Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Importance of Sonic 4 and its Impact on Sega.

Back in 1991, Sega introduced Sonic the Hedgehog to the masses. Back then it was a phenomenon. Sonic was the mascot to beat for many years. Then, Sega and Sonic Team lost their way and some of the staff. With the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sonic had the perfect platform to go up against Mario and Nintendo. Sega had the winning formula, great character, great gameplay and story. The graphics in sonic were great as well.
The original game sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. Even by today’s standards that is really good. There were 2 sequels that received critical acclaim and brisk sales. Sonic and Knuckles was an add on cart to all 3 games and was an instant hit. After 9 portable 2-D games which met with generally good reviews and were great adventures, none matched the success or acclaim that the original games had. And with Sonic 3D blast and Sonic Jam (a collection of almost every Sonic game) for the Sega Saturn, the future of Sonic was in jeopardy.
Here comes the Sega Dreamcast, and the game is Sonic Adventure. This brought back most of the original Sonic Team back together, to usher in a new era for Sonic and Sega. This game was a new spectacle of true 3-D gaming much like Nintendo did with Super Mario 64. The game was fast and playable with a few camera issues (like Mario 64), but overall the game was a worldwide success. Then Sonic  Adventure 2 made way for Sonic Team to try and experiment with the gameplay and story. While a great game overall Sonic Adventure 2 didn’t really take off until it was ported to the Nintendo Gamecube in 2003. Now some noteworthy Sonic titles that should be looked at are Sonic Heroes (GC,PS2,XBOX), Sonic Rush, Sonic Rush Adventure and the Great Bioware RPG Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. These games are great games to add to your Nintendo DS collection.


Now that leads us to the dark times for Sonic. Sonic the Hedgehog for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 from the all but defunct Sonic Team was poised to break new ground and to reintroduce Sonic to all Next gen consoles. Well face it to say that the game didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Sonic the hedgehog all but sealed the characters doom. Fortunately the game actually sold well, although word of mouth and reviews were not to kind to the little blue blur. Now with Sonic Unleashed released in 2009, Sega seemed to be on the right track. With the 2.5D gameplay and the rail action in Sonic Adventure, Sonic Unleashed seemed like it was going to reboot the franchise. The night or “Were hog “ levels were new and unwelcome to some. The thing is I actually liked the game as a whole.
After mediocre to poor sells at best, Sega stayed vigilant. Sega needed a hit game and maybe a reboot of a beloved franchise. Instead of going through the Vast array of titles in there arsenal, Sega decided that the Sonic games that had the most appeal were the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS versions. These games were developed by Dimps under the Sonic team moniker. Dimps made all of the portable versions of Sonic for the GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Playstation Portable. These versions of Sonic were some of most well received games since Sonic Adventure. They also developed Sonic Unleashed, which in the opinion of this editor, was a very good game once you got into the meat of it. Maybe this is Sonics’ last Hurrah, and maybe Sega is trying one last time to bring back the glory days of Sonic. Sega is obviously taking a page from Nintendo’s playbook. Since Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and a few noble but not noteworthy attempts to bring Mario into 3D, Nintendo struck gold with New Super Mario Bros. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first 2D Mario game on a Nintendo console in 15 years and we all know how well that is going.
Now let’s get into Sonic 4: Episode 1 also developed by Dimps in a true return to form for our little blue friend. This game seems to do just what Sega needed since they became a third party developer, show us why we liked Sonic in the first place. This game looks to be a step in the right direction. The more I see of this game the more excited I get. What the industry needs is a reminder of why we gamers keep the industry going. At the end of the day, gaming is all about having fun. That is what Sega needs to do is get back to that general philosophy, it is all about fun. Sega just came down off the high that was Bayonetta. And they are set to reveal Resonance of Fate. Let’s hope that they can keep the trend going with Sonic 4: Episode 1. I wonder what other Sega franchises they will revisit.Now let’s hope for Shenmue 3. Maybe a Burning Rangers remake?  How about Shinobi or Streets of Rage? If you guys at Sega need any input, just hit me up. I am always ready to help. SEGA!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Japan Watch:Media Create Numbers and Final Fantasy XIII $20?

It is time for another Japan Watch. This time we are going to get into the new Media Create Numbers and there is news for Final Fantasy Fans (good news?).
Dragon Quest proves once again it is the King of RPG's in Japan by taking the top spot. Resonance of Fate (PS3,360) has been a top 10 game for around a month now. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is still doing it big as well.
On the hardware front, the PSP and the Wii are going at it for the Japanese Yen. The PSP is ahead for almost a month now. Now if only Sony could repeat that success in America.
Here are the latest Media Create console hardware sales for the week of Jan 25 - 31 in Japan:
  1. PSP - 47,875 [450,563]
  2. Wii - 42,309 [385,452]
  3. DSi LL - 34,863 [205,204]
  4. PS3 - 34,431 [272,512]
  5. DSi - 24,783 [215,087]
  6. DS Lite - 6,811 [45,806]
  7. 360 - 4,089 [24,393]
  8. PS2 - 2,182 [13,965]
  9. PSP Go - 1,645 [12,188]
- Here are the latest Media Create console software sales for the week of Jan 25 - 31 in Japan.
  1. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reviere (NDS, Square Enix) - 906,458
  2. End of Eternity [Resonance of Fate] (PS3, Sega) - 118,088
  3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii, Nintendo) - 89,390 [3,201,017]
  4. Ar tonelico III: Sekai Shuuen no Hikigane wa Shoujo no Uta ga Hajiku (PS3, Namco Bandai) - 81,633
  5. Tamodatchi Collection (NDS, Nintendo) - 45,474 [2,741,521]
  6. Wii Fit Plus (Wii, Nintendo) - 32,888 [1,583,050]
  7. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP, Square Enix) - 30,225 [713,158]
  8. End of Eternity [Resonance of Fate] (360, Sega) - 27,048
  9. Senjo no Varukyuria 2: Gallia Ourisshikan Gakko [Valkyria Chronicles 2] (PSP, Sega) - 24,048 [118,000]
  10. MAG: Massive Action Game (PS3, Sony) - 19,139
  11. Wii Sports Resort (Wii, Nintendo)
  12. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G [PSP the Best Reprint] (PSP, Capcom)
  13. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Battle of Aces (PSP, Namco Bandai)
  14. Inazuma Eleven 2: Kyoui no Shinryakusha - Fire/Blizzard (NDS, Level 5)
  15. Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver (NDS, Pokemon Co.)
  16. Biohazard: Darkside Chronicles (Wii, Capcom)
  17. Zelda no Densetsu: Taiyou no Kiteki (NDS, Nintendo)
  18. Fushigi no Dungeon Fuurai no Shiren 3 Portable (PSP, Spike)
  19. New Super Maro Bros. (NDS, Nintendo)
  20. Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii, Capcom)
It is good to see a diverse group of games on this list. Now Let's see if the other top game lists worldwide will be as diverse.
Now,it is time for the Final Fantasy news.Square Enix producer Yoshinori Kitase mentioned that a Final Fantasy VII remake would be very difficulty to do for the PS3, because it is hard to recreate the graphics in the same style as the original game and it will take enormous time. There is no FFVII remake in the works for now.

$20 Final Fantasy XIII? Yes.  Some Japanese retailers are slash the prices on the new and used copies of FFXIII. Most stores will only give $8-10 for trading the game in. These happenings are because of some low reviews of  the game from different gaming mags and websites in Japan. Now maybe SquareEnix should have made a version of FFXIII for each console? I think so.

Japan Watch:Famitsu Scores and News From Japan

Welcome to Japan Watch, My new weekly column on all things Japan. This for fans of the Japanese and the international game markets. Let's get to it.
First I will get to the latest Famitsu Review scores.
  • Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (NDS, Square Enix): 9, 9, 8, 8 - (34/40)
  • Zangeki no Reginleiv (Wii, Nintendo): 8, 7, 7, 6 - (28/40)
  • Winter Sports 2010: The Great Tournament [RTL Winter Sports 2010] (PS3, Arc System Works): 7, 5, 6, 5 - (23/40)
  • MadWorld (Wii, Spike): 8, 7, 8, 8 - (31/40)
  • Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (PS3/360, Spike): 8, 7, 8, 8 - (31/40)
  • SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Portable (PSP, Sony): 8, 7, 7, 7 - (29/40)
  • Minna no Conveni (NDS, Taito): 7, 7, 7, 7 - (28/40)
  • Imasugu Tsukaeru Mamechishiki: Quiz Zatsugaku-Ou DS (NDS, Jaleco): 7, 6, 5, 6 - (24/40)
  • Quiz Magic Academy DS: Futatsu no Jikuu Koku (NDS, Konami): 9, 9, 8, 8 - (34/40)
  • Dragon Ball DS 2: Totsugeki! Red Ribbon Gun (NDS, Namco Bandai): 7, 7, 8, 7 - (29/40)
  • Lupin Sansei: Shijou Saidai no Zunousen (NDS, Namco Bandai): 7, 7, 8, 7 - (29/40)
Now, if you notice that Madworld and Sacred 2 are on the list. Both games were released earlier in the year in the US.  Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie was one of the highest rated games on the week.

Tecmo Koei announced a playable demo of Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is now available on PSN and Xbox Live. The demo is actually not bad. You can try it now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Gamers Guide To Raising Gamers

With so many gamers becoming parents now, and with those kids becoming gamers themselves, I feel the need to help those kids and adults become better gamers. I consider myself to be a hardcore gamer, but being a hardcore gamer doesn’t mean that all I play is first person shooters. It means that I’m a fan of gaming in general.
First let me give you some background on myself. I have been gaming for 30 years and gaming helped me become a well rounded person. I have 6 kids and they all game in some form. Even my 10 month old has his own controller for when daddy plays.
Now if you have children or are about to be a parent and if you want to raise responsible gamer kids, here are some simple guidelines that I recommend for you to follow.

1. Making gaming comfortable.

While they are infants take an old controller you don’t need any more and put it in with their toys. Just remember to cut the cord off of it. The controller will allow their hands to get ready to play and it helps with some fine motor skills. This also works for any toddlers as well. It is good to let the toddlers play with that controller while you play games. It also starts a bonding moment with your kids.

2. Get the kids started right.
Let them get a feel for the games. Start the child gaming on older consoles. If you don’t have the old systems then find an emulator or a flash version of say, Super Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog. This will introduce the kids to the platformer, the one gaming genre that is a staple of the industry. They have simple left to right scrolling and that is usually easier for younger kids. You might even start out with a puzzle game like Tetris or Columns which will also help with higher brain functions in younger kids.
3. Buying them their first console.
Don’t go overboard. If the child is under 10, they don’t need a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. It is a good idea to get a Wii if you have to get your kid one of the current gen systems. If you get them a Wii though, only get Virtual console games at first. If they are under 4 they should have a Vsmile or a Game Boy Advance or any of the Vtech products. You can also get them a NES or a Sega Master System (Google it), just remember they need to have basic controllers to help develop eye hand coordination.

4. Know your roots.
Make sure they learn about the history of gaming. They must now that the PlayStation is not the first game console. At the same time the kids don’t need to know the date the Intellivision came out. Tell them about what gaming was like for you as a kid. They have to know the history of their hobby if they are going to appreciate it. In order for the kids to develop into real gamers and not drones who play only the top 10 games at the time, they need to know where these new games came from. There would not be Modern Warfare 2 if there was no Wolfenstein 3-D. If there was no Adventure, there would not be Final Fantasy XIII. If there was no Castlevania, there would be no God of War.

5. Show them a variety of games.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. The same philosophy applies to gaming. If you limit you child’s gaming experience to what you like, chances are their gaming lifestyle will be limited. Let them play Mario, but they need to experience Bomberman as well. Pocket Fighter is great, but also let them experience Final Fantasy. Do you see a trend here?
There is more to this though. Not only should you let the children experience a variety of game genres, you should also not limit the kids to gaming on one console only. Now I don’t believe in buying a small child multiple consoles, but as they grow older, having more than one console is a necessity if you are going to provide a healthy gaming environment.
5. When you buy games go cheap.
Now when there are multiple gamers in the house, there should never be multiple copies of new release games. Unless of course you have the money like that, then by all means go for it. But as most of us know, gaming is not cheap. That is why the bargain bins of your local game shop, big box store, or entertainment store can be a gold mine of gaming goodness. Also know that a lot of the game stores now don’t carry older games, but there are alternatives. You can check pawn shops, thrift stores and yard sales. Craigslist can be your friend if you are looking for cheap gaming.


6. Don’t let them cheat.
Cheat codes and code books are for noobs and incise shortcuts in other areas outside of gaming. Don’t promote them. Make them play the game and complete it before cheat codes should be used. Help them to beat it as a last resort. Completing a game on their own gives them a sense of accomplishment. That is what kids need, to see the ending of a game and know that they did it all by themselves.
7. Read about gaming, online or print.
Most of the time people will ask you “why are the kids playing video games instead of reading?” You can learn to read better and also learn some comprehension skills while playing a role playing game. In role playing games you get a great story, character development, and sometimes social commentary. Now while these games will help your child with reading, they are not the only sources of reading material for gamers. There are always gaming magazines, blogs, and websites to insure that your child is doing continuous reading to supplement the skills that they have acquired from school.
8. Games are fantasy not reality.
There are many games with a high degree of realism out there. Now with all the game related crimes going on, you really need to let the kids know that gaming shouldn’t be taken so seriously. There is no reason to get so mad about losing or anything related to playing a game. If they get frustrated with the game tell them to turn it off and find something else to do. Getting away from the game helps them focus. When they go back to play again, their heads will be clear and they are more likely to succeed than before.
Also note, that the content in gaming has changed over the years. Kids need to be taught accordingly. I had to explain to my boys that when you hurt someone in GTA the cops come and shoot at you and you go to jail. In real life it is the same way, but there are no cheat codes and picking up where you left off with a game save. There are serious consequences. Just make sure they know how the world works.


9. Make sure they have fun.
Are we having fun yet? Do you remember what that is? I know it is hard with the real world kicking your ass and all, but gaming should be the escape from all the stress. The most important thing about gaming is the fun factor. Is that not the reason you started gaming in the first place? Start having fun again and stop being so critical of a game all the time. Implement that same mentality to your children. Some gaming journalists have become so cynical of gaming that is sad to read a game review now. These people are so busy picking out the flaws in a game that they don’t even try to enjoy the game and have fun. This is another rant for a later date though.
Bottom line is this. You can have a house full of resourceful, well rounded gamers, or you can have fanboys who only play the top 10 games all the time. Either scenario will work, but being well rounded in your gaming choices only helps everyone in the long run. Keep gaming and remember to ALWAYS have fun.
It’s only a game.

Andre Tipton

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Shipping This Year

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has announced that upcoming Mario sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, will be released this year. Iwata announced that the new Zelda game will be shown this summer. The new Zelda game will be shown this year as well.
"Super Mario Galaxy 2, a Mario action title in 3D world, will be launched this year," said Iwata during the platform holder's third quarter financial results briefing. "And, we will show the new Zelda title for Wii at this year's E3."
This is great news for all Nintendo fans. Nintendo will also use E3 to show new titles for its Wii Vitality Sensor, said Iwata. This sounds like 2010 might end up being Nintendo's sucker punch to Sony and Microsoft. Looks like E3 2010 is going to be a glorious event.
Source: Videogamer