Beware Bioware: The Cupcakes Are Coming to Get You!

In one of the more unusual pieces of gaming news I’ve ever had to write Bioware is soon to receive a protest…in the form of 400 cupcakes. This venture was undertaken by a member at Bioware’s forums by the name of LoganKey. He was so dissatisfied with Mass Effect 3’s ending that he raised $1000 to get a bakery to make the cupcakes. Here is the post that clarifies this tasty plot:

We are currently trying to organize the delivery of a mass of cupcakes to Bioware’s studio in Edmonton. All the cupcakes will be divided into equal parts Red, Blue and Green colors…but they will all taste exactly the same. If you’d like participate, please check out the thread below and let us know.

This coming week, we should send Bioware boxes upon boxes of a dozen cupcakes. We are taking ideas as to what sort of notes we should have attached on each:

No matter what color you choose, they all taste the same”;

No matter what color you choose, it’s all vanilla :-D”

We rage because we love”

Is victory sweet? Bioware will find out when the delivery reaches its offices. Of course if I was a game developer and my “punishment” for making a controversial ending to a game was to be inundated with sweet treats I’d imagine my story-building wouldn’t change.

Unless they end up with nightmares of scores of cupcakes trying to eat them.

Sony’s Next-Gen Console Orbis’s Latest Details

Apparently “Orbis”, as PS3’s successor console is known, isn’t going to be backwards-compatible. It also isn’t going to be used-game-friendly, either. While this news isn’t entirely surprising given how used/older games don’t promote an environment for growth (or rather that’s how a corporation might see it; evidence suggests otherwise) it is disappointing.

These moves by Sony are those mirrored by Microsoft who also are going to make things less desirable for any gamer who likes used games. In regards to Orbis the backwards-incompatibility is without any workaround as far as I understand, but gamers who opt to buy a pre-owned game will be able to play…with limitations. You can get a second-hand copy but you will not have full functionality and you will have to pay to get the complete gaming experience.

To add to more of Sony’s questionable decisions, it will become a necessity to have an internet connection (which means if your net cuts so does your playing time) and logging into your account at PSN. This is likely to enforce the restriction of pre-owned games. Internet access is hardly an issue for a lot of gamers, as droves play online, but being forced to do so is annoying for an old-school gamer such as myself.

Sony has declined to comment on these matters.

The one bit of good news is this: Gamers won’t have to wait unreasonably long to get their hands on the latest bit of Sony hardware. Orbis is slated to ship at the end of 2013, right in time for the holiday season. Maybe that will cheer up the Sony fans, but if you’re like me, you hope that the company will relax their hard-liner attitude and return to what gaming’s all about: having fun.

Angry Birds Launches into Space!

Most of you already know this by now as this game is hugely popular, but for the unfortunate soul who hasn’t heard: Angry Birds has gone into space. Literally. On Thursday the birds took to outer space to again claim their oft-snatched eggs back from the clutches of those evil pigs.

Having played the game’s first level “Pig Bang” I’ve found it’s new dynamic of gravity influencing the game mechanics especially entertaining. At times you have to use the slingshot in reverse to accomplish your goal; it is not necessarily a derp moment for those with butterfingers (like mine).

With Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons already out, Angry Birds in Space looks to capitalize on the market who’ve gone fowl-crazy for those birds without wings. Will they get their precious eggs back? Play the game and find out!

New Square-enix Teaser “CC” Site

Square-enix has launched a new teaser website, tentatively called CC2012. You can see the website here:

As far as I can tell, and this is generally agreed by the tweeted comments, this looks to be an advertisement for a new Crystal Chronicles game. As you watch you’ll see dark, ominous skies and then a few crystals crack and explode. Afterwards you are treated to a few flickers of swords, warriors (appears to be Odin), a ruined city and three characters: an older gentleman, a dark-haired male and a young blonde female. Lastly there is a duel between a young woman and a knight.

Little else is known about this new game in the works except that it’s apparently due out in the Summer, so we’ll see what else we learn about this between now and then.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition

If you were an old school gamer like me, and started your journey into PC gaming with the top down RPGs, hearing about Baldur’s Gate remake will make you giggle. Or squee. Or do whatever it is that you do when you hear about something so old getting a new take on it. I so desperately want this to be a great remake of the original game, and sequel, that I can still remember what it felt like to have my characters talk back to me, engage in relationships and even randomly attack each other (amusing, though highly annoying; this is why regular saving is a must!)

Anyways, enough of my reminiscence and fangirling, what I have to say this: apparently the trio of Atari, Wizards of the Coast and Overhaul are working on an enhanced version of the original Baldur’s Gate and its sequel. Released on the PC back in 1998, this was one of the first RPGs for PC gaming, and it shows. Many of the games you that came after it borrow of its mechanics (NeverwinterNights is almost a clone) and any old-school PC gamer will talk fondly of the side-quests, quirky characters (“Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!”) and lots of areas to explore.

Much to my pleasure I heard that the expansions to the two games will be included in this remake. Details are still sketchy, but what we do know is that it will have an enhanced version of the Infinity Engine. In order to keep the game’s original spark, the developers and programmers from the first incarnation are on the team. This keeps me happy, as too many changes will blot out the glory of a game so beloved and so beautiful. As the picture featured in this article indicates, this is suppose to be released in summer, and gaming gods willing, it will be.

I will follow this story to let you know of developments as they arise. Anticipation meter off to a roaring start!

Review of Dragon Quest 4: Chapters of the Chosen

Time for me to get off my Final Fantasy high and review another game out of a favourite series of mine: Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest was originally known as Dragon Warrior on the American shores because of a copyright issue two decades ago. This game was actually one of the first RPGs to appear on the consoles, heavily borrowing off the famous Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG. Though not nearly as prevalent as Final Fantasy here in the Western World, in Japan this game is so popular that there’s a day dedicated to it.

Dragon Quest is pretty formulaic: you have a team of four misfits which travel with you to save the world in some fashion or another. Dragon Quest 4 takes after this dynamic but adds a twist to give the characters some limelight; they have separate chapters for the individual characters so you can level them up and understand their history. And it is a fun cast, from the irrepressible princess Alena to the honourable Ragnar. Eventually all stories come together so you can unite under the Hero(ine).

Chapters of the Chosen is not a game particularly unique in general, though it does have the fun task of being a shopkeeper for a while there. In addition to that there is a secret dungeon with an enjoyable boss battle where you can acquire the game’s most useful tools if you defeat them. Even better is if you figure out the game’s greatest secret you’ll end up with an obscenely overpowered ally and have a slightly modified ending.

The graphics, though dated, are so very very pretty, especially Zenitha. The character portraits are full of personality and seeing the various terrain is pleasing to the eye. But the in-battle graphics are just average, and the special effects don’t make much of an appearance. Obviously graphics isn’t this game’s forte but since it is a DS game, and a Dragon Quest game to boot, if that’s what you’re here for you, you are missing the point of the game.

What is the point of this game? The name of the game: Quests. You go on an endlessly litany of quests either for your characters or random NPCs. Acquiring the mini-medals, playing the game’s one-man form of monopoly and the aforementioned secret dungeon will have you coming back for least until you exhaust all this, which doesn’t take that long, to be honest.

What’s so remarkable about this game (and the Dragon Quest series in general) is its eternal devotion to child-like good and evil values and its bright and cheery atmosphere, no matter how dark the current quest is. Whether this is a flaw or not in the game is more of a personal taste thing, but I find that with so many realistic and depressing games out there, one bright spot is a welcome relief. This is not to say that the over-reliance on everything cute and happy-happy-joy-joy doesn’t get annoying; it does, but sometimes a RPG should just be a good romp through dungeons, which this definitely is.

Dragon Quest has always been known to have a beautiful score and Chapters of the Chosen adds a few twists on its set of delightful tracks. The music in Zenitha and the last boss battle are two notables. Considering how long the last boss battle is, having the music change during the different stages is to great affect. The overworld theme is also enjoyable, giving you that adventurous feeling.

For those of you (like me) who didn’t get a chance to really enjoy this remake, you’ll feel content giving this a go. And like me, you probably won’t pick this up once you finish that secret dungeon and blasting away enemies with your super-powered ally. However if you were planning on something more unique and mind-blowing Dragon Quest 4 isn’t your thing (and, by extension, probably not the Dragon Quest series at all). It satisfied me until the next Final Fantasy came along, which, while not making the game glorious, does do exactly what I wanted.

When Dragon Quest makes a foray into the real world gaming you can bet it’ll be a masterpiece. Not that I mind the simple fun we have today.

Review of Dissidia Final Fantasy

I’m going to start off by saying one of the few things that annoy me about this game: the name. No, not because it’s hard to pronounce or spell or that it’s not even a real word. It’s the fact that it’s Dissidia Final Fantasy not Final Fantasy Dissidia, like most all games (or movies, or books, etc.) do it. I’m neurotic so having to say it in that fashion is annoying.

Now that I got that off my chest…that really is one of the few things that pester me about the game. I’m going to say straight off that I love this game, and think that while it might not be the best game on the PSP it’s certainly among the best. And what makes that even more surprising is that I had totally written this game off and had only bought it out of a desire to satisfy that fanservice need.

To say that it doesn’t quench the fangirl in me would be inaccurate–having a bunch of my favorite characters in it, lots of gorgeous terrain and all the little nuances of the games built in every layer of this game really pleasured that tastebud. But Dissidia is really so much more than that. It is physically stunning, immensely engrossing and just plain fun.

Doubtless it is pleasing to the eye. The magical affects are beautiful and the characters are rendered excellently. They move so smoothly that you never feel like they are out of control. It’s the same for the battlefields. Having a fight while on the familiar landscape is entirely fun. There is actually only a few instances that I felt the camera angle hindered my experience and that was mostly in the chase sequences which I didn’t engage in frequently anyways.

Another enjoyable thing about the game: the voice-acting. I was especially pleased by hearing the voices of The Emperor, Warrior of Light and Firion. In this one scene where The Emperor says “Where do you think you’re going?” it feels very real, like the character exists. All the others were done either excellently or adequately. Cecil’s voice has always been a hit or miss with me, though I think the actor did alright in this particular game.

The story isn’t exactly ground-breaking or memorable, but it does keep the gamer interested long enough to get them to the next battle. There are parts in the game that the dialogue gets a bit one-dimensional, probably so that the characters own storylines or natural dispositions don’t bog down the gameplay. Certain character traits were either downplayed or over-emphasized to differentiate them from the rest of the cast. This was a necessary evil though so I didn’t mind it too much.

What really grabbed me in this game, and held me, was the sheer vastness of its scope. The weapons, armor, accessories, items and summons to get is enormous. So is all the extras like acquiring all the characters to battle with, the voices to hear,  movies to see, skills to master…it goes on and on. Two hundred and plus hours in and I’ve only maxed three characters out; there are seventeen more to go (not to mention the secret characters). I haven’t completed the super hard quest or the battle arena. Time-sink doesn’t even begin to describe it.

This was the ultimate in fanservice yet ended up being a wonderful game all on its own. Kind of like the original Kingdom Hearts, you will find yourself enjoying a good run through this game. It probably won’t end up as your personal Number One (it didn’t end up as mine, though it did score high) but in the end I dare say there is far few people who would ever say its not worth your time. Besides, what really is much more enjoyable than pissing around with your favorite character beating the shit out of your least favorite?

You come for the fanservice; you stay for the amazing game.

Review of FFIV: The DS Remake

In a move that most did not anticipate Square-enix decided to remake Final Fantasy IV. Unlike so many of its other so-called remakes, this game actually incorporated enormous changes to its graphics and sound, enhancing (or perhaps reducing, depending on your point of view) the game’s value. This is an distinct contrast to a lot of other ports (not remakes per say) which kept the game mechanics the same but added huge, optional dugenons. I’ll take this opportunity to say what I think of Square-enix’s venture into true remaking in Final Fantasy.