Hart & Usagi #97: Corsi Takes Leave

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In episode 97 we chat about Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, Google Stadia reviews, best 50 games of this decade, and more.

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

TOPICS:
* Sony Interactive Entertainment Global Second Party Games head Gio Corsi leaves PlayStation
* “A liar and a bully”: Blizzard’s company values no longer matter to protesting fans
* Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Just Threw in His Support for Blitzchung
* Blizzard president clarifies decision to ban Hearthstone player and two casters over Hong Kong controversy
* Street Fighter V: Champion Edition announced alongside DLC character Gill
* Leaked PlayStation 5 dev kit photo hits the internet
* Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack coming to North America
* Google Stadia reviews round-up, all the scores
* The best video games of the decade – the top 50 games from 2010-2020, ranked

Listen or Download (42:45)

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Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704 | Instagram

@HartandUsagi

Hart & Usagi Podcast #52: Castlevania

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We have a special edition of the Hart & Usagi Podcast for you this time. We’ll be focusing our discussion on the Castlevania series past, present, and possible future. What’s our favorite games of the series? Well you just have to listen to find out. JiibayDan is our guest once again and as usual he’ll give his unique insight into the topics on hand.

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

NEWS/TOPICS:
* Yooper problems
* Syndicate and online co-op
* Tearaway
* Air Zonk
* Azure Striker Gunvolt
* Sleeping Dogs
* Google Didn’t Buy Twitch Because of Potential Antitrust Issues – Report
* Report: FCC Considering Reclassifying Broadband Providers as ‘Common Carriers’
* Nintendo unveils ‘new’ 3DS, 3DS XL
* Sega unsheathes Yakuza Zero: The Place of Oath
* Bayonetta 2 gives Wii U a new ‘do on October 24
* Castlevania series

Listen or Download (2:17:41)

Subscribe: RSS | iTunes

Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | WP blog

Dan: @JiibayDan | That Dan Stinehart Blog | ~Natively Awkward

@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!

Game of the Year 2013

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It’s now time for the big award. My Game of the Year award. Three games stood out to me, but only one takes the glory home.

The praise BioShock Infinite got around the time of its release was well deserved as it all worked well together and the game was fun to play. The sudden turn against it later in the year made little sense. It was just a bunch of sheep afraid to continue liking the game because somebody else had a problem with something minor in the story. Sure it’s not perfect, but no video game is in that department. Regardless I enjoyed my time with BioShock Infinite.

In October I played Dark Souls for my Halloween gaming event. It was a fantastic expansion of what From Software started on the PlayStation 3 with Demon’s Souls. I was a bit confused on how to build a good character and ended up sticking with mostly magic attacks as I did in the previous game. Gwyn went down to my Soul Spears.

The winner, as if you didn’t already know what game it was thanks to the above graphic, and my Game of the Year is Sleeping Dogs. This was a game I played in December and I love it. It was suggested by NiceGuyNeon who said he knew I’d love it. And that I did. This was one of those middle-of-the-road titles, as I like to call them, where the production values may not be the greatest in all areas like a Grand Theft Auto game, but it does do things wonderfully where it needs to. A highly recommended game for those looking for a kung-fu fun time!

Thanks for reading my awards posts and if you missed any you can check them out under the “goty2013” tag.

Have a good one!

Games Finished In 2013

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The list below shows every game that I finished in 2013. The total number comes to 36. That’s down 15 from 2012.

November proved to be the best month for beating games with 8 in total thanks to TMNT Month with a monthly average of 3.

When it comes to earning those fancy trophies, I was able to earn 226 last year.

1. Double Dragon Neon (PSN) – 1/2
2. Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (VC) – 1/11
3. Batman (NES) – 1/30
4. Bionic Commando (PS3) – 2/24
5. Shatter (PSN) – 3/6
6. Rocket Knight (PSN) – 3/10
7. Tomb Raider: Legend (PSP) – 3/15
8. G.I. Joe (ARC) – 4/11
9. Resistance 2 (PS3) – 4/13
10. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (PS3) – 4/26
11. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie (GEN) – 5/4
12. Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection (PSN) – 5/5
13. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PSN) – 5/5
14. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Ver. (PSN) – 5/22
15. The King of Fighters ’98 (PSN) – 5/22
16. BioShock Infinite (PS3) – 5/25
17. F.E.A.R. 3 (PS3) – 6/21
18. X-Men (PSN) – 7/10
19. Streets of Rage 2 (PSN) – 8/9
20. Tomb Raider: Underworld via The Tomb Raider Trilogy (PS3) – 8/11
21. Dragon Warrior via Dragon Warrior I & II (GBC) – 8/21
22. Marvel Ultimate Alliance (PS2) – 8/31
23. Dragon’s Crown (PS3) – 9/20
24. Splatterhouse (TG-16) – 10/22
25. Dark Souls (PS3) – 11/8
26. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (GB) – 11/9
27. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers (GB) – 11/11
28. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PS2) – 11/12
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus (PS2) – 11/20
30. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (PS2) – 11/23
31. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time via Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (PS2) – 11/23
32. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES) – 11/25
33. The Mark of Kri (PS2) – 12/3
34. Kirby’s Dream Land 2 via Kirby’s Dream Collection (WII) – 12/7
35. Sleeping Dogs (PS3) – 12/13
36. Space Invaders Extreme 2 (DS) – 12/25

Now Playing: December 2013

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This month of video game greatness has had me log nine total games played with four of them finished.

The first up was Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom. This 1993 beat-’em-up arcade game isn’t as exciting as I was hoping. It’s not to say that Capcom didn’t do well on the game. I guess there’s more to the game than I was expecting. I’m sure to pick it back up in the future to get a better feeling for it.

The next three titles, The Mark of Kri, Kirby’s Dream Land 2, and Sleeping Dogs have been talked about in their own blog posts. Check them out at the links provided above.

As gamers know, Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii has been praised much upon its release. One thing I realized while playing it is that I’m not one of those people. I also figured one other thing. I don’t think I’m as interested (or skilled) in platformers than I like to fancy myself as. This was evident while playing Kirby’s Dream Land 2, but much more so with Super Mario Galaxy.

There’s also several issues I think SMG actually suffers from. Here’s bullet-point list of them.

  • The camera isn’t ideal for judging distance of jumps very well.
  • Swimming in most every game is bad, but controlling Mario underwater was particularly craptastic.
  • Spring Mario is the worst in control since the only way to move is by continuous jumping. It doesn’t help the use was normally on narrow paths.
  • The pull stars aren’t all that bad, but when needing to move quickly under a time constraint, like say a race, isn’t exactly what I call fun.

I know I might be seen as a bit too picky about my complaints, but I did stick with the game for over 12 hours.

I played some of the DS exclusive title Space Invaders Extreme 2. Just like the previous game, the music is really great and the visual style gets me in the right mood to shoot some of those pesky classic space invaders. I suggest getting either game if you’re into classic arcade score chasers!

Finally, along with Usagi704, we hooked up our original model PlayStation systems to separate televisions and connected the consoles together with the PlayStation Link Cable. We had some fantastic fun playing co-op in Doom. We finished around ten levels.

Yesterday we played some of the classic launch game Destruction Derby. I still really like that game. Getting through intersections by “threading the needle” (aka close calls) is still as thilling as ever!

We also played some of Mortal Kombat Trilogy (a non-link cable game) and Usagi played his Team Shenanigans in 2-on-2 Kombat consisting of Human Smoke and Kitana. My team was a combination of Scorpion, Cyrax, and Nightwolf. Some characters were given new moves. Nightwolf was given a red Shoulder Charge (←←→HK) which helps a lot to get in and stay in close. Scorpion was given a forward Teleport Punch (↓→HP) to keep opponents guessing. As usual I still get beat more than not, but overall still a fun time!

Enjoy the New Year!

Sleeping Dogs

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Where do I begin? Seriously. I’m not quite sure because Sleeping Dogs was too awesome!

I guess I could start with the story. Sure it’s nothing to write home about and probably won’t excite those who demand story above all else, but it does what it needs to do. It’s a very typical story of the same types of genre movies. The voice acting does sell the motivations of the characters better than most games these days. It also gives you enough reason to open a can of whoop-ass on lots of foes. And let’s be honest, isn’t that why we’re all here? Of course it is.

This being a middle-of-the-road action game, it does focus more on a fun gameplay experience than looking the best in its class. I’d much prefer this if it has to be done. Some of my favorite games are titles just like this.

The graphics are great where they need to be, but places like shops you can’t enter are obviously not modeled on the inside. It’s just a flat image of a store front. While it does look goofy, it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I was too busy driving my way to the next ass-kicking mission. Those missions are the usual mix of story and side missions within the open world games of today.

There is some use of guns within Sleeping Dogs, but it isn’t normally the focus. Hand-to-hand martial arts is the major go to option when dealing with your enemies. Punches, kicks, and counters all work well together with the different types of foes. Some are brawlers who’s attacks can’t be interrupted unless using a counter move and others are grapplers who can make winning harder if more than one surrounds you.

I think most people who play Sleeping Dogs will really like what it does. I know I did. I usually play games for around 30 minutes at a time, but for this Hong Kong action thriller I was easily getting to an hour extra or more each time. In fact, I finished the game in six days at just over 29 hours total. Thanks again to NiceGuyNeon for his suggestion to play a great game to surely win an award or two from yours truly for 2013.

I’m currently playing Super Mario Galaxy as suggested by SonicHomeboy.

Hart & Usagi Podcast #41: ++Good PS4

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In this episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast, we welcome back Georgie and, for as a first-time guest, one of the hosts from ++Good Games podcast it’s Anthony!

Our main topic for discussion is our experiences with the recently released PlayStation 4. We also speak on games we’ve played as of late along with a couple of news items.

Strap one on ’cause it’s time to jam with the Hart & Usagi Podcast.

TOPICS:
* Sega 3DS 3D titles
* Killzone: Shadow Fall
* Kirby’s Dream Land 2
* Sleeping Dogs
* Doom
* Shadow Hearts
* Saints Row Twitter contest
* PlayStation 4 experiences
* Windows & Linux
* Pre-orders open for God of War Collection on Vita
* Persona 5 is Just the Beginning: Atlus Goes Persona Crazy
* Save The Last Christmas (For Me)
* Meeting Rob Van Dam
* Pacific Blue

Listen or Download (2:19:14)
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Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive
Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive
Mike: @usagi704 | WP blog
Georgie: @guuthulhu | Squiddy Fun Times
Anthony: @24bitAJE | ++Good Games

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(Kirby’s) Holiday Gaming Update

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I finished my 34th game of 2013 just yesterday. It was the game suggested by gamecamiller on Twitter. It was Kirby’s Dream Land 2.

Other than playing the original series release also on the Game Boy back in 1992, I haven’t experienced many of the games in the Kirby series despite most being on Nintendo’s handheld systems. Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is the single title which comes to mind and it was a remake of the NES favorite Kirby’s Adventure.

Usagi704 did mention to me that Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is his favorite of the series. I somehow find them much more difficult than he does. In fact he calls them “easy mode.” Maybe I just don’t exploit the bosses in the game as well as one should, but I found most of the later battles to be very frustrating. Part of me is glad I played Kirby’s Dream Land 2 on the Wii via Kirby’s Dream Collection because if it was on a DS system, I might have chucked it across the room.

At least now I’ve moved onto the excellent Sleeping Dogs as suggested by NiceGuyNeon.

The first thing I did in Sleeping Dogs was mainly pressing X to run and jump. It was thrilling and I didn’t need a Kinect (or controller rumble) for that! I usually play games in about 30 minute sessions before I want a break. This game kept me glued to my seat for an hour and 45 minutes. I even went back to it much sooner than most games. It’s really good stuff!

Speaking of great stuff, daBlueWolfy sketched and colored an Xmas themed character from the 1994 animated show Gargoyles. It’s Brooklyn in a Santa outfit! Thanks a lot, bro! :)

Check out more of his fantastic artwork at The Dan StinehART Gallery!

Holiday Gaming Plans

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Last night I was ready to play a new game after finishing up with The Mark of Kri. I wasn’t sure what it should be so I left it up to my Twitter followers.

I asked them to choose from a platformer or an open world game. Both where chosen. NiceGuyNeon went with open world and from the following list picked Sleeping Dogs.

Bully
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Far Cry 3
Infamous 2
The Saboteur
Sleeping Dogs
Yakuza 3

Gamecamiller and SonicHomeboy opted for a platformer and of the four games I had in mind they chose Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and Super Mario Galaxy, respectively.

Castlevania: Dracula X
Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
Super Mario Galaxy
Kirby’s Dream Land 2

My current plans are to play Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and then Sleeping Dogs and Super Mario Galaxy.

On a side note I found a cheap copy of Saints Row: The Third. It’s a Greatest Hits version and it has the new owner of the IP, Deep Silver, on the cover instead of THQ.

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