Spring 2010

I’m still alive!  I swear that I have not been kidnapped and held hostage by a cult of deranged axe-wielding Spaniards!  -… .-. .. -. –.  -… . . .-.
But first, the usual:

 New Games

  • The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (Wii)
  • Opoona (Wii)
  • Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut (Wii)
  • Little King’s Story (Wii)
  • Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)
  • Halo Wars Limited Edition (360)
  • Mass Effect 2 Collector’s Edition (360)
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector’s Edition (360)
  • Dawn of Discovery (Wii)
  • Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars (Wii)
  • Castlevania: Judgement (Wii)
  • Endless Ocean: Blue World (Wii)
  • Alone in the Dark Soundtrack Edition (360)
  • Alone in the Dark Soundtrack Edition (Wii)
  • Rabbids Go Home (Wii)
  • Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop (Wii)
  • Calling (Wii)
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (VC)
  • Pokemon HeartGold (DS)
  • Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)
  • Ju-On: The Grudge (Wii)
  • Sakura Wars: So Long My Love (Wii)

Quite a few games this update, but then again, its been a while since my last one so I had to make up for it somehow.  Unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve beaten everything on this list but I’m doing very well on most of these.  Right now I have Arc Rise Fantasia pre-ordered and I have Red Steel 2, Monster Hunter 3, Resonance of Fate, and Deadly Premonition in my Amazon.com shopping cart just waiting for some funds.  There’s also a handful of Virtual Console and WiiWare games I’d like to pick up, and I might get the South Park Tower Defense and Wallance and Grommit while they’re on sale on XBL Marketplace this week.
Now for a little bragging!  I currently number 9 on Backloggery’s Top 10 Total Wii Games and number 5 on their top 10 total GameCube games.  I’ve actually been falling down the Top 10 Wii list these past few weeks and figure I’ll probably be bumped off completely soon.  There’s a few games I’ll probably pick up once I get my refund from my school tuition but I don’t know how long I can keep myself up there.
Now, what else?  Oh, I know!

Review Dump

As some of you know, I do some writing for www.gameobserver.com every once in a while.  Unfortunately, I haven’t really worked myself up to another editorial piece but I have been writing sporadic reviews.

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

Its hard to put into words how much I enjoyed this game.  It is, at once, the best licensed game (yes, I played Arkham Asylum), the best budget title (it was only $30 at launch), and the best movie-based game I’ve ever played.  The review I wrote through the link above was written before I had seen the movie but I loved the game so much that I actually bought the blu-ray, making this the first anime I’ve purchased since Armitage III over 10 years ago.  The game is a marvelous companion to the film because it not only tells a great story set in the same universe, but the story’s own themes are a foil to those seen in the film and the two fit together beautifully.  I’m not sure if Mamoru Oshii and Hiuroshi Mori’s (the director of the film the game is based on and the author of the books the film is based on, respectively) involvement as consultants is just a glorified way of saying they played it, but the game certainly does respect to the source material.  Oh, the soundtrack is simply epic.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

If you’re coming to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories looking for another iteration of the gameplay in the past Silent Hill games, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.  If you’re looking for a tragic tale told in a mature, sometimes disturbing manner, then I can’t recommend the game enough.  I’ll admit that this game doesn’t have the same aura of fear that the others do, but the story is very human, and because of it, more touching and more tragic.  The tragedy of Harry and Cheryl in this game isn’t because they’re wrapped in in mysterious cults or dark gods about to be reborn.  Instead, the failings and faults of every character is very much real and possible and if you’re able to connect with that, the experience is unforgettable.  The game is a bit on the short side, but its meant to be played through multiple times with your choices and play style affecting things as obvious as a character’s appearance and personality to things as subtle as the graffitti scribbled on the school walls.  It may not be Silent Hill as the series is known, but I personally think its earned its place among the series’ best.

Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

People thought it was impossible but somehow, Capcom did it.  While the Wii may have missed out on Street Fighter 4 for some unknown reason (its hard to make excuses when even the iphone is getting some form of it), the Wii got the next game in Capcom’s Vs series.  I’m not sure what I really need to say about it here.  The game doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as Street Fighter IV so the ambiance is simply more light-hearted and fun and there are combat systems in place to please the hardcore fighting game fan but the game is accessible enough for those that just want to throw hadokens and summon a giant robot dog to attack their enemies.  Great fun with plenty of characters and pretty much every feature a modern fighting game fan could want, including online play.

Endless Ocean: Blue World

An unlikely sequel, to be sure, but very much appreciated.  Endless Ocean: Blue World is for those of you that liked the idea of the first game but felt that it didn’t offer a traditional enough game structure.  Blue World has a much more prominent story and is full of various side quests like salvaging and photography that will keep all those OCD gamers busy for hours.  The game also includes some element of danger when interacting with some of the more dangerous seal life.  Its still not to the point where you’re fearing for your life, but the whole thing isn’t a relaxing dip.  For those of you that would like that dip however, there’s still plenty for them to do.  The game looks even better than before and includes a huge variety of sea life in environments all around the world.  Online co-op is back but now with full Wii-Speak support.  At only $30, this game is another great deal.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

I’ve always loved the somewhat experimental nature of the Crystal Chronicles series and Crystal Bearers is the first major console entry in the series since the original game (Echoes of Time was on the Wii but that was basically a ported DS game).  The game is beautiful to look at and tales an entertaining tale.  The game has a combat system that won’t suit everyone.  You basically just pick stuff up and throw and most people will stop playing right there.  The game, however, asks that you experiment with it a bit and find the little things that make the game entertaining.  Sure you can keep picking stuff up and throwing them to kill a Behemoth, but there is a more satisfying way to accomplish the task with a little exploration.  Granted, I do wish the game would lead you through these a bit more just so you get in the right state of mind to find them.  The main story could definitely be longer and the ending is screaming for a sequel, much like Tales of Symphonia, and I certainly hope Square doesn’t take too long to revisit the Crystal Chronicles world, either the classic medieval version, or the more modern age seen here.  There are definitely more chronicles to be told.
hmm, do I have anything else?  how about…

School News

Well, Spring break was last week and I just started a new quarter yesterday.  I didn’t do too much over break except play a few games and work on a game of my own that I created in Game Design.  Its an analog (non-video) game called Dominion.  It was my final project and I sunk a lot of time into it and I was extremely happy with the results.  My professor (a former producer for various Playstation and PS2 games) is encouraging me to continue play testing and improving on it to get it to the point that it can be commercialized.  I just ordered a copy of the newest version of my game from the printers and I’ll probably print up a few prototype units to test with.  I’m also currently looking into attending GenCon this year to see if anyone’s interested.  Its really exciting and I’d probably put this project right up there with my short film back at my old school.  Wish me luck with it!
Anyways, this quarter is looking fun.  Last quarter I had one teacher I didn’t really like (as a teacher, he was pretty cool outside of class) but this quarter I have a lot of professors I’ve already had so I kind of know what to expect.
This quarter I’m taking:
Hard Surface and Organic Modelling 3D Animation: Both of these classes are being taught by a professor I’ve had before.  He was an animator at 989 Studios before teaching at my school.  Hard Surface is a class in Maya while 3D Animation is being done in 3DS Max, which I’ve been working with the past few quarters.  I took one Maya class at my old school a few years ago but I certainly don’t remember much.  My projects for Hard Surface and Organic modelling are making a liquer store interior and then making an organic character.  For 3D animation, the professor gives us an obstacle course and then we model a space ship and animate it flying through the obstacle course.  Some of the class examples were very impressive.
Sculpting for Animation: In this class we’re making a 9 character sculpture.  I’ve got a pretty ambitious idea for two angels fighting.  Its my first time sculpting so we’ll see if I can do it.  Some of the previous models from the previous class looked really cool, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to stand up with the best of them.  The professor for this class works for Adult Swim making concepts and models for things like Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum.
Level Design:  This class has us working with the Unreal Engine to build a level.  I have it with a professor I had last quarter who currently works for Sony Computer Entertainment.
Background Design and Layout:  I’m not really sure of anything about this class yet since I’ve neither taken it yet nor have I had any classes with the teacher, so I don’t know what to expect..  Its more illustration than any of my other classes though, as I’ve seen the work on display in the hallways.  The professor I know also teaches the concept art classes.
And that’s about it.  I was going to bring back my LE Review this update but I’m a little pressed for time.  It will be back, without fail, next week or later this week.  I’ve got some lost time to make up and I’ll try to post just a little more often.
Later guys!