New Releases 2013: March

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March is a month of big releases and one of the mainstays of this month over the last eight years has been God of War. Being a big fan of the series I was quite disappointed of the demo for Ascension. I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually, but I don’t feel the need to right away like I have in the past.

I’m more interested in Tomb Raider and a possibility of Darkstalkers Resurrection, a compilation of the second and third arcade games.

WEEK of 3/3
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (3DS)
MLB 13: The Show (PS3, PSV)
MLB 2K13 (PS3, X360)
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PS3, X360)
Scribblenauts Collection (DS)
SimCity (PC)
The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition (WU)
Tomb Raider (PS3, X360, PC)
Total War: Shogun 2 Gold Edition (PC)

WEEK of 3/10
Darkstalkers Resurrection (PS3, X360)
God of War: Ascension (PS3)
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC)

WEEK of 3/17
Dead or Alive 5 Plus (PSV)
Gears of War: Judgment (X360)
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (WU, 3DS)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (WU)
Resident Evil 6 (PC)
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PS3, X360, PC, WU)

WEEK of 3/24
Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel {PS3, X360)
BioShock Infinite (PS3, X360, PC)
Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection – Seekers Edition (X360)
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
Pandora’s Tower (WII)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PS3, X360)

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Hart & Usagi Podcast #10

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The Hart & Usagi Podcast has hit double digits!

*the crowd goes wild*

We’re coming at you with a variety of topics as you can see below. Joining us once again as our special guest and 3-time returning champion, SonicHomeboy. Take a listen and enjoy our longest episode to date at 1 hour and 26 minutes.

TOPICS:
* 2011 awards
* Great games of last year
* PS3 favorites
* Online pass/piracy
* PlayStation Vita game prices
* Street Fighter X Tekken

Listen or Download

2011 Award Winners

ANTI-COUNTERFEITING TRADE AGREEMENT
The European version of SOPA/PIPA is called ACTA and it’s worse! Learn about it HERE. Sign the petition to stop it NOW at accessnow.org. Anybody can sign regardless of where you live. Please do so. Keep on fighting! Thank you.

It’s now time to enter the strange world of the 2011 gaming awards from yours truly.

BEST BEAT-‘EM-UP
When it comes to beat-’em-ups, I know what I like. It’s my favorite genre after all. I played a bunch of them this last year and Streets of Rage 2 is still the very best of what this genre has to offer.

To an extent Final Fight One on GBA is my preferred version over the arcade just because it isn’t as cheap and it has a few bonus extras like the Street Fighter Alpha versions of Cody and Guy to keep it fun.

The SNES version of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, while simple, has a great music and play mechanics to keep this game out of licence game hell.

Capcom’s Knights of the Round was never one I got into very much before, but last year I played a bit of the SNES port. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did. The character of Percival helped in this with his dashing ability.

Streets of Rage 2 (GEN, PSN)
Final Fight One (GBA)
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (SNES)
Knights of the Round (SNES)

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WORST BEAT-‘EM-UP
I also know what a horrible beat-’em-up is. Revenge of the Wounded Dragons is definitely that. Cheap tactics are the order of the day and instead of using Dragon Rage to kill enemies off faster, I was standing still gaining health back. It was a frustrating game and its memory has stuck with me.

The boss fight on stage eight of Streets of Rage against the two women without the backup puts this game here. Plain and simple.

Magic Sword and Rush’N Attack aren’t as bad. But they did have things about them which made them less exciting. The former made you feel like you had to hurry through the stages, but doing so only made you take more damage. The latter was just a bit too simple, but other than that I can’t complain all that much about it.

Revenge of the Wounded Dragons (PSN)
Magic Sword (PSN)
Streets of Rage (PS3)
Rush’n Attack (NES)

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BEST SCORE CHASER
Whether it’s shooting rocks or ice in Super Stardust HD, playing Plinko in Peggle, or block stacking in Tetris, there’s always a friend who’s score you’re trying to beat. With me it was getting over 348 million points in Alien Crush which was the most fun to score high in for 2011.

Tetris (PSN)
Alien Crush (PSN)
Peggle (PSN)
Super Stardust HD (PSN)

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MOST VISCERALLY SATISFYING
Beating down fools is fun in any game, but certain games do it with brutal style be it with hidden weapons in a stealthy fashion like in Assassin’s Creed or street brawling in Yakuza. The most satisfying moves to pull off this time was in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

Yakuza (PS2)
Assassin’s Creed (PS3)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Demon’s Souls (PS3)

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MOST SURPRISINGLY GOOD GAME
These games are the ones where you have very little, if any, expectations of them being any good. Duke Nukem: Time to Kill is a perfect example of this. It gets hated on for being a Tomb Raider clone and the critics are correct. It’s not a game I would recommend, but I somehow managed to scrape some fun from the bottom of this old crusty barrel.

One game I can recommend, however, is Run Saber. It’s a clone as well, but a decent one similar in most ways to Strider. Atlus even published great games back in the Super Nintendo days!

Duke Nukem: Time to Kill (PSX)
Run Saber (SNES)
Art of Fighting 2 (SNES)
Shadowgate Classic (GBC)

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MOST FUN VS. USAGI704
In one of the most odd award categories, but fitting for me, is which game did I enjoy the most when facing off against Usagi704. Is it the copious amounts of Mortal Kombat matches? What about the surprisingly good port of Art of Fighting 2? It was actually the matches we had on the Genesis version of Super Street Fighter II way back this time last year.

Super Street Fighter II (GEN)
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection (PSN)
Mortal Kombat 3 (PSX)
Art of Fighting 2 (SNES)

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MOST DISAPPOINTING GAME
There’s a number of ways for a game to be disappointing. Half-Life 2: Episode One is an example of simply not being as good or memorable as the previous main game. Rainbow Six Vegas was an unfortunate case of not being able to pass a boss which was glitched. It wasn’t a big deal once I viewed the underwhelming small amount of the game that was left.

NBA Jam was very disappointing in its Remix mode. The camera angle wasn’t good at all for 21 or Domination. Being a big fan of the original arcade game and still really liking the Classic Campaign in this new edition made this all the more upsetting.

NBA Jam (PS3)
Half-Life 2: Episode One (PS3)
Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3)
Robocop Versus The Terminator (SNES)

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DOWN RIGHT CRAP GAME
I’ve played some crap games in 2011. You’ve already met Revenge of the Wounded Dragons. Now meet GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. It would’ve won this category, but at least I could explain in my review what was wrong with the game. Then I played a game where I couldn’t. This pile of trash goes by the name of Army of Two.

Revenge of the Wounded Dragons (PSN)
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (PS2)
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (PS2)
Army of Two (PS3)

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BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE
It’s no secret I adore Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. In 2011 I bought the Prince of Persia Trilogy and got the platinum trophy for said game. With that said, I’ve played the game quite a number of times. I needed something new. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was new, but the experience was similar to the first game. How about new and fresh experience? Assassin’s Creed fit, but it was a bit too repetitive.

This is where Demon’s Souls came in. It was a risk since I usually don’t get into many games of its type. However, the risk paid off. I found the challenge to be overall less than hyped to be, but a challenge nonetheless. The boss fights were very memorable and gave me a sense of accomplishment. No other game I’ve played in recent memory can claim this.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS3)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
Assassin’s Creed (PS3)
Demon’s Souls (PS3)

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ABSOLUTE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR
Continuing on the theme of fresh, new gaming experiences, each of these four nominees for 2011 Game of the Year delivered this in one way or another.

Gunstar Heroes is a run-‘n-gun which isn’t new to me, but the amount of variety in the stages and bosses of such a game is. I mean there’s a more traditional shoot-’em-up stage in this game. Treasure’s crazy, but good.

The ultimate winner is Yakuza! It has everything I like about such a game. The story is very good and the fighting mechanics are one hell of a brutally fun time. It’s not often after playing a game that I get a mental reminder to play the next game in the series. This has been the case with Yakuza.

Gunstar Heroes (GEN)
Yakuza (PS2)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Demon’s Souls (PS3)

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Now Playing: July 2011

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This month was unexpectedly worse in quality gaming than I expected. While I did enjoy my time with Alien Crush, Peggle, Tekken 6 on PSP, Super SFII Turbo HD Remix and a few others, some game just got on my nerves.

NBA Jam was the first to be a lot of fun and then it turned into a travesty when I tried to play half-court matches in Remix mode. It’s also very hard to tell your distance vs. an opponent to make a block. The CPU players don’t help things by being merciless even on Easy. Thankfully the original mode is still fantastic after all of these years!

Of course the biggest problem of all was Army of Two. I kept on calling it dumb via my updates on Twitter. When I looked at reviews for this game from ’08, I couldn’t believe how many were giving it fairly good passing marks. I didn’t play a 8 out of 10 game. Nowhere near it. They all claimed that the AI partner is horrible, but that this was made up for by having a friend play along with you. It’s not. Stay away from this 3 out of 10 BrickBeef McDudeShooter*.

Half-Life 2: Episode One and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas were the best of the bunch for this last month. The latter I had to consider finished when it didn’t let me continue on with the last two objectives by always saying I failed. I know I was playing the mission in question correctly when I checked out gameplay on YouTube.

The former, Half-Life 2: Episode One, was the great gameplay I liked from HL2 in bite size. This game I actually was able to finish. Being away from this style of game for as long as I have made it feel a little old in how it played. By this I mean I’m used to recharging health, clearly marked objectives, and a very linear path. I’m okay with this since it’s Half-Life after all. It was a fun experience, but, as I’ve read many times, I’m very likely to enjoy Episode Two much more.

In closing, I finished six games this month giving me 24 total for 2011. It’s probably the most in a long time. Listed below are those games and dates. Thanks for checking my blog out!

Alien Crush (PSN) – 6/27
NBA Jam (PS3) – 7/1
Peggle (PSN) – 7/6
Half-Life 2: Episode One (PS3) – 7/12
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3) – 7/21
Army of Two (PS3) – 7/26

A Pile of Crap: Army of Two

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I started playing Army of Two last Saturday (July 23) and since then it’s been all downhill from there. Read on to see just how much I end up loathing this game.

SATURDAY
* Starting up Army of Two. I heard EA’s shutting down its online modes in August.

* Army of Two just froze up on me. Quite surprising with the weather we’re having. ;)

* Just experienced Army of Two’s dumb AI partner standing around and not healing me. Fun!

* The aggro gimmick in Army of Two isn’t as awesome as the game thinks it is.

SUNDAY
* I’m all for dumb fun, which is what a game like The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is, but Army of Two is just dumb minus the fun. I only started playing it because I read that EA is already shutting down (it’s a 2008 game) the online modes in a few weeks. I don’t feel I’ll be missing anything now.

* @thewesker: “Bioshock 2. I wish I had nice things to say about it. But I don’t.”
REPLY: Insert “Army of Two” for me.

* A few places in Army of Two if you wait too long enemies will start spawning behind you. What a dumb game.

MONDAY
* A slog through shit is a perfect description for Army of Two.

This game tries too hard to tackle the topic of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower spoke about all those years ago. It’s definitely a topic worth talking about, but it’s not something a video game should be concerned with. This game is too dumb for that. It ties it into a job to frame and kill the two main characters all without giving the player much reason to care.

Recent Demos IV: The 40th Day

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I had some demos piling up on my PS3 and PSP so I figured I’d play a handful and give you my thoughts on them.

METAL GEAR SOLID: PEACE WALKER
Simply put I don’t have the patience for these types of games especially on a portable system. I remember enjoying the original PS1 game, but the fun of this series has eluded me ever since.

The game did look great and the controls were well thought out, but that’s about all I can say since I’m not a fan of these types of games.

Rating: Thumbs Down

ARMY OF TWO: THE 40TH DAY (PSP)
This demo showed just how much different the PSP version of the game is compared to the main console game. The shooting in the game is an overhead style with the face buttons being used as you would in Super Smash TV on the SNES.

The aggro system is much more simple too. All you do is press right or left on the d-pad to set your partner’s aggro and you’ll be whatever he’s not set at.

It doesn’t seem like the game would be all that long. It definitely doesn’t seem to be a very good game as seen with the overall Metacritic score of 49/100.

Rating: Thumbs Down

HEAVY RAIN
This is one game that I was interested in from the start. It looks amazing, it sounds amazing, and the action scenes are a lot of fun. The mundane activities aren’t as much fun, but I’m still probably going to get it. It does something a bit different which I can appreciate.

Rating: Thumbs Up

VANCOUVER 2010
As games based on the Olympics usually go, they’re normally pretty bad across the board. Little has changed with the most current one, Vancouver 2010.

Only the Super G and ski jump events were available. The latter lacked any tutorial so I was completely lost on what had to be done when. The former did have a tutorial, which makes the lack of one for the ski jump very odd, and even though I knew what I was doing I still never did good enough to place anything other than last.

It seems like it would be more fun if there was more of an explanation as to what I needed to do. If the full retail game is missing tutorials for some of the events then it’s one you should steer clear of.

Rating: Thumbs Down

SONIC & SEGA ALL-STARS RACING
I can see how this would be entertaining to those that like Mario Kart, but would rather look at something different and race with different characters than are the norm. That sounds great even to me, but in the end I still had problems with it that will keep me away.

Collecting the weapons is sometimes more trouble than it should be. When following close behind another racer if you are going for the same weapon location as they are you’ll get nothing since it hasn’t reappeared yet. I’ve also had this problem in Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart.

Once you get a weapon it doesn’t end up being very effective in helping you place even one spot higher. I also think that the rubber banding of racing games are terrible in general and this game looks to have an unhealthy dose of it.

Rating: Thumbs Down

Gaming Update incl. Mercenaries 2 + 11 Games

Over the last few weeks I managed an addition of 11 games to my collection. Here they are.

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Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES)
As I mentioned previously, either twitter, here, or both, I went a little too crazy with the steel wool on my first copy of the game making it no longer work. This copy works great as is and shall remain that way.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES)
At $5 this was the best deal I’ve ever seen for this game. Usually it goes for at least $9-10. I was going to get Double Dragon II for the Game Boy, but I had to settle for this instead. That’s not a bad thing.

God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
I originally played the copy that was disc only that came with my God of War PSP. I decided that since I see the game all of the time that I’d get a complete new copy. Next for this same treatment is Daxter.

Army of Two (PS3)
I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but apparently someone out there thinks this game has homosexual overtones in it. Please. As the person that I am I had to purchase it because of that. It’s my way of saying “Screw you.”

Soldiers of Fortune (GEN)
This game may sound like a game that you know of, but it’s not. This soldier is plural and not first-person in anyway.

Rest of the purchases:
Valis III (GEN)
Chase H.Q. II (GEN)
Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP)
Mirror’s Edge (PS3)
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (PS3)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (GB)

Onto the gaming update portion of this blog post.

I’d recently played some more of the downloadable Super Street Fighter II Turbo and of the just bought BlazBlue against Usagi704. Not a great performance on my part since I’ve not played much of the fighting games as of recently.

Yesterday I did manage to capture Carmona in Mercenaries 2. That mission was a pain for the drive back to the HQ as I’m sure VixDiesel can understand.

I’ve also uploaded a video showing, as best I could, the ridiculous things that happen when simply driving a car in Mercenaries 2. It includes commentary to get across how absurd it all is.

Lastly, another video I uploaded was of some nearby fireworks that I could see just above the distant treeline from my front yard.