Monday
Dec062010

Bullet Heaven Episode S201 - Kolibri (Sega 32X)

It's the season 2 premier, anniversary episode of Bullet Heaven! In this episode of Bullet Heaven, I take a look at the obscure Kolibri for the Sega 32X. I have just five words for you: Humming Birds and Particle Beams. Make sure to stay tuned after the show for a special surprise! BULLET HEAVEN IS BACK!

-Ser

Saturday
Dec042010

Awesome announcement from our friends at Pokemon Podcast!

Our friends at Pokemon Podcast have started to get their merchandise in order, (we're still lagging & we apologize). You can find them on our friend's section & go listen to their podcast as well you can take the chance to visit the best independant site covering Pokemon on the web!

Finally! After months of talking about exclusive Pokémon Shirts, we finally have some made! You can jump over to our very basic store and pre-order one! All Pre-Orders will ship on December 16th. Right before the holidays. So you can get your shirt in time for Christmas (a good gift). Now these shirts are limited to 100... so in other words... once they are gone, they are gone. 

Here is the official description:

The first Official PKMN Podcast Shirt. This is limited to 100. The shirt was inspired by the swirl on Poliwhirl's/Poliwrath's belly. Now you too can have a swirl of awesomeness on your belly.

IMPORTANT: Right now we are taking PRE-ORDERS. Your shirt will ship on Thursday, December 16, 2010. We get full stock on that Wednesday. Be one of the first people to get one!

To take care of this shirt properly, please wash it inside out. Do not put it in the dryer, hang dry preferred. 

These shirts have nothing to do with Nintendo and/or the Pokémon Company. All the design work is custom artwork made by Steve Black Jr. © All Rights Reserved.

Thanks to @LLbrettJ for modeling it!

Thursday
Dec022010

Quarter Circle Forward - Ys: The Oath in Felghana by Ser Flash

 

When it comes to classic RPGs, not too many people these days are familiar with the Ys (Pronounced like 'East', but without the 'T') series, originally created for the Japanese NEC PC-8801 in Japan all the way back in 1987. The series was characterized by its super streamlined Action RPG game play and past-paced action. Ys would later make its way to many other platforms, including the X68000, MSX2, Sega Master System, and Nintendo's Famicom but most prominently, the PC Engine CD. It would subsequently be released in North America and Europe for the TurboGrafx CD.

 

Though it never made a name for itself like say, Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest did, the people who would play the original games in the Ys series often came back for more adventures with Adol the Red. However, unlike its wild popularity in Japan, while Nihon Falcom's flagship title saw critical acclaim overall, it garnered only mediocre sales, likely due to the fact that Nintendo and Sega had most of the market cornered when the TurboGrafx 16 was relevant. As a result, North America would only see one more Ys title before the release of Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable in 2004.

 

While Y's: Book I & II on the TurboGrafx CD were both of the same style (not to mention being on the same disc, back to back) the third game in the series, Ys III: The Wanderers from Ys, was a radical departure from the lot. Released in North America on the TurboGrafx CD, Super NES and the Sega Genesis, Wanderers would nix the classic overhead 'bump-n-slash' mechanic from the first two games, instead opting for a strictly side-scrolling view. Player now also had direct control over swinging Adol's sword and of course, jumping. This meant that instead of pure exploration, Ys III was more of a Platformer. However, it didn't make Ys III and less great. It had a no-nonsense approach to its gameplay and introduced many new characters to the series. It also had great story, decent voice work, excellent music (at least as far as the TurboGrafx version is concerned) and an epic final boss.

  

Because of the radical departure in its game play though, fans of the original games call this game the 'black sheep' of the series, much like Zelda II: The Adventures of Link on the NES. Not only that, but when stacked up against other instalments in the series, fans often call it the worst of the lot.

 

Fast forward to the year 2010. Advances in technology have made it possible to take the console experience with you on the go with the PlayStation Portable. The PSP is home to many quality RPGs, like Final Fantasy, Valkyrie Profile, Breath of Fire and even the acclaimed Lunar. And, in 2004, Ys made a return to form with the excellent Ark of Napishtim, published by Konami. Though the port from PS2 to PSP was botched and marred by horrific loading times, the experience was still one worth having, thanks to engaging characters and challenging gameplay. However, this would not be the last we saw of Ys, past or Present.

 

This year, we have seen two releases in the series from the excellent publisher, XSeed Games; The newest installment in the series made exclusively for the PSP, Ys Seven and a remake that pulls out all the stops; Ys: The Oath in Felghana.

 

Oath is a completely overhauled version of Ys III but at first glance, you'd never notice. Changing views from a side-scrolling to quasi-isometric perspective, Adol now has free range over his movement. There are still devious platforming elements, but the 3D engine adapted from Ark of Napishtim runs brilliantly and makes for a very playable experience. The game's no-nonsense classic hack and slash game play returns as well, but the challenge has been ramped up considerably. Don't think that this game is going to be a walk in the park. Even at a high level, the massive bosses in this game will likely wipe the floor with you like a red-headed mop, often multiple times in a row, before you set out to become stronger yet again. And even then, you'll likely only get past your opposition by the skin of your teeth!

 


 

To make things even more difficult, you can't sock up on curative items in this version of the game. Instead, enemies will drop health pickups, mush like in the Zelda series. There are items which will auto-revive you, but they will be prohibitively expensive until the very end of the game. There's also an item that will recover your HP when you're standing still hidden in the game as well. However, the added charged attacks that you have access to later in the game will allow you to recover your HP when used at a certain point in the game. Until then though, when fighting bosses, the health you start with is the only health you'll have.

 

New to this version is a comprehensive upgrade system, which allows you to power up each piece of weaponry and armour that you find. Using a material called Raval Ore , you can boost your arsenal by two levels, at which pint it reads 'Max'. This is critical in order to make the fastest progress.

 

 

On the presentation side of things, it was really nice to hear the amazing remixed versions of the classic music in the third game again. This soundtrack shines as one of the best I've ever heard, with rocking tunes and throbbing beats throughout. It lends itself the the past-paced nature of the game. The 2-D character sprites and huge 3-D bosses, not to mention the backgrounds as a whole, are richly detailed and pleasing to look at. The character design is top-notch stuff as well, and each person you meet has a colourful personality. Most notably in the game, in stark contrast to even Ys Seven, is a story chock-full of voice overs. Most of them are fantastically delivered too, with only the odd one out sounding hammy or fake. With the addition of so much voicing comes additional story elements and even a few twists from the original title, so fans of the original Ys III will still get a new story in the end!

 

If you're into Action RPGs in specific, you can do a lot worse than Ys: The Oath in Felghana. This game is one that you shouldn't pass up, even if you've played the original game. You can get the standard version for only $29.99, with a deluxe boxed version including a CD Soundtrack and a 2011 art calendar with gorgeous art for $39.99.



Thursday
Dec022010

The Good, The Bad, and The Wacky of Wii Accessories By Robin B.

The holiday shopping season is upon us! Festive advertisements are abundant, full of cheery-faced children playing with the latest toys and adults donning cheesy smiles and warm, fuzzy sweaters. Along with all the holiday hype, there's a slew of gimmicky gaming products on the market beckoning a place on your shopping list. Some are purely laughable but some perhaps have potential. Here's my breakdown of the best, worst, and strangest accessories the Wii has to offer.

Inflatable Car
Price: $39.99 at www.toysrus.com
Rating: Awesome (if I was 10 years younger)


If the Wii Wheel wasn't enough to enlighten the racing game experience, CTA Digital has kicked it up a notch and added some superfluous inflatable fun to the mix. The inflatable go kart promises to bring all the fun of arcade gaming to your home console complete with a comfortable cushy seat, plastic steering wheel to house the Wiimote, and a stylish “sports car design”. It boasts support for up to 300 pounds allowing even the adults to get in on the go kart fun.

Final Verdict: There's no way that even my short stubby legs would fit comfortably in that blow up seat, but it would make a nice gift for a little one with a big imagination.

Wii Zapper
Price: $19.99 (with Link's Crossbow Training) at www.Amazon.com
Rating: The Crossed Arms of Indifference

It's debatable whether a plastic shell can actually amplify the interactivity of a game. But the Wii Zapper is Nintendo's official attempt at enhancing the Wii shooter experience by giving the player that legitimate trigger feeling. Unfortunately, it is mildly awkward to handle and has faced some control issues due to lack of comfortable access to the A button. Overall though, since it is bundled with Link's Crossbow Training, it may be worth the $20 price.

Final Verdict: Using my Wii Zapper to play Goldeneye felt like running around and aiming with an AK-47 strapped my ankle while looking through a periscope. The Zapper is definitely best suited for the on rails shooter experiences of games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.

Slip Proof Wii Gloves
Price: $12.99 at www.Amazon.com
Rating: Intense

Do you ever have trouble keeping a firm grip on your Wiimote? Nope, me neither! But for all those butterfingered gamers out there that are deadly serious about their Wii gaming, the slip proof gloves by CTA Digital are guaranteed to improve remote handling while “providing ultimate comfort” and “allowing ventilation so your hands don't perspire”. As stated on www.ctadigital.com, these gloves are even multipurpose - “they are also great for recreational activities like weight lifting, baseball batting, and anything else that requires a firm and secure grip...” I'll just leave that up to user's interpretation.

Final Verdict: This is the type of thing that this generation's Lucas Barton from The Wizard would have described as: ”I love [my slip proof Wii gloves], they're so bad...”

Babysitting Mama Doll
Price: $49.99 (with game) at www.gamestop.com
Rating: Cutesy (except surgically implanting the Wii remote into the doll's spinal cord)

Obviously geared towards the younger female Wii audience, the Babysitting Mama doll is somewhere between adorable and creepy as hell. But with the pretty respectable Cooking Mama franchise behind it's creation, Babysitting Mama might just be the best out there for that particular audience. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much...

Final Verdict: On the bright side, it sure as hell beats Imagine: Babysitters, Imagine: Party Babyz, and Imagine: Babyz Fashion combined.

uDraw Game Tablet
Price: $69.99 (including uDraw Studio game) - $29.99 for additional games at www.Amazon.com
Rating: Potentially Nifty

I may be getting sucked into the horribly deceiving gimmick black hole, but the idea of a drawing tablet for the Wii actually sounds kind of fun. The THQ uDraw Game Tablet comes bundled with an “expansive drawing, coloring and art-based video game” called uDraw Studio. Several other titles are compatible with the tablet including a Pictionary game and a platformer called Dood's Big Adventure that plays similar to the DS's Drawn to Life. The price may be slightly steep, but with supposed planned future support for this peripheral, it may be worth the investment.

Final Verdict: If somebody doesn't hop on this and make a Mario Paint sequel, it will be a terrible shame.

Nintendo Wii Deluxe Gaming Ottoman
Price: $139.99 at www.Kohls.com
Rating: Elegant

And finally, after you've purchased all of your gaming peripherals, you'll need a snazzy place to store them! The Nintendo Wii Deluxe Gaming Ottoman can store up to 44 games, 4 Wii Remotes and nunchucks, and even your balance board. What better way to conceal your gaming gear than in “deep espresso” leather.

Final Verdict: It may set you back a good hundred bucks, but it nicely conceals the evidence so visitors will never know that you fancy playing Wii Fit in your underpants. Classy.

Wednesday
Dec012010

The Future of Digital Platforms By Sean B.

Consumers are currently being introduced to a new concept known as "Cloud Gaming", and with OnLive at the current pinnacle of this exciting new mountain of opportunities, it's going to change how we all play games. Every title will be digital, the access service will be free, the controller will be sleek while presenting itself to be familiar, and finally the console itself will be -- almost literally up in the clouds? Really, what's the point of calling it "Cloud Gaming" if it's not literally true in any way? Though the Xbox is no longer shaped like an "X", it's still a box. You "play" on the PlayStation, which also happens to be a "station" for your games, movies and music. By now you probably get the picture, so enough of this nonsensical babbling.

 


With the OnLive "micro console" package for 99 dollars you'll wind up with the following -- OnLive's primary connection unit, controller and miscellaneous cords, including HDMI cables. OnLive works by plugging the small, cookie sized device (pictured above) into your TV or personal computer. Games are then played, saved and received via OnLive servers from the continental United States. Unfortunately users outside of the States may encounter latency issues, resulting in less than desirable (if not unplayable) gaming experiences. The prices are nothing to be too thrilled about either, according to this screenshot from 1up. For example, It'll cost you at least $4.99 to simply rent Arkham Asylum -- a digital version I might add -- with no strings attached for three days. For just $6.99 you can increase that amount of time for two days, or even buy the whole damn game for $39.99, which is no different than brick and mortar retailing. That's right, 40 dollars will allow you to purchase a temporary right for "instantly" playing a digital copy on a console you don't even own. Who cares, for the same price one could either go on a miniature adventure to buy it from a store or wait in anticipation for a new package. I don't know about you, but I personally love waiting for packages, unless they're late or missing (damn FED-UPS). Hell, for $39.99 you could even hug it every night for the rest of your life, but to pay the same price for a digital copy on some potentially volatile server? Most seasoned gamers probably won't see the appeal.



But will the service really be so dreadful? Folks with speedy internet connections located in ideal regions will be able to experience fast, efficient gaming at their fingertips with numerous titles, any time of day for what's supposed to be a relatively efficient renting cost. Fears and concerns of hardware failure and the "Red Ring of Death" will be a thing of the past, so long as you know the OnLive servers will continue to function properly. Many will love obtaining their favorite titles in a seemingly easy to access library, with (hopefully) hundreds of other titles to choose from. We may also see the end of those lengthy download patches and updates game companies have become so fond of. Regardless, we'll still probably run into server shutdown times or maintenance periods. This means even if you didn't wish to game directly online, but instead desired to relax with a solitary single player campaign -- tough shit. The servers need to update for X hours until Y o'clock, meaning every "console" and function goes entirely offline. Perhaps they'll find ways to fragment their maintenance in order to prevent game disruption, but sadly most major updates require precise debugging and complete shutdowns to guarantee proper installation (like weekly maintenance periods seen on MMO's). I don't know about you, but I'd sure as hell be ticked knowing there were set hours where I couldn't even game with myself, let alone vent my rage on an online FPS. Of course this is assuming we're in the year 2555, and true retro gaming is an impossible concept when all other services are down. We're lucky to still have multiple options at this time, but future generations of gamers may not be so blessed if we continue on this path of digital domination.

Really though, how much will we sacrifice until there's nothing left? Classic moments of shopping will be fed to the digital gods, as going to the store for physical media will suddenly seem like a chore to some. I for one prefer fuzzy memories of being able to go on small adventures, seeking out titles that may even be harder to find, as do many other gamers I've spoken to. The convenience will definitely improve with digital services, especially since we'd bypass such problems as Microsoft's infamous RRoD, but at what cost? OnLive is a great opportunity for those looking to test, play and rent games with convenience, but for those of us who prefer to own and hold what we legitimately purchase -- these are some rather dark and murky waters we're diving into. A wise (and absolutely correct) man once said, "you get what you pay for", so buyer beware. Just because the price looks good on paper doesn't always mean you're getting the better bargain at the end of the day.

Thursday
Nov252010

Games Club 2: Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Hey everyone, Press Pause Radio is only two strong this week but that's because we're joined by Fellow podcast & new friends Tom & Matt of Sega Addicts. This week as we've mentioned we're taking the opportunity to talk about our impressions & play through on Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 along with the meaning of "Settling" also we take the opportunity to talk about we want out of the premise of Dreamcast & Saturn games for Xbox live arcade while finding ways to talk about Segagaga, Mcdonald's Treasureland Hunt, & Nights: Journey of Dreams, Forgive Georgie Boy for being sicker than a dead baby & reply back to the forums, presspauseradio@gmail.com, or call our voicemail at 2095660190 & we want to thank Sega Addicts again for guesting with us, please take the opportunity to check out the best independently ran Sega fan/news/podcast website on the web! stay tuned next week guys as We'll be talking about Social Networking & video games!

PPR Games Club Sonic

Tuesday
Nov232010

choosing to Play & Playing to choose By Robin

I have a lot of thoughts about moral consequence systems in video games, I really do. I filled entire pages with web diagrams of how I feel moral choices impact a game's story, immersion, and personalization. I contemplated how designers use it to impact everything from the game environment to a character's wardrobe. But I think I finally realized after all of that - it isn't some defined effect on a gameplay mechanic that creates a truly successful moral system in a video game. It is most memorable when a game presents you with a situation that you can honestly relate to your life, and it becomes more than “how will this affect my good/evil stat”. It becomes a legitimate contemplation of “what would I really do in this situation,” and the best answer isn't obvious. 

Unleash potential evil on entire galaxy for good morality points?

    The problem is most moral systems thus far have been obsessed with tracking ethical purity on a linear scale. Good versus evil, paragon versus renegade, shiny blue glow versus shiny red glow – every choice is defined on a set “+10 asshole” or “+10 angel” points. Unfortunately, this often degrades the choices in the game to a mere tacked on character stat, and it becomes simply more advantageous to  consistently respond to people as a careless murderer or a squeaky clean savior. And honestly, there aren't many dimensions to these linear types of questions. The choice whether to harvest the lives of little girls for your own benefit or offer them a brighter future is pretty straightforward.

Are my angel wings a bit too much? I just wanted people to know I'm a good person!

    Some games are beginning to transcend the blunt morality fault, though. Despite Fable's continuously cliché demonic versus angelic character development, I can honestly say Fable III presented me with situations that left me yelling at my television screen, heart torn in opposite directions at my options. The third instillation in the Fable series seems to have finally gotten it right. It's moral choice system is very emotionally compelling because it manages to embody the feeling that whatever you choose, there will be consequences.

“Life in the Castle: Choose who must die.”

    For example, Fable III smacks you with one monster of a moral decision within the first few cutscenes. Your brother, the King of Albion, forces you to choose between the life of your close friend or the lives of a group of protestors. This type of question goes beyond a virtual setting. It's essentially a question of what you, as an individual, really value. Neither option is in any way ideal, but the game forces you to weigh logic and emotion to make the decision that you believe is best.

    In addition to some incredibly emotionally compelling decisions, Fable III consistently holds the notion that doing what is “right” isn't always the easiest. The latest release in the Fallout series, Fallout New Vegas, uses a faction system to rate the player's karma. Like real life, different groups of people react to your decisions in different ways based on their perceptions. And despite it's reliance on stereotypical benevolent blue and evil red meters, the Mass Effect series has provided some intense situations that make you wonder the impact of your judgment. Since all of the decisions you make in the first two Mass Effect games will carry over to the conclusion of the story in the third, I predict Mass Effect 3 will really display the weight of all of your previous choices.

    I think we've really only scratched the surface of the game experiences that could be created with moral systems. The gaming industry is continuously evolving to offer gamers engaging stories, unique environments, and new ways to play. I see moral choice systems continuing to evolve with those goals. Granted, despite all the story-telling possibility, life contemplating immersion, and future gaming implication – it's really damn fun to just be evil sometimes.

Monday
Nov222010

PPR 32

You have been given a choice; listen to the newest episode of Press Pause Radio or ignore it. We really really hope you choose to listen. Please? On this week's episode we will be discussing moral choices in video games, and the popularity of such games as Fallout and Fable. With so many western developed games utilizing choice as a option in the role playing experience, will we see this trend continue in other genres? The group will discuss this as well as updates to the Xbox 360 dashboard and George's Kinect impressions. Serraxor will also be reviewing Ys: The Oath in Felghana for the Playstation Portable, and proudly informing the listeners of becoming the best in the world in Raiden Fighters Jet Score Attack!

Thanks to everyone for listening to the show and providing feedback on the forums as well as our social networking sites. Don't forget to review us on iTunes or Zune before December 4 for your chance to win our massive Zom-Blowout contest with over fifteen games!

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PPR Episode 32