Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dead Space - Downfall (Review)

Recently watched the animated film, via Starz Encore Action. But is it what some were hoping for?

1st - The Animation - Very well put together, from the Film Roman group (mostly known for diverse direction + animations studios).
Overall the visuals of the film are solid, even carrying a comic book type aspect. From human, to creature, or background, top to bottom everything looks as it should (even when its pitch black).

2nd - The story - For those that have played Dead Space (you know what's happened so far). For those that haven't here's a brief summary.. A mining colony is sent to investigate an ancient artifact, only to find that they've awaken monsters from long ago. But once they've tasted flesh, they take over the hosts body only to seek more victims.

Sounds like your typical sci-fi horror flick? Same goes with the characters sadly, tough brash female lead (check), usual amount of crew that will doom each other (check), team that fights to stay alive (and cue the "game over" line) (check)

3rd - The acting - Although this is animated film, it still carries a solid voice acting cast. From well known actors in the industry, to a few surprises. But the lacking part? Most of the dialog is filled to the brim with one liners, and various bits of language (even a whole argument filled with colorful words) **This isn't a hard hitting action flick, its a horror piece.. (seems the screenwriter was a bit too desperate to let out their action adrenaline)

For a lead interlude it delivers enough; that said about the crew that was doomed once they took the monolith. Was Downfall actually needed? Maybe yes & no, its an interesting perspective behind the disaster. Another negative point, is that it does not have characters you really want to connect with. As I've read elsewhere, in-game with Issac is the main motivation. Yet if that was the premise with the film; why not contain the same level of creativity? (besides lots of violence and gore)..

As a stand alone DVD (or blu ray) title, asking for $20 is a bit much. Since most would watch this title once, or twice (if you're really into it that deep). But since there is a collectors edition of the game, it would presume to be more worthwhile (its really up to the viewer).

Overall - Rent it

Monday, August 11, 2008

Examining Sega - another viewpoint

Recently at Gamasutra, an interview with Simon Jeffrey was posted. Noting various topics on how the company has changed throughout the years, what's been let go, and how they want to evolve. SEGA's main obstacle is keeping things together, when the Dreamcast was having a fallout over the defense from Sony's PS2; it came to a point Sega could not make it anymore. Fast forward to this year, and the interview, it opens up a window of what they've accomplished, and failed.

- Arcades
SEGA's marketing with the arcades then & now has significantly changed. Along with the market, its become a more expensive listing on how to keep up with consumers. Just few days ago, there was a report of a major loss in playtime with certain titles that received more usage. In the past, they had a nice hold on the market being a publisher, and various titles. But as recent gaming production costs (+ cabinet prices) increase, its getting tougher to stay strong within the arcade business.

- Consoles
When Sega went 3rd party after the Dreamcast's stance faded away, it changed many consumers outlook towards gaming. Since then, some of their titles have varied to positive, and negative reviews. Mostly on the negative level, due to limits, budget, and obstacles with sales. In the past, their titles were pretty clever, creative, colorful and imaginative. Perhaps this is a "fallout" generation, along with Sega; on a rollercoaster to test its limits.

- Sonic
Blue hedgehog, shoes, speed, rings.. and fun gameplay. What happened? "Blast processing" "Sega does what Nintendon't". Many remember the early days, the teasing, and the advertising to test a competitors patience. Which is why Sonic easily resembled Sega's 90's "attitude", since then the mascot has gone down a slope a lot like the user base in gaming.

Sonic the Hedgehog -
The first forerunner in bringing a speedy character, never before seen in videogames.

Sonic the Hedgehog 06 -
Sega's 21 card play, but it didn't quite make the mark they wanted. Publicisized as a title that would revolutionize the series, and give it a fresh start. But upon its release it received heavy criticism for being a complete "hit & miss".

Shenmue -
A first for creating a real-time world that flows with its characters. From Ryo's search for his father's murderer, to putting pieces of his father's heritage together, and future.

Shenmue II -
Taking place a short while after the first entry, Ryo's journey to find more answers continues. Although it tried to push the in-game engine, and take players further. It felt as if it tried to push too hard, repeating itself and making it a trudge instead of an experience many enjoyed with the first game.

Jet Set Radio & Future -
Setting the city ablaze in colors, take part on a mission to spread the word of life in the city. Definitely a pivotal moment for music & graffiti lovers abound. And the music & art design were unforgettable, even though who didn't play the game just knew who the characters were. Both JSR & Future are insane experiences that couldn't have been made by anyone else.

Shifting from Japanese - to Worldwide ideas -
Sega's goal is to reach a bigger audience, and they have over the years. Countless titles sold out huge numbers, or changed everyone's look at game design.
Here are some key examples:
1) Sonic - Never before seen speed in videogames
2) Mortal Kombat's "bloodbath", when Nintendo bowed out to censors, Sega wanted to give its audience the title it was meant to be.
3) Condemend - Takign the step with a new project, and delivering a new type of fear & suspense. Something Eno & his team WARP did years ago, re-envisioned for a new generation.
4) Sonic Unleashed & Chronicles
One is headed by worldwide teams, and the second title is being lead by BioWare (known for its production and creative directing).
5) And much more surprises to come

Sega evolution? We will have to wait and see.

Friday, August 8, 2008

SF IV is on its way! Spreading the word

Here's the deal gang..
(from Masterman Vending)
**SF IV will be @ Narrows Plaza's Bowling (in Tacoma, WA) venue very soon!

- The Cabinet + display should be in within the next week)
- $1.00 for entry
- They won't be able to use the IC cards due to limitations
(note Tekken 6 also would face the same pitfall if it were brought over)
- This will be the international version of the game
- They're planning to use LCD HD monitors to grab everyone's attention
- SF IV may not hit other venues, but a few chosen 4 locations stateside
(*SF IV will be playable @ Kumoricon!)
(*the distributor notes that there could be a location in Edmonton, Canada TBA)
(*It will also be at the Tokyo Game Show - Final Edition?)
(another distributor - Dandy won't comment on plans to even release their items till 6 months)

So spread the word friends SFIV is coming =D

- Plus exclusive info on a special cabinet of SF3 Third Strike is up for sale on Ebay soon
(exclusively from the distributor itself)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bridging the gap - so are we really nextgen? (A look at E308)

"Only the power of the PS3 can deliver nextgen graphics!"
" The 360 pushes games to the next level!"
" Nintendo Wii is fun for the entire family!"

Sure we've read, seen, or heard some advertisement like these. In the past, publishers with public relations on watch, conjured up some clever ideas to promote their company for the public eye. Most will remember "Sega does what Nintendo don't", quoted from a magazine ad back in the 90's. That ad alone grabbed so much attention, even most of us as kids questioned what is with the bully like teasing.

Fast forward to some years later, the PS2 & Sega Dreamcast danced with one another. Of course many know of the Dreamcast's fall, but yet it still continues to thrive; thanks to indie developers. But then on the rebound, the PS2 is still churning out sales. Maybe there's something Sega & Sony haven't told us. Can their consumer market ever let go on their past consoles, and actually buy a PS3?

When the PS3 hit the market, many questioned if there were actual games on the way. Sure there was a mix set of titles; but they didn't deliver something original. Fast forward to this year, Metal Gear Solid 4 took up the mantle and made people notice, yes the PS3 does have games. But E3 showed Sony's shady side, there will be games; yet many will have to wait months to actually play those titles.

Looking at the coming months for the 360, there are some promising titles on the way. Sadly, majority of the said titles are bound to be.. FPS, and a promised RPG no one thought they'd ever see on another system (its bound for multiplatform next year). (you may ask, "Why am I not bringing up the XBL update?) Is it a game, or just a platform? That's a tough one, since Microsoft presented it as a variety of genres. (but will it be a money junkie?)

And for the Wii, we did see ideas, but games? "We're going casual, because they are the audience we want". Hmm, I remember a Nintendo that actually made games for everyone.

Regarding the topic in question, we are in the current gen, just with growing pains. But why the promises, yet no optional gain? Although we're nearly done with this year, there is still games to look forward to, depending with consumer market you may be a part of. However, there is that one obstacle of getting over the rewards, and the letdowns. So far this year has been a mix of both, but who knows maybe it might change.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ninja Gaiden II review

Ninja Gaiden II (360)
Rated M for mature
Developed by - Team Ninja
Publisher - Tecmo

With much wisdom learned from his last mission, Hayabusa Ryu sets out to protect humanity from evildoers. Of course, like legends past, "once defeated, more will come". As we learned in the first game, Ryu was only but a student; but must become a master of defending his home (and the world). Gaiden II pits Hayabusa against more challenges than he fought before, and some he never expected.

- Learn your ways
In the first entry, Ryu learned the "Ways of the Ninja", via messages to encountering areas throughout his quest. Herein II, his techniques to learn, are read from messages left behind others that were studying in his father's dojo. Those that have been slain, are able to teach; even from beyond their fallen body.

- Balance
Learning the ways of the controls is a good idea before getting into battle. Master your techniques, and you will be able to vanquish any foe. Take heart, they will not treat you lightly.
Along your way, you can acquire a sort of weapons, from a staff, to talon claws, and much more.
Learn to use them well, for each can be used in tactical ways against your foes.

Along with weapons, your Ninpo techniques have also returned. Here, they can also be built up along with your play style. Mastering these take patience and diligence. But they can be used to protect, and defend Ryu in time of need.

- Control
Within NG2, although its on an updated platform; it plays similar to the first NG. Although with small changes, it feels more relaxed, yet tense at the same time. Of course, with new, comes difficulties; the camera is something to adjust with. At times it moves to where it wants, and the player will have to compensate until you gain a better view of your surroundings. Be careful though, some enemies will test your patience with the camera.

Overall, Ninja Gaiden II is definitely for the longtime & new fans alike. Take heed though, if you are new to the series; patience is key with Ninja Gaiden. So remember that, and even though you may run into an obstacle; just keep trying.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Re-examine - MGS

Ghosts, origins, allies, enemies.. and of course an identity crisis "Who Am I"
When you look around, just about everyone & everything wanders through life, figuring out who they really are. But when a game, no a masterpiece, questions those things when you're "enjoying it as a game". Awhile back, most games were mostly from getting to point a to b, till rpgs & action titles surfaced. From then on it became a test of survival, and proving yourself to the end.

Synonymous with theories, conspiracies, and even beliefs. MGS has always been one of those series that defines the human texture of "inspiration", to "protecting one's humanity". So who is the real enemy? Your brother, or yourself? Or someone completely inhuman?

This mini-series of articles, I am currently working on will examine the various things covered in MGS (and other noteworthy projects that novel within a cyberpunk terrain)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Getting over the barrier

There is something to be said when, a game goes past so many hours. And you've only completed a handful of its missions (or sub-missions). You might begin to ask yourself "So does this end yet?" or "What is entertaining about this game?"

Although I may be one of the few, I enjoyed GTA IV on what it did deliver. 1) mixed gameplay, 2) choices - but do all paths lead the same way?, 3) variety, 4) its missing something... oh I don't know called "limits". To be truthful, I have never been crazy about the sandbox genre. Even though I gave GTA IV my best shot, my interest just fell apart. Seeing the in-game clock go nearly over 50 hours, and barely touched 40% of the actual story campaign. At that time, I didn't feel like I accomplished anything at all with the game itself.

When it comes down to it, this game can be fun with friends (do not play it vs total strangers, its like entering Halo online, and getting shot by your own team to confiscate their train of illogical thought.) But after awhile, seeing just how much the mp mode offered, and what I really enjoyed.. its a mixed bag. I chose to rent it via GameFly (and a bit thankful), as much critique this game receives... its not something I imagine finishing.

So does Niko have a conscience? I seriously wonder, after seeing his motives with the plotline I created by taking out a said character, left a web of intrigue and frustration. At first, it felt like a "usual suspects" type of ordeal, until you become a headhunter; you start to lose the character after awhile. It may be open terrain to go anywhere, and do everything (but you're actually limited). What also bugged me, was that I didn't feel compassion for Niko anymore. (in my mind, that says "enough")

I understand its not a game for everyone (yet its a best seller, numbers just over-exaggerate).
Will I buy it in the future? Not really, after seeing how far "the tunnel goes", I've seen enough.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finding the Sands

With a new chapter on the way.. I thought it would be interesting to look back on the "Sands of Time" trilogy. And how it possible may still have some connections. Consider this a note to my longtime friends from "The Swordsmen" -which was the community built within Ubi to promote the PoP series..

- Origins
When the sands were made many generations ago, their foundations were built upon "light & dark". Once the darkness was disturbed, it opened a rift within "the past & present", the powers that be gave artificial energy to the sands. As we've learned, this "new" prince encounters these beings that fought centuries ago (adorned within the palace walls in "Sands").

- Past, Present, or Future?
There was a long debate many PoP fans disagreed with.
1) Did the Prince really go home?
2) Was it his fate to save?
3) Or did he die once he put on the mask?
4) Where did the sands come from?
5) What was the Prince's name?

1) A - yes he did, but since his decision had been made, its true reality had been made.
2) A - yes & no, in the prelude trailers we saw early on for Warrior Within, he was said to die.
But since fate changed, everything was different in the long run.
3) A - that is to be answered, but I feel strongly that he may have died. Seeing as how it was also cursed, sapping away at his energy until he made his way. In a sense he became a sand creature, alot like the Dahaka.. but still mortal.
4) A - Settled within the temples of the Maharajah, the Prince encounters a manuscript that tells the tale of someone that found it long ago. Once using the dagger, was able to find the Sands and bring it elsewhere. (could it possibly be the Prince we become in the newer entry?)
5) A - As we've found out recently in reports of the film coming soon, Dastan is his given name. But we never knew of his name in the trilogy. A lot of fans did some digging to find out what his rich history could have been. But its nestled on the fact it could be more than one person that carries the name or title.

defintion -

- Sands influence (Silent Hill)
In Konami's series "Silent Hill", it is a place long forgotten that carried a dark past. Once someone stepped into its grounds, they were enveloped in darkness. Its powers originated in the earth, and found itself nestled within that persons psyche testing their heart. But when it found who they truly were, it found bind them to their fate.

In the "Sands" trilogy, we've always noticed a trail of "sands" flowing within the dagger, to surrounding the Prince in Warrior Within, and Two Thrones. But what is most unsettling is that maybe its consuming him more, and more like a drug. (SH also had a dark narrative of a drug known as "White Claudia" meant to drive the person's manifestations as if they are under someone's control)

Now was the Empress truly there, and did she die? That is another head scratcher, she was known to be an observer, but was mortal in a sense. Since it was her being the creator, and protector of the sands. Kaileena's true age is not known, and may possibly be centuries old.
But once the Prince took her away from the "Island of Time", she was mortal. Until the Vizer took her life force, freeing her as an entity (her true form).

Another thing to note, of all the enemies that the Prince faced within the Castle, they were from his own conscience. (likewise in Silent Hill, most of the creatures you encounter were things created from your nightmares.. or something more that was left behind)

- Sand Creature Prince
Once the wearer puts on the mask, they become one of the Sands. With speed, stamina, and grace.. but only one thing... you can die. The more the pursuer wears the said mask, their life force will be drained. As for how he encounters himself later on.. its opened two possibilities.
1) the earlier prince will go his onward on his quest.. but with help
2) *since there are two endings.. an earlier prince (without all the life pieces) will take down the Empress
3) the true prince (with all life pieces obtained) will take down the Dahaka
*as we find out with the latter... taking Kaileena and heading home, the real fate that lies ahead

- Responsibility
"what is done, cannot be undone"
In the long run, from the Dagger, to the Empress it was a lesson in humanity. Once the Prince opened the sacred treasure, he tied his soul to the sands themselves. For many years after, he went on a conquest to find anyone who knew of the "Sands" creator to take away the curse. Thus his quest nearly met an end with Dahaka getting closer to taking his essence. Which throughout some of the cutscenes in WW explains a bit of foreshadowing his return back home. (if he didn't take Kaileena with him) With her being beside him, it added a bit of safe passage as it were.. and explains a bit more on how they both returned safely... until he finds his homeland taken away from him.

Close to his "future past", were the lands he fought within.. from his memories aboard the boat. To seeking out this "Island", its not known just how many that could have been taken down. But there was a DS game said to be the "inside" piece together his battles.

"The voice inside my head"
In Two Thrones, with Kaileena's spirit released, and the Vizer taking ahold of Babylon. The prince is taken aback.. his darker self comes out (the unhumbled extent of his conscience, lusting for power) while the other is seeking redemption. *also an extra note Yuri Lowenthal reprised his role as the normal Prince, where Robin Atkins Downes portrays the power hungry "Dark Prince".

Yet with things set right, does the Prince & Farah live happily ever after? I believe that is up to the players imagination.

There are many open possibilities within this next chapter.. we are all looking forward to it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are You Ready!? Bustah wooolf!

Recently went through some of my arcade fighting games on the XBOX. And I find it humbling, that they are still challenging. From KOF to DOA, the rebound always surprises me. But I also find a lot of newer stuff lacking in the "design" department. I have to be honest, I was never much of a 3D fighting game fan to begin with. I actually felt some were too hard to enjoy. Either it was the design of some titles, or just the controls; it felt bizarre.

Whenever I take the dive to play a 2D game, you get that thought in the back of your mind. "Hey this is what I remember, but why can't I do this as well in the other one?" Its something that's bugged me with KOF MI, just something about it feels "hit & miss".

Not too long ago, I heard some mean critique towards DOA. "this game is a joke @ tourneys" why? I try to look up reasons why, but it seems like a solid enough game (1 - easy controls , 2 - pick up n' play, 3 characters you get attached to, 4 its challenging vs another player) Er what's more to ask from a fighting game than that? For myself, I'm not much of a pro player, but I do enjoy playing against others. *Although Live feels a bit limited, being so used to playing against another person beside me.

Ever since games have become more of a push to obtain Online connectivity. I find something missing in SNK's titles, no one's online. Or its just difficult to match up against others, which is kinda disorienting. If SNK or MS could get the kinks out, playing others shouldn't be this much of a hassle. (sigh) we haven't seen a new SNK game in awhile on a MS system.. hell we don't even know about XII's release.. (we didn't even see XI on the Xbox)

I look through my gaming library in a humble manner, because its something I am truly proud of. Even though I haven't purchased a new title in months, it doesn't bug me. Its just the way things are lately, that make it challenging to decide on buying a game period. Although SFIIHDRMX is somewhere.. I dunno I'm still skeptical with retouching a game like that. Just going to have to wait, and see, right.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sexy sexy, sexy man

This weeks "Gaming Treasures" focuses on the arcade game "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure".
(Note: For those of you who haven't heard of the manga its based on; here is a quick summary)
- series created by Hirohiko Araki (the man that does not age)

*Taking place in the 3rd book of the series, vol 12 / ch. 14.
Jotaro Kujo is the great grandson of Jonathan Joestar. After getting entangled with some guys at school, which leads to him being put in jail. Jotaro questions if he's losing his mind, after seeing an arm appear aways from his own body; protecting his being. Wanting to test himself, taking a gun, finding out its been deflected, (before his prison visit, to which his mother Holly makes the call).
Later, his grandfather, and guardian / card reader Avdol pay a visit. Which leads to them bringing him out, and opens his mind to the realization; that he no longer fought alone but could use an astral form to protect his spirit.

Which in-game is actually the opening sequence, right after you select Jotaro. And thus begins with the worldwide quest to find an evil villain long forgotten, now arisen once more.

*The stories within the Jojo series take place in the form of generations. This being the 3rd, its not angst ridden, but more of a "stepping stone".

Within JBA, you can take part as hero or villain, depending on either side; the story envelopes your character against any opposition in their tale. Some live, some die, making it a diverse way of storytelling. *in a Metal Gear sort of fashion, you begin to understand just how big the story actually is; once you grow close to an ally.

What makes Jojo stand apart from other fighting games out there, is that its finessed directly from the manga. Although in-game its engrossed with colors abound, a finishing move contains a transparency of black & white.

JBA is actually a set of two games, as follows:
ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (JoJo no Kimyouna Bouken) - Jojo's Venture
ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 未来への遺産 (JoJo no Kimyouna Bouken) - Jojo's Bizarre Adventure - Heritage for the Future

- Design
For anyone who grew up with fighters, this game broadened its design with some neat ideas. Although it played like a traditional fighter, it also brought in a new aesthetic. Within the JBA 3rd gen chapter, the idea of "spirits" emulating as "stands" became a core part of the storyline. Thus they carried influence in this game tenfold. Adding a mix of designs closely resembling SNK's Samurai Shodown (instead of swords, spirits entangled with fists or energy) protecting their wielders chi until it ran out.

- PSX ver
Contained a variety of modes, story, and some exclusive characters (and Super Story Mode)
- Dreamcast ver
Remix port of the PSX, with extra characters.

What made both versions of the game stand out, was that its design came from the CPS3. Anyone who played Darkstalkers, Street Fighter 3, and Marvel vs Capcom played games based off the game arcade setup. Which at the time, with the PSX had some remakes due to limitations in hardware, until they found a way to tweak; with impressive results. Plus the Dreamcast ports contained some extra incentive, slightly better resolution, and could push more memory.

Overall, JBA is a fun experience and a game that anyone that enjoys fun manga should check out. And if you haven't read the manga, you definitely should.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Soul Still Burns

In this week's "Gaming Treasures" is the Soul Edge / Calibur series.

Soul Edge (origins)
Soul Calibur - Aftermath
Soul Calibur II - The War has begun
Soul Calibur III - SC 2.5
Soul Calibur IV - SC 3

Now a fellow fan may began to ask, "hey wait, but it goes this way". There is no denying it, that this series is kind of difficult to gather. But it really did begin with the PSX entry.

Soul Edge - A campaign of 8 warriors strive to defend their lands, until a sword of unknown power taints everything sacred. Some live, some die, and leave a legacy. *Cervantes is the main villain

Soul Calibur - Generations later, new warriors take up the fight; where others left off. The war has begun across Europe & Asia, only one will stand defiant. Thus the multitude of new faces, and a few familiars from the first venture.
-Character Elements
New faces join the fight, and legends return. However more of the these faces relate to one another. Many of them work together to protect their lands, before a huge war takes their people apart. Very few stand defiant and win, while others stand alone to take back what is rightfully there's.

-Conquest campaign
Each fighter has their own legacy, with weapon in hand; going across the globe to find the swords. Even though with a campaign, it still doesn't clarify whom actually obtain the true sword. (since the sword is already attained to everyone) But Siegfried is the actual wielder of Soul Edge, due to its corruption of him.

Soul Calibur II - Few years after the first battle, the sword has gained its powers (thus splitting into more pieces).
-Character elements
Siegfried has fought the sword at the end of SC, now awakening his true spirit. (thus him and the enigma of the sword split = Nightmare is its own entity). Maxi returns from the dead? Ivy's soul is now attached to her sword forever. Killik is cleansed from his staff, and joins Xianghua to defend her homeland. Cassandra defends her family, and takes the mantle for her sister.

-Tales of the Sword II
Actually a revamped version of SCI's extra campaign. In addition, each weapon has more different characteristics than the original. It begs to even question, what is the true weapon?
Also depending on your character of choice, their rival will be unique.

Soul Calibur III - (director's cut?)
Only set a few months after II, the war has begun; the lands are in turmoil. Nightmare now is its own entity, taking other warriors at the helm; not for souls but conquest. Siegfried & his alliances form together to take back their homelands once and for all.
(only one problem.. is this a prelude of 4?)

- Elements
*Since this is only a few months later, nothing's too different. The only exception are a few additional characters.

- Tales of the Sword III
A more advanced campaign, new tweaks; same design. Except it has more of the Tekken limits to balance out the game as if you're playing online? (SC III was going to be online, but the dev team admitted they weren't quite ready yet)

Soul Calibur IV (Final War)
During the final battle, more friends & foes unite one last time. That about sums it up..
- Elements
New faces, old friends (and some characters with less clothing)
Weapon damage, and some new minor tweaks

- Tales of the Lightsaber IV (er i mean sword)
Online! But will it change the in-game campaign?

- Weapons of Choice
The most defining part of the Soul series is the multitude of weapons. Depending on whom you play, you are given options by their fighting style / def / off/ and spirit. No matter whom joins this roster, everyone is connected in some way or another. In addition, many of the weapons have a firm root in history; adding a bit of novelty.

- How will Soul Calibur define next gen?
1) Finally going online
2) Why limit guest characters to a console?
3) More characters? the roster is over 30+
4) Bigger campaign? Maybe take on friends to influence gameplay?
5) Will finally add some closure (hopefully)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gaming Treasures - P.N.03

-Gaming Treasures is a gaming article segment that I feel glad to share about, regarding some neat treasures in my gaming collection. This is the first article for this new part of my gaming blog. Hope you enjoy.

(this is a work in progress article, screenshots to come later)

- P.N.03 (Product Number 03)
PN03 was a game under the "Production Studio 4" or "Big 5" from Capcom's inside studios. Various producers in the industry took part (fathers of Devil May Cry, to Resident Evil; and many more). At the time, the helm was actually severed, and only a few of the projects remained in tact; one of these was PN03.

-"Dancing Shooter"
What began as a concept for Devil May Cry, actually was a test game for another system. Using the same engine, gave SM (Shinji Mikami) & his team a different perspective with the Nintendo GameCube. *footnote: Hideki Kamiya was @ the helm of his own project, named Viewtiful Joe (Mikami & Kamiya also co-directed Resident Evil & other Capcom titles in the past)

Also directly known as a "Robot War Shooter", but Mikami's view wasn't settled. Codename "Jaguar" was looked over as the main femme' fatale was catlike in her way of design. Vanessa Z. Schneider, is the woman behind this game, with moves that are swift, sexy, and graceful. Taking you on a mission to stop renegade A.I. from causing more chaos to outside forces (and some revenge for wrongdoings in her "past").

(PN03 is also somewhat of a nod to Metroid), Mikami liked the idea of playing a character aside from male, thus a female one was chosen instead. *including some designs from one of the team members, an illustrator who also agreed for a female lead. **Vanessa is not modeled after anyone in particular, she' s an original character.. but she does look alot like Resident Evil's - Jill Valentine.

- You're not the boss of me
Set within a far off planet, as Vanessa you clean up what's been left behind. In a facility not manned by humans, but A.I. *in spirit, a a bit reminiscent of "Ghost in the Shell's - Motoko Kusanagi". Along the way you gain new suits + functionality (new abilities). The gameplay design is reminiscent of a classic shmup but with added "spirit" & "energy" behind it from start to finish.

In addition, it also resembles a bit of Devil May Cry, with a lock-on feature enabled. But instead of using a sword or gun (*this was to be an additional weapon, but was later dropped); you used concussive blasts encapsulated within your very suit. With that said, every motion, attack, or fluidity, is all in your control. But like DMC, this game can be a bit challenging, moreso its a fun diversion from what's out there.

- You Look Devine
Make no mistake, music is a driving force behind any game. With this one, its your motivation, when you go to the beat, Vanessa's reaction will be in-step. Just follow through, and you'll see something diverse to keep up with. PN03's soundtrack is composed by Shusaku Uchiyama, & Makoto Tomozawa (V. Tomozoh) *both composers have been behind some of the most well known Capcom game soundtracks, from Megaman to Resident Evil.

- One More Beat
When I first picked up this game, I wasn't sure what to expect. At the time, I was thirsting for something new; so I glanced over and found this game. Only to find out that its something of a "hidden treasure". I haven't seen anything quite like it, and not sure if I will again. It is definitely a humbling game, for those who enjoy Devil May Cry's archetype design, they will get a kick out of this game.

What did I enjoy most? Seriously, the game overall is a neat part of my library. Although I haven't unlocked all of the suits, it is simply fun to watch Vanessa move so swiftly (*while avoiding laser fire, or insane traps). For the most part, its an original title with a bit of spunk. I really wish this game would be brought back, but sadly its one of those titles alot of gamers looked over.

(*Nintendo's Seal of Quality) - Now this is something worth seeing on a game package like this. Gamers that have grown up with fun titles since day one, know it meant something. But during the past couple of years, its been a struggle. And I say this with heart, this game is like a hug you've been wanting for a long time. I sincerely hope that anyone that reads this, considers picking up this game. Whether it be used, or new, you will find something here. And who knows, it may show up again someday.

Links you may want to check out:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Round 1 FIGHT!

The day has come.. SFIIHDRMX (new footage + interviews!)

Snake + Brawl = timeless moments

With Brawl's megahit status, who says a dev team can't have fun poking at themselves.
Ok, literally this is something any gamer has been waiting to see.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Re-Examining Metal Gear

When you see the logo, or hear someone speak of the title; you just know. "Snaaaaaaaake!"
Its something how many years this series vitality has lasted. From a 2D game of "hide n' seek", to the epic 3D missions that took the PSX to a forefront never explored before. There are very few gaming series' that actually push each definitive console to inspired limits.

Note: this is not a timeline, but a note of admiration to a diverse series that defied storytelling.

Looking ahead, we're finally near a 4th, and possibly a closing chapter in the Solid saga. With several ports, to a few remakes; plus exclusive entries there is much to be said about MGS.

In these days of "nextgen", many take heart or for granted what gaming means to them. No matter the console, if you enjoy games; let it be so. Aside from console exclusivity, and the first time the PS3 has bumped into a wall. MGS4 is redefining what "taking the next step" truly means.

So if you ever have a few free hours for some r&r, pop in your copy of any MGS. Indulge yourself, and you will be glad you did.

Btw, KP Report session #082 arrived last week.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trance Into REZ

Awhile back, a Dreamcast / PS2 title called "REZ", produced by Miz (Tetsuya Mizuguchi). *with a huge amount of past gaming credits, from Sega Rally - Space Channel 5. Even though we've moved past such consoles, and in our current gen; video games altogether went the next level in expression. Before, we could only imagine being in-sync with music, let alone control it.

With games like DDR, Guitar, and the like, the idea was a device for entertainment alone. Everyone wanted to be something, yet missed the point; becoming one with the game. There are very few games that actually take the notion of a Zen-like state, and take you on a journey you'll never forget. REZ is that game altogether.

When I picked up a Dreamcast back in late 99', I waited a bit till more games found a part of my library. Few years passed, and it all came together, yet I missed something. Later, I borrowed a friend's copy of REZ (import only?) hmm that was strange. *had to borrow their console too, it was alright; they were going on vacation. Lo & behold I begin playing, and immersed in colors, let alone a dark room with volume at a comfortable level. I achieved zen that weekend, something I could never forget.

But you ask, "What is this journey?" 1) Self-indulgence, 2) Calming of the soul & spirit, 3) Meditation, 4) Balance. How does a game console the player? It depends on the individual playing the game itself. Not only do the colors give a unique texture, but a mix of sights & sounds that give your senses a warm hug. Some might say its a "musical shmup", and the thing is they are right.

*note- even though the nod of the Trance Vibrator being used in creative ways. The product was meant to stimulate a listeners emotional connection. Ok, so it wasn't a stretch, but people were pretty clever

Looking back, and now forward; we haven't really pushed the envelope with in-game music design. Actually I feel that we've taken a step back. Take a glance @ how many music games have influence on sales. Do they have a real purpose besides being overpriced? Sure they're entertaining, but they don't have a connection that a game like REZ contained.

*fun note- during the promo content through the official REZ-urrection site
I was one of the lucky few that won the game free. This happened during my birthday, the 30th of January. Gotta admit, its definitely a gift I will not forget.

I honestly hope we'll see another game akin to REZ, so who knows just what the future may hold. If REZ can make a comeback in the gaming industry, maybe a creative revolution could follow.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Devil May Cry 4 Review

Devil May Cry 4 Review
Multiplatform - PS3 / 360 / PC (coming soon)

Be sure to check out my friend Brukaoru's take on the DMC4.
Read her review here

Greetings fellow traveler, I, the Jester will be your guide. Turns out the gang didn't want to bring me back in 4. Tsk tsk. On that accord I bid thee safe journey, its going to be one hell of a trip.

=Delivery (Or so the story goes)
Newcomer goody-goody Nero is in the spotlight this time around. At the start of this musical en trade', he is amongst a group called "The Order", a set of knights that protect the holy grounds of the land. During a ceremony, old boy Dante decides to pay a visit. From there, Nero is going to be set against perils that longtime fans will be comfy with.

Some of my new buddies have also joined the battle. So I'll let them take over from here..

Ah a human, welcome to this realm, Berial here. This land is bountiful, and I am glad to have stayed here this long. From roaming cities, to countryside, and a plentiful forest. But the Ice Castle isn't a place for someone like myself, Brr.
So a tour is what Jester told you? ah.. well my area is amongst the midtown gates, towards a village, unto a mine. Its pretty comfy, but I do get a nice view of the stars. Now to my comrades Bael & Dagon.

"Puny creature! What is it? Oh, the castle, its a nice place. Beautiful mountains, our humble home, and the graveyard."
(Bael) "Hey do they know about us?"(Dagon) "No brother, I don't think so."(Bael) "Oh, and by the way our tendrils do things.."(Dagon) "Let's not tell them that."(Bael) "Oh alright.. poo"(Dagon)

My children, the plants, the creatures, and.. the Lost Woods. My humble home has nay been disturbed for many years. Until those two waltzed in with their fancy swords and gusto. How can they take on me? The she-viper, mother to this land. On that accord, my children are warriors, even the Chimera have my blessing to take you down. (evil laugher)

Welcome friend, pardon the mess of this place. Every thing's gone into chaos, thankfully my sister, and Nero are alright. I am Credo, first leader of the Knights of the Order. Things are amiss, something isn't quite right. So I sent Nero out to find a reason for this mess. But in turn, many battles will be fought, lives lost.. and I feel upset thinking about it.
Tis here is Headquarters, a huge base meant to protect the people. Therein it is a secret society only open to those who are wielders for the good of everyone. Good of spirit, and noble in heart. Safe journey.

Ah, be careful with my books, I the bookworm Agnus. There is not a journal, nor book that does not contain enough knowledge about this place. Oh you've heard about our holy land already? From whom? Them!? What!? And not me!? This is an o-o-o-outrage! (stomps feet and whines like a baby)

(Holy temple..) Sanctus isn't here right now. Wait how did you get here!? Ah they let you, welcome. Thank you for being amongst use in this time of dire peril. Have you come to worship "The Savior?" We have plenty of collectibles, to bobble heads, and dvds.

Oh you've come for the jukebox? Ah a fine piece of novelty. We have a fine choice of choir motifs, to dramatic auras. Plus a bit of rocking battle music, don't tell them I said that. Overall, there is a plethora of tunes for every mood, excitement, and energy. There is zen here. Please enjoy.

Good ol pizza. Yo, welcome to the office! I take it you've met my lovely co-workers Trish & Lady. Good. Good.
So what do you wanna know? Ah how the controls works. Alright. Well I can tell you this, both consoles play the same way. But the camera is a little fixated at times, you'll get used to it. Button setup is pretty easy, plus you can change your settings or keep it at default. Along the way you'll help me, and that kid Nero learn some new moves. Most of all, practice, practice.

=From one to the next
Just passing by Dante's office, funny I never knew about this place before. Hey, I'm Nero the new guy. I have lived within the old town for a long while. Come to think of it, i never left it behind. Something how I become the new shoes, and take up the mantle. By the way, I hope the trip wasn't too bumpy. Take your time and explore this place, you never know what can be found.

=Another Day @ the Office (Wrapping up)
Hey you met the new kid, nice. Well I think about says it all. After all was said and done, I think you'll like it here buddy. Wanna chill out and have some pizza with us? Its on me. Oh and one more thing, just keep an eye out for those other worldly critters. Overall, enjoy your stay here with us. And thanks for becoming a team member, we need new faces, so invite your friends to come along this crazy ride. For now, see ya.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Devil May Crybaby

My copy of DMC4 has arrived (via Gamefly). Time to start playing!
*I will be working alongside my friend Brukaoru, in a team-up review. (coming soon!)
Expect the unexpected, and more fun surprises.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Red Queen

Hey gang, just giving fellow Dante fans a headsup. DMC4 has finally hit store shelves.
Be sure to look for an upcoming collaboration review; from my friend Brukaoru @
And my take on the 360 version of the game. Coming soon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Devil May Cry 4 Collab Review

Devil May Cry IV Demo Teaser PreviewMulitplatform - PlayStation 3 / Xbox360 1/24/08

Introduction - Bring the player up to speed
Devil May Cry branched out on the PS2, in the 2k rush. At the helm, "kicking ass and taking names" along with Dante; a pre-requisite bounty hunter for hire. Taking novelty, and a unique spin on action games (think Ghost n' Goblins meets Castlevania). During its run, it opened up the door for sequels, and some spots in other games.

(*Dante has been featured in Viewtiful Joe & Shin Megami Tensei) Aside from guest appearances, we ventured along with Dante; and even a few bumps in the road.
Devil May Cry I - 101 for Hire, and takedown of Sparta. Devil May Cry II - Misstep in direction, but bringing along a new friendDevil May Cry III - Origins; and a tango with his brother Virgil; Devil May Cry IV - "Let's Rock!"

- Nero's characteristic's (in demo)
White glistening hair, great smile, and charm. Wait, we're playing this guy? Yes, yes you are. While we don't know too much right off the bat, the demo takes a player on a tour throughout the city. Oddly enough Nero takes a bit of incentive from Dante (think of Anakin, with Obi-wan). Although this is a taste, he's a bit of a hothead.

+Gameplay (1st)
Welcome to the demo, and to get Nero's feet wet; get used to your surroundings. Depending on the mode being played; "Time Attack", or Sub-Mission mode. (*if you manage to zip through Time Attack, there's a chance to take on Brial) A key incentive is to just try everything, and acquaint to Nero's "style". Overall, he plays alot like Dante; just with more "punk" mixed in. And one more thing, this demo is tough, and will knock Nero on his ass!

++Main Focus - Characters - Hero vs Enemies
Just like the past games, see enemy = fight. Don't ask questions, just do it. Here its just a taste, with a few nasty snacks; and desert at the end. But your approach is a bit more hostile, (*note Nero's attitude here). Its alot like Viewitful Joe's "light vs dark side" running parallel. Both main characters have a different perception of their opponents, and there's a key bit of tude' Nero tosses in all directions.

+Modes Along the way during this mission, Nero will obtain all sorts of abilities. From seeing old friends like the Red & Gold orb, to a new "devil bringer"; which evolves after he's obtained key items. Every which way Nero goes, there will be hidden items lying somewhere; so keep your eyes open.

From the get-go, town / to city / snowed area / Castle Ruins? The biggest jump, is how far apart these areas may just be in-game. Although for a test run, its creates a fun rush thats re-playable limitlessly.

+Missions / Time Attack
At the start, Nero is just starting out depending which mode is chosen. "Time Attack" mode runs off a timer with a 10 minute clock running at a nightmarish speed. More enemies will appear, take them out fast as possible. (*In time attack, the mission begins in the city, and ends in the Snow Castle Ruins) In Mission mode, Nero gets used to his surroundings, and even picks up a few upgrades along the way.

(In Mission mode, it plays throughout the Snow Castle Ruins) And last but not least, Berial, this humongous centaur / dog demon greets with you a passion. Actually he just wants to wipe Nero's smile off his face.

-Controls (2nd)+Difference from PS2 - to PS3 & 360 (with Renee')
From analog, to sixaxis; the changes aren't that different. Its still the same DMC you know and love, just with a different controller. +Balance"Practice makes perfect", and this saying still holds true. Although its on two different platforms, the setup is still the same. But with more flexibility; timing is also pretty precise. +FunctionalityPurely flexible, but takes some getting used to on the 360.

On the PS3, it should feel the same as PS2, but with even more balance. Wire combo attacks are in full effect, yet it requires a bit more timing. So when you see those combo breakers appear, keep going; you might find different ways to unlock Nero's potential.

Nero moves, it moves, DMC4's cam is free flowing right beside Nero every step of the way. But sometimes in the demo, it finds itself stuck in some places.
(1 - when facing a horde of enemies in a closed space, it loses track of Nero for a second.
(2 - It has wide range along the playing field, just stay in motion, and it locks back on Nero.

-Visuals (3rd) +In Motion
From every step Nero takes, its a fluid animation. Every "slice", "dice", and gunkata; it feels like love making to a console. Better yet, this is a demo at its finest. Plus Nero's animations just "lift" him off the screen, alot like Dante "his predecessor". In addition, the enemies come in lush colors, as does Berial with its "sexy" flames of sweetness.

There is not just one way to define Devil May Cry, it has always delivered in numerous ways. From 1-4, each gave a variety of ideas, and visuals on where the series could go next. And with 4 it shines, even with just a taste; its a beautiful game from the get-go.

+Interior & Exterior (Backgrounds + in-play)
Take a minute to just look around, admire the scenery; or buildings. Everything around Nero is reachable, touchable, or destructable. In buildings, the designs just come to life, with glistening backgrounds; to decorations. For some more kicks, it looks like this is the Havok engine. Which means.. yup from items to enemies, get ready for some fun juggling.

-Audio (4th)+Action / Re-action
Music interactivity is something of the norm these days, and the demo gives a little tease. Within each area, are target points; from facing enemies, to direct cutscenes. Therein, lies a moment where the music draws the player in; and pulls back when it comes to a "fight". A bit more like a set of dominoes, from start to finish.

City scape, to Snow Ruins; the place is alive with vibrant sounds. There is not one place without atmospheric effects surrounding Nero. Within the city, its more of a citadel; and epic orchestral vibe that is mixed synergy stuck in a nightmare. Until the enemies show up, then the "Brawl!" theme kicks up, and delivers a luscious combo. Overall its a pretty sweet mix of sounds & music put together in a little package.

If you have a surround sound setup, or sweet headphones; turn those babies up! Don't keep it low, c'mon show some love. Even as a demo, the soundtrack delivers a swift punch, there's no denying it will be sweet.

- Wrapping up
+Give reasons why gamers should pick this game up.
1) DMC fans will have one hell of a great time playing this
2) There is a choice between two consoles. How could anyone pass that up?
3) DMC has always been about pure fun, and a challenge.
4) Buy this !

+Does it matter which console? Aside from the format, or size of the demo; nothing really. Both are the same game; just the controller is the only difference.Otherwise, both sides of the coin are enjoying DMC4. (*even though as a demo, it does give players an idea of what it will be like)Look for this badboy to hit shelves February 5th!!

*Be sure to visit my friend Brukaoru's blog @