In real life, I go by the name of Chris, but in the realms of the internet, I am known as GundamJehutyKai!
The name itself came by an IRC chat many moons ago and is a combination of my 3 main loves: Anime (Gundam), Video Games (Jehuty) and Giant mecha, which can be seen from the names used. The "Kai" was just added later as a suffix.
I'm a pretty big collector of anime figures and spend a lot of my time building and painting resin kits, so I tend to be more active on the Destructoid sister site, Tomopop but I thought I would jump the gap and see what else is in store!
I've been playing video games since the days of the NES and I still own almost all my consoles which I have purchased over the years, all in still working condition!
As well as building anime model kits and playing video games, I also maintain a small blog which I use primarily to show the progress of whatever model kit I am working on but I also throw in a few random video games review and particularly noteworthy news as well.
Feel free to check it out if you wish.
Remember my previous post about a Fan project to create a book to wish the composer of the Valkyria Chronicles games a happy Birthday? Well, this is the last call for those of you who want to take part. If you have already contacted the organiser with regards to taking part, the group will need your message by the end of the year!, Dec 31st. If you've just read about this project and want to help out, then the deadline for you will be Jan 15th so you have a little breathing space and time to enjoy the festive holiday once you have contacted the organiser.
Just to remind you all, the project is to give Hitoshi Sakimoto a habby birthday by giving him a printed booklet of hand written messages from the fans of his works.
The organisers are mostly into Valkyria Chronicles and the games are part of his better known works but any game which he has provided the music for will be fine (I thanked him for the Odin Sphere OST in my message!)
All you have to do is tell the organiser of the project on this page that you are interested and then write a small message either on A4 or A5 paper by hand, scan it to your PC and email it to the organiser. That's it! There's not even any cost to you aside from time and you will get a PDF of the book once the project is done! I'm not kidding, No need for any skeptical faces now!
I hope that many of you will take part. It's really not much work involved and you don't need to do anything fancy but it's a far more personal way to send the message of thanks to Sakimoto-san compared to just a massive number of tweets and FB posts.
Let's put in a bit of effort and get this done! Tuxedo Hans is watching you!!
Normally, I'm a guy who lets people crow over their own opinions and just go on my own way but Josh's post about why he thinks that Valkyria Chronicles 2 is as good, if not better than the original actually made me more than a little angry because it is false! The saying goes "there's no smoke without fire" and after discussing it with many video game playing friends and communities who are fans of the series as a whole, I can only say to Josh "The vast majority can't be wrong." Well, I can also say STFU! but that would be pointless at this stage.
I should also elaborate that many people whose opinions I have read or have discussed the game with DO own both the PS3 and PSP games and we all agree that VC2 does not compare to VC1. In fact, after a few of us completed VC2, we went back to our PS3s to remind us just how good it is!!
Since this is meant to be a counterpoint to Josh's post, I'm going to *ahem* steal his images and structure my response to counter his article. I would also like to state that I do not think that Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a bad game! Far from it, it's a good and fun PSP game, but it doesn't hold a candle to it's predecessor in most ways. It's the part which Josh says that VC2 is as good, if not better than VC1 which I take issues with. Not that VC2 isn't a good game!
With that being said, on to the first point!
1. we are not jealous!
As I stated above, a lot of people who I've spoken to or read opinions of owned both a PSP and PS3. We all played both games and we all agreed that VC2 was not as good. And we all felt that it was the same points which the game fumbled at. Yes, there are some fans out there who are bitterly disappointed that the game is a PSP title and they don't own a PSP but in general, I have seen that they don't simply say that the game is terrible, they ask those who have played both what they think! Guess what those people say? The fact that their opinions are not quite their own and eschews the numbers in favour of the haters is a valid point, but when those opinions come from people who have played both and considered the pros and cons of both games, is it right to say that the haters are simply Jealous? They are, afterall simply going by what people who have played both games have said to them!
2. No, We are, in fact, NOT playing it wrong
While I will agree that Valkyria Chronicles is geared towards speed play, I will disagree that VC2 is closer to the "ideal" than the first. To do well in VC1, you had to take a good look at the map, think of a plan which would allow you to accomplish the objective with minimum risk, choose your squad for specific tasks which need to be completed and then excecute said plan. In that respect, the closest comparison from another game would be the original Rainbow six games!
VC2 has none of this. the map is mostly void because it's very restrictive in the paths so you can only go in certain directions and enemies are not initially shown so you could find an infantry destroying tank right in front of you from the start. so much for the plan! The maps are also so small that scouts are able to traverse entire areas using a couple of CP with shocktrooers not far behind. So all you really need to finish the levels fast are a load of scouts and a few shocktroopers to take out the harder infantry. Maybe a lancer to take out the tanks if they get in the way. There are no tactics involved, it's simply a matter of getting your troops from A to B in the quickest way possible. In that respect, battles can often feel hollow in VC2 while lacking the scale and sense of worry on every move in VC1. The swapping of troops and maps also only serve to slow the whole battle process down, which is contrary to what the "ideal" of the game is meant to be, according to Josh.
Even so, just by running down the shortest path, it's possible to complete most of the stages in 3 turns or less and that's just by running through the stages, no tactics needed, no planning required. There is a gauntlet. Run through it! There is more to making a system like this interesting than just speed, even though that plays a huge part. Turning battles into an effective sprint is not one of them.
we ARE looking! It ISN'T all there!!
The biggest point that Josh tries to drill in home here is that the subtle undertones and contexts in VC2 are equal or greater than those of VC1. And I would agree... if it wasn't for the fact that the enemies adhere to more clichés and stereotypes than most of the rest of the cast!
While the Imperial leaders were given multifaceted personalities and you see that they are not inherently evil but shaped by their experiences (something which the anime decided to gloss over to make them more obvious bad guys), in VC2 we have an overbearing noble who is willing to sell his country out to get what he wants. He's basically the VC2 equivalent of Prime Minister Borg in the first game, who was the most boring NPC in the game. Even Damon was better than him! The other enemy bosses were just fundamentalists and a guy strapped into a suit of armour for added muscle.
Between these characters who are hard to take seriously and the schoolyard bumbling around of your main characters, it's almost impossible to take any of the plot seriously.
Even when they try to tug on the heart strings, there's a massive disconnect because the cutscenes on the PSP aren't up to the task, like when you try to stop a darcsen "purge" your characters arrive too late and all we get is a portrait of Avan going "dammit, we're too late." Would it be that hard to show some fleeing darcsens trying to escape to try and hammer home the gravity of the situation?
While I admit that the points that Josh made are there, like he said "you just need to look" very VERY hard! Almost to the point of overanalysing before one can see it and ultimately, because of the way the plot is handled, the points are paper thin. Almost like a footnote which is called up to make the enemies more human by providing them with a "reason" to fight before it gets tucked away again.
Soldier: I'm feeling that fighting is bad! Baldren: We're fighting to remove the evil Darcsen from the country! Soldier: Rawr!!! I feel angry. I want to fight again!
*Repeat ad infinitum*
The characters and story in general simply lack the depth and complexity of the first game. You could almost say that VC1 was a story for adults which children can enjoy. VC2 is a story for children which adults can (kinda) enjoy.
4. we ARE getting more than character Dossiers. But who wants them?
Funny how in his example, Josh calls out Melissa and Helmut. He makes a good point. Helmut does have an interesting back story and Melissa doesn't. The problem is that there are more characters like Melissa than Helmut. His is a minority with only the main trio getting fully fleshed out stories to follow, the rest has scenarios like an overbearing older sister, beating up other students to clear the way for one of your members to have an impromptu concert, running through an enemy base to find a flower to confess to the persont they fancy??? If that's the level of storytelling the characters are getting then I say they can keep it!
5. Yes, we know that making games are expensive...
But here's the million <insert currency here> question. Is it cheaper to redevelop a game engine and shoehorn it into a platform it really wasn't designed for or to use the same engine and development tools used for the already existing first game and tweak them to make a sequel? While it is very possible that the PSP VC2 would be cheaper than a theoretical PS3 sequel, I doubt the difference in cost would be as great as some people claim primarily because the foundations and main engine of the game already existed for a PS3 sequel Many assets could also be reused and I'm sure gamers wouldn't have complained so long as it wasn't to the same level of crackdown 2! Some AAA sequels are basically money sinks as developers try to make everything bigger and better than the original, but Valkyria Chronicles doesn't need to be bigger necessarily and if they played things smart and looked at what needed changing rather than going through the traditional sequel route of "more everything"
And I would also disagree that the depth of the game was preserved in the shift over to the handheld platform as well. Just look back at my ramblings about how shallow the battle system can be now that "speed" governs all. Also, a larger install base doesn't necessarily mean that the uptake will be proportional to the increase in userbase. Just ask the developers of "core" titles for the wii! While it is a different type of beast to compare, the PSP in japan is pretty much known for one game only. First week sales of VC2 in Japan weren't too vastly different from VC1 (wikipedia quotes 94k sales for VC2 and 77k for VC1) and the difference can easily be accounted for the increased name recognition because it's a sequel! Guessing on possible sales figures on a game which was never made is pointless but I am confident that a PS3 VC2 would have exceeded the first week sales of the actual game by the simple virtue that it would be catering to an existing fanbase with all the necessary hardware installed already. It's not a guarantee to say that every VC fan in Japan has a PSP afterall but it's far more likely that they would have a PS3 so you're building on an existing fanbase who only need to buy the game as opposed to trying to effectively build one from scratch on a different platform while the original is still fresh in peoples minds. And remember what kind of game Valkyria Chronicles is. It's a tactical RPG, one of the most niche gaming types out there which appeals to a specific kind of player. It doesn't have mass market appeal to begin with so there's no point in aiming for the mass market. You're more likely to find success with these games by focusing on the people you know will buy them, even if the market share is considerably smaller.
6. at least we can agree on something
That's right, I actually agree with Josh on point 6 because the game isn't perfect. Nothing is afterall. But he does hit quite a few truths on this one section.
The main problem with VC2 is that ultimately, it takes away more than it brings to the table in the transition. We gained a much inproved interface between battles (let's face it, the VC1 book interface is all kinds of terrible) and the seemingly random accuracy of your shots has been improved (arguably by too much) and the class change system does allow for more customisation within your squad, but we have lost more varied large maps to convey larger scale battles (each mini-map is basically an island unto itself), a loss in tactical depth in the game, better developed and interesting characters whom you actually care about (especially since none of them can die permanently now) and the obvious graphical stripdown.
Not all additions were good either, VC2 introduced the grinding element of RPG character development and the multiplayer was a throwaway. A box to tick at the development meeting.
I do have high hopes for VC3 though. From my play on the demo, it does look like they tried to fix everything they could so it's just the technical side of things left and that is a ceiling which they will never break but that's not what this argument about.
The bottom line is that the PSP is a lesser platform (at least in terms of raw power) compared to the PS3 and VC2 is, ultimately, a lesser game than the original. The 2 are not closely linked but neither are they independent. Some of the failings of VC2 are because of the hardware but not all. So there is some validity in the argument saying that it is a lesser game on a lesser platform and we will be stuck with those issues with VC3 simply because of the platform choice.
But in the end, the argument was against the claim that VC2 is as good, if not better than VC1 and even if you choose to ignore the counterpoints I have tried to make in this post, there is one thing you cannot ignore nor argue against. The vast majority of those who have played both agree that VC2 is inferior. It's still good, but not as good as its predecessor. Can you really argue that the majority is wrong? If there was one thing VC2 did incredibly well was that it made many of us who played it go back to the first game and appreciate it all over again!!
And remember, Lesser doesn't necessarily mean bad!
Anyway, onto business! Recently, I have come across a rather interesting fan idea related to Valkyria Chronicles. Specifically, with regards to the composer of the music to all 3 Valkyria Chronicles games, Hitoshi Sakimoto.
It seems that some fans are trying to gather up fans of the game to wish Sakimoto-San a happy birthday in February but rather than go through the boring twitter/facebook route of tonnes of typed messages, they're looking to create a small book filled with messages for the composer and send it to him as a birthday gift! That's where (hopefully) you guys come in!!
The main details of the project can be found here. Basically, you just need to let the organiser know that you want to take part and then write a hand written message for Sakimoto-San, scan it and send it in. It will then be put into the book! If you want, you can also include any artworks you have as well.
That's it! I'm serious and please, before anyone says anything, my name is not Shirley!
Personally, I think it's a pretty damn cool way to send a message to show that we appreciate what Sakimoto-San has done. The VC games may have suffered with the move over to the PSP but music is one thing which has remained as good as it was back on the PS3 title and it's only a small amount of effort required on your part! So please, if you can, help the project out and send a message over to them to hand over to Hitoshi Sakimoto. Or else you'll make Hans cry. You don't want to make him cry, do you?
There is one more thing though. The organisers are trying to keep this little project a secret from Sakimoto-San so please try to avoid making too much noise about it on Twitter or Facebook in case he gets wind of it. It seems that things were a little slow off the ground because Sakimoto-San is a member of the Valkyria Chronicles FB group and associated twitter account and also has a decent command of english so they were trying to get the members of the group to take part without being able to tell them what it was! That's less of a problem over here. I don't think we have to worry about him reading a Dtoid C-Blog but let's try and keep it quiet. The walls have ears afterall!
Are you still here? Go! Think of something witty to say to the man!!
While a number of Dtoid UK members are off enjoying PAX and playing Duke Nukem Forever, Capcom UK held a small event at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square, London to showcase Dead Rising 2. Those of us who remained in Blighty made sure that the groups was represented so Wayne, Nik, Sebastian and myself went zombie hunting!
Capcom had booked a small area of the casino overlooking the main floor and had a few little bits of entertainment set up aside from the game itself.
In the front section, there was a blackjack and roulette table set up for us to use, going for the Vegas theme from the game. We were also give $100 worth of chips to use at certain points of the day and prizes were given to those who were able to make the most profit in the time allowed.
The top earner walked away with a Dead Rising 2 jacket, modelled after the biker jacket Chuck Greene wears in the game and the runner up got a poker set and drinks mixer. Personally, I think the runner up got the better prize!
Further back and we get to where the main game could be played. In total, there were around 14 Xbox 360 setups and 8 PS3 setups to allow the guests to play the game (no, I don't know why there were fewer PS3 setups). In the centre was a display for various weapons in the game (non functioning and blunt, of course. Except for the nailbat...) and a replica of the motorbike with chainsaws on the front used by Chuck Greene in the opening section of the game, the "Terror is Real" gameshow. Guests could have their photo taken on the bike with a number of "zombies" ready and willing to pose with them and make them look a little more manly!
To round things off, there was also a bar which served free soft drinks and alcohol after 5pm. And yes, we hit the bar pretty hard once the booze was available. It would have been rude not to!!
I had a chance to play both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 versions of the game and they were close to identical. I noticed a little jerky motion with the camera movement on the PS3 version when the screen was particularly busy but it didn't affect gameplay at all. Those intending to buy the game don't have anything to worry about with regards to which platform. They're both fine!
The game being played seemed to be near enough the full version. We started off at the "Terror is Real" game show (which provides the basis for the competitive multiplayer section) and quickly found ourselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Most players managed to get through the first 2 or 3 main missions before taking a break but there was no reason why one would not be able to go even further if they wanted.
In terms of gameplay, Dead Rising 2 played very much like a "by the books" sequel. That is to say, more of the same. It felt very much like a more refined version of the original Dead Rising in a different settings. Sadly, while that meant that some of the good things about the first game were made better, the bad things also remained. Many were refined to be less of an issue, but still an issue nonetheless.
At this point, I should say that I was not a fan of the original Dead Rising. I felt that it served more as an interactive tech demo, showcasing what Capcom could do on the 360 rather than a fully fleshed game to be enjoyed. Frank West was like a tank to control, long range combat with guns was a joke, the survivor AI was terrible, the psychopaths were frustrating and the pacing was absolutely terrible with the game giving you either too much or too little time to get to missions.
In Dead Rising 2, Chuck is a little easier to control, which is a blessing, but still somewhat sluggish (the less said about the motorbike controls during the "Terror is Real" show the better!). Gun combat is still useless and the pacing is still off, although they are more lenient this time it would seem. Sadly, miss the time window for a story mission and you get an instant game over like before so be sure to save regularly and be prepared to sit around and waste time in a specific area to make sure you're there for the mission when it begins. Everything else is pretty much as you may remember from the original game or the recently released Case Zero DLC.
Loading times also deserve a mention because there are quite a few of them and they are rather long! Expect a fair few breaks in play as you wait for the next section to load up unless the game gets optimised a fair bit before release.
As for our main lead, Chuck Greene, he lacks the charm of Frank West and isn't as fun to watch in the cutscenes. He puts on a stoic look and that's pretty much him for all the sections of the game we played. His backstory makes him look more noble and commendable. In fact, on paper, we should be able to rally behind this single father looking after his daughter rather easily but once in the game, he's more 2-dimensional and wooden than Charisma Carpenter in the Expendables!
It's not all bad though! When you boil the game down to the lowest denominator, killing zombies, there's a lot of fun to be had. A new feature of Dead Rising 2 allows you to combine certain weapons to create some really interesting weapons, from the obvious nailbat to the more interesting "freezer bomb," dynamite strapped to a fire extinguisher to make a bomb which freezes zombies and makes them easy targets. Our personal favourite from within Dtoid UK was the "drill helmet," a bucket with 3 power drills stuck through to the insides. The attack involved putting the bucket on the zombies heads whereby the drills would start, we get lots of red on the screen and, soon after, a headless zombie!
Customising Chuck was also very easy and rather fun. My threads of choice was a James Bond style tuxedo with no shoes. One player managed to unlock an oversized Blanka mask and was running around in that. Others simply opted to have Chuck running around in only his boxers or ladies clothing.
To say that Dead Rising 2 is bad would be a disservice. This writeup may seem negative but the overall picture is that Dead Rising 2 is a solid and somewhat entertaining game which is bogged down with a number of issues which may be accepted as part and parcel of the experience, much like the fixed camera view for the original resident evil games. It just depends if you don't mind them of if you find them annoying.
Or in even shorter terms, if you liked the first game and/or case zero, you'll love Dead Rising 2! If you didn't, there isn't anything here which will change your mind.
On another note, while playing the PS3 version of the game, I came across something a little odd...
Note that this interesting bug remained even when I went into a new area which required loading and also going back to the title screen and loading up the most recent save didn't remove it!! The only thing we didn't try was to exit to the XMB and restart the game from scratch!
But in its defence, we also heard that someone experienced the same problem in the 360 version and my first play on the 360 game required me to go back to the dashboard and restart the game because it crashed. Let's hope Capcom fix that particular issue before the game is released. They can keep the frozen zombies in there though. That was quite funny!
Earlier this week, Dtiods Dale North posted up a link to a teaser site for a new Bandai Namco RPG and then proceeded to wish for a new Xenosaga game.
Of course, due to various issues with the franchise, development team and whatnot that was always going to be impossible.
Nevertheless, a small group of vocal fans then chimed in with the support for the idea and started going on about how Xenogears was one of the best games ever made (which it is!!!)
But the timer is up now, and it's time to completely crush any dreams and aspirations anyone may have had when playing "guess the game from the really vague splash page)
Bandai Namco are doing Digimon story: Lost evolution and it's for the DS.
That, people is the mystery RPG!
Seems that it's a sequel to another Digimon DS RPG which was last seen in 2007. I wouldn't know since I don't keep up with this stuff. the series was released in Japan and the US but not europe so I guess it will probably follow this pattern.
I guess it was interesting to see that Bandai Namco have worked on RPGs
other than the tales series...
I believe that it is now time to take a moments silence to mark the death of a constant companion, one which has been with video games since it all began! The instruction manual.
For many years now, it has been in ill health and largely ignored but it has doggedly stuck by us like a travelling companion as we raided tombs, beat up aliens, took over liberty city and saved the world, again! Sure, the PC games have long forsaken the printed manual but it always had a home with the console games!
But now, it seems that it has reached the end of it's life and it's ready to go. Not with a bang, but with a whimper!
What caused this "sudden" revelation? What else, Modern Warfare 2! A quick glance at the instruction manual for the 360 version of MW2 shows that it's a whole 4 pages long. 4 PAGES!!!! Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Admittedly, the humble instruction manual was never an essential item for most games. Back in the 8 & 16 bit era, when 80% of all games were variations on the 2D platform game, all the player needed to know was what the jump button was and what was the other button did (usually shoot) so he didn't need to read the instruction manual to play the game. He could, however, read it to gain some backstory on the game setting, seeing as most games pretty much threw you into the thick of things!
The other, now forgotten, use of the instruction manual was due to it's last few blank pages where gamers would furiously scribble passwords, hints and cheats to help themselves along the way!
A look at my SNES Megaman X (and X2) instruction manual shows a mountain of passwords to let me progress from where I left off, back before the advent of the memory card!
There were some notable exceptions to the rule, however, where the manual not only was useful, but was required reading. Like in Flashback for the MegaDrive/Amiga/SNES
Flashback was one of my earliest memories of a context sensitive control system, where one button could do multiple tasks. I vividly remember reading the manual and it describing the "A" button on my megadrive as the "action" button. Pretty apt considering it was responsible for everything from operating lifts to jumping to shooting my gun!
The single button did so much it was impossible to work out everything by yourself so the manual became a "must read" as there was no tutorial to explain everything within the game.
But then, with increasingly more complicated controls, the developers figured it would be easier to created tutorial levels within their games which taught the player how to control their character in the game. And with it's last remaining use taken away from it, the manual started it's descent into oblivion!
Except when Gran Turismo came out in Europe...
Despite having the license system as a test and tutorial rolled into 1, SCEE chose to print a massive manual detailing everything you could ever want to know about driving and tuning your car in GT. In fact, very little content for for the game itself and it instead focused on explaining driving techniques and what the various tuning options would actually do to your car!!
The japanese version had to make do with the bare bones of controller layout and menu explainations.
Nowadays, it is almost expected for games to have either a tutorial level or popup notifications in game to help them learn the ropes just by jumping in. Storage media have long since rendered the password system of old obsolete and the storytelling abilities of the medium as a whole have improved so much that back history and settings can be done as part of the overall game itself so the manual is simply no longer needed!
The effort placed into making instruction manuals, even now, can often be clearly seen. Many games have quite in depth instructions, far more than what the tutorial provides yet players can easily work such things out for themselves with a little experimentation. One has to wonder "why make all that effort?"
Some recent titles have tried to spice things up a little, with the GTA series having fake "adverts" in their manuals to cryptically help the player and Metal Gear Solid 4 gave basic instructions in a (kinda cool) manga within the manual.
But these are the exceptions rather than the norm. Chances are, most instruction manuals in games are left unopened and are simply left in the box.
In some ways, it's amazing that they have lasted this long anyway!!
Perhaps is it now time for the instruction manual to move on. I doubt many gamers would notice if titles no longer included them in the packaging but I, for one, would miss them.