Sunday, 30 December 2012

I'm not dead! A blog update!

Well between family coming to Japan to visit and events to celebrate Christmas and new year, I've not had all that much time to make blog posts.  Tonight is no exception really but I have managed to squeeze in some time to write a quick update before I head out again.

So, there aren't really any big changes coming to the blog itself, nothing special coming up in terms of written articles. 

That said, there are a couple of things coming to the youtube channel once I get back into it all.  First I've received quite a few new games, so you can expect a "shit I bought in Japan" vlog thing again soon.  Also I'm off to see the friend who I filmed the Die Hard Arcade showcase with, so you might get another 2 man short playthrough video of probably something really old. 

The big thing though is the new playthrough coming, which will be of Rayman on the PS1.  This playthrough will be a little different to the Panzer Dragoon Saga one though.  First, it's a platformer and I'm probably going to die a good few times, so expect more editing to the videos at the very least.  The other thing is that I've been challenged to beat this game by a friend, who said that if I can beat it he'll donate to the charity.

So in the future, if any of you have a game you think I can't beat, or would like to see, I'd be more than happy to take a request if it means a little something towards the Alzheimer's Society upon completion.

Anyway, once all the end of year hype dies down, shit will be back to normal. 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F

Well recently I was gifted a Vita, and being the huge rhythm game fan that I am, I had to pick this up pretty much straight away.

For anyone who may not know, Hatsune Miku is the mascot character for a piece of voice synthesising software called Vocaloid.  I've never used it but the way I understand it is that you write music in this program, and the robot voices will sing them for you.  Miku, along with the other vocaloid characters have become rather famous in Japan and you'll sometimes see them dotted around.  For example, there was a big Miku cutout in the Karaoke place near the place I was living in a few years ago, and this year Family Mart (or Lawson, don't remember) were selling Vocaloid themed Christmas Cards.

Anyway, Project Diva F is a rhythm game, and if you're not familiar with this genre by now, you must have been living under a rock during the whole Rock Band/Guitar Hero craze.  It's a good rhythm game too, it can be quite challenging on the Hard and Expert modes, which is something I find that western rhythm games tend to lack.  The game even makes use of the touch screen with "scratch" notes, that involve rubbing the screen once the icons match up so the Vita touch screen gets a bit of a workout.

There is another mode called the Diva Room, which is sort of like having a Vocaloid tamagotchi, but I'll go into detail about that in another post.  The game also features a shop where you can buy outfits and items of clothing so you can customise what they look like in the music videos.

All this is well and good, but the most important thing in a rhythm game is the music, right?  Well, embarrassingly, I'm a bit of a sucker for this kind of music and I find it really catchy, so for me the music goes down really well.  That said, I'm aware that there are a lot of people who will listen to this and be turned away so unless you're into Japanese techno-pop type stuff you probably won't enjoy the song list.

Still, it's an extremely solid rhythm game and I've not had a good console rhythm game to play for a long long time.  This will probably never see a western release so fire up those import websites if you want a copy for your Vita, but if this kind of stuff is your thing, you'll really like it.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

It's Christmas!!! Amazing Italian Food!

I fucking love Christmas, it's one of those times of year where you can just forget about anything shitty that's happened and just enjoy yourself.  So this year I pretty much did what I do every year, which is eat really good food and play video games.  Since gaming is covered 95% of the time on this blog, I thought I'd tell you the tale of my Christmas food adventure.

So today I hit an extremely posh resturant in central Nagoya called The Kitchen.  The food here is insanely good and I'm going to go out and as far as I know these kind of resturants are dotted around Japan.

There isn't really much to say about it really, it's just a really posh resturant at the top of a big tower building.  You get a nice view with great food and the staff are trained to speak little bits of Italian as opposed to conducting the entire service in Japanese.  The kitchen is also open plan so you can see all the cooking going on while your waiting for food.

At the end of the day, I'm a gamer, not a food critic, so instead of trying to awkwardly "review" the resturant I'll just show off the food I had and call it a day.

Well, Merry Christmas! The Video Games will be back in the next post.....I think

Saturday, 22 December 2012

DotA 2

I have a new addiction, and it's called DotA2

This is a game I previously had very little experience with despite owning it for a long long time.  Although the whole thing seemed a bit impenetrable at first and because of that I ended up shelving it for a long long time.

Recently though, I decided to give it another spin with a few buddies.  After a few games of being absolutely destroyed and struggling to figure out whats what, things started to go a lot smoother.  Once you get round all the differences from something like, League of Legends, and you begin to get a feel for how to play, everything becomes a lot clearer. 

When you first fire it up you are SWAMPED with literally hundreds of things that you have to take in all at once.  Of course, not all of these things will sink in over the course of one game, so you will need to take a little while to find your feet.  That said, once you have found your feet DotA2 is a much more satisfying game to play than League.

I'm not saying League is bad with that, but League feels very bare bones.  One of the reasons I think it appeals to so many people is that you don't really have to learn all that much stuff before you can play it with some degree of proficiency.  With League you can switch your brain off and just make things die, which is fine for having fun with, but the depth found it DotA makes it a much more satisfying after a match is finished.

Right now it's still in beta and you need an invite to play it, but if you can get your hands on one, give it a go.  But whatever you do don't give up just because you get destroyed the first few times, it WILL happen, I promise it, but once you do master it a little bit you'll be playing one of the most fun games available at the moment.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Castle Master

There is a lot of absolute shite on the Apple App Store.  It's very hard to find something that's actually worth playing so I tend to get very surprised when I do find something good.

The game that took me by surprise this time was Castle Master, a strategy game where you must re-take all your castles that have been overrun with monsters.  It's an incredibly simple game but if you're looking for something to kill for free then this is a good choice.

So, as far as I can figure out this game originally comes from Korea, since there is a Korean language mode in the options menu and there is some very strange translations going on.
I mean there is even a crossed out W on a typed story scroll.  I find it impossible to get annoyed at something THIS blitheringly stupid.

Anyway, the game itself is simple, you have a big map and you have to take all 45 castles.  Everything is in real time and you have a 3D fighting mode for when attacking or defending.  It controls pretty well too with skills being easy to pull off and targeting working rather well.

Once you take a castle you have to defend it, recruit troops and build it up so that you can earn money and take the next one.  When you're not on the map or in combat, you can go into this 3D town exploration thing where you can buy items, upgrade skills and take on quests.

The game play reminds me somewhat of a real time version of Heroes of Might and Magic with the interface and how troop recruitment and buildings work.

So what you're playing is essentially a dumbed down version of those games, but considering its an iPhone app and it's free, you could do a lot worse.  Combat all goes down in real time with up to 300 vs 300 battles and while it's happening you get to get stuck in and help out your army as well.

So if you needed something free to kill some time with while your on a train or waiting for something/someone, give this a spin.  Good free games in the app store are few and far between, so jump on this one.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Meat Boy

So recently I've been having a bit of a toot on The Basement Collection, a game I picked up off Steam for something like £1

Before I talk about Meat Boy, The Basement Collection is basically a load of flash games made by the guys who brought us Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac.  Before anyone screams foul that they are all old flash games done before they became a thing, this collection is stupid cheap and the games I've played in it so far are all pretty solid.

Anyway, the game I beat today was Meat Boy.  No, not Super Meat Boy, but Meat Boy.  Meat Boy was the original flash version of the game that they then refined and improved to create Super Meat Boy. 

The game is basically exactly the same as Super Meat Boy but it doesn't look as good and the levels aren't QUITE as fun to play, but overall it's still a solid game.  I won't bother going into detail about what Super Meat Boy is that, because if you've not at least played that by now then just close this blog and go buy it on Steam, you have no excuse.

However this version does feel A LOT harder than Super Meat Boy, not by level design but by the fact that you cant use a controller with The Basement Collection.  Playing Meat Boy and trying to make precise jumps is really goddamn difficult.  But even with the keyboard handicap this time round, the challenge still feels fair and rewarding.

On top of that you get some extra levels that you can only play as part of The Basement Collection once you beat the game, so if you played the flash version already, you have an excuse to go do it again.

Watch this space for coverage on the rest of the stuff in this collection.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Final Panzer Dragoon Saga Session

It's finished! Hooray! Today marks the end of my second full playthrough as part of this blog effort.  It's been a fun experience despite problems with recording software and editing software, I'm looking forward to doing more even if no one else is.

Don't forget, if you're enjoying the content, hit that link to JustGiving on the side and give a little something to the Alzheimer's Society.  None of the money comes anywhere close to me, it goes straight to them, so you don't have to worry about anything like that.

So kick back, grab a beverage and enjoy the final boss and ending sequence to Panzer Dragoon Saga!


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

Henry Hatsworth is a very silly, yet really very good platform game for the DS that I bought ages ago and never beat.  Now that I'm coming to the end of this game, I thought I'd do a little bit on it.

The plot of this game is very simple.  A long long time ago, there was a suit that was so classy you could rule the world with it.  Some guy known only as The Gentleman ruled the world with this suit and when his time came to an end, he spread the suit all over the world to prevent anyone getting their hands on it and fucking everything up.  That's where you come in, as Henry Hatsworth, the extremely British adventurer as you must go gather all the bits of the suit.

Despite the stupid sounding plot of this game it's actually rather charming and doesn't really get in the way of the game in anyway.  There are a few cutscenes dotted between each world as an excuse to crack a few jokes but plot really isn't all that important in this kind of thing anyway.

You may be asking yourself right now, whats so "puzzling" about this adventure.  Well here's the thing, when you find the first bit of the suit, you open up a rift to the "puzzle dimension" and cause a load of monsters to start pouring out of it.  In game play terms, this means there is a upward scrolling field of coloured blocks in the bottom screen of your DS.  When you kill a monster, it doesn't die completely, it returns to the puzzle where you must then match it up with 2 other blocks of the same colour to get rid of it for good.  Any monsters that reach the top get another crack at trying to kill you before they blink out of existence.

The platforming in this game is really good too with some great level design and really tight controls.  There is also some room for some exploration as there are a number of secret levels that dole out some nice rewards if you bother with them.  On top of that there is a shop where you can buy upgrades for Henry which gives you good reason to actually take on enemies rather than just find ways to rush and avoid them.

I will say though this game is really fuckin' hard.  The platforming can be really tricky sometimes and the enemies will really do you over if you're not careful.  Also the secret levels are insane so if the main game is too easy for you, there is still something that will really challenge your platforming skills.

So if you didn't play this game when it was new, go find a copy.  Easily one of my personal favourite games on the DS.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Yet Another Panzer Dragoon Session

We are getting extremely close to the end of finishing this thing, probably in the next session I'll have it done.  Nothing else to really say about it apart from that, so just enjoy the videos!


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Shifting Blame Won't Help You

So it's gone and happened again....Another idiot somewhere in America has taken up arms and opened fire on a bunch of small children, killing and injuring them.  This is awful, and stuff like this should never happen.  You'd think that in this day and age people would stop doing this kind of thing to each other, but I guess not.

But I'm not really here to discuss what went down at that school, nor am I here to discuss topics like gun control, that topic is for people with far more knowledge on the matter than me.

What I am here to talk about, is how sickening it is just how quick American news outlets were to blame things such as reality TV, Facebook and once again, goddamn video games.  We've been through this many times.  The industry monitors itself pretty godddamn well, developers and ratings boards are doing their best to make you pricks happy but this isn't enough, they do everything you want but there are still idiots who aren't happy.

The game that's come up for this tragedy is fucking Mass Effect 3 of all things too, but let me go into some details why the bullshit on this bit of finger pointing is through the roof.  First of all, it seems that no one talking about this shit has a fucking clue what Mass Effect 3 is all about, but that's not relevant here, not really, standard scaremongering and all that.  It's the fact that the brother of the perpetrator, who was wrongly identified as the gunman liked this game.  So of course now Mass Effect 3 is the face of everything evil and the cause of all problems in America, right? WRONG

Stop doing this shit, blaming Mass Effect 3, or the video games industry in general isn't going to stop this kind of thing from happening again.  I live in Japan, the fucking home of video games and I can pop round the corner and play a game which involves me kicking the shit out of people in an arena for 100 yen.  Does this mean I'm going to kick some poor persons head in on the way home? Of course not, don't be so fucking dumb.  In fact, violent crime in general is pretty low over here and there are probably more gamers here than most other places.

America, like every other goddamn country on this planet has problems, but these problems need to be addressed, and worked out properly.  Don't just point fingers at the next big thing and say it's corrupting the youth, it makes you look ignorant and nothing gets done.  If you spent more time looking at the real problems and less time shifting blame, you'd probably have less of these horrible events occurring, so shut up and do some real goddamn work.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A little reminder

So it's Friday night, I've come home late and had to walk through the rain, I'm going to chill out and put more Panzer Dragoon together to be uploaded tomorrow hopefully, in the mean time I thought I'd put up a little reminded about why I'm really doing this blog.

As much as I enjoy writing about video games, the inspiration to do this whole thing came from me wanting to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society, so I'm just putting it out there that if you are enjoying the stuff that gets posted here, please please please donate something, anything, it would mean a lot to me.

 Of course, I'm not going to be all bitter if you don't but it doesn't hurt to ask.  I won't beg for donations very often but with all the super fun video game stuff being written and posted, it's easy to forget about that little link on the side.

If you would like to donate something, I'll put the link in this post, but it will ALWAYS be on that side bar if your feeling generous.

Thanks very much guys!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I am very sweaty

So I just got home from my first experience in a Japanese spa, and goddamn did I turn into the sweatiest motherfucker on the face of the earth.  I know this isn't games but I just got a shit ton of new ones and I've not played enough of them to comment.

Anyway, the place in the picture is a spa near my apartment called Fun.  Usually I wouldn't ever bother going to a place like this, but with today being my birthday and whatnot the trip to here was paid in full, so it was a good excuse to try it out.

Anyway the first thing I did was try something called a "Herb Tent", which in the real world means "Satan's toilet".  Basically, you sit on a thing which blows really fuckin' hot steam up your ass and you get to smell some nice smelling shit while you do it.  The way I describe it doesn't sound too great but it was actually really relaxing.

Following that, we used the room pictured above.  It's basically a bunch of stone beds that you lie on for 15 minutes and this causes you to sweat all the shit out of your body.  You do this a couple of times and you end up feeling really good, the whole thing is similar to how I described an Onsen a while ago.

So yeah, I have myself a shiny new Vita so I'm only doing a short post so I can go and try out some of the new games I got for it.  If, like me, you thought spas were a load of shite, then go try it at least once.  I don't know just how beneficial to ones health the whole thing really is, but it feels fuckin' good anyway so give it a shot.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Phantom Pain

The Phantom Pain is the name of a game that was announced at VGA and has a very cool trailer.  If you wanna watch the trailer, here it is!

When I first watched it I though it looked like a really cool horror game or something, but I noticed something that made me feel like I'd seen the character in the trailer before.  That hair, that eye injury...Big Boss?!  That's right folks, this cool lookin' thing may or may not be a new Metal Gear game!  It doesn't really matter if it is or it isn't though, just from watching that trailer I'm interested (it probably is)

Give it a google search if you want a big list of the evidence that points to this being a Metal Gear but if it is a new one, I'm curious as to why it's not being shown as such.  This whole subtle clue thing is really cool and all but there must be a reason for it.

So watch that space, if you're a fan of Metal Gear you probably have a reason to by hyped, and if you're not, it's still a damn cool trailer

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Crane Games Probably Aren't Bullshit

I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about game centres here in Japan, but I've yet to mention these things.  UFO Catchers as they are known over here are games where you have to position a claw above a prize and try to grab it.

The prizes they put in these things can be literally anything.  I've seen collectible stuff, game systems, games, food, ice cream, all sorts of stuff is up for grabs, but when I play them I never manage to bloody win anything.  I used to think that they were rigged like slot machines are, that the claw would make one good grab after so much yen has been shovelled in, but after asking around about these things I think my idea was a little off.

There seems to be some kind of technique for these things, something I don't understand and it'll be a long time before I ever get round to mastering such a technique if it does exist.  I heard from one friend of mine that there are "professional" crane game players, who win stuff and then sell it on for a profit, it sounded nuts.  At first I was a little sceptical about the idea of these things paying out consistently to skilled players, but I do in fact know a guy who doesn't play often, but wins pretty much 100% of the time when he does have a go.

So, if you don't get enough out of regular games and you feel you need to be rewarded a bit more, get practising on these bad boys, you'll be rolling in plushies before you know it!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Regarding Concerns for Dark Souls 2

Well spank my ass and call me Nancy! Just as I'm gushing hard over Dark Souls, a sequel gets announced.  I'm not usually one for jumping on hype, but for this, I have premium seats on the hype express.

Well I didn't watch the VGA, I don't need a bunch of people telling me what the game of the year is (and Walking Dead getting it is BULLSHIT, not because it's bad, but that's another story for another time) because I already know what my personal game of the year is but it's pretty much irrelevant because every ones GOTY is going to be different. 

Getting to the point though, I've seen a number of concerns being raised over this game, people feeling doubtful that it'll be able to capture the same hair pulling yet satisfying magic the first one did, but to be completely honest with you, I'm 90% sure that it won't turn out disappointing.  Of course, until we see some proper game play all we can do is speculate, but given the quality of games that come out of From Software, we can expect something at least half way good even if it doesn't quite stack up to the original.

The big concern that I noticed got some alarm bells ringing comes from a quote from one of the developers that said "Dark Souls 2 will be more understandable and straightforward"

But I don't think we really need to worry, "straightforward" and "understandable" does not translate to "easy" and the concerns over the game being made easier I think are people reading too much into something that hasn't been said.  Sure, maybe some of the stuff that was fun for Dark Souls vets to figure out will no longer be as cryptic, which is a shame but the core difficulty will hopefully still be there.

So ride the hype train all the way to release day for this one, and I'm praying that it doesn't derail before we reach that day, because if Dark Souls 2 is shit then I don't think my poor old heart could take it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Convenience stores and game merch

It doesn't matter if you come to Japan for a holiday or for an extended stay, it's pretty much guaranteed that at some point during your stay here you'll end up in a convenience store to buy something.

I've noticed during my time here an abundance of video game stuff being sold in these convenience stores and while its usually quite pricey stuff and I never buy it, it's interesting to see this stuff being sold as its something that would absolutely NEVER happen back home.

The above example is a bottle of drink called Dodecamin, which usually has this sort of brown label, but in order to promote the new Monster Hunter game on the horizon they've changed the label to this funky design.

Monster Hunter isn't the only thing that I've seen kicking about the convenience stores either.  A few weeks ago, I think to promote Persona 4 Golden on the Vita, these stores were selling all sorts of Persona 4 merchandise, such as posters and blindfolds with character designs on it, although it was all needlessly expensive.

Even Japan's greatest fake pop star Hatsune Miku has been in on the whole convenience store marketing thing with a merch campaign that ended a couple of months ago.  This thing was so big that it even had its own ad on TV, check it out!

So if your in Japan, checking your local corner shop is a surprisingly good way of getting your fix of nerd shit, and you can get some fried chicken with it all too.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Mini Panzer Dragoon Update

Another busy weekend but this time I managed to get a little bit of recording done!  Although it ended up being a return trip to this games equivalent of the sewer level, so it ended up being a bit dull.

Anyway enjoy

Friday, 7 December 2012

The weekly freebie is no longer a thing!

Sorry, but I have to give up on this whole one free game per week thing, but let me explain why.  A long time ago I mentioned I have a huge, undying backlog of games that I'm slowly trying to chip away at, and due to being so busy playing those games, I end up not making any time to play anything free, so I think I'm going to have to stop this weekly feature thing.  It's OK, it had a crap name anyway.

That said, I will still feature free games that I do wind up playing when I actually play them and I'm not going to leave everyone empty handed, I'm going to spend some time talking about where one can acquire free stuff.

Steam is a good place to start, with a number of online titles that one can download and enjoy for free, but most of these games come with micro transactions so they are not 100% free, but free enough.  Good Old Games is another good place to go since they provide a number of titles for absolutely nothing and you can get some good mileage out of what they are just giving away.

If flash games are your thing then Newgrounds is probably your best bet.  I've not played flash games properly since high school so I'm not 100% sure it's the best place, but they have a lot.

Finally, I know 4chan gets a bad rep but the people over at the /v/ board (the video game one) put together a wiki of Recommended games for pretty much every system ever.  It's well organised and a good place to go if your struggling to find something to play and they have a pretty impressive freeware section, so it's worth checking out.

So yeah, a weekly free game feature is no longer a thing on this blog, but I have given you some good starting points so get digging round those sites and maybe you'll discover the next big thing.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Copy-Pasted levels are bullshit!

Do I really need to start with a definition of the term this time?  If you can't already get the gist of whats going on from the title then you've not been using a computer long enough (i.e. more than 5 minutes)  but just in case, I'm referring to when game developers reuse the same levels in a game but try to pass them off as something new.

The picture in featured in this post, which I will be using as an example is from the zombie DLC for Borderlands.  What you are looking at is a place called Dead Heaven, a compound filled with zombies trying to impede your progress as you do quests.  This would be fine if this area wasn't featured as a big quest in the main goddamn campaign, completely unchanged.  Sure, the enemies are different and its got a few extra walls in it to make navigating even more annoying but this is NOT a new level, this is bullshit laziness.

The reason it's so annoying in this case, is that its supposed to be a whole new bit of the game world, it's not the same stronghold so why is it built EXACTLY the same?!  It baffles me because they spent so much time making all this new stuff and then got lazy here, and you really feel the effect of the laziness because this is one of the most boring, unfun segments in the whole DLC campaign.

But Borderlands isn't the only offender, and there is a title way more well known for its copy paste bullshittery, and that's!

People already had problems with this damn thing in it's game play, inventory system, the whole room fucking you up thing but this is the issue that I think really gets to people.  The game has something like 5 worlds, it's been a while since I played it, and halfway through the game makes you play them all again, but you lose your safe haven and you gain an annoying escort quest.  I mean goddamn, if you're going to remove my safe zone and give me a braindead bag of shit to protect, the least you could do is give me something new to look at while I'm putting up with your crap!

THIS was the point that made me want to force feed the dev team cactus for a week, this shit should be fucking illegal.  If you're too lazy to make new levels for a new section, then don't fucking put the section in at all, and if you're game is too short without the copy pasted section, then the project is probably a load of crap and you should scrap it anyway.  Don't charge me full price for half-assed bullshit.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Panzer Dragoon Saga Playthrough Session #LostCount

Well, I finally got round to uploading some more parts of the Panzer Dragoon Saga playthrough, but this session is filled mainly with talky bits and getting lost in a forest.  That said there is a cool boss fight right at the end, so if you dont care about the story there is still something for you here.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr Ned

Wow, I beat this thing ages ago and didn't blog about it! Well better late than never!

The Zombie Island of Dr Ned is DLC for the first Borderlands game and something I didn't play when it was new because my computer was crap and I was too busy playing other things to give a shit about it when it appeared on Xbox Live.  Many years later I have got round to playing the damn thing and I actually thought it was better than the main game.

The story for this bit of extra stuff is that Dr Ned has gone and filled an island full of zombies and you have to go and end him, nice and straightfoward stuff.  Aside from the main story there are a couple of little quests to go on that flesh out the goings on that flesh out what happened before the zombie attacks, but like most plot related things in Borderlands you probably don't care.

The island itself is quite an interesting place to explore, with lots of forest and beach environments to run around which are dotted with a few caves, a nice change of pace from the main games open expanses with nothing in it.  It also keeps itself nice and short, clocking in at only a few hours of play but long enough to qualify as DLC done right.  It's also packed filled full of references to various horror franchises like one of the quests being called "House of the Ned", or Shaggy from Scooby Doo leaving an audio log.

A fun little expansion so if you didn't get the chance to play it when it was new, go grab it and give it a spin, you've been missing out!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dark Souls

Well recently, I've been playing Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition on PC, so I thought I'd give some thoughts so far.

As far as the game itself is concerned, it's basically the same thing as the console version with a couple of extras for the PC, although these extras are being offered as DLC for the console versions as well.  This time round I'm playing a character focused on strength rather than speed which is how I played my console version character and there's a nice distinction in play style between the two types.

As good as this game is, the PC version comes with a few issues that werent present in the console version.  For example the frame rate and general performance has a habit of taking a dip in certain areas, most notably Blight Town where the frame rate turns to shit in certain parts.  Also the keyboard and mouse controls are fucking kak, and playing with a controller is pretty much required.  I've also not had any luck using summon signs, with every summon failing.  I've not had a crack at invading in this version yet so I'll update with how that goes at a later date.  That said, the performance issues have been remedied with a fan patch, but I'm too lazy to go get it, so no comment there either.

Since this game has been out for a while, I thought I'd use this post to talk about its difficulty, since there are some people that like to describe the difficulty in this game as a bad thing.  Some people have described Dark Souls as a "trail and error" game but I can't stress enough how bullshit this is.

The game IS hard, and it IS bullshit in some places but usually the bullshittery isn't fatal and amounts to nothing more than a sneaky enemy jumping out at you from inside a box or something in most cases.  But the game sets you up for this shit, you pay attention to your surroundings and you quickly learn that there are going to be traps around pretty much every corner.  The game rewards careful, clever play and punishes you for charging in like an idiot.  Some people like to argue that the game requires a lot of "skill" but I think that's a load of crap too.  You need to be calm, collected, careful and observant to win, not particularly skilled.

This is a really fun game with a refreshing difficulty and a nice online feature that some would argue is a little unbalanced, but as far as I'm concerned it's still a ton of fun anyway.  So check it out, and don't put it down when you die, because when you do beat a section, this turns into one of the most satisfying games of this generation.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

What happened to our hobby?

Back when I was a wee lad, when I picked up a Sega Mega Drive controller for the first time at the age of 4, gaming was a simple thing.  I was given and objective and I had to fulfil it and stuff would try to impede my progress along the way.  It was a simple time filled with simple, yet fun games and the only thing people were worried about was if they could get to the next level or not.

But gaming is evolving, and for the better too!  As technology gets more advanced, and developers try to do bigger and better things and maybe one day gaming will be able to stand tall along things such as books and film.

However, we are a long LONG way off anything like that happening, but somewhere along the line gaming lost its purity, and in losing this purity it is behind held back by different groups of people throwing complaints and criticisms at the industry without really knowing whats going on.

A few years ago the big issue was violence in games, and while it's still an issue this controversy has sort of lost steam a bit.  People would point at games like Manhunt and cry foul at how its "corrupting the youth" yet were happy to ignore a staggering amount of other media that had extremely similar content.

Nowadays we have sexism, and all the people who seem to be at the forefront of this "gaming is sexist" thing seem to know very little about what the fuck they are actually talking about.  I can't go a day on the internet without being reminded how sexist gaming is and how sexist gamers are, and the issue is starting to wear a bit thin.

Yes, there are issues in the industry but people are so willing to fling shit that nothing gets sorted and it all amounts of a bunch of idiots in front of keyboards silently yelling at each other and just making any issues worse.  While I'm not sure exactly, I think that this internet shit flinging is having an impact on the developers too!  No developer or writer or anything like that is going to want to push the envelope with this medium if all they get for it is people chucking needless amounts of shit towards them online.

People who enjoy this hobby and people who work within this industry need to sit down, and calmly examine the various issues that we have and maybe take steps to sort them out.  Gaming will only get better only if the people who truly know whats up are allowed to do things without everyone else throwing in their 2 cents.  Too many cooks etc.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Weekly Freebie: Don't Look Back

Well I've decided to stop calling it the "Free game Friday" because I never fucking do them on Friday, so from this day forward this feature will now be called the weekly freebie!

Anyway, this week I'm bringing you a nice short little game made in flash that is actually rather fun.  As the title of this post says, the game is called Don't Look Back and it's a game made by the same guy who brought us VVVVVV.

Do some platforming, shoot some things and fight some bosses, a very simple game but extremely fun despite being a little short.  There isn't really much else to say, I mean it's a goddamn flash game so just go and play the damn thing.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Stop Releasing Broken Games!

This is something that has pissed me off to no end and has become more and more apparent with this generation and is probably only going to get worse.  My problem, if you can't tell from the title of this post is that there are too many games released this generation that are just full of fucking technical bugs on launch.

Here, take a look at this video

I'd imagine it's not like this now but this is how the damn thing was shipped, and it's not just Skyrim, you could full a fucking heavy goods vehicle with copies of all the games with big glaring technical bugs.

The thought processes of these companies must be "oh it's OK, we can just patch it out later", well it's NOT fucking OK you gigantic bags of arse, games should NOT ship like this.  What's sad is that years and years ago, this was never a problem.  Hell, even games as recent as the PS2 didn't have problems like this, so why has it suddenly become a thing this generation!?

What's sad is that with a new generation of consoles on its way, I only see the problem getting worse, not better.  Developers will keep shitting out untested, buggy games and we'll have to keep waiting for fucking patches. 

I understand that nobody is perfect, and the guys putting all the code together and testing their software might miss something, but right now it's just stupid how glaringly bad some games are made.  I'm using Skyrim in this case, but the worst offender off the top of my head (not counting Silent Hill collection since it's remake) is The Last Remnant on 360.   Good LORD, that frame rate was so bad in that game is was basically unplayable, I had to buy the PC version, and I'm glad I did because that game is awesome.

So, just because you can patch a game later, doesn't give you an excuse to be lazy and devs need to make sure their shit is tight as possible before they go charging me £40 and up for that crap.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Difficulty is NOT a bad thing!

So a few days ago I started playing Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition on my PC and then today I started playing Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure on my DS.  Both of these games are fucking fantastic and I will go into detail about why these games are so good in future posts.

But for now, I've come across a problem with today's gaming community, and my problem is that there is a vast majority of people who have all become little nancy boys afraid of a little difficulty!  Now to be fair, I don't blame them, games today ARE a lot easier than they used to be, but for good reason.  Modern gaming gives you experiences upwards of 8 hours while older games only really had an hour or two worths of time on the cartridge or whatever, so older games were made really hard so that you'd play them longer.

But a challenge is fun right?  Part of the appeal of this hobby is that you are kind of being issued a challenge by the developer to beat their game, they've spent time programming shit to try and stop you, so you have to overcome that, right?

Well apparently I'm wrong and being challenged and being made to learn to play well is too much for people today.  Dark Souls AND Henry Hatsworth have both had criticisms thrown at them for being hard and having "unforgiving" or "frustrating" difficulty.

Now there do exist games which are "bullshit" hard, but Dark Souls and Henry Hatsworth are NOT that, yet people still get upset when the game throws up a couple of road blocks.  I mean come on, what the fuck happened?!  Back when I was a lad, when we played a hard game we wouldn't throw up our arms and say that the difficulty was a problem, we'd band together and come up with techniques and strategies to get to the end of the game!

It's about time companies started making MORE hard games, not less, and it's also about time that people started actually started earning those endings instead of just giving up after they realise they can't win if their brain dead playing doesn't work.

We need a balance of hard games and games that can be played just to chill and relax, and right now we don't have it.  But we're never going to achieve that balance if critics keep pointing out difficulty as a negative point.  Call it out if it's bullshit, but games like Dark Souls and Hatsworth are NOT bullshit, so fucking stop it.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ultraman: Towards the Future

First of all, apologies for missing a post yesterday, I was rather sick and in no condition to be writing anything, but having made a speedy recovery I'm now back and ready to continue!

So, ever since beating that SNES Empire Strikes Back game, I've been wanting to go back and beat all the games that I never beat as a child, and Ultraman: Towards the Future was one of those games.

At this point I'd tell you what Ultraman is exactly, but to be honest I'm not entirely sure.  From what I can tell Ultraman is a popular kids series in Japan which has a similar vibe to the Power Rangers which used to be popular back in my day (which itself takes scenes cut for cut from Super Sentai, another similar kids TV show in Japan)

So the whole deal with the show is that big monsters come and attack and its up to Ultraman to give them a beatdown.  The game has the exact same premise, where each stage is a different monster, which I assume is from the show, and you have to give them a thrashing.

Whats strange is that despite the fact that Ultraman never made an appearance outside of Japan, his game was available in the UK and in America.  I got my copy when one of the staff members at my old primary school sold it to my mother for about £5 and it was then passed on to me as a present.

So Ultraman is a fighting game, but a really fucking bad one.  Basically, you fight the monster, but when you empty his bar, you don't win, it just says "FINISH".  To win the fight you have to let the meter in the middle charge all the way to L4 and hit him with that when the finish sign appears.  This makes some enemy's way harder than they should be since you end up dying before your thing can charge despite having beat them 2 minutes ago.

When you run out of lives, you go all the way back to stage one, but despite that I managed to beat the game on my third try.  Unless your a fan of something like Ultraman, don't bother trying to play this one, it's a piece of shit, I just had an axe to grind from my childhood.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Review Scores

Before I start I just want to make it very clear that this post isn't going to be about how some people think that certain reviewers are in the pockets of X Y Z company giving stupid high scores in order to promote sales, this article is going to be on the concept of a review "score" in general

So, with that out of the way, lets get down to it

Personally, I'm not really one for reading/watching reviews, I'd much rather formulate my own opinion on a game and not have it tainted by listening to what someone else thought of it before I've even had a chance to play it.  That said, reviews are not a bad thing, they can give a good insight into what a game is like if you're not sure that you want to spend some money on a certain title.

That said, reviews have had this strange habit for fucking years of putting a number out of 10 on the end of a review.  What is the point of this exactly? How to you quantify a fucking opinion?  If, lets say, game X gets 8/10 and game Y gets 7/10, that means that game Y is 10% worse than game X right?  Well how the fuck does that even work? I don't understand how that one point between the two games really matters and these on 10 scores is a practise that should be fucking abolished. 

If you are reviewing a game, give an opinion on whats good and whats bad, and then sum up those points at the end for those who can't be arsed to read the whole article in a little pros/cons list because at the end of the day, the number at the end doesn't really fucking mean anything.  I get that it's supposed to be a quick guideline but 9s and 10s are thrown around like fucking nothing in this day an age so the system has lost all meaning.

Also, the weight behind this numbers has gotten fucking stupid too.  If a game gets anything lower than a 9 its a fucking nightmare.  I've seen some videos that describe a 7/10 as "OK", I mean since when did 70% of something mean just OK!? 70% is pretty fucking good to me.

Either get rid of this system or give it more definition so we know exactly what causes a game to gain a point or lose a point.  Also, reading a list of bullet points is NOT harder than reading a number, shut up.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Slender Attempt 3

I took another crack at Slender but this time I performed some preparation!  I realised that Slender is a game of navigation and patience, and if you spend a minimal amount of time being lost, then your chance of winning is so much greater. 

However even with my shitty map I still only got to 4 notes in this run, but the part itself is a lot shorter since I spent a lot less time just aimlessly wandering about the trees this time. 

Even with a piece of shit map like this, I feel a win coming very soon.  Hopefully I'll have this shit done within 5 goes, so for now, enjoy the video!


Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Free Game Friday on Thursday

So this week I know I have a busy Friday evening coming up, so instead of mugging you all off and not providing more free shit, I thought I'd do it a day early, hooray!

So this week I'll be talking about a browser based flash game, and before you get all uppity about it, it's a damn good one so just hear me out.

Right, so the thing is called Pandemic 2, a simulation game of sorts where you play as a virus and you must try and kill everyone on earth by becoming the most badass and most resistant motherfucking virus to ever strike humankind.  When you start the game you get a "class" choice of Virus, Bacteria or Parasite which all have their own traits.

From there you spend most of your time watching a map screen and paying attention to events that happen throughout the world.  You can then use this information to apply the best upgrades to your disease, or you can ignore them and just build it however the fuck you want.
As time passes, you gain evolution points to spend on your disease in order to give it more symptoms or resistance or different methods of being carried from subject to subject, there is quite a bit of choice.  The game also lets you sell already bought upgrades just in case you need to adapt to the way things are going.

Not all that deadly but will cause large amounts of embarrassment
I'm not usually the kind of person who enjoys playing flash games, I tend to avoid them most of the time, but this one is actually really good.  So if you need something to fiddle with while you procrastinate productive things, Pandemic 2 is the way to go!


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

What you are looking at in the opening picture today, is the end credits for Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  That's right folks, despite a lot of complaining about it in various posts over the last few weeks, I finally beat this fucking thing, so I thought I'd give a little review.

Well first of all, I was describing the goings on to a buddy of mine via facebook chat, and the impression I got from him was that this game doesn't really do a good job of following the movies too closely.  Some of the core scenes are there, but it does a lot of stuff to sort of "game" it up, which is fine I guess.  When making a side scrolling platformer you can't really expect it to be too faithful, as long as it's fun really.

So that's the big question here, is it fun?  Well to be perfectly honest with you, for me, yes, for most people, probably not.  This game is HARD, and when I say hard, I mean that unless you play a level perfectly this game will shaft you up the ass so hard that you will not be able to walk for days.  The checkpoints in some stages can be really unforgiving, especially in the final level.

My two major complaints however, do not lie with unforgiving checkpoints or game difficulty, but with taking damage and boss life bars.  When you take damage you dont fly back like you do it games like Castlevania, you get pushed back.  This is fine, but in some situations the whole being pushed thing will fuck with the controls and you'll die for stupid reasons because the enemy has been placed somewhere really obnoxious.  When it comes to bosses, their health bars are just flat out too big.  These make easy bosses really tough because it turns into an endurance match rather than a test of your accumulated skill.  The most bullshit example is that bogmonster I posted a while back, which required you to shave off bits of his body before you could even touch his main health bar, he wasn't tough, just resilient as fuck.

In the end though, the game is pretty fun, but if you want to win you have to be one hell of a patient player with a high tolerance level for bullshit.  If you like a challenge then go emulate it or find a cart or something but if super hard games aren't your thing, no matter how much you like Star Wars this one is just not for you.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Change of Plan!

This is just a short update post regarding the blog event I mentioned.

In case you've not been keeping up to date, I planned to do an event where I would challenge 100 of the hardest games I could think of and try to beat all of them over the course of December and January.

Well of course, I've done that thing I do of trying to do way too much all at once on my own, but that doesn't mean that I'm giving up!  Instead of being an "event" it'll just become a "feature" instead I've decided to call "Tau's Challenges" for the time being.

Keep an eye out!  I'll be starting with something nice and well known, so once I've prepared everything I'll begin filming and get it up!

I miss the floppy disk

God damn do you remember these things?!  Well we have reached an age where there are now a significant number of people who fucking don't, and that's sad.

These plastic squares could hold an absolutely massive 1.44 megabytes of data and it was the games came on for shit like the Amiga and other systems.  I never owned an Amiga myself, but I do remember having some kind of computer thing with a green and black screen that played some kind of golf game that came on a floppy disk, that was the shit back then.

Back in my old school days, I remember we used to get a free floppy disk from the library, and we'd fill it full of stupid pictures from some picture website and go giggle at them at home.  It was dumb but I have a lot of fond memories with this old file storage format.

The best thing about these damn things though was the sound it makes when you put it in the drive.  It would make this awesome kind of click sound, pushing one of these bastards in was so satisfying.  On top of that, one way to stave off boredom during the IT classes was to flick the metal bit on the top back and forth, I could do that shit for hours.

But alas, the floppy disk is no more, but I'm glad I got to experience the tail end of their existence.  Maybe one day we can have something that looks like a floppy but has shit tons of storage on it, that would be nice.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Can't give a shit about the WiiU

Read the title again just in case you saw it and got angry.  It's not "don't" give a shit about the WiiU, it's "can't" give a shit.  I've been trying really hard to get myself hyped up for this new bit of hardware from Nintendo, but I just don't give a fuck and I can't bring myself to give a fuck.

Initially, I was really interested in this thing, mainly for it's controller with a screen in it.  When I first saw it announced and got a glimpse of that thing my mind started thinking about all the cool concepts that could come out of a bit of gear like that. 

But I'm not really one for following hype so the WiiU dropped off my radar for a while, then I eventually got round to looking at a list of launch titles for it and good lord was I disappointed.  Everything that's coming out for this damn thing already exists on another system, is garbage aimed at non-gamers, or is just not very interesting.

ZombieU was the game I paid the most attention too, but it still doesn't seem all that interesting to me.  The controller screen stuff is cool, but you don't NEED the controller screen to have those features, it feels like a gimmick and nothing more.  That's the problem with the WiiU I think, for me at least, it feels like a gimmick.

That said, I thought the exact same thing about the DS and the exact same thing about the Wii, and after it gained some steam we got some really impressive games out of those systems.  So, either hurry up and come up with a really cool game concept with that controller screen thing OR release a Trauma Centre, because that'll do it really.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

That feeling of satisfaction

You know, I was going to use this post to complain about how bullshit some bosses can be in certain video games, but after I took the picture to complain with I won, so I'm gonna talk about this instead!

The super hard Empire Strikes Back playthrough continues, and just as I'm starting to get frustrated at the Cloud City boss, I go and pull a win right out of my arse.  This reminded me of one of the reasons I love playing games so damn much, and it's that feeling of satisfaction you get when you finally overcome something that felt previously impossible.

Sure, it's face meltingly frustrating to have to do the same part for hours and hours (or in the case of this stage, days) but when you finally do it, you feel like king of the goddamn world.  It's a feeling that I've not had for a long time with modern games being a lot easier than they used to be, which is a shame but I understand why it's happened.  There are a number of reasons but the main one I think, is that it's just not profitable to make super hard games anymore.  There is a majority of people today who don't want to actually have to try, or think, or use strategy, they just want something fun to whittle the hours away with, and it's these people that companies are making games for.

It's sort of a shame that this seems to be the case, but at least it opens up the medium a bit.  So if you're getting tired of the easefests, fire up something retro, get that passion for clearing a challenge back. 

Blog update and the Yakiniku Review

Well I've been a little busy this weekend, so I've not really had time to sit in front of my PC and write posts, but I'm just about finished with all the weekends arrangements, so I can get back to blogging.

So now I'm gonna announce a new blog feature starting from December, and ending whenever the hell it's finished.  The event is something I've decided to call "The Centurions Controller" (Working title) and with the help of my buddies and the people at a few forums, I'm in the middle of compiling a list of the 100 hardest games I can think of. 

I will then try to play them through all of them, and hopefully beat them too.  I'll outline more details of this in a vlog or something later, so look forward to that.

In the meantime, since I went to Yakiniku on Friday, you can have my 15 second review of what I think about it!


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Annoyed by Silent Hill: Revelation

Goddamnit, I've not even seen this movie and just watching the trailer makes me angry.  Before anyone asks why I haven't seen this movie yet, well, 1. It's not out in Japan yet, and 2. I don't want to give them money for this monstrosity.

What I'm about to write isn't so much a movie review, just a few reasons why this film really pisses me off.  So, obviously it's supposed to be based on the third game in the series, this was common knowledge before the film came out, but, it ALSO follows the first movie.  You know what this means? It means it can't possibly follow the third game, because the first movie had basically nothing to do with the Silent Hill games bar cameos from the monsters and the whole changing world thing (and they even fucked that up)

OK, this article is going to have a spoiler for Silent Hill 3 in it, so if you haven't played it by now, stop reading.

So, in Silent Hill 3, the thing that gets Heather (the main character) to the town is that Claudia (The main antagonist) kills her dad.  Well in this fucking movie, Claudia appears to be absent and her dad gets fucking kidnapped.  Why is he being kidnapped?  Harry Mason wasn't even mentioned in the first movie.  I get why they didn't like him in the third game, since he ruined their shit in the first game, but he's just kind of popped up in this film.

But I'm sure the film comes up with a bunch of shitty reasons for it's shitty plot, but there is something worse that REALLY gets to me.

This is Vincent, what seems to be Heathers boyfriend or some shit.  But wait, Vincent wasn't like that in the game was he?

That's because he didn't even come CLOSE to being Heathers boyfriend, mainly because he was one of the fucking antagonists, but on top that, he was one of the most interesting characters in the whole damn story, and his entire role has been reduced to THAT?! Fuck....

Also why is Pyramid Head still in this damn thing?  He's a monster specific to James Sunderland, please stop putting him in places he doesn't belong (i.e. Anything other than SH2)

I want to see this movie so I can have a good proper rant about the damn thing, but I don't want to give them money for this crap.  Maybe when it pops up in a used DVD store I'll pick it up but until then, I'm just going to get mad at the trailer.