It seems that when people aren't slinging crap on the new PS3 game, they're talking about who they want or think will be in it. It's kinda getting out of hand, honestly - I've seen completely random wish-lists, as well as posts along the lines of "LOL, Sony has no characters" all over forums, blogs and facebooks for the past couple of days. While it's fun to make our own little wishlists, the fact is it doesn't get us any closer to what this game might actually look like.
Granted, there are certainly more important things than the roster, but I don't think the average citizen is going to get hype at the fact that diehard fighting game players like MAJ and Ed Ma are behind the wheel, or that the developers are actually trying to make a competitively viable game rather than put in features just to spite the competitive community like certain other developers. So let's talk about some vidja game characters!
First off, if you really want a look at how the roster might end up, I'd recommend you look at this commercial. According to early stories on the game, this commercial was apparently the inspiration for this game (well, that and a certain Nintendo game).
The commercial also took a lot of negotiations to make. Sony even let us know that some of the publishers were 100% on board with the idea, while other publishers required a lot of push to get them on board. While they don't let us know which publishers were on board from the get-go, I imagine they're going to be the very first publishers they go to for third-party character opportunities.
After all, Sony can't just cherry pick characters from whatever games they please - you gotta take a rational approach to PS All-Star's roster. It would only make sense that in a game like this, they'd want to limit the amount of hands that go into the cookie jar. Less companies involved mean less money spent on licensing and legal BS, which means more profit.
This image was released just a short time before the first official released footage of the game came out. Perhaps it was just a fake. Regardless, I'd say it's a pretty good prediction of who will be in. All first party characters, some of the more obscure ones like Nariko were even hinted at with early photos.
Also, contrary to popular belief, Sony actually owns a lot of gaming properties. Let's be real - Uncharted, InFamous, Jak & Daxter, and Ratchet & Clank will be represented in this game. There's practically no way they won't be. I'd also place bets on Ape Escape, MediEvil, Resistance, Heavenly Sword, Legend of Dragoon (which actually received a digital re-release THIS VERY DAY) and Gravity Daze (yet to be released outside Japan, but already receiving lavish praise) being represented to some degree.
Also place some bets on Toro - in Japan, Toro is Sony, and considering he's starting to find popularity outside Japan thanks to Street Fighter X Tekken, I'd say it's a no brainer - especially since they get him to appear in everything. Speaking of Japan, Wild Arms is another Sony property that has remained popular in Japan despite inactivity, so I wouldn't count it out either.
So, what third-party characters are likely going to be in? Well, characters are going to be cheaper by the dozen, so I'd count on them going with characters relevant to the PlayStation brand who are owned by companies who own a lot of OTHER characters relevant to the PlayStation brand.
Which is why I believe Sony's first choice is going to be Square Enix. For those that don't know, Square Enix would basically be killing multiple birds with one stone. Not only does it cover games that were published by Square and Enix, but also games that were published by Eidos and Taito.
The Final Fantasy series has remained exclusive to PlayStation starting from Final Fantasy VII up until Final Fantasy XIII - unless you count PC releases. Final Fantasy VII in particular was considered the game that sold people on the PlayStation, as well as the RPG genre on consoles. Cloud Strife is just a character who instantly became associated with the PlayStation brand. Aside from Final Fantasy, Square made many other classic titles on the PlayStation, such as Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi,Vagrant Story and Parasite Eve.
Eidos was also no slouch when it came to making PlayStation icons. Tomb Raider's Lara Croft was PlayStation's first sex symbol. It was actually rather common place for Lara to appear in PlayStation adverts, even though she was also appearing on the Saturn and PC at the time. Aside from her, Eidos also brought with it the Legacy of Kain and Fear Effect series, which helped set the tone for the PlayStation console's more mature themed games. Outside of PlayStation icons, they also had the Hitman, Deus Ex and TimeSplitters series.
Konami is an obvious choice for this game, not the least of which is due to Metal Gear. The impact that the Metal Gear Solid series has had on the PlayStation brand should go without saying - while all the MGS entries have somehow found their way onto other systems with the exception of MGS4, they made their biggest impact on Sony systems. I would honestly put Metal Gear Solid right alongside Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank as being a "No Brainer".
Aside from Metal Gear, though, Konami also has Silent Hill and Castlevania - both of which, while not exclusive to PlayStation, made a huge impact on the PlayStation brand. Silent Hill started with the PlayStation, and while Castlevania started long before PS, Symphony of the Night is still considered one of the series' best entries. Also keep in mind that Konami bought Hudson, which means Bomberman, Bonk and Adventure Island would be possibilities if Sony gets Konami on board.
Finally, Activision. For two obvious reasons: Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. It still boggles my mind that Sony allowed these characters to go to Activision in the first place, but I guess they were just young and naive. I guess I should be glad, otherwise we might not have ever seen Jak and Ratchet take their place.
In any case, if Crash and Spyro don't make it in, we'll all be left scratching our heads. They were Sony's first and second big mascot characters, so it only makes sense. Aside from them, though, Activision is a bit low on characters that they actually own that played a big part for the PlayStation. It's not like they can just put Tony Hawk, James Bond or Spider-Man in a game without causing all sorts of problems. They have Guitar Hero, but they have 'retired' the property. However, I'd think we could end up seeing a Call of Duty character (Either Ghost or Price seem the most reasonable) as well as a Prototype character so we can finally settle once and for all whether Alex (or James) would win in a fight with Cole MacGrath.
So, there you have it. My most educated guesses at who will be in this game. If this was a wish-list, I certainly would have included Jade from Beyond Good & Evil as well as Raz from Psychonauts, but this isn't about what I want, it's about what is feasible - what's realistic. I could see other companies getting involved as well, such as Capcom (Resident Evil and Devil May Cry), Ubisoft (they seem to love putting Altair and/or Ezio anywhere they can) and others, but I just don't see more than a few companies getting involved due to legal and financial issues.
Until then, I'll be looking forward to what this game becomes.
So yeah, SCV has been out for almost a week now. It has seen mostly favorable praise from critics and top players of the SC circuit. All would seem right about this game.
However, there has been a growing number of folks who just don't get it. Their voices have been growing louder and more numerous by the day, so I think it's time I raised my voice and said, "You're all wrong. So very, very wrong."
So, what are people getting their panties in a bunch over? Soul Calibur V's single-player content, or the lack thereof. I've been hearing from many folks that they should 'save their money' because of the lack of single-player content, or that 'It's fun, until the multiplayer community dies in 3 months. Then you've got nothing.'
This. This is what you all look like right now.
These statements hurt me the most, because it shows just how the gaming community is as filled with drooling idiots as it ever was, and that means I'm going to be associated with the rest of you juveniles just by being part of it.
The story mode is there. It's better than the story mode in SCIV, that's for damn sure. Could it have been done better? Oh, hell yeah (I personally would have wanted some optional path branches as well as being able to select appropiate characters before battle - like, after Patroklos recruited Maxi, Xiba and Leixia, I think you should have been able to use them in his episodes, or be able to use Viola and Siegfried in ZWEI's episodes, or Tira in Pyrra's episodes), but it's still better than what we got with SCIV. It's not very often that you get a centralized, focused story in a fighting game - usually the story is all over the damned place because it tries to tell how 30+ characters managed to all defeat the final boss and everybody else along the way.
I'd rather have Jim cut off my balls with a wooden Lancer than see this screen again.
I'll also take Quick Match over SCIV's god damned Challenge Tower any day of the week. I hated that Challenge Tower. It required exploiting of the clothing buff system just to get anywhere respectable with it, and I ended up dropping it like a rock.
Compared to SCIV, this game is superior in almost every way. Not only was SCIV's single-player content lackluster, it's multiplayer was atrocious. Absolutely terrible, some of the worst netcode I've ever dealt with. Meanwhile, I've played people in Japan, Europe and who knows where else on SCV's online and it felt like I was playing them right in my damn room.
Fighting this guy seemed cool, until you found out that the game would pause every 2 seconds to re-establish the connection.
Ya see, this is the thing: fighting games are COMPETITIVE GAMES. That is THEIR WHOLE REASON FOR EXISTING. And SO MANY have phoned in their netcode, making the online experience TOTALLY UNPLAYABLE.
Is it good to get strong single-player content? Yes. (I out and out loved SCIII's Chronicle of the Sword mode) At the expense of the multiplayer? NO. (Chronicle of the Sword was the only good thing about SCIII.) There are TONS of other genres out there that are built on providing single-player content - just as you won't want their single-player content to suffer because they phoned in some multiplayer (Bioshock 2, anyone?), the same should not be done to fighters. Multiplayer in a fighter IS ESSENTIAL. ESSENTIAL. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST.
Remember this game? Yeah, me neither.
I also always find it a bit ironic when people say that a fighting game without single-player content won't last long. Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Capcom vs SNK 2, Soul Calibur II, Tekken Tag Tournament, King of Fighters '98, King of Fighters '02 - do you think any of these games lasted long because of their single-player content? Hell, most of those games didn't even have a story to speak of. If the focus is on single-player content, the game will last exactly as long as the single-player content. So, at best, two weeks, because if it takes longer than two weeks for you to do everything that exists in the single-player of a fighter, I feel bad for ya, son.
I know I'm not the only fighting game fan out there who craves a new Guilty Gear. Considering Darkstalkers has been relegated to doing nothing more than crossover appearances and compilation re-releases (feel free to prove me wrong on that, Capcom), Guilty Gear is pretty much the next best thing. Unfortunately, the property has been in licensing limbo for some time, thanks to Sammy owning the IP and the whole Sega/Sammy Holding merger.
Well, things just got a little less confusing. Arc System Works just filed a trademark for Guilty Gear - which means Sega/Sammy is no longer an issue. This is good news for a lot of us Guilty Gear fans, especially since this means Daisuke Ishiwatari's promises of a new Guilty Gear to come 'eventually' now has one less blockade in front of it.
I certainly look forward to the next true Guilty Gear sequel. Considering the naming convention has been Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear X and Guilty Gear XX - one can only assume that the next game will be hawt.
Wow - I really thought that 'Little Ralph' would be the hardest game for me to find solid pictures for. Sadly, the only images relating to Dark Awake (or Chaos Breaker, as it was named in arcades) that were greater than 200 pixels wide were from fan-made hentai doujins. Again, wow.
Anyway, Dark Awake: The King Has No Name - which I imagine sounds cooler to those who don't understand English - is a 2004 arcade fighter by Eolith that was finally brought to consoles by way of Recom's PSN port. Eolith, for those who remember, made King of Fighters 2001 and 2002 back when SNK went bankrupt. While I can't deny that KOF2001 and 2002 were by far my least favorite KOF entries, I also couldn't deny that 2002 was a significant improvement over 2001, and that gave me significant hope for Dark Awake.
At first glace, Dark Awake is the result of a one-night stand between D&D and KOF. While the game is obviously visually inspired by the fantasy worlds of Tolkien and E Howard, the game has the 3-on-3 survival, strikers and general feel of the King of Fighters series. The character selection is also arranged similarly to King of Fighters, with teams of three organized by various races: Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Dark Elves, Monsters and Undead, for a total of 18 playable characters.
Rather than two punches and two kicks, the four button set-up consists of a weak (A), medium (B) and heavy (C) attack, plus a variable (D) attack which differs for each character, although for most it takes the form of a standing overhead to counter those ducking turtlers. Special move motions tend to be very simple to pull off, rarely requiring you to look at a move list - although a few of the Super attacks have ridiculous inputs.
The characters are also all fairly distinct from each other, with many feeling fairly new to fighting games altogether. There are a couple of characters who are riding mounted beasts, and these characters have movements which are very different from the average fighter - jumping in particular being very different. Another character I found interesting was the Dwarf gunner Vargan, who must keep his gun loaded in order to fire.
An interesting subversion to the KOF style is the ability to select items. Each team must consist of at least one character and one item, with the remaining two slots free to choose either an item or character. There are 32 items, each being fairly unique. One heals you on use, another raises your mana, some are passive and increase stats for specific characters, and at least one even revives a character upon their death. Selecting the right item for your team can make a serious difference on the battle field.
The gameplay is fairly solid, of what I've played. I never got to play this online, but I played a good bit with some friends and we all enjoyed it. Single-player was also rather enjoyable, as the attempt to beat the game well enough to face off against 'The King With No Name' with different teams is a good challenge without being unfair. I've heard talk of certain characters having infinite combos, but unless you plan to play this at high levels, I think that's a bit of a non-issue.
Graphically, the look is good, so long as you are alright with it using older hardware. Yes, the game has some noticeable pixels. No, the game does not have a widescreen option because the original arcade hardware did not support this. If you can get past this, though, you'll find the game is actually pretty smoothly animated and the graphics are great in the context of its time and limitations.
Sound-wise, the music was fairly average. It wasn't bad enough to leave a bad impression, but it didn't leave a good impression either. Sound effects were decent as well, nothing really standing out - although the 'confirm' sound was a bit too high pitched. The vocal are great ... if you can appreciate hilariously bad Engrish. I can, but maybe you take things a little bit more seriously than I do.
One problem I did have with the game - aside from my inability to find matches online - was that there is no local versus mode. Obviously, you can still play against another person on the same console, but you have to do it through Arcade and have your opponent join in later. Much like an actual arcade, the winner will be stuck using the same team he won with, which makes playing around with the cast of characters a chore at times.
Currently, the game is being offered on the Japanese PlayStation Network for 1000 Yen, down from its original price of 2000. As far as is known, there are no plans to bring this game stateside or to other platforms. I'd recommend signing up for a Japanese PSN account (it's not that hard, trust me!) and using a JP PSN card to add Yen to the account, as this seems to be the only way to play.
RetroGrade: B. If you are a fighting game fan who wants something off-beat for the PS3, I'd recommend you pick this up. It may not be a technical marvel, but it is a load of fun to play with friends - and I think that's the most important thing for a fighter to be.
Platformers are a pillar of video games - I mean, where would gaming be today without Super Mario Bros? Yet, by the time the PlayStation came to town, everyone (especially Sony of America) thought them outdated. As a result, we missed out on more than a few gems - including The Adventures of Little Ralph.
Digging up information on The Adventures of Little Ralph has proven to be a big challenge. It's made by New Corporation, a group I've never heard of who happens to be equally elusive (and I'm pretty sure defunct on top of that). I believe it was made in 1999, at least according to the title screen.
But hey - who cares about the boring factoids. What Adventures of Little Ralph is, is a platformer that really brings on the old school flavor. Any fan of, say, the 16-bit Disney titles or Donkey Kong Country will have a lot to enjoy here. While there is no backtracking, the amount of exploration involved (and swordplay) reminded me more than once of a Castlevania.
Don't be fooled - the game only looks easy.
The game starts with the heroic Ralph facing down a hoard of invading demons. While he fights most off easily, a group of much badder dudes show up and turn Ralph into a kid: thus, Little Ralph. It's at this point that a woman (I'm not sure how she relates to Ralph exactly) protects Ralph, but she is also overpowered. Rather than finish Ralph off, they capture the woman and take off. So, naturally, Little Ralph is off on his big adventure.
Just two buttons - jump and attack. Holding attack will have you wind your sword back, and releasing it will have you swing your sword like a baseball bat. This is important, as it will allow you to send both smaller enemies and dangerous projectiles flying away from you - hitting any enemies in your path. Much like Mario kicking Koopa shells back at enemies, each successive enemy defeated by a deflected shot/enemy is rewarded with a score multiplier.
Also with relation to points will be fruit that you'll find. As you progress, fruit will oftentimes appear for a short time before disappearing. Much like enemies, each successive piece of fruit you pick up will earn you double the amount of points the previous gave you - however, this multiplier goes away when there are no longer any active pieces of fruit in play, meaning to maximize your points, you'll need to collect quickly while also strategically omitting at least one to keep the multiplier active. You'll need to keep your score in mind, as reaching certain milestones will reward you with extra lives ... and oh boy, will you need them. You can also earn lives by collecting certain amounts of hearts - these will appear with every 8th piece of fruit.
"Walls of text require massive pictures to not lose readers" - Journalism 101.
I explain all of this because, while Little Ralph may seem like a fairly typical platformer on the surface, it really is a much deeper experience underneath - and because of this, far more rewarding than most platformers than I've played. Whether it's bringing down an intimidating foe lightning fast with your mastery of the combat system, or pulling off the perfect way to collect fruit and the maximum amount of points they can bring, it just feels so good to do this stuff right.
Of course, it wouldn't feel so good if the game weren't incredibly difficult. You'll be thankful this game has limitless continues, as you'll likely use every single on of them. The difficulty gets damn unreasonable by the time you get to the final chapter and have to undergo a series of trials - I'd estimate I died about fifty times on this area alone, and that's likely a conservative estimate.
I can only imagine this guy is using save-states. Seriously, hardest thing I've ever done.
If you play it on easy, though, you are spared the last three chapters. You don't get the real ending, but that's what you deserve, pansy. (In all seriousness, master the game on easy before stepping up to the plate, unless you enjoy rage mixed with tears.)
Difficulty aside, this game is a masterpiece. The graphics are gorgeous, with well-animated characters, colorful environments, and tons of little touches like tiny birds flying away as you approach them and rats scurrying across the floors of the sewer. The music is great as well - I still find myself humming the music that precedes almost every boss encounter. Sound effects are classic, and really reminded me of the charm inherent in those 'outdated' 16-bit classics.
Another interesting thing about this game is that, during many of the boss fights in the latter half, the game turns into a one-on-one 2D fighter with nice, big sprites. Suddenly, your jump button is replaced with a secondary attack, up turns into your jump and back becomes a block, and familiar fighting game motions like the Hadoken and Shoryuken result in similar actions from the not-so-little Ralph.
You can see the fighting game bit at the end of this. Too bad the AI isn't very adaptable...
While some might disagree, I loved this. It may not have been the best 2D fighter (far from it, in fact), but it was a nice change of pace. I mean, hey, if you can't think of an interesting platformer-sort-of-way to do a boss fight, this is a great idea. Even better, bosses you defeat in this fashion are then unlocked for play in a 2-player versus mode. I never got to test out this versus mode with another player, and I doubt it would have been too fun, but it's an interesting addition none the less. Certainly nothing that I anticipated when I got the game.
If you are looking for a physical copy of this game, you better be prepared to throw down some bones. Best price I've seen is around $70, but some have the audacity to charge $150-200. Luckily for the rest of us, you can find this game on the Japanese PlayStation Network Store for 600 Yen - a much more reasonable price, and really, you have no excuse not to get it at that price.
RetroGrade: A. If you have fond memories of playing Super Mario Bros., Wonder Boy, Castlevania - or hell, any platformer - you need to pick this game up. Make that Japanese PSN account, get a network card (3000 Yen gets you 5 PS1 Classics... hint hint...), and download this to your PSP or PS3 immediately. You can thank me later.
Didn't know whether I should share this or not, considering... ya know... it's just a link an' all. Still, I very rarely see an eBay listing with some humor thrown into it. You might get a chuckle out of it.