Sunday, February 28, 2010

Send Them to Arkham!

The Batman: Arkham Asylum sale that I discussed about yesterday was truly a great deal but I just noticed something... Why did Microsoft lie about the game's original price?

Is it truly 75% off?

The regular price of the game is $49.95 but the description above specified that the new price was reduced from $59.99. All that hard work between managing sales for the X-Box 360 and the Personal Computer has caused some sort of altered reality for the marketing people over at Microsoft where they couldn't tell anymore if they were talking about the regular console pricing or the PC pricing standard. Apparently, the higher than usual original price above is just a misprint because 75% of $49.99 is $12.49, so Microsoft may not have to worry about sending the entire marketing team to an insane asylum just yet.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Game Alert!

Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of the three games that I rented from GameFly last year. I played through the PlayStation 3 version and ever since then, I have always wanted to get the Personal Computer release because I wanted to have a copy of the game in my Game Library and it is the prettiest version of the game. When I saw the special weekend deal for this game from Games On Demand on the Games for Windows Live client, I snatched it up immediately:

My first Games on Demand purchase!
Five weeks worth of special offers? I may be getting more soon!

$12.49 is a steal for this impressive title. When I completed the game on the PS3, I didn't get the chance to solve all of the Riddler's puzzles and the fact that it was a rental - I was rushing a bit while playing the game - didn't help that situation either. Now, I can enjoy the decrepit asylum at a more leisurely pace. The download is 7.53GB! Ouch. Thankfully, the download server is streaming the game into my computer very quickly! If you have never played this game before and you have a competent gaming PC, get this game quickly before the offer expires. I surely hope that Dirt 2 is going to be next on the discount list!

Dawn of War II's Sweet Surprise

My carefree method of playing video game makes it hard sometimes for me to keep up with important updates to these video games that I own. I jumped on Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II today for the first time in months and was surprised by the new The Last Stand mode that was added in October of last year.

I am always up for a good co-op session.

This survival mode allows up to three players to battle cooperatively to survive waves of enemy hordes and it is a blast to play. The sad thing about it is that there are only three hero units that can be selected and there is only one map to play it on. You can build up your character's level with each play and unlock more powerful items the higher you go. I wish that Relic Entertainment would expand this play mode a little more with more characters and levels. I really think they have found themselves a gold mine here: There are so many things they can do to further exploit this part of the DOWII experience. The Last Stand an interesting evolution of the hero-focused gameplay introduced in the main game in itself because in this mode, you are only controlling a single unit, making it even less of a strategy game and even more of an action role playing game hybrid. Love it!

The more you play, the more powerful your character becomes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Glory and Shame of Kratos

With the release of the PlayStation 3's God of War III just merely less than a month away, it's good to see that Sony has made the game's demo available on the PSN Store. The 2+ Gig demo only contains roughly about 10 - 15 minutes of gameplay but as a fan of the series, it was enough to make the wait for the game even more unbearable than before.

Sorry, but that background looks so PS2...

The demo is based on what was released for the E3 event last year and I surely hope that the graphics that I am seeing are going to be much improved: some of the 2D backdrops look flat and though the in-game models look detailed, the game doesn't seem to be that huge of a jump from the previous games in the series when it comes to the graphical impact it has on the senses - definitely a compliment to just beautiful the prequels are. The worse visual offense here is that the game runs at 720p. This is quite embarrassing. This curse seems to be prevalent in all of Sony's big releases with Heavy Rain being the latest in the PS3's unfulfilled true HD promise. The GoWIII demo is still great fun nonetheless: the battle system is as responsive as ever and the over-embellished gore makes the special kills more enthralling than before. March 16th is going to be a day of celebration for PS3 owners - especially if the graphical disappointments are addressed by then.

The most brutal decapitation in a video game ever!


Heavy Raining on My Parade

I have only played Heavy Rain for 3 hours and the game has crashed on me twice: the screen would freeze but the music would still be playing the background. I wasn't able to quit the game when the crashes occurred and I had to turn the console off and on to get back to the game. Looking into the issue on the web, I was able to find other PlayStation 3 owners who are suffering the same problem. It looks like I am in the minority here so who knows when this problem is going to be patched. For those who are thinking about picking up the game, you may want to consider the current situation before making an investment on the game at this moment.

Update Note: 03/01/2010 - I have played approximately 3 - 4 hours more of the game and there is no more crashing but there are some odd audio glitches, especially at the start of every other scene.

What's worse than the crashes themselves?
Having to repeat your actions from the previous save file.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Game Alert!

I received my copy of Heavy Rain today. I really did enjoy the game's demo and after playing Mass Effect 2, I am looking forward to another cinematic, plot-driven game. I really don't like the game's cover art. It doesn't bring anything exciting to the title and there doesn't seem to be much thought behind its composition. We all know by now that the game is about four different characters and they are all involved in the "Origami Killer" investigation but that doesn't mean that they have to slap random images of those characters on the game's cover. It think it would have been more successful if they would just enlarge that origami figure, add some details on it and just leave that haunting image at the center of the cover art. Your smallest decisions can change everything, it says on the back of the box. Well, Quantic Dream shouldn't blame anyone else but themselves for setting the expectations high. I just hope that they succeed.

I'm wet for some Heavy Rain. I don't want to catch a cold though.

Shoot 1UP Weirdness

Expand... and shoot!

There are a lot of disgustingly below average independent games being sold on the X-Box 360's Live Marketplace. The only one that I have ever purchased was Weapon of Choice from Mommy's Best Games, a Contra clone that was actually a lot of fun to play. Today, the developer has just released Shoot 1UP, a sexually flavored shooter that involves you "contracting" and "expanding" your ship formation as you destroy hordes of spaceships and alien creatures before battling some interesting-looking bosses, with one looking like a diseased pair of ovaries. For an independent release, there are actually some great ideas being thrown into this game: like the ability to control an additional ship with each 1UP you collected and the mix of both horizontal and vertical play orientation. I was able to get through 2 stages in the game before my demo time expired and I am definitely going to purchase this game soon! Besides, it's only 80 Microsoft Points. Support these guys for their love of the genre as well as for their humor and creativity - get the game! These guys definitely have a bright future ahead of them.

Dead killer whales in the background. Freaking hilarious.


Games for Windows Live DRM Confusion

I was doing some shopping on Amazon this morning and was thinking about ordering BioShock 2 for the Personal Computer. I was very surprised to see that the game was rated very poorly by the community there because of its supposedly invasive Digital Rights Management scheme. The funny thing about this is that it is apparent that the people who were hounding the game's DRM methods were not very educated about what's really going on with the game. BioShock 2 does use SecuRom - well, just saying that will enrage a lot of PC gamers - but it's only used for a disc-check if you choose to buy the retail version of the game. This can be avoided by buying it straight from the Games on Demand service or other direct download companies. A majority of the complaints however seem to revolve around the Games for Windows Live implementation and that it's a major hassle to sign up and that there's no logic behind online activation of the game.

Yes, Rhino dear. It's called read the instruction manual.
How long have you been playing PC games? Never heard of post-launch patches?

What people failed to realize is that GFWL is hardly invasive and it is not mandatory to sign up for the "Customer Experience" program that sends periodic data report to Microsoft. Games that use this platform has no "real" activation limits: you can pretty much download the game you purchased - as long as you have the activation key with you - on any computer but you can only go online from one location because you have to sign on to the Live network. I believe there is a limit on how many different PCs you can install the game on per month but realistically speaking, why would you activate a game 100 times a month? Game developers need to make their money too and if one person could have their games shared and duplicated on an entire town's machines, then say goodbye to any hope of future PC game developments. Also, if the player hates the Live network so much (I don't know why since it's free for PC owners), that very player can always just play the game with an offline profile. If people really want to go after bad DRM implementations, they should really spend their energy on Ubisoft's treatment of the upcoming Assassin's Creed II for the PC. For that game, you have to stay connected to the Ubisoft server every single moment you play the game! It sounds like a joke but it's true. If you lose your internet connection even for a brief moment, you will have to start off from your last save! I have a feeling that Ubisoft is going to snap under pressure but maybe they are just doing it for the shock value to teach many of these fools the real meaning of a restrictive DRM.

No, I won't add you to the anti-DRM list. I will, however, add you to the idiot list.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Galuda Shipping Tomorrow!

I have received a confirmation tonight that my order of ESPGaluda II Black Label for the X-Box 360 will be shipped out to me tomorrow! At first, I was expecting a longer delay of getting the game because I missed the first shipment allotment mark for my import specialist store. Apparently, the store is able to secure a larger amount of copies than they originally anticipated. Here's the bad thing though: I selected UPS Ground for the shipping like I did with Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 and I am not exactly close to where the shipment will be originating from. I am not made of money you know... The game is expensive enough at $74.90. This means that the wait is still going to be long and I hate waiting. I better find a game that can really suck me in to make me forget about ESPGII entirely... Well, there's always Dragon Age: Origins that I still haven't completed yet but maybe I should make a male Commander Shepard and play him across the two Mass Effect games? Something is telling me that I am going to have a rough week ahead of me!

You don't need to have ESP to know that this game is going to be incredible!

Back to Life, Back to Real XP

After much thought, I decided to reinstall Windows XP 32-Bit over my Personal Computer's current XP 64 configuration. I have recently encountered a number of frustrating things about the operating system, namely some instabilities and incompatibilities with some of my newly installed programs - this includes one important beta that I cannot divulge at the moment! The new Windows Explorer 8 doesn't play well with this operating system either where I have to constantly CTL+ALT+DELETE frozen browsers every other minute. And yes I have tried Chrome and FireFox - they suck! Also, let's not forget the whole entire debacle with Games for Windows Live but that's merely a minor annoyance compared to the other recent irritations with the OS. Gaming-wise, I don't have a lot of bad things to say about XP 64. The fact that I have used XP 64 for a year and a half should be enough evidence that the system is not bad for gaming. The PC gaming community pretty much shun the XP 64 but I doubt that many of them have actually gamed using the much-hated OS. Throughout the entire time that I was on XP 64, there were only 3 games that became problematic because of XP 64: Demigod (constant freezing until recently), King's Bounty: The Legend (fatal crashes that rendered it unplayable), and Indigo Prophecy (cannot even be installed). The OS is not perfect obviously but the overwhelmingly negative opinion about gaming on the XP 64 is definitely unwarranted.

Must use Mass Effect 2 screenshot to replace wallpaper...

It may seem silly to "downgrade" when I should really be upgrading to Windows 7 but I am not ready to make that jump yet. I have heard so many good things about Windows 7 but I have also heard some horror stories when it comes to gaming on the new OS. I am going to give it some more time before I make that next jump. One of the main reason why I installed XP 64 in the first place was because I wanted to fully utilize my PC's 4 gig of RAM. With XP 32 supporting Physical Address Extension (this enables utilization of all of my juicy RAM) and me not getting anywhere close to doubling my current RAM size that I originally planned to do, it's definitely a winning situation. The installation was a breeze and I didn't lose any of my game saves. A bit time consuming, yes, but relatively painless. I am certainly feeling very happy with the results of the change as I am typing this because I certainly don't miss the Explorer crashing on me while I am working on writing an article!

PSP Go's Strange Sale

Sony has unveiled a new marketing strategy to sell the dead-on-arrival PSP Go system that takes effect from 02/18/2010 up until 03/21/2010:

Retailers, make sure you're well-stocked.
This will surely generate a violent rush to get the system, no?

I really doubt that this is going to help the system at all. Why not bundle the darn thing with the portable LittleBigPlanet? The Assassin Creed craze is now a thing of the past so why use that license to attract people's attention? I can understand doing this when Assassin Creed II first hit the stores but not right now because it just seems rather desperate. Since there are hardly anything exciting coming to the PSP anytime soon, the potential costumers that they should attract are those who already own a PSP but the only way they can do that is to allow the PSP Go to download UMD games via some sort of external extensions. I mean, I'd like this sleek sexy system but no UMD-install = no go for me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Culdcept Saga: The Achievement Curse

I love the X-Box 360's Culdcept Saga. I may not have played it in a long time but that doesn't mean that I don't miss the game. I have been constantly looking out for fun people to play the game with, a task that becomes more and more difficult to accomplish as time goes on. I recently found someone who wanted to play the game via a pure stroke of luck while participating in a party chat. I was like, "Heck yeah! Let's do this!" and then not long after, the guy said this:

"Oh wow... Look at your achievements (referring to my Culdcept Saga achievement score). Are you sure you want to battle me? It's not going to be a challenge."

What's this? I didn't know that you're supposed to check people's achievement scores before playing with them - and I didn't look at his. This prompted me to check out his achievement score and it was apparent that he hasn't played the game much. I explained to the guy that I wasn't looking for a "challenge" per se, that I just enjoy playing the game and offered to play with random cards. Then, nothing but silence. I was no longer in the party chat at that moment to prepare the game but getting the message, I didn't go back into the party chat and played something else instead. The funny thing is that I never considered myself a master Cepter. Though I am very fluent in the inner mechanics of the game, my best book has been beaten by someone who just started playing the game! The fact that Culdcept Saga has a huge luck factor in every battle - when fighting against human opponents anyway - makes each battle uniquely challenging to begin with. I am a bit bitter about losing out on an opportunity to play Culdcept Saga again. I guess it's better for me to learn that the guy was a jerk early on in our the acquaintanceship - not even a "No thanks, maybe next time." To avoid further accidents with the achievement score situation, I have decided to block the view of my gamertag's game history. I always knew that achievements are annoying additions to gamedom but this is just ridiculous.

Sorry, false alarm. Please go back into hibernation.

Heroes of Newerth: Now with Full Cast

I have to admit that while I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I have spent playing the Heroes of Newerth beta for the Personal Computer - with one such occasion being an all-nighter - there's a bit of dread that actually comes with participating in the online matches. This game is not friendly to those who are learning the game because its community is mostly filled by those who have played Defense of the Ancients before and they are pretty fanatical about winning in that religious holy war level. It's hard to find enjoyment in the game when your teammates constantly barrage you with insults via text or voice throughout the game when they should be encouraging you to get better at it. The bad thing here is since communication is key, you are pretty much stuck with the ridiculous amount of abuse throughout the game. What makes this worse is that whenever a game room is entitled "Noob Only", 90% of the time this means that the host - usually with a bunch of friends - is a noob to HoN but not a noob to DotA which technically means that the host - and those friends, mind you - is not a noob. This is the reason why I haven't been on the game as addicting and fun as the game is. Thankfully, the game does have a local play option which I assume would allow you to face yourself against bots to really practice the ins and outs of the game without losing your sanity but this is yet to be enabled in the beta since the focus is really about the online stability and the balance, or lack thereof, of the game's many characters.

You can play this game for a lifetime!

I haven't played the game in a while so I thought it was long overdue, especially after the recent return to its distant cousin, Demigod. I am surprised to see that all the character boxes are now filled up so the game contains a whopping total of 60 characters - variety is an area where Demigod is severely lacking. I do prefer the gameplay of Demigod better because it features a more complex level up system but you can't beat the amount of gameplay you get from the amount of characters in HoN. Another cool new feature I discovered is the ability to watch replays of the game's matches - this is another game that's fun to watch as it is fun to play, especially with the robust replay controls. HoN is the type of game that I wish I could play with close friends. I have a competitive spirit but camaraderie and respect are just built-in to my system. I like winning but I don't mind losing and it frustrates me to play with those who lack that kind of mentality - especially when a game is just filled with those kind of people.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Lich King's Wrath

In September of last year, I picked up World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion and subscribed to 6 months of play time after leaving the game behind for quite some time. The reasoning behind my return was my excitement about the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. I probably have only used half of the game time that I subscribed too, maybe even less. I lost momentum after merely a month of playing and now, the subscription expiration is due in a matter of weeks. When I started playing the game again, I set some goals for myself. Let's see if I was able to fulfill any of them:

1) Get my level 70 Priest and my level 63 Druid to level 80.
Result: My Priest is now level 77 and my Druid is at level 70.

2) Create an Alliance Warlock and level him/her up to 80 - not sure if I could stomach the whole Alliance vibe though. My first ever WoW character was a human Warlock but when I joined my friends on another server, I deleted him... Silly me. Result: I have a Human Paladin who is below level 10 and yes, I still can't stomach the Ally vibe!

3) Spend more time having fun and less time worrying about jerks. Result: Success!

I suppose one out of three is not so bad. There are so many good changes to the game but I think the problem that I have with the game now is commitment, pure and simple. The game isn't too demanding anymore with Blizzy nerfing high level dungeon runs left and right though getting the next set of epics is always a bit of a chore and the latest sets don't even look that great. I am going to spend more time playing this game before my subscription expires prior to making a final determination on whether or not to keep everything going or to leave the world of Azeroth behind again.

This Shadow Priest has lost his way...
Will he return to the path? Or will he leave everything behind forever?

Games Played 02/15/2010 - 02/21/2010

- 02/15/2010 -
Battlestations: Pacific - PC
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
PixelJunk Shooter - PlayStation 3
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC
Sonic Unleashed - X-Box 360

- 02/16/2010 -
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC

- 02/17/2010 -
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
WipEout HD - PlayStation 3

- 02/18/2010 -
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology - PlayStation 2
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Demo - PlayStation 3
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Wii
The Void - PC
Yakuza 3 Demo - PlayStation 3*

*I remember getting excited seeing the screenshots for this game.
The graphics during
actual gameplay looks like a high-end PlayStation 2 game!
Still it's pretty fun. But that Karaoke mini-game could have been better...

- 02/19/2010 -
Critter Crunch - PlayStation 3
PixelJunk Shooter - PlayStation 3
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Wii

- 02/20/2010 -
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360

- 02/21/2010 -
Demigod - PC
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC
Trine - PC
World of Warcraft - PC

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Holy Cow! Like Greased Lightning!

After a patch from the Stardock's Impulse client that I downloaded earlier this morning, I am finally able to play as Oculus - the second new character introduced to Demigod for the Personal Computer. Earlier this year when Demon Assassin became playable, Oculus was only controllable by the A.I. This blind minotaur sits on a floating throne and floats about lazily across the battleground but it is so far the most intriguing Demigod available in the game because of his cool support abilities: being able to provide mana to allies as well as passively buffing them both defensively and offensively. He is even pretty effective as an offensive character himself with his seeker lightning orbs and creeps-decimating chain lightning. It is fun to play as Oculus and he is definitely one of my favorites. So now the game has a total number of 10 characters! I surely hope that there will be more in the works, even if that means that I have to pay to unlock the future additional characters.

Be very afraid of the floating cow!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh, How I Hate Trilogies

After abandoning Mass Effect 2 for nearly a week, I went back to play the game today up to its completion. I must say that the overall experience is amazing and I will be writing a review on the game shortly. I am a bit infuriated over the fact that it's going to take several years before the arrival of the next and final installment in the series.

A job well done, Commander!

I hate waiting... The main reason behind this is that I understand how fragile life is. We take into granted how precious time really is. Everyday, we live our lives as if life is going to last forever. It's only natural I suppose - if we worry about these things every single instant, it would only be unproductive. When I think about waiting, my mind would normally wander into a dark place. Instead of dwelling in there for too long, let me just say that I hope that I can see the conclusion to my Commander Ingrid Shepard's epic intergalactic adventure. Gosh, I remember feeling this way about Shion and KOS-MOS during the first two games in the Xenosaga series. But please, all of you game developers out there, no more gaming trilogies - ever!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cave Statement: Ominous and a Bit Clammy

After the utter joy that fans outside of Japan must have felt about the ability to play the regular edition of ESPGaluda II on their domestic consoles, Cave has issued the following statement on their blogsite:

2010年2月18日 (木)

Thank you

Thank you for the warm messages from all over the world.
Espgaluda II Black Label Normal Edition is region free.
But I'm afraid new games after Espgaluda II Black Label won't be region free.
I assure you that Espgaluda II Black Label Normal Edition will be the last region free game for the time being.


Makoto Asada

Wow. What happened? My heart is broken. But perhaps this is a good sign? That maybe a publisher here is interested in localizing their future games? If you think about it for a moment, it will not make sense for them to release region-free games if those same games are going to be released officially for the North American or European market because then who is going to buy those games a year after the region-free release? Then again, does it make sense to region-code games anymore? Sony has abandoned that ancient practice with the PlayStation 3 and almost all North American X-Box 360 releases are not region-locked. This world is filled with draconian sensibilities wherever you turn and that applies to the gaming industry as well. I guess everything was just too good to be true after all. Well, I did suggest that maybe Cave should invest on an outside publisher for simultaneous worldwide releases of their future games in my recent thank you letter. I'm just hoping that some good will come out of this rather cryptic and disappointing announcement from Cave.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Version Decision

You think you can fool me Sega? Think again.

The PlayStation 3 demo of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is available for download today and all I can say is that Sega is very, very smart. The PS3 demo has a different racing track than the one presented on the X-Box 360: you get a Billy Hatcher-themed track here instead of the Sonic-themed one on the 360. Sega is trying to trick us - it is obvious that the PS3 version doesn't look as sharp as the 360 version and for them to present the same track layout would have been disasterous. The frame rate is lower in the PS3 demo as well but of course there is no way I can say that the 360 version would perform better on the same racing track. Though it is hardly as bad as the Bayonetta port disaster, the 360 version wins the vote here for me because of its more vibrant visuals and crystal clear clarity. And oh, did I mention that the 360 version gets a special appearance from Banjo-Kazooie? For those who have the option to choose between the two: Don't be silly - games first before consoles.


Review: Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5

Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 (2009)
Developer: Cave Co., Ltd.
Platform: X-Box 360
Induction Date: 12/07/2009

Palm likes his gems and his explosions.

The 2D horizontal and vertical shoot-'em-up is a dying genre so when a game that falls into that category shows up, a rarity these days, we should at least pay some attention. The "2D" being discussed here is of course referring to the plane of gameplay and not necessary a reference to the utilized graphical technology in the game. This genre represents the best of gaming in a classical sense. Those who have been gaming for a long while should still remember that there used to be a time when video games mostly reward those with skill and precision, when playing games is about escalating repetition and learning, when video games can be completed in one sitting, and when an offline game can be played over and over and over again for months on end. All of these things are true about MushiFutari but this game is not only about revisiting past glories with forgotten old gaming philosophies because it's also about the renewal of such things into this modern gaming world.

Enemy bullets are bright purple, very distinguishable from the backdrops!

MushiFutari is what most people would call a "bullet-hell" shooter, a term that derives from the fact that at any given moment, the screen filled with an overwhelming amount of enemy shots. You play as Reko, who rides a giant beetle named Kiniro, or Palm, who rides a dragon-like insectoid named Hirow. From what I understand from the game's rather convoluted storyline about a fantasy forest kingdom of insects and such, Palm is tasked with luring Reko towards his mother Larsa for she wants to exact revenge upon Reko for the death of her other son from the first game. It's better than nothing but it's no Ikaruga. There are five stages in all with each stage containing a mid-boss and an end-boss. The fantastical enemy design are based on insect life so don't expect anything remotely resembling a modern ship in the game. There are 2 default game revisions that come with the game: Ver 1.5 and Arrange. Those who buy the first print run of the game are given the ability to unlock Ver 1.01 of the game and soon after the game's release, everyone has the option to download the Black Label edition from the Live Marketplace. So what's so special about these different options? The versions themselves differ from each other in terms of the enemy patterns and some gameplay rules. The "Black Label" version represents the best revisions of the bunch with scarier but much more fair bullet patterns and better balance firepower for your "ships". After you have selected which version to play, you are then presented with three types of gameplay modes: "Normal", "Maniac", and "Ultra/God" - each varies in difficulty and scoring techniques with "Ultra/God" mode being the most difficult of them all.

The versions are quite different from each other where you have to re-accustom
yourself to the version that you're playing to ensure success and survival.

I sure hope that you are still with me after those version/mode explanation. In terms of the gameplay, you are given two types of shots: one with repeated presses of a button and the other with you hold the button down. The game is not only about surviving the vicious attacks from your enemies, it is also about scoring it big while doing so. Depending on the mode of play, this may involve switching between the two types of attacks during certain score multiplier counts or building up the multipliers before claiming the rewards during the most opportune moments - which usually involve the bosses' overwhelming final attacks. It's all very satisfying and ridiculously addicting. What makes this better is that you can compete your score against other players from around the globe by playing the game with only one credit via "Score Attack". If you play the game well, you may also be given the option to upload your replay for others to see! It is fun watching the replays from other players too, especially the fact that the game sounds incredible and it is quite a looker. You can choose between playing this game in its original arcade resolution - which results in ugly pixelations on a high definition display - or play it with its crystal clear, bumped-up resolution. You can still choose to rotate your display so that the game can fill the entire screen with TATE mode but if you are playing on a HDTV, you won't miss a single pixel of the actual gameplay even if you leave the display in its default horizontal position. You can change the wallpaper being displayed on both sides of the gameplay area as well alongside other wacky display options available in the game.

Here's me messing around with "God Mode".
An example of just how delicious this game can become.

The combination of intense "bullet-heaven" where sometimes you have to squeeze in very, very tightly in between enemy shots - the hit box is small - and the fun scoring system really makes MushiFutari a must have for anyone looking for a very difficult but richly rewarding game. The only flaws to be found in this game are that it doesn't offer online co-op and that it is a necessity to buy "Black Label" to play the best version of the game when it should have been readily included on the game disc. After the "Black Label" download, the game then becomes prone to random freezing that lasts a second or two that could easily help or destroy your chances of maneuvering around enemy bullets. Other than those concerns, it's a refreshing product for the X-Box 360. Cave released this game as a region-free title and the good news here is that apparently, they were able to see the positive impact that the decision had on the sale of this game because they are now releasing the regular edition of the upcoming ESPGaluda II Black Label as a region-free game as well. It's never too late to become a lover of this genre. Let's hope the continuing friendship between the console and Cave is going to be a long-lasting and fruitful one.

RATING: 4 out of 5

The ZZZ in Super Street Fighter IV

So more characters have been recently unveiled to star in the upcoming Super Street Fighter IV for the PlayStation 3 and the X-Box 360 (no announcement on the Personal Computer version yet) but am I the only person who finds the whole occasion uneventful? From the 9 additional cast members that will join those found in the original game, only one of them is a totally new fighter - a boring one at that - and supposedly there will be another original fighter that will be revealed soon. It is nice to see favorites from Street Fighter III like Ibuki and Makoto being added in but if you really think about it... you have already played them before! And for those who haven't - a total shame because SFIII is far superior to SFIV - don't you feel cheated that Capcom is taking an easy way out in creating new fighters? Capcom didn't even bother giving them a new brand new look but I guess that's consistent with the lame visual treatment that was given to the old characters that are already in the game before.

The jury is in: Juri is a lame character. Still, I rather have
10 brand-spanking new characters like her than any of the oldies.

I really don't understand it. When SFIII first came out, it was incredibly exciting because the game was filled with brand new characters. The magic of discovering techniques and attack patterns of those characters was amazing, replicating that feel of playing Street Fighter II for the first time. With SFIV and SSFIV, there is no surprise anymore and SFIV is pretty much a Street Fighter II Redux. Granted, SFIV is fun and ever since I revisited it on the PC, I began to like it a little bit more but it is hardly the best Street Fighter. If Capcom is going to continue down this path of laziness, expect them to release Super Street Fighter IV Turbo or Hyper Street Fighter IV sometime next year. I mean, they still have quite a number of characters from the Street Fighter universe that they can add into the game like Eagle, Birdie, Sodom, Rolento... Should I go on? The funny part about this whole thing is that though most people are excited about the additional characters who are coming the SSFIV, it's not like they are going to play anyone else besides Ken anyway. It's going to be a very long wait for Street Fighter V by the look of things.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random Game of the Day

Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1999)
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Induction Date: 10/28/1999

Jubilee's fireworks show.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes may be the most accomplished game in Capcom's cross-over Versus series but that doesn't mean that it replaces every single entry that came before it. I still consider the first, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, to be the best in the entire series and this first Marvel vs. Capcom is still a lot of fun to play today. Yes, it is pretty much the same game as its successor, only with a lot less characters but Clash of Super Heroes is still quite unique and contains a couple of clever fighting rules: 1) Though you get to play with two interchangeable characters, you also get assigned one of the 20 assist characters randomly at the start of each round and these characters can only be used a limited number of times. 2) You can summon both your main characters into the screen at once and you then control both of them for a limited number of time to totally decimate your opponent because of the unlimited number of super moves you can execute during that time frame. What I also like about this game is that it uses 3 punch buttons and 3 kick buttons, making those long combos a lot more difficult to accomplish. The one thing that I don't like about this game is that the assist characters cannot be played as main combatants and this is frustrating because a lot of these characters are just so kick-butt: I so want to play as Devilotte and Arthur from Capcom's side as well as Jubilee and Thor from Marvel's side. At least it's promising to see that Saki, who is just an assist character here, made it to Tasunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.

LIBRARY STATUS: 4 out of 5

ESPGaluda II: Region Freakin' Free!

Thank you Cave! Thank you for listening to the fans and thank you for not making me feel like an idiot sending that sappy thank you email to you for making Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 playable for every X-Box 360 owners around the world. The word is out: ESPGaluda II Black Label that is being released for the X-Box 360 on the 25th of this month in Japan is going to be region-free! Oh yeah! I guess it's time for me to write another sappy thank you email! There is a catch though - only the Regular Edition is going to be region-free while the Limited Edition is still going to be region-locked because of time constraints in making them. No big loss on the Limited Edition though because the only extra thing you get from it is a custom faceplate for your console. The first print-run of the Regular Edition will come with a 2-disc soundtrack! It's news like this that makes me so happy to be a shoot-'em-up fan!

Screw all the other big releases coming out late this month! Pre-order this game now!

Heroes of Newerth Beta Keys! Again!

Have you been dreaming about loggging into the game screen below?

If you have, well it looks like you may be able to do so in reality providing that you are fast enough to get to this site. I am giving away 3 more beta keys for Heroes of Newerth for the Personal Computer. Gosh, this game has been in beta for too long. The rule is simple: first come, first served. You must write a comment on this article that must include your email address and then follow up with an actual email message to requesting the beta key. I will update this article as the keys are being snatched away. Good luck!

Update Note: 10:36am - First key taken. 2 left!
Update Note: 3:39pm - The second key is gone. One more to go! Max is missing the second step of the process.
Update Note: 4:01pm - I'm out of beta keys!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scary Game Cover: Cho-Aniki PS2

Okay, we have all seen terrible cover arts for video game cases. They are pretty common and can happen to both big triple-A games as well as low-budget independent games. But to see a truly horrific one that can actually hurt you really deep inside and threaten to take away your sanity is rare. Whenever I find one, I will write about it on this site so that I would not be the only person who had to suffer from the madness of a Scary Game Cover!

Cho-Aniki: Seinaru Protein Densetsu
Developer: X-nauts/Psikyo
Induction Date: 05/25/2004

Remember the hilarious penis controversy with Disney's The Little Mermaid poster? Well, this is the video game equivalent of that because both of them definitely have an unmistakable male genitalia being shown in broad daylight on the artwork of the poster/game cover. The Cho-Aniki series is infamous for its disturbing portrayal of male nudity and its obsession with muscular physiques that would easily send those who are homophobic into their tool sheds, grabbing anything they can to destroy what they are presented to see. It is however an interesting, albeit strange, shooter (no pun intended) and being a shoot-'em-up addict that I am, of course I would have it in my Game Library. The game is filled with uncompromising visions of sexuality but this cover is the ultimate visual assault with an epic level of nastiness that just cannot be accomplished by anything that has ever been shown in the entire series. A quick look at the game cover only reveals two goofy-looking muscle heads smiling at their audience. If you look closer however, you will see a close-up of the faces of same two guys sharing a strange looking straw in the background. If you are wondering where the punchline is, it is right underneath the game's title. Clue: Eruption... WARNING: Do not click and enlarge the cover image above if you do not want to see it. Scary indeed and definitely the dirtiest game cover ever.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Game Alert!

Because of some unfortunate set of circumstances, my significant other and I were not able to really spend much time celebrating Valentine's Day yesterday but we were able to spend some quality time together later on in the evening. But of course there is nothing more romantic than spending some time with the person you love browsing the contents of the PlayStation Store which is exactly what happened to me last night but it was at my partner's behest nonetheless. I was able to get several game add-ons from this as well as one full title: PixelJunk Shooter for the PlayStation 3. I was able to play a little bit of the game last night: It is a cute little shooter where you travel down into the bowels of a planet rescuing trapped explorers while manipulating the flow of water and lava to ensure a safe passage for your ship. It's really fun and of course I didn't really have the time to get this particular purchase updated to the site last night.

So that's two games purchased this Valentine's Day.
Maybe I should consider turning this into a yearly tradition...

Custom Soundtracks: They Kind of Work

I suppose the main theme for me this year is trying out things that I would never have done in the past: Since its conception on the X-Box 360, I always thought that the idea behind "Custom Soundtracks" - that is, the ability to play audio from the hard drive to replace the default in-game music - was stupid. I always want to respect the aural visions of a developer. The music in a game is an integral part of the experience that should remain attached to the game even if they do not succeed in bringing anything remarkable to the whole thing. Though I still feel strongly about this, I can see now how this feature can be useful.

A great song + a great game = a strange blend of awesomeness.

The music in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is not bad: it's just that it's very lazy and very bland. I can remember actually dozing off while playing the game on the Dreamcast some years ago and since I was feeling a bit tired earlier this evening when I started up the game, I really didn't want that to happen again. So I transferred a number of songs from my Personal Computer to the PlayStation 3 and played the game with the custom soundtrack. It actually enhances the game because the custom soundtrack doesn't take away any of the in-game special effects and voices, just the background music: something that I didn't care much to find out about before. I will definitely use this feature a bit more now but I do tell myself to only utilize it after I am so used to hearing the music in a game - that is, I will not immediately switch to the custom soundtracks as soon as I notice bad in-game music. Now if I could get a hold of the music from the Culdcept series... So what's next? Bungee jumping?

Games Played 02/08/2010 - 02/14/2010

- 02/08/2010 -
Astro Tripper - PlayStation 3
Bloody Roar 4 - PlayStation 2
Guild Wars - PC
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
Rogue Galaxy - PlayStation 2
World of Warcraft - PC

- 02/09/2010 -
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - Dreamcast/PlayStation 3
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC

- 02/10/2010 -
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC

- 02/11/2010 -
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Red Faction 2 - PC
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360
SingStar - PlayStation 3

- 02/12/2010 -
Condemned: Criminal Origins - X-Box 360
Dirt - X-Box 360
Heavy Rain Demo - PlayStation 3
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - PlayStation 3
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Demo - X-Box 360

- 02/13/2010 -
Afrika - PlayStation 3
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey - PC
Mass Effect 2 - PC
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 - X-Box 360
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC
Tekken 6 - PlayStation 3
Tinker - PC

- 02/14/2010 -
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PC
PixelJunk Shooter - PlayStation 3
WipEout HD - PlayStation 3
Zen Pinball - PlayStation 3

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Game Alert: Be My Valentine Edition!

Oh no, I think writing that little feature about games being bought on Valentine's Day had cursed me somewhat... or should I just lay all of the blame on Direct2Drive's "Bloody Valentine" one-day sale? I downloaded Ice-Pick Lodge's The Void, a spooky first person horror adventure game where you play a soul that's trapped in the aforementioned void right before absolute death. It's definitely my kind of game because I am always intrigued by different interpretations of life and death beyond the restrictive definitions brought upon by the more popular human-made conclusions: religions. To think that I almost bought this game for $19.95 last week - what a great discount!

My baby's out of town so I guess you'll certainly be my bloody Valentine.

Valentine's Day: Not Just Roses and Candies!

I am a romantic person - in that awkward kind of way I think - and I like celebrating Valentine's Day with buying the usual silly gifts and having dinner with my significant other. There were times when I would actually go out shopping on Valentine's Day while also getting a little bit of something for myself on the side. I was a little afraid to do this research this morning because I thought maybe it is something that I do every year. Thankfully, that is not the case because even I would rate myself pretty poorly if I think of nothing else but video games on Valentine's Day because that is just... a little sad! Below are the games that I have purchased on Valentine's Day. Since I was missing some of the exact induction dates on a small fraction of my games - there were a number of occassions when I registered everything digitally on my computer before losing the data due multiple hard drive crashes - there is always that possibility that there are more of these that are unaccounted for!

- 02/14/2001 -

- 02/14/2002 -

- 02/14/2004 -
4 games on Valentine's Day? Wow.
Can't remember if I was very happy or very depressed that day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scary Game Cover: Fantasy Aquarium World

Okay, we have all seen terrible cover arts for video game cases. They are pretty common and can happen to both big triple-A games as well as low-budget independent games. But to see a truly horrific one that can actually hurt you really deep inside and threaten to take away your sanity is rare. Whenever I find one, I will write about it on this site so that I would not be the only person who had to suffer from the madness of a Scary Game Cover!

Fantasy Aquarium World
Developer: Destineer
Release Date: 05/15/2009

Just look at that cover... It's a total mind-f%&k. Pardon my French. Just imagine this sitting on a store shelf. From far away, you can only see the beautiful little fish but just as you are about to pick up the game case, the possessed shark - just look at the crazy eye - suddenly jumps at you from the blue backdrop and you shriek in fear, thinking that you are about to lose your pretty video gaming fingers. I can definitely see where they are going with this: an aquarium game needs something exciting on the cover so that people would buy the game but this is just too much! When the shark shock begins to dissipate, the mind would then shift back to the cute little fish. Oh no! The cutie is about to be shark food and it doesn't even know the danger that is lurking behind it. You know the cutie is really going to get it because that big guy is a really smart shark. Notice how the shark cleverly keeps its dorsal fin fully submerged underwater to avoid humans from detecting that it is ready to strike! Remember that the next time you go swimming in the ocean.

Tekken 6 Co-Op Fun

I didn't know that Tekken 6's Scenario Mode can now be played online with another player! Earlier, I was going to do some item hunting for one of the many characters available in the game when I saw the option to play it online. This mode was enabled via a patch that was released on 01/18/2010. I remember the game being updated when I played it after that date but I thought it was some sort of a fix for the online versus mode. In single-player, you get to go through waves upon waves of enemies with the help of the computer controlling a second character. The A.I. is tolerable but it can't beat having a real person fighting along your side - it's really fun to bully the bosses with well placed combined combos. Tekken 6 was fun before - now the game is even better!

Yodel if this new game mode makes you happy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heavy Rain: Maybe a Bit Too Heavy?

The game's demo is finally out on the PlayStation Store but it is very light in actual content. Since the game is going to be heavily-focused on telling a story, it makes sense that developer Quantic Dream doesn't want us to play too much of the game from the demo. How can I describe the game? Well, think of it as a less interactive Shenmue - Heavy Rain is played mostly via quick time events while allowing you to actually control your character to move from one area to the next.

Just because she is cheap, it doesn't necessarily mean that she is easy.

Not much of story is revealed in the demo: You get to play a private detective and a FBI agent who are investigating the case of the "Origami Killer" who seemed to have murdered quite a number of people, including children. The character movement is rather awkward - you have to hold the R2 button to walk and every single action in the game is dictated by a motion command of the Sixaxis controller or by elaborate inputs of the buttons and analogue sticks, mostly mimicking the real motions of the actions. This gives the game a deliberately slow pacing. It's very cinematic almost to the point that the game becomes an interactive movie but then it takes you away from that confined aesthetic by allowing you to freely move your character around. The game feels familiar and new at the same time. It's oddly mesmerizing. For a game that has been repeatedly praised for its graphics, Heavy Rain unfortunately doesn't look that impressive. The detailed character faces during the loading screens do look incredible but the same facial models are not used during the actual gameplay section of the game. More disappointing however is that the game can only run as high as 720p. Overall, I am still very curious about this game. The simplistic gameplay doesn't deter me from wanting to experience the whole thing and I always like a game that tries to tell an interesting story. Heavy Rain is definitely going to be popular with the more adventurous type of gamers once it is released on the 23rd of this month.

The game is very moody.


A Sonic Game Full of Win? No Way!

Well, technically, it's not a Sonic game. I just played the demo of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing by Sumo Digital on the X-Box 360 and I must say that it is totally magnificent. The game features a bunch of Sega characters - including Ryo from Shenmue mind you - racing against each other in full force around fully realized Sega-themed racing tracks. If you have seen the tennis courts in Sega Superstars Tennis, just imagine those bright environments but only more expansive and moving at top speed!

I want to fly sky high! Let's go-o-o-o together!

The game is a total Mario Kart clone but that is not a bad thing! From the one Sonic-influenced track that is playable in the demo, I can easy say that the racing is tight and the computer opponents are challenging. The graphics are incredibly detailed despite the game being ported to the Nintendo Wii and the soundtrack is so classic Sonic and I can listen to it over and over and over again. Sega is definitely hitting the jackpot with this one and I am sold! I look forward to the demo on the PlayStation 3 but knowing Sega's history with PS3-ports, this game is probably going to perform better on the 360 but you never know. The game is scheduled to be released on the 23rd of this month!

Akira... in a racing game? Pure insanity!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rocking Out with... SpongeBob?

I haven't played a karaoke game in a while so I have spent the last couple of hours playing the PlayStation 3's SingStar and the X-Box 360's Rock Band 2. Since I haven't been on these games for quite some time now, I went to their online stores to look for new songs to download. I didn't expect to find much from any of the stores but I did find some rather curious items from the list of downloadable songs for Rock Band 2:

What the! There's something absorbent, yellow, and porous lurking in there.

Don't get me wrong, I think SpongeBob is pretty funny but selling these songs here just feels a bit out of place and somewhat creepy. Apparently, these songs have been available for purchase since March of last year - this should tell you how often I look for downloadable songs for Rock Band 2. Could be worse though: they could have added some Celine Dion songs in there while I wasn't looking.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Achievement Whore? Not on XP 64!

Hey, that rhymes! As much as I don't hunt for achievements on the X-Box 360 nor on the Live-enabled Personal Computer games, I am aware that they exist. They don't mean much to me - until that is, if they are not working as they should be! Since the last Games for Windows Live client update late last year, XP 64 owners - myself included - have not been able to keep any unlocked achievements from any Live-enabled games. Because I rarely ever check my achievement sheet, I wasn't even aware of it until the beginning of this year when I realized that the achievements that popped up during my playtime with Tinker and Red Faction: Guerrilla are not showing up on my Live profile. Worse still, it's not just a syncing issue between the PC's Live client and the player profile because a day or two later, the achievements that showed unlocked on the Live client would disappear forever and the player will need to unlock them again!

Yesterday: To test out whether the problem has been fixed,
I went ahead and unlocked this particular achievement for the 50th time.

Those who use other versions of Windows may experience the same problem but the issue becomes fixable for them by deleting and then recovering their online profile from the Live client. As I mentioned earlier, I don't hunt down these achievements but when something doesn't work as it should, it sure irritates the heck out of me - especially when it remains unresolved for close to three months. Microsoft has been really hush-hush about this issue on their official forum and at this rate, the only fix for me is to leave Windows XP 64 behind for Windows 7 sometime in the future.

Today: It is still not showing up on my X-Box 360 nor the Live website.
The achievement is also mysteriously removed from the PC's Live client.