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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

PSA: Back to the Future: The Game Now Available over PSN

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

An appropriate theme week will soon commence.

~Riddles

Catherine Demo Impressions & Such (Happy Valentine’s Day)

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Man oh man. Sorry I’ve been a little scarce this week gents and ladies; but I’ve been rather busy as it were. It’s Valentine’s Day today – on a Monday – so the preceding weekend was a very, uh, taxing one at work. Because I work in a restaurant. And Valentine’s Day (along with its corresponding weekend) is the occasion for many, many romantic steak dinners. I had yesterday off, but I did nothing except file my taxes and watch I Love You Phillip Morris. (Which is a good movie, by the by.) I needed a day to do jack shit.

I work today, but not until later, 5:30 in the evening to be precise. It is now 12:43. Surprisingly, I’ve already been up nearly five hours, which is highly atypical. In that time, I’ve cleaned my apartment, done a decent bit of loafing about, and played through the demo for Catherine, which is available over Xbox Live. If you’re in Japan, that is.

Well, you don’t have to be in Japan, but you need a Japanese account, which I have. So I downloaded the demo, which is almost entirely in Japanese, and played through it. Despite my utter inability to comprehend any text or speech, it was still interesting. I can’t say that it enthralled me, but it held my attention, and made me curious – though not exactly anxious – to see the final product.

To begin, the game’s hyper-stylized presentation is certainly an attention-grabber. The Atlus logo drips crimson blood, the music is dark and moody, and the colors are somewhat muted to ensure nothing ever looks bright or inviting. You’ll notice all of this before you even get past the menu screen, which is one of the more bizarre menu screens in recent memory.

After starting the demo you’re dumped into a gameplay scenario. You take on the role of some dude named Vincent, who’s caught in some crazy dreamworld with naught but his underwear and a pillow. I couldn’t understand any of the Japanese tutorials, but it didn’t matter, because the game is quite easy to pick up – you ascend a giant staircase of sorts; but to proceed, you have to push and pull several blocks, in what becomes one, long continuous puzzle to the top. There are extra lives and coins to collect on the way if you’re so inclined. It’s interesting enough, but this is clearly not an RPG, for those still wondering.

After completing the stage, which took mere minutes, I was able to see what appears to be the other half of Catherine’s gameplay: cutscenes. Suffice to say, this wasn’t terribly interesting to me, because it was all in Japanese, and I don’t know Japanese. I can say, though, that the 3D animation for the in-engine cutscenes is actually pretty good. It looks like a next-generation Persona game, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not as hyper-realistic and shiny as, say, Dead Space 2 – but it looks very attractive in its own right.

Yep.

Yep.

There was one point at which I was able to access my cell phone and read messages, which was intriguing, even though – once again –  it was all in Japanese. But, it does hint at the possibility of a Social Link-esque gameplay mechanic, where Vincent must maintain his relationships with the game’s two main female characters – Katherine and Catherine. (See what they did there?)

Next, I was dumped into another gameplay scenario, which was exactly the same as before – except this time, I had a big nasty monster hand pursuing me from below, so I had to move up those stairs fast. Still, it wasn’t terribly difficult, I made it on my first attempt. It was fun, though.

I wasn’t able to glean a whole lot from a Japanese demo, but Catherine looks… interesting. For some odd reason, when I play it, I think of  a Japanese Heavy Rain. Which makes little sense, because the gameplay is nothing like Heavy Rain… aside from the part where there’s very little gameplay to speak of. From what I’ve read, Catherine won’t be a very long game, which seems good if all there is to it is staircase-ascending interspersed between cutscenes.

Catherine looks like it could be a unique gaming experience, complete with an intriguingly dark and bizarre premise that has undeniable appeal to anyone who can appreciate some good old Japanese weirdness. But, while the demo answered a few questions, it left me roughly as confused as before. I’ll need the final product before I can predict if I’ll even like the game.

Well. I still have a good four hours before work. We’re supposed to start a new theme week tomorrow, although we probably won’t, mostly because we haven’t come up with one. In the meantime, here’s at least one more gaming confession for the week: While – unlike Ethan – I’ve completed several 2D Zelda games, such as A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, and Link’s Awakening, I never could bring myself to finish the original Zelda for NES. In fact, I’ve only ever gotten past the first dungeon. I honestly can’t stand it, it’s a terrible game to me. Same with Zelda II, though I think the world is more willing to forgive me for that one. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’ve never actually played The Minish Cap for GBA. I own it, though. Have for years. Maybe I should break out the ‘ol GBA and give her a go. Or buy a 3DS and download it. I am getting a thousand bucks from the government in a week or so. Last year I used it to go to Toronto. (That was almost exactly a year ago to date, now.) Maybe this year I’ll just buy a bunch of electronics. One thing’s for sure: I need a new TV in a bad way.

Oh, and I don’t usually do this, but…

“OMG WHO R TEH ARCADE SUBURBZ WHY THEY R WIN GRMY AN NAWT EMINEM ORGAGA ZOMG”

For fuck’s sake, America, I don’t ask that you enjoy good music, just have the decency to respect when it is – inexplicably – recognized for being good music in place of the usual suspects. Jeezus.

Ethos’ Confession #6:

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

I’ve never completed a Metal Gear Solid game. I played a number of hours of the original, watched a few hours of 3 and 4, and played the first section of 4. Not as bad as Riddles, but still…

A Series of Gaming Confessions from Riddles

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I’ve never completed a Mario game of any variety. I played maybe four or five hours of Mario 64 DS and called it quits.

I’ve never played a Metal Gear game. I own the first three. I watched bits and pieces of my brother’s playthroughs back in the day. That’s it.

My first gaming console ever was a GameCube. If you’ve paid VERY close attention over the years, you’ll know this already. For those who haven’t, here it is in all its blatancy.

I’ve played Call of Duty online maybe three or four times while not intoxicated.

On that note, Black Ops seems to be calling my name. Goodnight, everyone.

~Riddles

Scatter Storming. Issue #044

Friday, February 11th, 2011

It took until the horrible month of February, but Scatter Storming is back! Let’s see if I remember how to do this.

I Caved and Bought StarCraft II

Yup, it finally happened. Of all the eSport-worthy games I’ve watched Pogo play – CounterStrike, Warcraft 3, Modern Warfare 2, and StarCraft II – this is the one that got my attention enough to make me want to play it.

Yes, I’m aware that MW2 is too broken to be called an eSport-worthy game, but I’d seen too many hours of it to not count it.

Anyhoo, I’m really trying to watch my cash when it comes to games for the next little bit, but I have no regrets. Just means the 3DS will likely have to wait; it’s definitely the least urgent of the upcoming goodies.

The point is that I’m horrible, but the game is very fun. And very stressful. But it’s satisfying to feel like I’m getting better. Very slowly, sure, but mastering something is one of the finest and most satisfying experiences in life. I’ll keep you guys posted once I exit the practice league and enter the real online ladder.

Ethos’ Confession #3:

Despite being a Zelda fanboy, I have never completed a console Zelda game released prior to Ocarina of Time, and have never completed a handheld Zelda game released prior to Phantom Hourglass.

Modern Family: “Bixby’s Back” Review

Just saw the most recent Valentine’s Day-theme episode of Modern Family, so I thought I’d do a quickie review.

It started off quite weak. Some poor acting, contrived writing, and a non-compelling scenario. I’m glad I stuck it out though, all four stories wrapped up very nicely, and the episode finally started delivering a lot of laughs past the halfway point.

It’s great to see Mitch and Cam continue to drop the “let’s not offend each other” shtick and have some of the better moments. But once again, Gloria wins moment of the episode with her equally oblivious and poignant ridiculousness. Even if the “twist” was a little expected, the delivery was excellend.

I’m a little tired of Phil’s fool/stud/fool rotation. I think this season is missing more interactivity between the families. At least we got Manny with Haley.

The summation? Good save with this episode.

SCORE: 6.5/10

Ethos’ Confession #4:

I’ve never properly played a Resident Evil game.

Ethos’ Confession #5:

I never beat any optional bosses or got Knights of the Round in Final Fantasy VII. Hell, I didn’t even get Vincent.

New Trophy War

The Trophy war I had with Abe80 ages ago obviously died out. Plus, I’m destroying him. But a new challenger enters! Eric J., another former Lusipurr.comian and I have started a war of our own, and it seems to be a much more heated battle.

He best sums up how it started on his site, but now we’re in the midst of coming up with a prize for the winner and/or a punishment for the loser.

We toyed with the idea of the loser moving to the other’s location, but that ended when I came to terms with the fact that I would never move to Michigan. Also that he’d be getting the way better end of that deal. Toronto is a world class city. But we still want a significant prize/punishment. Ideas?

That’s it for now! It feels good to be back. This year is going to be fucking insane for us gamers. It is the calm before the storm.

Another Ethos Confession

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Ethos’ Confession #2: Although having one in my possession for quite some time, I never legitimately owned an original Playstation.

Welcome to Game Confessions Week!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Well after Riddles and I got personal, insightful, and extremely wordy in our most recent dive into Handheld Gaming, we’re going to take a lighter approach this week before actual games start coming out this year.

This will just be a time to sprinkle various Video Game Confessions – short or long, big or small – throughout the week. And who knows, maybe we’ll see a return of some staple features? Some scattered staple features? Some STORMY staple features?

It’s crazy up in here!

Oh, and because it’s been so long since Riddles deserved his Best of Lord Riddles Awards, I’m dreaming up something big. I’m also dreaming up something big for Spam Comment Roundup.

Welcome to the mother fucking year of Riddlethos.

Ethos’ Confession #1: I’ve never played a Half Life game.