Monday, February 25, 2008

Persona 3

Hooray! My favorite impossible dungeon crawling rpg/high school sim where you shoot yourself in the head to use magical powers is being released again but with extra content and for a bargain price. No I'll finally be able to find a copy without spending a million dollars on ebay. Plus it'll add to my ever entertaining of games I own for consoles that I don't.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why do I like JRPGs?

So in the course of wandering through one of the dungeons in Xenosaga Episode III, I kind of started wondering why I actually enjoy Japanese style RPGs. By that I mean Final Fantasies and their ilk, or pretty much any game where battles involve some variety of your the heroes on side of the screen with enemies on the other while you proceed to take turns attacking each other. I've played a fair share throughout my years including FF VI, IX, X and XII, Chrono Trigger, Skies of Arcadia (/love), Xenosaga 1-3, and Golden Sun.
I'll be the first to admit that the base game mechanics aren't exactly that compelling. Running around dungeons until something attacks you, and then proceeding to battle it using menu commands isn't exactly that exciting. This sentiment has certainly been told to me by a number of my friends that have watched me play these games at one point or another. The only time the battles really get interesting are when you fight bosses, where some actual strategy is needed in what commands you select. But the weird part of this is that I often get really angry at any boss that provides a significant challenge as I call it "unfair" and some such.
Is it the leveling of the characters and the gaining new flashy attacks? Progression of characters and gathering of loot is certainly something that appeals to me, if my two yearish addiction to World of Warcraft proved anything. The flashy attacks are certainly entertaining, but those are generally just a means to the end of being more effective in the ever so exciting battles. And the equipment you get in most JRPGs is generally mostly superficial stat boosting stuff that doesn't change how your character looks at all, and I think the vast difference gear had on character appearance is one of the best things WoW did to encourage gathering equipment.
I guess the thing that most JRPGs have going for them is there stories. Most tell a somewhat entertaining and interesting story, if not somewhat juvenile at points (I'm looking at you Skies of Arcadia, despite my love). Though if I was really just after a story I could watch a movie or more likely an anime, considering most JRPGs are an anime story plus a game.
So in conclusion, I don't really know why I like these games. Maybe it's that they are a more sedentary experience than most games. So I might just be lazy. Awesome.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Soundtrack Awesomeness

As a huge aficionado of videogame music, the soundtrack to Super Smash Bros Brawl is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Coming in at 300+ tracks and more than 16 hours of music it's pretty much a collection of almost every awesome song from games on Nintendo systems. It also includes remixes or orchestrations of a lot of the songs along with plenty in their original form. I highly highly encourage anyone that enjoys game music to track down a torrent of it.
The only bad thing is that it has horribly cluttered up my Itunes library. Since, for the torrent I found, the tracks sorted with a combination of a letter and a number before the title, the track names are horribly ugly. So in order to serve my OCD for this type of thing, I'm going to have to effectively go through all the songs in order to fix the titles and then add the proper artist for each song. The artist part is going to be especially awful since the songs come from a huge variety of games and have a wide wide variety of composers. At least this will give me something to do for the torturous weeks remaining until Brawl is finally released.
Another great soundtrack, just fyi, is the Mario Galaxy soundtrack. Really, it's sweet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guitar Hero: Whored Out Edition

The inevitable whoring out of the Guitar Hero franchise has begun. With the announcement of an Aerosmith only game, this is likely the start of Activision making as many versions of this franchise as possible. I've seen in places that they want to have up to four GH games this year. That's so not needed. Plus, does anyone really need that much Aerosmith? At least they are also including songs that from bands that toured with Aerosmith as well.
I can't help but feel that Harmonix approach with Rock Band is a much better way of going about the iteration of a music based franchise. Instead of releasing Rock Band: 80s and Rock Band: Insert Genre, their weekly drop of DLC allows them to cater to many musical tastes all within the same game. Instead of a whole game based on a band they can release a full album from that band. It makes their game a much more cohesive experience then having to pop in a different disc based on what song I want to play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I know it's from last year, but this is still the best cute but disturbing videogame valentine ever. Thanks VG Cats.

Something I missed

So one game I missed last year, due to various reasons was Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii. Well mainly, I missed it because there were like a million other games out last year. But due to the magic of winter break and the fact that I only brought my Wii home with me I have finally gotten a chance to play through it some more. I just finished up playing for a couple hours and I remembered just how much I enjoy Metroid Prime games. Corruption manages to take the great exploring sections of the first two games and combine it with some fairly engaging action segments thanks to the new control scheme that utilizes the Wii remote. I mean it's certainly not up to the standards of say, a Halo, but the combination lock-on + Wii remote aiming mechanic makes the combat into something unique that you can't really get on any other console.
If you have a Wii and haven't played Metroid you really should pick it up. Sure, that won't help shake the fact that the Wii is essentially a Nintendo player, but it should tide you over till Smash Brothers comes out. Or buy the other Wii game I'm playing, Zack and Wiki, because it really could use all the help it can get. Plus it's a great old style puzzle game that contains surprisingly gruesome cartoon death.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Red Alert 3

Awesomeness. As long as it still has deliciously cheesy FMV ala C&C 3, I'm totally in.

Stop buying used games

Everytime you buy a used game, you are hurting the videogames industry. I realize that they are cheaper, but when you buy a used game you aren't giving any money to the person that actually made it. You are only helping the retail store, most likely Gamestop, where you are buying it. Gamestop makes absurd profits on it's used games. When you trade in a game you get, if you are lucky, maybe fifty percent of what they are going to sell it for. According to Joystiq, Gamestop makes about a fifty percent profit margin on it's used game sales, compared to a twenty-one percent margin on new games. The company that made the game don't see a single cent of the profit from the used game sale.
If I buy a game I like, that means I probably want to see a sequel for it. A sequel for a game is more likely the more sales it generates. If half of those sales end up being used sales, we might never see a sequel to whatever that game is. So please, if you are going to buy a game, buy it new. It might cost five or ten dollars more, but it's worth it to support the people who make quality games. Also, don't sell your games to Gamestop, the trade in value they give you is generally crap. If you are gonna sell your games, at least use Ebay.


So it seems that Spore is finally coming out. This is great news, considering that in won Game of Show way back at E3 2005. If I've ever been doubtful about a game living up to all it's promise it's probably this one. I know Will Wright is a freaking genius, but I dunno if even he can manage to make a fun engaging game out of the cavalcade of stuff there is to do in Spore. Can one game really contain a flOw style cell game, a Civilization style city game and an incredibly ambitious galaxy spanning space faring game and manage to make them all fun?
I have no doubt that the creature/vehicle creator portions of the game will be fun. I just hope it doesn't turn out like City of Heroes where the most entertaining part of the game is character building. If they can make a fun game to go with their incredibly impressive creature building technology than they will have a surefire hit on their hands. Here's hoping.

A bit o' introduction

So in the incredibly unlikely case that someone I don't know ends up reading this, I thought I'd give a quick run through of my current gaming habits. I own an Xbox 360, a Wii, a DS and a fairly capable gaming computer. I also have pretty easy access to my suitemate's PS2. Unless I come into a good chunk of money by luck at some point you won't be seeing many impressions of PS3 games here. To go along with the consoles I have a decent sized game collection. It would be a lot bigger, but in my younger days I foolishly sold a lot of my games. Nonetheless I just snapped some pictures of what I have here at school.

First up are the Xbox 360 and DS games.

Then the PS2 games, about half of which are actually mine. Also my small Wii collection.

Last but not least (well maybe least in terms of current playtime) are my Gamecube and Xbox games. Most of the Gamecube and all of the Xbox games are mine.

I also have a nice big CD case of PC games, but those are a little more difficult to photograph efficiently, so you'll just have to take my word on it. These days I'm seem to play a lot more console games than PC games. I think there's a couple reasons for this, but that's a topic for a different blog post.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dear Capcom

Okay Capcom, I totally understand that Chun-Li kicks a lot. But do her thighs really needs to be approximately the thickness of her torso?


I was planning on writing some sort of general introduction kind of thing. But then I saw some good news about a game I've been following recently. Audiosurf is a sort of bizarre love child of Guitar Hero, Tetris and F-Zero. Imagine that you are playing F-Zero, but there are colored block coming down the track that you have to hit in order to collect and form into rows of three. And that the track and the blocks are synchronized with the music that is playing. That in itself isn't that inventive, but Audiosurf's most interesting feature is the ability to use your own music. Any song on your computer can be used in the game.
The really impressive thing is that the game will analyze whatever song you pick and then generate a custom track based on that song. If you pick a slow song the track will be an upward sloping, slow moving, mellow experience with a fewer number of blocks to worry about. If you pick a fast song the track will be a steep downhill run with blocks all over the place. The synchronization with the music is really damn impressive, and I imagine must have been an incredibly complex endeavor to develop.
The practical upshot of the custom music is that every player is allowed to choose his own gameplay experience. If you have a few minutes to burn just pick a quick song. If you want a bit of a more involved experience pick an epic rock marathon. You'll certainly enjoy the soundtrack; you picked it after all. The various characters that can be picked also change up the gameplay. The Mono characters are simply a matter of dodging gray blocks and hitting the colored blocks, while Pointman incorporates puzzle game elements as you try to set up large groups of the same color.
The game is really just about experiencing your music in a new way. As the news item I linked to above said, Audiosurf is available for preorder on Steam and will soon be released for the small sum of $10. If you want to give it a try before you buy grab the demo from Fileshack that is linked in the news story. And speaking of experiencing music, anyone that has an Xbox 360 really needs to buy Rez HD off Live Arcade. It's an absolutely fantastic experience and a bargain for $10.

First Post!!!

So I made a blog. I don't really know why. I guess theoretically it's going to be about games and stuff. Stuff about life in general might slip in at points, but don't hold your breath for intense personal insight. I don't really have a particular topic to write anything about at this point; I guess I'll just talk briefly about what I'm playing at this moment.
I picked up Devil May Cry 4 for the 360 last week. Having never played any of the series (besides a very brief stint on Devil May Cry 2 on my brother's PS2) I was interested to see whether it would live up to the fair amount of hype it had been generating. Plus a third person action game would be a nice change of pace from the glut of shooters I've been playing (Halo 3, COD4, Orange Box etc etc).
I think I'm about halfway through at this point, and it's been quite entertaining. (Minor spoilers here I guess). I've just gotten to the point where you get control of Dante, after trailing him for the first half of the game as Nero. It's very impressive that the game manages to contain two fairly different styles of combat embodied by these two characters. Nero has his Devil Bringer, effectively a demonic grappling hook, which allows him to throw enemies or pull them within sword range. The ability to move enemies around gives Nero a significant amount of flexibility in his combat. He can really control where and what many of his enemies are doing through a combination of throws and grabs.
Combat for Dante, on the other hand, is a much more chaotic affair. He doesn't have any sort of throw or grapple ability. Dante's combat, at least when using his starting weapon Rebellion, seems to be very much about brute force. (Word to the wise, purchase and upgrade the Rebellion's Stinger ability as soon as possible.) Dante isn't as mobile as Nero, so he mostly has to slice his way out of a dangerous situation. Combat just seems harder for Dante in general. I think part of my problem might be the fact that I haven't really figured out how to utilize Dante's different styles. I might have to do some digging on the internet to figure out how to use the Styles, because they are either fairly superficial or I'm missing something. So far the bright spot for Dante is the variety in his weapons. He starts with a sword, double pistols and a shotgun and I've already earned some type of demonic make your punches awesome armor. If the proliferation of weapons continues at this rate Dante should have a sizable arsenal come game's end. It's also nice that his ranged weapons are actually effective, unlike Nero's wimpy pistol.
I don't think I want to write at the above length about anything else I'm playing right now, but a quick rundown won't hurt:

  • Zelda: Phantom Hourglass- Literally just started. The touch controls are cool, though a little hard to get used to. Best feature = ability to writes notes on maps.
  • Xenosaga Episode III: Ridiculous German Subtitle- After starting XS1 at some point last year, I've finally made my way to the final part. It's a pretty solid RPG, if you don't mind some obnoxiously long story sequences. Space opera at it's best. And the ES (Giant Robot) battles rock.
  • Halo 3- I still venture online occasionally. But my friend who I usually play with has refused to pay for XBL Gold. The hive of scum and villainy that is Xbox Live is a lot less fun without someone else to make fun of it with. Oh, and maulers suck.
  • Rock Band- Four Alarm Cybersquid continues it's epic march to the Hall of Fame. I'm deathly afraid of Run to the Hills drums on hard in my solo tour. Seriously, release the DLC albums already.