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5:47 PM on 05.22.2011

FYI: Outer Heaven Temporary Home

Hey there, just a quickie... I know that's how you like it.

We've taken up temporary residence for the Outer Heaven regulars on the same IRC server as #destructoid. That is:

Channel: #outerheaven

Also, Zwuh has kindly set up an applet on his site for you to hit up and make it easy. Click here for that flavour of shizz.

Come and hold us while we cradle back and forth.   read

7:53 AM on 05.21.2011

Let's Give TNA iMPACT for iOS a Try

I'm having a very bored hungover Saturday so thought I would give you some unedited thoughts AS THEY HAPPEN of TNA iMPACT. The original TNA for iOS was a weird 2D turn-based wrestling game which I kind of enjoyed. It was a fun diversion, but the key was that they made a game that suited the controls and medium it was on. Now Namco Bandai have produced an all action game similar to console wrestling games. So let's get started.

Career mode, oooo. Lets start an X-Division career. Create a wrestler to go through the ranks. Amazingly basic. Not sure what type of finisher the DW4 is, but I have it. I also have a massive TWO (2) grapple moves and I picked high-flyer style.

So first thing. I'm in the ring with Hogan who speaks nothing like Hogan in the text bar saying "brother" a lot. Hogan has announced there will be an 8 man tournament for a shot at Doug Williams X-Division championship. HOT STUFF. Backstage with Bischoff. "I'm sure you heard Hulk's announcement". Why yes I did, I was in the ring with him at the time. He has good news though, I'll be facing The Pope in the first round. Standing there in my wrestling gear, but I should probably "go get ready".

Couldn't set an entrance, but I came out pointing at the crowd with some nice looking pyro. The Pope comes out with proper music and money raining entrance. Wow, someone at Namco actually did some research! Let's play a match... Wow, the fact I have to mash buttons to get up after I performed a successful move is a joke. It's so jerky and slow paced, it's a good 5 seconds to climb the turnbuckle and turn around. SUCH A HIGH-FLYER. Honestly the worst match engine of all time. I won the match somehow with what looked like a taunt, think Triple H's post water spit pose on the apron to be precise.

Tenay and Tazz hype up Turning Point and say my match with RVD is a semi-final match. I contemplated playing further, but RVD's music (R V D... THE WHOLE F'N SHOW and loop) took me over the edge with it's awfulness.


10/10 as a TNA game. It is faithful to it's source product as in it is a total trainwreck. 1/10 as an entertaining product.

That was kind of an abortion. I honestly don't believe I have ever started and quit a game in such record time. I want to be sick thinking about the 15 minutes I lost to that. I would recommend burning your retinas out before playing this game or even trapping your nuts in a vice.


4:52 AM on 05.19.2011

That Outer Heaven Chat Thing That People Talk About


Chat has been going for a good couple of months now and it has easily become one of the reasons I come here. Even in the dead times of GMT mornings, there's usually someone awesome to talk to. I honestly believe the only person who wouldn't really like it would be my boss if he ever sees my new level of productivity.

We've built up a little mini-community right now in there, keeping away from the largely unmoderated General Chat and inviting the non-trolls in and having a good time talking about any topic that comes up, which is a shame as I know a few of you may have come into the chat and been scared off by the trolls or total inactivity because we've abandoned the troll, but hopefully we can have it in a moderated state and be the most welcoming bunch of people since hotel door openers.

I'm not going to gush on and wax lyrical about good times, but I've seen people be genuinely touched by events that have transpired and ridiculous memes such as UNLIMITED DRAGONS WITH BULLET TIME AND STEALTH, but it is all goodtime fun in a massive time sink. Mad shoutouts to Zwuh, DrunkPunk, Eltron, Savant, Genn, Xzi and kevinsano just of the top of my head right now but there are others too that are the biggest cases of fucking awesome I've talked to in a long time.

Drop on by sometime. We'll show you to the shadows...   read

6:18 AM on 04.30.2011

Review: Virtua Tennis 4

Virtua Tennis was the pinnacle of arcade sports games when the original came out for the Dreamcast. Back then, it had 2 buttons and was so simple to pick up, but impossible to master. The perfect recipe for any arcade game. The sequel added a 3rd button and a more robust world tour before AM2 handed the reigns over to Sumo Digital for the fun but stale Virtua Tennis 3 and 2009. Now AM2 take the mantle once more, but can they freshen up the game enough to make a purchase worth it?

Virtua Tennis 4 (Xbox 360(Reviewed), PS3, Wii, PC)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega AM2
Released: Out now (European console versions), May 10 (US console versions) Summer 2011 (PC)
Price: $49.99/39.99 (360/PS3), $39.99/29.99 (Wii) TBA (PC)

Jump into a game and the first thing that you'll notice is that not much has changed. From the slightly dated graphics beginning to show their age right up to the same play style. As you delve deeper though, you find that by following your players play-style builds up a bar above your players name. Once that is up, you can hit B to unleash a power shot that is unstoppable in the correct situation. It's that simple elegance which makes Virtua Tennis a joy to play, but the big addition may make it more complex.

That big addition: motion controls on all consoles. Kinect, Move and MotionPlus are all supported and by all reports, working well with intricate wrist movements affecting shots on Move and MotionPlus. Sega are saying that Move is the best way to play the game, but TV ads for the game appear to have had a Sony-sponsored PS3 spot in there so I'm now taking their claims with a pinch of salt.

For those without expensive add-ons though, is there anything else to justify the purchase? Well, online mode has had a massive upgrade borrowing the excellent Virtua Fighter 5 netcode. The matches that I've been subjected to have been smooth with a very good match-making service. Not only that, but online tournaments are in making it a good overall package that can keep you coming back.

World Tour is the meat and potatoes of the game and it's holding up it's end of the bargain. After changing the default design from it's perfectly Aryan look to a guy with the ever-fashionable Hitler moustache and the highest pitch grunt ever, I got underway. As Samit explained in his preview, instead of being a super-serious sports simulation of a career, it instead brings a board game style experience. This is a departure of older Virtua Tennis games as well where you manage your time and schedule to train using mini-games. Now you have to plan your moves with 3 movement cards randomly given to you at the start of each turn with the aim to get as many stars (which affect rankings) and coins to spend on various things. There are also 3 slots to store your own cards. The stored cards range from numbers for movement, condition recovery, agents (which give an increase to stars as you go about your day to day activities) and shuffle cards that will discard your 3 movement cards for 3 new ones.

As you move through the map, you'll find exhibition matches and tournaments, publicity work (raises your profile at the expense of some condition), charity work (like publicity but also loses you coin), accidents, relaxation spots and training mini-games. The mini-games are all new and are excellent with none of the coming across as filler. Highlights being Ace Striker where you serve a football into a goal past a wall and goalkeeper, Poker in which the aim is to hit balls at cards to change them and create poker hands and Wall Battle, which is a 1-on-1 tennis match except you have 3 switches to make sections of the net grow and bounce the ball back to you opponent to score points.

Sensibly, the mini-games are broken up over the 4 seasons so you don't have the all available to get bored of in one play session. Each season concentrates on a different part of the world, with the first season being Asia and Australia, the second in south Europe culminating in the French open, third in north Europe with Wimbledon and finally America with the US open. Finally, there is a bonus season if you finish in the top echelon of the rankings, adding another area and year to play where you will face the king of all tennis, who returns in this game. As you go, you'll receive messages from your rival players usually mocking you, your coach giving you some advice, or Chris who is your stalking superfan who sent me a letter saying he liked my "ball chasing-down skills".

If you've read all this, you're probably thinking that should take your time and slowly go to each tournament, training hard and getting enough events, but each season also has a number of days. If you're late, the tournament actually waits for you, but not without a hit to your reputation for having a gall to be late.This changes the dynamic of the world tour to be a fine balancing act as you also need a number of stars to qualify for the tournament and not waste all your condition on the qualifying rounds and does add a much needed dash of strategy.

Tracking my progress through a few accidents, all of which resulted in "strange rumours coming out about me", I unlocked a lot of kit to buy that never really interests me, but since you start in a grey top and look dull, I had a look and I was not disappointed. Right now, I'm rocking a t-shirt shirt, playing with a baguette as a racket and wearing jeans. The lack of seriousness is endearing and made me want to unlock more comedy outfits which actually have a point along with the comedy rackets even changing the sound effects with baguettes making a really satisfying DOOF noise and the clink of smacking a ball with a sledgehammer. Fancy dress party outfits give you cash multipliers the more fancy dress items you have on.

At the end of each season, a number of awards are handed out for the Season MVP, most MAX serves, most smash points, most special shots and the speediest player which is the player who reached the final tournament in the least amount of moves. Then your new season starts with you starting on maximum condition. The only thing I can fault the world tour on is the god-awful music, which unfortunately is true throughout the whole game.

All in all, this isn't the in-depth tennis simulator that something like Top Spin is. If you're wanting a serious sports experience, that's what you should be sticking with. If you want a fun, deep game with excellent online features and a possible reason to dust off those motion controllers, you should be seriously taking a look at this. It is the definitive Virtua Tennis and it's a fabulous purchase even if you're upgrading from 2009. Going back to the original developers and not outsourcing to Sumo has shown and hopefully it continues the tradition of improving the franchise with each iteration instead of becoming a yearly sports cash cow. It isn't going to be for everyone and that has been reflected in my score, but as a long-time fan of the series, this is Sega at their arcade-style best.

8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)


7:26 PM on 04.15.2011

E3 Hopes: Nintendo Edition

With the rumors circulating around what Nintendo is going to bring to the party, I'm going to boldly claim it 'tis the season and all that jazz and hit what I hope the proverbial buffet cart of the aforementioned party will contain. Despite my doubts, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to assume that the new home console is happening, mainly because I so so so so so so so so so so so so hope it is true.

With that said, HIT IT.


1) Motion control was SOOOO 2006, you guys

Nintendo had a hit with the Wii, no question, but the shine appears to have come off the Wii a little. Accused by the masses of being simply a Wii Sports/Fit machine with some New Super Mario Bros. thrown in, I believe it needs to go back to basics.

I'm not saying abandon motion entirely, but bundle the thing with a real joypad as well as the Wii-plus mote (or new motion thing to ensure backwards compatibility) and come out on stage to say that Nintendo thinks it's ADORABLE Sony and Microsoft are on that bandwagon now, but we have the best motion solution and we're coming back after your hardcorey games. But don't worry, soccer moms, you'll only need one bulk of plastic in front of your TV because this bad boy will play your Wii and GC titles as well as having an even bigger Virtual Console. Check-fricking-mate.

2) This 3DS thing we launched? We will finish it TODAY.

I love my 3DS, but I see it as a beta handheld. The love is based on things I know are coming games wise rather than what I have in my hands now. Clearly rushed out to hit promised deadlines, it's missing a lot of promised things. The lull of retail releases that we're going to have for a period here would have been made so much better if I was playing Links Awakening on VC while grinning like a little schoolgirl. I'd even have settled for Sonic Chaos.

At E3, announce that from that day, a new firmware update is coming out to add the online store, Virtual Console, 3D classics and DSi store. Make everything new playable from SD card and we have a winner. But there is another thing that firmware update should address...

3) You know what else was so 2006? Robust online systems.

That firmware should shake things up, attach your friend code or maybe even an online handle into Nintendo's new and shiny online service. Lobbies, messaging and all that stuff that allows you to actually jump into a game with friends without using another device to co-ordinate the impending smackdown. I can do without the XBox Live bells and whistles for something that functions in a way that allows me to play games.

Don't worry about the casual crowd, they are slowly getting more tech savvy. My auntie even hooked up her blu-ray player to update all by herself a few weeks back. If they want to play online, they'll find a way. Optional extra would be some sort of achievement/trophy system because some people really hang their hat on them for some reason. SF4 has medals and they work quite well, flashing up when one is unlocked. Roll that shit out and make it standard.

4) Why do we even buy consoles? GAMES. COME ON.

This is where Nintendo's strong suit lies for me. I love me some Gears of War and I did like Resistance when I had my PS3, but a few quality franchises here and there cannot compete with Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Kirby. I'm still left wanting more though.

The last two successful IP's Nintendo created were Pikmin and Nintendogs. Get a little creative and try something new. It could be something beautiful and amazing if they were just to take that risk and I would love it. Even if it turned out all Wii Music again, I would respect them for trying to innovate creatively.

Finally, if they were to snatch a 3rd party to do an exclusive or timed-exclusive franchise, that would just be pure carnival. Think about it, the next Bioware game being Nintendo exclusive or something crazy. Fanboys of other console would bitch to hell and have to end up buying Nintendo, a spectacle I'm sure you'll agree.

5) Less sales figures

I know, you've been the top dogs for a few years now, but do we need to see the graphs? When they weren't on top and just about to unleash the Wii, Reggie came out on stage and just said "We're Nintendo and we're here to kick ass and take names". Great, let's get back to that mantra instead of staring at charts of however you want to spin strong, but slumping sales.

There's a time and a place for these types of figures, E3 isn't one of them. The casual media doesn't care, the games media doesn't care. We're all listening to hear how Nintendo is going to kick those arses, not what arse has been kicked.

If the rumors are true, I cannot wait. We'll have Nintendo 3DS developments and new home console taking on the NGP and whatever Microsoft has up it's sleeve. But those will have to wait for future editions.

The first shots have been fired, in 2 months, we'll see what 2011 really has in store.[img]   read

6:54 AM on 04.14.2011

Dreamcast News Round-Up

I really hope that title made you do a double take. YES. NEWS..

First off, bullet hell shooter game developer NG:DEV sold out of the batch of Fast Striker they sent to Play-Asia. They won't release how many units they sent to them, but the fact that they sold 1 might shock several people.

You can still grab the game from their online store here or experience the terror on iOS devices for 99 of your American cents here.

Now you're probably really confused. Zelda? On my Dreamcast?

Homebrew developer Neoblast has ported the first game in a PC Zelda trilogy to the Dreamcast. Based on LttP sprites, it plays pretty smooth for a first version and will eat up 14 blocks of your VMU... If you remember those things.

Grab it here, before Nintendo infects the developers with AIDS... Or asks them to stop.

Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles, the game that has been whored around the GP2X, to a professional release on the Dreamcast has had a totally free release on Windows. It is a damn fun little game and you can download it from here. If you want to support them, they'll even draw you an avatar in the game for either $10 for a static one or $15 for an animated one! I'd highly recommend giving the game a look, especially now it's free.

It's still thinking, dammit.   read

5:43 AM on 04.14.2011

I love my 3DS, but man, has it got some competition

No, not the NGP that has only shown off one game. I'm talking about the handheld that has a library of thousands, a comparatively monster battery life of 5.5 hours, TV-Out AND 2 controller support. At this point, you're thinking about this wondrous device and thinking "Hasney, nothing can have all this. Once again you are bullshitting me to the highest degree" and to that I will say "Oh yeah? Czech the SupaBoy, BITCH" followed by a delayed reaction of "Hey, when did I bullshit you before?".

This elegant little beast was unveiled at the Midwest Gaming Classic last month and should be hitting the US this summer. Dependent on price, I may be all over this like Cheech on Chong.   read

2:03 AM on 09.09.2010

Why I Still Have 'Faith' in iPhone Gaming: Mirror's Edge

iPhone gaming has been much maligned in recent times and even as someone who is on their second iPhone and second year of iPhone gaming, I can see why.

Traditional games have been shoe horned into the app store with a little on screen joystick and a couple of buttons. Just what you need, even if you have the most feminine of hands, is to cover up half the screen. Some genres have been well suited to a straight port, just look at Phoenix Wright or Monkey Island, but sometimes the extra effort is needed to make a console game, a touchscreen phone game.

How not to do it. Sorry Sonic

Enter Mirror's Edge. Gone is the first person parkour and it's been replaced with a side-scrolling, er, parkour. As a huge fan of the original PS3/X360 version, what struck me is how well the atmosphere has transferred over, from the music all the way to the art style. It's a beautiful game, not as beautiful as the Epic Citadel demo or the Rage engine demo, but more than competent as a 2.5D side-scroller.

Gameplay-wise, it's fast, hectic and adrenaline filled, so a game with those type of credentials live and die on their controls and trust me, controlling Faith is a breeze and fun.

Running is simple. Swipe left or right and Faith will begin running in that direction, gaining speed automatically.

A quick swipe up makes Faith jump, which can be modified. If you've just climbed a box, swiping up immediately after makes for a large jump. Swiping up near a billboard starts a wall run and you can still swing off rails too. It sounds annoying, but due to the level design, it works excellently in practice.

A swipe in the direction you're running in mid-air also provides a nice, swift kick to the face. Handy for those douchebags who just want to bring you down.

A quick swipe down lets you slide under obstacles or into enemies. Swiping up again while sliding brings Faith to her feet to continue running.Swiping down in mid-air also allows you to roll when you land, stopping big falls from damaging yourself.

The only real use of the accelerometer comes from sliding down platforms or zipwires and in the balance beams. If you fail, it's no big deal as it will only slow you down slightly. It won't be death, it will just kill you speed run time.

It is a professional package, which is what you'd expect from EA, with Facebook challenge functionality and leaderboards as well as speed runs and hidden bags to pick up throughout the levels. It's a good few hour blast in the main game and has a different story to the console versions (Although calling it a "story" would be harsh to any game that has a story. All I know is, there's a gang leader.). If you don't find this game worth 3 English pounds then you are a communist, plain and simple.

The controls are the star of the show and that's not something I thought I would ever say about an iPhone game. But I'm really hoping that we're not "hanging on" for long for another well-controlled slick action game.

I'll kill myself now for that.   read

9:42 AM on 08.19.2010

The PS3 Has Finally Been Hacked

No I'm not going to give out links, but at 90, it's a beast of a price to play copied games. Hoping that Sony can get on top of this and ban people from PSN as soon as they detect it and not in waves. This is a lot bigger than the XBox 360 modding because it allows you to run your own code and in my eyes, that's why it's exciting and dangerous at the same time.

The current Modern Warfare hacks, for instance, are done by modifying save files. What if someone could modify the actual game code and take it online? Well, it will be like those ridiculous (but fun) COD4 Wii hacks where everyone gets a rocket launching machine gun. That's the dnagerous bit. But free to run my own code? Or code of others that utilises all the parts of the PS3's awesome power? Not in some closed off Linux enviroment, but do whatever I like with the hardware that Sony would never let you do

Wait a while for the USB dongle to be cloned and cheap, get a cheap, banned from PSN PS3 from EBay and play with the stupid amounts of power the machine has fully. If the original XBox has taught us anything, it's that the development community can shine. XBox Media Player beats the pants off of anything that Sony and MS have put out on their machines and has become one of the most fully-featured media players you can get on a PC.

Maybe it's just me, but the homebrew scenes in consoles have been amazing, so I'm fully looking forward to what small devs working for free can achieve yet again.   read

4:10 PM on 07.14.2010

The greatest Sonic 2 mod of all time - Sonic 2 XL

This is a bit of a quickie as I'm posting this from the comfort of my bed, but it is too awesome not to share.

Download it and play it. NOW.

Essentially, the rings have been turned into onion rings and each one makes Sonic fatter, making his speed go down and can barely jump until he is too obese to move. There's been mods in the past where the rings cause death, but this is special.

It adds a whole new challenge, as you can lose weight by running back and forth and also with some item boxes. Plus, you still need one ring to survive (and to rule them all, maybe?).

I can't get past CPZ without cheating, but the amount of love that has gone into this with new sprites is incredible.


[embed]178983:31489[/embed]   read

11:12 AM on 11.11.2009

5 Ways To Make 'No Russian' Actually Effective in Modern Warfare 2

The 'most anticipated game of the decade' is now out and everyone has probably played the mission where you kill a bunch of innocents in a Russian airport though. Harrowing and disturbing are just a couple of the words thrown around but I couldn't disagree more. I wasn't there, I was disconnected from the game experience because they did not integrate my character at all into this situation. I was just a wobbly gun floating in front of a screen, but it could have been so much more.

Make no bones about it, No Russian was included to get some controversial press. There is no reason for it to be there so early in the game with no real set-up apart from one of the little stupid briefings before the 'mission'. There are several ways that the scene could be more effective in dragging you into the moment, to make you care about all these innocent people and even the evil Russians plight.

But no, IW/Activision decided to blow their load over your face within an hour of the game, 1/5th of the way through. Having finished the campaign, the game itself is fun, but the pacing and writing of the whole game is pretty poor and as such, Talking Russian makes it seem more like shock tactic B-Movie rather than a Hollywood blockbuster. Below are a few ways it could be improved, either in gameplay or with storytelling

1. Allow you to shoot the terrorists.

This is probably, along with number 2, the main thing that took me out of the game experience. First time my aim was wobbly trying to kill some civilians and I hit one of the terrorists, so I get the blurry screen saying I shouldn't shoot them because they'll be onto me. By the end of the mission, it was clear they already were onto me, so why not let me shoot the bad guys? Just make sure Makarov gets away and everyone else is slaughtered and they'll know it was Americans spilling the blood. But that's nothing compared to number 2.

2. Play some backstory missions with the terrorists.

Sure, we know why they are doing this by the end of the mission, but why not have some missions where you are doing other things, like bank raids or ambushing American soldiers, and he can explain the motives to your character over his collection of fine brandies he has possibly liberated over the years.

You're just dropped in a mission, told not to speak Russian and kill anything that moves. It's pretty lame. You could go either way, make you feel some sympathy for these terrorists before their heinous act or just build him up as an even bigger monster.

I've been playing a lot of Dragon Age and without spoiling too much, a lot of my decisions have been based on my characters relationships with their friends and how it would affect them. Good writing in video games can be powerful in helping you make moral choices, but only if you understand the background and link you have to the characters around you. This is totally missing not just from this mission, but the game entirely and one of the things that made COD4 so engaging.

3. Rocky IV re-released special edition

In a display of George Lucas style arrogance, Sly Stallone decides to change the ending of Rocky IV and this time, Rocky kills Ivan. There's uproar in Russia so war begins.

Sure, it has about the same effect as the current mission, but it has the added bonus of making the 4th level a playable 80's montage

4. P. Diddy attaches himself to Ciroc vodka

It was bad enough when the French brought out Grey Goose, but now P. Diddy has attached himself to an admittedly good vodka and he is everything that's wrong with capitalist America. The red heart starts beating again and war has begun.

5. Stalin 'wises fwom his gwave'

Yeah, it's a rip-off from Altered Beast, but if you're gonna rip something off, you might as well rip-off the Citizen Cane of gaming. Hell, with Stalin transforming into various animals, you might even have a credible threat instead of a squidgy human terrorist.

OK, the last few points were out there a little, but I have to say, I feel even the stupid ideas would have been better. Modern Warfare 2 is really good fun to play and the atmosphere is there when you're doing normal shoot everything that has a gun gameplay, but if you're going to use such a device to set-up the story, wouldn't it be a good idea to make sure that the story you have is actually good? Then you might not have this knee-jerk reaction from some gamers (yes, not counting the mainstream press) because even to us who have no problems playing through a level like that, it still just seems like it was contraversy grabbing.

To me, the storytelling aspect of the game is a step down from COD4 and as someone who really enjoyed that single-player campaign, it is a massive disappointment.   read

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