Sunday, November 27, 2005

Canvascape: browser based FPS?

Canvascape - 3D walker is a nifty script cooked up using the "canvas" function supported by Firefox 1.5 (on windows) and Safari 1.3 (mac). It doesn't do much, just walk around a very basic maze and jump, but its a really fantastic proof of concept that could easily be turned into any number of homebrew game ideas. And since its done in browser with no additional software needed (not even flash!), it could easily catch on with even the most casual gamers. Good work Mr. Joffe. I'll be watching your career with great interest...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

$20 game of the week (part 1.5): Chrono Cross

Who said I was limited to this generation? As we enter the next generation, lets step back a little and peep one of th enicest games of th eoriginal PS1. Since Zac placed in Chrono Trigger for throw back thursday, I'm gonna add in it's 'sequel', Chrono Cross. I use the term 'sequel' very loosley since Chrono Cross dosen't so much follow up the events of the original Chrono Trigger so much as it uses them as a spring board for it's own story. That being said, you don't have to have played the prior game to understand this new one, as it can stand all on it's own. Unfortunantely for many expecting a direct sequel to one of the greatest SNES RPGs ever, that turns out to be it's biggest strength and weakness. The fact that TIme travel is nixed for Alternate universes does little to help. However, those willing to look past it will enjoy it's deep (albet somewhat convulted) plotline with some seriously insane twists, crazy and unique characters, and beautiful environments and graphics. Just do yourself a favor when you go to pick this up: Don't play this expecting Chrono Trigger 2, becuase you'll be dissapointed. Instead pick this up expecting Chrono Cross, and you'll love this game more.

$5 game of the week?! MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf

Found a brand new copy of MechAssault 2 (the collectors edition!) last night in a target clearance rack. it was $20 marked down to $14. When I took it to the register, it rang up for $5. I don't give a crap if its not as good as the first one, any game that doesn't feature a disney channel celebrity that I can get for $5 is awesome.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is commonly referred to by those who have played it as "possibly the greatest game of all time" I've never been a big RPG gamer. Still not. But I read this game had 10+ endings. Most of the games I like barely had stories, let alone endings for them to pay off in! Add in time travel and I couldn't turn this down, I had to play it! Crono is a boy who sets out to the fair one day to meet his friend Lucca, who is going to be showing off a new invention: a teleporter. Along the way he makes a new friend named Marle, who's pendant makes that teleporter go haywire and they all end up about 400 years in the past. While there, they meet a outcast knight thats been turned into a frog, and save the royal family of the day. Thats more than enough story for a lot of games, but this is only the first couple hours of CT. The trio will see the distant future of their world after its been destroyed, travel to the age of dinosaurs, and learn the shocking secrets of the mystic wizard Magus and his connection the world's magic past and doomed future. This is the 16-bit masterwork that offered innovations over a lot of current RPGs by letting battles take place on the main screen and took out random battles. Graphics were colorful and some of the best available on the SNES, with character design by Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama. Music and sound were also just fantastic. Its one of the most popular game on Overclocked Remix. I also found an orchestral version of the main theme years ago you can download here. Even though its a pretty old game and not nearly as popular as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger retains a large fan following. One group even tried to remake the game. This ambitious 3D update was going to be released on the gamecube, xbox, and PC, until the Squaresoft legal team stepped in. Even though it'll never finish development, the site has amazing pictures and a trailer. Chrono Trigger did have a semi-sequel called Chrono Cross but it hardly does the original justice. Its a well received RPG in its own right, but Chrono Cross does parallel dimensions instead of time travel, and the links to the orginal game are ambiguous at best. Chrono Trigger was re-released on the PS1 in 2001, and that version is much easier to find than the SNES original cart and includes new anime cut scenes. The inspiration for this week's throwback comes from Blue Dragon a new game from Mistwalker on xbox 360. Blue Dragon will reteam the original CT team for the first time of creator Hironobu Sakahuchi, musician Nobuo Uematsu, and character designer Akira Toriyama.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Madden curse strikes again

Here on the eve of the 360 Launch, Madden CoverboyDonovan McNabb will be out for the rest of the year. This hasn't exactly been an easy year for the Eagles... More on the Madden Curse Thanks to Crazy for the link, and condolences to RJK for the Eagles.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

知らゲー Soul Calibur 3 character creator gone mad!

I don't speak the language so I can't read anything on this page. But these are some very creative uses of the Soul Calibur 3 character creator, showing off just how customizable and robust the PS2 engine can be.

$20 dollar game of the week: Panzer Dragoon Orta

THe original Panzer Dragoon was one of the Sega Saturn's flagship titles. The 3d graphics combines with classic shooter action made this a hit for Saturn owners. The game was followed by two sequels before the Saturn was laid to rest. Several years later, Sega would revive the franchise on Xbox, and push both it, and the Xbox's library to greater heights. The tough difficulty, numerous Unlockables, (including the original Panzer Dragoon), beautiful graphics, and excellent soundtrack combine to make this gaming expierence surrealistic. One could only imagine what a follow up on the 360 would be like.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Throwback Thursday: X-Men games!

Alright, lets just pretend I posted this thursday like I wanted to instead of saturday morning. X-Men have had a pretty interesting past on both consoles and in arcades. Going back so far to the NES X-Men Game isn't such a good idea, and everyone knows about Legends, so I'll try to show off some of the good stuff in between. Arcade's Revenge was a somewhat terrible game from Acclaim (surprised?) released on the SNES, and mostly starred Spider-Man anyway. Mutant Apocalypse was released by Capcom and as you can probably guess, it was a LOT better. Capcom would go on to release some of the best known and loved X-Men titles, including the arcade game Children Of The Atom (pictured to the left). Sega wasn't out of the running on the X-Men fun. They developed 2 games exclusively for the Genesis. The first called simply X-Men I'm kinda low on info. I never played it, and the inter-net doesn't seem to have any good dedicated page about it. X-Men 2: Clone Wars was for whatever reason better remembered, and one I managed to rent once. Back then pretty much ALL video games were platform/action adventure games, and this was a pretty standard one. One game that seriously stands out above all of these was Konami's 6 Player X-Men Arcade Machine. This is to date probably the biggest game cabinet I've ever seen that didn't involve a light gun or steering wheel. Konami made some great 4 player brawlers with TMNT and The Simpsons, but they obviously knew they wanted to go better than before. 2 Monitors side by side gave many players widescreen gaming well ahead of Microsoft's HD Era, and players got to mash attack and mutant power buttons through a hundred billion zillion sentinels and gladly stuffed more quarters in when they lost their lives. As a lad, I attended Wizard World in Philadelphia one year and was treated to a free play machine at the marvel both where myself and a rotating cast of comic geeks pounded through the entire game. "Welcome To Die!"

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mario Kart DS

Simply put this is a solid game. Was there any doubt? It's Mario Kart. The SNES version was awesome and every version since then has improved upon this solid formula. Granted this game is not a technical improvement to the Game Cube version by a long shot. The graphics are pretty much on par with the N64 version but still different in a lot of ways. They look nicer in that they're less pixelly but still the 3D doesn't seem to be quite as 3D looking if that makes sense. The controls are good. It's Mario Kart. Same basic stuff. Nothing ever really changed. They respond well and stuff. So what's new? Tons! Items and items the end of which I haven't seen. Stuff like a bullet bill which makes your kart turn into a bullet or a blooper to throw ink on an opponent's face. Kart selection is supped up a bit. You can see way more stats about how the kart is going to behave in the style of F-Zero or something. Better than the simple star rating system of Double Dash. Tracks! Lots of track. Old tracks from all kinds of games as well as new ones. They're pretty faithfully ported. Online play is by far the big reason to get this game though! I mean what's the point in playing a single player Mario Kart? I think I played Double Dash in single player mode for a bit the first day I had it and after that exclusively played multiplayer. This is why I never bothered with the GBA version. So now finally Nintendo is starting to get into online play. Better late than never! Setting up online play is simple if you have a wireless router and retardedly inconvenient if you don't. It requires a USB dongle which only runs on crappy Windows and needs to be bought from Nintendo's online store for more money than you'd spend on most wireless routers anyway. So good luck to the rest of you. I got mine set up to connect to my router in a matter of minutes by going through the intuitive menu. And what needs to be said about the online play? Online games = fun. Mario Kart = fun. Online Mario Kart = super fun. You can select play modes between "Region" (I'm not sure what my region is or how Nintendo determines that) "Worldwide" (everyone?) "Friends", who you specifically add using a unique code each person has on their game, and "Rivals" which I don't understand yet. Waiting for others to join your game can take an annoying amount of times and then you often end up getting booted from the game before it starts for no reason. Once you've started racing with a group of 2 to 4 you do a few races and then points, which are awarded based on how you finish, are added up and a winner is decided. On a more frightening note there's this whole setup when you go online about how a unique ID from your system is being loaded onto your game so that you will never be able to play it in another system and go online. Seems like they're going balls to the wall with what I guess they think is a copy protection thing but is more just an annoying prohibitive nerfing of the game very similar to the crap Sony is rumoured to be doing for the PS3 because no used copy that has gone online will ever be playable. I sure hope my system doesn't die. And apparently I suck at Mario Kart. More on the game from Nintendo.com. Official site.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Midway Arcade machine arrives at Target

While not officially scheduled for release until November 15, the Midway Home Use Arcade Machine arrived at my local Target tonight and I took some pictures. This is a demo unit that was set up in the electronic department. I apologize if these are kinda blurry, but the camera phone is the only way to go if I'm sneaking around taking pictures of stuff I'm not supposed to. Full Unit Demo sticker In Box 6 Button controls! None of these games use 6 Buttons so hopefully you will be able to hook up game consoles into the arcade controls instead of just the monitor as I've seen previously reported. Also I should note this unit is in fact very small. Its definitely too small for an adult my size to play comfortably unless I get a stool to sit down or put the cabinet on a riser. It wasn't long after it was set up that I spotted a young girl playing, and it became fairly obvious to me that this box is for kids. Even though the price tag ($499!) is high, its a treat for children of well-to-do parents. Overall I like what I see, and even more I like the concept and possibilities. 3 Years ago Activision released their first "TV Games" collection of 2600 titles and the tech has become so popular theres are dozens of old games in controllers and even new games (with Batman, Star Wars, Sponge Bob, etc). If this Midway cabinet takes off, I can easily see a similar Namco or Capcom box hitting the market in a couple years. digg

Microsoft Releases 360 Backward Compatibility List

213 xbox games are listed as being supported at launch, but looking at the list its kind of amazing how many terrible games are on the list. I'm guessing these must've been easy to port over because I can't think of a reason Doom, Farcry, SW Battlefront, and PGR 2 are not supported, but Barbie Horse Adventure is.

$20 game of the week: Marvel vs Capcom 2 (xbox, PS2, dreamcast)

This was capcom's last game with the marvel Licence before it went to Activision and it went out with a swan song. Three on Three tag, the biggest line up at the time (featuring every Marvel Character who has ever appeared in a Capcom fighting game) which included old favorites from Ken and Ryu to Resident Evil's Jill Scott, Son son, and even Cable and marrow. Plently of unlockables gave this replay value, and the backgrounds, music, and 4-button control scheme combined to make this the perfect party game. Alas, there was no real storyline(as if Capcom games were known for them anyway) or ending, equating this to the 'Dream matches' of KOF 1998 and 2002.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Metroid II

In a series as loved and revered as Metroid, its weird that this game gets so little love. Metroid II: Return Of Samus was released on the orignal Game Boy in 1992. While it was obviously shackled by the smaller screen limited to 4 colors, this sequel was better than the original Metroid in every single way I can think of. It offered a much larger map, many new weapons, more abilities, and a save feature to replace the old password system. Controls follow the same pattern metroid did on the NES. A jumps, B fires a weapon, and select toggles between missles and beam. Tap down once and Samus will crouch, tap a second time and she'll roll into a ball. The space jump appears for the first time here, allowing Samus to jump infinitely. You'll also find the spiderball upgrade, which will let samus roll along any wall or ceiling in the game. While its time consuming, I used those 2 abilities to search every single room for upgrades many many times. Bombs return for morphball mode, as does the screw attack. In addition to the Ice beam and Wave beam so popular in the original metroid, you'll find the Spazer Laser (which fires 3 beams at once for a wide shot) and the Plasma beam, which is the strongest shot in the game. Due to the introduction of Metroid Prime into the mythos, it can get kinda fuzzy when this takes place. Safe to say its before Super Metroid. Samus Aran lands on the Metroid homeworld of SR388 on a mission to exterminate them once and for all, and she gets more than she bargained for. The metroids mutate and evolve far past what she saw on Zebes, and a series of earthquakes in the game constantly open up new areas to seek them out. Metroid encounters are frequent, and while you'll fight some of the same mutations several times, it can still be pretty tough. With the lovingly remade Metroid:Zero Mission on GBA last year, I can only hope that Metroid II finds its way to a wider audience in some form. The Revolution download service will hopefully offer it. If you're a recent metroid fan, and didn't play this one back in the day, its a great game. Well worth the time looking in game boy bargain bins.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

360s at Target... with a contest?

Here are a couple pictures I snapped on my camera phone of the Xbox 360 demo unit as it arrived packaged at a Target yesterday. Its due to be set up by November 13. You can see the Samsung flatpanel TV and a giant box of display and P.O.P. stuff, but in the second picture you'll note that one of the boxes has a pink sticker that says "Contest Prizes" You can be sure I'll find out what the contest is and what the prizes are as soon as possible. More Information on Target Xbox 360 Kiosks

$20 game of the week: Def Jam: FIght for New York (Gamecube, Xbox, PS2)

In 2003, EA released Def Jam Vendetta, which was not only one of it's better non-sports titles, but a successful fusion of Wrestling and Hip hop. COmbined with the engine from aki, players could take control of hip hop heavyweights such as DMX and Scarface and pit them against a off the wall cast of oddball characters. It was good fun while it lasted, but something always felt missing and th egameplay was limited. Enter 2004's follow up, Def Jam: Fight for new york. WIth a deep story mode, customization options, a create a character option, a deeper fighting system, a cast twice as large as the first, and varied match types, EA once agains succeeds in creating a merger of hip hop and gaming that is suprasses only by GTA San andreas, which was released the same year. Although the CAW is limited (no female wrestlers, only 1 character per profile, limited physical tweaking options) and the story is still linear, this makes an excellent non-online multiplayer game, and it leaves us ambitious about what the next Def Jam will be like.

New NES knock-off is crap

In a somewhat unsurprising review, Vintage Computing and Gaming has declared: "The Generation NEX Sucks" and revealed that the system is incompatible with many games acts worse than a buggy emulator on others. I was looking forward to seeing products like this make the market, but if this is going to be the quality then we're all better off getting our revolution and downloading NES games. Or just getting an old system off ebay...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix" - Feet On Impressions

What a game! It mixes two great franchises! Sure Mario's been popping up in pretty much every type of game lately but it's Mario! What's not to like? Dance Dance Revolution - Mario Mix takes a solid game which hasn't done anything innovative in years and injects new life into it. Basic gameplay is just like the DDR games from the Dreamcast, PlayStation or Arcade. You have the dance pad and the arrows flying threw the screen to music that make you jump around like no one's watching. The new stuff here is pretty cool though and makes the game worth playing. In many levels there are new things introduced as basic as Goombas substituting arrows or as annoying as hammers comming at the arrows at angles making it near impossible to predict what diretion to stomp. So much to say the hammer brothers in this game live up to their Super Mario Bros. 1 tradition of not being the obvious main boss of the game but still being the hardest guys you'll have to face off against. At first the only real playable mode is the story mode. Unlocking songs and mini games for other modes is done by playing it through and, once all the basic songs and games are unlocked, extra ones are unlocked by finishing certain modes with certain characters or buying things in shops along the way. A calorie counting mode is kind of cool. But weighing in at a whopping 160lbs at 6'2" I'm don't have the kind of stature which necessitates me actually knowing what a calorie is. I supposse this will come in handy for all the fatties out there. Mini games in this are a cool addition but not all that well executed. There are things like a whack-a-mole game substituted with Goombas, a few that are reminiscent of the old "Track and Field" games using the "Power Pad" for the NES and some other things that might as well be done with a controller as the pad does nothing to facilitate them. They all sort of play out like frustrating Mario Party levels since beat pads are just harder to use than a controller. Still they are a nice short distraction from the dance levels and will probably cause for some fun multiplayer mode... but I wouldn't know because I haven't had the chance to try out multiplayer. Why did Nintendo feel it was unnecessary to sell additinal beat pads as accessories in stores where this game could be bought? This gives people the option of buying two full copies of the game at a prohibitive price or buying the weak sauce Madcatz 3rd party pad and game which I'm sure suck. I suppose it's better than nothing that the pads can be ordered from Nintendo's online store. The price is pretty good at 20$ US (23.50$ for us Canadians). Though shipping is said to take 1 to 4 days at the cheapest option my order status is still shown as "Preparing Order" since my order was placed Friday (4 days ago) so this is obviously not as convenient as just picking one up at the store. I'm still not sure if this is better or worse than last year when Canadians just couldn't order from Nintendo's online store at all... I read on Internet that additional pads would be for sale starting November 14th though I can't verify this. Maybe they're waiting until then to ship my damned thing... The pad itself is good. It's well padded so you won't hurt your feet unless you play too much (guilty). Foolishly they have only included arrows, A, B, Z and start buttons. Why they didn't put x and y in the lower corners is a mystery to me. I know the game doesn't use them but the space isn't used for anything and it's fun to use the beat pad to play other games. I managed to get past the first level of Super Mario Bros. 2 with it... A big downside to the game is the fact that Mario and Luigi are the only playable characters. I was hoping to get down with Peach and maybe look up her skirt! So much to say I highly recommend this game to annyone who likes Dance Dance Revolution in any way. And if you're that one guy who has never actually played DDR then get off your ass and try it out. It might help you drop a few of those pounds.