Gaming Update : Dead Space 1 + 2

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Well, Hokuto Musou was a total fraud, so I decided to do a Dead Space 1 + 2 run. After completing both games (Dead Space on hard and Dead Space 2 on zealot), I have to say that the original Dead Space comes as the best game in my opinion. It was such a fantastic game, I can't believe I didn't played it earlier since I had it laying around for a while.

While Dead Space 2 had many very cool moments, the original has a whole lot of "wow" moments that the sequel lacks (I'm talking mainly of the scenery). The whole game feels so slick, I loved looking at the map, and the inventory, and how it makes it seem that Isaac is looking at them too.

Dead Space feels like it truly pushed the survival horror genre to this generation, and it reminds you of why Bio Hazard, Cold Fear, Dino Crisis etc. games of the time made the genre so popular in the first place, and why there aren't other acceptable substitutes around.

Dead Space 2 on the other hand, is a top-quality game, no doubt. But its designed and plays like a straight forward action game, and I don't know, some parts (again, scenery-wise) just didn't felt as memorable. The original also had its issues though. Like I can't believe they couldn't come with something else than making you do one errand after another all the way till the end.

Without spoiling anything, I also have to say that Isaac is one of the most ridiculously gullible character's in recent memory. But I loved how they made sure that every single person that wrongs you ultimately gets what they deserve.

And of course, after playing the sequel, I don't know what was the whole point of making Isaac a creepy silent protagonist in the first game then totally changing that in the sequel. I mean, the original game sort of felt less creepy because the main protagonist looked as scary as the enemies you were facing. But in the second game you find out Isaac is far from a creep, and in reality his attitute is more of the typical mr. nice guy hero type.

Difficulty wise is hard to tell which game was harder, both were quite frustrating at times. I died a whole lot of times and some enemies pissed me a lot. Isaac isn't particularly a nimble character, so when you get surrounded by those damn quick necromorphs, you know you're in trouble. Still, it's nowhere near as bad as the archaic Bio Hazard 5 where you can't even move while shooting.

There's a whole lot less ammo to be found on Dead Space 2, yet they balanced this by making enemies noticeably easier to kill, and also by giving you tons of stasis packs and also allowing you to regenerate it.

What really pissed me is how some cheap and fast enemies would instantly kill you in a single hit regardless of if you have a full life bar. It also doesn't help that most of the times Dead Space 2 is surprisingly more dark than the original, and you have a hard time seeing the smaller, or crawling enemies.

But if there's something I hate most of all is enemies that cannot be killed. This was awful in Dead Space since that one enemy was a real pain in the arse. There was this part where you have to move some bunk beds while dealing with that guy. Man, that was mind-bending frustrating.

All in all, both games are great, but I'll stay with the original for the most impacting, memorable game. I missed the map in Dead Space 2 and how cool it felt every time you upgraded your suit. Finding nodes also felt much more rewarding in Dead Space, while in Dead Space 2 you often felt they left the node doors in more because of tradition than anythng else.

Oh, and surpsingly the original was the longer game (or at least it was for me). It took me 19hrs to beat it, while the sequel only took me around 15-16hrs.

I guess I just can't get into fighting games anymore (Marvel vs. Capcom 3)

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I used to be a big fan of fighting games, hell I got my first arcade cabinets mainly for fighting and shooting games.. I was even quite competitive actually. But now, I don't know, the genre just has died in me.

They've got Marvel vs. Capcom 3 here since around last week (yeah, you guessed right), and I dind't even felt like playing it, but today I said what the hell and gave it a try.

It's such a shame that they changed the cla$$ic 6 button layout, now it feels more like Tatsukono vs. Capcom. Of course I got owned pretty hard, but I didn't even cared, I just don't feel like putting the effort into it.

So what do you think of the game? My favourite game in the series is still Marvel vs. Street Fighter. It just has more charm for me.

By the way, picked up Dead Space 2, but I'm not gonna play it until I feel like playing the first one. And also a replacement copy of Hokuto no Ken, since when I finally decided to install the copy I had, I noticed it had a deep scratch and wouldn't install. The new one installed successuful, and I guess that's what I'll be playing.



Finally made the jump

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Well, my venerable 36" Sony WEGA that gave me years of wonderful gaming finally bited the dust. Noticeable purple color blotches started appearing at the sides of most stuff on screen and it was just unnaceptable to keep playing games like that.

But boy that TV was a monster. It took three people to carry it out. Man, TVs have gone a long way since then...

Anyway, so now I have a 32" Samsung LCD HDTV, so the HD era has finally begun for me. But while this has been going on for quite a while, I never really looked very much into it, so it's still quite new to me.

It's just too bad that this new technology couldn't be more friendly with the older one. I don't think I will like playing old games on this TV with borders on the sides. The PS2 got quite a few widescreen games, but besides that I think my old game are going to look like crap.

I'm finally getting why so many people want HD remakes/enhancements of games. It's not just for having them in HD, but because playing such games in new TVs clearly diminishes the graphical experience.

I guess I will have to invest in a small tube TV to play my old games. But for now I will have to rely on my NOMAD and PC for retro games. I guess I could also hook my old consoles to my arcade set ups, but I'm too lazy to do that every time I feel like playing some games.

Fortunately right now I'm more into the Japanese legacy PC gaming, so I'm not playing console stuff regularly.

Like I said, I'm not used to HD tweaks, so if anyone has any advice or suggestions on the best picture settings for an LCD HDTV, that'd be great. Right now I'm using the standard setting, the TV came with the backlight setting at 14/20 by default and it nearly got me blind, until I realized I had to tune it down. Right now I have it at 5/20.

This generation needs a proper GODZILLA game

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5 years ago「SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS」gave us players a new meaning of "larger-than-life" enemies. Nowadays however, huge enemy battles are a normal occurrence in current-genration games, although fortunately whenever these "battle the huge enemy" moments are done right, the resulting experience is almost always fun and impressive.

So, with the current-gen trends for huge enemies and sandbox-type games, I feel the time for an awesome GODZILLA game that actually does the franchise the justice it deserves has finally come.

Godzilla!

Think of the posibilities for sheer enviromental destruction.

Now, I don't want a current-gen「KING OF THE MONSTERS」type of game (although to tell you the truth, if done right I can see a lot of potential for it!). A game where you can control GODZILLA and freely go around destroying Tokyo would be a better idea. Even though this concept has already been exploited before (like in GODZILLA GENERATIONS for the Dreamcast), I think with the current-gen technology the gameplay experience would be on a totally different level than of what was offered in the previous generations.

Still, that's not quite what I want.

What I want is a game where you can play from the prespective one of those horrified people running around from the havok caused by GODZILLA and his battles with his fellow monsters like RODAN and MOTHRA. This way you could experience the destruction of buildings and the resulting chaos from a more impressive point of view.

Godzilla!

Monster to City : GRRRRRRR!

A cool idea would be to start playing as a soldier on foot, or in a tank, moving forward to better vehicles as the game progresses. Then when none of those is able to stop GODZILLA, late in the game you would be one of the pilots that control MECHA GODZILLA and then finally battle GODZILLA on his own terms!

Another great concept would be a sandbox-type game where you could watch GODZILLA and the rest of the gang wreaking havoc throughout the city, and your character basically runs around avoiding them and trying to find a way to stop them either by building MECHA GODZILLA or throughout some other means. Then maybe other monster's would come later, and your character would have to get close to them, and find clues on how to defeat them. Finding the right weak spots.

godzilla x mechagodzilla

GODZILLA X MECHA GODZILLA : A battle only current generation systems can handle!

In any case, I think it would be a great loss if a proper GODZILLA game is not released for the Xbox 360 or PS3 this generation. The way this generation of consoles handle huge enemies and enviromental destruction wasn't possible before, so I hope some developers feel motivated enough to give us fans a true and satisfying GODZILLA game.

Or I hope GODZILLA does come out and destroy their cities! (`-´メ )

Lost Planet 2 = My favourite game of the year

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With over 50 hours of (single offline) gameplay, and having unlocked all weapons,abilities, characters etc. I can safetly say that Lost Planet is my favourite game of the year.

When I first read the mostly negative reviews about the game I wasn't that surprised. After all, I own Lost Planet and it's certainly one of the most frustrating games I've played on the Xbox 360. I almost threw away my controller playing the game on the Hard difficulty setting as I was spending more time on the floor (after being blownback every 30 seconds by an enemy or explosion) than running around or shooting. And when I wasn't being blownback by pretty much everything in the game, I was running out of T-Energy, and you can't do without in the game. So when I did finished the game in Hard, I said to myself "no way I'm gonna do this again in Extreme difficulty" And that's pretty much the last time I played the original Lost Planet.

But despite the frustrating difficulty level, there were various things I did liked about Lost Planet. Plus there is defintely a shortage of Japanese Xbox 360 games nowadays, since for some reason many Japanese companies (specially Konami) don't even bother to develop their own franchises and instead hire western subsidiary studios to do the work.

But as good as western developers are, they just don't have the Japanese touch. And it is not a question of quality, but of style, of how they view gaming overall. Western developers can't imitate the Japanese style, period. So I said what the hell, put my trust in Capcom and fortunately was pleasanatly surprised.

Most of the reviews I've read warned me of an even more frustrating game with incredibly awkward gameplay, however my experience was exactly the opposite as I found Lost Planet 2 to be one of the most fun and engaging shooting action games I've played this generation.

Now, I do realize this game isn't for everyone, but still, I feel that most of the complaints I've read on reviews are blown out of proportion, and I want to comment on them.

1. Frustrating Factor

Personally I don't see how could someone think Lost Planet 2 is more frustrating than the original. Lost Planet was hell for me on the Hard difficulty (and I always play games on hard so I'm used to it), and it pretty much discouraged me to play it in extreme (or any further for that matter). In Lost Planet 2 I've managed to get S Rank in most Episodes in Hard and a few in Extreme. I wasn't blownback as much, and more importantly, you have A.I. team mates to support you, and if you get defeated, you just respawn for as much as you have enough battle gauge.

There's not going back to a save point and do the same stuff again in Lost Planet 2, and that makes a huge difference. The review here on GS also mentions the train scene in Episode 3-3 as one of the most frustrating stages in a shooting game, but it's actually one of my favourites, and I aced it in Normal and Hard and got it done in Extreme by playing solo.

Sure, there are some times where you can get shot down with a single hit from a sniper, or get thrown off a platform by an explosion, but it's just the usual stuff that you'd expect to happen from time to time.

2. Teammates A.I.

Your offline teammates certainly could be smarter but they certainly aren't useless as the reviews make them look like. In fact, if it wasn't for their help, taking on some of the bosses would've been very difficult. When they set up to, they can even take them down themselves.

But what really gets me is that the reviewers make it seem like smart A.I. teammates are the norm in gaming today when from what I can tell it's still far from that. And I can give a few examples :

Gears of War 2 = Seriously, Dom is the perfect example of a braindead A.I. teammate and he's only good for hauling his useless arse back to me for revival. Whenever I heard Marcus Fenix say "Delta Squad we gotta do this or that" I just rolled my eyes because I knew the word "we" meant I had to do everything.

I specially remember playing the game on the hardest difficulty and during the fight with the predator-like Locust leader, Marcus tells Dom to help him with the exploding insects that come out during the fight. But you know what Dom did in my game? Remain crouched in one of the walls without firing a single shoot. He was a total dead weight throughout my entire run on the hardest difficulty.

Halo Reach = The only good thing about your teammates is that they're invincible and can draw a bit of enemy fire. Other than that they never helped me in the least during the campaign, and I never saw them defeat any powerful enemy unit.

Vanquish = With that many soldiers alongside you throghout most of the game you'd think that even if they suck they still would make a difference. Unfortunately it turns out their shots only barely damage the enemy, unlike your character. So even if you do see them engaging the enemy, their combined effort is pretty much irrelevant.

Your teammates in Lost Planet 2 are at least more useful than on the games mentioned above. They can take down enemies, bosses, activate data posts, and also serve as comic relief. They do make a very noticeable difference, something I cannot say about the above examples.

Lost Planet 2 really reminds me of the good old days of shooting games. The way the game is set up allows you to jump in to any Episode and have fun. The game is a real blast in single player, so I can only imagine the game being even more fun with a human companion, either via splitscreen or online.

The Good Jobs (little stage-centric achievements) are also a great and rewarding addition that actually encourages you to play the game better. Plus the game is overall a heaven for fans of unlockable stuff, as there's just tons and tons of stuff to be won.

All in all, Lost Planet 2 is definetly my favourite Japanese game on the Xbox 360 this year. Bayonetta has great gameplay, but I can't stand the characters who irritate me to no end. Vanquish was an awesome surprise, but it left me wanting more, and is not a game I would find myself replaying often. Dead Rising 2 (my runner-up game) is just weird... I completed the whole game without a single frame drop, but now I get them all the time (with and without the game installed) and don't know how to fix it (clearing the system's cache didn't helped), so now the game feels unplayable to me.

Lost Planet 2 came to me at a time where I feel the Japanese developers are only a shadow of their former selves on consoles, and western games have completely taken over. So this little game has certainly reinvigorated my interest for current-gen gaming.

DECO's Ultimate Non-Stop Shooting Action Game!

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THUNDER ZONE was the last game released in the popular DECO series of "Army Men" shooting games. Coming after such cla$$ics like MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE and BLOODY WOLF.

Released during one of the most competive periods for the shooting genre at the game centers. THUNDER ZONE distinguished itself from the rest thanks to its frantic non-stop shooting action and unique multiplayer mechanics, that combined with an awesome original soundtrack and the notorious DECO humour of the time, made it into one of the most interesting shooting games of the early '90s.

http://retrogaming.blog128.fc2.com/blog-entry-21.html

Rotary Joysticks : Cool but Useless?

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http://img.f.hatena.ne.jp/images/fotolife/y/yaonata/20080330/20080330162328.jpg

Remember the arcades of the mid and late '80s?

Remember how some shooting games like IKARI, Heavy Barrel, and Midnight Resistance had these cool rotary joysticks that allowed you to move in one direction while shooting in another?

Remember how some cabinets had their rotary joysticks so worn-out that they became a pain in the arse to use?

And finally, remember how these once very popular controllers just vanished all of a sudden?

If you do, then check my retrospective about these rotary devices of wonder and share your own playing memories!

http://retrogaming.blog128.fc2.com/blog-entry-22.html

My new blog

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Finally I have put together a new blog which you can visit at :

http://retrogaming.blog128.fc2.com/

I still have to polish it a little bit more, but please vist and tell me what you think.

Also please note that the blog is best viewed using FIREFOX on 1024x768 resolution. I have tested the blog on FIREFOX, IE and an IPhone. But for some reason it just wont show correctly on IE (the right border of the post entry title is always missing) and I honestly don't have a single clue of how to fix it. So please just use FIREFOX.

I'm also in the process of translating the entries from my failed site, and which is being a real big pain in the arse. However I thought it would be pretty lame to show you guys the new blog with just the boring old stuff which you've already seen.

So for my new entry I have started a blog concept I've been wanting to do for a while, and which is basically to showcase the arcades or "game centers" that have appeared in video games and anime. The first of these entries is dedicated to the "YOU" game center from SHENMUE. So I hope you enjoy it.

I really hope this new blog works out so that I can once again bring you more new stuff about the wonderful world of Japanese retro video games. So please visit the blog and comment. :)

Oh and also please give me your feedback about the layout and of any errors or weird stuff you might encounter.

Remembering the 90s.

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I haven't written anything new in here for a long time, but since I recently dusted-off some of my old videogame magazines that I haven't read in a while, I felt like talking about videogaming back in the 90s and specially in the timespan between 1993 and 1995.

I really don't think there ever will be another year in the history of videogames as exciting and crazy as 1994, EVER.

I mean this was the time when the...

* Mega Drive
* Mega CD
* Super 32X
* Game Gear
* Super Famicom
* Game Boy
* PC-Engine DUO
* 3DO
* CD-I (can you believe they actually bothered to redesign the system...why...?)
* Jaguar/CD
* NEO*GEO CD

... and the arcades were at full swing. And of course lets not forget that the..

* SEGA SATURN
* Playstation
* PC-FX

were launching in November of that year. And lets also not forget the SEGA Channel, The X-Band, the Super Game Boy, the SEGA Activator, those multi-cartridge jukeboxes, that crazy game sound vest and all of the wacky third party peripherals of the time that (hopefully) you were smart-enough to know just by seeing their ads that they just couldn't work right.

I still really don't know if those companies releasing all that unnecessary nonsense actually thought consumers to be that stupid, or if they just had to try their luck.

Another noteworthy feature of this time is that most of the videogame magazines actually averaged the 350 pages mark worth of stuff. Of course they had to be fair in their coverage and many times you would find too many crappy games taking valuable space. Something else just as noteworthy is how a lot of games for the various "doomed" systems were previewed (some which actually looked very cool) but only few ended up being actually released.

This was also the time (contrary to popular belief) of the "Next Level" and "Playing with Power". The beginning of the long end of which was by much the most power-minded video game generation ever. After all this was the time of Megs, 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit, 16 million colors, CD-ROM, 50Mhz, 32-bit sound etc. etc. etc. When you actually knew how many Megs and colors, sound and whatnot a game actually had before you even played it because it was stamped all over game previews and reviews.

And the same power-minded mentality that thought that consumers could do with 6+ other more expensive platforms besides the dominating and cheaper Mega Drive and Super Famicom systems eventually corrupted that market too, and by this time you were pretty much expecting that the next noteworthy MD/SFC game was going to cost above the $60 mark. Why? Because companies already knew you would end up paying what they ask for anyway.

It is also interesting to read all the stuff that the fanboys of the time were writting to video game magazines. A lot of people actually thought that the next generation systems were the harbringers of the next big video game crash. After all you really had to be half-blind to not realize how most of those expensive high-end systems sucked big time and were already practically doomed. This combined with the expectation that the next-gen systems were probably going to retail at $400, and the overall high costs of an up-to-date gaming life let many people belive the video game world as it was then was going to implode.

Of couse we know now how things actually turned out, but in 1994 things were just too crazy and consumers were just too confused.

Overall these were certainly overwhelming times, even for people with a set and down to earth gaming preferences. I really don't think the sense of oversaturation and wonder of those days long gone by now will ever be replicated again.