Monthly Archives: April 2014

Freedom Wars Story Trailer – Tragedy of Commons is a Tragedy (even if you win)

It is “a future where resources has dried up”.  And so what do you do?  The only thing that makes sense: war.  You would think if there were no resources, everything would be thrown into the stone age, but not in the world of Freedom Wars, a new PS Vita RPG.  Here, technology is the key to survival.  How do they fuel the technology?  I don’t know but I’m guessing something organic because huge beasts battle each other with salvos of rockets and endless supply of machine gun fire.  And true to Japanese RPGs, all the characters have huge weapons.  Bigger the better.

As the title suggests, the trailer shows a war being waged for freedom.  An evil guy unleashes evil monsters and it’s up to the good guys (mostly kids with big eyes) to fight to be free.  So, of course, they’ll beat the bad guy and achieve their freedom, but in a dystopian world without resources, me thinks one can never be truly free.

Mad Max Magnum Opus Trailer – The Car is Life

The Mad Max films were as much about the ridiculously awesome cars as it was about the man.  As kids, we spent many weekends replicating some of those crazy mods with legos.  Some of those mad chariots were creations of beauty.  Mad Max the Game is about the man, and his open world, but the new Magnum Opus trailer is all about the car.

If your Latin is rusty like mine, Magnum Opus means “Great Work” and the car featured in the trailer is pretty darn awesome even though it probably wouldn’t be drivable in real life.  It’s got a huge blower that looks like a rocket launcher.  Spikes on the wheels give this chariot a menacing flank defense though the blades don’t seem to reach out far enough.  It’s also got a huge plate at the front for ramming.  Looks like a bulldozer.  The plate looks too big and heavy, though.  I would think the vehicle would tilt forward unless it had a massive counter-weight, in which case the car wouldn’t move like it does in the trailer.

The trailer shows the car in Twisted-Metal battles with the road gangs, battering each other until one erupts in a big fireball or rolls over.  I doubt these machines have seat belts and so one bump could be death.  All fun in a post-apocalyptic world.

Release is in 2015 on Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Best Video Game City: Seoul, South Korea

The title is misleading.  To clarify, I’m not talking about Seoul as a great city for gamers, though with all the world-class gamers, events, and tech, it is one of the best.  The point of this blog is that Seoul is where more video games should take place.  And not just FIFA or Taekwondo games, but every type of game.  Here are a few that would be perfect in Seoul:

1) Survival/Zombie

The city is huge.  The megacity is hundreds of square miles and has 25 million people crammed in.  That’s a lot of zombies and a lot of square miles to survive in or escape from.

Lot of potential zombies...

Lot of potential zombies…

2) Shooters

Forget Red Dawn or Battlefield fantasy.  War in Seoul is real.  I’m driving down a highway, beautiful scenery of the rivers, high rise buildings, and farmhouses, and then boom, there’s a freaking tank in the middle of all that.  Barbed wired and fully-armed soldiers in guard posts along the highway and rivers, too.  I went hiking at a mountain and there are well-maintained bunkers and foxholes along the hiking trail.  War can happen anytime.  One minute you’re eating rice cakes on the street and a minute later, rockets and shells falling from the sky.  Perfect setting for a shooter.

Guard post and tank in Seoul near Han River.

Guard post and tank in Seoul near Han River.

3) RPG

Lots of places for mystery.  Open world games will thrive in the huge megacity and the surrounding wilderness.  The city has been around a long time.  It’s seen many kingdoms, dynasties, victories and tragedies go by.  There’s a lot of history to tap into.  Perfect place for the next Assassin’s Creed-esqe story.

Old and New

Old and New

4) Horror

Seoul’s got ghosts.  You’ve had several wars ravage it.  A Queen was raped and murdered there.  Mass killings.  There are many dead that walk the land, especially in a culture that places such high reverence and importance on ancestors.

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5) Puzzle Games

Seoul is beautiful.  Good backdrop for puzzle games!

6) Beat ‘em Up/Fighting Games

Martial arts, Asian rivalries, organized crime, etc, etc.  Abundant in the center of East Asia.

7) Stealth

Sneak around as a North Korean spy gathering info for the Dear Leader.  Fight the urge to defect and become a K-pop star.

8) Simulation

Start at Baekje, then evolve into other dynasties, and see your Asian underdog grow into a powerhouse.

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9) Music Games

Be the next JYP – start your idol group and watch the Won roll in.

10) Tower Defense

Or also, tunnel defense.  Drive down Seoul highways, and you’ll drive thru man-made tunnels.  Purpose of these tunnels?  If war erupts with North Korea, they blow up these tunnels to create road-blocks.  Along with towers, strategically place these tunnels around the city to stop the commie invaders.

Omori on Kickstarter – White Spacing Into Reality

Once a week or so, I look for weird games.  Today I came upon Omori on Kickstarter.  It’s a surreal RPG psycho-horror about a guy named Omori who “is a character has been described as a ‘depressed otaku’”.  What is a depressed otaku?  I have no idea, but it sounds weird, so I like it.

The game must have some following because it hit its $22K goal super-fast and still has 42 days left.  Based on the info, it was a blog comic by Omocat who is also developing the game.  Omocat has merchandise as well.  Like shirts and stuff on Etsy.

The game has two worlds.  Each has its own reality and history.  Is it like a Bizarro world, or worlds in the mind?  Could be both or neither.  There’s white space, too, which has its own philosophical and psychological significance.  Besides all the thinking stuff, it’s a game with little pixel anime-style characters that battle and explore, so it’s all good.

The Kickstarter page also has a spoiler: “The truth is… Your story is already over.  You just have to remember it”.  Despite giving away the twist, it’s got a lot to be excited about: memory, mystery, worlds, reality, “waves of unrelenting nostalgia,” etc, etc.  Not sure what the horror element is.  Perhaps it has something to do with “a room full of cats”.  That could be scary.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Gameplay Trailer – Don’t Let the World Get Swallowed

Yes, the world is in fact on the verge of being swallowed.  The actual line is, “Unless we act, it will swallow the world.”  According to the new Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer, “it” is the Breach, which I suppose is a big hole that will, if not acted-upon, swallow the world.  Being swallowed can’t be good because the Inquisitor has gathered an elite group of classic RPG usual suspects (rogue, warrior, mage, et al) to form an Inquisition that will fight to prevent the swallowing.

The trailer also features demons raining down and, of course, a dragon crashing down on a tower.  As a bonus, there’s a lovely Last-Supper-esqe who’s-who at the end.

The third major title in the Dragon Age franchise is an open-world game with side missions and some romance – nothing new.  But an interesting aspect of the game is the two-combat system.  In addition to the action RPG over-the-shoulder battles, as seen in the trailer, there’s also a tactical view, which allows the player to pause the game and set traps, and call the play, then unpause to see it executed.  A little of both new and classic RPG – sometimes fusion leads to a big mess like in the movie, The Fly, but I’m hoping this mix will be easy to…swallow.

The Bioware/EA game is out October 7 on Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Pure Chess on PS4 – How to Make Money With Chess

Selling a chess video game can’t be easy.  I can play online for free.  I’ve got it on my iPad.  Doesn’t always look great, but it’s chess.

So, to sell a chess game, it’s got to look good.  Now that Pure Chess is on PS4, chess is at its prom-best.  Looks fantastic and the different boards and themes are top notch.  There’s the traditional.  There’s also a feudal China theme, and Easter Island, and animals, and my favorite, the Roman empire.  What they really need to do is shell out cash and license.  Star Wars, Star Trek, Family Guy, South Park, etc, etc.

In any case, the game looks good but the PS4 conversion (see around :50 of the trailer below) didn’t wow me.  But it seems worth the effort.  Of course, I would rather have actual physical pieces and board – each piece made of pure gold – but a virtual one is still cool.

Pure Chess also has a fun tournament mode against AI opponents, but no real online play.  To play a real opponent, it’s like snail-mail and not real time.  That’s strange this day and age.  But if I need real-time chess, I suppose I would go on Yahoo or Pogo, or get a pick-up game at the coffee house.

Wargame Red Dragon Launch Trailer – A land, air…and sea war in Asia! Get Involved!

A full-scale war in Asia would be a complete disaster.  Give me the Admiral Akbar Award for stating the obvious (“It’s a Trap!”) because here’s the obvious result of total war in Asia: millions dead, more displaced, and billions affected as several generations face chaos, recession and a world without cool gadgets.  That’s why Wargame Red Dragon, launching April 17, is so awesome.  It’s as total war as an RTS can get.  Land, air, and sea.  Tanks, APCs, choppers, fighters, field artillery, and an Asian war isn’t an Asian war without masses of cannon fodder charging the enemy.  In addition, Red Dragon has ships.  Yes, ships!  With guns.  Big ones.  Firing at things in all directions.  The trailer shows it all.

I’m not sure how fun it will be to control a ship, but it looks cool unloading on enemy emplacements and shooting down fighters.  The game’s also got my personal favorite, the A-10 Warthog.  That thing’s slow and ugly but it’s mean.

The Focus Interactive game takes place in Asia during the last stretch of the Cold War.  Which means, a little bit of Mao and all of Kim Il Sung.  I would play this game just for the opportunity to take down Kim Il Sung.

On Steam for $39.99.

Child of Light Lemuria Trailer – a tour into the dream

I’m not an art expert, but Ubisoft’s new RPG, Child of Light, is about art. The new trailer is a two-minute side-scrolling tour of Lemuria in all its water-color-ish splendor. The landscape, especially the trees, reminds me of Asian art. The grammar in the opening line also reminds me of things Far East (“more bigger”), but it’s all part of the surreal fun.

The game is a coming-of-age story about a Victorian-era girl who finds herself in a fantasy world, and on a quest to save it from the Black Queen who has stolen its sun, moon and stars. The pink-haired heroine, Aurora, flies and swims in the mythical 2D world finding items and growing older, and other things RPG characters do. She’s also got the RPG-stock sidekick, a blue glowing tinkerbell type helper, who aids her in her quest, including battles perhaps. But the trailer doesn’t show battles. It’s about Lemuria and the game’s main selling point, the art. And the art – with all its layers, shadows, and weirdness – is quite an accomplishment from the developers, Ubisoft Montreal, famous for its Assassin’s Creed franchise.

The game is out April 30: available for download on Xbox LIVE for the Xbox® 360 and Xbox® One, the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4, the eShop from Nintendo for the Wii U, Uplay and Steam for PC.

Star Wars: Assault Team Review – this is not the free-to-play you’re looking for

Popular movie plus mobile game plus freemium usually equals bad news.  Star Wars: Assault Team is not all bad, but it’s definitely not worthy of long-term residence on your device.  It’s a collectable card game featuring characters from the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 4-6).  That means, Han, Leia, Luke, Chewy, R2, and everyone’s favorite freelancer, Boba Fett.  You acquire the cards via battle or purchase, upgrade, train, sell and acquire items to move up tiers.  That’s all good, but the gameplay lacks any real strategy or variety.

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After selecting a team of 4 characters, preferably a combination of the typical RPG classes (fighter, armor, healer, etc), you select various battles to gain experience, items and additional cards.  Each round is turn-based and you select who will attack whom or use special powers like R2’s disruptor or Han’s lucky shot.  Interesting for a few rounds, then it gets repetitive fast.  And fighting monsters like a big spider or a rat is lame.

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It’s also very difficult after the first couple of levels and it takes a long time to upgrade your cards to the point where you can advance in the game.  That’s the freemium-gone-wrong situation.  For players to shell out cash, the game’s got to be good and replayable.  It also can’t be play-to-win or I’m screaming, “It’s a trap!”

Also, there’s a freemium energy meter.  Each mission takes several bars and each energy takes four minutes to regenerate.  Not sure why four minutes?  How did the geniuses behind this game come up with 4 minutes?  5 minutes was too long and 3 minutes too short?  Did they do market research on that?

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Like all Star Wars anything, the game’s got the nostalgia-factor and you can’t beat the music.  But ultimately, gamers, even Star Wars geeks like me, want to play good games and Assault Team unfortunately falls short.

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