Monday, June 15, 2009

Video Games give Dio no love

Dio, one of the Gods of the metal world and the debated purveyor of the 'Devil Horns' hand gesture, has bad luck when it comes to the gaming subculture. First there was Holy Diver for the Famicom that sadly never made it to any North American shores: Obviously inspired by Ronnie James' mythos but with no credit given. A few rays of light shone through the dark clouds when Holy Diver the song was including in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s but soon dissipated since the game was priced at $50 and was a glorified expansion than anything else.

Things looked bad on the Dio front until Guitar Hero: Smash Hits was announced; it would get showcase best songs from the first 5 games and make them all band friendly. Imagine, the ability to sing to Holy Diver: to ride the tiger! But, we all know how this story ends. Ronnie James was once again denied by the Guitarrockbandheroverse as the song did not make the cut.

Now, Joystiq reports that Dio has been cut from the greatest metal game ever, BrĂ¼tal Legend. It all goes back to Ronnie James' vendetta with Ozzy Osbourne over Black Sabbath and the Prince of Darkness' appearance in the same game. Tim Curry is set to be the voice replacement and while the man can sing, he's no Dio.

There is only one way to rectify this huge injustice; Guitar Hero: Dio.

Oh yes. The day will come (no it won't).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Screw the Hardy Boys...

I just picked up Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek for the Wii at Rogers today. You can take a moment if you need to.

I can wait.

I do understand.

Now that you're done basking in my machoness, prepared to be stunned by my deal-getting-ness... er, yes. When the cashier rang in the game along with Battle of the Bands (Wii as well), the amount came up to $0.00 for Ms. Drew, that cheap floozy. Don't ask me how it happened; the woman at the cash said, "Just go with it." And I did. And I felt like a man as she called out the name of the game in the store in front of everyone (see 2 people) and underneath the blair of an episode of Family Guy.

It might not be Zack and Wiki but it's an adventure game and they're awesome. Don't even argue against it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What is this strange flippy thing... with letters?

I forgot to mention this anecdote back when I picked up InFAMOUS (I'm about halfway through, review coming soon people!) for the PS3. So I traded in my unused Xbox Qwerty Keypad (which I bought for TOJam because I thought I was going to need one to have people play the text adventure I created but I didn't need it... yeah, that's a story for another post) and in the return/exchange line at Best Buy something strange happened to me.

I put the unopened mini-keyboard in front of the BB employee, who was already bored on this Tuesday morning, and she went through the usual motions of returning an item. The manager was called to open the cage to get a copy of just released game and I fished through my wallet for my debit card and Best Buy Rewards card.

Alas, my worn down blue swipey rectangle was nowhere to be seen and I remembered taking it out and putting it in the back pocket of something when I had checked my account a few days prior. I looked up at the apathetic twenty-something with the bright yellow tag in front of me and asked if my points could be added on since this was an exchange from a previous order where I had used my card.

Fine, I'd have to do it by internets. No big deal. I swiped my warped debit card and put in my pin (but not backwards). At this point I looked at my shiny new game and noticed something sitting underneath it. Suddenly, I was mesmerized by the items before me.

I walked away from the counter in a trance, forgetting to ask the woman what this extra thing was. Black. Electricity. Bike-courier/biker wannabe. All the elements of the cover of my new PS3 game were on this big, solid rectangle. I wondered if it could be a new type of instruction manual that wastes even more paper. Maybe it was some part of a special edition that I was unaware of. What could it be?

A memory, forged centuries ago in the back of my mind started to reappear like fireflies at the sundown. Words... letters... periods... this was a book! But, no, more than a book. There were pictures inside and maps and enemies and 'tips'. This was a guide for something. It outlined the strategy of the game. Obviously this must be some relic that an action-anthropologist would go after. This was a grail.

As I turned the pages it all came back to me. These things before the era of the interweb. The Strategy book! No, that's not it... the Strategy... Guide. Strategy Guide. This is what I held in my hands and in my heart. I felt the importance in my hands and as I slipped the guide along with the game in my bag, I knew that it would sit somewhere in my apartment probably only to be opened a few times.

The nostalgia of the archaic book device made me smile a smile that I smiled as a kid.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's raining games, Hallelujah!

So I've had an influx of games come in the mail from my good friend e-bay. He's a nice guy but he's always borrowing money and never paying me back. Future Shop also supported the cause and delivered my shiny new MGS4 Collector's edition. I'm not sure which collector's edition it is because there were a bunch released back in the day.

So what games have made it into my collection you ask? Well, the big ones were Fatal Frame for the Xbox and Folklore for the PS3. I now have the complete collection of the other survival horror series except for the Japanese only Wii title. The first of the series is definitely near the top of my to play list as I just had a testimonial from a fellow collector tell me that I will literally wet myself in fear.

I've been eyeing Folklore for awhile now and I finally found a decent deal. This will bump my total PS3 games to 5 (Resistance, LittleBigPlanet, MGS4 and InFAMOUS being the others) and this game stood out from the other console exclusive games. The art style of Folklore's world and the strong narrative elements it seemed to possess.

A few days before the arrival of the cursed original Fatal Frame (I say that because it took 3 attempts of securing it on e-bay to finally get the blasted thing, and wouldn't you know it, no instruction manual), Fatal Frame 2 came with a whole bunch of PS2 titles for my collection. It was just easier and cheaper to buy a bunch of meh games to find a diamond in the rough. The other standouts in this stack o' games are:

- Dark Cloud 2
- Twisted Metal: Black
- Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal
- Gran Turismo 4

Some of the random games were:

- Ace Combat 4 & 5 (never been into flight sims really)
- Onimusha 3
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend
- Sega Genesis Collection (which has about 6 games that aren't in my other collection)

So most of these will end up on the bottom of my to play list. Trust me when I say the list is huge. Maybe I'll post it up here someday, but it's always twisting and changing. But definitely keep an eye out for me to break out the 'scare-o-meter' for the Fatal Frame series.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mega Man 10

I had my brother over tonight for a bit of an old school gaming session and we played some Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (specifically Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master). His patience for old games isn't what it use to be and he seemed out of practice while trying to memorize boss patterns. We talked about the Mega Man 9 effect which obvious lead to us taking turns dying in the game of the same name.

Isaac cheated and looked up the robot master weaknesses and I stayed true to figuring out yourself (I don't think I did that as a kid but whatever). Looking at the challenges just made me remember how little of the game I had actually completed after I bought it; another game on the 'to beat' list.

A little surfing on the net during Splash Woman's stage brought me to a youtube clip of a project by a certain MegaPhilX. There are a lot of tribute games out there and they usually aren't that good but the attention to detail and imagination in Phil's Mega Man 10 really caught my eye.

You can only watch videos of two of the levels/robot masters and look at pictures of the entire roster of bosses but what's there does look promising. I especially enjoy the video of RainbowMan's level with its clever use of refraction of light and surprisingly unique move set by the titular boss. It's easy to scoff at the idea of a robot master being as colourful as the rainbow but after seeing him in action, I was wanting to steal his powers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grand Beginnings, flawed endings

I finished Beyond Good and Evil recently and I agree with the two general consensuses about the game: The first is that it's quite fun and the second that it's cut short too quickly. I have a theory that BGaE developed a cult following because of the excellent beginning that welcomes you with open arms as you boot up the disk and explore.

The reason Beyond Good and Evil 2 has been so eagerly awaited even before its announcement in May of 2008 was because the original drew the player in to the game so quickly. You start at this tranquil lighthouse which doubles as an orphanage and then disaster strikes; meteors rain down from the sky and out rise mummy-like aliens try to steal the kids. You fight them off, the army arrives late and claims victory, and then you're interviewed by the local news and their only question seems to be what it was like being rescued by the army.

From this point you are broke and must bring in some cashola by taking some pictures of the inhabitants of the planet (both flora and animals, half of which are anthropomorphic and talk in very familiar accents). After getting familiarized with the lighthouse, your off in your hovercraft to a) have it repaired by Jamaican Rhinos and b) explore a city teeming with things to do like shop, play a variant of air hockey, race your water-floating vehicle or just get an earful of local propaganda.

The city opens up into your main hub of the world like a zelda title and stays like that for the rest of the game. There in lies the problem of BGaE: If you're an explorer type of gamer like myself, then you'll seek out every nook and cranny before even heading to the first dungeon. You'll consume the hidden areas and side-quests and the game won't be able to keep up leaving a world map that's mostly covered before dinner time.

So the big complaint about Beyond is not that it's too short (Games do NOT always have to be epic or meet the standard 15 hours of gameplay motiff, they should be as long as they need to be. But they should at least be priced appropriately for what they deliver) but rather that it gives you this charming open world at the start with so much potential but then shrinks at an exponential rate. The wondrous places you're supposed to encounter aside from the main mission turn out to be 5 minute distractions where you destroy a bunch of enemies or leap through a series of conveyer belts in a platforming section.

The player is lied to at the get go about the scope of the game and only realize about halfway through. This is the smart thing though, because after that amount of time anyone who has been enjoying the wonderful characters or delicate blend of gameplay styles will have been immersed enough to see the story through to the end. Disappointment will settle in when everything wraps up so quickly and the chance of a sequel is teased but the initial excitement of unraveling the world of Beyond Good and Evil will linger as a good memory.

This is why it's much more important to have an excellent start than a satisfying ending. In a perfect world, games would have both but as any vg enthusiast can tell you, that is not the case. Stories hampered down by overzealous tutorial levels or sequences that throw you right into the action and take too long to get to the motivation to continue on have a serious threat of never being finished. Players will get bored and give up somewhere along the way so that great ending where everything is reveal or that amazing showdown with the final boss won't mean diddly. No one will see it and while those games become forgotten, the ones with grand beginnings become classics or cult favourites.


Great Starts:
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
- Chrono Trigger
- Resident Evil 2

Weak Starts:
- Silent Hill 4: The Room
- Dead Rising
- Siren

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beers of Gwar

Beers of Gwar,

That'd be a sweet as game. They already have a miniature game that I own the rule book of (how could I resist an oddity like that) so it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see them jump into video game form like some of their other brethren. However, I'm not here to muse on Band-to-Game transitions (see what I did there?) but rather to rant about Gears of War 2.

Beers of Gwar 2. Yes. Inside a giant worm. Christ, it even sounds like a Gwar song.

*Minor Spoilettes below*

Did I enjoy it: Yes.
Did it awe me a certain points: Yes
Was I shocked when Dom found his wife: Yes
Was it challenging: Not as much as GOW1
Did it have a Halo 2 like ending: Yes
Did it crumble apart after the 4th chapter: Yes
Did it have a final boss: No
Did it have a final encounter that you beat by pressing a button over and over: Yes

I admit maybe I was tainted by Yahtzee's review but I felt unsatisfied with the experience. The locals were schizophrenic yet completely without break. You're on on big mission that doesn't seem to slow down; the only reason I wanted a bit of a stop maybe to touch in with HQ or whatnot was so the story could be fleshed out a little bit more.

The backbone of GOW2's story is hints. Everything alludes to something else that will happen but not in this game. It will all be wrapped up nicely in the third one. Mankind has an obsession with threes and I have a theory on that one. Most of these hints come from the collectibles in the game which just means that there's even less interesting tidbits if you're just running through the entire thing. It's time to get the locusts and their seemingly human queen because they're jerks!

The coworker that lent me the game asked me, after listening to some of the negative comments seen above, 'Did you at least enjoy the game?' My answer was yes because I did, especially since the last game I picked up was Dark Sector: yes, the game with one gimmick and a story that completely disjointed almost to the point of being nonsensical. However, I preferred the narrative in 'Dumb Sector' more because it was so terribly strung together.

I guess the point is that maybe I've become too critical of video games. I did have fun playing through GOW2 but I wanted more fun darnit. I wanted more immersion and harder, grub infested battles like in the first one. I wanted scenes that I would remember fondly like first encountering lambent wretches outside the factory in the rain or the mine cart rides or defending a gas station from a TON of locusts or fearing for my avatar's life when a boomer would show up. Maybe I'm just coming down with sequelitis disappointicus.