Thursday, January 24, 2008

ain't never gonna happen, but

Maker of Amazing Games Tetsuya Mizuguchi drops a lovely interview, mostly about the new port of Rez. (I've been trying to score a Dreamcast version of Rez for a long time.) At the end, he declares:

If I had a reason to remake Space Channel 5 on the new platforms, I will do that.

SC5 was the first game I bought for my Dreamcast; a month or so later, it was the game that sold DDT on the console. It's the one rhythm game I haven't yet beaten, and believe me when I tell you I'll play it on any platform Sega/Mizuguchi graces.

Kotaku pointed this interview out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

shmups make Fat insane: an introductory appendix

An oddity I ponder occasionally: the most worthwhile writing on gaming tends to come from the UK.(1) In recent times, the estimable Eurogamer grants its favored titles the label "moreish". This might be the most game-useful label I've yet encountered.

And the most moreish title since, probably, fucking Tetris would have to be my newly-acquired Geometry Wars: Galaxies (DS).

Now, what it means to be moreish in my mind is that when you fail, you still want to play more.(2) It's the arcade sensation par excellance: the game kills you, but you still feel you can beat it, and you shove another quarter down its maw to demonstrate same. I knew GW:G had this quality a couple hours after I bought it, a week ago: I was down the coffee shop, and I fired it up. Two hours later, I hadn't shifted, my thumb was killing me, and my eyes were absolutely fried, since I hadn't been blinking.(3)

GWG plays sorta like Robotron, in that you can shoot in any direction whilst you move in any direction. And it looks a lot like Asteroids, in that the backgrounds are mostly black, and the figures are mostly vectorish. (Single-color lines.) Aesthetically, then, this game is possessed of the rarest quality in the medium: beauty.

Game's simple: you pick a galaxy, then you pick a world, then you fly around. Some worlds are largeish, some tiny, some square, some ellipticalish, and so on. Critters show up, a wide variety, generally en masse, and you shoot at them, killing them afore they touchkill you. You kill them, they blow up. The fragments they leave, you can collect, which helps your score, and helps your gun shoot better. So, better you kill, better your killing-gun gets.

Also you have a little buddy--a "drone"--and before you enter any world, you get to pick what she's gonna do. She can gather up the fragments of felled enemies ("geoms", the currency of the game), shoot enemies, circle around yr craft in circles of varying speeds and sizes, shoot stuff, and so on.(4) Eight options in all.

The critters have a lot of different forms, and every form has a different behavior. Some chase you, some move in patterns unrelated to your craft, some wander toward you while avoiding your fire...some chase you fast and force you to fire on them from odd angles. All of them can kill your sorry ass, and at some point, you will grow to hate each and every one of them.(5)

The game's mostly a score game. Every world has a set of medals, attained at certain score thresholds. At the moment, I crave a gold on every world. I've played 14 worlds, and have 8 golds (6 silvers). I have 43 more worlds to unlock. And conquer!!(6)

And if I hated myself, I could connect my 'loved little grey brick to the 'nets and access some leaderboards to realize and reenforce how shoddy a videogame player I really am. But for the next coupla weeks, I'm just blasting baddies, hoovering geoms, and absolutely loving Geometry Wars.


(1) Favorite examples would be:
UK Resistance, the English Wizznutzz, somehow capable of moments of real beauty;
Eurogamer, the only review site whose workers actually like video games;
Affectionate Diary, which realizes many of my ambitions for this here site. (So far as this here site pertains to games.)

(2) I mean, it's not just "I like this and want to keep playing". Moreishness has to do with the response to failure, I think.

(3) My verdict: Instant Classic. This was confirmed later, when I began to explore its multiplayer with Canada. 4 times in the first 5 minutes of play, I heard him mutter "Oh, yeah. I could get obsessed with this."

(4) So far, I've only unlocked half of the drone behaviors. Each has seemed useful in varying worlds--one minor complaint about the high scores list is that no mention is made of the drone (behavior) you choose. This is likely deliberate, but it's still frustrating. If I've only had success on Sureis (my Waterloo) with a Collect drone, I'd like to know it! I don't want to keep using a Sweep drone!! Throw me a fucking drone bone, developers!!

(5) Couple nights ago, batt'ling for living-room supremacy with Canada, I mentioned the rather brilliant comic series. It's sorta a Battlestar Galactica, in which the blue-diamond beasties--Viagrons--are presented as peaceful explorers. They percieve the human crafts as a threat, and mobilize against them, as the humans send out ships that are heavily armed, very fast, and essentially without armor. It's a good series; well worth a look.

(6) If somebody gifted me the Wii game, there'd be another 7 worlds to unlock on my DS cart. This...seems unlikely.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I leveled it !

Wanting to fire up the teal GameBoyColor my little sister had willfully disowned, but only possessing her carts of Ms. Pac-man and (an nonfunctional) Super Mario World DX, I snagged the Dragon Warrior I + II comp for 10 bucks.

As I mentioned in passing last time, Dragon Warrior (I) was 1 of those rented-for-the-weekend NES system and 1-3 games experiences from the early 90s. For reasons I cannot remember I had in my possession a copy of Nintendo Power featuring a walkthru or a map or something for DW, and, thinking myself clever as these "D 'n' D" sort of matters, attempted to fetcheth myself the legendary hero (and blood relative) Erdrick's ("Loto" in this restored GBC version) legendary armor from the ruined village of Haukness.

'Course, as experience w/ Phantasy Star II has now thoroughly schooled me, the challenge of these reptilian RPGs lies exclusively in the LEVELING. Leveling for experience and leveling for cold hard cash.1 To further "challenge" (and frustrate), while the random encounters are somewhat frequent, the rewards tend to be low - enjoy wandering around for 3 hours!2

So... Dragon Warrior handed my ass to me on a platter when I was 14. I would gloat how the tables had turned this time around, but the GBC version's been tweaked so leveling's not quite so much the grind.

The result's that you can beated Dragon Warrior in prob 10-12 hours. There are only 2 dungeons and they too have been easy-fied.3 I even made significant progress with DW regulated to the video-game equilivent of bathroom reading. Next thing I know, I'm all like 'hey I have ALL the items & all the spells', and, with little else to do, I hit up the final dungeon.4

So, yeah, the world of Dragon Warrior is set to right. Despite the easiness, it was still more fun (and more difficult) than Lunar Legend.5


1 See also, Adventure Log, No. 3.
2 I will!
3 As I have learned from playing Phantasy Star II on the original Genesis cart, these old-school RPGs derive their difficulty from
(A) Random encounters that don't net you large EXP rewards in exchange for the time vested to run into these same encounters in the first place. Even moreso w/ Gold. The lack of monetary rewards is so slim and the cost of equipment so high that the acquiring of capital quickly becomes the central herculean task of the game, w/ leveling a convenient positive byproduct of income.
(B) HUGE dungeons that are not, like more modern RPGs, essentially rudimentary puzzles, but rather infuriating complex mazes akin to those paper placemats you colored on at the family restaurant as a kid. Littered w/ random encounters, the dungeon crawl becomes a death march - a slow calculated-risk slog to see if the party can reach the end of the dungeon w/o running out of healing spells or potions.
.In the easy-fied GBC version of DW1, random encounters net you either more exp or gold than usual, so leveling & income collection rewards come at less effort (or with less annoyance, depending on how you look at it).
4 DW1 has, like, 2 dungeons of any consequence in them. 1 of these is the final dungeon and the other one I sorta stumbled around 'til I found what I was looking for.
5 I Beated It!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

like a airborne primate savior hanging ten

For reasons, I needed a bit of retail to-day. (This naked preacher will play.) Unfortupredictably, I'm broke-broke. This offers, though, a shot at the kind of big game hunting DDT talks about now and again.

So at my Goodwill I surveyed the scene: busy! Like...crowded. Cluttered, a competitive landscape. I've spent my life in public; I pass through clots of people like a ghost, they don't even notice that 200+ pounds of natural man has just brushed on by'm. (Unless my bag o' tricks snags up'm.) (This naked preacher will play.)

Up the front of the cluster at the case, I see the detritus of the gamer's holiday upgrades. Like sherds of cocoon-husk, there lie two XBoxen and another GameCube. (The GCN has doubled in price from the one I scored for DDT t'other week, and this one of course failed to feature the GameBoy Player.) One can fairly imagine the dewy wings of the newly 360-enabled, or the soaring arcs of a lad now possessed of an Wii, these creatures freed from the iron (-age) shackles of outdated leisure technology...

pretty tied up

Me? I wallow in those shackles; I'm pretty tied up.

Fat finds two Star Wars games for the GCN: Rogue Squadron 2, prolly good enough; Clone Wars, prolly abysmal. It's moot, tho', cuz some reprobate yoinked the effing disks! But there is a thing, Burnout, racing game with bigtime crashy action for a hamilton's worth o' wing-wangs, so I snap'er up. Idly I crack open the case of the Wind Waker, and befind a memory card!! I swop it into the Burnout case and flee.

Back of the store is the hinterlands of electronics, where unbagged, incomplete product sits, cheek to jowl with all manner of 'lectrical miscellany. PS2, yup. PS, sure. Controllers? Cables? Not so much. Guess this is a wasted rummage thru the provinces--hey, what now!? Boxed Dreamcast Controller?! You BETCHA!

A swoop through the book section nets me a coupla gag gifts:
Able Team book for Collision
Dianetics book for Canada.

Oh! Strategy guide for the (aforementioned) Wind Waker, which I have enjoyed, here and there (it's beautiful and rich with charm, but I'm nigh-immune to the Zelda formula, it seems) but got stuck on the second challenge in the first dungeon, and quit. Since the lovely young lady who rang me up guesstimated the price of the guide at half a wing-wang, I couldn't--didn't--turn it down.

Can't wait to browse that semi-licit ('licious!!) memory card.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

one tragedy

I was just writing a personal email. I was struggling with the content, as the note was to somebody important to me, so I wasn't paying much attention to the form, and I was paying zero attention to my touch-typing little hands. I finished the unsatisfying email, and let it sit there for a while. I played around in my browser's other tabs, grumping to myself over the lousy text I'd just produced.

Then I realized I had something left to say! Quick as a Dreamcast's loading screen, I flashed back to the hotmail tab, and began to type in a Post Script. Only. Did my traitor hands type "P.S."?

They did not. I began that section by typing PS1.

I feel shame.

I go, now, to play outside.