Sunday, 30 September 2012

Symphony of the Night's Reverse Castle

The last post that I made about Symphony of the Night I gushed quite a lot, so I thought just before I beat the game I'd come back and gush a little bit more.

I'm going to get into spoilers here, so if for some reason you haven't completed or played this game yet then hurry up and get to it, you're already fucking years late.

Anyway, a ways into the game you discover that the castle is being lorded over by none other than Richter Belmont, the protagonist from Rondo of Blood.  This is where the game gets interesting because from here, you can go straight to Draculas's chamber, go and ruin Richters shit and the game will end right there.

I like to call that ending, the "lazy shit" ending, because if you go to any lengths to explore the castle (which is sort of the point of the game) then you can easily find a pair of holy spectacles.  With these equipped you can see this little green orb when you fight Richter, and killing the orb instead of him opens up a entirely different castle!

OK, maybe not entirely different, it's the same castle flipped upside down.  This sounds awful at first since it sounds like a bunch of backtracking through the same areas and having to complete the exact same game again, but it's actually really cool.  New items to find, new enemies to battle and bosses to defeat, basically new everything except backgrounds.

What I find so amazing about the reverse castle though is that the developers put it in, and made the whole thing entirely missable.  There was no guarantee when this was a new game that every player would figure that out, they programmed all this shit and it would have been totally lost on some players.

Shit like this is awesome, and with Symphony's reverse castle you're essentially getting 2 games in one.  So if you needed MORE of an excuse to pick this up on XBLA or something like that, now you have one.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Movie Review: Helter Skelter

On Monday I'm going to the nearest cinema to go and watch the new Bourne movie, but then I remembered that I've seen a couple of other films and not mentioned them here.  So with the heavy rain putting a delay on my shopping trip, I thought now would be a good time to talk about some movies.

Despite Helter Skelter being what you would essentially call a "chick flick", I still found it pretty entertaining.  It's about this woman who is the most popular model in Japan, basically everyone thinks she is the prettiest woman in the country.  In order to keep up with this image of being #1 beauty idol, she starts taking surgery to keep her looks up, but as a result of the surgery's side effects, she starts to spiral into depression and the movie is essentially a big montage of her life getting fucked up.

When I watched this film, it was completely in Japanese, none of this fan subbing stuff, it was all in a cinema, so there is a chance I may have missed some stuff in the dialogue, but despite that I still thought it was a fun movie.  The acting was solid, the story was interesting and the set design was pretty fucking spectacular.  If you're not interesting in watching someone spiral into madness and depression, at least there are plenty of attractive women bouncing around in lingerie to keep you happy, so even if you get forced to watch it you'll at least get something out of it.

However, the movie is based off a Manga which I previously had never heard of or read, so I can't comment on if the original manga version is better than the big screen adaptation, maybe one day I'll go give it a read and comment.

Despite the spoilers for the whole movie are in the fucking title, it's actually pretty good and I'd recommend this if you can download it or buy it on DVD or something.  I'm not sure about availability of this in other countries, but I'm sure you could find it somewhere.

Dark Escape 3D Impressions and Gameplay

If you have been reading this blog since the start, you may remember that I posted what I thought of the upcoming rail shooter scarefest called Dark Escape 3D.  Well it came out, and the good folks at the mall near my apartment installed a machine, so I managed to get a go and record some footage.

There isn't really a lot to say about a rail shooter, and I did do some commentary in the video to say what's up, but one thing that I noticed is that in this game, your aim has to be fucking immaculate.  In games like House of the Dead, if you hit the zombie, they would recoil a little bit, so even if you weren't landing headshots you would have still bought yourself some time to not get hit.  In Dark Escape 3D, you get no such luxury so if you're not landing headshots CONSTANTLY, you're fucking dead.

Also, I didn't play it with the 3D on, because I would have been impossible to get decent footage for the damn thing if I had, so when I go and play it again, I'll do another little post about how good (or bad) the 3D effects are.

So yeah, the rest of what I want to say is in the video, so watch that for more info.  There is a little bit of glare on the screen despite the whole thing being pretty much sealed off, but this is due to the fact that the game centre near my apartment is lit by super powerful floodlights, but it doesn't affect things too badly I don't think.

Before the video, have a little bit of a photo gallery.

The Gun!

The Glasses

A screen saying that you can switch between 2D and 3D

The stage select screen
Alrite, alrite, enough fucking photos, VIDEO TIME!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Saturn Month: Finale Buildup

Well, September is due to end real soon, and that means it will be the end of Saturn Month.  This is coming as a bit of a shame for me, because I didn't really do as much as I wanted, but just because Saturn month is over, doesn't mean I have to stop playing Saturn games, so you'll probably see some more stuff in the future anyway.

That said, I wanted to close out with something special, and that's Panzer Dragoon Saga.  Not only is this my personal favourite Saturn game, but it's also my personal favourite RPG ever, it really is that good.  But for now, I'm just going to leave it at that, because my plan isn't to do a 10-20 minute showcase like all the other videos, I'm going to do a full playthrough of this 4 disc beast. 

I'm hoping to start recording it on Sunday, so keep your eyes out for that, if you have never heard of this game, you're in for something truly special, watch this space.

In the mean time, have the opening cinematic, because I don't plan to be showing that when I start.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A small update

I did have something proper planned for today but I'm not really in the best of conditions to do some proper writing right now, so I'll save it for tomorrow morning.

That said, I will take this little bit of downtime to clear something up, the charity link hasn't been working for the last week or so, I think, but now it's fixed.  So if you were trying to donate but you were denied, you will now be able to.  If you havn't donated something, then I'd ask you to at least consider doing so, even if it's just something very small it would mean a lot to me.

Also I'm a bit lazy with Twitter but I'm trying to use it more and more, so keep me motivated by following me!

More soon!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What the hell is wrong with me?

Just before I start talking about what I actually want to talk about, the blog title is not an indication of my life falling apart, so with that said, let's get on with this.

If you remember a few months back I made a post about how I have this backlog that never EVER seems to decrease in number, well I have finally sussed out one of the reasons why this is so.  Recently, Torchlight 2 came out on Steam and Borderlands 2 will be released in Japan pretty soon too, but you know what my reaction to these 2 releases are?

Well if you thought it was to start playing those games, you'd be wrong.  With the release of Torchlight 2, I just want to play Torchlight 1 again for some reason, and it's the same with Borderlands.  It's not just these games I do it with too, I do it with almost everything as long as it's not Final Fantasy, or some stupidly long series like that.

I can't really rationalise why I do it, but I feel like I should go and re-experience the original game before I go jumping into the sequel.  Maybe there will be something I missed in the first game, maybe a story element I forgot or something, whatever it is, it makes me go back and this only makes my backlog even longer.

So yeah, I'm probably a bit crazy, but at least my mental problems only result in me having fun and not something harmful.

Pachinko and Slot Machines

Some people like to do a bit of gambling from time to time.  It may to be try and make a big win and walk away with lots of money, or some might just like the thrill.  Well in Japan you can go fuck yourself, that shits about illegal as it gets, but that doesn't mean there isn't something else in place for you to pump money into.

Dotted all over the country are these Pachinko and Slot places, that I have seen many times, but actually have very little experience with.  But what you have to realise is that these places aren't for gambling, not really.  You exchange money for medals (slots) or little round balls (pachinko) and as you play you can win more.  When you are done, you convert these medals or balls into a ticket, which you can then "cash in" for prizes.  Think of it like those ticket arcade machines, but instead of shitty plush toys you can get beer and cigarettes and stuff, hell I've even seen game systems behind the prize counter.  So kind of like gambling but not really.

That said, I've only ever seen pachinko, and I've only ever tried slots once.  I mean I don't mind heading to a casino in the UK to play some card games, but things like slot machines have never appealed to me.

However what does intrigue me is why almost all the machines are themed around some kind of video game or anime series.  When I think about the kind of person that would be into this kind of gambling, I don't think about gamers or anime fans.  These kind of people, at least in my head, would rather spend money on anime and video games than fucking slot machines.

The above picture is the only slot machine type I have ever tried, and I mean look at this fucking thing, it's all Neon Genesis Evangelion themed and stuff.  But they are ALL like this and it's not just slot machines too, there are Evangelion and Tekken themed pachinko machines too! The strangest one I've seen on YouTube was a Shadow Hearts themed machine, I mean goddamn is there anything they won't theme a machine after?

So yeah, that's the phenomenon of pachinko and slot that I just do not comprehend at all.  I've heard that you can go trade your prize ticket to a guy who will then give you cash, but the guy might be yakuza or something, I don't know I've never seen it.  If anyone does have any experience with this stuff I'd love to hear it, I don't really want to spend my money to find out.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Pokemon Sna.....Higashiyama Zoo

Today I did something very unusual, I didn't play a game all goddamn day and instead I hopped on a train and went to go see some animals.  Before today, I don't think I had been to a Zoo since I was a child, and by the awful joke in the title of this post, you can guess what I was comparing the whole experience to.

But the whole thing was a good laugh, got to see a lot of interesting stuff and the park itself was huge.  For 500 yen you get to explore not only the zoo, but a massive botanical garden that's attached to it, but we didn't really have time for that today so we just focused on the zoo part of things.

They had a good amount of animals but when I got home and started to reflect on the day, I realised that there were no monkeys, which was a little surprising, but then again the first thing you see after you get into the park is a fucking rhino, so I guess that makes up for it.

There isn't really much else to say about a zoo, I mean it's a fucking zoo.  I will say one thing though, and that's taking pictures of animals can be a real pain in the goddamn hole sometimes.  I think I spent the best part of about 15 minutes waiting for a goddamn bear to come out from behind a bush so I could take a snap, uncooperative little shit.

So yeah, if you're in Nagoya, or you get a chance to visit Nagoya, Higashiyama Zoo is pretty good.  If you're not in Japan, why don't you go hit up your nearest zoo just for the shits and giggles, it's pretty fun.

Here are some pictures of some of the animals!

That's only a small selection of the pics, but you get the idea.  It would take way too long to upload all of them, and would take up way to much space, but before you get upset, I do have some videos too!  So here you go!

So yeah, if you want ALL of the pictures, leave a comment or send a mail or something, I'll do something about that.  But for now, enjoy the stuff

Monday, 24 September 2012

Not Getting on the Hype Train

With Tokyo Game Show stuff filling up all the gaming websites that I usually browse through, I thought now would be a good chance to talk about game hype and why I don't bother with it 90% of the time.

First let's start with what I like to do.  I usually head over to one of the many sites that provide me with gaming news and information and check out announcements and stuff like that.  Once I learn that a upcoming game exists, that's it, I'm done.  For most games I don't ever read more into them than that. Sure, I might watch a trailer or two to see what it looks like, but I don't like to get behind these huge advertising campaigns that some games have and get super hyped for something before I've even had a chance to play it.

The reason I try to read as little as possible on upcoming titles is that a common complaint I hear is that a certain game "didn't live up to expectations" so I figure, the less you know about a game, the less expectation you have and then you don't get the pangs of disappointment when it sucks.  On top of that, if the game does end up being really really good, you feel extra happy for getting a pleasant surprise.

It's true that I don't do this for every game, but the majority of games I try to follow as little as possible until after they have been released.  I don't want a marketing campaign giving me preconceptions as to how awesome I should think it should be, I want to form my own goddamn opinion by actually playing the game.

So before I finish I just want to clarify that this doesn't mean I bury my head in the sand and ignore everything that's put out on a game after the initial announcement.  Reading news regarding a games development is not the same as following the hype but there is a very thin line.

I'm quite tired and I'm expecting to read this in the morning and getting a faceful of twaddle, but you're intelligent people, you know what I'm at least trying to say.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Saturn Month: Die Hard Arcade Showcase

Well it happened, my good friend finally came to Nagoya and we got to record ourselves playing Die Hard Arcade! 

Although things didn't go to well.....Not only were we dealing with semi-hangovers from the night before, but we had taken up the bottle again just before playing, so our skills probably weren't all there for this one.  On top of that, my friend has very few natural survival instincts so we ate through our credits quite quickly.

That said, it was a ton of fun to record and hopefully you'll get a kick out of watching it too.  We've promised ourselves to come back and record this when we're not being awful and show the world what the end of the game looks like!


Friday, 21 September 2012

Free Game Friay x9

You may remember that a while ago I told everyone about a game called Beneath a Steel Sky for a Free Game Friday a long time ago.  Well this week, I thought instead of telling you about those games one by one, I'd just let you know that there are 9 classic games available for free on the website Good Old Games.

I won't go into detail about any of them since if I was to do that for every game, it would take far too long, but they are all worth playing.  I mean Ultima 4 is included in this deal, so you're getting an absolutely brilliant RPG right there for nothing.

So head over to Good Old Games, grab yourself an account and some free games.  Hell, the selection of games is so good on that website that you might even end up buying something after you've played the free stuff too!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Now that's some bullshit #9: Infinitely Respawning Enemies

I can't believe I've been reduced to making a post about this fucking topic, it should be obvious to developers that putting in an infinite amount of enemies in a section is bullshit, so why do they fucking do it?
So let me tell you a story, about how I became all frustrated and red faced about this topic.  I am currently playing Etrian Odyssey on the DS, a fun little dungeon crawler sort of similar to that Legend of Grimrock thing, but the combat is all turn based and encounters are random and character management is completely different....OK so it's NOTHING like Grimrock, but you have to draw your own fucking map so shut up.

Anyway, to illustrate my point, I'm going to show you a picture!
So you see those two purple arrow things?  They are called FOEs, and they are basically big nasty monsters that you can kill for better rewards and shit.  However in this case, the monsters are just ants, ants with high defence and the ability to call for help.  Now that doesn't sound so bad, it's not exactly uncommon to have enemies in RPGs that do this kind of thing, BUT, when you kill one of these FOEs, another one will take it's place straight away.  It's fucking arse because the ants in this particular corridor have something like 3 different respawn points, so it's almost impossible to make any fucking progress.  On top of that, if you manage to be unlucky enough to fight them on one of the respawning squares, you're just fucked, the fight will never end and you should just run.

But you know what?  As I'm sat here venting about this particular corridor, which I'll get through by the time the next subway trip is over, I can't actually think of another game that has this, apart from fucking Doom, and even then it's only on the highest difficulty. 

I know they exist, I've seen it, experienced it, raged at it before but I can't bring another title to mind right now.  But the point still fucking stands, don't have your enemies respawn till the end of time, it brings everything to a fucking standstill and does nothing but piss off and bore the player as he or she kills the same fucking enemies a million times over.

So if you are a game developer, and you put this kind of thing in the game, go and fuck yourself with a burning cattle prod.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Saturn Month: Preparation for Police Brutality

Time for another round of Saturn games and this time we'll be looking at Die Hard Arcade.  Die Hard Arcade was a fucking awesome coin-op beat 'em up game that got a Saturn exclusive port and is incidentally one of my personal favourite arcade games ever.

The story behind the game itself is fairly straightforward.  Some prick has taken the presidents daughter and you have to go smash the faces of many thugs to get her back.  Really simple premise, perfect for just kicking the shit out of people, which is all you really ask of a beat 'em up game, let's be honest.

That said, the story behind the games development is a bit more strange.  If you go look it up, or when I get round to shooting a video for it, you may notice that it actually has very little to do with Die Hard.  That's because it actually has NOTHING to do with Die Hard and I imagine the title was slapped on it so it would boost sales.  In Japan it was developed and released under the name Dynamite Deka, and after it was complete, they nabbed the Die Hard licence and slapped it on when the released it in the west.

The gameplay is standard beat 'em up stuff, but it's fucking awesome.  You can do normal shit like punching and kicking if you're boring, but if you're awesome you'll use the environment or one of the many weapons in order to make murdering your fellow man that much more efficient.  Kill all the dudes in a room to progress to the next room to kill more dudes.  Sometimes you'll get a quick time event between the rooms so you can have the game automatically kill a dude for you if you get it right.  Then right at the end, if you're on 2 player mode, you get to murder each other as a little nod to stuff like Double Dragon.

The upcoming video will be a little different for this one.  I have a friend coming up to Nagoya to visit me, so we're hoping to grab a copious amount of beer and scream at each other while we die miserably, so keep an eye out for that one.

Also before I finish, the game got a fucking awesome sequel on the Dreamcast called Dynamite Cop
Same game, different setting and much more refined gameplay, it was awesome!  If I ever get a chance to show you that one, I will, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for a Japanese copy of this thing too!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sexism in Games: An Argument that Should Fuck Off

DISCLAIMER! I'm not suggesting by the title that it doesn't exist or should not be talked about, there is a decent issue to discuss here, but my problem lies with the way in which people discuss it.

So with that shit out of the way, let's get down to it.  I hate this fucking topic too, you go on any website that has an article about sexism in games and the arguments are all the fucking same, claiming this that and the other is all super bad and horrible for women and no one gets any respect etc. etc.

At the end of the day, it's all a load of fucking toss anyway, people are getting mad at all sorts of stupid shit like how a character looks as opposed to anything else.  Sure, this is a multi faceted debate, but to keep this blog post from becoming an essay, the depiction of women in games is what I'll be focusing on.

First of all, I'll make a blanket statement about the whole damn issue, SEX FUCKING SELLS, DEAL WITH IT!  Almost every industry that is trying to sell something will use sex appeal to push goods.  Music, movies, games, fucking shaving razors, perfume and cologne are all fucking guilty of this shit, it's not sexism it's just people like to see a sexy woman or a sexy man doing sexy things, we're programmed as human beings to enjoy seeing that kind of shit.  I mean, look at this fucking music video

or this fucking advert

The song is a bunch of women in sexy outfits, using those sexy outfits to attract people to the video, therefore making them money.  Also look at that fucking advert, there's a attractive bloke running around with his top off because that's the kind of men women want to attract with that perfume.  Is it sexist? NO OF COURSE FUCKING NOT YOU CLOWN!  Sex appeal just helps to sell things, it's the same for fucking video games too.

Now, before I go into why the argument itself is a load of arse, I'll say why it needs to fuck off.  It needs to fuck off because the people talking about it don't have a fucking CLUE what they're on about, ever.  I did a quick google of the issue and found this quote (

"The truth is that games are sexist in their depiction of women to a depressing degree. I raised the point on a press trip dinner last year: how many female characters can you think of that aren’t obviously designed to be sexually attractive to men? Apart from Shepard, no one around the table could suggest a single one."

Really? Fucking really? Not a single one?  They think that just because is a character is designed to be appealing to a man, it's sexist? FUCKING! BULLSHIT! While it's true there are a lot of female gamers out there, it never used to be that way.  For years and years and years, gaming was a male dominated hobby, and probably still is.  So if you're a company trying to push products, who are you going to aim the sex appeal at? OH YEAH! FUCKING MEN! 

But even if you ignore that whole side of it, this argument is so fucking shallow, most arguments I've seen about the depiction in women in games only EVER focuses on the look of the character, and not what the character is like personality wise or what they are capable of in the context of the game, let's look at one that the "gaming is sexist" crowd would have a field day with.

This is Alice, from the game Shadow Hearts on the Playstation 2.  Now look at this shit, if you were making the argument that games were sexist using this picture alone, you'd have so much to say.  She's innocent and weak looking, shes wearing a mini skirt and thigh highs, she's designed in such a way that makes you think she needs protecting, thus empowering men etc. etc. etc.

Well guess what? You'd be fucking wrong, on almost every count.  Sure, OK, for the daughter of a priest, her skirt length is a little suspect, but it's not like shes oozing sex appeal from every orifice, and there is nothing inherently sexist about a short skirt, I see women in short skirts every time I leave the fucking house.

But let's really think about her character here for a second.  The main character, called Yuri, makes a big deal about protecting her yadda yadda yadda, but then spends most of the game having to have his ass saved by Alice.  Hell, she gives her soul to a fucking Devil to save this guy, only to stand up to it and attempt to reclaim her soul by killing the devil, USING A FUCKING BIBLE AS A BLUNT WEAPON.  Sure, she needs help from Yuri in the end, but not because shes weak and helpless, but because Yuri is holding the magic mcguffin that stops the devil from being immortal.

On top of all that, she fights using a fucking bible, a sodding book.  She spends an entire 30+ hour game killing Gods, with a book!  Sure, her final attack gives a panty shot, but the game has this feel to it that makes it more anti-men than women.  It feels like the game is saying "yeah, you worked SO hard levelling up one of the best characters in the game, here, have 10 pixels worth of panty for your "effort""

If Shadow Hearts is sexist in any way at all, it's against men, not women.  Every man in the Shadow Hearts universe is characterised as dirty, clumsy, pathetic, perverted, weak, helpless as well as a load of other negative adjectives.

This whole thing isn't true for just Shadow Hearts, it's true for a fuckton of games where people just see a sexy woman on the box or in the bonus features and write the whole thing off as sexist trash. 

Yes, there is sexism in the gaming industry (against males AND females), and yes, it needs to be discussed and eventually put to rights, but the problem is that the vast majority of people I've seen talking about it, don't have a fucking clue and need to fuck off so that this discussion can progress, and not remain as a pathetic playground argument.

Note: I may do some other posts on this issue, regarding not the characters, but the way women are treated in the industry or whatever, we'll see how I feel.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Saturn Month: Nights: Into Dreams showcase

Another video for Saturn Month has been uploaded!  I was having a lot of problems with this one, it really didn't want to behave when being run by my emulator while recording.  Still, I made it work in the end and here you go!

I'm hoping to do some games with a bit more depth to them in the future, I find the reason that these games are so hard to talk about is because despite being awesome, they are really quite simple, and considering I'm trying to be informative about these games, I need to play something that has more to say about it than "get the things and put them in the round thing"

Still, hope you enjoy the video!

Sunday, 16 September 2012


So I just returned from my epic weekend of Japan stuff, but I am in no condition to post anything gaming related or get footage for videos, so instead, I'll tell you about why I'm in no condition to do so.

Basically, in Japan they have these things called Yakiniku and Shabu Shabu.  Yakiniku is kind of like a barbecue thing, where you have a grill in the middle of your table, and you order raw meat and cook it yourself.  Shabu Shabu is a similar sort of thing but you have a bowl of water and you boil the meat in there rather than grill it.

The other thing they have in Japan is something called "Tabehoudai" which basically means all you can eat.  You pay for about 90 minutes where you are just free to order however much food you can possibly shove down your face and then once your time is up you fuck off.

Now I was fine to return home and start filming gaming videos until I stopped at a place called Manpuku.  This place is everything I just described in the above paragraphs, but all rolled into one.  So if you look at the photo, it's shabu shabu in the bottom section and yakiniku grilling at the top.  On top of that there's fried food, sushi, salads all sorts of shit available, and you are free to grab however much you can possibly handle.

So, as with any visit to an all you can eat meat place, I ate my own weight in dead animal and now my stomach feels like it's going to explode and I'm not in the best condition to produce commentary for videos when I know all it will be is me farting and burping out the remains of a cattle farm.

So there's a quick overview of all you can eat restaurants in Japan, and why my content is delayed by one more day!  Luckily, I have tomorrow off work, so I'll have plenty of time to be recording and stuff!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

No posts due to Japan

If you are wondering about the lack of free game Friday or posting in general, it's because I'm currently not at home.

That said, from Sunday I should be able to churn out something special to make up for the down time.

So sit tight!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Saturn Month: NiGHTS Into Dreams

Well here we are people, we are finally getting into the meat of Saturn month, the greats of the system, and we're starting out with NiGHTS Into Dreams!

If you're the kind of person who never played this one, but you played the one on the Wii, good lord you are missing out.  The Wii NiGHTS game isn't exactly awful but it's missing a lot of the original charm I think.

There is a plot that I bet most people don't give a shit about, but for those that do....there are two kids who are basically crap at life, and because they are crap at life they have nightmares.  There is also some evil prick who resides in the dream world, stealing dream energy to take it over.  He creates Nights who then decides "fuck this" and rebels.  The kids, who end up in the dream world hold dream energy that cannot be captured by the evil prick, so it is up to you as nights, to harness this and go ruin the evil pricks shit.....I think

It's been a LOOOONG time since I played NiGHTS, and even then the story isn't a big part of it.  It's more about acrobatics and showing off how good the Saturn was at pulling off busy, colourful 3D environments.  Aside from the awesome gameplay which I'll show you in the upcoming video, the game just oozes charm and personality.  The design, the music, the little details in each stage all come together to create something really unique, so I'm hoping to get the video out on this one ASAP.

If you have not seen this version, I think you're in for something special, watch this space!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Castlevania Series Run: Symphony of the Night Opening Sequence

I bet everyone forgot that I was playing through the entire castlevania series didn't they?!  Well I sure as hell didn't, so today I started playing Symphony of the Night again.  This is only gonna be a short one, since I just started playing and I should be getting ready for work right now.

It's been a long time since I last played Symphony, and the reason I'm making a quick post about it is after playing for about 30 minutes or so, this game, has one of the best openings of any game I've ever played.

The game starts with the final battle from Rondo of Blood, and once you've done that, it gives you a scrolling text screen that tells you the story, but it ends with "No man can say who will emerge victorious"

I mean good god, that's fucking genius.  I find that when I play more recent games, it never feels like I'm doing anything particularly impressive, like I'm guaranteed to win by virtue of being the main character.  In this game though, it really feels like you're going up against something that's probably going to kick your ass, or at least give you a damn hard time.

Then you get this section

Just running through corridors one shotting monsters twice the size of you, god it feels so good!  Then Death shows up and steals all your awesome shit, and the game starts good and proper.  But this game does an amazing job of hyping you up for everything to come AND it makes you want to get revenge on the prick that took all your shit.

There is a reason this game is regarded as such a classic, and this is one of em!

Modern Game Difficulty

If you watched the last Saturn Month showcase that I did then you are probably aware that I mentioned that the difficulty of the Saturn version, was way harder than the difficulty of the Xbox Live Arcade version, well this got me thinking about difficulty in games and I'm going to share with you my thoughts.

Let's start by making a very simple and general statement, games are a lot easier now than they were a long long time ago.

Now, before anyone starts frothing at the mouth over that, I will say that this doesn't mean that games today are all cakewalks, it also doesn't mean that modern games don't have frustrating or difficult moments and I'm not saying modern games are bad in any way, shape or form.  It's all simply a case of the technology getting better and the gaming audience expanding.

Games today have become a damn sight easier, probably because there is just more people playing them now.  Not every "gamer" in 2012 has time to sit there for hours and get good at a game just to experience the story, so developers want to make stuff a bit more accessible to your every day guy or gal who just wants to experience the medium.  Also, with the fact that most people play online, the need to develop super difficult AI's is pretty much gone, you can deliver and experience with the single player and then leave the challenge up to the multiplayer.  After all, a human opponent will be way harder to figure out than a computer one ever will.

Also, games now are longer and this is a big factor when thinking about difficulty as well.  You had to pay £30-£40 for a new game on the Sega Megadrive back in the day, and the games aren't that long because of the technological limitations, so of course you'd have to make it super hard, just to get your moneys worth!

Now that's me being fair

While it's true that a lot of old games were "bullshit" hard, mainly because of bad design, modern game devs make games "bullshit" hard now just because they don't have a fucking clue how to make an actual challenge.  Let's take Darksiders as an example.  If you put the game on hard, all it means is that you take more damage, and the enemies have more health.  This is NOT challenge, dodging attacks is not a difficult thing to get good at after an hour or two of play, so it just makes things frustrating as you have to wail on a guy for longer.  Game developers today seem to have this bad habit of making games hard in the "bullshit" way, or just flat out way too easy at all times on any mode.

Old games were bullshit hard too, in a different way of course, but a well developed retro game feels fair in its difficulty whereas a well developed modern game, still feels bullshit in it's difficulty.  This isn't true for every game of course, but it's pretty commonplace.

So yeah, there's a little bit of an insight into what I think about difficulty in games.  Games I would breeze through as a kid now kick my ass, so it could be a case of me being bitter and wanting something to blame, but whatever, I'm still having fun with the medium anyway.

ADDITIONAL BIT:  A lot of games today also lock out the hard mode until you beat the normal mode, this needs to fuck off right now.  I like a challenge, so I like to put my games on hard, so don't fucking lock me out of it just because I haven't played your piece of shit game all the way to completion on normal, goddamnit

Monday, 10 September 2012

I suck at Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo

I just finished uploading the little showcase video I made for this game!  I'm aware that I suck, and I still need to solve some mic issues.  I'm still new to this whole, recording games thing, but hopefully, by the time the next showcase comes around, everything will be good and sorted.  Not much to say about this one, I died a lot but I managed to finish on a win! 


Zenonia post game thoughts

I'm going to stop planning to record the Saturn videos on a Monday, it's a hard day and I just don't feel like being all chirpy down a microphone after having to deal with that.

So now I've got that out the way, let's talk about a game I beat today! Zenonia!......and it can go fuck itself!

If you remember a long long time ago, back when this blog was still fairly new, I did a Free Game Friday feature on this little iPhone RPG, and I think I said some good things about it.  Well after getting through the last section of this game, I can say that most of what I said was complete and utter bullshit.  There are good points to this game, it is fun, but the last two dungeons suck so much fun out of everything that the whole thing feels like a slog. 

The second to last dungeon is this stupid fog of war cave where you can't see shit and getting blindsided by some asshole monster is fairly commonplace.  It was at this point that no matter how long, boring or delayed my trips to work became, I didn't want to touch this damn thing.  So today I just thought "fuck it" and blasted my way through the final part of the game.  I would die constantly getting to the end, but for a mere 3000 gold you can revive with no penalty, and when you do get to the boss, it can't even fucking touch you.

The final dungeon and the build up to the final battle is even worse.  It's a huge fire cave filled with crap, copy pasted enemies and hard to spot floor traps.  It's not a difficult dungeon but good lord is it dull.  After slogging your way though the mobs, you get some piss easy block pushing puzzles, and then you fight the final boss, who I killed using nothing but my overpowered AoE and simply mashing the "hit it with my sword" button.

The sad part of the whole thing is, everything BEFORE these two areas was actually pretty good, I was having a blast with this thing until then.  It just dropped the ball so hard right at the end that even for a free iPod game it's difficult not to be a little bit pissed off.  Oh, and I won't spoil it but the ending sucks too.

So you know what? Even though I told you a long time ago to give Zenonia a go, don't fucking do it.  Despite having not played them, I'm sure Zenonia 2-4 are better games, so don't make the mistake I did and try to play through the series in order unless your some kind of masochist for video game bullshit.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Keyboard and Mouse Vs Controller

This is another one of those debates I see pop up on various forums and internet websites, and quite frankly it's a discussion I wish would just fuck off forever.

If you're going to have this discussion in a general sense, you should just shut up.  Both have advantages and disadvantages but you have to think about it based on what kind of game you're actually playing.  You can't just go and say that one is outright better than the other, because that would just be silly.

There are some genres of game where it doesn't matter if your using a controller of a keyboard and mouse.  Things like RPGs with turn based combat, or turn based strategy games (yeah, it would be a pain in the ass with something like Civ, but it would still get the job done) and things like that.

That said, a keyboard and mouse is about the only way to go for FPS and RTS games.  In FPS, the precision you get from aiming with your mouse is something you just can't quite get with a controller.  FPS controls on consoles are in fact, very good, but it just feels more natural on a keyboard and mouse, to me at least.  RTS games just require so many buttons to do so many different things, that trying to put an RTS on a console just seems a bit dumb really.  In order to have RTS on a console, you would need a keyboard peripheral or you would have to dumb down the gameplay quite significantly.

That said, I would not want to play platform games or fighting games on a keyboard and mouse.  I feel that when platforming, it feels way better to use a controller due to the fact I can make jumps a lot easier, and with fighting games, I'd hate to put quarter circle inputs in with a goddamn keyboard, it would be awkward as fuck.

But you know what, that's just me, I'm sure there's a guy who can beast FPS games with his pad, and another guy who can whoop my ass at Street Fighter with a keyboard.  At the end of the day it just comes down to what feels most comfortable to the player.  So while it makes sense to have certain control schemes for certain genres, the whole debate is rendered a bit pointless when it just comes down to personal preference.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Sega Saturn Peripherals

Like every console, the Sega Saturn had a number of extra bits and bobs that you could buy to enhance your gaming experience.  So for those that didn't own a Saturn, I thought I'd give a bit of a mention to the ones that stood out.

Well the first one I never actually owned back when you could still buy Saturn games in the store.  It was known as the 3D controller, and as far as I know its main purpose was for playing Nights: Into Dreams.  The differences between this pad and the regular pad as the addition of an analogue stick and some changes to the shoulder buttons.  The reason it was made is because if you've ever played Nights on a regular pad, it can wear on the palms after a while, so it was made to make playing that game more comfortable.

The next peripheral I want to talk about is the Super Cobra light gun.  Light Guns are not exactly uncommon for consoles, even the NES had a light gun, but this thing was an absolute beast of a weapon.  It was heavier than any other light gun I had used up to that point, and constantly shooting outside of the screen in House of the Dead felt more like lifting weights than playing an arcade rail shooter.   Also it was cool as fuck, whenever you pulled the trigger, the lights down the side would light up, back when I was a kid, that was the coolest shit.  Also it was compatible with the Sony Playstation so I think you could play Resident Evil: Gun Survivor with it.

The final thing I'll be talking about is another peripheral that I didn't own at the time, and this little thing is known as the Sega NetLink.  A lot of people give credit to the Dreamcast for being the first console with online features, but they would be really wrong.  If we're just talking about Sega, the Mega Drive had an online feature that didn't really take off, and then the Saturn the the NetLink, and while it only worked for a few games at ran at a whopping 28.8kb/s, it still worked to get you playing games online before the Dreamcast and its fancy 56k turned up.  It also came with a browser and auto connected you to an IRC channel as far as I understand the information I found on the internet.  After giving the wikipedia entry a quick read as well, the reason I probably never owned the damn thing is because it cost a massive $200, something I or my family would not have been willing to buy at the time.

The Saturn had some other cool bits of kit, but these are the ones that stood out in my memory, a quick google search can get you a complete list of all the peripherals available if you care that much.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Free Game Saturday: Dracula's Riddle

Due to Saturn month, I've once again not been playing all that much free stuff, but I want to share with you a "game" that took me and a group of about 4 friends over a month of solidly playing it to beat.

It's quite old so I imagine there are already a lot of people who know what the deal is, but for those who don't Dracula's Riddle is a series of stupidly hard puzzles that you must solve in order to banish Dracula.  These puzzles are fucking hard hard as well, you may find that you will breeze through the first few only to hit a massive block as one puzzle stumps you for days on end. 

That said, none of the puzzles are unfair or have bullshit solutions, they just require you to use every ounce of brainpower that you have and when you do eventually figure out one of the super hard puzzles, the feeling of satisfaction from seeing the browser load the next riddle is unmatched.

So the way you play this game is simple.  Every riddle contains a picture, a bit of flavour text that sometimes contains a hint, and the page source which will almost always contain a hint.  When you solve the riddle, you replace the last part of the URL with your answer, and if it is correct, it'll load the next one.  If you are wrong, it'll come up with a little message saying "YOU ARE LOST!"

So if you're into puzzle games and you think that all the currently puzzlers are too easy for you, give this one a shot, you'll be scratching that noggin for weeks.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo

Think of this post as a sort of "set up" post for the next Saturn month video I'll be doing.  So next on the list is a game that is not only one of my favourite puzzle games ever, but my mothers favourite game of all time.

This game was brought over to the Sony Playstation and was fairly recently put into HD on the Xbox Live Arcade with online multiplayer (which is pretty much dead last time I tried)  For anyone who doesn't know what it is, it's a block matching puzzle game where you have to line up matching colours and then smash them with a circular gem.  What made the game different from any other puzzle game I played at the time, was the fact that you could select one of about 10 Street Fighter or Darkstalker characters to fight in the middle.

Each character had a unique "drop" pattern, so when you smashed blocks, you would send solid blocks to your opponent that would take a number of drops to turn into normal gems.  The more blocks you smashed, the flashier the move would be.  A few blocks would cause your character to taunt, a good amount would make them do a special, and smashing a shit ton of blocks made them do an ultra.

The game is fast paced, fun as shit and really flashy.  What people who only bought the XBLA version may not know, was something called the "Street Battle Mode" which was a series of challenges that you had to clear against stupidly hard opponents.  Still, in place of that, we got online mode, where I was getting my ass kicked every time by stupidly hard opponents, so it was quite similar really.

I was never amazing at this game, and I'm not nearly as good as I used to be, but there will be a video on this game fairly soon.  I have plans for the next few days, so I'll release the video about around Sunday or Monday, so keep an eye out.  If you like puzzle games and street fighter, you'll LOVE this

I lose all man points with Slender

Slender is a game that I discovered through one of my buddies when they were trying to prove that properly scary games do still exist.  Well last night I decided to download it and give it a go thinking "well it can't be THAT scary" but oh, how wrong I was.

I have never played a game that has made me panic this hard.  The sound design is amazing and the big sprawling forest is unnerving to.  Also the way Slender "attacks" you is genius, he doesn't run at you or shoot stuff, he just hides, then pops up to fuck with you a few time, and then when he gets bored he offs you.

So a few friends of mine asked me to record a run so they could hear me scream like a little bitch.  They are probably going to get a kick out of it and I hope you do too.


Also, I caught my FFSplit screen right at the end, but I was too panicked to care.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Do we really need more Metal Gear?

I love Metal Gear, it's up there with some of my favourite franchises ever.  I started with the Metal Gear Solid demo on my playstation, ended up buying the full thing and being hooked ever since and as much as some people like to rag on it's outlandish, insane plot which could arguably use some editing, I still love that stuff.

So on the horizon we have Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, but do we really need these games at all?  Now I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way, these games do not look bad by any stretch, in fact they look awesome, but they worry me. 

The story for Metal Gear was done, finito, over with MGS4 and while I'm not going to turn my nose up at more Metal Gear goodness, I'm worried that one day, if they keep making these games, that they are going to end up sucking.

We have seen it happen to Silent Hill and Sonic just to name a couple of franchises that aren't anywhere near as good as they used to be and I really don't want to see Metal Gear get the same treatment.

I'm pretty hyped for these games, and they'll probably be good, but please....let it die and be remembered as a great series before you ruin it with spin off crap.

Three Dirty Dwarves with commentary!

Well it's done! 6 videos of me playing Three Dirty Dwarves to completion with me talking in the background!

Now I am aware that I need to do some stuff in the future to make these videos a little better.  The big one is that I just flat out need a better computer, so I guess I gotta start saving those paychecks.  The second thing is that I need a better microphone, my current one sucks and it's pretty obvious that it sucks, so I'll be popping down to the nearest electronics store in the near future.  The final thing is that I need to adjust the game volume, it was a little loud but I think it turned out just fine here.

Also, as much as I enjoyed putting this thing together, I didn't realise it would make me so nervous.  While I'm talking, my brain is going "everyone hates you and you're ugly" and it really throws me off.  Maybe if it turns out that people do enjoy this stuff that will become less of an issue.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the videos, like em, share em, and maybe donate if you're in the mood for that.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Three Dirty Dwarves (and more technical issues)

Well I WAS hoping to have a play through of this game to show you, but the technical bullshit behind this recording stuff is driving me insane.

The way I'm recording this stuff is by using an emulator because I don't have any way to lift footage off a console here in Japan, all my stuff for that kind of thing is in Sweden.   However, the software I am using to record the game play (FFSplit) makes the emulator look like complete ass and the whole thing is unwatchable.

So while I'm working on the issue, take a gander at the opening cinematic so you can get a feel for the game's story while I'm ironing out more problems.  The sad thing is that this 5 minute cartoon for this games opening is way better than most of the crap kids cartoons put out on TV today.  What a sad age we live in.

Thanks to whoever uploaded this video, getting any information on this game is actually turning out to be quite hard!

UPDATE:  Pretty much 10 minutes after making this post, I fixed the problem, the resolution is a little on the low side but the quality is alrite and the frame rate is good!  To be honest, considering I don't own a desktop due to travelling about so much, I'm glad I could get it to look the way it does.

I would record the play through now, but in my video testing sessions I'm playing like a man who has just had his thumbs cut off.  It's been a long day at work and I don't think I could do a good job of playing the game OR making the commentary interesting, so I'll do it in the morning when I'm nice and fresh!

That said I have a day off work and lots of time to make content, so maybe I'll do a little bonus something depending on how I feel to make up for lost time

Monday, 3 September 2012

Technical Difficulties!

Remember that I said for Saturn Month I was going to stream whenever I was playing Saturn games? well there is a problem

The problem is that my Internet is not good enough to produce a stream that is worth watching.  Either the frame rate is crap, the video/audio quality is crap or the stream just flat out dies.  There doesn't seem to be much I can do about it, so until further notice, streaming is OFF!

However! This does not mean that Saturn month will be stopping, instead, I'll be filming my runs of these Saturn games and doing some sort of commentary too.  Kind of like a "lets play" I guess, but I'm not going to be good at these games, I'm just kind of showcasing them because their awesome.

So hopefully over the next couple of days you'll be seeing stuff like Nights: Into Dreams, Die Hard Arcade, Three Dirty Dwarfs and Super Puzzle Fighter.  There will be more but those games will be filling up the next few days.

It sucks that the actual "game" part of Saturn Month is being so delayed, but everything is ready now, so lets DO THIS!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Now That's Some Bullshit #8: Sega Saturn Battery

Due to some problems with my ability to stream it's a bullshit double bill today!  Although this round of bullshit is Saturn related so that it fits in with Saturn Month.

The Sega Saturn had quite a weird set of internals.  For example the thing had dual CPU's, and while this has a load of technical implications that I don't understand because I'm not a developer, what I do understand is it basically made the whole system a gigantic pain in the ass to develop games for.

But the people making the games were not the only ones who had to deal with strange shit going on inside the Saturn.  If you look at the above picture, you can see a little space where a battery goes in.  This was the battery backup system for the Saturn and whenever you saved a game, it would save here. 

Now it's not battery backups that are bullshit, but it's the fact that this thing isn't really mentioned inside the system manual (which most people don't fucking read anyway) and there is no indication for when the power is low and you have to replace it, it's a load of ass.

I mean, I got the Saturn when I was a kid, I didn't know how the fuck it was saving my games and my parents knew jack shit about gaming systems, so they weren't aware of it either.  It wasn't until a couple of years ago when I hooked up my old Saturn and played Panzer Dragoon Saga for about 4 hours that I discovered what to do.  I saved the game, which worked just fine, but when I returned the save had been erased because the battery inside the fucking thing had died.

Plus it was one of those really awkward flat batteries that were quite hard to get hold of in the area where I lived in the UK.  Most shops didn't stock anything outside of AA and AAA batteries.

So, if after Saturn Month you decide to go grab one at a flea market or off E-Bay or something, either get that cartridge saving thing that I could never find, or replace the damn battery! 

You have been warned!

Now That's Some Bullshit #7: Three Phone Network

The Three phone network is a piece of shit and I'm about to tell you why!

Seriously, fuck this company right in the ear, I have never seen a big company like this conduct business this poorly, it's fucking atrocious!

So the story is, that after moving to Japan, I kept my English phone going for a few months just in case of emergency, so that I could contact people if something went terribly wrong.  Now, everything is well and truly sorted and I have so many other methods of communication that I don't need the extra phone now, so I thought I'd cancel the contract in order to stop monthly payments leaving my bank account.

Never in a million fucking years did I think that this process of making them stop my phone contract would be this fucking hard.  First I rang up their cancellation team, I had to go through all their verification stuff and then I got to talk to someone.  This guy said that it would be cheaper to cancel the contract in March of next year and that I should do it then.  So I hung up, and did some mental arithmetic and realised that I was straight up being lied to.

So I rung them again, had to do all the same verification shit again, and got through to another guy.  This guy said he was doing the whole process of cancelling the account and then tells me to hold then line, and after 4 or 5 minutes of holding, the prick just hangs up me!

Ever so slightly miffed off at this, I ring AGAIN, do the verification AGAIN, and get through to some other prick, who tells me that "he's trying to sort it out" and makes me hold the line for 50 fucking goddamn minutes.  It's a good job I was calling through Skype because if I had done this whole thing from my phone, it would have cost me a fortune in international calls!

Now extremely pissed off, I call again and midway through the call on skype, I get a call on my English phone from a guy at 3.  He tells me he'll cancel the contract, but not before asking me all sort of bullshit questions that were none of his business such as "why are you cancelling" and "are you coming back to the UK" etc.  On top of all this, he was constantly trying to convince me not to cancel the damn thing and stay with Three, at which point I flew into a bit of a rage and told him that once he cancels my account, I'm boycotting his damn company.

Yeah, it may have been pointless to say it but I was mad, I wasn't thinking properly.   But what he then started to do, was tell me that "because I'm not happy with the solution I will have to wait 48 hours for a call from the head office"  This made me even more angry and the next 20 minutes of this international call on my fucking phone was spent just trying to make him do his goddamn job.

EVENTUALLY it got done, but that was the biggest ball ache I've ever had to deal with in my life.  So you know what, DON'T USE THREE! EVER!  They will fuck you over and laugh at you while they do it!  It may sound stupid and unrealistic but I would love nothing more than to see this shitty company burn to the ground, bunch of ass holes!

what a load of bullshit....