Musings of a Gamer XIV


1. Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing 2

Sonic and Sega All Star Racing was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of 2010. It was easy to jump into and rewarded continued play with a bevy of unlockables. Many of the characters and levels harkened back to SEGA's glory days – the racers ranged from Sonic to Ryo Suzuki and tracks from House of the Dead to Jet Set Radio - providing extra impetus to keep playing and access everything on offer. The single player was deep and varied and it also boasted a robust multiplayer that rounded out an excellent package.

I’m happy to hear that Sega's karter will be getting a sequel, most likely later this year. Being a hopeless devotee to all things Sega, upon hearing this news I immediately started day dreaming about the characters I'd love to see on the roster. Kazuma Kiryu would be great, decked out in his best eighties suit and visiting super violence upon Alex Kidd's massive face and setting fire to Sonic's eyebrows. Sticking with modern day characters, how about Bayonetta making an appearance on her motorbike? The car from Out Run seems like an obvious choice, top down with a blonde in the passenger seat, but Eco the Dolphin might require a bit more thought (can dolphins drive?). Toejam and Earl and the cops from Virtua City would just need a suitable vehicle, and the avatar from Space Harrier or the rider from Panzer Dragoon could race minus a vehicle, similar to Opa-Opa in the original. And finally, just for the kids, let’s get Seaman in the mix. That man-faced, fishy nightmare belongs behind a wheel and is a ready-made cover star.

2. Final Word on the Vita (until the 22nd)

The PS Vita entered and then vacated my Amazon basket probably half a dozen times over the last week, but on Saturday it finally made it past checkout as "Me" eventually won the argument. £205 for the WiFi model and the 8GB card - as a smartphone owner I couldn’t see any reason to go the 3G route - was a price that I could live with. I’m now rather excited for next Wednesday, following the deluge of print and digital coverage the Vita has received over the last few days. I spent a further £45 on Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Lumines: Electronic Symphony and Rayman Origins, but being that they were all ordered separately I'm slightly concerned that I will end up with a Vita at launch but nothing to play on it. If that is the case, then I'll most likely download a copy of Super Stardust Delta to destroy my thumbs and scratch my Vita itch.


3. Stationary Gaming

With the PS Vita set to swallow much of my free time over the next month, I'll need to be a bit more efficient with the rest of my gaming. I’ve started Assassin's Creed Revelations and have already emerged from the always problematic opening hour, a stretch that has made every AC game to date a struggle early on. Playing as Ezio is as fun as ever and Constantinople looks to be another excellent recreation of one of history’s most important and vibrant cities, but I could definitely do without all that Desmond, techno-babble nonsense.

My desire to play FFXIII-2 has all but diminished for now, so I'll most likely put it off until the spring. I'm still greatly looking forward to Binary Domain; if you aren't excited by the prospect of a man peeling off his face to reveal a metallic skull, then there is something seriously wrong with you. With the arrival of Vita, BD may no longer be a day one purchase but I'll certainly be looking to play it sooner rather than later. Finally, March will bring Mass Effect 3. I'm not as excited as some about Shepard's third outing, but I know the closer it gets the more enthusiastic I'll become.

4. Fear the Norman

I finished Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) last night and was rather impressed by the whole experience. It felt like a real Resi, with nothing sacrificed in the move to a portable device. There was a nice balance between action and slow-burn scares and just enough ammo to prevent despair, though it’s scarce enough to discourage a gung-ho approach. It looks great, runs smoothly and with the aid of the Circle Pad Pro is easy to control. I can't imagine having to deal with the antiquated controls without the second stick, and would’ve probably abandoned it early on without the benefit of the unsightly add-on.

Like most Resident Evils, the story is pretty forgettable. At times it’s a little confusing as it struggles to convey who exactly is supposed to be betraying who, even when it’s trying its hardest to keep you in the loop. The voice acting is surprisingly good, but the script is appalling. The last boss is hugely disappointing; he is a secretive character that mutates into a tyrant and soaks up more than five solid minutes of concentrated gun-fire. He also boasts the most despicable of moves, the one hit kill, and he's not afraid to use it if you get too close. His saving grace is his name. Norman is an interesting choice for a ten foot tall monstrosity, though it does provide plenty of unintentional comedy as Jill and Chris insist on referring to him by name at all times.


5. Trust the Graph

I came across the above graph whilst skim reading Sega’s Wikipedia entry, during one of my regular sojourns to everyone’s favourite time waster. Taken from Sega's annual financial reports, or so Wikipedia claims, it details the free-fall of a console manufacturer, quantifying the cost of Sega's mistakes and the realities of playing third fiddle in a highly competitive console market. It clearly shows how costly a mistake it was to discontinue the Mega Drive/Genesis when it was still raking in the money, replacing it with a new console (the Saturn) that was rushed out the gate and therefore lacked software, retail and consumer support. Things continued to get worse with the Dreamcast and the dramatic improvement of fortunes from 2001 to 2003 coincides with Sega's move to software only status.

Sega's fall from grace is a cautionary tale, one that today is as relevant as ever with two of the three console manufacturers posting huge financial losses in 2011. These figures serve to highlight the cost of being in the console market, and make it easier to envision a situation where we could find ourselves without one or more of the big three manufacturers in the near future. It’s also a rather sobering read for anyone who is still holding out hope for a future Sega console. Looking at these figures, they'd be mad to even consider it.

Comments

  1. Sega cart racing looks fun. I might have to check that out. I didn't even notice it...

    I still haven't beaten AC Brotherhood. I just lost interest. AC Revelations is going to have a long wait. FFXIII-2 and Binary Domain are going to have to wait too. I'm going to play Mass Effect 3 right away though. I just love that series too much.

    RE Revelations looks good, but I still don't care enough about the 3DS. My PSP still has plenty of life left.

    It was sad to see Sega leave the console race. It's not as much fun with them gone. That being said, they burned us with the Sega CD. They also didn't take Sony seriously enough... The Dreamcast was great though. Too bad it was too little too late...

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    1. Sonic & Sega ASR is really good fun and would be really cheap now too.

      Sega made too many mistakes (Mega CD - 32x - pulling the plug on the MD too early - rushing the launch of the Saturn & never fully supporting it etc....). Its a shame as both the Saturn and the Dreamcast are great consoles.

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  2. have you checked out escape plan for vita? looks really cool and at only $15 it won't hurt your wallet too bad.

    also, have you seen how sony is selling vita games on psn? quite possibly one of the dumbest things sony has done so far. there is no vita section and the games aren't listed under new releases or view by title. you actually have to use the search function and type the name of the game. i looked for escape plan under e and all they had was a game video. you would think a company that was launching a pretty big product would have their vita games front and center on psn.

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    Replies
    1. Don't know too much about escape plan, but was bit concerned that it might be style over substance.

      I went onto both the UK and US stores last night looking for Vita games. I couldn't find anything and just presumed they weren't up there yet. That's really shit, but hopefully they will sort it out before next week. Hopefully

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    2. this reply is in response to your twitter post regarding the feel good vita stories coming out of japan. every time i tried to reply it wouldn't go through.

      i read those stories too and they remind me a lot of the 3ds stories right after launch. it's almost like they are taking the same stories and just switching 3ds with vita. it will be just fine.

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    3. There just seems to be a lot of negative press surrounding the Vita at the moment. I have also read that Australia's two or three biggest game retailers have decided not to stock the Vita ( I seem to recall something similar happening with the Go). Not a great start

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  3. RE: Revelations looks pretty sweet. I remember some people trying to tell me that I wouldn't need the second circle pad to play anything, so I could still get a 3DS. But your thoughts are precisely why I am waiting on a unit with the second pad built-in. I just can't see myself using that lame add-on.

    This next week of waiting for the Vita is going to kill me. Can't wait to play that thing. Hearing so many good things about the games I am getting. I hope you get a game of some kind along with the system.

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    1. I played the MGS3 3D demo last night. It felt so weird not being able to use the second stick, and as strange as it may sound, I think I actually prefer the added bulk that the circle pad provides. The 3DS seems almost too small in my hands without it. It's still as ugly as fuck though!

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  4. Afraid to say it but I will sadly be passing on the Vita, getting my books edited has been more costly than I thought. I will get one some time within the year I hope but my excitement for it has died down do what I've heard of the Uncharted game. its not that its a bad game but just simply not the Uncharted we all know and love. my other game I was super excited for was Escape Plan which I heard is a download only which also turned me off a bit.
    Binary Domain looks interesting but I doubt I'll be picking it up. I played the demo and wasn't impressed, I like a good story and they seem to be going the same way Vanquish went. level based combat with some dialog as to why your going through it all. the levels felt very bland and the enemies felt like I was at target practice. the shooting and cover system felt very good however, and that was also a demo so the rest of the game could be very different, some of the bosses looked pretty interesting.
    I'm looking forward to Syndicate this week, it looks really interesting and I got it for $40 so I'm happy with that. I also can't wait for ME3, especially not that I've played the co-op. its so good, the meleeing is awesome, the shooting is ten times better.... its just really fun, its like ME2 on crack with better gameplay, lol

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    1. How's the book going? I'm sure it will be worth all the effort and expense once its finished.

      Still looking forward to Uncharted, though I'm not expecting anything on par with the consoles games. Lumines and Super Stardust are the other two titles I'm excited for.

      If Binary Domain is anything like Yakuza (it comes for the yakuza studio and creator) then the story may well end up being its greatest strength. I'd be very surprised if it were light on narrative, though you can't really tell from the demo.

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