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Cthulhu Saves the World

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.

As always, please don’t forget to share this post.

Thanks for reading!

Get sum edyookashun!

I would like to take this moment, before you dive into this post at length, to warn you that this is a post of unbridled anger. I’m not reviewing anything or giving my opinion on anything. Call this social outrage if you will, but I am one who believes America is getting dumber. Being what this blog is about though, I’m staying clear of politics and economics, budgets, and what have you, it’ll simply be about business as usual: video games.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was just released this Tuesday and it’s fueled the burning hatred inside me that’s been building for years. Oh, no, I have no problem at all with Deus Ex. I think it’s a great game. It’s the rape of language that’s related to the title that I have a problem with. There seems to be a mysterious collective group out there that promotes the mispronunciation of various video game related terms. I’ve heard the same mispronunciation from many people in various different parts of the country, so this is far from an isolated event, which leads me to believe that this is an insidious intentional spreading of incorrectitude. Now is incorrectitude a real word? No. But I made it up and I can do that. Making up words in fine, at least I’m not butchering the pronunciation of a word that already exists.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the culprits comparing their correct and incorrect pronunciations, starting with the most recent.

Deus Ex

How I’ve been hearing it: Deuce. And if you can’t pronounce that either, it sounds like GOOSE but with a D. It’s not deuce, that’s a slang term for pooping, which also means number 2.

Correct way:  Day-us. Which is Latin for, God or Deity. As in, “Thank Deus that the game isn’t called “Deus Ex Machina” because then we’d have everyone calling it “Deuce Ex Masheena”

Pokemon

Now this one I haven’t heard in a while but every now and then it creeps into my world and it causes me to regurgitate in my mouth a little bit. It’s mostly parents to blame for this one and I just don’t understand what their problem is. Kids will say it the right way right in front of their parents and then the parents still say it wrong. This is why I said earlier that these are intentional. Someone is purposely spreading these verbal crimes. I hear this one pronounced po-ke-MAN. Man?! Where is there an ‘A’ anywhere in that word? Granted it’s a foreign made up word, but we can’t just go injected and omitting letters as we see fit. New England, you are the worst perpetrators of this crime. You know what I’m talking about….

L.A. Noire

At its worst, I’ve heard this one called La Noyer. Sometimes it’s half right and someone will know enough to at least realize there are periods after the ‘L’ and the ‘A’. But then I also get, L.A. No-ire. Noire i’m willing to forgive to an extent. It’s a a french word which means black. Most specific to the game, it would refer to the genre of film called, film noir, which is what the theme of the game is supposed to be. If you don’t understand, think of the movie, L.A. Confidential. It’s a film noir style movie. Hence the game, L.A. Noire. Now you understand the meaning behind the title. Now let’s say it correctly. L.A. should be easy enough to figure out. Noire can be tough, I admit, because we really don’t have this exact sound in our dialect. Don’t think of is as a monosyllabic word like noise, where the ‘O’ and ‘I’ flow into the rest of the word, think of it more like two syllables. It should almost sound like “new-are” but slurred together.

Grand Theft Auto IV

This is simple and quick. This is not Grand Theft Auto Eye Vee. IV is the roman numeral for the number 4. So this is Grand Theft Auto 4. You would hope only young kids would get this wrong, but no. Adults are just as at fault here as well. If you feel your roman numerals are a bit spotty, you can check out Nova Roma‘s website.

Nunchuk

In this instance I’m referring specifically to the Wii Nunchuk. Nothing is more like nails on a chalkboard than this one. I hate hearing people call this a NUMBchuck. There’s no ‘M’ or ‘B’ in this word. Even after hearing the correct pronunciation and seeing the word spelled on packaging, people still refuse to say it the right way. Ignorance at its finest. Maybe I’m spoiled because I grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Michelangelo wielded the nunchaku. Which leads me to another point. Maybe I shouldn’t be so annoyed by this. I mean it’s officially nunchaku anyway and not nunchuk, though both are accepted. The nunchaku come originally from Okinawa, and I don’t know exactly how it went from that to nunchuk so maybe we made that up and it doesn’t matter anyway. No! You know what, it’s spelled Nunchuk right there on the box. So they can say it that way.

That’s enough anger for now. If anyone else has got some they’d like to share, please feel free.

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Thanks for reading!

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

This review was written by request for Kimberly Amato of Pac-Man & the Hot One. That was fine with me because Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is just too good. And if you disagree, you’re just wrong.

The review is being hosted on her site. I definitely think you need to check this game out but if you want to see everything I had to say about it check out MY REVIEW OF EARTH DEFENSE FORCE: INSECT ARMAGEDDON

Honour is My Shield

Kill Team is not an indie game by any stretch of the term; it’s published by THQ and GamesWorkshop is the kingpin of war gaming. However it is no secret that I am a huge fan of 40k, (who else has a tattoo of an orc on their arm?) so I had to say a little something about it just out of sheer excitement.

Picking up from my short comments the other day, Kill Team controls like Smash TV, but plays more like the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. It’s a run and gun, frag fest where one stick controls movement and the other controls firing. And that would be enough, but to round out the game a bit, they threw in some light customization options. Not quite as many as MUA, but enough to keep it from getting bland. There’s also co-op, and a survival mode with online leaderboards.

There are 4 different characters to choose from and 2 basic styles of play. The Librarian and Vanguard Veteran focus on melee combat, while the Sternguard Veteran and Techmarine have more powerful ranged weaponry. Better weapons and perks for your marine can be unlocked through gameplay to further suit your character to your style. Enhanced melee damage, more health, longer power ups, to name a few. Also, each class has a specific special attack that will quickly dispatch a large chunk of the green horde. Librarians unleash a psychic shockwave, sending everything surrounding them flying. Vanguard Veterans tear ass around with their jump pack, finally landing and blasting away a cluster of greenskins. Techmarines quickly construct a twin-linked heavy bolter turret to help fend off foes from multiple directions. Finally, my favorite, the Sternguard Veteran has the focus fire ability which really amps up your rate of fire, allowing you a lay down a deadly hail of heavy bolter rounds, laying waste to all in your sights.

There are a few minor details that irk me. Being a 40k fan, I feel they could have made the weapon load outs more accurate.  I admit the only people that are really going to notice this are 40k fans,  and this may be nitpicking, but I don’t see anyone buying this game if they aren’t a 40k fan anyway. The Vanguard Veteran is ranked the highest for melee, but he is armed with a chainsword and plasma pistol. The Librarian has stronger ranged attacks, but weaker melee yet he is armed with a power sword and a bolt pistol.  It seems to me they should give the Vanguard the bolt pistol and the Librarian the plasma pistol as a more accurate representation of their stats. Their swords get upgraded anyway, so only their default weapons need retooling, maybe just start them both with chainswords. And as for the Techmarine, the servo arm should be way more powerful. This is no way affects my overall enjoyment of the game, it’s just a minor detail and I do not consider it a strike against them.

However, I do have 2 small complaints that ARE somewhat bothersome. It is too easy to get all the unlockables and they are not character specific as you get them. Allow me to explain. Playing through as the Sternguard let’s say, I can can get every unlock for every character. I  should only be unlocking upgrades to ranged weaponry. Not only is this less of a challenge, but subsequent playthroughs with other characters will feel less rewarding because now I have nothing new to achieve. My other big complaint is the self inflicted death rate is too high. These types of games always have copious amounts of exploding barrels littered about, which I should have expected, and within 5 minutes of my first game session, I was KIA; death by barrel blast. Whatever. That was my own stupidity, but with the unending rain of gunfire, it just means you need to more careful about stray rounds. The other method of self inflicted death is far more insidious and aggravating. It is too easy to fall. This isn’t a platforming game and I never have to jump. I shouldn’t even have the option to fall off any ledges. Maybe some of you will never come across this issue, but I am an insane completionist and I must find every little secret. Fall to death ratio – about 50%.  Getting cut down from a rampaging mob of Orks is to be expected. Not searching behind a large pipe only to fall of the world.

Despite the fact that I’m very good at singling out things that bother me, I’ve had much fun with Kill Team so far. I assure you, those are the only negative aspects I’ve come across and they really are quite minor.  It’s really easy to pick up and play without getting bogged down by endless menus, but customizable enough to where is doesn’t feel too simple.  With each stage coming in at around 20-45 minutes play time, you don’t have to devote an entire day to it either. And the survival mode is good for a quick fix if you have even less time than that. Regardless of how much time you have, it’s total nonstop action the whole way through alone or with a friend.  All said and done, definitely worth the 10 bucks you’ll spend on either the PSN or XBLA and it only makes me more anxious for Space Marine to come out in September.

Don’t forget, like me on Facebook! Follow me on Twitter! And take care, spi….. wait wait. No, someone else says all that.

Yeah uh… Thanks for reading!

For the Emperor!

Just finished downloading and playing Warhammer 40k: Kill Team.  It was only 800 microsoft points on XBLA. Simple, straightforward, fun gameplay. Smash TV style controls with some RPG elements thrown in such as added power-ups and perks.

I’ve been waiting for this since I played it briefly at E3. It will tide me over until Space Marine comes out in September. Added incentive to download, they give you a power sword in Space Marine for playing Kill Team.

Mike, this is for you more than anyone else. Download this immediately!

Analysis so far: AWESOME

More to come!

Thankyou Couch Co-op

I’ve seen the Dungeon Siege III commercial a few times now and it’s got me thinking. Actually I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and the commercial was more of a catalyst. What’s happened to couch co-op? Sitting around your room with a bunch of friends, a few bags of chips, and a lot of foul-mouthed tomfoolery. It seems so many games focus on online multiplayer that playing a game with a person in the same room is becoming a thing of the past. I understand that often times human interaction can be down right (forward, HADOKEN!) detestable, but video games are meant to bring people together! Too many games are either completely single player (which there’s nothing wrong with. Mass Effect is the best game ever) or are designed to get people online and into a team deathmatch as quickly as possible. I blame Call of Duty.  The predecessors to Call of Duty: World at War didn’t have a campaign co-op, so when World at War finally released I was quivering with excitement to get home and play with my roommates right away. It was a great night. I simply don’t understand why the follow ups took that feature away. More recently Brink, and we won’t even mention any other problems with this one, is strictly multiplayer even in the single player campaign! Why not throw in some split screen action?

I have nothing against online gaming. I’ve been playing MMOs (specifically not World of Warcraft), RTSs, and FPSers for years on the PC and nothing is more devoid of direct social interaction than an MMO. But what if my wife and I want to play a game together? For the most part we would both need to own a copy of the game, have separate systems set up on separate TVs in separate rooms*, that or be relegated to playing some garbage carnival game on the Wii or pretending to rock out with fake instruments.

NO!

I’m sure it all comes back to money. My previous line of thinking pretty much answers my question.  If you have a sibling or two and you want to play online with them,  a sale of 1 game is nice, but make it so that you can only do 1 person online per console, well now you have 2 TVs, 2 consoles, 2 games, 2 headsets, and 2 accounts sold.

Here’s a typical situation: You’re in a store looking for a game to bring home to play with your friends but all too often the back cover reads, “Players 1. Online multiplayer 2-16.” I’m always talking about how perfect the XBLA and PSN are for finding awesome games and this is another prime example. The best co-op games aren’t found in a store for $59.99, but are available for immediate download usually at around only 15 bucks!

So here’s a list of games I thank for having multiplayer, split screen, campaign co-op, and whatever other ways they make it so we can game together without our only form of connection being our headsets.

  • Halo – The most recognizable. This game has sold systems for years and from day 1 had split screen co-op
  • Borderlands
  • Portal 2
  • Hunted – Even though it’s mediocre
  • Dungeon Siege III
  • EDF – Don’t laugh. You have no idea how awesome this game is
  • Castle Crashers
  • Scott Pilgrim – This one’s so old school there isn’t even an online feature. You might have to make some friends to get all 4 players

And I was ever so excited when these 3 gems appeared on the XBLA

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  The Arcade Game
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
  • X-Men

Yeah I know I left out some games. I’m sure you have other co-op games on your own list that I didn’t mention. So what? Wanna fight about it?

Drop me a line, leave a comment. Most importantly, share this post!

* note that my wife and I do have separate systems set up on separate TVs in separate rooms

Sonic Generations

Why on earth did I not list this as part of my top picks from E3? Now I know what you’re thinking, “Sonic? Really?” Yes, really. For those of you who didn’t grow up with the Sega Genesis, I feel bad that you’ve, for the most part, had only crappy Sonic games to deal with. Sonic Adventures was all right though, but there was too much stuff you had to do that really bogged down the game… like Big the Cat.

There has been a demo available to download for a few weeks now, check it out. Unfortunately it only has 1 level of the classic Sonic mode. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it would be nice if they showed you both styles of play. Classic is fun, it plays exactly like the Genesis version, but with a few tweaks here and there and a major graphical overhaul. It would be cool if they added a feature that allowed you to play it in 16 bit mode. Modern Sonic mode plays more like Sonic Colors. Which, if you haven’t played it, is actually a decent game.  Modern Sonic is more about blazing speed; you almost never stop running. It’s awesome that they put both types into one game. I guess it could really expand the appeal of who’s going to buy it. I mean the handheld Sonic games have been somewhat like classic ones, but for the most part kids buy those. Putting both types into one game and on a console really opens up the age boundaries. And if you own a 3D TV, the visuals in the modern Sonic mode look amazing. The sense of speed you get running right behind a 3D Sonic feels even more intense.

I haven’t been this excited about a Sonic game in nearly 15 years.  Too bad it comes out holiday 2011 when the wallet’s gonna be tight with all the other big new releases coming out. Is it wrong that I’m more excited about Sonic Generations than Call of Duty?  This might even be the game that causes me to upgrade to a 3D TV.

And for those of you who are too lazy to look this up on youtube yourself, I did the favor for you and put it right here. You can’t imagine the overwhelming impatience I get when I watch this video, knowing I still have 4 more months to wait. Enjoy.

I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1

Issue #2

Perhaps the best dollar I’ve ever spent was on this game. Now go ahead, think about that. When was the last time you said you spent only a dollar and were completely satisfied. Even a bottle of soda generally will cost $1.25 or more and those are only temporary. 16 oz. only lasts so long and if you share it with someone, your reducing your satisfaction level; however, sharing this game actually brings your satisfaction level over 9000! Unless I was in the middle of the desert, dehydration enveloping me in its death grip, that dollar could be no better spent. But there’s no vending machines in the middle of the desert anyway, so I maintain it was my wisest dollar purchase ever.

There’s no doubt that the zombie apocalypse is coming (see ref. Zombie Survival Guide) Or in some cases is already here. I’m pretty certain that everyone in Canada is a zombie. Beware our neighbors to the north! But I digress. So with everyone’s rising interest in the oncoming zombie hoard, pop media in all its forms became flooded with zombies. Call of Duty: World at War and Left 4 Dead weren’t the first games to include killing tons of zombies, but they were perhaps the most influential of this generation. Thus opening the gateway for Ska-Studios to develop, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1  Around the same time, another game simply named, Zombie Apocalypse was released. They both offer a similar style of gameplay, but IMaGWZ1i is by far the most gratifying shoot ’em up out there. Especially if you use a cost vs. fun ratio. Please refer to chart A-1 which I made using MS Paint.

*A-1

As you can see they are pretty close in fun factor, hovering somewhere between a 7 and 8. However, Zombie Apocalypse costs 800 Microsoft points ($10) and IMaGWZ1i is 80($1), IMaGWZ1i has an astoundingly high positive CvF  (cost vs. fun) differential of +6.5, while ZAs CvF is actually negative. That means IMaGWZ1i is nearly 217% more fun per dollar!

Even though Zombie Apocalypse came out only a month later,  I’m going to claim that they completely copied IMaGWZ1i, and with their larger budget, were able to work on it an accelerated schedule to get the game released in just over a month. They both share the same concept; kill wave after wave of zombies. They both have a similar weapon loadout; machine guns, flamethrowers, shotguns, etc. IMaGWZ1i just executes it better.

Now despite what I may have lead you to believe, this game really isn’t about the zombie apocalypse, but there are definitely zombies in it, and you must kill them, all of them. You get thrown in without any explanation of what to do, but do you need one? Controls are simple, left stick is movement and right stick shoots. I really like this control scheme. It’s been around awhile but more and more games are using it now. The ease of its style makes it easier to just get into the combat and have fun without being bogged down with too many commands. There are plenty of powerups to help keep up the fight against the hoard; there is almost never a moment when there isn’t a new powerup popping up somewhere on the screen, often there are a dozen or so, and they are all necessary because there is also never a moment when the screen isn’t littered with things that want to kill you. And thats pretty much how you play the game. You spend your time running from powerup to powerup, dodging and killing as many zombies as you can in between.

Taking graphics out of consideration, the visuals are quite amazing. That is to say, if you were ever uncertain if a game could give you a seizure, this is the game to play.  Seriously, this is a warning. If you have any friends with epilepsy and you want a good laugh, invite them over to enjoy up to 4 player co-op. Without giving too much away, there are far more enemies in this game than just zombies. After the first wave, everything becomes complete nonsense and it only gets worse as time goes on. Confusion takes  center stage pretty quickly; you’re not sure what’s happening and are rarely able to accurately locate yourself on the screen and if you are playing with 4 people, it’s utter chaos, especially when anger mode starts.

The soundtrack is awesome. You can check it out yourself here. It’s a catchy little ditty about the game itself and often I find myself playing just to hear the song. On a side note, an odd point about the game is that the soundtrack is as long as the game itself. The game just ends. You either die or survive the predetermined time limit and are awarded your final score. This is by no means a strike against the game. It has just the right amount of gameplay to not get annoying or boring. If it dragged on any longer than it does, it would become sorely tedious. Whether it was because the developers had the keen sense to see ahead, or because of budget concerns or what have you, this is the most neatly wrapped up game you can buy for a dollar. And you should buy it…now… it’s only a dollar.

Please feel free to leave any comments/suggestions/ideas/yell at me.  A like on facebook would be awesome, but subscribing would be more awesome!

Thanks for reading!

E3 Cont.

Issue #0.5mmmm....breakfast!My main source of nutrition for the three day period consisted primarily of nachos and energy drinks; the real gamers diet.

Top 5 Games of E3

1) Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. A rampage through the enemies of mankind. One of my favorite aspects of this game was the seamless transition between ranged and melee combat. That and it’s over the top, gore infused, non-stop action. They were handing out scratch off cards to people waiting in line for a chance to win t-shirts or a real life sized chainsword. Sadly, I won neither.

2) Duke Nukem Forever. This game is going to get bashed in reviews across the board, I just know it. But you kind of have to go into playing this game with that mindset. It’s a completely balls out FPS with corny, outdated humor, but I knew that already and that’s exactly what I wanted. Is it as good as Gears of War, Bulletstorm, or even Quake 4? Not really, but that’s ok. If you crossed together maybe Bullstorm and Eat Lead, I guess that’s kind of what Duke Nukem forever is like. And as long as you go into it knowing this, you might enjoy yourself.  It’s kind of like those hot dog carts in the city. The food’s great, but you know it’s not gourmet. Anyway, the line to play this was a bit longer than expected, especially since the game was coming out a week later anyway. Once at the front of the line, they put you into this room filled with Duke iconography, give you a beer or red bull inside a nifty little Duke Nukem cup cooler, and set you down to play multiplayer. I played a session of Capture the Babe; an interesting spoof of the capture the flag classic where you have to return the enemies babe to your base and you even get to spank her if she gets unruly.

3) Trenched. This was a fun spin on the tower defense formula.  Instead of just blithely placing towers and watching them take down the endless onslaught of mindless invaders from an overhead perspective, you are actively engaged in eliminating your enemies from a third person shooter view. You pilot one of three mechs: light, medium, and heavy, with light being fastest with least firepower but with the best towers and heavy with most firepower but weakest towers.  Towers remain common to the genre however, with anti-air, ground, air/ground, etc.  Coming out this summer for XBLA and it will support online multiplayer.

4) Street Fighter X Tekken. I didn’t get to play this nearly as much as I wanted to. There was constantly a large crowd surrounding the booth, much akin to the crowds surrounding the Street Fighter II cabinets from the days of yore when arcades ruled our collective video game consciousness. For those who were able to beat 3 opponents in a row, Capcom was handing out character themed bobble heads. I lost. It was a noble defeat however. The opponent who felled me had his difficulty setting at just about my level. Neither were able to land a finishing blow, instead all of our rounds ended in a time out. So I can at least walk away knowing I had a good match. The game plays mostly like Street Fighter IV but with a little MVC and Tekken Tag thrown in there.

5)Star Wars: The Old Republic. OMG! YES PLEASE! I didn’t get a chance to play this, though believe me, I wanted to. This had one of the longest lines at E3 and I really just didn’t have time to wait on another 2+ hour line. I did get to watch it a great deal though. This booth was adjacent to the Space Marine drop pod, so I got to watch an hour of so of other people playing it on several oversized displays. Looks very good, as any game made by Bioware is bound to be. It has their proprietary dialogue system, which should lend a great deal of narrative to this MMO, something that the genre sorely lacks. No official release date yet, but Mass Effect 3 has been pushed back to March so hopefully that means we’ll see a release sometime this year. *crosses fingers*

A few other interesting tidbits:

There was a bouncy castle tucked away behind all the main booths! Yay for analog entertainment!

They had a full retro video game history museum set up, complete with two dozen or so full arcade cabinets from the 70s – early 90s, all with free play activated! Not a single quarter was wasted this day. Some of my favorites on site were: Punch-Out!!, Raiden II (love me some bullet hell),  and Altered Beast. Shaolin Road was absent unfortunately, and as the self proclaimed master of that game, I would have liked to show off my skills.

I was surprised yet pleased to see so many people working well under the honor system; There was nothing holding the memorabilia down, no cameras, and no one standing guard. Their website is www.vghmuseum.org8 Bit Weapon, a chiptune group, and Descendants of Erdrick, a video game tribute band that includes a flute player, supplied crowds with live music.

A few people in cosplay, but nothing like going to a comic-con. Here we have Renegade Commander Shepherd to the left and Zero Suit Samus on the right.

Lastly and leastly, this is the best Square Enix had to offer. On display were all of the toys and collectables you can get from their web store. Some of you may argue that they were showcasing Final Fantasy XIII-2 but I would have to assume that’s a joke, because no one really cares about the garbage Square Enix produces anymore. Aside from the remake of Final Fantasy IV and the Dragon Quest games on the DS, and those don’t even really count because they’re not technically NEW, Square Enix hasn’t had any good original IPs since PSX.

Anyway, I do have tons more to say about my first ever E3 trip, but what can I say that you haven’t already heard watching G4, or hasn’t already been covered by any of the bigger websites, bloggers, or game mags.

I do appreciate your comments though, so PLEASE feel free to leave one. Don’t forget to read yesterdays post!

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the Wii U.

Thanks for reading!

My First E3!!!

This is what dreams are made of

This is what dreams are made of

Issue #0

Being that this is my first official posting, allow me to explain what the intended purpose of this blog is going to be.

At the very least, a weekly (hopefully) posting of indie games from wherever I can find them, though they will primarily come from XBLA (xbox live arcade).

Sure most of you that are gamers on the 360 have at least checked out a few games from XBLA, but have you ever checked out the indie games tab? I find most of my friends, or just anyone I’ve talked to about it for that matter, don’t bother, and since they’re indie, there really isn’t any advertising for them. Aside from word of mouth, knowledge of these games really doesn’t get out there. And maybe this is going to be a redundant blog, and I’m sure other people could probably do it better, but I haven’t seen more than a handful of blogs out there honoring these works of passion. Probably because there’s no money to be had in it.  And sure indie means that there’s really not much of a budget to speak of, but lack of budget doesn’t mean lack of quality. Yeah, a lot of them are complete stinkpiles, but there quite a few gems out there. So that’s my plan, get some groundswell going for these unknown and potentially rockin’ indie games. Oh yeah, best of all, most of the indie games you find are less than 5 bucks!

Also you may have noticed I started with issue #0. And if not, then you did now. So yeah, that’s how I’m gonna do this. I like comics and I’m going to number my blogs as if they were comic book issues. Games and comics seem to go well together.  The nerd communities generally intermingle and are often one in the same anyway, usually some Magic the Gathering thrown in there as well, but we’ll be leaving that out of these posts as much as possible. (evil, deadly, addition….) I have no intention of actually reviewing an indie game in this inaugural post. It’s really just more of a prequel and info-packet if you will.  So that’s mostly why I decided to label is issue #0, kind of like how comics get an issue #0 just to showcase some art or some such.

And now for the showcase! So I just got back from E3. One of my lifelong goals has finally been achieved. You can’t imagine how many points I feel I’ve just unlocked. This industry only event has been just out of my reach for years and I’ve always wanted to go ever since I first remember reading about it in the early days of Game Informer. It was more amazing than my fondest memories of Disney World as a child, though waiting in the lines seems about the same. Everyone’s been asking me how it was and what I thought of all the upcoming splendor we shall see this holiday season and early next year. Well here are my thoughts as organized as I can get them, but in no particular order.

Wii U

Holy dicks. Nintendo… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Look, we all love Nintendo, and I’m sure they will continue to produce absolutely amazing 1st party content, but Nintendo, you are making it really, really difficult to appreciate your direction. Nintendo is pretty much shitting all over my fondest childhood memories. Ok, so maybe this is a little hyperbolic, but there are a million better ideas that were probably floating around the Nintendo offices and this was the best they could come up with?! First off, the name. Wii U? Out of what I’m sure were a plethora of other splendid console names gathered during extensive brainstorming sessions, someone at corporate Nintendo actually decided that Wii U was the best choice. What happened to the Nintendo HD? That was a fine title. It’s straight to the point and lets us know EXACTLY what they intend out of the system.  Even the revolution (the codename the Wii had before it’s release) would have been a better choice. Hell, even the Dolphin! Didn’t anyone else heart break when they heard Nintendo announce their new system? From a strictly retail point, customers had a hard enough time asking for and pronouncing the Wii accurately for the first few years it was out. I wonder what kind of verbal abortions will be imagined this turn around.

The controller: I don’t know entirely how I feel about this.  I’m torn at the moment. My limited engagement with the device left me intrigued, yet highly concerned. For starters, this could easily be another gimmick and there have already been far too many gimmicky games for the Wii. I do like the idea of a touch screen on my controller, but I don’t like the idea of a tablet-like device.  It’s about the size of an iPad and I think the iPad and iTouch, and all that other apple crap is terrible for gaming. Yes there are tons of games you can get from iTunes and tons of people play them, but they’re mostly garbage. People that play games on an iPad aren’t gamers. The iPad makes a poor gaming device and would be an even worse gaming controller. The first game I ran to when I got my chance to play the new Wii U after my nearly 3 hour wait in line, was Ghost Recon Online. I was more excited about the controller than anything considering it’s the only part of the system that I would really consider new hardware.  The size itself isn’t a problem; I was a fan of the original Xbox controllers after all. The problem is that it’s not contour friendly to hands and it’s analog sticks are terrible.  It’s nice and lightweight and there is a ledge (for lack of a better word) on the back that rests on your fingers so you don’t feel like you’re holding it up, but it’s a square. They may have worked 25 years ago with the original NES, but the controller then was a fraction of the size. Some contoured grips on the side would have been nice. As far as the analog sticks, they feel like the analog sticks on the PSP or 3Ds. They don’t move as smoothly as as a PS3, 360, or even an N64 controller. If they were going for the flat look, then they got it, but if they were going for dual analog sticks that felt natural, then they fell flat on their asses and failed. There are many things I like about this controller, but the crappy analog sticks make it worthless for real gaming. Lastly, turning to retail again; how much is this thing gonna cost? Seriously, a Wii remote/nunchuck combo it 70 bucks. I can’t see this thing costing under 100. And how’s that gonna fly with parents? And obviously kids are gonna break this thing. I can see an irate parents face already when they have to replace one of these because of a cracked screen.

I think they revealed the Wii U too soon. I don’t think they had enough to show and they shot their wad before it was time. On display were 2 separate tech demos, one of which had an exciting looking Link vs. a giant spider fight scene. But that’s all it was for: looking. The best piece of eye candy they had and all you could do was move the camera around.  They had this absolute rubbish game called Measure Up, which could have easily been on the DS since all it was was drawing lines and shapes more accurately than your opponent. The best things they had to show were another Mario Bros. game, Battle Mii, and Chase Mii. The Mario game would have been great, but it’s really nothing different so far. I’m not even sure if it was any different than the one from Wii, but maybe with some new features. I dunno, I really didn’t pay attention to that one.  Battle Mii and Chase Mii were the best they had to show, but they were both mini games! It’s a slap in the face. If Nintendo really wanted to excite people about their new system, after much of the gaming community has already completely turned their backs to the Wii, they shouldn’t have shown up with a couple of mini games! Granted they were really fun, but when Nintendo posed the question to themselves, “What would we like for people to take away with them after playing the Wii U?” The answer shouldn’t have been a couple of mini games! In Chase Mii one person plays are Mario using the tablet where the screen displays the location of all the players on the map and the other 4 players use the regular remotes to find and chase him down; basically it’s a glorified version of hide and seek.  Battle Mii had a little bit more merit. One person pilots Samus’ ship while the others are on the ground and from then on its pretty much a standard death match. No new concepts really except the cross-style gameplay, yet still not enough to showcase a new console. Bottom line Nintendo, with a release date and pricepoint both still TBA and no discernible line-up yet, the announcement of this console should have waited.

All right, the Wii U has got me a little agitated right now. I’ve got more to say about E3 and I’m sure maybe 3 or 4 of you are interested, but you’ll have to wait. More to come tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

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