Hi, Sean Jacobs here I would like to present my interview with Switchblade Monkeys the wonder team behind the upcoming title Secret Ponchos. I would like to apologize for the delay but, I went Clark Kent and transcribed my interview via my handy digital voice recorder. Lets get into this tasty treat why don’t we.
Me: Hi, Sean Jacobs here from RealOtakuGamer.com can you Please introduce yourself to our readers at realotakugamer.com
Yousuf Mapara: Hi, I’m Yousuf Mapara and I am the Creative Director (and President of Switchblade Monkeys) of Secret Ponchos.
Me: Well, you just answered my second question because I was going to ask you what you’re relation to Secret Ponchos was!
Me: What inspired Switchblade monkeys to create such a unique game like Secret Ponchos?
Yousuf Mapara: We really wanted to make a game that takes us back to multiplayer fun, That’s just fun to pick up and is not this huuuge learning curve of like 30-40 hours just to be able to have fun. We are all hardcore fighting game kinda fans and so we love that depth but not the (inaudible) Though, the main thing is that we wanted to make a Spaghetti Western game so, that’s where it all started, ya know? its just such a cool genre. Basically our musician and I were sitting playing Soul Calibur and we had um, were playing Ennio Morricone in the background at the same time and all of a sudden everything just magically synced up the music, the epic trumpets and uh ya know the drama from the music and it felt like everything we felt like everything we were doing was just choreographed to the music so, we were like “WOW we really need to make a fighting western game”
Me: Isn’t it weird how things just come together like that?
Yousuf Mapara: I know, I know it wish there was a cooler version on how the game started but, its stupid but, that’s how it came together.
Me: That’s OK because that is the most organic way to come up with an great idea.
Me: Were there any other influences drawn from other games pulled into making Secret Ponchos?
Yousuf Mapara: We really wanted to make a game that has this competitive, you pick it up and we want your adrenaline to start pumping, that kind of fun. You pick it up and we want it to feel competitive, fun kind of game… I remember lining up to Street Fighter and getting our quarters and this is the type of game that we wanted to make so you could enjoy. A lot of games recently are awesome experiences but, they have also have became like interactive stories with a lot of cinematic experiences
Me: Yeah, like watching a movie you sometime play.
Yousuf Mapara: …and we wanted to take a step back from that, we have developed plenty of projects like that at AAA studios and we wanted to get to the feeling of “ah man you got me this time I’m going to go home and practice to get the best of you”
Me: Given the multiplayer nature of Secret Ponchos when it is released will Switchblade Monkey launch some sort of DLC to compliment that element?
Yousuf Mapara: You know uh, so our model for DLC is very interesting we don’t want to be very aggressive with dlc. When you buy Secret Ponchos its a complete experience on its own you don’t need to pay more money or buy stuff to be able to fulfill your experience, with that being said the genre is such an interesting genre for character archetypes that we only scratched the surface with our characters so, we are going to keep expanding on the Secret Ponchos Universe and that’s a better road to DLC. As long as the fans want to see the game universe expanded we will keep have new guys and use DLC to fund new characters.
Me: When I was doing research on you guys on YouTube that’s what I was thinking. I was like They could be in a good position to be able to spin DLC in a good way if infused correctly. I don’t like the aggressive DLC, I don’t like aggressive salesmanship at all so like, if your company create a great package its going to make us the fans want to buy it.
Yousuf Mapara: Yeah don’t want people to have their defenses up when playing our games as if we are trying to pitch them, if they bought the game its a fun universe, right? we hope people are looking forward to new expansions and new characters and we could use DLC to fund that. When you are really excited for a game, like Diablo and you are really looking forward to the expansion and its a worthwhile purchase that is the type of feel we want to lean towards.
Me: What about this game excites you the most and what can you tell people about secret ponchos that haven’t heard of it?
Yousuf Mapara: The two things we are the most proud of is the art style we really tried to focus on a great art style but, secondly when you look at team shooters and fighting games and there is a lot of them and they are all feeling kind of similar it was really exciting that we have found a new twist a new presentation for a combat game in this genre hey we are a small indie company and just by moving the camera over top we kinda made our own type of combat game and that’s what we are excited about it doesn’t have this superficial feel of a slight change on an existing shooter game it has its own thing and that’s what we are most excited about.
Me: Thank you again Yousuf and it was a pleasure standing here with you and playing with your staff on multiple matches. I can’t wait for Secret Ponchos and the many ways you will possibly expand its universe.
*Before our scheduled interview Yousuf and I had several conversations one that revealed that Secret Ponchos will be on the Steam for early access. Secret Ponchos was originally slated for PS4 release but, after the outcry of the PC community Switchblade Monkeys have decided to appease the masses and give the Steam community an early shot of the former PlayStation 4 exclusive.
The cold was starting to creep into my bones. It was starting to near midnight in Sacramento, California and I was at my GameStop picking up the next generation console from Sony. The line was about 100 deep and we were all waiting with baited breath to get in so we could get our mitts on the coveted console. As the line started to move people were discussing everything from hoping they could get online to how big the required installs were for most of the new games. I finally approached the register and received my prize.
The Sony PlayStation 4 was launched on November 15, 2013, in North America at midnight and was touted as being the next step in our gaming evolution. With over a million pre-orders just in North America alone it’s looking to be one of the more successful launches in recent memory as well. That being said there have been a myriad of issues reported that people are claiming to be popping up such as freezing, blinking red lights, no video, bad connectors, etc.
The unboxing after waiting in line was your typical affair. The unit was smaller than I heard with no external power supply (brick). It came with one of the new controllers and a micro USB 3.0 connector to power it. It also came with a power cord and HDMI cable to get it powered up and connected to your display of choice. The final thing I came across was what I assumed was half a headset. I say this because the included mic is actually just one ear bud with a mic and switch attached to a single cord that plugs into the controller (think 360 controller/mic setup). Needless to say, once I got home and rummaged around in the dark to set the system up, it was 2 AM and time to go to bed because I had work in 3.5 hours. The console itself has an HDMI in the back, Ethernet, optical, and two USB 3.0 connectors in the front. I tried connecting right before bed and was unable to connect to the PSN (under maintenance). This was the only time I’ve encountered this issue.
Once I came home from work on Friday I fired it up and crossed my fingers. After waiting all day and hearing the issues that had plagued other gamers I was a touch anxious. She came alive right away with the familiar PS logo and launched right into its initial patch for day 1 launch (330 mb). Once that was completed the unit restarted and was ready to play with. The PS4 main menu is pretty much the same layout albeit more streamlined. It definitely has more a user friendly feel to it and seems easier to navigate. The newest addition is that of the party system with cross chat functionality. Anyone who has had a 360 is familiar with this. For those uninitiated, that means you can create a party with your friends and chat with them regardless of what game you’re playing. Now, me personally, it gets irritating to be in a firefight on BF while talking to someone racing in NFS, but that’s a personal preference. It is nice, though, to get a chat going while someone is finishing up a level on another game while you wait for them to join up on you in a lobby. I didn’t invest in the new camera so I don’t have any hands on experience with that (waiting for something other than Playroom to use that on). One nice thing is that main PS4 menu seems to act as more of a portal so that if PSN is down you can still connect to the servers of the individual games.
Now my launch line up consists of Killzone: Shadow Fall, CoD: Ghosts, BF4, and Resogun. Now I had purchased a disc for PS3 that needed to be upgraded (BF4 for PS3), a digital download (Ghosts for PS3), and the actual disc for KZ on PS4 to see what, if any, issues occurred installing or upgrading. To be honest I had zero issues installing and upgrading anything. The biggest issue for me was the amount of time it takes to install almost 50 GB for the next gen games… that’s it. Killzone actually negates this to a degree by asking you which mode you want to play first, campaign or multiplayer. The system will then install your second choice in the background so you can play your initial choice right away.
I’ve played the system for over 6-8 hours each day during the weekend and never once had any sort of heating issue, display problem, freezing or anything. The only issue that I came across during the whole process was a strange whirring noise the system made on the BF4 disc when it was done installing the game. Since the BF4 disc is only used to upgrade the game to PS4 I can attribute that to the fact it’s an incompatible format for the PS4 and was trying to read and reread the disc to figure out what it wanted to do with it. Once you actually start the game, or simply eject the disc, the noise ceases. It does not make this noise for PS4 discs at all or if there is no disc in the drive.
All in all it has been uneventful launch for this gamer, but that is not to say there aren’t defective units. Sony is saying failure rates are as low as .5% and Amazon users are saying 8-9%. If you purchased a defective unit I’m sorry, and I’m sure Sony will have something in the works for you to get you back up and running, just follow the proper channels. Just remember before we start yelling about failures and how the Xbox fans are laughing about any issues that have arisen, that the 360 had a really rough launch with almost a 50% hardware failure rate and it still continued to garner support.
Now we’ll be doing reviews for all the launch titles, but I have to say everything I’ve played designed for PS4 has been beautiful. Killzone especially has earned its rightful place as a launch title. Resogun is also a nice entry into the launch list by Housemarque as well a game called Warframe that’s free for Plus members. Keep in mind as the Xbox launches, and the fan boy war rages on, that we’re all gamers and have diverse tastes. There’s no reason to bash one over the other. Simply follow your games and enjoy the company of other gamers on your platform. There’s no such thing as a perfect system… except maybe the Dreamcast.
Sony recently launched its Bid for Greatness campaign with a website allowing Playstation gamers to use their earned gold trophies to bid on and win actual items. When I heard about it I thought it was a great idea and headed on over to the site bidforgreatness.com and checked it out. To an avid gamer and fan of Playstation there are some really epic items up for auction that many would like to have. It’s simple, sign in with your PSN ID and it pulls the number of gold trophies you have earned to use as your bidding currency. Sounds great right? Think again.
Being a hardcore gamer, I have talied 444 gold trophies which I thought might get me a chance to win one of the items being offered. At the time I got on to the site the first item up for auction was a Killzone Shadowfall Black Hand Costume, already with the highest bid at 462 gold trophies. I did not think that was too bad, being that I can go and knock out some more gold trophies. It quickly jumped up to 975 and finally ended with the winning bid of 1050. When the auction closed it showed the winning bid amount and the ID of the winner, REDSOXFAN95.
I was curious to see how many gold trophies this person actually had and what they would have left to possibly bid on other items. I headed over to the site I use for tracking my rankings and trophy progress at psnprofiles.com. The site itself tracks many details and makes it easy to see trophies laid out with time stamps, time taken to platinum a game, as well as many other stats. I put in the winner’s ID and it came up with an error, but I was still able to proceed to the profile. It was easy to see within the first 25 games or so that something was not right.
Ok, 18 games completed all on the same day, possible if they all have one remaining trophy. All of them taking 1 week 11 hours to complete: impossible. They were all started on the same day. If you click on any one of these games you will see the exact same information for the trophies earned. All 18 platinums were earned on January 10, 2013 at 10:37:16 AM. Impossible. Every other trophy on these games were also earned at the same exact date and time, January 2, 2013 at 11:03:55 PM, the time the game was started. Impossible. Without counting each trophy, on average a game has 50 trophies plus 1 platinum, 18 games would be somewhere in the area of 900 trophies, not only in one day, but at the same exact time. You can look further into it, there are many other things that dont add up with other games. Red Dead Redemption completed 100% in 0 seconds, the list goes on. Below you can see the details of just 2 of these games with the time stamps.
This is just one blatant example, which up until now really meant nothing other than bragging rights. I have been aware that this was going on for a long time now. Looking into the subject, this situation is most likely using a modified PS3 with custom firmware and a program that just allows you to go into trophies, check off which ones you want and presto, instant trophies. That explains them all having the exact dates and times. Easily enough, they could take a bit more time, and use the same process, and just make sure they spread them out over time and it would be less obvious. What would be the point? Up until now it didn’t matter for anything and those that are really into trophies could call someone out on it. Now we are told we have a chance to win cool, rare, and awesome prizes, now it matters.
This is one example of request for save files. I completed the game the day it came out, the 20th overall person, and this is just one of the requests I received.
Another method is using another user’s save file. I myself have received many messages asking for my save files for games. People using sites like psnprofiles.com can view stats such as the first 50 gamers to acheive the platinum for the game as well as the most recent 50. From those lists, most often from being in the first 50, other gamers have messaged me asking for my save files, claiming the game is too hard. They have even asked me if all my trophies were legitmate and, by their own admission, have not legitmately earned all of theirs. Where has the fun in gaming gone? I know many gamers that get a great feeling after putting in hours on a game, and earning some difficult trophies.
Now, getting back to the Bid for Greatness auction and the winning bidder on the first item. I was able to contact the crew at psnprofiles.com to get more info on how their process works. “In normal situations his profile would be completely deleted but I’ve added it back to show people the issue”. So this user’s profile has been added back to allow everyone to see that not only should this person have not won the item, they should not even be allowed to bid. So far Sony has made no statement regarding this issue despite the many comments on their blog post and twitter. This is something that should have been thought out before opening up this auction. How does psnprofiles.com make this determination? “Currently the detection is all automatic based on trophy time stamps. We’re trying to get a team together to (also) go over profiles manually and spot inconsistencies”. Other trophy tracking sites have their own methods and some do process it manually. Trophy tracking sites just read the info off of Playstation’s own website, and that info is posted according to the info on the PS3 when trophies are synced to the server. All this information is available to Sony, and other users have been banned for such violations in the past.
Reading through the numerous posts, many gamers are outraged. Even the ones that dont have many trophies say they know they don’t have a chance at these auction items, but they do not want to see “cheaters” win. The gamers that do have lots of trophies, putting in their own time and gaming also lose out to someone who can just rack up 900+ trophies in 1 second. If this matter is not corrected or addressed, what message is Sony giving to its consumers? On top of that, the audacity of someone like REDSOXFAN95 to even participate and think no one would notice. You can view his profile for yourself, http://psnprofiles.com/redsoxfan95, and you can see in the comment on his account “Acheived Greatness”, and there is nothing that was acheived nor any greatness about it. These items are meant for loyal Playstation fans who put their time and money into gaming, many that put blood, sweat, and tears (and maybe some rage quit and broken controllers) and feel pride in unlocking their trophies through dedication. These are the gamers that deserve to win. Shame on you Sony.
Bejeweled 2 can easily be called a game that most hardcore or casual gamers have at least tried before. The game is widely available and has seen its share of different looks and style. The game has been available on almost every platform imaginable including mobile cell phones. This can easily called one of Popcaps “Jewel” games.
The Bejeweled gameplay concept is very simple, match 3 in a row of the same color to clear those specific Jewels off. Better yet, if you where to match more the 3 special items are created. Matching 4 provides a bomb that clears out a small cluster of Jewels. 5 Provides an item when combined with a jewel, destroys every other jewel of the same color off the board. Finally 6 created an electrical jewel that shoots an electrical current in 4 directions destroying everything in its path.
The point of the game varies on the mode you are playing the game in. In Classic mode, players must complete a progress bar. The higher the clearing combo, the faster the progress bar fills. Each time the progress bar is filled, players advance to the next stage. Careful though, if your combos arent pulled carefully you might end up in a bind with no possible moves, at that point its game over and have to start over from stage one.
The other modes in the game include Action, Puzzle and endless mode. Action mode allows you to enter your top scores, this in turn allows you to compete with others to get the highest score possible. In Puzzle mode you are presented with… well…. puzzles. Boards are presented to players and players must complete the board with a certain amount of moves allowed. Endless is… well… endless…. play until you cant play no more!
Overall Popcap does a great job with their games, they know exactly how to reach out to gamers of all sorts. They are fully aware of what they are doing when it comes down to a specific group of people to target. Bejeweled is a game series that will be here for the long run. They have so much room to apply different aspect to always make the game seem refreshed. I wouldnt doubt seeing new ways to play in the near future along with new items and power ups.
Poker Night at the Inventory 2 is TellTale’s latest Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and Playstation Network game and is, as the title suggests, a Poker game at it’s core. More than that, this downloadable title is an example of how great personalities and some clever writing can make a functional but not particularly exciting card game into an engaging and fun experience for the player.
After a short and cameo filled introduction the player, aptly named and referenced to as “Player”, is introduced to their adversaries for the night’s game; Brock from “The Venture Bros.”, Claptrap from “Borderlands”, Ash from “Army of Darkness” and Sam of “Sam and Max”. Other characters from these titles and other telltale titles drift in and out during the course of tournaments.
The Cast of Poker Night at the Inventory 2
The writing in this game is superb, drawing from popular culture, developer-in jokes and character backstories, always keeping the player engaged and chuckling throughout. TellTale has made the focus of the game the characters and their interactions whilst playing, not the poker itself. This works well in this game as the mix of nostalgia and humour, brought to life by the characters and Glad0s, allow the player get wrapped up in the experience not the base gameplay, often hanging out for the cast’s quips and comments more than counting the chips on the table and watching for tells.
The poker in game feels a little drab itself, and without the writing would probably be just another basic poker game. The choice of Glad0s as dealer helps to liven up the gameplay as she regularly drops from the ceiling to provide ‘helpful’ comments to the player. The game also features character animations to give away when they are bluffing, but they are not common or very well executed. The Player may also buy drinks for the cast from the bartender Mad Moxxi of the Borderlands games. They make the ‘tells’ from others more obvious, but they still didn’t play much of a role in the results of the tournaments. When you get to playing you get a choice between “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “Omaha”, both games play well and the tournaments serve as opportunities for bragging rights, and more importantly, unlocks. After completing challenges you are offered the chance to win a special item from each character’s title, such as Ash’s Necronomicon and Claptrap’s Video Game Award, each awarding the player with unlocks outside of the game.
Borderlands 2 Unlocks
The game’s brilliant writing is added to by the ability to get heads and skins for Borderlands 2 on all platforms, and then platform specific unlocks including avatar items, Team Fortress 2 hats and exclusive themes. These unlocks keep the game playable well after the dialogue starts to repeat, but once you complete these there is little to keep you playing after the occasional game for nostalgia’s sake. There are also felt, deck and chip variants for each title to unlock, purchasable with ‘unlock tokens’ won in tournaments. These re-skin the bar and game aspects, but don’t affect gameplay.
Overall this game is quite fun and well worth the price tag, quite cheap on all platforms. The jokes, dialogue and unlocks make the game quite addictive and entertaining, but the replay value drops once the dialogue starts to loop and the unlocks are all collected. Some extra modes, multiplayer and more dialogue would help with the replay value, but the game is still great. For some laughs, free items and a good bit of poker fun this is well worth the download. A solid 8/10!
Mahjong is a game that most people by now have played or at least have heard of. The game involves of different tiles and the goal is to match them all up to clear the game. The game is widely available, in fact most people play this at work when they should be working, since it’s available in most computers. This game finally came to the PS3 back in 2009.
Mahjong has been around for quite sometime and is generally known as a time killer in China. As stated earlier, you start with a stack of mahjong tiles that have icons as well numbers that are in a certain shape or pattern. These tiles are to be matched up with each other and removed from gameplay. The concept is very easy just continue doing this until the board game is complete and cleared out.
The controls can be a little frustrating. The cursor is pretty much the same cursor you see on a computer, but the PS3 controller is nowhere near as precise as a mouse, obivously. As you can see from the video, when you move the pointer with your D-pad or your left joystick the selector doesn’t snap to the tiles. Instead you are having to navigate to each tile individually. It would have been a lot easier to have your arrow glide past the block and just scroll to each one. You need to micromanage and adjust for every…. single… move.
The developers of the game where able to give it a nice little twist, they took something that was old and gave it a new fresh look and concept. It features five parables that are told through nine chapters and narrated storybook cutscenes. After getting a piece of the story, you play a game of mahjong to advance to the next scene, which is a static background with the characters and objects moving around on top of the image, but it fails a bit. Example, the quality of the narration is bad. It’s one guy narrating the stories, and sounds tinny and echoy or far away. Also, the art is pretty plain and simple.
I liked that game, burned time. Which is what I would need when I was bored. Although I really can’t recommend to download this one. This game has plenty of potential if the story line, graphics and sound were a bit better. Not to mention the controls. The music is relaxing and calming. Once again as I stated in my Super Stardust HD review, this was one of those games that I downloaded mainly for the trophies.
When trophies were first introduced to Playstation I was intrigued and excited. This was Sony’s way of competing with Microsoft Xbox 360 Achievements. Super Star Dust HD was among one of the first games that started the trophy system. My goal? To obtain EVERY single trophy! This was also my first full 1080p game. So I decided to give this game another breath of fresh air and give it another go.
The game has many different play modes, such as arcade mode, planet mode, endless, survival, bomber and time attack and it also includes a 2 player co op mode. For the sake of this throwback we will go visit just plain and simple arcade mode. The player controls a space fighter craft that can move in any direction on a spherical shield surrounding a planet, while simultaneously firing in any direction independent of its movement. In arcade mode you are visiting planets and umm… destroying asteroids and alien enemies. Think of it as a very advanced Asteroids game. You get many different types of weapons for different types of asteroids. Rock Crusher for regular asteroids, Fire for gold asteroids and Ice for Ice asteroids. Along with those weapons you also get bombs which destroy everything with a certain radius. Weapons can also be upgrade by shooting the Kryptronite looking asteroid rocks that are found with in the bigger asteroids. Among the weapon power up you can also find points, shields and 1-ups.
After MANY frustrating attempts I was able to obtain every single trophy in the game. After doing so, I wondered… now what? I was able to get much play out of the game through the other modes in the game. The game was extremely easy to start and play for any novice player, but it does challenge even hardcore players. Very worth the $10.00 if you want to burn some time.
“JET GRIND RADIIIOOOOO!!!” proclaimed exuberantly by Professor K. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Jet Grind Radio or, Jet Set Radio as it’s called in Japan, has been given the re-release and HD coat of paint, and the original Japanese title, Jet Set Radio. Now the question is: Can a decade or more game from the Dreamcast, hold up well, or crash and burn? This reveiw will primarily focus on the PSN and XBLA versions, there is an Vita version out as well.
I’ll start here, if you remember the game fondly, for everything that it gave you, and revolutionized gaming at the time. Guess what, every single thing holds up from the previous incarnation on the Dreamcast. I’ll go with good first. Sega kept the game exactly the same, to the game’s features as the first time it was released. Simply amazing, beautiful, and nostalgia factor off the scales. The graffiti in crisp 1080p, character models even more streamline with the up to HD quality. But I’ll start with the graffiti, since it’s the star of the show, more than the weird story, control the airwaves, and control Tokyo-To and the taggers story. Every single graffiti from the first is back as well as a dozen new ones, which Sega picked to be in the game. Link to the reveal video here:
Congratulations to the winners, personal favorite is Snack Attack! That is all. But additionally, they also kept the create your own graffiti feature in game… sadly, XBLA version didn’t have it included for some reason. Sega, also, added a better camera to the game, allowing for better controls while skating, and when the camera slightly reverses during certain tricks and moments after tagging walls. It’s not a bad thing, that the game remained the same. Also, the music, the music wasn’t touched, but reduced number, and it remains the same selection of pop, punk, rock, hip hop, instrumental, and electronic. The music and the graffiti made the game a cult classic, and I’m glad, they kept the music the same, while adding new graffiti to the mix. Plus, best GGs in the gang, are Cube and Garam… He’s the weird version of Spider Man and a foot ninja… look!
The guy on the far top left, that’s Garam, and on his left Cube
Now, onto the bad; remember, all the bad from the first version of the game on the Dreamcast. Well, they all persist in the HD version. I’ll start with controls… Seriously, remember having the inspector a 100ft from you and you have to finish that last graffiti with a full circle and half circle on the analog, and you’d be done finish the board? And for good measure, throw in, your one shot from restarting. And end result, you getting shot in the back, because your control wouldn’t register the freaking half circle. Yup my friend, that’s still present, love it or hate it. Even with the improved camera, it still has those moments where, you skate down the hall towards the Poison Jam for the boss fight, and you can’t avoid them, because the damn camera changed, and controls were inverted, yup still there. Also, with the new camera, it also, has rather random moments of pop-in and popup during levels. Also, another bad translation to HD, was the music during the cutscenes, tend to skip. Last thing, loading times, I don’t exactly remember the loading from the first iteration, but in the re-release, they seem rather long, but that could be me. Not a rage worthy long, but long load times, but a slight nuisance all the same.
Those new to the game, will probably guff at the simplicity of the controls and the feel of not doing the tricks, and everything being automated. But those who remember the game for what it really was, a romp through Tokyo-To, tagging everything from walls, to water towers, billboards, helicopters, rival gangs and the Inspector, you’ll love everything about this game, like first time you played it almost 12 years ago. The game style, humor, music, and fun have all translated well, as well as the quirky things that made you want to jump into the game and hunt down the GGs yourself. Even with the time that has passed on the game and franchise, the game with its new HD paint, character models sporting still very few polygons, and the game is worth the price tag.
Okami was a gorgeous game that came of for the PS2 in 2006. I still remember buying it at Gamestop: my best friend and I couldn’t afford the game, so we split it, 50/50 and shared the game until we both beat it. Then it just… ended up… at my house. Okami was known for its gorgeous design and beautiful blending of Japanese folklore with an original tale and it is one of my favorite games of all time.
Imagine my delight when I heard they would be making the HD version for PS3! I’m happy to report that after playing the HD version of Okami, I am still in love with this game!
The player is Ammy, the wolf avatar of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Ammy and her pal Issun must journey to find all of Ammy’s lost brush techniques while destroying the evil darkness that threatens the land of Nippon (historical Japan). Along the way you will play puzzles, solve mysteries and meet hilarious characters with silly things on their heads. The game is an action/platformer puzzle game with RPG elements in the fact that you can customize your weapons and stats.
The story is fun and interesting, with some strange (but not in a bad way) twists. There are also numerous callbacks to Japanese folklore and culture, which I loved. There are even some easter eggs. Here’s a hint: go get some Cherry Cakes from Mrs. Orange for an awesome surprise.
For those who played the game on the PlayStation 2, the question you most likely want answered is: how does it look? For some games, the HD upgrade makes a world of noticeable difference, but to me, I can’t really see a difference in the HD version. The originaly game was already polished and pretty. There were no dim colors or edgy polygons in the land of Nippon. I showed off a gameplay video of Okami HD in action, and what I mentioned there still holds true.
Is the game lovely, a feast for your eyes? Bottom line: yes, yes, yes.
The gameplay is pretty addicting. You have the main quests and sidequests which follow the standard format of running around and doing things, but there are also mini-games that are more like puzzles and some that are more like oldschool 2D games. There are also secrets all over the place, prompting you to spend hours in certain areas just to be sure you found them all. The game isn’t actually open world, but the skills you gain and hidden pathways will make you feel like it is as you gain more and more abilities.
Much of the story hinges on your use of the celestial brush, a tool with which Ammy draws symbols that cause actual changes to game world. For example, drawing a slash mark on a tree will cut it down. That this game was developed before motion controls came into popularity is rather amazing.
This is an easy game to get into, although younger children may not have the attention span for all the text at the beginning of the game.
New for HD
Trophies! Yay! Now everyone will know that I beat Hayabusa at turnip pickin! I don’t know why you trophy lovers need them so much, but they are there and they are not all based on things you have to do to progress the story, which I appreciated.
You can also use the Move to play. Some of you may remember that a version of Okami was released for the Nintendo Wii a few years back. Quite a few folks complained that it was actually too hard to play the game with the Wii, although a game involving drawing should be right at home with our motion controllers. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Move, so I couldn’t test it out.
I asked my good friend how he felt about it, and he found one of the hardest parts to be making straight lines. Other than that he said it seems simple enough.
I heard one or two people grumble that this game is $20. Please do not grumble, this game is worth every penny. Gorgeous graphics, great characters and a beautiful story: what more do you need?
Oh Sonic, you’ve had your up and you’ve certainly had your downs. 11 years ago you released your last game on a Sega made console, the Dreamcast. For many, but not all, the Dreamcast era was the last time they saw a “good” Sonic game. With Sonic Adventure 2 HD just released on the PSN and Xbox Live, does this game live up to the nostalgia of long time Sonic fans? Or perhaps this game was never good to begin with?
Tell me how these two get mistaken for each other???
Sonic Adventure 2 is cut into two parts, Hero Side and Dark side. Hero represents Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles; Dark representing Eggman and the debut of Shadow and Rogue. Beating both sides unlocks a joint mission that ends the story. It’s interesting to see both perspectives of this adventure and witnessing why Eggman does what he does, but I think Sonic Adventure 1 did it better with each character getting there own story. Sonic and Shadow represent traditional Sonic gameplay, and honestly that’s where the most fun to be had is. Tails and Eggman are in these weird bipedal robots that are slow and bulky but can be fun at times. The worst levels are Knuckles and Rouge. Once again, the Master Emerald is shattered and Knuckles has to find 3 pieces per level to put it back together a la Sonic Adventure 1. Rouge plays the same way; she just wants the emerald for herself. These levels can be extremely frustrating, the your meter tells you Knuckles is right on top of an emerald piece, only for it to take you 15 minutes to realize it’s a level below you and the only way to get there is to go all the way around the level… Ya, it’s annoying. And let’s not forget the surprise drop down enemies that you can’t avoid unless you already know they are coming.
However, there are good sides to this game. The colors are bright and beautiful and runs smoothly. I always thought SA2 looked worse than SA1 and it shows here in HD. Same music is back and still get’s stuck in your head, in a good way. (?Fallow me, set me free?) As I said before, Sonic and Shadow are the most fun. Zippy through space grinding on rails or running through the jungle is pretty rad. And once again the Chao are back. I can’t lie, I find it really enjoyable to raise my Chao, maybe because I’m an animal lover and don’t have to clean the poop up for them. There’s also a lot for relay value trying to get better scores and emblems. Camera angles will sometimes go wonky but I didn’t have too much trouble with it. This game is fun, you just have to put up with the frustration as well.
Fight little blue cuddly things!
The last Sonic game to be released on a Sega owned platform before the company bowed out of the console wars. Sonic Adventure 2 for its time was a fun game, but with Sonic lost in the realm subpar games, SA2 seems like it might have been turning point from great, to mediocre. It’s still fun and better than a lot of Sonic games we’ve had to deal with in this generation (Sonic the Hedgehog on PS3 and Xbox is garbage) it still has its problems. Sonic Adventure 2 for the PSN and Xbox Live runs straight down the middle with a 3 out of 5.