Editor’s note: Randy had a really great Professor Layton-based idea for our weekend post, but I had trouble with fleshing it out. Instead, I wasted close to an hour creating that abomination you see above (it’ll make a little more sense when you finish reading the post).
There’s a distinct chill in the air, Halloween is getting closer, and we’re ankles deep in the fall game release onslaught. What’s everyone playing this weekend (when not carving pumpkins or sipping on hot apple cider)?
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.
Level Up! RPG-like progression systems are creeping their way into all sorts of games these days. This week, the VGH Crew weigh in on the growing trend. Plus: D.J.’s playing Bastion, Randy’s had RAGE all along, and Paul’s putting on his Heisenberg hat.
As part of Sony’s marketing push for the upcoming release of Uncharted 3, a couple of interesting promotional items are being offered to fans – namely, replicas of Drake’s journal and wrist cuff. If you live in one of the handful of cities where the AMC / Uncharted 3 theater events are taking place and you attended one of them, you should have received the pair in your gift bag, along with a few other goodies. If you want to try your luck, they’re also being offered together as a level-2 prize in the Subway “Taste for Adventure” contest. With the release of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception quickly approaching (and because I just received them last night at the Dallas AMC event), I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at them to find out if they’re remarkable replicas or terrible tchotchkes.
Editor’s note: Xenoblade Chronicles is not currently available in North America at the time of this writing. Paul’s review is based on an imported copy of the game.
Guys, this is a tough review for me to write. If you’ve listened to VGH #20, then you heard me gushing over how incredible Xenoblade is. As a fan of the genre I was absolutely floored that a developer could release a modern day JRPG that dismissed the conventions of yesteryear while also updating its gameplay mechanics to be more in line with the modern day gamer’s tastes. Why did it take me so long to write the review? Xenoblade is absolutely MASSIVE. I wanted to write this review when I was a “paltry” 50 hours into the game, since I figured I’ve nothing more to see and I had a pretty firm grasp on what the rest of the game was going to be like. D.J. was awesome enough to suggest that I complete the game before reviewing it, so I took his advice to heart. When all was said and done, it took me roughly 75 hours to complete.
Word on the Internet is that is that Xenoblade is the best JRPG to come out in a decade. It’s the savior of the genre. On Metacritic, It’s the 6th highest rated game in Wii history with a 93 overall, eclipsed only by the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and other Nintendo staples.
For a while there, I thought that I was going to feel the exact same way as majority of people that have played Xenoblade. But if you need a sound bite that sums everything up nicely, Xenoblade Chronicles is a masterpiece that never was. Just a fair warning folks, Xenoblade is a massive game, and even without delving into everything I want to talk about, this review is going to run a little longer than our usual fare.
This is it! The “other” of my most anticipated releases of the year comes out this week (P.S. Witcher 2). Excuse me whilst I gather myself off the floor. Yep, I’m a huge Batman fanboy, and I make no bones about it. Way back in 2009, Rocksteady completely redefined what a superhero video game could be with their incredible Arkham Asylum. Lauded for it’s perfect mix of stealth, hand to hand combat and adventure style game play, Arkham Asylum pulled off what we thought was impossible. They created a game where the player WAS Batman, and they did it while staying true to the 72 year history of a character that I consider to be the single greatest modern day mythological hero. The sheer weight of this history would be enough to crush most developers, but Rocksteady did an amazing job of paying homage to some of the more popular Batman mythos while crafting their own original take on the character.
My personal favourite version of Batman is from Batman: The Animated Series, so it brought me great joy when I learned that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill would be lending their amazing voice talents to this series. Even though the final battle in Arkham City was probably it’s greatest flaw, there was just something magical about hearing Conroy say “I’ll never let you win….. NEVER.” at the conclusion of that fight. Conroy is Batman, and Mark Hamill is every bit his equal as the Joker. It is unfortunate that Arleen Sorkin will not be reprising her role as Harley Quinn in Arkham City, but I’ve full confidence in the voice talents of Tara Strong (FFX) as a replacement. Other notables in the cast include Stana Katic (Castle), Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) and Nolan North (every video game in existence).
Rocksteady is on the record saying that the Arkham City game world is approximately five times the size of that in Asylum. Gone is the hyper linear world of Asylum, replaced with an open world environment that you’ll get to explore and punch faces in. From what I’ve seen, Rocksteady has found some really creative ways to make sure that the narrative does not suffer at the hands of this new game play style. Arkham City looks to just take everything that made Asylum so incredible and just give you more of it, with a sprinkling of freedom!!!
Look, this game is going to be bloody fantastic. I want to review it for VGH, so I need to go. My copy just arrived.
Costume Quest (PC) – Note: Matt wanted me to mention that even though this was a game that was released in the previous week, because he loved it so much he just wanted to make sure it got a little extra attention. For his thoughts, please check out this post! Also a special thanks for Matt’s help with this week’s Play More Games.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Missing Link DLC (PS3, 360, PC) – Eidos, or is it Square? Decided it would be a great idea to release some DLC for their 2 month old game right when the fall release crescendo begins. What a shame. Even though I want to play the DLC, just how am I (or any other gamer) going to justify going back to Deus Ex now? I absolutely loved Deus Ex, but this is just really, really bad timing for what I assume will be a couple of hours of game play. I’ll definitely have to check this DLC out when things settle down, like sometime in 2037 perhaps.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3) – Apparently Ratchet & Clank is one of those incredible series that I’ve completely missed out on. Randy is a huge fan though so this’ll probably be on his hit list. Any game that has 4 player co-op as the primary focus will instantly grab my attention, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Insomniac Games has in store. Are YOU brave enough to solve the mystery of the Creature Collector? Find out in the next installment of… Ratchet & Clank!
PAYDAY: The Heist (PSN, PC) – You know this game is going to be awesome – why else would they spell it in ALL CAPS? The decision to delay it by a couple of weeks (it was originally due earlier this month) is a little troublesome, but with a premise like “Left 4 Dead minus zombies, plus bank robbing”, it certainly sounds promising. – Matt
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (PS1 Classic, Grab it on PSN) – For some reason whenever I think of Street Fighter Alpha 3, I immediately think of the goofy (and yet absolutely incredible) soundtrack. If you haven’t played SFA3 you need to face it straight and go for broke! Don’t be such a terrible fighter! But in all seriousness I absolutely love this game, definitely check it out if you want to play one of the more loosey goosey Street Fighter games.
Bejeweled 3 (XBLA) – PopCap’s latest edition of their casual hit Bejeweled arrives on Xbox Live Arcade. You’ll eventually own this game on every piece of electronics in your possession, so get started on your collection today.
Okabu (PSN) A PSN game from a developer that used to make iPhone games… should be interesting.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (PC, PS3, 360, 3DS) – I’m not so sure about this “game”. From what little I’ve seen, it looks like a weird combination of a card game and a video game? Can someone shed some light on this for me?
Well, a couple of weeks ago I received my copy of the ICO HD collection and for some reason I though it might be fun to write down very detailed notes of everything that was happening on screen. I don’t even know what compelled me to do this, I suppose I just wanted to conduct an experiment. The introduction to any game is absolutely vital in grabbing your attention. A developer can really set the tone for your entire experience with their game so it’s of the utmost importance to deliver something interesting right off the bat.
In its simplest form, The First 15 will act almost as a “preview” to a title’s review (if we choose to review it of course) but in the larger scale, it might be really interesting to see if there are any similarities between games that succeed at hooking players with their introductions and which games do a less than stellar job at digging its claws into you. Do The First 15 minutes of a game really make or break an experience? Or can a game that stumbles out of the gate turn into a classic? What about games that have incredible introductions but later falter? In any case it’ll be interesting to see what kind of conclusions we can come up with (if any) once we’ve accumulated enough data.
Just a fair warning, since we’ll be jotting notes as we play, some of these posts might read more like a Cole’s notes version of what’s going on in the game but hopefully we can properly convey what we’re feeling and what’s going on as we play. Another warning, if you feel that what happens in The First 15 minutes of a game will constitute a spoiler… well it’ll be “spoiled” for ya.
The First 15 starts immediately after a dream sequence in which Ico is climbing a stair case, it’s thunder storming and when he reaches the top of the stairs, he sees a cage… with a black figure in it. The figure is dripping a black, “tar” like substance. It oozes out of the cage. A black shadow appears on the wall behind Ico and grabs him, and forces him “into” the wall, then Ico wakes up from his nightmare…
One of my favorite Halloween-themed RPGs of last year, Costume Quest, has just been released for PC and you can find it right here on Steam. It’s worth noting that this is the first PC release from Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions in six years.
When I played Costume Quest last year, I was immediately won over by its cartoonish style, its charming wit, and its highly-approachable gameplay. It’s also the only game I’ve ever played that had an Arrested Development reference in it. I’ve never really been a fan of turn-based combat in games, but I found myself surprisingly satisfied by Costume Quest’s simple, straight-forward battles. However, if you’re a long-time RPG player, you may find the game’s mechanics a little too thin for your tastes.
Having said that, some may find the $14.99 asking price a little steep, considering it was released a year ago on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network for that same amount. This PC version does include the Grubbins on Ice DLC, which adds a bit of extra value to the package. I’m sure it’ll inevitably have its price slashed as part of a future Steam sale, but due to the game’s Halloween theme, there’s no better time than now to play it.
What do you think? Is it reasonable to ask full price for a year-old game, even if it’s the first time it’s been made available on a particular platform or should games be offered at a discounted price in these types of situations? If you’ve played Costume Quest, what did you think of it? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you think!
As mentioned in the Last Call section of VGH #25, season 2 of The Walking Dead premieres this weekend on AMC. If you’re not caught up, don’t worry – Season 1 is on Netflix streaming. So, Sunday night is on quarantine, but where does that leave us the rest of the weekend? Allow us to pick your brain – drop a note in the comments and let us know what’s on your gaming agenda this weekend!
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.
How hard is too hard? The recent release of Dark Souls has us talking about insanely difficult games. In The Hangover, we’re shocked to hear which game Randy is actually enjoying. We’ve also got a contest winner, Viewer Mail, and a zombie-fied Last Call.
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.
So it was confirmed today that Mass Effect 3 is going to have a multiplayer component. Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series confirmed via twitter that at the very least we’ll be having co-op multiplayer missions. He didn’t say anymore than that though, I assume it is because any more details would surely break the 140 tweet character limit. True to form, posters on the official Bioware forums have exploded with their typical acerbic attitude (P.S. don’t visit the official Bioware forums unless you want your head to explode.) But honestly, I cannot see the reasoning behind such anger other than maybe being upset at Bioware for being so damned hesitant to confirm the multiplayer rumours over the last couple of months. But even so, people just need to freaking relax. Side note: I like how the release date delay till next year makes a lot more sense now!
The typical fall onslaught of big-budget blockbuster games is nearly upon us, but before we find ourselves entirely engrossed with bat-men, battlefields, and assassins, let’s take a look at a less-weighty title that’s available right now. At first glance, Playstation Network-exclusive Rochard might appear to be just another side-scrolling action game, but once you get into the swing of things, you’ll find an incredibly satisfying mix of platforming, puzzles, physics, and puns, courtesy of Finnish studio Recoil Games. (more…)
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…)
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, 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.
In this week’s show: a new member approaches! The Crew talk about what makes a game “Timeless”, and we chat a little about Gears of War 3, Rusty Hearts and Cubixx HD. Also: Earn more entries for our Ico HD contest!
When I first tried playing Bastion, I wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about. In fact, after I played the demo, I sort of shrugged a little, deleted it, and went about my day. All I had really known about the game prior to its release was that it had a hand-painted look and that it was dynamically narrated. While the demo indeed confirmed that the game featured both of these elements, the relatively brief slice of the game on display didn’t exactly leave me clamoring for more. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed by what was supposed to be one of the marquee titles of Microsoft’s “Summer of Arcade” promotion. I ultimately ended up purchasing the full game after seeing and hearing the overwhelmingly positive reception it had been receiving. Once I began to really dig into it, I found my initial lukewarm feelings were completely turned around. What I had initially thought was just a mediocre hack-and-slash affair turned out to be so excellent that it might just be the best downloadable title of 2011. (more…)
Wow! It has finally arrived. This week’s biggest, NAY… this week’s COLOSSAL release is one our most anticipated releases of the year! But absolutely horrible puns aside, we here at VGH could not be more excited about the release of the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection. In our latest episode which is due to drop (things aren’t released, but dropped now right?) on Thursday, I very briefly talk about how my first go around with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are one of my great gaming shames. I wasn’t in a very good place in my personal life at the and I think it cannot be overstated that our real lives can, and do, have a serious impact on our enjoyment of our recreational time. Long story short, I tried both of these games when they were first released and I did not enjoy myself at all. Now usually I would chalk this up to simply a difference in taste but I think deep down I knew there was something special about team Ico’s lead designer Fumito Ueda’s minimalist approach to game design.
Perhaps I just wasn’t ready, who knows. But I think it is simply fantastic that we’re getting two games that are almost universally lauded as modern day masterpieces, re-released in full HD. Clearly, we feel strongly enough about this release that we’re even running a contest this week so we can get a copy of this collection in the hands of just one more gamer. My co-hosts simply cannot stop talking about how amazing these games are and I feel so lucky that I am getting a second chance to play them for the first time. I don’t remember much, if anything about either title so this is going to be a pretty interesting experience for me. Clearly my expectations are sky high, but something tells me that they are going to be met with gusto!
Maybe I’m making a bigger deal of this release (I’m not) than it really is, but if you’ve ever listened to the show, you know just how much I appreciate artsy games. Developers that simply attempt to make games that break out of standard AAA mould are usually relegated to indie status and don’t always get the support of large publishers, kudos to Sony for having the conviction to give these games a second release with such support. Also as a tiny, but incredibly awesome gesture towards hardcore fans, you can actually flip the game’s paper inlay/cover art around and have the original Japanese and EU box art designed by Mr. Ueda himself for your display. That’s just classy as hell if you ask me.
So… are you getting the Ico HD collection? Are you as excited about this release as we are? Let us know in the comments, and for crying out loud, enter our contest if you want a shot at a FREE copy of these games!
Once again, here’s D.J. with more of this week’s releases:
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD (PS3) – After numerous delays, PlayStation 3 owners finally get to experience Sam Fisher’s first three stealth missions in HD. For a bargain price of $40 for either the disc or digital download, you get the original Splinter Cell and its sequels, Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, all together in a convenient bundle. While it’s a huge disappointment that Ubisoft neglected to include the latter two games’ groundbreaking spies-vs.-mercenaries multiplayer modes, there’s still some quality sneaking to be found in the single player campaigns, and don’t forget Amon Tobin’s excellent Chaos Theory soundtrack.
Resident Evil: Code: Veronica X HD (XBLA, PSN) – Regarded as one of the finest of the original Resident Evil games (AKA pre-Resident Evil 4), Code: Veronica follows Claire and Chris Redfield as they continue to unravel the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation, all while dealing with pesky zombies and giant spiders. Originally debuting on the Dreamcast in 2000, RE:C:VX returns with an HD makeover, as seems to be the theme this week.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DSiWare) – Nintendo’s giving DSi and 3DS owners another gift this week to celebrate Zelda‘s 25th Anniversary: a retooled, DSiWare edition of one of Link’s more offbeat adventures. This was originally meant to be played on the Gamecube using four linked Gameboy Advances, and although you can still group with three other friends, supposedly they’ve made it easier to play solo this time around. Knowing Nintendo, the multiplayer is probably local wifi only, but hey, free Zelda game (provided you download it before February 20th, 2012).
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (PSN) – After debuting on Xbox Live Arcade last summer, Konami’s strange Castlevania mash-up is coming to the PSN, with all of its many, many DLC packs included for free. Differing from the 2D Castlevania games of the last few years, Harmony of Despair is a multiplayer, co-op affair that lets players choose one of their favorite Castlevania heroes and make their way through a smaller version of Dracula’s castle before fighting one of the series’s bosses. Personally, this isn’t my preferred way to play Castlevania, but it’s garnered something of a cult following so it may be worth a look.
Mercury Hg (PSN, XBLA) – After its previous outings in Mercury Meltdown on the PSP and Mercury Meltdown Revolution on the Wii, the heroic blob of molten metal (Is it the same blob every time?) is making its jump to an HD system, in case the awful pun threw you off. Guide as much of the little blob as possible to the end of a maze that’s part Marble Madness and part miniature golf. It’s more fun than it sounds, and is definitely way safer than playing with the real thing!
Rochard (PSN) – Rochard has you playing as the titular space miner as he deals with aliens invading his asteroid workplace. It’s a 2D platformer where you use your gravity-gun-like weapon to manipulate objects and lower gravity to help you traverse the environment. Check out some trailers of the game in action here.
Child of Eden (PS3) – Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s successor to Rez is finally, finally out for the PS3. Instead of the 360’s Kinect peripheral, players can use multiple Move controllers to shoot down waves of enemies threatening an AI program. It’s also in stereoscopic 3D–recommended if it’s been a while since you saw your dealer. (Note: Video Game Hangover does not endorse the use of psychotropic drugs while playing Tetsuya Mizuguchi games.)