3.27.2006

Final Fantasy XII

No. I don't have a copy yet, but I have found an interesting article about it.

Nintendo Revolution Set Back

Nintendo has tossed out their plans for the Revolution's release. No longer to be a worldwide launch, it may now only be out in time for Christmas... maybe.

Amid complaints that they are falling behind their rivals Sony and Microsoft, which they are, and the screaming frustration of European gamers who feel that they are being screwed again by the third company in a row, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata is trying to cover the problem by saying:

Just because the others are doesn't mean we have to...

Wow.

Yes, I know. Lemmings and all. But this just underscores the problems Nintendo is having. I went on in a previous post about Nintendo's lack of games to support new consoles, so it doesn't come as any surprise that they are tossing out their release schedule. With the newest Zelda due out in September, it doesn't make any sense to release the Revolution before the release of a large franchise game that will be for the Gamecube.

However, the Revolution doesn't even plan to live up to its name. It's not going to revolutionize the gaming industry. The new controller looks like a remote, for pity's sake! If Nintendo plans to survive, they need to go the way of Sony or go the way of Sega. If they go the way of Sony, the risk the loss of everything while they try to keep up. A problem they've been having for quite some time now. If they go the way of Sega, they lose the console industry, but can then concentrate on developing games we want to play, like Zelda and Mario.

But, before I leave off, I want to say something about the European Gamers that feel like second class citizens. You aren't. You are third class citizens. Half of the most interesting games never even make it to the United States. The problem of game theft in North America stems from the refusal of Japanese companies to release games simultaneously in all regions. The end result is a lot of pissed off customers who will steal a game to play it. Of course, there are times when games that Americans would love never see the light of day, but European gamers get dibs on(OZ for example).

All of this is pitance when you take into account that the new game consoles are not gaming devices, but increasingly multi-functional machines. Don't get me wrong, I love the DVD player in the PS2. But I don't need a home computer in my game console. I already have a PC and it was cheaper to build than the PS3 is going to cost me.

3.26.2006

Top Ten RPG Cliches

They say it better than I.

Grant Frank Pronouns!

Shadow Hearts: From the New World: ah, the complaints I've heard.

The foremost complaint is that there's no Yuri and that Killer looked enough like Yuri that people started screaming bloody murder and theorizing that it was him instead of just a recycle of the character model. So I'd like to take a moment to discuss what Shadow Hearts is about.

Most people came to Shadow Hearts with Covenant, only belatedly realizing that there was a game before it, which also starred Yuri. But if we take into account that Shadow Hearts (the original) is a sequel to Koudelka, we start to have an accurate picture of what the series is about: the Emigre Document. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the entire line up is really about everyone else in the world dealing with Roger Bacon's mistake of even writing the Document in the first place. (Didn't know that, did you? You should have played Koudelka.) From the New World is not the third game in the series, but the forth in an increasingly light hearted franchise.

I'm surprised that so many people are angry about this, that, and the other thing, instead of what they should be angry about: Koudelka and Shadow Hearts were two of the creepiest games I've ever played and that includes Silent Hill. We're talking about a future franchise going from great plots and psychological imagery coupled with fantastic music to mediocre shininess with some nice graphics. In the original Shadow Hearts, any comedy to be had highlighted how dire and frightening the situation was: Yuri's attempt to bond with the Radiance, the loss of Alice's soul to Atman, the Four Masks and Fox Face haunting every step, Koudelka's imprisonment and torture, the orphan's being used in experiments with the Emigre Document, the Doll's House. Covenant had some of the same feel, but not quite. From the New World left it behind completely. That's not to say that FtNW didn't have its moments. The steam tunnels under Arkham University and the basement of Garland Mansion were very true to the creepiness of the originals, but I can't point to much else.

I have to say that I am happy to see new incarnations of the Doll's House, which has been a suitably creepy sidequest in all of the games. If you finished the Doll's House in FtNW, go back and look at the dolls for some extra creepiness.

Anyway, back to the complaints:

The biggest is about Johnny. I've heard everything from Johnny being too young, boring, useless, pointless, and a drag on the game. My God, Johnny, interests me more than any of the other characters! I have a long list of games where the leads bore me to tears, but one of the back up characters makes up for it(like Albel and Cliff in Star Ocean 3). Johnny is well thought out: he's normal down to his sneakers and comments constantly about how weird everyone and everything else around him is. He even goes so far as to ask if he's the strange one. And he's the zombie!

It's really sad. Here's a character that's worth the graphics they put into him and people hate him. Of course, opinions tend to change when you get half way through the game and realize exactly who and what Johnny is and can become. On another note, I find it absolutely hilarious that people are trying to nix Johnny from the game when he's the second best fighter and stellar magic wielder behind Frank and Hilda. If you give Johnny the Saggitarius stellar and max the chart out, his magic is pretty unstoppable. Awaker's second attack, Ether Purge, makes the final boss fight really quick, especially when you double it with the stock draining Dual React.

I've seen a few girl gamers rant about Shania's gravity defying tits. Yes, I know that they can't stay up like that, I'm a girl too, but I'm not going to start with Shania. I'm starting with Frank.

Poor Frank, you say? Why would I pick on him, you ask? Because he hasn't used a single pronoun once in the entire freaking game. Now I could pick on the Americans learning the Brazilian ninja arts. Or, if you did this side quest, the Russians learning the German ninja arts. But honestly, I don't think I could comment on how screwed up all that is without touching on Red Ninja(who, by the way, had enormous gravity defying boobs). Frank speaks about himself in the third person. Constantly. If you showed Frank a pronoun, I don't think he'd know what it was and would try to eat it. And his 'flying squirrel' sidequest to fight a crazy old man was absurd.

Riccardo, to pick on somebody else, would not have been such a useless character if you knew what his root items did before you used them the first time. Stuff that would have been great to know about when I got him for the party went on the back burner. I didn't even find out what some of his stuff was until I was forced to use his character in the sidequests.

Mao: the talking cat. Why are there talking animals in Shadow Hearts? And if someone mentions Tiny, I'm slapping them. Possessed animals do not count. Blanca was cool, but could only talk to other animals and have internal monologue. It was comic relief. At no point could he tell Yuri that he was full of shit, though I'm sure he wanted to on several occasions.

Mao was a bad addition to the game. If Frank's comic relief inspired entrance wasn't bad enough, Mao was worse. Oh, she's great with the magic and the Cat Touch ability does incredible damage, but the fact that no one seems to think its weird that she's a talking cat except Johnny makes me wonder if the whole game is some hallucination that Roger's having. To make it worse, the scene at the end of Mao's Game of Death where she meets her 'lover' is very localized humor and doesn't make much sense to an audience that isn't familiar with Korean soap operas.

Natan. Poor guy. Gun-Fu? Here's this big, strong warrior and they give him a pair of colts. The story behind why he uses guns is cool, but his movements just look silly. His sidequest, on the other hand, is my favorite. Hunting the UMA was great fun. Even with that, I can't say much about him, other than the only joke he made in the entire game was actually funny. (If you missed it, it was about Johnny and pr0n.)

The last of the Valentine siblings: Hilda. Hilda, a character who also blossomed with un-needed comic relief, comes in as my second favorite character. Of course, it wasn't very hard to get that position. The calorie thing sucked(no pun intended) and you kind of ended up with one of her forms and staying there. It would have been cooller if she switched between her forms like Joachim did. Poor Hilda though, here sidequests were mishmashed out of her brothers' sidequests. I thanked God when Keith said that he would make it up to everyone someday about his family. I'm hoping that means an appearance in the next game.

Killer? His name is Killer? The guy was actually interesting and you gave him a crappy name. Way to go.

Lady? Her name is Lady? Thank God you find out that she does have a name, that it's Grace, and that it's all really ironic that the villain's name is Grace.

And finally, Shania. Her fusions were cool and prone to make her go insane a la Yuri if only in the player's imagination, but they weren't interesting enough or powerful enough to make me use her in the game. I actually left her out of the game until I went through her side quest for Tirawa. Tirawa, besides looking awesome, did the one thing I look for in any game: she could hurt the enemy and heal herself at the same time.

General complaints: The graphics were good, but not creepy. Everything was bright and cheery rather than dark and forboding. The music drove me nuts. Only a few pieces had the appropriate edge for different scenes and locals. The pit fights were good, but ultimately boring or failed in execution. The original pit fights, which were one on one and gained you experience, are still the best. The combo system sucked. I much prefer the system from Covenant. The characters recycled previous models and wore outrageous clothing. Honestly, what father would dress his children as Graham dressed Johnny and Grace to resurrect them? The only person dressed in something I didn't have a need to claw my eyes out looking at was Johnny.

All in all, its an okay game. It definitely wasn't good enough to have the Shadow Hearts label on it. Though Johnny's character lends a lot of the feel, talking animals, bright scenery, and up beat music that had nothing to do with the vending machine really destroyed what could have been an excellent game. I know that somewhere, the original developers from Sacnoth are sitting around wondering what the hell has happened to their game and why it seems to be going the direction of crap instead of Koudelka. So I'm going to make a suggestion for the next game:

Yuri from the bad ending with the memory wipe, is wandering around trying to get his memory back. Halley (because he'd be a powerful psychic at this point), someone related to Alice who isn't Geppeto, and Keith as the Valentine sibling appearance with a reforged Tyrving(because Joachim bent it in a wrestling match) are your basic starting team. Throw in a few new characters for flavor: no talking animals or comic relief characters please. Everyone is trying to help Yuri get his memory back until Johnny shows up (maybe looking for Hilda for help), because Shania has turned into a Malice filled abomination. Keep the graphics but mute the colors down to browns, reds, and dusty looks. Creatures being fought in the game should be creepy, not funny in a bad way. Remember: No Outrageous Clothing and No Localized Humor; and we're set. Good luck with that.

Free Online Games

Bowman
Stick figures and arrows.

Shift
Help "Aeris" save "the Planet."

Ultimate Flash Sonic
Take Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, and Cream thorugh more levels of mayhem!

Crimson and Veridian Rooms
Creepy puzzle solving in an attempt to leave a series of locked rooms.

Radial Pong
New twist on an old classic.

Token Arcade
The possibilities are almost endless.

Dots
Remember high school, when you were bored in study hall...

Castlevania: The Blood Way
Fan game for the Castlevanians.

Trackmaster Fantasy Showdown
Stay on target.

Sushi Samurai
Mmmm... sushi...

Bubble Bobble: The Revival!

You know you still own the original.

Ball Toucher
Not inappropriate material.

Pendulumeca
Swing your mecha around.

Family Guy Vs. American Dad
Go Lois! Kick some butt!

BootGamer
More free games!

Hyper Sphere
Space age ball rolling.

Review Index

So I was thinking: why should you read my reviews?

As I read more and more reviews myself, I find that most 'big name' reviewers hate what I like and give bad reviews to games most people enjoy. The result can be obscurity for really good games. Case in point: Shadow Hearts. If it was really as bad as reviewers said it was way back, it wouldn't be a franchise now.

So, if your curious about what I think about a game, go ahead. If you don't care, rentals are cheap and you can find out for yourself. Either way: go out and game!

Shadow of the Colossus
Alone. So very, very alone.

Shadow Hearts: From the New World
What every happened to the creepiness of the original?

Kingdom Hearts II
Xenmas must DIE!!!

Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
Don't waste your money.

Travel Games Index

Peddidle
A game about lights and driving at night.

All My Cows
Because cows are cool.

State Plate
for silence on long trips with children.

Party Games Index

Potato Roulette
Where the chips are down(in a bowl)!

3.22.2006

Serious Games: Designing with Issues in Mind

The Game Developer's Conference opened with the promise of wild new game ideas.

They delivered.

Ian Bogost, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech and Founding Partner of Persuasive Games, unveiled an in-development game about abortion during the Serious Games panel discussion. He developed the idea with the founder of Georgia Tech's Experimental Game Lab, Michael Mateas. The idea is to take on the most complicated, difficult problem in contemporary America. The idea they decided on was abortion.

On Monday, rough sketches of how the game would work were unveiled. It consisted of several mini-games designed to give the player a chance to consider issues related to the abortion debate from several different perspectives. Examples included a teen-motherhood game that charges the player with balancing the mother's reputation with her friends, the baby's health, and future earning power.

What makes the game innovative isn't the subject matter, but rather the supporting technology. If the player were to demonstrate a tendency towards being pro-choice, the game would skew toward emphasizing the virtues of personal responsibility and adoption, and vice versa. The idea is not to support one side of the abortion debate over the other but instead to foster a healthy approach to both sides of the debate, regardless of opinion.

A fascinating concept, but difficult in execution. It's hard to make a game that doesn't emphasize one side of the argument over the other based on the programmers biases, and I'm not just talking about abortion. Bogost said that a working demo may be ready in the fall. I don't evny his position when both the pro-life and pro-choice camps start protesting him and the game, especially if it does exactly what it's designed to: put you in the perspective of the opposite of whatever you believe. This won't go over well with either side.

I personally hope that the game works out. If it does, it will gateway several other new learning and knowledge centered games that the industry, as well as our wired youth, will need.

Persuasive Games publishes training games for schools and companies such as Cold Stone Creamery and Chysler.


3.19.2006

The Kill Everyone Project

This almost ended up on the Weird Factor, but it's a game, so it goes here:

The Kill Everyone Project is a game, with a chat feature that lets you virtually kill everyone on earth with mouse clicks. The site is not sure what happens when the last click is made, but they think it may look like this.

If you need some FaQ style help, hit up the How Do I Kill site.

The site includes tags so you can tell the world on your website exactly how high your body count is.

Sushi Samurai

In this arcade style game, you build sushi while dodging deadly enemies to complete the levels. You can defeat your enemies by dropping sushi on them!

Samurai Sushi

This game requires Flash.

3.16.2006

Pink

The color, not the singer.

In an effort to hook girl gamers, Nintendo is offering the GBA in pink.

Way to go guys. Good job.

Analysts have said for years that more women would play video games if they didn't feel so objectified. Well guess what? Pink Game Boys don't help. I'm sure there's a market for it, but instead of GBA's of every color, why not one color with several 'skins' that you can choose between. I don't know... Maybe a Legend of Zelda skin? (hint, hint)

The GBA is one of the top selling systems in the industry. It's small, portable, relatively inexpensive, and can play a library of over 850 games. But a pink GBA is not going to hook girls you didn't already have. We are getting to the point where systems are so crappy we only buy them for one good game (I'm looking at you Nintendo DS).

If you really want to hook girls, don't give us multi-colored systems (which we buy cases to cover and protect anyway). Give us good games that don't make us feel like a fourteen year old is playing it somewhere just to get his jollies. If Tri-Ace (Star Ocean; Radiata Stories) can get this straight, you can too.

And another thing: You are not allowed to publish more than one Barbie game a year. I don't have anything against Barbie, but I'm tired of seeing all the Barbie games. Magic Princess Barbie blah blah blah does not interest anyone over a certain age (six, maybe seven). If you want to hook us, try something a little more grown up. Here's a free hint: Girls like Final Fantasy.

3.15.2006

Delay of Launch

Sony is delaying the PS3. Again. This time it's slated for November. Though Sony says that it's a marketing move based on problems with Blu-Ray, analysts are saying that Sony is having a hard time controlling the cost of the machine.

In that case, releasing it in November would be an excellent strategy.

With November and particularly Black Friday being the 'official' start of the holiday shopping season, even an out-of-control price (to the tune of $500) won't be too much for Christmas shoppers. Though Sony will be behind the XBox 360 in nearly a years worth of release, the 360 still doesn't have enough games to interest me enough to buy the system.

Sony has the rights to several game franchises that even non-serious gamers will be interested in: Gran Turismo, Castlevania, Shadow Hearts, Final Fantasy, and Devil May Cry. Formerly released games, such as old arcade games and the more recent Resident Evil, are being re-released for Playstation. The XBox has Halo.

Halo is made by Bungie studios. How long do you think it will be before Sony offers them more money than Microsoft for their hit soon-to-be franchise?

So as not to leave out the last competitor in the market, we also have Nintendo. The Revolution is scheduled for release this year with a controller that looks like a tv remote. The new controller is an interesting touch, but it won't appeal to the gamers who really want that 'hands on' feel. Despite Nintendo's drop in sales for the last few years, due to system expansion with little in the way of games to play on the system, Nintendo will survive. Even if the Revolution is a total flop, Nintendo still has their ace in the hole: Zelda.

So long as Nintendo retains the rights to the Zelda franchise, they will always stay afloat. Zelda is the non-serious gamer's big interest and the serious gamer's mecca. Bringing back the 'adult' Link will make sales sky-rocket. Even if Nintendo's system production would go under, the gaming department would survive (if only on Mario and Zelda), much like Sega who now produces games for every platform available. In fact, let's all encourage this for Nintendo. I'm sick of only having one game to play on the DS (ie Castlevania). Nintendo launches too many systems with little to no games supporting it. The DS currently has 159 games; few of which can be found anywhere, including in EB Games. Of course, few of the games interest me anyway, because a good deal of them are scaled down versions of bigger Nintendo and PS2 games.

Anyway, back to the PS3. Pushing it off till November would be a good thing, but stop trying to make it into a home computer. The DVD player and the ability to play previously released games for the PSX and PS2 is perfectly fine. The Blu-Ray is a beautiful idea, but I think you Sony (and Microsoft and Nintendo) should take a quick look at the Gamer's Manifesto. Shiniery games are nice, but all we really want is good games to play. So the new PS3 will let me connect to the internet for superior gaming. Big deal. It just means I don't have to use my computer to blog about how crappy an idea it is.

3.14.2006

Trackmaster Fantasy Showdown

Follow the track and stay on target in this fast-paced, time waster!

Trackmaster

This game needs Flash.

3.13.2006

Mom's Cancer

The ground breaking, 2005 Eisner Award winning, online comic Mom's Cancer is hitting bookstores and comic shops this week in paperback form.

Somewhere in our lives, we've all been touched by cancer. Mom's Cancer is an unflinching look at the trials shared by cancer patients and their loved ones. Ask at your local comic shop for a copy.

3.10.2006

For the Castlevania Whores


Like me! Yes, I admit to being a Castlevania whore. And though Symphony of the Night is considered the be all and end all of the series, my favorite is still Harmony of Dissonance. Now if only we could get Juste into some other shade of pants besides white...

Oh yeah! Here's a fan game: Castlevania: The Bood Way

Have some fun with Ritcher in his kick-ass Symphony of the Night costume.

You'll need Flash for this game.

3.09.2006

Dots!

Remember high school? Sitting around, bored, and playing Dots? Here's the online version!

Try to beat the computer!

3.08.2006

More Free Games Online!

Here's a website filled with plenty of online games to keep you busy!

Token Arcade

The site features many 'generic' versions of popular games found on other sites.

Taking the game to a whole new level!

Move over, Tiger! The Russians want a swing!

Russian Cosmonauts are hoping to hit a golf ball into Earth's orbit from the international space station during one of three planned space walks in 2006. If they do it, they'll break the world record for the longest drive ever made!

How Doping Hurts the Game

So the newest book on doping, specifically about Barry Bonds, has hit the stands. I wish baseball would use the 'Best Interest of the Game' clause and get rid of him. Why? Because he, and other steroid users hurt the game.

Think about it.

Here comes the next baseball hopeful, he's a good player and boy can he hit! He can hit them out of the park all day long. He's aiming for a record. And he's never used a steroid.

But the fans won't believe that. And neither will the media. Or anyone else for that matter.

Why?

Because of people like Bonds. If your a good slugger, you must be on steroids. That's what this entire situation tells us. If you can hit it out of the park, it doesn't matter how many blood tests you take or if you're monitorred 24/7, you're a doper.

Thank you, Bonds. You've ruined the game.

3.07.2006

Radial Pong

Pong is dead. Long live Pong!

This is a twist on the old classic.

Radial Pong

You must have java for this game.

Free Comic Books!!!

Free comic book day is coming! Thinking of reading comics? Want to read a comic but don't have the money? How about expanding your collection or trying a new comic? Maybe you think comics are for kids and need to be proved wrong? Then come on down for free comic book day!!!

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

The big name companies decided to expand their market by offering free comics. The day was so successful that its now in its fifth year!

www.freecomicbookday.com

To become a free comic book evangelist, check out the cool gear and logos for websites!

Here's the free poster!

Go free comics!!!

3.03.2006

Party Game: Potato Roulette

Potato Roulette

Needs:
Big Plastic Bowl
Assorted potato chips
At least one bag of Blair's Death Rain Potato chips or similar habanero pepper chip.
Put all the chips in the bowl and mix well.

Rules:
1. Everyone sits around the bowl of chips and takes one.
2. Every person who gets a habanero chip and makes a face is out.
3. Last one standing wins!

3.02.2006

Travel Game: State Plate

The great American Road Trip lends itself well to this game and will keep the kids in the back quiet for long car trips over several states. You can't really win this game, but you get to see a look of cool license plates and small children enjoy it.

State Plate
You must have a pencil and paper for this game.

The Rules:
1. Every state license plate that you see is written down.
2. Every time you see the same state, you add a dash next to the state's name.
3. Parking lots do not count toward state totals.