You can't say Nintendo isn't going after the core anymore...

Not after today's extremely awesome Nintendo Direct presentation. I mean sure, you had The Wii U follow-up to Wii party, and the official announcement of the ridiculously obviously in development new Zelda, Mario Kart & 3D Mario titles. But Then there's a highly touted HD remake of Wind Waker, which I'm extremely excited for.

Not only that, but something from the team that made the best Japanese RPG of this past generation, Xenoblade Chronicles, that sure as hell looks like a follow up to Xenoblade Chronicles:

But really, you can't go more hardcore than this: Bringing together 2 franchises that have a very hardcore following: The Fire Emblem series & The Shin-Megami series:

Granted, it's little more than a teaser but you take the hardcore strategy of Fire Emblem with the quirky coolness of Shin Megami and the possibilities are damn near endless. This is core gaming at it's finest. I've always been of  the opinion that while Nintendo certainly focused on casual with the Wii, they hardly abandoned the core gamer, which is something they've constantly been accused of. But the core never showed up for Zak & Wiki  or Madworld or No More Heroes or Dead Space Extraction or other numerous titles that the core should've shown up for and didn't. Hopefully with titles such as this they will. And if they don't it'll be no one's fault but their own.

That's all for today. I should have another post up tomorrow or Friday. In the meantime, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: RED 2


My Top Ten Jrpgs of this generation...

With the end of this generation nearly at a close, one thing that has been made a big deal out of is the supposed "death" of Japanese-flavor rpgs. While it's fairly clear that they've lost some prominence with flagship titles like Final Fantasy floundering, frankly there were plenty of good ones to be found, to the point I still haven't experienced some of the more critically acclaimed ones ones (I'll get to you someday, Persona 4!). With Ni No Kuni and probably Tales of Xillia being the last Jrpgs we will see on this generation of consoles, it's a good time to reminisce about the best ones I've played these last 8 or so years:

10: Eternal Sonata: One of the earliest rpgs of this generation didn't quite strike everyone's fancy, with the characters being a tad annoying and the storyline downright depressing, but it had an incredibly solid battle system bolstered by fantastic music and top notch graphics that still hold up to today's best. Plus I liked the very different take on your usual rpg storyline.

9. Blue Dragon: This got a lot of flack for being too old school, which admittedly it was very old school with little to distinguish itself.  But given that much like Eternal Sonata it was one of the first rpgs of the new generation, what's wrong with enjoying something with an old school flavor yet new dressings? It's like video game comfort food, which there certainly wasn't a lot of at the time.

8. Tales of Graces F: Speaking of comfort food, last year's Tales game was another great helping of that. We had a great glut of modern rpgs like Mass Effect 3, Skyrim & Kingdoms of Amalur. But anyone just looking for something recent with a clasic Jrpg feel to it didn't have a whole lot to choose from. Graces filled that void nicely with it's excellent active battle system and entertaining skits with traditional but fun characters.

7. Star Ocean: The Last Hope: Similar in style to the Tales titles, but having a distinct flavor all of its own, with a much broader and epic scope along with arguably stronger characters. The battle system, while looking nearly the same on the surface, has its own little nice touches, giving it more complexity. Admittedly most Tales titles you can get through just mashing buttons. Last Hope punishes you badly if you don't learn the nuances, which really helps it establish its own great identity.

6. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: There were a lot of really good portable rpgs this generation, but none got their claws in me like the incredibly inventive latest entry from the Mario & Luigi series. Whether it was the incredibly clever level design, the fantastic battle system, the giant tank fights or the ridiculous humor, this little rpg that could stands tall with anything on the big home consoles, and I hope it's not too long before we see a new entry, be it on the 3DS or the Wii U.

5. Valkyria Chronicles:Hopefully the recent success of Xcom means will see more of the exceedingly rare but usually excellent turn-based strategy genre in the future, and excellent titles like Valkyria Chronicles won't die a quick death despite being completely awesome. An intricate and entertaining system with incredibly challenging battles and a surprisingly deep story. It's a tad hard to find these
days but well worth your time and money.

4. Tales of Vesperia: Arguably the best representation of classic Jrpgs this generation, The characters are fantastic, the battle system is probably the best in the Tales series to date, it's incredibly lengthy and beautiful and just a lot of fun too. If you haven't tried it out it's available on the marketplace right now and is well worth the download.

3.  The Last Story: In it's last year the Wii suddenly became a sort of bastion for great Japanese rpgs with some modern twists. Last Story has great characters, a story that takes great twists on the usual rpg tropes and incredible graphics that really pushed the Wii to its limits. On top of that, the battle system hits a nice mix of modern & old school systems, making it a true gem. Really it's only downside was for an epic rpg it's a tad on the short side, easily finished in under 20 hours.

2. Disgaea 4: Bottom line, there is no rpg deeper or that can be more of a timesink this generation than Disgaea 4. The excellent tactical combat and insane humor would be enough, but that's just the tip of the iceberg with tons of incredibly deep systems to play around with. You can spend 100s hours and get nowhere near the finish, but it's still incredibly entertaining because there's just so much to do and it's all really intricate and clever.

1. Xenoblade Chronicles: I'll chime in with nearly every other reviewer and claim Xenoblade Chronicles is easily the best jrpg of this generation, and a strong contender for best overall rpg. It's stunning on every level. The battle system is one of the best out there, the voice acting and characterization is top notch, and you can spend 100 hours just beating the main quest and there is still a to left to do. Few rpgs to date are such a complete package, and this will be one they remember generations from now as it should be the standard for any modern Jrpg.

That's it for today, I'll should be back by Wednesday with more thoughts on Ni No Kuni. Until then, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


Disney's Skylanders? Disney's Skylanders!

Well it's not surprising with the massive success of Skylanders that someone else would come along and try to do their own spin on the formula of a game supported by collectible action figures. That Disney is doing and looking like it really is it's own beast is great for a lot of reasons. The great thing about Skylanders is that while it could've been a really lazy product, it has some really solid gameplay under the hood, but the gameplay isn't all that varied and unless you really get into collecting a lot of the figures, you can easily get away with only having about 8 characters, because beyond that they don't add much to the game.

From the video and press release not only does the gameplay seem a lot more varied, but obviously the possibilities for characters and sets are almost limitless. I mean sure, you have the obvious Disney properties like the films & TV shows but things can get really crazy when you add the recently acquired Marvel & Lucas Arts properties to the mix. The fact that new "stories" apparently come with each set seems to add huge expansion possibilities and a real reason to pick up lots of new characters.

So as someone who really enjoys Skylanders I can certainly say I'm pretty excited about this and almost completely sold and excited about it. Except for one thing that may literally be a dealbreaker for me. One of the great things about Skylanders is it's light rpg elements. It's fun to level up your characters and earn upgrades through in-game money. Disney Infinity either scales back the focus on that or abandons it entirely for discs that you buy that give characters certain boosts. So this could mean a couple of things. Hopefully, they just provide some stat boosts that are hardly necessary. But if they are practically necessary and characters don't really progress otherwise in any meaningful way, this concept could lose quite a bit of its appeal. So the game could live or die on this idea of discs. I'm hopeful that it's a great product that I will spend plenty of money on. We'll see for sure as more information comes out on the next 5 or so months til its release.

That's really it for today, I'll try and get a third post for the week in tomorrow or Friday, until then here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Ray & Cooper


An android future?

Ok, so first their was Ouya, a kickstater-funded, android-basedconsole on the cheap. It seemed like a nice idea that may or may not be all it's cracked up to be, we will have to wait til it actually launches sometime this year to find out. Now that's a home console, but Nvidia at CES introduced their own dedicated portable android console, currently only known as "Project Shield". With the android/IOS market currently booming and the more hardcore console market just seeming to be in a constant state of rising costs and diminishing returns, is android the future? God I hope not. You see analysts claiming that now tablets can easily deliver the same experience as consoles. Have any of these people actually played these games? Sure Infinity Blade looks nice but it's gameplay is ridiculously simplistic. I haven't seen anything to this point that matches anything close to the best titles you see on PC or consoles or even portable systems for that matter. And it's not just about graphics, the android market is literally flooded with with a tsunami of crappy clones of the few real breakout titles, it's hard for good titles to stand out. Dedicated consoles may have reached their peak as far as mainstream success goes, but I'm pretty sure they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So, the first really big release of 2013, the newly rebooted Devil May Cry is out this week, and most of the reviews are pretty solid so far, but again based on what I played it doesn't really seem to outdo or even match any of the top tier action titles out there currently like Bayonetta or God of War or Darksiders. Admittedly it might be a decent enough filler title but I'm willing to bet most gamers have enough of a backlog that this is one they'll pass on.

That's really it for today, I will try and get another post in tomorrow or Thursday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Call


Same as it ever was...

Well, the big Pokemon news came out, and it's a new game for the 3DS. Granted, the first Pokemon title specifically for the 3DS is big news, but it's a very safe and expected move. When the developer, Gamefreak was asked about why it wasn't a Wii U title and really the general lack of Pokemon console games, they basically responded with saying the idea of being able to take it on the go. You know, that whole cross-play thing Sony's been pushing like mad and Nintendo has been saying they'll be doing with the next Smash Bros title? It's pretty simple guys. It's hardly an insult to call them lazy at this point, but I seriously doubt a new coat of 3D paint is going to make any difference in the series at this point either.

The other newly-announced game that I probably would've been excited about a few years ago is Lego Marvel Super Heroes. The Lego games have gotten really stale to me. I've barely touched Lego Batman 2 because it's really just to much of the same. If reviews say it provides the much needed change I'll pick it up, but in the meantime I'll just keep hoping for another Ultimate Alliance game, which I'd be far more excited about.

Finally, poor THQ is going under. Another casualty of the increasingly higher-risk AAA games console business, where there doesn't seem to be room for perfectly good middle of the road titles. You either have to sell millions with a huge investment or go small, there seems to be no in-between. The only bright side is several buyes are interested in the properties, which hopefully will include Darksiders because that is a real gem franchise and I'd hate to see it. In fact, given Nintendo's recent commitment to give underperforming titles a new life on their console, I'd love to see them pick it up and give Platinum games a whack at it, making an already awesome adventure series even more incredible.

That's really it for today, hopefully I'll get another post in this weekend. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Side Effects


Sony has a new patent. EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

Patents for various technologies happen every day. A lot never even make it beyond the patent stage. But with the whole used market thing really heating up and both developers and & console makers trying to combat it in various ways with things like DRM and online passes, people seem to get ancy when any technology that might even conceivably be used to completely curb used games pops up, regardless of if that is it's purpose or if it even ever materializes. Such a patent was apparently filed by Sony in early December, leading everybody to assume that the PS4 (or whatever it will be called) won't play used titles. Hell it even caused Gamestop's stock to drop 6% (because once Gamestop's stranglehold on the used market is gone, they are pretty much done). But at least for now, considering the negative impact it would have (not just Gamestop, but places that rent games would be affected as well, and god forbid you want to borrow a game from a friend), it's a high probability that it will never actually happen. Really the best thing for all parties involved is to wait for the digital market to become the dominant way to purchase console games, much like it is now for the PC. And it will happen. It might take a decade or so, but it'll happen. In the meantime, things like this are at best stumbles in the interim that will eventually sort themselves out.

Big Pokemon news coming? Apparently in 4 days there's supposed to a "big" announcement. Much as I would love it to be an announcement for a full blown Wii U Pokemon title, these so called announcements are rarely anywhere near what they are hyped up to be. I wouldn't be surprised if it was some special edition 3DS or something, but anything really noteworthy seems like a slim chance of happening.

E3 is still about 5 months away, but Microsoft has already started a countdown clock. Hopefully this is actually something meaningful, I think unveiling their new system (although I still think it coming out this Holiday season is not happening) is the only worthwhile reason they'd be doing this. And lord knows they need an exciting E3 showing, since I'm pretty sure their last one was when the 360 launched.

That's all for today, I should have another post up tomorrow. In the meatime, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Evil Dead