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5 Best Big 3 Moments of E3

I'm back and enjoying a long weekend, so I decided that it would be fair to revive my little blog over here. What better way to do that than to talk about E3?

I won't be talking about my "games of show" (simply because it's too Nintendo-focused to even matter), but I'd really like to talk about some of the best/ironically enjoyable moments of the conferences conducted by the primary console companies that made their presences known at the expo.

5) "We can go anywhere!"

You've seen the Microsoft conference, you've seen the awkward Kinect demos: Skittles,the river-rafting, Wii- I mean- Kinect Sports. I mean, how much fun were theyhaving, right?

Uhh yeah...

When you pay an innocent little girl to say such classic lines as, "I know you like that... yes, you do." and "OK Skittles, that's enough... that tickles." the only question left to ask is:

Where will you grope your tiger?

4) More Sports Mini-game Compilations

Microsoft has a camera with much technological and theoretical potential. Sony has an upgraded wand technology that enables augmented reality and position tracking. So who, oh who, thought that it was a great idea to rip the Wii off? What kind of technological demonstration are you doing to your product when you're making consumers think that your product is derivative and just slightlysuperior to the Wii? If you're touting your motion controllers as "different", "revolutionary" and "better", then you already failed, because you're acknowledging that Nintendo's original strategy was legitimately a work of genius. But people have wisened up to the somewhat gimmicky feel Nintendo's package offered, and they'll think the same with Move and Kinect.

With all that ranting, why is this a "best moment"?

Considering that I'm a bit of a Nintendo guy (formerly Sony, and I'm admittedly wanting to come back to their side) this moment is kind of a moment of vindication. Nintendo is most definitely influential and the competition is playing catch-up- and to what? Wii Sports.

At some point during Microsoft's and Sony's press conferences, some hardcore Nintendo fanboy was probably cackling his arse off, the former especially.

3) Gabe Newell eating his words

At some point during E3, Valve's Portal 2party was suddenly cancelled. Nobody knew why until Gabe Newell suddenly showed up in Sony's turf- SONY'S- and announced something that everyone was dismissing as speculation: Portal 2for the PS3 would be the definitive console version of the promising-looking game. Also, Steamworksis coming to the PS3, which is actually huge considering that the potential for the ability to play Portal 2and continue with one save through PC, Mac and PS3 is kind of, I don't know, really enticing? Picture it: you bought Portal 2for the PS3 and you can download free copies of the same game for your PC and Mac, then continue everything from the point you stopped. That's awesome; a huge win for the consumer.

2) Kevin Butler

As if Jack Tretton wasn't already a surprisingly good presence in E3 this year, Sony also had the good idea of bringing out their big gun: Kevin Butler.

While he's mostly a PR guy, he's still a great marketer. I mean, he made this speech about games and gamers with his usual deadpan humor, all accompanied with some sarcastically grand music to complete everything! Yes, you could cynically say that he's a fake and doesn't really game all that much, but the way he delivers his lines is convincing enough for people to buy. All the signs of a good marketer, if I ever saw one (excluding Steve Jobs, of course).

He definitely put some spice in Sony's conference, although I don't think my #1 can be beat.

#1) The Nintendo 3DS

You saw this coming from a mile away, admit it. I don't think any reasons are needed to be made, but I still feel the need to justify this choice anyway.

What else can be said about it? It features a 3D enabled top screen (that can be customized as to how much 3D you want it to churn), an all-new slide pad, backward compatibility with DS cartridges, and even 3D cameras. Oh, and it's all a no-glasses affair. True, viewing angles are a legitimate concern, but usually, when playing a handheld, you're still looking directly at the screen anyway, so it's not much of an issue (or at least, it's an issue only preserved for flame wars).

The major part of the 3DS is that it simply restored my faith in Nintendo. I've been losing much faith in Nintendo's offerings lately, and as if the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2wasn't enough (PERFECT 10!), the E3 conference also held many, many epic Wii games that'll release soon. But the 3DS still took much of the cake because of the potential line-up and, yes, third-party support. Hell, even Hideo Kojima wants to make an MGS game here.

Regardless of whether 3D movies are of much concern in such a small screen, this is the way 3D should be introduced to the masses. Without glasses.

Price points and battery life may still alter my otherwise high opinion on this piece of hardware, but the near-Wii/PS2 graphics and glasses-less 3D technology is enough for me to actually make a day-one purchase. This was knocked out of the park, and the advanced announcement months before just made the pleasant surprise that much better.

Yay for Ace Attorney

If there's anything in the DS I really love, it's the Ace Attorney series. While Capcom is whoring the original Phoenix Wright trilogy out to the Wii, the iPhone, etc., they're still conscious about the existing fanbase of DS players that enjoyed the original DS port of Gyakuten Saiban, and thankfully, it's still almost just as good despite a few nagging issues that remain throughout the series.

I've posted a review for Ace Attorney Investigations, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Perhaps, I'll post a review for No More Heroes 2 tomorrow, which I just finished on Mild. Dang, that Pizza Bat is freaking cheap!

Antiquated Game Design #1: Continue?

Whilst playing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (which is awesome, by the way), I died during the boss battle. Laugh at my lack of skills, but the more pressing matter is the fact that there's a Continue screen. The one with the countdown and everything. I mean, seriously? Since when has it existed, and why is it still in modern fighting games?

Continue screen

(Credit: Destructoid)

Now, I'm not even going to delve into history, but I am going to delve in the differences it has over a "Game Over" screen, for me anyway. Technically, a Game Over means that you have to start from the beginning, or at least from a checkpoint, while Continue's offer you the chance to radically change your character BEFORE you get back into the action.

So with that cleared up, it's hard not to ask: why is this necessary?

My suggestion would be that if ever the player were to lose a match in a fighting game, he or she should be able to fight more people, but the twist is, you're fighting in another "tournament" so when you fight towards the end, you end up fighting a different boss than the one intended.

Now, wouldn't that possibility make for a much more immersive gameplay experience, given the right developer? Not only would it let the game continue in a way that's so silky smooth, it would also not bother the player with reselecting the characters they selected right from the start.

In addition to that, developers would be able to open up so much more story options, as story has traditionally been some of the less crucial aspects of the fighting game. Wouldn't it be better if it were crucial?

So in that fashion, unlockables would also be scattered much further across the game. So an unlockable could be like, "Lose in the 4th battle of this tournament, switch tournaments and defeat the boss of that tournament to unlock X character". Wouldn't it be much more enticing for the completists and the achievement junkies to play the game?

Besides, it would encourage a culture of "never give up". Continue screens basically let gamers choose if they want to give up or go on, and wiping these continue screens out would only leave gamers with the latter option, which theoretically is a bit more of a good thing. The game will be hard to put down, and if the fighting mechanics are of topnotch quality, it would be so good for gamers to go through the Arcade mode, because the stories can vary, and the flow of the game won't stop even if the player lost a match.

Truly, that would add so much substance to the fighting game genre. A roster like that of King of Fighters, Super Smash Bros., Soul Calibur, Tekken and Street Fighter would fit this mold, and I'd like to hope that this kind of single-player experience is in the works. Until then, it's still not hard to say that all fighting games, essentially, are still in the medieval ages.

Gah, Wii Games!

2010 is quite the happy year for Wii gamers, I mean, later in the year there will be quite a few goodies, but there are already a few as early as now.

Namely: Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and No More Heroes 2.

IMMA GET EM BOTH!

Then again, sweet Lord, Mass Effect 2 looks awesome.

/random

Avatar = Awesome

All those "spoiler-free" reviews are for naught since Avatar's general storyline isn't the most original nor the most captivating, so the story is actually very formulaic and predictable, and the characters are atrociously two-dimensional, but the thing is that Avatar is just too well-directed for anyone to actually care. Cameron's attention to detail in the world he created, and the Na'vi's culture is just so breathtaking that you become riveted when it really shouldn't be. Despite the 2 hour and 45 minute duration, the film zooms by, and it's both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because the feeling that comes when a movie makes you feel as if you're forced to sit through something and you just feel as if you're just tolerating it, this feeling is almost non-existent. It's a bad thing however because it leaves you with feeling shortchanged in terms of character development. The character development feels half-baked and rushed and overly cut to the point of them being disposable, and I usually don't bring this issue up, but the thing is, I want to care for the characters, but I don't really get that as much as I wanted to.

3D, awesome. Actions sequences, double awesome. Fine, there's like that usual James Cameron staple of 'big bad corporation' and 'big bad military' but in the end it's hard to care about all this because the thing that the movie does very well is make you have fun. Really, that's what the hype promises, and in that aspect, the film truly delivers.

Heck, the 3D itself is worth the price of admission, and the epic action setpiece at the end is a huge bonus. However, it just feels like James Cameron could do much more to the story. He's renowned for being a great director-screenwriter with films like The Terminator and Aliens under his belt so it's kind of disappointing to see how crappy this story is in comparison. Cameron does have plans for a trilogy, so one could say that this overhyped movie is actually more exposition than a complete movie story-wise.

Long story short, go see this piece of movie history in 3D, although you might not like the story.

A Little Big Problem

First of all, don't get misled by my title, it has absolutely nothing to do with LittleBigPlanet. I just found it good enough to describe my little computer problem.

The computer problem in its most exact form? The CTRL-Space combination not working.

So what about it? What possible use does it have? In Arkham Asylum, which I'm totally loving, there is a part after you first get into the Batcave wherein you have to climb through brittle err, "towers". You can't grapple, so Batman comments, "Looks like I have to actually climb". So where's the problem, you ask again? Well, in order for me to progress through this level, I need the Ctrl-Space function to crouch down and cling from the top of the "tower" so I can press Ctrl once more to shimmy on a ledge. Ctrl-Space is not working. At all.

Now, I have the language bar enabled since I type in Chinese from time to time, so I knew the root of the problem. I tried to fix it by realigning the keyboard command, and guess what, still not working. Sigh, it's so ironic as to how a small problem can be such a big hurdle, hence the title.

But anyway, any ideas?

Green Day... Rock Band?

Harmonix had an excuse to make a Beatles: Rock Band. It could take on any of those Guitar Hero artist games, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, Harmonix would just end the trend there. I mean, The Beatles: Rock Band is pretty much the be-all and the end-all of this type of franchise milking, but apparently, Harmonix is now succumbing to what is probably more of a command from the people high up at MTV, and it's hard not to blame them: if the Beatles: Rock Band got commercial success, why can't a Green Day: Rock Band?

Well, there's a number of reasons. But I can simply simplify it to this:

The Beatles = timeless.
Green Day = blatant promotion.

While The Beatles: Rock Band also promoted the re-released, remastered discography of the band which was released the same day as the game, Green Day doesn't have enough of that musical credibility for the promotion part to slide. 21st Century Breakdown was already promoted through Rock Band DLC, something I get, so I can't seriously understand the point behind Harmonix riding this bandwagon. I don't want Rock Band to become a Guitar Hero. I want Rock Band to stay Rock Band, and I'm just criticizing this decision to make this game because I love it too damn much.

For Chrissake, just release it as a track pack ala AC/DC. Better yet, an album on the Music Store. The Who has a whole album, Nirvana has a whole album, The Foo Fighters have a crapload of songs, so why can't Green Day just have the same treatment? Hell, The Who, I think, is more deserving of a single game than Green Day. It's not that I hate Green Day, I like some of their songs, but it just breaks my heart that something like this can pass through Harmonix's standards. AND what about RBN? Can't they release their songs through there?

But if Harmonix is just gonna push with this anyway, I want to ask one thing: if the Beatles had harmonies, what'll Green Day have?

(Bit)Trip to the Temporary

It's been, what, a year since I last changed my banner and avatar?

While I'm still thinking of what to do with my banner, I've posted up a little temporary replacement. I think you can get which Bit.Trip game this is.

I know, random title, but I'm just having a load of fun with the Bit.Trip trilogy, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which any Wii owner should definitely keep.

Windows 7: Jumping in?

The critics have been raving about it, and judging with my hands-on time with it (actually, for quite a few hours for 3 days), it's shaping up to be a great upgrade. It's still Windows because of some of the hang-ups that still occur, so I can safely say that for a lot of the time, the Mac's stability is better. But since I have a Windows PC running XP exclusively for games, I think it's fair to say that it's finally time I made the jump. I mean, who knows, the stability would probably better since it's not a netbook (the machine I tested 7 on was a netbook, and it was still astonishingly faster than I expected) but a full fledged custom made tower.

Then again, before I was introduced to Mac OS X Tiger, I was following Vista closely. I mean, it looked like the be-all and end-all of Windows versions, but when it was released and I had to go through some installation hang-ups and incompatibilities, as well as UAC that had to take 10 minutes to fade the screen alone, it was clear that Vista wasn't doing it for me. True, you can blame the Pentium 4 rig, but it was already the minimum requirement, so it should at least run Vista without Aero... which it didn't.

Now that I have a decent Core 2 Duo rig, it could be a proponent to a more pleasurable upgrade experience. It may not be OS X, but I still want to ask the question: should I upgrade and jump into the Windows 7 bandwagon?