Road to a Legend

•September 20, 2009 • 3 Comments

Sorry for the lack of updates folks… it’s been a pretty busy time for me. Anyway, no excuses… let’s talk games.

With the fall season of games fast approaching, talk amongst friends about the upcoming hotness of games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Halo 3: ODST, Assassin’s Creed 2 and other huge AAA releases. My most anticipated of the fall? Brütal Legend.

Ever since playing through Tim Schafer’s acid-laden summer camp trip Psychonauts, I’ve been convinced that games can actually be appreciated not only for their gameplay, graphics & sound etc., but for the quality of their writing and acting. Side note: if you have an Xbox or Xbox 360, play that friggin’ game. It’s on the XBL marketplace now… so there’s no excuse!

I’m a big proponent of taking risks in game development… which I know isn’t a very common or more importantly, lucrative position. But when developers put their neck out there on some crazy idea… magical things could happen. Don’t get me wrong… complete and utter sales tanking, studio closing things could also happen. But on occasion, you get a Mirror’s Edge, or a Way of the Samurai, or a Dead Rising where the developers look into the face of convention and say Fuck that.

Well Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine are practically taking convention and smashing it over the head with Gibson Flying V. Let me try to piece together what I’ve gathered from the media that’s been out there for Brütal Legend. The game follows the story of Eddie Riggs, a roadie for a shitty metal come emo band that through a freak stage accident is transported to an ancient land of heavy metal. Tim Schafer’s best explanation of the world of Brütal Legend is if you’ve seen it on a heavy metal album, it’s probably in the game. Huge mountains of bones, hot rod exhaust pipes that sprout from the ground as natural as trees, legions of cloaked druids and demon nuns… well, you get the idea. So that’s the first step into crazy, the world itself. To add to the craziness, you’ve got a heavy metal star studded cast with the likes of Ozzy, Lemmy of Motorhead, Lita Ford and others. Oh, and the main character is voiced by Jack Black, which is a good thing, or a bad thing, depends on who you are. (for me? it’s a good thing)

The game itself appears to be your standard open world adventure game. Explore, do quests, gain new toys and abilities. In a cool nod to the classic Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you can even summon your hot rod with your guitar. So far… pretty standard fare. But the wizards at Double Fine don’t stop there… they decided to add squad-based RTS elements as you progress through the game. Real-time strategy elements. In an adventure game. In the world of heavy metal. Also, multiplayer. In fact Tim Schafer has said in interviews that the multiplayer aspect of the game was the original concept, and they couldn’t fight the temptation to turn it into a full blown singleplayer experience. If that’s not sticking your neck out there… I don’t know what is.

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough ’bout this. Check some of these vids if my crappy explanation didn’t sufficiently paint the picture. Unfortunately, I will be away on Rocktober 13th when it comes out, doing something extremely un-metal by going to Disneyland. No doubt that when I return… there will have been an explosion of media every which way about the game. Will it live up to the hype? God Satan, I hope so.

Game intro

17 minute walkthrough by Tim Schafer himself

Another 20 minutes. This time with friends!

Sorry ’bout links rather than embeded. WordPress.com suXors. Anybody have a free web server I can squat in? ;p

**Playlist updated

A day to remember

•July 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This past July 11th was a monumental day for good friends Carlo and Naomi. I was lucky and honored to be one of their groomsmen. The boys over at Three Sixty Photography did a fantastic job chronicling the event, and they’ve put together a great little slide show of some of the highlights of the day. Enjoy.

Congrats again guys.

Limited Edition game pack-ins reach a whole new level of WTF

•July 14, 2009 • 1 Comment

So Infinity Ward recently released a video showing the unboxing of much anticipated fall release, Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 2. Just when you thought cat helmets were crossing the line, IW goes and includes night vision goggles with its “Prestige Edition” of the game. Fucking night vision goggles.

Seriously, kids these days are so lucky. In my day, we didn’t have fancy high tech pack-ins with our games. Wait! How could I forget the all time classic… a copy of Killer Cuts that came with my SNES copy of Killer Instinct.

Classic.

Top Fives

•July 13, 2009 • 5 Comments

Given that lists of things are an endless source of blog topics, I’m going to start throwing in random Top Fives here and there. I’ll typically present them in descending order (5 to 1), but other than that… I’m not going to adhere to any specific rules. In fact I’ll probably cheat a bunch with ties and the like. Oh and as always, feel free to leave comments like “How can you have a list about blah and not include blah?!” Or better yet, drop a Top Five of your own.

That being said, my first Top Five is after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Top Fives’

Go play outside

•July 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To prove I’m not a total shut in, here’s a handful of pics from my camping trip with the boys last weekend. Took some time and effort to get there… but once we did, we felt a lot farther from home than we actually were. A lot more bugs this year; we practically had coats of bug spray on us. Overall, good times enjoying a beer (or two) in a quiet spot away from everything. Note to folks with upcoming camping trips this summer… the Heineken mini keg makes a great weekend companion. Pics after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Go play outside’

Henry Hatsworth in the Fury Inducing Adventure

•July 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So I finished Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure for the Nintendo DS a few days ago on the train ride home. I almost shouted out in triumph, but I caught myself when I realized where I was. The lady sitting across from me knitting must have noticed something though, because she gave me the quizzical raised eyebrow. But MAN! This game really made me work for it. It’s a complete wolf in sheep’s clothing. What appears to be a harmless kiddie platformer turns out to be a crazy twitch based action game with a layer of perpetual puzzle elements on top. Think Megaman 2 meets Planet Puzzle League.

courtesy of Giant Bomb

The game basically consists of 2D platforming with 8-bit sensibilities, intermittent kill boxes, and a layer of block matching puzzle gameplay. The platforming is your standard 2D fare… nothing all that new here. A little bit about the kill boxes… they’re basically these zones where the camera locks you in a space and enemies spawn from either side. These short sessions last until you’ve defeated all the enemies the game decides to throw at you. It’s also an opportunity for the game to introduce a new enemy type. Finally, the puzzle element of the game is pretty straightforward; blocks move up the screen and you have to match 3 or more to clear them.

Now, none of these elements on their own are really that great. This is one of those “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” situations.  In fact, the game is at its best when the puzzle and platforming aspects are interacting with each other. For example, in some boss fights, the boss will drop special blocks down into the puzzle area of the game. Even worse, sometimes they’ll enter the puzzle area themselves. This creates a cool back and forth dynamic which is really great for the flow of the game varied and high paced.

Back to the difficulty… this isn’t like New Super Mario Bros. where you’ll end the game with 50+ extra lives. There are so many points in the game that are so difficult, they’ll make you question your gaming chops. I even freaked my girlfriend out a bunch of times while playing in bed with some sudden curse-laden outbursts. The game had some serious anger fueling moments, such as dying from an insta-kill attack from a boss that you had no real chance to prepare for. I can’t say I ever got as mad as this kid though, and despite those moments, I kept coming back until I saw it through to the end, which is saying something. After you beat the game, you’re rewarded with a “new game +” mode that allows you to play through again with all of your previous unlocks intact. However, I don’t really see this as being more than a one time play through. Definitely worth playing, just know what you’re getting yourself into ;p.

4.0/5.0

First!

•June 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

Ok… so maybe starting my blog with a stupid “forum kid” cliché is lame sauce. But I sat here staring at the blinking cursor and couldn’t think of anything better mmkay? Anyway, the purpose of this blog is to keep people posted about stuff that interests me, stuff that’s going on in my life, and other random shit I find cool. In essence, it’ll cover everything e.

Now, people that know me know that I like me some video games. And I mean, LIKE like. I almost enjoy reading industry publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about games as much as I enjoy playing them. Almost. In any case, expect a lot of that kind of stuff. But overall, I’ll try to keep the topics varied, because I know that most don’t share my absolute obsession with moving pixels.

Mmm… I don’t really have any specific format in mind; the drivel will likely just spill out onto the keyboard (hopefully with some semblance of coherency). Feel free to drop a comment into my posts; call me a jackass, tell me to go outside and play, whatever. And I’ll return the favour by doing my darndest to keep this thing updated. My darndest.