Love the Capcom

This is a transcript of a presentation I gave at the Women’s Institute last week.

In the ongoing, victimless, and utterly pointless console wars Capcom is America. It’s selling arms to everyone. Ammunition for all the fanboys to use on each other. Sure the Wii can’t do Dead Rising but then Zack and Wiki just wouldn’t work on the Xbox 360. HD is the only way to play Resident Evil 5 but then is there any greater pleasure than being able to carry around the entire original Resident Evil around on the DS? Science says no. So as the fanboys shoot each other down in flames Capcom continues to produce a stream of the greatest games that ever existed. So here are the reasons why I love Capcom.

Sure, we may all have our Capcom favourites. →  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.

Review – King of Fighters XII

The King of Fighters XII has been out for close to four months. I have had it since day one. I apologize for the delay, but I finally came to terms with why it took me so long. KOF XII is not a good game, and my old review tried to hide it by going over every detail and feature while ignoring the big picture. And the big picture is not pretty.

Here’s the problem – SNK had a vision, one that involved taking this franchise in a slightly new direction. Tag battles, quicker combat, and a new story and new characters were all in the cards. It may not be what everyone wanted, but it was a good excuse to keep the series going well after it probably should have died. →  The review for ‘Shark Sandwich’ was merely a two word review which simply read ‘Read Sandwich.’

Review – Shadow Hearts

Continuing my trend of catching up on PS2 RPGs, I picked up the Shadow Hearts series a few months ago. Since a recent spate of games (including Demon’s Souls, which seems to be a videolamer favorite) has kept me busy, I’m just now making my way through the series. The PS2 may have an impressive spread of RPGs – as I’ve discovered, still playing games I had barely heard about – but Shadow Hearts really stands apart, despite being an early game on the system that hasn’t really aged well.

By far the most impressive part of Shadow Hearts is the atmosphere. Set a little over a year before World War I and taking place in both East Asia and Western Europe, SH manages to portray a surprisingly realistic world, given its focus on demons both internal and external. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

Games With No Reviews I Agree With

I realize Metacritic is more than a little unpopular, but despite all of the problems produced by its aggregate scores it still functions well as a convenient index of professional reviews, which is my reason for referencing it in this post.

Gears of War 2 — I came late to the party on the Gears of War franchise, but it still had a fairly active and large fanbase that kept the hype alive and is also what eventually convinced me to play it. When I finally started playing my expectations were set especially high, and thus I was especially shocked when I discovered exactly how much I disliked everything about it. This game was such an unenjoyable experience for me that I went on to write a review of my own. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

Review – The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, was not simply good relative to other licensed games. It is one of the best games in its genre, both upon release and to this very day. People with no interest in the genre have picked it up and had a blast. Shooter fans were stunned that something that looked so derivative on the surface could be so engaging. While it might not have been quite the miracle that Goldeneye was, it was still a blessing, and hopes were high that developer Starbreeze Studios could take their formula and strike gold again with The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.

Let this be another lesson on the importance of execution when it comes to making a good game. All of the elements that made Butcher Bay a classic are back, but arranged so that they have hardly any potency. →  When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a game.

Review – League of Legends

League of Legends, the stand alone Defense Of The Ancients clone released by Riot Games, bills itself as better than DOTA. The good news: it lives up to its billing. Without a doubt, LoL is a superior product to DOTA. This should not be surprising. Being able to draw from established source material, recruit one of the recent caretakers of the map (Pendragon) and build a real, non-volunteer design team, made the first part of Riot Games’ job easy. But credit should be given where credit is due: these ingredients do not automatically make a good game, but Riot has ensured that they have taken the best of DOTA and added much more.

As one would expect, there is much to love about LoL. The evolution of the DOTA concept can be extended to two distinct aspects: the community interface, and the game itself. →  Xenoblade Articles X

iPhone to utterly destroy Nintendo and Sony

While searching the web for cats that look like Wilford Brimley, I stumbled upon an article on John Carmack’s view of the iPhone. He thinks it will pose a significant threat to handheld gaming devices. I think this is stupid. There are always the traditional reasons the iPhone won’t steal much thunder from handhelds: the battery life isn’t long enough and the lack of any actual tacticle buttons is a turn off for many and hampers control, but I am more fond of an analogy.

Proponents of the iPhone argue that developer freedom over content and cost will separate the platform from competitors. Let’s try this same argument to explain the death of game consoles:

Man of the Future: Did you hear about this new platform that nearly everyone in the country owns? →  Final Post VII

“Screw you America” – Nintendo

Why doesn’t Nintendo release every game they create in every market? The traditional glib answer is some variant of “Nintendo is a business and not a charity.” This may be true, but some companies have found a way to both make money and pay tribute to their medium. For example, HBO is known for keeping shows afloat despite poor ratings. These “prestige shows” are too good to simply cancel and for the sake of television as an art, HBO keeps them on the air.

Nintendo has made billions of dollars selling video games and has some of the most dedicated fans in the industry; it seems like they should not only be a producer of games but also part of the video game vanguard by protecting and honoring interactive entertainment. Unfortunately, Nintendo and Nintendo of America more specifically simply do not agree with this philosophy. →  All you need is read.

Review – Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon

After a few minutes of playing Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon I realized that this was a game that I’ve always wanted to play but never knew existed until recently. I was quite late to the party since the game came out in the early 90s, back when point and click adventures were cool and “interactive movie” sounded like something futuristic and not something cheesy. It was also a time when technology didn’t quite know what to do with itself; for some reason Access Software couldn’t quite figure out how to use a keyboard and mouse to make someone move around a 2.5D world in a way that makes sense, and there are specific instances where the smooth gameplay suddenly breaks into jagged fragments.

Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to be able to load Tex Murphey in DOSBOX and travel back in time to the past’s virtual imagining of the future. →  We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we play.

Numbers Are Fun – Back by Popular Demand

After a long hiatus I have once again been induced to write an update on the financial state of the video game industry. My plan is to divide this write up into two main “chapters.” This first one will cover the “hard” numbers: hardware unit sales and earnings reports. The second will cover the “soft” topic of average player profiles, including online connectivity, hours per day, tie ratio, etc. This section promises to be densely packed with numbers, but it should not require an MBA or a degree in statistics (at least it shouldn’t, since I have neither). Please note, I will cover software sales with the “soft” numbers, since it is not easy (possible?) to get reliable software numbers.

Most people who follow games closely, whether or not they specifically check sales numbers, probably have a rough idea of how each of the three consoles has sold so far this generation, but putting some actual numbers next to these impressions should be helpful. →  Disaster Readport

Review – Ninja Blade

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but don’t tell that to us gamers. We love to find copycats and string them up. Whether it is this year’s triple-A game taking ideas from last year’s, or some media darling that stole its innovations from an ancient and obscure release, we will find the progenitor game, and we will make disparaging remarks.

Of course, we seldom practice what we preach. Kill.Switch may have dabbled with cover long before Gears of War, but we know which is the better game. On the other hand, most gamers shunned From Software’s game Ninja Blade as soon as the early screenshots showed us what looked to be a shameless clone of Ninja Gaiden. Even when the reviews rolled in, the same sentiments were common, despite the fact that Ninja Blade has quite a different purpose. →  Readlevania

Review – 100 Classic Book Collection

100 Classic Book Collection for the DS is awesomesauce. That’s the gist of this whole review for those of you unwilling or unable to read further. However, for those with some staying power I will qualify why it is such an amazing condiment after I clarify that it isn’t a game.

100 Classic Book Collection is not a game. Don’t be confused by the packaging, the little box and the little game shaped cartridge. When you pop the cart into the DS and open it up you will not find a game. Instead you will find an assortment of 100 classic books to read. It could have been that simple. Here’s 100 books. Read them all. Cheevos for reading all of them. But much like an exotic alcoholic cocktail so many extra bits have been squeezed in to make it all the more worthwhile. →  Let’s get read-y.

Return to Yokosuka

Last night I finally succeeded in persuading a friend to start Shenmue. It had been a long, drawn out affair. He agreed to play weeks ago but there was always some reason to put it off: my girlfriend was there and would be bored, a Nic Cage movie was on TV, I just got a PS3, I couldn’t find the VGA Dreamcast cable and wasn’t some sort of barbarian who could use S-video, a different Nic Cage movie was on TV, and so on.

As always happens when sharing something close to the heart with a friend, I was very nervous about how he would react. When I explained that at one time it was the best looking game on the market he said, “Yeah, this looks really good for 1991.” →  It might come in handy if you, the master of reading, take it with you.

Review – Persona

Nothing but Playstation remakes. The PSP seems to be relegated to the unusual role of a “Remake system”. Nearly all the RPGs (which are, of course, the only real games out there) on the system are remakes, or generally reputed to be bad. And Persona is falls neatly in the first category, as you might expect.

But as I’ve written before – the Persona we received back when it was among the first in its genre for the Playstation wasn’t quite the same game they saw in Japan. Set in the sleepy US town of Lunarvale (which still managed to house a several-storied corporate office), the American students (who all wear school uniforms and are taught in a traditional Japanese concrete-block school) face an invasion of demons from an unknown source. →  One must imagine video games happy.

Demon’s Sells

Niche publisher Atlus USA is known for having a strict policy of printing very limited quantities of their games.  This allows them to keep costs down, and it keeps their fanbase in a rabid state wherein they will scoop up any new releases right away, even if they have to wait a year to find time to play it, or have to give blood to afford it.  But every so often, when the moon is full, Atlus decides to bless us with additional print runs.  The last notable example of this was in 2008, when they did a quiet reissue of three Shin Megami Tensei games on PS2.

But this month saw the publisher jump to action with far greater speed, shipping an emergency second printing of their new PS3 RPG Demon’s Souls just two weeks after its release.  →  We have the best words.