Archive for March 2013

Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons UNCANCELLED!

March 27, 2013

You might recall a while back I wrote an article bemoaning the fact that the Korean made XBLA remake of Double Dragon II had vanished. The game was finished two years ago (a reviewer friend of mine played it on his review box of reviewing) but the company that made it went out of business and thus we never saw it. Though, as if to taunt me, the game’s ghost haunted the XBox Live marketplace occasionally showing up when the system glitched out.

Well it looks like some fine folks aren’t letting perfectly good code go to waste. The game has been un-cancelled and is scheduled for an April 5th release!

Let’s read the game’s official description from Xbox.com:

“This is a remake “Double Dragon II” a 80’s game. The story line takes same as original game story. However, the graphic, character, action, system etc. are change. Also we are including new stage and enemy in the game. The player will be addicted to new version of Double Dragon II. Also, characters are undressed from 80’s style, and recreated with modern sexy and beautiful style that amaze you and feel never been experienced world before.”

I know some hardcore fans might be disappointed that the game “are change”, but I for one am excited about “new stage and enemy”. Not to mention I’d like to see Linda be “are undressed from 80’s style”! I can’t wait to “feel never been experienced world before”!

…in all seriousness though I am excited. Good or bad I hate to see game code go to waste. It’s an XBLA game so we’ll have a demo to look at and decide if it’s worth bothering with. But I really wanna give this game a chance. I honestly think there may be more to the game than what players will initially see.

If nothing else, the graphics and character designs remind me of old Dreamcast games, causing this game to accidentally be more nostalgic than Double Dragon Neon.

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According to XBox.com, the game will not have online multiplayer. But it will have a Survival Mode where you can play as Marian as well as a Versus mode with her as well.

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Also according to XBox.com, the original release date was “9/26/2012”. Make of that what you will.

If you wanna spoil yourself, you can see all the cutscened here. Looks like it will skew closer to the Arcade game story-wise and they really milk the revenge element here. Someone also managed to get some Survival Mode footage back in 2011 here (told you it has been done for two years).

Unfortunately, some lunatic decided to make it 1200 MSP. I’m…going the be the only person buying this aren’t I?

SEGA: Where are the Games?

March 26, 2013

About a year ago, SEGA revealed that they had some massive financial issues and as such decided to scale back their game development. Focusing on porting things to digital marketplaces, it seems they managed to recoup some of their losses. Enough, anyway, to purchase Relic Entertainment from THQ.

SEGA had a somewhat strange Holiday season, releasing both the brand new (and fantastic) Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and the much delayed Anarchy Reigns at budget prices. They also released 3 games from their “Model 2 Collection” at only $5 apiece: Sonic the Fighters, Fighting Vipers, and Virtua Fighter 2. After that they released Aliens: Colonial Marines and…just…stopped.

I was personally waiting with baited breath for the release of the original Virtual-On on XBox Live Arcade as well as the 3DS version of Space Harrier (my personal choice for “Greatest Game of All Time”). That is to say nothing of the upcoming U.S. release of Phantasy Star Online 2! Oh I grabbed the Japanese one (it’s Free to Play) but I don’t wanna really sink my teeth into it until it’s in English and I can easily hand SEGA large sums of money for character slots and costume options.

However, then I went onto the Japanese PSN. What do I see there? Virtual-On.

Yes, sure enough, Virtual-On (and Virtua Striker) were both released back in February…but are Japan Only. This makes them the only Japan-Only XBox Live Arcade games! This is utterly baffling as not a speck of translation is required and I’d imagine making the games Japan-Only takes more work than making them international considering, again, they are the only XBLA games like this!

Meanwhile, 3DS Space Harrier was released in Australia back in January but has yet to be released in the states. Again, no translation required.

As for PSO2? We haven’t heard anything about the U.S. release since August!

What the heck is going on?! Is there some unseen red tape seriously preventing the release of simple U.S. releases of classic arcade ports? If so then that is a serious problem, is it not? Why are we being denied these games? I want to give SEGA my money!

If not red tape, then why is SEGA not releasing these games? Do they have a good reason? What could it possibly be? One might point to the purported law suit over Aliens: Colonial Marines but that really shouldn’t be preventing the release of digital-only downloads like those. Money issues, perhaps? But SEGA just bought Relic from THQ! They clearly have the money to release these games, don’t they?

Although in this case I am speaking purely about Virtual-On and Space Harrier. PSO2 is, of course, a much bigger project. However, shouldn’t we hear something about PSO2? Isn’t the Free-To-Play MMO market hot right now? Could it not be a steady source of income to fall back on? How has these been no U.S. advertising whatsoever since August? It’s PSO2! This should be easy money!

 

Dear SEGA,

Where are the Games?! I want to give you my money!

Signed,

GEL

QuickView – DmC: Devil May Cry

March 26, 2013

Me and the Devil May Cry series never really got along. While I enjoyed the combat, the stage design irritated me massively! Combat and the rest of the stage were completely separate and the lack of music in the stage drove me crazy! Not to mention the stages themselves were little more than mazes full of puzzles!

Shoot, when you look at it like that it seems more like an action RPG than an actual action game! In which case, nearly any good Tales Of game completely destroys it! It’s a…weird way to think about things.

As such I really only enjoyed the original Devil May Cry series for about…well the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3. Having said that, I did really like Bayonetta as it almost completely scrapped the stages and focused more on the combat, resulting in something closer to a beat ’em up.

Having said that, I did like Dante.

So, when the alternate universe reboot from Ninja Theory caused such a fan outcry yet received incredibly smug rave reviews? Well I had to take a look. My reaction was…mixed.

First of all, lets clear up the confusion about the fan outcry. A lot of people seem to think this is a lot of fuss just about hair color. It’s not. Dante in this game is very much a different character that to many fans of the original could come off as far less tolerable or outright loathsome.

This is not because Dante was a deep or complex character though. Not even remotely! It was because Dante was a fun character! Lets just be blunt here: Dante was a Ninja Turtle. There’s no other way to put it, he’s a damn Ninja Turtle. Always cool headed, cracking stupid jokes, and excessively over-skilled. He’s completely and utterly unrealistic, but he was exactly the kind of character we as nerds used to idolize as kids except a little more mature.

The new Dante, however, comes off as sleazy. The main menu is him getting a psuedo-blowjob from a bunch of angels (they’re just sucking his fingers while he makes a gun with them, but the image is clear) and the game opens with him at a strip club and banging two of the girls there. From there he adopts this “I don’t care about anyone” attitude.

The result is changing Dante from the kind of guy nerds used to idolize as kids to the kind of guy who used to beat nerds up for their lunch money as kids. It’s awkward to say the least.

In many ways this change, and the general reaction to it and people who were not fond of it represents something sinister happening to the industry and perhaps we were picking up on that subconciously. In many ways the new Dante is taking something nerds used to love and re-purposing it for the “general audience”. This is “dudebro”-friendly Dante and people who don’t like him have every right to be annoyed with the change.

 

Then again, this whole game’s attitude rubs me the wrong way.

 

Ninja Theory openly stated that they don’t like Devil May Cry, that they thought Dante was a stupid character, and that the games were lame. On one hand, having them handle the games could provide a fresh perspective. What would people who don’t like the series change to make it better? On the other hand, Ninja Theory could just be a bunch of elitist assholes.

Guess what? They’re a bunch of elitist assholes.

Now if you’ve seen my Transformers: Cybertron Adventures review, you know I am very sympathetic when it comes to game companies. I know how hard it is to make games, I’ve tried many times in the past. This is not an easy feat and I often feel that reviewers are assholes for not recognizing this. Look at the beautiful vistas and creative art design of Blades of Time, for example! Oh sure I’m hard of Dimps for their awful stiff fighting game controls, but I still give them credit when it comes to their fantastic graphical work and awesome Sonic games. Generally speaking I respect the companies that make these products.

However, I want to fly to Ninja Theory’s headquarters and slap every one of them upside the head. I don’t think I have ever had less respect for a company than I do for Ninja Theory. I have played every single one of their games and every single one of them rubbed me the wrong way, but this one takes the cake!

You see, the game opens by explaining that the current national debt crisis? Yeah that’s the fault of demons blackmailing the President. Meanwhile Dante is the only person who can see the world for what it truly is, able to see past the lies of society, man! That’s why he’s so cool, see! So he teams up with Anonymous to defeat Fox News and the Giant Bill O’Reily head.

I wish I was making that up.

Yes, if ever a game was too topical, DmC would be it. I mean really? REALLY?! This is your “better” take on Devil May Cry? This is the more mature look at the series? This is the more realistic one?! I’m sorry but this just comes off as elitist hipster bullshit. Like someone is trying too hard to be “mature” and “topical”. This is some head-in-ass arthaus bullcrap!

And I really can’t get over that main menu. Was it really necessary to have us watch Dante get a blowjob every time we start the game up? Does that really add anything to the game? Did I mention the damn blowjob is animated?! How about the fact that the characters giving Dante said blowjob aren’t even actual characters! This is seriously just here to be offensive! It’s not funny, it doesn’t have a point, it’s just…”Hey how about we have Dante getting a blowjob on the main menu! That would be badass!”

It’s a level of immaturity that even Duke Nukem would balk at!

Lets not mince words here, I gave DOA5 a positive score, I put 200 hours into Rumble Roses XX, and I am currently playing Hyperdimension Neptunia V. I am hardly opposed to fanservice or sexy women and I most certainly am against censorship. However this damn title screen really bothers me! It makes me ask the question: WHY? Why is this here? What purpose does it serve?

Then again, as you play through the first stage there is a scene where a giant demon destroys a rack full of wigs. One of the wigs, which looks like Dante’s old hairstyle, falls on his head. He looks in a mirror and says “Not in a million years!”.

On one hand it’s kind of funny to see a game make fun of the fans like that. On the other hand, it really gives you an idea of the game’s attitude. It is, again, trying to piss off the fans. It is trying to annoy people. It wants you to be offended.

Well I am. The sheer smugness of this game is reprehensible and utterly ruined my enjoyment of it.

…which is a shame because the game is not bad!

Yeah, sorry to spend so much time rambling about why the game rubbed me the wrong way so hard but I had to say my piece. With so many reviewers claiming those who don’t like the game are just whiners, I really felt like I had to go into detail explaining what it was that annoyed me so hard that I literally could not enjoy the game!

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First of all, the game looks great! Infact this is the first time Ninja Theory’s character models didn’t have me screaming into the sky, probably because of the lack of Asian characters. Oh I don’t like Dante and Vergil’s designs at all, but they don’t look as awful as some of Ninja Theory’s previous designs (though the modelling was incredibly detailed on their old stuff too).

The environments, however, are the real show stealers! They take normal everyday places and twist them into the strange limbo world that  Dante must navigate. Words fly everywhere, giving subliminal messages while pieces of the area fly around creating some of the most visually logical platforming environments ever!

Thankfully, there actually is some platforming too! Yes, the stages are more linear and much better designed with platforming elements and a slightly more clear indication of where you need to go.

The world is less irritatingly silent as well and the music is more plentiful and varied. Indeed, many of my own personal complaints with the series were addressed!

The combat seems a little watered down compared to previous games but only a little. There is still plenty of move variety and a wide array of combo-licious options available to the player.

But, there were still issues.

First of all, while the presence of platforming was appreciated, the actual jumping is kinda awful. Dante jumps like Vega in this game: straight up at mach speed, and then falls like a rock. This is very awkward to try and platform with. As you progress you get a glide ability and grappling hooks which make the platforming much more plausible, but the base jumping still feels weird.

The combat and the stage still feel separate from one another in the stages I played and the areas between combat sections still felt too long. I really wanted Dante to just get there faster.

Meanwhile the combat was rarely enjoyable. You usually had to deal with flying enemies who annoyed you with projectiles while you were trying to face a melee enemy on the ground. I know that’s a perfectly reasonable challenge, but it really got annoying. It felt like every enemy had a stupid gimmick to beating them. I know later on enemies glow red and blue and can only be damaged with specific weapons. That just…sounds irritating.

Speaking of arbitrary glowing, that also applies to platforming. You have a grappling hook and certain hooks glow blue while others glow red and that tells you what kind of hook move you can use. One pulls you towards the object, the other pulls the object towards you. What’s that? Would either work just as effectively in a certain situation? Well too bad because you’re only allowed to do one or the other, which gets irritating when the game decided to have you rapidly switch between red and blue hooks in mid-air.

Then you have The Tutorial Zone. Every time you get a new ability you are taken to this one neat looking parallel dimension stage. It looks neat the first time you go there, but it quickly gets irritating as the stage is way too long and is an obvious tutorial. It doesn’t feel like you’re making progress, just being told in excessively explicit detail what to do.

The result is a game that irritated me and when I was dragged into The Tutorial Zone again at the start of the 4th stage, I put the controller down and quit. I had lost all desire to play the game. It was just annoying. Not hard, not challenging, just irritating.

Yet despite this fact I’d ballpark the game at:

3.5~4 out of 5

Yes, despite all my bitching DmC really isn’t bad. In fact, I would call it Ninja Theory’s best game! The controls are responsive, the combat is deep, the stages are inspired, it’s a really neat game! Hardly mindblowing, but if we were being objective it’s decent at worst and good at best.

In fact, personally, I like it more than every other Devil May Cry game with the exception of the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3 (and Bayonetta if you count that).

It’s just all those little irritants that bothered me. From the smug game direction to the annoying design elements, this was one of the least enjoyable games I have ever played. Again that doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it…irritating. The game literally repels me.

Of course what really drive that point home is the smugness of the reviewers. I’m sorry but nearly every review felt like it bumped up the score just to spite the fans who complained so that the reviewer could say “I’m better than you because I didn’t whine about DmC!”.

I don’t normally name names but perhaps the best example of that would be Benette the Sage’s video review, where he mentions how cleverly the game uses colors by having a glowing red stage where you can’t see which enemies are glowing red. In any other game, Benette would have complained about that and said it was awful and irritating stage design. But here, it’s praised because liking DmC makes you better than everyone else apparently.

If ever a game’s smugness could reach critical mass, DmC is it. Not a bad game at all, but not one I ever want to touch again.

What are QuickViews?

March 26, 2013

It’s a fact that reviewing a game properly takes a lot of time and effort. Unlike movies, which are a sort of passive experience, games require player interaction. They require more physical skill and more time than a movie would to review (in movies, 3 hours is considered long. In games, 10 hours is considered average/short!). It’s sort of a thing that gets overlooked much of the time.

While I personally do not feel you need to beat a game to review it (understanding it and exploring all the options is far more important), one should spend a good amount of time with a game.

This blog being a personal endeavor and me not really being a paid professional, I tend to update very infrequently and only review when I feel confident that I fully “get” the game.

More than that, I tend to prioritize the most overlooked games and thus my opinion on what is actually popular and successful is rarely heard!

Case in point, my current priority is Dance Magic, a low budget Russian made PSN dancing game which has been out more than a month yet has less than 100 people on its leaderboards and not a single review. Now that is the kind of game that GameBabble was built on! (Seriously, I started with a review of Counter Force a rail shooter so obscure GameStop didn’t even know it existed 3 months after its release!)

As such, I present QuickViews! Yes an excuse to do a brief editorial blab about how I felt about my latest rental or how a game I am working on a review of is currently shaping up.

These, however, are not reviews. I might ballpark a score (with gratuitous tilde use) but I intend to be fully transparent on how far I got in a game before coming to my conclusion. I don’t doubt “You need to get further” will be said a lot here, and I accept that. But it will be a good way to chronicle my oddball opinions on games with actual budgets. As such, let us begin!

New Releases – March 2013

March 7, 2013

Hooray! It’s freakin’ March, the end of the first financial quarter and thus the time when we see all the games that couldn’t quite make a Christmas releases. In recent years this has become better than Christmas for me personally, due to my love of obscure Japanese-made games. This year it’s not too release-packed but it still has some interesting ones.

03/05

 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (3DS)

Alright, really iffy on this one. On one hand it’s a 2.5D Castlevania, on the other hand it’s Lords of Shadow. There’s a demo up on the Nintendo e-Shop, I played it and still don’t know if I like it. I like that it shows you where to go and the side scrolling elements make it better than the previous Lords of Shadow (which I loathed), but enemies really do take too many hits to kill, there are too many mechanics in-play, and I don’t like the Tomb Raider-style ledge jumping.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)

On one hand it’s another Atelier game so I have some interest. Not to mention it looks gorgeous. On the other, I hear it has no Japanese audio option? *checks* Yup. It puts me in quite a pickle. I’ve wagged my own finger at a lot of people for not supporting the games they talk about because on minor things, but I don’t consider the lack of Japanese voice acting a minor thing as literally every other installment of the franchise has had this. More than that, I’ve found the previous dubs to be rather painful. Not ADV bad, and even better than previous games it seems,but not quite good enough I’d want to listen to them. I would love an explanation as to why they didn’t include Japanese audio though. I admit the only reason I bought these was because they are super pretty JRPGs and not because of any investment in the series itself. However, even though I’m not a big fan of the series I have made a vow to purchase it immediately if they ever patch in Japanese audio (which this company has done in the past).

Tomb Raider (360, PS3)

Honestly I’m pretty sick of series reboots that try to make characters “more human” as they have all been awful and this one I am particularly perplexed with. It seems to be the single most concentrated effort to make Lara Croft into a “true female character” but much of it rubs me the wrong way. On the other hand, the idea of an almost survival horror-esque game where the horror comes from surviving an awful situation? Kind of interesting. On the third hand, I never liked Tomb Raider. As such I am just listing this as something I intend to rent out of curiosity.
03/12

Darkstalkers Resurrection (XBLA, PSN)

Hey! It’s two Darkstalkers with online play! Sweet! I’d like to give Vampire Hunter another spin as while all my favorites were introduced in 3, the original and VH had far better presentation (as usual) which I did not indulge in nearly enough.
03/19

 Dead or Alive 5 Plus (Vita)

If the Vita wasn’t so stupidly expensive thanks to its proprietary memory cards, I’d get this. I love DOA5 and the included cheerleader outfit for Tina makes it all the more enticing. As it stands I guess I’ll just be waiting on the hopeful 360 DLC.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS, WiiU)

I love Monster Hunter clones but wow do I hate Monster Hunter! Still, with nothing else to play on the WiiU I guess I’ll give this a shot. What is this, my 5th chance I’ve given Monster Hunter?
03/21

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PS3)

This is the first time I’ve preordered something through a company website for a super special edition. When I saw that this game would have the PC Engine in it, I was in. Well, that and the fact that this series has been steadily improving. If you’re unfamiliar, this is the RPG series where game consoles are represented as cute girls who fight videogame piracy. The first game…was not very good. The second was actually decent but had a weak main character that made much of the game feel like a slog. This third one looks to build upon the solid foundation of the second game and improve from there. Graphics look better, there are more characters, things are more flashy, and the plot has me very interested. In this one, Neptune travels back in time to an alternate 1989 and teams up with the Famicom, Genesis, PS1, Original XBox, and eventually even the PC-Engine! Sweet! If it’s as good as I hope it is, it’s getting GameBabbled. This series takes a lot of crap for its overly anime-styled nature and I’d like to give it a fair shake. Similarly, Idea Factory also takes a lot of needless crap! I’d love to mark this as an actually good Idea Factory game!
03/24

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

Personally, I missed out on Luigi’s Mansion. Meanwhile I have a friend who considers it one of the best Mario games because it’s so different. He’s quite happy to see a sequel and I’m pretty interested in giving this a shot too.

03/26

BioShock Infinite (360, PS3)

BioShock was neat but not quite my cup of tea. This one, however, looks kinda neat. I just can’t tell which console I want it on. All my friends have 360 so if the multiplayer is ANYTHING worthwhile then I want it there. Otherwise PS3 because it was supposed to have Move support and I’m assuming it still does. If not? 360. Yeah, gonna wait a few days after release on this one.

Pandora’s Tower (Wii)

Hey, remember that third Operation Rainfall game? Guess what? It’s coming to America…NOW! Yeah, surprised me too! Figured there would be some kind of fanfare or commotion, right? Wrong!

03/28

HarmoKnight (3DS)

Hey! GameFreak gets to make a non-Pokemon game and it’s something musical! Neat!

PreCure All-Stars: Zenin Shuugou * Let’s Dance! (Wii JP Only)

We Cheer 3! It’s We Cheer 3 with Pretty Cure! This is the one time I am listing a Japanese release because I just cannot contain my excitement. THIS is a great sendoff for the Wii! Yes, this is the last Wii game out of Japan.

Fighting is still Magic, but with less ponies

March 2, 2013

Well news just broke on the My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic situation. Despite their best attempts they cannot seem to get any leniency on using pony characters.

On the other hand, Lauren Faust has joined the team and will be creating new characters for the game while retaining the same movesets and engine.

This…is curious. But upon further reflection is more plausible than I thought. You see, you can’t just reskin a 2D fighter as you would have to redo all the sprites. With Fighting is Magic having very good animation, replacing said sprites would be very hard…

…if they weren’t animated in Flash that is.

You see, while the game isn’t a Flash game, the sprites are made in Flash then screencapped and shoved into the engine. This works because the show was animated in Flash anyway so it retained the proper look.

I admit I don’t know a lot about Flash but it is much more plausible to “reskin” a Flash animation. So I am very curious about what they’ll replace them with. They’ll have to remain quadruped and capable of the same things. So, will it be cats and griffons in the new Fighting is Magic? Maybe a bunny?

Curiouser and curiouser indeed…

Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds DLC is Kurisu from Steins Gate!

March 1, 2013

If you recall, I was pretty hyped for the XBox Live Arcade game Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds.

Well the game is out and it is awesome. Yes it does have 8 playable characters (10 if you count alternate universe pallet swaps) and the netcode is passable (basically identical to Code of Princess). Also, while only “Programming Support”, Masaki Ukyo (the Guardian Heroes/Code of Princess/Asuka 120% guy) was indeed involved.

But the looming question has been: What is the $5 DLC? The answer is apparently Kurisu from Steins Gate. This makes sense as she was the most popular guest character from the original Phantom Breaker.

How do we know this? Simple, clicking the “Download Content” button reveals the DLC for -1 MSP. Don’t try and buy it just yet though as it will then ask for 4 million + MSP!

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Said DLC should be officially avalible March 12th. I assume it’s “up” because it’s busy going through Microsoft Certification.