Sunday, May 15, 2011

Assassin's Creed Prozzys

Well, it's been another long patch without a post. My excuse this time is that I've been busy the last few weeks. Graduations, moving six hours away, and finding a proper job have been killing me slowly. Let's have a Youtube video shall we?

Despite all that boring business I've finally got the chance to slowly play through Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I always forget how the series handles/glorifies prostitutes in unbelievably ignorant ways. Obviously, I don't know anything about prostitutes (please believe me Mom), but I'm pretty sure they're not all James Bond-type spies with lady bits like they're portrayed in the series. I think the "writers" in this skit from the British sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look must have been the same writers who work on the AC games.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Micro Reviews

Well after a short hiatus I'm back. I had spent the Easter weekend with my family and the first half of this week preparing for a job interview. Game Brew Stew is going corporate! Update: Not true.

We're nearing the end of April so I figured it's as good as time as any to summarize the games I've been playing this month. I was sad to see the fourth episode in the Back to the Future series not come out, but there are still two more days in the month. I also bought a 3DS which has been great fun despite the fact I don't own any 3DS games yet. Well, I still got plenty (aka too much) gaming in this month, so let's take a look.

Demon's Souls - I'm very late to this bandwagon, but it was still an incredible ride. You probably heard how difficult the game is. What's great about this aspect is it resembles an old school style of difficulty. You die, restart the level, and get a little further by memorizing the dangers ahead. If you've played Contra you probably know what I mean. Level design is beyond fantastic with worlds resembling Satan's nightmares. I might go as far to say this is the scariest game I've ever played.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation - I was surprised I didn't totally fall in love with this game. I'm a huge DQ fan, ok? HUGE. This DQ felt pretty standard and stock compared to the brave attempts at storytelling in IV and V. The story in this game has a neat concept. There are two almost identical worlds. One world is the "dream world" of the other. Citizens of the dream world often resemble the most perfect version of the person from the real world. However, there's no indication of which world you're in. Often times I was confused about the story because I couldn't keep track of what happened to who in which world.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta - The PSP God of War games have a lot to live up to and every reason not to. Developed by a different studio than the numbered games, Ghost of Sparta is a fun and unoffensive addition to the almighty series. The story in Ghost of Sparta suffers due to the plot not being completely clear, but the fluid gameplay is still there. Get the game solely for the scene where Kratos brutally beats a teen version of himself. It's pretty amazing.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - Here's another series I will biasedly defend for the rest of eternity. Fortunately for me, Birth by Sleep is a great game all around. The game goes beyond the limited scope of the other handheld KH games and could have easily been Kingdom Hearts 3. It offers a complete story, new worlds, new addicting combat options, and three playable characters. Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series and towards the end requires the player to remember a lot from the other games. Keep in mind some of those games are almost 10 years old at this point. Even if you look up the plot, you'll still find it hard to follow.

My favorite of the month? Demon's Souls is one of the best games I've played in a long time. Very few noteworthy games are truly this good. The game can be a sonofabitch at times, but also extremely rewarding. I think I had to catch my breath when I realized I had finally beat it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to play God of War: Betrayal + short review

Yesterday, I wrote about the odd story in God of War: Betrayal. In case you missed it, the game is a cell phone exclusive entry in the popular God of War series. Shortly after writing that post I found a way to play the game on the computer. If you're interested in this mysterious little game you'll want to download two things: MidpX and a file of the game you can find through a Google search.

After you install MidpX, just click on the game file to start it up. MidpX doesn't offer the ideal way to play the game, but I don't think there really is an ideal way to play this game or any cell phone game. As far as I can tell, there's no way to configure the keyboard to your liking . This means you'll be stuck using the arrow keys to move and the enter key to attack. If you practice finger yoga you'll be fine, otherwise you might feel some stiffness after a while.

Is the game actually worth the trouble? No, no, and good god no. It's got most of the things we associate with the God of War series, but none of the fun. You have the upgradeable weapons and magic, signature attacks, enemies, and finishers from the series, but no huge enemies or settings, no music whatsoever, and no combat. Sure, Kratos has attacks, but enemies hardly fight back. If you're hitting the enemy, the enemy can't hit back. Even boss battles feel like a one-sided fight.

Here's a tip to make the experience better. I recommend playing the soundtrack from the other games in the series to liven up the almost completely silent cell phone game. For better or worse, there is some audio. For some reason the developers thought Kratos' signature weapon sounds like a clap finished with a typewriter "ding." Totally badass, right?

Despite these catastrophic flaws, if you're intent on finishing the whole game then you'll only have to suffer for a little less than two hours. Uninstall MidpX, delete the game file, and pretend like none of this ever happened.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God of War: Betrayal's story is cray-cray

There's been some bizarre things to happen in the world of videogames. Things like the nightmarish toothy babies at the end of Drakengard, the CD-i Zelda games, and toad saying, "Mario, I'm really happy for you, I'm gonna let you finish, but the Princess is in another castle" are all widely known. A game that I've never seen get the "WTF?" treatment is an entry in the mega-popular God of War series.

Here comes the "Ohhh, OK." moment from you. The God of War game I'm thinking of is the forgotten cell phone game God of War: Betrayal. "Ohhh, OK." Can a game be forgotten if no one actually played it? I've only seen pictures and to be honest it looks pretty fun. A side-scrolling micro-sized God of War with graphics reminiscent of the SNES? Yes, please. Looking at screenshots reminds me of the super cool videogame "demakes" people have been creating.

With mild interest in the game I looked it up on Wikipedia to see where it falls in the series timeline. This is where things stop making sense. Under the God of War (series) entry on Wikipedia you'll find a general plot summary, "Kratos is framed for murder and rampages across Greece, seeking the true assassin. Kratos succumbs to bloodlust and kills Ceryx, the son of the god Hermes - an act that alienates him from his fellow gods."

This game is supposed to take place after the original God of War and the PSP-exclusive Ghost of Sparta. So, you're telling me after ten years of service to the gods and two games, Kratos is suddenly worried about being accused of murder? He's already a murderer a billion times over and there's still three more games to get through. I hope Kratos is emotionally prepared because that's a whole lot more killin'.

If you want a more detailed look at the story, the game's Wikipedia page offer a little more depth with equal amounts of stupidity:

Kratos - the God of War - is leading his Spartan army against Greece. While fighting alongside his warriors, he is attacked by a number of beasts led by the giant, Argos, who is sent by Hera to stop the war Kratos is waging. However, before Kratos is able to kill the beast, it is killed by an unknown assassin as a clear effort to destroy the anti-hero's reputation with the gods of Olympus.

So, wait, wait, wait, hold on, hold on. An assassin kills Argos and frames Kratos for the murder. OK, got it. Now, you're telling me Kratos was on his way to kill Argos, but the assassin beat him to it? Then that's not being framed, that's just being a little bit slower than the other guy. I don't know the exact circumstance, but Kratos is probably looking at an attempted murder charge on top of the couple thousand murder charges he committed right before the whole Argos thing. Why doesn't he care about any of that? I guess it just really pisses him off when he's "framed" for a murder he was about to commit.

The God of War series has always been kind of silly when it comes to the story, but I don't remember any of them not making a lick of sense. Well, it's only a cell phone game which is kind of like what the Expanded Universe is to the rest of Star Wars. Just pretend none of it happened.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My beloved Xbox 360

My Xbox 360, a resident in my house for the last four years, died on January 13. Its presence will be missed... kind of.

It's been three months since a violent internal struggle caused my 360 to keel over and die. Too insensitive? My system was born with a very common disease among its kind. The sickness comes in various forms, but my 360 was taken by the E73, more commonly called the "Red Ring of Death." I always knew our time would be short-lived. Now with the corpse beginning to rot and collect dust, I think it is time I complete the grieving process.

I could always pay a Xbox witch doctor/tech support guy to resurrect my 360, but I don't believe in that mumbo jumbo, especially when it costs $100. I don't know if spending that kind of money to fix a videogame system I have personified into an imaginary best friend is truly worth it.

At my request there is no service being held. Say you're sorry by sending me money and Pizza Rolls.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who needs videogame manuals?

Is anyone mourning the loss of the videogame manual? God, I hope not. It makes sense to ditch this redundant form of a tutorial for economical and ecological reasons. With two major companies, Ubisoft and EA Sports, already stating they are finished printing manuals, there are sure to be more companies to follow the trend.

Do we really need the manual? A good game should be able to tell you how to play as you play. I can't even think of a current game that requires the player to look at the little booklet for any reason. Even if there was such a game there's something called the internet to help you out.

As many gamers have said before, "Who reads the manuals?" Well, I unfortunately might have an answer and it involves stupid people. A long time ago, in a memory I've tried to block from my brain... I use to work at GameStop. To my dismay, I learned that some people don't take care of their videogames. I know, disgusting right? This means GameStop ends up with a lot of games missing a lot of manuals.

I started working at a GameStop around 2002. Back then, and even before then, I/most gamers stuck to the in-game tutorials to learn the basics. However, there were still droves of people who would pick up a game and not know what button makes the player jump. Many of them wanted a manual to make their purchase of a used game feel more like a complete package. OK, that's cool. Those people are excused. Then there were the flat out dim, inexperienced, groundlings who felt a game cannot be successfully played without one of those paper guides.

One teenage boy entered our dingy store on a beautiful afternoon. Me and my coworkers knew we were in the presence of pure perverted evil when that child of the corn wanted to buy a used copy of Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball for the Xbox. Armed with silver bullets, a garlic bandolier, and a Coke bottle full of holy water I went to retrieve the disc.

"There's no manual, is that OK?" I asked without making eye contact. I expected to hear, "Yeah," "Yes," "Sure," "That's fine," or the more common, "Why the fuck would I need a manual? You calling me stupid or somethin'?"

"How am I going to know how to play the game?" is what I actually heard from the little baby non-genius. My coworker and I were speechless for a long couple of seconds. We, maybe just me, were both thinking, "Are you serious? It's Greg Birdbrains Cheese Grater Paintball. If you have ever played a single game before then you DEFINITELY know how to play Greg Shitstains' Tournament Foosball."

My coworker politely spoke up before a single loud syllable could leave my throat. The teenage customer wouldn't dare try to figure out how to play the game on his own and left our store empty-handed. Unfortunately, he wasn't the first or last.

If I was still working at GameStop I would start a petition and ask the gaming industry to keep making manuals for the gamers who need them, but mostly so I would get less questions while on the clock. I'd gather Bono, Sting, some Jo Bros, and maybe some juggalos to come together and save this dieing medium through song and a couple billion dollars.

"Without anymore manuals," I would write in my letter to future Presendentator Arnold Schwarzengger, "There will be countless zombie-like gamers too clueless to get passed the first level in every game ever made. How will they know that the inviting shiny green and white flag pole at the end of every stage in the first Super Mario Bros. is not a bad guy?"

But I don't work at GameStop anymore. No more customers, no more questions, and, hopefully in the near future, no more manuals. Let's save some trees where we can. In the meantime, I encourage all those who need a manual to go to a GameStop and buy a brand new Ubisoft or EA Sports title and ask, "How do I shoot the gun?"

Greg Hastings Paintball 2 is out now for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pixel Cookies

Hungry? I'm always hungry. I've been trying out a diet where I stuff my mouth with carrots instead of bullshit. It's working out well. That was until I found out I could mix hip retro pixel art with sweet sugary cookies. I'm boned.

Crafty gamers have found the PlayDoh Fun Factory to be the utensil of choice when blending videogames and food. The toy is meant to be used with the included attachments that mold ordinary PlayDoh into different shaped logs. The magic begins to happen when you replace the Doh with dough.

Using the simple square shaped attachment will yield one "pixel" of cookie dough. Using food coloring, some graph paper, and a little bit of patience you can get some tasty space invaders.

What I love about this project is how easy it is to do. You see people making NES controller coffee tables, life-sized paper craft characters, or a working Portal Gun (not actually real) and you know you'll never be able to do that. When you think about the time those projects take, the amount of money you'll sink into it, and the level of skill it requires... forget about it. The cookies on the other hand are inexpensive to make and only take a few hours to complete. If my uneducated brain has done it then you definitely can.

Here's a detailed guide for the whole process. One tip that isn't emphasized enough in the guide is the amount of refrigeration required. You want your dough as cold as it can get so it doesn't stick to your other pixels and makes cutting a lot easier.

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