First impressions #03: Mortal Kombat

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Welcome to First Impressions No. 3. This is a feature focusing on games that we’re trying for the first time and our immediate knee-jerk reaction. Be prepared for some interesting feedback on old and not-so-old games.

 

 

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Game: Mortal Kombat (2011)

Developer: Netherrealm Games

Publisher: Warner Bros.

System: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

Played by: Lyndsey, Jamie (for Xbox 360)

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say this from the beginning: I used to be a serious Mortal Kombat enthusiast. Mortal Kombat is and was the first series I got heavily into way back when in the 1990s. If you follow GI regularly, there’s lots of references to my past with the MK series strewn over the site.

I fell in love with the series in 1993 with the release of the second game. That’s partially why there’s a tournament going on here at GI. MKII sucked me in with interesting story, characters and gameplay that I’d never really given a thought to before. I wasn’t playing Street Fighter II and it didn’t appeal to me as much. But as time progressed and I grew up, my feelings about the quality of the series diminished. The high point for me was probably MK3/Ultimate MK3/Trilogy. Afterward, nothing particularly warrants any play for me. Until now.

When I first heard about the MK reboot, I was severely skeptical. I had been burned by the awful movie sequel, and the fourth through seventh games weren’t good and had gotten away from what it meant to be Mortal Kombat. It had several objectives I felt needed to be completed for me to even begin playing it: The first was to recapture the feel of Mortal Kombat; the second was to get rid of the cartoony distractions; and the third was to update the gameplay to the level of modern-day fighting games. Mortal Kombat has had some growing pains to be sure but I’m happy to say I’m in love again.

The first thing I noticed about the game was the level of detail. MK is gorgeous. The fighters get progressively worse as they’re battered about and it’s surprisingly well done. The gore is unbelievable, and that’s saying a lot even for Mortal Kombat. It goes a long way that the originator of gore has updated in a tasteful way one of the many things that made it famous. Now, my feelings about Dan Forden’s soundtrack are still out. I haven’t heard much of anything in the game yet and since this is preliminary, I may or may not care for it. Forden is one of my favorite game music composers, having gained my ardor with Mortal Kombat II. I’m anxious to see what he came up with for the reboot in terms of new and remixed compositions.

Looking at the controls, I am impressed. As someone who has consciously avoided the series for five games, it felt like old hat to pick up the game and jump right into doing moves. No changing of moves for the sake of changing moves to be different. No random move sets that don’t make sense for characters. To put it another way, Scorpion feels like Scorpion. Kitana feels and plays like she did in Ultimate. Everything felt comfortable and fluid once I got a little used to the new timing. The mistakes of MK4, Deadly Alliance and Deception have been rectified for me. I was ready to take it back if Scorpion’s moveset had been changed again; it was that crucial that he be playable and familiar.

My biggest question about the game’s lineage was answered, however: Does Mortal Kombat recapture the feeling of old? Yes. Everything I loved about the first three games is present but updated. It’s as if Netherrealm had to throw off the shackles of Midway to make the Mortal Kombat sequel that should have been made nearly 20 years ago.

The character models for Mortal Kombat are well done. Photo courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

I couldn’t help but notice the combination of its past and hopeful future. The graphics are easily on par with Tekken 5/Dark Resurrection/6 – a benchmark in video game graphics, in my opinion – but still retain the MK feel. The music, from what little I’ve heard, is remixed in some places but entirely new in others. The characters are all combatants that appeared in the first three games; no one after except for Quan Chi has made appearance yet. Though I realize that it can be argued that Quan Chi was a central behind-the-scenes character of MK1 that hadn’t been realized yet. Also, the gameplay feels like Ultimate MK3 updated without a Run button.

All of this adds up to a feeling of coming home with MK. I feel this is the game that I should have been playing in 2002 when I was desperate to hang on to my nostalgic love for the series. If you’re an old-school MK player like myself, don’t hesitate to buy it. It is quite possibly one of the best reboots ever achieved in video games.

20

04 2011

2Q2011 now online!

Gaming InsurrectionGaming Insurrection is proud to present the 2nd quarter 2011 issue!

In this issue:

1. Dreamcast fighting games – Gaming Insurrection examines the art of fighting games on Sega’s last scion, the Dreamcast. We discuss our favorite games and the peripherals we suggest to play them with in our quarterly features podcast.

2. Mortal Kombat II tournament – Our throwdown in the Midway fighting game classic continues with the second round of the winner’s bracket. Watch our tournament videos on YouTube and listen to our companion podcast!

3. Retrograde – We cover the following games: Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers (NES), Gauntlet II (NES), Bases Loaded (NES) and Donkey Kong (NES)

4. Ready, set, begin! – We review the following games: Crazy Taxi 2 (Dreamcast), Captain Commando (SNES), Mega Man IV (NES) and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

5. The Strip – The Spirit is discussed in the comic property review and Lyndsey Mosley gives a rundown of what she needs for her comic book movies to succeed. The Top 5 list focuses on useless heroes and Brandon Beatty continues his look at Death Note with a review of Vol. 3 of the manga. Rogue is our Marvel character highlight for the quarter.

6. Retrogamecorner – Rumored Mortal Kombat HD remakes make the rounds, and we detail the moves of Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard in the Pokemon Red and Blue Knowledge Center. Also, Jamie Mosley introduces a new column, Torture of the Quarter, with Silver Surfer for the NES as the first victim.

This quarter is also the first of our online redesign. We hope that a sprucing up of the site’s overall design will improve readability and usability. Let us know what you think! Register to leave a comment, drop us an e-mail or find us on Twitter and YouTube.

Play

02

04 2011

First impressions #02: Test Drive Unlimited 2

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Welcome to the second issue of first impressions. This is a feature focusing on games that we’re trying for the first time and our immediate knee-jerk reaction. Be prepared for some interesting feedback on old and not-so-old games.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

 

 

Game: Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011)

Developer: Eden Games

Publisher: Atari

System: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

Played by: Lyndsey (for Xbox 360)

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a strange beast. It’s several games wrapped up into one: A racer, off-road driving simulator, life simulator and collector’s dream. There’s plenty to do and discover in the course of the game, and it will undoubtedly be a while before anyone finds every single thing that’s hidden.

What drew me to the game, initially, was the promise of the off-road, drive anywhere premise. I didn’t play the original game so I wasn’t aware that this is standard in the series. I’d read a preview in Game Informer and found it interesting because I like the sandbox exploration types. This is why Animal Crossing is so fun for me and why I spent a lot of time playing it. Keep the sandbox element and throw in cars and driving, and I now have a game that I REALLY want to play. So TDO2 succeeded in that respect.

Once I got into the game, selected a character model – whom I can’t really make look all that much like myself – and got to exploring, I found a great deal of enjoyment waiting. I love the fact that I can buy a car from the beginning. The controls took a while to get used to but eventually I was zipping around Ibiza easily. The other immediate thing that I love about the setup is the GPS. While I don’t use it in real life, it was IMMENSELY helpful in the game. I usually found myself setting a course for some random spot on the island and driving to it in hopes of adding to my discovery points or finding a photo assignment (more on this later).

As I was exploring, I came across quite a few of the shops that the game offers. I love virtual shopping so this was one of my favorite parts: Dressing up my character randomly with money I earned. I can safely say my character is a classy-looking racer. I also bought another car, specifically for the dirt racing championships: A Land Rover. While I will probably never own one in real life (they are luxury vehicles in the U.S., after all), I do love the car. It’s gotten quite a few miles on it since I’ve been tooling around the island.

One of the things that I like about the game is the fact that I can enter championships at any time after I’ve earned the corresponding license. I love literally roaming around the island and jumping to a championship site whenever I feel like it. Same thing goes for the photo assignments I mentioned earlier. The premise is that you have to take shots of landmarks on Ibiza because some photographer hired a dimwit to take photos who didn’t know what they were doing. So off you go to fix the problem and get paid per shot. I’ve done seven so far at $5,000 a pop.

I’ve bought property also, another part of the collection aspect of the game. I have two homes now, though I really wish more of it

The car models in Test Drive Unlimited 2 are gorgeous. The people? Not so much. Photo courtesy of Gamespot.com

were customizable. Sure, you can change wall colors, tables and chairs, but that’s about it. I really wish I could purchase my own stuff from a store and have it put inside the houses.

While I love a lot of the game, there are some things I’m not fond of. The character models are terrible. I don’t really care about graphics that much, but I do have a line of pretty and not pretty in games, and this is one on the wrong side sometimes. The car models are awesome and I like the look and detail put into them, but the people look like a huge mess. They animate strangely, which was one of the first things I noticed. The other thing I noticed immediately was the reusage of models. It’s like there were only about six or seven models created so Eden reused them constantly throughout the game. Also, the voice work is terrible, too. Most of the time it doesn’t match visually with who’s saying it. In other words, my characters voice doesn’t really match up with what she looks like. Those gripes aside, I can really get into the game and spend a lot of time running around doing absolutely nothing.

The game did have a rocky launch and the online service is problematic, but that’s not what I play the game for anyway. I like the single-player experience just fine so far, and I think I’ll probably be sticking with it for awhile.

20

03 2011

Editorial #07: The downtrodden arcades of Columbia

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

You know, it isn’t enough that arcades have fallen off the face of the earth. No, we’ve got to get personal by throwing in beautiful accessories that mimic that once-in-a-lifetime experience of going to the arcades in our homes.

You used to be able to head out to your local gathering hole of smoke-filled debauchery where young men and women used to grope machines until they had their fill. I often wondered what an arcade crime feature would play out like when I had downtime away from the games that soaked up my young imagination and spit out a seasoned gamer. Nowadays … there is no place to head out to, unless you count GameStop, and that doesn’t really count.

GameStop is a retailer, and an annoying one at that. Having spent time receiving household income from them makes my dislike meter go way up, but that’s another story for another time. What we’re here to talk about is the demise of the arcades, and why someone let this travesty occur.

If I could take a time-traveling machine back to any point in my life that has already happened, it would be to when various family members were still alive and when I was able to traverse the wild of Decker Boulevard to Aladdin’s Castle in what used to be Columbia Mall in Columbia, S.C. Today, that spot is just a memory and grease-hole food court in the chameleon Columbia Place. Some jump-off no-name restaurant that I refuse to patronize – probably a Subway – occupies the spot where my dreams of becoming a social gamer were made, where I spent far too much money and where I learned how to kill a man digitally. It was there I made the leap from kiddie to big time, from a childlike innocence of Ski-ball to simulated murder-death-kill mode with Mortal Kombat II.

I held my 11th birthday party there in 1992, and the same year attended a bubblegum blowing contest held on a Saturday afternoon. Managing to blow the equivalent of $50 in tokens on Smash TV was the highlight of my life or so I thought. It wasn’t until later in the year when I first heard the words “Finish Him!” bellowing across the room that I even noticed there were more things to do than collect tickets. Then there was Kombat. After that, there was nothing else to do but play games against sweaty, hot young men – more than enough for my pre-teen hormone-fueled mind to handle. It was a good time to be female and a teenager. There was no shortage of guys to flirt with and, despite never getting dates, I always thought of the weekends and weeknights spent crowded around MK1 and MK2 as a good time.

Then I grew up.

Once life hits you in the stomach and takes your money like a bully on the playground, you start to realize a couple of things.

First, you don’t have time to run to the arcade like you used to. There’s homework to be done, projects to take care of, significant others to pay attention to. Then, there’s jobs. And once you acquire that newfangled thing called employment, there goes any kind of free time you will ever want to have.

Second, the need to go out is replaced by the significantly improved equipment you’ve got laying around the house. Why go to the arcade and drop $5 when you have a $300 machine sitting in your living room that basically is a miniature version of that? Eventually, that machine will pay for itself and the gas money you’ve spent and the money you’ve lost getting your ass kicked by some pimply faced snot-nosed brat with the same thing in his bedroom.

Finally, I’m not getting any younger. The hand and eye coordination is nowhere near what it used to be. Thus, I’m getting old and I’m in no mood to deal with what comes with aging and losing. My expiration date came up a long time ago.

But then I say to myself, “Lyndsey, stop it. You know better and it doesn’t matter how old you are.” And then I look up, and arcades are gone. Suddenly, I remember the doors being shut across the country, the once-thriving scene of machine dens relegated to movie theaters and back-alley parlors. And there are tears in my eyes because it wasn’t supposed to come to this. It’s not supposed to end like this.

There should be a place I can take my kids and show them that mama and daddy once roamed through here, making friends and learning etiquette along the way. It’s also the place where we met, a common ground that became something special because of our shared interest. But I can’t. And I won’t because by the time they’re old enough to understand, there will be nothing left. Not a brick of memory, but just a solitary ethernet cable sitting by their crib waiting to plug in and reach out to punch someone over Xbox Live.

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Gaming Insurrection

09

03 2011

Animal Crossing Chronicles Edition #03

Animal Crossing Chronicles

Welcome to the third edition of Animal Crossing Chronicles. This feature originally began in January 2010 and has evolved into a diary following a new character in the town of Tokyo on the GameCube version of Animal Crossing. Each quarter, we will look at the life of Samus as she makes her way through Tokyo and learns the ropes of life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

First night in, I had to work for Tom Nook. In return for doing his odd jobs, I received from my animal neighbors: A No. 67 shirt, an 8-mat tatami and a handcart. I kept the 8-mat tatami since it is one of my favorite floorings. Because Lyndsey and Jamie have already set up Tokyo, we have a Nookington’s and the museum is

Tom Nook offers wares for sale at Nookington's in Tokyo.

complete. This leaves me free to catch and sell all of the bugs and fish that I want. Also, we have non-native fruit (i.e. cherries, peaches, oranges and apples), so that’s more income as well. I will have my loan paid off in no time!

We have 14 animals in the town right now: Cousteau and Wolfgang (Acre E-5), Penny ( D-2), Mallary (D-4), Spork and Hazel (C-1), Spike, Jambette and Puck (B-1), Aziz (B-2), Olivia (C-2), Tutu (C-3), Petunia (C-4) and Bill (C-5). As always, we human characters all live in Acre B-3. I wonder if I can go over to Lyndsey’s house to play Super Mario Bros.?

So I began life in Tokyo during daytime hours. I was able to visit Nookington’s and sell stuff finally.I made 2,522 Bells. I then sold other stuff such as a crucian carp, pale chub, peaches, oranges and my tape deck. I won’t be needing the tape deck for awhile because I have yet to meet K.K. Slider. Even though he plays every Saturday at the train station, I don’t need music for awhile.

I caught the fish that I sold by purchasing a fishing rod and then a shovel. With the shovel I found the golden spot for the day and I got 1,000 Bells. I am well on my way to becoming rich enough to pay off my first loan of 17,400 Bells. I have decided that once I buy a net, I will catch some of the plentiful insects flitting around for income.

Even though it’s not summer, where I can make tens of thousands of Bells in a day from selling butterflies, I can still make nice Bells from the local insect economy.

I haven’t met with any of my neighbors, although I did meet our newest one, Bluebear, today. I’m pretty sure it’s a boy, but he was rude! But, then again, most of the population is like that, no matter what town you live in. In the spring, we may start the Tokyo Town Improvement Program. It’s an idea.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Samus catches one of her first red snappers. It sells for 3,000 Bells.

In my never-ending quest to make Bells, I caught fish today. It was my first full day of fishing and I caught a bundle! I nabbed three Barred Knifejaws, two Red Snappers, seven Sea Bass, a Freshwater Goby and a Guppy. This brought my selling total to 23,440 Bells, more than enough to pay off my first loan.

I also bought my net, so now I can catch bugs. In the interest of saving space in the house, I sold my orange box and diary and bought a blue bureau. With it, I added room because I moved some shirts to it. Getting the room expansion will be awesome because I will be able to spread out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I did it! I paid off my first loan to Tom Nook. I made a few more sales and bought more clothes, then paid it off at the post office. I owed 17,400, and I caught a Coelcanth the other day to make some more Bells since it was raining. Once I paid the loan off, I asked for the upgrade that Nook offers so that I can begin the expansion. I should have more space shortly!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I began paying off my new debt to Tom Nook today. He completed the remodeling repairs and the bill was 148,000 Bells! Thankfully, I paid him 58,000 Bells, bringing what I owe down to an even 90,000 Bells. I’m just waiting for a rainy day again.

With the Happy Room Academy, I received my lowest score ever: 285. They said my house was too small to generate any points, and I agree. I intend to boost it by doing a little remodeling myself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks to a mysterious benefactor, I paid off my second loan today! I believe it was someone in the town with the Bells to pull it off, and I’m pretty sure it was Lyndsey.

Samus makes one of the first of many loan payments at the post office.

There was a posting on the bulletin board for me! I checked it out and it said for me to check across the pond for “amazing treasure.” I went over there and found 180,000 Bells and some fossils. At this point the loan was at 90,000 Bells. so I paid it off completely and had about 132,000 Bells left over. I opted to get the basement addition from Nook so that I would have some place to put all of my clothes.

I saw a toilet in Lyndsey’s basement so I will buy that from her if she’s willing to sell it to me. I don’t have one in my inventory so I will have to pick it up that way or wait to buy it from Nook. There’s no telling when that will be.

I bought a daffodil chair and two shirts today.

I didn’t spend much and I got bills paid. I also put a fossil in the mail so that’s something extra coming in. I believe the next loan payment is in the 240,000 Bells range.

That will be easy to pay off quickly.

I did not talk with any of my animal friends today. I was in such a hurry to work on paying off the loan that I didn’t have time.

Apparently, Belle moved. I don’t even remember who that was so she must not have been too important. I think maybe she was a cat? I must have met her although Lyndsey told me in a letter that BlueBear sent a goodbye letter to her and she had never met him. Maybe everyone’s letters go to the humans when they move.

I know that the Harvest Festival is approaching but I don’t think I am going to go. I think I would just like to stay home this year and not visit with too many of my neighbors. I might pick some fruit, however, for my own feast. I may have Lyndsey and Jamie over as well.

03

01 2011

1st Quarter 2011 now online!

Gaming InsurrectionGaming Insurrection is proud to present the following content for the first quarter 2011:

  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles awesomeness – Gaming Insurrection goes in-depth with maps and strategies for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time and reviews of the game and eight other classic TMNT game titles. Reviews for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)*, TMNT II: The Arcade Game (XboFirst Quarter 2011 - Gaming Insurrectionx Live Arcade version)*, TMNT III: Manhattan Project (NES)*, TMNT: Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)*, TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES)* and the three Game Boy titles – Fall of the Foot Clan, Back from the Sewers and Radical Rescue – are the focus of coverage. Download the maps in a special pullout in the Special Section of gaminginsurrection.com.

2. Mortal Kombat II tournament – Gaming Insurrection begins its first tournament for the classic fighting game from Midway, Mortal Kombat II. We provide brackets, tournament rankings, match analysis and video.*

3. Ready, Set, Begin! – These TMNT games are covered: Turtles in Time, Tournament Fighters and Manhattan Project.

4. Retrograde – The following TMNT games are covered: TMNT, Hyperstone Heist, The Arcade Game, Fall of the Foot Clan, Back from the Sewers and Radical Rescue.

5. The Strip – GI jumps into the impact of the TMNT comics and 1987 TV show in Strip Talk, reviews the three live-action TMNT movies, highlights Colossus in the Marvel character highlight, reviews Tenchi Muyo’s latest manga in Otaku and takes a look at the five best quotes from TMNT villain Shredder.

As always, you can download the issue from the main site, if you like.

Gaming Insurrection is continuing with its visual update, which began last quarter. Typography and readability is important to us and we appreciate all comments and suggestions. Let us know what you think by e-mail (editor[at]gaminginsurrection.com or gaming_insurrection[at]gaminginsurrection.com) or by Twitter!

*= Video enabled!

01

01 2011

Editorial #06: Not going far enough, Nintendo

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

I am an advocate for the old-school, I’ll heartily admit. I love to reminisce about the days when Nintendo was king and had the greatest system ever made on the market: the Super Nintendo. I’m also an unabashed Mario fan girl, and I don’t even like using the term. However, my love for the forgone days of dominance from the House that Mario built has its limits, and I’ve reached them with one of their recent releases: Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii.

The 25th anniversary of the Mario should have been a spectacle to behold. Nintendo could have pushed the older days back to the forefront with the spectacular release of a Mario compilation disc for the Wii, which would have utilized all manner of control types. This would have reminded gamers that Mario was still king of his domain and when he wants to say something, you pay attention because it will be guaranteed to be something amazing. Instead, Nintendo throws out a bare bones Wii remake of the original Super Mario All-Stars that was released in 1993 for the SNES. We are not playing with power at this point; we are experiencing abject failure.

I could wax poetic about how the original All-Stars played wonderfully or how great it was to see Mario cleaned up and save states added. But, in fact, I already have. In the fourth quarter 2010 issue, we praised the game in a review, which I wrote. I lovingly gazed upon the franchise’s first four versions and practically gift-wrapped it as one of the greatest examples of remakes that could be had. However, this was written before Nintendo decided to be cheap and throw out the exact same game on Wii with few additions to the external package. From what I gather, all you’re getting is the original game on a Wii disc; a pictorial with sparse commentary from Shigeru Miyamoto, Koji Kondo and Takashi Tezuka; and a soundtrack with one or two songs from each game. That’s it? It couldn’t be, right? Well, it is, kiddies. Take it or leave it, because that’s apparently all that the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest games ever made means to the company that profited the most from its success.

If I were Miyamoto, in particular, I’d be extra special pissed. First of all, Mario has made Nintendo and continues to make the company unimaginable amounts of profit. He is Nintendo. You can’t go anywhere without seeing Mario and instantly associating him with video games and Nintendo in general. So for Nintendo to half-ass a significant milestone for Mario is ridiculous. Second of all, Mario deserves a huge celebration for 25 years. There are few other franchises that have been around that long, let alone have been successful and still continue to inspire games. And we’re not just talking decent games; we’re talking great games that are routinely included in “Game of the Year” conversations and innovate and change the way we think about playing video games in general. Finally, I’d be ashamed if I were Nintendo because what does it say when you can’t even muster the effort to give your marquee title a special push? It tells me you’ve become complacent, and Nintendo can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

Here’s what I wanted to see in this special release:

1. Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, Lost Levels, World and Mario Bros. on one disc. On a second disc, Mario 64 and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, but this is depending on getting both to fit on the disc.

2. A special version of a level editor simply entitled “Super Mario.” It could function much like Little Big Planet wherein you create levels using Mario elements from the first four games in the platforming series. Super Mario Kart could also be thrown in here, and the player could create tracks and scenarios like ModNation Racers. I think it could work, and if Nintendo’s Internet strategy were worth anything, created stages/tracks could be uploaded to servers. I’m almost positive it could be a big hit in Japan and the U.S.

3. A multi-disc set of Mario music. Most Mario fans will already have their favorite tracks from the games but let this be a Koji Kondo’s composer’s choice. He could write the foreword on the CD liner notes and include a written paragraph on why he picked a particular track. The music could go all the way from Mario Bros. to Super Mario Galaxy, much like the included soundtrack already does, but it’d have more than one disc with two songs from each game.

4. The artwork book could be included but add the NES Game Atlas maps for Super Mario Bros. 1-3 in with Lost Levels and the Super Mario World atlas from the Mario Mania Player’s Guide of 1991.

This package would be well worth more than the $30 that Nintendo charged for the package they’ve released, but for the content that I could get with this enhanced package, I would gladly pay whatever they asked. It would be enough for me to buy a Wii again and use it.

Nintendo, shape up. This should have been a crowning achievement for the company, and a major celebration for Mario and his legacy. You’ve let down your longtime fans long enough, and it’s shame that Mario didn’t receive the recognition it deserved for an achievement such as 25 years of captivating gamers. Shame on you, Nintendo.

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Gaming Insurrection

24

12 2010

Editor’s Weekly Podcast episode #20: What we’ve been up to

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

We’ve been out the game for a little bit but we’re back with a new episode for the Editor’s Weekly Podcast.

We talk about what we’ve been playing, what we’ve bought for various systems and ideas for various existing games such as Animal Crossing. Borderlands, a favorite with Gaming Insurrection, gets major air time as we discuss a little bit of the DLC that we’ve downloaded as well as the recent update to the game.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming podcast, Guns of Pandora, which will focus on Borderlands.

Play

07

12 2010

First impressions #01: Yakuza

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Welcome to the first batch of an expected new feature: First impressions. This is a feature focusing on games that we’re trying for the first time and our immediate knee-jerk reaction. Be prepared for some interesting feedback on old and not-so-old games.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

Game: Yakuza (2006)

Developer/Publisher: Sega

System: PlayStation 2

Played by: Lyndsey

I’d heard nothing but good things about the Yakuza series. Countless gaming publication have lauded the series as a good adventure if you want to get into that side of the criminal life, a lot like Grand Theft Auto. With the fourth game approaching release in America, I decided to give it a shot and hunt it down. As I was preparing a drawn hunt for the game, I lucked upon it in a GameStop not far from my apartment for about $10. It’s slightly rare so I bought it when I could and let it marinate on “The Shelf” for a few weeks until I could get some time to devote my full attention to it.

Booting up my ancient PlayStation 2, one of the first things I noticed was the long Sega introduction. It is quite possibly the longest game developer/publisher introduction I have ever seen in a game. It’s probably bad of me to say but I thought to myself, “Sega if you spent as much time on your games as you did this intro, Sonic might not be dying the slow painful death he is right now.” Just a thought. Moving on, I let the game boot up and scrounged around for my 8MB memory card, something I haven’t had to use in a long time with the newfangled systems out such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Once I got the game rolling, I immediately went into the options screen. A rule of thumb for me is to check out the options first thing just in case there’s a difficulty setting. I can’t stand trying a game for the first time and dying a million times because I forgot to set the difficulty. After searching around for a bit, I found no difficulty option and created a new game.

Yakuza is easily a cut-scene heavy adventure. And this is something that annoyed me immediately. The game starts off with a flashback, then jumps to 1995 to show how you got to the point of the flashback. OK, fine, but can I actually play some of the story? It moves toward that with the tutorial fight against mobsters but then it’s back to more cutscene. So the basic structure is lots of story exposition, brief fight, a lot more story exposition, brief fight, story exposition ad nausea. I don’t mind a little bit of cutscenes to move the story along but I want to do more fighting, less watching. Pull me into the game with fantabulous game mechanics; don’t drown me in story.

The story that you do watch unfold is actually pretty good. It’s written well and while the voice acting could use some work, it’s not so bad that you can’t get wrapped up in the saga of Kazuma Kiryu. The fact that most of the soundtrack is in English with obvious syncing issues is interesting. If you care about that kind of thing in games, it will irk you. If you don’t, you won’t even notice it. I’m on the side of not caring. What I did notice was usage of the words f—, f—–, motherf—– and every variation in between. Not that I have a problem with profanity in games. I curse like a drunken sailor on leave so the usage is not an issue, but in a game that supposed to be about Japanese gangsters, it’s in every sentence just about. Or so it seems. The audio loop is crazy in the game, so much so that you’ll hear the same noises repeatedly in the brief time you’re allowed to run about in the district. So I literally was called a f—— 20 times in the tutorial fight. Hilarious.

Kazuma Kiryu's fight mechanics are awkward in Yakuza. Photo courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

The game isn’t exactly pretty either. I had to remind myself that this was a hot property in 2006. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that I’ve seen better from about the same year. I mean, you’ve got Tekken 5, which was released the year before and then you have Yakuza’s visuals. Two different genres, I know, but on the same system. It also handles awkwardly and the repetition of the fight mechanics are disappointing, but it’s not really that bad of a game.

Really, the game seems very Crazy Taxi-like in its handling and feel but with more profanity. And so far, I’m enjoying it albeit in a different mindset than something that would be released today. If they’ve fixed this stuff in the sequels, I’m more than open to trying them. I’m a huge fan of Japanese culture and it’s trying to capture that aspect of the seedy underbelly … in a game. I can’t knock Sega for trying.

Verdict: Playable and worth looking for.

05

12 2010

What we’ve been doing …

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

It’s an exciting time here at Gaming Insurrection. We’re completing ambitious add-ons to the core magazine and we’re close to acquiring new software for better production. We hope to better the publication.

For the first quarter of 2011, we have something exciting: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue. We decided to look at the nine games released for the franchise across the NES, Super NES, Genesis and GameBoy. Content for The Strip will include property reviews for the first, second and third live-action movies. GI on the whole are massive fans of the Turtles and we hope this will be reflected in our blowout.

Also in the first quarter will be the start of a Mortal Kombat II tournament. Jamie and I will be recording matches, writing analysis and creating a podcast for the feature. We have several videos floating around on YouTube already for Mortal Kombat II and 3 and we’re prepared to add more. The tournament should run into next year, and it will play a prominent role in each issue until its conclusion.

Finally, there are two new sections coming to Gaming Insurrection. The first is the Retro Game Corner, a short look at the old school through short stories. Within the new section is also another new feature, the Pokemon Red & Blue Knowledge Center. This feature will examine the original 151 Pokemon in Pokemon Red and Blue for the GameBoy, providing tips and suggestions for team creation and movesets. The second new section is the Animal Crossing Chronicles. Originally a feature here on the blog, it will focus on the  exploits of a new character, Samus, in the town of Tokyo in the original Animal Crossing for GameCube. Each quarter will have photos and diary entries of Samus’ life in a new town already populated by our characters!

In other developments, we hope to have more Game Nights and get a new podcast rolling. Guns of Pandora will focus on GI’s love of Borderlands for the Xbox 360. We plan to discuss all aspects of the game, which we spend quite a bit of time messing around with.

The next update, for the first quarter 2011, will take place at the beginning of January. Keep your eyes and ears open for more content from us here at GI.

06

11 2010