tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Not much to say today

Just wanted to mention that

  • I beat Beyond Good & Evil last night and started working through Lost Planet and
  • This decision is retarded and will probably come back to bite Capcom in the ass somewhere down the road

That is all.

5 comments

The season of updates is upon is

First Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars, then BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, and now Super Street Fighter IV – the newest fighting games are starting to get their first updated versions. It’s pretty interesting to read about the new characters and balance/system changes that are being implemented, and speculate about how my characters’ play styles will change.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the whining by casual players about constant ‘rehashes,’ and how they’ll need to pay more money for ‘the same game with more characters.’ I have to say – this is still pretty hilarious. If anything it betrays how ignorant these guys are about how arcade games are developed and iteratively improved.

Oh well, perhaps they can’t tell the difference between one revision of GGXX and the next, but the actual players can, and that’s all that matters, really. The fewer flowchart Kens we have to deal with online, the better.

No comments

Well that was unexpected

So apparently the downtown Gameworks got KOF XII and BlazBlue machines last week.

I guess I’ll be going downtown to get my ass kicked this weekend…

2 comments

How not to port an arcade game

Suggoi! Arcana Heart 2 gets put through the blender en route to PS2

I was under the impression that the era of lousy ports was behind us. Apparently I was wrong.

(By the way, it’s not just graphical problems – there’s apparently lag as well)

In other news, I was playing some KOF’98 Ultimate Match on my PS3 today and it locked up when I tried to exit the game. Turning it off and restarting it basically yields…nothing. Looks like it’s bricked.

I wonder how annoying Sony’s repair process is…

4 comments

Gaming odds and ends

This post might be a little disjointed – I’ve been playing a bunch of games recently and thought I’d just pen down my thoughts in one single post since I don’t really want to write five separate posts in one night.

Team Fortress 2

Valve has patched the game twice since the Scout update, yet the Sandman remains unfixed (although they did manage to break rocket jumping while trying to fix an exploit that made it harder for Snipers to get headshots, and they did break Natascha’s slowdown effect yet again). I’ve played in a few big games since the update, and I’d say the stun is overpowered even if you discount the fact that it affects ubercharges. I have not yet seen a single Scout that doesn’t try to tag me with the ball the moment I see them, and in a few circumstances they’ve managed to stun me for extended periods at close range, allowing them a free kill. One particular incident that comes to mind occurred on the second point of the second stage of Dustbowl – I was playing Soldier and standing on the point when a Scout ran out from the central tunnel, ran up to the point and threw his ball at me. I was stunned for a good 3 seconds or so, and this was from being tagged at close range.

The response from the competitive community has been very clear. CEVO has banned the Sandman, and from what I’ve heard a bunch of the other leagues like ETF2L have followed suit. Keep in mind that this is the first unlockable weapon that they’ve actually banned. If I recall correctly they didn’t even ban the Pyro’s Backburner back when it granted a ridiculous 50-point health bonus.

The response from the rest of the TF2 community has been less distinct. While there are a few players who recognise that the weapon is clearly overpowered, the vast majority of the community’s response has been ‘LOL LERN2TEAMWORK.’ By this they’re implying that somehow Pyros need to have their entire team with them when they try to circle behind enemy lines to attempt an ambush, so that they can successfully fend off a class that they were previously on a reasonably even footing against. And of course, if your Medic successfully builds up an ubercharge by being a good healer and deploys it on a friendly Demoman in order to take out a Sentry farm, only to have his uber rendered useless by a flying baseball, that’s his fault for not being a team player.

Surely the absurdity is obvious.

I’m hoping that, like they did with the Backburner, Valve will realise what a terrible beast they’ve unleashed and make some sort of fix. A popular suggestion seems to be to change the stun effect to something akin to the effect of Team Fortress Classic’s concussion grenades, but honestly I think they need to go back to the drawing board with this unlock. Never mind that there are a few achievements that depend on it – go back to the design phase and get it right this time. And for God’s sake stop getting your unlock ideas from the Steam forums.

I’m starting to wonder if I should be playing Fortress Forever instead…

Lost Planet

This was recently on sale on Steam for the irresistable price of $5. I’d only ever played the demo previous to this, and I thought it was alright, so I decided to see what the full game was like (even though the superior Colonies Edition is out now). I’ve played the first few missions, and it’s not too bad. I can’t quite get 60fps out of it, but shooting up giant bugs in snowy wastelands is pretty fun. My main complaints so far are that the game is kind of easy (I haven’t died once yet) and that Wayne’s default movement speed is a little on the slow side, even when he’s piloting one of the giant VS mechs. I guess I’ll see if these continue to be problems as I progress through the game.

Still, this has me interested in the recently-announced sequel – I wonder what improvements Capcom will bring to the table.

King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match

I started playing KOF (and indeed, fighting games) with King of Fighters ‘99, but I respect KOF’98’s place in the order of things. Given that disclaimer, I rather like ‘98UM. It doesn’t have most of my favourite characters, but the (remarkably solid) system changes they’ve made to the original game make this a must-buy for any KOF fan, I’d say. Most of the changes they’ve made revolve around making Extra mode more interesting, and it seems to have worked. Extra mode users now benefit from the ability to cancel normals into dodges, and to cancel certain special attacks directly into MAX mode. On top of that they can choose when they want to break stock unlike vanilla ‘98 where the bar started draining as soon as it filled up.

In addition, the new Ultimate mode, which allows you to mix-and-match subsystems from both modes, poses some interesting possibilities. Do you want the mobility afforded by the roll, or will you trade that for the ability to dodge and quickly counterattack (and extend your combos using the quick dodge)? Do you want the ability to do SDMs at any life level, or would you rather have the ability to max out in mid-combo for the possibility of turning your otherwise staid B&B combo into a more damaging variant?

As for the quality of the port itself, fortunately the US version of the game seems to have turned out pretty well – progressive scan support is intact, and as far as I can tell the game has been brought over more or less unmolested, which should be a relief for anyone who was horrified by Ignition’s handling of the PAL versions of King of Fighters XI and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.

So yeah, if you don’t have the import version already, go out and get this one. It’s $20 – you really have no excuse if you claim to be a KOF fan.

Street Fighter IV

I’m still getting used to the physics and timings, but at the very least my win ratio seems to have improved a little (in that it is no longer zero). My MadCatz Tournament Edition FightStick arrived two weeks late, but I used the Amazon gift certificate I was given as compensation to buy a PS2->PS3 controller adapter so I could use my old Tekken 5 Hori stick with the game until it arrived (makes me wonder why I didn’t do it earlier, actually). So far I’ve mainly been sticking to Ryu and Abel, with some failed attempts at using Fei Long and Dhalsim (both of whom apparently have a pretty steep learning curve). I’ve played a few games online, mainly against Orochinagi members; I’ve played a few random strangers, although I haven’t run into any of the Ken players of legend. I suppose I should be thankful.

On a side note, the MadCatz stick doesn’t work for PS2 games. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, as this was also the case for the Sega Virtua Stick and the Hori PS3 sticks when they were released. The best I can hope for is for support to be added in the next PS3 firmware update, I guess.

BlazBlue

Now, I haven’t actually had a chance to play this game yet, but PS3 and 360 ports were announced recently. A lot of fighter fans are understandably excited about this, but a potential issue with the port has already been raised. The arcade version of BlazBlue runs at 1280×768/768p, while both current-generation consoles are locked to outputting at 1280×720/720p (and indeed, won’t let you play the game at its native resolution). The full extent of the problem is laid out pretty clearly over at the Insomnia forums.

In short, it looks like the great sprites and backgrounds are in danger of being butchered by scaling. If the blurry upscaled sprites in all of SNK Playmore’s Atomiswave releases bugged you, well, this is just as bad. Possibly worse, since it’s one of the first high-definition 2D fighters, and really deserves more respect.

At this point, given that ArcSys can’t go back in time and re-program the game to output 720p in the first place, the only real thing they can do is to crop 48 lines from the top and bottom of the display to avoid affecting the sprites. This is what they seem to have done, but the screenshots still lack the definition of the arcade version. A rep from Aksys (the company handling the US release) has gone on the record as saying that apparently the screenshots they released of the 360 and PS3 versions were smaller in size to make them ‘download friendly’. This just seems ridiculous to me, given that stuff like this is typically distributed through special press FTP servers where presumably bandwidth wouldn’t be a concern.

We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but I am rather worried that we’ll end up getting a butchered port of one of the first high-def 2D fighters.

4 comments

More Sonic Unleashed stuff

I’ve more or less gotten everything I can out of the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed – I haven’t gotten all the medals, but I have pretty much S-ranked every stage (a few Werehog stages being the exception), so I think I can set it aside.

That said, the first thing I did after getting back from Singapore (literally the first thing – just a few minutes after I walked in the door) was download the demo for the PS3 version. I’ve taken it for a few spins since then (I’ve A-ranked it at least) and I have some…thoughts.

The game does look rather nice in terms of lighting, modeling and texture quality, but the PS3 version has a few hitches – for one, the framerate is rather inconsistent. Unlike the framerate-locked 360 version, the framerate on the PS3 version can go from 30 to 60 in an instant. On the one hand this is kind of annoying since it kills the sensation of speed that you get…on the other hand it means that someone at Sega has finally figured out how to program a variable framerate engine! Not that I’d want to be licensing it to anyone, given how crappily it seems to run on the PS3…

The game itself is a little uneven. The controls are somewhat floatier than the Wii version for some reason – they’re not as bad as the ‘twitch and fall off a cliff’ controls in Sonic Heroes and Sonic 2006, though. The demo only contains one level – the first level, Windmill Isle. The PS3/360 version of this stage is rather straightforward and linear compared to the Wii version, which has at least 3 alternate routes through the stage that I can think of. The stage also feels very cramped, and this affects the game to some degree, in that you can’t really see what’s coming up ahead of you. In that respect it’s somewhat disappointing.

As I already knew, the boost system in the PS3/360 version is plucked straight out of Sonic Rush, so you can hold down X as long as you like to continue speeding through the stage. There are a few obstacles placed in the stage to prevent you from doing this, like spike traps, bumps in the road that will trip you up, and, well, walls. The actual amount of platforming you have to do in the first level is rather minimal, but there is some of it.

Overall, I can’t say I was blown away, but at least it wasn’t awful like I was expecting it to be. That said, I have no idea how the later levels are (some people have told me that they’re significantly more challenging, although I have yet to verify this), and of course the demo contains none of the Werehog levels, town missions or any of that other stuff which most people regard as a drag on the whole experience. I’ll probably seek out the PS3 version when it’s down to $30 or less (right now it’s still full price at Amazon.com).


On another note, in the comments on my last entry Neochaos just pointed out something interesting to me regarding Street Fighter 4 – the game will in fact feature a full-featured training mode, and from this article it sounds like it’s very much in the vein of Virtua Fighter 4′s excellent Training Mode on PS2.

I stand by my earlier point that the game itself is not made more accessible to newbies by removing stuff like parries, but extra modes like this can help them deal with the learning curve somewhat. It won’t eliminate it, but it should at least show them what they need to master.

2 comments

My blog looks really squashed up at 1024×768

Vancouver is pretty gloomy this time of the year. I haven’t seen a single patch of sky yet.

I got to the embassy 30 minutes earlier than my appointment time but there was already a queue waiting for me. All things considered, it was a fairly anticlimatic experience; a 40-minute wait in a queue followed by a 20 minute wait to have my fingerprints taken, concluding with an uneventful interview. I was told my passport would be ready to be picked up the next day.

I met Oro for lunch after finishing up at the embassy, and had what I can only describe as a fun afternoon. After lunch he took me by train to an arcade located in the suburbs, where I finally got to play King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match. Needless to say, I really liked it. I got my ass kicked a whole bunch (mostly by a pretty good O.Yashiro/Rugal/EX Yamazaki player), but it was fun. It’s been ages since I stepped into a real arcade (2006 was the last time I stepped into Einstein’s in Austin), and it was awesome.

They also had a couple of Street Fighter IV cabs, and rather amusingly a Sengoku Basara X cab (which was naturally deserted). I didn’t try either of them, but SF4 looks pretty smooth in motion.

Tomorrow I hope to do a bit of sightseeing before picking up my passport. I wonder if the pub downstairs will be having an election night special or something…

(Oh, and the post title? I’m typing this from my old (circa 2004) laptop whose native res is 1024×768…the lowest resolution in which my blog is even readable)

No comments