Sunday, 5 November 2017

Top Five Videogame Femme Fatales

Strong females are - in my opinion at least - one of life's great attractions and the same applies to the fictional characters that inhabit the games we play. If you're like me and a bit of an oddball however then you might also have a bit of a thing for those dangerous, so-called femme fatales too because let's face it: psychotic is sexy, right? Well, it is and if you agree then this random Top Five will be right up your street.

1. Tira (Soul Calibur III)

I should begin by noting that my favourite Soul Calibur lady always has and always will be Sophitia because as contradictory as it may be in a Top Five of deadly, bad-ass babes, her goddess-like image does it for me. The third Soul Calibur introduced a few new female characters to challenge the established sex appeal however and one of these was the manical Tira, a very Harley Quinn-esque character with a massive razor ring weapon and unique multi-stance fighting style. She's a real nutcase who enjoys killing but is also quite childlike and hyperactive which contrasts starkly with her violent streak. Tira's original appearance included an odd blue-coloured hair-do that was most certainly out of place in a game set in the fifteenth century but later renditions of the character were more suitably garbed. Thankfully, she remained just as mental as ever in SCIV and V and even gained a soul-sucking kiss of death super death in IV. Perhaps we can see those sexy green rags one more time in the future as a 2P outfit though, Namco?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Play-Asia REALLY wants my custom...

Play-Asia is one of my favourite websites for buying imported gaming stuff. Over the years I've purchased a fair few games that weren't released over here (the physical PS3 version of Darkstalkers Resurrection and Gunhound EX for the PSP for example) from their site as well as a couple of expensive figures. I've never had any issues with them and the only reason I tend to go for a long time without buying something from them is because of the cost of importing. New releases or in-demand items will be at least full RRP, then there's shipping on top and usually a nasty customs bill to pay here in the UK before your parcel is released.

So yes, there are a lot of nice things that I'd buy in an instant from Play-Asia and a whole heap of quirky imports that I wouldn't mind taking a chance on but I tend to save my import purchases for stuff I REALLY want given the costs involved. I'm straying off-topic though. What I wanted to quickly share in this filler post (hey, I'm an honest guy...) was Play-Asia's way of tempting be to spend with them. They sent me the usual "we miss you..." e-mail with a 5% off code which would save me...extremely little. With the discount code though...THIS:

The one in the middle though...christ. Cloud was a lucky man.

I feel like a website is attempting to seduce me with these fan-made Tifa Lockheart images. Sorry Play-Asia but I'm an Aeris man. Well...not really but I don't know what else to say here when faced with an array of enormous digital breasts and a 5% off code. I genuinely didn't expect them to stoop to such blunt levels of advertising! Brightens up an otherwise dull inbox though I supppose...

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Played: Devil's Third (Wii-U)

Valhalla Games/Nintendo/2015

I have to begin this write-up by simply straight-up admitting that Devil's Third is easily one of the biggest disappointments I have experienced in recent years. Is it a crappy game? Not really. It doesn't deserve any accolades at all but I personally feel that the game is more dismally underwhelming rather than outright terrible. Y'see, I have a special category for quirky, third person action games that ooze style and reek of non-conformity as far as market trends go. In this category, you will find the likes of Anarchy Reigns, Madworld, No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw, God Hand, Asura's Wrath and Vanquish - all superb games that are flawed in many respects but pack enough stylistic punch to paper over major cracks and endear themselves to gamers. I was expecting Devil's Third to slot right into this exclusive category and be a nice little gem to possibly come back to in the future whenever I tire of the mainstream.

To understand my disappointment, you have to rewind a few years to a point where Devil's Third was one of the big hopes of the (then) brand-new Wii-U console. It was going to be an exclusive action game produced by Tomonobu Itagaki, formerly of Team Ninja/Tecmo fame. In Itagaki's own words, Devil's Third would be a "break-through for the industry" and would elevate the genre to a new level. This was a pretty big deal for a system that wasn't looking too healthy when it came to having a good quantity of worthwhile exclusives and fans were eager to include Devil's Third in any defence of the Wii-U. The reality however is that the game was delayed and limped out to critical scorn, selling poorly and quickly being discounted. So what the heck happened?

Friday, 20 October 2017

A new project

I'm always looking on ebay for bargains and something that has often caught my eye are the big stacks of faulty consoles selling for extremely cheap prices. Granted, some are terminal cases (it isn't worth trying to fix something with a dead CPU for example) but other times, I can't help but wonder if these knackered machines are being sold as scrap because the owner doesn't know how to fix them or simply can't be bothered.

I'll freely admit that I'm no master expert at repairing things but I am not afraid to strip a console down and at least try and when you pick up a small lot as cheaply as the following then the risk is very small...

So what do we have here then? An 80GB PS3 and two versions of the Xbox 360. The PS3 was listed as working but unable to read discs while both 360's have the dreaded RROD (apparently). I've never owned a 360 so simply having these in my hands is a learning experience. I didn't know that the revised 360 could suffer with the RROD so that will be interesting. The only downside is that neither come with HDD's or any leads so I will have to source those before I can begin diagnostics. I have been reading up on good quality fixes for RROD (i.e. not temporary bodge jobs) so I have a good idea of what I should expect to be doing.

It's the PS3 that I will turn my attention to first however since it might even be as simply as using a lens cleaner to get it working. The vents and all of the ports are full of dust and filth so this indicates to me that the same stuff may have gotten into the disc drive. At worst it may be a drive swap. On a side note, this is the first time I've had one of the original style of PS3's and I have to say that it's a nice bit of kit that certainly looks nice and high end in the flesh. Remember when the original 60GB version cost £500 on release in 2007?!?

As for the price I paid...£22 including postage for the lot. I don't know how much the postage actually cost the seller but considering the weight of the three consoles together, it can't have been cheap. If I can at least get the PS3 working then it will pay for the bundle on its own. I will post any significant updates here in the (hopefully) near future!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Recent-ish Purchases #7

Usually I wouldn't like to make a purchases post with only a few small bits to display but since I may want to write about a few of these soon, I thought it best to show them first. I've certainly been watching the pennies a lot more as of late for various reasons and so I haven't exactly set out to buy games in general. The spoils below didn't cost me much at all however.

Devil's Third for the Wii-U has been on my wanted list for a while now. When it released, I didn't have the money to drop on it and when it started to get heavily discounted (being a weird, obscure game that the critics slammed), I just didn't happen to spot any copies on the cheap. I had pretty much forgotten it I suppose but then a cool guy on a forum who I have traded with before put this copy up for a mere £6.00. Needless to say, I snapped that baby up.

Of the PSP games, Space Invaders Extreme is the only title that I actually paid for. It's a pretty fun update of a game that has been done to death already and features funky, pumping tunes and a more trippy style of gameplay. It's very hard though and I have to say that being able to continue from the last stage unlocked (rather than start the whole thing over) is utterly essential. I can't remember how much I paid but it was definitely sub-£10 on ebay from a charity sale with no image. Other copies with the same original cover (I didn't want the 'Essentials' re-release version) were up for over £10 so it was a bit of a gamble that paid off.

Buzz and Mercury were actually given to me for free on the same forum where I purchased Devil's Third for such a great price. They were sent my way from another user who I had previously sent a fair few freebies to, proving that the community spirit I spoke about in another post is alive and well. Mercury is something I have certainly been intrigued by for a while since I do enjoy unique puzzle games for the PSP. As for Buzz, I have never played a game in the series and don't really "do" quiz games in general but it does look like it might be fun so I will give it a shot. For free, it would be rude not to, right?

Monday, 2 October 2017

Selling on ebay: too much of a hassle in 2017?

Bit of a different topic today but one which is perhaps still somewhat linked with gaming considering how intertwined the second hand/retro gaming market is with the worlds "number one auction site". Except that isn't strictly true anymore is it? Not the numero uno status but the "auction" part of the statement. Y'see, it's been a LONG time since ebay was actually an auction site. These days, fixed price listings (Buy It Now) are the dominant format and the site is more like an online marketplace for businesses (corporate and small scale) with less oppurtunity to snag a bargain on an auction. The knock-on effect is of course that auctions will be more fiercely contested as prospective buyers seek to avoid Buy It Now prices which are higher than they suspect an auction might sell for. I've seen this happen to the extent that auction format listings sometimes sell for more than a fixed price listing for the same item which was available at the same time. Clearly, some people just can't concede defeat!

But this isn't really a post aimed at the buying side of ebay because we've all heard and (unfortunately) probably experienced the dark side of the place: damaged items, terrible packaging, nothing received at all, lies etc. I've even received personal threats from one person for reporting them to ebay for not receiving an item.

No, this is going to be about selling on ebay. It used to be great but in 2017, not so much. The main overall issue is that ebay seems determined to force everybody down the route of being professional and business-like with an increased focus on high standards and private sellers - clearing out crap from their home perhaps - are expected to operate as if they are a business. Stricter dispatch times and the general language used by ebay (calling everything an "order" for example) are just two things that I have noticed creep in over the last few years. As far as selling privately goes, these things are counterbalanced by the fact that large amounts of monthly free listings and related promotions save you a lot of money. As long as you aren't trying to sneakily operate as a business beneath the designation of a private seller then you won't be listing loads anyway and so the bad side of ebay may not be so obvious if you aren't spending a long time there.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Playstation Round-Up #1

Cool Boarders 2 - WEP Systems/Sony/1997

"Cooooooooooool BOARDERS!!!!" That gnarly cry on the main menu may well be the coolest thing about this game. My history with Cool Boarders is pretty limited non-existent. I played the demo for Cool Boarders 3 back when the PS1 was still current and this copy of Cool Boarders 2 was only acquired as a case-swap for Soulblade since both games come with a slightly different box to regular PAL Playstation games. Anyway...I really wanted to like this game because I haven't played any snowboarding games aside from 1080 Avalanche on the Gamecube and also because there is some fucking awesome music on here that could not be any more mid-90's if it tried. Unfortunately, I found the controls for pulling off the tricks to be utterly hideous, convoluted and unresponsive. I gave it a fair bash with some downhill time trials and a few races but I quickly grew frustrated with the bloody controls. Perhaps I am missing something but I couldn't be bothered to carry on. That music though...

Gundam Battle Assault 2 - Bandai/2002

I love 2D fighting games and I love huge mechs so what shouldn't there be to like about Gundam Battle Assault 2? The sprites in this game are huge and multi-jointed, looking very impressive indeed considering that the host hardware often struggled with 2D sprite-driven fighters. Unfortunately, the game itself just isn't that exciting. First and foremost, I know nothing about Gundam so all of the plot and characters are completely lost on me. I can't hold that against the game though as that's a bit unfair. What IS a fair piece of criticism is the slow speed of the thing and extremely limited pool of moves for each character. I randomly picked "Gundam Wing" (as it was a suit that I recognised the name of and looked cool) and managed to clear the story mode by using the same few moves and spamming a (admittedly awesome-looking) massive laser super move as much as possible. This combined with an extremely unsophisticated moveset really failed to grip me and I couldn't see myself wanting to play this again. Definitely a pretty game that's worth seeing in action but whether you want to pay the £10+ that a PAL copy typically sells at for the privilege is another question. Gundam fans might be able to look past the flaws however.