Monthly Archives: September 2011
A Ninja themed set of 3 quickies available from the Indie Xbox Live Arcade.
Ninja Stole My Bike
Ugh. This game is such trash. I won’t go into much detail about the gameplay, because there really isn’t much. Take an impossible game and make it more boring and then you have Ninja Stole My Bike. They took a genre of game where all you really do is press one button and found a way to make it less interesting. There are two redeeming qualities to this game however. For starters, it only costs 80 MSP, which is most likely more than what it cost to make the game. The other, which is probably already obvious to fans of YTMND.com, is the games namesake. Basically, your playing the cut scene from Punch-Out!! But instead of an up and coming boxer chasing a fat black man on a bike, you’re a pizza delivery boy chasing a ninja. So aside from the little chuckle I got from the connection to an overtly racist internet meme, this game is only worth it for those who have a major crush on these types of games and have played every other one in existence.
Has that annoying chibi style of art, but that’s really the only negative thing I have to say about this game. It’s honestly pretty good for what it is. It’s a weird hybrid of a side-scrolling action platformer and stealth game, with a little bit of impossible game thrown in. Think if Solid Snake was storming Dr. Wily’s castle. The game has a much quicker pace than any Metal Gear though; you won’t be sitting there for more then a few seconds waiting for an enemy to turn away. You’re given two basic instructions at the onset of the game: Don’t be seen, and don’t murder anyone. The don’t be seen part was a given, I was expecting that considering the title and all. But the second part – no killing?! You’re a ninja and ninjas use swords and a swords sole purpose is to kill. Instead your sword is relegated to a glorified door slasher. The music’s not so bad either. I set my standards low for indie games, so I won’t say it’s good, but it’s catchy and goes with the pace of the game pretty well. This one’s also only 80 MSP and you could do much worse with a dollar.
Akane the Kunoichi
Kunoichi = female ninja
Definitely the most visually appealing of the three games reviewed. The 16-bit art style took me right back to the days of the SNES, with bright and vibrant sprite animations and backgrounds. This is a straight up action platformer. Akane performs as you would expect a ninja to – doing wall jumps, throwing projectiles at enemy ninjas, and harnessing her potent ninja magic. Although, the whole stealth aspect of being a ninja is thrown at the window. It kind of reminded me of Shinobi, but far more colorful, like if Nintendo had made Shinobi instead of Sega. The only real complaint I have is the noise she makes EVERY TIME you jump. I could really do without that, or at least some variety in effects. That aside, it was a pretty solid game. Controlled well, aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, and a halfway decent soundtrack. I’m not a particularly big fan of platformers, so for that to be my only gripe shows that there was a good degree of effort put into developing this title. At only 80 MSP, it’s definitely worth the dollar.
Since this is my top pick of the three, it deserves a video.
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By the way, if you’re still wondering about where Ninja Stole My Bike go its inspiration, GO HERE. But I warn you, it IS racist.
http://www.Extra-Life.org is a fundraising organization that works with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They will be holding 2 events during the month of October to help raise money for kids. October 1st will be G3: Gaming and Giving for Good, being sponsored by XBOX 360. Even if you don’t have Xbox Live, they are giving you a free weekend of gold membership to play games online in support of the fundraiser. The other, the Extra-Life 2011 Marathon, will be held on October 15. The idea is that it’s like a walkathon, but with video games. Play games for 24 hours on your favorite console, or PC. This is being supported by PS3, XBOX, Steam, and Rift. Below are links to each respective events sign-up page.
Everyone is welcome to participate whether you are an individual, team, want to donate, or even just pass the word along. $1 would be better than nothing, and if that’s too much for you, then at least take the time to let someone else know about this and forward this site to them.
I will be joining in on Extra-Life 2011 on Oct 15. Expect to catch me on XBOX Live most likely playing Space Marine all day. In case you haven’t already noticed, I have these huge banners on the sidebar so if you’d like to sponsor me and make a donation, click on them. My goal is to get $100. That doesn’t seem like much if everyone who came across this even gave pennies. Any little bit helps, so Make a Donation!
I get no money out of this. You’re not giving me money, you’re giving money to kids who need medical attention. Even giving next to nothing would still be SOMETHING. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your computer to donate. Just click on the large SPONSOR ME! picture and it will take you to a link where you can donate. They have preset denominations, but you can select other in put in whatever. You can use a credit card or even paypal! PENNIES! PENNIES WOULD BE AN ACCEPTABLE DONATION EVEN.
If you haven’t heard of Retro City Rampage yet, you either didn’t grow up with a NES or you’re one of those people that doesn’t play anything but Madden. But if your gaming library consists of more than just the past 3 years of EA sports titles, please, read on.
Retro City Rampage is a Grand Theft Auto open world style parody, but done in glorious 8-bit! In development now by Vblank Entertainment, a process which has almost reached completion after 7 long years. I had a chance to chat with Brian Provinciano, the founder and lead developer, briefly via email. He’s a busy man and has already done a handful of interviews with people far more important than myself, plus I didn’t want to hamper production of this game any further, so I kept the questions short.
Greg – Clearly there were many influences you had going into this game; Mega man, Duck Tales, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Bionic Commando, Jackal. You didn’t seem to stick to just games either, I see Back to the Future* in your logo. Did I miss any? What else was on your mind?
Brian – I got into games because of the games I loved growing up. Retro City Rampage is an homage and celebration to pretty much everything that I’ve held a controller to and enjoyed. I’ve lost count!
Greg – How did you find ways to fit all the parodies* in? Was there a massive brainstorming sessions or just work them in as they came to you? I feel this is a pertinent question because every time I watch a video, I notice another little easter egg.
Brian – There were some brainstorming sessions, mostly in the beginning, but otherwise it’s mostly me. Maxime (the other artist on the project) has some great ideas though too when we’re adding some extra cherries on top.
Greg – I know Grand Thefttendo was the original title. I hear it was even originally supposed to be on a cartridge. What other major changes have taken place since? Are there things that have been taken out of the game that couldn’t fit?
Brian – Grand Theftendo was an entirely different game, but same end goal –an 8-bit Grand Theft Auto style open world game. I developed that on the NES, whereas Retro City Rampage is running on current platforms and does far more than an NES actually could. It still retains the same feel but packs are more punch, fun and is dosed with more sprinkles.
Greg – I guess with the cost of production, I can see why you chose to go digital, but will we ever see a physical copy?
Brian – It’s possible, but I wouldn’t expect something like that to happen for over a year if it did. Digital is far better in many ways. It costs 6-7 figures to release a retail game. Some XBLA games gross less than that. We may sell retro boxes/manuals with download codes though. It’s still up in the air.
Greg – Can you make just one? Or two. One for me, one for you of course. I’ll pay for both.
Brian – Unfortunately you can’t just start the presses for a couple copies of a console game.
Greg – The soundtrack fits perfectly with everything I’ve seen so far. What kind of direction, if any, did you give to your composers? It all seems to be very reminiscent of NES Konami games.
Brian – Konami’s been a great influence, but they’ve been very focused on experimenting with every style, from those of different NES games to music genres that didn’t even exist in those days. The soundtrack covers everything! Some of the songs were designed to be specific homages or fit specific missions, but I also told them to just have fun and play around for many others. In both cases we ended up with amazing tracks.
Greg – I remember last year hearing that Retro City Rampage was coming out holiday 2010. It was then set to release this summer. Any final words on a release date?
Brian – Likely mid-late January 2012. For business reasons I need to wait until the AAA and holiday season craziness is over.
Greg – This has clearly been a labor of love, taking you 7 years to complete. How do you feel? What are your plans afterwards?
Brian – It’s absolutely a labor of love. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out and all of the extra time I spent polishing it makes all of the difference. I was just playing it last night and a cutscene happened which I’d polished last month. I stopped for a moment and said to myself “Wow, those little extra touches really make it feel extra special”. I’m still polishing things as we speak. That’s what makes a game great.
I have a half dozen ideas for games I really want to make, but we’ll see which ones come to fruition, as games take a long time to make.
Greg – Do you still have a classic gaming collection of your own?
Brian – I do. I think I collected about 1/3rd of the NES library. However it’s all in boxes at my parent’s place. I don’t have room for it at my place, or money to continue collecting. Every last penny these days goes directly into funding RCR.
This game is parodies within parodies. They really threw everything into a blender with this one. My personal favorite I’ve seen so far is when the player gets bitten by a radioactive plumber and gains the super stomp ability. This is the type of genius you’ll encounter throughout the game.
Retro City Rampage, coming out early first quarter 2012 for XBOX Live Arcade and Wii Ware. You can check out Retro City Rampage‘s homepage for updates as the game nears its final stages, check out the developer blog, and watch some trailers. Being a big chiptune fan myself, I really dig the soundtrack. If you like that old 8-bit style of music you can download the tracks from the game there as well. The artists do an awesome job putting together a soundtrack that feels completely retro yet altogether something new. I strongly recommend checking out each of their own sites for some rockin’ tunes.
As always, don’t forget to share this post. And don’t forgot to drop Brian and his crew a line as well. They’ve put a lot of work into this game. Let them know what you think.
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*I know Back to the Future was a game too, but does anyone really care about that awful thing? Let’s forget it existed, ok?
Added just last week to the arcade is Crimson Alliance. As usual, every Wednesday I check to see the new demos that are up and when I went to download the demo for this game, the magic word “FREE” was there instead of the MS point cost. Clearly I immediately downloaded it thinking it was a promo they had going on or something. Turns out this free game is just really a demo in disguise anyway. More like an elaborate trick. The game is indeed free, but you have to buy the character classes otherwise you have limited gameplay. These micro transactions have gone too far. I hate having to pay for premium content, only getting parts of a game at a time. That aside, it does look like a pretty decent game, but I refuse to buy it because I hate being lied to.
First off, you have to love the box art, reminiscent of Capcom’s NES days. I’m immediately reminded of Little Nemo the Dream Master, though Cthulhu and Nemo have naught in common. Cthulhu Saves the World is the second game developed by Zeboyd Games. Much like its precursor, Breath of Death VII (also an awesome game to check out), Cthulhu is imagined in amazing 16-bit graphics, taking us back to a time when RPGs ruled the home gaming console.
Games don’t really seem to fit cleanly into one specific genre anymore. Call of Duty is the most popular FPS ever, but it does have RPG elements to it. You level up, acquire new skills and weapons, gain experience points. Then we have the biggest RPGs like Fallout and Mass Effect, which are basically RPGs turned shooters. The line that used to so clearly define the genre of a game has been blurred, almost completely erased even. Not that I have anything against any of those games, but I like my turn based RPGs dammit! Alas, they are a dying breed. Developers don’t really make them for consoles anymore, because unless you’re a Square Enix fanboy/girl, you want immediate action and swift gratification, which has been the standard for this generation of consoles. I get it… I mean there’s a completely valid reason; video games are more of a “business” now than they’ve ever been so they only push what sells. But that’s exactly why I wanted to review indie games in the first place; As much as I love video games, the artistic endeavor is often cast aside for the commercial product. Over commercialization of anything will ultimately cheapen it. It’s all about how much money they can squeeze out of a franchise. How many Tony Hawk games are there? How many are actually any good? So where have the good traditional RPGs gone? They’re out there, just not so mainstream as they used to be.
Cthulhu has definitely been one of the most undersaturated monsters in the media. Vampires and Zombies are so commonplace, they might as well be a friendly neighbor. How many about Cthulhu? Aside from that one South Park episode, I can’t think of any. Though he has been a familiar face in the gaming culture for years. There have definitely been games about him, but never with him as the star. Cthulhu could not slumber forever. Through the unfathomable power held by the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu has risen from the murky depths and stepped into the limelight. I think once you have a plush novelty doll of yourself, you’ve made it. Would H.P. Lovecraft approve of this game? Is this a bastardization of the Cthulhu mythos? Yes, and it’s good.
The first 5 minutes of the game introduce you to one of the most ingenious plots a god could muster..but not really. Allow me to explain. Residing in his underwater realm of R’lyeh, Cthulhu finally awakens to embark upon his destruction of the world. His plans are immediately thwarted as a mysterious stranger appears somewhat arbitrarily and easily strips Cthulhu of his power. Only by becoming a true hero and saving those in need will he be able to regain his lost power in order to destroy the world. Sounds kind of counter productive doesn’t it? Anyway, thus we are thrust into the game. I really don’t want to give anything of the story away because afterall, RPGs are mainly about the story anyway. Trust me, it is truly entertaining, humorous and just a solid good old school RPG. The dialogue is particularly light considering the cosmic greatness that is Cthulhu, and consists mostly of witty banter. So don’t expect a convoluted adventure, question the meaning of ones existence, like most of the Final Fantasy games. Gameplay is pretty much straight out of NES and SNES Dragon Quest, though with more leveling up options. Depending on your playing style, the game will take somewhere between 6 – 10 hours. Also, it seems a main battle mechanic is to make things insane. I for one am totally for anything that promotes insanity.
I would also like to quickly address the games credits. In the “special thanks” section of the credits, they list Kainazzo, a boss from Final Fantasy II, and the lowercase letter ‘e’. Maybe they thought they could sneak those in there because no one ever reads the credits. But I do!
Available for XBOX Live Arcade at 240 MS points, or on Steam you can get the Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World bundle for just $2.99. You cant go wrong. So do it. If you don’t, you’re basically admitting that you don’t like good games.
Of course I wouldn’t leave you without a chance to see the amazing theme song trailer.
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As promised, the update on Square Enix’s press conference. Since I wasn’t man enough to stay awake and get the information from Square Enix as it unfolded, I’ll just give you all a link right to IGNs report on Dragon Quest X. If clicking on that link is too much work for you, I’ll break down the key important elements here.
- Dragon Quest X will be coming to the Wii and Wii U
- It will be a MMORPG
- There will be 5 playable races along with a job class system
- Player crafted items
- Turn based battles
- There will be an offline mode as well
- Release date set for sometime 2012
Considering there’s an offline mode I wonder how this will work as an online game. Will it be like Final Fantasy XI but in a Dragon Quest setting, and I have to pay $15 a month to play? Or will it be like Diablo, where I can experience the whole game at home by myself and then if I choose, play online with others but at no additional cost? I prefer the latter and hopefully that’s what they decide. Actually, there’s a 3rd possibility I suppose. Phantasy Star Online. Same deal as Diablo, except you still had to pay money if you wanted to play online. Let’s hope that’s not the case, I’d rather it be more like your standard MMO if I have to pay money.
Will there be multiple factions with a PVP system? Will there be a raid system with huge dungeons? If they go with the Phantasy Star Online paradigm, I suspect that won’t be the case. My personal speculation is that it will be PVE heavy and will probably allow you to form groups of 4 -6 people. I base that mainly on the fact that you can play through the game offline. I don’t see a 20 man raid happening with 19 NPCs. I suspect that towns will be hubs where people can gather, then once venturing out into the field, it will act like an instance and only those in your party will be present. Since the battles are turned based, this is the only way I can think of that makes sense.
I am excited by Dragon Quest becoming an MMO. When Dragon Quest IX came out with multiplayer support I thought that was a great idea, but it was too limited by it’s lack of an infrastructure mode. I am worried though. A console MMO hasn’t really “worked” yet. You can argue that Final Fantasy XI was successful and then I’d argue that game was trash. Perhaps excitement with a tinge of nervous anticipation.
The Wii U really didn’t impress me initially, but now that I know this is coming out for it, I guess I’ll have to get one. I am a little disappointed though that they didn’t make any solid announcements for a 3DS game.
I leave you with some gameplay footage from the press conference. Sorry there’s no subtitles, couldn’t find one with any.
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Dragon Quest, my favorite RPG series of all time, celebrates its 25th anniversary with oodles of goodies. This is the best Dragon Quest news I’ve heard since they announced they were finally porting Dragon Quest VI to America. Much of the 25th anniversary information is already common knowledge with fans, but apparently on Monday, Square Enix is going to be dropping a bombshell. This Monday, September 5th, Square Enix will be unveiling a new entry into the Dragon Quest Franchise! Popular speculation believes this will be the big reveal of Dragon Quest X, which has been in development for the Wii for some time. With Nintendo publishing the last few Dragon Quest releases, this makes the most logical case. It’s also no secret there is a 3DS Dragon Quest title in the works, so maybe even both will make a showing.
The press conference begins at 2pm Japans time, which is 1am eastern for us. You can watch the action unfold live on Square Enix’s USTREAM Channel
Other Dragon Quest releases on the way:
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 – Like Pokemon, but with Akira Toriyama‘s monsters. Release Date: Sept 19
Dragon Quest Collection – Containing both the NES and SNES versions of Dragon Quest I, II, and III, unmolested and unchanged, in their original form. Set to release this Sept. in Japan, but still no word if it will ever hit us stateside.
Fortune Street – Not really a Dragon Quest game per se, but it has Dragon Quest characters in it. Itadaki Street in Japan, this series has never been released in America before. Plays like the bastard child of Monopoly and Mario Party. Release Date: Holiday 2011
There’s also a handful of Dragon Quest swag to pick up, including this cute little guy; a 1/1 scale of a King Slime. Unfortunately you’ll most likely have to end up importing these as well. Check eBay because these will probably never show up on our shelves.
I’ll be sure to drop an update once Square Enix makes their announcement.
Finally, I leave you with the Japanese trailer for the Dragon Quest Collection.
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