Happening now on GameLuv

This Week on YouTube: A new videOST, Cobra Command Laserdisc and PlayStation Mobile

What a week it’s been for my channel! This past Saturday saw another Summer Games installment featuring Ribbit King with Katy. Tuesday was a quick look at Tetris Plus which kinda let me down after I’d built it up all these years in my mind. Wednesday offered another PlayStation Mobile update and my first developer comment. Thursday was jam-packed with a new videOST series featuring the music and gameplay of X-Men on the Genesis and a clean, two-part upload of Cobra Command on Laserdisc. Part 1 is the entire in-game experience while Part 2 features all the numerous death animations and some bonus stuff.

Katy continues down the Sims 3 rabbit hole on her channel this week. There’s loads of mashup madness as Style Savvy Trendsetters meets The Sims for Sims 3: playing Style Savvy Trendsetters Part 2 and Part 3. Then a new series gets underway with Sims 3: Playing Style Savvy Trendsetters town 02Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Done Playing: Trials Frontier (Android, iOS)

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It was the fourth part in one of the game’s longest string of quests. Each round requires out-racing an increasing number of real player ghosts. After numerous attempts and waiting for the timer on a few bike upgrades I was finally able to top the 26th opponent in my way. With the victory dialog finally ready to reveal something I felt like I was in for a big reward… and then the game broke.

It would be a day of force closing the app, restarting it and watching it crash on that same almost-reveal. I posted to the official forums and another day later was advised to remove the game and download it again. Booting it up didn’t find my save game until I’d replayed the introductory section again but finally, I was able to complete the quest. The reward? Another tier of 26 opponents and a tease of a further sentence of explanatory text. My other quest option was similar; another tier of endless grinding to craft top tier items in races against grueling A.I. opponents.

That was about a week ago at this point and since I haven’t had the heart to load up the game I think it’s safe to say I’m officially ‘Done PlayingTrials Frontier. It was a lot of fun and I played it for a solid two months and change; I even gave them five bucks when they had a pack of coins, gear and diamonds on sale. Those boosts helped but the quests I’m up to now require double the time, luck and energy as the ones I’d worked through in the weeks before.

Here is the apex of what I’m willing to give for some physics-y fun driving and what the game wants to take out of me to let me keep going. And like one of those impossibly steep inclines on an Extreme difficulty Trials track I just can’t throw myself at it any longer. Now, if they’d just put Trials Fusion on sale already!

Continue reading this series with Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 

This Week on YouTube: PlayStation Mobile, TurboGrafx and More!

I’ve been keeping up with the PlayStation Mobile marketplace on the Vita since the beginning. It’s technically an Android platform but the games also take into account the Vita’s buttons, analog sticks and D-Pad. There’ve been some interesting releases, loads of shovel-ports from iOS and even some handy apps released by small groups and individuals.

After much procrastination I’ve finally decided to start a new YouTube series, gleefully called ‘It is Totally Time for PlayStation Mobile!’. Each Wednesday I’ll point a webcam at the Vita and catch you up on the latest releases and updated games, and since there’s quite a back catalog I’ll dig up a golden oldie to call out. I posted an “episode zero” on Sunday but the first real installment went up this week as well.

Elsewhere on the ‘Tube, Summer Series raged on with the punishingly difficult Jet Moto last Saturday, I checked out the methodical movements of Mr. ESC with EXIT on PSP and I spent some time with a childhood favorite, Veigues Tactical Gladiator for TurboGrafx-16.

And in the gilded hinterlands of Katy’s channel she harvested a bevvy of nutritious new uploads this past week. Allow me to read the menu:

 

Play your old tables on Pinball FX2; out now on Xbox One

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“Any available tables originally purchased on the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft will transfer over to the Xbox One version of the game at no additional cost,” reads the blog post over at MajorNelson.com

Score one for Team Internet! When Pinball FX2 was announced for Xbox One my excitement immediately fizzled into disappointment with the news that previously purchased tables wouldn’t carry over. How upset was I? In uncharacteristic fashion I actually sought out an online forum and openly expressed my feelings. Apparently loads of other Pinball FX fans did the same because now our table purchases do carry over. Oh and it’s out now on Xbox One so go play some free demo tables or load up the ones you already bought!

Nom Nom Galaxy gets Souped up for PS4 and Vita

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When I first saw Q-Games’ Nom Nom Galaxy (then called Pixeljunk Inc.) a few years ago I was surprised it wasn’t a PlayStation exclusive. The developer was aligned with Sony at the beginning of the PlayStation 3 era and has only recently moved to PC. I’ve had fun with the Early Access PC version as it’s developed but today’s news leaves us early backers wondering where our final product is.

Announced amidst the flurry of Gamescom news is word that Nom Nom Galaxy is coming to PlayStation 4 and Vita in the future and the goal is to get multiplayer working between the two platforms. Drop in co-op promises to allow friends to play together across the two consoles both online or in the same room. Asynchronous and Community challenges are also in the works and are currently lacking from the PC version.

Today’s news was only an announcement and more details are forthcoming but I hope at least some of Sony’s resources seep back into the PC version. I’d love for the original product to get similar features or at least be a final product before focus shifts to PlayStation.

KatyCraft: I Choose YOU, Pokeball bracelet!

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You guys, Katy makes a lot of awesome stuff. She’s on Red Bubble, Storenvy, Etsy, and Gumroad with stickers, cross stitches, shirt designs, jewelry and more. It’s not all video game related either, she’s got your fandoms covered! This week I’d like to point you to this Pokeball inspired hand-braided bracelet. It’s around 6.5 inches long with a ball and loop closure and in a way it kinda means you are the Pokemon when you’re wearing it.

For the love of SNES, go grab the Humble Weekly bundle!

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Hey you guys! Go and buy the Humble Weekly Bundle: Japan Edition right now and play Gigantic Army if nothing else! Created in the spirit of “Cybernator / Assault Suits Valken, Metal Warriors, and Front Mission: Gun Hazard” it has all the stuff that made me desperately want a SNES in the 90’s. Giant mech suits, guns with elaborate model numbers/codenames, huge sprites, giant explosions and a war with an overpowering alien race.

On Easy it’s about 35 minutes long but  it’s a fun nostalgic ride all the way and it leads to three extra difficulty modes that are sure to remind you of what those 90’s era SNES games were really like: brutal. The bundle also includes Unholy Heights, a fun little game that combines weird monsters, hotel management and some light strategic combat with a Katamari/Animal Crossing vibe. It’s one of the best bundles I’ve bought in a while and there’s even more stuff if you pay a little more. Check it out, T-minus 2 days and counting as of this post!

This Week on YouTube: Just Outrunning the Summer

We started things out with an extra summery Summer Series on Saturday featuring Outrun 2 on the original Xbox. Man, I love Outrun but I’m super terrible at playing it well. Anyways, let’s take a Magical Sound Shower together!

Next up is a quick run through Destruction Derby 2, sequel to one of the original PlayStation’s debut titles and a game full of single-minded, masochistic A.I. assholes. These guys are really only out to ruin your day but it makes for some fabulous replays! Things are turning Turbo for the next few weeks now that I paid for a copy of Magic Engine. As a test for performance and recording I spent some time with Aero Blasters, a shooter with a unique history, if not the most unique gameplay.

While I meter out my recordings a little conservatively, Katy is blowing things up on her channel. There’s more Dragon Age 2 and Jewelleria and a whole lot more Sims 3. She has multiple new uploads as she manages the wild and wonderful lives of Katy and Shawn (Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). And there’s much more of her building the world of Style Savvy Trendsetters within The Sims 3 (Part 3, Part 4, Part 5).

Retro Watching: Unreleased FMV and Mode 7 Breaks YouTube

That vacation we took put me weeks behind on Giant Bomb videos and then work got more than a little hectic for a while there, but I finally got back to some Retro Watching this week.

The Top Story
The most interesting of the bunch was Maximum Surge. Possibly the most advanced FMV game ever conceived, it would’ve been Digital Pictures’ swan song but they closed their doors before they could finish it. The rights and material were acquired by Cyber Cinema Interactive who ultimately cut together the footage into a movie; Game Over. So we have 1995 footage of Yasmine Bleeth and Walter Koenig talking to the camera, cut together and released as a non-interactive movie in 2003. All around it’s just a fascinating horror show of FMV history and I really want to watch it.

Fighting Run (PC-Engine)
This is a peculiar mix of top-down racing and 2D fighting. It’s a little spazzy as you swerve around a track while trying to pummel a rival robot. As easy as the video makes it look, believe me, this game is tough. There’s some GIFable moments in the game so I fired it up to get better quality grabs but I couldn’t even beat the first bot. There’s a fun meta game to be played guessing the celebrity likenesses of the rival robot pilots.

King of Rally (Super Famicom)
This Japan exclusive Mode 7 racer looks fantastic. YouTube compression isn’t kind to the sprite scaling but you can gawp at the awesome Mitsubishi vehicle designs and the teardown animations. I’ll be trying this one soon so expect a video of colossal failure.

Diggers 2: Extractors (PC)
Much to my surprise, this one turned out to be more Minecraft than the Lemmings clone it looked like from old magazines. There’s digging, resource gathering, weight limits, ferrying stuff back to a shop, and tools you need to proceed. It’s a startlingly modern style game and I keep daydreaming how I’d update it today. Like that’ll ever happen.

The Loose Ends
Savage Warrior was billed as the PC’s answer to the Street Fighter craze but it’s more like a slobbering whimper of a response. It’s pretty heinous. Super Air Diver (Lock On, in the US) is another SNES cart whose Mode 7 effects are lost on YouTube’s compression. It’s really only worth watching to see the guy do a loop to avoid some missiles. Run Saber on SNES was a fun Strider/Shinobi-esque action game to watch. The alien invaders are taking over human objects so you get awesome boss fights against a garage door and a jet fighter.

Game Reviews in a Post-Review Era

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Oort Online will be funded piece-by-piece over an undetermined stretch of time, targeting extra features according to votes from the playerbase,” reads a recent post at Joystiq.

How do you review something like that? When — if ever — should you assign something like that a score? And are you rating the game as a sum of its parts or does the experience of participating in its creation defy grading? Are we in an era where it’s more fun to help create a game than it is to play it and how do you report on that? This is a paragraph full of questions and it only leads me to ask even more questions.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and it’s why GameLuv has no official ‘review’ tag or category. When we started the site in 2006 it was the dawn of micro-blogging. People were out there posting and chatting more publicly than ever as they were playing games, not solely when they were finished with them. Even at that time it felt like there was more to games coverage than plowing through something as quickly as possible and sealing the book on it with a score.

As social media has expanded and the voice of the people moves from text into video it’s become even more pointless to pen a traditional review of a game. That said, they’re not going away anytime soon. They’re polarizing, blasphemous to some, justification to others and they generate plenty of pageviews. But these critical evaluations are becoming less relevant as games go on to evolve after the review has been written. Some sites are starting to toy with the idea of updated or revisited reviews but I don’t think it’s enough.

What I’ve tried to do at GameLuv is write a connected series of posts called “Now Playing” as I work through a game. A post after the first night, another recounting a particularly memorable moment or when a mechanic finally clicked. I’ve even gone back and rounded up all my disparate tweets and photos to compile a timeline of my experience. My work has been sloppy and unevenly paced but I think a frequent check-in with someone engaged in an “early access” game is the way to go. I get an overview of the game’s progress as well as insights into its community and if it’s ready for a less sociable player like myself. It could be a written diary post, a ten minute podcast discussion or a heavily edited video. Hell, it could be a combination of the three all wrapped up together under some new banner of content.

The challenge is that one person would be stuck with one or two games for weeks, months or maybe even years. You’ll have your correspondent on The Forest and your embedded Star Citizen or Minecraft journalist. Outlets are already chewing through writers, reviewers and editors at a record pace. Why not give them and the army of freelancers a regular (if meager) paycheck to do some long, meaningful coverage that isn’t just another written review? The social media populace is already providing that commentary for free and the current blog format is only going to be profitable for so long.