Monday, January 30, 2006

State of Emergency 2 to Retail for $29.99

State of Emergency 2, the follow up to Rockstar’s 2002 riot-simulator, is slated for a February release on the Playstation 2 and will retail for $29.99.

Although the original State of Emergency got mixed reviews and didn’t quite live up to the legacy of other Rockstar-published action games (GTA Series, Max Payne, etc.), I think that the main reason why many people were disappointed in the original was because it was released mere months after Grand Theft Auto 3 and most gamers were expecting a GTA3-calibur game. Instead of a huge game with dozens of hours of game play, they got a fun action/beat-em up that was high on fun though low on depth.

I honestly enjoyed the original State of Emergency. Maybe it was because my expectations were low, but I thought it was a fun, old-school style beat-em up that had a certain old-school charm that you will find rarely in games today.

A PSP version is also planned for a later release. No word yet on whether its going to be released for any other consoles, though the sales of the PS2 version will probably indicate whether there will be an Xbox or a PC port or not.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Can Be Taken Seriously?

About a week or so ago, posted an article about how Jared (from those infamous Subway commercials) has a “huge amount of hate” for Nintendo (the article was titled “Jared’s Six Inches of Nintendo Hate”, appropriately enough. When you read the actual source of the article, though, you would find out that Jared only said things along the lines of that playing too much Nintendo, eating too much fatty foods, and not exercising enough caused him to become overweight. He never mentioned once throughout the original article that he hates Nintendo or anything of that nature. Why would even post an article like this? I still have not come up with an answer to that question, though I’m guessing that the writer of the article (Dan Dormer) probably has poor reading comprehension skills.

Now, has made another huge blunder. They have been found guilty of possibly plagiarizing. Frequent visitors of the DOA Central forums have noticed that the Dead or Alive 4 Strategy guide posted on was stolen from the DOA Central Site with a few things re-worded in-between.

What I find funny about all this is that the EGM Editor-In-Chief, Dan Shoe, posted an article on his blog about corruption and shady on goings in the game industry. Dan Shoe is pointing fingers at other magazines and sources, yet is guilty of two of the biggest blunders in a popular game-related site in recent memory. Now how can we take, or any Ziff Davis publication, for that matter, seriously after this type of stuff happens? Simply put, we can’t. This doesn’t mean I will stop reading EGM or anything like that, because I find their mags quite entertaining, but I will take most of their information in the magazines with a grain of salt.

Maybe I’ll write an article about how the gaming industry is getting ruined by corruption, write some false information about game companies shortly after that, and then copy paste a few guides from Game Faqs. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What Nintendo Can Do to Improve DS Wi-Fi Play

After years of saying things along the lines of “Gamers don’t want to play their games online” and “There is no real demand for an online-enabled Mario Kart”, Nintendo has finally set up their own free online wi-fi service for their innovative handheld, the Nintendo DS (with Mario Kart being playable online, no less!). Although the service is very user friendly and runs quite smoothly, it still has a ways to go before being called the handheld equivalent of Xbox Live. Here are the things that Nintendo can do to improve the experience for gamers.

Add a lobby feature or a chat system. It’s hard to believe that Nintendo Wi-Fi for the DS is missing one of any online server’s key features – an option to interact or chat with the person you’re playing with, or to set up games and gab in a lobby. Maybe even voice chat would work ala Xbox Live. Hey, Nintendo, there’s a built in microphone on the DS – Use it!

Match up and play with people equal to your skill level. Instead of a feature that matches you up with players of your same or similar skill level based on your win/loss ratio, in Mario Kart DS you are randomly paired with four people. Who you are paired up with is not based on stats, they’re just randomly chosen to play with you. This is not a very good idea, as newer players are constantly getting pwned by players of superior skill level. This is one feature that Nintendo should have interpreted into the game from the beginning.

Hold Online Tournaments Simply playing and racing random shmucks from across the globe gets repetitive and isn’t very satisfying after an extended play session. Nintendo should really consider interpreting features that lets players play in online competitions. Hey, I’d love racing for an online-exclusive cup in Mario Kart DS, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and note to Capcom (if anyone from the company is reading this): MAKE A DS VERSION OF POWER STONE! Two screens and relentless action would make for some unique and exciting online battles. The game was multiplayer bliss on the Dreamcast – it should be no different playing online on the DS.

These things would definitely improve the online experience for all gamers who regularly play Wi-Fi on their DS. Lets hope Nintendo listens up and interprets some (or all) of these features into their fledging online service.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Review: Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits

Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Release Date: December 2004
Genre: Puzzle

Mr. Driller returns, and once again the fun is short-lived.

What type of game would you classify Mr. Driller as? While the closest genre you could put it in is the puzzle genre, it’s not a puzzle game in the typical sense. This is not a ‘falling piece’ puzzle game or a rotating one ala Tetris Attack (also commonly known for its variation as Pokemon Puzzle League) or Puyo Pop. Instead, you have to drill through blocks while avoiding blocks above you while looking for air capsules (as you cannot survive without any air in this game).

Mr. Driller has found himself on several platforms through the years, from his humble days as an arcade coin-op star to the more-recently released Mr. Driller 2 on GBA. This version of Mr. Driller, ‘Drill Spirits’, is definitely the best edition of Mr. Driller to date. Mr. Driller’s main problem is still here though, and after a few hours of playing, it’s painfully obvious: there’s simply not enough depth here to make the whole experience worthwhile.

There haven’t been very many changes to the game’s structure since the original Arcade version back in 99’. Unlike the other versions, though, you can now travel different parts of the world and dig through slightly different shaped blocks this time. Although it gives this game more lasting-value that any other in the series, there’s still not enough here to warrant a purchase. More variety, or even a mission mode, would have definitely helped this game out and gave it a ton of more replay value.

Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits is a fun game to play in quick bursts, but the lack of depth or feeling of you progressing and getting better at it make it get repetitive fast. Unlike classics such as ‘Puyo Pop’ and ‘Tetris Attack’, you’ll quickly grow tired of all the blocks. Lets hope Namco adds a bit more to the basic game play structure, or gives it new modes next time around

Rating: 6.5 (out of 10)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Blizzard Cans the GC Version of StarCraft Ghost

Blizzard has announced that their long delayed stealth-action game, ‘Starcraft Ghost’, will not be making its way onto the Gamecube. While Blizzard says that the game is still headed for Playstation 2 and Xbox this upcoming spring, ‘Cube owners will not be able to enjoy this potential-hit.

As an owner of all three last generation consoles, I can’t say that this affects me very much (I purchase all my multiplatform games on Xbox anyway). Blizzard was probably right about canning the GameCube version though. Most third party games don’t sell very well on the GC. Many gamers probably saw this move coming.

The thing is, are many people even really anticipating the release of Starcraft Ghost anyway? Blizzard has to realize that the PC and console markets are two different things. While you can delay a PC game for as long as you want and there will still be hype and anticipation for it, this is the console market. It seems a bit late for Blizzard to be releasing such a large profile title for any console this generation. Will anyone actually care by the time it’s released? I mean, come on. Blizzard’s been delaying it since 2002, and when the game was near-finished, they switch developers! With all the hype surrounding the next-generation of consoles and the Xbox 360, Starcraft Ghost might get lost in the shuffle.

The wise thing for Blizzard to do is probably considering pushing the release of StarCraft Ghost to a next-generation system. With all the money on the line and work put into this game already, that would probably be a very wise move.

Of course, if Blizzard actually releases it Spring 06’ and doesn’t delay it again, then it can be a great title for current generation owners who haven’t upgraded to a new system yet to enjoy. Even so, there’s no much of a chance it will be the big hit it could have been if Blizzard would have released it earlier. Of course, you would think more development time equals a better product, right? Well, we all know how Eidos’ Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness turned out, right? Even though Blizzard is a company known for putting more care and effort into their products than most developers, it is possible that they might force Swingin’ Ape Studios (who are the current developers of this long project) to rush the game at the last minute so they can get the product on store shelves in time.

Also, lots of long-delayed games appear to be outdated in the gameplay departments because they were developed during a time where there was a lower standard set. Do I even need to bring up Atlus’ Galleon, which has been delayed since 1999 and was released in 2004, and most people complained that it played like a PSX Tomb Raider from that same time period? Lets hope that’s not the issue here…

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ads in Games: Becoming a Bigger Problem

Do you like advertisements in your games? Activision certainly thinks so, as they’ve gone on record saying that gamers “want ads in their games’. Uh, we do? I really don’t mind when it’s a very minor part of a game or it actually fits in with the game’s world, but when it goes too far, that’s when I get annoyed.

The funny thing is, gaming’s largest company (financially), EA Games, is one of the biggest offenders of this.

All throughout Need for Speed Underground 2, you’ll drive throughout the open city finding certain stores. For the first minute you’ll see a Best Buy. Then a few minutes after that you’ll see a Burger King. A couple minutes later you’ll keep seeing both of them constantly popping up.

Now, if there were maybe only a few throughout the whole game I really wouldn’t mind. But having so many of these Best Buy and Burger King stores popping up throughout the game is simply unacceptable. Also, with another EA game, ‘Burnout 3’ (which is incredible, by the way), there are tons of ads for EA’s games in addition to the lame Axe ads. Really, is there going to be a huge ad for Tiger Wood’s PGA Tour in a busy city? Of course not! It seems very distracting and out of place. Now, the picture on top is when developers have overstepped their bounds.

Above is a picture from the popular PC first-person shooter, ‘Counter Strike’. Now, EA’s ads for their other games might have been annoying, but this is simply unacceptable. Game ads have been getting progressively worse throughout the years, and this is a new step forward for annoying game advertisements, though a big step backward for those who consider games as art.

When ad’s actually fit into the game world, however, I really don’t mind. In the Tony Hawk’s series, the ads fit into the game’s environment perfectly. Still, they didn’t enhance the gameplay in any way, and “small” ads like these could be a stepping-stone to bigger problems in the long run.

Ads: we see them when we drive to work, walk to school, read a newspaper, and watch T.V. Please just keep them out of my games.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Square Enix Publishing Grandia III Could be Either a Good Thing or a Bad Thing

Grandia II for the Dreamcast was a spectacular, top notch RPG. It was filled with memorable characters, spectacular dungeons, challenging puzzles. Perhaps, best of all, it was one thing that most RPGs weren’t: it was funny. You’d be hard pressed not to get a few chuckles after listening to the character’s hilarious dialogue.

Now, arguably the world’s most well-known RPG publisher/developer, Square Enix, is publishing Grandia III. Now, while the average gamer/RPG fan might think this is a good idea (a kick-arse RPG series is getting published by a company that is known for kick-arse RPGs), in reality, it can be either a good thing or a bad thing.

First, I’ll get the bad out of the way.

Many people flocked to the two Grandia games to have an alternative to typical SquareSoft RPG fare. Instead of serious, emotional, pointy-haired heroes, (which you’ll find in any Final Fantasy game), we got hilarious and though-inducing characters like Ryudo and Millenia. In my opinion, many of the characters from the Grandia games are more interesting than Final Fantasy ones (Sephiroth is a pansy!). In terms of design, the Grandia games may have seemed like typical Japanese-produced RPG fare, but beyond that you would find so much that was set it apart from the Final Fantasy games that it was amazing. The two Grandia games also did not heavily rely on CG cinemas as much as the Final Fanasy games (or any game by Squaresoft did). The game’s storylines unfolded in unique, interesting ways.

So, while you may be thinking that Square Enix is “Just publishing the game”, publishers required standards for them to publish the game. If Square Enix doesn’t like what Game Arts (the developers of the Grandia series) is doing with the game, they can demand for them to change features in it or they simply won’t publish the game. It’s as simple as that. Will Grandia III be more serious and similar to the typical Square Enix game? Only time will tell. But let it be known that they can be playing a huge role in how the final product comes about.

However, there is also and upside to this. When Enix’s U.S. devision was just a small company that would publish and develop some very good RPGs (such as the Dragon Warrior series, and, yes, the original Grandia), they did not have much luck having these games catch the average mainstream player’s eye. Enix was simply not a large company in the U.S. (even though they were a huge company in Japan), so they did not have much money for advertising and marketing these games. However, when SquareSoft and Enix merged into Square Enix in late 2002, things were looking better for Enix. Although Dragon Warrior VII did very poorly in sales in the U.S., thanks in big part to Square’s help, the most recent release in the series, ‘Dragon Warrior VIII: Journey of the Cursed King’ caught on with the mainstream and has been selling at a steady rate. This can happen with Grandia III. More players experiencing the series are certainly not a bad thing…

….But possibly losing what made the series so special in the first place can be.

Friday, January 06, 2006

GTA Liberty City Stories is now a PS2 Event

Many would consider Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories the reason to own a PSP. Well, it looks like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is making its way onto the Playstation 2.

"We are very pleased that we have been able to extend Liberty City Stories into the PS2 environment." says Paul Eibler of Take Two Software.

Liberty City Stories will be coming to PS2 sometime this year. Unless its bargain priced, then I probably won't care much about it (Though, like most games, I'll probably check it out when it hits the bargain bin). I've heard that its a step back gameplay-wise from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Plus, do we really need another console GTA this generation? I really don't think so. Add that to the fact that Gamespot said that GTA: Liberty City Stories is more like an expansion pack to Grand Theft Auto 3 than a full-fledged release, there is very little reason for someone like me to get excited.

How Much Would You Pay to Play Super Mario Bros.?

During summer 2004, when Nintendo announced that they were going to release classic NES games for the GBA for $20 a pop, I was truly baffled. I mean c’mon, most of the games released for it – Metroid, Excitebike, Ice Climber, etc. – were nearly twenty years old!

I must have not been the only one who thought that they were overpriced, as they did quite poorly in sales in the U.S. (in Japan, however, they proved to be quite popular). Nevertheless, there is one of those classic games that is now selling for over $60 on eBay.

Classic Super Mario Bros.

Yep, the game that most people with NES’s will pay for you to take it off their hands. The game that was already released a few years ago on Game Boy Color. To add insult to injury, the Game Boy Color version was far superior to the newer GBA Classic Series version (it not only had the original game on it, but a boat load of extra features as well).

You have to wonder why people are paying so much for this game on eBay. C’mon, if you really want Super Mario Bros. in portable form, you should at least buy it on Game Boy Color (cheaper, no less!), as that version is much better. Like Staind204 (a member of the forums) said:

“There’s a difference between being a collector and an idiot”.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Choice is Yours

Arseface. That is the nickname I have in Fable. The choices I made in that game are the reason I have it.

Playing through Fable, I realized how moral choices make the game much more interesting. Anything you do in Fable, whether it be good or bad, shapes your character, who he becomes, and how other characters in the game view you. That was Fable’s main selling point, and if sales mean anything, it means that gamers want more of this.

Need proof? Both Knights of the Old Republic games sold very well and had great critical acclaim. The Shin Megami Tensei games (Which were the first games to have this “Good or evil” feature) were cult classics in both the U.S. and Japan. So why don’t more RPG creators interpret this feature into their games?

The moral choices should be a standard feature in most next-gen RPGs. That really should be the next evolution of the genre. Forget hidden costumes and other worthless unlockables: a moral system would interest most gamers much more. Natsume’s Harvest Moon games haven’t been very intriguing or enjoyable to play since 2000’s Back to Nature. How about if you don’t take very good care of the farm or if you are not known as a very good person throughout your village, other characters look at you differently? That would probably regain some gamers interest who lost interest in the now-lacking series.

Moral systems: a standard for all future RPGS. I’m sure I am not the only one who would like to see this.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bubsy: That Evil Cat

There are lots of evil people in this world. I’m afraid that I am now one of them.

Why am I saying this? There is one reason, one simple little answer: Bubsy 3D.

Now, I've played lots of awful games in my day. T.J. Lavin’s Ultimate BMX for the PlayStation scarred me for life, and Drake of the 99 Dragons for the Xbox was a near unplayable mess. Still, as bad as those games were, none of them compare to how awful Bubsy 3D is. Looking around at the cheap pre-owned section at my local EBGames, I thought maybe I should pick up something for my little cousin. I then saw Bubsy 3D. Hey, the original Bubsy game wasn’t so bad in its day. It was a passable Sonic clone that most fans of platformer games would enjoy. So I thought "What the heck" and picked this game up, not knowing how truly bad it was. Before I gave it to my younger cousin, I decided to play it first. I didn't expect it to be that great, but Lord help me, I didn't think it would be this bad either. This game is simply unplayable. You can never tell what you're doing, the A.I. is virtually non-existent, and the whole game is buggy and ugly. This is one of the worst-looking 3D games ever.
You have to wonder what was going through the developers minds as they were creating this. Avoid this game at all costs. I'm an evil person for even thinking I should give this game to my little cousin. No one deserves the horror of playing Bubsy 3D. Not even Bin Laden himself.
Now thats saying alot. The sad thing is, its true.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Pro-Gamer - The Gaming News Source

Hello and thank you for checking out my new blog. This isn’t just another one of those useless blogs that means nothing. I won’t be typing in garbage such as what I just ate for breakfast, what I did today, personal information, etc. What I will be writing about, however, is gaming information meant only for the hardcore gamers. This is not a gaming blog for those who paid full price for True Crime: New York City. This is for the gamers who drive the industry forward.
Throughout the months I will be discussing issues in the gaming industry, great games I think you should check out, ahem…. Awful games… Basically, anything game related that really matters. Thank you for showing interest in reading the Pro-Gamer blog, and I hope you have as good a time reading the article as I did writing them.

-Ross, Pro-Gamer writer

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