The 3DS Is a Success Somewhere

Despite earlier failures of the 3DS, Nintendo has managed to launch back with surprisingly strong sales in Japan.  It has sold over 5 million units there and 15 million units worldwide.  It’s become the fastest selling portable console in Japan and has already surpassed the Nintendo DS sales.

This was definitely surprising news because of Nintendo’s reported losses.  They hadn’t lost profits in twenty five years, and the 3DS was certainly the cause of it.  Maybe now that the 3DS has picked up, Nintendo will show a profit?  One can only hope for the studio behind Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong.  Have you seen the commercials for their latest games?  It definitely makes me want the 3DS more.

Let’s just hope that the Wii U has a major success worldwide.

Double Fine is Double Awesome.

Since I just finished The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword, I’m looking for new games to play.  I’ve always been a platformer kind of girl, and as of late I seem to be stuck on Nintendo.  Few games catch my eye, but there’s a certain game developer that’s caught all of my attention.

Double Fine is a game production studio that develops games for PC, Mac, Xbox, and PlayStation.  They’ve created intriguing and original games like Psychonauts and Costume Quest.  These guys are about to become my new favorites because of their quality games.

I just bought Psychonauts and played the first thirty minutes.  The artwork and dialogue remind me of a 90s cartoon like “Aaaaahh!! Real Monsters.”  It’s nostalgic yet fresh.  There’s nothing more I love than a witty character in a video game.  Clever writing in video games isn’t too common anymore and definitely needs to be appreciated more.  I’ll probably end up doing a full review on it later, but the quirkiness of Tim Schafer (head of Double Fine Production Studio) lives on in his other games.

There’s even a Kinect game from this company that puts you in retro video games, kind of like the game show “Legends of the Hidden Temple.”  You can also pretend you’re a fish and dance around.  It puts you in another reality, and it’s actually you not an avatar.  You can also smash buildings, shoot fireworks, and play with lava.  It’s great because now you don’t have to pretend that the floor is lava, the Kinect will do that for you.  The game is called Happy Action Theater and it’s available on Xbox Live for 800 Microsoft points.

The bad news about this company is that they’ve been struggling to put out games for financial reasons.  The good news is, they just raised $800,000 to create another video game.  It was all thanks to Kickstarter, who allowed for gamers to directly pay the company money to publish their own games.  No word on what game ill be released yet, but people are already talking about a sequel for Psychonauts.  Tim Schafer is leaning more towards a point and click game, but any game from this epic developer is fine.

If you want to see more of their artwork, just go to doublefine.com and check out their games.  They’ve even got games you can play on their website, along with a few comics.

No New Xbox Release This Year

Image via gamingbolt.com

Alas, I am the bearer of bad news today.  Amidst all of the rumors about the new Xbox 720, French marketing director Cedrick Delmas has told the site Lepoint.fr that there will be not be a 2012 release of the newest Xbox.  Rumors have been flaring up recently about the technical aspects of the Xbox 720, and it’s only made the anticipation worse.  The Wii U is also being released late 2012, so many people assumed Microsoft would be going head to head against Nintendo.  Delmas stated that they were basically going to let Nintendo have their fun, and steal all their glory later on.

Delmas also mentioned E3 in his interview with Lepoint.fr, but he isn’t really sure what Microsoft will do for this year’s convention.  I’m guessing that maybe they’ll introduce some aspect of the new Xbox 720 and make it official (like the rumors about the processor being seven times more powerful).  Maybe they’ll hint at what the new design for the controller looks like.  E3 will be bombarded with questions about these rumors, so Microsoft better have some answers ready.

I have to say, I’m kind of grateful that another Xbox won’t be released this year.  Like most gamers, I only have so much money set aside for games this year.  Besides if the Xbox 720 bans any used game then I may have to boycott them.

Ok, not really, but I will probably end up switching to PC gaming anyway.  Steam always has some good deals going on, and I heard there are many advantages to becoming a PC gamer.  I will miss that controller in my hand though.  Consoles better not ever become a thing of the past; I’m too nostalgic to let go of the good old days when glitches meant you had to start back at the beginning.  If a new Xbox does come out in 2013, it better blow us all away.

Brace yourselves…The 5K Obstacle Course Zombie Run is Coming.

2012 is theorized to be the end of the world.  Many zombie enthusiasts are hoping for a zombie outbreak, and preparing themselves in an intense 5K run.

Lucky for you, this infamous 5K Zombie Run takes place all over the United States and starts in Boston on May 5, 2012.  If Boston is a little far for you, it also takes place in Baltimore, Austin, San Diego/Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Seattle/Portland, and Pittsburgh.  According to their website, the zombies can be either walking or running and the obstacles are a complete surprise.  If you register as a runner, you’ll need to bring cash for parking and a towel.  No food or drinks are allowed since they’ll be making you buy their own concessions.

You must also pay a $67 registration fee and arrive two hours before your “wave.”  The wave is the group of people/zombies you’ll be dealing with.  It goes all the way from 9am to 5pm.  They do provide free coffee for those of us who like running but hate mornings.  If you make it through the run, you get a medal showing how you survived or became one of the glorious undead.  You also get a free t-shirt, a racing bib, and admittance to the apocalypse party.  The party will have booze, awesome music, and of course brains (or food for those of you who can’t stand brains).

What’s awesome about this run is if you choose to be a zombie, you get a lot of cool stuff.  A makeup team will provide your undead look, and you must also choose what kind of zombie (walking or running) you’d like to be.  Zombie registration fee is only $25 and you can get a free pass to actually race.  They probably have some “antidote” that will cure you and make you part of the living.  You still get admittance into the big party afterwards and get free parking, camping, and food.  Free t-shirts are inevitable and they’ll provide you with some food and drink to keep that undead heart pumping.

Or you could always be a spectator for $30.  The choice is yours.

Most of these races don’t start til October, so you’ll have plenty of time to get in shape.  Call it a resolution for the New Year.  It might just pay off in the end…

The Next Generation of Gamers Shouldn’t Hate on Classics

I fear for the future of gaming sometimes.  I really do.  Just like we’re all required to read literature classics in high school, we should all encourage younger gamers to play arcade and NES games.  It allows the legacy to live on.

 

As a self proclaimed nerd, I do reddit.  I’m noticing more and more that these younger gamers have a slight hatred towards retro games.  There’s not enough blood or violence or the graphics aren’t good enough.  I shouldn’t be feeling old at 23 when I remember how violent and bloody Mortal Kombat was when it came out.  I remember my mother banning me from this game and later sneaking over to my neighbor’s house to play it.  Has the culture of gaming really been passed on to fifteen year old twats who teabag every soldier they kill?

 

*Shudder*

 

Those of us who do remember how difficult Pacman was are lucky.  I was born a couple years after Super Mario Bros. for the NES was released, but I was lucky enough to play every Mario game since.  I may have a huge bias towards Nintendo (at least I admit it), but that’s because I enjoyed the simplicity of these games.  I remember the frustration of getting a game over in World 4-1 and having to start back at World 1-1.  Things weren’t as easy.  I thank God for respawning in games like Halo, but sometimes I feel like my skill isn’t developing as much as I’d like it to.  I like to think that I got good at Mario because I played World 8-3 a million times before I finally got to the castle.

 

No one can take that feeling of achievement away.  That final moment of success when you’ve realized that all your hard work has finally paid off.  I still get that in a few games today, but I have yet to find a platformer as satisfying as Super Mario or The Legend of Zelda.

 

We saw those games fade away; then the internet happened.  All of a sudden we could relive our best childhood moments.  It was glorious, and then it was heavenly when we discovered what a save state was with emulators.  All of these games are accessible to anyone with a computer.  This up and coming generation should examine the roots of games like Call of Duty by playing Doom.  These older games are classics because they are a work of art in their own way.  Hipsters may be taking it to the next level, but they are appreciating a fantastic era.

 

I’m not saying that these classics are better than newer classics like Portal, but we call these games classics for their legacy.  If I could give a message to all these younger gamers, it’d be this:  give these games a chance, learning how far we’ve come in gaming technology is half the fun.  If anything, we can all laugh at how pixelated the older games are compared to now.  You should probably get on that too before SOPA passes.  One day you’ll be having the same problems.  The games we have right now are already awesome, so why not try something different?

 

Updates!!

Good news everyone!  I am an official published video game journalist.  Well, I’m not sure if blogging on an official magazine website counts as published, but it counts in my book.  Click here to see my latest article on StudyBreaks.com.  

I’ll still be blogging for my site, just probably not as often.  I’ll still be streaming every Wednesday, and will be playing Pokemon Blue again for tomorrow.

In other news,

STEAM HOLIDAY SALE!!! GET YOUR PC GAMES NOW!!!

Click on the picture for the full story.

The CDC Has Released a Graphic Novel, About Zombies.

Zombie Cover Banner

Remember back when the CDC issued a warning to create an emergency kit to prepare for zombies?  The infamous author of that blog certainly got everyone’s attention, gathering more hits on their website than imagined.  In the article, it argued that you would prepare for zombies the same way you would prepare for a major hurricane.

They decided to continue educating the masses (incorrectly I might add) by creating a short graphic novella.  The story is simple, the writing is bad, and the illustrations are decent.  It’s free to download and is in the form of a pdf, but if you’d rather just read the text they’ve made that accessible as well.  It is worth a read just so you can see what NOT to do.  What I find the most interesting is how the CDC actually puts themselves and the military down.  I don’t want to spoil too much, but they put our main characters in a situation that’s inescapable.  At least you think it’s inescapable until an unexpected twist happens.   This twist is a slap in the face to any reader who was hoping for some serious zombie drama.  The twist is also a rule that should almost never be broken by any writer.

The novella shows what the proper protocol is, but they leave out so many factors that actually endangers the characters.  Staying inside your house isn’t a great idea because it can leave you trapped.  If you do leave your house you should probably arm yourself and head AWAY from the zombies.  These fallacies just bug me.  It also explains why the CDC will never get through a zombie epidemic.

At least the CDC will provide you with a free paperback cover of their novella.  Having an emergency kit is never a bad idea, and they do provide you with a complete list of what you’ll need for impending doom.

It’s too bad they ended it the way they did.  These zombies could actually be cured, so it really did present a moral dilemma for the military.  How do you stop a zombie when you know that a vaccination will cure them?  Do you have the right to take a life away at that point?

Too bad this novella doesn’t explore these depths at all.

Read away (click here).

Portal Cookie Cutters, These Cookies Are Not a Lie

Cookies are truth

Why not add a few companion cube cookies to your holiday cookies this year?  Thinkgeek.com is selling a set of eight Portal  themed cookie cutters for $19.99.  It’s really not a bad deal since you get eight cutters.  Even if you don’t make holiday cookies, you could always use these cookie cutters for regular baking.  Making cookies is actually just another test that GlaDos prepared.  These cookies are in fact, for science.  The cake was a lie, it’s really cookies that are your prize.

Thinking of Buying Dead Island as a Gift? Here’s a Review From Our New Writer, Shane!

 I love the whole zombie horror genre, so it’s little wonder that Dead Island would catch my eye. With its unique trailer, and RPG style game-play, it sounds like a perfect game. Does it live up to its expectations, though? In a market saturated with zombies, does Dead Island do enough to make it stand out? Well, that depends.
Dead Island’s combat feels very akin to Oblivion’s. The melee attacks, first person view, and swing style all seem to be direct copies of Oblivion. Deep Silver (the creator and distributor of Dead Island) did improve upon the animations. You won’t be seeing as many of those annoying camera lurches when your character attacks with a two-handed weapon. They also added additional animations, that activate depending on where your character is standing, in relation to your enemy.
     Deep Silver also took a page out of Dead Rising with their weapon choices. While not as open-world as Dead Rising, you’re not likely to run out of available weaponry any time soon. For example, there are plenty of wooden planks and broken broom sticks abound. You’ll also be able to take out pieces of piping running along buildings, or knives straight from zombie hands. You can also kick your zombie attackers. While not powerful on its own, your kick is a good way to get several attackers under control.
As if that wasn’t good enough, Deep Silver is not afraid to get gory. As you hack away at your foe, you’ll break and sever limbs. Deep Silver did an amazing job with their body deformations. When you crack a zombies neck, the head will spin around, the flesh will twist, and you’ll see the bone trying to push its way out. If you break an arm, you’ll see the spot of the break, down, go limp, and the bone pushing away. Deep Silver also made sure to add all the nice bone-cracking sound effects, just for that extra immersion.
     There are some areas, however, where things don’t quite feel real. The first time you run into a boss-type zombie called a Thug, you’ll see a propane tank next to it. I’m sure you can see where this is going. What you probably aren’t expecting, was the fact that I used a broom stick to destroy it. That simple fact alone took away the sheer thrill of blowing a big zombie to pieces. None of the other Thugs are overly thrilling, either. At one point, you’ll have to fight one to in order to finish making a sign.   Now, running up to it, and hacking it to pieces isn’t much of an option, as they knock off a good chunk of your life, and send you flying back. That really isn’t much of a risk, however, when you can just pick up the crates sitting around, and continuously throw them at it.
     The biggest issue, that I’ve found, is the difficulty. Even on quests that are supposed to be “Hard” or “Very Hard”, they really aren’t. A few whacks here, a few kicks here, and you’ll find pretty much any challenge easy to handle.
     The leveling system will also feel familiar to RPG players. Especially if you’ve played Dragon Age 2, WoW, TOR, WAR, or Rift. It’s a simple three-tree system, one tree being focused mostly around improving the abilities you already have, another around giving you more abilities, and a third to increase your over-all survivability and drop rates.
Experience is handed out in the typical, kill thing, do quest, get exp, style. You’ll also find several repeatable quests that will give extra little bits of experience and, sometimes, weapons like the Molotov Cocktail. Even the loot system is done in the typical MMO style, with common items having their name in white, less common in green, then blue, purple, and orange.

     The driving components are a lot more fun than I would have expected. While the controls feel a little clunky, it’s incredibly satisfying to go tearing down the Banoi island streets, smashing into zombies.  As you crash into them, your vehicle will start to take damage and, at one point, you’ll be forced to knock out when your windshields, the windows on the doors will get broken out, and the screen will blur when you hit large things.

     There are, of course, problems. One of the biggest problems is what has the power to stop your vehicle. Once, when trying to drive across the beach from the Diamond District bungalows, my truck was stopped dead. At first, I thought I had hit the ledge on the beach house, or the umbrella, so I backed up and tried again. Same thing. As it turns out, it was a tiny sand castle that was stopping my truck.

     The story is a little shallow but, then, Dead Island’s story was never supposed to be its major selling point. You can choose from one of four characters: a throwing expert, a sharp weapons expert, a firearms expert, or a blunt weapons expert. During my play, I went with Sam B, the blunt weapons expert, and a sort of tank. Now, I had expected to choose my character, and get a bit of an introduction as the game started.

     I was very surprised when, upon clicking on Sam B, I was given a full-VO character bio. The bio gave his background, what he did for a living, and why he was there. When you start the game, you’re lead through the hotel as zombies begin to swarm it, and end up getting knocked out. When you come to, you’re greeted by life guard that worked for the hotel. This is where Dead Island stands out from most zombie games. Instead of simply ignoring the fact that your character has, and will, get bit, Deep Silver addressed the issue directly. Your character is immune to whatever is causing the zombie outbreak.  If you’re expecting a frightening story, however, you aren’t going to find it. Even the few moments that try to be deep, or touching, really aren’t. One of your quests involve you getting gas to burn zombie bodies. After delivering the gas to the quest giver, a short cutscene plays of the him lighting a pyre, covered in bodies, on fire. He buries his face in his hands as the camera pans up. While the initial intent of the scene is there, the art style, scenery, and music never deliver that effect.
     That kind of effect is much better delivered by your character during and after combat. After taking down what used to be a woman, Sam B says “This is so f***ed up.” I really felt that this was a great design choice, as it gave him a real feeling of personality, and personal responsibility. Some of the other NPC’s you’ll run into have a similar effect, especially the doctor after you move all of the survivors to the lighthouse.
Deep Silver did, however, add some awkward moments. When I walked into one of the bungalows early in the game, I was truly taken back. At first, I only went in to turn off the radio, which was making my headache worse. The first thing I saw was a man slumped down, with flies buzzing all around him. When I entered the room, much to my surprise, there was a woman handcuffed to the bed, thrashing around, with cameras pointed at her.
The biggest issue I have this game is the art style. Now, it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not really good either. It feels very similar to Oblivion, except that the characters are a bit more fleshy and grimy, and a look a lot less like plastic. That said, there are some major issues that could use some real looking into. The first, and this maybe because of where I sit compared to the size of my screen, is the hair. You can clearly see where the planes used to make the hair textures meet the body model.
Second are the mouth animations. While talking, the NPC’s mouths rarely close. The third is a bit harder to explain. Somewhere in the mix of the style of the models, the textures, the background set up, and the lighting, I started to develop a very bad headache, very quickly. I would definitely recommend that you keep as far back from your screen as you can, and still be able to read the text.

     All and all, Dead Island is definitely worth the forty dollar price tag currently on it. If you’re a fan of zombies, or hack and slash, or both, you’re going to get your money’s worth out of this game.  It makes for a great gift for that special gamer friend.

-Written by Shane Farrier