November 2011 Archives
I know this is a complicated issue, the result of oddly separate Amazon sales... but when an average person stumbles across this kind of bizarro game pricing, what are they supposed to think? Why does the same game range in price from $50 to $10 depending on platform? I'm pretty sure that Disney Universe is the same actual game everywhere, but yet the Wii version is currently $47.90...
Not much of a discount at all. But the PS3 and 360 editions are down to $40. (I picked it up on PS3 for $30 during a holiday Lightning Deal.)
On PC? $30.
And if you want to download the PC version? $10.50.
This is nothing new - although the Wii version selling for $10 above the PS3/360 versions is definitely new - but in a world where people are getting more and more used to buying small scale iPad games for $1, this extra step of pricing weirdness seems off-putting to me. How much longer until devs figure out how to have the exact same huge console game on iPad and only charge $5 for it (you can already get DS cult faves Shantae and Scribblenauts for beans on iPhone)? And how much longer until Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft react?
In the Batman: Arkham City post-game, you can stumble across some street thugs ruminating on the future of the franchise. They're speculating in-gameworld, of course, but the conversation is blatantly meta. I'm just glad there's a post-game!
The side missions remain, Grand Theft Auto-like, available for your attention after the storyline is over. I probably finished about half of them before credits. After credits, I have cleaned up the rest that are easily accomplishable. Which leaves me staring at 200 unclaimed Riddler trophies, many of which I have no idea how to collect. But that's ok. Given the achievements based around flawless combat combos (that I can never pull off), I wasn't going to Platinum this one anyway.
Some of the side missions are cute little detective bits where Batman has to scan alleyways for clues and track blood trailers and whatnot. I would have liked to see more of those.
A few of them drop serious hints about a sequel, which is a nice tease. Like the thugs say, the inevitable Next Game is a mystery. The creation of Arkham City - essentially a major part of Gotham cordoned off as a massive open air prison - solved a lot of gameplay problems that may not be available a third time. Like, what do you about traffic and innocent bystanders in a game like this, where the main character has the option to beat everyone he sees into unconsciousness?
Then there's the issue of going back to the same villains, again. Every bat-villain of note is in Arkham City. Except Killer Moth, I kid. And at least a third of them were in Arkham Asylum as well.
My fingers are crossed that future DLC will add in-City play for Robin and Nightwing. Although it seems unlikely. They're charging $7 for the ability to play as Robin in challenge maps (IE, not in-game)... how much would they charge to unlock him in the main game, a la the playable Catwoman? $15, assuming you get some Robin-specific missions? And then what if you only buy that, and not the Robin Challenge bundle that's already out there? Maybe $5 to unlock him in freeplay, no bonus missions, but also bundled with the existing $7 pack and priced at $10? I don't know. It's the unwieldy storefront dance and complicated forum explanations that this will require that makes me think they're not doing it.
The game namedrops Huntress and Creeper at one point (I believe during Vicki Vale's hilarious ambush interview with Quincy Sharp back at the church, an easily missable moment). But that seems extra unlikely to expect those two Bat-universe heroes to put in a playable appearance. Still, these guys all have pretty much the same athleticism-based powers...
I did the entire back third of the game, from Freeze-says-make-the-clown-pay to finale, in one night. As the extremely slow credits were rolling, I looked at the clock and was genuinely astonished to see it was 6:30am. Great game.
And come on: the idea that Catwoman and Hush live in the same apartment building? Hilarious.
That's what vacations are for, right?
From Mario Kart 7, a paused look at a personalized Mii crowd.
Anyway, after half an hour I finally see my score approaching 12,000. This is a relief because Pac-Man Party 3D is a very slow, text-heavy game. After another die roll, my score crests 12,000... and the game keeps going.
And then, twenty minutes later when Blinky clears 12,000 (I'm playing as Pac-Man because, duh, story mode.) the game crowns Blinky the winner.
Look at that evidence! I clearly have more cookies than Blinky! Whatever error was keeping the game from triggering my victory, it did not extend to accurate reporting of my cookie count.
So I'm not sure this game works all that well.
Just caught the finale episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," which features a guy I've been hoping to see appear on one of the DC animated shows since the late '80s: Ambush Bug.
The premise is that Bat-Mite is out to get the show cancelled (which it was) so he uses his fourth dimensional powers to screw with the show and make people hate it. Like relocating Batman to Malibu and re-casting Aquaman with Ted McGinley (seriously.) It's pretty great, alternating between making fun of the expectations of fanboys who quailed when this lighter Batman show was first announced, and slamming the propensity of cartoons to be driven by toy tie-ins.
Ambush Bug - whose central gimmick, under Keith Giffen's pen, was that he knew he was in a comic book - sees what Bat-Mite is up to and teleports into the show to stop it. Ambush Bug is voiced by, wait for it, Henry Winkler.
So this is definitely an Ambush Bug taken from his early appearances in "Action" and his own first miniseries: a kind of earnest, nebbishy hero wanna-be.
When confronted by the Bug, Bat-Mite quips "You're a pretty obscure character, even for this show."
Of course, not even Ambush Bug can save the show. But this is a cool episode to go out on.
I don't even know how to describe Freakyforms. You get to make little odd creatures using a selection of shapes and facial features and junk (which is the Killer App part for Clark), and then you're allowed to play with them for three minutes or so. Seriously, you the game puts a timer on your exploring, and you're supposed to complete whatever quests you find inside of that tiny limit. It's a bit Animal Crossingish, I suppose, as it is largely directionless. If you want to waste your three minutes eating apples and laying eggs, go right ahead. Yes, you lay eggs. They're full of coins.
Anyway, once you make a goober, you can get a QR code for it, so other Freakyforms players can import your guy into their games. Which, I guess, is the cheap way out of Nintendo having to maintain some kind of online social networking site that lets you discover and share creations inside the game itself. Whatever. It just means the internet has to do that by itself, as with this collection of intricate characters designed by Japanese gamers.
Here's the first guy Clark created, 6legger:
The game doles out shapes gradually, so by the time I got to it, it gently suggested I create a character using the brand new wing shape. So I made Moses the raven from "Animal Farm."
Clark saw I got wings, but when he went to create a guy, he was forced into using wheels. Hence, Wheelfrog:
Then I went straight for what's hip: here's a skeleton Mario.
Then the game demanded I make a form using the new "weird mouth" shape. I suspect this is one of those doesn't-quite-translate moments from Japanese to English. The "weird mouth" might be a drop of spit or snot. Or maybe a huge tongue. I made Droolbug.
Then Clark went on a tear. Here's a guy named Icecream.
A flightless bird named Flunkie.
This guy was dubbed Busblob because we were at the bus stop and the bus was coming. He's great because his trademark exclamation (again, Animal Crossing) is "Bus!!"
I unlocked a hanging hook object, so Clark made Anchorman.
And this is One Eye Man.
Neat little game. $7 on one of Nintendo's three separate online storefronts, the one specifically for 3DS downloads.
He said he recorded a third episode, imagine my surprise when I watched it and found out it's just a commercial. He's already a marketer.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations came out today. As reported on Cheapass Gamer, Walmart is mysteriously selling the $60 game for $40. Depending on where you stand, I guess. Here's the $60 tag on an endcap...
And here's the $40 price back in the locked case. Same store. Both tags clearly say "Revelations," so it's not like they have a bunch of this year's game in last year's "Brotherhood" price slot.
Given how heavily this annual series is reusing assets from previous games, $40 seems about right. Add to that the Walmart exclusive armor unlock, and the PS3 exclusive pack-in of the first Assassin's Creed (which I've never played), and I feel pretty decent about this grab.
For one very simple reason: no out-of-nowhere supernatural bullshit in the game's final moments.
I don't think that's spoiler material. I think that's a selling point.
You've got a game that's so grounded... I mean, aside from the ludicrous franchise-friendly action movie angle of a normal dude who survives absolutely everything and has sidekick besties who also survive absolutely everything. And the end acts of both Uncharted 1: The Reckoning and Uncharted 2: Back in Action dive off into silliness purely for videogame reasons. Because, you know, you've spent the entire experience murdering pirate dudes with increasing levels of handcrafted armor, what do you do to top that? Zombies! Or super-strong ancient immortals!
So I spent all of Uncharted 3: The Reckoning 2 dreading the arrival of brain-sucking aliens or re-animated Frankensteins. Maybe Egyptian vampires. Drake would bust into a treasure crypt, see the monster hulk mummies and snap off a typical quip like "Oh man Sully, what have we gotten ourselves into?!" And then we'd all be taking cover behind gargoyle sculptures and sending RPG rockets into nests of screaming muscle-bound demons.
Now, there is a little craziness near the end. But it's a feint, and a well-presented one at that.
I also dig Uncharted's off-panel romance. I like that we're not explicitly told the entire story about what went wrong between Nathan and Elena, and we're left to read between the lines during the few dramatic cutscenes that reference it.
Has anybody done a screencap comparison of how Naughty Dog has changed Elena's character models from game to game? I swear she's had some work done since Uncharted 1: So It Begins.
And yes, I noticed that Elena has a half-tuck. Adorable.
From Super Mario 3D Land:
Ever since these screens started showing up in early Wii games, I've thought that Nintendo has these in their back pocket for the day they get hauled into court over some ginned-up anti-gaming kid health case. "But we've been encouraging players to TAKE BREAKS."
Spotted at the playground of a nearby park (which, presumably unrelated, was half burned down by local assholes several months ago.)
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky Penn State sex scandal, I have come to the conclusion that do not I seem to have any heroes. Any actual, physical person heroes. I can't think of a single human individual that I would grant continued full adoration in the face of mounting evidence concerning horrible, horrible acts.
When the story broke, I saw PSU defenders underlining "alleged" in all the Sandusky reports. And now, unfortunately, the Sandusky story has been sidelined so we can entertain a morbid fascination with perpetually near death Joe Paterno... and there's where the real blind hero worship kicks in. I didn't attend Penn State. So I'm sure I don't "get it." But I think it might be nice if Penn State was known forevermore for something other than a child sex abuse case and the student body's willingness to get drunk and riot. Lots of people could have done something about that, from Paterno to McQueary to the guys actually being charged with the cover up, but nobody did. Lower on the pole, I'm sure they were told to hush up about it.
When I see people posting pictures of crying Nittany Lion logos, I wonder what the poster thinks the logo is sad about. Sandusky's evil betrayal of children? Penn State desk jockeys concerned with protecting the school's rep (or worse: their old buddy Jerry)? Or the winningest coach in college football being forced out of office?
I just can't imagine being so tied up with what goes on at my college that when something like this happens, I'd be sad and not livid. And not even just my college, which you guys know I don't give a shit about anyway. My workplace. My family. My friends. My hobbies. My state. My country.
Me, I have trouble believing Paterno "did enough" given the stakes involved. If Sandusky continued to bring children onto school grounds, if rumors and gossip perpetuated, if Sandusky was indeed given the boot in '99 due to secreted allegations from '98... then everybody there should have done more over the last 10+ years. Everybody. And yes, that's a lot of IFs.
Paterno is taking the fall on this because he's a powerful name brand, and if he wanted this pursued, it would have been pursued. Our only conclusion is that he did not want this pursued. Which means either he was actively protecting Sandusky and PSU, or he genuinely did not know the scope of what Sandusky was doing. And given the number of children involved (there's more than nine, it's safe to assume that), it seems unlikely that further smoke had not been noticed since 2002.
The whole thing is suspicious, the timeline is just too convenient. Not to mention the notion that a popular, winning coach like Sandusky seemingly fades into obscurity (and public service) right at the time in his career that most football coaches ascend to greater heights.
I keep running through lists of celebrities I've never met and trying to find one that I'd be running to defend with "He did what he was supposed to do, at least once, over a decade." Which is the Paterno defense, not the Sandusky defense. Seems like everybody who was initially defending Sandusky has vanished.
I can't come up with one. I don't go for human heroes. Because they're human.
Last night I saw an Oddworld costume was now available for LittleBigPlanet 2 and I rolled my eyes. Like, jeez, now we have to endure an Oddworld revival as well? So I took those snarky thoughts to Twitter.
And right away I get somebody leaping to the franchise's defense. And, of course, it's a perfectly nice gentleman who happens to be part of the Oddworld development team.
So now I feel like a jerk about my opinion on Oddworld, because now somebody who very probably seriously cares about the game reached out to me.
Thing is, I still consider Oddworld (the first, at least) vastly overrated. The storyline was a breathless cliche even back then... an eco-parable about mean, evil corporations soullessly abusing the environment for personal wealth and power. This was 1997, decades before the same story appeared in James Cameron's "Avatar" movie. And creator Lorne Lanning's self-infatuated insistence of the franchise's greatness has always rubbed me the wrong way. I've had a bad taste for Oddworld ever since.
I picked up Dungeon Defenders last month, the week it was released. It's a great combo of tower defense and beat 'em up action. 4 out of 5. BUT. Either Trendy (the game's developer) or Sony has something dicked up with the game's Trophies. They won't sync, which means the PS3 rather stupidly tries to force a sync every time you get near the Trophy list. And you get a screen similar to the above.
You can cancel out of the progress bar, and no actual Trophies are in danger. But I'm amazed that Sony would allow something like this to linger on. This error inconveniences absolutely every single person who bought this game. It's a known issue by this point, with complaints lodged on gaming forums everywhere and yet weeks have ticked by with no patch or fix. Shoddy.
With some shoutouts to Skyward Sword and Mario 3D Land...
Skylanders has an easy hook. You can see the anchor here get it immediately when she says "this is how you choose your character." The toy/game combo is a nice little Wow every time.
And then I have some fun at Skylanders' expense.
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North comes off as a pretty typical game in the comparison. You run around, you shoot stuff.
I was going to go over a few more T and M-rated games in that LOTR bit (Saints Row the Third! Metal Gear Solid HD Collection! Assassin's Creed: Revelations!), but we were short on time. Which is just as well, since I didn't have any of those games anyway.
No, you can't.
I finally made it through all the long boxes that were partially submerged in our storm flood. Out of ten boxes, I have one full box that is now all ruined books. Roughly 200. Which, considering that the approximate number of books that were several inches in flood water might be around 2200, isn't bad.
It's weird how the water invaded. It's not like I found two inches of books in a row all waterlogged, it was one here, one there. Out of a run of 30+ issues of "Young Justice," two random issues were reduced to bags of water. Which, of course, pisses me off more because now the run is interrupted.
Some of the books I have to toss are killers. "Son of Ambush Bug" #1. "Space Ark" #3. "Swamp Thing" #11 (like, from 1974). Whole bunch of early Ninja Turtles. But I'm happy that many more survived.
The good news is that there's no more moldy comic books lurking in our living quarters. Some of the books had already developed full-on crusty green barnacles inside the mylar.
I promised myself I would trim down the collection, even apart from jettisoning books that can no longer charitably be called books. Out of those ten long boxes (well, nine, once you subtract the wrecked books), I have three boxes that I intend to donate. I just don't have the energy to track values and try to sell them. I've used the eBay Excuse for years to avoid having to deal with my absurd collections, and it's time I stopped fooling myself.
I still have 18 other long boxes to go through. While these were not in the soup, I still intend to pull out the books that I can part with.
One of the names popping up as a downloadable 3DS title in recent Nintendo press releases is Freakyforms. Took me a second to recognize it, but this is the game I played at E3 under the working title Picture Lives.
Picture Lives was available at one or two kiosks in Nintendo's E3 booth, and not being a marquee title, was more than available for demo, no waiting.
I don't know how feature-complete the E3 demo was, but you could make a bouncy little monster and run him around a 2D game world. You could collect stuff, as I recall. Sort of seemed like a little bit Animal Crossing with a Loco Roco look. I liked it!
It's on the 3DS eShop next week for $6.99. It has got to be killing them over there that they have to maintain three separate downloadable storefronts... WiiWare, DSiWare, eShop. Makes their press releases sound silly and fragmented. I'm sure we won't get unification on the console side until the Wii U launches, but that DSiWare is probably just hanging out until the new year and Nintendo feels comfortable enough with 3DS sales to abandon the DSi naming convention. I wouldn't ditch DSiWare releases, I'd just rebrand the DSiWare shop so it's a sub-category under the eShop heading or something, and then gradually let the DSi fade.