Podcasting, Gaming, and Whatever strikes me at the time.

Archive for March, 2014

Top 5 Games that were never released

South Park the stick of truth was quickly becoming the next big vaporware title, a game that was constantly getting delayed and would maybe never see the light of day. It became a joke in my household, even the show itself was well aware the game was in release date limbo, and joked at it. But it was eventually released, when so many games never actually see the light of day. Some are greatly anticipated, others are from companies you never heard of. This is a list of 5 of the more interesting titles that I could remember hearing about in one way or another that have either been canceled outright or just oddly disappeared.

Honorable Mentions:

Resident Evil 4 (Hallucination version), Maverick Hunter, Starcraft Ghost, Metroid Dread, Earthbound 64, Mega Man Legends 3, Thrill Kill, Highlander: the game.

5. Fighting is Magic.

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No, your eyes do not deceive you.  This was in fact at some point a real thing. A fighting game based on My little Pony Friendship is Magic.  Now as you may have guessed, of course this was never an official release. So while many would dismiss it as either being a) a fan game or b) stupid, you might be surprised at the quality of this fan made game.  It started as nothing more than fan art (as many things in the Brony community do) that exploded from a conversation of ideas. Eventually, the development team of Mane 6 (they also like puns) started using Fighter Maker 2D, despite having no experience with the software or any game development experience really, and began to make what actually might have been a real quality fighting experience, with ponies, of course.  Taking elements and play styles from across many other fighters, such as wall jumps, teleports, EX moves, supers, and the like. They truly wanted to make a high quality fighting game, and for a time, it actually looked rather impressive.  Take a look at this video here to see the game in action, and you may find yourself surprised.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Sadly, the overly eager and excitable fan base happened.

As the developers released pre-alpha gameplay footage on youtube, not only did the brony community flock to it, but fighting game enthusiasts did as well.  Eventually the team was asked to demo their game at EVO 2012, the premiere event for fighting games, as one of many indy developers.  It gained a lot of momentum there, and at the next years EVO, was one of the 17 nominees for the “Player’s Choice” slot to be added to the main competition.  It almost won, despite not yet being complete, which was a lot more than anyone anticipated.

And then they received the Cease and Desist, effectively shutting the game down entirely. It’s debatable why now, considering Hasbro has been very allowing of the things fan make about their shows, but I suspect it was because it gained a ton of popularity thanks to EVO, and was more than likely shut down to prevent precedence in court.  Now it should be the clear that Mane 6 claimed they would never accept donations or charge for the game, but Hasbro all the same sent the C&D. An alpha version of the game was leaked at some point before EVO 2012,  but it certainly did not reflect on the quality.  It’s a shame when this happens, but Hasbro was within their rights. Currently Mane 6 is working on a new fighter with original characters that were graciously created by the former creative director of the show Lauren Faust. So there is a silver lining.

4. Castlevania (PS3-Xbox360)

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I can’t say much for this one, because information is a sketchy as could be.  The only information that this “game” exists, is this video.

(Apologies for the audio, as it’s a cam recording. Like I said, info is very hard to find.)

The only real information that I could find about this game was that this video was showcased at Tokyo Game Show 2008, and it was meant to be made for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It does not appear to be related to the Lords of Shadow series, but it might have been the original idea WAY back before Mercury steam began development of Lords of Shadow, but even that cannot be confirmed.  With so little information, I only choose to add it because simply it may mean that  instead of the Lords of Shadow series, we may have been meant to play a direct sequel to Symphony of the Night, which is many people’s favorite Castlevania game, myself included.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

It’s likely been cancelled, as the Lords of Shadow series was the focus for Castlevania on this generation. It was announced at the time that former producer for the series Koji Igarashi was not going to develop a 3d Castlevania game, and several ideas were pitched for a new 3d game.  It is possible that it’s a secret project still being worked on, but after 6 years with nothing else to show, it’s highly unlikely.

3. The Chrono Trigger Remake ( AKA Chrono Resurrection)

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Square Enix seems to have no interest in making the games we want anymore, more than willing to let old favorites gather dust.  I had considered mentioning Chrono Break on the list, a Trademark Square filed in 2001, but there was no game announced at that point, or ever, so I don’t think it counts.  That trademark is now expired, if you’re interested in buying it yourself.  So if Square seems to have no interest in it, despite strong sales of every version of the game released, the fans decided to pick this one up for themselves.

Chrono Resurrection, also known as Chrono Trigger: Resurrection, was to be made for the Nintendo 64 (emulators, but work with me). The developer, Nathan Lazur, had the idea in 1999 when playing Chrono Trigger and Super Mario 64.  This remake was first started by a 4 man team then known as Resurrection Games, and  would have the same battle system as the original, but would have two modes of play. One would be 2D and pre-rendered graphics enhanced with 3D spells and battle effects, And a second mode, would feature full 3D, displayed in either regular or High display resolution.  Sadly, that version was lost, and Lazur wanted to improve his programming skills, and thus phase 2 was put together.  Phase 2 was really meant more as a demo for the concept, perhaps to showcase how awesome it would be to play this game in 3d on even stronger systems, like the PS2 or Xbox. Even the footage for the N64 version looked damn impressive, considering its age.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Cease and Desist for trademark infringement.  According to Lazur, the teams website had been receiving heavy traffic from Japan for a 3 month period prior to getting the C&D. Odds are it were employees at Square or various lawyer assistants.  Many gaming websites, such as 1Up.com, Gamespot and Nintendo World Report called the project’s second version ambitious, and praised it for keeping faithful to the series. After the C&D, Gamepro Australia called the project “possibly the greatest fan remake to get crushed under the huge shoe of a big time developer”. Several internet petitions were created to try and pressure Square Enix into green lighting either it or an official sequel (fans would be happy either way), but none have had any effect. It seems Square has no interest in following this series up.

2. Resident Evil 1.5

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You could argue I’m cheating on this one, but it’s my list, so I count it. The resident evil series has a tendency to go through many versions and ideas that end up being scrapped.   Resident evil 2 probably went the furthest, as it was close to finished before the slate was wiped clean and they started over.   So what was changed? Quite a bit, as it turns out.   Two new characters were made to be protagonists, first Leon S.  Kennedy, who remained mostly unchanged from the version we know, and a female motorcycle racer/ college student Elza Walker.  These characters never interacted with each other, and their paths never crossed in gameplay.  More survivors could be found, many of which were police officers, and both characters had 2 support partners instead of one.  The police station was smaller and had a more modern look then in the final version. Zombies and other critters were less detailed, with fewer polygons used, the tradeoff however being that there could be more on the screen at one time, giving the player the sense of dread of being overwhelmed.  One of the more interesting features was the concept that the playable characters could also be equipped with clothing, which would allow them to carry more gear or take more damage, with the characters models being altered by these costume changes and by damage received from monsters.  I can recall seeing this information leaked in a Gamepro magazine around 1996-1997, and I was stoked at the idea of playing this version, which was weird because at that time, I hadn’t even played the first one.

(sorry this one is long, just skip through it to see things. It was the best looking footage I could find.)

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

During development of the game, Producer Shinji Mikami and director Hideki Kamiya would often have disagreements about, well everything, from the plot, the design, the setting, the characters, what coffee to drink at work, everything. Eventually, Mikami took a step back into an overseeing role and only demanded to be shown the current build once a month.  He believed that the assets of the game were good individually, but not yet satisfactory as a whole, and in 3 months time, everything would come together for the projected May 1997 release.  Not long after, however, he scrapped the whole version at around 60-80%, saying the desired quality would not be reached by that time, and the locations and the game play were “dull and boring”. Changes were eventually made into the version we got today.  To promote the sequel and apologize for the belated release, Resident Evil Director’s Cut was released with a demo disc for Resident Evil 2.

  1. Star Fox 2

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Star Fox is something of a simple, yet classic series, one that Nintendo, much like Square above, seems to have no interest in continuing. It’s been close to a decade since the last full release, when Star Fox Assault was released on the Gamecube. Nintendo has done this before, with series like Punch out, but here it’s a little boggling.

It’s not clear when Star Fox 2 entered development, but it was scheduled to be released in the summer of 1995.  It would have used a more advance 3D game engine thanks to a new improved version of the Super FX chip. The game was going to be very different from the original, instead of following mostly linear paths in predefined missions; you control a team of 2 ships that freely move around the map that represents the Lylat system. When you make contact with a enemy, the game switches to an action perspective, playing very similar to Star Fox, then back to the map. The objective is to protect Corneria from damage, either from Inter-planetary ballistic missile or enemy fighters.  It’s like some awesome sounding mix of Risk, real time strategy, and arcade style shooting action, giving the player tons of options in what to do and how you do it, with 6 playable characters, the entire Star fox team and 2 new recruits, as you defend Corneria from Andross, who is a trying to take over the galaxy, because he likes to do that..   Sounds awesome, right?

The game was canceled despite being ready to ship.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

This one defies a lot of logic, at least to me.  I don’t understand why this game was never released, or ported, or something. There has never been an official reason for it, but the theory goes that Miyamoto and Nintendo wanted to focus on making Star fox on the most up to date system available. Being that the Nintendo 64 was out not long after (or supposed to be at least) it was decided to scrap this project entirely  and begin work on Star Fox 64. Again, this game was complete. This game was finished.  Why not release it, and then take your team to Star Fox 64? Normally, I’m OK with a company scrapping an idea to give them more time to polish it, but there comes a point when you just have to release it, and I feel this is one of those times. Many of the ideas were used in the DS game Star Fox Command, but it’s not the same game.   If you’re interested in seeing this version, you can in fact play it, however. A ROM was released and eventually translated to English by fans, so at least there is something.

Still, it would have been nice. I think that’s the theme on this one, it would have been nice.

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Batman Arkham Knight!!!

Well, it seems that Rocksteady studios can’t get away from the Dark Knight. While the jury is out on Arkham City Origins ( a game designed only to make money) , as I havn’t played it yet, I was always worried that Rocksteady would walk away from Batman before they could finish the story properly. And if for some reason you didn’t check out Arkham City back in 2011, I strongly advise you do, as I’m about to SPOIL THE HELL OUT OF IT! It was probably one of the best games that year though, so hopefully I’m not spoiling it for anybody. But that was your warning.

Arkham City ends with the most interesting setup in a Batman story. Joker’s dead? The city is bound to believe that Batman finally did it. How will the other villain’s in Batman’s rogue gallery react? The Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC sort of teased a revenge idea, but never really went through with it. But did lay some strong hints for a future idea. I admit, after seeing it all, I got hyped knowing that I was good hands and Rocksteady would surly see this story to its epic conclusion in a matter of years.

Imagine my disappointment when Origin’s was announced, looking back to Batman’s… well, origins, allowing it to ignore the story fans wanted to see in favor of a more traditional Batman story. I was worried the series would soon fall into the footsteps of Assassin’s Creed, and would before long forgot or ignore it’s most interesting idea. The fact that Rocksteady Studios were not making it also lead me to worry, that if they were to go back to the idea, another company would probably make it worse. But it appears my fears were all for naught.

It’s great to see that Rocksteady were in fact making that Batman game I wanted. A conclusion was greatly needed, and it appears at some point this year, we will get it. It’s way to early to say anything specific about the game’s design, other than the announcement that A) it’s a next gen game, meaning unless your on the PC, you need a PS4 or XBONE. and B) Apparently the city will be big enough to warrant taking the Batmobile out for a cruise. Hell yeah.

This is another reason for me to upgrade to a PS4, and I’ll be perfectly frank, I’m excited as hell for it. I’ll be sure to keep my eye on this one.

Now, I have to go back to playing South Park Stick of Truth.


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The Three Guys Podcast! The Lego Movie

As always, you can get the MP3 of the podcast here http://goo.gl/xHuc2O
Everything is awesome! The Three Guys check out the much loved Lego Movie! Is it as good as fans will lead you to believe? Find out!


Post Game Wrap Up- Paper Mario

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 I’ve been working through my backlog of games, trying to whittle it down slowly. It’s a fight I’ll probably never win, but that won’t stop me from trying.  One of the games on that long list was a N64 RPG that I remembered fondly called Paper Mario.  I hadn’t played it in years, and I always meant to sit down and play it again.  So, now that I mark that one off as beaten, how well does it hold up?

 

Paper Mario is the spiritual sequel to the SNES classic Super Mario RPG.  The story places you in the role of Mario, who is trying to save Princess Peach after Bowser kinaps her with the power of the Star Rod, a magic wand that is used by the stars to grant wishes for people. Bowser stole it and kidnapped the 7 Star Spirits, and it’s to Mario to save the day. Standard Mario fare, of course.  Fans wanted a true sequel, but due to trademarks held by Square, that was never going to happen, especially after Square decided to make games exclusively for the Playstation after 1996. The game did start development as Super Mario RPG 2, but was changed to the Paper Mario we know today.   Why? Well, because someone in development had an amazing idea.

 

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this is still my favorite ad for a game. Ever.

 

 

 

Everything is drawn in a way to make it look like a paper cut out. That’s actually a rather ingenious way to cheat the graphical limitations of the time, while still having a 3d environment.   It instantly makes it pop out against not only the 64 stock of RPGS, but even the Playstation library of RPGS.  It’s the game’s biggest hook easily, it’s bright and colorful world standing out against the darker and angst-y Teen rated RPG’s that populated the Playstation era. It’s meant to be enjoyed by all ages, and keeps that idea going by being a very forgiving and easy RPG.

 

Gameplay is divided the same way all RPG’s are.  You explore the over world, talking to people and make your way from chapter to chapter saving the star spirits. Unlike a lot of RPGs at the time, you can see all the monsters in the overworld, so you can choose to avoid combat, or make use of a preemptive strike to give yourself the advantage in combat, although monsters can hit you to do the same.  In battle, Mario can jump on enemies; hit them with his hammer, use items and special abilities granted to him by badges he can wear. Badges work like equipment in this game, each costing a specific amount of Badge points to wear. As you level up, you can choose to increase either your HP, your FP(flower points, for special attacks) or the amount of Badge points you have.  Mario isn’t alone on his journey either, as you find 8 different partners that can be used to get past obstacles in the over world, but also in battle.  Partners are technically invincible, in the sense they cannot be killed, however a few attacks that the monsters use can hit your partners, stunning them for a turn or two.  Attack actions return from SMRPG, allowing skilled players to block damage from attacks and do more damage with their own. On paper, it sounds like a lot, but any RPG vet will tell you that in truth this all rather simple stuff, but it’s well implemented.    The game is divided into chapters, which end when you save a Star Spirit, and inbetween, you actually play as Peach, trapped in Bowser’s floating castle, as she sneaks around to get Mario information, but in honesty, I would rather this be a cut scene, as Peach gameplay is just as boring now as it was then.  

 

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Mario gets to have all the fun

 

 

I felt the Peach sections dragged on a little too long, and didn’t add a whole lot to the game, and I can’t say I ever cared for it.  It’s all small things that bug me about this game. Things like the story being more or less a copy of Super Mario RPG, minus the final fantasy style characters. Replace Smithy with Bowser, and by the numbers, it’s basically the same.   There also isn’t a whole ton of secrets in the game to find either, or a whole lot in the way of challenge. Battles eventually become boring and not worth the small amount of experience you acquire, and there is no point to grinding because at a certain level you are simply not given any experience for battles in older areas. Item space can also be an issue, as Mario cannot carry a lot of items, and you can upgrade how many you can carry, having to store items at the shops, but even that is limited.    The biggest disappointment I had was that there isn’t a great deal of use when it comes to the very unique design. Later games, like Thousand year door and Super Paper Mario, make great use of the 2d character in a 3d world idea, by making it possible to manipulate Mario or the world to make certain obstacles passable.  Admittedly, this is part of the growing pains of a new franchise, and the sequels do make up for it, but the original will probably leave you wanting more.

 

 

 

Really, I think the few problems I have with Paper Mario come from the fact that I’ve gotten older. Weird as it sounds; I truly think Paper Mario is an excellent, if not too easy RPG. It feels like it was made for a younger generation to ease themselves into RPGs. It’s not as offensive or hand holding as Mystic Quest was, but make no mistake about it, RPG vets will blow through this game in probably 15-20 hours. I spent a great deal of my time in Bowser’s Castle at the end of the game avoiding battles because they gave so little experience and only wasted items in my limited item space.  But despite those facts, I can’t ignore the charm this game has.  It does make great use of Mario style ideas in a RPG, like stomping koopas to flip on their backs, where they are stunned and they take more damage.  It’s a bright, imaginative, and cute in a way, game, and it’s easy to see why the Paper Mario series has continued to this day. Looking back on it, Paper Mario did not hold up as well as I hoped it would. It’s not a terrible game however, and in fact might be the best N64 RPG. Granted, that list of games is only 8 games big, so take of that what you will.