Faxanadu and Crystalis

I’d like to bring a couple of old games to your attention. To me, these games pioneered the Action/RPG genre, which sadly has not received the attention it deserves.

First on the list is Faxanadu. An offshoot of the Dragon Slayer series in Japan (of which we received Faxanadu and Legacy of the Wizard), Faxanadu has much in the way of fantasy stereotypes: your character is an elf, and your mission is to make your way to the World Tree and track down those crazy dwarves who keep shutting off the elves’ water supply (thereby bringing about the deterioration of the world, etc, etc).

Although the plot is there, it is not particularly interesting. The important part is that you keep exploring, crossing vast expanses of diverse terrain, and you fight whatever gets in your way with magic, swords, and items. →  Go ahead, read my day.

Review – Guitar Hero 2

You know the feeling of excitement you got as a child trying to sleep on Christmas Eve? That’s the feeling I got waiting for Guitar Hero 2. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anticipating this game as much as the new Zelda. I don’t think I’m alone, either. With Guitar Hero 1 selling a million copies since its release, there are plenty of wannabe rockers out there who are ready to rip it up all over again. Now the wait is over. No longer do we have to settle for Youtube videos of schmucks who got access to the ten song industry demo laying it down for us. Guitar Hero 2 is here. Are you ready?

You damn well better be, because this sequel waits for no one. The word of the day here is “challenge,” as Guitar Hero 2 challenges both its players and the competition. →  Read Band 2

Wii give thanks

This Thanksgiving, I decided to put Nintendo’s new business strategy to the test by bringing home my Wii. Would it appeal to non-gamers and to past gamers? And just how shallow was Wii Sports? For scientific purposes, I spent time with both my girlfriend’s family and my own. Luckily, I wouldn’t have to perform these tests on an empty stomach, though the tryptophan didn’t necessarily help. (Tryptophan reference for comedic purposes only. In turkey, the chemical is contained in small amounts and the wrong form to actually produce drowsiness.)

My girlfriend’s parents were basically uninterested in the Wii. I played first, showing them how it was done and her mom tried once, but that was all. She needed help mastering the few buttons required to play. A friend spending the holiday with us refused to touch the remote. →  Hell is other gamers.

Recovering from World of Warcraft Part 2

Continued from part 1

What ultimately made me stop playing WoW wasn’t so much the new content or the failure in clearing it, but rather the monotony of clearing the old. Let me explain for those not familiar. When you kill a boss in WoW, it drops 2-4 pieces of loot. This can be class specific armor, or a weapon, or jewelry, or whatever. Your average dungeon has 7-12 bosses. A raid dungeon is typically cleared once a week due to reset timers. A raid group has 40 people. Each player has 19 slots of possible gear that can be worn at any time, not to mention extra sets of gear for certain battle roles (such as resistances, damage absorption, damage dealing, etc). There are also special “recipes,” and other miscellaneous items. →  Welcome to read zone!

Remarks on recent gaming news

It has been a while since I’ve peeped my head around here, hasn’t it? Now that Thanksgiving break is over, it’s time to start back up, beginning with a few comments on some recent gaming news items.

1) People are breaking their expensive toys thanks to flying Wiimotes, and if the internet is any indication, it seems to be an epidemic. The reason behind it is malfunctioning wrist straps, but in this case I can’t at all blame Nintendo for the stupidity of gamers. The only way the strap can break is due to extensive force during the remote’s forward motion, meaning someone is letting go. The only way this can happen is either a) sweaty hands or b) people purposefully throwing it. In either case, the solution is simple; calm the hell down. →  Castle Readigami 2

Recovering from World of Warcraft Part 1

This article is long overdue, particularly because I haven’t played WoW in months. I’ve tried to write it several times, but it’s hard to capture all of my feelings about both the game and the genre and transmit it to you in a meaningful way. Plus, I’m lazy. Pimpin ain’t easy, yo.

Let me give you a bit of my MMO background. First, if you read this site and any of my postings, you know I crave connectivity. As a console RPG player, and an occasional table top gamer, I crave persistence. Although I love Final Fantasy and leveling my characters, I get frustrated with the fact that once they are topped out, the secrets of the game revealed and last boss beaten–they are done. These two factors together set me up to be an MMO junkie from the start. →  The King of Articles 2002: Unlimited Match

Review – Super Star Soldier on VC

Well, Nintendo promised to release new Virtual Console titles every Monday, but I would have expected a little more than just one title. Thankfully, that one title is pretty superlicious: Super Star Soldier for the Turbografx-16.

I’ve actually never played this game before. I remember hearing about the updated version of the series on the GameCube (after Ikaruga set the precedence for the return of old-school shooters), but soon forgot about the fledgling series after the lower-than-average review scores. After purchasing the title on VC for a paltry 600 Wii Points ($6), however, I’m glad the TG-16 version made an appearance, 15 years after its release.

It isn’t the most innovative shooter around, but that’s why I like it. Ikaruga was basically the first shooter that I ever played, but the black/white dichotomy of the game made my head spin too much. →  Arc the Post: Twilight of the Spirits

Next Generation?

I was reading a piece of literature about the Wii the other day. You know, the usual suspect: the glossy ten page magazine saying that the product will revolutionise whatever market it is coming to. Surprisingly, it was an interesting little mag, but it was two words that caught my eye. “New Generation.”? These two words by themselves mean little to anybody, but let me be nice and put them into context for you: “It’s better to think of the Wii as a new generation console rather than next generation.” This throwaway media statement got me thinking more than it should have, and now I’m wondering, what actually makes a next generation game?

The more helpful way to look at the “next generation”? is to start by considering the Xbox 360. →  Michigan: Article from Hell

Do Arcades Even Exist Anymore?

Just got done with a vacation with the family on the world’s largest cruise ship, the Freedom of the Seas (Royal Caribbean). Why am I telling you this? Well, first, to make you jealous of my amazing Golden Jew lifestyle. But second, because cruise boats are one of the last places you’ll find an arcade.

Arcades–remember those? I certainly do. They were the ultimate destination growing up, at least for me. I remember begging my parents to give me quarters to go play at the mall arcade. I remember the glee of the giant arcades at the Santa Cruz boardwalk in California. Arcades have always been special to me–not only as a gamer, but my father’s cousin used to run one of the most well known arcades in New York City–the Broadway Arcade. →  Xenoblade Articles X

Where has the hype gone?

Here in England, we always get things late. Sometimes very late, but that’s usually just Sony (I still stand by my claim that the PS3 won’t be out here until November). Something that England and the rest of Europe usually have, though, is an abundance of hype, hype, and more hype. Strangely enough, we all of a sudden have a lack of hype, and since the Wii has been released in America it seems to have disappeared off of the face of the planet over here. It’s released here in less than a month, so where has it all gone?

Maybe Nintendo have suddenly discovered that it won’t appeal to us Limeys. They’ve seen that the majority of the reviews by fat balding Americans of Red Steel be a tad negative, and they must be assuming the same for the English. →  It’s not you, it’s me.

Wii Component Cables, Where Art Thou?

Man, not having component cables for your Wii is just gut-wrenching, let me tell you. A composite picture is so crappy when compared to component. I’ve been using an HD setup for about 6 months now, and I seriously hate looking at a composite signal. It’s way too muted and blurry.

You know when people say the colors for a game are very bland and boring? Yeah, that’s because they are looking at the game through a composite signal. The colors through component, however, are extremely vibrant and beautiful, even when they use realistic colors like gray and brown. And you don’t even really need a TV with progressive scan. From the untrained eye, progressive scan just makes things sharper. Component seems to bring out a better picture concerning colors and contrast. →  Contains 10% more consonants than comparable articles.

Enough with the androgynous characters

Team Ninja is obsessed with breasts. This happens to be an obsession most American men (and women) share. Game after game, Tecmo and many other publishers give us girls that make Dolly Pardon look prepubescent. Most thoughtful gamers (or prudes) have already declared this tendency absurd, or at least unrealistic.

Arguing that Team Ninja should be neutered is a position that is seen as pro-women and inclusive. Call Final Fantasy characters effeminate, on the other hand, and you invite accusations of homophobia and narrow-mindedness. Before I justify my stance on the character design of Final Fantasy games and many other Japanese titles, let me first establish what I mean when I say the art is effeminate.

Squall from Final Fantasy VIII looking coy in his furry coat is a good example. →  Read or Alive 2: Hardcore

A FPS Japan likes

Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu has given Red Steel for the Wii a very nice review score of 34/40. This would be an 8.5 in English. American reviewers have not responded to the game well, but the odd thing is, besides Nintendo Power’s review, Red Steels two highest scores came from European sources (NGamer UK, Computer and Video Games UK). These Euro-sources are the only two obviously non-American reviews of the game, too.

So does this mean anything? Do foreigners like Red Steel more than decent, hardworking, red blooded Americans? The Japanese enjoying the title makes some sense. The country has never been impressed with our FPS output and the genre didn’t really catch on there. So a FPS with a different control scheme, more Japaneseness, and possibly added suck appeals to them. →  Densha de Read! Shinkansen

Like, totally super cool shopping recommendations

It’s becoming somewhat of a rarity to find a video game store that actually knows what they’re doing. Most of the time, you go into a store and get hounded to death by a caveman who just got hired off the streets. And no, they’re not even the cool Geico cavemen, either. Other times, a store has a complete lack of selection, believing Madden is the only game ever made, and proudly advertising their ignorance.

With two new consoles being released this year, videolamer is here to survey the battle field by detailing many stores that sell video games. We’ll break them up into categories of stores, and work from there.

Specialty Retailers
These are your EB Games, GameStop’s, GameCrazy’s, and what have you. These stores are the absolute best for selection. →  [link only works on even seconds]

Numbers are fun!

In the course of doing my job, I managed to stumble across some information about the stocks of video game companies. Turns out a Bloomberg terminal is a worthwhile investment (when I am not paying for it) after all. Basically, I am now able to put numbers (which will not be precise, since there may be some intellectual property rights at issue) next to musings such as “It seems the DS is selling a lot of unit,” or “What happened to the PSP, are there any games?” Please beware the frequent use of parenthetical statements (such as this one: DS = original DS + DS Lite).

Something that needs to be understood about the way traditional financial statistics apply to the video game industry (and entertainment media generally) is that there is a “round peg, square hole” problem. →  Oreshika: Tainted Postlines

Off to a shaky start

This is a little video of my Wii not working right. Any time I try to go to the Wii store to buy Zelda, it eventually locks up on me. The home button still works and the remote movement is still registered, but clicking on buttons ceases to do anything. Comcast has been dropping frequently today so it may be that the Wii doesn’t react well to momentarily losing its connection to the internet. Or it could be that my Wii is broken.

Here’s a pic of it doing this on a different screen. The field with the cursor, actually, all fields refuse to let me enter them.

 →  Secread of Evermore

Do PS3 owners have small penises?

“Well that’s because the wii sucks!!!! The only reason people want it is because they either never got thier dream Playstation 3 or they want it for Zelda. Apparently i think zelda aint worth 300 bucks with tax. I’ll take my chances with the ps3. Also i heard playstation 2 graphics almost outbeat wii graphics, and ain’t nothin close to the Playstation 3.”

This kind of clever repartee is easily found on any message board.

“Good for you, im glad you kids are excited about this.. maybe when youre old enough to get a job you can get a Ps3..like me.”

But something struck me about this post besides the poor punctuation. To some people, the PS3 is a status symbol. It’s expensive, shiny and new, and therefore owning it makes you cool. →  Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about huffing paint.

Wii worries

Well here it is folks. The biggest weekend gaming has probably ever had. The PS3 and the Wii launch within two days of each other, and after Sunday, the next gen will become the current gen.

There is (or at least I think there is) a lot written about how these two consoles represent two vastly different approaches to gaming and marketing. That’s not what I’m here to talk about. While my excitement for Nintendo’s new box is at fever pitch, it’s still a huge gamble, and I’m still not sure if it will all work out. With the PS3 now out, and the Wii is just hours away, I’ve got a few final reflections before the battle begins.

The PS3 Factor
For the last six months gamers have barbequed Sony about the huge amount of blunders and overall arrogance that has defined the road to the Playstation 3. →  Article Kombat

Wii Midnight Madness

In the last 24 hours, people have been beaten, robbed, and shot for their PS3’s. The demand for the system is at an all-time high right now, but, amazingly, for all the wrong reasons. As has been stated all over the Internet, a lot of the people waiting on a line for the PS3 have now put their new warez on eBay, hoping to take advantage of little Billy’s moronic parents. They’re definitely going to get their money, but some of those lucky sellers thieved their way into that rather large bonus.

I’m writing this blog in hopes that the Nintendo Wii launch this Saturday night goes a lot smoother. Please, everyone, don’t act foolish or selfish. Nintendo has promised a huge supply of Wii’s, and there should be no problem when walking into your local Wal-mart, or what have you, to pick one up. →  The post still burns.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 11.17.06

Sony losing money on each PS3 sold
Selling consoles at a loss is nothing new; it nearly put Sega out of business. But selling a console for a loss of $240 or $300? Those are some big numbers, especially considering Microsoft and Nintendo are making profit on each console they sell. There are a few ways to look at Sony’s situation.

Now if the PS3 had looked like this, it would be worth the money.

The optimistic person would say, “Sony are giving us an awesome bargain and we should thank them by paying homeless people to wait in line for a PS3.” The pessimist would say, “If I want to play PS3 games, I’m forced to buy a friggin super computer with a disc drive that costs over $100 tacked on so they can get a leg up on the upcoming format war.” →  READ3R