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August 2009

Sony Announces God Of War Collection

Kratos After teasing the possibility several months ago in a survey of prospective products, Sony has officially announced a God of War two-pack for the Sony PlayStation 3.  Last generation's God of War and God of War II for the PlayStation 2 are on the way to the PS3 in time for the holidays with a full modern generation makeover.  Sony's own PlayStation Blog has the news.

FOSTER CITY, Calif., September 1, 2009 – Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) announced today a new and exclusive PlayStation®3 (PS3™) offering for the critically acclaimed God of War® franchise, God of War® Collection. Scheduled for release this holiday season, God of War Collection will feature reworked versions of both God of War® and God of War® II on a single Blu-ray Disc™ at full 1280 x 720 resolution. Both critically acclaimed games, which were originally developed for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, have been remastered with anti-aliased graphics running at 60 frames per second for a smooth gameplay experience on the PS3 system. Additionally, the Blu-ray Disc compilation will bring PlayStation®Network (PSN) trophy support to the franchise for the first time (included for both games). God of War Collection offers substantial value to PS3 consumers, the compilation of both best-selling games costing just $39.99 MSRP.

Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment, Santa Monica Studio, the God of War series brings epic mythological battles to life with stunning graphics and an elaborate plot that puts Kratos, the triology’s main character, at the center of carnage and destruction as he seeks revenge against the Gods who have betrayed him. God of War® III is scheduled for release exclusively on the PS3 in March 2010.

All that and trophies, too!  Speaking as someone who has heard a lot of good things about the God of War series but has never actually played one of Kratos's adventures, here's another title I have to cram into my busy fourth quarter gaming plans.  I hereby proclaim that this has to be the final high profile video game coming before 2010 because my wallet and free time just can't take much more of this.

Anticipating Marvel vs Capcom 3's New Characters

Marvel and CapcomCapcom's recent re-release of Marvel vs Capcom 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 has apparently been selling very well, and that sort of thing tends to get people talking about the possibility of a sequel.  The current installment of the series features a mind-blowing fifty-six characters in its roster of fighters, but there's always room for more.  Allow me to share a few characters from the Capcom and Marvel worlds that I believe would fit nicely in a battle with Mega Man or Magneto.




Sidekick to Mega Man X and eventually star of his own series, the red robot with the stylish ponytail and sharp sword is a natural to stand up against the other bladed battlers in the Marvel vs Capcom world.  Equip him with a few specialized techniques and turn him loose against the likes of Wolverine, Silver Samurai, and Strider Hiryu.  As for his super move, don't Reploids and other related robots have a bad habit of going Maverick? 

Continue reading "Anticipating Marvel vs Capcom 3's New Characters" »

Weekly Poll: Bright Days For Dark Knights

Weekly Poll for 8-24-2009Here's an early welcome to those of you preparing to enter the world of the Sony PlayStation 3 thanks to its lower price.  You have a lot to play if you want to catch up, so you'd better get started on PS3 exclusives from the back-catalog such as Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, LittleBigPlanet, and Fat Princess.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of you out there already have a PS3 though.  You're in good company!  Lower prices help stimulate industry competition, so here's hoping that we're at the start of a fantastic second half of this console generation no matter which console(s) you have in your home.  There are plenty of creative projects on the way from a variety of proven developers, so clear your schedule and bulk up your bank account.

Speaking of fantastic industry products, the recently released Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 has made some impressive waves and raves among critics and Bat-fans alike.  It's been earning high rating scores (Metacritic's aggregate is 91, while TestFreaks compiles the scores as 8.7).  What do you think?  Does it live up to the hype as the best Batman game ever or are you still carrying a torch for Acclaim's 16-bit take on Batman Forever?  Let's hear your thoughts. 

Kombo Breaker - Episode 42: Just Following (Alpha) Protocol

Kombo BreakerThe end of another week brings a fresh episode of Kombo Breaker, and this week we meet with our shadowy contact in a foreign marketplace to discuss the upcoming Alpha Protocol for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 from Sega.  Join us as we convince Matthew Rorie from Obsidian Entertainment to share the secrets of combat RPG espionage in a forty-minute debriefing.  Discover what prospective agents need to know about dialog systems, playing as a female character (or, rather, why you can't), and approaching objectives with the skills of James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer.  Download the show directly from Kombo in MP3 format or subscribe via iTunes (and how about you leave a review there afterward, hmm?). 

Arkham Asylum Collector Edition Issue Drives Bat-Fans Crazy

Batarang Special collector edition of major games all very popular this generation, what with the Spartan helmets and Slimer statues and what-not.  It's not surprising that Warner Bros. and Eidos would want to get in on the action with the recently released Batman: Arkham Asylum, but the big batarang model included in the $100 edition isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  Instead of finding a pristine metal model in the box as advertised, the actual batarang is made of scratched, worn plastic.  I know!  It's crazy!  Kombo has the details from across the Internet.

Ars Technica reports that the skull-cracking weapon of the Dark Knight is not in itself all that it's cracked up to be. For you see, despite being two inches bigger than originally advertised, Ars learned that "the batarang was actually made from cheap black plastic that was scratched to hell."

Plastic, I can understand to some degree, but for $40 more than the regular game, you sort of hope for something of significantly higher quality. As for the scratches, it turns out those are deliberate, added to make the device look well-worn and used, as though it had struck many a thug in the head or knocked countless pistols from the hands of armed hoodlums.

Ars notes that this is "something which sounds fine based on the promotional images Eidos used. The photo from Eidos makes the batarang look like it's constructed of metal and is has a relatively smooth texture.  This is clearly far from the truth."

What a disappointment.  I love a good display piece, but something about this particular collector edition had my Spidey-sense tingling (if I may mix my superhero franchise metaphors), so I'm glad I passed on it.  There was a batarang from the collector edition on display back at E3 and it certainly looked metallic to me, but it's also noted that it's not possible to remove the batarang from the display pedestal without breaking it.  I find myself wondering if someone involved with the production of the batarang realized that it wasn't a good idea to sell a sharp metal weapon that's just begging to be thrown, so cold feet and common sense changed the design to plastic and melded the base to the display piece. 

(Image via Ars Technica)

Big Gaming Sale At Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!It's been a while since packed their daily Gold Box sale with video games, so we're overdue for some good deals.  The sale is back for today only with deals on The Sims 3 for $30 and well as hourly price drops on EA Active as well as sports titles featuring golf, football and skiing.  Hmm... looks more like an Electronic Arts Gold Box day than a general gaming day.  Still, every purchase you make through the green link here helps to support PTB, so why not pick up that lingering athletics game you've had your eye on before the holiday gaming rush hits?

Mega Man 8, Mega Man: Powered Up Remade In 8-Bit Style?

Mega Man: Powered Down Some would argue that Capcom's classic series of Mega Man games lost some magic when it moved beyond what the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System could offer.  After all, why else would last year's Mega Man 9 have dipped back into the old beloved style?  Even if all new future Mega Man games follow on in the 8-bit tradition, there's still a handful of Mega Man games for more sophisticated hardware such as Mega Man 8 and Mega Man: Powered Up that are forever doomed to being more animated and colorful.  Unless, of course, you turn to the fans who are apparently working on remaking some of these classic games in the NES style.  The same team that turned the Super NES title Mega Man 7 into a NES-type game and is currently giving the same treatment to the Sony PlayStation / Sega Saturn title Mega Man 8, Mend, just may be working on such a project if this sample screenshot of a conceptual NES-style Mega Man: Powered Up (er, Down?) is to be believed, and there's also talk of similar treatments of Mega Man & Bass and the Wily Tower segment of The Wily Wars under consideration.  Considering how closely their Mega Man 7 re/demake hit the mark, I welcome additional adaptations.  I still want to see Mega Man 2: Powered Up, but this will hold me until then.

Here's a taste of Mend's previous work as Mega Man takes on Junk Man in Mega Man 7.

(via Protodude's Rockman Corner)

Linux On PS3 Slim Isn't Cost Effective

PS3 SlimAre you still curious why the new smaller, cheaper Sony PlayStation 3 does not support the optional installation of Linux as its larger, older brother?  It's not because Sony wants to stifle independent development or put the hurt on free software.  Like so many other things in the world of big business, updating the OtherOS function to work with the new PS3 just wasn't cost effective.  Games I Like did a little digging and came up with some interesting yet understandable answers from the PlayStation 2 Linux community.

The PS3 Slim is a major cost reduction involving many changes to hardware components in the PS3 design. In order to offer the OtherOS install, SCE would need to continue to maintain the OtherOS hypervisor drivers for any significant hardware changes - this costs SCE. One of our key objectives with the new model is to pass on cost savings to the consumer with a lower retail price. Unfortunately in this case the cost of OtherOS install did not fit with the wider objective to offer a lower cost PS3.  We'll see if we can get the offical OtherOS page updated with something to this effect so that an official explanation is provided.

Driving down the production costs of the PS3 meant that there was no money to spare for updating a little-used function of the console.  The OtherOS isn't going away entirely though.  Any current PS3 that offers the function will not lose it through a future firmware update or other sinister system tweak.  Again, sorry to see it go from the new hardware, but it's an justifiable cutback.   

PS3 Ghostbusters Patched At Last

It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow ManUPDATE: It looks like the patch isn't the solution we wanted after all. 

It looks like I'll have to revisit the Shandor cult, as Atari has announced an update for the Sony PlayStation 3 version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game to bring it in line with the Microsoft Xbox 360's technical capabilities.  Joystiq has word that the questionable use of visual filters that made the game perform in slightly less than high definition have been tweaked and a few bugs have been, well, busted.  I really hope that this patch fixes the freezing glitches and the issue where the game sometimes forgets save data, scanned ghosts, and collected paranormal objects.  If those problems have been solved once and for all, then I wouldn't mind revisiting my review of the game over at Kombo.  I don't know if we've ever rescored a game based on a patch, now that I think about it.  I'll have to look into that.  Anyway, the patch is apparently available now through the usual update method.

Where's Nintendo's B-Team?

Star Fox Assault Nintendo has been generous this console generation with Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid, but that's not enough for those of us who recall the glory days of memorable franchises busting out all over.  Kombo's Brian Langlois wants to know where Kirby, F-Zero, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, 1080 Snowboarding, Custom Robo, Wave Race, and Kid Icarus are in this wonderful Wii world of ours.

While I have been referring to these games as B-List titles, I mean that in the nicest sense. It's only because they are not Mario, Zelda, or Metroid that I call them this, because they all have been truly great games in the past, just not as widely recognized as the big name titles. I for one have always enjoyed these games, sometimes even having more fun with them than the A-Listers. F-Zero was definitely one of the best killer-apps of the SNES launch, and the franchise has only improved (on consoles anyway). Star Fox certainly came into it's own one the N64, becoming an instant classic. I know that the more recent games in the series haven't exactly been up to par with that game, they're still solid titles. Maybe it's time to see Star Fox reclaim its glory on Wii? The control scheme certainly lends itself to that type of game. Let's just keep it in-house this time, Nintendo, and everything should work out fine.

Credit where credit is due: Nintendo has revived some long lost B- and C-team franchises this generation such as Punch-Out!! and Excite [Vehicle Name].  As much as I'd love to see new installments of Star Fox and F-Zero, I've come to the point now where I understand that the modern Nintendo has different interests and priorities than the Nintendo of, say, fifteen or even five years ago.  Considering how the company has reinvented itself with the Wii, I'm just glad to see that Mario, Link, and Samus Aran still have a place as franchise all-stars.  I suppose I've gone through an attitude adjustment in the past year or so, but I'm reaching the Acceptance phase of the five stages of gamer grief.

The Five Stages of Gamer Grief: Complain, Petition, Distraction, Acceptance, GameStop