Posts Tagged ‘Nakadai

22
Oct
10

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

The change:

This game does not follow the kanon of the previous ones. This is a whole new legend.
We need to remember that this game is not developed by the ordinary Castlevania team. Mercurysteam from Spain is behind this one, under guidance by Hideo Kojima. If you played the old Castlevania games and expected to experience Symphony of the Night, or Super Castlevania in 3D, you’ll be disappointed. But make no mistake, this is a great game, but you will just not get that “Vampire Killer-feeling” as you used to.

The prints of Kojimas mind are many in LoS, although much more subtle than in the MGS-series. This time, the plot presented to us through previews and trailers are not to kill Dracula. This time we’re gonna save our fair lady, much as in Dantes Inferno and Shadow of the Colossus. This tells us that this game is different from the other ones. But don’t worry.
Dracula has an appearence in this game to.
Kojima is a genius and he seldom fails when involved in a game. The minutes that follows after the end credits will make you understand and when you’re done shitting bricks, let’s all wait for his next nocturnal project in childish anticipation.

Gameplay:

This game is addictively fun.
Not only is the gameplay wonderful (clever mapping of the controls, dynamic use of magics, sub-weapons and the whip) but the replay value is great as well. You’ll have a lot of techniques to learn and by revisiting levels and chapters, you’ll gain the XP required in no time – and have lots of fun doing so. There are three kinds of crystals representing life, light magic and shadow magic that you need to collect. While on the world map, you can easily check which levels you’ve missed crystals or weapon upgrades on and since you’ll need specific abilities to reach to the places where these items might be, the stat screen on the map comes in handy for these revisits.
Another thing that I find awesome in this game is the boss fights. They demand more than just button mashing and when you’re playing it on the second hardest difficulty, that is not a suggestion. It’s a must if you want to succeed. The diversity of actions gives you a splendid control of the situation in an user friendly way.
So if Gabriel dies, it is not the game who fails – it is you.

The story:

I did not find the story very compelling. Or entertaining.
It didn’t made you feel like “Holy shit! What will happen next?!” or anything like that. It’s an okay story, but WAY too thin and in lack of substance. A classic move in previous Castlevania games is to refer to other games in the franchise, but this time, I felt that was lacking. Sure, some characters and  locations was sharing names with previous equivalents from the predecessors, but it was not enough. The game was TOO new for an old fan of the franchise like me. Much like FF13, but this time I didn’t want to flay the characters and push them down a slope in a barrel full of salt.

The music:

The soundtrack is awful. Come back, Kinuyo Yamashita! We DO love you!
The Castlevania series has been known to have a really strong soundtrack. When we first heard ‘Vampire Killer’ on the first stage, smashing torches and collecting whip powerups in 1986, we knew that the music was awesome. We still know that it is. In the coming games, new songs appeared, but there were almost always a few old classic from an earlier game turning up somewhere. In Symphony of the Night, we fell in love with a whole bunch of new songs that today is considered Castlevania classics. With this in mind, there were still a couple of old songs reappearing – remixed or remastered.

There is only ONE song present in this game that is familiar to us. Listen carefully to it, because that will be the only time you hear anything from the past in this game.
This soundtrack is just your ordinary, mundane philharmonic score with no personality. It’s good music, but it’s NOT Castlevania material and if that was what they aimed for, they failed epically.

The voice acting:

As you probably already know, Robert Carlyle and Patrik Stewart are the voice actors of the two main characters and you can tell that there is a huge difference between acting in front of a camera and giving voices to animations. They succeeded in displaying emotions aurally, but they do it as you would in front of a camera. This is an epic adventure in a videogame and that demands some over-dramatic acting if it should be convincing. It was good, but not good enough.

The trophies:

“Collect them all” and “play the game”.  Oh yeah – there’s one for each difficulty too.
Surprised? Didn’t think so.

In short terms:

Just like Final Fantasy XIII, this is a game for new players. Sure, FFXIII was utter crap, convincing us of the enormous ego that Square Enix has gained after years of success and what shitstained damage that can leave us with.
This, however, is not that bad. There are new developers and a TOTALLY different mind supervising the whole thing.
But this is not a Castlevania game.
Yes, it has the same title and yes, the main character is named Belmont, but NO – this is not what some of us grew up with. With that put aside, the game is still great and I recommend you to play it, especially if you’re not familiar with the old series.

PS. By demand from my dear co-writer, I’ll recommend you to check out the Castlevania Wiki in case you’re not aware of the earlier games.

 

Why Dracula should fondle Big Boss…

The end is the beginning? – Beat the game and find out 

Solid Belmont – The spirit of Kojima is everywhere and I like it

Violence is fun! – Some bosses are just awesome to confront

Jooyyy….stick. – Tactical gameplay FTW

09
Oct
10

Space Invaders: Infinity Gene

God damn it.
It’s been a busy week. There’s a lot of planning going in for me right now, as you might have noticed, the weekly post got delayed again.

I’m still waiting for Vanquish to show up and our keyboardist to finish Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, so in the time being, I’ll give you a review of a classic upgraded to fit 2010.

Space Invaders was created by Tomohiro Nishikado in 1978 and was produced and distributed by Taito.

It is as simple as it is addictive and in a time were Star Wars, The War of the Worlds and similar sci-fi adventures were popular, defending bases against aliens in a videogame was pretty awesome.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is the newest installation of the game, first released for the iOS in 2009 and was recently released for XBLA and PSN this year.

This neo-retro version introduces an ‘evolution system’, which grants the player new moves and different fire power to choose from before starting their game, to name a few. When you play, you gain points and when these points reach up to a certain amount  (shown as a blue bar in the stat screen between the levels) your ship will evolve. After a while, the evolution will also add bonus levels, music that you can listen to from the bonus menu, et cetera.

…and since I mentioned it – the music:
It is not very surprising that the soundtrack is made up of minimalistic techno, bearing much resemblance to the soundtrack for Pixeljunk: Eden.
However, if you’re into this kind of music (which I am) you will enjoy it for more than just some aural ambience for the game.

The trophies are, as ecpected, pretty weak. It is a PSN game after all.
Some of them got that retro feeling to them, as the  one requiring you to get a high score of 10.000.000 points.
Apart from that, there are some other “gain-a- certain-amount-of”-trophies mixed in, not to mention the “beat-the-game” trophies. You got one trophy for each difficulty and there are five of them. FIIIVE! (Said in a dark, sinister voice, trying to sound like the narrative at the title screen of Resident Evil 5.)

To sum it up, this is a fun game, but I doubt it will live for long. You’ll probably spend a few hours playing it (I’ve done aprox 8 so far) but there are other shooters that I’d drastically prefer, as Gradius…FIIIVE! for the Playstation 2.
By the way, when will they release an equally good Gradius on the PS3…?

Why all the base are belong to us…

“Back in my days…” – Neo-retro is the new black.

Uhn-tiss, baby – Great music. I want the soundtrack.

What’s a checkpoint? – It’s challenging and not crap-easy.

Darwin were on to something – The evolution system is addictive.

02
Oct
10

Videogame Style Guide Book

No review this week!
We’ve too busy feeding our abuse known as Borderlands.
It’s been far too long since we played it together and we got splendidly stuck with it last night, thus the “duty” to resume this fine social endeavour.

In the meantime – please enjoy this awesome guide that I happened to find a while back. It’s informative and thoroughly written and I’ve been wanting to post it anyways, so here you go.

See you on friday!

Videogame Style Guide Book

26
Sep
10

heavy rain

First of all, I want to apologize for the delay of reviews.
There has been some technical issues that has put a stop to our productivity, but that will change.
Sorry about that.
We’ll be up and running with weekly posts on fridays from now on.

Videogames used to be an arcade thrill in pixels back in the days.
You needed to think fast and learn how the stages/laps proceeded. It was all about skills and wits and not as much variation. Today, gaming has reached a whole new level and with games such as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, they became a lot more an experience than actual hardcore button-mashing.
Heavy Rain is at the peak of this progression and is in an easy (although not very justifying) way described as a movie which gives you, as the player, options to alter the story with quick time events (QTE’s).

The story takes place in 2011 and a serial killer, known as the Origami Killer, is on the loose.
The killer kidnaps young boys between 9-13 yrs of age. Since the cops have not yet managed to catch the killer or rescue any child, they all end up dead by drowning, with an orchid and an origami animal by his side, the signum of the killer.
Ethan Mars is an architect and a father of two sons. When one of his sons dies in a tragic accident, he loses himself and becomes depressed and isolated.
Madison Paige is a journalist that suffers from insomnia and involuntarily gets dragged in into the investigation of the mysterious killer.
Norman Jayden is an FBI agent that uses ARI technology (Added Reality Interface – a pair of glasses and a glove that can trace otherwise invisible leads on crime scenes) in his investigations, but to a high price.
Scott Shelby is a retired cop that has become a Private Investigator that now hunts the Origami Killer.
Lauren Winters is a former prostitute that has lost her son to the killer and decides to find the murderer.
These five persons fates will intertwine and the plot will take many turns before it unravels itself.

If you usually plays shoot’em up and action/adventure games, this one might seem a bit dull. To be honest, I found it a bit slow for my own taste, but it does not stop me from calling it a masterpiece. And by masterpiece, I refer to the atmosphere and the dramaturgy. This game truly is remarkable as it delivers a plot worthy of any well-produced crime/triller movie and the characters are not made up, in a physical way of speaking. The faces you see can easily be found if you search the internet for the actors behind the characters. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) is made up. So is John Marston (Red Dead Redemption), Sam Fischer (Splinter Cell) and Cole McGrath (InFamous).
These characters are “real”. And they certainly feel real in the game. No Final Fantasy bullshit, where everyone has to be homogenically supersexy and beautiful. No, these are REAL people and that is what gives the game credibility and it’s own, more authentic sense of beauty.

The score is good, but WAY too overdramatic for my taste. At one time, you have to take Ethan through a crowd of people at a train station and since he suffers from agoraphobia (fear of being in open spaces, in a crowd, to sum it up) this is a crucial moment. And the music gets REALLY dramatic at this point. Not anything creeping, like there’s a tension. It’s more like “For fuck’s sake, destroy the ring, Frodo!”.

The trophies are excellent, as far as I know. I’ve beaten the game once (which gives me at least ten more times to do it) and of all the trophies, there are only four(?) of them that are not secret ones. When you’re having an option in the game (save him/her, do NOT save him/her) you might get a trophy, depending on your actions and decisions. This gives the game a replay value, not only for the sake of the trophies, but for you to find out what would happen in you’d done things differently. And trust me – the “what if…”-factor is big in this game.

The only thing I can complain about is the voice acting. I don’t find it as convincing as it could have been. It’s good, but not good enough. The lip-sync is great and the credability on that point is great, but I just wish the sorrow, anxiety and anger could have had a better portrayal. A big plus for the fact that the voice actors are the same people that gave faces to the characters. That, on the other hand, gives it a credability that stereotypical (Solid Snake, Mario, etc) can’t deliver.

This game is not to be played as a game, as much as it should be viewed as a criminal thriller where you participate through QTE’s.
It is a kind of experience no other game will give you and I strongly recommend that you play it.
Not only for the different take on videogame experiences, but as to get perspective on how home console videogames have evolved through the aproximately 40 years they have been around. From “The Brown Box” of the 70’s, to our modern PS3, 360 and Wii.

Why movies and videogames mesh splendidly…

Keeping it real – Real faces, real voices.

What if…? – The re-play value is really cleverly designed.

“Cutie” – This is what Quick Time Events were made for.

Light, camera, action! – A new strain of videogaming experience.

06
Sep
10

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game

I was browsing through the Playstation Store, when I stumbled upon the demo of this game.
Sooo, let’s see… Big, fat pixels in HD, 8-bit music…yeah.
Yeah I’m hooked.

Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim is a comic in six volumes, that started in 2004 and the 6th book was finally completed this year.

The story takes place in Toronto, where the 22-year old boy Scott Pilgrim lives. He is the bass player of a band called Sex Bob-Ombs (SMB2, anyone?) and together will Stephen Stills (the talent, guitarist and singer) and Kim (female rough neck and drummer) they try to become famous. In the midst of this, Scott meets Ramona Flowers, to whom he falls in love. The only this standing between Scott and Ramona are her seven evil exes that he has to defeat in order to date her.

A movie has been released, based on the comic and the game was produced and co-released with the movie. As soon as the game was available for download, I got the demo and tried it out. My expectations were met and surpassed.

The music is written by the band Anamanaguchi and is a strange, but ingenious combination of chip tunes and punk rock. I’m not a huge fan of punk rock, quite the contrary, but this is actually really good. The soundtrack was released in the US just a few days ago and I’m looking forward to get my hands on that. Check out their MySpace page here.

One of the first things that come to mind when playing this game is the challenge. Not that the enemies are particularly hard to beat, but the levels are intriguingly long. When you level up (oh, yes, it’s one of those games) you gain new abilities which comes in handy when dealing with exes and other frantic brawlers. If you use these techniques right, you shouldn’t have much of a problem maiming your way through. The controls are really simple and easy-to-use, so the only one you can blame for messing up, is yourself. Well, except for the counter move. It more like a 50/50 chance to succeed with that one.

Another great add-on to the game play are the several shops that you pass by on your journey. You can eat sushi, fajitas, drink coffee, energy drinks, etc. Every item gives you a few points in either strength, defence, speed and/or willpower, topped with some extra experience points. When I played River City Ransom (beat’em up for NES) I enjoyed the small shops you could enter and buy food and beverages, so when that part returns in this game, 21 years later, I’m getting a fuzzy, nostalgic feeling inside.

Since I have a Ph.D in trophy prostitution, I checked out the trophy list pretty quick and I must say – this is the weakest link in this game.

No co-op trophies, no knock-out-50-enemies-with-thrown-bottles-trophies, etc. You have one trophy for clearing the game with Scott, but what about the other three characters? I’d like to have trophies for, let’s say, “beating the first level without losing a life”, “beating the second level…” and so on. The aforementioned “throwing bottles trophy” got my senses tingling as well. You only have two boss-related trophies, which leaves five bosses out. That’s a bummer, if you ask me.
That put aside, I think it’s a great game that manage to capture that cozy retro feeling and since I am such a huge sucker for pixels, this goes down as AWESOME in my book.

The game is packed with gamer easter eggs. As the picture above suggests, the NES gets its fair share of tributes throughout the game. It’s Super Mario, Kirby and Mega Man, to name a few. If you get this game and have a history (and hopefully a present) that involves NES games, you should recognize the details as they occur.

And last but not least – Read the comic!
For the love of all that’s funny and/or holy, read the comic
before you play the game! You’ll enjoy the game sooo much more if you do so, trust me. I believe it’s a good order to start with the comic, play the game and last but not least, see the movie.
Comic-game-movie!

Why Scott Pilgrim kicks ass…

Bookworm True to the comic.
Take fighting to a new level Experience points. Period.
Gucci who? Anamanaguchi’s music is awesome!
Hip to be Square Pixel perfection.

26
Aug
10

Borderlands [NKD]

As a kid I watched a lot of cartoons.
Transformers, Thunder Cats, Starzinger, you name it. Time passed by and I grew older, but my interest for cartoons never receded. I’m 28 years old as I write this and I still watch cartoons. I sometimes fall back on Transformers and reminisce, but it has generally been replaced by anime of various kinds.

Videogames has also been a part of my life growing up, so when I finally played Dragon Ball Z: Budokai for the Playstation 2, I got really excited. Okay, it wasn’t a great game, but I was into the DBZ series and first and foremost, it looked like a cartoon. Well, it was cel-shaded, but that’s cartoon enough for me.

When I got my hands on Borderlands a few months ago, I was truly flabbergasted. Not only was it cel- shaded, but it was HD, FPS and RPG in one! I know I sound like a typical fanboy, all worked up over the latest release of a Star Wars movie or a new Final Fantasy game, totally totally oblivious to a critical and analytic way of thinking. That might be part of the truth, but this game actually lived up to my expectations.

The graphics are as close to a comic I’ve seen in a game so far. You have the stylized, striped shadows, the small “ink” details emphasizing body parts and the typical outline and it works perfectly. Nice details, but without getting too messy (unlike the armor of our bitter protagonist from Darksiders). Since it’s an FPS, you get a huge emphasis on the weapons and they surely deliver on that point too. Every weapon is unique, due to the “weapon generator”. The same goes for enemies and equipment too, so there’s a lot to pick from. The only downside is that you could get a shotgun with 4.9x zoom, while your sniper rifles tend to stick around the 1-2.5x range. I fail to see the logic in that.

A small detail to care about, considering the vast amount of weapons you’ll find. To top it off, you can also find weapons with different elemental attributes, with incendiary, explosive, chocking or corrosive additional damage. Trust me; you’ll find you weapon of choice.

Another thing that I like about the game is all the comments and one-liners you get from the characters, vault hunters and bandits alike. Every time I got a critical hit on one of the badass enemies (that is actually what they’re called), my character use to say “I don’t think he liked me”, followed by a sadistic laugh, which always made me laugh as well. Shared fun is twice the fun, right? I looked closer into the voice samples and I found out that it’s not only the weapons they have shitloads of. Every character have a couple of hundreds(!) different phrases and that alone gives a variation you surely appreciate.
Satisfaction abounds.

While running around in this desolate wasteland with tumbleweed and all that, you need some good ambience, right? Well, the composers responsible for the score made a great job. You get that ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ vibe while running around shooting skags and bandits and it really does the trick. To get a glimpse of its splendor, check out the awesome intro, with a great song from the band Cage the Elephant:

As you play the game, you’ll soon notice that you have a shitload of challenges that you can complete as well (shoot 2500 skags, get 500 critical hits, etc) and I’m still trying to complete the list, with great pleasure. You get experience points for completing these challenges, so it’s a good idea to check them out once in a while. Unfortunately, these challenges do not reward you with a trophy, once fully completed. Despite that, the trophies aren’t so bad. Sure, you’ve got the standard complete-an-episode thing going, which is just as classic as it is cliché nowadays.  You still got some goodies in there though. All in all, I like the trophies and they fun to achieve.

Since the game was released, they also released three DLC’s; The Zombie Island of Dr Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underground Riot and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, in that order. As DLC’s they were abundant and contained a lot of hours in gameplay, although it could get a bit repetitive at times. In Dr Ned and General Knoxx, you’ll have to travel back an forth on the map, completing one quest after another, but you can tell that the latter was the latest DLC to be released, due to it’s size and variation, in spite of the repetitiveness. Moxxi’s Underground Riot is just an arena add-on, where you can fight in three different arenas, completing different challenges. It also has a cool storage place, where you can buy space for up to 39 items, in case you’d have 4.000.000 dollars to spare. Let’s say you find a kickass gun, or mod, that you want to save for a later occasion (or character), you can just store it there.

The Video game magazine LEVEL wrote; “This game is for those who enjoyed Fallout 3, but would like to play in co-op”. I fully agree. It’s a fun game with a great tempo and if you’re into first person shooters, you should definitely try this one out.


Why Borderlands is greater than borderline…

You were saying..? Twice the fun with one-liners.
Slave to the grind Experience points in an FPS is a winning concept.
More…give me more! More guns and equipment than the US Army.
Can we do it again? Game plus!