Now on Virtual Console: My childhood

This Monday the Virtual Console got its first batch of Commodore 64 titles (in the states). Though I haven’t played the released games, it was a momentous occasion for me because the C64 was home to my first gaming experiences. While the other kids were playing their Nintendos, I was learning run “*” ,8,1 (only with the shortcut of “u” plus the shift key that yielded some bizarre symbol I don’t remember).

The majority of American gamers likely haven’t even touched a Commodore so VC sales will probably be pretty slow. Honestly, I’m not sure they deserve to be brisk – most of the titles I remember were fun at the time but seem archaic and shallow now. Still, I feel a responsibility to present a list of favorites just in case the planets align and Nintendo releases good C64 games and you happen to find yourself with five bucks to burn. →  All your posts are belong to us.

Review – World of Goo

What a strange and intriguing little beast this is. I’m hesitant to call it a game. It most certainly is a game in the sense that it places a series of challenges before you, with rewards meted out along the way, and then a credit sequence plays. But in some ways that are intangible, and other that are, it doesn’t quite feel like a game. Before I go off on some bizarre experiential recollection of my time spent with it, I will give you a more straightforward recounting of what I felt about the game. I believe in times past they were called “reviews”.

There is a lot to like about World of Goo.

I’m going to get the look and feel out of the way first, because it’s pretty much perfect. →  In all ages, hypocrites, called producers, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called publishers.

The Value of a Dollar

I have discussed the dilemmas of downloadable content frequently in the past, and each new piece of news gives us more to chew on. Soon we will be seeing the very first DLC for Tomb Raider: Underworld. You know, the content that was meant for the original game, but eventually wasn’t. We may never know if someone put a gun to Eric Lindstrom’s head in order to change his story, but we’re here to discuss value.

This joystiq newscontains a quote from Crystal Dynamics claiming each piece of DLC will take between three to six hours to complete. Scroll down further and you will see that a few commenters simply won’t fork over the 800 MS points for it. Since then, joystiq’s more recent review of the level clocks in at around an hour and a half. →  U R Not lamE.

Race to the Finish

Here is a tip for developers.  Whenever you issue a challenge to the gaming masses, don’t make any bets, assessments, or guesses about how long it will take them to complete it, or if they will even complete it at all.  They will simply let out a long cackle, and by the time they take a breath, they will have finished it, perhaps twice over.  Usually these feats are seen in MMO’s like World of Warcraft, but this time it has popped up in the most unlikely of games – Noby Noby Boy.

In case you haven’t been following Keita Takahashi’s newest bit of quirk, Noby Noby Boy is an experience with a passive goal.  As each player plays around with Boy and makes him stretch his body, they can report to their friend Girl, a similar creature who is chilling out in space.  →  Secread of Evermore

Review – No More Heroes

No More Heroes came out a little more than a year ago, but I’m reviewing it now since the current economy is helping me appreciate older games I already have lying around my room. I remember playing it soon after it came out and thought it was fun at the time. Once I beat single player story mode though I essentially lost interest in ever picking it back up because that was all there is to it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a game simply having a twenty or so hour long single player mode, but once you beat it you’re through. There’s no way to select levels afterward and replay your favorite parts, so you simply have to make the whole twenty hour investment all over again in order to get the full experience. →  It’s not you, it’s me.

News We Care About Update

Why Ensemble Closed
Once designer at Ensemble Studios, Bruce Shelley explained what went wrong at the DICE 09 conference. He kept it overly civilized and focused on what they should have done differently internally. Things like working on games in different genres and not expanding too quickly made his list, though he forgot to mention “Don’t be owned by a giant evil corporation.”

It must have taken an abundance of self control to not simply declare Microsoft the sole problem Ensemble faced. The studio created some of the best received and selling strategy games in the industry and sold millions of games. Despite being profitable, they were apparently not profitable enough for Microsoft to keep open. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand economics…

Single Player Games on their Deathbed
David Perry is more famous for saying controversial things than making good games. →  To be this lame takes ages.

Review – Fable II

For a change of pace over the holidays I went through Fable II, a light-hearted fantasy role-playing game developed by Lionhead Studios and its industry leading founder, Peter Molyneaux. Between the first and second Fable, Lionhead was purchased by Microsoft, meaning that Peter was now in the market of making Xbox 360 exclusives. I was especially curious to see if Peter and his team were going to take special advantage of the console like Epic Games has done with Gears of War. Sadly this wasn’t the case.

Before I get into that, let’s give the good stuff its due. In Fable II you play a hero born from a powerful bloodline, one that allows you to wield magic. A hero hunting villain is hot to kill you in hopes of ending the line and preventing your kind from stopping his plans for world domination. →  Now is the winter of read this content.

Street Fighter Folks

Yesterday was the release date for Street Fighter 4, at least if you’re being technical. Most every store in the nation won’t be offering it until today, but if you had a preorder, or a lucky store, then your local Gamestop may have been your potential source for a Tuesday pickup. When it comes to broken street dates and flaky launches, the Maryland area seems neither particularly lucky nor unlucky. Furthermore, these days my buying habits are such that I never pick up a new game the week of its release, so I avoid such flaky launches.

I knew I should wait until today to find Street Fighter 4, yet I found myself ignoring my bus to the metro station, instead taking the 40 minute walk so I could stop by the Gamestop and scout their stock. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Playing catch up – Phantasy Star IV

I was a Nintendo kid growing up (until that stopped being cool, when I defected to Sony). I got a Genesis very late in the game, so I’m still playing catch-up on the Phantasy Star games. A couple months ago, the final game worth mentioning in the series was released on Virtual Console. I played through Phantasy Star 2 several months ago, so I figured I’d give its better-regarded descendant a go now that current-gen RPG releases have calmed down a bit.

Phantasy Star 4 deserves all of the acclaim it gets. If its fans are not heard as loudly as those of other, better-known series, they should be. Is it the Second Coming? Perhaps not. But it has all the requirements for a good RPG (aside from only one of two established religions being evil – I’ll overlook that). →  Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 5: Golden Post

Review – Flower

If you haven’t noticed…and you probably haven’t, I have not written much lately. Truth be told, there hasn’t been a lot in gaming that has inspired me in the past couple of weeks. That is, until tonight. Flower has been on the Playstation Store now for roughly six or seven hours and in that time, I can safely say this game has answered the video games as art argument with a resounding, YES!

This review is not going to be very long because the game is not very long and it is hard to do justice to it without letting you just play it and experience it for yourself. The premise is simple, tilt the controller and press any button to make the wind blow. That is it. Of course there is more to it, but really how much can I say about a series of flower petals blowing in the wind? →  The Adventures of Cookie and Read

Review – Prince of Persia

The games and film industries are currently obsessed with the concept of reboots. While this is not a new concept, traditionally reboots are greenlit for franchises that are fairly old, and only when the IP holder feels that it will remain commercially viable after a modern facelift. Certain entities in the gaming world have bucked this trend, prescribing reboots for series that are still currently popular, and have likely had at least one new entry in the last five or so years. From a theoretical standpoint, this makes sense. If you are choosing something to to reboot from a list of modern franchises, it is much easier to determine their viability when your audience still remembers them. It also allows a publisher to continue churning out sequels at a steady clip without the new entries feeling immediately stale. →  You lost me.

Lamecast #1 – Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array

In this, the premier Lamecast, Christian and Don discuss Quake Live, Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5 and the importance of keeping the Sabbath.

Remember – not only is this happening live but it works two way and they can hear you. Please be respectful by not speaking or making any loud noises.

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Review – Persona 4

After blue comes yellow. So it would seem with the release of Persona 4, which has the same engine and battle system as its predecessor. Despite all this, it comes off as a much better game – Atlus clearly took the time to figure out what went wrong in Persona 3 and fix it. At the same time, they came up with a plot I found easier to connect with, composed better music, and even came up with better swag to lure people into buying the game. It’s no surprise, then, that Persona 4 is my new favorite RPG on the PS2.

Several improvements make up the core of the reason I enjoyed playing Persona 4 so much. You can pretty much copy the gripes from my Persona 3 and FES reviews and every single one of them has been mitigated if not completely resolved. →  Mrs. Article, you’re trying to seduce me.

An ode to a fallen memory card

In a spontaneous fit of impatience and retardation, I recently reformatted my GameCube memory card. Tales of Symphonia, which I picked up after not having played in two years, insisted the card was corrupt and needed to be wiped clean first by the GameCube’s internal mechanism, then by being throw into a wall. Instead of thinking it through and realizing I’d just been playing Metroid Prime and it saved fine and fearing I’d lose my 30 hours of Symphonia-ing, I hit “Sure, erase all of my saved games, it’s not like I put any time or effort into them” then practiced my pitching for 15 minutes.

The bad news is it was for naught as I had no clue what I needed to do next in Symphonia. After reading all of the back story (nice feature by the way) and then wandering and sailing and giant monster riding around the map for an hour I gave up knowing it was just as well. →  Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire

Counting the Game Industry’s Gold

Like most industries, the gaming industry is bound by the conventional economic wisdom that you must spend money to make money. Historically, that’s meant taking a loss on every game system sold (with the notable exception being most Nintendo consoles) in order to tap into selling game after game to console owners. This measure of success is known as the “attachment rate” or “tie ratio.” A somewhat (November 2008) dated Gamasutra chart shows that the Xbox was in the lead, with 6.6 games/system sold, followed by the Wii at 5.5 and the PS3 at 5.3.

This statistic has historically been a powerful metric for measuring market penetration and overall success for a console. After all, what’s the point of selling a console if you can’t sell game after game? But as with many things in today’s integrated media world, the lines have blurred and traditional metrics don’t necessarily tell the whole story. →  Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the article?

Review – Waxworks

If you haven’t heard of Waxworks before then allow me to describe it. It’s not a new game, having been released in 1992, but it was just recently re-released by GOG.com and this makes it new for many people, including me. Waxworks is part point and click adventure, part puzzle solver, part hack and slash, and a lot of fucked up shit. In case you weren’t tipped off by the fact that the developer’s name is Horrorsoft, Waxworks isn’t exactly about sunshine and rainbows.

The first thing any modern player will notice about Waxworks is the fact that it’s old, and in some ways hasn’t aged well. But considering it’s sold by a site called “Good Old Games” I assume that this should be a given. I had never played it before and was able to enjoy it, so despite the decrepit technology it must have an appeal in something besides nostalgia. →  Do a barrel read!

Wii gets another once HD game

EA recently announced (or Twittered) that it is bringing Dead Space to the Wii. The company says they “will rival Nintendo in terms of quality,” which is frighteningly close to Ubisoft’s claim that in ’08 their Wii games would be of “Nintendo-like quality.” Of course, Ubisoft’s Wii games are shitty so EA’s bold words don’t really inspire me.

Empty promises aside, an alarming trend is beginning to emerge – HD games with watered down Wii ports. I am a proponent of good games getting wider audiences and if you’re reading this site you’re likely a “core” gamer, in which case you likely agree with me (unless you’re one of those casuals-gone-core via GTA and Halo who hates the fact that people who aren’t 16-21 year old males play games). Games that expand gaming’s audience is good for the industry – people who wouldn’t play these games now may, and there’s the potential casual gamers move upstream by buying other core titles. →  [link only works on even seconds]

Review – Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is an embarrassment for the gaming industry. Straight up embarrassment. It’s embarrassing that a game that is over ten years old can be so well made as to put many current games to shame. It’s like the Roman Empire, without all of the strange pedophiliac tendencies but all of the impressive works of art.

Chrono Trigger is the latest in a series of Square-Enix remakes designed to milk old titles for every last dollar and yen. Like Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger is a game that I somehow missed (though I did play the under appreciated Chrono Cross at some point).

Chrono Trigger is, simply put, a pleasure to play. The casual gaming experience (by which I mean, the fights, going from A to B, etc) completely trumps a game like Dragon Quest. →  Tokyo Xtreme Reader: Drift 2