The Hardest of the Corest

Welcome everyone, to the very first (and hopefully not last) installment of “The Hardest of the Corest.” In this oddly-named (and therefore cool) segment , we’re going to tell you a story from someone that shows just how hardcore they really are. We’re talking about stuff like not going to the bathroom for 72 hours to raid some dungeon in WoW. Yeah, stupid stuff that questions our intelligence. And who knows, it may be your embarrassing story that gets featured on videolamer. But more on that later.

So, to kick it off old-school style, I’ll give you my most hardcore story. First, a little background info. I try to use my game consoles for as many things as possible. Take this for example. The most hardcore thing that I’ve been doing lately has been using my DS as my alarm clock. →  Read the rest

The Best Offense is a Good Opening: SOTN

Probably the biggest release for Xbox Live Arcade ever is this week’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Geomety Wars can blow me, and UNO is for “teh kiddies.” Nothing can best that which is Alucard. I’ve been day-dreaming about SOTN all day, and I’ve come to realize something about Konami’s opus: it has possibly the greatest opening to a video game ever.

I won’t spoil anything for the players that have not gotten a chance to play the PS1 version, but just know Konami designed the first sequence amazingly well. It ties into the game before it, it’s extremely epic, and it sets the tone for what’s to come, in terms of scope and plotline. It even had some wonderfully cheesy dialogue to go with it. Take a look at this little tidbit of Machiavellian literature from my boy Richter:

“Your words are as empty as your soul. →  Read the rest

Quick Glance: Review Scores

Is it me, or is the Internet all up in arms about the whole “don’t look at the scores when reading a review” situation? It seems to be the big topic of debate recently.

First, IGN had a podcast where they talked about the games that they felt they had overrated, going in-depth with the idea of the scores themselves and what it means in a review. Then, Destructoid ran a series of articles that detailed why reviews are all out of whack, solely based on the scores. And because those same articles got onto digg, the whole community has something to say, even the big sites. You can see this in the Godfather Wii review on IGN. Scroll down to Matt Casamissina’s comments and you can see the evidence.

I won’t lie though. →  Read the rest

Late to the Table: Gran Turismo 4

I originally got this game when it had reached Greatest Hits status, but only just got into it now. And I have to say that this game is extremely robust. This game would easily be lumped into my “way too long” category in my “How Long Should Games Be?” article.

But one interesting feature that I came across was the Photo Mode. Polyphony gives you the ability to take pictures of your in-game garage and save them onto a USB Memory Stick. You can then take these virtual “snapshots” and print them out at your local camera shop.

Based on the settings you use when taking the photos, the pictures can look amazingly realistic. It then turns into somewhat of an RPG, where you try to take pictures of all the cars in the game. →  Read the rest

GDC: D is for Developer

Wooh boy, it’s been one hell of a week. GDC was filled with some crazy announcements. We had Sony’s “Home” thing, LittleBigWorld, and Peter Molyneux’s “dog” in Fable 2. It started to look like GDC was turning into E3’s successor in some respects. That is, until the Miyamoto conference.

Basically, Shigeru Miyamoto, the one person everyone was looking to for some steamy Nintendo megaton, denied the raving rabbid press and talked about, you guessed it, developing games. No big game announcement or anything of the sort. Just tips on how to make good games.

Apparently the press (or at least Game|Life) wasn’t too keen on how the big show turned out, almost calling it a complete waste of time.

Funny thing is, the damn show is called the Game Developers Conference, and is meant to help developers with their unreleased wares and brewing ideas. →  Read the rest

Sony’s “big announcements” at GDC07

I’m really unimpressed with Phil Harrison’s GDC07 presentation. Not one of the announcements made me re-think my choice to not purchase a PS3.

Playstation Home is basically “Second Life” or “There,” and not in any way new or innovative as the press keeps saying. Why would I want to use a $600 console to make an avatar and hang out in an online version of the Sims? And then pay real money for digital clothes and furniture to show off to people I wouldn’t want to talk to anyway? No thanks. This just seems to be Sony’s lame attempt at cashing in on the Web 2.0 market (the MySpace generation). “Hey kids, you can use this boxed computer and internet connection to talk to other people online. Don’t forget to make your avatar your own by giving us some cash for generic yet ad-supported mechandise. →  Read the rest

Kotaku and Sony Agreed to Disagree

I’m sure you’ve all heard the huge controversy surrounding the rumor reported by Kotaku on the whole “Playstation Home” thing, so I’ll just give you the short story.

Basically, Kotaku searched the Internets, came across a rumor about something called the “Playstation Home”, and posted it for their fellow readers, which is what any good news service would have done. Sony apparently didn’t want the rumor posted, as it seems it may be something that’s going to be unveiled at this week’s GDC Conference in San Francisco, California. Kotaku defended the post, saying it signifies what journalism really is and that it is not a place for PR dribble (amen to that). Sony then blackballed Kotaku, banning them from any future Sony related event and asking for their PS3 dev kit back. →  Read the rest

(Re)Translations present & forthcoming

Those who have played the Final Fantasy VI remake for GBA have surely noticed something in addition to the new Espers and dungeons.

Apparently the game was actually partially retranslated, whether due to the fact that mysterious ninja video game company TOSE actually did the port or because somebody along the localization chain realized it might be a good thing.

A translation making fun of nitpicky fans? Heresy.

Not to disparage Ted Woolsey’s work on the original game (which is nothing short of heroic, as he had just one month for his original translation of FFVI), but the game could probably use it. Some parts were a bit sketchy, others unclear, and the retranslation has generally been received quite well. Many of Woolsey’s original lines were kept in the script as well, so many of the better original lines will still bring back nostalgia. →  Read the rest

Achievements: Crack for Gaming

Hey guys. Sorry I’ve been a little lax on the whole “blogging” thing, but I swear, I have a good reason for it. In the last week or so, I’ve become addicted. To Achievements. Ya know, that thing on the Xbox 360 that gets you to play your games more? You know what I’m talking about. You’re probably going through the same thing right now, but are still in the denial stage. Don’t worry, it will come to you soon.

For the uninitiated, Achievements are points that you unlock when you complete certain tasks in your 360 games. Things like finishing a game on hard, or getting 100,000 points in that sch’mup all unlock Achievement points. The points then go into your Gamerscore, which is basically a barometer of how badass you are at gaming. →  Read the rest

News I Care About: Beta

Don’t worry folks, this is not a replacement of the actual VL weekly news. Its just a blog entry with a clever twist. There have been a few stories I’ve been meaning to discuss, without actually discussing them. So why not just lump them together into one MEGATON (copyright IGN) batch?

– Tekken 6 has finally been announced with some actual screenshots and videos of the game in action. Not long ago I wrote an article about the Tekken series and my attempt to come to grips with it. Part of that article involved reconciling the fact that Namco can’t seem to make an original character design, not with so many other franchises to steal from. I thought I had made my peace, but Namco couldn’t leave well enough alone, and now I’m having my doubts after seeing new character Leo in action. →  Read the rest

Record-Setting Win Gone Unnoticed

I usually don’t like doing this, as it seems a bit selfish of me, but I felt compelled to reveal my dirty little secret to the world. I, Matt, am the owner of the World Record for Mario Kart 64’s Choco Mountain Time Trial, with an amazing time of 1:46:400. This picture is my sole proof of the record in question. I apologize for the blurriness, but I only have a cell-phone camera.

If you search Twin Galaxies’ site, which is THE source for video game records, you’ll see the top record of 1:46:840, which is the Japanese National Record. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Japan, but it appears that your record has now been broken. In fact, it has been broken for about seven years.

Sad thing is, Twin Galaxy will not approve of the record because I never taped the record-setting run, and it wasn’t done under any referee supervision. →  Read the rest

Virtual Console Grumblings

Not too long ago, news broke that Nintendo was offering an updated version of the VC title Military Madness, free for download to those who had purchased it. The new version fixed some horrible emulation problems, and all was good. Though in fact it really wasn’t – while people were glad to see them issue a fix, many more were worried and angry that TG16 emulation is so far less than perfect.

Then the shitstorm began – it was discovered that Mariokart 64 did not support ghost data saves, and some future n64 games would not support rumble. Then Kid Icarus was released without the ability to use certain cheat passwords that were available in the original. Soon everyone was after Nintendo’s head, their logic being “we pay exorbitant amounts for these downloads, and they can’t even give us perfect versions? →  Read the rest

Lame Debate: Twilight Princess or Wind Waker?

Now that most of us have had the chance to play (and hopefully beat) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, I think it’s time we had a debate. Having played both Twilight Princess and 2003’s Wind Waker, which one do you think is the best Zelda of last generation?

Wind Waker was a new take on the award-winning Zelda franchise with a unique visual look that some hated while others loved.

Twilight Princess brought back the same feeling we all had when we first played 1998’s seminal Ocarina of Time, but didn’t bring anything particularly new to the table.

Both are amazing games, but what’s your take on the two masterpieces? Did “Cel-da” leave a bad taste in your mouth? Did Midna annoy you too much with her rude and callous remarks while riding her lupine companion? →  Read the rest

WipEout for PS3: You Know You Want it

This will be the game that breaks the camel’s hump for me with the PS3. Metal Gear probably won’t do it, Final Fantasy definitely won’t do it, and I don’t really have to worry about Fumito Ueda’s next opus because it will probably come out when PS4 is released, judging from their track record. Nope, only WipEout will make me get that second job.

A few weeks ago Sony revealed that the series would be released at some point in the future on the PS3. Details are scant at the moment, but they did say the game would utilize the SIXAXIS motion controls, as well as a possible online mode, which we can assume is either multiplayer or downloadable tracks and vehicles, just like they did with WipEout Pure on the PSP. →  Read the rest

Yay or Nay: Collector’s Editions

In the last few years, many companies have begun to sell a collector’s edition for some of their big games. Microsoft’s Halo 2 had one, as does the more current Lost Planet from Capcom. Usually they contain a nice metal case, a DVD filled with exclusive content and maybe another miscellaneous item. All of this comes with a $10 price increase over the regular version. So if you buy a Collector’s Edition PS3 or 360 game, you will most likely spend $70 for it.

So what say you, videolamerians? Are you excited that companies are doing this, supplying even more content with their games for a small price, or do you only see companies bleeding their customers’ wallets with useless “behind the scenes” footage that was probably edited in an hour? →  Read the rest

Covert Wii Update: Everybody Votes Channel

In a surprise announcement, Nintendo has released a new channel for the Wii, called the Everybody Votes Channel. It’s essentially a worldwide polling station with cute little questions aimed to bring the Wii community closer. The channel is immediately available in the Wii Ware section of the Shop Channel, and is free of charge.

This is seriously out of the blue. I don’t think anyone expected to see something like this. When I first heard about it, I thought Nintendo was finally going to let me voice my concerns over the Virtual Console service (damn those prices), but it’s not exactly like that.

The polls are nothing that important. Take the first one, for example: “What is a more romantic Valentine’s gift?” with choices of “Chocolates” or Roses.” Not exactly what I was hoping for, but it seems that Nintendo is starting to create a community with the Wii. →  Read the rest

Color Me Tickled Pink

It’s becoming readily apparent to me that I need games with a lot of color in them. I’ve been putting a lot of time into Hotel Dusk, and with the black and white nature of the sprites, as well as the browns and grays found in the actual hotel, it’s making it hard for me to willingly jump into the game.

Right now I have the choice of playing either Hotel Dusk or Lumines II, and I always seem to go to the PSP game. It’s sad to say, but the realistic color palette is what kills me about Hotel Dusk. It’s all stylistic and definitely awesome and unique, but I guess my ADD or whatever flairs up, and it takes awhile for me to enjoy myself with the title. Both are amazing games, mind you, but my mind robotically draws to the one with the wider color spectrum, and Lumines has that front covered. →  Read the rest

Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest Impressions

My girlfriend surprised me last night and bestowed upon me the greatest Valentine’s Day present ever given to a human being: the lost, but not forgotten, Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest for the GameCube.

Don’t know what Cubivore is? It’s no surprise, as it’s probably the rarest GameCube game ever made. If you can find it used, the game fetches for $30 at local game stores.

It was developed by Japanese developer Saru Brunei, and it was dead in the water before it was even released in 2002, mostly due to its extremely basic graphical presentation. It first started out as an N64 title, but was later released on the GC. Sadly, the graphics were never really spruced up for the new hardware.

The name says it all; everything in the game, from the land to enemies, are all made of cubes. →  Read the rest