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Friday, October 20, 2017

Super Mario Odyssey's Jump Up, Super Star! Available on iTunes Japan


Without a doubt one of the best things about this game (among many, I'm sure) is the super dance worthy, catch theme Jump Up, Super Star! When Nintendo exposed us all to that baby at this year's E3, we could not get enough of that jam. I'm surprised YouTube's replay button still works after I listened to that song over and over again. Well, the song is now up on iTunes Japanese store for 250 yen. That is roughly $2.20 in US dollars. If you know how to purchase music on iTunes Japanese store, you can get the song here. Hopefully the song will be available for purchase on digital stores outside of Japan.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can We Talk About Pre-Order Culture?

I kind of feel like I'm sticking my hand into the lion's den with this one. It has become the bane of existence for many a gamer. The funny thing is, pre-ordering video games wasn't always in the sad, pathetic state that it wallows in today.

Once upon a time, pre-ordering was simply a means to make sure you got a game you wanted on day one. Sometimes you'd even get some cool physical stuff to take home with you for dropping some pre-order bones. Do you remember a game by the name of Viewtiful Joe? It was one of the Capcom Five that was to be exclusive to the GameCube (we all know how that business turned out) , released in 2003. Greatly looking forward to the game, I deiced to pre-order it and for doing so, I was given a Joe bobblehead. I could have gotten a Viewitiful Joe bobble, but the store was all out of those. Nevertheless, Joe is something that is still in my possesion, sitting atop one of my gaming shelves alongside a copious amount of other gaming memorabilia.

2003 also saw the release of Soul Calibur II. This was another game I pre-ordered (the GCN version because Link!) and to my surprise, when I picked up my copy, I was given an art book filled with the various weapons found in the game. Do they even give away art books with pre-orders anymore? They really should.

Getting something you can hold in your hand for pre-ordering a game is rare today, but you can still get something physical. My pre-orders of Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy and Metroid: Samus Returns netted me an Aku Aku and Samus keychain respectively. Aku Aku currently hands on the wall, protecting my desk and laptop. These things aren't anything huge, but they are something and I really do appreciate that you occasionally get a little something extra for a pre-order. More importantly, that something extra isn't something that is needed to enhance my enjoyment of a game, or rather, it isn't part of the game that I wouldn't have access to.

For many, many publishers, pre-orders are used as a means to push "bonus" content on consumers. This "bonus" content is usually in the form of character skins, missions, you know, stuff that you could have and should have been able to unlock in the game by playing. They call it "bonus" content, but in truth, it is content that was purposely withheld from the player. Unless you fork over some pre-order dough, you ain't getting the whole nine yards. It is sooooo important that publishers get your money when a game releases, that they've turned pre-ordering into one of the most despised things about modern gaming. You reward for pre-ordering is a chunk of the game given back to you.

Ubisoft revealed that the "bonus" content for the upcoming Assassin's Creed Origins is locked out to anyone that doesn't pre-order the game. They were quite blunt about it, too.


As much as this may come cross as a giant middle finger to fans, at least it is honest. Honesty, however brutal, coming from freaking Ubisoft of all companies.

Now, I could just be one of those guys that says "It doesn't affect me because I don't play Assassin's Creed," but I'd be at fault for doing so. This affects anyone that plays video games because the very same methods are being used on other games. Sonic Forces, a game I'm really looking forward to, has pre-order bonus content in the form of custom character outfits. This stuff should be in the dang game, but nope, its only for pre-ordering customers. Everyone gets the Shadow DLC regardless of whether they pre-order Sonic Forces or not so why do we have to pre-order for for more customization wear?

The cost of game development may have risen but not every game needs to have an over inflated budget. Cuphead manages to sell over 1 million copies in the first two weeks of it's release without any of the pre-order BS that is associated with many other games. Yes, the game costs $20, chump change for a game today, but Cuphead had some very high production values. Those hand drawn visuals didn't come cheap. At the same time, Cuphead serves as a reminder that your game can make bank without trying to force the player into pre-order shenanigans. StudioDHMR Entertainment put out a high quality product and people bought it. No locked out content required.

If you can wait to buy the latest chapter in the Assassin's Creed series, you should do so. Game of the Year Editions always come with all the DLC and what not and Origins will more than likely have a release down the road with everything packed in as it should have been from the get go. But humans are impatient by nature so I already know there are a host of people that just gotta have Origins when it drops. For every Cuphead that releases, there will be 10 plus Assassin's Creed Origins and gamers will just assume the position every single time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Begging for Switch Ports is Stupid

It has come to my attention that some game publishers think we should beg for games to be ported to the Switch. By "some game publishers" I mean Bandai Namco. The very notion that gamers should have to port beg for Switch titles is absurd.

Bandai Namco encouraging gamers to plead to on social media for Project CARS 2 to receive a Switch port is downright laughable, especially after the crap they pulled with the original Project CARS on the Wii U. For those that are unaware, the first Project CARS was going to be on the Wii U and owners of that platform even threw money towards the game to make it happen on Nintendo's previous home console. When all was said and done, Bandai Namco cancelled the game, saying it was too much for the Wii U to handle. Bandai Namco also said that Project CARS 2 would not be on the Switch. This was before the system came out and started making a killing.

Now all of a sudden Bandai Namco wants us to do some free advertising for Project CARS 2. If we bombard the developers of the game, maybe the publisher will consider releasing it for the Switch. No, you are not reading that wrong. The publisher, as in the ones that can easily release the dang game on the Switch, want us, US to hound Slightly Mad Studios for a Switch Port of Project CARS 2. 



This whole situation reminds me of Dragon Ball Fighter Z. I cannot wait to play this game and it can run on the Switch no problem. The only thing stopping it from coming to the Switch is Bandai Namco. If Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does well on the Switch, they might consider bringing DBFZ to Nintendo's console/handheld hybrid. Yes, even after the Switch has sold like crazy, we've still got publishers testing the waters. 

The Wii U could have used a good racing sim, but this this is the Switch we're talking about, a system that mind you, hasn't even finished out it's first year, is hardly starved for games. Between the physical releases and the stuff on the eShop as of this writing, there's a plethora of titles to choose from on the Switch. Switch owners aren't gonna die if Project CARS 2 never sees the light of day on the console.

Bethesda is bringing Wolfenstein and Doom, freaking Doom to the Switch. They see that the Switch is a money maker and they want some of that dough. The best part about those games coming to the Switch, aside from it making other third parties look inept, is that gamers didn't have to beg for them. That Switch money talks and Bethesda clearly likes the language it speaks. I'm not sure what Bandai Namco is on but I'm not begging for a Project CARS 2 port and you shouldn't either. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Zoned


As I was working on one of my Favorite Tunes post, I came across this album. The cover made it look like a soundtrack that came straight out of the 1980s. Naturally, my interest was peaked, so I took a look. Man, am I ever glad I did.

Zoned is a Sonic the Hedgehog based arranged album. If you like funk then you're in for a major treat because this album is heavily rooted in it along with electronica of the '80s variety. As a big lover of that era, I certainly approve of the direction of this album, but then, this is the usual style of Opus Science Collective (OSC), the ones behind this bad boy. This is the first I've heard of these guys and while I'm really late to the party on this one (it was released in December of 2016), I'll be keeping an eye on future projects from them.

The music featured on Zoned covers the Classic era of Sonic games. Of course, Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3 get love, but I gotta give OSC major credit for paying tribute to Sonic's 8-bit games. Sonic Chaos, and the 8-bit versions of Sonic 1 and 2 get arrangements on this album. Sonic Chaos' Turquoise Hill Zone even leads the charge at being track number 2. Throughout the album are bits from various interviews sprinkled in from the people such as Masato Nakamura. It doesn't interfear with the music as much as you might think and it lends itself well to the type of music.

Zoned is a name your price download so you can throw some money at them or get it for free. If you're unsure about downloading this one, as always you can listen to each track on Bandcamp before going through with a download. This one is worth taking up a tiny portion of space on your computer, though, so just download it already.

Zoned

Friday, October 6, 2017

Re-Releases You Should Play Part 4

Hoo boy, I did not mean for this series to be MIA for over a year, but looking at the date of the last post, and that's exactly what happened. Anyway, welcome (back) to Re-Releases You Should Play. In this fourth installment, we've got Mega Man, an SNK shooter that is not to be missed and freaking robot ninjas!

Aero Fighters 2 (ARC)


The NEO-GEO was a killer home console, powerful enough to deliver arcade perfect versions of coin-op SNK games. Unfortunately, the cost of the system ($650) and the games (usually $200) meant that very few people could actually afford it. Getting your hands on SNK games these days won't break the bank and that's a very good thing because they've made some outstanding titles. While the Samurai Showdowns and Fatal Furys may be the ones that pop into your mind first, Aero Fighters 2 is certainly one to pay attention to.

Known as Sonic Wings 2 in Japan, Aero Fighters 2 is an old-school shoot 'em up that isn't quite bullet hell, but there are times when there are a moderate amount of bullets on the screen to make you sweat. There are a total of 10 stages, more than most shooters (even for 1994), but the levels are pretty short so they never overstay their welcome. While not revolutionary by any means, Aero Fighters 2 gets tons of replay points by offering you a whopping eight playable characters to choose from, each with their own abilities. Robo Keaton is a beast when it comes to rapid firing, Hi-En has an aircraft that comes equipped with guided missiles, Mao-Mao is the speediest of the bunch, you get the idea. The cast of characters is also quite the diverse bunch. We've got ninjas, cyborgs, dolphins and apparently, even babies can pilot a fighter jet. They all have something to say after clearing a stage, giving them a bit of personality.

Aero Fighters 2 is good, retro SHMUP fun that isn't too frustrating. Hamster has brought it to the Arcade Archives line so you can play both the English and Japanese version of the game, Sonic Wings 2. Being an ACA title, you can also adjust the difficult settings, input scan lines and all the perks that come with ACA games. It makes for an excellent Switch title.

Available On: PS4, NS

Undertale (PC)


By now, pretty much everyone on the planet has heard of this game. It is a game that is popular to hate due to the toxic community, but you shouldn't let that deter you from playing it. Undertale is filled with loads of lovable characters, innovative combat and a story that you'll ponder long after you've completed it. You can kill every opponent you encounter or not harm a soul, leading to different endings. The soundtrack is a mix of modern music and chiptunes with a main theme that is arranged so often in different ways that you'll never tire of it. After being on PC for two years, Undertale finally got a console release.

Available On: PS4

Mega Man 9 (Wii, PS4, 360)


When Mega Man 9 was originally announced in 2008, it was no small thing. At this time, there had not been a brand new classic Mega Man adventure since 1997's Mega Man 8. The game was returning to it's 8-bit NES roots, which delighted fans that were turned off by the differences Mega Man 7 and 8's visuals style brought about. Mega Man plays the same as any other Classic title in the main line series. There are 8 Robot Masters to battle, you can go to them in any order you wish and after you emerge victorious, you get their weapon. This game actually has some of the most useful weapons of the entire Classic series. Black Hole sucks up enemies, Tornado Blow elevates Mega Man and blows enemies off screen and Laser Trident is a pretty damaging weapon, even capable of going through the shields of those pesky Sniper Joes.

While Mega Man 9 is pretty awesome for the most part, it isn't without it's faults. Sure, Mega Man games have always been designed to be tough, but this game really lays it on thick, a title too thick. There is an over reliance on spikes for difficulty and by "over reliance," I mean they are everywhere. Some enemies can come out of nowhere, catching you off guard, resulting in some cheap deaths. Mega Man 9 also wears it's love for Mega Man 2 on it's chest. Jingles are ripped straight from Mega Man 2 and the remove of the Slide and Charge Shot was done to make the game more in line with the second entry. This makes Mega Man 9 feel like it's trying to be another Mega Man 2, rather than it's own thing. But even though it might be trying to be another game, Mega Man 9 is still more than worth your time. After nearly a decade, Mega Man 9 was finally given a physical release in the form of the Mega Man Legacy Collection 2.

Available  On: PS4, XBO, PC

The Ninja Warriors (ARC)



The story goes that Mulk is sick and tired of the President's less than idealistic rule of the world. To combat this, he builds two robots, Ninja and Kunoichi and sends them out to eliminate the President. Mulk's approach may seem like overkill but the President is being a real jerk, what with issuing nation wide Martial Law and letting the military run wild. Dude pretty much has that well deserved shanking comin'. Besides, I'm not gonna turn down the chance to play as a pair of badawesome ninjas and robot ninjas, no less!

Other beat 'em ups occasionally let you arm yourself from time to time. In The Ninja Warriors, you always carry a weapon on you, kunai, meaning you always get to cut someone and there are no shortage of fools to slice and dice. For long range attacks, you have a limited amount of ninja stars. Unlike a lot of other games in the genre, you don't have eight way movement. Instead, you can only move left and right. This may seem a bit limiting but you do get some more attack and defense options. You can crouch for low attacks both with the kunai and shuriken. You can also block, a features most beat 'em ups don't even give you and this is essential for certain enemy types.

While pretty much all of the mooks head straight for you, which may lead you to get cozy in your attack style, but after a while, they get a bit smarter and change their approach. More often than not, you'll attack the dogs by crouching. Do this too often and they'll start leading their attacks by jumping. Do standard high attacks too much and soldiers will attack by crouching. Try to block everything they throw at you and the game will start sending out Kite Man wannabes, forcing you to get on the offensive.

The Ninja Warriors can be very repetitive, even by beat 'em up standards, but it is still an aboslute thrill to play. For 1987, the sprites look really dang good and it feels great to dish out cyborg ninja justice on the world's oppressors. There's nothing quite like the feeling of your kunai connecting with an enemy soldier, ending his pitiful existence. Hamster delivers some of the best arcade versions of old games, making the Arcade Archives versions of The Ninja Warriors the best one available. Move over Sega CD version, you've been replaced.

Available On: PS4

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Favorite Tunes #199: Back in Action

Oh, wow. This is number 199 on Favorite Tunes. Next up will be another milestone for this (usually) weekly feature. OK, so FT may not be that huge of a deal, but I love video game music and talking a little bit about some of my favorites each week is always something I enjoy. This week's selection comes from Ristar, Metroid, The Ninja Warriors among other darlings.

Surface of SR388 - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)


If you're one that isn't buying Samus Returns because you want to stick it to Nintendo for getting AM2R taken down, please, uncross your arms and buy this game. It looks, feels, plays and sounds like a Metroid game. To turn your nose up at this game after clamoring for more Metroid games would be a huge disservice to one of 2017's best titles. On top of arrangements of themes from Super Metroid, what little music there was in Metroid II has been completely redone and it sounds so dang good.

Ending 1: Star Humming - Ristar (GEN)


Among the many characters that SEGA fans would love to see get another game but never will is Ristar. This 1995 gem that was created by Sonic Team is among the best looking and sounding game's on SEGA's 16-bit baby. Among Ristar's composers were Naofumi Hataya a d Masafumi Ogata, of Sonic CD fame. As one might expect, Ristar's soundtrack is funky, catchy and very bouncy as a result.

Main Menu - Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 (DS)


Next year's upcoming Dragon Ball Fighter Z will hardly be Arc Systems first time with Goku and company. While Fighter Z is more geared towards creating a lightning paced three on three fighter, 2005's Supersonic Warriors 2 aimed to replicate the look and feel of fights from DBZ. It succeeded and then some. Fights were fast, you could zip about the stages in free flight and there were tons upon tons of energy based attacks. The music was also pretty sweet. Starting up the game and getting this theme always assaulted my brain's pleasure centers.

Are You Lady? (Stage 2) - The Ninja Warriors (ARC)


The most famous track from The Ninja Warriors is Daddy Mulk, a jam so famous, even those that haven't played the game have probably been exposed to it. Even beyond that super memorable tune, The Ninja Warriors soundtrack is outstanding. I wouldn't expect anything less from ZUNTATA. The Ninja Warriors was recently re-released under the Arcade Archives line on the PS4's PSN store. After you're done listening to this killer beat, go buy it.

Desolate Highway - Mighty No. 9 (PS4, Wii U, XBO, PC)


The release of Mighty No. 9 was... less than spectacular and that's putting it kindly. This game ended up being one of 2016's biggest disappointments with many major gaming websites and YouTube channels ripping it a new one. But for all of the game's faults, Mighty No. 9 has a surprisingly good soundtrack. Even if you have no intention of playing the game, you should at the very least, hear the music.

Nemesis Ridley - Metroid Other M (Wii)


If ever there was a polarizing game in the Metroid series (along with Federation Force) it is unquestionably Other M. This 2010 release was quite different from the Prime games and was more story driven than any other Metroid title. The backlash this game received is so huge than many fans say there hasn't been a good/true Metroid game since 2007's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. If a die hard Metroid fan like SomeCallMeJohnny didn't write the game off as complete trash, then the game can't be all bad. One of the game's most memorable music pieces is an arrangement of Super Metroid's Big Boss Confrontation theme. Of course it was given to Ridley.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, September 29, 2017

How About We Wait Until the Game Releases Before We Call it Bad?


I'd be lying if I said being able to hear from fans and fellows gamers much easier and more often thanks to YouTube was a bad thing. However, with it now being child's play to get your voice heard, well, there are some drawbacks to this. These days everyone is an armchair analyst and they've been going to town picking apart Sonic Forces, the subject of today's editorial. With each new bit of info that gets drop, more and more videos are hitting YouTube, most of them being negative. The latest cause for Sonic Forces being bad is the plethora of rings strewn about the levels we've seen thus far. 

Sonic Forces is doing what a number of modern platform games are doing these days and eliminating lives, so this  is one purpose they won't serve here. Rings do still function as a hit point, so if you get hit while you have rings on you, you won't die. What is different about losing rings in Sonic Forces, however, is that when you lose your rings, they are gone for good. Get hit and you won't be worrying about the rings you lost, you'll be worrying about finding some new ones. Damage boosting bosses will be a thing of the past, and depending on how challenging the boss fights in Forces are, losing rings could make boss encounters a lot more troublesome. 

Casino Forest, the latest level in Sonic Forces to be
revealed... and the reason for more complaints.

With rings being so plentiful or at least from the levels that we've seen so far, it looks like you won't be sweating bullets too often. Having played Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 on the Game Gear, I can tell you with the utmost assurance that being a one hit point wonder in act 3 of those games really bites. Since lost rings can't be reclaimed anymore, having a huge assortment of them could be Sonic Team's way of negating the new ring loss system. 

Other complaints about Forces center around the level design in that, from what we've seen so far, the levels appear to be very linear. I don't think I will ever understand the obsession the Sonic fanbase has with non linear levels. Levels that are non linear are great and all but just because a level has linear level design, that doesn't automatically make it bad. On the opposite end, a level can have multiple paths and still be designed poorly. Sonic CD is a game that encourages exploration with multiple level paths but a number of that game's zones are so frustrating to go through because the level design is atrocious. Non linear level design is not an automatic win and you can have levels that use linear design and still be good levels.

You may have noticed I've used the words "so far" numerous times throughout this editorial because, well, you know, the game has not come out yet. We have not seen everything Forces has to offer, so it's more than a little eye rolling to see videos hit YouTube saying that Forces will suck, that rings ruin the game, or that it is objectively bad. Not only have we not seen every bit of the game, most people doing the griping haven't even done the most important thing: play the dang game. 

Forces pre-release situation reminds me a lot of Paper Mario: Color Splash, a game that got a ton of hate before it released because it resembled Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a game many consider the ruination of the Paper Mario series. It wasn't just that, though. Color Splash was yet another Paper Mario game that didn't look like The Thousand Year Door, what many consider the best Paper Mario game. Color Splash was not only gut bustingly funny, it was worlds better than Sticker Star. Sadly, some people still haven't played it because they decided to label the game as bad based off of what they saw.

At the end of the day, I can kind of understand why some fans are approaching Sonic Forces with a heavy degree of skepticism. There have been some huge stinkers in Sonic's 3D history and the last 3D Sonic game to be released, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was compared to Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, one of, if not, the worst Sonic game of all time. As I said above, we haven't played the game yet and as I mentioned in a previous editorial, Sonic Forces is being developed by the same team that brought us Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, two of the best Sonic games (that critics and even some fans seem to have forgotten about all of a sudden). So instead of saying "X reason is why Sonic Forces is bad/ruined/awful" how about we wait until the game comes out, play it and then judge? Hoo boy, November 7th needs to hurry up and get here already. Not just because I'm really excited to play this game but because one way or another, all this pre-release criticism will end.