E3 day 2 gives just a pinch of news

There wasn’t a lot of interesting news coming from E3 on day two. In fact, I think there’s only two things I saw that I wanted to mention.

Pac-Man Museum collection coming to digital platforms, includes Pac-Man Battle Royale, Richard Mitchell, Joystiq, 6/12/13.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Pac-Man is a great game, and Pac-Man Battle Royale is one of my favorite games. It’s amazingly fun and probably the best reason to visit your local arcade (if your local arcade has one). With the inclusion of it in a console, it’s experience may get watered down. Yes, now I can look forward to playing it at home, but that takes out the incentive to go the arcade and experience the arcade cabinet.

Pokemon X and Y’s online features feel like a true evolution, Bob Mackey, Joystiq, 6/12/13.

As you play Pokemon X or Y, your friends list will appear on the bottom screen along with a list of people playing near you. This includes people from your 3DS friends list added before the game was even released. As you battle strangers, they’ll move to your acquaintances list and eventually friends. The bad news? They don’t have a plan for importing Pokemon from the DS versions yet.


E3 day 1 was full of Nintendo news

As I mentioned previously, I’m not reading every bit of E3 news, but some stuff sticks out. Here’s what I read yesterday that’s interesting to me.

PS4 hard drive is user-replaceable, Samit Sarkar, Polygon, 6/11/13.

Good news!

The Last Guardian is ‘on hiatus’, Jessica Conditt, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Absolutely terrible, yet not surprising, news. The Last Guardian was, sadly, a factor in my purchase of the PS3.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze hits Wii U in November, Sinan Kubba, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Lots of Nintendo games seemed cool to me. A new DKC is always welcome news, although I didn’t even play Donkey Kong Country Returns (besides at E3).

New ‘Yoshi’s Island’ game called ‘Yoshi’s New Island’, Alexander Silwinski, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Yoshi’s Island, so I’ll be happy to try Yoshi’s New Island.

Super Smash Bros. coming to 3DS, Wii U in 2014; Mega Man joins fray, Alexander Silwinski, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

I’ve never been big into Smash multiplayer, but surprisingly, I love the single player. I hope it has a cool adventure mode.

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD hits Wii U in October, Sinan Kubba, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

When Wind Waker was released, I thought it looked dumb. My tastes in graphics have changed completely, and for a while now I’ve been really interested in going back to Wind Waker. I guess I’ll be trying to HD remake!

Mario Kart 8 races to Wii U Spring 2014, David Hinkle, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Mario Kart 8 looks awesome and includes anti-gravity segments. Hopefully Nintendo steps up their game in response to Sonic & All-Stars Racing. Transformed was absolutely awesome.

Super Mario 3D World pounces on Wii U Dec. 2013, Bob Mackey, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Super Mario 3D Land was the greatest 3D Mario game I’ve played in a very long time. It ranked with 64 in my mind, although I’d be hard to pressed to crown one the best over the other. We’ll see how this new one is!

Nintendo has a tendency of releasing a lot of great games in their core franchises early and then tapering off. I don’t know if that’s going to happen with the Wii U, but I don’t care. They’ve announced enough already to make the Wii U more than worth the cost.

Why I’m not inherently excited about a new Playstation

A lot of gamers are anxious about Sony’s announcement tonight of, presumably, the PS4. I’m not excited. Don’t misunderstand that to mean that I won’t be interested in the next console. They might surprise me with something cool, and even if they don’t, I’ll still need to get it to play the newer games. However, that statement is exactly why I’m not inherently excited. I’ll need to get it to play the new games.

The driving force of the game industry are games. When a new game that looks good is released, I’d like to play it. When the Playstation 4 releases, I’ll need it (or the new Xbox) to play the newest games. This seems arbitrary to me. The current consoles are fine unless they change things radically. Will they? I doubt it. We’ll see more motion control and maybe a little bit of touch input from Sony, but I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.

New consoles are always more powerful, but I think we’re at a point in gaming that power isn’t the most important thing. Sony likely knows that as they commented that they’re focusing on “new playing options” (Nikkei via Joystiq). This  could be the right path for Sony, but it really depends what these new playing options are. I enjoyed my Wii, but I didn’t see many games that really benefited from motion control or the pointer. There were some that worked well, such as World of Goo, but most often it felt like a gimmick. I haven’t tried Kinect, Move, or voice-control, but I’m not very interested in those either – at least, not as gimmicks. I’m hoping that by integrating the technology, maybe games that use them don’t have to feature them any longer. This could allow games to use them only as needed.

What else could we see? Streaming games? Serious Internet users already have bandwidth issues (especially with roommates), so this does not catch my eye. Better integration to handhelds? Building game leaderboards directly into the interface like Microsoft has correctly done (although hidden a little since the earlier interfaces)? We’ll see, but I’m just hoping that I’ll want the console because of the new experiences it can give me that the PS3 couldn’t rather than simply the ability to play games that won’t be released on the PS3.

Could Homefront 2 be good? A tale of hype, parties, and disappointment

When I first heard about Homefront, I thought the premise sounded interesting. You’re part of the resistance, fighting against the Greater Korean Republic’s occupation of most of what was formerly the United States. According to the game, Kim Jong-un rules North Korea after Kim Jong-il dies. After a war breaks out in the middle east affecting oil supply, most first-world countries are thrown into disarray. Kim Jong-un reunites the divided Koreas into the Greater Korean Republic, takes over Japan, and eventually takes annexes most of Southeast Asia. As the economy of the United States deteriorates, the GKR hits the United States with a huge EMP, launches an amphibious attack on the US’s west coast, and drops soldiers over much of the US.

If the story wasn’t enough to hype me, the party was. I went to E3 the year THQ was pushing Homefront. In fact, THQ was huge. They had the largest presence of any third-party video game software company. I was invited to attended THQ’s Homefront party which was on the roof of a large hotel. I was greeted by the sight of Korean flags and Korean soldiers guarding the hotel. After getting in line, I was given my rights booklet, Subject’s Guide from Your Glorious Occupiers of the New Korean Federation. This booklet outlined my rights under the New Korean Federation and gave an idea of what the world in the game would be like. We were then escorted to the rooftop where there were a few soldiers but mostly a lively party. There was a bar, lots of food (including Pink’s Hot Dogs), and a rooftop pool. A Japanese man who spoke little English walked right into the pool thinking it was glass-covered. Not only did he manage to keep his drinks from spilling, but he also drank them as soon as he stopped laughing. He was a good sport! At one point in the evening, Korean guards marched US prisoners of war through the party. Of course, they were booth babes scantily clad female soldiers.

This had the effect THQ and developer Kaos Studios indended; I was hyped about the game. No, I wasn’t about to lie and give it a gleaming review without playing it, but I was sure excited and willing to try it. When it was finally released, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

I played the PC version, developed my Digital Extremes. It was full of many bugs, which largely consisted of terrible AI. I remember two parts in particular. Once, I was told to climb a ladder. Try as I might, I couldn’t get my character to start climbing. When I turned around, I was trapped my a friendly NPC and couldn’t get past him. After much maneuvering, I managed to get past him, and he began to climb the ladder. Only then was I allowed to climb the ladder. Apparently I was supposed to follow that NPC. Never mind the fact that I reached the ladder first. At another point, I was in a closed area, a stadium perhaps, fighting enemy soldiers. After I killed the soldiers, the game played the sound effect that indicated I had killed the last enemy and reached a checkpoint. However, nothing else happened. Usually there was some dialogue as the game progressed. I wandered around a little and came across an enemy performing the same half second animation over and over, clearly stuck. I killed him, and the game played that same little sound again. This time the game let me continue.

No bug was absolutely game-breaking, but it was disappointing to see terrible AI and glitches. In addition, parts of the story were a little dumb such as vehicle-related segments that seemed out of place. Worse yet, I never did understand how the Greater Korean Republic managed to take such a massive country as the United States.

Still, the plot was interesting, and the game was moderately fun. The single-player consisted of a six-hour campaign that ended on a high note without actually ending the war. It was the perfect setup for a continuing series.

Looking back on it now, it sounds decent enough. However, I know I felt pretty angry at it at the time. I’m sure I’m forgetting specifics about how annoying the bugs were, but I think the fact that the game was hyped so much made it feel even worse when the game didn’t turn out to be fantastic. In June of 2011 I wrote that Homefront was on sale on Steam for 50% off at $24.99 and was definitely not worth the price. I claimed that you should borrow it from someone or wait until it’s on sale for $2. (The game is currently $19.99, and I have mixed feelings. That still seems a bit high!)

The reviews were mixed, but mine was lower than average. However, most people realized that the game didn’t live up to THQ’s claims. There were also problems for Kaos Studios. Rob Zacny of Polygon wrote a fascinating piece on Polygon back in November of 2012 about the development of Homefront titled Death March: The Long, Tortured Journey of Homefront. It’s an excellent read for anyone interested in how management of a game development team can go sour.

Most people probably know that THQ has fallen from its mighty heights. Earlier this month THQ sold the rights to its intellectual properties to the highest bidders. Alexander Sliwinski of Joystiq reports that the Homefront IP was purchased by Crytek for half a million dollars. Why are they interested? Crytek has been developing Homefront 2.

I’m curious about what this means. Samit Sarkar wrote a piece on Polygon about Nick Button-Brown, general manager of games at Crytek, speaking to VG247 about the sale and Homefront 2. Butter-Brown claims that “progress is great” and that Crytek purchased the Homefront IP “because the game is coming along so well.” The game must be looking good for Crytek to invest half a million dollars in purchasing the IP, right? This gives me hope. Or at least, it did when I first thought about it.

Crytek has spent time and money developing Homefront 2. The Joystiq piece I linked earlier specifically shows that there was no runner-up for the bid of the Homefront property. If no one purchased Homefront (or if someone else put in a very low bid), it would be likely that Homefront 2 would be canceled, and Crytek’s time and money would have been wasted. If Homefront 2 makes at least half a million dollars, they’ll be breaking even. The game could be flop, and it might still be worth the half a million dollars that Crytek invested.

Why didn’t other companies bid? Was it because the game is looking bad or because sales are expected to be low regardless? I don’t know for sure, but the fact there was no runner-up looks bad to me. On the other hand, critics have received Crytek’s games much better than they received Homefront.

While it’s too soon to know for sure, I think there’s hope for Homefront. I’m far from convinced, but I’ll keep an eye on it.


Joystiq was my preferred video game news site for a long time largely due to the Joystiq Podcast. While I don’t always have time to play the newest games, I loved listening to Chris Grant, Justin McElroy, Ludwig Kietzmann, and sometimes Griffin McElroy talk about video games and their lives in general. I got to know each of them and began to understand their frame of reference for video games. I came to realize that Griffin’s top 10 list each year would give me more “oddball” choices, so I’d eagerly wait for his list.

When I learned that Chris Grant was leaving Joystiq, handing over the Editor-in-Chief position to Ludwig, I was happy for Ludwig but very sad to hear Chris was leaving. When I heard that Justin and Griffin were leaving, I actually got excited. No, not because I was glad to see them go. If all three of them were leaving, surely they were leaving together! They went to work for Vox Media, who owns The Verge.

Eventually it was revealed that the new game site would be called Polygon. And they forgot to hire web programmers for months and months (I can only assume).

Luckily, the wait is over. On Tuesday I received the following e-mail:

A long time ago, on a landing page far, far away, you ignored everything your parents ever taught you and entered your email address into a form on the internet. While normally we would join your parents in frowning on this kind of behavior, this one time it seems to have worked out! You asked to be notified when Polygon.com — the new video game website from Vox Media — was live and well, friend … today’s that day.

So fire up your favorite web browser, be it desktop, tablet, or mobile-based, and load up:


-Team Polygon

I’ll need to spend some time getting to know Polygon to get a feel for the writers and the type of content they provide. I’ve looked it at a little and already noticed that while I love the layout, I think the 20-point scale for reviews is too specific. However, their review policy is very interested. The reviewer writes the review but doesn’t score it. He or she then sits down with senior editors to discuss what numeric score accurately reflects the review as it was written. It’s a new of way of giving a numeric score, and I like it!

Anyways, go check out Polygon! Also, don’t forget about Joystiq and of course Game Boyz, the site for which I review iOS titles (and once in a while PC titles).