Thursday, August 26, 2010
This month, it's going to be "Your Favorite Post So Far." The problem is I don't know which one's to add from my history of posts, so I'm asking you, my loyal (maybe!) readers.
Post a comment with your favorites, and I'll put them in the poll that I'll be starting on the 1st. (Probably any that are nominated, but if there's a lot I'll look for seconds. So second anything you like.)
So, don't forget to nominate your favorite, and come back and vote in September! (Which starts like next Wednesday.)
P.S. I have another post I'm working on, been busy past couple weeks.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Okay, now for today's post. The first thing I'm going to talk about is the arcade I went to. It was small, only half a dozen machines or so, a pool table (with really crummy cues), and a ping pong table. Among the games were Pacman, Mrs. Pacman, Centipede, Mortal Kombat (I think that was the broken one, sadly), Time Crisis, X-men something or other, and one of the Street Fighter games.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Sup, @abujafer here for a review for Super Mario Galaxy 2 (I'm going to refer to it as SMG 2). Haven't been online in a while due to two reasons. First, I had to finish this game, and second, I had a new little sister. Plus, this game is HUGE. Now, for the review.
This is obviously the most important aspect of the game, and it is great and well designed. From simply running around to navigating gravity-defying jumps, this game has tight controls for every situation. Mario is extremely athletic, from acrobatic ice skating routines, to impressive triple jumps; Mario has never been better. And as if his own arsenal of jumps, spins, and stomps wasn't enough, he can use 'shrooms/flowers to power up into weird forms. There is a new Cloud Flower, and also a Boulder Mushroom (personally my favorite), while you can also use a drill, which isn't technically a power up, it's still one heck of an item. Now, all of these items would be useless without good level design, and boy has Nintendo outdone itself this time (literally, its way better than the original SMG that I borrowed from Aldowyn). The level design is the BEST I've ever seen, from the enemy and planet placement, to the creative locations Mario will find himself in. Also, gone is the central hub from the original SMG. Instead you have a Starship that is made for Mario, but, as a Toad on board puts it, looks much more like Luigi. From here you have an overworld map that shows the galaxies and helps go through them a lot faster. The starship gets a lot of visitors, and they help tell you about gameplay mechanics as you unlock them. And the camera is great too. When you're sliding down a giant tree, you have the camera right behind you to show you all the upcoming dangers, while when you're fighting against a boss that flies around, the camera dramatically shows the boss zooming in as he closes in on Mario. However, there were moments the camera didn't do what it had to; in one level, I had used a triple jump to get on the roof (not supposed to), and when I reached the fall at the middle (it was a maze-like place), the camera was stuck at what it thought was a wall, while I had to run around blindly waiting for the launch star sound effect to start so I could shake, after which the camera snapped back. These are petty annoyances, and don't even come close to ruining the experience. There are plenty of bosses, and they're all very well thought out and challenging. They also use whatever power up you have been getting acquainted with lately, and really test your skills.
This Is So Crazy, It Might Just Work!
Co-op is greatly improved, and it helps make the game A LOT easier. The second player has much to do, as he/she can kill certain enemies, stun others, bring star bits, coins, 1-ups, life mushrooms, and hold big enemies like chomps. In fact, it's a great way to integrate little ones into SMG 2, and it's how I had my little sisters get used to the game before they jumped in. Plus, Luigi comes in after 30 possible stars (I know because I'm sort of a perfectionist; I got all the stars I could before moving on, and so when I got Luigi I had gotten everything before that). This is way better from SMG, where you got him after finished the game and all of its 120 stars (That's when I gave my borrowed game back to Aldowyn..... right when I got my favorite bro. *sniff*). However, he only comes once a galaxy (for the most part) and its either your first time or your second time, after which a ghost takes his place that is essentially a time run, where you have to beat him (if you lose the level continues; he just lies down when he wins). However, when you finish the game with all 120 stars I think, you get the option to play as Luigi permanently; which I wholeheartedly did, and haven't played a single level with Mario since. Luigi jumps higher, however he slides a bit after running. This takes a bit getting used to, but it's worth it. This game plays great, and is one of the best-playing games on any console to date.
This game looks fantastic. It uses up the Wii's hardware like no one but Nintendo can. The colorful, vibrant visuals beautifully compliment the great lighting and shadow effects, and the galaxies all have distinct visuals/enemies, be it a dessert themed galaxy, desert themed galaxy, a galaxy with planets made of lava, planets covered mostly in water, and lush, colorful flower planets.
Mario Doesn't Want To Step On Any Flowers.... Good Luck With That.
Also, everything is crisp and sharp, and my little sisters who played co-op with me were all like, "Is that really not HD? I can't see how it can get any better?" Each galaxy is a treat for the eyes, while the sound effects compliment the environment perfectly. A challenging event has an upbeat music that speeds up as the time is used up, while a spooky mansion has slow, creepy music, accompanied with the growls, howls, and moans of a typical haunted mansion. You can often tell what enemy you're up against by the sounds it makes. A goomba scurries along as it attacks, meanwhile a chomp barks, and a Boo..... boos. Plus, in some levels the speed of the music is affected by how fast you are going. My favorite music is the Bowser/Bowser Jr. Orchestra pieces. Those were works of art, and sound delightful. I especially admired how the stars sound. It's a distinct tinkling, and especially when trying to get the green stars, you NEED to listen. I don't know how you can win without listening. Green stars are usually hidden in cleverly designed caves, ledges, and right by a black hole. Sometimes the only indication you have that this deadly fall will get you a Green Star is the sound it makes. The ONLY hiccup in frame rates was when I had a green shell and was swimming underwater. Now, this problem was in the first game, but it's much, much less noticeable now. If you have the camera right behind you, the bubbles from the green shell go right into the camera, and there is a slight but noticeable hiccup in the frame rate. Keep in mind, this only happens when there's a lot onscreen. In my case, I had a planet in the sky, the planet I was on, penguins running about complete with their own bubbles, enemies on both planets, light effects with water, and a whole contingent of star bits and coins. I don't think any of you will find this problem, even if you tried. But I did notice it, and it was my only frame rate hiccup in the entire game. This game's presentation is practically perfect, and it rivals that of X-Box/PS3 first-party game presentations.
Here I will state things that didn't really fit above, but must be noted. First off, I have to talk about Green Stars.
A Green Star A Day Keeps The Yoshi Away.
These are for the hardcore gamer. After getting 120 Stars, every normal star you unlocked will get a Green Comet, and as such will get a green star hidden somewhere in the level. These are sometimes put in plain view (yet still hard to get), while sometimes you have to listen for a tingling simply to get a general idea where it is to start combing the level. These Stars unlock a special surprise at the end of the game, and that surprise is only for the most hardcore players out there, and it is HARD. After that, you'll get a message in the Message Board with a picture showing all the stars you unlocked (boy they look a lot more when they're stacked up like that) and a message from the SMG 2 staff congratulating you. Plus your save file tingles a bit and looks cool, just like a star, and you get a special surprise on starship Luigi (not going to call it starship you-know-who). Also, Yo*** makes a horrible appearance. As a Yoshi Hunter, I personally throw him/her/it off the edge as many times as possible before getting stars, and if I accidentally do get a star with him/her/it/whatever, I simply play the level again and get the star without him/her/it. He/she/it appears in the second level, and is trapped in a bubble in his egg by Kamek. After reluctantly freeing him/her/it, He/She/It lies and says that he/she/it went off to help his/her/its lack of friends. Now, a trustworthy Luma on the side of the screen tells us that Yoshi ran around in circles and trapped himself/herself/itself in an egg, and that Mario should help *concentrate his abilities*. Proof of this is that after leaving him/her/it on the ground for 10 seconds he/she/it TRAPS himself/herself/itself INTO AN EGG. Exactly why I hunt him/her/it.
Anyway, besides that mutant dodo with a -2 IQ, this game is as close to perfect as a game can get. For now. Nintendo will just wow us again with some other jewel of a game, be it Skyward Sword, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Metroid Other M, or some other masterpiece. For now, this game is the best platformer in existence.
BTW, for those of you who go by numbers, I'm giving it a Te... Wait, there's Yoshi. Nin... Oh wait, he keeps coming back, so I have the pleasure of killing him/her/it OVER AND OVER AGAIN *runs to turn on Wii*. So it's still a TEN (10). PERFECT!
8/4/10 Update: 1Up.com reports that the MW2 demo is now out on PS3 and Xbox 360, 6 months after MW2's release... now we wait for the Black-Ops Demo...
As Aldowyn is out of town, Me and Abujaffer have control for the next week until Sunday...
Now in the meantime Its time for more reviews!
We will start with a select group of Indie Games. (Note: I download the trial versions of games unless I like them)
The First Game Series is Avatar Run, Hurdle and Jump made by UFO Games. Each game Costs 80 MSP
Game 1: Avatar Run
Gameplay: Olympic Running. Short, sweet, to the point!
Controls: A , B in sequence to run
Plot: NO Plot
Final Verdict: Fun game, up to 4 Local MP, NO XBL MP but there is XBL leaderboards. 2 Stars out of 5 for the game it self.
And last BUT certainly not least Limbo!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
(Plus, this is going to be a ridiculously comprehensive overview of both the original Starcraft and Brood War, and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, and its expansion, The Frozen Throne.)
You may ask why Blizzard would even consider ending such a widely-respected franchise with so many fans and so much of a tradition. You might think that they would turn it into an MMO, like they did with Warcraft. Okay, I admit that is a possibility, but I doubt it. Starcraft is the RTS, and fans everywhere would cry out in outrage if the series turned from its RTS roots. (Note: Starcraft: Ghost, the abandoned Gamecube project, doesn't count because it wasn't a direct continuation of the series, like Halo Wars in reverse.)
Two games isn't that much, you say? I say that you must consider how much time the franchise will eventually take up (at least 15 or 16 years, I'd say), and how big these games are. Starcraft, and the expansion Brood War, both came out in 1998, eight months apart. Both games had campaigns for all three races, with 8-10 missions each, coming out to a total of 56 missions.
I don't have any actual numbers, but Wings of Liberty has at least enough for one of these campaigns, and probably quite a few more. That's not even counting all the additions to the game, like the new Battle.net, the Hyperion home base, the new challenge modes, and the new branching campaign style, and probably many others that I missed.
That is only one of three. When this arc is done, I would fully expect Starcraft to have as much as more content as the Warcraft RTSes. (I'm not stupid enough to include WoW in any comparison of the sort!)
Also to be considered is the possible parallel to the Warcraft story. Ignoring the first two Warcraft games, which I don't have much experience with and aren't comparable to Starcraft anyway. (Two sides, with only slight differences, portrayed as good and evil.)
Essentially, Starcraft parallels with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Brood War with The Frozen Throne, and the Starcraft II games will compare with World of Warcraft. You may not see the differences at first, but see as I go campaign-by-campaign with the first two.
Starcraft starts out with the Terran campaign, with the hero, Jim Raynor, helping your character (technically, you're a magistrate over Mar Sara that end up going on the run with Raynor) to protect the citizens of Mar Sara from the Zerg and, well, figure out what the heck the Zerg even are. Raynor runs into Arcturus Mengsk, leader of the Sons of Korhal resistance group, and his lieutenant, Sarah Kerrigan. Arcturus Mengsk sends them on a bunch of errands, supposedly discovering that the Confederacy created, or was at least using, the Zerg to destroy the Sons of Korhal. They end up luring the Zerg to the capital planet of Tarsonis, but Mengsk abandons Kerrigan on the surface, and she is captured. Mengsk becomes emperor of the new Terran Dominion (really cool coronation speech, btw.), and Raynor ends up forming the Raynor's Raiders resistance group. (I skipped a bunch of stuff, including an entire character, but he doesn't have a parallel in WCIII and it doesn't really matter)
Compare this to Warcraft III. Prince Arthas is trying to figure out the cause of the plague, and protect the citizens of Lordaeron, along with some help from a friend, Jaina Proudmoore. Jaina leaves, and Arthas goes on a vengeance trek to go kill the guy that was supposedly the instigator of the plague, Mal'ganis. Jaina abandons him after he kills a bunch of villagers to stop them from becoming Undead, and Arthas follows Mal'ganis to the icy continent of Northrend. He finds an old friend of his, Muradin Bronzebeard, who tells him a story of a enchanted sword, Frostmourne. (Honestly? Coolest weapon in ANY video game, possibly barring the Master Sword) He burns his ships and blames it on the mercenaries he had to use to do so, finds Frostmourne. The sword bears an inscription, warning Arthas and Muradin of a curse. Arthas says that he would "gladly bear any curse to save his homeland", and takes the sword, shattering the ice it is embedded in, a shard of which kills Muradin. Arthas then goes on a rampage and owns the undead protection Mal'ganis. Ner'zhul, the present Lich King, tells him through the sword to kill Mal'ganis, and Arthas does so. Then he goes back to Lordaeron, kills his father, the king (wow, that phrase sounds really cliche), assumes the throne, and the now his undead hordes annihilate the kingdom.
In both the Starcraft Zerg campaign and the Reign of Chaos Undead campaign, the bad guys (you) consolidate their forces while Arthas/Kerrigan grow in power (Technically Kerrigan has to hatch first. There's like 4 missions of protecting her at the beginnning.). The biggest difference is that the Protoss managed to slow the Zerg down by slaying one of the cerebrates using the energy of the Dark Templar, Zeratul. (Cerebrate: one of the commanders of the horde, resurrected when slain in battle by the Overmind which is.. well... the Overmind. The Gravemind from Halo reminds me of the Overmind, actually. Technically you are a cerebrate in the Zerg campaign. Oh, and Zeratul is awesome.) Somehow, the Overmind gets the location of the Protoss homeworld, Aiur ("My Life for Aiur!"), and the Zerg completely own it. Meanwhile in Azeroth (Back to WCIII), Arthas and company kill everyone on their part of the continent (I'm not kidding. You wipe out 2 kingdoms and one killer mage city in one campaign)
Now we go back to playing as the good guys. In the final campaign of the original Starcraft, you play as the Executor of the Protoss. You fight a defensive battle against the Zerg with your buddy, Praetor Fenix (another awesome dude. BTW, he starts out as just an infantry guy, but then he dies and comes back in this awesome mech thing. "I have returned!") You end up going to Char, the Zerg homeworld, to arrest Tassadar, the former executor who was basically fired for trying to save the Terrans from the Zerg instead of just bombarding the planets into glass. When you get back, the civil war is going badly because the Conclave (read: Parliament) sucks at fighting and you had much of the fleet. Tassadar tries to replace the conclave, but fails and surrenders. You bust him out, and then you attack the Overmind. The assault begins to falter (no matter how well YOU are doing on the mission...) and Tassadar kamikazes the Overmind with the flagship Gantrithor using both the Dark Templar energies and the energies of the Khalai (Protoss psionic powers) Zerg die spectacularly. Game over.
Back in the next Reign of Chaos campaign, the Orcs have left Azeroth and arrived on Kalimdor. Grom, one of the orc leaders, falls under the spell of one of the Pit Lords of the Burning Legion, Mannoroth, and Thrall, the chieftain, is forced to kill him, with the aid of the human mage Jaina Proudmoore. (Jaina ended up in Kalimdor when a prophet tells her Lordaeron is doomed) The orcs get kind of short thrift, mostly because they're just minding their own business building a new home. They don't even get a TFT campaign.
Now it's the Night Elves turn. They fight a desperate battle against the Burning Legion summoned by Archimonde. Tyrande Whisperwind, the High Priestess, has to awaken Malfurion Stormrage, essentially the high druid, and free Illidan Stormrage (yes, they're brothers. Nasty love triangle story way back in the beginning of the lore), a demon hunter who uses their own powers to slay them, but who was imprisoned because he couldn't give up magic. (It's really hard to talk about the Night Elves without bringing up thousands-year-old lore...) With the aid of Thrall and Jaina, they delay Archimonde from destroying the world tree until he can be destroyed. (It's complicated. Really neat mission, though.)
So, in short, good-guy (Kerrigan, Arthas) turns bad guy and all good guys (Raynor, Tassadar, Zeratul and Night Elves, Thrall, and Jaina) band together to kill big bad guy (Overmind, Archimonde), who was pretty much wiping the floor with good guys up until then.
Brood War and The Frozen Throne don't mesh quite so well, though. The stories are both REALLY messed up, with pretty much everyone (except the orcs, and they already did that, plus they don't have a true campaign in TFT) splitting into factions, people working with people they really have no business (well, they do. But Infested Kerrigan helping Raynor and the Protoss?), and Kerrigan and Arthas ending up supreme baddies over everyone.
In Brood War, the Protoss flee Aiur, going to the Dark Templar world of Shakuras. A bunch of Zerg inevitably followed. (Pesky things, they get everywhere!) Infested Kerrigan comes and requests help killing the new Overmind, explaining that it wasn't powerful enough to control her- yet. In return, she would help them recover two crystals, one of dark energy and one of light (Dark/High templar) that could be used to destroy the Zerg infesting Shakuras. They fail to destroy the Overmind to the intervention of a new human force, the UED (United Earth Directorate), but they still recover the crystals. Executor Aldaris tries to stop to stop the Dark Templar and Artanis, realizing that Kerrigan is manipulating them (Plus he still doesn't like the Dark Templar). Zeratul and Artanis (who effectively replaced Tassadar as resident High Templar) use the crystals, resulting in another spectacular planet Zerg-wiping explosion. (Actually, this was even bigger than the one that killed the Overmind, that's all the other one did. Poor Tassadar!)
(skip to 4:40 for cinematic)
In The Frozen Throne, a Night Elf warden, Maiev Shadowsong, chases Illidan around, trying to put him back in eternal jail. She ends up telling Malfurion Tyrande was dead, when she was only lost. Malfurion and Maiev, along with a Blood Elf (what's left of the elves of Lordaeron), Kael'thas Sunstrider, stop Illidan from using the Eye of Sargeras, which he was using to destroy Ice Crown and the Lich King (Still Ner'zhul, at this point. Plus there was the possible side effect of destroying the entire world.), but Maiev's lie is revealed, and Malfurion and Illidan go save Tyrande. Malfurion pardons Illidan, though he's still banished. Illidan leaves
Back in Starcraft land, the UED is trying to take over the Dominion. They work with the Confederacy remnants and make some progress, but they manage to anger both the Zerg and Protoss in the area. Mengsk's Dominion falls, though Kerrigan manages to convince Raynor to save him (what power she has over him...), and the UED fleet manages to capture and subdue the Overmind, despite a backstab by a Zerg-infested Samir Duran, thus gaining control of the Zerg.
We go back to Azeroth, where Kael'thas and his Blood Elves are being good Alliance citizens--until things go wrong and a racist Alliance knight imprisons them. They are saved by Lady Vashj and her Naga, and the two races go to save Illidan, who has managed to get into a royal mess in Outland, an alternate dimension originally known as Draenor, the former home of the orcs and still home of the Draenei. Illidan and Kael'thas enlist the Draenei and overturn the current lord of Outland, and Illidan thinks he is safe. Not so. The Burning Legion lord Kil'jaeden finds him, and sends him back to Azeroth to renew his attempt to wipe out the Lich King.
In the final Brood War campaign, Kerrigan is severely threatened by the now extremely poweful UED fleet and their Zerg horde. She manages to convince pretty much everyone else (Raynor and the Protoss) that the UED is the major threat. The alliance manages to slowly defeat the UED, but Kerrigan betrays the others with the aid of her agent, Samir Duran, and the Overmind is killed, thus making Kerrigan the leader of the entire swarm-- the self-stylized "Queen of Blades".
In the final TFT campaign (not counting the bonus one for the orcs), we go back to Lordaeron and the undead. The undead splinter into 3 factions: Arthas and Kel'thuzad, who were betrayed by the Dreadlords led by Nathrezim (who think that Archimonde is destroying Kalimdor), and the Forsaken led by Sylvanas Windrunner, a former elf that Arthas killed and resurrected as an undead in his campaign against the elves of Silvermoon. (These last are the ones you play as in WoW) Arthas flees to Northrend, slowly weakening (really annoying, btw. He levels backwards.) and summoned by the Lich King, and Sylvanas manages to gain the upper hand against the dreadlords, essentially gaining control of the Plaguelands. (What's left of Lordaeron)
Arthas meets the spider-race of Nerubians, and ends up fighting Illidan over the Lich King. Arthas wins, then goes up to the Frozen Throne and puts on the helmet of Ner'zhul-- thus becoming the Lich King himself. Oh, and Illidan isn't dead-- he goes back to Outland.
Definite parallels in this one as well, but not nearly as obvious as in the originals. The important part is that the final result is much alike: Good guys mostly victorious but battered, and the bad guys ready to start killing pretty much everyone.
The Warcraft saga is solved in WoW, with Illidan and Arthas being destroyed by your player character, although the undead survive. Logic says that we get a good ending with the SCII games, with Raynor and the Protoss playing the role of the PCs.
So, we have a definite parallel between the two franchises, and we can all agree that World of Warcraft is the end of the Warcraft story, right? So that means that this arc of Starcraft is the end.
Don't be sad, though. That's still a ton of content and story rolling our way in the next three, four years! A last little thing is parallels between the races and characters.
Raynor=Arthas in the RoC human campaign, and PC in WoW. (protagonist)
Kerrigan=Arthas. (Kerrigan becomes Queen of Blades, Arthas becomes the Lich King)
Mengsk=Arthas (betray kingdom and become ruler)
Overmind: Ner'zhul, the original Lich King. (Original big bads, replaced by Kerrigan/Arthas) and Archimonde (big bads defeated by coalition of good guys--complete with awesome cinematic!)
Terrans=Humans (giant DUH here)
Undead=Zerg (also easy)
Protoss=Night Elves, with a bit of Orc thrown in. (pushing it a bit)
The Protoss and the Night Elves don't quite fit together. The orcs take some of the Protoss roles, and the characters themselves don't translate well. If I had to, though, Tassadar would be Tyrandis, Zeratul would be Illidan, and Judicator Aldaris would be Furion.
One thing to note: There is no Burning Legion faction parallel in Starcraft. The Zerg are THE big bads, and thus end up playing the roles of the Burning Legion as well as the undead.