Forza Horizon 2: Stop, Look and Crash!


 

Amusingly enough, although this is a dig at some famous track-bound racing game franchises, I’d actually PLAY a good slot car racing game if some smart developer and publisher teamed up to make one on nearly any home or portable platform. Anyway, while this commercial for <strong>Forza Horizon 2 is magnificent and funny, I have to question WHY it’s partially shot in live action with real cars (with a good deal of expensive CG enhancing) when the actual game looks so gorgeous:


 

Then again, I don’t work at Microsoft and heck, they know their own games better than anyone, right? Anyway, I’m still an Xbox One holdout, but if I were to grab one of those, this would be one of the games I’d grab with that system. If this is as open world and free range pure driving as it looks, it’ll be something I get lost in for hours and that’s just driving around all by myself checking out all the hard work that went into making the game engine sing so darn well. I’d be the one pulling over every few miles to check out the scenery, even in the middle of a race, so I can’t imagine being the poor AI driver behind me trying to pass as I slide to the left or right and perhaps dent up my ride because I’m trying to ogle a pretty sky or sunset. Anyway, September 30, 2014 is the due date for this baby which is predicted to do VERY well on the console…

VGA 101: Happy Birthday, Sega Dreamcast: “It’s Thinking”… But Probably About Better Times.

Note: This isn’t at ALL a “complete history” of the console. It’s just more random off the top of the head wistful reminiscing!

(thanks, Wiidork!)
 
For one brief, shining moment (well, that moment lasted three years or so), Sega has many of us gamers on the edge of our seats and extremely happy about it. Once the US arm of the company deemed the Saturn “dead” and started peeling away support for it, there was a gap of time where we were wondering what was coming next. When whispers of a new and more powerful console code-named “Katana” started getting traction in the game press, followed up by early screenshots of works in progress, some fans were trumpeting that upcoming console as a redemption and return to form for the company and in Japan, while Saturn games were still being sold, it seemed that everywhere you went in some spots, ads popped up announcing something was coming from Sega that would be new, unusual and exciting. And oh, was it when it finally did arrive… Continue reading

Dark Souls II TV Spots: Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Just To Die Over and Over)…

Heh. I get a phone call during The Walking Dead finale from a friend asking me “So, what’s this Dark Souls II all about?” right after this ad airs. Whee! Of course, I had to tell him to ring me back in an hour or so or just wait for a quick email. He’s not a gamer at all, so I’ll give Namco Bandai props for getting an ad out that gets people not into the hobby all hot and bothered. Amusingly enough, I actually don’t have a copy of the game yet – it’s in my backlog of stuff to grab for the PS3 once I make a bit more money. I’ve played a bit of it already thanks to walking another friend through the first two or so hours of the game as he grabbed it on launch day and was having a hard time because yep, it was his first time playing something that difficult. Anyway, I got to play and he got to keep the character I made, so that’s a fine trade off, I’d say. Naturally, he got the poor guy I created killed a few times since, but my tech support ends when I leave the premises. Otherwise, I charge a flat fee (and it’s not cheap), heh…

Hey, Polyphony Digital? Where’s That Omega Boost Remake/Sequel?

(thanks, Maya Rudolph!)

OB_JPSomewhere before and in between Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo II, members of Polyphony Digital (seemingly working under the name Cyber Head) worked on a little game called Omega Boost which was released for the PlayStation in Japan in April of 1999, the US that August and in Europe a month later. Japan got the awesome and hilarious TV ad above for the game (the US ad was amusing, but not as nuts as the Japanese one) and when the game arrived at the small indie game shop I worked at, it spent a decent amount of time in the store play stack. Back then, the game was impressive to me and many others right away thanks to the opening movie that still packs a punch:

(thanks, Cacophanus!)

Thankfully, other than the slightly unwise replacing of the Queen-style rocker that opens the import with some alternative tune that’s OK in terms of it’s title (“Fly” by Loudmouth) but lesser than the original theme music in terms of impact, the US version got the same explosive intro:

(thanks, vision2098!)

OB_NABy the way, note the “Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean” autograph reference – I loved that tiny bit of fluff because it was a little detail only a film buff would latch on to right away and smile at. As far as the gameplay went, it was an arcade-style space shooter with 19 stages, some cool planetary and tunnel missions along with a number of intense boss battles and a ton of cool bonuses for the dedicated players out there. Some game critics unfairly compared it to Sega’s Panzer Dragoon games, which only made sense as a frame of reference if you were a PS owner who also happened to have a Sega Saturn in the house. There were some minor similarities, but Omega Boost was more a technical showcase for the PlayStation hardware than Panzer Dragoon ever was on the Saturn.

The game was actually in production as early as 1996 (or perhaps sooner), as a series of Japanese demos I have here shows the early work on the game back then was making for a very different-looking experience running at 60fps with simpler polygon visuals and a few more viewpoint choices. Oh, you want some videos of that for proof? Well you’ll need to come over if you want to see them, silly. I’d thought someone would have posted them on YouTube already, but nope and nope so far. Get on it collectors who never open your stuff, I say!

Oh, all right. One day I’ll get off my butt, dig out those PlayStation Club demo discs and have someone shoot footage of me playing them, but I just haven’t had the time to get onto that and some other projects. As usual, I digress. Anyway, the game wasn’t exactly a “blockbuster” in terms of sales or review scores, but it’s definitely one of those side projects where you could see the quality right from the beginning. Of course, with Polyphony so darn occupied with the vastly more popular Gran Turismo series of games, it’s hard to even think of a new OB rolling out from them any time soon. That’s not to say that is SHOULDN’T be done at all, folks. I’m just hoping that if there is a follow-up or remake, it gets the attention it should on a few fronts the original certainly didn’t.

Eh, perhaps I’ll bite the bullet, download a PlayStation emulator from somewhere and figure out how to record some gameplay. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, although I generally dislike using emulators over an actual console…

Jimmy and Ice-T Put The PS4 On The Hot Spot…

Alright, it’s a given: CUTE ROBOTS SELL CONSOLES. And SUPER-cute virtual robots you can play with and/or kick around the room? When the audience goes “D’aaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” more than five times a minute? Yeah, there’s Christmas in a box for Sony right there.

Okay, despite my occasional cranky side acting up from time to time, I’ll have to admit that Jimmy Fallon always gets me excited about gaming despite me having a longer history with them than he has. Granted, it’s his great enthusiasm for the medium and NOT his play style (that tends to lean towards the “Boy, do I suck at these games but I’m having FUN!” although he did beat Ice-T at that Pong variant) that’s hard to fake. And yep, game companies love him, Conan and anyone else they can get a console and controller to. Of course, none of them love ME, but that’s more my fault than theirs at the end of the day. Oh well, we’re workin’ on it… we’re workin’ on it. I’m thinking of writing a fake e-book (not really) called “How To Get The Respect You Deserve Without Being A Total Ass or Total Suck-Up” but we’ll say no more about that unless we want to be called a total ass. Or a total suck-up. Not too good at either of those, but I can swing both ways once I take some lessons. Is the Learning Annex still open here in NYC?

Batman: Arkham Origins Launch Trailer: Your “Personal Mission” Is To Buy This Game.

To quote the Joker (not verbatim, of course):“Ha ha heee hooo haa.” So, not only is the console and PC version solid, even the portable version is doing well. So, haters be damned. On the other hand, no one listens to the ranters and ravers who bile it up over games they haven’t played, so let them rant and complain. WB Games sure doesn’t need them for this game to be a hit, that’s for sure. Go get it or he’ll come and get you. The Batman, that is. The Joker is a bit tied up right now…

Batman Arkham Origins TV Spot: Every Story Has A Beginning…

It’s almost here, so hopefully it’ll follow in the footsteps of the previous installments when it comes to delivering the goods. Of course, my take is even if it’s not quite as stellar as the two Rocksteady-developed Batman games it’ll still be the best Batman game you’ll play this year and one of the better licensed superhero titles to date. Naturally, Lego Marvel Super Heroes will have something to say about that, but to me, those Lego games are quite different in tone and content than what’s here. On the other hand… if TT Games ever got to making a serious game in the vein of the Arkham titles, they’d be a force to be reckoned with if they nailed everything they aimed at.

And yes, if you’re a tablet user you can grab Batman Arkham Origins – Mobile for your iOS and Android devices this holiday season.

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate Is “Under New Management” (So Watch Your Step!)

In other words, the inmates have taken over the asylum and yes, Bats needs to do some darknight detecting and with due diligence at that or he’s not getting out in one piece. This 3DS/2DS and Vita game (set to launch with the console and PC versions on October 25, 2013) brings things down to size in “2.5D” form, but manages to look pretty cool and should feel like a classic side-scroller with a nice Arkham twist. Sure, you can get cranky and say the Vita game should be closer to the PS3 version, but here’s a case where I’ll defer to the dev team over at Armature because they’ve done a really good job with the visuals on both handhelds.

New Grand Theft Auto TV Spot Is 60 Seconds of “Well, There Goes The Neighborhood…”

GTAV The Official Trailer_1280x720

Well, that was… educational. Every time I see footage and screen shots from this upcoming wonderful time stealing enterprise called GTA V, I have to wonder how Rockstar Games keeps pulling this off, as each title in the long running series has been setting and raising all sorts of bars in terms of interactivity and storytelling. Yeah, yeah, I know many of you buy in for the mayhem you can cause, but when you get to the story and let it play out, they’re always extremely well written (and easily beat much of what Hollywood has to offer to death) and highly enjoyable. September 17th, people – start practicing that fake cough for that telephone call you’re going to make saying you’ve a bad case of the “flu” so you can get that week off to dive in and play around… you KNOW you’re going to…

Diablo III Console TV Ad: What the Hell, Indeed (But In A Better Way Than Some Think)…

I don’t know if Activision knows this yet, but this hilarious ad is a nice twist on the two Japanese TV spots from 1995 for the PlayStation port of Wizardry VII where a guy playing the game is suddenly visited by characters from the game (actors in costume) who grab him and take into into the game world. I’ll need to figure out how to get those clips from the import demo discs I have here and maybe post them (with fingers crossed that YouTube doesn’t get all jerky about it). Anyway, I’m certainly looking forward to this one a HELL (ha!) of a lot more than a chunk of the nasty naysayers commenting on this over the internet. It kind of sucks to be them and so unappreciative of Blizzard doing a console port that looks as good as the PC game in many respects while being more accessible to all sorts of players, but what can you do. Some folks made up their minds to hate this game as soon as it was announced and that’s just too bad…