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July 2012

Rumored God Of War Saga Collection Surfaces

KratosUPDATE: Sony makes it official.

By my count there have been five God of War games released for the Sony PlayStation family of hardware with a sixth, God of War: Ascension, on the way.  The first two games in the series for the Sony PlayStation 2 were given a high definition upgrade in 2009 and released for the PlayStation 3 as God of War Collection.  Two PlayStation Portable titles, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, were also given the PS3 treatment under the name God of War Origins Collection in 2011.  2010's God of War III is available as a standalone PS3 title.  Every PlayStation game in the franchise is available for the PS3, so imagine my surprise when I read at Siliconera that Sony may be working on another compilation known as God of War Saga Collection that is slated for release in just a few weeks.  What's left for the company to repackage?

A retail mole has told Siliconera that God of War Saga Collection is in the works. No, this isn’t God of War Collection or God of War Origins Collection, this is yet another compilation of God of War games. What games are in this? We should find out soon since God of War Saga Collection is slated for a late August release.

This could be related to the God of War Omega Edition that popped up online earlier this year as a European release.  Sony loves to revisit Kratos's greatest hits, but I think it's time to give him a rest until his next new adventure is ready.  It seems reasonable that Saga Collection is a repackaging of most (if not all) of the God of War titles available for PS3 that are already on the market as part of other compilations or standalone releases.  I know that a quality God of War game takes time to develop and that the series brings in immense profits for everyone involved with it, but by the time we get to re-releases of re-released games, things become a bit ridiculous.  Maybe Sony will go above and beyond and include the mobile phone installment that nobody ever remembers, 2007's God of War: Betrayal, into the box in some form.  At least then there would be something comparatively new inside.  I don't like looking down on a product before it's even announced, but I just can't imagine what else could possibly be left in the God of War catalog to justify yet another compilation release.

Come to think of it, the only way this really makes sense to me is if it weren't a PS3 title at all, but something for the PlayStation Vita.  However, that's probably just wishful thinking.

EvilCast Recap - Episode 139

EvilCastMy pals over at the Games Are Evil's EvilCast asked me to sit in as a guest panelist for this week's episode of their show, so you'll find me joining Blake Grundman and Ross Polly to discuss four of the week's news items and outline what we've been playing in recent days.  You'll hear all about Zynga’s CEO being under investigation for insider trading allegations, how Windows 8 could be a ticking time bomb for PC gaming, Metacritic becoming a requirement for job applications, and the glut of pointless downloadable content.  We also cover our recent experiences with games like Need for Speed: The Run, Tony Hawk HD, and Spec Ops: The Line.  If you have an hour and forty minutes to spare, then we have the show for you.  You'll even find an update on upcoming plans for Power Button tucked away in there somewhere.  Head on over to GrE to download this episode.  Thanks to Blake and Ross as always for inviting me to join them.

Super Mario 64's Tick Tock Clock Coins Collected Quickly

How quickly can you collect one hundred coins in Super Mario 64's Tick Tock Clock for the Nintendo 64?  When I go into the clock at the top of Princess Peach's castle with an eye for coins, I have to plan out my route and be extremely careful not to fall into the bottomless abyss below the mechanical hazards.  Collecting those coins can take a while, but skilled player Batora has managed to beat the clock and snag all one hundred coins in just under one minute thanks to leaps of faith, reliance on luck, hefty doses of skill, and old fashioned confidence.  Watch this amazing feat of strength (completed without emulator tools, supposedly) and gasp at Batora's accomplishment.  I've seen some crazy Mario moves over the years, but this one had me twitching and trembling at the sheer brazenness of it all.

(via Reddit)

E3 To Remain In Los Angeles

E3There's been talk lately that the Entertainment Software Association was shopping around for another city in which to hold the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, as long-time host city Los Angeles was losing some of its luster.  Nearby hotels and restaurants had taken to gouging people in town for the show, plus the city had plans to demolish part of the Los Angeles Convention Center grounds to make way for a new stadium.  It's very difficult to hold a successful E3 amid ongoing construction, after all.  Who could blame the ESA for talking with places such as New York City, New Orleans, and Chicago?  However, as Polygon reports, the ESA has come to an agreement with Los Angeles that will keep the show in place for the next three years.

While the construction was chief among the issues discussed between the association and the Los Angeles Mayor, AEG and the convention center, the ESA also had other concerns, Gallagher said. The association had over recent years received complaints of what Gallagher described as "opportunism" at some of the venues around the convention center. Some of the hotels and restaurants in the area were hiking their prices for rooms or swapping out menus for high-priced meals, when the convention center rolled into town.

"If E3 is the highest return on investment trade show in LA we deserve better than that," Gallagher said.

So among the negotiating points with the three LA groups was a request for more hotel access for show attendees and a promise that restaurants wouldn't hike their prices for the week of the show, something the city, AEG and the convention center managed to guarantee.

"We worked through those issues on hotel access to ensure we would have access to more hotels at a higher quality and a fair price," Gallagher said. "And they agreed to avoid the gouging that we had received a few examples of."

The biggest concern, that looming construction, was also settled. The city, convention center and the backers of Farmers Field promised to put on hold any construction that would impact the show or the ability to access the convention center in the days surrounding E3.

I'm glad that the two groups were able to settle their issues and hopefully the new arrangement will allow for even better E3s.  The price of attending had become an issue in recent years (outrageous hotel costs are the reason why I chose not to attend this year), but if the city can make the local hotels keep their end of the bargain and the looming construction does not interfere with the show, then I can see E3 continue to thrive in its present location.  People have wanted to see it move to another city for a while and it would certainly be better for me not to have to fly all the way across the country to attend, but I'm not so sure that Chicago or New Orleans would have been a better fit.  Los Angeles may not be perfect, but it's worked pretty well so far in my experience, though I have to wonder just how serious the ESA was about moving the show.  This could all have been a negotiating tactic to secure a better deal from Los Angeles.  Either way, as long as the cost to attend drops a bit and construction doesn't impede convention center access, I'll be happy.

Weekly Poll: New Versus New Old

Weekly Poll for 7-23-2012Most of you who are capable of StreetPassing with your Nintendo 3DSs seldom pick up new tags.  I wish I had the opportunity to collect them more often.  Collecting puzzle pieces, advancing in Find Mii, and acquiring new in-game data for other titles is strangely addictive.  I collected two hundred tags at E3 2011 (which if you're going to collect them, that would be the place to do it!), one hundred tags at the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert (which, again, is an obvious place to try), and then seven tags this past weekend at a local arcade and pinball show.  That's most of my entire StreetPass career spelled out in three bursts.  I just don't encounter people with 3DSs out roaming in the while.  I snagged one tag at at the mall once.  That was a pretty good day.

Moving on, high definition remastered versions of beloved older titles have sold well this generation as classics like God of War, Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Halo, Banjo-Kazooie, Tony Hawk, and plenty of other games have returned looking better than ever to compete against new releases.  Would you rather buy a new game that's untested and may disappoint (but is a new experience) or a older title with a fresh coat of paint that you know you will like based on your past experience?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Rico Rodriguez Can't Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Sleeping DogsFans of 2009's Just Cause 2 who are planning to explore Square-Enix's Sleeping Dogs for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC can expect to find a little something extra waiting for them when the game launches in August. Since the company publishes both titles, there's a little cross-promotional synergy going on as Dogs protagonist Wei Shen can wear the traditional chaos-causing clothes belonging to Cause's Rico Rodriguez. Joystiq has the press release. Here's a piece:

Available in-game from launch, players browsing protagonist Wei Shen's safehouse wardrobe will gain access to a unique new player outfit... a Just Cause 2 clothes set. Featuring Rico Rodriguez' trademark look, players stepping out onto the streets of Hong Kong dressed as the King of Chaos will gain a distinct boost to their action hijack ability, allowing them to perform stunt-style takeovers of enemy vehicles from an even greater distance.  This exclusive Just Cause 2 clothes set will be available in-game from launch across all formats upon detection of a Just Cause 2 game save on the machine's hard drive.

I love these kinds of bonuses that reward players for keeping old save data around.  Players are rewarded for being loyal customers and get to enjoy fun nods to other products in a publisher's library.  The Ratchet and Clank series if the king of this sort of thing as far as I'm concerned (Mass Effect does better, but I'm not a fan), as its bonuses carry forward all the way through several of the titles in that series and provide cheap access to powerful weaponry.  Rico's outfit falls short of that sort of usefulness, but anything that gives players a benefit for playing other games is just fine with me.  Now, what kind of game save will I need to have in order to unlock Rico's trusty grappling hook and parachute?

Nintendo Preparing For Retro Super Mario Sale

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden CoinsNintendo has found success in selling beloved old Super Mario games on the 3DS eShop, and now the company is poised for extra success as it's announced that several Game Boy Mario titles (and one Nintendo Entertainment System classic) will be on sale for limited periods as part of the promotional build-up to the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2.  Starting this Thursday in North America (other regions subject to different dates and pricing) you'll be able to buy the original Super Mario Bros. for just $3.99.  Other games will follow.  Here's the schedule:

  • July 26 - Aug. 1: Super Mario Bros. - $3.99
  • Aug. 2 - Aug. 8: Super Mario Land - $2.99
  • Aug. 9 - Aug. 15: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins - $2.99
  • Aug. 16 - Aug. 22: Mario's Picross - $2.99

If nothing else, pick up Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins.  It's the strongest of the four and the one that has aged the best of the sale group.  Mario's Picross is my secondary recommendation, as it's a charmingly fun little puzzle game that's perfect for short play sessions.  Really, though, you can't go wrong with any of these games.  They're all winners, and saving a little money when purchasing one just adds an extra incentive to buy.

Rock Band iOS Apps Going Away For Real This Time

Rock Band ReloadedBack in May the Internet rallied in disgruntled frustration at Electronic Arts when the company's Rock Band app for iOS informed players that the game would cease to function at the end of the month.  That turned out to be a false alarm, but now the game and its successor, Rock Band Reloaded, are being discontinued at the end of July as EA's licensing agreement with Harmonix comes to an end.  Unlike last time, however, Rock Band and Reloaded will continue to work provided that you already own them.  EA has put together a little FAQ to explain what you will still be able to do with the content that Rock Band players have already purchased.  Here's the bottom line:

If you own a Rock Band game on your iOS device, you can play it, but you cannot purchase new songs after July 31, 2012. You can access your previously purchased songs.  If your previously purchased songs have been stored locally on your device before July 31, 2012, they will not be lost.  You will be able to restore your songs by iTunes provided you have an iCloud backup. An iCloud backup can be created before or after July 31 by selecting backup to iCloud in iTunes.

Nobody likes to see games retired and discontinued, but if it has to happen, then this is the right way to do it.  Those who bought the games will still be able to play them after the contract expires, purchased content can be backed up (to the cloud, no less), and you even have a week to go on a buying spree if you want before EA can no longer sell the product and its expansions.  May's discontinuation scare was the wrong way to go about preparing players for the end, but this new method works.

Get Your Mario Tennis Open Unlockables Here

Mario Tennis Open QR codes

Nintendo's Mario Tennis Open for the Nintendo 3DS may not be as packed with Mushroom Kingdom whimsy as its predecessors, but it's still a compelling little game.  Plenty of playable characters such as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and the rest of the traditional gang take to the courts, but Nintendo has included a few extra unlockable characters that must be activated with secret QR codes.  The company has been releasing these codes one at a time over several weeks, but now someone over at Reddit has compiled them all into a single image for your convenience.  Just load up the North American version of the game (other regions use different codes) and press Up and Start on the data file select screen.  That'll trigger the secret camera function.  Use the camera to scan the QR codes one at a time to unlock a rainbow of Yoshis, Metal Mario, and a special Yoshi costume for your Mii.  It's a fun way to unlock new content despite the heavy reliance on Yoshi.  At least the dinosaurs are all skilled in different tennis disciplines!

Time For Another Big Gaming Sale At Amazon

Buy somethin' will ya!Here we are at the height of summer in the northern hemisphere, and as the hot days tick by, we're left to deal with the lack of new AAA+ blockbuster titles hitting store shelves in large quantities as publishers save the big guns for the holiday shopping season.  What is there to buy now?  Why, titles you may have missed on sale for low prices.  Amazon is holding yet another of its video game Gold Box and Lightning Deal sale days where recently released titles go on and off discount all day long.  Brave is the game offered for cheap all day (at 50% off), while other titles teased include Max Payne 3 and several more (the clues are especially cryptic today).  Check 'em out and see if anything strikes your interest.  As always, any purchase made via the green link here goes to help support PTB, and that support is greatly appreciated.