Archives for April 2010

PING!: Red Dead Redemption

I had a passing interest in this game. It’s now on the “radar.” Giantbomb has a look at some online play.

If you don’t see the video, visit our living room.

Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills

I wonder how this virtual reality experiment would translate to the video game world:

Even in virtual-reality settings, men will take risks to impress the opposite sex.

Does playing with a girl (either in person or online, playing in a multiplayer setting) affect the way you handle yourself in-game? I know it has affected me.

Video Game Power Rankings #1

So I’m trying out a new, (hopefully) regular feature on the blog, the “Video Game Power Rankings.” What are the VGPR, you ask? Well, if you’re a sports fan, you’re familiar with “Power Rankings”. Done for just about any sport, on a weekly basis, Power Rankings aren’t a list of the best teams but which teams are garnering the most attention and mindshare. This is usually because they are winning (and therefore the best of the teams) but they go beyond that.

The other day, I was listening to the BS Report (a podcast by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons) and he was talking to Tim Goodman, a TV critic for the SF Chronicle, who does a similar Power Ranking, only with TV shows. I thought “why not do one for video games?” So this is a first stab a new idea. We’ll see how it goes.

The format will probably change as I do this, but the idea will be the same. The rankings will be based on a highly secret and detailed equation known only to me that will hope to capture the popularity of games and gaming topics that are occupying the mind of gamers. These topics will be gathered from blogs I’m following, conversations on Twitter and other community sources. I’ll start with a top five, but hope to build it into a top ten or even twenty. So on to the rankings:

1 (-) – Halo Reach – If you were watching TV Tuesday night, you probably saw the new HD commercial last night for Halo Reach. As if gamers weren’t excited enough for the multiplayer beta starting next Monday.

2 (-) – Ebert and games as art – This one probably would have taken the top spot if I posted it last week, but Ebert continues to claim games are not art. Bloggers and other gamers continue to disagree.

3 (-) – Splinter Cell: Conviction – The long awaited, retooled return of Sam Fisher has been met with mostly critical and financial success. I know I’m enjoying it. Even this “ill-advised” marketing stunt can’t slow down its momentum. I should have my thoughts/review up as soon as I finish the single player.

4 (-) – California’s Supreme Court A hearing about the sale of violent video games to minors bill that will. not. die.

5 (-) – Dead Rising 2 – A personal favorite here. I know it’s still three months away, but I’m getting excited. Not sure how I feel about “Case Zero” (other than “WOOHOO! Another Dead Rising game!) but Bill Harris calls it a demo.

Honorable Mention: The Korean Starcraft/Gambling scandal and Super Mario Galaxy 2’s 2D video.

This is a rough draft and I’ve noticed that it is console-heavy and absent of anything Sony related (unless you count the multi-platform games). This will change moving forward. Any suggestions or ideas where to go forward with this? Is someone else doing this already? Can you do my laundry?

Freaking Inkies–for a freaking good time

Let it be known that I have bought more games from the App Store than any other gaming medium this year. I’ve enjoyed each and every game. The winner so far? Tilt to Live.

However, this is not about that great game (that could easily be ported to any other platform, please!). This is about Freaking Inkies. Take the charm of Plants vs. Zombies, add a little bit of de Blob, and some precise tilt controls and you get this new game.

I love this stuff.

This Game You Should Play: Beat Hazard

Seizure inducing for the win

Pictures do not do this game justice. Beat Hazard by Cold Beam Games is a new entry in the music as game genre. You essentially fly a ship that shoots down anything that moves a la Geometry Wars. The catch? It’s all created by your music.

The Audiosurf of 2010

How does it work? Each song is a game. The game reads certain characteristics of your own music and then relays that as enemies on screen, their frequency, and the rate or power of your ship’s own guns. What this does is makes each song unique but each song plays exactly the same. Usually upbeat tempo (think trance) songs work best because there’s a lot of action. Sometimes it’s too much–it’s a blast. Have a song that crescendos? So does the action on screen. Is there a quiet pause after that crescendo? Uh, oh. A lot of enemies and no force behind your pea-shooter of a weapon. However, all is not lost.

Added brilliance

Instead of being a typical shooter there are a couple of neat innovations:

  • Shooting some enemies nets a POW reward. This in turn powers up your ship’s weapon.
  • Some enemies release VOL. This increases your songs volume and also draws more enemies to the screen thereby increasing your chance for failure and glory.
  • Little +1 symbols net you a score multiplier. (Oh, this game is all about points and rank.)
  • You can also protect yourself during the quiet lulls of the song by using bombs. They are a mechanic that is in every shooter: everything on screen is destroyed.
  • Your music generates bosses. Have fun with multiple bosses.
  • Of course, there are leaderboards. Always a win. Ranks too. Cumulative ranks. The higher you are the more perks you have at the beginning of each song.
  • Achievements.

Blue Light Special

So, where do we get it? It’s on Steam for $10 and can be had on XBLA indie for 400 MS points. The XBLA version is cheaper but there are a few more features (nothing major) with the PC version. The Steam version can be played with a mouse/keyboard combo or an 360 controller (only–but there are some simple workarounds for this).

Honestly, there are some songs that cause so much chaos on screen you have no idea what’s going on, but you do know what to do. It’s the best feeling to have your ship survive a huge onslaught of enemies, pulsing lasers, and seizure-inducing light effects.