A Final Word on Final Fantasy...

Tuesday, the last day of this month, is the first big release day for gamers, which actually kicks off a long slate of big releases like Kingdoms of Amalur, Twisted Metal and Mass Effect 3).

Soul Calibur makes a big return after Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat ushered in a whole new resurgence of the fighting game genre. Will it succeed on the same level as those two did? Reviews are solid so far, but I'm pretty sure II was the last one I got any enjoyment out of and this one seems to pretty much eliminate the formerly solid single-player experience of that. pushing mainly for online, which is a necessary component for fighting games but a solid solo experience that really built your skills would be good too.

And Final Fantasy XIII-2 comes out as well. The reviews are piling in, and the general consensus seems to be "better, but not enough". Granted. many of these outlets are the same ones who gave FFXIII high praise only to damn it later when the overall public consensus was that it was terrible, so take that with a grain of salt. It is generally agreed that it offers a lot more to do and a refinement to the highly-praised battle system. I admittedly suffered through the terrible story of FFX-2 because the battle system was amazing, so this my hold similar appeal. That being said, it will not be a day one buy for me, more likely a purchase down the road when and if there's a big drought going on (so most likely summer).

That's all for today. I should have another post up Monday or Tuesday. Til then, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


The name game...

There is a strong rumor going around that come E3, Nintendo's next system, the Wii U, will have a new name. Why? Well mainly because of the 3DS. Not surprisingly, part of the issue with the less than projected sales of Nintendo's newest handheld is the perception that it's merely yet another iteration of the DS only with a flashy new gimmick rather than it being an actual new system. And really, who can blame the general public? There are no less than 3 types of DS systems out right now, if I go into a store without prior knowledge, it'd be hard for me to tell the difference just looking at boxes. And though it would have more to do with the presentation, there is still a pretty big amount of confusion as to what Wii U is exactly. And again the average consumer just looking at boxes (especially at big box stores where associates tend to be either unavailable or poorly informed themselves) might have a hard time differentiating two consoles with only a letter between them.

So should Nintendo rename the Wii U? I think it's not a terrible idea, it could be as simple as naming it something that truly identifies as the next step like Wii 2. It admittedly might be important to identify it as still being a Wii so the casual consumer that gobbled it up last time can just look at it and know that's the continuation. A completely different name can obviously work as well but it would have to be marketed properly, probably with a stronger emphasis that it's from Nintendo, the makers of the Wii rather than the system itself depending on what audience they are striving to reach. Clearly Nintendo is making a lot of steps to draw in more core gamers with finally implementing a seemingly coherent online network, HD gaming and a controller that while unique, also has more traditional features like dual analog, so to emphasize that an entirely different name may be a better idea.

In all honesty, I doubt there's a whole ton of truth to this rumor. When "The Revolution" was officially unveiled as "Wii" pretty much everyone scoffed and thought no one would possibly want to buy anything with that name and yet it's the dominant console this generation. The Wii U with a good marketing strategy and strong launch will do the same regardless of how ridiculous some think the name is.

That's it for today, I should hopefully get another post up tomorrow or Sunday. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Congress Chainsaw


Is Rocksteady about to dine on Turtle Soup?

This is  completely awesome rumor: Supposedly, the pizza-loving reptilian foursome known as the Ninja Turtles are the next target to get an Arkham City-esque makeover from Rocksteady. It would probably not be as dark as Arkham City, probably more of a balance between the Turtles' dark comic origins and their more goofy and family friendly TV shows but if you remember when I did a list of the top properties Rocksteady should do next this was my #1 choice so of course I'm very hopeful this is reality. The main thing that makes me doubt it is the original source is a blog no one has ever heard of, so it might easily be complete bull. Let's all hope come E3 we'll be seeing the first videos of this though.

Apparently Gamestop is offering classic pre-owned games to power-up reward members. But the are going about it in a very ass-backwards way. Ok, it's a nice perk for the card owners, but we can't just outright buy them? We have to accumulate points? And the point totals are incredibly high, you'd probably have to trade-in several recent current gen games just to get enough points for one old-school title. Plus, most old school games worth anything are much easier to get be it through digital means or going to stores like Slackers where you can just pay actual money and nowhere near what you'd need to spend to get them through Gamestop. It's a nice idea guys, but it needs some serious re-tooling.

It seems like Final Fantasy may have a competitor for most overexposed game franchise this year. Aside from yet another shitty movie that seems to even ignore it's own continuity, there are no less than 3 Resident Evil games hitting various systems this year, with the one officially titled "6" just being announced even though not counting re-makes and re-releases this is more like 20. This one almost seems like a far cry from what made RE 4 far and away the best game in the series, as frankly it looks like a Gears of War clone with zombies thrown in, which I'm not at all in favor of. Hopefully as we see more it will show that it is not the case.

Finally, on top of the awesome news not that long ago that we will be getting  Lego DC universe game (which for some reason is called Lego Batman 2 even though it stars pretty much all the major Justice Leaguers) comes this supposedly real promo pic of LORD OF THE RINGS LEGOS

Why is this important? Well aside from LOTR legos themselves being pretty awesome, this virtually guarantees a LOTR Lego video game somewhere down the line. 

Ok that's all I have for today, I should get another post up by Friday, Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Jeff. Who Lives at Home


Nintendo will be dragged into the digital age kicking and screaming....

Ah Nintendo. A rare company that seems to be forward-thinking in a lot of ways, except when it comes to the ever encroaching digital space. They brought the industry back from the brink with the NES, they pioneered things liked connectivity. The DS, which everybody thought of as gimmicky and yet it's the second-best selling system of all time. And of course there is the Wii, which ushered in (for better or worse) an era of casual and motion-based gaming.

Yet when it comes to online, Nintendo almost seems downright draconian in their approach. Wiiware has pretty much been an afterthought, and their whole "Friend Code" system is just bizarre and nonsensical. They are finally making a couple of steps though. The 3DS at least uses a simplified Friend Code (one per system instead of one for every single game), but online support is still pretty weak at this point, with many games having multi-player, but not online multi-player.

At least they are finally trying to catch up in one area: Demos. Demos are something you can regularly access on either the 360 or the PS3. For some reason, Nintendo, while perfectly willing to do in-store demos for some of their biggest titles, has barely dipped their toes in as far as providing anything to try at home. But in hopefully what will be an ongoing-thing a slew of them are set to arrive on the 3DS starting with the first big title of the year, Resident Evil : Revelations, which is out now. Hopefully this is a sign Nintendo is really ready. A nicer sign would be demos of all their Wiiware titles but at least this is a step and also a hopeful indicator for the online future of the Wii U which Nintendo has claimed will have a much more robust online system.

That's it for today, hopefully I'll be able to get in another post tomorrow, until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Casa de mi Padre


Kingdoms of completely generic fantasy....

So two more big demos hit today, for The Darkness II and February's big rpg Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

First I'll talk about Darkness II. Anybody who knows me or reads this blog regularly knows that I'm not a huge fan of FPS games, but I'm certainly willing to give one with an interesting twist and the rare focus on a solid single-player story and the even more rare FPS that doesn't take place either in a historical war or futuristic one. I admittedly found the first game kind of blah and controlling the demon arms was kind of pain. This one makes controlling the arms very easy and the new twist of being able to wield both arms and dual weapons is interesting, but may get just a little too complex trying to juggle it all at once. But this is a lot of maybes. AAs someone who isn't really an FPS fan, It's not interesting enough to get me to buy it, but it looks like a solid alternative for anybody looking for something different from the Call of Duties and their various knockoffs.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, started out life as an MMO. And boy does it show, while the action is faster, this essentially looks like a gigantic WOW rip-off in style. Even most of the fantasy races and the world itself look like it, as does the skill tree system. This is sort of disappointing considered the likes of R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane were involved. The combat is much faster and it's easy to manage switching up between your primary weapon, bows, and magic, but this is a game that offers nothing original in any aspect. It's not bad, it could probably be good filler, but it's certainly not something I would get over any other hotly anticipated title, and considering FFXIII-2 comes out just a week before and Mass Effect 3 not long after, this is one I'll probably pass on.

That's it for today, should get another post up before the weekend, until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: ABOBO'S BIG ADVENTURE


The14 worst Final Fantasy Characters...

Yeah there have been lots of "worst FF character lists" but hey I haven't done one, and being someone who has played FF since the NES days, I can certainly say I have enough experience to make a list. And while many characters who make other "worst" lists commit the mere crime of being boring, these run the gamut from whiny emo bitch to offensive stereotype to just completely useless on all fronts.

#14: Sephiroth (FFVII): The only reason he's not lower on the list is because he's not a party member, so you don't constantly have to deal with his whiny bullshit. He is laughably feminine, looking like something Twilight fans would go nuts over, he's laughable easy throughout the game, especially at the end. But really, most FF villains are forgettable enough douches just trying to take over the world. Sepiroth is a pure momma's boy at heart, even though really, he doesn't even have one.

#13. Barret (Final Fantasy VII): Final Fantasy doesn't have a lot of notable black characters, so it's pretty bad that their most notable is basically famous for swearing. A lot. He's a pretty good party member overall, just extremely poorly written. Saying "shit" every other sentence is not a good defining character trait and something clearly desperately thrown in at the time to try and show video games were getting more mature.

#12. Lulu (FFX): Pretty much the poster girl for over-sexualized females here. It's to such an extent that she comes off more silly than anything else. She is a pretty powerful party member but that just barely balances the fact that she was clearly made as nerdboy drool material.

#11: Squall (FFVIII): The only main FF game I was unable to finish. And not just because it had a fairly broken system. Hell I made it to the end of the third disc, I had invested plenty of time with this game. And I had come to truly despise the whiniest whiner there had ever been in Squall Leonhart. Whereas Cloud was just the right amount of sullen, Squall took it to an extreme with no rhyme or reason. And while the entire cast of FFVIII was pretty terrible, Squall was the terrible, terrible lead.

#10: Hope (FFXIII): Hope gets off  little easy because like many of the above people. he's an extremely useful party member, arguably the most versatile member of your crew if developed correctly. But in a series filled with annoying teens, Hope easily tops the list. Indecisive and whiny as hell, he just keeps grating on you for the 10s of hours anybody who managed to finish FFXIII put in and that is quite the endurance test.

#9: Payne (FFX-2): Granted, FFX-2 was a whole girl power game gone horribly, horribly wrong, but the epitome of this wrongness was probably Paine. Almost seemingly brought in to be the extreme (once again to a hilarious degree) opposite to Lulu, this ridiculously butch character was a walking joke in a game mostly considered a joke itself.

#8: Tellah (FFIV): Yes yes, everybody loves "You spoony bard!". But bad translations aside, Tellah was at some point a powerful mage, but really he's filled with knowledge of powerful spells he's never really powerful enough to use. His stats actually decrease as he levels! And when he finally does one? He dies in an extremely futile attempt to wipe out his enemy, which seems like something a guy who made it to his age wouldn't be stupid enough to do.

#7: Gau (FFVI): Seriously, who came up with this idiot? A character who can learn enemy attacks isn't a bad idea, but to behave like that enemy with no control over their actions is ridiculous. Basically it's a roll of the dice if he's any use at all, and he's really annoying with his caveman like speak where really he can only say his own name most of the time.

#6: Eiko (FFIX): My beloved FFIX doesn't escape from this list. While I love most of the characters, Eiko is like a useless weak version of Garnet, as they are both summoners, but she fills the whiny brat role along with mostly being a liability for your party.

#5: Relm (FFVI): Yep, another whiny useless brat. You see, she can "sketch things" and use their own attacks against them. The problem is that you have no control over what attacks they use and not surprisingly, most enemies are highly resistant or just plain immune to their own attacks. She also has pretty pathetic stats, making her a complete liability.

#4: Edward (FFIV): Ah yes, the spoony bard himself. You know when a guy's most useful skill is literally hiding (which he will actually do automatically if he gets damaged enough) he's going to to be a complete waste of your time. And he's a major whiner on top of that. Easily one of the most pathetic characters on FF history.

#3. Setzer (FFVI): Setzer would probably be at the top of this list, but personality-wise, he's actually pretty cool. But, as a party member, his "Slots" skill ranges all the way from completely useless (which is what happens most of time) to outright KILLING YOUR ENTIRE PARTY. That's right, he can randomly lose the entire battle for you. No other character on this list can claim that ridiculousness.

#2: Quina (FFIX): Blue Mages are generally considered the most useless class in all of FF, because while they can learn powerful attacks, they often get killed trying to do so. And in the history of this class, no character is worse than Quina. An absurdly bad attempt at comic relief, Quina spoke in complete nonsense and was just completely pointless and arguably the most useless character in recent FF history.

#1: Cat Sith (FFVII): The poster boy of completely useless WTF characters. What the hell is he? What does he do? And much like Setzer, his special abilities are completely random chance. This is the not just the worst FF character ever, it's one of the worst characters in video game history.

And that's the list.  I should be back Tuesday or Wednesday with impressions on the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo that should be out on the 17th. Until then, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


Goku's Wrath....

So 2 big demos were released yesterday, one for the first big rpg of the year, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and one for Asura's Wrath, which is one of the first big action titles of the year, due out next month.

FFXIII-2 has a lot of baggage behind it as FFXIII was one of the more divisive entries in the series, so making a direct sequel seems like an odd choice, but at least from the demo it does seem like a lot of the problems have been addressed. Random encounters are back and its easier to fight or flee than any previous game. Sidequests and more open exploration re much better implemented, and the battle system has been tweaked just a bit to feel more interactive, though those who didn't like the system in the first place won't find enough changed to give it a shot. I do think they picked a wise time to release as the only other rpg coming out in the next couple months is Mass Effect 3 and it seems like a solid pickup. It will not be  release day buy for me though unless I actually get through the games I',m currently working through-namely Skyward Sword and Disgaea 4 (I'm more or less done with Skyrim for awhile after tackling the main quest).

Asura's Wrath may seem like a God of War wannabe and in a some ways it's pretty similar (seemingly invincible hero takes revenge on gods or at least godlike beings), but it goes even more crazy over the top to make it seem more in the vein of something like the Dragonball series. This would all be well and good, but the demo I played was about 95% slightly interactive cut scenes which just felt silly and annoying after awhile. I was kind of hoping this'd be something worth checking out, but it's pretty disappointing frankly.

That;s all for today, I should hopefully get in another post this weekend, until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Zombies in Your Backyard


The year of Final Fantasy?

Final Fantasy is somewhat like Square Enix's equivalent of Mario, they can slap the name on pretty much anything and it will sell even if it had little to do with the main franchise. This year especially seems to be FF heavy however, as we potentially have no less than 4 Final Fantasy games that should be out by year's end, covering every platform except the Wii.

The only one with a solid a fast-approaching release date is Final Fantasy XIII-2, due out at the very end of this month. It's probably a pretty solid time to release it, as the next big rpg, Mass Effect 3 isn't even due out til March and rpg gamers could probably really use something to fill that gap. It's already fairly divisive though, as a direct sequel to arguably the most hated entry yet in FF history. To their credit, Square Enix has said they have really listened to the fans' complaints and this sequel really addresses them. In a really rare move, they are offering up a free demo of the game coming out this week that will hopefully put any fears about it to rest.Which of course I will be sure to download and give impressions when I can.

Final Fantasy Type 0 for the PSP has already been released in Japan to pretty solid reviews, but given the focus is on the Vita already and the PSP was never much of a hit in the states, it may take a little bit of a miracle to get it out here. It would be a good final great release in the waning days of the PSP, maybe a digital launch on the Vita wouldn't be a terrible idea either.

Very little is really known about the seemingly forever in development Final Fantasy versus XIII. It takes place in the same universe as XIII, but has a completely different setting and characters, so it should being interesting to see if there is any references or crossover. Hopefully we will see something at E3.

Finally we actually have heard more bout the bizarre little spin-off title for the 3DS that was recently revealed, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Probably because as expected, the raging fanboys were up in arms over the "ridiculousness" of the title. But how ridiculous is it? The FF series is well known for its completely amazing music, as long as the gameplay is fairly compelling, I greatly anticipate it as a really fun 3DS title.

So as you can see, if you're a Final Fantasy nut or just an rpg nut, Square has got you pretty well covered all by themselves this year. Hopefully it'll be something of a renaissance for FF rather than a big degradation of a once great franchise.

That;s it for today, but I should definitely be back Wednesday or Thursday with my impressions of the FFXIII demo. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Thin Ice



Remember this? I sure as hell do, ads claiming that we were not ready for the awesome leap in technology that was the original Playstation. And yes, it was a humongous leap as that was the first time for many switching to cds from bulky cartridges, 16-bit sprites to polygons, 2D to 3D. It was a truly stunning thing.

Now we are entering the time in the current generation where people are starting to talk about the next step, and I'm not sure we as gamers are all that ready for it, or that it is ready to be the leap it needs. Nintendo has already announced it's next big thing, the Wii U, and it could represent a big change in gaming just like the Wii did, but it's not very clear at this point what it'll do. It does represent Nintendo's much needed move into HD gaming, but Sony and Microsoft are already there, have been for years. The next generation needs to be a big leap in order for people to open their ever-tightening wallets, and more shiny won't really cut it. Besides, I have trouble seeing anything in the near future being a significant leap over stuff as graphically stunning as games like Uncharted 3 or Skyrim. The current generation is still going pretty strong and I'm not feeling any urge to leap into the next one unless it offers something I really can't already get. Hopefully Sony & Microsoft realize this before they show off a new system that ultimately impresses no one.

That's it for today, hopefully I will squeeze in one more post this weekend. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Outpost: Haven


What a difference a few months makes...

Well as usual, Nintendo has proved the doomsayers wrong once again. Not that it didn't take some drastic action and a lot of hard work, but basically in the course of a few months they've managed to sell over 4 million 3DS units both here and in Japan. To compare that's actually more than the Wii sold in its first blockbuster year, though a  key difference may have been 3DS supplies being plentiful whereas Wiis were scarce for like the first 2 years. Hopefully Nintendo really keeps us this momentum with lots of key first and third party releases. And as I've said before, only top AAA titles should be at the $40 mark, keeping most other titles in the $20-$30 range would certainly help attachment rate for games that don't have "Mario" in the title.

The Wii actually sold half a million over that for the year as well, proving though everyone seems to be writing the system off in the pending release of the Wii U, there's still an audience if somebody actually wants to make games for the thing. Though frankly as long as Last Story gets a US release, that would be enough for me.

Speaking of the Wii U, let's hope they realize that it will not sell on concept alone. They tried that with the 3DS and quickly had to go back to the drawing board. To really succeed the Wii U will need to convince people it's something worth investing in so it will need an attractive price point (probably no more than $250 frankly) and compelling software that shows off the different capabilities right out the gate. And yes, clearly slapping "Mario" on at least one of those titles would be a safe move.

That's all for today, I should get another post up tomorrow or Friday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Innkeepers