Don't worry, I won't mind if you scroll right down to the cartoons. You're a woman on the go and you don't have time to read. So long story short, my power was out for a while, thought about you a lot, drew pictures of Destructoid editors to keep my sanity, accidentally ate maggots, and now everything is back to normal, the end.
Four and a half days without electricity.
That doesn't sound too terrible considering the circumstances, but it was unpleasant nonetheless. I lost power last last Friday night and only got it back this past Wednesday. Most of it has blurred together, but I do remember how frustrating it was. Waiting for it to kick back on was the almost unbearable.
When I woke up on Saturday after the storm and first heard on the radio that some people should expect to be out of power for at least two weeks, I almost lost it. I started grabbing at my face like that lady from Total Recall. Then I threw my head at some guards and rolled under a sliding door. They should have been ready for a surprise.
For the most part though, I stayed pretty calm throughout. I got a little antsy during the first few nights of the outage because it was hot as balls, but eventually the weather cooled down due to a cold front from up north. So thanks Canada, keep on blowin.
Also, hearing people on the radio thank God for the great weather after the storm was somewhat amusing. Yes, blessed are we for these divine and celestial conditions. And no that wasn't a hurricane, it was a heavenly noogie.
The only time I got close to being seriously belligerent was when I accidentally bit into a slice of spam covered in maggots. Look, it was already dark out, candle light seemed sufficient, plus the top of the piece looked clean (clean enough) and I didn't think I needed to waste a flashlight on something as simple as eating. I know I should have taken a closer look and I knew it was a few days old, but I was preparing for the worst - two weeks of no electricity - so I tried to conserve as much battery power as possible and eat the oldest food before it spoiled. So I had a lot on my mind okay?
Anyways, when I first bit down on the piece, it felt bigger in my mouth than I expected that's what she said. So I look at the thing in my hand, flip it over, and I see these tiny little buggers squirming around. I paused for a second to let that horrific image sink in. My jaw hung open for a second, quivering in fright, probably crawling with larvae. When it finally reaches my brain that I'm about to eat living breathing (?) things, I let out a couple of "ugh!"s and sprang into panic. I did that thing where you run in place and face different directions. Then I toss what's in my hand back in the pot, reach in my mouth and throw that mess in the sink, and spit like hell. I gargled with water, but that didn't feel like enough so I ran to the bathroom and rinsed with Listerine for a while. That's when I started pounding my fist on the counter and cursing at the power company, the spam conglomerate, and that dumb slut Ike. I mean seriously what the fuck kind of faggy name is Ike?
After that, as I sat in the dark, meekly eating peanut butter crackers and granola bars for dinner, I pined for peace of mind. I wanted to research about it on Wikipedia but couldn't. The closest thing I had was an actual set of encyclopedias but that's just for show. Plus shit's heavy. The only thought of comfort I had was that I've seen worse on Fear Factor. They ate full grown meaty juicy maggots. I only ate teeny tiny newborn days-old widdle baby maggots. And if you think about it, it was just kinda like eating rice. Moving, living, wriggling, fidgety rice. Yum!
That's how I cope. I'm gonna be alright.
During the long days, there wasn't much to do. Unless you were an emergency essential employee, everyone was advised to stay home while crews got to work on cleaning up the streets and fixing power lines. Plus, traffic was hell and with the lack of electricity, working gas stations were scarce. So the smart thing to do was wait.
So what to do? Two hours of laptop time? Pointless. Rubik's cube? Boring. Shelf full of books? Lol. Consequently, this little scavenger hunt reminded me how horribly dependent on electricity I've become: television, cell phone, air conditioning, video games, and most flagrantly the internet.
More specifically, it made me realize how addicted I was to Destructoid and internet porn.
Don't make me choose by the way.
I never knew how much I'd miss this site. I started wondering what kind of front page, c-blog, and forum shenanigans I'd be missing. Will any more dtoiders redefine their foot into their adorable mouth? Will someone once again get barbecued without their knowing or consent? Will any new vaginae join and get more community members to embarrass themselves in the comments? Hhhnnngghh! I couldn't take it!
Luckily, during my search for activities, I found my sketchbook I put aside a long time ago. Between doodling and listening to the radio, I managed to pass the time and keep from going stir crazy. How glad am I that I never got rid of my CDs?
Anyway, as I started to draw, the only thing I could think of doodling was Destructoid. I was going through withdrawals, that's how I deal.
And so here they are. Excuse the blurry pictures. I don't have a scanner. Squint and enjoy! XD
Hamza "Cybernetic Tiger Z...omething" Aziz - Yeah that barely looks like him, but I got the snarl down. That's wiisucks getting banhammered by the way. Also, I forgot what the "Z" in CTZ stands for. Zhark?
Colette Bennet - I knew that she had a short hairdo and cheeks that were plenty pinchable, but I poorly miscalculated the hair length. Seriously, sorry about the hair. Also, I didn't know how to draw a chocobo so parts of it are missing. But who cares, just look at the cute little chocobo dance!
Chad "Don't Eff With Me" Concelmo - Again, it's not as close as I would have liked, (effing hair) but I did get the smile and head tilt :D And I haven't seen him jump like that, but you know he totally does it all the time. And that old lady is daydreaming about butterscotch hard candy. Also, ice cream overdose.
Jim Sterling - Looks a bit like a grade school bully, don't he? Completely unintentional I swear. And again with the hair. Everyone's gonna be bald next go around. Also, that's supposed to be Reggie Fils-Aime. I thought he had a huge chin.
tiff "I Rub U Rong Time" Chow - Puppy dog hat and peace sign are straight cop-outs. I might as well have drawn a circle with two straight lines for eyes. Also, she's crashing castles all by her ronesome :(
Anthony Burch - Close enough. I remembered he had that slouchy, mopey look (or is that just in my head?). lol no offense. References the Mortal Kombat versus screen for some reason, and the wrench thing from the last HAWP I saw.
Niero - XD This is his Atari pic from PAX. I'm glad he made that face because it made it easier. Also, looks a bit like an erection. Also, cocks.
As I scribbled these, I knew I wasn't doing a very good job of capturing their likenesses. And since I've logged back on to the site (last Wednesday) and caught a few glimpses of the editors again, I now realize that I was pretty off, but at least I got some of their quirks. As for those editors and contributors that I missed, it's because I haven't seen enough pictures of you on the site to commit your image to memory to get me to even attempt a caricature. But now that I can see what most everybody actually looks like, I'll be making the appropriate adjustments. I'll get everyone next go around, soon, maybe. Guaranteed, but no promises. Next power outage most definitely. Eventually.
Here's the trailer for the co-op in Saints Row 2. You get to play as a Republican, Democrat, redneck, treehugger, cop, robber, pirate, and ninja! Cooperatively! Oh my!
I'm still not quite sold on this game. It might be trying a little too hard. Yeah, pirates and ninjas are supposed to be instant awesome, but could you be a little more subtle with the pandering? I mean what's next? Lolcats? Rickrolls? Goatses? Ragged, busted, run down, worn out, photoshopped, ex adult film actresses?
Before I start, I must preface this by saying that I have a wavering interest in RPGs and that I don't have a whole lot of experience with the genre. As a result, I'll probably come off as uninformed and groundlessly overcritical. Again, keep in mind that this is written from the perspective of an occasional, less than casual, RPG novice.
Storytelling The demo opens with your party arriving at the edge of town. There's a missing barrier and a dragon was terrorizing the villagers or something like that. At this point, the story has barely enough details for me to fully care, but it's early on so I don't disregard it entirely.
As for the way the story is told, I do have more reasonable qualms. Here's the thing: The dialogue is simultaneously spoken out loud and scrawled in text through pop-up comic book word balloons. And when each line finishes, you have to press "A" to prompt the next one. The problem is, when the characters reach the end of their current line of dialogue, they completely stop talking until you press the button.
Now I've played RPGs before where you press a button to advance the story text, but never text and spoken word together. This may not sound like a big deal for some, but to me the combination of audio and text that stopped at every line proved to be very disorienting and quite disruptive to the flow of conversation. Maybe it's something I'm supposed to adapt to or it can be adjusted in the options. It probably wouldn't even be an issue if they had stuck strictly to text with no audio that you manually progressed, or in-game cutscenes with full voice acting that played automatically.
To add to the hassle of trying to maintain a steady and natural conversation flow, due to either overanticipation for each line to end, or deep involvement and preoccupation with the narrative, every now and again you either press the button too soon thus cutting off character dialogue mid-sentence, or press it too late and are left there hanging with an ill-fitting awkward silence.
It's equivalent to reading a novel with one sentence per page. You want to be immersed in the story, but when you're forced to pay attention to moving it along, it takes you out of the experience.
I don't know, maybe that's just me and it might not be as unpleasant as I'm describing (try it for yourself to see if I'm being fair or off base). And it's kind of a minor gripe for now, but I try to imagine the whole game like that and it feels like it could be a nuisance, and at worst undermine the whole narrative.
Audio and Visuals The voice acting is slightly cartoony but not excessesively annoying, and it fits the accessibly charming art style. Very reminiscent of Eternal Sonata (which I only played the demo of as well but do plan on getting eventually). The music was appropriate for the most part, but at a couple of moments where something unexpected occurs, the track switches to a reworked version of that song from the circus. You know the one. It seemed worth mentioning because of how oddly out of place it was.
The gist of the demo begins after your group is chased in to the woods by some guards. The first thing I notice was the movements of what looked like an enemy in the distance, so in a small fit of panic I quickly jab some buttons to look for menus and whatnot. The party customization screen pops up so I pause for about 10 to 20 minutes to take it all in.
It was overwhelming to say the least. I mean, the basics were easy enough to spot: items list, HP, TP (which I assume is MP). But there was a whole mess of other crap that went over my head. I tried to absorb as much as I could, but the lack of a manual combined with general impatience forced me to move on.
I wasn't quite ready to engage in some battles though, so I take some time to take in the surroundings. I stroll around and see how the character interacts with it it's immediate environment, and much like Eternal Sonata, parts of the area are bounded by invisible walls, which is a small pet peeve of mine. I spent plenty of time in both games basically rubbing up against everything to see where it takes me. Just like in real life without the strange looks and restraining orders.
Along the way, I pass by some suspicious looking flowers that prompt a mini cutscene (without vocals this time thank Bale). Basically, one of the characters gets too close to those shady bunch of plants, which someone points out to be poisonous. Then the best part of the demo happens. That party member turns out to be a cruel heartless malicious little bitch. She saves herself just in time and avoids harm, but for no good reason she shoves the youngest of the group right into the toxic flowers. On purpose! It brought a smile to my face and a stiffy in my pants. It was funny and didn't really make much sense, but she's my favorite RPG character of all time forever and ever amen.
Gameplay After that, I stopped dicking around and charged head long into battle. So I walk into one of the creatures, the fight starts, I push some random buttons, and just like that it's over. I had no idea what I did. I remember that I kicked some ass with the wolf, only to find out later that I wasn't controlling him at all. I was the guy who didn't level up.
I pressed on and encountered more and more enemies, eventually going through the whole forest and making it to the "final" boss. I say "final" because it's as far as I got. I barely made a dent in him and gave up after two tries.
Overall, the fighting mechanics have left a bad impression on me. Out of everything from the demo, it was the least appealing aspect because I never felt like I was in complete control, and worst of all, it made me regress back to button mashing. Eventually, I (somewhat) learned to use the artes and overlimits, but that didn't do much to help the sloppy feel to the combat system. And I can't even begin to explain how screwed up the targeting is. The fights occur in a three-dimensional plane, but you can't really roam as freely as you'd like. I know I've ventured into the foregound and background a few times, but I seemed to have been mostly limited to the horizontal. I really didn't understand what went on for a majority of the scuffles.
Maybe this is more of a put down on just the demo, because as I've read it does a poor job of representing the entire game. The trial version seems to have been made with Tales fans in mind, which is a shame because that's a horrible way of drawing in newcomers like me. Obviously the developers prefer more people playing the game, so it doesn't make much sense to exclude those out of the loop.
Bottom Line As it stands, between the choppy storytelling and shabby fighting system, I've lost some of what little fascination I had for the game, and has been downgraded to "buy after several price drops during a slow gaming month" status.
Interest level before demo: 5/10
Interest level after demo: 3/10
Demo download size: 278 MB
Platform: Xbox 360
Retail release date: August 26, 2008 (out now!)
I think I spent more money on games in the past few weeks than I did all of last year. For some reason, I was pretty listless in the last console generation and part of that carried over in to this current cycle. I was slowly losing interest, but with all the recent and upcoming releases and announcements, my love for gaming has been reinvigorated.
But with this spark comes some feeling of regret. Since I skipped out on a ton of games, I felt the need to at least make up for some it. So along with all the new titles I planned on buying, I kept my eyes open for old gems I previously passed on.
My hunt (Mike Hunt?) started off perfectly with Gamestop's "buy 2 Xbox games get one free" sale some three weeks ago. I'm so glad they didn't advertise it because if they had, more people would have been out browsing and I probably wouldn't have found 3 of my most sought after Xbox titles:
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic I - A while back, I found KOTOR II, and now the search for the first is complete. And even though there's no instruction booklet or original case, I'm more than relieved because this was one of those games I feared that I would never ever get my hands on. It was like finally finding your soulmate except it hurts when you try to shove your boner in it.
Jade Empire Limited Edition - I almost didn't get this because the box was more jacked up than Seal's face. And it's no surprise that the discs were just as ragged, but once more that was overridden by my fear of never seeing this game again, so I hesitantly bought it.
Beyond Good & Evil - Critically acclaimed, underappreciated, yada yada yada. But it's not BC!!! I'm aware of the downloadable versions, but I don't have the storage for that. Atleast the copy I found is in pretty good condition. Despite the yellow USED stickers and inexplicable spooge smudges on the case, the disc is pristine. Potential collector's item maybe?
Shenmue II - It didn't come with the DVD movie unfortunately. Not essential (I think), but the completist in me sulks in disappointment. There's a joke about sailors, but I'm out of the loop.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within - Sands of Time is one of my favorites, but I know that they're not quite the same so my expectations are low. And it's also not BC so I probably won't even get a chance to give it a go for a while. It's still nice to have.
Psychonauts - I found this brand new, semi-Sealed, at Walmart. I say "semi" because the plastic was ripped open on one of the corners. So I can't really claim mint condition, but I'm not sure if I was going to preserve it for ebay price gouging later anyway. It deserves to be played, and it will be eventually, but right now...
skate. - I'm currently playing this on and off. I love these types of games. Mess around or do the challenges, go at your own pace while grooving to the proper soundtrack. And it takes me back to highschool, back when THPS was still a brand new and fresh experience. I've got minor complaints, but overall it's very enjoyable. Plus, it has pretty awesome ragdoll.
Assassin's Creed - I grabbed this off the shelf on a whim due to the price tag ($25). It's funny because after I got home and took it out of the bag, I was like "What the fuck? I bought this? Uhm, okay!" It just snuck right in there, like some sort of... assassin. Though it does explain why Jade Empire looks like it's been stabbed a few more times.
Seoul Kalibur IV - I'll admit, I bought this because of the all praise it got on Dtoid. And I really wish I'd waited. Not that it's a shitty game, but I really didn't need this right now. And the character creation, while good and all, is purely cosmetic. It would have been nice have the ability to hand-pick individual moves from all the available characters to put into your creation, just to make it that much more unique. Plus, it has brought out the worst in my (undiagnosed) OCD, where I unnecessarily sit there for hours doing the math over and over because all the numbers for the stats/skills have to add up properly. After this, I swore I'd never let hype influence me again. But I fail all thanks to...
Braid - I was briefly in the "I'm not paying that much because MS is testing us" camp, but I've gotten over that (explanation in a future post maybe) and bought it. Anyways, the puzzles are top notch. I still maintain that it's not worth what they're charging because the replay value is not (immediately) high, but there's so much quality that my complaints are rather moot. As for the story, I read every single word and it went completely over my head, but hearing Blow's reaction to the nuclear bomb theory on podtoid made me snickerdoodle.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed - Action platforming bliss. I just recently beat the final boss, and now I'm going through the challenge rooms (Final Exam left to go!... and six of the seven secret challenge rooms). And I'm loving the soundtrack. I was going to mention my favorite ones but I'd just end up listing half the songs.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 - I'm really glad I'm not as addicted to this game as I thought I would be. It might be because of the crushing feeling I get everytime I think about Conrad Zimmerman's high scores. Or it might be the fact that this is the type of game I can always come back to anytime I want. On a somewhat related note, thanks again to Kaciesaurus (Rex?) for the year of Xbox Live Gold. In return, I am giving you a lifetime supply of free mammograms.
Fable II Pub Games - Luckily, I got this for free from Workmeng. Good enough, if not a little too random and out of your control. I played it this past weekend, if only to enter myself into that Xbox.com Play & Win contest. Yes, another contest. Yes, I like winning free stuff. I feel kinda bad, but my wallet appreciates it.
Speaking of winning free stuff, anyone remember that Dream Car Challenge contest from Microsoft? Along with 1350 MS points, I won one of their weekly sweepstakes, snagging one of four possible awesome prizes. Was it an 8GB Zune? Nope. Copy of Forza Motorsport? Nah. 12-Month Xbox Live Gold Subscription? No way. A one year subcription to Car & Driver Magazine? Fuck... yeah!!?
Ok this has gone on long enough, thanks for skimming. In closing, ummm... did you know that Seal is married to Heidi Klum? Seriously, here's a picture of them making out. Also, don't get me wrong. I don't hate the guy. Hey, some of my best friends are busted uggos.
And lastly, just in case you're not tired of hearing about it, Castle Crashers is coming... and so am I.
[TrailerParkJesus started writing parts of this blog two or three weeks ago, when it kinda made some sense. A casualty of procrastination. Next year, catch the write-up on his first impressions on an amazing little gem called Bioshock. Also, why all of a sudden is he speaking in third person? What a pompous dickbag. Hey don't talk about me like that. Fuck off, he'll do what he wants.]
Here's a preview of the new entry into the Guilty Gear series. And below is an interview with its creator Daisuke Ishiwatari, where he revisits the history of the series, leading up to creation of Guilty Gear 2.
On the one hand, it's not what you'd expect for a Guilty Gear sequel. It's like Street Fighter doing kart racing. Or DOA doing volleyball.
On the other hand, I'm all for a developer trying something new. More game companies could use stepping away from what they're familiar with to take risks on a different genre.
Experimentation can yield good results. For examples, lesbians.
Although I guess I'm more concerned about interrupting the progression of a series still in the act of establishing itself. Guilty Gear is not brand new, but it's not as ubiquitous as it could be. And sure this game could help increase the series's reputation, granted that it has decent gameplay, release date, and marketing. Or it could be a flop and have deprived us of a proper sequel.
Yeah they're working on other games like BlazBlue and Battle Fantasia, but then why couldn't those games have been the RTS?
From the interview, Ishiwatari sounds pretty confident that this new Guilty Gear is the first to pull off a good mix of action and strategy, and is rather proud of it. That offers me some assurance, but then again what developer wouldn't want to appear enthusiastic about their game?
Personally, I still can't shake the image of Dynasty Warriors. Some would consider that a good thing, I'm still not quite sure.
Planned for release on September 2008 in the U.S., and maybe 10 years later in Europe. You can download the demo in the Japanese XBLA Marketplace now (though it's been out since October last year), Google on how to do that if you don't live there.
So after taking advantage of Gamestop's buy two get one free deal from this weekend, I came away with 7 brand new used (newsed?) games and $150 poorer.
And yeah, I decided to forgo GTA4. I figure that game will always be there. Plus, I didn't want to be the cheap bastard who asked if they had any used copies of GTA4 the first week it came out.
So what did I get instead?
NBA Street Homecourt - I skipped Vol 3, but loved 2 and I'd probably still be playing it if it was backwards compatible. I've gotten into Homecourt for a few hours, and I'm somewhat disappointed that some things have been gimped like create-a-player. But still, it's pretty solid all around, and this is as close to a next-gen NBA Jam as it's gonna can get.
The Darkness - I used to read the comic book, so I've had my eye on this since I first heard of it. I wish I had darklings.
Bioshock - I heard this game was decent. Game of the year or something?
Virtua Fighter 5 - Took me long enough to get this. Hooray for collecting accessories and not button mashing.
Tomb Raider Legend - I played the demo... over 2 years ago? Holy fuck it's been a long while. I liked it alright, plus I've never owned a Tomb Raider game. But there's no instruction booklet! No!
Dead Rising - I enjoyed slicing up zombies in the demo. And they say demos don't sell games. Can't wait to get in to this.
Star Wars KOTOR II - I'm not sure whether or not if this is a rare game, but when I first saw it at the store I spazzed, then immediately tried to act as if everything was normal. Like I just unearthed hidden treasure and didn't want anyone to know about it. But now I gotta get the first one before I play this, because things have to go in order n stuff. It'd be nice to know what Mass Effect's predecessors were like. But again there's no instruction booklet! Bah!
Also, I still don't see what's so wrong with Gamestop. There seems to be this unreasonable hatred towards them here at Dtoid. I know it has a lot to do with personal experience, so I guess I'm just lucky that the dude who runs the Gamestop I go to is a decent guy. I mean, yeah he sometimes kinda mumbles and doesn't make eye contact, but he's not even close to being the moron that he's supposed to supposedly be. And there's no alleged smell, I checked everybody.
Okay, so they're making money by selling used games, money that the developers don't get to see. But you could say the same thing for Blockbuster, Netflix, Goozex, and Ebay. I don't see what the big deal is.
All this used games talk just gave me a great idea. Wouldn't it be awesome if you could sell your unwanted Xbox Live Arcade games to others at a reduced price? Imagine something like an XBLA Community Marketplace.
Here's a scenario: One guy pays 800 MS points for an arcade game, go through it a couple of times, and decide they're done with it.
Now there's this other guy who's interested in the same game, wants something beyond the demo, but doesn't want to pay full price (hmmm... sounds like me).
So, let the first guy set the price, to something like 400 MS points, buyer pays, Live transfers the game license, bingo-bango, everyone's happy.
And just to keep the developers in the loop, maybe they get a small percentage of the resale price too. Something like that.
Yeah that idea needs some work. Oh well, back to the playoffs.