Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.28.06

It works.

Victor Ireland starts a new company
The guy behind the now closed Working Designs is back in business. Woo? I’m not really sure. The new company is called GaijinWorks, which is probably not a great name. It’s a little similar to a Japanese company trying to do business in America with the name Ignorant Foreigner Enterprises.

Critics are already saying his new company is doomed to failure unless he has learned from his past mistakes, which include having enough principle to ruin a business. Can’t say I blame him for how he handled WD, but then I can’t say I disagree with his critics, either.

Another criticism Vic is facing is that he is no longer needed because companies like Atlus have filled his shoes. This is a stupid position to take. →  Xenosaga 2: Jenseits von Gut und Pöst

Review – Frequency

Tron? Rez? A seizure?

So here it is, Harmonix’s first console game, Frequency. The gameplay is essentially the same as playing DDR with a pad; notes cascade along the screen, and you hit buttons along to the beat. But Frequency isn’t about simulating dance steps — the angle here is on music generation and remixing. In this respect, the game manages to provide a unique experience that is only possible thanks to the nature of videogames. On the other hand, like DDR on a pad, there’s only so much fun that can be had with such basic gameplay. Harmonix tries to add some features to make it more like an arcade shooter, but ultimately Frequency walks a very fine line between being an actual game and just an interesting tool.

Frequency has the player float along through an octagonal cylinder (think Tempest) that sits in one of several neon, glowing Tron-worlds. →  Read me now, believe me later.

Left in Japan: The SNES edition

So many games never made it to our shores. Every once in a while, the sheer amount of gaming joy we missed out on is enough to choke me up. I’ve compiled a list of some of the more important ones and given a personal account of why it should’ve made it, what we missed out on, or other random crap. All of them are RPGs of some form or another and since today’s theme is untranslated SNES games, well, they’re all SNES games. Wait, shouldn’t that be Super Famicom then?

Zylo, is that you?

FEDA Emblem of Justice
I actually have the remake of this game for the Saturn. Unfortunately, it’s still in Japanese. It plays like Shining Force or Fire Emblem but with the ability to side with good or evil and recruit different characters based on your alliance. →  NiGHTS into REaDS

Review – Devil May Cry 2

DMC 2 was absolutely grilled when it was brand new. Okay, so maybe grilled is too strong of a word – the shills at Gamepro still manage to slip it a 7+ review as is their fashion. Still, most reviewers were not at all thrilled, and made it very clear that this sequel was a severe downgrade from its predecessor.

Take this, you stupid wall!

Yet despite all the bashing, the bad words, and the obvious warning signs, I felt compelled to check this game out. Part of it was the completionist in me wanting to finish the entire trilogy. Part of it was the fact that many of those same reviews were filled with glaring errors (complaining about moves that debuted in the first game) and more smarmy jokes than actual criticism. →  A delayed article is eventually good, a rushed article is all we post.

Review – The Ship

This game is 50% murder, 50% fashion.

Wander over to the video game design laboratory, and mix together a bizarre concoction of FPS, the Sims, and old school board game Clue, and you’ve got yourself The Ship Online, a Steam based game developed by Outer Limits. Originally a mod for Half-Life, The Ship followed in Counters Strike’s footsteps of selling out. In this fun filled game, you run around a 1930’s luxury cruise ship, being hunted by other passengers while seeking your own quarry to cruelly execute through any number of bizarre ways.

Ordinarily, I couldn’t care less about a game’s back story, but in The Ship’s case it’s helpful to explain the game’s bizarre premise and how it plays out. For whatever reason, you are on board a Cruise liner courtesy of a Mr. →  [send private information]

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.21.06

New Sony patent for motion sensing camera
We’ll have to wait and see if Sony releases a peripheral with this technology for the PS3. The patent refers to older similar technology Sony has designed so it provides a good defense to the claims that Sony is merely copying Nintendo. The question now becomes is Sony rushing these technologies to market in response to Nintendo.

Both Sony and Nintendo have advantages in how their products are being sold. If Sony’s new motion sensing technology sells well, games that make use of it will follow. But the product is statistically likely to be another throwaway peripheral with minimal support. If Nintendo’s gamble pays off their motion sensitive games will likely far outnumber the PS3’s and be superior in quality. Conversely, if the Wiimote concept doesn’t work then they have a much farther fall than Sony. →  We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we play.

Lame Discussion: Console War – Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s Part 1.

________________________________
Christian: I really want to know how many people are still drooling for a new Sony console. This gen is the ultimate test of the Playstation brand. One thing is for sure: a new PS3 is financial suicide simply because of the defect rate on Sony consoles.

Dan: I feel the PS2 was the perfect system for the casual gamer, and had a little bit of everything. I don’t know what will fill that void now. Besides a combination of the Wii and the 360.

Golden Jew: Let’s not forget the feeding frenzy when PS2 came out. It was hella expensive, hella rare and were the launch titles THAT good? Granted, the games were still $50.

Christian: They sucked.

PS2 launch titles may have sucked…IF YOU ARE DUMB ENOUGH TO OVERLOOK FANTAVISION!

 →  Start your journey now, my Lord.

Lame Discussion: Console War – Part 1

Kudos on joining us for our second discussion. Well, actually you’re not joining us because it’s already over and you weren’t invited. But thanks for reading. The format may look a little confusing but shouldn’t be too hard to grasp for anyone who has ever held a conversation (which may not be all of you, I know gaming is a harsh mistress).

The contenders:
Dan – Really just wants to talk about the Wii.
Christian – Is slightly upset with Sony.
Golden Jew – May be secretly working for Sony.
Jay – Forces others complex arguments into black and white.
Pat – Will never make it through a whole discussion.
Stefan – Is planning to buy his first new console since the Dreamcast.
________________________________
Jay: In this coming generation of consoles, who will sell the most systems? →  What is a post? A miserable little pile of secrets.

Editorial Preview of Trusty Bell

If you’ve searched among any game site not named 1up, IGN or Gamespot (and maybe even them, I’m not sure), I bet you’ve seen or heard something about the Xbox360 RPG Trusty Bell. You know, made by Namco, real colorful, takes place in the pre-death dream world of famous composer Chopin? Everyone seems to be excited about it for one reason or another. Even I’ve linked to it on my own blog.

Chopin onions.

The initial fervor has died down by now, and I’ve thought about the game more, as well as discussed it on various forums of trusted, intelligent gamers. Suffice to say that my excitement has waned. All signs point to this game being pretty average, or at least not as compelling as the initial shock would make it out to be. →  Ys: The Article of Napishtim

Review – Super Smash Brothers Melee

Down and Out: Super Smash Brothers Melee and the glory that is the KO

If Luigi doesn’t come down from there he’s going to miss the orgy.

Oh, 2D fighting games. At first glance, they seem like the wet dreams of nine year-old video game enthusiasts: smashing a whole bunch of buttons will result in smorgasbord of pain and, with a bit of luck, embarrassment for the poor sap from down the street who always comes over because he doesn’t have the coolest system. But after a while, the whole genre seems, well played out. Sure, the numerous Capcom games where various X-Men or Marvel characters fight against obscure characters from every single game Capcom has ever released ever (US or Japan) may be fun for a while, but they quickly lose their spark. →  Readalations: Persona

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.14.06

Phil Harrison doesn’t think Sony is arrogant
Phil is one of my (many) mortal enemies and it just so happens I compiled some of his best quotes and posted them right here. He may be more talented, successful, and smell less than I, but he is still a douche bag. You see, I don’t lie in public. And when I do, it’s just posted on a tiny little site no one gives a shit about. My lies reach dozens of people, his reach possibly millions. He also makes a lot more.

Violent crime may not pay, but amorality seems to be the road to success (fine, so lying for your employer may be immoral, not amoral. But if he is willing to kill for Sony, then perhaps he is amoral. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Review – Devil May Cry

Now that I look back, a lot of action games from the N64/Playstation era were trash. Most involved rudimentary combos, bad controls, and unnecessary platforming elements. They weren’t good at taking advantage of 3d, and looked ugly as sin to boot. You were better off finding a copy of Final Fight or Contra if you wanted a polished action experience.

Even today, it isn’t hard to see why those classic 2d action games were, and still are, so damn good. They realized the importance of simple, precise control that gave the player all the tools they needed to succeed against the onslaught of enemies. Victory required the player to keep a cool head among the chaos, and to find enemies’ weaknesses by recognizing patterns. Easy to learn, difficult to master, the satisfaction of completing a good action game was often unrivaled. →  2 h4rdc0r3 4 U.

The Propaganda Project: Phil Harrison

Phil Harrison — Executive Vice President, Sony Computer Entertainment

A Brit who comes off worse in writing than person.

(For an explanation of what this article is, please read this.)
___________________________________
Bitchy comments
“Nintendo knows its target audience, because it has really narrowed that down; and it’s pretty much defined by a boy or girl’s ability to admire Pokemon.”

“The idea of a handheld rivalry with Nintendo is an irrelevance, those formats don’t appear in our planning. It’s not a fair comparison; not fair on them, I should stress. That sounds arrogant, maybe, but it’s the truth.”

Something the PS2 was widely criticized for – and which Microsoft in particular has played up very much – is being extremely hard to develop for. How does PS3 compare in that respect? →  Apply directly to the forehead.

The Propaganda Project: Introduction

This project will seem unnecessary to many. It’s taken for granted that PR people don’t always tell the truth or say intelligent things, and actively worship Satan (probably). I, unfortunately, am still not numb to stupid things. Misleading statements, half truths, and arrogance still piss me off. Perhaps I overreact, but maybe people with six digit salaries would stop saying stupid things if the public called them out more often.

I have compiled a large body of research on each of the key figures in the three competing hardware giants. Not all fill explicitly PR roles. In fact, most of the people profiled have titles that indicate they should be doing something better with their time than insulting their competitors. Most of the sources for my research are interviews these important figures have given with game and business magazines and websites; sources are listed at the end of each profile. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Review – Kingdom Hearts

I’m not sure why Jay asked me to review Kingdom Hearts. The game is fairly old by now, and just about everyone who wanted to play it already has. Then there’s the fact that the sequel has been out for months. Looks like I’m a little late to the party, but I still intend to crash it.

Kingdom Hearts is a perfectly mediocre game. At its best it was a lighthearted diversion, one that I could play while enjoying my then-girlfriend’s company while not having to think too hard about it. At its worst it was a mess of poorly implemented design choices based on typical Square drudgery and messy, stolen scraps from the Book of Miyamoto. If I had any care for in game stories, I probably wouldn’t have finished, as the game takes Disney characters and plots and compresses them into dull, mediocre shells of their former selves that are more offensive than enjoyable. →  Sid Meier’s Alpha Centarticle

What Loco Roco has to teach us about Sony

Sony has defined itself as high-tech. The Playstation bested the Saturn at producing the new graphical style sweeping the nation(s) – 3D. The PS2 had an emotional processor that would listen to your washing machines personal problems and keep your whole house in harmony. And the PS3 is a gourmet meal that makes all other systems look like that Chinese buffet that gave you food poisoning last summer.

A brilliant strategy for Sony. In a broad sense, the industry is entirely dependant on technology so it seems to follow that the company with the best technology will triumph. Wait, these consoles can play games, too?

Well, that changes everything. The PSP, Sony’s super powerful handheld, is being trounced in Japan by an inferior system that can’t play movies and doesn’t even use an optical format. →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.7.06

Japanese game market doing better
The market is up 33% in the first half of the 2006. Unsurprisingly, Nintendo played a large role. While I prepare the next news point, you pick one of the two following arguments:

– The Japanese game market is being revitalized by innovation. The success of the DS is a sure sign that the Wii will do well in Japan.

– The Japanese game market is being revitalized by handhelds. This does not mean their interest in consoles will pick up.

Ok, now find a friend who picked the argument you didn’t. Found someone? Excellent, now debate.

“Damn, I really need to shave my head and lose some weight.”

Microsoft’s iPod killer coming this Christmas
Funny, MS Word doesn’t recognize iPod as a word. A lot of powerful companies have gone up against Apple and none have taken the portable MP3 player market from them. →  I regret learning to read.

Street Fighter Alpha 3

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is considered by the majority to be the pinnacle of the series, and is very often called the best Street Fighter game in existence. It certainly is the most popular, having been ported to four consoles and two handhelds since the days of the Saturn, and is usually the recipient of the highest scores among Capcom fighters.

My own obsessive collecting of 2d fighters over the last five years can be directly attributed to the day a good friend of mine brought it over for an afternoon. It was the first time I had sat down with a 2d fighter since the old days when I rented Super Street Fighter 2 on the SNES once a month. Things had certainly changed since then. The super combos, the beautiful sprites, the multitude of backgrounds… Alpha 3 showed me that the genre still had a lot to offer. →  Fear the old posts.

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Much like you can tell that Alpha 1 was a rush job, so too can you see that Alpha 2 is the game that Capcom intended to make all along. The select screen is eerily similar, while the segues and sounds between fights are identical. The same core cast remains, while the few additions to the roster (which is now 18 strong) are careful and deliberate (spunky little Sakura makes her debut here, while classic characters Dhalsim and Zangief make a return). Tweaks and improvements make the combat deeper, faster and less obtuse. Capcom has even gone so far as to declare that the story of Alpha 2 replaces the one in Alpha as official canon in the SF universe.

SFA 2 makes its predecessor just about obsolete, and represents one side of the Alpha coin (the other side being A3 of course). →  Fine, but this article then no more.