The state of the Vita...

As much as people talk about how bad Nintendo is doing with the Wii U, there's always the comparison of well, at least it's selling better than the Vita. And of course Vita is a portable system which is in a different ballpark than home consoles. But it's getting decimated by the 3DS which by any measure is a far less powerful and frankly a whole let less slick.

Of course the real issue is that the Vita isn't even in the conversation. Even Sony barely talks about it. Sure it can be used to play the PS4 remotely, but that's an extra $200 on top of your shiny new console. I have one and frankly I don't even use it for that. It's got a pretty solid library of games, especially if you count all the PSP titles available digitally. It probably has the most comprehensive library of great jrpgs for one system, that alone made it a worthwhile purchase for me. I'm looking forward to going through nearly all of them. But games in the future? There's not much. Borderlands 2? That'll be amazing if they can make that portable and fully intact, but it's also a pretty old game that I imagine anybody who gives a damn about it already owns at this point.

Sony just doesn't seem to know what they want to do with the Vita and as a result it's just a weird hodgepodge of things. If Sony really spoke to it's strengths they might be able to get the needle to move somewhat. Nintendo has made the 3DS the best selling system of the last year by really utilizing it strengths with some amazing software, and hell it's best games used the features of the 3DS to enhance already amazing games, but was sure not to focus the game itself around those features. Many of the better games available for the Vita do the same. Persona 4 Golden is arguably the best game on the system and it uses none of the features. Tearaway would be a solid game even without use of the touchscreen and back touchpad.

Can Sony turn the fortunes of the Vita around? Most likely. Will they? Probably not, they are too focused on the PS4 (which by all rights they should be) to give any attention to their flailing little console beyond tying it to their current success in a somewhat vague manner. It's too bad because it's a fantastic little system with plenty to offer. If only their own damn company would realize it...

That's all for today look for another post up by Thursday...


Like a Thief in the night...

Hey it's the first really big current-gen game of 2014 (that is also available on last-gen however)! Thief is out this Tuesday and should be snapped up by voracious gamers who only have an Xbox One or a PS4 and desperately need SOMETHING to play on it. Me? I like the setting but I'm not huge on stealth games. Splinter Cell with arrows is not something that appeals to me and frankly the previews I've listened to on various podcasts have not sounded horribly promising. Thankfully I've got plenty of other stuff to play on my various systems and odds are unless you are dying for a shiny new stealth game you are better off skipping this as well.

Now if I had an Xbox One, I would seriously be looking at Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare even though I've barely played the previous games. Why? Because despite it possibly seeming like a lame cash-in, at least it's offering something different to really stand out from other shooters that all seem way too similar whether they be in space or Afghanistan. I bet if this can actually find an audience it'll prove to be at least a fun competent chance to do something a little different every now and again with your online friends.

The only other release this week I really want to talk about is the PS3 release of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, which since it's a package containing a Gamecube rpg and a Wii rpg, many people may never have played. The Tales series has had a pretty good run this past generation. Vesperia, Graces & Xillia were all pretty good, but as someone who has played a large majority of the series, Symphonia is my favorite. If Stick of Truth wasn't hitting in a week, I'd probably pick this up now and enjoy it all over again. It also includes the direct sequel, which frankly was not very good, but the first game is more than worth the price all by itself. If you are a fan of action rpgs with rich characters and stories, this is one of the best, so check it out. As it is I'll probably get it sometime soon as we don't really know when games like Witcher 3 or Dragon Age III are actually coming out yet.

That's it for today, I wasn't really able to get around to a Gamer Cinema this weekend, but hopefully I'll have that or something else up by Tuesday.


Now YOU can overcharge would be heroes for shitty weapons!

Seriously, you ever get the idea that shop owners in rpgs are ripping you off? Here's your chance to make awesome weapons and charge them ridiculous prices in Weapon Shop de Omasse for the 3DS. At only eight bucks it looks like a fun little title but it will probably be a little while before I give it a go seeing as after beating A Link Between Worlds I picked up Bravely Default, still have a little ways to go in Mario & Luigi Dream Team, and a pretty good chunk of Persona 4 Golden left to play, so my portable plate is incredibly full at the moment.

And the Wii U gets its first big 2014 release with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Which is great if you love insanely hard 2D platformers. I like challenge, but the DKC series usually veers into wanting to throw your controller against the wall hard, and seeing I haven't quite gotten through Mario 3D world yet, I'm in no rush to give this a shot. There might be a few digital releases here and there, but I think the next major Wii U title I'm buying is either Smash Bros or Monolith Soft's upcoming rpg, whichever hits first.

Sony's other big 2014 exclusive, the Order: 1886 finally has a new trailer, and it looks pretty cool, one thing worries me though, and that's quicktime events. I loathe quicktime events with a passion, they pretty much ruined the God of War series for me, and I'm not sure they can ever be used well, because if you fail them, it's annoying as hell and there's just no variety or creativity to them. Hopefully they will just be a minor part of the gameplay. We'll just have to see when it hits.

That's all for today, hopefully have a new gamer cinema up by Sunday, maybe something in-between if I can manage.


Nintendo's most exciting new title is a Soccer rpg?

Ok, maybe not really. But there was a Nintendo direct today and honestly the soccer rpg Inazuma Eleven for the 3DS seemed to be one of the more intriguing options. I love rpgs, I love wacky soccer games (i.e. Mario Strikers & Sega Soccer Slam), so this seems like a no-brainer. But $20 for a game I can't try a demo of and don't really know about seems a bit steep atm, so I may at least wait til some reviews hit. Seeing as it's out right now that shouldn't take too long.

And then there's the weapon shop rpg, Weapon Shop de Omasse. I love this idea, running a weapon shop in a rpg sounds incredibly fun, and it'll only be $8 when it hits next week. This is good because as I've mentioned before while the 3DS release list is fairly packed, a lot of the stuff just isn't peaking my interest much. But these two titles make me believe once I finish Zelda & get done with Bravely Default (when I pick it up, haven't done that yet) there will be plenty of fun stuff for me to play with still.

The Wii U side of stuff was a bit lighter, but I was fairly excited to see Little Mac get a spot on the Smash Bros roster as I've been saying he should be in it for years. Monolith's new rpg looks like Xenoblade with mechs, which might be the most awesome thing ever. Bayonetta 2? Eh. The game looks way too full of itself to be fun, I've been playing the latest Devil May Cry titles thanks to my PS plus subscription and that seems to hit the notes that the Bayonetta series tries way too hard on and misses. Mario Kart 8? It looks pretty, but frankly the last two were underwhelming. I don't think my Wii U will be collecting dust or anything if for no other reason I've actually got a decent backlog on it (still haven't quite finished 3D World, and still have to start up Earthbound & restart Skyward Sword), but I also don't think I'll be buying anything for it for awhile either (ok maybe Link to the Past).

That's it for today, but I'll try and have something up Saturday.


Gamer Cinema: 100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience

To say American arcades are completely dead is far-fetched, but whereas they used to virtually litter the landscape, nowadays you have to go a little out of your way to find one. After all, why waste possibly hundreds of dollars when you can get a similar if not superior experience at home with a one time fee and the you get to keep it forever? And that's of course just console experiences, there's also the portable stuff (phones, tablets, gaming systems) that fits right in your pocket/bag.

100 Yen is a crowd-funded documentary that takes a pretty brief look (it only runs a little over an hour) at the evolution of the Japanese arcade scene from it's huge beginnings and the trends to what they are like today and what challenges they face. From shooters to fighters to dancing games to the UFO catchers and horse racing of today (yes for some reason, horse racing games are freaking
And that's really the issue. I get that it's a documentary on a limited budget, but it just glosses over nearly everything so quickly when each topic has enough material for a documentary all on it's own. Maybe they should've gone with an episodic series, each covering  specific era? Because as is it only serves as a very brief cliff notes version about the history of the Japanese arcade scene and the challenges it faces today. And yet it feels a little padded on, with weird detours in to the present American arcade scene (I guess for comparison but not really necessary since the subject matter isn't about that) and the Evo championship which is a fighting game tournament which is has some loose ties to the arcade scene but again not necessary and feels out of place in a documentary that is supposed to be focusing on the history of arcades in Japan. It's not bad if you just want a brief idea of the arcade scene in Japan, but frankly I was hoping for something meatier with more detail.

That's all for today, I should have another post up tomorrow or Wednesday.


Only the Brave...

Sorry for not getting in any other posts this week, It's been pretty hectic at work and I just couldn't seem to get anything else in. Should get in at least two posts next week. Anyways, the first big release of this year that's not some port of an old game is out now on the 3DS in Bravely Default. I already talked at length about my experience with the demo and I have no doubt if you are looking for the same kind of old school rpg itch that Fire Emblem scratched around this same time last year Bravely Default will fill that hole nicely. But my portable backlog is pretty packed, specifically with RPGs so I'm not picking it up right away, maybe wait for a sale, or at least til I beat a couple of the games (mainly Persona 4 Golden and Link Between Two Worlds, both of which I'm admittedly slacking on). Also while the release list for 3DS is meaty, it's mostly stuff I really have no interest in (Yoshi's New Island, Kirby Triple Deluxe, etc), so saving this until I suddenly have nothing to play on my 3DS seems like a good idea.

While it may help Sega's bottom line (clearly, or else they wouldn't keep making them), creatively, Sonic games have clearly suffered since the transition to 3D, with a large majority of games over really the last decade or so being at best mediocre and in most cases outright awful. Would a fresh Western perspective be what the series really needs?  Well let's hope. The new look is bound to upset long time Sonic fans (why are any of them left though?) with Sonic looking a little more Nathan Drake-esque, Knuckles suddenly being tall and bulky and Amy a little weirdly sexualized but at least they are trying something different this time. I think Sega doesn't have a ton of faith in this idea though as it's not even coming out in Japan and Sonic Team is still working on their own Sonic game that supposedly stays truer to the series roots that might even be out this year (though it's looking likely for 2015). As one of those idiots who gets excited and then disappointed every time a Sonic game comes out I do hope it's the shot in the arm this franchise badly needs.

Ok, odds are if you have a next-gen system you've pretty much exhausted all the games available by now (especially if you are looking for games that are new/aren't old ports). If you are desperate for SOMETHING to play and aren't tired of Lego games, the Lego Movie Videogame may be your best option this month. It's cross-gen sure, but it's new rather than a port of an already existing game and the Lego games usually deliver on being very fun experiences. That being said, my PS4 copy of Lego Marvel is still sitting collecting dust as I have much more compelling games to play on my supposedly inferior and dead last gen systems. Man it's gonna be a long wait til Infamous. And what the hell is after Infamous? I can't imagine someone who ditched their old systems to buy a next gen one is very happy at the moment, the release list is almost as bad as for the Wii U last year.

That's all for today, I should have another post up tomorrow or Tuesday about this week's releases and a gamer cinema on top of that and maybe even a third post to get back on track.


Gamer Cinema: Video Game High School, Season 2

Yup, season 2! I wasn't a huge fan of the first season of VGHS. It had good action scenes and production values, but buckled under horrible characters and bad writing and acting. That being said, I did point out that I though the series still had potential, and so I decided to give season 2 a shot since it was up on Netflix. What's changed? Well the 6 episode season is significantly longer, with each episode closing in around the 40 minute mark, allowing for more fleshed out arcs. There's also a wider variety of genres shown. Season One was almost all FPS scenes. In season two you get rts, fighting, mmo and a whole lot of driving, but at least there's more variety. Things also get changed up. Main villain/major jackass "The Law" is now Brian D & Ted's roomie (huh?) Ki becomes an RA,  and Jenny's Mom is the new varsity coach. Oh and Brian loses his scholarship and has to work as the school janitor.

So do all these changes make for a better show? Only slightly. For instance, "The Law" was framed for cheating and is on a quest to prove his innocence, but he's a irredeemable douchebag, why do we care? And a large majority of the plots and jokes are still stolen straight out of the Disney tween show playbook. The only real highlight of the season is "Double XP Weekend", where Jenny has to write a speech about her mom, who she has an extremely strained relationship with. That episode came off as decently written and heartfelt. and it almost felt out of place with the rest of the season's Saved By The Bell level plots. Overall the real star remains the surprisingly high production values and action sequences. But they are only surprisingly good because it's still a crowd-funded youtube show, it's not like it's up there with anything you'd see on an actual network sci-fi or action show with a real budget.  So you need to have good characters and writing to support that, and for the most part this still doesn't have that. Again, you take away the video game aspect and it's pretty much on the on par with shows like Even Stevens. Even the opening makes me feel like I'm watching something sandwiched in between Good Luck Charlie & Wizards of Waverly Place. But I'm guessing because it features high schoolers fake shooting each other it's a little too violent for the likes of the Disney Channel.  That being said, there's still incremental improvement here, everything is just a small step up from season one. I'm planning on watching the almost assured season 3 with cautious optimism, but that might be the last chance I give this series (unless I just really run out of stuff to review anyways).

That's all for today, look for another post up in a few days.