Pardon my absence, but I've been playing Soulcalibur IV a lot. A lot. And not even really playing it, oh no. That'd be too simple. I am spending most of my time in:
1. The Tower of Souls (maybe 20% of the time)
2. Online matches (10% of the time roughly - anyone got a PSN account? I'd probably be online more if I knew more people; my screenname's PhilCharisma)
3. The character creator (80%)
I am well aware that's over 100%. That's how much time I spend playing in the character creator. Costumes, weapons, new characters, you name it, I'm usually toying with it. I pop out now and again to go through Story Mode just to get more weapons for people to use. I've produced relatively faithful versions of Guy Shishioh, my roommate, myself, and Sean Connery (the latter of whom fights with a giant piece of corn).
I've also given Ivy a pirate costume (like father like daughter?), tarted up the untartable Hilde, created heavily armed versions of Setsuka and Seong Mi-Na, and made an Astaroth who sort of looks like a real person and fights with a squeaky hammer. I only wish I knew how to take screenshots from the PS3.
I think I need help.
Also have been playing Super Robot Wars W, having finally learned enough katakana to navigate the menus, to be able to read almost all of the attacks and names of people (and sometimes units), and so on. The plot is still a big baffling helping of moon language, but I can make really good guesses as to what's going on and turn to the internet for the rest.
Devoted a little bit of time to working on the idea from my last post, as well. Quickly realizing I am a much better developer than I am a writer. Such is life!
Pardon me as I butcher the good name of WarioWare for my post title, but SNK's announcement of Kimo no Yuusha got me thinking: is 30 minutes short enough?
I'll admit that Kimo no Yuusha holds some appeal for me, especially since it's on the DS. If I've got a handheld out, it's often because I'm waiting on something else to happen, like I'm on a break at work or I'm stuck in traffic (yes, I play my DS in fully-stopped traffic jams; the fact that closed = sleep helps a lot). So while 30 minutes is too short, and the 10-second pace of WarioWare is a bit much, maybe we need some kind of weird balance between the two. I propose RPGWare: the RPG made of 10-minute stories.
You'd be surprised how much storytelling you can fit into a miniscule amount of space or time. Writers even have a word for this - flash fiction. Ernest Hemingway even did the flash fiction thing; his shortest story (which reeks of settling a bar bet):
For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
I think the flash fiction genre could be applied to RPG storytelling - not easily, but it's possible. Lots of the dialogue of an RPG is just exposition. What if all that exposition were skippable? In the game in my head, the exposition goes straight into a menu somewhere, so that people who're interested in background, et cetera can read up on it at their leisure... while those people who just want to cast some magic missiles at the darkness, attack some unusual and threatening creatures, or save a princess can do so and experience 10 to 15 minutes of storytelling.
Okay, so maybe 10 to 15 is a bit extreme. But I think this sort of 'flash gaming' could be a great new medium for telling lots of stories, instead of one epic tale, in a short amount of time, while still allowing for that critical element of gaming: fun.
Gotta hurry up and get this in before Sony's presser starts.
The MS press conference was actually a positive and negative experience for me: positive because Microsoft brings all the win to the party to counteract the big bucket of lose that Nintendo shoveled on us today; negative because my Xbox 360 is currently suffering from Red Rings of Death. Boo! So, quick array of thoughts:
* Galaga Legions. You know, I used to think Galaxian was the sequel to Galaga. I was not aware it came first. That said, I may pick this up, because Galaga Legions seems like the XBLA answer to Arkanoid DS and Space Invaders Extreme (both of which I greatly enjoy). Looks shiny, like everything else on XBLA that has bullets, so if I eventually suffer a grand mal seizure, you know why.
* Gears of War 2: I didn't like Gears of War (heresy, I know), so I'm hoping this improves on GoW1. Namely the cover system, which seems divisive - lots of people liked it, I thought the tendency to take cover at inopportune times or on the wrong side of things rendered it pretty abominable.
* Fable 2: I remain cautiously optimistic. Last time Peter Molyneux promised gamers the sky (literally) and we ended up with a game that could be pleasantly described as mediocre, but fun. This time around I think the hype is much lower, so I expect to be at least surprised by what Fable 2 is capable of.
* Portal - Still Alive: I splooged a little.
* Final Fantasy XIII on the 360: More heresy - I simply don't give a damn. I understand that this is a big moment for crossplatformship, that Microsoft or Square-Enix are figuratively slapping around Sony, blah blah blah, whatever. I can appreciate that. However, Square-Enix seems to be taking huge strides away from the gameplay that was fundamental in FF1-6, and that was expanded on in 7-10. FF12 was an action RPG with menus, plain and simple. I hated it. And the characters were absolutely atrocious (I spent 90% of my time with the game wanting to stab Vaan in the throat with a rusty spoon, even if he was Captain Basch). FF13 does not appear to be taking any steps away from that kind of action-RPG-ish gameplay. They can call it ATB all they want, I think we know what to expect.
I think I may be the last remaining turn-based RPG fan on Earth. Give me the SMT "Press Turn" and "One More" systems anyday. Or Lost Odyssey, I loved Lost Odyssey.
I'm not trying to be super-negative, it's just that so little at E3 seems to be moving in a positive direction, most companies seem to be afraid to do anything new, and when they do try and innovate, it gets dumbed down and we get a bucketful of waggle games. Hopefully Microsoft can counteract that, and hopefully I am completely wrong about Final Fantasy XIII. Until then, there's still Portal 2.
Well, that was an unmitigated friggin' bucket of fail. I think Joystiq summed it up best by saying the exact opposite of what was true:
"As it wraps, we have to say that Nintendo did a pretty good job of trying to show that they still care about non-grandma players."
That was exactly what they didn't do. Nintendo instead decided to show a commitment to milking money out of the casual games market as long as they can, which absolutely no one is surprised about. Wii Music looks like it's going to be varied but, if it's as hard to play as it seemed on stage, then it's a waste of time. (Side note: I like how Iwata felt the need to clarify he wasn't actually playing a sax.)
The few games that look like they might actually be aimed at a non-casual audience, by which I pretty much mean GTA: Chinatown Wars and that Call of Duty game (oh boy, more WWII), just get glossed over. "Hey look, here's a game you might actually give a damn about, now on to our next waggle compilation."
Hell, Animal Crossing: City Folk's the only thing that looked remotely interesting.
I never thought I'd actually be more excited about the Sony press conference, but I guess that's the way things shake out.
As an aside, has Nintendo ever said how these Balance-Board-required games are going to work if you didn't feel the need to buy Wii Fit? I know I'm fat, I don't need my Wii to tell me (that and any kind of movement heavier than a light walk sends my downstairs neighbor into a frenzy of ceiling-pounding).
Ah, E3 is rolling around again. Too bad it's only a shade of its former self, but what can you do? There's still a ton of info to be heard, apparently, and while I'm not discounting any major surprises, here's a short list in no particular order of what I'm looking forward most to hearing about:
* Mega Man 9. I think I peed a little when I saw this released, and I've watched that video with the logo plastered all over half of it at least six or seven times. I'm a little bit of a Mega Man fanatic, so I guess I sort of lied about the 'no particular order' - this is the one thing I'm hoping to see or hear more about from Capcom.
* AWAY Shuffle Dungeon. I don't know what it is about this game that interests me in it - maybe the whole race-against-time aspect of it? I don't recall a whole lot of timed dungeon crawling going on since Gauntlet, but AWAY actually looks like a fun twist (pun fully intended) on the dungeon crawler genre.
* Rune Factory Frontier and Rune Factory 2. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon was a pretty divisive, love-it-or-get-bored-to-sleep-by-it game; I loved it. I did eventually sell it back, but I remember picking it up on my vacation last year and being absorbed in it for several long months. I think the addition of something to do besides farming and gettin' hitched was a good addition to the Harvest Moon genre, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it can go from here in the sequel.
* Retro Game Challenge. Holy crap. I was amazed this got localized at all; I thought for a while I was going to have to break down and learn Japanese. (Which I may still have to do for Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida and its sequel.)
* Chrono Trigger, DQIV, Star Ocean 1 & 2, and Infinite Undiscovery. I'll just lump everything Squeenix is expected to show into one big pile, then go ahead and hand them my wallet because they basically own me for the rest of the year (until Persona 4 comes out in December). I've been hunting down info on Chrono Trigger, DQIV, and the Star Ocean games as they come out, but I've only recently gotten interested in Infinite Undiscovery. Who knows, it might turn out to be an FF clone, but hey, it's nice to see Square-Enix trying something besides Final Fantasy 1,947.
Oh, and the ultimate wishlist item would be Nintendo localizing Mother 3, but I won't hold my breath.
There's probably more, but that's just it off the top of my head. What're you looking forward to?
If you're in the BYOC, I'll be in BYOC Section Alpha, Row 8, Seat 8. Stop by and say hi! I look like this, only wearing a Mass Effect shirt instead of a blue sweater, and the ugliest Goddamned pair of plaid shorts on Earth: