Arcade revival (in handheld form)

All hail the mobile gaming revolution. As the dwindling figures started occurring circa ‘92 for the local arcades due to the 16 bit era matching the performance of arcade quality games such as Street fighter 2 (ok near arcade quality). The gaming industry thought this was the end of the arcade business as we know it. Initially, during the period of 1994-2000 we experienced a lot of arcade ports onto consoles this was primarily driven by Capcom, Namco and Sega with games such as Tekken, Soul Calibur, Sega Rally and Final Fight to name a few. This was mainly due to a backlog of (over the last 10 years) arcade games that were easily transferrable for the console experience. This missed out on the key factors for me such as the price, accessibility, competitiveness and social element of arcade gaming. It didn’t feel quite the same. However, once the arcade scene was deemed not to be profitable outside of Japan a shift occurred for all developers and publishers to concentrate on console gaming. As we have observed it takes a lot of investment of time and money to produce a console game with longevity, great graphics and mass appeal. This marked the end of the so called ‘arcade experience’ as it could not compete with traditional gaming. Granted the introduction of the Xbox 360 back in 1996 introduced arcade games back into the fold. However, mostly these were games of yesteryear and were more of a novelty serving the already present gaming audience. Games such as Geometry Wars proved there was a market still for arcade games. Once the Iphone (and later Android) was introduced with throwaway priced games starting from ‘FREE’, back in 2008, we experienced smaller developers reigniting the arcade experience all over again. I would describe the arcade experience as being: • Accessible • Anyone can play • Chuckable games • Little investment needed in time and money • Gimmicky • Short games • One more go factor • Socialising with fellow arcaders • Competitiveness • Unique interface When you look at the above list you can see that this transfers over very well to mobile gaming. Games are cheap; require little investment time and for the most part little money as well. They have the social element buttoned down such as competing against friend’s high scores and sharing. Lastly, they are accessible due to the wide adoption of mobile smartphones. I can name a few games true to this formula such as Cut the rope, angry birds, Jenga, Doodle Jump, Bejewelled and Tiny wings. I enjoy console gaming but sometimes it is nice to know while sitting on the train or waiting for someone you can quickly fire up a quick game of Angry birds. Long live arcade gaming.

Game saves – save anywhere is the future

I trade in my old XBOX 360 for a new slim model ensuring that I have copied all of my game saves and content to an external drive.  Copy version seems ok with all game saves intact.  I copy the content and game saves to my new XBOX 360 slim.  I fire up Forza 3.  I look for my game save.  No game save available.  Dissapointment sets in…

I am not a happy bunny after spending around 15 hours Forza 3 prior to this and losing my game save is not on.  I will not be touching Forza 3 anytime soon.  A similar thing happened with my PS3 where I was unable to copy over my Uncharted 2 content.  Why do hardware manufacturers make it so difficult to retrieve your game saves?

This brings me to cloud gaming profiles.  Imagine a world where you play a game and the saved game is automatically uploaded as part of your profile.  Wherever you are you can access your game save and profile.  It is a simple idea and in this hi-tech day and age I am surprised it hasn’t been thought of already?

Granted we are not going to see Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo hold hands and share user profiles.  However, all three should be able to implement a cloud game save solution.  The amount of hours I have poured into various games over the years only to find that I can no longer revive my scores or game states.

We are stepping in the right direction with Apple and it’s Game Center where your game saves are backed up as part of the App to re-sync later.  However, this is locally via PC and your Iphone/Ipod Touch.  As gamers we need a better solution.  Please Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo listen!!!

Microsoft Natal = Kinect

So have seen some of the videos on IGN.com and computerandvideogames.com for the newly named Kinect. To be honest I am not that impressed.

So have seen some of the videos on IGN.com and computerandvideogames.com for the newly named Kinect.  To be honest I am not that impressed.

The videos show nothing new so far and looks like a blatant rip off of the Wii.  The Kinect sports game seems painful and tiresome to play.  I am no couch potato but I live above someone and I don’t think the stampeding of four players is a good idea when playing the hurdles event in Kinect sport.

The only thing the Kinect seems good for is using as a virtual remote by using hand gestures a la Minority report.  This seems like an expensive investment if you are using as a virtual remote and let’s be honest judging by the games so far that’s what it’ll end up being.

Good idea on paper but execution is poor, put in the list as the most costliest failure ever.  I have said all along that Sony have taken the right strategy with the PS Move and are showing games which will appeal to all audiences.  With regards to Nintendo Wii they can rest in peace.  It’s gonna take a lot to convince me.

Intro/logo screens really necessary??

I hate intro/logo screens.  Is it really necessary in today’s gaming?

There is nothing worse than loading up something like Fifa 10 and for the first few minutes of your game having to see all the logo screens.  Multiply this by the number of times you access the game it becomes a significant number.  Surely if someone wants to know who created the game they can go to the credits section?  Or even have logos placed on the menu screen as small icons/logos maybe similar to a web page?

I am sick and tired of seeing logos technology specific i.e. softdec, unreal engine, havok engine, dolby surround sound etc etc.  The list goes on and on.  Not forgetting the logo screens for the games’ publisher and developer.  The gaming industry really need to get the UI right as this is the first impressions of a game.  I think Nintendo have this more right than others.  I think the worst offence that can be committed is to have a intro movie right at the begininng which you cannot skip but that is another story.

The way I see it booting up straight to the menu page doesn’t seem like a huge deal now as most games require a compulsory install or require a straight install.  Previously games have had logo screens in order to hide the fact that the game was loading in the background.

What do you think add your comments below?

Mirror's Edge review

I love this game. Despite playing the majority of the story mode without realising that you can pick up weapons (not explained in game very well I thought but I’ll forgive them) :)

I love this game.  Despite playing the majority of the story mode without realising that you can pick up weapons (not explained in game very well I thought but I’ll forgive them) :)

Dice have come up trumps with the look and feel of this game.  Also, the sound created by Solar Fields is nothing short of stunning.  Both graphics and sound really pull the whole concept of running and jumping through the environments together by adding verve and agility to the pacing.

Some people will not get this game due to it crossing several barriers such as running and jumping through first person mode and secondly, the simplistic nature in its combat.  Which neither makes it a traditional first person shooter or say a platformer.

However, saying that I liked the fact this is trying to break new ground and for the most parts the combat, running and jumping works.  There are moments of slow down in pace which doesn’t sit comfortably with the running sections.  It is more fun running across and over buildings which gets your adrenaline pumping rather than the minimalist shooting sequences which can frustrate especially given your health bar.

The story mode lasted around the 8-10 hour mark for me and then you can take on the challenge mode.  It is a worthwhile game those looking for something different and willing to take the gamble.  I loved the art direction and for the most parts the environments and characters.

4/5

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood multiplayer

Details are starting to emerge on Assassin’s Creed brotherhood which will focus on multiplayer. Up to 8 players is supported with each taking on the role of an Assassin with the goal to kill each other in the stealthiest way possible.

Details are starting to emerge on Assassin’s Creed brotherhood which will focus on multiplayer.  Up to 8 players is supported with each taking on the role of an Assassin with the goal to kill each other in the stealthiest way possible.

It looks as though the same development team that created the multiplayer component of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow will be working on this.  It sounds intriguing…. after enjoying Assassin’s Creed 2 I am looking forward to this.

Assassin's Creed 2 review

This game is a mix between zelda/GTA/Prince of persia set in renaissance italy. There is a lot of variety in the gameplay. I haven’t played the first game yet which was accused of being slightly too linear without any variety in the gameplay.

This game is a mix between zelda/GTA/Prince of persia set in renaissance italy. There is a lot of variety in the gameplay. I haven’t played the first game yet which was accused of being slightly too linear without any variety in the gameplay.

The main story mode is the obvious draw to the game where you take control of the main character Ezio. Ezio moves with verve and agility allowing you to climb the highest towers with ease. You are constantly rewarded with upgraded armour which make the combat sequences that much easier to deal with. The missions have a lot of variety with some taking on the role of stealth assassin while others see you in a obstacle race scenario. I found the tomb sections really interesting where you are solving puzzles in a dungeon like map very much like Zelda. It’s great collecting treasures, paintings, glyphs and codex pages not to mention unravelling the story piece by piece.

The cities that you travel through are very much like gta but the single difference I feel is that the character movement and abilities given to you in this game adds more of a sense of freedom as you can climb up buildings as well as jumping across them to get to your desired location simile to prince of Persia but in a traditional gta city. Although a car would help sometimes. :)

I played the XBOX 360 version as it is supposed to be slightly graphically superior compared to the PS3 version but don’t let that dissuade you from great game.

The entire game lasts between 16-20 hours if you collect all the treasures and complete all the missions. Graphics and menu presentation is simply amazing and I wholeheartedly recommend this game to even the die hard Zelda or gta fans. A truly epic game.

5/5