Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Review: Okamiden

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Okamiden is a fitting tribute to the end of the much-beloved Nintendo DS. Arguably the system’s swan-song, the game is an example of what is possible near the end of a device’s lifecycle. Packed inside its cartridge is a sprawling adventure lasting more than twenty hours in a fully realized, beautifully cel-shaded, 3D world. The title is an apt Japanese pun combining the name Okami with the word “Gaiden” meaning side-story. While Okamiden works well as an addendum to the original tale of Amaterasu, make no mistake, it is a worthy sequel all its own. For being on a handheld, nothing about the game feels limited as the move to the DS has been kind to the series. It might not be as long as the original but there’s still plenty of depth with lots to explore in the land of Nippon.

The most striking feature of the game is its ability to maintain the soul of the series by faithfully duplicating its iconic art style, quirky sense of humor, and immeasurable charm. Set a mere nine months after the events of Okami, the child of Amaterasu, Chibiterasu, descends to Earth in order to rid the land of evil. It seems people have, once again, lost faith in the Gods so its up to Chibi along with several partners met along the way, to battle demons and restore peace to the world. While the story may take a few missteps, it is largely an enjoyable experience, driving players forward on the lengthy adventure. It’s filled with unforgettable characters both big and small and takes players on a journey through locales both familiar and strange.

In fact the first few hours may feel a bit too familiar, almost to the game’s detriment, retreading old ground and revisiting many of the same locations from the first Okami. Fans of the original might be overwhelmed by a nagging sense of déjà vu. However, Okamiden does manage to step out of the shadow of its predecessor and soon ventures forth into new territory.

When the first Okami hit the PS2 in 2006, it quickly became a cult classic, garnering a devout fan following but lackluster sales. In 2008, the game was given a second chance when it was ported to the Wii and the game’s brush mechanic was translated to the system’s remote control. However, Okamiden makes the best use of the drawing technique, pairing the DS’s touch screen with the Celestial Brush makes the series feel right at home on Nintendo’s handheld.

Many of the classic brush techniques return. At any time, Chibi can summon the powers of the Celestial Brush by clicking the L or R buttons and drawing on-screen. Cutting through an enemy or obstacle is as easy as drawing a horizontal slash. Cherry bombs can be placed by drawing a circle with a line for a fuse. The mechanic is far more responsive and much easier to pull off than its PS2 and Wii incarnations. However, with the DS comes a loss of analog controls as the system’s d-pad manages Chibi’s movement around the environment. It’s not ideal and, at first, feels downright clunky. Yet over time it’s easy to adapt and isn’t much of a problem. That being said it’s hard not to imagine how much better it would control on a 3DS with the circle pad.

In addition to drawing brush techniques, the touch screen is used to guide Chibi’s pals through various environments by creating a path for them to follow. It’s a nice addition regardless of being previously seen in other games. Yet despite encountering several partners along the way, they mostly come equipped with the same abilities including the guide mechanic. While some can direct water, others fire and lightning, it’s essentially the same thing and would have been nice to see a little more variety. Still, the characters themselves are a great ensemble and lend a layer of depth to the storytelling.

Of course, Chibiterasu and his cohorts run into their share of boss battles and Okamiden manages to create a few memorable encounters thanks to some clever and imaginative enemy design. The boss fights use the various brush techniques to their strengths, sometimes forcing players to juggle between several abilities. However, some of the ordinary combat can feel repetitive.

The game follows the same fighting design as the original, pitting players in self-contained arenas with a number of lesser enemies. Rather than being rewarded with experience points like most RPGs, battles offer money which can be traded in for weapon upgrades, items, and learning new brush techniques. It’s a solid system and works well though it can be exploited from time to time. Many enemies can be bested by repeatedly using the Slash technique, spamming the L or R button without giving them a chance to recover. It’s when the game throws in enemies which are immune to some moves that the combat offers a challenge.

Okamiden is a testament to the quality of games which greet the end of a console. It’s a tribute to the system’s strengths, pushing as much power as possible from the little portable. Throughout the game, it’s easy to feel a sense of awe at what the developers were able to accomplish on Nintendo’s handheld. The story is not perfect, even feeling artificially prolonged as it meanders a bit during the third act and old tropes of Eastern game design such as revisiting all the previous bosses rear their ugly head. But it’s easy to overlook such shortcomings when the experience is filled with charming characters and an engaging narrative wrapped around solid game mechanics and the wonderful Ukiyo-e inspired art.

Nintendo Enters The 3rd Dimension on March 27

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

This morning, Nintendo of America rallied the gaming faithful in New York City to detail the North American launch of the Nintendo 3DS. Japanese gamers have already known the nitty-gritty for quite some time so Nintendo dished on the final pricing, launch date, features, and previewed some of the upcoming games for the next generation handheld.

President for Nintendo of America, Regis Fils-Aime took the stage and explained that, to Nintendo, the 3DS represents more than just a gaming machine.

“There are three immediate payoffs to 3D and the first is games. While Nintendo is recognized first as a video games company, we see ourselves as part of the entertainment industry. That’s because second, it can do 3D video playback. Third, it can do 3D photography and offer 3D display of those pictures.”

The Nintendo 3DS will first be available in two colors: Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black. These are the same colors being launched in other territories like Japan. Looks like Nintendo isn’t going to offer much variety on these things. Looking forward to my Contempo White 3DS Lite in 2013!

With the system comes the same goodies as the Japanese 3DS including the charging cradle and 2GB SD card which can be upgraded.

Atop the 3DS, new color-changing notification lights give vital data without having to open up the system. A green light indicates friends with other 3DS devices are close by and communicating with Street Pass, blue is for wifi activation, orange means friends are playing online, and red means the battery is running low.

The Street Pass feature is a lot like Bark mode from Nintendogs. Setting the 3DS into Street Pass mode will allow it to transmit data to nearby handhelds even if your device is asleep.

Nintendo profiled a number of upcoming games stating that, between the time they launch and mid-June, they expect to have more than 30 titles available for the system. A mix of first and third party support, the upcoming games include:

  • Pilotwings Resort – Takes places on Wuhu Island, the same location as Wii Fit, Wii Sports Resort.
  • Nintendogs + Cats – Your pets just got a whole lot fluffier and even more adorable (and you thought it couldn’t be done!) A very neat feature is the animals’ ability to recognize its owner via the 3DS camera.
  • Steel Diver – A submarine game that apparently Nintendo has been making since the Little Ice Age.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising – The NES cult classic finally gets a sequel as you control pit in the skies along with some pretty intense-looking ground combat. Team Sora (the minds behind Smash Bros.) involvement makes this a huge blip on our radar.
  • Ocarina of Time 3D – The Nintendo 64 classic is getting a 3D makeover.
  • Dead or Alive: Dimensions – A fighting game with added depth. DoA director Yosuke Koyashi says thanks to the 3D effect, “You’ll feel like the Nintendo 3DS screen is a lot bigger than it really is.”
  • PES 2011 & Madden – EA Sports is bringing its biggest sports titles to the 3DS and promise they will come with all the bells and whistles of their home console counterparts but with the added benefits of the 3DS.
  • Street Fighter IV 3D Edition – The modern fighting classic is being given the 3DS treatment with some added features including Street Pass functionality which will allow you to fight against enmities while your handheld is asleep.

Everything from “sports, action, shooter, fighter, family, racing, and RPG,” Fils-Aime said as he returned to the stage to dish the dirt on included software, launch, and pricing.

From the 3DS Home menu, players can launch Mii-Maker. Just like the Wii’s Mii Channel, players can craft their own cartoon avatars. With the 3DS cameras, players can snap a photo of themselves and Mii-Maker will construct a Mii based on that data.

An Activity Log works with the 3DS’s gyroscope acting as a pedometer to allow players to track their daily fitness routine including steps taken, etc. Walking more earns virtual coins which can be traded in for in-game bonuses.

Augmented Reality Games work with a series of specially designed cards, allowing the 3DS cameras to read them and overlay gameplay on top of the camera’s video feed.

An enhanced internet browser is also in the mix along with a revamped version of the Nintendo Shopping Channel which will sell Game Boy & Gameboy Color as well as new games.

Perhaps some of the best news to come out of this event was the word on Friend Codes. Everybody hates them but Nintendo looks like they’re finally going to get it right. Well, partially. There’s a new Friend Code system which requires one code per 3DS instead of individual codes per game. Register your code once and you’re done. Friends with a 3DS connected to the same wifi connection will be added automatically, no typing required. Well done, Nintendo.

The Nintendo 3DS will be available in North America on March 27, 2011 at a suggested retail price of $249.99

Well that was a doozy. If you’ll excuse us, we’ll be going back to bed. In fact, maybe Cartman had the right idea. Is it possible to be frozen for the next two months? The wait might just be too unbearable.

Review: Shibuya

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Shibuya is the first iOS game from Never Center, the developers behind the App Store entry, CameraBag. The team is no stranger to the platform, which explains the fact that their first foray into mobile gaming is so well-suited to the strengths of the iPhone. Shibuya is a color-matching tile puzzle game. The idea will be familiar to anybody who has played Tetris, Lumines, or Meteos but Shibuya introduces some twists to that style of gameplay which will have even the most seasoned puzzle gamers scratching their heads.

Tiles of various colors will fall from the top of the screen in random order. Players must match up two or more colors in order to clear them away. By tapping on a tile, players can choose the order in which the blocks fall to the bottom. This allows for not only some serious combo opportunities, it soon twists your mind as you frantically race to tap colors into place. Players must think ahead, planning out the order of the colors while the music plays and the timer slowly clicks.

Shibuya can seem a little daunting your first play-through but don’t worry. While you get used to the idea of strategizing your tile order, the game makes things as easy as possible, generously offering a Slow mode to help get you started. Players will quickly master the easier settings, grasping the key concepts, as the game’s addictive qualities make their way into your subconscious.

The game is made up of two modes; Quickplay for two-minute rounds on-the-go and Endless where players see just how long they can last. In-game achievements with OpenFeint integration will keep the most-dedicated players testing their limits for a long time. Personally, I would have liked to see the game support the newly released GameCenter system but Never Center tells me they’re currently looking into it.

Shibuya’s great mechanics are reenforced by a charming, though sometimes sparse, art style and incredible soundtrack. Inspired by the Shibuya district in Tokyo, the game’s visual design mimics the neon lights, bright colors, verticality, and overall kinetic atmosphere of the neighborhood. After playing the game for so long, I did tire of seeing the same static background, wishing there were at least some options to mix up the look but the game’s edited approach to design keeps what really matters, the puzzling itself, front and center. It’s a testament to the design of Shibuya that it’s actually able to convey a sense of time and place in a small puzzle game. The licensed music from Millionyoung is not only a joy to listen to but really helps set the overall tone of the experience. The app thankfully provides a direct link to purchase the music direct from the iTunes Music Store, I highly suggest giving it a listen.

I would have liked to see more game modes and options, whether it’s a mode in which players must clear out a few blocks already placed at the bottom before moving on, or otherwise. In addition, as much as I love the soundtrack, I eventually wished I could play music from my iTunes library. After all, there are only five licensed tracks and the most addicted Shibuya players are likely to hear them many times. However, these are minor issues that come only from spending several hours with the game and, well, it’s tough to fault a developer for making a game I can’t stop playing.

As it stands, Shibuya is a touch-controlled narcotic with a beautiful art style, amazing soundtrack, and clever puzzle mechanic. I’m hesitant to bring up the issue of pricing because iPhone owners should simply try it regardless. However, at $1.99 it’s downright inexcusable not to get it considering how many hours I’ve spent in Shibuya knowing I’ve paid more for Vitamin Water. Put your headphones on, crack your knuckles, and enjoy.

Buy Shibuya here

Review: Mirror’s Edge (iPhone)

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

There’s no denying I was a huge fan of the original Mirror’s Edge when it debuted for the PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2008. The game represented a substantial leap forward in game design through the first-person perspective. Exploring the dystopian city through the eyes of Faith was breathtaking and the acrobatic parkour, while tricky at times, was incredibly rewarding.

Faith is a Runner, a courier of the future, relaying secret messages under the watchful eye of the government. Runners must leap, slide, and roll across the rooftops of the city, avoiding security forces.

While the first game was innovative, it was not without its flaws; most notably the combat and show-stopping bouts of trial and error. Mirror’s Edge for the iPhone tries to remedy some of the problems by shifting the action to a 2-D side-scrolling perspective, avoiding much of the complexity. Despite being a more bite-sized experience than its console predecessor, Mirror’s Edge manages to retain the overall essence of the franchise while bringing its own unique twist to the core mechanics.

The controls have been replaced by a much simpler series of touch-based gestures. Faith’s forward movement is set by a swipe either to the left or the right, swipe up to jump, swipe down to slide, and mid-air swipes will enable context-sensitive actions such as wall jumps or rolling for soft landings. It’s a good system which works almost all of the time. I had trouble getting Faith to stand up after a slide which usually screwed up my momentum.

The game draws several comparisons to Canabalt, another iPhone favorite, racing players along rooftops, gaining speed as they successfully overcome obstacles. Mirror’s Edge adds a layer of depth to the experience equipping Faith with her trademark abilities.

The production values are incredibly high and really take advantage of the iOS devices. The original art style is vibrant and remains intact as the city flies by without a hint of stuttering. Faith’s model can look a tad strange but EA has delivered a great-looking game which really pops on the new Retina Display. There’s smart, limited use of motion controls that are almost entirely optional. I would have enjoyed a little bit of voice work, especially for Faith, but considering this is on a mobile device I suppose it can’t be helped. However, developers looking to push for such a cinematic experience should remember all parts of the equation, including a voice for the main character if only in small doses. That being said, the soundtrack is spectacular. A remix of the theme “Still Alive” is the highlight of the game’s musical offering while the ability to play your own library is a welcomed addition. The game is extremely rhythmic. Players soon get into a groove, swiping against the beat of the music, sending Faith higher and higher.

The weakest moments come when Faith is constrained to an indoor environment. Without the city buzzing by in the background, the sense of speed gets lost and the indoor levels tend to include some of the more frustrating moments. It’s easy to get tripped up by the armed guards and making mistakes is costly as they riddle Faith with bullets while she has very limited means of defending herself. There are some takedown moves at her disposal and these work well, for the most part, but they occasionally let me down when I needed them most. Thankfully, a generous checkpoint system keeps these issues to a minimum.

The game is rather short, an initial play-through can be done in less than an hour. But the brevity is mostly understandable considering how fast you’re going through these levels. Faith runs at break-neck speed across the cityscape. In addition, the hidden courier bags and speed-run challenges will keep dedicated players coming back for more, ensuring more bang for your buck. Fans of the original who fear all of the intricacies have been taken out should take note there is still plenty of fun to be had for even the most seasoned Runners out there.

Some may be thrown by Mirror’s Edge and its $4.99 price tag but I look at it as if I were going out for something to eat. Sure, you can get something at McDonald’s for 99 cents but sometimes its worth going elsewhere and splurging on that $10 burger knowing a little more care went into making it. Mirror’s Edge uses the iPhone platform to its strengths. The visuals are gorgeous on the new Retina Display, the soundtrack is incredible, the touch controls work well, and the use of motion is not over-done. It might not be priced at the usual impulse snack-sized level iOS gamers have come to expect but it’s certainly a welcomed addition to the App Store and a must-have for anybody looking to show off what the iPhone can do.

Buy the game now on iTunes: Mirror’s Edge

OnLive: Early Impressions

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into OnLive’s promotional one free year of service courtesy of AT&T. While the service will remain free for a year, renewing at $4.95 a month thereafter, game purchases and rentals are still going to cost me. For those unaware of OnLive and what it does, allow me to explain.

OnLive is a cloud-based gaming service that seeks to bring gaming to almost any machine connected to the internet. For the past year or so, OnLive founder Steve Perlman has been making the rounds, giving demos of the service, showing games running on hardware ranging from PCs to Macs and even iPhones. The way OnLive works is, essentially, the games are running on hardware off at a server somewhere. Users sign in to OnLive on their home computer and, when they choose to “run” the game, they’re actually running it off the server’s computer. Their inputs are sent to the server, the action is done in the game, and the result is pushed back to the user, all in a fraction of a second. If all goes according to plan, the customer is unaware of the exchange and the game appears to be playing on their computer. In reality, their home computer isn’t doing anything beyond tapping into a video feed. This allows computers such as my 2007 Macbook to play games like Borderlands, Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell Conviction, and Just Cause 2.
The biggest stumbling block for OnLive, leading up to launch, has been the doubt cast over the service. Many have wondered if it would actually be able to deliver on the promise of cloud-based gaming. Without sounding too much like a commercial for OnLive, I have to say that in my time, thus far with the service, it’s worked better than expected.

Let’s get a few things out of the way. Will OnLive replace traditional PC gaming for hardcore PC gamers? No. If you have the hardware that can handle these games, there are few reasons to spend the monthly subscription fee just to gain access to games you can already run. Is OnLive for people who love having a physical copy of the game? If you absolutely must have the game’s box on your shelf, lined up with all the others, then move along. This is purely cloud-based and anyone leery of owning a game for as long as they subscribe to the service need not apply. For someone like me, an avid gamer, who has often lamented my Mac’s gaming Achilles heel, the service is a no-brainer. My first reaction after installing the application was “Oh my God, it works!”

After a year of naysayers, decrying OnLive to be too far ahead of its time, I was pleasantly surprised to see Borderlands, running on my old Macbook. The specs of my Macbook run down like this:

While it’s more than adequate for running my day-to-day chores, my Macbook has always been a writing laptop first and a gaming laptop a far distant second. Valve’s recent embrace of the Mac lead to some heartbreak as, time and time again, I found my Mac unable to run games like Portal. With OnLive it looks like things are finally about to change. Anyone who knows about computer hardware will see that integrated-graphics processor as a real stumbling block when it comes to gaming. Without something a little beefier, this Macbook isn’t going to get very far.  That’s why it was such a treat to see games like Dirt 2 running and my computer’s fans hadn’t even come on.

Like any relationship, things aren’t always perfect. Currently, OnLive requires a hard-wired connection to the internet which means no wi-fi. At first, I thought I could just log-in, see what games were on offer, and deal with any lag caused by my wireless. That’s a no-go. OnLive won’t even start until you’re tethered directly to your router. As someone who lives wirelessly 99.9% of the time, I know I’ll be less inclined to relocate my whole computer set-up just to play. But I realize I could easily be in a very small minority when it comes to this. For most people, this will be a non-issue. But it’s worth noting in case some users are truly unable to access a hard-wired connection. OnLive asserts its “technology does indeed work well with good quality Wi-Fi connections” but doesn’t plan on releasing that functionality “once OnLive is better established”.

Since it was first announced, people have worried that latency would be an issue. Latency, or lag, is a constancy concern for any online gaming experience. Latency occurs when there is a spans of time between the player’s input such as firing a weapon and the results occurring in the game. In an online match, for example, lag could be the difference between life or death. OnLive has built servers around the country to cut down on the distance between your machine and its servers. The shorter the distance and the stronger your internet connection, the better it gets. In fact, unlike most discussions of PC gaming, OnLive is less about your computer’s hardware strength than it is the strength of your connection to the internet. In my time, I have yet to experience any extreme latency issues. My inputs have been mirrored in the game world faithfully. While playing Borderlands, for example, I have tested the time it’s taken for my to left-click to fire my weapon and the time my gun actually fired bullets. The time was nearly indistinguishable. I say nearly because while OnLive’s servers are doing an incredible job of translating and moving all this data, it’s merely a nanosecond behind what you would expect if playing the game directly from the disc. However, for me it quickly fell into the realm beyond “good enough” and I easily adjusted and forgot all about how the game was getting to me and just played.

The selection in the Marketplace is somewhat limited at the moment but OnLive promises more is on the way. I was annoyed to see Mass Effect 2 is only available to OnLive users connecting through a PC. I’m unsure who was behind this but the beauty of OnLive is that it is hardware agnostic yet even in the remote reaches of the cloud, the school-yard fight between Apple and Microsoft persists. It’s a shame. I’m also hoping the pricing sees some more restructuring. Players can purchase a three-day or five-day rental of some titles for $3.99 or $8.99 respectively. But not all games are available for rental. I wish there was more consistency in the pricing and availability. Full price purchases are often at the standard MSRP of $59.99. Hopefully, OnLive takes a cue from Valve and embraces the wonders of Steam Sales. The advantage of online gaming over brick and mortar retail will always be its ability to drop prices as it does not need to deal with overheads, shelf space, etc.

Other features such as the Arena which allows users to drop in and spectate on other player’s games are a fun distraction and seem more like a crowd-pleaser to show off an “ooh and ahh” factor of the service. OnLive is going to continue rolling out across the United States. The service is, at the moment, only offered in America but Perlman has expressed an interest to expand to other countries. Expect more impressions as my time with OnLive continues.

Review: Picross 3D

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Nintendo has a knack for creating simple yet absolutely addictive puzzle games. The original Picross on the DS was a clever play on Sudoku-style grid puzzling, with the added twist of pictures being produced by eliminating squares. Removing squares on the grid is based on a logical elimination based on numbers marking the rows and columns. For example, if a row of 5 squares has a number 5 attached to the end, then all 5 are safe and nothing is taken out. If the row were marked with a 3 then, naturally, 3 squares would remain and 2 must be eliminated. Finding out which squares, however, is the tricky part. The game continually adds levels of complexity, being sure not to overwhelm but still give players a challenge. Nintendo has taken things one step and one dimension further with Picross 3D.

No longer on a 2-D plane, the puzzles now have the added challenge of depth as players will chip away at a block of cubes, following the same rules of logic, to create little figures. It might sound confusing but thanks to a hefty tutorial the game is accessible and once you get sucked in there’s no going back. The game is more difficult than the original Picross in that some players may have a hard time wrapping their heads around the more third-dimension-centric aspects of the gameplay. The game lends a hand by providing sliders in order to cut into the objects in order to get a handle on the cubes. However, this proved to be one of the more difficult mechanics of the game to understand. By following the clues, being sure not to eliminate the wrong blocks, and completing puzzles, players are rewarded by a robot, dog, magnifying glass, and all manner of everyday objects. Speaking of puzzles, Picross 3D offers more than 300 and at $19.99 it’s easy to recommend the game as a great value that’s sure to occupy a lot of time.

The art style has taken a bizarre, pastel-focused turn that looks a bit cheap and juvenile. But, with gameplay mechanics as good as this, the game could have been in black and white and I really wouldn’t have cared. (In fact, Mario Picross came out on the Gameboy in black and white and it was just as much fun.) Customizable background images and music make the aesthetics a tad more tolerable but it’s worth mentioning Nintendo didn’t have to make the game look like a budget title.

The sliders that let you cut-into the blocks and examine the inside of the figures was a constant source of annoyance during the more difficult puzzles. Nintendo was smart enough to make players hold a button to chip away at a cube or mark it as safe. However, no such attention was paid to the sliders which often activated as I was trying to rotate the object rather than cut into it. I wish I could have held a button to activate it as I did with other elements.

I mentioned before that Picross 3D has a lengthy tutorial. It holds your hand perhaps a bit longer than it should. I appreciate the steady pace but it would have been nice to have the ability to skip ahead to more difficult levels. As it is, players have to progress through more than 100 Easy difficulty puzzles before getting a chance to take a crack at the Medium and Hard tiers.

Despite any minor problems I had with the game from an art-style or progression standpoint, these issues pale in comparison to the truly addictive nature of Picross 3D. The game is fun and has the uncanny ability to make you travel through time, unaware of how many hours are passing, as you keep tapping and saying “just one more.”

Image courtesy of Joystiq

SpikeTV Video Game Awards 2009

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

It’s that time of the year again – SpikeTV host’s their annual Video Game Awards ceremony show, full of lots of hot chicks, funny washed-up actors, and of course, video games! This years show was nothing but spectacular (at least for us video game enthusiasts), and it was definitely worth the watch. This time we were graced by tons of celebrities, including but not limited to: Marissa Miller, Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, and of course many others. The VGA show by SpikeTV seems to be gaining increasing popularity with each year as it is due by its fine production and collaboration of many.

As a proprietary division of MTV Networks, the 2009 Video Game Awards were estimated to be viewed by almost 100 million people, in over 175 countries. MTV’s decision to let SpikeTV brand the show over the years was a notable move. Not only does it bring notoriety to SpikeTV, it also helps emphasize the target market of both brawny and geeky gamers alike. Interestingly enough, the VGA show does not only pay tribute to video games, but also artistic performances and developments, new technologies, and even the music that help shape the video games we play today.

As the years progress, more actors have been willing and able to lend their off-screen talents to the creation of video games. Most notable was Hugh Jackman who won the award for the best performance by a human male for his role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition. Furthermore, presenter Zachary Quinto, who most of us know as the new Spock in Star Trek has announced that he will lend his vocal skills to the creation of the next Star Trek game. In retrospect, this can only help an actor’s career, and even more so help solidify their lifetime roles as characters like Wolverine and Spock accordingly.

In conclusion, MTV Networks and SpikeTV have done an outstanding job during this years performance. This will help ensure viewership for the years to come. Video games have begun to be intertwined with the movie and music entertainment industry, further solidifying its role for the years to come. As a cliffhanger, we are always left with video game previews for the 2010 year. Several of these games will surely make their way to the top over the course of the next year, and we are sure to see them again during SpikeTV Video Game Awards for the year 2010.

SpikeTV’s VGA: Halo Reach Trailer

2009 SpikeTV Video Game Award Winners

Game of the Year – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Studio of the Year – Rocksteady Studios

Best Independent Game – Flower

Best Xbox360 Game – Left 4 Dead 2

Best PS3 Game – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Best Wii Game – Super Mario Bros. Wii

Best PC Game – Dragon Age: Origins

Best Handheld Game – Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Best Shooter – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Best Fighting Game – Street Fighter IV

Best Action Adventure Game – Assassin’s Creed II

Best RPG – Dragon Age: Origins

Best Multi-Player Game - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Best Individial Sports Game – UFC 2009 Undisputed

Best Team Sports Game – NHL ’10

Best Driving Game – Forza Motorsport 3

Best Music Game – The Beatles Rock Band

Best Soundtrack – DJ Hero

Best Original Score – Halo 3: ODST

Best Graphics – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Best Game Based on a Movie/TV Show – South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play

Best Performance by a Human Female – Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes

Best Performance by a Human Male – Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Best Cast – X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition

Best Voice – Jack Black as Eddie Riggs

Best Downloadable Game – Shadow Complex

Best Downloadble Content (DLC) – Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Most Anticipated Game – God of War III


Review: Sony PSP Go

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The PSP Go has finally arrived. The much awaited and anticipated installment in the lineage of the best selling portable gaming devices is not complete gold. And we are here to tell you why.

First of all, we don’t mean to completely knock the newly designed PSP Go. There were definitely a few features that excited us, while others we were a bit disappointed about. First of all, with PSP Bundle Packs at $199, we are  a bit disappointed to see the PSP Go retail at $249. We understand that Sony is probably trying to push as many units out as high a price as possible, and then possible offer a price drop several months (Christmas?) down the road.


On a more positive note, the PSP Go has some pretty nice curves to it, and the sleek black design, as always, is very appealing to the eye. However this unit does measure a bit smaller than the traditional PSP models, with a .5″ smaller screen (from 4.3″ to 3.8″). The screen shrinkage kind of threw us off, as the original PSP Slim isn’t that large to begin with. Another big plus was the inclusion of a 16GB Memory Card which will definitely come in hand for downloading music, movies and playing games. The extra memory will be well needed, since the newly designed PSP Go does not use UMD discs! This was a heavy disappointment to us, as what are we suppose to do with our vast collection of UMD movies and games? Everything will now be downloaded via Sony’s online services. In any event, we see this as the future of video gaming. Eventually, all games may be downloaded via the Internet and there will no need to purchase discs anymore. But c’mon Sony, at least give us the option pre-2020! And oh yea, watch-out GameStop, don’t pull a Starbucks.


Another annoying thing we found on this new console was the placement of the buttons. We found the PSP Slim pretty apt for gaming, and by making the system even smaller, and moving the buttons to be even more centrally located, this doesn’t work out great for our brawny, manly hands. Nonetheless, there were other small additions such as bluetooth capabilities, a nicer TFT screen, and a 43% reduction in weight. Maybe we will even be able to tether our phones to our PSP Go via bluetooth? Sony – will this hold the future for the PSP Phone?

All in all, we truly hoped for a bit more, and the PSP Go is more like a PSP Slim+ although it is physically smaller. We hope that Sony will have a few better additions for the launch of the PSP2.  All the current features, plus re-adding UMD discs, a mobile phone, better controls, maybe even a second analog stick, and better placement of buttons, could ultimately lead to the PSP2 becoming the clear industry leader.

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