Things you should see.

Archive for February, 2011

Mortal Kombat OFLC submission confirms Quan Chi, Kabal and Baraka?

So surprise, surprise, Mortal Kombat just got banned by the Australian Office of Film and Literature classification. However, based on the below except from the submission’s comments, doesn’t it seem like Quan Chi, Kabal and Baraka are now all confirmed as playable characters? Double-edged win if you ask me.

  • Kung Lao throws his metal hat into the ground and it spins like a buzz saw. He grabs his prone opponent by the ankles and drags their body through the saw, explicitly slicing them vertically in half. Copious bloodspray is noted. Kung Lao then holds up both halves of the corpse as blood pours out.
  • Jade explicitly kicks an opponent into the air and plants her fighting stick into the ground. The opponent falls backwards onto the stick and is explicitly impaled, with the stick protruding from their chest. Jade then explicitly tears her opponent’s head off, with bloodspray noted, and explicitly plants it on the stick.
  • Stryker tasers his opponent and then explicitly shoots their head off with his gun. Blood and gore is noted.
  • Quan Chi explicitly rips his opponent’s leg off, accompanied by copious bloodspray. As they lie on the ground, he explicitly beats them with the severed leg for a prolonged period of time.
  • Scorpion explicitly slashes an opponent horizontally in two at the waist, with blood and wound detail noted. He then explicitly decapitates them and kicks their body over. As the severed head falls through the air, he explicitly slices it vertically in two.
  • Mileena throws two blades at an opponent, which explicitly lodge in their chest. She slowly approaches and explicitly rips their head off, causing their severed neck to spray blood as their body topples. She then explicitly bites into the severed head before throwing it to the ground.
  • Kabal uses long hooks to explicitly pull out an opponent’s Intestines before explicitly impaling the opponent on two spikes.
  • Shao Kahn uses his hands to explicitly rip an opponent’s body vertically in two.
  • Baraka explicitly lodges a blade (attached to his wrist) in an opponent’s stomach and hoists them above his head. He spins them round and explicitly decapitates and dismembers them, accompanied by copious bloodspray.
  • Kitana uses her ‘folding fan’ weapon to explicitly dismember then decapitate her opponent, with copious blood flow noted.

Emphasis mine. Thanks to Ausgamers for the info and wiigotaproblem for the mad fanart.


Sony’s Broken Promises

I was thinking today about how little I actually feel I can trust Sony. Although their marketing pales in comparison to another consumer electronics giant’s (*cough* Apple), Sony actually puts on a good show when announcing new products. Thing is, I can’t remember a single thing they’ve announced in the last 10 years that lived up to their vaunted promises. Don’t believe me? Let’s work backwards.

The PSN, I suppose, would be the most recent full-fledged thing we’ve had from Sony (I’m not even touching Move here). As it stands, we here in PAL land and our fellows in the US are utterly buggered regarding releases online. The problems are plenty. If we’re talking PSP Go, what a discgrace that is. The system is going for budget prices here. Problem no.1 is its unshakable tether to PSN. Games don’t come out, or are overpriced. You’d think that games would at least be released day and date with UMD version – it’s easy enough for pirates to do it – but that’s never the case either. There was even a big fracas about Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep being brought to the troubled portable by hackers before Sony or Square. Further to that price gouging is so rife you’d think the PSN admins have an active and deliberate contempt for their customers.

Worst though is the availability of titles. As our friends at Destructoid pointed out this week the downloadable game count in the ‘Game Archive’ section numbers 6 times in Japan what it does over here. Licensing issues with publishers is obviously biting Sony in the ass, but not only did they fail to acknowledge these issues with the PSP Go, they went and courted the idea of a UMD redemption program. Hmmm. Realistically there was no intention to ever deliver a plan so asinine, and yet they did it anyway. If ever a legal department held its tongue and let marketing go crazy, it was certainly the one at SCEJ.

Speaking of overselling a system, let’s count the number of things cut from the PS3 from concept to release, shall we? PS2 backwards compatibility hardware was cut after the initial NTSC region runs which meant that nowhere in the world could I get a first edition PS3 to play my extensive PAL PS2 library of games. Well done, guys. This was followed by the missing bunch of ports including a second HDMI, and the 7/8 SPU die yield nonsense started about this time too. All while the price remained stable as far as I recall. Next to go was the card reader, I think? And then most recently the Other OS. Cast your mind back to the ‘you will work more hours to buy one’ rhetoric that Ken Kutaragi was throwing out at every press conference 5 or so years ago and you’ll start to feel how I feel about all this.

The PS2 was possibly my favourite console of all time and objectively one of the bestselling, but let’s point out its shortfalls too. Network connectivity and social networking? One overstuffed title; Final Fantasy XI. Not released in PAL, mind you. Connectivity with phones, cameras et al? Nonexistant. At least the thing played games, but it certainly wasn’t all Sony promised- those things I mentioned, I mean.

And predictions of things to come- the NGP. If the development cycles of the PSP and PS3 are anything to go buy, I think we’ll see libraries heavily fragmented by region and language. We may or may not have multiple SKUs tipping different featuresets (the exact thing Sony railroaded Microsoft about regarding the 360′s optional HDD), but we will likely have a bias toward this new propriety flash media (did they learn nothing from the UMD?) over PSN access and a skew toward ports of some kind for the first few years of the machine’s life. Certainly, the easy code path from PS3 to NGP has been held up as a bonus while I and several others are not so sure.

If coherence isn’t the best thing about this article, let’s sum it up with some impact. Sony was once an innovator in consumer electronics and portable devices and while it has always had its finger in too many things, it’s only over the last decade or so that its left hand doesn’t seem to know what its right is doing. It’s playing catchup and that fact is nowhere more evident than in the Xperia Play, a desperate confusing move in a seeming attempt to fight off both Nintendo and Apple with one stroke. And despite this mammoth task its taken on, Sony still can’t integrate internal business units well enough to let your existing PSN purchases carry over – you need to buy them again. Way to go leveraging your own properties and not alienating the consumer like that.

Heated vitriol this is, but off the mark? I think not. Sony had better lift it’s game else see this coming generation turn out to be their last in the console business.


Ace Attorney Investigations Impressions

Feeling like I have to get my thoughts on Ace Attorney Investigations out before I settle down with Marvel vs Capcom 3 tonight, I know how it must look. I’m a year behind the curve with this one but as much as I love Miles Edgeworth, the proposition of playing a prosecutor who doesn’t enter the courtroom wasn’t immediately appealing. They may as well have subtitled it Dick Gumshoe instead because that’s all Miles really is here- a detective. And that is not the character at all. Certainly not what I signed up for with a game bearing his name.

To be fair, I really love the Ace Attorney series, and if anything, Investigations has served to reinforce that. I had worried that this pseudo-spinoff would lose some of its validity given that core stars of the main series are largely absent and the narrative exists mostly in a bubble. At the same time I was excited that we would finally occupy the opposite bench and take the role of a predatory prosecutor for a change and go on the offensive. No more putting up with inane witness shenanigans!

Turns out I was wrong on both counts. First off, the story is exceptional. As a standalone entry the writing and characterisation – not to mention the clever intertextuality – are every bit as strong as in any of Phoenix’s outings. Actually taken aback by the twists the story takes and how everything comes together in the final case, I got more out of this one than I thought I would. That said, I still miss my old friends and have been hanging out to see what happened in the aftermath of Trials and Tribulations and with Investigations, I’m left wanting yet again. How many years will it take to shed light on those mysterious in-between years? 5? 6? The bigger problem is Edgeworth himself though.

Miles Edgeworth was introduced in the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as the ‘demon prosecutor’. He was ruthless, unconscionable and forged evidence just to get a guilty verdict. The version of Miles on display in AAI is the palest shadow of this; he’s weak, obsessed with truth and hardly as sharp of charismatic as I remember him. In fact he’s a callous bastardisation of Phoenix Wright who was, at one point, his polar opposite.

Despite the game’s new features and halfway-decent core narrative I can’t forgive it’s blatant trespasses against Ace Attorney lore or cavalier disregard for the many, many opportunities it misses in making what could have been a ‘Perfect Prosecutor’ game. The end result is a malaise of confusion and a profound longing for a true Gyakuten Saiban 5 – what ever it ends up being called in English.

 

Gratitude to rogueymu for the great pic.


Warzard the Fallen

This is my very brief retrospective on Warzard, perhaps the most under-appreciated 2D fighter of all time. A few years back Capcom’s legendary CPS-3 arcade system was finally cracked and opened to emulation by everyone with a 2Ghz Pentium or better. Unlike NAOMI, Atomiswave or some of the other emulation holy grails, the Capcom Play System 3, despite its popularity, only had six games. Three of these were versions of Street Fighter III and two of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. All of them were ported to the Sega Dreamcast in one form or another but were still pretty rare, due both to small print runs and also the relatively short shelf life of that console. The last CPS3 title, Warzard, or Red Earth as it was known (or unknown) in the West is nevertheless the rarest of them all. It was never ported to anything and, given the suicidal nature of CPS3 boards, is one title you’re unlikely to legitimately find in a playable state anywhere. Pity that, since Warzard was also one of the most unique titles Capcom ever made.

First off the game only has 4 playable characters and this alone was enough to cross it off tournament calendars and nix any longevity it might have otherwise enjoyed. The campaign plays like an RPG with exp, levelling up and learning new moves and so clearly there was a single-player focus in development. Although who exactly Capcom thought it was targeting with a one man progression-based 2d fighter – an extremely crowded category (and by this point mostly a 3d genre anyway) – I have no clue. Although I’ve always liked the idea of a game built solely out of over-the-top boss fights and so I’m happy enough with the design. Thing is, it would have been infinitely better suited to consoles and yet ironically was the one CPS3 game to get shafted with ports. Shame that half the campaign map is unvisited- clearly there was some intent to revisit Warzard with Super / Turbo style upgrades with the obvious proviso that it did well at the arcades. And it didn’t.

Technically, Warzard was to Street Fighter III what Darkstalkers was to Street Fighter Alpha. It was Capcom’s first experiment with the CPS3 and there’s no mistaking that. I suppose that’s why they were willing to let it die out so readily. The zooming in and out that was relatively smooth in SFIII is blocky in Warzard and there are texture artifacts all over the place. Framerates are inconsistent and while animation is generally pretty decent I haven’t seen slowdown this bad since Street Fighter II or half of the original NeoGeo library. Then again the game boasts the largest sprites in any Capcom game and I suppose moving them around was a taxing affair for hardware in the late 90′s. It’s pretty, and there’s definitely some retro charm in seeing 2d graphics chug.

Since this didn’t turn out to be much of a retrospective, I’ll considerately pass you on to Hardcore Gaming 101′s great rundown on the title, its mechanics and a bit more of the background info than I care to recite right now.

In the end it’s with a heavy heart that I have to commit Warzard to the anals of things with potential that went unnoticed due to poor timing, marketing or something else utterly inane in hindsight. Bah. Let’s just watch this full playthrough of Leo’s story mode that I’ve prepared below and be done with it. It’s almost time for Marvel Vs Capcom 3 anyway which essentially invalidates (or justifies, depending how you’re swinging) everything I’ve complained about here. Oh well.


Where are the big bosses in Dead Space 2?

Variety is the big improvement Dead Space 2 brings with it and that’s pretty much exactly what it needed. There’s more of everything this time with one exception- bosses. Sure there are scripted sequences and a final encounter of sorts, and I feel bad nailing the game for this, but there are no big bosses in DS2. And the omission is a glaring one.

I’m flagging spoilers now. If you remember, Dead Space originally had large necromorph lifeforms that set up some of the set piece encounters and plot points. There weren’t many- the Leviathan, the Slug and ultimately the Hive Mind all showed up later on in the story – and they didn’t make the game either. But they were still some of the most memorable parts. Blasting the Slug (above) with the Asteroid Defense System was a personal favourite. However there aren’t huge creatures or comparable experiences on The Sprawl in the sequel.

If you believe Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis in the video below, this was a conscious choice. But since he implies the Aegis VII Marker wasn’t man-made (it was), and puts that forward as the reason for the lack of large format necros, I wonder if he even knows or cares what was happening. I like to think there was some deliberate rationale amongst the design team though, and that the ‘Ubermorph‘ was a Hive Mind lookalike on purpose, and not just a cheap recycling of The Hunter’s modelling.

And just for fun, here are the original DS bosses. They’re all spoilers, the last one moreso than the others.


Evil Ryu & Oni: Capcom’s PR Fail

Anyone who gives half a damn about Street Fighter will probably have heard of the revelations this last week. Evil Ryu and Oni were confirmed in the arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV after a code got out that enabled them for play. The news made the rounds and even found itself on the front page of Destructoid. Then Capcom stepped in.

The Capcoms had Youtube accounts – all of them – laden with copyright strikes. Those strikes are permanent and in cases where multiple videos were posted, each was counted as a separate infringment. According to Youtube’s 3-strikes policy, many accounts with months and months of legit videos were taken down with little chance of appeal. Then, adding insult to this grievous community blow, Capcom started requesting that arcades involved disabled use of these two characters.

You can see why they might be pissed off about this. These two characters are not really that fresh – although I maintain Oni may as well be a new character – but they do resonate with fans. When, not if, the long rumoured console DLC for SSF4: Arcade Edition comes along, two overpowered semi-bosses will be a big draw with marketing. And I’m pretty sure marketing was the department most upset.

However the fact remains that everyone knows about this. Hell, everyone knew when those achievements shots leaked out months ago and had their suspicions solidified by an official trailer a few weeks after that. Capcom’s attempts to silence the news, entitled as they are to do so, are misguided. You can’t put a lid on this now and essentially all the strong-arm tactics are doing is dirtying the brand. Capcom itself is coming off as a bit of a jerk and the reaction to these two characters hasn’t even been universally positive. They’d be better off scrapping their roadmap now and just releasing the DLC. As much as I’d like to think so, I don’t think they have anything left up their sleeve after E.Ryu and Oni. Bring on MvC3.


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