May 31, 2009

The Simpson's Game

I was at Best Buy on Friday and saw The Simpson's Game for $9.99 (360).  Seemed like a crime not to pick it up, considering I'm a Simpson's freak.

Managed to play it for about 2 hours earlier today and it is not bad.  How much fun you get out of the game is greatly determined by how big a fan you are of the show.  Me, being a huge fan, am having a great time.  I haven't laughed this much playing a game since Portal.  The writing is on par with the great writing the show is known for.

Being able to explore Springfield and all of its landmark locations (Moe's Tavern, Krusty Burger, Springfield Elementary, Android's Dungeon, etc.) and even the Simpson home, is a fanboy's dream come true.  Everything screams authenticity, even though the layout of the actual town is shrunken down for obvious reasons.

Gameplay is a mix of exploration, standard platforming, simple puzzles and combat. Each Simpson member has their own move-set and special powers.  Nothing revolutionary, but it does keep things fresh.

The hilarious one liners from characters kept me in stitches and all the easter eggs thrown throughout the game world were great to see.  I enjoyed my play session, although there were several sections of extreme frustration coming from the game's controls and camera.  Sometimes making simple jumps or reaching certain locations is alot harder than it needs to be, because the camera refuses to cooperate.  This does put a damper on the fun factor.

All in all, for $10, it looks like a great investment.  Given that I haven't seen new episodes of the show in years (yes, as big a fan as I am, I never see the show on Sundays, just the reruns) I am enjoying getting my Simpson's fix through other means.

May 28, 2009


- Aside from occasionally popping in Professor Layton to take a crack at a puzzle or two, I haven't been doing much gaming lately.  Just waiting for Batman.
- Infamous has been getting great reviews, yet that game has never interested me.  Even now I'm indifferent to it.  Which means I will probably buy it soon.
- Haven't been able to check out Terminator yet.  Reviews have been mixed, but I still want to see it.  And even though he chews out lighting personnel, I think Christian Bale is a phenomenal talent.
- Marlins have won 3 out of their last 4 games.  The Apocalypse is here!

May 14, 2009

Wednesday notes

- I've been on the road the last few days for work.  Been to Ft. Myers, Tampa and Orlando since Monday.  My newly purchased DS was put to good use.  Of course, for some reason I left Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass at home!  D'oh!!  So, I spent some more time with New Super Mario Bros. and started Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  Prof. Layton is pretty interesting.  Some of those puzzles are trickier than they seem.  If you think you know the answer immediately, take a step back and really try to think outside the box.  It is usually not that simple.  Looks like a fun title.
- Did I mention that I went totally bonkers about a week or so ago and purchased Super Mario Advance, SMA 2, and SMA 3 from Amazon? I received them today.  Sweet deal for all three titles.  Looks like I have a lot of old school platforming in my future.  Oh yeah, I sorta, kinda also ordered A Link to the Past and Hotel Dusk: Room 15.  I have serious, serious problems.
So in just over 2 weeks of ownership I already own more  games for the DS (counting some GBA titles) than I have for the PSP, which I have had for 3 years.
- Last night's Lost season finale was freakin' crazy awesome!!!  One more season to go!!!  I was kinda iffy on this series somewhere between season 4 and 5, but the second half of this season really picked it up.  I am totally hooked again.
- The Dolphins signed Jason Taylor.  1 year deal.  1.1 Million dollar.  That is win/win for the Dolphins.  Welcome back Jason!
- The Marlins totally suck.  After starting the season 11-1 (one of the best starts in MLB HISTORY!), we have gone 6-17 since then.  6 and freakin 17!!!  We are now 17-18 and one game under .500.  ARGH!!!  How does that happen?!?!?
- Logged on to Live last night for the first time since getting my DS I think.  Downloaded some demos (Wolverine, Bionic Commando, forget what else) and a few videos and then shut down.  Will check them out another time.
- Being a Qore subscriber does have some perks.  Looks like I will be participating in the Uncharted Beta.  Curious to see how this plays, since I am assuming that more resources were put towards the single player experience.

May 09, 2009

Star Trek

Just saw Star Trek.  It was fantastic.  My favorite movie of the year so far.  In fact, it was the best experience I've had in theaters in a while.

I've never been a Star Trek fan.  I've seen a few of the movies and the odd episode here and there, but I've never gotten into it.  But I really hope they make a few more films using this cast (and production team) because it was stellar.

Good job J.J.

May 06, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

Yes, I know, I am late to the party.  Seems to be my motto lately.  I finally buy a DS after about 5 years of it being released.  And I just now started watching Battlestar Galactica (finally).
Gabe has been raving about this series to me for years.  I have always been intrigued by it, being the sci-fi fan that I am, but for some reason I never started watching it.  And it was not just Gabe, several of my friends would comment that is was not just one of the best "sci-fi" series out there, but one of the best series on tv period.
I watched the 3 episode "mini-series" this weekend and you know what?  Everyone was right.  From what I have seen, this show is stellar.
It all begins with the writing, which is superb.  The story really focuses on the characters and the human element of the show.  Yes it takes place in space and there are space battles and special effects, but the show really does focus on the drama and the effect of what is happening on the characters.
Then you add in some great acting.  Solid acting can really go a long way, in not only convincing the viewer to believe what is happening (even more important in a sci-fi setting) but in developing the characters.  After just 3 episodes you get a really good sense of who these characters.
Then there are the production values, which are just fantastic.  This is not filmed like a tv show, but like a movie.  A lot of hand-held/steady-cam shots.  The opening shot within the Galactica in fact was an extremely long single take, going from character to character, in what must have been a terribly difficult shot to coordinate.  Very impressive.
The special effects and details are also great.  I love all the little air-pulses the fighters use to maneuver while in space, a nice touch.
I know it is premature for a detailed review, like I said, I've only seen the mini-series so far, but going in with high expectations I can honestly say I was not disappointed.  I am actually even more impressed with the final product.  Can't wait to continue this series.

May 05, 2009

Of course I caved!

It should be a pretty known fact that when it comes to videogames, I have ZERO will power.  Once I make up my mind that I want a certain game, I get it.  So, when I wrote last week that I was really leaning towards getting a DS, but that I would be waiting a bit to get it, it was pretty much set in stone that I was getting one sooner rather than later.
So, on my way home from work on Friday, I stop by Best Buy and walk out with a DS.  That's just the way I roll.
Along with the DS, I had shiny new copies of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and Tecmo Bowl (TB was on sale for $9.99, it would have been stupid of me NOT to buy it!).
I was initially planning on grabbing Zelda and New Super Mario Bros., but for some reason they didn't have any copies of SMB. (more on this later . . . like I said, once I set my mind on something . . .).
I ended up getting the DS Lite instead of a DSi for a few reasons.  First, I want to be able to play GBA games.  There are many GBA titltes that I always wanted to play.  Second, my iPhone can basically do all the things the DSi can do, only better.  Third, DS Lite is cheaper.  Easy choice.
As I mentioned in my Batman: Arkym Asylum impressions post, I was at Gamestop on Saturday.  What could I have been doing there?  Well, getting New Super Mario Bros. of course!  Why wouldn't I go completely crazy and pick up my 4th DS title?
I've spent a few days with the DS now.  I have only played Zelda and SMB at this point.  Probably won't start Professor Layton until I beat one of these.  Thoughts?  Do I have buyer's remorse?  Was this impulse buy because I am in a gaming funk going to backfire?
Doesn't look like it.  I freakin' LOVE this thing!
New Super Mario Bros. is just that, a new Super Mario Bros. game.  I haven't played a side-scrolling SMB game since Super Mario World on the SNES.  This game does not use much of the DS's touch screen capabilities, but it doesn't really have it.  You still only need to use two buttons.  And it works perfectly.  Having a lot of fun with this one.
And then there is Zelda.  Zelda is the opposite of SMB.  You basically ONLY use the touch screen to control this game.  No d-pad.  No face buttons.  You only use the left shoulder button and the stylus.  And you don't have to use the shoulder button if you don't want to, there is a touch-screen version of that too.  Controlling the entire game with the stylus had me worried at first, but it works wonderfully.  Almost no learning curve too, it just works.
As to the game itself, I don't know what it is about Zelda games.  They are all very similar.  You start off with no weapons.  You find your sword and your shield.  You eventually find a bomb bag and a boomerang.  You enter dungeons where you acquire a new item and then have to defeat that dungeon's boss with the item you just found.  You can then return to previous areas in the game with your new items and find new secrets or locations.  But this formula works so well, it doesn't seem to ever get old.
I am totally loving The Phantom Hourglass.  It is the most fun I have had playing a game all year.  Maybe all I needed to get out of my boredom was just a little Nintendo.  No fancy graphics, no blood and guts, no shooting, just good, classic, fantastic gameplay . . .

Arkham Asylum hands-on

I was in Gamespot on Saturday and they had a PS3 with the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo.  Hell yeah!!!  Quick impressions:
- The visuals are great.  The animation is what really sets it apart.  Batman's movements are very smooth.  Counter attacks especially look great!
- The combat was very intuitive and in just a few minutes, I was stringing together combos and counters with little trouble.  On the default difficulty, it looks like hand-to-hand combat might be a little too easy.  The counter button maybe works too well.  But at the same time, you're Batman, you're supposed to be putting down random thugs with ease.  Combat was engaging and most importantly, fun.  I like challenge as much as the next guy, but I have always believed that it shouldn't come at the expense of the "realism" of the game world/character.  I LIKE the fact that it is easy to fight off a group of nameless criminals as Batman.  While the challenge is not there, the fun still kicks into high gear because you FEEL like your character is supposed to feel: a badass.
- The demo was actually very limited.  You just fight wave after wave of enemies (their numbers increase each time).  This was only a combat demo and I was disappointed that I couldn't explore the other game-modes (which I am far more interested in).  So I wasn't able to swing from the rafters with my grappling hook, silently take down enemies, use my x-ray vision, or dispatch enemies with my batarang.  Oh well.
Even though all I got to experience was combat, I was VERY happy with what I played.  This game is still at the top of my list of upcoming releases.  Looks like it is going to be delayed slightly (end of summer now), but if that time is going to be used to continue to polish the game, then by all means, release it in the fall if you have to!  Just make it a great Batman game please!

May 02, 2009

Ghost Recon News

Ubisoft announced today that it's working on a new Ghost Recon, currently titled Ghost Recon 4. Some of our more observant readers likely remember this game coming up in a previous Ubisoft financial report. Sadly, it's still a ways off, with Ubisoft crossing its fingers for a release sometime before April 2010. 

Gaming Today I am Bored!!

As gamers we have more options today than ever in the history of video gaming.  Numerous consoles and hand held devices.  Even great games appears on our mobile phones.  From casual puzzle games to hardcore first person shooters the gaming possiblities seem endless.  Then why do I feel bored?  Am I just getting spoiled and used to games with their mulitmillion dollar high production games.   I am going to explore this subject further in future posts.  Until then, game on.