Sunday, June 03, 2012

DrDark's Pre-E3 Mutterings (Part 1)

[Update] Yes, I know I never wrote a (Part 2) :P. As anyone knows by now, I'm terrible at keeping up with this writing malarky. Also, E3 got hectic, then the conferences were meh, and I didn't feel like writing anything. Anyway, I may do a quick sum-up of the Wii U's status soon, so watch this space.

So I've left it a bit late for E3 "predictions" as usual. Anyway, here are some random jumbled thoughts that may be added to later:

1) Nintendo Network:
I'm sat here waiting for the special pre-E3 Nintendo Direct presentation by Iwata-san. I'm expecting the main purpose of it will be to reveal more functionality of the Nintendo Network and how it'll be utilised across 3DS, Wii U, and possibly even the Wii. Gathering snippets of info over the last few months from various sources, I think it's a safe bet that the Wii U's digital features will include: an online account system with friends list (possibly a multiple-user account system, which would mean system friend codes -a la 3DS- no longer apply); downloadable NGC, VC, WiiWare, eShop originals and even full console titles; demos & trailers; ability to purchase and schedule download via a web interface and/or mobile apps.

2) 3DS remodel:
I do NOT believe we will see a new 3DS model this year. I've discussed it with several people beforehand so here are my compiled thoughts on the matter -cut & pasted due to laziness-
Most of Nintendo's resources are currently geared towards developing 3DS and WII U titles.
The current 3DS model sells at a loss and Nintendo don't like selling hardware at a loss. It'll start making money again in a few months.
The design is meant to be pocketable (to a degree). A second analogue stick in a comfortable configuration within the same form factor isn't feasible.

People comparing to the DS need to keep the following in mind:
- The first DS was an experimental platform, the hardware was very "prototype"-like. That's what prompted the swift redesign and DS Lite release. The DSi was again an experimental platform but in refined hardware, in order to experiment with more digital features, like the camera and digital software. DSi XL was simply them sewing up the market as they saw an opportunity with many requests for a larger screen.
- So, comparing this to 3DS >> Hardware was designed correctly the first time, and all components are very tightly packed[as stated in Iwata's interviews with staff]. All features were locked down, and software built to be easily expandable [Now with friend lists, digital software, full SD card support, better memory management, background game downloads, game patches, etc.]

3) Renaming/redesigning the Wii U:
A change of name is not gonna happen; it's been too long, and it's already stuck. It also "makes sense" in that it fits in with their line-up. Wii Remote Pluses and Balance Boards will work with it, so it's an extension/evolution of the Wii. Also DS-->DSi , Wii-->Wii U - corny, but it fits. The base unit's design however, will definitely change. It wasn't a proper shape in the first place, and it was so unassuming that even I wasn't sure if it was a new console for a couple of minutes. At one point I thought they might go mad with some kind of cylindrical design, but that's not very practical, so probably not...

Well, that's all for now. I'm off to watch Nintendo Direct. I'll either add to this post or write another tomorrow with game predictions + the craziest, most unlikely ideas that I can pull out of my brain. So this is definitely TBC...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A Full Throttle review, yesterday

Okay, not yesterday, more like some time around the end of June 2005, when I'd come to the UK to seek work in the games industry. I also have a Monkey Island mini-review, but that one's crap so you're just getting this :-P. Anyhoo, original text follows [with 1 fix by my modern self]. Be kind [or rip me to shreds; you know I'd do it to you! :-P]

Full Throttle, a phrase denoting the extreme straining of one's brain when playing a LucasArts adventure...

   Ok, only kidding, though I did find myself in a unique situation this weekend. Having only just bought a laptop after entering the country, I decided I needed something to play on it. Dragging my feet around PC World, I realized that FPS-play on a touch pad, while an interesting experience, might be problematic. So, I was about to leave when I spotted: “Full Throttle: A Heavy Metal Adventure”, and realized it was one of few LucasArts classics that I hadn’t yet played.

   Now I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to the Internet; and it’s a terrible habit! I play a game for an hour or two; get stuck; log on, and download the walkthrough… or better yet, I check the walkthrough online and don’t save it to my hard drive, thus convincing myself that I’m holding out just that little bit longer. After being annoyed for getting stuck, I then find myself annoyed that the answer was so obvious!

   Well, this weekend I was in a bit of a pickle. No Internet access on my laptop. Would I be camping outside some cyber café in the early hours of the morning, after having sleepless nights of wondering how stupid I must be? Strangely enough: No.

   The game introduces a bleak future where wheeled vehicles have been replaced by the hovering variety and Ben and his gang (The Polecats) are out on the road. Malcolm Corley, the only remaining bike manufacturer, is being subtly threatened by Adrian Ripburger, who aims to take over the company. Surely enough, an “accident” happens, and Ben is blamed for the murder of Mr Corley. Thus begins our adventure to expose the truth and clear Ben’s name.

   Graphics are naturally pixellated by today’s standards, but are detailed and smoothly animated. The old LucasArts interface is replaced by a logo featuring a skull, hand and boot; which appears whenever the left mouse button is clicked and held over an object of interest. This allows you to: Examine (Skull’s eyes), Speak (Skull’s mouth), Push\Punch (Hand), Kick (Boot). Getting to grips with this interface is, needless to say, easy peasy, and the puzzles that follow at the beginning of the game are nothing to tax the grey matter and are mostly perfectly logical.

   Yet one must inevitably get stuck somewhere along the line, and I started getting aggravated and wishing there was an internet connection around to find that walkthrough…, but alas there was none. So I saved the game and turned it off, feeling annoyed. Next day, I turned it on and in a matter of minutes, managed to solve the puzzle. And I was ever so pleased with myself too. Nothing at all like how I would have felt, if I’d have read that walkthrough. And it happened again, and again…..and well you get the picture. I remembered this was how I used to play adventure games and they were much more fun this way. I feel too much emphasis is based on how long it’ll take us to complete games these days or how many endings they’ve got, because if I don’t feel like I’ve had a good time getting there, then what’s the point? I played the game for three days, on and off, and it probably took me 4 or 5 hours overall, but I wanted to play it all over again once it was over! I also finally understood how pissed off everyone was when LucasArts cancelled the sequel.

   So, what are the good and the bad bits about it? Well, it’s got a great interface, great music, great voices, and great graphics (for the time). It also has great action sequences while you’re on your bike, but you have to use your head too, in order to get through the challenges successfully. It’s this balance of story, action and puzzles, which makes Full Throttle a very enjoyable game indeed and helps the replayability factor. It has to be said that it’s probably LucasArts’ shortest adventure though. The only other downside is that the control in the action sequences takes a little getting used to, but it doesn’t mar the enjoyment of the game once you’ve mastered it.

   If you can find it, buy it. And disconnect your PC from the Internet while playing. You’re assured an enjoyable experience, and will start to mourn the loss of adventure gaming as much as I do.

As for myself, I just bought “The Dig”; so wish me luck, and pray there isn’t a cyber café nearby…

P.S. No, there's no score. I hadn't thought of it at the time. While I agree with a lot of opinion that scores are  silly, I think that's partially due to a lack of perspective on behalf of the readers/gaming public. That's a long winded way of saying if I review stuff in the future, I'll probably add a score :-P.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Epic Pun Battle - Sewing

I'll keep this short.

Yes, it's been ages, blah blah, promise to update more often, blah, etc.

Now that's out the way: I love puns. I love anything involving word-play in fact. Hence I often make bad jokes. I chanced upon a random comment on Twitter from an old friend about "sewing". I made one bad joke. And it turned into... well, you'll see.

Click here

Wait, sorry, before I forget: START AT THE BOTTOM!

Now, click here *

*I'm afraid this is now a Dropbox link and you'll have to download the file. Other hosting options for a file of these dimensions have been... problematic.

Friday, September 02, 2011

#videogamepornos [SFW]

Yes, readers, I know the title seems somewhat dubious, but it was just some light-hearted fun...

Just over a year ago, on a wet and windy boring day on the Twitterverse, I was reminded of a "Top 5" list in a multi-platform gaming magazine called Arcade (which has since gone to the big pile of paper in the sky). This list feature was a comical take on "what if porn movies were made based on video game characters?".
I recalled a couple of the more amusing ones and decided to post them on Twitter, and added the hashtag #videogamepornos
I'm aware it's resurfaced twice since (and indeed may have been used before) but I assure you in this instance it was my idea!

As usual I've babbled for a bit longer than I'd intended before getting to the main point of the post (I'm not sure if the babbling actually interests anyone or not, given that only about 3 people regularly read this blog :P).

I've got 5 images captured from the Twitter timeline. Given the way posts are displayed (and my lack of knowledge at the time to arrange them differently), the chronological sequence would be to read each image bottom to top.

Have some LOLs.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Wii is NOT Dusty!

[Note: since I've started receiving suggestions, further updates will be added in this colour.]

A couple of months ago I observed a typical online exchange relating to the Wii, complaining once again about a lack of games. Specifically "good" games. A number was thrown to the fore, indicating perhaps only around 7 existed. I scoffed at this (I do that about a lot of things) and exclaimed there were easily 100 good games for the Wii. Not great ones; not system-sellers; not killer apps or GOTYs. Just GOOD games. Games which have given someone, somewhere, some enjoyment for a while. 

So I started on a list. I decided to include games I haven't even played but am very aware of and do know have garnered a favourable review here or there. Even if said review was by close friends. I also decided to start at 100 and count down, so I had a goal and knew I'd failed if I had to resort to listing "Petz" games before I reached #1...

The impatient will have noticed I'm currently on # -39*. 

Yes, I've managed to find 139 decent Wii games. Whodathunkit? As I recall someone somewhere saying at some point. I will continue to add to the list as games are released, and receive reasonably good reviews. Feel free to point any missing favourites out in the comments so I can add them, or indeed any duplicates where I've been absent-minded.

Also, as you may have noticed, the title of this post is reference to the ridiculous line about the Wii "gathering dust", which is up there with the silliness of "the PSP is a PS2 in your pocket". The fact so many people -including journalists- use those lines is disgraceful, and testament to the power of hype; or anti-hype as the case may be. I have vowed many a time to physically punish anyone who uses such phrases again. Unfortunately, some of them are nice people, so I may just end up furrowing my brow at them instead.

I shall delay no more: on to the list!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Final PC Zone Chat

PC Zone was my favourite magazine. It was somehow more "personal" than other mags; that is, I felt I personally knew everyone who wrote for it. Anyway, I tend to get carried away, so I'll leave my Zone story for another day. This blog post is mainly to dump the whole record of the final Zone Chat (conducted over the Steam client). I thought I'd save it for later and only just remembered to post it now (around a year later).
It isn't edited to protect the innocent or faint of heart. To some it will mean nothing. To others it'll seem like the ramblings of "those strange gamer types". 
Of course it is. But PC Zone belonged to these gamer types as much as it did the writers who featured on its pages. And though we may deny it now, many of us really were driven to tears back then...

Never tell your password to anyone.
Prezzer entered chat.
03 August 2010
16:58 - Furohman: From the top secret PCZ space station which has orbitted earth since the dawn of time?
16:58 - apophis_dd: haha
16:58 - Batsphinx: That, BrawnyFanta is a very good point
16:58 - Mad_Al: you can put a bid in on Ebay for Dave's chair, sadly Dave is still attached.
16:58 - seregrail7: *faints again*
16:58 - apophis_dd: wow drdarks here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

[Commentary] GTA: Chinatown Wars sales figures

Around a year ago now (I won't bother checking), Geoff Keighley mentioned on his Facebook page that GTA Chinatown Wars would be coming to the PSP. There was much rejoicing and statements alluding to the idea(s) that it should have always been there in the first place or that the DS was poison to IP of an adult nature.

I simply wrote: "Bad idea".

Chinatown Wars was -and still is- one of the best games on the DS, both in terms of looks and gameplay. Many loved the classic, less story-laden action. My statement that it was a bad idea to port it to PSP was due to the fact I didn't think PSP owners would be that interested in it. Partially due to the graphics, but also because a lot of PSP owners at that point had grown bored of it and many pirated the lesser-known games. The fact many would consider this a "port" meant it didn't really have a chance of selling the millions its predecessors did. This move also ran the risk of alienating hardcore Nintendo fanboys who were intending to buy it, but felt "insulted" by it losing its exclusivity (yes, that does happen).

Going back to the DS, the other reason I felt it didn't sell well initially (apart from the "will this work? I'm on the fence" attitude) was due to the story. I just didn't find the whole Chinese gangs storyline or characters that compelling. And I imagine many others didn't either. You could see this from the ads, none of which compelled me to buy the game.

Anyway, I'll wrap this up, because -as usual- I've talked for way longer than I was intending to. 

A year ago I said "bad idea", I now get the opportunity to say "I told you so":

So, what should have Rockstar done instead? Released a sequel on the DS within the same 12 months, with a different setting and alternate "gimmick" to the drug collecting. This would have captured the interest of those indifferent to the Chinese gangs storyline and re-ignited sales of the original. I'm somewhat convinced (in the little world in my head where I'm always right) that this would have resulted in total sales for both titles of over 2.5mil.

Till next time (around a year from now if previous updates are anything to go by); adios.

Note: I'm aware VGChartz figures aren't always the most up-to-date or accurate, but I usually find they're missing numbers rather than overestimating them, so in terms of averages rather than exactness, these numbers still justify my point.