Missing Mega Man

Since 1987, Capcom’s blue bomber has taken on many adventures to save the day from the clutches of evil. In the span of 25 years, Mega Man has branched off into seven different series and sold over 29 million copies worldwide. Like Mario and Sonic are to Nintendo and Sega respectively, Mega Man is easily considered Capcom’s mascot. As it’s Mega Man’s 25th anniversary, it’d be expected that Capcom would do something to celebrate. Maybe a new series, a new game or even just an anniversary pack. With E3 behind us and no mention of Mega Man, you can’t help but wonder if Capcom has forgotten about the blue bomber. But why? Mega Man is the flagship character of Capcom and has made millions of sales around the world. Why have they pushed him off to the side as of late?

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It’s past the year 200X. Why aren’t there super fighting robots?

When looking at the circumstances around Mega Man, it’s really no surprise as to why we haven’t heard of anything as of late. Back in 2010, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune said some controversial things about Japanese game developers and how Capcom is behind Western developers. These comments were met with heavy criticism and later that year, Inafune resigned from Capcom and created his own game company. Coincidentally, the latest Mega Man game was released in 2010. But would Capcom have such a deep grudge against Inafune that they’d completely ignore Mega Man?

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Keiji Inafune, one of the guys behind the creation of Mega Man, left Capcom in 2010.

It’s impossible to say that Capcom has it out for Inafune, but his leaving has affected the Mega Man franchise for the worse. While other franchises like Resident Evil and Street Fighter have received a lot of support from Capcom, Mega Man finds itself pushed off to the side. Take Mega Man Legends 3 for instance. Announced back in 2010 for the 3DS, fans have been anticipating this game for over 10 years. Later that year, Inafune leaves Capcom but the team still says they are working on Mega Man Legends 3. Not only that, but they also planned on releasing a downloadable game on the Nintendo eShop to serve as the prologue. Things are looking good until July 2011 when the entire project was scrapped and Capcom stated there were no plans to resume production. It’s an insult to completely throw out a game that fans have been waiting years for. I guess Capcom wanted to focus more efforts on Street Fighter IV: Whatever Edition.

Speaking of fighting games, whatever happened to Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Sure you got Tron Boone and Zero, but where’s Mega Man? It’s great that Tron and Zero made it in, but why would you leave out the namesake of the series? That’s like putting Street Fighter characters but not Ryu or X-Men characters but not Wolverine. Ok, so maybe Capcom waited to put Mega Man as a DLC character. A character like him would generate some serious revenue through DLC. Well, not a year after MVC3 comes out, Capcom announces Ultimate. While I applaud Capcom for including characters like Phoenix Wright and Strider Hiryu, where’s the love for the blue bomber? In the same polls that voted Wright and Strider as the second and third most requested characters respectively, Mega Man placed first.

Mega Man was included as a guest character in Street Fighter X Tekken, but that is a horrible joke. Let’s move on.

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This is my destiny!

It’s quite obvious by now that Capcom is ignoring Mega Man. Sure, they may have halted video game productions and shunned him from crossover fighting games, but Capcom went one step further in Wreck-It Ralph. Wreck-It Ralph is an upcoming Disney movie about a video game villain who doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. Many characters such as Bowser and Dr. Eggman make a cameo appearance, and originally Dr. Wily was also going to appear. A promotional picture from the Mega Man Network shows Dr. Wily in the movie sitting alongside Bowser and Zangief. When the actual trailer was released, Dr. Wily was nowhere to be found. It’s not like Capcom decided that Disney couldn’t use their characters. Zangief and Bison both make an appearance and Zangief even has a speaking role. There’s no denying that Capcom is pushing Mega Man to the side with this move.

Dr. Wily was slated to make an appearance, but for unexplained reasons doesn’t. Props to The Mega Man Network for the picture. http://www.themmnetwork.com/2012/06/06/dr-wily-disappears-from-film-wreck-it-ralph/

It might be only two years since the last Mega Man game, but it’s a mystery why Capcom is keeping quiet during the blue bomber’s 25th anniversary. Street Fighter has a big celebration to commemorate its 25th anniversary, so it’s obvious Capcom doesn’t shy away from celebrating milestones. From an optimistic stand point, Capcom could be giving the franchise a small break so they can focus on other projects. But it’s hard to stay optimistic with the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 and the omission of Mega Man in MVC3. Regardless of the reason, Mega Man is the flagship character for Capcom. It’d be foolish to throw out a character who has done so much for this company and the gaming industry.

-Stephen “Smiles” Ramirtha

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Bring him back Capcom, we miss Mega Man!

Resolution

A Video Game Narratives Case Study of Mass Effect 3

If you watch Videogame Hour Live (Tuesdays at 9 on TSTV), then you may have seen me review a game or two over the past few years, including the previous Mass Effect game, along with a host of mostly story-driven, single-player experiences. Your perception of my taste in gaming may be skewed in this direction, and rightfully so. Don’t get me wrong, I have played a good share of the Halos, Battlefields, and Call of Duties, but my heart truly rests with a character-centered story piece. The original Mass Effect is, in my mind, one of the greatest examples in this form of interactive media, and Mass Effect 2 offered a more-than-worthy middle chapter. Having completed Mass Effect 3 only moments ago as of writing this, I would like to applaud Bioware for a truly valiant effort at wrapping up such an ambitious and critically lauded trilogy. However, I cannot help but feel disappointed with the steps taken to do so. Bioware fell into many of the same traps that I have come to expect from the video game industry, along with inventing some new ones along the way.

Some spoilers follow so SPOILER ALERT.

To give you a brief history as to how videogame storytelling has evolved, let’s touch briefly on Shakespeare’s work. Any English teacher will be quick to point out what they call the five act structure. Act I provides context and introduces characters, and Act II introduces an antagonistic force and events that constitute the “rising action.” Act III serves as the midpoint, where decisions are made, which will affect the plot going forward. The moment when Hamlet makes the decision to kill his uncle comes almost directly at the center of the book. This point is also known as the climax. Act IV begins what we call “falling action” and Act V resolves all the story threads presented in Act I. Got it?

Fast-forward a few hundred years. As the movie industry began to evolve, the major studios became experts at figuring out what people wanted to see in a film. Over a hundred years of experimentation, they cut out two acts and skewed the action sharply to the end of the story in what is called a modified three act structure. Not every film follows this format, but it is most obvious in the summer blockbusters, the Transformers of the industry. Before you cry foul about how bad the Transformer movies are, remember that those three movies have made over $2.5 billion in worldwide box offices, so those executives up at DreamWorks and Paramount are definitely onto something. Movies that follow the modified three act structure have shifted the climax from its place at the midpoint to a spot much closer to the end, as in within about ten minutes from the credits, often much less.

So how does this all tie back into video games? The story telling in most modern games more closely resembles the modified three act structure. It makes sense that games would emulate film, as both are visual media projected on a screen. Games like Uncharted and Modern Warfare have taken this comparison to heart and have even been called “interactive films.” The resemblance to summer blockbusters are not just in plot structure. Uncharted and Modern Warfare have their share of explosive eye candy and pulpy dialogue as well.

Again, these are popular franchises that have taken some very resolute steps towards characterizing video game stories. I enjoy these games greatly, so please don’t take this the wrong way when I say that I would rather see video game developers forge new paths rather than following those already laid by films. Game and film are two very different forms of expression, and one cannot necessarily copy the other and expect a good result.

The Uncharted series is known for its film-like action setpieces

Nowhere is this repurposing more apparent than at a game’s ending. The example that sticks out to me most is the conclusion of LA Noire. Again, I greatly enjoyed that game and played it for a good 30 hours up to completion. However, the designers thought it a good idea to take me away from the character I had become invested in over the previous 28 hours and put me in control of his rival for the final act. On top of that, (SPOILER) the main character ends up dying, and much of the emotion of the scene was lost because of the shift. This would be the Hollywood equivalent of the climax. The falling resolution that follows consists of a one minute cut scene of Phelps’ funeral. While the main plot line ended sufficiently, the supporting characters gave no sign that they had been changed by the sequence of events. There was no evidence that the world had been affected by Phelps’ sacrifice at all. LA Noire is far from an isolated case, as many games suffer from unsatisfactory resolutions, Mass Effect 3 among them.

ME3 does an excellent job of wrapping up the supporting cast’s roles, as you are given time before the last mission for a final chat with each member of your crew. However, once Shepard performs his final, legendary act, I was treated to a brief cutscene and credits. The falling action and resolution are almost non-existent, leaving me empty after a nearly 30 (or 150, counting playthroughs of the previous games) hour investment of my time. After all that time, I would have loved to see how my hard work affected the galaxy I am leaving behind. The ending itself baffled me, as (SPOILER) the writers felt the need to incorporate a mythological, existential component, something the series had never even hinted at before.

There is less impact to your decisions than you would think.

Besides the ending, Mass Effect 3 exemplifies some fundamental problems with its story telling. The entire story is told from the point of view of the player’s customized version of the Commander Shepard character. As the player, you given the illusion of choice throughout each interaction with the game’s huge cast of supporting characters. Dialogue wheels prompt you to act as the valorous Paragon or the snide Renegade. I say the illusion of choice because you cannot really pick and choose either side at your leisure. For almost every choice you make in either direction, you earn numerical points that cement your reputation as Paragon or Renegade. Either path is viable for completing the game, but those who walk the line are punished later in the game, as those reputation points unlock advanced conversation options in the endgame. Though 99% of my choices fell in line with the Paragon, I was still unable to select the game’s final advanced Paragon conversation option. This is especially frustrating, since Bioware had the problem solved in the first Mass Effect game, and then subsequently broke the system in the sequels. The original Mass Effect allowed you to spend upgrade points on unlocking those special options for one or both pathways, and you were then free to go about each conversation as you wished. The system in place in ME3 really took away from my immersion into the role-playing aspect, as I often wanted to be a jerk to characters I did not like, but was afraid of the consequences of earning a few Renegade points.

Aside from the conversation system, the writing itself lacks the immersive quality from the previous games. Nearly every piece of the script feels overly expository and pandering. This is probably due to the wealth of conversation possibilities, but it felt like the game was constantly writing itself out of corners, even ones that I had not even noticed. With all that effort, you would think that your choices would have significant impact over the course of the story, but in reality, you really only control minor details. Even the game’s many endings vary slightly in terms of outcome, each one hinging on only a couple of key decisions from the previous games.

I greatly enjoyed my time with Mass Effect 3, so much so that I was loathe to see the series I loved come to an end. While I know that all good things must come to an end, the one I saw left me empty. All of the sudden, the trilogy was completely in my past, the conclusion given to me unable to fill the void that remained. This hole is indicative of the larger abyss plaguing the still young video game industry. We have taken such immense narrative strides from the early save-the-princess tales, and I would hate to see these trends turn into bad habits. As fans of this beautiful form of interactive media, we need to foster the continued evolution of storytelling, hopefully by the time I get to play Mass Effect 4.

-Ryan Evans

Sonic the Hedgehog: A Smooth Criminal?

Hey hey, this is Smiles here with another blog post. This past week, I was listening to my music when I came across “Beat It” and started jamming to some old Michael Jackson tunes.  I can’t believe it’ll almost be 3 years since the King of Pop left this world. Nowadays, his image is used to promote the less than stellar “Michael Jackson: The Experience” videogame. But back in my day, Michael Jackson made some serious contributions to the videogame industry. And no, I’m not referring to “Moonwalker,” although it was a good game.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, I’m talking about Sonic the Hedgehog. More specifically, Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Despite the fact that Jackson’s name isn’t in the credits, it’s been heavily rumored that he composed the music for the game. This isn’t some baseless conjecture from a raving fan of Sonic and Michael, there’s some merit to these claims. For one thing, interviews with both Michael Jackson’s people and SEGA allude to this.

Sonic and Michael meeting up. Maybe MJ taught Sonic how to moonwalk.

A while back, SEGA Technological Institute head Roger Hector said Michael Jackson was brought in early in the project. His claims have repeatedly been called into question by other interviews stating that no contracts or formal agreements exist between SEGA and Jackson.

Of course, the biggest clue  is simply listening to the music. Immediately, you can tell similarities between Carnival Night Zone and Jam, and The End Credits and Stranger in Moscow. I’m no expert on music theory, so I can’t go in depth as to how the chord progression is similar. There’s an awesome YouTube video that goes more into depth about this.

Posthumously, the cat was let out of the bag in an interview with Black and White magazine. In 2009, Brad Buxer, who worked with Michael Jackson, confirmed that Jackson and him were involved in Sonic 3 and that the base from “Stranger in Moscow” came from the End Credits theme. So the King of Pop actually did contribute to the music of the blue hedgehog. But why wasn’t he credited? That would have surely been a great marketing strategy to claim that MJ composed the music for their game.

There have been many theories behind this. One is that around the time, child-molestation charges were pressed against Jackson. Another is that he wasn’t happy with the output sound the Genesis made, and didn’t want his involvement known. A third yet odd reason could be similar to what he did in the Simpsons episode “Stark Raving Dad.” Michael was credited under a pseudonym to see if his brothers could guess if he was really the singer or not. It’s quite possible he had the same idea with Sonic 3.

Michael Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 was one of videogaming history’s longest running mysteries. It’s pretty amazing that Michael lent some of his talent to one of SEGA’s best games. While the King of Pop may no longer be with us, I’ll always think of him when I kick it old school with my SEGA Genesis.

 

Edit: Some people asked to see the article that Brad Buxer confirmed Michael’s involvement. I don’t have the actual article, but Sonic Retro posted a translation of the article on their website. http://info.sonicretro.org/Brad_Buxer_Interview_%28Black_%26_White,_November/December_2009%29#Page_74

-Stephen “Smiles” Ramirtha

Skyward Strike! A Rebuttal of VGHL’s “Skyward Sword” Review

Hey hey, this is Smiles here with a blog post! I originally wanted to write the review for the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. But at the time, I didn’t beat the game and didn’t have my Wii on me, so Ryan wrote it. Granted, I knew that he had some problems with the game, but I didn’t think he’d give it that harsh of a score! Before you continue, I recommend watching his review:

Yep, he gave it a 7.5. Talk about unfair. It’d make any true Zelda fan cringe to hear that number. So, I’m going to write my rebuttal. A review of a review so to speak.

Ryan complained that Twilight Princess had formula fatigue where “you would go from dungeon to dungeon, collect an item, and beat a boss to save Zelda.” Then he goes on to say that little has changed in Skyward Sword.

Wait a minute…what about backtracking? In Skyward Sword, there are many times when you have to backtrack to previous areas after obtaining new items. New items unlock new paths and areas that were previously unavailable the first time around. For instance, you find a whole water area in Farore Forest after obtaining the Dragon Scale. The idea of backtracking usually isn’t employed in Zelda games and provides a fresh look on things. Ryan’s very critical on the matter, but I find it refreshing.

There was also the stamina gauge that Ryan didn’t mention in his review. That was something completely new to the Zelda series and played a huge part in Skyward Sword! Running up hills as Bokoblins threw rocks at you was always fun. It also prevented you from continuously spinning in battle. The stamina gauge put a limitation on Link’s abilities which adds a new challenge to the game.

Another one of Ryan’s complaints is that the storytelling was weak. Granted, he mentions the plot twist that Zelda isn’t necessarily kidnapped and Ganon isn’t necessarily the bad guy. But what about Groose!?!

All up in Link's face!

Skyloft’s resident Gaston. Groose goes through some serious character development as you get further in the game. It’s a shame Ryan forgets to mention him, or other characters for that matter.

Ryan also complains about the fact that characters don’t have voicework and instead relies on text with “minimal matching animation.” “It can really take the impact away from dramatic moments when you have to look away to read paragraph after paragraph of dialogue.”

Of course you’re going to get minimal matching animations! This game is originally a Japanese game. The character mouth movements wouldn’t match English words obviously. Try making animations for every language this is launched in. Third, voice acting in videogames is a dangerous thing. Remember Megaman X4?

I can go on and on about how voice acting have ruined games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Megaman. Point being, voice acting in a Zelda game would be horrendous. Remember the language thing we talked about earlier? Yeah, you’d have to get voice actors FOR EACH CHARACTER IN EVERY LANGUAGE!

The one thing that Ryan fails to talk about is how the presentation captivates the mood. For instance, when you’re at the Silent Realms, the use of green gives off an eerily calm until you awaken the guardians. The background quickly changes to yellow, the music becomes fast paced and chaotic, and you’ll quiver with fear as the guardians get ready to strike. Ryan doesn’t talk much about the visuals for this game, which is a shame really. Skyward Sword has one of the most beautiful visuals in modern games and really stands out as a creative title. I’m personally happy they didn’t go full Wind Waker because that art style’s been used in 5 Zelda titles already (Minish Cap, 4 Swords Adventure, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Wind Waker).

It's cool but it's been done

Mr. Evans evaluation of the challenge Skyward Sword brings is contradictory. At one point, he says that the dungeons are quite challenging, the bosses quite clever. At another point, he argues that Nintendo doesn’t know who is exactly playing their games because the game “holds your hand the entire way.” Wait, I’m confused. So is it challenging or not? Did he even think about the Silent Realms or the stamina gauge as he was writing this? I for one say this game is challenging, but not impossible. Granted, it does feel easier than other installments like Twilight Princess, but it offers a good challenge.

This is the part where you run away

Don’t think I’m only bashing Ryan completely on his review. We both agree about the controls…to a certain extent. The combat controls aren’t the most fluid, but I believe Ryan is over exaggerating about how bad it is. According to him, many of the misreads from the controller would lead to “life-threatening consequences”, but I’d have to disagree with that. More often than not, you’re attacks will bounce off your opponent so you’ll have to strike and restrike again. One trick I used to overcome this was to use my slingshot on Bokoblins. After the Deku seed stunned them, I’d rush in and flail the Wii mote around. There were workarounds to the controls which made them bearable.

Ok, so now for my breakdown of the score

Story-9

Presentation- 10

Gameplay- 8.5

Design- 9

Replay Value- 8.5

Overall, Skyward Sword deserves a 9.3. Honestly, Ryan was too harsh on this game and didn’t really give good enough reasons as to why his score was low. I loved Skyward Sword, and I feel it’s a great Zelda experience.

-Stephen “Smiles” Ramirtha

And My Axe – My Journey Through Rocksmith, Pt. 1: Origins

I’m a huge fan of the Rock Band series. I play expert on every instrument, I own an uncountable number of plastic instruments, and I’ve spent hundreds on my immense song library. Unfortunately, I realized that Rock Band was getting me next to nowhere on actually learning useful skills, so about four years ago, I bought my first electric guitar. It was a cheap beginner’s toy, and I never took any lessons, but the desire to learn some of my favorite songs provided the inspiration to learn. And learn I did. I can now play a good number of songs well enough to impress some ignorant non-musicians, or just jam along to my iTunes library, which is quite different from my Rock Band library.

See, I found that the songs I like to play in real life are quite different from songs I like to play in Rock Band. In Rock Band, it’s all about finding the most challenging tracks. Playing a real guitar is challenge in and of itself, so instead, I just choose songs that I genuinely enjoy. That’s what really led me to picking up Rocksmith – the soundtrack. Ubisoft made some really smart choices when building Rocksmith’s soundtrack, picking songs that musicians can enjoy playing.

These blog entries will chronicle my descent into Rocksmith, as I do what I enjoy most about playing guitar: learning new songs.

Let me catch you up to where I am now. I have played the game for around 10 hours, mostly sticking to the events until now. Each event consists of a set of songs, each one with a minimum score to attain. Once you qualify with each song, you can play the full event with every song in a row. The game opens in a pretty neat fashion. You are thrown right out on stage, where the crowd goes nuts over you tuning your guitar and plucking the first few notes. Gradually, more notes began to fall in a row. Before long, I realized that I had been learning the main riff to The Rolling Stones “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” without even realizing it.

That’s the beautiful thing about Rocksmith. Every time you play a song the first time, you only have a few notes to hit, but within two or three runs, you are playing a simplified version that sounds like the real song.

I have completed about six of the events, and highlights include “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure, The Horrors’ “Do You Remember”, and Muse’s “Unnatural Selection.” I knew I would like those, but what really blew me away were the surprises, such as Ubisoft employee Seth Chapla’s “Jules”, “Islands” by The xx, and The Dead Weather’s “I Can’t Hear You.” In particular, I spent a good hour or two on “Islands” alone, and was immensely satisfied to finally master it completely. That ending is a little rough in Leveler mode.

Rocksmith has had some consistently good DLC as well. I have spent a lot of time attempting to learn “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and while I almost have the main riff down, there’s still work to be done on that solo. “Tighten Up” by The Black Keys is an easy crowd favorite that I fire up pretty consistently, just because it’s so fun.

Here’s a video of me leveling up Muse. It’s a song I already know how to play, so I just try to level it up as much as possible. It should only take a few more sessions before I get it up to Mastered status.

For next time, I will begin work on Boston’s “More than a Feeling”, and I will continue work on the moderately difficult “Plug In Baby.” Thank you for joining me on my journey, and I hope this will inspire future musicians to take up guitar. Rocksmith is absolutely one of the most fun ways to learn I’ve ever seen.

-Ryan Evans

Real Emotion About an Underrated Gem

I’m going to tell you a story. Now this story is about a Video Game that has been slandered by the Role-Playing Fanbase as being one of the worst games ever created. There are some folks who believe that this is the worst piece of crap that has ever been produced by Square-Enix. Maybe you know what game I’m talking about from the title, or maybe I just gave it away in the intro here, but in case you were totally stumped by my “amazing” hiding skills, I am talking about the one, the only…

Final Fantasy X-2

Now, I bet half or maybe all of you who saw this game come up just rolled your eyes. However, let me be the first to say I’m going to be the one to totally change your mind about this game, and if by some freak accident if I’m not able to, I will concede defeat. So, in classic weeaboo fashion… 行きましょう!(Let’s go!)

The Playable Cast of Final Fantasy X-2

Our story begins roughly 2 Years after the events of Final Fantasy X. (OH YEAH, SPOILER ALERT) After watching Tidus vanish before her in a cloud of pyreflies, Yuna is left heartbroken in this new “Eternal Calm” she has created, where Sin can no longer return. Rikku, Yuna’s bubbly Al Bhed cousin, (A race of humans in this game), finds Yuna one day and shows her an sphere containing a video of what seems to be Tidus in a prison cell, screaming that, “He wants to see her!” Yuna, doing what anyone would do in this situation, *note sarcasm*, decides to run away from her home in Besaid with Rikku, in order to find out the mystery of this sphere, and along with the cliche dark and brooding newcomer that needs to be present in every Final Fantasy game, Paine, they become the Gullwings, a rag-tag group of sphere hunters out to get the treasure. So, yeah, think Charlie’s Angels, but not really.

This is the airship they travel in, The Celsius. Totally inconspicuous, I know.

Throughout the storyline, relationships are tested, alliances are made, enemies slain, blah blah blah saving the world blah blah blah. Look, I’m going to be the first to tell you Final Fantasy X-2 is NOT the best in the story department.

What really set’s apart FFX-2 is it’s GAMEPLAY. Now, for those of you who played Final Fantasy X, you remember a very boring, lackadaisical, I-can-make-a-sandwich-and-consider-my-next-move-thing. With X-2 though, you’d better keep your hand on the controller. X-2 returns to the Active Time Battle system that made Final Fantasy great in the first place. Enemies attack you whilst you are deciding options in battle, and the pace makes Final Fantasy X seem incredibly sluggish in comparison.

One of the best additions in X-2 is the implementation of the DRESSPHERE, oh goodness y’all this is where it gets crazy. The Dressphere is basically a cleverly designed comeback of the Job System from Final Fantasy V. Except this time with PRETTY COSTUMES AND EXPLOSIONS AND AMAZINGNESS, YEAH!!! This feature is nothing short of revolutionary as you can change these jobs even in BATTLE.

Yuna's Many "Dresspheres"

Gone are the Sphere Grids, the slow battles, and every character having a specific role. In X-2, anyone can be anything, which makes battles a lot more fast paced, fun, and frantic.

Besides the battle system, the other aspects of the game are very memorable too. Sure, the classic FF Victory Jingle is gone in place of a poppy win theme. So? Unless you are a hardcore purist, this really shouldn’t be an issue, as it wasn’t for me. The Sound design is great, with an EXPLOSIVE AND AMAZING opening that rivals any Final Fantasy before it’s time. The writing and voice acting is campy at it’s finest, it draws on many pop culture references from Paine saying “Ice Ice Baby” when casting a Blizzard spell, to Rikku whispering “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Rikku” in her Samurai garb.

This is a great example of a quote.

The game looks good for a PS2 game of its era, and runs well with only a few technical hiccups. The mini-games and replay values truly make this one a blast to play. From sensually massaging Leblanc to playing a RIDICULOUSLY hard game called Sphere Grid, that makes me believe Spirians are truly gluttons for punishment. Some of these will make you throw your controller on the ground and maybe even rage quit, but you’ll want to pick it up again very soon for more fun.

Anyways, in short, Final Fantasy X-2 is definitely a GEM of the PS2 era that should NOT be overlooked. It by far deserves the title of a Final Fantasy game, and I guess with that you should try it out yourself and have YRP prove to you that…

“It’s showtime, girls.”

~Daniel Jenkins

Heavenly Gem; Review of Heavenly Sword

I just finished playing a copy of HEAVENLY SWORD that I picked up for $10 a few months back and was more than pleasantly surprised of how awesome it was. This gem of a game had been gathering dust in my tv stand drawer for the better part of last year until I decided to give it a shot over the semester break. I hadn’t expected much. IGN had given it a 7 out of 10 when it came out five years ago. Gamespot was more fair, giving it an 8 out of 10, though user scores were mixed.

All in all, the game was on my radar, but I just didn’t know  how truly awesome it was. We don’t typically review five-year old games on VGHL;  we typically do either recent games or “classic” reviews on games from previous consoles. I thought the blog would be a perfect place to do a written review in our VGHL format.

Story: 9/10. The protagonist, Nariko (voiced by Anna Torv, most noatbly of Fringe) is given a nice pathos. We learn early on of the guilt that she has carried with her since her birth and the trials of redemption her father and mentor have put her through to become the character that she is. There is also an evil King, the antoagonist voiced by Andy Serkis (of Lord of The Rings) who is also a director on the game. Supporting cast is also quite good and fleshed out in cut scenes.

Presentation: 10/10. The graphics are amongst the best of any PS3 title even today, which is impressive for a five-year old game. Nariko’s fighting style is like ballet and battling hundreds of enemies at a time on-screen with no slow down or lag is a delight.

Gameplay: 10/10 Easy to learn, and satisfying to master. The only game to make awesome use of the six axis motion controls, which is an afterthought now to the PS3. It’s the only game that made me wish there were more games that used it as well as Heavenly Sword.

Design: 9/10 Boss fights are quite good. Stages have variety, and there is a good use of QT events without over using it. A minor gripe is that there are a couple of annoying puzzle sections which require too much precision with the six axis, and enemy minions could have had more variety, but what works, works well.

Replay Value: 7/10 There are some sections you will want to replay through to earn three out of three medals awarded for kills and style. You need the majority of these to unlock behind the scenes videos which are worth watching, but after the initial quest is over, you are pretty much done with the game.

Overall Score: 8.5. It would deserve a 9 or even 10 if there were just more of it to play.

Jacob Safari,  Live Producer