Friday, April 30, 2010

Halo: Reach (beta)

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: May 3, 2010 (public beta)
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: NR

In a nutshell: Getting into it wouldn't be much of a reach.

0:00 The Halo 3 beta was actually my very first game for lunch back in 2007.I haven't exactly become an avid player since then -- give me a Left 4 Dead or a Borderlands any day -- but I'm still interested to see what all the fuss is about.

0:01 A very short introductory trailer shows a Spartan putting on a helmet and some sort of flying vehicle crash-landing amidst a firefight. Then a quick cut to a black screen with blue text. "Welcome to the Beta... the experience you are about to enjoy is a delicious sampler platter of multiplayer modes from Halo: Reach." Delicious! They want honest feedback at I'll provide it here instead.

0:03 I don't have any "credits" yet, so I can't buy any of the cool armor on display in the armory. I can change my service tag to any four-letter combination of letters, numbers and symbols, though. I choose "@_@*" because that's what I expect to look like after sucking it up in this beta.

0:05 I'm playing this at ten in the morning the day after I got my code. This is partly because that's when I finally found the time, but it's partly because I really suck at Halo and didn't want to go up against all the good people with super-early access. Then again, if you're still playing at 10am the next day, you're probably pretty good too.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alan Wake

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC
ESRB Rating: T

In a nutshell: Being a writer takes you to some dark places.

0:00 The first and last time I saw a live demo of this game was way back at Microsoft's X06 event in Barcelona. Back then I called it "definitely one to watch for." Today, I guess we'll see if over three years of watching out have paid off.

0:01 A man with a flashlight looks around nervously. Zoom out as we see he's framed by the massive "A" in the "WAKE" of the brightly lit title. I press start and a lighthouse appears with ominous white smoke rising up to a bright moonlit sky.

0:02 Subtitles are disabled by default. Am I the only one who likes using them by default?

0:03 Selectable difficulties are Normal, Hard and Nightmare, the last of which is locked. If Normal is the lowest, doesn't that make it "Easy," technically? It's what I choose, anyway.

0:04 "Stephen King once wrote that, 'nightmares exist outside of logic...'" Horror story characters always question why, but answers are not and should not be forthcoming, according to King. So I guess we shouldn't expect a lot of concrete explanations from this game, huh?

0:05 "My name is Alan Wake. I'm a writer. I've always had a vivid imagination, but this dream unsettled me... So yes, it began with a dream." He's driving on a coastal road, desperately trying to reach a lighthouse for some unremembered reason. He hits a hitchiker, who lies unmoving... unblinking. "He was dead," Wake self-narrates before the headlights go out and the man disappears. "Episode 1: Nightmare."


Friday, April 23, 2010

Samurai Shodown Sen

Developer: K2 LLC
Publisher: XSeed
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Arcade
ESRB Rating: M

In a nutshell: Slashing randomly.

0:00 I've never played a Samurai Shodown game, or had a real desire to do the same, but XSeed sent this one on over, so it deserves at least an hour out of me.

0:01 A pink petal falls through a black void. "It is bushi's nature to fight and die" says the subtitled kanji calligraphy." A white-clad warrior with big black hair sits under a tree. He opens his eyes and slashes the calligraphy with his sword. He slices the air again in slow-mo and throws his sword up in a mighty spin, catching it in its sheathe effortlessly. Somehow, two large stone lanterns near the tree have been chopped in two. The title appears with the message "Press Start or A Button." That's... oddly specific.

0:02 I know playing a fighting game in single player mode is sort of beside the point, but I'm relatively sure none of my friends have ever played a Samurai Shodown game, so it'd just be button mashing between us for the first hour anyway. And I know I should probably break out my Xbox 360 fighting stick for the hour, but frankly I can't be bothered.

0:03 Available difficulties are Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard and Expert. I'll go with Easy rather than Beginner because I've played my fair share of other fighting games. Lets speed things up by setting it to one-round matches and a short, 30-second time limit.

0:05 Story mode lets me pick from 24 characters with odd names like Wanfo, Rimurimu, Ki Hae-Ryeong and... Walter. OK, that last one's pretty normal. I like the little four-word descriptions for each character, and the one word summary: "Tricky," "Power," "Speed," etc. I go with Haoh Maru, the "wandering strong swordman" because he was the one in the intro. video.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Walk It Out

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Jan. 12, 2010
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E10+

In a nutshell: Walk it out of your list of desired games.

0:00 I will admit, there was a bit of morbid curiosity involved in requesting a review copy of this game from Konami. That and the title reminds me of Entourage. Walk it out, Bitch!

0:01 On the preview screen, a perky, heavily accented voice chirps: "Come on over. Welcome ot the de-mining." I'm pretty sure I'm mis-hearing this, but I've listened to it 6 times now and that's the best I've got. My wife is equally stumped. Who knew this game would be so confusing even before the title screen?

0:02 "Hey, I'm Liz and I'm a personal trainer," says an impossibly fit woman talking in front of quick cut scenes from the game. "It's time to walk it out and get fit to over 100 of your favorite songs. ... That's right, I'm talking to you, Dad." A bewildered looking father gets extremely excited about walking in place."Looking good. Come on kids. Great work, keep it up. ... So, if you aren't breaking a sweat just yet, you will be." Um, I already have the game... do I really need to watch an ad for it? Maybe this was designed to attract people watching an in-store kiosk, but I have to wonder... what store is lame enough to put Walk It Out! in a kiosk?

0:03 I choose the Single Player mode because I'm relatively sure I have no friends who would be willing to walk in place with me.

0:04 "Hi there, my name is Nancy," says a cartoon girl with a headset mic. "I'm here to help you with the game so you can get walking." What happened to Liz? "Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you about boyfriends or girlfriends or anything like that, honest!" Um, I wasn't worried. Also, I will freely admit that I am married.

0:05 Now I get to customize my avatar. A Type is "more masculine" while B Type is "more feminine" Why not just let me choose a gender, like every other game? Maybe I only get to be a masculine guy or a feminine guy... is that it?



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another World: 15th Anniversary Edition

Developer: Delphine Software
Publisher: Interplay
Release Date: 1991 (original version)
Systems: Windows (reviewed), roughly 10 billion others.
ESRB Rating: T

In a nutshell: Death, dead-ends and disintegration rays

0:00 I never had much interest in this one as a kid, but today, it's considered one of the classics of the medium, and highly influential on everything from platformers to adventure games to survival horror. At $10 on, I couldn't resist. (By the by, the game is also known as Out of this World in the States).

0:01 No loading, no company logos, just the stylish, angular Another World logo zooming in to reveal the menu screen. In the background, a hand-painted scene of a blasted landscape with rocky outcroppings and a few odd-looking figures.

0:02 Since this game is almost 20 years old, my crappy computer can actually run it at full 1280 x 1024 resolution. Feels nice to be relatively ahead of the curve, for once.

0:03 A black car screeches to a halt outside a rectangular building. A dark, thin figure walks in (nice cinematic camera angles) and goes down an elevator. The elevator doors open and we see our protagonist, with shocking orange hair and a simple black T-shirt. The blocky, polygons and solid-color textures remind me of a darker Super Mario 64, in a way.

0:04 Our protagonist enters a keycode into a number pad and some laser system IDs him biometrically. "Good evening professor." says a screen. "I see you have driven here in your Ferrari!" A scientist with a Ferrari? I guess this game really is science fiction.

0:05 This guy has a cool 3D volumetric display, but it can only display shades of green, like a 1970's APPLE II monitor or something. Anyway, he alters some particle accelerator parameters and runs an experiment. I think I know where this is headed...



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo

Developer: Media Vision
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Oct. 20, 2009
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E10+

In a nutshell: "Boy, this is [not] getting exciting."

0:00 I was a fan of Dragon Ball Z in high school, but never really got into the original Dragon Ball series this game is based on. I wasn't a big fan of the last Dragon Ball universe fighting game I played, so my hopes aren't very high for this one.

0:01 As I load up the preview screen, a young Goku cries out: "Boy, this is getting exciting." Um, I haven't even started yet. What's got you so excited?

0:02 Goku, a small boy with spiky black hair and a red karate outfit, runs through a field and jumps onto a yellow cloud. Bald-headed Krillin and other characters wave as he flies by as a Japanese theme song plays. The title appears before a bunch of characters I vaguely remember from Dragon Ball Z appear reflected in Dragon Balls. Blue-haired Bulma rides a moped with Goku in back. Goku and Krillin fight under the watchful eye of elder Master Roshi. A blonde-ahired announcer starts a fighting tournament. Goku flies through a city as bullet are fired at him from unseen guns. In a plane, an old looking green guy rains destruction from above. The dragon comes out of the dragon balls, ready to grant a wish. All the main characters freeze in a big triumphant pose. The title appears again. Feels like an anime opening to me!

0:04 When I advances past the title screen, Goku again tells me, "Boy, this is getting exciting." OK, Goku, time for your Ritalin.

0:05 As I move about the main menu, Goku narrates every available item. "This is where you can adjust all the game's options!" On the options screen, Krillin narrates with a shit-eating grin. "This lets you adjust the size of the screen." Just think, they had to pay voice actors for those lines. That is money that did not go to hiring programmers. I'm just saying.



Monday, April 19, 2010

3D Dot Game Heroes

Developer: Silicon Studio
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: May 11, 2010
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E10+

In a nutshell: More Zelda than Zelda.

0:00 I like the blocky, 3D aesthetic I've seen in screenshots, and the comparisons I've been hearing to the old 2D Zelda games are encouraging.

0:01 Retro chiptune music plays as we get some diagonal overhead shots of the game's various areas: A desert, a plateau, a field filled with bushes. The "demo play" shows our hero using a hookshot to cross a river, putting up a shield to block arrows from Goblin-ish enemies, arrows being fired at leaping spiders, and a dungeon whith a skeleton battle. Besides all the characters and environs being made of small colored cubes, these shots could all have come straight from A Link to the Past.

0:06 I hop into the editor to "edit my character." Only after playing around for five minutes or so, trying to make a passable round smiley face, do I remember that I have no artistic ability.

0:07 That's OK, there's a whole lot of pre-made characters to choose from. "Striker" has a soccer ball to dibble in front of him. "FunkSanta" has the familiar red and white pallette and "a funky walk." "Galleon," is an honest-to-goodness pirate-type ship. "Poochi" is a dog. "GT Car" is... well you get the idea. The oddest, though, is "President," described as "the X7th president of the United States" who just happens to be a red and black dragon.

0:08 After all that, I go with "Pumpkin," a black spectre with a pumpkin for a head. I name him "...~%O[triangle][square]X, because I can.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sonic 2 (iPhone)

Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Late April 2010
System: iPhone/iPod Touch
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: Not quite uncontrollable, but not quite controllable either...

0:00 The original Sonic 2 was the primary reason I bought a used Genesis to go with my beloved SNES as a child. That said, I'm not at all confident the game will be as enjoyable when controlled via touchscreen. Some games just need buttons, I think.

0:01 A good ten seconds of loading precede Sonic running in front of the traditional "SEGA" screen, complete with singers chanting the name. The title is the same as ever: "Sonic and Miles 'Tails' Prower in... Sonic the Hedgehog 2" Oh man, this takes me back. I remember being SO impressed with those big character sprites back in the day.

0:02 I tap the screen to bring up a ridiculously bare bones menu, and tap it again to bring up the familiar Emerald Hill Zone, Act 1. The scene is stretched nicely to fill the whole iPod. There's a little translucent d-pad in the lower lefthand corner and a little A button in the lower right. Hey, what if I want to use the B or C buttons? I know they all do the same thing, but still.

0:04 So far it's surprisingly easy to place my thumb in the center of the d-pad picture and kind of rock it back and forth to move. I get hit by a few coconut-throwing monkeys, but I feel like that's my fault, not the game's.

0:05 I've already collected my first 100 rings and my first an extra life, so I guess the controls can't be that bad. So far the game runs with nary a hiccup on my 2nd gen iPod. "Sonic Got Through Act 1" and earned a continue in the process.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love & Death: Bitten

Developer: PlayFirst
Publisher: PlayFirst
Release Date: April 13, 2010
System: PC
ESRB Rating: N/A

In a nutshell: I'm hunting for a reason to keep playing this game.

0:00 This game's publisher actually recommended it to me via tweet just yesterday. The web site's suggestion that I "experience the epic romance" made it somewhat of a no brainer for a trial play.

0:01 The title screen features a hungry looking vampire with a reclining redhead laying on his lap, her neck deliciously exposed

0:02 An old crone stands over a bubbling green cauldron. "Beyond a cursed forest lies a crumbling castle. Inside a witch keeps her vampire, Damon, under her spell." Apparently her spell involves lying with him in some tangled sheets. "Damon, my love, go to the village and fetch us something to eat..." "As you wish, Celeste... forever as you wish" He doesn't seem too happy about being a witch's slave. The crone tells us his salvation lies just out of his reach. "But the fates tell me of a mortal girl who may yet... who may... oh my." Aww... she's a bashful old crone.

0:04 "Chapter 1: The Search. Damon arrives in town in search of a meal." In a spare wooden shack, with meat hanging from the walls. My first goal is to close the shutters and shut out the torch-wielding people outside. "Don't let it escape back into the forest!" they cry. Two clicks and the shutters are closed. "The fates are impressed" rather easily, apparently.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: June 23, 2009
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: T

In a nutshell: Training to be a Monster Hunter is long, boring work.

0:00 This is like the PSP's answer to Pokemon, right? And the Japanese love it just as much as Pokemon? I'm not really a big fan of the Pokemon games, but this one has been sitting on my shelf for way too long, and it deserves its fair shake.

0:01 After a bit of loading, a tarp goes up at a makeshift campsite. Long pan over a suit of armor. A knight pounds a tent post into the ground as an ambulatory, human-sized cat carries some cloth in the background. A large beast grazes lazily in a field. The knight wipes his brow, dons a suit of armor, and takes a pickaxe to a rock wall. He trades the mined gems for some metal, then takes them to a blacksmith to be pounded in to armor. BORING! Where's the ACTION?!

0:03 The knight reads a map and buys some dragon meat to carve into a ridiculously oversized sword of some sort. Now a trio of soldiers is running out of the forest, tailed by a big dragon. The dragon trips as the soldiers fire makeshift bazookas, taking him down. An old woman sews the dragon hide and makes a nice vest and headscarf to go under the armor. A trumpet fanfare plays as we zoom in on the dark heart of the forest, where a black beast with glowing red eyes lunges. Title! The opening did a good job establishing the world...

0:05 Backround loading is set to "off" by deafult in the options. Who thought THAT was a good idea?


Monday, April 12, 2010

No More Heroes

Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Jan. 22, 2008
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: M

In a nutshell: Light sabers + philosophical ramblings + copious amounts of blood = No More Heroes

0:00 I've heard from numerous people that this game is batshit insane (in a good way), so it seemed worth a $10 gamble during a recent Gamefly sale. Also, I have some catching up to do, since No More Heroes 2 is already months old.

0:01 Company logos, then a flag I don't recognize flaps in the breeze. The title appears as an unlit neon sign atop a building. The instruction "Press A" appears as a series of rotating 3D cubes, for some reason.

0:02 Selectable difficulties are "Sweet" and "Mild," the latter of which promises that "many strong men await you." Mmmm... strong men...

0:03 A guy in a stylish red leather jacket walks out of the last room of a motel as the camera pans down and away. He just stands there, implying I should do something, I guess. So I run to the stairs using the Nunchuk's thumbstick, and he walks down to his bike in a cut scene, whistling tunelessly as he goes. He hops on the hog and he's off.

0:04 "I know a lot of gamers out there don't have much patience... at least that's what Bishop, the dude at the video store said," narrates our protagonist as we get a bunch of really quick cuts. "So I'm at the register and I realize I've got no money, I'm seriously broke" Why? Because he met a smoking hot chick at the deathmatch bar, and she smelled good, and he's a gentleman, so he bought her a drink. Then he got a job... "assassinate the drifter." The guy showed up, and the narrator "couldn't tell if he was the shit or just all shit." He was "styling, fast, aggressive, packing heat. Bada-bing" -- he beheads the guy in silhouette. Enter Sylvia Crystal, "an agent with some whatchamacallit association" She certifies him as the 11th best hitman in the world and invites him to aim for the top. "I want to be No. 1. How's that? Short and simple enough for you? It's gonna be a long road... who knows... may be awesome, may be dangerous... Whaddya say bro? Join me... And for you there, holding the Wii Remote, just press the A button. Let the bloodshed begin." Batshit insane doesn't even begin to describe it...



Friday, April 9, 2010

WarioWare: D.I.Y.

Developer: Nintendo R&D 1
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 28, 2010
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: Ten years of computer science education condensed into a one-hour tutorial.

0:00 I've played every WarioWare game obsessively for seven years now, and used my atrophied computer science skills to program simple games on my own for about twice that long, so a game that lets me make my own WarioWare games seems like a winner to me. I puttered around with this a little bit on the GDC show floor, which was hardly the ideal environment. I'm also using this hour as a try-out for the DSi XL Nintendo was kind enough to send me. So far it seems like a bigger DSi.

0:01 An overhead view of a cartoony "Diamond City" on the water. Gulls call out in the background as we focus on the island-based Crygor Labs. There, the visored Dr. Crygor plays games, when suddenly all the characters fly out of the TV. It was all a deam, but it inspires Crygor to make the Super Markermatic 21.

0:02 Wario comes in and demands Crygor fix his TV... or at least trade it for the Makermatic. Without few words, (but many pictures) Crygor explains that the Makermatic is no mere passive TV -- it lets you merge graphics, sound and AI into a game. "This just might be my ticket to riches!" Wario says with a triumphant jump. I place a stamp on the cartridge that comes out of the machine and we're off.

0:04 Looks like I have to start at the DIY shop. "This is where you can play games, read comics, listen to music... you know, cool things." Funny... only one of those was considered a "cool thing" in my middle school days.

0:05 "Oh, you must be the shop manager! Hello!" says a little Raggedy Ann-looking girl. She's Abby. I enter my name as nine star symbols, because I can.



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mega Man 10

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: March 1, 2010
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Wii, PS3
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: It's been a while since I threw a controller through a TV, but it might not be too much longer...

0:00 I loved Mega Man 2 and 3 when I played them obsessively on the NES. I loved Mega Man X on the SNES. I loved most of the Mega Man games I played on the PS2's Anniversary Collection. I loved Mega Man 9 last year. I loved the quick demo of Mega Man 10 I got at the Consumer Electronics Show. I fully expect to love this game.

0:01 Mega Man's sister Roll rolls in. "I'm home." "There you are roll. Are you OK?" asks the kindly Dr. Light. "I dunno, I think I have a fever." She blacks out and Light explains that she "has come down with Roboenza. From what I can tell the virus only affects robots." Well, with a name like Roboenza, the robot-exclusivity isn't all that surprising...

0:02 So in 20XX, Roboenza is an all-out robot pandemic, and the humans can't figure out a cure (or even "perform simple tasks") without the aid of their robot helpers. OH CRUEL IRONY! Oh, and a month later the infected robots go crazy and try to take over the world. Of course.

0:03 Dr. Wily crash lands in his classic UFO, which Mega Man catches for some reason. "One of those infected robots went crazy. I've spent the last few days studying this roboenza. But even my genius was unable to find a cure." Long story short, he needs help finding pieces to his medicine-making machine and putting them back together. Mega Man volunteers, of course, and gets an offer of help from the mysterious Proto Man on the way out. "Let's do this." And the title screen appears, with Mega Man and Proto Man in partial shadow. Nice old school music.

0:04 Based on the character select screen, Proto Man has the classic slide, a chargable shot, and his shield can deflect bullets. Mega Man has none of that stuff. So why would anyone choose Mega Man? Ah... "Clearing the game in [Proto Man] mode will not be reflected in the leaderboards." That's OK... I'm not going for leaderboarding. That is so a word!



Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Developer: Southend Interactive
Release Date:
Nov. 18, 2003
ESRB Rating:
Official Web site

In a nutshell:
In comic books, everyone can hear you scream in frustration.

I remember hearing good things about this stylish shooter when it first came out, so I couldn't resist picking it up for $2 during an extreme bargain bin binge. Will it hold up so many years after its initial release?

A bare bones loading screen crawls along, leading up to an utterly silent title screen with a guy in a flak jacket guarding a mocha-colored woman behind him. "Please press the START button to begin" blinks in an annoying gray box.

Selectable dfficulties are Arcade, Normal and Realistic. Wait, Arcade is supposed to be the easiest? Some of the most difficult games I've ever played were at an arcade. I go with Normal.

A cel-shaded, open-air covertible goes through a ticker tape parade, while in another frame, someone loads a sniper rifle. Zoom out to show these scenes as part of an animated comic book. Zoom back in, and a shot is fired. A police officer waves me away as chaos reigns. A bald old bald man smiles evilly. Elsewhere, someone makes a calligraphic "XIII" with a fountain pen. A guy in glasses and a red coat studies the sniper rifle. "Yes, I will continue the work that my brother William started," says a politician at a pulpit. "And yes, there will once again be a Sheridan in the white house!" Wow... the Kennedy allegory was so subtle, I almost missed it.

The guy in red, an FBI man, apparently, argues with a man in military fatigues, voiced by TV's Adam West."No one can stop me from conducting my own investigation, you hear me, Amos?" the military man yells. Cut to the bald man. "Number XIII will soon no longer be a problem." Cut to a war room: "Gentlemen, we're ready to launch operations." I... I think I understood most of that. Maybe.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We Cheer 2

Developer: Namco Bandai

Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Nov. 3, 2009
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: "Just try to have fun with it!"

0:00 This game's been sitting on my "crap-looking games publishers send to me for some reason" pile for way too long now. My wife encouraged me to try it out today, but challenged me to do so in a way that included "no misogynistic comments of any kind." Ooh, I love a challenge.

0:01 I load up the preview screen and hear "We Cheer 2" intoned by some perky-sounding female cheerleaders who I'm sure are thoughtful, independent people with myriad interests outside of cheerleading, such as math and science.

0:02 A thought just occurred to me: I didn't play the first We Cheer. Will I be able to follow the complex storyline in this game without that experience?

0:04 The file select screen lists the time played as "000h00m00s." This implies that they they assume someone will play this game for at least 100 hours. Possibly up to 999 hours. Hey, it could happen...

0:05 Wailing metal guitar plays behind the name entry screen. The on-screen keyboard is presented with no instructions of any kind -- not even "Enter your name" or something. I give my character a nice empowering name: "Womyn."


Monday, April 5, 2010

Fret Nice

Developer: Pieces Interactive
Publisher: Tecmo
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2010
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: For want of a jump button, the rhythm platformer was lost.

0:00 If there are two genres I love above all others, they are rhythm games and platform games. Since Fret Nice supposedly melds these two genres, my expectations are quite high.

0:01 Catchy, robo-techno music plays as a misshapen hand cranks up an amp. "The vibrant Chordmasters rock the world" say the newspaper headline. But a guy with a mustache and a black hat doesn't seem to like their music. He sends bulbous black monsters (that look stolen straight from Loco Roco) from the Heavy Metal Kingdom to cause havoc in town. Cool-looking teens cower in fear, but then two little kids -- who I assume are The Chordmasters -- come blasting in from the sky. They pose in a streetlight and push away the darkness. I already love the music, even though I can't make out a single roboticized lyric. It's like a mix of Freezepop and the best of Japanese pop.

0:03 You can play this game with an Xbox 360 controller? Really? That seems to kind of miss the point...

0:04 On the options screen, I'm told guitar tilt sensitivity is "not supported by your current guitar model." Who knew?

0:05 Normal is "The way the game is supposed to be experienced." Hard is locked anyway. I skip the intro once I realize its the same one that played when I loaded up the game.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

Developers: Namco, Tri-Crescendo
Publisher: Xseed
Release Date: March 16, 2010
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: One part Japanese philosophy, one part looking for stuff with a flashlight, one part super-simple combat, five parts cut scenes.

0:00 About the only things I know about this game are: 1) the publishers were nice enough to send me a copy and 2) it has a completely awesome title. Either of those alone would be enough to get it an hour of play on Games for Lunch.

0:01 I seriously can't remember the last new Wii game I played that didn't require the Nunchuk. This one is no exception.

0:02 A white-haired anime girl lies on the watery ground. Pan up to a purple haired anime boy with lots of belts on his shirt. Elegant piano music plays over the title screen.

0:03 Part of me wants to choose the Japanese voice actors, because they're almost always better. Part of me wants the English ones just to laugh at how bad I'm sure they'll be.

0:04 Falling through a watery void. A high pitched squeal in the background as the clouds in the sky come into view. "At the very end of a summer that was all too short, the old man I was living with passed away. And even after all the years we spent together I never knew his name. Later that evening, I dug a shallow grave in the front yard of our home and buried him there." The screen fades to black. "At that moment I was truly alone in the world." Creepy!

0:05 Cut to a blocky 3D observatory, with faint moonlight streaming in. "It's so dark I can hardly see," says my character. Me too... I'm tempted to turn up the brightness on the TV. "If I crank open the dome, then I can let in some moonlight."



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just Cause 2

Developers: Avalanche Studios, Eidos
Square Enix
Release Date:
March 23, 2010
Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3
ESRB Rating:
Official Web site

In a nutshell: I suppose it makes sense that chaos is hard to control...

0:00 As I was opening this game, my wife noticed the back of the box promised "'relentless adrenaline-fueled action' -- sounds right up your alley." Not really...

0:01 A bit of loading, a bit of logos, and the title screen. A text crawl along the bottom of the screen welcomes me and urges me to visit the web site for stats, official forums and leaderboards. Oh, and I can become a fan of the game on Facebook. What is this, CNN?

0:02 Selectable difficulties are Casual, Normal, Experienced and Hardcore. I'll choose Normal becuase "I'm no stranger to action games and will gladly take on the Panauan soldiers, as long as we play by the same rules." Uh... yeah.

0:03 The loading screen urges me to "cause chaos in any way possible." They mean in the game, right?

0:04 I'm in the "Republic of Panau, South East Asia" according to the title card. A helicopter flies in over the ocean with soldiers inside. "Here we are, Panau island. Southeast Asia's best kept secret," says the blonde woman. It's not US-friendly anymore, since the Panauan president was assassinated by his son. "He doesn't sound much like a people person," says a Spanish-accented man who I assume is my wise-cracking character. I'm being sent in to take down Sheldon, a guy who taught me "everything I know." Holy god is this cheesy.

0:05 We get hit by anti-aircraft fire and some data cards fall out in to the jungle. The blonde girl also falls, but I grab her by the arm and we continue chatting amiably about how important those data cards are. When a random soldier gets shot and falls out, I go and follow him with a "witty" remark: "Aw hell, I was running out of ammo anyways. Don't wait up."



Metapost: You can't get rid of me that easily!

Hey readers. Didja miss me?

So, as some of you may be aware, Crispy Gamer decided to lay off their entire editorial staff back in January. This, unfortunately left Games for Lunch without a permanent home on the web and me without a job. The past few months have been spent trying to rectify both of those states of affairs, leaving me with precious little time to waste writing up GFLs for free here on blogspot (not that writing GFL is a waste of time... but when that time could be spent more productively writing for pay or hunting for work, it was a hard case to make to myself).

Anyway, I'm happy to say that I've found a new sucker outlet willing to pay me for my stream-of-consciousness ramblings: the good folks at Village Voice Media's Joystick Division. Games for Lunch will now run there every weekday, with excerpts and links posted here, as normal.

Thanks for bearing with me during this latest hiatus and for your continued support.