Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to feel good about yourself today.

[As originally posted here]

Who doesn't like feeling like a good person once in a while ? And who doesn't like getting something for it to boot ?

Well, guess what, for a little more than 6 days still, that's exactly what you can do !

Here's the deal : you buy 5 great games for any price you want, then decide who gets the money. Sounds good? Head over to the Humble Indie Bundle #2 page.

Still not convinced ? Then please take a couple of minutes to read about some specifics after the break...

Read more »

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Monday, November 29, 2010

I can see how you may have confused those

I was chatting with a Spanish-speaking friend a bit ago and I was trying to remember how to say "I am lonely." So I googled it hoping for the best, and here I found this...

My personal favorite is 'I am in business school at Victoria and eventually want to do chinese business," but "I am going to rape you" is pretty funny, too.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Donkey Kong Country 3 GBA Rip

Dave Wise was brought back to do the soundtrack for the GBA port of Donkey Kong Country 3, and it was epic. There isn't a direct format rip circulating and a soundtrack was never released, but here's a game rip. Spread it around.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's better with no shirt on

Originally posted on insert credit, I literally cannot stop watching this video every few hours or so the past couple days because it brings me that much joy. What is it? Well, judging by the author's tags and what we see, it's a guy playing Galaga in New Jersey in an arcade with his shirt off...and really getting into it:

There are so many minute happenings in this glorious 0:26 second clip, but let's start at the beginning. 0:01 in, where is that left leg going? It looks like the machine's pushing him away or he is a runner ready to bolt at the start of a race. How this helps him or is natural at all to anyone playing games baffles me. 0:03 in, there it goes again, but this time it looks like he's playing Twister and he just got left foot yellow and the only yellow dot left is somewhere in the back. He then plays pretty intently for about 9 more seconds when at 0:12 he does some sort of swatting motion with his right arm, which could possibly be construed as a fist pump. It's hard to say. He resumes playing and whoever keeps pulling the rope on his left leg tugs it just a little, and then again at 0:20. But then something changes, and he closes the gap between himself and the machine. Knees bent, torso mostly parallel to the arcade cabinet's upright position, he begins to rock and thrust his pelvis toward the coin slots, 3 pumps perfectly synchronized with the 'wahs' coming from the game. Soon after, the 26 seconds of pure voyeuristic pleasure ends. Great stuff. (Also worth mentioning is his presumably sweaty tee hanging over the Pac-Man machine.)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Hori Fighting Stick EX2 Get!

Best 15 Dollars I've Ever Spent

Does anyone remember the days when a little money could go a long way if you were careful and considerate? I sure as hell don't, but some people do, if the many hours spent accompanying the elderly down Memory Lane (or perhaps Dementia Boulevard) are any indication. In the modern world of entertainment, people are somehow managing to warm up to the idea of spending more and more of their (sometimes) hard-earned money to get less and less of the actual entertainment. Video games are a perfect example, with 60 dollars or more rarely earning more than 15 hours of gameplay. That's 4 dollars per hour of fun. Would you pay 4 dollars for an hour of fun? If so, you probably won't really appreciate what I'm about to tell you.

Just three days ago, I spent 15 dollars on a somewhat esoteric side-scrolling action title for Xbox Live Arcade called Castle Crashers. The next day, I started said game with my friends and ended up playing a total of about 12 hours over the duration of the weekend.

Let's see... that's 12 hours of fun for a 15-dollar game, and the fun is only just beginning.

I think we have a winner.

To put it simply, Castle Crashers is a masterpiece of the modern gaming age. Deceptively simple and elegant, it slid its way onto the online stage and quickly took the spotlight as one of the best selling XBLA games ever, if not the best. Full of wit and nonstop hack-and-slash action, the game's controls never get in the way of a good time, and the difficulty is enough to make you pay attention, but not so challenging as to marginalize that always-feared "casual gamer." The designers know their sidescrollers, and used their knowledge well to keep the fast-paced game varied enough to avoid it growing stale or repetitive. Possessing a myriad of unlockables, tunes any Newgrounds fan should recognize, and a general air of out-of-this-world enjoyment, Castle Crashers has impressed me more than at least 90% of the 60 dollar games I've paid for in the past few years. I recommend it without qualification, although the game becomes leagues more enjoyable with friends to play with you.

After a weekend of this refreshing game, one can only hope that projects from these kinds of developers continues to flourish, and that the consumer may finally decide that big price tags don't always equate to big fun.

Best 15 dollars I've ever spent.


Monday, January 12, 2009

On Assassin's Creed's "Interruptions"

In storytelling, there is a pattern where suspense is built, then released. Once established, the degree of suspense built can be increased with every iteration of the cycle, until the storyteller reaches the climax of the story and the plot is resolved. Alternatively, he or she, after having established the pattern, can deny the release until the pressure has built to a fever pitch, making the release that much more intense whenever it comes.

Normally I'd be talking about a movie, not a game in this respect (just a personal peeve, each seems too disparate a medium to be trying to compare directly), but in this I think that this principle can be applied very well to the flow of modern games. I'll use Assassin's Creed as an example (it's been a while so bear with any inconsistencies): Going into the scenes where you actually slay your marks, everything is calm and quiet (though it is possible to bust in the front door most of the time, it isn't the most successful strategy and not the one I'll use for an example here). Tension builds as you near the target (and you're forced into seeing an example of the exact kind of villany the mark is about to die for). The release comes when you drop in on your target and deliver the neck stabbin', while the chase afterward (however tense) is, in fact, the falling action.

Now, that's the cycle for the actual assassinations. After each one, however, the overall stakes are raised: The player's equipment gets upgraded or he learns a new attack, and the guards in the game become just a little more aware of Altair's appearance. In this, the tension of the entire game is raised, and a release from this is also required for the cycle to be complete.

I'd argue that being booted out of the memory after a successful execution provides that release for the overall tension being built by playing through them. Some called it an interruption; I call it an intermission. When I was playing through, I found myself actually looking forward to these sequences (not just for the curiously faithful representation of the deliciously demure Kristen Bell). Maybe it was only for the bits and pieces of story it meted out at a very deliberate pace or the light adventure game elements it put before me, but whatever it was, I think the entire game might have been a little bit flatter without them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On Game Reviews

The most important thing a review can give me is an idea of what I’m going to be doing while I’m playing the game. If it’s Metal Gear Solid 4, I don’t need to know how ridiculous the story is going to be. I need to know if it has multiple axis inversion options, if the control scheme is conducive to the activities I’ll be doing through the course of the game and if not, if the control scheme is at all customizable. If it’s SoulCalibur IV, I don’t need to know that the story mode can be finished in fifteen minutes with a scrub character like Yoda, I need to know that the online is riddled with lag, the options for customizing a character have actually been scaled back from the previous installment, and that game balance in general will need some severe tweaking before the game can even be taken seriously. And for Burnout Paradise, I don’t need to know how immersive DJ Atomica’s blurbs help make the game, I need to know whether I can silence him if I find him annoying without changing the volume of my vehicle’s engine, if I can retry events I just failed, or if I can even cancel events I’m currently participating in that I already know I’m going to fail (for the record, you can’t do any of these things–but you could in previous Burnout games. Progress?).

It’s all about what I’ll be doing and how I’ll be doing it, what impedance I’ll face from bad design decisions, poor programming, or what have you. These are the things that make my controller fly, as opposed to anything having to do with story, setting, themes, graphics, etc. In a well-written review, those kinds of things can have a place, but for what I play games for and what I get out of games, these things are completely tertiary to me, as is an arbitrary number with no meaning or value to me placed on the sum total worth of the game.

That said, I haven’t been reading reviews much anymore. If I do, I’m looking at them after I’ve played a game to see what the person writing the review got out of the game compared to what I did. As for choosing what I spend my time with, I play demos, I rent, and I talk to people whose opinions I understand. I know my own tastes and what I want from a game well enough that trusting someone else’s opinion I’ve never met and never will meet or understand (however valid it may be by being published or on a website) is both counterproductive and a waste of time. I think I remember an ad from a gaming era past, and it’s still a valid quote: “Trust no one. Play it for yourself.” Really, if we aren’t playing for ourselves anyway, who are we playing for?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Left 4 Dead

Finally played it last week. I tried playing through "No Mercy" with the first party I found. Two of them dropped out, and after we failed the in-hospital segment, the last human player dropped as well. While having four humans proved entertaining (even if only one of them had a mic), having just one flesh-and-blood ally wasn't as much fun, and I didn't even last a minute playing it on my own.

I was able to play all the way through "Blood Harvest" with three other humans, and while the last portion was very exciting, it all felt very similar to the previous scenario. The scenery changed, but the enemies didn't, and the environmental differences weren't drastic enough to change the nature of the combat to an appreciable degree.

Then I played Versus, and I was in love. We started as The Infected, and I a Hunter. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but once I did, I was pouncing survivors left and right. I kind of hate the Belcher or whatever it's called, and the Smoker isn't much good to me either, but that Hunter is the business. I spawned as a Tank at the end of the scenario (this was Blood Harvest again), but I didn't like that much, either.

Altogether, I enjoyed the game, but I can see that it's pretty thin for me; fighting the AI infected isn't entertaining to me. Someone's going to tell me to ratchet up the difficulty, but challenge isn't what's lacking here, it's variety. Zombies do not make everything better to me. Ninja swords, maybe. High-powered explosives, destructible surfaces, energy weapons, and other things, sure, they can make things better, but zombies? Stupid enemies who rush you constantly? I never understood the nerd attraction to them, but they don't do it for me, and without that, there just isn't enough in this game to do it for me, either. Enjoy it while it lasts, zombie fans. I think I'm going to have to go back to Call of Duty 4 for my multiplayer jollies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Living on the edge

I know I'm a little behind regarding new games (probably due to me not owning a "no-longer-next-but-now-current-gen" console), and I should have spotted it earlier, but yesterday was the first time I played Mirror's Edge. Not even the full, game, only the demo, but still...

And boy, was I blown away. Even on a smallish SD television, it was completely awesome. Not only did it look great, it's fun as hell to play. After only a couple of minutes, you find yourself jumping around everywhere almost without a pause, and it feels pretty kickass. It's somewhat like the feeling I got when trying Assassin's Creed for the first time.

I could go on and on about how much I like the environment the game takes place in, or pretty much every other aspect I could taste during the demo, but I think I'll save that for a future post about the game when I'm done with the full thing. So I'll rather go back to listening to "Still Alive" (NO, not the Portal one, the one sung by Lisa Miskovsky for my new addiction :D ).

Oh and I can't wait for one of my friend to come around with his PS3 to play the demo again, but on my 40" HDTV. THAT will be a treat!

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Top 10 Broken Crap Fighting Game Bosses of All Time

This post is for all the fighting game players out there who have ever had to invest in replacement controllers that were destroyed in a fit of rage because you just couldn't beat that one impossible boss that you could swear was omnipotent. I too, have felt your pain. Many times have I expressed my negative sentiments for overpowered bosses by cursing the gods in anger and asserting my superiority over my controller for its insubordination. The following is a list of those broken crap bosses that provoked my aggression, from the least frustrating to the most ridiculous:

10. Shin M.Bison - Street Fighter Alpha 3
This guy isn't so bad until he uses the X-Ism super exclusive to him; the Mega Psycho Crusher. This is a screen-filling super that decimates your entire life bar in one fell swoop, and the CPU just happens to be smart enough to use it as a counter attack in most cases. His other attacks don't have nearly as much priority, thankfully, which makes him manageable in comparison to the other guys on this list.

9. Baiken - Guilty Gear
Baiken is a one armed, one eyed samurai chick, but don't let these handicaps fool you. She will kick your ass all over her stage and stain her sword with your blood. She literally has many tricks up her sleeve, which allows her to deal damage in a big way. Her specials have insane priority, and she practically has an infinite number of ways to set up her most damaging combos, but then again, even her smallest combos inflict ludicrous amounts of damage. She's a blast to fight with provided you can meet the requirements to do so.

8. Zankuro - Samurai Spirits/Shodown III
Zankuro is probably the coolest samurai to grace a fighting game ever. As if his towering presence wasn't intimidating enough, this guy's normal attacks do incredulous amounts of damage, and even if your attack was to come out first, he could perform one of his specials at the last possible second and it would still counter your attack. He has tremendous reach with his sword, and his heavy slash attack is faster than anyone else's in the game, so in a sense, the fight is over well before it starts. This battle will truly test your patience.

7. Omega Rugal Bernstein - The King of Fighters '98/2002
Rugal is adept at picking you off at a distance with his incredible amount of projectile attacks, namely the Kaiser Wave, which is a screen filling special that must be rolled through or jumped over at the last possible minute. And just when you get close enough to mount an offense, Rugal will simply perform his classic Genocide Cutter anti-air, which has godlike priority over every single special and Desperation Move in the entire game, to send you flying across the screen, forcing you to play his little keep-away game all over again. However, his priority and projectile attacks would actually be manageable if it weren't for the amount of damage they inflict when they score a successful hit, coupled with Rugal's extreme defenses against your own attacks and combos, which is really what makes this battle so irritating. Perseverance is key, here.

6. Magneto - X-Men: Children of the Atom
Magneto is, perhaps, the only opponent in CotA that actually requires some strategy to dispatch effectively. Normally all you have to do is spam the same combo over and over again, like any versus series game, but Magneto doesn't even give you the chance to get in close enough to set one up. He has two unblockable techniques, one special, one super, and they are both frustrating as hell for you. This guy can also generate a force field around himself to nullify your attacks altogether, which lasts a little too long for its own good. If you can't beat this guy, don't sweat it, just turn the game off and say fuck it.

5. Igniz - The King of Fighters 2001
I hate this guy. Supposedly there's some weakness in the A.I. you can exploit, but I never found out what it was. He has a standard projectile attack that negates and passes through other special and super projectiles, and has priority over everything else in general. He has an infinite combo that he can and will use against you whenever he feels like it. His DMs may as well be instant kills, which still doesn't say anything about the rape his SDM opens up when he lands it. This guy literally is broken crap because there's just no strategy you can implement that is effective against his brokenness.

4. Magaki - The King of Fighters XI
This little shit is broken garbage. He can have like, eight projectiles on screen at once, projectiles that can and will cross you up if you don't anticipate their direction, his LDM is a screen-filling super that has priority over everything, does outlandish amounts of chip damage when blocked, and may as well be an instant kill otherwise. If you manage to get in close enough to deal any real damage to this bastard, he has an invincible multi-hit explosion attack that covers the area in front of him that hits for major damage, and sends you flying across the screen, just like Rugal's Genocide Cutter. Avoid this guy at all costs, he's taken the fun out of the game for me many times.

3. Goenitz - The King of Fighters '96
We're entering the top three broken crap bosses now. Goenitz is one of them. Many people believe this guy is actually the penultimate broken boss, but I'm not giving him the satisfaction. For starters, his DMs are normal specials. He loves to just walk up to you until you're cornered so he can spam his Yamidouko unblockable grab, which does like, 25% damage. But, what makes him so cheap are his tornadoes. This guy can erect a vertical tornado in four different places on the screen, and he spams them with impunity. And when I say vertical, I mean these tornadoes extend from the bottom of your screen all the way up to the top, they can't be jumped over. And he can TELEPORT. He plays the most dangerous game of keep-away in fighting game history. After a while, you will have memorized his signature taunt, "Koku desu ka?", meaning, "Right here?", whenever he erects these tornadoes. Its fun attempting to bypass these tornadoes for a time, but after a while, it becomes too difficult to keep your cool. Goenitz is classic broken crap.

2. Shin Shishioh/King Leo - Neogeo Battle Coliseum
Shin Shishioh is one of my favorite characters of all time, so major kudos to SNK for creating him. His first appearance was in a little known game called Savage Reign, where there was a selectable version of the character called King Lion, or Kage Shishioh, and an unplayable(without a secret code) final boss version called King Leo, or Shin Shishioh. He has since returned after a 12 year hiatus in Neogeo Battle Coliseum, and he's back with a vengeance baby. Shin Shishioh has two exclusive moves that King Lion does not possess; the Hunter Killer, and the King Upper, and various properties on his other specials are different as well. In particular, his Beast Blow hits LOW, meaning it cannot be blocked from a standing position at all, and he will use it to completely pass through mid and high level projectiles unharmed. His fierce Earth Chopper is completely unblockable, and can OTG if you don't quick recover after a knockdown. The Hunter Killer is an extremely fast horizontal kick attack that he uses to hit you out of slow start-up specials and supers, but the big kicker is that it doubles as an overhead. You can imagine how difficult it becomes to remember to block his Beast Blow in a crouched position and the Hunter Killer in a standing one after a while. And the King Upper is a vertical projectile attack that does 50% damage if all three hits connect. This guy is seriously one of the coolest guys ever, and fighting him is a true test of your skills as a warrior. King Lion owns you for free.

1. Shin Akuma - Street Fighter Alpha 2/Street Fighter Alpha 3/Capcom vs. SNK 2/SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos
And last but not least, Shin Akuma takes his rightful place at the top of this list for being THE original broken crap boss designed to test your skills. His double aerial Zankuu Hadouken attack is easily one of the cheapest attacks in fighting game history, his Shungokusatsu, or Instant Hell Murder super art is usually enhanced in some way to make it even more devastating than regular Akuma's, and he's always so fast that he can pull a combo out of his ass at any moment. Shin Akuma easily earns his place on this list for being such a classic character, and I don't think he'll be dethroned anytime soon. Long live Shin Akuma!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Deck the halls, bitches

Well, 'tis the season or so they say, though I've never felt jolly around the holidays so much as I come down with seasonal affective disorder. But the video gaming industry has never looked better than it does this holiday season, which is definitely something to feel good about because this year's hottest new games are worth their weight in silver and gold.

Don't just deck the halls, deck your friends too! The fighting game front is finally starting to make a comeback, with titles like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which despite its criticisms, can be a blast to play with your friends. Street Fighter IV is all the rage these days it seems, but SNK's working King of Fighters title may just be enough to break Capcom's chokehold on the genre once it hits arcades here before long, which I'm eagerly anticipating. Namco's Tekken 6 is shaping up to be something truly promising, and while some people's hatred for Namco's "scams" discourages them from playing their games, Tekken is an awesome contributor to the 3D fighting arena, so if your arcade has it, pump a few quarters into it, your opinion may just change. So dust off those older titles like Capcom vs. SNK 2, SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos, and Neogeo Battle Coliseum, because its time for Street Fighter III to step aside!

Persona 4 will be hitting store shelves on December 9th, and having gotten into the MegaTen games myself here recently, I can certainly recommend this title to any serious RPG player out there looking for something different outside the realm of Final Fantasy.

The only front I can honestly say is still lacking is the action/adventure genre. Games like Mirror's Edge and Tomb Raider: Underworld are refreshing new additions to the genre, but as a whole, it just doesn't have as much to offer you as you might think. Devil May Cry 4 is still the best action title I've played on a next-gen platform, and I'm not sure if that will change anytime soon, so keep your eyes peeled for something that truly stands out.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's 2008 And I Still Can't E-mail Game Saves Without Hassle.

Microsoft runs Hotmail, a free e-mail service. Hotmail gives you five gigabytes of space. Microsoft also runs Xbox Live, which gives you no online space, but does require you to associate your Xbox Live Gamertag with a Microsoft network account.

What I'm proposing is a way to use a portion of your online free e-mail storage as dedicated Xbox game save backup space. You would be able to see what game saves you have in your online space from Hotmail or whatever service you're using, but you wouldn't be able to download them to a PC. The only places the files could exist would be in the online storage or on your Xbox. Sharing game saves wouldn't even have to be included in this feature, though in a perfect world that would be integrated into the data management system as well.

I understand why this kind of thing isn't being done right now: Primarily, allowing game saves to be backed up online could cut into Xbox Memory Unit sales. Second, sharing game saves is already being done, but mostly so that people can cheat their way to high gamerscore or other nefarious ends.

If there were a way to sign a game save with a player's information (the way that Microsoft signs Xbox executables so that only authorized code can run on the Xbox), then we could share saves through Microsoft, we just wouldn't be able to earn Achievements with someone else's saves.

What do you think? Do you see anything wrong with the lack of some kind of game save backup and/or sharing service from Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Demo Impressions: Mirror's Edge

I was happy with the demo, but one thing that irks me to no end in first person games cropped up: When a scripted story event happens in your normal view, the game suspends your control of your character and forces your view to where they want you to look. Someone called this "eyejacking" once, and I think the term is appropriate for something so intrusive, so annoying, and so unfair. When Valve wants you to look in a particular direction, they design their geometry so that you are encouraged to look in that direction, though you are at all times free not to. It takes a whole helluva lot more time to construct things that way, but it also never, ever, ever robs you of your own "free will" to look where you like. Here though, you have no choice. I felt like I was back playing Haze during those portions.

Otherwise though, I was pleased. Playing well is rewarded with a smooth play experience--a lot like an evolved Dragon's Lair where you have to hit a linear series of points, but leaving how you hit those points up to you. I was pretty pissed that you couldn't skip first-person story sequences, though. In training, I had to keep playing the bit where you bound off of a wall to hang on another surface then pull yourself up onto it over again because I was landing on the surface I was to hang from. Even though I was ending up in the same place, the game wanted me to hang, so I awarded a "FAILED" message and forced to watch the other runner go through the exact same sequence before I could go in. There were a couple of other segments where I had to watch that stuff--I halfway expected a valkyrie to come down and lift my dead carcass off of the screen before the next retry. I'm hoping that the finished game will allow you to skipping scenes like these, but considering the fact that several triggers or events need to happen in-engine for other things to play well, I'm not expecting it.

I did like it, though!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Ninja Gaiden II

Okay, so I read this really great review at Edge Magazine Online. After doing so, I decided to give Ninja Gaiden II another chance.

It may be one of the most incredible modern games I've ever played, even as it's one of the most infuriating. You must learn to play it, not just jump in and expect to be the HNIC (Head Ninja In Charge). But after giving myself to it completely (and having the tar knocked out of me time and time again) I can see why one would cotton to its thrills and challenge more than any of the other would-be end-all, be-alls of modern action gaming. Both God of War games are pretty good, and the Devil May Cry games I've played can be fun, too, but both of those series seem tame when Ryu Hayabusa Flying Swallows into the room. I'll never say another bad thing about the Ninja Gaiden series again, except that if it doesn't hit the bar with the next one it'll be a sad day for all of us.

P.S. Make that two things, the camera really is bad.

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