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by Ethos

Sunday Soapbox: A Diamond in the Rough

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

We’re wrapping up a successful week here at Riddlethos.com. I played, beat, and reviewed Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Riddles did fuck-all. Y’know, the usual. I’m more than okay with it though, I obviously enjoyed Galaxy 2 quite a bit and it was nice playing a top-notch Nintendo game again.

Ultimately, that’s what I want to talk about. How can Nintendo do something so incredibly right with the Mario Galaxy series and continue to mess everything else up? Since the release of the Wii, it’s been a constant downhill ride for all Nintendo fanboys. I’ll admit that I was still one of those back in 2006. I had confidence that Nintendo could bring the heat with the Wii and that the system would live up to its codename, Revolution. While getting HD systems and games of my own definitely helped in my disillusionment, Nintendo also worked hard to lose my vote. I actually had a lot of fun with Wii Sports, but after the novelty wore out, it was easier to notice that the Wiimote wasn’t everything the hype cracked it up to be. Sadly, the Wii Sports games still make the best use of the controller while still feeling like you’re not in complete control.

12 years ago, Nintendo paved the road in cutting-edge console software

Unfortunately, this was the first step. Wii Sports concentrated on showcasing the underwhelming and overpriced motion controls, when the actual advancement of the Wii is pointer controls. Although pointer controls are intuitive, quick, and inspire innovation, Nintendo continues to push the thought that the Wii is all about swinging your arms around in a vague attempt to make a game do what you want. It was a downward spiral after this. Mario Kart is a broken game, Wii Music is embarrassing, and the Wii interface continues to fall further and further behind while Nintendo claims that nobody wants the things that the system is missing. People don’t care about HD, they say! Who needs a persistent online ID and well integrated storefront? People want to feel completely alone with their console experience! Achievement systems devalue gameplay! Funny, then, that Nintendo includes achievement systems in some of their bigger titles like Metroid Prime 3 and Wii Sports Resort.

And when Nintendo finally does play catch-up, it’s way too little way too late. SD Card support for WiiWare and Virtual Console titles should have happened at least 12 months earlier than it did, and Wii MotionPlus charges you to fix your Wiimote to be (still a little less than) what it promised to be 4 years ago!

Instead of releasing games that would showcase the system’s “capabilities” like a Pikmin or Pilotwings sequel, they release New Super Mario Bros. which plays like a Super Nintendo game and Super Smash Brothers which is best played with a Gamecube Controller.

To “fix” this problem, apparently the answer is to “simplify” the controls for a “complicated” game like Zelda. I’m sorry, but the controls for Mario are just as “complex” as Zelda’s but Galaxy 2 chose to cleverly include ways for new players to not feel overwhelmed while not holding back advanced players. That, of course, is my main point, but I’ll get back to that in a second.

Even the most dedicated fanboys couldn't defend this one...

I’m sorry, Nintendo, but you have enough software for the casual audience to not take steps backward in your prize franchises. Why not incorporate a skill level rating on your games? LEGO does it, I’m sure you could too. The point is that Nintendo is just confused. I actually think that Wii Fit is a fine piece of software. But it requires a whole new peripheral to even function. They want to bring everything to everyone, and in the process, it has resulted in the complete isolation of their original fanbase. My grandmother will never want to play Zelda, why cater to the audience that has proven will not buy the software anyway?

But I could rant like this all night, the point is that why – amidst all this confusion and watering-down – has Nintendo also come out with their strongest software of the decade? My gushing review says it all. I think Nintendo did very little wrong with their latest release. Excepting the lack of HD, Super Mario Galaxy 2 radiates all the care, effort, and production values from the Nintendo glory days. They were able to make a game that actually is appealing to lots of different people, not the sort of “all ages” that caters to the lowest common denominator. Although Zelda’s structure isn’t exactly built for the same sort of intuitive multi-tiered difficulty levels, it stills seems like Ninty is going the lazy route as they’ve done with everything else. Just compare Nintendo’s philosophy with Mario Galaxy to the other extreme, Wii Music. Both are games “everybody can play”, but one doesn’t treat the player like an idiot, and the other – frankly – does.

Admittedly, even Nintendo seems to regret Wii Music, but that doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t represent a magnified version of their still current stance.

Ultimately, although the Super Mario Galaxy games are good signs that Nintendo is still capable of producing excellent software while managing to also coddle their precious casual crowd, it’s been too long to expect any of sort philosophy change in the near future. E3 very likely won’t bring the death of friend codes or the birth of a Wii HD. For every Metroid: Other M announcement, we’ll have 10 Wii Vitality Sensor announcements. Nonetheless I’m happy to enjoy a game like Galaxy 2 that will hopefully one day no longer just be a diamond in the rough.

Lazy Saturdays #06 – LOLWUT

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Yep, it’s been a lazy Saturday. Classically lazy, in fact. Although, I did have a random stroke of creativity, and proceeded to write a 3,000 word  short story. Weird, eh? I’m sure you’re all dying to read it, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with videogames. So. It wouldn’t be appropriate, y’see.

By the way, I should mention the fact that I am still playing Alan Wake. I’m moving quite slowly through it because a) I’ve been working a lot, and b) I’m frankly not enamored with it. However, I still plan to finish it and review it for the site. Hint: I’m not as blown away as many others seem to be.

Alright, well. As you can see, this weekend’s edition of Lazy Saturdays has been brought to you by the LOLWUT Pear! And, if you read any further, you’ll find out why, exactly, that is.

Alpha Protocol dev snaps, claims that game should have been “cancelled”now this is definitely a lolwut. Perhaps you’ve read a few of the recently published reviews for the Obsidian-developed, Sega-published espionage RPG Alpha Protocol? Well, they aren’t terribly positive. The PS3 version of the game is currently holding down a 70.80% aggregate ranking on GameRankings, and the 360 and PC scores are both lower. Apparently, the game’s just a buggy, muddy, unfinished piece of work. In fact, it’s such a disappointment that even people who worked on the game are voicing their disgust. Commenting on Joystiq’s review, an apparent Alpha Protocol developer had this to say:

There was a ton of work put into this game. The problem is that it was a ton of undirected work, or work on things that were just stupid. The Executive Producer for the game, Chris Parker (also an owner of the company), seemed to think he was the world’s greatest designer ever, and created all these absolutely shitty systems and wouldn’t listen to any of the real designers or devs about things that just didn’t work. And you can’t exactly argue with one of the owners of the company when he doesn’t want to listen. He basically took over the game and dictated exactly how everything would work (or not work, as the case may be). The other producers realized this early on and just gave up, leaving Parker to micromanage all the designers and programmers directly.

Sega also was a factor, because they kept changing the design requirements (yes they had heavy influence there), which never gave the producers and designers time to actually decide on one set of features to make and polish. The blame is still mostly Obsidian’s because the execution was absolutely terrible, and it was obvious 2 years ago that this game should have been scrapped. Instead, though, they focused on adding still more features and never fixed the ones they already had. That is a recipe for tons of bugs and no polish… as is obvious.

This game was just an absolute failure of production, and it’s no wonder that so many of the developers left the company, even after the 40% staff layoffs. I am still happy about some of Obsidian’s other current projects, New Vegas included, because they are going pretty well. Their big unannounced project is looking great and is already much better than AP ever was, and that may end up being the game that everyone was looking for with AP.

Sega should have canceled AP instead of Aliens.

Ah… man. I’m almost unsure if I should be laughing at that. But, I already proclaimed it a LOLWUT. And, in truth, we can’t know for sure that this wasn’t just posted by some nobody. But, uh… it sounds pretty legit to me.

Cliff Bleszinski: the children in Heavy Rain are “hideous” – this one has LOLWUT written all over it. Know why? Because it’s true. Now, Cliff Bleszinski is a bit of a jackass in my opinion, but he hits the nail on the head with this little quote from an interview with GameReactor:

“Yes, [Heavy Rain] really grows on me. But, even if I feel it’s a really good game, I don’t think they have done enough to avoid the ‘uncanny valley’ problems.”

“The children in the game are some of the most hideous I have seen. Ever”

Ba-hahaha. Yes, Cliff. Yes they are. They also sound awful. Particularly in a certain, highly pivotal scene near the end of the game. People who’ve played through the whole thing know exactly what I’m talking about.

Let’s take these complaints to heart, eh Quantic Dream?

Man stabs other man to exact revenge for Counter-Strike deathNow, if this isn’t a LOLWUT than I don’t know LOLWUT is! Ha! Ha! See the pun? No? Good, because it’s fucking awful.

Anyway. Julien Barreaux is a 20-year old man living in Cambrai, France. In late 2009, Julien was killed in a knife-fight in Counter-Strike by a man named “Mikhael.” Enraged, Julien set out to find “Mikhael” and bring him to justice. He spent six months searching, and finally ended up on Mikhael’s front doorstep with a knife in hand. When Mikhael answered the knock at his door, Julien attempted to drive the knife into his heart – and he missed by an inch. Mikhael’s still alive, and Julien’s going to prison for two years.

Wait, only two years?

This guy meticulously hunts down and attempts to kill a man over a death in Counter-Strike, and he gets two years?

Goddamn French pussies.

A dark LOLWUT, yes; but a LOLWUT nonetheless. And, with it, we conclude this special LOLWUT edition of Lazy Saturdays. Thanks so much for joining us, and might I encourage you to scroll down and have a look at some of the awesome content we’ve posted this week? Like, for example, Ethos’ gushing review for Super Mario Galaxy 2? (Actually, you’ll have to scroll up for that.) Or, my less-than-positive review for the Prince of Persia movie? And, last but not least, the birth of the Memetok?

Just scroll down. Or up. You won’t be sorry.

-Riddles

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review – Glaa-hoo!

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

LIKED:
-Challenging, fun, and clever level design.
-Far and away the best-looking Wii game.
-Clever ways to help new players without dumbing down the experience for veterans
-No more contrived missions
-Absolutely beautiful largely-orchestrated music
-Cloud Mario
-Better overworld
-Pointer and motion controls are great…

DISLIKED:
-…but the waggle is not great
-Not enough Rosalina!
-Peach needs to die

Nintendo is a funny beast these days. They’ve quickly forgotten their days of cutting edge software and technology to ride the success of the Wii, 9 year old hardware that they claim is still a showcase of modern technology. They hype and showcase games like Wii Music which turn out to be mind-numbingly shallow, and use E3 to reveal anti-gaming devices like the Wii Vitality Sensor. Still, when it comes to their 3D Mario franchise, they have been nothing but consistent and even excellent. The series has become more reliable than their previous shining gem franchise, Zelda. Mario 64 set the standard for 3D platforming, and Mario Sunshine followed suit with tighter controls, better camera, and better graphics, if not slightly worse level design. Then came the Galaxy series. Ironically when Nintendo seems to be most ignoring the fanbase that made them, they’re creating some of the absolute strongest games they’ve ever made in Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. So much so that one almost forgets they’re not in HD. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is absolutely the best 3D Mario game, and the best game that Nintendo has released since Ocarina of Time.

Star Get!

Gameplay
This is all that Mario Galaxy 2 is, and so Nintendo nails it. Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi all control so tightly, yet very distinctly. Mario makes quick stops and intuitive acrobatic moves, Luigi skids around while running faster and jumping higher, and Yoshi flutter-jumps with – thankfully – less of that constipation noise while doing so.

The brilliance of the gameplay in this game is how carefully Nintendo implemented difficulty levels without the need for a difficulty setting. If you’re new to games and don’t have 14 years of controlling a 3D Mario under your belt, you can use – otherwise easily ignorable – “hint TVs” that are scattered around the levels. If you still suck really bad, ghost Rosalina will offer you the “win button” and you can just watch Mario get the star by himself. You’ll be marked for being a n00b, however, as you’ll get a bronze star instead of a gold one if you use this cop-out. The reason why all this is good is because it eliminated the need for Nintendo to dumb down the levels or the challenge of the more difficult missions. That’s not all, either. It’s easy to get to the end credits of the game without collecting the comet coin available in every level or discovering the secret stars some levels have to offer. If you do take the extra time – and challenge – however, the reward is far from small. Super Mario Galaxy 2 piles on the options and additional gameplay to an even greater extent than the impressive original.

But forgetting that this game essentially has 240 different stars to collect, the main 120 missions don’t hold back, and it’s extremely satisfying for a veteran gamer. To gain perspective of the additional challenge present in the sequel, let me provide an example: Anybody who played the original Galaxy knows of missions that would require you to collect 100 purple coins within a time limit while platforms disappeared permanently as you stepped on them. Well in Galaxy 2, you have a similar mission, but with the added challenge of shadow Marios – that do damage if they bump into you – chasing you, mimicking your every move. Therefore, if you slow down or retrace your steps, you’re as good as dead.

Starship Mario!

So the game rewards you with more gameplay the more you play, and challenges you more than ever before, but it somehow doesn’t stop there. It’s also incredibly varied. Whereas the past three games are plagued with varying degrees of dud-missions, Super Mario Galaxy 2 instead decided to make more levels with fewer missions. The result is essentially never getting sick of a level, and every mission feeling fresh. It is extremely surprising and just as impressive how much Nintendo managed to pack into this title

I could go on and on about the gameplay, talking about the new – great – suits, and the new – better – overworld, but I think you all get my point. This is one of the tightest, most fun experiences you can find in a video game. Even the motion-only levels work as Nintendo is well aware of the limitations and doesn’t try to do anything that the Wiimote can’t. However, that doesn’t mean that the waggle attached to the spin move is excusable. The spin move in the Galaxy series is a fantastic addition to Mario’s moveset, but the execution is not. Although the waggle is as precise as anybody could make it, the fact is that it can still be accidentally triggered if I scratch my nose and that a button press would be more precise in tight situations. Maybe the Wiimote doesn’t have enough buttons, but that doesn’t mean the waggle motion to spin is any less stupid.

Story
This is Mario. You save the annoying bitch, Peach from the hilarious idiot, Bowser. If Rosalina kills off Peach, then I’ll care about the story.

Graphics
No, it’s not in HD, but that’s a fault of the system and not the game itself. Like the original Galaxy before it, Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks beautiful. It’s one of the rare cases that shows that the Wii is more powerful than the Gamecube, and it shows it in style. The game is colourful and varied, with great animations and more interesting backdrops than the original. The game might be cartoony, but there’s something epic about the art style too. Lots of swirling star systems in the background, massive waterfalls, and exploding volcanoes, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best looking Wii game. It may not have the resolution of the HD systems, but it’s more of a joy to look at than most games, regardless.

Annoying shadow bitches...

Sound
Because Galaxy 2 has no story to speak of, it has to draw the player into the world with graphics and music. Luckily the game sounds just as beautiful as it looks. Not everything is orchestrated, but a lot of it is, and the tracks are even more inspired than the original. There is Hollywood-worthy cues mixed with fun-loving throwbacks. Even the MIDI-style stuff works because of the nature of Mario. This series is leaps and bounds ahead of Zelda in terms of production and personality, and the soundtrack is just more proof of that. The sound effects are just as fun and appropriate as the original, but – like mentioned earlier – it’s nice to hear Yoshi’s return absent of constipation noises.

Final Thoughts
Forget everything you know about the current state and philosophies of Nintendo. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a lavishly produced, all-out production and it’s crammed-packed with top-notch controls and the best level-design available. Some people may still get a little seasick from Mario’s topsy-turvy antics, but a better camera and tight controls obliterated that problem for me. There’s so much to find and enjoy for players of absolutely any level, and even after playing through almost the entirety of both games, I still want more. This is the sole reason to own a Wii. The cut-scenes are still cringe-worthy, and I got annoyed with an unnecessary scene every time I played as Luigi, but the issues are so incredibly minor that I feel weird even mentioning them. Highly recommended.

Review Outline

While we wait for the SMG2 review…

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I’m about halfway done, but while you wait, I’ve created Memetok 2.0.

Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! #008

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Okay, so I skipped a week and the most recent edition was a hangover edition. Still! Excepting Riddles’ random Sands of Time movie review and admittedly strong HLL, this week has been all me! So I’m back down to just two stories, because I only found two that moderately interested me.

First Non-Crystal Chronicles Non-Remake Final Fantasy on the DS Announced!

Modifiers, much? Still, I really wasn’t a fan of the Crystal Chronicle games or the wonky-looking remakes of III or IV, so this appears to be a breath of fresh air. The game – titled Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light and coming out October 5 – still has a similar 3D look to the other Final Fantasy DS games, but it appears to be a lot more stylized. It also appears to be less dumbed down from a customization standpoint, which is nice. I’m not holding my breath on this one, but I haven’t turned away completely yet…
(IGN)

Confirmation-Free Natal Pricing
Not that anybody cares, but the going rumour is that Natal will costs $150 on its onesies and $299 packed into an Arcade 360 unit. If I wasn’t sold before, I’m extra not sold now!
(IGN)

That’s it. Nothing else struck me as interesting. Super Mario Galaxy 2 review going up tomorrow! Also, we updated our “Upcoming” list. Click the appropriate top tab if you’re interested in what theme weeks we have for you in the coming months.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Film) Review – Nice Try

Friday, May 28th, 2010

It’s common knowledge that Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia trilogy for the previous hardware generation is one of my favorite gaming trilogies of all time. It’s better than God of War, it’s better than Devil May Cry, and it’s better than the ill-fated 2008 series reboot. They were, and they remain, three of the best action-adventure titles ever made; so of course, a movie based on them is a big deal – right?

Well, it was to me, loathe as I was/am to admit it. I love the games so much that I couldn’t help but be intrigued by a Prince of Persia movie – and, frankly, I was pretty optimistic for it. In a sense, it held the fate of future videogame films – would it be the X-Men of videogame adaptations, or would it plunge to Batman and Robin levels of awfulness?

I saw the film last night. Midnight showing, in fact. Hollywood 27 in Nashville, which is widely hailed as Middle Tennessee’s #1 Most Ghetto Movie Theater. Frankly, it’s not that bad of a place. I feel like they’ve straightened it up a bit in the last few years. Plus, it’s the easiest theater to sneak beer into.

Strike that. Gotta get a grip on my tangents. Let’s talk about the movie, eh?

I’ll start with the good: Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time does not completely suck. An odd compliment, I know; but given Hollywood’s history of abysmal game-to-film adaptations, it is a compliment indeed. In spite of its many flaws, the film manages to be entertaining, with some fun action moments and some fairly impressive visual effects. For example, the scenes in which the Dagger of Time is actually used to turn back time are quite awesome, I must say. In homage to the platforming mechanics of the trilogy, there are also some fantastic Parkour sequences that will likely cause every Prince of Persia fan in the audience to have a violent nerdgasm. And, in spite of the abysmal editing (more on that later) the fight scenes are pretty good.

But unfortunately, that’s the extent of my compliments for the film. Whatever magic spark Jerry Bruckheimer summoned for the Pirates of the Caribbean films is not present in Prince of Persia, and neither is Johnny Depp. And… neither is the tight screenplay. Or the snappy script. Or… ah, well, I’ll stop there.

The first thing you’ll notice about Prince of Persia is how painful the dialog is. Ironic in a sense, since the original videogame is actually quite well-written. The film, however, is not; there’s barely a single line of dialog that hasn’t been written somewhere else, multiple times. Cliches are spewed fast and thick, and while moderate tongue-in-cheek dialog is par for the course in most summer popcorn films, Prince of Persia takes it far beyond the point of forgiveness. Admittedly, it isn’t all awful. For example, some of the scenes with Prince Dastan and the Princess Tamina arguing back and forth manage to be entertaining, if only because they’re reminiscent of the dialog between the Prince and Farah in 2003’s Sands of Time. However, the scattered bright spots aren’t enough to compensate for the general… awfulness.

The second thing you’ll notice about Prince of Persia is how abysmal the editing is. Perhaps an odd thing to complain about for an action film, but Prince of Persia’s editing is so nonsensical, schizophrenic, and fast-paced it’ll probably give you a headache. Dozens of scenes are obviously cut far shorter than they were intended. Scenes of dialog are clearly chopped and re-assembled. Characters suddenly appear on screen with no logical progression as to how they arrived. Even the battle sequences cut from shot-to-shot so quickly that it hinders the viewer from enjoying the sword-clanging action. Simply put, the film has some of worst editing I’ve seen in a long time.

The third thing you’ll notice about Prince of Persia is how bland the cast is. Now, to be fair, the cast isn’t bad – Jake Gyllenhaall pulls off a fairly likable Prince Dastan, though I still prefer Yuri Lowenthal’s portrayal in the original game. Sir Ben Kingsley provides a lordly presence as the Prince’s uncle, even if his skill as an actor is debilitated by the abysmal script. Alfred Molina has a role in the film as a shady ostrich-racer, (no that’s not a typo) and guess what? He’s the most entertaining character in the film. Bit of a sad statement, actually; but unlike everyone else, he manages to get his personality across. Again, there’s no Johnny Depp to be found. Hell, there’s no Geoffry Rush either. I will say, though, that Gyllenhaall manages to be marginally more entertaining than Orlando Bloom.

It pains me to say this, but Jerry Bruckheimer’s adaptation of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is, ultimately, a disappointment. It’s not the film that’s going to pave the future for game-to-movie adaptations. Hell, I’ll be surprised if it paves the way for a sequel. No, it doesn’t completely suck – and if you’re a fan of the games, you’ll probably get something out of it. But try as I may, I can’t give it any further accolades.

We’ll just have to hope that the upcoming Shadow of the Colossus film can succeed where Prince of Persia failed.

(Yeah, that was a joke.)

C’mon, Riddles!

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Well I did it. I got 120 (123, actually…) stars without using any internet help. I’m pretty sure that Oliver is capable of getting just 30 as per my challenge. And it’s crazy, but he might have fun doing it! It’s a quick rental, Montok. While we wait, I’ll give you all another Memetok.

Scatter Storming. Issue #031

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

We finally made it, guys! Issue 31! What a big deal. Anyway, I’m tired, so let me write some other words.

Super Mario Galaxy 2? More like Super Mario Galaxy Moo! Amirite?! -
So I beat the final boss and am up to about 105 stars. I’m going to get 120 before penning the review, but it’ll definitely be up this week. Spoilers: I think the game fucking rocks.

More like Brave SHMOREY! -
I’ve been playing Brave Story instead of Lunar on the PSP. Why? I’m not quite sure, I think Lunar is the better game. But Brave Story is charming and perhaps easier to play in smaller doses because I care less about the story.

More like PITTER PUNCH! -
Forgive me, I’m tired and delirious. I downloaded Critter Crunch on the PSN and played it instead of Alan Wake last week. WORTH IT! The game is beautifully hand-drawn and absolutely addictive. It’s often funny too. I like that the PSN and XBLA are really coming into their own with fun, stylish, little games that are priced in stark contrast to retail titles (Critter Crunch cost me $7).

Gimme Da Red Dead –
Yup, I want it. I’m not really a GTA guy, but something about Red Dead has me intrigued. I wasn’t sold on Alan Wake, and I might be retracing my steps with BlazBlue, so I’m sensing a trade-in. Both Riddles and I almost regret our choice for Alan Wake over Red Dead last week, so maybe we’ll see REDEMPTION next week? Enh? ENH?! I’m a fucking genius.

I’m out of material, so let’s post more memes of Riddles -
Now you can too! Just click here to download the template and we can all laugh at Riddles together in new and exciting ways! Here are just some examples. Click on the picture for a bigger version. E-mail your versions to ethos@riddlethos.com!

Hey! Look! Listen! #55

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

There’s a lot of stuff in my RSS reader today. Way too much for me to process right now, in fact; though I’ll do my best to touch on the more relevant news items.

Anyway, ah. Welcome to another edition of Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and there WILL be a happy ending this time!

Ahem. So. Let’s get to it.

RUMOR: Sony to Reveal “PSN+” at E3?

Okay, I like the sound of this. If it’s true, Sony has the right idea about premium online services, unlike Microsoft.

According to one of Joystiq’s sources, Sony is prepping to reveal a service called “PSN+” at their 2010 E3 Media Briefing. The rumored benefits of a PSN+ subscriber are as follows:

-Free access to a “rotating list” of PSP Minis and PSone classics. That’s pretty damn sweet.

-”Exclusive in-game DLC. Eh, that’s something I suppose.

-”First Hour” demo access to full retail titles. Unfortunately, to access the hour demo, you have to download the full game file. Still, you don’t pay unless you choose to purchase full access.

-Free “PlayStation Protection Plan” access. Yeah, that’s pretty nice.

-Cross-game voice chat. Ehh… well, I suppose that’ll excite other people.

-Cloud-based game saves. Meaning… you could access them anywhere, I suppose? Sweet.

-Some kinda auto-patching system.

All that extra goodness for PSN+ subscribers. However, online play will remain available to everyone. That’s the big difference between PSN+ and Xbox Live.

It’s rumored that the price would be in the range of $9.99 per month. Seems a bit high, though – Sony must know that it’s a bit pretentious price their service the same as Netflix. In any case, this is currently just a rumor. Frankly, though, I hope it’s true. It might encourage Microsoft to follow suit.

(Joystiq via Gizmodo)

Speaking of PSN: Modern Warfare 2 Doling Double XP This Weekend

That’s right! See, there’s this American holiday called Memorial Day that takes place this Monday the 31st. It’s a day that honors those who died in service of our military, and it’s most often celebrated with wings and beer. But me? Well, I’ll be MW2ing it up the entiiiire weekend. And I’ll have beer. And hell, maybe I’ll pick up some wings. Sounds like a damn fine weekend to me. Except for the part where I’ll suck at Modern Warfare 2 because I haven’t played it in two months. (VG247)

Insomniac Games Signs Deal with EA Partners

While I have no real experience with Insomniac Games’ work (never played Resistance, never played Ratchet and Clank) this is still an interesting bit of news; Insomniac Games has only ever made games for Sony platforms. But now, in wake of a deal with EA Partners, they’re working on a game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

The days of platform loyalty really are dead. And no, I don’t necessarily view that as a bad thing. I’m just stating an increasingly apparent fact.

Anyway. Insomniac Games will continue to work with Sony, so don’t fret, Resistance 3 is still in the works. Absolutely no details were offered on what kind of game they’re developing for EA, or when it will be released. If you want the full story, check out VG247’s interview with Insomniac’s Ted Price.

Mass Effect is Being Made Into a Movie

Yeah… I suppose it was just a matter of time.

Legendary Pictures, the studio behind films such as The Dark Knight and 300, have reportedly snapped up the film rights to Mass Effect. BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will serve as executive producers, along with series producer Casey Hudson. I Am Legend screenwriter Mark Protosevich is supposedly interest in working on the film, and it will be produced by Avi and Ari Arad, as well as Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni.

Sound great, right? Meh. Not to me. The Mass Effect franchise represents a narrative experience that can only be achieved through an interactive media like a videogame. To make it into a film would be to cheapen it. It just wouldn’t be Mass Effect as Mass Effect was meant to be experienced. (VG247)

QUICKIES:

Ubisoft Toronto Working on New Splinter Cell Game - Yay, Toronto! That’s where Ethos lives!

RUMOR: Killzone 3 Coming May 2011, Features 4-Player Co-op - Okay. I mean, again, I really don’t care much about Killzone. But for those of you who do, have some rumor stew!

Alright. Well, that’s it. We’re done. Goodbye now!

I challenge thee, Montok

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Taken with thought-capturing technology

I talked to Riddles on the phone today, and while I always knew that he wasn’t a big fan of Mario, I just realized today that that decision is based on a little bit of Mario 64! That game is almost 15 years old, and is – sorry to say – close to unplayable by today’s standards.

While Mario Galaxy may not be everybody’s cup of tea (every genre isn’t for every person), the series is pretty much the only thing Nintendo has done right recently. And man, has it ever done it right. You’ll see my review later in the week, but the game is pure brilliant level design, one after another. The point is that Riddles needs to give the series a proper chance. The fool hasn’t even seen either game in action! Unbelievable. The series is addictive, fun, clever, and increasingly challenging especially because the Mario games in general are doing a great job of implementing systems that make the n00bs happy without causing the whole game to be dumbed down.

Either way, I’m fine if Riddles continues to not be a fan of Mario, but I challenge him to give Mario Galaxy 2 a fair shake. Rent, borrow, or trade in Alan Wake to buy the game and get at least 30 stars in. Are you up for it?