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7:05 AM on 10.16.2008

Rumortoid: Play as Shooting Star Mega Man in next Monday's DLC



A friend of mine walks dogs for a janitor at Cacpom USA. She's supplied me with a lot of info in the past, all of which has been almost right sometimes.

Anyway, she knows I like Mega Man, so she's been scouting around for info on next week's MM9 DLC. Last night emailed me with the below letter-

"Wussup Bitch,

That dumb ass janitor was hitting on me again. Jesus man, I just walk your dog, doesn't mean I want to grab your dong. Dog is spelled D-O-G, not D-O-N-G. Lol.

Just because I love you, I put up with his shit long enough to find out about some of that video game crap you like. I'm not sure if you're going to care, but whatever. Don't you work for a video game web site now or something? That's queer.

Anyway, I don't know what this even means, but the janitor told me that special rockman shooting star is going to be put on sale next week. Seriously, what the fuck? Why do you care about this shit?

So can you get me on Real World or what?"

Take that for what it's worth.   read


11:12 AM on 10.14.2008

Eva Langoria got rounder (NVGR)

This just in people, Eva Langoria but on a few pounds, but dear god, DON'T ASSUME THAT SHE GOT PREGNANT.

This shit is too important to fool around with. This shit is ATOMIC. To say that this shit is "for real" is understatement. It's bigger shit than anything else you'll read on the site today.


Quoteth Allure-

"When Eva Longoria Parker put on a few pounds over the summer for her role as Gabrielle on "Desperate Housewives," everyone jumped to the conclusion that the actress was pregnant. In the November issue of Allure, Eva sets the record straight about her recent weight gain, as well as the rumors surrounding her marriage to NBA star Tony Parker.

On her fuller figure:
"I stopped working out and gained about seven pounds over the summer, which is a lot for a small person. Every magazine is tearing me apart ... I never went up a size. I just got rounder. I'm still a size 0.

On relationship rumors:
"I don't let those magazines and articles define who I am. I know I'm not pregnant. I know Tony and I aren't breaking up. I know we're not cheating."

On growing up thinking she wasn't beautiful:
"My nickname was Prieta Fea, which means 'Ugly Dark one' in Spanish. I didn't have a boyfriend. My sisters were so mean to me. They used to say I was adopted, and 'we picked you up at the hospital. You were the extra baby that day."

[Via OMG]   read


6:14 AM on 11.23.2007

An Analyst is YOU! Year End Extravaganza Part 3: Capcom in 2008.



Capcom is arguably the largest name in video game development ever. They have had a at least one hugely successful game on every major console since the NES (Neo Geo doesn't count). They have also been on the verge of bankruptcy more than once. Have some time to do some reading? Then lets take a look at Capcom's strengths and weakness, what they are doing now, and what they should be doing to both make money and make us happy.

Strength #1: Excellent Character and visual design



Depending on your age you likely associate the word "Capcom" with one of five characters. If you're in your late 20's to early 30's, it's Mega Man. If you are in your mid to late 20's, it's likely Ryu from Street Fighter 2. If you are in your late teens to early 20's, it's the zombies from Resident Evil. Or if your just a kid (by my old man standards anyway) then it's likely Dante from Devil May Cry or maybe Viewtiful Joe.

All those characters have had movies, comic books, anime, American animation, toys, and/or comic books made about them, many of which have been highly successful. No other video game developer has consistently made characters that had that kind of cross over appeal. That's due in no small part to the excellent visual design of those characters.

Capcom games of the 80's and 90's games were synonymous with incredible craftsmanship and quality, which should come as no surprise seeing as Keiji Inafune, Capcom's equivalent to Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, was also originally schooled as a 2D illustrator. And Capcom's production artists are legendary in both the video game industry and the comic book industry. They have multiple books available featuring nothing but their production art, all of which are almost constantly sold out.

One comic book production team, UDON, has made a successful career out producing nothing but tributes the 80's and 90's Capcom design team's visual style. That company is currently living out the fan artist's dream in being contracted by Capcom to remake the graphics for one of their games in HD.

Capcom knew how to make characters that appealed to a broad range of audiences, and they created artwork for their games that is still drooled after today. That's a huge part of why they have been so successful for so long.

I should clarify that Capcom Japan made the drool worthy artwork. We all know that Capcom America had nothing to do with it.



Moving on.

Strength #2: You make the game

I see Capcom as the company that pioneered player controlled content in games. It started with Mega Man, which gave the player the option to choose what order the levels were played in, and in doing so what weapons would be acquired in what order. Also novel at the time was the option to choose what weapon you used and when you used the, a feature for the most part only used only in RPGs up until that time.

This effectively makes Mega Man a game where the player is partially responsible for the game's design. Keep in mind this was during a time when every side scrolling platformer consisted of levels that had to play in a predetermined order certain order, with the only weapon other than the one you start with being the temporary kind, the kind you have to scrounge to find, and that you could only carry one of at a time. Mega Man crapped in the face of all that, thought outside the box, and provided something unique. It provided the reward of becoming a walking tank (or the talking wank, depending on where you are from) that we all take for granted in video games today.



Street Fighter 2 was the next step in giving the player a role in their game's design. You decide which character to use, you decide which of the six attack buttons to use, if you're going to button mash or try to execute complex "special moves", and perhaps most importantly you decide if you want to play against a friend or fight the computer. Before Street Fighter 2, none of those options ever came together in one game.

Resident Evil 1-3 are basically interactive Horror movies where you decide how the movie plays out. The camera angles, cut scenes, characters and monsters pre-established. The rest is up to you.

Viewtuful Joe gives you the power to apply various effects to the game's events like slow motion, fast motion, camera zooms, instant replays, and screen splits (in the DS game). This god like power gives the player a sense of nearly totally control over those aspects of the game's content.

In Okami, you obtain a magic brush, giving you the power to literally draw aspect's of the game's world yourself.

The list could go on and on, as could a list of the companies multiple other strengths, but I'm trying to keep it short. On to the weaknesses!


Weakness #1: Milking a dead cow



Earlier I said that depending on your age that there are a variety of different Capcom characters you might associate with the company. But no matter who you are, you must associate Capcom on some with one thing above all else, crappy sequels. They've done it to Mega Man on multiple occasions, murdering the franchise with half baked sequels, then somehow resuscitating it just the brink of death. But just like adding water to the ink in a pen that you should have thrown out a while ago, the results are inarguably with weaker and weaker as time goes on. The Mega Man name, unlike Mario or Final Fantasy, has inarguably lost a lot of it's clout over the past 20 years.

Street Fighter got milked to death with by many half assed sequels, slowly burning out any loyality that millions once had to the Street Fighter name. Time will tell if Street Fighter 4 will make up for that.

Resident Evil has died once, with rock bottom sales on Resident Evil Zero for the Gamecube, only to be brought back from the dead, at least temporarily, with Resident Evil 4. But they are back to milking it again on the Wii with Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles.

In many people's opinion (meaning, mine)Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe didn't make it past their second games before they started to run dry. Viewtiful Joe 1 was fantastic, totally original. VJ 2 was everything from the first game re-done, minus two playable characters and well designed boss fights. Then there is Red Hot Rumble.

Ugh.

Devil May Cry #1 was considered genius, #2 was considered a huge disappointment, and #3 a well done but apology. With #4 looking almost identical to the other games in terms of gameplay (sorry lemon), it's hard to say if the series has been milked dry or still has a little juice left.

If you've been a fan of Capcom for a while, you know what it's like to follow a Capcom produced game series, psych yourself up for the series' next installment, only to come to find that the series you had once loved had turned to garbage. If you were a fan of the original Matrix film or the original Star Wars trilogy, you likely went through the same thing with the former's sequels and the latter's prequels.

All game companies do a little franchise milking now and again. The thing about Capcom is, they consistently milk their big name series, even though each and every time they do, they start to lose serious money. Rumor has it that the company almost when bankrupt when Street Figther 3 failed to perform, and the company was only saved by the surprise success of the new IP... Resident Evil. And again it's rumored that Capcom almost lost it when the Resident Evil series failed to perform on the Gamecube, only to be save again, but this time by two fresh IP's, Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe.

It's a dangerous game that Capcom plays by milking the way they do. If I were to make a movie about the history of Capcom's carrer, I'd probably call it "Dangerous Milkers".




And that's all I have to say about that.

Weakness #2: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time


Capcom's management has been reading the market wrong for a while now, maybe more than ten years. They release a Mega Man and Ghost's N Goblins game on the PSP, though both those series have always had fans amongst the Nintendo faithful. Although both titles are excellent, they fail to find audiences on a console owned mostly by people who didn't start gaming until the 90's. They release a Resident Evil game for the Nintendo DS. While PSP owners would have loved it, the family oriented fans of the DS completely ignore it.



Then there was the decision to make Resident Evil games only for the Gamecube, while all the series' fans had bought a PS2. And that time they made a cel-shaded, Zelda inspired game for the PS2 instead of the GC, when most owners of the PS2 were obsessed with real world based crime games like Grand Theft Auto. And who could forget the way Capcom backed the Dreamcast with the likes Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Cannon Spike, GunBird 1 and 2, and multiple ports of Street Fighter 3?

I love that Capcom seems to be willing to forget good business sense and just make games for the consoles they want to, but I can't help but feel that it's more than just innocent abandon of judnement that drives these decisions. I think that some idiot running Capcom Japan actually thinks these were all good ideas from a business standpoint.

For example, not that long ago they Keiji was saying that the only games that will sell on the Wii are puzzle games or motion controlled games. Then Resident Evil 4 Wii and RE: Umbrella Chronicles sell through the roof, and Zack and Wiki flops harder than an frustrated great white shark, out of his tank, in a shopping mall full of beef steak. (just made that one up on the fly, folks)

In conclusion, Capcom has awesome artists and game designers, but terrible buisness men calling the shots. With that in mind, lets look to Capcom's future.

Capcom's plans for 2008, as we know them



Resident Evil 5 is a sure bet to sell, though nothing about the game looks to have the power to bring in new players who didn't like RE 4. All the same, the game is sure to move a lot of 360's and PS3's, especially in Japan. In the US I think a lot of 360 players have no attachment to the RE series, and I doubt it will sell as well as Gears did, and definitely not as well as Halo 3.

I'm guessing that unless Street Fighter 4 is really innovative, it will only be played by the completely loyal hardcore. If it's in 2D it's in trouble because no one but Smash Bros fans play 2D fighting games anymore, and if it's in 3D the less loyal hardcore fans of the series (like myself) will feel abandoned and lose interest. Plus the competition with Virtua Fighter 5 and Soul Caliber 4 will likely be too much for SF4 to keep up with. The Wii is actually the console where SF4 probably had the best shot, as it is the current console of choice for many old school gamers, and for the world in general. But that's the one console SF4 is not coming to. Typical Capcom business decision, meaning it's totally dumb.

Devil May Cry 4, like RE5, will sell well with fans of the series, and not with anyone else.

That Bionic Commando game is a wild card, but my bet is it will flop. Again, old school fans of Bionic Commando bought the Wii, but that's the one console the game isn't coming to. Plus, Wii controls + bionic arm could have kicked ass. As it stands, Bionic Commando "Next Gen" will likely just be a Spiderman game with a "Hardcore" paint job. But I hope I'm wrong.

Okami for the Wii likely wont sell that well either, as anyone interested in the game already has it for the PS2. The game will be better on the Wii, but not enough to counter the aspects of the game that caused it to sell poorly, namely the fact that it's a new IP, it's cel shaded, it takes place in ancient Japan, it's wordy as hell, and stars a white wolf whose name is nearly unpronounceable.

All the same, I'll be pre-ordering it.

And that's about it for the big name Capcom Games for 2008, at least off the top of my head.

What I think Capcom should do in 2008



Well, I should have said "What I hope Capcom should have been already working on for 2008", because if they start work on any of these ideas now, none of them will be ready by 2008. Regardless, hers is what I think Capcom should do in 2008.

Resident Evil 5 comes packed in with Wii-Remote/Nunchuck rip off

A lot of critics ripped the Wii port of RE4 apart, stating that the controls were a downgrade and that no one should buy it. Those guys were obviously Wii-a-phobic or just on crack, because RE4's port to the Wii has shipped over a million copies so far, despite the fact that the game looks identical to it's GC counterpart. The people have spoken. the Wii controls are superior.

Personally, I can't even play RE4 on the GC now that I've played it on the Wii. It's so much less fun, so much more disconnecting with the control pad alone. I know I would be more that willing to pay 30 extra bucks for a 360/PS3 controller that would make RE5 on the PS3/360 control like RE4 on the Wii, especially if that controller could be utilized for other future games like Bionic Commando. People buy Guitar Hero for $90 for that "extra" controller. In fact, people buy the Wii itself just for the controller. So people sure as hell would shell out an extra few bucks for RE5 if it came with a superior controller. It wouldn't need motion sensing, just the analog stick/laser pointer combination. That combo is half the reason why I own a Wii at all. I could give a rats ass about motion control. It's all about the pointer, and of course the Virtual Console.

Such a move would truly even the playing field between the PS3/360 and the Wii. I'm sure a lot of Wii's would be traded in for PS3/360's if this move ever happens.

But if it doesn't happen, then we'll need a....

Resident Evil 2 remake for the Wii with RE4's game engine

A lot of people have already predicted that it's in the works, as Capcom developers have eluded to interest in remaking all the Playstation RE games for the Wii. With the RE 2 scenario being strangely absent from Re:Umbrella Chronicles, it's the most likely canidate for a remake. This would be a very wise move, as RE2 was the biggest selling game in the series (not counting the multiple times the first RE sold in it's various ports and remakes), and would please RE fans already owning a Wii, fans of the movies that never played the games (and don't get what RE4 has to do with the movies), and also RE fans who have not yet bought the Wii, waiting for a true RE game to hit the system.

Mega Man game for the Wii

An online poll recently showed higher demand for a Mega Man game on the Wii than on any other console, and Keiji has stated he's interested. The Wii is unquestionably the choice of the home of the old school gamer, and Mega Man games (the 2D ones anyway) have always sold well on Nintendo Consoles. A new Mega Man game featuring one or more of the many versions of the character that have graced consoles through out the years, with gameplay (sorry again, Lemon) that's a cross between Mario Galaxy and RE4, now that would make Mega Man a legitimates force in gaming again. But it can't be half assed like every home console Mega Man game of the last ten years. It would need to look and play as good as Mario Galaxy. That's what people expect from the Wii now, and that's what true fans have always expected from Mega Man. Mega Man used to be just as good, if not better than Mario. It's time for that to be true once again.

And finally...

Stop milking the past and make some good, new IP's

Zack and Wiki, Capcom's latest attempt at a new IP, can pretty much considered a financial failure at this point. It was the darling of the critics, yet it still flopped. Want to know why? Because as good as it was, it wasn't the type of game that most human beings on planet earth actually want to play. Not only is it a new IP that has no pre-installed fan base, but it's the type of game that has no pre-installed fan base, meaning most people don't ever play games like Zack and Wiki. That means no one knows if they are actually going to like Zack adn Wiki before they buy it, and therefore don't want to drop $40 on it when they can go for something safe instead like Lego Star Wars. What the hell was Capcom thinking? Maybe Zack and Wiki would have had a chance on the DS, but the Wii? Well, hopefully they learned their lesson because that kind of nonsense has to stop.

Capcom needs to get back to what made them great. New IP's in established genres that give the players unprecedented level of control over their game experience, crafted with the highest level of excellence, and NO MORE MILKING.

Those are my thoughts. But more importantly, what do you guys think. After all, an analyst is YOU!

  read


1:24 PM on 11.22.2007

My Geometry Wars Galaxies Impressions



The Wii has gotten a lot of high profile releases in the past few weeks. Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles, Soul Caliber Legends, Link's Crossbow Training, Zack and Wiki, and of course Super Mario Galaxy. It's sad to see these Prima-Donnas fo gaming, as hot as some of them may be, take up all the spot light while a total hot game sitting in the corner, totally overlooked by most, which may in fact be my favorite game of the season.

That game is Geometry Wars Galaxies. I friggin' can't get enough of this game.

A lot of people trash talked Galaxies before it was even released, saying stuff like "It's over priced" and "It should have been on WiiWare". And having not played the game yet myself, I couldn't help but be worried that they were right and I had wasted my money when I bought the game on it's release date. But the Gamestop I bought it from said they only got two copies in stock, and the other stores I went to (Best Buy, Toys R Us, Target) didn't get any at all. So I thought I better buy the game now, as I may not get a chance in the future.

I highly suggest you do the same and buy this title before it goes the way of the Dodo.



Galaxies offers so much more than the original Geometry Wars, but does so without compromising the games original spirit. It doesn't try to turn Geometry Wars into a "normal" game by adding bosses, a story, etc. But like Tetris and other high score, skill based games, the fact that it's is so loosely structured makes Galaxies endlessly entertaining.

There are assist drones to power up, tons of galaxies and planets to unlock, 2 player co-op, and of course online leaderboards to give the game some sort term goals to reach for. But like Mario Galaxy, there is a sense of wanting to play "just one more level" after ever planet or galaxy you beat. The short terms goals are nice, but the real fun is just the act of playing the game. It's not the destination, but the journey.



The amount of action on screen rivals any other shooter I've ever played. Radiant Silvergun, Ikagura, all pale in the face of Geometry Wars Galaxies. And there is seemingly endless types of enemies and levels to play it. All the enemies have unique attack patterns, so learning to take on each one is a skill onto itself. Also, the games various levels offer multitude of unique challenges. Some are filled with mines, some with suffer attacks from "meteor showers", others have a black hole in there center constantly pulling you and your enemies towards it. No level in Geometry Wars Galaxies is quite like another. Get sick of playing one, and you can alwasy take on the next. And each has their own leaderboard, so just because you suck at one planet doesn't mean you can't become the world champion of the next.


The Wii-Remote/Nunchuck controls actually work. I prefer the classic controller over all, but that's just because I've been playing games with that set up for a long time. I don't feel overly handicapped when playing with the controllers all Wii's come equipped with. So don't try to use the "But I don't have a classic controller, so I aint buying it" excuse on me.

If you liked, but didn't love Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (as I didn't), I highly recommend giving Galaxies a try. More so, if you have ever loved a simple video game where hand/eye coordination and fasted paced strategy was all you needed to play and a high score is all you wanted to achieve (games like Pac-Man, Tetris, Asteroids, Snood, and Defender) then you may also love Galaxies.

All the other end of the year Wii games, even Mario Galaxy, will be collecting dust on my shelf after I play through the story and see all the levels, etc. But Galaxies will be taking up my time for months, maybe years. That's more than worth the $40 cost of admission.

  read


6:45 AM on 11.21.2007

Ghostbusters PS2 Wii scans, info

So, the new GhostBusters movie is going to be a game, and as there is no universal game console format (yet) as there is with DVD, the games creator's must come in two seperate flavors, one for the PS3/360 and the other for the Wii/PS2. Can you imagine the outrage if a movie had to be made twice, once for DVD and once for VHS? The film industry wouldn't put up with that crap, and neither would movie studios. But we gamers, both on the development and consumer side of things, have learned to settle for less.

But I digress.

Little has been seen of the Wii/PS2 versions of the new Ghostbusters game, until now. GameInformer #176 has all the deets, including an interview with Dan Aykroyd, tons of screen shots, and the debut look at the Wii/PS2 build of the game. I don't know what took them so long, as more people will likely be picking up the Wii/PS2 game than the PS3/360 ver, what with the Wii and the PS2 having the largest worldwide install base in all of consloe-dom. Maybe the Wii/PS2 version is not as exciting a prospect to the games creators. I for one prefer the Pixar-ish look to the game. Realistic pocky faced Virtua-Bill Murray FTL.

Anyway, on with he scans.



EDIT: Woah! I made it to GoNintendo. Just for that, I'll add some cropped close ups of the screen shots and text.

Thanks, Bethany!







  read


6:40 AM on 11.19.2007

NSFW lyrics: R-Kelly just lost the "least classy song ever" crown: Also, Sims.

I can't wait until this song's almost unfathomable title becomes the next "Show me the Money" style cultural catch phrase. I want teenage girls, old ugly baby's momma's, and gay dudes everywhere to start thinking it's cool to ask their boyfriends this all so important question. It almost makes me want to date dumb girls again so one of them can "pop the question". Almost, but not quite.

Plus the Sims2 mash up is decent, though I wish there was a live action video. Maybe I'll make one myself.

[embed]54892:4963[/embed]   read


8:46 PM on 11.18.2007

Is Surfergirl a dude? Pics of Nintendo characters in an early build of Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Like much of the internet's gamer population, I am suspicious, fearful, and in awe of this mysterious entity called "SurferGirl". Tristero's recent interview with the "girl" did little to quiet that sense of suspicion/fear/awe. Not since Lonelygirl16 has a maybe real internet personality been the center of so much curiosity (at least in gamer circles).

Why would a video game playing female name herself "Surfergirl"? Don't they usually go by names like "My C-blog will be filled with 100 comments with in 15 minutes" or "Rock me, Whiteboy"? I mean, surfing and girls are the last two things I associate with video games. When I was growing up neither surfers nor girls would come anywhere near an Atari "paddle". We games were lonely, pasty boys, and we liked it.

But what really makes Surfergirl an enigma is the amazing level of secrecy and accuracy of her tips. She revealed the new Prince of Persia game way before anyone else. No one actually believed the news was real, which made it even better when it was. Adn from there she has continued to drop huge news bombs on the internets on personal, non-profit site. It's unheard of for someone to leak this kind of info without making dime one.

The latest tip I've seen from here is that Nintendo characters were originally planned for the Wii version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, as seen in pics below.






Now these pics could be fake, but so could Paul McCartney (according to Seaman). You don't know if anything is real unless you see it for your own eyes, and even then there could always be a mind explosion afoot.

But I ask you this, why would Surfergirl fake news about a game that has already come and gone, a game that is more or less universally though of as worthless? If you are going to make fake news, you make it about Sonic being confirmed for Brawl, or Metal Gear Solid 4 coming to the 360, right?

Well, I guess that's a amtter of opinion. But one thing is for sure, as long as Surfergirl continues to keep "her" identity hidden while providing just mind exploding news, I'll be wondering just who the hell she is.

PS, I think she is a dude. A dude named Ron Workman.

JUST TRY AND PROVE ME WRONG!   read


7:00 PM on 11.14.2007

Japanese hardware/software sales for last week... WTF? (part 2)

Japan is all fucked up, and I love it. Last week the 360 out sold the PS3 due to the release Ace Combat 6. To me that makes absolutely no sense, yet it is awesome.

This week, it's a game called "Musou" is pushing the PS3 ahead of the Wii and the PSP.

What the fuck is "Musou", you ask? I'll do some Mattlocking to be sure, but I think it's Dynasty Warriors. Sterling must be creaming and crapping in his pants simultaneously right now.

I hope next week a Musou/Final Fantasy/Metal Gear/Ace Combat crossover is released for the Dreamcast so that system can sell 100,000 units.

Anyway, here is the unconfirmed loose estimates of how stuff sold in Japan last week.

DSL 82000
PS3 56000
PSP 55000
Wii 35000
PS2 9400
360 7000

1.Mario Party DS 242000
2.Musou PS3 176000
3.Super Mario Galaxy 78000 (335000)
4.Musou360 27000
5.Final Fantasy Tactics A2 24000 (235000)
6.Castlevania PSP 20000
7.Wii Sports 18000 (2091000)
8.西村サス 16000(112000)
9.Wii Play 15000 (1648000)
10.Mario Kart DS 13000 (2528000)   read


5:31 PM on 11.14.2007

Resident Evil "Umbellicals" First Hour impression. It's for the ladies.

So even though I'm so hot for Mario Galaxy right now, I still bought not one but two new games today. The first was Contra 4, a game I've been waiting for since I first beat Contra 3 on the SNES. Yet, I haven't even played that yet. I was actually more excited for the other game I brought home to momma.



So far, the game is just a little bit above average. It's not at Star Fox 64 levels of fun and surprises...yet. We've only beaten the second boss, and that's still in the recreation Resident Evil Zero chapters, one of the least appealing games in the series. Still, it's a solid on rails shooter peppered with the RE conventions we have grown to love over the years. Ammo conservation, weapon customization, spooky mansions, and most importantly, crappy dialog about situation inappropriate topics.

Billy and Rebecca are in the mansion and are suddenly attacked by monkies with huge fangs (they look awesome by the way). As the monkies continue to attack, Rebecca says something like "So, tell me more about your past. Did you really kill 23 people?" All this while the monkies are screeching, jumping through the air, biting your face, etc. Billy says something like "My past is dark and mysterious. There are things I just can't open up about..." Of course, we were laughing too hard to really be sure if that's what he said, but it was something like that.

Note the pronoun "we". That is the one and only reason I'm really enjoying this game.

Above all other things, Umbellicals is giving me and my finance a chance to game together. She hates most action games, even on the Wii. If a game involves any risk of death, is at all hard to control, or punishes you too frequently, she drops the controller and says "This really isn't as fun as not dying. I think I'll go do that instead.".

But she's loving the Umbrellicals. I could see it being a gateway drug for casual gamers to get into the series. It's like Resident Evil lite, too weak for experienced RE smokers to really get high on, but just right for those who haven't built up a tolerance the RE experience as of yet.

It would have been better if this game were $40 like Zack and Wiki, because as fun as it is, it really does feel like a rehash (especially compared to Galaxy). But all and all, I recommend this game to fans of either Resident Evil or House of the Dead, or anyone trying to get their girl to play and action game with them.

But if you don't like on-rails shooters, this title definitely will not change your mind. Wait instead for the inevitable release of a new RE Wii game using the RE4 engine. After the huge success of the RE4 Wii-make, it's bound to happen. Or just keep playing Galaxy. Either way, it's win.   read


10:26 PM on 11.13.2007

Mario 64 vs Mario Galaxy, plus spoiler packed vid featuring red hot Galaxy cameos.

I hated Mario 64. Everything about the 2D Mario's I had grown to love was chucked out the window with the advent of Mario's sell out cross over into the world of "3D exploring" and "analog movement". Mario 64 signaled the end of an era for me, and almost caused me to give up on Nintendo entirely.

Mario 64 had awesome music, great graphics, and it looked like a Mario game, but that's where the similarities ended. All the Mario games up until Mario 64 had five specific traits in common that gave the series cohesiveness, and made them all awesome (Doki Doki Panic doesn't count).

1) Linear levels that never required (or even allowed for) backtracking.

2) Multiple types of power ups potentially hidden around every corner.

3) Sudden death also lurking around every corner in the forms of 1-3 hit kills, spikes, and bottomless pits

4) Insane, surrealistic worlds.

5) The inability to ever get lost (see point #1)

Mario 64 gave up on each and every one of these points, effectively neutering Mario, changing him for an out of place daredevil explorer facing potential murder or accidental suicide at any moment... to a kid's playground tester.

First off, I found myself getting lost Mario 64 the second I started playing it. That had never happened in a Mario game, ever. Being lost naturally led to being bored, which has also never happened in a Mari game. Yet I struggled on, knowing that since it was a Mario game a cool power up was sure to be in my hands at any moment.

Well, that moment never happened. Metal Mario and Wings Hat Mario were all the game had to offer (as far as I know). And they didn't show up for a long time. A far cry from the Mushroom you get in SMB1 after the first five seconds of play.

Mario did have some attacks to get him through the game, in the way of totally out of character karate moves. For long time Mario fans this came off as very, very lame. Not only is is wrong to see Mario suddenly kicking ass when for years he had no such ability, Mario's new found fighting skill makes him an almost unstoppable opponent. It almost takes effort for Mario to "lose" against his enemies. In prior games a pin point precise jump was necessary for Mario to take out even the smallest of foes. Now, button mashing the attack button was all you needed, even against some bosses.

Not to mention that now Mario had a freaking Life Bar.



I after chugging through the first five or so paintings in Mario 64, I think I had more than 50 lives. The concept of difficulty I had grown to love in Mario's world, starting with the instant deaths in the original Donkey Kong, had died right before my eyes.

But at least I'd get some signature Mario weirdness in Mario 64, right? Well, sort of. I got a 3D version of all the Mario weirdness I had grown to love, but that was it. No new weirdness for the entire game (more or less). This begs the question, "Is more of the old weirdness still technically weird, or is it now just the new 'normal'?"

Yeah, yeah, I know what that smells like.




All philosophical tangents aside, I found nothing exciting about Mario 64's world. It was just Mario again, except watered down and old feeling. It was the first time Mario had really repeated himself, and that made me sort of sick.

So in a nutshell, that's why after ten years and multiple attempts at play (on both the N64 and the DS) I have never been able to like Mario 64.

Yet, I love Mario Galaxy. It's so much better than I thought it would be. All five of the above precepts of 2D Mario are back with a vengeance. No backtracking has been necessary at all (I'm about 15 levels into the game), giving the game the 2D Mario "Must always move forward!" feeling I had so badly missed. Through the collection of Star Bits, you are powering up in this game constantly, no to mention the Bee, Boo, Fire, Ice, Spring, and Star suits that could show up at nearly any time. And death finally lurks around every corner again. The life bar is still there, but it's size has been reduced to three bars. After just the first few hours of play I've fallen to my death, been electricuted, and gotten my ass kicked by Gombas on more than one occasion. And it feels good.

Most of the planets are so small that you never get lost, yet are still faced with a constant sense of purpose and challenge. But more importantly, these planets are Insanely weird. I have never seen this kind of stuff done in a video game, ever. It's a new level of surrealism for the entertainment world in general. Yellow Submarine, Frederico Fellini, David Lynch, Katamari and Psychonaughts have officially been de-throned.

If you lost interest in Mario games when they went 3D like I did, Galaxy will bring you back into the fold. Give it a try, for serious. And not just the first few levels. Until you've surfed on the manta, you haven't really given this game a chance.

Bonus spoiler vids of Olimar's ship from Pikman, L-Block from Tetris, and Yoshi all making cameos in the same level.



[embed]54020:4736[/embed]   read


4:04 PM on 11.11.2007

An Analyst is YOU! Year End Extravaganza Part 2: Konami in 2008.



It was fairly easy to sum up Square/Enix last week (thought I sure was long winded about it). They are the Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest company. That's all they do. Even though their attempts at other types of games have sometimes been great, they have never sold. Now the company is all Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest all the time, for better or worse.

Konami has done a lot of different sorts of games, so it's harder to sum them up as a developer. Game developers like Konami are more like record labels than musicians. Your average band does one or two types of music in their career, where as you average label produces multiple types of music through out it's life cycle. But there are some trends in Konami's history that are worth observing, and with those observations some predictions are possible.

Carl Sagan was right when he said "The past is the best predictor for the future". So let's get crackin'

Konami in the Nintendo era: The first "mature" game developer?

I'd say Konami was over all the #1 third party developer for the NES. Capcom and Square had some huge games, as did now nearly forgotten developers like Data East and Tecmo, but Konami had the most enormous, persistently popular game series on the NES, even more than the big N.

All the old school Konami games more or less had two things in common, attributes that made them beloved by the more "mature" and "hardcore" gaming dudes of the NES days. The first was Konami's unprecedented the use of big name Hollywood actors.

I still don't know how they got away with it, but Konami used more Hollywood actors in the 1980's than Heidi Fleiss did in the 1990's. Lance and Bill from Contra were clearly based off Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.




Another example, this time in GIF format.





Snake from Metal Gear was at times a Micheal Beihn (Terminator, Aliens) look-a-like...



...other times based off Kurt Russell.



Sean Connery clearly shows up in Metal Gear 2.




And lets not forget the unlicensed appearance of the Lethal Weapon dudes in Policenaughts.



Castlevania and Gradius are the two exceptions to this rule, as neither feature Hollywood stars. But a case could be made for Castlevania being the most like a American Action/Horror film out of all of Konami's games. It's got Karloff as Frankenstein, it's got Mummies, and it's got Wolfman. All appear in the game in the Hollywood style. But does Castlevania's Wolfman have "nards"? That's a question for another time.

Aw heck, I can't hold out on you like that. I'll just come out and say it.



As weird as it sounds, Konami's link to R rated Hollywood movies gave their games an air of sophistication. By using popular action stars in their games, Konami sent the message that video games were capable of standing right along side Hollywood films in terms of content, not just with cartoons and board games. Konami was arguably the first to take the "Hollywood" direction in game production that's now commonplace in today's gaming landscape.

The second thing that made Konami's NES games "mature" was the required level of practice and skill to play them.

Many big name Konami games were incredibly hard. Contra and Gradius were both one hit kill games. Castlevania's Simon Belmont usually dies after no more than 4 hits from common enemies, even less from bosses, not to mention his inability to control his jump sin mid-air leading to countless deaths via spikes and bottomless pits.

And Snake? He starts his special covert mission against hundreds of soldiers while armed with nothing but a pack of cigarettes. And if he smokes them, he'll slowly die. Does it get any "mature" and "hardcore" than that?

When first playing any NES Konami game, you expected to die at least once a minute, if not faster. But these games strayed away from cheap deaths. With skill and practice, both arguably traits of maturity, all Konami games could be mastered. And if not, then there was always the code.



Konami in the 90's: Hitting the ceiling on "maturity"

The early 90's were a difficult time for Konami. Many of their best developers had left the company to form Treasure, a developer many believe to be the greatest producers of shooters known to man. This left Konami without the skilled man power to continue creating the great shooters it had been known for. And beyond loss of quality employees, Konami had to cope with the entire world of gaming being turned on it's head. 2D gaming's future was in question, and 3D polygon based graphics were suddenly taking over. During this time of evolution every gaming developer had to evolve or die, and Konami was no exception.

Like many of NES's 3rd party developers, Konami more or less jumped ship on Nintendo with the advent of the N64. Nintendo reportedly charged exorbitant fees to develop on it's doomed cartridge based system. And the call of the limitless memory that CD ROM technology had to offer was too great for Konami to resist. The PSX became Konami's new home, and the developer was a key player in making the Playstation name what it is today.

Metal Gear Solid, the third game in the series, is considered by many to be the most "mature" game ever created. Not only is MGS rife with sexual and violent content, but the it's storyline has more intrigue, double cross, historical references, and and complex relationships than most R rated films. And the acting was often better than those films as well (I'm looking at you Beverly Hills Cop 3).

When a long time, 18 year old gamer played MGS for the first time, they felt like gaming had truly grown up along with them. MGS was the perfect hybrid of Hollywood movies and the classic NES Metal Gear games, coming together to create a new form of entertainment. To a lesser degree, the same could be said for Konami's Resident Evil/Clive Barker tribute Silent Hill,. But that's not to say Konami was all about innovation. For the old schooler Konami provided Castlevania:Symphony of the Night and the Suikoden series, staying true to their hardcore 2d roots.

To sum up, in the 90's Konami spearheaded the move towards adult appropriate storytelling in games, while "keeping it real" with old school 2D gaming goodness.

Also, DDR.



Konami now: More of the same, plus Hollywood

What worries me about current day Konami is the same thing that worries me about Square Enix. They are stuck in a rut, no longer pursuing new IP's and instead rely on the same games that got them big in the 80's and 90's. Metal Gear Solid 4 looks great, but beyond the graphical upgrade it promises to be more of the same. That's great for diehard fans of the series, but the chances of MGS4 appealing to a new audiences are slim. The MGS series has always been marred with a high difficulty, weird controls, and long winded cut scenes. These elements remain highly appealing to fans of the series, but also continue to turn off non-fans. And the lack of intense action in the MGS series compared to the FPS of Survival Horror genres is also a turn off to many. Minutes may go by in a MGS game without a shot being fired. To the average Halo fan, that's practically blasphemy.

Konami also continues to churn out cookie cutter DDR, Contra, and Castelvania games to please their diehard fans, but the latest titles in those series will do nothing to bring in new players. Teh new Contra looks awesome for Nostalgia freaks and will likely please who dropped the series after it left Nintendo consoles, but if you don't already love hyper-difficult 2D shooters, Contra IV is not likely to change you mind. All attempts at a 3D Castlevania have more or less failed, and though Tristero's awesome interview with Castlevania's current producer revealed that Konami would still like to do a proper 3D game in the series, nothing to that effect has yet been announced.

But it's not all stagnation with Konami in the 2K. A place where Konami is actively innovating is in the realm of video game movies. It's some how not a surprise that the company that made it's name on Hollywood inspired games is now poised to excel in Hollywood itself. The Silent Hill movie was a relative success, a hit with both fans of the game and with those totally unfamiliar with it. How'd they do it? Well, the creators of the movie reportedly were actually fans of their source material, and thought the film adaptation to be worthy of a serious tone. The Silent Hill the movie has no over the top "video game" moments like the Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, or Street Fighter movies. It's a "real movie", and was therefore respected like one. With any luck tho forth coming MGS and Castelvania movies will follow suit.



Konami: What they should do in 2008

This is a tough one. The easy answer is of course "make awesome games on every platform", because that's what Konami has always done in the past (except for the N64 and Saturn). More specifically, Konami would be wise to cease it's seemingly singular support of the PS3. The PS3 continues to look like the losing horse in the console race, at least for 2008, so Konami better start making games for other consoles if it wants to survive the year. A 360 port of MGS4 is one obvious move, as is putting some sort of MGS and Castlevania game on the Wii.

But more than anything, Konami needs some new IP's. There are a whole new batch of Hollywood actors that Konomi could steal and put in contemporary games. Why not a Hiedi Fliess inspired GTA style game, where you do crimes and pimp out whores to the likes of all new Stallone, Russel, and Schwarzenegger inspired characters? I know I'd pre-order that game, with or without Hot Coffee.




Or at the very least, Konami needs to start to using their old IP's in new ways. Why not a 3D Castelvania game that plays like a cross between Simon's Quest and Assassin's Creed? Or why not a Castlevania MMORPG? Why keep turning out the same Devil May Cry wanna-be turds?



And it's time for some new talent. Iga and Kojima haven't worn out their welcome, but they seem worn out themselves. They turn out quality games, but they turn out the same quality games year after year. Neither seems to do well outside their famous franchise (Castlevania for Iga, Metal Gear for Kojima), and it might be wise to hire some blood for those series, while giving each of the above famous producers a well needed rest to reflect on gaming and actually come up with some new ideas.

And lastly, a new Bayou Billy game for the Wii (called Bayou Wiilly, of course) seems like a no brainer. Pew Pew Pew, mate.

But enough out of me. After all, An Analyst is YOU! How do you think Konami's going to do next year, and what do you think they should do to succeed?   read


4:55 PM on 11.07.2007

New Resident Evil Umbella Chronicles scans- Ada's in the house (of the dead)

Resident Evil:Umbrella Chronicles just gain some credibility. I think that all RE fans were disappointed when they heard this game was once planned to play like RE4 on the Wii, but was instead changed to a on-rails shooter. Like a crappy remix of your favorite song, the game looked like a retread of RE0, 1 and 3 but with all the fun extracted. For me this disappointment has slowly eroded, and with today's scan I'm actually quite excited for the games story, as stupid as it may turn out to be.

Like the Metal Gear series, the RE games have a convoluted, silly plot. But again like Metal Gear Solid, after playing the games for the past ten years or so, I can say I'm actually attached to the characters. So seeing Ada return in this "should be dead, but instead looks like she was married to Ike Turner" manner, and knowing that we will finally get an explanation as to how she survived the destruction of Raccoon City, for me that alone makes RE:UC worth the price of admission.

All the same, part of me wants this game to sell like crap so Capcom will see that consumers bought 1 million copies of RE4 on the Wii not because they follow the RE name around like mindless zombies (har har) but because RE4 is an awesome game. I want a RE2 remake for the Wii with the RE4 game engine. That's not going to happen if a RE lightgun game reusing graphics from the Gamecube games outsells the real games in the series.

Enough yapping, here's the scans.







  read


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