The Wii U games are coming! The Wii U games are coming!

After what has to be the longest post-launch drought in gaming history (yeah there's been a couple games like Lego City & Monster Hunter, but that's still a drought) finally it seems like Wii U owners are going to have some reason to regularly play their Wii U starting this Sunday with Pikmin 3 and there is actually a regular release schedule over the next few months.  I'm kind of meh on Pikmin 3 personally. I wasn't really into the first two games all that much and with Tales of Xillia out next week along with Ducktales & Mario & Luigi Dream Team out not long after the beginning of August is just a little too full for a game I'm not that hyped about. I'll probably still try and give it a rent and give impressions in the near future. I'm far more pumped for Wonderful 101 which will be out in September, and there's plenty of great-looking Wii U games coming down the line as well, so I can see my Wii U getting as much if not more playtime than my other systems.

The biggest news out of this video is easily the friends list limit and that while yes you must pay for PS+ for online MP, you don't need it for virtually anything else, including free-to-play games which are becoming a major part of next-gen consoles. Again this makes PSN a far more attractive deal then Xbox Live Silver, and Plus still wins over Gold since you get great discounts and free games that people might actually give a shit about (Halo 3? Good luck finding anyone who still plays that). The friends list thing is getting a little ridiculous at this point on both ends though. I mean yeah it's pretty easy to reach 100 friends so raising the limit by a big margin makes sense, but people were already thinking Xbox One's 1000 friend limit was overdoing it, 2000 just seems nuts.

And over the weekend, Phil Fish, creator of indy hit Fez, basically rage quit the gaming industry and cancelled Fez II. He claims it wasn't any one thing but clearly the straw that broke the camel's back was him being shit on by some guys for Gametrailers for not wanting to give a quote about Microsoft's recent decision to allow Indies to self-publish on the Xbox One. While either side could've handled this better (GT could've simply said whatever and moved on rather than calling Fish and Jonathon Blow out, Fish could've simply ignored them) Fish does come off as kind of a giant asshole here. But we are seeing this a ton now. Developers used to be fairly anonymous, hell game companies in general used to be fairly anonymous. Now in 24 hour gaming news cycle you get lots of people who while they might be good at their job, aren't used to and aren't good with dealing with the press and the public. They aren't used to playing nice and thinking before they speak and stuff like twitter isn't making it easier. Don Mattrick was probably very good at his job, it's not like he was some new guy at MS, he had been there quite awhile and was a key factor in the 360's success. But a few really bad interviews in a very short time period where he just clearly has no clue how he's coming off to people and he's the biggest villain in gaming.

I can think of numerous times where gaming personalities constantly in the public eye have come off as general douchebags (especially Penny Arcade, PVP and CAD, which are all gaming-themed comic strips I enjoy) at one time or another. Hell even I've gotten some vitriol from people over my rather insignificant and little-viewed rantings on here. For better or worse, gaming is a very transparent and public thing now in just about every aspect so people involved in it at almost any level either have to be very aware or have a very thick skin or possibly both. A lot of people in this industry just aren't equipped to deal with it that well. Will Fish be back at some point? It's very possible, it seems like gaming is in his blood and I doubt he'd be content doing something else.

That's really all I have for today, but I'm hoping to get another post up tomorrow, most likely another installment of Gamer Cinema.


Gamer Cinema: Video Game High School, Season One

Wouldn't it be cool if high school was all about video games? In VGHS, it is. The best up and coming players in the world are invited to the competitive Video Game High School, which is currently dominated by the famous "The Law". Brian D, a complete nobody gets the chance of a lifetime when by pure luck he embarrasses Law by beating him on live TV and therefore gets a chance to attend the prestigious VGHS. But of course The Law is also there and is determined to show that not only was Brian D lucky, but that he doesn't even belong at the school.

Developed by competitive gaming celebrity Freddie Wong, VGHS is a web series (that is conveniently condensed into a movie on Netflix) that was funded through kickstarter for it's first season and the seeing as the second season starts up this week, I thought it would be a good idea to check out the first season.

For a web series, VGHS has pretty good production values, like those you'd see on cable. The highlight is easily the gaming sequences, as those are exciting and well-directed. It's outside of the gaming that it all falls apart. I don't really think this is a fault of the actors as they do a decent enough job in the roles, but if the show was a little tamer I'd swear it belonged with any of those garbage "comedies" for tweeners that you see on the Disney Channel. A perfect example is that at one point Brian D is expelled from the school and hours later he is running an arcade. There is no explanation for this, and the characters even say it's only been 24 hours since he was expelled, but that whole wink at the audience falls completely flat. The season is just loaded with rapid-fire jokes that all fall flat. It also can't seem to decide whether Brian D is actually any good or not. At times he seems confident in his abilities and others claims he's not very good and then claims he's only good with his love interest. It's a pretty annoying inconsistency.

Despite all this I do see potential in the series, and many great series have a pretty underwhelming first season. The premise does work really well and as I said before the action scenes are well-executed and exciting. I'm certainly willing to give it at least a few episodes of the second season before completely writing it off.

That's all for today, I should have a new post up tomorrow or Saturday.


Gamer Cinema: Game Over, The Complete Series

TV is littered with short-lived shows that by all rights probably should've gone on longer and despite their short run are well-loved and have tons of fans. Game Over is not one of these. Limited to a thankfully short 6 episode run on the also thankfully short-lived UPN, Game Over was Wreck-it Ralph with far worse writing and virtually no budget. The Show focuses on a family that lives in the video game world, not that you would know it aside from the occasional straight out reference that isn't even a joke (hey let's mention Mario! There's a random poster with Crash Bandicoot!) and obviously there to remind you that this is supposed to to be a video game universe. The main characters sure as hell don't. The father Rip is  race car driver (driving, that's only done in video games, right?) The mom is a secret agent? Treausre Hunter? Who knows but she seems to be chasing after a different mineral monkey statue every episode. But does that mean she's a gaming character? No real references or evidence is given. The two kids? The boy is a wannabe rapper and is one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen stuck in the 90s even though this was in 2004. The daughter is Hayley from American Dad, that's it. But without characters like Stan or Roger to play off of it's a role that doesn't make sense. She's pretty much a rebel without a cause. And finally there is Turbo who is the requisite smart ass pet, but he's lacking the depth you get from a Brian or a Klaus.

The humor is mostly based around the idea of stories that everyone can relate to, that at the end of the day they are a regular family who have regular problems. Which is fine because you can only carry the it's a video game world joke so far. The problem is that again they don't act like they are in a video game world, which would've been a good way to put a fresh spin on tired plots about Dad having trouble connecting with his kids and Mom being too busy with her job top help her kid with a project, etc. Instead it's just tired joke on top of tired joke with no effort whatsoever.

The final nail in the coffin is the animation. I won't necessarily knock a series for having an obviously limited budget when it comes to animation. I wasn't expecting Toy Story, but there were series years before that looked better. Rather than going for the cheap-looking CGI that the series is presented in(and many cheap kids shows are still done in), they've could've gone with something that actually looked like a video game and that would've at least been unique.

Arguably the only redeeming feature of this whole show is that it features Patrick Warburton, Lucy Liu & Rachel Dratch doing their best to give life to completely dead material, but even the biggest fans of these actors would be tolerating at best this rather than actually enjoying it. Game Over was clearly over before it even began.


The devil is in the details...

The Shin Megami Tensai series may be one of the most prolific game series around. It's got several spin-offs all with tons of their own titles (most notable being the Persona series) and like many long-standing Japanese role-playing game franchises, it's been pretty unwilling to change it's core mechanics over the years, for better or worse. People may knock Final Fantasy but at least it's willing to try to be different nearly every time out. Series like this, Persona, Etrian Odyssey Dragon Warrior and of course Pokemon evolve so slowly over time it might be a couple generations before you notice any significant changes.

The main hook of the  Shin Megami series is that it's a far more intricate version of Pokemon, only with demons. You negotiate with these demons to get them on your side and can fuse demons to make them more powerful. It's a pretty addicting mechanic. But admittedly the series is also known for being super difficult and not horribly inviting to new people. Add to that an unusually high $50 price tag and it's kind of a hard sell. Though admittedly it's good timing. I just finished Project X Zone and while I'm still playing plenty of Animal Crossing, that's a game built for playing no more than an hour or so a day. Add to that it's still about a month until Mario & Luigi Dream Team hits so it's incredibly good filler material if nothing else.

And that's it for today, and possibly as far as game releases go it for the month as there are no really noteworthy releases til August but look forward to another Gamer Cinema on my next post, most likely on Wednesday.


Gamer Cinema: Noobz

Welcome to a new feature of Medium Entertainment, Gamer Cinema. There are tons of movies out there about games and gaming culture that cover most any genre you can think of, so I thought it would be fun to regularly review them. This feature will mostly focus on smaller movies, documentaries and fan films mostly because those will be awful and easy to make fun of, but occasionally you'll get a nice hidden gem as well. Basically as long as it has at least some tenuous connection to gaming I will watch and review it (admittedly if I start getting low on material the connection might be pretty loose, but given how much I've found on Netflix and Hulu alone I doubt that'll be an issue). I should be able to put in at least one of these week, maybe more depending on my schedule.

Anyways, first up is Noobz, a straight to video comedy written, directed and starring Blake Freeman as Cody. Cody is pretty down on his luck, he just got fired from his job as a realtor and his wife left him because he can't hold down a job and spends most of his time playing video games (namely Gears of War 3). But Cody is actually really good at video games, and his buddies Andy (Jason Mewes) & Oliver (Matt Shively) convince him to come with them to LA to compete in the Cyberbowl Championships for a big cash prize.

Noobz is a fairly boilerplate comedy, but considering how low my expectations were initially(I mean seriously, look at that cover and tell me it doesn't look like some quick cash in by somebody who actually has no idea about games), that was an incredibly pleasant surprise. Freeman is pretty affable as the straight man lead. Shively is ok as a barely in the closet buddy and manages to get a few laughs but considering this a 2012 movie he doesn't have much reason to be and might've been funnier just being gay and ok/proud of it. The real surprise is Mewes, who is miles away from his well-known obnoxious Jay persona which is funny in small doses but can't really carry a movie (see Jay & Sient Bob Strike Back). This is a very toned down and low key performance and he manages to be pretty funny and charming most of the movie, which is good because his subplot is the love story between him and a rival female gamer played by Zelda Williams (Robin Williams daughter) and they actually have pretty good chemistry and you have no problem believing that she would fall for a decent guy like him. Casper Van Dien is also pretty funny in a small amount of screen time playing himself.

What also helps is that obviously Freeman is a gaming fan, as the movie is littered with actual gaming paraphernalia and even a couple well-known gaming personalities like Adam Sessler and the fact that unlike many much bigger movies, it actually features a real game and not something that looks incredibly fake. This might be the most respectful representation of gamers I've seen in movie to date as well, as nobody really falls into the horribly offensive stereotype of loser virgins living in their mom's basement. Though admittedly anyone who's a fan of arcade games may feel slighted by the subplot of a former Frogger Champion trying to make a comeback that basically represents arcade gaming as ancient and extremely unpopular even though documentaries like King of Kong show otherwise.

My only big complaint about the movie is that a couple of jokes come at the expense of the plot actually making sense and not many but a few of the jokes are so cliched and tired they pretty much kill the momentum that the movie had going up to that point. Luckily the movie doesn't take long to pick up again. Bottom line, this was an extremely pleasant surprise and if you are looking for a decent comedy or even just a movie that treats gamers with a modicum of respect, this is a pretty good choice.


There's a new Ratchet & Clank game! Why am I not that excited about it?

A new Ratchet & Clank game? That goes back to the roots? For $30? For the PS3? Ah, it's that last one. I love the Ratchet and Clank series, it's easily my favorite Sony IP. Between the PS2 & PS3 I've played and enjoyed nearly every title (pretty much with the exception of All 4 One). But you know what, we've had two fantastic core R&C titles for the PS3 that I can easily recommend to anyone, and I feel like those have taken this series as far as it can go in the current generation. The Ratchet & Clank series would be such a prime candidate to have a launch title for the PS4. And it could've been a short (like 4-6 hour) $30 title that just really shows off the graphic capabilities, maybe even free with a PS plus subscription. That would sell me more than a slightly stripped down version of a driving sim I wasn't going to buy in the first place. This almost seems like an apology for the last couple of downright disappointing R&C game and possibly for anybody who suffered trough Fuse. I'm all for supporting the PS3 for another year or two, but not with franchises that are already well-represented, especially when they could use the infusion of freshness that a new generation would bring. I mean think about it, probably the most comparable title on the PS4 is Knack, and even by Mark Cerny's own admission, it's not a particularly lengthy title (10 hours in dev speak is more like 6 hours in real gameplay terms) and somewhat of a tech demo. I'd much more buy into that as an established franchise like R&C for a lower price than pay $60 for basically a less polished experience with a character that I'm not familiar with and at least from previews, doesn't have much personality.

That's really all I have for today, but I'll try and do a post Sunday, probably with what games I've been playing lately (I'm thinking of making that a more regular feature, especially since I've been catching up on some older titles). Until then, here's your video game music of the week: THE NEXT-GEN WARS MUSICAL!


7 Reasons to not move on to next gen just yet...

So the dust of E3 and Xbox 180 has somewhat settled, and while there may be some surprises at an event like the Tokyo Game Show or Gamescom, we pretty much know what the launch will be like. And frankly it's not that positive. There's a laundry list of issues that you can easily avoid by just waiting til next year or even longer. Here's 7 perfectly good reasons to spend that $600+ (when you add in games/peripherals) on all the good current gen stuff.

For every console ever...
7. You will still be able get the biggest hits on current consoles: Granted, most games that are focused on next-gen and being farmed out to some other team to be put out on other consoles might give you a reason to upgrade, but that's pretty much just Titanfall and Destiny at this point, which are a long ways off. Call of Duty probably won't be much different. Assassins Creed IV & Watch Dogs will be similar.

6. You aren't ready to give up your library: This is the first gen of consoles that have lasted this long and have a fair amount of gamers with some or possibly a lot of digital content. Granted, you could keep it, but a majority trade-in/sell/give away their consoles when they are ready to move on the next gen because shelf/entertainment center space gets pretty premium when you are talking about multiple platforms and multiple generations. I have 3 home consoles right now and it barely seems like there is room for 4, something will probably have to go and I doubt I'm alone on that.

5. There are still plenty of games coming out for current consoles: Aside from cross-gen titles, most of the more exciting titles this year are strictly currrent gen. Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite and Last of Us are out now and all early GOTY contenders. Arkham Origins, GTA V and Stick of Truth are probably the most exciting games for the rest of this year and they won't be on the new platforms.

4. The launch line-up is laughable: I had a PS4 pre-ordered, and I know some are getting it to "support" Sony, but I took a long hard look at the launch line-up, there was nothing that good. Knack is probably the most interesting exclusive title and sure as hell not worth $400. What about the Xbox One launch is exciting? Maybe Dead Rising 3? Ryse is apparently better than it looked, but that's not saying a lot. As much as post-launch support for the Wii U was terrible, the actual launch line-up was really strong with several unique titles. The PS4 and Xbox One both seem to be lacking anything that would make someone really want to pony up the money at launch. Leading into my next point:

3. Next-Gen is expensive: Granted, the Wii U suffered at $350 because the Wii was so cheap, but the last few launches (3DS, Vita, Wii U) have all been blasted for not really providing value equivalent to their launch price. I'm straining to see anything on either console that screams this is worth this huge investment that would basically be most of my Xmas budget or a good chunk of my tax return when there will probably be either a price drop or some good giftcard/bundle deals offered next year (especially with the hardware supposedly being much cheaper to make as compared to last gen). The graphics don't look that much better, the features just aren't that interesting (live TV! That's so great!). Most of the more interesting features and games aren't coming to fruition until at least next year (i.e. Gakai), and this bring up my number two reason:

Maybe in 2015. If we're very lucky...
2. The best games are a long ways off: Lots of great games were shown at E3. You know who has the most exclusive games coming out this holiday season? Nintendo. Sony & MS showed at lot of very early in development games that might come out next year with nothing solid in terms of gameplay. I doubt it will be as bad as the Wii U because Nintendo just wasn't on the ball but don't be surprised if December through March is pretty dry because there's just nothing planned for those consoles in that period. If PS4 gamers are lucky they might get Infamous in that time period. And I don't see anything on Microsoft's end that really looks like it'll be out in that period.

 1. The bugs won't be worked out: I hope we won't have anything as serious as the red ring, but Wii U needed a day one update. Xbox One needs a day one update. The PSN was a goddamn mass up until a few years ago. Both the 360 & PS3 have evolved to be very different beasts then they were at launch. I think they Xbox One and PS4 will be a lot closer to their vision (for better or worse) in a year or two, and anybody buying in now gets the privilege of paying a premium while dealing with all those headaches.

That's the list. I'm sure both consoles will sell and be hard to find this holiday season (yet another reason, fuck lines and scouring stores for units) but I'll pretty happily play my current consoles and my Wii U and be very busy and satisfied.