Thursday, November 29, 2012

The insane past few months!

You know what.  I was going to type out a long email describing it but I'm just going to summarize.  I picked up Code of Princess, I got really sick, gamestop dropped my pre-order for the Wii U, I took the money for the Wii U and splurged on games, found out Walmart was doing in store layaway for the Wii U, got depressed I spent my money, my sister came out of nowhere and put one on layaway for me, mom got in a wreck but came out fine, she got 5000 dollars from the accident and decided to give me 300, I got 2 indie bundles and Steam and XBLA deals, spent my birthday alone playing games, me and my sis watched GSP's return and an epic fight that ended in victory, 10 minutes after that I picked up the Wii U, spent the next few days and thanksgiving setting up the Wii U and playing games, finally modded my Wii, went to food truck Tuesday and ate a real Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, got sick from eating food I knew I couldn't digest.

In Summary:

I got 145 games in October
I got 51 games in November
I got sick in October
I got sick in November
My Wii U pre-order got dropped
My sis got me a Wii U
GSP returned and won
Food trailers make delicious food but get me sick
My mom got in a wreck but she's fine and well compensated

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nintendo's Major Changes

I'm sure, by now, everybody has heard the many articles about how Nintendo is... or rather was doing.  What many people don't realize and the press rarely talks about is the major changes Nintendo has made in order to turn things around.  As one of the people that wrote into them and has seen the dramatic changes they've made in the past year or so, I'm actually really impressed and would like to write about it.  

The Email

Around the end of June/beginning of July last year, I was one of the many frustrated gamers that emailed Nintendo.  This was before Operation Rainfall officially formed but after news officially broke that Nintendo of Europe had Xenoblade ready to be shown at E3 but Nintendo of America didn't want to show games they had no intention of releasing.  Happening right off the heels of an E3 where the Wii U was being shown as a device that's supposed to be more for the core gamers, this didn't set well with me and many other gaming and RPG enthusiasts.  So I emailed them about the current situation they were in as a whole, not just the RPG's, in pretty specific detail.

My email:

“Wii was not accepted by core gamers because they did not want to abandon their preferred
control approach.”

“Additionally, Wii did not use HD because HD cost performance at the time was low.”

“Wii U makes it easier to use conventional controls. Also, the Wii U controller is not as big or
heavy as it looks.”

My comment in response to the above comments:

Wrong, those people that wouldn’t touch it because of the control or the graphics aren’t
hardcore gamers PERIOD. Those are the mainstream junkies that play maybe 1 or 2 games a

The hardcore gamers complaints were things like FRIENDCODES, low demo count for wiiware
games, no demos for retail and vc games, unstable online, no voice chat – then bad voice chat –
then lack of use for both voice chat devices, lack of real mii integration into the system, not
being able to communicate with random people through the net and make friends, small
storage and lack of integrating the SD card properly for storage, not supporting SD card music
in most games (only one did this), sloppy online shop set up (even the 3DS isn’t exactly
organized), and for the 3DS at least no communication between the people on your friends list.
Lets be serious, 3DS does fix a lot of things that the Wii had problems with, but not being able
to communicate between your friends is a slap back down to ground 0 in bad online set up. If
you want to fix your game sales and get the hardcore back, increase the space, start doing
demos, and fix your online. Making it so online communities can’t form and not letting people
try games before they buy them are your biggest faults, for hardware and features at least. It is
so sad that people can turn on there Wii, DSi, and 3DS and look up porn but can’t chat with
there friends, make new friends, and play game demo’s. At this day and age where the iphone
and ipad are creeping up on the console and handheld markets, you need to have these features
or you will fall behind.

My comments on the games not getting released in the US:

The core gamers are the ones who are campaigning to get games released in their region. If you
really want core gamers you would stop these PR mind games and stop ignoring your fans and
release the games people want. This includes Xenoblade and The Last Story in NTSC, Arc Rise
Fantasia in PAL, and Mother 3, Pandora's Tower, and Earth Seeker globally (as well as many other

Gamers are like hardcore movie goers. It's not about the genre, its about the quality. When we
see a quality product, we get it. There are a lot of people though including core gamers who
aren't convinced just at glancing at a product, reading about it, or seeing it in action and need
to try it before they drop money on it. This is where demo's come in. If you want game sales,
you need to make these games available, push knowledge for the games, and let people try
them out, not just the press. Demo's are essential to game sales, just look at how well stuff
does on Xbox Live. For system sales (at least for the hardcore) you need a strong, well rounded
game line up. This is where Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower come in as they're
all exclusive to this platform and are high quality experiences that the core gamers want, just
like Mother 3. To add to this, where is Earthbound? Why hasn't it hit the Virtual Console? Do you
not realize the demand for this game and the sales it would make?

What is happening right now is right on par with the PSN Network outages and 360 RROD. This
is a huge problem that needs to be fixed, not ignored and overlooked through a bad PR stunt.
How do you intend to sell the Wii U to the core when you're refusing to localize core games for
your current systems and ignoring the core gamers (and your own fans). I'm no Nintendo
company fan, I'm not a fan of any publication or console company. All the systems have their
strengths and weakness's and ultimately are there just to run the designers work. I however am a fan of Nintendo software, just as I am of Mistwalker software, Monolithsoft software, Blizzard
software, Bioware software, and MANY other great developers software. I want to support the
developers as it is their products that I purchase the sometimes expensive, unsecure,
underpowered, locked down, and/or faulty hardware to play them on. Hardware and publication
companies need to understand this, as most real gamers only real reason to purchase hardware
or support the publisher IS the software.

Their response:


Once again, I want to thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback regarding the Wii, Wii U, and those games that you'd like to see translated. I can certainly understand your thoughts on this matter and want you to know how much we appreciate you sending them in. I also want to assure you that your comments have been added to our records for these topics and made available for other departments at the company, all they way up to our executives at Nintendo Company, Ltd. in Japan.

I'm afraid I don't have any new information to share, but I do want to say that we're very aware of your last point that it's the games and the gaming experience that sell the systems. As we go further in to the life of the Nintendo 3DS and as we approach the launch of the Wii U, I hope you find that we're providing a gaming experience you find worthwhile.


Shawn Ford
Nintendo of America, Inc.

The Changes

The response seemed very standardized but shortly after, we seen major changes in just about every area I mentioned in that email.  First was the price drop on the 3DS which was the official moment when people who may of not realized what was really happening with Nintendo took notice.  The price drop came because of many reasons, none that really need to be discussed again but the move was intended to get its price in line for the holidays.  To compensate those who adopted the system early, they announced the Ambassador Program in which they gave away 10 NES games and 10 GBA games away.  To my knowledge, they are the only gaming company that has ever done this after a price drop and is above and beyond the level of compensation that other companies gave for much worse.

Soon after this though, they introduced Nintendo Direct which was basically their mini E3's.  The first one was all in Japanese and shown off a number of really big titles on the way, including 2 new Monster Hunter games for the 3DS.  This of course made a huge splash on holiday sales in Japan but it also had a huge effect on Nintendo globally.  They were shocked by the amount of people that tuned in and were overwhelmed by the amount of people that watched it internationally.  This was their first major step in communicating what they're doing and what's going on behind the scenes better with the fans and the gamers and it payed off very well.  3DS saw major success during the holidays, exceeding all expectations and drastically softening the blow of the predicted money loss.

This didn't just happen because of the price drop, it was also a number of changes and things they did right that made people interested again and got them taking a second look at their products.  Some of those changes were also listed in that email.  For the sake of shortening the article I'll just list what all Nintendo changed and did right:

  • Dropped the price of the 3DS to be in the range of what parents would buy for kids
  • Started doing Nintendo Directs to communicate with the gamers and fans to show what the future has in store
  • Got many of the games out people were wanting on both 3DS and Wii, including Xenblade, The Last Story, Kid Icarus, Resident Evil, Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D Land
  • Implemented Swapnote as a messaging system so people can finally communicate
  • Started pushing major eShop titles to really make people get connected and check out what all is in the systems online store
  • Started doing demos so titles that may not be as big or don't have the major following that the major Nintendo titles have can garner interest and get support
  • Tweeked the eShop to be easier to browse and find what you want
  • Introduced full downloadable games into Club Nintendo giving people more incentive to buy there games new
  •  Started doing summer sales on eShop games
  • Bundled different color and style 3DS's with major games to help pick up sales including a completely awesome Legend of Zelda limited edition 3DS bundle
These and many other things came as a complete surprise to me and made me regain a lot of lost faith in them.  Furthermore the changes coming with the Wii U touch just about everything I wrote and go well above and beyond that email.

  • Miiverse fully integrates Mii's into the system
  • Miiverse allows people to communicate easily and is all about the community
  • Wii U will have more then just voice chat, it'll have full on video chat
  • We'll have more storage options then ever before
  • It'll have a new Pro controller and full Wii Remote support to go along with the Pad controller
  • Nintendo TVii
  • Lots of praise from indie developers and major developers
  • Unity support
The changes that they made have been completely unprecedented by any console company.  Not only have they made a huge turn around, they seem to be making a huge push forward and the support seems to be overwhelmingly positive in both the East and the West.  The launch window titles are pretty impressive even for multi console owners like myself and even the actual list of launch day titles is one of the more impressive lists I've seen (arguably the best since Dreamcast).  Add this to the already plethora of changes they've made across the board and you have a recipe for success.

I don't think in any way that my email alone made them change there stances but I wonder if the feedback given to them from other fans and gamers had anything to do with this.  I do know that they've been listening to the feedback from developers and were getting help from other companies with their online but changes this drastic means they must of really taken the feedback to heart.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Long Overdue Game Update

Once again, here I am, a good 2 months after my last blog entry, needing to write and inform and wondering why I haven't been blogging regularly.  With that said, a lot has happened that I haven't yet talked about, so again, I'm going to write about some of it and try to cover it.  This time, some of the games I've been playing.

Xenoblade Chronicles

This game is absolutely gorgeous

Xenoblade finally came out, after a very, very, VERY long wait  Yes I know, this came out back in April and yes, I've had it since launch.  I've been slacking in talking about it as well as slacking in playing it.  I was actually doing a live stream of it but due to a major SWTOR patch dropping (and my net being really nasty) I haven't gotten back to it.  With that said, this is an incredible experience and I feel I should note that and give this game some praise and notice.

First, let me go ahead and say this.  This game is by far one of the biggest and deepest RPG's I've played ever.  It easily holds its own to any RPG that came out this generation, regardless of region and is easily the biggest most robust single player experience on the Wii.  The amount of depth and thought put into this game is jaw dropping.  The soundtrack is an instant classic, the English voice acting is a lot better then I thought it would be, and if you're an Otaku, you have the option of listening to the whole game with the Japanese voices.  The environments are enormous and show off a scope not seen in any game this generation, EVEN SKYRIM.  The combat system seems simplistic at first but even 15 hours in the game, you're constantly learning new features that the combat system offers.  There's crafting in the game (yes crafting in a single player Japanese RPG) which is mostly for the "gems" but the amount of stats and effects that go into play from gems plus the fact there's several tiers of them leaves a very deep element of the game that you'll actually need a wiki or a quick gamefaqs search in order to know exactly what to do.

Gem Crafting

There's tons of side quests that have you killing tons of named mobs and exploring the world, that can seem overwhelmingly daunting because there's so many (kind of like MMO's and Elder Scrolls games) but ultimately help drastically in the items you obtain, the equipment you find, and levels.  Of course just like the crafting, you'll need to refer to a wiki or gamefaqs more then once in order to find out what you need to do and some named mob fights such as Reckless Godwin you may even need to refer to youtube gameplay vids for help.

Ultimately this game is, so far, one of the best games I've played in the past 10 years, the best JRPG I've played this gen, and easily the most bank for your buck as far as single player games go on Wii.  I can't stress how much fun this game is or how good this game is.  All you need to know is if you want to play a game where Western RPG mechanics meet a Japanese style RPG, you're wanting a very lengthy and deep single player Wii game or if you're looking for an excellent RPG regardless of platform, look no further.  If not, well, you're missing out.  I'm over 50 hours in and far from finished.  I'll be going back to this game very soon.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising box art

When Super Smash Bros Brawl was first revealed, many of us, myself included had the question "Where have I seen this angel character before?"  That's when rekindled interest in the Kid Icarus IP first started.  Fast forward to March 23 of this year, Nintendo released Kid Icarus: Uprising, which is the first new game in a series that has been dormant for over 20 years since the gameboy sequel to the original Kid Icarus.  This was a series that I never played but remember hearing about and seeing many years ago.  Ultimately what pushed this purchase over the edge for me was the inclusion of the 3D remake of the original NES title and the 3DS stand that came with a pre-order of the game.  Boy did I make a good purchase.

This game is one of the most content heavy, fully featured titles on a handheld, ever.  The voice acting is fantastic and reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoons while the music ranges from absolutely gorgeous to cheesy heroic on the fly.  The single player takes you through stages that are broken apart as part rail shooter and part 3rd person action game.  The difficulty scales from drastically easy, ultra casual friendly to insanely intense bullet hell most hardcore of the hardcore.  Along the journey, there's tons of items for collection that range from quick healing and power items to weapons and gear that you can equip to ultimately make you play different and get stronger.  I should also note, throughout the entire stage, all the major characters, whether good or bad, talk with each other constantly leaving plenty of comedy and adds a nice touch of detail to the experience that most other games can't match.

Screens of the game look better on the 3DS and in 3D

Between each level you're brought to a Super Smash Bros Brawl like menu (which is interactive and a game within itself) that lets you use an in game currency for "idol tossing" which gives you a random chance to get different unlocks, which usually have a nice description and story to them.  Also in the menu you can equip new gear, combine gear and make new gear, and you can go to a practice range to test out your equipment.  You can also equip sub items that you can use during your adventure, such as 1 use bombs, healing items and buffing items.

Like other 3DS games such as Dead or Alive Dimensions and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, the game makes very good use of the 3DS's wireless, featuring local and online multiplayer which is very well polished and addictive.  Furthermore, they implemented street pass and spot pass features that allow you to send and receive gems with people you pass by, which the gems contain the same stuff you get from the idols, which basically is more collectables and codex entrees.  Also you can fuse gems together to make more items.  They also took advantage of the systems AR features allowing you to collect cards with different gems and duke it out in 3D, which I should also note, this game has so far, the best 3D I've seen on the 3DS.  As for the AR feature, after messing with it in this game, if this catches on, I can see Pokemon being bigger then it ever was before.

Over all, this is another fantastic experience that if you can get passed the controls (which work fine to me) and you own a 3DS, I'd highly recommend it!  Very few games have this much content for only $40.

Radiant Historia

You'd be crazy to miss this one

Radiant Historia is one of the many MANY games that got completely overlooked as it's a JRPG, on the Nintendo DS, and doesn't have huge designer, publisher, or series name behind it.  Because of this, Atlus made the decision to initially make this game a limited print when it came out February 22, 2011.  However, it sold out pretty quickly, became an underground hit, and made a cult following.  Kind of like Demon Souls, the demand for the game was completely unprecedented; they never knew that it would become such a hit.  Four months after the release, the game was rare and hard to find, with amazon being the only reliable source for purchase but even there the game was going for well over $100 new and $50 used without booklet or case.  Luckily, me and many other gamers were pleasantly surprised and taken off guard when Atlus made the brave decision this February and announced that in due to high demand, they were going to reprint the game and have it available online on March 19, 2012.  Needless to say, Amazon and other stores started taking pre-orders and of course, this time, I plopped the money down.

I was sitting on this game for a long time without playing it but this August I decided to put in my 3DS and start playing it.  Boy is this game a good experience.  The graphics are reminiscent of Xenogears, the story is reminiscent of Chrono Cross/Trigger, and the battle system has an interesting grid base, not for your allies but rather the enemies.  Nothing is truly "new" about the game but it's a very well polished and extremely enjoyable experience.  One thing though that it does do different then most other games, is it has 2 simultaneous stories going on that stem from 2 separate realities from 2 separate timelines that stem from a decision you make early on in the game.  All throughout the game you can make decisions than go back to them via a time transport, which allows you to accomplish different things and alter history.  It isn't an open ended story like that of an Elder Scrolls or Bioware game but it does offer an interesting method of story telling, especially as you're constantly going back and forth between story lines in order to progress the over all game.

The time chart

The music in the game is enjoyable but far from memorable when set side to side with the 2 previous games I talked about.  It does definitely fit the game and set the mood though.  Also going back to the combat, while it doesn't feel entirely original, it does offer a very strategic and engaging experience from the typical turn based system.  Just doing attacks won't get you very far and you really have to pay attention.  The combat is consistently a lot tougher then most turn based RPG's and even after getting 50 hours in the game, I still struggle with some groups of mobs.  Expect to deplete your mana regularly.  If you're looking for a challenging and very polished RPG that's reminiscent to past PS1 and SNES games, I recommend checking this game out.  Don't wait too long either, as it can disappear again.

Heroes of Ruin

Hit or miss

In a previous blog I noted that there were many games I was anticipating.  One of them, was the overly ambitious isometric dungeon crawler action RPG, Heroes of Ruin which is made by N-Space and published by SquareEnix.  SE in recent years has been publishing more western games, which is good for them as it helps sales, keeps them competing with the giants like EA and Activision, and keeps smaller developers who's publishers may of dropped them still making games.  This game however, unlike many others, really caught my eye because of the strong online features most online RPG's, on not just handhelds but even consoles, lack and the big focus on randomized items and dungeons.

Ultimately, the randomization of the dungeons was hurt drastically by not having respawning bosses and respawning randomized dungeons for each stage.  This and of course the lack of a new game + killed the longevity of the game.  That said, there's a lot of loot with 3 main stats but a lot of sub stats, the talent tree while basic offers a lot more depth then expected, and the actual core gameplay is rock solid.  The online, while hindered by the lack of respawning content, is a lot of fun, offers voice chat, gives perks for playing with friends, tracks your stats on the website, and balances the game out to be a good mix for the levels of the players in the game.

The environments look great but the models need work

The presentation isn't really anything to write home about.  The menu's are bland and basic, the story is told in still images that only really look good in 3D, and the voice acting is nothing to write home about.  With that said, while the voice acting isn't stellar, it's better then expected and the music is pretty stunning.  Furthermore, while the models could be a lot better, the environments are gorgeous.  Over all, the game is a hit or miss.  For me, I enjoy it for what it is but it definitely lacks the polish and budget of games like Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3.

SWTOR patches 1.2 - 1.4 and Server Merges

Darth Malgus and a Jedi Master flash mob cosplay

I've written a lot about Starwars: The Old Republic.  It was easily my most anticipated game in 2011 behind only Xenoblade.  When the game launched, there was a lot of good things about the game that made it a really awesome experience, particularly while questing, however after spending a good amount of time with it, you began to start noticing certain things that really need to be changed, dropped, and added.  I actually stopped playing the game in February due to some of these problems and issues and came back a little after patch 1.2 dropped on April 12th, right during the middle of my Xenoblade playthrough.

This patch fixed 2 major problems with the game.  First and the reason why I stopped playing SWTOR, it fixed codex entrees.  During my time playing SWTOR, I really REALLY got into the story and lore of the game.  I did every quest, I watched every cutscene, and of course, I read every codex entry.  When I got mid way through Belsavis, my codex stopped working after I got a glitched out datacron.  From there my experience started getting really flat and mid way through questing on Voss, I just closed out of my account because the experience became too flat for me.  Luckily, patch 1.2 fixed this problem and rekindled my interest in the game.  The other major problem that this patch fixed was an annoying and rather troublesome problem with crewskills.  While crafting, in order for me to learn higher versions of my crafts, I need to reverse engineer them which turns items I make into materials but also has a chance of letting me learn higher end versions of my the item I'm crafting.  The problem with this was, at the time, it would roll a dice on it and usually, it would try and give you a version of the item you already know, making you have to constantly RE (reverse engineer) and use tons of materials in the process of trying to obtain the higher end recipes.  The fix basically made it so that when you RE and it lands on a version of the item you already know, it goes automatically to the next version so you're not constantly getting the same thing over and over and over.  This was a huge fix for me and when I came back, I finally got the things I've been lusting after.

All of this + broken system = not fun

Patch 1.2 wasn't all good though, as they didn't add in ranked warzones the way they said they would and do to this, many players that were holding out for it, left the game out of frustration because of the lack of it.  Also, while they introduced legacy, many of the things they shown off with legacy didn't make it to this patch (and still aren't in the game) though myself, I haven't kept up with what all that was and in the coming months after 1.2 enjoyed the crap out of 1.2 and legacy.  I should also mention, the addition of UI customization was a very nice addition for me.

Seems small but it helps a lot!

One thing I did notice was after 1.2's event and all the hold outs left, the servers became barren.  PVP queue's took sometimes upwards of 2 hours, getting a group for anything was impossible without friends, and the questing hubs felt very empty.  This spawned the need for server merges and transfers.  Right before 1.3, they started allowing people to transfer their toons from low population servers to a group of about 10 servers for higher amounts in the population.  Soon after this 1.3 dropped, which brought group finder, ranked warzones, character perks for legacy, same faction warzones, and the ability to add augment slots to your gear.  All of these were long overdue features but after the server merges and with a larger concentration of players to do stuff with, they all helped drastically.

This is a pretty accurate representation of how I felt.

Of course, soon after this we learned that the game will be going free to play and a lot of negative news came out that SWTOR is dieing but the fact of the matter is, with the server merges and the switch to the F2P model, it seems like they're making the correct moves needed to save their game.  They did a lot already to fix major problems and added missing features, most of which a good amount of people who bought the game at launch won't know they changed because they stopped playing early on.  Doing this can and most likely will rekindle interest and get people to take a second look at a game that has, since release, gotten a major face lift.

The recent patch 1.4 however, while adding more content, fails to deliver any major face lifts, which is a bit of a disappointment.  It could be because the game will soon shift to free to play and they'll soon be doing a lot of new things or it could be that they feel there isn't anything else that needs to be changed but there is still one glaring issue that I've had a problem with for a very, VERY long time and it's a PVP thing.  There are some stats in PVP that play little next to nothing in the grand scheme of things for PVP, those being accruacy, defense, shield rating, and absorption rating.  This is also do to how the game works, basically having most attacks labeled to being elemental, kinetic, and internal, rather then playing off of weapon damage, which is the only type of damage that any of those stats work with.  This is a problem imo for all aspects of the game, it makes DPS not have to worry about accuracy in PVE and PVP and it makes it so that tanks with tank stats get shredded apart in PVP.  If you're a tank, you should be able to dodge a fist, knife, and kick better then a blaster shot, which is not the case with this system.  Furthermore, an energy shield is not a middle aged big clunky piece of metal.  It should go off any time an outside force gets close, even something as small as a fly.  The fact that all these attacks don't bring up my shield generator's shield not only doesn't make any sense logically, it's also a broken system all around and needs to be fixed.  Hopefully, this will get looked at because currently, it's one of the most frustrating elements in PVP in SWTOR.  Furthermore, hopefully they fix Illum soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

E3 and OUYA

 Wow it has been quite some time since I posted.  I need to get into the habbit of posting more regularly... I've been quite busy with a lot of stuff.  There's a lot of things right now that I want to cover, mostly because I haven't put one of these up in a long time, however to keep things at a reasonable size, I'll just go over 2 subjects.



Was expecting more.
 Another year another E3.  E3 has come and gone this year and ultimately left me feeling a bit empty.  E3 was EXTREMELY underwhelming.  All 3 console companies had pretty piss poor conferences and EA's was... why?  The only conference that actually had a pretty consistent showing was Ubisofts which was good but not amazing.


Big stage but it lacked big exclusives and variety.

Microsoft's conference had little to no new big titles and it felt like they were beating a dead horse with Kinect.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty will sell and do well but there needs to be more, something that feels fresh.  I will say what they shown of Halo, I was impressed, I feel they're evolving the series and they're taking it in a new, fresh direction.  As for game of the show, South Park actually ended up being the show stealer, a licensed series, and as expected, they did have me laughing.  Over all, the 3rd party's is what made Xbox's conference worth watching.  Both Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider looked great and had a great showing.  Lastly, Smart Glass was announced which looks like a cool tech innovation as it gets your phone/pad working with the 360 but ultimately, I don't see myself or many others using this.  I understand the idea of a second screen, I use 2 for PC gaming, I have a DS and 3DS, I like the idea of the Wii U's controller and using the Vita as a controller for PS3 seems fun however I want buttons AND the screen in my hand at the same time.  Having to put down 1 controller and pick up the screen constantly throughout gameplay doesn't won't make the experience more engaging and will ultimately be more cumbersome.

Halo 4 got a nice facelift and seems to be evolving!

They also had some downloadable and Kinect games shown off but nothing looked really impressive.  They had an on stage demo of this horrible Angry Birds esc Kinect game called Wreckateer that really did not deserve to take up stage space.  Very underwhelming conference over all though the 3rd parties looked pretty good.  They could of used other 3rd party games up there, like Borderlands 2 though I should mention Resident Evil 6 which looks decent.

Smart Glass and running with a newly announced XBLA title Ascend: New Gods.


Splinter Cell Blacklist is looking very impressive!

Ubisoft's conference was easily the most well executed and the most exciting conference shown.  Gameplay was shown off for Assassin's Creed 3 which looks epic though, the Sony conference had the better of the trailers.  Splintercell Blacklist was also shown in more detail and it looks really amazing.  Even though it doesn't have the same voice actor for Sam Fisher, the gameplay in it looks fantastic and the animations are top notch.  The animations are good enough to the point they could dethrone the Uncharted series.  A really awesome trailer was shown off for Farcry 3 that displayed the hectic gameplay it'll have and gave us a little more narrative.  It was more mature and had nipples, definitely not for kids, but the game looked really awesome.

Farcry 3!  It's good to see a different, non military or scifi shooter in the mix.

There was also a very awesome demo shown off for Rayman Legends which is a Wii U exclusive.  It was easily the best on stage demo of E3 and shown off the frantic fast pace multiplayer with the Wii U interactivity.  Basically, the players playing as the actual characters use normal controllers while the Wii U tablet is used by a player who controls a helper sort of character that interacts with the stage which ultimately makes the game have an even larger emphasis on coop.  One stages displayed, that had a music theme, shown off very fast pace cooperative action and displayed a very tough, very core feeling.  The crowd was pretty hyped at it and the sounds of the demo started getting drowned in the sounds of the cheering!  This got me very excited to try this one!  I really can't wait to try it!

Rayman Legends made the crowd go wild!

The last game, easily the best ending to any of the conferences and easily the game of the show, was a new IP reveal called Watch Dogs.  The game has a modern scifi sort of theme that revolves around hackers and networks.  It shown a guy basically hacking his way into a club by using a mobile phone and getting all sorts of knowledge about the people around him using his phone alone.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "there's an app for that".  The action looked pretty fun as well as the theme, while not original, is a nice change of pace from most of the games at E3.  I also liked the fact it didn't feel overly dark and felt more like an action suspense.  Around the end it gave the impression that the game is going to have online multiplayer and connect via this hacker network.  Nothing else (as far as I currently know) has come out about this explaining more details however it was extremely impressive and a great way to end a conference.

This game easily stood out at E3 this year.


Wake me when it's over....

EA's show.......  Dead Space is coop... taking one of the last few "scary" series's and turning it into basically Lost Planet...  Crysis still looks gorgeous but unfortunately it's still in New York and not the Jungle....  Battlefield 3 is getting a horrible premium service....  Medal of Honor looks like a poor mans CoD....  Oh and then the usual sports and racing updates.  Huzzah...  The somewhat interesting news was Sims is going to have curvy roads, no I'm not being sarcastic.  Apparently the series never had them (I haven't really played it) and people have been wanting them for a long time.  The other somewhat interesting bit of news is SWTOR is still getting updates and Bioware has big plans for the future amidst all the controversy (I'll speak more on SWTOR in another blog).  This conference shouldn't of even happened, it's a waist of time, money and space.

Biggest news from EA.


Mr. Sony himself, Kevin Butler!

Sony actually had some pretty big announcements and some pretty big exclusives however, many of the announcements and news were not original and few of the things that they shown felt new.  They had Playstation Allstar Battle Royal which is a game that takes Playstation characters in pits them against each other in a 4 player free for all in stages that have themes from various Playstation games with Smash Bros like floating mechanics, camera style, and launching mechanics.  The game is a clear Smash Bros clone but instead of admitting it or saying that they were inspired by it, the game is getting pushed as something "new" and "original" which is pretty annoying especially considering how big Smash Bros is.

Inside the development studio behind Playstation Allstar Battle Royal

With that said, it was one of if not the best looking exclusive they shown and I'm admittedly excited about it.  Parappa the Rappa kicking, punching, and chopping Kratos and Sweet Tooth?  Fat Princess and Sly Cooper facing off smack dead in the middle of the Ratchet and Clank universe?  Yes plz!!  I should mention that when they shown the game off, it was a battle on stage using both the PS3 and the Vita playing cross platform.

Playstation Allstars Battle Royal is looking good!

Outside of Playstation All Star Battle Royal, I felt there was a lot of let down.  Like Microsoft they actually touched their motion controller which like Kinect, still hasn't proven itself to the core.  The game they shown off for Move was Wonderbook, a very bad looking story book game that was even more unimpressive then the Angry Birds esc Kinect game.  It just didn't look responsive, it looked nearly unplayable.  They shown off more of the new multiplayer God of War game.  No offense, I think they need to leave this series.  Don't get me wrong, I like it but it's a story heavy game and they already ended it.  Also the game outside of multiplayer doesn't look like its really evolved much.  There needs to be new direction if they're going to continue it and maybe a new protagonist.

No lie, this was on stage.  Why?

The other 2 major exclusive titles they shown off were The Last of Us which is made by Naughty Dog and Beyond Two Souls which is made by the people behind Heavy Rain.  Neither of these games look bad but neither of these games look original in theme and style.  Beyond Two Souls plays a lot like Heavy Rain and basically follows a girl who allegedly is possessed or can see spirits.  Thing about it is because it plays like Heavy Rain, that means you hardly play it and more or less watch it as the game is more about graphics and story.  Another problem I have with this game is the fact is it gets to that really dark, kind of more violent sort of theme that a lot of games have but it's all around a child which I find disturbing.  The other title, The Last of Us, has a very post apocalyptic theme (this style theme is getting old) but Naughty Dog somehow made the games environment absolutely gorgeous.  Also unlike Beyond Two Souls, the game is a REAL game that you actually play.  Problem, like Beyond Two Souls but even more so, the game has dark and violent theme that plays out in front of a kid.  This game however is pretty violent, like the killing and fighting is on par with what I saw from Splinter Cell.  The difference here, you're doing all of this ultra violent stuff right in front of a kid.  Not going to go elaborate on it but needless to say, though a lot of people are super excited for both of these games and the crowds went while in the Playstation conference, I was more disturbed.

A bit too disturbing for my tastes.

Over all, it felt like 3rd parties, in particular Ubisoft, stole the show at Sony's conference with 2 showings for Assassins Creed, 1 on PS3 and the other on Vita and a pretty awesome looking Farcry 3 multiplayer demo.  Also I'd like to go ahead and say this, I think Farcry 3 is a nice contrast to what most FPS's are doing and because of this, I want to play it a lot more then most the games getting pushed.  Also, I was a bit disappointed there wasn't more emphasis on Vita...  I was also saddened by the lack of Warrior's Lair which appears to be MIA.

Not enough Vita, Kaz Hirai, or Riiiiiidge Racer!


Nintendo's new mascot!  Nonspecific Action Figure!

Nintendo had a lot to go over.  Technically they had 2 conferences for the public, 1 press specific conference, and a Nintendo Direct (as well as a second Nintendo Direct a week or so afterwards).  The first Nintendo Direct was entirely about the Wii U and they dropped some major bombs during it.  They shown off a redesign of the Wii U controller with real analogs that have the click buttons when you press down on them, the controller screen is now bigger, the design is sleeker and made for better comfort, and it has a NFC reader in it as well as all the previous features such as a built in mic, built in camera, and gyro and motion sensing.  Also a new addition is the controller can be used as a TV remote as well.  Over all the controller is looking amazing and a lot of the features that it has are actually really cool.  They also shown off the Wii U Pro controller which look A LOT like a 360 controller shell (though I'm not complaining as the 360 controller is comfy) however I'll need to try it and see what I think as the analogs are both above the buttons and d-pad.

Wii U controller redesign.

Wii U game pad pro.  Looks an awful lot like the 360 controller (which is a good thing imo).

You can control your TV with this too!

They also shown of the Miiverse which is Nintendo's take on the systems online.  I have to admit, I am absolutely impressed.  Basically the Mii's populate the screen and gather around different software and games, showing you what people in your region are playing and doing.  There's a wall system for games where people can communicate with each other in a twitter/facebook sort of fashion.  There's voice and video chat that looks like it can happen while running whatever game as the video shown the person pause the game then go run the video chat (though I won't believe true cross gaming voice chat till I see it in action).  There's also an achievement system and the ability to comment on peoples achievements, warn people of a problem ahead, and basically give little messages all over which clearly shows inspirations fromm demon/dark souls.  Furthermore, after the Wii U launches, the Miiverse can be accessed through the 3DS, PC's, and phones making the Miiverse literally Nintendo's own social network.  Over all it looks like they're taking online seriously now and look to be taking it in the right direction.

The Miiverse in all its greatness.

The Miiverse wall forum thing.

In game Miiverse

The E3 press conference that happened a few days afterwards, was nowhere near as good as the build up from Nintendo Direct and didn't have the WOW factor.  I don't think any "completely" new IP's were shown at all and there's was very little big and unexpected games shown from Nintendo.  Pikmin 3 was shown off and looks fantastic gameplay wise, though graphics kind of look like Wii in HD, however, Pikmin isn't a game that's about graphics, it's a game about gameplay.  Anyways the game has remained the same in many ways, which isn't a bad thing as its been a while since Pikmin 2 came out.  The gameplay, look, and theme are very familiar however there are a few new pikmin and you don't play as Captain Olimar, rather you play as 4 other new Captains.  Nothing was revealed as to why Captain Olimar isn't here, or course, but it can lead to some fun story elements and gameplay.  The gameplay was shown primarily with the Wiimote and Nunchuck as those controls are the most accurate with that style game which is fine by me.  One thing that I didn't like though is Pikmin 3 will have multiplayer.... but no online...  Not that previous ones had online on gamecube (or really any other games outside of Phantasy Star Online games) however that could of and should of been there.  It could hurt the games sales, especially after such an awesome online service was shown off and pushed a couple days before.

Pikmin 3 and the legend himself, Mr. Miyamoto.

They also shown off New Super Mario Bros U which while I know a lot of people didn't like New Super Mario Bros Wii, the game sold very well and is a system seller.  Like New Super Mario Bros Wii, I can see this game being a really big key title for Nintendo.  As far as looks, it is definitely the best graphics in any of the New Super Mario Bros games and the actual style of the game is very much like Super Mario World on SNES which looked awesome mind you.  The game also was the main game they used to show off the Miiverse however whether the game will have online or not is not confirmed, which in Nintendo's case, silence could mean anything.. but usually means no.  They also took a little time to show off some first party 3DS games, such as New Super Mario Bros 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.  Nothing new really.  New Super Mario Bros 2 feels a bit redundant considering there's one coming out on the Wii U and it hasn't even been a year since Super Mario 3D Land.  They also talked a little about Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, and Lego City 3DS though nothing was shown.  What was shown though was a ton of 3rd party games on Wii U.

New Super Mario Bros. U

Scribblenauts Wii U was shown and was completely unexpected.  The game looks to take the Scribblenauts idea, theme and style and expand on it greatly.  Literally, a huge world is built around your ideas and the game has strong online multiplayer.  I'm highly looking forward to it.  Also shown off and completely unexpected was Lego City: Undercover which looks to be a Lego spoof of the GTA-esc sand box city games.  It actually looks pretty fun and I'm actually interested in it.  Zombi U was also shown off which looks to be the one game to really showcase what this controller can do.  It uses it as a way to interact with the world, a way to manage your inventory, and a your go to device.  Not enough of the game was shown off during the conference though, probably because it's a more mature title however, I'm actually highly looking forward to this one.  Along with these 3 games Batman: Arkham City was shown off and Dark Siders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2, Ninja Gaiden 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Assassins Creed 3, and Rabbids Land were all talked about.  There were also plenty of the usual fitness, dancing, and ultra casual stuff.... in particular, Sing looked pretty...... gross.  A straight Singstar's clone if you ask me.  Either way, no matter the good or bad, Nintendo is making a much bigger push for 3rd party games then ever before and things are looking better for them in this area.

Scribblenauts came completely out of nowhere.  I'm excited for this one!

The final bit shown off Nintendo Land which looks to be a mini game bundle, using the Mii's, based around a Nintendo Universe.  The on stage display of the game though did not really convey what the game had to offer or what it truly was about and over all felt underwhelming.  Unfortunately they ended the conference on this note.... well not before a cheesy firework session in Nintendo Land as Reggie left the stage.  It was a horrible way to end the press conference and left a feeling of wanting more.  This could also stem from the news that broke after E3 that Retro Studios had a game that they were going to show off but they pulled out at the last moment.  On Nintendo's own E3 page, they shown off more footage of Nintendo Land for about half an hour after the conference which made the game look a lot better but I didn't see this till after E3.  I was too busy watching GT TV do live demo's of Zombi U which looks freakin awesome and uses the controller brilliantly which should of been done on stage at the Nintendo conference and Project P-100 which is a Wii U exclusive that looks amazing.  Project P-100 is made by Platinum games and has a very actionriffic Pikmin sort of feel but for whatever reason though, it was also missing from the E3 conference.

My initial impression of this game is the one you get from looking at this image.

The 3DS conference that they had afterwards mostly felt like a rehash of known things.  Everything I mentioned earlier was shown off in greater detail.  New Super Mario Bros 2 while redundant, does offer its own feel with tons and I do mean tons of coins everywhere.  Paper Mario Sticker Star was shown off more and it looks great as well as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.  Castlevania had a trailer shown and it looks pretty fun.  It brings a nice 2.5d to the table.  Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was shown more of though, honestly, it doesn't look like a full price retail game and I personally wouldn't pay $40 for it.  Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance was shown more of as well and it looks like... well.. Kingdom Hearts which isn't a bad thing.  Though it does feels very much the same as older Kingdom Hearts, even after playing the demo, the gameplay is rock solid and what we want from this style game.  Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 was also shown off and they touched how it works with the 3DS downloadable Pokemon games.  Lego Batman 2 was also shown off as well.  Ultimately nothing was shown off that couldn't of been added to Nintendo's original E3 conference.

Not enough new to justify a second conference.

E3 Last Words

Ubisoft indeed won.

I felt over all, E3 was lacking.  I miss the days of seeing Konami and Capcom having there own presentations, which they did, just not on stage.  I miss the days of more Japanese games being shown off.  I didn't like the fact they gave less space to the indie scene and put less emphasis on it.  But even more then everything that I just mentioned, I was very disappointed with Microsoft's, Sony's and Nintendo's conferences.  Both Microsoft and Sony have been on this shooters and motion games are the only things gamers want craze and its been pretty disheartening.  Sony has a huge list of awesome games just waiting to be revived from PS1 and PS2, like Parappa the Rappa, who is arguably the most talked about character in Playstation All Stars Battle Royal, but instead of going after fan favorite series's, they keep going after more mature, gory, and many times gun-riffic titles that are getting really played out.  Microsoft, while they don't have the history that Sony has, they do have quite a few IP's that could really use a revival as well.  Some from Xbox original, some from the early days of 360 and xbox live, and some from a studio they acquired called Rare.  It is so sad to see Rare's potential go to waste.  They have a ton of REALLY BIG series's that are just waiting to be revived and the lack of using those series's is doing more harm then good for Microsoft.

This is what Microsoft has Rare doing these days....

Parappa's going to be in Playstation Allstars Battle Royal but when's he getting a new game?

Vita didn't get enough screen time... and whatever happened to Warrior's Lair?

I felt over all Nintendo's news was good but the conferences were lacking.  The best information came from the Nintendo Direct, from Gametrailer's stage, from the floor, and from things that happened afterwards.  Reggie confirmed Fire Emblem Awakening off screen, which should of been an on stage announcement.  The 3DS XL was announced in a Nintendo Direct a week or 2 after the conference.  Project P-100 wasn't on Nintendo's stage, neither was the Rayman Legends Demo nor the lengthy ZombiU demo.  These are some of the biggest announcements and demo's shown off at E3 and unfortunately none of them were in the conference.  They didn't show off Heroes of Ruin gameplay which imo, should of been there.  They didn't touch The Last Story till the Nintendo Direct after E3, which should of also been on stage.  Over all, I feel that Nintendo should of cut out the needless talking from E3, such as spread sheets and sales pitches, and put the content from the 2 Nintendo Directs and the 3DS conference into the main conference as well as shown off all Wii U exclusives in detail in the conference.  If they would of done this, there conference would of been great but because they didn't many people who only pay attention to that one conference were not impressed.

The Last Story should of been shown or at least mentioned in the conference.

Heroes of Ruin should of had an on stage demo.

ZombiU deserved a lot more screen time.  It's easily the best game to showcase the new controller.

The mere mention of Fire Emblem would of also been HUGE but they waited till after the E3 conferences to announce it randomly in an interview on the floor.

The Nintendo 3DS XL should of been E3.  PERIOD!

Project P-100 was one of the biggest surprises and was one of the most awesome looking new IP's at E3, yet it wasn't in Nintendo's conference...

I felt that this E3 was very stale and that console gaming is feeling pretty stagnant.  If it was for Ubisoft, E3 would of been total a bust.  I also feel that E3 needs to showcase more foreign and indie games, not just the big titles.  Because they didn't, we were left with one of the worst E3's over all.

Ubisoft dropped major bombs on E3.  Assassins Creed stole the limelight more then once.


Here comes a new challenger!

This month, 1 month after E3, one of the biggest pieces of gaming news has hit which the announcement of this alone at E3 could of changed the entire outlook of it.  A new gaming console called OUYA was announced out of nowhere.  It's powered by the Android operating system, uses a Tegra 3 chip, and wants to bring the free to play model, the indie experience, and the modding community to consoles by making the system an open platform and letting basically anybody develop for it.  The system also is only going to cost $99.  The kicker here is the system is not being backed by the big investors nor the publishers and has gone to kickstarter to raise the money needed ($950,000) to get going.  It reached that goal in a matter of hours and in 1 day reached over 2 million dollars and made a lot of supporters.  As of right now, as I type, they have over 36,000 backers and they have gotten over 4.6 million dollars in pledges.  This is amazing considering the kickstarter has 25 days till it ends.  The splash this system made while not mainstream, is huge.

This is the console size compared to the PS3 and 360.

I'm very interested in this.  One of the major problems with this generation of systems is the fact the systems are so closed off.  There have been some major games that have come out in other regions that me and like minded gamers wanted to play, like Monster Hunter Frontier, Disaster Day of Crysis, Fatal Frame 4, Toshinden Wii, and plenty of other games that never came out in NA and some that we had to fight tooth and nail to get like Xenoblade and The Last Story which are games from pretty big name designers and design teams. 

The idea that region locking in this day and age is good for business is a complete load of crap.  Region locking is only good IF YOU LOCALIZE YOUR PRODUCTS!!!

Because 360 and Wii are region locked and you can't easily import games, you either need to get an imported console or mod your system which modding is very bad for 360 and Wii users.  On 360, Microsoft is constantly doing scans banning peoples accounts from Xbox Live (their payed online service), banning peoples consoles, and sometimes even their IP's which basically kills the point in modding as many 360 games are about the online.  On Wii it's even worse, if you mod your system, you can easily brick your system (break it) and if you don't but you're still going online regularly after modding, Nintendo will brick your system in a forced update.  To add to this, if you get around the updates but lets say you bought a ton of games in Wii's online store and your system breaks or goes out, those games you bought are now permanently lost as the games bind to your system and not an account... and well, Nintendo IS NOT going to help anybody who tampered with the system regardless of purpose.

Here's a list of the most Pirated games of 2011.  Xenoblade is arguably a much smaller name but manages to come in #3 do to taking too long to get localized (or rather players not knowing it would get localized) and region locking....

The PS3 thankfully doesn't have region locking however it also has its fair share of problems, like the crazy PSN outage that happened last year from hackers taking down their unsecure online service and the updates that take away features that were originaly put on the system.  The platform is a lot more open then either 360 or Wii but still, developers face a high entry fee regardless of console and legally, there is no modding community.

The creators of OUYA WANT you to hack and mod as it is what has been the driving creative force behind gaming for years.

This is where OUYA can easily outshine the current consoles.  Encouraging modding and hacking means user made translations for Japanese games that the developers can't (or rather publishers won't) bring over, DOTA/Tower Defense and Counter Strike like start ups except on a console, and even strong indie games and game school projects that can go straight to a console without the stupid politics and ridiculous prices of the current console companies.  The possibilities of this system are huge!  A platform like this could really change the console gaming industry and in a good way.  Hopefully, this system comes out and they do things right!