Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sega's Virtual-On Set for Re-release on XBLA

The popular Sega arcade mech fighter series is finally set to release on current-gen consoles in the form of an Xbox Live Arcade re-lease of the arcade/Dreamcast hit, Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram. The last game in the series, Virtual-On Marz, was released on the PS2 in 2003 with very poor reviews. However, Oratorio Tangram is considered one of the best in the series and probably the reason it was chosen for release over its predecessor.

I have not had a chance to play Oratorio Tangram, but the original Virtual-On on the Sega Saturn was a pure blast to play. I am not generally a fan of mech games, but the arcade feel and overall gameplay was really fun. I have played other series like Armored Core, but it felt more technical and sim-like. In Virtual-On, you take control of a mech called a Virtuaroid, with different models featuring different special attacks, abilities, modes, weapons, and other differences. Gameplay mechanics are similar to other mech fighting games, with the ability to dash, crouch, side-step, and other techniques available.

Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram will release on Xbox 360 "exclusively" this Spring, with the high-def re-release bringing online multiplayer for one-on-one matches, a single player mode, and a score attack mode with 14 stages.

Source: Kotaku


Monday, March 16, 2009

Rock Band Statistics Breakdown

Harmonix has successfully managed to transform Rock Band into a great music platform, with just about 600 songs already available across all games, track packs, and downloadable content. While Activision is choosing to spam the Guitar Hero name by saturating the market with incremental releases, Harmonix has been diligent in weekly song releases and making disc-based track packs available as an alternative.

Pwn or Die has a great article featuring graphs that break down where songs come from, dominant genres, difficulty levels, and much more. It's interesting to analyze the data and look for trends or patterns in how Harmonix chooses the type of songs to release. I certainly don't mind the difficulty imbalance, but I hope they start to even out genre and decade song distribution in the future.

Whatever they're doing, I hope they keep doing it because it's working. Only Harmonix could make Snoop Dogg, the Dixie Chicks, and the Beatles make sense all under one roof.

Source: Pwn or Die


Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Dragon Ball Kai Brings Remastered 'Director's Cut' of DBZ

Since Dragon Ball Z first became popular in the US around the late '90s, the series has been constantly teased for its numerous fights, drawn-out battle scenes, and endless filler episodes that did very little to contribute to the story. Toei Animation is changing all of this with an original cut edition called Dragon Ball Kai that more closely follows Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama's original manga story. Due to both the DBZ manga and anime being serialized simultaneously in monthly versus weekly installments, the anime added additional story arcs and stretched out battles to follow the same schedule. Dragon Ball Kai will instead more closely follow the manga and feature a more succinct story pace.

Dragon Ball Kai will also feature a new HD remasterng from the original film source as well as renewed soundtracks, sound effects, and new dialogue recorded by the majority of the original Japanese voice actors. While FUNimation released a remastered version of DBZ on DVD, this will be the most definitive version of the series yet. There was a lot of filler that really bogged the series down, so this new edition should please plenty.

Both critics and fans alike should find a lot to like in DBK when it starts airing in Japan starting April 5. No word yet about US licensing for DVD distribution or TV airings.

Source: Anime News Network


Friday, March 13, 2009

Activision Doesn't Need A Hero

Activision simply doesn't understand. Rather than follow in the footsteps of Harmonix's great work, they instead choose to saturate the market with new games that feature little improvement or changes besides a new track list. Outside of the previously announced Guitar Hero Metallica set for release this month, Activision has already announced Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits for a June 2009 release. GH: GH is a collection of 48 tracks from their previous four titles retooled for band play. Another sequel to their Guitar Hero DS series is set to also release in June called Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits. This is also nothing more than another game with a new setlist of 25 songs.

Besides officially releasing three GH titles this year, Eurogamer reports Activision's plans for a handful of more new "Hero" titles set to release this year. Hard Rock Van Halen (August), Guitar Hero 5 (possibly a working title - September), DJ Hero (October), Band Hero (November), as well as another title in their GH DS series is rumored to be in production. DJ Hero has been unofficially confirmed, but the others are still up in the air. There are also reports of Activision registering Sing Hero as a trademark.

I just hope more people continue to realize the exploitative tactics and inferior products Activision is putting out versus Harmonix's Rock Band platform. With The Beatles: Rock Band set to come out in September, I'm more excited about that than any of the Guitar Hero games. I think their cash cow is going to run dry before they're done milking it.

Source: Eurogamer


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum Captures the Essence of the Mythos

There have been a lot of terrible Batman games over the years. Last year's LEGO Batman was actually one of the few ray of lights for the series, but Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive seek to change that with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Unrelated to the graphic novel of the same name, the game features some well-known figures in the Batman universe, including long-time comic book writer Paul Dini handling the story. Voice actors Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hamill (Joker), and Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn) will be providing voice over for the game, whom have become the definitive voices for the characters from the '90s cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series. Arkham Asylum takes place in the insane asylum of the same name, in which Batman has to regain control of the facility after Joker escapes and wreaks havoc by releasing all of the prisoners.

Stylistically, the designs aren't based off of any specific Batman time period and the game will utilize Unreal Engine 3. The gameplay is one of the most exciting things about the game. Rocksteady sought out to make this game truly stand on its own by providing fun gameplay regardless of the property it's based upon. You will utilize all of Batman's skills such as detective work for puzzles, stealth, melee combat with an RPG-like progression system, and using various gadgets to facilitate any of your needs. I'm definitely excited about this game, as no other Batman title has managed to truly capture the feel and spirit of Batman or Gotham City. Having figures like Paul Dini and Kevin Conroy will insure the presentation's quality while hopefully Rocksteady can deliver in the gameplay department.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is set to release on June 9, 2009 on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Check out MTV's exclusive new trailer after the break.


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