Archive for June 2012

Gaming with GEL – Kinectathon!

June 29, 2012

Why settle for only one Kinect Gaming with GEL when you can get four!

First, after researching the situation on GameFAQs, I retry Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. While there’s an improvement, the controls are still comically squirrely.
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Then, I try the Let’s Cheer! demo because people keep asking me about it. No, it is NOT We Cheer.
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Next I indulge in the bane of Angry Joe’s existance: Sonic Free Riders! It’s…not as bad as you may have heard.
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Lastly, I play the chromakey-tastic Kung-Fu High Impact and get my Nick Arcade on!
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Gaming with GEL – Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (Demo)

June 26, 2012

I try the demo of Steel Battalion in-name-only and discover exactly how bad an idea using a Kinect with a regular controller can be!

Skip to 28 minutes in for the really GOOD part!

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What is Culdecept?

June 15, 2012

With the upcoming 3DS release of the cult classic game Culdcept, Nintendo has launched an ad campaign that has created an inadvertent sex symbol. In their ads, a stylish business woman explains to newcomers about how to play Culdcept. She’s become something of a cult phenomenon with people drawing sexy fanart of her and wondering who she is.

Meanwhile, thanks to the piss-poor reporting of Kotaku, America asks: What is Culdcept? What is this legendary Japanese card-based strategy game all of Japan is drooling over and why can’t I play it in America?

Well the answer would be because the games never sell well here.

Yes, that’s right, Culdcept actually was released in America. Twice! Once on PS2 with a port of the original, and later on 360 with the more recent Culdcept Saga.

They even released the manga here, despite it being based more on the second game and making tons of references to the Dreamcast release (and it’s awesome online play).

So, what is Culdecept? Well the story involves people called “Cepters” using magic cards that can change the world.

In terms of gameplay? It’s Monopoly with Magic cards.

That may sound lame to some, but when you think about it, it’s awesome as it adds a huge amount of depth and strategy to the game. You see, instead of building houses, you put monsters on your squares to defend them. Different squares have different elemental affinities, monsters can affect other monsters, and tons of other little nuances. When you land on a square with a monster, you have to pick a monster of your own to fight it and can equip it with weapons and stuff. The game also features different boards and obviously there’s the whole card collecting, trading, and deck building aspects. It’s definitely an interesting take on the game of Monopoly. Though, like Monopoly, the game takes a good long while to play so brace yourself.

The game can be traced back to the SEGA Saturn with a sequel on Dreamcast that featured online play. What we received in America was a port of the first game on PS2. This port was pretty heavily bashed in Japan since not only had Culdcept Second had been out for years, but the PS2 port lacked the online play of the Dreamcast game. However in America, where we had no Culdcepts at all at the time, this was much less of a noticeable issue. Culdcept Saga, on the other hand, was a different story. Released early on for the XBox 360, the game was actually the most recent rendition of Culdcept (essentially making it the third one) and had a heavy focus on it’s single player Story campaign which was fully voice acted. It also featured online multiplayer (though good luck finding anyone to play with) as well as the ability to make custom characters…though you had to unlock most of the options by beating the game 4 or 5 times to see all the endings. The game, however, was poorly recieved in America as it’s graphics were heavily dated and it has a very very niche appeal.

For the record, story has never been a big part of the games and while they all feature the same concept, all their stories are technically different and unrelated. As such, don’t worry about which one you start with.

If you’re interested in giving the games a spin, they’re not expensive. GameStop currently lists the PS2 game at $7 and the 360 one at $13. While new ones are expensive on EBay, used ones don’t go for more than $25.

And if that didn’t pique your interest, let me introduce you to Corn Folk:

Yes, this is a real monster in the game. You’re welcome.

GameBabble – E3 2012

June 14, 2012

I take a very…different look at everyone’s favorite gaming media circus: E3!

 
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New Releases – June 2012

June 12, 2012

*phew* Now that E3 is out of the way it’s time to look at what games we’re getting this month and…it’s not a lot. Welcome to the Summer Gaming Drought, folks!

06/05

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (XBLA, PSN)

The latest revision of the highly rated Virtua Fighter franchise hits the downloadable market, of all places! Apparently SEGA has had this port ready to go for years and just couldn’t find a profitable way to release it! Well here it is for the low low price of $15…although the customization parts will cost extra, I really can’t complain.
06/12

Lollipop Chainsaw (360, PS3)

SUDA51’s latest game involves a cheerleader with a chainsaw mowing down zombies. Yes, I am very interested in this.

Phantom Breaker (360)

Will it come out or will it not? The mystery continues! According to the publisher, this should be the real release date. However according to GameStop and Amazon it got pushed back to the fall. Regardless, the game is ready to go and I want it!
06/18    Pokemon Conquest (DS)

A Pokemon strategy game based in feudal Japan featuring real historical Japanese figures waging war with Pokemon. Seriously. It’s actually a Nobunaga’s Ambition game in Japan. Making things even crazier, they’re using the Samurai Warriors character designs and including some of the game’s original characters like Kunoichi and Nene. The more you think about it, the crazier it is. But yes, this does mean the Dynasty Warriors games command a lot more respect in Japan than they do in America!
06/26

Record of Agarest War 2 (PS3)

Ready for more kinda clunky semi-erotic multi-genrational marriage-based strategy? Interestingly, this one is  PS3 only.
06/27  

Crimson Dragon (Kinect XBLA)

Imagine Panzer Dragoon, but with multiple dragons, dragon raising, and 3-player online co-op. Now imagine that it’s a Kinect exclusive XBox Live Arcade game. I have no clue what to make of this. I know the Kinect can do Panzer Dragoon-style rail shooters alright, but I wish I could use a controller. Yet on the flip side, this game looks gorgeous beyond words and the feature set makes it border on “dream come true”. Well, I’m buying it regardless! You don’t wave a freaking high quality rail shooter at me and expect me not to bite!

E3 2012: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed

June 12, 2012

There is one more game of E3 I feel is worth mentioning: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed.

At first glance it appears to be “Yet another kart racing game”. But as I explained with the first game, when you think about it, the PS3 and 360 don’t really have good kart racing games of their own. Yeah Sony is trying to fix that but I don’t think that will work out for them. Mod Nation Racers wasn’t very good (not bad, just not very good) and I don’t have a lot of faith in the upcoming Little Big Planet racing game. So there’s definately a niche that a game like Sonic & SEGA racing can fill, and did with the original.

This time, however, they’re doing something a little different. Now the vehicles transform from a car to a boat to an airplane as you race! At first this might seem to be stealing the glider idea from Mario Kart 7 or the three vehicles of Diddy Kong Racing. However, the difference is that here you switch between three different vehicles automatically! It’s just enough of an original idea to make this one fresh and I appreciate it. They could have easily gotten away with releasing the exact same game but with more content (and I would have been perfectly happy), but they actually are trying to do something new-ish.

That said, I do have some concerns. With three different vehicles that all handle differently, it could make the game a bit more difficult to play than it needs to be. Danica Patrick, who will be appearing in the game (yes, seriously), mentioned in her time playing that the plane sections were way harder for her. I’m sure she won’t be alone. Similarly, flight-based racing is sort of an acquired taste and not everyone likes it so to some it might feel like the game goes from “awesome” to “meh” and back again. What’s more, what does this mean for racing wheel support? The first game did support the force feedback racing wheel, but will this game?

So I think my question is will there be single vehicle races as well? A few specialty courses for just planes, boats, or cars? That could both help players train with vehicles they’re bad with and allow them to enjoy their favorite vehicle type.

I’d also like to know if multiple of the same character are allowed this time. In the previous game only one person could play each character and this nearly caused some balance hiccups as some characters had motorcycles and there weren’t enough motorcycles to go around.

On the plus side, the game is coming from Sumo Digital who are bonifide SEGA fanboys. In the first one they made sure to include obscure fan favorites like Ryo from Shenmue and Beat from Jet Set Radio, which pleased a lot of hardcore SEGA nerds. This time around, Gillius Thunderhead joins the fray along with Vyse from Skies of Arcadia. A Panzer Dragoon stage is also confirmed so there will be plenty of SEGA nostalgia for all.

Call me crazy but personally, I’m very excited.

E3 2012: In Defense of Fable: The Journey

June 10, 2012

Well E3 2012 is over and it was…interesting. I think there was a lot of disappointment from people who expected too much (did you really think they’d have enough of a new Smash Bros.  complete to show this year?!). But to someone like me who expected nothing, well, it happened!

But while my goal with this year’s E3 report was to focus on lesser known games, there is one actually well known game I want to talk about. Why? Because it gets waaay too much hate.

That game is Fable: The Journey.

If you’re unfamiliar, Fable: The Journey is an on-rails magic-based shooter spin-off of the Fable series that uses the Kinect. To me, it looks pretty awesome. To everyone else, it looks like betrayal!

So, how can I dare to like a game that everyone else is grabbing their torches and pitchforks over? It’s easy: I “get it”.

First of all, it’s a spin-off. This is not the next “true” Fable game, this is not the future of the series. This is “Let’s make a Kinect game and set it in the Fable universe!”. I don’t know why but people seem to have difficulty comprehending the concept of a spin-off. I remember that 85% of the hate Megaman X: Command Mission got was not because it was a bad game, but because it was an RPG. Even though the game actively told players “Hey! I’m an RPG spin-off of Megaman X!” they still complained!

I think Simon Carter, one of the original creators of the Fable universe, said it best himself:

“When Mario Kart came out, nobody was going, what?! There’s no jumping! That’s not the next Mario game! What are you talking about Miyamoto! I hate you! I’m going to burn your house down and kill your children!”

It’s quite true (even if early Mario Karts did have jumping…sorta). Heck this rings true for more than just Fable. I swear if I hear one more person complain about “Why is Sonic in a Car!” with the All-Stars Racing franchise I’m going to punch them! How come only Mario get to get away with crazy spin-offs? Heck, there’s an entire article of the Fable: The Journey crew complaining about the complaints! I completely agree with them.

Seriously, stop thinking of it as “Gimped Fable on Kinect”, and think of it instead as “Time Crisis with Magic”. Suddenly it sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

Of course it’s here that someone says “But Molyneux said it wasn’t on-rails!”. Well Molyneux is an idiot and you should never listen to a word he says. Seriously, use your eyes. It’s on-rails. What Molyneux was saying was that there are points where you drive a carriage and can follow different roads across the world. He’s still an idiot as those roads are indeed rails in their own right, but yes apparently the game will have some form of freedom even if it is just an over glorified stage select masquerading as a world map.

That said, they are doing their best to go beyond basic railed structure. Aside from the presumed “over glorified stage select” I mentioned there’s also segments where you lean left and right to avoid obstacles or switch between various points of cover. It’s really quite clever and will add a bit more to the rail shooting action.

The stage design itself shows a lot of promise as well. There’s a certain art to making a good on-rails stage. Since the programmer is in control of the action, they have to script things, making it like a first person cutscene yet still give the player interactivity as much as possible so as not to alert them to their on-rails state. What I see in Fable: The Journey isn’t quite the action thrill ride that is Time Crisis, but it does admittedly look far better than Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest.

Here’s where we get to the other thing that intrigues me: the magic. Since you’re doing different gestures to cast different spells, you have a far bigger and more versatile armament than the average rail shooter and how they utilize that could be interesting. I’ve seen standard magic bolts, fireballs that explode into pieces, a magic shield, after-touch that lets you redirect shots, a magic lasso that lets you tear enemies apart and redirect projectiles, and a stone spear and that’s all in what appears to be the first stage! How much freedom this unique arsenal gives will be a good chunk of what makes or breaks this game.

Of course it’s here that people start whining about it being “casual”. Okay, first of all, Fable has been “casual” since Fable 2 at least. They’ve actively made a point of making the game super easy and accessible. This is nothing new. But really, why is this one so extra-casual? Apparently some idiot at Lionhead was running his mouth about it being lighter and lacking the “adult humor” of other Fable games. Since when has Fable been “dark” or had “adult humor”?! It has fart jokes, people! Well now they’re trying to call this game a “hardcore” experience and people aren’t taking it because, well, it’s on Kinect.

Well I can assure you both of these idiotic statements come from a marketing department. When they said it was “casual” it was because they thought it would help sell the game. Now Microsoft is trying to do this “Kinect for Core” thing, showing you can make “hardcore” games on Kinect and it’s…not entirely working. But you can see how that would cause Microsoft to tell them to market Fable: The Journey as a “core” experience.

Well let’s cut the crap. From the trailers and gameplay it does look a good bit darker and the fact that it’s on-rails, moving you from action setpiece to action setpiece as fast as possible means there won’t be time to make stupid jokes or faff about with villagers. We;ve got things to blow up and time is a wasting.

The other thing I can confirm is that the game can be played sitting. They’ve made a point of advertising this, recommending that you play it sitting down. They even went directly to Microsoft to work on the tech to make the seated motion detection work better. So that’s a thing.

So, really, this looks like it has potential. A gesture based magical rail shooter? Sign me up! I just have two concerns:

#1) How well can it differentiate the different motions? Will I try to cast one spell and accidentally cast another? I know they put in voice recognition as another way to change spells but will that help or hurt?

#2) How much auto targetting is there? There’s no cursor and the Kinect isn’t exactly accurate. If you’ve played Diabolical Pitch, you know that auto targetting can be taken too far as it is literally impossible to miss in that game! Luckily you can miss in Fable: The Journey. But can you miss enough?

Fingers crossed this game works out as personally, I’m quite interested and it would be nice to have another non-dancing game on Kinect worth playing.