The beginnings of a Culdcept addiction

I first saw Culdcept a while back, when it was just released. The back of the box made it seem pretty interesting, but the price just wasn’t right for the game – I’d seen maybe one review and it was lukewarm at best.

The other day, though, I saw it for $10 and thought, “Perfect.” I snatched it up and I think I’ve found a new addiction.

What makes this game most interesting is, naturally, the gameplay. It’s perfectly suited to the card-collecting aspects of Magic: The Gathering (or pick your favorite new CCG), while it retains some of the feel of classic board games like Monopoly. The artwork on the cards reinforces the former, while the cartoony feel on the game board complements the latter.

If you’ve played Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering, this is somewhat of a combination. →  Up to 6 billion readers.

Review – Harvest Moon DS

Seriously, did you ever think a farming simulator would be a fun game to play? Of course it would be, how silly of me. Finally appearing on the DS, Harvest Moon DS brings the enjoyable horticulturalist gameplay to the dual-screened handheld, but not without its fair share of problems.

In Harvest Moon, you play as a young man in charge of his family’s farm. In all previous HM games, there has not been any back-story, so don’t be surprised that you don’t find one here, either. Just know it’s up to you to restore your family’s farm to its once graceful status.

Cat…hand stroking it…nope, I can’t think of anything clever to say about this picture.

The only thing that could be remotely called a storyline in HM is the argument between the Harvest Goddess and the Witch. →  Readius III and IV

Frets on Fire

You knew it was going to happen eventually. Just like DDR before it, Guitar Hero has inspired people to emulate the game on the PC. Frets on Fire is an open source GH project for all major Operating Systems, and tries its best to emulate the basic structure of the game, as well as support song creation. You’ve probably heard about it on some game site or another. I’ve known about it for a few months now, but I never gave it a shot because of one huge, glaring problem; the basic game requires you to use the keyboard, holding it in place like a guitar.

Simple, but workable

I don’t think I need to tell you that this is the Stupidest Idea of 2006. But fear not! It turns out that, for a small financial investment and absolutely 0% tinkering, you can get the game to work with a Guitar Hero SG controller. →  I’ll read you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

Best Game Ever – The history of puzzle games leading up to Baku Baku

Some day in the far off future, Tetris will be played with six screens. One screen will feature the gameplay while the other five will show images of unrelated games being automatically played. All five other games will be superior to Tetris.

Once upon a time there was an evil Communist engineer named Alexey Pajitnov. Don’t bother asking Alexey if he is an evil Communist because, like all evil Communists, he signed a blood oath with Stalin (and possibly Hitler) to hide his menacing ways should Soviet Russia ever fall. Anyway, Alexey was a genius and in 1985 he bestowed upon the world a video game he liked to call Destroy American Freedoms. This was later renamed Tetris.

The premise of Tetris was to line up American freedoms in order to destroy them. →  Katamari Damaread

The One Year Delay

The holiday season is upon us, and this time its not just a few big games coming out; we’ve got two new consoles as well. I’d like to try a little experiment. Would you like to help?

I hate making accusations against big name game journalists, because I’m trying to write myself, but there is one trend that I notice among them that I just can’t stand, and I’d like to see if its just me, or if it really is true. I call it the One Year Delay, and it works like so:

– A big, hyped title is released, and gains huge scores and heaps of praise when the reviews pour out. We here about it in blogs, editorials etc. for some time afterwards. The fans like it too, but even the most die hard begin to admit that there are some problems with the title, none of which are ever mentioned in any of the reviews. →  Snap! Crackle! Read!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.27.06

The proud owner of four Xbox 360s.

360 breaks all sorts of records in Australia
Watch out Master System, there’s a new kid in Australia. By selling over 100,000 units, the 360 has become the fastest selling console down under. The first European settlers in Australia were criminals and we have Australians to blame for those rambunctious reptile lovers, Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter (“that’s not a terrible accent, THIS IS A TERRIBLE ACCENT”). Clearly Microsoft must take these facts into account before celebrating the good news.

Gamasutra interview Clover’s Inaba
Prepare yourself for an only marginally related rant. Oh, and read the interview, it’s interesting.

The way the games media goes from one golden boy of creativity to the next is pretty odd. Why do gamers get three or four different interviews from Inaba but not one from Takahashi, Ueda, or Mizuguchi? →  Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 5: Golden Post

A Luminous Experience

As of now, my job as a QA tester is becoming dreadfully boring. They don’t have any games for me to test anymore, gosh darn it! This has lead me to pull out the ol’ PSP and get some Lumines sessions going.

I bought this game when I first got my PSP over a year ago, and it’s still one of the system’s best games. Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a true pioneer in what I like to call “audio games.” He puts far more time and effort into the audio presentation than anything else in his games. Go back and play Rez and you’ll see what I mean.

The cool thing that I recently discovered with Lumines is the menu’s background techno music. If you’ve ever accessed a few of the menus, you’d see that each successive menu adds a new beat to the song. →  In all ages, hypocrites, called producers, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called publishers.

How we remember games

Our long-term opinion of a game may have little to do with how good a game actually is. How we remember games is almost as important as the games themselves. The way we remember any medium greatly shades our opinions, whether it be a game, a book or a movie. Games, unfortunately, share certain properties of the other two media that make each prone to being colored by memory.

First, I will explain what about books and movies are different from video games in regards to how we remember them. Books are highly personal experiences; no one can walk by and share some of a book with you. All of the action, drama, character’s introspection and so on happens in your mind and in your imagination. In this regard, they are different from both movies and games. →  What is word? Baby don’t read me.

Chris loves Jesus part 2

Continued from Part 1

The casual (or obsessive?) reader may ask, “How does one foster a personal relationship with Jesus?” The best way for me was to translate it.

Don’t look at it too long or your brain will melt.

Long, long ago in a mindset far, far away I decided to translate a Famicom game by the name of Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster. Despite all the difficult aspects of both translation and ROM hacking, I managed to create a patch that (I hope) carries across much of the feeling of the game.

The first task, naturally, was to figure out what in the hell was happening in the game. I could figure out the basics between context and the words I already knew. From there, I ended up using an electronic dictionary to figure out the rest. →  Lame is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Oh, Aren’t You an Adorable Little VG Cat!

If anyone has paid attention to Joystiq’s weekly WebComic Wrap-up, you’d no doubt run into a comic named VG Cats. I love this webcomic. The style is great, and the humor is right on key. The guy doesn’t go too deep into the whole video game lore thing (there’s a lot of Zelda and Final Fantasy VII commentary), so you don’t have to get out your Ultimate Videolamer’s Guide to Everything About Gaming and Dating(tm) to understand it.

He’s got 215 comics on his site, and most of them are hilarious. If you were looking for a great comic strip on video games, you can do no wrong with VG Cats.

And before I get bullied, I will say that I also love Penny Arcade. Those guys are great, but I prefer VG Cats’ continuous commentary on video games. →  Speak softly and carry a big post.

Chris loves Jesus part 1

I’d like to tell you all a little story about me and my friend named Jesus. No, not that Jesus… This Jesus doesn’t save. It uses passwords instead.

I like women who match their bedrooms.

When it comes to obscure and unknown games, it takes a lot to get much less known than Jesus: Dreadful Bio-Monster. Although it came out on several systems in Japan, it saw no English release. Despite the – somewhat recognizable – name, the game bears no teachings, or indeed any characters somewhat resembling, the well-known founder of Christianity (in fact, the name refers to a space station in the game). There is a bio-monster, however, and it inspires dread.

Jesus is an adventure survival horror game developed by Enix and published by King Records. While most console adventure games have some element of action, Jesus more resembles a text-based adventure. →  If you die in the article, you die in real life.

A tale of E3, education and a fairy

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time I worked with a magical 60 year old fairy. She saved me from the mundane tasks I was hired to perform and charged me with studying the field of video game education.

Suddenly, work became almost pleasant and thoughts of suicide (through suffocation by books) were pushed to the back of my subconscious. Little did I know, the Middle East was secretly and silently watching, waiting for a moment to pounce and destroy my happiness.

With the fairy behind me, I organized a presentation on video games and education for librarians across the country (or at least East Coast). Despite my inability to articulate my thoughts coherently during the question and answer sessions (though it may have been academics inability to ask questions that weren’t abstruse and pompous), the overall presentation was successful enough to secure me tickets to E3 in Los Angeles. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Eulogy for the GameCube

What can I say, GameCube? You had a good run these last five years, but your last exclusive release was Baten Kaitos Origins, back in September. Not even Nintendo themselves stuck it out until the end, moving Super Paper Mario onto the Wii. I’m sorry GameCube, but it’s time to say goodbye.

But let’s not look at your failures too much. Let us remember you as you were: a console that was home to some truly great games. You deserve it. And don’t worry about all those haters on the Internet, calling you a failure. In time, they’ll begin to understand.

You were released on Nov. 18th 2001 to a somewhat muted launch. In a surprise attack, Microsoft’s Xbox and their Halo stole much of your spotlight. I remember watching the video review of Halo on GameSpot, where the reviewer couldn’t sleep at night because he was playing Halo too much. →  I got served!

DIY PSP Car Stereo

Here’s a tip for you do-it-yourselfers: turn your dust-infested PSP into your car stereo system. I was completely surprised (and annoyed at myself for not realizing sooner) that you can use an iPod tape-deck adapter with your PSP. Some of you have may already done this, but I went one step further. I applied velcro strips on the bottom of my PSP and a vacant lot on my car’s console, and viola! A fairly stylish car stereo system.

I’ve included a pic to give you an idea on how to set it up. Just make sure to get somewhat industrial-strength velcro strips to use, as pulling the PSP off the dashboard repeatedly will probably rip off weaker kinds. I went ahead and put the softer side of velcro on the actual system, and the spiky kind on the car. →  Read Danger!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.20.06

PS1 games downloadable on PS3
Actual good news for Sony? It seems so. The company plans to have their entire PS1 catalogue available, sans the games that are too messy contract-wise. What are the odds they port some Japanese only titles for American downloading? Yeah, zero, I know.

Have stock in Sony?

Sony profit forecast not very encouraging
Among the reasons for the lowered forecast were lower than expect PSP sales, higher than expected Cell processor costs and the lowered PS3 price. If they really needed to stabilize themselves, why not just put out a 360 clone? If the PS3 cost $400 and had the PlayStation exclusives the PS2 had, Sony would’ve easily maintained their #1 position. I guess big risks sometimes pay off, but how about Sony release more big risk games instead of a big risk console? →  Secread of Evermore

Review – Doom 3

I didn’t understand all of the hype surrounding the release of Doom 3. So the graphics were cutting edge (assuming you wanted to drop $500 to get your memory and graphics card up to snuff), it was still a game based on a series well-known for having repetitious play and no story line whatsoever. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved playing the first Doom games/expansions, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t hold up if played them years later. I found my fears were correct as I tried to play both 1 and 2 off of the “Special Edition” Xbox game that comes with the entire set on one disc. Fun for the nostalgia, not so much for the gameplay. I made it about fifteen minutes in before moving on to the new game. →  Sid Meier’s Alpha Centarticle

Review – Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock

Well here it is folks. After much trial and delay, the world can finally partake in a new Sam & Max game. Since my only experience with these two characters comes from a handful of viewings of the old Fox Kids cartoon show, my interest in seeing new Sam & Max was quite neutral. Yet my desire to play the new game has been quite high, for no other reason than my great interest in the way in which it was developed. This has to be one of the biggest gambles the industry has seen this generation, one that I hope to see succeed.

After Lucasarts decided to waffle around and eventually can their efforts on a new game, creator Steven Purcell looked towards small developer Telltale Games to start anew. →  Who is that standing behind you?

Top 50 game journalists?

Next Gen has compiled a list of the top 50 game journalists. I am outraged and deeply insulted to have been left off of this list. Of the 10 friends I’ve shown this site to, I guarantee at least half would believe English is my native language. My Shakespearean use of the words “douche bag” calls out to be recognized and honored by not just pathetic gamers, but by the entirety of media and Western Civilization.

I take shelter in knowing the list is a mere popularity contest. My posts of “fuck sony u suk” on various message boards may be popular, but those are done under the pseudonym gangstagama69, not my proper journalist name jay. Had Next Gen’s list focused solely on mind blowing awesomeness, there is no doubt losers like Adam and Morgan from that shitty review show would not be included. →  The post still burns.

Burning Crusade: Not just for killing Muslims and Jews anymore!

Unfortunately, this is a bit stale as a preview, but I still wanted to get a chance to get some of my thoughts out on the upcoming World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade expansion. Naturally, everything is constantly changing, and I don’t have access to any “inside information,” so my rambling and analysis is based on publicly available information.

First of all, I’m wondering when the damn thing will come out. Blizzard has said Q4 of this year, anywhere from October through December. I’m guessing at this point we’re looking at December. It’s a must for them to have it out pre-Christmas, but I’m not sure they’ll beat Thanksgiving.

The Good

Better Dungeon Design: Blizzard seems to have done a much, much better job of dungeon design. Each dungeon has 1-3 separate wings design for 5 or 10 people, allowing for casual groups to enjoy. →  Ask not what this post can do for you - ask what you can do for this post.

PS3 Needs a Little Support has an interview with Capcom USA’s Charles Bellfield, where he asks for more positive coverage of the PS3 in the media. This actually got me thinkin’ for a bit. Is their too much negative publicity for the PS3, and is it justified? Sure, some may spit at the $600 price tag, but has anyone thought of the positive things that the PS3 will bring to the table? Well, I guess I’ll be the one to bite that bullet.

First, you have all those exclusive games that are coming out for it. Level 5’s White Knight, Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 4, and Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4 are just a few of the games that will probably blow our socks off, and they’re only for PS3.

Second, you have the next-generation of video game graphics. →  Double your reading, double your fun.