Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Playstation Plus is the best investment you can make if you own a PS3

While it has faded a bit over time I have to confess I am still a Sony fanboy.  Aside from Bethesda games (which run like shit on PS3 due to lack of skill on that platform) and the Mass Effect series if a game is multi-platform I get it on PS3.  I am currently on my second PS3 and my fourth Xbox 360.  To add context to the disparity on replacing hardware I bought an Xbox nearly 18 months AFTER I got my PS3.  So in 6 years of owning a PS3 it was replaced once and in 4 and a half years I went through 4 Xbox consoles.  Presumably I now have the uber stable Xbox 360 design so I should be good, but still my confidence in the hardware is not terribly high.

When my PS3 died, it was a catastrophic death, the dreaded Yellow light of death.  Because I had the original phat 60Gb system with backwards compatibility I was loathe to give it up.  So I got a local repair guy to fix it, he warned me it would be temporary, but it was worth it to get backups started on my PS3.  You see I had 4 1/2 years of saves on the system, probably in excess of 400 hours of gameplay that would have been lost.  Once I had my PS3 back home I started a rigorous backup schedule and when it inevitably failed I bought a PS3 Slim, restored my backups and discovered that not all games work on the backup system.

I had looked at Playstation Plus in the past, it offered some bonuses in the form of initially bland free games, but the key at the time for me was the cloud based saves and automatic updates.  Nothing is more annoying on the PS3 then putting a game in and waiting 30 minutes for updates to be applied.  With PS Plus these updates (Game and PS3 core) are applied overnight so your system is always up to date.  Cloud saves is another key, all important games are stored to the cloud meaning I will always have a backup of my saves.  I subscribed immediately and as the months went by it became more and more worth it.  The free games and perks such as discounts became deeper every month and at current count I have gotten the following games for free:

-Comet Crash
-All the Magic Orbz expansions
-Sonic the Hedgehog 2
-Crash Team Racing
-Crash Bandicoot 2
-Hydrophobia: Prophecy
-Entire Jurassic Park the Game
-Entire Back to the Future the Game
-Marvel Pinball
-Spyro: Year of the Dragon
-Syphon Filter 2
-Final Fantasy V
-Far Cry 2
-Battle Fantasia
-The Simpsons Arcade game
-Hamsterball
-Fatal Inertia EX
-Mahjong tales
-Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars
-UmJammer Lammy
-Splinter Cell Essentials
-Shank 2
-Betas for Starhawk and Ghost Recon Future Warrior
-Plus heavy discounts on Final Fantasy games and tons of dynamic themes.

Many of these games are truly excellent and this month it gets even better with the following being given free:

-Awesomenauts
-Trine 2
-Rock of Ages
-Castlevania SOTN and Chrinicles

I mean this is almost ridiculous.  So many free games and services that actually improve the experience.  Compare this to my Xbox Live account that gets sporadic and not very good discounts and online play.  I get that for free on PlayStation already.  I won't knock the Xbox live experience, it is stable, and cross game chat is amazing, but $50/year amazing?  No.

I will gladly pay $50 per year for PlayStation plus for the games, discounts and features.  My Xbox 360 gold account lapses every month and I wait till offer me live for a month at $1, that is how little the service means to me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw

PAX East was full of games that were mainstream, indy, or just plain crazy. Lollipop Chainsaw is a game that doesn't innovate or break new ground, but it is a fun, crazy, and over the top sexy game that is worth checking out once it releases in June for Xbox 360PS3, and PC.

The setting should have prepared me for the game, in the Warner Bros. booth there was a short school bus that had been decorated and built just to demo the game. There was also a very authentic model named Jessica Nigri cosplaying as Juliet Starling who caused some waves (and controversy) in her revealing outfits. The fact that the enigmatic and brilliant Goichi Suda, better known as Suda 5,1 was there made the experience that much weirder and more wonderful.

Lollipop Chainsaw is the newest endeavour from Suda 51's Grasshopper Manufacture and it is one he is very passionate about. The game revolves around Juliet Starling, who has many of the traits of a stereotypical blonde cheerleader but is also from a long line of zombie hunters. When a major zombie outbreak occurs and her boyfriend is attacked, she casts a spell to keep his head alive and sets out with her magical chainsaw and pom-poms to destroy the zombies and set things right.

I asked Suda 51 why he switched to a female lead after having such masculine leads for No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned and he was very passionate about his reasons:

"We had a thought to have a normal girl as the hero and as we started designing her all the components came together in perfect ways. She is strong, sexy, and has such a great personality that comes through on the screen"

Suda also mentioned that as the character of Juliet started coalescing everybody at Grasshopper and Warner Bros. fell in love with her and could envision her as the next Lara Croft. She is certainly an attractive character and effective on screen. She is armed with a chainsaw that can be used in light and strong attacks, as well her pom-pom attacks can stun enemies making them easier to kill.

The weapons and attacks are used effectively throughout the game. At certain points you need to use your chainsaw to cut barricades and there are fun mini-games to perform that action in a visceral way. During combat if you stun enemies and kill three or more at once you get a glitter attack that generates bonuses and a really cool effect and animation sequences. The combat is quick, brutal, and frankly a lot of fun.

As this is a Grasshopper Manufacture game there is of course some crazy off the wall gameplay mechanics and your severed head boyfriend is at the heart of many of them. At key moments you can place his head on various zombie bodies (once you decapitate them of course) and a rhythm mini-game is triggered. With Juliet cheering, you progress through a QTE (Quick Time Event) to make him dance until he reaches the end goal, which may be a point he has to chuck Juliet over or a barricade that needs destroying. The sequences are so crazy and funny that I actually got over my normal hatred of QTE's and enjoyed playing it. Seeing zombies dance never gets old.

I asked Suda about the severed head and if there were any things that were simply too crazy to add to the game:

"We originally had some really crazy things you could do with your boyfriend's head, most are in the game but one was not allowed. We had Juliet setting up zombies like bowling pins and you putting your hand into the head and throwing it like a bowling ball making them explode. It was a little over the top and we took it out. But there are many more crazy things you can do with the head that you will be surprised and happy to see."

Lollipop Chainsaw also features coin drops that you can use to earn weapons, outfits, and moves within the game. This makes the experience of killing zombies in creative ways that much better as there are rewards to deepen the experience.

The main character itself is a very sexualized character playing to all the stereotypes of the typical American Cheerleader and I asked Suda how she came about and if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an inspiration:

"She [Buffy] was definitely someone that we thought of as the character developed, but the idea of Juliet has been with me for a while and I was excited to design her. She is a typical high school cheerleader but she also has all these cool powers and weapons and kicks butt. We are really hopeful for this character and the game and excited for it to come out. The team is working very hard and I am proud of our work."
Playing the game myself I have to say that I am looking forward to it as well. The action is fast and furious and the characters and scenarios are so over the top that I couldn't help but grin as I tore my way through waves of zombies. Suda 51 told me that he thinks this will be their biggest game yet, looking at the inherent mass appeal and quality of the game itself I am inclined to agree!

Everything in this description for the new Batman cartoon makes me want to barf, I have highlighted the worst pieces...

cool, new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise, Beware the Batman incorporates Batman's core characters with a rogues gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City's criminal underworld led by the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this action-packed detective thriller deftly redefines what we have come to know as a "Batman show." Featuring cutting-edge CGI visuals to match the intricate twists and turns of the narrative, Batman steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight for an entirely new generation of fans. With WBA's Sam Register executive producing, and Batman Beyond's Glen Murakami and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated's Mitch Watson producing, Beware the Batman, based on characters from DC Comics, is coming soon to Cartoon Network!


And then there is the art style, triple Barf, people need to be fired, both for the look of Batman, the affront that is Alfred firing twin pistols and the villains...what the hell are they thinking.  This is hurting my brain and soul...




I mean look at this crap!  They are going to make one of the most iconic and cool superheroes of all time fight someone named Proffessor Pyg (nice spelling) and Mister Toad (why not Toed)?  Really?  This series needs to die a slow death.