Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Two - If you didn't have the Netflix channel loaded on your Wii before you put in The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword, the Wii will do a 'System Update' that adds it for you. Funny, I just checked for a new system update the other day when I reset my router.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I finally changed the settings of Street Fighter 3:Third Strike on Anniversary Collection to 1-star difficulty and 1 round matches so I could beat Gill with the last few people I hadn't finished with in order to unlock Gill as a playable character. Since I was trying to work through the characters in alphabetical order, I hadn't really used Yun and Yang that much. Once I unlocked Gill, I discovered that since I had been playing SF4 occasionally elsewhere my Ryu skills had improved. I was finally able to get a high enough score once I set the game back to its default settings that I was able to fight against Q. (I even finished the game with only 3 continues and a C++ ranking!)
I finally warmed up to Sonic games. I had a hard time with Sonic Riders and Sonic Heroes, and I had a really hard time with Shadow the Hedgehog, but I started to warm up to the Black Knight game, and I really like Sonic Colors (which my older son is playing right now while I'm typing this.) My older son is really the one that got me started, since Super Smash Brothers Brawl piqued his interest in Sonic in the first place.
I finally played NBA Street, which honestly seems an awful lot like NBA Jam with better music. The character animations don't seem to hold up by today's standards, and the voice-over is a little... unnatural. The game is fine, and considering that I paid around $5 for it, I'm pretty sure that I will get my $5 worth.
I finally accepted the fact that I like using Dan in Street Fighter IV, and I'm now comfortable telling people that's who I use. I seem to have a thing for Dan and Sakura since they're both Shoto-misfits. Sean from Street Fighter III hasn't managed to make me feel the same way about him, though. There's something about his rushing tackle move that makes him seem too different to me. I also know that when and if I ever get my own copy of Street Fighter IV, I'll have to endure endless requests to play as Hakan from my younger son. I played Dan because I have an odd sense of humor, so it makes sense that my younger son would take it one step further.
I also finally purchased a Pokemon game - but it wasn't for me. So, 2012 will be filled with frank discussions about evolution of water types versus dragon types, and what moonstones are for - if we can ever stop playing Skyward Sword.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
The band that I'm in is losing its keyboard player, but we seem to be making the adjustment. I have talked to a few people about the position, but I have not spoken to anyone that I thought would be a good match yet. We're in no hurry to put a new keyboard player on board unless they're really going to work out. For what we do, we need someone with traditional piano skills and modern keyboard chops. Despite all the kids that get forced to play 'Fur Elise' until Zombie Beethoven rises from his grave to eat their fingers off, it's harder than you think to find a substantial keyboard player. And even if you have classical chops - it's no guarantee that you also have the funk.
A big part of what I like about the holidays is that I get to help other people with video game shopping. I was happy to play the demo of The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword at the Nintendo Wii kiosk at Walmart this week, but not as happy as my son was. I only played part of one of the dungeons, but the demo also includes a bird riding section, and a boss battle (and my son played all three sections). We explained to a few passers-by that you needed the Wii Remote Plus for the game, but that it improves the swordplay a lot. I had to stop playing after a couple of minutes since the controls are slightly different from Twilight Princess and I didn't want to pick up any bad habits just yet. I was also a lot happier being able to recommend the Xbox360 or the PS3 to people with younger kids now, since Microsoft and Sony have made real strides in the last year in widening their audience. But, my most favorite thing this holiday season is being able to answer the question "Is that Batman game any good?" with "Yes, it's awesome" after so many years of telling people to stay away from any licensed games that weren't "Goldeneye" for Nintendo 64. Oddly, the first Batman game in that series (Arkham Asylum) didn't spend too much time on Walmart's shelf, and I can't even tell you why. It's just as good. Maybe it's because the original game wasn't a holiday season release, or maybe it's because there was some Gamestop promotion that overshadowed anybody else selling the game.
Other than doing some random cubing demos at the local elementary school holiday breakfast while all the kids were throwing snowballs, and at the top of the bridge at our local boat parade, my cubing activity has been somewhat minimal.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Last Saturday, I picked up my third copy of Soul Calibur 2, the GameCube version. I really enjoyed the PS2 version, and didn't seem to enjoy the XBox version as much so far. Not that the XBox version is bad - it's just the only difference in the XBox version is Spawn, who I didn't really 'get' as a Soul Calibur character. The GameCube's exclusive character is Link from the Legend of Zelda. With all of the Twilight Princess and Ocarina and Phantom Hourglass nonsense going around at the house, I felt like I should see what Link was like in Soul Calibur, and I felt confident that we would get our $8 worth out of it.
Last Sunday I managed to get two completely different things done in the gaming arena. First, I went back to Sengoku Basara and finally unlocked Nobunaga. As soon as I did, I was asked by my older son to turn off the Wii so that I wouldn't start a 'Hero's Story' with him. Second, I went back and took another swing at New Super Mario Bros. Wii, only to finish the game and discover a couple of extra boards that I had missed. It's really easy to skip World 8-7. There's still a lot to do, but I was really impressed by how Nintendo managed to keep people engaged during the credits, and give players a substantial reason to get all of the star coins beyond just opening up the various hint movies.
I hadn't really played either game in quite a while, and I think the only thing I had going for me was a fresh approach - but sometimes that's all it takes. I always hear that the number of gamers that finish games is a really low percentage, I never believe the numbers, and I'm always disappointed.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
There are some things that #2 son can't do that well, but they don't bother him much. #1 son did most of the boss battles for him, and some parts of the dungeons, but #2 son just wants to run around in the towns. He's not quite reading yet, so he doesn't really interact with the information on the screen that much. He's still excited about being able to chop a wooden sign in pieces with his sword. He discovered on his own that you can pet the goats at the ranch. Even more surprising, he discovered that if you attack a chicken enough times, you can control it for a few seconds. I know that he discovered it by himself, because if #1 had read it on the internet and told him, he would have thought that you had to attack the chicken with your sword (which is much harder than it sounds). #2 son figured out a much easier way - Z-target the chicken and attack it with the Clawshot. I was unaware of the glitch myself – and when a 4-and-a-half-year old says "Dad if you shoot the chicken with the clawshot enough times you can control him" it's typically going to be met with skepticism the first time.
So, it got me thinking. As a gamer, trained by previous Zelda games, or Doom, or Quake, or Metroid, we're conditioned to 1) figure out where we need to go next, 2) go as far as we can until we reach some obstacle, 3) get the thing that allows us to overcome the next obstacle – be it a key, or a weapon, or some device that shows us a passageway that we couldn't detect otherwise, 4) surmount obstacle, and 5) repeat. This series of steps creates very linear gameplay, and it also creates a system where designers shoehorn a bunch of things into areas of the game to make sure you have all the weapons or items you're already supposed to have before you proceed. It doesn't always work – there are lots of fans of certain games that delight in finding and exploiting 'sequence breaks' – but it works most of the time if the person playing the game is trying to play within the perceived 'rules'. Sometimes it would be more fun to just be able to play around, but often we're so conditioned to doing things a certain way that you can't (the designer is too conditioned) or don't (the player is too conditioned) really do that.
I really enjoy playing golf games, but only the 'cutesy' ones. (Does Outlaw Golf count as cutesy?) I don't want to have to mimic a perfect golf swing, I just want to strategize how to get through a fairway and on to the green without hitting poor little animated squirrels in the head. My current game is Capcom's "We Love Golf" for the Wii, and I have to say that it was totally because Chun-Li and Morrigan are unlockable characters (and it was on sale). Often times, I have played these games wondering why they won't just let me wander around the course. You could switch between a walk-around mode and standard golf mode, leave collectible items around the course for you to find, post a sign somewhere on a shed about game techniques, or even put a little bit of extra fan service in terms of locations. You could get to play on the Racoon City Country Club course, or perhaps a series of locations from Street Fighter or Zack and Wiki. I suppose the reviewers would complain that "The only way to get all the extra bonus items is to wander around aimlessly in first-person mode, which is a complete distraction from the actual golfing." I don't like that Gran Turismo can't just figure out what cars that you have are eligible for the race that you just tried to pick and let you select one of them instead of the car that you just switched to three screens ago in the "Garage" because you thought that it was eligible for the race you just picked, but hey – that's just me. One guy's fun new mode is another guy's ridiculous distraction. (Did you know that there are people that have Smash Bros. Brawl and have never played the Subspace Emissary mode?)
I guess what I'm getting at is that it would be fun if we could just get back to the play aspect of playing games. I get annoyed when developers seem to forget that part, and sometimes I am envious of my younger son for being able to do that, even in the most linear of games.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I had played the regular PS2 version of Virtua Fighter 4 many years ago and couldn't get into it at the time because I was playing a lot of Tekken and I seemed to have bad habits from Tekken that prevented me from really digging into VF4. It also didn't help that VF4Evo came out for PS2 just weeks after I finally bought a cheap copy of VF4. In disgust, I traded in my copy of VF4 the next time I unloaded some games. I had only traded in games a couple of times, mostly to thin out my collection to stuff that I'm still willing to play , and I was clearly not playing VF4. I have tried this series several times, and it doesn't seem to click in like Tekken or Soul Calibur or the Street Fighter games do. I suppose that it could be argued that since I haven't been playing Virtua Fighter since the first one, some of the standard conventions of the game are foreign to me and it would take me a while to get into them. This makes sense, I seem to have a similar problem with the King of Fighters games.
So, I suck at it. I can't do the moves where you have to press two buttons and let go of one of the two buttons after a single frame. I haven't found a character that makes sense yet enough that I can move past the button presses and just play the game. But, I can see that this is a great game with lots of depth and strategy because I am familiar enough with Tekken and Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive to see that Virtua Fighter does a lot of the things that those other games do. In several cases, they are more simply and cleanly done in VF, largely because of the 3-button interface. I have a harder time with the combos in VF because they don't match into the muscle memory of the other fighters I have played. I decided to start with Goh, since he is a new character in this version of the game. I have even fewer expectations about him than I might about the other characters, and a strange fondness for him because he reminds me (appearance-wise) of Brian Fury from Tekken a little bit. They have the same manic intensity in their eyes.
As a side note, during the time that I was writing this, I got to play a little Tekken 6. Bryan Fury plays mostly the same, but for some reason he doesn't look as good. Something is wrong, perhaps he fell down in the 'uncanny valley' a little. My favorite new character is the quick and versatile Alisa Bosconovitch. The yodeling music on the sheep board is a laugh riot.
The other game, Tournament of Legends, was originally just supposed to be a gladiator game, made especially for Wii in an attempt to get the Wiimote and Nunchuck controls acting like your sword and shield. The preview of the graphics were somewhat impressive for a Wii game, but as I recall all of the characters were human. Before they had a distributor, the game was just called 'Gladiator A.D. '. In finding a distributor, developer High Voltage went with Sega again, having distributed some of their other more recent games. Around the time of making that decision they ended up changing the game to have more mythological characters in it. I can only presume that Sega wanted them to broaden their audience and go for a 'T' rating. The weapons and the attacks that were shown in the original version of the game were not changed much, only the characters themselves seem to have changed. It probably made the story of each character a little more interesting than if they had just been random gladiators or barbarians. My older son likes the idea of the game, especially being able to switch the weapons and attributes among the characters. While he is perfectly happy using the Wiimote and Nunchuck to control Tatsunoko vs Capcom, he switched to using the Classic Controller for Tournament of Legends after just a few playthroughs. I warned him that we might have to switch, especially if he felt like the motion controls weren't doing what he wanted. My biggest problem with the game is that the camera is placed oddly for a fighting game. The original 'Gladiator A.D.' version of the game put the camera mostly behind your character for single player mode, making your character slightly transparent so that you can see the stance and the movement of your opponent easily. Its revision moves the camera off-axis a little more than that, but it's more like 35-40 degrees now instead of 15 or 20, and the foreground character isn't transparent. Also, you are not always the foreground character, so depending on who is ahead in a round, sometimes the viewing angle switches. If there is a massive swing in the direction of a match, there is a massive swing in the direction of the camera. It's odd enough to play a fighting game from a wacky diagonal perspective, it's even odder to have to play it with your character sort of facing you and not being able to see what move the computer controlled character is about to do because one of its hands are being shielded by their body.
Between the attempted implementation of motion controls and the odd visibility issues, the game is not as engaging to play as most fighting games. The background elements are interesting, as each one has its own quick-time event required to dodge away from various environmental hazards, but after a while you start rooting for the Kraken or the Giant Crab to just take out the two fighters and end the match. The armor system for the characters is also innovative and interesting, but it's hard to direct an attack to a specific area of your opponent when the controls are hard to deal with in the first place. It would have been nice if they had taken advantage of the Wii Motion Plus technology, or at least offered it as an option, but there is the concern that it would 'break' the game and confer too much of an advantage to a Wii Motion Plus player against an opponent with the standard controls. Ultimately, my problem with the game is that it's a step backwards in many respects and High Voltage could theoretically gotten some help in that regard. There's no particular reason that a fighting game for Wii has to look worse than the GameCube version of Soul Calibur. Granted, High Voltage is not NAMCO, but there's no reason they couldn't have gotten some help from Sega. The controls feel sluggish – again, Sega could certainly helped them out with this as well. How a fighting game plays has so much to do with the feel of the controls and the pacing of the action. I'm sure that Sega's AM2 team was busy with Virtua Something-or-another, and I'm sure that even if AM2 had given High Voltage some pointers, they wouldn't have seemed as important as ideas that came from within the team. I really wanted to like this game, and I will still hold out hope for new companies to make a good fighting game every once in a while. Maybe High Voltage Software can take what they learned in making Tournament of Legends and refine it into something that will get their partners at Sega to take notice.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I was pretty excited to hear Nintendo's official announcement about their new console. I am glad that they decided to make it compatible with both the old controllers and the old games, because if I had to go through another cycle of buying controllers in this economy I really don't think I could. The only problem I'm having is that the new name. "WiiU" - am I supposed to think of college, Homer Simpson, or what I now have stuck in my head?
Just like I already have the remix of the Yoshida brothers song "Kodo" completely associated with the Wii, Blur's "Song 2" will be stuck in my head just for the "Weeee Ooooooo" right at the beginning of the song.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I had been reminded before that bad controls can ruin a game. I wasn't that excited about Resident Evil 2 at the time that it came out, because the loading screen between rooms and the tank controls were a big turnoff, especially with having to fend off zombies. Even though RE2 had made big improvements over the first game, it wasn't enough for me to want to play it because during the few instances where combat was required, I felt totally ineffective. Since one of the two characters you play as in RE2 is a cop, you would think that feeling ineffective would be a bad thing. The designers played it off by saying that the control scheme increased the player's fear, making something that was only slightly scary somewhat scarier. For me, that wasn't it. It was feeling like I wasn't really controlling the character that kept my immersion level in the game pretty low. I liked the story and the characters, and I even played the Resident Evil light shooter game Dead Aim, since you could actually aim at your targets in a useful way. When Resident Evil 4 came out, I thought that most of the problems that I had with the controls had been fixed. When I tried to show RE4 to my buddies, however, they viewed the game in the context of first-person shooters and were annoyed that you couldn't strafe or even shoot while moving. I was too excited about an over-the-shoulder camera to care at that point. The Wii version of RE4 did me one better by allowing direct aiming with the Wiimote. (Awesome!) So, I was immersed in the game sufficiently.
Now, let's go back to Killer7. Moving the character in that game is mapped to what normally would be the action buttons for a Gamecube game, A and B. A to go forward, B to turn around. Any feeling of directly controlling the character with the...
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
For me, this was an important lesson in following my instincts.
So, today when the little voice in my head said to stop by the Play N Trade store because I'm never usually near it, I listened. I scored the DS version of Desktop Tower Defense, which my son was pretty jazzed about, but what I was really excited about was scoring a copy of Metroid Prime Pinball, also for the Nintendo DS handheld. I had given up on this game since it was released pretty close to the original release of the DS. One of the nice things about Play N Trade are that they still have games and accessories for older systems there - there were a few dozen N64 games, quite a number of PS1 and XBox games, and I even saw a few Dreamcast controllers thrown in there along with the pink Xbox360 controllers that some retailers are having a hard time moving.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I think this may have repurcussions in some of the big box stores - it might actually hurt their 3D TV sales a little, as some customers knowing that this new technology is now available will wait for it to trickle up to larger screens instead of dealing with glasses. I will be listening for store employees that make odd comments about that, also.
Viva la 3D Revolution!
P.S. My older son is _really_ going to bug me for Okamiden if we go out to the store to look. I can hardly blame him.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Haggar certainly has a lot of moves that are similar to Street Fighter's Zangief, but the Red Cyclone never had to whip out a big lead pipe in the middle of a combo.
The powerful and beautiful Phoenix finally graces the screen, waiting for us to be able to handle her awesome power. She has homing fireballs, air fireballs, giant Kikoken style fireballs, flaming rushdown moves, and great range on the ground. I guess if Capcom's Dante and Trish are fair game now, there's no reason to hold back on Marvel's mightiest mutants.
Akuma and Taskmaster were just recently announced, but it took a few days for them to show up on the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 website. Akuma is simple - he's been in so many games that most people expected to see him. He's more of a draw for flashy players than Ken is, with his more varied moveset, air fireballs, and punishing super moves. Typically, this is offset by Akuma taking more damage from opponents. True to his original nature as a hidden character, Akuma is an unlockable character based on accumulating 'play points' during the course of playing through the game, similar to the home versions of Marvel Vs Capcom 2. Akuma is packed full of more moves than ever, and his air combos look pretty vicious. Here's his trailer.
Taskmaster is getting the same unlockable treatment as Akuma. In the comics, he's a mercenary with the uncanny ability to mimic anyone's moves in battle - just the sort of thing that reminds you of Mokujin from Tekken or Olcadan from the Soul Calibur games. Here's Taskmaster in action.
You'll see him doing a lot of Cap's and Spidey's moves here, plus some serious arrow action. I wonder if that means we should expect to see Hawkeye later, since this game is already Avengers-heavy.
On a side note I'm pretty proud of #1 son for finally defeating Megahammer in Super Mario Galaxy 2 after being stuck on that board for weeks.