Saturday, May 30, 2009

GAME SALE ALERT: Rustan's Shangri-La

We happen to pass by Rustan's Department Store in Shangri-La today. We almost didn't see it but there was a stack of older titles on sale for the XBOX 360, XBOX, Gamecube and a ton of GBA cartridges. The table was in front of the huge 'Bakugan' poster near the escalators. We picked up Ninja Gaiden Black for P500! XBOX titles sell for PHP 500 only while XBOX 360 titles sell for PHP 700. When we were there the note worthy 360 titles are Tomb Raider Legend, Rumble Roses and Prey. For the XBOX, I saw Silent Hill: The Room. There are also tons of Gamecube items. I saw Baten Kaitos Origins and a Donkey Kong bongos game (complete with instruments!).

It's also a nice thing to bring your kids there in case they spot a GBA game that they want.

If you want to check out this sale, you better go NOW! According to the sales lady we spoke with, the sale ends tomorrow, May 31, 2009!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PRE E3 MEGATON! TOMONOBU ITAGAKI RETURNS!

Legendary game producer Tomonobu Itagaki, famous for the Ninja Gaiden series of games on the Xbox platform, returns to gaming with a new team---focused on a new game for the Xbox 360 platform!

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=362921

1UP: Can you tell me who else from Team NINJA is in your new company now?

HM: Well, I can give you a list, but it's probably faster to just tell you that we got all of the leads and directors and such.

1UP: All of them?

HM: Well, you see Okamoto, the producer here, and Ehara and me, the directors. We got Maeda and Sasaki, the engineering leads. These guys are amazing, they put together a brand new game engine in less than a year.

1UP: Does that mean you're coming up with a brand new title?

KE: That's right. That's why we made an entirely new company.

HM: We also got Motosa, the animation lead. He worked with me to create the high quality and quantity of animations in Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. This guy is young, but he's good.

YO: We're also working with Onishi, the cinematics lead.

HM: He was in charge of all of the cut-scenes in Ninja Gaiden. He's also always been my right-hand man. We also have Inamori, the audio lead, and the guys from the level design team.

1UP: Really? Like who else?

HM: For starters, the superb art director who led the character design efforts for Virtua Fighter 5 is also on our team. He supervised the modeling for all the characters. We also have the guy who did the modeling for Akira, Kage, and the Lucha Libre character.

......

1UP: I was told a few minutes ago that a couple guys who worked on Virtua Fighter 5 joined your team. Is this new game a fighting game?

HM: [Bursts out laughing] No, no that would be impossible.

KE: Yeah, we did all what we can do for a fighting game. We have no more reasons to make another fighting game.

TI: It'd be more fun if we made something new, right?

....

1UP: How do you feel about the plans for Yosuke Hayashi and the abilities of the remaining Team NINJA at the newly merged KoeiTecmo to continue both the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises? Do you think they're up to the task?

TI: I believe I created a certain era in Tecmo's history, and I hold pride in that fact. So, if I were to speak negatively of Tecmo, it would be the same as me disrespecting myself. They should strive to do their best, that's all.

....

1UP: Assuming you're going to save the details of your game for the official unveiling, can you tell me what your plans are for the future?

TI: Well, I'm going to E3 next month, for sure.

YO: E3? Not Vegas? [Laughs]

TI: [Bursts out laughing] Both.

1UP: Are you going public with your new game at E3?

TI: No, no. It's too early. I wouldn't mind having a photo exhibition, though. [Laughs] Anyway, I feel it's my duty to make the best game possible to deliver to my fans. So I don't intend to stay out of the game for too long. To any of my fans reading this, if you see me at E3, feel free to say hi.

E3 2009 Begins Next Week!

Expect the first salvo for E3 from Microsoft on TUESDAY morning Philippine Time; the first day for E3 is Monday in the US so most likely the first info out of E3 will be out by Monday evening or Tuesday early morning.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Street Fighter IV in Timezone Glorietta 4 - Impressions

We were at Glorietta 4 today and surprisingly, we spotted 2 Street Fighter IV arcade machines at Timezone Glorietta 4. They had two system-linked SF4 arcade cabinets, where each cabinet only has one set of sticks. When you start the game, you're given an option to play 'arcade mode' (which is open to challengers), 'beginner mode' and 'trial mode'.

(Pictures of the unit are at the bottom of this post, if you skip the impressions).

Unfortunately, the other SF4 machine wasn't working at the time that we visited, so we weren't able to play versus mode against other live players. So I was only able to try out single-player mode. Some impressions:

1. The graphics are not as good as the home versions of the game. The arcade cabinet used high definition LCD monitors, much like Tekken 6; however, compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, it seems the arcade version is running on the lowest possible graphical settings. Earlier on, there was a person from Timezone who was trying to fix the other arcade unit which wasn't working. I was able to peek inside the arcade unit and see the arcade's hardware, which resembled "baby-AT" PC hardware. I suspect that they got a version of the arcade machine which has only the minimum specs required to run the game; it might explain why the fonts in the game are all blurry, the textures on all the characters and backgrounds are low-resolution, and most of the special effects (lighting, shadowing, etc) seem to be turned off.

Either that, or the arcade version has always looked like this, and it's only looking low end for me because I've played the console versions before I played the arcade version.

2. The arcade machines at Timezone Glorietta did not look like they had any data card slots. So it seems any victories / losses you gain by playing here won't be recorded anywhere....

Maybe I'm mistaken about this, but I did look around and I never did find any slot for a data card. It's a shame, really. I hoped to take home a data card as a souvenir.... :(

3. The arcade units had Korean fonts on them, so maybe...they imported them from Korea? The voices are in Japanese, while the text/win quotes are in English. The character names are based on the US version, so Bison is Dictator, Vega is Claw, etc., etc...

4. The arcade stick and buttons on both units were fantastic. I have nothing bad to say about them at all! Very responsive! I had no problems executing combos, supers, ultras, etc. etc. The stick seems to have an octagonal gate; despite being used to using sticks with square gates, I had no problems adjusting my play style at all to the arcade version.

5. The SFIV units are located at the BACK of the card top-up /cashier /prize claim area at Timezone Glorietta. So you won't be able to see them right away; they're not visible to onlookers. I'm not quite sure why Timezone made this decision. Maybe they want their players to play Tekken 6 or their Initial D games instead?

I know the graphics in the arcade version are a far cry from the home console versions, but having these arcade units available in Timezone is an encouraging sign. I hope that Timezone plans on buying more Street Fighter IV arcade units for their other branches. As it stands, Makati is a bit out of the way, at least for me....and I'm sure other gamers in other spots around Metro Manila would love to have the convenience of being able to play the game in an arcade near them. Here's hoping for SF4 becoming available in more malls around Metro Manila.

I do wish that the units would eventually get data card slots, so that players would be encouraged to play the arcade version more. Having wins and losses recorded is a nice feature, and gives you a good idea on your progress.

Lastly, I hope that Timezone would do more to promote the game. It's a great fighting game that has broad appeal for a variety of players.

Here are pictures of the arcade machines we found in Timezone Glorietta 4:

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Other interesting games we spotted at Timezone Glorietta 4 were Guitar Hero Arcade (seems based on Guitar Hero III) and another game, which I forgot the title of, wherein you have to throw plastic balls at an LCD screen to hit enemies. Pretty cool game! It looks like the type of game you could play when you're out on a date or with your barkada. I forgot the title of the game, though. It's in a big, yellow cabinet, also near the card counter / top-up area.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Capcom Japan's Decision NOT To Go To E3 2009.

Here's Kotaku making too much of a big deal of Capcom Japan's decision not to go to E3 2009.

I actually AGREE with Capcom Japan.

I'd rather that Capcom Japan's very-talented-developers and staff not take the risk of being infected with the H1N1 virus. Personally, I can wait for Dead Rising 2 to be revealed at another time. It's not like the game itself is getting delayed.

I think it's just the game journalists over at Kotaku crying over not being able to get first dibs on Capcom's upcoming games.

And besides, Capcom can always organize their own press events later on this year, with much more attention directed towards them, than having to fight for attention at a noisy convention center during E3 itself.

At this time, I think Capcom has the best and most talented development teams outside of the United States and Europe developing games for current generation consoles. It would be a real shame to lose them to H1N1; it's definitely NOT worth the risk for them to go to E3 2009.

Here's another way of looking at it: H1N1 has begun to spread in Japan in the same place where Capcom's offices are located. If Capcom Japan goes to E3, it's likely that they could spread the sickness there, if their employees in Japan somehow get infected on the way. They'd take the blame since they're coming from a place in Japan where the sickness has begun to spread. So in a way, it's quite socially responsible of Capcom Japan to decide NOT to go to E3 2009.

I say it's best for Capcom Japan to just wait out this current epidemic. It's not like they need any MORE marketing for their million-selling games. They'll do fine, even with less (or no) presence at E3 2009.

Interesting Article on Professional Gaming

The article is titled, "Virtual Leagues Fold, Forcing Gamers to Find Actual Jobs", with a slightly (probably implicitly) mean first picture and description:


Excerpt from article: (For the entire article, check out this link.)

Until recently, Emmanuel Rodriguez worked on a stage, under bright lights, amid intense competition and before cheering fans. He was a professional video-game player, and a world champion.

Now he works at the customer service desk of a Sam’s Club in Dallas.

Rodriguez, a brash 23-year-old whose nickname in the gaming community is Master, dominated an international field in July in Dead or Alive 4, a popular fighting game, on the Microsoft Xbox 360. He picked up $5,000 and a trophy for the victory.

The competition, held in Los Angeles, was part of the world individual finals of the Championship Gaming Series, a league started two years earlier by News Corporation and DirecTV. And Rodriguez, given his success and his swagger, was a star. As a designated franchise player, he received a base salary of $30,000. During the regular season, he lost only one match, good enough to be named North American most valuable player.

For Rodriguez and others like him around the world, playing video games had become a career.

That, however, has changed for many players. Video games may be as popular as ever — people in more than 65 percent of American households play, according to the Entertainment Software Association — but the professional sport of gaming has nearly collapsed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

XBX Interactive An Ideal Place For Street Fighter IV Tournaments


We drove over to the Xbox 360 LAN Gaming Place XBX Interactive for the first time this morning. We were supposed to try out their Rockband 2 VIP rooms, but unfortunately I didn't have enough money for it.

Instead of opting to come back again next time, though, we asked if they had STREET FIGHTER IV, and they did. And the second question we asked...was if they had fighting sticks. The answer was, yes.



They had 2 of the fighting sticks pictured above; you could rent one stick for 25 pesos (so if there are two players you would have to pay 50 pesos). I remember seeing this stick before on Ebay; in fact, I think this link shows the exact same stick being sold there today. Unlike the CD-R King stick, this stick feels much more solid and responsive. The stick itself is a tad higher than the one on the Hori EX2, so occasionally I found myself unintentionally crouching (pushing down forward). But a little bit of personal adjustment on my end and I was very comfortable with it already. Even my brother didn't have anything bad to say about the sticks. I didn't have that many moments where I didn't execute an Ultra when I needed to. If they sold this stick here locally, I'd buy one of these, if only to have two player SFIV action on sticks on the Xbox 360 platform here at home. We asked the person at the counter where they got these sticks, and he said they were able to get them from Hong Kong.

If you're interested in visiting this LAN shop, you can find it on Katipunan Road near Miriam College. Since I rarely go to the area, I found it a bit difficult to find the place at first; the best clue I could possibly think of is it's in the spot where there used to be a RACKS restaurant a long time ago. It's right in front of Miriam College and it's very near the Ateneo College Footbridge. There's a landmark very near XBX Interactive; it's a place which sells Empanada (I think it's 'Ilocano Empanada'; not sure....but yeah, the store sells empanada, and when you see that store, on the left side of that is XBX Interactive). XBX Interactive have a sign in front of their shop, but it's easy to miss because it is facing away from the direction of the road; in fact, it's easier to spot if you're going towards U.P..

If you or your friends want to hold a Street Fighter IV tournament, XBX Interactive seems like the ideal place to have it in, because arcade sticks are available as standard equipment. There should be no more complaints about the Xbox 360's default controller, and the availability of sticks evens out the playing field for both Xbox 360 players and Playstation 3 players. The quality and responsiveness of the sticks is much better than the CD-R King sticks; arguably, it's the same level of quality as the Hori EX2, once you get used to the height of the stick itself.

Based on the posters they had at the LAN shop, they've had other tournaments held at XBX Interactive; a Rock Band 2 tournament and an NBA 2K9 tournament. So it wouldn't be the first time for the place to have a tournament held in their venue. The place is nice, spacious, and well-equipped, with several Samsung LCD TVs and Xbox 360s available for play. I didn't count exactly how many consoles they had; I just remember they had a lot of them! Perhaps XBX.PH has more information on the actual consoles, hardware, and games that are available there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Ocean 4 : Middle of Disc 2 Impressions *spoilers*

I really missed out on a great RPG last April; that RPG is Star Ocean 4 :)

I think I've reached the middle of the game now; the in-game combat system is now showing some level of sophistication. It's nice how you can switch characters in the middle of a battle sequence, and how your party isn't 'wiped out' unless everyone (and absolutely EVERYONE) gets killed.

Not that it makes things any easier. Later on enemies will use attacks that are harder to overcome and you have to manage your party's tactics correctly to win. And use the 'food' that's in your inventory to even stand a chance (some food items buff your stats before a battle). Maybe it's my fault for not level grinding so much that I had to depend on in-game items; granted, I did go for a lot of grinding in one planet where your party stays for quite a duration. But upon reaching what seems to be the middle of the second disc, I think I need to do a bit of work with my characters. Since combat is becoming more challenging, it shouldn't be too boring.

The cutscenes in the game are great; immensely watchable and enjoyable. I like the voice acting in the game, and I like how it makes a lot of the scenes pretty humorous, too. There are some cutscenes that are borderline Metal Gear Solid 4-esque in terms of length, but they never drag on and are really entertaining. I like how the plot has some good twists and turns for the characters; it really keeps you hooked because you always have that feeling that you want to see what happens next.

***spoiler***

The game had this really good storyline involving traveling to an alternate Earth at some point near the end of disc 1. Imagine; traveling to other civilizations, if you're not careful, you could actually doom another civilization....maybe that's why on Star Trek they have that 'Prime Directive' and how Federation officers have to keep that in mind when dealing with remote worlds. It's nice to have something in the game that is a bit thought provoking.

***spoiler***

Overall, thus far Star Ocean 4 is proving to be quite an entertaining game. The only thing I'd probably nitpick is all the walking you have to do on some planets. There's a LOT of walking. It does reinforce the notion that the game's set of worlds are really vast, and you won't be able to see everything in one playthrough. The game isn't open ended, but it does give the impression that there's a lot of things to find if you take your time with the game.

Since I haven't finished the game, I can't really rate it because that wouldn't be fair. I will say this, though:

Count me in line as one of the people looking forward to End of Eternity/Resonance of Fate, another Tri-Ace JRPG coming out some time this year. Star Ocean 4 definitely proves Tri-Ace is quite a talented developer when it comes to this genre.

Cynical Kotaku Rates Microsoft's E3 Promises Last Year

I was expecting them to fail Microsoft (like they usually do); surprisingly, they demonstrated how MS actually lived up to MOST of their promises (practically all of them, actually).

http://kotaku.com/5259178/microsofts-e3-promises-one-year-later

They gave them a 'B', perhaps to ensure that they don't get the ire of the other console fanboys; but judging from the actual article, Microsoft clearly deserved a far higher rating for fulfilling their E3 promises.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Star Ocean 4 Surprisingly Like 'Star Trek'

A few hours in, I'm getting the impression that the game's designers were heavily inspired by the style of Star Trek. Human space explorers together with a few alien beings find uncharted territories, investigate, seek out new life, gather information/intelligence...At the very least, the first few quests have that consistent feel about them. After leaving a particular planet it felt to me like the 'end' of a Star Trek episode, and the start of a new one.

I didn't expect the game to be like this, so I was a bit surprised by the game's style. I expected a Japanese RPG. For the most part, it still is.

But the Western influence in the storyline is very much welcome.

The one annoyance I've encountered? Save points are very, very far apart, so expect to be spending hours playing the game without stopping because you won't get the chance to save often. It has frustrated me at some point, but when the story gets going, it does grab my attention. The characters are likeable, and at many moments, funny. A nice spectrum of emotions are displayed by all the characters. So yeah, it's still a Japanese RPG at heart, and that's a good thing.

More impressions soon. I'm still in Disc 1, 13.5 hours elapsed.

Mad Catz PS3 Street Fighter IV Fightstick Spotted in I-TECH GREENHILLS!

News flash! We spotted the PLAYSTATION 3 MAD CATZ STREET FIGHTER IV Standard Arcade Fightstick over in I-TECH (Mr. Dynamic) in Virra mall/V-Mall Greenhills!

Price: PHP 7,290.00
Platform: PLAYSTATION 3
Number of items: 2 Fightsticks still in stock as of 12:00 NN today.

A couple of other stores were also selling what appeared to be a Chinese-made 'Fighting Joystick' for prices ranging from PHP 1,800 (Rockfire) to PHP 2,500 (Gamezone, i think). There were other stores which had this cheaper fighting stick.

We got to take a look inside the box and despite the stick not being the 'TOURNAMENT EDITION' stick that is usually featured on most tournaments internationally, it still has a high-quality feel to it that you won't find with most other arcade sticks. The build quality on it seems much better than my existing Hori EX2 stick for my Xbox 360.

I couldn't afford the stick at this time; got bills to pay and all....so in the end I didn't buy it. I am sure that these things will get sold out quickly, knowing how hard it is to find them here locally. You'd spend just as much importing a stick like this (or maybe more, considering that you have to deal with the Philippine government's corrupt customs practices whenever you import something online). If I had the money right now, I'd buy one of these things without hesitation. Really nice looking arcade stick!

I found a review of this arcade stick, comparing it with the Hori EX2.

A search on Ebay reveals that this stick is priced from about PHP 5,205.35 to PHP 6,208.21 internationally. Reading on various forums online, you'd see that there's a shortage of this item everywhere around the world, so PHP 7,290 seems like a fair enough price for it, considering how rare it's becoming these days.

NOTE: I-Tech has other branches in Market Market and Glorietta which may or may not have the stick in stock. I'm not sure if they do, but if the SFIV stick is no longer in Greenhills, perhaps you can find them in those other branches.

Games for Windows: Requirements to run Street Fighter IV for PC

http://kotaku.com/5256610/street-fighter-iv-hyper-turbo-pc-specs

It does make me wonder....what will SFIV on a low-end PC look like?

Minimum

OS: Windows XP
CPU: Intel Pentium4 2.0GHz or higher
RAM: 1GB or higher
HDD: 10GB of free space or more
Video Card: DirectX 9.0c/Shader3.0 or higher compatible, NVIDIA GeForce6600 series, ATI Radeon(TM) X1600 or higher or higher, VRAM :256MB or higher
Sound: DirectSound compatible, DirectX 9.0c (or higher) compatible
Input Devices: Mouse, Keyboard

Maximum

OS: Windows Vista
CPU: Intel Core2Duo 2.0GHz or higher
RAM: 2GB or higher
HDD: 10GB of free space or more
Video Card: DirectX 9.0c/Shader3.0 or higher compatible, NVIDIA GeForce8600 series or higher, ATI Radeon(TM) X 1900 or higher, VRAM :512MB or higher
Sound: DirectSound compatible, DirectX 9.0c (or higher) compatible
Input Devices: Gamepad :Xbox360 Controller for Windows

Speaking of Space Operas...Mass Effect 2 Pre-E3 Preview Video


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Long Overdue STAR OCEAN 4 Impressions Post

Blame Capcom. Blame Street Fighter IV. And blame Resident Evil 5. We got Star Ocean 4 a few months back; my wife got to about near the end of the first disc but then a lot of work came in, so she never finished the game. I got started on Star Ocean 4 a few days ago. She said she'll just take turns with me playing the game instead.

Yeah, it was hard to get out of Street Fighter IV to try out a different genre. In fact, I'm still playing SFIV these days; though I'm trying my very best to get out of the habit. Street Fighter IV is too addicting, particularly thanks to the solid netcode for the game on Xbox Live. Note: I also have the same game for the Playstation 3, but my online experience with Street Fighter IV on the Playstation Network has been dodgy at best. I've had more disconnections and laggy games for Street Fighter IV on Playstation Network than I've ever had on Xbox Live.

I think I've reached my peak with Street Fighter IV; I'm simply not getting any better at the game. And besides, I'm only playing it for fun. Based on my win/loss record, I'm an extremely AVERAGE player for Street Fighter IV (perhaps even below average; or worse). I seriously doubt I'll ever get beyond that level of play. Don't let the number of 'SFIV' related posts on this blog fool you---I've no plans to play this game professionally. I just like the game. It's fun. That's it. My previous WCG stint with VF5 is no hint that I want to become some kind of fighting game 'pro gamer'. Haha! No thanks! In fact, the experience with WCG made me realize playing games professionally isn't worth it. At least, not while there is no real support for console games in this country. It's a fruitless effort, a dead-end, a path which leads to nowhere.

There's no point to getting better at a game if you're no longer having fun with it. Cue that old quote from the movie Mr. Baseball: Games are supposed to be fun.

So I have to break out of this Street Fighter IV habit and play other game genres, like I always have. The gaming landscape is best enjoyed when one appreciates its diversity.

***************************

And so, I've started on Star Ocean 4. After a few days of playing the game, some quick impressions:

1. The game starts out rather slow, and I wish the battle tutorials would have been done while you're playing through the game instead of a step-by-step by-the-numbers sequence. First time players may find the tutorials a bit tedious, but I say, they're essential....the meat of the gameplay is in that tutorial, and it isn't so obvious unless you play the entire thing.

2. Once you get to exploring planets, that's when the game starts to get better. In many ways, this game tries to strike a balance between what Western RPGs offer, and the unique flavor of Japanese RPGs. For one thing, there are a few side-quests in Star Ocean 4 which can extend the life of your game. They're not necessary for you to do them but they do add a bit more to the game. Later on, you can travel back and forth between planets, Mass Effect style, once you've completed quite a few main storyline quests. It's great to be able to backtrack to previous locations and do all the other sidequests there, to complete the entire game.

3. The maps for each planet feel huge, vibrant, and alive. The one flaw of Mass Effect which I recall is that most of the planets you can visit are all bare, and usually there's only one base with a tiny maze map / mini-mission considered as a 'sidequest area' for you to complete. With Star Ocean 4, the emphasis is still on the main quest, as it is with most Japanese RPGs, but you do get a sense of how 'large' each explorable location on each planet is. You're never going to have the same experience like in Mass Effect where usually it's just one tiny spot on the map which really matters on the entire planet. At the very least, you get to visit what feels like a small 'country' on each world, with a few towns, some locations, dungeons, and treasures to find. The game never feels like it was 'rushed' to completion by the developers because each world feels well planned out. You never get lost, and you'll never find yourself bored; particularly because the battles are avoidable (not random) and when you do get in a fight, you have to put some effort in and not just pick actions from a menu.

4. On the topic of action, it's nice to be able to switch between characters during fights. You can actually PAUSE the action and pick the guy you want, set up tactics, use special skills etc. It's a great blend of real-time and 'turn-based' gameplay (if you could even call it that). As always (with most Japanese made games), great animation work on the characters and really flashy effects make each fight worth playing through.

5. Regarding the storyline, there's a lot of good moments in the game even early on, and it's a good mix of serious scenes, drama, and humor. For the most part, I find the characters likeable (so far). Their designs are also well thought out; I wonder if we'll ever see cosplayers dress up like the characters in Star Ocean 4? Because their costumes are pretty unique and not too weird (not too many zippers, not too androgynous, etc.)

So far, I find myself looking forward to what happens next with the storyline while I'm playing the game, and that's a good thing. It wouldn't be fair to say it's a 'great' game just yet; that would best be judged when I've completed it.

But just on Disc 1 so far and the game feels 'massive' enough...there's a lot to do in the game. You can obssess over item receipes, finishing 'delivery' quests for shops, and many others, and you can do this on and off since you can revisit previous locations/planets...plus all those little sidequests....yup, it looks like Tri-Ace really put a ton of effort in this game. Let's see if it will be one of the best.

Current list of 'best JRPGs' on Xbox 360:

1. Lost Odyssey - I enjoyed this a lot because of the likeable characters, the 'situations' that the game puts players through....and the incredible ending. The best one I've seen in YEARS. The best one since Final Fantasy SIX!

2. Tales of Vesperia - I didn't play this but my wife did, and I trust her judgment on it. I did occassionally watch and was always impressed by the incredible amount of voicework and character 'scenes' in the game which made it feel like playing through an entire season of an anime series.

Will Star Ocean 4 join this prestigious list?

PS3 Slim Images Posted on Kotaku. Fake?

Looks dodgy, but who knows. E3 is coming. So all these crazy rumors/faked(?) pictures start coming out right about now.

http://kotaku.com/5253475/are-these-the-first-pics-of-the-ps3-slim

Source where Kotaku found these: http://gamecolumn.blog17.fc2.com/blog-entry-3136.html








Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Fable 2 DLC, or Hinting at Fable 3?

Saw this story on Kotaku today, and then I watched this video (note: This contains SPOILERS! If you're planning to buy the latest DLC, stop reading right now). It seems to hint at a future game...or DLC? Whichever the case, it impresses me that Fable II's DLCs have added voice acting. Usually these things are just tacked on to existing games. Good for Molyneux and Co. to actually put in more effort than usual.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On The Rampant Metal Gear Solid 4 for Xbox 360 Rumors.

This rumor is everywhere right now on the 'net, and a lot of people are expecting this to be announced at E3 this year. Here's my position on it:

1. I don't really care - It's too late for the game to be released on the Xbox 360. It has had enough time released on the Playstation 3 and I think by this point in time everyone who wants to play the game has already bought it for the PS3.

If it were to be released for the Xbox 360, it would just be something that MS would add to their bullet point of exclusives stolen from the Sony lineup; but I don't think it would have that much of a drastic effect on the battle between Microsoft and Sony.

2. I still think it's unlikely to happen - despite all the rumors online, it just feels too much of an insignificant game to be released at this point in time. As I already mentioned, most people who want this game already got it somehow, for their PS3s. It wouldn't be as big a 'megaton' as, say, the announcement of FFXIII for the Xbox 360 in the US. I think it would not yield that much hype as it originally did for the Playstation 3. In other words, a simultaneous release of a major game franchise would be a bigger deal than a delayed release like this one. It won't get too much attention from the press, I'm sure of it, because it's a game they already played a year ago. And in the end, sometimes, it's the hype produced by any particular game, that makes it a success in the market.

I'm sure there's going to be countless articles written after the release of MGS4 on Xbox 360 (if it does happen) overanalyzing why the game didn't do well on the Xbox 360, or how the fans for the MGS series are all on Playstation 3....opinions which, quite frankly, are all wrong. It won't sell on the Xbox 360 not because the fans are all on the PS3---it's because all the gamers who really wanted the game already bought it a year ago. Why would they buy it again? To savor possibly 20 minutes of extra cutscenes? But don't go blaming the Xbox 360 player base when MGS4 for the Xbox 360 does poorly in the market.

This is like Virtua Fighter 5 suddenly being released for the Xbox 360 (and stories being told about why the game didn't sell on the Xbox 360), all over again....

Apple's Counter-Ad to Microsoft's 'Laptop Hunters' Just Reeks Of Fail

To watch Apple's counter-ad to the 'Laptop Hunters' series of ads, click here:
http://www.engadget.com/2009/05/13/video-apple-responds-to-microsofts-laptop-hunters/

That ad just reeks of fail, in more ways than one.

Regarding viruses on PC: Responsible computer use/internet surfing and ample prevention meausres can protect you quite easily from viruses on Windows. And its not like Macs are completely free from viruses, either.

Crashing/Reliability: Did the ones who wrote this ad use Windows 95? This is not really much of a problem these days, with Windows XP, Windows Vista or the upcoming Windows 7. The ones who usually experience these issues usually have bad memory modules that are already several years old.

Mac laptops are also not known to be reliable pieces of hardware. If you're aware of the Xbox 360's 3RL/RROD issue, did you know that the solution to 3RL/RROD originally came from people who repaired Mac laptops? The well-known "Heat Gun Fix" for the Xbox 360 was actually thought of by people who dealt with the same problem which existed with Mac laptops.

So those Mac laptops may not last too long, given all the heat those things generate.

Headaches: This is relative to each user; with each new generation of Windows, it's becoming much easier to use. Again, perhaps the ones making the ad are still basing their facts on Windows 95.

One thing that wasn't mentioned:

PRICE: This is where Apple/Mac always loses. Every time. I was able to get my wife a decent, powerful laptop for only PHP 28.5K (decent and powerful enough for software development and mundane office work, at least). The lowest end / second hand Mac laptops start at PHP 50.0K. Ouch. Definitely not friendly in terms of price.

Macs are great for posing when you're having coffee at Starbucks, though. That's about the only thing they're good for.

Manny Pacquiao Sponsored By...TEKKEN 6??!!

Spotted by my brother as we were watching the fight in HD. Check out the jacket of the guy on the left side of the screen.

(Click the image to see a larger version of the picture.)





Namco-Bandai games does own the trademark to the name 'Pac-Man'. So perhaps they approached him and, instead of suing for copyright or whatever, just asked for some kind of sponsorship?

Or maybe the guy with the jacket is just a huge Tekken 6 fan. Who knows. Interesting bit of trivia, nonetheless. I never noticed it at all while watching the fight; the quick eyes of my brother easily spotted it during the fight introductions.

If you manage to catch the HD video of the fight, you'll see that the TEKKEN 6 patch is also on the other side of the guy's jacket. (so both the left and right shoulder of the jacket he's wearing has 'TEKKEN 6' on it.) I've tried to take screenshots of the other patch but it always ends up blurry.

EDIT: Here's the other side of the guy's jacket. Unmistakably, Tekken 6 is some kind of sponsor for Manny Pacquiao/Team Pacquiao.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Punch-Out Wii Documentary Styled Ad

This ad for Punch-Out seems tailor-made for players who have already played the original NES version to try to convince them to buy the upcoming Wii version.

In short: fan-service! Heh.


Prince of Persia Movie Footage

Will this continue the storied tradition of game-to-movie disasters? I hope not....

Jaw-Dropping Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 First Footage

Stunning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Justin Wong Claims He Will Beat Daigo at EVO This Year

http://www.eventhubs.com/news/2009/may/04/justin-wong-says-hes-player-beat-years-evo/

Twin Galaxies: In the International Finals round of the Tournament, you lost to Daigo Umehara. Tell us about that experience.

Justin Wong: I lost to Daigo at the International Exhibition. If that was a real tournament, I would have changed to my counter character. He uses Ryu, and Ryu counter’s Rufus. Don’t get me wrong, Daigo is REALLY good; maybe too good. For someone like me, though, he's just my peer; I know what can beat him and what can't. A lot of people don't know this, but I went to Japan and beat him 10-4. It’s the truth. If someone says it’s a lie I'll go back to Japan again, because I'm going anyway, and I'll beat him again.

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IMHO, after watching his match with Daigo at this year's US Tournament, I'd still bet on Daigo. Justin Wong is a great player, the best in the United States---but I just think that Daigo is more exposed to a healthy dose of challenging competition over in Japan. I think if Justin Wong wants to reach the same level as Daigo, the fighting game scene in the USA has to reach the same level of intensity that it has over in Japan.

Based on data provided by http://www.majornelson.com/, the truth is, first-person shooters are still much more in demand compared to fighting games, with Street Fighter IV no longer appearing in the top 10 games played for Xbox Live (note: this is given the fact that the Xbox 360 is the top platform for consoles in the United States right now, based on sales figures). Fighting games continue to be a niche genre in the USA, despite claims of hardcore gamers online that it is experiencing a 'resurgence of interest'. Granted, it is much better than it used to be, thanks to the release of Street Fighter IV. I recall playing VF5 in the past and the competition online is pretty thin. It was far easier to find a match in Gears of War 2 than it was for VF5. For SFIV on the Xbox 360, I find a lot of players online to play against daily; much more than VF5. But on a larger scale, from a broader point of view, fighting games in general still have difficulty in appealing to a bigger audience. While this is the case, there will be fewer players in the United States who will actually attain the same level of skill as Justin Wong has, giving him less fighting experience than Daigo, and decreasing his chance of winning.

Justin Wong does claim that he is going to Japan to prepare for EVO; perhaps that will improve his chances, but does he have enough time to gain enough playing experience to beat Daigo? I seriously doubt it. Good luck to both competitors, nonetheless.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tekken 6 Gamers Day Preview from G4TV

Capcom's E3 Games Lineup

Eagerly looking forward to this one:

http://www.capcom-unity.com/kramez/blog/2009/05/06/capcom_and_you_at_e3_2009

E3 -- aka the Electronic Entertainment Expo -- is fast approaching. "What's that?" you may ask. "Why the hell should I care?" you may shrug. If you had either of these responses, you've accidentally come to Capcom Unity on the way to finding either sports scores or porn or both, so move right along, quit wasting our bandwidth. For the rest of ya, you know exactly what this means: crazy amounts of games invading the LA Convention Center from June 2 through the 4th.

Now, onto the even better news: some of you will be hanging out with us at the show! Last year, we hosted 30 members of Capcom Unity at out teeny-tiny E3 booth and we'll be doing the same this year. If you live in the greater Los Angeles area or plan on being there on June 4th, watch Unity over the coming weeks to find out how you can score a pass to the show, meet Seth, Shawn, Christian and I and hang out in our massive 5,000 sq.ft. booth in order to check out our upcoming games long before they're available. You're welcome!

At the show, Capcom will be focusing on the following games:

Dark Void (PS3, 360, PC)

Lost Planet 2 (currently 360, PC)

Dead Rising 2 (will be "behind closed doors")

Spyborgs (Wii)

Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles (Wii)

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (PSP)

Marvel vs Capcom 2 (digital release for PS3, 360)

Fate Unlimited Codes (digital PSP release)

Street Fighter IV (PC)

Bionic Commando (PC)

Mega Man Star Force 3 (DS)

Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil (Wii)

Capcom Mystery Game #1 (playable in booth!)

Capcom Mystery Game #2 (announced at a press conference!)

plus games from Capcom's mobile group, Capcom Interactive!

Getting Game Footage

I tried to get SF4 online play footage via webcam; the quality was so horrible that I can't imagine how much worse it would look if I uploaded it to youtube!

I really should find myself a way to capture HD game footage....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Reviewer Ownage - Eurogamer Embroiled In Controversy

Another example of how you can't always trust game review sites, even those who seem to already have a good reputation:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=360734

The game? Darkfall Online.

Eurogamer posted their review of the long thought to be vapourware MMO this afternoon and it has received one of the lowest scores ever given to a game by Eurogamer.

Ive just come across this little gem on the Darkfall forum from one of the developers and he claims that the reviewer did not play more than 2 hours of the game...and most of those two hours were spent on character creation.

Now im normally one to defend Eurogamers usually excellent reviews, but even not having played the game, it reads like a poorly written fanboy rant. The review now has over 300 comments with many of them pointing out the factual errors they allege the review contains.

How many on GAF have actually played the game? Is the review accurate? Is it fair to review an MMO based on only 2 hours of play? Hell, should game sites bother to review them at all?

***********

Here's an excerpt from the forum thread being referenced: http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?t=185060

Just the facts:

Darkfall scores a 2 out of a possible 10. Reviewers hardly played the game based on the server logs.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/darkfall-online-review

Eurogamer’s MMO Editor came to me over a month ago and asked for 2 accounts to review Darkfall which they promptly received. Today, more than a month later they came out with their long awaited review and we REALLY flunked it would seem. Darkfall got 2/10.

2/10 according to the Eurogamer scoring policy means: Avoid at all costs etc. You can find the scoring policy here:


http://www.eurogamer.net/scoring_policy.php

Scroll down to 2 and see how much this guy hated Darkfall and how strongly Eurogamer prompts everyone to avoid it at all costs.

The MMO editor warned me personally about the bad review on the way, and I asked him to give us some consideration and get another reviewer on the case since 2/10 is the lowest review they’ve ever given, and Darkfall’s reviews so far have been mostly good ones. It sounded very unfair to me and I appealed its publication. Not even the harshest critics of the game or the trolls on various forums would give it that low a score. This is a niche game we explained and perhaps the reviewer’s play-style was completely different and he was maybe the wrong kind of person to review the game. Darkfall isn’t for everyone after all, and having someone who can’t handle this kind of game write the review would be unfair both to the game and to Eurogamer readers. You can’t use the same tool for every job. Eurogamer’s MMO editor refused and basically said that he carefully selected a reviewer that would be fair to the game and that he would stand by the review. Then he posted the review.

When we read the hostile review by Ed Zitron, one thing became apparent: he had not played the game at all. Eurogamer readers and Darkfall players are posting bullet lists of factual errors in the story. The reviewer hadn't even figured out the very basics of the game before he wrote about it. We checked the logs for the 2 accounts we gave Eurogamer and we found that one of them had around 3 minutes playtime, and the other had less than 2 hours spread out in 13 sessions. Most of these 2 hours were spent in the character creator since during almost every one of the logins the reviewer spent the time creating a new character. The rest of the time was apparently spent taking the low-res screenshots that accompanied the article. At no point did this reviewer spend more than a few minutes online at a time.


For the entire thread, check this link: http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?t=185060

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Ouch!
So how do we gamers best know if a game is any good?

- Try it first if you're not sure (For Pinoy gamers there's always http://www.gamehopper.com.ph ; in other countries, some kind of game trial service should be available.)
- Download a demo of it
- Ask a friend who likes the type of genre that the game is in.

This is a lot more reliable than just trusting some online gaming site. I suggest reading several opinions and taking in second opinions before making any judgment on any game.

Soulcalibur Broken Destiny PSP Gameplay Footage

Quite impressive, for graphics on a portable system!

The Simpsons References 'Teabagging' in Halo 3

Let's let the video speak for itself: