Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grab Bag

It's already the fourth and I still haven't updated?! Ugh. Let's do something about that.

First things first... I just got Splatoon for my Wii U. Some observations about the experience:

* The game is set to use the gyroscope of the Wii U gamepad by default, which means a lot of sweeping the controller to look around and target enemies. Thankfully, this can be turned off, but you DON'T have the option to use other controllers for most of the game's modes. 

* The graphics are impressive, full of glistening, gooey ink. There's a colorful plasticky sheen throughout that's a refreshing change of pace from the grit and grime of other shooters. When your character is launched to other platforms, you'll see a bird's eye view of the surrounding area that's breathtaking in its scope.

Leader of the pack.
(image courtesy of Niche Gamer)
* There are two different character models, but the boy's design is pretty lackluster, without the flowing tentacle-locks of his female counterpart. Like Mass Effect 3, you'll probably be a lot happier playing as the girl.

* Although there's a story mode, you pretty much have to play online to get the most out of this game. The shopkeepers that sell stat-boosting accessories won't even give you the time of day until you've leveled up a few times in online battles.

* The puns. Oh lord, the PUNS! They're a whole new level of bad, from television announcers Callie and Marie's appetite for octo-pie to locations like the Booyah Base. Some of the puns are even layered, like Crusty Sean, a shrimp salesman who wears a crispy tempura jacket. I don't think even Spongebob Squarepants has this much marine wordplay.

* Speaking of that, I'm stunned that there hasn't been an official crossover with Nickelodeon. It's got all the goop of Double Dare, along with a diverse cast of sea life and an overall vibe that it was made especially for twelve year olds... or just the twelve at heart. Don't take that as a slam, by the way... after the endless despair of Gears of War and Killzone we could use a lot more games like this.

"Hi, I'm the douchebag who
ruined your favorite game
company! Guess where
this thumb has been?"
Okay, second order of business. Remember that post about Konami losing much of its late '80s luster? An article on Japan's Nikkei business newspaper, conveniently translated by Thomas James, offers some insight as to why this is the case. Evidently the company's co-founder, Kagemasa Kozuki, has lost a few screws in the last thirty years. He won't talk to the press, and anyone at Konami who gets on his bad side is reassigned to assembly work or clean-up detail at one of his fitness clubs. It doesn't matter who, which probably explains why prominent game designers like Koji Igarashi and Hideo Kojima have been so eager to leave Konami. I mean, would YOU want to spend the rest of your career putting together pachinko machines or cleaning the sweat off treadmills?

Word has it that Konami is family-owned, so there's no way to replace Kagemasa Kozuki or repair the damage he's done to the company. So unless you really, really like smartphone games or have a membership to one of Konami's gyms, the company is effectively dead. Well, it was fun while it lasted...

There was one other thing! Oh yes, I just got Xevious 3D Classics for the 3DS. I was concerned that it would be a straight port of the unsatisfying NES version of the game, but nope, it's based on the arcade game, with some modifications to take advantage of the hardware. First, it's widescreen, so you have a little more room to move, even if the borders of the playfield are bracketed by clouds. Second, it's in 3D, which is great news if you have one of the new models of the 3DS. As an owner of the 3DS XL, it doesn't really help me much, since that system has to be held absolutely still for the effect to work. The last thing is that the control is more comfortable with the circle pad and buttons that can be set to rapid fire. I've been able to beat Andor Genesis in this version of the game, because my hands don't give out before it does!

Okay, that's it. Thanks for reading!


  1. I know Japan has this whole cultural thing about not firing people and all, but any other game people left at Konami should bail on that sinking ship and look into getting a job elsewhere. I don't care if the company's focus has changed, these are people who came to Konami to work on games, and who worked on some of its most iconic franchises. These are not people who should be reassigned to janitorial duties or security guards or building pachinko machines.

    On the subject of Splatoon, since you mentioned crossovers I have to say I'm surprised there hasn't been one with Super Mario Sunshine. After all, the game is all about doing the exact polar opposite of what you do in Sunshine, making a big goopy mess instead of cleaning it up.

    1. What's happening at Konami right now is despicable... and I have a funny feeling this isn't new. So many employees have left the company to start their own game design teams that I've got to believe it's been a toxic work environment for a long, long time. You're familiar with the story of Yoshiki Okamoto, right? He created Gyruss and Time Pilot, and when he asked for a raise, he was immediately fired. He went on to co-found Capcom, one of Konami's most successful competitors. Ah, the sweet taste of revenge!

  2. Oh, good for you for picking up Splatoon, Jess! If I had a Wii U, I'd pick up that game, too. I looooooove how it looks, and it sounds fun, too. What else do you need in a game, right?

    Also, you've piqued my interest in Xevious 3D. Like you, I thought it was based on the NES version. (Ewwww!). Now that I know it's not, I may have to buy it soon...

    1. I should go back to it. I slightly resent that they MAKE you play it online to unlock most of the stuff (weapons, accessories, etc.), but I guess I'll have to bite that bullet and do that if I want to make the most of the game.

      One thing that frustrates me about Xevious 3D Classics is that it doesn't have its own Miiverse page, yet the crappy NES version of Xevious (released for the Wii U) does. Huh?