Posts Tagged ‘Sega’

Landing on Saturn – Panzer Dragoon Saga: Forgotten Treasure

January 27, 2011

Panzer Dragoon Saga may not have much cachet with gamers these days (what does, besides Call of Duty? olol), but make no mistake: the name used to be whispered amongst gamers beyond just the hardest of the hardcore. Sega’s last hurrah for their doomed Saturn game console. The bizarre RPG follow-up to a rail-shooting franchise. The pathetically small print run which ultimately led to its infamy. Panzer Dragoon Saga was critically acclaimed when it released, but its legacy afterward became the stuff of myths, due to the fact that it printed only 6,000 copies initially, with the final units shipped at the end of its production run totaling 30,000. Keep in mind that most games these days have to sell through at least more than 100,000 units in order to be considered successful. Panzer Dragoon Saga is something of a holy grail amongst video game collectors, a unicorn. One rarely spots a copy in the wild, and if one does, one must be ready to pay dearly for it.

I never, ever thought I would come across a copy outside of, say, eBay. But one day, I found myself on the end of an offer to sell me the game for a price which, while still quite high, I knew I would never beat. I grimaced, forked over the change, and waited for the copy to arrive in the mail. You readers already know full-well the joyous bounty of the package I received, but the question still remained: Is Panzer Dragoon Saga all it’s cracked up to be?

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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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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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Grumplet – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: vs. Audience Indifference

August 18, 2010

I will be honest. I’ve sort of actively disdained the Scott Pilgrim franchise pretty much ever since I saw the cover to Volume 3 parody the Super Mario Bros. 3 cover. But the recent media blitz promoting the movie (and game!!) has left me practically frothing at the mouth. Look everyone! It’s indie bands and chiptunes and sly 8-bit game references and Beck!!! It has all the stuff you like!

I hate when I realize I’m being pandered to. It’s like it robs me of any enjoyment I could’ve gotten out of the experience without knowing. I don’t think anyone should be pandered to. It doesn’t help that a Scott Pilgrim movie feels about 7 or 8 years too late to feel thematically fresh. The advent of webcomics inundated the Internet with the quasi-wit of Generation Y slackers that grew up on the NES and the Streamline dub of Akira. Hey guys, the sprites from Final Fantasy are talking about Ranma 1/2! Isn’t that just the geekiest?

Scott Pilgrim, penned and illustrated by Brian Lee O’Malley became the poster child for this vein of storytelling. Geek culture-addled Scott Pilgrim has to fight the seven evil exes of too-cool-for-school Ramona Flowers if he wants to date her. These battles take on a video game-like progression of difficulty, complete with the exes exploding into coins, etc. This EPIC TALE proved so irresistible to the Hollywood graphic novel adaptation mill that the film rights were snapped up by Universal and Edgar Wright, keen pop culture satirist, tapped to direct.

I will admit, Edgar Wright was the ONLY reason I saw this movie. The creative force behind Shaun of the Dead and the much-funnier, much-less-seen Hot Fuzz, has proven to me by now that he has an eye for genre bending, humor, and doing justice to the subject matter he simultaneously lampoons. Hot Fuzz was not only a comedy about the ridiculous nature of action movies, it was also one of the best action movies in recent years.

Why am I harshing on Scott Pilgrim: The Franchise?! Because it’s like we have nothing to say to each other. Scott Pilgrim touches on River City Ransom, Ninja Gaiden (the original), Mega Man, A Link to the Past, the NES and SNES and many other things I never owned or played. Yet I’m still a gamer! I grew up with a Genesis! I played Sonic! I think there were two Genesis allusions the whole movie. And as for anime and music? It references Akira in one of the chapter titles, Scott wears a t-shirt with Astro Boy on it and the character’s name is from a song from some indie band I’ve never heard of. He’s like that guy at a party you try to start up a conversation with, and he’s like, “Yeah, I game. Ever heard of Final Fantasy II for the SNES?” “Oh, you mean Final Fantasy IV?” “No, pretty sure it was Final Fantasy II.” Awkward silence. I mean, it’ll resonate for a lot of 20-somethings out there, but it’s awfully specific in its aim.

So you’re probably expecting me to hate the movie. But I didn’t! Why?! Mostly because that pop culture divide is largely irrelevant when it comes to enjoying the movie. Will you get more out of it if you’ve played DDR or beat ’em ups? Sure. But the searing eye candy Edgar Wright coughed up is enough to entertain any movie goer who appreciates fast-paced film making. And this movie is nearly at Baz Luhrman levels of frenzy. Shots are cut at a blistering pace. CG embellishments make the actors look like comic book characters brought to life. Seriously, this is the first movie that seems like it took a few plays out of the Speed Racer handbook of visual vocabulary. (There’s that made-up term again!) And it’s not just visuals that delight. The dialogue is actually clever and delivered with comic timing for a change.

The music is actually pretty well done for the most part, too. Beck actually composes all of the music for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb and the score is composed by alt-rock superproducer Nigel Godrich, who’s worked with stars like Beck and Radiohead on some of their landmark albums. The soundtrack is loaded with indie acts and garage rock riffs, and totally fits the misfit tone of the movie.

It’s just too bad being good didn’t guarantee success. Limping out of the gate with a paltry $10 million when estimates put the movie at around $60 million, Wright’s most expensive movie to date, certainly makes eyebrows raise. Why would a movie that seemed like such a cultural zeitgeist flop so badly? It hasn’t been through lack of marketing that Scott Pilgrim failed, that’s for sure. It’s proooooobably because its target audience isn’t known for paying for anything. Teens and twentysomethings these days get their nostalgia gaming kick not by dusting off the NES or SNES, but by downloading ROMs and emulators. They peer-to-peer share their music collections. Plus they’re a notoriously poor demographic. They probably would rather see a cam rip of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World than fork over the $10 per person to go to the theater and see it legitimately. Then there was the aforementioned rather limited scope of the appeal. Maybe not as many people have fond memories of Clash at Demonhead or listen to chiptune albums as they thought. At any rate, a perfectly entertaining movie suffered because of it. For shame, readers!

E3 Day One: Stranger in a Strange Land

June 25, 2010

DISCLAIMER: Does not actually change anything.

For someone who grew up seeing E3 through the pages of EGM and later through the web pages of IGN you’d think it’d be a dream come true to actually be there at the Candyland of video games. Well, let me tell ya. It was an exhausting, mind numbing experience. Sensory overload the likes of which I’ve rarely seen, felt, smelled, touched or heard. Remember that episode of Batman Beyond where the bad guy goes deaf from the all the sounds of the city piercing his brain all at once and he screams in agony from it all?

Sorry, I got Batman Beyond on the mind since that Splice review. Great show.

But anyway, that was me. For three days! Surrounded by sweating nerds, servile booth babes and sycophantic industry types in a bombed out section of L.A. no one wants to be in, except for this one giant convention. Seriously, otherwise the place is a ghost town, which is a very weird (and scary) place to be in coming from New York friggin’ City.

Not that any of that matters really. E3 is about one thing: games. Lots and lots of games. And I got my grubby hands on all of them. Well, a lot of them. Not all of them. Off the bat I’ll say I missed Zelda: Skyward Sword, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Microsoft’s and Sony’s Wii-too nonsense. So if you’re looking for the umpteenth amount of armchair punditry for those — whoops. This is just one simple chump’s first visit to E3, trying to find something that wasn’t a derivative arm-waving simulator or a FPS about shooting foreigners.

But boy, does that Move controller look like a luminescent dildo or what?

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Bayonetta – Welcome To MY Fantasy Zone~

February 27, 2010

Hideki Kamiya isn’t a name that comes to mind when discussing auteur status (Kind of a theme here this week, er, month?), which sucks since the guy directed Capcom greats like Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry. True, that could be because there’s no meaningful throughline in Kamiya’s work. If there’s any message from him it’s to kick ass in the most beautiful, hyper-stylized fashion possible — or rather, to kick evil’s ass so beautifully it flies 1,000,000,000 miles into space before colliding with a million star-fueled explosions. Video games don’t need to make you cry with flowers, pulhoons and braids and stuff, sometimes they just need to make you feel like an all-powerful warrior, someone tough and flamboyant like Claire Redfield, a flaming wolf goddess, Viewtiful Joe or Dante — y’know. Characters.

Like Bayonetta!

You want to TOUCH me~?

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