Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nintendo Direct (UK) E3 2013: Later than Ever Impressions

Last Tuesday night week, after being tied up all day (not literally), I finally got to sit down and watch the E3 Nintendo Direct at about a quarter past eleven. Knowing that Mario Kart, Smash Bros. and the next Mario for the Wii U were going to be shown beforehand, I wasn't really expecting any megatons to be dropped amid that line up, especially with only an hour's running time. I was pretty excited to see the next evolution of Mario though and I did still have a faint hope that we'd see Retro working on something exciting. It's been a long day, Iwata. Please cheer me up with some games:

  • 00:05 - Okay, after some searching I've found a stream on Joystiq. Not sure if it's the right one. (It is only 40 minutes long), but let's check it out.
  • 00:17 - Pegi 18. Oh, this must be the UK stream. Well, it'll do I guess. The threat of spoilers is too high to go poking around the internet for the US one.
  • 00:35 - 'Sup, Iwata.

  • 00:48 - Whoa, look at the size of that room. I bet they had no problems with Kinect in here. :)
  • 01:22 - First up: Pokémon, I guess.

  • 01:56 - Pokémon sure does look different since I played Pokémon Yellow a decade ago. I should probably give the series another go; I did really like Yellow. Too bad they're seem dead set against a console version though. My attention span for handheld games is still pretty short.
  • 02:20 - Fairy type! #gamechanger
  • 02:48 - There are probably a lot of deviantArt users that'd enjoy bonding with a Pokémon.
  • 04:03 - Yep, got it already, Iwata.
  • 04:38 - 3D Mario?

  • 04:45 - 3D Mario. Looks quite a bit like 3D Land, at least from this angle.
  • 05:10 - Spotted a new suit in there, and it looks like there's some touch screen business going on here. Not sure about this music, but it's a step up up from the NSMB stuff I guess.
  • 05:20 - Whoa, hold the fucking phone! Peach! Is this the real New Super Mario Bros. 2?
  • 05:22 - And Toad. No vegetables sighted as of yet though.
  • 05:47 - Okay, looks like there isn't any Mario 2 stuff in there aside from the character line up. Multi-player stuff looks fun though.
  • 05:55 - Ooh, charging chuck. Though for all I know he might well have reappeared in one of the last three Mario platformers (that I've yet to buy, let alone play),
  • 06:17 - Super Mario 3D world for the Wii U. I know I'll probably enjoy the shit out of this, but I have to admit, it doesn't look like the epic Galaxy follow up I was hoping for today.
  • 07:40 - Cat Mario. The internet will be pleased.
  • 08:03 - December for Mario. That's kind of late. Maybe they're trying to get away from the two new consoles?
  • 08:13 - As promised, it's Mario Kart. Looks great in HD, but barring some major effort to make the single player entertaining, I am fucking done with this series. :D
  • 08:36 - Got to admit that hover karts are pretty cool though.
  • 09:07 - Seems to be a weird emphasis on driving on vertical surfaces this time 'round. Hang gliders are back from Mario Kart 7. Another Wii U game built off a 3DS predecessor?
  • 09:57  - Mario Kart 8. That numbering seems to be sticking around for now. Surprising they managed to resist the temptation to slap a U at the end instead.
  • 11:10 - Spring 2014. Have to admit I was expecting it to hit this year
  • 11:17 - Wii Party? I forgot that series even existed.
  • 11:48 - Just what the fans were crying out for: mini-games!
  • 12:39 - Both this and Wii Fit delayed. If I had to guess, I'd say Nintendo might be struggling with HD development here. If so, that doesn't bode well for the rest of this, or the Wii U in general.

  • 13:19 - For a split second there I thought we were going to get some Ambassador stuff announced. :) It's so strange to see someone apologizing for something at E3. Imagine any of the smug suits at Microsoft doing that kind of thing. I'd probably pay good money to see that.

  • 14:00 - Oh, nice. Art Academy for the Wii U. The DS version seemed neat, but I never got around to checking it out.
  • 14:54 - So they're putting a cut down version of it out on the eShop this Summer? Cool.
  • 15:19 - Doesn't sound like it's free though. I'll probably wait for the full package then.
  • 15:44 - Some third party stuff? Hopefully there a few surprises in here.
  • 16:04 - Ubisoft and Warner back for round 2.
  • 16:13 - Thinking of picking up this version of Deus Ex actually, given the enhancements.
  • 16:27 - Disney Infinity and Just Dance. Don't know much about the former and I really couldn't care less about the later.
  • 16:30 - It still looks as aesthetically offensive as ever though. :D
  • 16:40 - Rayman Legends. Been playing the challenges app a bit, which leads me to believe that this game is going to be ball-shatteringly hard. Doubt I'll be rushing out to grab it to be honest. I haven't even picked up Rayman Origins yet.
  • 16:49 - Scribblenauts DC Unmasked. Still need to get around to downloading Unlimited on Steam. :D
  • 17:07 - Disney's Planes? Is that the direct to video Cars spin-off? That's even worse than a regular licensed game.
  • 17:18 - Another Skylanders. Man, this line-up is decidedly lacking.
  • 17:34 - Splinter Cell Blacklist. Didn't expect that. I wonder if they'll be reviving the GBA connectivity stuff for the control pad. :)
  • 17:42 - First time I've seen Sonic Lost world in action. Looks quite reminiscent of Sonic X-treme, that canned Saturn game actually.
  • 17:48 - I really hope it turns out well though. Goodness knows the Wii U needs some decent exclusives.
  • 17:57 - Watch Dogs - Ubisoft really representing on the Wii U. I can't imagine this will be the version to get though.
  • 18:04 - And that's the sizzle reel. Hard to believe we're still only in the first year of the Wii U. That's usually the kind of token third-party support you get a few years into a Nintendo console's run.
  • 18:20 - Some indie stuff now it seems.
  • 18:56 - Or just some eShop stuff in general. Of course Capcom would have to put out a Duck Tales remake after I've shelled out €20 for a  crappy PAL NES copy. :)
  • 19:12 - Well, that's new: Oddworld: New & Tasty. Is that the remake of the first game?

  • 19:41 - Oh, A World of Keflings. Played the demo for the first one on XBLA. Pretty fun. That giant Mii looks way stranger than a giant avatar though.
The infinite power of the cloud compels you to hit that jump.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Microsoft's E3 Media Briefing 2013: Not-so-live Impressions

It's E3 week again and as always Microsoft were up first with their conference on Monday. On the back of their poorly-received console unveiling last month, they were promising "games, games, games" for this thing, as well as the return of a "historic" Rare franchise. After complaining about the lack of both for several years now, I felt compelled to tune into this one. Who knows, maybe they'd pull something out of the bag that'd sell me on the Xbox One in the same way their early output sold me on the Xbox 360. Or maybe they'd just bore me to tears as usual.

I tuned into Gamespot's stream on Monday night to find out. Ball's in your court now, Don:
  • -:--:-- - Oh, geez two hours and sixteen minutes! If this goes down any like I'm expecting it to, this is going to be a loooong night.
  • -:--:-- - Currently being treated to music I can only describe as being halfway between Braid and Assassin's Creed. No conference yet though.
  • -:--:-- - Another hot banger; I think I need to skip ahead a bit here.
  • -:--:-- - Oh, there's a bit of a Gamespot pre show this time. I've actually been quite enjoying the couple of episodes of Gameplay I've listened to since the Xbone reveal, but I think I'd rather just get this over with as soon as possible. :D
  • 0:01:32 - Okay, here we go. Call of Duty first or last I wonder? because they'll definitely show it again, Xbone and dog jokes be damned.
  • 0:02:06 - Looks like Gamespot may have jumped the gun a bit by cutting to the stage now. Nothing happening yet.
  • 0:03:35 - The screen's come to life with visions of the controller and the console; I guess it's about to start. I really hope Sony do better with their box. That thing still looks fugly.
  • 0:05:34 - STILL NOTHING. But on the plus side, that means less time for the actual conference. I'd like to not think of that as a plus, but this is Microsoft we're talking about.

  •  0:07:10 - An ESRB rating. It must be starting this time. Also, can I point out how weird ratings on game footage continues to be? At least they aren't age gating these. Yet.
  • 0:07:18 - Sounds like the Microsoft employees are out in full force. :)

  • 0:07:32 -  Ooh, Konami. Looks like a Phantom Pain trailer. Got to admit, I know virtually nothing about this game.
  • 0:07:58 - Yes, of course Kojima Productions. Geez audience, what did you expect it to be? Pro Evolution Adventures?
  • 0:08:42 - Wow, that was some award-winning dialogue there, Kojima. Looks great though.
  • 0:08:57 - An open world MGS will probably be pretty cool. Is it just me or is the weird fast-forwarding combined with the bullet points here super-dumb?
  • 0:10:04 - A whole section obscured by dust? Licensed watches? Okay, I'm pretty sure Kojima is just trolling now, or at least fishing for GIFs. Uh, maybe this isn't the strongest foot to start the conference on, Microsoft. Unless this is an Xbox One exclusive...
  • 0:10:10 - Realistic passage of time - just like Ocarina of Time. In 1998.
  • 0:10:20 - "Deeper stealth action". What does that even mean?

  • 0:11:31 - Also starring: Tidus. Man, hearing Jack Bauer's voice coming out of Snake is really weird.
  • 0:11:54  - And introducing: Quantic Dream's old-ass man from the PS4 reveal.
  • 0:12:57 - No just cause? Fuck you, Avalanche. Have to admit that that's a pretty rad song.
  • 0:13:38 - Explosion count: 0. good job, Kojima!

  • 0:13:56 - Kojima's back. And Mattrick. Whoop-de-doo.
  • 0:14:29 - I'm Hideo Kojima and I approve of this message. Wow, that was embarrassing. Doesn't seem to be exclusive though. E3 Hype Train!
  • 0:14:44 - 13 exclusives? Already down 2 already then from what they said in May.
  • 0:14:50 - WTF Microsoft employees? Stop missing your cues!
  • 0:15:02 -  A 360 section? Anything besides the Fable remake, I wonder? I could see a Halo 2 anniversary edition. Maybe a couple of XBLA games?

  • 0:15:10 - Great, this guy. TV, anyone?
  • 0:15:39 - Yep, the 360 redesign is happening.
  • 0:15:49 - Available today! Uh, I really don't think many people are going to care at this point.
  • 0:15:56  - "We're going to make your Xbox live gold membership better too." By making it free? Like it should be anyway.
  • 0:16:31 - Of course not! Here, have some old games. Actually, this might be potentially cool. At least if you could manage to get a six month membership card on the cheap. Otherwise it would be probably be cheaper to go used (while you still can). Not sure I'd want to risk auto renewals getting switched back on either.
  • 0:16:50 - Literally hundreds of games coming to 360 over the next few years. So why should I upgrade again, Microsoft? :)
  • 0:17:23 - 3 new 360 games. Sounds like League of Legends is one.

  • 0:18:08 - What?
  • 0:19:04 - World of Tanks? Really? What? Why?

  • 0:19:29 - Can't believe they're giving this stage time. Holy shit, Microsoft.
  • 0:20:20 - You know, I have a super-bad feeling that Fantasia is the third game.
  • 0:21:11 -  Oh. Max and the Magic Marker 2. Yeah, I think Microsoft bought these guys.

  • 0:21:16 - Those crazy Danes.
  • 0:21:34 - That sure is some impressive voice acting.
  • 0:22:19 - Can't say I'm excited for this. Fuck that first game.
  • 0:22:32 - Dark Souls 2? Pretty much everything I hear about these makes me not want to play them. Still, I'm kind of curious to give one a try. Probably not going to be this version whatever it is though.

  • 0:23:52 - Yep. And now, Phil Spencer.
  • 0:24:09 - Well, if there's a new Killer Instinct it's going to be here. Can't wait for it to be Grabbed by the Ghoulies Kinect. :D
  • 0:24:21 - More titles in development than any time in Xbox history? Well, wouldn't be hard to top the last three years anyway.
  • 0:24:41 - Indies notably absent there.
  • 0:25:05 - First game. Looks like this might be Ryse.
  • 0:25:47 - Yep. Wasn't this a Kinect game. Wasn't this the TV kicking game?

  • 0:26:47 - Half expecting Spartacus and co. to turn up and murder these fools.
  • 0:27:31 - The Normandy Landing: Rome Edition.
  • 0:28:12 - The good news? Looks like this isn't for Kinect anymore. The bad? The combat (at least) seems to consist entirely of quick time events.
  • 0:29:09 - Shields! Arrows! This looks terrible.
  • 0:29:43 - "In the interest of time" What?! Our gameplay is so boring and long-winded we decided to skip it?
  • 0:30:07 - I'd have considered a Sparta joke there, but I'm just flabbergasted that this piece of shit is what they're leading with.
  • 0:30:37 - Walking seems to be real-time at least. Awesome.
  • 0:32:17 - And they're even bringing a Crytek guy on to talk about it?

  • 0:33:00 - Oh man! It's true. Freaking Killer Instinct. Loved the first game, but if Microsoft think this is going to be a huge launch title they're smoking some potent shit.
  • 0:33:07 - They got the KI announcer back! That's pretty cool.

  • 0:33:40 - Hmmm, can't say that footage looked all that great. Those new character designs look...rough.
  • 0:33:57 - ...and FUSE. Wait, where's everyone going? So I guess they've signed up Insomniac for an exclusive.
  • 0:34:31 - Sunset Overdrive. Another shooter, but with a name like that, it's got to be something at least marginally different.
  • 0:34:58 - Sounds like a multi player, open world shooter with new challenges and the like being added regularly. You know, thanks to the INFINITE POWER OF THE CLOUD.
More after the jump, in the cloud!

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's a Random Game Pic Fiesta!

So, for some reason I've ended up amassing a folder of random, unused screen shots and other gaming junk on my hard drive. Let's go through it.

If we're going by when when all of these were taken, this is certainly the oldest picture of the bunch. It's er, a bunch of SNES manuals and a couple of promotional posters spread out on my bed in 1997..., ladies.

Here's screenshot of I took of Mario Galaxy 2 in November after clearing the Grandmaster Galaxy for the first time. I was going to post this on twitter to show off until I found out that there are in fact 242 stars to collect, the last one requiring you to navigate the same hellish galaxy without taking a single hit. Eep!

Less explainable are these two off-screen photos I took of the results screens for Zone of the Enders...

..and Onimusha after I beat them last year. I suppose an A rank is something of a novelty for me when it comes to Japanese games of this era, but what was I going to do with these? Send them into Nintendo Power?

Something cool I found while carrying out my big clear out in 2011: the original receipt for a GameCube memory card I bought on eBay. Man, £14.99 for 128 KB of storage. Those things really were daylight fucking robbery. :D

Because he's worth it: Resident Evil 4 running in PCSX2, which I've been screwing around with lately. Glad I didn't spring for RE4 HD when it was on sale a few months ago now.

Speaking of screwing (around). :D This is a shockingly not a real game, but something I whipped up for a GAF thread a few years ago involving randomly generated video game titles.

Here we have a trio of screenshots from the PC version of Virtua Fighter, a game I've had since 2005, but another one that I've never been able to play properly. First I couldn't get to grips with the keyboard controls, then when I finally got a 360 controller, the newer PC I had at the time was running the game at an insane speed, but only for the first round of each fight for some reason. I must have taken these by accident while running FRAPS to investigate the problem, one I've yet to solve I'm afraid.

And on the subject of unsolvable problems, take a look at this shit. Granted, I may have been over-thinking things, but this is the ridiculous solution I had to come up with to progress in one of the last levels of Max and the Magic Marker on PC, a game that sounded neat in concept, but proved to be a huge slog to get through.

Yep. Pretty much sums things up.

The stairwell shotgun strikes again. Pretty sure this is from Max Payne 2, which I probably booted up last year to set it up for widescreen, took this and then completely forgot about playing it afterwards.

Not so easily forgotten: Postal 2.

These are a few screen shots I took back when I was doing the Backlog Assault stuff. Even though I had decided not to include any games I had bought and finished within the year, I was going to make an exception for this to "set the record straight" on it, but I realised that I just didn't have much to say about really. It's certainly not the abomination of a game some publications made it out to be back in the day, just a pretty middling shooter that trades in crude humour that's neither as shocking as it was made out to be by the press, or as funny as the developer probably thought it was it is. Oh, and speaking of which...

Man, those guys sure are crazy.

More accidental FRAPS screens from Audiosurf,...

...and the intro to SiN. Hey, wasn't there supposed to be an Audiosurf sequel coming out? I'd be much more excited to hear about that next week than the bloody Xbone. Sorry, Don.

Another Steam screencap, this time for Eternity's Child, a once WiiWare-bound title I picked up in a Steam Sale a few years ago. Not a great game unfortunately, but I do really like the artwork.

And finally, a couple of shots I took of the first Penny Arcade Adventures episode back in January, I guess to show off the character I made. Again I have no idea what venue I was planning to show this off in. As for the game itself, I thought it was pretty tedious, and to be honest, I can't remember even cracking a smile at any of the writing. Good thing I still have Episode 2 to get through, eh?