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December 2008

November 2008

Cheap Sonic Unleashed Opportunity Today Only

Sonic the Werehog Although Kombo hasn't published my review yet (you'd think it was a holiday weekend here in the United States or something), I regret to inform you that the Nintendo Wii version of the Sonic Unleashed experience is not worth the $50 price tag.  However, it is worth a $30 price tag, and that's just the price is selling the game for today along with a $26(!) asking price for the Microsoft Xbox 360 version and a mere $15 for the Sony PlayStation 2 version, all of which are tremendous deals that suddenly make the game much more attractive.  Those are all low risk prices for a game that does have some bits of pure classic Sonic the Hedgehog blue sky sunny speed moments of absolute joy.  The yet-to-be-released PlayStation 3 version of the game isn't included in the sale, but three our of four major discounts isn't so bad.

Kombo's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008

Kombo's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008 The turkey leftovers aren't even fully devoured yet and it's already time to focus on the holiday shopping season.  It doesn't matter that nobody has any money in our modern sour economy.  Every dollar counts this year, which means choosing which games to buy as presents for friends and loved ones is all the more important.  There's no need to risk your hard-earned money on a sixty dollar dud, however.  Over at Kombo we've come up with a list of recommended games for your shopping needs across a variety of categories such as "For the Gamer who wants to be Scared" and "For the Gamer who Loves a Good Story" among the more traditional Action/Adventure labels.  I wrote the little text blurbs for some of the entries which I feel is worth mentioning because I can be a shameless self-promoter at times.

Are You Man Or Woman Enough To Fight With Me?

M. Bison Capcom has finally unleashed Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade.  A co-worker and I dueled yesterday evening via PSN where I soundly defeated him 6-1 (it turns out that he didn't know he could use the control stick instead of just the cumbersome control pad for some reason, but I like to think that my skills are just that good).  Now I seek new challenges.  If you'd like to play a few rounds of Street Fighter against me, feel free to send me an invite.  My PSN ID is MattG-PTB.  Anyone who opposes me will be destroyed!

Have Faith In Faith

Faith How do you depress a game producer?  Just take his team's new character and give her a boob job, among other things.  Some folks out there apparently don't find Mirror's Edge heroine Faith attractive enough, meaning that someone had to break out PhotoShop and give Faith a makeover to bring her more in line with what one expects a stereotypical female game character to be.  MTV Multiplayer's Stephen Totilo asked Mirror's Edge producer Tom Farrer about his thoughts on Faith's supposed upgrade.

“I remember when I first had that image sent to me. To be honest, I found it kind of sad. We’ve spent time in developing Faith. And the important thing for us was that she was human, that she was more real. We really wanted to get away from the typical portrayal of women in games, that they’re all just kind of tits and ass in a steel bikini. We wanted her to look athletic and fit and strong [enough] that she could do the things that she’s doing. We wanted her to be attractive, but we didn’t want her to be a supermodel. We wanted her to be approachable and far more real. It was just kind of depressing that someone thinks it would be better if Faith was a 12-year-old with a boob job. That was kind of what that image looked to me.”

We don't see much of Faith in Mirror's Edge as a full 3D character model.  After all, the game is played through her eyes, meaning that during gameplay we mainly just see her hands and feet from time to time.  Cinematics feature a fluid 2D animated style.  Compare that to Lara Croft of Tomb Raider where the player spends most of the gameplay transfixed on Lara's 3D rear end by design.  Lara has the jiggle factor, sure, but she has never felt like a "real" character to me.  Faith comes across more like an actual person than any Lara Croft sort of character could ever hope to be (ability to leap from rooftop to rooftop aside).  Gawking at large assets can be fun sometimes, but characters that are aiming to be realistic and approachable are, in my view at least, always more interesting and attractive.

Awesome Mega Man 9 Music Remixes Go Heavy On Concrete Shot

Concrete ShotThe music behind the Mega Man series — particularly the original 8-bit melodies — is some of the best gaming music of all time.  The songs are catchy and memorable, yet deceptively simple.  They're also great source material for remixes.  A Mega Man fan by the name of Fredrik Larsson has been hard at work on giving the music of Mega Man 9 some kickass tweaking, and now we get to enjoy the results in this video that mixes the music with impressive gameplay performances through most of the game's levels (including the final boss, so consider yourself warned if you're still avoiding spoilers after all this time).

I had no idea that Concrete Man's weapon was so versatile.  This explains how some people can clock in with some amazingly short Time Attack times.  My play style is way to cautious and conservative to pull off some of the maneuvers seen here.

(via Kombo)

Funeral For A Friend

Funeral For A Friend Normally I'd find this kind of thing silly and pointless, but for some reason today the concept of holding a funeral for a dead game console made me smile.  When GameSpot community member Tiggerboy lost his fourth Microsoft Xbox 360 to the dreaded Red Ring of Death, he decided to send the console out in style with a memorial service attended by a variety of other game consoles and character models.

The rain was comforting today.  Xbox 360 the Fourth's funeral was held yesterday, November 20th in our home. It was a lovely funeral.  Many systems showed up for the funeral. Some couldn't make it, but sent their condolences.  Even though the system wars rage on, when a system passes, for a moment the wars stop, and soldiers give peace to even their most sworn enemies. It's all about respect.

Rest in peace, Xbox 360.  Ashes to ashes, dust covers to dust covers.

(via Fark)

Coping With The Backlog Of Doom

That's–that's not fair. That's not fair at all. There was time now. There was, was all the time I needed... ! It's not fair! How many video games do you have on your shelf?  Wow, that many?  Well, alright then, how many have you actually played for a decent amount of time?  Wait, what do you mean that most of them are still sealed in the original plastic wrapping?  So you have all of those games and you haven't found the time to explore them yet?  How do you deal with it all?  Maybe you should go ask the hive mind at Ask Metafilter for advice like this fellow did.

I have somehow found myself in a situation where I own over 60 games, for a variety of platforms, that I have played either not at all or for only a couple of hours.  The thing is, I don't consider myself a collector at all; I don't get any real enjoyment out of just owning the games. Most of them were originally bought because I read that they had good stories (a lot of these games are lengthy console RPGs, which makes the situation even worse), and because they were either at a cheaper than usual price. There are also quite a few games I have bought because they only rarely show up for sale these days.

I had full intentions of playing most of the games at the time I bought them, but because I tend to complete games very slowly they have gradually piled up. This has eventually resulted in my current situation, which I am quite unhappy about.  I'm now trying to rein back my spending, but I still have the backlog to deal with.  I was thinking of selling off a lot of them. There are a few problems with this however: it would be a lot of time and effort, and I tend to have fears (irrational, I know, but still there) that any game I sell will suddenly increase in value in the future. I also have a constant niggling worry that any game I sell would have turned out to be a great experience that I would have really enjoyed.

I suppose I could also make a massive push to play through them all, but when I think how long this would take (as mentioned, there are a lot of long RPGs amongst the games) I just feel defeated. Individually I would like to play all of these games, but as a mass it is just too daunting. I think I would probably end up using a lot of game guides and rushing through a lot of them, which I fear would make something I do for enjoyment feel too much like work.  I'm curious if anyone has ever been in a situation like this (although I admit it is somewhat unusual), or just has any advice on how I should proceed. I really would like to get on top of this...

Fear not, fearthehat.  You're not the only one with a stack of games that have yet to be fully explored (or even unwrapped).  I have a number of games that I fully intend to get around to playing someday, so the way that I see it is that somewhere down the line — years or even decades, hopefully — some event will severely alter my routine.  It could be devastating illness or injury or it could be something more extreme like the collapse of our civilized society.  Personally, I'm hoping for peaceful retirement.  Either way, at some point I'll have plenty of time to hang around the house with not much to do and no drive or reason to go outside very often.  That's when I'll break out the backlog and get to work.  I call it the "Time Enough At Last" scenario.

Cute Castlevania Comics

Castlevania comic Daily newspaper comics aren't quite the popular art form that they used to be.  Gone are the days when one could open the paper each morning to read a fresh installment of Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, or The Far Side.  Even FoxTrot has scaled back to only one new comic per week.  We still have Dilbert, thank goodness, but what could possibly save the comics page from irrelevant oblivion?  What about a Castlevania comic strip that downplays the angst and bloody tears in favor of pratfalls and gags from Richter Belmont, Maria Renard, and even new heroine Shanoa?  Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.  As part of a promotional push for this year's pair of new Castlevania games, Order of Ecclesia and Judgment, a series of quirky Castlevania comics by humorist Shizumon have been brought over from Japan and translated into English.  Can Castlevania jokes work on an international level? Click here to launch a Castlevania web widget, then hit the Comics tab to see for yourself.  For some reason I'm reminded of the little comic strips I used to draw in early elementary school that were all based around unexplained in-jokes from my own life.

David Crane Talks Ghostbusters

David Crane With all the attention being lavished on the upcoming Ghostbusters video game for modern consoles there has been a little upswing in attention being paid to the original 1984 Ghostbusters game for the Commodore 64.  Developer David Crane created the game in a mere six weeks (which was a horrendously short amount of time even by mid-1980s game development standards), and while it's fondly remembered today by those of us who grew up with the C64-generated "Ghostbusters!" speech clip, today's newer gamers may not understand what made the Ghostbusters game such a triumph.  It's time for a little history lesson as Crane himself explains what went into the making of the game and why it's so enjoyable in this clip of Computer Chronicles from January 1985 provided by Ghostbusters.Net.

At the end of the clip Crane is asked where he sees games going in the future.  As history has disappointingly shown us, the answer according to Crane is his 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System adventure A Boy and His Blob and we all know how that one turned out.

(via Fark)