Saturday, August 30, 2014

PAX Prime - Day 2

 Day 2, just as awesome, maybe more awesome than the first day. More panels, more celeb meet ups, lets just break it down.

 First stop was the TwitchPlaysPokemon panel. Lets just say there's more than a load of data that's been archived from just the first run through Pokemon Red. Data such as the most popular command used, the user who posted the most commands, how long people watched the stream on average, number of unique viewers, and so much more. Next up was a trip to watch a couple matches from the LCS semifinals. Lastly was an improv panel with a couple members from LoadingReadyRun and Extra Credits. It was generally a geek filled version of Whose Line Is It Anyway. It was an absolute riot and was very glad I caught it. Definitely looking forward to Late Night Dub Fight tomorrow night. Also got a chance to meet and chat a bit with Graham Stark and beej after the improv panel before the night was over.

 That's basically day in a nutshell aside that I bought myself a 10 year anniversary of PAX T-shirt and also the Zelda Hyrule Historia book which will take me awhile to get through. It's a book that I've been looking to get since it was released that basically gives the official rundown on the Zelda series and the proper chronological order of the games. A very informational book that I'm sure to enjoy!

 Day 1 has concluded and what a way to start. So many amazing panels happening all at one and I missed nearly half of what I wanted to see. What I did manage to see were the Hironobu Sakaguchi panel, The AVGN movie screening, and Bioware's demo of the single player of Dragon Age Inquisition and preview of Dragon Age Keep. 

 The AVGN movie was pretty much just as I expected. Though it felt a bit long, the story progression also felt as though it was picking up speed the further into the story it was getting. I was almost losing track of what was going on at times with all the action that was going on at once. Whether or not the progression on its own was a parody in itself, the movie left me laughing and cheering the whole way through. 

The Hironobu Sakaguchi panel was probably better than I had expected it to be. It was mainly a one on one interview discussing his thoughts and feelings about his various works along with his opinions on today's market of RPG's both Japanese and Western. He also revealed a photo of the team that developed Blue Dragon for the PS2. Amongst the team were Hironobu Sakaguchi and Akira Toriyama standing next to each other in the front of the group, which is one of the more rare pictures of the man behind the amazing Dragonball Z. He also released info on his latest game Terra Battle, which is a turn based grid-battle system for mobile. The game has a download system where every time the game reaches a certain amount if downloads, new content is created for the game.

 That's pretty much all there was for panels. I did manage to catch a few more famous faces including Kris Straub and Mikey Neumann and while ordering breakfast, happen to run into romscout of SDA / speed running fame. 

Hopefully the next update isn't as delayed, but that just goes to show how much activity there is and the amount of fun you can have!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pre-PAX Hype!

 It is currently 5am and I've been up for nearly an hour now due to my internal clock still thinking it's already 8am on the east coast. It also doesn't help that I went to bed at roughly midnight-1am, so I've only had maybe 3 hours of sleep after being up almost 24 hours due to having to get up early to catch the plane to come here.

 All that aside I figured I'd do a quick post to say I'm at my first PAX Prime. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't all that excited after being at PAX East the past 3 years. However, this being my first Prime, I am definitely excited to see it. As I did with East I'll update on all that I saw and the panels I went to and the people I saw.

 Speaking of which, while I was hanging around just outside the convention entrance I happen to already spot some famous faces of the Internet. So congrats to Corey and Ian Horner of LoadingReadyRun, James Portnow, Lucahjin, and NintendoCapriSun, you are my first sightings of this years PAX Prime! And if that wasn't enough, one of my friends ran into Justin Wong randomly at the airport while waiting to meetup with me. Unfortunately this was one celebrity meetup I wish I was there for but it was not to be. :( Hopefully I'll run into him myself during PAX, but with thousands of other people walking around its unlikely but you never know. I am certainly looking forward to meeting some new faces including Dodger and Sam, James Rolfe (AVGN), and Zoe Quinn. Unfortunately there probably won't be any Something Awful goons I'll run into, but there will be some SDA speed runners that I hope to catch a sight of, most notably Mike Uyama and romscout. They're doing a panel this year on Monday, but unfortunately I am heading back home on that day. It certainly breaks my heart not attending and supporting the one community that I am most proud of being a part of, but I do hope to run into them beforehand. 

 Well that's going to so it for my fist post from Seattle, and I'll keep you guys up to date tomorrow!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Impression: Audition Portable

 In the summer of 2005, Korea launched a rhythm MMO game called Audition Online Dance Battle. The game plays very similar to the Playstation 1 game Bust-A-Groove. The game became a huge success, so much so they actually created an offline version of the game for the PSP called "Audition Portable". I was (very) lucky enough to get my hands on this little game, and I will be giving you an Audition veteran's first impression on this Korean exclusive.

 First off, the game is very English friendly. There is very little Korean you need to worry about other than item names, song titles, and interface, but those are pretty minor to the overall gameplay. The game starts out with a series of options such as free, standard, and network modes, a jukebox for casually listening to the music, and a collection option where you can customize your character's look, and check out various unlocks you have obtained. When you first start the game, you only have 2 stages, 20 songs, and a couple of outfits to choose from. In order to unlock more you'll need to play through the game's Standard Mode to get more unlocks.

 The way Standard Mode works is you work through 5 stages, each with a set of 3 songs to choose from of increasing difficulty. Each stage pits you against 1-4 AI opponents to face in a Battle Party score battle-type of situation. If you score more points than the AI scores you win the round and move on to the next stage. After the 5th stage is a sort of bonus "boss" stage, where you play a very fast 150+ bpm song against a tough AI opponent. While it's not real necessary to beat this final stage since you will have already unlocked something during the first 5 stages, beating this final stage unlocks even more to the collection.

 Basic gameplay includes 2 difficulties and 2 modes of play. Easy difficulty allows for 2 passes of the bead to enter in the button commands before hitting the final beat to register a score. Normal difficulty only allows for the first pass (much like the online game) only giving you a short amount of time to hit the button commands. There is also a 4-button, and 8-button style of play. 4-button only requires you to press the arrow commands (you can use both d-pad and face buttons). 8-buttons requires both arrow and face button combinations for an added challenge that is actually more difficult than the 8-key variant in the online version of the game.

 There are very slight differences between the PC online game and this portable version. The most obvious is the layout is very different with the level, scrolling bead, and Chance icon are all located below the button commands rather than above. There is also an HP meter at the top corner of the screen which plays a roll similar to other rhythm games. The more you miss the beat, the lower your HP drains until it is empty and you lose. The arrow pattern is very different from the PC counterpart. In the online game you start with levels 1-5 in 4-beat repetitions without stop. From level 6-9, you go through 4 sets of commands each level with short breaks in between. Afterwards you loop from levels 6-9 until the song ends. In the PSP version, you rest after every level and there is only one command for each level. Also, the loop goes from levels 3-9. Lastly, if you happen to dare yourself to switch on Chance mode, the game shuffles between 1-3 chance arrows per command. Finish moves are still with only 1 chance arrow as is custom to the game.

 Overall, the game is a very nice alternative for when you're not near a computer and need to get your Audition fix, or get some arrow-reading practice. The game comes with a nice collection of over 60 songs along with some exclusives not found in the online game from artists like Sweet Box, XR, The Gold, and Wa Wa. If you are lucky enough to find yourself a copy of this rare game and you love the online game, I highly suggest you grab it while you can. It is a nice alternative to the online game and also gives you a taste of what the gameplay interface looked like before all the graphical updates you see today!

 A couple weeks ago I started my grand adventure into the Ys series with Ys Chronicles on Steam. The first game was pretty straightforward and wasn't too hard of a game, even on nightmare difficulty...that is until I hit the final boss in the game. I probably spent a good 5 or so hours trying to beat this one boss, and not once, but TWICE was I cheated with 1 last hit before I died. It's the worst kind of situation you could ever think to deal with when it comes to an epic conclusion to an epic boss battle with tense music playing in the background. Ys II thankfully was not as difficult to finish, but did take awhile longer to finish due to the extended leveling system compared to the first game.

 Yesterday I started my adventures through the Organ Trail and it's a pretty fun game, pretty much everything I had imagined it to be as being a spiritual (indie) successor to the old 80's classic Oregon Trail. I'm currently working towards getting 100% achievements, but with the little bug in the Steam counters with this game, it's a little bit of a hassle trying to get achievements as investigating 30 points of interest, or completing the game 5 times. Half the time they count, while other times they do not, leaving me to work harder than what is required of me. :/ But, it's an enjoyable game so I'm sure I'll manage the setback, even if it means beating the game 10, or even 20 times to get just one achievement that asks for just 5.

Also a couple of games that I have played previously (BIT.TRIP beat/core, Hack, Slash, Loot, and To The Moon) that did not have trading cards finally got them, so I went back for a couple hours and replayed a bit of those games to collect free cards from them. What's interesting about this is that one particular game, namely Hack, Slash, Loot, I gave up on after only an hour of playing simply because I wasn't understanding the game mechanics, and was not grasping the thought that you unlock (better) characters as you continue to die. Going back to that game to get the cards I finally grasped that mechanic, and I'm a little on the fence about giving the game another serious shot someday. Were it not for the card collecting I don't think I would've given this game a second chance after my first impression.