Catching up....

Gah, I had no intention of not posting for over a week even though I was out of town, but sometimes that's how things happen. I did pick up both Lego Batman 2 & Pokemon Conquest but have only played them briefly. They both seem like worthwhile purchases though, I covered my main complaints about Lego Batman 2 which is more about the Lego series in general in my last post. Pokemon Conquest is great aside from the pacing, where virtually everything counts as a "turn", and you can't say go to battle twice in the same turn or shop for items and fight in the same turn, etc. It really slows the game down, not nearly enough to be a deal breaker but it just seems like a ridiculously arbitrary thing.

Moving to two big DLCs this week, first up is Dawnguard, Skyrim's first (only?) big DLC expansion, which is about vampires. Joy. I mean granted, Skyrim is likely to have a very different take on vampires than most things, but vampires have kind of been done to death the last couple of years. There are dozens of races they could really focus on and expand with the deep lore of the Elder Scrolls series, and vampires just seems like the easy option. Even if I didn't have several rpgs in my backlog to get through I would have no interest in this.

And finally the extremely controversial "extended cut" dlc to further explain Mass Effect 3's controversial endings were finally released this week, and I can't imagine the end result pleasing anyone who was pissed enough to demand a change in the first place. I mean really, you get a slide show and a little extra explanation and that's it. Most people who complained and demanded something else wanted different endings or at least certainly something more than a slideshow. And again, I can't see a point in playing single-player dlc from here on out, any way you slice it, the story is done. Personally I thought the only ending that was improved at all was the "synthesis" ending because that one seemed to have the least amount of explanation to begin with (although that's probably because the results of "control" and "destroy" were pretty obvious). I really don't think this dlc solved anything (I still think the ending should've been a culmination of your choices up to that point, not something you chose at the end) and Bioware will just have to move on.

That's all for today, I will definitely get another post in this weekend, hopefully two more depending on my schedule, until then here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Here Comes the Boom


Neither the Lego title we need or deserve....

Granted Lego Batman 2, out today, does finally offer some noticeable changes to the long stagnant Lego games formula that is practically it's own genre now. Full voice-acting, an open-world hub that's huge and characters that play really differently thanks to the powers of heroes like Flash, Superman & Martian Manhunter along with many others. That's great, and admittedly the reason the formula hasn't drastically changed is that even the weaker Lego titles are a blast to play thanks to their simple fun design.

But seriously, this is a game that really shines in multi-player, and it's ridiculous that they haven't done more than finally add split-screen co-op in the last couple of games. This is not a game that taxes hardware, making it 4-player should be a snap, and a game like this seriously screams for online play. I have lots of friends scattered all over the US and it would be extremely fun to play this with them not to mention it would be something aside from the deluge of shooters and sports titles that make up about 99% of online offerings. That being said, it still looks very fun and my wife is a huge Batman fan so if I don't grab it today I will probably grab it soon and I will give impressions when I do get some time in with it.

That's really it for today, but I should have another post today or tomorrow. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Pitch Perfect


Pikachu's Ambition...

I didn't mean to gloss over the release of Lollipop Chainsaw this past Tuesday, but it's been a crazy week as I'm going to California next week and am just taking care of stuff I've been putting off in addition to working a ton. But all the reviews seem to confirm what I guessed-It's a fun quirky title, but sure as hell not worth $60. Much like the great but also not worth $60 Shadows of The Damned, which was a great buy at around $20. Titles like this really make the argument that every game really can't and shouldn't be this arbitrary price of $60. I'll bet if it was $40 brand new it would sell a lot better.

Moving on, Pokemon & Nobunaga's Ambition are both classic Japanese franchises, but you'd never figure the two would make a very good pairing. Much like the initial reaction to Kingdom Hearts, you'd be dead wrong. Pokemon Conquest is a weird blend of Pokemon and old-school turn-based strategy rpg that accroding to initial reviews, works surprisingly well. This is great news because I've been dying for a solid portable strategy rpg since Ghost Recon last year frankly and admittedly with a trip coming up I have a pretty good excuse to buy it. It's supposedly out Monday but I have heard rumors of it slipping to Friday so I'll just give impressions whenever I get my hands on it.

Ok that's really it for today, but I do plan to have another post up tomorrow. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Achievement Unlimited 3


10 reasons the Wii U could succeed...

I don't think anyone will argue that Nintendo failed to make a big splash with the Wii U at E3. Were there some impressive games shown? Sure. Does the gamepad have some nifty features that will be put to good use? Probably. But based solely on the E3 presentation, there's isn't a whole lot of reason to wait in long lines in early dawn hours just for a chance to get one.

That being said, drawing back from the E3 presentation and really thinking about it, there are plenty of reasons to pick up a Wii U, if not this year in the near future. Here are my top ten:

10. Finally getting their online act together: Ok, there is almost no real evidence for this yet. In fact it's recently been revealed that in some form or another, Friend Codes will in fact still be a thing. But it's also been promised that they will be part of a much better system. Nintendo can literally offer experiences that if taken on-line you can't find anywhere else. No other company to date offers Kart racing on the level of Mario Kart or crazy fun 4-player fighting on the level of Smash Bros. and there's a lot more potential where that came from. Obviously potential for a Starfox or Metroid title with online capabilities would be humongous. If Nintendo does finally take online seriously and treat it as a major pillar in its strategy, it could pay huge dividends. Speaking of which...

9. It's the ultimate MMO console: I already did a post specifically referring to this idea, and clearly I'm not the only one who thinks this way be Wii U's greatest asset. MMOs on consoles are still a pretty new thing. The gamepad is a way more ideal setup for playing MMOs on your TV than what is currently available. Hopefully games like Dragonquest X will just be the start. We could see a number of either original or well-established MMOs really solidify the Wii U as a system that really has experiences you can't get on anything Sony or Microsoft would have to offer.
8. The best ports: Ok, I have stated and still stand by the fact that nobody is going to wait for the Wii U versions of games like Arkham City & Mass Effect 3. But the E3 presentation of Arkham City did highlight a reason why future ports may be best on the Wii U-The gamepad will make immersion better by not forcing us to go through menu after menu. We can switch gadgets and other things on the fly. Menu navigation can be a pain in even the best games, and that's just the most obvious idea. If games like Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, Rayman Legends and so on offer superior performance along with enhanced gameplay, it will be a pretty easy sell for someone who wants the best versions of those games.

7.  People are ready for something new: While I wouldn't say people are ready to toss their current consoles in the garbage, for at least the last two years we've been expecting some kind of solid announcement from Microsoft and Sony. It's been a very long generation, and it looks to have a couple more years left in it. That's good and all, but a lot of people are ready for something new and until The PS4 & Xbox 720 or whatever they'll be called actually hit shelves, the new thing will be the Wii U. It will have new games and experiences while at least for the next couple of years he Wii U has the field all to itself.

6. It's an incredibly weak holiday season: The PS3 and 360 have a ton of great games coming. Sometime next year. What's coming this year? Halo 4, Call of Duty Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed III and.... yeah not much else. In previous years during the holiday season, we were practically drowning in AAA releases. This year it seems we are down to a handful. And honestly? That handful isn't all that exciting. The Wii U launch window has a slew of many unique titles that won't be available on other systems even if they don't offer completely unique experiences like the Wii did at launch. Honestly it isn't even the big Nintendo titles that interest me the most. If anything will sell me it's games like Rayman Legends and Project P-100. But again what we are seeing on the current consoles is a lot of the same old same old. The Wii U has one of the more interesting launch line-ups in recent memory and while there are some disappointingly safe bets there's plenty of cool risky stuff too.

5. NINTENDO IS FINALLY IN HD: Granted, for some this may not be that big a deal, but remember the crowd going completely apeshit at seeing the Zelda tech demo last year? Now that it's finally been dragged kicking and screaming into the HD era we will get to see our favorite Nintendo characters in glorious hi-def and for many that's enough. Sure we may get a lazy 2D Mario platformer now, but at some point we will get a shiny new Mario Galaxy successor, an HD Zelda and probably an HD Metorid at some point along with others like Smash Bros. Maybe even an HD Kirby. Nintendo's staple of awesome characters in HD will always be a big selling point.

4. It's getting into the next gen at an attractive price: Ok we don't really know the price point of anything coming out right now, But we know Nintendo has to be somewhat competitive so I think $349 would be the absolute highest and even that might be a stretch. It's virtually guaranteed that the next systems from Sony & Microsoft will be significantly more costly because they will be running insanely high-end powerful engines like Unreal 4 that while pretty, are also very costly to run. Sure, they'll sell the consoles at a loss, maybe even embrace the "subscription" model that Microsoft is testing out now but something like $500 would probably be the minimum at launch you are looking at.

3. It will attract smaller developers: Current gen titles are expensive. This generation has seen unprecedented studio closures and titles need to sell millions just to break even. This will be even more so on the next gen offerings from Microsoft and Sony. One title flopping could easily mean doom. Nintendo has a opportunity here to court smaller developers that make risky original titles because they will comparatively be the low end console. The next Braid or Fez or Cave Story could easily be on the Wii U with it's smaller budget demands and that would be awesome.

By the time I finally get around to playing this, the Wii U will probably be out...

2. It will bridge the gap: Aside from being compatible with all Wii titles, it's already been established that Nintendo will offer a full transfer of saves and Virtual Console games to the Wii U. No it won't play Gamecube games, but when backwards compatibility has been such a sticky issue with Sony and Microsoft, it's nice to see Nintendo jump right out there and say yes, they will do it. Always makes the jump to a new console a lot easier.

1. The Next Brain Age: Is Nintendoland Nintendo's next huge crossover title? It doesn't look like it. But then neither did Brain Age. Or Nintendogs. Or even Wii Sports. Nintendo has a proven record of these titles that no one really thinks will even do all that well and end up selling in the kind of numbers franchises like Call of Duty and GTA can't even dream of. Even if it's not Nintendoland, odds are something will come along that has that huge crossover appeal. I mean why do a new 2D Mario co-op game rather than a new 3D one? Oh yeah, because New Super Mario Bros. Wii sold more than three times as much as Super Mario Galaxy 2. So odds are there's at least one title if not in the launch lineup, that will hit soon after that will really sell everybody, core and casual alike, on the system.

So as you can see, there are plenty of valid reasons not only to not write off the Wii U but enthusiastically pre-order it. Maybe I should call Gamestop now and see if they'll just take my money....

That's all for today, I should be back tomorrow with thoughts on Lollipop Chainsaw and a few other things, until then here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Django Unchained


The top ten games from E3 I'm looking forward to...

Admittedly I've been mostly a big ball of negativity about E3. And while not without good reason, that's ignoring the fact that there are plenty of games to get excited about, so here's the 10 games I'm most looking forward to playing hopefully in the not too far off future:

10. Nintendoland: According to Nintendo, this is the Wii U's own Wii Sports. Wii Sports didn't have a ton of depth, but it didn't need to, it was a lot of fun and easily showed off the capabilities of the Wii. Reggie himself said, when you play Nintendoland, you will instantly "get it". I dunno about all that, but it looks like an incredibly fun collection of pick up and play mini-games that holds at least some appeal to everybody, and we haven't even seen half of them.

9. Rayman Legends: New Super Mario Bros. U might have the name recognition, but we've seen it before a lot in just the last couple years (between Nintendo's systems, this'll will be the 4th game with the "new" moniker in 6 years, and it's a marginal improvement at best). Rayman Legends is similar gameplay, but with a great variety of characters and extremely colorful imaginative levels, it will do it better, just like it's highly acclaimed predecessor.

8. Epic Mickey : The Power of Illusion: I think Epic Mickey for consoles looks promising, but I'm far more excited about this 2D homage to the Castle of Illusion from back in Mickey's gaming heyday. It looks great and the 3DS has been surprisingly lacking in platformers overall, so this will fill a big hole for anybody looking for that.

7. South Park: The Stick of Truth: Granted, South Park games of yore have not been anything horribly exciting, but this game really has the look and feel of the show downpat, with heavy involvement from the creators. That combined with the same game studio who regularly brings us epics like Skyrim hopefully means on epic in adventure in the quiet mountain town.

6. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: I really enjoyed the original title, just felt it wasn't nearly long enough (I'm pretty sure it barely passed the 6 hour mark), so hearing this long overdue sequel will have several mansions along with all new kinds of ghosts is more than enough to get me extremely excited.

5. Project P-100: A lot of people were wondering why this game wasn't shown at Nintendo's E3 press conference, as it seems to getting the majority of the positive press. Granted, it's a little similar to Pikmin 3, but it's got a much crazier fun Viewtiful Joe vibe to it. Which is fitting since much of the team worked on not only that series, but the incredibly awesome Okami as well, which virtually guarantees us an extremely exciting title.

4. The Last of Us: I shouldn't even need to explain why Naughty Dog's newest IP is near the top of my list. The guys behind the Uncharted series deliver amazing set pieces with great characters and always make it look effortless and this new franchise looks to follow that trend.

3. Watchdogs: If there is one game really running away with all the buzz at E3, it's Watchdogs. This futuristic open-world action title looks amazing. In fact, it probably won't be possible on current consoles without a lot of compromise, so don't be surprised if we don't really see this in final form til the new systems are out, but it'll probably be worth the wait.

2. Star Wars 1313: I admit I had pretty much written off Star Wars as a whole. But a dark Star Wars game not featuring a Jedi that has Uncharted-style gameplay? That looks pretty freaking amazing. I really hope this is one we won't have to wait too long for.

1. Paper Mario : The Paper Mario presentation really seemed to capture that elusive feeling of simple, fun pure joy that seemed readily absent from virtually every other corner of E3. I've immensely enjoyed the entire series, and cannot wait for this latest entry, it's easily my most anticipated game of this year.

That's all for today, I will see if I can squeeze out one more post post this weekend. If not, I'm sure I'll post something Monday or Tuesday.


Well I'm not buying a Wii U this year...

Not based on Nintendo's severely underwhelming E3 presentation, anyways. It just seemed full of opportunities where they could have shown why the Wii U tablet is so essential to a different gaming experience, an it didn't. Pikmin 3, which should've been a showcase title for the tablet, doesn't even need the tablet, it just adds a little functionality. New Super Mario Bros. U just looked like the laziest thing ever with some social content thrown in. And some of the games shown were just like why bother? Arkham City came out a year ago, and Mass Effect 3? Who the hell wants to wait to buy the 3rd game in the series? I'd actually be psyched to buy a Mass Effect trilogy that implemented the tablet for quick commands and menu stuff. That'd be simple and awesome. And I already own the whole trilogy!

The Wii U looks like a perfectly solid system, and I'm sure just by it being a Nintendo system, there will be some can't miss experiences that I will need to own it for. But they really failed to show anything that makes it a truly unique gaming experience with things only possible on the Wii U. Unlike say the Wii at the time it launched, which was so different every game was pretty much unique at the time. Sony and especially Microsoft's conferences were extremely underwhelming so Nintendo pretty much had the ball entirely in their court and they dropped it big time. Also not helping is things like the controllers only having about 3-5 hours of battery life and while it's nice that it can support 2 gamepads, clearly nothing at launch will support that feature because they've already said it practically cripples the framerates of games and no games showcasing this feature were even mentioned.

I was ready and willing to be blown away and at best I'm mildly intrigued. Short of some hugely surprising title or a surprisingly low price I can't see myself buying a Wii U this year and I'll be that's the majority reaction.

That's all for today, I will most likely have some final E3 thoughts tomorrow or Friday (there is a 3DS event later today that will hopefully be awesome). Until then, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


Same as it ever was....

As usual Microsoft and Sony's E3 press conferences were full of missed opportunities.

Let's start with Microsoft-Is the 360 even really a gaming machine anymore? I mean seriously, the show was almost entirely about non-gamer things like expanding upon sports broadcasting, more Kinect functionality and just plain bizarre stuff like the Nike trainer program. Of the few games they did show, only a couple are even coming out this year, not giving 360 owners a ton to look forward to. And frankly, Halo 4 looked very blah. It was also a really poor decision to close out the show with Black Ops II, a game that was a known quantity and will be shown many times over the next couple days. Black Ops II on the Wii U would be a nice surprise, on the 360 it's like so what? We know that's coming, show us something new. It wasn't the painful embarrassment of last year, but still a very unexciting and disappointing non-event. I almost feel I could turn in my 360 right now and miss out on nothing since I'm not that big on online gaming.

Sony's press conference was pretty much like last year's where while it wasn't boring, they really needed to blow the doors off and fell far short. They showed a number of vaguely interesting titles, but nothing to blow anyone's socks off. Entertaining mouthpiece Kevin Butler was nowhere to be seen. There were some bright points-The Wonder Book technology actually looks very cool and anything that encourages reading for kids is great. All Stars Battle Royal looks like a lot of fun and will be a nice way to fill the void since a new real Smash Bros. game is supposedly a ways off. And Naughty Dog's new apocalyptic thriller The Last of Us looks amazing, so gamers have stuff to look forward to.
Notice how nowhere above did I mention the anemic Vita? Sony pretty much acted like that as well, barely mentioning it the entire conference aside from an Assassin's Creed spin-off. If there was one thing Sony really needed to do this year it was save the Vita. Show off some fantastic games, drastically cut the price, SOMETHING. But it was given less time and focus than the PSP had in any previous show. It's like even they consider it beyond saving. I can't really see a compelling reason for anyone to buy it at this point.

-That's it for today, I will be at work during Nintendo's press conference which is several hours from now, but I will be watching it as soon as get home and will post my thoughts early tomorrow at latest, but tonight if possible. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK:
Ninja the Explorer


Proof of concept...

Nintendo had their first of several E3 events yesterday, with a presentation showing of a lot of the features of the Wii U. Most were pretty cool, such as live video chat, using the gamepad as a universal remote and the potential expanded feaures of the "Miiverse". It all sounds incredibly cool, whether or not it will be implemented into gameplay in interesting ways is yet to be seen. Honestly the most troubling words I heard during this whole presentation was "later" &; "eventually". These words accompanied many of the coolest features shown, and of course those words mean those features will not be available at launch, some may not be available for a long time after that if ever.

Hopefully Nintendo will get right on the ball and everything will be rolled out in short order. A lot of great ideas get presented at a console's launch and some are either not what they are cracked up to be or never see the light of day. These features being available shortly after the console's launch would be key, especially the social aspects in my opinion, where it looks like Nintendo is finally doing more than just playing catchup really poorly, they are doing something that is really unique and won't make them look like they are just aping their competitors. Tie that with a competent way to play online and you might have the best online system available which would be an amazing turnaround from the dark days of Friend Codes.

This of course was just the beginning, we'll see a lot more at the actual press conference on Tuesday. But as of right now I'm very impressed with the hardware, just need the software to match it and I'll be sold.

That's all for today, I have a pretty packed schedule today and tomorrow, I will try and do an update on Microsoft and Sony's press conferences possibly late tonight or early tomorrow but at the absolute latest I will do a post on all 3 tomorrow evening. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Les Miserables


10 games I would love to see at E3

We are a mere 3 days away from the biggest gaming show of the year, and there are certainly a lot of things to be excited about-A good look at the Wii U, a new Gears of War game, along with new entries in the God of War series and Sony's blatant but fun looking Smash Bros. rip-off. So even if there isn't much in the way of surpises it should be a very entertaining show. That being said, here are 10 not officially announced but totally plausible games I would love to see at this year's show:

#10: Dragon Age III: This is pretty much all but official, so don't be surprised if it actually makes a showing, but aside from Bioware talking about some loose plans fro the next game, nothing has been officially announced. I know II got a lot of flack for it's loosely strung together plot and lack of locations, but I loved the fast-paced combat so if they can stick that with a solid story and a wide variety of locations we could have a great epic rpg on our hands.

#9: New (full) Ratchet & Clank Game: Now, there is a new downloadable R & C coming out, which is great, but it's already been described as a "bite-sized adventure". I would love to see the next full game at least announced, as this is easily one of the main reasons I even own a PS3. Even a spin-off title starring Quark or Nefarious would be pretty awesome, especially after the mildly disappointing All-4-One.

#8: Rocksteady's next superhero game: There is going to be another Batman game, Kevin Conroy has confirmed he's working on it (also duh, Arkham City is one of the biggest games ever). But the developers have stated they might want to try something else as well. I'd be equally happy with either, a new Batman game from Rocksteady is something to get very excited about, and so would be something new focusing on a different superhero because there's a lot of them that could make awesome games.

#7:  New 2d Metroid: Other M left a very bad taste in our mouths with it's terrible characterization of Samus and bland gameplay. But a return to the classic 2D gameplay of old developed by a worthy studio would do a lot to make up for it. The tablet controller could be easily implemented as well. Hell just remake Super Metroid in HD with Wii U tablet functionality, I'm pretty sure us fanboys would just drool over that. Though for the record I'm not opposed to a new 3D entry either, but I feel a new 2d game is more warranted.

#6: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: Uh yeah, probably not quite like the above image. Granted, MUA2 was a mild disappointment, but the Avengers and Marvel properties in general are incredibly hot right now, so what better time to re-invigorate the franchise with a new entry? I could certainly do with a new round of MP Diablo-style gameplay with a large cast of Marvel characters.

#5.No More Heroes III: Suda 51's crazy assassin tournament series is just amazing, and there's no reason for it to end with only 2 entries. Honestly if you own either a Wii or a PS3 do yourself a favor and pick this up because it's essentially like if Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino teamed up on their best possible day to do a video game. Travis Touchdown is also one of the most entertaining protagonists of this generation frankly, so it'd be a shame if we didn't see him again.

#4: Psychonauts 2: Is it happening? There's been some really open discussion and it seems like the wheels are slowly turning, so it'd be great to at least have an official announcement. This was one of the most original and entertaining games of the last decade and it's death at retail is a great crime. Seems like people over the years have finally discovered it's greatness as the demand for a sequel is pretty huge.

#3:  Shadows of the Damned 2: Yet another brilliant but virtually ignored game from Suda 51. What makes me really excited is they said a sequel was being considered anyways, because this is video games' From Dusk til Dawn, just an incredibly fun and funny thrill ride that I'd hate to see stopped so short.

#2: Crimson Skies II: For some reason, flight combat is an extreme rarity on consoles in general. I can't think of many that even came out this generation. Crimson Skies is one of the best I have ever played and it was incredibly popular, so why there's never even been any real word of a sequel is beyond me. I spent tons of hours playing the multi-player an would love to jump into an hd sequel to this.

#1: Kingdom Hearts Console game: Yeah us Kingdom Hearts junkies can get our fix with Kingdom Hearts 3D on the 3DS, but c'mon, it's been 7 years since we've had a proper console follow-up. Enough is enough. STOP TORTURING US SQUARE ENIX. I wouldn't even need any new worlds, new adventures in the old ones would be fine (although for God's sake please leave out any musical levels).

-Ok that's it for today, I will probably try and get in one more post this weekend, but I will certainly be posting as soon as possible on E3's big conferences, which start off with Sony Monday evening. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Zombie Tormentor