Now Playing: December 2019


The previous three months has been a trying time to find a game I can get into. I succeeded, but the percentage was low. The racing games of Hydro Thunder (PS), Burnout 2: Point of Impact (PS2), and Flatout 2 (PS2) were more of the usual rubber-banding AI opponents that can make for a frustrating experience.

Flatout 2 had the worst of this issue, but the most annoying problem was the destructible track elements that got in the way on later laps once they were destroyed the debris was laying about. Burnout 2’s deal was solely the issue of the AI being perfect. I was having fun even when not winning, but once a certain mountain area track was what I was currently racing there seemed to be no way to progress regardless of the car I selected. Arcade racer Hydro Thunder was fun, but the bare bones presentation and odd decision to lock tracks behind a currency earning progression system was where I fell off of this one.

I then went to portable side of gaming with my DS Lite and PSP. I was hankering for some Puzzle Quest, but Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was too much of a departure of what made the first game so enjoyable. On top of that they added timed puzzle to complete. This is not what I call a fun Puzzle Quest experience. It was an immediate turn this game off moment.

I had the sequel on hand so I inserted the cartridge for Puzzle Quest 2. It was much more of the traditional fun game with additions that are much more welcome. There isn’t any timed puzzled, thankfully. I didn’t complete the game, but at least I had gotten my fill of Puzzle Quest in a more satisfying way.

Medal of Honor Heroes 2 was a first person shooter, as one would expect, but it’s on the PSP. Because of this everything hinges on how good the controls are. They’re…decent. It’s not a quick reflexes style of the recent Call of Duty titles on home consoles. It’s quite plodding to be very honest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mainly suffer from AI that can aim accurately. This is bad when you’re under a time limit to get out of a base that’s going to explode! This is precisely the scenario I was in when I hung this game’s boots up and moved on.

The game I moved onto was a 2019 released game, if you can believe it. It was The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. Not a new game in practice since the original version was from 1994 on the Super Nintendo. I love the original and this is definitely a worthy improvement. I’m not fond of the two new characters or that you can’t grab and throw the level 1 boss, but otherwise it’s excellent. The game didn’t need a two-player mode, but it’s done well enough with both players sharing the life and blaster (battery in the new version) meters.

Finally, I not only bought The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors in the last month or so, but I was also given Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night by Usagi704 for Xmas. My total new games for the year of 2019 is a big ol’ seven.


Hart & Usagi #70: Feel The Electricity


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!

* 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


Pick 5: Favorite Open World Games


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Games that Need Sequels

A recent Game Sack episode was on the topic of past games which they felt needed sequels. If you listened to the previous episode of our podcast you would’ve heard us slightly touch on this topic.

Well I’m here to give you my top five games which I’d love to see a new entry from.

Burnout Paradise 2
It wasn’t until Burnout 3: Takedown that I’d even heard of this game series, but that didn’t stop me from becoming a fan right away. I’m sure a number of fans would like Burnout: Takedown 2, but I opt for a sequel to Burnout Paradise from 2008. All Criterion would have to do is give me a new city to drive around in.

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within II
Before the reboot of Prince of Persia with The Sands of Time in 2003, I wasn’t a fan of the 2D games. However that all changed once I got a taste of the wonderful wall running and platforming that was on display. The combat wasn’t very good, though, just serviceable. In the follow-up, Warrior Within, the combat received a surprisingly fun upgrade and it didn’t feel ridged anymore. Sure the tone can be lightened up for a Warrior Within II and, no, I don’t count The Two Thrones as this wanted title. It introduced speed kills which made the combat engine mostly useless.

Power Blade 3
Natsume has quite a good track record as a developer. They take what would likely be an otherwise typical licensed game and make the gameplay actually competent. When it comes to the series in question, Power Blade was a fun take on the choose-any-stage-in-any-order style which started with Mega Man. The hero’s weapon of choice, a boomerang, was also quite fun to use. Power Blade 3 for downloadable services, please!

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks II
In 1997 Midway tried their hand at an action game for their Mortal Kombat fighting franchise. The idea sounds great on paper, but the ultimate result, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, was a disaster. However, in 2000, a larger disaster in the form of Mortal Kombat: Special Forces was also created and released. This is why in 2005 their third attempt was surprisingly successful. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was a great 3D brawler with all of the usual MK flair along with a huge helping of MK and MKII nostalgia. Maybe for PS4 NetherRealm Studios can try their hand at creating Mortal Kombat: Black Dragon starring Kano and Kabal. I’d be up for that.

Final Fight 4
As a big fan of the beat-’em-up genre, I hold the original Final Fight in high regard. With the two Super Nintendo sequels I loved the series even more. As least where Final Fight 3 is concerned. This third SNES game gave the characters the ability to have fighting game like special moves. Each also had a super bar which could then be used to unleash a super move. A fourth game with Final Fight 3 as a base would be awesome. Also because we still need to wash the taste of Streetwise out of our collective mouths.


Now Playing: June 2013


Five games total played for the previous 30 days. Initially I played Wonder Boy in Monster World via PSN, but it was too old school for me despite being of that gaming era myself. Check out my detailed thoughts on the game in the previous update.

In a second update a little over a week ago, I talked about playing with the GPY clan in Burnout Paradise and going through the single player story missions in F.E.A.R. 3 along with RivalShadeX.

In F.E.A.R. 3 we had completed up through Interval 5 at the time. Since then RivalShadeX and I finished the game twice. Both of us played as each character and it was fun times indeed. We also played some multiplayer modes as well. These are co-op too. There’s the typical wave survival mode, a possession mode (Soul King) to get more points than other players, and a mode called “F***ING RUN!” where a “wall of death” is always closing in. Players need to keep moving while taking out enemies along the way. I was surprised as anybody would be that there were a couple others playing this. I had to create the games, of course.

The other two games played was Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on the Super Nintendo and Double Dragon on the Game Boy. I just played around on UMK3 a little bit with some cheat codes. Shao Khan didn’t allow me to have an easy finished game to add to my list for this year.

Double Dragon also didn’t work out in this fashion either. This edition on the Game Boy isn’t nearly as easy as the sequel was. The first two missions are simple enough. It’s midway through Mission 3 where the pits of death and Abobos come out to play. It wouldn’t be so bad if losing a life started you at least somewhat close to where you died. Not the case here. A life loss means you return to the very start of the mission. I wasn’t able to get any further than the first set of moving platforms in Mission 4. Everyone knows the platforming in the Double Dragon series never worked out well. It’s what sadly does me in and you can watch my downfall in my 18+ minute video.

Thanks for reading and viewing.


U.N.F.E.A.R. 3


It has been fun this last seven days. On Friday I got back into Burnout Paradise thanks to a GPY game event. I was joined by fellow members RivalShadeX, madtyger, and SonicHomeboy. Sadly usagi704 couldn’t play as planned because his PS3 wasn’t reading discs. He’s in the process of getting it fixed.

The rest of us played on and it was the usual high speed fun that I’ve now racked up 430 hours playing since 2008. That’s about 86 hours a year or around 7.1 hours a month. If you ask me, I won the event based on those hours played alone. :P

The other GPY-ish game I played was F.E.A.R. 3. I started it on Sunday the 9th in co-op with RivalShadeX. Since then we’ve played three different times completing five stages (or as the game calls them, Intervals).

I’ve hosting all the games therefore I play as Point Man and Rival plays as Paxton Fettel. Both play very different and this reminded me of the multiplayer Half-Life modification called Vampire Slayer. I loved this mod as it also played very differently depending on if you chose to play as a slayer or a vampire.

Two things are a certainly about F.E.A.R. 3. It’s quite fun to play this game co-op and it’s not scary in the least. I’ve heard that madtyger finds this game scary to the point that when I asked if she’d like to co-op with me if Rival wasn’t able to I was told “hehehehe…no” and “My nerves are made from cooked spaghetti noodles.” I’m not a fan of the horror genre because I don’t enjoy being scared, but F.E.A.R. 3 just isn’t frightening to me. Regardless, I am having a great time talking and co-oping with Rival.

One last thing.

I bought Batman: Arkham City on Saturday. It only cost $15 at my favorite local game store, It’s About Games.

Here’s the tweet I put out before I bought it.

Below is the game as it is now with replacement case. Beautiful, isn’t it?


Thanks for reading. Peace!

Hart & Usagi Podcast #29: Blood Dragon


It’s time for a dynamite episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast. In this edition we welcome first time guest stripesonfire and speak on Electronic Arts’ unwillingness to change for the better for their customers. We also discuss the “always-on” debacle and how CISPA supporters can suck it.

In the episode ending “happy time” Usagi talks Saturn, stripes gets hyped for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and I think back on my first 50 minutes playing Bioshock Infinite.

It’s all this and much, much more in Hart & Usagi Podcast episode 29: Blood Dragon!

* Dark Souls claimed nearly 2.4 million sales worldwide
* Ubisoft: gamers are ready for always-online
* Microsoft man on always-online consoles: ‘Deal with it’
* Peter Moore’s “We can to better.”
* Burnout developer Criterion moving away from racing games
* Bushnell: Xbox 720 will win next-gen
* Battlefield 4 dev ignoring motion control ‘gimmick’
* House passes revamped CISPA cybersecurity bill amidst warnings of ‘digital bombs’
* Climax Studios ‘tech demo’ resembles Prince of Persia
* Rumor: Rare ‘Pluto’ prototype variant of Sega Saturn shown
* Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
* Characters on box art
* Bioshock Infinite

Listen/Download (1:59:02)
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Now Playing: December 2012


This month I didn’t take a chance to have any game bum me out. I asked for suggestions on what to play from my mastered list and played those. I had a blast revisiting Burnout 3: Takedown, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. You can read about them at the links provided. There was one other game I did get some time with as well.

The first time I played any Call of Duty game with any other human being was a week ago last Friday when I played against ShinVlad and madtyger. It was in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. With yearly releases ever since, this game feels like it should be considered “retro” at this point.

It was fun, but I was disappointed to find out that leveling up doesn’t happen in private matches. It was even more upsetting when Usagi704 couldn’t join us. For whatever reason his PS3 rejects the idea of CoD4’s online mode by freezing up every time. We tried my copy in his machine as well with the same outcome.

A few days later ShinVlad returned to go up against new competition in the form of SonicHomeboy. He had played prior on public servers and brought those new weapons/abilities with him. I made sure to pick up anything he dropped to get an advantage. Quite fun as it was I floated the idea of getting 2010’s Black Ops eventually so we could level up and hopefully get Usagi in on the action.

Happy Holidays and a Merry War on Christmas to you all! :D

Mastered Month: Burnout 3


Over the last week and a half I was replaying Burnout 3: Takedown. I did so when it was suggested by 6h05tly. I solicited choices by others on Twitter of my mastered games list on Backloggery. The other games I’ll be getting to are Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, and the SNES beat-’em-up Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

This was the first time I played Burnout 3 again since I originally did. I clocked in almost 51 hours the first time around. This was because I was trying to get a gold medal in every event. Upon replaying the game it only took me 11 hours and 35 minutes, but I wasn’t trying for all gold. I was just trying to get any medal. With 91% of the game completed I was satisfied.

Burnout 3 is still just as fantastic of a racer now as it was back in 2004. It also still looks really good in the graphics department. It does have its frustrating moments, like when crashing a bunch in a Burning Lap event with the F1 racing car, but those are rare when compared to how much fun you’ll consistently be having.

Related article: 2004 Game of the Year

Now Playing: November 2012


Only four games played this past month, but all where finished giving me 45 total beaten in this calendar year.

The first two were quite quick. Contra on the Famicom you know I can breeze through. Growl, however, is a Taito developed arcade beat-’em-up which is not much remembered today.

I played it thanks to the PlayStation 2 version of Taito Legends 2. The whip is king of all ways to attack as I saw during a speed run. Usagi704 and I completed the game together on Easy and then I later tackled it on Normal. The final boss has an alien bust out of him during the fight and it makes for a much different tone than the whole rest of the game up to that point. It felt like one of Vince Russo’s WCW wrestling storyline swerves for the sake of it.

Those of you that don’t follow me on Twitter didn’t get to read my thoughts on Prototype. If you’ve played any of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction or the game based on the Hulk movie starring Edward Norton, then you know what to expect. It’s roughly the same sans Hulk.

I started on Normal difficulty, but once I got to the mission titled “The Altered World” I just couldn’t escape the military and had to restart on Easy. You know it’s a no fun, pain in the ass, rage quit moment if I easily remembered the name of the mission and no others. It was either I got away quickly within seconds or it was simply never going to happen.

When Prototype was fun, it was lots of fun. When it wanted to be an ass, it was really Hulk smash rage quit inducing. So much so at certain points that I took Prototype 2 off of my wish list. Whether the sequel is nearly as bad with difficulty spikes I won’t know because I’m not likely to get it.

Overall combat and movement was a blast once powered up. However, I don’t recommend this game because of the difficulty problem along with a few technical issues. I had to restart the last phase of the final boss battle because the game sort of froze on me. Get last generation’s Ultimate Destruction instead.

Finally, I purchased, played, and beat the new Need For Speed: Most Wanted developed by Criterion. I already posted a review focusing on the single player portion so I won’t be talking about that here.

I did play a few rounds online since then. I ended up finding out that anything unlocked offline doesn’t translate to the online portion. These are separate where you have to unlock everything once again. Even the colors have to be unlocked. I wasn’t a fan of this nor did I like the overwhelming amount of information that was on screen at any one time. I’m certain I won’t be playing this game for anywhere near the close to the 430 hours I’ve put into Burnout Paradise since 2008.

Prototype – 15h27m; Easy; 31/31 Missions; 15/41 trophies
Need For Speed: Most Wanted – 20h10m; 92%; All Most Wanted defeated; 35/47 trophies