Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Digitally Yours

I would like to talk about a gaming trend that has became more and more prevalent over the years, digital distribution of games. Some say it will spell the end for brick and mortar game shops eventually though maybe not in Japan where they still love their game box arts and so fore.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it's starting to affect me, several of my favorite series have recently announced digital-only distribution of their new releases. Unlike some other fanboys, I don't feel less ownership of the game if it's digital, it's just I would like to have some tangible to add in my proud collection. I do enjoy the convenience of not having to get up and swap discs when it's digital but to me, it's just a minor annoyance I would gladly put up with to own the physical copy.

Now developing games are becoming more costly and putting out a physical copy isn't as cheap as one may think, there are logistics involved and not just the mere cost of writing the actual disc. I get all that but I really wonder for the case of Yakuza 5, is Sega allowing the fate of the series to continue down this road? It's really a chicken and egg dilemma, are you going to able to foster new fanbase if you don't spend the money to put physical copies in stores and promote the game? Rebirth HD and Revelations 2 will sell on their own even if it's digital only as the Resident Evil franchise is huge so in Capcom's case, it's just a matter of Capcom trying to save some bucks by going this route (to be fair, Capcom did distribute Rebirth on disc in Asia region and also give a significant discount for the digital version of Revelations 2).

Yakuza is a series on its last legs in the West, each sequel has seen diminishing sales so it's almost like Sega is doing this just for the fans and not hoping to reach out to new fans. While I applaud Sega (and Sony) for doing this, I'm also sad that Sega is no longer interested in investing in this franchise overseas though it's probably been that way for some time now. Well I guess I will always have my Asian copies and now not have to worry about ugly box art on the western version anymore.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Days of Feeling Dumb

As a gamer these days I tend to be more nostalgic about old games than excited about forthcoming new games. Sure there are occasional upcoming games that get me interested but more often than not, those happens to be sequel to a favorite game series I can care about like Resident Evil or Yakuza. Perhaps it's a sign that I'm slowing down or maybe just a lack of fresh games in the current market I can't really say because I'm still clocking about the same amount of gaming time every month.

While reminiscing about past games with an old friend, it occurs to me that sometimes our strongest memory about a game isn't how good or bad the game was but where in the game we got stuck in. Bear in the mind, I don't mean being stuck at a difficult puzzle or a tough boss, I'm talking about the silly things like missing an important route because the background happens to be pre-rendered or over-thinking a puzzle when the solution was much more obvious and simple. I have had my fair share of those and I suspect I will have much more of them to come. 

I'm actually experiencing quite a number of them while playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the very first time. I got stuck in early dungeon and I got lost a few times because everything is so dark and dreary compared with the bright skies of Wind Waker. While it's undoubtedly a great game (some say one of the best), I reckon when I finally finish it, I will remember it more for the parts I got stuck in than how great the game actually is. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When You Don't Succeed....

There's nothing quite like experiencing something for the first time, that exciting feeling of discovery is just not possible to replicate again. Maybe that's why certain people I know never plays the same game again after completing it the first time. 

I have mixed feelings about this game, better than Ace Attorney series? Not Quite

From what I read, developers Naughty Dog always make it a point when crafting a key moment in the Uncharted games to allow the players to clear that segment during the first try. As top notch developers, they are conscious that with each retry the impact of the moment on the player starts to cease - so dropping the player into a quick time event where a single wrong button prompt instantly kills off the player never occurs in their game.

Yes I was talking about Capcom games (RE6) and also Platinum games

Then you have a game like Ghost Trick where the whole theme of the game is dying and resurrection so you know there's bound to be many retries and many events repeat over again. It's a great game for sure, otherwise Capcom wouldn't have bother porting it to smartphones (then again, this is Capcom we are talking about) but these days my tolerance for retries isn't where it used to be. Maybe I will appreciate the game more once I finish it and learn the whole story with the twist in the end, hopefully it will erase the memory of repeating each events several times. To think my friend used to think of highly of this game and he was the guy that never re-play any of his old games !

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cutting Corner Leads to Disaster

These days jaded movie goers can usually see a movie twist or cliche coming even before it's revealed. We have been trained to the point where the story is unraveling in our head as we watched therefore nothing really surprises anymore.

So there is this Wii action game I played sometime ago called Disaster: Day of Crisis, a Japanese game that mixes a lot of different element of gameplay like gun shooting, car chases and rescue missions - all the typical stuff you find in an action game (or movie for that matter). You play this rescue worker who loses a close comrade during a rescue at the beginning and then decides to quit his job but is thrown back into the fray when the deceased comrade's sister gets kidnapped by terrorists. How cliche is that?


Unfortunately, the makers decides to cut corners and use the same face/body model of the deceased comrade for the one of the lead terrorists. Now I may not know much about making games but I can definitely spot cut corners like these when I see them, it's the exact same character model except with the hair and eye color change. Since the friend died very early in the game, I knew there was a twist coming that he didn't actually die but re-emerges as the bad guy - what could be better that the final showdown when friend is pitted against old friend right? Unfortunately it turns out I was over-thinking the plot, the terrorist had no relations to the hero and is not his old friend reborn as the villain. 

The game isn't as low budget as you might expect, the graphics and cinematic doesn't give it away that this was an early Wii game in the library and the game-play switches up so you never get tired of playing the same thing over again. The Wii motion control is a bit tacky as you would find with most Wii games of this genre. But that ending that I dreamed up would have made the game story a hell of a lot better don't you think? 

The hero can't tell if he's looking at his old friend or his new enemy?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hello Stranger, What Are You Buying?

The Resident Evil games have been pretty predictable these days when it comes to unlockable features after completing the game -  it's the usual offering of Mercenaries mini-game and bonus costumes. These are some of the series mainstays since the beginning and the theory of why fix something that isn't broken is a logical reasoning why Capcom never bother to come up with something different for each new game.

Jill wonders where The Mercenaries have gone on Revelations?

So naturally I was very intrigued when I unlocked the Raid mode upon completing Resident Evil Revelations as this was the first bonus mini-game that isn't the Mercenaries since RE : Code Veronica. All I knew prior to playing the game is that the story mode doesn't feature co-op but Raid mode does though you still have the option of playing the game solo if you like. 

After playing Raid mode for a bit, I quickly discovered it's nothing more than the same story mode with the cutscene removed and co-op mode tacked on. As the main game is designed for portable play, each chapter were made to be very brief so these chapters are now individual missions that you can play separately on Raid mode. The objective of each mission remains largely the same but now there are no cutscenes or loading time to interupt the game-play, thereby allowing co-op play. It's almost as if the main game was meant to have co-op play as there are always a NPC character in each stage but yet it was strangely omitted.

So in the end, it turns out Raid mode wasn't a brand new mini-game as I would expect and the Mercenaries isn't featured in this game probably because Capcom expects you to buy the standalone Mercenaries 3D game also  released on the Nintendo 3DS. Nicely played Capcom, you always know what your fans want (or don't want) and give it to them. At a price, of course.

You wanna play Mercenaries on the 3DS? Be prepared to pony up the cash

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Talking About My Generation Games

Since it's NBA Draft Night and I'm in the mood of compiling my own selection of picks, I thought I shared my choices for IGN Game of the Generation Poll. I loved taking part in these polls and finding out the results even though IGN tend to be doing these Best of list almost every other month.

Now I gave quite a bit of thought as to which three games should make up the top 3 but not nearly as long for the rest on the list. Mostly I just knew the other games had to be there no matter what the order were, most were really early in the generation so no game had the benefit of making the list just because I recently played it. Well, except The Last of Us but I don't think anyone would argue it isn't a game for the generation.

1. Red Dead Redemption - Playstation 3
I wasn't as hyped up for this game when it came out, in fact I patiently waited for the GOTY edition before picking it up and really took my time to play and finish this. But it's pretty apparent this game did everything right even down to the DLC and multi-player mode. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the writing was, now I'm used to playing Japanese games so most of the time the story is just serviceable or sometimes things get lost in translation. Red Dead may be about outlaws and lowlifes but the conversations are never random babbling or meaningless chatters, and you don't have sit through a long cutscene most of the time too.

2. Super Mario Galaxy - Nintendo Wii
Mario 64 was my first 3D Mario game but it was years after release when I finally played it on the Nintendo DS. Let's just say the controls on the DS remake are not nearly as accurate as the original without an analog pad on the handheld. So Super Mario Galaxy was more like my first real taste of 3D Mario platform and the game works so well because Nintendo didn't just do a 3D version of conventional Mario platform levels like how the early 3D Castlevania games were.

3. Catherine - Playstation 3
This was a first day buy for me despite not having played much of Atlus' previous games. I bought this game after being intrigued by  the premise and characters but the only reason I replay this game is solely because of the addictive puzzle/block-climbing. In fact, I wish you could just skip all the evening drinking session because once you played through it once, those nightly sessions can be a chore.

If you look at the rest of my picks, you may think I deliberately left out any Capcom's games but the truth is, most of their game released this generation just weren't very good though Dead Rising is noteworthy exception.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fear The Camera

As hard as it is to make a good horror game, it's probably even harder to make a decent one on a handheld system. Many of this generation more established handheld horror games consist of taking what works on the console and shrinking it down to fit on a handheld system  like Silent Hill Origins. While it's not necessarily a wrong approach, it doesn't set the game apart from the console games with the exception of poorer graphics.

Spirit Camera, the 3DS game from the Fatal Frame series is the exception to the rule: it's a game that honor the series legacy but can only be played on the 3DS. Basically it puts the camera obscura onto the palm of your hands by transforming the handheld to the infamous camera. It isn't very scary (then again most of these games tend not to be) but it sure feels fun swinging the handheld around trying to locate the supernatural. It also deploys Nintendo AR scanning feature where you can basically scan a printed image with the camera and create some sort of a 3D image on screen. 

Finally captured Maya with my own hands
Some fans might have been disappointed that this wasn't a traditional Frame Frame game but it hard to fault the makers for trying to ultilized every unique feature of the 3DS handheld. Hopefully the newly announced Fatal Frame set for the Wii U will be something truly special for the series and the platform, seeing the lack of such horror games on the system.