Mass Effect 2 - Xbox 360 Review

In one of my last posts I was singing the praises of Mass Effect.  Even though that game is a few years old now, I feel as though it holds up quite well by today's standards still.  Well, about two years ago now, Mass Effect 2 came out, and while I had trouble getting into the first game, I had no such difficulty with the second title in this series.

Mass Effect 2 still fully embraces its RPG roots, and Bioware does an excellent job of still giving your character a sense of empowerment as your decisions help to shape the way the story unfolds.  If you have saves from the first Mass Effect game, you can import them into the sequel and your decisions from that game impact what happens here, which is a feature I cannot say enough good things about.  While the first title only has a couple of pieces of so-so DLC, Mass Effect 2 has quite a bit more and while it varies in quality from 'okay' to 'excellent', I find that it all helps add to the overall storyline, which I have become quite invested in by now.

There are some key differences between the first Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.  Most of them come down to pacing.  While Bioware tried to update Dragon Age so its sequel was more action oriented, the results were considered streamlined and largely unsuccessful.  Here Mass Effect 2 benefits from a tighter focus on combat and menu navigation, and I think the sequel benefits mightily from it.


Gaming Thoughts... Do we need the next generation of consoles yet?

This is something I have been thinking about for awhile now - but I find myself wondering:

Do we need the next generation of video game consoles yet?  For me, the question is an odd one.  I have been playing video games since I got a TI 99/4a and I was around five years old.  I haven't gotten every single console along the way.  Quite often I did not get something like the SNES until years later in fact.  The only system I have stayed current on consistently was the PlayStation.  I had the first PlayStation on release day, and got the PlayStation 2 and 3 within a year or so of their releases.

This last generation of consoles however, I have been very fortunate.  I got a grown-up job, making grown-up money that allows me to make grown-up decisions on how to spend it (generally on decided un-grown-up things like game systems).  The Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and PSP and Nintendo DS and 3DS all came into my house as a result (not to mention the PC I have).  I got spoiled.

But that means I am also really, very heavily invested in this generation of consoles.  As I look around online, a lot of others feel the same way it seems.  Are the technological leaps and bounds significant enough to warrant the expense of new hardware?  It only seems within the last year or two that the systems became more reliable.  There were horror stories about the PlayStation 3 and 360 upon release, with their various lights and rings of 'death'.  Even the Wii was not safe from this, though it was less prominently talked about.

There are some obvious advantages:

- New technology means bigger, faster, more visually and audibly pleasing games
- Lessons learned from this generation can be applied (shipping with larger HDs, true online play)

But do they outweigh the possible concerns?

- What will these systems cost?
- Will there be additional costs, like Xbox Live?
- Will the new hardware be reliable, or suffer the kinds of breakdowns that plagued this generation
- Will all of the technology be welcome? (for example, rumors of limiting used game sales)
- Will there be a push to even more digital content (and if so, will ISPs be able to support it, or is there an additional embedded cost here)
- Will the price of games continue to climb with this generation?

There are some obvious concerns for the system manufacturers and the developers as well.  New systems usually mean less experience with the development tools.  It can be harder to create new games rapidly, and you usually have a lower market penetration earlier in the life cycle of a system than the middle or end, so you have fewer potential customers to buy your games.  With all this new technology, will development costs go up?

I suspect those questions are what spearhead the notion that the Microsoft Durango or Sony Orbis as they are being called, may be using technology to prevent used game sales.  They want a return on their potentially large investments, but I am worried too.  During these early days, I think studios are going to be susceptible to large losses.  Will they be less likely to try out new IP's than to go ahead and roll out things like the next CoD or Assassin's Creed?  Those titles are what you hear about most for the Wii-U at this point - established franchises.

It's all speculation at this point, but my son and I were chatting the other day, and he is turning into quite the little video gamer himself.  Reminds me a bit of me *sniffles at the nostalgia*.  Anyway *clearing throat* - moving on... he commented on how expensive games and systems were.  Even now for his DS and 3DS he can't buy a title new.  He buys them used.  The amount of discretionary income he gets a year is almost nothing outside of birthday, Christmas or the occassional odd job to make a few bucks here and there.  He's been reading all the rumors about next generation and pointed out that he is glad he has a 3DS, because he can still buy used games.  Otherwise he might be priced out of getting games at all if he always had to buy new, or it would be one or two a year.  He commented that he's lucky because his dad buys games and he can play those, but that a lot of his friends can't get games but maybe a few times a year.

I feel I'm getting a bit wordy here, so hang on tight with me (if you're not already glazed over and drooling on your keyboard.  I'm pretty sure I have the knack for inducing that in others).

I found that interesting - that a 13 year old kid is making me realize that the game industry in many ways is pricing itself out of the 'kid' market by and large.  It is almost as if video games, if the prices continue to go up (systems, games) and external costs go up (online subscriptions, online passes) - we are making video games a more adult form of entertainment.  It's almost like the video games are following our generation around, since most of the prior generation never got into them, and now the younger is struggling more and more to keep up.  Are used games the answer?  Probably not.  But they serve a purpose too.  Quick, when was the last time you bought a brand-new NES game?  I still pick up classic games for my old systems.  Do the developers get anything from it?  No.  Is it good to see gaming history played and preserved?  I believe so, without a doubt.

Right - you eventually need that 2nd hand market or the system dies off.  Maybe they want that - obviously publishers are making money off of re-releases of classic titles and compilations.  Eventually it will be a hobby that is probably entirely digital.  But it feels like we are still a long ways off from that, at least to me.  I know my ISP can't keep up with me watching Netflix, and friends of mine struggle to download movies or who download a bunch of Steam games get themselves in trouble.

I think the next generation of consoles is threatening to arrive 2-3 years too soon.  Some of the rumored innovations could be awesome, others could severely hamper the market though as well - potentially doing more long-term harm than good.  It's early, we have lots of time for all of this to sort itself out.  But in this day and age of internet and opinions scattered across it, I suspect publishers, developers and 'the big three' read comments and concerns.  They can't think of everything, so hopefully articles like this, even if I'm in a one-person minority, maybe gets read by the right person in the right place and it gives them a slightly different perspective.

The video game industry is at a crossroads where we have become more mainstream and popular than ever.  A few wrong choices however could set us back considerably, just like the right ones can propel us forward and break the few remaining barriers to more complete acceptance.  I'm excited about the next wave of consoles and their possibilities, but I'm also afraid that a few missteps will undo a generation of growth as well.  What are your thoughts?  What are you most excited about or nervous about?  What one or two things are you most hoping to see come out of this next generation of consoles coming out in the future, and do you agree that it is a bit too soon, or that these console releases cannot get here soon enough?

MonkeyPaw Games making use of the Kickstarter trend

I am a huge RPG fan.  I play a bit of everything from sports to platformer to action-adventure to strategy... but I spend more time with RPG games than anything out there.  Whether that is a Western RPG like Skyrim or Mass Effect, or a J-RPG like the Final Fantasy games, I find myself enjoying those titles more than anything.


Mass Effect 3 - bonus experience this weekend!

One of my favorite parts about Mass Effect 3 has been the multiplayer.  I am really digging it, and have already gotten around level 15 with all of the available classes.  Yes.  I plan to hit the level 20 cap with all of them.  And now this weekend, Bioware has helped me get that much closer to my goal.


Gaming Thoughts - PlayStation 4 "Orbis" - no used games?

A non-Mass Effect article!  Well, there were bound to be a couple as I keep trying to update things here fairly quickly when an article or information catches my eye, and according to Kotaku and IGN - the new PlayStation 4 is being called "Orbis", will not be backwards compatible and will not play used games.  The rumor at this point is the disc will be tied to a PSN account.  Which makes me wonder how that will be handled for others on the same machine.

Considering the backlash that came out in regard to the no used games for Xbox 720, I am frankly pretty shocked by this.  This makes me believe that game publishers are really putting some pressure on the console makers at this point, because this would be the perfect opportunity for Sony to appeal to a larger segment of gamers by doing the opposite of Microsoft on this front.  I suspect both of these may be reality at this point.  Microsoft took a ton of bad press over this, so if they were not going to follow-through on it, it stands to reason they would have come out and said so by now.

When the PlayStation 3 had rumors about this kind of technology, Sony came out fairly quickly to quash them.  IGN contacted Sony, but the official response was "we don't comment on rumors or speculation."  Thing is, they did for the PS3 when it was potentially damaging to their brand's reputation.  As you can imagine, the majority of gamers are not responding well to this in forums and blogs I've seen talking about this so far.

It's an oft-discussed topic, and one I fall into the middle on to some degree.  In the end, I don't think that companies should limit used content.  I can see both sides of the debate, ranging from publishers needing to make back their money to gamers who feel like their rights are being infringed on to some degree.  There are some other major players like Gamestop and Amazon that likely wouldn't be pleased by this either.

As an aside, I am really, really disappointed if there is no backwards compatibility to boot, but I'm sure that is going to be less of an issue for most people than this other rumor.

Any thoughts on these rumors?  With Nintendo as the only one not being rumored to have this kind of protection in place - are they in a better spot to win customer favor as the Wii-U comes closer to reality?  Should Microsoft or Sony step up and say one way or the other, or not in your opinions?  Or is it all just too soon to tell and nothing more than pointless speculation?

Mass Effect 3, NBA Jam, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Kid Icarus and game deals

I have had a pretty focused run on games over the last week or so.  Once I beat Sakura Wars and Kingdoms of Amalur, I decided to beat up on Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Mass Effect 3.  I'm only about twelve or so hours into Final Fantasy at this point, but I am enjoying the game quite a bit so far - but then I enjoyed the initial XIII as well.

I am really enjoying NBA Jam: On Fire Edition for the PlayStation 3 as well.  I squeeze in a quick match or two every morning before work, and have been for about two months now, so hopefully I'll get a review of that up in the near future.

Finally got my copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS yesterday (I had it on pre-order, but standard shipping.  I wanted to play it pretty quickly, but I knew I'd have a day or two of playing some other title by the name of Mass Effect 3).  I can only say that my initial impression is pretty positive.  I loved the pre-order bonus of the original Kid Icarus game from the NES, but 3D-ized (yup, that's a word now.  True story).  I haven't touched the original in soooo long (despite having the old cartridge still bouncing around here next to our NES).  My son has been giving Icarus a thorough playing so far too, already on level 5 and having done a lot of multiplayer, which he says is pretty awesome.

And then there's Mass Effect 3.  I know this release has been polarizing people, and no - I haven't seen the ending yet.  Based on what I have heard, I suspect I will be slightly disappointed because my actions do not greatly effect the ending from what I have seen and heard.  However, there is talk now that Bioware is going to change or add to the ending.  What that means?  No one really knows at this point.  Maybe new endings, maybe more content with future DLC?  I am not really sure what to think at this point.  I know that the game itself has played out as my favorite so far, and that while there are quirks (some texture pop in is pretty rough graphically, and just odd audio/video things like James 'talking and playing cards' but not being visible, or Liara conversing with Jacob and not being visible) - the game itself plays very solidly.  Right now, I'm using the default character and not an import, but it's easy to see how my actions from ME 2 could radically change my experience in ME 3.  I'm already plotting my next play through.  If I am looking forward to another round of the game, it would be safe to say I am enjoying it.

And multiplayer is pretty solid.  Not perfect.  You can get stuck in spaces where Brutes beat you and you just can't move, and when you mean to roll you stick to a wall in coverage, but the gameplay is a lot of fun in my opinion.  The dual currency of coins and experience really helps keep me invested in growing.  But as of writing this, my lowest level character is 14, and my highest is 17 and there's a level 20 cap.  Between that and the relatively limited number of maps, I wonder if Bioware is eying DLC for the multiplayer as well as the single player or not?

I just can't see the ending, even if it underwhelms me, causing me to get up into arms the way so many other players are yet.  The rest of the journey has been entirely too much fun so far.  That said?  It sounds like Bioware is taking the commentary to heart based on their impending patch to fix the face import bug as well as planning to 'address' the ending in some fashion.

Now, onto the deals...

Atlus has several great RPGs for the PSP downloadable at pretty hefty discounts via PSN here.  The most notable are the Persona titles, but there are several others worth taking note of as well.

Steam has a King Arthur sale - the original titles are 75% off, and King Arthur II is 40% off as their midweek deal.  Their daily deal for the next five hours or so is the Luxor Collection for 66% off - or $13.59.

Fox Xbox Live Gold members, racing is the name of the game.  Various packs for Forza Motorsport 4, Joe Danger Special Edition, Daytona USA and Sega Rally Online Arcade.

Good Old Games has some DRM free indie titles such as Trine, The Whispered Word and a pre-order for legend of Grimlock, plus having recently added Anachronix as well to their lineup. 

GamersGate has Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days and Thief: The Dark Project for 75% off, and Lunar Flight for 50% off.

Amazon has James Bond 007: GoldenEye for the Wii for $14.99.

Sony's offering is pretty weak for PlayStation plus, with nothing really free, though there is a lot of discounting, including the new Closure puzzler that IGN scored an 8.5 this morning. also, there is a very heavy Tom Clancy theme as you'll see.

PlayStation Plus:
  • Closure (PSN, Discount)
  • Dead Block (Mini, Discount)
  • MotorStorm RC (DLC, Discount)
  • Skydrift (PSN, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's End War (PSP, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (PSP, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Predator (PSP, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (PSP, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory HD (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Classic Trilogy HD (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Retail, Discount)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell HD (PSN, Discount)
  • Zack Zero (PSN, Discount)

General Discounts:

  • Armored Core 3 (PSN)
  • Armored Core: Last Raven (PSN)
  • Armored Core: Silent Line (PSN)
  • Puzzle Dimension (PSN)
  • Zack Zero (PSN)


Mass Effect Galaxy - iPad Review

I've been a huge fan of the Mass Effect series for some time now.  I do admit that the first title took some time to convince me of its worth, but once I gave it a proper chance I dove right in and enjoyed it thoroughly.  When I saw Mass Effect Galaxy come out for the iPhone/iPad, I was pretty excited.  I had seen some games handle shooter mechanics well on the platform, and since the series was an RPG at its heart, there was room to be creative and make sure that it fit the iOS platform.

However, I was surprised to find a game that was a radical departure from what the series had been to date.  Here are my thoughts on it.


Mass Effect - Xbox 360 Review

I remember hearing a bit about Mass Effect prior to its release, but it was not a title I was terribly excited about.  My only real experience with Bioware at that time had come in the form of Neverwinter Nights, which I had thoroughly enjoyed - but it was quite clear that this science fiction title was going to be a completely different animal.

Finally for Easter after it released, I picked Mass Effect up used because of the overwhelmingly glowing reviews it had released to.  I gave it a shot, did not much care for the shooting mechanics and put the game away in favor of other titles I was working on at the time like Oblivion.

Some months later, I had beaten every game in my current library except one.  I decided to dust off Mass Effect and give it an earnest chance this time.  I made my way through the first few hours, fighting off the confusion over the strange blending of shooter and RPG as I became more comfortable with the mechanics and the game's universe.  Fast-forward about 50 hours and I had just beaten the game, and found myself wondering how things might have ended differently if I had made some different choices at key moments.  I then proceeded to find out as I immediately played through it again.  I would go on to beat the first Mass Effect two more times over the following few years as it became one of my favorite video game titles of all time.


Midweek deals and thoughts

So I'll start with a quick few gaming thoughts off of the top of my head:

- I've been playing a lot of Mass Effect 3 and so far am digging it.  For my initial play through I am not doing an import of one of my prior Mass Effect 2 campaigns as I want to approach it using default settings, something like a new player would experience.

- I'm doing a lot more of the multiplayer than I had originally thought I would.  The mulitplayer ties into the campaign mode by raising your Galactic Readiness - which impacts the final ending it seems.  I got mine to 100% in all areas in about a day and change of heavy multiplayer.

- Multiplayer Pros: The variety sprinkled into the missions is nice, and the ability to create and use a bunch of different classes makes leveling up lots of fun.  The credits system works for me too, because as a one-time sports card collector, the idea of 'opening' a pack of 5 random items is sort of fun, especially if you get a rare or uncommon (I tend to save up for the top-shelf Specter package).

- Multiplayer Cons: The matchmaking needs work. When the host leaves, it gives you a message that you are mgrating, but in truth you're just getting punted back out to the loby.  Also, there needs to be a way to force people to 'ready' status after a time.  You can have four people to a team, 3 of them ready, and you can sit there twiddling your thumbs on that fourth unready person indefinitely.  When you find a good group of 4, you can plow through the waves pretty wel, but for every 1 really good group, I go through about 5-15 failed matchmaking attempts just to get a round of play going

- I'm probably about 1/3 of the way through the single player campaign and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.  I got the collector's edition, so I will be touching on that as well as my regular review soon.  I'll be kicking off a series of Mass Effect reviews starting Friday I believe.

- Speaking of big, backlogged games, my Skyrim review will be going live soon too.  I don't really plan to go through my impressions quite so much as Mass Effect 3, which is a much newer title, but suffice to say I have enjoyed Skyrim quite a bit as well.

- RPG Maker VX Ace has been awesome so far.  I've been digging into it several different ways.  I made a very short game as just sort of a test demo for my son to play, and I have approached it from the building standpoint, to the ease of adding your own materials and also applying and tweaking scripts.  I will do two different write-ups on the software.  One for Otaku Gaming that is a straight review of the experience, and one here on this blog discussion it and the changes I see from being a heavy RPG Maker XP user and skipping VX to go to VX Ace.  The tiny game I wrote up for my son (seriously, it's like a 10 or 15 minute play through) is something I may post somewhere for others to view as well if interested.

- A little title called Diablo III is announced to be releasing exactly a week before my birthday.  I know what I'll be asking for. :)

So the above are just some bullet point updates for those interested.  I definitely have more on tap to post about here over the coming weeks, but my hope is you will really enjoy the Mass effect series, which will probably span about two weeks of posts on here.  Now, for the weekly deals on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network and more.

Gamersgate has Warhammer 40,000 for 66% off, The Guild Complete for 75% off and Neverwinter Nights 2 for the Mac for a whopping 95% off.

Amazon has a couple of smaller deals like a discount on the latest Mario and Sonic Olympics and an offer to get FF XIII with the purchase of XIII-2.

Steam's midweek madness deal is Portal 2 for half-off and their daily deal up until around 1PM EST today is Spellforce 2 Gold Edition for $3.74.

The Deal of the Week is all Bioshock 2 related - with DLC packs and Avator items being 50% off on Xbox Live for Gold members.

With the PlayStation Plus it is pretty evident that most of the free stuff happens at the beginning of the month, but some of the deals throughout the month are definitely of note too.  This week?  Huge emphasis on the Final Fantasy titles.  Here's the full list below of PSN updates:

PSN Games

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD ($9.99)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine ($39.99)
Warriors Orochi 3 ($49.99)

Vita Games

Sumioni: Demon Arts ($19.99)

PlayStation Minis

SAR: Search and Rescue ($2.99)

PlayStation Plus

Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
Final Fantasy V (PSone)
Final Fantasy VI (PSone)
Final Fantasy VII (PSone)
Final Fantasy VIII (PSone)
Final Fantasy Origins (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon -- Various DLC (Free-$4.99)
Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend -- System Voice Arrange DLC ($5.99)
Disney Universe -- Various DLC ($0.99-$2.99)
EyePet & Friends -- Various DLC ($0.69-$2.99)
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2 -- Various DLC (Free-$2.99)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -- The Legend of Dead Kel ($9.99)
MotorStorm RC -- Various DLC ($0.25-$0.99)
Ninja Gaiden 3 -- Online Pass ($9.99)
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- USS Wolfpack Uniforms ($2.99)
Rock Band 3 -- Various Tracks ($1.99 each)
Rock Band Network -- Various Tracks ($0.99-$1.99)
Rocksmith -- Various Tracks ($2.99 each)
Saints Row The Third -- The Trouble With Clones ($6.99)
Tales of Graces F -- Various DLC (Free-$3.99)
UFC Undisputed 3 -- Upsets Pack ($4.99)

Vita DLC

Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend -- System Voice Arrange DLC ($5.99)
MotorStorm RC -- Various DLC ($0.25-$0.99)
Ridge Racer -- Various DLC (Free-$1.49)


Birds of Steel
Rayman 3 HD
Under Siege


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (DLC)
Coconut Dodge (Mini)
Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
Final Fantasy V (PSone)
Final Fantasy VI (PSone)
Final Fantasy VII (PSone)
Final Fantasy VIII (PSone)
Final Fantasy Origins (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSone)
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)

Zuma's Reveng! launch info and Articles on Otaku Gaming

It has been a pretty busy week or two for me.  Some of the games I've been working on have a lot of meaty content to work through and it is definitely going to affect the number of reviews I have trickling out over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I have had a few other interesting observations and articles I have written. 

I'll start with the Ys series, which I have never actually played despite its long history.  It's one of those I keep meaning to try, and haven't gotten to yet, but for fans of the series, there is an announcement that there will be two titles taken to Steam - one already released and another on the way.


Sid Meier's Civilization V - PC Game Review

Civilization has a pretty long history in my house - and not with the usual gamers!  Where as my son and youngest daughter are the two biggest gamers in my household aside from myself, my wife and oldest daughter hardly play games.  That said, I got Civ II from a friend back in college and loved it.  My wife gave it a try on a whim and she also got hooked on it.  We played that game like crazy, but then skipped the next couple of iterations, not playing III or IV.  I did pick up Civilization: Revolution for my Xbox 360 a couple of years ago or so.  My son tried it, but did not really seem to care for it.  My oldest tried it, and took right to it, much as her mother had years before with Civ 2.

Well, a few months ago I picked up Civilization V for my PC through Steam.  For the uninitiated, this is a simulation title where you take control of a culture set way back at what is essentially the beginning of time.  All kinds of different cultures are represented, from the Romans to Americas to the Greeks - so clearly historical accuracy is not a concern.  What is important is the depth of strategy as you try to balance your resources, your armies, the land you occupy and how you interact with other nations.


Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Xbox 360 Review

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a title has been in my sights ever since I stumbled onto it via trailer at IGN that I shared here.  It was a flashy trailer that caught my eye with its visual style and everything I saw about the fast-paced combat intrigued me.  I continued to follow it, posting about it here and there, until I finally got a chance to try the demo and share my impressions.

Well, this game turned into a pre-order for me at that point and I have had a lot of time to sit down and get to know this new fantasy RPG title over the last 100+ hours.  Before I get into the specific technical breakdown I usually do, I figure a game I have sunk this much time into deserves a bit more of an overview first.  One word really comes to mind for me when I think about KoA and describe it to others:



Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution

I will admit I have never particularly followed the Naruto series.  I don't watch a ton of TV, and when it comes to Anime I'm pretty limited outside of old Dragon Ball Z episodes.  My kids however, enjoy the Naruto series.  They have lots of the manga books that all three have at least browsed through, and in most cases read from cover to cover.

On top of that, this title is pretty old.  It came out in 2007 and it has been bouncing around our house for some time.  My son had played this game the most, but I was looking for something the play the other day and sat down with this game to kill a few hours and found myself playing it again for several more days.

It is a fighting game, usually one-on-one but there are quite a few different modes and variations you will have available to you as well.


RPG Maker VX Ace, Ninja Gaiden 3, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and more on Otaku Gaming

I've been putting some articles up on Otaku Gaming that may be of interest here.

Lots of information about Dragon's Dogma to be found in this article.


Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love - Wii Review

Very much like there are a lot of words jammed into the title, there are a lot of ideas crammed into this game.  Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love was released on the PlayStation 2 and Wii a few years ago now, and really the title is older than that as it was released in Japan five years prior.  This is the kind of game that probably will not appeal to a large market, but more to a niche group.  This game plays out very much like a dating sim, role-playing game and turn-based strategy title all in one.  There are some ambitious ideas at work here, and not all of them work out as well as hoped.


X-Men: The Arcade Game - Retro Reflections

Like Streets of Rage 2, this is another title on the PlayStation Network that is both something that can be purchased and a throwback to a classic title.  I'm going to treat it like a Retro Reflection though as I talk about it.  Now, Streets of Rage 2 held up pretty well for me through the glasses of nostalgia, but it was a free title where as X-Men was one I bought on the PSN.


Gaming News and Deals for 3/7/12

Peter Molyneux is a pretty controversial figure who has overseen some pretty impressive titles in the past like Black and White and the commercially successful Fable series.  Well, he has apparently left Microsoft's Lionhead Studios for a new company called 22 Cans.  Molyneux has always been a bit of a lightning rod for criticism, often promising a lot more than he can deliver - but the games that were delivered still generally got good reviews and were commercially successful.

Moving on to various deals that caught my eye this week:


Initial Mass Effect 3 review scores (not mine), bugs and other info

I have a series of Mass Effect reviews coming - but I'll preface this by saying this has become one of my favorite gaming series ever.  I unfortunately have to wait a few days to get my copy of Mass Effect 3.  By the time I set aside enough to order the collector's edition for my 360 (one of the only Collector's Editions of anything I've ever bought), they were sold out at Gamestop and Amazon, so I was forced to get it direct from EA.  Downside is it can take 2-5 days to arrive, and I was just notified last night that it shipped, so I have a couple more days to try and wrap up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning before then.

There are some disquieting concerns though about some bugs.  As  reported on Kotaku, there is an issue where some people have trouble loading in prior characters.  This set of issues apparently comes in two flavors.  One is that Mass Effect 3 cannot determine the custom face from your prior character and returns an error, and it looks like there is a pretty active thread about the issue on BioWare's forum.

Another glitch or concern is apparently you cannot import your characters from the hard drive - it can't be pulled down from Microsoft's new cloud saves feature and used directly.  The bigger catch is this apparently has to be done on your 360 the save file was originally created on?  I'm a bit baffled by this, but here's the help article on EA's site.

I'll be curious to see if I have any issues as I have ME 1 and 2 saves, and some that are linked together and some that are separate, some using the default character setup and others with customized characters and faces.

And for the entire Kotaku article, that can be read here.

In the meantime, this is easily my most anticipated title this year and I am very excited about it.

IGN has a fairly lengthy, detailed review up here, where they scored the game a 9.5.

Gamespot scored it a 9.0 here.

And Metcritic is averaging a 94 right now here.

My own review and thoughts will likely come down the line a bit later as I generally try to beat a game/quit playing the game before I put a review up here, and I tend to do almost all of the side stuff in RPG's (I'm at 85 hrs on Amalur right now but only about 1/3 of the way through the primary story line)

Tetris - PlayStation Network Review

I think it is safe to say that Tetris is not new - by any stretch of the imagination.  I was first introduced to Tetris back on the NES when I got both the official Nintendo version and the soon-off-of-the-shelves Tengen version that offered two player.  The nature of this puzzle game appealed to me immediately, but what was even more fun for me was that this was one of the few video games my dad would play with me.

I give him credit - my dad tried his hand at Super Mario Bros, Legendary Wings and Iron Tank.  However, while he had played quite a few of the games on our old TI99/4a, the NES itself was never a comfortable system for him - until Tetris.  Fast-forward a couple of decades, and this is still one of the few titles my wife will play.  I have owned it in a lot of versions over the years, from the two NES titles, to the Game Boy one, to Tetris: Splash and more, but I do believe that the PlayStation Network version of this game is my favorite so far.

So, because today's my dad's birthday, I'm going to post this review of what was probably his favorite game when I was growing up.


Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway - PS3 Review

War is a frequent breeding ground for video games - often too frequently as our friend Jeff opined on his blog Volatile Mode.  It can serve as a grand backdrop for a variety of stories, and that is what this title is - a story about the horrors of war and how it affects those participating it.  This was a game that I did not even know existed, but that my son picked me up for Christmas one year, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by what turns out to be more of a tactical shooter that has more in common with Gears of War than Call of Duty.


New Layout for Chalgyr's Game Room

So, I got bored at lunch, and this is what happens.  Hope you like the new layout - I think the slideshow at the top looks cool (I freely admit I got the idea from Digitally Downloaded and Otaku Gaming's layout) and added a tabbed interface on the right sidebar to make it easier to find things instead of a single very long bar that never ends.  Still going with light on dark - not everyone's favorite but just a style I've been using for things like my MUD and personal websites for about 15 years now.  I tried going dark text on lighter background - just didn't feel like 'me'. :)

Let me know if you have any suggestions, any items that just really annoy you, some things you like.  I'm toying with the idea of changing my header quite a bit.  I'm definitely curious what people think.  Thanks for stopping by!

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