Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You asked for it.

What kind of sick bastard do they have working at GameFly? I will not believe that the games they send out are based only on what is available on your queue in order from top to bottom. Trinity (which I am enjoying more than I should) shipped at the same time as Gothic 4. Surprise, here is at least eighty hours of game play! Today those jerks shipped me Two Worlds 2. These are all games that I want to play, just not in a row. I did buy Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime, but that will take a day or two to blow through. Add to that the new Mortal Kombat coming out in a month and I don't know what I am going to do. Time to see if 5 Hour Energy drink actually does what it says, I suppose.

My 'games never kill important characters because the write have no balls and the execs what sequels' was just that: a rant. I never expected Trinity to be any different, so when Areus' (the hero whose name I can remember now) friend and commanding officer was sent on a mission to kill Areus' mother I assumed that nothing was actually going to happen. 'He is going to get there in time to rescue her' I thought, 'they will run away and it will be more fuel for the inevitable fight later on.'

'Wait a minute, his adopted brother just claimed to be him and got a sword in his stomach for the effort. Oh shit, they just cut off him mother's head.'

In other words, I stand corrected.

This kind of wanton murder does not fit very well in a teen rated game. Not because no one dies in teen games, just because the whole execution was a little too neat. Disemboweling and throat slitting are not tidy ways to kill people, a little blood would have gone a long way to make the point. And now I am bitching just to bitch. I complained that games don't often kill important characters and now that it did I am complaining that it wasn't graphic enough.

See what exposing myself to the PS3 for extended periods does to me?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I bought it...

...five years ago.

Oblivion horse armor still selling.

The saddest part? I bought it and then my horse ran away. A virtual equine ran off with $5 in real money.


I am nothing if not fair

Not being a person to make snap, unfounded judgments about things (hey, stop laughing) I sought out a 3DS this afternoon. I have zero interest in owning one, I just wanted to see if the 3D worked as advertised. The answer is, at least for now, sorta. At first glance the top screen was a mess; it looked like I watching a 3D movie in the theater and didn't have the glasses. The end cap it was bolted to was at precisely the wrong height placing the 3DS much to far from my face for the 3D to work. I hand to bend my knees and shrug my shoulders in a most unnatural and potentially crippling position and hold it steady to get anything, and even then I say some depth, sorta. This was not some quantum leap of game technology. It reminded me more of 3D Worldrunner in the NES: packing in with glasses that give you some small illusion of 3D that will inevitably be discarded.

To be fair, I put my face in front of a 3D television (with the glasses) and had much the same reaction. Maybe my contacts interfere, maybe I'm just broken, but the application of 3D to video games continues to do nothing for me. With the 3D turned off the 3DS is a solid little system. The demo of Pilotwings was both crushingly boring and an excellent tech demo of what the new system could do that the old could not. It featured a large environment with an impressive draw distance, ran at a solid frame rate on a new analog nub that worked very well. Too bad there was nothing to do, and that even if it was it's still Pilotwings. Just like the new 3D Zelda is still Zelda, and the new Street Fighter and Dead or Alive are just the same games plus a pseudo dimension. The 3DS's best feature is not its 3D, yet that is all that is being focused on right now.

I almost sound concerned for its well being and I am most certainly not, though I was surprised to see them sitting out on the shelf so close to the release date. Back in the day if a console didn't sell out completely on release you wondered what was wrong with it. *cough*PSP*cough*

Monday, March 28, 2011

A wonderful, awful idea

This may be the greatest gif I have ever found. I am going to use it constantly.

A wonderful idea. A wonderful, awful idea. Or something like that. I have been using Sinistar in one form or another as my avatar for years, but that last frame is delicious. Plus I hate Christmas (retail work will do that to you eventually) so it may be a natural fit.

More news on the Street Fighter AE front today. It is looking more and more than AE is going to be a disc release and not downloadable content. I am having a hard time getting as worked up about this as everyone else. MvC3 has been out for around a month or so and Capcom is soaking people for $5 a downloadable character. Super Street Fighter 4 AE is going to have at least four new characters, perhaps more. It would make sense for them to charge around $29.99 for it, and I would gladly pay that. Then again Capcom left spectating out of lobbies in MvC3, so their recent track record for making sense is a little shoddy.

There is one glaring flaw with Trinity: there is very little to talk about on a daily basis. Last night I killed things in a few old areas and a few new areas, which is the same thing I did the night before, and is exactly the same thing that I am going to do tonight. How to make reading about that entertaining? I don't even have much to complain about right now: I know exactly what the game has to offer and for the moment it is okay. I am hoping it doesn't turn into the adversarial relationship I had with White Knight Chronicles, but that is always a possibility.

No, I have walked away from too many PS3 games as it is, this one will be finished. Eventually.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Everything new is wimpy

Trinity has more plot in it than it knows what to do with. A brief synopsis: evil ruler gets prophecy that he will be killed by his half-elf grandson. Ruler kills own son in an effort to get to the child, but they escape. Time passes, the child is raised in an arena, is now a skinny but potent bad ass, and has is seeking violent revenge. Hero meets the rest of his party, blah blah, and then it gets interesting. Hero realizes that the best way to get to the evil ruler and exact is revenge is to join his army, basically betray everything his father died for, and work his way up. He and one of his arena buddies do so with the hero (whose name I cannot spell right now) ending up a merc and his friend a commander. I know exactly where this is going really hope it will be as gut wrenching as it promises: at some point the hero's friend is going to figure out what is going on and try to stop him and the hero will have to kill him.

That is how is should go. Realistically the hero will find a way to get the guy to change sides. The game may be writing itself into a corner that it does not have the balls to get out of, making it no different than every other damn game ever. You know what makes good drama? Important people dying and staying dead. Look at Hamlet: every mother fucker in the castle is dead via poison or stabbing by the time it is over, save for Horatio, and that is because Horatio is a pansy. Shakespeare had stones. Could it possibly be that the average Joe playing games is actually less intelligent then the groundlings Shakespeare had to cater to? Actually less able to handle tragedy and change that there is no return from? There was no Romeo and Juliet 2, people, everyone was dead.

...Comparing B and C grade games to classic plays is probably a bad idea. Hell, comparing AAA titles to classic plays is still a bad idea. I love games and will defend them to almost no end, but they have a long, long way to go.

My PS3 was turned on, so I used it to sample the new twin stick shooter Ghostbuster game. It was good and I will buy it because twin stick shooters are like crack to me. Here is the funny part: I did not buy it from the Playstation store. It was actually less work to turn off the PS3, change a setting on my TV, turn on my Xbox, add points and find the game than it would have been to back out of the PSN store, remember how to add money to my Playstation wallet, remember the password I have used about three times, add the money, click yes a dozen time, start the game back up and unlock the full version. The Playstation store is an atrocity. It should not take more than two clicks to get to what is new and buy it. Plus, why would you put a new game and the demo for that same game it two different places? Yes, it only does everything, but some of the everything is far more work than it needs to be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

3D is coming. Duck!

If I was to describe a cold, couch-less basement, replete with reasonable sized television, over sized speakers that are well over ten years old, two consoles, a blanket and a box of cat shit that really needs to be taken care of as inviting and homey, most sane people would either not believe me or assume that my standards are very low. While the latter is possibly true, it is the place where I spend the vast majority of my leisure time, so when I say that I was quite happy to leave the plush three room (free) suite provided me by the casino and return to my tattered blanket on the roughly carpeted floor I am being completely truthful. As a slave to my schedule such deviations are extra pleasant. I would have played just about anything last night, so a game that hovers just above average was like manna from heaven.

While the first three hours of Trinity were not at all terrible they were certainly a bit plain. Skills leveled up in barely discernible increments, new items were dropped that were just a tiny bit better than the last one I had, pretty standard stuff for an action RPG. Last night the third character showed up and suddenly things started to move faster. New bosses were introduced, including an interesting take on a hydra, that actually took a little more thought than 'bang the X button.' Money was abundant enough that I could buy some new skills, weapons improved, it was as if the game was gaining momentum. It will undoubtedly level off and quite possibly deteriorate; the fact that I had never heard of the game before adding it to the list is telling. The only reason it made it all is that is is a PS3 exclusive and that sad, black monolith to the folly of early adoption spends most of its time making me feel guilty. I might as well give it something to do.

Speaking of early adoption, I completely missed that the 3DS was coming out in two days. If memory serves that means the hardware is already sitting in poorly secured back rooms, waiting to be unleashed upon a new groups of spoiled children and the spoiled adults who act like them (yes, this was yet another not so subtle jab at Nintendo). I have no doubt that it will sell and sell and sell, and at $250 even if it wasn't yet another Nintendo product that was going to play the next batch of the same Nintendo games I would not be interested. 3D in a handheld holds the same interest for me as 3D televisions and 3D movies: none what so ever. It is a feature I would turn off in favor or longer battery life of soother frame rate, abilities that Nintendo has hidden away for the version they release next year.

If you for one second think that they don't have the next three versions of this thing finished already you are fooling yourself. Nintendo knows exactly what they are doing. As a company I love them, I just don't want anything they make.

I looked over the 3DS launch(ish) lineup and was not impressed and completely unsurprised. 3D remakes of Zelda and Pilotwings, my goodness, the resources they must have spent on those. Console translations of Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. Yawn. The only game that looked worth the effort was the new Kid Icarus, and even that was just a new Star Fox set in Greece (and oddly enough more of a Star Fox game than anything called Star Fox is years). Not working in the industry anymore has deadened my excitement for brand new things, but even considering that this is not a very good showing. Regardless of what I think it will sell out and the other big two will take some of its ideas and try to make them their own. Sometimes this works (Kinect!) and sometimes it doesn't (Move?), it matter not to me. Call me when they release a high-res Metroid-vania.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I am still stuck in a casino with no games. This marks the first two day stretch lacking any sort of electronic entertainment in a long, long time. I do not like it. Tonight, for lack of anything else to do, I played blackjack.

With someone else's money.

Now, I enjoy playing blackjack, but I do not know all the 'rules.' I can count to 21 the same as anyone else, but the intricacies of when to double down, when to split and when to just sit on your hands escape me. Even if I was playing with my own money it would still be an issue because you can seriously screw up hands for the rest of the table by doing the wrong thing. This is terribly stressful for a person who shuns most human contact, especially the negative kind.

We waited around for a few seats to open up at a $5 table. I sat down with $60 of borrowed money and the guy with me dropped down around $300. I plugged away at the minimum bet for over an hour, flirting with the even mark the entire time. With help from the my benefactor, other players, and at times even the dealer, I managed to only piss everyone off a few times. The guy with me eventually ran out of money and was about to walk away. This of course terrified me and I would't let him go, after all, I was playing with his money. I bet everything I had left and won. Then I did it again. Then I did it again.

It is better to be lucky than good, and I am apparently very lucky. My chips turned from red to green and the person who lent me the money didn't walk away, instead coaching me to hoard the big chips and just bet the little ones. The streak ended and I played for a few hands too long, ending up at $75. It's not much, but I didn't lose, and honestly it was difficult to not have a good time. Still, I felt like a kid at the grown ups table, being tolerated because my antics were amusing.

This is not the first time I have played blackjack in a casino. It's not even the time I won the most at once. That title actually belongs to the very first casino I had ever been in (luxor, in vegas). I was drunk, it was late, and I won a couple hundred bucks. I did that well because I was loaded. I wasn't worried about pissing people off and just played for fun.

Still, I am done with place. I was done with this place yesterday and I am not going to get out of here until tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grumpy gamer

I have no idea what Zill O'll is, or if it even has a soul. There aren't even any characters named Zill. I am sure that answers will are forthcoming, but I don't particularly care; I am not playing Trinity for a its moving story. It was added to the list because I was intrigued by the name and there are precious few PS3 games that ever come home. It is just a hack and slash, a pared down Dynasty Warriors (a series that I have never been a fan of). Quests have me going back to areas again and again, but there is just a little something here that will keep me coming back. The same thing happened with White Knight Chronicles. It was just good enough to keep me interested until it was too late to put it away. There is a definite point of no return in games for me. After a certain number of hours I become compelled to see it through to the end, sometimes just to spite a game for its terribleness. I don't know if Trinity will get there.

But it might.

I found this post very interesting and made a few comments as such. This kind of elitism is both easily understood and very dangerous. I understand exactly where it comes from: there is an arrogance that comes from knowing a lot about anything, doubly so for hobbies as vast and ultimately pointless as gaming. I play shitty games constantly and am still guilty of it, being openly hostile towards multiplayer games the same way this blogger takes issue with C and D grade shooters. The end result is the same attitude: X game sucks because I don't play it, and I don't play it because I know what is better.

News flash: long time gamers, people who remember the old, old days of one button controllers and pixels the size of your hand, are in the vast minority. Playing games may be what I do, but it is no longer mine. My hobby has been taken, broadened, sanitized, cleaned up, dumbed down, repackaged, shrunk wrapped and sold to the masses, and as much as I bitch there is nothing wrong with that.

Bleh, I probably have more to say, but I am sitting in a hotel room with no games to play and just in a bad mood. One of these days I am going to have pick up a handheld. The PSP just dropped to $129.99, it might finally be time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A miracle

There is a combo that I go for in Street Fighter that I rarely hit, does mediocre damage, and is quite possibly unsafe on hit if I am in the corner (why anything is unsafe on hit, I will never understand). It had been weeks since I landed it. But last night, when I needed it most:

crossover medium kick, standing medium (two hits), standing jab (link), horizontal ball.

It's not that hard of a combo. A single one frame link, though if a shoto is mashing dp and I miss the link I will get stuffed every time, canceled into a ball. But damn does it feel nice when it the last hit of a match. Example at around four minutes in,

I was unconscious last night. There were things happening on the screen that I don't think I was responsible for. Good things, like winning most of my matches against good opponents. There were only two savage beat downs, both by people who should have beaten me, but I was not free.

As the even progressed I felt comfortable assigning a new goal for myself: get Blanka back above 5000 bp. I came tantalizingly close several time only to lose a close match. After an hour and a half I was starting to crack, make stupid mistakes, and generally fall back into old habits. Finally, I came across some joker with around 70bp. I know better than to underestimate people, but I could not help but feel relieved. It only took a few seconds to realize this guy was a shark, either using a new account or playing on someone else's. I still beat him, but it was damn close.



Next match was against a 0-0 player.



Final match was against a Ryu would was just good enough and just cognizant enough of Blanka nonsense that it was a really close match. I screwed up in the final round, eating a super that I should have seen coming, and ended up with no health. Time slowed, Ryu threw fireballs, and I shenanigan'd my ass off from an impossible life deficit.


Finally. I am not one to brag, because self deprecation is much more amusing, but it was a beautiful thing. Time to find my capture card. Low res or not, this shit has got to be shared.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Amendment to case study

Scrub #1 was found this morning curled up in the fetal position, muttering to himself about 'they never stopped hitting me' and 'the problems began when I started to hit buttons.' After some fierce shaking and a shot of prescription strength whiskey he was lucid enough to be questioned. In spite of all he had said scrub #1 returned to MvC3 after seeing 'some really cool Zero combos.'

'I just wanted to see if I could figure out the buster shot relaunch combos. They looked really cool.'

Upon turning the game on he received an invite to a lobby, which he took. There were already two people there so he got a good look at the records of the two potential opponents, turned tail and ran back to the practice room. From there he turned on fight requests, expecting to not get a match for several minutes (it should be noted that all research up to this point show that, without a doubt, scrub #1 is just not very bright). Before a practicing a single combo an opponent jumps in. Scrub #1 loses, to no ones surprise including his own, but it was not as demoralizing as it could have been.

For next thirty minutes scrub #1 got a new match every time he went back into practice mode, and each time he was beaten worse than the last. The final two opponents beat him so quickly that he was convinced that the fact he was there at all, pushing buttons, did not make a difference. 'The outcome was preordained,' he said with a shudder, 'I had lost before I had even started.'

As previously noted scrub #1 is prone to fits of violent and often times humorous over reaction. In contrast to precious actions this time he calmly removed the game disc, put it in its case, then deleted his save file. After turning off the television he curled up into a quivering little ball on the floor, as he was found later this morning,

This concludes the case study on scrub #1's experiment with MvC3. It is safe to say that game will find itself removed from his collection soon, possibly put towards a pre-order of another fighting game that he will have no ability in.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Altman be praised, indeed

Now that Dead Space 2 is finished I feel better giving my reactions to it. This was a game that I could have played through in one sitting if time allowed. The cliche 'reluctant hero with amnesia' opening doesn't last long, with what little plot there is metered out at just the points. Game play wise it is functionally the same as the first game, but enemies come at you in more interesting and dangerous combinations. I never remember using the stasis ability outside of puzzles in Dead Space. This time around it was being used during every other encounter, often times just to catch my breath and avoid getting backed into a wall by explosive babies. Most weapons feel just barely powerful enough to get the job done with the limited ammo available, which adds a great deal the tension already created by creepy environments and sounds. Remember in the first Resident Evil how running out of ammo is an honest possibility, making every handgun or shotgun round count? Dead Space 2 retains that scarcity for most of the game. By the end I had hoarded more rounds for the rifle than I knew what to do with, which was good because the last boss would have been a bitch without it.

Isaac has gone from the guy in the cool looking armor to an actual character. All he really was in the first game was a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time who happened to be looking for his girlfriend amongst the legions of reanimated, multi-limbed dead. He never did find her, alive at least, as she killed herself to avoid being diced to death, and the first game ended with her ghost (or something akin to that) attacking him in the escape pod. Isaac has a face and voice now, not to mention a very tenuous grasp on what is real and what is not. There is some question early on in the game if what is happening only exists in Isaac's head, as his dead girlfriend keeps showing up to harass him. Sometimes she blames him for letting her die, other times she just crouches menacingly in the corner and looks scary, but the encounters are never pleasant. He never really accepts that she is real, fighting the visions off only to be left in a situation that is not in his head and that is just as bad. Isaac eventually caves in and admits that she is real, causing her to not be so scary looking and try to help him out.

Until she betrays him like almost every other character in the game.

Isaac doesn't do too well with any of the other humans he runs across. The first slits his own throat, the second batch tricks him into turning himself in and are all then gunned down by a space ship. He stabs another patient in the head with a long needle, guns down the half dead commander of the station and releases the monster hoard on his army, killing them all and leaving a big mess on the floor. The only 'good' character takes shots at him when they first meet. She is still the least crazy of the bunch and Isaac eventually sends her off in a ship to save herself, condemning himself to death by monsters or death when the station explodes.

By the time the game is done Isaac has saved the day from the evil marker and whatever is was going to become using the bodies of the entire station as building material. The station is getting ready to self destruct, he is out of ammo, his dead girlfriend who he though he had made peace with turned out to be the agent of an interstellar lovecraftian horror, and he is seriously sick if all this shit. Isaac sits down on the steps for the first time since the beginning of the game and waits to die. The credits even started to roll; I was impressed that the game had the guts to kill off its protagonist in the name of good drama. Very few games have the balls to make the game writers work a little harder in the sequel by killing off the main character (Red Dead Revolver almost did it) and there are quite a few who should have (I am looking at you, God of War III, let Kratos die already). Dead Space 2 was going to do it!

Oh wait, no, last second rescue, guy gets the new girl, blah blah, this shit is why terrible things happen in the world, like Indiana Jones 4.

The cheap ending is honestly my only complaint about the game proper. Separating the multiplayer out and forcing anyone who didn't buy the game sealed and new to pay extra for it is loathsome, but it didn't effect the way I played the game, so meh. It also never really got as unnerving as the first one. Neither of these games hold a candle to the heavyweights of scary games (and neither have the new versions of those old scary games, for that matter), but the first Dead Space did at least make me feel uncomfortable, and it did it without resorting to exploding babies, killer zombie children and a what I swear was a toddler in a clothes drier. More thrills and kills this time, but fewer chills.

Whoever designed the marker should get special recognition. So simple, yet totally disconcerting. I want one for my desk.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Yes, I played more Dead Space 2 last night, and yes, it was still awesome.

But I also played the Mortal Kombat demo, partly because I wanted to make sure my PS3 still worked but mostly to see if I am going to make good on my threat to unload MvC3. The current answer is I have no idea.

Mortal Kombat was definitely very good. It felt almost exactly like I remember MK2 feeling, minus the awkwardness of being next to smelly adolescents while my shoes stuck to the arcade floor. This is definitely an effort to get back to the root of Mortal Kombat, but the way that I play fighting games has changed, so I do not know if playing a fancied up classic is really going to do it for me.


What the hell, that may have been the most arrogant thing I have ever written. I have changed the way I play fighting games, what the fuck is that? Being slightly worse than mediocre at Street Fighter doesn't give me the right to turn my nose up at other games just because they aren't what I am playing right now. The truth is that I haven't changed the way I play fighting games, ever, and everyone else has. I get out of the gates fast but never really improve, so getting in on the ground floor on the new Mortal Kombat is probably an excellent idea. I don't know how much I like the game because there was no practice mode in the demo for me to figure out what juggled unto what with Scorpion. Everything looked disjointed and silly because I was mashing the shit out of my dual shock controller wishing it was an arcade stick, but that doesn't mean it will always be that way.

I really should read over what I write more often. When I sound like an ass to myself things have really gone off the rails.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fleecing a dead horse

It's been about two weeks since I last played a good game (other than Marvel and Street Fighter, or course). Dead Space 2 received almost universal critical praise and a slightly less than savage beating from Zero Punctuation, and even though I lean towards Yahtzee's ebullient cynicism more often than not I have to saw he entirely missed the point. Dead Space 2 is supposed to be schlocky, over the top, in your face gory with a marginal story holding things together and monsters jumping out of broom closets that were empty scant moments before. It's a goddamn horror sequel! How many times have you seen a horror movie sequel that was decidedly more reserved and thoughtful than the first one? Never! More people die in worse ways, and Dead Space 2 takes this idea and runs with it as far as it can, right up to what I am pretty was toddler trapped inside of a washing machine. That freaked me out just a little.

But I don't want to talk about all of the Dead Space 2's good things right now; I am not going to talk about the game at all, but something that I noticed when I first started to play. Right after starting for the first time I was asked for a license code that was printed on the back page of the manual. This code enabled access to the multiplayer content, which I could give two shits about, but the fine print was a terrible harbinger of things to come. This code did indeed let you into the 'free' multiplayer modes, but the code was only good for one system, could only be used by one person, and was non-transferable. Bought the game used, borrowed it from a friend, or rented it like I did? Two day trail, then cough up 800 MS points to be allowed online. In other words, if you didn't but the game first hand, fuck you.

Sony has been talking about something like this for years, but being Sony it was taken to the extreme of the game not working at all if removed from its home console. From the business side I suppose I understand. Very little money is made from the rental market, and none at all from the used side of things, so this is a way for EA to squeeze a few dollars out of the secondary market. At this point it is a non issue; I am not playing Dead Space 2 for the scintillating multiplayer, I am playing it to dismember monsters with the severed limbs of their heinous comrades. But you have to ask: how long until the rental market becomes more of a target? Big publishers bluster about being injured by there being used games but they will never do anything serious about it because people trade old games in to buy new games. Kill the trade in market and new games sales will actually decrease.

But rentals? They see no benefit beyond the initial sale (that I know of), and this one copy of Dead Space 2 will make many rounds before it no longer works.

In summary, charging for multiplayer because I am not the original purchaser is lame, but I will take what I can get because there are things much worse that they could be doing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is being traded in a mutant power?

Last night was probably my last night of actually playing any Marvel. It is much more fun to observe that participate. No drama, no long autobiographical rants (though that was certainly fun to write), and no broken equipment. I played it for an hour and have quietly put it to bed. If I am as wowed by the new Mortal Kombat demo as I hope to be it will fine one final use: as down payment on a game that I will play more.

And so it was back to Street Fighter, and even though I lost much more than I usually do it was a night full of laughs. I lost to a pretty good T Hawk even though the match is supposedly (and I agree) in Blanka's favor. I pulled one out of the fire against an equally good Hakan, learning in the process that his Ultra 2 will eat up Blanka's ultra 1. This was laugh number one. I ran into a Ryu that was clearly trolling, jumping back over and over, then walking forward into jabs until the round was over. He started to get serious in the second round, then actually fought in the third, but it was too late, and that made me happy. There was also a 0 bp Ken that was either using a lag switch or playing from Alaska vis a dial up connection. That wasn't much fun, but at least I pulled out the win.

Best of all was an excellent Ken that cropped up a few times. This was clearly a Ken who knew how to deal with scrubby Blankas. I have a bad habit of trying to hit with a horizontal ball after a blocked fireball. Sometimes I can catch them before they throw a second one, sometimes they block, sometimes I burn EX just to see what happens. Mr. 15,000 bp Ken had clearly seen this, as after his first fireball he simply ducked and punched my feeble ball out of the air. That was just a fluke, I thought. Nope. I fell for it three more times before realizing I was being an idiot. It was an ugly loss, the kind that you reflect on later and feel like an ass. In retrospect I realized that he was expecting me to use the ball every time and that just about anything else would hit him after he committed to the psychic counter.

He found me again a few minutes late and I was thrilled. I had a plan. The first time I blocked a fire ball I still used and was punched out of a horizontal ball. The second I hit him with a river run. The third I counter poked him with a crouching roundhouse. The fourth time I walked up and threw him. At this point the Ken player realized that I was not quite as big of an idiot as he hoped and changed things up. I did not win, but I did take that first round.

Street Fighter still works. It's still fun, it's just fun at a different speed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I guess I like to watch...

Not much to talk about today. I camped out in from of my computer with a bag of Doritoes last night and watch the top sixteen in Marvel vs Capcom 3 at the Final Round tournament. Missed Street Fighter, but I must say that as the 'pros' get more familiar with McV3 it get more fun to watch. I was most please to see a grand finals with no Sentinel or Phoenix, and it was also nice to see a Zero sneaking up there into the top eight. Marn does things with ease that I do not understand the mechanics behind, things like charging up the buster shot by rotating which attack button is held down, things that would fracture my fragile fingers if I so much as attempted them. Had he been sober he might have had a better showing (just a rumor...).

It was also hilarious to watch new mahvel memes grow and evolve through the course of the match. Thanks to Combofiend's Spencer 'BIONIC ARRRRRRRRMMMMMM' was shouted over and over as he juggled the entire field, up to and including Justin Wong, on his way to victory. The grand finals, while not as tense as some Street Fighter finals I have seen, was easily the most fun I have had watching a live stream. Here were two guys who knew each other extremely well, having faced off time and time again for years, laughing and having a good time. They were competing, and there was money at stake so the eventual outcome was very serious, but there was a distinct lake of saltiness that made the entire event much more fun to see. This is exactly what needs to be broadcast to the masses: these dudes may be able to destroy 99.9% of the rest of the gaming world with their backup/trolling teams, but they are still just dudes playing a game, which means it is alright to have a good time.

And there was a distinct lack of bitching about how the game was so easy that even girls can play it.

MvC3, as a spectator 'sport', may finally do what Street Fighter could not: it may be just about ready for prime time consumption. ESPN2, here we come.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

From the ashes of bad games

I know I said that someone needs to slap the shit out of me if I have anything nice to say about Tron, but hear me out. Yes, it is little more than a Prince of Persia rip off as imagined by Daft Punk, featuring long, pointless platforming sections that made me wonder why the super advanced programs never got around to inventing jet packs. Combat boils down to abusing one or two powerful moves and then running like a fool to vault over objects and recharge your power; whoever thought that flinging yourself over a day glow lamp post was the best way to get to use you super attacks again needs to be locked back in their sensory deprivation and never let out again. And yes, every level looks very much the same. Well, the same aside from one being blue and another being green. There was one with rocks, but they were green, too. They even screwed up the light cycle levels, turning what could have been fun, fast paced diversions into a trial and error slog through the same three explosions.

(side note: The one thing that did look good was character lip syncing. Of all the things to get right, that is the strangest. Also of odd note: the voice acting. I was convinced that they got Jeff Bridges to do the voice of Flynn and the comically racist Clu and had a stand in for Olivia Wilde. It turns out that the opposite was true; Olivia Wilde was just that bad. I am so happy that she is off of House, I hope she never comes back. Anyway.)


Like most terrible games there was one good idea that had no place there among the feculent leavings of Disney board meetings. Character progression, leveling and items are all completely integrated between single player and multiplayer. Everything gained when playing by yourself could be moved online,and vice versa. People have to actually be playing the game online for this to work, which they weren't, but I really like the idea. What scares me away from the new progression based online shooters like Modern Warfare and Battlefield is the incredible penalty for being new. I play everything, but I play most things late, so by the time I get to a game the community has had months to figure it out and get all the fanciest shit with which to kill noobs like me. Not only do I not know what I am doing, but the gun I am being ignorant with does 1/10th the damage as the insane weapons the early adopters have earned. In Street Fighter terms, imagine that you had to win 100 times before you got to use Ken's uppercut. And everyone else had it already. And used it all the goddamn time.

It's the double edged sword of accessibility. If you make the game easy enough for anyone to play then the hard core fans are going to bitch, but if you cater to the elite then no one else will buy it. Integrating the single player with the multiplayer like Tron tried to do could remedy some of that.

Think about this, but don't play Tron: Evolution. And don't spam Ken's fierce uppercut, use the medium one instead.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A close one

First and foremost, I am rather proud of myself for not purchasing Torchlight on XBLA as a reflex action. I already own the game and haven't finished it, and it doesn't matter that playing with a controller would be better, not to mention a bigger screen, better sound system, easier access to snacks while playing... Hold on a second...

Steady there.

Ok, the urge has passed.

Purchasing anything on XBLA is far to easy. I know, logically, that these 'Microsoft points' cost real money, but I never see any cash change hands. It is a transparent electronic transaction that appears later on a digital statement which is paid for online. The fact that money was involved at all is barely apparent. I traded time at work for time on a game, which makes sense in a odd sort of way. And no, I do not want to paid in Microsoft points. You cannot use those to but other important things, like beer.

Must kill more time before starting Tron. My stamina for bad games is a bit low, and I know that this one is going to be even worse than the last two. At least Saw finally push me over 100,000 gamerscore. Who am I kidding, I actually enjoyed it, right up until the ending. Finally (because of a choice I inadvertently made during the tutorial because I didn't understand how to walk across a plank without falling) the good guy escapes and everyone else is dead. Jigsaw appears and offers him one last choice: go back to his job as a newspaper reporter and not matter or stay with him, become the pig faced man, and force people into Rube Goldberg inspired death traps.

The game ends before the choice is made, but we all know that it will come down to who has better benefits and pension.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Puzzle pieces

Yesterday was so awful that when I looked at the clock on my computer and realized it was Wednesday I was honestly surprised. Blocking fruitless twelve hour works days from my mind is probably healthy, and it would have stayed that way if I didn't spend most of the day today trying to fix the same problem. How do you tell a customer 'You're fucked, re-install windows.' when the problem affects four different machines and yet no one knows how to fix it? Answer: let the guy who is in charge do it, I have many other things that are broken to work on.

Saw II has remained amusing in spite of a few repeated puzzles. I don't mind them, nor do I mind most areas looking similar. From what I understand it is supposed to be oppressive and depressing. I do need to call out on option puzzle I ran across last night as being much to well thought out to be wasted on a toss off licensed game. For starters there is a giant chessboard with randomly placed pawns. Each pawn has a number and there are letters on most of the empty squares. On a table nearby are three televisions, each with a different chess piece on the screen: knight, king and bishop if I remember correctly. The screens were flashing on and off in seemingly random intervals. To stop here would have been merciless; someone saw fit to throw players a bone by posting a Morse code key nearby. You had to watch the pattern the screens flashed in to find the correct letter on the chess board, then find a pawn that could be captured from that letter by moving in the manner of the piece that was pictured. I was impressed, but then again, I was playing Saw II on purpose.

I wish I was playing Dragon Age 2 now, but it can wait. Everything will get played eventually. In fact, I can only think of a few games that I will actually buy this year, not counting XBLA or PSN games that sneak out and demand my attention. I am putting serious thought into the new Mortal Kombat. Everything I see about it reminds me of MK2, and that ain't a bad thing. The Witcher 2 may get purchased in spite of never having finished the first game. Guild Wars 2 frightens me a little, but the game I really am going to throw down the cash without hesitation is the new Elder Scrolls. I have so many great memories of Oblivion that I would be a fool to not play it as soon as it is available.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A mutilated stump by any other name...

Someone had the great idea to include the original three Splatterhouse games as unlockable content in the remake. This of course sounds like am excellent idea, and it can be touted as a selling point right up until you actually try to play one of them. They are terrible, each a worse than the last. The series started on a high point, with each successor getting uglier and less fun as it came and went. The third game abandoned the 2D plane in favor of the pseudo 3D freedom of Final Fight, which is another thing that sounded good in a board meeting but no one bother to figure out how to implement intelligently. I played each game once, just long enough to lose all of my lives (which was about two levels) and never touched them again.

The remake proper never really changed, recycling the same enemies in the second half of the game as were used in the first half, just with more hitpoints. Most were easy to deal with on their own, but there were these little blue glowing bastards that liked to sneak up from behind me and tear off my arms. Beating a creature to death with my own severed limbs took much longer to get stale than I am willing to admit. Bosses were also recycled, to the point that by the end of things previous bosses were being used as general fodder to fill levels. The final boss actually showed a little creative thinking, looking a lot like a walking Legion from Castlevania, but you never actually fight him. Individual monsters fall off of him in increasing numbers and you just fight them off, wave after wave, until the cliche cliff hanger ending. This is pretty disappointing for a game that has you kill one boss by pulling its lower intestine out of its baboon red anus.

You heard me. And it is just as awful as you imagine, especially when Darkwing Duck/The Terror Mask if yelling 'I love it when they scream!' Splatterhouse was tasteless and offensive, and I was expecting nothing less.

I remember being very surprised at how good the first Saw game was. A movie licensed game based on glorified and beaten to death torture porn has no right to be anything past coaster material, and yet it was actually not that bad. Its weakest aspect was its combat, a failing it shares with every single Silent Hill have and most of the early Resident Evil. Saw II starts right off by removing the combat and replacing it with simple quick time events. They are still dumb, but they take up much less time. What is left is a puzzle game with an extremely graphic setting which actually makes sense when you look at the movies (or read about them, as I am far to squeemish to actually watch one). It was pretty much savaged by professional reviewers, and while I don't necessarily disagree with them, I do wonder what they were expecting going into it. If you expect Saw II, the game based on a serious of movies designed to make you date vomit into you lap, to be some sort of second coming of the licensed game then you are a dumb ass. This is a cheap cash in with a decent hook or two, nothing more.

Uh oh, I have been playing bad games for so long I have started making excuses for them. If I saw a single nice thing about Tron someone will need to slap the shit out of me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I am so lazy

I need to start writing reviews again.

That is all.

Gah, my epeen! died last week, much to the chagrin of people who like showing off how many meaningless points they have accumulated, like me. Being a selfish bastard, I lament that I did not make it past 100,000 before the forum signatures stopped working. I did find another one that does the same thing and doesn't look nearly as good, but that hasn't worked in several days as they were woefully unprepared for a giant spike in usage. After reading the explanation from their site I understand why it the original went away, but I also wonder why Microsoft isn't providing a way for people to brag about how much time they have wasted on their own services. There is even a number on your Xbox Live profile stating how long you have been paying for the service. Let's see, mine is a a seven, since I have had the same account since Xbox live first came online for the oXbox. $50 time 7 years..... God dammit.

Splatterhouse is one of those rare games that is much better than is should be but still isn't actually any good. It is a great, terrible game, if that makes any sense. As a brawler it is a stripped down God of War with many fewer moves, about three different weapons, an easily abusable way to refill your health, terrible platforming, and fewer boob shots (but not by much). It is at its worst when it attempts to mimic the 2D, side scrolling nature of the original. The way Jack moves when he jumps is so floaty that timing jumps correctly is near impossible. As soon as I stopped comparing it to good games and put it up against games of its own ilk, let it pick on someone its own size, it actually fare pretty well. Contrary to many of the reviews, I think the voice acting is fantastic, with the voice of the terror mask provided by Jim Cummings. No, I did not know who he was before I looked it up, but I looked it up because it was awesome I knew his voice from somewhere. Jim Cummings does voices in just about everything, most notably he was Darkwing Duck.

Darkwing Duck kicked ass, and if you don't agree then you are far to young to be on my lawn.

Now take that voice and have it spout lines like 'Jack, for such a dick, you are a huge pussy.'


This will provide a weekends worth of amusement, which is all I can ask. The collectible cards featuring topless pictures of the damsel in distress are a bit much, but I can't really say anything, as I am one of those guys who went and unlocked the not edited 'cards' in The Witcher.

I really should finish that game one of these days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I already didn't have many friends

The gap between those who can and those who cannot is much, much larger in MvC3 than in any other fighting game I have ever played.

At the bottom level are the mashers, who throw out random supers and nothing but low attacks, followed by the scrubs, people who know enough not to mash but don't actually know any combos. Just above the scrubs are the valiant triers, people who are definitely better than the first two groups but still can't even come close to hanging with the big boys.

Then we have a giant gulf of ability; a space so wide that people just on opposite sides can hardly be said to be playing the same game.

On the good side of gulf things are a little closer together. There are people with innate ability, people who practice like crazy, people who have been playing vs games since MvC2 came out, and at the top of the heap is Justin Wong. Yes, he has his own class.

The upshot of this is that it is absolutely no fun for a person on one side of the talent divide to play someone on the other. A scrub learns absolutely nothing from getting bitch slapped with perfect rounds, and the person doing the bitch slapping might as well have been in practice mode. The pool of people to have fun with is much smaller than Street Fighter and it is just how the game works.

No matter, time for a break anyway. Splatterhouse is undoubtedly terrible, and it is waiting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The coming shit storm

This whole MvC3 debacle was prompted by having nothing to play from GameFly. Three quick games in a row and out stripped their ability to get fresh discs to my door. It seems that when you get down to zero they ship whatever is at the top of your list, regardless of availability. This could be good, as it gets something to play out the door, and even better when a few things ship at once, but when your list is a mine field like mine, things can get a bit rough.

Case in point: Splatterhouse, Saw II and Tron Legacy have all shipped a few days apart. That may eclipse even my stamina for terribleness. They could have shipped Dead Space 2 or Bulletstorm of Killzone 3, but not, I get the perfect shit storm.

At least these games should push my over the 100,000 gamerscore mark, a landmark that has been sitting out there for quite a while.

Played MvC3 for another 3 hours last nigh without breaking anything. I ran into the exact opposite scenario as my first evening (only I was sober): me against someone who was clearly trying to play Street Fighter. I could tell from the way he moved and jumped and chained jabs into uppercuts with Ryu (which really doesn't do much damage) that this was probably his first night with the game. Much to his credit he just kept hitting rematch, which I gladly obliged because I am only slightly less terrible. He didn't get really upset until I came back from two characters down with nothing but plasma beam spam, and he finally called it quits when I started camping out with Hulk and juggling his characters one after the other.

It was meaningless, scrubby, and just a little mean. But it felt good. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Case study #257

The stages of  MvC3, by Chamberlain, for Chamberlain.

Stage 1: wow, shiny. Upon initial introduction the subject, henceforth know as scrub #1, is taken aback by the vivid colors, smooth animations, large characters and multi-tiered levels. It should be noted that scrub #1 is easily amused by swiftly moving objects and this should not be taken as an early indication of quality of or affection toward the product, only a symptom of scrub #1's incredibly short attention span.

Stage 2: wait, this isn't Street Fighter. Scrub #1 has had a modicum of success in other games in the genre, notably as a Blanka in a Street Fighter IV that has been described as 'slightly less spazzy than most and oddly honorable.'  Upon finding no charge characters he defaults to Ryu as part of his team, only because he feels slightly familiar. Scrub #1 rounds out the rest of his team with Zero, because he saw some really cool videos of him, and Hulk, because in his own words: 'Hulk SMASH.'

Stage 3: delusions of grandeur. Knowing that starting out online is not a good idea, scrub #1 hides himself in practice mode for what for him is an abnormally long period of time (note: it was only about an hour). He finds it very easy to pull off what looks like impressive combos (note: they were very basic and used none of what the game's engine had to offer). Feeling better about his ability than he should have scrub #1 accepted an invite from another individual he knew and who was of approximately the same ability in Street Fighter.

Researchers note: the opposing player was significantly intoxicated during the competition. They played for well over an hours; scrub #1 never won a match.

Stage 4: this game fucking sucks and I am never touching it again. After what can only be described as a continuous, savage and merciless beating scrub #1 retreats once again to the safety of practice mode, wondering why what he can do there has little to no impact on what can be done against actual people. Content to blame internet latency and/or his opponent having the game for a week longer, scrub #1 engages in matches with random individuals on the Xbox Live service (note: this has been proven to be a bad idea and not conducive to one's mental well being). After another hour of abject failure scrub #1 very nearly begins to hurl objects throughout the room, then stomps off to bed.

Stage 5: damn, that was $60, one more try. While not one to pay too much attention to the finer details of economics, scrub #1 does realize that spending money on a game and giving up on it after a single evening's effort is not the best decision. He then forces himself to sit down and try again.

Researchers note: scrub #1 has a history of violent, often humorous and destructive bouts of rage. A previous Street Fighter induced episode ended with an arcade stick being stabbed repeatedly with a sharp pair of scissors followed by a several month long hiatus from the game while he saved up money for a replacement.

Stage 6: this game still fucking sucks and I hate it and everyone who plays it. Fuck it and the horse in rode in on. After another hour of play scrub #1 decides that it is in the best interest of himself and all of his possessions within reach that McV3 never enters his dedicated gaming console again. In a vain attempt to find solace he returns to Street Fighter, only to find that what little he played of MvC3 on top of his mounting frustration have left him unable to defeat even the easiest of opponents. After losing to a Zangief with no battle or player points scrub #1 begins to seriously call his worth as a human being into question. Finding no alcohol to consume, he is also frustrated by his sobriety and decides to actually not play video games for the rest of the evening. (note: this a rare occurrence and should not be taken lightly)

Several days pass between Stage 6 and the final stage. The only notable event is scrub #1's viewing of tournament featuring the suspect game: MvC3. Scrub #1 has been quoted as saying 'how many goddamn fingers does it take to pull off stuff like that? This game is bull shit.'

Stage 7: grudging acceptance and eventual embracing of inherent scrub nature. Still not willing to accept the blame for just not being very good at the game and still reluctant to simply write off the investment, scrub #1 returns yet again to MvC3. After much soul searching (note: scrub #1 in remarkably resistant to change of any sort) he removes Ryu from his team and begins to experiment with replacement characters. Settling on Dr. Doom (according to scrub #1, 'fuck it, I am just going to cheat' he returns to the practice room. While concepts like OTG combos are still clearly beyond his ability or comprehension, the new team of Zero, Doom and Hulk are synergistic enough to allow a three part DHC combo that briefly returns scrub #1 to stage 1 levels of enjoyment. Much to his surprise this new team also leads to limited success against random online opponents. Defeats still greatly out number wins, but the fact that there are any wins at all is enough to suppress scrub #1's juvenile rage.

Researchers note: Scrub #1 will never be any good at MvC3. He lacks the inherent ability to be competitive, but his acceptance of his 'scrub' designation may very well add years to his life. It will most certainly lower his bills for replacement electronic devices. Upon being asked for a summary of his experience, scrub #1 replied 'The game is still balls, but what else am I going to play while waiting AE to come out?'