Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

So it finally came out and the wait was so very very worth it!  Hotline Miami is easily one of my favorite games due to its fast pace and challenging nature and Miami 2 is essentially just more of the same thing.  That isn't to say though that Hotline Miami 2 is lacking in new things, quite the opposite but at it's core its the same fast pace murder spree that it always was.

This is usually the part where I'd go on to talk about the story but Hotline Miami 2s plot is actually rather hard to follow.  Taking place both before and after the first game you follow the adventures of multiple characters so you get to see the story unfold from a number of different perspectives.  These characters include an actor with a dark streak, a group of vigilantes, a detective, a writer and more.  However, knowledge of what went down in the first game is pretty much vital for understanding what is going on in this one so if you haven't played the first game then expect to get very lost very quickly.  While I quite like Hotline Miami's story, it isn't vital to enjoying the game so even if you don't have a fucking clue what's going on you can still enjoy the experience.

The game play is essentially the same as Hotline 1.  The game is played from a top down perspective and you use your mouse and keyboard to move and aim.  The goal of each level is to kill all the dudes and while sometimes you may have to collect a key or a briefcase off a table the objective is only ever kill all the dudes.  However, Hotline Miami 1 featured only 2 characters with slightly different play styles while each character in 2 has a unique spin on them.  For example, the group of vigilantes each has their own special ability such as a dodge roll, lethal punches or a two person team of chainsaw with pistol backup.  This game even features one character that doesn't kill people and picking up weapons will make him unload them for bonus score.  Whenever the story switches perspective you will end up having to play a little differently to suit the strengths and weaknesses of your character.  What's good though is that no character feels useless and while some will fare better in some stages than others you can complete each level with any mask/weapon etc.

I do feel like one would be Mistaken to call Hotline Miami 2 an action game though.  Sure the game is fast and there's lots of shooting and fighting but it plays very much like a puzzle game with the player having to work out the best route through the level and its enemies to survive.  Not to mention that the levels in 2 are a lot bigger than they were in one so it's no longer possible to just punch your way through the whole game like I do when I speed run the first one. 

The game has a few bugs such as enemies walking through walls sometimes but generally speaking Hotline Miami is a well made and super fun game that I think everyone should at the very least try out. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

The iPhone fucking sucks

I have an iPhone 5s and if it wasn't for the fact I could play Mahjong online for free and a few other games I probably would have broken my contract and ditched it way sooner.  Luckily, I didn't pay for the fucking thing as my 5s was provided for free when we signed up with the phone company.

Except the iPhone is a huge fucking piece of shit and always has been.  They never start that way though, when you first unbox it everything seems pretty good.  It does the messaging and the calling that you want and the app store has a few decent apps on there to keep you entertained during boring train rides or whatever.  It's a convenient piece of kit to have in your pocket and because of its mass popularity there is a lot of stuff and support available for it. 

But mark my words you are going to NEED that support so fucking bad after a year or so of using the damn thing because it will start to break on you for absolutely no fucking reason.  Every single person I've ever known that has owned an iPhone of ANY model has had it fuck up on them big time after a year or so of use.  These problems range from battery issues to buttons that just stop functioning or the thing slowing down for no goddamn reason.

2 days ago I was playing some Summons Board on the train, a monster breeding RPG made by the same people who brought us Puzzle and Dragon except it plays like a simplified Strategy RPG rather than a shitty version of Bejewled.  Anyway, I'm having a grand old time waiting for my stop when suddenly the game locks up and the thing fucking blue screens!  I mean the screen literally turned blue and then the thing fucking reset itself and I lost my progress.  This isn't the first game that its happened to either with certain titles like Mushihime Sama just crashing ALL the fucking time which is depressing because I really like that game.  At least I can go play it in my local arcade for 100 yen a credit...

Games fucking up is the reason I made this post but I've had all sorts of other issues too.  While my battery isn't quite kicking the bucket just yet, there are some days where it will decide it just wants to drop 10% for no goddamn reason.  Not to mention that 5 has become the new 0 which is deceptive and annoying.  Also for some reason every time I try to read a link on twitter it fucking crashes the app so I have to rush to the "open in safari" button just to read anything anymore.  There have even been points where the internet connection will just fucking die and I have to turn the damn thing off and on again to bring it back.

Like I said, everyone I know has had issues like this or worse.  The worst I've ever seen is on my friends phone where the swipe just decided to take an afternoon off.  He could still touch things using that button free interface or whatever the fuck its called by he couldn't open his phone which was a real pain in the ass considering that he was trying to contact his girlfriend a whole goddamn prefecture over.

Bottom line, iPhone fucking sucks.  I'm not all that clued up on the world of phones so I don't know what is a better alternative but I'm sure you can google it, you're a smart reader.

Fuck the iPhone
Fuck Apple
and fuck all these "trendy" wankers that rush out to buy the latest model day one.  Enjoy your paper weight, asshole.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pixels Movie

A few days ago a few of my friends started posting a trailer for a movie called Pixels on Facebook.  The first thing I saw as I scrolled past it was a giant Pac-Man eating a fire truck as it exploded into pixel blocks.  So of course I had to go on YouTube and check this shit out.  Before I say anymore you should also go and check out the trailer.

I'm a little torn on my thoughts with this trailer.  Part of me thinks it looks awesome and the idea of a video game themed alien invasion sounds kind of funny and considering that this is supposed to be a comedy then that's already a point in it's favor.  Also I really like the way the characters look, I think that shimmery effect lookin' thing on the video game characters looks awesome.

The reason I'm torn on it though is because it looks like it's going to be all referential comedy which is the worst.  It's like they as just going "HEY GUYS! LOOK AT PAC MAN! YOU LIKE PAC MAN RIGHT?!" and when they are not doing that some of the "jokes" are just flat out bad.  There's a part in the trailer where Donkey Kong chucks a barrel and the guys like "it's just a barrel, how bad can it hurt?" where it then precedes to explode right next to him and knock him for 6.  I'm not going to be entertained JUST because you put a big fat Pac Man on the screen and you have to do more with the jokes than just "barrels explode lol"

The gag featuring the Iwatani where he gets his hand bitten by his own creation made me smirk a little but that gag is ruined now because you went and showed it in the trailer and I doubt I'm going to find it as funny a second time.

Also Adam Sandler.....

But whatever, despite the movies probable suckage I'm still willing to go check it out and I'll probably have some fun with it.  Fingers crossed that the movies writers actually write some clever jokes but considering it's a movie about video game cameos in an action/comedy film I HIGHLY doubt it.

Also didn't Futurama do something like this once?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

This is a game that has been part of my collection for a very long time and beaten on multiple occasions but very recently I just went and beat it again so I thought I'd talk about it a little bit.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is a DS game that, like most Castlevania games post Symphony of the Night uses the Metroid style rather than original Castlevania style.  I'm not saying that as a bad thing, I like metroidvania a lot but it just is what it is.

Portrait of Ruin being on the DS had to have some kind of gimmick that set it apart from other titles in the franchise.  For example Dawn of Sorrow had you drawing seals on the screen to finish bosses and other things but the gimmick here doesn't involve the touch screen of the system at all.  Portrait of Ruins thing was that you had two characters that you could freely switch between.  These two characters where Johnathon and Charlotte and they both have their own strengths and weaknesses that you must use in order to overcome Dracula's castle.

Except the vast majority of the game isn't spent dealing with Dracula at all, oh no.  At some point some tosser called Brauner came along and sealed Dracula away using magic evil paintings.  Actually, I'm not actually sure he was trying to seal him away, I beat it last month and I didn't really give a crap about the story but it's something to that effect.  What this means in terms of game play is that you not only have to deal with Dracula's castle but with the insides of Brauner's paintings.  Of course, once you deal with him Dracula comes along to try and ruin your day but that's only at the very end of the game when you're on course for the best ending.

The rest is standard metroidvania fair of finding weapons, levelling up, exploring the castle and gaining abilities that help you get through all the walled off bits.  There is also a ghost sitting in a room near the castle entrance who will give you quests and completing these quests will yield various rewards.  There are also a few online features I never used and extra characters you can use once you beat the game so there is quite a lot of content here.

That said, this one is far from perfect and for some reason the little niggles in this one get to me a lot more than any other Castlevania game.  For example, Johnathon spends the whole game carrying around the Vampire Killer, the legendary whip that's been used since the series began.  However, because he's not a Belmont they make a big deal about how he can't use it without special help and if he does use it it'll consume his soul or some shit.  However, once you do unlock the vampire killer's power it has absolutely no adverse effects and is probably the best weapon in the game.  It's such a major plot point but the games lets you swing that shit around like any other weapon with no repercussions, it seems a little silly.

The double character thing also seems like a bit of a waste since my last through consisted of using Johnathon and nothing but unless I needed magic for something specific or she had to help me push something.  Charlotte is pretty much weaker in every way and while I'm sure there's some hardcore player out there who could argue the benefits of Charlotte, for a guy like me she's fairly useless.

The worst thing about this game though is that it goes and pulls a Silent Hill 4 but repeating the same 4 or 5 levels twice just with slightly stronger enemies the second time round.  It's fine because unlike SH4 the core game play is really fun but I do wish that they had a bunch unique portraits to go through rather than just 4 or 5 repeated.

While I personally think Portrait of Ruin is a really good game I'd find it hard to recommend it to someone who wasn't a Castlevania fan.  If you were looking to get into the whole metroidvania thing or you came off Symphony and wanted to try something else, go play Aria of Sorrow or Order of Ecclesia, it's like this one but way better.  Not that this is bad, just go enjoy the REALLY good ones first.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Games aren't made by one person...

So when I finished The Evil Within I sent a message to my friend saying "I just finish The Evil Within and it was fucking awful".  His response was "God, if Mikami can't make a good horror game what is the world coming to?"

I know what he means by that and obviously my friend and everyone with a working brain knows that but there is this habit in gaming to attribute a successful or shitty game entirely to one guy.  I don't know why this kind of irks me and it shouldn't because I know people aren't that stupid really but it's just something that I don't like.

Take the games from Grasshopper Manufacture, games like Killer7, No More Heroes and more recently Killer is Dead.  When people talk about these games they don't say "Oh, it's that game from Grasshopper" they say "oh it's that game made by Suda51".  Even if you look at the Steam page for Killer is Dead on Steam it says "Get ready for some seriously stylish action from renowned designer SUDA51" 

When it comes to games like this you only ever hear about how awesome Suda is and there isn't ever really any mention of anyone else at Grasshopper.  It's the same with Bayonetta where the ONLY name I ever hear when people talk about that game is Hideki Kamiya. It seems like all the other people who worked on that game, all those names in that credits list you didn't read are completely ignored and all the glory is given to one or two people.

Granted that I don't explore news sites for games too often because I have a lot of distaste for current games media so maybe if I did do some digging I could find an interview with some of the other members of the teams for these games.  That said, the only game that I can think of off the top of my head that isn't typically attributed to a single person is Silent Hill.  The people responsible for that game are always referred to as "Team Silent" and while there are still a lot more people responsible for those games at least they acknowledge that there was more than one mind for the production of that game.

Also before anyone gets on my case, I'm aware that there are some games that WERE made by a single person and that is rad.  Still, not a big deal but it just annoys me a little bit when a games quality is attributed to a single person.  I'm also aware that it would be unreasonable to expect games media to interview and have chats with every single member of a games development but it's just the way the phrase it.  If they said "Get ready for some seriously stylish action from the incredibly skilled staff at Grasshopper Manufacture led by SUDA51" it would be better.

Still, I'm just griping about bullshit, I'm sure all the programmers, artists and everything else reap the rewards regardless of their mentions and that's all that really matters.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Evil Within Sucks

This game fucking sucks and I'm so goddamn mad about it.  It sucks on almost every goddamn level and it saddens me.  I saw the screenshots and trailers before this thing came out, I saw who was working on it and for the first time in AGES I got a little bit excited for a modern horror game.  Of course, I shouldn't have let me guard down because The Evil Within is a steaming piece of shit with very few redeeming qualities.

Just for the record, I'm not writing this article as someone who gave up on it and came to come rage.  I played this festering pile all the way through just so I'd have more shit to say when I eventually came to my little blog to tear it a new asshole.

So let's start with the Story because it fucking sucks.  You play as a dude called Sebastian, a cop who is called to come and investigate some fucked up shit going down at Beacon Mental Hospital.  You arrive with your two idiot friends, Joseph and Kidman and you all immediately get jumped by some teleporting fuckwit in a white robe called Ruvik.  He stabs you in the face and you wake up upside down in some kind of butcher with a crazy dude ready to hack you up and the game begins in earnest.

My problem with the story is that the whole point of what's going on is that you are basically inside the villains head.  As a result of this you have no idea where you are, how you are or why you are where you are and there is no real sense of progress to beating a stage.  It doesn't matter how far you traversed the evil village of zombie people or how many traps in the industrial looking place you managed to avoid because the next scene will probably have the world spazzing out and changing locale because Ruvik said so.

There is also some other side plot type thing with Sebastian losing his daughter and wife but the whole thing is told through documents and by the end of the game I didn't give enough of a shit to pay attention to it.  Also Kidman is doing some bullshit and isn't actually a cop or something but none of that really matters because the whole game culminates in a boss fight where you blow Ruvik's brains out anyway.

The game spends so much time harping on about all this research that the villain and his shitty doctor friend was doing but none of it was engaging enough for me to care.  You see, as bad as the plot is in games like Resident Evil, its still interesting enough for me to give a shit about the goings on at Umbrella.  With The Evil Within I just don't give any fucks about what kind of dumb ass research was going on or why Ruvik was so upset, it's just dull.

Oh, there was also some shit about a woman in a hospital who went missing but ends up inside Ruviks head as the save point.  No idea what was going on there, don't care.

So the story sucks, but what about the game play?  Well that sucks too.  It's kind of like Resident Evil 4 but really shitty.  Sebastian just feels a bit....floaty and he's kind of hard to control when you need to do precise movements.  Most of the guns you get are bollocks with the Shotgun being the only weapon that feels any kind of useful.  The Agony Crossbow is cool at first but it's too fiddly when you're under a lot of pressure and you'll end up either missing shots or using the wrong bolt type.

That's just my opinion regarding the guns though, what REALLY sucks about the game play is that it tricks you into thinking you're playing a stealth game and then just totally changing after the third chapter.  The first chapter you are trying to escape from a chainsaw man without being seen.  The second chapter you are sneaking round a village then every chapter after that has ambush after ambush after ambush.  Why establish all this sneaking and then just throwing it out of the window?!  There are a few moments where it comes back but it's only short segments of certain chapters, most of it just turns into shooting monsters.

The game also goes fucking crazy with the whole "survival" aspect giving you very little ammo for anything.  However once you get a feel for the game almost every encounter is completely piss easy and you'll have no trouble with anything after the 4th chapter or so.  You still might die to a trap or a 1 hit kill enemy but the checkpoints are so forgiving and save points so frequent that it doesn't really matter.

Worst of all though, this game just isn't scary at all.  It's trying SO VERY HARD to be scary but it's like whoever was in charge didn't really know how to do horror.  They just seem to take a lot of horror imagery and ideas and just throw them all together but it doesn't really work.  By the end of the game it's trying so damn hard that it comes off as just funny with giant eyeballs and walls covered in brain tissue.  The traps that are supposed to be used to keep you on edge are Tom and Jerry levels of comical are some of the death animations are more hilarious that brutal.

I don't care how much you like horror games, just avoid this pile of shit.  Save your money and wait for Silent Hills or something, maybe they'll get it right next time.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

RIP Terry Pratchet

On Thursday I found out that sadly, Terry Pratchett had died.

For those that may not know, Terry Pratchett was quite a famous author of fantasy novels and probably most well known for his Discworld books.  To be honest I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels and as a result never read any of his books but Discworld did manage to find its way into the world of video games.

There's no way I could do the Discworld game justice in a short blogpost such as this but it's awesome.  If anything this event has inspired me to go play through it again so expect some in depth words about this awesome game later but if you haven't played it already you should go do it right now.  Terry Pratchett also suffered from Alzheimer's Disease so it's a news story that hits a bit close to home when it comes to the aim of this blog site. 

I've been told his books are really good too so if you can't find the game then go read the books instead, I know I'm going to go look them up now.  May he rest in peace and lets enjoy some Discworld to honor his memory.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Final Fantasy Levelling Is Stupid

With Final Fantasy 15 sort of round the corner I wanted to take a moment about my frustration with the level systems of basically every Final Fantasy from 10 onwards.

This post was first inspired by a news article that my friend link me a long time ago that I have long since lost, if I find it again I'll update the post.  The post outlined some things about how characters would level up and it compared the system to Dark Souls.  There's nothing inherently wrong with this and it's hard to make judgement without knowing all the other systems that the game will have but it still made me think how dumb levels have gotten in Final Fantasy.

All the way up to Final Fantasy 9 each character was kind of locked into a class.  The exception to this rule was Final Fantasy 3 and 5 which had a job system but if you picked a Fighter you better damn well play that character like a Fighter.  Final Fantasy 7 and 8 had ambiguous classes but it was clear who was better at things like sword fighting and who was better at casting spells.

Then Final Fantasy X came along with what seemed like an interesting level up system.  It introduced the Sphere Grid, a giant collection of circles where each one represented a certain statistical boost or ability.  A lot of people disliked the sphere grid but I thought it was OK.  I still have a lot of questions regarding how it works in the context of the game world but I didn't mind it so much.

My problem with the sphere grid is that the idea of a characters class went completely out of the window in the end game.  Every character could just do everything by the end of the game and you didn't even have to work that hard to get to that point.  You could argue the same thing about Final Fantasy 7 but the work you have to put in to achieve that is STUPID high while in FFX in requires very little effort.

FFX-2 was a bit more job based but jobs could be changed on the fly in combat which kind of ruined the whole point of the job system.  FF12 had that stupid license board bullshit and 13 just knocked the turd right out of the bowl with the fucking Crystarium. 

I'm hoping that the class and level system in FF15 will be back on point.  Where a fighter is a fighter, a mage is a mage and a thief is a thief.  The ability to make your characters more versatile is welcome but don't just abandon their entire role in combat so that everyone can do everything.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sonic Runners

I really don't understand how Sonic is still going.  For YEARS they've just been pounding out shit game after shit game and yet there are still legions of fans for this guy.  There are still groups of people who actually get moderately excited for an upcoming Sonic game and considering the quality of these fucking things I have no idea why.

That's when I was surprised when my friend said to me "I've got this really cool new phone game" and when I peered into his screen I saw it was a Sonic title.  At first I just laughed and told him to get out with that crap but the next day I started to get curious so I ended up downloading it.

Sonic Runners is one of those auto running type games.  If you're not sure what I mean by that then it's a kind of game where you character just runs forward and all you have to do is tap/swipe the screen to avoid obstacles.  Quite frankly, the novelty of this genre ran out after a few days with Temple Run and yet I haven't deleted the game off my phone yet.

Game play is very simple; Sonic runs and you tap the screen to jump.  You have to collect rings and gems to build score, kill enemies and save little animals.  It never ends, you just keep going until you die and the longer you play then the harder it gets.  Once you build up enough points you can fight Dr Eggman which will net you some extra rewards.  There is also a story that unfolds as you beat each area but I find myself just skipping through it because I'm pretty sure the scripts to Sonic games are written on the walls by a monkey with the pen jammed up its asshole.

Outside of the running you have to level up your characters so that they get more score or item effects last longer or you can play a little roulette game to get companions.  The companions come in the form of Chao's or remote controlled objects and bestow various effects when equipped.

You can pay for a special currency so that you can continue when you die or buy new companions but the currency is awarded to you slowly as you play for free so they micropayments don't really get in the way of the overall experience.  Also the games doesn't throw constant "BUY THIS SHIT NOW!" messages in your face which is nice because the idea of paying money for an iPhone games makes me want to vomit.

So to conclude, Sonic Runners is actually pretty good and considering that it's totally free its worth a try at the very least.  It's probably the best endless running game I've ever played which isn't saying much but I guess that's one point in it's favor. 

Then again, you could just play one of the originals or Generations and use your phone for better games like Super Monsters Ate My Condo or Mahjong Mobile......just sayin.....

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Fuck Is GDC Anyway?

As someone who claims to love the medium of video games I have no idea if I should be embarrassed by the above question or not.  Judging from what I've heard about GDC2015 though, probably not.

I know very little about GDC.  I know that it stands for Game Developers Conference and that it's some kind of big event.  Judging from the name I would guess its a time for game developers to get together, show off their latest shit and talk about the industry.  I've never once followed any of the GDC events and I still don't see a reason to.  I'm not lacking in any information about upcoming games and if anything huge did happen I'm sure it would be plastered everywhere for me to see anyway.

That said, I have friends who follow GDC and I have people on twitter who pay attention to the goings on and judging from what they've posted regarding the event it seems to have very little to do with video games.  Everything I've seen about GDC is about social justice issues (Read: Bullshit), online bullying and all sorts of other stupid non game related crap.  The biggest thing that seems to be flying around my twitter feed these days is that Tim Schafer, a fat hack who hasn't produced anything of quality since Psychonauts, made some kind of GamerGate joke with a sock puppet or some shit.

Seriously, a big conference about the games industry and the biggest news going around the web right now is about a fat man making shit jokes during a speech?!  Why the fuck should ANYONE give a shit about GDC if this is the case?  I've not heard ONE thing regarding video games but I'd sure as hell love it if someone clued me in as to what actual gaming related stuff went down at that event.

When I went to the Tokyo Game Show last year it was just wall to wall games.  Games on show, games to try and developers coming out to talk about their fucking games.  There was a little bit of cosplay going on in the back but most of it was game themed so I'll forgive that.  GDC on the other hand seemed to be about everything BUT fucking games.

Someone please explain the point of this shit to me, I'm actually completely stumped. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Geometry Dash

Geometry Dash is a game that came out on Steam a little while ago and as far as I understand it the thing is a port of a phone game.  That said, it is actually pretty good if not stupidly frustrating,

The idea of the game is very simple, the little block slides automatically across the level and you have to time your jumps in order to get to the end.  Sometimes you go through a ring and it will change into a little flying thing or take some other form where the game play might vary ever so slightly but all you're really doing is pressing A to not die.

That probably makes the game sound shit but trust me it's not.  The game sells and presents itself as a sort of rhythm game.  The idea is that it has a bunch of cool techno sounding songs and each level sort of matches the music so the more intense the track then the more intense the obstacles.  It's pretty fun and it's one of those games you can pick up, play for about 10 minutes and then put down again.

The game also features a level editor where you can put up your own stages and have other people download them.  Some of the stuff people make is actually pretty cool and given that the levels that come packaged with the game are sort of limited then this is a very welcome addition.

If the game sold itself as a platform game with a techno soundtrack I'd probably be a lot happier with it but when I bought it I was kind of expecting a rhythm game.  Despite the fact the obstacles loosely match up with what you're hearing the game is still very trail and error.  For example, I can go play Sound Voltex Booth and play a high level song I've never heard before and still manage because I'm good at the game.  With Geometry Dash you never know what the fucks coming until its already too late so you have to start the whole level over.

It's not a bad game by any stretch but it is VERY challenging so unless you're willing to burn a few hours learning the levels then don't bother.  Then again, for gaming masochists like me it's pretty damn good.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Stream Schedule!

I've been getting a little busy and it's been hard to just stream all willy nilly like I have been doing for the last couple of months so I think it's about time I set up some kind of semi solid schedule for streaming.

Here's the deal, I will be streaming on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays pretty much guaranteed from 10:30pm Japan time until whenever I get sleepy/have to get ready for work.  This isn't to say that streams on other days can't happen but they are not planned and will be a little bonus.

Don't forget to check out the right hand side of this page for a bunch of stream related donation incentives.  I would personally recommend the Mario64 and Megaman related ones, but that's just me

Anyway, sorry for the short post but thanks for the continued support.