Tales From Behind the Counter – The Walking Dead

I love zombies. I love zombies so much that I would be lying if I said there weren’t nights that I have gone to bed hoping to wake up the following morning in a full-blown zombacalypse. In many ways this column and my video game store are in a state of zombie purgatory, not quite dead but not completely living either. Let me explain:

About two or three weeks ago a series of events transpired that granted me the magical power of telepathy. In the subsequent moments of enlightenment, I learned that the people who own my video game store were running into some serious financial issues in terms of the stores and keeping them running. We are not talking a missed phone bill payment, we are discussing a shambling, fetid, corpse of over $10k debt. →  Fine, but this article then no more.

Review – Civilization Revolution Demo

As the name might imply, it’s hard to make a full judgment of Civilization Revolution based on the demo for a few reasons. The game is time limited, you can only play on “pussy” or “Jay” mode (we’ll let the readers decide which is worse), both giving you bonuses significant enough that it’s hard to get a flavor for real balance. The Civlopedia isn’t full, so you can’t analyze all the techs without playing countless times, and you are limited to two civilizations. Despite these limitations, what you can do is get a good feeling for how Firaxis dramatically changed the game-style of Civ while still keeping it Civ–a paraphrased sentence you’ve heard over and over again about the game which is an excellent way to open up this review.

This is unrealistic.

 →  A reader is you.

Quick Impressions – The World Ends with You

I’ve put around five hours into The World Ends with You and besides the “I cut myself to see if I can still feel pain” emo moniker I am very pleased. The battle system makes use of both DS screens simultaneously and though movement of your character via stylus is sort of spotty, everything ultimately works together nicely. The music is absurd Japanese pop that’s both infectious and terrible and the graphics are very stylized – this is one of the few DS games that has a AAA presentation and Squeenix deserves praise for actually trying. Of course the game flopped in Japan and will likely follow suit worldwide, so their effort will be entirely unrewarded and they will realize what a huge mistake taking a chance was. Life is back to normal. →  Reading. Reading never changes.

Review – Shiren the Wanderer

Shiren the Wanderer is the video game equivalent of Candide. Think of something that can go wrong and it will, but not in the normal “I locked my keys in my car” kind of way. Like its literary inspiration, things don’t just not work out, they go absurdly wrong. As in “I locked my tiger in my car but forgot to unstrap my newborn child from the baby seat” wrong.

Shiren meets so many untimely deaths so often that it seems the game is mocking you. The most ridiculous deaths at least allow you to join in the laughter. For example, on the last level of the game a minotaur picked me up and threw me into a corner, then proceeded to pick up and hurl another minotaur at my head, followed by an undead mage, followed by the final boss itself. →  Xenosaga 2: Jenseits von Gut und Pöst

All you ever need to know about Japan

After spending 10 nights in Japan I am now qualified to make sweeping statements about the Japanese culture. The following are immutable truths (told in a convenient pros and cons style) about this wonderful and bizarre country:

Pro
Suntory Boss is the boss of them all since 1992.

There’s no use denying it.

Con
Japanese people seem as pro-Japan as Americans are pro-America. I was asked by one of my gracious host’s fathers why we came to Japan. He was an awesome guy but really pushed hard for an answer he found satisfactory. I think the question was probably just mistranslated and he actually asked, “How awesome is Japan?” The same day, a man on the street approached us and told us in English that “Japan is number 1.” With proof like that who was I to argue. →  Read more, before it’s too late!

It’s the end of Civilization as we know it, and I feel fine (I think)

There has been a recent hullabaloo about the pending Civilization Revolutions game. Having realized that the hardcore 4X PC gamer market is not as lucrative as say, every other platform, Firaxis has set about developing a new “made for console” version of Civilization.

Because a move like this smacks of “selling out” and “destroying the game concept,” and it coincides with what can only be described as criminal negligence of the Beyond the Sword expansion, the community has been at best, suspicious, and at worst, behaving like forum trolls at a n00b feeding frenzy. And they have every right to have this attitude.

For starters, Firaxis is cultivating as much ill will as humanly possible with the Beyond the Sword expansion. The launch version (like all PC games these days) was bug ridden, requiring a patch. →  Densha de Read! Shinkansen

The State of Japanese Gaming Plus A Couple of Signs That the End Times Are Upon Us

As I type this, I am covetously inspecting my growing stockpile of canned goods and rice. Earlier I cleaned and loaded my Colt .45 Airsoft pistol with silencer and under barrel flashlight (think Metal Gear Solid 3). Within the next couple of hours I will be ready for what I am guessing is either going to be the zombocalypse, the Second Coming, WWIII, or possibly the release of a Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits album. One way or the other something bad is going to happen and I am going to be ready.

The Japanese are doing curious things that have tipped me off to our fast approaching doom, let me explain.

First, as I was browsing through the video game section of one of my local electronics stores I spotted a Japanese man loading up his shopping cart with: A) Halo 1,2, and 3 B) An Xbox Live membership card and C) one or two other 360 games that I couldn’t make out. →  Hey, hey, hey, it’s time to make some crazy reading!

The Sony Guide to Committing Game Console Suicide

Step 1: Create A Technologically Difficult Console. Decide that games don’t really matter and it is console specs that sell new gaming consoles. Create a partnership with IBM that introduces a very fast processor into your new gaming machine. Since games don’t sell systems, it is no big deal that this new bleeding edge CPU is very difficult to design titles around and port titles to. After dealing with the new CPU you decide to throw in your newest form of optical drive that shoots the concept of a decently priced system all to hell.

On top of that, you force yet another media standard on to consumers, something you are already notorious for. Lastly, you decide that the internet is a fad and that people don’t really like Microsoft Live so you figure that there is no need to include anything remotely close with the new console or your business operation. →  I got served!

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. →  Start your journey now, my Lord.

Morning Glory Issue 001

In this first ever issue of Morning Glory, we see the typical setting of two gamers talking. One day we might see three gamers talking, or even four. This morning only required two though, so only two there are. Bring forth gamers one and two.
—-
It’s the typical setting of a conversation. There are two people. One fellow clearly favours the food, whilst the other obviously doesn’t favour it as much.

Porky decides it’s his turn to start off a deep and meaningful conversation. His expression suddenly turns sullen, and he takes in a deep breath.

“Hey man.”

“Hey.”

Porky fucks up starting a deep and meaningful conversation. Nevertheless, he ploughs on with vigour. He takes another deep breath, as if launching into a long speech.

“Have you heard about Manhunt 2 being banned in Europe? →  U R Not lamE.

Best Game Ever – Master of Magic

Back when Microprose was still making games, they came out with a bunch of ideas for similarly themed titles spanning multiple universes. Although Master of Orion, Civilization, and X-Com were all well and good (that is to say, well, very good), my favorite was always Master of Magic. Master of Magic took the best parts of Civilization and being a wizard and put them together.

You play a wizard starting with control of one city, and your goal is simply the annihilation of all other wizards. You pick a difficulty, pick which spell types and special enhancements you want, and go. A randomly generated map is created, and you get to start playing.

Red Creek. What a depressing name for a hamlet.

The elements of Civilization come into play with city management. →  PaReader the Reader

Lament of a lost developer

Once upon a time, there was an innovative game design company. Though they tended to use mainly the historical as backdrops for their titles, they came out with a wide range of interesting games and managed to release them for several platforms despite fairly intense console rivalry. It was clear there were individual designers in the company with a passion and talent for game creation. Now, several years later, this company has grown stagnant. The only games that it seems to spend any money on are rehashes of the same genre. The innovation that still exists comes primarily from the company publishing the efforts of various subdivisions or studios.

Sound familiar? It could be one of several names, since it’s a common malady, but in this particular case I’m speaking of Koei. →  18 Wheeler American Pro Reader

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 11.10.06

One of the worst Top Ten Worst Games of All Time lists
Top 10, 25, 50, whatever lists are one of my worst enemies. They are vacuous and a cheap excuse for content. Even an unnumbered list is significantly better because from the outset the author wasn’t just trying to fill a number of slots. This link is to one of the dumbest Top 10 lists I’ve seen in a while but since it’s posted on a major site, many big blogs picked it up. Oh, the injustice!

Significantly worse than Postal.

It seems as if the author of this list may not play games. He acknowledges that peoples’ opinions will differ and that it’s hard compiling a list of the worst games ever made, but that caveat doesn’t save him. →  [send private information]

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 11.3.06

Halo movie indefinitely stalled
That a Peter Jackson backed Halo movie probably won’t get made despite the fact that Uwe Boll continually releases game based movies is beyond hilarious. Clearly, if there is a god he is evil, or maybe he just has a great sense of humor.

A scene from the upcoming Castlevania movie.

Castlevania movie coming
Odds are, this movie will be slightly better than Van Helsing. The problem is that Van Helsing is solidly on “so bad it’s good” ground, and so Castlevania, by being better, will be worse. Castlevania’s only hope is to be crappier than Van Helsing (or actually good, but let’s not get crazy) and therefore better. This all makes sense, right?

PS3 launching in Hong Kong and Taiwan on November 17
As an American, it is my god given right to believe I am more important than any damn foreigner. →  You think about everything.

Review – Harvest Moon DS

Seriously, did you ever think a farming simulator would be a fun game to play? Of course it would be, how silly of me. Finally appearing on the DS, Harvest Moon DS brings the enjoyable horticulturalist gameplay to the dual-screened handheld, but not without its fair share of problems.

In Harvest Moon, you play as a young man in charge of his family’s farm. In all previous HM games, there has not been any back-story, so don’t be surprised that you don’t find one here, either. Just know it’s up to you to restore your family’s farm to its once graceful status.

Cat…hand stroking it…nope, I can’t think of anything clever to say about this picture.

The only thing that could be remotely called a storyline in HM is the argument between the Harvest Goddess and the Witch. →  Do the math.

Best Game Ever – The history of puzzle games leading up to Baku Baku

Some day in the far off future, Tetris will be played with six screens. One screen will feature the gameplay while the other five will show images of unrelated games being automatically played. All five other games will be superior to Tetris.

Once upon a time there was an evil Communist engineer named Alexey Pajitnov. Don’t bother asking Alexey if he is an evil Communist because, like all evil Communists, he signed a blood oath with Stalin (and possibly Hitler) to hide his menacing ways should Soviet Russia ever fall. Anyway, Alexey was a genius and in 1985 he bestowed upon the world a video game he liked to call Destroy American Freedoms. This was later renamed Tetris.

The premise of Tetris was to line up American freedoms in order to destroy them. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

Review – Phoenix Wright

Phoenix Wright has turned into somewhat of a cult classic in the past few months. I remember hearing about Phoenix Wright in Japan (named the Gyakuten Saiban series) for the GBA back in the day. The games (there are three in total) were immensely popular, going straight to the top of the charts. I really didn’t understand why, though. I just thought it was a Japanese thing, like those pachinko and horse betting games they have there. I mean, how fun can it be to play as a lawyer? Apparently, pretty damn fun.

On the outset, Phoenix Wright is merely a point-and-click text adventure. It’s heavily based on its storyline, well, because pointing and clicking is as fun as milking a cow (not to make fun of Harvest Moon fans). If the story wasn’t solid, the game would fall flat on its face, and thankfully, Phoenix Wright doesn’t disappoint. →  Now you’re reading with power.

Review – The Ship

This game is 50% murder, 50% fashion.

Wander over to the video game design laboratory, and mix together a bizarre concoction of FPS, the Sims, and old school board game Clue, and you’ve got yourself The Ship Online, a Steam based game developed by Outer Limits. Originally a mod for Half-Life, The Ship followed in Counters Strike’s footsteps of selling out. In this fun filled game, you run around a 1930’s luxury cruise ship, being hunted by other passengers while seeking your own quarry to cruelly execute through any number of bizarre ways.

Ordinarily, I couldn’t care less about a game’s back story, but in The Ship’s case it’s helpful to explain the game’s bizarre premise and how it plays out. For whatever reason, you are on board a Cruise liner courtesy of a Mr. →  All your posts are belong to us.

Lame Discussion: Console War – Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s Part 1.

________________________________
Christian: I really want to know how many people are still drooling for a new Sony console. This gen is the ultimate test of the Playstation brand. One thing is for sure: a new PS3 is financial suicide simply because of the defect rate on Sony consoles.

Dan: I feel the PS2 was the perfect system for the casual gamer, and had a little bit of everything. I don’t know what will fill that void now. Besides a combination of the Wii and the 360.

Golden Jew: Let’s not forget the feeding frenzy when PS2 came out. It was hella expensive, hella rare and were the launch titles THAT good? Granted, the games were still $50.

Christian: They sucked.

PS2 launch titles may have sucked…IF YOU ARE DUMB ENOUGH TO OVERLOOK FANTAVISION!

 →  Jet fuel can’t melt videolamer.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.14.06

Phil Harrison doesn’t think Sony is arrogant
Phil is one of my (many) mortal enemies and it just so happens I compiled some of his best quotes and posted them right here. He may be more talented, successful, and smell less than I, but he is still a douche bag. You see, I don’t lie in public. And when I do, it’s just posted on a tiny little site no one gives a shit about. My lies reach dozens of people, his reach possibly millions. He also makes a lot more.

Violent crime may not pay, but amorality seems to be the road to success (fine, so lying for your employer may be immoral, not amoral. But if he is willing to kill for Sony, then perhaps he is amoral. →  Disaster Readport