Gamescom 2014: P.T. Is SH? Count Me IN!

I’d have to say the biggest new game news out of Gamescom was the surprise reveal of a collaboration between game creator Hideo Kojima, writer/director Guillermo Del Toro and actor Norman Reedus in the form of an all-new horror game called Silent Hills (currently) for the PlayStation 4. There’s a playable teaser (dubbed “P.T.”) up on PSN* as I type this and it seems that some players aren’t getting that it’s NOT supposed to be a demo of the FINAL game, but a teaser of what’s to come and may change entirely from what’s there. Then again, given the amusingly screechy reaction from YouTube user SoapyWarpig (the first person to discover what this mysterious P.T. was, congratulations, by the way!), I’m betting a lot of fans of that particular horror franchise will be plunking down some money towards a PlayStation 4 if they haven’t gotten one yet.

*Note: P.T. is a bit “tricky” to find on the PS Store if you’re just looking for it on your phone/tablet, laptop or desktop. However, if you log into your PSN account and use the search bar (type in PT), you’ll get sent to the demo page and all you need to is download away and get to playing. I think the jump scare stuff in that first video is funny because it might be Kojima poking fun at the endless stream of “let’s watch random guys and gals freak out!” videos that litter YouTube for every horror game these days. I found it more unsettling and bizarre than actually fly out of my chair frightening. Now, to find out if this is another PlayStation-only game or a timed exclusive that’s going to pop up on other consoles and/or PC at some point…

Gamescom 2014: Hey, Sony! You Kind Of Forgot About The Vita, Huh?

Hmmm. Well, not entirely, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything said about the small wonder at that huge event today. Freedom Wars looks like fun and a big buy this year, but nothing else was shown at that big deal media briefing meaning anyone who wanted to buy into the handheld looking for a showing at the show was probably left wondering if Sony even HAS a portable system. It’s kind of lame in a way because the system out-powers the 3DS by quite a bit and runs in a lovely HD widescreen Nintendo hasn’t yet realized on any of their handheld systems. Of course, it’s ALL about games at the end of the day and while the Vita does indeed have a number of solid must-play titles, there’s been s distinct lack of promotion of some of the non first-party titles that get kicked onto PSN and overlooked within a few days to weeks… Continue reading

Collection Update: One WARP Mystery Solved, One Begun!

WARP Duo

 

Well, now. I knew about the kooky Flopon World on the 3DO for years, but have never seen a copy until a few weeks back when someone pointed to one up for sale on eBay. I let it sit there for a while watching it and hoping the cover would scare the more prudish collectors who might have wanted it off (how you explain two near-naked dudes on the cover of a match-3 variant puzzle game is all up to you, folks!) and I guess it worked. I made an offer and grabbed this for less than I thought I’d be able to. One down and what I thought was the LAST game I needed in my WARP collection (well, except for that legendary Enemy Zero limited edition that I’ve NEVER seen an image of) other than whatever other demos the company produced for the Japanese 3DO magazine than what I have here.

I guess I was wrong, as a few days later I see Flopon P!, a PlayStation game not listed as part of WARP’s output on GameFaqs… which has the WRONG cover image for Flopon World, by the way. I have NO idea what game is pictured other than to say it’s on the Flopon World disc as one of at least four games, so perhaps it’s a demo disc I’ve never seen? Anyway, the PlayStation game was published by Asmik in 1995 and the serial number SLPS 00032 just may mean that not counting demo discs, it was the 32nd PlayStation game released in Japan. But I think that numbering system went off the rails at some point. While it doesn’t have the WARP logo on the package or in the manual (and I don’t have the spine card to check if it’s there), both WARP and Asmik have copyright info on the game and the late, great Kenji Eno’s name is in the manual’s credits page. Hmmmmm… perhaps this was a co-production and thus not an “official” WARP game? I need to find this out, as it’ll make those who collect the few games made by this defunct company run out and track this one down. I think this one only cost me about six dollars, so that’s a steal and a nice addition to the library.

Watch_Dogs on PS3: Solo or Online, It’s Looking Like A Winner For Ubisoft…

 
Hey, I may not have a decent gaming PC (yeah, I’m not all that willing to blow food and bill money on 3D card upgrades, a new monitor and all sorts of stuff just to say I can play a game for graphics first), but my PS3 still gets the job done just fine. Anyway, Watch_Dogs may have been delayed for a bit, but I don’t mind (or care) at all if it means the end results will be even more finely tuned. Now, I’m not at all interested in this as an online experience because I’m a story first kind of guy. So, I’m most likely going in with no intentions of spending a second playing with or against others when this finally hits stores.

 
Granted, given that Verizon is forcing everyone in this area to update their service to whatever higher speed connection they’re going to replace all the land lines with (and you should read their lame-ass excuse for doing this), I’ll be finally able to get on PSN with my old fat model PS3 (I’ve been using my Vita at a few wi-fi hotspots to get games and updates for that system). I can’t even imagine all the game patches and updates waiting for my poor hard drive, so I’m probably going to need an external drive before that big communication change occurs. Oh well, enforced evolution… do your stuff, I guess…

Omega Boost 1995/1996: A Work In Progress Before Some Big Changes…

Omega Boost Demo 0 OB_Cyber Head Logo OB_WIP Omega Boost Demo TS OB_HTP screen OB_HTP_SC2 OBS2 OBD_Cockpit View Omega Boost Demo 1

PC_Vol.2Well, now. That wasn’t hard or annoying after all except for two things. One quick download of an emulator, some fast configuring and popping in the demo disc I have here and boom – pictures of the first of three Omega Boost demos that appeared on Japanese PlayStation Club discs from 1996 to 1999. The game went through some major changes in those three years, but even as a 30% complete version in these shots it’s pretty darn interesting from a technical standpoint.

I believe the demo runs at 60 frames per second, it has three selectable viewpoints (first person/cockpit/third person), a full 360 degrees of freedom and is pretty fun overall for what it is. Granted, I took these screenshots at the library while dinking around on a keyboard because I didn’t bring a controller with me (oops) or else there would have been about 30 more images here. I also didn’t tinker with the visual settings on the emulator to make the game prettier because I like the look of many early PlayStation games.

Finally, I need to find out who made up Cyber Head, which seems to be the development team behind the first two builds. Based on some other games I’ve played, it seems that in the early days of PlayStation development, a few studios didn’t mind sharing talent to help each other out as the new hardware was being explored to see what it could really do. Hmmm… I smell a longer story here at some point. I wonder if there’s anyone still around from those days with some helpful info?

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…

Persona 5: One REALLY Great Reason to Keep That PlayStation 3 Around…

Persona 5 chairsWinter 2014 in this case probably doesn’t mean between January and March of next year, folks. If anything, Atlus is smart as hell for getting the team working on this to do so on the old hardware simply because they know it so well and can make this the best-looking Persona game to date if they choose to go all out on the visuals.

And speaking of visuals, that image from the Japanese website (currently the sole piece of art available) is pretty striking, isn’t it? That said, I’m not going to be stupid here and speculate what it means other than to say that given the previous games were about high-school age kids discovering they’re endowed with special powers and need to save the world before it ends in some insanely dramatic manner while also going through the motions of daily life, classwork and homework should still present a major story point throughout the game.

Eh, we’ll see what’s what over the next year – there’s plenty of time for Atlus to drop loads of updates before the game is ready to ship out…

Now, about those OTHER Persona games… read on for my take, if you dare…
Continue reading

TGS 2013: Ah, So… THAT’S What a Lily Bergamo Is… Maybe.

Well, OK… I still don’t know what this is other than the first PlayStation 4 game coming from Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda 51 for GungHo Online Entertainment. That one-two punch, by the way, means you’ll be getting a truly wild experience that has to be played to be believed. I think this is only the third game they’ve done with a sole female lead (if you count Sine Mora), so there’s another interesting thing to consider (at least if you’re like me). According to Gematsu, Lily Bergamo is an online action game meant to be played with smartphones and the PS4, but if that is indeed the case, I need to get someone over at GungHo and grasshopper to realize that the VITA needs to be in that mix somewhere, as it’s quite silly to skip something so obvious that even someone as dumb as me has figured out from early on (that the Vita needs MORE cool games like this!). And oh yeah, that gal in the teaser isn’t named Lily or Bergamo. She’s called Tae Ioroi, meaning now I’m all confused again about just what the heck this game is all about (and why it’s not coming to the obvious Vita or slightly less obvious upcoming Vita TV “console”). Eh, it’s still quite early in development and yep, things will change for better or worse (or somewhere in between as a happy middle ground)…

Import News… From The Future!: Earth Defense Force PS4 Bound

EDF_PS4

Given the formerly budget priced series’ loyal following since it appeared as part of the Simple 2000 lineup on the PlayStation 2, it was pretty much a given that D3 Publisher and developer Sandlot would be bringing gamers a new EDF game on Sony’s upcoming console. Import gaming site Siliconera reports that there’s a game in the works, which is awesome to hear. No news on how far in development it is, who’s making it (no doubt it’ll be Sandlot’s first title on the new hardware) or what the intended release date is.

Of course, just hearing this news is enough for me and I’m hoping Sandlot can finally make an EDF game with a stable frame rate when the going gets tough on those crazier maps. Granted, the series is known for its sometimes wonky technical issues (that don’t stop the games from being a hell of a lot of FUN, mind you), but given the PS4’s power under the hood, it would be fantastic to see a locked in 30 or even 60fps in the new game even with all those giant bugs, robots and buildings blowing up into assorted pieces. OK, I’ll take a solid 30 at this point, as even thinking of double that is a bit of a pipe dream unless Sandlot gets some help in optimizing whatever engine they’ll be utilizing. I’d gather it’ll be an all new in-house bit of tech, as the EDF 4 engine had some issues on the PS3 that weren’t in the Xbox 360 version of EDF 4.

As usual, we shall see… stay tuned for updates.

And NO, Dream C Club: Host Girls On Stage is most likely NOT coming to North America. Like it or not, that’s TOO niche for even D3PoA to even consider unless they want to sell something like 5000 or so copies of a game (at most) and be happy with that.

Pre-TGS News: SCEJ Drops Plenty of Vita Bombshells Plus a Late PS4 Release In Japan…

Weird, wild stuff going on overseas, as Sony is surprisingly bringing out a redesigned, less expensive Vita in different colors with 1GB of on board memory, an even more inexpensive Vita TV device that will let users play Vita and other PlayStation titles, watch movies and more plus a whole load of so far Japanese-only info including the release date of the PlayStation 4 in the territory. The big surprise on that end is the PS4 is shipping out AFTER the North American and European launch, which is something of a first for a Sony gaming console if I’m  not mistaken.

Back to the Vita for a second – Sony has also announced a new 64MB Memory Card as well as price drops on its other proprietary memory cards for the handheld. The 64GB card will retail in Japan for 9,980 yen (about $100) and the new pricing on the currently available cards is as follows: the 4GB card drops to to 1,480 yen (about $15), the 8GB card to 1,980 yen (about $20), the 16GB card to 3,780 yen (about $38) and the 32GB model to 6,480 yen (about $65). Meanwhile, as noted above, North American and European gamers will get their PlayStation 4’s a few months earlier than Japan, as a February 2014 launch window was revealed. According to a few news sites, the reason seems to be Sony having issues meeting high demand for the console worldwide and probably targeting more units for the US and Europe first thanks to greater demand in those countries.

Finally, the launch title lineup for Japan was revealed as well, but we’ll take a peek at some of those titles in another post shortly. My fingers are of course, crossed that these price drops and new products pop up here in the US, but as always… we shall see…