Monday, August 1, 2011

EVO 2011

This may or may not be known to my reading audience, but I have always been a huge fan of fighting games. In youth I played a lot of Street Fighter II, even a bit of the early Mortal Kombat games (though, I never actually OWNED any of them, so it was harder for me to play them), and as I grew up, I found Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Marvel vs. Capcom, Soul Calibur, Tekken, and so on and so forth.

So naturally when I found out about a national fighting game gathering, I was excited. And for those of you following me on twitter, or friends with me on Facebook, this is naturally what the fuss was all about, EVO 2011, or the Evolution Championship Series.

But what sets this apart from other, well known competitive gaming events, such as Major League Gaming? Well, mostly because EVO is strictly fighting games, as opposed to MLG's emphasis on FPS's, though not quite limited to such. EVO is most likely the largest gathering of fighting game enthusiasts in America. Not only are a ton of fighting games tournaments held with gathering of some of the WORLD'S best fighting game players, but a ton of panels centered around upcoming and current fighting games. For example this year, they had a HUGE panel about the upcoming Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where a Capcom rep led of a list of changes between the two games, a panel on Skullgirls, one of the first new fighting games in a while, and more.

A further testament to how different both conferences are is the line up. The line up for the most recent MLG looked like this:
Halo 3 (Free For All and 4v4)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (1v1 and 2v2)
Tekken 6 (1v1 and 3v3)
Starcraft 2 (1v1)
Halo Reach (FFA and 4v4)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (4v4 360/PS3)

And EVO's line up looked like this:
Blazblue Continuum Shift 2
Tekken 6
Mortal Kombat 9
Marvel vs Capcom 3
Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition

Notice they both only share one game (Tekken 6). They are two very different beasts, and usually attract very different people. EVO used to do Super Smash Bros Brawl, back in 2008, though I have no idea why they stopped, or how what games are played are even decided.

Now again, this was my first time actually watching EVO, however, I had actually heard and known a bit about it before. I knew the names of a few top competitors, namely a man called Daigo, who had, with his Ryu, taken the Street Fighter 4 championship two years in a row, and was looking for a third time around, so we knew the Street Fighter 4 championship was going to be one to watch this time around for this reason alone.

And having watched nearly as much as I could, it was not disappointing. The first two days were the pool play, quarter, and semi-finals for all the games, with Sunday being the finals. I never would have imagined what the finals had in store for us. Just about every finals had so many surprising moments.

Blazblue was surprising, not so much in the sense of "OMG" moments, but just the character that ended up taking the championship. Hakuman, by many, was considered a low tier character, easily outclassed by a lot of Blazblue's cast, so for Spark to march into such a high profile tournament and win with such a low tier character really speaks volumes about tiers in fighting games in the first place.

Tekken 6 was actually kind of boring, with all of the finals being mostly a Bob fest, the final round even coming down to a battle between Bob and Bob. It had its moments though, and Tekken is, as always an interesting game to watch people play.

It really got interesting however when Mortal Kombat 9 started up. This was probably a perfect example of two professionals going at it. And Perfect Legend showing me throughout the entire tournament things I never knew Kung Lao could do, which is magic to me, because Kung Lao has always been my favorite Mortal Kombat character. But both players playing to their character's strenghts, back and forth the entire game. If you want to see it, here it is:

Of course, the game I was most excited for was Marvel vs. Capcom 3. So many high profile players, including my favorite, Combofiend. Again, if you're friends with me on FB, or a member of The Page itself, you probably heard me talk a lot about this individual, and while he didn't win, he's always been arguably the most exciting individual to watch. The following, is probably his most prolific match he's had (this did not take place at EVO)

And arguably the most exciting match he had at EVO:

Needless to say, he was a lot of people's favorite to go all the way this year, however, he ended up in fourth after being first sent to the losers bracket by overall 2nd place player PR Balrog, and then sent home by 3rd place player Justin Wong.

Speaking of PR Balrog, despite taking second place, he had a HUGE battle just to get to second place, and had an incredible showing in the final round, showing quite a fighting spirit. Easily his most epic moment:

Whats so important about this match is that typically, Tron has a really hard time beating Phoenix, so once it came down to her vs Tron, nobody thought PR Balrog had a chance. But to come back like that was just amazing...

However, probably the highlight for everyone's night was, naturally, Poongko vs. Daigo in Street Fighter 4. Again, Daigo coming into this was a two time SSF4 champion, so he was naturally looked at as the odds on favorite to win this year again, although a lot of American's didn't want him to. (To my understanding, America has been trying very hard to take Street Fighter from the Japanese players, much like the Japanese, or Daigo at least tried to take MvC from the American's. Daigo, interestingly enough, didn't even make it to the top 8 of MvC3, despite talking about how much training he had put into the game).

Now first off, there are a lot of factors that could have contributed to this. First off, this was the first year Daigo didn't use Ryu, so he may not have been as experienced with Yun, plus he really didn't have a lot of experience against a Seth player, and definitely not against someone as untraditional as Poongko. But still, we've never seen Daigo completely manhandled before like this, only to get eliminated by Latiff, who ended up taking second place after an unfortunately bad game in the finals. So once more, Japan ends up taking Street Fighter, but not Daigo like everyone expected.

So yeah, this is what has raptly had my attention all weekend. Just the excitement from the crowd, the incredible moments, this is EVO. Next year, I'm personally going to try and physically be there, and maybe I'll see some of you there as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Potential of Onlive

I actually remember briefly hearing about Onlive a long time ago, however, very recently I've begun to hear more and more about it, and with good reason to. Onlive actually has the potential to compete with current gen systems. I mean, just going through this system, I can point out several things this game has going for it.

1) Price
Possibly one of the biggest things going for Onlive is the price. While searching through their list of games, I've found that a lot of games were cheaper then their 360/PS3/Wii counterparts. Sometimes even upwards of $15-20 cheaper, and if you're like me, if you can find a cheaper option, odds are you're gonna go ahead and pay for the cheaper option. The other cool thing about this system is it has two ways you can play. There's a flat, monthly rate you can pay, which gives you unlimited access to any game in the library. Or, if you feel like you probably wouldn't play that often, or if you have a select group of games you want to buy, you can purchase them on a game by game basis. Onlive itself is free, however if you want to have the controller and the system that allows you to to connect that controller, it's gonna run you about $100, which, you may or may not need, depending on what sort of game you're looking to play. Something like Assassin's Creed, you'd probably want the controller, however, you might not need it as much if you were playing say, Borderlands.

2) Portablility
Obviously this is the biggest selling point of the Onlive system. If you have a laptop and wifi somewhere nearby, you can play any game in your library in that location. Starbucks, the library, anywhere with a wifi connection. And from what it seems, your wifi connection doesn't need to be particularly powerful, nor do you need an up to date system like you would if you bought the hard pc version of a lot of these games, simply because rather than downloading anything to your computer like a disc or Steam would, this system streams the game to your computer. Which again, you'd probably want a reliable wifi, but you don't need a particularly powerful one. And with the system coming to iPads and Android tablet devices, WITH a universal controller that is going to connect to these devices, the portability just gets better and better

3) Convenience
Although this may not be the biggest attraction, it is a big deal in itself. In case you've been living under a rock, you may have noticed stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video going out of business, which for some, REALLY puts a hamper on renting videos for some people, and a lot of you probably liked to rent games before you committed to buying them, right? Well this system takes that a step forward. I'm sure back when you did rent games, you probably didn't like the idea of paying $10 for a game, then $50 more if you ended up liking the game, right? Well this system allows you demo a game for up to 30 minutes FOR FREE. Plus there is a rental system for some games, if maybe you wanted to play a game, and you figured you could probably get all you wanted out of it in just a few days, so you didn't wanna buy the game. It has all of these options there that are really really convenient to it's users.

4) Built in Spectating
I know you've had moments yourself when you probably didn't really feel like actually playing, but maybe watching a friend play instead. Well, this system has a built in spectator mode, where you can watch anyone play any game they may be playing. Of course, if you don't want people watching, this may actually translate to a bad thing, and I'm not 100% if there is an option to turn this off. However, for those who are bold enough to let people watch, and those who like to chill out and watch someone play, here is your ultimate spectator sport.

The Bad:

1 (and only)) Trade ins
Yeah, I'll be honest with you, about the only actually bad thing I could actually think of that I consider a negative was the fact that there really is no trade in system. This is a problem, of course, with any downloaded game. Once you buy it, thats it. There is no return value at all. Which, again, if you're like me, sometimes getting new games for you depends on trading in old ones that you're done with. All in all though, it's a small gripe.


Honestly, there were only two things I could think of as suggestions. And one isn't really a suggestion, but really rather a given. So I guess, the given:

1) More games.
That's really about the biggest thing holding this system back, is the small list of games. Looking at the list of games, there's not a whole lot that really interests me, and those that do interest me, quite a few of them I've owned already. Of course, I'll probably buy them due to the reasons I posted above, but what would make this system SO MUCH more of a contender is if they could get more supporters behind this system. They've already gotten a few, like Ubisoft and Epic on board, just to name a few, but if they could get ALL the thrid party developers on board, that would be great

2) Better online
This is about the biggest thing I would miss, should i have to give up my X-Box 360 to play Onlive (not saying I will, mind you), is the ability to have parties, and chat with friends while playing games. To be honest, I really think that any system that has online play should be adapting to the idea of friends and parties, but this rings especially true for Onlive, and it's spectating ability. If I'm gonna watch a friend (or even a random stranger) play a game, I'd like to be able to taunt/advice/talk to that individual through something simmilar to my X-Box headset. And of course too, if one was playing online multiplayer, this would be nice too.

Final verdict:
There's been talk for a while of simply developing ONE system, and having everyone be a sort of third party developer for that ONE system. And if we were going to get to that point, in some ways, I would like this to be that ONE system. The ability to play anywhere is nice, and the simple convience of how the games work, backed by all of the video game companies, would be amazing. But then, on the other hand, I wouldn't, because then, for one, gaming becomes EVEN MORE tied to an internet connection, plus, if gaming wasn't expensive before, now it gets REALLY expensive, as that would probably eliminate the "cheaper games" factor, and eliminate the idea of trading in games to get other ones. However, for what it's worth, it does seem like a nice system that, when the iPad version and universal controller comes out, and quite frankly, I'd reccomend to others as well.

My Perscription: Check it out. Maybe try some of the free demos before you commit to using the system.
-Dr. Buck

Saturday, June 11, 2011

E3 Day 2: Nintendo

I actually filmed this ages ago. But, Windows Movie Maker FINALLY decided to let me properly edit it. So I bring you what ended up being the last bit of e3 response I ended up doing, the Nintendo Conference.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

EA 2011: Ubisoft and Sony

So after the EA conference, following soon behind was arguably two of the most anticipated companies at this year’s convention, and in their own ways, neither one disappointed. Though, I'd wager you're probably more excited to hear about Sony than you Are Ubisoft, however, Ubisoft went first, so we're gonna talk about them first. Sad? Irritated? Well that's just TOO DAMN BAD.

So of course the first person you see is the president of Ubisoft. Now I don't really blame him, as it's not really his fault, but him and his French accent was really difficult to understand. Fortunately, however, he wasn't on stage for too long.

They started off with a new Rayman game, titled Rayman: Origins. The game had a very cartoon-y look, and co-op sidescrolling platforming, that seemed to borrow quite a bit from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which, let's be honest, is not a bad thing. Personally, I think if you weren't a Rayman fan before, this one might generate a little interest. The presentation then ended with a throwback to all the Ubisoft characters, which was a nice gesture and a really fun way to kick off their conference.

From there, however, it was all downhill from here. They then brought out a man who I simply remember being nicknamed "Mr. Caffeine", and trust me, he earned that title. This man was all over the stage, with wild, over-the-top antics, which wouldn't be that bad, if these antics weren't combined with Mr. Caffeine's really bad Charlie Sheen, Dick, and Gaming jokes (yeah, this guy swore a LOT. G4 had a really hard time censoring this guy, with his random curse words. He even managed to get the word dick passed their censors).

He then talked about how gaming fell into three categories: Gaming is Adventure, Gaming is Sharing, and Gaming is Life. To kick off "Gaming is Adventure", they started with a retro looking trailer, depicting what Driver, San Francisco might look like if it were made several years ago. Following this, they then jumped into what Driver: San Fran was meant to look like in real time. Driver was quite a popular franchise back in the day, but in this day and age, it's going to have to compete a little bit with Grand Theft Auto, but more importantly, it's going to have to compete with Saints Row 3, and unfortunately, this trailer didn't really show me anything that would make me want to play it over any of the other sandbox games out there already.

Following Driver San Francisco, they jumped into a very beautiful trailer of Farcry 3. One distracting thing however, is that the first half of the trailer depicts the player having been captured by this man, who goes on this speech about insanity, which would have been cool enough, if it weren't for the fact that the speech was littered with so many swear words, at least half of his talking was bleeped out. Aside from this, however, the demo for Farcry 3 was really impressive, and is definitely a game I am looking forward to playing in the future. Not to spoil anything, but for me, this was the best trailer Ubisoft had to offer.

Following Farcry 3, they brought out a Gearbox rep to talk about a new Brothers in Arms games, this one being called Brothers in Arms: Furious Four, which promises to bring a fresh look at the WW2 FPS games. Though they didn't actually show off any gameplay, though the game does look really funny, and may actually bring a fresh look to the WW2 genre. I do hope that the game does the obvious and includes co-op online play. I do hope to find out more about this soon.

They then played a passable movie based game, The Adventure of Tin Tin. It didn't really look like it stood out any more than any other game, so I’m not really gonna focus too much on it.

So after that ultimately forgettable game, they presented us with yet another retro looking trailer, this time for Ghost Recon. This was easily the best of the retro trailers, though even it wasn't all that cool. Of course you know, however, that the next trailer they jumped into an actual teaser for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Unlike when Microsoft showed off the game, this teaser actually focused on the basic gameplay, rather than what the Kinect can do. Definitely, this game will not be for those who are used to the more fast paced experience of Call of Duty may not enjoy this games more strategic and methodical gameplay. I think Microsoft did a better job of showing it a lot, although, this one actually did show of the core gameplay.

They then jumped into the second category, "Gaming is Sharing", and starting off this category was Trackmania, and perhaps it's because I'm already a pretty huge fan of Trackmania, but I was really excited about this game. For those who do not know, Trackmania is a PC racing game. The racing is pretty standard in comparison with any other racing game, but what sets this one apart from most other games is the in depth track editor, that allows players to create, customize, fine tune, and share their own tracks. Though not much was shown in the way of gameplay, they did talk about the addition of Maniaplanet, which would allow up to 200 people playing on one track at a time, and it would introduce a brand new way of sharing tracks.

Then came a new Raving Rabbits game, titled Raving Rabbits: Alive and Kicking. The man they brought out was, uh, intriguing looking to put it nicely. But aside from him, his demonstration was actually rather amusing. Alive and Kicking, to me at least, really reminded me of Wario Ware, only for the Kinect rather than a Nintendo system, which again, is not a bad thing by any means. Again, not really gonna sell anyone on the Kinect who was questioning getting one, however, if you do own a Kinect or were planning on getting one, this one looks as though it would be a great title to get, provided you have, you know, friends.

(If this is you though, then pass)

The final category, was "Gaming is Life", which led into Just Dance 3, which is pretty much Dance Central, but with different songs (probably), and it's coming out for all three systems (Kinect, Move, and Wii). Personally, it reminds me a little bit of Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero, in the sense that whichever game you get, if you get either, will probably come down to preference, though I suppose it also depends on what systems you have available (Dance Central is a Kinect exclusive).

Speaking of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, you know that guy at every party where either game is present, sits in the back with his rocker shades, and is cool, poser persona, and tells everyone who picks up the game that they should go out and learn to play a real guitar (despite the fact that, 90% of the time, this individual doesn't know how to play it themselves)? Well Ubisoft is working on a game to shut him up. That game is called Rock Smith. Little was actually told about the game itself, however, we did find out that the game is supposed to support real instruments, and may act as a tool to teach people how to actually play guitar.

Breezing past You Shape (because I mean, let's be honest, who really gives a f*ck?), Ubisoft closed out their conference with, of course, their big game, Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Of course, they first had to retro-tize it, showing a Windwaker-esque trailer of the first Assassin's Creed. The actual trailer itself, however, was very beautiful looking. I found myself wishing the entire time that I could see it in HD. Personally, not really being a fan of the Assassin's Creed series, I wasn't too excited, but I understand why die-hard fans probably lost their minds when this trailer played. The gameplay itself was fairly action packed, highlighted by Altair operating a hand cranking flamethrower.

Overall: Aside from Farcry 3 and Assassin's Creed, nothing was really all that epic to me. I mean, several games sparked interest, but either little was shown/told about them to *really* stick out, or they just weren't THAT interesting. Combined with the fact that the guy that got most of the stage time was REALLY obnoxious and distractingly over-the-top, I didn't care much for Ubisoft's conference at all. However, we've definitely seen worse conferences, so...

My Grade: C


So of course, closing out the first day was none other than Sony, who arguably had the most pressure on them following their massive network outage/hack. Now, if you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I've been really critical of Sony, and definitely could not be called their number one fan by any stretch of the imagination. However, you might be pleasantly surprised that I actually liked quite a bit of Sony's press conference. However, don't think this means I don't have my criticisms, either.

Starting off, Sony played a cool video montage showcasing future and current PlayStation 3/PSP titles, though I really felt like this presentation lasted far longer than it should have.

Following this, the first thing they addressed naturally was the PSN outage. The man told the press you're welcome for giving you something to talk about, in what I felt was a surprisingly bold move. He then went on to thank the 3rd party developers who stuck with them through the outage (Valve and Warner Bros. come to mind), and then apologized to and thanked the Sony fans as well. He then talked about a lot of the things the network was capable of, like Netflix, Hulu, ect, which, I think was smart, but the problem was he didn't really point out anything that the 360 couldn't do as well.

Gameplay-wise, Sony started off strong with one of their best exclusives, Uncharted 3, showing that they were definitely not playing around this time. I thought it was really wise for them to first talk about such a popular title. Needless to say, the teaser itself looked really good, and did a great job of not only showing off Uncharted 3's style of gameplay, but the graphical power backing the PlayStation 3, even if the underwater portion looked a little too murky to see, and the person actually playing sucked at the game (You don't throw grenades at your enemy, then proceed to shoot them as well).

(Yeah, I think you got him)

They went even further, however, to show yet another trailer for the game, this time, in 3D (of course, this was only to the benefit of those actually there), letting folks know that this was going to be one of many games that were going to be 3D capable.

Right after that, out came an Insomniac rep to talk about Resistance 3, and played another 3D trailer. The demo did a really good job of pointing out what Insomniac does better that arguably anyone else, and that’s coming up with really unique weaponry. At the end, they announced a Move bundle for Resistance 3 coming out at a later date.

They then briefly talked about 3D capable, HD re-releases of the two God of War games that came out on the PSP, and a Ico/Shadow of the Colossus package. I just want to take a moment to point out that this is AWESOME. If you haven't seen either Ico of Shadow of the Colossus, you don't know that they are both absolutely gorgeous looking games, so the ability to see them in HD might be too much for your brain to handle.

They then announced a 3D display/television that is supposed to dismiss the idea of split screen and give two gamers playing in the same room their own full screen. This bundle is set to come with the display, obviously, a pair of the 3D glasses, hdmi cable, and a copy of Resistance 3, all for $500, which, for what it is, is actually a pretty decent price.

Next up, they decided to step away from 3D, and focus on their motion control based add on, the PlayStation move. Here's where they really fell flat, however. They decided to start off with a demonstration of how the Move will work with NBA 2K12, which ultimately just boiled down to pointing and clicking to perform different actions, and didn't really feature much "movement" at all. They brought out Kobe Bryant to demonstrate how anyone could play using the move, and well, he actually ended up not doing too great at the game. Unlike what Microsoft did with the Kinect, showing it off in a unique and exciting fashion, this demo really made me realize how gimmicky the Move really was, and only seemed to confirm that Sony did this in an attempt to fight the Wii.

They then followed up with a new game called Medieval Move, this time in the first 3D PlayStation Move demo. This one did a FAR better job than showing off the capabilities of the PlayStation Move, and actually looked like a slightly interesting game, however again, I couldn't help but feel that this game was supposed to be their answer to Legend of Zelda.

They then talked about InFamous 2, which is easily my favorite of the PlayStation 3 exclusives, however, I was a little confused as to why they even chose to talk about this game, considering that InFamous 2 is set to be released before e3 is even over. They also talked about Little Big Planet 2, a game that was already out, and mentioned that they were going to add more Move control to the game in the future.

They then played an unfairly short teaser for Starhawk game, which looks REALLY cool, however, seeing as they didn't even talk about the game, I can’t really say much about it.

The quickly moved on to the return of Sly Cooper, in a very cartoon-y looking teaser, which was jam packed with that special charm that only Sly Cooper can bring to the table. However, once more, they didn't actually speak on Sly Cooper, so I can't really talk much about it.

Next up was a FPS called Dust, which was created by, and is supposed to be able to connect to PC MMO Eve Online, though, whether this connection is only in story or actual gameplay was not talked about. The also talked about Move capability and NGP connectability, though the extent of this wasn't really talked about either. Overall, not being a fan of Eve Online, I simply dismissed this one as, "okay". I am interested in learning more about it at a later date, especially in finding out how this game is going to connect to Eve Online, but aside from that, it looked like just another Sci Fi FPS.

Following this, they moved on to Bioshock: Infinite. Right off the bat, the first thing you'll notice is that the art style is a huge departure from the previous two games more gritty look. A 2K rep who previously had many negative things to say about the Move came out to talk about how he was inspired to create a new Bioshock game featuring Move controls (mimicking last year, when the man behind Portal 2, who had previously called the PS3 a total failure, came out and praised the PS3). He also talked briefly about a new Bioshock game in development, and ended by stating how everyone who buys the PS3 version of Bioshock: Infinite will also receive a copy of Bioshock 1.

After briefly talking about Saints Row 3 (a game I’m personally really excited for), a new Star Wars games, a couple of PS3 exclusive tracks for SSX and Need for Speed: The Run, and how the PS3 version of Battlefield 3 would come with a free copy of Battlefield 1943, they then talked about a new system called PlayStation Suite, which is supposed to bring PlayStation content to certified phones and tablet device (which, I'm only going to assume that the iPad and iPhone will be among those that are certified). They stated they would have more details in the future, and didn't go too in depth on this either.

But of course, after this, they had to finally address what a lot of people tuned into the Sony press conference to see, and that is their brand new handheld system. First order of business was, to, of course, give the system an actual name, which they settled on the PlayStation Vita (Vita translating to Life). Now while the things they do show of later that I will talk about in a moment are impressive, i do have to stop a moment.

What he bragged about for the Vita was a touch screen and dual cameras for augmented reality. Already sounds familiar, doesn't it? Well, if you're like me, you instantly pictured competing portable gaming device, the 3DS. And this is what seriously irritates me about Sony. As I've talked about before, why is it that they simply CANNOT come up with their own original ideas? I mean, they created the Move to compete with the Wii, and the Move's controllers look fairly identical to Wii controllers. In fact, everything they did with the move looked like things that the Wii itself could do, albeit, not as good looking. But digressing from this, they jumped onto 3D, conveniently enough right after the launch of the 3DS, and now even their handheld system is taking a page from the 3DS's book. I really really would like to see, just once, Sony come up with their own original idea.

He also bragged about the Vita having dual analog sticks and sixaxis control, which is nice, but once again as previously stated, these are things that SHOULD have been on the PSP already, so I wasn't very impressed. He then announced 3G support, which sounded interesting, until he announced that it would be supported by AT&T (which actually drew a few boos from the audience. Verizon baby). He also talked about party support, just like the 360's chat parties, which is cool, and Sony does need something like that, but this just made me wonder why they didn't put that on the PS3 first, which, arguably, demands it far more than the new Vita. He closed out talking about a new system called Near, which was, in other words, the 3DS's Street Pass, except on, you know, the Vita.

All criticism aside, however, they started off strong with an Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the Vita. Here is what did impress me about the Vita. This game looks just as good as it's PlayStation 3 counterpart, letting us know that Sony was going to step it up in the handheld realm as well. They showed off different control options which included touch, tilting, and traditional button control.

From this, they jumped into a game called Ruin, a unique action RPG. Since it was on a handheld system, the demo itself was a little hard to make out, however, the did announce that the game would have social network capability, and a unique rival system that almost creates an MMO like feel. They also showed off how you could take your game, and connect it to the PlayStation 3, allowing you to seamlessly jump from the Vita to the PlayStation 3.

They then jumped into Mod Nation Racers, which featured a stage creation system, which was similar to, but far superior to Diddy Kong Racing DS. They also showed a teaser for Little Big Planet for the Vita, featuring new touch based minigames and new control elements.

They then brought out a Capcom rep to talk about Street Fighter x Tekken, or rather, specifically the Vita version. He announced that that the Vita version of the game would feature Cole from Infamous, which, while I do like this character, really baffles me. I mean, first of all, why Cole? Cole really doesn’t have the feel of either a Street Fighter or Tekken character. In fact, he kind of reminded me of Star Wars characters in a Soul Caliber game, though not quite THAT out of place. At least when they shoved Kratos on to Soul Caliber and Mortal Kombat, he felt a little more at home. But I also have to wonder, why include a guest character in a crossover game? I mean, the big attraction here is Street Fighter and Tekken characters meeting; characters from two of the biggest fighting game franchises. Why throw a third party in there? That’s kinda like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 featuring Master Chief. Just... why?

After that, they wrapped up by announcing a price for their new system, $249 for the Wi-Fi only version, and $299 for the 3G version. Both prices being a very smart move for this new handheld, and broke the recent trend of Sony WAY overcharging for their systems in recent years.

Overall: Again as a reader of this blog would know, Sony would have to push and push hard to really impress me, but I'm happy to admit that they did. While I'm still not impressed with the Move, nor convinced that the Move will be able to out-do the Kinect, and I am still considerably irritated with how much Sony seems to simply copy their competitors, I was impressed. I think this time around, they actually managed to create a handheld system that I think will give Nintendo a run for its money (though, I don't think it will ultimately do better than the 3DS). They weren't ridiculously over-the-top or overly gimmicky with their presentation, which was also a plus. At the end of the day, Sony went in, and hit hard. They addressed their outage, and showed us that they were already working to overcome this blunder. Unlike Microsoft, Sony focused on the exclusives that were going to bring them to the table, and gave several significant reasons in an attempt to get people to purchase the PS3 version of cross-platform releases. I definitely think Sony has a strong year ahead of them, and both Microsoft and Nintendo want to take note. Easily the most impressive conference day 1.

My Grade: A

Monday, June 6, 2011

E3 2011 Day 1: Microsoft and EA

So of course, the long awaited date has finally arrived. The first day of e3 is here (and by the time you read this, it will probably already have passed), and it was a very very interesting setup. We marched over to a friends house who actually had g4 to watch the coverage they had on tv, and had laptops ready to watch the confrences that took place online, and an iPad to take notes on. And man have i been taking a lot of notes. I've been pounding away at the virtual keyboard jotting down my opinions on all of the different cofrences and games I've seen thus far.

Now there's a lot of e3 to discuss, and even I would have to admit there's probably quite a bit that I haven't even seen yet, so for the most part, this is going to mostly cover the confrences. I want to break them down from presentation, to the actual games themselves, and then combine it into an overall ranking. Of course, we can't actually pick a winner yet, since we still have Nintendo to tomorrow morning, and we know they will have quite a bit to contribute to the entire event.

Either way, if you were paying enough attention and new to look online or watch on Spike, you watched Microsoft kick off the entire event. If you're strictly watching the G4 television coverage, than you probably missed Microsoft, and will have to wait until tomorrow in order to see their confrence. Also, if you weren't paying attention, you probably missed the EA confrence too, but more on that later.

With Microsoft kicking of the entire event, you knew they had to go big. Really big. So it actually makes perfect sense that they would kick things off with Modern Warfare 3. While there have been several parties complaining about the frequent releases of Call of Duty games and how they hardly seem to change between game to game, there is no denying that there are several people out there who are very excited for Modern Warfare 3. One thing I do want to adress before going into the demo itself is a question that many people have asked "Why start off with a multi-console game?". Simply put, while it is true that Modern Warfare 3 is not console exclusive, it is true that the Call of Duty series seems to favor the 360 over the Playstation 3, which is why, for example, the DLC for such games always appears on the 360 quite a while before the Playstation 3 gets, so it makes sense that Microsoft would begin with Modern Warfare 3.

As far as the presentation goes, it was pretty standard, aside from a humorous moment at the begin where the the player's controller disconnects. It started off slow with the underwater portion, but then after skipping ahead (which SERIOUSLY irritated me. I mean, really? You literally programed a message "In the interest of time" into your demo?) it jumped into an actually quite interesting looking battle in downtown Manhattan.

(Yeah, it was something akin to that, actually, though, less furry)

I personally am really interested in the campaign of this one. I really do like the idea of a World War 3 game. Aside from that however, I think if you're a fan of Call of Duty, you'll get this game, but if you're not, you won't. I doubt this game will really bring a lot of new fans to the series, but will really appeal to existing fans.

Up next from Microsoft was the new Tomb Raider reboot. Right off the bat, I do have to say that this was one of my favorite demos that we saw the first day. With the Uncharted franchise dominating this sort of adventure games the last few years, when Tomb Raider came back, they really had to go big to compete with Uncharted, and I think they are going to do just that. From opening to finish, the Tomb Raider trailer was dynamic, intense, and exciting. I do really like Lara Croft's new look, as well. It's not nearly as "sexy" as her previous appearances, but I appreciate the grittier, more realistic look about her.

About the only thing I really could complain about as far as this trailer goes, was meerly the fact that Lara Croft talked a LOT throughout this trailer. It didn't ruin the entire thing, but it was really really distracting to hear her narrate all of her entire escapate, from when she had to escape her bonds at the begining to just escaping the cave. By the end, you were just really really hoping she'd stfu. However, all negatives aside, (and this coming from someone who definitely was NOT a Tomb Raider fan over the years, I'm really excited to get my hands on this game.

After that, an EA rep came out to talk about EA games (mostly their sports games), and talk briefly how future EA games will utilize the Kinect. He specifically mentioned that Tiger Woods, FIFA, Madden, and another mystery game to be announced at a later time would all have Kinect support. He also announced near the end, without going into specific details, that a future Sims game would have Kinect support.

Next up was then a Bioware rep, to talk about Mass Effect and confirm rumors floating around that Mass Effect 3 was going to have Kinect support. From what we saw, the Kinect isn't going to allow you to step into Shepard's shoes yourself and allow YOU to be the controller. Insteand, the Kinect simply adds on voice control abilities, allowing you to simply speak dialogue options rather than cycling through them, and allowing you to command your squad through voice commands in game. It is pretty cool, especially since commanding your squad, which should allow you to command them in a far easier fashion. Odds are, it's not gonna make you rush out and buy the Kinect if you're already getting the game, nor is it going to make you rush out and buy the game if you already own a Kinect, however, if you do own a Kinect, and you are planning on getting the game, it should be a nice little function. Of course, we'll talk about Mass Effect itself more during the EA portion of the blog.

Then came what was, argueably the best use of the Kinect tonight, and that was Ghost Recon Future Soldier. The Ubisoft rep was really hard to understand (more on him later), however, the demonstration ROCKED. Gun smithing looked amazing, not to mention actually playing and shooting with the Kinect. Hopefully this game isn't all hype, but should it live up to the demonstration, this may just very well be the first Ghost Recon game I play.

A few things I caught in between here was the Gears 3 demo, and a few Kinect dashboard capabilities. Admitabley, I somewhat missed this part due to a family issue.

The first full thing I came back for was a teaser for a new Kinect game called Ryse. At first I thought it was a teaser for God of War on the 360, however, what it did actually turn out to be was a nice little surprise. It looks like it may turn out to be a very nice adventure game on the Kinect. I was really sad however that nobody actually took the time to stop and talk about the game (a problem I'd end up having a few more times later in the night). I really would have liked details for this game. It's one of the few games that actually made me really interested in getting a Kinect.

Folowing that unfortunately brief teaser, we were treated to a voice that all hardcore Xbox fans should recognize, and that's the announcer for the Halo franchise, He talked us through a trailer for the remake of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, and from what they showed us, it looks like a really decent visual revamp of the original game. If you've never played the original game (like me), this might be a good time to get into it if you're interested. This revamp is not only bringing back the single player campaign, but the multiplayer aspects as well, so there will be PLENTY of game here.

They followed this with, what else? One of the most boring teasers of the day, the Forza Motorsport teaser. Now while I do have to give them a thumbs of for using one of my favorite songs of last year (Power - Kanye West), ultimately, I felt the same way I did about Modern Warfare 3: I dont think this teaser is going to bring any new fans to the series.

Then out walked a man I love and hate all at the same time, Peter Molyneux, to talk about Fable, naturally. Now we all know his track record at e3, he ALWAYS talks about things the game is going to have in it, and only half of what he says actually end up in the game. This time however, he didn't really talk about the game, but instead let the game speak for itself. This game, much like most of the other games we've mentioned so far, has Kinect support, however, I do believe that Fable: The Journey, may be controlled entirely through Kinect, which looks like it will bring an interesting experience to the game. The teaser saw the player driving a horse carriage and casting spells in combat all using the Kinect. This game looks, very very interesting. The opening of the game had Theresa speak about the imminent destruction of Albion, and how heros were no longer being born, so they must be made. If nothing else, the story to this game will be one that will shake the history of the Fable franchise.

They then quickly talked about how Minecraft is coming exlusively to the Xbox, and would also have Kinect support as well, before jumping over to Kinect: Disneyland Adventures. This game is supposed to bring the entire Disneyland park to you, you know, just in case you could never actually make it to Disneyland yourself

(If you don't come to him, he will come to you)

There are different worlds based on different Disney properties (specifically the showed off Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland), which looked cool enough, though they looked very simmilar as well. All in all, it looks like it would be a cool looking game for kids, especially for those that can't make it to the actual Disneyland.

Next up was Kinect for Star Wars, which yes, finally allows you to unleash your inner Star Wars kid. Though the demo didn't quite work as smoothly as they might have hoped, it did look cool enough. However, I do believe it is based on the animated Clone Wars series, so if you're not a fan, you might be a little disappointed.

Following this was probably my biggest wtf moment of the day. This was another Kinect game known as Once Upon a Monster, based on Sesame Street. The whole game was looked fun for the kids, but the entire demo was simply silly looking, though, innocent enough. You got to see Cookie Monster and Elmo shake around like they were in an earthquake, tangle with a Galoof, and watch puffalopes walk by. All in all, its a pretty innocent game.

Next was the Kinect Fun Labs, which was ultimately just a fun tool for Kinect owners to really experiment with their Kinect. Fun Labs is really three games in one, including first, people scanner, which allows the Kinect to scan your, and make an avatar that looks just like you, right down to the clothing you are wearing. The face recognition is pretty simmilar to the Mii creator on the 3DS, and appeared to be about as accurate. Finger Tracking was easily the coolest of the three, which allows one to create 3D drawings, which was pretty amazing looking, especially if one actually had a 3D tv. The last one, object scanner allows you to scan an object, like, a teddy bear for example, and then play as them in game. They really didnt show of this one outside of simply moving around the object they brought into the game, so hopefully there will be more to it then that. In the end, it was cool but still didnt really make me want to rush out and buy a Kinect.

They then played a short teaser for Kinect Sports Season 2. They claim its going to be "more realistic" than ever, with voice suppoer and new full body gestures. Looks pretty passable, though I will admit I'm even curious to see how Kinect Football will play out.

Harmonix then came out to talk about Dance Central 2, which finally announced multiplayer dance, and a campaign mode, and new songs, plus carry over from the last game. Overall, it looked really epic!

And of course, how else would Microsoft end their confrence than with a teaser for Halo 4, which of course, would have been a lot cooler had the news not been leaked already before the confrence. Regardless of this fact, it was pretty intelligent for them to close out on Halo 4, argueably the most anticipated possible Microsoft teaser.

Overall, I don't think Microsoft disappointed. I think i would have liked to see less Kinect based demos for those of us who have not purchased a Kinect yet, though it does make sense that they would focus heavily on this system that they poured a ton of money into. I also would have liked to see more than the obvious, meaning a new, original game, and not just a bunch of games that were connected to pre-existing franchises; something new, fresh and original, but then again, I supppose that job goes to the third party developers. Their presentation was fairly simplistic, not really gimmicky or over the top, which I think worked in their favor, but at the same time, didn't really quite work in their favor.

My grade: B-.

Following Microsoft, for those who bothered to check online, found out that EA was also having a confrence. After looking down a place that had already archived the confrence since I had missed the live presentation, I actually found one of the most enjoyable presentations we saw on the first day.


EA started off strong with a trailer for one of their two biggest games this year, Mass Effect 3. One of the earliest things they talked about was how new players would be able to jump into this one without having played the previous two games, while at the same time, those who have been playing the last two and carrying over the same character from each game would have all the choices they made in the previous two come to a dramatic point in this game. They then proceeded to jump into an actual gameplay demo. Graphically, it doesnt look much better than the previous two Mass Effect games, however, even within simply the demo alone, you could feel everything coming to a dramatic climax that *really* makes you want to play this game, especially if you've been keeping up with the series.

Second EA game on the list was the next Need for Speed game called, The Run (no, not The Runs. Thats a totally different game). The first thing they made sure to mention was how the Auto Log system would now track ones entire career, and not just portions of it. They also spoke and then showed off different action sequences where you actually stepped out of your car, and had some rather epic on foot action sequences. However, while this teaser may have won over some new fans, ultimately it did feel like yet another Need for Speed game that would mostly tailor to pre-existing fans.

The next teaser was, at least graphically, the single BEST looking trailer I saw today. I'm not quite sure if it will be the way actual gameplay looks but if the cutscenes for The Old Republic look just as good as the teaser did, I will be a very happy individual. I am very much interested in this game, and I am neither a Star Wars or Old Republic fan.

They then moved into a nearly equally as beatiful SSX teaser. This one was another one that got me interested in a series that i was never really a fan of before. Through satalite technology, EA promises to bring realistic recreations of actual mountains for one to snowboard down, in three different play modes.

Following this was the two biggest sports games in the EA library, FIFA and Madden. Fifa adds several different aspects to the gameplay including tactical defending and a player impact engine. They also announced a new FiFA football club, which promises to connect fans to the real soccer world, and different fans. It'll come with challenges based off of real live soccer games as well.

Madden however, looked largely the same. Despite the fact that the president of EA talked about not having random celebrities, they brought out three football players to promote the game. These three players were supposed to be representative of new features that were only actually talked, and not actually shown off.

The next two games included a new Sims social that looks as though it will allow you to bring your Facebook friends into your Sims world. A very interesting project that i have to say, I'm quite intrigued in seeing how it actually works. They also talked briefly about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which didnt really seem to stand out from any other fantasy RPG, though it looked impressive for what it was.

Following this, they brought out an Insomniac rep to talk about a new game titled Overstrike. This was yet another very crisp, detailed, beautiful looking trailer for a very interesting, Borderlands-esque squad based FPS. I am very very interested to see this title, not only due to this trailer, but due to the fact that it's an Insomniac game, which, as we all very well know, is the creative masterminds behind the Ratchet and Clank series.

EA then decided to close out with their other big title, the "Call of Duty Killer", Battlefield 3. And I personally, think that it very well may earn that self-proclaimed title. Needless to say, as far as FPS's go, Battlefield 3 looks simply AMAZING, with its brand new engine, Frostbite 2, which boastsfully destructable environments, and a very realisitc an cinematic visual feel. The trailer they played did seem to drag along slightly longer than I feel it needed to be, but at the end of the day, it looks like it wil be a steady competitor with Modern Warfare 3.

Overall: EA was VERY impressive in their comfrence. Minus Madden, everything they showed off today was incredibley beautiful and impressive looking. Personally, I think EA is going to have a really good year this year, and is definitely a company to keep your eyes on. Much like Microsoft, they werent overly flashy, or over the top, and simply let the games speak for themselves. However, this tatic DEFINITELY worked better for EA than it did for Microsoft, leading to one of the best presentations thus far.

My Grade: A

But as you probably already know yourself, this was in fact, NOT all that happened within the first day. We still have Ubisoft and Sony to cover. So check back very soon for my opinon on these two powerhouse company presentations.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Update: E3 2011

So as you may or may not know, e3 2011 is right around the corner. Which actually means quite a few things blog.
1) This means until e3, you probably wont see much of me in either vlog or blog form.
2)During e3, I'll be posting quite a bit, in either blog or vlog form. You could proabably expect 1 to 2 post for each day of e3, covering reactions, opinions, whats cool, and what's not. And hopefully, by the end of the convention, we'll be able to pick a "winner" for e3. I'll try and mix things up and bring both written blogs and vlogs.
3) It will also mark this blog becoming a year old. If you remember correctly, this blog was created around the time e3 finished last year (as a matter of fact, it was created as a method for me to talk about last years e3 initially).

Needless to say, Im excited about this years e3, and I look forard to hearing everyone's input on the event!
-Dr Buck

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Gaming Goals #1 Backtracking Pt. 1

So yeah, you're about to see you Doctor in all of his unimpressive glory! In my first vlog ever, I talk about the first in my list of gaming related goals, and that is to finish out my backlog of uncompleted games:

And while you're here, tell me what you prefer? Blogs, vlogs, or a mix of both?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Nintendo 3DS is coming.

First of all, to briefly explain my absence: Slowly, Im working on bringing video to this blog. Meaning, sooner or later, I plan on actually taking this blog into the video era! Which means, yes fellow gamers, you will be able to see and hear your doctor live and in person!

But that technology isnt available to me yet. But there is no way I could pass up on blogging about the newest console setting the gamer discussion board ablaze, and that system being the 3DS.

Europe is getting this fancy new handheld system on March 25th, and I've heard that we're getting it March 27th (although that was only through Twitter, so I could definitely be wrong), and anyone who watched the event in Europe knows why this is a big deal. All of the launch and near launch titles look INCREDIBLE. Super Street Fighter 4? Looks just as impressive as it did on the console versions. Legend of Zelda OoT? Looks BETTER than it did before, and for a 64 game, that game looked incredibly impressive originally.

But here's the question on everyone's mind: $250 at launch, worth it or no? And I've heard arguements for both sides, but I'm going to tell you why I feel that yes, it is very much worth it.

First of all, everyone I talk to dwells on two issues: 1) the 3D 2) the fact that its a portable system. Well firstly, stop dwelling on the 3D aspect, because here's the reality: The 3D, is only ONE aspect of this system. An aspect that really, should be looked at more as an added bonus to what this handheld system can do. The real drawing point of this system? It's a handheld system capable of competing against current gen consoles. This console is capable of fully running Gamecube, Playstation 2, and X-Box games. As a matter of fact, Tales of the Abyss, a MASSIVE, and quite frankly gorgeous RPG for the Playstation 2 is on the list of future releases for the 3DS. And even though it might not be able to play a 360 or PS3 game, it is capable of producing a game with just as good graphics (I.E. Street Fighter 4). So don't get hung up on the fact that it plays games in 3D. Focus on the fact that this handheld system, has incredible power behind it.

As for those who are stuck on the fact that it's a handheld system, I'd like to argue that the fact that it is a handheld system is exactly why it is worth that price. The fact again, that games look just as good as PS3 and 360 games, but are still less than both of those systems, plus you're not limited to one particular area leads me to argue that Nintendo could have even charged MORE for this system. Originally, people were thinking this was going to be a $300-500 system. The fact that they decided to release it at $250 is incredible.

Also remember, for those who are thinking "Why would you charge only 50 dollars less than the consoles for a handheld system?" Remember two things: The Playstation 3, debuted at $600-700. As far as IM concerned, that's the biggest rip off in release price. But notice it's down to $300. Same with the X-Box, which was originially running $400-500 at it's release date. Why is that? Because they've been out for a while, meaning the price dropped. On top of that, nobody complained when Sony's utter failure of a Portable system debuted at the EXACT SAME PRICE.

In closing, I'm just going to put it like this. If you find yourself in March with $300 dollars, and you're wondering whether you should get the 3DS, or a console, go with the 3DS + game, especially considering the incredible list of launch titles they have planned. The 3DS is nothing short of a revolutionary handheld system, which this blogger believes will pretty much cement Nintendo as the king of handheld. Notice that all of the current gen consoles have been around for a long time. Because they're kept alive by the fact that there really is no need to update to a newer, bigger system with the fact that they're all very powerful systems, and they have DLC keeping their games fresh. Nintendo wanted to do the very same thing with their handheld system, and I believe with the 3DS, they will manage exactly that. The 3DS is vastly worth the $250 Nintendo is asking for it. All I'm asking is: If you're going to argue whether or not $250 is too much for the system, keep in mind there is a difference whether or not it's worth $250, and whether or not you can afford it. Nintendo shouldn't sell their system short just because you might not have the money.

My Perscription: When you have the money, get this system.
Dr. Buck

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Double Review: DKC Returns and Fable 3

I know I know, I said in my update I wasn't going to do a review (so I'm fixing it by doing two, right?), but I actually have two good reasons for changing it.

Firstly, my original blog post was going to be about Controversy in Gaming. But as I started typing it, I realized usually when I talk about these things, I tend to have someone to debate and discuss against. It's a little hard trying to simply type on my own. So maybe one day I'll come back to the idea, but I can't do it just yet (perhaps as my first video post?)

Secondly, I got both of these games on Black Friday, and have been playing them non-stop, so I figured it might be a good idea to review them while they're fresh in my mind.

So lets start with Donkey Kong Country Returns!

This game is visually impressive, to say the VERY least. At times, this game is absolutely beautiful at times.

(This, of course, is one of those times)

Team Retro, as you know, are the people that took Metroid into the 3D, first person perspective, so you already know if anyone can handle bringing back the Donkey Kong Country series, its them. They pay attention to every visual detail in this game. The caves are dark, damp, and murky, while the forest is lush and mysterious. Simply put, I don't have any complaints about the way this game looks at all. It captures the very feel of the original Donkey Kong Country, while giving it a fresh, new outlook.

Normally I would include voice acting in this portion, though, since there's very little actual voice acting in this game, there isn't much to say.

That being said, the music in this game is just as impressive as the visuals. You might find that a good portion of the soundtrack are updated, newer versions of songs heard in the original Donkey Kong Country Returns, although a few newer songs are added to the list, including the incredibly catchy theme that plays any time and of the Tikis make an appearance. But this is okay. I promise you, if you're either a fan of good video game music, and/or the soundtrack of the original Donkey Kong Country, you'll have little to no problems with the music in this game.

Here is where we come to the bulk of the game. Gameplay, of course!

Now our Simion friend is very seldom given credit for this, but as far as platforming goes, Donkey Kong is often put in titles that can stand toe-to-toe with some of fellow rival and Nintendo teammate, Mario. It really depends on your playstyle however. While Mario features more fine-tuned, finess, while Donkey Kong's hulking frame causes him to lumber around a little more. However, while Mario remains the king of platforming (especialy since Mario's had a far better career in both 2D and 3D platforming), whether or not you decide to play New Super Mario Bros. Wii, or Donkey Kong Country returns, is simply a matter of preference (though, I would definitely reccomend both).

Speaking of the original game, you'll find that a few of the things in the original game have been removed. Firstly, there's no more swimming levels. (I know how utterly disappointed all of you are). They've also gotten rid of every animal that wasn't Rambi the Rhino. Which doesn't really make the any worse, just, if you were looking forward to any of these things, or maybe the swimming levels are your favorite part (which, if it was, you have an odd sense of fun), this might not be the game for you.

What sets Donkey Kong Country Returns apart from pretty much any Super Mario game is difficulty. Long story short, DKC Returns will KICK. YOUR. ASS. Im not even kidding. No matter who you are, you will die several times in this game. Which, if you remember, the original Donkey Kong Country was difficult as well. But this game takes that difficulty to a brand new level. It starts out easy enough, as any game should, but by the time you make it to the cave world, you will want to rip your hair out.

Now if you watch that video you'll see, what was (for me at least), probably the single most frustrating level in this stage. Now this person does a pretty good job, but keep in mind that this person doesnt try to collect anything, save for the puzzle piece at the begining. But imagine me, who's personal goal was to try and collect all the K-O-N-G letters, and Puzzle pieces when I can find them. This level was sheer hell.

Momentary Diversion: As a general rule of thumb, the Puzzle Pieces typically aren't very hard to get to, just not in obvious spots. The letters are usually put right out there for you, but you'll have to use all of your platforming prowess to get to them.

And this is only an example of how hard this game gets. But this game is also that sadistic sort of difficulty, as in you NEVER GET GAME OVER. Extra lives are in abundance, as are the bannana medals, which you can use to buy more extra lives. I currently have 80+ lives and nearly 300 bananna medals. But this just means you have no excuse to quit, no excuse to give up. If you quit, you revoke your gamer card. So if your friend is suddenly bald next time you see them, I wouldn't be surprised if this game was the culprit.

But is this a bad thing? Not at all. As a matter of fact, this to me is what real hardcore gaming is. And this brings up another point. Never have I played a game this difficult, and with this many challenges in it (ranging from the time trial challenges, the collection challenges, on top of simply clearing each level) on any other system. So to say the Wii isn't for hardcore gamers is absolute bullsh*t. Just because a game doesn't feature adult themes, doesnt make it hardcore.

That rant aside, the only negative thing I have to say about this game is that the bosses, in comparison to the the difficulty of the main portion of the game, seem to be rather easy, which was also a problem in the original Donkey Kong. Although, the bosses in this time are much more varied than the original, and feature a few more differently challenges, they're still fairly easy in comparision to the rest of the game, which is a little disappointing at the end of the day.

Overall, if you own a wii, you should own this game. It's probably the best, non Mario 2D platformer out there, and right along with with Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, it's probably the hardest Wii game out there. Regardless, it's a really great game, especially for those looking for a challenge that hasn't been present for a long time in gaming. My score: 9.5 out of 10.

Fable 3:

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Fable 3. As a long time Fable fan, I wanted to pick this game up, run home, play it, and give it the perfect 10 it deserves. But some of these "dynamic changes", really drag the game down. So I wanted to hate it. I wanted it to be such an absolute failure that I could vent about it, and rightfully tell people how bad it sucked. But there's enough good here so that it still qualifies as a good game. So I guess we'll dive in and find out what I'm talking about.

The game is improved in look over Fable 2, though not by much. The cutscenes do have a particular polish that wasn't present in the previous game, but aside from that, the game looks largely the same. Granted, that isn't necessarily bad, as Fable 2 wasn't a bad looking game by any means, but it would have been nice to see at least a little bit of an increase in visual pleasure, though, sometimes you get the feel that all of the visuals in the game are too much for an X Box 360 to handle, since the game is prone to random slowdowns and, albiet very rare, crashes. But again, thats very rare, at least, due to visuals.

You will find, however, that the typical information on the screen in previous games has been done away with. And this begins number one of the changes I didn't like. They decided instead, that the screen was going to fade to grey as you lost health, which, as you know, is something more recent FPS have done. And this would be okay (though, I don't think it was really necessary), if only there weren't a few problems with it, like the fact that IT BARELY FADES. Granted, if you're like me, you probably go out and purchase a billion potions (though, this game does have a limited stock of items at any given time, yet another change I don't like, abliet a minor one), so you probably won't die, because they do start prompting you to use the potions around the time you hit about halfway dead, but if you don't have any, then you're most likely screwed, since the screen only looks slightly grey before you die. Granted, there is a slightly audible heartbeat noise once you hit about halfway once again, and if you're looking out for it, the corners of the screen begin to look slightly red, so I guess these are minor complaints, but what was the problem with simply leaving the health bar at the top of the screen? It's not like it took up that much space, and I highly doubt anyone was complaining about it's existance.

The soundtrack is your typical fantasy score, filled with orchestral, Lord of the Rings style music. In reality, you're probably not going to have a particular song that you like or dislike, unlike a game such as Super Smash Bros Brawl, or even DKC Returns, mostly because all of the music seems to flow together, and isn't really distinguishable. And this isn't really a bad thing, mind you. It means the music is never really annoying, or particularly overpowering, but serves the enhance the emotion experience, like back ground music should. Its comparable to going to a fantasy movie, or something of that sort.

As far as voice acting goes, well, to put in simple terms, it's fantastic. Gone are the days when you simply play as yet another silent hero who simply grunts and groans.

(Dear Video Game developers, THIS should be the only silent hero on the market anymore)

Both the male and female characters now have their own voice actors. Granted, the don't have the most lines in the play, but your character actually speaking adds a lot to the the entire experience. The other voice actors are really good as well, but it should be specifically noted that John Cleese, of Monty Python fame plays your butler, which is a definite plus.

The story is much improved as well. Rather than starting out as a young weakling, and becoming incredibly powerful by the end of it, becoming powerful is only half the quest.

This time around, you spend the first half of the game finding out you're a hero, and learning your powers so you can overthrow your brother and become king of Albion. But once you become king, you then have to choose how to rule, and attempt to keep the promises you made on your quest for the throne while at the same time preparing for a bigger threat. Reality is, Lionhead Studios actually does a decent job of making this a difficult task, if one wants to do the good guy thing, actually giving a decent idea of what ruling an entire country might be like.

Firstly, I'm going to throw something out there, that I want you to meditate on until we get to that point. You ready?

Your character, by default, is Bisexual.

Now holding that thought in the back of your mind, lets start with the root gameplay. Combat, isn't largely the same, but rather exactly the same. You still do Melee damage with one button, ranged with another, and then magic with another. And there's nothing wrong with this remaining the same. In fact, I'm rather glad that this remains the same. But within gameplay, we have the most of our problems. Firstly, are the glitches fixed? Not entirely. You'll find it does feel like a less glitchy experience, but at the same time, still glitchier than a game should be.

But here is where we find a lot of gameplay has been changed. So lets look and see what changes were for the better, and which ones werent.

One thing that definitely works for the better is the new pause menu. It feels a million times more seamless than previous pause menus. The sanctuary is far less tedious than simply surfing through different menus to accomplish basic tasks. This however, pulls you into everything, making it feel like a much more personal affair.

Another really good change is X Box live play. No longer are you forced to be some nameless henchmen, no. You can now actually take your hero into another hero's world, and earn gold that way. I tell you, this is much much improved over the last game. You can also join a random game, allowing you to find new friends that way. You can even marry and have children with other players. Of course, it's still not perfect. You can't pause individually, meaning if one player pauses, then it pauses for the other player. You also have to be in the same city as the other player, in fact, if you're the host player, the other player has to be near you if you want to wrap up a quest. I was paused for at least 5 minutes trying to finish my quest, while some random player decided to wander around Brightwood. It isn't the MMO experience that we wanted, but it is a step in the right direction.

Now for the bad. Remember that idea I told you to keep in the back of your mind? Well time to discuss it. I suppose it is a bit of an extreme statement, and I'm not saying being bisexual is a bad thing, but it's awfully frustrating when you no longer have control over what gender your character flirts with. This game completely butchered the social system. Now, to get someone to fall in love with you, or even like you, you have to cycle through the same few positive expressions to increase their standing from Neutral, to Friend, to Love. It's bad enough that the citizens of Albion are selfish enough to send you on some sort of quest before they'll allow you to be friends, but to even get to that point, you'll be chatting with, erotic dancing, hugging, and possibly even kissing anyone of any given gender. And while it is nice that there finally is physical contact between people and even ones spouses, it really takes you out of the experience when you can't even control how you interact with other people.

The other really negative statement, gameplay wise, I have to say about this game is weaponry. The only two Melee weapons are swords and hammers, and the only two ranged weapons are pistols and rifles. Now I understand that in the original Fable, the only two ranged weapons were Bows and Crossbows. But in Fable 2, you had Crossbows, Pistols, and Rifles, not to mention several sub catagories within these, such as Blunderbusses, Flintlock Pistols, and special types of crossbows. Fable 2 also featured a wide myriad of Melee weapons. So why take those choices away? I mean, I understand the developer wanted to make a game were everyone wasn't chasing after one weapon, so he created this weapon evolution system, which changes your weapons based on the way you play the game. And don't get me wrong, this is a cool idea, but did that really only apply to hammers, swords, pistols, and rifles? And if you really wanted this game to be unique, why not just include a standard weapon customization system that many other games have? I mean, Neverwinter Nights, rather than overcomplicating things, gives you several different premade options for your armor. Some games would even expand on this, and make the color customizable, much like your dye system. So why complicate this? I was really excited to have my own customizable weapons, until you created this overdone system. Not to mention... YOU ONLY HAVE HAMMERS AND SWORDS!

Fable 3 is a victim. Fable 3 is the victim of having a creator that wanted to create a revolutionary RPG that was unlike any other. However, he took the idea of making it "unlike any other" to an extreme, and changing almost everything about the game. Some of these changes work, some of them are so bad, that they're almost game breakers for me. For the most part, this game actually feels like an experiment. IGN was right when they said that this game feels like what Fable 2 should have been, and Fable 3 should have been the improvement. That being said, this is by no means a bad game, and not all of the changes are bad. Hopefully, if/when Fable 4 is made, the negatives will be thrown out, and the positives will be kept, allowing it to become the perfect Fable game. My score: 7 out of 10.