Monday, June 29, 2009

Guitar Hero...Arcade?

You would think that after a few years, most everyone would've gotten either Guitar Hero or Rock Band to play at home. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I found the arcade cabinet at my local movie theater arcade.

Upon further research, I found that the arcade version is based off a limited track list from Guitar Hero III. So, if you don't have any of the latest incarnations of these games and NO friends who own these games, I suppose 4 quarters per play is the best you can do in your local arcade.

Retro Game Challenge arrives

Having a spare gift card can sometimes be a burden, especially when there's no immediate purchases in mind. But while strolling in a Best Buy last week, I saw what I wanted, nay HAD to purchase - Retro Game Challenge for the DS.

I've played the import game in the past through certain means, but have always stalled on getting my own domestic copy. However, with all the recent reports of small sales not matching the humongous praise this game's been getting, I had to show my support and purchase the game.

If you're a retro gamer at heart, you really owe it to yourself to get this title. The nostalgia and simplicity of these fake retro games take me back to a more innocent time when graphics weren't all about realism, the only thing to achieve was high scores, and genres were in their early defining stages.

Sure, thanks to piracy, the game's getting all the attention and none of the sales...which is a terrible, terrible shame. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I've never dabbled in rom downloads myself. Despite that, I'm a firm believer of spending my money on quality products to show my support. You have to respect that, in the end, the game industry is still a business, and no amount of praise for a game is worth anything unless people actually go out and purchase the game as well. And as much as anyone would LOVE to bring over these quirky titles from the Land of the Rising Sun to the States, there are little people who would do it for next to nothing.

It is because of this that I've decided to make this game-purchase post a little different, a little more significant. To anyone who has already purchased the game, thank you for supporting XSEED and their quest to bringing obscure titles to the States.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Conduit has arrived!

Since my hands-on of the game at E3, I've been very enthusiastic about this game's release. Not since CounterStrike did I felt I actually had a competitive chance onlie as I did when I first played with this game's control scheme. I'm looking forward to getting more people excited about this game.

Did I forget to mention that there's Wii Speak compatibility? Oh yeah, finally another game other than Animal Crossing to talk smack!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big Surf Island DLC purchased!

In what was probably one of the most anticipated DLC for Burnout, Big Surf Island and its new bag of achievements, trophies, and cars arrives for download! While the entire DLC includes an entirely new island to drive, crash, and fly around (you're gonna get TONS of air here), the real added bonus is the new cars, 4 of which are toy car versions of the legendary cars. The latter is an even more special treat for me, since the legendary cars pack was the only other DLC content I downloaded.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zero Punctuation review(s): The E3 debacle

To some, E3 is the yearly event that showcases what companies have to offer for the coming year. To Yahtzee, it's a humongous shameless plug of empty promises and ultimate failures.

To others, E3 is at least 2 weeks worth of articles, reviews, first impressions, and hands-on experience on games that have yet to be released. To Yahtzee, they're 3-second nods-and-rants.

So here's Yahtzee's quick jabs and punches at the return of the PR nightmare, E3. Defintiely NSFW, definitely 100% fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Tome of Lost Souls, obtained.

It's good to note that whenever you pre-order a game from GameStop for the extra pre-order goodies, it's best to pick it up ASAP. The whole "while supplies last" gets overlooked too often, causing unnecessary surprise when you realize too late that you're...well, late in picking up the goods. Such was the case when I picked up my copy of Knights in the Nightmare for DS, only to realize I never got my free artbook 2 days later.

In hopes that the artbook was innocently forgotten, I make my GameStop call, only to be reminded that it was "while supplies lasted." Well THAT sucks. (I found out later from an inside source that if the game's paid in full, employees are required to hold pre-order bonuses to your copy - which, unfortunately, wasn't the case for me) It's obvious to note that I picked up this game late (picked it up June 13th, when the game was released June 2nd), but I had my reasons; a family emergency, E3, being 400 miles away from the GameStop I reserved it at.

Turns out, I wasn't the only person boned at getting the free artbook. Seems that Atlus short-supplied artbooks throughout most GameStops, with some even getting too many. In any case, I figured that there may possibly be an untapped store in which the artbook was still available, left behind by another neglectful gamer. Ready to make my round of calls, fortune smiled on me quick when the first store I called up had one more left! After explaining my situation, the GS employee was happy to fulfill my pre-order just from showing my receipt. I still brought my game in for good measure, but soon I was finally bestowed my free artbook.

Mind you, it's free - that doesn't mean that it's in perfect condition. Never before did I remind myself so many times that something was free; the edges were tattered and torn (clearly from constant flipping-through), the spine bent (probably sat on), and the back cover is crinkled (holding the book limply with one hand). In the end, however, all 96 pages of illustrations are intact. Good, at least no one tried to wipe their ass with it.

So, here it is. The Tome of Lost Souls artbook. (Cue lone trumpet's struggling victory fanfare)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Knights in the Nightmare arrives.

During my E3 attendance, Knights in the Nightmare was released. And it took me this long to finally pick up my reservation. Which shouldn't be any indication on what I think of the game. I mean, it's Atlus after all.

That, and the gameplay is strikingly unique and original. Combining a SHMUP and an RPG? Sign me up!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting a second Wii Motion Plus

With the Wii Motion Plus already out there as a pack-in for Tiger Woods 10 and as a stand alone device, I wonder how people will be making their purchases so as to obtain two devices for 2-player action? Most people will buy a game with the pack-in already there, but will you buy two different games with a pack-in? Or will you get one game and the other as a separate peripheral?

Personally, I'm starting to be more inclined towards getting Tiger Woods 10. The near-perfection swings are really enticing me towards a purchase, and would be a perfect compliment to the Wii Sports Resort game coming out in a month. I mean, you'll need two to play the dual swords and table tennis mini-games, both of which are top games in my book.

Are you guys interested in the Wii Motion Plus? And if you are, what will you guys do to get two of 'em?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Zero Punctuation double feature: an inFamous Bionic Commando

Due to last week's E3 outing, I missed out on Yahtzee's Bionic Commando I've decided to roll that together with his review this week for inFamous.

I almost entirely expected Yahtzee to be talking about E3, however...I thought for sure he'd attend the event and give his two bits about the whole ordeal. Now THAT would've been entertaining.

But rest assured, the double-dosage of reviews here should suffice. Between the two games, I inclined to check out inFamous more, with the enticing freedom the open level brings coupled with the ability to electrocute people.

NSFW goodness below, enjoy!

Bionic Commando:


Some hard proof of that "Playing with Mario" story...

Sorry it took a while, but here's the photo that a Nintendo rep helped me take with Charles "It's-a-me, Mario" Martinet. And yes, that's a Mario shirt I'm wearing, albeit with an Atlus band-aid sticker over half of it. And yes, I'm very un-photogenic.

Upon closer inspection, you can tell I caught him in the middle of playing the New Super Mario Bros Wii game, with his Wii-mote strapped to his wrist.

Upon even closer inspection, you can see his clever E3 badge.

Even closer inspection reveals that it's actually a combination of two badges! You can tell the "E3" logo appears twice on the left side. Now THAT'S power!

Then, shortly after this, I got to play the game and two other Nintendo reps. What an awesome experience!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Post-E3: That cat from Monster Warrior

Because I don't know his name.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - hands on

Like the polar opposite of a magnet, we go from the disappointment of White Knight to the sudden excitement of the Dark Knight! (Eh? Eh? Didja see what I did there, with the "knight" thing? And the whte and black,, moving on.)

Comic videogames are as volatile as videogame movies, and usually get overlooked by my gaming radar. So my lack of interest never waned, even with the promise of a huge limited-edition batarang. With low expectations, I began playing the demo. What I experienced blew me away.

It wasn't the murky graphics or the original story that I marvelled (er, "DC'ed." Pure gold.)...but the fighting that I enjoyed the most. Every punch and kick was seamlessly chained together so well, you can't even tell when one punch ends and the other begins.

Lemme give you a memorable example. I was punching one guy in the face, with two other enemies behind me. In a natural fluid motion, I perform a roll motion over the second guy, which transitioned immediately to a creasant kick to the third guy's face!

There are even movie style attacks, like Batman's no-looking-behind-backhanded-fist counterattack, or his cape-spreading aerial glide kick from above. They've even included his trademark grapple-from-above taketowns, which purposely position the camera to give you an optimal view of the enemy being wisked away into the unknown abyss above.

Add to this the random slow-motion of final blows, and you have the makings of almost cinema-like battle sequences sure to qwell the doubts any gamer has to this Batman game.

Friday, June 5, 2009

White Knight Chronicles - hands on

From a company that brought us Professor Layton and Rogue Galaxy, Level 5's upcoming PS3 game White Knight Chronicles was giving me high hopes. What I found was a disappointing game.

For the record, I just jumped into an abandoned station where I'm already wandering around the environment looking for enemies to fight...and I did. Slowly.

First off, you have all your attacks laid out before you in these little rectangular buttons, which you can select by pressing left and right on the d-pad. Once you select one, you can attack an enemy. I don't know if it was just me, but attacks felt like they had a 1-2 second delay before executing. To add to the waiting time, after every attack you must wait for the circular guage to refill again before issuing another delayed attack.

In any case, battles have now become more sluggish than it needs to be. I had to idle my time running around in place, just to wait until my meter's full before getting my attack in. While this might be fine for people that have the time, I certainly don't.

I'm sorry, Level 5, but if the gameplay doesn't capture my attention, then it's not meant to be.

Post-E3: Destructoid robot spotted

Found Destructoid on the scene, right before dishing out a heaping serving of whoop-ass. That attendee didn't see it coming...

Returned from E3, still tired and weary...

Hey guys, just want to let you know I still have a few more E3 posts to put up, but resting up big time in the meantime.

Ghostbusters - hands on

Who doesn't dream of using a proton pack to catch ghosts after watching Ghostbusters? Playing the game does just that, and more.

Handling the proton pack is as fun as it sounds. Not only do you get to shoot your own particle beam, but you can perform your own wanton destruction, and even make your own burn marks on the wall!

Taking down ghosts requires you to wear them out first before you're able to wrangle them in your beam. Once you do, it's a simple matter of wrestling with the ghost until it's over the trap to suck 'em in. And even that's not a guarantee - you need to keep them steady over the trap, or else they may wriggle free from the trap's beam, and you have to wrestle them back over it again.

While it' true that the "cast" is controlled by the computer, it never really feels artificial. In fact, you really feel like youakre working as a team. There would be times when there are three beams locked on one ghost, and it wasn't until I helped out that the ghost made it over the trap. Other times, they were okay fending for themselves while I was on my own.

The humor wasn't over the top funny, but was enough for the game itself to give me a chuckle every once in a while. The cutscenes weren't in the "uncanny valley," and sometimes were comparible to the movies.

Hey, to have a Ghostbusters game with all original cast members reviving their roles is good enough for any fan of the movies to purchase this game and play it at least once.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wii Sports Resort - hands on

You can't avoid Wii Sports Resort when dealing with the Wii Motion Plus. And you just can't avoid the similarities between the free pack-in game and Resort. What you REALLY can't ignore, however, is the much improved controls thanks to the WM+.

I've tried two of the most popular games on the floor - Dueling Swords and Table Tennis - to get a feel for both accuracy and precision, and what I got was just that.

The sword wielding felt quite natural, feeling accurate in every hit I landed. In my best moment, I took 4 timely swings, quickly knocking my opponent in the water - a quick left, right, left, and right blow.

The table tennis game was where I really tested the WM+ limits. With some ping-pong experience under my belt, I mopped the floor with my opponent at 6-1. The amazing thing was that the sensor recognized every spin I applied to the ball, feeling absolutely precise and natural.

Color me impressed and sold.

Critter Crunch - hands on

I find myself getting more and more download-only games lately, so checking out the DLC section is a must. Critter Crunch caught my eye as a good potential puzzler. Gameplay follows a specific food chain that you need to feed the creatures, done with this weird little monster that flicks its tongue to grab and spit out the creatures.

If you're a fan of Magical Drop 3 or Money Exchange, this puzzler would be right up your alley.

God of War 3 - hands on

After an almost 2-hour wait (wtf), I finally got my 15 minutes with Sony's big game of the day, God of War 3. It's really just a God of War game on the PS3 with very crisp graphics!

The demo had me pulling a cyclop's eye out, disemboweling a minotaur, and shoving a beast's own horn into its own skull. There was even a close-up shot of Kratos forceably tugging someone's head off! Everything you like about God of War is here, and fans will get the full experience March 2010.

Where's Waldo?

Apparently wandering around at E3...

Sin and Punishment 2 - hands on

Rail shooters get a bum rap these days. The moment anyone mentions the word "rail," people think poorly of the game.

I personally think that, after playing games that require too much thinking, a rail shooter is a gamer's way of relaxing the mind in a casual and arcade-y sort of way.

This is why I hope games like Dead Space Extraction and Sin and Punishment 2 make it big here when they're released.

The folks at Treasure must've realized the huge sales for their virtual console release, and brought the fans what they wanted. Even the small trophy nod in Smash Bros Brawl might've been a sign or, better yet, an asset from this game. But if you enjoyed the first game, expect more of the same in this sequel!

Muramasa - hands on

Finally, I get my hands on Muramasa (misspelled it yesterday, my bad), and what a game it is. The graphics are simply gorgeous, and I often found myself stopping a lot just to appreciate the layered backgrounds and subtle nods to the artistic style.

The gameplay's execution is as smooth as the graphics, with attacks that flow naturally like an action movie. And it wasn't any button mashing - I knew what I was performing, and everything played out beautifully.

Plus, since it's Vanillaware, there are always the little things that give the game so much character - the way your character sheath their sword away, the small glance at you while they run forward, the swaying of the grass realistically. Every moment reminds me of their other awesome game, Odin Sphere. A definite must-buy on the Wii.

Meeting Kotaku's editor, Brian Crecente

While waiting in line to enter E3, I spotted the clearly recognizable goatee of Kotaku's own Brian Crecente! Got to chat it up with him about casual and mobile games before the doors opened, which was very cool!

And yes, I'm smiling. Not an editor-of-a-highly-read-gaming-blog smile, but just a meh-gaming-blog smile.

On my way to E3...

...I passed by a familiar scene that Heroes fans should recognize - the fountain was in the end of season 1. I've seen it a number of times before, but thought it would be nice to share...enjoy!

Playing with Mario - a detailed story

[UPDATE] Now with 30% more photos!

I decided to return to Nintendo's booth in the last 20 minutes to check out other titles I missed, one of which included the New Super Mario Bros Wii, when who did I see playing? None other than Charles "it's-a-me, Mario" Martinet, with three other Nintendo floor reps!

My lingering didn't go unnoticed when soon one of the reps asked if I wanted to play - to which I admittingly asked for a picture with Charles. Being the very kind man he is (I've met him once before in E3 '06 - the last good E3), Charles and I snapped a picture together.

It was then when I noticed one of the Nintendo reps mysterious went missing. After my photo op, they and Charles were back to playing more Mario with just 3 people. Not forgetting my original intent and seeing the opportunity of a lifetime, I replied to the earlier request and said, "I still would like to play."

Once we were all set, we were selecting levels.

Nintendo rep: "Which level do you wanna play, Charles? How about level 3?"

Charles: "How about...level 8!"

NR: "Are you sure? That level's pretty hard..."

Before we knew it, we were playing the sandy levels of level 8! My player ended up to be the Yellow Toad, while Charles played as Luigi (my fave character, btw). And the rep was right - level 8 is hard, especially when you have 4 people trying to just navigate through the sand geysers and perilless pits. The best moments were when bad things happened to Charles - he expressed his misfortune with his Mario voice going "oh-no" or "why'dyou do that for," which made everyone else laugh.

Level 8 proved too much for our shenanigans ( there was a lot of jumping on each other's heads and pit falling), so we went back to a simpler level 3. By now, a japanese couple also recognize the celebrity playing the game, taking pictures of Charles focused on the screen.

There were moments when it felt like Charles was giving the play-by-play, in his Mario voice, no less! At one time, trying to grab a big coin was a 4-player-jumping-merry-go-round affair, which ended with me snatching the big prize at the end. In another moment, Charles was verbally expressing his intent to secure a Yoshi, to which I silently conceded in pursuing just to here him do his Mario "woohoo"!

Finally, we all passed Level 3, and Charles went back to greet more fans that showed up. By then, it was 6 pm, the day was over, and I left Nintendo's booth happy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

End of E3, day 2

The day's over for the second day here, and there are still posts I'll need to get done today before I sleep. I've forgotten how tiring it is to walk the floors here...

Before I take off to grab some grub, though, I'll leave on this note: I got a chance to meet Charles "it's-a-me, Mario" Martinet! Not only that, but I got to play with him and two other Nintendo reps a couple rounds of New Super Mario Bros Wii! The kicker? He kept doing Mario's "oh-no" voice whenever he messed up! What a great way to close the day! Will post up picture of us together later (sorta wished I had the right setting on my camera at the time, though).

Split Second - hands on

When the racing genre is done to death, where else can you turn to to refresh the game? By blowing up the track, of course!

While other games use powerups and weapons, Split Second gives you the ability to blow up the course to take out the competition, sometimes altering the entire course altogether!

While the concept is interesting, it appears to be the only thing going for it now. I enjoy the hub located underneath the car, though, minimizing the need to search the screen for your data.


While I collect my notes and stamina, here's a large cow from Natsume's booth.

Splinter Cell Conviction - impressions

Seeing what can be done in this game makes me wonder why I never played any of these games before. First thing I enjoyed was the LKP - the "last known place" - that enemies will pursue, marked by a sillouette. This way, you can react to enemies' reactions appropriately.

This and being able to mark your enemies for quick kills is making this game more fast-paced than ever.

Lego Rock Band, not as lame as I thought

If there's a stage and rock band, you can be sure I'll be there...even if it's a lego version.

While an obvious reskin of the Rock Band franchise, Lego Rock band will still have completely new content never before released in previous versions, as well as a new challenge mode strangely similar to Rock Band Unplugged.

In addition, you get the fun of lego customization in this game as well.

And don't let the family-friendly theme dissuade you - there's still songs here from Foo Fighters and Vampire Weekend for others. At an expected 45-song game, Lego Rock Band will still have time to add more by its holiday release.

The Conduit - hands on

Since Halo, I've never found a good first person shooter to be comfortable with. Which is why I believe The Conduit from High Voltage Software will inspire me again of the virtues of fully customizable controls.

After playing a quick match with just the default controls, I was surprised how well I played for the first time! And to think that I can get better if I spent some time tweaking and adjusting is a definite plus!

PSP Go! - hands on

Let's just say it - Sony pulled a "Nintendo."

The system's the same as the PSP internally, and so obviously, there's no second analog stick.

The one and onlu analog stick is expectedly awkward, but the design is nice and light. As others have reported, the floor models don't allow closure, so no insights on that aspect. the smaller screen is a bummer, but at least the resolution hasn't suffered.

Zelda: Spirit Tracks - hands on

If you played Phantom Hourglass on the DS, you're already in familiar territory with Spirit Tracks. It's more of the same, which is not a bad thing at all.

While the train aspect is a bit weird, I certainly understand the reasoning behind it. In PH, the game required you to control the boat's direction as well as attack power. Limiting the travel component to tracks allows more focus on attacks and other game aspects, relieving the user of excess controls. And I'm sure the train's whistle sounds much better without the convention noise.

Everything else is typical Zelda fare, and will be a nice game to idle time with until the next Zelda Wii game.

Red Steel 2 - hands on

Never played the original, but if this wasn't how Red Steel functioned before, then I'm frightened...because this one feels pretty good.

For all it promotes, the Wii Motion Plus (or WM+) does its job nicely. While I still get the feeling that the actions are set, the orientation is pretty accurate. The controls are quick to grasp, and it wasn't long until I was parrying and side-stepping my way through enemies.

Of course, just like E3 '06, the barrage of lights like to screw up the Wii-mote sensors, and the Red Steel rep was kind enough to remind me to point it at the screen every once in a while when he sensed my frustration. It's good to know they're trained to acknowledge the issue.

My only complaint would have to be the camera issue. I constantly forgot that my aiming and turning are solely dependant on my on-screen cursor.

Red Steel is shaping up to be something good for the Wii, so here's hoping that, with a little more fine-tuning, the game will finally get its moment to shine again.

And, for the record, the guy ahead of me played as if he were driving railroad spikes.

Flipnote Studio coming summer

Got a chance to finally check out this free DSi app coming summer. No confirmation yet if this will be the updated version that's been out in Japan, but at least it's comig soon!

Who you gonna call?

That's right.

POM to the rescue!

Before I realized that I forgot to bring water from my hotel room, I just got handed a complimentary bottle of PomX on the street! Thank you street PR!!

Will still need to pick up some cheaper-than-convention-food grub before arriving, though, so will stop by Famima on the way.

Leaving to glorious E3

DSi...check. PSP...check. Camera...check. Everything fully charged...check.

So begins my one-man blogging team! Be sure to catch all my updates here AND at!! I'm off!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Customized E3 room keys...classy!

I heard that hotels were customizing hotel room key cards...but I didn't know MY hotel would do it too! Freaken sweet!

Landed in LA, Pictobitted out.

Got somewhat of a rest on the flight, but not without getting in some more Pictobits gameplay. The game certainly demands a bit more agility in getting the pieces cleared, without cluttering your screen with random bits that get in the way.

The art format of the entire game makes for pleasant eye candy, even when you just peruse the menu system. The retro character reveals are just as exciting, and is enough fuel to plow onto the next level. I can see a lot of hours plunked down into this game already.

In any case, I'm heading to the hotel now to rest up for tomorrow.

Off to E3!

This will be the beginning of many weird random mobile posts that'll spawn from my Blackberry during my time at E3. As of right now, I'm awaiting my flight to LA to attend the show.

Yes, I have missed the first day of the show, but it was for unforeseen circumstances. In any case, I'll be attending the second and thrid days, and hopefully I won't be missing much. As you can tell, I have some idle time at the power station at the airport to charge up my necessities, as well as downloading Pictobits before leaving the house unit.

I'll be periodically updating my blog whenever I take noteworthy pictures, so keep checking Gameritis every now and then!