Breaking up (stories) is (not) hard to do

In order to break the monotony of playing the same opening levels of Halo 3 on co-op, my friend and I loaded up some Gears of War for a change. Both games are often compared, being the two premiere entries on the Xbox 360, but one interesting thing about both is never discussed – both have incomplete stories. Purposely incomplete, to be specific. In both cases there are often scenes and events that either don’t make much sense, or seem wanting for more backstory to provide an explanation. For examples, consider the intro to Halo 3 which shows all the characters back on Earth, or when Gears implies that Marcus Fenix had some past antagonism with General RAAM. In the case of Halo, we already know of a comic book series that will detail the events between Halo 2 and 3, and we also know that Gears will be a trilogy (with entry into other media such as comics and novels). →  Article Kombat

Christian tunes his ax and whips out the beating stick

Today we get another song pack for Guitar Hero 2, the second one with fresh songs. I’m always up for some new challenges, but I also appreciate the chance this gives me to point out the faults (and successes) of others. You see, this song pack was announced for release a week ago and slated to be available last Thursday. Instead we get it today. The success here goes to scorehero, which did its best to explain the situation and keep everyone updated on the status of the songs. Apparently the tunes were supposed to be out this week rather than last, and someone in PR misinterpreted the announcement. I want to thank the folks at the site for keeping the community in the know.

I’ll chalk this up to an honest mistake by someone at Harmonix/Red Octane/Microsoft. →  Arc the Post: Twilight of the Spirits

I hate Halo and I hate Final Fantasy

Not because I’m one of those rebellious gamers who thinks hating popular franchises is cool (though it is cool, you should try it), and not because Halo and Final Fantasy games are bad. I hate mega-popular franchises because gamers love them too much.

Every copy of Halo 3 sold tells Microsoft they should pay for a dozen more “I’m a big guy with a big gun and I plan on shooting you in the face, also there are aliens or Germans” games for the 360. Every copy of Final Fantasy Crisis Core sold sends the message to Square that they are right to limit original output and they should in fact support their enormous company by releasing 4,000 titles in the same series (or two).

Really I’m not mad at these games at all, but rather I’m mad at gamers. →  Rayman Reading Rabbids

Review – Lair

So, the critics have called this game unoriginal and unplayable due to its extra 21st chromosome technology control scheme. Harsh. They say the game’s opening monologue may as well have been ripped from the Fellowship of the Rings DVD. However there is a significant difference which qualifies this as “not a rip off,” when I’m-supposed-to-be-Cate-Blanchett gets to the part of the prologue where she introduces the uber-evil force that we’ll be up against. It’s not the giant fiery eye of Sauron or even a giant fiery uvula, but rather a volcano. Holy shit, volcanoes weren’t even in Lord of the Rings for at least two movies. How can those dicks over at every other game review site say this is unoriginal?

lair11.jpg
That’s right, the evil that has torn apart the peaceful world of Dragonslairville is – volcanoes.
 →  Fine, but this article then no more.

Politicians aiming to censor games have an uphill battle

Unless you spent the last year hiding in a cave playing Gears of War and Elebits, you’ve probably noticed that video games continue to be a great way for politicians to score points with the obsessively-worried-with-no-rational-basis constituency (I usually just call them “crotchety old people,” where, since this is a legal article and I’d hate to be vague, old is defined as “belonging to any generation that is unable to recognize the sequence ‘up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start’”).

Of course, what could be wrong with censoring video games? As spokesperson for New York State Senator Leland Yee, the sponsor of the latest video game censorship law, points out, “we prohibit children from smoking…we regulate driver’s licenses. We prohibit alcohol. We prohibit lots of things from children, and we think it’s logical that kids should not be able to purchase these games on their own.” →  Welcome to read zone!

A deeper look into Nintendo’s bling

Nintendo’s recent ascension to become the second largest company in Japan has been making news on a few sites which track the business aspect of video games. While it is true that a company’s market capitalization (basically a measure of what the stock market thinks a company is worth) has grown by leaps and bounds of late (as will happen when the price shoots up as much as Nintendo’s has) some of the underlying financial numbers are even more fascinating than the headlines.

By market cap, Nintendo is substantially larger than Sony (Nintendo is worth about $75 billion, to Sony’s $47 billion). In truth, this metric is only one way to judge the size of a company. What’s another, you may ask? How about sales, I answer. Sony’s sales are leaps and bounds higher than Nintendo’s. →  The King of Articles 2002: Unlimited Match

Review – Persona 3

The PS2 may have looked as if it were on its last legs – a lame duck with no good new releases. I almost believed this, but Persona 3 has proven it wrong, and because of it, I’m still playing my PS2 more than my Wii.

Granted, this RPG is not for everyone. It’s about 70 hours, sometimes difficult, and very Japanese. But I do recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the genre, for a couple reasons.

First off, this game has a plot and ambiance that surpasses standard RPG fare. Like the original Persona (which didn’t get much exposure), Persona 3 involves modern Japanese high school students fighting demons. It is done in an anime style, but differently enough to separate it from the rest of the pack. Also, like its predecessors, Persona 3 has excellent music (and the soundtrack included has some of the better tracks). →  Silent Post 2

Nintendo is waiting for shoes to be eaten

So guess who is the second largest company in Japan as of now?

NCL, otherwise known as Nintendo.

That’s right, the same Nintendo that countless people asked to drop out of the hardware business for the entirety of the Gamecube generation.

I’m sorry, but I have to vent a little about this one. There came Nintendo with its crazy ideas that everyone scoffed at, while Sony was praised for making “sexy” consumer products, quite possibly one of the most asinine descriptions I have heard in the world of business. Everyone had their mind set on the victor, and apparently sluggish Gamecube sales surely meant Nintendo had no money in the bank.

Well I guess they did after all. And I guess their crazy ideas worked pretty well too. You can disagree with what they are doing, but the fact that so many people put themselves in what seemed to be a state of self-imposed denial because (god forbid) the “kiddie” games company wasn’t being beaten to a bloody pulp has been one of my biggest pet peeves of the last seven years. →  Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘Game Over.’

PSP-2000: Two years too late

Last month saw the introduction of the new PSP Slim. I gave my personal impressions on the silver unit earlier, but I wanted to go more in-depth with what the system means for Sony overall. In the last few years, Sony has been on a constant downward spiral in terms of consumer popularity. With a $600 system that has very few games and a handheld system that’s been out for more than two years and still has a less than stellar software lineup, Sony’s Golden Age has clearly been tarnished.

But I will say this: Sony has restored my faith in them with the PSP Slim. It’s an amazing piece of tech, no small thanks to the newly added video-out option through separate component video cables. If you were on the fence about the the first model, I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the Slim model. →  Fire Post Wrestling Returns

TGS 2007 — Fear and Loathing in Tokyo

Living in Japan allows me a certain freedom when it comes to my nerd-hood. Video game playing is all but encouraged, anime is the norm, and if you were to tell someone your life goal was to build and paint model robots, they would smile understandingly at you. Japan is indeed a land in which technology and entertainment hold hands and lovingly caress one another. As I type this, I am coasting at a leisurely 175mph on a bullet train as I watch scenery adorned with lush greenery and neon zoom by. One of the many nerdy perks to living in Japan is the knowledge that once a year, all of the big names in gaming (minus one) will converge in Tokyo and allow the public a glimpse of their brand new wares. →  Welcome to read.

Finishing the Fight

Sorry folks, but I need to put videolamer’s bold blend of criticism and cynicism on the back burner and brew a fresh pot of Game Fuel. That’s right – we need to talk about Halo 3.

Rest assured, we will be featuring a review of the game in some form or another, despite the fact that it is rather useless to review the biggest-game-of-the-decade-until-GTA4-comes-out. Though perhaps I am wrong about that – if vl’s readership is anything like its staff, there may be some of you who are unsure about this franchise, in which case we’ll have lots to talk about. But before a proper review is done, we have to play the damn thing. And before even that happens, there are a few things we should get out of the way. →  If you die in the article, you die in real life.

Matt gets his PSP to run on TV, nearly wets himself

Woohoo! I finally got my PSP Slim component video cables in the mail on Friday. I was a tad disappointed to find out that Sony held the release of the cables until only recently (the Daxter bundle with the Silver Slim unit was released much earlier in the month), but the wait has been worth it. I promised my impressions on the video-out option, and I always keep my word. So here they are.

First, a little disclaimer: games cannot be displayed without the component cables. Sony has released composite cables, but you can only view movies, music, and photos with them. To play games on your TV, you need the component wires, as the games are developed with a progressive scan-enabled screen in mind. They’re the same price, so it’s not really a problem. →  Read more, before it’s too late!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.21.07

PSP outsells DS in Japan
Square’s Final Fantasy VII spin off for the PSP, Crisis Core, sold half a million copies last week. It also sold PSPs. Possibly not all of the 95 thousand Sony sold in the week, but likely around 80 thousand, which is how many more units were sold than the previous week. Sony’s business strategy should be clear – simply release a spinoff of one of the most beloved games of all time once a week and the PSP will handily outsell the DS in Japan 1.2 to 1.

Or, to quote someone from a forum I read:
“If DS stopped selling and PSP continued at this rate, it would catch up in 139.7 weeks (May 21, 2010).”

Does anyone else feel nauseous?

Home delayed till Spring
Good for Sony. →  [link only works on even seconds]

Dual Shock 3 please, with a side of rumble

Well, it’s official, rumble is back. Officially dubbed the Dual Shock 3, Sony has “listened” to its fans and added the most basic of features to their much scoffed-at SIXAXIS controller. Isn’t it amazing?!

Yeah, not really. This should have been implemented with the PS3 before it even came out. This is Sony playing catch-up, but it’s not the cool kind, especially when they make people spend $600 on something that lacks an integral piece of the gaming equation.

And why did I surround the word listen with quotation marks in my introduction, you ask? It’s simple, my dear reader. Other than being clever/snooty, I was trying to point out that Sony knew not having rumble in their PS3 controller was a serious problem the entire time. They didn’t need to listen to their consumers to see if it was a problem or not. →  Guitar Hero III: Legends of Read

Discs based gaming and you – Luddites and grognards

I have something to admit. It will sound strange in this day and age, but I still get a bit weirded out playing games on optical media.

It really makes no sense, considering just how long I have been popping discs into trays to get my game on. My reasons are a combination of upbringing and perception, and if you’re bored or curious, I’d like to share them with you.

Reason One – Music

Very early on, when CD’s were becoming mainstream, I was young enough to make the false assumption that they were like cassettes and vinyl before them, intended only for playing music. Of course, young Christian had never played with a computer using a tape drive, so I was wrong on two accounts. In any case, thinking of a CD as a storage medium rather than as a vessel for music took a little while, but I came around eventually. →  Keep it warm.

PS1 games you may have missed: The RPGs

As you all may be aware, Sony is finally picking up the software side of backwards compatibility for its shiny new system.

Since the PS3 doesn’t have any good RPGs or strategy games of its own yet, I would like to take this opportunity to recommend a few rare games that may actually be compatible with the PS3 by now.

I won’t lie; some of these games are inordinately expensive by used-game standards. But even the most expensive doesn’t cost twice as much as a new PS3 game.

My intent with this is to show you all that the PSX was, in some ways, an incredible system; it may not have had the sturdy character of the N64, but even though I am fascinated with obscurity, I hadn’t heard of several of these games a few years ago – well after the PS2 had taken over. →  Your right post comes off?

SDF-1: Sony Defense Force was obviously a joke

Let’s talk about Sony Defense Force. The site has been a constant source of humor for myself and other Lamer staff for a few weeks now. Apparently the site PS3Tag did some “detective work” that amounted to looking at the properties of a “whois”, and now the site has been “found”. Kotaku commenters are chiming in about how they “thought it was a hoax” or “they should lose readership because of this”, as well as complimenting for the work PS3tag did.

I am going to borrow a line from my god Ken Levine, and ask you all to kill yourselves.

I can understand if you were uncertain about the meaning of SDF when it originally launched. I can barely accept your puzzled looks when they launched a forum that had almost no PS3 discussion whatsoever, and even talked about the 360 with excitement. →  Now you’re reading with power.

Dreamcast Mania! – Overrated games

What better way to wrap up our celebration of the Dreamcast than by killing it off? In my final entry in this series, I’m going to do what I do best – slaughter some sacred cows. Not all of them are at the top of many Dreamcast gamer’s lists (and some certainly are), but at the very least these were well respected games that I found to be severely lacking.

Grandia 2 – I absolutely loved Grandia 2 when I first played it. But I’m an older and wiser gamer, and I don’t think you could ever get me to touch this one again. When people so vigorously defend Grandia 2, I wonder if they remember just what it was they were playing. It is practically the encyclopedia of anime/jRPG cliches. →  PaReader the Reader

Dreamcast Mania! – Great games you can’t get anywhere else

Videolamer noticed that in our attempts to keep Dreamcast Mania! alive, so very many of our articles were about the things we missed out on, rather than a celebration of what we had. That changes now. Today we will be going over some of the absolute best games the DC (and only the DC) has to offer. These are not only the reasons why we loved it, but while we still do. These are the games that make it a system still worth owning and playing (meaning you won’t find games like Third Strike, which has a superior PS2 port).

Oh, and I only have a paragraph to describe each game. Prepare for distilled glory.

Soul Calibur – As far as I am concerned, the only game in the Soul series that you can argue was better than this one (and have me actually listen to you) is Soul Blade. →  Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Bore me and I sleep.

Xbox Live Demo Roundup 2

Another week, another batch of new and slightly stale demos to read about….

    Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground

– It probably isn’t coincidence that this one lands the week that SKATE comes out. It looks like in typical fashion, gamers are drawing the line in the sand before releases even occur. The SKATE demo was so good that people are getting hours of entertainment from it, which bodes quite well for the full retail product. Because of this, some already declare Tony dead. THPS loyalists say they are unimpressed by SKATE’s controls and are more comfortable with their failsafe. Personally, I think anyone who doesn’t like the SKATE approach is either simply bad at it, or can’t really appreciate the essence of the sport as much as they can million point combos. →  The Last Readment