Thirty years ago, an engineer by the name of Tomohiro Nishikado created the classic arcade game Space Invaders. In an instant, the Taito Corporation, which was based in Seoul Korea, was a household name. Originally designed to be a flight simulation game, it was smartly re-branded, using spaceships and adopting a futuristic theme. Little did they know the influence that such a simple change would have on generations to come.
In 2005, Taito was purchased by video game giant Square Enix. In the tradition of many Square Enix properties, it was decided that to re-release the original Space Invaders, while giving it a modern look and feel. This is a continuation of the retro revival that has been gaining a significant amount of steam over the last three years.
It is hard to imagine how one could make improvements to a game that has been the same way for so long, but after thirty years in existence, it looks like there is still plenty left in this franchise from beyond the fringe. Seeing a Space Invaders reborn in such a dramatic way draws parallels to the recent release of Pac-Man Championship Edition on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. In fact there is alot that Taito has learned from that successful re-release.
The first thing that they learned is that trippy is better. Space Invaders Extreme takes every aesthetic that the game ever had and turns it on its ear. What was traditionally a solid back background has been replaced with flashy, technicolor, full motion videos that can transform even the most tame enemy interaction into a drug induced shootout from hell. All of the trippiness is further fueled by the driving techno beat acting as the soundtrack. Interestingly enough, the game also borrows a page from the Rez book of game design and allows the players actions within the environment to fill in the critical holes in the score. This gives the music a personalized feel that continually morphs throughout the course of the game.
Another trait that has been picked up from Pac-Man Championship Edition is that the designers have realized that enemies have evolved over the last two to three decades. While they share the original sprite based appearance, the invaders have different several new abilities. Some of these updates include the ability to turn on their side to avoid gunfire, use of stronger invaders that can take more damage and the ability to unleash a laser beam bent on making you very dead, very fast. One last way that the enemies have changed is by introducing boss battles at the end of every level.
One last improvement is the inclusion of power-ups and bonus levels. Power-ups correspond with the colors of the enemies. After you have killed a certain number of the same colored creatures, they will drop special items like bombs and lasers. Bonus levels also make a fitting contribution to the special abilities, by unlocking one after every completed stage. These also act as a good change of pace, scattered throughout the gameplay.
Though there are numerous improvements, this is far from a perfect game. The biggest issue for the PSP version of the game is that the full motion video in the background has a tendency to be distracting. Also missing was a continue system, similar to a 'pay a quarter to continue' feature that would otherwise be included in an arcade game.
At the end of the day, Space Invaders Extreme is a must buy for any PSP owner. It has a perfect structure for a portable games. The quick levels that can be jumped in and out of with ease, and has replayability in spades. Be sure to check it out!
Now that you have seen the review, check out below for a gameplay video of Space Invaders Extreme:
Over the past few weeks I have been saving up all of my spare dimes and nickels in anticipation for the release of Rock Band 2. Unfortunately, with everything else going on around here, the spare scratch hasn't been laying around... that was until yesterday. After counting up all the money I needed, I stomped down to the local Wal-Mart. Like a kid picking out the puppy from the pet store window, tentatively asked the clerk for a copy of Rock Band 2. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw my gallon sized bag full of spare change. If looks could kill...
Well, to make a long story short, I was barely able to drag myself into work this morning. I was red-eyed and unshaven from a long night of rocking out, which inspired one of my co-workers to ask if I had been on a bender for the last week. My response? "Na, I've just been playing Rock Band 2." He grinned knowingly, nodded, and went back to his work.
After numerous hours locked in my man-cave over the weekend, I have come to the realization that I have no longer have any desire to play the original Rock Band tracks. The set list is a mind numbing 80+ tracks of pure rock goodness. There has not been a single song that I have played that has left me longing for the Rock Band of old. To top it all off, "Eye of The Tiger" is the first track in the career mode, which made me feel like a rock god from the first downbeat.
Another area of improvement is the inclusion of an online band tour. While I have not yet tried it, I am looking forward to rocking out with my friends from across the country. Also gone are the days of failing songs while playing at a party full of drunks. The No-Fail mode is the addition that the I have been begging for since the first installment.
Note charts in Rock Band 2 seem to follow the same approach as the original. On expert there is a huge gap between the easiest and most difficult song. There is nothing worse then coming from an easy track, to a song that can induce carpel tunnel syndrome in a single measure. Fortunately, my wife has been anchoring my lackluster performance on Expert lead guitar with her steady performance on bass.
Well, needless to say, I plan on dedicating a ton of time to this game in the weeks to come. You can expect to see my full review in a couple of weeks.
Check out the trailer for Rock Band 2 below:
This weekend I experienced the thrill of my life as PreistBeast and I attend the University of Michigan vs. University of Wisconsin football game. I was a supporter of the Maize and Blue, while PreistBeast was a supporter of those evil badgers. To make a long story short, University of Michigan cam back from a 19 point deficit to stun the number eight badgers by two points. Last minute heroics from Wisconsin's quarterback were not enough to salvage a victory.
I have never experienced something that loud in my entire life. The place absolutely exploded when the University of Michigan intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to take the lead. It was a thrill from start to finish and something I will not soon forget, while PreistBeast wishes it never happened.
This week you can look forward to my first hands-on impressions with Rock Band 2, a long overdue review of Space Invaders Extreme and another venom spewing "What I Hate About..." article.
Hope you have a great week and remember, GO BLUE!
This is what most would refer to as getting caught in the act. After an intense game of Wii Sports, this smitten guy decides to take a bit of a "break." Hilarity ensues...
With the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I feel the need to stand on the soapbox provided for me by Grundy the Man and rant aimlessly about the shortcomings of a franchise that has seen me from an itch in my father's pants to a malicious 20 something year old. Granted my soapbox is more like the kind a bar of Lever 2000 comes in and my audience is well, you.
Jar Jar Binks. I think we can all agree that Jar Jar was a completely useless and annoying addition to canon. I'm not a fan of the Gungans but Jar Jar is the poster child for why I hate them. What was going through Lucas' mind? Let's make the only comic relief a clumsy semi sentient amphibian with a lisp who also speaks broken English... GOLD! No one could get sick of him after the first 30 seconds. There was some payback for the fans by making him the senator who recommended emergency powers for Palpatine but that could have been easily done by any of the other nameless senators. I'm not well versed on the expanded universe between episode 3 and 4 but I hope Jar Jar was beaten with plastic hangers and dragged behind a landspeeder.
Jake Lloyd. The Star Wars movies are about the rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Jake Lloyd made it so I wished he was mutilated by Obi-wan and then killed by the Emperor before his prepubescent ass left Tatooine. I've watched the auditions from the special features disc and he was hands down the worse. Have you ever seen Jingle All the Way? Um, I haven't either... Anyway I wanted to kick his ass in it too.
Star Wars: The Phantom Anus. Okay maybe that was the porno parody but this bullet point stands for Episode I. They had Liam Neeson and Ray Park and they threw them away. There was the laughable and consequently insulting puppet that looked nothing like Yoda and the rest of the Jedi sat around looking sad and serious all the time. Then there was the pod race, which might have been cool if it wasn't completely unnecessary and absorbed an hour of screen time. It did have a great fight scene at the end but the double bladed lightsaber looked completely unmanageable and if not for the skill of Park would have looked even more forced. It did however make way for the aforementioned porno, which I haven't seen, but I imagine there is a scene with a massive double headed dildo "doing damage."
The Skywalkers and the Solos save the day... again. This might gain me some nerd cred but I've read roughly 40 of the novels from after the movies. They're not Dickens by any means but they pass the time nicely. There's one theme that resonates through the majority of them. The Star Wars universe is held together purely by the Skywalkers and Solos. Much like the pages of a Hustler are held together by dried ejaculate. If not for them the universe/pages would fall apart revealing the deepest depths of depravity.
The Empire is composed solely of the British. I distrust the British as much as I do every man, woman, child, race, creed, and animal but I don't think they deserve to be the enemy a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Let me elaborate. I think it would have been more fitting to have the Germans or Russians be the main ethnic enemy stereotype. After all they were the conclusive evils in the last century, A New Hope did come out in the middle of the Cold War, and frankly has anybody forgiven the Germans for the Holocaust? Even the Chinese or Arabs would have made a little more sense, I don't know anybody who still harbors aggression toward Great Britain for the American Revolution.
Rereleases. I like the special editions because I like Star Wars. I'll pause a second to let everybody catch their breath after that gasp of surprise. (pause) I actually enjoy Star Wars so much that I would like to be able to watch the old versions as well as the new. They were cutting edge in their day and just because the special effects were outdated it doesn't mean cinematic fags like myself don't want to still appreciate them in the proper context. It's a bad habit in Hollywood to release a movie then either remake it, or remaster it. Is anybody else insulted that the guns were replaced by walkie talkies in ET?
Damn this game... Thats all I can say. Never has a game been more deserving of being named the coveted Damnit Game of the Week. Indestructo Tank 2 is a game that will grab you mercilessly by the nutsack and drag you kicking and screaming through level after level of mindless explosions... and that's not necessarily a bad thing either.
Here is the key concept of the game: as the name alludes to, your invulnerable. The goal of the game is to link together explosions, while staying airborne and building up your combo meter as high as possible. As you level up in the game you can purchase additional attackers to try to deflect off of, in an attempt to destroy every military of the world.
This is another game that has come courtesy of my wife, so I thank her for the willingness to contribute to the demise of my career. My best combo is 96, how about you? Let me know your best in the comments and compare the size of your e-penor with the rest of the readers.
Enjoy and try not to get yourself into too much trouble.
Some overly ambitious High School Choir took the time to arrange the most amazing medley of classic game themes ever assembled. All I can say is, that must have been one hell of a choir director. Great work to all involved. Check out the video below:
I know this video is as old as the hills, but I can't helping taking a trip down memory lane. Some many games, so little time.
I have many treasured memories of my childhood that are courtesy of Mel Brooks. On numerous different occasions, I can remember sneaking over to a friends house to catch a viewing of Blazing Saddles or History of the World Part I. But of all of the Brooks' masterpieces, none did I enjoy more than Spaceballs.
When it was announced that Mel Brooks was bringing a Spaceballs animated series to television, I was ecstatic. Then I heard that is was going to be on G4. Suddenly the eager excitement that I had been feeling was gone, being replaced by a skeptical feeling of doubt. The only thing that saved my interest was the fact that I trusted Mel Brooks and his keen sense of humor. Has his humor gotten better with age, or is this one last desperate attempt to cash in on his legacy?
I don't know why, but the animation style is not what I expected. It reminded me a lot of the Comedy Central series, The Venture Brothers. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for something that had higher production values, to go along with the rich history of the film. In fact, it shares quite a few characteristics with The Venture Brothers, except for one key component, It wasn't funny. Sure there where little bits thrown in here and there, as a nod to the movie, but lacked the direction necessary to make the plot even minutely interesting.
The worst part about the whole thing is that there is not an original piece of content anywhere to be seen. The first two episodes that I had recorded were retellings of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars Episode I respectively, with several gags from Spaceballs interspersed throughout, to keep things interesting. The original setting of the film has also been seemingly discarded, in favor of adopting whatever location best fits the scatter shot storyline. After all the bastardization is done, all that you are left with is a bland storyline, that is distilled of any comedic value whatsoever.
While they say that it was written by under the direction of Mel Brooks, It seems to miss the boat on his cleaver brand of humor, irony, and wordplay. Everything seems like a gratuitous joke about breasts or asses, with little regard for the context in which it is being said. Everything seems to be taken a bit further than is really necessary, which also bothers me immensely.
Though Mel Brooks, Daphne Zuniga, and Joan Rivers all return to voice their original characters, the magic of the movie is no longer there. I wish them the best of success in the future, but they may have to venture on towards cancellation without me. I don't appreciate having all of my childhood memories tarnished.
If you are still interested in the show, check out the promo for Spaceballs: The Animated Series:
This just in, Microsoft is drugging the drinking water in their Japan offices. Side effects of said drugging include making delusional statements. This is the only logical explanation for the statements made by Takashi Sensui, the General Manager of Xbox 360's Japan branch:
"Sales have been in an upward trend in Japan recently and we intend to work hard to push this momentum forward moving into the holiday sales season,” he said. “As an initial milestone, we would like to hit the one million mark as soon as possible, and are continuing to work hard to get to this milestone and go beyond.
We believe that the launch of big RPG titles for Xbox 360 in Japan is an important part of the road to success here. However, it is not everything.
The core of the Xbox 360 business is made up of three elements: great titles, the best online service and accessible hardware. Now we have all three elements firmly in place, we believe that Japanese consumers will see what we have to offer and agree that it is the best option available." -- Takashi Sensui via Edge Online
The idea that the Japanese people would consider the Xbox 360 over the PlayStation 3 or Wii is downright lunacy. I realize that sometimes it is necessary to tow the company line, but there is a thin line between PR speak and lying to your customers. Best of luck selling a million consoles, but I am not booking a sleigh ride with Satan anytime soon.
And thus, the Too Human review draws to a close...
Any successful role playing game hinges on the depth of customization. Each player needs to get the feeling that they have designed a character that is one-of-a-kind. This is an area where Too Human thrives. As mentioned in Part I of the review, each character class has its own unique skill tree. The skill tree can be defined however the player sees fit. Most likely these characteristics have been customized to best compliment techniques that the player uses most frequently. When nodes of the skill tree are maxed out, special moves, enhancements and modifications are unlocked.
Further contributing to the personalization of the main character, there are countless different armors, weapons, and power-ups that are unlocked throughout the process of completing the game. Early on Baldur has a very generic look and feel, but as soon as the first mission is completed, the customization of armors and special powers become a large priority. Through this mechanic, players can become more invested in seeing their character through to the end of the game. In this regard, Too Human is unquestionably successful.
Returning to the gameplay, interspersed throughout each battlefield are wells that give you access to cyberspace. In Too Human, cyberspace is an alternate reality, where manipulations that you perform, are reflected in the real world. For example, if the player where to pick up a rock and throw it through a closed door in cyberspace, a door would be opened in the real world. Like most of the game's mechanics, cyberspace powers are increased as the story goes along, giving the player more options for interacting with the environment.
The cyberspace wells don't really make a lot of sense to the flow of the game. This may have been an instance where the designer just wanted to break the monotony of battle, testing the player with a puzzle. If this is in fact the justification, the designers have failed miserably. Not only do the puzzles fail to be challenging, they lack the thought and direction necessary to make the alternate reality even remotely interesting.
A second gigantic flaw in the game design is the liberal use of the invisible walls. It makes no sense to have an artist take the time to draw and render out a part of the map that is inaccessible to the player. There is nothing worse then following what most would assume to be the correct path, only to end up having forward progression stopped by a seemingly magical, invisible force field. This is the new console generation and apparently Silicon Knights missed the whole, if you can see it, you should be able to go there memo.
Though the combat system is a refreshing innovation, worthy of being applauded, the battles fail to impress. Each level consists of the same four enemies numbly running towards you in wave after wave, like a never-ending hive of mindless bumblebees. Fighting off these creatures may seem fun at first, but after a while it becomes an arduous process that weighs heavily on the patience.
Frustrations are further magnified when Baldur's health is depleted and he dies. On the positive side, there is no real consequence for perishing, except for being respawned at the last save point. This normally leads to a boring race forward to meet up with the rest of the action. But that pales in comparison to the irritation that is derived from watching the following cutscene, each and every time you die:
What is not shown in this video is the Valkyrie entering from the top of the screen, flying down and picking up Baldur using the above animation, and then flying back up and off of the screen. When it is all said and done, fifteen precious seconds of your gaming life have ticked away, never to be seen again. Once this happens twice over the span of a minute or so, obscenities will surely be uttered.
Perhaps the biggest snag of the entire game rests on the supposedly, "intelligent camera." The only way this could be considered intelligent was if it were being compared to a freshly laid cow pie. While in battle, the camera is constantly bobbing and weaving, leaving the directional controls in constant limbo and forcing the player to stop fighting enemies to fight with the camera angle. The most significant camera issues are encountered when either climbing up or down stairs. On several occasions, while descending a flight of steps, the camera zoomed out so far, that it became impossible to distinguish between friends and enemies. The game may have been better served with a fixed third person camera along the same lines as Gears of War or Mass Effect.
For all of its ambitions, Too Human was a title that was too ingrained in the roots of the original game design. Problems like lengthy death sequences, a bad camera and invisible walls illustrate poor design, while using archaic design mechanics that were discarded by most developers years ago. I can not in good conscience recommend this game, however I can look to the future and hope for a sequel that fixes these numerous problems. Too Human had potential for success, it just needed to be brought into the next generation of game design.
Now that final judgment has been served, check out Zero Punctuation's review of Two Human:
Remember back to the classic days of Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64? Mix in a heaping helping of Half Life 2 and you have a recipe for some Kickass Kart Shenanigans. Some ambitious modder has taken the time to recreate the world of Mario Kart, in the Half Life universe. I don't know who made this mod, but my hat goes off to you. Check out the hilarious video below, and remember, always watch out for the G-Man.
Ahhh... controversy... what would a game be without controversy. For once, with a life simulation game, the controversy is not so much about the ideas of creationism versus evolution. (Which by the way, the Catholic Church says evolution is fine, but yet still issue no apology to Darwin.) This controversy comes from the people who have given Spore life and EA money, the gamers. How does EA thank you for your patience and your fifty or more bucks? They lie and set limits on the game YOU just PAID for. There are two separate controversies that have the PC gaming community in an uproar, one is the limit of installing the game only three times and the other is an infamous manual misprint.
Three Strikes and You're Out!
Imagine this... you shell out $50 bucks for a game, you install it and play for a while, then decide that it's time to redo your machine. No problem... But wait, after your machine is up and running beautifully, you get a virus because you're roommate has been downloading porn on your computer... Still... no problem... And even that third time when your power fails and fries your computer, that isn't a problem... but after that... no more Spore for you! Wait?! Didn't I BUY the game? What the hell? I have to go through loops to get the game I PAID for back on my computer? You think I'm a pirate, so you won't let me?!
Ok... it may not be a realistic scenario, but it could happen to some poor sap. I mean I try to redo my computer at least once a year, so if I have a couple of failures in between, since I'm running Vista it can and has already happened, Spore may only really be playable for 2 or maybe 3 years until I have to go crying to EA to get approved to reinstall the game. So upgrading or changing my machine is out of the question... Screw that... People have been in a uproar over this DRM idea for a while. It didn't start with Spore, but EA did try it with Mass Effect, which I will say is a AWESOME game, and backed down after being attacked by hordes of rabid gamers. But now... Will they be pansies again?
Just Cause We're Gamers, Doesn't Mean We Don't Have Friends!
Now, for me this problem isn't a big deal because I'm the only one who plays Spore in my household. But for many people, there are multiple players with separate accounts that use the same computer. The manual for Spore stated that you could have multiple accounts per copy of Spore. Great! So mommy, daddy, and Timmy can all create their own penis creature! WRONG! Maxis responded to a thread of pissed off users within the Spore forum stating it as a "misprint". You misprinted your own manual!? BRILLIANT! (that was for you Jimmy!)
Once a Pansy, Always A Pansy
What was EA's response to the unhappy people in gaming land? Well at first it looked like EA had grown some balls and wasn't going to back down. But in the end, they continued their pansiness (is that even a word???) by backing down again. But this time it wasn't total surrender, but a hasty retreat back to their fortress in California to plot their next move. First they blamed it on piracy... Doesn't everyone. I can understand where they are coming from. It does take a lot of people's time and effort to make a game, but how much money do they actually see? Instead of going after the people who are the problem, EA went after their loyal Simites who actually forked out the simoleans to buy the game. Not a good business model at all. Sure piss off the people who were willing to pay for your game. Will they be willing to the next time? That's a HUGE gamble. EA is making somewhat of an effort to change their customers plumbob from Red to Green.
They announced recently that some changes would be put in through patches. First, for the Spore playing families, EA announced that while there still could only be one on-line account, there can be up to 5 screen names under that account. There may be changes to that in the future allowing for multiple online accounts, but that's up to EA. Now the DRM issue... EA hasn't quite backed down on this as much as they did when people were pissed about having to register Mass Effect online. MTV Multiplayer reports EA will be putting a system like iTunes uses in the "near future". You will be able to deauthorize a machine and still have your number up to the three or five depending on what EA decides to go with. But still there is the issue of something happening to a computer before you are able to deauthorize it, which happens a lot with iTunes. Even with all the problems, I still got the game. It's pretty cool and hopefully I'll finish the damn thing this weekend and get a review written!
Too Human has been the buzz of the enthusiast press and the gaming community since its release on August 19th. The title had been an epic, ten years in the making, and had been sold as the game that will reinvigorate dungeon crawling, action based role playing games for the current console generation. Boy that is a mouthful. With that many different components at work, will Silicon Knights be able to deliver on the promise that was made so many years ago?
In an interesting bit of storytelling, the main plot is based off of Norse mythology, but set in an age that is far in the future. The player is placed into the shoes of Baldur, as he scours the far reaches of the galaxy, in search of vengeance for his slain wife. His hunt for justice is a long winding story full of action, betrayal, and political intrigue. While the concept of the storyline is interesting, there is a glaring continuity issue. All of these Aesir characters, that are also gods, were viewed as strong, intimidating and powerful beyond belief in most mythological texts. In the game, these personalities were toned down so much, some might wonder who was actually in charge. When meeting after major battles, there was no jubilant victory celebrations shown. In fact, it was the exact opposite. It looked more like a town hall meeting.
Not only were the cutscenes tedious, several looked as if they were never finished to begin with. In most cases, there seemed to be a lack of polish, that would normally be found in a standard triple A release. The most notable issues included a lack of texture detail, audio that would not sync with lip movements, and just downright atrocious dialog.
The game begins with the player deciding what class of character Baldur will be. The different classes are as follows:
- Champion -- Primarily a melee attacker, that has an equal balance between offense and defense
- Defender -- Primarily a melee attacker, that has an emphasis on defense
- Berserker -- Primarily a melee attacker, that has an emphasis on offense
- Bio Engineer -- A weak general attacker, that has the ability to heal themselves
- Commando -- A weak melee attacker, with emphasis on ranged attacks
Once gameplay starts, the player is dropped into a conflict situation, with no context whatsoever, and expected to fend for themselves. The closest this game has to a tutorial is an instruction screen that appears for ten seconds then disappears. If this were a frequent occurrence early on, this manner of a tutorial process would be fairly acceptable. The problem is, when the information pops up on screen, it happens so infrequently that it can catch the player of guard. By the time they have shaken off the fact that they are no longer in battle, the message has disappeared, and they are thrown back into the heat of battle. In some scenarios, an interruption like this can break a combo, resulting in the player being killed. To add insult to injury, there is no straightforward way to recall these messages. Only by exploring the HUD, will players notice the ability to read past messages.
The lack of a tutorial was an interesting paradox. Silicon Knights, mainly Denis Dyack, were promoting Too Human as a game that would combine a ridiculous number of gameplay components, from several different genres, into one of the most complex and deep combat systems ever designed. Yet when you start the game, they throw you to the wolves. When users complained on the forums, the response from Dyack was a resounding, "read the manual, it is all there." While yes, it is true that the complete control scheme is contained in the instruction manual, most people did not pay sixty dollars to be lectured about the benefits of reading, they paid to play a damn game.
Tutorial complaints aside, the combat system is a refreshingly new take on third-person combat. The specifics were discussed in more detail in the preview, but the main idea is that the left stick is used to control the movement of Baldur and the right stick is thrust in the direction that the player wishes to attack. A combination of differing motions on both sticks, will launch a series of unique attacks. When perfected, this can lead to an impressive death toll and combo counts that are off the charts. As players progress through combat, experience points will accrue, eventually resulting in Baldur leveling up. This is where the depth of customization becomes very apparent.
Check out the blog on Monday for the second half of Too Human's comprehensive review.
While you eagerly wait, check the below trailer for Too Human:
The theme of this weekend has been rest and relaxation. Today, I plan to spend most of my day in my favorite position, planted directly in front of the television. Ahhh... thank goodness for the wonders of wireless internet. Most of today will be dominated by playing one of my favorite weekend timesucks, fantasy football.
Fantasy football is not just a hobby for me, it is a way of life. Currently I compete in two separate football leagues, one of which I am commissioner, have a fantasy pick 'em team and also participate in Yahoo's salary cap challenge. Yeah, it is a bit much, but for a statistics whore like me, it is a great fit.
This weekend I have also tried to squeeze in some time with Battlefield: Bad Company, in preparation for an upcoming review. This week, you can look forward to at least two reviews and commentary. Due to the fact that I have analyzed it to death, there will be a two-part review of Too Human, alongside a review of Space Invaders Extreme for the PlayStation Portable. Once again, we can look forward to being graced with another, "What I Hate About..." article and assorted other contributions from the rest of the team.
This should be a good week, and we are glad to have you aboard.
The lifestyle. I'm guilty of this too. I bought a black MacBook and all of a sudden I was overcome with a sense of righteousness and entitlement. I became so smug that any time I had to do something computery I'd say "Oh I'll check into that once I get back to my Mac," or "I can do that on my Mac, no problem." It also filled me with a strange urge to sit in a poorly lit coffee shop all day, wearing sunglasses and a beret, drinking chai, while spamming the appleinsider.com forums with my views on the latest rumored Apple whatever. It took about 6 months to realize I'd become a worse know it all prick, if that's possible, and have since tried to repent by recommending PCs.
Incompatibility. I have a Motorola phone that acts as my MP3 player, ROKR Z6m if you're curious, and sure as shit my Mac won't recognize it. I took the time to transfer all of my CDs, about 200 of them, to my computer so when I was working I could access my entire library and not just a CD at a time. Unless I restart my computer in Windows, I have to transfer all the songs via Bluetooth. Do you know how long it takes to transfer 2 GB worth of information with Bluetooth? I don't either because I backed up my iTunes library on DVD and restored it in Windows so I could do it over USB with Windows Explorer.
It's not just my phone that's not recognized, say for instance a hot new computer game just came out, or software, and you want to play it. Well fuck you, you have to wait at least a year before you can play it on Mac OSX or cough up $200 for Windows.
Boot camp. It goes without saying that Windows and Mac OSX don't play well together. FAT32/64 and NTFS are like two people who should be friends because they're so much alike, but hate each other for the same reason. There are programs out there that will overcome this stigma so it isn't really that big of an issue. What is a big abscessed infected problem is Airport.
I, like the majority of techies, prefer to connect to everything wirelessly. Specifically the Internet. In Mac OSX I have no problem connecting and staying online. In Windows, well that's a different story. After you run the drivers disc Boot Camp spits out, everything works the way it should, right? Wrong! Sure the iSight works now that Boot Camp has long since left beta, and Airport works the majority of the time. The key word being "majority." I do most of my programming in Windows and I do most of my file transfers with FTP. So I have a couple hundred MBs I need to transfer to my site, or something as simple as a single page. The crucial second Airport frequently disconnects is enough to freeze Dreamweaver during a save, drop my mass transfer in the middle, or lose my Internet radio station connection. Maybe there's a fix for this out there that I haven't found, and if there is, for the love of God tell me.
The iPhone and iPod. Sure they're neat little toys but this goes back to the lifestyle complaint. Maybe it's me but I don't think technology should be a fashion trend. "Oh look, I love that Gucci shirt." Should not equate to "Oh look, I love that iPhone." Every iPhone and iPod owner I've ever met has made it a point to exaggerate their usage in public places. Sitting waiting for a meal at a restaurant. "You can just set my plate off to the side. I've got to finish using my iPhone, because I'm obviously typing an email so... I'm important." Walking down the street. "I'm sorry I can't hear you because I have my white ear buds on so I must be listening to music and better than you."
Branding with an 'i'. I hate branding trends. Another example is inventing a compound word but then capitalizing the second word like the English language needs to be more bastardized. Then insulting it further by slapping a little 'R' or 'TM' after it. What exactly does the little 'i' stand for? Incompatible? Insolent? Intelligent? It's a little 'i' though so, partially incompatible, slightly insolent, kind of intelligent?
Simplicity. I rarely recommend people get a Mac. I'll only do this to the less than advanced computer users in my family who constantly bug me when they download a virus or fuck up their computer by playing solitaire and downloading half the shit on the Internet. If I were a professional computer repairman I would never recommend it. These stupid computer users are the cash cow whose teets have been suckled to a dried, cracked, hardened state. "What do you mean I should have upgraded my anti-virus when it said it expired?" Nothing, I mean nothing by it at all. That will cost $100 for me to restore your computer and I'll see you again in six months, be sure to tell your friends.
Simplicity. You might be saying "but Jimmy, I see simplicity in the last header." That's a good observation, now keep it to yourself. There are no unrecognizable multi-pinned connections on the back of a Mac. Nothing really on the exterior to bewilder the common user. However, to connect a second monitor to your computer you need to buy an adapter. To connect a pair of headphones to the iPhone that aren't manufactured by Apple you have to buy an adapter. To connect an SD card to your Mac, can you guess, you have to buy an adapter.
What if you want a better video card? You can't have one. Let's put it this way, Apple has taken the ability to upgrade an existing system and shoved it in and out of your ass repeatedly. There may be a handful of USB and Firewire ports, and a mini DVI slot, but if you want to advance your hardware or modify it, you're shit out of luck unless you go through Apple first. You get all these restrictions at a greater cost than if you bought a more compatible PC of equal or greater power.
IBM to Intel. Technically this was a good thing. Finally the Mac architecture would recognize the same assembly as the rest of the world's computers, though getting the operating system to play nicely will never happen. This may have happened a while ago but we're still in the middle of the transition. Most Mac programs have to be written with the PPC and Intel chips in mind. You have to either write it twice, or write it so it can install on both. Macs have a drag and drop install interface but in the likely event you need to uninstall a program, you bet your ass there's going to be a bunch of clutter left under the hood.
Apple owners suck. I'm pointing at all of you wannabe techies who tote around your MacBooks just so you can use them in public. I'm pointing at you iPhone and iPod owners who have a false sense of superiority because you bought overpriced incompatible hardware. I'm pointing... four fucking fingers right back at myself, damn.
Have you ever wished you could remote control a rocket and aim it at that jerk in HR who sneers at you everyday? Well I have the game for you, Missile Game 3D. The main idea of the game is that you are controlling a rocket that is being fired down a trench. Your goal is to avoid all obstacles that will appear in your way, progressing towards the final target.
I prefer to let my nerd flag fly a bit and imagine this as if you were making the trench run in the Star Wars films. The bobbing and weaving will become frantic and your speed increases. Prepare to have your reflexes tested to the limits in this great little time burner.
My best score was making it 56% of the way through the third level. Post your best score in the comments and compare with some of the other readers.
Try to not spend too much time blowing shit up... Bosses tend to be on the look out for employees that have pictures of rockets and explosions on their screen. Good luck and enjoy!
If you prefer to play the game in an independent window, click HERE
As week 2 in the NFL season comes to a close, it looks like the perfect time to review Madden 09. Last year, football fans were treated to the most authentic pigskin program ever designed. Will EA Tiberon's latest efforts continue to improve, or deflate before kickoff?
The first things that you will notice about Madden 09 are the dramatic improvements in the graphics and presentation engine. While last year's game nailed the player models and animations, this year takes it one step further. Ridiculously proportioned players of the Madden 06-07 era have been toned down yet again, leaving what some would call the most accurate representation of football players, ever. When this is combined with the numerous new player animations, you will be left wondering if you are playing a football game or watching Fox NFL Sunday.
While on the topic of presentation, one should note that the play-by-play commentary is stellar. Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth make the best pair to host a Madden game since the Lord of the Turducken, (I had to say it at some point!) teamed up with Pat Summerall, so many years ago. General bullshitting between the announcers takes and educational turn, as Professor Collinsworth will take you to the school of, "What the hell where you thinking?" It is actually quite neat to see the last play broken down, complete with telestrator and commentary on the mistakes made. Jaws will hit the floor when people see how accurate and fluid the analysis is delivered. These are the kind of touches that bring the game to life.
One feature to get a huge push this season is the environmental effects. For the first time ever, weather will make a significant impact on the outcome of a game. Strong wind will seriously effect the flight of the ball, rain will slow down the action on the field and torrential downpours will leave most receivers, well... out in the cold. Not only does the weather effect gameplay, it sets the tone for the entire game.
This year's other major addition is the Madden IQ. This will test your skills as a game progresses, and adjust the AI accordingly. Major frustrations of the past will melt away, as you realize that every single game, you stand a legitimate chance at winning. Many will use this to level the playing field, when competing against friends of an unequal skill level.
Speaking of multiplayer, Madden 09 once again delivers the one of strongest online offering available. Matchmaking with friends and family is simple, and under most circumstances effortless. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their new online league features. Players from around the globe have been encountering issues since day one. This may be a simple case of needing a little more development time, but regardless, it might just be best to avoid online leagues until next season.
Though the game is greatly improved from last year, there is still room for growth. A glaring issue in the online gameplay is the kicking system. There was a definite lag between when an kick is made and it is registered on the power bar. Lag like this could rendering attempting field goals useless as a dependable mechanism for scoring. Another nitpicking issue is that after the game has been played multiple times, animations begin to reoccur on a frequent basis. Lastly, the feature that allows players to rewind time to redo plays, needs to go. It is a cheap gimmick that was unnecessary to begin with.
While not perfect, with the return of series staples like franchise and superstar modes, Madden 09 is once again the king of the gridiron. Any sports fan owes it to themselves to get their hands on the most comprehensive football experience to date.
Below is a trailer for Madden 09:
Think back to the film The Bad News Bears. Now, pump those rotten little bastards full of steroids, steal their baseball bats, and hand out an assortment of machine guns and heavy artillery. Welcome to the world of Battlefield: Bad Company.
Bad Company is essentially the "Land of Misfit Soldiers." This special group, is a dumping ground for some of the biggest discipline problems the military has ever seen. When you combine these psychopaths with a couple of the biggest morons this side of Kuwait, and you can guarantee that it is going to be an interesting ride. You play the part of a soldier that has just been transferred into the company, after making some serious mistakes in judgment.
The biggest innovation in Bad Company is DICE's new Frostbite game engine, which emphasizes environment destructibility. Can't find the door to a house? Easy, just step back and blow a giant hole in the wall. Think you are safely behind cover? Think again. With a single rocket explosion, you are suddenly hiding behind a pile of rubble. Over the period of a firefight, entire cities can be reduced to a smoldering mass of brick and shingles. Just remember this rule of thumb: If you can see it, you can blow it up!
Setting another precedent, DICE decided to make their first attempt at a dedicated, single player storyline. So far I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Each of the characters in your squad has a unique personality and demeanor. Even though you can sense a definite conflict in opinions amongst the group, there seems to be a core respect, even camaraderie, that unifies them in times of struggle.
So far, the company has decided to ignore the orders of the United States Army, in favor of chasing down mercenaries that are carrying bars of gold. That sounds like some serious motivation to me!
Our full review of Battlefield: Bad Company will be coming soon. In the meantime, why don't you go play with a grenade or something?
Below is a hilarious trailer for Battlefield: Bad Company:
One of my brief reviews for NHL 08 has been featured in the most recent edition of The Goozex Report. Check it out here! This is the comprehensive site for keeping your finger on the pulse of the game trading community. Keep up the good work you guys!
For more updates on how to get the newest games at the lowest cost, check out The Goozex Report, I know I do!
Have you ever had the opportunity to sink a few quarters into one of the most influential arcade machines of all time? Well I have, and let me tell you, as a kid that grew up in the age of the Nintendo Entertainment System, I thought the original Space Invaders was garbage. Only after going back to examine it with older, more mature eyes, do I see the merits of what made this the breakout hit for an entire generation of gamers.
Space Invaders Extreme is what buzzword marketers would refer to as a "re-imaging of the classic coin-op." This just means that the core concepts of the game remain the same, but the mechanics are updated to meet the expectations of a new generation of gamers. What remains unchanged is that you control a small ship at the bottom of the screen, that is trying to prevent the aliens, or Space Invaders from reaching the bottom of the screen or shooting you. After this point, the similarities end.
Set against a constantly modulating techno beat, the first thing that jumps out is the way that the game seems to have preserved the feel of the classic arcade cabinet. All of the classic sprites and enemies are back from the original, with the same carbon copied, sprite-like appearance. The PSP version of the game is set set against a backdrop of flashy and colorful full motion video, which along with the music, provides a very futuristic feel.
As you start eliminating enemies, they begin dropping items that act as power-ups for your spaceship's weaponry. The weapons that I encountered through limited gameplay include bombs that can blow up multiple enemies at one time, a spread laser that shoots multiple beams at once, and a gigantic laser beam that turns your ship into a baby Death Star. The speed and action is turned up to eleven, as special bonus rounds, assorted modifiers, and never before seen bosses battles, seem to be the icing on the cake.
I can't say enough good things about this game. In fact, I need to get back to it as soon as I can, so I can show that Boss who's... well... who's the boss. Keep an eye peeled for our comprehensive review, coming soon.
Below is a trailer of Space Invaders Extreme for PlayStation Portable:
Last week was a blur. There were several different successful articles, among which was the investigative report, "Microsoft to Abandon PC Gaming?" Also, Jimmy the Greek's "What I Hate About the Xbox," is currently being featured on the front page of BadJoystick.com, as the hottest post of the week. Check it out and rate the article, if you feel so inclined.
This makes the second straight week that the "What I Hate About..." articles have brought around tremendous success, so no pressure right? I won't say who is getting hated on this week, but I am sure you can figure it out through the process of elimination. Also coming this week is the promised review of Madden 09, a first impressions of Space Invaders Extreme and my full review of Too Human. As always, there is the potential for surprise posts from the rest of the team, including a possible review of Spore from reluctant_gamer. You'll have to just wait and see.
In another piece of housekeeping, please note that there has been a blog roll added to the right column of the site, just below the new archive search tool. Among the sites in the current roll is the Kombo.com news feed and a feed for The Goozex Report. These are the reasons for the "Growing" portion of the weekly update. Recently I took on a role at Kombo.com as a news editor, where I contribute 3 small posts a day, on relevant gaming news. My Blogger name is a clue as to the name in Kombo's byline. Check out the site for up to the minute gaming news. (I know it was a shameless plug, Sorry!)
Also, we have been getting support from the good folks over at The Goozex Report. They were kind enough to add a link to our blog, so we decided that it would only be fair to reciprocate. They have a ton of great content there, especially for those that trade games through Goozex.com. You can also look for my contribution to their next post, coming early this week. We will link to it from here, as soon as the article goes live.
Things change so fast, and as the site crosses the two month threshold today, everyone here looks forward to the continued success and the addition of new friends. Have a great week!
Tennis is a back and forth kind of game. It is a fickle mistress that likes to play with your emotions. Just when you start to get your confidence up, it will offer you a bitch slap that will quickly put you in your place. That is what compels me to continue through my failures. The promise of a hard fought victory is the best feeling in the world, even if your opponent is only a piece of silicon electronics.
And so begins another love-hate relationship with a tennis game. Never before has there been a game that is so utterly frustrating by nature, but at the same time so compelling. Top Spin 3 is the equivalent of an abusive boyfriend. It has no quarrels about beating the shit out of you one second, then just when you, the player, are getting ready to leave for good, it rolls over and begs for forgiveness, asking you in that oh so gentile tone to come back. Most will believe that it is truly remorseful, that is until the next match starts and the vicious backhand (the term applies in both scenarios) is once again lashing you across the face. And the vicious cycle repeats itself...
The difficulty bar is set far above all prior titles in the series, but is that a bad thing? In a word, yes. This is not a game for the casual observer. In order to be successful, many many hours need to be put in. A large reason for this is the controls, which are about as user friendly as the cockpit of a jet would be to a toddler. Only after many hours of practice and tweaking of your player's stats, will you see the fruits of your labor.
Some of the new shots have been moved over to the right control stick. Past Top Spin games have never used this analog stick, but 2K Sports have found a way to make use it in one of the most irritating ways possible. The main idea is that to successfully complete a shot, you have to press down on the right stick, which will lock you in the position he or she is standing, as they charge up for a return shot. Then at the perfect second, the right stick must be thrust forward to return the ball.
The caveats in the new control scheme is where the frustration arises. If you inch the stick forward too early, your shot will be weak and hook to the left. However, if you return the shot too late, then you over-hit your shot and you miss the court all together. Not to mention that if the stick does not go directly straight forward, it will follow the direction the stick is favoring.
The best piece of advice that could be offered is to take all tutorials, because it is very difficult to pick up the controls from general gameplay. Expect to have no control of any shots for at least the first twenty matches. Once the acclimation occurs, things become much easier, but until that point, many hairs will be extracted from your skull in white-hot, seething rage.
If the controls are understood, then there is very little else to complain about. Most features are an extremely polished version of what made Top Spin 2 so successful. Among the highlights are a robust character creation, a rather lengthy career mode, which allows for further character customization and development, as well as a new tournament mode offers the opportunity for couch play. With a diverse selection of characters available for play, there is not much more a player could ask for.
This is not a game for a casual sit down. Top Spin 2 or Virtua Tennis may be a better choice for you, if you are looking for instant gratification. All of that not withstanding, If you are a die hard fan of prior Top Spin games and plan to sink a substantial amount of time into practicing and character development, then this is the game for you. There will be enough features, characteristics and tweaks, to keep you busy for months to come.
Then the questions becomes, if you are going to spend so much time learning the new controls, wouldn't be better served learning how to play tennis in real life? I'm just saying...
Below is a trailer for Top Spin 3 for the Xbox 360:
Here is the newest offering in the Microsoft advertising campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. They have decided to live with the normal people, hilarity ensues. Check it out below:
This is a huge improvement over the last ad and the old lady cracks me up. If this is a sign of whats to come, I can't wait to see whats next!
If I learned anything from last week's post it's this: make fun of Nintendo and suddenly all the retards poor out of the woodwork. They begin to think they can hide their shortcomings by trying to denigrate my ignorant hate speak with reasoning that only perpetuates what I hate about them to begin with. Let's see if I can insight the same amount of ire from the Xbox mongoloids.
Smug, "colorful" gaming community. Put in any game that has online multi-player. Now put on your headset and prepare to be offended. After playing 10 minutes I begin to question what little faith I have left in humanity. Apparently there are no more intelligent insults other than racial slurs, questioning somebody's sexuality, and mom jokes. Don't get me wrong, I like a good insult, the kind that makes my ancestors turn over in their graves, but why is it that when I win or am beaten the number 1 rebuttal is insulting my African heritage? I think gay jokes are funny, because when you imply somebody's a catamite it makes them all homophobic. You need to get colorful with it though, just like the homo rainbow, and not just resort to calling somebody a fag. In different cultures being called a cigarette doesn't make sense. Besides, doesn't tea bagging somebody after you kill them make you equally as queer?
Gold and silver subscriptions. You have to have a gold subscription to play games online. For the most part that's fine with me, it assures quality of service and keeps the serfs from dirtying my online experience. What pisses me off is paying for a service that bombards me with advertisements that don't even attempt to target my tastes. I've had an Xbox for a long time and I would think by the utter lack of game saves/plays, it should know I don't give a flying fuck about the release of Madden or NCAA Football, let alone any of the other "street" or professional/college titles. Japanese RPGs can stay in Japan, but I still get to see ads for all of them. Either make me pay for an ad free service or face fuck my eye sockets with advertisements in exchange for "free" online gaming.
Downloadable content. Games now cost $60 for regular titles and $70 if it's a special edition. The price isn't a problem. What I take issue with is most are partial games. You buy a game once and the only content you should be charged for is something that significantly extends game play. Why the hell does it cost $5 to put an extra building on the game map, add a new character, or obtain a handful of samey maps that can't be used in ranked matches?
What the hell is the deal with themes and gamer pictures? Are they supposed to be bragging rights that you have a credit card and spent a dollar, or a way to make an unchangeable dashboard seemingly personal? So you bought the Halo picture pack and theme, congratulations, your Xbox dashboard still looks like millions of others and you paid money to change the colors, you are officially an asshole.
Broken DRM and the online store. This is an argument that has been done to death and I, being no stranger to necrophilia, am pulling its pants down once more. I actually like the downloading TV shows and renting movies. If the content is actually good I like being able to dust off an old game. The serious flaw with videos is I have to be online to watch them, and they are forever stuck on the Xbox 360.
When I log on to rent a movie, that's what I'm going to do, watch the movie. I'd like to maybe play a game until the movie is downloaded and then log off so I'm not messaged by my friends when I pop up in their lists. I can appear offline, but I sure as shit appear online when I first turn on my system.
Why can't I watch the video I paid for on my computer? Better yet, what if I have a Zune or iPod, why can't I transfer it to them, kind of like iTunes but less restrictive and evil? Oh I remember, the greedy ass faces at the publishing companies are trying to punish the pirating minority and decided we all need to suffer. I'm a pirate, yarrrr, and it's only because I have more power over the things I get for free, than those I pay for.
The broken DRM extends the Gremlins plaguing the hardware. Everybody has had an Xbox replaced but the content is tied to the original console and is unusable unless you are online. There is a workaround that allows you to reset the DRM by downloading it to your new console, but I'VE HAD 4 OF THEM and why the hell do I have to do work for something I've already paid for? It only allows 6 items in your download queue and I certainly have more than 6 items to redownload. It's like walking out of a game store and being followed home by a Microsoft employee. In order to play the game I just purchased, the employee has to kick me in the balls before and each time I start my console.
White controller. Nobody has every accused Microsoft of knowing their target audience. Safe to say gamers aren't always the cleanest lot and we're prone to sit stagnant in front of the television for hours on end. It doesn't matter how many times you clean your hands, though. If you're planning on gaming for more than 10 minutes and you don't keep baby wipes next to your chair to constantly disinfect your controller, it is going to have "build up" in the cracks and around the joysticks and buttons. What the hell is in this build up? God I don't want to know and I want to see it even less. At least with the old black controllers I could gross myself out on the occasions I decided to clean them and not every other time I play.
The solution is always the same, more money. Spend more money and get a black console, or the black controller, or some space age finger crap repellent. Spend more money and get a controller condom that limits the build up to the places it's exposed to your hands. Shit, I'm currently under the impression if you rub money on herpes it'll be cured. The more money you use the sooner it's gone.
Cats, either you love them, or you hate them. I fall on the hate side of the fence. Due to a bad experience as a child, I have developed a general distrust of all felines and thus, have the urge to drop-kick them at every opportunity. So the other day when my wife showed me this goofy little game, I was instantly hooked. Kitten cannon is my new distraction of choice.
Kitten cannon is exactly is exactly as it sounds. You have a big cannon and it is loaded with a litter of newborn kittens. The idea of the game is to shoot the kittens as far as possible. Now it is not all just fun and games, there will be obstacles such as spikes and Venus flytraps, that will attempt to stop the progression of the the molting meat bullet (yeah, kinda dark... I know.) To aid you, there are bombs, rockets and trampolines that will jettison your kitten high into the air.
Try to beat my wife's high score of over 2000. I know I can't. Leave your best score in the comments for others to try to beat!
As always, remember to be careful and play the games responsibly...