Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Love Mega Man? Then you NEED the comics!

I have to admit, I didn't start collecting these from day one. I actually started collecting these just a few months ago with the launch of the Dawn of X arc... yes, Mega Man X is what drew me in. Surprisingly, this is a great addition to any Mega Man fans collection. I for one, am glad I'm collecting these!

For those who don't know, Archie's Mega Man's comics follow the original series of games and expands the story from it's simple roots. So far they've tackled the first 3 games in the comics and introduces some of the Robot Masters from the more recent entries like Splash Woman and Oil Man. The story in these comics even use the Robot Master's weakness in the battles too, which I personally find pretty cool.

Interestingly, these comic books flesh out the world of Mega Man very well by giving each Robot Master their own unique personality and even make Rock himself deeper than just the jump 'n' shot man we know him as. Characterisation is probably the comics strong point since it really does an excellent job in both respecting the source material, while still adding their own flare to the series. I seriously thought the crossover with Sonic The Hedgehog was a great use of their creative freedom.

The art style in these comics is usually faithful to the original designs but each artist tried to add their own flare to mixed results. The artist rotation seems to happen with each new story arc and each story arc consists of 4 issues. Personally I prefer when the artist is more true to the original designs over adding their own style, not to berate the artists but don't stray too far from the first artists designs.

I really find the writing in this comic series extremely well done. Unlike most comics these days, Mega Man's writers have actually written these for all ages and isn't talking down to kids or treat older readers like children. I actually find these comics are better paced and written then comics from DC Comics... that speaks volumes, trust me! I found the story very engaging, so much so that I read the trade paper backs in 2 days! that's 6 main books and 3 crossover ones, each containing 4 issues!

As of the writing of this, there are 40 issues and most are in TPB form. They aren't too difficult to get your hands on if you're interested and I recommend getting all the issues in the Sonic The Hedgehog/Mega Man: When Worlds Collide crossover event. Best thing about these comics is that you and your kids (if you have them that is) can enjoy it together and it makes the original games even more enjoyable then they already are. Even if you're not a comic book fan, these are a must read.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Video games you want Vs Video games you want to play

Ok. This is something that keeps me up at night(when I drafted this it was about 1am) and I haven't really put much thought into it until last year when the PS4 and Xbox One were first shown. We all watch E3 and other major video game related things and get all hyped up for the new games being shown off like models at a Victoria Secrets runway extravaganza... but here's the thing, do we WANT these games or do we just want to PLAY these games?

You might be asking yourself, "What's the difference?" and I can understand. Simply put, a game we want is one that we'll replay time and time again throughout our life(like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Final Fantasy VII) and others are experiences that we want to play, but clog our shelves since we remind ourselves of how much we paid for them and how little they are worth now(like The Last of Us or Ashura's Wrath).There are also some subtypes to games we want to play which are games we play to make/play with friends and games we play to compete, but I talk about them later since this is more about single player games to start with.

I don't know about you but every time I look at my video game collection from the last two generations(PS2-PS3, Xbox-Xbox 360, Gamecube- Wii... well not so much the Nintendo stuff), I keep finding games I will never play again but are still on my shelf. I don't regret playing them, but I keep thinking to myself "If I could have rented these, would I have bought them?" and nowadays I realise I wouldn't have at all. For example, I have The Last of Us which is a great experience... but I can't see myself ever replaying it at all. Now you'll probably throw the multiplayer to my face but I'm not big on multiplayer in general and I'm not a fan of competition. Fact is The Last of Us hasn't got a lasting appeal for me and to make matters worse, it's only worth AU$8 trade in so it's practically worthless.

Now I know I probably just upset a few of you by saying I can't see myself replaying The Last of Us but at the same time, I'm sure there are a lot of games I love that you'd have the same opinion about. See I feel that a lot of games are actually designed in a disposable manner(hence even more emphasis on digital distribution) so that you'll play it, shelf it and move to the next one without batting an eye lid(also explains the tiny hard drives in the PS4 and Xbone am I right?). We live in a disposable society anyway where we upgrade our technology yearly, why not games? Some games are just meant to played once and that's it.

But what about the flip side? What about the games you want? What makes a games so great that you'll play it until you are a living walkthrough? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions? For me, I'll use Resident Evil 2 as my example. I know this game back to front, every item location, every enemy placement, how to beat it without getting hit until the final fight with the Tyrant and yet... I can't remember the age of my friends and family! Why is this? Well it's because the game(at least for me), just appeals to everything I wanted from it. On top of that the game is fun, something a lot of popular games of today forgot how to least for me.

Back to E3 and the other video game press stuff. They always know how to make us want to play their games. We all go preorder them, hoping they will be awesome or that the game is fun. This is marketing, it's designed to do that and we always fall for it! We never know the truth until we get the game ourselves and we all have differing opinions(sometimes) on them. Lets face it, most of the games we buy are because we want to play them to see how it is and not to revisit it time and time again.

You know what game I've replayed the most in my life? Super Mario Bros! You could chalk it up to it being so old but the next game but the next one in line to the throne is Resident Evil 2 and following that is Super Mario Bros 3, Resident Evil 4, Final Fantasy and the list just goes on! But what does this have to do with the topic at hand? These games are games that I want to play, again and again. These games found what it is I crave most and found a way to not only give me what I wanted, but did it in a way that has me coming back for more and seeking out similar games like it.

I honestly believe that this is what drives the independent scene's passion(when they aren't just after a quick buck). These guys are making games they themselves want to play! Krome's Space Captain Steve gave his comic book Blade Kitten a game like Strider because he loved the games so much. Sure it had it's issues like every game made on a shoe string budget does, but his team made a game that they wanted to play, unlike say... Call of Duty which is all for the money!

Call of Duty leads into the next points I have.Some games we play are not for ourselves, shocker right? These are the games we buy to compete and games we buy to make/play with friends. If you actually look at the top selling games each year, chances are these are the ones at the top of the leaderboards. Not hard to see why though. These types of games are the true social games... don't crucify me just yet folks! These are games we play for human interaction. Most people need a lot of it and some(like me) prefer as little as possible, but enough to sustain us. So whats so special about these types?

Well lets start with the games we make/play with friends. These are more commonly MMORPGs and any game that features online capabilities.We buy these more nowadays since arcades killed themselves by being to expensive and the internet killed them because people are lazy by nature. Usually we buy these games to talk with other like minded people to expand our list of friends or to play with your friends since they too are playing it and it may be hard to keep a proper social life with them outside the game. This is why World of Warcraft's creators are partying on a yacht somewhere on your subscription fees. These games usually are just to play with people, no so much you actually want. That's why I consider it a subtype of the "games we want to play" section.

As for games you want to compete... I'm so going to be drawn and quartered for this, I'm sure of it! This is actually due to an evolutionary trait that has never left our primal subconscious... I'm sure at least some of you have watched a nature documentary once in your life... right? What I'm referring to is pack leader status, the alpha, our urge to be the top of the food chain amongst our own species, or more commonly referred to by me... dick measuring! We don't buy these games because we want them, we buy them so we can figuratively hump(literally in First Person Shooters!) our lesser players to prove that we are the dominant one. Call of Duty, Street Fighter, Madden, Fifa, Mario Kart are all examples of these games. Yes some do fall into the games we play to make/play with friends as well, but they are primarily for satiating our latent desire to be the best. Hell, arcade games were that in a nutshell!

Now none of these types of games are bad as such, we all play games for different reasons and in a lot of case our collections reflect ourselves. I've just been thinking about this for a while but now just put pen to paper on the subject and it feels good to share it with the small group of people who actually read this. So what games do you find are games you wanted and games you just wanted to play?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What I thought about E3 2014

E3 is probably the biggest event in video games and we all come flocking to various internet outlets to watch press conferences, read up on all the news and watch as much gameplay footage as possible to know what's coming soon to our over priced wannabe computers. Chances are there's a game for you shown at E3 that you want but sometimes you wonder, why only one? That's the nature of E3 I suppose, but I'm here to give my thoughts on what happened at the show and what I personally am excited for... no this isn't a full recap, just my opinions so don't expect me to give you all the details on anything I personally don't care about like the Xbox One in general.

Microsoft this year claimed diversity and yet... it was more of the same. Sure Sunset Overdrive looked like fun, but it's not a system seller and Project Spark's reveal of Conker pissed of so many people that I'm surprised everyone who loves Conker's Bad Fur Day didn't do what JonTron did to his Xbox One in this video. For the most part, Microsoft sure seems to be focused on what seems to have been dubbed "Bro Gamers" and unless your into hyper masculine power fantasies... go somewhere else... and I will! I grade them a D- for their press conference since they did have some games that weren't just for the bro's and because they shut up about Kinect this year.

Sony on the other hand actually brought diversity to the show. Seriously, it seemed like they had a game for everyone... seemed being the operative word. Sony once again flexed it muscles on exclusives and games that weren't just for the bro's but that's not surprising since Sony actually seems to be listening to it's fans on social media. Honestly, it looks like 2015 is the year to finally drop money on a PS4 or September if you want a white one and Destiny. I'm kinda upset the PS Vita got shafted at E3 this year since it is such an awesome console, but outside of Japan it seems almost no one seems to own one. PS TV was kind of a surprise at first but we saw it last year as PS Vita TV and all it is is a region locked PS Vita that uses a Dualshock 3 controller and hooks up to a TV and is also picky on what games it'll play... so you're probably only going to buy it so you can play your PS4 on another TV in your house. I'd grade them a B+ because they forgot about PS Vita.

Nintendo... ah Nintendo, we can always count on you to bring primary colours to E3 can't we? Nintendo may not be as popular as the were when I was a boy or it's Wii fame period, but it seems like they don't care... but their share holders definitely do! Nintendo are the trend setters and the innovators and E3 keeps up their reputation for being the "kiddie console company"... by telling us Bayonetta 2 is out in October and comes with the first game! Ahem... yeah I may gush about Nintendo here, so you may want to drag further down for more of my E3 opinions. Nintendo has so many games that I personally wanted and man... I was shocked at the reveal of Splatoon! Oh so many games I just want to talk about like Super Smash Bros having Pac-Man and using figures called Amiibo and Xenoblade Chronicles X, but I want to try and keep this spot short...try. Nintendo had something for EVERYONE! Seriously now, if  Microsoft's press conference was "diverse" than Nintendo's was universal! I actually remember more about the games Nintendo showed than any other games at E3! Chalk it up to Nintendo fanboyism, but Nintendo didn't disappoint. I'd grade them a A- since the 3DS was overshadowed by the Wii U.

As for the games we definitely saw a lot of new IP's for once. I personally was drawn to Scalebound since the trailer gave it a Devil May Cry kinda style to it and Splatoon REALLY looks like fun. Assassin's Creed Unity has me excited since we're back to interesting setting instead of the last 2 games outings. Unfortunately a lot of DLC and downloadable games were brought to the show but with indie developers I understand... AAA companies on the other hand are abusing it! The PS4 & Wii U next year has so many games coming out on them that you'll want them both next year, if not sooner. I'm also surprised that Capcom wasn't a big presence there this year and Square-Enix decided to keep Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 at home. I honestly think it's Nintendo who was the most surprising with a shooter for all ages called Splatoon.

As for my picks of E3... the majority of my choices are from Nintendo for the most part but here's my picks of the litter,
- Assassin Creed Unity(PS4, Xbone, PC)
- Sunset Overdrive(Xbone)
- Phoenix Wright Trilogy(3DS eShop only)
- Splatoon(Wii U)
- Scalebound(Xbone)
- Destiny(PS3, Xbox 360, Xbone, PS4, PC)
- Final Fantasy Explorer(3DS)
- Final Fantasy Type-0 HD(PS4, Xbone)
- Bayonetta 2(Wii U)
- Hyrule Warriors(Wii U)
- Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire(3DS)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbone, PS4)
- Super Smash Bros(Wii U, 3DS)
- Xenoblade Chronicles X(Wii U)
- Uncharted 4: A Theif's End(PS4)
- Zelda Wii U 2015(Wii U)
- Mirror's Edge 2(PS4, Xbone)
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbone)
- Mario Maker(Wii U)
- Mass Effect 4(PS4, Xbone)
- Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix(PS3)
- Starfox Wii U(Wii U)
- Alphadia Genesis(Wii U)

Well E3 is done and dusted and as usual we are all excited for the next 12 months. Personally I see myself throwing money at Nintendo once again, but Sony has finally convinced me it's time to get a PS4 and Microsoft... yeah... still not sold on Xbone. I'm sure we all have that one game they're most excited for and for me, it's Hyrule Warriors. Well, let's hope that the other events that happen throughout the next 12 months also have games that will make us drool over our smartphones and keyboards. Regardless, our pockets will stay empty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mario Kart 8 Review

Mario Kart 8
Genre: Racing
Platform: Wii U
Price: AU$79.95
When a Nintendo console exists, so to must a Mario Kart game(unless it's an 8-bit system) and this time... it's not much of an improvement since the last one.  Seriously if you've played Mario Kart 7, the game isn't much different. So... can anti gravity sell Mario Kart 8?

I'm sure most of you have played a Mario Kart game at least once in you life. It's a series of racing games that forgoes skill for "fun" with weapons that can send you from first to last faster than you can say "SCREW YOU!" and also loves to never give me anything good, even in last place! The game series is famous for it's rubber band system that gives stronger items to people farther back in position... unless you're me and the game just gives you squids and mushrooms! Yes... I HATE MARIO KART GAMES!!!... well I just hate competitive games in general... also I DO LOVE MARIO KART, but only when playing with family and friends.

Gameplay is simple, race against your opponents and attempt to get first place. Skill isn't a factor as the "random" item system will always find a way of screwing even the most skilled players over. It's a crap shoot... LUCK DECIDES ALL!

The game supports so many different controller options! The gamepad for once doesn't gel well for me when playing this game, but then again every controller option doesn't feel right! You can use any Wiimote combination you want so unless you are like me and wish you could use a Gamecube controller(although Nintendo did announce a Gamecube controller hub to be released around the same time as Super Smash Bros later this year. I sure hope it works with Mario Kart 8!), you're good. I suggest a Pro controller or Classic Pro controller since they do work best for long racing sessions or a Wiimote with the steering wheel. The game does support of TV play... but don't do it for 4 player because it's like playing on 4 GBA screens squished together.

Before each race you select a character from the roster. You start with 16 and you can unlock a total of 30 including you Mii's and don't be surprised if there are 6 DLC ones on the way. After selecting a character it's off to build a kart. The parts range from body, wheels and glider and each part has it's own stats but seem to be specific groups that focus on speed, acceleration, weight, grip and handling. Along with the parts having stats, the characters also fall into 3 main groups too. Lightweight characters get pushed around by all weight classes, have high acceleration and low top speeds. Heavy weights can throw their weight around to push everyone one other than another heavy weight, have high top speeds but low acceleration. Medium weight characters are balanced but can still push lightweights around. Mii's on the other hand are determined by the size of your Mii, so I suggest making multiples if you want one in each weight class.

Grand Prix mode is  what you'll play for the most part. In these races you'll race against 11 other racers and for the first time, you can play this mode with 4 players! You'll race in 8 cups consisting of 4 tracks each and your difficulty is pretty much chosen by the cc's of each race... and let me tell you, luck always finds a way to make these races miserable. As in prior games, your position determines how many points you earn and the racer with the most points wins the cup.

Vs mode allows you to set up a custom race to the parameters you want. In this mode you can actually make it so only skill determines the victor... in other words, you can turn items off! This is where you should play with friends if you want to test your skills with them or just have a fun old time. I love this mode because just like Vs mode in Super Smash Bros, you can make it how you want.

Time Trial is exactly what it says. You put your skills against the clock to see how fast you can beat a track. You can also challenge ghost data to see how well you do compared to Nintendo staff and other gamers. If you think your awesome and want to show the world, you can upload your ghost and see how you stack against the world. It's all well and good if you want to test how well you know the tracks, but I honestly can't be stuffed with it.

Battle mode is where the random chaos of the franchise's crappy luck can lead to crazy fun... at least it did back in the past. Unfortunately the game no longer has battle arenas and you now battle on the race tracks in the game. This sucks because the matches take too long since you spend most of your time trying to find someone. Like before the winner is determined by the last person standing. The old fashion 3 hits and you're out rule still applies, but you'd be better off just racing instead of playing this mode. This mode just sucks and I can't see too many people enjoying it.

As with all modern games, this one has also been cursed with the cancer known as online multiplayer. Yes, you can jump online and "test" your skills against the world in "friendly" competition. You can engage in both Grand Prix and Battle mode online with up to 12 players with either global or regional players. Trying to link with friends is just that... trying, I had problems with it and I'm sure you will too. Admittedly the connection in races is perfectly stable, but before the race begins can take a while depending on the connection and where in the world the players reside.

There's also a feature in the game called Mario Kart TV... it's just a replay theatre. In this mode you can watch and edit your replays to focus on various moments in that race and even upload them to YouTube(YouTube account required). There are a fair few tools to edit your highlight reel, but I just don't care for the feature. The replay theatre is a niche thing anyway and the people who will enjoy using it will have fun I suppose but I care not for it.

Now there have been some changes to this game since the last few games. You can now drive on the ceiling in anti gravity mode and while in this mode, bumping other drivers is encouraged for a speed boost. Some new items have been added to make life more miserable.The new items include a Piranha Plant that chomps on nearby items and racers, a Super Horn that destroys all items including blue shells and stuns other racers, a Boomerang Flower that hits opponents in it's line of fire and comes back for up to 3 throws, Crazy 8 that gives you 8 items to use(green shell, red shell, banana, mushroom, coins, star, Blooper and a Bob-omb) and Coins are an item that's only used to give you coins...  also collecting enough will unlock kart parts.

Speaking of unlocking parts, Mario Kart 8 allows you to unlock everything with minimal effort. Unlocking characters is done by just getting first in a cup, regardless of cc's or cup you choose. All the kart parts are unlocked by collecting coins and once you collect 2500, you've got all the parts. Yep... grinding for coins to unlock parts... grinding in a racing game is worse than in any JRPG I've played!

Overall, this game has too many problems compared to previous games. The character diversity sucks because there are too many babies and the metal characters are a dumb idea and is one of my biggest gripes. The battle mode is terrible and makes me glad I still have Mario Kart Double Dash, which has the best battle mode in my opinion. The game isn't fun on your own either! Online players are ruthless vermin who race like touring car drivers, no actually they drive like the inmates from the movie Death Race!!! The only fun you can really have is with couch multiplayer with Vs mode.

Look, Mario Kart 8 is a great game for normal gamers... just not a gamer like me. Normals can have competing online and on the couch with friends and family in all the various modes this game has to offer. The game's major flaws come from its character roster and it's battle mode being crap. Despite my hatred of games that focus on competition over fun, this game is a must own for the Wii U. I bought this game just to play with family since I lack the social skill require to attain friends and not to play on my own outside of unlocking all the content. I'm sure norms of the world will love this game and they should... I'll stick to single player focused  games with little to no competitive rubbish, like Final Fantasy VIII

Score 4/5

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Review

Professor Layton Vs
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Genre: Puzzle
Platform: 3DS
Price: AU$59.95
Well... the thought of a crossover like this never came to mind but some how it exists(how long until Capcom releases the Super Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Ultra Hyper Championship Turbo EX Arcade Alpha MAX HD Remix Edition with downloadable costumes?) Honestly, I've never played a Ace Attorney game prior to this and I've barely dabbled with Professor Layton: The Curious Village like a year ago... if 2 puzzles from the index on my mum's clear file counts as dabbling. I can say I was pleasantly surprised on how much enjoyment I've had playing this game. In other words, this isn't a review on bias from the previous games. No fanboyisms to either franchise here prior to playing the game.

The story revolves around a mysterious girl named Espella who comes to London with a friend/student of Professor Layton named Mr Accidenti who gets into a car accident(is he a character that existed prior to this game? I feel he isn't). Espella meets up with Professor Layton and is being chased by witches. Professor Layton with Luke attempt to protect her and eventually do so, just to get sucked into a book Espella was carrying called the Historia Labyrinthia. Not long after, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright(who's come to London on an attorney exchange program) is forced to defend Espella from an assault and theft charge. After successfully doing so Phoenix and his assistant Maya are also pulled into the same book Professor Layton and Luke were. Now our 4 leads are in a mysterious medieval town inside the book and must solve the mysteries of the world, how they got there and how to get out of Dodge. Trust me, the plot is REALLY hard to summarise and this is the best way I could do it without spoilers or waffling like Stephan King.

The game has adopted both play styles from both franchises. The Professor Layton style chapters have you exploring the town of Labyrinthia... unfortunately no David Bowie or Hoggle in sight. As you explore this Bowie deprived town you will talk to the locals, search for hint coins and solve various puzzles. Puzzle difficulty is something I do have an issue with though, mainly the difficulty curve. Seriously, Sarah would complain it's not fair(I got Labyrinth on the brain... sorry)! Some of the puzzles are hard early on while others later in the game some are a cake walk. Also, these chapters seem WAY too long.

The Ace Attorney style chapters on the other hand are my favourite to be honest. During these chapters you're in a courtroom attempting to prove your clients innocence. You'll be drip feed evidence during the case and you'll have to use your logic to find contradictions in the witnesses testimonies... and finding contradictions isn't going to be that easy either! Pressing witnesses to finding some contradictions and presenting evidence that backs it up is the name of the game. Unique to this game is having to cross exam multiple witnesses... all at once! During these cross examinations you'll have to not just find contradictions, but keep an eye out for the other witnesses reactions to statements made by the witness you're pressing. These are more challenging segments of the game, but the difficulty curve is properly executed.

The game can be completely controlled with nothing but the stylus(I recommend this personally) but there's a lot that you can just use the buttons for. Despite being a 3DS game the 3D adds nothing to the game and more over, the game automatically switch's audio from stereo to mono based on the console it's played in(2DS mono and stereo on 3DS). There's also only a very small amount of voice acting in this game and a lot of text which may chase away a lot of modern gamers. Unfortunately as I write this North America hasn't gotten the game yet and that sucks for them royally!

Now here's the funny thing, fans of either franchise may end up being disappointed by this game. Layton fans may be disappointed in the lack of puzzles. There are only 70 puzzles in total throughout this 40 hour game. Ace Attorney fans will have to wait what feels like an eternity to get to each court case. On top of that the investigation portions aren't in this game and while the witch trials are awesome, the contradictions are a little harder to work out with the dance magic... sorry magic(damn my love for that movie Labyrinth!) and medieval setting. Best way to look at this game is to think of it as a jumping off point for newcomers to get a taste of what both franchises have to offer.

God this review came out shorter than expected. This is not a bad game at all, in fact it's great! Yes fans of the franchises may feel a little cheated, but they can use it to convert people to the franchises it's based on. Erratic difficulty and more text then a Stephan King novel aside(again, I rag on him... I actually do like his books by the way), this game is a fun brain tester. Personally I preferred playing through the Ace Attorney chapters a lot more than the Layton chapters but still enjoyed the game as a whole. I don't think fans will hate this game, but they may be better off looking at this game as just a spin off that's more for newbies since it has no continuity with either franchise... at least not yet... you never know with Capcom. Regardless I say it's a great game that needs to be in everyone's 3DS library.

Score 4/5