When are graphics good enough?

In an old Edge column, Mr. Biffo commented that he remembers thinking that at a certain point in console history graphics became good enough. Meaning that at whatever point he picked, the release of the 3DO, say, graphical fidelity in games ceased being an issue. Art could be better or worse, of course, but all in all games simply looked good enough.

This era of good enough began for me in 1999 with the release of the Dreamcast. Early 3D looked kind of terrible and even the PS1/Saturn/N64 games with “good” graphics make my eyes bleed today, but Sega’s early jump into the 4th generation (that’s 4th going by Japanese consoles I care about, starting with the NES/SMS) gave us mature looking 3D that still looks good today.… Read the rest

Features for Monster Hunter 4

I try to deny it but I may have secretly been interested because it’s on the Wii and as any Wii game review on most major sites will tell you over and over again the system lacks a plethora of high-quality third-party titles. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have a PSP and the series has always somewhat appealed to me. Whatever the case, I think Pat put it best when he said, “I thought the game would be fun because we could play online together but it’s legitimately a good game.” I agree, Monster Hunter is better than I expected.… Read the rest

Little Big Planet, Huge Enormous Marketing Budget

Little Big Planet 2 is in production and the gaming sites want you to know it.

Currently the front page of Edge has four LBP2 related stories running, including the top article:
An announcement of the game
A news piece on how it is not just an expansion
An article detailing the newest Edge issue, featuring a LBP2 cover story
A story on the new features

1Up is also a little LBP2 crazy, with five stories on the game including the top article:
An announcement of the game
A news piece on how it is not just an expansion
“Six Levels I’d Love To Create Using Little Big Planet 2’s New Features and Themes”
A LBP2 music announcements piece
And the LBP2 debut trailer

IGN has LBP2 as their top story but only sports two other related stories:
LBP2 preview
LBP2 supports Move
LBP2 reveal trailer

Finally, Gamespot follows suit and has a LBP2 top story:
LBP2 preview
LBP2 interview
LBP2 announcement

Gamespot and IGN are behind in terms of Little Big Planet coverage.… Read the rest

Review – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

As my friend drove us out to eat the other night I kept envisioning our car crashing into the one in front of it and that one following suit so that we had three aligned cars that could presumably then cross some screen gap threshold in order to attack some other cars. This phenomenon is usually discussed in terms of seeing giant Tetris blocks everywhere you look but I have also experienced it in the desire to continuously roll up objects. That Clash of Heroes has begun to project itself into my real life is a sign of something – this is the best damn DS game America has ever made.Read the rest

Bordello of Bugs

A few days ago I lost about five hours of time to the notoriously buggy Age of Empires DS. I’d waged a long war of attrition against the Taira and it was roughly round 80 when mid combat the game just froze. Majesco did put a piece of printing paper in the game’s case that warned of bugs, so really it was my own fault.

Ten minutes ago I got permanently stuck in Grandia for the PS1. A river of poison was just too magnetic for my four member party to escape and so no matter what direction I pushed, they simultaneously ran in place.… Read the rest

Review – Devil Survivor

Sometimes innovation doesn’t come from wild, crazy new ideas but from the melding of old. Like combining the wheel with fire, Devil Survivor melds two of the oldest RPG battle systems and the result is a flaming tire of fun. Battles take place on a grid following the standard SRPG trope of battles taking place on grids, but when two combatants meet the map cuts to a standard turn-based party-on-party RPG system. Suffice to say, the integration of these two long lived standards is almost as exciting as the monetary standard integration of Europe following World War II.

What Yuzu lacks in personality she makes up in breasts.
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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.… Read the rest

“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.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest

Breaking: Old news and images from canceled Suda game

Being a game journalist is hard. From thinking of sensational headlines to figuring out how to post rumors as truth, the pressure to deliver stories whether they exist or not can be crushing. Luckily there is a web forum called NeoGAF that any reputable journalist can use as a primary source without that pesky “old man journalist” idea of citing sources.

A poster on NeoGAF believed he found new information about an old Suda51 project for the PS3 that Edge magazine profiled years ago. Other forum members, being significantly more discerning than game journalists, realized this was old news, mocked the poster and then moderators locked the thread.… Read the rest