Archive for June, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever, Afterthoughts

June 19, 2011

After a terribly long wait, I finally have it…

My thoughts after the break…

(more…)

E3: Nintendo Conference – “It prints money!”

June 7, 2011

The Nintendo conference has proven once again that Nintendo is an innovative company that provides high quality games and systems while keeping things perpetually fresh. However, every new piece of hardware or software they release always comes with one function that stays consistent throughout the ages: The function that gives us the irresistible urge to open our wallets and dump the contents into a big pile. This pile is then poured into a large pool where Nintendo execs may swim in it a la Scrooge McDuck.

Despite this, they are not technically robbing us, as they are providing things to us that are nothing short of purely whimsical. The conference opened with a full orchestra playing classic Legend of Zelda jingles and songs in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Legend of Zelda. I personally don’t own a 3DS yet, for both practical and financial reasons; I’d love to enjoy games both new and old in the glorious third D, but at the same time, I like being able to afford groceries. The 3DS remake of the classic Zelda game Ocarina of Time touts revamped graphics, an improved frame rate, and a free soundtrack available for people who register their copies of the game with Club Nintendo. The game is set to be released on June 19th, 2011. In addition to this, the Nintendo eShop will soon be carrying Link’s Awakening, the 1993 classic Game Boy game. All hope is not lost for Zelda fans who do not yet own the latest Nintendo portable, though. A free download of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords will be available for DSi owners this fall via DSiWare.

Not many new details were released about the upcoming Zelda platformer, Skyward Sword, during the conference. However, producer Shigeru Miyamoto did announce that a commemorative gold Wiimote emblazoned with the Zelda logo would be released alongside the game.

The Legend of Zelda news didn’t stop at just video games. Miyamoto announced that the orchestra that had been accompanying the press conference would be going on a worldwide tour to play orchestral versions of Zelda songs both new and old. Official tour dates are yet to be released.

Once the Legend of Zelda segment had concluded, Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime and CEO Satoru Iwata took the stage to talk about the Nintendo 3DS. A montage of Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Mario, Kid Icarus, and Luigi’s Mansion (respectively) wowed the crowd just before Mr. Fils-Aime went into the details.

Mario Kart 3D – Fils-Aime described this as a “tricked out” version of an old classic, with go-karts transforming into hang gliders and karts with underwater capabilities zooming every which way. Footage was also shown of karts that can be customized with different bodies and wheels. The game is slated for release this holiday season.

Star Fox 64 3D – This game utilizes the 3DS’s internal tilt function in a very interesting way. Remember when you were a little kid playing a racing game? You’d take a sharp turn and tilt the entire controller, entirely convinced that it was aiding you. That functionality has been incorporated into Star Fox 64 3D. Tilting the 3DS will actually tilt the aircraft you are piloting (traditional controls will also work for those players who prefer not looking silly whilst playing). Still keeping the good ol’ days in consideration, picture this: You’re playing a multiplayer round of Star Fox 64 with your friend and you’re just about to destroy his ship. You line up your shot and fire a direct hit. Immediately after this, you look over and see the the feeling of defeat pour into his expression. With the 3DS camera, you can get that same satisfaction of seeing the look of defeat on his face while playing wirelessly. Star Fox 64 3D drops this September.

Super Mario – When New Super Mario Bros. came out for the Nintendo DS, it was a revamped version of a classic that was an instant hit. This new installment of the franchise is the first 3D portable Mario game that is built entirely from scratch. Classic elements from previous games will be incorporated, such as the ever-popular Tanooki suit. An exact release date is not yet set, but keep an eye out for it sometime this year.

Kid Icarus: Uprising – People were reeling at last year’s E3 when the announcement was made that a new Kid Icarus game was in development. More footage of the game was shown today, along with the report that 3 on 3 multiplayer battles would be available in the game. The game will also utilize the 3DS’s outer camera and Augmented Reality cards, which can be used for in-game battles.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 – Fils-Aime made it clear that this game was not a remake, but an all-new game. This new game utilizes the 3D capabilities of the hardware, allowing Luigi to explore brand new mansions full of ghosts for Luigi to cram into his vacuum cleaner.

After this wave of first party game demos, a montage of third party games played on screen, including titles such as Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Mario & Sonic, Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D, Resident Evil: Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Pacman, Galaga, Tekken 3D, and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.

Exclusive downloads from the Nintendo eShop were also announced, with Fils-Aime explaining that games from both the classic Game Boy and Game Boy Advance libraries would be available. Titles such as Excitebike that even predate these systems would also be available.

Being the enormous nerd that I am, I was waiting for Reggie to say the one word I wanted to hear: Pokemon. The proclamation of new Pokemon stuff further drove it into my head that I need to reevaluate my financial priorities so that they include a 3DS at the top of the list of things I need to buy in order to feel true happiness. Owners of the latest Pokemon games, Pokemon Black and White, will be privy to an enhanced Pokedex for the 3DS. This “Pokedex 3D” arrives with data for 16 Pokemon, the rest of which can be added via spot passes, interaction with other players, and AR markers. In addition to collecting data on Pokemon, the user can superimpose Pokemon into photos, which can then be sent to an SD card and uploaded to the Internet. Now when your boss refuses to believe that you were only late to work because a Snorlax blocked your path, you’ll have the evidence to prove it. The Pokedex 3D is only available for the 3DS and available exclusively through the Nintendo eShop. Best of all, it’s free!

Wii U Controller

Reggie Fils-Aime showing off the Wii U controller.

Once the 3DS segment wrapped up, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. Speculation has been swirling like mad regarding the latest console from Nintendo. The Nintendo Wii U put on an incredibly interesting demonstration. The controller itself houses a 6.2″ screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, analog sticks on either side of the controller, the traditional d-pad, L and R buttons on their respective side of the controller as well as left and right Z buttons on the underside, and the classic ABXY button setup. In addition to these features, the Wii U controller also packs a microphone, camera, accelerometer, and a gyroscope. Oh, and the screen is a touchscreen.

This may sound like the makings of a new portable, but it is not. Let’s say you’re playing a game on the Wii U, but someone else wants to use the TV. This used to lead to arguments and most likely fistfights, but the Wii U can be used in a way that allows the game on your television screen to be transferred to the screen on the controller seamlessly and without latency.

You can pick up right where you left off when switching from the TV to the controller screen.

Some games only require the use of the television, some only using the controller, and some that utilize both simultaneously. Either way, I know I’ll be lining up for one of these and reevaluating my friendships with loved ones who don’t do the same. Still not convinced? Then I have two words for you, doubtful reader: Backwards compatibility. The Wii U controller works not only with all existing Wii games, but all Wii accessories. Oh yeah, and you can draw on it with a stylus like a freaking tablet.

Heck yes, Nintendo.

As if that wasn’t enough, an announcement was also made that a brand new Super Smash Bros. game was in development for both the 3DS and the Wii U and that they would be able to interact with one another.  This is why we love you, Nintendo. This is why we love you.

Super Mario Bros. Mii, Shield Mii, and Chase Mii were also announced for the Wii U, but these were just prototypes that showed off the Wii U’s features and not actual games, marking the very first moment during the conference where I didn’t care what was on my screen. Sure, the demos were neat, but I’d rather have the games themselves show off the functionality of their systems.

After this, a montage of 3rd party games in development for the Wii U was shown, naming titles like Lego: City Stories, Darksiders 2, Tekken, Batman: Arkham City, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Aliens, Ninja Gaiden 3, a slew of EA titles, and many more.

So many titles!

Say what you will about Nintendo, but they know how to innovate, and they do it well. I know I’m a bit of a Nintendo fanboy, but I do my best to be honest. I’ll admit it, I made fun of the Wii when it first came out; I mocked the controller, the fact that it can’t even play DVDs, and made the ever-present Family Guy joke “No one makes fun of Adam Wii.” It’s times like this that I wish I were actually there, not only because of the exhilarating feeling that comes with being at E3, but because I’d be able to test out the Wii U myself, thus giving me the ability to write an even better review.

Perhaps next year.

E3: Microsoft conference – Please Dis-Kinect me

June 6, 2011

Okay, Microsoft. Enough is enough. We know you want us to buy the Kinect; we know you want us to buy several of them so that we may throw them on the floor and roll around on them so that we may gain their scent. But please stop cramming the Kinect down our throats. It’s nice and all, and it has its place, but that place isn’t everywhere. Regardless of this, I am going to give my honest opinions about the games I saw today at the Microsoft conference.

– Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

I’ve never been big on Call of Duty games to begin with, so this didn’t really do anything for me at all. I will, though, give it credit where I feel credit is due. The graphics were, as usual, quite stellar for live-action gameplay. However, like everyone who doesn’t care about COD:MW3, the most entertaining moment was when the controller disconnected during the live display.

– Tomb Raider

Okay, I haven’t every really delved into the Tomb Raider franchise, but this definitely makes me want to reconsider that. The gameplay demo showed at the conference started off by showing Lara Croft bound and suspended upside down (also causing me to give her the temporary nickname “Larvae Croft”). Normally, I would’ve found this to be a bit too adult for 11:30 in the morning, but then I remembered I was watching the coverage on Spike TV. The detail in the graphics was phenomenal and very reminiscent of the Uncharted series; rolling hills, tropical rainforests with lush greens… Y’know, outside. I’ll definitely be giving this a play once it comes out.

– Some EA Sports bullshit

Why are they making sports games for the Kinect? The reason so many people play sports video games is because they can’t play real sports. Moving on…

– Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Again, I don’t care much for First Person Shooters, but this one really grabbed my attention from the get-go. Usually, when I see a trailer for an FPS, I consider it a bathroom break, but this one really knew how to get me. The whole “make your own gun” thing instantly hooked me. If I’m able to make a semi-automatic sniper rifle rocket launcher, I will preorder tonight! When Skyping with Chad during the live coverage, I’m pretty sure I compared it to an armory and a Build-a-Bear workshop making sweet, sweet love.

– Mass Effect 3

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, and it may cause you to question my gamer credibility, but this is yet another franchise I just couldn’t get into. Don’t get me wrong, the mechanics are really great and it has definitely set itself apart from other games (what with the potential for steamy, lesbian alien sex in Mass Effect 2), but it’s just something that’s never been able to hold my attention. Maybe I was playing the game wrong. However, if someone handed me a controller and I started playing, I’d happily give it the ol’ college try. That is, of course, if any games coming out for the Xbox 360 decide to use controllers anymore. Which brings me to my next griping point…

– All this Kinect crap

I’ve had enough with the Kinect, and I don’t even own one! I will, though, eventually, at the behest of my fiance and her need to play Kinectimals. But in the meantime, I am perfectly capable of using a controller to scroll through menus. I have hands, and I am able to use them. In fact, I’m using them right now to type this! What are the odds?! Sometimes, after a long day of doing whatever the hell it is I do during the day, I just want to relax and play a game without having to flail around like a jackass. In addition to that, I live on the second floor of an apartment building, and I’m fairly certain my downstairs neighbor would pay my heavy-footed ass to not play Kinect.

– Coming to Xbox Live

I don’t play games online, mainly because other people play games online and follow the win-win philosophy of “If I win, you’re a n00b who needs to L2play! But if you win, then you’re a nerd who needs to get a life!” However, some very cool things are coming to Xbox Live. First and foremost, live television! The only reason I currently even have TV is because the tenant who lived here before me refuses to pay a cancellation fee, so the idea of not having to get a cable provider is a big plus for me. I will definitely be wanting more details about this as they are made available. Almost as exciting is the incorporation of YouTube! Combine these two with the already present Netflix capabilities and you’ve got a machine that can conquer just about any form of video media.

Bing is coming to the Xbox, which I’m sure came to all of you as such a shock. Who would’ve thought that the Microsoft-engineered search engine would be implemented into the Microsoft-engineered gaming console? Sure, it’s cool that all you have to say is “Xbox Bing: House of Pain” in order to quickly jump up, jump up, and get down, but I have a sneaking suspicion that people will easily slide into a habit of saying “Xbox Bing: Google.” I know I will! Anyway, back to the games…

– Gears of War 3

For a brief moment, they had to refill the cannon that shoots the word Kinect at our faces, so they used that time to talk about Gears of War 3, yet another game I am not the least bit interested in. I’m really not trying to sound jaded or cynical with all this negativity, I’m really not, but with a parade of what I consider to be overhyped games that all seem to follow the same formula, it’s difficult to get excited over everything. And because of this, the Gears of War 3 demo did not hold my interest. Ice T was there. Whatever.

– Ryse

By this time, the Kinect launcher was reloaded and firing ad nauseum once more. In fact, they were going on and on about it so much that I can’t even decipher my notes from the conference because all I wrote was “Really? More Kinect stuff? Why can’t we just use the controllers we pay so much for?” If I can’t remember anything about a game because you’re too busy yapping about how to play it without a controller, maybe you should reevaluate your priorities. Or I should take better notes. Moving on.

– Halo 4

Just let it die. We’ve had enough of the Halo franchise. It’s a boring, repetitive, “My-First-FPS”-style shooter for frat boys and angry middle schoolers.

– Forza Motorsport 4

Forza 4, Forza 4, Forza 4! I’m not excited about it, I just like the number 4. I don’t care about driving games. At all. I already own a car. Driving is not exciting to me; it’s just a necessity that gets me to Arby’s.

– Fable: The Journey

Just like Kinect, here’s another thing I simultaneously feel like we don’t need more of, but am willing to try. I don’t want to use the Kinect to hold imaginary horse reins, as this will just make me feel like a crazy person piloting an imaginary horse. Anyone who does business with an imaginary horse is a crazy person. I am not a crazy person.

– Kinect Disneyland

A cool concept and probably the first place where the Kinect seems more appropriate than the traditional controller. You explore a virtual equivalent of Disneyland. Simple concept, simple execution. Very good.

– Kinect Star Wars

Okay, maybe it’s me being a total Star Wars geek, but hell to the yes on this game! Using the Kinect to kick ass with a light saber is something I can definitely get behind.

– Kinect Sesame Street

Poor Tim Schafer. You slaved over Psychonauts and Brutal Legend only to have them be cult hits at best and now you’re making a Sesame Street game? It was very easy to hear you slowly dying inside during your presentation. Oh well, every system needs its fair share of games for kids.

– Kinect Finger Tracking

This sounds dirty, but it’s pretty neat, albeit completely useless. It’s hard to describe, so just watch this video.

– Kinect Sports Season 2

If you own a copy of Wii Sports, then you’ve seen this game.

– Kinect Dance Central 2

Sure, it’s more of the same and we all know that gamers as a whole aren’t the most coordinated bunch, but hey, at least Microsoft knows how to put on a demo that shows the game’s fullest potential.

So there you have it. Overall, Microsoft’s press conference was so-so. I think they need to rely less on how well they think the Kinect will do and just focus on the games themselves. When you focus too much of your energy on a $130 peripheral, you exclude a group of people who can’t shell out $130 just to get the full experience of games they’re already paying $60+ to enjoy. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know and I’ll get back to you tomorrow as I cover the Nintendo press conference!

Support us!

June 6, 2011

Hi, everyone! I hope you’ve been well. Anyway, Chad and I have been working our butts off trying to get an official website for the comic strip live. However, we need some help financially, as all of our money is tied up in bills and school. We pitched our idea to Kickstarter to see if we could get some help there, but alas, they rejected our proposal. SO! We have decided to do this the old fashioned way and ask you folks for help. In order to help you all pry open your wallets, we will post the same rewards for donations that we would’ve had if Kickstarter accepted our proposal. Behold!

$1 – A thank you email to cherish forever and ever.

$5 – A thank you email to cherish forever and ever, as well as your name posted on the Awesome People page (a page on the website devoted solely to financial contributors) forever and ever.

$10 – A personalized sketch of you or someone else, done by me, plus the thank you email and spot on the Awesome People page.

$15 – A song in which Chad will beatbox your name whilst I come up with a riff in Garage Band (which will be sent to you as an mp3), plus the sketch, thank you email and Awesome Person page spot.

$20 – A video thank you that you may cherish forever in which Chad and I do a short silly skit or something of the sort, plus the spot on the awesome people page.

$25 – An appearance in the strip, plus the thank you email and spot on the Awesome People page.

$50 – An appearance in the strip plus a short story about how the donor is a complete and total badass, plus the email and Awesome Person page spot.

$100 – All of the above: comic strip appearance, short story, thank you video, beatbox song (plus mp3), personalized sketch, awesome person page spot, and thank you email.

The good thing about not using Kickstarter is that there is no limit to what you can donate now. We would’ve had to set up a cap, and if we didn’t get enough donations in time, we’d get nothing at all and nobody would get their prizes. But by doing things this way, you are guaranteed your prize, plus you get it right away instead of having to wait (or potentially not get it at all). The old-school method also allows for usage of Paypal, which Kickstarter does not have. So spread the word and donate!

DONATE!

OWAZ 023 – Eye See You

June 1, 2011

We really were told that the view dictates how much we pay. I guess the fact that our particular apartment is slightly larger than the others in the complex is irrelevant as long as we don’t get to see the prettiest part of the parking lot.

Moving is never an easy process, unless you’re part of one of those religions that frowns upon having a bunch of cool shit. That’s also why religion isn’t really for me; I’m pretty sure I’d forget how to breathe if there wasn’t an app for it on my Droid. I’ve changed residence eight times in the last four years, and each time, I’m reminded of how much useless shit I have. Here’s my chart!

Home -> Apartment 1 -> Apartment 2 -> Home -> Dorm 1 -> Home -> Dorm 2 -> Home -> Apartment 3

Maybe those silly religious folk are on to something. Or they could’ve just frequently relocated like me and found it less troublesome if they said the Sky Parents frowned upon the whole idea.

Chad and I have been tossing around the idea of doing a Kickstarter page to raise money to get a full-fledged website up and running dedicated solely to the comic. Donor rewards would include original artwork, video thank you’s, appearances in future strips, and even a portion of the site dedicated to you, noble contributor! Once we flesh out the details, we’ll let you know.  In the meantime, bring in those donations! We’ll happily do this for free, as most people do, but tossing a few extra bucks our way will not in any way inhibit our creativity. In fact, it just may serve as a catalyst, as we can exchange that currency for nutrient-rich foods and beverages necessary for continued living! And being alive is surprisingly advantageous in this business!

TL;DR:  Moving is never easy, new site soon pending donations, donations good, donations, donations, donations.

DONATE HERE!