Sunday, March 28, 2010

Retro Nouveau - Why Greatness Never Gets Old

So, if you keep up with the forums (and why wouldn't you?), you'd know that I just got Cave Story on Wednesday but am already well into my fourth play-through of the game.

I've already gotten all the endings. I've already gotten all the items/weapons that I care about. I've already tried all the modes. So why am I playing? Cuz it's a damn fun game! That's why!

This game really got me thinking: unlike MegaMan 9, 10 and Sonic 4, Cave Story's "retro" style isn't actually retro. That's just what Cave Story is. We're not revisiting something from 20+ years ago.

Is this revival in "classic" gameplay just a byproduct of downloadable games have file size restraints? Or are people's tastes in gaming just as cyclical as anything else? (Swing dance and boy bands made a come back in the late 90s, 3D movies are back in fashion, the list goes on ...)

Or has gaming just gotten so bloated that a void emerged for simple, fun games to fill?

I don't have the answer for you. I only know how I feel.

So how do I feel? I feel like I love Cave Story, I loved MegaMan 9, I'll probably love MM10 when I get around to it, I loved NSMBWii, and I'm incredibly excited for some 2D elements in Metroid Other M. Of course, I'm still looking forward to the big budget, online-driven release like Monster Hunter Tri and ZengekiNR.

But that's just it - I want both. I don't think retro has to be "retro." Yes, as a style it is firmly rooted in a time long since past. But as an aesthetic? I think if the content is fresh, the game will be too.

8bit or 1080p? I'm diggin' it either way.

What about you?

Friday, March 19, 2010

I would like some free Mario.

Anyone actually get [this]? Any idea why?

Where did you get it? Via email? Wiimail? Snailmail?

We need answers people!! ^_^


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hunting for the Hunter? Take a Map!

This is a sweet little project in response to the GameStop/Monster Hunter Tri scandal.

It keeps track of GameStop locations that are either being cool about the demo discs or trying to swindle you (just a little bit).

I've done my civic gamer duty and added my info to the map. Have you??


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Imitation is the Sincerest form of Rip-Off


Sony, Sony, Sony.

I loved the PS1. I loved the PS2. When the time is right, I will love the PS3.

But "Move"? For shame, Sony. For shame.

The design is the same.

The ads are the same.

And yet the product itself doesn't even seem to work as well as the already-in-our-hands WiiMotionPlus.
"My first impression of Sony's Move controller is that it has a lot of promise, but it's not quite there yet. But for the sake of this interview, let's assume it duplicates the Wii experience -- nails the controls and they work just as well as Nintendo's, if not better."

~Matt Casamassina, IGN in an interview with Reggie Fils-Aime

So, what have we learned?

Well, seems every gaming journalist with a "hardcore" following thinks Sony's Move is fresh, innovative and fun. I've already read dozens of articles in which the author treats Move like a breath of fresh air. As if the doors to Nintendo's dank, musty, motion-controlled basement have been flung open! "A ha!" they proclaim, "this is how motion controls should be!"

Somehow games with [party in the title] are now fun!
Non-games where you raise [furry little creatures] are now for "hardcore" gamers!

But, that's for the delusional "hardcore" media to think - it seems they will never change. Despite reports of lag and detection worse than the WM+, they are enthralled with the promise of the Sony Move.

For me? I'm just disappointed in Sony. They had a chance to take something good and make it better. I have always subscribed to the theory that "good artists borrow, but great artists steal." So I see nothing wrong with the essence of Sony Move, it's Business 101, for Pete's sake!

But in execution? Well, let's just say that it really seems half-assed. And even the most staunch Nintendo hater has to admit, Nintendo approached motion control with their whole ass. Good night.

Monday, March 8, 2010

RECOM: Muramasa by Gwaihir Scout

Muramasa: The Demon Blade
by Gwaihir Scout (Contributing Author) | Edited by Mop_it_up (Site Editor)

Muramasa is an enjoyable 2D action game featuring cool swords, hordes of monsters, and very large bosses. It is notable for its distinctive (and gorgeous) style of artwork, using 2D hand-drawn art for the character models and backgrounds. The basic premise is that you control Momohime and Kisuke as they travel across Japan from boss to boss, stopping frequently to fight off a wave of monsters, with the next chunk of story delivered when you reach the boss. The story itself is nearly nonsensical, with almost no exposition given.

The highlights of the game are the artwork, the music, and the combat itself. The artwork, as previously mentioned, is highly unique for a modern video game, and combines with the fantastic music to give a great atmosphere to what would otherwise be a dull overworld. Things only get really interesting when you reach an enemy encampment and have to fight through to reach the boss. The bosses are very fun. They are mostly enormous creatures with huge life bars, requiring a fair bit of agility and patience on your part to bring them down.

Now for the combat, which is the only true reason why this game is worth your time and money. Your characters are sword-wielders, and use a fighting style which is inhumanly agile and acrobatic. You can literally perform aerial dashes from one end of the screen to the next, slashing whatever you pass. It's a great deal of fun, and important to avoid getting hit. It's also extremely easy to block, using the same button as to attack, and you will block automatically if you are attacking when you get hit. However, if you block too much or too strong an attack, your sword will break and you will still take some damage. At this point your sword is almost worthless. Fortunately, your swords are magic and will repair themselves while in their scabbards. You can hold three swords at one time.

Here's where it gets interesting: You make or find more swords as you progress through the game. Each sword has its own set of attributes, particularly its Secret Art, which is a special move that the sword can perform at the cost of some of its strength. These range from spin attacks and special slashing combos to throwing fireballs or calling lighting from the sky. These take practice to use effectively, particularly as using them means you will not be able to block as much damage before your sword breaks.

The best part of the game doesn't come until the post-game content. After you beat the game with both characters, you can use all swords with both of them, and all bosses can be re-fought with boosted stats. Whereas before your choice of swords was mainly based on their strength, now you can pick your favorite Secret Arts or stat boosts and really enjoy yourself. There are also enemy lairs that throw wave after wave of monsters at you, including simultaneous bosses. It's a true endurance test and really shows the best of what the combat system has to offer. There are also new final bosses and endings for you to find. Unfortunately, you will have to level up both characters, which can be a chore because they both control exactly the same.

Don't worry too much if you're not that good at this kind of game. I'm only so-so, and I didn't have much trouble beating the game on easy mode. You don't have to use the Secret Arts that much, and mistakes in dodging are usually only fatal if you're too slow to keep your health up. A few bosses can be trouble, though, and you will have to learn to dodge their attacks if you're not stuffed with healing items. I haven't tried the difficult mode myself, but I understand it can be as hard as old arcade games. (There's also a crazy-hard mode if that's too easy for you.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Food for Thought - March 2010

Third party games don't sell on the Wii?
[Exhibit A]

No one plays the Wii online?
[Exhibit B]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just Sayin'

If they put every episode of Nintendo Week on DVD? I would buy it.

Just sayin'.

I just finished watching this week's episode. They are so hilarious yet trippy yet good-clean-fun yet informative.

Nintendo's marketing strategies get a lot of flak. This one never should.

Monday, March 1, 2010

CrashMan disagrees with Malstrom. .... wait, what!?!?

It's true. For the first time, maybe ever, Sean Malstrom has written some things I do not agree with.

Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't agree with them. But let me share why I don't. They deal with Metroid: Other M and the initial trickles of info we've seen.

Malstrom says: "Seeing the end of Super Metroid in ridiculous CGI brings back no nostalgia and actually ruins the ending of Super Metroid (now when we get the Hyper Beam, we will have that stupid saying in our head of 'Mother, time to go!' Ugh)."

Why I disagree: I think the new cutscenes look/sound awesome. Your witness, Mr. Malstrom.

Malstrom says: So what do the intros of Other M and Super Metroid have in common? They both have bad voice acting*. Perhaps Sakamoto should have stuck to text instead.
*Does not include baby Metroid whose voice acting has always been excellent.

Why I disagree: Well, that was genuinely funny. But, we're not here to make 'em laugh, Mr. Malstrom!

For a guy who admires change so much (constantly praising the Wii's business strategy), it surprises me how much he seems to be upset by the fact that Samus now has a voice. Perhaps worse, it seems that he is not judging the voiced Samus as much as he is condemning whatever is not the silent Samus.

Malstrom: "I’m rather fond of the intro to Metroid Prime. In that, no words are spoken. The camera only swirls around to show that you are now in 3d and then zooms into Samus’s helmet."
"The Metroid Prime 2 intro was also pretty cool. All it shows is Samus crashing into the planet, camera swirls around, and then you are good to go."

Why are we striving for a striped down experience, Sean? I feel I am in the minority, but for me, depth is paramount (*cough*cough* Wii Are what?).

So why single out this small difference in opinion from someone I truly respect and admire?

Simply because, in this scenario, his reactions seem to articulately sum up the reactions of a lot of gamers. They are psyched about the game itself (Malstrom: "...keep in mind I do not think these games are ‘bad’. They are very well made. ... these games are a zillion times better than the User Generated Content software."), but they seem to resist and fear change because it is such a well-established franchise.

I can't agree with that mentality. Especially not in this case. It's not like they gave Samus a mohawk and a skate board. Also, Nintendo detractors have been complaining for years about how Nintendo doesn't give their big franchises enough fresh new ideas. How they are "lazy" in how they leave Mario, Metroid, Zelda relatively unchanged.

Yet, these same folks are first to the soapboxes when Nintendo actually does take risks (Wind Waker, Sunshine, Star Fox Adventures and now Other M).

The way I see it ...
Giving Samus a voice only deepens the character and lore of the game. I believe this holds true for any game. Yes, you run the risk of poor execution, and not everyone will be pleased - but you run those risks no matter what!

All things considered ...
Sonic has spoken for years. So people are used to it. So they don't complain (about the voice anyway).

Mario has spoken (a little) for years. So people are used to it. So they don't complain.

The cast of Resident Evil has spoken for years. So people are used to it. So they don't complain.

I can't help but feel the same would hold true for Samus. A few years from now, assuming the entirety of Other M makes the game an enjoyable one, no one will be irked about Samus opening her mouth. They've always wanted to blast alien lifeforms, now they'll just want to know "what happens next!?" after they do it.

Disclaimer: You da man, Sean.