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Ethos and Riddles talk about video games...
            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

More 3DS games

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I just got five 3rd party 3DS games today. Far more interesting stuff than Steel Diver and Nintendogs + Cats. At the very least my next Scatter Storming will have impressions of them all.

Scatter Storming. Issue #048

Monday, March 21st, 2011

See! What did I tell you? Another Scatter Storming.

Today I am quite tired and have a lot on my plate, so let’s go to.

Let’s Be Honest

As much as Riddles and I love this site and are committed to it, it’s obvious that content and enthusiasm has been down since the beginning.

The fact is that Riddlethos does not pay the bills and takes a tremendous amount to effort to keep afloat at the level that both Riddles and I aspire to.

This leaves feelings of frustration when we can’t produce content like we’d like and feelings of guilt when we take time to ourselves.

But the point is that we truly appreciate all our readers – the ones who comment and the ones who don’t – and while Riddlethos will have dips and dives in its content production, you guys are the reason we still even consider this little site as something worth working on.

Riddles and I plan to talk soon to rework a few things, and maybe it’ll mean officially diminished content, maybe it won’t, but all decisions will be made carefully and with the future success of the site in mind, even if that means darker days for a bit.

Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to touch base and let you all know that a lack of content does not equal a lack of love.

Ugly

Pilot Wings Resort

Fuck the other games that came with my temporary 3DS unit, Pilot Wings is the shit. It has almost every good thing I remember about the 64 version while adding some good new things and removing most – but not all – of the annoying. You can blast through all the missions very quickly, but to master each one and get a perfect score in every level is a true challenge.

A challenge that’s actually not often seen in any game nowadays. It’s a clever move that Nintendo demonstrated with Mario Galaxy 2: the difficulty setting without a need for a difficulty setting.

It would be perfectly easy for a beginner player to toy around with the title and have some fun in the easier modes and the free flight and not get frustrated with the difficulty. An intermediate player would find challenge in unlocking all of the levels as a decent amount of skill is needed to do so.

A player of my experience with gaming and the series, however, can blast through and unlock all the levels, but will then have a very challenging and ultimately satisfying time with the game trying to get a perfect score on all the levels. It – very largely – takes skill and intimate knowledge of the intricacies of all the vehicles to do so. There will be no flukes to gain a perfect run.

Yes, very fun. But ugly.

However, all that praise being said, the game is actually a horrible showpiece for the new system. The graphics are bad. I saw what the launch software was capable of when I was in New York, and Pilot Wings Resort is ugly in comparison. There is no argument. It’s a stylistic choice I guess, but one in the same vein as Wii Sports, so I’m not going to defend it.

Also the 3D is bad. If I only had this game to go off of, I would say that the system’s 3D doesn’t really work that well. Now I’ve seen about a dozen other titles, so I know that Pilot Wings Resort is the exception, but it’s still a Nintendo first party launch title, so…

On the lowest level, it’s actually very pleasant. The effect is obvious, but not intense, and it can even be helpful for some of the jet pack missions. But crank the thing up and it all goes to shit. Unlike every other game that I’ve played for the system, when the slider is completely up – or even over the halfway point – there’s no way to properly focus. There is no sweet spot. The 3D just doesn’t work on max for Pilot Wings.

Anyhoo, there’s a solid preview for when I get the go ahead to write a review. (Psst, the go ahead will be once I see a review from IGN).

Other than that…

…I haven’t really been playing many games. I just haven’t been home. Dragon Age calls to me, but because it has turned out to be “just a fun game” and not really the sequel that Origins deserved, I haven’t been cutting into sleeping time to play it.

I have been playing Pokémon when I can, but I’m just on the grind now. I picked up a few Pokeymans that really suck now, but evolve late and will be worth the investment. I’m at the Elite Four, but haven’t properly challenged them yet. I’ll post my winning team when I finally do.

That’s all! I actually wrote more than I expected, so suck it.

Handheld Gaming Part 3 – The Future (Ethos)

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

So here we are. About 15 years of my handheld gaming life summed up in two articles, and now I must talk about the two fairly-recently announced new generation of portable handhelds.

Well, kinda portable. The 3DS is severely strapped down by its extremely short battery life, and the NGP is even bigger than the biggest model of the current PSP. As I briefly touched on in Part 2, one of the reasons I love the Go is that it’s actually portable to me. When I borrowed a regular PSP to play Birth By Sleep, it was far more noticeable in my pockets and just more of a pain to bring around with me.

It’s true that I haven’t been having extended play sessions on my current DS out of my home for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I want to feel like I have to conserve every time I open the lid on my 3DS.

It's probably not a good sign that I'm most excited for NGP's interface...

On the other hand, I like the idea of the NGP having 3G capabilities, and trophies on the go sound wonderful to me. Also, the trackpad on the back of the system might just be a great solution to a touch screen without having to cover up your vision of the action. I suppose I didn’t get excited from the press conference because of the size, design, and no software that entices me in the least.

I adore the Uncharted games, but that is a series that I boot up on a massive TV and play-through in as few sittings as possible. Even with NGP’s crazy horsepower, Uncharted on the system doesn’t sell me. Especially when the preview included gyro sensor movement as part of the gameplay…

But there’s lots to still see on that system, so I have no firm stance yet, but let’s move onto a release that looms much closer.

The 3DS impressed many when it was first shown off in grand style at E3 2010, and since then, there mostly has only been bad news for fans. The return of (barely improved) friend codes, a delayed release for the (potentially improved) eShop, region locking confirmed, and of course a really shitty battery.

The difference for me with the 3DS and the DSfat release is the software. There wasn’t a single thing about the DS that enticed me. With the 3DS, a new Paper Mario game alone is enough to get me excited. Kingdom Hearts has lost my love over the years, but I’m willing to pay attention if Dumber Name is as good as Birth By Sleep. I already explained my excitement for the new Pilot Wings game, and that’s not to mention the remakes of two of my favourite games I’ve ever played, Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64.

The DS interface gets better, but it's relative.

Perhaps these titles don’t excite everybody, but those 4 (and a half) pieces of software are enough for me to know that I’ll buy this system before the inevitable redesign. But the 3DS is a nice looking piece of hardware, so I expect its new version will come closer to SP’s 2 years after the GBA launch as opposed to the DS Lite’s 18 months after the original monstrosity.

Add that to my need for a new DS anyway as now both my shoulder buttons are busted, the 3DS is a no-brainer.

That being said, I’m not hand-over-heels for the thing either. If Pilot Wings wasn’t a launch title, then I wouldn’t even consider buying it day one, and as it stands, I’m still on the fence. I’m particularly broke, and StarCraft II, Pokémon Black and White, and the Team Ico collection are all easily higher on my priority list.

The fact is that Nintendo has a great track record for software on their handhelds, and I’m very pleased with the DS brand overall. I have my PS3 for a great online experience, and I’ve never imported a game in my life, so the only hitch for me is the console’s battery life.

The fact is that Nintendo’s home console really isn’t much of a console at all. Excepting the phenomenal Super Mario Galaxy games, there isn’t too much going for that system and its unorthodox controller. Nintendo’s DS line has its share of gimmicks, but the truth is that it is the better place for a traditional gamer experience. The NGP, however, has the somewhat bizarre problem of having a completely wonderful counterpart system, and thus the portable feels a little redundant.

But who knows? Maybe this is the generation that will see Sony claim the section of my heart reserved for handheld gaming. But as it stands, the only software that has my attention is on the DS. Plus, it’ll be nice to finally be able to play the DS games I have that require the shoulder buttons.

The Adventures of Ethos in New York: The System Itself

Monday, January 31st, 2011

*If you notice, it’s not Friday when this article was posted. However, I don’t want to change it, so just keep in mind that half of this was written before the weekend and half on Monday*

I’m sitting at work on a Friday (this isn’t a common occurrence for me, I’m spoiled), but I’m so behind on Riddlethos that I’m determined to write something anyway. It’s officially Dead Space 2 Week (as evidenced by Riddles’ awesome impressions/comparisons below), but that doesn’t mean that the Riddlethos Awards are over! Oh no, they’re over when we say they’re over, damn it! (See, Riddles, I can do hilarious parenthetical comedy too).

Anyhoo, I’d love to tell you more of my ridiculous adventures in New York, and my plan was to do that first, but I might as well talk about my experience with the 3DS before I flat-out forget about it.

I apologize in advance for those annoying red bars. I'd be scared of Nintendo's wrath if I edited them.

Ocarina of Time

This is the biggie. I played this demo 3 times. The first girl told me I wasn’t allowed headphones, but by the third time I was able to gleefully listen to the Kokori theme loudly in my ears. Although that made me smile even more, I actually don’t think the music got any sort of upgrade. In fact, I’m almost certain the music is exactly the same.

But everything else did. The upgraded graphics look so nice in motion, yet still instill the exact mood of the original. I still have every corner memorized, and anticipate every rupee placement. If anything felt different at all it was Link’s sidejump and backflip.

The animation is definitely smoother, so I’m not sure if it was that difference playing tricks on me, but the aforementioned actions seemed to take a little longer to perform. This isn’t necessarily a positive or negative if it’s even the case. It’s just a (potential) observation.

One other big plus: touch screen menus. Easier to access and maneuver. You still set two items to two buttons, but you can assign two more to touch-only buttons. Very convenient and it has been confirmed to work with the iron boots. Old news, maybe, but good news.

It probably doesn’t even need to be said that the gyro-sensor-to-aim stuff is really dumb, but you can luckily just use the analog stick. Although it seems to move annoyingly slowly. Hopefully there’ll be an option for that in the game. Options were disabled in the demo.

The 3D looks great, although I imagine I’ll only be using 3D about 25% of my total time with the 3DS. It’s just a bit more exhausting. Impressive, yes, but not necessary all the time.

Of course, that experience could be because of my lack of sleep, breakfast, and potentially even sober state of mind. BUT MORE ON THAT LATER.

Conclusion: Ocarina of Time’s awesome.

Can't wait for this.

Pilot Wings Resort

This was my second favourite demo. I don’t think I’ve ever sung my praises to Pilot Wings 64 on this site, but I fucking love that game. I’ve sunk countless hours into it. I miss the days when I’d only have one game to intimately get to know. I would try and retry those missions over and over. My brothers and I would compete for better scores. It’s all the game I needed for a long time. Yeah, it looks like shit, but it plays wonderfully.

The 3DS game seems to be exactly the same. It was easily the worst looking game there from a graphical standpoint, but just from a short demo, my addiction to the N64 version started to resurface.

I only played the jetpack demo, but trying to softly land on targets as quickly as possible is still the challenge it was before. You have to manage speed and height as well as fight against the wind. In addition to those same challenges from the N64 game, there are new bonus point balls to fly through in transit to your next target. The possibilities for high scores and speed runs with this simple addition made me very excited.

Pilot Wings is the only game that I played in which the 3D truly provides a benefit. Judging the distance to a target took no guesswork. Only skill with the jetpack’s boosters. And I guess I lost most of that skill since 1996, but I’ll get it back.

Another picture of OoT because why not?

The Other Stuff

Street Fighter IV looked really good. The animations were nice and it controlled well. The 3D is completely pointless in a 2D fighter. If anything it just made me distracted by the popping backgrounds. I’d play with 3D off if I were a Street Fighter guy.

Madden. Who cares? But again, a game to show that the 3DS can make some nice looking images.

Kid Icarus. Yes, this goes in “The Other Stuff”. It was incredibly underwhelming. It was flashy and fast and a complete bitch to control. I only played 5 minutes or so, but still: Big meh.

Some other demo stuff. There was some submarine game played with the gyroscope. It was accurate, but who cares? I’m not going to be spinning around in my chair to play a demo.

Also something called “AR Games”. Meaning Augmented Reality Games. Another thing I don’t care about, but it definitely made for a better demo. Basically you put a card on a table and the 3DS camera shoots that card and the screens show the output. Then the system interacts with the card to make it look like shit is coming out of it. Because the screen of the system is actually showing what’s in front of you, it is pretty cool to see a dragon come out of nowhere. But it’s a total gimmick with no legs to make any sort of full game. Fun for the day, but nothing more.

Didn't get to play this unfortunately

The System Itself

It’s basically a DS in design. Same basic size as a DSi. Better stylus (extendable), and a great analog stick. Truly. It’s smooth and accurate. Miles better than the PSP nub. Although the NGP ones are looking slick too even if I have no interest in that system yet.

The 3D is what everybody says. It works. It looks good. And except for the single aforementioned instance, there’s no examples for its necessity yet.

However, let it be said that while in the Deku Tree – jumping over a ledge while looking down a big drop with the 3D turned on all the way – the effect was very impressive. I spent about 30 seconds just jumping back and forth over a ledge. So there is at least potential for very visually appealing stuff.

What I Wish Was There

Paper Mario. Star Fox. Mario Kart. Even Kingdom Hearts: Dumber Name. Was disappointed that it wasn’t there.

OH RIGHT!

They also were playing movie trailers in 3D. And let me tell you, watching the trailer for Yogi Bear in 3D without glasses was the most confusing experience ever. I was so simultaneously impressed and disgusted that I truly didn’t know what to feel.

But it’s Monday now! I have to attach pictures to this shit and finally post it before Riddles murders me in my sleep!

The Adventures of Ethos in New York: Preview

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

In case you forgot what it looks like.

I’m quite sick from my New York trip (you’ll have a better idea why in the pieces to come), and so I tried to get today off work to rest and have more time to write-up stuff for you guys. No dice, soldier. And I’m remembering a lot of plans for this weekend, so I’m going to be way more busy than I’d like.

STILL! I have much to discuss from my trip, and while I don’t have much time now, I’m going to at least paste the notes I took in the press conference. I didn’t even know it was going to be a press conference at all, much less one with Reggie, so it took me by surprise. So I decided to take notes like a liveblog even though it wasn’t one. So here’s the copy/paste of that:

-presentation about to start. Cramped seating. Two presentation
screens. GET IT?! Isn’t Ninty clever?

-recapping e3 reveal. News clips.

-Reggie!!

-blahblah

-talking about Mario64?

-talking about waggle “and that brings us to today.” Yikes.

-talking about taking 3D pictures of my kids. I don’t have kids, Reggie.

-Announcing price today. Launch date. Launch games.

-2gig card with system.

-Showing home menu. Looks like the Wii

-green light: local connectivity.

-”It’s a game changer” is their big thing.

-talking games now.

-Pilot Wings at launch!

-nintendogcatsblahblah

-The tech for the game actually sounds cool. Face recognition. Still don’t really care.

-Steel Diver game? Just a tech demo before. Full game now.

-I get to play Zelda today. Booya!

-kid Icarus too. But I hear that controls like crap.

-3rd party now. Dead or Alive. Developer video. I love the Japanese language.

-Sports games lalala. Peter Moore video.

-okay, feeling hungover now. Street Fighter IV video.

-ooo, spectator mode! Online play.

-price coming…

-between launch and e3: 30 games available. Apparently.

-ooo! Built-in stats! And a pedometer? That gives me in-game currency? What?

-New Mii creator with picture import.

-Finally seems a little more social. Miis will swap in Street Pass
including ‘last game played’.

-talking about AR games? I missed that.

-change to friend codes. No more software-specific codes. Make friends
online, no need to necessarily enter codes. You can see which friends
are online. Way more community than anything Nintendo has done, that’s for sure.

-For me, this is makes the Wii even more irrelevant.

-easier digital game downloads. New and virtual console titles. New
store looks improved for Nintendo. Don’t know if it’ll be the psn
store, but definitely better than before.

-cost isssssss…

-$250! Not 300.

-March 27 launch.

150 ds stations. I’mma go play!

And that’s all I wrote! Spoilers: Kid Icarus DOES control like crap. More in this series as soon as I can.

Quickie

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Love you guys. Just got back. Exhausting time. Full impressions of the press conference, event, and all the games I played tomorrow. Too pooped to even find a picture of a tired dude and post it.