Archive for the ‘review’ Category

The Big Fat Bloated 3rd Birthday Audio Review + Now With Video!

April 13, 2011

My brothers and I got together last weekend to talk about something that’s been on our minds: The 3rd Birthday, the Parasite Eve series and what Square has been up to in general lately.

It was our first night together since Christmastime, so we were excited as hell to talk about this, and well, we started recording around 10 at night and we stopped around 2 in the morning.

So. We talk a lot! About a lot of things!

We cover the game with a fine-tooth comb from beginning to end, with plenty of (non-boring) tangents related to many other games (Resident Evil, Mass Effect, Illusion of Gaia, etc.) and ideas (sci-fi and art, etc.).

I was worried it’d be a rambling mess, but it’s kind of organic and coherent! Give it a listen why don’t you!

It’s in MP3 format, split apart into four segments (remaining two coming in the next few days) for palatable listening.

Part One.
Some Parasite Eve 1 talk and a lot about 3rd Birthday‘s premise and setting.

Spoiler Level: Low

Part Two.
All the gameplay and the entire plot up to the ending dissected.

Spoiler Level: HUUUGE

Part Three.
The entire ending under the microscope.

Spoiler Level: Monumental, and not just for The 3rd Birthday. PE1, PE2 and even Chrono Cross get spoiled.

Part Four.
Final thoughts, a lot of talk about recent and past (and future) Square games.

Spoiler Level: Minimal.

Hit the jump for “BEST OF…” video clips.

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The 3rd Birthday – Late-Term Abortion

April 5, 2011

Aya's sick

First Samus Aran, now Aya Brea. In Parasite Eve and Parasite Eve 2, the former NYPD detective kicked monsters up the Bronx and down the Battery with her mitochondrial super powers and customizable weaponry. Now, in The 3rd Birthday she’s kept locked in a prison cell and only let out to get her clothes ripped off.

How the mighty have fallen.

The same could be said for developer Square, which disappointed the entire damn world Internet for their recent Final Fantasy games, not to mention the Final Fantasy games stuck in development hell and Final Fantasy games with goofy titles. Square and I had our run-ins in the past (I like Final Fantasy VII just fine, by the way, did that not come across?), and I’ve defended them many times before (Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light is a damn good time), but that gets difficult when something like The 3rd Birthday comes along.

Announced way back in 2007 for Japanese cell phones, it made the leap to PSP in 2008 before landing with a thud here in the present. That’s an awful long time, longer when you consider Parasite Eve 2 came out in the year 2000. So, it’s been a decade. And this is what we get.

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TRON: Legacy – Despite Some Hang-ups, I GOT IN

December 17, 2010

Wow, been a while since I talked about a movie. Good thing it’s a movie about video games.

The original Tron was a slow, plodding sort of Star Wars rip-off with a few interesting concepts and a light performance from Jeff Bridges. Though it lacked in entertainment value, it provided the first foray into cyberspace on film, something that the sci-fi and cyberpunk subgenre would build upon for 27 odd years since. The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell and, if anyone remembers them, cartoons Reboot and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest all used variations of the Grid, designs that relied on neon and skintight leather, and rogue hackers who changed the system and fought soulless corporations and/or machines. Tron helped pave the way for all that. It showed that past the monitor there’s a whole other universe inside the computer. Alice in Wonderland for the digital age — “a digital frontier.”

It was also among the first movies to portray video games in a positive, interesting way. Bridges’ character, Kevin Flynn, was an arcade hero who used his video game prowess to survive the disc and cycle games in the gladiatorial world of The Grid. And games have come a long, long way since Flynn’s Arcade. They’re the most innovative, lucrative entertainment medium there is today, and everyone plays them from Angry Birds to Plants vs. Zombies, to titles like Heavy Rain and Call of Duty that arguably push and blur the boundaries of what a game could be, making billions of dollars in the process.

Movies have responded in kind. Inception, Speed Racer, Avatar, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — not to mention those unmentionables based on actual video game franchises — all emulate the kinetic imagery, rhythms and instant gratification video games provide, and most prominently, Tron‘s pioneering use of CG. Today, CG is so common that special effects are hardly special anymore. In a strange turnabout, practical effects like puppetry, prosthetics and — gasp — actual sets are novel once more.

So, with the history lesson out of the way, and a TRON: Legacy review to get into I have to reveal something first.

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Sonic Colors – Don’t Hate That Hedgehog

November 15, 2010

Where's Antoine?

Sonic Colors takes a few cues from the Super Mario Galaxy games, which isn’t a bad idea — it’s a great one! Interplanetary travel, colorful aliens in need of rescue, helpful transformations for the hero and lovely orchestrated music… If Mario’s formula works for the Blue Blur to make a good game again then Sonic should ape the plumber on a more consistent basis as Sonic Colors is the hedgehog’s  best packaged video game in years (or months if you count the downloadable Sonic 4).

A hybrid of classic 2D Sonic platforming and the 3D business he’s been up to lately, Sonic Colors succeeds in each respect. The on-rails zoom-through-the-scenery parts thrill, while the jump-from-floating-square-to-floating-square parts challenge. Later levels “challenged” me enough to crush the Wiimote in my hands, though some of that frustration could be attributed to getting used to the game’s wonky jumping.

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Persona 3 Portable – Third Time’s the Charm

November 8, 2010

It’s almost the end of the year. Time to clean house. Here’s an outdated review I meant to get out there way earlier. Whoopsie!

BABYBABYBABYBABYBABY

Is it possible to be nostalgic for 2008? There was Speed Racer, the first Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, and a fresh-faced JRPG all the kids raved about called Persona 3: FES. It was good, but there was one thing that irked me about it: That the game wasn’t available on a portable system. It would have been a perfect fit for Sony’s PSP.

Then, as if reading my mind, or more likely following industry trends (JRPGs such as Ys Seven, 4 Heroes of Light and Etrian Odyssey III wouldn’t survive on consoles), Atlus announced Persona 3 Portable for the PSP the following year. Initially, I was a tad miffed– I clocked over 70 hours in my FES file! — but consternation turned to excitement. With a portable version handy I could potentially finish the game while I’m out and about, and not depend on sitting in front of a TV for hours on end. Plus, Atlus promised a lot of new content and features special to the portable version, allowing for a slightly new experience. And Atlus delivered.

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Comic Jumper – And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad

October 21, 2010

WHOOOOAAAOAAAOAAAAOAAAAAA

One of the best things about this current generation of video games is the ability to download games directly to a console via XBLA, PSN or Wii, and consequently this is the first real time independent games have gained mainstream recognition. Braid, Cave Story, VVVVVV, Charles Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, La Mulana — just a few of the good, sometimes brilliant, unique games we got thanks to convenient online connectivity and the larger indie scene as a result.

…And then there’s the Comic Jumper!

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One – A New Hope

October 18, 2010

SONIC'S A TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

All weekend, all over the Internet, I’ve read complaints of Sonic’s physics. I had no idea what “Sonic’s physics” meant, and while playing Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode One I hardly saw what the big deal was. I figured it was just the endless whining and trolling of your typical Internet mob, combined with the victimized bawling of the Sonic fan crowd. Do these fans even know what they want anymore? Then, the more I played, and the more frustrated I got, it occurred to me.

Something’s wrong with Sonic’s physics.

Well, maybe not wrong. They’re different. Having replayed the entire original series earlier in the year, I should’ve noticed it earlier. Maybe I was so caught up in the whole “OH MY GOD SONIC IS BACK, BABY” fervor of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 I failed to notice a tiny thing like his … his physics. I mean, when was the last time anyone even mentioned video game physics since Half-Life 2?

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