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1:12 AM on 06.12.2011

inFAMOUS 2 Review

With all of the talk about the setting, the new powers, and the holy $#!^ backlash to Cole's redesign and re-redesign, there was quite a bit of buzz surrounding the sequel to arguably one of the best Playstation 3 exclusives. inFAMOUS 2 picks up Cole MacGrath leaving Empire City for New Marais in search of new powers to combat The Beast upon its arrival. Packing some new heat, or maybe giving you the cold shoulder, inFAMOUS 2 brings a slightly upgraded flair to the original while still keeping it fresh in a handful of different ways.

The first thing that really struck me was the writing quality. Not necessarily the story, but the dialogue and how the characters are almost redefined. Cole comes across as a bit more of an average human, less like a rage/confusion-filled superhuman trying to find his place in the world, and that's a good thing. Cole actually manages to crack a few jokes this time around and lightens up from his last outing, becoming a bit more easy to relate to and ultimately more enjoyable to play as. particularly interesting are the occasional cutscenes or bits of dialogue looking back on Cole's past with Zeke pre-Empire City incident. Speaking of Zeke, he gets a very large persona and role makeover, becoming an actual asset and necessary character as opposed to just the mostly annoying friend who happens to be able to make phone calls to people who know things. Nix and Agent Kuo are a little more than along for the ride, with Kuo having a bit more substance to her character throughout most of the game, but both show a surprising bit of hidden depth depending on which ending you take.

The gameplay is largely similar to the of the original inFAMOUS, but with a few tweaks and added elements. The parkour-style climbing has been refined and smoothed out so that there are less "wait I didn't jump toward that" moments and is aided by a pair of unlocked, karmically specific powers to either . rocket you across a stretch of sky in a fiery blaze, or launch you skyward on a pillar of ice; I found the latter to be an invaluable tool to help climbing taller structures, maintaining momentum, and creating some pretty awesome moments. One other addition are the launch rails- charged rails on the sides of some buildings and towers that fling Cole upward and help cut down on climbing times.

Many of the original powers are still there, the Sticky Grenade, the Precision Bolt, and the constantly awesome Thunder Drop, but the newer powers are a bit hit-and-miss. Take, for instance, the Freeze Grenade and Freeze Rocket, both with the effect of freezing enemies within their blast radius, but the freeze doesn't last very long and the radius isn't wide enough to make it a much more effective weapon. Likewise the Nightmare Blast which is a shockwave attack that produces a cloud of smoke around the enemy(ies) as a way to induce a momentary disorientation. The effect lasts a bit longer than the freezing attacks, but it's still not tremendously more useful than a normal shockwave. My personal favorite power was the Bolt Stream- a Hero karma unlockable power than turned you into a lightning machine gun, but at the cost of burning through your power and inflicting slightly less damage with each hit. Overall, the good karma powers were more useful and powerful than their bad karma counterparts, but the ideas and innovation that went into all of the powers shows in that there aren't any "bad" or useless powers.

New Marais is an interesting redesign with as much emphasis on missions in areas of smaller houses as in the main section of the high-rise-filled city. Although the layout of the docks did, at one point, give me an eerie sense of deja vu where there was a large ship docked to the right of a long pier overshadowed by two large cranes, almost identical to and area from the first inFAMOUS. Overall, New Marais provides an interesting backdrop of a ruined city that's had some time to recover and re-establish itself, as opposed to to the completely ruined, isolated, and desperate Empire City.

If there is a flaw in inFAMOUS 2, it's in the conveyance of the story. Starting off on one track, jumping somewhat roughly to another, losing itself a bit in the middle, and swinging a bit too hard toward the end, what begins as a promising quest for new abilities bogs itself down in a very roughly sketched frame of martial law that loses its importance as the focus continually shifts. Without giving anything anyway, one ending makes perfect sense following along its karmic line, while the other tries too many twists and rationalizations, while conversely providing the better gameplay experience.

The feature that really seemed to come out of nowhere before its announcement was the inclusion of UGC, or User-Generated Content. These missions aren't all just cut-and-dry "kill the enemies" missions either, there was an enormous bit of diversity not only among the samples provided by Sucker punch to illustrate what could be accomplished, but also by some of the first community-submitted creations. Ranging from defending a target to surviving an ambush to racing across power lines in a very Spider-Man style ring race, there are quite a few templates to choose from in creating missions. Along with ways to filter content by date or by rating, the number of options in just how to design missions and the creativity shown even so early on will make the UGC a reason to keep coming back to inFAMOUS 2 and was as brilliant a move by Sucker Punch as it was unexpected.

All together, inFAMOUS 2 delivers an exceptional experience, with the gameplay style and the UGC making up for the slight lack of cohesion in the main story. An added perk to anyone who completes the game with both endings, all of the powers become unlockable, which help in hunting down blast shards and collecting dead drops (which continue to serve as a way to flesh out some of the backstory for characters both new and old) and polishing off any side missions you may not have completed. Sucker Punch set out to create a better product than the first inFAMOUS, and they did so fairly well with the core gameplay experience and narrative, but the well-written and voiced dialogue along with the more subtle movie marquee and storefront humor and the promising outlook for the UGC helps inFAMOUS 2 to really deliver.

^ I bet anyone who's played has passed this shop at least a dozen times without noticing.

Score- 9.0/10

(Update: Because I started this yesterday and finished it today I forgot it would upload under yesterday's timestamp, so I had to re-post it to get it under the right date. We're all good now.)   read

12:57 PM on 05.09.2011

Top 5 Most Overrated Video Game Villains

In every list of video game villains, there are always a few who are placed way too high for reasons that seem to escape understanding. Some I think are just blown out of proportion, some I don't get at all, but let's get right to it, shall we? **NOTE: As I have been so advised, spoiler warning for Portal 2.

#5- M. Bison

Why do I always see Bison in the top 20? A month ago I would've laughed at the idea of a cohesive story to a fighting game, even though Street Fighter has seemed to try to some extent, but since the release of the Mortal Kombat reboot I've seen that fighting games can have a franchise-encompassing narrative that manages to flesh out many of its characters. So until I see a Street Fighter that really makes me think of Bison as an actual badass, toss him back onto the pile.
"Wait! He was a really hard arcade boss!" Yeah, so? Being a pain to beat doesn't make him a good villain, or a decent villain, or something other than fairly cheap, actually. I guess that's kind of evil, but not good enough.

#4- Sofia Lamb

For some reason the doctor from Bioshock 2 finds her way constantly into the top 50, and for what? I remember her yelling at me...for some reason. She didn't stick in my mind, not a bit. To be fair, Bioshock 2 wasn't the great follow-up I was hoping for, but what really stuck in my mind was that the "antagonist" was such a weak character. Oh sure, she was crazy, but who in Rapture wasn't? I would've been far more impressed if she was sane, or at least a creative kind of crazy. But no, she's just a doctor-turned-leader who went the predictable amount of batty. Sander Cohen was a better villain.

#3- The Origami Killer

I enjoyed Heavy Rain, for the most part. I liked the narrative, I liked the fairly unique play style (for consoles at the time) and I liked the Origami Killer because he was that kind of organized psychotic nut that really made things interesting. And then they ruined it by revealing who it was. I was supposed to believe that this character was the mastermind behind the Saw-like traps and puzzles and other assorted mind games? No, I didn't buy it. "Oh but that means he had a good disguise". No, it didn't. It just didn't jive at all. It was supposed to be such a curve ball, but it wound up not making any sense, and that completely ruined what I had thought was a great character.

#2- Sephiroth

Before the hate, let me explain. This is not a list of "bad" villains, but "overrated" ones. I love Seph, don't get me wrong, but when you take a good look at him, he's not a tremendously complex villain. He's not quite as evil as he could've been, and I don't want to hear it about text-based versus voice acting, Kefka managed to be a frightening kind of awesome just fine. "But Seph sets fire to a town, threatens to destroy the planet, and has the most overplayed final boss music in history!" The real flaw is in his legend. We're told he's the most badass fighter in history, and we get glimpses of that during the Kalm flashback, but it doesn't pull, really. He kills a dragon with one attack, big deal; so can Cait Sith if you level him up enough. "But he kills Aerith!" Yeah, and that was evil, granted, but Kefka kills children (gasp!) and oh by the way he actually manages to succeed in destroying the world! Kefka is like Gary Oak to Seph's Ash, in a bit of a twisted way, really. Sephiroth isn't a terrible villain, he's just not all that great.

#1- GlaDOS

"What!? How can you say that!?" Like this, GlaDOS is the single most overrated villain/character/construct I have ever seen. Oh my, a murderous computer; yeah, not revolutionary, right HAL? "But the voice is so soothing and gentle and manipulative at the same time." No it's not. It's spitting out phrases that, well, are phrases. I mean I usually tune out when somebody comes over the intercom. "But the Companion Cube!" Screw the Cube, I'm glad I got to throw that thing out, it was annoying. I get that there was the whole psychology thing there, though, but it was all so flat. It's supposed to be some big shock that someone actually is trying to murder you, but if you didn't figure that out the first time you heard "No one is trying to murder you. I promise," well then I really don't know what to say. And for all the griping about Portal 2, I'll say this, Wheatley was a much, much better villain.   read

4:14 PM on 11.19.2010

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood review

-by Logan Witt

Last year, Assassin's Creed II improved upon the gameplay of the original and enhanced the storyline further, expanding both the past and present lives of Desmond Miles. This year, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was released amongst a bit of concern as to the quality and length of the single player element, and mixed emotions over the multiplayer modes. Brotherhood does not disappoint and rises easily to meet and even exceed expectations.

The single player mode puts you back in the Animus and once more into the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, this time needing to dismantle Rome from within the city walls. Most of the gameplay occurs in Rome, and bring along the investments elements from the villa in AC: II, increasing your wealth and wrestling Rome from control of the Borgias at the same time. A new antagonist is introduced, one whose lust for blood and power made him a perfect fit, as well as logical considering the point in history, and any fans of the era will have more reason to enjoy just how well Ubisoft has designed, scripted, and utilized the ambitious Cesare Borgia. The campaign offers many of the same offshoot missions as before in order to continue renovating Rome, and along with the return of the feathers and flags and cryptic messages from Subject 16, adding to total well over 18 hours of playtime. But a simple story mission only playthrough will still take 6-8 hours, depending on your style.

The gameplay mechanics from AC: II remain and have been upgraded, most noticeably to make the freerunning more seamless and eliminate most of the "wait I didn't aim for that" moments that plagued the series up to this point, as well as increasing the pace of the climbing, swinging, and the use of the hanging baskets. The combat is much, much more fluid and bring the AI into the fight more quickly, leaving none of the standing around waiting to counter as you will have to be on the offensive as much as the defensive. One added element to help the combat situations is the killstreak mechanic, letting you flow from the current kill to the next one by aiming the analog stick and a quick button press. Another more enhanced piece is the use of horses, both in travel and in some very slick assassinations. You will use horses more frequently, as although most of the game takes place in Rome, the city is a massive location, the biggest of any city by far in Assassin's Creed.

The graphics are a slight enhancement from AC: II, which means that the landscapes are even more rich, the character models more detailed and precise, and the cinematic moments of viewpoint synchronization are even more breathtaking than before. Likewise Jesper Kyd's score is largely similar in style and quality, fitting in beautifully with each different scenario, and I'll never get tired of the majestic crescendo at the top of a viewpoint. The voice acting is all well-delivered and with perfect lip-synchronization, continuing to make the characters more alive.

Then we come to the multiplayer, something that many people questioned not only whether or not it could be executed well, but whether or not something like this was even necessary. I wondered how Ubisoft would pull off the multiplayer, and the more I saw, the more I kept thinking that it was simply "kill somebody and then try not to get killed in the meantime". It does boil down to that, but the way it's presented and how much fun it is shows that they knew just what they were doing here.

The first gameplay mode is "Wanted", and plays very simply: you're given a picture of what character you're looking for (and the selection is quite impressive with more than 15 characters) and a compass at the bottom to point you in the right direction that glows when your target is in sight and grows wider when you draw closer. A chase mode begins if you're not stealthy enough in hunting your prey and you now have to catch them before they escape, or you lose the contract and they score an escape bonus, providing a little bit more incentive. Highest score wins, with bonus points being included for killstreaks, aerial assassinations, killing your prey in midair, and for how stealthy you were in each kill as well as a bonus for escaping a chase. An "Advanced Wanted" mode is unlockable, which is essentially the equivalent of "hardcore" mode.

The second gameplay mode is "Manhunt", or a team version of "Wanted" and also plays simply; two teams of four, one being hunted by the other. The goal of the prey team isn't to fight back, but to hide and not be killed, simple enough. There are two rounds per game, with team roles switching at the begging of each round. Scored the same way, bonuses and all, as "Wanted", highest team score wins.

The last gameplay mode is "Alliance", and is a more interesting mode in which players are paired up to kill the same prey and have to watch each other's backs. It's just like "Wanted", but with a partner, which adds an unexpected depth to the gameplay. Highest scoring pair wins.

There are plenty of unlockables, from characters to clothing colors to gameplay items that unlock as you level up. There are quite a few items to use, like the "disguise" ability which changes your character, or the "morph" ability which can only be used in a crowd and changes them all to match your character, or my favorite, the "hidden gun" which adds an element of long-range assassination at the cost of the stealth bonus. There are twelve different active abilities, each of which can greatly alter the gameplay dynamic, and are also upgradeable themselves (for instance, the "hidden gun" can be unlocked to upgrade to firing faster and reloading faster). There is also an upgradeable killstreak bonus which adds more a larger bonus to your score after a killstreak of 3, and a few extra abilities to either reset your active ability cooldowns or double your score should you fall into a loss streak.

All together, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a fantastic package with an engaging and full single-player mode as well as a simple, yet tremendously well put together multiplayer section. There is more than enough content in a campaign mode that also takes a little time showcase more of Desmond's emerging talents as an assassin to make it a tremendously satisfying title by itself, but the amazingly well designed and implemented multiplayer make this an awesome experience and a triumph for the Assassin's Creed franchise.

Score- 10.0/10.0   read

10:00 AM on 11.12.2010

Top 5 Long-haired Badass Video Game Dudes

- by Logan Witt

(Made this list for the "new" Destructoid, but never got it to look right to upload. Last list for a while.)

It’s always seemed to me like some of the most awesome characters have been able to measure their awesomeness by the length of their flowing mane. This list will include both villains and heroes. One very notable exception will be Solid Snake- those of you who watched the prologue videos to Metal Gear Solid will remember the massive hair he had, but his trademark look had it trimmed closer to military precision, so he doesn’t count (sorry). Also, there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

#5- Measter Seymour Guado

First thing’s first, I hate this man. I hate him with an unbridled passion. He was the most annoying boss I have ever, ever fought, and as a villain, he was beyond annoying. His seeming reliance on an Aeon to do all of his dirty work recalls a former long-haired FF antagonist, yet it does become apparent that Seymour can, unfortunately, handle himself in a fight. He originally comes across as benign, just creepy, then quickly spirals toward evil, especially after he dies. Oh how I wish he would’ve simply stayed dead, but no, he just had to hang around unsent. Then there was the wedding, which when you actually think about it, is beyond creepy! He’s dead! He’s a corporeal manifestation of his corrupt and evil soul that just won’t leave, and he kisses Yuna! Ick! (Don’t give me the counterpoint protagonist argument, Tidus was different) Then he tries to channel Kefka in his ‘world domination’ turn and although he fails, he gets creepier and creepier as the game rolls to the end. With a last dig at the party’s hope (“But even after I am gone, Spira’s sorrow will prevail.”) Seymour finally gets sent to the Farplane where he belongs, leaving his legacy as a blue lightning-bolt-hairstyled megalomaniac behind.

#4- Shang Tsung

Yeah, it’s longer in most other games, but this was the best picture I could find. Anyhow, so, Shang Tsung. Shang is a cursed sorcerer, damned by the Elder Gods first to death after cheating in a Mortal Kombat tournament, then to have to absorb the souls of the foes he vanquishes so that he could prolong his fate of rapidly aging and dying. He then goes on to become Grand Champion of the Mortal Kombat tournament in very swift fashion, and hold it until his overinflated ego was burst by the Great Kung Lao. Well, that just creamed his corn, so Shang brings prince Goro to the next tournament to kill Kung Lao then consume his soul. In something somewhat glossed over in MK lore, his treatment of Kenshi was exceptionally cruel; describing himself as an old man and using the swordsman’s ambition, he led him to a tomb where there laid a fabulous sword, when in reality all that Tsung wanted was to consume the multitude of souls that were entombed, leaving Kenshi blinded and near-death. Shang would later lose Mortal Kombat to Liu Kang, but that didn’t stop his dark activities as, under the command of Shao Kahn, he revived Queen Sindel within Earthrealm which would’ve forced the realms to merge. Shang later would commit one of the most evil atrocities in the MK universe, as, with the help of Quan Chi’s timely interference, he would murder Liu Kang and consume his soul, dealing a devastating blow to Raiden’s chosen warriors. Tsung’s alliance with Quan Chi eventually dissolved, though their scuffle took a back seat to the rising of Onaga, which would prompt Raiden’s sacrificial release of power, killing himself, Quan Chi, and Shang Tsung in the process. Though death could not hold Tsung, as he commands another body to inhabit and continue seeking power. Tsung apparently has no concrete goal other than complete power for the sake of having complete power, and that is a dangerous ambition on its own, let alone when fueled by a dark and twisted soul like Shang Tsung.

#3- Liquid Snake

Ah, supposedly the bastard reject of the Les Enfant Terribles project. After leading a life as a skilled and brilliant solider, Liquid would go on to be involved in the even that would elevate him to a player on the world stage, the coup at Shadow Moses island. Demanding the body of Big Boss be delivered or else he would launch a nuclear device, Liquid plumbed the minds of his military hostages, and disguised himself as a dead teacher of his “brother”, Solid Snake. An often overlooked event is the destruction of his Hind helicopter with him still inside it. No ejection, no chute, just a curious and possible precursor of things to come. Liquid understood the drive behind Solid Snake, and actually counted on his activation of the nuke as one of the codes could not be obtained after the, ah, overenthusiastic, interrogation and death of the DARPA chief. Liquid would pilot Metal Gear REX in an attempt to crush Solid Snake, then use it to quite literally crush Gray Fox before being caught in the cockpit when REX was destroyed. Liquid would then challenge his brother to a hand-to-hand duel on top of REX’s wreckage, only to fall from that great height after his loss. But it was not to be, as Liquid would return to chase Solid Snake out of the installation, and following the collision, seem poised to claim his place as Big Boss’s rightful heir…except for FOXDIE. Liquid would, actually, and finally, die, there on the snow-covered ground an obscure Alaskan island. Although his influence would later continue on through Revolver Ocelot and show his metamorphosing desire to conquer the world through an override of the AI controlling the world’s nanomachines, it is his first and only true incarnation that really does Liquid justice.

#2- Kuja

Admit it, the first time you saw Kuja, your first thought was, “Whoa, who is that chick?” One of the more subtly flamboyant characters of the FF universe, Kuja was also a bit on the evil side. Starting with the intention of conquering the world, more or less, Kuja just seems like a fairly average puppet master, pulling lightly on each particular string, as well as manufacturing the black mages to supply as living (sort of) weapons. He also advises Queen Brahne to extract the Eidolons from Princess Garnet in what can only be imagined as a horrifically agonizing process. Then we find his ship, the Invincible, with the power to capture and control Eidolons, beginning with Bahamut, giving him an enormous source of destructive power. After losing his chance to capture the Eidolon Alexander, and all but obliterating Alexandria in the process, Kuja vows to acquire an even more powerful Eidolon. That is, until he learns the secret to achieving the Trance state. Kuja achieves the Trance state and proceeds to kill Garland and strike down Zidane and friends, and then the bombshell is dropped- Kuja was a prototype Genome, only supposed to survive until Zidane matured. Well, yeah I can see that being upsetting, but Kuja goes off-the-charts insane and destroys the world of Terra. He destroys the world. Just let that sink in for a second. Then, after a final engagement against Zidane, Kuja turns and destroys the crystal, the source of all life. Talk about your evil lunatcy, the whole “destroying all of creation thing because you can’t accept your identity” just about takes the batshit insane cake. Yeah, yeah, his very last act is an attempt at redemption, but that doesn’t cancel out a lifetime of vengeful destruction and tremendously powerful attempts to just be evil. Oh, and did I mention that he destroyed his homeworld?? Just checking.

#1- Zero

The ultimate ponytailed badass. The ultimate Maverick hunter. The original Maverick. The carrier of the virus that destroys the world. The self-sacrificing savior reploid. Zero was many things, including the inspiration for my own recently removed pontytail, but he was first often thought of as Mega Man X’s sidekick. Then he died in a grand act of sacrifice. Then he was rebuilt and back to being awesome. In X3, he could put in an occasional appearance, but it wasn’t until X4 that Zero was given one of his two best stories in the X series. Introduction of a love interest, playability, and the use of animated cutscenes give more depth to the saber-wielding warrior, and unlocking the black armor just makes him look even cooler. Zero’s original nature comes to the fore in X5, after the colony Eurasia falls to Earth and unleashes a modified virus, either transforming Zero into a Maverick of fully “awakening” him, making him evil yet still awesome. The canon ending for X5 showed a self-sacrificing Zero destroy the last remaining fragment of Sigma, and X carrying on as a Maverick Hunter. I follow the idea set forth by Kenji Inafune, the series creator, and like to end the X saga here. I don’t have anything against X6, 7, and 8, as well as command mission, I simply prefer the clean wrap up that X5 presents. Regardless of whether there is an X9, made, let’s jump to the Mega Man Zero series, focusing solely around, well, Zero. Finally getting his own starring role, a rebuilt Zero must finish the mission he began to protect humans. After combating a clone of Mega Man X, a madman named Elpizo who destroys the real X’s body, a reploid named Omega that occupies Zero’s original body, Zero commits an act that goes against his very nature, he must kill Doctor Weil. Killing a human, no matter how evil, contradicts Zero’s sense of duty and would have him labeled a “Maverick”, but Zero places his duty to humanity above all else, and sacrifices himself one final time in order to conquer this last evil threat. Zero was a character of nobility, pride, and untold power, yet was constantly at war with himself over his destiny. Originally a creation of Doctor Wily to help conquer the world, Zero gave his life to save it, and looks awesome with his ever-present ponytail blowing in the wind as he kicks ass.   read

6:47 PM on 11.10.2010

23 Video Games We Will Probably Never See (part 1)

-by Logan Witt

At least this isn’t a countdown list. But there are plenty of things that may gamers, myself included, would love to see made, but never will. Some because the series/game it would come from wasn’t popular, some because the company is no longer around, some because the developer has probably forgotten about it or just doesn’t want to do it for some reason, and some because, well, just because. Numbered only so that I don’t lose count.

#1- Skies of Arcadia 2

Sky pirates. Do I really need to say anything more?? Seriously?? Okay then, I will. Really solid gameplay, a fantastic storyline, and great characters. Including sky pirates.

Reason it won’t happen- Laziness. Overworks merged with Wow Entertainment in 2004 to form Sega Wow, which is now working on Valkyria Chronicles III, which is for the PSP. Give me a SoA sequel already.

#2- Legend of Legaia 3

Legaia 2: Duel Saga was a sequel that I know was released in America…somewhere. I’ve heard stories of people who have played it. I’ve seen video of people (supposedly) playing it. All kidding aside, Legaia 2 was a sequel in name and some gameplay elements only, and that’s kinda why I don’t count it. Wait, I know what you’re going to say, “Look at every Final Fantasy and how things have changed!” Yeah, look how wildly they changed everything going into XII and XIII, and they sucked. I’m just partial to the gameplay from the original Legend of Legaia, and the story was really, really cool. I mean, really cool.

Reason it won’t happen- Legaia 2 bombed, and there doesn’t seem to be a giant groundswell to revive the series. That’s a damn shame, really.

#3- Cool Spot 3

Spot Goes to Hollywood was meh, but the original Cool Spot was one of the most fun games I’d ever played on the Genesis. It was silly and over-the-top and completely out of left field, but didn’t suffer the curse of that befalls most mascot games (meaning, they usually suck). I had so much fun with it, and dammit I want another one!

Reason it won’t happen- Virgin Interactive doesn’t exist anymore. It was broken apart within the last ten years, with its Spanish company, Virgin Play, being the only real remaining piece of the company that brought us the fantastic game adaptations of The Lion King and Aladdin, for the SNES and Genesis, respectively.

#4- Kung-Fu 2

Originally a Japanese arcade game called Kung-Fu Master and based, however loosely, on the Jackie Chan film “Wheels on Meals”, the NES port of Kung-Fu was one of my favorite NES games and I hold that it was responsible for the flourishing of the beat ‘em up genre, for better or worse. It was simplistic, short, and fun. Why can’t we have a sequel?? Why can’t the genre progenitor come back for an updated performance?? Beat ‘em ups aren’t dead, and can be done fabulously- case in point, this year’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Bring on a Kung-Fu sequel, Mr. X and all.

Reason it won’t happen- 26 years later?? I mean what is this, Duke Nukem Forever?? (Easy joke, had to do it.) Nah, it’s just not gonna happen. And that makes me sad.

#5- Mega Man X9

This one could happen, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, but I don’t have my hopes up. I wasn’t crazy about the switch to 3D style gameplay in the later games, or 3D style graphics. I miss X4, 5, and 6. Great gameplay, great graphic style. Axl was an okay addition, and I can live with him if I need to. I loved the X series, and I hope it continues.

Reason it won’t happen- The X series became less profitable as it went on, that’s part of why the overall series moved to the handhelds, most notably with the Zero series and Mega Man Legends 3 (which would’ve been on this list had it not already been announced). And with the recent departure of Kenji Inafune, I don’t particularly see any more installments in the X series.

#6- Jurassic: The Hunted 2

Jurassic: The Hunted, was a fantastic idea that was well executed and immensely enjoyable. It was a budget title that may have performed to expectations, but those expectations were probably to do little more than break even, hence the cheap launch price.

Reason it won’t happen- Cauldron HQ has a history of, well, History Channel games, and they didn’t pan out so well, so they went on to do something else. I could see this sequel being mildly possible, but I’m not holding my breath.   read

6:04 AM on 11.10.2010

10 Biggest “Holy $#!^” Moments in Video Games (part 2)

- by Logan Witt (continued)

Yeah, yeah, I did six in the last post, I know. That’s because I’m going to be a lot more long-winded on some of these. So then, here we go again

#4- You will not beat me! (Final Fantasy IX)

Every gamer in the world has a story like this. And it always starts the same way, not, “Man let me tell you about this close call.” No, no. It’s always, “Hey, let me tell you about how awesome I am.” We all have that one story that makes it sound like we were brilliant or invincible or a gaming deity, and nobody can take it away from us, no matter what. One of my friends and I would love to talk about how we beat down Griever in FF VIII just recently using only Zell before getting completely wiped out (“To the death!”), but there’s a story from years before that still defines a genuine holy $#!^ moment, and it comes courtesy of the end of Final Fantasy IX.

First came the fight with Trance Kuja, with his Ultima and brutal physical attacks. It took everything I had learned in my short RPG career to carry through that fight, and I took a breath and set down the controller to celebrate, as I’m sure many other players did, at first. Then came Necron. Just diving from one seemingly final boss fight to another. I ranted, I railed, I didn’t care that at least it let you adjust equipment and get fully healed, I screamed at my t.v. how unfair this was. Then I proceeded to buckle down and get my ass kicked. But I would not be denied, not after struggling so hard and coming so far, there is no way this thing win, no matter how cheap he seemed to get. The Grand Cross attack hit the whole party with every status ailment in the game, not just a bunch, but every single one! Then he’d almost always follow that with his patented pain in the ass Neutron Ring attack, doing some serious damage, and then cast something like Flare or Holy, almost always wiping out one character, maybe two by then end of his three turn run. Oh I hated this thing with a passion, a hatred that wouldn’t be matched until a year later by some blue-crooked hair ponce on Mt. Gagazet. But I would not yield to Necron, and it ended like it was scripted- one last ditch effort from a Trance Zidane with Hp in the red. I was determined to go down swinging, and that last swing took him out. I took another breath and put the controller back down, I didn’t give a damn if there was some kind of Neo-Necron, I’d run a gauntlet, as far as I was concerned. I was unbeatable, I was unstoppable, I would take out anything that got in my way. Everybody has a story like that, and it becomes a part of our own bit of legend, because let’s be honest, we love to brag. This was my last second save, and for all the other similar stories out there amongst us, I salute you and your moment of invincibility. Holy $#!^.

#3- Beware, I live! (Sinistar)

Whether it was in the arcade, in one of the dozens of arcade game collections, or at the home of somebody who’d actually bought the cabinet, thousands of nightmares have been inspired by those three simple words. Sinistar just looks like something that would give movie monsters a run for their money, but add to that the fact that he taunts you, gives some pretty good advice (yeah, “Run! Run!” wasn’t a bad idea), and roars in a fashion that sends chills down your spine, the moment you hear that this thing is loose is a moment that always calls for a very heartfelt “holy $#!^”. No matter how many times I play it, no matter how close I come to killing this thing, every time I hear that gravely echo across the emptiness of space, I know I’m out of luck and that no matter how far or fast I speed away, Sinistar is fast, evil, and hungry…and he’s coming for me.

#2- Where did that come from!!! (Jurassic Park- Genesis edition)

La da dee, let me just jump this gap here. Okay now up this ladder. And now gonna jump this g-HOLY $#!^ A T-REX JUST BROKE THROUGH THE WALL!! I was six, I had nightmares for a month dammit. Before I was old enough to put “jump” scares in their place, this was one of the most terrifying experiences I’d ever had. Okay, so now I’m headed over these crates, just killed that compy, down the boxes and HOLY $#!^ THERE HE IS AGAIN!! Okay, take a breath, take it easy, we’re okay. Let’s get on this little motorboat and get the hell out of here. Crap, wall, okay, jump off, let’s get in this other bo-HOLY $#!^ HE’S BACK!! Okay, wait, now I get it, he’s gonna show up every couple of levels. Now I’m okay, he’s got a pattern, I’ve got him figured out. Let’s take this motorboat past him now. Off one edge, turn around, off another, cruise by the waterfall, down another ledge, turn around ag-HOLY $#!^ HE’S HERE TWICE!! Yeah, now I’m panicked. He could be anywhere, anytime, I’ll never see it coming, I’ll never know when I might next be Rex chow until it’s almost too late, or after it’s too late. Of course looking back, he did have a set pattern, but at the time, yeah, big time “holy $#!^”.

#1- Whoa…Ho. Ly. $#!^. (Shadow of the Colossus)

Okay, so I just have to climb this tower and…Oh. Ho-ly $#!^. Definitely awe-inspired, and definitely deserved, Malus left me speechless, save for two words. Getting over for a second that he’s the final and most powerful of the colossi, just the absolute size, man, the sheer monolithic appearance is enough to cause a slight panic. Okay, these things can’t get any bigger than Phalanx, right?? Technically true, but that was a flying sky serpent, you expect them to be huge. Malus was a mountain. A literal, honest-to-God mountain that you had to bring down. When you stood next to this thing you felt like you were looking up at the top of the world, and you, with nothing but a sword and a strong grip, had to bring it crashing to the ground. Unbelievable, unreal, but beautifully executed and just sheer perfection. But still to this day, every time I think about that last Colossus, all that I can think is holy $#!^.

Question of the day: An obvious one, what’s your biggest holy $#!^ moment?   read

12:12 AM on 11.09.2010

10 Biggest “Holy $#!^” Moments in Video Games (part 1)

- by Logan Witt (just start calling me “Mr. List”, seriously folks)

First off, these are in sort of a bottom 5 group and top 5 group, not a definitive order, except for #1, so feel free to rank them amongst yourselves. This is also a purely subjective list, so bite me. There will also be talk, I’m sure, about ones that I’ve left out- that would be because it’s from a game I’ve never played. These may be plot twists, reveals of some kind, cinematic moments, or gameplay moments that caused me to, in way way or another, shout the titular quote at the top of my lungs.

#10- Wolf Sigma (Mega Man X)

I was five years old. I was packing up boxes to get ready to move in an hour or so. My SNES was going to be the last thing packed as long as I held a controller. I had just beat Sigma’s simple pet robot pooch, and then him with his annoying Z-Saber blocking everything. The head floated up, the background came into focus, and ho-ly $#!^!! That thing was massive! And it breathed fire! It was a mostly full-screen carrier armor studded with spikes that shot electricity, brought lightning form who knows where, smacked you down with its platform hands, and freakin’ breathed fire! That may not have been the biggest holy $#!^ moment in my gaming lifetime, but it was the first. And you always remember your first.

#9- Diamond Weapon (Final Fantasy VII)

I’ve got to fight what!? Again with the size, but there was also the lore behind it. The different Weapons were supposed to be the planet’s last line of defense, and I could see why. This thing was massive, even in the sort of squared-off and not-to-scale graphic setup in FF VII. But this fight was right after the cutscene showing just how genuinely massive this thing really was. And then you find out that it actually takes that enormous mako-charged cannon to finally put it down. Yeah, definitely, to me, holy $#!^.

#8- Hold on, that’s a girl! (Metroid)

This is an honorary position, and let me tell you why. I was coming off of Mario All-Stars before I first went back to really play Metroid, and as we all know, Super Marios Bros. 2 let you play as Princess Peach, so I had already been used to a playable female character. But in fairness, Samus was much more bad-ass. Samus had a genuinely foundation-shaking impact on the video game world, paving the way for other strong female leads like Lara Croft. So as a salute of recognition, I say, holy $#!^.

#7- Welcome to Rapture (Bioshock)

That bathysphere was creepy before the splicer tried to slice it open. But the first time I got to see Rapture, and the giant squid that rushes by, I was blown away. Not just because it looked so really cool, but also because of the size of it and the fact that it was, after all, at the bottom of the ocean. It really was a marvel of human imagination to think that a completely autonomous community could exist and thrive (even for a short time) at the bottom of the damn sea, just, whoa man. Of course it fell apart and all of that, but the original marvel of it was a real breathtaking moment for me. Ho-ly $#!^.

#6- You mean you can do that!? (Need for Speed II)

Hauling ass in a smokin’ silver McLaren F1, across cobblestones, through caves, all the way up to a narrow rope bridge on the Mystic Peaks track. Well the first time it happened, I hit it on a corner trying to make a pass, and went sailing over the side! Up until then there was always the invisible barrier keeping you in play, and my friend and I had tried in the previous Need for Speed to find a hole in the wall with no success, but now we had found the sweet spot. Reverse the track and you get an equally good ramp from the other side. Hours of fun just going over the edge forward, backward, and powersliding. But that first time was just such a rush. I mean, holy $#!^ man.

#5- Turn off the lights (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)

Yeah, sure, maybe some of the story was over the top. Yeah, sure, maybe the “No Russian” level was more controversial. But not only does a nuclear detonation knock out all the power in DC (and who knows where else), but you get to see it happen from the space station! Visually it was presented fabulously and flawlessly, but it was something that’s often been something seen as a very possible and imminent threat, the consequences of which were usually presented in the abstract. In the middle of a last stand gunfight that’s sure to find you overrun, the saving grace is that the world goes completely dark. Holy $#!^.   read

6:58 PM on 11.08.2010

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 review

-by Logan Witt

After a bit of a delay, I was looking forward to a change in gaming from music games and FPS titles with a good old fashioned Dragon Ball fighter. I was actually not disappointed; my expectations weren't through the roof, but I wanted something solid. That's what I got, and as a fan, I was treated to some interesting choices.

Yes, that is Pikkon up there, and he joins an interesting cast for the newest outing. Obviously, no roster can compare with the monumental offering from Budokai Tenkaichi 3, but some of the extras tossed in among the standard fair makes things interesting. And I gotta say, the inclusion of Hatchiyack sent me into a bit of a fanboy tailspin. Androids 14 and 15 drop in for a surprise appearance, too, though I miss Eighter.

The options for customizing items and super attacks return virtually the same as in the previous foray, which I found to be solid enough. The music is the standard fair, generic, driving guitar riffs mixed with a few techno elements; nothing really different, but also not terrible. Characters have to be unlocked either through completing levels in either Battle Zone or Galaxy Mode, the latter of which is my only bone of contention here.

Battle Zone is really simple, a ladder system of four or five fights per stage that get increasingly difficult. Between each fight you're brought back to the menu to recustomize your character if you feel the need to, as it's one loss and you're back to the beginning. Battle Zone seems like an attempt at an arcade mode, and it does okay.

The online mode is standard fare, nothing grand, but the matchmaking runs really smooth, so that's a plus. There are different modes, one to allow item-usage, another not, one for friend matches, and a world tournament mode, the same as in single player, but with people (obviously).

But Galaxy Mode, well, it's different. It's a little tough for me to explain, but it's a fairly linear stage-based mode for each character, with a couple of branching pathways, but there are only very loose story elements in one or two of the dozen or so stages. It's an interesting set of scenarios, but it's not really a "story" mode, and no matter how many times it's been done and redone, it's still something I've come not only to expect, but also to enjoy. That's the only genuine "problem" I have with Raging Blast 2, and one I didn't see coming.

Raging Blast 2 is a solid title, for sure. However, the lack of a real story mode and only a slightly enhanced roster left me wanting for a bit. For anyone looking for a decent fighter, try it out. For any fans of Dragon Ball games, give it a shot. But this isn't going to change minds or win over any critics. I will say this, though, it was more fun to play than the first one; not sure why, since there was little difference, but I did seem to enjoy it more.

Score- 6.0/10.0   read

12:17 PM on 07.29.2009

Retro Rebound 5: Daffy Duck- The Marvin Missions

Oh the humanity! Oh the insanity! Oh the poultry!

Daffy Duck- The Marvin Missions was hands-down one of the hardest games I've ever played, but oh so worth it. From the company that produced such gems as Aero the Acro-Bat and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, Sunsoft really struck gold releasing virtually every Looney Tunes game of the 16-bit generation.

The gameplay progresses through very well designed worlds as Daffy's Duck Dodgers alter-ego chases his arch-nemesis Marvin the Martian throughout the galaxy in order to bring him down.

Hunting Marvin from the lava-covered resort planet, to a base that's been frozen solid, and back to Earth (while let's not forget the incredible shrinking duck on the forest world!) did at times seem to become stagnant, the ever faithful comic relief was always there to step in at the end of the level, along with the progress displayed in the form of quirky newspaper headlines to keep the light tone in place.

The weaponry was a bit of a mixed bag. Take the freezing gun, very cool idea and design, but not entirely useful as it did almost no actual damage. The anti-matter gun was probably the mos powerful of the straight-shot guns, but it was worth it to master the effect of gravity on the bomb launcher because the damage inflicted was immense. The jet pack was handy for slowing falls and short climbs, but the fuel ran out far too quickly, forcing the player to be prudent and sometimes downright stingy in its use. And then the special attack, aptly named the Nutty, during which Dodgers would indeed have a nutty and bounce around the screen, demolishing everything in sight, was something to be conserved until absolutely necessary.

The enemies were well tailored to each environment and also very different, not just clones with different models, which was a bit innovative for games around this time. Even the Martians encountered as regular enemies and the occasional minibosses were differently conceived and executed.

With cartoony art, cartoony humor, and straightforward cartoony gameplay, The Marvin Missions stands out because its the consummate Looney Tunes game and brings back those great old-time memories while still being an very enjoyable game.   read

12:21 PM on 07.24.2009

Retro Rebound 4: Super Mario RPG

Okay, now with some rookie blog mistakes out of the way, I retooled my thoughts on content and title and let's hope for the best.

One of the best images from my childhood. A Super Mario game; a Square game; mix the two and you get this masterpiece, this true classic.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was released in May of '96 here in the US, months earlier in Japan, but never officially released in Europe for the SNES- poor gamers had to wait until it was released on the Wii's virtual console, 'officially' of course. Mario RPG took iconic characters and locales, along with inventive new ones, and molded them into a marvelously written and executed story.

So, let's talk antagonist: Smithy. Smithy uses the factory located through the gate in Exor, the giant sword that pierced Star Road and Bowser's castle, in order to build his army and take over the world.

The skills acquired as an analog of "magic" were spectacularly tailor-made for each character, yet surprisingly my favorite was the Ultra Jump, not the consummate favorite Geno Whirl. My second favorite character had to be Bowser, simply because of the flawless execution of his egocentric, yet somewhat comically vulnerable personality. My favorite character touched on a cache of great memories and was actually a set of characters:

The Axem Rangers. Enough said.

Along with the classic Square sidequests, Mario RPG provided hours of fun and good childhood memories. And while Paper Mario may be considered the "spiritual sequel", we're long overdue for a Super Mario RPG 2 and I still believe somewhere down the road we will see one.   read

12:47 AM on 07.23.2009

Nostalgia Lane @ 1st Avenue

As promised, the next few blocks will cover some SNES golden titles, and perhaps some not quite as fondly remembered, or even remembered much at all.

But first, let us begin with a genuine classic and perhaps my favorite game over all time- Mega Man X.

Let us set the stage: the year was 1993; produced by Tokuro Fujiwara, Keji Inafune's newest creation was set to carry the original Mega Man games, in a newer fashion, into the realm of 16-bit gaming, and it did so with a bang. While later ported onto IBM PCs and remade as Maverick Hunter X on PSP, the allure of the original cartridge is a gateway back to simpler times and simpler, yet not uncomplicated, games.

The brief intro given pre-title and in the instruction manual clarify that X is not the original Mega Man, but a different model entirely, only slightly based on the original and with the capacity for so much more. Starting simple, the gameplay seems a touch slow at first, with X's run not carrying more speed than a brisk jog, yet the dash capsule virtually forced upon you in the stage ideally conquered first eliminates that. The gameplay format was still much the same as the original series, a selection of bosses to choose from, each with the inherent weakness of another particular bosses' weapon, and a final base, with the eternally symbolic repeat battles with all previously vanquished bosses.

Mega Man X introduced a new villain to replace Dr. Wily, the evil maverick Sigma (pre-virus form discovery), whose goal was to wage a successful war against all humans. The game also introduced the concept of Maverick Hunters and the leader of the team, Zero: the pure embodiment of awesome, and the inspiration for my own current hairstyle.

The soundtrack was astounding, forming the tone of the series' score for sequels to come. And for what small glitches may occasionally occur, whatever trivial qualms one may point out about gameplay or style or other slight story inconsistencies, Mega Man X will forever be the crown jewel of my Super Nintendo collection and one of the rare games I could sit and play for days on end without ever getting bored.

Well then, up ahead I think I see another shining stop of well-known, amazing Super Nintendo quality, so hang on tight...   read

10:29 PM on 07.17.2009

Nostalgia Lane @ 2nd St.

It came before Web of Shadows; it came before Ultimate Spider-Man; it came before the PlayStation version of Spider-Man; it came before Separation Anxiety; it was The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin.

Released in 1990, the Master System version was one of the last M.S. games sold in America, while the Genesis version of Spider-Man, released in '91, was one of the best-selling Genesis games and renewed Marvel Comic's faith in licensing video games (though later games such as Friend or Foe might have made them rethink that).

Spider-Man had, for the most part, a very straightforward premise: reach the end, defeat the boss, rinse, repeat. But the need for more web fluid on harder difficulties necessitated the use of taking pictures of the bosses and sub-bosses to sell back to the Daily Bugle to refill the gauge. At the end of the game, all of the bosses band together one last time to keep Spidey from disarming the Kingpin's bomb using the keys rewarded for defeating the aforementioned bosses. The final level culminated in one of the most frustrating boss fights I've ever encountered, requiring punches spot-on to the Kingpin's face in order to do damage (majorly precise timing), all while MJ hangs over a foreboding acid pit.

But one other thing about Spider-Man was the difficulty. Even on Normal (since the end could not be reached on Easy), Spider-Man was tremendously challenging, and Hard was grueling. But nothing could top the Nightmare setting. Ho-ly cow. Not only were the enemies and bosses tougher and more offensive, but one last cruel obstacle was thrown in front of you right before reaching the boss...


While Venom's attack pattern was simple enough to understand, he was often times a wearing and costly waste of webbing and health, and a complete nuisance when thrown into the mix during the gathering at the end.

The gameplay, looking back, was tremendously balanced, even with the web-slinging being fairly physically accurate for its scale. The graphics were fantastic for its time, and the storyline cut-scenes between levels, mainly featuring Spidey talking to the recently vanquished foe and then himself, fit the overall theme of alienation and betrayal nicely.

A must have for Genesis owners, Spider-Man was the first Genesis game I ever played and still continues to be a shining classic, and an example of a simple, yet truly phenomenal superhero game, and as fantastic for the Genesis as the next Spider-Man titled game for PlayStation/PC/N64/Dreamcast, if not more so.

This bend in the road looks like it's going to take us through the Super Nintendo part of the city, and with that kind of library who knows what we can dig up for the next time...   read

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