Monthly Archives: December 2008

Space Deadbeef (iPhone)

Space Deadbeef is a horizontal shoot ’em up for the iPhone. This is one of the few games that shows that the iPhone can definitely be a gaming platform. From the moment I saw the title screen at the beginning before the menu appeared, I knew I was going to enjoy this game. The graphics are superb, the music is nice, and there wasn’t any slowdown when I played it on my classic (non-3G) iPhone.
The levels scroll horizontally while your ship stays on the left side of the screen. You can only move your ship vertically. When you touch the screen, your ship moves in that direction. If you touch the top right corner, your ship will move straight up (because it always stays on the left). When you touch an enemy, one of your missiles will lock-on. You only have a limited number of missiles that can lock-on at a time. You can lock on to multiple enemies, and you can lock on to strong enemies multiple times. When you lift your finger, your missiles fire. You can also touch your own ship to charge up a more powerful shot.
At the end of the game, which will only take most gamers a few minutes to get to on their first play, there’s a boss fight. After beating that boss, the game restarts on a higher difficulty. So far, I’ve made it to difficulty 6. The game keeps track of your current score, high score, your current difficulty, and your number of deaths. I don’t know if there’s a limit on difficulties, but if there is, I doubt I’ll see it.
Space Deadbeef really caters to scrolling shooter fans. The little details are great, such as the “WARNING” text that appears when the boss is incoming, and the way that the text slides on and off screen. The sound effects are nice, when you die, the game zooms in on your ship exploding. It’s a very fun experience.
Apple lists Yuji Yasuhara as the developer1, who is also responsible for Omega Boost, a 3D shooter for the Sony Playstation, and Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei for the Sega Saturn2. It apparently wasn’t chance that the game seemed made for shoot ’em up fans! Because the game is so short, I can only hope that Space Deadbeef is acting as a demo for a future that’s longer and has more levels! However, don’t let the game’s length deter you from you playing it. It’s definitely worth any gamer’s time who likes shoot ’em ups; plus, as a free game it’s definitely worth it!

Wii Music (Wii) and Why I Wanted to Like It

I unexpectedly got to sit down with Wii Music over the holidays. I was very excited. It was a new Nintendo-developed game (by EAD Software Group 2, according to Wikipedia, who was responsible for Animal Crossing, Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Play), which is enough to get me at least interested. Second, I loved Mario Paint, and Wii Music seemed more like Mario Paint than Rock Band.
I sat down with two other people, one of whom had played before, and set out to jam! You get to choose a song and a venue, and then each player can choose a section, such as melody, harmony, percussion, etc. Then you can pick your instrument. I decided on the standing bass. The bass part is always intriguing, and the standing bass just called to me! Four characters in the bottom right keep time by lighting up, one at a time, for each note.
As far as I could tell, if each player plays a note when told, the song will come out sounding as expected. That’s not any fun though, so we tried improvising. I wasn’t sure if using the nunchuck or buttons did anything when playing my instrument, but I later found that it caused the cat suit (which “plays” meow sounds) to jump around. Each note’s pitch is set, so all you really get to control is when you’d like to play a note. It came out sounding horrible.
My young cousin really enjoyed playing it. I definitely did not enjoy it. As a multiplayer game, it fails completely. As a singe player endeavor, it might be a bit better. You can play each part one at a time, adding all six different sections to create a whole composition. Given some slow thought alone, something good might come out of it! I don’t know though because I didn’t get a chance to sit down alone with it. I do know that I’m very disappointed in the game. If you can’t control the pitch of the note, there’s no chance of anyone being able to create a particular tune they have in their head. They might create something interesting, but it’ll be chance, trial, and error.
I really wanted to enjoy Wii Music because I wanted to know that Nintendo still developed great games. In fact, I know the way I talked about what the experience might be like alone was biased. I still want to like the game, but I really did not. I’d love to see a mode or future game in which you can pick the instrument or sound and the pitch of the notes. The Wii’s current audience would love a game similar to the music creator in Mario Paint. When that game comes out, I’ll play it. I’ll sit this game out.

Christmas Games

The title of this entry is misleading. I only played one Christmas game this week, the Loco Roco Christmas Demo. I run through it every Christmas, and it’s always enjoyable! Besides that, it’s been a weird week of game choices. I’ve been putting most of my time into Grand Theft Auto IV. I’ve played about 10 hours and am about 20% of the way into the game. It’s really enjoyable! Besides this game, I’ve opened gifts in World of Warcraft, played about 10 minutes of Sonic Chronicles, and played iPhone games. Warfare Incorporated was finally released for the iPhone recently. I loved that game on the Palm and have been enjoying playing it again. It’s a great RTS, and the iPhone version allows you to download new mission packs right from the game. There’s also a level editor available on PC. Another cool game I found was Space Deadbeef. It was created by Yuji Yasuhara, who has developed previous shmups. It’s short but very good!

Crappy Computer: Take 3

Latest update: 12/23/08, 9:39 PM
A couple months ago after finally realizing that it was a BIOS issue that kept me from booting, I installed Windows XP 64-bit because my nice, legal copy of Vista Business 64-bit wouldn’t work. A month later, I had to reformat. I put the same OS on again. That was about a month ago. This weekend, I reformatted again and put Vista Business 64-bit on my PC thanks to Antonio lending me a DVD. It installed without a hitch! Then, I tried to figure out Steam. I ended up just shoving my entire Steam folder in a new directory other than Program Files (x86). I realize that applications can’t save in Program Files now. However, I tried installing Steam in Vista and then observing where it puts stuff before copying my old Steam files into the correct location, but I couldn’t figure it out. Anyways, leaving it in some other folder seemed good enough.
However, World of Warcraft randomly crashes. I haven’t really tried any other games for more than a minute or two. Here’s what’s going on: If I launch Wrath off of my internal HDD, it crashes either right after getting in game or during the loading screen after choosing my character. If I run it off of my external, I can usually play for a few minutes, but it’ll still crash. When it crashes, everything freezes, including my speakers playing the last quarter-second or so of audio repeatedly. I’m using the latest graphic card drviers, 180.48. Vista is completely up to date. I download the latest drivers for my wireless card and motherboard also.
This is my system:

  • MSI P45 Neo-F motherboard with up to date drivers
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Wolfdale 2.53 GHz
  • 4 GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2 1066 RAM
  • PNY GeForce 8800 GT PCI Express 2.0 x16 with 180.48 drivers (latest)
  • Rosewill 802.11b/g PCI card with up to date drivers
  • Vista Business 64-bit,up to date
  • DirectX 10

I found this thread talking about WoW crashing in Vista. I followed the advice of changing my graphics card’s 3D settings from maximum quality to maximum performance. I then ran it from my internal disk, and it crashed while loading my character. I’m reinstalling my graphics drivers now. I’m going to continue to update this post as a personal log so I can keep track of what’s happening.
Update: Reinstalling video card drivers didn’t work. I have a couple options. I can try installing older video card drivers or trying to go to DirectX 9. Using DirectX 9 would kind of annoy me though. DirectX 10 is one of the few things Vista has going for it.
Update at 5:52 PM: Installed the latest nVidia beta drivers, 181.00. Same problem when running World of Warcraft from the internal.
Update at 5:57 PM: Disabling all add-ons does not help!
Update at 6:23 PM: I wanted to try DirectX 9c, but Microsoft’s site won’t let you choose old versions. I found it easily on another site. I downloaded AVG Free because I wanted to scan it first. AVG stopping during install to tell me that my copy of Vista wasn’t up to date. I was missing the KB929547 patch. I checked Windows Update again, but it said I was completely up to date. I clicked check again, and my PC froze. This is the first time it’s frozen outside of a game. Here’s the description of the patch according to Microsoft: “Install this update to resolve an issue where after installing the Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) driver, applications and services appear to stop responding for approximately 15 seconds.” That doesn’t really sound like my problem because my computer stays frozen. I’ll try getting it anyways.
Update at 10:44 PM: I went back to Windows Update, but it still said I had everything completely up to date. I told to check again, and after it checked a couple times, it found more updates. Weird. I updated a whole bunch. Same problem.
Update at 11:52 PM: I found out that DirectX 9 won’t work in Vista, so there’s no need for me to worry about trying that. I tried running WoW as an administrator, but it still crashed. My account is an administrator already, but I think in Vista you have to run applications as administrator to use those privileges. I’m not positive though. I also tried running it in XP SP 2 compatibility mode. That didn’t work either. I still need to try both together, but I doubt that’ll yield better results. Also, I need to turn UAC off to see if that helps. Another thing to consider is that I changed the compatibility of and tried running as administrator Launcher.exe, which launches wow.exe. I don’t know if the compatibility option or “run as administrator” settings carry over to an .exe launched by the original .exe. I guess I need to look into that too! At least I have this log to keep my thoughts coherent.
Update at 12/23/08, 9:39 PM: I realized that I hadn’t tried any games other than World of Warcraft yet. I didn’t really think that mattered since I froze outside of WoW while checking for updates with Windows Update. I ran Left 4 Dead and played a full level with everything on high settings. It ran really well! Then I tried WoW again. I ran the copy stored on my internal drive, and for the first time ever, I got into the game! I noticed that my add-ons were all off and wondered if that’s what was causing the problems before. However, I was pretty sure they were off because the last thing I tried last night was turning them off. Anyways, I logged out, turned my add-ons back on, and tried to log in again. It froze! I found the problem, right? Wrong! I rebooted, turned them all off, and it froze again trying to login. I’m not really sure what’s wrong! It makes me want to play more Xbox!

I like to play games

It’s Thursday! That means it’s time for me to talk about games! Work got in the way quite a bit of playing! We’ve been PVPing a lot as usual. William, Antonio, and gemma all got the Ironman achievement for capturing the flag three times without dying. We’re still working on getting the achievement for me. Sonic Chronicles is still really fun! I’m in chapter six of ten. We also played Rock Band 2 because William wanted to play it! Okay, that’s about it!

Wired’s Persona 4 Review

Regarding “Review: Stylish Persona 4 Is RPG Perfection,” Earnest Cavalli, Wired, December 05, 2008.
Wired put up an odd review of Persona 4. I want to talk about it not only because Persona 4 looks interesting to me but also because the review was so bad. The article’s a short read so I recommend you read it. The game looks intriguing to me, but I don’t want to write about the game itself here while not having played it. There’s also no point in reading my critique of the article if you haven’t read it yourself.
First, the Persona series is very popular and beloved series to a niche group. However, I really believe it’s a game mostly for JRPG fans and for thoe who are interested in games from artistically or academically enough to read about and analyze games. People who consider Halo the epitome of gaming aren’t going to like it. People who only buy EA Sports title’s aren’t going to consider it. People who think Mortal Kombat is most balanced fighter aren’t interested. Neither my brother not my cousin will play this (unless I buy it for James).
This leads me to believe that the article is either intending to provide information to the people to whom the game is most likely to appeal or people who would enjoy the game but might not normally learn about it. Earnest Cavalli, the write, seems to be writing towards the latter group. That’s fine even if I’m not in that group. However, I feel like he’s slightly insulting the game while praising it.
He writes that Personas, the spirits you apparently collect, “are like Pokémon for grownups.” Is there something wrong with Pokémon? I understand that the majority of money from that series comes from children (or rather, adults buying for children), but the complex EV/IV system, breeding, move sets, and types is definitely not something intended for children to master. I know adults play the Pokémon series.
He then goes on to insult both the music and the musical tastes of those who like “game music.” After explaining that he “find(s) Japanese pop music grating and annoying,” he goes on to state that the songs in Persona 4 are “almost uniformly listenable.” That’s such a big compliment for a game, don’t you think? Almost all the music (but not quite all of the music of course) in Persona 4 is listenable! It’s not all listenable. To some of it he’s unable to listen. He’s forced to mute the television or play some other audio even louder apparently. That’s only a tiny bit though. Almost all of the music is listenable. He doesn’t particularly like it at all; it’s listenable. He even mentions that people “who consider gaming music to be a mere background annoyance will find themselves humming along.” Great! Now what about the people who like “gaming music.” I’m not even sure what that phrase anymore now that modern popular music has found it’s way into games. Overlooking that phrase’s usage because, honestly, I know what he means, he doesn’t mention what someone might think if he or she does in fact like “game music” or Japanese pop.
Next Cavalli discusses the graphics. He says that it doesn’t have the graphics that you could find on Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 but that “the clever art style makes up for that.” While I do love certain art styles that definitely do not need modern consoles to be displayed well, I understand and appreciate this statement. However, stating that people who don’t like reading a lot of text in games will be “pleasantly surprised by the solid voice-over work” seems crazy because the voice acting was not all that fantastic if you ask me. It was mediocre. It wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t pleasantly surprised when I heard it. I was surprised, but it was just the regular kind. When I heard my roommate play Persona 4, I thought he was watching an Adult Swim cartoon making fun of anime. The review went on to say that people who have “an aversion to anime-style characters” would still enjoy the graphics. What about those of us who do not have an aversion to anime-style graphics? I believe that would include most of the target audience.
My final criticism is that Cavalli says this is the best Playstation 2 game of 2008. That might be true, but it also isn’t saying much. How many games even game out for PS2 this year that are worth mentioning? The only other PS2 game I can think of is Thunderforce VI. I’m sure other games were released, but not counting games that were developed for current consoles and ported down to the PS2, Persona 4 didn’t really have a lot of competition.
All in all, I do want to at least try Persona 4. I’m just not sure this writer gave his honest opinion. It seems like either he didn’t really like it but wanted his article to appeal to those that might like it or he just isn’t very good at reviewing games. I’d rather hear about his honest experience playing the game rather than his predictions for how other people would feel. Mainstream games journalism is so horrible right now.


Rain, originally uploaded by theuser.

What a beautifully gloomy day!