Friday, July 29, 2011

Tough Love: I'd Feel Sorry For Nintendo If They Were Smarter...

Call me crazy, but it looks as if history is repeating itself, this time a bit louder. The last time Nintendo tried to capitalize on the 3D "trend", we ended up with the Virtual Boy, an interesting yet flawed device that tanked because it was too unwieldy, initially too expensive and only had a handful of monochrome titles released with few others cancelled or shipped out in small quantities. It landed in the discount bins at rental shops like Blockbuster and retail stores and is now a rather cool collectible that showed Nintendo does indeed make the occasional mistake. Flash forward to this week's news that the 3DS is getting a 32% price chop (which resulted in Nintendo's stock dropping by 21% as of this writing) and yes, thanks to a number of high profile game delays and cancellations, it's a case of here we go again... almost.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

See You At PopRally!

It's going to be a SUPER BUSY day today, between a few press meetings (Bethesda and D3Publisher, sorry EA - I had to drop someone today and you lost the coin toss!), then it's off to
MoMA to help the KillScreen guys out with tonight's Arcade event at PopRally. I'll be manning the LIMBO station starting at 10PM until 11:30, so if you're in the area, drop by and say hi! If I can, I'll take some photos and post them tomorrow or around the weekend. I still have Call of Juarez: The Cartel and Captain America reviews to complete (among other things...)

Random Game of the Week: FOTONICA

Indie game development is all the rage these days to the point that it's changed the way games are made and marketed (some would say for the worse in the long run, but that's another article for another time). I often play way too many of these when I should be doing more important things, but it's always great to discover buried treasures before they get uncovered by the usual suspects and dragged out into the sunlight for all to play as some sort of next big thing. Anyway, Santa Ragione's spectacular FOTONICA was recommended by a friend and I'm glad I took his advice. It's a simple, one button game with a stylized look and fast-paced, but easy to grasp gameplay you'll want to experience for yourself. PC and Mac compatible the game is also a free download (but there's a suggested 'pay what you want' donation I'd suggest you pay just to support the developer). Anyway, enough blabbing from me - I've a busy day ahead - go play a game today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cool Stuff For The Masses: Grow Your Own Mushrooms!

Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right? I have a bit of a green thumb (sometimes), but one thing I've never tried was growing my own mushrooms. Of course, living in a NYC apartment, I'm not exactly sure how to get started, but my experiments with a few pepper plants are doing well so far. Granted, I've been too busy and yes, lazy to look up the hows and whys and mushroom varieties, but thanks to the fine folks at Back to the Roots, it looks as if I can knock one more thing off my bucket list.

The Oakland-based company has whipped up a really cool Urban Mushroom kit that will let you grow up to 1.5 pounds of tasty oyster mushrooms in a short amount of time. All you need is a sunny window, a spritz of water a day (and a mushroom kit, of course) and soon, you'll be harvesting and saving money on store bought mushroom of indeterminate age. The cool and weird thing here... the growing medium in recycled coffee grounds! For a mere $19.95 (plus shipping, but buy TWO kits and shipping is FREE), you can either grow these yourself or give someone quite a unique gift. Guess I'll go order a kit and keep you posted on what happens. Hmmmm... I wonder if these guys have Enoki or a few other varieties?

New Trailer: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

UTV Ignition's phenomenally gorgeous, sure-fire winner of a sleeper hit may have been pushed back a little to an August release (from July 26), but don't be disappointed at all. Just go play the demo if you haven't (and play it again a few more times if you have) and absolutely pre-order this one so the fine folks at UTV Ignition can sleep better at night knowing you're all a bunch of hardcore gamers who'll support these guys and their awesome game. Or awesome GAMES, actually. Vanillaware's spectacular Dragon's Crown is also one of their future projects, so they need as many of your gaming dollars to show that you guys want this one as well when it's finally done and ready to ship.

Catherine Is Coming!

Well, alright. Atlus came through and is indeed shooting over a copy of Catherine, which makes me happy beyond words. Well, I have words, but you'll need to wait and see what they are. Granted, I'm still buying the retail version (both of them) at some point because I'm crazy like that, but I'll be diving into the review copy as soon as it arrives and getting it done up as quickly as possible. Thanks much, guys!

Become Part Of Gaming History - Support the Videogame History Museum!

Now I wish I REALLY had a million dollars to spend. Some friends of mine who are supremely serious about game history (well, because they're part of it) have a wonderful project going to fund an actual museum devoted to preserving all sorts of games and game goods from the beginnings of the hobby up to today's games. Check out the project link and video HERE and absolutely DONATE (there are some awesome options that can get you some cool swag if that's your thing). The team needs $30,000 by September 1, 2011 in order to make this happen and they're currently at $9,475. Again, check out the link and let's make this happen!

Instead Of An Evil Dead 4, Why Not A...

...remake of the 1970 horror flick Equinox, which can indeed be seen as a prequel of sorts to the Evil Dead films? Hell, it definitely inspired Sam Raimi and I'm crazy enough to see an influence or two in a few other horror films such as Phantasm and The Gate (but I could be wrong). Not to second guess anyone involved in the project, but I'd personally prefer Bruce Campbell to play something er, closer to his age range and not attempt to prance around like Harrison Ford in that last Indiana Jones flick (aided by stuntmen and CG work where necessary). OK, maybe I was a wee bit too influenced by Bubba Ho-Tep (see it if you haven't - it's weird and insanely funny) in judging Mr. Campbell's current state (that Old Spice ad campaign from a few years back shows he still has it going on). Nevertheless, I just don't want any of the crazier fans to get their hopes up and think there's going to be a NEW trilogy of Evil Dead films with the new one kicking things off. After all, the movies DID inspire quite a few Duke Nukem quotes and we all know what happened when HE came back recently (and a few too many years late for some folks)...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gallery: GoldenEye: Reloaded

While previewing the revamped GoldenEye 007 on the Wii last year at an Activision event here in NYC, I asked one of the Eurocom guys if PS3 and 360 owners would ever get to see how great the game was on an HD console. While I forget the EXACT answer I'd gotten, it certainly wasn't "No", which was indeed a good sign. Flash forward less than a year later and *boom!*, here it is: GoldenEye: Reloaded, a beefed up new version (NO, it's not a straight port) that features even better visuals and a few new game modes. Check out more screens below the jump.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aliens: Infestation Headed to Nintendo DS This Fall (Way To Go,WayForward!)

Just when you thought the Nintendo DS was going to roll over and die an unceremoniously dull and quiet death thanks to Nintendo pushing the 3DS hard as the next big thing, there's a ray of light that pokes through (well, BLASTS through) and shows everything is just peachy (for the moment). Sega has announced that Aliens: Infestation is headed to the portable this September. WayForward Technologies with a little help from Aliens: Colonial Marines developer Gearbox Software are taking the hugely popular film franchise on what's looking to be a wild retro ride that could be the best portable Aliens game to date.

Given that there haven't been too many good Alien or Aliens games on a handheld, that's really not saying much to some of you out there. On the other hand, if you know WayForward's stunning 2D work on the Game Boy Advance and DS (Their Contra reboot was phenomenal) as well as the upcoming BloodRayne: Betrayal, you know you're in for a superior firepower-packed instant classic. Hell if the DS IS going to go out soon, it's absolutely going to go out with a nuclear bang. I can't wait to see how this one's turned out.

Official game Info below the jump - I'm off to warm up my DS from its too long hypersleep...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Captain America: Super Soldier

Platform: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

Developer: Next Level Games

Publisher: Sega

# of Players 1

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: B

As far as this year's crop of licensed superhero movie games go, Captain America; Super Soldier comes out on top as the most enjoyable. Brandon Gill and the team at Next Level Games (working with a no-nonsense script from Marvel writer Christos Gage) have cooked up a game that packs in exploration, excellent combat sequences, tons of collectibles and a timing-based navigation system that's refreshing as well as rewarding. A few technical issues drag the fun down a notch, but overall, this is one of those games that's hard to put down once you start playing. Granted, if you're one of those folks who wants a "Game of the Year" contender in EVERY title you play, you'll probably find the game lacking in a few areas. On the other hand, for what it is, Cap gets the job done in a solid no frills manner that's well worth the price point.

Mega Man Legends 3 Officially Dead (OR: Well, If You'd Listened to Me, It Might Not Be...)

Dear Capcom, The next time you have the bright idea to complete a trilogy a few years too late, try publishing HD versions of the first two Legends games (and Tron Bonne's adventure) on a DISC (PS3/360 and hell, maybe even Wii and PC), then use the profits from THAT to fund the new game, which SHOULD have also been on a console and not a 3DS exclusive.

I think the project was doomed from the start because it was going to be on a system with a fraction of the user base the original PS1 had. That and introducing gamers who may have missed out on the original games to the world and characters is always a LOT better than dropping a sequel onto a new system where more than half the people who might pick it up have never heard of (or played) the other titles. You DO know that the PS1 games fetch a TON of real money on auction sites, right? Ah well... live and learn, I suppose. RIP MML3!

BloodRayne: Betrayal Gameplay Trailer + New Screens

New screens (below) plus a mere 44 seconds of beautiful, bloody side-scrolling (and surprisingly, only T-rated!) bliss thanks to WayForward Technologies and Majesco. Reinventing the sexy vampire killing machine as a slick looking retro arcade style slicer was a genius move and these days almost no one does a better game of this type than WayForward. August can't come soon enough, I say. Now about getting this thing on a DISC (as well as the usual download for the couch-bound sun haters out there)... THAT would make me a happier camper indeed...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bastion Launch Trailer (YES, You NEED This Game!)

Lovely and now available on Xbox Live Arcade, it's Supergiant Games' RPG masterpiece ready for your approval. It's also coming to Windows later this year (and hopefully on a disc as well as download so more people can play this gem). From the rich visuals to the innovative voice narration (it's pretty darn genius), this one is an instant classic that demands multiple replays. I'd love to see this on the PS3 and Vita as well, but I guess we'll see how it does sales-wise, right?

Tomb Raider: Making Of "Turning Point" Video

Eidos and Crystal Dynamics' upcoming reboot is looking quite stellar. With a younger Lara, new "survival action" gameplay and scary cinematic moments galore, this was one of the games of E3 that some of us longtime Tomb Raider fans have waited for. Here's a peek at some behind the scenes stuff (just in case you were curious as to how these game cinemas are created). Square Enix has quite a nice set of worldwide developed AAA games this year that makes them far more than just the guys behind Final Fantasy...

Oh - in case you still haven't seen it, the full Turning Point trailer is below.

Preview/Gallery Update: Dark Souls

FromSoftware's nightmarish, brutal (and beautiful) RPG gets better and better looking each time I see it. At the Namco Bandai event last week, I also got to see see a hilarious speed run through the demo that made a formerly torturous hour-long plus replay after replay session under normal hands get us to a pretty spectacular (and scary) boss battle in around two and a half minutes or so. The Namco Bandai rep doing the run had gotten so good at the demo that he decided to show off part of the build that few game journalists had actually made it to after multiple attempts.

While sitting there with our jaws on the floor or cracking up at the pack of death-dealing creatures running after the poor armored Templar type on screen, I had the immediate thought that Xbox 360 owners who didn't play Demon's Souls on the PS3 are in for a big, bad surprise. Dark Souls is looking to be beyond hard for newbies and trying to play it like any other game where you're guided through missions will probably lead to a few smashed controllers and complaints that the game isn't at all fair. Well... it's not supposed to be. When your official website is called PREPARE TO DIE, er... what sort of game were you expecting to play

Dark Souls will be in stores in October for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It's going to get ugly online and off - but you'll love every minute of it.. unless you're not prepared to die (and a LOT at that).

Toue De France: The Official Game Coming To PS3/Xbox 360

All the thrills and excitement of the actual race without the failed drug tests (shame, shame!), long hours staying up to catch results in your time zone or chance of heat stroke from standing in a sweaty crowd watching the actual event. Granted, a trip to Paree would indeed be lovely, but in this current economy, guys like me hae to settle for eating homemade Pommes Frites (yeah, they're Belgian, but that word SOUNDS French to some Americans), drinking Perrier bought on sale and playing this game. Thank you Focus Interactive and Cyanide Studios! AND it's on a damn game disc as well - woo hoo! (Yes, I hate download only games... with a passion).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi Hands-On

If there was any doubt that Dragon Ball Z had staying power after all these years, Namco Bandai's upcoming brawler should squash that like oh so many bugs under a hard heel. The game is intense, insane and from what I played last week as their NYC press event, pretty non-stop in terms of action fans expect. Looking even better than the anime it's based on, the game might even get some non DBZ fighting fans to pick up a controller once they get a peek at the speed and visual flash of the battles. Yes, there are indeed quick time events in these fights, but both players can either get in attack or defense moves by being the fastest to jam on a certain button when prompted. The Super attacks are impressive and can absolutely turn the tide in battle, provided you've been beating on your opponent enough so your cinematic blow can get the job done.

Controls are solid, as noted, the game looks fantastic (the destructible environments do indeed get blasted up pretty good) and yup, there are ridiculously fun boss fights that feel like something from a classic 3D platformer, memorizing pattern attacks and all. The boss demo ended JUST as things were getting good, so it looks as if we'll have to wait until October to see how it all turns out. PS3 and Xbox 360, of course.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon

Platform: PlayStation 3/Xbox 360

Vicious Cycle

Publisher: D3Publisher of America

# of Players 1 - 2 (online: 2 - 6)

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: B+

The bugs are back and badder then before thanks to developer Vicious Cycle and D3Publisher of America. Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon manages to be a leaner, meaner, faster and in a few way, better game than its predecessor thanks to tweaks to the run 'n gun formula that streamlines the number of missions yet enhances the gameplay. Controls are tight, the action is more reasonably paced (initially) for new players and for the most part, the addition of online play is not bad at all. Some gamers whose experience with this budget series began with EDF 2017 (and those who seem to think the game ONLY appeared on the 360) might find nit-picky faults with some elements of EDFIA. However, those of us who've been around since the series debut on the Japanese PlayStation 2 and/or love original developer Sandlot's work on the franchise now have a new dev team to moon over because they've taken the gameplay and refined it for a just as fun (and at times, more fun) to play experience.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011 Is Coming...

Great! Press registration is now officially open, so I'll be getting on that ASAP. From my quick peek at the site, this year looks as if it'll be crazier than last, but I really HOPE that NYCC fixes the rather stupid line situation that's made merely getting on the show floor a pain in the neck. We shal see, I guess...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Holding Patterns, Exploding Bugs and Other Stuff..

EDFIA review is in the works (my review copy arrived on Monday) and I'm dealing with some eBay/PayPal stupidity that might cost me some money if they don't act fast in dealing with the idiot who tried to scam me (but failed miserably)... That's all I'll say about that, so good night (grrrr).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Official Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Survival Guide

OK, I was going to print the actual strategy guide PDF, but at a whopping 46 pages (!), that would be a bit too much in the way of overkill. Here's the EDFIA Survival Guide instead if you haven't seen it yet. Simple and easy to memorize. The game rocks by the way - review to come...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inversion: Saber Interactive's Shooter Is A Gravity Defying, Mind (and Level) Twisting Experience

While its first console game (TimeShift) didn't exactly make developer Saber Interactive a household name among gamers (and neither did Will Rock on PC for that matter), it showed off the company's penchant for crafting slick proprietary engines that could pump out highly detailed, impressive looking visuals and great physics with relative ease. For their new game, Inversion, Saber has whipped up an all new (and even more gorgeous) engine that features even more stellar physics that go a long way in helping sell the game's amazing combination of free-fall and free-for-all shooting action. It's one thing to merely look at screens of Inversion and while watching gameplay footage enhances impressions significantly, it's only when you actually PLAY the game that you'll be totally floored by what Saber has created. What's here is sheer design brilliance married with edge of the seat action set in and around a game world where gravity can work either for or against you and your enemies.

Off to See Dark Souls...

Back in a bit with an update from the Namco Bandai event. Inversion should be fun as well and of course, the new Ace Combat will have my stomach doing flips (in a good way)...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

T-Shirt Of The Month (Or: No Nukes Is Good Nukes)

A friend who lived there for a while and made it through the earthquake sent me this from Japan - it basically says there's more than enough electricity being produced even without nuclear power. As far as I know, these were whipped up to be worn during a demonstration a little while back and aren't for sale. However, I'll ask and see if more are available if anyone here is interested.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution "Behind 2027" Trailer

Take a new peek at the game world and watch Eidos Montreal dev team members Jean-Francois Dugas, Jonathan Jacques-Belletete and Mary DeMarle discuss how the environments help drive the narrative and allow players to choose how they want to play the upcoming sci-fi RPG. August can't come soon enough, I say. Square Enix is definitely on a roll this year.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Destruction Trailer (The Game Is Almost Here...)

Yes, yes... the game is in retail stores across North America on Tuesday, but here's a peek at another UK trailer, this time focusing on stuff blowing up and falling apart extremely well indeed. I'll post the awesome Survival/Field Guide tomorrow.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Commentary: Video Games 1, Overzealous Opportunists: 0 (Again)

So the Supreme Court showed some actual common sense (mostly) in finally ruling that ALL video games (no matter the rating) are protected free speech as well as a form of entertainment and NOT "murder simulators" guaranteed to turn Little Johnny into Ed Gein within three seconds of picking up a controller. While it's unbelievable that it took so long, HOWEVER there's a new and more annoying issue that's cropped up. While the ruling DOES state that it's fine for minors to BUY M-rated video games, I HOPE that major retailers such as GameStop and others continue to enforce the ESRB ratings and ask for ID and.or refuse to sell ANY Mature-rated games to underage kids. Why? Pure common sense is the answer.

Save The Post Office - Write a REAL Letter!*

Yikes. You KNOW things are bad when you go to the Post Office and THEY'RE out of forms anyone can easily get online. Of course, by the time I realized I was running low on 2976-E's and went to order some last week, the USPS online shop was down for the count for a day or two. Fortunately, I found a few spares in my scanner (of all places... I guess I need to use it more often, huh?), but those ran out yesterday. Amusingly enough, I'd forgotten to ask for a few when I dropped off some packages because a rather silly verbal battle broke out at the post office that involved a supervisor and some really cranky people waiting on a really LONG line.