Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Real Arcade Redux

I once blogged about Real Arcade. This is Real Network's online gaming thingy. You can access it for free, and download all the demos you want. Most of the games are priced between $10 and $20 normally, if you aren't a subscriber. However, for a subscription fee of $8/month to Real Arcade GamePass, you get 1 free game per month, and a $5 discount on all the other games you buy that month. Once you buy a game it is the full version and yours to keep and play forever*. Pretty much all the games I've played on there are worth a pidly $8 which is what you pay to get a free one each month. You do need to remember to log in each month to use your free credit, because they do not cary over at the end of the month. Use it or lose it.

So anyway the reason I am posting about this again now is that I had quit the service a long time ago, but just now resubscribed. If you subscribe now, they are giving away a free game called SuperCollapse II which is a puzzle game somewhat similar to Columns except stuff comes up from the bottom, and it has several variations. Also if you subscribe now, you get another free game of your choice. Your first month is free, and even if you keep the two free games and then quit you pay nothing and have no obligations. You can quit the service at any time. I couldn't pass that deal up.

If you like casual games, especially puzzle games, I recommend checking Real Arcade GamePass out, it's a pretty sweet deal now if you ask me. It got me to resubscribe. You can also just view the list of the games they offer. Also a really cool pirate trading game called Tradewinds Legends is now marked down to $10, or only $5 if you are a subscriber. If you're looking for another game to use your free game credit on, I recommend either Geneforge or Geneforge 2 if you like RPG games. Don't let the retro graphics of those games fool you, they have very cool gameplay depth.

Lastly, if you do decide to sign up for this, and you don't mind me benefiting from it, I can get a 15% off coupon if I email you an invitation that you can use to sign up with. But if you don't, that's okay too. Other than that I do not get any benefit from Real for writing this, I just thought it was a sweet deal (two free games with no strings attached), so I decided to post about it.

* Forever - but don't lose the email account you used to sign up to real, because to access Real Arcade to re-download the game in case you reformatted or something, you need that email address (and preferably the password but it will email that to you if you forgot). However, I think you can back the games up to a CD or something but I haven't tried that to make sure it works when you copy it back to your hard drive.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Best of E3

First of all Nintendo is the "winner" of E3 this year with an absolutely amazing show this year, having 27 playable games on the floor for their new Wii console, tons of DS game announcements, and an awesome press conference for it all. They showed up Sony so bad I could feel Ken's pain. Microsoft even did better than Sony, showing actual games and having tons of great announcements for new 360 games, PC games, and Live Anywhere.

Best Console of E3 goes to Nintendo Wii. This will be a game system that changes the way we play games. I can't wait, actually, this will be the first console I'm excited enough to buy at launch in a long, long time.

This is my list of the best games shown at E3 based on watching video footage and reading previews. Since I didn't go to E3 this year, obviously I didn't get any actual play time in.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Nintendo Wii - This game looks to be absolutely fantastic, probably the best Zelda since Ocarina of Time. Really looking forward to this one. The added functionality of using the wii-mote is just icing on the cake. I can see this game as a definite Wii system-seller. While there will be a GameCube version of this game, I will most definitely be buying it for Wii.

Super Mario Galaxy (working title) - Nintendo Wii - An amazing remake of the quintessential platformer, using the wii-mote for all kinds of new controls on Mario. Looks to be another system-seller for Nintendo Wii. If this and Zelda are available at launch, we're probably looking at the best console launch in the history of gaming.

Nintendo had tons of other great looking games for Wii lined up, and I could devote this whole blog entry to it, but I'll just go ahead and give some of the other platforms some time instead.

Gears of War - Microsoft Xbox 360 - Not just a standard run-and-gun, Gears of War requires strategy and careful use of cover to keep from getting blown away. Duck behind a wall, then lean out and shoot, etc. The gameplay video shown during MS's press conf. was absolutely amazing to watch. And gore is back, baby! Rated M for Mature, this game should satisfy your darker cravings.

Shadowrun (working title) - Microsoft Xbox 360 and PC - An FPS action game set in FASA's amazing pen and paper RPG setting, Shadowrun, this game had some great looking visuals, online multiplayer, and more. Just on concept alone I'm willing to give this game a nod.

Assassin's Creed - Sony Playstation 3 - Looking to be a cross between Thief: The Dark Project and platformer Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, this game combines stealth with acrobatics, in an amazingly cool concept. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any gameplay footage for this yet, but knowing how well this team did on PoPSoT, I'm expecting great things. The trailer for this game is totally awesome, worth a look, go download it now.

Final Fantasy XIII - Sony Playstation 3 - Looking to be a great addition to the premier RPG franchise. This time there will be several spin off games too.

Crysis - PC - This amazing game will be the shooter to look for on the PC. I already blogged about it below.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic - PC - From the creators of Arx Fatalis comes an amazing action/RPG set in the Might & Magic universe. This game has amazing visuals, great environmental effects and interaction (physics, etc), and awesome AI. Looks to be as good as Oblivion, possibly, maybe even better.

There were so many other great looking games shown or announced this year at E3 it is unreal. Late 2006 and 2007 looks to be one of the best times to be a gamer in the history of games!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006



Crytek, the developers of Far Cry have shown their new game Crysis at E3, which uses the greatly enhanced CryEngine. I think I want to cry, this game looks to be "da bomb". Graphics are absolutely stunning, especially the jungle stuff. If this has Far Cry's excellent AI, and the rumors that they are implementing a proper QuickSave function this time out, Crysis could be the first person shooter to watch for on the PC. You can watch the videos on Gamespot's Crysis page.


World of Warcraft Movie

World of Warcraft is heading to the big screen [thanks Ars Technica]. Blizzard has shown that they have a cinematic flair with all of their excellent cut-scenes in their games, so hopefully this will be a first - an actually good video game movie.

Just as long as Uwe Boll goes nowhere near it.


Vanguard to be SOE StationAccess Game

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is the hard-core MMORPG that is being developed by Brad McQuaid at Sigil Games Online. Brad was the lead designer of the orignal EverQuest. Apparently although Sigil previously had arrangements with Microsoft for them to be the publisher, they've bought those rights back and instead have made a deal with Sony Online Entertainment to add Vanguard to their stable of games under the Sony StationAccess Pass program. Good or bad? I dunno, but it's a bit more likely I might give Vanguard a try some day maybe. New brought to you via Aggro-Me, where there is a lot more analysis of this merger.


Lunar Knights DS

Joystiq posted up a blurb about an upcomming RPG for the Nintendo DS, Lunar Knights. This is apparently set in the same world as the awesome Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar: Eternal Blue originally for the Sega CD, then Saturn, Then Playstation. This one has vampires!


Nintendo DS Upcomming Releases

Joystiq has posted a list of over 100 upcomming Nintendo DS titles! Wow, 2006 and 2007 will be great years to own a NDS or NDS Lite!


Best. Game. Review. Evar.

Alex at These Damn Machines Are Killing Me has an interesting take on the FPS game for Playstation 2 and Xbox, Black. Ka-BOOM!


Microsoft's Press Conference

Microsoft's conference was not as exciting as Nintendo's, but still better than Sony's.

They opened up with an amazing demo including a play-through of the first level for Gears of War. This game could be a system-seller, it looks flat out amazing. It's a third-person shooter, with lots of cool gore and amazing damage and weapon effects. You use cover a lot, popping out to shoot, then back to cover, etc. This will be a pure adrenaline-junkie game, fast and furious action.

They announced a bunch of titles but many of them we'd heard of already. They did show a Halo 3 trailer, but it had no gameplay footage. They announced Grand Theft Auto 4 which will debut on the Xbox 360 (but possibly other systems as well). They showed a trailer for Alan Wake, which looks to be a great action/adventure title, but should also get a PC release. They showed some Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway footage. Some Blue Dragon footage that I'd already seen before, but they said this game would hit Japan first, so all the Japanese players can buy it before the US players. Yes, both of them. They showed a trailer for a new Shadowrun game which will also get a PC release, and this was the most exciting news for me, an RPG fan and a big fan of the Shadowrun setting.

They talked a lot about Xbox Live Arcade and announced some games for that. This really is a cool part about the 360, and I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun with it, when I finally get my free Xbox 360. Probably the most exciting title mentioned was Lumines Live, a multiplayer version of the PSP hit puzzler.

The biggest news, however, was the changes to the Xbox Live system. They are calling it Live Anywhere, because you will be able to hook up with Live subscribers via your Xbox 360, your Windows Vista PC, or even your mobile phone. Download a puzzle game from Xbox Live Arcade, and you'll be able to play it on your 360, on your mobile phone, or on your Vista PC. Hook up for a game of Shadowrun and play it on your PC while others are playing on their 360's. It should be an amazing thing if Microsoft does it right. The only downside I see is they didn't say they'd support Windows XP, yet they were bragging about an installed base of hundreds of millions of PC users. Well, yeah, Bill, but we aren't all on Vista yet, and many of us won't even have Vista-ready hardware for a while. Hint hint.

Bill Gates was a terribly boring speaker, mostly because he talked more about the business side of things. It was fun to listen to Peter Moore talk, however, because he pronounced things so funny, like RENAY-saunce, and FRON-chises. Overall though, Microsoft put on a good show, and it was well worth watching if you have any interest in PC gaming or Xbox gaming.


Nintendo Press Conference

Nintendo's press conference at E3 was amazing. They brought the Revolution/Wii out right away, and yes, Wii is apparently the official name, it wasn't a joke. But the Wii looks incredible and is going to have an amazing line-up of games. The "wii-mote" remote/wand controller truly does appear to work very well and will change the way we play games. Here's some of the games they announced for Wii:

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - yes, it's a full Wii game, with enhanced graphics and of course fully using the wii-mote interface, you use the nunchuk addon to control Link's movement and shield, and the wii-mote to aim and attack and for most functions. The interface looked slick. And the wii-mote apparently has a speaker and rumble capability, which is used to great effect in the new Zelda. When you pull your bow string back, you'll hear it right on your wii-mote, and feel it get taunt. When you shove your nun-chuk forward, you'll bash with Link's shield and feel it. Yes, that's right, the nun-chuk also has the motion/position detection in it, and force feedback on it too. And for those unlucky enough not to score a Wii, there will be a version of Twilight Princess released for the GameCube as well with standard GC controls. Best of all, this game will be a launch title for the Wii.

Red Steel - The Ubisoft shooter/brawler. Apparently you're some kind of vigilante or cop, I'm not sure but you shoot bad guys with the wii-mote and move with the nun-chuk, and you can also do all kinds of cool moves, plus you can sword fight with the wii-mote, using it like an actual sword (oh yeah, forgot to mention that you also do this for Link in the Zelda game). While Zelda will concentrate on the adventure and puzzle solving aspects, Red Steel focuses on the action.

Super Mario Galaxy - this will be a system launch Mario game for the Wii and it looked great. You use the wii-mote to direct mario, but it's not clear to me how that worked, although it seems like the wii-mote has very precise motion detection and can detect mere flicks of the wrist to do stuff in Mario.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - we only got to see glimpses of this but it looked amazing and will use a control scheme similar to what I described for Red Steel. This I think will be a 2007 release.

Wii Sports - up to four players can whip our their wii-sticks to play tennis, golf, or baseball, and the motion of the controller is used exactly like you'd expect to control your player, so you'll swing it like a golf club in the golf game, or like a tennis racket in the tennis game, or like a baseball bat in the baseball game. Should be fun, the tennis demo looked really neat.

Several others were mentioned or shown, including a Rayman game, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, ExciteTruck (sort of a 3D "exitebike" but with an off-road 4x4 truck instead), Metroid Prime 3, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. (some kind of beat-em-up I think), Animal Crossing, Disaster: Day of Crisis, Super Smash Bros. Wii, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Batallion Wars Wii, Pilot Wings, Pokemon, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Donkey Kong Wii, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Fire Emblem Wii, Mario Kart Wii, Madden 07, NCAA Football 07, NBA Live, NASCAR 07. Also they said that 27 games would be playable on the E3 floor so we should be hearing a lot more about those games this week.

But that wasn't the only thing exciting at the conference. Nintendo also revealed a bunch of new DS titles, such as a new Yoshi's Island 2, a new Kirby game, a Star Fox game, DiddyKong Racing, Magical Vacation, and more, plus games we already knew about such as the Final Fantasy III remake got some great footage shown. The DS will be the handheld to own this year.

In short, Nintendo pwned Sony, their show was far more exciting and far more cool stuff was shown, with actual gameplay footage, not just cinematics. The only downside is that they did not announce a price or a firm launch date yet.

Monday, May 08, 2006


SONY - Others Innovate, We Immitate!

Sony's big E3 Press Conference was today, watched it live via GameSpot. Several big pieces of news were announced today:

1. Sony's new online service will feature micropayments ala Microsoft's Live Marketplace.

2. Sony is launching the PS3 on November 17 with two versions: a 20gb HD version for $499, and a 60gb HD version for $599.

Edit: 20GB model MAY not have HDMI, wifi, or a memory card slot. Read the spec sheet carefully, it looks like the HD may not be the only difference.

3. Sony's new controller looks exactly like their existing Dual Shock controllers for PS2, except these have some kind of gyro-sensor in them so that you can turn, rotate, tilt, lift, etc and the controller can sense these movements. Basically they are ripping off Nintendo's Revolution/Wii controller here.

4. Final Fantasy XIII will be a Playstation 3 title and looks AMAZING!

Most of the game footage they showed was obviously pre-rendered cinematics, or at the very least, in-game cinematics but not actual gameplay footage. One demo, however, showed some very impressive actual-gameplay footage, called Resistance: Fall of Man. Basically it looks like a very well done first person shooter. Excellent graphics and the gameplay looked solid, but nothing terribly innovative from what I could tell.

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