Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

Oh Boy, More Sonic Crap December 1, 2008

Filed under: Games,Kotaku,Previews,Wii — Gwyddia @ 7:31 pm
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Continuing their cavalcade of “We Don’t Care If You Like It, We’re Just Going To Put Out A New Game Every Month Instead of Doing What The Fans Want And Doing An Actual Retro Game”, Sonic Team has released new screenshots from the upcoming Wii game Sonic and the Black Knight. You can check those shots out over at Kotaku if you like, I’m not wasting space with them here.

 

In the last few years Sonic has gone to Pseudo-Arabia to make it with a human chick, spun off a gun-toting Shadow, searched deep into his RPG roots, and become a freakin’ werewolf – excuse me, werehog. In fact, he’s done everything but run around really damn fast for 4 hours and collect rings while freeing cute bunnies and saving Chaos Emeralds! For the love of Ceiling Cat and all that is HOLY, Team Sonic, make a damned SONIC game!

 

Thank you. That is all.

 

Preview: Star Wars: The Old Republic October 25, 2008

From Araan:

This week Bioware finally let out some details about the worst-kept secret in PC video games: that their secret MMORPG project is related to their hit title, Knights of the Old Republic.

 

Welcome to SWTOR, or “Swatter”, as we shall pronounce it.

 

The new game, is set 3,500 years before the rise of Darth Vader, and 300 years after your adventures as Revan in the original KOTOR. Players will be thrust into a world where the real Sith Empire has finally emerged from hiding on the fringes of the galaxy and delivered a major defeat to the Republic. While the two sides are technically at peace, it’s clear that a new war between the Republic and the Empire is in the offing.

 

The Galactic Republic stood for generations as a bastion of peace in a galaxy of warring star systems. Protected by its stalwart Jedi guardians, the Republic held the greatest hope for the progress of civilization and galactic unity.

 

Deep in unknown space, however, a mighty Sith Empire was forged, led by dark Sith Lords who dreamt of galactic domination and vengeance against their ancient Jedi enemies. After centuries of preparation, the time came for the Sith to make their return.

 

Bioware’s official website is sparse on details, without even an expect ship timeframe or base system requirements. All we can do at the moment is oogle at the pretty concept pictures hosted at the site.

 

Preview: Professor Laytonmania October 3, 2008

Filed under: DS,Games,Previews,Uncategorized — Gwyddia @ 2:55 pm
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A typical "Curious Village" puzzle.

A typical "Curious Village" puzzle.

People love puzzles.  Japanese people doubly so (see Brain Age, SuDuKo, Go, etc.).  Thus, a few years ago Level-5 rolled up all the puzzles they could find in one tidy package called Professor Layton and the Curious Village. The DS title featured Layton, a natty professor, and Luke, his apprentice, solving puzzle after puzzle in order to unravel a townwide mystery.  Curious Village landed Stateside about a year after its Japanese release, much to the delight of brainfreaks everywhere.

 

The Curious Village sold over 700,000 units in Japan in 2007 and was the top selling game for the Nintendo DS in the United States in the first three weeks after its release, so you know there are sequels.

 

The first sequel is Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box.  This time Layton and Luke are off to visit the Professor’s mentor, who sent them a letter about a mysterious box.  This title, released in Japan in November of 2007, features three distinct areas, including a train and two villages. There are also new meta-games including collecting items to exercise your hamster and brewing the perfect cup of tea.  The game sold over 800,000 copies in Japan as of July 2008.  The U.S. port of Pandora’s Box was confirmed in February 2008, and U.S. gamers are expecting to see it here sometime in November 2008.

Brain game or train game?

Brain game or train game?

 

This has not kept Level-5 from going full steam ahead with Professor Layton 3, however.  They recently released a trailer for Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel.  This time Layton travels to future London for unknown reasons. You can check out the trailer here (in Japanese):

The Weiner enjoyed Curious Village. Some of the puzzles, such as obtaining 4 ounces of water with only a 3 ounce and 5 ounce glass, are classics. It was a thrill to solve piles and piles of these chestnuts. I wonder, however, how many more old saws they can haul out. Are there enough classic puzzles for three games? If not, are there enough new puzzles and variations to keep things interesting and challenging? We’ll have more on this when Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box and Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel are released in America.

 

The Future September 6, 2008

First, I just placed my Amazon pre-orders for Fable II, Little Big Planet, Mirror’s Edge, Rock Band 2, And Sid Meier’s Colonization, so look for previews and reviews of all of these games and more in the weeks to come.

 

Second, after about a day of downloading and patching, I am finally ready to play the Wrath of the Lich King Beta. Look for weekly in-depth updates as I take a toon from level 70 to as far as it will go before release.

 

Finally, it has come to my attention that this site needs more weiner. Look for pics of the titular weens this weekend.

 

PAX Tabletop Game Reviews September 3, 2008

PAX is wonderful in that it features all kinds of gaming.  Here are my comments in the Department of non-video games:

World of Warcraft Miniatures Game:  I swore I would never play the WoW Trading Card Game because I didn’t want to get sucked in like I did in 1997 with Magic: The Money Pit.  My resolve faded when my best friend bought one booster pack to see what the art was like and found a Papa Hummel’s Old-Fashioned Pet Biscuits Card to be used in-game.  Despite the several boxes of cards I’ve bought, I don’t really dig the game.  It’s an improvement over Magic in that anything can be used as a resource, but, just as in Magic, all it takes is a few number crunchers to break the game.

Onyxia's Lair WoW mini set

Onyxia's Lair

The mini game seemed different.  For one thing, it didn’t drag on forever and eighteen days.  There was a solid, achievable win condition that could be reached in a reasonable amount of time.  For another thing, the “inventory management” was much smoother in this game, where you select just a few powers to be in your “hotbar” and use them strategically, instead of managing thousands of options to get a deck of around 60, inside which is that one special card you hope comes up.  Finally, the little pieces look cool.  You can either keep them on their little game pedestals or take them out and let them adorn your desk.  For a WoW geek like me, this seems like a good idea.

The WoW Mini game is coming from Upper Deck in November, and I think I’ll at least pick up the Starter Pack.

Duel of Ages – Imagine that the gods became bored, picked up a handful of people from throughout history, and tossed them into an arena to fight for their deific amusement.  This, then, is Duel of Ages.  It is a board game with a dynamically-constructed hex grid and the ability to play as Beowulf with a flamethrower and and ATV.  Silly, yes, but a lot of fun and some good strategy, too.  Different historical characters have different attacks, defenses, ranges, etc., and with more than a few players the game plays out not so much like a duel but like a tiny war.  There is enough dice-rolling to inject some fluidity into the game, but enough stat-based fighting to make sure it doesn’t become random.  For me, the best part of this game was taking home it and its first expansion (of eight) after playing in a small tourney with me on one side and Peter on the other.  Stacking the odds?  Me?  Never.

Munchkin Quest – Munchkin Quest, Steve Jackson Games’ latest, is Munchkin with a dynamically built, interlocking board and monsters that followed you around.  If you are not familiar with Munchkin the card game, it is a game based on dungeon crawling without all that finicky “character development”. You kick down a door, you fight a monster within, you gain loot, you level.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Peter and a PAX Enforcer play Munchkin quest.

Peter and a PAX Enforcer play Munchkin quest.

Munchkin Quest takes the ever-growing insanity that is Munchkin (there are several thousand different Munchkin cards spanning several genres, all of which can be used together) and attempts to tame it into a board game.  It mostly works.  I appreciated having a die-rolling element in my battles, as opposed to straight level vs. level.  The movement through the dungeon gave new like to the idea of exploring rooms and finding what lurks within.  My favorite new twist, however is the introduction of a real endgame. In Munchkin Quest, instead of just “I beat a monster, I’m level 10, I win.  Woohoo.”, you have to achieve level 10, then get back to the entrance of the dungeon, where you have to fight a level 20 monster to escape.

One thing hasn’t changed, however.  It still takes forever to win.  One of the more clever mechanics in Munchkin is the ability to throw monkey wrenches at your opponents by growing their enemies, summoning more monsters, or worse.  Munchkin Quest gives some disincentive for this by letting monsters roam, meaning that the level 1 Potted Plant you pumped up to level 25 against your buddy might come to feed on you, Seymour.  That isn’t true of the exit monster, though.  If you lose, it disappears.  Thus, the end of Munchkin Quest is just like the end of Munchkin proper – a war of attrition until someone runs out of whammies.

Munchkin Quest comes out in October, shipping sparing.  Peter wants to get it, I don’t really need it.

 

PAX video game previews in review September 2, 2008

So many games, so little time on each.  Here’s my post-PAX roundup of the games I played.

Starcraft II – I was fortunate to get a total of 40 minutes with this one, thanks to team-camping it with Peter.  He tried the Humans, I tried the Protoss (everyone and their grandmother’s dog tried the Zerg, so I just watched them).  The order of the day is “streamlined”.  Starcraft II feels like Starcraft, but it also feels very slick and smooth – almost too slick and smooth.  For example, gathering has been made quicker by allowing your forces to get more from each node they whack.  Units don’t move, they glide, no matter which race they are.  The Protoss are still unbelievably shiny, and the Zerg still make noises that should never be combined with eating.  The humans are, well, human, and sometimes they zig zag where they should have zug zugged.  That is to say that command and control seemed a bit of an issue, but whether this was because of new controls or the fact that its been so many years since we’ve used the old ones remains to be seen.  As an admitted Blizzard fan, I’ll be watching this one with great interest.

 

 

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King:  Ah, WoW, my not-so-secret vice.  You see, I have this gnome, and she’s stabby…and l33t, and lots of other things that I will never be in real life.  Thus, any new expansion to this cash cow in the Blactivision barn warrants my full attention.  I waited longer to play the beta for ten minutes than I waited for any other single thing at PAX.  And here, readers, is the heresy – it wasn’t worth it.

Yes, I am looking forward to WotLK.  Yes, I will buy it and level my gnomes and roll my tiny pink-haired Death Knight.  That being said, what I saw on the show floor (when the Beta was up) felt not so much like an expansion pack, but rather a major patch.  Of course, I didn’t have time to explore all the new crafting, the second new zone (I only entered the Howling Fjord), or even get a tiny haircut, but I did run around and kill things in an attempt to gain loot, which is the essence of the thing.  The killing was the same as it ever was, the loot was vendorable grays.  I think there is a lot here, to be sure, I just think it will take some deeper delving to discover it.  

 

 

Spore:  “What’s with all the screaming?”  I’m a Wright fan since Sim City.  (The original, Maxis version, thank you.)  I like God games.  I farm my pinatas and research feudalism with the best of them, but for some reason, Spore is not grabbing me.  Create your own creature and allow it to evolve?  I’ve played Flow.  Bring a civilization through time?  I’ve played, well, you know.  Launch ’em into space?  I remember Sim Earth. Yes, it’s shiny, yes, penises abound, but I think the proof is in the primordial soup here, and I’m not appetized. Spore doesn’t feel new to me, it feels like work, and I have enough of that on my plate these days.  

I feel the same way about Little Big Planet, by the way.  It looks adorable, but frankly, I’m overwhelmed by the choices.  I absolutely understand that there is a market for these games, and I look forward to the delights that the superusers of these games create.  I’m just wondering when we decided it was a good thing to encourage people to charge us $60 to do their job and make a game.

 

 

Fallout 3 – Just to prove I’m not a crank, let me say Fallout 3 is so dirty-shiny it hurts.  I loved watching the VATS system in motion, and I praise Ceiling Cat that Bethesda has learned that first and third-person views can live together in one game without creating a civil war.  I think the leveling system is great, the visual design is spot-on for the retro-apocalyptic flavor of the game world, and I think that scorpions suck.  That is all.

 

 

Lock’s Quest – From the folks that brought you Drawn To Life, 5th Cell, comes Lock’s Quest.  First off, let me congratulate 5th Cell for sticking to its DS Wireless Download method of demo this year.  It worked very well for DTL last year, and it was fun to use my DS wireless for something at PAX besides PictoCock and getting creamed at MarioKart.  Not having to wait in line was another big plus.

Lock’s Quest is a strategy RPG which recently won IGN.com’s Best of E3 Strategy Game award.  Don’t let the game’s faint competition at E3 deter you, though – Lock’s Quest is a solid strategy game with a colorful steampunk art style.  More importantly it brings the building-type strategy RPG firmly to the DS.  You have four different building materials to mine and work with, ala Starcraft or Warcraft, and an able commander in Lock himself.  The DS stylus is an excellent building and drawing tool, allowing you to fashion fortresses and walls with ease.  I’m looking forward to owning this one.