By this point in time I had well expected to have finished Xenoblade Chronicles. Yet, I’m just shy of the 90 hour mark and the end still isn’t quite in sight. Whether its raising the morale of my party members, helping out NPC’s or simply exploring the beautiful scenery, there is just so much to do.
The Last Story was a welcome return to form for traditional Japanese RPG’s but this is something else entirely. It’s been a very long time since a JRPG has captured my imagination quite like this. The locations, art design and soundtrack all come together to produce something truly special.
Sure the voice acting is god awful in places, the graphics are held back by the Wii’s hardware and it can be a little buggy in places but frankly; Who gives a shit?
What this game does get right is quite literally everything else and affords itself a mention alongside Final Fantasy VI, VII and Chrono Trigger as one of the best JRPG’s ever made.
I’ll leave you with a couple of tracks from the soundtrack; One is a recurring battle theme and another from around the 90 hour mark on my play through.
For the past month I’ve been putting in some time with Yun on Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition ver 2012 (catchy title eh?). With most players opinion rooted firmly in the “Yun is garbage now” bracket I feel compelled to say I do not agree at all.
MP is still a really powerful button for Yun. It leads to meter-less bnb’s, tons of damage with Genei Jin stocked, frame traps for those that press buttons as well as the fact both stMP and crMP can both anti air fairly consistently. Crouching MK is underrated, excellent range and very quick, with just about all of the combo ending possibilities of stMP.
In terms of his command throw nerfs, it was certainly easier to land the damn thing in Vanilla AE, yet at the same time its all up to the Yun player to apply enough pressure and make a good read as to know when your opponent will block. If you ask me Yun doesn’t deserve a command throw in the first place (neither does Fei Long for that matter), so the fact its not as good as before is neither here or there for me. Just appreciate its ANOTHER mix up opportunity leading to damage.
The Dive Kick nerf brings perhaps the biggest change to Yuns overall playstyle. Yun can’t get away with mindlessly jumping and dive kicking any more and I’m all for it. The risk/reward of going for a dive kick, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you’ve spaced it just right is perhaps the most fun aspect of the character now.
The one nerf I find a little irritating is the MP, HP, B+HP target combo. More specifically how unsafe the second hit is now on block. I agree that after the third hit it should be easily punishable, especially since its the go to set up for the Genei Jin. If though you confirm that its blocked and stop the combo I feel that being -6 is a little severe. Its only a very slight annoyance though.
When in full flow Yun still comes across as a powerhouse of a character, yet in 2012 it takes more than just stupid frame data and ridiculous hitboxes to make it come together.
All in all I find Yun so much more fun to play now. Games I win feel earned as opposed to being stupidly easy.
I wouldn’t call him anything more than mid tier but to say he’s clean bottom is nothing but ignorance.
Back in the good old 90’s, Japanese RPG’s were all the rage. Whether 2D action RPG’s like Secret of Mana or 3D titles like Final Fantasy VII, the genre was the spearhead for graphical and narrative innovation.
Fast forward to 2012 and the gaming landscape is vastly different. What was once a meadow of creativity and exploration has given way to pointlessly overwritten stories, awful characters and poor battle systems. Yet it seems the genre isn’t quite devoid of hope just yet.
I’ve spent the last two weeks playing (and finishing) The Last Story. An action JRPG for the Wii directed by Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi.
The game plays an interesting balancing act of dividing the Wii’s horsepower between rendering well designed environments and making those environments interactive. For the most part this works well, such as being able to trip up obnoxious guards or walk into low hanging signs. Although I do wish the game was a little bit more colourful in places. Amongst its other positives, the game feels completely filler free. Every new area serves a purpose and overall I was left feeling the story was well paced, if a little slow in the final third. Also noteworthy is the games excellent battle system. Keeping me thoroughly entertained for my 20 hour playthrough. It feels fresh, deep and most importantly fun as all hell.
Negatives? I was certainly disappointed at the lack of being able to explore outside of Lazilus Island (the game’s hub town). Whilst the town is incredibly detailed with loads of side-quests and interesting diversions I found it hard to care about a land most of which I never got the chance to grow attached to. This coupled with the uninspired vocal performance of the protagonist and the questionable motives of one of your party members is thankfully about as bad as it ever gets.
Overall an excellent game that feels a long time coming, not just for me personally but for the genre as a whole. For all its shortcomings its not afraid to break the traditions which have long held this genre back. I really hope this game gets a Final Fantasy style sequel in the future as I’d love to see what could be done with more powerful hardware.
But that’s not the only JRPG I’ve been playing.
I’ve spent the last couple of days since finishing The Last Story on Xenoblade Chronicles. I want to try and reserve myself and not completely gush over this game, but…
It’s the second coming of Jesus Christ. Stunning environments, amazing soundtrack, great battle system (although I still prefer The Last Story’s), stupid amounts of side quests. This game literally has everything. Not only the best Japanese RPG of this generation hands down, but at 19 hours in its also one of the best games I’ve ever played. No seriously, its that good.
So about a month ago the laser on my Xbox 360’s disc drive failed. In the time since I’ve tried to distance myself as much as I can from the console as it just makes me fucking pissed. On the down side I haven’t been able to play any Street Fighter X Tekken and haven’t tried the online sound patch released this week or the new free colours for customising your characters.
What has brought me back to the 360 has been the release of Skullgirls and Fez.
Skullgirls is an indie 2D fighter created by tournament player Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont with a very distinct art style and hand drawn graphics. It apparently has more frames of animation than Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, which is bloody impressive. The online infrastructure is based on the GGPO netcode and whilst there are no lobbies it works excellently.
I’ve been getting my head kicked non-stop when I’ve ventured online, the game seems to play like a cross between BlazBlue and Marvel Vs Capcom 2, two games I’m terrible at so no surprises there. It’s very fun though and presents a nice change of pace from Capcom’s 2.5D fighters.
I also really like the character selection theme, reminds me of the 90’s in terms of game soundtracks.
The game feels a little bare bones though with only eight fighters (future DLC characters have been hinted at depending on the games success) however it must be said that each fighter is truly unique and interesting in their own way.
The game also feels as if it lacks a certain amount of polish. For example there is no in game list of each characters special/super moves. The game also suffers from frequent and irritatingly long loading screens. The games training mode also feels rushed. Whilst there’s two different kinds of hitbox you can view (simple or advanced) and an incredibly useful hitstun bar the game lacks an input display or the ability to record inputs for the 2P character. It must be said though that the lack of polish only really shows up in the games menu’s/navigation. The gameplay itself feels smooth and the controls responsive.
Overall I would recommend this game to anyone who’s got experience with 2D fighters. The game does feature a robust tutorial for educating new players but make no mistake this is a fighter for fighting game fans. It doesn’t bend over backwards to make itself accessible although as much as I compared the games earlier I feel its easier to get in to than either BlazBlue or Marvel vs Capcom 2.
Here’s hoping the game does well enough to get some new characters, a patch for the loading times too would be a godsend.
I haven’t bought Fez yet but this is a game I will definitely buy. This game looks really special I can’t wait to finally get my hands on it.
Instead of trying to describe it in words, this is the games trailer. I am literally shitting bricks over this game.
Capcom’s many series of 2D fighting games are well known to be the industry standard in terms of graphics, gameplay mechanics and presentation. I feel though that the music for these games often doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves, especially when compared to other more lauded video game soundtracks such as the Final Fantasy series
The idea of each fighter having their own theme paired with character specific stages was the first of its kind in 1991 and has been used by nearly every fighting game since (not just Capcom fighters either).
Whilst the meme “Guile’s theme goes with everything" has become popular over the past few years, I want to highlight some of the less appreciated tracks. I will choose also what I feel is the best version of a particular song, as the music changes radically between CPS1 and CPS2 hardware.
So here is the list of what I consider to be the best, underrated tracks from Capcom’s illustrious history. Listed in the order of the games release.
Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo
Theme of Blanka
Theme of Akuma (This track doesn’t exist in the original ST, this is a remix of his Alpha series theme performed on the CPS2 hardware for SF2: Anniversary Edition)
Theme of Zangief
Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo HD Remix
Theme of Cammy (I had a hard choice between this remix and her original ST theme, this time the remix won me over)
Theme of Balrog (I love this remix, it adds so much to the original track its staggering)
Theme of Sagat
Street Fighter Alpha Series
The problem with the Alpha series isn’t so much that the underlying music isn’t any good, it’s that I don’t like the overall feel of the soundtrack. As such these themes have all been taken from Super Puzzle Fighter 2: Turbo which uses the Alpha 2 themes except they all sound better. Unfortunately Rose isn’t playable in Puzzle Fighter as such her theme is absent from this list.
Theme of Ryu
Theme of Ken
Theme of Sakura
Theme of Dan
Street Fighter 3: Third Strike
Attract Mode/Title Screen theme
Jazzy NYC - Theme of Alex/Ken
KOBU - Theme of Ryu
Spunky - Theme of Makoto
You Blow My Mind - Theme of Dudley
Crowded Street - Theme of Yun/Yang
Psyche Out - Theme of Gill
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Theme of Nova
Street Fighter X Tekken
Mad Gear Hideout: Round 2 (Final Fight remix)
For convenience here is a YouTube playlist. Enjoy!
NB: As much as I dislike SFxT it was “Mad Gear Hideout - Round 2” which initially gave me the idea of writing this, so the game is not all bad I guess…
EVO is the world cup of fighting games. It takes place annually in Las Vegas and last year saw the very first appearance of Mortal Kombat at the prestigious tournament.
These games were played straight after the Bob Tekken 6 finals and are really entertaining to watch. Even if you aren’t familiar with the game (hell I don’t even know exactly what is going on half the time) the commentators do an excellent job of not alienating the audience.
One of the commentators also so happens to be Aris. The guy who got caught looking like a fucking idiot in the recent sexual harassment debacle.
This was also the only game at EVO 2011 which had 8 different characters played in the top 8.
Capcom's idea of a joke. And I'm not fucking laughing.
I am a fighting game fan from South East London. I don’t have a local “scene”, there are no local arcades. I am completely dependant on Capcom implementing top notch netcode in order for me to play online.
When learning to play a fighting game you develop muscle memory in your fingers which allows you to reproduce those movements on reaction. Its this muscle memory that allows fighting game players to execute complicated combos which require specific timing.
Take for example a one frame link in Super Street Fighter 4. Once the first attack has hit your opponent you have a window of 1/60th of a second to follow up with the correct button (as SSF4 runs at 60fps) for those two attacks to combo. That is some incredible accuracy.
So when you are required to invest time to learn a fighting game, its infuriating to go online and find netcode as bad as Street Fighter X Tekkens. Characters teleport from position to position, frames of animation drop, the characters voices cut out when performing special moves and the sound effects of your attacks hitting your opponent also cut out intermittently.
Whilst you have to be realistic and say that not all lag is the fault of bad netcode (your sister watching Lady Gaga on YouTube is not going to help you hit those links bro), the sound cutting out makes it next to impossible to adjust to the lag. You might as well be sitting there smashing your face on the arcade stick, as all the wonderful intricate setups you’ve practised in training mode all go to shit.
This week, I are mostly been playing: Metroid: Zero Mission and Super Metroid
After running out of Xbox Live Gold earlier in the week I’ve not been playing Street Fighter X Tekken at all. I just don’t feel compelled to play. Maybe its the really stupid netcode, lack of 2 player local co-op online on the 360 version (even though other games allow you to do it), the irritating infinite combos or just the fact there is on disc DLC.
It all leaves a sour taste in the mouth to be honest.
A discussion I saw on Kotaku a few days ago relating to the issue of your right to hack your handheld console vs the right of manufactures to protect their products.
Whilst long, its very informative. Credit to Odin and Shinta for making this so brilliantly entertaining to read.
The cognitive dissonance on display is staggering.
"I spend all my free time trying to hack Vita, but Sony’s reaction to piracy is over the top."
"I announced that I hacked because of a certain PSP game. It’s really sad that some consumers won’t be able to play that game now."
I could keep going, but ugh. To think that we all missed out on so many wonderful Japanese PSP games because people like this guy want to get a rush because their screen says “hello world.” So sad.
You know computers can be used to crack handhelds! Maybe we should ban those too! And the internet, did you know there’s many sites on the internet that can be used to download pirated content? We should shut those down, long live SOPA!
Don’t blame the tools, blame the people that misuse them. If I buy something then I own it, and if I want to hack it then that’s my right. It’s not up to Sony to decree what I can and cannot do with my own freaking property.
But hey if you want to forfeit all your rights just for the sake of a few import titles then be my guest.
I will eventually get back to updating this blog fairly regularly, the problem over the past week or so has been Street Fighter X Tekken. I managed to get myself a copy on Tuesday (3 days before release) so much of my time has gone into that.
In terms of what I’ve got waiting but haven’t had the chance to post:
Street Fighter X Tekken. My thoughts on the games new systems, how the Tekken characters translate to a 2D setting and my thoughts on the games netcode.
Argument over hacking, consumer rights, cinemas on fire and cars without break lights. Or in more conventional terms: Sony’s right to protect their hardware against hackers Vs. Your right to do what you will with your property. A conversation I caught on Kotaku which eventually descends into a bitchfest of abstract analogies and Maddox style combacks. A must read.
Game/Gamestation. Consider the prospect that in a few months from now, in the UK there may no longer be a high street store devoted solely to video games. Fuck that.
I’ll try to get as much of this done as soon as I can but honestly, SFxT is just too sick.
In The Bar from Streets of Rage 2 remixed by Desk.
This guy is brilliantly talented. He creates excellent Street Fighter combo videos demonstrating brilliant execution as well as being a musician. Currently performing in the Japanese/UK fusion band Project Dolphin. Really worth checking out.
Gaming on Facebook is big. Really big. According to a Kotaku story posted earlier;
"At the end of 2010, about 50 percent of Facebook’s monthly active users (MAUs) were gamers."
With a total user base of 500 million active accounts, that makes 250 million gamers. To put that into perspective, that is more gamers on a monthly basis than the total worldwide sales of the SNES, N64, Gamecube and Wii combined. Yes seriously.
Yet despite the ever growing number of users, the growth of Facebook gaming has stalled for the first time since its inception.
Why? The underlying problem is that Facebook games have become part of the flood-the-market-til-it-gags-itself-to-death routine, while attracting a disloyal user base that’ll ditch you as quickly as they left someone else to come to you.
The market has become over saturated with cheap shallow garbage that reeks of a lack of imagination and dispassionate money grabbing developers interested only in making a quick buck. After the initial glee of being able to one up your friends then badger said friends with irritating updates fades, your average Facebook gamer will eventually move on to whatever the next big trend is.
Unless Facebook game developers can start putting some soul into their “products”, I can only see “stall” turning into “decline”. Going eventually the same way as Guitar Hero or Tony Hawks Pro Skater. Fucked.
In the summer of 1992, a group of ex Konami employees founded Treasure Co, Ltd with the ideal of creating fun, innovative games without being restricted by sequels or “clones” of existing titles. Known for their inventive game mechanics, stunning 2D graphics and massive explosions, Treasure have achieved a cult-like status amongst the older generation of gamers.
Whilst Treasure developed many brilliant games dating back to the 16bit era, Radiant Silvergun is undoubtedly the companies most acknowledged title. As such, I want to focus attention on just my favourites.
Radiant Silvergun is fucking awesome. Need I say more?
Gunstar Heroes (Sega Megadrive - 1993, Available on XBLA/PSN/iOS)
Released in 1993, Gunstar Heroes was one of the most visually impressive games of the 16bit era. Enemies explode into balls of fire when defeated, multiple-sprite bosses allowing for super smooth animation was jaw dropping for its time.
The gameplay isn’t shallow either. The controls are precise and with an arsenal of 14 different weapons plus a sliding melee attack and the ability to throw opponents, Gunstar Heroes is a fantastically varied and chaotic experience. Also, unlike other genre heavyweights such as Contra or Metal Slug, Gunstar Heroes is made brilliantly accessible by the use of a health system, affording you many mistakes before loosing a life. In addition the game also includes unlimited continues, meaning anyone with patience could eventually finish this. A classic of the Megadrive library.
Guardian Heroes (Sega Saturn - 1996, Available on XBLA)
Guardian Heroes is a hack and slash, RPG style beat ‘em up released for the Sega Saturn in January 1996. At heart, the game takes the basic gameplay principals of Final Fight and adds several ground-breaking new features.
The game uses an experience system to develop the players chosen character. Each successful hit on an enemy earns you experience points which can then be assigned to any one of six core attributes at the end of each stage.
Guardian Heroes also gives players the choice of how to proceed after every level. This allows for multiple endings based on the players choices as well as multiple bosses. It is possible to play Guardian Heroes multiple times, dramatically influencing the story differently each time.
Guardian Heroes is also remembered for having three active planes of movement on each stage. Designed to resemble moving between the foreground, midground and background the mechanic adds a brilliant level of depth to the gameplay. For instance, being trapped between two powerful enemies and incurring massive damage is a simple matter of changing planes to avoid the hazard.
Add to this a karma meter tracking your positive and negative actions, unlockable characters, beautifully animated hand drawn graphics, a Street Fighter style combo system and a Vs mode for up to 6 players (expanded to 12 with the XBLA release), Guardian Heroes is one of the best beat em ups to never see an arcade release.
Ikaruga (Arcade - 2001, Dreamcast - 2002, Nintendo Gamecube - 2003, Available on XBLA)
Ikaruga was first released on the Sega NAOMI arcade platform in December 2001. After speculation as to whether the game would see a home release, Treasure announced Ikaruga would be published the following September for the Dreamcast in Japan. The game was later released worldwide for the Gamecube in 2003 and later in 2008 for Xbox Live Arcade.
Ikaruga’s primary gameplay mechanic is an innovative idea based around the concept of polarity. Explained simply, your ship has two modes, a white mode and a black mode. Your ship can only be destroyed by bullets of the opposite colour. Whilst bullets of the same colour are collected and charge your alternate weapon, a powerful homing laser which increases in power with the more bullets absorbed. In addition, shooting ships of the opposite colour causes double damage. Add to this a system whereby destroying three enemies of the same polarity counts as a “chain” granting a point bonus, Ikaruga is a deep experience that is easy to pick up yet very difficult to master.
Whilst the difficulty will certainly alienate some gamers, for those with perseverance Ikaruga is massively rewarding. With an array of stunning enemy design and literally quite beautiful bullet patterns, the game is a spectacle to behold especially when played proficiently. The games end of stage boss battles are another highlight. Without spoiling it for those that have never had the pleasure, the final boss is a personal favourite of mine and caps off perfectly one of the best arcade games made in the 00’s