Monday, January 30, 2012

New Racing Games: Red Dead Redemption, Call Of Doody, & More

AWESOME!!!  Game devs are finally catching on to the need for more car driving/racing action in our vidya games.  You must sit through all these videos--watch until the end!!

Looks like something I'd do if I were jerking off in Unity.

As usual, keep it fake & gay.

Now this, on the other hand, is LEGIT ^

No really, I remember the car maps from Counter-Strike, those were PIMP...

A rally game made entirely out of the Half-Life Gold-src engine...very naice!

EDIT: S*** I know this post is old but I don't care.  Tony Hawk's was strange when the Scumbag Steve antagonist was named "Eric," therefore tarnishing my good name:

He's flippin a bitch!!

Leaf Blowing Simulator???

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Super Sprint Still LIVES!!!

I know it's shallow to promote my work repeatedly, but this is too good to pass up.  The Super Sprint remake (right panel has the download link) will never go away in my mind.  I really like what I did with it.  In December, during the heavy production phase of the game, I joked about buying the actual Super Sprint trademark so I could license the game on my own.  As you know, Super Sprint was once owned by Atari, picked up by Midway, and now Midway is dead.  So the Super Sprint trademark is in limbo...right?

I recently discovered a website that lists all trademarks & patents filed in the US.  I was curious so I typed in Super Sprint and now I know who owns the rights to the game:

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT.  Apparently, they picked it up in 2006 and have done nothing with it.  Sure, a Super Sprint/Spy Hunter GBA port was released in '05 but that's it.  Nothing about the game remains.

I tell you this--if I so felt like it, I'd probably pay at most four digits in US Dollars for the Super Sprint trademark.  I know WB is stingy but not nearly as much as evil Viacom.  But just imagine for a sec...I could own the rights to a classic arcade game.  I'd have it for ten years and that could be my claim to fame.  Yeah that's would say "Who the hell are you?" and then BAM, I'd whip out that trademark and they'd be like "DAYUM, this dude's the man."

But that's besides the point.  It would be a bit impractical to own the license.  I could change the game's name to "Hyper Sprint," ditch the music & interface, and work with that.  Besides, "Hyper Sprint" logically makes sense since I'm going above and beyond the scope of the original Super Sprint game.  I don't even know that much about law with regards to patents & trademarks so maybe I'm overdoing it.  Seriously, though, DOES ANYONE CARE ABOUT OWNING THE SUPER SPRINT TRADEMARK BESIDES ME???

But no, I'll tell you this.  Version 1.0 of Super Sprint is really nice but it can be vastly worked upon.  More stages, more features, better sound effects, more cars on the screen, stat-keeping.  Polish & optimize the game.  V1.0 doesn't have sloped turns, sliding doors, or ramps.  I can picture in my head the means in which I'd go about it so it wouldn't be as hard as it looks.  I'll give you a hint: bump maps.  BUMP MAPS.... gets better though.  At FIEA, we have a long-term assignment for Programming class.  It's a "personal project" that involves diving into a specific aspect of programming.  It was a really close call between car physics (it would be in some crummy rendering engine, not in Unity or UDK or anything) or online gaming.  I went with online netcode.  You know what that means...?


It's not going to be easy one damn bit but it can be done!  After that, we get a small team to cover the art & advertising aspects of the game then WE PRESS START TO RICH!!!


I'm probably getting way over my head but a Super Sprint remake is one of those things that would revive my faith in the game industry once again--up there with a new Daytona, Shenmue, San Francisco Rush, Advance Wars, Monster Rancher, et. al.


Also, I have some sucky news...turns out that the Rolling Start website (arcade racing game news) has been taken down.  "Account Suspended" my ass.  Hopefully they will get back online and start posting again.  Lord knows we can't lose any more racing game websites, especially with the abysmal state of the genre these days.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Real World Implifications: Heavy Rain

First I talked about Shadows of the Colossus (this game sucks) and now I'm going to talk about Heavy Rain (2010).  Like SotH, I haven't played this game but I found some of the themes mildly interesting.  Actually, I think I prefer Heavy Rain more purely because it's in the real-world and actually feels more relate able.  But that's just me.  ONCE AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A GAME REVIEW.  And I know David Cage is a conceited dick, don't need to remind me.  THIS IS SEGA-RELATED IF YOU JUST BEAR WITH ME FOR A SECOND.

A beautiful game...if you like crap olive/brown colors, that is.

In case you have no clue what this game's about, let me clue you into to the prelude: the game focuses on Ethan Mars, a family man with a wife and two sons.  One of his sons, Jason, gets lost in a mall and is struck by a car and killed.  Ethan leaps in the way as Jason is struck and is knocked into a coma for three months.  He awakes to find his life miserable, his wife left and he hardly gets along with his other son, Shaun.

Bonding time between a father and his son.

Then, as you may guess, Shaun is KIDNAPPED BY THE ORIGAMI KILLER.  OH SNAP!!  Not wanting to lose his other son, Ethan goes on a wild goose chase trying to save Shaun.  The Origami Killer kidnaps little boys (oh dear) and drowns them when the rain reaches six inches high.  There's four playable characters--Ethan the dad, Madison the photojournalist babe (reminds me of a white Alyx Vance for some reason), Jayden the FBI agent who looks like Neo from the Matrix, and Shelby, the fat detective (f*** yeah, I root for fat people).


The gameplay is entirely based on QTE's.  Just like Shenmue.  Whether or not it's fighting off bad guys, finding clues, or cooking eggs, it's all based on arbitrary button pressing.  Thankfully, it's not crap QTE's like in NFS: The Run.  The QTE interface is really neat--icons float around the screen--better than a flat image of the button you have to press.  You can tell the devs put a lot of time into the interface and it pays off.  Eventually, if you play your cards right, all the characters will converge on Shaun's location before he is drowned by the Origami Killer.

Like Shadows of the Colossus, this game is really dark and, in some places, really violent.  Plus it entirely cutscene-based so it's all about those QTE's which can get tedious or old after a while.  For that alone, it really makes me not want to play it.  But it also has its own intriguing parts which I'll mention now:


Ethan receives a bunch of tasks from the Origami Killer, written inside origami paper figurines.  For each goal he completes, he receives a hint on where Shaun's location is.  He has five goals.  If he completes all five, he's given the address to his exact location.  It's entirely possible for Ethan to skip one or more of these goals but that means fewer hints for him to use.  Here are the goals:

1. Drive five miles along a highway into oncoming traffic.  Channeling his inner NFS skills, he dodges traffic, construction workers, and cops...  Regardless of your ability to do the QTE's, Ethan won't crash, he'll just rub off the other cars.  Eventually, Ethan rolls his car after completing the task.  Then he must escape NFS: The Run style but rather than dodge a train, his car catches on fire.  The clue was inside the GPS all this time, rofl.

2. He visits an old warehouse and crawls through a narrow tunnel full of broken glass with only a match to light the way.  Then he must navigate through an electric fence to the second clue.  Shocking.

3. Eat a plate full of worms (sorry this ain't Fear Factor) In a decrepit old apartment, Ethan has five minutes to cut off his pinky finger in front of a webcam.  Find knives, saws, pliers, hot irons to cauterize the wound, etc. to help make it easier.  You don't see the cut but the game basically freaks out as you try to do this.  Ethan's reaction is anything but pleasant.

4. Ethan is provided with a handgun and must break into a man's apartment and execute him at gunpoint.  The man is apparently a drug dealer who sells crack to little kids.  Sure he's a bad man but...can you go through with taking another man's life?

5. The most fun of them all--Ethan is provided with a vial of poison that will kill him in an hour--enough time to save Shaun but that's it.  Can you go through with it?  Get this though...the poison isn't actually lethal though Ethan obviously thinks it does at first.

There's much more to the game than these trials.  Ethan runs from the cops and Jayden & Madison search for clues and get into fight sequences.  In the end, if you play your cards right, Ethan finds out who the Origami Killer is and...:

It's Shelby the fat detective (damn, and I really wanted to cheer for the fat one thinks they can win but I do!).  Here's the reason why he would do such a thing...When he was a kid, his brother drowned while his drunk father refused to help.  Therefore, Shelby has been searching for a father who would go to great lengths to save his son to compensate for the father who did nothing to help his brother.

I'm willing to bet that this is EXACTLY the same mindset that Sega has.  Think about it--Sega got jacked up, lost $1.5 billion and went third party.  They were the laughing stock of the game industry.  They lost EVERYTHING.  So Sega is very stingy on the games they will release.  They're looking for brave souls who are willing to drive off the cliff too just to make a couple of games.  You want Daytona 3, Shenmue 3--this is your only shot.  Willing to go through the trials of sticking it out in the game industry for years and years until Sega calls you up.  DO NOT DOUBT ME.

If Sega had to give me five trials, this is what they would be:

1. Play Fast & the Furious for six hours straight.
2. Visit the EA studios.  Shout about how much Need for Speed blows and how much better Daytona & OutRun are.  Run for dear life from angry employees and security.
3. Get schooled by a Signapore pro at Daytona USA multiplayer, therefore scarring your confidence for decades.
4. Light an old Daytona USA 2 cabinet on fire.
5. Delete this blog permanently with no traces remaining.

Man, I'm pissin' all over these "emotional" games.  If I want an emotional plot--how about I just play Daytona, or Scud Race, or OutRun.  You're a driver who's risking it all to come in first place.  The course is tough but it's a beautiful day.  You need to be optimistic through dark times.  So go away, all of you.  Enough of this crap.

White people.

Real World Implifications: Shadows Of The Colossus

I know I often come on this blog smilin' and laughin' but it's not always like that.  And as you get older, it becomes apparent that you have to struggle (to varying degrees) to get what you want.  Hey, look no further than the Bible and the crucifixion of Jesus--life is NOT EASY and if you think you have it bad, oh it could be worse.  The things you want the most are always the hardest to get.  And video games prove this.  What does this have to do with Sega racers?  I'll get to that in a sec...

Most EVERY video game requires the protagonist to go on some sort of "epic" journey to accomplish something great.  This usually means killing bad guys and going through copious amounts of pain.  This ranges from the docile (in Mario/Sonic, you touch a bad guy and fly off the screen) to the mundane (Zelda/Half-Life with the beeping when you're about to die) to even worse (just about any M-rated game with blood and guts).  But a lot of games seem to obligate protagonists into action because of the whole "save the world" scenario--if they don't do something, then life as we know it is "over."

But to see someone act on their own for some personal thing or reward, something that you may not see worthwhile, something very unlikely or ridiculous to achieve, is much more commendable.  I'd like to talk about two games here to make a point.  I haven't played any of these and please don't get on here and say "oh man, you ought to play these" or any of that nonsense cause I'm not going to take it.

The first of the games is Shadows of the Colossus (2005).  Oh geez, I can't believe I'm talking about the game.  PLEASE NOTE this is not a review of the game.  ere's the summary: You're this dude with no name ("Wander," I guess) and there's Sleeping Beauty who needs to be woken up.  Since you're no Prince Charming, you make a deal with the gods that by killing 16 humongous monstrosity beats (the "Colossi"), he'll promise to revive your girlfriend.  And off you go.  That's it, no real backstory, you save a girl.

This is the most beautiful game ever made...or not.

You only get three things--a sword, a bow & arrow, and a horse.  Kill the 16 Colossi in the world by climbing on them and stabbing them in the face with your sword.  There's no other bad guys to kill in the game.  Colossi on the ground, in the air, and under water.

Four problems with this pic: 1. Too much brown.  2. Enough with the G-D swords in games.  3. That huge ass monster is pissing me off.  4. There's no cars in it.  5. It's not a Sega game.

And that's all I can really talk about in terms of gameplay.  TBQH, I have little to no interest in playing the game and I know I'll receive tons of hate mail for this game.  I know about the game--it's puzzle-based combat and has great cinematics but that's all I really see.  The idea of playing as this raggedly-little punk who's able to slay giant beasts really puts me to shame.  Seriously--I'm tired of playing as characters who are much more able-bodied than I am because it makes me feel like a wimp.


...but the gameplay is not the point.  There's one thing about the game that I find interesting and it drives home the point I'm trying to get to.  Over the process of the game, as you kill more Colossi, you'll start to notice a change in Wander.  He looks dirtier, his clothes are torn, his skin is pale, his hair is black.  This captures the essence of a programmer's work life in progress: he shows up to work all stoked to work on the game.  Then over time, his eyes get beady, his hair grows long, he turns pale from lack of sunlight, he doesn't bathe, he gets fat from lack of physical activity.  All the meanwhile, the producers & artists are yucking it up with jokes and food from Popeye's and Subway.

Surprisingly, your girlfriend starts to come to life in the process (looks healthier).  So the running theme here is that you're basically sacrificing yourself for a girl.  Oh, how romantic.  But we see this crap all the time in the real world...people getting beating up for a cause they are passionate about.

Then what happens at the end of the game.  Well, your horse falls into a chasm then Wander turns into a zombie with horns and is shot with an arrow and killed on the spot.  Game over man.  But it turns out alright in the end--the girl wakes up, the horse somehow lives, and Wander is reincarnated as a baby.  BEST GAME EVER MADE.

I'll tell you what though--the month-long sprint to finish Super Sprint (ha) for school was as close to grueling as it got.  My game exceeded the instructor's expectations but I kept going.  So after I was done, I simply collapsed.  Oh boy, expect this to happen many, many more times in my career.  That's the breaks.

Let's have some fun shall we?  Between school, paying bills, being ping-ponged around EA for years and years while waiting for Sega to start hiring again, and answering my mom's calls every 30 minutes, the goal to make Daytona USA 3...err, just for fun, let's say Shenmue 3.  Yeah!  So Sega ain't buyin' it.  But you can go on a second quest--the video game gods ask you to slay the video game giants (Colossi) on behalf of Sega!!  And then, and only then, with Shenmue 3 live.  Here's what you got (EDIT: NOW WITH DLC BOSSES, IT'S AWESOME BABY!!!):

1. Atari - A giant 5200 console.  Really, it's that easy...
2. Tecmo - I don't know...a giant pair of boobs, it can be anything.
3. Zynga - A large farm.  I'm not kidding--a farm.
4. Konami - Metal Gear.
5. Rockstar - The Unstoppable Trolley of Doom from San Andreas.
DLC BOSS: Midway - Lizzy from Rampage: World Tour.
6. Namco-Bandai - Giant Pac-Man ghosts.
DLC BOSS: Lucas-Arts - The giant baby from Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
7. Square-Enix - Insert any generic RPG villain here.
8. Valve - Climb to the top of the Citadel (using portals) and fight Gabe Newell wielding a heavy machine gun.
9. Game Freak - Ho-Oh, Lugia, Entei, one of those legendary Pokemon guys, you pick.
DLC BOSS: Bethesda - A giant dragon.  No surprise there.
10. Activision - Giant Bobby Kotick with LASER EYES!!!
DLC BOSS: Bungie - The Flood Overmind.
11. Blizzard - A Protoss Carrier.  No, not Diablo or the Lich King, that's garbage.
12. Capcom - Giant green Zangief.
13. Electronic Arts - A giant John Madden shooting turduken and Tough-Actin Tinactin at you.
14. Sony - Giant Enemy Crab.
15. Microsoft - Attack of the little kids on Xbox Live!  Now Super-Sized!!!
16. Nintendo - A daunting Bowser/Ganon fusion on top of a scary castle.  What else did you expect.

Then after you kill them all, Sega gets taken out with a sniper rifle and then Shenmue 3 is revived but you've left a trail of death & destruction (Sega included) all for your sordid dreams.  The Internet hates your fanboyism.  Life is great.

It is finished.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Virtua Racing Educational Video (With Music)!!!

School's occupying a lot of my time so don't expect a whole lotta posts in the future but here's a quick one since I got the time.

Thanks to anonymous poster "-1" for finding this video.  Now create a Google account and subscribe already.  But the video's fun AND educational!  It's about Virtua Racing.  Though it's mostly blabbering up until 2:00 minutes:

It rehashes on a couple of things I didn't know before (or forgot), such as the fact the game was a prototype and not meant to be released and the giant Joypolis 32-cabinet setups.  It was the first 3D racing game (Hard Drivin' doesn't count since it's a "simulator"), first 16:9 arcade game, and first racing game to feature four camera views.

This game doesn't get enough credit because of OutRun & Daytona but come on man, give Virtua Racing props.  It even has funky music:

Who's the guy who goes "kkhhaann??"  Oh, it's Captain Kirk.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mini RC Cars Appreciation Post

You know what's one of my old favorites?  Miniature remote-controlled cars.  And I'm not talking about foot-long ones, I'm talking 2-inch ones (length of a AA battery).

I had a couple of tiny cars like this many years ago (a blue Subaru Impreza) but since then, I've lost them.  Either that or they stopped working.  But then I found one cool car on eBay for about $12.  These are Shen Qi Wei racers (yes, they have no desire to conceal the "Made in China" label).  There's many other mini RC brands out there to check out but this is just one of 'em (EDIT: Well that was embarrassing...I stopped typing mid-sentence again.)

This is just a demo.  The car models are rather nifty.  Hey look, a Ferrari F40.  I can't tell what the other car is.

How the car works is you stick the car to your controller for just a minute to charge the thing.  Then you put the car down and drive it for about 5+ minutes.  Rinse and repeat.  It doesn't get any more complicated than that.

My main concern with the car is that it would be fragile or just not work.  Ever since I opened the thing up and drove it around, it worked like a charm.  They zip around rather quickly.  Also, I was worried that the car would begin to veer one direction by default but it doesn't take much nudging on the underneath switch to get it working fine.  It's good.  It's fallen off my desk a few times (I cringe a bit when that happens) but it seems to be perfectly fine.

This is the car I bought.  It's a BMW.  On my car, the antenna is much longer and the stickers aren't as well-aligned as you see here.  Apparently, the Chinese worker just slapped those stickers on without regard to positioning.  BTW, as you can see, this car is POWERED BY GASOLINE.

This is another car.  I can't tell what this is but the paint looks awfully similar to the Celica rally car of Sega Rally fame.  So I might buy this car too if I feel like it.  This car HAS BRAKES ON IT.

Anyway, if you can't tell by now, you can buy these cars from this site.  Yes, free advertising, now gimme a cigar.  You can get four cars for $45.  Doesn't sound too bad.  There's a Skyline, a Mercedes CLK-GTR, a BMW, and another one of those funny Skyline things.  There's other models on that site to buy.  I think there's other Shen Qi Wei models out there but you have to look hard on eBay/retail sites. doesn't sell the F40 so you have to look hard for it.

Now for my main caveats with these things.  Don't get me wrong, they're awesome but I can't give anything a pass these days.  The controller has four buttons--left, right, forwards, backwards.  Problem is there's no "throttle" so it's either 0% or 100% speed.  The cars' have very twitchy handling in that they can corner on a dime.  That's good on some occasions but it's weird since real-life cars don't turn THAT fast.  If you drive on a clean, smooth surface, it has the best top-speed as well as easy cornering.  So don't drive it on carpet, you morons.

And probably the biggest caveat of all with these adorable little cars is that I'm afraid I'll break 'em.  Therefore I hesitate to drive them and thus I become sad and depressed.  Like they'll get dirty, something will get stuck in the wheel axles, or they'll start veering off uncontrollably.  I've popped the frame off these cars and sort of know how to assemble/disassemble them so repairs are doable.  But I hate to resort to these things.  Oh well, if you spend all your time worrying about breaking your stuff, then you'll never have fun.  Even if the cars break, they still look cool as a normal toy/paper weight!

Seriously, if someone made a solid mini RC car--one that's durable, quick, handles perfectly, features many different car frames/parts, and has long battery life, I'd buy it at a big price (about $70).  I want one of those so badly.


Holy s***, Initial D.  Also comes with entire Akina track replica (another $500).

Imagine that...a 23 year old making a big deal out of little toy cars.  I don't one cares about cool stuff like this.  It's all about Skyrim and Mass Effect these days--AW HELL NAW, NOT ON MY WATCH.

EDIT: An addendum to this post.  After doing some more browsing on eBay (the best place right now to find these cars cheap), it turns out the Shen Qi Wei brand isn't exclusive: there's more brands of "identical" cars out there.  They use the same body frame and controller.  Brands like Panther, Thor, etc.  So basically, they technically are knockoffs, but that would suggest ripping off something of greater quality, and as far as I know, they're exactly the same format and price:

Doesn't really bother me.  It means more variety.  Plus they use the same charger so the cars are interchangeable.  As long as they're the same quality, then what's the big deal?  I'm buying more of these soon cause I'm an addict...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Initial D Appreciation Post

In case you haven't noticed, I added an Initial D pic to the sidebar.  For great justice.

To tell you the truth, if there's one Sega series I've stiffed that I regret, it's Initial D.

Let me explain.  Around 2005, when my beloved Daytona USA 2 cabinet was taken away from my local arcade, it was, in about a month or so, replaced by Initial D.  At the time, I had a bit of a grudge against Initial D.  Some reasons:

1. I saw Initial D as some "evildoer" that infringed on my ability to play Daytona USA 2.
2. It's not Daytona USA 2.
3. Because it's a "lousy" anime/manga game and that kind of turned me off at the time.

That's what so funny about Initial D.  Unlike Outrun, Daytona USA, and Sega Rally, Initial D is not an original Sega IP.  The manga/anime was introduced in 1995--the arcade version in 2001.  I have nothing against anime but it usually has to do with catgirls/robots/kamehameha's but this anime has nothing to do with it so that's great.  I know next to nothing about the plot but I can sum it up like this: "The Little AE86 That Could."


Now the AE86 has become synonymous with drifting.  And that's okay.  It's a cool little car.  It "trains the driver."  Drifting around the Akina and Happogahara.  That's grand.  There's some 30 Japanese cars in the game like the Skyline, Lancer, Supra, Miata--all the usual suspects.  But DAMN, I really wanted to go drifting in my '68 GTO...'s Fujimi Kaido all over again.

Initial D has already gone through six "stages" (remakes)--the latest in March 2011 (geez!!).  It still has a decent following in arcades.  I still believe there's an Initial D cabinet at my old arcade at Northshore Square Mall in Slidell, LA.  I've only played the game twice in my life.  Wow that's many Wonka bars did you buy?  TWO???  What do you mean you only opened two???

I wish I could get back into the game again, but I don't think I can go back to arcades.  For one, the game costs about 75 cents at least to play once.  Then there's the cards you can purchase for $1.50 that lets you save your car's data for any other Initial D cabinet out there.  I like it more than the local cabinet save games from Fast & Furious/Rush 2049 since you're stuck to one game and should the arcade operator wipe out the data, it's gone forever.  But I still question the durability of these cards.  I heard if you accidentally stick a magnet to it, it corrupts the data.  EDIT: Plus they can bend easily (they're not credit card thick).  There's no way to "backup" the cards elsewhere like files on your PC--when they're gone, they're gone.

I have one of these cards...some guy left one lying around in the arcade--a Honda S2000 with the name "MUNKY."

A shiatload of cards that aren't mine.  Well, even if the cards are useless, they still look cool.  Like baseball cards!

Now about the gameplay.  Initial D was developed by Sega Rosso, the same studio that made Sega Rally.  And what a coincidence--it handles most like Sega Rally.  You drive a car about 140 mph and the drifting is very subtle and not "forced" like in Daytona USA or OutRun.  You still use brakes/shifting/hard cornering to initiate drifts.  It feels like Gran Turismo but obviously much more drifty.  And you can bounce off the walls all willy nilly and you can't damage the car.

Game looks awesome.  My main complaint about the game is there's only two camera views, just like Sega Rally Revo (HA!).  The chase cam is too close to the car and it obstructs your vision too much.  The bumper cam is much more practical but I don't know...I hate not being able to see my car while driving.

Oh yeah, you check out these sweet Initial D deluxe cabinets?  They're 1:1 size car cabinets like you're actually there in the car!!  While Bunta is smoking a cigarette.  You can only find these cabinets in Sega Gameworks or Joypolis...they're that awesome.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, the drivers in this show are so ridiculous like Dragonball Z...but with cars instead of power levels.  Do they ever wreck in this show?  Does anyone die???

Initial D's funny.  Bear in mind that Namco has an Initial D equivalent called Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune.  Instead of racing through Japanese mountains, you race on highways.  Now this game ain't bad's not a Sega racer so it's automatically not as good, sorry.  Don't worry about the cops...if you go fast enough, they won't chase you.  Lousy cops need some police Porsches & McLarens, that's what they need.

THIS GAME HAS THE '71 SKYLINE IN IT???  Your move, Sega.

Back to Initial D.  I hope there's a good console equivalent to the arcade version.  From what I've heard, most console versions have subpar handling.  Though there's the "Extreme Stage" version on PS3...I don't know if it's the same thing.  I don't even have a PS3 at the moment.

There's not much else to say about the game.  I don't know enough about it but this game seems radical.  I should play it more.  Too bad the Fast & Furious pinheads are all over this game because it contains "epic drifting."  FnF Tokyo Drift ruined everything.  Sorry kids, but putting flame/drift decals on your car won't increase your horsepower by 50%.  But I know the Eurobeat soundtrack is groovy.  I'll leave you with that.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Report: History & Corporate Culture Of SEGA

Hey kids, I decided not to post on the 18th to protest, not really, I just was too tired to post again.

I wrote a 7-page "case studies" for school.  Most of this you may know but here's the history of Sega for you.  Hope nothing's factually incorrect.  Just a nice read I suppose.


To this day, Sega stands out as one of the truly unique game publishers of our time. From producing some of the hallmark titles of our time to their lowest points, there is always something unique to the corporation. Unlike other “picture-perfect” companies like Nintendo and Microsoft, Sega paved the way with unprecedented hardware and quirky titles at the cost of miserable failures. With headquarters in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Brentford (UK), Sega’s culture throughout the decades still stands and is very much applicable in business today.

Sega was initially founded in 1940 as a small company in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1951, it was moved to Tokyo and was given the name “Service Games.” The company distributed coin-operated devices such as jukeboxes and slot machines throughout Japan. Later it became involved in actual arcade development: Periscope, a 1966 submarine simulator, was the world’s first 25-cent arcade game. Eventually, in 1984, multibillion Japanese conglomerate CSK bought Sega and then the rest is history: a lavish history of arcade machines, home consoles, famous mascots, and a bad attitude.

In the mid 80’s, Sega had already released two home consoles: the SG-1000 and the Master System. While both paled in comparison to the NES in terms of popularity, it was Sega’s arcade division that truly made a splash. Back then, Sega of Japan hired a gentleman by the name of Yu Suzuki. Often dubbed as Sega’s answer to Shigeru Miyamoto, he was multitalented in terms of production and programming. After his first game Champion Boxing (1983), Sega granted him the opportunity to create his own game. Based on his experience with fast cars and bikes, Suzuki formed his own subsidiary of Sega (AM2) to produce Hang-On (1984), a motorbike arcade game which utilized parallax scrolling and a tilting bike cabinet. This game was wildly successful which led to create OutRun, After Burner, and Space Harrier, three games which used the same graphics engine and style. The uplifting music and vibrant colors set the tone for Sega from the start.

Suzuki’s endeavors would continue into the 90’s. Using his expertise in hardware design and in collaboration with General Electric Aerospace (later known as Lockheed Marin), his AM2 team crafted the “Model 1” hardware board which was primarily used in Virtua Fighter (1993) and Virtua Racing (1992), the first apparent fighting and racing games of the time. Suzuki’s serious tone to games would later continue into in the future and paved the way for Sega’s arcade dominance and design philosophy for some time.

Sega of Japan’s stroke of good fortune didn’t end with Suzuki. In 1991, programming assistant Yuji Naka was given the opportunity to program Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Sega’s tendency to reward programmers with their own games proved to be a huge hit as the Sonic character has become synonymous with Sega itself. The gracious Yuji Naka became the head of Sega’s Sonic Team subsidiary. Sonic the Hedgehog’s contrast to Super Mario of Nintendo fame would later reflect the two cultures of both clashing corporations.

Sega’s image was bolstered in the form of in-house competition. A great instance of this is the “war” between Toshihiro Nagoshi and Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Each recruited the assistance of Sega’s subsidiaries—Nagoshi to AM2, Mizugushi to AM3—to create their own arcade racing games. Nagoshi headed up Daytona USA (1994) while Mizugushi headed up Sega Rally (1995). At the time, Sega faced rival competition from other arcade developers such as Namco (Ridge Racer) and Midway (Cruis’n series). Neither game seemed to faze these two as they were interested in making games for the specific purpose of outdoing one another. With Suzuki as a mediator, it’s no surprise that both AM2 and AM3 arcade games from this period were some of the most critically acclaimed of all time thanks to this dichotomy.

Meanwhile, Sega of America’s campaign was in full swing, beginning with the Sega Genesis. While SoJ took a more serious approach to game design, SoA was much more laid-back and unorthodox. Developers of all types attended meetings vociferous and boorish, throwing out tons of ideas as mediators took notes. Anything was fair game for them. Needless to say, Sega became the “bad boy” of the gaming world as they tried to take out their rival, Nintendo.

Sega reached out with an edgy irreverence that captivated the 18+ year bracket. Campaign ads were launched with phrases like “Sega does what Nintendon’t” and the trademark “Sega Scream.” Even one infamous commercial boasted the Genesis’ “Blast Processing” power which was a completely made-up term for the sake of advertising. The Genesis was inundated with anticipated titles/sequels like Streets of Rage, ToeJam & Earl, and Sonic the Hedgehog which paled in comparison with Nintendo’s “clean” games like Mario or Zelda. To add to its edginess, Sega was more lenient on mature content as the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat featured more gore than the Super Nintendo version. Also, Sega recruited Michael Jackson to help design some of their games (Sonic 3, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker). The “cool” image stuck with Sega as focus groups proved that teenagers who owned Super Nintendo consoles were generally afraid to admit it.

However, Sega’s eagerness to produce a greater quantity of content (over quality) proved to be their Achilles heel. This began with their console development on the Sega CD (1992), and the Sega 32X (1994). Originally intended to be their own stand-alone devices, hardware developers simply produced them as add-ons to the existing Genesis console. Savvy gamers are usually aware that the games for said devices were abysmal. The Sega CD was originally sold at $299 and consisted of a library of mostly movie-based games such as Night Trap. The Sega 32X costs only $159 at release but didn’t fare much better. Both consoles were difficult and not worthwhile to develop for. While Nintendo wasn’t immune from mistakes (Virtual Boy), Sega’s mindset was clearly to cover up any flaws with slick advertising. Nintendo’s steady lead over Sega continued.

Sega’s eccentric behavior carried over to other companies. Around this time, Sega was looking for companies to merge or buy out. They even set their sights as high as Electronic Arts or Disney (very unlikely). Eventually, in 1997, they nearly agreed to a merger with Bandai (Power Rangers, Digimon, etc.). Weeks before the merger, Bandai backed out of the agreement, citing cultural differences that could obfuscate their productivity. Later, Bandai would merge with Namco. It appears Sega never got along with anybody, even those they tried to become partners with.

The Sega Saturn (1994) was a huge improvement over the Sega CD and 32X as it rivaled the Sony Playstation in terms of capabilities. Fictional Judo master Segata Sanshiro served as the console’s mascot in Japanese commercials, training with a giant Saturn console, throwing people causing them to explode, and beating up people (including kids) who refused to play the console. These edgy commercials were not aired in the United States, which further proves Sega’s “in-your-face” mentality. Yu Suzuki and the AM2 team were called on to help craft the hardware which paved the way for a new series of successful Virtua Fighter games. Virtua Fighter 2, in particular, was sold at a ratio of 1:1 with the Saturn console itself.

Later, Yu Suzuki would attempt to create his magnum opus, Shenmue (1999), a luscious open-world game following the adventures of a young man trying to solve the death of his father. It was developed the Saturn before it was ported to the Dreamcast years later. The development cost of both Shenmue 1 and 2 was in the range of $70 million dollars. While the Shenmue series was critically acclaimed for having that Sega “mystique,” it was the beginning of the end of Sega’s glory days.

In 1998, Sega thoroughly planned the release of the Sega Dreamcast in coordination with Microsoft. Heralded as Sega’s “most glorious moment,” the console boasted arcade-equivalent graphics and colorful new IP’s, such as Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, NiGHTS Into Dreams, Power Stone, Phantasy Star Online, Skies of Arcadia, House of the Dead, Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, ChuChu Rocket, Ferrari F355 Challenge (Suzuki owns his own Ferraris), Seaman, and even the titular Sonic Adventure (Sonic’s first fully 3D foray). It also featured SegaNet, an online browser/gaming service powered by a 56K modem.

However, things would quickly turn for the worse for the Dreamcast. The upcoming Playstation 2 console by Sony was graphically superior and also featured a DVD player. Bernie Stolar, President of Sega of America from 1997 to 1999, collaborated with Sega to develop the Dreamcast but noted that several hardware failures and a higher price ($199 vs $249) could cause the device to fail. He also barred RPGs and 2D games from the Dreamcast since he thought they were too “nerdy.” He also bullied Namco into releasing Tekken games for the Dreamcast alone.  His predictions were correct but he was fired before the damage could be done. The Dreamcast was riddled with piracy and a poor development environment. Companies such as Electronic Arts backed out of working on the Dreamcast with the PS2 on the horizon.

The Dreamcast sold poorly in Japan and in Europe. Sega’s last-ditch effort was to provide American marketer Peter Moore with $500 million to advertise in the US. 2000 was dubbed the “Year of the Dreamcast.” Although the console became a cult classic, it wasn’t enough to bear the onslaught by the PS2. Sega permitted exclusive IPs to be published on other consoles. The Dreamcast ceased production in 2002. 10.6 million units were sold worldwide as of then.

To emphasize the Dreamcast’s failure, Sega lost from 1998 to 2002 a grand total of $1.5 billion (2002 inflation). To rub salt on the wound, Suzuki’s Shenmue series sold poorly and thus Sega “demoted” him in traditional Japanese business fashion. Sega managed to survive because of one of the greatest altruistic moves in gaming: CSK chairman Isao Okawa donated $695 million to Sega after his death in 2002. Though Sega lives, they’ve now been regulated to a mediocre third-party developer.

What led to Sega’s downfall over the previous decade? One of Sega’s ultimate strengths was in its hardware development. From Sega’s stellar arcade boards and cabinets from the 80’s-90’s to its striking home consoles, they were able to instill that unique culture through that medium. However, with the decline in arcades and the third-party transition, Sega lost a huge advantage over the competition. As a signal of change, Sega’s trademark indoor theme parks dubbed “Gameworks” began closing up across the world. The only explanation was that Sega, as a whole, was ambitious and willing to take risks and come up with completely unorthodox ideas, hence why the Dreamcast has such a stellar library despite the huge losses involved.

However, starting with their lackluster home consoles such as the Sega CD, Sega never really thought things through. This permeated through their corporate culture as they were forced to step back and re-evaluate the situation, only creating new hardware for arcade titles. Such quality, yet scarce titles such as OutRun 2 (2004), Ghost Squad (2004), After Burner Climax (2006), and Virtua Fighter 5 (2006) are attributed primarily to Suzuki’s AM2 team, widely considered to be the last true “gem” of Sega game development.

Things only became marginally better for Sega entering the 21st century. Sega was seeking mergers with various candidates, such as Nintendo, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts. In 2004, Sega agreed to a $1.45 billion deal in a merge with Sammy, a company heavily involved in manufacturing pachinko machines. Sammy’s CEO, Hajime Satomi, is rumored to be involved with the Yakuza and Sega-Sammy is used in his money laundering operations. Regardless of whether the rumors are true, Sega continued to wallow in the mire for years to come.

While Sega managed to earn meager profits throughout the mid 00’s thanks to their steady line of pachinko machines, very little good came out of it. Sega’s hallmark Sonic the Hedgehog series took a huge dive. Games like Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 2006, and Sonic and the Black Knight are considered abysmal even by typical video game standards, despite the fact the games managed to sell well. The situation became so bad that Sega of America President Mike Hayes had to assure the public that Sonic Team would hasten the production of new Sonic titles. To make matters worse, major Sega players such as Yu Suzuki, Yuji Naka, and Tetsuya Mizuguchi left the company to open their own studios.

While Sega may be developing few hallmark titles on their own, they’re seeing modest improvements entering the 2010 year. Mike Hayes has placed a specific emphasis on downloadable content and fresh new IP’s, stating that the profits from smaller, cheaper games can eclipse that of full-production titles. Classic arcade, Genesis, and Dreamcast games have been ported to modern online downloadable services such as Xbox Live and Steam, introducing old games to nostalgic gamers and new gamers alike. Sega has managed to publish some solid titles such as Bayonetta, Total War, The Conduit, Alpha Protocol, and Renegade Ops. They’ve also enlisted on the help from other studios such as Dimps and Sumo Digital to help create more quality Sega-related titles. Also, Sega still continues to produce some quality in-house titles, such as Yakuza and better quality Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Sega has adapted to the post-Dreamcast fallout with modest success. It is only natural that the market changes over time and Sega’s stubborn ways led to their downfall. However, they’ve held dear to their quirky nature since the very beginning. The fanbase still rallies around Sega, promoting new Sonic games on their own and creating fan content such as emulators of abandoned Sega arcade games. Even the eccentric Toshihiro Nagoshi, producer for Daytona USA, Super Monkey Ball, and Yakuza, proclaims that he will work for Sega for his entire career. All the meanwhile, Yu Suzuki and Yuji Naka continue to “supervise” at Sega.

Things can only get better for Sega from here. Once you’ve reached rock bottom, the only place to go from there is up.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sega Can't Scrub Away SOPA

Now we all know this SOPA bill has been around for a long time yet it just won't die.  Hey, I've talked about it six months ago.  Basically, every single gamer hates it (the day a gamer likes it is the day Sega makes the Dreamcast 2) while the companies themselves are lukewarm to the idea.  And the fact that we have other pressing issues in the United States like our national debt, massive spending, massive unemployment, the healthcare debacle, illegal immigration, expanding size of government & regulations, our national debt, the disastrous housing market, energy independence (or lack thereof), our dwindling military, and our national debt, you'd think SOPA is a drop in the bucket.  But whatever, let's deal with it because this can be disastrous if it passes.

Here's a funny story pertaining to the bill that's generated some controvery and I want to address it.  There's some website that's been sending mass e-mails to all game companies requesting their stance on SOPA.  Some companies replied while some have not.  Sega replied to the e-mail...with an automated message that doesn't pertain to the question in the least (perform a "hard reset").  This set up for a funny Internet joke at the time.  Sega's inbox searches for keywords in its e-mails and sometimes sends an appropriate reply in order to save the Q&A crew some time.  But apparently, the story got around the Internet so much that Sega themselves replied to it.  With a video:

"I used to be Nintendo's rival company, until I took a hard reset." - YouTube comment.

Yes, it's a hokey video and some do hate it.  This is when the Sega haters come out the woodwork to take pot-shots at them.  For one thing, they never mentioned if they support SOPA or not.  Like they know they're "busted"--they don't want to lie but they don't want to admit they support the bill so here's a "non-answer."  But are we really going to find out if they support it?  These are just some guys working on the ground level who are just responding to Internet trends.  Do you think the suits at the top will find out and give their opinions on the issue?  Probably not.  But I REALLY would like to know Sega's stance on this.

Then again, we know that Nintendo, Sony, Electronic Arts, and Capcom have been flirting with the bill but have pulled support due to peer pressure so does it really matter if Sega supports it?  Who really cares what Sega thinks anyway??  Do they have that much clout in anything anymore?  I don't know...judging from Sega's cease-and-desist demands in a couple of things (Sonic advice YTMND's, Streets of Rage remake), I think they'd be somewhat for the bill.

Man, screw the bill.  I'm all for stopping illegal piracy (well duh, that's why it's illegal), but this whole streaming crap is next.  What's next--they systematically strip the Internet of any gaming-related media?  Yeah, you may not be able to watch every cutscene on Heavy Rain (which could remove the incentive from buying the game), but it may go much farther than that.  What's to stop them--what's the end-game anyway when it comes to censorship?  And you can blame the "evil corporate lobbyists" all you want (never mind the fact people will mass boycott them), if these dummies in Congress can't get the q-tips out their ears and end up passing this law, then SHAME ON THEM.  Will they even read the bill?  Remember: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

Anyway, forget about SOPA, I wonder what the corporate culture at Sega is like.  Seems like a couple of kids floating around the office with a camera as Sega continues to act impotent as usual.  If it weren't for Sega of Japan & Sumo Digital's heroics, they'd be in a much worse position than now.  I'm going to write an essay on that soon--I'll let you know about that in the future.

BTW, SOPA is a stupid name for a bill...almost reminds me of that is.  Sonic Adventure 2.


Oh and one more thing.  Some Japanese tabloid has predicted which Japanese game companies will shut down in the next decade.  Sega, Square, and Tecmo are ranked "most likely to fail" followed by Capcom, Konami, Namco, and Sony.  Nintendo and Gree (who the f*** is that) have a massive gap over the others and thus are the only ones sitting cozy so basically Japan is screwed.  But to restate, Sega is doomed.  Go to Hell, Sega won't die on my watch.  They'll always have a niche and won't resort to producing slot machines and UFO catchers for all eternity.  Stop hating on your own country's developers and get lost.  And y'all can't stop me from talking about Sega racers--not SOPA, not Sega's misery, all that nonsense.

FIEA Boot Camp (ft. Stevie Wonder)

Hello guys and gals, here's a personal post for you.  It's been one week of school and man, I'm tired.  I actually have three classes.  One is Programming II and that's where the bulk of the work is.  The second is a capstone presentation class where we present a weekly update of stuff we've worked on (since I'm not a producer, I don't have to speak).  And the third is business studies in which we learn more about the ins-and-outs of game studios and why they make the decisions they make.  This usually involves writing essays on what we've learned.

Prog 2 started out rough.  The first assignment is to set up a Visual Studio 2003 (only version compatible with original Xbox) and this is the most annoying thing ever.  The goal is to load up a shell solution file (basic code that will be filled in later) with all sorts of project files laden with various settings & parameters so that they all compile together seamlessly (making a game for three different platforms--OpenGL, DirectX, and Xbox).

This involves sparse coding but mostly knoweldge about VS2003.  And unless you're a seasoned CS vet, you're going to have a LOT of issues.  The professor really didn't cover it in class (since it doesn't completely relate to programming) so there was a line outside of his office of people begging for help, me included.  To make things more tedious, if your code has any errors or warnings, you're docked points.  And sometimes these things can pop up just by the order in which the projects are compiled.  This was a pretty grating intro assignment.  I went to sleep on Thursday with a massive headache.

Now I don't have a problem with my professor.  He's possibly the friendliest teacher I've ever met and he'll gladly help you if you're struggling.  But the transition from Prog 1 to Prog 2 was really steep.  Like everything in Prog1 seemed feasible--you can see the light at the end of tunnel but you must work to get there.  On the other hand, Prog 2 one of those classes where you have to "read the books" to comprehend what's going on. And the professor gives two-hour lectures four days a week (Monday thru Thursday) and for the duration of these lectures, there's only so much information I can absorb.  Seriously, I think I'm developing a mild case of ADD.  This is NOT GOOD at this stage of the game.

The fun doesn't stop there as I have two more assignments due next week.  These weekly assignments will keep coming each and every week.  So get ready for the hill climb.

Maybe I am complaining but I don't know.  I'm in graduate school so I guess I should put on my big boy hat and do the work.  This class will definitely bleed over my other two ones.  Doesn't really help that I'm losing for BFT fast and I'm afraid my "supervisors" will twist my arm if I'm not working in my spare time.  Like forget about Battle Fortress Tortoise (done in UDK with its steep learning curve)--if I can finish Prog 2, I'm happy.  I'm just tired of being graded on everything.  It's been 16 years of the same "game"--taking tests, writing papers, and meeting deadlines...I've just mellowed out to it all.  I know these things continue in the business place with more on the line than just a letter grade (your job, for starters), but if I don't have all this overhead with stuff coming at me from all angles, I might just be less stressed and--get this--maybe will be able to work more efficiently.  I'm not one of those guys that can work on multiple obligations from 9 am to 9 pm anymore which really sucks.

Anyway, don't expect my blog to be brimming with all sorts of stuff future.  I don't have as much energy for it. And as long as Sega continues to mediocre, well...what can I really talk about now?  But really, keep checking in just in case I have a revelation or something.


There is a silver lining to all this.  I don't know who's playing my Super Sprint game since no one really tells me about it.  So I have some friends at FIEA and one of them works a night job as a supervisor to some college building.  And he and his friend had nothing to do so they played Super Sprint for 4 hours straight.  That makes me feel really proud of myself.  If I'm able to entertain both myself and others, then I know my work was not in vain.  So props to all of you who have played it.


BTW, it's Friday the 13th which is supposed to be an unlucky day but that's mainly due to ancient pagan beliefs and I don't buy that crap.  So in honor of Friday the 13th, I whoop Jason's ass by bringing you Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street (yeah, when's the last time your favorite band was on SESAME STREET???)

Lest you forget, Stevie Wonder was blind.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mitsuyoshi-San Busted For Having Too Much Fun

Takenobu this guy high?  Yes, he's "sky high" on life, that is.

He sings King of Speed and Let's Go Away.  Unfortunately, no Sky High.  But damn this dude is nuts.  Aside from the 2-minute interval in which he speaks to the camera (in Japanese, need a translator here), he's gettin down to the music.  This is EXACTLY what Sega needs to have again: FUN!!!

It's amazing that what was supposed to be a miniscule racing game has become a cult phenomenon like this.  I think it's strange that Mitsuyoshi so frequently sings his songs (and is clearly proud of it), yet Nagoshi just hides behind his Yakuza games.  Well, looks like Mitsuyoshi is doing his part to keep the Daytona legacy alive.  Props.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I'm In Florida Again And... (Highway & Rock Band Stuff)

...this s***'s about to get real.

For someone with Asperger's (yes I'm not afraid to admit it), I really hate change.  It's a trait of mine to stick to a routine (look it up) which is why I get all mopey when I have to leave to go somewhere.  Only recently have I really noticed this.  And this Christmas wasn't by any means "magical" but it was nice to spend time with my family.  Now I'm in Florida again all my lonesome, surrounded by gaming nerds again.  So this sucks ass but it's what I gotta do.


And today I drove nine hours from Louisiana to Florida all by my lonesome.  The last few times I did it, I had a wingman (my dad) to switch driving duties and call out directions like "Easy right maybe."  But no, I just cruised to Florida because I'm a pro.

Anyway, this trip was very tiring.  To keep active, I just partied in the car, singing along with every song and making jokes to myself.  I also brought a 5 Hour Energy with me just in case I were to lose consciousness along the way.  I've never taken one before so when I devoured the whole thing, it was a dramatic moment.  And guess how I felt after taking?  Exactly the same.  Apparently a shiatload of vitamins and supplements can't substitute for good old-fashioned sleep.

But you know what did wake me up?  I came to the Daytona USA soundtrack and that stuff just kicked my ass.  I got all stoked and stuff.  My favorite is the original '93/94 arcade version.  Seriously, if you ever need to get into a good mood quickly, LISTEN TO THIS.  EDIT: I hooked up my Sansa Fuze music player and listened to music the whole time.  What else?

Daytona USA is MY 5-hour ENERGY.


And I got to my apartment and my belated Christmas present I mailed to the apartment was waiting on the doorstep.  Thankfully, no one stole it (thanks lousy mailman).  What is it?  A Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar!!!  And guess what?  Yeah, I'm way behind the curve on this device (RB3 came out over a year ago) but I also suck at it.  Then again, a year ago I was equally bad at RB3 Pro Keys but I worked my way to the super-pro I am today.

Just the mere sight of this makes my head explode.  And it gets much harder than this.

If you've seen the Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar Controller (which costs about $130 new on Amazon), then you'll see it has 102 buttons and six strum bars--err, strings.  You might have to use a pick to play it.

There's also this Rocksmith game out.  Basically it's like RB3's Pro Guitar/Bass but you use an actual guitar and the game just reads the sound instead.  IIRC, that's the only instrument you can play in that game.  RB3's pro guitar frets are buttons and not strings so it's not as realistic.  But you know what?  I don't care.  I like Rock Band 3's format (various instruments, scoring, etc.) and massive library of songs.

And more importantly, I don't play RB3 for the sake of becoming a real musician either--I only have expressed interest in being a pianist/keyboardist anyway (the one instrument I enjoy the most and am the best at).  Lest you forget, Rock Band is first and foremost a GAME, not a real-life band simulator.  This whole myth that people play Rock Band/Guitar Hero to become a superstar is just asinine on many levels.  And I admit Rocksmith isn't ass like Power Gig or Rock Revolution but it's not my cup of tea (I don't even drink tea, ha).


And my second laptop (the non-school one) slipped off the bed and hit the hard floor.  Despite the sudden trauma of seeing an expensive device take a tumble, it still works fine.  However, when you shake it, it makes a slight rattling noise.  I swear, that rattling is the most f'n annoying thing in the world.  Whenever any device does that, I disassemble the thing and remove the broken pieces.  Too bad I don't have a screwdriver to remove the lid...

I could use an adrenaline boost for school.  Too bad I'm practically immune to 5-Hour Energy's effects.  I just want to slingshot past everyone and crack some heads.  Too bad I'm in a slump thanks to Christmas sucking and all that.

You're Killing Me Namco, GameFAQs, Sonic Fans!!!

Well here's a few things on the backburner I would like to mention.  More complaints from yours truly, yay.

First, I would like to begin by applauding Namco for being the greatest, most classiest game developer ever.  They truly blow my mind.  The way they handle their IP's like a pro.  And how they advertise them too.

Ivy Valentine's cleavage in a Namco ad.  Borderline NSFW.

I don't get why the first commenter of the feature discussion (a feminazi who blasted the hell out of Duke Nukem Forever) thought this was okay.  If this isn't objectifying women, I don't know what is.  The entire poster is Ivy's breasts.  How can you defend this?  I don't have a problem with scantily-clad women in games as long as it's not overdone and the women resemble some sort of "beauty."  But now Namco has run out of ideas, resorting to Tecmo's tactics to gain relevance.  Hey, you can strip down any character to their underwear thanks to their extensive customization options so isn't it the same thing as DOA Beach Volleyball but with more violence?

Taking a look at Namco-Bandai's releases in the last few years, they're in Sega's boat in that they're putting out games but most are rehashes or developed by other studios.  And you never hear about anything Namco-related from the blogs other than Soul Calibur and (awful) Ridge Racer so what's the point?  Namco is a benchwarmer now.  At least Sega has "prestige" because Sonic gets some press as does Nagoshi & Suzuki with their antics.  No wonder Namco is desperate...sticking a camera in front of a fictional character's breasts.

EDIT: A month later, Namco has also created ads of Cassanda's ass and Voldo's nether region.  I'm not making this stuff up.  And no, I'm not going to link to it.  Soul Calibur is dead.

Namco will never live up to RBI Baseball...THAT'S RIGHT, the true Namco hero, alongside Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, the Galaga ship, and Mappy the friggin mouse.


Now on to GameFAQs.  Thanks F40 for rehashing this poll so I could notice.  So they run a poll on 1/7/12 that says "Best Download-only Game of 2011."  Here are your choices:

Dungeons of Dredmor
From Dust
The Binding of Isaac
Trine 2

The votes are irrelevant since Bastion followed by Terraria are way in the lead.  So there's no Daytona USA but that's cause it's a port of a really old game so what's to be expected there.  But you know what's missing? Renegade Ops.  Didn't everyone love that game?  Giant Bomb gave it a 5/5?  I loved the game too.  That's part of the Sega family and it just got ROBBED.

You know what would be the s***?  If they took down GameFAQs.  I would pay massive Microsoft Points for that DLC addon!!

And another thing.  Call me a moron but I don't think I've ever heard of half these games from the media.  SpaceChem?  Jamestown?  I don't effin now anymore.

Well, what else is new.  I'm beginning to think the Sega logo is a kiss of death.  Some games are hurt much more than others (Bayonetta is relatively intact) but those four blue letters are a good way to get people to ignore you.  DO NOT DOUBT ME.  Let's try to break the curse by aiding Sega when we can, eh?

BTW, the narrator for Bastion makes me want to jump off a bridge.


And then there's another GameFAQs board (Good Lord) that's up to no good.  It just happens to be the Sonic Generations board.  That board has devolved from actually talking about Generations to bickering over which Sonic games suck or not.  Like this topic, this topic, and this topic.  While I don't necessarily mind debate (hell I roast plenty of games here), I don't go on forums for the specific purpose of getting in 1 on 1's with other people, quoting each other, trying to get the edge by debating the most petty things.

The Sonic fanbase just doesn't know what they want anymore.  If Sega didn't "shake the baby" back during the last decade, this probably wouldn't be happening.  I can see it now--the Mario & Zelda fanbases are laughing their asses off now.  The worst they have to complain about is whether or not Super Mario Galaxy 2 is better than Galaxy 1.  Or whether or not Majora's Mask is better than Ocarina of Time.

Well, what can you say about a franchise that has Chris-Chan as a member?  I just discovered this recently, but there's an ENTIRE Wiki site dedicated to every detail of his life (subtlety NSFW in a few places).  In case you don't know who Chris Chan is (and you really should just turn back now), he's a man-child with severe Autism who immerses himself in a world of constant gaming, fanart & fiction with characters like "Sonichu," rage towards everybody, and tons of erotic fantasies about God knows what.  Never mind the Rule 34 content from the rest of the fanbase, he alone sets back the Sonic community ten years.  I have a young brother with Autism and I know it really sucks but his (EDIT: talking about Chris) behavior is way past the point of using Autism as an excuse.

And about the Wiki site...isn't it illegal to publicly that much private information about someone?  I'm just curious, I don't want the HIRE A LAWLER TO TAKE DOWN DIS WEBSATE.  Sure, the media does this a lot with celebrities & politicians, but nowhere near the extent that this Wiki does.  People have been hacking his e-mail accounts and stuff, gathering every single account of his life, it's pretty demented.  Even if they were making this stuff up as they went along, it's still slanderous.  But nonetheless, Chris still plugs along at whatever he does.

No wonder Sonic is in the dumps.  I'll leave you with this pic:

Chris Chan, Jackie Chan, haha

And I know all the big gaming blogs beat me to this but what is Sonic doing in a Progressive commercial???  Progressive does auto insurance, not health/life insurance.  I don't think Flo can save you from a pit of spikes.

But hey, at least it ain't Klonoa or Pac-Man.  Namco, get your notepads out.

Also the Saints won so Who Dat.  And I'll be heading back to Florida for escuela on a nine-hour drive.  I'll talk about it later I guess.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sonic CD Impressions


Well, it's been out for three weeks now but only recently have I gotten around to playing it.

To tell you the truth, I have never played this game before.  Not on Sega CD, not on PC, not on any compilation games.  To my surprise, this game came out in '93, between Sonic 2 ('92) and Sonic 3 ('94).  However, chronologically it's supposed to be between Sonic 1 and 2 (no Tails at the time). I heard about Metal Sonic, time travel, and how "great" this game is so I figured what the hell, let's buy it.


First, it's worth mentioning that this game wasn't originally affiliated by Sega.  The Genesis games were ported by Backbone Entertainment with Sega's permission.  Sonic CD, however, was ported by some guy by the name of "Taxman" and he later presented it to Sega who said, "What the hell, let's put this on Xbox Live, good work man."  This is incredible.  What effect does the community have on what Sega publishes?  I think that El Semi's work on the Model2 emulator paved the way for Daytona USA on XBL/PSN.  So what does that mean about Bart's Model3 emulator?  Can we see Daytona USA 2/Scud Race in the future??  What else can we do for Sega???

If only Sega gave the thumbs up to that fan remake of Streets of Rage...I don't get it Sega.  The fans are trying to help you out, man!!!


So anyway, about Sonic CD.  If you want a great guide on this game, check out Sonic Zone:0.  It's got a comprehensive strategy guide on all the classic Sonics, including Sonic CD.  It even has huge level maps and whatnot!

Anyway, the first thing I notice about the game is that it that it's brimming with color.  Granted, the bad futures look grim and some of the levels are a complete clusterf*** that don't resemble a stereotypical Sonic zone, it just felt good to play.  Very therapeudic.  I would check out UK Resistance's Sonic CD Screenshot Parade if you haven't already.  Even when you kill enemies, they drop seeds that sprout giant flowers.  I like that.

Then there's time travel.  You can go to the past or the future where the level takes on a different visage.  There's a secondary goal that requires you to go to the past to destroy Eggman's "robot generators" in order to ensure a "good future" for that zone.  One free of the nightmares of Biff Tannen & the almanac, something like that.  At first, I had no idea how to do this so I just kept running right through the level as usual.

Then there's the means in which you time travel.  You stumble across signs labled "Past" or "Future."  The goal is to hit one of those then move quickly without stopping for a few seconds.  Then you teleport like the Delorean from Back to the Future.  At first, I had no clue how to do this.  I would just be running along then I would arbitrarily teleport like "wtf" though it really didn't change the fact the level is beatable in all time zones so I was cool with it.

Anyway, more about time travel later.  My goal at first was to just beat the game and kill Eggman.  TBQH, just beating the game like normal was too easy.  The Eggman bosses in Stage 3 of each zone were not the giant monstrosities of the past.  They were more like puzzles--for instance, navigate through the pinball machine or jump on the platforms to reach Eggman and kill him relatively quickly.  Very strange but also nice since I didn't feel like busting my ass on any really hard bosses.

The first time I died was on the Wacky Workbench (Zone 5) boss with the blocks that shoot you into the air (I got crushed by the ceiling).  Then after that, I made it to the Metal Sonic boss in Starlight Speedway (Zone 6).  This is when the game really kicked my ass.  Minor spoiler alerts ahead.

This boss battle is surprisingly different than in Sonic Generations.  For once, Metal Sonic is invincible.  Yet for some reason, he can't hurt you like a normal enemy would (touch him and nothing happens) except when he's using one of his attacks.  He stands there like a pimp before the race saying, "Can't touch this" or something.  To "kill" Metal Sonic, you have to make it to the finish before he does.  Simple right?

Rather than the collapsing platforms from Generations, Eggman follows you with a huge ass laser which kills you in one hit regardless of how many rings you have.  If you stall for a brief moment and fail to regain your speed fast enough (because of those G-D hills in your way), you're toast.  Really, I had ten lives going into this boss battle and thus, I died ten times in a row.  Thankfully the game allows you to restart from the very stage you were once on so no biggie.  My younger brother wants to try but he dies ten times in a row too.  Then I go again and finally won after five deaths.  So I died 25 times trying to beat Metal Sonic.  How pathetic is that.

So Metal Madness is the last zone in the game (Zone 7) and this stage is dramatically harder than the rest of the game, no surprise there.  Surprisingly, the Eggman final boss was incredibly anti-climatic.  Eggman comes out in a robot with four panels shaped like a SNES controller's d-pad.  Hit him a few times and the game's over.  WTF?  I presume if you collect all the "Time Stones" (*coughchaosemeralds*) or get all Good Futures then you access the "true finale" or something, kind of like the Doomsday Zone from Sonic 3&K.  So that's lame.

So I go back to play the game a second time, trying to get all Good Futures and all the Time Stones for the stupid achievements.  Anyway, you time travel by getting the Past/Future signs and running for a few seconds, either by running through tunnels, flying through the air, whatever.  This has to be my biggest complaint with the game.  There's very few places where you have a clearing to run for a few seconds.  If you falter about a half-second before you teleport, your sign powers go away.  Note that you can't get the time travel powers back from the signs--they can only be used once.  From what I heard, the time required to teleport was much shorter in other versions so that's a bummer.  It's aggravating enough as it is teleport once (to the Past to destroy the robot machine) so to do it more than once is tedious as all hell since I can't waste my time travel signs.

You can also do a "running spindash" in this game too...just hold up instead of down to do it.

Also, the only practical reason to teleport is to destroy the robot machines.  The different time zones have different geography and more rings.  Therefore if you exhaust most rings in one time zone, you can travel to another and gather even more.  What's the point anyway since merely picking up rings doesn't give you points unless you're able to finish the zone with them (which is hard with all the enemies/spikes around)?  This game encourages exploration (excluding a few lightning-fast tunnel seconds) but without any true purpose to teleport other than to check out the change in scenery or to create the good futures, then it's a but confusing.

And then there's the special stages.  Get 50 rings and jump into the large ring right after the ending sign to teleport there.  You're in this trippy faux-3D land, resembling Mario Kart and F-Zero.  Sonic runs around to jump and kill these floating UFOs that randomly move about the place.  Kill them all to get a Time Stone.  Wow, this has to be the most pain-in-the-ass thing ever.  It really hard to get down the timing of Sonic's jumps, much less cope with the sporadic UFO movements.  You have plenty of time to hunt down the UFOs although touching the water instantly takes away 10 seconds which is really bad.

To get all the Time Stones, I had to restart over and over again.  This means going back to the main menu and clicking on your save game again (yes, you can continue on a special stage).  Note that you MUST quit to the main menu before your time runs out since the game instantly saves & escorts you to the next stage once that timer reaches zero so don't screw around when you're almost out of time.

BTW, I love the Japanese soundtrack just for the Palmtree Panic music alone.  Damn, this is just a groovy soundtrack with techno, hip-hop, synthesizers, whatever.  The English version has that creepy boss music which reminds me of that secret message Easter Egg that we should all stay the f*** away from.

Still think it's strange that two entirely different soundtracks were made for this game.  Why does US have a different soundtrack than EU/JP version?  Shocking.

There's not more to say about the game.  Tails is a bonus character who was added by Taxman.  Using him disables achievements so don't bother.  This game places more emphasis on exploration and just chillin' out rather than speed running through the whole thing.  This kind of sucks since there's not much incentive to time travel anyway.  The future is basically useless you're teleporting just for kicks.

But this game ain't bad.  I know some people on the GameFAQs forums (Sonic Generations board included) are rambling about how overrated this game is.  I can't remember who declared Sonic CD was one of the best Sonics ever.  So it's a love-hate game.  I say just buy it anyway.  You really can't go wrong with it, even if you just run through the game in about an hour.

Review Score: 7.75 out of 10.  Mostly cause this game looks really cool.  The score seems overstated but it's an old game with very few changes so what's the point of this number anyway?

I was going to talk more about Sonic but I'll save it for later.  I've gone on for way too long.

We did it!!!  By creating this blog, I've made a Good Future for Sega racers (& video games in general) everywhere!!!  That was the whole point of this blog...good vibrations, baby.