Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Packing up and moving along

Though I just got started at this URL, I've made the decision to move to a different one, though the change will, if anything, be easier for those of you who already have this site memorized. The new URL drops the .blogspot portion, and is simply http://chibigamer.com

I hope to see you there, and if anyone else follows an old link, make sure to take that extra clicking step towards our new home :-)

Well, that was a surprise...

Things I didn't expect to see in my inbox when I checked my e-mail a few minutes ago:
Thanks for being a loyal PlayStation Underground member.
Because of your dedication and enthusiasm, we're inviting you to
be part of the very select group to beta test LittleBigPlanet.
I'm downloading the beta as we speak, and will of course give this game a whirl very soon. It's one of the entries on my as of now unpublished list of "Most Anticipated" Playstation 3 games for this fall and winter. My girlfriend may be more excited for this game than I am, which is saying something, so she'll have a neat surprise when she wakes up in the morning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Wii Shop Goodies 10/6/08

Today's update to the Wii Shop is another entry into what has become a great stretch of weeks for the downloadable game service. For those of you who dig strategy RPGs, Shining Force II has made its way to U.S. shores. IGN makes a list of their Top 100 games of all-time annually, and in last year's edition, Shining Force II was ranked #48. I'll admit I'm not as big of a fan of the Shining Force series as I am of something like say, Fire Emblem, but the first one was a quality game that I enjoyed when it was released on the Virtual Console, so I'll be giving this a spin maybe as soon as today. Plus, it was made by Sonic Software Planning, who is now known as Camelot Software Planning, and Camelot rules. That's not the only Camelot release up for grabs this week though, as Nintendo also released Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64.

On the WiiWare side of things, we've got Midnight Bowling for 800 Wii Points and MadStone by Riverman Media, a falling blocks puzzle game. Most puzzle games with competitive two-player modes end up as a big hit in my apartment, though I eventually lose to my more puzzle-centric lady friend. Chances are good I'll download Shining Force II, and possibly MadStone, after I take a closer look at the mechanics of the puzzle. Here's a look at the trailer, for those inclined to check it out:

Looks pretty frantic, eh? If you download it and enjoy it, know that Riverman has another WiiWare game in the works, though an announcement is forthcoming on that.

For those of you who are enjoying Mega Man 9 on your Wii, the Proto Man DLC pack is also set to be available today. Some cry foul over the $2 increase in price tag for something that could have been (A) unlocked or (B) included in the original, but I say it's $2 on a $10 game. I waste more than $2 on games that aren't half as good as this more often than I should.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Most Anticipated Wii Games 2008

It's time to take a look at the games still coming out in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii that I'm most excited about. This list is on the short end relative to the other systems I own--excepting the slowly dying Playstation 2 of course--but there's two reasons for that I can think of. First of all, I decided to do this list after I had already purchased both de Blob and Wario Land: Shake It!, which were released just a short time ago, cutting two possible entries out of this post. Secondly, Nintendo seems to be gearing all of their efforts towards making 2009 the best year in the console's lifespan yet, with a slew of first-party releases and third-party goodies on slotted in for then. We got a glimpse of many of these titles thanks to Nintendo's Japanese and North American press conferences last week, with titles like Sin and Punishment 2, a sequel to Punch-Out!!, The Conduit, MadWorld, and loads of other titles. With that out of the way, let's take a list at the games I'll be rushing out to get upon their release, in order of how fanboyish I'll feel when I bring them to the counter:

  • Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars. This titles comes to us via publisher Gamecock Media Group, and was developed by Red Fly Studio. It's a 3D platformer, but instead of taking the cutesy, cartoony animal look adopted by so many since Super Mario 64 came out 12 years ago, Red Fly instead made a living, breathing Mushroom Man--one that somehow knows martial arts--and put him into a dark, dirty looking environment that just oozes with atmosphere. For example, these environments are accompanied by original music composed by none other than Les Claypool, the frontman of Primus. If you don't know much about Les Claypool, all you need to know is that he's arguably the most talented bassist in music, and that his music has always had a weird vibe and sound to it that is appropriate for an offbeat video game. There's literally no one better I can think of to have developed the music for a title looking to achieve what this game is, and the announcement grabbed my attention. As someone who is big on the belief that music can help your enjoyment of a title considerably, I'll be looking to grab this one to see if the gameplay merits the presentation they've wrapped this package in. Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars ships on November 11.
  • Deadly Creatures: Sometimes all it takes to grab people's attention is a concept. To my knowledge, no one has attempted a game where you play as a regular scorpion or spider in the real world, and with the trailers they have released for this THQ published effort, you have to wonder why not. Brutal is the word that best describes the battles you are supposed to be able to fight in this game by Rainbow Studios, as you take on the role of the aforementioned crawlers in their own world, taking on opposing creatures in a battle of the food chain. Though some of the early gameplay footage released looked a bit sketchy--somewhat due to game testers who had no idea what they were doing, as evidenced by IGN.com game testers making the game look exponentionally more polished and fun on their go-around--I'm holding out hope that this title does what it set out to do, which is to release a dark and original game with an addictive battle system. Deadly Creatures is one of the last Wii releases of 2008, shipping December 22.
  • Dokapon Kingdom: It's an RPG and a board game, at the same time, and it's goal is to make you forget about the blandness of Mario Party 8. It's no surprise that Atlus would publish a quirky title such as this one, and it looks like it could be fun enough to wash the taste of Baroque out of the mouths of those still reeling from the last Sting/Atlus work. Much like Mario Party, it takes place on a board, but the board is also supposed to be more open, meaning you can move about in different directions. Rather than just sharing a space with another player when you both land on it, you battle in rock-paper-scissors style. Dokapon Kingdom is also your best chance at watching one friend punch another in the face, as you are allowed to humiliate a competitor after defeating him by changing his name, dressing them up in different outfits or framing them for robbery in order to change their status to "Wanted". Unlike the Mario Party series, this seems like a fresh take on a console board game, and I'm excited to pick it up and give it a shot with friends. Dokapon Kingdom releases very soon, with a ship date of October 14 for both Wii and Playstation 2.
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk. If you've played Animal Crossing in the past, and you didn't enjoy it, you may just want to skip over this section and the game. For those of you have yet to tire of being Tom Nook's indentured servant, this edition of the game will feature some nifty add ons that should make the experience feel more whole. For example, much like more recent versions of The Sims, there is a central hub for online play where you can meet up with friends and use WiiSpeak, a new voice chat tech from Nintendo, to interact with them. There's also the ability to dress up as your Mii while in this hub, in order to make life less confusing for all of those similarly looking Animal Crossing folk. This game wil also feature keyboard support, which means I won't tire of the game when I have to start sending out copious amounts of letters before all of my fellow citizens tire of my lack of politeness. That keyboard is also useful in the city, as you can text chat with others there if you prefer that to using WiiSpeak. If you own the DS version, there are also some features you can utilize, such as transferring your character from one game to the other via Wi-Fi. As someone who says that an Animal Crossing MMO may be the only one he could get addicted to, I'm excited to delve into the world of cutesy, talking critters once again, even if the game is missing a graphical overhaul.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. This is a direct sequel to one of my favorite RPGs ever, and though they have changed the gameplay somewhat--the world map is now a set of locations, like the Baten Kaitos series or Super Mario RPG, rather than a free-roaming map to explore, like in the past--I'm as stoked as can be to get my hands on it. With the amount of backtracking that occurs in the Tales games though, I'm surprisingly fine with the move, and some of the other changes are also for the better as well. Namco-Tales Studios has incorporated the free run style of battle that has been in use since Tales of the Abyss in 2006, and they have also developed a monster-catching system, one that allows you to capture enemy monsters and put them to work on your own team of fighters. This should add an interesting mechanic to a battle system that is usually fun and addicting even without that sort of thing. Though it won't be as much of a looker as the recently released Tales of Vesperia, it's going to be a pretty Tales game. Let's hope the story and environments are at the same level as previous installments, so that the desire to replay the game upon completion is there.
There you have it. There are also a few games that lack a date, but are slated to be released in 2008. Dead Rising: Chop til you Drop is a port of the original XBox 360 game, but with fewer zombies and obviously, a graphical downgrade. With the game now utilizing the Resident Evil 4 control scheme though, the tradeoff may be worth it as long as there are still plenty of baddies to beat up with random objects. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers is a game I know nothing about, because as always, Square-Enix is being tight-lipped about a project that may not see the light of day for months and months. I did enjoy previous installments in the series though, especially the GameCube one, so if this is anything like that, I'll be happy to purchase it. Last, we have Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the latest entry in the survival horror series, this time directed by Goichi Suda of Suda 51 and Killer 7/No More Heroes fame. Combining his art styles with what is already an epic survival horror franchise is a recipe for fantastic gameplay, and I'm hoping to see that game sooner than later. If any of these titles slip into 2009 though, that's just going to make an already promising year even better.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Odds and Ends for the Weekend

I have to work both today and tomorrow, so there may not be any posts of epic length this weekend. I plan on starting up those lists of favorite games as early as Monday though, and I also plan on putting together a list of games I can't wait to get my hands on from this fall and winter. For now, here's some bits of what I've been thinking about:
  • I picked up the Bluetongue developed and THQ published de Blob for Wii on the day it came out, and I managed to finish up yesterday morning before work. Anyone on the fence about whether or not they need to pick up this game should stop thinking and get to purchasing, as it's some of the best fun I've had on Wii during the almost two years I've owned one. That isn't to say that I haven't found many quality games for the system--I'm one of those people who argues that those who complain about the lack of games haven't been looking hard enough--but it still manages to shine through as one of the top efforts on the system. I'll have a full review of the game up at Blast Magazine later this month, but I can tell you in advance that it's going to be a positive one.
  • My Gamefly Queue is full of a few games I missed during the last generation as well as a few newer titles that I hoped to get my hands on, but with Lock's Quest failing to be listed as anything but in "Low" quantities since it's come out, I caved and picked up the game on my way to work yesterday. This game is another THQ effort--that's two games in a row, and off the top of my head I can think of just a pair of THQ games I own other than those two--and it's still early, but I think I'm going to be pleased I bought rather than rented this one. It's a tower defense game in an isometric view that utilizes build-time in between waves of enemy attacks; it's also neat that your builder can learn combos and repair your defenses on the fly, and it gives the game a neat spin to work with. I'll be playing this on the subway, but given the game came out during the beginning of last month, I probably won't bother to review it anywhere, especially with the slew of new titles coming out in the near future.
  • It's going to be a few weeks before I pick up any other new releases for my consoles, as Dokapon Kingdom, a multi-player party board game RPG from Atlus (I know, my head is spinning too) is coming out in the middle of the month, and the heavy-hitting combination of LittleBigPlanet, Eternal Sonata and BioShock are not coming to PS3 until the 21st. I haven't decided how much of a rush I am in to play BioShock yet; I know I'm going to love it when I play it, but I'm in the mood for cute and/or JRPGs right now, and that fits under neither of those categories. I've almost bought an XBox 360 multiple times with the intention of playing Eternal Sonata as well, so I'm guessing that's where my freetime will go once it's out.
  • Speaking of the 360, videos and screenshots for Square-Enix's Last Remnant continue to pop up all over, and are helping to convince me that I need to purchase a system soon. I won't be hurting for Namc0-Bandai's Tales series due to being a Wii owner--there's a sequel releasing to Tales of Symphonia in November and a "mothership" title coming in 2009 for the system--but that doesn't mean I want Tales of Vesperia to skip over me, either. Those two (remember, Eternal Sonata is coming to PS3 soon) are big reasons for me to want to snag a 360, though I have next to no interest in Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, the two Mistwalker titles that were hyped to death before their release and then handed mostly average scores. I find it odd that I love companies full of former Square employees--Brownie Brown and Skip, for example--but haven't dug any of the output from a company headed up by the creator of the Final Fantasy series.
  • A new DS? A storage solution? New IP? Loads of games? Re-releases of Gamecube games at discount prices? Punch-Out!!? A Sin and Punishment 2 sequel? Nintendo, I wasn't as upset as others about E3 due to the info that came out afterward (A new Pikmin, for example) and the fact that E3 is a dead zone these days anyways, but this is an overabundance of great news for fans. When I get a chance, I'll replay the original Sin and Punishment on Virtual Console; it's easily one of my favorite games ever, and I can't wait for a sequel.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Not that I had readers to lose, but...

...I have been busy with other projects, and unable to give this site the work I think/hope it will deserve from me in the future. That will change, now that baseball is in the postseason and heading into the offseason--for those who do not know, my primary job is as an analyst for Baseball Prospectus--so I plan on beefing up the content on this site considerably. First things first today though, as my first ever video game review is up over at Blast Magazine, an online entertainment magazine. That review is on the recent release of Dragon Quest IV for the Nintendo DS, and can be reached at the link above.

As for the video game content on this site, I plan on putting up a few lists, with reasoning behind the rankings. That should (A) give me some much needed practice writing about video games, instead of just talking about them and (B) add to the back catalog of posts on this blog, which, as you can tell by my two month plus absence, is nonexistent. The original plan was to make a massive list of my favorite games ever, but I felt myself reaching on some games in order to add to the list, so I scrapped that idea in favor of a Top 10 per genre set of lists. Most likely, I'll cover RPGs, platformers, action, FPS and side-scrolling/horizontal shooters (that's 50 games right there) though it's possible that puzzlers or point-and-click type adventures could get their own category or sub-category as well. That's something I plan on working on soon--not today, as I just wrote over 6,000 words in 24 hours thanks to the MLB playoffs starting up--but it will come in the near future. I promise.

No, seriously.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Welcome to Chibi Gamer!

Welcome to the first post at Chibi Gamer, a site dedicated to various ramblings of mine related to video games. Though no one will read this post for a many a day, I should take this opportunity to tell you about my gaming interests. My first console was an Atari 2600, which my family received from my Uncle when his own children had an NES and a Sega Genesis of their own. I was behind on the times, but as someone who always enjoyed playing video games over his friend's houses, I was pleased. Sadly, the Atari broke, but my parents would replace it with a SNES, and that was the beginning of the end as far as my free time went.

These days, I have plenty of systems to keep me company. My Sega Dreamcast is still hooked up, as is my Playstation 2, and for current-gen systems I have a Playstation 3 and a Wii. My DS probably sees more playing time than any of those systems though, thanks to the large library of games and its handheld, go anywhere nature. I'll play just about anything, as a quick scan of my shelf from across the living room confirms: JRPGs, scrolling shooters, platformers, puzzlers, FPS, third-person shooters, zombies, racing, karts, RTS, and things that are just plain quirky or niche.

I play and play through quite a few games, as I wait for brand new games and seek out older ones I have yet to experience in the bargain bins of Gamestop and the Internet. I will replay through games on occasion, usually during the downtime of new releases and when I'm not in the mood for the used copies of anything I've picked up. My job--I've finished college recently--allows me lots of free time, and though I have plenty of other hobbies, a chunk of that time is alloted to my love for gaming. Hopefully a community, even a small one, can build here over time, and we can spend some time talking about our exploits and excitement together.