Ndolger

En-duhl-jer: The one who indulges

RSS Feed

Archives for Videogames

Bioshock 2 Online Multiplayer Leaderboard Rankings – Top 100 All Categories – PS3 – 12/31/2015

0 Comments

Not much to say for this update. This is a continuing series in the only video game I play religiously: Bioshock 2 for PS3. I still, and will continue to, own several records. The game is dying, but it’s been whittled down to the hardcore base. Which is…good and bad. It’s nice playing against good competition, but…most of the time that competition are douchebags…

Anyway, here is the state of the Bioshock 2 (PS3) leaderboards at the end of 2015:

Filed under Videogames
Dec 31, 2015

Final Fantasy Portal: Triple Triad Review

0 Comments

triple-triad-crystals-final-fantasy-portal

I am not what you would consider…a mobile gamer. I’m about as hardcore as you can get when it comes to playing console video games, but mobile? Not so much. To put it mildly, I would never seriously consider playing anything on a phone. I do enjoy a game of Spider Solitaire or Angry Birds from time-to-time on my phone when I’m stuck getting an oil change or waiting in line, but that’s about it. That doesn’t happen too frequently. I’m not a very patient person and avoid lines like the plague…

However, a little over a month ago now, I stumbled up on this Kotaku article, and my mouth hit the floor. Triple Triad. Triple-holy-balls-I-can’t-believe-this-is-real-Triad. Yes, that’s right, the game introduced 16 years ago in Final Fantasy VIII (oh dear lord, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence…that makes the length of time that has passed greater than I was old at the time…how utterly depressing…). The game within a game that I was obsessed with so absolutely back in the day. I can vividly recall hunting for the card of Rinoa’s dog, finding that kid who ran around in circles in Balamb Garden to get Mini Mog, refining the Laguna card to make 100 Heroes (so you could beat the ridiculous Omega Weapon), and battling with some elder dude in some town that had a crap ton of rare cards, losing to him, and then spending hours trying to get them back. Ah, memories…

I’m in! Let’s do this!

Downloading the game

So with a great amount of nostalgic excitement, I downloaded that sucker like it’s nobody’s business. I mean, what’s the big deal? It’s free after all? Side note: I ended up watching the wonderfully timed South Park episode, Freemium Isn’t Free, a mere few days later; everything in this episode is so spot on, it’s hilarious.

First thing to note, the game is not a standalone app. It’s an embedded game within something called “Final Fantasy Portal”. Read: It’s an advertisement hub with internal apps that you can purchase; just another tricky revenue stream that Square-Enix is pushing. To get to the game itself, you need to touch the upper left corner, and a drop down of games will appear, it is currently the first on the list.

Setting up and starting the game

I believe you need to actually go through a pretty lengthy update process, so grab some popcorn or come back in a few minutes. Once the game has updated, you’ll be presented its story. I have never seen a game attempt to tie-in a story so pathetically in my life. It is literally, literally one pop-up ripping off the recent Dissidia/Theatrhtyhm (I hate that word) games: a struggle between Cosmos and Chaos. O…Kaay. Once that’s over, you move onto the tutorial phase, and the digital crack begins…

Tutorial and initial gameplay

Triple Triad itself is a very simple game with a few wrinkles. Let me see if I can explain it in a sentence…ahem…two players take turn playing from their hand, comprised of 5 cards each, that have north-south-east-west numerals ranging from 1->9->A to a 3×3 grid, each successive card will attempt to “flip” ones on the field to “their color” by “beating it” if the numeral adjacent to it is greater than the one on the field (with “A” being trump”), the players keep doing this until the 3×3 grid is full of cards; whoever has the most cards on their side, wins. Feels like a run-on sentence, but that’s the gist of it.

There are additional “rules” that can be tweaked to change the core gameplay, such as forcing specific card ordering (Chaos), adding bonus flip potential with simple match (Plus, Same), or altering the whole numbering system; 1 is trump, A is weakest (Reverse). If that sounds confusing, it’s not. It’s a very simple game. You beat an opponent? You get to pick one of their five cards to keep as your own (your opponent does not lose their card; like in FFVIII, however).

The tutorial phase explains all of this in great detail and takes about 5 minutes to go through. You are given 5 initial cards (very important, I’ll explain later), and you play through an unloseable first match (trust me, I’ve tried), and then one more match before you can be free to do what you want. Then the not so fun begins.

Freemium…isn’t free?!

You are informed that to replenish whatever nonsense the story said, it takes 30 minutes to recharge a crystal. You get five crystals, and you need one of them to play a round. Lame. Super lame. But, you are given an additional five crystals to attempt to get you addicted. Want more? Too bad. You need to wait 30 minutes, buuuut if you feel like money is not needed for  food, shelter, clothes, dog food, or other important things, you could just dump your money into Square-Enix’ digital bank. Shame on you Square. I have not once made an in-app purchase, nor do I ever intend to, nor should anyone, ever. This nonsense alone significantly cripples the game. I hope this angle dies a horrible death, but alas, it is what it is.

Gameplay

The fun to be had is a mixture of nostalgia, card collecting (there are almost 400 cards in this game from Final Fantasy I to XIV and various offshoots like Type 0, Dissidia, and Tactics [!!]), deck building (nothing beats spending time building a killer deck!), and just the joy of owning fools online with superior strategy.

Triple Triad has two modes: offline and online / local bluetooth. There is no ranking system per se, but for both modes you are given stats on: Wins, Draws, and Streak, and these are displayed to your opponent on every match.

Current stats as of this writing:

Ndolger: Offline – Wins: 497, Draws: 58, Streak: 6 | Online – Wins: 436, Draws: 142, Streak: 1

XeNJ     : Offline – Wins: 304, Draws: 33, Streak: 0 | Online – Wins:  86, Draws:  47, Streak: 3

OK, first off, my main account is artificially bloated…sorry, I’ll explain why below, but it’s about 150-200 wins padded. I know…I hate myself. XeNJ is real though, I promise!

Oh, hold on…my crystals replenished, be right back…

… … …

Eh, a Draw. Where was I? Oh…let’s talk about game progression next.

Game Progression

So, you can’t just waltz into the online components, or you’ll pretty much get destroyed. Your initial deck sucks. It will be composed of two 1* cards, two 2* cards, and one 3* card. The best cards are 5* cards, and the best of the best cards have corner “A-9” placements. Unfortunately, without these, you stand little to no chance of actually winning on the default game mode online. I’ll go into the online aspects in a bit, but first…

You end up needing to play the Solo mode to get some salvageable cards. The offline component (I use that loosely, as the game requires an online connection..at all times…which absolutely sucks for my junky 3G phone…), is broken down into three difficulties: Easy, Normal, and Hard. You unlock each by beating the protagonists in each of the first 14 numbered Final Fantasies. Why not the antagonists? I have no idea. Don’t ask me. The story slide was only one pop-up, remember? Not much details to go off of.

Depending on how good you are at math and not sucking at games in general, this process takes, at minimum, 42 crystals (14 * 3). You get, I believe, 11 crystals to start off with. 5 crystals replenish every 2:30 hours. So, you can reasonably expect to play 20-25 times a day. After you’ve actually unlocked all the difficulties, you basically have a 1% chance of encountering a “rare card” (Hard mode only). Note: Drop rates were significantly boosted at launch; I’d say it was in more of 3-5% range, but it’s hard to know.

In any event, you’ll probably need at least 1 or 2 rare cards before you venture online. The whole goal of this game is to really play with other people. Offline is sort of fun…? I guess. The CPU is either intentionally retarded, or the game modes just aren’t fun. Online is where it’s at!

Starting online

OK! So it’s probably been a few days, you’ve probably got 50+ cards, let’s do this! What should you expect? Well, first off, you’re probably going to lose. A lot. Why? Anyone who is playing online basically needs to win 4-5 times to have a manageable deck. But once you’ve won a few times, you can then have a reasonable chance of beating other players. Make sense? So…newbies get screwed. To make matters worse, you do not get the option of toggling the game mode…until you win one game! What does this mean? I’ll tell you. It means you have to beat “A-9” 5 card deck juggernauts. This basically needs to involve having a dumb opponent. Or fighting someone who is in your boat, but with only a few good rare cards (cough Lightning). This process sucks. It’s dumb, and it shouldn’t be this broken. If you can get past this phase (at least one win), the game is pretty fun.

You’re then free to enjoy all of the other modes at your disposal (alter settings before finding a match). Matchmaking is very basic and you just sit in a queue until another player is found. You get the name of your opponent, but that’s pretty much it. I see no way to follow-up and find out who they are. Which kind of sucks.

Tips, tricks, and hacks

Do you have gotta catch ’em all obsessive compulsive behavior? Do you have a physical longing to complete ridiculous digital collections, for no apparent reason that would benefit you, save perhaps, the stroking of your own ego? Why…I can help! Because I’m like this! There are 383 cards (as of 9/29/15, based on Japanese version, there will be more) available to find, and there are various ways to obtain each:

  • Restricted cards: Need to “achieve” something. Win X number of times. Win X number of times in a row. Unlock all cards from one of the games, etc.
  • Cards found through gameplay: There are “commons”, “uncommons”, and “rares”; just like any card game. You can take one card for each win you earn.
  • Special cards: Triple Triad is part of Final Fantasy Portal. Final Fantasy Portal wants you to sign up for a Square Enix account. Play every day, click on articles, and get points. Redeem points for 5 special cards. Ugh..
  • Tutorial cards: Remember the tutorial section? And the 5 cards you get? Yeaaahhh…about that… Well, all of those cards are unique. And…there’s about 60-70 of them. Yeah. That’s right. So what does this mean? I suspect this is an attempt to force people to “play with their friends” to find all the cards. But the odds of you having enough friends to obtain all of these cards are impossible. There are only two ways I know of how to do this:
    • Get a second phone/tablet to play against yourself (keep deleting/redownloading the app until you get them all), or find the subreddit for this game and play with people online. I chose the former. Because I’m antisocial, and I’d rather do it myself. I don’t ask for help.
  • Sephiroth: Because Square-Enix wants to be a complete douchebag, they decided to make one very special card almost impossible to obtain without cheating: Sephiroth. It’s not even that great of a card, but…to get it, you need to win…100 matches…in a row. Online. If anyone can achieve this feat, I applaud you. But this is akin to winning the lottery, so good luck. The only way this can be done is fighting against yourself or a friend 100 times in a row, and hoping you don’t get a dropped game. Yes, I did this. Yes, I’m obsessed.

Well, if you’re not obsessed with the collection aspect (I have a problem), here are some general tips on how to win:

  • Stop making boring decks. Guys, seriously, every deck online has 3-4 of the same cards in them. Why? Because they’re overpowered. What does this mean? You know exactly what people are going to use. I’ve found decks that have right heavy “A” power mixed with some trickery can beat most anything…because everyone uses left heavy “A”, and I know, in general, what cards are going to be used, so I can account for the weaknesses. It also helps that I have every card, and there are so very few cards that have specific combinations.
  • Why do people make boring decks? Well, there is one card, specifically, that is completely broken. It is a double “A” west-south. Lightning. Everyone uses it. In every deck. It’s the ONLY card that has two “A”s in it, and can be used as a defensive shield or brutal offensive weapon. I’ve seen one person not use it…ever. That means, every deck you’re going to see is only going to have 4 unique cards. You need to account for this card at all times, it is almost always the card that causes you to lose.
  • I use a spider approach: Bait people into a sequence of events until they screw up and leave one of their cards unprotected. This usually involves a trap with the Lightning card. It works 75% of the time for me. I have 3-4 variations of this same deck. Most people play the “four corners” approach with “A-9” and hope you screw up; usually followed up by a north or south “A” finisher. Seriously, that’s it. Everybody does this. My approach beats these decks 80% of the time.
  • Play “Roulette”. If you really want to have the most fun and vary up your experience, this is really the only mode to do that, and it’s the only mode where you might generally find a game (all the other combinations are ghost-towns). Although this isn’t exactly booming with activity either.

Final tips:

  • Look, I don’t do this, as I don’t see the point, the game is supposed to be fun, but if you’re having trouble, here’s a way to get past the “first phase” of online: background the app when you start a game. This will drop the session, but the game will remain. Your opponent will be replaced by a CPU, and the CPU is stupid. You have a much better chance of winning. A lot of people do this on purpose, just to get more wins/streaks. I don’t get it, but, to each his own.
  • Want a comprehensive list of all cards? Check this page out. It’s still being worked on, and it should take quite awhile to find them all.

Final thoughts

I really want to like this game more than I do. It has several problems though. Online is broken. One card has broken the game. I really wish Square-Enix would patch it or get rid of it completely. The game has a lot more potential, but it’s not a full fledged game…yay for freemium. It makes me upset at the potential here. I still enjoy it, but it’s depressing to consider how much more fun it could be.

Also, I didn’t mention this, but once you obtain “10” of the same card, you can “alchemy it” into a different version of the same numbers. This aspect is really the only reason I’m still playing. Not everybody has unlocked these yet! And that’s fun to me. I like being the first people to do stuff, so…I’ll continue playing.

I’m at 378/383 cards, and 3 of the remaining that I need involve creating up to two hundred new cards. That means I need to play (win) at least 2000 times. It’s going to take awhile…

I’m obsessed with this damn thing, but I’m going to see it through the end. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes to play, my wife hates it, but…I just can’t stop. South Park says it best:

  • “YOU’VE COLLECTED TEN CANADIAN COINS! CONGRATULATIONS! HEY YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT THIS, GUY!”
  • “No, see If something’s addictive because it’s FUN, that’s one thing, but this is just blatant Skinner Box manipulation.”

Score

+ Oh, the nostalgia!

+ The core gameplay is actually very fun and simple

+ Card collecting and deck building is enjoyable

– Boring initial phase

– Ridiculous freemium replenishment

– Broken online…damn you Lightning!

– With the launch window over and supreme difficulty of new players being able to break through; the community isn’t very robust. Seems doubtful that the online aspects are going to be healthy for long; at least on Android…I can’t imagine this is much better on iOS though.

7.5 – But yet I continue…recommended for fans

Filed under Reviews, Videogames
Sep 29, 2015

Man Cave: Building a Video Game Themed Wall

0 Comments

I like video games. Like, a whole lot. Definitely more than the average person. Probably more than most human beings. I have always seemed to have a lot of “stuff” that celebrated that passion, but it was never coordinated in any meaningful way. That all changed when my new house came with a finished 3rd floor attic. I knew that this was going to be my mid-life crisis man cave, no question. I knew I was going to finally have an outlet to display this properly.

This post is dedicated to one wall in this room (I’ll show and explain the rest of it in subsequent posts). Here is how it’s shaping up at this point:

The wall can broken down into a few sections. I think of them like this:

  • Left media tower: Nintendo – Yes, Nintendo comprises the entire thing, and notice I’m running out of space…
  • Right media tower: Everything else. This is heavily dominated by Playstation, but Dreamcast has prime real estate in the top left corner. This still has room for expansion and holds some miscellaneous bulky items.
  • Open wall space:  I generally have themed items that correspond to either Nintendo specifically or the rest of the video game industry.

General notes:

  • If it isn’t obvious from looking at the collection, I pretty much prefer Japanese development houses…but not extremely Japanese ones (read: super weird…Japanese can get…weird). Most of my collection is pretty standard stuff from the major blue-chip companies.
  • I have yet to find a truly great and robust tracking website to catalog game collections. The best I have found is IGN’s abysmal, and perpetually in flux, game collection feature.
    • This is the latest snapshot I have of that. However, it is several years out of date. I should be well over 600 games by now.
  • I absolutely detest EA, Ubisoft, Activision, and Microsoft (hence no Xbox footprint at all). They make garbage mainstream corporate junk; for the most part. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.
    • No, generally speaking, FPS, sports, racing, and fighting games are not my passions. They’re boring. They’re mostly the same recycled crap. The only notable regional exception is my undying love for Rareware. Those UK bastards used to make such amazing products. I digress…
  • The color theme of the entire room is “Oak and Black”. No surprise, the shelving units here are…you guessed it, oak and black.
    • The middle black shelf holds no gaming related content at all. This is going to be remedied.
  • The best advice I can give to someone trying to start a physical game collection is:
    1. With the growth of digital gaming, physical game collecting is…changing. Ironically, we’re seeing more and more “collector’s editions” of stuff though, so…I don’t know. I hope we never get to a point where a console is completely digital. That will be a sad day. Just be aware, the future looks kind of murky, but the past 20-30 years? Golden!
    2. Much like collecting DVDs and CDs, it can be very expensive! I tend to buy less than 10% of any game for full price. Price decay is so fast now, that within 6 months, a game will be available for half the price, at least (well, except Nintendo, they generally price decay, very, very slowly; if at all).
    3. Depending at where you are at in your “life” life cycle, you may not be able to play games…at all. I’m getting there. This makes 2) even more important because…most of my purchases end up sitting untouched and sealed for years! More money = more responsibilities = less time to actually do what you enjoy. Life is so unfair.

Specific item / collection highlights:

  • Storage
    • First the boring stuff: the media shelves. The main ones are Prepac Triple Wdith Storage Rack (Oak and Black). These units are about as economical one can if you are looking to hold the amount of content as I am here. They were, relatively, easy to assemble. They look great and have a huge amount of flexibility in configuration. Lots of top shelf space, and since it’s not too tall, it ends up working great for displaying things. I love these shelves! Still, they’re not exactly cheap, but I have yet to find anything less expensive, for the value.
      • I think I got the middle black shelf at Big Lots! at some point. Doesn’t matter though, it’s being replaced by this shelf also by Prepac. This allows me to have even height shelving, and opens up some more wall space (it’s several inches thinner)…which opens up some more interesting wall display options.
  • Games
    • The games on the Nintendo side include games from: NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, Wii U, Game Boy/Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS. Pretty much everything Nintendo has ever released (well, I don’t have Virtual Boy…).
      • I’ve always had a collector’s mentality, even as a child, so almost all of my games are complete with box. Unfortunately, I was too young to grasp such things in the NES, SNES eras (hence, no boxes). Thanks mom and dad! YOU RUINED EVERYTHING! Ahem…
    • The games on the Playstation/Sega side are pretty much all complete (jewel cases >> cardboard). These include games from the following systems: PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Genesis, Dreamcast. The only “missing” systems are PS Vita and Sega Saturn. PS Vita is, in my opinion, useless, and Saturn was just too expensive for a broke child. Can’t win ’em all…
      • The PS1 era will always hold special significance for me. Generally speaking, the onslaught of RPGs that were put out from ’97 to ’99 on PS1 alone were some of the greatest gaming experiences of my life. If you didn’t live through that era in real-time, it’s hard to describe. It was pretty damn amazing. I don’t think it will ever be topped.
      • And then there’s Dreamcast. The weird kid on the block, with all these crazy games that no one had ever thought about making. I won’t go much into this (because I already have), but man, what a hell of a time ’99 to ’01 was. The overwhelming passion from that era can still be felt today. There’s a huge reason why my dead Dreamcast is displayed on the far right. It was a kickass system. It means a lot to me.
  • Odds and ends in the shelves
    • Lots of random accessories like: Gold Wii Nunchuk and Classic Controller, Wii Plastic Guns, boxed Dreamcast controllers, and lots of special edition sets.
    • My favorite is an official leather NES game holder. No idea where my parents got this, but it’s awesome. It can be seen in the very middle of the Nintendo shelf. It holds my NES games, as one would expect.
    • The middle shelf contains a few video game sound tracks. What’s not seen in this picture is the CD rack to the left which holds several dozen more. I…uh, also, really like video game music too.
  • Tops of the shelves
    • This is where I’ve really splurged within the last two years. Almost all of this is new. I’ve decided to partition the two sides with the following themes:
      • Nintendo is more lighthearted, and amiibo is a thing, so…it houses my ever growing collection of amiibo.
      • The right side is the more “serious”, “mature” side (by the way, I don’t actually think like this…fun is fun, people who dismiss quality for perceptions of…whatever, are totally failing at life), so it has more complex and expensive figures.
        • These include, minus Vash, a Dark Souls No-name character, Big Daddy from Bioshock, Mitsuru from Persona 3, and Eleanor from Phantasy Star Online. All major, major, critically important symbolic characters from games in my video game history timeline.
    • There’s room for expansion and rearrangement here, which I like.
    • Limited edition light from Metal Gear Solid Revegenance. I’m probably going to move this elsewhere, but it’s pretty cool.
      • Although, I just turned it on again for the first time in a couple of years, and the lightning effect doesn’t work. 🙁
  • Wall art
    • This is something I’ve had a lot of fun with, and has taken years and years to come together. I feel like it’s finally solidified to a point where I can call it “complete”. I’ll continue to tweak this over time, but I don’t really plan on re-configuring any of this in a major way. What’s here is going to stay here for decades (at least that is my hope).
    • The items here can be broken down in a few different categories. Unlike the “games” section, I can actually go in-depth in explaining how these were purchased. Games are games, you buy them at retail. Everything up here is unique in their own way. Those categories are:
      • Custom plastic signs / logos
        • Due to, what I assume is, major intellectual property issues, you can’t…umm…just go and buy these at the store.
        • I have only found two, count ’em, two sellers that make these. I’m sure there are more out there, but I have tried pretty damn hard to find them to no avail.
          • Both are on eBay: 75life and thinng. The latter has his own website. I was able to requisition several signs from him by working outside of eBay.
        • You’d think someone on Etsy would sell something like this, but…nope.
        • The takeaway I’ve found is that you need to do custom orders offline to have any chance at creating something like this.
        • The signs under this category include: Nintendo, Sega, Konami, Umbrella Corporation, Capcom, Namco, Enix, Square, Atlus, and the circular Playstation logo.
      • Metal signs
        • Like the plastic signs these are hand-made custom orders. The “?” Block from Mario and the Rareware logo are metal. I literally got them from a guy who was selling a few extra in an obscure forum. I have no way of reliably finding these again.
      • Framed box art
        • This is the Chrono Trigger poster. Seller justbringit2010 sells this on eBay. He’s got dozens and dozens of different variations. I have no doubt he would take requests. He has PAL, JPN, and NA versions of a ton of games.
        • These all appear hand made, but the source material is obviously widely available. You could literally do this yourself if you had the initiative. Looks like you just need a very high quality color printer and a frame.
      • Retail signs
        • These include the Link, Kirby, and Playstation. These are generally more expensive and even…find. It’s very difficult to “search” for these things.
        • Generally, these will be pretty unique though. I’m always on the lookout for stuff like this.

That pretty much sums it up. The best way I can advise building something like this boils down to a few points:

  • It takes time. Collections don’t grow over  night. This is 25+ years of effort.
  • It does not have to be prohibitively expensive. I mean, it’s expensive, but all of this content was a “good deal”, in my opinion.
  • Make it unique. There’s nothing fun about having exactly what someone else has. I’m always looking for unique items. My centerpieces are the signs and logos. I’ve never seen any other person display a collection like this.

Next time, I’ll go in-depth on other pieces in the room. But, most are still in progress. They include: a sports area, a music area, an anime area, and another shrine to Nintendo (note the lack of Club Nintendo on this wall; that’s not accident), as well as the game consoles themselves.

Filed under Videogames
Aug 16, 2015

The Absurdity of Shenmue III (and other [E3] thoughts)

0 Comments

Hello internet. It’s been awhile. Sorry about that…I kind of dozed off there. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

A perfect storm of amiibo-mania (nope, things still haven’t changed), an unhealthy obsession with the recently vanquished CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (watched all 102 games…), and a drug-addicted like state of never-ending BIOSHOCK 2’ing left me paralyzed to do anything else. But with BIOSHOCK dying, amiibo-mania dying down (once the Smash set is over…I’m out), the CAVS spitting me out and leaving me as a broken shell of a man, and, oh yeah, Game of Thrones over, well, I’ve got some time! With that out of the way… … .. .

shenmueIII

HOLY BABY JESUS! THIS CAME OUT OF NOWHERE! I’m…I’m still in shock. I never, ever expected this game to come out in my lifetime. …Why? Well…let’s talk about it. You have to know the history of this “franchise” to understand the craziness of this news.

I have to imagine most people have no idea what the hell Shenmue is, and that’s perfectly understandable. A wonderful collection on the very long history of Shenmue can be found at Shenmue Dojo (they’ve been waiting SOOO long for this game – the website is still using oldschool HTML frames!) or its Wikipedia page. Basically, to sum up, this is an “epic”-tale conceived by Yu Suzuki (Sega’s one-time equivalent of Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto) comprised of somewhere between 11 and 16 chapters. Shenmue I covered Ch. 1, Shenmue II covered Ch3-6 (Ch. 2 takes place on a boat…don’t ask..).

The jist of it is…the story is done. It’s been done for decades! So, what the hell happened? The first game set, and held for a good while, a record of being the most expensive game ever made; somewhere along the lines of $70-100 million dollars! It didn’t recoup the cost, and Sega never recovered. Shenmue was Sega’s hail-mary, and it didn’t work out. Dreamcast died, and it took a few years, but Sega is now a walking corpse. Sega owns Shenmue’s intellectual property and given their…ahem…reluctance to make actual software that actual human beings want to play, the prospects of Shenmue III ever being continued were infinitesimally small. The only way anyone thought this would happen is if Sega would end up being absorbed by another player. The idea that Shenmue III would be backed by Sony (through this Kickstarter), the company that ultimately destroyed Sega, is strangely ironic.

OK, so yeah…an old game series is being continued, why should you care? … I don’t know. I’m not sure regular gamers will care. I’m not sure this game will really appeal to anyone but the diehards, to be honest. But for me, and thousands of others, this series is just something very special. It’s completely unique, and was way, way beyond its time.  Shenmue II, through a mixture of it being my first imported game (I had to buy a EU copy and play it through a bootloader…because Sega didn’t localize it!!) and its own merits, is my 2nd favorite game of all-time. I don’t anticipate that will ever change (nostalgia is a tough thing to vanquish). What kind of game is Shenmue? Well, it’s a fighting action RPG QTE movie with minigames. Yeah. Exactly.

Shenmue is such a strange, weird, grand, epic game. If you’re “in the know” just saying normally innocuous words like toy capsules, darts, ducks, soda cans, arcades, fork lifts, zippos, and “100” should bring a smile to your face. Not to mention Ren and Joy (mmm….Joy…) and that epic Guilin sequence (seriously, that was amazing). There’s no equivalent game I can compare it to. It was just a fantastic experience…well, other than the loading times. Dear lord those loading times…I will not miss those.

LONG LIVE SHENMUE!

Oh yeah! There was also E3… Hmm, let me sum up my reactions in a few words:

  • Sony: Hey…you’re skipping remakes of V and VI!!
  • Microsoft: I’m not interested in any of your games (I cringed at that new Rare game…), but that Minecraft demo was cool!
  • Nintendo: I’M REALLY EXCITED FOR THOSE ANIMAL CROSSING GAMES! And dat Metroid Game!! Oh wait. Those were terrible. Just terrible Nintendo. Why don’t you just officially announce Wii U is dead?

See you again in six months!

Filed under Videogames
Jun 17, 2015

Where have all the amiibo gone?

0 Comments

amiibo

OK, Nintendo it’s been awhile since I wrote a letter to you, but it feels like now is a good time after you have done your absolute best to top the Xenoblade/Last Story debacle of ’11. Nintendo somehow continues to raise the bar in levels of ineptness; now with their handling of their new product called amiiboWhat’s an amiibo? They’re mini-figures of Nintendo intellectual property. Mario, Link, Pikachu and dozens of others. Cool, right? Kids can play with them. Adults can collect them. Everyone’s happy! Right…right? Well, it’s never that simple with Nintendo anymore…

So what’s the problem exactly? Much like Beanie Babies, Furby, and Tickle Me Elmo before it, amiibos are in short supply. Take a quick glance on Amazon, many are completely out of stock or are fetching ridiculous prices. Shocker? Hardly. And that’s fine. Perfectly acceptable. No one is really debating that point. This happens during the holiday season. No big deal.

What has drawn the furious ire of the loyal gaming community is how Nintendo is reacting to this. Nintendo’s lack of clear communication on the shortages is so incredibly weak, it’s laughable. There are rumors of straight up discontinuation (after a MONTH, no less), amiibos being replaced with trading cards instead (are you f’ing serious?), and any attempt of clarification from Nintendo has been incredibly vague and awkward. There has not been a clear official statement on the matter, at best, it’s a “maybe they’ll be more…soon…ish…umm…maybe”? What the hell?! MAYBE?! One run of an item that can’t even be FOUND at retail stores? Nor preordered reliably? For God’s sake, Wave 3 is due to come out in late Jan / February and Nintendo had the bright idea to have retailer specific exclusives (Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, Gamestop…*shudder*…Gamestop…), and…it’s impossible to preorder one month away! Target for example has been available for less than an hour…at 2AM EST! Madness…this is only going to get worse, not better.

Here is an email I received today after trying to purchase some Wave 2 figurines from Toys R Us:

amiibo-fail

This in itself isn’t what’s hilarious. This cancellation was after a prior cancellation email and a second opportunity given to users to purchase these items. That’s right. Toys R Us gave people a second chance to reorder items through an exclusive link…and they were still cancelled. Do you know what this means? It means Nintendo is screwing with retailers grasp on how much inventory they’re getting. There have been reports stores have been receiving 1 to 2 units of many of these figures. Insane.

Nintendo’s research in market dynamics is absolutely abysmal. It’s one thing to underestimate demand, it’s another thing to do so and then not replenish or allocate units correctly across different SKUs. This isn’t a ploy for marketing and hype, this is just incompetent management. Somehow, some peon somewhere thought, “Hey, we need to have Link, Pikachu, and Mario readily available at all times; let’s make 100 units of those for every 1 unit of everything else. Sorry Marth, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Fox, Samus, Pit, Little Mac, Diddy, Donkey Kong, Captain Falcon…there’s no way anybody will want you guys”.

Wait…what’s that? Europe and Japan DO NOT HAVE THESE PROBLEMS? Wow! No way! People have had to resort to ordering from German Amazon to buy these figures. Thank heavens Nintendo didn’t region-lock these things (as they normally do). So again, this isn’t Nintendo being cute to artificially try to drive up demand, this is piss-poor market research and execution, with terrible public relations management to boot.

Nintendo’s struggles with Wii U are well chronicled (i.e. it’s not selling well), so when amiibo were announced, many saw this as a potential turnaround for the company to start to drive interest in Wii U and obtain a new revenue stream. How could this not work? Disney and Activision has proven there is an interest (and a huge market) in this area. It’s baffling to see such a gold mine of profits just…thrown away? Why, Nintendo? Why do you always manage to screw up the simplest shit? It’s insane! You want money, people want these things. Why does it need to be this complicated? Instead, scalpers are selling these things for 5x the price. Hope you’re happy! That’s profits you’re not seeing AND pissing off your customers.

Do you know how Nintendo can fix this? Issue a clear statement statement saying, “We realize there is enormous demand for our amiibo products, and we will ensure that anyone that wishes to obtain their favorite character will be given the opportunity to do so, no matter what. We will take any measure necessary to ensure that our customers are completely satisfied”. That’s it. That’s all they have to say.

Should we start making calls to Operation Rainfall for you to fix this? I mean you eventually ended up releasing Xenoblade in the US after months and months of hounding (but I had no faith, so you forced me to import from the UK…thanks again for that). This situation just feels…completely different. The community shouldn’t have to voice complaints over this one Nintendo. This is really just common freaking sense.

Here’s what I wrote in 2011 after Nintendo’s mishandling of Xenoblade:

I have literally lost all will to support you Nintendo. Honestly, this is the beginning of the end for you. You’re chasing a market that’s going to destroy you. The casuals will NOT stand by you. They will leave and you will be left with nothing. Mark my words. You are done. And it’s so sad…

My how appropriate this comment still resonates today. What happened with the Wii U Nintendo? Oh, the casuals left you. As they always do. So what have you been doing since then? Continuing to piss off your loyal hardcore fanbase. Congrats, you’ve learned nothing. amiibo was a “layup”, and somehow you airballed it. Bravo!

So what’s going to end up happening? Well, I believe Nintendo will finally start ramping up more production, because I honestly don’t believe a company can be so stupid to leave money on the table like this. But, this wish-washy, maybe we will, maybe we won’t dance will probably go on for a couple more months. Everyone who wants a Marth or a Villager will probably get one, somehow. Maybe through Club Nintendo, maybe directly through a Nintendo website, who knows. But do I know this to be true? Hell no! And that’s the problem! No one freaking knows with Nintendo anymore! They continue to drag their customers through the mud. I’m just wondering how many more times I’m going to put up with this nonsense. So, again, bravo Nintendo, you continue to push the limits of how much you can punish your fans before they just say, “enough with it, I’m out”. I guess we’ll see if you can make it right, I just don’t have that high of hopes anymore…

Filed under Videogames, WTF
Jan 2, 2015

Bioshock Leaderboard Top 100 – All Categories

0 Comments

I imagine I must know what crack addiction feels like, because I’m fairly sure I’m following a pattern of abuse. But, you know, instead of illicit drugs, it just seems to be video games. I cycle through “the” game that defines my gaming for years (sometimes it’s 1 year…sometimes it’s 3, sometimes it’s 10!). This time, it’s been Bioshock 2. Previously, it’s been Chu Chu Rocket, Phantasy Star Online, Resident Evil 5, Phantasy Star Universe, Phantasy Star Online Ep III. Nothing will ever top Super Smash Bros Melee! Who knows what the next one will be? Might be soon enough…could it be the new Smash Bros? Well, we’ll see because Bioshock is dying. And since I feel the imminent death of the game arriving soon (you just can’t find reliable games any more man….), I decided to capture the leaderboard rankings.

Why? Because I don’t want regrets. I’ve had too many games just “die” without warning. I put hundreds and hundreds of hours into this game, this is my legacy. This needs to *mean* something. Was it all for naught? You decide. This is 4.5 years of work. Enjoy.

If it weren’t for a certain “#2” who will not stop playing, I would have quit long, long ago…

Personal summary:

Adam – #1: 12909370
Kills – #4: 278297
Solo Wins – #3: 5501 (impossible for about two years now; no one plays solo…)
Team Wins – #96: 3317
Big Daddy Kills – #1: 544644 (also number one in takedowns: 6031)

Filed under Videogames
Oct 26, 2014

Happy 15th Birthday Dreamcast!

1 Comment

On this day 15 years ago, one of the most revolutionary video game console systems hit North America. 9/9/99. It’s a date that I will never forget.

It’s a rare event in video game history when so much goodness comes out one day. Not only did Dreamcast launch that day (with its, at the time, record breaking breadth of launch titles), but Final Fantasy VIII did as well. That’s pretty much a nerd orgasm right there.

For months leading up to the release, every day I would ask my mother for “spare change” to put toward funds to buy the system (basically asking for a quarter a day!). I saved every penny I had…every damn penny! Finally, after a gruelingly torturous amount of time of waiting (I’m talking South Park levels here)…release day finally came, and oh man was it a beautiful day! It was easily the most coin I had ever dropped in one day in my short life. Dreamcast console, VMU, Sonic Adventure…oh and Final Fantasy VIII (can’t forget that…). Pretty sure that was way over $300 (which now seems so…cheap).

Just unboxing the thing was a joy in itself. The hardware was beautiful. And simple. White with grey accents and a little swirly Dreamcast logo.

dreamcast

It had two buttons “Power” and “Open” and four ports for controllers (which, at the time, was unprecedented). The controller was a monster and innovative in its own right. It had two expansion ports to hold modular components. This included over the years a “Rumble Pak” (think N64), a microphone, and the most unique: a detachable VMU (Virtual Memory Unit) that had several functions. It was a memory card, a personal second screen for the player, and could be used standalone to play simple minigames. Way ahead of its time, and unfortunately never put to the greatest use. Wii U is struggling with this very same feature introduced 13 years later! Oh, yeah..the VMU could also attach directly to other VMUs to play multiplayer games on the go. I still have fond memories of playing the Sonic Adventure minigames on the school bus with other people that had the hardware. Most of the core components of the controller was shamefully ripped off by Microsoft when they released their XBox console two years later.

Hardware

dreamcast_console_modem_removal_large

OK, that’s enough about the console and the controller. But there is one more important thing to note with regards to hardware. Dreamcast came equipped, out of the box, with a 56k modem (Google it). This turned the Dreamcast into a PC with a full web browser, and the ability to play online games. Do you realize how much of a big deal this was?! This was revolutionary stuff in 1999. Don’t forget the 128-bit graphics (side note: very sad we don’t gauge hardware in ‘bits’ any more…I loved this)!

Innovative Software

imgres

OK, yeah, yeah, but what about the games? A system is only as good as its games, right? Oh, boy. What a run the Dreamcast had! An unbelievable number of new Intellectual Property came out during this time. Standouts include:

  • Shenmue I and II  – One of the first “sand box” games. Enormous open world.
  • Jet Set Radio – First ever game to utilize the “cel-shading” graphical technique.
  • Samba de Amigo – Included plastic maracas; pre-Guitar Hero era.
  • Seaman – First…and only (?) talking virtual pet simulator; required use of microphone (bundled with game).
  • Alien Front Online – First online console game to feature voice chat.
  • Phantasy Star Online – First online console free-to-play MMORPG.

Among many others. Special shout out to Crazy Taxi…umm…first game where you drive people around a virtual city as fast as possible (while simultaneously destroying the city)? Again, so very much ahead of its time. Sega pioneered so many new fun ideas in such a short period.

Graphical Discussion

imgres

I’ll take some time to headline a few other games that mean a lot to me, but first…graphics. The first standout has to be Sonic Adventure…as it was the first game I purchased at launch. And wow. To me this game embodied the next-gen era. It was beautiful! It had its fair share of problems, and wasn’t quite the graphical and genre-defining impact that Mario 64 had on the industry, but man…it was close (to me; most people consider Soul Calibur to be the graphical darling of this era)!

There are only a handful of video game experience that have made me go “wow” (from a graphical standpoint) over the years. I can literally name them:

  • Super Mario Bros. – First game I ever played; at my aunt’s house. Unreal.
  • Super Mario World – Saw a demo at Sam’s Club; I adored SMB3 and this was just so much better looking, it blew me away!
  • Super Mario 64 – Played a demo at Toys R Us, and bought it at launch. This was probably the pinnacle of “jumps” for most everybody. Hard for anyone to argue this game’s impact.
  • Final Fantasy VII – Saw FMV sequences at Toys R Us. Doesn’t stand up that great today, but still…holy crap man. I distinctly remember seeing this scene at Toys R Us and as the biggest FFVI fan ever (even at that time), I knew I had to play this game.
  • Sonic Adventure – The most beautiful 3D I had ever seen at the time. Not to mention the opening sequence is still pretty freakin’ awesome.
  • Star Wars Rogue Squadron II – Gamecube launch game; just amazingly beautiful.
  • Resident Evil – Jaw droppingly gorgeous. This footage is over 12 years old and still looks better than most games today.

I haven’t had a wow moment (graphically speaking) for any game since 2002. OK, I lied, I thought of a few:

  • Odin Sphere – The pinnacle of 2D sprite work.
  • Final Fantasy XIII – A particular section of Final Fantasy XIII.
  • Heavy Rain – The whole game.

Still, not much has had the same impact on me as these games had…in over a decade. Either I’m become way too jaded (a legitimate possibility) or we’ve just passed the point of dismissing marginal returns. Which is sad…and is a big reason why I look to this Dreamcast era (’99-’02) as one of the best ever. Soul Calibur, Shenmue, and Code Veronica were also widely heralded for outstanding graphics. But graphics are just one aspect, it’s really only about the gameplay. What made Dreamcast so great?

Sonic Adventure

Have to come back to Sonic Adventure. This felt like a genre-changing game at the time and I still consider it to be. It is one of the very best 3D Sonic games ever made (and there’s a bunch…and there’s a lot of crap…). Blazing fast gameplay; all very beautiful. Just don’t mention Big The Cat, and we’re good.

Nobody remembers or talks about this, but this game had online play, and I had never experienced anything this before. I am a very, very…VERY competitive person, and I was able to break into the top 10 on some challenges (open to the whole world). There is nothing more satisfying than to beat your peers at things on a worldwide scale (hell, it’s the only reason I played Bioshock II…to be the best, but I digress…). Fun note, this game had sponsored events. I remember Reebok (Google it…oh wait, I guess they’re still around) hosting one, and was the first instance I’ve ever seen in-game advertising before. I thought it was neat at the time.

All that said…this was a fun game! Most people widely consider the sequel (SA2) to be the superior game, but to be honest…the open-world nature is what really makes this shine. Throw in a virtual pet simulator (which could be raised on the VMU) and there’s hours of entertainment here.

Chu Chu Rocket

The first online multiplayer game ever released on a console game out a year later in 2000. It’s name was Chu Chu Rocket. And oh, was it beautiful. A deceptively simple puzzle game, but its big draw was the online play. It had a layout that I don’t think any multiplayer game has been able to replicate since (at least that I’ve played). It had basic online lobbies that functioned as a chat room (’90s loved chat rooms) and anyone could create a “game” for up to 3 others to join. That’s it. Talk? Play? It’s up to you. Unbelievably simple, unbelievably fun. And addicting. Oh, did I mention you could play Japanese people?! It had no region locks. This was during a time when companies didn’t care who played each other (unlike today where most everything is region locked), and again…it was beautiful. I was one of the four best players (I considered Lennon, ZeRO, and Ruff Ryder my equals – I still remember their damn names…) in America. I ended up being Top 10 on the leaderboards, and it’s an accomplishment I’ll be proud of until the day I die. I would come home from school, watch Gundam Wing and Dragon Ball Z, and then hit the Chu Chu lobbies. Can’t get much better than that man.

It had a pretty big social impact on my life.  I still talk to people who played this game (and other multiplayer games) 15 years later. You’ve got to appreciate the context here…this was basically during a time when the internet was a baby. Remember AOL chat rooms? Chu Chu was pretty much this. I’ll never forget this era (one that didn’t include microphones…thank God). It’s quite something to be one of the first people to do something, and I really felt like I was a pioneer during these times. And it’s one of the very key reasons I can type 120 words per minute (forgot to mention the keyboard accessory)!

It was re-released on GBA and on iOS and Android a few years ago (sans online play…which is a bummer). Main benefit of those versions is that they include hundreds of user generated puzzles (still haven’t seen if any of mine made the list!). Desperately awaiting the day that this ever gets a true sequel on a real platform. I mastered this damn game…and miss it very much.

Jet Set (Grind) Radio

How cool was this game? Has there been anything like this created since? This epitomizes the spirit of Dreamcast. Fun, innovative, and unique…with a remarkable sense of style. It’s hard to even describe the gameplay. Let’s see if I can do it in a sentence: you play as a member of a roller blade gang which vandalize a city called Neo Tokyo via graffiti…and eventually save the world (or something).

Totally recommend getting this on today’s consoles as it was re-released a few years ago. This got a sequel on the original Xbox which…remains a challenge to play. The fact that it hasn’t been released in a digital form yet is…troubling. I’ll save remarks on why at the end of the piece…

Skies of Arcadia

The very best RPG on the Dreamcast. Unfortunately, one of only a few RPGs on the Dreamcast (can’t forget Grandia II though!!). Still, a very fun traditional RPG (gotta love those random battles…actually…no, it was one of the games worst features…) with excellent music and interesting battle mechanics.

Sega now gets fans hopes up of ever seeing a sequel to the series by placing the main characters in random series. For apparently the only reason other than to break the hearts of those said fans.

Shenmue / Shenmue II

One of the main reasons I decided to purchase a Dreamcast in the first place. I remember watching all kinds of promos about this game. It ended up being an open-world (while still pretty constrictive) with all kinds of weird features. It had old Sega arcade games, it had QTE (Google it), it had Darts. Shenmue II had duck racing. Yes, duck racing. It’s a weird series, and very Japanese. I loved them! At its heart, it’s a game about finding out who murdered your father.

America just wasn’t ready for this game. I’m not sure the world was ready for these games. With a reported record breaking $70 million dollar budget, some point to this game being what ultimately destroyed Sega. Grand Theft Auto IV ended up breaking this budget record…10 years later. Strangely, Sega did not even bothering to release Shenmue II in America (but it did release in Europe). Shenmue II is notable for me as being only one of two games I have ever imported (Xenoblade was the second). I consider Shenmue II to be the third best game I have ever played…probably mostly for sentimental reasons, but I absolutely adore Shenmue II.

This series is one that fans are dying to see revived. Sega has teased fans, most recently in 2013, of a possible sequel by having Ryo (main character) as a driver in Sonic Racing All-stars.

There are reports that Sony is interested in continuing the series as it was always intended to be much longer. There are supposed to be 16 chapters in the series. Shenmue I and II comprise the first 8. The sad thing is that Yu Suzuki (the game’s creator) has had the story written since the Sega Saturn days!! No one will finance it. It’s an unbelievable shame.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica

In my mind, the very best 3rd party game released on the Dreamcast. Other notable contenders include…umm…Soul Calibur? Looking back, one of the main reasons Dreamcast did not end up being a lasting force is because it ended up having the same curse that has plagued Nintendo for 20 years…no third party support.

That aside, what a fantastic game. I still consider this to be the absolute best “classic” Resident Evil…although RE2 is pretty close, and I personally think it gives RE4 a run for its money. Scary, creepy, beautiful with an interesting plot.

Phantasy Star Online

I cannot very well end a discussion on Dreamcast software without discussing Phantasy Star Online. This game changed my life. It turned an introvert into a “never want to go anywhere and do anything introvert”! I have no regrets about that. I would very much rather live in a virtual world than the real world. Is that an indictment on today’s society or on me? Perhaps too philosophical to discuss here. Moving on…

How can something so simple and monotonous be so much fun? The game boils down to a button mashing action RPG at its core. It’s basically a 3D Gauntlet. Well, if you make it free and provide other incentives (shiny things; RARE DROPZ), all while letting you do it with others, what could be more fun?!

PSO was just the beginning though. There were many sequels and expansions on various platforms. PSO version 2.0 released on Dreamcast but set a dangerous precedent with being pay to play (I believe ~$10/ mo)? I never got to play it as: I was poor, and when it released my Dreamcast was dead at the time. Not soon after, Dreamcast would be dead for good…

Post Dreamcast, Phantasy Star released on Gamecube (again pay to play), but featured several new areas and other improvements. Phantasy Star Online Episode III released shortly thereafter on Gamecube, but was basically a different game. It was a card game (think Magic: The Gathering) where you can play 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 in virtual lobbies. Absolutely fantastic game, by the way, and another one where I became a “God” (literal distinction given to top 50 players).

That would be followed up by PSO: Blue Burst (Episode IV) and was the pinnacle of the series in terms of content. It was basically an expansion pack to the original game which included the Gamecube chapters. However, it was only on PC, and remains the only PC game I’ve ever played for a significant period of time. The servers were retired several years ago.

Another offshoot series followed soon after called Phantasy Star Universe. It released on PC, PS2, and Xbox. It had the same basic gameplay with slight changes. Combat mechanics changed, but most people agreed…it just wasn’t the same. These servers were also decommissioned a few years ago. The Japanese servers went for much longer and were finally decommissioned in 2012.

I miss the game / series very much. It was basically a job. This is a game you play for 8+ hours a day. I had several long-lasting friendships playing this game, and I hope to revive that again if Sega would allow it (or maybe it’s for the best that they don’t…). The funny thing is Sega reinvented the PSO series. Phantasy Star Online 2 came out in Japan in 2012, and has received much critical acclaim. However, Sega has set no release date for America. A point of which I and several others repeatedly complain about on their official PSO2 Facebook page.

All that said, without Dreamcast laying the groundwork, I would not have had the experiences I’ve had for the last 15 years. And for that, I am thankful. People still play Phantasy Star games on private servers to this day (most notably SCHTHACK for PSO) via some…custom hacking.

So what happened?

How could something so great…end so quickly? Dreamcast only lived for basically 2 years. There are many factors which led to the demise of the Dreamcast, not one single answer, but here are some of the more compelling reasons:

  • Sega was not in a good position when Dreamcast launched. Their previous console, Sega Saturn, was a flop. Sega was in debt and Dreamcast was supposed to be their savior.
  • They spent a ton of money. They had a great deal of in house development studios, and literally blew all their money (Shenmue alone was a shit-ton) making games. Not all these new ideas sold. When you’re already in debt and go even more in debt…well, it’s not a good recipe.
  • 3rd party support never came. EA very famously and publicly did not support the Dreamcast. As a result Sega had to create their own sports games: Sega 2K games. 2K was sold in 2005. My hatred toward the major publishers still is very raw and fresh to this day. It’s a major reason why I will never purchase a game published by EA, Ubisoft, or Activision. I refuse to support mainstream garbage.
  • Piracy. Dreamcast got massively hacked. It used a custom GD-ROM disc technology and illegal game piracy was rampant after this media was cracked. Not to mention Bleemcast!, an emulator that let Dreamcast play Playstation games, just added to the bad reputation of the system being a pirate console. I still recall eBay listings that had hundreds of NES gamed on one Dreamcast disc.
  • Playstation 2. This was really the final nail. PS2 came out shortly after with better graphics, a DVD player (a big, big feature at the time), and a huge amount of exclusive games.

No one will ever again accomplish what Sega did in such a small time frame. All that’s important is that their effort is acknowledged and not forgotten. Whatever issues I have with Sega, I respect them.

Where are we today?

Sega still exists. they merely stopped all hardware operations, but continued as a software developer, but not nearly at the same level in 2002. Most of the Dreamcast era development houses were shuttered or combined. However, in 2004, the game changed. Sega was bought by Sammy. Sammy was mainly known for pachinko machines (think Plinko)in Japan. Sega was at one time a behemoth in the arcade market, so this move kind of made sense at the time… However, it has not gone well. Their new company is called Sega Sammy Holdings, but Sega has been allowed to continue to function as Sega… but Sammy is calling the shots. And when corporate entities call the shots and have no historical background in the videogame market, it doesn’t end well for the consumer. Couple that with the abysmal state of videogame operations in Japan as a whole, and it’s been a disaster.

Sega currently releases piles of shovelware and licenseware that no self-respecting hardcore gamer would ever play. They have shunned almost all of their Intellectual Property (which rivals that of Nintendo), but continue to release games nobody wants. I literally cannot think of a single title they have released in five years not related to Sonic (that has made it to the US), and has been enjoyable. They are having financial troubles and refuse to localize games such as Phantasy Star Online 2 or release any semblance of software that made them “Sega”. It is absolutely depressing. It is basically the same thing that is happening with Squaresoft. After their merger with Enix (and other companies) creativity, innovation, and…entertaining fun games are not being created.

It really is a sad state of affairs for the video game industry as a whole. But, the past is the past, and that’s what makes it great. You can never take away those memories. And for that I will forever be grateful. Thank you Sega. Thank you Dreamcast! Happy 15th birthday!

Filed under Videogames
Sep 9, 2014

Posts by Category

Help out the author!

Donate towards my web hosting bill!

Send me a message!