Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fallout: New Vegas needs a new patch to patch their latest patch

Man, Fallout: New Vegas. You’re just making it really hard to speak highly of you publicly and honestly, and that’s a shame, as you’re a fun game beneath all the glitches and bugs and wonkiness, but when a new patch is released that supposedly fixes your game and then only makes it worse…well, yeah. There’s not much we can do about that. The latest patch is, according to many forum posters, crashing their game and doing nasty stuff to save data.

Publisher Bethesda Softworks is asking fans to decline the title update. We now have to wait for an additional patch to patch the latest patch; yup, it sounds funnier than it really is, and that kind of stinks as I just recently started my third playthrough, but have to now steer clear of playing the game online so as to not ruin my save data. Kapture will just have to wait a bit more, I guess, before getting to throw dynamite at Powder Gangers again, as well as learn the ups and downs for the various Energy weapons available.

I can only hope that Fallout: New Vegas is fixed–or mostly fixed, because us Vault Dwellers truly know that a game like such will never be without some missteps–before the next bit of DLC is announced. I mean, it’s gotta be that much harder to sell more content of a broken game, right?

Right. Y’all been warned.

30 Days of Gaming, #13 – A game you’ve played more than five times

This is kind of a weirdly phrased topic. I mean, it seems like it wants to ask about a game you’ve beaten more than five times because honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve played every videogame ever more than five times–as have you–save for Epic Mickey (cue sound effect). If that’s the case, I had a number of choices for today’s 30 Days of Gaming meme topic, most of them coming from the great house of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Suikoden to name a few.

However, I’m going with Super Metroid, a game I can’t pinpoint on the number of times I’ve completed, but it’s one that I return to consistently every few years and love revisiting. I’m so proud to still have this cartridge in my SNES collection; thank the stars above and below that I didn’t trade it in with all those other games I now regret living without.

Super Metroid thrives on exploration and discovery; without it, Samus would just be some ho-hum bounty hunter that hopped up and down platforms, shot enemies to pieces, and took down crazily unique bosses. Those aspects of Super Metroid are great and certainly nothing to sneeze at, but its everything else around them, the unknown padding if you will, that makes this truly a game worth coming back to again and again. It’s landing on Zebes in the rain and heading to the right to discover that, no, really, you need to be heading to the left. It’s making your way through Crateria, which, as a young boy, I always misread as Cafeteria, and getting chills from the dreary, silent mood thickening in the air above. It’s getting even more freaked out when Samus first arrives at the Wrecked Ship to drips and statue-still enemies. It’s that final boss fight, and the frantic rush thereafter; it’s going back to where it all started.

Every time I play through Super Metroid, I discover something new. Last time, it was reaching new areas with the Shinespark technique that I had previously thought were unreachable. Another time it was sinking through some quicksand to…not die, but end up in a hidden room. Long before that it was learning all the secret, chargeable special attacks. I can’t even imagine what other hidden goodies remain for my next romp through, but I’ll be sure to x-ray scan every wall possible and bomb whatever gets in the way.

Truth be told, I’d love a new version to pop up on the Nintendo 3DS, and considering there’s a 3D upgrade to a title like Excitebike…well, my dream isn’t too far-fetched. Until then, I’m just gonna roll up into a ball and wait.

The Nintendo 3DS battery life is seeing red

I played a lot of Picross 3D yesterday on my Nintendo 3DS, closing the lid when I needed a break, opening it up when I wanted to break something into a blocky but adorable household item. This meant never powering down or placing the system in its charge cradle–I packed it away for the previous Easter weekend trip down to see my father and sister and didn’t feel like setting it up again just yet. So it was little bits of gaming here and there. Also, please consider that the majority of the puzzles I’m currently doing in Picross 3D average about 10 to 15 minutes each, sometimes more if I have to redo them because I suck at math and deduction.

In short, I went from having a fully charged battery to near power loss in only a couple hours. Around three if I was to guesstimate. But here’s where it got interesting. When my DS Lite would start to lose its charge, a red light would appear on the top right of the handheld, indicating that, if possible, charging would be greatly appreciated. The truth is that one could keep playing their red-limned DS Lite for at least another twenty to thirty minutes so it was not super vital to rush over and plug that baby in.

When my Nintendo 3DS flicked on the red light, I assumed the same. And you know what they say about assuming, right? I couldn’t have glanced away for more than a minute before that red light changed chaotically–it began blinking, and not a slow, steady blink, but one that signaled something terrible, like a countdown or a malfunction or something on the fritz. I was amazed to see how quickly this system was signaling that it needed a charge; I used a Quick Save for my current Picross 3D puzzle and hurried over to set up the 3DS charge cradle. The thing was still blinking like a madman when I returned it to its home so I don’t know exactly how long that blinking goes on for, but my guess is certainly not twenty to thirty minutes.

We’ve all known the battery life sucks for the Nintendo 3DS. I mean, I wasn’t even using the 3D slider or any crazy apps, just playing an ol’ regular DS game, and it still sucked away more quickly than normal. I really just need to not rely on the 3DS as my main traveling system, and only keep it around to show folks some of its neater aspects, like 3D pictures, Face Raiders, and my collection of Lord of the Rings Miis.

P.S. Isn’t it simply hilarious that I’m playing a game called Picross 3D on my Nintendo 3DS…and it’s not in 3D? Send in the ROFLcopters to take me away.

Games Completed in 2011, #14 – Costume Quest

Surprisingly, it was not too weird to play a Halloween-themed game in the middle of April. Much credit can go to Easter, another holiday that seems to revel in chocolate and candy and disgusting things like peeps. Having now played and immersed myself in Costume Quest, I can safely say I would have played it during any holiday, candy-filled or not. Yup, even on Frog Jumping Jubilee Day (May 19).

Costume Quest is an adventure RPG set in Schafer County, starring one of two squabbling siblings: Reynold or Wren. It’s Halloween night, and everybody’s out getting their share of candy. Including monsters. Your sister (or brother) is mistaken as a giant piece of candy thanks to a crude candy corn costume and taken hostage by the monsters. Soon, a trio forms, and the quest to save your sibling starts, spanning three large areas filled with monsters, candy, trick-or-treatin’, sidequests, and funny outfits.

Gameplay involves traversing around either the Auburn Pines Suburbs, the Autumn Haven Mall, or Fall Valley, fighting monsters, collecting candy, and completing quests from various NPCs.

The most unique element is, unfortunately, not the game’s strongest. Costume Quest has a cartoony look, with cel-shaded characters and vibrant areas. When a battle with a monster starts, our little costumed kids transform into giant versions of themselves, becoming a Transformers-like robot, a valiant knight, and a spider French Fry to name a few. That last one sounds scary, but it’s actually pretty adorable:

Battles then play out in a turn-based fashion, with only a few abilities to select. A special move charges up after two attacks. When one of the kids attacks, there’s a mini-QTE that can power up your punch; without this element, despite how un-fun QTE is, the battles would be beyond boring. They’d basically break down into attack, attack, special move, attack, attack, special move. Health is automatically restored to all kids after every battle, too. I did not have any troubles with the monsters or bosses in this game, and that’s not gloating, just a fact. So long as you set the right Battle Stamps in place and constantly pay attention to every QTE, you’ll be a-okay.

Another irk, at least for me, is that the text moved too fast to read at times. Why not let me press a button to continue with the text after I’ve read it? I understand that a lot of this is done to keep cutscenes moving forward, but boo…I missed out on some dialogue, and that’s a shame as this is a really funny game. Double Fine knows its jokes, and many great one-liners come from knocking on doors and discovering a monster lurking inside. Speaking of that…

::knock knock::
NEIGHBOR: Who’s there?
PAULY: Trick or treat?
NEIGHBOR: Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?
PAULY: What? No, no.
NEIGHBOR: What’s your costume, anyways?
PAULY: I’m a struggling videogame blogger. Please give me a treat. Pleeeease.
NEIGHBOR: Fine. So long as you’ll leave.
PAULY: Yaaaaaay!

Sweet Justice (25G): Finished the game!

Costume Quest could be summed up as “baby’s first RPG,” which is not as negative as I’m making it sound; it’s very safe, very easy, very friendly. But dang is it charming. The story and characters and funny costume ideas carry the quest through and through; just don’t go in expecting a deep battle system or anything that could be described as epic. Not sure if I’ll go after the DLC Grubbins on Ice as it just sounds a bit like more of the same.

Get excited for a free Excitebike on the 3DS

Here’s something cool: when the Nintendo 3DS eShop finally does reveal itself, us 3DS owners will be treated to a free, downloadable copy of Excitebike. And not just that ol’ Excitebike from eons past, no. This is a new version, specially tailored to show off some of the 3D effects this 3DS is somewhat known for. Since it’s free, that’s a-okay. I mean, they could cover the sweet rides in glitter and periwinkle streamers and throw some training wheels on every bike so long as it was free; us diligent supporters of Nintendo’s handheld consoles deserve something for buying early and waiting awhile, right? Right-o.

This isn’t just a shot in the dark either. Basically, for 3DS owners, it’s our first experience with the “3D Classics” line, wherein classic games are updated with new, 3D effects. Let’s hope they do Tennis or Marble Madness next. Some websites are saying this deal might be in Japan only; I sure hope not.

My wife recently bought Excitebike from the Wii’s virtual console, and she had a blast tumbling and turning over as she miscalculated jumps and landings. Now I gotta go home and play a little just to refresh my horrible motorbike skills. At least there’s now two reasons to look forward to this eShop launching: this and Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version. I think I already said this, but hurry up, late May!

Setting the new consoles loose

Looks like its Spring cleaning time for the videogames industry. Bizheads all over are tossing aside their aging children to make room for newer, shinier ones. Let’s take a look at what’s happened over just the past few days.

Nintendo announced their plans to release a brand new console in late 2012. The device will make its first public appearance at E3 2011, as well as be playable, which starts on June 7 in Los Angeles. Goodbye, Wii, and hello, Wii Wii (or Wii 2 or Wii Are Trying Again or Wii Do HD or whatever they end up calling this mysterious Project Cafe). Not that the company seemed to really care about the Wii for some time, and it looks like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will be the last hyped game for the system before its dumped into those bargain bins at Best Buy for kids many years late to the party to pick up for super cheap.

Nintendo seems to also be phasing out DS Lites, stating that once a retail store sells through its current stock…that’s it. No more after that. I guess this is to make more room for the 3DS and the–to some people–stronger upgrade of the DSi. That’s a shame, especially since I consider it my gaming system of choice; many stores and websites seem to still have plenty in stock though, and they are the most affordable version. If you’ve been waiting to pick up a DS, you might want to stop waiting sooner than later.

Sony is also stopping the production of their PSP models. I don’t know enough–or care enough–about that handheld to give you any kind of insight on the matter, but basically, another one bites the dust. More interestingly, Sony is releasing two tablets capable of playing original PlayStation games with updated touch controls. Um…what? Why would anyone want that? I mean, I guess they do more than that, but for some reason, somebody at Sony thought this was an excellent talking point. However, it is not. I barely want to play a lot of original PlayStation games now let alone have to repurchase them and learn new funky control schemes. The only genre I see faring well with this are RPGs because a lot of button-pressing isn’t based on timing or quick reflexes, especially turn-based combat.

I’m kind of glad that Microsoft hasn’t announced a new successor to the Xbox 360 just yet, but I’m sure it’s on its way. Personally, I don’t believe we need any kind of console upgrades just yet, and it’ll be either a hit or flop for this new Nintendo system, which looks like to be launching with zero to little competition. Unfortunately, Nintendo’s systems seem to place gimmicks above hardware, something many gamers are getting tired of, and there’s a lot of rumors circulating that it could have a touchscreen on its controller, but we’ll just have to wait until E3 to really take it all in.

I hope that, at some point, all the companies, developers, and publishers get together and create the Nintendo PlayBox 9000 and put down their weaponry to live, create, and game in utopian bliss.

P.S. All links go to GiantBomb because I’m too lazy to look around for multiple articles. Deal with it.

30 Days of Gaming, #12 – A game everyone should play

Yup, a game about a voiceless, little boy trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead, which is filled with deadly traps, one friggin’ scary spider, and evil children ready to eviscerate him…yeah, that’s the game everyone should play. Limbo–fun for the whole family!

I won a free download of Limbo last summer and thoroughly enjoyed my time lingering in the space between. Because of its simple controls and lack of overbearing narrative and on-screen tutorials, it’s a game one has to experience, learn as they go, become one with, and for that I have a story, a story I meant to tell long ago, but never got to it.

After beating Limbo, I had my wife Tara play it. I told her very little about the game prior; I sat her down in front of the TV, turned the Xbox 360 on, handed her a controller, and took my spot on the floor next to her to watch. Just watch. I did not say a word. I did not answer any of her questions or react to anything she said. The game had started some minutes ago, but she wasn’t aware yet as she hadn’t touched a button. Once she did, the little boy’s eyes opened, and she started moving through the forest. She ran right into the first bear trap, destryong the little boy, yelping–just like I had my first time. Then she tried to jump over it, dying again. I remember her getting frustrated, because there was no way to jump over the bear trap given where it was placed and the angle of the landscape. Then she discovered that the little boy could push and pull items. Again, I’ve still not said a word at this point; it was thrilling to watch her learn how this world worked, how to manipulate the environment. And she was doing so well…

…until the spider showed up.

Once the spider was crawling after her, she began to panick. The littly boy rushed forward without care, stumbling over ledges, falling down into pits, all in the hope to avoid the spider. Now there was an urgency to everything. And it took her some time learn how to have the spider hurt itself via one of those beartraps, with a teeny bit of nudging from me. Again, there’s only so much you can do in-game thanks to its sparse controls, but thinking outside of the limbo-box is definitely required. When the spider grabbed the little boy and covered him in webbing, she believed she had died again, slowly putting the controller down; however, that was not the case. There was much giggling as the boy, bound and gagged even more than Frodo by Shelob in The Two Towers (the book, natch), hopped as fast as possible to anywhere but there.

Unfortunately for Limbo, once the spider and early forest scenarios are done, the game stops being something to experience and more like something to solve. Like, it becomes very obvious that you’re really playing a puzzle game by the time the boy leaves the forest instead of an adventure title. I showed Tara some of the later scenes via YouTube, and that had been enough. She had experienced Limbo, also known as Run From That Spider. There was no need to ruin that with frustrating puzzles that the majority of the gaming community had to look up online for solutions. Still, it’s a game everyone should play, especially just the first hour or so. With little music and cutscenes to distract, you’re quickly brought into the unsafe world and tasked with exploring, something everyone can connect with, something I know I loved doing as a young boy. Sure, it’s a depressing time, an untold story of siblings separated, but its uniqueness is more than worth the sorrow.

So…have you played Limbo yet?

With the 3DS eShop, comes great Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version

I have a soft spot for Mega Man Legends, a PlayStation title that plays nothing like previous Mega Man games. Instead, it focused on open-world gameplay and character interaction, starring a teenage incarnation of Mega Man named Volnutt. It was also the very first wall-jump into 3D polygons for the franchise, making it a sharp slap in the face of any Mega Man fan ever. Thankfully, I was never diehard obsessed with the blue-armored boy’s adventures, and so when this released it just looked like a fun, light-hearted romp, something like Brave Fencer Musashi, with its bright colors and exuberant character personalities. The plot involved hidden treasure, pirates, and a lot of archeology. Very different from your standard travel left to right to end of level and beat boss, acquire its power, and find the next boss weak to it.

I never purchased Mega Man Legends, but somehow it ended up in my collection. If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I believe I borrowed the game from a friend–just the CD though, no jewel case or instruction booklet–and then never gave it back. Or maybe I did. I have these flashes of seeing the game recently amongst all my shtuff. Not sure if I could find it right now in my boxes and boxes of junk seeing as it’s just a little CD by itself, but I might still have it. Who knows. Either way, I played it, I liked it, and I’m pretty sure I never completed it.

All of this is just to say that Mega Man Legends 3–long desired, long hoped for by many–is in the works for the Nintendo 3DS, and with the launch of the system’s eShop in late May, Capcom is releasing something called Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version. It’s more than a demo, but less than a completed game. Once you finish the core missions, you’ll receive access to areas of the game not yet finished and be able to play with a debug menu that gives you special moves and abilities. Capcom is hoping for a lot of feedback from gamers about it because without any interest, the title itself might just get chucked into the trashbin. Eep! Be a good Servbot and provide feedback here:

Oh, and here’s a little looksie at what’s to come:

Still not sure if this is a free eShop download or a paid demo, but so long as it isn’t too pricey, I’ll be getting it. Five dollars sounds right, but I’m sure Nintendo is going to screw us all and use some wonky points system so it’ll be more like 500 3D Space Bucks. It’ll be nice to have some games to play on my 3DS that don’t require me to move around a room like a goofball (Face Raiders) or have an extra item available at all times to play ’em (AR cards). I can only make so many different Miis before I get bored. Come on, late May…hurry up and get here ASAP.

Why yes, Fallout: New Vegas, I am a stim-ply amazing desert survivalist

Unlocked two Achievements last night in Fallout: New Vegas, and they’re both tied to one another in the form of healing X amount of health points:

Desert Survival (15G): Healed 10,000 points of damage with food.

Stim-ply Amazing (15G): Healed 10,000 points of damage with Stimpaks.

For the Desert Survivalist one, I was playing as Zelda, my character specifically crafted to eat a lot of food and rough it in the wild. By the time I had finished up the Dead Money DLC, she had already healed around 8,000+ points of damage, and so I stocked up on some free food from the kitchen area in the H&H Tools Factory. Then I had her head over to the Samson Rock Crushing Plant where I had her continuously climb up to the top of one of the buildings, jump off, and damage herself. Don’t worry…she had plenty of crunchy squirrel bits and InstaMash to make her feel better. This went on for some time, and while it wasn’t the most exciting way to go about it, it would’ve taken a lot longer to do by trying to find enemies to fight.

For the Achievement tied to using Stimpaks, I switched over to my original, first playthrough character Jareth since Zelda barely used any during her 30+ hours in the Mojave Wasteland. He, too, was around the 8,000+ points healed amount, this time for Stimpaks, and he was just lounging around in his fancy casino suite, looking bored. Checking his inventory, I found around 56 Stimpaks just begging to be used–but how could I do so quickly? I decided to throw karma to the wind and have him attack everybody on the New Vegas strip; this incited all NCR troops and RobCo security bots into attacking Jareth, damaging his health fast and constantly, and within a few skirmishes, he had healed more than enough to ping Stim-ply Amazing and earn an extra 100 XP. Double win!

I’m probably going to start a third playthrough soon, with a character focusing on explosives, energy weapons, and sneaking (for pickpocketing purposes). Feel free to suggest a name. Not sure if I want that playthrough to also be the Hardcore mode one. Need to consider what factions I want to side with, and who would make virtual life in the harsh wild easier.

Zero money budgeted to Secret Agent Clank’s loading screens

For a good while last night, I believed my PlayStation 2 was dead. I was trying to get some play time in before our usual run of Thursday night TV hit–Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation–but the blasted thing just wouldn’t turn on. I checked multiple times that everything was plugged in, and to my horrible eyes, it seemed so. Grumbling, I gave up, watched some TV, and figured I’d try again; the reason I didn’t want to keep plugging and unplugging wires the whole night was that it might throw off our cable or Internet; we have a lot of wires behind our entertainment stand, too many to remember which one goes with what technology.

In the end, I did actually miss plugging in a single plug, and once I did, my PlayStation 2, which “I’ve had since I bought it,” powered on. Whew. I take really good care of my videogame systems, and to see one almost kick the bucket was a little unnerving. Heck, even my original SNES, all yellowed and dusty, still plays catridges. But that’s besides the point. I got my PlayStation 2 working, and it was now time to play some of my newest purchases.

First up was Secret Agent Clank, but before I could truly play I had to free up space on my sole PS2 memory card. Kind of a tough quest actually. I mean, I don’t even have my copy of Suikoden V anymore, but my save data shows some 65+ hours put into it, and I’d hate to delete it simply because I never beat the final boss, and there’s hope that maybe, possibly, hopefully, one day I might get the chance to try again. So I deleted save data for XIII, Killzone, and Odin Sphere. That seemed to do the ticket, as now I have enough available for Clank’s top-secret adventure.

After selecting NEW GAME, Secret Agent Clank opens up…with a loading screen. It’s of a spaceship flying across the screen through space. There’s no music, just a soft whooshing sound as it passes by. This happens about nine more times, with the only change being new angles. Each pass takes about three to four seconds, so we’re looking at almost 30 seconds of just sitting and staring and, unfortunately, zoning out. Those whooshes need to be bottled and sold as nonprescription sleeping pills. From what I can tell, there’s zero to little loading time on the original PSP version, meaning this port is all for the worse. Now, in previous Ratchet and Clank titles for the PlayStation 2, there were similar loading screens when traveling from planet to planet, but I swear it was never more than three instances of a spaceship flying past. Not nine or ten. Ugh.

Once we’re past the happy, happy, joy, joy loading fun-times, we see Clank trying to infiltrate the Boltaire Museum Mission Impossible style, tethered to a wire and dropping down through cut glass. He looks pretty freakin’ adorable in his tuxedo. However, he witnesses his ol’ buddy Ratchet stealing from the museum. PLOT TWIST! I played through the game’s first level, which introduces some of Clank’s abilities and skills and kind of ends on some weird Guitar Hero-esque QTEs, and then, after another stretch of loading screens and getting stuck at the part where I have to control three mini-Clankbots, called it quits. Not because I hated what was happening, but I was tired and wanted to watch some more Party Down.

I dunno. As always, the gameplay is fun and varied, but these loading screens might just cause me to go insane. Stay tuned for drooling and inconhesive rambling.