Dragon Quest V is one of the most important role playing games to ever be released. Despite this, it has been a near unknown outside of Japan. Enix struggled to establish any sort of long term foothold in the North American gaming market. They were a bit more successful in Europe, enough to keep the doors open through the mid-90s. Translating RPGs is a long, expensive process, and Dragon Quest was the company's flagship series. The first four games on NES were all localized and released, but the process likely started too late. Japan got to see the full, natural evolution of these early Famicom RPGs, while the Western games were jumbled. They released a few years after their initial release as well. Japan originally saw the first Final Fantasy releasing two short months before Dragon Quest III. In the timeline of Western releases, Final Fantasy actually beat Dragon Quest II to market. Being a full game behind made Enix's games look that much weaker once they released internationally.
A big promotion with Nintendo Power got a lot of copies of the first Dragon Quest game circulated in North America, but the sales of each subsequent game in the series just fell. The later games in the series were also hurt, since they were released after the Super Nintendo's release. The early games in the series were like building blocks, introducing more core mechanics with each subsequent game. By the time that Dragon Quest V was getting ready for release, all these pieces were in place, and the focus on telling the personal story of the heroes became even more prevalent.
So for some reason I started thinking about PS2 games that could go online. I decided to start researching which ones might still have their servers online, and I found a pretty awesome site: http://www.ps2onlinegaming.com/ which is apparently still pretty active. I also did some poking around elsewhere and found that it was quite possible for me to take my PS2 games online even using my 60GB PS3. Considering how many of us have large collections of PS2 games, I thought it'd be fun to organize an informative guide outlining the process of getting online, and which games are still online so that we can all try to play some last-gen games together live.
Like many game collectors, I truly enjoy thumbing through pages of old gaming magazines. There's something really fun about putting yourself back into the context of the time when the magazine was published. This week I got Issue 91 of PSM in the mail as part of a trade. I was thrilled to open the sealed magazine for the first time since its publication in December of 2004. As such, I thought I'd share some key pages with you.
(Spoiler: PSM in 2004 definitely liked boobs. You've been warned! See you after the jump...)
There's a lot of talk right now about the new PS3 release of Mortal Kombat. And though I hate it when a game re-uses a title, rather than just being a proper sequel or spin-off, I have to say that everything I've heard about this new reboot of the series is rather exciting. I was a big fan of the original Mortal Kombat on the Genesis. Of course I was also fourteen years old at the time, so any game that came with a warning to parents and a "blood code" was going to be great in my book. Hindsight actually tells me that Mortal Kombat was a pretty lousy game. But hey, I'm not going to ask for the hours spent enjoying it back. In fact the second and third entries in the series actually turned out rather good. Enough so that I can still revisit those with no reservations. But sometime around the fourth, I just stopped caring. Or more precisely -- when the fourth game came out, I just stopped caring. I'm just not a big fan of 3D fighters, so any transition that a classic 2D game makes to 3D is going to feel suspect to me. It's funny, but true. I'm more prone to enjoy a 3D fighting game if it never originated in the 2D realm. Call me silly. I am what I am.
And that brings me to another point. I am what I am. And what I am is a total sucker for bonus discs. Now I don't mean like a demo disc tacked on and call it a day. I mean serious extra material. Stuff that makes your collection glow a little brighter. And although I'm not all that into Mortal Kombat: Deception or Mortal Kombat: Armageddon on the PS2, I am a bit of a fan of the premium editions released for each. You see strangely, the bonus discs and extra content actually seems to be a much bigger gift to fans of the series than either game can rightly claim to be.
Mortal Kombat: Deception's Premium Pack is actually a pretty cool package. Its outer cardboard box opens like a book and houses two DVD cases. The first disc houses the standard version of Deception, the better of the two Mortal Kombat titles we'll be discussing today. In fact, rumor has it that it's possibly the best 3D Mortal Kombat title to date. Of course, I don't know about all that. I just know that it has a similar feel to me as DOA: Hardcore, which is something I can deal with. Though I did find the addition of weapons a bit odd, and maybe reactionary to the success of the Soul Calibur series, I really can't say that I had any issues with Deception in the grand scheme of things. Sure it's missing that classic 2D feel that I grew up with, but as far as 3D sequels go, I could point to far worse examples.
Besides classic Arcade Mode, there's also a Konquest Mode which is a surprisingly good tutorial that's set up like an adventure. You must train and win fights based on certain goals -- all of which are there to help you learn the game. Really kind of a nice addition.
There are also several bonus games included with Deception. The first of which is a game entitled Chess Kombat, which is (in case you're really thick) a cross between Mortal Kombat and chess. To a certain degree, this could have been brilliant. It could have just been a game of chess using MK-style visuals -- a middle-finger to those who say that there is nothing cerebral about the series. But sadly, Midway dropped the ball on that idea. Instead they offer chess which requires you to then play actual MK battles in order to see which piece takes each square when colliding. Perhaps the strangest thing about this is that the battling is what ends up feeling tedious, as it breaks up the concentration of playing an actual game of chess. So although it's high-action, it tends to disrupt the strategic flow of what could have been a very cool looking chess game.
The next additional game is Puzzle Kombat, an unabashedly obvious rip-off of Capcom's Super Puzzle Fighter II which uses the same format of super-deformed characters duking it out via dropping gems. Sadly, Puzzle Kombat just does not have the same level of perfection. Instead, it comes off as a pretty sub-par puzzler, made only slightly fun by the fatalities at the end of each match. It's sluggish and stiff and really not a fun puzzle game, instead feeling like a bit of a chore to get through.
The bonus disc is really where Deception's Premium Pack shines, though. Even though I pointed out that the original Mortal Kombat is really not a great game (it's certainly the worst of the original trilogy), there's no denying its importance to 1990's arcade history. Unfortunately back when Midway released their Arcade Treasures collections on the PS2, the emulation for Mortal Kombat was a bit buggy. Though both the second and third games were included in Volume Two, the original MK was left off. As such, this Deception bonus disc is the only way to obtain the original Mortal Kombat on the PS2. And really, it's a rather good emulation. I have no idea what it was specifically that held back its release on Midway Arcade Treasures, but it is nice that Midway cared enough to get it right.
The disc also contains some nice video footage. Not only is there twenty-five video character bios, but there's also an interesting documentary on the entire Mortal Kombat series leading up to Deception. If you're a fan of the franchise, or just a video game history buff, then in many ways this documentary will mean more to you than the entirety of the first disc altogether.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon followed close on the heels of Deception. However it was widely panned as a major low-point for the series. This is major considering the existence of Sub-Zero Mythologies. As far as the fighting goes, it's somewhat similar to Deception, but just not quite right. It's hard to put a finger on, but it's just not as comfortable to play. And then there's the odd omission of Fatalities. Seriously.
Luckily the focus of this blog post is actually more about the extras in these editions. Much like the Premium Pack for Deception, the Premium Edition of Armageddon has a lot to offer. The limited edition packaging this time is a thin, metal casing similar to that of the Premium Edition of Final Fantasy XII. Konquest Mode makes its return from Deception, as does online play and even an addition of a Kreate-A-Fighter feature. Of course the value of all of this will rely heavily on how much you enjoy the game proper.
The first bonus game on the first disc is Motor Kombat, a ridiculous Mario Kart clone. The game actually doesn't play too bad. And it offers up some nice graphics to be fair. But strangely, like Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat before it, Motor Kombat just feels slightly off and boring. The intentions are obviously good, and the effort is evident. But something is just not right, and instead of getting into each race you tend to loop around each track wondering when the game will finally give the sweet relief of ending.
Though the extras on Armageddon are far less in number than on Deception, the remaining ones on this set actually far outweigh the main game. Perhaps the biggest draw being the other bonus game on disc one: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. In truth, this game will probably give you far more enjoyment than Armaggedon. The roster is huge. The sprite work is great. It plays excellently -- oh, and this is the only way to obtain it on the PS2.
The bonus disc is somewhat anemic, however. It's actually a DVD rather than a PS2 DVD-ROM. And though it offers three bonus features, two of them are in regards to character "trading kards." The far more interesting inclusion is that of a documentary on the history of fatalities in the series. Here you get to hear many of the games' creators discuss the origins and making-of many of the franchise's favorite finishing movies. Babalities, Animalities, and so on -- they're all addressed. To a certain degree, this is my favorite part of this entire set.
Well, that was slightly exhaustive and yet I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. So what do you all think about these games, these editions, the series as a whole or the value of bonus discs? Remember: discussion is like exercise for our brains!
King Of Fighters 98 was the game chosen for February's Together Retro game club title over at http://Racketboy.com. Though I'm a fan of 2D fighting games, the King Of Fighters series always seemed tough to keep track of as far as I was concerned. And even after putting in plenty of time to research it for the month, it came across as no less daunting of a task. Even this particular entry in the series was released and re-released multiple times, often with alternate titles (KOF 98 is even titled 99 on the Dreamcast!). However, I did my best to wrap my brain around it and put together some thoughts for your amusement dear readers.
Because I've been heavily concentrating on collecting PS1 and PS2 games lately I decided to devote most of my playing to King Of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match. Though even then there was a decision about which PS2 version to buy seeing as how KOF 98 was also featured on a compilation disc called King Of Fighters: Orochi Saga. In the end I chose Ultimate Match based mostly on the fact that I could find the game for a bit cheaper, it apparently contained more characters, and it included a nice KOF poster and bonus DVD. I'm a total sucker for "extras."
I have played a fair share of SNK fighters in the past -- namely Fatal Fury -- but all in all, I'm a lot more familiar and comfortable with Capcom fighting games. As it turned out King Of Fighters 98 played completely differently. The biggest thing for me to get used to was using three fighters out of a pool of characters that I really wasn't familiar with. This proved to be an especially daunting task to me, as I was used to the concept of choosing one character and familiarizing myself with their moves by experiencing lots of fights as them. Instead I was forced to pick three fighters from a huge roster and try to grasp how to use each.
The team that I created is pictured above. First I chose Terry Bogard, based totally on the fact that he was who I often used in Fatal Fury so I was pretty familiar with his moves. Then I chose Mai, because she's fast and has a rather fan favorite animation. And then finally I chose Choi because well... he reminds me of Freddy Krueger. Terry is pretty good. Mai is definitely awesome. And Choi is mostly crappy but fast. So whatever.
I'm still not really sure if the fighting system is just too deep for me, or if the AI is too cheap for me, or if years of Capcom fighters have just left me a total idiot when it comes to any other fighting system, but I just could not seem to make it far in King Of Fighters 98. Generally I'd do really well for one or two fights, but by the third I was just getting completely destroyed. But what's odd is that I didn't find it to be a fun challenge. Instead I just found it annoying. Perhaps a big problem is that I could never quite find a third fighter to get good at. Though Choi was usable, I wasn't great with him. So really I was hoping to beat all three opponents with just Terry and Mai.
Though I didn't love the game itself, I am still impressed with the wonderful graphics. All of the fighters are just drenched with character. It's all so very SNK. Also playing the game to the point of aggravation did unintentionally re-kindle my love of Capcom Vs SNK 2. In fact, I even started using Mai in that game -- adding her to my team of Morrigan and Chun-Li. Oh and speaking of Chun-Li, I was using her Street Fighter II anniversary fighting pad to play the game, which did lend a level of comfort.
Since last week I went with a very well known title in horror gaming, I figured I'd go for something a little bit more obscure, and a bit more mellow. In fact, this odd futuristic ghost story is more sorrowful than anything else. That doesn't mean it's without it's freakier moments, but the gameplay in this title doesn't have all the big action sequences of other titles. It's also the third in the Echo Night series, so if you're familiar with those, you should know what to expect.
In Echo Night: Beyond, you play Richard Osmond, a passenger on a space shuttle heading to a small lunar base. His fiance, Claudia, lives there, and it's their intention to marry once he arrives. But things don't go according to plan. His shuttle crash lands, colliding with the very place you're trying to get. Richard awakens to find himself alone in the wrecked shuttle. He decides to grab a spacesuit and enter the base to find Claudia.
Unfortunately for Richard, it appears everyone inside the base is dead, the power is out, and ghosts are wandering the halls. To progress in the story, you'll have to find various items and appease the wandering spirits so that their souls get released from this mortal coil. To do this, you'll have to talk to them, which is a bit unsettling as they tend to fade in and out depending on how close you are. There's also lots of backtracking in the game, which can become annoying, though much of the game takes place around a central junction, so nothing is ever terribly far away.
So, you're wandering in the dark, there are corpses everywhere, and their ghosts are wandering around. Could it get worse? Well yes, actually. You see, there's a bizarre mist that has spread throughout the base, making ghosts that inhabit it hostile, and if they get near you for long enough, your heart rate will spike and you'll go into cardiac arrest. This means two things: every encounter can be fatal fast, and your only options are to run away. There's no camera to fight with, no proton packs, no nothing. Instead, you have to sneak past them and pray one doesn't find you.
Also, the game's first person view really adds to the tension here, because these ghosts just have to be near you. You don't have to see them, and likely you won't: as your heart rates goes up, your vision blacks out. It can be a harrowing experience to enter a room with one and suddenly scramble for the door, only to realize you can hardly see where you're going. And if you do see it, well...some of these things get downright creepy.
Still, ghosts register on film, so you can use the vast network of security cameras to watch their patterns and discover their routes, since most of them follow set paths. Note I said most: there's one ghost in particular that will stalk you throughout the game, and he knows when you're using a security camera. Whenever you look at him he's got a nasty habit of looking back at you.
And then there's the atmosphere: you'll spend a good chunk of the game wandering around with just a flashlight, though it's not as bad as when you wander outside in my opinion. Once outside, there's little gravity so you jump really far, and the lighting gets a bit odd. The first time outside, I nearly threw myself off a cliff into a crater. To make matters worse, there are quite a few jumping puzzles while outside, and you do still have to look out for spirits.
The lack of action might bother some players, so this game definitely isn't meant for everyone. But if you're a fan of the old point-and-click adventure gameplay or enjoyed titles like Penumbra or other first person horror games, such as Juggernaut, D, or Hellnight, this may be right up your alley. And as an added bonus, it saw release in all three major regions, so getting it shouldn't be too difficult. Just be aware that in Japan it's known as Nebula: Echo Night.
Here's the post that makes the weekly release list look like child's play. The black friday deals! For those of you in Euroland or where ever and don't know what Black Friday is, it is the day after Thanksgiving here in the US in which all the stores try to get people to come in and buy stuff for Christmas by offering insane deals. Of course, many stores entice gamers to come in and get stuff, so here's what's being offered this year. Before I get into it, I want to give props to cheapassgamer.com, bfads.net, and blackfriday.info for all the information found in this post.
Please note that the deals in bold are the ones I recommend most of all.
To get started, choose a store below to see what they have to offer.
Ed Note: Damn, this one hell of a well written, thorough review. I encourage you all to read this up.
I haven't listened to any Pink Floyd since quite a while before I re-ripped it at 320kbps. I'm now listening to some of it through the headphones I got for my birthday in November. It sounds so good.
The headphones are called Sharkoon X-tatic 5.1, I think rebranded as Tritton AX360 in the USA. I got halfway through writing a review of them but moved on, as I always do. I'll discard that one and start fresh...
So, it's simple, I guess. Almost too easy. Want your collection to be featured? All you need to do is upload some collection photos and voila! You're instantly in the running for a featured collection. That said, let's talk about gorez's collection. As we can see from his photos and collection profile, gorez is primarily a Genesis collector, followed by the PS2. He also owns both the Featured Game and the greatest hits version of the Featured Image. Now only if he owned the Featured Hardware, or as we like to call it, the George Foreman Grill. It's black, it's beastly, and unlike the current models this PS3 has not be neutered. Or spayed. Hell, we'll just call the new models castrated. Such a strong word. That said, gorez has entered the current generation in the Microsoft camp, with his 360. I bet his favorite game is Sneak King. That or Viva Pinata. Who knows, certainly not me.
So, the featured game is Dark Cloud 2. It apparently is a good game. I couldn't tell you though, as I have not played it, but my brother has, and he has a wonderful review written. Check that out.
So, features. Huhzah! Stay tuned to see what new features we have next week.
Tiger Woods 2008, released on multiple platforms this past September by EA Sports, has endured a beating normally reserved for rent-a-cars on most forums. Most of the complaints revolve around game freezes, instable EA online servers, lack of character clothing options and most importantly the hair-trigger analog controls. To the delight of old-school gamers, and possibly a welcomed addition to frustrated analog video golfers, EA (Electronic Arts) has brought back an old friend, the 3-Click swing meter. This article is not necessarily a full review of Tiger Woods 2008, but more of reflection on the reintroduction of this swing meter interface.
I admit I am an older gamer, and have been a fan of video golf games for some 30 years. I started out playing Computer Golf for the Odyssey II at home and Birdie King at the arcades. I was thrilled with the evolution of the golf game genre on all platforms including Big Event Golf (arcade), the PGA Tour series on the Sega Genesis, and the Links series for the PC. My virtual golf life ended with the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001. The new analog stick swing interface replaced my tried and trusted ways. This was devastating for me. I did not have the time (due to work), to master this new video swing technology. I became frustrated since my drives off the tee went only 167 yards and usually in the trees or the muck bordering the fairway (on a good day, it being my fairway). Sure, there was Swing Away Golf for the PS2 that was the one game that still employed the 3-Click swing meter for the next generation systems (at that time) . It was just not the same game as my beloved PGA Tour series.
I first downloaded on the Xbox 360 the demo of Tiger Woods 2008 once I read that the 3-Click swing meter was brought back from the dead. Obviously I was very happy to be reacquainted with an old friend. I could once again compete off/on-line with a certain degree of competency right away. Naysayers will argue that the 3-Click swing meter makes things too easy and does not truly test the video golfers skill. I can not say that I completely disagree with this. However, EA did reopen up a market to all of the people that grew up playing and loving the original PGA Tour series.
Most of the complaints on this game have been addressed through two (2) game updates. Remaining issues mostly revolve around computer player AI and online play/server performance.
Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying Tiger Woods 2008 (Xbox 360 version). Though there are some problems with it, the reintroduction of the 3-Click swing meter has made me a born-again follower of the series.
Life on the links has been revived for us old-school video golf gamers!
This week we are taking a look at the Music and Rhythm genre. Our featured game for the week is Amplitude for the Playstation 2. This is a very unique game that has a ton of replay value. You are basically a DJ that takes the layers of songs (Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, etc.) and puts them together to make the track. It is a fast paced game that relys on your musical ear and rhythm.
The image that we are featuring is from the Nintendo DS game, Elite Beat Agents. This is undoubtedly one of the best Nintendo DS games to date. It is basically like DDR in your hands! Don't believe me? Try it!
Our featured hardware is the Playstation 3 Bluetooth headset. This little product retails for a modest $49.99 and will also work with any cell phone out there that is Bluetooth compatible. This is obviously used for online communications. Now sure, your current bluetooth headset will work with the PS3, but the red and black colors really set this one apart.
The collection that we are featuring is from Tretiy. Now, he may have a small collection, but he has goals, which I like. Take a look at his collection page to see what he has in mind for the future. I think it's great that he has found a home here!
Well, that's it folks. Until next week, keep it tuned in to channel 3 here at RFG!
In a completely unsurprising move, Rockstar has edited their latest offering, Manhunt 2, down to M standards. Along with the M rating comes the usual content descriptors that Rockstar gets for their games: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Use of Drugs.
In the press release, Captain Obvious (aka Strauss Zelnick, Chairman of Take-Two) stated the obvious: "Manhunt 2 is an extraordinary game, and we eagerly anticipate its release in North America." As opposed to "Manhunt 2 is a horrible game and we dread it's impending release in North America."
There is no word from Rockstar on what exactly got cut from the game so it could receive a Mature rating. I think it would be interesting to find out what they cut, or maybe even have a release of the unedited version on PC where AO titles are allowed.
The edited game is currently slated for an October 31st launch on Wii, Playastion 2, and PSP in North America. Rockstar has not stated a release date for other regions around the world as of yet.
Well, I did it. I broke down and got myself a PS3. Bad idea? I don't think so. The first game I played has captivated me! That's why this week's featured game is based on this game.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is one of Playstation 3's saving graces. While not a game that will sell a system, it is a game that shows some of what the hardware can do. The camera work is wonderful, the voice acting is wonderful, and the controls are wonderful. That makes this game, well, wonderful! I love being able to run along walls, run on water, and heck, even cut off some guy's head! Check this game out, you won't be disappointed.
The featured image is for Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo NES. This game is one of the games a lot of folk remember from their childhood. Everyone remembers the boss when they first see him. All of the ninja classic items were found in this title, including throwing stars and katanas. Take a look at it again. You'll be surprised at how much you remember!
Our featured hardware is the Playstation 2 GTA3 pack. This was a great buy for racing fans and non-racing fans alike. Not only did you get a PS2 system, which some argue is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you also got one of the most realistic racing sims ever made.
Lastly, our featured collection belongs to Silent_shadow. This collection is full of games. Lots of Sega, Nintendo, and Microsoft games! Take a look!
Well, that's it folks! Have any suggestions on what you'd like to see featured? Send me a message or an email! Maybe I can get my hands on it and get it on the main page! Check out the featured thread and leave some comments! And always, keep it tuned in to channel 3!
Fresh out of Comic Con 07, comes a sneak peek at Capcom's new Phoenix Wright inspired attorney game based on the hit Adult Swim show, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law. The game comes out this fall for Sony's Playstation 2 and PSP systems.
I remember when I first heard about the game this past spring, I was worried about how it will turn out, but I think all my concerns have been erased by this gameplay demo. The graphics are flat and 2D, the voice actors are there (oh dear God let Stephen Colbert be in the game), and it's funny. Of course, the cameo of Guile of Street Fighter 2 fame in the jury in that clip sealed the deal for me. I'm so buying this game on release day...and Aqua Teen Hunger Forice Zombie Ninja Pro-Am.
Rockstar's latest has joined the ranks of Thrill Kill, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Uncut and Uncensored, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the first version), Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy: Director's Cut, and Playboy the Mansion: Private Party. Like these games, Manhunt 2 has received the ESRB's highest content rating, AO (Adults Only).
Now, Rockstar has to make a very important decision concerning their game. They can either release the game with the AO rating and risk not having the game sold at stores like Target or Wal-Mart, appeal the AO rating, or edit the game and resubmit it. A representative for Rockstar told Kotaku that they have not made a decision yet, and are considering all the options to get this game released.
This is the second big blow to the game today. Earlier on in the day, RF Generation forum member, James, reported to us that the BBFC rejected Manhunt 2, which means that it cannot be released in the UK and Ireland. Here is a link to James' thread on our message board.
Obviously, Rockstar and Take 2 are in a very tough place right now. Their game was banned in the UK and Ireland, and is not going to be sold at the biggest retailers in the USA. My advice for Rockstar: release the AO version of the game to retailers that will accept it, and give the rest of them a cut down M rated version of the game. That way, the creator's original vision will be available to those who search it out, and if you can't find it, you can just as easily buy the edited version. This practice is used very often with DVD movies. They will released the normal movie as seen in theaters, and an unrated version that would have gotten the movie an NC-17 rating.
Manhunt 2 is currently slated for a July 9th release on Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii, and PSP.