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About



Oh, hi there. Didnít see you enter. Anyways, welcome to my humble little blog. For those of you not familiar with who I am, the nameís Brian. Iím 24 years old and hail from Findlay, Ohio. I work at the local newspaper here as a copy editor, putting my four long years of college to actual use. Kind of. I think.

For those of you who might recognize me from elsewhere, I work as Assistant Gaming Editor over at Blogcritics Gaming and as Features Editor over at Tomopop. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it because I get to do a lot of cool shit with a lot of cool people.

I've been gaming since the relatively young age of around 3 and I've played plenty of games, both good and bad. I'm continuously expanding my gaming collection, which has become more of an archive in recent years as I'm focusing on collecting older, less well-known titles. You'd honestly be surprised on what people are missing out on in bargain bins...



Other than gaming, I love anime, manga, sports, movies, TV, and a whole lot more. I also happen to have something of a legendary love for Cammy, to the point that I am the site's unofficial official Cammy fanboy. And yes, I do play as her in Street Fighter and do so quite well, too.

Also, I am Chad Concelmo's B.F.F., my prize for coming in first in The Great Retro Quiz .18 - ActRaiser. Accept no substitutes. Not even Aerox.

Contact Info:

AIM: NihonTiger90
MSN: hurricane317 at hotmail.com
Skype: NihonTiger90
Twitter: brianszabelski
GMail: brianszabelski at gmail.com
MySpace: Click
Steam: NihonTiger




Mad props to Ghost for this amazing card!

Great Retro Quiz! Results

Punch-Out! featuring Mike Tyson


Star Fox (winner)
ActRaiser (winner)
Dolphins!!
Metroid
Ninja Gaiden
Street Fighter II
Super Mario Kart


Castlevania
Contra
Donkey Kong Country
Smash Bros.
Zelda II

Nihon's Gallery of Hotness:









(Yes, thatís one of Dtoidís own, Hollie (a.k.a. phoenix-blood). I met her at PAX and she is awesome.)





(Ooooh, I think I found a new favorite :3)

Psst, more here.
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With the VGA nominees announced ... well, a lot of people are rightfully questioning some of the picks. At least in my mind they are, because some of the categories are filled with abysmally weak choices (hi, Best Song in a Game) or are missing out on games that should be in there with them (Minecraft in the Indie Category instead of P.B. Winterbottom? Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Kirby's Epic Yarn for GotY, or any Wii game for that matter? Any semblance of love for the PC crowd?) or are categories that shouldn't really need to exist (Most Anticipated Game, which is already going to go to Gears of War 3 because it's BROTASTIC).

But there was one category that stood out among the crap for ... well, for not being crap:

Best Downloadable Game
Costume Quest
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Monday Night Combat
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

Given the long list of downloadable games this year, any number of other titles could have and perhaps should be included in the "Best Downloadable Game" discussion that didn't make it into the indie category, like Shantae: Risky's Revenge, Comic Jumper, Recettear, Breath of Death VII, Alien Swarm, Shank, Bit. Trip Fate, Cave Story Wii, VVVVVV ... the list can go on for quite a long time. And it'd be easy for me to sit here and slice the VGAs as a whole up for not including one or more of them in the discussion.

But I'm not going to, because this was the only category I really didn't come away with thinking that Spike dropped the ball on. All four of the games on this list are absolutely worthy of winning the award, each for their various strengths. They've all scored very well among reviewers, and on top of it, all four games are in entirely different genres (RPG, action/adventure, team-based combat and beat 'em up, respectively), not to mention among the best new games this year in each of those genres. And coming up with an excuse as to why they don't deserve to be in the category really comes down to personal preference, because that's the only reason I could even remove one of the games from the list. I don't think you could say that for any other category, even the similar Best Indie Game category (see intro paragraph).

As for which one I'd pick? Scott Pilgrim over Monday Night Combat. But whichever of the four win will have very much deserved it, and that's one thing everyone involved can walk away with feeling great about.

Now, if only all the other categories were as proper as this one ...








100 YEN: The Japanese Arcade Experience from Brad Crawford on Vimeo.



During the summer, many people spent their time going to the beach or riding rollercoasters or any number of other fun activities. Brad Crawford, though, went to Japan on a mission: to film a documentary on the Japanese arcade experience.

The end result? A documentary-in-progress called 100 Yen. The documentary hopes to cover the history of Japanese arcades, the stories of those who game there, and how the world of arcade gaming is competing with console and portable gaming. In his travels to Osaka, Tokyo and Fukuoka to check out Japan's major gaming centers, he also talked to the likes of Q-Games designer Bear Trickey, professional gamer Ryan "Gootecks" Guitierrez and Kotaku editor Brian Ashcraft.

Check out the trailer above for a taste of what might come. Brad wants to go back to Japan to interview additional people, including Daigo Umehara, Osaka Electronic University professor of video games Satoshi Numata, spokespeople from Japan's arcade titans (Capcom, Konami, Taito, etc.) and more. But to do so, he needs to raise some funding. Brad's hoping to raise $9,000 in the next three months through a website called IndieGoGo that helps fund collaborative ideas. He's so far raised more than $5,600, and if you're interested in chipping in, Brad's offering a tonof incentives to do so: film credits, copies of the future "100 Yen" DVD, Street Fighter IV tourney sticks signed by a famous but unnamed figure (maybe Daigo?) and a lot more.

So what say you guys? Sound interesting? Thinking of contributing?

[via GameSetWatch]










That, which you see above, is the leaked intro to Gran Turismo 5. Really. It was first up on GTPlanet, but Sony's since sent letters out to pull it down. Unfortunately, it's out there now ahead of the game's release (now believed to be at the end of November ... maybe just in time for Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving?) and I'm sure this video will disappear in due time. So for now, watch it while you can.

So, what do I think? As a fan of racing games and the Gran Turismo series, it's a mixed bag. The intro with the car building footage is cool ... but it runs too long. Maybe chop a minute of that stuff out of it and we're good. And the actual editing of the footage is very tight and looks great throughout the 6 or so minutes this goes on for.

But then, it gets worse.

The new My Chemical Romance song is just ... ugh, really? If not for the fact they're one of the biggest bands Sony has signed, I doubt they'd seriously have this as the theme. In fact, if I could have had my choice of any song, it would have been the appropriately car-themed "White Knuckle Ride" by Jamiroquai off their new album. And as any Top Gear fan knows, lead singer Jay Kay is an avid fan of automobiles. The only problem with that is that Jamiroquai and Sony had a very heated, very public break-up after their record deal ended, and suffice to say, the two sides do not like each other very much. So there's no way in hell this will ever happen and I'll be forced to just turn down the volume every time I see the intro.

The game, though, looks great. Hopefully, when I get my PS3, I'll still be excited about this game and the intro will just be something I can look past as a single flaw on an otherwise great title.









Kinect is out, and the reviews seem to be mixed. Some people love it, other people think it's garbage, and even more think it's meh. But the question is, in this world where everyone has an opinion, who's right?

The answer well, probably no one, but the people thinking it'll be ok but nothing magical will likely be closest to the truth. In part, that's for two main

Biggest reason why it'll do The technology.

Even more so than the Wii. While the Wii took down the button-mashing brick wall between gamers and non-gamers, Kinect aims to do that even more with the "you are the controller" approach. Sure, it doesn't work perfectly, but from what I've seen so far, it has a lot of promise. More promise than Move and the Wii remote combined. Kinect is intuitive to anyone who knows how to move their limbs.

I know, it seems weird to suggest that no controller is better than even a small controller, but there are plenty of people who still struggle a bit with a Wii remote or Move. They still require you to be able to follow button commands on-screen, but unlike a reg
Kinect is out, and the reviews seem to be mixed. Some people love it, other people think it's garbage, and even more think it's meh. But the question is, in this world where everyone has an opinion, who's right?

The answer is: well, probably no one, but the people thinking it'll be ok but nothing magical will likely be closest to the truth. In part, that's for two main reasons:

Biggest reason why it'll do well: The technology.

Even more so than the Wii. While the Wii took down the button-mashing brick wall between gamers and non-gamers, Kinect aims to do that even more with the "you are the controller" approach. Sure, it doesn't work perfectly, but from what I've seen so far, it has a lot of promise. More promise than Move and the Wii remote combined. Kinect is intuitive to anyone who knows how to move their limbs.

I know, it seems weird to suggest that no controller is better than even a small controller, but there are plenty of people who still struggle a bit with a Wii remote or Move. They still require you to be able to follow button commands on-screen, but unlike a regular controller, they also require motion control movements to go along with them from time-to-time. It was easy for me to handle, but my mom, for example, still struggles at times with the Wii even though she's had plenty of practice and isn't too bad at it. But remove the controller and replace it with simple gestures for basic games, and you could easily bring many, many more people into the game. It's actually why I think Dance Central is going to be the driving force behind Kinect for quite some time: just about everyone can do a little bit of dancing and can do the game's basic moves (except some with disabilities, but this is another story for another post), and jumping in on the action should be as simple as watching what other people do and miming it.

And most of all, unless you have ceiling fans, you don't have to worry about accidentally destroying your TV with the Kinect.

Biggest reason why it won't do well: The 360's core genres don't work with Kinect.

Fighting games, sports titles, racing games and first-person shooters. They are the genres which have helped push the 360 to those disgruntled with the offerings of other consoles. They are the genres that control-wise cannot work well with Kinect, if at all, cutting out a massive part of their userbase. And a peripheral that might work for only 40% of the 360's current base isn't going to help.

Why?

* Fighting and sports games suffer from the same problem: they could work, but they'd be too labor-intensive or not immersive enough. Sure, it's be fun as hell to throw hadoukens and shoryukens, but having to do that in arcade mode on Street Fighter? For 8 matches minimum? Or playing Madden but having to run the entire game when you have the ball to move, even if it's in place? That'd be a workout and a half everytime you played. Or you could tone down the movements needed, but it would be a waste of Kinect's immersive capabilities.

* Racing games could work, but if you're trying to relate to a core audience of racers (myself included), holding your hands at 10 and 2 and pretending to drive is not going to cut it. There'd be absolutely no feedback on the wheel or pedals, which essentially kills the chance of having a Forza or Project Gotham Racing game built around Kinect.

* Not only does pretending to hold a gun in a FPS title look awkward, but without the dual input set-up, it makes being able to look to your left or right impossible. Essentially, that limits Kinect to rail-based shooters, shutting out the biggest genre the Xbox 360 has and keeping all those Modern Warfare and Halo fans controller-bound for the conceivable future.

With those major genres pretty much out of the question in their current forms, any real hopes of trying to draw the core gamer to the Kinect are going to have to rely on the Kinect-controller combo being shoehorned into well-known franchises at first. And basically, that makes Kinect a pretty damn expensive EyeToy for the millions of core gamers on the 360 at the moment. They'd probably rather spend that money on stuff like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Super Meat Boy.

Psst ... hey Microsoft, get Rez Kinect out there soon.

All things considered, the Kinect will do well, probably enough to justify working on the next Kinect for release in 5 or 6 years. It'll be around for a long time to come: just don't expect it to sell millions once Microsoft's $500 million in-your-face advertising campaign wraps up.









Every once in a while, I find a post I started writing and never finished. Tonight's one of those nights. So I present, to you, the Dtoid C-Blog readers of the world, one such post, written a while ago but perhaps important because it's now a subject that affects me what to do with games that get major patches/updates. Not DLC, mind you, but fixes for problems that were present in the game in the first place. And this is relevant to me now because I reviewed one such game — F1 2010 — which I may have scored higher if the bugs Codemasters are fixing now were never present.

The original post was inspired by Backbreaker's massive update a few months ago, essentially fixing problems and complaints that dragged the game's score down in a number of reviews I read. But it's still timely, and will be in the future as more post-game patching is done on the likes of New Vegas and others (though New Vegas sscored so highly, it may not affect it much).

So here it all is, open for debate. Please feel free to discuss any part of this post in the comments. I might just reply if you
Every once in a while, I find a post I started writing and never finished. Tonight's one of those nights. So I present, to you, the Dtoid C-Blog readers of the world, one such post, written a while ago but perhaps important because it's now a subject that affects me personally: what to do with games that get major patches/updates. Not DLC, mind you, but fixes for problems that were present in the game in the first place. And this is relevant to me now because I reviewed one such game — F1 2010 — which I may have scored higher if the bugs Codemasters are fixing now were never present.

The original post was inspired by Backbreaker's massive update a few months ago, essentially fixing problems and complaints that dragged the game's score down in a number of reviews I read. But it's still timely, and will be in the future as more post-game patching is done on the likes of Fallout: New Vegas and others (though New Vegas sscored so highly, it may not affect it much).

So here it all is, open for debate. Please feel free to discuss any part of this post in the comments. I might just reply if you're nice enough :p

The Case For The Occasional Re-review

Simply put, the old idea of simply reviewing a game as it comes out and never worrying about anything changing with it is outdated. In the old days, because games were cart-based and because you didn’t worry about the Internet, what you saw was literally what you got. Forever. Or at least until they’d release a series compilation title that might address the issues.

But today, games are patched on an almost daily basis. The development cycle doesn’t end upon the release of a title, and can at times, last for years without much slowing down. Or at the very least, at least between releases in a series.

Sometimes, those patches are small, fixing one error here or there that might inconvenience a player. Other times, they significantly update the game engine or mechanics. Such is the case with the game that sparked this whole idea: Backbreaker’s “Greathouse” patch has a list off issues fixed that’s quite long, and the game was pretty savagely beat up by sites for things this patch hopes to adjust or fix. And if it does so, the argument would go, wouldn’t that affect the game’s score for the better? Is it fair for a game that might be rescored at a higher score to be saddled with a lower one just because of issues they’ve since fixed?

The Slippery-Slope Argument

The slippery-slope argument for this is basically if you do it for one game, you’ll have to do it for every game every time it’s updated or patched. That, of course, is unreasonable, both in actually doing and perhaps in thought. Most patches are small ones to fix a known issue or three and don’t actually add much to the game. They also probably wouldn’t significantly affect a game’s score.

The “Bring What You’ve Got” Argument

The other argument is that reviews should only be about what’s been brought when the game initially releases, because with today’s world of patching, any game can be made better post-release, so of course scores would increase as issues would be fixed. That’s a more solid argument than the previous one, but again, it doesn’t do justice to games that have received continuous support since their release, like most MMOs often do, or games that may have significant holes plugged. It also doesn’t do justice to customers to say a product that’s fixed and now works fine is still bad because the initial batch was crap.

But then again, if you don’t have an Internet connection, that’s what you’re going to be playing, right? That’s an issue we have to take into account and it’s a legit one to think about. I mean, there’s no reason to say “Game X is great … if you can update it."

And on top of it, there are always questions of integrity. Some people will argue an updated review hurts your publication's intregrity by changing scores that have been assigned. And frankly, given how the Internet likes to latch onto anything like that and blow it well out of proportion, the risk may be too high to even consider it.

So can it be done?

Yes, but with clear boundaries set on when such a review could be done. For each site, it would probably be different, but universally, I’d assume it would be something where if a game received several updates or one massive update that changed the game fundamentally, such a review might be warranted. Team Fortress 2’s updates – adding in three new game modes and new weapons which change game play styles for some classes – is probably the game most fitting this description. As for the game that originally inspired this, Backbreaker, I’m not certain. The “Greathouse” patch fixes a number of issues with the game that could alter it’s score and maybe move it from a 4 or a 5 to a 6 or higher, but I’m still uncertain whether the massive update is enough to justify a second look.

Heck, you might not even need to assign a score: just a simple reflection on whether the game is better or not might be sufficient.

Would people care?

That perhaps is the biggest question, and I don’t know if they would or not. Maybe this is where I should ask all of you to sound off in the comments. Would you like to see video game sites do reviews of updated titles when the updates were sufficient enough to warrant them, or would you rather leave the original reviews be?










For TGS, most people will walk away with excitement over Gran Turismo 5 or The Last Guardian or Catherine or the new Castlevania or whatever else tickles their fancy. But for me, one game's already kind of stolen the show, and it's not one I even saw coming: a new Fire Pro Wrestling title from Microsoft and Spike that makes use of the Avatars on Xbox Live. And result, I'm suddenly excited a bit about a game that uses Avatars again.

I say again because, honestly, the only other time I've been excited was for the now-defunct 1 vs. 100, a game that was fun to play with other people and because I tended to do pretty well at it. I had been down on them before that game came out and actually took a liking to using them for the virtual game show, but since then, nothing's really made me think they're being used in a good way.

If you're unfamiliar with Fire Pro, here's a video recapping a bit of what it's about. Keep the volume off, since it's crappy Linkin Park music, but this is the only video to cover the entire franchise up until about 2 hours ago:



You'll probably notice, the games are all in 2-D. This was something Spike continued to choose to do, even though 3-D games were possible and they did release 3-D wrestling games that were not part of this series. But what makes Fire Pro so different is that the grapple system is all about strategy and timing, not just button-mashing; the comprehensive edit mode; and the huge roster of wrestlers across many different styles. It's the only game where you can really see the difference between Mexico's lucha libre, Japan's puroresu and North American-style wrestling all in the same ring, as the WWE Smackdown series and the like are often featured far more limited movesets and personality styles.

But the inclusions of Avatars fits well with this game. Past Fire Pro games had high levels of customization, and I'm sure with the Xbox Avatar engine, we'll have quite a few options. Hopefully, not ones we'll have to pay for, though!

But more importantly, it provides an actual use for the Avatars like Miis in Wii Sports. No longer is the Avatar simply standing there, but he or she is actively in the ring, throwing punches, putting people in armbars and delivering devastating piledrivers onto Avatars of your friends. Basically, imagine Wii Sports, but with pro wrestling as one of the games. I know I would have liked that, even if it wasn't super-realistic looking.

Of course, this could all be for nothing, as the game's only confirmed for Japan right now. But Spike and Microsoft, knowing there's an audience here in the U.S. that would be receptive and needing to give Avatars a first-party use with 1 vs. 100's cancellation, would be dumb to pass up the opportunity to bring this across the Pacific. And I, for one, can't wait to start dropping my Xbox Live friends on their heads as Super Tiger King. I just hope we can dress our little guys up in something awesome.
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