Thursday
Nov042010

PPR 31

On Halloween Day, we at Press Pause Radio recorded a massive Zombiecast which is now available for all to hear. The normal cast welcomes special guest Daeruna to discuss current events in the gaming industry as well as some twitter fighting and resignations.  Toast harnesses the energy of Ryu before reviewing the recent Left 4 Dead 2 DLC,  "The Sacrifice".

Toast then is attacked by an incoming zombie hoard, while the remaining cast runs for safety. From there they explain the history of zombies not only in video games but in writing and cinema as well. It seem like everything nowadays has zombies, and Press Pause Radio is no different. Go to the forums or respond on the Facebook, Destructoid and Twitter pages about this week's episode. Also please remember to rate and review us on iTunes and Zune for your chance to win fifteen amazing games and more

PPR Episode 31

Thursday
Nov042010

The end of an era By Sean B.

It's been nearly a week since Keji Inafuene, long time designer and producer at Capcom announced he was turning in his letter of resignation after 23 years with the outstanding Japanese developer. Aside from his roll in the character design of Mega Man, Inafuene was a key player in producing the Resident Evil, Onimusha and Deadrising titles. That's four major franchises he's influenced, so it's easy to say this is probably quite a shock to both Capcom and the Japanese gaming industry - but what about the fans?

One thing's for sure, future Megaman titles will probably never feel the same. Even though his general influence will continue to live on, it's still scary to think of the outcome after two decades of the same man being primarily involved in one of the greatest classic gaming series we have. One could even argue it's similar to Miyamoto having no say in the development of a Mario game, or if Kojima had absolutely nothing to do with a Metal Gear Solid title. How will this affect the classic Megaman series? Is there even the possibility of seeing other changes take place to everyone's favorite blue bomber?

It was reported that Inafuene left for "personal reasons", so hopefully we'll see future projects he wishes to accomplish alone or by establishing his own development firm. Earlier this year he expressed great dissatisfaction with other Japanese game developers, claiming they were far behind many of the innovations we've seen in the West. Perhaps he's looking to either head west himself, or possibly create a company aimed more towards concepts in Western game development?


Unfortunately there's no telling what could happen next. Press Pause Radio wishes him the best with his endeavors, and would like to extend a great amount of thanks to what he's given the industry. Even if it's not directly involved with gaming, we know he'll move on to do great things with his life, hopefully giving folks something else to love about his work.

Friday
Oct292010

Motion Controls: A burning desire...By Iodine

Nintendo attempted a revolution with the advent of the Wii’s new fangled controller. That spark of innovation has benefited their bottom line immensely. As well as introduced a fresh crowd to the world of video games. It’s a situation that a lot of companies strive for, but rarely acquire.

The real question is whether this is a change that can sustain momentum or not. With competitors jumping into the fray and console sales hitting a saturation point, I find myself wondering more and more about that. There’s also a disconcerting gap between the quality regular gamers expect and what the casual market is more than happy with.

 

Let’s focus on the experience for now. Being with the Wii controller is like going on an amazing first date. She pulls some impressive tricks that grab your attention. And the next thing you’re in complete bliss on cloud nine. As the days stray on, you find yourself imaging what the future holds for the two of you. And it’s nothing but greatness. Months pass by. The Wii is still in your life, but you’re not giving it the attention you once did. Your private dreams slowly give way to the realty of the situation. She tries to dress herself up and even beckons nostalgia to spark your fire. But her tricks have become routine. Her limitations stand out like cracks in a mirror. Love is over. Before long the Wii collects dust as it sits neglected. It might even get tucked away into the closet. Bad end. Obviously this isn’t how every experience with the Wii is. But it seems to be consensus among the crowd I hang with.

 

I think Nintendo realizes this. That their gimmick can only go so far. This is where the Motion Plus comes into play. It’s a twenty dollar add-on that promises to make everything better with its gyroscopic technology. The ultimate promise being that it’s really, really close to 1:1 motion. The device has only made me realize that it should have been implemented in the controller’s design from the start. Now Nintendo sits in a position where their market is divided between the converted (those with) and the sinners (those without). Too bad for them the sinners make up most of their market. To attract new buyers and correct the market balance, Nintendo has combined the Motion Plus and Wii Controller into a unified plastic husk all for a mere $40. What a bargain! The problem remains that so few games bother to utilize the add-on. There’s hardly an incentive to invest or upgrade with the new red bundle (diehard Nintendo fans aside).

 

Now we get into the software. WiiSports was the perfect showcase for the new motion technology. Granted it’s more an assortment of tech demos, but it’s all Nintendo needed to dazzle audiences. The actual controls are primitive to keep it accessible. And modeling the game after real world activities gave the casual gamer something they could relate to. A flood of imitators would soon hit the Wii trying to duplicate WiiSports’ success. The themes and licenses may vary per title, but they’re all essentially mini-games collections. That’s not particularly appealing to the average gamer. They’ve become accustomed to epic storylines, the highest tier in graphics and sounds. And most importantly were raised on multi-faceted controllers with a dizzying amount of buttons. When a sophisticated title does hit the Wii, it typically lands with a dull thud. The mainstay gamer simply isn’t there.

 

This leads me to the competitors, Microsoft and Sony. Each has put out their own take on the motion control phenomenon. Microsoft dropped the controller altogether in favor of a camera based system. The caveat being that the new model 360 can power the device whereas an external power supply is needed to make it work with older consoles. Sony deployed a compartmentalized controller that operates alongside their own camera. Technical differences aside, the end goal is the same. Where these companies could have made the difference is in their marketing and software. Unfortunately both companies seem perfectly happy to follow after Nintendo’s PR. It starts with the ads showing people of various ethnic and age groups with big smiles swishing their limbs about like loose noodles. And it will end with the presence of cookie-cutter games that don’t excite. At a point people will get bored with the limited variety and on move to more exciting endeavors. This leaves the regular audience, but they’ve already exited onto greener pastures. The customer pool is getting shallow. When it finally dries up, the big companies will keep throwing out ideas until they get one that brings the masses shambling back.

 

For all the potential that motion controls have, the very companies behind them are sabotaging their own products with inept implementation. I would like to think that this technology could be taken seriously and that it’s here to stay, but the current path is keeping it squarely in fad territory. Now only if we can get Kojima to a produce an all motion controlled game. Then we’d be talking about changing the face of the industry.

Thursday
Oct282010

Quarter Circle Forward: Popful Mail By GeorgieBoysAXE

I recently did a Quarter Circle Forward for most recent episode of Press Pause Radio for an over-looked gem that may have unfortunately been over-looked because of the format it was released on in here in the states yet contrary to popular belief, we received the best version of the original PC-8801 & PC-9801 original that was ported to the PC Engine CD & Super Famicom.

The plot of the game as I touched on before is about an elfish bounty hunter by the name of Mail, who's simply out to make it rich & get her due, however she just happens to be a terrible bounty hunter & though she's skilled with a sword, her bounties are always one step ahead of her, her most recent attempt was at the infamous Nuts-Cracker, as she collectedly self deprecates through her defeated trek back into the nearest village, she finds her new bounty goal listed on the board being Muttonhead, a skilled & powerful wizard who has recently become evil & has been guilty of misdeeds & evil doings, thus starting off your adventure. As I finish up the premise of the game's into & lead into how the  game plays out, I need iterate that this was all introduced through high quality cut scenes which proves my point over the attention that Sega CD could have received through the western releases only seen here where the shitty glaucoma inducing lego-Esq cut scenes pale in comparison to all of ported Mega CD releases that we were able to enjoy here like Sonic CD, Lunar, Popful Mail, Dark Wizard, & the Ecco titles. Falcom placed the same care into the visuals & cut scenes to where not only are they presented in the clearest resolution that the Sega CD can produce but the animation can really be comparable to what you would expect from anime in 1994.

Popful Mail is a side-scrolling platform game that utilizes Metroid-vania aspects through it's stage layout but the stages are still split into selectable stages on an over world map to where not all the levels are completely connected though there will be certain secret exits that allow you to appear at an earlier are of the world map presenting this short cut so again there are pseudo Metroid-Vania aspects as well as the later gameplay objectives resemble back tracking in a similar fashion. As the game progresses opening up the plot & enemies, the game will become a much more in depth experience then simply hack'n slash & platforming as you will have two other characters join you in a party like fashion being the apprentice wizard Tatt & the annoyingly adorable smaller breed of dragon Gaw which both have a different play style then Mail. Tatt is able to attack through projectiles which when equipped through different magical staff allow his attacks to be elementally imbued with fire or ice or even allow an after control of altering the trajectory & flight path of the launched projectile attack which helps his favor to towards hard to reach enemies or specific bosses that allow him to fight from a distance as opposed to Mail who is mostly close-quarters sans her throwing weapons. Tatt is much weaker then Mail though in terms of offense & defense making it very easy for him to receive heavy damage or die fairly quick if you make the wrong decisions. Gaw is a mixture of both strengths being he has some strong attacks depending on his equipment & projectile fireball attacks or claw swipes & he has an incredibly high jump, allowing him to reach certain platforms that the others can not reach at all, however his jump is all height & no distance so I highly recommend against using Gaw for any chasm crossing which attributes to his biggest weakness in being is he's so God damn slow. This will be a big issue if you like switching between the two but you'll notice that you won't use Gaw as much other than areas that demand for his skill set.


The three playable characters will be selectable anytime their skills are called for from what I also attribute to the very Pokemon-styled menu accessed accessed from one of the buttons which still act as a way to pause the game with out actually being the pause button which is always nifty to me but anyway it allows you to access your status increasing items, equipment, & healing items as well as a Save & Load function that can be used ( granted if you're using a Sega CD Model 2 which for fuck's sake all of you who own a Sega CD should be using, ) which can literally be done anywhere & at any point in the game attributing to a very Pokemon-styled save system sans the fact that you do have more than one save slot for Popful Mail, & if you are unfortunate enough to have a Sega CD model 1 then there is a password that you can use to access at the beginning of the game but it will allow you to start from the beginning of the stage you're in which is extremely inferior to the save system alternative if you have the correct hardware. The game also pays incredible detail to it's presentation even though the game's story itself is extremely hokey & very tongue-in cheek when it comes to the dialogue but I really enjoy that the dialogue changes up with the NPCs that you confront depending on which character you have selected to confront them. The dialogue itself, whether you're speaking with NPC's in town or any across the stage you find are actually very rarely presented in just text, this game boast several hours of voice acting which are all really well done especially for a pre-32 bit era release where this sort of thing was extremely rare & only seen with the Sega CD or Turbo-Grafx 16 CD releases which were...not done well. Here's where the game does fall short & there are flaws that can not be simply looked over.


Everyone is aware that in any game, even more modern ones, that when you're damaged there is usually a temporary post damage time time to where you're invulnerable to any other further damage giving you time to recover in the dangerous situation that you have been in whether it was an obstacle or enemy, this is not the case with Popful Mail. if damaged you will immediately be ready to continue & if placed in that shitty predicament ( which you will be in later levels ) ready to receive more consecutive damage meaning there can be times where you're at full health & after making a mistake or mistep against a group of enemies or a lethal obstacle, you'll watch in horror which as your character flails & ricochets against bouts of damage to their death, & regardless of the equipment that you'll receive to boost your defense, you'll still take stupid amounts of damage, that will constantly have you attempt to keep a stock health items, which isn't hard because I may have failed to mention that acquiring gold is extremely easy from enemies & most enemies are actually guaranteed to carry a certain amount of gold so you can simply exploit a respawn of said enemy after their previous defeat & build up your early digital retirement fund & stores are abundant both in towns & the action stages themselves. Again I can not stress that this key flaw will really become maddening as you progress in the game especially against bosses which, despite this huge disadvantage against your recovery & vulnerability to stupid amounts of damage, can be defeated, however the way I've done it & seen it done, it's done through these set strategies which almost make it like you're breaking the game or exploiting it in order to win (Ala the Dead Rising series ) so it will take it's toll on you at time & the Game over screen is overtly animated which I know I was giving kudos for this game in terms of it's presentation, but seeing that fucking screen over & over again really wears on you. Also I thought I should bring up the annoyance of jumping down to a platform from a great height will stun the character which doesn't reduce your health but it will stun them in a fashion that can ricochet you into the same fuck fest I mentioned in my earlier gripes.

The light-hearted RPG elements are all done through the game's equipment system to where it will add to your strength, defense & dexterity, the dexterity comes in the form of the projectile weapons the characters use to where you will not be able to spam your attack constantly as your attack meter will go down & it will take time to slowly recharge back up meaning that you have to make your decisions wisely when you attack & do so precisely. The better the dexterity the more you can attack with the said weapon though, but melee weapons do not use the attack meter so you can spam those away but again this gets to be difficult later on in the game. the equipment never adds any additional heat to your hit points though, you will always have 100 which I feel does make the simple where it can be simple & adds to it's accessible approach.

Overall I recommend this game, but it's difficult, however through it's amazing presentation & charming story, I really feel it's worth it & it's quite a gem, enough to make it a staple in any Sega CD library. it shouldn't be too expensive so seek it online & get it complete so you can get the gorgeous package that Working designs put together with this release, see you guys around as usual & I'll be adding a Quarter Circle forward thread within the forum so we can discuss any differing opinions.

Monday
Oct252010

Remembering Splatterhouse by Sean B.

There's a special time each year when you want to just celebrate, showing how much you appreciate family, friends and - candy? Okay, so I'm not referring to any major holiday revolving around care and love, or magical bunny rabbits. I'm talking about Halloween, where everyone becomes obsessed with imaginative oddities, the walking dead and eating more candy.
Aside from our favorite horror flicks, we've also experienced the essence of Halloween through other mediums, including popular (yet annoying) songs like Monster Mash, and specially themed episodes from our favorite television shows (I'm ghoulishly looking at you, Simpsons). Of course, what would the celebration of Halloween in our modern culture be without a few video game titles to go along with everything?

One prime example is Splatterhouse, probably one of the most memorable titles that truly targets the scary spirit, with obvious references from western horror favorites. Flashing back to the original arcade version from 1988, you have a parapsychology student by the name of Rick, who wakes up in a bloody mess with a lost girlfriend and an evil "terror" mask attached to his head. All of this occurs inside a mansion dubbed the "Splatterhouse", where you'll brutally hack and slash your way through practically every ghost, demon and monster known to man - how could any gamer not love this?

The controversial but successful Arcade hit migrated to the PC, Turbografx 16 and FM Towns Marty. Multiple sequels were also released, including Splatterhouse 2 and 3, along with a Virtual Console release on the Wii. Namco would later announce their plans for a modern presentation [1] of the slasher classic. Unfortunately the game would be delayed for another couple of years, a cruel series of events for fans who've long awaited a three dimensional adaptation. The good news in all of this is that the wait is coming to an end, as the successor of the slash smash hit is set to hit select stores next Tuesday, October 26.

The newest addition to this iconic series of gruesome bloodbaths and monstrous horrors promises to be an excellent tribute to the cult classic, but like most modern titles we really won't know until we try it out. A few minor changes have also taken place, including a story shift positioning Rick and Jennifer as students under Dr. West, instead of simply wandering into the (assumed to be) deserted mansion as strangers. The looks of the terror mask have also changed from a Jason Voorhees clone to something a tad more unique. Though seemingly unoriginal, the retro hockey mask might have been a better choice in maintaining a more familiar essence that Splatterhouse fans have come to recognize and appreciate. Hopefully this modernized Splatterhouse won't be too over the top for its own good, or too dull and boring for any sort of audience to love. From what we've witnessed so far, the remake looks promising and creative - unfortunately we've been fooled before. We'll see how it goes next week

 

Thursday
Oct212010

PPR 30

Press Pause Radio returns not only with a new and improved website, but a new episode as well. Episode 30 is all about "RPG elements". We are sure that all our listeners have heard that phrase numerous times in the last few years, but what does it really mean? The crew will discuss the numerous titles in this generation that borrow heavily for traditional role playing games, and why it seems to be so well received. Staying in line with our featured topic, George also will be reviewing Popful Mail for the Sega CD, along with revealing some of our plans for the website and show. Reviews on iTunes and Zune are very helpful to us, and also can net you some great prizes in our current giveaway going on right now.  So get out there and give us some stars and reviews, you may be our lucky winner!

PPR Episode 30

Tuesday
Oct192010

25 years of the NES by GBAXE

So 25 years ago today, The United States of America was able to see the limited release of the Nintendo Entertainment System by a company we have never heard of from a land far away in the east. This same land was already able to enjoy this machine two years prior under the title of the Famicom & The West was just recovering the follies & mismanagement that the video game market dug into through poor distribution & saturation in the early eighties that nearly painted a foreboding premonition on the success of the new stalwart NES, it was the surprise that not only became the gateway for the market to thrive again, but the exposure of many of us today into one of our favorite past times including myself.

Personally it's very hard for me to call the NES the best system of all time & I believe that I may not be the only one, I will say that it is definitely the most significant console however. The NES had been given the advantage of knowing the market it was coming to & researching from a market that it already established in it's origin of the east. The first thing I wanted to point were the cosmetic changes of the console itself, though it doesn't sound like prevalent point to make right away but it ties into the overall scheme of things that I hold strongly to this retrospective. where the Famicom mostly represented the soon-to-be standard top loading cartridge format which was even done in a NES revision in the later end of the consoles life cycle, however the NES was designed to load cartridges in the front with cover-door that opened & closed to protect the cartridge slot. Why do you completely redesign the look & feel of the console? Nintendo applied the same practice & pitch that it does with the Wii & that is  the concept of welcoming approach & accessibility. The first step in trying to re-ignite & generate a market again was presentation, the look will be the first thing that will lead to the appeal of the console & the NES was purposely designed to resemble the most popular American home entertainment machine being the VCR. The second major feature in my opinion which has become a standard that is still used even to this day is the directional pad, an evolution of the Intelivision discus from it's respective controller, the D-pad along with the effective control lay-out of the "B" & "A" button allowed for precision unlike any other console or even arcade game before it being one of the most pivotal point of success the system had with software that properly took ad=vantage of it & even applied innovative interfaces to take advantage of the simple yet effective controller lay-out. The is the second theme that I want to point out towards the success & legacy the NES obtained, it was a system that became more then just something that came from another country, it was tailored for us, made for a culture far different from whence it came & was managed in the same independent fashion.

Granted Nintendo treated it's licensing & distribution right with Third-party companies fervently to the point where it might as well have been a monopoly, but with coming from a product crash in the same market earlier within the same decade which was mostly caused by the saturation of released software leads to me to begrudgingly credit Nintendo on this as well. Given that the Nintendo had a fine hold on what it was doing with the NES this then gave the opportunity for quality software be released, Nintendo also had the experience of developing first party properties like Donkey Kong & Mario Bros. for the arcades which were ported over to different consoles it now had a home platform of it's own to work with & strong one at that though not the strongest launch at all, the NES came out with seventeen games including the classics of Mach Ride, Wild Gun, & Duck Hunt. The hit Application which also happens to be sharing the same 25th anniversary of the NES, Super Mario Bros. helped generate mass market appeal in a move that also showed the care & difference within the Nintendo (for more on the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. click here for an awesome piece that was already done by Sean). Nintendo was confident in Super Mario Bros. from the reception that it had received in Japan & bundled it in with NES consoles it started selling it the action set along with it's other hit app Duck Hunt through the Nintendo Zapper accessory which also came bundled in with it, Nintendo had it's audience, Kids & even young adults were interested in what it had to offer, but just like winning over the girl of your dreams, you're going to have to follow up on your new relationship & Nintendo did just that.

Franchises that we still play even to this day can all find their roots as early their initial release on the Nintendo Entertainment system, my favorite Third-Party company Capcom already had it start in the arcade market but it didn't hit it's stride until it became a home entertainment giant with hits like Megaman 2 & Bionic Commando which innovated on formulas that were established by previous games for Nintendo mainly Super Mario Bros. & Metroid, the games that followed suit for the most part were games that tried to innovate upon what was known to work within it's life span & created life changing experiences on the console that can never be topped or forgotten looking back & with a console had first time risks & misses that can be considered unforgivable even to this day, this console was innovated upon on & on again. The advantage all goes to really being the first gaming console that had the exposure & potential to do so, it also played to it's strengths, a console that was released during the popular era of arcade play outside of the home, developers learned to cater to it's home audience with experiences that couldn't even be emulated by a far more superior arcade system & became personable, to everyone along with it's open market to licenses for famous film & media (despite the actual quality behind said software) the Nintendo only worked to gain more of it's audience & work to cater to it's fanbase that it cemented, so much so that we the gamers ourselves became the viral marketing that even Nintendo couldn't anticipate, the discussion of exchanged strategies on how to win against Soda Popinski in Punch-out by the Swing Set or rumors of a Secret item in Castlevania 2 during the spelling test, these are personal experiences of my own, couple with the millions of other moments that transcended this media known of video games back into the social level where it wasn't obscure, the NES did this.

The Last thing that I want to say is reference back to my point that I had personally made earlier within this article, how I felt the NES was the most significant system in my life, not for the root of exposure for my favorite past time but for the fact that when it comes right down to it, The NES was a stepping stone for the many great games & consoles that came after it, though it didn't start the market & it wasn't the first, it was the platform that made the right decision & provided many different models both technically & business wise to be improved upon, Service Games AKA Sega may never have even considered first party development had it not been for the success of the NES which leads into Sony & so forth jumping on board, a market that had transformed into a billion dollar industry that motivated developers & publishers to provide experiences that could only be expunged by the cruelty of elderly senility, a catalyst that ignited everything we enjoy today & appreciate to be apart of.

So let us continue to be grateful for the NES & continue to pay our respects to the system as it wasn't just considered by many to be their first system, it was more than that...

Tuesday
Oct192010

PPR's Zom-Blowout Contest!

So with our new episode on the Horizon for our ZOMBIECast this weekend, we're feeling really generous, it might be looming Halloween holiday that makes us feel great or for the fact that we were really stoked on this upcoming episode! we're giving away to ONE lucky winner a Zombie game bundle including the following games Resident Evil: Dead Aim, Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, Zombie's Revenge, Onechanbara Bikini Zombie Slayers, Onechanbara Bikini Samurai Squad, Stubbs The Zombie, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising:Chop Till You Drop & the Zombie Survival Guide written by Max Brooks! so fifteen awesome games & an incredible book, how do you get in on this offer you ask? well here's how!

All you have to do is listen to the show & give us some reviews on iTunes or Zune! we'll check our reviews & at the end of the show we'll announce the winner based on how awesome or creative their review was! click on the links or go do so! we'll be running the contest for a while & we'll keep you all updated at the site & on the show! check the Twitter feed on the show as well & again, just submit a written review on iTunes or Zune & you're considered entered into the show!

P.S. for all of those awesome listeners who have already written a review, we'll be nice & automatically enter you guys! enjoy the contest yo!