Posts Tagged ‘fighting’

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

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

MK live action trailer reaction

The live-action Mortal Kombat trailer was sick! I was nearly moved to tears to see my favorite fighting game franchise rise from the ashes and blow minds like that. I am so impressed with everything: I loved the new backstories, the introduction to key characters from MK2 (my favorite in the series), the acting, the fight scenes … everything.

I have said since MK4 that the series really needed to move back to its roots completely to get back to the awesomeness that was MK’s early days and this looks like the way to go. Way to go MK team! Even if this is just a teaser for MK: Devastation (I don’t think it is, but there’s hope), I don’t care: It still looked awesome. The production values were high and the attention to character backgrounds was GREAT. I liked that they explained what made the characters who they were and I could easily identify who was who. I’m guessing it’s going to start with MK2, which is a good thing.

Kudos again, MK team! For the first time in a long time I’m excited about the direction of the series. For a longtime fan who disliked all later entries starting with MK4, this is a welcome return home.

08

06 2010

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 matches

In honor of the recent release of the Capcom remake, we have released a video of MvC2 play.

Two high-level players, Mike D. and Faris H., graciously allowed us to film two of their matches during a trip to Fun Fun Fun in Fayetteville, N.C. They are good friends and play against each other quite a bit apparently, so their matches tend to go either way. It’s sort of like when Jamie and I play each other.

We’re proud to present these two matches and hope to have more in the future!

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21

08 2009