Posted by Ben at 06:26
See that up there ^ where it's got the date and then some ill thought out pun. it should say "Game Complete". You see aside from Dear Esther, which I didn't think merited it, I put that whenever I complete a game.

I haven't completed Assassin's Creed 2, do you know why, because it's fucking endless. I can't really go in to details without spoiling something, but you get what looks like an end game, only to lose it and have to free an entire city, and I assume many more things.

Don't get me wrong, I still like Assassin's Creed II, but sometimes less is more
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Posted by Ben at 05:56
I'll be honest this isn't a story I was expecting to read today. Andiasang are reporting that Nintendo are looking to bring back some 3rd party titles to pad out the 3DS' line up, and heading the list is Sega's weird-em-up Seaman

It turns out that Seaman was quite popular in Japan, and it's certainly a title that gets people talking. If you never played it, and given that it had a fairly limited run in the US and no presence in Europe at all why would you have.

You have a fish tank, in that fish tank is some sort of squid, you drop some eggs in there, they hatch and are eaten by the squid, the squid dies and Seamans (is that the plural?) burst out. I'll leave some of the later evolutionary surprises for if this ever gets released, but the short of it is that you interacted with it via a microphone and flicking it in the face.

Got to say though I had a great time with Seaman back in the day, it was just so weird. The speech recognition could have been better but then I'm English and the game was set up from America. He was a nasty little shit though, that was until he died from eating a spider.

Hopefully this not only happens, but also sees a worldwide release (download maybe?), and we get a few more surprises too (Panzer Dragoon Saga please! Oh and NiGHTS)
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Posted by Ben at 05:37
I've not posted about Assassin's Creed II for a couple of days, but rest assured I've been plugging away at it.

I forget what I last posted about but I've spent a chunk of time getting all the assassin's emblems and now have the special armour (I'll keep it vague but it's hardly the biggest spoiler). I've also got all the codex which apparently gives you access to "all your memories", not sure what that means really, a 2nd ending perhaps, or bonus missions on the map?

Either way I'm in to the final section of the game now, and while I've thoroughly enjoyed Assassin's Creed 2, it isn't half long for a platformer. It fights a better battle against tedium than the first game, and I guess if you ignored things like the towers that give you a better view of the city, and didn't bother with the assassin's tombs then you'd be quicker, but at the same time I've barely touched the bonus assassin missions, races, punching peoples cheating husbands, and I have a grand total of 20 feathers.

Again I don't want to spoil who I'm off to kill, but to labour the length point, I'm not even heading straight there. I have to go and meet someone in another city first, I assume do some stuff there (go and find all my guards etc) then it'll be off to the place where there's still uncovered map. Uncovered map suggest it wont simply be, sneak in to the blokes fancy house and kill him, it'll be at least 5 missions before that. Oh well, it should still be finished today (20th Feb, sorry to shatter the illusion, I didn't write this last night)
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Posted by Ben at 20:39
I had a friend round tonight, I'm not bragging or anything it's just relevant to what I'm going to talk about. Firstly, although we played it last, it's a game I mentioned when I first started the Progress Report feature; King of Fighters 13

I've not played a KOF game properly in a while, and my friend isn't exactly big on fighting games, but there was still clearly a difference (83% in my favour, not that I was keeping track), some of the fights were quite close, and we pretty much played as every unlocked character between us, never repeating. King of Fighters XIII is good, the boss is frustrating, and the commands are now altered to be different from just the standard Street Fighter ones, a good touch to give the game back some identity, but not as accessible.

The best fights were of course when it was close and either both of us knew a few moves or neither of us did. Oh and for all the praise the updated sprites have had, it's actually the backgrounds that steal the show, they're superb. The London one is funny, the Art of Fighting alleyway beautifully drawn, but the India stage might be my favourite.

My friend and I spent most of the night playing through the Raid mode on the 3DS Resident Evil Revelations. Raid is basically a rush mode through chunks of the game, between rounds you can equip weapon enhancements and may even be rewarded with new weapons, but it's essentially shooting core enemies that might be in some way altered e.g. a giant variant on the standard boat monsters, of a tiny super fast one. You might get ammo for killing something, or if not there's usually some around. We played up to level 7 before the game wouldn't let my friend play more because he hadn't hit a story point, it was fairly easy but it was easy to imagine how the game could suddenly bite back.

It ran really well too, still looked great and was nice and smooth except for a halt as it was going to spawn some new monsters. It's a good mode, better as it gets slightly tougher and you each have to deal with your own enemy. There's not much fun to be had when you're both killing an enemy that cant even get close to one of you.

One of the problems that did come across, and I understand why it happens, is the doors. If my friend opened a door and walked through, I had to wait for it to close again before I could go through. I assume it's because the rooms only load properly once you're in, so just because your friend has loaded it doesn't mean your 3DS has loaded it.
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Posted by Mark at 10:38
..as this video by Warialasky that's been going around the interwebs proves.

Relive the frustration of trying to get Natalya to do bloody anything without getting her killed, all with much more realistic graphics, but still with the same stilted, Nintendo 64-grade animation!

Show/hide video

And if that's not enough IRL-GoldenEye action for you, then why not give GoldenApple a go, from way back in 2008.
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Posted by Ben at 08:35
If you like your Japanese games then this is very good news for your chances of playing them.

From April this year Sega will take over world wide distribution rights for Atlus games. Now it's important to remember that distribution isn't the same as publishing, so it's not like we're guaranteed to get every game, but hopefully it removes a barrier

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Posted by Ben at 20:04

Dear Esther is going to be a difficult game to review, firstly it’s a hard game to effectively describe, phrases like ‘interactive poem’ or ‘narrative adventure’ are meaningless. To put it bluntly, you’re walking a linear path through an empty world, a sparse segment of a Scottish Far Cry with all the enemies long since perished.

Secondly, like Braid and Limbo, giving too much information will ruin your game, but then look at the above paragraph, what is there to sell Dear Esther to you? It’s made especially difficult because unlike the two aforementioned games, there’s no gameplay to speak of. You could play through Limbo, enjoy it, and not even pick up on the narrative until the end, and even then not care and still love it. Thirdly, unlike The Passage, which is equally thematic and lacking in what you’d regard as ‘proper’ gameplay, Dear Esther costs you money, £7 to be exact. It feels slightly dirty to attribute a monetary value to what is clearly a piece of art, but in a review it’s something you have to give thought to, especially as the game is no more than 2 hours long.

Enough of what you can’t do in Dear Esther, what you can do is explore, in fact that’s pretty much all you can do. You start the game to a narration, the beginnings of a tale of death and guilt, with a run down house to your right, naturally you enter, study the books and paraphernalia scattered around, and wonder what button it is to interact and whether your even meant to. You give up and leave the house, set out on one of the paths, either high or low, and which you choose effects what you hear and see. There might be a reference to a beach, there might be a cave and a reference to a hermit. All of it means something.

And that’s the essence of why Dear Esther works, it drip feeds you information, at first meaningless ramblings, but it soon dawns on you that what you’ve been hearing are jigsaw pieces, and it’s only towards the end of the game that you get the corner pieces. It’s a rare and peculiar feeling to have realisation wash over you, rarer still that a game will keep feeding it, leaving you opened mouthed at every new reference you uncover. It is then that Dear Esther becomes compulsive and exhilarating, and a game that will stay with you for a while.

I can’t believe I’ve left it until the end to mention the graphics and sound! In most games they’re something you check off. You use words like “functional” and only write more than a few lines if there’s something particularly novel or broken about them. The graphics in Dear Esther are nothing short of staggering, the foliage is so dense, the environment diverse. While some item textures can be typically flat for a Source Engine game, and some of the buildings have an overly grainy look to them, the lighting more than makes up for it. The cave section is astonishing, the use of blue tones, the reflections in the water, it’s so impressive, and I‘m happy to declare that chapter the most beautiful thing I have seen in a game.

The score too, sparse and rarely used, there isn’t a single piece of music in the game that is anything less than affecting. It helps build the atmosphere, as you open the final chapter, the graphics, the music, and the narration all pull together to keep you absolutely captivated for the 2nd half of the game.

Dear Esther is not for everyone, if you aren’t interested in the Poe-esque narration then the pretty sights aren’t really enough to justify the cost, especially as there’s nothing else on the table. The game is also incredibly short, I clocked 100 minutes with a lot of exploring. However a 2nd play-though does offer some reward, I’ll leave you to browse various forums for more details once you’ve completed the story.

Regardless of the score below, I can honestly say that Dear Esther is probably the most affected I have ever been by a game, it pulls together better than Braid and Limbo, and has a stronger and deeper narrative than Flower, Passage and Lucidity. The short answer as to whether Dear Esther is for you, it made me write this review with the first few paragraphs as my head up my arse, if you understand that compulsion you’ll get something from it.
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Posted by Mark at 20:08
If you want to have a nosey at TMView, a Europe-wide trademark information resourse, you'll notices that Capcom had a go at trademarking "Darkstalkers" this very Valentine's Day.

We know series head Yoshinori Ono wants to see another title in the series, but it remains to be seen if his desire is enough to see it happen.
The application remains "under examination" still, with the European trademark office, so don't get your hopes up for anything just yet.

That being said, as Eurogamer points out, last time this sort of thing happened, it was for PSP title Darkstalkers Chronicle.
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Posted by Ben at 17:46
I was toying with doing a review of Dear Esther so I don't want to say too much, but then there's maybe not enough to the game to write two pieces about it... but I did take some screen caps that I could use as a header

If you don't know what Dear Esther is, and there's no reason you should really, it's an expansion on a half-life 2 mod that uses the Source engine to tremendous effect. The game looks great, in screen it looks nice, but in motion with the lighting changes and wind effects it really is a beautiful game.

It's an interactive story, drip feeding you details and largely leaving you you piece it all together. It plays a lot like that too, there's only one way to go, but there's a few different paths to take to get there, with places to explore along the way. I don't want to get you too excited though, we're talking about a crapped out barn or a view of the beach rather than anything more involved.

To be clear, and I think I will write a review tomorrow, Dear Esther is incredibly understated, it works because the score, the graphics, and the narrative structure all come together, but it's not going to be for everyone, and while I'll probably word it more diplomatically tomorrow, it feels a bit of a rip at £7 for an hour and a half
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Posted by Ben at 18:51
I've not updated for a while, partly because I've not played consistently and partly because I wanted something worth updating. And to that point Assassin's Creed 2, which I've put a fair few hours in to, I'm in Venice, in fact I've done a fair few good deeds in Venice. It's hard to say how much I've got left there, I appear to have opened up a 2nd area to the city, with one area I still cant access. I'm trying to get to an assassin's tomb that's in this new area, I can't quite work out how to get in to it, especially difficult as it's a hot zone.

I'm still enjoying the game, it's an odd pace in that it's not slow, you're always doing something new, but it's on quite a micro level. The macro level is a huge way off, just in terms of moving on to the next city, but even the medium level (getting to your target) can take a number of hours.

More measurable progress was made in Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen as I made the leap from chapter 2 to chapter 3! YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!

Last time I posted about it I had taken a beating whilst entering a fighting tournament. It turns out if I'd spent my money on better armour, or even just been a bit more careful and less gung-ho in the tournament I might have been able to scrape through (because the big guy I was supposed to fight didn't turn up, and I think I know where he went). I went off to gain a few levels, and overdid it a bit, but it looks like I'll be returning to those characters at some point so hopefully it's stood me in good stead.

The thing I liked about Dragon Quest V was the way it intertwined generations, it's what, a 15 year old game and that still seems like an incredibly fresh idea. In Dragon Quest 4 the 3rd chapter has you playing as an item shop worker, working on commission to fund his own store, which requires a bit of adventuring. So you save your pennies to buy a weapon to start some fights to get armour to sell to buy better armour to go to a dungeon that houses an item that means you dont lose all your money if you are defeated. You play a tubby moustachioed middle-aged man, and as I left it I'd just stumbled on some foxes that turn in to people to trick humans to fall in love with them. Very odd
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