Friday, February 29, 2008

No More Heroes: Impressions

So I've managed to play through the first 3 bosses of No More Heroes, and I have some good and bad things to say about it.

First off, let's put aside the bad things first. The free-roaming map is lacking. There's hardly anything to do around town - which, by the way, looks to be only populated by roughly about 20 people who do nothing but walk around. All I've been doing is scoping out garbage bins to kick open for T-shirts and money, finding random balls for something (haven't gotten far yet), and using my sword to literally poke the ground for more money. Sure, I can ride around with my motorcycle, but the driving is just shitty. Then again, the game's not revolved around this free-roaming scheme.

Another thing that feels a bit thin is the side quests. Sure, they offer you different things to do, like mowing the lawn and collecting coconuts to free fights and killing people in other minor missions...but these missions tend to be fairly short. And, after you do it once, it doesn't make you want to do it again any time soon...unless you need more money.

Fortunately, there's a lot of good that I'm pulling from No More Heroes that keeps me turning the game back on. The violence, blood, and almost comical mutilations occur every other second when you're in the heat of battle. I say this as any truthful gamer would - taking down your enemies in this game is very satisfying. Sure, the finishing moves are one wii-mote movement away, but your enemies die either with a decapitation or a vertical slice right down the middle, along with copious amounts of blood everywhere. Over the top? Sure. Fun? You bet your sweet Bippy!

And the wrestling moves? Some people think it's something that's not used enough, but I try to use it every time I get. And sure, it's just a simple movement of both the nunchuck and wii-mote, but suplexing your enemies just makes the moment all the more savory. As if your character, Travis Touchdown, said "You're not good enough to be cut by my beam saber" and proceeded to throw him down like a football after, touchdown.

Of course, the wrestling moves aren't enough to take enemies down on their own - which is why they allow you to press A one more time to deliver a finishing blow while they're lying there. And even those are stylishly done. For instance, if you're facing away from your fallen victim, you just jab your sword behind you, without looking back. How badass is that?

The boss battles themselves are a nice trip, with my third boss battle being the toughest so far. I fell victim to her special attack, which was a visual treat, despite the fact that it nearly took half my life. The one thing that I would've liked, however, is to participate in the finishing blow. As it is, the battle is there for you to spend taking out the boss's health down to zero, and then a cinematic takes over to deliver the final blow, as well as more story content.

And what a story it is. You suspect that Travis Touchdown is the protagonist, if any, in this story, but there's no real moment to really cheer him on. He's still killing people, he's doing it without remorse, and he's an otaku. There's not even really a background story of how he got his beam saber (which, originally, was said that he won on some online auction). The game just thrusts you in his shoes, in a situation where he needs money fast, so he decides to take up assassination for the fun of it. If every otaku took this hobby up, I'd be very frightened.

Of course, its the graphics that really shine in this game. And it's no surprise it looks the way it is, coming from the person that originally did Killer 7 (just way too trippy for me to follow). In a time where everyone takes video game realism to the next level, it's nice to see someone taking a more artful approach.

Above all else, I think the most compelling features of this game are the 1980's video game references throughout. Much of the game's interface is pixelated and retro-fitted with green wireframes, and the sound effects sound like they're direct MIDI outputs or something. As somewhat of a final nod to this video game era, at the end of each boss battle, your displayed ranking looks like a high-score screen against a Galaga-inspired starry background. Major points for retro goodness!!

No More Heroes is a game that, while it has its poor moments, still shines as a sleeper hit all the way. It's the closest you'll get using your wii-mote as a light saber for now, but it's the only one where you can draw tons of blood from a star-wars-like weapon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Zero Punctuation review: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

This Lazy Wednesday's graced with a gloriously wonderful review of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune by the ever-witty Yahtzee.

Okay, it's not gloriously wonderful. But it's funny as hell. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday is the week's "appendix"

Today's a busy day. It'll be better tomorrow.

That's all. Really.


Monday, February 25, 2008

No More Heroes, but plenty of blood

I was treated to a nice birthday gift over the weekend - No More Heroes! And after playing the first 30 minutes into the game, a slow and wry devilish smile began to creep on my face. Maybe it's the explicit language or the bloody death scenes...but I think it was mostly because of all the retro 1980-ish video game huds that made me smile. I'll fill in more later this week after a few more rounds of this suprisingly-fun slasher.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Zero Punctuation at the GDC

The absence yesterday wasn't unwarranted, since Yahtzee was invited to GDC yesterday to present his own awards for what he thought he felt needed...well, awarding. Which comes out to only 2 awards. And a year in review. All of it worth watching. Check the censored (yes, censored...not as great, but remember - it was played publically) video below!

Professor Layton and the Curious Village...finished!

I love puzzles. A lot. Enough for me to play a game that revolves its story around puzzles. And an interesting story at that. Sadly, at just under 10 hours, the game is quite short, even with all the searching for hidden puzzles and some of the side quests. But I still have more puzzles from the downloads to look forward to, as well as more in the bonus section. The price of admission could've been lower, though, but I'd like to think it's the artwork and story that pulls the game along nicely. Still, it's a can't-miss game to play.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today's Lazy Wednesday just got lazier...since Zero Punctuation won't have their video until tomorrow. Guess what that means?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Format War is over...Blu-Ray FTW!

Word around the water cooler is that HD-DVD is dead (I'd link this, but you guys can sufficiently search for this yourselves), making Blu-Ray the victor over the format wars. It's nice to see a clear winner in this long dispute, and is certainly a nice incentive check next to a PS3 purchase. Now, if only it had some appealing games to make me really purchase one...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Apollo Justice comes this week!

This week calls forth a new generation of lawyer courtroom battles in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. While I'm sad that Phoenix Wright's tales are over, it's refreshing to see a large company as Capcom keeping a winning structure alive without milking the main character for all its worth. That being said, this game is far from being a simple change in character. With the ability to recreate crime scenes, different and new ways to prosecute, and being the first game in the series to be fully dedicated to the Nintendo DS, Apollo Justice has been a long time coming since its GBA roots. This is one of the few moments that fans really, truly pulled through to get a game proper recognition.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Y'know what this post reminds me of? Another puzzle!

The Professor Layton game is a real thinker, and that's a good thing. Not since Zack and Wiki did I spend a lot of time thinking. However, unlike Zack and Wiki, the game's story and puzzle elements don't quite mesh well together. They're not interwoven into a fine tapestry where not only the story is gorgeous, but the intricate details of each perplexing situation shine through. Instead, we're treated to a "oh, this reminds me of a puzzle" scenario.

I wish I was embellishing this, but that is almost verbatim from the game.

Luke: "Professor, we need to go to this house immediately!"
Layton: "Yes, but first...a puzzle!"

Luke: "Professor, this is a nice garden."
Layton: "Yes, these flowers are lovely. They remind me of a puzzle!"

Luke: "Professor, someone just got murdered!"
Layton: "That is pretty gruesome. So is this puzzle! It's utterly malicious to solve!"

Okay, that last one was really not word-for-word, but the situation's similar. Overall, the puzzles are fun to do. It's it seems that the story gets in the way. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Chu-Chu-Choose you!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope all of you are spending lots on your loved one because...well, that's the reason why prices go through the roof on this special occasion.

And while we're on the topic of love, I had thought I'd spend time talking about a game that could very well embody this lovely day. A game called Chulip.

Some of you guys might know it, some might not, and some just choose to believe that it doesn't exist. Chulip is a game that was released exclusively from EB/GameStop (whatever, they're the same to me) at a lower price than most others, for obvious reasons.

The story follows one boy's ultimate goal to kiss the girl of his dreams, but he realizes that the path to her heart lies in writing the ultimate love letter. And, as everyone knows, the ultimate love letter consists of 3 things: the ultimate pen, the ultimate ink, and the ultimate paper. You must find these things throughout the game (divided into smaller missions) to get you closer in writing that awesome romantic love letter. gets weirder. You need to earn a good reputation around town often to progress. And to do this, you need to gain the villagers' affection. To gain this, you need to kiss them (hence the Japanese sounding word "chu" in the title). Man or woman, you need to get everyone liking you. Including the old man on the corner.

As you can tell, this is definitely more a chick game, but the sheer eclectic nature of the game makes my attraction for weird Japanese appeal go nuts. And yes, my wife is currently playing the game on her own accord, while I'm just here reveling the notion that she's actually playing a game she enjoys. Did I mention you get ranking titles that change according to the number of kisses you've obtained? Her character's now a "frisky man." Indeed.

So, as weird as I feel saying this, see if Chulip's the game for the gaming woman in your life this Valentine's Day. Then you can see if she'll become a "frisky man."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zero Punctuation review: SimCity Socieities

It's Lazy Wednesday, and once again Yahtzee's at it today with a review on SimCity Societies, plus a nice love story at the end. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Professor Layton and the Curious Voices

This is the week when Professor Layton finally arrives on domestic shores, and I'm definitely going to make the purchase. And yes, I'm well aware that it's all in English voice acting.

You may be wondering why I say "well aware." I've been known to critique English voice dubbing over Japanese voice acting, simply because most of the time, the English voice actors hired to complete the task don't have the same characteristic tone as their Japanese equivalent. And, I admit, I'm one of those who refuses to watch a show that's dubbed - or, at the worst case, cringe while being subjected to it.

So why am I not throwing a fit over all of this? Because the game's done by Level 5, which is lately becoming more and more recognized for their quality games (Dark Cloud series, Dragon Quest VIII, and Jeanne D'Arc, to name a few). I mean, the voices done in Rogue Galaxy were done so well, I accepted the fact that I wouldn't even care what the original voice actors sounded like - it's that good.

Already, there are some criticisms about the English voice acting, but I've seen some clips of it, and I don't think it's half bad. I think, over the past few years, English voice acting has raised in quality - partly because now I think the industry is finally using their ears and listening to their customers and their own work. I think people are now becoming more fanboy-ish in their favoritism for Japanese over English that they're not willing to convert. I think the game will/should outshine any doubts over the voice acting, and give people the experience they expect.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The return of the "Guitar Hero"

I enjoy my Guitar Hero. Yeah, I know, I play Rock Band, too, and playing as a group is pure awesomeness...but when the friends are away, there's only solo play. And nothing satisfies that more than Guitar Hero. At least until the third installment.

Forget what everyone else who's passed the game say - Guitar Hero 3 is fucking nuts. I consider myself to be pretty hardcore in the game, doing decently well in Expert Mode in the first two games. But for some reason, the third one just wants to bitch-slap you to the ground, kick you in the gonads until they're soft and tender, then ream the fretboard up your ass and force you to play "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with just your eyelids.

And because of my setup, I've tried the whole "calibrate lag" option to see if maybe the issue is the game's fault and not mine. From 0 msec to 55 msecs and finally back to 0 msecs, I've given up on the whole process and just left it alone.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I played the game last night only to find that I had no problems whatsoever maintaining my combo throughout each song. It's like my guitar-hero-playing skills were somehow rejuvenated by an angel or something...

Maybe I was too flustered back then to focus on the gameplay, maybe the guitar was just out of whack. Whatever it was, it's not happening anymore, and my passion for Guitar Hero just raised a notch.

That is, until I start playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." My eyelids are still tired from last time.

I swear! Last one! Then I'm gonna kick some serious monster ass!

It's not a great feat to say that you've completed 1/100th of a game over the weekend, but in a sense, that's what I did.

Well, not exactly 1/100th. Maybe 1/100th of 1/100th.

The time put into making your characters in Disgaea wield strong weapons is a very intricate and long process, but the output, most of the the time, is much more greater. If none of you guys are familiar with the process, essentially you are given the option to "enter" your weapons and complete the random levels within. At every 10 levels, you can choose to leave your weapon, upon which that weapon will level up the same number of levels you've completed. What determines how well your weapon levels up are the specialists (think of them as living stats) and generals (one every 10 levels) you defeat along the way. Over the weekend, I've upgraded 4 more characters with higher level weapons.

Oh, by the way, did I forget to mention? This has nothing to do with the main game itself. Yes, this is generally a side quest. An intricate side quest, but a side quest nonetheless. Of course, there's always the option to just buy better weapons to equip your party with, but why do that when you can just build stats and level up weapons while leveling up your party at the same time?

But I can't idle all my time into weapon evolution. I've already sworn that I'll just level up weapons, and that I'll make sure all party members have good weapons to fight with. I just need to plow on through, kick some major enemy ass, and make some progress!


Okay, I'll level up one more weapon...

Friday, February 8, 2008

DVD Recommendations: The King of Kong

So I finally watched King of Kong last night, since it was recently released on dvd and I never got a chance to watch it in theaters. I have to say, even for someone like myself that really enjoys his games, the people portrayed (apart from Steve Wiebe) looked stereotypically geeky. I mean, friends-with-the-characters-in-Revenge-of-the-Nerds geeky. A geek on the street would look at this documentary and call the people in there geeks. A part of me wished this was a mockumentary. Really.

Aside from the dork-umentary, the story captivated the competitive gamer in me, and made me a fan of Steve Wiebe, if only because he will surpass Billy Mitchell.

If you're a video game fan - even better, a retro video game fan - you should really check this dvd out. Also, the reverse-cover Scott Campbell artwork is wicked awesome!

[Update] Sorry for the misspelling. I meant Steve Wiebe, not Wiede.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Zero Punctuation review: Call of Duty 4

I wish I can offer more this week, but it's Lazy Wednesday, after all.

At least I got a good laugh from Yahtzee's review of Call of Duty 4. I think you will, too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Post empty post here

To hell with it. Lazy Wednesday's stretching to Tuesday for this week. I'm swamped for the week, and games are the last things on my mind lately.

Monday, February 4, 2008


So yeah, sorry for all the Brawl rants and rumblings last week. I promise to get back to regular video game news, and focus less on the jealously that builds every waking moment at every player that is able to play Smash Bros Brawl while I have to sit here and wait for one entire month before its release!!


Yeah, I'm done.