NGP vs. 3DS-WHO YA GOT?!?!?!?

Sony unveiled their successor to the PSP, codenamed the "Next Generation Portable" (NGP) yesterday along with a whole mess of specs and upcoming titles. It does address some huge issues that the original had, namely the cumbersome UMD format being gone and adding a second analog stick. Sony is boasting it's nearly as powerful as the PS3, which sounds like it'll be costly. Sony also claims it'll be "affordable",  though what that actually means is anybody's guess. I think anything over $299 would be insane, and even that would probably raise more than a few eyebrows. Of course the underlying issue here is that support for the PSP was pretty goddamn anemic, with many titles cancelled and long gaps in-between solid releases. It's hard to say if anyone is going to even give a damn this round, but then again, last time everyone expected the PSP to completely dominate the DS. This time the NGP is the massive underdog, so who knows? I do know that I don't really care to play Sony's biggest console franchises on the go, they need some real original content to drive sales or this might even have a history than the go.

So I tried the Bulletstorm demo yesterday, and boy I felt like I had just played Duke Nukem Forever, or what Forever is probably supposed to be, as it was filled with gratitous violence and swearing and desperately trying to make you love every minute of despite coming out more like something that escaped from the extreme attitude of the 90s. I was mildly amused, but ultimately bored by its excess.

And finally, WATCH ARCHER SEASON 2! It premiers tonight, I'll probably watch it tomorrow online. And I should still have another post this weekend.


The 15 Best Animated Superhero Shows

Superheroes are awesome, it's just fact. And while live action seems to be the trend lately, animation is a much more natural fit to really represent them in the best way possible. So with that in mind, here are the 15 best examples of top notch shows pretty much anybody should be able to enjoy:

#15: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Far more goofy than their gritty comic book origins, the original Turtles show took a whole bunch of weird and made it work. As if the Turtles themselves weren't crazy enough in concept, adding brain-like space alien Krang and moronic minions Bebop & Rocksteady turned it up a notch. And yet for the most part it worked really well, managing to combine decent action with comedy really well. It kind of fell apart the last couple seasons, but few shows, animated or otherwise had such a strong run for such a long time, to this day they are still making TMNT, with a new show on Nickelodeon coming out this year, which speaks to the appeal and strength of this oddly fantastic foursome of ninjas.

#14. Freakazoid : Possibly the most insane superhero ever, winning most of his battles by simply irritating his enemies more often than doing anything remotely heroic. Whether he actually even qualifies as a hero is possibly in question, since he just does whatever he wants most of the time, mostly in an absolutely hilarious fashion, with completely awesome and random humor thrown in just for the hell of it.

#13. The Tick

While most of these shows do a pretty good job at poking fun at the superhero genre once and great while, The Tick managed to do it every single episode, be it the dim bulb hero or his equally ridiculous allies like Sewer Urchin and even more awesomely ridiculous enemies such as Chairface Chippendale. A still brilliant parody of the occasional stupidity of comics, this probably still reigns as the greatest superhero comedy ever.

#12. Darkwing Duck: Superheroes are supposed to be selfless, all about helping their fellow man, and don't really care for glory. That is not Darkwing at all. He's all about the glory, extremely petty, egotistical and selfish, sometimes dangerously so. And that's what makes him so awesome. But at the end of the day, he still beats the bad guy, making him one of the few heroes that usually can back up his huge boasts.

#11. X-Men Evolution: It'd be nearly impossible to try and outdo the original X-men series (more on that later), so why even bother? Granted, sending heroes back to high school is a risky proposition, but Evolution made it work incredibly well, bringing a great mix of stand-alone and arching storylines that would even stretch into the next season, which is extremely rare for an cartoon shows. It's a shame it only lasted 3 seasons, which didn't five it much of a chance at having a rich a deeply layered history like it could have.

#10.  Gargoyles: This is probably Disney's most ambitious animated series to date. It's has layers upon layers of character development and plot lines, it's dark, dealing with deep betrayal, murder, kidnapping, hate crime and other such non-kiddy fare. And being on Disney with this kind of subject matter, you knew it was only destined for a few seasons, but what a fantastic few seasons they were.

#9. Batman: The Brave & the Bold : It's an incredible accomplishment to do Batman as light and campy and still make it work exceptionally well, but that's exactly what the most recent Dark Knight series has done, being extremely funny and loaded with cameos from DC's vast B & C-list such as Blue Beetle & Plastic Man. It's also the only show to portray Batman as having an actual sense of humor, which while out of character for his more serious portrayals, works very well within the show.

#8. Batman Beyond : There can't really be another Batman other than Bruce Wayne, right? Nobody could possibly fill that role. Except what the hell do you do when Batman actually does get too old? In comes Terry McGinnis, who isn't Bruce Wayne, not by a longshot. But he's a new kind of Batman, for a new age, and it works, even beating the likes of Freeze and the Joker in his own way. Gotham doesn't always need Bruce Wayne, but it does always need a Batman, and Terry fills in the role very nicely.

#7. X-Men : Premiering the same year as Batman: the Animated series, this was one of the first attempts to do a real, serious cartoon show, and boy did it work. Arcs that ran over the whole show, a real continuity to the universe and the episodes, and the bonus of bringing some classic X-Men storylines to life. This was one of the first examples that animation and cartoons specifically did not have to be candy coated crap meant to sell toys and could be as good as anything on prime time TV. If it has any failings, it was that unlike the best shows, it was completely serious, instead of having a good mix of humor and drama.

#6. Spectacular Spider-Man : There have been a fair amount of Marvel cartoons over the years, several starring Spider-Man, this is far and away the best, managing to perfectly capture the personality of the wall-crawler while successfully taking a new spin on most of his villains and friends. Sadly this fantastic show lasted only 2 seasons, a fatality of the rights going back to Sony, which choose to go with a new show rather than keep the great original. Boo Sony.

#5. Teen Titans : This might actually be the funniest superhero series that isn't a spoof, giving the show an exaggerated anime style and most of the characters extremely goofy yet enjoyable and endearing personalities. Yet it manages to mix in some seriousness, most of it dealing with Robin's arch nemesis Slade but also dealing with things like Raven's repressed darker nature from time to time.  For pure entertainment and hilarity, it's hard to top this awesome 5-season run.

#4. Superman : The Animated Series: Arguably DC's most famous hero (at least until Batman's recent leap in popularity), a huge problem with Superman was that he was practically invincible, how do you keep that interesting? Bruce Timm managed to do it, making nearly every episode entertaining and the best representation of the Man of Steel to date.

#3. Avatar: The Last Airbender : Like many of the shows on this list, Avatar manages to blend drama and humor extremely well. What makes it stand out is that it's an original property that manages to create a rich universe and it manages to tell its story in three short but amazing seasons. It could've gone on longer (and sort of will thanks to an upcoming spin-off) but in the end it didn't really need to, it accomplished what few shows, especially cartoons manage to do in wrapping up all its key plots to come to a stellar and satisfying conclusion, making it easily one of the best series ever, animated or otherwise.

#2:  Justice League/Justice League Unlimited :  The original Justice League show was a great feat, managing 8 superheroes in compelling ways with great intertwining storylines for 3 seasons. When it changed to Unlimited, potentially incorporating the entire DC universe, it got even better, taking time to make us care about nobodies like Hawk & Dove, Vigilante, or the hilarious Booster Gold while still giving plenty of screen time to the big name heroes. Probably the most amazing aspect was continuity, even mining episodes of Batman, Superman & Batman Beyond for episode material.

#1. Batman: The Animated series: Arguably responsible for cartoons finally being taken as something more than kid's stuff. It was true to the source material, and actually made the comic it was based on better. Harley Quinn was an original creation of the show, Mr. Freeze was made a better villain, and so on. It managed to have great adventures, seriously dark moments, and even completely hilarious episodes. It is the standard-bearer, and probably always will be.

Ok that's the list. Don't really have anything else, but I'll probably be back Friday with another post. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Zombie Homerun


The need for Achievements?

Achievements. Everybody has them these days. Microsoft, Sony, World of Warccraft, Credit Cards. They are goddamn everywhere. And why not? It's obviously great to get some form of recognition for your work, they add extra value to games. But Nintendo doesn't use them and while its not opposed to it, seems to have no real plans to implement them anytime soon. Now granted, achievements should never be the reason you buy a game, that throws you into achievement whore territory. And while I rarely go out of my way to get some of the more challenging and ridiculous achievements, knowing that I get some sort of reward for doing something extra will usually get at least a few extra hours out of me, especially if it manages to be fun. Nintendo's philosophy seems to pretty much be that playing the game and exploring for extra content should be its own reward, i.e. if you get all the stars in Super Mario Galaxy, that's reward enough, you don't need a special reward saying so. And there's really nothing wrong with this philosophy, after all some sort of uniform reward system didn't really exist until the Xbox came along in the first place.

So then is there a right answer to this question? Well, why there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with Nintendo's philosophy the bottom line it is a feature that both Microsoft and Sony offer that Nintendo doesn't, so it may be a difference maker in what platform cross console games are bought on not too mention what console you may buy. Nintendo's not opposed to it, so even if it is too late for the Wii (and really, it probably is), they could implement it into the 3DS without much issue and whatever the eventual successor to the Wii will be. This is a company that claims it listens to its audience, and this is something all gamers, casual or hardcore, do want.

That's really all I got for today, so until next time here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Skateland


And your Batman 3 Villains are...

With Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway filling the respective roles. Anne Hathaway is a great actress, though whether or not she can do Catwoman justice is anybody's guess, as with most female superheroes, it's an incredibly hard role to get the right fit for. That being said, Nolan we shouldn't second guess any choices Nolan makes at this point. You could probably give him the Care Bears and he'd come back with the most awesome film ever. Tom Hardy as Bane is absolutely goddamn brilliant, because behind all those Venom-induced muscles is a brilliant criminal mastermind and Hardy is probably one of the few people who can bring both proper physicality and terrifying intelligence to the role. It's heavily rumored that regardless how successful it is, this will be Nolan's last Batman. I can see why, nobody wants to get tied to a franchise when they've got other things they want to do, but that leaves little possibility for his take on other great Batman villains like Mr. Freeze or Croc, so hopefully they'll be able to wrangle him into just one more film (hell after that Bale will probably be too old anyways and they'll have to get someone new or just start over).

The 3DS is coming out on March 27th for $250.  Granted that seems a little on the high side, but I bet that won't really slow sales down. It's not too high for my blood, but as with about 99% of other system launches, the initial line-up looks like complete garbage, so I won't be getting one launch day, but admittedly I'll probably pick one up after Kid Icarus and the Ocarina of Time remake hit, which is supposed to be later this year.

And yes I did pick up DC Universe Online for the PS3 this week. I had debated waiting til a few reviews hit, but I had a lot of fun in the beta and the first month is free, so what they hey. And even though I thought it would feel repetitive going through some of the same missions, I made a completely new character, which helped quite a bit. Now this is a game that's actually mostly built around end game content, so we'll have to see if it holds up on that end, but as of right now, it's a very fun title.

Finally, a direct sequel arguably the most polarizing Final Fantasy game ever, Final Fantasy XIII, has been announced. And that's all we really know at this point. No idea if it'll completely overhaul the battle system, feature new characters or what. While I enjoyed the original, it was not really have many of the qualities that traditionally define what Final Fantasy is. Here's hoping that's what they are attempting to do with the sequel.

Ok, that's really all I have for today, so I'll end it here with your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Tesla Death Ray


It's a Little Big Planet after all

It is indeed a completely awesome week to be a PS3 owner, with arguably the biggest reason being the giant timesink that is Little Big Planet 2. Because as if making your own levels wasn't time-consuming enough, now you can pretty much make any game you can imagine. Which actually raises the question is LBP 2 even really a game? I mean sure there's a single-player, but I'd suggest it's more of a tool-set (especially based on the rather poor demo that was released) simple enough for anyone to use regardless of their level of programming skill, which with everyone being able to put their vision out for someone to download, could make it the best bang for your buck in all of gaming. I don't know if I'll pick it up right away, I really don't have the free time to play around with the tool set, and it'll be a little while before people really get a hang of using it and start churning out some amazing stuff, so I'll probably give it a look if there's a good sale or when the inevitable Game of the year edition hits.

Also hitting shelves this week for the PS3 is the best game of last year, Mass Effect 2. It is awesome that PS3 owners get to experience this awesome franchise, but I'm really surprised that Bioware isn't also releasing the original. Sure there's a comic book so people can catch up, but honestly one of the coolest things about 2 is seeing stuff that you did in the original make differences in the sequel, even if it didn't affect the overall game all that much, little touches here and there help seal the deal, and PS3 owners miss out on that. Also, it's like starting a series in the middle. Yes, you don't absolutely have to play the original to enjoy the sequel, but like any good trilogy there's a whole important layer missing.

After the excellence that was Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, one could only hope  Sega would release more awesomeness from years past. Well, they are releasing something from years past at any rate with the Dreamcast Collection. Now the sadly doomed Dreamcast had many great titles, none of which are on this collection. Sonic Adventure was terrible when it was released and hasn't aged well, Crazy Taxi is fun for about 10 minutes, and do I really even have to explain why Bass Fishing is a poor choice? That pretty much just leaves Space Channel 5: Part 2, which I'd rank a solid but not really a classic. Hope if there's a volume 2, it's got a much meatier offering (hint, Jet Grind Radio, Skies of Arcadia & Grandia II would make any collection a must-buy).

ok that's really it for today but I should be back with another post in the next couple of days, in the meantime here is your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Moby Dick: The Videogame


The most important game EVER.

I've mentioned this before, but it's sort of mind-boggling that this is the first real mmorpg taking a serious shot at the console audience. I mean yeah, there's FFXI, but that was pretty much a half-assed attempt at best. This is the first one really designed to fit a console, with a serious license and budget behind it, and it may set the trend for the future of online console gaming as we know it. Console gamers are sort of lost on the idea of paying for anything beyond the initial purchase, as you can tell if you read virtually any PS3 thread on any forum about the game, they think paying a monthly fee is stupid. But this isn't Call of Duty or MAG or Borderlands or whatever. It's a persistent changing universe with constant updates, and clearly none of these people have played a game like it or they would know that. And frankly that does not bode entirely well for the game.

Now granted, this may just be the usual vocal minority, as we've seen the vast majority don't even bother doing things like going on forums and bitching about stuff like this. We won't really know until sales figures come in. But the reason this game obviously has a huge responsibility on its shoulders is pretty obvious-if it does well, we may see a long overdue flood of other MMOs. If it fails, well odds are it won't completely kill off other attempts, but it may remain the mostly barren wasteland we've been used to all these years. I'm really hoping for the former, although admittedly with nearly every MMO going free-to-play these except WOW(and most of them actually making a lot more money that way), a monthly subscription may not be the best overall idea to welcome console gamers into the MMO waters. I guess we'll see how everything plays out over the next few months.

That's really all I got for today, but there should be another post sometime this weekend (most likely Friday). Until then,here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK:  Battle LA



Seriously, Kingdom Hearts II came out ALMOST 5 YEARS AGO. But yet a myriad of mostly underwhelming re-mixes & spin-offs have not stopped coming out the gate rather than a proper sequel. Where we re-visit worlds yet again with characters we don't really care about. And they are digging into this shallow well once again with the DS port of a damn cell phone game in Kingdom Hearts: Coded. Where you play a digital version of Sora and re-visit the worlds that we've visited many, many times before. Yes, it can be fun to go back to familiar places, but it would be to see how they have changed since the previous adventures not to see them as they were all over again.

Now granted, Disney has used a large majority of their biggest classic tales already, but that still leaves a wealth of good properties to mine (as many including myself have mentioned) as well as Square and now even Marvel properties to use. What we really need from the powers that be is a full-fledged sequel. I don't even care what console it's on, pretty much anything from the PS3 to the DS have all proven capable of handling such an epic. Just put it out with some new worlds and maybe a couple old ones for nostalgia's sake. I wouldn't really say I was disappointed by Birth By Sleep, but it wasn't Kingdom Hearts 3, it was a prequel. I and pretty much all KH fans want a proper sequel and we wanted it no later than 2 or 3 years ago. Now Square has said to expect a Kingdom Hearts title at least once a year, but frankly unless that title has a "3" attached to it, I'm not going to be horribly interested in what they are churning out.

Ok, that's really all I have for today, but I will probably be back Monday with something else (probably on DC Universe). In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Bat Country


Time to get excited about Xbox Live arcade again. For at least a month anyways...

Being a xbox arcade fan is mostly a series of short highs and extremely long lows. You usually get periods for about a month (or if you are really lucky 2) where there is a ton of quality content eager to fill up your hard drive and empty your wallet. But for months at a time it is a virtual wasteland of overpriced garbage or disappointing rehashes of classics that were better left in yesteryear. But hey, Microsoft has decided that for at least several weeks starting in February, we should actually get real excited with it's Xbox Live Arcade House Party.

Admittedly a Bejeweled game and another card title hold absolutely no interest to me but everybody should be extremely excited about Beyond Good & Evil HD & Torchlight. BG&E was one of the best titles of the last generation no one played and word is this is sort of a litmus test to see if Ubisoft should make a proper sequel. If you haven't played BG&E before now (and odds are you haven't) it's arguably the best Zelda-esque title you will ever see on a non-Nintendo console, so do yourself a huge favor and download it so Ubisoft can see that there is in fact a great reason to make a sequel.

Torchlight is kind of a question mark. Yes its a fantastic game, especially if you love Diablo-style dungeon crawls, but it's been on the PC a long time already, often available for a mere $5 (at least through services such as Steam anyways). This sort of brings into question how much is it worth? Granted, if you never have played the game before the expected high price tag might be worth it, but if anyone has an even semi-decent computer available to them, there's little reason to buy it. Though $10 sounds like a sweet spot price point to me, if it comes out at that I might justify having it on my hard drive.

Of course this still doesn't solve the real issue-that ever since it's launch the Xbox Live Arcade service is pretty much the poster boy of inconsistency. We get a few noteworthy titles months apart, and for the most the release list is utter garbage no one in their right minds would pay for. Microsoft really needs to get a handle on this, if they really treated it as a serious channel for delivering content on par with brick & mortar retail (like the pc already has for years with digitial distribution), it could make real quality titles delivered on a consistent basis, and with hard drives getting bigger and bigger, a large project is getting a lot more feasible these days. Unlike previous hardware cycles (especially with Kinect selling so ridiculously well) the 360 still probably has quite a few years left so there's still time to correct before the next generation and have a system in place for when that does happen.

That's really all I got today, but I should be back Saturday with another post. Until then, here is your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Paul