the Vita version, as in the version of the game that was originally planned and announced.  I'm not sure that I'm harping on this enough.

Of course, in Japan, the games have a singular release date of December 26th, just before the end of this year, making the time between announcement and release...well, not really all that better, no.  There's something to be said of the type of release over there, however, as the PS3 version is releasing with both games on one disk, as it's planned over here, but the two Vita carts will be bundled together in one box for the exact same price.  One might take this as a hopeful sign for the Non-Japan releases, but then again, one probably hasn't dealt with Squeenix all that much if they take it as a sign of anything at all.  As we know by now, Squeenix just does things and the less sense we try to make of it all, the better we'll all be in the long run.  Though, I suppose -some- rationalizations could be made.

Releasing a digital-only game in Japan, I suspect, is just short of a death knell for any potential sales you hope to see from it.  One of those little 'secrets' of the game industry as a whole is that Japan, by and large has a certain approach to video game releases.  Games are bought up on release or a little after, beaten and then resold to the retailer in much greater numbers than such a practice sees here.  This is generally why you see re-releases of popular games that only have a few alterations made to it, because you're trying to sell this version of your game with new stuff to the people who already bought it, played it and sold it back because it was finished.  Kill the ability to resell and recoup some of that money on the consumer-side is simply something that is not on in Japan, so despite them being one of the world leaders in Internet availability and speed, they are just not having that Digital Future bullshit.  Which...I could make something of, but another night.

The issue most at hand here is that it's been widely thought that outside of Japan, FFX HD and FFX-2 HD would be digital-only on the Vita because fuck you.  I say 'because fuck you' since...well it's kind of obvious.  Space is something we're constantly fighting for because the largest memory stick available, the 32 gig, is simply not enough space for most Vita owners.  Both FFX HD and FFX-2 HD will not fit on the same Vita cart.  I don't know the full size that a Vita cart can offer, but some Vita games are already in the 3 Gig range.  So if you figure on both games, combined, being ~6 gigs, then that's already too much for half of the Vita memory sticks out there.  (4 and 8, I'm figuring the 8 only actually has ~7 gigs available and I don't know how much of that would then be OS stuff or what have you)  Basically what I'm getting at is that FFX/X-2 HD being Digital-Only is not merely bad as it is most of the time, but it's downright unfriendly to the consumer since they're just projecting the image of not caring about what the consumer is going to do for the 'privilege' of buying and playing your game.

Hopefully the delay is simply attributed to the logistics of bundling the two carts together outside of Japan and making a shiny package with it, or maybe even setting up some sort of wacky Limited Edition specifically for Vita buyers.  Hell, maybe they're just waiting to announce that every copy of the Vita version comes with a download code for Type-0.  Also Chocobo/Moogle plushies.  I'm being facetious because I figure it's better to imagine wild, never-going-to-happen scenarios and be disappointed when -they- don't happen, rather than looking at the reality of the situation (in which it's honestly not too much of a fucking hassle to release goddamn Carts) and being ultimately let down (as I always anticipate Squeenix doing anymore).  So I'll just be over here with my delusions, thank you very much.

I'm kind of stuck buying the games no matter what because I want Squeenix to acknowledge the Vita, but I'll be damned if I'm happy about buying something digital-only from them

Senran Kagura Burst is...Actually Fun

My love of XSEED is no small secret, and in fact I do believe I take every opportunity to shout it from whatever perch I can find.  I also like to express this love by buying their games since, you know, that's kind of what you do in this situation.  And I have been doing just that - From Rune Factory 4 to Ragnarok Odyssey to Killer is Dead to the upcoming Ys:  Memories of Celceta (Silver Anniversary Edition) and and so on and so on, I do believe I have purchased the bulk of games XSEED has released lately, with Valhalla Knights 3 being the only exception and that's because I just haven't seen a cart version of it.  When Senran Kagura Burst was announced a while back, however...I....well, I wasn't sure.

My reasoning is pretty blatant to see:  Senran Kagura as a series is pretty blatant fanservice for little other reason than fanservice and I'm not really interested in that.  So I was fairly willing to give the game a pass, even with the knowledge that if it sold well, XSEED would look into localizing a Vita game based on the series which is something that I know that at least one employee at XSEED would absolutely love to see happen.  Admittedly that did weigh on me - I want to support XSEED and help them get more and more projects, but I also buy games for the -game- aspect most of the time, and I just wasn't sure Senran Kagura Burst had it there for me.  Though, I began to sort of -hope- that there was.

Behold my surprise when word of mouth started getting around that yes, indeed, the game portion of Burst was actually fun.  It certainly wasn't from the critical community (as of this writing, there is merely one score for the game - a 70) but just from forums here and there.  Told as a solid, lightning-fast-paced beat-em-up with an actual passable story thanks in no small part to one of the writers being from Ace Attorney 5, it seemed...well, kind of impossible!  A thing that I never would have honestly guessed was possible.  But that, along with Hatsuu from XSEED drumming up the hype machine by retweeting people who said they bought it was enough.  Mine was among some of the tweets retweeted by her as I began the long and arduous download because I was an idiot and completely forgot that the eShop is terrible and doesn't let me just buy things to download at my planned convenience instead of some random interval deemed appropriate by the "Download Later" function.

Pretty much everything I'd heard about the game is true and then some.  If you can get past the fanservice bits (of which there are a -lot-) and just enjoy the game for what it is, you'll find an old-school side-scrolling beat-em-up that has a quicker pace than most 3D Sonic games which is really tantalizing and fun for some reason.  There's even an option to make yourself -faster- through the use of Frantic Mode, which almost turns the game into a Twitch fighter more than anything else, if such a thing is even possible.  By pressing L and R at the start of a mission, your character eschews their normal outfit for the basic swimwear underneath (yes, I know, I know) which offers a ridiculous speed and power increase for an equally ridiculous defense decrease for the entire mission.  It's supposed to be extra challenging because of the poor Defense, but I'm killing things far too quickly for it to cause a problem for me, though I attribute that to being in the early chapters of the game yet.

My only issue with the game, really, is that sometimes the camera jukes and jutters to the side like it's trying to go somewhere but is hitting a wall somehow.  It's disorienting, but most of the time I don't notice it because I'm following the action, however when it happens while you're just proceeding to the right to the next combat section, it is abjectly terrible.  It doesn't do it a lot, but it does it enough times that I figured it was worth mentioning.  My other complaint is more about the system - after being so used to the Vita's wonderful screen and the TV, I find that it's hard to look at the 3DS screen for long periods of time, especially as intently as I do to keep up with the action.  Which is the only reason, you jerks.  Otherwise, it's a fun little game that I put a few hours in the last time I played it purely by accident - I merely wanted to get a couple missions in while I was waiting on something and that just never really stopped until it finally did.  A whole chapter of progression later.  So it's got something going on for it!

I barely even pay attention to the jiggling anymore which I think is a good thing, right?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Platinum Get - Way of the Samurai 3

As I write this, I haven't -actually- gotten the shiny Platinum trophy for the game just yet, but it's finally well within my grasp and it's only a matter of a handful of hours before it's actually mine.  The heavy lifting has been finished - it's just the repetitive, grindy bit that's left that I have to get into and finish.  Yesterday, I achieved the actual "Way of the Samurai" trophy which only dings after you experience all 21 proper endings, which doesn't count the extra-secret special 22nd ending, probably because the 22nd ending entails you murdering every single person in Amana.  As appropriate as that would be for my character now, I'm not going to take the massive Samurai Point hit just to find out something that I can just as easily Youtube since there's absolutely nothing tying me to do it in -my- game.  In fact, it's every bit a better idea that I simply -do not- do it, which is why I will not.

The last ending that I got for the game was titled "Denouement" which was extremely appropriate not only for the game itself, but my involvement with it.  Denouement, if you're not aware (as I was not) is a term used for when the strands of a plot come together and resolve, and that's just what Ending One, the True Ending of the game, does.  All the little plot points here and there are fully expounded upon and brought to a natural conclusion and while it gets a bit silly (as your Samurai basically becomes the greatest man anyone can ever know and everybody wants him) it's nice nonetheless.  Of course, it also speaks for my resolving of the game itself as, while I said I'm not there yet, I am on the cusp of it.  The precipice of victory, and it is sweet, sweet stuff.  It's all too soon.

To reiterate, all that's left to me now are the Stance Mastery trophies.  To get these, I have to have every weapon of every stance and master every skill of them.  All of them contribute to the greater movepool of things that I -know- and can eventually place on weapons I create myself (which I won't need to be doing) and build up rather quickly.  The only issue is tedium, as it takes a little bit to get into the game itself, not to mention to get to the necessary day (Day 5 to 9) so that I can purchase all the scrolls that I need to with the mountains of money I'm sitting on.  You can, as previously stated, only get ten and I have no access to my weapon safe in the area where I buy scrolls....unless I recruit Yukino as a partner and bring her along.  Son of a bitch.

Anyway, the idea is that you buy the scrolls and then kill the merchant for your money back so you can do it again.  Now with this new step that I have just now stumbled across, I can buy scrolls that I need only (instead of just getting to 10 of all of them), use them on weapons I get from Yukino, toss them back int he box and repeat until I'm out of money....which then prompts me to kill the shopkeep and do it all over again.  It's cruel, of course, but it's just the way things have to be - I need to finish this game and there's about 750 skills across 102 weapons in the entire game and when you can only carry 10 of an item at a time (especially Basic Scrolls since that's what gets used most..) it gets a little silly.  It doesn't help that some of these swords have been a pain in the ass to get and some still remain as such - I need around 8 more blades before I've got the full arsenal and precisely one of them is a cut-and-dry "This person has it" deal.  The rest are rare spawns on the higher difficulties (some say Hard, but I'm trying Instant Kill for convenience) and as we all know, the RNG is a fickle mistress no matter what the game.

However, that's simply the end of it.  That is the end of the road and it is clearly in visible sight.  I believe the hardest thing at this point will simply be getting one of the swords and by hardest thing, I mean the most time-consuming as I'll have to earn the trust of all four job brokers over the course of about six missions each...which is not great, as you might assume.  All of that just to make one person appear whom I can simply murder for her sword.  It's a little uneven and annoying to say the least, but that's just the method to it and were there any other way, I would undoubtedly try it first.  The rest just involve indiscriminate killings of a certain group of people in the game and, hell, I can do that.  I can do that easily and happily.  And I will!  I will have all of the swords and I will master them all and that will be the end of it.  I will be finished, through, and a shiny trophy will be my reward for all of it.

And...then I'll move on to the next game, presumably for the same sort of trinket.

I will love doing it, too, but I don't know what game to move onto next

So That's What Snap Looks Like

Last week when I took a look at the UI video for the XBone, I was explicitly impressed by it, but mentioned a lament for the lack of the Snap feature that has been touted so highly.  I took it as a worrisome sign that it was not show-cased and it seems as if I were a bit premature with that.  (No jokes, please)  Of course, I didn't quite expect them to release a nearly two-minute trailer exclusively for that feature since...well, the UI video was meant to be comprehensive.  It was, too, aside from the whole "they completely left Snap out of it" thing.  Unfortunately, while the UI video was comprehensive and informative, I cannot say exactly the same thing for the Snap video as you've already no doubt learned.

It's...functional as a video showing off a feature, but it's nowhere near as good as the previous one.  It doesn't go in-depth, it doesn't -really- demonstrate the feature, but it shows that it's a thing that is possible and that happens, so I guess that's good enough in their eyes.  Or...perhaps as I feared, it's not exactly working all that great just yet, so the exposure was minimal.  Maybe not, maybe I'm just being cynical and/or pessimistic, but these are the types of things you're trying to stamp out with demonstrations, not further fueling them.  Still, that has been Microsoft's MO lately.

I'm more or less tepid to Snap as a result for now.  Some of the uses seem superfluous at best (The TV Snap is pretty much -only- good for Sports channels, since what else can you enjoy with a tiny screen and no volume?) whereas some are absolute game-changers in theory.  The internet explorer bit is something that a lot of people scoffed at because "Hurr, hurr, I look up that stuff on my computer/laptop/tablet/phone" and -yes- you can, but it's simply more convenient to bring it up on the same exact screen like that.  However, I'm worried about the versatility of it - the screen real-estate allotted is minimal, meaning the websites will be squished and I'm not sure how you would navigate text-heavy sites like GameFAQs and the like.  If the XBone pauses your game every time you Snap something, does it pause when you want to interact with it too?  Or can you do -something- to scroll the screen up a bit without breaking your game flow?  I personally doubt it, and I assume that would get ridiculously annoying eventually, but perhaps it won't actually be so bad.  This is, of course, something they could have shown off, but failed to do.

I would have liked some more examples of things you can do with Snap.  Can you, for instance, snap Skype on and do a video call with a friend or family member while playing Forza?  Can you snap on the Marketplace and buy a game to start downloading while you're running through Ryse?  Are you able to snap on any of the video services and switch audio to them, like Youtube?  That would be helpful for advanced tutorial needs, but that's one that I highly doubt, personally.  Still, any and all of this were things that they could have taken time to actually explore and explain, or even just touch on a little more than it was done, but none of them were, and I highly doubt a follow-up "Here's a second video about Snap because oops", so I suppose this time I -can- be disappointed and/or wary about the feature and its completeness.  I suppose we'll all know for sure next Friday, however!  With any luck, if all the annoying things are true, they can be addressed.

oh sure, let me just pause the game five times in a single minute so I can scroll up this site on the side so I can read the full paragraph, ob boy

Saturday, November 16, 2013

PS4 News Ahoy!

So, the other night while I was relaxing and recuperating from nonsense, the Spike TV PS4 Launch Event was taking place and there were a few things announced know have some bearing and importance on folks.  From what I heard, it was nigh-unbearable to watch or, if you went in with low-expectations because Spike TV, it was merely trying to watch when it wasn't just...announcements or trailers.  Which was a lot of the time!  As usual, the correct choice proved to be simply sitting by the wayside and allowing the news to come to me, rather than going after it and wading through the dreck associated with it.  Still, it did afford us -some- things that were rather interesting, so I should get into them a bit before we forget the event took place at all and move on with our lives.

Above is the teaser for the much-expected, but still appreciated Uncharted game for the Playstation 4, simply referred to as "Uncharted" at this point in time.  Some are taking that as the end-all be-all title and insisting it's a reboot or something from a different character's perspective (since the voice-over is done by a different character) and to be fair, there could be something there.  However, common sense just states that it will simply be revealed (likely at the Spike VGAs....or VGXs?  They're changing the name for some reason) as Uncharted 4: Subtitle goes here and be that.  Given the context of the teaser, I have my own little pet theories about what's going to go on in the game and what it's going to be called, but I'll keep them to myself for now because it's a bit early to be going off on wild tangents about what it could be from a minute or so of voice-work.

That's pretty much all we get of Uncharted 4.  Just that clip.  For now.  Again, hopefully come December we'll get a shiny new trailer like we usually do during the VGAXs along with a proper name instead of the "Working Title: Uncharted" that we've got, but that -is- rather perhaps not.

There was an announcement for some PS3 news in the form of The Last of Us Story DLC, called "Left Behind".  It's one of the pieces of DLC included in the Season Pass if you bought that, like I did because I am a whore.  I, uh...I didn't look into it beyond that.  Because I still haven't played The Last of Us yet.

....stop looking at me like that.  Stop judging me.  I know TLoU is going to attack my feels and I need to build up a tolerance to that, especially with how down I was for those months.  You know which ones.

Another note of import is that inFamous:  Second Son has a really real official release date of March 21st, 2014, rather than the date in February, whatever that was.  This news was accompanied by the above trailer which shows off Delsin's Photokinesis in-depth...while confounding me on how it's actually supposed to be Photokinesis.  It looks a lot like it's just their take on electricity alongside some (admittedly beautiful) neon effects and advanced maneuverability benefits.  Which is fine by me!  I'm honestly not complaining, I just didn't figure they would be able to make Photokinesis an actual offensive power, since it's just the control over light (in this case, neon lights), which I thought would be like a blinding flash type deal, meant to be used in conjunction with another power.  Of course, I really don't know how power switching is going to work, so I guess it's best that it has offensive capabilities!

Everything in that trailer just reminds me that I am super happy that I pre-ordered the Limited Edition and that I'm going to get a PS4 for that game.  I am -trying- with all my might to resist getting one before January because I just don't -need- one before then because I've literally got like 15 PS3 games I haven't even -started-, but the PS4 is so goddamn shiny and Remote Play sounds amazing and hnnnng.  Still, they should be easier to come by in January/February, hopefully, and perhaps a patch will be out by then that fixes some of these annoying early problems people have been facing.  I say all this because I pretend it makes me feel like I can resist the temptation.  Like if the store I went to today actually had PS4s out and visible, I would've went "Heh, see you in January~

The rest of the news was basically that TowerFall Ascension is coming to the PS4 as soon as its Ouya exclusivity expires (I think), Destiny's Beta launches on PS3 and PS4 first, and Metal Gear Solid 5:  Ground Zeroes is getting exclusive Nostalgia-based DLC on PS3 and PS4.  All of those points, I could probably expound upon some, but I don't know a damn thing about TowerFall Ascension and I don't need to look into -another- PS4 indie at this point, I don't care about Destiny and I'm still very irked about the situation of the PS4 (and XBone) version of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.  Since it means I will probably not be playing Ground Zeroes, which annoys me greatly.  Still, that was all the news that came out and, well, it's not bad.  Could've been a few more 'ground-breaking' things, but as it stands, nothing here is just 'eh', even if I don't particularly care about half of it.

I would have just straight-up bought a PS4 if I saw one, is what I was getting at

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Am Beat

As I write this, that Spike TV Playstation 4 event is going on and I'm just not even paying attention because I'm going to play catch-up afterward.  Really, I'd much prefer to sit here, chat with a few people, play a little of this and that and just unwind because I am just worn down from today.  In that "every part of my body is sore, why is this happening" sort of way that I hope none of you are familiar with, though I suspect at least a few of you are.  I do confess that I also wish I had a PS4 to play around with right now as some do, but I don't need one yet outside of the "but it's newwwwwww and awesoooooome" need, and I have about 24 PS3 games that I need to play through which is simply not going to happen, unfortunately.  Not soon enough, rather, as I'm not planning on migrating to a PS4 completely, even when I obtain one in (hopefully) January.  I'm not convinced I'll be able to say no to one if I see one in the wild, however....

For all those reasons above, I'm more or less taking the night off.  I don't need to - I have about six posts that I've started and simply not finished, which explains some of the holes in updates lately - but my body and my mind simply will not allow me to do anything other than recuperate.  Hopefully this event that's going on will give enough bits of news -and- information that I can expound on in a few posts to help me catch up on my count.  It's silly to worry about, but last year's number was awful and I'd like to at least make this year's bigger even if I'm not going to hit my first year again.  One of these years, I suppose.  Until then, enjoy the PS4-related goodness!

okay, so Uncharted 4 was announced, there, I said news

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

3DS Finally Set to Catch-Up in December

Way back when the Nintendo Wii U was being discussed in terms of Online Functionality and the like, a couple things were made of note for the future.  Those were, specifically: the Nintendo Network which was Nintendo's apparent attempt to bring their console into the future present-day 2010 with an account system rather than the Friend Code system that was pre-historic when it was new, and Miiverse which I only -tonight- figured out what it was, thanks to even more research than I'd done previously.  Which was more than a cursory glance.  They were things to make note of because not only were they Nintendo's main forays into a connected ecosystem, but they were guaranteed from the start to -not- be Wii U exclusives.  Not only mentioned for 'future Nintendo consoles', but teased for the 3DS as well as integration through web browsers and mobile devices.

It was announced that those additions are finally being made to the 3DS in December when the Nintendo Network and Miiverse come to the 3DS proper.  The Network is pretty self-explanatory, but Miiverse is a different beast entirely.  At first, I was under the impression that Miiverse was the WaraWara Plaza that you see whenever you boot up your Wii U, which would be really neat on the 3DS, but that's not it.  Miiverse is, for all intents and purposes, an Activity Feed that goes a little above and beyond.  Games, so long as they're programmed to do so, can display choice Miiverse posts not only between people, but during specific times during a game.  The video example shows 'helpful hints' from others popping out after repeated deaths and also little notes for every level on Super Mario whatever.  It's meant to be ubiquitous instead of something that you just have to 'check', and I admit it sounds cool....but none of the game already out will be patched to support it, I'm sure, so it's nothing to get excited for now I don't think.

The sudden killing of Swapnote also makes a little more sense as Miiverse has individual tabs for specific games and whatnot, which can be used for 'official word' from developers and whatnot instead of sending out notes through SpotPass.  I mean, sure there were child predators using it and succeeding in Japan, but that's like shutting down Skype for doing the same thing because you know it happens.  Still, Miiverse is not going to fill the same niche as Swapnote, especially since I don't think you can make private posts to one person in particular(?), but no one can be choosey on the Nintendo front unfortunately.  It is neat, however, to see that the Nintendo Network is coming to the 3DS officially and it'll be 'unified' with the Wii U (purchases and whatnot are still tied to the consoles, but Friend Codes will be dead, dead, dead so baby steps) since it means I can finally set up a NNID for whenever I end up picking up a Wii U on the cheap.  Since I'll want one for the Wii games at least, if not the allure of playing some N64 games on what amounts to a handheld device.  Since...that's going to happen eventually?  Right?

I mean, I hope so, because I would love to play some Ogre Battle 64 on that nice little tablet

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Official Playstation 4 Unboxing Video is Awesome

There's almost very little to actually say about this Unboxing video.  It gets right to it and doesn't pad time with explanations, it doesn't leave you wondering "Oh, but what about this little thing", it just shows off what's in the box with a nice, slick presentation.  A nice, slick presentation that may seem rather familiar, but good nonetheless.

Not too much longer before the front-lines of PS4 buyers will have their console in hand.  I won't be among you, but know that I salute you brave folks who are prepared to weather the craziness of a console launch.  My only launch was the Vita and it was worth it because handheld launches know, lighter than consoles.  And I didn't even really get it -at- launch so much as I got it on launch day or the day after.  The point remains that I simply would not be able to manage, and that's why I'll be letting the chaos die down in the coming months before a PS4 is mine.  It will be all the sweeter from the time of anticipation...or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

anything using Daft Punk as inspiration scores some major points at base, really

Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Which I Resume the Status Quo

My last post about the XBone was fairly positive, but that's mostly because I made sure that it would remain that way throughout because that was the point of the post.  This post is under no such obligation.  This post is another in the line of many "Goddamnit, Microsoft" posts that exist because they should, because Microsoft has clearly learned nothing. I wish this weren't the case because I know that I'm personally tired of rehashing the same points over and over again, but it's kind of appropriate to do so since I'm not the one who is doing it first.  I am in the responsive position here, not the instigative position.  If it weren't such a critical issue, I would have more or less given up on it by now, but it is certainly -not- that.  It's a big deal, bigger than we like to admit, and that it's barely getting addressed is the real issue.

In a recent interview, Albert Penello, Microsoft Senior Director of Product Management, prefaced a statement with "I always have to be really careful what I say here," and then proceeded to do no such thing, much to my amusement and frustration.  Protip:  If you ever say, "I do feel like we never got a chance to have a rational conversation about what we were trying to do," then you should probably understand that you're being very, very condescending, since it basically infers that your side was correct, but the other side was simply so rabid and/or unintelligent to understand your rationale that you just dropped it entirely.  As we know that is entirely -not- what happened, and the insistence, however passive-aggressive, that it was is just irresponsible.  I'll get to that in a minute, however.  More importantly is this little tid-bit, likening the XBone announcement (which he refers to as "the Dark Days", another good sign) to the original Duke controller.
"I always tell this story about how we did so much user testing on that thing, about how comfortable it was. Every piece of data we had said that was the best controller ever made. And then we showed it to customers and they're like, 'Oh my god, this thing's huge! It's gotta be uncomfortable!'

And you're like, 'Okay, we're done.' Because I'm not gonna be able to tell you about all the work we did, and all the data I had, and, oh by the way, when you feel it, it is really comfortable. Sometimes the customer just says 'No.' I look at it this way: I'm done; I've made up my mind. And we go, well, we've gotta fix it. It's not worth it. And that's where I think we were on the digital stuff. We'll get back to some of the cool stuff, and we have a lot of the cool stuff still in there."
Do take note that unless he's talking about -another- Duke controller that was much larger than the one that we got, it doesn't spell out a whole lot of anything for this story.  Since the Duke was famously large and, despite Penello's assertions, uncomfortable, which is why the second controller was made during the OXBox's lifetime that was much smaller and the prototype for what the 360 got.  So what I'm getting at here is that this is a really bad story to tell, especially in relation to this topic.  Which makes the fact that he stated earlier on,
"The thing I want to be super explicit about, because I do think people are worried about, is once we made the decision to go to physical disc security, we're not unwinding that decision. We're committed to the physical disc; we're committed to trading and loaning. This is my official: 'We're not going back on that.' I don't want anybody to think we 'got' them, and then tomorrow I'm gonna go back to the old stuff, 'cause that's not gonna happen."
...needlessly suspicious!  Speaking, sir!  You are bad at it.  Note the same smarmy condescending tone to this little anecdote as well, further reinforcing...well, what I've said. 

But that's not the worst of it.  Not by a -long- shot.  The worst comes right at the end, and it's the part that just absolutely makes my blood boil because it is precisely the wrong thing to say ever.
Regardless, Penello admitted that, in the end, it was the right decision. He still believes the all-digital future is coming. "We just think that's the way the future's gonna go," he said. "We may have been right. What we were wrong about was that it's just too soon. People just weren't ready to make that leap right away."
This.  This thing that you're doing right here?  Stop doing it.

You don't get to proclaim that the thing you're doing is ahead of its time.  Things are only declared to be ahead of their time after history has played out and you go "Hmm, I wonder why this thing is happening" and then you find out the progenitor of it.  In this case, the Dreamcast is the thing that was ahead of its time since it was wacky enough to try and introduce internet-based multi-player gameplay, even though internet as a whole was not even a standard, much less good.  Microsoft took this concept and added their own...'improvements', which, combined with the Dreamcast's following despite the lack of real purchasing power behind that, prompted the others to follow suit.  That is why we have online multi-player and such in our consoles, rather than it simply being a PC thing, though it could be argued that it, too, was an 'inevitability'.

All of what that translates into for me personally is "See you again for Round 2", which almost makes me weary just thinking about it.  This time around was hard enough, but we managed to put up a brick wall of common fucking sense.  I believe that's due in no small part to the fact that digital purchases are still on shaky grounds with Consoles, especially with the shift between this gen and next and the almost-lack of connectivity in-between.  We'll not have that cushion when the XTwo and the PS5 are announced since they'll likely retain a PC-like architecture meaning there should be no trouble making them backwards compatible with the XBone and PS4.  Since the entire library of games will be digital at that point (minus the few that get de-listed for licensing issues and such), it might not cause much of a kerfuffle there.  On top of that is the theory that the internet -is- getting -slightly- better in an average sense, but not an 'everywhere' sense, and I'm just seeing a lot more people becoming accepting of the idea of something like the XBone was originally set to be.  The bad parts of it.

Call me cynical, but the short-sightedness of it is what makes me believe it's possible.  That there were even defenders of the XBone this time around, with the majority of them being people crowing from the rooftops, "Fuck you, got mines" is more than enough to crush the spirit a little bit.  The issue is that it's just not something that should be done, because it's not something that can be done.  Internet Infrastructure is not a world-wide standard.  Internet Service Providers are considered, as a general statement, to be among the worst companies out there (up there with Gas Companies, Insurance Companies and EA for some reason) and there is a reason for that.  They are providing a service that is infinitely invaluable because of short-sightedness and by that virtue, they have free reign on what they can and can't do, with the latter being 'not a whole lot'.  What's going to change that?  I ask that as a real, actual, legitimate question.  It's not rhetorical, I'm not going to say "Nobody, that's who" because I don't know that.  But I also do not know -who- is going to make the ISPs start behaving like the less-evil multi-million dollar corporations out there.  And somebody has to do it if we're all gung-ho for this stupid notion of an "Always Online" future.

I'm still just shaking my head at the condescending vibe that oozes from every single word said, goddamn

Friday, November 8, 2013

In Which I'm Mostly Positive About the XBone For Once

Do I really have to preface this post with a reiteration of my past opinions on the XBone?  No?  Okay.  Because I'm not going to for now.  What I am going to do is direct you to the above video of what is apparently a real XBone running the real dashboard in real-time.  And it is rather delightful, I should say.  While I applauded the use of the PS4's UI on-stage some time back for its simplicity while still showing off the nuances, there's something to be said still for a nice sit-down, "Here is how everything works" presentation when it's handled well, and this was nice and smooth with only a couple things I can really complain about.  That's..kind of the point, obviously, and it's probably not -completely- indicative of every situation, but it's still promising.

The first thing that needs to be said is, of course, how seamlessly the game goes back into play once you resume it from the Home menu no matter what you were doing previously.  I'm personally used to this already with my Vita since I frequently pull out of a game to access the internet browser or check a Youtube video for some help, but I understand that it is a new concept to some people and am still appreciative that it works as well as I've already seen it work.  Though, I do have to agree with Chance in wondering how the One will handle the whole "People play more than one game" thing, since Yusef could have been playing a different game entirely on his XBone, or even if he was playing Forza, he still has his own instance that obviously can't really be transferred over like that.  For having "everything of yours on any XBox One" (the pinned things, it seems) available, that one thing seems like it's the most -important- thing to have, but I don't think it's actually feasible.  Though, I suppose at least that's when the whole "You can download your (bought and downloaded) games to any XBone and use them so long as it's you actually using it" comes into play, so you still -can- get to your game, and I imagine your saves can automatically go to the cloud, so you'll be able to pull it from there.  It might take a bit, given file sizes and all, but still.

I would like to call special attention to the Skype demo.  Even though I'm not a fan of Skype at all, nor do I really care about its inclusion, I have to admit that I'm really, really impressed with what they showed off.  I never would have even thought that the Kinect could be 'smart' enough to actually zoom in and follow you if you were moving about and doing that was a real smart bit of forethought.  Even though you're mostly going to be using it when you're just sitting down and playing, there's something to be said for if you have it set up in an area where there's a lot of visibility and things you can do.  Maybe you're cleaning house and talking to someone else, or something along those lines, since, hey, it's totally possible with that set-up.  I dare not think of some ways that it will -actually- get used, but the -intended- usage is neat and actually uses the Kinect to its capabilities instead of just making it kind of like a webcam for that as I might have expected.

Really though, I'm not quite sure what to think about with the whole Game DVR.  As someone who watches a lot of Let's Plays of games and the like, I clearly understand the appeal of simply watching a video game being played, and with reactions (though not necessarily facecams) but that's not really what this is for.  So the next usage would seem to be little tip videos, showing you how to do something specific or what have you, but that seems to be a little limited as it's hard to tell just how long you can make these Game DVR videos.  I understand not being able to do 'walkthrough/Let's Play' length videos for multiple reasons up to and including HDD space concerns, copyright concerns with the companies that aren't cool with those types of things and that sort of thing, but if you can only do 30-second clips (I'm sure you can do longer, it's just a matter of how, and how much longer) then...what's the point?  To be fair, this is all shared concerns for the whole Share aspect of the PS4 as well.

I do find it a bit concerning that there was not even a single instance of them attempting to use the whole Two-App thing with the Snap interface, since that's something they've been touting for a while.  The worrying idea is that perhaps it's not working up to snuff and thus wasn't shown off because it would have looked bad, but we are officially past the "Well, it kind of looks bad" phase in terms of end-game functionality.  Because we are -at- the end-game here.  The console will be released in two weeks (if you don't get it early as someone has who is in the process of being banned from Youtube, Twitter and possibly Live as we speak) and the Day One patch is already live - it's where it's going to be at launch.  Maybe that function simply won't be available - I haven't really paid attention to news about it - and in that case it can be patched in later on when it's in a working state, but still.  It's a really weird omission for an otherwise stellar little presentation.  They officially have my attention in some capacity for now.

I made it the whole post, that is kind of amazing

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The PocketStation is Back...?

If you know what the PocketStation is, it's likely because you had to look it up at some point in the past, since exposure of it outside of Japan was...rather limited.  Essentially, remember the VMU for the Dreamcast?  Of course you do, because you're a good person and you owned a Dreamcast because the Dreamcast was awesome.  The VMU was the memory unit for the console and had a little screen and buttons because certain games had little mini-games that you could do while you were out and about to earn you rewards in the main game.  A more recent example would be the PokéWalker included in Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver - you transferred a Pokémon to the device before you went about for a walk or what have you and that built up points that you could spend on searching for items or Pokémon that you had a chance to catch right there on the walker, all of which would be transferred back to your DS game.

Anyway, the PocketStation is conceptually the same thing as these, presumably because the PocketStation and VMU were likely fashioned off of one of the other - I'm not sure which since I believe the PocketStation was announced first, but the VMU was released first.  At least, it seems that way.  Regardless, they both serve to fill the exact same purpose for two different devices, and the PocketStation is getting a breath of new life on the Vita.  The app will allow you to play the Mini-Games for the PSOne games that you own, meaning that all those little bits of extra content that were previously out of reach due to emulation are now possible....for the people in Japan.  There's no real indication if this will come out of Japan, and while I would be willing to believe it will, I have no idea why.  It never came out here before, but unless there's translation work needed in the mini-games, everything should be fairly universal.  NA PSOne games were apparently programmed with the functionality since it was assumed that Sony would eventually localize the device, so it would be cool to finally be able to tap into that, if only for the novelty.

I can't help but be a little underwhelmed, however.  It's neat and it's novel and I respect it, but it's something that's just sort of -there-.  It's a known quantity.  When there were teases of a PocketStation-like announcement, I was hoping for something a little grander.  Personally, my hope was for some PS4 games to have space set aside to be able to send a little mini-game to your Vita that you could play on the go if you weren't able to Remote Play your PS4 game.  I understand it sort of flies counter to the things they've established in that the Vita can totally just -play- your PS4 games, but it would be neat if I could, say, transfer some inFamous:  Second Son-inspired mini-game to my Vita, play it, and come back with some experience towards a power, or maybe something a little more esoteric.  Maybe it would've been something that lets you pick an 'element' from your house or nature or what have you (which would fit into a pre-set canned list, of course), bring that back and give Delsin that suite of powers.  Take a picture of a neon light and give him the Photokinesis set, or take a picture of a tree to give him some sort of Ecokinesis.  You see where I'm going with this.

That would have been cool.  Sure, it's basically just the PocketStation concept done with a modern-day set of paint so to speak, but it would've been enjoyable.  It's a throw-away thing, obviously, but the novelty would've been nostalgic enough of the PocketStation without literally just emulating that.  Still, I'll be pleased enough to download it should it come out in North America (for free, as it is in Japan) and enjoy it, but I just will wish that it was something more.  But who knows, maybe it's just something tossed out there to get people familiar with the concept again and maybe someone will do what I wanted and modernize it.  Stranger things have happened lately, you can't deny that much.

basically it all just goes back to me wanting inFamous on my goddamn Vita COME ON

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trophy Hunting - Way of the Samurai 3

After finishing both inFamous 2:  Festival of Blood and Sleeping Dogs:  Nightmare in North Point, both of which I had good experiences with, I figured it was time to move onto something else.  Sure, I could have gone on to play Killzone:  Mercenary on my Vita (Which I like, but can't be bothered to play more than one mission in a sitting), Rune Factory 4 on my 3DS (because I still haven't married Forte, goddamn random events), Hometown Story on my 3DS (Because storefront) or any other combination of things, but there was one game that stood out.  Thanks in no small part to my buddy Kaseius streaming it a few times recently, and my ever-burning desire to start the game again after I lost my save to my first PS3 when it had that...unfortunate business with the YLOD, I decided it was time to finally finish Way of the Samurai 3.

It under-taking, that is to be sure.  My quest for the Platinum was well under-way when my PS3 gave up the ghost, so I have all of the trophies except, you know, the ones that require the most time and effort to get.  Specifically the trophies for Mastering all skills of a particular stance (which means, inevitably, obtaining all of the game's 102 swords) and seeing each of the games 21 endings.  It might seem like it's cut-and-dry and, well, it is which is invariably the problem here.  The road is straight, if a bit bumpy.  I know -exactly- what I'm expected to do, and the only issue is managing to do it.  The 'doing it' is just going to take a lot of time that I don't...technically have to be able to spend with just one game, but I'm going to have to manage it.

One part of the problem is that some of the swords simply do not appear unless it's on a higher difficulty.  Another problem is that some of the swords are rare spawns.  And the Venn diagram problem of those two is that some swords are a rare spawn on higher difficulty modes only.  Two of them, at least, are specifically tied to an opponent you won't even fight until the end of a particular run, which means you either save-scum or you play the game a -lot-.  I'm fairly sure that every time an area is loaded (since the map is broken up into different places, like the Road, Amana Castle, etc.) the weapons on everyone are randomly decided (minus the few who only have one, unique weapon, which you think is every main character, but is in fact only most of the main characters) which means you can theoretically save before heading into a specific part of the map, get to the guy you need to find, check his blades and decide what to do from there in terms of killing them or re-loading.

Thankfully, I haven't gotten to this point of tedium just yet.  No, no, I'm still stuck in the lower echelons of tedium in mastering skills on swords with Move Scrolls for maximum efficiency.  Each of the 102 weapons has its own set of Skills (well, the moves that you can use with the sword, really) that have to be unlocked for the Stance Mastery trophies, and there are two methods of doing so.  You can either simply fight with the weapon and evolve it through combat (later skills either take a lot of kills or there is an element of randomness to it), or use a Move Scroll corresponding to the level of the skill - Basic, Advanced or Expert.  Without boring you with too many details, you can only hold 10 of each scroll at a time, which means it's kind of a hassle to actually go through the process of mastering weapons.

I do have a little system set up, however.  Move Scrolls are expensive: around 800 - 1,600 Yen a piece - when you can reasonably expect to get 200 - 600 Yen if you do a side job, of which you can -maybe- do two a day because of time limits and availability.  There is one rather lucrative way of getting money, however, and it simply involves walking up to the Ouka Clan castle, telling them you want to join, proving yourself and then murdering their leader.  They'll make you the new boss and one of the perks is that you can demand yen daily from the guy who handles the money.  Increments are 100, 500 and 1,000, and while you can technically try to draw more than once a day, it's a bad idea.  Just demand 1,000 and move on.  Do that every day for a while to build up a nice little purse and then move on to the next step.

One of the quirks of Way of the Samurai 3, as with some other games, is that money actually transfers to a character when you buy something, instead of know, being subtracted from your total and disappearing into the aether.  What this means, of course, is that as soon as you finish buying something you can pull out your sword and stab your seller to death to reclaim your money.  And if you do this right before leaving the region, presumably while flipping the bird, well that's kind of the idea.  Spend all that stock-piled money on scrolls, murder the merchant, apply them to weapons and then leave so you can start another run through.  Since that stock-pile stays with you more or less, the Ouka Clan money grind is only a one-time thing unless you need -more- money for some reason (Mogs Note:  50,000 Yen is over-kill, but you can use the rest to by Match Scrolls and Health Increasing items) and the rest is just a slow, steady paint-by-numbers affair at cursing at the 10 stack hard cap and murdering an innocent merchant and his inordinately sturdy bodyguard.

I've had worse trophy grinds before, of course, and it's helped by the fact that Way of the Samurai 3 is rather fun, especially with my powered up Legendary Murasame Ninja Stance sword with a respectable 100-something attack.  That I got by paying the blacksmith to upgrade it a bunch of times...and then murdered him with afterward to get my money back.  It's really handy!  Once the Stance Mastery trophies are mine, the last bit should be a breeze as I only have to beat the game 18 more times.  Which is honestly less intensive than it sounds, since a single run-through can be completed in less than an hour.  In a sense, the light at the end of the tunnel is already there as I'm assuredly up to 60 or so of the weapons, with Mastery being the only thing I have to do with them.  It's just a very, very long tunnel.

I am going to get so frustrated scumming Shuzen fights because motherfucker has like two sets of weapons that I need

Monday, November 4, 2013

Okay, This Trend Needs to Stop Before It Starts

It's been known for a while that Metal Gear Solid V would be yet another of the Cross-Gen titles coming out, releasing for both PS3 and 360, but PS4 and XBone as well.  It's also been known that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prologue to the actual meat of MGS V, The Phantom Pain, would be releasing beforehand due to it being a prologue and all.  That was roughly all the information that we knew to this point, however, and that finally changed today....kind of.

The release window has narrowed from "2014" to "Spring 2014" which is, of course, considerably more focused, but it's clearly still not ready for an official release just yet.  We also have a sense, and this is where things get a bit tricky.  Current gen prices for the packaged versions of the game (meaning PS3/360 disks) will be £30, which roughly translates to about $48, assuming they don't do that thing they do where they just exchange £ and $.  Current gen prices for digital versions of the game, however, will be £20, which roughly translates to about $32.  And then there's an entry for the price of the Next-Gen downloadable versions, which is the aforementioned £30 or ~$48.  So, what's the price for the Next-Gen packaged version?  Uhh..

Well, apparently there won't fucking be one.

It's already been confirmed elsewhere from the linked article - Ground Zeroes is going to be Digital-Only on the PS4/XBone and I have only one thing to say to that:  Fuck that.

Next Gen games are going to be fucking huge - Killzone:  Shadow Fall is just south of 40 GB as a compressed file (down from a hefty 290 GB) as an example - and I can't imagine that Ground Zeroes, the first Open-World Metal Gear Solid title is going to be an exception to that, prologue or not.  My thoughts on digital-only games has been well-covered at this point (even if I understand that it's a necessity -sometimes-, and can acknowledge that there are varying degrees of problem areas to it) but I think we can all agree that downloading 40 gigs is simply unfeasible for a majority of the people playing games out there.  Not only is there speed issues to consider (since we're not all blessed with the ability to pay for wonderful internet), but there is that whole pesky issue about Data Caps that has not gone away by some sort of magic or sorcery.  So it's at this point that I would like to ask Developers to kindly pull their heads out of their goddamn asses.

I'm going to reiterate the very point I made back when Microsoft assumed the internet was magical and ever-present around the entire goddamn world:  It's fucking not.  Internet infrastructure is actually pretty piss-poor in the United States (not to mention neighboring Canada and Mexico) since the farther out from a major city you get (not even the semi-major cities) there is a drastic drop-off in speed, capacity and what have you.  Everyone in the industry seems to forget this constantly, because, and I'm just guessing here, a lot of developers are based out of major cities.  I can see how it's possible that it's easy to forget what you -don't- have to deal with, but that doesn't make it any better.  Still, I think even some of these people would have an issue downloading 40-50 Gig games on the regular.  So hopefully this little idea of "Digital Future" stays in the future now as it has done so already, because we just are not ready for it yet.

I mean, seriously, Ground Zeroes is going to be fucking huge even if it's supposed to be a 'short' game are we kidding anyone thinking otherwise

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rainbow Moon Shines on Vita This December

It's been a while since I've talked about Rainbow Moon, and there's still a while yet before I'll be able to really talk about it again.  It was announced all the way back in September of 2012 that Rainbow Moon would be receiving a Vita port, since a lot of folks interested in the PS3 version asked about it.  A Vita port of the game just made sense, considering it's a Strategy RPG and a handheld device is perfect for that, and the developers agreed...but made it known that it wasn't going to be quick.  The game engine was built from the ground-up for the PS3 for best performance and would have to be completely re-tooled for the Vita.  It was a daunting thought, one that almost no studio would be willing to undertake, but Sidequest Studios did and we should all praise them for it, for the commitment if nothing else.

Still, that statement that it wasn't going to be a quick port could not have been more true as we will still not see the game until December 3rd of this year, a full year and change after the announcement was made.  The hope is that, with all the time they took in working it onto the Vita means that it'll retain its locked, smooth framerate and such, so the wait will hopefully be worth it.  There are also a bunch of updates to the game that will be baked into it at launch (and patched in to the PS3 version) to bring them up to complete parity, since Cross-Save is also going to be supported.  That way, anyone who has already bought and played the PS3 version will be able to bring their save on the go, as intended, which is an amazing boon.  It's also another incentive for owners of the PS3 to buy the Vita version as well, with the original incentive being a discount on the price for PS3 version owners.  The discount is hopefully going to be 50%, at least that's what Sidequest is shooting for, and I dare not even consider how the PS Store team will make that work, but I don't have to worry about it myself since I have not bought Rainbow Moon yet and am holding off on this Vita version.

As a result of not having played it yet, I don't really know a lot -about- it, and the above video does very little to elucidate on its merits and mechanics.  From what I can gather, it seems like a wonderfully deep Strategy RPG that looks gorgeous and runs smoothly in its PS3 incarnation, so I can only hope for the same with the version that you can hold in your hands.  All of that means, of course, is that this is the part where I shrug my shoulders and go "Well, I'm buying it" because, really, I was sold long, long ago on the PS3 version, I just never bit and patience has proven to be a virtue as my buying will go to the version that I actually really want.  I always like having a good strategy RPG around and while I do have that in spades...well, one more can't hurt, right?

it looks all sorts of flashy and such which is good, and I can't -not- support hard work I mean come on

Friday, November 1, 2013

Swapnote is Effectively Dead

Swapnote, also known as one of the few genuinely interesting things about the 3DS has more or less been cut off at the legs and left to crawl for the immediate and indefinite future.  While Swapnote is not going away completely, the main component of it, the SpotPass sending feature has been indefinitely suspended, meaning the only way you can get notes from anyone, including official notes from Nintendo and through StreetPass sending.  Also known as that fucking thing that never happens ever.  The difference between SpotPass and StreetPass is that SpotPass uses the internet and StreetPass uses the little range of Nintendo wireless that goes out from the device, and is usually just picked up by other 3DS systems while you're out and about except it never really works that way because I guess not enough people are carrying around 3DS systems with this feature enabled.

So, the long and short of it becomes - sending Swapnotes through the internet to your friends is feasible, whereas sending Swapnotes to people around you is not...because you both have to Friend Code one another and if you're close enough to one another that you can send Swapnotes with StreetPass, you can do fucking everything else.  Granted there are some uses, I suppose, mostly the types that make you go "D'aww", like setting a Note with a sweet message to your significant other to send during their work day, but otherwise the uses are limited and made even moreso by redundancy. All of this is rather hilarious when you discover the reason, however.

The following message was sent out through official Nintendo bulletins, the official Nintendo website and has basically been copy-pasted at every news site covering this story, so it's fairly easy to find.  Still:

Thank you for your support.

Nintendo has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in other regions) to exchange offensive material. Nintendo has been investigating ways of preventing this and determined it is best to stop the SpotPass feature of Swapnote because it allows direct exchange of photos and was actively misused.

Nintendo always wants to provide a positive experience for all consumers and limit the risk of any inappropriate activity or misuse of a service. We feel it is important on this occasion to take this action.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience to the many consumers who have been using this service responsibly; however this decision was made considering the point that many minors also use this feature of Swapnote. Thank you for your understanding.

Nintendo will continue to work to ensure more consumers are aware of our Parental Control features, which allow parents to manage their children’s experience on our systems. For more information, please click here.

  • Service stop date: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 7 p.m. PT
  • Service being stopped: Nintendo 3DS software Swapnote – Sending and receiving notes using SpotPass
  • Affected regions: All regions where the service was offered

Special Notes services are also stopped
So, in all reality, it's another case of Nintendo bending over backwards to ensure that they're being over-the-top cloyingly kid-friendly which is exactly what makes the masses at large scoff at them.  However, you can't really be mad at Nintendo for trying to protect the children - we shouldn't be trying to -not- protect them, after all - but there are varying levels of response, and Nintendo's Madagascarian approach is...less than understandable.  Especially since it was blatantly obvious from Day One that Swapnote was going to be 'misused' in the way they're suggesting.  Not only are you able to draw and write anything because there's a complete lack of filters, given that they are 'private' messages (no pun intended) meaning no peer review, but you can eventually unlock the ability to attach pictures taken with your 3DS cameras or the odd game that supports screenshots (like Animal Crossing: New Leaf).  A 3D camera, that is, on a device that supports 3D images.  Who didn't see the inevitability of lewd pictures being sent around to take advantage of that feature?

Apparently Nintendo.  What makes a further mockery of the situation is Nintendo's own basic admission that the Friend Code system that we've had to suffer with for -years- for the safety of the children has utterly failed.  The Friend Code system was basically built as its own fail-safe - kids aren't smart enough to figure out ways to exchange codes with anyone but those they 'should' be exchanging with, and thus effectively shuts them out from the folks nobody wants kids associating with.  This assumes, however, that kids are incapable of using the internet at an even rudimentary level and that they are also not allowed to do so without impunity.  Such assumptions are incorrect to make, and we have been saying this for -years- in argument against the Friend Code system since it does not actually protect people so much as it inconveniences them.

Regardless, it's strange that Nintendo pulled the plug on everything SpotPass-related to Swapnote, including the special notes that developers could send out to get you hyped in the latest game, as well as Nikki's notes that informed you of certain things regarding Nintendo News or what have you.  At that point it becomes less "We're saving the children!" and more "We're cutting costs, fuck you", or at least that's where my mind went first.  Still, Nintendo gonna Nintendo, I suppose and while it would have just made more sense to kill the photo-sharing aspect of Swapnote (besides Developer access for screenshots), I imagine the cost aspect -does- come into play a bit, which is why the entire thing was killed in every way that makes it worthwhile.  And I don't see it coming back either, which is unfortunate, since it was fun drawing off little notes and sending them off, even if I didn't make much use of it.  So, goodbye Swapnote, you were fun while it lasted.

I'm a little annoyed that I spent play coins on stationary now, though