[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

May 16th, 2011

I wanted to write about this a month ago, but I didn’t really know if other people felt the same about the game. Anyway let’s begin since I have time and haven’t really written anything interesting about gaming for awhile… Here is a video of Jill DLC for reference to what the game looks like.

So Marvel Vs. Capcom 3… I played it a month or two ago shortly after it was released. I also saw it at Tokyo Game Show 2010… My first impression then and my impression now is unchanged, game does look absolutely beautiful and well styled in terms of graphics or aesthetics. Now that’s not how we are supposed to judge games, but Capcom really did do a good job in that department…

Coming from a background of playing a few of the older and original Vs. series from Capcom and even the SNK ones I have had quite a good sample of the games and know what it is all about. Sure each one had it’s faults or bugs but that isn’t what we should be complaining about, since good players will always figure out loop holes and bugged combos in these games. With that aside what are these games about? I’ve always felt the game seemed to be all about outrageous super combos and character combinations that you have always dreamed of in a fighting game.

When it comes to outrageous super combos, Gouki/Akuma is not short of them of course… Well in MvC3 the problem doesn’t lie in the amount of outrageous super combos we have in our arsenal to use, but actually it’s the character combinations… MvC3 has too few characters to be offering 3 on 3 teams, it isn’t long before you start repeating combinations or using characters you have no interest in for the sake of achievements or trophies.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying that 3 on 3 teams is bad… but in the current case it is where it lets MvC3 down. Let’s rewind a little and see why… before MvC3 there was Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom which offered 2 on 2 instead of 3 on 3, this may have been more of an issue with the Wii not being able to handle it but that’s probably not the case. TvC also had a different system that is probably closer to the SNK Vs. Capcom style where some characters can have their vitality split with other characters taking up one or two slots or even all slots. Of course the SNK Vs. Capcom style was more of a KO rotation system instead of a tag team system that Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom and Marvel Vs. Capcom series uses.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 however had 3 on 3 yet it wasn’t a problem right? That’s because the roster for MvC2 is so big that if they didn’t have 3 on 3 you’d never get through all the characters anyway. This also definitely played a part in making MvC2 a great classic and also a great game in the series… I remember unlocking characters in MvC2 was such a chore and the closer you are the finishing the roster the harder it was to gain points to unlock the characters, so you would unlock all the characters you like first and then finish off the rest when you eventually got around to it. However playing MvC3, well there is so little characters you unlock them without even trying and also the idea that the rest of the characters or future characters maybe DLC only really does kill the game.

If they were going to limit the number of characters we will be able to play as then they should have limited the size of the teams as well. Even with the possibility of more characters in the future, the fact that it is DLC means that you’re going to have to pay up if you ever wanted the complete the roster. As a game with a main selling point which is about random characters and probably fan service [Remixed Jazz Track was a nice touch though.] rather than a fighting game, selling your characters separately really does let down the game… on top of that the DLC characters currently offered aren’t completely new characters to the series but old characters that existed in previous versions of the game. Jill of course is a variation but she is still a character that appeared in the previous games.

Capcom maybe getting way ahead of them selves trying to milk their customers, but maybe try not to ruin the games in the process if parts you are are trying to milk with is a vital aspect that makes the games unique. Another strange approach is that they are trying to sell CPU AI teams as a challenge or some kind of DLC… What? Is there something I’m missing here? Selling an AI team combination? Seeing as we have Online Mode, why would anyone in their right mind buy this… I’m sure I’d rather more characters even if they were going to be charging for it at least there is a chance of seeing characters that I might be interested in using. Kobun/Servbot for example?

One last thing, I have yet to buy the game after playing it… It’s not that I don’t like it, but it is the fear that this game doesn’t seem complete enough and we are going to get a Super Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 later this year which has double the characters. :P Or better yet, Super Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade Edition Remix HD… You get the idea. ;) Though Capcom may actually know their audience better and these points maybe proven wrong with their return on investment.

February 9th, 2011

This was one of the recent headlines going around lately. News has it that Konami has gained enough shares of Hudson Soft and is now taking over or absorbing the company into Konami. This is a sad thing to see because during my primary to high school years I was a fan of Hudson Soft games… Especially the Super Bomberman series, special mentions to Super Bomberman 4 [Super Nintendo] and Bomberman SS [Sega Saturn] as they were the probably the most outstanding Bomberman games in terms of game play and design before the experimenting started and the series started to lose it’s edge.

Sure Konami is probably taking over Hudson because they aren’t doing so well in the recent years, and Hudson has quite a few great valuable intellectual properties in their treasure chest. Hopefully Konami does a better job with Bomberman as for a classic party game it just isn’t as fun any more with the broken game play, network play lag, poor graphics quality for simple looking characters and lack of good mountable creatures. Bomberman wasn’t the only franchise that was losing it’s edge in the games being made, anyone remember Bonk?

Bonk was one of those unique platform games that Hudson had in it’s arsenal. You had this prehistoric cave man or boy that goes around the world smashing things with his gigantic head and eating chunks of meat, fruit and candy for power ups. Well for some odd reason when ever Hudson makes something from 2D to 3D they don’t have very good 3D lighting or textures and the game just looks ugly compared to the classics. When you think about it, if it wasn’t the game play that was ruined from the series it was the look and feel that ended up taking the blow.

Although these are Hudson game examples, they aren’t the only ones who have released new generation versions of their old classical games only to have it play poorly compared to the originals. One I can think of is Taito’s Bubble Bobble series, though in the PSP version that was made which wasn’t by Taito it was obviously licensed by them and allowed the PSP title to be created… It wasn’t the end of the classical style, but it was still a poor implementation of 2D in 3D of a classic game. Another Bubble Bobble was released on DS which sticks to the classic style and really works well with the Dual Screen of the DS.

So back to Hudson, in the recent years I don’t ever remember hearing a title that was successful that came out from them… but I do remember when they were trying to market and make that Bomberman Act: Zero game saying how it was going to be a reboot of the Sega Saturn version of the game and I thought Wow that is going to be such an awesome game! and then when it came out I was wondering What the? That’s nothing like Bomberman SS. Funnily enough the game was published by Konami. :P

One last example that shows something is wrong… that is when the original franchise’s game play loses to a the spin off’s game play. When playing Bomberman Portable on the PSP it was full of disappointments with the same issues mentioned in the beginning… poor game play, adhoc network play lag issues, poor graphics and texture quality… it’s as if all the 3D objects in game used the default texture: Lambert in Maya and they just stuck one light source in the game. Then comes Bomberman Land for PSP… I mean sure the game isn’t really Bomberman, but it also supports the classical multiplayer battle mode… Sadly it was much better than the franchise release. Bomberman Land had better adhoc network play and the simple 2D graphics does the job right while the main game may not be about blowing things up, the battle mode game play was acceptable to the series standard.

Now days classical franchises get rebooted or remade all the time… it is hard to keep track of how all of them are doing, but it can be assumed that if we aren’t hearing about them in the news then they are probably not doing well. Nintendo seems to be the rare type able to keep their franchises’ reboots or remakes up to scratch… or are just more successful at keeping the quality, look and feel of their games at a representable standard. We will see what happens with Hudson’s franchises with Konami’s take over… Everything goes Act: Zero?

Edit: An insider story to the downfall of Hudson was posted recently, it gives more in-depth details to what I was talking about also some nice information that I didn’t even know about… especially the development environment of Hudson being interesting and the origin of the name. You can read it here.

October 10th, 2010

A game that aimed to break the “Sonic Cycle” was released a few days ago… Sonic 4. I tested it out on the iPhone so far… might also try the PlayStation 3 version. And how was it…?

Well after playing Sonic World Adventure [Unleashed] I can see that Sonic was slowly getting back in his speed shoes… but we would all like to see more than just well made stages and great game play. We needed to see Super Sonic in game levels, flashing all the Chaos Emeralds in Golden Glory. Sonic 4 – Episode 1 brings this back to us and more depending on what you enjoyed about the classic Sonic games.

The concept was good. Bring the original 2D game play of Sonic back and continue the story from Sonic 3 & Knuckles… Which didn’t exactly happen yet…? If you haven’t noticed from screen shots the level designs and art style has been quite similar to that of Sonic 2. So I guess they can’t ruin anything by doing that… it does however for me make it feel that it wasn’t very original, but at the same time brings some nostalgia which is what Sonic Team wants I guess.

Though I played the iPhone version, the look and feel of the game was quite good. It was also interesting trying this version first, because we are so used to Sonic being a control pad game it seemed stupid if we were to play without buttons. I cleared the Final Stage and all of Episode 1 with Tilt Controls… I did attempt to use the touch controls at one stage for a more precise control, but there was no point since I was already used to the tilting.

Getting the Chaos Emeralds was a huge chore though as the bonus stage gets annoying with the tilting, I guess when you are used to playing Labyrinth type games it doesn’t really help. It is the same type of bonus stage across all the consoles… thought it does look like a rip out of Sonic 3′s check point bonus game, it works because we are tilting the stage… though I could have gone for a cooler new type of bonus stage but no big deal, we get Chaos Emeralds that work on something other than the Final Boss… [Oh how true that is... 36 Rings really?]

It’s good to see Super Sonic back. It’s still too early for a review though as this is the first episode of the game… Sonic Team are doing this so they can slowly reel back in those who were hurt by the Sonic Cycle and are confident that they will get Sonic fans to buy all the episodes this way. So far it seems to be working, it is mostly positive reviews from various sources…

September 30th, 2010

Of all the Survival Horror series, one I enjoy most is the Project Zero or Fatal Frame series… if I were to make a website for a game it was either that or Minna no Golf.

Project Zero Work in Progress.

That would probably have been the case if there wasn’t already a nice website out there for the game and also if the game was more true to it’s original feel. With some game series or franchises, things get a little stale or game play or design go backwards instead of forwards. Project Zero is probably one of those who have fallen into this area of progression, with the game starting off to a great start with Zero, then topped by Crimson Butterfly and then holding it’s position with The Tormented… while the latest release Mask of the Lunar Eclipse on the Wii wasn’t improving it seemed the series was heading sideways.

With basically a drought for news on anything to do with the series and Nintendo holding the localised release of the game in western countries… you’d think that maybe the series might be dead. Well yesterday there was a few articles and press releases which contain visuals of the new upcoming work in progress Project Zero featuring the characters from Crimson Butterfly. This could be signs of a remake or Mio and Mayu have matured, but why is it for the Wii again…?

Seeing as with the previous version, Nintendo had rights to the publishing of the game… and their decision was to hold the release of the game in western countries [due to chances the game will not sell well in western regions]. Eventually it lead to fans creating a English patch for the Japanese game. Tecmo did also say that they would try not let this happen again in the future as they are quite sorry the game was unable to reach the western fan base of the series. So what are they doing now…?

I’ve always looked forward to a HD version of the game to play. Looks like that may not be happening, though I don’t see why if they are already remaking it anyway… Also if the motion controllers are what they are after, that doesn’t mean much as the PlayStation Move is now available so that doesn’t make sense. The only reason this could be happening is that Nintendo maintains the license to the series or franchises now as Tecmo may have sold it to them for a set number of years. A move which may have cost the series it’s progression and success.

Anyway here is what the original Crimson Butterfly looked like… comparing with the new graphics up the top there is clearly a noticeable difference. Mio and Mayu have had their costumes modified a little and some other enhancements… really? One thing that was irritating about the Wii release was that in Lunar Eclipse, there wasn’t much difference between the look of the girls you were in control of. Most of them were given enough polygons to emphasize their face and chest while the rest of the body was pretty much left for awkward moments when stretched or animated. The original PlayStation 2 releases of the game seemed to have done a better job… it just seems like they wanted the game to look better than the originals however decided that they would need to cut corners else where [such as straight and stiff looking limbs that fold awkwardly] to maintain that effect.

That aside the Wii never seemed to do the game much justice. Ignoring that Suda did change the way the game play and system works a little, there are times where the game would lag uncontrollably when travelling between rooms or sections of a building. Why does it happen? I even tested it with USB loaded version of the game and it still had the same lagging performance at the same area of the game… this wasn’t a bug that just happens to be on the game because we are running it off a disc. It happened even when the developers were probably testing it off the Wii SDK… which means they should have fixed it in the testing phase. If they were struggling with resources and performance in the first place, why announce another release for the Wii when there are clearly better alternatives out there where the series can succeed on?

Well I look forward to the release of this game… but there is always going to be that thought of how much better this series could have been if they weren’t crippling their ideas and development teams just for a little bit of cash. With the PlayStation Move now available, there is no excuse not to make this in HD if they wanted the motion controllers… Also atleast if they released it on the PlayStation 3 the game would be region free and not force legitimate people to hack and modify their consoles just to play a game they would have gladly purchased if it were released in their respective regions. [Also more exposure for the game if people were playing it online on the PSN or Live with the Trophies and Achievements systems.] In the end I could move over to Biohazard for my Survival Horror gaming… too bad the horror factor in that is pretty low.

August 4th, 2010

Wow… I played Starcraft II this week, it was released last week and well I have to say… it is beyond very good. Starcraft being a game that I used to play and owned on PC well is a classic, and this sequel kind of blows it all away. I was never a fan of Terran but I did enjoy this first release of the three part story of the game so far.

This won’t be a review on the game because I am not hardcore at the game enough at the series to be qualified to speak about the games specifics. However I will discuss a little on the success of this sequel… starting with some history. Starcraft the original was a game I used to play with my friends early high school years… back then my friends and I each went with a different race, I picked Protoss and the other two picked Terran and Zerg. I was probably quite average at the game, while one of the two friends became really good at the game. Eventually it wasn’t any fun to play against that friend at all… and the other friend kind of didn’t play that much anyway so lacked practice.

That didn’t mean the game wasn’t any good… just that Starcraft is one of those games that apart from the Story/Campaign Mode you’re supposed to play with other people to enjoy it. One of the other things that people could enjoy was Custom Maps with Use Map Settings. I met a few people Online on Battle.net back then who were really good at making Custom games… It was great, I also learnt a lot about making them myself… but one thing about this version is that the custom maps are really hard to come by, also the map editor is way too complex now… I think by the time you learnt how to use it and make really decent stuff with it, you probably could have created your own game, programmed it and released it and get paid for your work. Even though this map editor lets you make a game that is completely different to what Starcraft is meant to be, it seems like it is going to be a long while until we see something really interesting.

Before I even played the Campaign Mode, I actually hopped on Battle.net under a friend’s account. I played a few games as Protoss then logged off… the Online interface was quite confusing actually, I clicked around trying to figure out how it works and all of a sudden I was sent into a game with a random person that I didn’t get to select. Dark Templars made waste of the opponent but that could have been some newbie that just happened to play Starcraft for the first time ever from this release. There was no interaction or chatting involved with me and the other player. I felt that was a little poor. I guess it is hard to chat in an Real-Time-Strategy game, but Blizzard seemed to have removed the Online Chat rooms in the new Battle.net system… What’s the deal with that? Part of going online to play games is to interact with people you are playing with so you know they are human not just [Korean] bots. One of the things about the old chat rooms was that I actually met the people who made the cool maps that I was playing through them and became friends because of the conversations I was able to have with the players when not concentrating on commanding my units. You do get a small lobby to chat in before a game starts but nothing once the game ends…

Well let’s head offline… Oh wait you can’t… When you play the game, you need a valid Starcraft II Battle.net account logged in so you can play Single Player Story/Campaign Mode. The nice thing about this is, your progress is saved on a cloud system. So you can technically go to your friend’s house and play the game from where you last finished at home. The bad thing, well you cannot play under your account if you aren’t online. However if the copy of the game is activated, you can play offline under Guest Mode… there is three guest slots that you can play Campaign Mode under… probably so you can make different choices each time you play for a different story. Which is pretty nice especially if you know someone who has the game, and you only want to try it out… Ask them to come around and install it and play online a little bit to show you then you’ll have a copy of Starcraft II that you can play the Story/Campaign Mode/Vs AI Mode whenever you want. Oh and yeah, no Local Area Network Mode for Offline Multiolayer.

Now the game… Again I’d just like to say wow… I don’t think they missed much when it comes down to the essence of Starcraft. Unlike other franchises or sequels to games that I have played Starcraft II did not fall short or drop anything that maintain the Starcraft feel. I ran the game on my notebook at 1920×1200 with most graphics settings turned down so I would have smooth game play without compromise… the game still looked great. The interface was good and the way you are put through between the missions and menus looked and felt right. Though I did find annoying that the top row of tabs during game can sometimes get in the way of clicking on units and opens up one of menus occasionally. Overall the Game Play, System and Story was top notch. It is satisfying to play through along with the special extras that are available to the Single Player Campaign makes or gives the mode some replay value which is a nice touch.

That’s about it really… Unless you want to read some spoilers or weird things that I tried while playing… Continue?
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