A Year of Now Playing: March 2017-April 2018

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It’s been a long time since I’ve typed up a Now Playing blog entry. My last edition was published at the end of February 2017.

At the time I was in the middle of playing Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow on the PSP. I don’t remember much from the game other than getting to a point where Logan was on a lift riding it up with enemy forces raining fire down upon him. I didn’t know how I’d ever pass this area so I moved onto another game. I did enjoy the game much more than its prequel, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, but eventually I’d had my fill of the black ops stuff.

Remember Split/Second? It’s that Disney published racing game where you triggered explosions (and some other things) to try and wreck your opponents on your way to victory. It was a welcome game during that Burnout series drought. It doesn’t surpass that best ever racing series, but it was still engaging it a similar destructive way.

Another game that went unfinished was Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny. This PSP entry introduced Kratos as a guest character to the roster. This was released in between the pair of PSP God of War titles. A lot of his abilities from the GoW games up to that point were included. I spent most of my time in the trials challenge mode. This would help in learning the character of your choice. I’m not the biggest fan of 3D fighting games in general so I played this more out of curiosity.

Mafia III‘s early trailers had my interest with the protagonist in Lincoln Clay in 1960s Louisiana. It had promise is how the game handled Clay’s dealing with racism, but it never does much of anything with it other than allow for a few slurs here and there to be spoken by some of the non-playable characters. It’s ultimately a GTA-style clone of an open world game, but thankfully it was quite good at that.

I know Shadow of the Colossus gets talked about with glowing praise, but it didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t a game for me. In a similar way, but where nobody praises it, I can say the same thing about ActRaiser 2.

Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run and Crash: Mind Over Mutant, both on the PlayStation 2, are another pair of unfinished games. I can’t remember exactly what the reason I playing them was. It might have been the game freezing up or a particularly difficult section I didn’t want to deal with.

I had downloaded the Trine trilogy off of the PlayStation Network for my PS4 and played through Trine: Enchanted Edition. It was as I remembered from playing the original version’s demo back on the PS3. It was fun to find uses for each of the three character’s abilities.

For an over-the-top third-person shooter that’s a lot of dumb fun, I suggest helping Fifty get back a diamond encrusted skull in 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Don’t forget to jump dat big ass ramp!

Onto some Game Boy Advance beat-’em-up action I played River City Ransom EX. This is a slightly updated look to the original game on the NES. The main difference is that you can save your progress to an extent. It doesn’t save were you left off just your character’s stats and items. Regardless, I’d get to River City High as normal, but no boss shows up to fight as they should so I couldn’t progress onward. I remember this being my problem on the NES too.

Sega Arcade Gallery has four ports of Sega arcade games. Two of them are some of my favorites: OutRun and Super Hang-On. These two games are surprisingly well done. While you’re definitely better off playing a version on a bigger screen, the GBA isn’t the worst. For the controls it’s done quite good. The A and B buttons are accelerate and brake, respectively. L and R handle the boost in Super Hang-On and the shifting in OutRun. I finished both of these along with the next game.

That game is also on the GBA and it’s Power Rangers Ninja Storm. It’s a very one-note kids game and not fun enough for even one play-through, but at least I did that. There’s only very slight differences in a few level given which set of Rangers you choose at the beginning. It’s definitely not worth a second go-around to see anything you missed. Not bad just very mundane.

For all of you who enjoy The Revenge of Shinobi on the Genesis, be prepared for an awful 2002 game on the GBA also called The Revenge of Shinobi. It doesn’t amaze with its graphics. It also didn’t keep me very long because of the release of Burnout Paradise Remastered.

On Burnout, I said in my previous post that it was still fun to go back to after much time has passed. What I didn’t mention was that it was my first platinum trophy in six years and my ninth one in total. It’s the first platinum I’ve earned on the PS4 just as the original version of the game was my first on the PS3. All nine trophies can be viewed here.

The most recent game completed was Red Faction: Armageddon. I found myself having fun destroying structures and then repairing them. I had to tell myself to move on because I was doing that too often. It probably wouldn’t have taken 10 hours to beat if I had trucked on through. There’s a new game plus mode, but being a typical action game as it is I didn’t feel the need to replay it.

Currently I just started Yakuza 4. Hopefully it won’t take me until May 2019 to tell you about it. ;)

Once again, thanks for reading. Catch me on the podcasts!

GAMEPLAY STATS FROM SELECT TITLES:
* Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow – Ep. 6, Part 5
* Split/Second – Ep. 12; 3215 credits; 22 trophies
* Mafia III – 41 trophies
* Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run – Mission 10: Derailed
* Crash: Mind Over Mutant – 4h59m; 27%
* Trine: Enchanted Edition – Skill XP 316; HP XP: 271; 17 trophies
* Sega Arcade Gallery: OutRun – Score: 17,414,040
* Sega Arcade Gallery: Super Hang-On – Score: 1,383,970
* Burnout Paradise Remastered – 42h; 100%; 92 trophies (Platinum!)
* Red Faction: Armageddon – 10h26m; 100%; 29 trophies

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Mastering The Remaster

On the previous episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast, we talked about our excitement to revisit the classic racing game Burnout Paradise with Burnout Paradise Remastered. Well since then I purchased said game and completed it to a platinum trophy with some other goals in between. I can say that the experience hasn’t diminished in the last decade. It’s still as fun as ever. My only disappointment, a minor one, I can think of is that the graphics don’t look all that much better. I guess it just goes to show how amazing the game looked in 2008 that there wasn’t much need for improvement.

Onto other purchases as of late: Puyo Puyo Tetris and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. The former is the best way to get a Tetris game on a current system. I’ve never been a fan of color matching games like Puyo Puyo so I did buy this title simply for one-half of what it brings which is only the greatest puzzle game ever in Tetris!

The latter was released just last week and while I just started playing Yakuza 4, I couldn’t wait on buying the sixth game. I always do this with the Yakuza series because of how difficult they become to find after not too long.

That’s it for the moment and as always thanks for reading!

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Hart & Usagi #85: 3 Crude Dudes

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On episode 85 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast we welcome back Dan to the show and chat about a variety of topics like the resurgence of using video games as a scapegoat, anticipating the soon to be released Burnout Paradise remaster, Demon’s Souls fans efforts to keep the game alive, and more.

Enjoy and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast on Twitter!

TOPICS:
* President Trump’s Video Games Meeting Included A Violent Game Montage
* The NRA Has a Long History of Scapegoating Violent Video Games
* All the Times Video Games Have Been Linked to Violence
* Trump Raises Issue Of Video Game And Movie Violence, Suggests Ratings Board Is Needed
* Kentucky Governor Suggests Violent Video Games Are Responsible for Mass Shootings
* Demon’s Souls Fans Are Already Testing Private Servers, Here’s How to Join Them
* Free PS3 And PS Vita Games Not Included In PS Plus From 2019
* ESRB Takes Action on Loot Boxes by Creating New Label
* Konami Is Charging Real Money For ‘Metal Gear Survive’ Save Slots
* Burnout Paradise Remastered Microtransaction Listing Is A Mistake, Says EA
* Street Fighter 5’s New DLC Character Release Date Confirmed, See Blanka In Action
* Switch overtakes Wii U lifetime sales as Super Mario Odyssey hits 9 million units sold
* Battlefront II Misses Sales Expectations, Microtransactions Will Return ‘In The Next Few Month’

Listen or Download (1:40:34)

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Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704

Dan: @6h05tly

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Hart & Usagi #84: Remaster The World

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On episode 84 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast we chat about a variety of topics like Awesome Games Done Quick 2018, anticipated games of 2018, a lot of remastered games getting announced, and more.

Enjoy and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast on Twitter!

TOPICS:
* 50 Cent Has Ideas For Another Video Game
* Mike’s anticipated games for 2018
* The “Duke” OG Xbox Controller For Xbox One And PC Gets Price And Release Date
* Dark Souls Remastered On Xbox One, PS4, And PC Announced
* The World Ends With You Is Getting A Nintendo Switch Release
* Burnout Paradise HD Remaster spotted, out in March in Japan – report
* PUBG CEO wants the game on every platform, says Sony is “very strict” about quality
* Street Fighter 5 Arcade Edition Adds Sakura, Blanka, and Sagat for Season 3
* Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Brings 12 Classics To Switch, PS4, Xbox One
* Mega Man 11 Coming to Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One
* Demon’s Souls Shuts Down Online Servers Soon, Losing Multiplayer And More
* It Turns Out Epic Games is Suing a 14 Year Old for Cheating in Fortnite Battle Royale, Now His Mom is Stepping In

Listen or Download (1:14:54)

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Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704

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Hart & Usagi #70: Feel The Electricity

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It’s time for another scintillating Hart & Usagi Podcast episode. We talk about Edge’s top 100 video games list, Nintendo against Fair Use, and the greatness of the original PlayStation among other topics.

Enjoy and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast on Twitter!

NEWS/TOPICS:
* Mortal Kombat X for Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 Canceled
* Mega Man Movie is in Development at Fox
* 20 Brilliant Things About PlayStation
* Wow, Umihara Kawase games coming to PC
* Nintendo’s cracking down on speedrunning and ROM hacking videos
* 3 ways the original PlayStation changed gaming forever
* TGS 2015: Sony Reveals Fresh New PS4 Wireless Headset, Controllers, HDD Bay Covers
* Edge Special List: The 100 Greatest Video Games
* Former ESPN Host Criticizes Gaming Again
* Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Day One Update Is Reportedly Bigger Than Game Itself
* Burnout Spiritual Successor Teased By Ex-Criterion Founders
* New Street Fighter V Character Laura Leaked
* What Are the Best Video Game Remakes?

Listen or Download (1:26:41)

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Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704

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Hart & Usagi #66: A Westward Odyssey

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Steve returns oh so soon to review Enslaved: Odyssey to the West with us along with news of Atlus, Sega, Nintendo, and more. Tune in today!

Enjoy and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast on Twitter!

NEWS/TOPICS:
* Australia passes controversial anti-piracy web censorship law
* SumOfUs.org takes aim at TWC at shareholders meeting
* Europe bans roaming charges, adopts stricter net neutrality rules
* AT&T promises cheap internet for the poor if FCC approves merger with DirecTV
* Sega Learned About Making Quality Games From Atlus, Aim To Regain Trust From Players
* PewDiePie: “Money Doesn’t Make You Happy”
* Shenmue 3 Creator Says Sony Won’t See a Cent of Kickstarter Funds
* Starting Today, GameStop is Selling Retro Consoles and Games
* GameStop Still Wants to Sell Secondhand Digital Games
* Wii U Exclusive Devil’s Third Dev Responds to “Lies and Rumors”
* Acclaimed Shovel Knight Getting Physical Release on Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and 3DS
* PlayStation 20th Anniversary DualShock 4 Getting Standalone Release in September
* The Rock to Star in New Movie Based on Arcade Classic Rampage
* Sony Explains Long Wait for The Last Guardian, and Big Changes to Team Ico
* Nintendo Pitched F-Zero Wii U to Burnout Dev
* Ken Announced for Street Fighter V, Additional Beta Phases Planned
* Prototype SNES PlayStation Found In The Wild, Unicorn And Big Foot Expected Next
* Franchises that Deserve the Platinum Treatment
* Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Listen or Download (2:32:23)

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Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704

Steve: @ebbderelict | ipernity blog

@HartandUsagi

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Pick 5: Favorite Open World Games

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It has been several years since this Pick 5 feature has been seen around, but here it is. As the title states this one will be about my favorite open world games. The games in this genre include whole franchises and single titles of other series. We’ll be seeing a little of both in this Pick 5. Time to get this started.

ASSASSIN’S CREED II
The initial game in the series was a bit basic, but the concept was solid. Despite being a bit repetitive and, yes, sadly boring at times, there was potential. This was realized in the sequel–this game–Assassin’s Creed II. With a much better story and an excellent protagonist in Ezio, ACII became an instant favorite to many gamers. Once I got around to playing it a few years ago, it was almost overwhelming how many different things there’s to do in the game. I’ve since played through its sequels Brotherhood, Revelations, and I’m currently at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed III. I can easily say that Assassin’s Creed II is still my favorite. Obtaining a platinum trophy doesn’t hurt my fondness for the game either.

BURNOUT PARADISE
Ah, yes. The racing series to end all racing series for me. When Acclaim was publishing the first two games I didn’t even know Burnout existed. Granted this was at a time when I was exclusively playing the Smackdown series of wrestling games. It wasn’t until EA published the amazing entry Burnout 3: Takedown that I got my first taste of the high octane action of Criterion Games’ pedigree. The idea of all of this awesomeness in an open world sounded too good to be true. Thankfully sometimes the “too good” does become a reality. Burnout Paradise was this reality. It’s easily my most played game of the 7th generation of gaming consoles. At around 500 hours of total gameplay time with everything absolutely completed (including the platinum trophy), this game comes highly recommended to arcade-style racing game fans.

RED FACTION: GUERRILLA
A series that started on the PC as a first-person shooter with destructible walls. It was pretty unique for the time. The initial two games eventually saw releases on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. I did play the demo of the first game and was impressed, but I never did bother with the whole thing. It wasn’t until Red Faction went to a third-person perspective in the open world genre with Guerrilla. They took the destructibility to a whole new level with entire structures being able to be brought down with a simple melee weapon knocking out the support beams. Overall a worth while and fun time I’d say.

SLEEPING DOGS
Originally a True Crime game subtitled Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs eventually saw the light of day when it was released after delays and even a cancellation. I was never a fan of the True Crime games and I might have never given this middle-of-the-road title a chance if it hadn’t been renamed. I’m glad it was giving a second life as I enjoyed its open world action quite a bit. The hand-to-hand combat was well done and the context sensitive executions were a great way to spice things up. Think of Sleeping Dogs as Grand Theft Auto in the far east and you’ll get the picture.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION
A majority of Incredible Hulk games don’t let you truly rampage as Bruce Banner’s alter ego like so many Spider-Man games allow you to be Spidey. This release on the 6th generation of gaming consoles does let you do exactly that. You get to HULK SMASH as much as you want with tons of moves able to be unlocked. The graphics aren’t the best even by PS2 and Xbox standards, but they’re serviceable. And besides you won’t care all that much when you’re having a blast throwing cars at enemies and toppling destructible buildings. Nothing feels as good as dropping a huge green elbow from the top of a skyscraper down upon a helpless military tank!