Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse from last week’s Amazon Japan debacle, Micah says the words “Animal Crossing toys.” I think we need to shut off our internet. It’s the only way we can be safe from all the amazing things Japan has to offer. Anyway, during the podcast we talk about some games; like Medieval Moves for example. We also hit what news we could scrape together for the week including the lastest from 38 Studios and an unhealthy amount of rumors and patents. Great job, Jeremy!
Starring – Tony, Shannon, Micah, Shelby
Run time – 1:16:06
If you have something to tell us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to answer it. If you like small messages, you can follow us on Twitter or if you like 15 minute videos you can subscribe to our YouTube channel. We have a forum you can talk on and a Facebook group that does about the same thing. Don’t forget to check out season two of The Question Block. You still have time to win some cool stuff this week.
We have a great interview right here, folks. This time Tony and I have a chat with RedLynx community manager, Daniel Nixon. We had an absolute blast recording this one so I’m sure y’all will enjoy listening to it. We ask Daniel about the development and community for MotoHeroz, what we can expect from the upcoming Trials Evolution and its achievements and we also ask about RedLynx’s future with the Wii U and 3DS. Then at some point, Daniel and I turn on Tony and put him in his place. Serves him right. That Tony guy acts like he can do whatever he wants just because he hosts the show.
If you want to become a part of the RedLynx community, you can follow them on Twitter (@RedLynxGamer) or join their Facebook group right here. You can keep an eye on all RedLynx has to announce by reading their blog (written by Daniel himself) and don’t forget to head over to their forums and discuss all the ways you think Altaïr could ride a motorcycle. Thanks again to Daniel for taking the time to talk with us.
Starring – Tony, Daniel, Shelby
Run time – 30:09
As always if you want more hijinx from us, you can listen to our weekly podcast. We also have a forum, Twitter account, Facebook group and a YouTube channel. All thanks to the internet. Thank you, internet.
After the achievement of Dead Space, I was curious to see where Visceral was going to take the franchise. Isaac Clark had escaped the Ishimura but may or may not have been eaten by his zombie girlfriend. After his silence in the first game, Isaac was now granted the power of speech. Since you can’t have Dead Space without hideous monsters it seems obvious the Necromorphs would once again be roaming the shadows. With the release of a couple animated features and some smaller games of varying quality I was concerned Dead Space 2 would not live up to the expectations I had for it. Then I played the game.
What You Need To Know
As previously stated, Isaac Clark is back but he didn’t get the hero’s welcome he deserved. Instead, he was committed to an insane asylum after his escape ship was discovered three years earlier prior to the start of DS2. Being the universe of Dead Space you know things have to go bad. The game begins with Isaac awakening to his worst nightmare, Nicole (his late girlfriend) haunting him about her death. Isaac fights the illusion, telling himself she isn’t real but his guilt seems to powerful for his will to overcome. After struggling with these visions, a heavily medicated Isaac is awoken rather quickly by a man claiming to be rescuing him. Before anything can be explained, Necromorphs have slaying your fallen savior and are now bearing down on you. Isaac once again has to escape the horrific monsters while trying to discover what has happened during the last three years. The problem is, everybody says they want to help him but he has no idea who he can trust. The controls have been altered slightly, adding options for your waypoint system and improved controls for zero gravity. Unfortunately you may have to fight some muscle memory with the reassigning of the face buttons. All of the classic guns return with the addition of a few new toys. The developers also added a multiplayer, versus mode to add to your fun after you complete the campaign. Read more…
I used to be a big baby when it came to playing survival horror games. By that I mean I didn’t play them because I was too scared. Thankfully I have gotten over that and can enjoy the genre for the very reason I used to avoid it. I’m not sure why but for some reason it is fun to be scared. I guess it probably taps into some psychological principal or something. I’m no psychologists, I’m just a dude. I have been aware of Dead Space since it was first announced years ago. I told Will about it since he is a bigger Resident Evil fan than myself. That Halloween, I watched him play several hours of the game. I actually started playing it for myself a few months after that but stopped at the four hour mark. Now, years later, I finally put the game in my 360 and played it from start to finish. Review time is now.
What You Need To Know
As you probably already know if you read the previous paragraph, Dead Space is a survival horror game. The gameplay is a balance between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. There are moments of action but not so much that you lose the sense of being isolated and scared. You play as Isaac Clark, an engineer sent to repair the Planet Cracker class spaceship Ishimura. Communication had been lost with the Ishimura shortly after it started mining a desolate planet of its resources. As the story has to go because it’s a video game, Clark and his team nearly die as they crash into the Ishimura due to a malfunction of their own. Soon after crashing, Clark and the others learn the ship has been taken over by disfigured monsters called Necromorphs. These creatures are able to reanimate dead tissue, basically creating space zombies out of the former Ishimura crew. Isaac is most concerned about his girlfriend, Nicole, as she is a crew member of the Ishimura. You job is to help Isaac fight the Necromorphs, find Nicole and escape the Ishimura alive. And trust me, there are monsters around every corner.
The developers did a great job of creating a spooky atmosphere; a task that even eludes some Hollywood directors. Isaac is surrounded by a cold metal spaceship filled with darkness. This setting allows them to make you feel alone with the opportunity for monsters to come from any direction. If we are allowing Wuhu Island as a character Read more…
Zen Studios has been pumping out tables for Pinball FX2 like mad. If you think about it, they have been doing episodic content better than Telltale lately. Their latest release is a second set of Marvel themed pinball tables. This time around they give some love to Thor, Ghost Rider, X-Men and Moon Knight (heck yeah Moon Knight!). If you played the first four pack of Marvel pinball tables (Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Blade) or if you have played the single release tables for Captain America or the Fantastic Four, you might think you know what to expect. Well not so fast there, Captain Jumpy, because these are the most elaborate tables Zen Studios has ever made for Pinball FX2. I’ll give you a quick rundown of each table and then you can go try them for yourselves. Can I get a booyah for free trials?
As I said, these tables are far more elaborate than anything else in Pinball FX2 and you will notice that the second you load the Thor table as it is filled with lights and comic artwork. The Thor table is pretty much a set of ramps with four different flippers to hit them with. Since it’s mostly ramps, you won’t spend the first part of every game hitting bumpers and activating switches. Instead, all you have to do it hit the gate to Asgard three times to open it, then a fourth time to travel to the home of Odin; an easy shot to hit. From there you can start missions where you battle Loki, the Destroyer Armor and Ymir. These missions ask you to hit ramps before times runs out. I didn’t find much else to do besides that. The plus side is once you learn how to hit each ramp you can race to a high score very quickly. The down side, hitting ramps over and over can get a little old. I get the feeling this table is the first of the pack they made since it has only one sound effect for the flippers. Overall it’s a good table for high scores but not so much for variety.
Just like Jason Todd. HAHA But seriously, folks. I haven’t played Arkham City yet. Heck, I haven’t played Arkham Asylum. And I have the nerve to call myself a Batman fan. Once I finally do get around to controlling The Bat, I plan on doing in on my PS3. I imagine there are several 360 players who wish they made that same decision. Apparently, save files for the Xbox version of Arkham City have the pesky habit of breaking. Warner Brothers has openly admitted there is a problem and they are asking for help. They want anyone that has experienced a save file problem to answer a few questions and send the response to support@wbgames. The questions are as follows:
1. What version of the Xbox 360 hardware are you are experiencing the “disappearing save files” issue on? What storage method are you using to save your Batman: Arkham City game files to (i.e. Xbox 360 hard drive, Xbox 360 memory unit, USB drive)?
2. What version of the Xbox 360 system software do you have on your machine?
3. Are you running a beta version of the forthcoming Xbox 360 “Holiday 2011” system update? Read more…
Extra Life is over and that means it time for me to redo the wires behind my TV. I always dread doing this but it seems like I have to do it at least once a year. Just after I started unhooking systems, I figured I would document the process for y’all to see. I shot all this with my iPhone so the quality isn’t great and it’s a little shaky but hopefully y’all enjoy it. These videos are about 11 minutes long each so be prepared for me to babble a little bit. Without Tony around to keep me on task I get distracted pretty easily. Part two is after the jump.
I am really getting sick of Xbox Live. Not the playing games online part, that works pretty well. The part that is ticking me off is all the crud that Microsoft puts between me and my games; ads, countdown clocks, videos, beef jerky commercials, etc. Can someone explain to me why I have to see this stuff? I understand the Xbox Live model is very similar to that of a magazine. You pay for a subscription to get the content you want and the magazine makes extra money shoving ads and junk on the extra pages. My problem is that I bought the system because I want to play games and every time I turn on my system I have to sort through ads to get there.
I imagine, like me, everyone is constantly annoyed by the 360 booting up to the Spotlight row of the Dashboard instead of My Xbox. I realize they are trying to make us see the ads, even is just for a split second but I try to ignore them. Mostly out of spite. Now there is a way to mostly avoid these things by setting my system to boot to the game in the disk drive. At that point I could hit the guide button and get to where I need to go. It isn’t the most efficient option but I could avoid most of the ads that way. What I won’t be able to avoid are the structural annoyances within the Dashboard. For example, when I go to the My Games section, the first screen I come to is Recent Games. Almost every time, the game I want is not in that list and I have to go to an All Games list. Why isn’t All Games the first option? Anyway, when I do find the game I want I select it and then I am brought to another menu that prompts me to play or delete the game. Why did that have to be another menu? Why couldn’t selecting the game have started it?
It’s this menu heavy structure that makes me avoid using the Dashboard as much as possible. I miss the original Blades structure. There were four top menus (marketplace, games, media and settings) and everything had to be sorted underneath that. Maybe it wasn’t the best system but it worked rather well. Regardless, Microsoft decided they were going to make things better. They rolled out the “New Xbox Experience” and somehow it had more menus than the Blades. I thought it was supposed to make things faster and easier to navigate but instead it added an average of two to three more button presses to get what I wanted. On top of that it seemed to respond slower as well. Now they have rolled out this new “New” update to add Kinect support and nothing more. I suppose I was foolish to think they would streamline the menu structure.
Here is a novel idea, Microsoft. How about you make the Dashboard customizable, you know, like all your other operating systems are. Let us hide and skip menus we don’t want to see. Let us make favorites lists for game and features we use often. This will allow us to access the content we want faster. You could even track how people structure there custom Dashboards. This will give you valuable feedback on how people use your service. Maybe you could then structure your next Dashboard in a way that tailors to more of your audience. I bet you could even use the data to expose users to more relevant ads in the places they frequent.
Another thing that really grinds my gears is this Family Gold Plan I keep hearing about; four Xbox Live Gold subscriptions for $100 USD. What a great deal for all those families that just bought 360s because of Kinect. What did all of us loyal Xbox Live subscribers get? A price increase! How does it make any sense that a brand new user gets a lower price than someone who has been supporting the service for years? Shouldn’t things get cheaper the longer you support it? You know, to reward you for being such a loyal, paying customer. Unfortunately, this model once again mirrors any other subscription service. I really hate how they justify the price increase too. They claim that it is due to inflation and the extra services they have added like Netflix, Last FM and ESPN 3. Well I can’t fight inflation so they get a pass there but I don’t use Netflix, Last FM or ESPN 3. Nor do I have any interest in these services. Microsoft doesn’t even host the servers for Netflix and you are required to have a separate subscription to Netflix. How does that add cost to my Live subscription again?
Hey, Microsoft. Here is another novel idea. How about you add tiers to the Gold subscription model? Maybe turn the Gold level into a Platinum that retains all its features and price. Then create a new Gold level that only costs $30 a year and will only allow for playing games online and the other basic stuff that you don’t get with a Silver membership. Once again, this will allow your customers to tailor a more comfortable experience for themselves. Maybe you could even offer options to add Last FM and stuff if desired. However, we know Microsoft will never do such a thing because they wouldn’t make as much money. They are a business after all. Ultimately, I will probably have to cancel my Live subscription next time it’s due because I can’t afford it anymore. If only there were systems where I could play online for free…
Haunted House for the 2600 is an iconic game. The pair of eyes you control make the game instantly recognizable. Like many others, while playing the game as a child I had no idea what was going on. Now I know to collect the three pieces of the urn scattered around the four floors of the mansion before leaving the house. When I heard the game was being remade, I was afraid it was just going to be a cheap cash in for the Halloween season. I happy to report such is not the case and that I had fun playing the game.
This game takes place 29 years after the events of first game. For those of you keeping track, it has been 29 years since the first game was released. Samuel Silverspring, the hero of the 2600 version, has been missing for all these years. After receiving a mysterious message Jacob and Silvia Silvierspring, Samuel’s grandchildren, head to the Grave’s Mansion from first game to discovered the reason behind their grandpa’s disappearance. You control your character by using the left joystick. A is used to activate/deactivate your light source, B is used to switch your equipped item and X is for interacting with objects. You can only carry two different kinds of light sources at a time and each item has its strengths and weaknesses. You explore the mansion one floor at a time to find light sources, keys, treasure, coins and journal entries. Some hidden areas of the mansion can only be accessed while using a particular light source. Throughout your exploration you are avoiding ghosts and other spooky creatures. These monsters can damage you, temporally freeze you in fear or extinguish your light source. You can only damage them with bright lights and otherwise have to avoid them. Your health is conveyed by an icon of your character at the bottom left of the screen. The more frightened it appears, the closer you are to dying. When you die, you will respawn at the last fireplace you used. The fireplaces also will restore your health while you stand in their warm glow. If you want to play with a friend the game lets you do so with a full co-op mode.
As I mentioned before, you will collect find several different collectables while playing the game. These can all be viewed in the trophy area of the game. Each item has a short description that more often than not references another movie or game. I found references to Indian Jones, Lord Of The Rings and Clue (both the movie and the game). Each reference is executed in a clever fashion that made me smile. Haunted House contains a lot of original writing as well. The journal entries you find tell three different stories about how the mansion fell into the state it’s currently in. I found these to be very engaging making me want to find as many entries as I could. The only bad part is I had to stop playing in order to read them from the pause menu.
Faithful To The Original
There isn’t much material to pull from, but what little is there this new Haunted House thrives on. The game play is essentially an updated version of the 2600 game and you control a pair of eyes for a large part of the game. The stories for those old 2600 games were never more than a paragraph, but everything that was mentioned in that old story is alive and well here. You are exploring a mansion, looking for pieces of an urn while battling the ghost of Zachary Graves. I am glad to see they worked in as much fan service as possible since the majority of the players will be fans of the original.
Control Lag And Visual Hiccups
The enemies in the game can be kind of annoying sometimes. Part of this is by design of how weak you are in comparison. The rest of it is due to a bizarre lag in the controls. Several times I would try to quickly switch light items to fight looming danger only for my button press to be ignored. I could never figure out if the character animations were to blame or if there is just a split second cool down time between your actions. Either way, it was frustrating. Also, several times while playing the screen would freeze for a split second before playing one of the spooky sound effects. Each time it happed any sort of atmosphere the game had worked up was shattered.
I Broke The Game
Since some areas require a specific light source to enter, I managed to inhibit myself from completing a level by leaving the lantern I needed behind the door it opens. The game is designed to keep this from happening by giving you drops of the item you need. The idea is that when you exhaust your lantern you can retrieve a new one. However, the game would only allow for one of those special lanterns to exist at a time. Since I couldn’t pick up the lantern I needed, I had to restart the level. Later on I almost had the same thing happen again but managed to prevent it. This small loophole could happen to anyone quite easily.
I had fun playing Haunted House. Several times it was apparent why more game don’t make you run around in total darkness. However, without that game play mechanic, I don’t think you could make a faithful sequel to the classic 2600 game. This game won’t make you afraid to turn off the lights but is does a good job of recreating the spooky atmosphere of a Scooby-Doo episode. The addition of co-op is a nice touch and the game plays smoothly for the most part. With only 16 different levels and four boss fights there isn’t a ton of replay value unless you want to find all the items (even me as the Metroid veteran missed one journal entry and one treasure). Haunted House is fun and if you can find it for the right price, you will have a good time despite Halloween being over.
Final score: 3/5
Total play time: 4 hours
Play through the entire story on normal difficulty
Unlocked half of the achievements
Review copy provided by Atari
In the latest episode of the Nintendo Okie Podcast we talked about, among the myriad of things, video game controllers and we discussed which we thought was the consensus best controller of all time. That came down, almost unanimously as the GameCube controller, though there was some debate about which GameCube controller was best. For that discussion you’ll just have to listen to the show. Today though I wanted to talk a bit about what my personal favorite controllers of all time have been. These don’t cover strictly Nintendo as there were other great innovations in game controllers. I’ve played nearly every system at one time or another in my life and there have been a number of really good controllers created. Keep in mind these are my personal favorite controllers of all time and not, in any way, a definitive list.
5. The Sega Genesis 6 Button Controller
I’ll fully admit that during the SNES vs. Genesis era that I fell into the Super Nintendo camp. People thought Sega was crazy when they put out a controller that doubled the number of buttons that they had on their current controller. There was no way there would ever be a need for six face buttons, right? Well, apparently that wasn’t the case. The six buttons allowed for more complex control schemes that lead to the controllers we have today. Games like Street Fighter II felt more like they did in the arcade, because the buttons were laid out on the controller in a similar way.
4. The Xbox 360 Controller
It’s hard to believe that the current generation was the first to make wireless controllers a standard feature with a home console. Sure there had been wireless controllers in the past, but they weren’t as reliable as the technology we currently have. The 360 controller also improved on the terrible design of the original Xbox behemoth that required a master contortionist to use properly. This controller seems like it was designed with first person shooters in mind and you can really tell when playing those games that it’s the perfect companion or competitor to a mouse and keyboard for those controls. The only thing, for me, that took any getting used to was the backwards layout of the face buttons when compared to Nintendo’s controllers.
3. The Super Nintendo Controller
Why do we need buttons on the top of the controller? That’s just crazy. Or is it? The Super Nintendo controller effectively tripled the number of buttons that players had used previously on the NES and we thought games controlled perfectly back then. This new way to control games brought about a revolution, that when combined with the Genesis controller brought about the new technology we currently employ. The difference in the curve of the face buttons made it easy to recognize where your hands were and the placement of the shoulder buttons fit perfectly for where you index fingers were anyway it just made sense to use that area of a controller for additional inputs. That design was so good that Nintendo mimicked it with the design of the Classic Controller to create a device that can control any system that’s been released to date. I guess Nintendo did know what they were thinking when they brought about this massive change with the Super Nintendo.
2. The Atari 2600 Controller
Talk about perfection in the simple. The Atari 2600 was a great system when it was released and it’s still a great system now. The ease of use made gaming accessible to a number of people and it began with the joystick. The 2600 controller brought the arcade experience home with a joystick that you held in your hands. The one button input meant you didn’t need to learn complex move sets. It’s a design that Nintendo looked to when creating the Wii Remote and it brings classic gaming to a new generation. Sometimes simple is better.
1. The Wavebird
Nintendo hit a homerun with the creation of the GameCube controller. The big green A button announced that it was the action button and since it would be used most often was prominently placed under your right thumb. The B, X, and Y buttons common to Nintendo controllers were placed in positions around that button that made them easy to reach. The shoulder buttons were curved just enough to fit perfectly under your index fingers and the handles on the bottom were just the right size to fit comfortably in your closed fists. With the invention of the Wavebird Nintendo began the wireless Revolution, but the controller wasn’t the standard for the system. The weight of the controller was perfect even with the bulky battery compartment in the middle of the controller. The wireless capability meant you could sit comfortably anywhere in your gaming area and weren’t hampered by wires that would get in the way. This controller is so perfect that it’s a shame we had to move on. A wireless version of the classic controller based on this design would be a great addition to the Wii system.
There you have it, just a quick look at the controllers that I liked the best. What controllers are out there that you feel should be on this list? Are there any I missed, or are there any wacky controllers you’d like to talk about? Leave us a comment and let us know, or hit up the forums and discuss your thoughts there.