Retro Gaming 19XX
AKIBA'S TRIP is one of the more interesting games I've tried on the PSP.
The game is made by ACQUIRE whom are probably best known for their WAY OF THE SAMURAI series.
As the title implies the game is set in Japan's #1 geek central Akihabara. You play as one of the probably many, many college rejects that lurk the streets of Akiba's electronics district. But unlike the rest of the other unlucky losers, your goalless life as a geek actually takes a turn for the interesting.
A secret goverment agency called NIRO suddenly kidnaps you, forces you into their ranks, and lets you on a big secret : The world is being threaten by... vampires.... Yes, vampires, and of the broad daylight walking type no less.
Apparently there's this vampire organization called the Kageyashi which has infiltrated Akiba in more ways than one. And since your character was doing nothing but goofing around there every day, you were the perfect los.. I mean, valuable and experienced asset to expose these evil blood suckers.
The Akiba recreation is decent, although it's a bit devoid of pedestrians.
Just like WAY OF THE SAMURAI, AKIBA'S TRIP is a free-roaming "open-world" type action adventure game. Of course the "world" in this case is relegated to Akihabara's electronics district only, so the overall map isn't very big.
Just to give you a better idea of how the game feels like, think of it as an ultra geek version of SEGA's RYU GA GOTOKU series.
And just like Kazuma Kiryu walks the streets of Kamurocho like some sort of pimp god, beating up punks stupid enough to challenge a bad-ass looking yakuza. Your charact0r (who hilariously is a closet cos-player) walks the streets of Akiba's electronic distric beating up vampires dressed up as maids and school girls.
The game is like in a "Day of the Living Geeks" mode.
The problem is that the Kageyashi don't look any different from regular people. Hell, for all you know that girl dressed in maid outfit handing out pamphlets in the corner can be a f****d up monster waiting to suck you dry at the first opportunity!
Now, crucifixes and wooden stakes are way out of fashion. Technology is the Japanese way. By using this camera app of your smart phone you can detect the Kageyashi wherever they might hide so you can give them some righteous ass-kicking, Akiba-$tyle.
The combat system in AKIBA'S TRIP should give a familar vibe to anyone who's played WAY OF THE SAMURAI 3. However there's a bigger emphasis in battling multiple enemies this time around, so the fighting can get a bit too chaotic, making it hard for you to hit the enemies.
To actually defeat a vampire you must strip them of their clothing and expose their pale skin to the sunlight. This will dissolve their unholy asses into nothingness and make Akiba a safer place.
In order to do this you must perform a "Strip Action" which flows like this :
A normal-looking school girl? Not in Akiba! Prepare yourself, fool!
Goddammit! Hand over those clothes already, sucker!
Profit ! ! ! Who's yo daddy now, b*tch !
Serves you right, monster ! You don't belong in this world !
AKIBA'S STRIP received mostly positive ratings from the Japanese media. Famitsu gave the game a 8/7/7/7 (29) rating. They praised the game's surprisingly decent story but criticized its poor graphics, uneven (at times) fighting mechanics and the often inconsistent production values.
Personally, I think that AKIBA'S TRIP is the type of game that (ironically) will be easier to appreciate by those not living in Japan (the game is far from being import friendly though, specially for novices).
I mean, for most Japanese gamers, and specially those living in Tokyo, the stuff being showcased here is probably just the same stuff they get to see and deal with most every other day, and I guess many could find it mundane even. Therefore it's easy to understand why they would choose to care more about the game's technical values than anything else.
However, for about nearly everyone else living overseas, I think the fictional recreation of Akihabara alone is worth the price of admission. The whole game is so Japanese-centric and full of geek-power that it's admittedly very easy to look past its many flaws.
Oh yeah, give me some of that baby!
On the positive side, there's 250 costumes (not including DLC) for you to dress up your closet cos-player character just like you want. There's also tons, and I mean tons of real and fake product advertisement to see and many stores (including real ones)to visit. Some amusing weapons to use (including PS3 and Xbox 360 system mock ups from what I've read), Multiple paths, endings etc.
The game's anime $tyle also reminds me of the one used in PERSONA 3, although I'm no anime expert, so maybe its actually different.
Overall, considering the type of action adventure games I've seen on the PSP, I have to say that AKIBA'S TRIP rates up rather well. I'ved tried games like MONSTER HUNTER and GODS EATER : BURST which do look and play a lot better, but honestly, for portable games I found them so incredibly slow to get going that I was already bored with them by the time I finished their tutorial levels.
Depending of your understading of the Japanese language, AKIBA'S TRIP might require you to stay glued to the Japanese Wikia or any other walkthrough while playing it, but the experience is worth it for anyone even remotely interested in otaku culture.
Defintely an import to keep in mind.
Both Filesonic and Fileserve have now completely disabled their file sharing service, rendering completely useless to probably 99.9% of their user base. I just as a matter of fact, downloaded what's probably my last file from Fileserve about 2 hours ago.
Man, isn't that just great? I mean, we all know they can't stop file sharing no matter what they do. It's like trying to slay a hydra - you take down one head and another will pop-up.
However, this will be, hell it already has become a major freaking annoyance. No matter what happens it's gonna take a while for people to upload all of their s**t again. And of course the stuff that's gonna get hurt the most and gonna take longer to re-upload is that of the lesser interest or plain obscure one. Which of course it just happens to be what I'm more than often looking for.
So now I have to take my damn netbook to work and keep downloading s**t non-stop from (for me)slow-ass Japanese servers before more servers go down the toilet.
This has to be one of the s**ttiest periods the interent has ever seen.
Thank you US Goverment, the world's police and saviors of the known universe.
I was anticipating this game and it just got released yesterday in Japan. Looks very saucy, I really hope D3 brings it overseas.
D3 seems to be a much stronger publisher in the west these days, so I think there's a good chance.
Just don't let us wait like a year before deciding!
I'm a huge fan of post-apocalyptic games, so naturally RAGE was a game I had to play.
The adventure started fantastically-enough. The game's trademark top-tier graphics made the wasteland a joy to watch, and the gameplay is mostly traditional no-nonsense and non-gimmicky shooting action, which also was a big plus for me.
So, at the start you're quickly introduced to a couple of small but interesting towns with the obligued quest giving NPCs. The characters in this game look and animate superbly, so looking and talking with them was very enjoyable.
Basically, the pace at which you're introduced to new stuff in the beginning is pretty good, and I was sort of expecting the game to keep it up throughout most of the adventure, but alas it did not.
I was done with the first two towns in just a couple of hours then arrived to the first "big town" and was pretty much stuck there for the next 10 hours or so. The game started to feel rather small-sized by then, and I couldn't wait to just move on to the next town.
Finally, I cleared the first disc and when I started the second at that time I said "wow, it was worth it". Imagine my surprise though when I found out this second big town that I just arrived in was in fact the last one in the game.
Seriously, the whole end game of RAGE was total BS, not to mention surprisingly short. The story was also awful. I mean, the game throws these cool and intense shooting sequences but all the motivation the devs could come up with to put you through all of this stuff is that you have to prove yourself to some one-dimensional mobster mayor character? That's just lame.
Then when you're finally ready to hit the enemy in their turf in this supposedly epic final mission, I was expecting to see another town or at lest new scenery. But there's only this high-tech facility, you flip some switches, fend back a small bunch of enemies and the game ends... TOTAL LET DOWN!
Bottomline, I don't see me playing RAGE again ever. It has one of the most disappointing and anti-climatic end game parts I've seen in a long time.
OTOMEDIUS : EXCELLENT
I have to be honest. When I first read the media feedback about this game I totally rolled my eyes. I mean, the media critics have always sucked big time at rating arcade games ever since the 32-bit generation.
This time however, I must admit I was wrong and they were right. This game just isn't that good.
As I've already mentioned a few times in this blog, OTOMEDIUS : GORGEOUS is one of the best shooting games of this generation.EXCELLENT unfortunately is nothing like it.
GORGEOUS had the legendary PARODIUS feel. It had more interesting and well made stages, better bosses, better music, better animation, well, better everything. EXCELLENT on the other hand feels like an unspired, low-budget sequel made out of the left overs of the previous game.
It's a real pity that western players were introduced to the series by this uninspired sequel and not the excellent arcade game.
I've never been much of a fan of portables, outside of my NOMAD which is where I do nearly all of my MD gaming. However a friend was selling his PSP to get the new Vita so I bought it off him.
So now I can play while in the bathroom what is in my opinion the best shooting game of last generation (alongside Shin Contra) the incredibly awesome EARTH DEFENSE FORCES 2. (^^;
Now I can kick some Godzilla ass on the go and on widescreen!
I was really concerned about the controls though, I mean with the PSP analog joystick sucking legendarily and all. The good news is that the game allows you to change controller options to something relatively close to how EDF3 controls on the XBOX 360.
I do have to say I'm terribly disappointed at the lack of shooting games on the PSP. I've never looked into the PSP library before, but now that I have, the system doesn't have that many.
There's DARIUS BURST, STAR SOLDIER and other few quality shooting games, but far from what I was expecting to find.
Oh well, EDF 2 is such a long-ass game and I want it to replay it again so I'm probably gonna stuck with it for a while.
So I was dusting off some of my old game magazines looking for info about some old PCgames and I came across a couple of issues of the MyCom BASIC magazine from Novemeber and December 1988. For those of you who might not know, this was the time when the Mega Drive was released.
I don't have a PC scanner unfortunately, but the good news is that I searched a bit and came across a sort of MyCom BASIC database with the front covers and at least a one page scan of each issue.
Something is better than nothing, right? (^^;
Anyway, the header of the November 1988 issue was :
(SEGA Releases Their 16-Bit TV Game Machine!)
The hottest games of the month were ORDYNE at the game centers and JACK : LAS VEGAS SERIAL KILLER - a black and white AVG (adventure game) for PC.
Stuff like POWER DRIFT, BERABOH MAN, KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD, and THUNDER FORCE II were also on the rage.
Now, the December 1988 header in turn was :
(SEGA MEGADRIVE THROUGHOUT ANALYSIS)
The hottest games were IMAGE FIGHT, THUNDER CROSS and METAL HAWK (This was the time where shooting games ruled the Middle Earth still).
CAPCOM's DAI MAKAI-MURA was also kicking arse at the game centers.
Man, I know I can't say this enough but the 80's and early 90's were the sh+t. Loads of games and systems everywhere. The arcades impressed us with their super sprite scaling and 3D games that seemed like out of this world at the time. The powehouse gaming computers with arcade perfect ports that were far out of reach for most every kid still stuck with their 8-bit systems, but they still read about them and wished of one day owning one.
If you were actually playing stuff like STAR CRUISER or AFTER BURNER at the comfort of your home back in the '80s, you were one lucky kid.
There was none of this nostalgia BS that plagues the nowadays video game userbase. No lousy standards either, game companies had to be in the game to remain alive. Competition was fierce in every aspect.
More importantly, video gaming was more self-centered. Gaming was for the gamers, basically. It was game company vs. game company fighting for supremacy. Nowadays we have games with celebrity voice-overs and movie size budgets. Gaming has become way too mainstream and Hollywood-like.
There's lots of advantages in current gaming for certain, but I think the disadvantages are just as numerous.
But I guess for the new generations the online gaming, services and community must seem like the greatest thing ever, and above anything that came before it.
A thing that I'll never be able to dig though is why people want to play *new* games that look and play as if they were made over 20 years ago. And worse even how can they possibly think they're any cool.
I sure as hell don't remember anyone making Atari 2600-caliber games well into the 16-bit generation, and certainly even less earning praise for it. If that's not standards slipping, I don't know what it is.
Two Sonics - Two Games to rule them all.
I know most people probably would say that Generations is outright the better game, but I think it's a closer call than that.
In my opinion Generations, altough it's unquestionably a top-quality game, it does rides a lot on the nostalgia factor.
Colors on the other hand, felt a lot more fresh when it came out. It delivered jaw dropping level design (some would say the best ever in a Sonic game) as well as some of the best graphics on the Wii system. The new wisp powers for the most part also were very fun to use.
But more importantly, it almost single handedly brought Sonic out of the slump of poor gameplay concepts that seemed like they could just not work right.
Generations of course has the ****c Sonic gameplay as well as THE ****c Sonic. And while Sonic is only 20 years old (the original Sonic The Hedgehog came out when I was around 11 years old), it would seem like in video game years that's like having 50, and it's just the stuff of old times.
I do have to concede that ****c Sonic is just too lovable, and it did made me remember why Sonic is the coolest game company mascot in history.
I don't feel the same way about the ****c gameplay however, which in my opinion is just not as good as the new one. But hey, we get both so it's win-win for everybody.
I think the graphics in Generations could have been better also. I mean, they're in HD and all, but in comparison the graphical quality of Generations is inferior as that of Colors considering the systems they're running on. Colors pushed the Wii's capabilities somewhat at least, whilst Generations was far away from doing that for the Xbox 360 or PS3. In fact, some parts of the game like the story sequences look pixelated.
Not that graphics are an important matter but I think it was worth mentioning it.
To tell you the truth, I'm still undecided as to which is the best game. I did received the more shockingly good impression from Colors and felt Generations only built up a little from it. Both are geninunely excellent games on their own though, so Sonic fans should be happy.
Was it like the worst ever, or is it just me? Also, what's up with the whole retro game theme? Did I miss something? What does it has to do with the awards themselves?
And about it, it's quite obvious whoever designed it only had a NES while growing up. Talk about lack of perspective about retro gaming. Like if in 25 years from now they came out with another retro theme from this time and only picked Wii games to represent it.
They should've bought a Master System or PC-Engine, or at least read about them, then the theme wouldn't had looked so one track minded.
I've finally been able to spend some quality time playing Skyrim - here's my impressions so far. Take in mind that I'm not that far into the game yet as I've spend a lot of time restarting the game with various characters.
First I have to say that while the game certainly lives to my expectations, I don't think it's a big step above its predecessor. In my opinion Skyrim is a bit like what Icewind Dale was to Baldur's Gate : Basically more of the same wonderful stuff, but in a different setting and lacking the wider, more grandiose scope of the first.
Graphics : The game is beautiful to look at times, but some ugly lower-res textures still can be seen here and there. The snow effects also look cool most of the times, but it can also look like wet white paint when it's covering the floor of some ruined buildings.
Sound : The same pros and cons. Lots of character voices get rehashed to no end.
Gameplay : Handling the equipment and spells can be very annoying at times. I can't believe you can't map weapons and spells to the d-pad. Instead you can add any item, weapon and spells to your favorites menu (accessed by pressing up ond the d-pad).
This is still a menu though, and it's also a bit cumberstone, specially when dealing with dual wielding equipment.
Dual-wielding also doesn't feel well developed. They pretty much just allow you to hold and swing another weapon on your left hand, that's all. Its drawback is that you can't block, which is sort of lame. I'd rather wished they had given you a penalty to attack or something until you improved your skills.
Overall, the game was basically what was I expecting it to be : A wonderful adventure with lots of quest to do. But it's still far from being a relevant step above Oblivion. I was hoping maybe they would implement at least another race (Dwarves would've been great), but oh well. Maybe next time.
Further edit : Horse riding is also a huge let down. With recent examples like Read Dead Revolver, Skyrim's horse mechanics feel flat out archaic. Below even that those of the Wii/GC Zelda game.
My old Xbox 360 busted a couple of months ago, and ever since then I've missed a few of the late releases.
Well, I finally went and bought a Slim model, and got Skyrim, Sonic Generations, Dead Island and Dead Rising 2 : Off The Record to get up to date. There was also the new Ace Combat, Batman Arkham City, that Warhammer game, and a few other games I'm interested, but I'll get them monday or so.
Luckly, you can use the old HDD on the slim model, so I didn't had to buy another one.
I'm very impressed with Skyrim BTW, tough it has the same black and white choice answers from Oblivion.
The game looks fantastic, the character creation is a huge step up, it has dual wielding, and the interface is the best in the series.
The only thing I don't like is that you cannot checkout your character appearance on the item or status screen.
I only hope the game isn't as buggy as Fallout and Oblivion.
I also have noticed that the character models have this light lines around them. It's not a big issue or anything, but it's odd.
Dead Island was a bit of a disappointment though. It just doesn't have the charm of games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising. Characters are far from memorable.
I still have to install Sonic Generations, so I can't comment on it right now.
Finally, my old system didn't had an HDMI port so I also was able to test that. I couldn't see any noticeably difference in image quality though. Both component and HDMI look exactly the same at 1080p on my TV.
I've noticed for a long time now that a lot of the blogs I've seen around have either twitter plug-in or a twitter link. (well at least the Japanese ones do)
I've personally never used this service, so I'm wondering if it would help me to promote my blog and/or to get in contact with other retro game enthusiasts, like in a forum.
The thing is, like I just said, I don't know how it works. Like, how exactly do people find you in there? I would hate to be talking to nobody there.
Also, if the service is actually worth it, I'd like to know how to get started, as in what should I be saying. I know there's a strict word limit to each message, but that's about all I know about it.
I'm wondering if any of you uses and can recommend me a Virtual CD drive program that works well under Windows 7.
On my old PC I used Daemon Tools Lite and it worked like a charm. However the latest version of the program, which is compatible on Windows 7 doesn't work on the programs I need (they don't detect the virtual drive).
Specially I need a program that works with emulators. I could be wrong but I think emulators require some old CD unit drivers (like ASPI) that aren't supported anymore on Windows 7.
So if any of you knows a good Virtual CD drive program that works fine, please tell me.
Things are slowly starting to roll on again on the Daisuki blog. Here's the latest post, now about a new game for a fresh change.
Well it's been a long time but I finally have put out a new retro game blog post :
To tell you the truth, after my PC busted and therefore losing the ability to use photoshop, I didn't feel like writing any more blog posts. Now however I'm sorta getting over it so I decided to start writing again.
Obviously I won't be able to make the posts as detailed as before, but I guess something is better than nothing.
Anyway, as always feel free to leave your comments.
Well, I just got the game today, along with EL SHADDAI, and I have to say that at least so far it has surpassed my expectations. I mean, as soon as I saw the dated-looking character models, I figured out the game wasn't getting its priase for its graphics.
But really, the sealth gameplay is really good, and it also has the best cover system I've seen in a FPS game. The dialog system also looks interesting - not on the level of MASS EFFECT or ALPHA PROTOCOL - but interesting enough. So I hope it's not only for show and that your choices actually carry some weight.
About the lowpoint I can comment on is the annoying hacking mini-game. Man, I wish programmers would cut-it out with these damn hacking mini-games. It was cool back in MASS EFFECT since it was quick and simplistic. But now they're coming up with these more 'clever' designs that just aren't fun.
Unfortunately this is one of those rare periods of time when I have just too much to play. I'm still trying to clear all of the special stages in CATHERINE, and I was also playing WAY OF THE SAMURAI 3 and LITTLE KING'S STORY. I also wanted to check out XENOBLADE and see if it actually lives up to all the hype it is getting.
●EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 3 [D3 PUBLISHER]
I remember that in the days of the Dreamcast a lot of great action games like ZOMBIE REVENGE and GUNSPIKE among others were getting downplayed by both the mainstream gaming media and the general gaming public. Now this had been going on since the previous generation, but it was during those days that I remember me saying that in the future people were going to miss games like these.
So we fast-forward to the current generation where EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 3, a lowest of the low budget game becomes (and rightfully so) a cult game quite simply because it delivers a gaming experience that otherwise had all but disappeared from the console gaming scene.
Really, the true merit of the game's developer SANDLOT is that they did what no other Japanese developer ever took time to do. I also believe they deserve a lot of credit for having faith in their game ideas and sticking with them in spite that they obviously lacked either the budget or programming talent for pulling them off properly.
So while EDF might deliver its next-gen shooting experience in the most bare-bones and lackluster way possible, it's still a kick-ass experience because well, there's nothing else like it. It's an insane over-the-top shooting game (straight out of a tokusatsu movie), with bland graphics, even worse physics and poor controls. But ask anyone who has played the game and they will probably tell you that EDF is a game that will leave a long-lasting impression on you.
For a console generation that doesn't have a single CONTRA game (nor any other legendary shooting game series for that matter). It's not really surprising why EDF 3 is held at such high regard by most shooting game fans. After all, you could purchase the game today and you would still get an unique game experience unlike anything that's currently out in the market.
Yesterday I finally completed CATHERINE on [HARD] difficulty, and I have to say that the game is a true masterpiece and a truly awesome experience. The game has both an amazing storyline and gameplay that manage to keep you on the edge of your suit all the way to the ending. It is also an amazingly difficult game, for not saying brutal.
It took me above 35 hours to clear the game, and I have to give credit to the programmers for always managing to find a way to make the game more difficult whenever I thought the game couldn't get any harder. Seriously, some stages took me more than 2 hours to clear them, and there was one stage near the end-game that took me almost a whole day clear it and nearly made me downgrade to normal difficulty. Still, all the effort paid off as like I already mentioned, the storyline is fantastic!
CATHERINE is a vivid example of the coolness and uniqueness of Japanese games, and why it's such a tragedy for the console gaming scene that they've been losing ground in recent years.
EDIT : Actually, it probably took me around 40-45 hrs to clear the game, since the game doesn't add the time you spent playing if you get sent back to the title scren.
Also, playing the game on hard turned out better it seems. Because it was almost impossible to clear the levels on just blind luck, I was forced to memorize most of them and so now I'm getting a surprisingly easier time ranking up gold trophies in my current playthrough.
●EYESHIELD 21 : THE FIELD GREATEST'S WARRIORS [NINTENDO]
EYESHIELD 21 is an american football game developed by 8ing and published by NINTENDO. The game is based on the manga and anime series of the same name, which being honest Ive never heard of before prior to playing this game.
Anyway, EYESHIELD 21 is about the only american football game I've ever enjoyed playing (I hate american football), and this is due to the fact that EYESHIELD 21 is in reality a motion-based action game that's only dressed as a sports game. This worked out for the best though, as the motion controls were implemented great into the gameplay, which is very simple but also very fun.
Where the game is really lacking however is on the sound department. EYESHIELD 21 certainly could've used some voice acting, as well as a whole lot more of sound effects during matches. I mean even since the 32-bit generation most sports games have had an in-game commentator. EYESHIELD 21 does have one but it's text-only - something which is very lame for console standards.
●DEADLY PREMONITION (aka RED SEEDS PROFILE) [ACCESS GAMES]
I don't know why but for the longest time I thought that DEADLY PREMONITION was a budget-priced western game. When I finally realised it was a Japanese game I thought that it could actually be interesting, and boy I couldn't have been more right!
DEADLY PREMONITION is a fantastic game, specially for those looking for an interesting and superbly-developed storyline. I really can't think of many games that mix creepiness with goofiness as masterly as DEADLY PREMONITION does. Also, the game has so many epic moments, and they're often pulled off better than in many other high-profile games out there.
Technical-wise the game is a bit behind the times, but I wouldn't say it's hard to look at neither. About my only complain in this aspect is how the light of your flashlight comes out from within your character's chest. That looks really lame, but otherwise the game looks competent enough and puts a lot of efford in the little details.
Now for those of you who have yet to play the game, here's a little word of advice : Make sure to not watch any trailers or read any previews or reviews about the game! Trust me, it'll be a lot better if you get into the game without knowing anything about it, as even the slightest spolier would be tragic.
●LOST PLANET 2 [CAPCOM]
Like I mentioned already in one of my previous posts, I think the critics were way too harsh on LOST PLANET 2. The game has fantastic graphics and it's a real blast to play. It's really beyond me how could anyone think that the game was harder and more frustrating than the original. I mean, if you die this time around, you just respawn until your battle gauge runs out. It's a very forgiving system, actuallty.
I do agree however that the storyline is pretty weak and rather inconsistent. But my main complaint is that the various playable factions just aren't that interesting, and worst of all, for all intents and purposes, they're just model swaps. It would've been nice if they actually played differently or had any unique special abilities.
●NODAME CANTABILE : DREAMS ORCHESTRA [BANDAI-NAMCO]
I don't know why but for some reason there don't seem to be many cla$$ical music rhythm games out there besides the ones based on this manga & anime series. With that said, NODAME CANTABILE is a pretty good rhythm game with incredibly responsive controls. In fact I would dare say that the game has the most responsive motion controls out of any rhythm-based game on the Wii. Some of the control schemes - like how you have to play the violin for example - are very silly, but they work surprisingly well.
Unfortunately the game's production values do not match its amazing playability, as if you take the motion controls and voice acting away, this is basically a DS game.
While I'm waiting for CATHERINE (the savior of Japanese games, or so I'm told) to come out, I feel like spending time posting some of my favourite games of this generation. This isn't really a top number game list, but more like a list of the games I've enjoyed the most this generation, so I will be updating it constantly with more short game descriptions.
Feel free to leave any comments or anything you feel like.
●LEFT 4 DEAD 2 [VALVE]
LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is by far the hardest game I have ever played in my life! And you know what? I absolutely love it!
I've beaten the game on (single player) expert, I've beaten it on realism, and I just can't get enough of it. There's something incredibly gratifying about surving those deadly zombie mobs and saving the useless A.I. bots. I mean, you know that you can only pull that off if you're an expert player, and that is one sweet feeling.
●DRAGON AGE : ORIGINS [ELECTRONIC ARTS]
For many (myself included) DRAGON AGE felt at first like a BALDUR'S GATE lite. I mean compared to BIOWARE's previous games, the game does have less depth, specially when it comes to the character cla$$es and skills. Still, DRAGON AGE has everything that in my opinion makes western role-playing games superior : heavy customization options, unforgetable characters and character development, high replay value, and of course the feeling that you're actually role-playing.
Now with the new direction that BIOWARE games have taken, it remains to be seen if DRAGON AGE : ORIGINS will be the last of its kind or not.
●OTOMEDIUS G/X [KONAMI]
OTOMEDIUS is one, if not the best arcade shooting game to have come out in the last decade (after 2001). Yet the game isn't really a substantial step forward over its predecessors (it's more like an homage really). In fact, I would say that the original PARODIUS games were a lot better for the time they were released. A time where they faced the most stiff competition the genre has ever seen, by the way.
But more importantly OTOMEDIUS has showed me two things : First that for the last 10 years the traditional arcade shooting genre has been sucked into a black hole from which I don't see a way out yet. Second that it seems they cannot longer sell an arcade shooting game without putting some annoying anime characters in them, and what better if they are of the big boobed kind.
Personally, I would've preferred the original PARODIUS cast any old day, but probably the 90% of the gaming audience nowadays is more than happy with the wide eyed anime girls with big boobs.
●THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD : OVERKILL [SEGA]
This is by a longshot the most hilarious and over-the-top lightgun game... ever! And it totally rocks!
I'm actually glad the game wasn't Japanese since I don't think they would've nailed the 'grindhouse' feel of the game. Actually, from what I can gather the Japanese version had some cencorship.
OVERKILL is also one of those odd cases where the graphics suck from a technical standpoint yet look awesome within its context. The grindhouse effect is the best I've ever seen on a videogame and overall it succeeds at making the game look good.
Oh and did I mentioned that the soundtrack is simply A-W-E-S-O-M-E ?
●ACE COMBAT 6 : FIRES OF LIBERATION [NAMCO-BANDAI]
Gorgeous visuals and the perfect mix of arcade and simulation action made ACE COMBAT 6 an instant winner for me. The storyline which is flat-out corny and takes a borderline naive and annoying take at war can get on your nerves at times, but fortunately this is relegated to the cut-scenes only. The character interaction that goes over the radio with the rest of your comrades is much, much better.
I don't quite agree with GameSpot in that the campaign takes a while to get interesting. Maybe only in the lower difficulties, but at the highest difficulty settings, the campaign gets exciting and challenging from the first stage.
My only complaint is that while your companions have a surprisingly powerful stopping power, they only ever use it when you command them, and the rest of the time they're sitting ducks waiting for you to do all the work. It certainly would've been nice to see your comrades fighting the enemy more vigorously.
●DRAGON QUEST : MONSTER BATTLE ROAD VICTORY [SQUARE-ENIX]
Based on the arcade smash-hit - ROAD VICTORY is a card-based battle game developed by 8ing. The cards themselves serve only as icons for your equipment, monsters and special attacks though, so in reality the game works and plays like a Japanese RPG.
ROAD VICTORY is a game that sucked over 70 hours of my time, and I haven't even done any of the post-game stuff! I find this very surprising considering that ROAD VICTORY is in reality a rather small-sized game. A small but beautifully detailed town serves as a hub for your activies, which for the most part will be purchasing cards at the card shop and battling your town buddies for supremacy. You can also visit the costume shop and dress your character in your favourite DQ heroes or monsters outfits.
Being originally an arcade game, the gameplay is very easy to get into and is also incredibly addictive. The cel-shaded graphics are also top-notch and really gives you the feeling that you're in the world of AKIRA TORIYAMA.
Overall, ROAD VICTORY is a must-play for any fans of DRAGON QUEST and/or TORIYAMA's drawings.
●DEAD RISING 2 [CAPCOM]
In Japan the DEAD RISING games are labeled as [Zombie Paradise] games, and I certainly don't think they could've come out with a better one.
The original DEAD RISING was in my opinion a breakthrough game on the XBOX 360. It brought killing zombies to a whole new level, putting hundreds of zombies on-screen at once and giving you lots of stuff to dispose of them in the most creative way you could think of.
The sequel fixed many of the design issues of the original game. It is also a bigger game with lots of more stuff to see and use. I do have two issues with the game though : The first is that the game suffers from a whole lot of technical issues that the original game didn't. The second is that the storyline, pretty much sucks.
For a game that at times didn't took itself seriously, the original DEAD RISING had a very well fleshed-out and solid storyline. The mission structure, though often critisized, was pretty intense. And the Overtime Mode was really cool and it added a lot to the game. The sequel however, never felt intense and its Overtime Mode was a huge disappointment. I do have to say though, that I found the new character cast more charming and likeable, even though the characters themselves are on the shallow side.
Still, when all it's said and done, it's hard to go back to the original after playing the sequel, and that's why I put it here.
●NIGHT OF THE SACRIFICE [MARVELOUS]
NIGHT OF THE SACRIFICE is an unique horror adventure game in which you play as a small group of college students who've decided to take a trip to a place called the [TSUKUYOMI RAVINE] where as legend has it, people used to sacrifice to the gods.
The game is played from a first-person perspective. You use the Wiimote as a flashlight, and optionally you can also use the Wii Balance Board to move. Now, what makes NIGHT OF THE SACRIFICE unique is that unlike in most other horror games your characters have no means to fend off against the evil spirits that roam the Tsukuyomi Ravine, so all you can do is find a way to sneak past them, and if worse comes to worst; run like hell for your life. Only one grab is enough to get a game over, so you really need to move around very careful.
The game is also scary as hell. In fact I would say it's the only genuinely scary game on the system as I didn't found ZERO, nor CALLING and the rest particularly scary. Another peculiar thing about the game is that unlike the realistic enviroments, the main characters (which all can be renamed) are portrayed in a $tyle similar to the one used previously by SONIC TEAM for their DS game [I WOULD DIE FOR YOU] or FEEL THE MAGIC/PROJECT RUB as it is know in the west.
About the only lowpoint the game has is that it was obviously a middle-range production, so a lot of enviroments and objects get re-used constantly here and there.
After playing Left 4 Dead 2 extensively, I went back to the original to beat my missing Blood Havest campaign, and boy, the game is a total cakewalk compared to the sequel. I cleared Blood Harvest in only 1:28 hrs and only re-started 7 times. I also revisited the first two other campaigns and I cruised through them relatively easily this time around.
The only thing that is harder in the original are Tanks, but otherwise, without jockeys (I hate those guys), without fatigue, without uncommon infected, and without gaunlet crescendos - the game is substantially easier.
Anyway, I've beaten both Left 4 Dead games completely now and got the respective What Are You Trying To Prove? achievements, so yes, mission complete!