Video games at San Diego Comic-Con 2013

sdcc 2013

San Diego Comic-Con was this past weekend, and there were plenty of gaming-related things there to discuss. I played some games, took pics with some game cosplayers, saw some interesting booths, and of course took some great photos. I saw things related to Battleblock Theater, Castle Crashers, Alien Hominid, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Pikmin 3, Super Luigi U, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, Super Mario 3D World, Just Dance 2014, Ico, Adventure Time, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

One of the first things we hit up was the Behemoth booth. I’m a big fan of all of their games, and I actually just attended a Behemoth event last week. (I’ll post about that too; I promise.)

Castle Crashers

They had arcade cabinets of their three games like usual, and they were very cool. Having played all of their games extensively, I didn’t stop to play any.

BattleBlock Theater at the Behemoth Booth

They were using Toshiba TVs, too! Yay!

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I did, however, stop to take a photo with this cat guard statue. He was guarding the booth obviously.

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I also took this photo with Hatty. He put his hands out, and I’m not sure what he intended. I just held hands with him.

Plants vs Zombies 2 Vinyl Toys

Next to the Behemoth booth was a booth for Plants vs. Zombies 2. I’m still optimistic about the game, but honestly, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures on Facebook has downgraded my enthusiasm to “cautiously optimistic.” The Facebook game totally butchered such a great experience. However, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare looks great too. The booth didn’t make any announcements or have any games to play, but it did have the vinyl toys pictured above.

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Also, this zombie tried to eat my brains! Ahh!

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At the Pikmin 3 booth gem and I took this photo. There was also a video playing of Miyamoto discussing Pikmin 3. I’ve never played a Pikmin game, but it did make me mildly interested. I’m probably not going to buy it (because I’m trying to cut back), but I wouldn’t mind trying it. I had seen photos on Instagram of people at other photo-ops, but I couldn’t find them. I asked someone at the Pikmin 3 booth and found out that Nintendo had a large game lounge at a hotel next to the convention center. I headed for it!

Nintendo Game Lounge

The Nintendo Game Lounge was really awesome. They had a huge variety of fun games, and lots of great decorations and personality. They even made it a bit more like an arcade; after playing each game, the attendant would give you a ticket. You could redeem three tickets for a Pikmin 3 t-shirt. In addition, there were other goodies. After playing Super Mario 3D World, you could get either a Mario or Luigi hat. Sure, they were just foam, but it was fun. After playing the Wonderful 101 you earned a mask, and there were other things as well that I didn’t try to obtain.

The Year of Luigi

There was a even a large, blank book celebrating the Year of Luigi.

The Year of Luigi

Fans were encouraged to write notes to Luigi in it!

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Right outside the lounge was a Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD photo-op. Of course, I stopped for a photo. Wind Waker HD will surely look great in HD, and I’m looking forward to it.

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There was a cool Super Mario 3D World photo-op too, and this was the one to which I was most looking forward. It was a lot of fun to take some photos there! I also got to play the game itself quite a bit. We played some four player co-op. I really emjoyed what I played it. We only played some fairly easy levels, and it plays more like the New Super Mario Bros. series than Super Mario 3D Land (unfortunately). It was great for four-player fun; Nintendo really nailed allowing players of differing skill to play together.

While I didn’t get any pictures of The Wonderful 101, I did get to play it. I pre-ordered this title a long time ago, and now I’m glad I did. You control a crowd of superheroes while beating up bad guys and solving puzzles. The woman running the game station was very nice and informative as well. I like it when they’re willing to talk a bit like normal, and she was happy to chat with us. She seemed to have a pretty good idea of how the game worked too, which is pretty cool. (They’re from an agency and not Nintendo employees.) On the other hand, she was stuck watching the first five minutes of the game over and over for days while standing in uncomfortable boots. She did mention that only one other person got as far as I did, so that was pretty cool.

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Despite having never played Bayonetta, I stopped for a photo of Bayonetta 2.

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze had a pretty great photo-op too.

The most fun game I played at SDCC was actually Just Dance 2014. I might look silly while playing, but I’m having a great time, so who cares, right? In this video we’re dancing to the Ghostbusters song! I’m not sure why you can’t hear it, but I’m guessing Antonio was covering the microphone. One dancer was the ghost, Slimer (and that was me), and the other three are Ghostbusters. It was really fun. The dance involved Ghostbusters chasing the ghost, the ghost chasing them, and Slimer even sliming them. I’m definitely going to need to purchase this.

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In the Capcom booth, I got to pretend to be Phoenix Wright himself. Take that!

Pac-Man Battle Royale

Adult Swim had a neat arcade featuring new games, old games, and some in-between. The arcade held a Pac-Man Battle Royale cabinet, which is one of my favorite games of all time. I played some four-player with gem and two strangers. I’m used to playing at a cocktail cabinet, but this one was a standing cabinet.

I also played the new Adventure Time game called Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! It was pretty fun. It was a four-player dungeon crawler with RPG elements. While it seemed fun, it also seemed boring. Some mindlessness is fun sometimes, and mixed with the Adventure Time humor, I’d expect to like the game more. It suffered from two problems. One, because it wasn’t split screen and didn’t feature any warp mechanics, the party would get split and then the screen couldn’t scroll. Two, the whole game just felt too slow. Maybe the kinks will get worked out before it’s released.

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Of course, I can’t forget about this awesome Ico cosplay! I was pretty excited to see him.

Ico leading gem

gem took his hand so he could lead her like he leads Yorda. It was a great idea.

I bet I’m forgetting something, but I think that covers all the major games I played or thought about at SDCC 2013. It was a blast! You can see more photos in my Flickr album if you’re interested. I’ll also be writing another blog post on my personal blog about the non-gaming aspects of the trip. I’ll put a link here after it gets posted.

New Super Mario Bros. U beat!

I know it took me a while, but I beat New Super Mario Bros. U this week! I still have star coins to collect and bonus levels to complete if I wish, and I haven’t tackled Challenge Mode or Boost Rush at all yet either. I thought it was very fun. While I preferred the 3D obstacle courses of Super Mario 3D land, I thought New Super Mario Bros. U was a great addition the series. It seemed to be reminiscent of Super Mario World just as New Super Mario Bros. was reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. Given that Nintendo just announced Super Mario 3D World, I wonder if that’s supposed to be the new Super Mario World. New Super Mario Bros. U just seemed a bit more playful, and I loved the use of the Koopalings, the Koopa Clown Car, and the airships.

After beating the game, a “secret island” is unlocked. It contains one building that offers you some stats on your records. Here are mine:

  • Coins Collected: 12039
  • Star Coins Collected: 126
  • Goombas Stomped: 32
  • Items Collected: 409
  • 3-Up Moons Collected: 2
  • Distance on Boost Blocks: 300.4
  • Distance on Mini-Boost Blocks: 0.0
  • Goal Poles Reached: 68
  • Goals Reached with Yoshi: 2
  • Goals Reached with Baby Yoshi: 3
  • 1-Ups Earned at Goal: 16
  • Fireworks at Goal: 9
  • Times Applauded: 133
  • Nabbits Caught: 7

Just Cause 2: The gift of explosions and action

Just Cause 2

After finding out that my friend had never played Portal, I gifted him a copy. He returned the favor by gifting me Just Cause 2. I’d watched my roommate play it before and had wanted to play it. I’ve only played it a little so far, but it’s a lot of fun.

Just Cause 2 is full of action – shooting, melee combat, close calls, grappling hooks, parachutes, and explosions. Oh yes, lots of explosions. It reminds me of Michael Bay movies, except that seems like an insult to Just Cause 2.

It’s third-person and involves lots of shooting, but the exploring and moving is the most fun part. You can use a grappling hook to propel yourself (or drag enemies), and you can deploy a parachute at any time to slow down or get airborne. The grappling hook and parachute combine to give you very high mobility.

The other interesting part of the game is chaos. You seem to work for a government agency of some sort, and you’re sent to the country of Panau to destabilize the new, hostile government. To do this, you need to spread chaos. Completing missions spreads chaos, but destroying statues and infrastructure spreads chaos as well. In other words, it’s an excuse to blow stuff up!

I’m looking forward to unleashing a lot more chaos in the future.

David Hayter bummed about not performing Snake’s voice in MGS 5

David Hayter

David Hayter, voice for Snake up until now, has made a heartfelt post about not reprising his role in Metal Gear Solid 5. He writes that when he heard that recording sessions had begun, he contacted someone involved with the production. After meeting with him, he learned that they “wouldn’t be needing [him],” with no further explanation.

Hayter writes, “I love being part of the world of Metal Gear” and “primarily, I love the fans of these games.” Most touchingly, he writes, “If it were my choice, I would do this role forever. To hear anyone else’s voice coming from Snake’s battered throat, makes me a little ill, to be honest.”

David Hayter seems like a really fun guy to me. I met him at Anime Expo 2008. When I got his autograph, I asked him, “Do you ever use the Snake voice in the bedroom,” to which he replied, “on occasion.” I asked, “How’s that work out for you?” “Works every time,” he answered. And he answered in the Snake voice of course.

Yes, that’s me with David Hayter by the way. The photos kind of blurry, and everyone knows blurry pictures make you look fat.

METAL GEAR V

By

David Hayter

So,

Here’s a recap of events:

I have been up in Toronto, for the past eight months, directing my first film, (WOLVES — 2013, TF1/COPPERHEART). On the December break, I came home to Los Angeles for the holidays. I heard then, that recording sessions for MG:V were being put together.

But I didn’t hear anything about whether I’d be needed or not.

So, I got in touch with someone involved in the production. We got together for lunch, and he told me that they “wouldn’t be needing me” on this game. No reason, or explanation was given beyond that.

And that was it.

I drove home through Laurel Canyon, bummed, and thinking about Snake.

To be clear, I love being a part of the world of Metal Gear. I admire its technological innovations, the gameplay, the political message of it all. But primarily, I love the fans of these games. Two grown men burst into tears upon meeting me at the Vancouver Fan Expo last year.

Now that… Is a rare and excellent role. You know you’re making an impact.

And I love doing it.

In 1998, I tried to do come up with a voice which epitomized the kind of worn, put-upon, genetically-engineered clone-soldier that I saw Snake to be. Over time, as the games became more stunning and visually sophisticated, I tried to transition that initial voice into the increasingly real environments in which Snake found himself. My level of success is up to you, but any perceived deficiencies were not for lack of hard work. I have dedicated a huge amount of time and effort into creating a compelling character, capable of expressing the myriad emotional, physical and psychological hurdles that Snake has to face.

Anyway, now it’s been fifteen years, nine games, and an enormous blast to undertake.

If it were my choice, I would do this role forever. To hear anyone else’s voice coming from Snake’s battered throat, makes me a little ill, to be honest.

But the truth is — it’s not my choice. Any and all casting decisions are the sole purview of Hideo Kojima, and Konami itself. And that’s fair.

And I’ll get by. I am not lacking for employment on any level.

But I didn’t want anybody to think that I was intentionally abandoning them.

And know that I will miss this job, and this character, very much.

My best wishes to you all,

David Hayter

April 1, 2013

– @DavidBHayter, TwitLonger, 4/1/13.
via David Hayter: Hearing someone else as Snake ‘makes me a little ill’, Jessica Conditt, Joystiq, 4/1/13.

What I’ve been playing: Surviving High School, Borderlands 2, New Super Mario Bros. U and more

Backloggery stats

The 1367 games I own have a breakdown as follows:

  • 340 unfinished (262 unplayed)
  • 327 beat (a normal playthrough)
  • 83 completed or mastered (beating and doing extra)
  • 617 null’d

That means that 45.1% of the games I own have been marked null. I do this when I’ve decided that I’m finished yet haven’t beat the game, which happens if I don’t think it’s worth continuing to put my time into the game. I also mark duplicates null.

I’ve  beat, completed, or mastered 30.0% of my owned games, leaving 24.9% of my games unbeaten with 77.1% of those games never even played.

Surviving High School

Despite being angry with EA for changing the way DLC is handled in the game, making it impossible for me to download DLC that I’ve already purchased, I’ve continued playing Surviving High School. I finished The New Girl and A New Start season 1 megapacks and have been keeping up to date with A New Start season 5. In addition, I’m a quarter of the way through classic season 1.

Borderlands 2

Last weekend I got to spend a couple hours playing Borderlands 2 with my friend Joe. It had been a long time since I’d played a console game besides New Super Mario Bros. U, and I had never played the original Borderlands. However, I really enjoyed it and didn’t seem too lost. I don’t think the story really mattered.

I’d heard that it was similar to Diablo, and that was very accurate. Borderlands 2 has the hack-and-slash, dungeoneering feel of the Diablo series with the mechanics of a first-person shooter. It’s all about getting better loot, and progressing through quests seemed secondary. I really enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind playing it more.

New Super Mario Bros. U

While I only play this once in a while, I’m still chugging away at it. I’m currently in the fifth world. It reminds me strongly of Super Mario World.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 1: The Hangman

I reviewed this FBI thriller, point-and-click adventure for Game Boyz. gem played with me because she loved the subject. It was really exciting, and I’m looking forward to the next episode’s release on iOS.

Abalone

Here’s another iOS game that I reviewed for Game Boyz. It’s a strategy board game that’s pretty fun. There are a variety of challenges, and I struggled even during the tutorial set. It works well as a pass-and-play multiplayer game.

Super Monkey Ball 2

SMB2 is a good time waster. I gave up on the first iPhone game when it got annoying. You have to beat 10 levels for it to save, which just seems like bad design. We’ll see if this one annoys me too.

Solitaire Blitz

Why are some of Popcap’s games so amazing and others only mediocre? Solitaire Blitz is pretty much Tri Peaks solitaire with a bunch of stacks rather than triangular arrangements of cards. In addition, you can unlock multiple waste piles as you play. Being a free game, Popcap has in-app purchases that I avoid.

World of Warcraft

I won’t go into detail about WoW here considering I have a blog devoted to it, but we finished tier 14. I’ve completed the first two wings of the tier 15 in LFR but we haven’t entered the Throne of Thunder yet on normal. I’m still working on 5.0 reputations but am finished with 5.1 and 5.2 reps. I’ve also been enjoying the Isle of Thunder.

Minesweeper and Windows 8 gaming


Minesweeper

I finally added a Microsoft account on my computer and downloaded software from the Microsoft Store. It was Minesweeper. I know it looks a bit different in that screenshot, but that’s actually because I put a theme on it. It’s annoying not being able to play it on top of other things thanks to the way the new interface works in Windows 8, and it’s also the first time I’ve consistently used software not in Desktop mode. But I did have a reason.

Minesweeper achievements

It’s an Xbox game. It’s part of Xbox Games for Windows, which means it has achievements and leaderboards. This one also has additional medals and daily challenges. As far as I can tell, medals are basically achievements but don’t grant any gamerscore. Regardless, this was enough to entice me.

Adventure mode

There’s even a strange adventure mode. It’s basically the same but is skinned to look like an adventure game. Plus you earn extra points for picking up gold. Yeah, I really don’t know. It’s mildly amusing though.

I don’t intend to oversell Minesweeper. It’s effectively the same Minesweeper as always with some achievements. What’s more interesting is the idea of Xbox Games for Windows. I look forward to seeing more games come to Windows featuring leaderboards and achievements!

 

 

 

inFAMOUS 2 complete

 

inFAMOUS 2 PlatinumWhile looking through my trophies the other day, I realized I was missing two trophies in inFAMOUS 2 – the platinum and one for obtaining all powers. This just wouldn’t do! How could I leave two trophies unearned in one my favorite games when they seemed so reasonable?

Don’t worry; I fixed it now! It was fun to run around as Cole again. I’d love another game in the series!

Diamond Trust of London Kickstarter Package

I drafted this on 9/11 and forgot to post it. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t post it.

Diamond Trust of London is a DS game about the (real) diamond trade in Angola during the year 2000. It’s a strategy game about bribing, spying, and more. What drew me to it was the fact that it was an indie game that was attempting to be player-funded over Kickstarter. I pledged $55, which gave me this package:

A limited edition boxed copy of Diamond Trust of London. Only 1000 of these will be available, ever, and this is the main route to get one. Signed and numbered. Special inclusions inside the package. (Free USA shipping. Add $13 to your pledge for international shipping.)

You can see what I got in the photograph above! If you look at the bottom of the front cover of the game, you’ll see it says “limited edition” and is numbered 685 of 1000. Along with the game, I got a traveller’s cheque, four stamps from countries involved in the game, a coin from a country involved in the game, an archival envelope from the actual Diamond Trust of London, and three small envelopes from the actual Diamond Trust of London. Do you see those specks, one on each small envelope? Those are diamonds. They might not be great diamonds, but they’re diamonds!

The back is autographed by developer Jason Rohrer and musician Tom Bailey. And no, Jason Rohrer is not related to the Rohrer with whom I work at Toshiba! I asked.

How’s the game itself? I don’t know yet! But it looks fun, and more importantly, I’m glad I got to contribute to something to interesting.

Wii U

With the final sale details of the Wii being released today (yesterday by the time this is posted), I knew it was time to pre-order. I put money down on the Wii U Deluxe (full price of $349.99), New Super Mario Bros. U, LEGO City: Undercover, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Because I’m getting the Wii U Deluxe, Nintendo Land will be bundled with the consoles. I’m excited!

Let the eighth generation begin!

 

What I’m playing: Amnesia, GTA3, Lollipop Chainsaw, SimCity Social Edition

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been jumping between quite a few different games. Three games I’ve been playing more than others – Amnesia, GTA 3, and Lollipop Chainsaw.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

I got Amensia with the latest Humble Bundle. I heard it was pretty scary, and it definitely lives up to its reputation. It’s a first-person adventure game that came out about a year and nine months ago. It looked older than that to me in the way the interface works. When you approach an item with which you can interact, a hand icon appears. You can move things or hold them by clicking on them. If they’re not an inventory item for use later but are able to be picked up, they’ll float in the center of the screen. You interact with everything in a similar way. For example, you don’t go through a door by running up to it and pressing the enter-key. Rather, you press the left mouse button and either pull or push (depending on the door). This makes the game feel very immersive. The game revolves around solving puzzles… oh, and keeping your sanity.

Being the dark will slow drive you insane, which, among other things, will make you hear things that aren’t real. This is particularly scary because then you can’t be sure whether something’s really coming for you or not. Being in the dark drops your sanity, so you need to keep your lantern fueled or be able to light enough candles. When you see a monster, the longer you look at it, the more it drives you insane. You can hide in the dark from the monsters (but that drives you insane as well), but if it wants you dead, you’ll die. There really isn’t any fighting it.

It has a really fascinating story. Your character has purposely given himself amnesia and left himself with a letter telling him to kill someone. He assures himself that the person deserves to die even if he doesn’t like it. I can’t wait to find out more about the story.

The game suggests you play it in the dark with headphones. I don’t do either of those things. However, the fact that I’m playing without the brightness maxed out means I’m at least trying to play by the rules. There’s also the fact that I’m still playing even though most people I know gave up. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the game I think.

Grand Theft Auto

After playing the first GTA (and London), I tried GTA 2 once before jumping forward a number of years and playing GTA 4 and Chinatown Wars. I never beat any of the early games, so I picked up the classic pack on Steam. I tried playing the original, but I have to be honest, it doesn’t hold up. I like the core game type; I loved Chinatown Wars, for example. But the missions are just tedious. It’s all more of the same. The story isn’t very interesting. Worst of all, levels are very long, and alt-tabbing almost always will eventually lead to the game crashing. I even tried cheating by giving myself unlimited lives. That didn’t work because I didn’t have enough time to beat a level in one sitting, and like I said, alt-tabbing leads to crashing. I decided to write this one off. I won’t be returning to it.

Grand Theft Auto III

Instead, I’ll be playing GTA 3. It’s really telling that GTA 3 can be so ugly by today’s standards but still be so good. I don’t even think about it being old while I play it. It just feels like GTA 4. I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m only a handful of missions into the game – maybe around 10. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it later. For now, it’s definitely satisfying a third I’ve been having.

Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw is the one reason I’ve used a console recently. It’s Suda51’s latest game, and it’s an odd one. It’s about a cheerleader who’s also a zombie hunter. When her boyfriend gets bit, she cuts off his head with a chainsaw and takes it with him, allowing him to survive with magic. You hack and slash enemies sort of like Devil May Cry. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and I had a lot of fun with it. The claim to fame, beside being developed by Suda51 of course, is sex appeal. There’s a lot of talk about sex, and a lot of cussing. The sex is, honestly, not much worse than a bunch of B-horror movies anyways, and that’s the flavor the game seems to targeting. The over-abundant cussing just seems odd. Mad World had a lot of cussing, and it seemed appropriate. It doesn’t really feel appropriate here. There’s also a peculiar gameplay element. Control is removed every minute or so to show the player something. I understand the the game needs to let the player know what’s happening, but it should do it without taking the game away from me.

SimCity Social

I can’t believe I’m playing this. I swear, I don’t usually play Facebook games. It’s like normal SimCity, but with some twists. Each action you take consumes one energy, and energy regenerates over time. This means you have to stop playing and come back later. Money and manufacturing materials are also generated on a timed cycle. You have to log into the game to claim them, so this pushes players to stop playing but to check back in frequently. Certain buildings require staff to complete them. This means you have to hire friends as staff. You can only hire each friend once per day. If you don’t want to wait, you can spend diamonds, a rare resource that can also be purchased using real money. None of that for me, thank you.

Worms Crazy Golf

It’s Worms. It’s golf. And I guess it’s crazy. I’ve been using it as a nice way to get over the shock of playing Amnesia. What’s particularly great about it is that it supports local multiplayer.
Super Mario 3D Land
I’m pushing through the “bonus game” in this. I’m in World S5 now.
World of Warcraft
Of course, I’ve been playing this as well. I’m working on Grizzly Hills as well as PVPing and participating in the holiday.
Monsters Ate My Condo
Adult Swim Games brings one of the most fun iOS games I’ve ever played. You build a tower of condos while trying match their colors and feeding some to giant monsters. Mmhmmm. Totally great.

Zynga Slots and Zynga Poker

Two bad games by Zynga. Zynga Slots is a little addicting, and I don’t know why. Stay away from it.
Tap Tip Block
What if the zombies mode from World at War was cartoonish, featured monsters instead of Nazi zombies, was made by Capcom, and developed for iOS? It’d be Tap Tip Block. It’s short but fun.
Pucca Noodle Rush
I finally finished this little time management game. It wasn’t really very good, but I like Pucca.
SQUIDS Wild West
The sequel to SQUIDS, and a great iOS strategy game. Check out my recent Game Boyz review for more information.
Imaginary Range
Square-Enix making an interactive comic/game for iOS is great. Square-Enix taking a year to release a new issue is not. I doubt we’ll see an end to this story.
Shadowgun
Shadowgun’s a third-person cover-based shooter built in Unity for iOS. It looks great and is pretty fun. I only recently got around to returning to it to beat it.
Terra Noctics
Like Shadowgun, Terra Noctis is another iOS game that I finally got around to finishing. It’s a fun little platformer.