Black Friday from Home

Who says you can’t score deals from your couch? Sony and Microsoft are giving you a chance to score some downloadable games for cheap. PS3 users can score some $10 games for half price, including Pixel Junk Eden and Echochrome. On the 360 side there is mostly junk, but the best picks are Catan and (fucking) Rez for five bucks each. Sony’s deals are until next Thursday, and MS’ are until Sunday, and for Gold users only.

Having saved on some travel costs, I picked up Eden and Rez. Two musically and graphically rich games are an absolute steal at that price, and I can’t wait to blast through them.

As for Nintendo sales, I suppose Reggie didn’t think we needed any. If he’s reading this, I’ll tell him that a Mega Man 1-3 combo pack or something would have been the bee’s knees.

Tyson gives thanks… to video games!

When I started writing for videolamer over a year ago, I was a slightly angry, jaded gamer. I was pissed with how the industry was going: the Playstation 3 was way too expensive; the 360 had some good games on it, but let’s all be real honest, most people got the system for Halo or Call of Duty; and the Wii was intriguingly underpowered but still kind of fun.

I felt a lot like Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity. I was a ticked off, elitist snob who firmly believed that the few people who felt like I did about gaming hung around this site and we were the last bastion of sense in a pixilated world gone mad. Today, I am still a cocky bastard to be sure but I am not nearly as angst filled as I was a handful of months ago. →  Ba da bam ba baa I’m readin’ it.

The Small, White Elephant in the Room

Every month I get game magazines with beautiful characters from HD games splashed across their covers. The latest EGM features the Watchmen, the newest Edge details Little Big Planet and Game Developer dives into downloadable XBLA game The Age of Booty. Roundtable discussions in these magazines with developers and producers invariably focus on HD games and the challenge of creating and bringing them to market.

If you don’t follow the monthly NPD report you probably would have no idea that Nintendo has a significant lead in the American market. While the old guard of gaming press has been slow to downright resistant in accepting the Wii, the blame for the lack of Wii game coverage rests almost entirely on publishers. EGM has a tough time doing a cover story on non-existent games, and, while Babiez Party may be better than Mass Effect, diapers don’t look good on front pages. →  It’s not you, it’s me.

The Big Boys

Tonight is a blog post about the major three publishers in the West, who have been rather embarrassing as usual.

Eidos

Eidos apparently didn’t learn their lesson after the fiasco caused by Gamespot’s review of Kane and Lynch. Rumors flew last week about a desired embargo on any early UK reviews of Tomb Raider: Underworld that gave it less than an 8/10. The first rep from their press company claimed this was an active attempt at artificially boosting that favorite number of Corporate Gaming, the Metacritic average. The followup from a superior claims this is hardly the case, though whatever is the truth, the damage is done. Eidos’s reputation has been taking a nosedive in the last year and a half thanks to their aggressive love of shovelware and their complete disrespect for their potentially great original IP. →  Hell is other gamers.

Final Review – Mount&Blade

It’s been a long time since I first looked at Mount&Blade. This game was my first review subject here at videolamer over two years ago, and it has held my attention for hundreds of hours. It’s progressed a great deal since its original release and my “review update” for .903, and in fact had its final release some weeks ago. As of this writing, Mount&Blade 1.011 has just been released with a demo on Steam, where I hope many prospective gamers will try it out. It’s currently the #5 seller – it’s selling better than Team Fortress 2! – but that spot is very well-deserved.

The improvements over the previous version I reviewed are myriad. Movement, weaponry, and armor are all much more realistic than they were before, and one of the best additions is a completely revamped soundtrack – with 70+ songs that are almost always played in the right situation – trumpet-filled battle themes that play as you clash with your foes, light melodic tracks while making your way through the countryside, and so on. →  Readius III and IV

King Of Fighters Orochi Collection

If anyone reading knew that this game was out, give yourself a pat on the back. Once again, SNK Playmore USA serves up some fan favorite 2d fighters. Being that this is SNK Playmore USA, we need to replace “fan favorite” with “a standalone game or compilation that was out in Japan one, maybe even two years ago”. Then replace “serves” with “released so quietly that all but a few major news aggregates had any information on it.” The US branch is so fucked up that they aren’t even handling all of SNK’s games. Thankfully, you have masochist SNK fans like me to keep track of things as best I can, even if that means finding out about their games the week of release.

Orochi Collection is a simple compilation featuring every King Of Fighters game from 1994-98. →  Reading. Reading never changes.

Game forums will be the end of us all

The internet has brought us many wonderful things. Most notably, a lot of easily accessible niche porn, but also wonderful things like online bill paying, instant messenger, downloadable games, online games, MMORPG… really, the list is endless. Frankly, it is amazing white collar workers are productive at all anymore. Unfortunately, the internet has also brought us some very terrible things. J-Date ranks high on that list (along with the rest of online dating), but by far the worst of all is internet forums.

Why internet forums, you ask eagerly? Your puppy dog eyes betray a depth of hurt: after all, you undoubtedly spend your time trolling gamefaqs.com, or perhaps like me you pick a flavor and hit up the Rock Band forums or Civfanatics. But no matter what forum you read, you’re going to get the same things… over…and over… and over…

Circular Arguments

Perhaps the most time consuming of the forum phenomena. →  Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Authors, Nine Articles

Review – World of Goo

Do you like puzzle games? Do you enjoy gooey things? If so, you should try World of Goo. This blob-based puzzler is one of the latest indie games to be released via Steam (or Wiiware, for the console-inclined). It’s filled with brain-twisting, goo-placing goodness.

Puzzles in World of Goo generally revolve around building structures out of blobs. Each level has a pipe you are trying to reach; once you have reached it, the goo-blobs remaining on your structure shuffle their way into the pipe. There is a simple goal (say, 4 blobs) to complete the level, and a more difficult “OCD” goal (save a lot of goo, complete the level quickly or in very few moves). Any extra blobs you get go into a pool to be used in the tower-building “free” game. →  18 Wheeler American Pro Reader

A Tale of Two Revivals

Lately Capcom has been one of the best all around publishers in the business. Their games have mostly been of high quality, and time and again they prove that they listen to and want to please their fanbase. The strange twist to all of this is that Capcom is legendary for relying on sequels and familiar franchises, yet two of their recent success stories have come from sequels (of sorts) to two of their oldest franchises, both of which were deemed risks. I am referring of course to Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Mega Man 9. These games are two different takes on the retro revival, and each demonstrate the successes and difficulties that can arise when trying to sell them. Is one better than the other, and which is more likely to be imitated in the future? →  Mrs. Article, you’re trying to seduce me.

Gaming the System

Being a lazy man, as well as one who wants to use the best possible television in the house but is too spineless to actively ask for it, I picked up the PS3 memory card adapter this week. If I want to save money this holiday season, the best way to do so is to burn through some PS2 backlog, and the best way to convince myself to do that is to be able to play them upscaled on the PS3 downstairs. However, since I have to share the remote with my housemates, sometimes the upstairs CRT is the only option. The adapter makes the dream a reality, and also means I don’t have to re-unlock all the goodies in my old fighting games.

It turns out that buying the adapter also sparked another idea in my mind. →  PaReader the Reader

Review – Insecticide

DS Adventure-action hybrid Insecticide attracted some attention (on this site, if not from the videogame community as a whole) when the developer, Mike Levine, criticized negative reviews of the game for overlooking what he considered some of the game’s strengths. What are these supposed strengths? The game is in 3D and features voice acting. To me, the measure of a game isn’t the number of dimensions in which it resides, but how much fun it is to play, and whether I believe the developer tried to do something interesting or innovative.

The early criticisms, as well as Levine’s retort, turned on two key disagreements. Reviewers thought the controls were poor and the game had technical problems. Levine thought the reviewers did not completely explore the controls (ie complained about using the d-pad and buttons while stylus controls were available) and argued the game is technically very impressive (in 3D and featuring voice) even if there are a few hiccups. →  Now is the winter of read this content.

Review – The Force Unleashed

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is now the fastest selling Star Wars game of all time. Being the biggest closet Star Wars fan on this site, this was reason enough for me to check it out. The current general sentiment about the game is that it is a rental at best, and perhaps not even worth that due to a variety of issues.

Some of these gripes are valid, but others appear to be the usual negatives that spread thanks to speedy reviewers (and the comment section trolls that parrot what they hear from them). Force Unleashed is buggy and filled with many of modern gaming’s worst tropes, but it also has decent action bolstered by the sheer fun of using The Force, and it tells a story that tries hard to be worthy. →  Welcome to read.