Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is The PSVita Worth The Purchase? F$*# YEAH!!!

Today's post comes from Daniel Francis, who's music has also been featured here in the past. You can find him on twitter @_DFrancis.

So after about 3 debates, 4 changes of my mind and pricing systems I finally decided to purchase the PSVita. Now from sources I’ll choose not to disclose (ry...) sorry... I felt as though I was making a mistake by buying this system. Sure enough my concerns were taken away with the unboxing of this powerful system. This system is a solid choice for any gamer so let's jump into the pros and cons of this system since that's why you’re reading this.

Pros: The PSVita’s best feature has to be cross-platform gaming. Being able to play PS3 owners online using your PSVita is a pretty cool feature. Processor power for this device is on par with current gen home consoles. It's basically a ps3 (minus the resolution and bluray) in your hand. The PSVita also comes equipped with front and rear mounted cameras, high resolution pictures, Skype should be coming soon, and cool video play back. The weight and feel of the PSVita feels right so PSP owners will make the adjustment very nicely. Controls are solid. The buttons are small but responsive, and the analog controls are decent as well. The major question mark that gamers had, the rear mounted touchpad, handles great. The game prices vary from $30-$50 which isn’t bad considering how a comparable version of the same game for PS3 will cost around $60

Cons: The PSVita is priced at $250 or $300 for wifi and 3g. Now this is high as hell knowing most gamers can get a console game for less. Why pay this much for a handheld? Well, the next gen consoles are all rumored to drop this year and next, and like the PSP, Sony knows the vita will be around for the next 6 years. The vita has a very small library of games right now, much like the PSP. New titles will be dropping soon so unless you like playing Marvel vs. Capcom for 3mths until the newest games drop don't get this.

The little things that gamers will need for the PSVita to properly work are always the most expensive. The memory cards are such little things. Unlike the PSP memory cards which you could buy for 10 dollars, Sony decided to designed their own. It's small as hell easy to lose and they start at about $30. It comes in 4 GB, 8 GB, so on and so on, but don't even bother buying the 4 gig because it’s a waste. Sony has also basically made this thing unable to be modded. So if you were thinking of considering modifying this system don't even bother because right now you’ll be highly disappointed.

I honestly don't have a lot of negative comments about PSVita. This is probably the 1st handheld console that will give you the feeling that you got your money’s worth. I say check it out it’s worth the money and with new gaming titles like Modern Warfare, Madden, and others on the horizon; the PSVita is going to be a dominant player in the portable gaming world.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sonic Generations: When Fan Service Is Done Right

Without a doubt, Sega's biggest hit was Sonic the Hedgehog. The character crossed over so much that he had two different cartoon series on American TV simultaneously. The fast paced platforming and attitude that Series creator Yuji Naka brought to the Master System and Genesis set the gaming world on fire and gave Nintendo it's first serious rival in the "console wars". After the rise and fall of the Dreamcast, Sonic fell on hard times as a series of very bad games were released for multiple consoles. Then Sonic and the Dark Brotherhood was released on the Nintendo DS, followed by Sonic Colors on the Wii and DS, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on XBLA and PSN. This handful of good games led up to the 20th anniversary of the first Sonic game, and a major undertaking by Sonic Team: create a piece of fan service the likes of which Sonic fans have never seen. the result is a game spanning classic and modern Sonic universes with a charm that hasn't been seen in the series since Sonic CD. Not only is Sonic Generations the best Sonic game since the days of the Genesis, it's one of the best platformers to come out in a while.

Sonic Generations starts out like the very first Sonic game did, in the Green Hill Zone. In fact, much of the layout feels like that first level of the very first Sonic game, and that's because it is. What Sonic Generations does so well is take those classic levels from past Sonic games and expanded them both in length and scope. you'll see familiar enemies, hear familiar music, and blaze through familiar landscapes. The quirk is that there are at least two versions to every level: a side scrolling level that's handled as Classic Sonic, or the 3D levels that are run using Modern Sonic. The two versions of Sonic appear in cutscenes together as well, with Classic Sonic being shorter, pudgier, and decidedly mute while Modern Sonic is taller, skinnier, and can talk. There's a story in there, but for some reason, they all boil down to the same thing: Something is threatening the survival of the world, and Sonic has to stop it. Again, it's nothing ground breaking, as the story is merely there to provide some semblance of a reason for two different sets of characters inhabiting the same universe.

The play mechanics are classic Sonic, which means the player doesn't have to worry about doing a lot with their controller. Matter of fact, this game may be the textbook definition of "pick up and play", but because of the genre that works. There are a few prompts that pop up in early levels to tell you when to perform certain tasks, and thankfully nothing in this game feels as sluggish as it did in Sonic 4:Episode 1. Like I've said throughout this review, everything feels familiar, and that may be my only issue with Sonic Generations.

To say everything has been done before in Sonic Generations is an understatement. The soundtrack, characters, control mechanics have been done multiple times by Sonic Team over the course of the last 20 years. This turned a lot of gamers off, but this is far from a bad thing. Sonic Generations has effectively, for all it's fan service, proved that Sega still has it. This game reminds me of the days when Sega was still in the console business, and almost makes me, that won't happen.

SSX: My Beef With Electronic Arts Continues...

To Say I'm disappointed is an amazing understatement. Electronic Arts may not have to worry about me giving them any more of my money on day one. I'm kinda skeptical about Mass Effect 3 at this point because it's published by EA.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blowing Up All Over The Place: What Makes The Splosion Man Games So Awesome...

The platform genre has a rich history wrapped in it's combination of versatility and core simplicity. Whether you're avoiding traps, solving puzzles, fighting waves of enemies, or trying to scale a tower, they all share the core mechanic of jumping. The platforming genre, were once the second most popular genre of game next to shoot em ups, but with the rise of beefier consoles, and players wanting a more "mature" experience, the platformer was relegated to shovelware status by developers and consumers alike. The rise of online gaming services like Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare, and Playstation Network have given new games with an old school a place to find great success, and such was the case for Splosion Man.

Splosion Man is very simple in story and basic controls, but the level designs and the undeniable charm the characters exhibit give Splosion Man the kind of appeal that hasn't been seen in a game in a long time. As far as that simplistic story goes, Splosion Man is an experiment created by "Big Science" and he wants out of their facility. In order to escape, he has to use his only power, the ability to make himself explode, to navigate the massive "Big Science" facility. scattered around the facility, which encompasses the game's 50 levels, are a variety of exploding barrels that can be used as defense or propulsion, depending on the situation. The end of the first Splosion Man was fulfilling, but as a fan of the game, it leaves you wanting more. This is where Ms. Splosion Man comes in.

Ms. Splosion Man picks up right where Splosion Man ends. Splosion Man was captured and during the ensuing celebration, a surge of electricity combined with the chance inclusion of a bow falling to est on an experimentation platform triggers a reaction that creates another entity capable of generating it's own explosions much like Splosion man. The only difference is that this one IS A LADY (I just said that in my Leon Phelps voice). She's pink with a yellow bow atop her head, she skips, and sings bits of Gwen Stefani and Spice Girl songs. Instead of the highly sought out cake from the first game, players collect different pairs of shoes, which upon picking up, are worn by Ms. Splosion Man throughout the rest of that level.

In much the same way that Ms. Pac Man was an improvement on Pac Man, Ms. Splosion Man is an upgrade of everything that was awesome about Splosion Man. Actually, there was very little in my opinion that needed to be changed about Splosion Man, the good folks at Twisted Pixel simply made Ms. Splosion Man control a little tighter, move a little faster, and added a few quirks into certain levels to increase the creativity of the puzzle elements in the game. There is loads of attitude and personality into this game that without revealing anything makes you appreciates the greatness of quirky platformers of days gone by like Boogerman, Earthworm Jim, and Claymates.

Splosion Man and it's sequel, Ms. Splosion Man have proven that a game can succeed on the merits of tight control, fun gameplay, and a great sense of humor. Both games cost 800 Microsoft points and are a pair of the best platformers to be released on the Xbox 360. Two inventive, incredibly fun platformers for $20 is a deal I'd gladly take.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

48 Hours In The Sun: My Frustrating Time With Boktai

I got a Gameboy Micro in the mail last week, and I wanted to start my hunt for GBA games as soon as possible. I had browsed overpriced auctions on Ebay and searched Gamestop, but to no avail. I eventually ended up at my local Play N Trade and started browsing their selection of games for the console. I decided on Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hands, and quickly plunked down the $10.89 for the game. I had heard great things about Boktai and it's innovative game design that makes use of a built in solar sensor to use actual sunlight in the gameplay. As the cashier rang me up, she informed me that I had 48 hours if I didn't like the game to bring it back. I didn't realize how much I would need that policy with this game.

I also didn't realize is that I would have to literally stand out in the sun and have direct sunlight strike the cartridge. This led to me twirling around in my front yard like an idiot trying to get light to strike the sensor that was smaller than an eraser. Because I could never actually get the sun to hit the cartridge, I could solve the first major puzzle in the game. I was stuck at 13 minutes into the only game I owned for the GBA. That Wednesday, I immediately brought the game back to Play N Trade and started looking again. This time I used the same $10.89 to get two games, both compilation carts. It's safe to say that I'll be trusting my gut more on these things now.

I wanted to review Boktai, but I didn't play enough of it to actually play it, mainly because the concept was flawed in it's execution. What could have been a cool implementation of a real time clock coupled with a solar sensor to reflect actual sunlight, turned out to be a broken experience that a gamer looking for genuine fun can ill afford when starting a library on a new console. If you have actually played and enjoyed Boktai, let me know in the comments section, because I know I didn't.