Soft Boiled Software

When it comes to repairing CD’s and DVD’s, there are a number of practices and household products which people swear can make a disc good as new. I tried several of the most well known methods in my youth, and found that none of them did a damn thing. Brasso, for instance, never managed to make a scratched disc run any better. Same with toothpaste. I even tried boiling a used copy of Devil May Cry. I ended up “fixing” it by buying another copy.

Ever since these failed experiments, I wondered whether any of these methods really, truly could work.  I can report that under certain circumstances, you can fix a game by boiling it. I’m surprised and a bit baffled, but I tried it yesterday, and I can attest to the results. →  Readbot Chronicles

2011 Year in Review

Last time I did a year end retrospective, it posted two months after the end of the year.  I won’t make the same mistake twice in a row.  Here now are the highs and lows from my 2011 in games.  Note, as always, that this is not a “best games of 2011” list, nor did all of the games actually come out this year.  These are simply the best (and “worst”) titles I played within the last twelve months.

The Tops

Async Corp

I actually posted my review of Async Corp. months after the initial draft was first written. and in the intervening months, I hadn’t actually played the game that much.  When I sat down to clean up the review and prepare it for posting, I insisted on sitting down with the game again, to see if it held up to the lofty words put forth in the first draft.  

 →  I'm so excited, my braces are tingling!

2010 Favorites

I know, I know, it’s February 2011, and here I am with a 2010 retrospective. The truth is that this has been written and ready a while now, but only now have I remembered to post it. Keep in mind that these are my personal favorite games of 2010. If one of your faves isn’t on here, chances are good that I simply didn’t play it.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

I put Kirby’s Epic Yarn on this list with a few caveats. I find that the game is significantly more interesting with two players, and in my personal experience, is even better when at least one of those players isn’t particularly good at video games. That’s because Epic Yarn is so cleverly built as to be able to accomdate both kinds of players. →  Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire

The Passion of Tetris

Back in the day, a passion for video games meant a healthy interest in video games as part of a normal, balanced diet. These days, anything than less than full retard could see you harshly labeled as a newbie on some internet forums. But unlike wine or film it is hard to be a connoisseur of the whole of gaming-kind. There are so many games that humans cannot tell you how many there are any more. Thousands? Certainly. Millions? Maybe. It depends. Is every slight mod a separate game? Is every two second flash game a ‘game’? Do not seek the answer to those questions young one, to seek to answer them is to look into the void. By far the best thing to do if you want to really make it in the video game sector is to hyper focus on one tiny tiny tiny bit of gaming. →  Silent Post 2

Review – No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle

No More Heroes was a fine game, but it was one that worked best as a solitary experience. Parodies of gamer, geek, and otaku culture are a tricky business, and the game managed to address this issue well. Going for it a second time around would be pushing it, and having to reconcile the true ending of its predecessor would probably cheapen it in the end.

But really, it was the pessimist inside me that made me most concerned about NMH2. One of the E3 trailers indicated that the protagonist, Travis Touchdown, was going to start fighting as only the 50th ranked assassin. I knew there was a snowball’s chance in hell that Grasshopper Manufacture (or any developer, for that matter) was going to come up with fifty new boss battles to fight. →  [do not click]

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. →  The gamers have only interpreted the games, in various ways. The point, however, is to change them.

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, 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. →  Welcome to read.

Retrospectives – Metal Gear Solid series part 2

Continued from part 1.

My first experience with anything related to Metal Gear was the MGS cover story in Next Generation Magazine. Like any feature on the game should have, the article mentioned that this was not a new series, but the resurrection of an old one. It even gave a brief history of the past Metal Gear games, which made me feel like hot shit in my eighth grade mind, as if I knew something the unwashed masses that would eventually buy the game never would.

Oh how wrong I was. Remember the amazing boss fight with Liquid Snake in the Hind D? Or how funny and strange it was to meet Meryl in the bathroom? How about those great fights in the elevator and the stairwell? We were all blown away by what seemed to be unique moments, but the truth is that Kojima was just refining his older vision. →  Ask not what this post can do for you - ask what you can do for this post.

Is Nintendo Power biased? A semi-serious statistical survey

Nintendo Power is going to be outsourced to Imagine Media, meaning the long-standing and proud magazine will no longer be run by Nintendo themselves. This inspired Jay and Christian to resurrect this old project. Most people claim that Nintendo Power review scores cannot be trusted, or are at least suspect, considering they come “in house” rather than from an independent source. Now that this will no longer be the case, let us look back at the old Nintendo Power and see how they stacked up to the rest of the gaming world when reviewing Nintendo DS games.

A few nuggets of info before we start. The numbers used are the weighted averages from Metacritic, Nintendo Power’s scores, and the minimum and maximum non-Nintendo Power scores. All numbers are for the top 30 and bottom 30 DS games. →  Welcome to read.

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.” →  The fuck does Cuno care about reading?

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. →  Just read it.

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. →  Speak softly and carry a big post.

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. →  NiGHTS into REaDS

Dreamcast Mania! – Canceled games: Forever Denied

Over the last few weeks I wrote about two categories of canceled Dreamcast games, those that were PC ports trying to eke out a living on Sega’s machine and those that quickly found a new home on a competing console. In the final installment of this series I take a look at the most tragic of canceled games – games that gamers never got a chance to play.

Castlevania Resurrection

What was it?
This game was slated to be the third 3D Castlevania and star Sonia and Victor Belmont. The plot line was the standard Dracula-has-returned nonsense; if you’re one of the 36 people on earth who care about the story arcs in Castlevania, please let me know, it would be an honor to meet you. More importantly, Sonia was set to sport a very short skirt and wield a whip. →  Postlanser: Heritage of Read

Dreamcast Mania!: What did we miss? – Headhunter

What Happened?: Headhunter was supposed to come out at the tail end of the Dreamcast’s life. It still did – in Europe. Its US cancellation was a big enough deal for IGN’s Dreamcast channel to review the import, meaning it was as important to them as Shenmue 2. Eventually Americans got a chance to play it on the PS2.

The Game: Allow me to get bold and assertive for a minute. 1998 was the beginning of a new little period in which a flurry of Important Games were released. They reinvented series, changed genres, and refined 3d game design. It ended with the release of Halo in 2001. It isn’t that innovation or good games ended there, its just that, six years later, we’re still copying Halo’s formula. Where we once only had Metal Gear Solid for stealth and Medal of Honor for WW2 shooters, we now have countless games in each genre. →  What is word? Baby don’t read me.

Dreamcast Mania!: What did we miss? – Capcom VS SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting 2001

What happened – I don’t actually remember if there were even rumors of Capcom VS SNK 2 coming to American Dreamcasts, but considering we got the first game, it seems likely that there were. CVS2 would hit the Dreamcast, but only in Japan. In my experience it was one of the most widely imported titles in the West, to the point where some DC groups talk about it like it was a regular release.

The Game – If there is one thing Capcom’s massive library of fighters has taught us, it is that they never did get it right the first time. The first iteration always comes with its share of problems, while the final revision is often tweaked and polished to perfection. It happened with Street Fighter 2 and 3, it happened with Darkstalkers, and it happened with Capcom VS SNK. →  I'm so excited, my braces are tingling!

Gaming Meccas of Japan Pt. 1 — Den Den Town, Osaka, Japan

Being a geek and living in Japan is kind of like mixing Ecstasy with LSD – it’s one hell of a trip. There are four places in Japan that should be on the must-see list for anyone who calls himself a nerd. The big one is Akihabara in Tokyo and I will be covering that in September along with The Tokyo Game Show. The third spot goes to Nintendo’s world headquarters in Kyoto but there isn’t much to see there because no one is allowed into the facility and tours are never provided. The fourth spot and topic of today’s installment is Den Den Town in Osaka.

Den Den Town can best be described as the poor man’s Akihabara. It is smaller in size, about four or five square blocks instead of an entire section of Tokyo. →  Read, you fools!

Second helpings of the DS list article

Yesterday we covered 65 DS games as something of a jesting response to a PSP Fanboy article. Some readers decided to ignore the point of our piece, which was that games are, at least by our standards, the real reason to buy or not buy a system. For those people, we now present a second reason (in their view) to buy a DS — backwards compatibility.

The entire GameBoy Advance lineup is available to a proud DS owner. While a majority of games on that handheld were licensed kiddy garbage, it was still home to some excellent titles you should make sure to play.

After some GBA games, we will then take a look at 10 upcoming DS games that look promising. Like the GBA games, it didn’t seem appropriate to include these yet to be released games on yesterday’s list. →  WELCOMETOTHENEXTARTICLE

65 reasons to own a DS

Recently, PSP Fanboy began a series of articles called “60 Reasons to own a PSP.” They may only be up to reason 45 despite the series beginning a month ago, but today we are showing you everything we’ve got. Yes, 65 reasons to own a DS, but here’s the catch — they’re all games.

PSP fans (we have some at this site) and savvy readers may be quick to point out that PSP Fanboy could have taken the same approach. Forget that it’s debatable the PSP has 65 good games because that’s not the point. The PSP crowd may like games, but we believe the PSP Fanboy article shows what is important to that fanbase.

Features, a lot of features. Nubs, wireless, movies, browsers, messengers, waffle irons. Games are number one on their list, but they still get one sixtieth of the list, like free VoIP (in Britain only) and adjustable screen brightness. →  Beyond Read & Evil

The wonderful centigame: Blizzard custom maps

Every once in a while, I fall into a gaming slump. During these periods, nothing seems to keep me interested in most games I play. They’re either too long or too complex, and I yearn for something a bit simpler to pass the time.

And so, at some point I found custom or “use-map-settings” maps when playing Starcraft. I call them “centigames” – in honor of Wario Ware’s microgames – because they tend to last between a half hour and an hour but still invoke that ADD part of the brain. Through the wonders of Blizzard’s map editor and the “Trigger” system, which allows for unique maps to be programmed, there is a huge amount of games to play – still – for a game more than nine years old.

The campaign itself is simple and entertaining enough, but normal online play can be cut-throat, intimidating, and sometimes repetitive. →  [post launches in virtual reality]