Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sonic Adventure comes to XBLA and PSN

Even if the speedy blue hedgehog is long past his glory days and quickly headed to an early grave after mediocre releases, I still have faith in one of gaming's legendary icons. With Sonic the Hedgehog 4 on the horizon, it would seem Sega has opted to rekindle the flame fans once had for its company mascot by re-releasing Sonic's first true outing in the third dimension (Sonic 3D Blast doesn't count) on Xbox Arcade and the PlayStation Network. I have followed the blue blur for his entire career through the good and bad times and remain a faithful fanboy. Sonic Adventure's return prompted me to play through other not so successful 3D Sonic games like Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 and Sonic Unleashed. I can't say that the time was entirely enjoyable with the often convoluted story and broken camera controls that resulted in several broken controllers in the past. Somewhere along the line, Sonic Team forgot what made the hedgehog such a hit with gamers. Maybe Sonic 4 will bring back what so many of us have missed with recent Sonic titles and had a brief glimpse of in the day stages of Sonic Unleashed. Please enjoy my simple Sonic Adventure tribute sketch in honor of the last exceptional Sonic game from the early days of the Dreamcast. Sonic boom!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Disney's Guilty Party is a guilty pleasure

Disney is one of those companies you can't be too sure about in terms of gaming entertainment. Most of its material is obviously PG and rarely strikes any chord with the more radical gaming community. Fortunately, Disney's Guilty Party for the Wii is a nice mix of child-friendly cartoon fun and challenging gameplay. The members of the Dickens Detective Agency, who are all of Pixar quality design, are attempting to solve various cases while pursuing the criminal Valentine. The game offers the usual good natured humor of a Disney production while allowing older gamers to test their wits as they gather clues in order to find the culprit behind each mystery. Of course, you can't talk about Disney without making some sort of refference to the late Walt Disney's supposed issue with the Jewish community. Family Guy is probably one of the more notorious shows out there to have blatantly made fun of the cartoon tycoon's "hate" of Jews. It only felt natural to me to create my own parody in this comic which I apologise for rendering so late in the week. I'm gathering together my finances so I can invest in an electronic drawing pad so the entire process of creating these pieces will be easier and finished in even better quality. I'm still learning the Photoshop program's little tricks. I'll have the next strip up late next week likely to feature the PlayStation Wii remote...er, I mean Move motion controller. Later, gamers!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blade Kitten- "At A Glance"

Atari and Krome Studios have released the first episode of Blade Kitten for download on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The game follows the bounty hunter Kit Ballard, a cat girl tracking a target on a distant planet when she suddenly becomes entangled a bigger scheme. The game is basically a side-scrolling platformer. The anime characters are cell-shaded and animate fluidly. The voice cast is satisfactory as well, but this is all beyond the point of this glance. The game is actually a fun play with only a few minor issues. The controls are simple to learn but difficult to master. This is made more infuriating by the sensitivity of the joystick causing Kit to make less that perfect landings when jumping between small platforms or attempting a quick stop after sprinting. The combat is very mild with a few attack options apart from regular swings from Kit's floating blade. You can regenerate health by simply avoiding attacks which can make the game simple but more caution will likely be needed in later levels. The emphasis of Blade Kitten is more on exploration and collecting than anything else. Most of the demo level involved looking around the level map for money and chests to open. This was made both easy and fun by Kit's ability to climb up walls and move along ceilings, just like a cat does I suppose. I can't say too much against or in favor of this game until I can get through the first episode. Check out the demo for yourselves and see if Blade Kitten is up your alley. Later, gamers!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Devil May Cry fowl with fans

One of the trailers featured at the Tokyo Game Show was the teaser for Capcom's latest in the Devil May Cry series. The fifth installment, and dubded simply as "DMC" in the teaser, looks to follow a young Dante at the start of his fight against the demons of hell. How do I know this? Well, honestly I don't. It's a guess like any other person out there but I readily admit I'm only speculating. The character wears the same red jacket Dante is known for as well as calling himself by the same name as the son of Sparda but looks slightly off from the usual design. Hell, it could be some random new guy that has been brainwashed into thinking he is Dante as part of some experiment to recreate him or something (that actually sounds pretty sweet). Fans of the series are evidently up in arms over the new conception of their idol and will likely lead the developers to alter Dante back to a more suitable character model to stop the whining. I felt my heart sink reading some of the comments from gamers who seemed to give up on the franchise because of a two minute teaser of a game still underway. It was the same heartache I felt when Cole was changed back to his stupid bald and emotionless design from the original Infamous to appease the fan base for the unpopular design changes he'd undergone for part two. For the record, I thought his look was awesome and a suitable change given the new environment and challenge he was to face. These are the darker days of entertainment when fans can rule the world of gaming by dictating what goes in or out of a game. Just my thoughts. Later, gamers!

Classic Space Invaders returns with a modern zest

Square Enix of all people has decided to take an old piece of gaming history and bring it into the modern era with a major twist. Space Invaders Infinity Gene was recently added to the gaming networks for download at a nice $10 price tag. The game is to feature 143 stages as well as a challenge mode where levels change with each playthrough (supposedly). I sat down in the late evening hours to try my hand with the trial version. It started mildly enough in the same classic Space Invaders style with a little pixel ship against rows of block aliens. Then the screen flashed and text introduced me to the new imagination of the game that consumed a decade. I know my jaw was on the floor because I still have the scuff marks from the carpet. I could move the ship around the screen area for precise controls and even select the kind of laser I wanted like homing or waves. That was all well and good, but then the swarms came in force. The barrage of pixelated fire was at times difficult to contrast from the flowing tron-like techno environment but I didn't care. I was saying "Holy *hit," too much anyway. At one point, the camera moved behind the ship allowing me to fly in Star Fox 64 fashion before taking on a boss. A boss in freakin' Space Invaders! If you are looking for some nostalgic heaven, I'd suggest giving this game the benefit of the doubt. If not downloading it immediately, the trial should convince most people enough to add it their library as it did me. Later, gamers!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lara Croft returns to raid our hearts...and pants

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light may have been released several weeks ago during the end of the Xbox Summer of Arcade, but the voluptuous raider is coming back with online co-op play for the Xbox, PlayStation and PC systems. Between the growing list of popular arcade classics on Xbox Arcade like Shadow Complex, Limbo and Castle Crashers (Now available on PSN by the way), it's great to see the online gaming market creating such a sales boost in both memberships and store points. The move will happen around the 28th of September allowing us all to finally experience this subtle but grand adventure game with distant friends. The only issue to arise here may be who gets to be the one with the boobs. Let's face it, Lara Croft was designed to be eye candy for men though she has quickly become an icon for women around the globe. Men admire the rack while ladies admire the strength. So why couldn't something like this be used as a gameplay mechanic or something, huh? Just a thought. Later, gamers!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vanquish- "At A Glance"

Sega and Platinum Games is due to release its fast-paced sci-fi shooter Vanquish on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 next month. The game is headed by Shinji Mikami who is better known for his work with the Resident Evil, Devil May Cry and Bayonetta series. A good thing because I cringed when I first saw Sega of America's brand on the game. The company has not had a great track record in recent years after nearly killing its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog and various Marvel movie based games. The demo is now available and thankfully rendered all my previous fears null and void. The story revolves around the lead character Sam, grumbly voice and all just like we now have to accept for all male heroes in games these days, as part of a US faction fighting Russia for control of the world's fast-depleting energy sources. Sam is outfitted with a high-tech battle suit that allows him to quickly dash between covers, along the battlefield, or slow down time for dead-eye targeting of enemy units. The demo starts off in the midst of a long metal corridor during the game's first act. Sam maneuvers quite smoothly though the control configuration takes time to get used to. Again like in Quantum Theory, firing is handled by one trigger while reloading is done with the other and the only configuration change you can make is whether you use the bumpers or trigger buttons to do this. I miss the old set-up of reloading with the square of X button, but that is just me. Dashing is controlled by the other trigger/bumper pending on your weapon setup so that also takes time to get acquainted with. Still it is pretty freakin' sweet to hit the dash button while standing still to make Sam take a smoke break in the heat of battle. The action starts fast and furious with swarms of Russian enemy units attacking you and your fellow squad members. If teammates fall in battle, you have the ability to revive them but they do little to help you win matches as far as I can see in the brief demo. The greatest thing about the battle suit Sam wears is the "AR mode." If you are low on health, time slows automatically to allow you the chance to get your ass to cover and away from danger. Once the bots are killed, you fight a boss, a crawler mech that transforms after the first round into a walker drone. The game is easy enough to figure out what to do next but at times the quick-time fight moments for big hits to enemies are frustrating. The boss battle has the chance to do one or more of these though I only experienced one thus far. The prompt was to twist the joystick in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion though it makes no distinction which stick is which so you will likely miss the first two attempts to figure out the right answer. Despite these few flaws, Vanquish is looking like a great buy for gamers and a beautiful game to boot though I constantly get the vibe I'm playing something like P.N.03 but...good. Later, gamers!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Quantum Theory- "At A Glance"

The demo for Tecmo's new multiplatform release Quantum Theory is now up for download and here it is "At A Glance." The story isn't really all that clear even from the demo. Apparently, two factions are fighting due to a living tower becoming active by some diablos-somethin' force. A member of each faction, a burly dude and slender chic, enters the tower but must combine forces to make their way up to the top while fighting the demonic creatures. The game plays like a direct clone of Gears of War or any other cover-based shooter out there. The thing that sets QT apart is it's partner system. You can literally throw the girl at enemies for powerful strikes or sync awesome combos for maximum damage. The demo showcases a single long corridor of the tower where cover can grow and change due to the tower being alive so strategic movement is crucial. The session ends with a boss battle that is made harder than need be by the destructable cover and less-than-high health your burly soldier can muster. Thus far, it is hard to give the game proper kudos for the few things it has going for it but at the end of the day, QT is just Gears without the detail or quality experience. For whatever reason, you fire with one trigger and reload with the other. It just feels awkward with the rest of the control setup in which cover is easily entered and exited with a single button. The one thing I can't forgive, the unchangeable controls and annoying mechanics aside, is the voice of the main hero. Did Christian Bale's grumbly Batman set the standard for all male heroes to have the save deep and raspy voice with no emotion or tonal variance? Maybe it is just me. I'll be taking a look at SEGA of America's Vanquish later this week as well so look for the next post soon. Later, gamers!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lair of the Shadow Broker

The newest Mass Effect 2 DLC was finally released yesterday and oh how it was worth the 800 points. Lair of the Shadow Broker is a heavy piece of action and fan service. It is likely one of the hardest missions to undertake as well. On the plus side, not only are you able to further your romantic relationship with Liara (if you were faithful and selected her at least), but you can cruise around Illium in a cab chase while dodging traffic. It is hard for me to get more in depth with anything on this package without fear of revealing too much for those who haven't tangled with it yet. Add-on content is a beautiful thing which allows players the chance to revisit their games with new material and an expanded story, but more importantly, it is a means to which developers can test out new concepts and ideas that may be featured in greater detail in later games. If you can help it at all, don't read the achievements for this DLC and just play the mission through. The extra gamer points are easy enough to secure and basically involve completing the mission and accessing terminals on the level map. It takes about two hours or so including the dialogue sequences so be prepared for a nice time back out in space with the Normandy gang. Later, gamers!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Xbox achievements and PlayStation trophies

It's hours into early Saturday morning, but it has finally happened. After almost a week, I've earned my second platinum trophy on my PS3 account and I feel sort of...well, dirty. The same scenario has likely happened to most of us: we find ourselves scrolling through the list of possible achievements for the games we own all the while thinking, "Yeah, I can do that one." I only recently became an "achievement/trophy whore," and haven't really looked back since. Extra achievements in games are a necessary evil. The challenges the electronic trophies present not only ad to the playability and longevity of each game, but they grant the personal satisfaction of beating impossible odds after several hours of trial and error. I made this strip to parody my growing addiction to both 360 achievements and PS3 trophies. Every time I get a new reward for head shots or treasure hunting, I get all giddy and almost want to call up friends to tell them about my new 30 points toward my gamer score. This is dedicated to all my friends who caught the fever long before I did and were kind enough to pass it on. This Labor Day, enjoy a labor of love with your favorite game. Come back to GameOver at the end of the week to see the next new strip featuring Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Later, gamers!