Handheld Addict

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Downloaded Resident Evil:The Mercenaries 3D

I broke down and downloaded this game from the 3DS eShop.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D eShop download is 4714 blocks.  Hehe, there is nowhere that seems to state that plainly and so obviously, any search for that info should direct here  ^_^

There's no demo for Resident Evil: Revelations as there was on the original cartridge, but it's available as a free download from the Nintendo eShop anyway. The options are New Game or Continue, so there appears to be only one save file, and it also appears to be deletable! Good news there.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Nintendo and the second screen

When the Wii U gamepad features were first laid out by Nintendo, I was very excited. Being able to use touch, having a second screen ala a tablet while gaming, and being able to transfer some entire games to the gamepad screen. Basically, this is a handheld-ification of a home console. I have to admit handhelds have become my favourite consoles, so this got me so hyped and intrigued.

Nowadays I almost always have my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet with me when I watch TV. I'm surfing the net during commercial breaks, or looking up stuff.... so I thought that the second screen philosophy Nintendo is going for would fit in with my lifestyle very comfortably.

Now that we've had some time to try out the features, I have mixed feelings about the gamepad.

It was such a bold and frankly, weird direction Nintendo chose to go with this generation of console. On paper it sounds great. But in real life gameplay..... I find it unwieldy.

Playing games like Lego City Undercover, which relies on the Gamepad for the map... I know it sounds lazy but it's kind of a drag to have to look down to see the map, then look back at the tv again. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially if you're involved in a fast chase or being pursued and have to look down at the map to plan your destination route while you're driving. And even in slower paced situations, having to regularly trade focus between the screen that is 12 feet away (TV) and the one that is 1.5 feet away (Gamepad) just kinda messes with your eye focus. It would almost be easier to just have the traditional onscreen map in the corner. Playing Infamous on my PS3, having to use the SELECT button to bring up the map screen, as clunky as that is, is still easier than using the gamepad for the map because all my focus stays on the TV screen.

When I first unboxed my Wii U, I was carefully going through all the peripherals and cables... and was rather shocked to find *ONLY* an HDMI cable for TV hookup. My thought was something like, "What the F--???"  At the time, I only had a 27" CRT TV, so I cannibalized my Wii AV cables to hook up the Wii U to my TV. It works ok, but I felt like the Wii U was never meant to be used on a CRT TV, just like PS3/Xbox 360 weren't... which is why I never bought those systems.

But this past Xmas, I got a nice 55" LG smart 3D TV. So nice... sigh..... *ahem*, yeah, and I was *so* psyched to hook up my Wii U to it. Of course it looks great and it's awesome to play games on the big screen. But that great TV screen also makes it harder to go back down to the smaller, crappier resolution/screen quality of the gamepad screen. I have tried playing Darksiders II (Wii U) on the gamepad, and it looks good. But unless I *have to* play it on the screen, as in the TV is being used by others, it's not preferable to play games fully on the gamepad. If only it was *MORE* handheld-ified and games could be fully loaded onto the gamepad for truly portable play anywhere... that would be awesome.

So I have some trepidation as to Nintendo's second screen direction for this generation. I am going to stick with it, and maybe it will grow on me more. But unless the console gets a lot more quality titles and unique uses for the gamepad that set it apart from the other systems, my doubts may continue to grow about this second screen philosophy.... and I still have to really devote a lot more time to Darksiders II, hopefully it will click more with me...


Lego City Undercover

A couple weeks ago, I gathered up a big stack of mostly Wii games, a few DS and a PSP game, about 12 games in total... to trade in at EB Games. I ended up getting about $40.00 in credit which I put towards the purchase of one game: Lego City Undercover.

Lego City Undercover is basically Grand Theft Lego. Both this game and another game I'm playing right now, Infamous (PS3) are clearly heavily influenced by  the Grand Theft Auto games, but Lego City Undercover wears its influence on its sleeve. Instead of playing a car thief, you play a cop. But you do many of the same things as in GTA games: jack cars from their drivers at will, only you do it on "Police business!".... and many missions also ape the GTA ones, like having to evade police (even though you are one? Hanh?)

First off, the game gets off to a bad start: there's a loading screen just to get to the intro screen where you pick your profile (or create a new one) THEN after you pick your profile IT LOADS AGAIN.... so there are 2 loading screens in a row, each about 20-40 seconds. WHY did there need to be a loading screen just to get to the TITLE?? That was a colossal mistake by developer TT Games... they should have just made the title screen a static one if it saved having to do a  loading time. Most complaints about the game are the long, numerous loading screens. But most GTA open-world style games have long load times because the maps are so large. Still, they should be planned out so as to minimize them as much as possible.

The home base for the player in this game is the Police Station, this is where you buy/unlock characters and vehicles. It is a 3 floor building each floor accessible by elevator, and they ALL have loading screens when you go from one to the other. You HAVE to endure at least one loading screen because you always enter the building on the middle floor and all the unlock areas are in the basement. And of course there are loading screens every time you enter and exit the Police Station.

That said, the game is a lot of fun. The city map seems to be about 3 large sections, and there are so many cars you can drive. And boats, and helicopters... it's so fun to just travel around. I haven't really played a Lego game since Lego Star Wars & Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Saga (original Xbox) and Lego City Undercover is basically the same overall formula but showing refinements learned from each Lego game they've released. It skews on the easy side, make no mistake-- this game is (rightfully) aimed at kids but I am just having fun exploring such an open place and digging the corny yet endearing humour.

There are still some rough edges to the game, glitchy areas... like when they want you to go to a mission point, they give you a trail of green glowing Lego studs to follow, on one mission I was following it ad it took me right off a incomplete bridge. I fell from a high cliff into water, which didn't kill me, but I couldn't get back up because the cliffs around me were so high. The game eventually gave me an option to hold a button to return to land-- but when I do, it takes me to the point where my car is already in mid-air jumping off the bridge. I tried to jump out, anything to try to stay on land but it always just sends me back into the water. I had to just quit and resart the mission. And another mission I was on horseback following the studs to a castle, and inexplicably, instead of having the stud trail go *over* the bridge to the castle, it seemed to want me to somehow jump across  the gap *beside* it-- which I couldn't. I think as I get through the last third of the story mode, things get less polished like they didn't have the time to playtest everything.

The humour in Lego City Undercover is genteel and mostly plays to a younger audience, but there is an odd off-note in the Museum mission where there's an almost racist depiction of native indians.... it's a bit of a sour note, especially for a kid's game.

 I have mixed feelings about the Wii U gamepad integration. There are some times when I really enjoy it, like when using it to track footprints to find a hidden treasure. But using it to display the city map, it takes my eyes away from the screen where my attention wants to be.... and the touch interface is unwieldy, maybe because of the (crappy) resistive touch screen. If it was a capacitive touch screen I would likely enjoy it more. But I will talk about Nintendo's second screen philosophy in another post...

Lego City Undercover is the first and only Wii U game that I'm really sinking my teeth into, making me think the Wii U might have been a worthwhile purchase. Unfortunately, I see little else on the horizon for the system, and considering I've had the console for about 6 (long) months without any real games to hook me on it... I honestly don't know if I should have bought the Wii U. If I knew it wouldn't sell out like the Wii frenzy of 2006-2007, I wouldn't have bought it at launch. At this point I'm waiting for Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition to price drop in Canada. Other than that game, not much else I can think of to pick up for Wii U.

Annoyingly, the 3DS also is looking tragically barren of games over the long run. But I am getting  psyched for Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins, the prequel to the Wii U game. It's coming out April 21, 2013.... very soon. Even though the early reviews are a bit tepid, I am aware of the limitations of the handheld and I still think I will buy it day 1.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

dreamGEAR Phenom PS3 controller

Ever since I hurt my hands using the PS3 Dualshock 3 controller for extended periods, I've been on a (desperate) quest for a DECENT third party PS3 controller that is COMFORTABLE. When I saw the dreamGEAR Phenom PS3 controller on sale at the Futureshop website, I took a bite. There's not that much choice for third party PS3 controllers out there.

The package includes the controller, 2.4GHz USB dongle (the controller is not bluetooth), and a USB charging cable that is slightly longer than the one included with the PS3 console.The controller can be used while connected to the cable during charging.

The dongle sticks out of the PS3 USB port, and obviously while using it, it occupies one of the only 2 available ports. There is a red light on the end of the dongle that flashes if there's no controller connection or stays solid red when connected. Having a dongle jutting out of the front of PS3 is a little bit ugly, but it may not be a huge deal. What is more of a big deal is that because it's not bluetooth, the controller can't turn on the PS3 like the Dualshock 3 can. But it can turn off the PS3. And when the dongle is plugged in, the controller ALWAYS takes controller 1 slot, even if it's not used. Sometimes a bit annoying.

The dreamGEAR (yes that's how they spell their company name) Phenom PS3 controller uses Immersion technology (aren't they the company that sued Sony?) for rumble, but the controller is missing "six-axis" motion sensors. I don't know of many PS3 games that use six-axis, but it's definitely worth noting.

The controller is bigger than the Dualshock 3, but it feels more comfortable in the hands. I don't have large hands, but it fits very well even in my small little mitts. However, it could be a bit big for little kids, as I've had that problem with my Xbox controllers. Speaking of Xbox controllers, yeah, it looks a lot like one, doesn't it? But make no mistake, this is no clone. It's not as ergonomic as my Xbox controller S.

 But it does feel good to hold. The controller (and oddly enough, dongle) is coated with an almost rubbery surface, it feels really good; grippy without being too sticky. The analogue sticks are stiffer and more clicky when you press them in, again, boils down to personal preference but I find the Dualshock 3 analogue clicks (L3+R3) a bit too easily.

 The shoulder buttons have a really good placement, the L2 +R2 stick out more and are more responsive than the Dualshock's triggers.

I've read accounts of people complaining about dead zones in the analogue sticks. I personally like the sensitivity of them myself. I find the Dualshock 3 analogues to be jittery sensitive. So that might boil down to personal preference. The D-pad is ok. I don't think it's quite as good as the Dualshock 3? But very close, maybe.

Even though it might look like it, the buttons don't light up or anything. Just the controller number at the bottom.

But there are some major flaws in this controller. The buttons are all clicky and not as smooth as the Dualshock 3, but the face buttons are the worst-- the X and O buttons on my controller stick; sometimes they stay down, pressed in after pressing them. Very bad. I don't know if it's just my controller or a general build quality issue. Futureshop only sells this controller online, so it's not as easy to get an exchange.

Unfortunately, I will be returning it to the store. The stuck face buttons are too much of an impediment, I've been trying to play it some more but the stuck buttons issue is not going to go away.

A real shame as it feels much better than the Dualshock 3, especially when using four fingers for the shoulder buttons.

My quest for a better PS3 controller goes on.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guacamelee! tastes like crap to me

Ugh... I am really trying to like Guacamelee!... after all the glowing reviews and the cross-play feature-- not to mention cross-buy, where you buy the PS3 version and get the Vita version also-- I downloaded it from the Playstation Store-- there is no free demo, but when you buy it, it says free demo and full game unlock as part of the package. Basically, they were going to release a free demo but decided not to. Very shady, Sony or developer Drinkbox Studios--whoever decided that... way to be slimy right off the bat.

Had I been able to play a free demo, maybe I would have realized how cruddy the gameplay actually is. The game looks really good, and is smoothly animated. but the actual GAMEPLAY sucks. Bad.

This is from a tutorial early in the game. If the combo button pressing above looks like fun to you, then this may be the game for you. But trying to press this combo in 2 seconds is anything but fun for me.

The analogue stick and button pressing is just ridiculous. It is laggy and not consistent at all. This isn't fun, Drinkbox Studios, it's just PEDANTIC. Imagine having to do run-into-the-ground-by-every-game-now God of War style quick-time moves-- ALL THE TIME. That's about my personal vision of video game hell.

Truly such a shame. The animation style is really nice, and there is smoothness in the movement, but it all seems wasted. I will keep playing, hoping it will get better, but so far Guacamelee! is a waste of 15 bucks.