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6/27/2012

Rig's Debut Trailer - Dead or Alive 5



A new character has been revealed for Dead or Alive 5. Rig is a Canadian Tae Kwon Do fighter who seems to be related to Christie and Bass in the story. He uses a lot of very cool-looking kicks in his trailer. We also get to see a new stage resembling an oil refinery, very cool shit indeed.

6/22/2012

Atelier Meruru is here!

My pre-ordered copy of Atelier Meruru arrived last night. With it, the trilogy is complete and the three games are sitting on my shelve. Sadly, I haven't had the time or real motivation to start them due to my fighting-game time and Skyrim and Final Fantasy XIII-2 taking all my single-player gaming time in the last months. But I'm really happy about owning such a rare trilogy. I usually talk to friends who are hardcore gamers like me and they don't even know the franchise exists, I find that extremely funny but sad because though I haven't played them myself, I'm sure they're very good and deserve more attention from the industry.

The final chapter of the Atelier trilogy has Princess Merurulince Red Arls, or simply Meruru as the main protagonist. She's a spoiled and stubborn girl with a high-pitched Japanese voice of those that some love and some hate, like Vanille or Rikku, who decides to become an alchemist and save the world and all that blah blah. There are returning characters from the previous two games like Rorona and Totori themselves and newcomers as well. I've read both good and bad reviews about it but the bad ones usually seem to be written by ignorant idiots who have Call of Duty as the standard for a "good game". Now, I know the Atelier trilogy is not the best ever and is very inferior to others out there, like Final Fantasy, Xenoblade and probably even Eternal Sonata, but the reasons why the game is negatively criticized by many reviewers are laughable at best.

I'd really, really like to get into the series but right now, Virtua Fighter 5:FS, Halo Reach and yes, Skyrim and Final Fantasy XIII-2 are still taking up all my gaming time. And now that I got a Vita I'll probably have even LESS to dedicate to Atelier. But I'm trying hard to be done at least with XIII-2 and Elder Scrolls to finally start Rorona. The main reason why I haven't just sat down with it is that I read all over the place that the three games in the franchise require a deep understanding of the alchemy mechanics, so it's not simply running around with the lolitas and their parties killing monsters and bosses. The games are actually about completing missions with weird alchemy recipes and finding rare ingredients all over the place. It sounds very interesting but to be honest, I simply won't play them if I'm not going to dedicate entirely on them. I mean, it's not like this is Lollipop Chainsaw or one of those other recent games where people just mash combos until the missions are done. 

But anyway, the games are there and with Meruru, I have yet another JRPG sitting around that I haven't touched at all. My backlog just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I'd like to finish all the games I have before the next-gen starts. I'll probably set that as my target. That should give me about a year or two. Anyway, check Atelier Rorona, Totori and Meruru's gameplay videos, reviews and articles all over and buy them, these games need support!

Mike gets the PS Vita!

In loyal tradition of a hardcore gamer, I bought the latest game system to arrive on the market. It took a while because I was saving money for something else but I'm finally the owner of a PS Vita. And I really couldn't ask for more because I got it with three games instead of the original two I planned to get because the local store actually included a title of my choice with the price I knew about so instead of paying for two separate games alone, I got those with an included one in the store's bundle, awesome!

After investigating a bit about the current catalog (which is filled with PS3 ports) I decided on Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, my primary option, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush, the best "original" Vita game. The system came with little battery so I didn't have much time to mess around with it other than set-up my PSN account and play a few minutes of Ninja Gaiden and Gravity Rush.


Gravity Rush looks very cool and feels really original. It's about a girl in a strange world who can control gravity to fight enemies and move around places. I only played it for about fifteen minutes or so, so I really have no idea about the game's plot and gameplay other than a few videos I watched before buying it. Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is another remake of the original NG1, one of my favorite games of all time. I completed the first two chapters in Hard with no problems. The controls feel a bit weird at first but nothing to get alarmed about. It plays the same as the Xbox and PS3 versions. Graphically, it is EXCELLENT but sadly, it doesn't include Japanese voices (at least the US version doesn't). But oh well, nothing can be perfect. I haven't opened Uncharted yet, probably will during the weekend.

I'm really pleased with what I've seen the console can do. It looks very good, much better than the 3DS. People all over the internet are talking about Sony dropping the Vita because it's not selling well but I personally think the machine can be a strong competitor in the handheld market if the good developers like Naughty Dog, Square-Enix, Insomniac or Media Molecule actually create good games for it like they did with the PS3 who everyone needs to remember had a catastrophic start as well. In fact, the PS3 started much worse than the Vita and look how it stands now.

But if the PS Vita does fail and dies (which I repeat, I really don't believe it will ever happen), I'll remember it for the things it did well and the good games it has where the developers worked extra-hard to make the system stand out and use all of its features to the fullest. I can't really wait for it to be able to play the PS1 classics I've purchased in the past and once franchises like Monster Hunter, Little Big Planet or Final Fantasy start showing up on it, the environment for the Vita will only get better. 

6/19/2012

My VF5FS experience so far

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is definitely the king of fighting games. It's simply perfect and I'm having a blast with it. The net-coding matches that of Soul Calibur V and probably betters it. With my so-so connection I have no lag AT ALL. I'm playing it in both the Xbox 360 and PS3 and seem to be having performance differences in each consoles. In the PS3 I usually just go for Ranked Matches or Player Matches to practice and there, I've been mostly using Aoi, Eileen and El Blaze, though this last one I haven't used in three days. In the Xbox 360 I play with my FreeStepDodge people and practice a LOT on unranked fights so I have a lower winning ratio and rank in the Xbox 360. I also focus more on Aoi (my real main so far) in that console.

The game is really vast and there's always something to get better at. I personally try not to pay attention to my win-ratio in ranked matches and force myself to play high-ranked players only but I get challenged by low-level players (like me) often and take the opportunity to try new things and see if they work regardless of trying to win no matter what.

In Aoi's case, I'm slowly learning how to keep pressure and implement her vast array of throws into my gameplay style. VF5 is a game where frame advantage matters much more than in DOA4 so I need to spend a lot of time in the Dojo (training mode) to see which strings land me +frames to keep the pressure on faster opponents like Pai, Eileen or Jacky. Aoi seems a little slow but the tools on her arsenal more than make up for the lack of speed. Another limitation I see on her, though I might be wrong, is her distance game. She lacks good moves to deal damage from a distance and poke but I'm trying to learn how to implement what she has. So far I think I'm doing fine since I'm getting a lot of wins against good players.

Eileen is another scenario. Comparing her to Aoi, she seems like a character from a completely different game. For starters, Eileen lacks sabakis, defensive holds and she only has about five or so throws. Yet, her array of moves is HUGE because she works interrupting strings with others without forcing her to return to her neutral stance, which make her seem like an unstoppable punching and kicking machine if used correctly. Eileen also has a LOT of jumps, crouches, dashes and backdashes that open even more strings for her and are really useful to avoid hits that would damage her otherwise. I'm really having a lot of fun playing and learning her.

My "third" character is El Blaze. The Mexican-like luchador is really really cool and actually works as a mix between a rushdown fighter and a grappler, but he lacks good defensive tools. He has a awesome array of moves, very strong throws and even a "stance" where he runs around to grab or strike his enemies. But I see some limitations on his defense. He lacks counterattacks and I haven't found many sabakis and good tools to take control of the match back in case he's being attacked too much. I could be wrong though since I'm barely learning him.

I'm interested in playing Akira, Jean, Taka-Arashi, Pai, Sarah, Jacky and Lau as well. They just seem incredibly cool and hell, who knows¿ I might end up maining one of those. The game is huge both offline and online and it works wonders for both the casual and hardcore crowd. I'm really happy about the reception the game has gotten so far. The online on both consoles is full at all times and from what I read, the sales's expectations were surpassed in only a week! This and DOA5 will definitely be my main games from now own. I just love it. And as I mentioned before, buying this for 45 dollars seems like robbing SEGA for having such a huge and great game at that price. I'm not an expert in Sega's franchises but hands-down this is the best game I've ever played from them, along with the other VF5 builds, Shenmue and Panzer Dragoon Orta.

6/18/2012

Kirby's 20th Anniversary pack announced and detailed

According to several websites all over the web, Nintendo will be celebrating the 20th year of the awesome pink mascot with the release of a collection like the one we saw last year for Mario. Andriasang is saying that the collection will come with six games:

- Kirby's Dream Land (Gameboy)
- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
- Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Gameboy)
- Kirby's Super Star (SNES)
- Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SNES)
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64)



The pack will come with an on-disc calendar, a soundtrack CD and an art book. The usual things included in Collector's Editions this days. Still, a great way to get your hands legally on the legacy of Kirby which, in my opinion has always been really underrated. Good news for Kirby fans!

6/12/2012

I got the premium DOA5 Alpha demo!

In a small contest on Free Step Dodge's Twitter account, I won a code to download the Premium demo for DOA5 for the Xbox 360. So I was FINALLY able to try out Hitomi and Ryu. I'm so fucking happy about it. Busa feels so different from DOA4 and Dimensions that I don't even know where to begin. He has a lot of new strings that connect to the ninpo stance, he also got new moves from the it and many launchers, stuns and juggles don't work the same as before or were simply replaced by something else. His Izuna holds are still there but as advanced ones so it's now much harder to get them right. People will have to simply stop whining at them now because they won't come out easily like in the previous games. His normal punch-hold animations are really bad-ass. He feels much slower than before so I understand why people were mentioning that out in the forums. Ah, he also got an air throw now a-la Tina, Leon, Spartan, etc.


Hitomi feels the same but faster in some things and slower in others. It's obvious that she was the less-completed character in the Alpha along with Hayate. She basically plays the same from DOA4/Dimensions but adapts to the sidestep system and all the DOA5 Alpha things in general. Her ears are huge! Thank God Team Ninja redesigned her for the E3 and final version because she looks a bit weird in the Alpha. Still an amazing and very, very strong character. I wish this had online play.

This along with Virtua Fighter 5:FS will cease my hunger for a good fighting game until I get my hands on the final version. I really feel like a teenager again being excited about fighting games. I was so disappointed in the last years by the 2D ones that I completely lost the feeling DOA (and now VF) are leaving me with. From here I send my regards and a huge thanks to Mr Wah and the Free Step Dodge people, THANK YOU! Dead or Alive 5 is a fucking great game!

6/10/2012

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown first impressions

I got VF5FS for both the PS3 and Xbox 360, the last and more-likely final version of the game introduces a lot of things compared to the Version B (PS3) and Version C (Xbox 360) titles available physically during the last years. There are two new excellent characters, a couple more stages and options to play the old ones and the old characters got tons of new moves. 

The game feels more like a Virtua Fighter 6 rather than an update for 5 because there are new modes like Score Attack and Challenge Mode which are very cool for solo play. Quest Mode, which I liked a lot, is gone, so the "simulator" of moving around arcades fighting random artificial humans cannot be done anymore. But the game makes you play online a lot and there are points to be earned to rank up with the "kyu" and "dan" system from before. You can save your replays and even create lobbies and fill them up with strangers and friends to play unranked matches like in DOA2U and DOA4.


The game runs very smoothly online, kinda like DOA4 and Soul Calibur V, the only fighting games I almost never have lag problems with (and DOA2U before them but oh well.... Original Xbox Live now dead and all) so going online to train and play ranked matches is definitely a viable option in VF5FS. Sometimes it's hard to get a good match because people keep repeating the same strings and make some fights boring but I've personally had good luck and found excellent players. The only problem I see is that there's no "Retry" option for the ranked matches so the game forces you to find a new opponent each time a match is over, just like in SCV, but faster.

Virtua Fighter is definitely the deepest fighting game franchise out there and possibly the best. At 15$ (plus 30$ if you want the HUNDREDS of customization items available) Final Showdown is simply a great deal and it's a digital game so there's no need to buy it physically or wait for it to arrive at a store near you. The game is excellent and much much better than the tons of 2D crappy fighters taking up the tournament scene now days. Hopefully and with out help, this game will make the franchise popular among players. I'll be reviewing it during the week

6/08/2012

FINAL FANTASY REALTIME TECH DEMO



This is a tech demo for the new engine Square-Enix wants to use for the future Final Fantasy games. It features an arabian-like town and music where some priest is summoning a dragon of some sorts and gets attacked by a bunch of rebels holding AK-47s. There's a very cool Final-Fantasy-like fight between lightning-wielding mages and the rebels that ends up with a pretty girl escaping from it. 

If the rest of the games will look like this, I'm sure it's gonna keep being the best JRPG franchise out there. I've always said it, Square-Enix knows its stuff when it comes to Final Fantasy and good graphics.

6/06/2012

Yet more Dead or Alive 5 trailers from the E3

Akira Exhibition.

Kasumi Exhibition

Zack Exhibition

Christie Exhibition

Tina Exhibition

DOA5 hype


Now, a more personal take on the day and the DOA5 announcements we’ve been seeing not only at E3 but in the last months, since Hayate and Busa were shown going at it in Shibuya until the three screenshots with Bass on them. I have to say that I haven’t felt this way since 2005, when DOA4 came to the Xbox 360. Dead or Alive is probably my favorite gaming franchise and it’s been like that for many years now. When I was little I used to LOVE Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct, then I went and had Unreal, Banjo-Kazooie and Zelda as preferred but since I met online gaming and understood for real what competing with others in a video game meant, I simply couldn’t turn my eyes away from Dead or Alive.


I understand completely the problems in the franchise, the lack of fame among the so called “Fighting game community” (which are currently kids spamming easy-to-do combos with top tier characters in MvC3), the problems with its mechanics, especially in DOA4 and the jokes on the sex factor in the ladies of the series but for me, DOA has always had a charm and appeal that no other fighting game has delivered to me, to the point that I’ve developed a really close bond to many of the characters like Jann Lee, Helena, Ryu and Leifang (my four favorites). In fact, since I stopped being active in DOA4, around 2009, I’ve went from one game to another, from Soul Calibur and Blazblue to MvC3 and Virtua Fighter looking for that emptiness DOA left when I stopped going online and having people to play it offline with, and I always end up loving DOA even more when I put the discs on my 360.

Each time a new DOA game was about to come out, I’d spend hours looking for info, screenshots, articles, previews and videos and thinking about which characters to use, how to learn, how to meet people to play online with and so on. I bought my original Xbox for DOA3, created my Xbox Live account for DOA2U, bought my Xbox 360 for DOA4, bought my 3DS for Dimensions and am now preparing for DOA5 which from the looks of it, will be a blast and definitely the best of the series. After seeing the new art style, the changes in the gameplay, the invited VF characters (which I always felt needed to take part on DOA) and people talking because of the game just like me, I get even more excited and sure that it will definitely be my main game for the years to come, even if I’ll have to play online for get real challenges and lessons.

Most of my best memories with gaming are with DOA3, DOA2U and DOA4 online. Like that time when a poster from the old DOACentral was mocking Helena for being “too shitty” and I handed his ass to him with her for more than an hour. Or when I got my longest winning streak of 73 matches in DOA4 against high-ranked players, or when I lost more than 30 matches in a row against the guy who was training me and I got really mad until I defeated him. If there’s a game I’ve always felt I’m really good with, is DOA. I like Halo, Uncharted, Virtua Fighter and many other competitive games but I have to admit that I’m simply not very good on them, either for lack of practice or lack of skill. But in DOA, I’ve always been good.

I mention online play a lot because it’s the only way I have of actually playing the game with people. I live in Venezuela and gaming here is either dead or people don’t pay attention to the good games except for very small groups that existed years ago but now went their separate ways. So I feel kind of trapped about developing my skills in Dead or Alive. I completely understand that fighting games online will always have lag no matter what and that offline should be the way to go but where I live, I simply don’t have anyone to play the game with and unless it has a very drastic and unrealistic impact on the industry, my country won’t see the birth of any real DOA players. So the only means I have of playing my favorite game with people are Xbox Live, PSN and plane tickets to another country once or twice a year if I make plans correctly and everything goes right. But I’m willing to do it as many times as my life allows me to because I truly love the game.


With my 26 years of age, I feel like a veteran gamer and I’m not thinking about quitting my hobby anytime soon. But expecting a Dead or Alive game makes me feel like a kid all over again. I haven’t done anything today besides watching the trailers over and over, analyzing the matches in the streams, reading articles and talking to fellow fans on Twitter and the forums. I feel that with my age I can definitely save up and fly to North America and Europe and actually get together with the guys I’ve met over the years and play with them. That’s definitely something I don’t want to die without doing. I’m really excited about the game and I’m buying it for both consoles to both support the series even more and be active in the two online interfaces without losing the opportunity to play with ANYONE who want to fight. Now more than ever the game’s motto is true: I’m a Fighter.

6/05/2012

VF5 needs love too!

Today is the release date of the digital version of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown for both the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game is supposed to be available now but none of the online interfaces of either console have it yet. According to the info I got in Free Step Dodge the game should be available in PSN in a few hours and in Live sometime tomorrow. 

The game is priced at 14.99$ for the game itself and two customization packs for 14.99$ each which make a total of 45$ for the entire package (or 3600 MSP if you want to get it for Xbox 360). At that price, it's simply stupid not to buy the game, also considering that the competition offers less for more money. If anyone wants to get their hands on the best fighting game ever made, the time is now. So ready your PSN and Live accounts for it and get online to fight!










I'll personally get mine with leftover points and wallet money I have in both my accounts so I'll most likely be active in the two consoles. In VF5:Online, the old Xbox 360 version of the game I reviewed some time ago, I main Eileen and have a little skill with Aoi, Pai, Jacky, Lau and even bits of Akira and Lion. Those are the fighters I'll be using in Final Showdown along with Jean, who reminds me a lot of Ein from Dead or Alive.


Dead or Alive 5 priced and dated!

Tecmo-Koei has just released info on the release date for Dead or Alive 5. As usual, the standard edition will be 60$ and it'll come out on Septembre 25th this year. There'll also be a Collector's Edition for a bit more price that will include an art book, soundtrack CD, eight postcards and ten metal plates. Besides, it'll come with a code to download 12 "Premium Sexy Costumes" which are, of course, bikinis for the girls. Take a look at the first pic released today, a pink bikini for Kasumi:



The first print runs of both the standard and collector's editions of the game will also include a limited code for "sexy costumes" for Kasumi and Ayane. So to guarantee having those I'd recommend pre-ordering the game way before release just in case. The "Premium Sexy Costumes" will later be available as a paid DLC in both Xbox Live and the PSN. 

Now, look at a gallery with the pictures released today at E3. They include Kokoro, Tina, Sarah, Zack, Leifang and even Bass!

































The Last of Us E3 2012 Gameplay



The Last of Us, the new game from Uncharted maker Naughty Dog. The game looks and plays awesomely but it really feels like it's still many many months away. I don't think the game will be out until at least late 2013. Still, it's very cool and even if its a "Zombie game" (which I admit I don't like at all), The Last of Us looks very cool and definitely the PS3 exclusive to look out for.

Halo 4 E3 gallery of screens