Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Steam Region Locked Gifts?!!

So once again Steam manages to piss me off.  Now I know that this thing I'm about to get mad about probably has some kind of economic/business reason that I'm just too stupid to understand but that doesn't stop it from pissing me off any less!

So a few days ago I was streaming Silent Hill and one of my Stream regulars said that they wanted to donate to the charity.  However, he couldn't donate because BTMyDonate wouldn't take his card and he lives in Russia so getting money into the charity was proving to be quite a task for him.  So then he comes up with a great idea of gifting me a game from Steam and I put the money into the charity from my account equal to the value of the game.

So he gifts me the game on Steam and there's this big stupid fucking message on it says "This game can only be played in <bunch of countries in and around Russia>"  It then goes on to say that even if I accept the gift, I won't be able to play it unless I'm in one of the listed countries and if I try to get around this block with a VPN or some such crap then getting a ban from Steam would be quite possible.


What the fuck is the goddamn problem?  All I'm downloading is the data for the game, why does Steam have to limit access to a title based on your fucking country?!  This is the beauty of the internet, that it doesn't matter where I am in the world, I can download a file or share a file with someone else.  If I have photos on Facebook I want to show my friends, then they can see them, you don't see social media platforms going "NOPE! YOUR FRIEND LIVES IN JAPAN SO YOU CAN'T SEE THAT SHIT!"

Why is there any region locking on PC games AT ALL?!  Or any games at all in this day and age for that matter....

So the next day he comes in the stream and he's like "Yo! Why does my donation say £19?!" at which point I start to fucking panic because I thought I undercut the guy.  But no, turns out I went WAYYYY over what he paid.  So for me the game costs £19 but for him it's 450 rubles which is equal to £4.50.

OH, SO THERE IT FUCKING IS!  I guess the reason they region lock the gifts is so that people with Russian buddies like me can't just get round all the jacked up prices and get easy cheap shit, right?  Well that's still bullshit because why does it cost so much for me and so little for him?!  Why not bring the price down for us, or up for him?  Like is 450 rubles a ton of money or something?  I mean the way he was talking about it it's not that much so what the fuck?!

But whatever, let's just say I don't understand, but the way he got the game to me in the end was through Good Old Games

Now the game is a bit less there, it's more like £16 but for him it's STILL £4 fucking 50p.  But you know what? I can't even be mad at this change in price because GoG doesn't fucking region lock their gifts.  He gifted me the game and it went into my account just fine with no problems and then I used the Steam price listing for his donation.

All in all I'm not really that angry because I got a game, he payed next to nothing for it and £19 went to the Alzheimer's Society but I'm hoping that someone out there can explain this shit to me because right now it seems like top grade, pure gold bullshit.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Time Crisis 5

Holy crap this series is STILL going?!  I thought the genre of light gun based rail shooters had gone almost completely out of fashion with the exception of a few sit down cabinet games but guess I was fucking wrong.  Granted this appeared in my local arcade quite a while ago but I only just got around to playing it .

Just in case there is anyone stumbling on this blog who has never played or heard of this game, let me give you a quick primer.

Time Crisis is a long running series of rail shooters that has been going since 1995.  Most games in this genre usually just put you on a straight rail and had you fend of a bunch of enemies and not taking damage was based on knowing where they are coming from and picking and choosing the right targets.

Time Crisis was a little different in this regard because the machine (and the later console releases) used a pedal to duck in and out of cover.  That's right motherfuckers, before we had all this 3rd person Gears of War cover based shooting crap, it was done in the arcade with a pedal and a light gun.  However, in order to stop people cheesing out the game by just hiding behind cover and waiting for the opportune moment, each screen had a time limit (of 40 seconds if I remember correctly), meaning that you had to take a few risks if you wanted a chance to survive the timer.

It was an interesting title and the sequels only went on to build on the concept.

Time Crisis 2 and up were essentially the same game but what made them interesting was the multiplayer component.  Usually in these games 2 players would work together on one screen but in Time Crisis each player had their own screen.  This meant that each player was seeing each screen from a different angle and that they could help each other pick off enemies from the other screen.

So that's old school Time Crisis, so how's the new one?  Well it's OK and while it introduces some cool stuff it's kind of short and a little bullshit.

The big new thing with TC5 is a dual pedal system.  Up to now, every Time Crisis has had 1 pedal but this one has an L and R pedal.  All this means is that each character has 2 vantage points per screen from which they can shoot from but using the pedals effectively is paramount to winning some battles and boss fights.  There's also a couple of QTE's and a number of slow motion "shoot the targets" sequences that are used to award bonus points or to take a life off if you fuck up.  It also utilities the Aime/Banana Passport stat cards to track high scores and achievements if you're into that kind of thing.

The game pisses me off a little because it's too short and it cops out at the end with "ANOTHER CHAPTER COMING SOON!".  This wouldn't piss me off it was normal priced but the cost for entry into this thing is fucking 200 yen with 100 more to continue if you die!  Almost every game ever in a game centre is 100 yen per play but this huge fucking thing wants 200!?  There is less content here than most 100 yen rail shooters too so I don't know why the fuck the price is double what it should be.

Still, as much as that pisses me off it's nice to see that the old school stand up rail shooter games are clinging on for dear life in the modern age.  If you get the chance to try it then you absolutely should, but I can't imagine it seeing the light of day in the west because the cabinet is HUGE and the western coin-op scene sucks.

Please let me know if anyone finds one though, especially in the UK!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The TGS 2015 Roundup!

Well I'm back in Nagoya and I'm recovered from my post show drinking hangover so now I'm ready to share my thoughts on the Tokyo Game Show.  While I had a lot of fun at the show walking around and staring at all the shiny new games, I was a little disappointing and there isn't really all that much I came out feeling excited about.

So, let's gets started with the good stuff. 

The first thing we saw as we came into the entrance this time was the Playstation indie booth thing which contained a number of games made by different people from all sorts of backgrounds.  2 games of note that I got my hands on were Slashy Hero and Illan.

Slashy Hero is a dungeon crawling game for mobile platforms where you control a little dude during Halloween slicing up monsters for candy and collecting loot to progress.  It's free to play, fun to muck about with and the system of changing costume to modify stats reminded me of Costume Quest a little bit.  However, Costume Quest sucked a massive cock and Slashy Hero is actually pretty good.  It's available for free next month and I'd totally recommend checking it out.

A little later in the day I got my hands on Illan: Shades of Memories which was a really cool puzzle platformer for PC.  You control a cute little black thing called Illan and you must solve puzzles and do some light platforming to progress.  Really fun and kind of relaxing to play but taxed my brain just enough to avoid becoming boring, nice and chill.   Right now Illan is not available for purchase BUT if you are interested then it is available for voting on Steam Greenlight, so go hit that vote button and get this thing on the store.

After we left the indie booth we looked at the cosplayers for a while which was your same old attractive Japanese girls wearing either not much or incredibly elaborate costumes.  I snapped a few shots but right now my camera is inside my bag and I'm too lazy to get it out, so maybe I'll upload later.

Next we came across Star Wars Battlefront which looked absolutely INSANE

I don't really need to say much about this one since people are familiar with other games in the series and there's already a lot of excitement.  That said, this thing looks INSANELY fun and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  Tokyo Game Show are very uptight when it comes to taking pictures and videos on the show floor but I managed to get a minute or so of footage of the game play so I'm just going to let that do all the talking for me.

Moving on from there we saw the Sony booth which had a number of cool looking games including a new Star Ocean, some JRPG thing called Exist Archive, new content for Bloodborne, a collection of the Uncharted games and a whole host of VR stuff which unfortunately we couldn't get our hands on.  Other cool stuff included a new game play video for Persona 5 and a remake of a PS2 game I really enjoyed called Odin Sphere. 

The final thing to jump out of my mind was a title called Nioh

A game being developed by Koei Tecmo and what essentially looks like Asian Dark Souls which is not a bad thing.  I'd never heard of it before but apparently it was showcased back in 2005 and then vanished for some reason and now it's resurfaced at TGS which is cool.  Game looks really fun and is just another reason that I need to go out and buy a fucking PS4 already.

Now let's talk about the not so great stuff about the show.

Now I'm not the biggest fan of mobile gaming, I don't mind giving the occasional title a try and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised but there was SO MUCH fucking mobile at TGS this year.  You couldn't walk 5 fucking minutes along the show floor without seeing a booth that had a fucking iPad hooked up to it.

I can understand why companies may see mobile as a decent platform because almost everyone has phone so your game will reach a much wider audience.  However, you can't get a decent experience from a game on a mobile device.  Mobile is perfect for games like the aforementioned Slashy Hero because that's the kind of game I can muck about with on a train and then put away when I get to work.  But playing RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest or god forbid even trying to play FPS games on a mobile platform?  FUCK. THAT.

Call me a purist, call me a snob, that's fine but Tokyo Game Show was fucking drowning in mobile stuff and I couldn't help but feel like it was a bit of a shame.  Hell, one of the biggest games at show was a fucking social RPG from 2013

Now granted, since returning from the show I have downloaded and given Granblue Fantasy a go and it is one of those rare mobile games that is actually pretty decent.  Hell, it even has Nobuo Uematsu and Hideo Minaba of Final Fantasy fame behind it so I guess that has to say something about the amount of effort in it's production.  That said, the game is from fucking 2013, why is it so prominently displayed at a big games con 2 years later?!  It's not new, I go there to see new shit, not to wank over above average phone RPGs from 2 years ago...

Konami was also a fucking disgrace this year

When I arrived at the booth my eyes were greeted with a football (soccer) game, a baseball game and 4 girls (admittedly rather pretty) dancing around and lip syncing to some shitty Japanese J-Pop song.  We were so bored and disgusted that we left after a short time but upon googling something I remember seeing in the background of the dancing girls there WAS actually a game being talked about.

The game is called Tokyo Xanadu, being produced for the Vita and actually looks like it could be kind of fun.  However I wouldn't have fucking know that if I hadn't remembered the title that was hidden away behind 4 girls dancing about.  Fuck you Konami, you're a fucking mess.

The last thing that kind of ticked me off was the content for The Last Guardian

All they had was some fucking projection of the dog-eagle thing that you could stand in front of and it would kind of react to your movements and a short demo video of footage that we had seen months ago.  I'm excited for this game but what was on display at the show was disappointing.


So that's it folks, my thoughts on TGS 2015.  Not completely shitty but definitely not as good as it was last year.  Few things to be excited about and some cool indie games made it worth while.  Here's hoping that next years show will bring much more excitement. 

I'm not sure if I wrote about everything, I'm going mainly off the top of my head, if I remember anything extra I'll throw it up on twitter.

Friday, 18 September 2015

I'm going to TGS!

So tomorrow I'm going to get on a train to Tokyo and hit up Tokyo Game Show 2015!

It's in this space where I should be writing things that I'm excited for or things I'm going to try and get my hands on but to be honest I have NO FUCKING IDEA what's going to be displayed at this years show.

I've been far too busy with work, streaming, having my parents visit Japan and all sorts of other shit to do any kind of research, which kind of sucks but at least I'll be awestruck but everything they are displaying. 

Expect a roundup post/video about everything I've seen at the event, I'll be getting it up as soon as I get back to Nagoya! 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cooking With Tau Episode 1: Chips (Fries)

You wanna learn how to make healthy chips to go with your gaming sessions?!  Well watch the above video and find out!

The donation for the next episode will be made available on the side bar so get your donations in for the next recipe!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Too Much Moe Spoils The System

I like the Vita, a lot of people give it a lot of stick for having no games or for being a bit shitty in the west, which may be true, but it's a solid system with enough good titles to make it worth owning.

Now, I'm not against a bit of fan service in games quite the contrary.  I don't want to play deep cerebral experiences all the damn time, sometimes I just want to fire up a game and shoot stuff, fight people or ogle pretty girls.  These games need to exist because I don't want 100% of gaming to be all emotionally draining shit like Nier or Shadow of the Colossus or have crazy thought provoking narratives like Silent Hill, sometimes a guy just wants to unwind with something easy.

There does come a point though where it starts to feel like too much though.  Whenever I enter a game store in Japan I walk over to the Vita section and the only thing I can see from one side of the shelf to the other is fan service type moe games.  I can't help but feel it's getting to the point where it's too much for the same reason I don't as previously mentioned.  Sometimes I just want to unwind with something easy to understand and stimulating to a very base part of my brain but sometimes I want more than that and well, the Vita is disappointing me on that area.

Not to say that there aren't any deeper experiences to be had on the Vita but they are buried under piles of doe eyed anime girls not wearing much and casting insane magic spells.  I don't spend much time using PSN so I'm hoping that maybe there are some downloadable titles with a bit more depth to them but if you want to get physical like I like to do your collection might make you look a bit strange.

C'mon, I love my Vita but I want to be able to use it outside, as intended, without feeling like I'm being judged by every passer by in the street.  Hopefully my trip to TGS next week will show me some games that I can get really excited for and tell other people about without looking like a lonely otaku.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Pen and Paper

So I know this isn't strictly "video" games but pen and paper RPGs are awesome and I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about them since I started playing again recently.

My relationship with pen and paper games started in a weird way.  I enjoyed playing video games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights on the PC when I was younger but the idea of sitting around a table with a bunch of people role playing sounded really fucking stupid to me.  Unfortunately I was one of those people who would look at this people and think they were a bit sad and pathetic, playing with dice and pretending to be elves.

So, fast forward from my early teens to 2010 when I first came to Japan.  I got a text message from another exchange student asking me to come and play Dungeons and Dragons.  Well at the time I didn't really have fuck all else to do and if I remember right a lot of students had gone home at that point to visit family for the holiday, so I decided to join.  I go down to the room, roll up a character and start playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition (lol)

My opinion of role playing was IMMEDIATELY changed.  There was a degree of seriousness to the role play but everything was tongue in cheek.  Combat was also insanely fun and considering that we were using nothing more than bits of paper and coins it was pretty intense.  We had a really good group that were willing to mix a bit of humor into a serious plot and eventually we got to a point where we were playing every day because it was so damn fun.

I played a few more DnD sessions after this but it just wasn't as fun, the groups were too serious and there was no room to be even a little bit silly, I yearned for those days with my old group and despite us trying our best to do it online, time difference meant our schedules didn't really match up.

Recently though I started playing Pathfinder with a group of guys here in Japan.  FINALLY I've found another group that are willing to strike a balance between a semi serious and interesting plot with a bit of humor.  The dynamic we have reminds me of those old days during my first exchange year and I'm at that point again where I'm getting stupidly excited for the next session.  What's even funnier is that the DM has set the games story within the Discworld universe and I was introduced to this group just as I started uploading Discworld onto YouTube, it's almost like some weird fate.

So, if you have never tried a pen and paper game and you're the kind of person who thinks its too nerdy even for you, I'd implore you to give it a go.  Find a decent group of people who aren't overly stupid but also not "my robe and wizard hat" kind either and you'll have an absolute blast.  Get your dice, get some beers and have a grand old time.  The freedom that this kind of game allows is INSANE and it's almost impossible not to have a good time.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

10/10 Is Bullshit

Little disclaimer before I start this post that I've not played MGS5 yet and I'm actually super excited for it.  I'm not about to rag on MGS5 or any other game that has been awarded a 10 by any outlet but I'm ragging on the idea of giving a game, or anything for that matter, a "perfect" score.

So MGS5 came out recently to massive amounts of people singing its praises and a number of 10/10 scores from various gaming websites.  This is fine, because I know that MGS5 is going to be a really good game because Kojima is one of those few names you can trust to produce something of quality.  No matter what your opinion on the story might be, almost every Metal Gear game has been an absolute blast to play.  That said, giving it 10/10, or any game, seems like a bit much and feels like your trying to pander to the fandom rather than genuinely comment on the quality of the game.

I'm pretty sure I've said this in previous blog posts but as a concept numbered reviews are fantastically fucking stupid.  Trying to quantify a complex opinion on something down to a simple number is stupid and if you're the kind of person looking at nothing but the number to get a quick idea then you probably aren't making an informed purchase and you're likely to get burned.

The dreaded 10/10 is something that not really pisses me off but makes me roll my eyes in frustration.  10/10, to me, means that the game is perfect.  If a games writer (lol) gives a game a perfect score then they are making the claim that the game has absolutely no problems in any area.  This is bullshit because almost every game has something wrong with it in some way.  This isn't the fault of the developers, its just the nature of the beast when you have so much shit going on. 

Let's take a look at one game that I really love that got a few 10/10s

Do I agree that this game is fucking amazing?  Hell yeah I do, this is one of my favorite games on the PS2, but do I agree that it's perfect?  Fuck NO

SotC has its issues.  Getting lost in the over world can be a death sentence on your time the first time you play the game, some of the colossus feel a bit shit (that bull thing comes to mind) and scouring the map for lizards is one of the most painfully stupid things in any game ever.  However despite all that SotC delivers one of the most memorable experiences in all of gaming but it's still not perfect.

I suppose if you wanted to insist on shoving numbers on your review then at least split the numbers into categories and give the game a score out of 40 or 50 (which is what I think famitsu and a few other websites do).  I'd be less frustrated if you were to say something like "yeah, the story was perfect but the FPS dropped to 20 in high action and that kinda sucked" and then scored it appropriately.  You're still putting your opinion into a number which is dumb but it's less dumb than just having one big fat 10 at the bottom of the page.

Still, it's whatever, it's not like I pay attention to these scores anyway, it just feels like giving big AAA titles 10s is stupid pandering rather than good reviewing. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Dr Green

So this is a game I finished a month or two ago that I got off Steam for essentially no money and while I wasn't really expecting anything I was pleasantly surprised by this simple yet fun platformer.

So the game starts out and you are introduced to Dr Green, a kid who was abandoned in the forest and grew up with the critters.  Eventually some evil dudes come and try to tear his forest down in order to put up a parking lot (not literally) and it is up to you as Dr Green to fight them off and send their evil building projects packing.

The game itself is very simple, just move to the right, shoot the dudes and reach the end of the stage.  Once you get there fight a boss then rinse and repeat the process until the end of the game.  The game, which it admits to on the steam page, is clearly inspired by games like Megaman which is fine but the game doesn't really try to do anything new or unique.  You aren't going to be getting any kind of breath of fresh air here but what you are getting is a solid platformer with some pretty good level design and nice music.

Since the game is so simple and so solidly put together its really hard to find anything to complain about but there were a few little things that pissed me off.  The levels themselves, especially the later ones are actually quite challenging which was nice but every single boss the game has to offer is a complete easy mode pushover.  If you are any kind of good at mashing the fire button then the bosses will be even less challenging and it's a shame that each level ends on such a low note.  Also while I didn't run into many glitches there was one moment where I died during a boss phase transition and the game soft locked and I had to do the whole fucking stage over.  Nothing deal breaking but just a few annoyances.

The game was obviously designed for speed running as each stage has a timer and the game itself isn't particularly long.  Then again, it's insanely cheap at £2 and it is worth picking up if you're looking for something short, cheap and fun in order to kill a lazy weekend with.  Give it a go, if you like this kind of thing you won't be disappointed