Tag Archives: Konami

Silent Hill Review

Silent Hill ReviewSilent Hill (Available exclusively on PlayStation)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Release Date: January 31st, 1999
PlayStation Network Release Date: September 10th, 2009

Parent Talk: Silent Hill was originally rated M for mature because of animated blood and gore, and animated violence. That remains true today. While the graphics haven’t aged all too well, the game still features some rather disturbing imagery, lots of blood, and an overall creepy environment that most adults find tough to play at night, while they’re all alone. This is certainly not a videogame for minors.

Plays Like: The tank controls made famous from Resident Evil are featured here, although the game separates itself from that legendary series by not resorting to cheap scares and actually gets inside your head and messes with your emotions. It was one of the very first games that challenged Resident Evil because it was so different, and gamers couldn’t stop thinking about the creepy setting long after they had completed the game.

Review Basis: I finished the game countless times upon its original release, and quickly blasted through it for this very review.

Silent Hill was one of the very best games released on the original PlayStation, and I thought it would be fitting to discuss it in further detail considering a brand new reimagining of the franchise is currently underway at Konami with both Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro at the helm. Silent Hill is remarkable for getting inside your head and staying there. It features an incredible soundtrack, solid gameplay, and brain-twisting puzzles. If you’ve never experienced it before, there’s no better time to do so than right now. Take my advice, lock yourself in a room somewhere, close out all the lights, and crank up the volume. You want to be creeped out while playing, because it actually makes you feel like the protagonist, Harry, who has just lost his daughter in the bizarre fog-filled town of Silent Hill.

One note to make is that the video review is entirely made up of the very earliest portions of the game. I did this on purpose so as not to spoil any of the settings and environments for those who have never played the game before. Trust me, you’re going to want to experience the whole game for yourself.

Before continuing, did you know that Silent Hill was heavily censored for its release outside Japan? It’s true, even the North American version had many different elements changed so it would pass through the ratings board. Many of the enemies look like children with knives, and that just wouldn’t fly with the censor boards. In Europe the enemy designs were even more radically altered than the North American version. Ok that’s enough about censorship, let’s jump right into the game.

SH1The Great:

Atmosphere, it’s all about the atmosphere. Silent Hill operates on an entirely different playing field than Resident Evil because it doesn’t want to simply scare you with cheap tricks, it wants to mess with your mind. This is a physiological thriller more so than an action game. It succeeds, tremendously well. From the eerie sound effects, to the radio which omits static noise the closer you get to an enemy, the game is always reminding you that you’re not safe. From traveling through a fogy town, to the darkest depths of your imagination, Silent Hill, challenges you in ways very few other PS1 games did, and it’s for that reason why so much of the game has held up superbly.

The story is also the game’s biggest strength. It starts off with Harry and his daughter Cheryl making their way to the small town of Silent Hill to spend some time together on a little vacation. While driving a woman suddenly passes in front of them and Harry swerves out of the way, causing the car to flip and crash. When Harry comes to, he sees Cheryl in front of the jeep, through the thick fog that has enveloped the town. As he makes his way towards her she starts to walk off in the opposite direction. What’s going on, and why would she run away from her father? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Silent Hill.

SH3The Good:

+ The music and sound effects are truly what make this game. Akira Yamaoka did a wonderful job, and to think that he wasn’t the original composer, he was brought on after the original departed the project. With incredible industrial tunes, creepy melodies, and countless memorable sounds, Silent Hill’s soundtrackis considered a modern day classic.

+ While dated by today’s standards, the graphics do their job well. The town is completely covered in fog, but that’s ok as it allows the details in the buildings and environments to shine through. The grain effect also works extremely well in making the players feel uneasy. If you’ve got a weak stomach you might want to skip out on Silent Hill as it’s extremely gory, and there are plenty of disturbing images.

+ One of the more interesting aspects of Silent Hill are the multiple endings. I won’t give any away, but they give you an incentive to keep coming back and trying to do things slightly different each time you play.

+ Dynamic camera angles work extremely well. Unlike Resident Evil, the camera swoops and twists and turns as you make your way through alleys, corridors, and rooms. It can even be a little disorientating at times, which as the whole point to begin with.

+ The FMV cutscenes were simply gorgeous for their time, and while they do look somewhat pixelated today, they’re still impressive.

SH2The So-So:

+/- You either get used to the tank controls, or you hate them for the duration of the game, simple as that. For people who started playing 3D games with the N64 and PS1, most don’t have too many problems adjusting to the controls, but that doesn’t mean they’re ideal. Combat, and exploration aren’t anywhere near as fluid as they are in today’s games, but for someone like me, I find that’s what heightens the game’s stress level and causes you to get sweaty palms within a few minutes of playing.

+/- The combat system feels much like the controls, mostly dated. Sure it works, you can knock back enemies with a pipe, or shoot them with your gun, but if the camera is moving around it can be difficult to pin-point exactly where you need to shoot.

The Bad:

– The voice acting shows no sign of emotion. The game would have been better suited for text-only dialogue.

SH4The Lowdown:

While Silent Hill certainly shows its age, it remains a chilling experience. The thought of losing one’s daughter in a creepy town is enough to put you on edge, but having child-like creature attack you, limited lighting, and a very eerie setting help push you over the edge, and that’s what makes Silent Hill so special. Hopefully the developers of the reboot remember that, cheap scares don’t stay with you months or years after you finish a game. It has to take control of you, and really freak you out, and based solely on the interactive P.T. teaser, Kojima-san and del Toro appear to be on the right track. If you’re curious to see where this legacy of evil started, I encourage you to check out Silent Hill.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Castlevania Chronicles Review

CCCastlevania Chronicles (Available exclusively on PlayStation)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: October 8th, 2001
PlayStation Network Release Date: December 18th, 2004

Parent Talk: Skeletons, bats, minor blood, and gothic imagery are what made the ESRB give Castlevania Chronicles a T for teen rating. It doesn’t feature over the top gore and blood, but the sprites are large and detailed. As such very young children might be freighted, although when I was a youngster I played games like this all the time and I turned out perfectly fine.  

Plays Like: Being released after Castlevania: Symphony of the Night everyone thought this would follow in its footsteps as being another Metroidvania game, but it’s actually a reworking of the Sharp X68000 Castlevania game from 1993. Needless to say, it’s all action, and is actually a reimagining of the original Castlevania game on the NES.

Review Basis: I finished both the original and arranged versions of the game.

If you were a fan of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the original PlayStation, chances are you were hoping for a sequel. When Konami announced they were going to release a brand new Castlevania game on the PlayStation millions of fans were hoping for a follow-up to SotN. What we got wasn’t actually a new game at all, but rather a reworked or enhanced version of a very old Castlevania game for the Sharp X68000, which had never been released outside Japan. So while technically a new release for the world market, it wasn’t what fans were expecting and therefore many fans couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed as a result. The question is, is it actually disappointing?

CC1The Great:

Two games for the price of one. Ok that might be a bit of a stretch, but included in Chronicles are both the original unaltered X68000 version, and a new arranged mode which changes Simon’s sprite and a few other graphical tweaks, reworks the game’s difficulty, and adds an entirely new soundtrack. Outside that, you’re essentially getting a reworked version of the original NES Castlevania game. Interestingly Konami released this version to the X68000 during the same year they released Rondo of Blood on the PC Engine. Instead of incorporating the new changes being made to the series like branching paths, the multi-directional whip from Super Castlevania IV and other improvements, Konami decided to only update the audio visual presentation from the original game. That means Simon can’t jump on and off stairs, still gets pushed back when he is hit, and only has very limited mobility overall.

CC2The Good:

+ Same tight controls from the NES version. Simon can easily jump around and whip enemies to his heart’s content. Secondary weapons are available like the holy water, cross, axe, and knife.

+ Having the option to play through the original game completely untouched is a nice touch, especially since the original soundtrack is fantastic. The reworked tunes are good, but I much prefer the originals.

CC3The So-So:

+/- Graphics are nice and detailed, but certainly they aren’t pushing the PlayStation’s capabilities whatsoever. There’s a new FMV intro that’s a nice touch, but a lot more work could have been put into this in order for it to truly feel like a remastered version of the original.

The Bad:

– It feels dated. Simon doesn’t have the same move set as Richter from Rondo of Blood, nor as he did in Super Castlevania IV.

CC4The Lowdown:

Given the low entry price this is a great game for fans of Castlevania to jump into, but there are so many other, and better games in the series that are equally easy to find and purchase. I’d say if you only own PlayStation hardware than by all means pick this one up, but otherwise I’d highly recommend you go for the original classics, Rondo, and the more modern portable releases.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Review

MGRRMetal Gear Rising Revengeance (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: February 19th, 2013

I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, especially Snake Eater. That ranks up as one of my favorite videogames of all time. So naturally, I get excited whenever they announce a new Metal Gear.  I was actually there live at the Microsoft conference in E3 2009 when they announced Rising for the very first time. At the time, it looked like a fun action game that didn’t take itself too seriously. After quite a few years of development, even being canceled once, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance was finally released in early 2013. So what’s the final verdict?

The Great:

The boss fights! These are extremely bad-ass, entertaining and make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but are just a joy to play through. The characters are always so over the top, and Raiden even fights Metal Gears that would make the original MGS final boss look like a goomba from the Super Mario series. These bouts also have mid-points and different scenarios to keep you hooked during the confrontation. They don’t disappoint.

MGRR4

The Good:

+ The action never lets go. You’ll be fighting bad guys left and right and feel like you can take anyone on. They add some heavy metal music to the mix to really get you pumping. The fighting mechanics also work really well and demand some strategic thinking on the higher difficulty levels.

+ Tons of bonus VR missions for you to tackle when you’re done with the main campaign.

+ Custom weapons and upgrades add some light RPG elements to the mix.

MGRR2

The So-So:

+/- Makes Metal Gear Solid 4 look like a documentary. I’ve never minded the crazy stuff that’s going with the MGS series before, but they’ve taken things a bit too far this time. It’s so anti-climatic, Raiden can somersault over a Metal Gear with ease, and cut through an airplane, but sometimes cannot open a simple door without a key card.  Makes perfect sense.

+/- Stealth is a miss. I think it’s possible to play most of the game without getting spotted, but that would be extremely boring because of the lack of options when it comes to stealth gameplay. No crouching, no leaning on walls, basically an NES-caliber type of stealth action.

MGRR3

The Bad:

– Horrible storyline. It’s starting to feel redundant now. Every MGS always talks about war and it’s pros and cons. It’s time to move on to a different subject. Also, I didn’t care whatsoever about any of the characters or the dialogue that was spoken. Everything was sub-par.

– Extremely repetitive. A lot of beat-em ups or hack and slash games have this issue. Some manage to overcome it by adding different elements. Rising does not. What you get for the first 15 minutes is what you see for the entire game. Mix that with the lackluster plot and there’s not much motivation to keep on playing.

– Main campaign is six hours long, and that’s being generous.

The Lowdown:

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is a game suited only to hardcore fans of the series, and even then I think most will be disappointed. If you’re into hack and slash titles, then by all means give this one a try. As a MGS fan, I knew this would be a different game, but thought that at least there would be an entertaining tale to go along in case I didn’t dig the gameplay. Turns out that gameplay was ok and the plot was horrible. Metal Gear Rising is by no means a terrible game, it just doesn’t come close to giving its namesake justice.

Final Score: 6.3/10

Zone of the Enders HD Collection Review

Zone of the Enders HD Collection (Available on PlayStation 3, Vita and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: October 30th, 2012

Parent Talk: The ZOE HD Collection has been rated M for mature, ages 17 and up by the Entertainment Software Rating Board because the two games feature blood and gore, intense violence and partial nudity. Some of this is depicted in the anime cutscenes, while others are featured directly in the games themselves. Either way, this isn’t a game for very young children, but mature teens shouldn’t really have any issues.

Plays Like: Imagine if a mech game didn’t feature clunky controls, or boring and confusing gameplay. Z.O.E. was that game. It featured breakneck action, easy to control mechs or Orbital Frames as they’re called here, and a really awesome anime storyline to boot. Sure it’s a little campy now, but back then this was the coolest mech game ever created. The 2nd Runner took the same formula and ran wild with it, improving upon the original in every way imaginable.

Review Basis: Compared both games with the originals and took note of all the changes made. I played through the PS3 version for this review.

Confession time, I’m a HUGE Kojima fan. I like pretty much everything the guy has ever touched. When he originally announced he was going to be involved, but not direct Zone of the Enders for the PS2, I knew it would be awesome and sure enough, it was. The sequel, The 2nd Runner was even better because it had more environments, a better overall storyline and tighter, more responsive action. Bottom line, these were two excellent games, one of which is considered one of the very best released last generation. So the ultimate question is, how did the HD remaster turn out?

The Great:

As a game, The 2nd Runner is outstanding. It features a richer storyline, vastly improved environments and far better gameplay than the original ZOE. It also includes the extra bonus missions released exclusively in the Collector’s Edition, which was never released in North America.

The Good:

+ New animation sequences have been added to tie both games together, and they’re fantastic.

+ The art direction is just as superb today as it was the day the original ZOE was released. The HD upgrade only enhances what was already beautiful. The new widescreen resolution is fantastic.

The So-So:

+/- The original ZOE simply hasn’t aged as well as its sequel. It can be completed in under five hours, features very repetitive environments, uninspired voice acting and cheesy dialogue. The gameplay remains fun, but most of your time will be spent with The 2nd Runner.

The Bad:

– Comparing these new remastered versions to their PS2 counterparts was a blessing and a curse. The 2nd Runner featured a rock solid framerate on the PlayStation 2, and yet this version features anything but. Dips and drops in framerate happen whenever too much action is happening on-screen, which is frequent, and there are graphical glitches that pop up all over the place.

The Ugly:

Virtually no bonus features have been added whatsoever. New cutscenes are appreciated and excellent, but no online multiplayer, no leaderboards, or anything else to keep players coming back means there’s very little reason to do so after you complete both games, which doesn’t take very long to do.

The Lowdown:

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with this collection if only because of the severe framerate issues with The 2nd Runner. Don’t get me wrong, both games are still perfectly playable and extremely fun, but they could have been so much more with a locked framerate of 60 fps. I’ve been told an update is coming, or may already be out at the time of this review, but I reviewed the game pre-update. These are two excellent games that have been given a fresh coat of pain, but sadly the one you’re going to spend all your time on doesn’t live up to its full potential because of technical issues.

Final Score: 6.5/10

Retro Journal #7: Castlevania Bloodlines

Castlevania Bloodlines

Original Release Date: March 17th, 1994
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami

What Is It? Castlevania Bloodlines is the only Castlevania game released for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive system, released opposite of Super Castlevania IV for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This was a major deal for the franchise and for series fans in general. Castlevania games, up to this point, were largely considered a Nintendo franchise. While Super Castlevania IV is regarded as superior, Bloodlines has a strong following. It featured two playable characters, each with a unique style of play (and for the first time, not a Belmont). The game was considerably violent and gory for the time as well.

Like the other games in the series, Bloodlines is a 2D action side-scroller with an emphasis on platforming and fighting enemies. You must defeat bosses and jump over traps to reach new areas. Bloodlines had a number of changes to the Castlevania formula, however. For one, the narrative is set across 1917 Europe and is not restricted to Dracula’s castle. Some levels are set in Greece and Italy. Players control either John Morris, who uses the Vampire Killer whip, or Eric Lecarde, who uses a spear to fight enemies.

Why Is It Worth Playing? Bloodlines is unique mixture of familiarity and uniqueness. Longtime Castlevania fans like myself might have missed this one because it was exclusive to the Sega Genesis, unlike the core games in the series. I had not played this game until a few years ago, when I had tracked down a used copy.

Bloodlines is an expertly designed 2D action game. John Morris is definitely the “default” character of the two, because his play style so closely mirrors that of the Belmont clan in the other games. Playing him should be second nature to anyone who has enjoyed a Castlevania game. This includes the somewhat stiff jumping mechanics and hazardous platforming, which may divide some players. Eric Lecarde is a more unique option. Unlike John, he uses a spear, which gives him a different range of attacks. He can also use the spear to perform a kind of super jump. Playing as Eric makes Bloodlines feel like an entirely different game, but I mean that in the best possible way.

Has It Been Re-Released? Unfortunately, no. You’ll have to track down a copy at a local shop or online. A used copy will most likely cost about $25 or more. If you want a copy with the original box, you should expect to spend closer to $50.

My Take: Level design is a great mix of beautiful and diabolical. The Genesis obviously didn’t have the same technological horsepower the Super Nintendo could muster, so the designers had to approach the game with a strong art design in mind. Super Castlevania IV is admittedly a more detailed game, but Bloodlines is still fun to look at, because of its excellent use of color and varied backgrounds. One stage is littered with bloody traps and skeletons, while another has broken columns and cool water effects. One of my favorite levels has a weird mirror design, making it difficult to see. The screen is divided into three sections that move separately, giving a unique and challenging perspective.

The music is just as great. While the Genesis sound card was considerably worse than the Super Nintendo’s, you can’t ignore catchy tunes. Konami did very well with the Genesis’ scrappy chipset. Fans might recognize the theme “Reincarnated Soul,” which was also used in the WiiWare revival Castlevania ReBirth. Playing through the game was a joy for me, thanks to a great soundtrack, thoughtful level design, and some unique hooks. Eric especially made the game fun for me, because he provided a twist on a game series that I had grown accustomed to. If you have played other pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games, you probably have an idea of how difficult the series can get. Thankfully, Bloodlines never feels quite as brutal. It certainly is challenging and there are some parts of the game where I was cursing the stiff jump mechanics, but I was able to clear stages much easier compared to the NES games. The stage design isn’t just difficult, it prepares you for challenges ahead, getting you in the right mindset so that you don’t have to simply memorize and retro levels. Instead, you’ll be able to predict and interpret situations, thus rewarding you for learning the game’s nuances.

The game also has quite a few other fun touches. You can not only use items, but also a special “item crash” ability. Weapons can also be upgraded to become more powerful. Stages also boast a neat level of interaction. While SCIV allowed you to use your whip to scale new heights, in this game you can knock statues off their pedestals, use disheveled columns to form bridges, and watch as minibosses shatter windows in the background.  On the downside, Bloodlines doesn’t seem to offer as much substance as its companions. Levels are considerably shorter and platforming sections aren’t quite as thoughtful. Level design is great from an art design perspective, but the hazards and traps aren’t as challenging or interesting, making it pale in comparison to SCIV. Levels are mostly straightforward, to boot. Still, even with the flaws mentioned, Bloodlines is an excellent and often-overlooked entry that is definitely worth playing.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Will Finally Get a Trophy Update

In what has to be one of the longest requested updates to a videogame ever, Hideo Kojima, the game’s director and series creator, has revealed that a trophy patch will be included in the budget re-release of the game hitting Japan sometime in August.  For all those that already have the game, they’ll be pleased to know that an update will be released on the PlayStation Network updating the game to include the new trophy patch.  The patch will be released sometime in August.

MGS4 was one of the toughest games to “master” because of its included badge system.  In order to get the illusive Big Boss emblem you had to…

– Complete the game in under 5 hours

– Have 0 continues

– Use 0 health items (Rations, Noodles, Regain)

– Have 0 alerts

– Have 0 kills (including bosses)

– Use of special items (Stealth/Bandana) is forbidden.

– Complete on The Boss Extreme mode

Needless to say, that was not an easy thing to accomplish. I actually spent the better part of a week going after that emblem, and when I finally did it I swore I would never do something that insane again.  The truth is I likely would have, had the patch been released earlier, but after all these years I think this is going to be one game I don’t revisit.  I’m curious to hear what you guys think of this though.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Vita Review

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Available on PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: June 12th, 2012
Download Size: 3.3GB
Price: $34.99 (Digital) and $39.99 (Physical)

Parent Talk: The MGS HD Collection is rated M for mature because of violence, suggestive themes and blood.  Both MGS2 and MGS3 are collected in this set and present mature storylines with realistic violence.

Plays Like: If you’ve played a Metal Gear Solid game before you know what to expect.  Both games in this collection feature stealth action, and copious amounts of violence.  They’re considered some of the very best videogames ever created.  The Splinter Cell series is very similar in design so if you’re a fan of that series, you might want to check this out.

Review Basis: Played through portions of both games to see how they compared to the HD Collection on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Disclaimer: I already reviewed the HD Collection on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 so portions of this review have been taken from that review.  I’ve also included Steven’s MGS3: Subsistence review if you’re looking for finer details on gameplay and other series mechanics.

MGS3: Subsistence: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/mgs3_sub.html?var1=sc3
MGS: HD Collection: http://www.projectcoe.com/2011/11/20/metal-gear-solid-hd-collection-review/

The MGS HD Collection on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was a love letter to fans of the series.  Sure it was missing the one game that started it all, Metal Gear Solid, but it featured the original two MSX games, MGS2, 3, and Peace Walker.  That’s a ton of high-definition content to digest.  Now the set arrives on the Vita, but sadly it isn’t the dream compilation you were hoping for.

What’s New?

+ HD visuals.  Each game has been remastered in HD (although the Vita’s screen resolution is only 960 × 544) and look stunning on the OLED screen.

+ ‘Transfarring’.  One of the most highly anticipated features works better than I thought it would.  You can play through either MGS2 or 3 on your Vita, and then send your saved data to the PS3 (through the cloud no less) version and continue from there, or the other way around.

+ Dual trophy support.  If you happen to own the PS3 version you can unlock the same set of trophies twice, and only by playing once.  Just transfer your save file over from the Vita to the PS3 or vice versa and if you unlocked a trophy while playing on one system, it will automatically unlock when you continue on the other system.

+ Touch controls work exceptionally well.  Need to switch a weapon, just touch the icon and select your weapon.  It works better than it did in the original games.

Omissions:

– Both games play exactly as you remember them, for better or worse.  That means for a portable release these games aren’t very user-friendly.  You can have a twenty-minute codec message for every five feet you progress in the beginning of each game.  Take that in mind when deciding if this version is the one for you.

– Price might be a little steep considering technically you’re getting two full games instead of the three featured in the PS3 and 360 set.  Why Peace Walker was removed from the set I don’t know.  On top of that Portable Ops remains missing in action, and as always, the original MGS is nowhere to be found.  For a $35 digital download, that’s almost the exact same price as a brand new original Vita game.

The Lowdown:

Don’t let the lack of Peace Walker sway you into skipping on the Vita version of this collection.  If you own the PS3 HD Collection, but find yourself always on the go, this is a worthwhile purchase.  I have been transferring my saved data back and forth for the past week and having a real blast.  Sure the value may not be as high as the console version, but I’d easily recommend this one to anyone who does a lot of portable gaming, or anyone who hasn’t played either of these two wonderful games.

Final Score: 8/10

Nintendo Power Confirms Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate for the 3DS

It’s hard to argue with physical evidence, right?  So just take a gander at the following scan:

That about confirms the rumor that a new Castlevania game is in the works for the 3DS.  Sadly, based on the title and the description of the game, this Castlevania will be 3D and feature Trevor Belmont during some epic journey.  Now that’s not bad news, it’s just I had my hopes up for a return of excellent 2D gameplay that all the previous Nintendo handhelds have had before.  Oh well, I’m sure this will be another excellent addition to the series.  What say you people?

Rumor: Castlevania Heading to the 3DS

Let’s make a long story short, Dutch site, N1ntendo, was able to get their hands on Konami’s E3 briefing schedule and in among all the other undisclosed announcements the company plans to reveal Castlevania: Mirror of Fate.  To validate the site’s findings, Konami actually owns the domains mirroroffate.com and mirroroffate.net.  Interesting, no?

David Cox and Enric Alvarez, producer and director/writer of Lord of Shadows are said to be heavily involved in this new 3DS exclusive.  That’s about all the information we’ve got at this time, but it certainly seems possible to me.  I just hope it’s a 2D Castlevania because I adore them, and it would be a perfect fit on the 3DS.  Would do you guys think of this?  E3 is only a few weeks away now, so we’ll know the truth soon enough.

Puddle Review

Puddle (Available on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Release Date: January 31st, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Puddle T for teen because of fantasy violence, crude humor, and mild blood.  This is a game about getting liquid substances from the start of a level to the exit.  Sure there are tons of hazards trying to prevent you from doing that, but this isn’t a damaging game in the least.

Plays Like: LocoRoco.  You pivot the level left and right slowly moving the liquid to its desired location.

Review Basis: Finished off the PlayStation Network version of the game, but not without a lot of help.  For some reason I suck as these kinds of games, and this one is extremely tough.

Puddle is one of the best puzzles games currently available on either the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.  It’s the easiest game you could possibly imagine to get into, but one of the toughest, most complex, puzzlers you’ll ever play.  Therein lies its charm, and why you could easily spend days doing nothing but trying to beat your high score.

The Great:

The gameplay is so elegant and refined, even though we’ve seen it all before.  All you have to do is get your puddle of liquid from the beginning of the stage to the exit.  Along the way every obstacle you can imagine will try and prevent that from happening.  All you’re armed with is the ability to shift the stage left and right.  Physics does the rest.  This simple, yet addictive gameplay had me coming back for more time and time again.  Make no mistake about it though; Puddle is extremely difficult in the later portions of the game, especially if you’re going for high scores.

The Good:

+ Highly creative level design that only continues to get more unique as you progress.  From sink pipes filled with fire pits, traveling through lavish forests, on electrical wires to spilling a coffee cup, the creativity never ceases.

+ The game’s called Puddle for a reason and not water.  Worlds are broken up into a series of stages, with each world focusing on a different liquid substance from water to liquid metal, and insecticide.  That changes the gameplay as you progress because different substances react differently to heat and gravity.

+ Boss fights are comprised of timed events where you have to escape a trap.  Some are especially creative.

+ Try to beat the clock.  Your goal is simple; reach the exit without your liquid meter dropping below the red line of doom.  Doing so may sound easy, but it really isn’t.

+ Players are allowed to skip levels by using one of their ‘Whines’.  You only have a certain number available though so you have to be smart about which levels you decide to skip.

+ Excellent use of the Move controller and Sixaxis.  While you can use the L2/R2 and LT/RT for movement, the motion controls are much more intuitive.

+ Nice presentation and audiovisual package.  The menus are streamlined and simple, and the game itself features subdued graphics and light audio that works perfectly with this kind of game.

The So-So:

+/- The difficulty ramps up to near insane levels towards the end of the game and some players may find the number of Whines short in supply.

The Ugly:

Using nitroglycerin, yeah…you can already imagine where this is going.

The Lowdown:

Puddle is a very addicting puzzle game that anyone who enjoys the genre should certainly check it.  It features a nice assortment of levels; hazards and challenge to keep puzzle fans entertained for hours.  Those who only dabble in the genre may find this one just a bit too challenging for their tastes though.  Regardless where you stand Puddle is worth checking out.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you’re a hardcore puzzle fan that’s looking for a challenging game to keep you occupied for quite a while.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you only dabble in the genre and consider yourself more a social puzzle fan.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Review

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T to M
Players: 1-6
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: November 8, 2011
PSN/Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: The MGS Collection is rated both T and M because of violence, suggestive themes and blood.  Since the package includes three, full games, it’s probably wiser to consider it overall as rated M. Each game presents a mature story and the violence is quite realistic.

Plays Like: MGS4Splinter Cell, and other 3D stealth-action games.

Review Basis: Finished each game in the series and analyzed the bonus material. Tried Peace Walker online.

Disclaimer: We’ve reviewed MGS3, and Peace Walker; access the write-ups below. ProjectCOE didn’t exist when MGS2 released, but it’s similar to MGS3 in many ways, which Steven references in the MGS3 review.

MGS3: Subsistence: http://www.projectcoe.com/sony/games/mgs3_sub.html?var1=sc3

MGS: Peace Walker: http://www.projectcoe.com/2010/08/23/metal-gear-solid-peace-walker-review/

The MGS HD Collection is a love letter to series fans. Konami repackaged the most successful iterations from the past decade with some great improvements. If you enjoy MGS, this collection is for you.

What’s New?

  • HD visuals.  Each game is upscaled to 1080p, and while they look extremely detailed, Peace Walker doesn’t enjoy the same flair that the rest of the collection does. It was originally a PSP game, so the environments are more barren. The character models are wonderful though.

  • Trophies/Achievements.  One of the biggest attractions of the collection is unlocking trophies or achievements. The 360 version has 1,000 gamer points ready to be acquired, while the PS3 release sports three platinum trophies. Pick your poison.
  • Digital audio.  The original releases had glorious Pro Logic II, or at least MGS2 did, but Peace Walker had nothing because it was a portable title. Now all three support Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS for a wonderful audio experience.
  • Online support.  Sadly Metal Gear Online isn’t included with MGS3: Subsistence, but Peace Walker is online now, which makes all the difference.
  • Dual analog for Peace Walker.  By now it’s obvious that PW received the royal treatment. We can control Snake much better now.
  • Transferring.  Want to play your Peace Walker PSP save on PS3? You can by transferring it seamlessly. It’ll also work on Vita.
  • Incredible value for $50.  Three full games, and one that plays better now and enjoys online support (PW).  MGS2 and 3 are based on their superior re-releases, meaning you also get the MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.  All this for $10 less a new release.

Omissions:

  • Each game but Peace Walker plays exactly as it did before. For better or worse these titles are as you remember them.
  • No Metal Gear Solid.  This was a no-brainer, and should have been available for PS3 owners with at least a PSN voucher or something. Also, where’s Portable Ops?

The Lowdown:

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a fantastic collection that all should pick up this holiday season.  You may be busy blasting through the latest shooters, platformers, and whatever else tickles your fancy, but you can always return to MGS HD Collection. There’s so much content, thus despite one glaring omission, this may be the best HD collection ever released.I can’t recommend it enough.

Average Score Scale: 8.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You love MGS, and want to experience it in HD. Peace Walker online = pure win!

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: The unacceptable lack of the original MGS.  The La-li-lu-le-lo must have stolen it.

One of the best opening scenes ever.

No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise Review

No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise [Available on PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii]
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Feel Plus/Grasshopper Manufacture
Release Date: August 16, 2011

PSN: Downloadable Content
PlayStation Move Compatible

Parent Talk: No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is inundated with explicit violence, blood, profanity. NMH has a crude, comedic, over-the-top story and bizarre characters, making it much different than the typical violent action game. This game is not suitable for children.

Plays Like: A super-violent, anime-style version of Grand Theft Auto.

Review Basis: Completed the game on the “Mild/Normal” difficulty setting, also finished the original NMH releases on Wii.

No More Heroes was, and still is, an action gem for Nintendo Wii. Its brilliant fourth-wall-shattering story and over-the-top ultra violence made it a cult classic. Sadly, Nintendo fans can no longer claim exclusivity to Suda 51’s product. This PlayStation 3 remake finally allows Sony fans to enjoy Travis Touchdown’s exploits. But are you better off sticking with the Wii original?

The Great:

An HD overhaul. No More Heroes is one of Wii’s great, early action titles, but far from visually impressive, even for Wii. The PS3 version brings a much-needed makeover. Lighting and effects are improved, and Travis’ model is more detailed. The streets are active with more NPCs and textures are improved.

The Good:

+ The complete, original adventure on PS3! If you haven’t played No More Heroes, do check out our review here for story and gameplay details.

+ Trophy support. Wii unfortunately doesn’t support achievements of any kind, so the PS3 version may entice newcomers.

+ PlayStation Move and Dual Shock support. Heroes’ Paradise welcomes both formats, successfully bringing the original motion and standard control to the table. The Move integration functions well and mostly replicates the Wii experience. There’s little more satisfying than chopping down hordes of bad guys. The standard controls work too and offer a suitable alternative for those who care not for motion control.

+ Replay cutscenes and boss battles. The ability to revisit any boss fight makes collecting trophies easier too.

+ New Score Attack mode and online leaderboards. Score Attack is a fun distraction from the main game, though hardly essential to the game.

+ New boss battles. In addition to the original NMH villain cast, Heroes’ Paradise brings several bosses from NMH2, including Matt Helms and Alice Twilight.

+ Replay missions immediately if you fail. In No More Heroes, you had to exit the mission and re-select it. This makes the process less tedious.

+ A value pricepoint of $40.

+ Fantastic voice work and music. The soundtrack is the definition of pulse-pounding.

+ New Game Plus motivates you more to replay the game.

+ An excellent, over-the-top, gratuitous story. It pays homage to anime and cult films breaking the fourth wall at every opportunity. The insane characters and funny dialog make it one of the most unique action games this generation. Travis Touchdown is a hard character to sympathize for, but he’s certainly memorable.

The Bad:

– Repetitious enemy cries. The few voice clips said are funny, but not after a hundred times.

– The side jobs quickly become tedious and slow down an otherwise fun and fast-paced game.

– You can’t quick jump to a location, except when you retry a mission.

– The new bosses face you immediately after the story mission boss fights. This eliminates any tension leading up to the encounter.

– Santa Destroy now has more NPCs roaming the streets, but they’re basically all the same characters. The PS3 is plenty more capable than this, yet Grasshopper chose not to exploit that.

– The PlayStation Move controller requires constant calibration and is not much better than the Wii remote. It also lacks a speaker, so the phone call scenes lose their gimmick.

– Driving is awkward and sometimes broken. Several times my bike got stuck on something in the environment. Collision detection is spotty.

The Ugly:

– Horrible screen tearing and other visual problems. The presentation is significantly upgraded, but a remake should never be buggier than the original. Screen tearing persists throughout the game and slowdown plagues the combat and tense cutscenes. This remake lacks polish and should have spent more time in development. Again, the PS3 is a perfectly capable system, so these problems shouldn’t exist. Hopefully Grasshopper will release a patch soon.

The Lowdown:

Despite crippling technical problems, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a great action title worth experiencing. The Wii version is the cheaper alternative, but the PS3 version boasts trophy support, standard controller options, and extra content. Pick whichever suits your interests more.

Score: 7/10

 

TMNT: Turtles in Time Erased from Existence! [Warning: Rant Ahead!]

No digital game is safe from expiring licenses. While the unfortunate expiration of Brave Story for the PSP (on PSN) hasn’t been wildly reported in the mainstream gaming media, Turtles in Time Re-shelled is getting a significant amount of press coverage due to the high-regard of the classic arcade/SNES game and the whole franchise in general. It’s true; Ubisoft’s pulling this one off XBLA and PSN on June 30th, which implies that online multiplayer will no longer be supported after that date. Obviously, this is due to the Ninja Turtles’ franchise being sold to Nickelodeon in late 2009. Having this game up for around two years since that acquisition is a pretty good trade-off. I’m surprised they didn’t pull it off earlier.

I’d like to say that I’m saddened by this loss, but to be truthful I’m neutral on the matter. I own this remake on XBLA…and while the multiplayer and gameplay are just as fun as the arcade/SNES version, there was so much potential for it to be a much better reimagining. The visual style for Re-shelled is questionable at best. Believe it or not, but the sprite-based original version actually had better facial expressions and animations from the Turtles and enemies alike….while the remake is completely devoid of life. Moreover, not including the additional levels from the SNES version is just plain lazy. But the worst offender of the bunch in my opinion is the new soundtrack. You don’t mess with the music of Turtles in Time and expect to get away with it, Ubisoft!

Listen to these awesome tracks! Insanely catchy stuff. The beta version of the remake actually used the original SNES music. Of course, I would’ve at least expected a modern retake on the tracks themselves with live instruments and such. Instead, the Ubisoft development team had to screw that up too by composing a completely new soundtrack for reasons unknown.

Aren’t the new versions some of the most bland music you’ve ever listened to in your life? This change alone almost completely killed this game’s nostalgic factor.

With my rant out of the way, it’s unfortunate that Re-Shelled will be pulled despite my dislike of some of its features…because for better or for worse, this TMNT game will be the last of its kind. Since Nick owns the franchise now, it’ll be years until they discover the huge fanbase behind the classic games. Indeed, I would’ve loved to see any developer revisit other classics such as TMNT III: Manhattan Project for the NES (one of the most addicting beat ’em ups for the NES), TMNT IV: To the Rescue for the Game Boy (an excellent Turtles take on Metroidvania), and TMNT: Tournament Fighters for the SNES (the closest competitor to Street Fighter II back in those days). Instead, we get crap like the notorious first installment of TMNT NES shoved down our throats via Virtual Console. Like any other franchise owner, it seems that Nick’s mentality is to try and cash in with new projects instead of revisiting the old, which is wrong in the Turtles’ case. Name me one successful modern TMNT game. That’s right: nothing comes to mind! Perhaps the closest game which tries to ride in on the nostalgia are the two recent beat ’em ups for GBA and DS released years ago, but I digress. Modern TMNT games suck compared to the awesome classics of yesteryear!

Source: Destructoid

Another MGS Remake on the Way?

As I reported earlier on Twitter and Facebook, the official FB fan-pages of Metal Gear Solid offered an interesting explanation of why the original installment for PS1 would not be included in the upcoming HD Collection. Here’s the full post:

Want to know why MGS1 wasn’t included in the MGS HD Collection? Kojima Productions Creative Producer Yoshikazu Matsuhana recently told Eurogamer: “If we were going to do Metal Gear Solid 1 we’d want to take more time with it. Not just up-res the textures, not just make things look pretty and polished, but go back and tweak some of the gameplay, tweak the story to update things and do it properly. Not just a re-master but a re-imagining almost.” Would you “like” to see a reimagining of MGS1?

 

I smell another full-fledged remake of the original MGS brewing…perhaps we’ll see a taste of that next year? Either way, this makes perfect sense to me. Due to a complex exclusivity deal, Konami cannot use the assets of GameCube’s MGS: The Twin Snakes since Nintendo and Silicon Knights were deeply involved in the game’s development instead of using Konami’s internal teams. So, if another remake is being planned, it must be made from the ground up. Personally, I would like to see that. I honestly did not give the series much of a chance until I fell in love with MGS4 followed by Peace Walker.

E3 2011 – Konami Makes Pre-E3 Announcements

That’s right folks, get ready for some Konami love.  Their pre-E3 press conference is currently underway and the company just revealed that an HD Collection for Zone of the Enders, Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid. All three sets will be released on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  The ZOE collection features both parts in the series and is scheduled for release sometime in 2012.  It will sport 1080p visuals and likely some extras thrown in for good measure.

As for MGS HD Collection, don’t get overly excited.  The set will include three games, but not the original PS1 classic.  It looks like Konami didn’t want to invest too much cash into a full remake of the legendary title.  That’s kind of odd considering Twin Snakes, but there may be some other legal issues there we don’t know about.  As such, the games included in the collection are MGS2, MGS3, and MGS: Peace Walker. That’s right, the PSP title.  PS3 owners will be able to transfer saved data from their PSP game to the PS3 version.  Like the ZOE set, the MGS HD Collection will include all games in 1080p.

Finally Konami confirmed an HD collection for Silent Hill that will include both Silent Hill 2 & 3.  No specific timeframe was given for the Silent Hill HD Collection.

Now for other interesting news.  Konami confirmed that Peace Walker wasn’t going to be the only game that allowed data to be transferred from the PS3 to NGP/PSP.  They said the ZOE collection would also contain this feature.  When pressed for further information, Konami reps only said we’d have to wait for further information.  Does that mean the collection is also headed to the NGP?  Who knows at this point, but it’s exciting just the same.

While on the subject surprises, Konami confirmed a new Silent Hill is in the works for the NGP, called Silent Hill: Book of Memories.  No release date was given except for after the system launches.

Konami ended its press conference with the following image.  I wonder what it could mean?  Ok, I’ll just tell you.  Konami wants to create a big-budget Contra titled to reboot the franchise like what they did last year with Castlevania.  Let’s hope everything turns out.