Dante, Chun Li and Frank West walk into a bar. And then proceed to kick demon ass...

A game with a premise like Project X-Zone is quite the rarity outside of Japan, where licensing issues aren't nearly as complicated. Various characters from Namco Bandai, Sega and Capcom along with a few originals team-up in a srpg that;s a tad reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts with all these random franchises coming together. The plot is also about as nonsensical as the KH series, and much like that series is not where you'll get most of your enjoyment from. The battle system is simplistic but entertaining, combining turn-based srpg tactics with simplistic but fun fighting inputs. How much enjoyment you'll get out of the game is heavily dependent on how much you get a kick out of seeing these characters interact with each other and while some are pretty well known others are incredibly obscure. For the record, I'm already having a blast seeing characters from Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter and Tekken all in the same scene, and that's just the second battle in. If that sounds just as awesome to you, I highly recommend a purchase.

Now Deadpool is a little harder to easily recommend. It's combat is simple fun but also shallow and doesn't have much oomph (enemies barely react to being hit as do you) and there are numerous glitches.It's also pretty damn short, clocking in at well under 10 hours. But there's a certain undeniable charm to the title. Deadpool is captured perfectly with a great balance between crass humor and brilliant 4th wall breaking jokes, and you can really see that with just a little bit of fine-tuning and tweaking it might actually be a tremendous game. As it is if it was a $20 or even $30 game, especially a digital one, I could still probably recommend it. But it's $50. This is sort of a prime example of how broken gaming is. I mean there are certainly better-looking games that give you more bang for your buck on PSN. But I'm sure Activision felt they had to do a retail release and probably price it at least $50 because admittedly budget titles have a well-deserved bad rep. Hopefully it'll balance out because I think a lot more studios could survive with more realistic prices if the public really starts seeing some quality releases in that range. Companies keep saying games should be cheaper but of course very few if any seem to be willing to drop theirs, claiming that of course they provide great value for that price. Anyways, if you see Deadpool on sale for $30 or less and enjoy action titles, it's probably a worthwhile pickup.

Finally The Ouya hit retail this week. Apparently it's selling pretty well initially. And why not? At a $100 it's hard not to see at least some value in it, as it already comes loaded with titles and has quite the emulation system (though given that's in a legally grey area, it's not an official benefit). If it really does take off, it could be a great haven for indy titles if it's successful, but we;ll have to wait and see, most initial reviews are mixed. I don't have much interest in picking one up now, but I'm open to getting one somewhere down the line (maybe when my current backlog isn't looking so busy) and I'll be sure t give impressions if and when I do. What might help is a standout title or two that really shows off why I should get one, and I'm just not seeing that right now.

That's all for today, but I should be able to get another post up this weekend. Until then back to X-Zone and finishing off Deadpool.


Nintendo knows how to do DLC???

Super Luigi U is (as far as I know) Nintendo's first real effort to provide a meaty dlc expansion to any of their titles, most certainly any of their flagship franchises such as New Super Mario Bros. Now granted, if you were expecting something all new and drastically different from NSMBU, you may dissapointed, as it's the same worlds with remixed levels so there aren't any new bosses or anything of that sort. But I got tthe DLC and have played through several worlds and it's pretty good. The re-designed levels are clever and challenging, along with Luigi controlling very different from Mario so it changes your approach. Add in a mere 100 seconds to complete levels and you have quite the challenge as well. Most companies who have been doing dlc for years often still provide flimsy overpriced poor excuses for cash grabs. If you liked NSMBU, I highly recommend downloading this as it's a great extension of that. Also a nice addition for people who suck at these games is being able to play as Nabbit who is virtually invincible.

This post is a few days later than I planned, but I have a good excuse: I'm pretty psyched about the upcoming PS4 title, Infamous: Second Son (which sadly is not a launch title but in that vague "launch window" that is essentially meaningless). So much so that I'm getting into the previous games which I never gave much of a chance and am finding the first one incredibly fun so far. To that effect, I made my first fan video in 3 years. It was a lot of fun. I hope to do them more often but it does take a combination of a game I'm excited about and hearing a piece of music that goes with it really well. I don't go looking for it. So hopefully another one in not too much longer, but for now enjoy:

That's all for today, but I should definitely be back Tuesday or Wednesday with thoughts on Deadpool (which actually looks pretty fun) and Project X Zone.


7 very serious issues the Xbox One still has...

So Microsoft made a compete 180 today, removing their rather ridiculous DRM requirements and and allowing gamers to lend and trade-in games freely as opposed to the completely confusing policy they had in place before. But I'm still not too enticed to buy one. There are lots of serious issues the Xbox One still has that should make you at least wary of buying it anytime soon:

Yeah, cause people really needed a next-gen version of this...

7. They still treat Indies like shit: Microsoft has terrible policies regarding independent game developers. While this may not reflect a whole ton on console sales, indies are where all the new risky fresh gameplay ideas coming from. It's also a good way to fill gaps in-between big AAA releases.  Based on their current policies, Minecraft would have never even gotten made. And you saw evidence of this at E3, every other platform is far more enticing and you saw far more indie games on those platforms. It may not matter that much to the mainstream consumer, but for gamers looking for something besides your usual AAA safe bets, it will.

$60 extra bucks a year to enjoy services I already pay for? Sign me up!

6. Xbox Live Gold is a terrible "deal": At the start of this gen, Gold was great because while it offered a far superior service. Now it might still be a little better but the service you get on Sony platforms only charges for multi-player going forward and does not charge me to watch Netflix or Hulu+ in addition to offering great free games and discounts. Nintendo's online is entirely free. Gold is essentially a scam at this point.

5. It's still expensive: Especially now at $100 more than the now virtually similar PS4 (which is actually more powerful). At least before they could claim it was a console of the future, now what? It's $100 more at the very least because they are forcing people to buy Kinect, which at the very least core gamers absolutely loathe, which leads me to the next issue.

4. Kinect will still be terrible: This has nothing to do with privacy concerns or targeted advertising, that could be another whole column. Kinect is a terrible hardware device, and this "new and improved" version hasn't proved anything different yet. Gesture-based gaming is still generally terrible save for dance and exercise titles, voice recognition will be terrible because voice recognition is.

3. The games aren't all that different, at least not yet: This is a problem on the PS4 as well, but at least we are seeing variety with  games like Infamous: Second Son, Knack and again all those indie titles. Think about it: Virtually all the Xbox One titles were "dudebro" shooters (Battlefield, COD, Destiny, Titanfall). Isn't next-gen where we get some new gameplay types or at least some fresh spins on the standard gameplay types? Again not seeing a ton on Sony's end, but absolutely notthing on Microsoft's. Maybe that'll change in a few years when everything stops being cross-gen, but that's a big maybe when AAA publishers are playing it so safe these days.

2. The change in policy removes all the positive things about the Xbox One: Despite all the bad press, the Xbox One had some pretty awesome features that really could've changed the future of gaming. Lending games out friends far away? Awesome. Playing your entire library on someone else's Xbox? Pretty cool. And it could have led to cheaper games, but based on MS current policies and digital pricing structure that was a long shot. I'm not saying these benefits outweighed the restrictions, that was the big problem to begin with, but it also doesn't mean there weren't some cool ideas in there.

1. DRM could (and probably will) come back: If it can be this easily taken it out, it can be just as easily put back in. It's clear from today's messaging that Microsoft is far from happy about making this decision, and eventually they will bring it back. This is an almost definite future we are facing in terms of gaming, especially when the market goes full digital like PC practically is now. The important thing is that we are offered clear tangible incentives to get to a point where it's natural. I don't know if Microsoft has actually learned this lesson and will just try again when people have forgotten or do it the right way.

That's it for today, I should be back tomorrow with thoughts on Super Luigi U and a couple other things.


The Last of Us is totally Uncharted with zombies. ..

I was planning to do a favorite games of E3, but considering aside from the known quantities coming out this holiday, everything is so far off in the magical land of maybe 2014 (especially when we are talking next-gen titles, right now it's hard to make a good argument to get either upcoming system with a lack of truly next-gen titles at launch. Not that there isn't stuff I'm looking forward too. Virtually all of Nintendo's line-up over the next 6 months looks great. Arkham Origins looks to be just fresh enough to still be really fun. I'm hoping despite the jokey trailer that South Park: The Stick of Truth will actually come out this year, because that probably my most anticipated rpg since Xenoblade. Just none of it so exciting as to make some list of big things that impressed me. 2013 seems like a solid year to either stick with what you have or buy a Wii U. 2014 seems like a time to hopefully get real excited for the next year.

Easily the last big exclusive release this year on PS3 (does the 360 have any exclusives anymore?), The Last of Us is Naughty Dog's last attempt to squeeze every bit of performance out of the PS3 and probably so they are known as something other than those Uncharted dudes. The story is your standard zombie apocalypse but it's well paced and acted, and absolutely gorgeous. I'm not sure you could do this on a 360 period. It shows when someone knows what to do with the system how awesome PS3 games can look. Seeing as the PS4 is also more powerful than the Xbox One yet far easier to develop for than the PS3 was I think a lot of exclusive titles will be looking noticeably better than anything on the Xbox One in a couple years as well.

But when it comes to the gameplay, well it's Uncharted with clunkier combat. And there are just some idiotic game logic flaws. Ammo is at a premium in this world, so why aren't heavily armed enemies dropping much if any? That's completely arbitrary and a stupid way to go when you are trying to be somewhat realistic. Think of the combat as a clunkier version of Uncharted, which isn't that fine-tuned to begin with. You can argue that the protagonist Joel, is no Nathan Drake, but he is a grizzled hardened survivor who has lived in this world for 20 years. His fighting and survival skills should be pretty damn well tuned to reflect that, and they aren't, even with the upgrade system you have in place. Finally, as much as Naughty Dog was trying to stress that The Last of Us is not Uncharted with zombies, it totally is.  Whenever you are not in combat, it has the exact same kind of land-traversal puzzles that series is known for, down to helping people open doors and giving them boosts up to higher levels.

If it sounds like I'm casting the Last of Us in a negative light, I'm really not. I'm about 6 hours in and having a good overall time with it. Just based on Naughty Dog's own hype and the reviews I was expecting a unique refreshing experience. What I'm getting is Uncharted with zombies, which is fine just not worthy of the extreme praise it's been getting.

That's all for today, I should have another post up by Tuesday, until then, here's your VIDEO GAME MUSIC OF THE DAY:


Nintendo may have the best holiday lineup. But it may not matter...

I feel kind of sorry for Nintendo. They don't have drm, offer free online and you can trade games freely, yet Sony is treated as a hero of the people for doing it, regardless of how good their games are. I think people have kind of lost perspective because has anybody looked at the launch line-up for either the Xbox One or the PS4? In terms of games you can only get on those consoles, you are talking 2-3 games tops.

 If you haven't gotten into the next generation and want a ton of games to play, The Wii U makes a hell of a lot more sense than the PS4 or the Xbox One this holiday season. It will actually have big third party titles such as Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed 4, Batman Arkham Origins (and possibly COD Ghosts) along with more unique titles than anybody else. You have a new Mario, Donkey Kong, Windwaker HD, Pikimin, Scribblenauts Unmasked and arguably my most anticipated 2014 Wii U title-The Wonderful 101.  That's an incredibly strong line-up and I don't think anybody would be bored or disappointed with it.

But I feel like Nintendo has missed their big opportunity here. The rest of this year seems comprised of things that shoud've been out already (Pikmin, Rayman, Wonderful 101) and extremely safe bets. Mario 3D World looks fun, but its also basically 3D Land ported. The other big holiday release, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is an extremely safe game that basically looks the same as Donkey Country Returns. It's a great line-up but no stand out title that will really move systems. Hopefully they will realize they need a price cut because even with a better line-up I don't think anyone will look at them and look at a PS4 and not pay the extra $50. Which admittedly now might not be the best move because their exclusive offerings seem to pretty much be Knack (which does look amazing though) and a new Killzone. That's not worth $400 frankly.

That's it for today, I should be be back this weekend with a list of my most anticipated titles from E3.


Microsoft won the battle, but Sony might've already won the war...

You know, it would be nice if console gaming really was just about the games. If you looked at yesterday's two big conferences from a pure gaming perspective, Microsoft to their credit won pretty handily. Their conference was nearly all games, games games as they said it would be. Most of those games looked pretty damn cool. I was really impressed with several titles, some of which are launch titles. If was just about the games, I'd probably be getting a Xbox One before I got a PS4.

Sony's Press conference in comparison wasn't all that strong, partially because they really had to cover a lot more subject matter. PS3, Vita(though just barely), boring media stuff. It seemed to take forever to get to games. And not to discount indy games, but that's the stuff you give time to on the show floor, not things you show to try and sell consoles. It's awesome that FFXV & KHIII are coming to the system. At some vague time in the future. The launch line-up itself is kind of vague and not all that strong (maybe Knack & Second Son at launch along with Killzone?). Hell now they are going to be charging for multi-player. If that was all they had going for them I think most would've said MS handily won the day.

But then Sony suddenly became the hero of the consumer by not only undercutting the Xbox One by $100, but keeping their stance on used games and drm the same as it is now, which is basically letting you do what you want. The crowd erupted in genuine enthusiasm and in a few moments Sony had just won to everyone watching. Whether or not this will make a difference this holiday is a little hard to say when you figure the average consumer doesn't pay attention to this stuff, but I think they'll pay attention to the difference in price at least.

I am certainly firmly in camp Sony at this point, and it may be awhile, if ever before I even look in the direction of the Xbox One.


See you at the crossroads...

It's incredibly hard to describe Animal Crossing and make it sound remotely interesting. You buy a house and it expand it, usually by collecting bugs, fish, fossils and fruits in order to pay the bills. On the surface, that's really all there is to it, and man does that sound boring as hell. But if you actually play the game, it hooks you in with it's simple charm and surprising addictiveness. You do care about catching new insects and digging up fossils. You enjoy the funny quirky townspeople, and suddenly you are hooked and don't mind so much being under the tyrannical thumb of evil real estate baron Tom Nook. This new entry does add a twist by making you the mayor, which makes the whole town your responsibility but also addressees the common complaint the series has had that since  it's completely based on your system's clock, if you had an abnormal schedule you couldn't get much accomplished and now you can do things like make the town a bunch of early risers or night owls.

It's also not meant to be played in any kind of long marathon sessions, as you usually run out of things to do for  the day within a couple of hours. But that's ok, Animal Crossing isn't about rushing you. It might actually be one of the best long-term games out there with it's really fantastic sense of pacing. There's almost always something going on every day keeping you coming back for weeks, months, even years. The original on the Gamecube had me hooked for a year solid and though I was able to resist the call of the DS & Wii titles, the 3DS with an easy digital download with my portable backlog all cleared proved way too tempting  I've only gotten a few hours in so far, but it's proving just as addicting. Probably the perfect thing to chill me out so I don't explode in nerd rage at E3 tomorrow...

That's really it for today. I'll probably just absorb the next couple of days of press conferences and post my thoughts late Tuesday or Wednesday.


Microsoft confirms our fears...

Ok a couple quick notes on things besides the big Xbox One news because that's obviously what I am covering today:

1. The Project X-Zone demo: Really damn short. It's one battle. It was fun and I got a kick out of the characters I did recognize like Ryu & Ken and people from Sakura Wars and Valkyria Chronicles, etc. The battle system is fun and much more interactive than your usual strategy game, mashing buttons to really max out damage. I can see that getting old if there's no variety to the moves though. However it has the advantage of having a pretty solid amount of time between when it comes out later this month and when the next noteworthy 3DS game hits (That'd be Mario & Luigi Dream Team which hits mid August) so it should be pretty decent filler if you aren't obsessing over the new Animal Crossing.

2. Konami's "big" press conference: This was ok? I wasn't expecting that much. Keifer Sutherland as the new voice of Snake is sure to raise a few eyebrows after David Hayter doing it for so long, but it's still Metal Gear and I LOATHE Metal Gear. Lords of Shadow 2 did look pretty intriguing, I've meant to check out the original forever and I may do that soon. The biggest disappointment was easily the end when they said they had a "surprise" and instead of a big game reveal it was just a halfway decent Mega 64 skit. I'm glad it was only 30 minutes because even then it kind of dragged. Hopefully this is the worst thing we will see in the next week as it was just ok, which is kind of an accomplishment for Konami if you look at their previous E3 presentations.

And now we get to the big news: Surprisingly, Microsoft has come clean about two big controversies they wouldn't even discuss a couple days ago: Online connectivity and Used games. I'll give them credit for responding to these questions relatively quickly given that I thought they would wait until well after E3 to say anything. The bad news is that they are pretty much as Orwellian as most people feared. First the used games: Yes you can trade in used games. To people specifically in business with Microsoft. That most likely means you'll be able to trade games at Gamestop along with some other major retailers, but it pretty much kills smaller game-based businesses, individual sales and renting games. I think potentially this is not a terrible thing as I've stated before. If it leads to lots of quick sales and price drops like you see on Steam it could work out really well but given how Microsoft handles pricing of digital content I seriously doubt it will.

In all honesty how the used games work is the least nagging issue.for me. I buy a large majority of games new on a pretty limited budget and while I do trade in games to help with that I am an adult I can just wait for games to be a price I can afford. no big deal. Of much more concern to me is the other 3 big issues I have: Forced Hard Drive Installs, mandatory Kinect inclusion and biggest is online check-ins.

Hard Drive installs are easy: Next gen games are going to be pretty big and fill up a 500gb hard drive pretty quickly so that means it won't be long before I am forced to buy another hard drive, essentially driving up the price. People complain about the Wii U's HD space but since it doesn't require you to install anything it doesn't have to be such a big deal.

Then there's Kinect 2.0: I cannot overstate how much I hate Kinect. It doesn't matter how much more sensitive it is, it's still far less efficient than pressing a button and it lacks the heft of having anything in your hands, making most actions feel disjointed and unnatural. Yeah that works fine for Dance Central but any game where you have a weapon will be terrible. That's in addition to the voice commands, which I'm sure assholes will have a lot of fun yelling "XBOX OFF" when you are in the middle of a game.

But really the final last straw is the confirmation of online check-ins required every 24 hours or your Xbox One basically becomes useless. This is beyond terrible. Microsoft has already admitted that if you either travel a bunch or are in the military you might as well not get one. How about if you live in a place with even remotely spotty internet connection? Don't get one. Live somewhere that has extreme weather and might have power/internet outages? Don't bother. Ever planning on moving? Yeah don't get one. I might be getting a tad extreme with that last example but all the others are completely valid. This is pretty much inexcusable in my opinion and relegates the Xbox One to a pretty distant last in my console buying choices. I'll most likely own a PS4, a Vita an Ouya and possibly even something completely dead like a Jaguar before I get an Xbox One.

All right that is it for today I will probably have some kind of Pre-E3 post up Sunday (thanks to an injury I have the week off so I can do lots of posting) and I I have pretty much cleared my 3DS slate so if I do pick up Animal Crossing I'll do some impressions then.


Has Nintendo shown too much of their E3 plans?

This year's E3 is shaping up to easily be the most exciting in years, possibly ever. This is thanks to the fact that pretty much everybody needs to bring their A game as the big 3 all have a lot to prove. Sony & Microsoft have held their E3 plans pretty close to the chest. We don't have much in the way of clues of what they are going to show which makes it potentially extremely exciting.
As a Wii U owner I'm extremely excited about Nintendo's E3 presentation. But unless they are holding a lot back, we might already know too much. Here's their E3 site, and it constantly changes between extremely recognizable silhouettes.

So in this image alone we can see Pikmin, Link (most likely for Windwaker HD) a character from Wonderful 101, Mario on his own suggesting the already pretty much confirmed new Mario 3D title for Wii U, etc. Then we already know in some form we will see Smash Bros and Mario Kart. So is that it? Not that I'm not excited for these games, but a large majority we already know about. Nintendo doesn't need to "win" E3 but if they want to get some buzz going they need some surprises too, or nobody is going to be talking about them. This year's E3 more than any in years is one for new ideas and surprises and Nintendo needs some badly, not a bunch of known quantities when Sony is basically known for constantly showing off new IP and Microsoft promising at least 8 original games in the first year of the Xbox one. Hopefully I'm wrong and this is just teasing a small portion of what we will see or I doubt anyone will be talking about what Nintendo shows next week in the wake of whatever Sony and Microsoft show.

That's all for today but I should have at least one more post up this week with thoughts on the Project X Zone demo that should be up sometime today and Konami's pre-E3 conference on Thursday.