Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Digital Print

Print may be dying in the gaming world, but that hasn't stopped Gamerzines from publishing several of their own free magazines that mimic the style of a print mag' in an easily digestable PDF format and use professional games writers to boot. Each magazine specializes in one particular area, whether it's PC games, handhelds or the now giant MMO genre. Give them a try if you long for the days of GameFan and EGM and are interested in reading something other than IGN or Gamespot.

I gotta say, though, they have one of the ugliest websites I've seen in recent memory. Looks a lot like one of those spam websites you get when you mistype a URL.


But for Me... It was Tuesday

1up has compiled a list of the greatest moments from the infamous live action Street Fighter movie. If you haven't seen the movie before, then these scenes, which stand out as its best parts, should give you a good indication of how disappointed just about everyone was when it came out. At this point, though, most people remember it fondly for its memorable quotes (mostly delivered intentionally by Raul Julia and unintentionally by Jean Claude Van Damme) and its overall cheesiness.

This was also Raul Julia's final performance, which is either the best or worst way to go out depending on your tastes. He accepted the role of Bison mainly for his son, who was a huge fan of the games at the time.


A Familiar Face in Unknown Territory

Game designer, Masahiro Sakurai, famous for his Super Smash Bros. and Kirby games will be beginning work on an experimental title under a new studio of his called Project Sora. Nothing is known of the game for now except that it came as a special order from the top brass at Nintendo, and it will supposedly be nothing like any of Sakurai's previous works.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Worlds Collide

In one of the more bizarre moves of the past few years, huge RPG zenith, Square Enix, has bought out British game developer/publisher Eidos Interactive. Eidos is best known for their Tomb Raider series as well as several PC ports of Square's popular Final Fantasy series.

This won't be the first time Square works closely with (or in this case owns) a prominent western developer. Back in the late '90s, they put out several titles with the help of Electronic Arts who had become a juggernaut of its own by then.

It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this partnership, assuming Square doesn't just leave Eidos to their own devices.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

...Or Die Trying

Everyone dies at some point or another no matter what game they're playing, so it's only natural that game developers would try to find increasingly more interesting ways to deal with the phenomenon of, well, not living. Over the years, we've seen death animations come a long way from Mario's stilted descent into a pit, and we all have a few that we remember better than most. Gameplayer has compiled a list of their own, which range from comical to gory.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Like Whispers in the Wind

TWG News has put together a list of their top 10 favorite canceled Nintendo games. The list covers everything from canceled big name sequels that many already mourn to more obscure, experimental games that received less or even very little media attention.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fall of a Founding Father

In one of the more striking testaments to the changing times, Nintendo Power, the first print gaming magazine to ever appear has officially been abandoned by Nintendo. It was sold off last year to a 3rd party, and now president, Satoru Iwata has given their rationale for making the sale in a recent interview. Apparently, print is no longer considered the optimal medium for reaching gamers and as such, they're switching most of their focus to their website.

This isn't the first instance of a prominent print gaming mag' going through hard times. EGM, another survivor from the early '90s era of magazines, has also shut down its print division in favor of its online counterpart, In an era of instant information and cost-free news, it's getting harder and harder for magazines to get gamers to shell out the $6 per issue that it takes to help keep advertisers interested. A big scoop can end up scanned on the internet the second the issue comes out, and games you try to introduce to readers can be well established in the gaming psyche by the time it goes to print.

Times are tough for a lot of print publications, but especially so for games and technology magazines with their tech-savvy reader-base and a larger focus on straight news and reviews that are easily provided by bloggers and their ilk, whereas fashion magazines and more general interest publications tend to feature more editorials.


Monday, February 9, 2009

A Broken Record

The US Government-made America's Army game has stormed its way into the Guinness World Record books for a total of 5 new records, including:

- Largest Virtual Army
- Most Downloaded War Video Game
- Most Hours Spent Playing a Free Online Shooter
- Earliest Military Website to Support a Video Game
- Largest Traveling Game Simulator

The game was conceived of as a recruiting tool based on the kinds of realistic training games that they previously used for training troops -- albeit with a lot of tweaks to make it more fun for the average consumer. Released for free, it quickly became one of the most played multiplayer games of that year and still maintains a strong fan base today with numerous sequels having been spawned, some even as retail products.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

5 Reasons to Use a Stick Over a Pad

In preparation for the much-anticipated release of Street Fighter IV, I figured I'd outline some reasons why you should be using a joystick instead of a game pad when you're playing it.

1) Speed

I don't care how fast your thumbs are; you're never gonna be able to do a full 360 degree motion as fast as you can swiveling a joystick. Also makes the dreaded tiger knee motion much easier to do consistently.

2) Multiple button presses

The buttons on most game pads leave a lot to be desired. They're too stiff, and they take too much time to fully compress and register inputs. This isn't so much of a problem when it's just one press, but when you need to press 3 at the same time, it can become a giant pain trying to make sure they all go down at the same time -- especially if your game pad isn't a 6-button one. Good joysticks will have buttons that register instantly with even the slightest compression. Piano/drum, kara and negative-edge techniques are also much easier to do.

3) Partitioning

Ever tried to dash forward while holding down on a pad? Not the easiest thing to do unless you have some kind of alien thumb.

4) Precision

A good Japanese-style stick will only require small circular motions for inputting moves and is much more precise than a pad can be, since there's a larger range of motion available.

5) You'll be ready for the Arcade

Arcades are a dying breed outside of Japan, and most North American tournaments are held on consoles these days, but it's still nice to be able to walk into a game center and actually be able to play properly. It's not like you can lug your pad around with you and hook it up to the machines. It's also handy if you ever get good enough that somebody wants to fly you to Japan to compete.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Joystick Buying 101

There are a lot of joysticks being advertised with all the Street Fighter IV hype around right now, and a lot of people are considering buying for the first time given the renewed interest in the franchise with its leap to the online 3D environment, but most people outside of the fighting game scene don't know too much about how one stick differs from another, so I thought I'd try to make some distinctions.

If you own an Xbox 360 or a PS3, your best options consist of the:

Madcatz FightStick Tournament Edition (FSTE)
Madcatz FightStick Standard Edition (FSSE)
Hori Real Arcade Pro EX (HRAP EX)
Hori Real Arcade Pro 2/3 (HRAP 2/3)
Hori EX2

Anything else is a waste of time for the most part. The FightStick TE is by far the highest end joystick available right now, and it should be for the $150 price point. Most people dismiss it immediately because of this fact alone, but the difference goes far beyond simple cosmetics and a compartment for the controller wire. The stick uses authentic Sanwa Japanese arcade parts that are of the highest quality with some of the best responsiveness around (Sanwa and Seimetsu make up the top two arcade parts manufacturers in Japan). If you're strictly a casual player, this won't make a huge difference, but if you play seriously in any capacity, it can have a huge impact on your consistency and the fluidity of your movement. The buttons also have quick disconnects for easy replacement in case they break down.

The FightStick SE is very different in that it uses stock MadCatz parts that have a reputation for being rather low quality, although it is designed for easy moddability if you have that sort of knowledge.

The HRAP EX features the same high quality joystick as the FSTE, but it has lower quality buttons that, fortunately, can be swapped out, as it also features quick disconnects. The overall build is very similar in quality, and it's about $30 less, so if you don't need your buttons to be absolutely perfect, and you don't mind your stick moving around a little while you play, this is a great alternative.

The HRAP 2 and 3 are similar to the EX, but they're less easily modded and generally inferior in every way besides pricing.

The EX2 is the cheapest of all these options at $50, but it's notorious for having its buttons die suddenly 3-6 months after purchase, and the stick itself is not made up of official sanwa parts.

Anything else is really not worth a mention. These are all Japanese-style sticks, so if you prefer an American-style one with the bat top and the ocatogonal gate, you'll probably have to either mod one of these sticks or look for a custom stick maker to make you one. American-style sticks are out of fashion for being generally stiffer and less precise and, but for those who are used to them, change can be an unpleasant prospect.

EDIT: The first batch of FSTEs has been reported to have a lot of defects with people receiving joysticks that had non-functional diagonals or buttons or badly scratched frames. It may be wise to hold off on ordering one until this mess gets cleared up a bit. If you absolutely can't wait and don't want to take the chance, grab the HRAP EX instead.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Invisible Helping Hand

As kids, we all tended to romanticize the video game industry. Nintendo wasn't a business to us, they bringers of all things good and fun. Fast forward a decade, and we're all more or less pass that kind of naive idealism, but every now and then we play or hear about something
that almost makes us believe again.

In a recent GoNintendo podcast, a reader shared his story of a fire that devastated his game collection and a routine call to Nintendo's customer service line that ended with some charity very unbecoming of a large corporation. Check out the full story here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

From the Ashes

Some of you might know Ensemble Studios from their work on the Age of Empires series, while others know them as the developers for the upcoming Halo Wars strategy game. What you might not know is that they're officially being closed by Microsoft this week.

In his blog, studio co-founder, Bruce Shelley says that at least some of the company staff will be banding together to create a new development studio with, presumably, a similar focus on good games and a good work environment.

In the meantime, the Halo Wars game will, apparently, be handed over to another studio, which is somewhat worrying. I don't doubt the capability of this new studio, since Halo is probably Microsoft's premiere gaming franchise, but handing one man's work over to another is always an iffy prospect.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Characters Designing Characters

Games Radar has put out a list of the top 30 craziest game industry quotes ever recorded. It covers everything from the worst of PR talk and executive excuses to the bizarre and vaguely philosophical.