tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Holiday Steam sales will be the end of me

Here’s what I picked up, during both the Thanksgiving and Christmas sales on Steam:

  • Mirror’s Edge (already beaten – they weren’t kidding when they said this was a short game)
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
  • Prince of Persia (the new one)
  • Crysis Maximum Edition
  • Torchlight
  • Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition

Backlog doubled, just like that :(

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I keep forgetting to update this thing

I haven’t been updating because of some real-life issues I’ve been having that I’d rather not go into here. That said, here’s what’s been going on with me:

  • Added some more titles to my backlog thanks to Steam holiday sales: Mirror’s Edge and the last two titles of the PoP trilogy (as well as the newest one).
  • Immediately removed Mirror’s Edge from my backlog because I beat it in 3 days
  • Removed Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword from my list after beating it over Thanksgiving weekend.

More significantly, I upgraded my PC pretty much as far as I think I can take it – swapped out my old Core 2 Duo E6750 for a Core 2 Quad Q9650, which is about as fast as I can take it without buying one of the ridiculously priced Core 2 Extreme models. More cores certainly make a huge difference in games like Left 4 Dead 2, and to a lesser extent in Team Fortress 2. I also replaced my 8800GTS 512 with a GTX275, which has helped with some of the more graphic intensive games that I’m still working through (like Lost Planet). I also needed a new power supply for the new card, so I grabbed a simple 650W Antec one.

Just those three parts set me back a fair amount, so much so that I think my next ‘upgrade’ will probably involve just building a new box so I can get in on all the awesome i5/i7 action.

That said, I’m tempted to download the Crysis demo again to see how well these new parts hold up.


Is today “reveal crappy games day” or something?

Capcom and Konami appear to think that it is.

First off, Megaman 9. Let’s start off with a disclaimer – I’m not a Mega Man fan. My experience with the franchise is limited to a few minutes with Megaman X and Megaman Zero 2. That said, MM9 has me somewhat dumbstruck. It’s not that it’s a 2D sidescroller (that isn’t an issue at all, and in fact is probably a good move to appeal to Megaman fans). What I take issue with is this:

Mega Man 9 eschews the style of the more recent PlayStation-era Mega Man 8 or even the SNES Mega Man 7, instead going all the way back to 8-bit visuals, imitating the style of the NES games. Series creator Keiji Inafune commented that old-school Mega Man games don’t “fit into the grandiose and expansive world that the consumer gaming industry has become, and so you have to make games that match the current expectations.” This helped determine the game’s direction as a retro-style downloadable title for the WiiWare service.

2D is one thing, but the last thing I expected Capcom to do was take a leaf out of SNK’s book and completely recycle old assets. Actually, even that comparision isn’t appropriate any more, seeing what SNK is doing with King of Fighters XII. Yes, the old Megaman games are revered as classics, but if anything they are loved because they were good games, not because they used art from the 8-bit era! All this seems to be is another cheap attempt to cash in on fan nostalgia (see Street Fighter IV) by completely missing the point of why people love these games in the first place.

If they’re going to put it on a modern console, why not go all out and make a game with state-of-the-art 2D graphics that still stays true to the Megaman legacy? Heaven knows.

On top of that, it looks like Konami saw the announcement and decided to one-up them with their announcement of Castlevania Judgement for the Wii. The game is (of all things) a 3D fighter with motion controls.

I don’t know why Konami thought that Castlevania was great fodder for a fighting game. The system snippets in the article suggest that the game will play exactly like the main games, with heart meters and sub-weapons, but in a 1-on-1 format, which sounds strange. Still, it may be doable. The main reason I’m panning this announcement is the fact that the game uses motion controls.

I cannot think of a single fighting game on the Wii that has benefited from motion controls. Bleach: Shattered Blade is a shallow waggle-fest. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core has motion controls but no-one with any sense will use them. And the flagship fighting game on the Wii, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, eschews them entirely. The precision and timing that such games demand from their players means that control is of paramount importance (which is why any fighting game player will always insist on using an arcade stick). After about 9 months of using the Wii, I can safely say that the Wii remote does not have the necessary control. Games like Sonic and the Secret Rings suffer because of this, particularly on the later levels where it demands split-second reaction from the player.

If Konami knows what they’re doing, they will provide a classic controller option.

There was also that Ubisoft announcement of that new Prince of Persia platformer for the DS which inexplicably uses a chibi art style, but I don’t really consider that to be on the same level as these two dumbfounding announcements (although I think it’s probably just as unimpressive at this point).


The list of doom, June Edition

Here’s the original list.

Games that have been knocked off the list due to completion:

  • Psychonauts – I didn’t get all the scavenger hunt items, etc, but I was level 50 by the time I hit the final boss, and he didn’t give me much trouble.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Excellent game, but that final boss was far less challenging than the platforming area that led up to him.

Updated progress for the remaining items:

  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition – No progress made. Haven’t touched my PS2 in a while, actually.
  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition – Mission 5-2. @#%@ Regenerators.
  • Zack & Wiki – No progress made. I don’t expect any will be made for a while, actually…
  • Super Mario Galaxy – No progress made. That Luigi purple coin mission is really hard if you just bumrush it without any planning (like I tend to do)
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams – Finished the main story on both sides (not that it was hard, there being only 3 levels on each side and a common final level + boss fight). But I always try to play platformers to completion, so my next target is A-ranking everything. Yes, that includes that music mission in Memory Forest, a mission whose designer really needs to be shot.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – I, uh, played a few more turns of mission 13. Still haven’t beaten it.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure – I’ve been doing more time attack runs than Sol Emerald hunting, if you get my drift.

New entries on the list:

  • Mass Effect – Level 20, just picked up Liara T’Soni. I’m playing as a Soldier, and will be going for a Paragon rating, like the goody-two-shoes that I am.
  • Beyond Good & Evil – I actually haven’t gotten very far in this game because of a weird bug that causes my framerate to drop like a stone when I’m in the overworld. Just to remind you all, this is a 2003 game having problems running on a 2006 video card.

Some clarification as to aforementioned spastic monkeys

Since you’ve had to stare at my three-line essay for about three days now, I figured I should explain my position in more detail :P

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of the games on my backlog is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the 2003 reimagining of Jordan Mechner’s classic platformer. At the time, my completion rate was 65%; since then, I’ve reached 81% completion, and the game hasn’t lost its lustre yet…except for one problem which you might have been able to infer from my previous post – that the camera is incredibly dodgy.

Most of the time, when you’re running on walls, making death-defying leaps and swinging on poles, it works perfectly, and maintains the perfect angle for you to see what you’re getting yourself into. However, during combat, it takes an incredibly inconvenient angle, moving around jerkily, pivoting 180 degrees for no reason and generally behaving like a douche. This is a problem not only because camera orientation determines your control mapping, but also because it changes your field of view, meaning that I can’t see the huge guy with the scimitar just so slightly off screen who’s about to leap over and tear me a new one.

Exacerbating the problem in this particular case is the fact that you need to protect someone while on this elevator, someone whom the camera excels at keeping out of my field of vision. I don’t know what the general consensus on escort or protection missions in most games is, but based on my experience here and in Resident Evil 4, I would say that they need to take a flying leap off a bridge. The so-called “artificial intelligence” is terrible at keeping itself out of trouble, and in the case of Prince of Persia, said character’s inability to keep herself alive forces me to remain nearby, in a walled-off area of the elevator, eminently suitable for all the enemies to gang up and introduce me to their little friends, simultaneously.

The combat itself is functional, if rather bland, but the camera has proved to be the source of much of my frustration so far. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up putting me off completing the game altogether.

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The list of doom

Some of you know that I have a pretty sizeable gaming backlog. A lot of it is games that I want to play but haven’t gotten around to buying yet (Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection is currently #1 on that list), but there’s also a pretty big backlog of stuff that I own but I haven’t gotten around to finishing yet:

  • Psychonauts (I put some effort into beating it this past weekend, and finally reached the endgame…I had to skip a lot of optional stuff to do it though)
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (I’m at about 60% completion)
  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (level 15, right after beating Vergil for the second time)
  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (mission 3-1…which is proving to be annoyingly long. Oh, and I have almost no ammo left)
  • Zack & Wiki (the last puzzle is so ridiculously hard)
  • Super Mario Galaxy (technically I’ve ‘beaten’ this game already, but I need to get one…last…star!)
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (2 levels in on each side)
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (I’m on mission 13 of the campaign but for some reason I can’t bring myself to finish it)
  • Sonic Rush Adventure (Blaze’ last Sol Emerald is giving me trouble)

This is not a state of affairs that I’m particularly happy with, given that there are other high-profile releases coming up that I’d like to devote my time to…in particular Mass Effect drops at the end of the month, and the PC version of Devil May Cry 4 arrives next month.

So much gaming to do, so little time :(

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