Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Top 52: Grand Theft Auto III (#49)

This week's Top 52 features a game that caused many parents and politicans to freak out: Grand Theft Auto III. This game may have affected the growth of the rating system in video games but, it also offered (and popularized) a new way to present a game with a very open environment. Eventually, we may look at GTA III as one of the most influential video games of all time.

Title: Grand Theft Auto III
Consoles: PS2, PC, Xbox
Release Date: 10/22/01 (US)
Genres: Action
My Ranking: #49

The majority of great games I played before Grand Theft Auto III had a fantastic main quest. Either the story was fun, the music was engrossing or the multiplayer just rocked. However, the allure of GTA III was not at all because of its main storyline. I fell in love with this game because I was able to do almost anything I wanted in Liberty City, and for me, this game was the first of its kind.

By now, most of you know what kind of game Grand Theft Auto is. Within this series of games, you take control of some character who gets involved with the mafia, drug dealers, car thieves, etc. You go through a series of missions that have you shooting down rival gangs, stealing cars and doing other shady, but awesome tasks. For some players, doing these missions was the main enjoyment of the game but I won’t delve into this aspect of the gameplay, as my enjoyment lied elsewhere.

How many games can you just input a couple of buttons and have a tank just fall from the sky? This is why I loved Grand Theft Auto III. I don’t normally “cheat” in the games I played, but with GTA III, you almost had no choice not to. With just some seemingly random button pressing I could have a complete set of weapons, full health and armor, and of course, a tank. I could then ravage Liberty City as I please, running over police vehicles and using the tank’s gunner to blow up people that attempt to run away.

There was no point to this act. By killing hundreds of people and plenty of police officers, my police rating would rise up to max, which would prompt police helicopters, FBI agents and US tanks all coming after me. Eventually I would die, or input the code to instantly remove my police rating all together. Either way I ended up getting my daily dose of blowing stuff up and getting away with it.

If this were the only aspect of gameplay, the game would probably sell very well but be repetitive. However, the game simply just doesn’t stop there. While the story wasn't exactly riveting in Grand Theft Auto III, I enjoyed working for the different mob bosses and drug dealers, as the missions really challenged you to be a sharp shooter or a precise driver.

I cannot even fathom how difficult to game must have been to make. Rockstar made a completely full 3D environment with different gameplay engines that all worked fairly well. They had to use a fighting engine, a shooting engine and a driving engine all with a lush environment and tons of reactive characters throughout the city. There were gangs that would try and kill you if you crossed them too many times; there were policemen that would chase you if you ran over a pedestrian and there were just random drivers everywhere. To put it simply, this game created a very full environment for which you could explore in and, as a player, you could choose to play the main game, or ignore it altogether.

Grand Theft Auto did make it very easy to ignore the main storyline too with some neat pseudo side-quests like the jumping ramps. Ramps were strategically placed over big gaps and on top of buildings and you could just take any vehicle, drive over that ramp and see how far you would go and how cool you look during it. The game would even go into slow-motion so you can savor that beautiful crash into a building or on top of another person’s head. Then after you killed that person and watched your car blow up, you could take the money they dropped, grab another car and do it all over again.

Rockstar really did an excellent job of making sure that no part of this game was boring despite the openness of the setting. If you were just driving for one place to another, the player could listen to various radio stations that feature different types of music ranging from rock, rap, or even jazz. Heck, there was even an off-beat talk show station called Chatterbox which would feature some hilarious, laugh-out-loud conversations with some really dumb people. Here’s one great example when a host is talking to a nudist.

There was simply so much to do in Grand Theft Auto. The sheer amount of weapons added so much variety to the game and they never got old as a result. Rocket launchers, mini-uzis, Molotov cocktails and a baseball bat all had their own allure, causing me to enjoy alternate methods of destruction. There were also an intense amount of cars to choose from and steal, and stealing them was easy. Stop in front of car, press triangle to kick out the driver and take it. You like that sports car? Push the driver out and hop in it, it’s yours!

When Grand Theft Auto III came out, there was no other game like it, as least for me. There was a decent main story, a variety of gameplay options and a completely open world that really let the user decide what he or she wanted to do with their time. Nothing was forced yet everything was enjoyable. GTA III was really a new experience at the time it came out, and this game justifies why the GTA series is immensely popular today.

My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, PC, Xbox)
#48 --- Revealed on 08/05

Friday, July 25, 2008

BC Advanced Strategies: Speed Scrabble/Take Two

This week’s BC Advanced Strategy segment is related to a game you probably know very well: Scrabble. However, I won’t be talking about Scrabble this time around; I’ll be talking about a Scrabble variant I learned called Speed Scrabble which I have also heard called Take Two.

Here are the rules as I know them. The only equipment you need for this game is a set of Scrabble letters, the board is unnecessary. Each player starts with seven tiles, all face down. A player then announces “go” and the game begins. Each player then flips over their seven tiles and tries to arrange them so that they make a connected set of words, just like in Scrabble. The words must be connected and every letter must be used, for example, like this:


The first player to do this announces to the group “take two” and then every player, even if they are not done with their current amount of letters, must take two more tiles. Then, whichever player finishes connecting all their letters into words, that player announces “take two” and so on. You win by saying “take two” when not everyone can gain two more letters (i.e. two tiles remain among three players). If you have illegal words or didn’t use all your letters and you say “take two” then you lose, and that would be bad. This game works great with 4 players, and if you have a lot of people who are playing (six or more) change the “take two” to a “take one.”

Strangely enough, for a game that is so simple there is a good amount of strategy involved. Try this game out with your friends and family and use these strategies to gain an edge.

1. Keep it simple. I don’t have an insane vocabulary. Besides, most of the cool vocabulary words are too long for Scrabble. Sesquipedalian is one of them. Anyway, use the words you know. Remember, under the rules I showed above, the score doesn’t matter. Use the words that first come to your mind and everything should fall into place. In other variants of Speed Scrabble people count the points on their word tiles and subtract the ones they didn’t use.

2. Space out your vowels. Since most acceptable words require vowels, you’ll find yourself centering in your vowels. Words that have two vowels back-to-back might limit your options expanding outwards. You might get too cluttered trying to make two words with one letter. The bigger branches you have, the more chances you’ll have to make words fast. If you find yourself having too many vowels though, then you might have to cluster them.

3. Words you make are not set in stone. Just because you have one or two words set doesn’t mean you have to stick to those words. Sometimes the two letters you pick up will work better if you rearrange your whole set. That being said, if you can, stick with the words you already placed so that you don’t over think. If you find yourself bunching the letters again though, break-up your words and switch it up.

UPDATE (courtesy of Will):
3a. Mix your tiles up when stuck early on. If you're roughly 2/3 through the game or less, and your board looks like crap; there's tons of super short words, and it's hard to find spaces to play off of, just mix all of your tiles up. Then take like 30 seconds to find the longest word you can. Once you make that word, the board will be really open, and then proceed to place the rest of your tiles. This will make the rest of the game much easier, and if done correctly you can have enough time to catch up and win. Unless you're playing with me.... muahahahahaha.

4. Master the initial flip. It is possible to flip over all seven letters at the same time. This will save you about 3 seconds but I just think it looks really cool. If the letters are rectangular shaped, arrange them face down so all the letters’ long sides are touching each other. Then grip the edges hard and flip them all in one go. Viola! Now you have all seven letters face-up while other people are flipping them one at a time.

5. Try to use words that can have prefixes and suffixes. It’s real nice when you can place the word “deem” and then have that word turn into “redeemer” with two pickups. Don’t let this rule be a burning thought on your mind however. If you think of two words with your set of letters, try thinking if that word can be expanded if you get the right letters.

6. Know some of the strange two-letter words. By, go, and it are some words you should be able to come up with when you are trying to place an extra letter someplace. But here are some other two-letter words you should store in the back of your brain somewhere: Aa, Ar, Ef, Fe, Hm, Jo, Ki, Nu, Oi, Op, Qi, Ut, Xi and Za. These are some of the lesser known two-letter words that are completely legal. Yes, I know, some of them don’t work on Scrabulous. But I far as I know, this is the official two-letter word list.

7. Don’t forget to replace your blank letters. Blank letters are a godsend in Speed Scrabble since you have such freedom to move letters on your board. When you use a blank letter, try and remember what letter that is so that if you pick that letter up, you can immediately replace it and use your blank letter somewhere else.

8. Keep your cool. Sometimes, an opponent will just be on a roll, saying “take two” about every three seconds. Don’t get flustered when this happens, just take a look at the letters you get and try to incorporate them. If it’s a hard letter to use like Q or Z just put it to the side and deal with it a little bit later. Your brain can only handle so many tasks at one time.

I’m really not an expert at this game. Actually, I wouldn’t even call myself good at this game and I know there are some people out there with some pointers. Share them! However, I really like this game since it is simple to set-up and people get really into it. It’s also really funny to hear people freak-out when they are bombarded with letters. Try this pseudo-board game out sometime, it’s quick fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Speed Run Video: Megaman X & X2

This is quite possibly one of the craziest speed runs I have ever seen since this guy plays two games at once: MegaMan X and Megaman X2. This is a Tool-Assisted Speed Run which, in short, means that the person who performed the speed run used a program or a set of programs that helps him out. However, this really doesn't take away from the video's awesomeness. Simply put, this is just fantastic to watch.

I love showing this video to any of my friends who have played Megaman X or X2. The look on their faces is just priceless, since we thought we were good at this game.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Going to Wisconsin!

Just so everyone knows, I'm going on vacation this week and I'll be back on July 31st. I have some scheduled posts that will come out on certain days so there will be some content on the site even though I'm gone. If I have some free time and I have wi-fi at whatever hotel I'm at then I may post something quick on the side.

I will be back though, no worries.

Top 52: Roller Coaster Tycoon (#50)

It’s Tuesday, and that means there is another installment of my Top 52 favorite games. This week is one of my surprise picks, #50: Roller Coaster Tycoon for the PC.

Title: Roller Coaster Tycoon
Console: PC
Release Date: 03/31/99 (US)
Genres: Simulation, Strategy
My Ranking: #50

I never enjoyed simulation games. I thought The Sims was incredibly boring. I wouldn’t even call myself a roller coaster buff. Yet, Roller Coaster Tycoon is the best sim game I have ever played. I don’t like sim games; I’m not crazy about roller coasters, and I usually play games on consoles, not my PC. There is no reason why I should enjoy this game. But I did. And it was so addictive.

Roller Coaster Tycoon has a simple premise. Build an awesome amusement park. The player can build virtually anything you can think of that appears in a modern-day amusement park. You can build haunted houses, slides, go-karts, food stands, and of course, roller coasters. Upon building these various attractions, you can set prices for each ride and prices for entry to the park and over time you gain profit.

The game provides you with a variety of different maps that differ in size, type of terrain, weather, etc. In one map, the player attempts to build a successful park in a desert. Within that map, water rides are the keys to victory since it is so hot. In another map, the player is given a really small amusement park and the player has to decide if he or she can be successful in the small space with good planning and excellent rides, or to use resources to expand the building area. Depending on which decisions you make, the way a player builds their park can be completely different for another player’s park, and both might still be successful, which makes this game surprisingly dynamic.

However, where this game really shines is in the ability to create and customize your own roller coasters. You can build wooden roller coasters, stand-up steel roller coasters and many, many others. The customization interface is really easy to use but building a roller coaster that is fun and not too nauseating involves carefully balancing out speed with both lateral and vertical G’s, which the game factors in. With simple clicks, the user can make the tracks turn, loop, bend, brake, corkscrew, or even take a picture and sell those pictures for profit. You can even interweave your roller coasters to pass by other attractions, go underground, or coast along the water. The possibilities are endless; each roller coaster is unique when you make your own.

After you achieve a level’s goal (number of guests, value, rating, etc.) the game doesn’t just stop for that map. You can continue on, build more attractions and rake in more cash for that level without having to worry about any requirements. This is my favorite part of the game. Without having to worry about any responsibilities, you can mess with your guests. For example, my friend and I would make a roller coaster that goes as high as possible (even raise the land if the supports don’t go high enough), have it shoot down at the steepest possible incline, and then make a small incline that leads to… a brick wall. We would then set the roller coaster to wait for a full load of people, make it free, and advertise it like mad. Within less than a minute you have 24 passengers flying at 100 miles per hour right into a brick wall. It’s wonderful. Watch this video I found on Youtube to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Ah. Priceless.

For Roller Coaster Tycoon, the gameplay is so open that, as a player, you gain a sense of power over this entire environment. I guess this is a draw for sim games but, building a house or a city just never did it for me. It was too mundane. I find it much more satisfying to make a roller coaster that crowds of AI guests flock to, just to face their death via brick wall. Maybe I’m just evil by nature.

I used to play this game every time I went to my friend’s house back when I was in junior high school. Though this wasn’t a two-player game, we used to play this for hours on end, giving each other input on where rides and paths should be placed and how the roller coaster should turn next. There were so many decisions to be made that Roller Coaster Tycoon became a social experience.

Roller Coaster Tycoon felt like a complete game since we had so many choices and customization abilities. The game wasn’t too difficult once you figured out how to use the interface but having the difficulty of the goals not being too hard helped ease the player into the gameplay mechanics. For a game I should have had no business enjoying, this game captivated me and kept me playing for hours on end.

My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Revealed on 7/29

Monday, July 21, 2008

Did someone lose a shoe?

Am I weird for watching video game parodies on YouTube in my spare time? I love creative videos that use videogames as a muse and one of my favorite videos is the from the guys at Mega64. These guys bring video games to the forefront of their lives, right in reality. Watch the peoples' reaction (who have no idea what's going on) to this guy jumping in the green shoe from Super Mario Bros. 3.

Man, I really want to try this out someday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Burger Time!

Remember that Duke Nukem trailer I put up before? Remember how absolutely awful it was? Well, some people thought is was hysterical and made an excellent parody. My buddy Mangus found this on Destructoid.

I think this potential "game" has more promise than the Duke Nukem Trilogy. That's just my opinion.

Sonic + Swords = @#$%!

I am so glad that I am not a hardcore Sonic fan, because this would make me really upset.

I adore the Sonic games for the Genesis and I really enjoyed the two Sonic Adventure games for the Dreamcast. Sonic was awesome because it required you to think real fast and react quickly while blazing through some really cool looking levels. Maybe other people enjoy, excuse me, enjoyed Sonic for different reasons, but that was it for me.

I hold judgment on this game though because if the Sonic Team can somehow maintain the speed of Sonic and add swordplay, that would be amazing. I find it highly doubtful though. Or, if they announce that this is a Sonic RPG I'd be okay with that. I think Sonic in an RPG is a bad idea but hey, I guess it can't hurt. But if this is like some other recent Sonic games, I think I may cry a little.

Maybe this game isn't real though; maybe someone has awesome photoshop skills. I found this photo on Kotaku though, so my guess is that it's real.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

VG Advanced Strategies: Mega Man 3

As I said in my last post, I love the classic Mega Man games. With Mega Man 9 announced and demoed at E3, I wanted to share with you some of my strategies in this VG advanced strategies segment for an older Mega Man game: Mega man 3 for the NES.

I will only be showing strategies for the first 8 robot levels, as most of the strategies here, if looked at in a broader sense, will help you with future stages, Wily stages and even some other NES Mega Man games. I also won’t be giving a complete FAQ for each level, just a look at specific situations where thinking outside the box will save you some health and time. The strategies and screenshots are placed in the order I complete the bosses in. Many people disagree with this order, but I’ll explain why I think it works best. If you need to know the bosses’ weaknesses check out this awesome GameFaqs Boss Walkthrough.

Again, even if you haven't played this game before, take a look at the strategies; you never know, you might think this game looks cool and decide to give it a shot.

Snake Man:
I start with the snake man stage first since he is one of the easiest bosses to beat with just the arm cannon and it’s the quickest way to eventually get to Needle Man and get the awesome Rush Jet adaptor. Take a look at these tricky spots:

The right ladder leads to ? boxes which could give you extra lives, E tanks or health energy. Just jump on the middle platform and quickly jump to right ladder to get up there. Don’t worry about the enemy. That green guy can be annoying too, so just use the Rush coil to jump behind him to the ladder.

Those enemies are incredibly troublesome if you don’t know how to handle them. You can’t shoot at them when they run across the screen, nor can you jump over them as they will jump into you. The solution? Stand still. The broom-like thing will drop before you and the bad guy will jump over you and then chase you. Simply jump over him then and shoot him if you wish.

A lot of people have trouble with Snake Man. He is incredibly simple though if you figure out his pattern. I stand all the way on the left side until he gets to the middle platform. Next, I take one hit from him and then I just jump in the center. Now here’s the trick. The center of the level is your home. Whenever snake man is in the two lowest points of the level (directly adjacent to the center platform), jump over him. Snake man will then jump to the center and move to the other side of the level, at which point you just get back to the center. Snake Man always runs wall-to-wall; he won’t turn around unless he hits the borders. His attack involves ground-crawling snakes which are simple to jump over. Keep jumping and firing and he’ll go down eventually.

Gemini man:
The beginning and middle of Gemini Man’s stage is pretty simple, just avoid enemies and keep firing. Use the Rush Coil adapter if you get stuck and can’t jump out. The end of the stage though can give you headaches; just jump carefully.

Where Mega Man was standing was an extra life. You can get this and survive without the Rush Marine adaptor. Just use Rush Coil to get out.

Where Mega Man was standing was an E Tank. Don’t move too far to the right or else an enemy will spawn and likely hit you. Use the Rush Coil to get out again. Also, use the slide on the upper blue block and land safely on the block next to it to move on. Just keep moving in this section and don’t bother shooting anything. It’s a lot easier if you just worry about avoiding things.

No need to give a boss strategy here, you have its weakness if you followed my order.

Needle Man:
You get the Rush Jet after this stage. Yay! This will make the other stages sooo much easier.

This stage is pretty simple, but that rolling needle guy can be a pain if you’re going for the E-tank. Instead of jumping into that area and trying to use your arm cannon, shoot some snakes at him and they’ll crawl down the wall to kill him. No damage for you and an easy E-tank with Rush Coil.

Magnet Man:
Most people do Magnet Man first. With the Rush Jet in hand now though, this stage is a cakewalk.

Protoman thinks he’s so cool. He really isn’t. He only jumps and shoots in the air so don’t jump if he is facing towards you. Get close to him, slide under him and jump and shoot from behind him. When he gets to the other side of the screen, slide under him when he jumps and repeat.

Disappearing blocks! They are so evil. Don’t even bother with the blocks though. Bust out the Rush Jet and sail over all of them. You’ll have enough power to make it all the way across.

That enemy is placed very well. He can shoot horizontally and shoot pellets at an arc from the top of his head. Use whatever is left of your Rush Jet, fly along side the right wall and take him out. If you need to recharge your health, take the bottom ladder and fill up. Then use the above strategy again to take out the enemy again.

Magnet Man can be annoying since you don’t have Spark Man’s ability to help out. Magnet Man only has one annoying attack though, and that’s the one shown here. When he jumps to the top of the screen keep moving in one direction. You won’t get hit. Magnet Man will then drop from the sky and jump across the level with one small jump and one big jump. Shoot at will during this phase. He may also try to use his magnet to draw you in towards him; just slide away from him and he won’t hurt you.

Hard Man:
Hard Man himself is pretty easy to defeat with Magnet Man’s ability but his stage is relentless. Here are some tips to save you some health.

That queen bee will drop a honey comb releasing five smaller bees that acting like homing missiles. They will cause you a lot of stress. Simple way to get rid of them though is to de-spawn them so that they don’t even appear on screen. When you see the queen bee above, turn around and walk the other way. Her sprite will disappear and if you didn’t go too far to the left, she won’t appear again.

Those monkeys drive me insane. They will keep jumping on you if you pass under them. You could use the Rush Jet, but if possible, save that for later, you’ll need it. If you have quick fingers use the Gemini laser to hit the very tip of the ledge furthest to the right. The laser will bounce and hit the monkey. Do this a couple times and he’ll be dead. He won’t even try and come after you!

I use the Rush Coil here on this monkey if I ran out of the Gemini Laser. Just jump on Rush and fire a couple times. Enough jumps and the monkey will go away.

This is why I save the Rush Jet. Protoman is really hard in this section as the level is jagged. He still only jumps and fires but the different levels make the bullets hard to avoid. Avoid that problem by just flying over him to get behind him. Stay closer than I did in this picture though and jam the fire button; he’ll go down quickly. Don’t worry about taking some damage; there is some energy right after this mini-boss.

Top Man:
I love the music for this stage. Top Man’s stage is pretty straight forward, just be careful when jumping over pits of death.

You can hit this guy from the ladder; just get to the very bottom of it and fire away.

The Rush Jet makes this guy a joke. Fire at his mouth for an easy kill; the red balls won’t hit you. When he appears again later in the level, repeat this strategy.

Shadow Man:
I love the opening riff on this stage. Try playing it on the guitar; it’s almost impossible. Shadow Man’s stage is not difficult though, if you know what you’re doing.

Those hoppy frog things can be a real pain. Jump and fire quickly and you’ll hit them. If you miss, step back and try again.

If the parachute enemies hit you, you will likely fall off the level. Don’t let this happen! When reaching this section, jump off the platform towards the next platform but fall back to the one you jumped from while in mid-air. This will spawn the parachute enemy. Shoot them from far away and laugh at thier demise. You can also use the Rush Jet if you feel that’s easier.

Spark Man:
I love the design for this stage; everything is so flashy. Spark Man’s stage is tough but if you’re patient you can get through this stage with zero damage taken.

Those electric wall-crawlers piss me off. If you want to avoid taking damage only jump between them when they are moving towards you and when they just finished giving off a charge. When they are placed like the photo above, don’t be afraid to jump over the pits to avoid getting hit and wait for your opportunity to cross safely.

Those garbage blocks take a lot of shots to get rid of and by the time you finish off one, another one is likely to appear. Don’t bother trying to shoot them. Just keep running and jump over them. You won’t get hit.

Moveable platforms just propel you into spikes? How wonderful. Don’t even bother with these; Rush Jet is the way to go.

That covers all of the 8 robot monsters. If you’re having trouble on other stages and want my help, leave a comment! I should be able to give you some pointers. In general though, abuse the Rush Jet and use your other abilities. Enemy too high up? Use Rush Jet or Rush Coil. Enemy below you? Use the snakes. Also, keep in mind that the drop rate for recovery items increases when you use special weapon powers. If you’re low on health, use Needle Man’s ability, as that is most similar to the arm cannon. Hopefully you’ll get some power-ups this way.

I hope you enjoyed this week's VG Advanced Strategy. Every Saturday I will have a new game for this segment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Best Game of E3 2008: Mega Man 9

With E3 over, I took a step back and asked myself, what game am I most excited about right now? Immediately I must say that Mega Man 9 has stolen my gamer heart this year.

I am a HUGE fan of the Mega Man series; sometimes nothing gives me more glee than to play through the old NES Mega Man games. Upon seeing the trailer for Mega Man 9, I nearly jumped out of my seat. The levels look so blocky and so retro and so relentlessly difficult. Upon searching for more Mega Man 9 news, EVERY preview I see from people who got to play the demo say that they loved it. 1up, IGN, Destructoid, ShackNews; everyone is raving about this game. I can't even find a negative preview of Mega Man 9.

The only universal concern that these writers have is that younger players may not enjoy the retro style or how the game is geared towards hardcore players. Personally, I doubt this will be an issue. Tons of newer gamers have played games from the 1980’s and even though they are graphically inadequate, their sheer simplicity and ingenious level design makes them so much fun to play. Graphics don’t matter when you’re having fun. There are reasons why video game companies keep making “anniversary collections” or have services like the Wii Shop Channel; the games sell like hotcakes.

Various writers have also said that the difficulty is intense, even harder than the classic NES titles. This may be off-putting to some gamers but, if you read all of the writer’s previews, most of them feel compelled to continue on and try again. Mega Man games always had the insidious quality of looking simple but being insanely hard which, I think, keeps us playing.

The music in all of the Mega Man games are also some the best examples of MIDI being used to its full potential. The songs are composed extraordinarily well, give the game a unique style and are insanely catchy. The songs are always upbeat, usually with sick bass lines and they usually have very progressive melodies. The trailer music for Mega Man 9 sounds as though it retains those qualities, and there are some quick-ass riffs thrown in there. Personally, I love this song from Mega Man II: Dr. Wily Stage 1 & 2.

For sure, I am feeling a bit of nostalgia. That feeling takes nothing away from Mega Man 9 though, as the previews looks amazing and the trailer looks like the game is so much fun. I love difficult games and Mega Man 9 is sure to deliver in that department.

Capcom has been laying on the fan service with this game, finally listening to their fans’ cries. The Mega Man 9 box art is truly hysterical; just look at the artist’s old-school horrific rendering of Mega Man. The ray gun is priceless too, especially since he has a buster arm to fire with. Even funnier, there will be no box for the game as Mega Man 9 is being released via Wiiware, PSN and XBLA. Great stuff.

Mega Man 9 is dated for Japan in September on this year. The US release shouldn’t be too far off from that since usually the time discrepancy is because of translation and localization, and there isn’t much text in Mega Man 9. My friend Chris and I plan on trying to beat this game in one night together, though we may throw something from the insane difficulty. I couldn’t imagine a better feeling than that.

BC Advanced Strategies: Monopoly

This week’s BC Advanced Strategies section is on a classic that almost everyone knows, gamer or not: Monopoly. Click here if you don’t know/don’t remember the general rules of Monopoly.

Luck is a big determining factor in Monopoly but there are ways to increase your chances of success while bankrupting other players. Most of the tactics described here will require you be proactive and be able to really convince opponents that a trade will be profitable for them. Knowing basic probabilities will also help you decide when to buy and build on property. Here are just some tips to help you out next time you play this famous board game:

1. Seven is the most commonly rolled number. 16.67% of the time a seven will be rolled. The next closest numbers are 6 and 8, which each have a 13.89% chance of being rolled. If you have a Monopoly (all of the same color property) and you see an opponent 6, 7, or 8 spaces away, build up more houses on your property, you’ll probably see a big payoff on your adversary’s turn. Side note: It’s also a 16.67% chance that you will roll doubles of some sort.

2. Get a Monopoly, mortgage, and build. The minute you get a Monopoly, you need to build houses. Don’t have the money? Mortgage those other properties you don’t need. Maybe you have one Green property, one utility, and a bunch of other small payoff cards. Mortgage most of those off to get money and build up to at least three houses on each of your color’s property. The biggest jump in payoff is when you build three houses, so that is always your first goal. Be smart about what you mortgage though. If you have three or four railroads, you may want to keep those as you’ll get $100 or $200 respectively if someone lands on those spots. However, keep tip #1 in mind if someone is close to your Monopoly and you need the money to build up to enough houses.

3. Keep reserve money. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable. Some players get too ambitious when building houses, mortgaging all their un-Monopolized cards and spending all their money to get Hotels on three spots while leaving themselves with only $50 in cash. Remember that when trading down in houses you only get back half what you spent on those houses. If you build up to hotels and no one lands on them, you may have to strip down your hotels just to pay someone’s rent on Boardwalk. Keep $300-$350 in reserve just to be safe.

4. Jail sucks in beginning but rules in the end. At the beginning of the game, you want to gobble up as many properties as possible trying to gain Monopolies and trade bait. If you fall into jail early in the game, pay the $50 to escape and get back on the board. At the end of the game, many people will have houses and hotels on big properties and being stuck in jail will be a godsend. Under regular Monopoly rules, you can also trade and build while in jail, you just can’t move unless you get doubles, pay $50, or have been in jail for three turns. Also, if you get doubles while in jail, you’re supposed to move what you rolled, not re-roll without moving. If you play different though, more power to ya, house rules rock.

5. The most commonly landed on properties are the Orange ones. With two possible game cards (Chance and Community Chest) getting you into jail, a Go to Jail spot on the board, and possibly rolling three doubles and going to jail, you’ll likely end up in a jail at least a couple of times in any given game. When you roll out of jail, the most likely spot you’ll end up in is the Orange property. Hence, you really want to get your hands on these properties if you get a chance to do so and build four houses or hotels on them. Reds are very strong too, because if they miss the Oranges upon getting out of jail, they’ll probably land on the Reds in the first or second turn out of jail.

6. There are only 32 houses available. This is essential if you need to stop someone from building houses on big-time properties like the Oranges, Reds or Yellows. (I personally find that the Greens and Dark Blue take too long to get useful). If all 32 houses are built, no more houses can be built, simple as that. This is a great strategy to utilize if you have the “lesser” Monopolies of the Light Purples, Light Blues, and Dark Purples. If you have any combination of those two sets, you should build four houses on each of your respective colors and stop right there. With the Light Purples and Light Blues, you will have used 24 houses, leaving the bigger colors only 8 houses to deal with, effectively leaving them useless since they cannot build up to hotels.

7. Be nice. If you are mean when trying to make trades, people just won’t listen to you. A nicer person will probably get a better deal than a belligerent player. Being aggressive is one thing, but be nice to your opponents. Also, when making trades in general, try at let your opponent suggest ideas. When you let the opponent suggest things, often times you get deals that are better than what you might have offered. Instigate trades though, since that makes you look like your pushing the game along.

8. Intervene on bad trades and make counter-offers. This is where you need to think quickly and talk fast. Sometimes you’ll hear two other players trying to make a deal in which they both get Monopolies while you get nothing. Quickly intervene and show why that trade may be bad and stretch the truth if you need to. If possible, try sweetening the deal so that you get a Monopoly as well. If you see that someone is getting a bad deal, defend that player, explain why it’s bad, and they’ll be more likely to trade with you.

UPDATE: (courtesy of Mangus)
9. Use the Slumlord strategy. "You didn't talk about my favorite strat, Richard. Slumlord. The first 2 sets of properties can be DEBILITATING in the start. I always trade away good stuff to obtain the quick monopoly, and then you can just sap away the funds before anyone can retaliate. It works a LOT of the time. Think of it as a rush in a RTS."

Well, That’s all I have in terms of advanced strategy for Monopoly. If you have any situations you want to talk about, post it in a comment and maybe I can help you out. In addition, if you have other tips or disagree with my tips, tell me why! I always want to improve how I play as well.

I'll leave you one crazy fact I saw on the Wikipedia article I hyperlinked before.

"In 1978, retailer Neiman Marcus manufactured and sold an all-Chocolate edition of Monopoly through its "Christmas Wish Book" for that year. The entire set was edible, including the money, dice, hotels, properties, tokens and playing board. The set retailed for US$600."

That's just insane.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Empty Promises from Duke Nukem

I was just confused by this trailer.

So apparently Apogee is working on three portable Duke Nukem games for the DS and PSP, while we still hear absolutely nothing about Duke Nukem Forever, which should be coming out for these generation consoles. How can George Broussard (the supposed creator and director of previous Duke Nukem games), actually expect to come out with a trilogy of games when he can’t even put out one good one? Well, fear not, because George Brussard is not in charge anymore.

Acoording to a Shacknews.com article, "This week's revival of the Apogee Software brand represents a second Apogee Software--Apogee Software LLC--which is dedicated to mobile games. And while formed with the assistance of 3D Realms' Scott Miller and George Broussard, both are totally removed from any Apogee Software LLC-related management decisions. 'This is a true rebirth of the Apogee name,' commented Nagy."

Duke Nukem Forever has been in “development” since 1997 and we still do not have a set release date. So can we expect this trilogy (or maybe part of it) to come out in 2019? Seems like a good estimate to me unless Apogee starts moving the chains on the development cycle.

Don’t know about this discombobulated history of Duke Nukem Forever? Check out this awesome Wikipedia article to see how many times 3D realms changed gameplay engines, story ideas and the conflict they had with their publisher, Take-Two. I loved Duke Nukem 64 but, I can only wait so long.

I would love to tell you more about the Duke Nukem trilogy idea but just look at the trailer they put out at E3 (posted above). Apogee/3D Realms has given us nothing to go on and though they apparently have plans for what they are going to do, why should I bother talking about them? They will only get changed by the beginning of 2009.

Seriously, the developers of the Duke Nukem series needs to get their acts together; this is just beyond ridiculous; it’s redonkulous.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Fanboy Speaks Out

This video made me crack up. A PS3 fanboy just lost it when he heard that FFXIII is going to Xbox360. I'm astonished that there are people like this. They really give the gamer image a bad reputation. That being said, this is hysterical, especially since I'm a PS3 owner.

Disclaimer- This video has some questionable language; don't watch if you're easily offended.


UPDATE: This video is fake and completely staged. Aw, I hoped there was someone actually this stupid to record this and take it seriously.

Rock Band Instruments Will Work with New Guitar Hero

As a college student who doesn't have a ton of money (and space in my dorm), this news makes me eccstatic. According to Game Life, Activision announced at their E3 conference that your Rock Band 1 instruments will work with the new Guitar Hero: World Tour. Please note that this announcement was only made for the Xbox360 so, as a PS3 owner, I hope they will announce this for Sony as well. I see no reason why they would not do this, but hey, you never know, I've seen dumber video game decisions.

But wait, doesn't the new GH:WT instruments have five drum pads? Yes, the new drum pads from Activision has 5 inputs instead of Rock Band's 4. However, the game will accommodate the change by having the on-screen gameplay only have four colors.

However, there is incentive (though not much for my budget) to get the new drum set from Activision. Their drum set has a MIDI jack that will allow a user to use his or her own electronic drum kit, if you have one. You'll also be able to put in a second bass pedal and be able to use it in the game.

To even sweeten the pot, apprently Xbox came out with an auto-dowdloaded update for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith that allows the user to use a Rock Band guitar.

The consumer has won! Victory!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Top 52: Kirby's Adventure (#51)

It’s Tuesday, and that means you all get to see another installment of my Top 52 favorite games. This week is #51: Kirby’s Adventure for the NES.

Title: Kirby’s Adventure
Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: 05/01/93 (US)
Genre: Platformer
My Ranking: #51

I can’t remember how many times I played this game on my brother’s NES. Eight worlds of pure platforming madness with some of the coolest abilities imaginable at the time are really what made this game. Spark, Sword, Cutter, Laser, Beam, Parasol, Fireball, Mike, Crash and UFO are just some of the 26 abilities you can get as Kirby. The strategy and dynamics of the games completely change depending on what ability you have at the time, making your game a piece of cake or a nightmare (in dream land!). Oh, puns.

Kirby is a traditional platformer. Within each themed world, Kirby must clear every main stage (there are plenty of side-quests) in order to reach the boss at the end of the world. In order to gain abilities, Kirby has to eat different enemies and, depending on which enemy Kirby eats, he gets a different power (e.g. a fire-based enemy is likely to give Kirby the Fire ability). Kirby could then use the different abilities to destroy other enemies blocking his path to the end of the stage, or if he sees another ability he wants, the player can press Select to discard the ability and eat another enemy type. In this manner, the user has great control on choosing his or her style of play, making the game much more dynamic.

The graphics for this game were also outstanding for its time. The backgrounds were lush with color while strange and new character and enemy designs pleased the player’s eyes. King Dedede was conceived especially well. Kirby’s Adventure really pushed the NES hardware to its limits in terms of graphics and in the sheer amount of levels available to the user.

Kirby’s Adventure was not meant to beaten in a single go and it had save files, so there was no need to write down annoying passwords. Each world, with the exception of World 8, had five to six levels for the user to complete, most of which had a ton of secret doors that required Kirby to have the proper ability to pass. Kirby’s Adventure encouraged gamers to find these doors because if the door revealed more of the World Map, the player would get more mini-games and a higher completion percentage next to their save file.

As for the story, most NES games didn’t need a story to be entertaining; the gameplay is what keep you playing. Long story short however, Kirby realizes that he is not having any more dreams so he goes to the Fountain of Dreams to see what happened. When he arrives, he sees that the Star Rod is missing, and that the evil King Dedede has broken it into seven pieces. At the end of each world, Kirby collects the fragments of the Star Rod in order to restore it. However, upon restoring the Star Rod, a Nightmare appears. Apparently, King Dedede was trying to help the world by breaking the tainted Star Rod, keeping the Nightmare at bay. When the Nightmare appears, King Dedede launches Kirby into the sky where Kirby faces off against the Nightmare in order to save everyone’s dreams in Dream Land. Pretty neat, I think.

Kirby’s Adventure is purely a one-player game, but the adventure is very memorable. The level designs challenge the user to use Kirby’s abilities quite accurately and even though you can fly forever in the game, the game often puts things in your way that prohibit you from just flying over everything. The game is very balanced and very simple being that there are only two main buttons. However, it is by no means easy and it is nearly impossible to go through the entire game without dying once. The game is not insanely hard either. Try hard enough, react quickly, and any stage can be beaten.

Though I love this game, I could not rank this any higher than #51. I played this game often and it holds a special place in my heart. Kirby’s adventure was an outstanding platformer that set the bar high for the rest of the Kirby franchise. However, this game was really only a personal experience for me, and I believe the best games, even one-player games, transcend personal experiences and become shared experiences with other gamers. Since my friends at the time were not crazy about this game, I enjoyed this game mostly by myself. That being said, it’s still one of my favorites.

This title is also available on the Wii Virtual Console, so if you like 2D platformers and you have not played this game, you need to pick up this NES classic.

My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Revealed on 7/22

E3 2008: Sony keeps on Pushin'

Last but not least, Sony has the final conference of the big three. One last diary for their conference will conclude the Big three's showings. Look at the end of this entry for a short analysis and recap of all three as well. Enjoy!

E3 2008- Sony- Watching G4

2:28- Checking blogs for news is fairly uninteresting. Everybody is still reeling over FFXIII to Xbox360 and how mediocre the Nintendo press conference was.

2:30- G4 has a countdown to the press conference timer that just went to zero, and nothing happened. The Girlfriend (GF) screams profanities at the screen at a result. Now she begs for them to stop talking.

2:35- G4 is fishing for something to talk about now, just commenting on EA’s titles. Sony is late. GF remarks that it has been five minutes since the countdown ended.

2:36- Triangles, Circles, Squares and X’s fill the screen, Sony is up and they are showing quick fixes of tons of games both out and upcoming. Some PSP games also, but does anyone care?

2:40- Solid Snake, Kratos and… Sackboy? Nice.

2:42- GF drops a separated Oreo cookie. It lands cream-side down. Lolz. Oh, the conference? They are giving a history lesson.

2:44- IBM is using the Sony’s processor that appears in the PS3 as IBM’s supercomputer.

2:46- Ten minutes in, no new games being shown. All stuff from past year and hardware wanking.

2:47- GF concurs with my sentiments.

2:48- Resistance 2. Finally. I love their multiple TV screen set-up. Wow, I’ve never seen a bad guy that big in an FPS. These graphics are just so incredibly sharp. Makes the big building size undead thing look that much uglier. Okay, the big guy just threw the main character through a glass bridge.

2:53- Hm, Resistance 2 developer is the first to really give any story background for any game this E3. Did I just hear 8-player online co-op? That’s huge.

2:54- More Resistance 2 footage. The grandeur of the cities and the battleships is just outstanding.

2:56- Little Big Planet. I am super-excited about this one. Create your own levels and puzzles and have other people try and complete it online. The sackboy just cheered after putting on a Celtics jersey. How quaint.

2:59- Fantastic. They are going through the fiscal stats on a Little Big Planet level. Someone actually made the economic stuff enjoyable. The level design for Little Big Planet is very unique and so adorable. Looks as though Little Big Planet could end up being very challenging if you are good enough at making levels. Little Big Planet announced for October.

3:04- PS2 news. Quick highlights. NCAA Football 09. Tiger Woods PGA tour 2008. Star Force Unleashed. Warroirs orochi 2. Singstar pop 2. Yakuza 2. Madden XX Years. Mercenaries 2.

3:07- Buzz quiz game coming in September.

3:08- Lego Batman bundle with PS2 for $149. Nice to see that they still are putting out games for the PS2. 130 PS2 games announced.

3:09- Playstation Network. Your ID will have more info attached to it even on your PC coming this fall. Nothing about Playstation Home…yet.

3:11- Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty on PSN- More platforming elements, it looks like. New abilities that add puzzle elements. $14.99 too on PSN, very nice.

3:14- Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, Crash Commando, Fat Princess, Pixel Junk Monsters, Pain Amusement Park, Flower, Siren Blood Curse, Ragdoll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic.

3:17- Gran Turismo TV news on GT5: Prologue. Can download videos of different sports cars and races in HD. Sounds cool, not for me, but looks smooth. Sounds interesting if you like that stuff. Release Date on PSN: August 1.

3:20- Trophy news and Playstation Home news. Playstation Home footage. Looks like Second Life Avatars to me. Different game spaces for different games and you can jump on with people for games. Even GF admits that it looks cool.

3:23- TV episodes for $1.99. Movie rentals from $2.99 to $5.99. Movie purchases more expensive. Can move downloaded content to PSP. Disney, Sony, Fox, Lionsgate, Warner, MGM, just to name a few of the video partners. Can look at previews of movies you may want to purchase via the Playstation Store. Can download to PSP via PSN on your PC as well. That’s a lot of P’s. All of this available tonight. Sick. New titles added each week.

3:31- PSP news. New entertainment pack (bundle). Ratchet and clank limited edition.

3:33- New Resistance game for PSP. Resistance Retribution. I’m still impressed by how smooth PSP graphics are.

3:35- PSP news. Quick footage again. Star Wars the force unleashed, Madden 09, Loco Roco 2, NBA 09: The Inside, Super Stardust Portable, Lego Batman the video game, Patapon 2, Buzz! Master Quiz, Valkyria Chronicles.

3:39- Back to PS3. You can move game videos you make to YouTube. I didn’t know this.

3:41- Sony Online games. DC universe online. Jim Lee speaks. He was the first to get some cool sword in Everquest on his server. Lolz.

3:44- DC online footage. Looks like a standard MMORPG, but with all the DC characters. I hold judgment on this one; I need more information.

3:47- 80 GB PS3 announced for same price as 40GB. $399.99.

3:49- Call of Duty: World at War, Madden ’09, Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, Prince of Persia. Developers rave about hardware capability, and storage capability. Tons of untapped potential on PS3.

3:53- Highlights of tons of PS3 games, mostly exclusives. Little Big Planet. Motor Storm, Pacific Rift, MGS4, Quantum of Solace, SOCOM: Confrontation, Ghostbusters, Soul Caliber IV, Resistance 2, The Agency, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, Mirrors Edge, RE5, SingStar, GH: WT, NBA ’09 The Inside, Buzz Quiz TV, Killzone 2 (surprising that their wasn’t more on this game).

3:56- God of War III trailer. Super short trailer but looks very sharp.

3:58- Infamous. Awesome comic style art integrated with high-def graphics. Open-ended action-adventure. Glad to see new title without a number at the end of it.

4:00- “This is a workout even for the PS3 architecture.” What could this be? A SOCOM Massive Action Game (MAG). 256 player battlefield. WTF!?! Squads of 8 led by players who have proven themselves. Character Growth and on-going campaigns.

4:02- MAG. Holy crap, a huge multiplayer shooter/strategy game of epic proportions. I have no words; I’ve never seen something like this before on a console.

Sony did what they absolutely needed to do with this press conference. They showed a ton of games that they have right now and that will be coming out. Yes, they lost FFXIII as an exclusive but, they honestly have some other great exclusives in Resistance 2, DC Universe Online, Infamous, Little Big Planet, God of War III and this new SOCOM MAG game. Let’s also not forget about Metal Gear Solid 4. What I’m most happy about is that Sony is taking chances; they aren’t just having all of their games being sequels. They have future installments in their franchises but keeping it fresh with Little Big Planet and Infamous. Despite the FFXIII hit, Sony will be fine. In my opinion, they played this E3 correctly.

So who “won” E3? Everybody will say Microsoft because they clearly had the biggest story: FFXIII. And those people are right; FFXIII is the biggest story as they steal it away from Sony. However, with the exception of some third-party games like Infinite Undiscovery, all of Microsoft’s exciting games are just continuations in their series. Yes, Gears of War 2 will rock, no doubt. However, as a gamer, I appreciate franchises but, you have to balance it out with taking some big chances. “You’re in the movies” isn’t going to cut it in my opinion.

Sony didn’t really “win” E3 either. I needed to see more of God of War III and I saw virtually nothing on Killzone 2, another supposedly big exclusive. Sony was clearly the most balanced of the consoles doing the best job of showing the most varied games from Little Big Planet to Ratchet and Clank, to Resistance 2. Sony also showed a wide array of products for the PS3 hardware, PSP and surprisingly, the PS2. Sony did the most with their time on stage. Just look at the names in this blog entry dialogue. They clearly showed the most titles.

One thing is for certain though. Nintendo did not “win” E3, by any means. The “hardcore” gamer was left unsatisfied, as most of the games were casual. This isn’t bad per say, but we all wanted to hear about Kid Icarus Wii or some big announcement about a famous Nintendo series. Shaun White Snowboarding looks awesome, Wii Sports Resorts coupled with the Wii Motion Plus should be great too, but nothing made me go crazy.

Final judgment? Nintendo finished in dead last. Sony and Microsoft is a push. Microsoft has the big announcement but Sony showed me more overall. Every major company is sitting pretty though, as they all have their core audiences and excellent exclusives. It’s a good time to be a gamer.

E3 2008: Nintendo Underwhelms

Again, I will be sharing my response to the conference, via diary style. Enjoy!

E3 2008- Nintendo- Watching G4

11:54- Yawn, just woke up and put on G4. Man, I never watch this channel that much, except for Ninja Warrior marathons. Oh look, more Fallout 3 demos. Apparently, they are showing pretty much exactly what they showed yesterday. Pretty explosions. I yawn again.

11:58- Time to check the blogs before Nintendo comes up. Wow, nothing really to report, nothing big. FFXIII Versus apparently not coming to Xbox360; my guess is that will change.

12:01- G4 guys says that the Xbox Live new look was a big deal. I think he got money from Microsoft to say that. FFXIII is the big deal; that’s it. Everything else was either a copy from Nintendo’s interface (Avatars), or previously announced games.

12:02- Nintendo is a super villain, according to G4? Ya, Mario is really menacing.

12:04- Speculation on a new Punch-Out game? That would be sick using the new 3D motion sensor peripheral- Wii Motion Plus.

12:05- Ah, G4 mentions Wii music. Admittedly, I forgot about that; but it looked awesome.

12:06- Nintendo is up. I’ve heard nothing big from them the past couple days. This means either two things. One, they have nothing big. Or two, they have something huge to drop…well that is kinda obvious isn’t it? I’m so insightful, I know.

12:07- Wow, there are a bunch of empty seats.

12:09- Some Nintendo girl who works under Reggie (didn’t catch her name) is making a joke about being a mother and snowboarding. Wii snowboarding hint using the balance board possibly?

12:10- Holy crap, that’s Shaun White, using the balance board and a Wiimote. Neat. Lolz, he fell. White says it’s really accurate, and helped with the development. Shaun White Snowboarding for the Wii.

12:12- I always like how Nintendo is so chill showing their games. See, when Microsoft tried to do this it looked forced.

12:13- Huh, this snowboarding game actually looks like fun.

12:14- Iwata makes an appearance. He’s really been President for 5 years? Crazy.

12:16- New paradigm for games. One: games would normally not sell for three years. Two: Graphics aren’t everything. Three: User base has expanded. Games aren’t just gifts. Europe: 200,000 DS per week sold. 700,000 Wii’s sold in three month spans.

12:20- Games to bring non-gamers and gamers together. Wii sports and Mario Kart Wii were examples of that coming together.

12:22- Engaged, enriched, enthused are the goals of Nintendo. Can we see some games now? I get the paradigm shift, which is only half-true, I believe. It’s hard to convince “hardcores” that graphics don’t really matter.

12:24- Animal Crossing City Folk. No required goals. Even when not playing, game goes on. Woah, a new city element. Can alter yourself to look like your Mii. Can send messages to Wii message board on other Wiis. Wii Speak? It’s a microphone placed on top of the Sensor Bar. Can visit other towns. Neat, looks good but more of the same for Animal Crossing, except for the City part. End of this year release date.

12:28- Reggie appears! 20 million DS sold in US. 10 million Wiis sold in US. Ha, he admits that the market stuff will be short. More wanking for Nintendo. Everyone has to do this I guess.

12:33- Alright, I get it; Nintendo makes a lot of money. Games please? On a side note, the girlfriend (GF) has awakened. She was surprised that Nintendogs is so popular.

12:37- Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The GF likes the Yoda. WiiMote light sabers, who didn’t see this coming eventually?

12:38- Rayman Raving Rabbits. I swear; this game is on crack. Uses the balance board though, cool.

12:39- Call of Duty: World at War. GF’s response? Munching on cereal. I hate Corn Pops. Call of Duty: World at War used with Wii Zapper, okay, kind of neat, not gonna buy it though.

12:40- Female gamers becoming more apparent. Mmm.k. Don’t care.

12:41- GH: On Tour. Can share songs with other DS’es. Not interested.

12:42- Spore Creatures. Focusing more on the creature creation than PC version. Can share creatures with other DS’es. Too short; I need more for Spore. I am really anticpating this game.

12:43- New Pokemon Ranger game. Release Date: Nov. 10.

12:44- GTA: Chinatown Wars coming to DS. I can’t hold back the laughter. No trailer either. Sorry, this up-tempo host girl saying Chinatown Wars is priceless.

12:45- DS and air travel? Testing DSes to become what looks to be like GPS systems. Can use the DS in Safeco Field to check box scores, do trivia with only people in the stadium, or to order food. DS software as electronic cookbook in November. GF says she’s worried that the DS will get covered in turkey juice.

12:47- Wii MotionPlus. More sensitive and measures shift in your arm.

12:48- Wii Sports Resort. Free Motion Plus coupled with game. Wow, it looks precise.

12:50- Wii dog disc throw looks casual but really really cute.

12:51- “You really like that throttle Reggie.” Lolz. Wii Sports Resort puts Reggie on a jet ski. Neat, but more casual fluff.

12:52- Accurate Wii sword fighting in the new Wii Sports. Now this has potential for some crazy sword-fighting games. Developers must have their mouths watering. Wii Sports Resort coming in Spring 2009.

12:55- Guy playing on Drum Set (wiimote + balance board), it’s pretty accurate too. Oh, here comes Miyamoto playing the sax with a remote. Bass and keyboard fall in, guy still playing drums also. Very jazzy, crazily accurate. Actually an awesome song.

12:58- GF says Miyamoto is cute. He is.

12:58- Wii Music available this holiday. You just need to move your body and the Wii will match the song for you. Hm, sounds kinda limiting, especially as a musician myself. 50 different instruments? Damn. Lots of percussion as well. Drummer's name was Robbie Drums. Creative.

1:03- Orchestra and note-matching games included in Wii Music. The game will record videos of your performance. Can record separate tracks and make a music video.

1:05- They are playing Wii Music together. Miyamoto gets the cowbell. Sounds pretty disjointed but looks fun and silly. GF says there’s a little too much cowbell. I say there is never enough cowbell. Miyamoto is rockin that thing though.

1:10- Reggie jabs that other companies are not innovative enough for the paradigm shift in gaming. Meh, pretty standard E3 showing. Again crazy potential with another new peripheral, the Wii Motion Plus. This has been the problem with Nintendo recently, a lot of untapped potential.

1:14- Back to G4 lame coverage. That’s all for Nintendo.

1:25- Reggie’s avoiding all the questions that appeal to core gamers in a G4 interview. His response for appealing to core gamers was Animal Crossing. Oof, that’s hurts. He does hint that Zelda and Mario aren’t done for the Wii. Wii motion plus for Zelda? “Just Speculation.” Kid Icarus Wii? “We didn’t announce that.”

Wow, Nintendo really dropped the ball with this press conference. There was a litany of great games listed in the press conference but nothing big that would blow your mind like FFXIII did for Microsoft. I will buy Wii Sports Resort, Wii Music, Animal Crossing Wii, and maybe the Shaun White Snowboarding game but none of those are blockbuster titles. Even just a teaser for Kid Icarus Wii would have been nice. Or more Megaman 9 footage. Or just something to make me jump out of my seat. Again, Nintendo has a ton of potential with the new Wii Motion Plus, but why would developers bother making big games when the causal stuff sells just as well and has less developing costs? Nintendo, I am disappointed, and I am a big Nintendo fan.

Monday, July 14, 2008

E3 2008: Microsoft Strikes First

I will be keeping a diary of the three major E3 2008 press conferences- Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Inspired by Bill Simmons’ NBA Draft Diary, the Sports Guy on ESPN, I will be sharing my minute-by-minute thoughts. Since I’m writing fast, a lot of the sentences will be fragments; excuse my grammar but, this way you get the most important information really fast.

E3 2008 Diary- Microsoft Press Conference- Watching G4 coverage.

1:09- Oops, I missed the first 9 minutes. This is good though, means I hear less from the G4 crew.

1:10- Adam (the guy in the purple shirt) looks like he’s having a seizure. Can he sit still? Wow, I haven’t since this discombobulated reporting in a long time. I hate G4.

1:14- Microsoft Press Conference coming at 1:30 Eastern Time. Microsoft has a lot to prove since most of the known games are sequels. Need something new, not a motion sensor controller.

1:17- Mulitplayer for Gears of War 2. Stopping power new element for Gears. Can’t just run up to people anymore or else you’ll get stopped by bullets. More cover-based gameplay. Meat shields are like a “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t know corpses like playing Monopoly. Are there on-going Monopoly games in Hell?

1:20- Second time I see a bunny getting coins as a commercial for Gamestop. I am a little frightened.

1:24-I hate these announcers. They interrupt each other and obviously not prepared. Very unprofessional. Thank goodness for so many commercial breaks.

1:26- Ah! Coin bunny again!

1:27- Kotaku.com writes: “Portal: Still Alive? The game is hitting Xbox LIVE Arcade in 2008. It will feature single player and "a new challenge mode.” Looks like I’ll be spending time at my friend’s house who has an Xbox360.

1:29- Microsoft press conference getting underway. Can these G4 people stop talking? My ears are beginning to bleed. Adam makes a good point. Xbox needs new franchises.

1:31- Don Matterick-Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business speaks.

1:32- Loyal fans and for everyone. Brand new experience? All of the games he is talking about have a number at the end of them. Yeah I’m excited about Gears 2, but I need more too.

1:34- Black & White trailer. 1950’s home. “Prepare for the future with Vault-Tec.” Panoramic view of bombed area. Obviously we’re looking at Fallout 3.

1:36- Live demo of Fallout 3. Please reconnect controller. Lolz. Takes place in 2277, in Washington DC. Neat. Sharp graphics for Fallout 3. Good menu interface on the main characters wristwatch. Different styles of gameplay, stealthy, combat or persuasive.

1:42- Resident Evil 5. Straight to the demo, very good. Ah, I love the camera change they first installed in RE4. Not a fan of RE myself. But the online co-op mode in RE5is… wow. One sniping with the other using machine gun. I love co-op play and this looks like they really work well together. Chainsaw guy looks menacing. March 13 2009, US release. Hm, I don’t even like RE and I’m impressed. Again, looks like more of the same.

1:48- Fable 2. “Fable 2 is finished.” Um, then why isn’t it out yet? Beautiful landscape views, snowy town. Start as a little kid, grow into hero. Dog is an AI agent. Co-op over Live!? Sick. Orbs signify that people are playing one-player mode, and if you see them you can invite them into your campaign. No annoying lobbies. Efficient, nice. Your world and character are unique depending what you do. More non-didactic gameplay. Fully unique world. Very impressive. October release date.

1:53-Gears of War 2. Gameplay looks like carbon copy of last engine. Not that this is a bad thing. Quickly using the new meat shield element. Awesome new enemy designs. Moveable shield covers. Flamethrower bad guys? Killa sweet. Enemies much smarter too, they roll and dodge well. Chainsaw kills always rule. Excellent elevator sequence in burning building. I am really impressed by the gameplay. Fast-action, fast paced, very smooth .New horde mode announced that has 5 players with increasing waves of progressively harder enemies. Nov.7 release date.

2:02- Don Matterick again. Xbox360 is the biggest form of entertainment? Pompous much? Estimated $48 billion spending of video games. More than box office and DVD movies.

2:06-Tons of wanking about things Xbox Live already has. I congratulate you for making money Microsoft.

2:07- NBC partners up with XboxLive. Do I care? No. I’m a gamer.

2:09- More Live stuff. New interface upon putting on your Xbox. New avatars. Looks like Wii a little bit?

2:13- Oh fantastic. A random local commercial break midway through the presentation.

2:16- Multiplayer online game show? Cool or gimmicky? I can’t tell.

2:19- New geometry wars 2 coming next month. Looks like more of the same. Still probably loads of fun.

2:20- Cool! New Galaga. SHUMPs rule.

2:20- Portal still alive….and that’s it? Thank you for telling me about new levels and showing me NOTHING.

2:21- South park game? k….

2:22- I’m bored now. Less games and more movies. Great. Wait you can view Netflix on Xbox? Ho hum, my PC can do that too. Ah, you can share your movies in party though. Interesting.

2:26- New exclusive Banjo-Kazooie. I hope Rare doesn’t blow this one like DK64.

2:27- Viva Pinata- Get cards and scan them onto your Xbox game. Sounds like a money-making scam.

2:29-Scene it Box office Smash. Um… don’t care?

2:31- You’re in the movies. Don is running in clown pants. Looks… not fun? Oh look, they're slapping at wasps now. Sorry, I like innovation but this looks lame. The announcer voice is driving me insane too. Even the people playing the game look awkward. Ah, so the silly motions you make turn into a movie? Even the audience gives fake applause.

2:37- Music games. Here we go, Guitar Hero: World Tour. There’s the Drum Set, looks good, looks expensive. Metallica is releasing their whole new album on GHIII and GH:WT to download. That’s sick and smart, especially for Metallica. Wait, Metallica still makes albums? Aren’t they 60 years old by now?

2:42- Lips. Looks like you can take your Ipod music and make it into Karaoke style. Motion sensitive mics. Now this looks promising, but I really can’t imagine anyone spending more money on video game controllers. Neat musical performance. Did Duffy (whoever that is) mess up her own lyrics? Yes. Yes she did. Looks promising though.

2:49- Rock Band 2- Huge Set list. Something GH didn’t show. Rock Band gets Guns and Roses, Bob Dylan and ACDC (Let there be Rock!?). 84 tracks. Damn. Forward compatibility for tracks to Rock Band 2 from original Rock Band. 500 songs by Holiday ’08. Rock Band clearly had the better showing today over GH.

2:54 SquareEnix speaks. Infinite Undiscovery, Xbox 360 Exclusive. Sept. 2, release date. Star Ocean in Spring 2009. The Last Remnant, this holiday 11.20.2008.

2:57- Last Remnant footage. What, that was it? Graphics look pretty but I have no idea what kind of RPG this is. Man, this press conference is really underwhelming.

3:00- SquareEnix with a surprise? Text too small but looks pretty from far away… oh man, OH MAN, Sony will be pissed. That looks like Final Fantasy XIII. Yep, yep it is. Now that is big. Final Fantasy XIII to be released on Xbox360.

Well, aside from the FFXIII blockbuster announcement, this E3 press conference was pretty standard. The games look great as expected, the casual game look awful. No interesting new franchises were announced, and the sequels to previous games look like more of the same. In addition, the rumor of a new motion-sensor controller was left unaddressed. The FFXIII announcement now puts the PS3 under-fire though as that was one of their MAIN exclusives. Sony used to be the RPG leader, and Xbox360 just snatched that from them, right under their feet. I await Sony’s response tomorrow.

And who knows what bomb Nintendo may drop? It’s gonna be great tomorrow.

Who's that Pokemon!?

This is one of the many reasons why I like Kotaku. This video made me burst out with laughter, so I just had to post it on my blog as well. Who didn't like love the first season of Pokemon?

Upon looking at related videos, this one made me bust a gut. It starts off really funny and gets kinda repetitive but, 5:21 of the video makes it all worth it.

After seeing that video I was reminded of this Newgrounds classic. Splash Attack! Best moment is at 2:43. You'll see why once you hit it. If you don't laugh then something must be wrong with you.

Ah, Pokemon. How I love thee.