Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nintendo's Conference - 3DS Release Date & Software Lineup

It's hard to believe 2010's Tokyo Game Show took place a mere two weeks ago. Nintendo didn't have a particularly strong presence there, because they revealed they would have their own conference at the end of the month. Well, guess what took place earlier today! They announced the 3DS's release date of February 26, 2011 in Japan, while North America and Europe will have to wait until March. Also announced were software lineups for the remaining 2010 year and a little bit into 2011, which have all been neatly compiled into three videos below.

Not a whole lot that we don't already know about (aside from all the Japanese-only titles making us scratch our heads), but it's always nice to hype up with some gameplay footage, especially from the upcoming 3DS titles like Kid Icarus, Starfox, and Metal Gear. Also, there's apparently a new Kirby game for the DS in the works, as seen at 3:00 in the DS video!

Source: RPGamer

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Depth and Underwater Games

That is a video of a game called 'Depth: Aquatic Stealth.' The game takes place underwater with two teams. One team is made up of scuba-divers and they have to find treasure. The other team is made up of sharks and they have to defend the treasure by ripping the divers apart. Sounds like a great concept... right? Well, I think it is, though there is something that can make or break this game: the controls.

This game got me thinking about a question I ask often. Why don't we see games that take place underwater more often? (Not like Bioshock, I'm talking about games where you actually control yourself submersed in water.) I think it's for a variety of reasons, but mainly, it comes down to control and movement in a completely 3-dimensional environment. Sky-oriented games like Ace Combat are the same way, but there, you have a sense of gravity. If you've ever been scuba diving or even just let yourself sink in a large pool, it's like zero-gravity. There's still gravity of course, but it's force doesn't feel as strong.

I think the problem developers have with designing controls around an underwater environment, is that they haven't yet achieved that feeling of zero-gravity, of slowly drifting through a current, or sinking. We can see sinking and drifting achieved in some 2-D underwater levels, so why can't 3-D games do it? (Some probably do, but I haven't seen many examples.)

Mario can do it.
Maybe it's another reason... maybe as terrestrial animals, we're afraid of the depths, and many of us are. We rather look to the sky than to the sea. Up rather than down. I think because of this fear, developers don't make games that cater to people like me that often, the ones who would rather go scuba diving than sky diving. (Both can be equally scary if you ask me.)
The ocean: It's scary.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Video Game Soundtracks - Valkyrie Profile

I make it no secret that I love video game music, and I'm sure you do too. With what I'm hoping will be a regular feature here at PK Gaming, I intend to spotlight some of gaming's finest soundtracks and share a few personal favorite songs from each.

Today, I'll be looking at the game that probably started my love for video game music: Valkyrie Profile.

I regret never owning this game and instead getting my fix from constantly borrowing it from my friend. I especially want to smack my younger self now when I think how used copies of this game fetch around triple digits these days! Sure, there's a PSP remake, but it's never as good as owning the original thing, you know?

It shall be engraved upon your soul!

For those unfamiliar with VP, this was a Playstation RPG released in 2000, developed by Enix when they could do no wrong before a particular merger with you-know-who. What made this game so great were its dynamic battle and field systems and unique story and storytelling. Flying around Midgard as the legendary battle maiden Lenneth, collecting souls of the fallen and vanquishing undead and demons, all in the name of the Holy Law... Fun times. And who could forget the ludicrous voice acting! (Icicle Disaster anyone?) But above all else, it has a beautiful soundtrack that ties the package together with a pretty pink ribbon.

Composed by the amazing Motoi Sakuraba, who now has a very hefty resume including various Tales of titles, Star Ocean, and Golden Sun, the soundtrack to Valkyrie Profile may very well be my #1 favorite video game soundtrack of all time. Every song is diverse, full of emotion, and carries a sacred element in its sound that helps bring the divine justice out of the player.

To the Unhallowed Ground

Let us begin with a piece we hear with our first step into Valhalla, realm of the gods.

Distortions in the Void of Despair

You know you're in for a good RPG when your first dungeon sounds like this.

Behave Irrationally

The game gets very emotional at times.

Fighting the Shadowy Gods

Battle theme. Fast and energetic, just like the fights.

Blameless Thoughts

With the task complete, Lenneth triumphantly makes her way back to Valhalla.

Hope you guys enjoyed! Feedback appreciated!

Dan Teasdale's Speech and Analyst Stupidity

Editor's Note: Holy crap! Our own Primee133's comment is on about 2:03 of that video!

I came across this video about a week ago and it's great that Dan Teasdale (one of the lead designers of the Rock Band series) has joined an independent developer, Twisted Pixel, creator of The Maw and 'Splosion Man. But mainly, it got me thinking about the stupidity of video game analysts and the ridiculous opinions* of big name video game sites. Michael Pachter and GameTrailers comes to mind. A sample of this ignorance can be found in this video:

Real-Time Strategy games are single-player and turn-based? Are you sure you're a video game analyst?

*We are aware that there can be ridiculous opinions found on smaller sites such as PK Gaming from the editors and commentators.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Generation V Pokemon

Pokemon Black and White just released in Japan on September 18th, and with it, all of the new pokemon were quickly revealed due to imports and ROMs of the games. Serebii and Pokebeach got into a bit of trouble with Nintendo by posting the ripped sprites from ROMs on their sites, but as you know, once something is on the internet, it stays there due to obsessed fans. For those who didn't get to see the sprites, you can view most of them on Bulbapedia now.

For the lazy, here's a video I found on youtube of all 156 new pokemon set to the music of Michael Jackson's 'Black or White.' How fitting! :

(There are other videos on youtube, but I wanted to show this one because of the song, hehe)

Now here's my opinion on the new pokemon:

They're going to take a while to get used to, just like the 4th generation pokemon. A lot of them I don't like, but for every ugly design I see, there's a really kickass design to balance it out. There are couple of animals that I've been waiting for who have recieved representation this time around, a sea turtle and a feathered dinosaur, but there is one animal that I've been waiting for that STILL hasn't made it into the Pokemon universe: DOLPHINS. Seriously, 156 new Pokemon, the most that's ever been in a generation, and they couldn't put in my favorite animal? We have a baleen whale with Wailmer and Wailord, and an orca with Kyogre. Oh, and don't tell me, 'But orcas are technically dolphins, Paleo.' DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT? Gah! Oh yeah, and don't get me started on the people who tell me that Lanturn is a dolphin, Lanturn is an angler fish, you dolts!

Anyway... this is probably the only Pokemon article you guys will see in a while from me until the games come out in America. Until then, feel free to tell us your opinions on the new Pokemon in the comments.

Nitpicks About Gaming - Transitions and Yes/No

Games have come a long way ever since their first conception. From one of the first building blocks, Pong, to much more complex structures, such as Deus Ex and Ratchet & Clank. However, there's quite a few things which I feel is a step back for a lot of games, and should either be changed or removed entirely.

You're probably guessing that I'm gonna start ranting about regenerating health and perks. Those things are good when implemented well, and I don't see a huge problem with them. No, there's a lot more things that just need to go, mainly because they annoy me.

Right now the first thing on my mind is transitions between menus. Especially when you go into the options menu, and you have to sit through a three-second fade in/fade out transition whenever you select something. Tons of fun when you have to mash the cancel button just to get out of a series of menus, huh? Menu transitions should be instant and snappy, you didn't buy the game just to wait on it.

Another thing that I really hate is the Yes/No dialogue pop-ups. Sometimes you're not ready for them, and you suddenly pick the default option, and usually that turns out to be the wrong option. I'm pretty sure tons of people got fed up with accidentally selecting 'Yes' to the "Would you like to hear that again?" question. One game that handled this beautifully is Half-Minute Hero; the cursor was between the Yes and No options so you couldn't accidentally select the incorrect option. I wish every game did that.

Yeah, it's a 'But thou must!' question, but still.

Friday, September 24, 2010

25th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros.

The anniversary date was actually more than a week ago, but I thought I would talk a bit about it. This month, 25 years ago, Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan. It's the game that started a line of exceptional quality platformers, and you can see a glimpse of them in the video on the official anniversary site. (Though I wonder why they left out Super Mario Land 1 & 2?) They're also going to release a Super Mario Collection Pack next month in Japan, which will contain the first 3 games and the lost levels (I'm guessing it's just Super Mario All-stars), along with a history booklet and a soundtrack that has music spanning the entire franchise. Sounds like a nice package to me! I have a feeling it probably won't be heading outside of Japan though...

Like a lot of people my age and older (and even younger), I began gaming with Mario's mustached face. But uh... I have a confession to make. I've never beaten the original Super Mario Bros. (Apparently, a lot of people haven't...) So Mario fans, I invite you to join me in finally beating the game which set the bar for platformers!

Review: Metroid: Other M

What better way to start off the blog than to review one of the games that has been causing quite a stir in the gaming media! Now, I'm a big Metroid fan, in fact, it's my favorite Nintendo franchise. I've played every game in the series (except Metroid II: Return of Samus) and I just love the gameplay design in every one, even if... it's a bit familiar.

Before I get to the issue that everyone is talking about, let's just talk about the game. This Metroid reminded me a lot of Metroid Fusion, I would go as far as to say that this game is the 3-D version of it, because well... it copies a lot of things from that previous installment. Is that bad? Not really, borrowing concepts from a game in the same series that was released 8 years prior isn't really a problem.

The problem is, the level design. The environments are much too familiar, and nothing really jumps out at you. With the Metroid Prime games, the level design was brilliant, but for this... it's just... meh. BUT, with that said, I did enjoy the enemy/boss design. One problem with the level design in the game is the irritating issue of not knowing what to do kept coming up for me. It may just be me though, because others have breezed through the game without any trouble.

Now let's briefly talk about the elephant in the room: Samus. (I hope she doesn't think I'm implying she's fat.) She now has a voice and a bit more character development. Metroid fans went ballistic. I didn't really mind much of what they made Samus to be, but some fans are exaggerating the issue, saying that Samus has been turned into a whiny, emotional bimbo who can't function without the help of a man. All I hear is: "How dare they give Samus emotion! She should have a cold, robotic personality forever!" Now I may be exaggerating, but fans just aren't getting the point: Samus is human. We only knew some details about her history before, and now we get a better understanding of her character. Personally, I think it's a step in the right direction for Metroid's story, but it wasn't handled quite as delicately as everyone wanted.

The Verdict:

What I liked:

  • Enemy/Boss Design
  • Classic Metroid Gameplay
  • Throwbacks to prior games

What I didn't like:

  • Some of the level design
  • Only able to use missles while in visor mode
  • Who did what now? (Convoluted subplot)

An Introduction to PK Gaming

This blog is an idea that I've had for quite a while. It's not exactly a blog for news about gaming, but just video games in general. There will be reviews and such, on both new releases and past games, but mainly, the articles you'll find on this blog will be our opinions on the industry, game design and gamer culture. Both formal and informal writing styles will be seen.

More about us can be found on... well... the about us page.

I know there are a ton of video game blogs out there, and it's quite a broad topic, but stick with us! This is only the beginning...