Sunday, February 26, 2006

$20 game of the week: Arc the lad: Twilight of the Spirits (PS2)

Arc the lad was one of the first games released for the Original Playstation in Japan. However, it wouldn't be until late in the system's life cycle that it would come over here, thanks to the now defunct Working Designs in the form of a 6 CD pack chock full of extras in the usual Working Designs style. It contained the series's three entries, which gave players the entire saga of the struggle against Darkness. The thing I liked best was that each sequel took place only a short period of time after the previous entry vs the "thousands of years after the big battle" cop out of %95 of most other RPG franchises. Upon reading that SCEA of Japan was planning a PS2 sequel, I was somewhat skeptical, especially after Arc 3's grand finale (Which in itself wasn't even suppose to be released). This game takes place thousands of years after ARc 3, (but this time is understandable, seeing as how it would be impossible to follow up on the events of Arc 3) and it tells the storyline of the war between two races; Human and Deimos, and an evil empire which seeks to subjugate them both. In the middle of all this are two heroes, Kharg and Darc, both twins being born to a Human mother and Deimos father, but were seperated at birth. You will alternate between both, and see the storyline from both viewpoints, and makes you feel sympathetic towards both causes. WHen the two brothers finally do meet, it's a lead-in to some very big plot twists. ALthough the combat engine has some flaws (having to buy spirit stones to cast spells), the new free walking is a welcome treat versus the grid based Strategy battles of not only Arc the lad, but most other Strategy RPGs. It may not be FInal Fantasy of Kingdom hearts, but this is worth checking out especially if you're a fan of the series.

New Super Mario Brothers info

penny-arcade forum has the scoop from Nintendo Power's latest issue. It looks pretty clear that this is going to have some of the greatest elements of the original SMB as well as a few things incorporated from SMW and SM64. MAY 7 CANNOT COME FAST ENOUGH.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Meteos

In Meteos, a puzzle game from Q Entertainment, you manipulate falling blocks into patterns of 3 of the same color vertically or horizontally in order to clear them from the screen. No! I swear this isn't like Puzzle League! or Dr Mario! or even Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine! Meteos can be played with the D-pad for greater accuracy, but using the stylus to move blocks around is much faster (though you will drag the wrong block from time to time, its quicker to correct that mistake). The real originality of this titles shines through with being about to launch your blocks back up into the air when you've cleared them. They'll take all the blocks on top of them as well, though your planetary gravity will make them fall back down if theres too many. Never fear, just make some more matches and they'll blast away. Action doesn't take long to get fast and furious. Playing the same game for more than a few minutes will mean blocks falling at an almost unmanagable speed! This is where reflexes for making quick color matches comes in handy as you can clear sometimes 30 or 40 blocks at a time with a couple moves. The game keeps count of all the blocks you clear, and you can use those to buy items, planets (each with specific tile sets), and sounds from the game. Multiplayer is also a blast and you can easily slap together a 4 player game off only 1 game card. This is really an ideal title for those of us waiting for Tetris DS to come out or still keeping their DS' GBA slot warm with Wario Ware or some other great pick-up-and-play title. Puzzle games never really die or get old, so even though this one has been out since middle of last year, its still worth picking up if you haven't already. Meteos Trailer

Super Mario Brothers Race - Google Video

Head-to-Headrace on the original Super Mario Brothers. Some amazing stunts used on this, runs about 6 and a half minutes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Soul Calibur III: Arcade Edition

Over the weekend Kotaku got the jump on reporting about the SCIII's jump to arcades Now it looks likea preview from 1UP.com has even more details. Oh man, I just notice the owl-looking character and was about bust out some photoshop, but someone beat me to it! O RLY? YA RLY.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

$20 game of the week: Star Wars - Knights of the old republic

I like star wars, but some people can name every alien in the cantina scene, piss and moan over the extra minutes in the special editions, and argue to this day over weather Han or Greedo shot first, and that's just scary. I'm not big on PC style RPGs, but this game is impressive. From the story line (which evolves as you become good or evil) to the cast of characters, this game is probably one of the better Star Wars tie ins. If George Lucas got the people at Bioware to write the script for Episodes 1 - 3, then they would have turned out much better than they did. My only complaint is the Real time - turn based hybrid battle system. It's kinda retarded looking at them swipe each other and hoping that the enemie's HP falls down in time. It would have been so much more cooler to actually control the jedi powers yourself.

Chicago

Not unlike Ferris Bueller, I spent my day off in Chicago having an unheard amount of fun with 2 of my friends (powet forum regulars TheOrange and Phil Bond). First up was GameWorks. Instead of tokens or quarters they use some weird card system that depending on the day will subtract either points or time after you swipe into your cabinet of choice. As advanced and cool as this sound, the system was DOWN when we arrived and so all we could do was stare at the Mario Kart arcade machine. A helpful attendant gave a free play while we waited for the card system to be fixed and we sat down to enjoy some MK action. The action was less than spectacular. We were not impressed and realized we were missing nothing by not having a machine closer to home. Then the card system was working again so we gave the game another go. Wow. What a difference. After adjusting to the controls and weapons system a little bit we were having a great time. We tried most of the tracks and the ultimate conclusion is if these tracks and weapons don't make it into the Revolution Mario Kart it'll be a shame. Elsewhere in GameWorks, my friends tried Guitar Freaks, a precursor to the PS2 hit Guitar Hero. This game actually did suck, as it lacked any licensed music and controlled a lot simpler. We had to hop out of there and head for another arcade, Nickel City, for the Soul Calibur III regional tournament. Powet forum regular Phil Bond has been in Soul Calibur tournaments for longer than the site has been around, and though Chicago hosts some of the best players in the world, this was to be a great learning experience. Nickel City charges $2 to get in and then after that none of the games take quarters or tokens, just nickels. Dropping 8 coins into the Mario Kart machine there felt like a lot but for only 40 cents a play it wasn't bad. In the back of the arcade there was 2 rows of Free-Play machines. Older games, but still some really good stuff. Mortal Kombat 1, Killer Instinct 2, a half dozen variations of Street Fighter, TMNT the arcade game, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris... yeah it was really worth the $2 to get in there to play all these games until you got tired. I got a bag of nickels and ended up only really spending it on San Fransisco Rush 2049, which I've got on dreamcast in a closet somewhere. It was a real throwback to about 6 years ago. After a breif intermission at a Chinese Buffet and JToy (an import shop formerly located in the Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa), we retired to TheOrange's apartment. There we played some real Guitar Hero, Mario Kart and Meteos on DS, and I got to see what Halo 2 looks like on an xbox 360 (cleaner graphics, higher frame rate!). It was the most sunrise-to-sunset gaming I'd done a long, long while. Why haven't we done this before?

Monday, February 13, 2006

How to make your DS not "lite"

Much ado about the slimmed and trimmed DS Lite. But what if we want a BIGGER DS? You could pop on a 4GB MAX Media Playerfor $225 smackers and make your system heavier and more functional! For just heavy and not fucntional, have some cake Damn I'm hungry and want to watch Lost now.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

$20 game of the week: Morrowind - Game of th eyear edition (Xbox PS2)

This is an enhanced version of the third installment of the Elder Scrolls series, complete with all the content from Bloodmoon and Tribunal, the two expansion packs. I wasn't even into PC style RPGS until this came along. Imagine the free roaming gameplay of Grand theft auto taken to a whole new level, in which you could go anywhere and do anything you wanted. THe whole world is open to you and you do not have to be confined by the main plot. Wanna rise to the top of a guild? Practice magic? Hunt for treasure in ancient tombs? WHatever you can think of it's here. Only few issues with it are the combat, and the fact that besides teleporting, there is no alternative to walking across th eland. However, both of these issues will be corrected in the upcomming xbox 360 sequel, Oblivion.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Peak at PS3 Development Kits

Kikizo Games has an exclusive hands on with the final PS3 devkit running near final hardware, all backed up by anonymous developer comments. The site is probably getting hammered with links right now so it takes a minute to load a page, but its an interesting read.

Friday, February 10, 2006

LEGO Star Wars!

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy sequelizes probably the best Star Wars game in years, and certainly the best based on the prequel trilogy. Doing episodes 4, 5 and 6 I really, really hope to get a LEGO Admiral Ackbar.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Princess Peach - February 27th

Well it's getting real close now to the year's most anticipated game*! Super Princess Peach, the Super Mario Bros. style side scroller for the Nintendo DS, is hitting stores in a little over 2 weeks now on Febrary 27th. Check out the official site which has pretty much no information and a weird little flash magazine maker program. * According to aDam

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nintendogs - for PSP

Well not exactly, but you get the idea . Yukes media is at work on 'The dog happy life' a dog training simulator for the PSP. So far this is a japan only release, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sony picks it up for over here. This comes shortly after internet users leaked that the PS3 will at best copy from Xbox live and it's media center functionality. Such originality from Sony is nothing new though, Nintendo comes out with a rumble pack and analog stick, Sony releases a Dual Shock analog controller with built-in rumbling. Midway puts out NLF Blitz, Sony Releases NFL extreme. Microsoft includes a built in hard drive with it's system, Sony releases a hard drive add on which even has the capability to rip music from your cds. Why set trends when you can emulate them?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Activision confirms Transformers for 2007

Already hotly rumoured, a conference call today according to IGN confirms Activision to develop the game for the Transformers movie. Activision's got some solid developers making Spider-Man and an endless stream of Tony Hawk titles. Few publishers are better suited for this type of license...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Games take top honors on Vaporware awards

Vaporware: Better Late Than Never comes from Wired, and recognizes the most delayed and missed technology products from 2005. Infinium Phantom and Twilight Princess make the list, as do the MIA Starcraft Ghost and the sequel to Team Fortress. But could anything possible be #1 but... Duke Nukem Forever, which has been in development since 1997. DN 3D was the first game I ever played on a LAN, and that was a long, long time ago...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rockstar Double Feature: The Warriors Review & Grand Theft Auto: LCS Hands on

Rockstar is pretty much to the video game industry what the South is to hip hop. They may not be as 'abstract' as everyone else, but they add thier own unique twists to tried and true gaming conventions that, other developers will be all too happy to try to emulate. (See Driv3er, True Crime, and Narc) So with that in mind, lets look at 2 of thier most recent games. The warriors is based upon the cult classic 1979 film. THis is probably one of the most refrenced films in hip hop next to scarface. ANyone who has seen the film can tell that that could make a game in and of itself, but Rockstar manages to add in new content to flesh out the backstory. You'll learn how the warriors spent the summer leading up to the big meeting, get up close and personal with the gangs seen only briefly in the film, and even learned how the gang got together. The game starts at the fateful night where gang leader and visionary Cyrus is gunned down, but in a Quentin Taratino-esque twist, we flashback to 3 months before the meeting, which comprimises 2/3rds of the game. Rockstar attempts to reinvent the brawler for a new generation (an act barely achieved successfully by fighting force and Gekkido on the PS1) by combining elements of thier other titles such as GTA and Manhunt, and they succeed. The environments are large and open with hidden objectives to discover, and some stealth elements and minigames help move this game away from the same ol same ol brawler territory. Also to note is the team dynamic, in which you can use the right analog stick to issue commands to your AI controlled teammates. Although it takes some time to get used to, this isn't complicated at all, and you can do anything from having them wreck the place to watching your back. The game also does a fine job of capturing the look and feel of the movie throughout the game, as much of the last third of the game is directly out of the movie. Several unlockables (including a double dragon-esque arcade game) help round this out and keep players comming back for more. As the latest entry in Rockstar's franchise, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty city stories dosen't do anything that hasn't been done in the past three entries, almost being a step backwards, as many of the features and enhancements from Vice City and San Andreas have been left out. Your protagonist can't swim, targeting is as cumbersome as ever, and many of the missions seem either bland of fustrating. However, as a PSP game, GTA LCS is one of the first real 'must buy' games for the system. It contains everything that GTA is known for (a free open world, a dirty sense of humor, a somewhat compelling plot, and a vast selection of weapons and vehicles to utilize in order to wreak havoc on civilians), and it brings every square foot of liberty city to PSP. Also, this is the first version to feature wireless multiplayer. ALthough it's ad-hoc only, it's still nice to finally have this in a game without having to rely on a PC hack. Also intresting to note is that a save game exploit can be used to load homebrew games for users stuck with an upgraded PSP.

$20 dollar game of the week: Resident Evil 4 (PS2 Gamecube)

Note - The PS2 version may not be $20, seeing as how it just came out a few months ago Since Nemesis and Code Veronica, Capcom's survival horror franchise was stuck in medirocity (The gamecube remake of 1 notwithstanding). At best, there were severly unpolished online games with a lot of potential, and at worst, dreadful spinoffs (Dead aim, RE survivor). Resident evil was slowly seeing itself being beat out by Konami's Silent Hill series and Silicon Knight's Eternal Darkness. However, with this new entry, Capcom finally did a 180 degree turn with the series and made it brand new and exciting for series newbies and longtime fans alike. New gameplay mechanics (Over the shoulder view, interactive cutscenes, new weapon organization and shop system) along with several deadly and unique new enemy types (inculding the boss battles, and who can forget the man with the chainsaw?) help bring back Resident Evil to the forefront of survival horror gaming, if not video gaming period.

Doom 3 Co-Op

Doom 3 is available on xbox for only $9.99 at Toys R Us now. I have a feeling games left behind by the 360 backward compatibility crew will see markdowns like this more often. Anyway, me and Ernie each got it this week and tried the online co-op last night. I realize a lot of people played this game a long time ago, but we found it kind of scary. Its frequently pitch black, and even though we would have one guy with a gun and the other with a flashlight, narrow hallways and frequent monsters teleporting from multiple directions made this game plan pretty useless. We'd run like morons, frantically mashing the weapon switch to draw our shotguns, and take massive damage. Usually one of us was lucky enough to survive these common catastrophes, and wait for the hapless other to respawn and catch up. Its not a bad game, though difficulty seems to stem from lack of vision and numbers of enemies than good AI. These hell bastards just run right at you and don't take cover or anything. This is still scary and hard, just not what we're used to from the trickier shooting games of the last few years. Long story short, Halo 2 remains the gold stanard but there are a lot worse ways to waste ten bucks. Just make sure you play in the dark and carefully adjust your volume...