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Sgt Cheesecake's blog

8:01 PM on 06.14.2011

Hell is other Nintendo 3DS'

March 27th was a pretty big day for gamers as Nintendo put out their 3DS. I had my worries about if the system would work for me, but upon seeing one launch day I ran right out to get one. Little did I know then that my $250 investment would haunt me for months after the fact.

About how I feel right now.

This is a bit of a long story, but it has been going on for months so please, bear with me.

A few weeks in with my system, I noticed there were some clusters of dead pixels on the system that were forming in the focal point of the 3D screen, making seeing the effect difficult. On April 24th, I put in my first repair ticket to get that system replaced. On the 6th of May, they sent it back to me, arriving half a week later. When I opened the package, the system was covered in deep scratches on top of the system, and some smaller ones on the touch screen. I called Nintendo up and explained that I felt it was unacceptable to receive the system in such a condition. May 11th, the system was back to New York to get repaired yet again. On the 19th of May, it was repaired and sent back to me several days later with a letter of apology. This system unfortunately had a dead pixel on the screen but it was out of the way enough so that it was not an issue, and I was satisfied with my system.

June 6th, the eShop update hits at last. Giving me the ability to download Excitebike and that Pokemon 3D app for free, as well as access to 3D trailers of games, among other things. That night I played excitebike for half an hour before heading to bed, my system in mint condition and me finally feeling excited that my waiting and frustration was finally paying off at last. I placed the system on its charger to prepare itself for the next day, and I went to bed. The next morning I woke up, and my system's top screen had begun to slide down to one side IN the system. I could not believe my eyes. I sat there measuring it out and leveling it and sure enough, the angle was getting worse as the day went on. How this happened, I do not know. The system has never left my house let alone traveled out of my room.

I called Nintendo, upset at this new development. I opted to take the replacement option where they send me a 3DS in advance, then I send them my old one. They explain that this is not an option due to my system having been repaired so many times, but eventually I got them to agree to the advance replacement on the condition that I have not purchased any games with actual money on the 3DS, as there was no way for me to recover these to the replacement 3DS without having it done at a repair center. Since I have not bought any games on the eShop, just the free software, I was allowed to do the advance replacement.

My hope was that I would have a working 3DS at long last in time for the weekend, as the long awaited Legend of Zelda 3DS remake is hitting. Nintendo shipped me my replacement 3DS on June 9th, with 2 day shipping though it hit during the weekend so I got my system in on monday. When I opened the box the system appeared to have arrived in one piece, but then I noticed that the touch screen had been slanted sideways. It was only slightly at first, so I decided to see if it would get any worse over time. It began to slide a slight bit more, however it wasn't until monday night when I would understand that this system was not an acceptable replacement.

To the left, the replacement system with the touch screen starting to slant, before the further complications arrived. To the right, the system with the top screen heavily slanted and getting worse.

I was playing Excitebike again, just tinkering with it as something to pass the time with. I set my system down on the desk and went to get a glass of water, and upon my return the top screen had a weird VHS tracking bug like visual artifact all along the top row. You guys saw this as the first image in the post. It was freaking out and acting like it was trying to be 3D even though the screen was on 2D mode. I went to bed extremely disappointed, and in the morning that is when I decided to try to call some public attention to my issue.

I need some help, Dtoid. I need you guys to help me raise awareness of the insane amount of lemon systems I have received from Nintendo, in hopes that I can get something done by making this issue public. I love Nintendo, and their customer service has been mostly understanding during this. But it is getting to the point where kind support techs and increasingly faster shipping speeds just aren't enough. I paid $250 for a system, and I expect it to be able to withstand staying still in my room without falling apart as an essential for existing. Lord knows what could happen to the lemons I have gotten from Nintendo if I dared put one in my pocket and took it for a stroll. Several months and 4 broken 3DS systems later, I need to start screaming from the trees.

Because if I don't scream from them, they might cut them all down sending me letters with my repair/replacement systems. And this is still missing some of the papers!   read

10:37 PM on 04.21.2010

Silent Hill, First Person, and You!

So there's this rumor going around saying that the new Silent Hill may be done in First Person. Well, it got me thinking. Just how well could this whole thing work? The series really got its chops for the chilling atmosphere and creepy vibes, but not exactly the gameplay mechanics. Silent Hill, like many other horror games of the past, has had a bit of an identity crisis in trying to evolve with current gaming standards. Silent Hill 1-3 may have come out at a time where the tank-like controls were considered acceptable; but by the time 4 came out the whole scheme was getting old and tired. Recent series entries Homecoming and Shattered Memories both did their part to create a better third-person control scheme (Shattered Memories needs way more credit for the very fluid use of the wiimote-flashlight setup).

But now we're taking a look at a new world where Silent Hill has never gone before: fully First Person perspective. Are the days of carefully constructed third person dynamic camera angle changes thrown out of the window? Is the series about to lose even more of its signature style that made the first games so unique?

Relax and take a deep breath, and grab some food while you're at it. Here is why I think Silent Hill can live on in a first person style.

There is a scene in Silent Hill 4 which inspired me to think about first person horror games and how they could work. I remember getting to the spot where you are walking around the apartment building that faces Henry's, and there is a hallway where a bunch of screeching creatures are jumping from one rooftop to the next. There are so many of them, but thankfully none seem to care that you are beneath them. Their speed, trajectory and urgency made me think about a possibility of having to run from these creatures. For some reason, I thought up of a First Person scenario that played out closer to Mirror's Edge than the way the in-apartment segments did in that game. You would jump from rooftop to rooftop evading these bastards and finding ways to make them fall to their deaths, before finally reach a safe zone of escape.

I haven't thought about that for a few years, but it was the first thing that popped up in my head as I read the title of the article on the front page this afternoon. Just imagine it: You're being chased by something in the thick fog, unsure of your next route of escape. There's plenty of routes to take, but which street is the best one to lose this creature on? Or do you run to a building or alleyway and try to ambush it with a good 2x4, complete with rusty nails crashing down on its head? And what are the risks of you finding more creatures in the foggy ether? It's a lot to take in, but could be very well done if we recall that the series for the most part allowed you to escape every encounter on foot.

Totally Legit.

First Person Horror is not something new. One of the most popular recent examples I can think of is Condemned: Criminal Origins. Now I never did finish the game, but what I did play of it felt so right in how it executed level design and enemy placement/movement to create a fear in the player. I hear Condemned 2 lost some of the charm but she was certainly a looker. While I don't think Silent Hill needs to follow exactly in Condemned's hobo-bashing footsteps, it is a great place to start. Another game series to look at for first person horror done right is the Penumbra series, which provided some chilling moments and the right amount of atmosphere. Or even the often mentioned Bioshock/System Shock 2.

Then there's the Half Life 2 mod Korsakovia. While it wasn't exactly the most well designed mod out there, the final levels were breathtaking in their deconstruction of everything the mod had taught you up to that point. It struck me as something the gods at Silent Hill may prepare for a special breed of asshole.

This is because the last two levels were no fun to play. The platforming was pretty bad, and I got so tired of stupid slip-ups that, after a few tries, I just no-clipped through quite a few of the annoying segments. But the design, the very fact that these objects were just floating in space in that manner, felt like something Silent Hill would churn out. I'm sure we can find a way to mix the trademark otherworldly beauty with level design that doesn't make the player want to rip their hair out.

One of the other tactics that Silent Hill used well was Impossible Space. Doorways that inexplicably teleported you to the other side of a hotel, but going back into the door would put you into the hotel room the door actually belonged to. Sudden drop-offs where actual ground once stood. Twisting paths of grated floor that would take you not only off the beaten path, but well off of your map as well. The way that Silent Hill toyed with your expectations during exploration is something that can be done very well in the First Person as well. Hazard: The Journey of Life is an Unreal Tournament 3 mod that uses exploration and puzzle solving along with impossible spaces to confuse and humble the player at the same time.

I think you should experience the way Hazard works, as that will help you understand where I'm coming from better than I can explain with words without becoming too long-winded. You can download the demo (It's standalone, but your computer will need to be able to run Unreal Engine 3 games) or watch this youtube.

Checked it out yet? Alright then, now imagine that with some Silent Hill settings!

One of the hobbies that Silent Hill caused me to take some interest in is Urban Exploration. People often go to abandoned buildings and areas and walk around capturing the haunting images of a place rotting itself down. The people that do this aren't doing so in a third person perspective, they are in a first person perspective and so are all of the photos and videos we get to see of their findings. If one studies UE long enough, you'll find that a first person Silent Hill could benefit from studying what makes these images so haunting. People have chilling tales of exploring these areas only to get spooked by something, causing them to run for their lives. We could use these fears to our advantage to create the proper Silent Hill atmosphere again.

The next step would be to write the next warped tale to wrap our heads around, to base the decay and the darkness for our flashlights to illuminate and cause shadows to dance around in. If we could capture that "I'm running up these basement stairs because for all I know some nasty shit is coming up behind me" feeling, tie it together with the proper sound design, another Akira Yamaoka soundtrack, and the other elements I've listed above... I believe Silent Hill will have found its calling in today's gaming market.   read

5:58 PM on 09.08.2009

"They Say it's your Birthday"

On September 9th, 1988, this cheesecake popped out of the oven looking as all cheesecakes tend to. I was a blank slate, ready to be garnished and sweetened however my upbringing would see fit. Would I be graced with blueberries? Strawberries? Raspberries? A chocolate pattern, perhaps? No one knew at that time what would become of this little cheesecake, other than that he would follow the same basic path that all cheesecakes do. They're baked, and then they are eaten. It was up to me to decide what I would do along that path to being digested by the universe.

I grew up in a rather musical household. Neither of my parents were musicians, but they both had a large appreciation for music of all kinds. It was actually split between my parents. My mother had the widest taste ranging from jazz and classical to the tiniest sub-genre of rock your standard pigeonholing fruitcake would try to create. My dad on the other hand was mostly a southern rock and country kinda guy, which was something my mom didn't listen to often but appreciated nonetheless. As the years went by I was lucky enough to be exposed to music from all generations past, including what was at the time considered "modern".

Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Billie Holiday, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Travis Tritt, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Stone Temple Pilots, BB King, Django Reinhardt, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Offspring, Johnny Lang, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Brooks & Dunn, Beethoven, Everclear, Steely Dan, ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers, Chopin, The Tubes, Roxy Music, System of a Down, Etta James, Metallica, AC/DC, KMFDM, Susan Tedeschi, The Grateful Dead, and countless others were artists I was exposed to at a very young age and gained an appreciation for. Not just the bands themselves, but for their respective sounds, influences, and impact on the music world as a whole. But one band stuck out to me the most as a child growing up. A band that my family would soon identify as "My Band".

That band was The Beatles.

After I first heard their early material (Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, etc) I confiscated my parents' tape collection of their work and held it in my room. I listened to it nonstop as I was taken aback by the power of the overly cheery love songs, spiced up with the occasional downer such as Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby. Then I discovered the weirder side of The Beatles, with Yellow Submarine being my jump off point into the darker, psychedelic side of the band.

I have fond memories of taking my Talkboy out with me to the park in the summer and swinging on the swings, with tracks like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds fueling unusual twists in my imagination. Somehow the vibes were always right, and after years of this the smell of grass and the view of the old park (which has since changed quite a bit) have become associated with good times, and The Beatles. My aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins all got to hear about my own case of beatlemania. My friends thought I was quite strange for having The Beatles as my favorite band, but I couldn't imagine someone not liking their music. It had become fairly ingrained in my very DNA, that the music of The Beatles would never leave me until the day I die.

September 9th, 1999. The Dreamcast is released in the United States. At the time, I was still fairly behind in the game world. I had a SNES with a massive library of games, and an N64 which was purchased a year before that. But how my mouth dropped in awe at the look of launch title Dreamcast games like Sonic Adventure. It looked so much better than my N64 or my friends' Playstations. And every game I saw made me want a Dreamcast more and more. But I couldn't convince my parents to allow me to get a third console, so something had to go.

I remained stubborn on this, until an issue of EGM came to my doorstep that contained details on a great new game called "Phantasy Star Online". From the moment I set my eyes upon the first screenshot of the game, to reading about the class system and the loot details I was hooked. After the game came out, I read each review I could find and drooled over the extremely positive marks it got. I decided it was time to get a Dreamcast. Unfortunately, my SNES and the entire library of games had to go in order to get it. But I was fine with this, and not but a year or two after getting my Dreamcast would I step into the emulation world so I think things turned out alright after all.

PSO was just the jumping point for my Dreamcast adventures. Jet Grind Radio, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Ikaruga, Outtrigger, Illbleed, Shenmue... So many radical new worlds and ideas to explore. I played my Dreamcast more often than I did my N64, and the Dreamcast quickly became my favorite system of all time. My room was covered in demo discs from the Dreamcast Magazine and printouts of drop charts and maps and strategies from PSO-World. Unfortunately for me, the Dreamcast would die an early death at the hands of the Playstation 2 and Sega's own fanatical thinking and experimentation. Even with Seganet, the world just wasn't ready for the Dream Machine.

September 9th, 2009. The Beatles: Rock Band will be released, making a huge jump for the legacy of "My Band". It is an outstanding tribute to a band that has changed the face of music for an uncountable amount of people. I am happy to say that I am one of them. Along with the release of the Stereo/Mono remasters, and the rumor of The Beatles finally joining iTunes, The Beatles are inescapable right now. Recently, every day is just ever so slightly rose tinted for me by the fact that The Beatles are back in a big way. And the thought occurs to me: What luck I have to have so many things fall in to place like this.

I also turn 21 on that day. I will have made my final step into "adulthood", achieving the last hurdle of being able to legally drink. It is a landmark day for many a person, but for me it won't just be a day about the booze. To this day, I still listen to The Beatles. Their albums are on my laptop, my desktop, my iPod, my external hard drive. To this day, my Dreamcast sits proudly in my room. I boot it up every once in a while to play the classics the way they were 10 years ago. I own Xbox Live versions of Ikaruga and Rez, Gamecube versions of Skies of Arcadia, PSO and Ikaruga, and Jet Set Radio Future. And I play them to this day. I am still an active member over at PSO-World, ever since I first signed up there back in late summer 2003.

Music is still a huge part of my life. I listen to a wide variety of artists and genres, and always look out for a new and different sound. In my spare time I write album reviews for albums that are able to inspire me to write something about them. My love of music brought me to love the Rock Band series of games. I was exposed to it by a friend who took me with him to perform vocals during the Rock Band Tour that went around the country in 2007. I currently own Rock Band 2 for the Xbox 360 and an insane amount of DLC. And now "My Band" is being brought to a format that I love, to a system that owes a lot to the ground the Dreamcast broke. Some people may be a little tired of being stuck in a rut where a lot of things haven't changed since they were kids.

But me? I'm just fine here, thanks.   read

7:01 PM on 03.16.2009

You're My Best Friend - A Resident Evil 5 Review

Game: Resident Evil 5
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3.

Co-op seems to be all the rage these days. Ever since competitive multiplayer came around there has been a vocal group seeking after the ability to share an adventure with a friend in a co-operative manner. A handful of games have given the buddy-gaming world a spin. With consoles having online capabilities we've seen demand for more co-op experiences rise incredibly. Some games have had mixed results while others have missed the point.

Enter Resident Evil 5, a game that has been marching to the beat of the Co-op drum since Capcom first announced the feature years ago. Little did we know back then that this would not be the usual lukewarm trite co-op tack-on that other games were pulling out of their asses, but almost the entire selling point of the game. When the demo was released people got a taste of just how co-op would work, and the praise began to pour. Few worried that the whole game would become a drag with another person, or wouldn't be able to pull it off without the game becoming too obvious and ham-fisted in the way it dealt with two players.

Well the game is finally in our hands, so how well does the tightrope hold up with two people trying to cross it?

RE5 is really several different games in one, and it takes some time with the game to understand this (and master-of-unlocking it, but more on that later). Here's a breakdown of what you get in the full package:

Resident Evil 5, Single Player Edition: An intense 7 to 8 hour park ride that has 4 difficulties. Amateur, Normal, Veteran and Professional (unlockable). Features include Quick Time Events, A.I. partner, trading minigame (in real time with a stubborn trader!), and incredibly campy storyline that teeters on the edge of corny horror film and wacky Japanese tentacle porn.

Resident Evil 5, Cooperative Edition: An intense 7 to 8 hour park ride with the same 4 difficulties. Includes the exact same attractions and features but with another human being behind the wheel instead of a silly computer controlled partner.

Resident Evil 5, The Club Edition: Mercenaries mode is a race against the clock to kill as many infected as possible while getting time bonuses and combos to unlock more characters with different weapon layouts and new stages. Can be played by yourself or with another human player!

The Single Player experience will be a mixed one for most people. The A.I. partner jumps around from being mentally disabled to suicidal. A.I. Sheva is a decent healer, and is a good shot with whatever gun you give her. She does have some drawbacks, including her wanton use of ammunition and health supplies. She also makes mistakes here and there, getting stuck between a wall and a boss creature with a chainsaw or massive axe and getting killed. She's not exactly stupid, but far from the ideal partner. Some puzzles can trip her up, but a simple press of the B button can call her back to your side to try again. She has two modes of operation, one which has her stay closer to you and use ammo slightly less, while the other encourages her to seek out battles and blast everything in sight. You can also give her items to hold on to or use, or give her healing items to save both of your asses with. Some players will not mind her, other players will hate her.

You play through the game in chapters, with sub-chapters breaking things up as checkpoints to sell and buy items and upgrade your weapons. Each sub-chapter will score you on kills, deaths and how long it took you to finish it. You earn points based on the rank you receive which can be used to buy unlockables. Once you've beaten a sub-chapter you can replay it on any difficulty, allowing you to go through your favorite stage at any time.

Combat has been the source of much controversy, forcing you to stand still like a deer staring into headlights while you aim your weapon to take a shot. It feels a little outdated by today's standards but it takes a little adaptation to get used to.

The Cooperative experience is almost a completely different experience, with a second human player taking over Sheva. This allows players to form more complex strategies, use their ammo and weaponry wisely and share the thrill ride with a buddy. The person playing Sheva will play with Sheva on the right side of the screen, and this may be a little disorienting for players who are used to left-side characters like in Gears of War. The levels and puzzles are exactly the same as they are in the single player game, but the game plays perfectly fine that way as there isn't any tweaking needed to account for the second body. The game was built to be played this way, and should be played this way if possible. And with online and couch co-op ability, there's almost no excuse not to.

Mercenaries mode is exactly like Mercenaries from Resident Evil 4, where you play on simple stages with a timer counting down with the simple goal of killing as much as you can. You pick from a number of characters (most of them unlockable by doing well in the stages) who have different weapon layouts, and a handful of stages to kill in. After each run, you get a score, rank and some points. These levels contain a large amount of replayability, and can be played solo (without the AI Partner) or with a human partner.

Weapon upgrading is back, allowing you to buy increased firepower and ammunition count on your weaponry. I wish the game had a more in-depth customization system like MGS4 which let you buy custom hardware for your weapons and make the gun have a physical change to give it a different look and feel. But what is there is a solid system and will surely have players replaying levels over and over again to get money for upgrades.

Speaking of purchasing, there is a ton of content to unlock. The game allows you to purchase different things based on how many chapters you've beaten and on certain difficulties, number of BSAA emblems you've shot, etc. Once you unlock the ability to get that item you must spend the points you earn from beating the sub-chapters and in Mercs mode to purchase the content. There are highly-detailed "figures" of each character, alternative costumes, infinite ammo for fully upgraded weapons, graphics filters and more. For those who need everything unlocked in a game, this alone will keep you very busy.

The game looks fantastic, with some of the best looking character models in a current gen game, and some jaw dropping particle effects. The lighting is very well done and never overwhelms you with too much bloom. Each area you visit has its own feel and never do you feel like you're stuck in a generic hallway. There is some screen tearing issues and the enemies have some heavily overused animations but in the midst of a heavy battle it won't matter much to you as they pass by so quickly. Sound is also appropriate, weapons sound off with an appropriate kick and the voicework is never muddled by the music. Though some of the dialog delivery is corny, it's a series standard so I let it slide.

I will also note that Capcom has announced an online versus mode that will cost PSN members $4 and Xbox Live members 400 MS Points. The modes include a versus Mercenaries type mode which has people competing for a higher kill count/score, and a standard 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 deathmatch mode. Personally, I think this sounds like it would have the grace of a drunken elephant stumbling around a busy highway, with the gameplay of a third-person whack-a-mole game with shotguns. It doesn't sound worth the money to me, but the option will be available later, for a small price. So you can take this into consideration when you buy the game.

I've used the term replay a lot in this review, and that is what Resident Evil 5 has a lot of. From the ease of returning to whatever level you want, to 4 different difficulties and a massive collection of unlockables, there are a lot of reasons to play the game over and over again. And for a game with such a short story, this is a very good thing. It will all come down to how much you want to get the extra costumes and action figures, and if you have a friend to play the game with you or not. Resident Evil 5 is purely action and none of the scares from the original games in the series, but as far as action games go it's a hell of a ride.


Sorry for the long-winded review. I haven't done one for a game in a very long time. I do, however, do music reviews somewhat more often on my wordpress blog. I've considered cross-posting the album reviews to D-toid under the NVGR label, but I wasn't sure I wanted to without knowing if D-toid would care for them. They're usually much shorter than the above review, and I try to cover different genres though I know I won't be able to get them all or even a fraction of them as just one man. So let me know if you want to see my music reviews on the Cblogs, as well as the usual torch-and-pitchforks fest that happens with most reviews. Thanks for reading.   read

6:11 AM on 01.21.2009

Gears of War 2 gets update #2.

I was playing Gears of War 2 at a very early hour this morning and got disconnected from Live during my session. After a chapter I decided to try to log back in, and it told me a title update was available and I needed to download it. I shot my browser over to the official Gears of War 2 forums and found the following thread.

Rod Fergusson says, just before the massive fix list:

Hey all,

I'm happy to announce that Title Update 2 for Gears of War 2 is now available. It went live this morning at 2 AM PST (5 AM EST) and as you can see from the detailed release notes below, it's a significant update. It addresses a large number of multiplayer exploits and issues as well as makes some balancing tweaks, includes a couple of new features and even adds 7 new DLC-based achievements. Four of the new achievements require the Flashback Map Pack that came free with your new copy of the game, so don't forget to redeem your code inside the box!

Once again, I want to thank our community for their patience while we finished this title update and I want to thank everyone for their ongoing support of the game. Gears 2 sales topped over 4 million copies sold in just two months and when we released the Combustible Map Pack in December, it became the number one piece of premium downloadable content for that month.

We're continuing to work hard supporting the game and you, the community, and we look forward to seeing you online.

Among some of the bugfixes are some interesting ones, such as my favorite: "A Horde split-screen issue that could cause a team to get –2 billion in score, which when posted to the leaderboards looked like +2 billion." Be sure to check out the full list of fixes at the link provided above. But is it too little too late for Gears of War 2 to get back to business for you?   read

7:30 PM on 08.11.2008

Halo 3 wins Edge award for Innovation; Internet disagrees

Edge Magazine has stirred up some controversy with their recent ruling on their award for "Most Innovative" this year. Bungie's Halo 3 took the award beating out Portal, Wii Fit, and Grand Theft Auto IV. A quote from the official edge page:

This year’s Edge Award For Interactive Innovation was a closely fought affair, Bungie proving victorious in a shortlist that also included Grand Theft Auto IV, Portal, Rock Band, Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit.

Ultimately it is the integration and coherence of Halo 3’s online content that makes the game stand apart. From its Theater mode to Forge, and the way a party playing through Live can seamlessly manoeuvre between them, here is an experience that demonstrates an unparalleled understanding of the potential for console online play. Outside of the game, has been engineered to become a remarkable resource for Halo 3 stats and communities, providing life for the game even when your Xbox 360 is switched off. Halo 3, just as Halo 2 did before it, presents a roadmap for the way online will be integrated in videogames in the coming years.

Source here.

But for some, like the readers of Edge magazine and another videogame blog site that starts with a K, they feel the award is unjust and that the award belongs to Portal.

Now let us think about this for a second. Halo 3 does have a fairly robust online mode, and Theater mode and Forge are cool editions for games. Theater Mode removes the old way of sharing videos with friends over a shitty quality youtube video, and Forge lets you mess around with levels in real time while people play. But the stat-tracking is nothing new, Counter Strike: Source servers (with the proper mod installed) have had detailed stat tracking for years. But Forge is limited to pre-built levels and unlike the PC community (I know, blah blah blah I'm not trying to start a PC vs Console war, here) cannot have truly custom content. Video sharing is nice too, and Theater mode streamlines the process, but Youtube has been around for quite some time and videos of games have been showing up there for a while too. So in the end, is it really award winningly innovative?

But what about the other games? Portal took puzzle solving and put it into a first person view. While you could argue it is original, the game is a spiritual sequel to a game made by basically the same people, Narbacular Drop. It was still a hell of a lot of fun, with a devilishly funny antagonist and the overplayed end theme song.

GTA IV was a huge upgrade to the formula established by GTA III, but that was about it. Online play in the large multi-island world is fun and with the sandbox online mode you and your friends can make up your own original game ideas, and that is the one thing it did innovate on. And who can hate on BEEG AMERICAN TEETEES?

Wii Fit... Well, at least it isn't a Richard Simmons licensed product.

All in all, It does feel kind of like a close shave when it comes to the Innovation factor for these games. But who, in your opinion, takes the award? More importantly, what do you define as gaming innovation?   read

9:47 PM on 04.15.2008

"It's Tetsuya Mizuguchi" - email from Q?

For those of you who didn't register with the during the "Free game giveaway" back when the site went live, here's some excerpts from the mailer recently sent out to Rez fans.

Hello from Tokyo!

First, I'd like thank you for taking the time to sign up at the Rez HD website, which we launched back in January. It took us a little while, but we are excited to bring you our first ever newsletter and hope that you will enjoy your time with us.

As many of you know, Rez holds an extra special meaning for special that I knew I would go back to work on the "complete Rez" at some point in the future. It was a thought that never left my mind. Well, on January 30, that became a reality when Rez HD was released for the Xbox LIVE Arcade...have you already had a chance to play what I consider the "complete Rez"? (I hope so!)

Back in 2001, when working on the original Rez, I was confident but yet worried. "Why?" you may ask...the truth is that since both games and music have no borderlines, by combining those two into an interactive form, I had a certain level of expectation from gamers around the world. But at the same time, I feared that this concept may not be fully understood by both gamers and music lovers. The one thing I did know though was that games were ever-changing and I was determined to create a game that was an indication of a future game. I wanted to make a game that was unheard of - something completely different. The result was Rez, a project that was made like a road film through traveling around the world and meeting people along the way.

Fast forward 7 years and a new Rez is born! Now in hi-def, wide-screen format, you will see no jaggies and I guarantee you will get sucked right into the game. I'm just amazed and impressed at how much of a difference the resolution makes; it makes it that much more exciting to play!  Plus, by digitally distributing this game (= being environmentally friendly), I feel as if we are in some ways conforming to its theme of "restoring the beauty of the world..."

In addition to the visuals, the sound component - what I consider the root of this game - has been enhanced significantly thanks to the surround sound technology. You should be able to feel, not just hear, the sounds as they are made...the role that it plays in this game is extremely important. For those of you who are set up with 5.1 surround, I hope you were able to feel the sounds, in detail, approaching in three-dimension - you should also be able to get the same experience through 5.1 surround headphones.

I've seen some people post their Rez HD impressions on the forums, but I look forward to hearing more about your own experience. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your experience with other Rez fans!

With Rez HD, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I am also very fortunate to have been able to recreate something that takes us beyond the experience of the original Rez and present Rez in the quality and form that is very close to what I had envisioned back then. I will take what I have learned from this experience and apply whatever I can to my other fact, I'm SO ready to move onto my next project! What am I waiting for!?

I look forward to the day when I can share that new experience with all of you...!

Until next time,

Tetsuya Mizuguchi

There was a lot more to the newsletter, but in order to keep up with DMCA policy and such, I will only quote that. I'm lead to believe if you follow this link you may be able to read the rest of the newsletter.

Rez Email?

It works for me but it might not work for you.

There was also mention of "Quiz the Miz", where you can post questions to the man himself on the official forums and he may answer them in the next news letter! Sign up at today to receive further newsletters and also check out the official forums and post your questions to the genius behind the multimedia experience Rez!   read

11:39 PM on 04.09.2008

My Ikaruga XBLA Review


Remember, Ikaruga is pronounced "Rape". Don't make the same mistake I did.

EDIT: Transcript for the youtube impaired.

There are games, there are gods, and then there are games that gods are made from. Treasure's Ikaruga just happens to fall into that third catagory.

Originally on the Arcade and Dreamcast back in 2001, Ikaruga has caused many gamers a great deal of frustration, while others study the game carefully, learning the complex patterns of the waves of enemies and frightening amount of bullets. You play as the ship "Ikaruga", and your goal is to stay alive, take out the bad guys, and rack up your score by linking combos. Sounds simple enough, right?

What makes Ikaruga stand apart from other shooting games of its kind, is the "Polarity" system. Some enemies are colored black/red, others are white/blue. Your ship has the ability to switch between both black and white, and you can absorb bullets of the same color as your ship. These bullets are then converted into a large enemy seeking bullets. The more you absorb, the more you can fire (though there is a limit). Just don't let an enemy bullet hit you that is not the same color as your ship, or you will die. And lives are a precious resource. However, if you shoot an enemy with an opposite color bullet than they are, they will die faster. There are 5 stages in all, which may not seem like much but they will keep you occupied. This game is still as hard as ever, and may leave some of you in tears as the game makes you its bitch. You will definitely be seeing a lot of deaths.

For those of you who owned the Dreamcast or Gamecube release will notice that this game is practically the same. Gameplay is the same, graphics are for the most part the same, though now in HD resolutions, sound is the same, etc. The only major difference is your menu options. Conquest mode and Practice mode from the gamecube game are gone, though the "Prototype" game mode can be unlocked. The game will let you choose any level you've been to previously even if you didn't beat it, so you can still practice that level you can't get past. The mode select screen from the gamecube version is gone, instead replaced with a simple menu that lets you get straight to the action. You can also change your screen settings, allowing you to set your zoom level, screen orientation, and your HUD position.

New to the Xbox 360 version is Online Co-Op, which is relatively lag free, Achievements, Replays, and leaderboards. Also, unlike the gamecube version which had text untranslated and removed from some parts, this game has all text intact, in all of its engrish glory.

For 800 MS Points ($10) you are getting the same game you've been playing which may turn off some players but there is no doubt this kind of release will bring the game to a slew of new players who were unable to find or afford a dreamcast or gamecube copy. Ikaruga is as great a game as ever, and feels right at home on the Xbox Live Arcade roster and is no doubt worth your money. Just remember, don't let the game get to you too much.   read

12:38 PM on 04.03.2008

Gamepro hands-on with MGS4; now with more

New batch of screens/videos and hands on preview within. Some excerpts:

Speaking of guns, Metal Gear Solid 4's arsenal options are already setting new standards. The game includes over 70 unique firearms, with an array of pistols, sub-machineguns, rifles, shotguns, and far, far more. Gun modifications are another bright spot in MGS4. Through a sleek 3D interface, we outfitted a basic M4 assault rifle with a laser sight, red-dot scope, flashlight, under-barrel grenade launcher (shotgun also available), plus a silencer. That's five upgrades attached to one gun -- astonishing! It's a minor miracle that the aging Snake is able to even heft that bulky, do-it-all firearm, let alone shoulder and fire it. In another realistic touch, you can set automatic weapons to single-shot, triple burst, and full-auto modes. Naturally, Snake's still got a full repertoire of close-quarters maneuvers, from basic hand-to-hand combos to silent strangleholds a la MGS3. The end result is an extremely versatile combat system that's loaded with replay value.

Playing a nearly complete build of Metal Gear Solid 4 running on the PlayStation 3 was a revelatory experience. The graphics looked sensational, the sound effects and music sounded magnificently epic, and the interface felt sleek and simple. In short, it's becoming increasingly clear that Metal Gear Solid 4 will be the rare game to live up to its own massive hype. We feel confident that MGS4 is the game PlayStation 3 owners (and Metal Gear fans) have been waiting years to play.

*inserts comment about 360 version here*

EDIT: To hell with it, here's 1up's hands on as well.   read

5:15 AM on 03.19.2008

Rez Beta Video - Developer Mode


The above video demonstrates some of the things you can do with a Dreamcast keyboard and another controller and your own copy of the Rez beta, "Vibes".

For more information on said beta, visit Galagabug's blog.   read

12:16 AM on 03.08.2008

Not My Turning Point gaming Rig

Pentium 4 @ 2.4 ghz
GeForce FX5200 256MB
2 gigs of some random Korean brand RAM
Built in sound card
DVD Drive
CD Drive (separate)
40 GB main HDD
80 GB 2nd HDD

The whole side panel has to be removed for proper ventilation, the floppy drive was also removed to allow for further ventilation from the front. Not pictured is the 1024x768 monitor with faded colors from being used for almost 6 years. She ain't purdy, but at least she turns on. I think.   read

11:59 PM on 02.24.2008

The return of

I'm expecting 11/10s all across the board, boys.   read

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