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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shoot-'em-Ups & Fish

When Raiden IV was released for the X-Box 360 in Japan last year, I was very quick to send an email out to UFO Interactive demanding them to release the game here because they were able to obtain the licence for Raiden III that was released for the PlayStation 2. I never got an email back, as expected of course. I mean, my email was passionate and direct but I doubt that it was seen by anyone else except for the laughing co-worker of the unlucky customer service representative who opened it. When Raiden IV was announced for a release earlier this week, I of course sent another email congratulating their decision and further demanding them to bring more Japanese shoot-'em-ups to North America so that their company's name can be synonymous to that genre just like the name Atlus is synonymous to artsy, hardcore role playing games. I wasn't expecting much of course until I got a response email from them:

Dear X,

Thank you for your kind words and support! We really appreciate loyal fans, like yourself, for continuing to keep the shooter genre alive. We hope to bring even better shooters and other premium titles over to the North American market and hope that you will continue to support us in the years to come. Cheers!

Thanks,

UFO Interactive Customer Support

Granted, it may be written by that same unlucky customer service representative who received my first email - with the collaboration of his co-worker - and not from somebody higher up the chain of command but I have worked as a member of management in the customer service industry before and this pleasant email is definitely a positive sign for the company. I took a quick visit to the site this morning and it looks like the Raiden IV announcement is finally visible there... What's this? They are bringing Way of the Samurai 3 to the X-Box 360???


Cor blimey!

Oh my, these guys are good. They may release a lot of utter rubbish but they do seem to be heading towards a path of redemption... Japanese shoot-'em-ups: that should really be your true calling, UFO Interactive! It's all yours for the taking!

Now for something totally random. The last several days have been a real bummer for me so even the strangest stuff can inspire me to write at the moment just to get my mind off things.


Now they are really getting desperate.

I really don't have anything against the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have been there twice and I thought that it was such a magical place. I have been subscribing to their email newsletter for a while now and every so often, they would talk about food in it. I often found the whole food conversation a bit uncomfortable because I think there is a fine line there that is easily crossed if these guys are not careful enough when threading upon the subject matter. They normally would offer non-animal alternatives to stuff like sushi and the likes. This time around though, the line has been crossed. I mean, what is this whole deal about "sustainable seafood"? I found it utterly offensive because it's very... fishist! The whole concept is this: You want to eat fish? That's fine, eat them until you are ready to burst but make sure you select the type of fish that is abundant in the ocean and not those that are facing extinction.



So, it's okay to eat fish now just because they are being over-bred to death to satisfy consumer demands? It's okay to eat one species of fish over the other? I do understand the call for awareness but this is very hypocritical. I thought the whole argument is to NOT eat fish because animals deserve to live their natural life to the fullest? Also a bit disturbing is to have the talented Alton Brown talking about how to prepare a tasty meal out of some dead fish from a fish sanctuary. I know what I will not be doing at noon on June 5th.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

PSP GO? Go Sony!

The buzz is everywhere: Thanks to the prematurely-leaked video of the June 2009 edition of the oh-so-exciting Qore, PSP Go... is a go! With a release scheduled for this fall, it's really just a nicer and more compact version of the PlayStation Portable with its best touted feature being the all digital content. What I love most about it is that it's going to truly shift the video gaming market to digital only content - something that's just so inevitable, it should be here already. It is going to take a while though, sadly, because Sony decided that it's a good idea to still have the older PSP models continually available for sale alongside the new system so that people can still make their choice when it comes to how they want to purchase their games. After the download-only marketing of Patapon 2, you would expect Sony to be a bit more aggressive about this. It's a tad disappointing.


Veronica Belmont rules.

My only complaint? It comes with only 16 GB of flash memory. Oh come on. In this day and age, I would expect nothing less than 100 GB! The only remaining question is this: How do you play older UMD-based games that you already owned? I have 93 UMD games in my collection that I would love to be able to play on the new PSP Go. Perhaps a way to install the game via an external USB device included with the system? Let's hope that Sony has a logical and well-planned solution at hand.


Make-up kit 101.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Games Played 05/23/2009

Guild Wars - PC
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom - X-Box 360**
Resident Evil 5 - X-Box 360*
Romancing Saga - PlayStation 2
Sonic Advance 2 - GBA
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - PC

*I finally completed Resident Evil 5 on Professional mode and I did it alone because that friend of mine whom I have been playing co-op with just lost interest in the game mid-way through. The A.I. companion was horrid but I'm happy to be able to prevail in the end.


**I am absolutely addicted to Circle of Doom!
How could I have abandoned this game when I purchased it early last year?


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Clockwork Knight 2 (1995)
Developer: Sega
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 07/23/2002


I'm off to slay a dragon! A mechanical dragon that is.

This 2002 purchase was actually the second time I bought Clockwork Knight 2. The first time I purchased it was sometime in 1995 when I picked up the Japanese version. I ended up returning the game to the store because I quickly got bored of it after just one day and I exchanged it (I knew the store owner) for Fighting Vipers. I always wondered if I never gave the game enough chance thus I decided to get the game again. The second attempt at it definitely yielded a more positive result even though the game is still not remotely close to being extraordinary. You play as "Pepper", a clockwork knight who is out to rescue a kidnapped Clockwork Fairy Princess. With the moustache and the whole princess deal, I always assume that this is Sega's twisted attempt at making a Mario game. Pepper can use his key-sword to attack his enemies or pick up environmental objects to throw at them. Clockwork Knight 2 uses pre-rendered 3D graphics on top of a clever mix of 2D and 3D objects. It still looks very colorful and vibrant. The game takes place in many different rooms inside a house, each occupied by animated toys and other mechanical contraptions. The stages are big and they have many secret areas to find. This focus on exploration slows the game down a bit for me. I have never played the first game so it is nice to be able to fight the crazy bosses from that game here in the "Bosses Galore" mode.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Games Alert!

I picked up a package from the post office earlier today that contained my order of Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir for the PC and Raiden Fighters Aces for the X-Box 360. I was pretty ticked-off this morning when I checked the tracking status for my package because it showed that a delivery attempt was made yesterday. I didn't get that little "We Redeliver!" slip that they normally would leave on the door or in the mailbox. This happens quite frequently where I live and it reminded me of the reason why I don't normally order my games online if I can just pick them up locally. It's worth the annoyance though just to get my hands on RFA.


The cover art for Storm of Zehir is wicked-evil. I love it!
RFA is a steal at $19.99 - I would gladly pay more for it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Games Played 05/22/2009

Guild Wars - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)
Developer: Avalanche Software
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 11/22/2002


It's all about tolerating the incredible cheap A.I. just so that you can get to do one of these.

Mortal Kombat 3 is the only game in the series that was milked dry by Midway with its many "newer and supposedly much improved" versions across many different platforms. Everything culminated into this release of Mortal Kombat Trilogy which basically features the same gameplay found throughout the other versions but with the inclusion of a several characters as well as stages from past Mortal Kombat games and a new combo-based finishing move called "Brutality". The funny thing is though, things had only gotten worse ever since the original home version was released for the 16-bit consoles - I used to own the Genesis version - because the disc-based technology is just not very supportive of the game: I am talking about the load time here. It was bad on the SegaSaturn, so you know that it would not be any better on the PlayStation. The game is playable despite the irritating load times but what is unforgivable is the missing round announcement at the start of the matches. I was expecting nothing but perfection since the game was supposed to be the ultimate version of Mortal Kombat 3. I walked away from it being terribly disappointed. In hindsight, I should have picked up the Nintendo 64 version of this game instead.

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Games Played 05/21/2009

Guild Wars - PC*
Infamous Demo - PlayStation 3**
Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - X-Box

*I really want to see the high-level content of this game so I started playing it again.


**Didn't know this was going to be an open-world game, GTA style.
All I ended up doing was killing those innocent people roaming the streets. I like
the graphics and the lightning mutant power a lot but I wish it was more structured.



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Way of the Samurai (2002)
Developer: Acquire
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 2002


And the winner of The Most Devastating Personal Insult of the Year Award is...

Way of the Samurai is an action adventure game that really focuses on open-ended play and non-linearity. You play as a wandering Samurai who arrives in a small town that is on the verge of a bloodbath amongst its conflicting inhabitants. The game takes place within the confines of the small village and its surrounding landmarks. The game is also framed within a 3-day timeline before it is completed. These descriptions don't sound like the game is worth much until we discuss about the game's branching storyline. There are many decisions that you have to make throughout the short adventure and each will alter the game's storyline to a degree. When you first play the game, everything that is happening around you may not make much sense until you have played it multiple times through and learn the details from the alternate portions of the tale that you haven't encountered before. I really like how this is done because as that wandering Samurai, you really shouldn't know anything about the situation that you have stumbled yourself into. This really adds a flair of realism and drama to the game's atmosphere. There are costumes to unlock and weapons to collect to make your subsequent adventure less repetitive. The main problem with the game is that the character conversations are slow and going through them again just to see what other events you haven't seen before require a huge amount of patience.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Oh Yes! Raiden IV!

It's official! Raiden IV is coming to the U.S. courtesy of UFO Interactive! As an avid Japanese shoot-'em-up fan, such an announcement brings about a tiny speckle of hope that more North American publishers would become interested in localizing more of these rare and wonderful games. Please bring Deathsmiles, Mushihime-sama Futari, Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label Extra, and more our way!


Oh my galaxy... Castle of Shikigami III + Ultimate Shooting Collection
for the Wii, then Raiden Fighters Aces for the X-Box 360, and now this?
Please tell me that there's a promising publishing pattern emerging here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Games Played 05/20/2009

Shining Tears - PlayStation 2


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Blast Wind (1997)
Developer: Tecnosoft Co., Ltd.
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 07/24/2002


It's no Thunder Force but it is still filled with full-blown Technosoft goodness.

Blast Wind may sound like a more polite way to describe the act of passing gas but in this case, it's a top down 2D shooter from Thunder Force developer, Technosoft. The gameplay is classical in design and very easy to get into. You have access to three types of attacks: a forward shot, a homing shot, and a super bomb. There is a form innovation when it comes to the stage design: the path within a stage branches, revealing new areas as well as enemy patterns. The branching paths also reveal different bosses to conquer at the end of the stages. The problem with the game is that the large sprite of the player's ship also has a pretty big hit box and it is hard to avoid the incoming bullets at times because even a minor brush against them will lead to an exploding ship. The graphics can get a little too busy sometimes and that makes matters worse when you are trying to keep a close eye out on the enemy bullets against the background animations. The game has a presentation style similar to Thunder Force V that was also released in 1997. It's pretty cool to see familiar looking menu screens and to hear recycled sound bits between the two games.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Games Played 05/19/2009

Daytona USA - SegaSaturn
Free Realms - PC*
Lost Kingdoms - GameCube
Sega Classics Collection - SegaSaturn
SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos - X-Box


*I played the game again because of this announcement and I am actually one
the of first "lucky" people who are a part of the first 1,000,000 registered players.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Tak and the Power of Juju (2003)
Developer: Avalanche Software
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 05/08/2004


Included as a bonus content is this cheap music video. Oh you shouldn't have.

Tak and the Power of Juju is your typical modern platformer: It has a strange, immediately distinctive character - no matter how desperate the attempt may be - and too lengthy of an adventure that is only worth playing through it once. You play as Tak who must recover the stolen moonstones from an evil shaman who has turned almost everyone in his tribe into a mindless flock of sheep. The game has a weird obsession with animals because you do get to manipulate quite a number of them in your adventure. The overall graphics look nice even though I am not particularly fond of the main character - at least he fashions that big, round stomach like the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The game is entertaining but it's hardly exciting. The experience is rather generic and the rhino riding thing is so 1990s... Donkey Kong Country, hello? The game's automatic camera works really well but since the game involves some degree of exploration, manually adjusting the view can be a bit frustrating because the camera rotation is a bit slow.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Games Played 05/18/2009

Crackdown - X-Box 360
Loki: Heroes of Mythology - PC
The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II - PC
Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic - PlayStation 3
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Ultimate Muscle - The Kinnikuman Legacy:
Legends vs. New Generation (2003)
Developer: Aki Corporation
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 06/11/2003


I just love how the announcers' portraits pop out during the special moves.

I am glad that during my childhood, I opted to watch the Kinnikuman anime series more than WWF. The humorous Ultraman-cum-wrestling parody was more exciting to me than Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage combined. I didn't know that there was a recent sequel to the original series and when I first saw the cover art as well as play the game's story mode, I was surprised to see all the "New Generation" characters whom I was not familiar with. I certainly enjoy the "Legends" characters better because they bring back a lot of fun memories of my youth. The graphics are colorful and they stay true to the source material. The outrageous super moves are fun to watch - they sure beat anything you see in other wrestling games. Those who are familiar with wrestling games made by Aki will discover that similar play mechanics are utilized in this game. Though not grounded by reality, the game still feels like a proper wrestling game with slow-paced action and grapple-heavy gameplay. The game has a "create-a-wrestler" feature where you can create truly bizarre looking superhero-mutant-machine-whatever-wrestler. The best wrestling game ever!

LIBRARY STATUS: 5 out of 5

Games Played 05/17/2009

King's Bounty: The Legend - PC
Kingdom Hearts - Re:Chain of Memories - PlayStation 2
Mage Knight: Apocalypse - PC
Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC
Sonic Advance 2 - GBA
Spellforce 2 - PC
Warcraft III - PC
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Demo - PlayStation 3**
Zen Pinball Demo - PlayStation 3

*Yes, it was a very busy day for me!

*The frame rate seems to be a bit more erratic than the X-Box 360 version and in the title screen with Logan inside the Weapon-X tank, he is strangely missing a number of free-flowing hairs from his chin :) Definitely not enough to steer me away from buying the PS3 version.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:

Romancing Saga (2005)
Developer: Square Enix Co., Ltd.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 10/16/2005


The witch is right. The experimentation lead to another DOA for Saga.

Romancing Saga is a remake of Square's old Super Nintendo game of the same name. I have never played any of the 3 Romancing Saga games on the SNES - the first Saga game I played was Saga Frontier on the PlayStation. I was very excited about this release when it was first announced and upon its arrival, I was quite pleased with the result. The game got only a few favorable reviews from the game critics and it's easy to see why. Just like the other Saga games, it's incredible complex and demanding. You have to consistently manage the progression of your character classes, team member combinations, magic/skill efficiencies, and the field proficiency skills. Unlike a majority of the other Square games, Romancing Saga is not made with the casual gamers in mind so those who are expecting a brisk gameplay experience will find themselves at an extreme disadvantage. If you put enough time into the game, it can work for you but it will take a while to get there. Everything just seems very awkward as well as unfairly unforgiving at first and many will not be able to get pass that learning stage. There are 8 starting characters to choose from and though the game generally arrives at the same conclusion, the variety of ways to get there due to your character of choice makes everything exciting - this also encourages multiple play-through of the game. Romancing Saga has an amazing soundtrack - the stirring intro movie itself is magnificent - and a very unique graphical style where everything looks hand-painted instead of polygonal.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Games Played 05/16/2009

Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Sonic Advance 2 (2002)
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Purchase Date: 03/28/2003

The only good blue hedgehog is a 2D blue hedgehog.

While things can only get from bad to worse continuously for the series' foray into 3D, Sonic games on the Game Boy Advance are consistently brilliant. Though not as polished as the first Sonic Advance, this sequel still plays like the good old Sonic games on the Genesis. None of the Sonic games I have played can be called "difficult" per se but I consider this title the trickiest of the bunch because it has a lot of death drops. Like the other 2D Sonic games, sometimes you won't be able to know if you are going to land on a platform if you miss a jump while travelling at high speed but here, you are almost always greeted by death when that happens. The graphics are colorful and the rotation effects on the characters' sprites look pretty cool. There is a mini pet simulation game on the cartridge that can be linked to Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the GameCube. The one problem I have with Sonic Advance 2 is the Dr. Eggman bosses - there is a blatant abuse of the "chase battle" where you are running after Dr. Eggman, avoiding his attacks while getting yourself close enough to damage him. The game would have been perfect if not for that repetitive and lazy design.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh No! PSP Rental Service

Last night, I completed a surreal Sony survey that introduced its participants to a hypothetical "digital game rental service" for the PlayStation Portable. The overall design seems to revolve around the subscribers ability to download and play a certain amount of games available from the rental service for some superfluous subscription fee. I found the idea to be incredibly silly and stupid. Digital download purchases for new games - yes, I am all for that. This rental service? No, thank you. If this thing makes it to light and becomes successful, I am afraid it will take us into a dark age of gaming because it may eventually evolve video gaming into a "rental only" industry. Just think about it for a moment: Smart developers know that they can make more money if they only allow gamers to be able to play their games only if certain fee is paid on a monthly basis. It will take some time to get to that point but this thing will definitely encourage such thinking. I can't help but to think about the long haul but I am sure impatient gamers are only seeing the short term benefits of this greedy little project.


They were pages of these pricing modules that I had to sort through.
I said no to each and every single one of them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Martyrs


Martyrs (2008)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Pascal Laugier

I just finished watching Martyrs and I am still a bit dazed from the experience. Is it better than À l'intérieur? Well, it's different... I can't say whether it's superior or inferior. Is it truly hardcore in terms of its blood and gore? Actually, it isn't. But is it any good? Oh yes it is.

One thing is certain: Martyrs is definitely one of those movies that you have to view before knowing the details of the storyline. The basic premise is this: a young girl was able to escape from being locked up and tortured in an abandoned building. 15 years later, she was able to locate the people responsible for her misery. Saying anything more than that will destroy this movie for you and no, you are not permitted to look elsewhere to find out more - if you are remotely interested in the film, just do yourself a favor and watch it. I can say that the movie takes me on a roller coaster of emotions - fear, disgust, desperation, and ultimately sadness - and it's clear that Laugier wants Martyr to honor a lot of different sub-genres within the horror conventions with its mesmerizing and twisted plot development.

In regards to my comment about the blood and gore - the movie is certainly bloody but it isn't as bad nor is it as excessive as the things I've seen in the likes of Hostel 2 or the Saw franchise. I wouldn't call the movie ultra-violent but I will call it ultra-brutal: there is a difference between the two. The torture scenes have a "subtle" momentum to them and the savagery is felt through that build up instead of the in-your-face approach mostly found in your typical "torture-porn" genre (in which this movie isn't by the way).

If you are looking for a fresh take on what the horror genre can accomplish, Martyrs is it. There is something selfishly human about the whole horrific proceedings when everything is said and done, which is something that I don't really expect to come out of a horror film. Laugier has made a very disturbing movie that can be enjoyed in so many different levels, even if he himself is confused about his success: he actually apologizes in the introduction video on the DVD. I just hope that his misdirected humility will not stop him from taking further risks in the future.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Games Played 05/15/2009

Bionic Commando Demo - X-Box 360*
Galerians - PlayStation
Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC
Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic - PlayStation 3
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Demo - X-Box 360

*This multiplayer-only demo sucks. Boring deathmatch even with the stretchy arms.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Lost Kingdoms (2002)
Developer: From Software
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Purchase Date: 05/29/2002


So, you know the world is in peril and you're still going to charge me for these cards?

Lost Kingdoms is an action role playing game where you play as a princess out to save the world from a dark fog that is engulfing the lands by utilizing the power of summon cards. When she enters battle mode, four cards will be slotted to the four face buttons of the controller and whenever one of them is exhausted, the next card will take its place. When used, the unique cards will trigger unique attacks in real time and you have to navigate the battlefield strategically to make sure that your attack attempts are successful. There are several different types of cards, complete with specified elemental attributes - or lack thereof - to match. Typical of a From Software game, it is very demanding of the player and it requires constant player involvements and careful planning to build a proper deck since only 30 cards can be carried by your princess at a time whenever she enters a stage. It is possible for the player to exhaust all the cards during a stage if the deck is not properly managed. The game is difficult at first but once you have familiarized yourself with its quirks, you will discover a fun game underneath all the technical nuances.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 05/14/2009

Golden Axe: The Duel - SegaSaturn
King's Bounty: The Legend - PC
Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC*
ToeJam & Earl II: Mission to Earth - X-Box


*I'm all over the place with my role playing game cravings... I've started playing
Neverwinter Nights 2 on the PC again and I have even placed an order for
the Storm of Zehir expansion. I hate the random crashes though.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Sega Classics Collection (2004)
Developer: Sega
Platform: PlayStation 2
Purchase Date: 03/26/2005


Do you prefer your Amazon to be extra spicy or extra crispy?

Sega Classics Collection is a different kind of "classics collection" in which it is a collection of classic Sega games that received a graphical boost and some slight gameplay alterations. There are 10 games in all: Alien Syndrome, Bonanza Bros., Columns, Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe, Monaco GP, Outrun, Space Harrier, Tant R, and Virtua Racing. These games were released individually as parts of the Sega Ages 2500 series in Japan and were sold at budget prices. There were about 30+ games in the series and it's a bit of a shame that only a fraction made it into this collection. The graphical updates for the most part are PSOne quality, which is a bit disappointing. Most of the upgrades are subtle and look almost like the original like Fantasy Zone and Bonanza Brothers while others are a bit more dramatic like Golden Axe and Alien Syndrome. While most of the gameplay remains flawlessly intact and sometimes even enhanced, like the story mode addition in Columns, the version of Golden Axe found here contains a lot of bad design decisions: When magic is cast, the character is transported to another plane and the enemies on screen disappear thus eliminating the illusion that the magic are directly damaging the enemies. Though I appreciate Sega's efforts in making the game more fast-paced, they also throw in too many enemies at you constantly, making the game more boring and repetitive than the original.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

WOOT! Martyrs!

After sitting at number 1 on my Netflix queue for 3 long weeks - apparently a lot of people have been renting out this movie OR Netflix has only one copy of the DVD (I wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter) - Pascal Laugier's Martyrs is finally arriving tomorrow for my viewing pleasure. A review will follow up soon after and I am really hoping that this movie is not going to disappoint me like the majority of the supposedly great French horrors: Frontier(s) + Ils + Haute Tension. Will it be able to topple À l'intérieur? I can't wait to find out!


Finally!


Please please please let this one be a good horror movie!

Games Played 05/13/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Daytona USA (1995)
Developer: Sega-AM2
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 05/05/1996


More clipping action than what you'd find at your busiest local barber shop.

The SegaSaturn has brought a lot of blissful video gaming experiences to the world but it also has it shares of completely horrible moments. Daytona USA is, without a single doubt, the Saturn's most shameful game release and it would have made me lose faith in the console if I had pick it up before the amazing port of Sega Rally Championship. The gameplay is accurate and responsible enough but the graphics - oh my galaxy! - the graphics... It's one of the poorest video game graphics ever with its rough textures - in that so rough, they'll make your eyes bleed kind of way, erratic frame rate, and an overwhelming amount of pop-ups and clippings. Frankly, it's quite embarrassing. These graphical problems are not devastating enough to make the game unplayable - pretty close though - but they do make you feel really sad whenever you see the game running. At least all the giddy cheese-fest of a soundtrack is perfectly intact. Rolling st-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-rt!

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

Games Played 05/12/2009

Kingdom Hearts II - PlayStation 2
Resident Evil 5 - X-Box 360
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - PC
Söldner-X: Himmelssturmer - PlayStation 3


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos (2003)
Developer: SNK Playmore
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 2004


Dan deserves nothing but the worse kind of humiliations to be imposed upon him.

SVC Chaos is SNK's vision of the ultimate cross-over fighting game between their superstars and Capcom's slightly more popular fighters. While Capcom found some degree success with their Capcom vs. SNK series, SVC Chaos is an inferior product in every sense of the word. The first major flaw of the game is its 1-on-1 fighting layout. This game is meant to be structured just like The King of Fighters series where you can create your dream team of 3 to take into the ring. Capcom vs. SNK has that option, why can't SVC Chaos? Secondly, the graphics. Though I truly adore the new sprites for the Capcom characters drawn in that distinctive SNK style, SNK's own cast members feature rehashed spites and animations. Worse still are the backdrops - they are cool and detailed but there are also devoid of life and are absolutely boring. The fighting itself is fun and pretty straightforward since SNK didn't take any risks at all to introduce any new gameplay mechanics. There are 36 characters in all - it's very generous... except for the unnecessary introduction of "Violent Ken": As if we need to suffer through the experience of having Ken being violently abused and overused in a SNK game.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Games Alert!

I was really looking forward to buying Raiden Fighters Aces for the X-Box 360 today - it finally came out on the 12th of this month after numerous delays - but I was not able to find it locally at retail. So it looks like it will have to be an amazon.com online purchase. I ended up buying a couple of PlayStation 2 games! I was really tempted to buy X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the PlayStation 3 but I thought it would be smarter to wait until the price drops below the $50 range before I purchase it. I really like what Atlus did with the first Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner, so I wasn't able to resist getting the sequel, especially with its incredible packaging and its sweet $34.99 price tag. I started playing Kingdom Hearts II earlier this week and although I was finally able to get past the first 3 hours of the game this time around (it was still quite boring), I forgot that I didn't finish Chain of Memories on the Game Boy Advance that serves as a bridge between the two Kingdom Hearts games. I decided to go ahead and buy Kingdom Hearts - Re:Chain of Memories for the PlayStation 2 which is the enhanced version of that GBA game. I will complete this game first before gong back to Kingdom Hearts II.


The PlayStation 2 still holds a lot of influence over my purchase decisions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wolverine Fights Back!


Man hair overdose - Check.

If you have read my movie review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you know how much I hated it. When I logged on to X-Box Live earlier, I saw that the demo for the movie-based game was available for download and since I wasn't in the mood to really play anything, I thought to myself... Why not?


Buff Jackman body - Check.


Well, just the intro video when you start the game itself is a million times better than the entirety of the terrible movie this game is based on. Raven Software has taken the liberty to ensure that they would do whatever they can to distinguish this game from the movie by altering the storyline and adding in more action than the movie could ever contain - they know the movie sucks, there is no question about that. The game is a hardcore hack-and-slash with some lite role playing game elements added to it. Wolverine levels up when you have racked in enough experience points and you can customize his attributes to your liking. The demo didn't allow me to really experiment with this because of it was very short. When you level up, it feels very rewarding because it is celebrated with a flashing, bright glow encompassing Wolverine's entire body. It really makes you want to kill more enemies so that you can see it again.

Exciting X-Men action missing from the movie - Check.

The action itself is simple but fun. It really reminds me of Conan on the X-Box 360/PlayStation 3 in terms of its overall mechanics and its level of gore. Unlike the sterile, bloodless movie, there's plenty of the red stuff to be found in this game. This is the real Wolverine whom I have been looking for - he's ultra-violent, he's sadistic, and he likes to stick his claws viciously where it hurts the most (like through the skull or across the neck). Body parts fly everywhere and some of the amputations are presented in slow motion for extra dramatic effect. Your enemies are not the only ones who get to take a shower in their own blood - as damage is inflicted upon Wolverine, you will see his flesh gets torn asunder only to regenerate completely when you are able to get away from the incoming punishments.

Gory kills missing from the movie - Check... and ouch!

I am quite impressed with what I have seen and played so far. This game is so much better than the movie, Raven Software should have released this without using any of the movie license. But I know that everyone loves Hugh Jackman so I can't blame them for trying to cash in on the movie's popularity. I really look forward to playing the full game. Thanks to the demo, the game has now been listed as Severity 1 on my Purchase List.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Games Played 05/11/2009



RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Galerians (2000)
Developer: ASCII Corporation
Platform: PlayStation
Purchase Date: 04/18/2000


Leon? Is that you, Leon? No, it's only Rion.

Galerians - what a title. Logically, this should have been a game about a bunch of hip and cool teenagers who are addicted to visiting the local gallerias. But that would probably be a lame game and Galerians is anything but that. You play as a 14-year old Rion who finds himself being experimented on in a creepy lab where the adventure begins. He doesn't have any recollection of who he is, only that he wields some truly remarkable psychic power. The game is a Resident Evil clone when it comes to the graphics - using 3D models on top of moody but static 2D backdrops - and the rigid character control. Instead of combining herbs and managing firearm ammunition, here you get to manage a bunch of ability-altering chemicals to inject into Rion. The storyline is very bleak with some absolutely horrific set pieces and it will keep you glued to the game until the end. Unfortunately, the experience is riddled with moments of frustration because you have to constantly watch Rion's anger points that keep rising up with pretty much everything you do in the game. All the bloody head-explosion deaths will make you forget the game's shortcomings though.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5

Games Played 05/10/2009

Free Realms - PC*
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution - X-Box 360
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - PC

*A free-to-play MMO that almost got me and a friend hooked with its beautiful graphics and fun use of mini-games. We were almost willing to pay the $5 monthly fee to access the premium contents until we found out that some of the things you can buy in the game - like cute little animal pets - require a quick charge on your credit card! Ewww.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth (2002)
Developer: ToeJam & Earl Productions, Inc.
Platform: X-Box
Purchase Date: 06/05/2003


THE most offensive full motion video cut scene in video gaming history.

What could have been a celebratory comeback, ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth ended up being something that should have never been released. The ironic thing is, the game is very true to the first two games that were released back on the Genesis when it comes to the gameplay design: it's all about roaming large stages to collect items and the ultimate goal in this game is to recover the Twelve Sacred Albums of Funk. It's classic and highly playable. The problem here is the game's stereotype-infused presentation and its apparent misunderstanding when it comes to funk vs. ghetto-fabulous. I consider myself to be very open to low-brow comedy and controversial humor but the things I have witnessed in this game are just plain horrible. There is nothing funny about them because the overall delivery is just so very desperate. The game tries to throw one at you at every chance it gets and on every single facet of the presentation. What's really funny is the fact that the portrayals of both the title characters remain pretty much the same as how they looked like originally. The very "urban" style they carry were initially harmless until the voice acting and body movements are significantly added into this release. For a game that is supposed to be about spreading the spirit of funk, it is anti-funk in itself. Nasty!

LIBRARY STATUS: 2 out of 5

New Game Alert!

I wasn't going to pay for this game so it's great that Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic is currently being offered for free in the U.S. thanks to Sprint's sponsorship. The game is normally priced at $9.99 and this may be a limited time offer, so if you are in the region and you own a PlayStation 3, you just can't pass up on this opportunity. It's a shame that Raggy doesn't have online multi-player because it desperately needs it.


Cheesy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Games Played 05/09/2009

Arkanoid Live! Demo - X-Box 360*
Dynasty Warriors 6 - X-Box 360
Kingdom Hearts - PlayStation 2
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution - X-Box 360
Space Invaders Extreme Demo - X-Box 360**


*I like Arkanoid so I will be buying this one eventually.


**Looks great on the big screen but I have the Nintendo DS version already.


RANDOM GAME OF THE DAY:


Golden Axe: The Duel (1995)
Developer: Sega
Platform: SegaSaturn
Purchase Date: 1995


Who would have known that Gillius could kick that high?
That's a nice pair of long legs you got there Mr. Dwarf.

Here it is, my first Saturn game. Just like how things were back in the 16-bit era, I could only afford to buy one console and during the 32-bit era, I had to decide between the Saturn and the PlayStation. I was an undergraduate student back then so I didn't have much cash to spare. So I went with the brand that I was familiar with. As soon as I had enough money to get the PlayStation, I did! I was one of the many who had never picked up the Sega CD, so I was very excited about the disc-based technology... Until I discovered the horrendous loading time associated with it. Golden Axe: The Duel is a competent 2D fighting game but those long loading time between the matches are very frustrating to deal with. The graphics are colorful and I like the detailed animations of the characters. There are 10 fighters in all to choose from, many of them are new to the Golden Axe universe but the dwarf-barbarian-amazon-Death Adder combo is intact. 10 may not sound like a lot but it was the standard back then and I never find that to be a detriment to the game. The Duel utilizes all the 6 buttons on the Saturn's controller with the typical weak, medium, and strong punch/kick variations. To perform super moves in the game, you have to collect magic vials from those small impish carriers found in the original game. They show up sporadically during the matches and would drop food on occassions that can be used to replenish your health bar. Sometimes, you would be too busy fighting your opponents to get to them but this element ties the game to its origin. The game is a good re-imagination of the franchise but we all know that hack and slash is only the way to go for Golden Axe.

LIBRARY STATUS: 3 out of 5