Review – Persona 3 FES

Atlus used to be rather stingy about bringing games over. We received the first Persona, sure, but it was missing a large sidequest and the story was changed to make it take place in the US. We didn’t receive the first half of Persona 2, although the second half came introduced us to Atlus par: a good translation, but a small release that could not match demand. They are finally making up for their earlier slacking with Persona 3: FES.

FES contains the original Persona 3 (called “The Journey” here) with tweaks and improvements as well as an epilogue in the form of “The Answer.” Between them, we get about 100 hours of solid, story-heavy JRPG, all for the wonderful price of $30.

For those who weren’t reading the first time around, Persona 3 is about a group of highschoolers who find themselves wielding a power, called Persona, that they don’t fully understand. →  Hell is other gamers.

Murdering children does not grant you magical powers – More thoughts on good and evil in games

I started to write this as a postview of one of my favorite games, Beyond Good & Evil, when it occurred to me that there has been a lot of talk over here at videolamer recently about, well, good & evil. Shota seems annoyed both that so many games are overwhelmed by universe destroying, Pure Eeeevil, and also about the preponderance of good characters that restore our faith in the good ol’ dependable U.S. of A. and its various institutions. I largely agree with his frustrations, but this post is an attempt to complain and moan about the recent spate of games that ham-handedly try to explore good & evil within the plot and structure of the game: such as KOTOR, Fable, and Bioshock. Also, I’m going to propose a better way of doing it. →  [post launches in virtual reality]

My First Import

As much as I love this hobby, the truth is I have never bought import games before. I’ve been given one (as seen in picture), and played quite a few, but never did I lay out my own cash. The main problem was finding a way to play them. I just didn’t want to spend extra money for a Japanese console/fliptop/Freeloader disc in addition to premium price for the game itself. As for the Dreamcast, I didn’t realize its import friendliness until it was too late. It hasn’t been much of a hindrance, as localizations for worthy games have become more common (even for fighters).

This weekend I finally brought home my first import game, Salamander Portable. It was a nice and easy choice. The game was apparently imported by at least a few non-specialty retail outlets (including Fry’s), and was common enough that some shooter fans talk about it like it received a US release. →  Onimusha 2: Samuread's Destiny

Eve Online: Second Life for Hardcore Gamers

I hate Second Life. I don’t understand it. I already have a job. I already have a house. I understood Sims because the part where your Sim went to work (at least in the versions I played, they put out so many expansions my view is probably distorted) was skipped and my Sim just showed up home with money. Periodically he’d play on the computer or play chess and get smarter and get promoted. Then he’d come back from work with a bonus and I’d spend his money on nice shit. It wasn’t bad; in fact, I wish my life were like that, where I’d step outside my house, 8 hours go by and I’m home and playing video games again.

Second Life fails to me because it’s like the Sims, but you have to grind out money (or directly buy it). →  Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Post

Metal Gear Solid: The Settle Collection

As the PS2 winds down, it has become quite popular to release cheap three game collections for it. Until now, the best one out there was the Devil May Cry pack, but now it has been usurped by Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection. With the first three MGS games for $30, this is the perfect way for MGS newbies to experience the series before it signs off with its fourth and final entry. Whether it is worth it for long time fans is a tougher question to answer, as this package is shy from perfect.

The content is the toughest question. Metal Gear Solid comes in a nice DVD case, but is the original Playstation pressing, meaning you will need a PS1 memory card. Annoying, but you can’t really ask them to recode a budget release. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

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. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.1.08

New game from Parappa masterminds
Well this sounds promising. A new Wii game from the creator and lead artist of Parappa the Rapper. What’s this, Majesco is publishing it? That’ll be ok, a good idea doesn’t need 10 million dollars to work. Err, it’s a marching band simulator? That… sounds cool. I mean, I’ve always despised parades and anyone who likes them and walking around while playing music makes as much sense as reading while performing ballet, but… Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind?

90% of American DS owners pirate games
This comes from the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association and is wrong. It is so wrong it makes normally unbelievable things believable. If you told me the butter on my bagel was not actually butter right after telling me that 90% of DS owners pirate games, I wouldn’t think twice. →  Speak softly and carry a big post.

Review – Growlanser: Heritage of War

The third Growlanser game we’ve received stateside, Heritage of War, is actually the fifth in the series. We received Growlansers 2 and 3 as the last games of the late Working Designs (what is Gaijinworks up to, anyways?) in the Generations package. This game is a more than adequate successor.

Similar to the third Growlanser, Heritage of War is a Strategy RPG with leanings toward the RPG side. You move around the world exploring cities and caves, but when a battle starts, you enter a sort of active-time strategy mode in which you can pause anytime to give orders to any of your allies. For those of you who’ve tried Final Fantasy XII, it’s a lot like that with a faster pace and pausing while giving orders. In random battles, your allies’ AI can usually take care of things on its own. →  Apply directly to the forehead.

Review — Eternal Sonata

I dislike bullet point reviews almost as much as I dislike people who smile too much and eat pasta salad. And yet, there are so many different aspects of Eternal Sonata that bear commenting on that I find myself gravitating towards the wretched format. So, instead of cleverly disguising a bullet point review with the absence of bullets, let me simply reassure myself that “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me” and dive into the shallow depths of sound bite commentary.

Quick review: Eternal Sonata is a truly beautiful but ultimately flawed game that delivers barely enough substance to warrant my recommendation.

If only all mothers of 8 year old girls were 16.

ES got largely positive reviews both on major US review sites and in the international community. →  Do a barrel read!

My little piece of gaming sentiment for the past two years

October of 2005 was a severely messed up time for me. I was newly divorced, living with one of my best friends, and had just found out that in several months time I would be moving to Japan. My life has always been kind of weird but the Fall of 05 was the pinnacle. Back then, gaming was an escape. My real life kind of sucked and games were an escape for me. I had an Xbox I had modded, a PS2, and a Gamecube. What I lacked in a love life, I more than made up for in pixilated goodness.

When I wasn’t playing video games, I was sleeping or at work. I hated my job and I didn’t sleep often so it can be said that I played a LOT of video games. →  To be this lame takes ages.

Others help SNK shoot itself in the foot

If you are a modern day SNK fan like me, you know the company has done absolutely squat to promote its games. The only one of recent memory to get a serious push was the original Maximum Impact, which featured a collectors edition, classy packaging, and ads during sporting events. Everything else, including MI’s far superior sequel, has had anywhere near the publicity. Every game has been a near silent release, to the point where people aren’t even sure of a solid release date. I have heard the faintest of buzz about Neo Geo Battle Colliseum, but this is completely the doing of fans and curious people who have been wondering why it has taken years for a port of it to show up.

Because of all this, Videolamer will be one of the first US gaming sites to review the American release of King of Fighters XI on PS2. →  Read Theft Auto 4

DS games on the go!

So you have a DS but you don’t have the time to sink into long playing sessions. Or in my case, you have the attention span of a seven year old on crack. The whole concept of the aging process bringing patience is a lie and I’m living proof. When I was ten I could sit for hours and rock Final Fantasy 2 on the SNES, now I can barely sit through a thirty minute session of Phantom Hourglass. I think I am turning into more of a casual gamer and I know for sure that my mind is usually elsewhere when I flip the switch on my black-as-my-soul DS.

This does not mean that I don’t enjoy games anymore; I just don’t get overly involved in most of the games I play. →  The Read Star

Numbers are fun – November ‘Nihilation

There has been a lot of good sales news for the industry over the past month. Enough numbers have been released that PR people from all three console manufacturers are able to claim some victory. We have all grown accustomed to hearing that Nintendo’s grandparent-friendly hardware is setting the world ablaze, but recent information has shown that its competitors may be gearing up to offer a viable challenge. The biggest headline probably has to be the fact that Nintendo DS sales set the record for most systems ever purchased in a single week with 653,000. This, combined with 350,000 Wiis sold during the same period adds up to…a lot of stuff sold by Nintendo during Thanksgiving week. The Wii is still supply constrained so it’s tough to say how many units Nintendo could be moving, but the Wii reached five million units in the US sold faster than any other system in history, doing so in a mere 12 months. →  Sid Meier’s Alpha Centarticle

Are you ready to rock? … well you can’t.

Way to go EA / MTV. Way to f up the launch of what should have been your biggest title this Christmas season. Rock Band launched today, or so gamers were told. In reality it seems like there were only a handful of units shipped to retailers with little or no warning about the shortage. The only press release I’ve seen even hinting at production shortages was unearthed yesterday, in which the EA spokesman said that there might be a little supply crunch … until MARCH OF 2008!

Best Buy held midnight launch parties at about two dozen locations across the US and reports are coming in that a large majority of those stores got shipped a paltry number (one store in Kentucky received two PS3 bundles, and that’s it) or no games at all. →  Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Authors, Nine Articles

Videolamer Votes aka Should Tyson Sell His PSP?

The amount of handheld consoles I have had over the years is nutty. I’ve laid the smack down on Tetris, old school style with the original Gameboy. As I suspect color television enthralled people in the 1950s, I popped a gamer boner when the Gameboy Color rainbowed its way on to the scene in the early 90s. And no, rainbow should never be used as a verb unless I O.K it… and I just did. Come to think of it, the only Gameboy iteration I have never owned is the Gameboy Pocket. I also own a GP2X and a PSP. I like my handhelds.

Despite my undying love for pocket-sized gaming machines, I have never fully accepted the PSP into the fold. I had money to blow in Akihabara one fine Spring day last year and there was nothing else I was dying to have, so a white PSP found its way into my backpack. →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War

Time to Give to a Good Cause

14dc_1.JPG

We all know Gary Coleman. How could you not love a 4′ 8″ guy that appeared in one of the 80s most iconic shows, Diff’rent Strokes? Back in the day, he was a veritable one-liner machine, churning out gimmicky quips in the blink of an eye. Lately though, it seems that Gary has fallen on hard times and is forced to part with his Gamecube. Hard times for Mr. Coleman means an Ebay auction for us and an autographed Cube for the winning bid, which is currently just over $500.

Just looking at that pitiful mug makes me want to bid a few bucks just to help the guy out. I mean you know he is in trouble when the very table he is signing away his Gamecube on is littered with a bottle of pills, an empty beer bottle, what could either be another beer or cough syrup, and a US passport. →  Welcome to read zone!

Gaming Meccas of Japan Pt. 2 — Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan

Every hobby and every religion has their sacred place. Baseball fans have Cooperstown. Gamblers go to Las Vegas. Catholics go to the Vatican. Maple syrup lovers go to Canada. For us, the nerds, the geeks, the otaku, we have Akihabara. It is here that we can fulfill our wildest, dorkiest dreams. If we feel like buying the newest video game, Akihabara. If we have a craving for that awesomely drawn manga, Akihabara. And, if we just must be called “Master” by a cute little maid while we have our morning coffee, you got it, Akihabara. There are very few places in the world where a video game lover can come anytime of the year and feel at home. And just like home, Akihabara also has plenty of porn.

The downside to the place also called Akiba is that it is in an inconvenient location for most of the world’s electronically inclined. →  They’re reading her… and then they’re going to read me!

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.” →  Hey, hey, hey, it’s time to make some crazy reading!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.21.07

PSP outsells DS in Japan
Square’s Final Fantasy VII spin off for the PSP, Crisis Core, sold half a million copies last week. It also sold PSPs. Possibly not all of the 95 thousand Sony sold in the week, but likely around 80 thousand, which is how many more units were sold than the previous week. Sony’s business strategy should be clear – simply release a spinoff of one of the most beloved games of all time once a week and the PSP will handily outsell the DS in Japan 1.2 to 1.

Or, to quote someone from a forum I read:
“If DS stopped selling and PSP continued at this rate, it would catch up in 139.7 weeks (May 21, 2010).”

Does anyone else feel nauseous?

Home delayed till Spring
Good for Sony. →  Up to 6 billion readers.

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. →  SaGa 3: Shadow or Write