October 25, 2011

Be Advised: Play More Games

Enemy boat spotted

Battlefield 3 is out today and it’s a big one. Developer DICE is calling it the successor to 2005′s Battlefield 2, which is to say it’s not a new entry in the Bad Company offshoot series that featured slightly scaled-down Battlefield gameplay and (rather successfully) introduced destructable environments. Destruction does return to some extent in BF3, along with series staples like jets, squad leaders, and 64-player Conquest games played over expansive maps–although the latter is exclusive to the PC version. No matter which version you pick up, though, you can expect the same world-class, team-based FPS gameplay that DICE has engineered down to a science since Battlefield 1942 nearly ten years ago. That’s provided you can ride out the launch week server woes and patches, of course. I’ll be making an effort to play it, in one form or another.


October 21, 2011

BGM Mode: In the year 20XX

Mega Man

With this week’s Lore in a Minute retelling the history of Mega Man, I’ve had the Blue Bomber on my mind lately. So, what better time to showcase some music from one of the biggest game series–in fact, the biggest–of all time? I’ve already extolled the virtues of Magnet Man’s theme in VGH Episode 8, so I’ll spare you this time. (Although really, you should go listen to it anyway.) But, I’ll still kick things off with some Mega Man III.


October 14, 2011

Extra Life Gaming Marathon for Charity 2011

It’s almost time for the annual Extra Life gaming marathon for charity, where gamers around the country team up to play for 24 hours straight to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since 2008, Extra Life has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for these hospitals, all thanks to the generosity of gamers like you.

Unfortunately, because of some last-minute scheduling conflicts, Video Game Hangover won’t be able to participate in this year’s marathon. If you’ve already joined Team VGH or were planning to support us, we’d like to recommend you redirect your support to Jeromy Adams, captain of Team Sarcastic Gamer and one of the founders of Extra Life.

We regret that we won’t be able to stay up all night playing games, but we hope that you’ll still be a part of this amazing opportunity for gamers to help children in need by doing something they love.

October 11, 2011

Play More Games: Another Glorious Day in the Corps

I want to introduce you to a personal friend of mine.

There’s been disappointingly little buzz about Aliens: Infestation, so I’m making it my responsibility to tell you about it. First of all, this isn’t Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox Software’s console FPS that’s due out sometime next year. Infestation is a 2D, sidescrolling shooter that drops you and a squad of marines back onto xenomorph-infested planet LV-426 to rescue fellow soldiers, who will live or die based on your split-second decisions. You’ll wield classic weapons like flamethrowers, smart guns, and, of course, the M41A pulse rifle, and maybe even drive a power loader or two. Developer WayForward is the studio that brought us the excellent Contra 4 and, more recently, BloodRayne: Betrayal, although Infestation looks a bit more Metroidvania than the all-out action of the former two games. However it ends up playing, I am firmly on the ready line.


October 5, 2011

Live on the laser’s edge in Cubixx HD

Cubixx HD

Several weeks ago, I had never even heard of Cubixx HD, only learning of it a few days before its release on the PlayStation Network. Things have changed since then. I’m now all too familiar with it: When I close my eyes, I can see its neon-lit, geometric enemies patrolling the six-sided playing field. I can still feel the controller in my hands as I guide my cutting laser across one of the cube’s surfaces. And, most of all, I can hear the electronic KA-CLANG that announces I’ve died and it’s time to try again. There’s a good chance that if you spend any time with Cubixx HD, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation. But let’s go back a bit first. (more…)

October 4, 2011

Play More Games: The One and Only Punch of a Stupendous Badass


So this week I was getting ready to be all, ooh, Dark Souls. Oooooh, Rage, etc., etc. And then Sony went and announced their new “Only on PSN” initiative yesterday, through which they’ll launch one or two exclusive games every week in October, including recently announced, Pub-Fund-backed games, Eufloria and Okabu.

But wait, there’s more! Not content with releasing seven PSN exclusives over the next four weeks, they also casually mentioned that they’re kicking off the month by pulling a handful of classics out of the PlayStation 2′s back catalog and putting them up for sale on the PSN. That’s right–PlayStation 2 games on the PS3! Cue the floodgates of gamers begging for re-releases of their favorite discs, or the cynics saying that this was Sony’s plan all along when they phased out backwards compatibility. Personally, I’m happy to see Sony making this surprisingly tasteful lineup of obscure games available to a new generation of gamers.

So what PlayStation 2 games will you be playing in October of 2011?

First, my personal favorite: God Hand, the outrageous 3D brawler from now-shuttered Clover Studio that’s famous for its litany of martial arts moves, an insane sense of humor as only Japan can deliver (absolutely don’t miss the trailer), and for having no illusions that it’s “ball-bustingly hard.” Here’s what I had to say about it back in 2006:

God Hand is the greatest baseball batting, face stomping, button mashing, uppercutting, crotch kicking, drunken boxing, rocket launching, kick-me signing, arm chopping, gay bashing[1], barrel rolling, demon spawning, haymaking, clown crushing, wall clipping, poker playing, repeatedly continuing, mach speed pummeling, woman spanking, mighty morphing, Devo singing, massive damaging, chihuahua racing, Clover closing, double-or-nothing, surf rocking, gorilla suplexing game I’ve played this year. STRONGLY ENDORSE.


Five years later, I still strongly recommend you show your support for God Hand. Maybe Capcom will listen up and put Gene into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Arcade Edition.


September 26, 2011

Contest: Win the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection!

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection

We’ve mentioned on the show how excited we are that two of our favorite games, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, are getting rereleased in gorgeous HD (and with a stable framerate!) on the PlayStation 3. We’re equally excited to give one lucky listener the chance to experience these games themselves by giving away a copy of this brand new collection, which is finally out this week!

There are two ways to enter to win. The first is easy: Just follow us on Twitter and retweet this message:

RT and follow @vghangover for a chance to win the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection for PS3! http://j.mp/qxaijM #vghangover

By doing this, you’ll receive one entry into the contest. Tune into this Thursday’s episode, VGH #24, to find out another way to enter and increase your chances of winning!

The contest will run until Monday, October 3rd at 3 PM Eastern, and we’ll randomly choose a winner around 5 PM. Make sure you’re following us and include the #vghangover tag in your tweet so we can find your contest entry!

One final note: this contest is only open to those with a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.

Good luck to all who enter!

September 16, 2011

BGM Mode: Round One… FIGHT!

muh huh huh

Between fruitlessly trying to teach myself how to play Street Fighter III and following the Soulcalibur V and Street Fighter X Tekken news coming out of TGS, I’ve had fighting games on the brain lately. And, somewhat inspired by Capcom’s surprise announcement that they’ll be releasing past Street Fighter soundtracks to use in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online, I thought it would be a good time to serve up a selection of my favorite fighting game themes. Following Paul’s lead from our last installment, let’s kick it off with one of the great classics:

“Ryu Stage” – Yoko Shimomura (Street Fighter II)

At the height of their popularity in the 90s, fighting game characters would each have their own unique stage, and along with it, their own theme song that represented their background and personality. If you’re an arcade veteran, hearing any of those themes is sure to drum up powerful emotions on both ends of the spectrum—whether it’s because you spent hours perfecting moves with your first “main,” or because you had to hear the song endlessly since it belonged to that one rival that always shut you down. No matter which way you think of him, Street Fighter’s Ryu has one of the most memorable themes of any fighter, from the adrenaline-pumping bassline to the synth melody that’s always sounded strangely wistful to me—perfect for Ryu’s melodramatic, neverending search for new battles.

“São Paulo” – Hideki Okugawa/Yuki Iwai (Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact)

All the arcades I’ve been to seemed to only have either Street Fighter III: New Generation or 3rd Strike, so I’ve never actually played 2nd Impact, the middle game in the trilogy. But, that hasn’t stopped me from logging some serious hours with the soundtrack, which originally got my attention because it was so weird—a blend of jazz, drum and bass, and even some Brazilian samba. It’s definitely not your typical fighting game music. This track comes from Sean’s stage in Brazil, and a variation of it plays during the bonus stage when he helps you practice parrying.

“Stormy Saxophone 2″ – SNK Sound Team (The King of Fighters ’96)

The King of Fighters '96 – Arashi no Saxophone #2 (Iori Yagami Team)

SNK was dropping jazz influence into its King of Fighters soundtracks long before Street Fighter III got the idea. This is probably the most memorable song to me out of the series’s nearly 20-year run. It’s Iori’s theme, and I always like to imagine it’s actually him playing the saxophone. It seems like kind of an antiheroic thing to do on his days off.

“Vanity Paradise” – Takayuki Iwai (Vampire Savior)

Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3 Music: Vanity Paradise (Hsien-Ko/Lei-Lei Stage)

This one’s just silly, but I still love it. The third entry in the Darkstalkers/Vampire series went full-on dance/electronica for most of its soundtrack, so it’s just natural that Hsien-ko, the Chinese ghost, would have this Asianized dance track playing in her idyllic garden stage.

“Keep Yourself Alive II” – Daisuke Ishiwatari (Guilty Gear XX)

Gratuitous Queen reference! From the inimitable Daisuke Ishiwatari, who basically made Guilty Gear all by himself.

“Wings of Despair” – Keiki Kobayashi (Soulcalibur III)

Wings of Despair- Soul Calibur III OST

“Twilight Dwellers” – Keiki Kobayashi (Soulcalibur IV)

SCIV Twilight Dwellers 14

It’s always fun to hear a different take on a favorite song—it might be a cover that casts it in a completely different light, or it could just do enough things differently to give you new appreciation of the original. In this case, Keiki Kobayashi took one of Soulcalibur III‘s songs—a solid track, although admittedly not one of my favorites at the time—and reworked it for the sequel. The result comes off as more majestic and less frantic, with a deliberate, dramatic opening that gives way to an anthemic rendition of the original. It’s an excellent accompaniment to the stage itself, which has you dueling on a raft traveling down a castle’s moonlit moat.

“M. Bison Stage” – Yuzo Koshiro (Street Fighter Tribute Album)

And speaking of alternate versions, I’ll wrap up with one of the best. This is Balrog’s (M. Bison in Japan) stage, remixed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro for this album made to celebrate Street Fighter’s 15 anniversary. To me, Yuzo Koshiro is synonymous with ActRaiser‘s orchestral soundtrack, so it always puts a huge grin on my face knowing that he’s capable of something like this.

What’s your song of choice to have playing as you land that sneaky surprise attack at the start of the round? Let us know in the comments!

September 15, 2011

Contest: Win Universe Sandbox!

Universe Sandbox

In the mood to play something besides the shooter-of-the-week? Universe Sandbox, the offbeat game-slash-astronomer’s-playground is just what you need. Listen to our impressions in Episode 22 and then hurry back because we’re giving away a copy of the complete version on Steam!

All you have to do to enter is follow us on Twitter and retweet this message:

RT and follow @vghangover for a chance to win Universe Sandbox on Steam! http://j.mp/oRjtUA #vghangover

The contest will run until Monday, September 19th at 3 PM Eastern, and we’ll randomly choose a winner around 5 PM. Make sure you’re following us and include the #vghangover tag in your tweet so we can find your contest entry!

Many thanks to creator Dan Dixon for sharing the game with us and making this possible!

Good luck to all who enter!

September 14, 2011

Play More Games: Addendum

September 13, 2011

Play More Games: WAR TEAM

Renegade Ops

Believe it or not, this is the slowest week in September for new releases. What are we looking forward to amongst this agonizingly bleak crop of games?

Despite the painfully generic name, my most anticipated game of the week is Renegade Ops (PSN, XBLA). This is a top-down, vehicular combat game by Avalanche, the studio who brought us last year’s amazing Just Cause 2. (#2 in my top games of last year!) If you’ve played Just Cause 2, you know what to expect: crazy stunts, perilous chases, and explosions everywhere. Rico and his magic grappling hook are sitting this one out, but in exchange, there’s online co-op for up to four people. Since co-op was something each of us at VGH would have loved to see in Just Cause 2, I’m eager to see how well Avalanche pulls it off.

Next is Hard Reset, which has created some early buzz, not for being a first-person shooter, but for being PC-exclusive and single-player only. Developer Flying Wild Hog promises Hard Reset will be more of a throwback to classic PC shooters like Doom, which tried less to capture the action of Hollywood blockbusters a la Call of Duty and instead featured larger, more intricate levels that encouraged more exploration. Also giving me a huge nostalgia rush back to my days of playing Doom, Heretic and Dark Forces: the crazy weapons on display. Did someone say “arc welder“?

Also out this week:

Bit.Trip Saga – Finally, a collection of all six of Gaijin Games’ quirky Bit.Trip games, now for the 3DS! This is actually one of the first 3DS games I’ve really been interested in, although I’m still holding out for Super Mario 3D Land. If you haven’t got a 3DS, you can pick up the Wii version of the collection, Bit.Trip Complete. Watch the game in action here.

White Knight Chronicles II – I really, really wanted to like the first WKC, but its battle system and generally slow pacing just didn’t agree with me. Developer Level-5 says they’ve tweaked the battles in the sequel with new mechanics and a larger party. Should I take another look or just continue playing Monster Hunter?

The Gunstringer – An undead, old West shooter (Come on, another one?) where your you control your zombified outlaw by tugging on his marionette strings. You have to give credit to developer Twisted Pixel for taking one of the complaints about Kinect (the somewhat laggy and floaty motion control) and spinning it into a feature. (And it comes with free Fruit Ninja Kinect!)

God of War: Origins – If you missed out on Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta because you don’t have a PSP, now you can play them on the big screen thanks to this PS3 HD collection.

From Dust – Eric Chahi’s world-building/destroying game has completed its tour on XBLA and is now headed straight to PSN! It’s also been out on the PC for a few weeks, if you prefer.

Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness – Capcom rereleases one of its classic 2D figters as a PSOne Classic this week. Watch robots fight it out in the game that introduced characters like Jin Saotome and Devilot, who went on to future fame in games like Marvel VS Capcom and Puzzle Fighter. BLODIA!

NHL 12 – I think this one’s about hockey.

Are you grabbing anything this week, or are you still holding out for when all the big guns open fire next month? Speaking of big guns, will I see you online in Renegade Ops?? (On PS3, of course.) Let us know in the comments!

For a full list of this week’s new releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

September 7, 2011

Play More Games: BloodRayne, Seriously

BloodRayne: Betrayal

It may still be unseasonally warm out, but you only need one glance at this month’s release lineup to see that Fall is officially here. As we talked about in Episode 18, the next few months are packed with tons of new games and we’re scrambling to even talk about all of them, let alone play them! With that in mind, here’s the first of several Lightning Round editions of Play More Games where I’ll spotlight a game or two we think are significant and then do a quick run through of the rest so you can hurry up and get back to your couch.

This week’s featured game, astonishingly enough, is not just download-only, it’s also a BloodRayne title. Yes, you read that right. BloodRayne: Betrayal is a dramatic departure for the vampire actioner whose two previous-generation outings were met with general apathy. (And let’s not mention the Uwe Boll film.) Abandoning its 3D roots, Betrayal is a 2D action platformer in the style of Castlevania or Strider. As the half-human, half-vampire Rayne, you unleash all kinds of bloody violence upon your enemies in a combat system that I was surprised to discover requires more attention and technique than I was expecting. It all made sense when I saw the game was developed by WayForward, creators of the excellent–albeit somewhat sadistic–Contra 4. While BloodRayne is much more forgiving (especially with its blood-sucking mechanic), don’t expect to just waltz through it Bela Lugosi-style. It’s also got some stylish, 2D sprite graphics and a soundtrack that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Castlevania game. If you’re still not intrigued, check out the demo on PSN or Xbox Live Arcade, or watch the trailer that originally shocked us that we were suddenly looking forward to a BloodRayne game.

Other games out this week:

Resistance 3 – The latest installment of Insomniac’s alt-history World War II FPS is getting a surprising amount of early praise, but is it special enough to weather the imminent shooter storm of Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, and Modern Warfare 3? At the very least, Olly Moss’s incredible box art will look fantastic on your shelf.

Dead Island – The buzz around this open world, zombie survival game seems to have been steadily declining as people discovered the actual game doesn’t quite live up to the poignancy of its much-discussed debut trailer. Also, early reports are saying that–in addition to all the zombies–the game’s tropical island setting is infested with glitches and questionable game mechanics.

Starfox 64 3D – Following the success of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo’s counting on another N64 revival with this 3D space dogfighter. Admittedly, I never played much of the N64 original so I’m looking forward to spending time with this, although the lack of online multiplayer means I’m not exactly rushing out to get it.

The Impossible Game – The silly iOS/Android diversion comes to your PSP this week! It’s actually a lot of fun if you’re into games that are equal parts twitchy reflexes, level memorization, and constant dying. No, really. I enjoyed it.

Uncharted 1 & 2 Dual Pack – Still haven’t played either of the Uncharted games? Better pick up this compilation before Randy shows up at your door to have a word with you. There’s still plenty of time to get caught up with Nathan Drake before Uncharted 3 hits in November!

And that’s it for week one of the Fall onslaught! Are you picking up any of these (or maybe a game we didn’t even cover?) or are you saving up for the next few months? Let us know in the comments!

For a full list of this week’s releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

August 9, 2011

Play More Games: “KSHING!”

Fruit Ninja Kinect

There’s only one notable release this week, but oh, is it a big one: Halfbrick‘s runaway mobile success, Fruit Ninja, is finally out for Xbox 360 and Kinect. No longer confined to your phone or tablet’s tiny screen, Fruit Ninja is now super-sized and ready for your living room.

It sounds like a pretty straightforward port of the mobile game, which is interesting since most of the original gameplay modes last about a minute or two on average. I don’t think my longest Fruit Ninja session could have lasted more than 10–and that was at the height of my addiction, and on a platform that didn’t require me to flail my arms around wildly.

I did get to try the multiplayer mode for the first time recently, and it was a surprisingly tense affair. After hearing that Fruit Ninja Kinect supports two players on the same screen, my reactions were, in order: That is awesome, and almost immediately after, Just how many injuries per minute can you expect when you have two people standing side-by-side and swiping their arms at anything that moves? I might pick this up just to watch people play it… from a safe distance, of course.

That’s if I had a Kinect, obviously. I have to admit that this is among the accessory’s most compelling offerings, alongside Child of Eden, but I’m still waiting to truly be convinced.

Have you got a Kinect and are taking the 800 Microsoft point plunge this week to chop some virtual fruit? Let us know in the comments!

If you dare brave the rest of this week’s new releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

July 19, 2011

Play More Games: “Summer of Candygun”

The King of Limbo

I hope you’ve cleared your schedule: Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade kicks off this week, and, as if in response, there’s plenty of new games out on the PlayStation Network as well. And this is just week one! Get ready for the palest, most shut-in summer ever!

Leading the Summer of Arcade charge is Supergiant Games’ Bastion, a 2D action game that’s fully narrated by what sounds like Morgan Freeman’s stand-in. The narration is definitely the most discussed aspect of the game, and I’m curious to see what it adds to the final experience.

Randy and I have talked about how much we enjoyed Limbo last year, and now PlayStation owners can finally try out this monochromatic and very macabre puzzle-platformer. If you enjoyed Braid and don’t mind the occasional enormous spider or surprise spike trap, then Limbo is highly worth a look.

SNK reminds everyone that it hasn’t forgotten about its Neo Geo Station initiative by adding a couple more games to the lineup. This week, it’s Baseball Stars 2 and The King of Fighters ’95, in both PS3 and PSP flavors. I have to confess I don’t know much about Baseball Stars, but KOF95 was a landmark entry for the long-running series as it allowed players to create their own, custom teams for the first time. It also marked the debut of Iori Yagami, a now-iconic character who’s almost synonymous with the KOF name. While it’s a little frustrating that SNK seems to be taking their time rereleasing their huge back catalog of games (even more painful when they sport a yearly label), if you’re in need of a 2D fighting fix or missed the whole KOF phenomenon, ’95 isn’t a bad place to start.

Dead Block kind of snuck up out of nowhere, but after watching the trailer they’ve put together I can say it’s definitely unique. Yes, it’s yet another zombie game, but this time you’re holed up in a building and have to setup doorway traps for the slow-moving zombies as they shamble from room to room. It’s sort of like tower defense, but not quite. Developer Candygun–which is an incredible name, by the way–has packed their strange sense of humor into every corner of the game, as when you’re not planting cardboard box masks on zombies’ heads, you’re killing them with the power of classic rock and roll. This is a strange one, for sure.

Finally, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions comes to PSN today. A cleaned-up version of one of my absolute favorite games, FFT has been out on UMD for some time, but now PSP Go owners (or just PSP owners who like to go the digital route) can grab a copy without leaving their couch. It’s got the same classic, tactical RPG gameplay that made the 1997 original so addictive, plus a brilliant reworking of Yasumi Matsuno’s twisting storyline about clashing armies and the lengths to which people go for power. If you have a PSP and haven’t played this update (or the original), please, please, please check it out.

Is that enough games to keep you inside this week? Let us know what you’ll be playing in the comments!

For a full list of this week’s new releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

July 15, 2011

Gamecenter: A new arcade draws near!

As you may have learned from Episode #13: The Nuclear Option, the arcade scene in the Bay Area is fighting hard to come back. Last week, I checked out Gamecenter in San Mateo, a brand new (opened last month!) arcade in downtown San Mateo. The owner, Myung Kim, is a former game developer who was inspired by the thriving Japanese arcade scene and hopes to bring some of that enthusiasm and sense of community to America.

So far, I’d say he’s doing a great job: When I dropped in, I found a huge, cheering crowd huddled around a row of fighting games, while the other end of the arcade was packed due to a Super Smash Bros. tournament in progress. There was even a guy attempting to teach his female friend the intricacies of giant robot-on-robot combat, for better or for worse. (Think what you will–you’ve got to give him points for enthusiasm.) All this was happening on a Sunday afternoon, which is hardly peak hours. I can’t wait to see it on a Thursday or Friday evening, which is when I’m told the biggest crowds show up.

If you’re in the San Mateo area, stop by Gamecenter and show your support! You might even learn a thing or two. They’re open Wednesday through Monday, from 3PM to midnight. For location and more info, visit their website and watch their Facebook page for up to the minute news on special events–like Super Street Fighter IV and Marvel VS Capcom 3 weeklies starting this weekend! You can also follow them on Twitter at @GCArcade.

Check out the gallery below for some photos! (Click to enlarge.)

Gamecenter - entrance

Since they’re a bit nestled into an alley, they’ve put up a helpful sign right on the street to help you find the place. Also, thai food.

Gamecenter - SSF4AE, GvGN

I was greeted by Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (posing as Tekken 6) and four linked cabinets of Japanese sensation Gundam VS Gundam NEXT. It’s not well-known in the States, but I hear the competition at Gamecenter can get downright fierce.

Gamecenter - PS3 cabinets

Six back-to-back, custom PS3 cabinets running Super Street Fighter IV AE, Marvel VS Capcom 3, Tekken 6, BlazBlue Continuum Shift II, and Arcana Heart 3. You need to buy a $7 wristband to play these, but that means unlimited play time until they close. I’ll say it again: unlimited play.

Gamecenter - 3rd Strike/Virtua Cop 3

Fighting games not so much your thing? There’s a row of other games to hold your attention, and they’re no slouches: Next to the requisite Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (admittedly, a fighting game), there’s the criminally underrated Virtua Cop 3. Not pictured: Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, Espgaluda II, Magical Drop III, and a cocktail cabinet playing classic games like Centipede.

Gamecenter - Ikaruga

Oh, and Ikaruga. My old nemesis, we meet again.

Gamecenter - games for rent

There’s an array of TVs at one side of the arcade where you can hook up consoles to play on. They’ll even rent you a Japanese Xbox 360 so you can try out some of the imports they have on hand.

Gamecenter - Neo Geo games

(I won’t say anything here so you can just drool over this exceptional Neo Geo library.)

Gamecenter - memorabilia

Various pieces of gaming memorabilia.

Gamecenter - Smash Bros. tournament

Gamers preparing for the Smash tournament. You can tell these guys were serious because they were all playing Melee and their characters looked like they were constantly having seizures.

Location Test is a recurring report on real- and not-so-real-world locations of interest. Visit the archive for more.

July 12, 2011

Play More Games: “My Head Explod”


It’s a pretty light week for new releases, but at least one of these is guaranteed to keep you glued to your controller so badly, you might gnaw off your own thumbs to escape.

That game, of course, is the sequel to Twisted Pixel’s ‘Splosion Man: Ms. ‘Splosion Man, naturally. The basic gameplay premise is the same: press A to explode–excuse me, ‘splode–yourself into the air, off walls, and through pesky scientists as you navigate a slew of platform-based puzzles. Early reports describe this as being a more refined game (Does that even makes sense when your sole action is to detonate yourself?) with better boss battles, an overworld map, and the much-hyped “2 Girls, 1 Controller” mode, where each analog stick controls a separate Ms. ‘Splosion Man. Commence the thumb gnawing.

Ms. ‘Splosion Man is out this Wednesday, exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade, for 800 Microsoft Points. Or, if you refuse to own an Xbox because of your Apple fanaticism, you can look forward to the inevitable iPhone knockoff sometime next year.

This week’s other big release is the meticulously timed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), releasing for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC, N64, Colecovision, Fisher Price See and Say, etc. A reliable source told me that our own Paul Sandhu is already camped out in line for it, even though someone already spoiled the ending for him. Even if you’re not a die-hard Potter fan, if you own a PS3, you might want to pick up a copy anyway since it supports the PlayStation Move and you can pretend that you’re playing that Sorcery game that they showed off at E3 2010. Remember when they were making that game?

Anyway. Motion-controlled wizardry or endless explosions. Take your pick.

For a full list of this week’s new releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

July 5, 2011

Play More Games: “Gotcha!”

Earth Defense Force: Monkey Armageddon

I did my share of defending America’s (and Earth’s!) independence from giant insect overlords this weekend, but it turns out that was only the first wave. This week’s new releases challenges you to fight against a new group of threats, whether they be human, alien, or… simian?

The evil Ravager aliens return in D3′s Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. The sequel to the 360-exclusive Earth Defense Force 2017, Insect Armageddon finally brings the thrill of shooting swarms of 20-foot-tall ants to the PlayStation 3. That’s pretty much all there is to it: Expect to mow down wave after wave of giant ants, spiders, and robots (obviously) with an ever-increasing arsenal of weapons. It sounds shallow, but the original game was addictive and more fun than it had the right to be, possibly due to it feeling like being right in the middle of an awful SyFy channel movie, right down to the unintentionally hilarious dialogue. Insect Armageddon also adds much-needed online co-op for up to three players, so you won’t have to confront your arachnophobia alone.

If you’re looking for something a little more family-friendly, you might want to take a look at the new Ape Escape game for the PlayStation Move, suitably titled PlayStation Move Ape Escape. This PSN game comes with a handful of levels and a selection of motion-controlled tools to help you round up those pesky, belightbulbed monkeys that have been running rampant since the 1960s. The gameplay is simple and straightforward, but it’s actually kind of fun and it looks great. Also, I think those cartoon monkeys are kind of hilarious. There’s a demo in the PlayStation Store if you want to test your ape-catching skills first.

Lastly, in case you missed our Twitter giveaway last week, the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception multiplayer beta is now available to all PlayStation 3 owners. It’s basically the same multiplayer formula that Naughty Dog put together for Uncharted 2, but they’ve added a cool buddy system and some new abilities that add a few more layers of depth to the gameplay, which was already pretty brilliant to begin with. Once you’ve downloaded it, be sure to check back regularly since they’re rotating through different maps and game modes for the duration of the beta.

Have you already had a chance to try the Uncharted beta? Let us know what you think in the comments!

For a full list of this week’s releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

July 1, 2011

Location Test: Southtown Arcade

If you’ve listened to Episode #11: Cartoon Animal Abuse, you’ll remember I talked about Southtown Arcade in San Francisco. Here are a few photos I took in case you were wondering what it looks like when you start up a brand new arcade! (Click for larger versions.)

Southtown Arcade - entrance

The entrance is unassuming. From across the street, you’d have no idea it’s filled with a horde of people beating the crap out of each other. (Virtually, of course.)

Southtown Arcade - inside

The inside. It’s a small space, but they’ve packed it wall-to-wall with Japanese-style arcade cabinets. (There’s another row of cabinets along the opposite wall which you can’t see.) Spectators observe players’ fighting skills while eagerly awaiting their turn. Get your quarter up!

Marvel VS Capcom 3

Two fighters go at it in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Since MvC3 doesn’t have an official arcade version, this is actually a custom cabinet running the PlayStation 3 version. (Don’t worry, it’s got a traditional stick and buttons instead of a couple DualShocks.)

The King of Fighters XIII

The hand-drawn sprites of The King of Fighters XIII look incredible on this screen. This player opted to test out his moves with a few sessions of training mode.

SVC Chaos poster

The Southtown guys prove they’re running a classy joint with this gorgeous poster of Shinkiro’s art from SVC Chaos. (Then they prove they’re true fighting game purists by not featuring an actual SVC Chaos machine.) A few more posters of fighting game art adorn the walls.

If you’re in or around San Francisco and you have even the slightest interest in arcade games, definitely check out Southtown Arcade! It’s easy to get advice from some of the players there if you’re a beginner, and if you’re not fighting-game-inclined, there are some other standbys like Metal Slug, Windjammers (a personal favorite), and the super-hardcore Tetris: The Grand Master 3: Terror Instinct. (Yes, that’s the real name.) They’ve also recently added Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion, so you can get your Phoenix Smasher on.

Check out southtownarcade.com or follow them on Twitter for a full game list, hours, and tournament schedules!

June 21, 2011

Play More Games: “Party like It’s 1998″

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

It seems like the dry spell may be coming to an end for 3DS owners. We recently saw the opening of the 3DS eShop and its surprisingly tasteful selection of classic Gameboy games, and this week, the handheld is getting its first, definite must-have title in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Nintendo’s given Link’s classic N64 adventure some much-needed, modern visuals and what’s being called the best use of 3D yet. There’s also a convenient touchscreen menu interface (sure to come in handy for any submerged temples you come across) and a second quest that should give veterans something to do even if they’ve already memorized the original game. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve played Zelda 64, so I am officially interested. That’s +1 game I’d like to play on the 3DS.

Shadows of the Damned is decidedly different. It’s a third-person action game and a collaboration between Resident Evil‘s Shinji Mikami and the always-eyebrow-raising Suda 51. You can definitely see both developers’ influence as the game plays a bit like a new-school Resident Evil with a completely insane sense of humor, although both the action and characters feel pretty stale. For instance, the main character is yet another rugged, Hispanic man who constantly scowls and calls the bad guys cabrones. Is there a single person left who thinks this archetype is novel, let alone amusing? I have to give them credit for the neon-lit, Día de los Muertos-esque take on Hell, but I’ll probably pass on the game. I am totally itching to hear the soundtrack, though, which was provided by Silent Hill‘s Akira Yamaoka.

Finally, F.3.A.R. is out this week. I think I’ve mistakenly included it in a couple past Play More Games, only to find that it suffered yet another last-minute delay. I’m pretty sure you can actually buy it now. I’m 99% certain. Call ahead just in case.

For a full list of games out this week, visit Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

June 14, 2011

Play More Games: “Vaporize”

Final Fantasy VII Reunion HD

Long have gamers waited for this day. When Final Fantasy VII first arrived on Western shores in 1997, few could have foreseen the extent to which it would change the gaming landscape. It turned an entire generation onto JRPGs starring spiky-haired heroes and started Square Enix (back then, simply “Square”) down the path to becoming a global superpublisher. Yet even after countless sequels and spinoffs, many of the series’s fans would argue that nothing has come close to recapturing the magic they experienced when they played Final Fantasy VII for the first time. For years, the fans pleaded with Square Enix for a remake.

Now, in 2011, they’ve delivered: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion HD is finally available for the PlayStation 3 after years in development. Similar to the PS3 tech demo first shown on the back in 2005, Reunion HD reunites players with Cloud Strife and the world of Final Fantasy VII, this time with the same imaginative environments rendered in real-time in 1080p and Nobuo Uematsu’s classic score, reorchestrated and presented in 7.1 surround. You’re also sure to run into all your favorite characters (and maybe a few new ones) along the way.

Half-Life 2: Episode Three

Before the release of Half-Life in 1998, people saw FPS games like Quake and that other game as a venue for shooting their friends. Now it’s impossible to read about a new FPS without hearing about the unprecedented levels of immersion, the advanced enemy AI, and the enthralling storyline. With each new Half-Life game, developer Valve has managed to push the boundaries of first-person shooters a little farther, and the results have been unequivocably brilliant.

This week’s Half-Life 2: Episode Three is no different. (SPOILER WARNING) While it’s already been leaked that the game jumps ahead a bit and begins with Gordon Freeman and company already struggling over what to do with the experiment from the recovered Borealis vessel, where the story goes from there is anyone’s guess. Expect to see other players’ influence on your own trip through the campaign thanks to Valve’s new “enhanced singleplayer” philosophy, and keep an eye out for a surprise cameo from a popular Portal character. (No, it’s not who you think. No, not her, either.) Episode Three is available now in stores and, of course, via Steam.

Duke Nukem Forever

Originally announced back in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever promised to be a wise-cracking, alien-blasting follow-up to the surprise hit, Duke Nukem 3D. During its comically long stint in development, we’ve seen entire series like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty rise up and conquer the industry. Gearbox Software, the developer who rescued the game from the husk of 3D Realms, is betting that Duke still has what it takes to win over a generation of gamers who probably never even played Duke 3D.

Early reviews paint a grim picture of a clunky first-person shooter that’s been muddled thanks to a decade of redesigns and developer departures, but let’s be realistic: There’s little chance any game could survive 14 years in development and come out intact, let alone live up to its hyperbolic expectations. Any well-informed gamer starting up DNF has hopefully tempered theirs and will understand what they’re getting: an artifact of a bygone era of gaming that’s been dragged into a new one via a near endless chain of questionable decisions. It’s here more as a formality—for our observation and for closure instead for entertainment—but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s finally here.

Yes, Duke Nukem Forever is out today.

For more real games that game out this week, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.