Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The NEW 'King of Kong'

Billy Mitchell be damned! The pretentious patriot has been bested in the age-old game of jumping barrels and dropping monkeys — but not by Steve Wiebe.

That's right, contrary to how all those old arcade cabinet games worked there is now a Player 3 plunking coins into the machine and saving princesses.

Visit Kotaku at THIS LINK and read about the new "King of Kong," Hank Chien.

On a side note, I've always been amazed Wiebe wasn't called out for neglecting his kids after that movie came out. I doubt if Chien had to deal with toddlers yelling to wipe their butts. Just sayin'...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Will you P.B. my valentine?

2K Games just showed me a little Valentine's Day love ... oh, and promoted the release of "The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom," downloadable on Feb. 17.

Milking Green Lantern

Get those udders ready — DC is about to milk us for all we're worth.

Over the past few weeks, DC has rolled out plenty of news on new series to look out for in the coming months. Already, most of the news has assured me my wallet will be hurting very soon, but that's been mostly because everything that's spinning out of "Blackest Night" has been pretty exciting and natural stuff. None of it has felt like an over-the-top cash grab ... until now...

Check THIS LINK to DC's Source blog and read about a new Green Lantern title kicking off in a matter of months, "Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors."

Yes, that's right. Five years ago, DC was skeptical about a single GL title being able to sell, and now they're trying to make us support three. Yes, we are being milked, and punished for our love of all Geoff Johns has given us.

The lineup will be as follows: "GL: EW" with Guy Gardiner and Kilowog. "GLC" with Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Ganthet. "GL" will (presumably) still feature Hal Jordan.

Is it just me, or does this seem like it's going to end up killing both "Corps" and the newborn "Emerald Warriors?"

With apologies to Peter Tomasi, who has done a masterful job on the book, "Corps" was selling so well, predominantly, because it was the No. 2 book on the road to "Blackest Night." Now, DC is not only taking away two of "Corps" more popular characters, they're being taken away right as the "Blackest Night" momentum is ending.

On the other side of the spectrum, other than die-hard fans like me, is anyone going to buy a book starring just Guy and 'Wog? Especially when "Blackest Night" had just ended?

I think DC is over estimating how much people love the Green Lantern family of titles vs. how much people loved "Blackest Night." And it's going to cost us. First, it will cost those of us who are willing to try all three books. When that ends, it will cost us one, if not two, of the three GL family books.

Cash Cow won't last long with this sort of milking, DC.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Will 'Fable III' make you 'super pissed off'?

It's quickly becoming clear that history will remember "Fable III" for ... something. It's going to be ambitious, that much is obvious. But, will it be an ambitious success or failure?

It's going to use Natal. And it's being made by Peter Molyneux, the developer who seems to be embracing Natal more than anyone else. And it's quickly looking evident that those Natal controls are going to make "Fable III" less of a sequel and more of an entirely new series.

Which is why I'm not the least bit surprised to read this quote on IGN.com: "We're making some announcements about Fable III and […] it's going to really upset people. I'm really scared when I go out and tell people what it is they're going to get super pissed off."

Let the speculation commence. IGN itself has started already at THIS LINK, which provides some hard evidence backing up all of those pissed-off guesses.

Then again, 'ole Pete loves running his mouth before a game comes out, and most of what he says turns out to be rubbish. So I guess we'll all see next week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest (Part 3)

Don't worry, I have not forgotten about my quest to save Hyrule, even if real life has taken away plenty of time of late.

I've had plenty of time to get used to my adult body now, however, my biggest challenge remains the awkward GameCube controller. In fairness, some of the awkwardness is coming from the age of the controller itself. It tends to stick in a forward position, making aiming difficult and maneuvering slim edges VERY difficult.

But, I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. To give you a sense of context, I've blown through the Forest, Fire and Water Temples, as well as mini-dungeons Bottom of the Well and Gerudos Fortress.

Surprisingly, I wouldn't call any of the three temples any tougher than their first-quest counterparts. Rather, they were all simply variations on a theme — with the exception of the Water Temple.

The Forest and Fire Temples are extremely similar to their previous incarnations, and if I didn't already think the first Forest Temple was a breeze, I would say this second one is easier than the first. The first version of the temple had a little more back-tracking, while this one had a couple more monsters, Six for one, half-dozen for the other. The only real surprise here was that I'd completely forgotten how to fight Phantom Gannon at the end of the temple, so it took me a while to get him to get out of those paintings of his.

One challenge at the start of the whole thing. Attaining that first key by lighting fires and shooting an arrow across the room to light torch number three proved devilishly hard. Still, that may have only been because, with the state of my GameCube controller, it took me a while to even figure out that shooting an arrow to light torch No. 3 was a possibility, let alone then taking the time to execute the move. But the rest of the Temple was pretty simple, and was the most similar to its' original counterpart since the Deku Tree dungeon.

The Water Temple, on the other hand, was very different from the original. Frankly, when playing through the original game on second and third play-throughs, the Water Temple was groan-inducing. I would cringe at the thought of how much tougher this "Master" Water Temple would be. As it turns out, the Temple was VERY straightforward this time around. Water-level changes were kept to a minimum, with very little back-tracking. In fact, the only problem was simply over-thinking. There are two small wings of the Temple which cannot be accessed until you already have the Boss Key, and they have very little redeeming value, only containing Gold Skultas. But the decoy existence of these rooms will make you think the Temple is more puzzling than it is.

Thus far, I would still call the "Master Quest" a must-play for any Zelda addict. But the game really has not been a challenge, just a variation on a theme. And so much has felt easier this time around outside of the dungeons, just because I've played the game so much. I currently wield Biggoron's Sword (possibly my favorite weapon of any Zelda game ever), and again wondered why I felt it was so tough to acquire 10 years ago.

But we will see. I'm about to head into the desert armed with the Eye of Truth, so hopefully Nintendo has a couple of super-tough dungeons awaiting me before I go after Gannon.

New 'Sonic' game revealed

It's an all-new Sonic. And no, I'm not talking about the restaurant on Route 9 across the street from Arby's.

Oh, how I love Arby's... where I was I?

Oh yeah, Sonic. Or should I say, Project Needlemouse. Or, should I now say, "Sonic 4!"

All the rumors were true, there is an all-new 2D old-school looking downloadable Sonic the Hedgehog game in the works, with a release window of this Summer.

Oh, how I love Jesus for this news. And oh, how I love starting sentences with "oh."

Follow THIS LINK to the official Web site for more news.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wii topples NES

This story pains my retro-gamer heart. Follow THIS LINK to IGN.com and read that the Wii has now sold more units than the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

I may just be Talkin' 'bout my Generation here, but sales shmales. The NES provided more cherished bright new world moments than all other gaming systems combined. It's just too bad all those soccer moms following the Wii trend managed to usurp the NES' economic crown.

Besides, the NES had something it seems we'll never get from the Wii — Kid Icarus. Yes, it's a small strand of pride to cling to, but I'm clinging, damnit!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New format: Weekly Comic Report

As you have probably noticed if you are an avid reader of this blog, the format for posts has changed since the New Year. As such, the old weekly "Buy Pile Report" is no more. Instead, I'll focus my attention on one or two topics which are of special interest each week in the "Weekly Comic Report." (I know, creative name).

There will always be spoilers, so be warned.

First and foremost, what a week this was to be a comic fan, eh? DC delivers several of the more important "Blackest Night" tie-ins plus a couple of big Superman-family books and Marvel gives us more "Necrosha" and the finale to "Captain America: Reborn."

Which leads us to our first topic: Was "Cap Rebirth" -- er... sorry -- "Cap Reborn" the most anticlimactic story in the history of comics? Probably not. After all, us comic geeks have a penchant for hyperbole.

But, oh, let me count the anticlimactic ways: 1) This story did not need to be an over-priced mini-series, it could have simply been the next story in "Captain America" proper, kicking off with issue #600 to make it special. 2) Wasn't "Lost in time" one of the first widely-spread Internet explanations for how Steve Rogers would come back to life? 3) The outcome was spoiled by COUNTLESS other Marvel books before even issue #5 of 6 was released, including the epilogue chapter "Who Will Wield the Shield?" 4) After 50 issues or so of brilliant plotting -- both by the Red Skull and writer Ed Brubaker -- Skull's master plan to inhabit Steve Rogers' body was undone because Skull didn't count on Rogers having the will to fight back?

And that last point is where I find the most disappointment, because we spent four issues hemming and hawing, one issue watching Skull take control of Rogers and then in the space of mere pages, all those issues of plotting and scheming are undone before the reader even gets a chance to be afraid of Skull. Thanks to all the plot spoilers in other books, we didn't even get a moment to wonder if Brubaker was planning on keeping Skull in control of Rogers for a couple of story arcs.

And that brings me back to my first point of anti-climax -- if this story were carefully plotted and slow-roasted like the rest of Brubaker's run, we might have gotten to read the incredible tale of Skull doing some real damage as Steve Rogers for a while. How fantastic a few story arcs like that would have been! And wouldn't Bucky's eventual victory feel all the more rewarding?

Instead, to get in line with all the rest of the happenings with "Siege" and such, "Cap: Reborn" felt like it could not rush us to the finish line fast enough. And really, that's my problem with most of what Marvel has done over the past five years or so, and why I have been reading so much less from the "House of Ideas."

Secondly -- and I won't take as long on this rant, I promise. There have been PLENTY of "Blackest Night" tie-ins (I know, I've been buying most of them). And, I'm sure many of you have gotten so sick of reading the same old stories of "Character A has to watch Character B come back to life and deal with those emotions!" to the point where you've turned off to any of the tie-ins at all.

Well, you should know this: 1) "Green Lantern" and "Green Lantern Corps." are almost always required reading. 2) This week's "Atom and Hawkman" tie-in is very worth your cash, so go buy it.

The Atom's story, which focuses on Ray Palmer much more than his feathered friend, serves as a vehicle to flesh out the powers of Indigo light and allow the reader to understand how it works. Granted, it doesn't give us that highly-desired Rosetta Stone for the Indigo Tribe's language, but the most mysterious of all the lantern powers is now pretty well defined.

'God of War III' dated for March 16

Dear readers,

If you own a PlayStation 3, you may want to schedule a sick day for March 16.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad: Gaming device?

So, it's finally official. Apple's iPad.

Ignoring most of its capabilities for a moment (this is a gaming blog, after all), my question hinges on Apple's assertion that this could be an online gaming juggernaut.

Obviously, given the growing success of the iPhone in the gaming world, Apple has some credibility to make these claims. My own brain won't let that credibility mesh with logic, though.

Here's my knee-jerk take: The iPhone works as a handheld gaming device because of it's size. It's just as convenient as a Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, and the size allows the gamer to make use of the motion-sensing capabilities.

The iPad is just too big to be convenient as a portable gaming device. It's not big enough to be convenient as a mainstream gaming device, since the touchscreen surface cannot support both a touch keyboard and a big enough screen.

I don't know what kind of games can really be used on a device like this, since most of the games that work best on the iPhone would not gain anything by being larger. This strikes me as an instance when being in between two successful genres doesn't equate to being the best of both worlds.

Am I alone on this? I guess we'll all just have to wait to get our hands on it to make a final judgement.

No 'NBA Jam' news, afterall

My interview scheduled to happen today was canceled and cannot happen until Monday. I know, I'm as bummed as you are.

What I did find out is that the game will definitely be released in the fall as a physical disc, it won't be WiiWare. I asked about price and about the possibility of the currently-Wii-exclusive game making it to Xbox or PlayStation, but could not get an answer to either.

When I know more, I will pass it along.

Boom-Shakalaka (in a sad voice).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

News on new 'NBA Jam' on the way...

Big news, sports fans!

...Well, it could be big news. I don't really know for sure yet. What I do know for sure is that I will be speaking with a representative for EA Sports on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming Wii remake "NBA Jam."

Boom Shakalaka indeed.

I shouldn't have to tell you, "NBA Jam" is a game near and dear to my heart. Just recently I was playing "NBA Jam Tournament Edition" on my old Sega Genesis — and yes, I was on fire. Hopefully I find out some good info on Wednesday, including the answer to my biggest question: When can we expect to hear about the game for Xbox Live or PlayStation Network?

For now, you can visit the game's official Web site at THIS LINK and vote for which players you want to see in the game.

Razzle Dazzle!

'Mass Effect 2' Review

We have a review of "Mass Effect 2" up on the PoJo Web site (at THIS LINK), written by the Associated Press.

As you may have expected, the sequel was given a glowing recommendation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest (Part 2)

Well, I've had a weekend to dig my teeth into "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest." What's the verdict, you ask?

Well, for any "Zelda" fan, this 2003 kinda-remake is a surprisingly rewarding experience. I recommend it, love it, and look forward to the day when our civil union will be recognized by the people of New York State. For anyone else, don't waste your time or money tracking this game down.

Here's the good: So far (I just turned adult and promptly won me a pretty Filly named Epona), the dungeons I've encountered are honest-to-goodness tougher and fresh, just as advertised. And, as advertised, the rest of the game is a spot-on recreation of the original "Ocarina of Time," no tougher, no easier.

The Deku Tree dungeon's layout is not changed too much, which initially left me worried I'd just spent $40 on a lemon of an experience. The main change here is an increased number of monsters, most of which take the form of the miniature Gohma pods.

But Dodongo's Cavern erased all of my fears, as the sequence of where you go in the level is completely altered, right from the beginning. In fact, if memory serves, the first place you have to go in the dungeon is to the walkways hanging overhead, a jarring and confusing change. The puzzles are not only tougher to figure out, but tougher to execute. Instead of simply needing to light every torch in a room to open a door (a classic "Zelda" cliche), this dungeon forces you to complete what I called a Torch Relay, in which you light a torch with your deku stick, but then have to put that stick away and light a new stick using the torch you just lit because the distance to reach the next torch you have to light is too great for one stick. On top of that, you'll have to fight monsters in-between torches.

Jabu-Jabu's belly is likewise turned on it's ear, but this time there is an even stranger twist: There are cows lodged in the walls which serve as switches. I could not make that up if I tried.

These new dungeon layouts also make it much harder to collect gold skultas. It seems the dungeons are filled with secret doors and ledges just out of reach of your current arsenal of weapons. And it also seems each time you encounter one of these rooms, there is that familiar skulta sound, letting you know you should remember to come back later in the game.

But, here's the bad: Despite the tougher dungeons, which are now tough enough to please any "Zelda" fan, the boss battles have not been made more difficult. The result is a slightly anti-climactic feeling for each dungeon, and a lack of any anticipation.

The main flaw, though? The GameCube controller. The familiar Z-Targeting is replaced by the "L" button, and while it may work very well for "Wind Waker" and "Twilight Princess," it just fails miserably here. Whereas "Ocarina of Time" boasted a fluid, natural camera and feel on the Nintendo 64, on the GameCube it almost feels like you are succeeding in spite of your limitations. Also, trying to play songs using the clunky GameCube C-button stick, or simply draw your side-weapons quickly, is sometimes difficult.

Still want to hear more? Well I plan on playing a little more tonight (after watching the Blazers/Hornets game, of course) so hopefully I'll have more to report soon.

P.S. Wasn't winning Epona difficult back in the day? I think Ingo has been getting rusty in the past decade.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest (Part 1)

My absence from this blog for a while was not without good reason. Following the restructuring of the PoJo and the restructuring of my job (which I explained a bit about when it happened), my schedule in all facets of life changed completely.

I'm not the same geek I once was... or, at least, I don't have the time to be the geek I once was. For instance, yesterday was my first chance to read the dozen or so new comics I purchased nine days ago. I still haven't picked up my buy pile for this Wednesday, believe it or not. And on the gaming side of things, I have a mile-high stack of recent games I still haven't had a chance to get to, like "Assassin's Creed II," "Shadow Complex," "Brutal Legend" and several others.

And all that makes it even stranger that the first video game I'm making time for in 2010 is almost a decade old. For the first time, I'm playing through the "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest," which was released as a GameCube disc as a promotional perk for pre-ordering "Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker."

If you haven't heard of it, the "Master Quest" is a recreation of the N64 Classic (same graphics and all, despite the GameCube platform), with the differences being each dungeon is now laid out differently and with tougher enemies.

How did it come to this, you ask? Well, it started on Kotaku.com, where I read about Zelda Reorchestrated, where a loyal Zelda fan had just recreated all 82 songs (most of them very short jingles) and uploaded them all for free download.

As is the case with most video game music, the sounds make you remember all you loved about the game, and, with the good games, makes you want to go back and experience it all again.

I knew I had the urge to play "Ocarina of Time," again, for the first time in at least eight years, which is when it hit me:

I had always wanted to play the "Master Quest," but with so many other bright, shiny new games out there all the time, it was always hard for me to justify paying new-game prices to get a game I've already played through (the original version) several times. For a while, the best place to find the "Master Quest" disc was at GameStop used, and their prices generally ranged between $60-75, depending on which state you are in.

Last week, found a copy on ebay from a seemingly reliable seller for $40 after shipping. Knowing it would be tough to find a better price right now, and the game will only become more rare as the years roll on, I took the plunge.

I've carved out a little time in the schedule to play over the next two days, so check back real soon and I'll give you the very tardy inside scoop on whether or not the "Master Quest" is worth putting in the time and effort to give it a try.