Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Start the hype machine up!

No More Heroes 2 is out in America tomorrow. Because I am one of the gamers that don't have much patience, I am importing my copy in. Waiting wouldn't be so bad if there was an actual date, but what can I do? My copy should come next week, with luck.

In the meantime, have an MP3. The following tune is No More Riot from the No More Heroes Sound Tracks - Dark Side album. The intro to the song was also present in one of the trailers released.


Expect more related hype posts in the coming days, especially since I have some unposted NMH2-related content.

Monday, 18 January 2010

No problems with objectifying women here: Part 2

Title: Bayonetta
Developer: Platinum Games (360), Sega (PS3)
Publisher: Sega
Year: 2009 (JP), 2010 (NA/PAL)


Once upon a time, there was a Capcom employee named Hideki Kamiya. This man was the director of the original Devil May Cry, which then spawned a series of games featuring half-human/half-demon men with silver hair, pretty faces and the ability to do ridiculous acrobatic stunts.

Fast forward eight years later and Kamiya, now teamed with Platinum Games, has unleashed his latest creation upon the world: Bayonetta. But this time, instead of featuring half-human/half-demon men with silver hair, pretty faces and the ability to do ridiculous acrobatic stunts, we get a hot witch in killer heels (with the ability to turn her hair into any tangible form). Oh, and of course she can pull off ridiculous acrobatic stunts too. But how does Bayonetta stack up against DMC and action games in general?

Short answer: very well. In fact, I'd say it leaps high over DMC's head and sets a new standard for action games to surpass. Long answer? Well...

In terms of storyline, Bayonetta isn't mind-blowingly original, but it's not completely cliche either. You play as Bayonetta, the last surviving member of the Umbra witch clan. Having been freed from an underwater coffin with no memory, she heads off on a tip from an informant to find a jewel in a set known as 'The Eyes of The World'. However, angelic forces are out to stop her, so it's up to her to give them hell while looking totally sexy in a suit made of her hair.

Yes, the suit comes off in certain situations. It's quite tastefully done, though.

You can tell that while Bayonetta was made to appeal to horny adolescents, it's also a game created for hardcore gamers. There are plenty of nods to Clover games, which weren't exactly targeted towards the mainstream market. Furthermore, the game is reasonably challenging, but also quite balanced in terms of difficulty.

Bayonetta implements the same type of gameplay DMC employed, that is, fighting through waves of enemies while progressing through a linear stage, solving the occasional puzzle and fighting the occasional boss. Also as in DMC, Bayonetta uses a combo system, but does not make your success as plainly obvious as the aforementioned game did (DMC used a D to SSS ranking system). The result is that Bayonetta takes the pressure off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on developing your own style of play. There's a crazy amount of weapons and techniques which all add up to an unbelievable number of combos.

A good control scheme, of course, is perhaps the most important aspect of any game in the action genre. DMC has been praised for this and of course, so has Bayonetta. As Bayonetta's emphasis is on spectacular attacks and combo chains, the controls need to be fluid, responsive, and translate perfectly into Bayonetta's graceful moves on-screen. This has been achieved and has exceeded my expectations of how I thought the game would play. It's crazy. It's fast. Which is why dodging (by quickly pressing RT) is so easy to do in this game. What's more, Bayonetta rewards you for dodging the exact moment before an attack hits you by activating Witch Time, a technique which slows time for a few seconds, allowing you to take advantage of the situation.

The only real problem that I really had while playing was the fact that the camera couldn't exactly keep up with the action at certain points, meaning that I couldn't see where Bayonetta was on the screen. This is fairly minor, however, as for the most part (99% of the time) I found the camera to be positioned in a convenient manner.

The camera does not shy away from showing you how beautiful the game is, and I'm not just talking about Bayonetta herself. The graphics for the stages are absolutely beautiful, being top-notch for a current-gen game. As I write this, a particular stage comes to mind: you are in another dimension, standing in a crumbling hall of some sort. As you exit, you realise that the tiny island you are on is rotating in an impossible direction, and you have to make the leap to another island nearby. You do so by jumping on these glowing, translucent platforms hovering in space, and you're surrounded by stars. It's almost as though you could touch them. It's awe-inspiring.

The other thing that I find amazing is how much thought has been put into character designs. Your enemies are angelic yet deadly, and their models reflect their motives and methods of attack accordingly. Bayonetta herself may have odd proportions while one is looking at a flat, 2D image of her, but translated in-game, when she's kicking her legs into the air or winking coquettishly at the camera.

The music is marvelous as well, with the soundtrack containing not only baroque-esque hymns and upbeat lounge jazz, but also a few retro Sega game remixes. The voice acting is top-notch, with Bayonetta's seductive British accent oozing delightfully through your speakers.

Bayonetta is a game that is perfect as a whole. Based on what I've written alone, I don't think there is any way I can express the experience of playing the game, when you are directly involved in controlling the character. There's something indescribably beautiful about Bayonetta, not necessarily something to do with the graphics or the fluid animations or even the emotion captured in the story, but about the whole thing; something very few game developers manage to hit on the head. It's almost as though you feel connected to the world, everything contained within that game disc, and as soon as you let go of the controller, everything pales in comparison.

This is the reason why I believe that Bayonetta will be known for a long time as one of the defining games of the genre. Its qualities and gameplay value means that it is certainly one of the games of the year.

And given that it is only the beginning of 2010, this shows how excellent it truly is.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

No problems with objectifying women here: Part 1

Title: OneChanbara Revolution (JP), OneChanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers (NA, PAL)
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: D3
Year: 2008 (JP), 2009 (NA/PAL)

OneChanbara is a series of games that were originally developed for the PS2 under the Simple 2000 line. Since then, it has spawned two movies, a lot of collectable figures and a number of sequels on various platforms.

Of course, swinging your sword via the Wiimote makes perfect sense. Hey, it worked for several other games, right? Hence Tamsoft's OneChanbara R. Whether or not the name is a throwback to the original name for the Wii remains to be seen.

OneChanbara is one of those series where you never march in expecting a AAA game and of course, R is no exception. The games' main selling point seems to be the fact that everyone is a hot chick. Indeed, the subtitle for the PAL version of R is Bikini Zombie Slayers. Telling.

But is it at least a good bad game? Maybe I'm not at liberty to say, seeing as I appreciate games such as Zombie vs. Ambulance, but I don't believe it's as bad as everybody says.

The game is chock-full of gameplay modes, including the mandatory Story mode, Survival mode and even a Practice mode. You start off with only one character to play as - Aya, the game's main protagonist. Completing the game with her unlocks another character and so on. There are a total of four unlockable characters, as well as numerous outfits for each of them.

Each character's Story mode is quite short, being eight stages in length. The game's narrative is presented in the form of a pre-stage cinematic of scrolling text and the character's voiceover, with the occasional, badly voice-acted cutscene thrown in.

The gameplay takes the form of a crowd-combat game, and I have to say that I found it deeply satisfying to slice my way through waves of zombies. It's mindless, but fun. One of the cool things about the OneChanbara titles is that as you kill enemies, you get covered in their blood. Getting drenched in enough blood means that your character will eventually go into a 'Berserk' mode, which causes your attacks to be more powerful but steadily drains your health. Once this mode has been activated, the only way to revert your character back to normal is to either use an item or to find a statue which removes the blood. Moreover, killing enemies means that your sword becomes bloodier. After a certain amount of hacking and slashing (as indicated by a meter on the side of the screen), your sword will become stuck inside enemies, leaving your vulnerable to attack as you struggle to remove it.

For a budget game and more importantly, for a Wii game that uses the 'waggle technique', the controls work fine. Depending on how many times you flail the Wiimote about, you can create different combos and switch weapon modes with the press of the C button. With Aya, this means that you can use dual swords. The only thing that really frustrated me about the gameplay is the fact that the lock-on mode does not target the nearest enemy, which can lead to problems when you are surrounded by dozens of zombies.

Another thing: unless you have amazing patience, don't try and play the game in one sitting. You will be bored out of your mind if you do. In saying this I'm making a point about the stage layouts, which is literally exactly the same (as are enemy encounters) for each character but just presented in a different order each time. Most of the time the game doesn't even explain what you're doing in a hospital or a forest or wherever you happen to be, which makes you think that maybe Tamsoft just got lazy and picked locations out of a hat.

That being said, the locations don't look bad, given the fact that it is a budget title and that the Wii has limited graphical capabilities. The character models look nice enough, as do the gore effects. It is also worth mentioning that even though R is a crowd-combat game, I do not recall having experienced any lag whatsoever, which impresses me greatly.

OneChanbara Revolution is a rather self-explanatory game. Hot girls kill zombies and get covered in blood. It doesn't require any thought whatsoever. The only thing you need, should you decide to play it, is to abandon any high expectations. If you do so, you should be in for an enjoyable, campy experience, despite its minor flaws.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Amazing news: A Blazblue cab! Actually here in Australia! And we're not talking vanilla BB, we're talking Continuum Shift. They changed the announcer and everyone's character art.

Used Jin. Spammed ice car and ice swords like a total scrub because I was too much of a pussy to use Bang.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


So it turns out I completely forgot that people break street dates (how?), so I was surprised went into JB and saw Bayonetta on the shelves. So I got my copy of the Climax Edition from the store I preordered it from.

Shit is fabulous. I don't just mean the CE, which has an artbook, soundtrack, special packaging, but also an ab-fab replica of Bayonetta's gun in the game, which was basically the clincher for me.

That and because she shouts a Viewtiful Joe reference and spends the opening level using Ebony and Ivory (from Devil May Cry fame while lamenting over how much they suck.

It shits all over Devil May Cry though. You're not penalized (time-wise) for exploring the level and there are checkpoints so if you die, you don't need to go through five thousand waves of enemy and lava-hopping again. But I guess it's a little less challenging as well, as in it's pretty easy to pull off spectacular combos and whatever. Not to say I haven't died.

Also, the titular (see what I did there) character is balls hot.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Selling strategy #1.

Repeat: "It is very nice" over and over again.