Review – Braid

We can spend a lot of time talking about Braid, trying to interpret it and stamp out a definitive idea on what it is and what it says. There isn’t much of a point in it though. Braid, for all its flaws, is literature, something that has meaning. Anything I say about its message or its power may be quite different from what you would see on a playthrough. What we can do is look at it as a game.

Braid is a puzzle platformer. Some have called it “just a puzzle game with platforming elements.” We saw it with Portal, where people called it a puzzle game and forgot is was also in the first person. I’m not sure why that happened; Portal’s puzzles often thrive on how the player moves and positions himself, so the perspective (and the controls inherited from it) cannot be ignored. →  God of War: Readnarok

Rearmed and Ready – Are you?

Bionic Commando: Rearmed is now out in all intended formats. If you have one of these formats, and you love the challenge and the feel of classic 2d games, I hope you have it already. If you don’t, might I suggest you give it a download? Until Mega Man 9 hopefully rocks our socks, this is the best thing to come around this year for retro enthusiasts, except for maybe Space Invaders Extreme or Bangai-O Spirits. I don’t want to go too far into discussion (save that for the review!), but suffice it to say that this is a remake that gets it. It feels right, both old and new, careful and bold. Its the kind of game where just seeing it in action makes me happy.

In any case, it is still too early to say how well it has sold, but something tells me that neither I nor Capcom is going to like it. →  Ask not for whom the game plays, it plays for thee.

The next gen consoles then and now

Folks, it has been some time since the “next gen” was actually the next. I think it is about time to call it the current gen, and on that note, I think it is time to re-evaluate the three major players in the race. Much has changed, and my opinion of each console has changed wildly. Note that this is not an attempt to analyze who is going to “win” the console war. I think that it is quite clear that so long as there are games like Wii Fit and Wii Sports released at the right times, Nintendo is going to be unchallenged in total sales numbers. Meanwhile Sony and Microsoft will claim the Wii is not a true competitor, and then spin the numbers to make it look like they were the true winners. →  Lords of the Read 2

Better Late Than Never — Tyson Reviews the Xbox 360

I showed up a couple of years late to the party that has been the Xbox 360. Thanks to my cheapness and the joys of region encoding, I held off getting Microsoft’s newest system while I was in Japan, vowing to grab one mere minutes upon my return to the United States. Over the past two years I have had bouts of jealousy, smug satisfaction, and concern as I watched the trials and tribulations of the Xbox 360 owner. From red rings of death to the release of Halo 3, I have quietly observed from the sidelines and bided my time. Well, that time has come. Holding true to my promise, I picked up a 360 Elite two days after landing in the US and since then I have been sampling the many facets of the console. →  In the beginning games created the heavens and the earth.

Yaris: Bad Advertising and Leveraging Synergies

Remember the Burger King games on the Xbox? Everyone made fun of them for being completely goofy, poor, and representative of the consumer society we live in today.

But dammit, I think the King is hilarious, and by mimicking three of the safest genres out there (racing, minigames, and stealth), they managed to be competent enough for a couple of dollars worth of entertainment. The games sold a hell of a lot, and you knew it was only a matter of time before someone else gave it a shot.

I don’t have to tell any of you how bad this could turn out. The reason BK has done so well with their marketing over the last few years is that they put some effort into how they latch onto trends. Their games were competent enough, and stuff like Subservient Chicken was at least well made Web 2.0 attempts. →  All your posts are belong to us.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.5.07

Dream team created to make MMO
One of the three guys behind Fallout and 17 ex-Blizzard guys all in one development team? You know these are going to be amazingly well crafted fetch quests that change absolutely nothing in a static MMO world. And think of the grinding!

Halo 3 is the biggest event in human history
The release of Halo 3 makes John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald look like footnotes in history. The moon landing is dwarfed by Bungie’s newest game, which sold approximately thirty thousand times more than any other product ever created. There are now significantly more copies of Halo 3 than wheels, and just about the same number of grains of sand.

This game topped the charts in Japan last week, proving that in a tepid market environment an American game can actually sell well in the East. →  Start your journey now, my Lord.

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. →  When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a game.

Microsoft E3 Presentation – Disney movies on Live!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boy did Microsoft’s E3 presentation bore me. Here were the highlights:

– Disney movies coming to Xbox Live
– Short trailers for some good games including Resident Evil 5, Lost Odyssey, GTA4 and the new Call of Duty
– Sales spin – the 360 is expanding the video game market by leaps and bounds
– G4 cutting away during important moments and generally confirming they are actually a local college station
– Many new Live Arcade games
– Scene It, the boring board game, now coming to the 360 complete with easy to use controller for grandma
– Jeff Bell proving there is no God simply by existing
– New grayish green 360 to celebrate Halo 3
– Speech on how awesome MSs third party support is that ignored that Japan largely ignores MS
– Gears of War coming to the PC
– OMFG Disney movies!!!11 →  Article Hominid

Worm$

Worm$

I know the argument about microtransactions has been done to death. As such, let me get my view out of the way before delving into a subject that I think has been avoided publicly for too long.

I like microtransactions and think that the idea has merit. I like buying VC games for a few bucks. I have a job and can afford to buy my TG-16 collection over again for pennies on the dollar. I know this isn’t the case for everyone; I am not writing from everyone’s point of view.

I like buying add-ons. I like Live Arcade and I like picking up schwag/gear/icons/whatever for my games. I endorse monetary obfuscation by way of numeric transmogrification; I think it is a neat idea that my American dollar is actually equal to 80 crazy moon credits and I like spending those moon credits on pointless crap to enhance my gaming experience. →  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Read

Virtual Console Previews/Reviews – Week of April 16th

Wii Virtual Console:

Glass Joe, you were so misunderstood.

Punch Out!! (NES): Not Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, but I actually liked this one better anyway. Quite possibly my favorite NES game of all time. At 500 points, this is a complete no-brainer. Go get this … now. Japan has had this on the VC for about a month and a half now, I wonder what the hold up was? We have it now so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Genesis): The reason I purchased the infamous 32X for the Genesis was for Virtua Fighter 3D and it was well worth the money (at the time). This, sadly, is not the 32X version but the pseudo-3D version for the Genesis. Still fun, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it. →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.23.07

New Virtual Console consoles
It looks like Wii owners will now have the chance to download Neo Geo and MSX games. I’d like to see the original Metal Gear, which is supposed to be significantly cooler than the NES port, and Master System favorites (that were ports from the MSX) Miracle Warriors and Golvellius. Of course the West may never get the MSX emulator because most (or all) of the system’s games are in Japanese. Maybe after Nintendo translates Fire Emblem 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 I will believe there’s a possibility they translate super obscure Japanese computer games on a system 99.8% of Americans have never heard of.

Speaking of Master System, why not give us a Wii emulator for Phantasy Star, Wonder Boy, Zillion, Alex Kidd and company? →  The review for ‘Shark Sandwich’ was merely a two word review which simply read ‘Read Sandwich.’

The current state of fighting games

At the time of this writing, Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter have released new entries on next generation consoles. Tekken 6 was just announced, and I’m sure it is only a matter of time before we hear something about Soul Calibur 4. It seems that fighting games are doing A-okay on the next gen systems. And yet I still get a sinking feeling about one of my favorite genres. I’m not going to go and make an assertion about fighters being doomed to become as niche as the schmup, but I still can’t shake a feeling of worry. Let’s break it down by companies and see why:

Namco/Sega: These two are responsible for the three (Tekken, VF, and Soul Calibur) most popular and powerful 3d fighting franchises. All three have dedicated fanbases that will ensure they do well enough in terms of sales. →  Nobody puts article in a corner.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.16.07

Virtua Fighter 5 sells well in Japan despite reports to the contrary
Despite my rants about how shitty game journalism is, I am often too lazy to be the change I want to see in the world (paraphrased Gandhi quote FTW!). Last week, a little short on stories, I decided to post something that was both very specific to my tastes and not really news. The second part should’ve been blatantly obvious since the story was on kotaku.com.

So now I would both like to apologize for the lapse in quality journalism and for the story being just plain wrong. I have brought shame to videolamer and to my family. If my parents hadn’t stopped speaking to me years ago because I am a horrible disappointment of a son, I am sure they would be ashamed. →  Snap! Crackle! Read!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 1.26.07

Wii games channel coming…some time
Nintendo has confirmed that they will offer new games for download on the Wii, no doubt inspired by Microsoft’s Live Arcade. Since the Wii is already being positioned as the console to develop for if you have a small budget, it should be interesting to see what kind of games are distributed through the games channel (not the official name). Will it be home to crappy Flash games or is this the beginning of the 2D renaissance on home systems? I’m hoping for the latter but won’t be surprised if it’s the former.

Gears of War sells well in Japan
Well enough to break the top 10 list, in fact. Now American developers know breaking into the Japanese market is possible; all they have to do is make one of the best games of the year. →  Jesus: Readful Bio Monster

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.7.06

Japanese game market doing better
The market is up 33% in the first half of the 2006. Unsurprisingly, Nintendo played a large role. While I prepare the next news point, you pick one of the two following arguments:

– The Japanese game market is being revitalized by innovation. The success of the DS is a sure sign that the Wii will do well in Japan.

– The Japanese game market is being revitalized by handhelds. This does not mean their interest in consoles will pick up.

Ok, now find a friend who picked the argument you didn’t. Found someone? Excellent, now debate.

“Damn, I really need to shave my head and lose some weight.”

Microsoft’s iPod killer coming this Christmas
Funny, MS Word doesn’t recognize iPod as a word. A lot of powerful companies have gone up against Apple and none have taken the portable MP3 player market from them. →  Devil May Read 2

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 6.2.06

E3 awards
Wii wins best in show award. So this justifies Nintendo’s actions. When they eventually get trampled in the free market they can at least say, “Oh well, other industry people thought it could work, too.”

Spore won best PC game and best original game. Gears of War picked up a few awards, and the DS Zelda won best handheld. I’m happy to see Bioware’s Mass Effect won something, too, as I am in love with that company. I’m totally having their babies.

Analyst specultes on MS handheld
The Marketeer already broke the news that Microsoft was entering the handheld market.

Peter Moore has started a list of every backwards compatible Xbox game.

Backwards compatibility not a priority for MS
How convenient. Promise backwards compatibility, do a so so job (no Soul Calibur 2?), →  Hell is other gamers.

Weekly News We care About Wrap Up – 4.14.06

Video game skills do not usually transfer to real life skills
Man in his 30s attempts to outrun cops in a car because he did it in GTA. Instead of putting age restrictions on games, there should be an IQ test. Is anyone else waiting for the guy who played too much Trauma Center to show up in the news?

photoshopped

Too good to be true?

Two Revolution games announced
Red Steel is coming to the Revolution, and check out the fake screen shots. Maybe they’re not polished, who knows. The game seems to be another attempt by Nintendo to convince gamers that they can appeal to an older crowd. The choice of a FPS is slightly odd, though. They tend to do terribly in Japan and if the Revolution is to stand a chance, my guess is that it’d have to repeat the DS’s and Allied Forces strategy of dominating the homeland. →  Rule of Read

Weekly News We care About Wrap Up – 3.24.06

PS3 to be region free.
Woohoo. Now I can buy RPGs I can’t play without getting the system modded. I expect this will increase the number of gamers who import titles from Japan, but also eat into sales of Western releases by a little, which is part of the reason console manufacturers always used region encoding.

GameStop makes huge profits.
Buying your competitors and selling used games as new really works.

Errrr
This pic of Representative Keeley is really a stronger argument against her position than anything I could write.

Jack Thompson and Delaware Representative try to brand violent games as obscene, thereby getting around that pesky First Amendment.
According to them games are not speech so they shouldn’t be protected. Since when did artistic expression need to be in the form of spoken words? →  U R Not lamE.