In South Korea, Starcraft became a national obsession, spawning a following comparable to professional sports with star players, matches played in stadiums with play by plays, and even little Zergling sneakers. But what about in the USA? Can EA try to make Command and Conquer as popular in the US as Blizzard did with Starcraft in Korea? EA's new online show, Battlecast Primetime, isn't a bad start.
The first episode runs around an hour and covers an online match of Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars with play by play from no less than 4 commentators, features an interview with actor Joe Kucan (Kane from the C&C series), a preview of the upcoming expansion pack, and no less than 5 commercial breaks for other EA products. The commercials are short at least and the Simpsons game looks surprisingly promising. Players can submit recordings of online matches for consideration for future episodes of the show.
id Software recently has a deal going on where they are offering a dozen of their classic games, plus all the expansion packs, for $69.95 via Valve's online distribution system, Steam. It's a pretty good deal for those who enjoy classic FPS PC games and even includes recent games such as Doom 3. The titles are also available for individual purchase or in smaller compilation packs as well.
Here's a partial listing titles available in the id Super Pack (not including the expansion packs): Commander Keen (episodes 1-5), Ultimate Doom, Doom II, Doom III, Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, Quake, Quake II, Quake III: Arena, Wolfenstein 3D, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It's a good deal for that price, to say the least.
RPGs are one of the most beloved genres of games for hard-core console or PC gamers, yet each platform provides very different gaming
experiences. Many readers of this site might have lost their RPG cherry with a Computer Role-Playing Game (CRPG) such as Ultima or Wizardry. My experience started out with Video Game RPGs (VRPGs). This is a brief look at differences between the two mixed with nostalgic memories of playing a variety of RPGs growing up.
About a year ago, Infamous Adventures released an unofficial VGA remake of King's Quest III: To Heir is Human. While graphically it is impressive with a nice MIDI score, the voice-acting is so cringe-worthy one wonders if it was done on purpose to pay homage to early CD-ROM video game voice-acting! It's worth a try for those who enjoyed the original and it was developed with Adventure Game Studio, a great Graphical Adventure Game toolkit that I need to start tooling around with.
Somewhat goofy gaming blog Destructoid recently featured an article on a great retro-arcade in Portland, Oregon called Ground Kontrol. The interview with Anthony Ramos, the co-owner, is brief, but makes a good point-- is having a retro-arcade/bar combination the best way for the next generation of arcades to live on?
Since I live in Portland, Ground Kontrol is not too far from me. It's a lot of fun and pretty cheap-- I think all the games are either 25 or 50 cents to play. They feature titles as old as Asteroids or Tron and have a 2nd floor full of pinball games ranging from a simplistic Star Trek board from the 70's to a ultra-complicated Lords of the Rings pinball table. Well worth the visit if anyone stops by in Portland.
Action Button is a recent video game review blog that reminds one of Howard Beale from the 1976 flick Network-- they're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore! The reviews are honest, harsh, and to the point, if a bit full of florid vocabulary.
Their modus operandi, according to their "about" page, is rather lengthy, but it boils down to being rather refreshing-- "We're going to play games for a bare minimum of two hours each and we'll let you know when, where, and why we stop playing; a great game should make us forget our day job."
Let's take a look at a few excerpts from some of Action Button's reviews. One thing I appreciate about them is that they don't give a good review unless they mean it.
Cooking and gaming have some similarities-- there are multiple steps to complete before finishing them, they require a wide variety of "moves" to be successful, and they are best served when piping hot. OK, scratch that last one. Majesco's Cooking Mama is a fun combination of Julia Child and Wario Ware and a must for fans of micro-gaming or kitchen mavens.
Though there are a few different modes, most of the action happens when players select Let's Cook from the main menu. You can unlock recipes as you go and even if you consistently fail each step, you still can complete a recipe. While this eliminates challenge, it also eliminates possible frustration-- players are never stuck on one particular recipe and they can replay them to win bronze, silver, or gold medals to their hearts' content.
Each recipe has several phases, whether it's as simple as measuring water or as tricky as filling dumplings. Controls are fairly responsive, but the goals are somewhat unclear as in Wario Ware. Since each phase only lasts 10 seconds at most, players have a chance to learn from their mistakes, but the lack of any tutorial is interesting.
The majority of cuisine represented is Japanese. They also have some American dishes, but with a Japanese touch (spaghetti cooked in a frying pan with a dash of ketchup?!). Having lived in Japan for a month, I have to attest to the accuracy of the dishes represented here. Gyoza (fried dumplings) and udon (typically soup with thick noodles in a fish-based broth) are more typical of Japanese cuisine than chicken teriyaki and fried ice cream.
After trading in a few games, I had some credit at the local Gamestop available. In an attempt to beef up my GBA/DS game collection, I got Capcom Classics Mini Mix for only $1! Is this fairly recent collection of retro games for the GBA worth it?
The games are good, but a few niggling presentation issues keep it from what is should be.
To be fair, the games included here are oldies but goodies and are were originally NES ports of arcade games that are heavily changed from the originals in effective ways. Strider adds some RPG elements, a plot hampered by a laughable translation, and Mega Man style stage selection to what originally was a fairly generic, but cool, side scroller. Bionic Commando is arguably the best of the bunch here with several levels, some lite RPG elements, and a plot that some how works in spite of censorship (the original villains in the Japanese versions were Nazis; for the American version, all swastikas were removed and the villains are now a generic evil army). Mighty Final Fight takes an ultra-cute kiddy approach to a remake of the first game of the series with a superfluous addition of having your characters level up.
At the Game Developer's Conference 2007, Peter Molyneux discussed some interesting game design decisions when working on Fable 2, the follow up to Fable, the critically acclaimed RPG for the Xbox. Kotaku featured a detailed article on Molyneux's presentation.
Some Armchair Arcadians might recall Molyneux as a producer/designer of several classic PC games such as Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, and Syndicate.
Here's a clip: