Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: E3 2013

So E3 2013 is finally over. Phew! What a show! To be honest, E3 isn’t usually my cup of tea. I’m not a massive fan of game media (why ruin the best parts of a game before you’ve played them?) and I even question the relevance of the event in this online world of ours. THAT SAID, even I couldn’t resist the lure of the major console companies suiting up for battle. And it didn’t disappoint in that regard. I also had a lot of fun text chatting with other gamers on a great gaming website that I frequent (epicbattleaxe.com). So without further ado, let’s go through my top 5 of E3 2013.

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#5: BATTLEFRONT – When EA and Disney inked their Star Wars deal, one thing was on gamer’s minds; a Battlefront game using the frostbite 2 engine. And in an uncharacteristic, crowd pleasing move, that’s exactly what EA are going to give to us. There wasn’t much to go on at E3, just a few seconds of CGI video, but then again the ink on the deal is still so fresh that expecting anything else would be folly. I’m really looking forward to the revival of this long dormant franchise, as Battlefront 2 was great fun and one of the best games to ever bare the Star Wars name.

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#4: THE DIVISION – One thing I will say about the E3 content is that it seriously lacked color. Almost all the next-gen games strove for realistic graphics, which meant that everything became a shade of grey or brown. Too many shooters. Too much killing. I like bright, vibrant fun more than busting heads! That said, Ubisoft’s online RPG / third-person-shooter hybrid looks great. I can imagine going through this game with a buddy in tow and having a riot (literally). This is one to keep an eye on definitely.

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#3 MARIO KART 8 – Oh Mario Kart… A game that never, ever changes. We watch as iteration after iteration pushes the franchise further into irrelevan… CRASH! KABOOM! SCREEEEE… That is the sound of Mario Kart 8 bucking the trend and blowing your mind. It’s in HD and it’s obviously been paying close attention to the excellent Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing franchise. You can now drift at lightning speed and even drive on the walls and ceilings! For the first time since the N64, Mario Kart is looking fresh, hungry and reinvigorated. The case for getting a WiiU just gathered speed.

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#2 METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN – The gameplay footage I saw had horses. HORSES!! What more is there to say? Game over, motherfuckers. MGSV has gone from a game I had almost no interest in to one I’m now properly excited about. It’s open world. You can drive a multitude of transports. There is a greater emphasis on stealth. I’m almost peeing my pants right now. This could be a great return to form for the series. I had big problems with the overblown story telling of parts 3 & 4, so I hope Kojima has kept himself in check this time (who am I kidding). Anyway, Metal Gear Redemption / Assassin’s Creed Solid is once again relevant and firmly on my radar.

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#1 THE PS4 OWNS YOUR FACE – No DRM. Used games / lending are encouraged. No always online requirement. No mandatory spycam. Region free. Only one PSN subscription required for all accounts… And it’s 100 bucks cheaper than the Xbone! THANK YOU SONY. Microsoft tried to fuck us in the ass and ruin gaming. Sony have now diligently tended to our wounds. I could watch Jack Tretton’s E3 announcements and the crowd’s reactions to them all day. That was a sheer joy to behold as a gamer and maybe the best E3 moment of all time. The Chuchu will now be getting a PS4 as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

So there you go. E3 is dust. It was great for new console news and OK for games too. But there was no news regarding a new Metroid title. CHUCHU SAD. Come on Nintendo, get your shit wired!

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Great Gaming Gaffs

 

As the great AVGN would say; “What a shitload of fuck!” I am, of course, referring to the Xbox One. Everyone has been frothing at the mouth and having seizures over the calamitous reveal. Now… It’s not really my place to jump on the wagon of despair. After all, I don’t own an Xbox 360 and I’ve never even thought about picking up an Xbox One. But let’s face facts; Microsoft’s reveal hasn’t won me over. Or anyone else for that matter. Standardized DRM so you can’t lend games to your buddy? Bullshit. Always having to be online or your games don’t work? Bullshit. Partnering with E.A? Bullshit. Being able to watch TV and use a hands free remote as the console’s flagship cornerstone? BUUUULLSHIIIIT. But hey… Microsoft didn’t invent the handbook for stupid gaming ideas (though they are iterating on it), so let’s take a look back at Tokyochuchu’s top five gaming gaffs.

SONY AND THE OPEN DOOR POLICY FOR HACKERS

Having an online database for customer accounts, personal information and credit card details is one thing. Having almost no security for it is quite another. So, all of our PS3 information was duly stolen by hacker scum. Adding insult to injury, Sony didn’t make the hack public knowledge until sometime after it occurred.  That type of thing needs instant transparency! Luckily, the hackers were just assholes out for kicks and not hardened cyber-criminals. But we still went a good month or so with no online functions for PS3. Have you game companies learned your lesson now? DON’T FUCKING SKIMP ON CUSTOMER SECURITY!

THE FOUL MURDER OF SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Since 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog has been a star. He is Sega’s defining mascot and saw his name upheld with classic after classic in the 16 bit era. Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are bonafide gaming legends. As are Sonic CD and Sonic Adventure. But then Sega decided to severely put the brakes on the franchise. What was an excellent, simple game got pushed and cajoled into twisted, unrecognizable shapes. This led to such bastardizations as Sonic Rivals, Sonic the Fighters, Sonic Air Riders, Sonic R, Sonic Unleashed, Shadow the Hedgehog and worst of all… the truly unplayable Sonic ’06. That long decade of misery had the effect of taking a gaming icon as esteemed as Mario and wiping your ass with it. Sonic became a joke; a byword for laughably inept games. Even with the great recent turnaround of Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations and Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing, the franchise still hasn’t recovered from it’s awful stigma (and maybe it never will). So… Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? TREAT YOUR FUCKING IPs WITH CARE AND RESPECT!

ATARI AND THE GREAT 64 BIT LEAP

You had the 16bit Genesis and SNES rocking the shit back in the early nineties… But, hoah! What’s that? Atari with a 64bit machine? It can’t be true! And… It wasn’t. Two crappy 32 bit processors don’t make a 64bit machine, you morons. ‘Do the math’ their advertising slogan insisted. I did the math and traded in my SNES with 25 classic games for an Atari Jaguar with Aliens versus Predator and Atari Pinball. Big mistake. The console had three decent games. Doom, Aliens versus Predator and Tempest 2000 (the latter of which looked like a SNES title). Seriously… three good games. The rest were a bunch of 16bit ports or badly implemented crap (anyone remember Kasumi Ninja… OUCH!). Long story short, the Jaguar went down in flames and Atari pretty much went out of business. Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FLAMES!

SEGA GOES DOWN IN FLAMES

This one should be very pertinent for Xbox watchers. Sega had a strong foothold in the 16bit era, even leading the competition in North America. But such shitty offerings as the Sega CD and 32X exposed both Sega’s lack of direction and disrespect for it’s loyal customers (neither the Sega CD or 32X were supported in a meaningful way). The following Sega Saturn had big technical problems too, being notoriously difficult to program for and ultimately failed. Sega’s last effort, The Dreamcast was a bit more of a return to form. Still, Sega couldn’t claw back the fans it lost by repeatedly corrupting it’s brand with inferior products. That combined with the company’s idiotic spending (the failed Neptune console cost them millions, as did Shenmue which could never have recouped it’s development cost even if it sold two copies for every machine) ultimately put Sega out of the hardware market. At which point they became a publisher and set about destroying their best loved franchise (see above). So, again… DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FLAMES!

E.T AND ATARI TRY TO DESTROY VIDEOGAMES

The Atari 2600. The ZX Spectrum. The Amstrad CPC464. The Commodore 64. These systems were easy to program for. Hell, you could get a magazine and input codes to make your own games on some of them. I myself programed a BMX game back in the day and I know nothing about game development. So… What does Joe Blogs coder do when he’s made a crappy game? He sells it, of course! With everyone and their dog making games (most of them shitty), the market was flooded by thousands of titles. Gamers couldn’t judge which games were good and which were bad. Everything was lost in a mad, confusing shuffle. Inundated with worthless titles, gamers simply turned off and stopped buying. The market crashed, the industry lost millions and companies started dropping like flies. This in turn invited Nintendo to cautiously dig itself out of the debris, holding quality assurance close to it’s heart (which is why the Nintendo seal of quality exists in the first place). Although it is perhaps unfair to lay blame at the foot of one title, the most iconic game of the crash was E.T. The game was legendarily bad and unbelievably overstocked. Another long story short; large quantities of  unsold copies were taken out and buried in the dessert! Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FUCKING FLAMES!

So there you go. Take from this history lesson what you will. I hope you enjoyed reading!

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Wrestling games

Do you like wrestling? I sure as hell do. I’m a huge fan of the WWE. I watch every Raw, Smackdown and PPV without fail. I also go to live events to boo John Cena whenever I can (not an easy feat seeming as I live in Japan).

But how did I get into wrestling in the first place? Was I converted when I saw Jimmy Snuka do his Superfly splash off the top of a cage? No. Was I overwhelmed when Hulk Hogan bodyslamed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III? Nope. Did I drop to my my knees and pledge allegiance after watching Undertaker throw Mankind through an announce table from the top of Hell in the Cell? No… But I probably would have if I’d seen that particular one live. Jesus that man can take a bump!

Unusually, my entry into the world of wrestling was through videogames. Sure, I’d had some exposure to wrestling through a couple of classmates back in school but I never really got why they loved it so much.

The start of things for me came with the N64 title WCW vs. NWO World Tour. My brother and I were looking for a cheap second-hand multiplayer game and this game looked like it could be fun so we picked it up. We didn’t know any of the wrestlers or moves or even the general rules of wrestling but MAN… That game was fun! We sank a ton of time into it and no other fighting game on the N64 came anywhere near to being as good.

Back in my youth I was a Nintendo fanboy just like a certain Mr Grice. I always picked the big N’s machines over Sega’s competitors. During the 32bit era, with Nintendo lagging behind, I decided to pick up a Sega Saturn over the Sony Playstation. I mean, COME ON! How could Sony hope to compete with Sega, right? OOOOHH…..

So relatively late in the game I bought a Playstation and one of the first games I picked up was WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role. Not because I had become a wrestling fan but because it was made by the same company as WCW vs. NWO.

As much as we played the N64 game back in the day, it was nothing compared to how much time we put into Smackdown 2. The graphics were better, the gameplay was smoother and the create-a-wrestler options gave us an unending source of entertainment. I remember my brother and I trying to make a naked female wrestler by making her bra and panties skin colored. That was idiotically fun because you could fight men against women and when you’d go for the pin and ‘hook the leg’ the male wrestler’s animation really looked like he was fucking his opponent! Boy was that childish… but very, very funny.

Eventually we sank so much time into the game that we started to wonder… If the game is this much fun maybe the TV show could be fun too. So we started to watch Sunday Night Heat (the only WWE show on terrestrial TV in the UK at that time). We were delighted to finally see the wrestlers that we knew from the game; Dean Malenko, Albert, Perry Saturn, Billy Gunn, Scotty Too Hotty, The Hardy Boyz… The show was pretty good too and we started to watch every week. We’d also catch Raw & Smackdown whenever we could (although not having access to cable TV made it difficult).

Eventually we saw our first PPV which was Invasion, where WCW and WWE went to war and fought for supremacy in the ring. The main event saw Stone Cold Steve Austin turn on team WWE and cost them the victory. I remember actually feeling distraught over his betrayal. So much so that we immediately booted up Smackdown 2 and stuck that sum’ bitch in a three-on-one handicap match and beat the shit out of him.

From that moment on I was officially a wrestling fan.

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Alien movie games

Do you love the Alien movies? I certainly do. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ is my favorite movie of all time! Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ would probably make it into my top thirty too. I also harbor some love for his recent ‘Prometheus’. And I also harbor a small, easily concealable pistol just in case I ever meet the directors of ‘AvP2: Requiem’… But that’s a different story.

Anyway, with Aliens: Colonial Marines now scaling ‘Alien Resurrection’ heights of critical acclaim, it’s apt time to look back at some of the Alien video games of distant past. These games are in (loose) chronological order. So without further ado, “Let’s pack ’em in! Get in there!”

ALIEN

Alien on the ZX Spectrum was kind of like an 8-bit Day Z. You had control of the Nostromo’s crew (which were represented by stick figures) and had to figure (pun! pun!) out how to dispose of the alien with only the contents of the ship to help you. I always defaulted to luring the alien into the airlock and ‘blasting it the fuck out into space’. Which was Dallas’ original plan in the movie… And the general plan of Alien3 (trade airlock for furnace) now that I think about it. Anyway, it was a great game. I won’t dwell on it further as I plan to devote an entire blog to it at a later date.

*You’re in my seat. Can I have it please?*

ALIENS: THE ARCADE GAME

Imagine Contra but with Aliens. Not much to say beyond that, really. The only reason I’m even aware of this game is because I stumbled upon it in the back of a musty English pub whilst on holiday. I was ten years old and the idea of an Aliens arcade game existing blew my tiny mind! I sank almost my entire holiday pocket-money budget into this badboy. My parents must have wondered why I was so keen on going back to that smelly old pub. Of course, my father didn’t mind so much… Stupid alcoholic absentee prick!

*Damn, this floor is freezing!*

ALIEN 3

There were at least three different versions of Alien3 that I can think of. None of which bore any resemblance to the movie. The first was an ‘on-rails’ arcade light-gun shooter. The graphics of the game were really good for it’s time and the game always proved to be a fun diversion after my swimming class (it was the only arcade machine in the pool. Obviously not literally in the pool, as that would’ve been really fucking dangerous). Uh… It would still  probably make for a fun Wii title.

The other Alien3 games were on the home consoles. The Genesis version was an ‘against-the-clock’ style dash around a “dark fucking maze” trying to rescue stranded prisoners. I personally never found the game to be compelling (being hounded by time; not a fun mechanic). The SNES version, however, was pretty great! It had some nice adventure elements to it that saw you exploring freely and completing mission objectives in any order you wanted (not a common thing back then). The run and gun action was also fun with the pulse rifle, flamethrower and grenade launcher all mapped to different buttons for quick use without cumbersome menus. Despite the later ‘Infestation’ title (see the further down the list), I still think SNES Alien3 remains the best 2D Alien game.

*It’s alright to say ‘shit’. It ain’t against god*

ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR (SNES & arcade version)

Following on the back of the great graphic novel and excellent SNES Alien3 title, the SNES Aliens versus Predator game was near guaranteed to be something fantastic! It was shit. Really, really, really shit. It was like a very slooooow Final Fight but with all the decent moves and graphics cut out. It is still the worst Alien related game to ever see the light of day. The arcade version was a bit better. That game was more akin to The Simpsons or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade titles and featured Scwartzenegger looking dudes (and predators) stomping around in powerloaders (the dudes, not the predartors… Although a predator in a powerloader would be AWESOME), beating the shit out of anything even vaguely alien shaped. Get that shit up on PSN, STAT!

*Like you never fucked a robot before*

ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR (Atari Jaguar)

I traded in a SNES with 25 classic games to get an Atari Jaguar. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. In hindsight, that might have been a mistake. But the Jaguar’s best game was Alien versus Predator (in new-fangled FPS format!), so how could my Aliens addled mind have resisted?! This game was great for it’s time, adding adventure elements to the carbon-copy Doom formula. Offing xenos with a shotgun in 3D was almost worth that extortionate trade-in! The game also gave you three campaigns to play, which was unique at the time. Of note was the Alien’s life mechanic; The Alien was very easily killed (“How do we kill it Ash?” “You can’t”) so you needed a lot of backup lives. These were procured by cocooning hapless marines with a special attack combo. I always thought that was a cool idea which was then implemented in later games by… Absolutely no-one. Booooo!

*I ain’t ‘ere to be your friend. I’m ‘ere to make money*

ALIEN TRILOGY

Alien Trilogy for Playstation and Saturn was a prototypical example of a ‘Doom-clone’. You walked around the level pressing switches and blasting enemies (apparently geriatric aliens that shuffle around at a snails pace) until you reached the exit point. Despite the lack of imagination, decent A.I, good draw distances or any hint of the movie ‘Alien’, Alien Trilogy was actually a fun game that I remember fondly. Would I like to go back and replay it now, I hear you ask? Fuck no!!

*We’re a team and there’s nothing to worry about. We come here and we’re gonna conquer and we’re gonna get some. Is that understood? We are going to get some. ON THE READY LINE!*

ALIEN RESURRECTION

With the movie being utter crap, my expectation for the Alien Resurrection tie-in game on Playstation was very low. In a bizarre turnaround, the game was excellent! It nailed the set design and weaponry of the film perfectly. Better still; for the first time ever the aliens actually moved like they should. They ran on ceilings, pounced from walls and sprang from dark corners. The game also had a great line in setting up staged, pant-wetting scares. Because the aliens were so overpowered, hard to shoot and you had very little ammo of which to make mistakes with, the game became super intense and scary. In fact, there are only two games in history that have truly frightened me to the point of being nearly debilitated. One is Dead Space and the other is Alien Resurrection. Well done to those devs! You owe me new underwear!

*Look! It thinks you’re it’s mother!*

ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR 1 & 2 (PC)

The first Aliens versus Predator game on the PC did a good job of adapting Half-Life’s template to the world of Aliens. The game once again featured three campaigns and was the first to introduce the player to the alien’s wall-crawling ability. The narrative was stronger than past games, too (even if the acting was laughably crap). That said, it was totally, utterly, monumentally outclassed by it’s sequel. Aliens versus Predator 2 did everything exactly right. The story and acting was stronger, the graphics were better and the set-pieces were far more memorable. But the very best thing about Aliens versus Predator 2 was the multiplayer. The game managed to deliver perfect maps and controls while innovating a brilliant class system that balanced matches perfectly. This was a game that remained popular and was played online for years and years after it’s release. Although gaming progress has marched on, there’s certainly an argument to be made for Aliens versus Predator 2 remaining the best Aliens related game ever made. Unlike the similarly titled movie. Of which every copy should be rounded up and buried in the dessert, Atari ET style. “Hey, let’s go down to the sewers and try to find my car keys!” WHAT THE FUCK!?

*I want an answer not an explanation!*

ALIEN VERSUS PREDATOR: EXTERMINATION

Extermination was a weird squad based RTS. Kudos to the developer for trying something other than a first person shooter with the license, but jeez… This game sucked more than George Micheal in a bathroom stall. There was no strategy involved at all (a pretty bad trait for a Real Time Stategy game). You just wandered around the map, spamming the cursor over enemies until they exploded. And that was it. This was about as much fun as jamming your dick into a potato peeler. Hmmm… On second thoughts, I retract that. Please kids, if it comes down to a choice between playing Extinction or a potato peeler circumcision, do the right thing; Fuck that peeler good, coz this game blows!

*Begging your pardon sir but fuck you!*

ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR (PS3 / 360)

I’m getting really sick of typing ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR in bold caps again and again. Uh… Much like the current Colonial Marines title, the current generation AvP game (see what did there? Yes for abbreviations, motherfucker!) suffered from mass critical backlash. It roughly followed the same format of the prior PC Aliens versus Predator (Nnnng) but without properly updating the mechanics. No iron sights? No kill-streaks? No perks or meaningful multiplayer leveling? The critics were all over the game because of it’s antiquity. Or maybe just because it wasn’t Call of Duty. Not every game needs fucking iron sights, you know! Whatever, I enjoyed this AvP game. The alien campaign was the best one of it’s type. It was a lot of fun to stealth around and slaughter marines before darting back into the shadows. The Predator missions were fun too, with the new graphic kill sequences becoming a gory highlight. The marine campaign showed the most age but it was still a fun romp through the Aliens universe. Overall, this AvP was decent but not quite up to standard with it’s triple-A FPS peers.

*Mister Aaron, get that foolish woman back to the infirmary at once!*

ALIENS: INFESTATION

Infestation was a beautifully animated side-scrolling shooter. The life mechanic was pretty awesome. You had a finite number of marines, all of whom had different situational dialogue and personalities. When they died, they were gone forever. This led to a lot of backtracking to med-packs in order to heal your favorite marines! There was obviously a lot of love poured into this game but as much as I wanted to love it, I just couldn’t. The reason for this was the difficulty level. It was frustratingly, cripplingly, impossibly difficult! Toward the end of the game, I found myself replaying and replaying and replazzzzzzzzzzz… Basically, I gave up. Yes, I’m going to gamer hell. Speaking of which, that brings us to the last title on this list.

*Come on, come on you bastard! Come on you too! Oh, you want some of this? Fuck you!*

ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a disappointing game. There are some good things about this title however. The sound design and general art direction hits Jame’s Cameron’s masterpiece directly on the head. The game has been made with an obvious love of it’s source material; there are a lot of little touches and references that will bring a smile to any Alien fan’s lips. Agonizingly, a few of the game’s levels (most notably an unarmed stealth section and any mission that takes you through the alien derelict) are excellent and display potential that the game should’ve capitalized on.

Unfortunately, Aliens: Colonial Marines is mired with faults. First are the famously bad graphics. More often than not, this looks like an upscaled PS2 game or a PS3 launch title at best. There is no excuse for such a shoddy looking game this late in a console generation. The plot is a complete disaster too. Considered cannon by 20th Century Fox, it’s guaranteed to make any true Aliens fan groan with dissatisfaction. Jame’s Cameron must be spinning in his grave… And he’s not even dead!

Worst of all, though, is the unbelievably bad A.I. Simply put, there is none. You can shoot an enemy in the groin and he won’t make for cover. He’ll just stand there like a dumb fence post. And as for the Alien queen! My experience of one boss battle was the queen just standing still in the center of the map, while I pumped every bit of ammo I had into her (ineffectually, I might add). She didn’t attack or even move a muscle. What the hell?! So, don’t expect good boss battles here, because you won’t get them.

The last piece in the Colonial Marines puzzle is the online multiplayer. The competitive options are actually really good fun. The graphics and A.I don’t impact this portion of the game, and it’s undoubtedly good fun to launch an alien across the map and maul off a marine’s face. Likewise, it’s fun to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a buddy and stave off a bunch of aliens. Good fun, then. The story co-op makes for a decent time as well. All the faults of the single player are carried over, of course, but with a friend in tow they’re less annoying. At the very least, you can laugh at that stupid alien queen together.

So… Aliens: Colonial Marines. Fun in multiplayer or with a friend but VERY disappointing in single player.

*That is crazy! That is horseshit! They will not kill us!*

So, I hope you enjoyed this trip through Alien infested waters (best scene in Resurrection, baby!). Until next time, this is Tokyochuchu, the last survivor of my wife’s fucking awful tofu recipes, signing off.

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