Archive for the ‘Impressions’ Category

Game Spotlight: Killer Instinct (2013)

November 25th, 2013 1 comment

Debuting as an Xbox One launch title, Killer Instinct was developed by Double Helix Games in Irvine, California and released just a few days ago. It’s free to download with one rotating character unlocked (currently Jago). A total of eight characters comprise the Season 1 roster.

Killer Instinct logoAdmittedly, the game is a little light on content at the moment, but Spinal and Fulgore should be arriving shortly, along with a new Story Mode rumored to expand on the outrageous backstory of the Killer Instinct universe. Hopefully enough people will support the game to justify the addition of many more characters and features.

It’s worth noting that Double Helix reached out to a number of fighting game players (including me) to explore Killer Instinct and provide extensive feedback during development. Obviously this doesn’t guarantee the gameplay is flawless, but it’s nice to know they genuinely care about making the fighting game community happy. Let’s be honest, the FGC isn’t exactly known for being easy to please!

I know there’s considerable hesitation regarding the Xbox One in general. It’s certainly an expensive console, so i can’t blame anyone for not wanting to buy it for Killer Instinct alone. But if you’re one of the million people who did pick one up, i hope you’ll give KI a chance.

In my opinion, whenever a studio tries to make a new AAA fighting game, it’s a good thing. How often do American studios even attempt to make fighting games anymore? Believe me, it’s hard to do. I have no idea if Killer Instinct will make a good tournament game, but it obviously has the potential – and it’ll be fun to find out. If enough players support it for long enough, it might turn into something really special!

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If You Don’t Like SFxT, Play SF4

May 9th, 2012 15 comments

Capcom vs SNK 2 was released in August of 2001. Street Fighter IV hit consoles in February of 2009. Between 2001 and 2009, Capcom gave us Hyper Street Fighter 2, SVC Chaos, Capcom Fighting Evolution, Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, and various handheld ports such as Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max and Darkstalkers Chronicle.

None of these titles made a significant mark on the competitive scene. None of them really mattered. Yet somehow the fighting game community survived for almost a decade without a new release worth supporting in tournament play.

We steadfastly, stubbornly stuck by MvC2, SF3:3S, CvS2, and SSF2T – somehow managing to help grow Evo attendance numbers each and every year. That’s because one of the most remarkable things about the fighting game community is that when a new version of Street Fighter is bad, we know to play the old one instead. Pretty cool, right?

In retrospect, this approach was nothing short of miraculous. SFA2 and SFA3 got us through the disappointment of the SF3 series. MvC2 kept the community strong through the debacle that was CvS1, until CvS2 repaired most of the damage done by CvS1. Then SF3:3S started becoming good and carrying its own weight. And Super Turbo was there all along.

Then we were given nothing for eight years. It would’ve been so easy to become disillusioned and quit, but enough of us stuck together to define our hobby on our own terms. Let’s not lose that culture of self-reliance now. We don’t have to keep playing Street Fighter X Tekken or any new game if it doesn’t meet our standards.

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Game Spotlight: Skullgirls

April 11th, 2012 8 comments

What is Skullgirls? If you haven’t heard, Skullgirls is a brand new 2D fighting game developed by Reverge Labs – a small but talented team in Marina Del Rey, California. The full game is available for download on both PSN and XBLA today.
Skullgirls logo
Skullgirls is also Mike Z’s love letter to Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. I’ll skip over the game’s charming aesthetics and storyline because they’ve been covered plenty. This is more about the remarkably elegant system mechanics you’ll discover as you learn to play.

Skullgirls is a truly hardcore fighting game which pulls no punches when it comes to offering challenging gameplay. Yet beneath the surface, it’s extremely clever about staying accessible and streamlining basics to minimize drudgery.

As you delve into exploring Skullgirls, you’ll notice that the smallest details feel like someone put genuine thought and effort into improving conventional designs. Air dashing, throw teching, input buffering, infinite avoidance, assist selection, and even 360 commands have been brilliantly implemented – with subtle innovations that you’ll be delighted to uncover.

In this day and age of developers dumbing down the genre to conceal that steep learning curve from new players, Reverge Labs has taken a huge risk by making a title for fighting game veterans – and i think the community should support them for it.

If you really want to play the game well, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty and learn all those scary things that make fighting games rewarding. The interactive tutorial will teach you the essentials as quickly as possible, but that won’t keep better players from putting you in frightening situations that only skill and experience can overcome. There’s no escaping that simple fact, but isn’t that what the genre is all about?

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FGC Soap Opera, Episode 391

March 4th, 2012 10 comments

Well this was a profoundly disappointing week, but i think it’s time to move on. People known for being rude were rude, reality show nonsense happened on a reality show, boys-not-men on the internet have no manners, and modern news media gets paid to stir up controversy.

Obviously the fighting game community has some growing up to do. We ought to accept the challenge because it’s the right thing to do, not because it matters what sponsors or gaming journalists think of us. It’s fun to hear top players talking trash, but we can all tell when lines are being crossed. If you see it happening in front of you, do something about it.

Being an instigator is easy, but you get nothing out of it. Anyone can be a stream monster. Acting as the voice of reason is far more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding.

Will the entertainment district of the internet ever become politically correct? Probably not. Online forums and anonymous chatrooms are always going to stay a little sketchy, so there’s no need to champion the fighting game community’s right to be grimy.

Let’s be honest – the FGC tournament scene will probably never turn squeaky clean, so it’s important to pick your battles. Just don’t forget or ignore where the real lines are drawn and don’t be afraid to speak up if someone goes too far. That’s all anyone’s asking of us.

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Retrospective Review: Torchlight

December 5th, 2011 4 comments

As much as i tried to resist its charismatic visual charm and overt Diablo nostalgia, Torchlight finally baited me into downloading the XBLA demo. Before i knew it, i’d purchased both the full XBLA version and the discounted PC version, and sunk quite a few hours into the game.

combovid-screenshot-torchlight-destroyer-02Now that i’ve seen almost everything there is to see in Torchlight, i have to say that i’m extremely disappointed with how unnecessarily long it took to reach this point. Don’t get me wrong, the game is expertly crafted in many ways, but my lasting impression of the experience is frustration.

As much as i want to show off screenshots of Torchlight’s compelling atmosphere, i can’t bring myself to recommend the game to anyone – for the simple reason that it quickly turns into addictive torture by design.

Believe it or not, the whole reason i played the demo was because the XBLA description promised that i could transform my pet into various creatures, including elementals. I’ve had a soft spot for elementals since the original Warcraft.

What that marketing blurb didn’t explain is that you have to “play” their braindead fishing “mini-game” for 5-10 hours straight in order to catch one extremely rare fish to permanently transform a single character’s pet into a (random!) elemental. I mean, why??

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