Lack of updates

Hmm..it has been nearly a year since I last updated this blog. I guess it’s pretty easy to know why if you’ve met me. So far the games I’ve been playing is a chunk of Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption and Project Diva 2nd.

E3 this year has been an interesting one with Nintendo finally putting on the showing that many hardcore fans want. However I find it amazing that even then those games aren’t getting the scores that we see on the 360/PS3. It just seems as though most reviewers look at the Wii and expect 360/ps3 quality games. But from the other perspective, the hardware is quite limited and Nintendo really needs a new hardware iteration to even begin to compete. It’s as simple as this: The Motion controls aren’t doing it anymore. Metroid Other M, a game that has just recently released on the Wii is scoring moderately high review scores but it isn’t outstanding or genre breaking as I would think they intended it to be.

Despite all this, props has to be given to Nintendo for once again stepping beyond the competition. Microsoft and Sony both are struggling to just keep up while Nintendo is moving on with it’s 3DS handheld. There’s just a lot of cat and mouse between the companies and it looks like Nintendo is once again the industry leader. Playstation Move looks like a complete ripoff of the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Kinect looks destined to fail with no tactile feedback and sensitivity issues.

With the launch dates of both these products looming, it’ll be interesting to see how they fare out in the long run. Will the Sony Playstation finally win over the empire that is the Nintendo Wii? or does Kinect look to take crown with no controllers needed? we’ll have to wait and see……

PS3: Bayonetta Hands-on

Just released this week on the PSN Store, we take a hands-on look at the demo and check out what’s so hot about the title.

Developed by Platinum games and directed by Devil may Cry series creator Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta seeks to bring a fresh new look at the formula which Kamiya has pioneered and takes it to another level. Bayonetta centers on it’s title character, a witch who can wield 4 guns and other weapons and dish out magical attacks with the use of her hair.

The game play is very similar to that of the Devil May Cry series in which you’ll still have the same close attacks and long range attacks. The new addition this time is the magic attacks which are usually automatically called upon as you rack up your combos resulting in a stunning, visually impressive and brutal finisher. You can also perform amazing acrobatics which allows Bayonetta to shoot her guns in a variety of poses.

The demo we played consisted of 2 levels, the first being a tutorial to become accustomed to the controls and the second being the first real level to the game. The tutorial basically pits you against generic enemies and teaches the basics of the game which involve learning to use melee attacks, combos, blocks and magic attacks. It’s set in a generic screen that isn’t using any level and basically it forms the loading screens which allows you to test out moves while waiting for a particular level to load.

The first level takes place in a cathedral which is somehow occupied by “spirits”. We didn’t know reason for this as the text is completely in Japanese while the dialogues and voices all spoke English. Taking a stroll past the cathedral and into a open area with a fountain in the middle, we are treated to our first real battle between hordes of flying enemies. The controls feel pretty solid and there wasn’t any issues trying to perform a magic attack. After finishing all of the enemies, we are treated to our first major set piece, the Betrayed which is this massive axe wielding hulk-like monster with a red gem on it’s back. As I’ve played some of the Devil May Cry series, I could instantly tell this was it’s weak point and began tearing into the monster.
Further along there’s another impressive fight with a monster which destroys some of the environment and also a duel between another witch. The demo does reveal some back story to Bayonetta and you’ll see some insight about her past.

The graphics are pretty impressive, especially once you call your faithful magical canine to perform a stunning finisher. The architecture is also very detailed and produces a glorious shine as you play through the level. Despite all the arguments about the Playstation 3 version having massive framerate issues, we didn’t notice any of the sort while playing the demo.

From what we can tell, Bayonetta looks to be a very interesting title and we can’t wait to see how the full game comes together. Check it out when it launches in Q1 2010.

Changes to this blog

Wow, I sure had a busy week.
From now on, I’ll be posting links to my reviews that pop up on ANN here.
But of course, I will still do some from time to time on this blog.

Anyway the First review up on ANN is
Rittai Picross – Here

As you can see, there isn’t a review scoring of any sort but if I were to score Rittai Picross, it would fall between 8 and 9. There’s a lot of things to like about the game and more detail canbe found there.

Wii: Pop N Music Preview.

While the most popular games of the music genre pioneered by Konami have made it across the waters, there is one however that still hasn’t found its footing. Pop N Music, part of Konami’s highly popular Bemani range of arcade games is finally being brought over to the Wii after a line of successful PS2 incarnations and with it comes a whole slew of new addtional features. The Pop N Music series have prodominently been kept in the land of the rising sun but recently showed up at E3 prompting it’s eventual release in the US. Fans of the series however, be warned.. it isn’t exactly how you remember it in the Arcade or the previous console versions. Gone is the traditional Pop N Music peripheral and has been replaced with the Wii’s Motion Controls. There is however some new features being incorporated to make use of the Wii’s capabilities such as the ability for DLC of additional songs.

Having just released in Japan, in the time we’ve spent with the game we’ve noticed a number of differences mostly notably it’s visual style which gives off a very casual feel to the game. While one can argue that the original game always had a cartoonish style to it, this time it is even more prevaliant as selection screens and menus have been made more simpler and the gameplay changed from it’s original 9 buttons to 5. The gameplay itself plays out like Pop N Music normally does with coloured markers flying down the screen requiring you to hit them in sequence however one major issue we did notice was the controls which occassionally registers the wrong input. However, this didnt stop us from having fun with the games’ tracklist which consisted of a mix of Jpop/anime music.

Apart from some control difficulties, which will hopefully be fixed in the final release, Pop N Music is still very enjoyable and should introduce the franchise to many new players.

Pop N Music is due out in the US later this year. Look out for a proper review later in the year.

Miami Law DS Review

Miami Law, developed by Hudson Soft,is a new upbeat take on the whole Visual Novel style games drawing influence from franchises such as the Phoenix Wright Series. Miami Law, however, moves away from the bunch by presenting a plot similar to a typical 80s American police drama and combining these with a classic option based adventure and action style gameplay. Can this be a completely new take on the formula or should this stay back in the 80s where it belongs?

The story in Miami Law has you following two lead characters which at points allows you to continue the story following one or the other. The first has you playing Miami PD detective Law Martin, who is undercover in a well known drug syndicate known as funny enough, the “Miami Syndicate”. His past however has been shaken up by the loss of his ex-partner Sam Brown and now he helps take care of Sam’s Sister Jessica Brown. The story unfolds as he becomes teamed up with the second lead character, FBI Agent Sara Starling who is also after the same goal, taking down the syndicate. The Story spans across the five scenarios the game presents with a couple of twists and turns making what the game calls cases more similar to “episodes” instead. The issue is that these episodes really makes the entire experience of the game become more like one long dragged out movie. Overall the story does have a couple interesting moments and plot twists but needs more with character development especially with the banter between the two leads.

The gameplay basically follows the standard with all games of this genre. You scroll through lines of text/dialog and travel to locations via menus and can search the environment using the options given to you. Occasionally these segments are broken up with short minigames which are mostly minigames. The problem is that most of these minigames lack depth and control terribly especially with the driving minigame which takes a couple of seconds for the system to recognise you command if you don’t use the buttons on the bottom of the screen. However, the minigames do fit the context of the plot and none ever feels out of place in the narrative.

Presentation wise, Miami Law takes a stylised 2D anime-ish look with nice 2D Character designs. The problem is with the 3D minigames which look blocky and jaggy without much detail. You can pretty much tell that careful attention has been paid to the story and 2D work than the minigames that seem like they were added in after everything else was done. The music in Miami Law is sufficient with appropriate sounds which fit the setting. There is however no voice work for any of the dialogue.

Overall the game isn’t a massive ground breaker but does a decent job in presenting an engaging fact paced police action story with branching narratives and plot twists. The only issues are the low quality minigames coupled with very cliche characters. The game is entertaining and anyone who likes text adventure and action can easily find something to enjoy from this game.

Overall 6.0

First update in a while….

With university starting again and the load of assignments which gets handed to me week after week, it’s really hard to find time to update this blog. Though my busy schedule has moved me away from console games, I still manage to find time for handheld games. Some of the more interesting ones are currently Rittai Picross which is essentially a 3D reindition of the previous Picross game. Though fans of the previous game maybe worried that the formula that made the previous game work so well might be lost in the translation to 3D however surprisingly, it works..and quite well at it too. There’s a huge number of puzzles too and while I’m only about half way through, it’s hard to put it down. There’s just that level of addiction being able to solve some of the puzzles quick achieving a 3 star rating to being stumped on a certain section of a puzzle for over 20 mins.

Other games i’m playing at the moment is Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the DS. The game takes various elements from the GTA formula and attempts to pack all of them into the DS and surprisingly it’s good. While it doesn’t have the same graphical look like the console iterations which was achieved on the PSP, the DS however creates it’s own stylized look to the franchise taking more of the same look from the images that are displayed from the GTA Art. Most of the elements that made GTA so good is still intact, you’ll still be stealing cars and the city is pretty much unlocked from the start borrowing the similar locales from GTA IV. The only problems I had with the game is that not all elements are in such as getting dates, there’s not alot of store you can visit and the drug dealing system is abit shallow as you’re pretty much taking drugs from one dealer and selling it to another and earning cash that way when being able to take what you bought and being the dealer yourself and doing meetups and trades with anyone could have added more depth to it. But hey, can’t complain as it’s not a very massive part of the game and more like a side quest.

There’s really not much at the moment, though, I really want to start on my copy of Last Reminent on PC since it’s the most definitive version of them all.