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Naxel's blog

4:28 PM on 07.20.2011

A videogame commentary on Capcom

Capcom, such a marvellous company that has badly aged, I'm not sure of what to think of you anymore. Capcom, inventor of great franchises such as Megaman, dead rising, resident evil, and Street Fighter to name only a few. I'm turning my attention to this company for this video game commentary. Capcom is one of the company that has influenced a lot of my youth. I had faith in Capcom in bringing things that took video game to a whole new level with better excitement and evolution. But what the hell happened recently? A ton of bewildering decisions, that has made me… uneasy to say the least.

Let's make a quick run down of the recent events

A man who has been a working for Capcom infused with great creativity named Keiji Inafune, occupied the position of head of Research & Development and Online Business and Global Head of Production at Capcom about a year ago. He had contributed as executive producer for great franchises such as Street Fighter, Dead Rising, resident Evil and Megaman. However that man has decided to leave on october 29th 2010 to start his life over and be done with Capcom.

Four month after the departure of Inafune, the game Megaman Universe is canned. Say anything you like but the canning of this project after the departure of Inafune from the company (one if not the most important figurer behind the creation of Megaman) feels like a personal hit on his account. But we can take the "various circumstances" excuse if there is some understanding that there are other Megaman projects and that the game has lost it's creative direction. That's what happened first.

Then the infamous Resident Evil save game case. Capcom has made the decision to attempt to reduce the used game market buy puttying a single save game file on the Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D game for the Nintendo 3DS. Needless to say that is has caused quite a stir amongst fans, for it is impossible to erase it and therefore impossible to reset the game for a new player and nearly impossible to sell it used if the game is fully unlocked for the new player.

Afterwards Capcom has announced a followup of the street fighter franchise. Only it's an upgrade pack of the street fighter IV game. They have done it before, they made SFIV in 2008, Super SFIV in 2010 and later this year Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. All priced reasonably but still a way to milk their franchise isn't it? I'm not gonna argue on how much better their versions of the games are on each iterations. Nor will I say that the Street Fighter Franchise is bad. Quite the contrary, the games have gathered a lot of positive review and praise from critics. It's just, in my honest opinion, the same game with more character and features that could've been implemented in the first place. But I digress. It's a personal point.

Recently the cancellation of the Megaman Legend 3 reveals that the company has no plans for that franchise as of now. again I'd like to remind you that Inafune had a key role in the development of that game, but was replaced once he left. he even issued an apology to the fans by stating that he was sorry he couldn't assist in the making of that game, even if he's not part of Capcom anymore.

And now Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been announced just today, and will release less than a year after the original Marvel Vs Capcom 3. Do you guys see a pattern here? I certainly do.

Now I won't make the calls on whether the game are good or not. Capcom has their shares of innovation that failed and succeeded , as well as franchises that makes great games, and some that makes poor ones. But is it just me or they are taking us for granted?

I have always been afraid of the circumstances that would allow the industry to shift from making great and fun games, to making games that sell fast. Not that it's wrong to want to make a game that will sell, but quick cash grabs will always span forgettable experiences in gaming. Just look at movies that spans video games for example. And the worrisome thing is that very few players that have experienced the earlier iterations of the games that have been already released, will be inclined to get toward the competitive gaming adjustment coming from the new releases. I've played street fighter 4 before, and had enough. unless i play the game regularly and competitively I won't desire the new street fighter games. They are good but forgettable releases, and an evident attempt to make some money with barely any novelty. A very poor decision in the marketing department.

So why oh why has Capcom shifted toward that direction? Dead rising has been a well received franchise and it's new, so why haven't they kept their focus in making it bigger and better with new iterations? Or even making the rebirth of old games that made the company success before? Megaman seems to be out of the loop, but there are others. Ghouls and Goblins, Breath of Fire, hell, even Firebrand (demon's crest on the SNES) could have a dedicated game that would spring a good amount of interest for gamers.

Maybe it's not time, but making decisions like the ones that have been cited in this post makes Capcom look bad and even if they haven't got plans for the immediate release of games that makes most of the company's success such as Resident Evil (although, I admit, this could be argued), they seem in limbo and are looking at a signpost pointing to many direction, but just stay there and stare at it, like it's a big lava lamp.

So what's the future if this keeps on going on? They have enough success with their key games to not be worried. However if those games take a step in that realm of forgettable experiences, it has potential to blow up in their faces. I want innovation and reinvention of old things for better interactive entertainment, creating new experiences. This is something I crave personally. But Capcom is stagnating, and that's never a good sign. I sure hope it's not the same for their bank roll.

But the real problem is their transparency behind their choices. The canned games announcement don't have any specific details on their reasons behind the decision. We can only assume the obvious, "Doesn't make money anymore" argument, but it's a bit easy to say that. You could also go to believe that it's a personal vendetta toward Inafune, but I'm only speaking in speculations because I found no details on the circumstances behind those cancellations. Their future will only be determined by their will to open the dialog with the gamer instead of keeping us in the dark.

Get your act together Capcom.
Don't scrap it all for cheap reasons.   read

1:18 PM on 05.29.2011

3 week late reviews - Mortal Kombat has never been better

I've never been a big fan of the MK series. The main reason is that I know somebody that has been once the top 5-ish best player in north america at Mortal Kombat 3. I mostly played with him, and he admitted that he got a raging semi every times he played the game. That kinda put me off every time. It was also pretty humiliating losing 30 times in a row to that guy. I'm not looking at ways to break my ego to pieces at a daily basis, so the MK games never been a favorite.

That reboot got my attention when I started to play at a friend's party. The bad voice acting, tongue in cheek dialog, not so bad storyline which actually made sense and was pretty much in line with the movie's plot, brutal moves and gut spill fatalities, blood splatter, bones cracks, wear and tear on the clothes and flesh of the combatants, everything a violence fetishist would love to have on a big friday night out with S&M chicks. Having that Image in my head, I bought it on a whim, fairly quickly after that with a full suit in black spandex. Y'know, new experiences :P

Most of you know that, I'm a sucker for gameplay. It's the first factor that makes me judge a game generally. But this game has more eye candy that I can handle. All chicks in the game have humongous boobs and cleavage, every dude are more muscled than marcus phoenix on steroids, stages are glorious and scary, diversified and true to the context of Mortal Kombat. So whats not to like? In all honesty, on the graphic side of things I have absolutely nothing to blame to the game. I really like the fact that characters show wear and tear as they are fighting. Mortal Kombat makes more sense when character's clothes are all ripped off, they have huge gashes when you can see the bones under the flesh, it's bloody brutal, and it's awesome for that. And it's not generic, the game actually makes the damages happen where you get hit or where you hit. Even more awesome, not everyone has the same physiology. If you take the character Scorpion, which is basically undead, we can see his skull's cranium when you hit him in the face too often. I'll get on other graphics effects with other sections.

On the gameplay side, I was pleasantly surprised that they made the reboot in 2D. The essence of the gameplay didn't need more complex approaches like in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance where every character had 3 different move sets with different martial arts and weapons and different inputs for every move sets, It was a goddamn nightmare and I'm glad they moved away from that. In this reboot the controls a lot more accessible and more forgiving to the new players. The moves are a lot closer to the gameplay of Street Fighter 4 if you played the latter. They're fairly easy to make and there is not a ton of them so you can master a character a lot more quickly.

However I wouldn't praise the game if it would not have great gameplay innovations and polish. As you make special moves and get hit, it fills a super bar. That bar can be used to amplify your special attacks (more damage, or even trickier moves to break the rhythm of another player). 2/3rd of it can also be consumed for making combo breakers, and it can be fully consumed to make an Xray move. The X-rays, when they connect, are brutal attacks that removes from 1/4th to 3/4th of the health bars of your enemy depending with who you play with. The most particular thing about them is that, as they are executed, all the hits that connect are shown as X-rays where you can see the bones break, organs being pierced, and teeth fly off the mouths. Gameplay wise, they're tactical moves, because most of them are blocked easily. Visually and with the noise those breaking sounds make, my teeth grinds every time.


But what's even more amazing, is that they're not the most brutal moves, the fatalities are still here to steal the show and make billions with it a fiscal paradise. Here are some of them. Credits to the guys @ Achievement Hunter to make it entertaining .


All character are voiced differently and yell differently when they use attacks, I found that it was a nice touch, as it diversify the war yells from the different pitched "YAH" or "AYAH" (3 ninjas anyone?). Voice acting while a bit cheesy at times, is actually fitting the characters pretty well. Hits sound and attack are pretty brutal, and weighted. I didn't care for the musical aspect, as the volume by default is unbelievably low and couldn't care about rising it. It could have been as awesome as the movies's soundtracks but I guess the game music department is inhabited by a hobo and a few raccoons fighting over a piece of meat.

Personal Take
I'm a fan of fighting games. However Mortal combat has always warded me off because it wasn't accessible at all to new players. This one made it into my PS3 for more reasons than just the quality of the gameplay and the visuals. The game has actually a story mode that starts at MK1 and ends up at the MK3 storyline. It has full voice acting from all 26 character that are introduced in that mode, with their motivations, backstory, circumstances and behavior that gets explained. It's not always logical, but it explains so much stuff that I didn't heard about when I was younger, that it makes all the character likable. Johnny cage is a huge douchebag with his name tattooed on his chest. And I love that, he's so true to his douchebaggery, and his attitude post fight, is just hilarious and yet it fits the character.

But just having good characters to play is not enough by today's standard. You need more modes to be playing with them. And they made a lot of those modes. Classic ladder which would be the arcade mode, tag ladder with tags character a la Marvel Vs Capcom, test your might/sight/luck types of minigames which were introduced at Mortar Kombat 3 I think. And a challenge tower mode which reminds me of the same kind of mode in Soul Calibur 4. However this challenge tower introduces 300 challenges with all the games characters, with a bit of a context, (which is not always serious, there are fights in there that requires you to throw your limbs at the other character or spill as much blood as you can for a minute) It takes the gameplay out of the box, and It gives so much more fun and game time. It's UNBELIEVABLY addictive and sometimes VERY hard to get through. But they managed a system that can make you skip the challenge if it's too hard for you.

But the real extra treat they threw in a mode where you can unlocks fatalities, costumes and game art and design through a… let's say, "land of the damned". Controls are very annoying in that mdoe but you're basically in a deadland of infested bodies and every corpse/torture machine unlocks one of the feature I mentioned. It gives a motivation to make combats because every fight makes your earns Koins that can be spend in tha Krypt (yes… with a K).

Overall I enjoyed the game a lot and I haven't seen all the fatalities and moves of all player yet. I've played maybe a good 30/40 hours. However, the games stays true to it's roots. Shao Khan, the last boss of the game, is very frustrating to fight, Just like Goro, and Kintaro. They have unblockable moves that are bitch and they're all f'n too powerful. As a fighting game enthusiast, I found ways to beat all characters more and more easily as I tried, but it won't help those who are looking at instant gratification. Most of the game modes get exponentially hard. I'm the kind that like a good challenge, but it's not to everybody's taste.

I only got praise for the game design & polish, huge amount of content and game modes, visuals that makes your heart falter and gameplay that is simple and deep at the same time. If you like fighting game, DO buy it or at least try it, you won' t be disappointed. Ah… yeah, it also has online, but since the PSN outage, I couldn't play it and didn't bother to have my ego shattered more than it already was. And if you get the PS3 Version, you get to have Kratos (from God of War) which suprisignly fits the crowd very well.

Cheers I'm gonna drink a pint of blood… eeeeeeeeer beer   read

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