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. →  Apply directly to the forehead.

Xbox Live Demo Roundup 2

Another week, another batch of new and slightly stale demos to read about….

    Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground

– It probably isn’t coincidence that this one lands the week that SKATE comes out. It looks like in typical fashion, gamers are drawing the line in the sand before releases even occur. The SKATE demo was so good that people are getting hours of entertainment from it, which bodes quite well for the full retail product. Because of this, some already declare Tony dead. THPS loyalists say they are unimpressed by SKATE’s controls and are more comfortable with their failsafe. Personally, I think anyone who doesn’t like the SKATE approach is either simply bad at it, or can’t really appreciate the essence of the sport as much as they can million point combos. →  Videolamer does what IGNotDoes.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.7.07

Molyneux takes a shocking stand – his company is more influential than its competitor
In a recent interview, designer Peter Molyneux said that Microsoft’s Live will be more impactful than the Wii remote. Molyneux was clearly kidding – would anyone use the non-word “impactful” in a serious statement?

Pretend he was serious. Is Live more influential than motion sensing controls? This is not easy to answer, partly because it’s comparing apples to gypsies, partly because the Wii is very young and partly because in some form, both things being compared have already existed for years. At its base level, Live is the internet. Should we thank Al Gore for being more impactful on games than Microsoft? If that’s too far a leap, what about X-Band on the Genesis or SNES? Surely Seganet was impactful as all get out. →  Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Post

Xbox 360 demo roundup!

I have no idea if this will be a regular thing. Depends on how many demos come out on a weekly basis. In any case, enjoy this roundup of recent demos.

SKATE – Jay tells me I’m not allowed to like this one because its name is SKATE. Also it is by EA. I don’t really give a damn. If you want to bury Tony Hawk into the ground, this is the way to do it. SKATE opts for a more realistic skating experience, without being too realistic. One joystick manages your body, the other the skatebaord itself. Most moves involve simple flicks of the joystick in various directions, in some facsimile of the motions for performing that trick on a real board. Grinds will vary depending on what angle you approach a rail from. →  Sid Meier’s Alpha Centarticle

Expansion Packs, Add-ons, Sequels, and Other Crap the World Doesn’t Need

I love the Sims. I am hopelessly addicted to the nutty little people that live in their own world on my computer. I am so hooked to this virtual crank that each time EA kicks out another goofy expansion pack for it, I bite and grab myself a few new locales or items for my little demented Sims to play with. The Sims is a completely genius game while at the same time, a totally evil one. It is a game that is groundbreaking in a multitude of ways, but for me, one specific trait stands out: The Sims franchise, for better or worse, made expansion packs and add-ons a norm of gaming. Sure, there were games before that did it and had success but no game boasts the breadth of expansion-y goodness that the Sims has on the market. →  You had me at read more.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.27.07

Microsoft sort of wants you to buy an HD DVD add on
$20 off is not a good deal for something that costs $200, but that’s the amazing deal Microsoft is giving us on their 360 HD DVD add on. The move feels like a last ditch effort to make it appear that they still have a chance at beating the Blu Ray format. What is it with these companies that are desperate but not willing to allow this desperation to save me a lot of money? The PS3 should cost $300 and the 360 HD DVD doohickey should retail for $19.95.

Then there’s the prevalence of bundle deals. In addition to the twenty big ones you’d save buying the HD DVD drive, you’d also get five free movies. Choose from classics like Seabiscuit, Chronicles of Riddick, and Tomb Raider. →  Finger lickin’ read.

Can’t Escape the Escapism Part 1

There’s something about GTA. After playing it for hours, I found myself walking the streets of Manhattan and contemplating a car-jacking. Don’t tell Jack Thompson, but I know I’m not the only one. My pal and I spent hours taking turns giving the Liberty City Police the run-around. When we returned to the real world and spotted an expensive car, we only had to look at each other to know we were thinking the same thing.

GTA isn’t the only series with this effect on my mind. I’ve walked around malls with Tony Hawk whispering in my ear, “You could use that as a ramp and then grind the fountain. Look over there! I bet you could jump that.”

Sometimes the most mentally invasive games are nothing like the real world, just mere abstractions. →  Lose belly fat now!

Squeezing successful sequels out of lemons

Every generation a handful of tepid titles are chosen as poster children for innovative yet tragically ignored games. If these games were innovative in a way that actual consumers want, they would not just review well, but sell. As it is, these titles range from boring to unplayable. Luckily for developers, the underground hype these games have built up can be harnessed. Couple word of mouth with severely modified design approaches, and these series may yet have some profit potential.

The weak original: Beyond Good and Evil
Ubisoft made many grievous judgment errors with this one. Adventuring and taking pictures of endangered species may be fun for environmentalists, but not American men. To make matters worse, players are given a female lead character to control. This was done because it would be wholly unbelievable that any man would waste his time taking National Geographic photographs. →  All this can be yours, if the read is right.

I can’t shut up about Guitar Hero

A slew of news about the franchise I can’t get off my mind. Come and get it!

– Rumors of a possible pedal accessory for future installments. A cool idea that could backfire. As Tycho at Penny Arcade mentioned, a peripheral for a peripheral is getting a bit crazy, and who knows if they would actually be a pack in or sold separately. Then there’s the question of whether they would have a direct effect on scoring. I would love to see it, but it would have to be done well for it to become an essential part of the game.

– I discovered that GH2 has a code for “hyper speed”, which is the same as a speed mod in a Bemani game. It basically makes the notes move faster, and thus become more spread out and easier to read (I know that might sound very confusing – it did to me at first. →  Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty article.

Why do we buy the games we buy?

I approached some of the videolamer staff a few weeks ago and presented them with the following –

“I want to write something on our motives for buying games but decided that simply asking ‘Why do you buy the specific games you buy?’ is too open ended and abstract a question. Instead, if you list the last three games you bought and explain why you bought each I think that will make it easier to figure out why you buy games.”

Here is my list, followed by some responses.

Happy Arbor Day

1) Okami – I try to support games I perceive as very creative, which is why I bought this, Shadow of the Colossus, Psychonauts, and still want Odama. The amazing reviews did help convince me to buy Okami instead of a different game that’s very original (or at least original looking). →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War

Laying this generation to rest: Dreamcast

To celebrate the new generation of consoles, we will be honoring the last generation by listing our favorite games on each system. These aren’t Best of lists, or games you will die without, rather they are simply the titles we think made these systems special.

The first console of the past generation was the Sega Dreamcast. This proved to be Sega’s final console so while we remember it fondly, keep in mind that emotion partially clouds our view. Teary eyes aside, there is no denying the console had a number of excellent exclusives, most of which were made by Sega themselves. Anyone new to gaming and confused about why Sega exists at all only needs to look to the games they developed for the Dreamcast (and Saturn, and Genesis).

To quote Planet Dreamcast’s comically inaccurate, unbridled optimism:
At the end of the day it isn’t up to us to tell you whether or not you should buy a Dreamcast. →  Actraiser Readnaissance