Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Games - Punch Out!

Again at the forefront of the latest and hottest games, I played the Wii version of Punch Out!. I was hunting for videos about game design again and I found one that talked about that Wii Punch Out game and touted its virtues, and it got me interested enough to go and find it. I had a $25 giftcard to Gamestop, and thankfully they had a copy which was only about $27. I was able to play it last night and the wife was playing Dragon Age: Origins on the TV, so I played it on the WiiU Gamepad. Since its a Wii game I had to use a Wiimote to actually play it. I thought I would be fine because the game uses the wiimote like a NES controller, but it needed you to point for the menus. Thankfully I discovered that if you point it at the Gamepad, it registers, which is super nifty, I can't believe Nintendo thought of that. So the game is actually really sharp, animation looks fantastic, gameplay is tight and quick and totally the same as original NES Punch Out. In this case that is a good thing, since there hasn't been a game like that in a while. All the characters are so expressive, and other than the characters all being a bit *racially insensitive" which I can look past. Its a simple game, that looks super sharp, that to be honest it feels like a really great downloadable game. I just don't feel a Punch Out style game has enough content to warrant a full price tag in this day and age. Obviously its not that day and age anymore, I didn't pay full price and was happy to get it. I mean if you are really good at Punch Out from the get go you could probably finish the while game in maybe 2 hours. For better or for worse, I am not good at Punch Out NES or Wii so this game will last me a while. Despite my reservations about this having been a full price game when it came out, I think this game is really cool it captures the NES gameplay and characters perfectly, and soo much character in each of the fighters. Once my new years project is done I may come back to it.

Comics - Axis!(Spoilers?)

So Axis finished up right before Christmas, so it is now all in the books. I praise them for keeping the bi-weekly schedule and having no late issues. The Art for 6 of the 9 issues was great Dodson's 2 issues in particular were great, but I was not a fan of Adam Kubert's art, maybe its just me. I will say with the last 2 issues I finally saw the promise of Axis, they were actually quite good. We got to see the Good Guys being super bad, and we finally got to see more of the Bad Guys being super Good. The last issue particularly was excellent, seeing Sabertooth and Mystique having a really heartfelt conversation, and the realization and sacrifice of the Bad Guys not wanting to be terrible people again, but knowing its the only way, its all or nothing. I wish these 8 issues were way more about the villains being good, than the good guys being bad, I feel that direction is great for shock value but gets old because they are acting soo irrationally. Whereas the focus on the Bad Guys being good had a lot of rich pathos that could have been explored deeper. I mean seeing Steve Rogers and Red Skull helping each other was fascinating, the silly heroic Carnage was great as well. I thought the idea of the Hulk's Hulk Kluh was dumb and makes no sense. That last issue was very very good, also helped immensely by Jim Cheung's art, that guy can draw, and like with Terry Dodson, I feel like I don't see him often enough. Would love to see another Mini-Series entirely drawn by Jim Cheung, he just needs so much lead time for his work, so Marvel saves him for first or last issues of events or for Free Comic Book Day stuff.

Now we are left with some results, some expected, one that is not. The 2 expected results are the fact that Tony Stark is staying a total jerk because Superior Iron Man is still going forward, also that Sabertooth has also stayed good and seems to be taking up the Wolverine mantle. If Saber-rine(Wolver-tooth)? is written like he was in Axis I think he's gonna be a super interesting character. The surprise was that Havok has stayed evil, and seems to have sided with his brother now, so I imagine he'll be showing up in Uncanny X-Men. But just the idea that Havok is kind of evil, and he's with Cyclops who while a little extreme or misguided is not actually evil, also the fact that Havok is disfigured now and of course is evil. Wondering if one of the new X-Men in Cyclops's crew Triage will be able to fix Havok's face, or maybe it will be like Xavier's legs and despite all these healers and technology in the Marvel U his legs can only get fixed by cloning and magic(look it up people).

Thursday, December 25, 2014


So other than feeling horribly sick for much of 6th Day of Yule(Christmas), my wife, parents, in-laws, and I all exchanged gifts. Surprise surprise, I got some games/toku/and comics out of it. It seems everyone scoured the depths of my amazon wishlist, to get some stuff I forgot about.

My parents got me Sunset Overdrive for the XBOne, and I can't wait to get a chance to play that this weekend. The day was so busy and had family to visit so I didn't get a chance to open it yet. Also indirectly games my wife gave me $25 to Gamestop, so that may turn into part of Captain Toad, the more I hear about that game, the more I can't wait to play it, may add that to my level a day regime once the new year hits. Other game related thing I got this year was a book called Console Wars which is about the battle in the late-80s/early-90s between Nintendo and SEGA, the book is HUGE I had no idea it was so big, it seems like its going to be really in depth and that sounds awesome.

My wife surprised me, I had a good feeling she got me some Toku toys, but it seemed like she was looking outside of my wishlist. I thought for sure it would be something from Tokkyuger, but I was really surprised when it was the latest Kamen Rider Henshin Belt, the Drive Driver. Sadly all the loose batteries in the house were dead, so I wasn't able to mess with it yet. Also indirectly I recieved $50 to Amazon, which I may turn into getting Deisel-Oh from Tokkyuger. The next thing wasn't something I got for Yule, but something I did this morning that I wanted to wait till after Christmas to pre-order and just kept hoping it wouldn't run out. I'm speaking if the Complete Selection Modification Kamen Rider Decade DecaDriver. While I do have the original DecaDriver, this one is prop level quality, adult sized belt, and all the cards the character used in the show, all having appropriate sounds, which they didn't before. I have been very excited since they announced it, and have pre-ordered it through It Came From Japan! They are my prefered distributor, they are from Canada, They have decent prices for most stuff. Prices aren't as jacked up as they are from some retailers you may find.

Hoo boy, lots of stuff to read. -Jim Henson's Tale of Sand by Ramon Perez -X-Men: No More Humans by Mike Carey & Salvador Larrocca -Scott Pilgrim Color Edition Vol 5 by Bryan Lee O'Malley -Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Thats all for now, standard posts to resume as I have time to start reading and playing all this stuff.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Games - CastleVania / Steam Sale a Go Go

Goddamn I love Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, that is a pretty great game as I said in my last post. I am mostly on the other side of it now, I finished it mostly having done the standard ending, but then we have the "true" ending. I am working on that, and for some reason still farming for enemy souls, even in the final moments of that game you see a few more new enemies and I MUST HAVE THEIR SOULS!!! It actually doesn't seem fruitful and will take too long, so I will wrap up this addendum to that game. Needless to say I played a LOT of it this week, I should have moved the WiiU upstairs so I could play in bed, cause when my wife went to bed, I planned to play for a few minutes and that became an hour...2 times this week. I really like that game. If you like Castlevania, and have not yet played this 11 year old game, run don't walk, and play it on any platform you can, WiiU being the cheapest "legal" way to play it I imagine. That having been said I have been talking a lot about Castlevania, and I will stop that. I don't know what else I can say about those games. Steam Sale has started and so far so good. I picked up Hack & Slash, a game I've been super interested in and been meaning to buy, and with the sale having it for $, it was a done deal. I almost purchased Metal Gear Rising: Revengence on steam, but before that I ended up finding that I bought it for PS3 during a black friday sale at walmart, and totally forgot about it. So I dodged that bullet, thank goodness. Lastly this morning I bought Mount Your Friends for $3, its a game I've seen played a lot on Giant Bomb, and looked hella fun and silly, so I'm hoping to enjoy some sillyness during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Games - Castlevanias / God of War: Ascension

So I completed Circle of the Moon, and I decided to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as that was another game I played long ago so I don't remember any of the specifics. But it became a delema as to what system to play it on, use my PS1 disk and play it in my PS2 or PS3, play the version I have on XBox360, or download the PS Classics version on PS3. Just for kicks I booted up the version on my Xbox, played that for 30mins or so. It just felt so different than Circle of the Moon, character seemed to move a lot slower, it almost kind of looked only a little better than a GBA game blown up for TV. Its a game sorely in need of a little remastering, uprezzing or redrawing those sprites. Also just a lot of random visual effects.

Then the other night I purchased Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. I played a few hours of that game, and MAN does that game want to be Symphony of the Night. I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't just played it the day before. The look of the main character, the save rooms, and it has that slower character speed, and the effects they do for character movement are all VERY similar to Symphony. But in the end I gave it a chance, and I just wasn't feeling it. So I bit the bullet and just moved onto Aria of Sorrow, and man that is a good game. After getting through the dialogue heavy start, I've really enjoyed it and spent about 5 hours with it over the weekend. It has the slower move speed that i'm not a huge fan of, but the magic system is great, as opposed to getting cards from certain unspecified enemies in Circle of the Moon, this game all enemies have the potential to drop a "soul" which is this games collectable. Each soul can give you a subweapon, a stat boost, or a special modifier, and you can have one of each type equiped at a time, to make for a bunch of ability combinations. They use a lot of the same enemies as before but they are different, and they add some cool new ones as well. I like the Skeleton Butler and they have an enemy who attacks you from mirrors, just some cool new ideas from a game that usually doesn't have new enemy types, and some fun ones at that. I actually found myself uncertain where to go at one point, and found a boss fight that I was grossly underpowered for. Found out where I was supposed to go, and from there I am leveled so high that I have had little trouble since. Plus I'm actually using a lot of my items in this game. I had to actually stock up on potions for a boss battle when I normally only ever just use Antidotes when poisoned. Also started playing more Symphony of the Night, slowly leveling through that game. Found myself abusing the Stop Time subweapon to farm experience for a bit. Enjoying these games quite a bit, but will probably take a break after these 2. Also finally started God of War: Ascension for PS3, first impression was good, standard GOW action, crazy scale to the bosses and levels you don't see anywhere else. My only problem was it took 1 HOUR to download all the updates needed to run. It had 9 updates, most over 600MB. Used much of my time to play waiting for download, so I only got about 30mins into the game. Will play more of that depending where I am in the house and what the wife is doing.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Toku - Super Mega Force / Gokaiger?

Not a lot of Toku stuff happening lately, shows are plugging along. Still having fun watching Tokkyuger, which is getting closer and closer to the end and I'm slightly bummed. My wife does not *watch* Sentai with me but she glances and tolerates Tokkyuger end enjoys the silliness of it somehow, I don't know if she'll deal with the transition to a new show. I still haven't fallen in love with Kamen Rider Drive. In other news, Super MegaForce came to its conclusion, and it was alright. They combined the footage form the end of Gokaiger and the 199 Great Hero Battle Movie, into something just over 30mins with lots of original american actor footage, which seems nuts. They did bring back a bunch of Legendary Rangers, like Tommy, a couple chars from Turbo/In Space, and a couple from Lightspeed Rescue, and some others. Most didn't get speaking lines, which was a bummer. But it was cool to see them all, there's actually a whole part of the episode where previous rangers in human form are going around saving people during the invasion. Basically it really made me want to go back and watch Gokaiger again....that show is so fun. But in HOT toy getting news, I came into a few dollars, decided to bite the bullet on the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger - Gokai Cellular. This is the Henshin Device/Changer/Morpher for the Gokaiger's 6th Ranger Gokai Silver/Gai Ikari. It is going to come with the device itself, as well as the Gokai Silver Ranger Key. Which when I run the numbers, brings me to 106 Rangers Keys, 53% of total Keys and 43.75% of 6th Ranger Keys. I've been wanting to get back to a point where I can focus on Ranger Keys again, after I was focusing on Fourze Switches, and other Kamen Rider stuff for a while. I also found that I waited too long on some stuff. I had been looking at It Came From Japan who had a bunch of loose keys I had planned to buy a bunch of, they had a bunch of keys I could use to make full team sets to add, but I went to their site today, and so many of them sold out. I missed my chance at getting a full set of Bioman, Carranger, and some others....I feel a fool. Now I will probably have to pay....a LOT more than I am comfortable with to get those. I don't necessarilly want to get ALL the keys, but I did want to try and get all the primary ranger keys, and then maybe all the 6th Ranger Keys, the Extra Hero Keys I don't have as much interest in. I also purchased the Power Rangers: Dino Charge Morpher. The american version of the Gabu Revolver, its both a step foreward and step back in terms of things that annoy me. A Step forward in that it doesn't have a mode that doesn't actually look like anything, but its a gun so that would be much harder to screw up. Like the Super Mega Blaster they put out last year it has some shooting sound effects that are just too long. Step Forward in that the voice of the gun is MUCH better than the voice in last years, Gosei's voice is long gone now. Step Backward in that they use a ton of Character VO in the morpher/weapon, so it has some annoying person yelling catch phrases during different activations like "Unleash the Power", "Energize", or when you morph "Tyrannosaurus Rex, Power Ranger Red", I find it excruciating. Also you only have one battery slot in this toy, unlike the Gabu Revolver which has 2, I try not to hold that against it though. Just in general it feels like they are taking the soul out of Kyouryuger, getting rid of its latin flavor. Ok well I'm starting to ramble and run into more tangets, so I'm calling this post done!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Game - Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, my beefs with it

Circle of the Moon is still a cool ass game. I've been playing it on the WiiU gamepad over the last week or so while I'm *watching* TV with my wife. She got to watch Housewives, Biggest Loser, and Forever, while I was grinding levels in Castlevania to beat the latest boss. So I've been going through the game, and one thing I have to say is that it is fairly obtuse about some of its deeper mechanics. So we have the DSS(Dual Set-Up) system, certain enemies have a chance of dropping specific "cards". We have 2 kinds of cards, Action Cards and Attribute Card, you need at least one of each in order to activate the system, each 2 card combo has its own effect from having a fire whip, to getting a defense bonus based off the % of the map you've uncovered. There are 10 of each card soo....(math happening)...there are 100 different DSS effects you can use if you have all the cards. The small thing that I like about it, as you get new cards and are able to do more combinations, it doesn't tell you upfront what each combination does till you do it. You get a good feeling of discovery, the game is kind of telling you, "even we don't know what this does", then you activate it and try it out, from then on in the menu it lists the effect.

The thing I've found I don't like is that it in no way lets you know what enemies can drop cards, I've gone through 75-80% of the game and I had 7 out of the 20. and could make 12 combos. I feel I'm leveled pretty well for that game, but it scales crazy hard, and I've heard some of the magic effects you can get are devastating, equivalent to summons that obliterate the map...at best I got an electric whip. So I'm at a boss character that is supposed to be kind of like an evil version of me, and he starts out pretty simple, jumping, attacking, using the usual Castlevania weapons (axes, crosses etc) then eventually he starts using these big magic attacks. Even though I could get away from him and heal myself, which I did 2 times, once he started using the high level attacks I had no chance. It just left me feeling like I wasn't playing the game correctly. So I used a wiki on the cards and started going card by card, finding exactly what enemies drop them, and killing them over and over till I got it. I was also using all my equipment that increased my Luck Stat so I had a better chance at getting the drop, but that makes not nearly as powerful as you need to be just to kill enemies as fast as is necessary. So if you didn't know what enemies dropped cards, you wouldn't know to increase your luck stat in order to get the card. And its not like there are 40 enemies and 20 of them drop cards. There are 121 different enemies, each of them only appear in certain places, some that drop cards are common enemies but most are not. Now previously I mentioned how I liked that it didn't tell you upfront what each combo did, and for 90% of them that works great. But had one Action Card, and could use the combo to figure out what it did, I found that you have to use a special button combination to use the ability after you turn the DSS system On, but unless you know the combination you might never see it or use it, its a combo you would never normally use in the game! This kind of drove me insane.

I still like the game a lot and its very deep and very rewarding when you make progress, just a couple issues I found that annoyed me a bit. I'm interested in Game Design and playing this game I can kind of see small ways that those issues could be addressed. There is a button on the controller that is only used once you get a specific item, and only works in when your character is jumping or in the air. They could have that button combination removed and use the extra button on the controller when you are on the ground. As far as indicating what enemies have the chance of dropping a card. Maybe make all the ones that can drop look like they have a status effect or slight shimmer to them, and once you get the card from that enemy type, they just look normal. Just some thoughts on how to make a good 13yo game, better. Like I said I still really like the game, and I'm gonna finish it out, but those things bothered me. Actually while writing about them it made me slightly angrier about them the more I thought about it.