Review – Mr. Robot

I entered into the futuristic world of Mr. Robot with some apprehension. The game is based on a lot of stuff I am not overly fond of; puzzle games, platformers, and robots. I was not too keen on the title of the game, either, because other than Mr. T, who was the last good Mr. Anything you can think of? And so help me, if you dis Mr. T, I do indeed pity you, fool.

The one thing this game had going for it is that it is one of my friend’s all time favorite games and he has very good taste. Mr. Robot sits among legends such as Fallout 2, X-Com, and Katamari Damacy if you were to see the list entitled, “Jim’s All-Time Favorite Games”. So when it was suggested that I take a look at the game and review it I jumped at the chance. →  Devil May Read 2

Final Fantasy Tactics to be retranslated

A recent announcement by Square-Enix has left more than a few people amazed. The least surprising bit, probably, was that we would be receiving the PSP remake of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Somewhat more surprising was the fact that the game would be retranslated. Now… the original PSX translation of Tactics isn’t all bad. But it does suffer from a lack of editing (such as the mission where you were to “Kill Dycedarg’s older brother”), and is a bit awkward from time to time.

For all the game’s fans, however, this is a godsend. It’s a remake of a game that doesn’t try to go too far – it adds a few aspects, some new characters, et cetera – so if it were the same translation there would be more debate over whether or not to get it. →  Apply directly to the forehead.

If you drop a penny from the Empire State Building

Penny Arcade showed more clips of their game at Comic Con. Being a daily PA reader since 2001, I feel I have a bit of a right to criticize them for what I saw, and this in turn will please the rest of the readers and staff.

If you didn’t see the trailer, they are making a jRPG – possibly filled with long scenes of dialogue, and turn based combat where characters move back to their starting position after attacking. Watching the clips was like watching youtube videos of Final Fantasy, and we all know that’s no fun unless you’re watching spoilers.

I should have seen this coming. Over the years the PA fellas have been playing more and more jRPGs, and at some point Gabe actually complained about the loss of ATB in FF12. →  Lame is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.27.07

Microsoft sort of wants you to buy an HD DVD add on
$20 off is not a good deal for something that costs $200, but that’s the amazing deal Microsoft is giving us on their 360 HD DVD add on. The move feels like a last ditch effort to make it appear that they still have a chance at beating the Blu Ray format. What is it with these companies that are desperate but not willing to allow this desperation to save me a lot of money? The PS3 should cost $300 and the 360 HD DVD doohickey should retail for $19.95.

Then there’s the prevalence of bundle deals. In addition to the twenty big ones you’d save buying the HD DVD drive, you’d also get five free movies. Choose from classics like Seabiscuit, Chronicles of Riddick, and Tomb Raider. →  Now is the winter of read this content.

Review – Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s

In my time with videolamer, I have been very, very kind to Harmonix. I began to fall in love with them with Frequency and Amplitude, games that changed the way I thought about the rhythm genre. Then came Guitar Hero, which changed my gaming habits significantly. The sequel made me a bona fide fanatic (I own one of each official controller).

Now comes the cliche: I think Harmonix is starting to sell out.

Funny how the company making music games has the history of a rock band. They started off small and simple, making some great products that only a few really tried to appreciate (Frequency and Amplitude). They got a nice little break from a big “label” (Konami and their Karaoke Revolution series), and grew to have a stable fanbase. →  [post launches in virtual reality]

Nintendo to the future, “Emulate this!”

This morning while showering I thought about the usual – video games. Specifically, I thought about the article we did on DS games and how some people reacted by saying the PSP is backwards compatible with every old console someone wrote an emulator for. After mulling over the pros and cons of that argument, I spent some time pondering the future of emulation and something struck me. Unless motion control and touch control become ubiquitous, the DS and Wii will not be emulatable by anyone not willing to put in huge amounts of effort.

Nintendo has always had a particularly strong fear of piracy. Primarily because CDs are so easily duplicated, Nintendo gave the N64 a cart slot. For the same reason, they burned Gamecube games onto mini-DVDs.

After a lather rinse repeat, it struck me that Nintendo’s new systems may not be different only to capture new audiences, but to prevent emulation. →  Katamari Damaread

Message to Ebert: You and me, flagpole, afterschool

I used to be a pretty big fan of Roger Ebert, especially when he had that show with Gene Siskel (yeah, the bald guy). But now, after hearing his second rant on how video games can’t be art, I think I’m gonna have to take him off of my “cool motha fuckas” list. Sucks to be him, I guess:)

Anyway, on his personal blog, Roger Ebert came out and explained what he meant earlier on how games can’t be art. Amazingly, he corrects himself on the issue by saying:

“Anything can be art. Even a can of Campbell’s soup. What I should have said is that games could not be high art, as I understand it.”

So, video games can be art, but not the good kind. A few people in the comments sections of other sites are starting to realize that, no matter how many credentials someone has, anyone can say stupid shit. →  The only thing we have to read is read itself.

Everything I know about RPGs I learned from Fallout

These days, the few western RPGs that exist that are not MMO’s are trying to conquer a unique challenge: How do you create a living, breathing world for the player to engage in? We’ve got the graphics, the items, and years of combat engines to take inspiration from. But we’ve played in static worlds before, where quests and NPC’s never change, and your options to mold the world are limited. We want games where the roles we play actually mean something, to ourselves and those we interact with.

It isn’t an easy task. You need the right size world, and the right contents in said world. You need smart NPC’s that go about their daily lives, and a ton of dialogue options to give players the illusion they are talking to a genuine person. →  Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about huffing paint.

Quick Rant on Software

Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword is out. Unfortunately, I’m traveling and was unable to get it yet. But a quick swing by Civfanatics shows that there of course has already been an initial patch to the game, because the shipped version was buggy and terrible.

I know Firaxis is not the first (or last) developer to do this. I know that it’s a common practice. But it pisses me off that the internet age has led to such a terrible degradation in the quality of PC game QA. On the one hand, it is great that software developers can add content through patching. It’s nice that they can fix bugs that sneak through. But shipping what’s basically unplayable crap, knowing full well you can, and will patch it, is sloppy and inexcusable. →  Read me now, believe me later.

Can’t Escape the Escapism Part 2

There are reasons why we can’t escape certain games. And there’s a reason why it matters. Sometimes a game comes to mind simply because something in our real world reminds us of it. Once, I was on a campsite standing at the edge of a cluster of trees and the light of the setting sun fell in such a way to make me say, “ohmygoditlookslikezelda!” Now, I love Zelda games and I’ve spent many hours with them, but that’s the only time the land of Hyrule came close to interfering with my perception of the real world.

Other times, a game comes to mind simply because it’s awesome. We like it enough that we wish some of its elements actually existed. When I was younger, I wanted to be Strider Hiryu. →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Tale of the Tape

This could be interesting. Lawsuit between Silicon Knights and Epic Games. Possible SNAFUs with the Unreal 3 engine. The perfect recipe for speculation, drama, and endless blogs and articles.

Its also the perfect opportunity for violence. Who here wouldn’t want to see a fight between Epic’s Mark Rein and SK’s Dennis Dyack? Both are loudmouths for their respective companies, fellas who won’t stop gushing about their own product, but rarely have anything nice to say about anything else. I think it would be the best way to settle this issue, especially if it means one of them gets knocked out for a couple of months.

But wait – we can make it better. Lets just do the whole thing WWF style. Out of nowhere Cliffy B. comes into the ring with a steel chair, knocking Dyack out and parading around the ring with Rein. →  We have nothing to lose but our games.

Gaming Meccas of Japan Pt. 1 — Den Den Town, Osaka, Japan

Being a geek and living in Japan is kind of like mixing Ecstasy with LSD – it’s one hell of a trip. There are four places in Japan that should be on the must-see list for anyone who calls himself a nerd. The big one is Akihabara in Tokyo and I will be covering that in September along with The Tokyo Game Show. The third spot goes to Nintendo’s world headquarters in Kyoto but there isn’t much to see there because no one is allowed into the facility and tours are never provided. The fourth spot and topic of today’s installment is Den Den Town in Osaka.

Den Den Town can best be described as the poor man’s Akihabara. It is smaller in size, about four or five square blocks instead of an entire section of Tokyo. →  Now bear my arctic post.

How do you play a non-game?

Language is powerful, which is a shame since I’m not a very good writer. Instead of bringing “war” to Iraq we are bringing “freedom”, and instead of being “the worst American president in the last 300 years”, Bush has “a low approval rating”. Debating the merits of something specific may work for thoughtful people, but it’s much easier to simply change people’s minds by changing how we refer to things.

And so we have non-games. First, I must explain that I am not taking a stance on the quality of any game, non-game or partial-game. It’s a shame that this needs to be said but many people confuse the debate over language as a debate over what the language describes.

“I’m not sure the terrorists hate us because of our freedom.” →  Look upon my works, ye mighty, and read!

Second verse same as the first?

So hey, Peter Moore is leaving Microsoft for Electronic Arts. When have we seen this before? Dreamcast gamers will remember when the chump left Sega in the days of the console’s waning to go to MS, and that he was influential in the canceling of Shenmue 2 in favor of an Xbox port.

I remember reading a very angry IGN forum post years ago, in which an avid Sega fan went over all the stupid things that Moore was responsible for. While I don’t remember any of it, I do remember it being convincing enough to give me a permanently sour taste for the man. During his time with MS friends would try to convince me that Moore was actually a pretty good industry power, but even as he slapped crazy tattoos on his arm he still bugged the shit out of me. →  Lamers so loved the world that they gave their only article, so that everyone who believes in reading won’t perish but will have eternal lives.

Odin Sphere: not drinking the kool-aid

Odin Sphere was released to a slew of rave reviews. Several called it the best PS2 RPG in years, and game forums everywhere were filled with topics full of praise.

A couple weeks ago I convinced myself I should try it out. And, in fact, for a while it was impressive. The graphics are quite nice, the voice options are great, and the story is enjoyable. The game is quite smooth, and controls pretty well.

You’ll notice I left out the actual system behind the game. It felt okay for the first couple hours. I figured I’d get used to it, and that soon enough I’d be planting Muggles and Napples in the heat of battle with the best of them.

Unfortunately, I am now another ten hours in and still don’t see the appeal of the system. →  I regret learning to read.

Review – Brooktown High

There are two things that shame me as a man:

First, I have a collection of Hello Kitty cell phone trinkets that would make a twelve year old Japanese schoolgirl beam with pride. There is a good reason I have amassed this wealth of dangly goodness but this is neither the time nor the place to defend my less- than-masculine obsession. Second, is Konami’s new PSP title, Brooktown High and the frequency with which I play it.

You are a new student at Brooktown High School. It is your senior year, you are single, and you must score with as many hotties as is humanly (or in this case, digitally) possible. This is as close to being a player as you are going to get without contracting the cold sores and awkward itching that comes with the title, Medium Pimpmaster Supreme, which is what I was known as in high school. →  All you need is read.

Sony at E3 – slightly less terrible than the competition?

Max has been kind enough to fill in for Jay on covering the Sony press conference. When not reading videolamer, he runs the excellent website GameLemon.

I’ve already bitched elsewhere on this fine site about Sony’s presentation skills, but that little rant was small and only mildly satisfying, so I am going to say it again: Sony, please, for chrissakes, hire some presenters that are at least remotely cool and entertaining, and forbid your executives from ever appearing in public. I am sure they are all fine people and very important to the business, but they couldn’t excite a crowd worth a crap even if their bonus depended it.

Next, fire the idiots who wrote the script for the presentation. Those dudes need to get out waaay more if they think this is the kind of stuff that excites the gaming demographic. →  You may say I’m a gamer, but I’m not the only one

Ruining A Beautiful and Complicated World: Simcity Societies and How It Will Take a Dump on a Perfectly Good Franchise

When I was twelve, my life changed. I was a chubby little kid who was obsessed with the Super Nintendo and for my birthday party my parents let me rent a few games to keep all of my little friends occupied and from ruining their house. One of the games I picked that day was something of a strange choice. Instead of running around killing things, you built a city and watched it grow. That’s it.

No mass multiplying mushrooms to eat, no princess to save, no Triforce to assemble. You simply sat down, plopped some buildings in, some roads to connect them, and then watched the whole thing grow. The game never really ended and you could devote hours to one city. When you got sick of the city, you brought down the wrath of God on it and many Sims died in a fiery…or watery death. →  Fear the old posts.

PSP 1.1 – Worst. Update. Ever.

If there was one thing that I wanted to see at this year’s E3, it was the new PSP. I was dying to see what Sony had up their sleeves. I was especially looking forward to the much-requested hard-drive that was rumored to be included. But what did Sony do? Crushed my frail little dreams, that’s what. And they didn’t even apologize! Totally inconsiderate.

So, instead of an 8GB hard-drive, we get a faster UMD drive, a more efficient battery, a thinner and lighter casing, and a video-out connection. Yup, that’s it. And even worse, the damn thing looks exactly the same!

Now, I will say the ability to display the feed on a TV is a pretty cool feature, but when compared to how insignificant everything else is, having a video-out option isn’t a good enough reason to upgrade from the old PSP. →  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.

Nintendo’s E3 conference also sucks

Nintendo’s E3 presentation was as bad as Microsoft. Had they not announced release dates of games I want, I’d probably say worse. Highlights:

– Bragging
– Charts
– Release dates
– Montages
– Charts
– Wii Zapper, which will come with a game (how about a game that comes with the zapper instead of a zapper that comes with a shitty after thought of a pack in?)
– Mario Kart coming early next year with online races and a stupid plastic steering wheel. Also with the new feature of “skill not mattering” that levels the playing field for all new gamers
– Charts
– Bad puns
– Montages
– High School Musical, the amazing game based off of the movie of the same name
– Wii Fit, complete with Wii Pad to Wii stand on

I thought Reggie was supposed to not suck. →  Eh, I've got nothing better to do.