I made mention on the Twitter feed that “today is a weird day for gaming”. With Tokyo Game Show behind us, it’s hardly a surprise, but at the same time TGS this year was really, really low-key. No bombshells, no big reveals, nothing too shocking at all. That, in and of itself, is pretty damn unusual. About the only exciting news out of TGS was that Yakuza 3 was going to be released in North America, which excites people who are explicitly not me. Kotaku raised the point that the reason TGS was such a non-starter is because we saw all the big news a month ago at GamesCom in Germany… but honestly, we didn’t hear a whole hell of a lot back then, either. Maybe it’s the recession, maybe it’s gross mismanagement, maybe it’s the fact that the entire ’09 holiday season has been delayed to Q1 2010. We just don’t know.
Wow. 2010. I may have to pull out Crazy Taxi and hear Bad Religion talk about that mythical, far-off year of doom and gloom. Maybe not ten billion people, but enough troubles to go around for them. Anyway.
It’s not all bad, though. Capcom decided not to reveal Super Street Fighter IV at TGS this year, instead breaking the news last night. Eight fighters will be added to the already-impressive roster, including the often-overlooked T. Hawk and the new challenger Juri. Juri is already a part of the story, having been a supporting character in at least Hawk’s backstory (I think), but the other six fighters have yet to be named. Now, there’s a few things that make me a little bit giddy about this. While it certainly would have been nice for Capcom to let go of their “minor update, press a new disc” model and make Super a DLC pack, that just wasn’t gonna happen. The good news is, though, Capcom said they were not going to charge the full $60 for the standalone disc, though, which is good (I can hardly complain, though, having waited for the stars to align before snagging SF4 at nearly 1/3rd price from Gamefly anyway). More to the point, though, they announced that the existing fighters were going to be rebalanced. While I would love to read that as “Seth will no longer be an auto-blocking, cheap, defense- and damage-boosted pain in the ass at every difficulty level”, I have a hard time believing that they would make the final boss easier. This is Capcom, after all, who claimed that (Mega Man series creator) Kenji Inafune had a “jar of broken gamer spirits” on his desk. It is entirely believable that this is the unvarnished, godspoken truth. At least getting to Seth should be a less hellish prospect. As soon as there’s a date for this, I’ll probably be tossing a couple bucks on a pre-order.
Speaking of expansions, Dawn of War II is getting one that adds the Chaos Marines into the mix. I suppose if I had time, I’d spend a little while getting through the base DoW2 campaign… but then again, I never really had much in the way of fondness for the Space Marines. Give me the Imperial Guard or the Orks any day– hell, I’ll even settle for a Tau or Eldar campaign. I suppose I’m just gonna have to slog through FOR THE EMPEROR!.
I had the Blue Glow of Love this morning! However, it was not the Glow of Love, but the Glow of Mediocre And Meaningless Firmware Update. Now, I don’t have the Homebrew Channel currently installed on my Wii, mostly because I haven’t wanted much in the way of Wiibrew software. There just hasn’t been much of anything compelling. (Piracy, of course, is the complete opposite of compelling, in my eyes.) I don’t begrudge Nintendo the right to prevent piracy on their console, and I understand, on some level, the desire to protect users from potentially harmful applications that could trash a novice user’s Wii or siphon away personal data. Of course, no such malware apps yet exist and the Wii doesn’t store anything like credit card information, so that point is a little moot. I have to admit, my loyalties are torn here– like I said, I realize why Big N is doing this, but I also think that keeping the system open to legit homebrew while preventing piracy is a great idea. (It warmed my heart to see on WiiBrew.org that piracy bootloaders were broken, with the workaround being “Don’t pirate“.) There’s workarounds for legitimate hacks, and heaven smiles upon those who work tirelessly for the opening of the Wii, but I’m probably going to have to update soon, because the Shop Channel was updated as well.
Funny thing, though, I’ve been waiting for Cave Story Wii for a very long time now. Nicalis, the port developers working with the original game’s developer Pixel, have been promoting the game as “coming soon!” since about this time last year. That’s what the game’s growing hatedom would have you believe; in fact, it was a Nintendo press release that outed the game in October of 2008. Nicalis started the “coming soon” claims around this past spring, but delays and QA submissions to Nintendo have pushed the game into October of ’09 (at the earliest). Here’s the funny thing: people who have said that they were waiting excitedly for the game back in May, are now saying they won’t get it solely because of the delays. The Nicalis forums are a cesspool of hatred and vitriol, where once they seemed like such a nice place. I hate to stereotype people based on their posts in a forum, but it seems to me that none of the people moaning the loudest can be older than about 15. That means they were around 6 or so in 2000/2001, when Working Designs was at their height and Lunar 2 received repeated and increasingly ludicrous delays. Victor Ireland, love him or hate him, said it best: “Delays are temporary. Mediocrity is forever.” While there’s something to be said for punctuality, the simple fact is that Cave Story is a good game, and bringing it to a greater audience, no matter how long it takes, is worth the wait.
I needed to get that off my chest, really. It’s been bugging me. So, with a loud and triumphant “HUZZAH!!“, let’s move on to the next topic.
No, really, you need to say it before I continue. It’ll make you feel better. I promise.
Studio Ghibli is known for a lot of things, a great many of them cute. Level-5 is also known for a lot of things, primary among them Professor Layton and Jeanne d’Arc. So when you combine the two, you get Ni no Kuni (“The Another World”), an RPG that just. Looks. Awesome. The screenshots are impressive, the frames of the animated scenes are also well-done, and to be honest this may be the first game I make an effort to play through in Japanese before the English release. No English release has been announced, though, which makes me all the more driven to get my hands on it once it comes out. I would say that Nintendo has to realize that the game would make up its localization costs, but then again North America didn’t get Soma Bringer, so yeah.
It puzzles me, though, that with the increasing interplay between the North America and Japan regions, more games aren’t being produced for both zones. Going back to Kenji Inafune, he declared, “Man, Japan is over. We’re done. Our game industry is finished.” He then mentioned, in (what could, in some perverse mirror universe, be described as) his defense, that his latest game, Dead Rising 2, was being developed by a Canadian house (Blue Castle Games, out of Vancouver). I’m not going to say that the East or the West does games better; that’s a silly and stupid assertion to make, and besides, I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun with the Rock Band titles, games that have absolutely no trace of Japan in the– wait, no, there’s that X Japan DLC track (which is awesome). Both regions make some damn good games, and it stands to reason that gamers of both regions should have a shot at playing them. The PS3 merging the two into the same region is a good first step (assuming that there was anything I really wanted to play on the PS3 that hasn’t already been announced for NA). I would hope that the other two players in the industry follow suit and announce that their next consoles (probably in late 2011 or 2012) do away with region encoding.
Of course, then you get into the territorial pissing matches of multi-platform releases. It’s been pretty much a universally lauded fact that Final Fantasy XIII is coming to the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3. However, some folks don’t much care for this spreading of the wealth. Fanboys, I know, right? Well, it would be that easy to dismiss it as such if the disaffected group in question did not include Tetsuya Nomura, aka the guy who’s kind of a big deal with regards to the FF series. Reportedly, he was not told in advance that 13 was going multi-platform, and reportedly he was not happy about it. It’s also probably why FF Versus XIII, the side-story to the main game, is remaining PS3-only (for now– that may change, as details are still scarce on it). Finally, Final Fantasy XIV, the MMO crudely referred to as Final Fantasy XI-2 by nobody but yours truly, is still PS3 and PC-only, but that’s mostly (according to, yes, more rumors) because of Microsoft’s reluctance to allow paid MMOs on Live. Yeah, FFXI is already on Live, but that was a bend-over-backwards effort on MS’s part (as well as Square-Enix’s). I don’t doubt that there’s a chance we’ll see 14 on the 360 at some point, particularly if sales of the 360 version of 13 are significant enough to warrant it. Which I kinda think they might be. We’ll see in six to ten months.
I guess you need another “Huzzah” to muster up some good cheer before the last paragraph, huh? Go ahead, I’ll keep.
There are some things that I just should not do. Playing word games is damn near the top of this list. It’s not because of anything inherently harmful in them; quite the contrary, they are excellent ways to build up one’s vocabulary and quick-thinking skills. The critical issue comes when you realize that I love big words. You might say that I’m predisposed to extemporaneously suffusing my dialogues with prodigious pronunciations of apocryphal etymological artifacts. See? The latest game driving me to mainline Webster’s while eight-balling Roget’s and Oxford is Word Ace, which has the bonus of also inducing habitual gambling. The game plays like a cross between Scrabble and Texas Hold ‘Em: Players are dealt two letters, each with a score value, and bet chips (non-monetary; the game is free to play) as in poker. Five community cards are then dealt, again following the Hold ‘Em mode, and at the end of the hand the player whose word scores the highest takes the pot. It sounds silly. It is, in fact, very good. If you have even the slightest inclination towards language and the like, this game will consume your every waking moment. I had to eventually remove Word Wrap from my phone, because it was starting to really drive me nuts. Word Ace is most likely not coming off for a while. I just wish it would add “look into booking padded room” to my to-do list for me.
Catch you folks later.