Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcoming a New Year

I'm not the most optimistic person, but I'm going to attempt and go towards a positive outlook for next year. Because hey...it may be the last. XD

In all seriousness, there are some last minute things on the to-do list for any geek to help make the new year more enjoyable. And if you don't do them today, then at least do them tomorrow:

~ See Tron: Legacy. I'll post my review soon.
~ Suck it up and buy a Smartphone. They have begun to drop in price, with crazy reductions for holiday sales. Now is a great time to invest in one.
~ Play your Wii for at least an hour. Let it breathe some fresh air now before you put it back in it's box.
~ Got 33 minutes? Make your own lightsaber.
~ Pull that Mario costume out of your closet and run around the neighborhood for a few minutes. No one will mind.
~ Make your own list of gaming new year resolutions. Though I'm not in full agreement on Farmville.
~ Take a moment and laugh at the silly dialogue of The Old Republic.

That should take care of the rest of your day. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Live Free or Die Donkey Kong. Returns with a Vengeance.

At the rate that it has been going, the DK franchise seems to keep reinventing itself like Die Hard or Rocky. Or Madonna. But this is one that I approve of. Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii is a re-imagination of the original DKC for Super Nintendo. Released by Nintendo but developed by Retro Studios (Metroid Prime), it takes a lot of the good from DKC and gives it a nice facelift.

Positives:

It looks and feels just like the original DKC. If you are in my age group (24-30) you probably played DKC as a kid. So you know how huge DKC was. Back then, it was a breakout on the Super Nintendo. It was one of the first games to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. Today, it’d be a joke if you didn’t have that, but back then, this was huge. And on the Super Nintendo of all places! DKC Returns brings that same side-scrolling, 3D feeling back. The upgrade is the Kong can now interact with the foreground and background visa-vie barrels. Now the game doesn’t feel like a flat side-scrolling with pretty graphics.

The music is spot on. Very rarely I’ll boast about music in a game or movie unless it’s really good. DKC Returns will have you humming and whistling as you play. So many of the original soundtracks are back with, of course, upgrades. From the very first level, I knew the song and I couldn’t help but stop Donkey in his tracks and bop my head to the beat. Thank you for Retro Studios for keeping the classics a classic.

Using the Wii controllers, for once, isn’t a hassle. One of my issues with the Wii are the controllers. Unless you get the classic controller or plug in your gamecube one (assuming the game will allow you to use those), the standard Wii controllers can be finicky. Mario Kart Wii is a great example of this. If you’re not 100% on all of the time, Mario will drive off course in a flash. Retro Studios took that as a challenge to make a game to work with the Wii controllers. So much so that you can’t use anything BUT the Wii controllers on DKC Returns. The control scheme for DKC Returns makes sense. If you want to do the ground pound, move your hands up and down. If you want to do your barrel rolls, start running and use your Wii Remote to go for a spin. Motions and fluid and requires little effort to make things work.

Good platforming with some odd challenges. As the game progresses, it can become difficult, in a good way. It uses a similar progression system of challenge as DKC. The further you go, the harder it gets. If it becomes too hard, you do have the Super Kong mode to zip you through the end of the level. New challenges including grabbing onto walls and ceilings to surpass obstacles, dodge 3D objects in the background such as a giant octopus or large tidal waves, and the like. It’s a good progression on the challenges Donkey has had to overcome to get his bananas back.

Negatives:

No Underwater level. I’ll leave it at that.

You can’t play as Diddy in single player. To elaborate, Diddy Kong is there and you need Diddy to access hidden puzzle pieces, Kong letters, and what not. However, Diddy is an accessory. You can’t do the buddy swap like in DKC. He’s just there. And it’s lame. Now you CAN play Donkey and Diddy in two player mode, but again, they are restricted to first and second player with no switching.

Donkey’s jungle friends are no where to be seen. With the exception of the Rhino, everyone else is noticeably absent. Even the Kong family is missing a few members, such as Candy. Cranky Kong is still around to act as shop owner, but the rest are sadly MIA. They would have added more dynamics to the game if Retro took the time to add them in.

The Cranky Kong shop. As one of the features in the game, you can buy items such as extra life balloons, hidden level keys, and extra hearts using banana coins found strewn about the island. Aside from the balloons, everything has a one time use that you have to equip, and you can only equip one thing at a time. Bought that extra heart? Great. It’s only good once and you better hope you find enough coins in that level or you can’t get another. And don’t forget to equip them! This is one feature that I disliked. Mostly because I want to play just like DKC and not have to worry about equipping items. So by the time I was halfway through the game, I had a stockpile of hearts stored up because I kept forgetting to equip. I just want to play the game! If you’re going to give me an extra heart, tack it on to all of the levels.

Bottom line: It will make you feel like a kid again. Ignoring the no underwater levels, no Donkey/Diddy switch, and no jungle friends, this is one hell of a flashback that was worth the wait.

Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Things I Have Learned From Video Games

To make up for the absence in posting due to the holidays, I have made another list! I realize that this has been done before, but this is my personal list. There is no order to this. Just 10 things that I have learned in my life thanks to video games. From the simple to the insane.

(Katamari Damacy) If I were given a giant ball and asked to roll up the world, Europe and Africa would be good places to start because they have a lot of small countries. And if you are going to ask “Why not the U.S.?” then shame on you for not playing Katamari and not knowing basic geography. The U.S. is a country. The 50 states don’t make up countries, and Katamari understand that, so it’s a giant hunk of land as one piece that can’t be picked up until you can get Brazil and Canada. Starting with the smaller countries makes it easier to pick up the bigger ones. And of course, once you get Russia, you can go into outer space. So I guess that’s really 11 things I have learned from video games.

(Any space-themed game) Sometime in Earth’s future one of the following will happen: Earth will be taken over by aliens and colonize the planet with their race, Earth will be blasted back to the medieval era by aliens, or Earth will be on the verge of destruction by aliens.

(Any game featuring a woman who isn’t a mom) Less clothes = more armor. The strongest female character will be the one wearing the tightest and/or skimpiest outfit.

(Any MMORPG) If you look to an area that has a lot of people or shiny objects, you may find that time will slow down and your vision blurs. (Lag ftl)

(Final Fantasy) Sleep is essential to living. That’s why you can sleep at any time of day regardless of where you are in life or how critical the situation is. Like, about to go stab the most evil creature in the world. You can always take a moment to have a nap…at pre-designated towns of course.

(Metal Gear Solid) If you crouch behind a tiny box or stand in a semi-shaded corner, people walking by will never see you.

(Resident Evil) While we all may worry about the zombie apocalypse, the reality is if a virus-induced zombie bites you, you’re not going to turn into one. However, that doesn’t make them any less annoying. Don’t forget to double tap!

(Grand Theft Auto) Cars don’t require gas. “The man” just likes to keep us down and make us believe that we need gas to run our cars. Greedy bastards.

(Dragon Quest) Smashing pots is not only good fun, but you can pick up gold, herbs, and other random goodies. Sometimes horse manure and cow patties. I wish I were kidding about that one.

(Frogger and almost every Nintendo game) Water will always kill you. Avoid water at all costs.

Hope you have enjoyed and a happy holidays to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Hate 3D

Today was suppose to be a fun day. I'll be picking up my brother this afternoon to surprise my parents with his holiday return before he has to go back to work on Monday. And to kill some time before mom is home from work (we all rarely get holidays off together), we were going to go to the movies and see Tron. I have searched every movie theater in the area. Guess what time the first non-3D showing of the movie is. Go on. Guess. 3:45 in the afternoon. Seriously? You have to be kidding me. There aren't enough people out there that would choose the normal, non-3D version over the expensive, wallet-breaking 3D one? There's one theater here that is only having one daily showing of the non-3D at 7:45 pm. -_-

I hate 3D. Can we let the fad die out again and go back to our normal 2D viewing? Thanks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's the holidays!

Which means I'm being lazy. XD It'd help if news wasn't being lazy either. So I'm rehasing stuff.

How to play your Kinect in Japan!

Was the fuss over FFXIII worth it? I think it was.

Sony is pushing 3D down our throats.

Chrono Trigger reboot for mobile phones!!

Enjoy the holidays! I'll try to be more alive next week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Another Sunday

I don't know if it's me being lazy or lack of any decent gaming news, but this is a throw-away entry. I'll try to come up with something more...thoughtful next time.

In any case, here is a re-post of Kotaku's most recent Shop Contest. By far one of their best. Ripping on Neil Patrick Harris after his "performance?" at the Spike random celebrity party (aka the video game awards). Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Whatever Happen to Those 360 Faceplates?

I'm still amazed that it's been 5 years of the 360. Time sure does fly.

Recently OXM interviewed Albert Penello, marketing director at Microsoft, for a look back at 5 years of Xbox 360 Accessories. Including the faceplates. To put it simply, the idea didn't take off. Penello compared the faceplates to the cellphone plate fad back when the 360 was released. Everyone would change up their phone whenever they could. This was back before the IPhone and the Blackberries and when very few phones would take pictures, let alone video. Back when we had faceplates on our phones. Now I'm really starting to feel old. But because the 360 faceplates didn't take off, they died out pretty fast. Though several companies still market them for bonus items with pre-releases.

I personally think that the faceplates didn't work because a lot of them were crappy and didn't match the system. Why on earth would you get a bright red and pink flaming skull faceplate to go on your white or black system? Nothing matches! "But you can get the matching skin." And gunk up my system with horrible sticky tape? Pass. The only faceplate I have is the one from Final Fantasy XIII for pre-ordering the limited edition system. Guess what? It's not on my pretty black 360 because it doesn't match...It'd be nice if Microsoft made multiple casings with different designs so it's not limited to just the faceplate and stickers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mass Effect 2 on PS3 the "True" Vision

With Mass Effect 2 making the move from Xbox 360 to PS3 this January, of course BioWare is going to talk about how pretty and awesome the game is on the PS3. It's a no brainer. PS3 has better technology powering it's system. Duh.

"One of the first things you've going to see is improved graphics. We actually created the engine for Mass Effect 3 and used that to make Mass Effect 2 PS3. So we took the content, the story and all the other assets that made up Mass Effect 2 and put it into the Mass Effect 3 engine. And that's what we're actually delivering" says PS3 producer Jesse Houston.

While Mass Effect 1 will never be released on the PS3 (it was published by Microsoft after all), BioWare has created an interactive comic in ME2 that tells the story of the first title. Another aspect of concern is that you could merge ME1 with ME2 on the 360 to continue the story. Well guess what? That interactive comic will give you the same choices as if you were playing the original ME1 and will impact your game of ME2. Way to think BioWare. Way to think.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dreamcast Collection Is A Go...If you didn't know that already.

Back in November...
About a month ago, the geniuses at GameStop marketing and their web team put up a Dreamcast Collection on their website.Which they proceeded to take down about an hour later. Good job guys. I'm sure the people in Customer Service adored you all for the rest of the week after that move.

Well GameInformer has officially announced the collection (funny that it's the GameStop magazine). Sega's executive vp has compared the compilation to the Ultimate Genesis Collection that was released earlier this year. It'll be a disc chock full of Dreamcast favorites.

"The Dreamcast fans are very devoted. You see on eBay people are still buying the games and system. We actually have a Dreamcast collection coming out soon. We are looking to bring some of the old Dreamcast games to market digitally and packaged. The titles are still to be announced."

Crazy Taxi will probably not be one of those titles, as it's available on Xbox Live for download. But the collection will be made available for the PS3 and 360 systems. My guess is that it'll be Jet Set Radio, Echo, and Space Channel 5. Not to overlook Phantasy Star, but let's be honest. They won't put an RPG on a collection disc. We'll probably see Q*Bert over that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Can Stop Feaking Out About Uncharted 3 Now.

Good lord. Ever since Spike's VGA's, or whatever the hell they call themselves these days, people have been pissing all over themselves on the interwebs over Uncharted 3. You all do realize that it won't be out for at LEAST another year, right? But in a wonderful effort to rub it into everyone's faces that you're not famous enough to get to play a demo, here's Jimmy Fallon playing Uncharted 3:






Patience is a virtue. No reason to piddle all over yourselves.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vacation Over?

World of Warcraft Cataclysm,
after the patch that ends the world.
When you're sick in bed, it feels like it is.

But wow, a lot of news has went down since I've been gone. So let's start with what's going on today. WoW expansion pack. Blizzard has their numbers in. Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies within its first 24 hours of release. That's a lot. A lot a lot. The sales beat out the previous expansion, and all other WoW sales, Wrath of the Lich King at 2.8 million. Clearly WoW is still king of the Western MMO's.

Final Fantasy XIV subscribers have been given an unlimited trial period, for the time being, until the developers can work out the problems. An email was issued Friday, 12/10/10, to subscribers outlining changes in the developer lineup and what to expect. Most importantly? No fees until they clean up the mess. Not a bad trade off. It does, however, push back the PS3 release of the game until an undetermined date. And they have taken the Final Fantasy XI director (as the game has had a recent revival of activity) and moved him to XIV and removed Sage Sundi. It's an odd mess. But, for all of the crap we might give SE, at least they are being open and honest about screwing up and wanting to fix things. Good for them.

Playstation 3 owners will get a treat if they pick up the new Mortal Kombat game. Kratos! While not available in story mode, he seems like a good fit for the MK universe. Though granted, he's killed a few gods, so how they are going to dum down his power while keeping him cool is a challenge.

Media Molecule sent out another batch of LPB2 beta testing codes. However, the emails all contained the same code, which of course led to massive rage. MM is fixing the issue, but that's a big whoopsie. Someone forgot to merge the excel sheets with Outlook before sending out the emails. >.>

More Resident Evil 3DS pictures are out. And they are pretty. I don't know how they got this pretty. My little DS could never look this good. And if this is really the final outcome, I might need to cave in and upgrade.

Final Fantasy XIV
Because it wouldn't be a news roundup without a random story, a man stole several gaming systems from a hosptial on 12/10. Systems that were meant for cancer patients to play while they were recovering in the hospital. Theft at a store is one thing. But at a hospital? Are you really asking for a fastpast to hell? And the genius looked dead square in the camera while doing it. Hopefully the man will be caught. On the positive, EA and the Halo team have sent packages to the hospital to have those stolen items replaced. Which is nice and all that. But the cynical side of me is thinking that EA's PR team is loving every moment of this. Anything to make themselves look good!

Michael Washington is suing Rockstar claiming that his likeness was used in GTA San Andreas. Who is Michael Washington? He's known as Shagg from Cypress Hill. One of the other guys in the group. I can admit I didn't know who he was either. It really seems like he's grasping for attention. He's wanting 25% of the profit made by Rockstar and the publisher Take-Two, which is around the sum of $250 million. Good luck with that. Take-Two's response is a great summary of the situation:

"The Company believes the lawsuit is completely without merit and will vigorously defend itself in the matter."

Oh, and Spike's silly video game awards were on. If anyone cares. I was having more fun watching paint dry.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Today of All Days

So I woke up this morning to check my e-mail only to find out the Firefox has completely crapped out on me. I've spent the past 5 hours attempting to determine what was wrong because the only thing Mozilla can suggest is that I have a horrible virus on my computer. Which isn't the case after the multitude of scans I went through. What a fantastic day this has been. Submitted a report to Firefox which I won't be able to read until I'm back home. /sigh Great way to start out a day when you have to fly. *shudders* Anyone happen to have a link to a previous version of Firefox? I get the feeling that if I go to an older version it'll work totally fine. Not that I don't NEED my bookmarks or anything to pay bills. *rolls eyes* (Before anyone says anything, no I'm an artard and never did a bookmark backup through Firefox directly. However! I did make a copy of the bookmark file so that if Firefox works again I can easily restore everything).

Technology is an evil bastard sometimes. Anyway, I'll be MIA until the 13th so don't get too lonely. >.>

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

TSA Invading Your Kinect!

Thanks to Rooster Teeth and Mega 64 I will now never feel comfortable with getting a Kinect. >.>