tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

A (Fighting) Game of Thrones

Some, if not all of you are probably watching HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy magnum opus A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones). I, being the poser/purist that I am, have been reading the books instead, mainly so that I can read the original story and then complain about how the TV adaptation screwed everything up. I’m enjoying it so far, and I’m about 25% of the way through the last book that has been published (A Dance with Dragons).

And then, I came across this little image on DeviantART:


Which got me thinking about whether Game of Thrones would make good fodder for a fighting game or not.

(WARNING – There will be some minor spoilers for those who haven’t read the books, or for anyone who’s only been watching the HBO series. So be forewarned)

It goes without saying that combat figures heavily in the story, although it tends to be of the army vs. army variety rather than one-on-one. In addition, while there are a few characters who use signature weapons, there really aren’t anything in the way of ‘signature moves’ like you might expect in your average shounen manga. There are also plenty of characters who wouldn’t wield a weapon for any reason (like perhaps 90% of the female cast), so clearly some improvisation will be necessary.

That said, I do think of some characters that might work in a fighting game setting, although with how those characters might end up playing. Here are a few of my ideas so far:

  • Robb Stark – a straightforward character who uses ice-based attacks (I know he doesn’t use Ice, shut up) and can summon his direwolf Grey Wind to do some attacks for him.
  • Jon Snow – Seemingly cut from the same mould as Robb with a direwolf (Ghost) to match, but tilted a bit more to the defensive side of things. Might help to think of Robb and Jon as the Ryu and Ken of the game, maybe?
  • Brienne of Tarth – a close range character who relies heavily on speed and mixups due to her speed.
  • Hodor – One of the servants of House Stark who carries Bran Stark on his back and somehow manages to be the game’s only grappler. Bran can use his skinchanging ability to take control of Hodor for some of his attacks. (Seriously, I can’t think of anyone else who could fit as a grappler, and even Hodor uses a sword a bunch of times in the books)
  • Gregor Clegane – aka The Mountain. The game’s resident ‘big guy’ who relies on powerful normals and hard-hitting special attacks to dish out damage. His power is of course offset by his speed.
  • Tyrion Lannister – now before you start laughing, I don’t intend for Tyrion to be fighting on his own – cast your mind back to Chang and Choi in CvS2, or even Carl Clover in BlazBlue. The idea here is that Tyrion and his sellsword Bronn are playable as a unit, with each character being able to move independently through special button inputs.
  • Jaime Lannister – couldn’t go without him, obviously, although having him in the game post-hand removal might make for a more interesting play style. Alternatively (or additionally), put in Loras Tyrell so you can go nuts with the flower effects.
  • Melisandre – Fire. Lots of it. The game’s zoning character.
  • Thoros of Myr – More fire. Except this time on a sword. Since Thoros’ gimmick in the books is that he lights his sword on fire to strike fear into his enemies, he might work well as a character with a ‘powerup’ mode where his sword bursts into flames. He might even be able to call on the members of his Brotherhood without Banners like Anguy and Tom Sevenstrings for some of his moves.
  • Either Oberyn Martell or Areo Hotah – the former is seen using a spear in the books, the latter a poleaxe. Either would be well suited to the role of a ranged/poking character a la Billy Kane from Fatal Fury/KOF.

There are some wrinkles – for instance some characters are dead before they would normally have had the chance to meet some of the others on my above roster, and some factions aren’t really that well-represented (Pretty much no-one east of Westeros, for instance). But if anyone has any other ideas, do post them in the comments! Not that I’ll be able to do anything with them…but it might make for some interesting discussion.

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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.

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SNKP, you clowns :(

I don’t think this has been confirmed to be a console-only bug yet, but seriously, with all the crap you left out of this game you still managed to let moronic infinites like this through your playtesting process?!

This game is starting to resemble KOF2003 in more ways than one. Oh well, I guess I needed a coaster for my coffee mug.


This is how much I suck at BlazBlue



More to come.

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I’ll post more thoughts about BlazBlue later

For now, let me just say ‘omg the netcode in this game is really good.’

I just played 5 pretty much lag-free (or lag-really-well-hidden) matches. Lost 4 of them, but I’m a crappy player so that’s to be expected I guess :p

If you have the PS3 version, hit me up with an invite if you see me online. PSN ID is SonicTempest.

And yes, I use Ragna the Sol Badguy.


Incoherent rambling

About time for one of these posts, I think.

I’ve found a new place in downtown Seattle that I’ll be moving to next month. My current complex is honestly not that bad except for two problems:

  1. The ISP choices are terrible (I currently have 1.5Mbps DSL, which is the highest speed available)
  2. There isn’t really much of anything within reasonable walking distance

The new place has a supermarket on the ground floor (yay) and a few restaurants within walking distance. The ISP is Comcast, which may be dubious to some but I’m willing to go through the annoying setup process if it means I get a download rate from this century. The only downside is that I’ll either need to take a bus or a company shuttle to work, but eh, I need to start getting up earlier anyway. Getting all my stuff moved over is going to be a pain though…the number of my possessions has increased considerably since I moved to Seattle.

Speaking of Internet, I braved uTorrent a while back to watch some fansubbed anime, namely the first two episodes of K-On! I like it, but I probably won’t be able to watch the rest of it since BitTorrent basically nukes my connection (for reasons I haven’t figured out yet).

Still waiting for Sony to patch in PS2 support for the Madcatz SF4 sticks…I figure if it doesn’t come within another few patches I may just sell this to buy a HRAP3 (which does work for PS2 games). As it stands I need to use my old Tekken 5 stick over an adapter, and going from the awesome Sanwa joystick + buttons to the decent-ish Hori stick and buttons is…well, it’s like owning a Ferrari and driving a Honda instead, if you get my drift.

Installed iPhone OS 3.0 last week. My phone seems to be a lot more responsive now, so it’s obvious they’ve put some work into performance. I don’t use copy/paste much, but the push notifications have been very handy – I finally installed an IM client (Beejive) on my phone thanks to this new feature. Of course, if the damn thing supported background tasks in the first place this wouldn’t be an issue…

That said, I kind of wish AT&T didn’t want $400 from me for the 3GS. That new camera and faster CPU are really enticing.

I took out my guitar for the first time in months today, and all I can say for now is ‘wtf I suck.’ Hopefully this will change.


“I used to rule the world…”

I could say much about what I think of King of Fighters XII (and indeed, I have, multiple times), but if anything the most telling thing about the game is the complete lack of high-level match videos in spite of the game having come out more than two weeks ago. We got a couple of batches of videos out of Portland where the game first showed up, and a small set of lousy videos off Nicodouga, and since then, nothing.

I mean, even bad games like SvC Chaos and KOF2003 had tons of videos in the weeks immediately after their release. On top of that, if you check the tournaments of places like A-cho, TRF and Game41, there are no KOF XII events scheduled at all (and if you look at TRF they in fact have regular Hokuto no Ken tournaments, and that’s a game that’s basically retarded at high level).

If anything all signs are pointing to a complete lack of interest in the game (moreso than usual for a new KOF game, at least), and part of me can’t help but think that someone at least should have seen that coming.

(Before you ask, I’m still getting the PS3 version along with BlazBlue, if only because they’ll look nice on my HDTV)


I have Street Fighter IV

More coherent thoughts later, but here are some initial impressions:

  1. The physics seem weird, even for a Street Fighter game. I don’t recall having this much trouble timing jump-ins the few times I played Third Strike.
  2. The challenge mode is kind of useful in that it tells you which normals are cancellable, gives you a bunch of combos and links, and has you try to do them. I don’t think it’s as robust as Virtua Fighter 4’s which actually had you practice using your moves/strings in different situations, but the combo lists did help at the very least.
  3. The network features seem pretty robust, only hampered by PSN’s crappy interface for sending invites (it piggybacks on top of the normal instant messaging system).
  4. I’m probably going to take some flak for this, but I’m still not a huge fan of the art style used in-game. It looks polished and all, but some part of me is still wondering what this game might have looked like had it been in 2D.
  5. Having to unlock a third of the roster by slogging through single-player modes that I don’t have much interest in is kind of annoying.

In any case, I’m not really going to be playing online until I get my PS3 stick, which should arrive on Tuesday (playing on the Dual Shock controller is starting to give my right hand cramps). I’ve unlocked everyone except Gouken and Seth by this point, so I’m trying to figure out who I want to learn how to play. I’m thinking Ryu (lol), Abel or Fei Long…


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.


Fancy a kick in the balls?

Sega owns the rights to the Guilty Gear franchise now

So yeah, I guess we know why they made BlazBlue and Battle Fantasia now. Considering that ArcSys’ direct involvement ended with #Reload, it’s amazing that Accent Core turned out the way it did. Then again, as long as ASW gets entrusted with any development of future Guilty Gear games I’m not too worried.

Another nice tidbit from the article that I liked:

The company’s designer for its new hi-res 2D fighting title BlazBlue, Toshimichi Mori, intriguingly discusses his views of Capcom’s Street Fighter IV and its accessibility in the interview:
"I’m not trying to pick a fight with Capcom or anything, but with Street Fighter IV, they made a big deal about how the game was designed to be accessible to people new to the genre.
I remember when I first read that in an interview, I was like, "What? How can they say that?!" I thought maybe I was seeing things. I think they need to take a second look at the list of moves for that game before they make a claim like that.
Sure, people like us who work with games, or fans of fighting games can do a hadouken or a shoryuken without thinking much about it, but for somebody just getting started? Those moves are pretty tough! You can’t expect new players to just whip those moves out every time.
To fill your game with moves like that and then emphasize how simple it was for beginners to pick up seemed irresponsible to me. Street Fighter IV is not a game geared toward people who’ve never played fighters before. If they were really interested in making a beginner-friendly game, they should’ve made included a few impressive moves a player could do with the press of a button."

Mori is pretty much saying the obvious – fighting games that use Street Fighter II as a template cannot get any more accessible than that game ever was (which is something I’ve mentioned before). If you make high-level play more accessible then you’re just dumbing the game down. To make it more accessible to newbies you pretty much have to convert the game to maybe Jump Ultimate Stars or Smash Bros type controls.

Note: before anyone crucifies me for hating on SF4 – I don’t think that the game has necessarily been ‘dumbed down’ – There’s no way that complete neophytes to fighting games are going to be able to pull off stuff like focus cancel combos or hadouken traps on the day they buy the game. And heck, I’m pretty sure at this point that I’m going to be buying the game for my PS3 and/or my PC (along with that potentially awesome Sanwa stick that MadCatz is releasing). My point here is that Yoshinori Ono claimed that SF4 was designed to be accessible to newbies, and beyond superficial appearances (lol SF2 etc) it clearly isn’t (and can’t be).


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