Game 1 of 2014: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

I finish a lot of games, read a lot of books, and watch a lot of movies over the course of a year. I keep a list of them all but sometimes by the end of the year, I've forgotten what my closing thoughts on each were. With that in mind I've decided to throw down my closing thoughts on the games/books/films I finish this year via my personal blogs (including this one). The first entry belongs to the first game I finished this year, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.

Date Finished: January 6, 2014

Hours Played: 5 1/2

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood not a great game by any means, and suffers from some wonky controls that are a major downer when you need to be quick and precise, but I mostly enjoyed my time with the game and felt that it was ultimately $15 well spent. The story is light fun, featuring Max setting out on an adventure to rescue his brother from the evil wizard, Mustachio. The gameplay is smart puzzle platforming that only falls apart when it wants you to do things under pressure (because of the wonky controls). The puzzles are well thought out and might leave you stumped for a few minutes as you attempt to work out how to progress but when you do figure them out there is this greatly rewarding sense of satisfaction that many games lack. Each level features a set of collectibles and I ended up getting about two thirds of them, meaning that completionists might be able to push the playtime upwards even more but I doubt I'll be heading back in any time soon.

Recommendation: For fans of puzzle platformers and anyone looking for something new and different to play on the Xbox One.

Full review to appear on Critically Sane later this week.

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Critically Sane's Top 10 Games of 2013

It is the end of the year, which means that it is time to look back and reflect on the best games of the past 365 days. We checked our weapons at the door, got Jeff and Fozzy all liquored up, and came up with the 10 games we, as a collective whole, felt were the best of the year. Enjoy.

10. Saints Row IV

Saints Row the Third took genre expectations and flipped them on their head. By the end of that game, the Saints Row franchise had lost any sense of seriousness and it proved a better game than its predecessors because of it. But how does one follow up ridiculousness turned up to 11 already? Why, by turning it up to 12 of course. Saints Row IV takes everything from its predecessor and ups the crazy quotient. It is a game that starts out with you literally riding an Armageddon bomb while Aerosmith’s “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” plays and then you become the President, get super powers and smoke dope out of a light bulb. In short, the game is fun, in the most crassly absurd way possible. ~Chris Scott

9. Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock is one of the most beloved games of this fading generation, placing at number 2 on our list. So it was no surprise when the follow-up project by its creator Irrational Games quickly became one of the most anticipated games of 2013. But so much anticipation often leads to let-down. Thankfully, Bioshock Infinite mostly avoided that, delivering another uniquely weird Bioshock adventure. Like Rapture before it, entering Columbia is a magical moment and like Rapture, the floating city is as much a character in the story as anyone else. It is a place with wonder, both joyous and deadly, around every corner, making Columbia a place one wants to explore fully even if the mechanics still leave a bit to be desired. ~Chris Scott

8. Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is one of the most ingenious games I have ever played. It harkens back to an era where games determined your skills at the controller. Platforming and 2D combat with weapons and skills take some finesse, all of which made me feel like I was in the 90s again. But what Rogue Legacy does masterfully is blend that nostalgic gameplay with whimsical visuals, and most importantly, a character development system. Oh, you die each time you head into the castle. When you come out, however, you spend that hard earnedmoney on upgrades before treking back in for more. I simply couldn’t put the controller down when I played Rogue Legacy, it was always “just one more haul.” ~ Don Parsons

Read the rest over at Critically Sane.

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Going the Distance - Extra Life 2011

Last year I took part in the Extra Life 24 hour video game marathon. For those that don't know Extra Life is a gaming marathon that helps generate donations for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. When I heard about it last year I knew I had to do it, not so much because I love playing games and this gives me an excuse to play them 24 hours straight, but more so because my youngest daughter had to have life saving surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when she was just six weeks old and as a thank you I want to help pay them back in some way. Extra Life gives me that opportunity.

However my just playing games for 24 hours doesn't help anyone unless I get people to sponsor me by donating money to the charity. There is this scene in Jerry Maguire where Jerry (Tom Cruise) is talking to Rod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in a locker room trying to convince Rod that he needs to lose the tough guy attitude so that he can actually work out a contract with the Arizona Cardinals. He blatantly asks Rod, “Help me, help you”. Now picture yourself as a half clothed Cuba Gooding Jr. and picture me as a fully clothed Tom Cruise. All of this would of course be circa 1996 so I am not crazy Cruise and you are not Cuba “I appear in bad straight to video thrillers” Gooding Jr. But now envision the scene differently. I’m not there to help you get a contract with the Arizona Cardinals; instead I am here to help you donate money to sick kids. Help me, help you, help them. While Extra Life recommends a donation of a dollar per hour that is not a requirement.

Like last year I will be live streaming my activities on http://tinychat.com/ignbloggers and I'd love for you guys to drop by and keep me company by talking or playing some games with me.

I understand money is tight with everyone but if you can spare a bone, click the link below it would be greatly appreciated.

http://www.extra-life.org/participant/kariyanine

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The Perfectly Sane Show Ep. 26: Estrogen Injection

This week the crew is joined by the lovely Ms. Sarah Strickler infusing the guys with some perspective from the fairer sex. Of course with a female around Jeff gets a little out of control, threatening to douse Sarah in paint thinner, and has to be calmed down via giant darts filled with estrogen. Ok so maybe THAT didn’t happen but we do talk about Dead Space 2, NBA 2K11, and Killzone 3 before discussing the week’s news in the first segment. In the second segment we discuss some thought provoking topics and answer the mail. Get it here.

The audio quality is a little all over the place in this episode and that makes Chris a sad panda.

Music in this episode:

Strike of the Devil’s Axes OC ReMix by CarboHydroM & LuIzA
Filmscore by The Dino Haak*
I’m Taking It Back by TJ Nekko

*Music licensed from Magnatune.

E-mail comments (or questions) to perfectlysane@vagary.tv or follow us on Twitter.

Sarah – mush_rooms
Tony – iamnapoleon1066
Jeff – JustSomeDude899
Cyrus – FozzyTehGamer
Chris – kariyanine

Perfectly Sane Show


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ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 – Episode 26 – get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes and The Movie Dudes - Episode 3 at Vagary.tv.

Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow:
???
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo), Dead Nation (PS3)
Currently Listening To: Alter Bridge’s AB III
Currently Reading: Gears of War: Anvil Gate by Karen Traviss
Currently Anticipating: Killzone 3
Halo Rank: Major Grade 3
Bad Company 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 45

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Leveling Up in a Different Direction

 

As I sat waiting for my daughters’ to finish their dance lesson this morning I was sitting playing a copy of Final Fantasy IX on my PSP Go. Something struck me as odd about the situation, while I was playing what I would argue is the best of the PSOne era Final Fantasy titles, I was also doing something I find tedious and boring when I sit at home to play games on my television. That something of course was level grinding.

Level grinding has been a core piece of the JRPG puzzle for me since I began playing them back on the Nintendo Entertainment System with the likes of Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. There always came a point where I just could not move forward without grinding out a few levels and upping my character stats. Honestly it was never something I gave much thought to, it was part of the game and how it was played.

Somewhere along the line though things changed. My best recollection of where it changed for me was around Final Fantasy X. While I do remember having to do some grinding in that game, it seemed nowhere near the level of excess I had to endure in the past. It was more streamlined and delivered more on the promise of cinematic gaming than anything had before it but in doing so it also diminished my desire to spend half my time with a game grinding out levels.

The way I play games has changed. Games like Mass Effect 2 are more appealing to me now than something like Final Fantasy XIII. Some of that just comes with my taste in storytelling having matured but a lot of it comes from the way the games themselves are designed and how I want to spend my time when I am playing on my couch.

Of course this all begs the question of why do I have no problem grinding out levels while I play my PSP but would rather jab my eyes out with hot pokers before playing a like-styled game on my PS3? Personally I think the answer is quite obvious. Level grinding is throw away time and while I sit and wait, I am doing nothing more than letting that time slip away so why not do a little bit of level grinding to make it easier for me to progress the story later on. It was a nice realization to come to and one that has great implications on future Japanese RPGs designed in the classic style, at least for me.

A lot of the gaming community has vocally admonished JRPGs for their reluctance to evolve from what they were. I do not need them to evolve into something different, I just need them to shift where they are trying to target me. Stop trying to get my 360 or PS3 purchases, get me on the handheld and I think we might all be able to coexist peacefully. At least I know I will.

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ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 – Episode 22 – get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes and The Movie Dudes – Episode 1 at Vagary.tv.

Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow: Week in Movies #2
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: Alter Bridge’s AB III
Currently Reading: Gears of War: Anvil Gate by Karen Traviss
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 20

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Gritty Schmucks in the Town Think Horoscopes are Stupid

This week Jeff and I launch The Movie Dudes and of course deliver the latest installment of The Perfectly Sane Show (with Fozzy and Tony).

In the the first episode of The Movie Dudes, Jeff and Chris review True Grit, Dinner for Schmucks, The Town, and talk about Matt Damon being a creeper, Chris being too forgiving, as well as quick hits of Season of the Witch, The Beach, Predators, and The Last Exorcism. Get it here.

And on The Perfectly Sane Show the crew sits down to discuss some more of Just Cause 2, the buggy RPG Venetica, and Saw: The Videogame. Then they get into their most anticipated games of 2011, where they realize that there are a lot of good games coming out this year. And finally they discuss the Madden franchise by way of games we hate for no reason. Get it here.

We also give the first piece of the Vagary network scavenger hunt, which you will need if you want a chance to win a Kinect.

Music in this episode:
Strike of the Devil’s Axes OC ReMix by CarboHydroM & LuIzA
The Order by Roots of Rebellion*
Legend by Roots of Rebellion*

*Music licensed from Magnatune.

E-mail comments (or questions) to perfectlysane@vagary.tv or follow us on Twitter.

Tony – iamnapoleon1066
Jeff – JustSomeDude899
Cyrus – FozzyTehGamer
Chris – kariyanine

Perfectly Sane Show

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ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 – Episode 22 – get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes and The Movie Dudes - Episode 1 at Vagary.tv.

Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow:
???
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: Alter Bridge’s AB III
Currently Reading: Gears of War: Anvil Gate by Karen Traviss
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 20
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Random Grab Bag

 

I am not a huge anime fan. The genre intrigues me, because of my animation background, but I’ve never really be enthralled but any of it. On the other hand Devil May Cry is a series I have long held a good bit of appreciation for, and yes I even liked DMC2. When I found out a DMC anime had been produced I put it on my queue, despite knowing I would probably not like it one bit.

I generally watch over my Netflix queue like a hawk, moving and shifting titles around as I see fit. Devil May Cry kept creeping towards the top of the list and I kept relegating it back down. But then I got lazy and despite seeing the warning signs I left the list fulfill its destiny and now I have the Devil May Cry anime in my possession.

I could be like a lot of Netflix customers and put the disc on top of my DVD player and wait until the mood to watch the series washes over me. Netflix would undoubtedly love this as I am what some might consider a low tier power user of the service (unlimited 3 discs at a time service with a high turnover) but I can’t sit back and let it knowingly waste my money so I watched it or more accurately am watching it as I type this post out.

There is no easy way to say this but Devil May Cry is kind of a giant turd. Dante seems like a naive sap, Trish is nowhere to be seen (two episodes in) and for some reason (which is kind of explained) Dante is playing babysitter to a young girl who also seems to be the holder of Dante’s balls. I get the fact that the strong point of the game series is not the storytelling but as ridiculous as those stories were, they were at least a blast to play through.

In this anime, there is nothing fun about it. Sure the animation itself is serviceable and the show does have the look of the games down but everything that was cool and fun about the games is gone here. I would love to say that Devil May Cry is a train wreck but it is really nothing more than boring generic anime storytelling at its worst.

Here is hoping the Syfy mini series Tin-Man is a little better (as that should arrive tomorrow).

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ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 – Episode 21 – get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes.

Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow: Movie Dudes Episode 1 (maybe)
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: Alter Bridge’s AB III
Currently Reading: Gears of War: Anvil Gate by Karen Traviss
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 20

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Just Cause 2 and Why It Is Not For Me

  I have heard a ton of great things about Just Cause 2 from a lot of people who's opinions I respect. Still despite months of awesome praise the idea of playing Just Cause 2 just was not appealing to me. I am not the biggest fan of open world gaming and prefer a game with a tighter focus but after finally giving Red Dead Redemption a try and loving a good portion of that game, I felt it was time to give Just Cause 2 a try. Well that and the fact that Gamefly sent it to me as my next game out.

I am not going to beat around the bush, before I even started the game I envisioned I was going to hate it and I said so publicly. I was not wrong. Just Cause 2 is everything everyone said it was, a huge, beautifully realized sandbox to play around in and the mechanics themselves are actually pretty cool. But it is also a game that tries to present a narrative to drive you along and OH LORD it is awful.

I quickly voiced my complaints and was told to ignore the story and just play around in the world and blow stuff up. Unfortunately that just is not the type of gamer I am. I am not one to play in the sandbox unless there is a purpose to me being there. In the case of open world games, that purpose is generally the story progression.

I am the type of gamer that goes from mission to mission, advancing the storyline to get to the end game. Just Cause 2 has a system to its progression and I did not enjoy it at all and worse than that the story might as well not be there because it is told and performed in such a way that I wanted to slit my wrists watching it. OK, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic but I can easily state that it is one of the worst attempts at the GTA style of storytelling ever.


I was told yesterday that I shouldn't complain that the chocolate wasn't fish and just enjoy the chocolate. If you don't get the meaning of that, well it was implying that I shouldn't complain that Just Cause 2 was not anything other than what it is. I would agree with that sentiment completely if Just Cause 2 did not act like a fish. If it was like Crackdown and the story was nothing more than end pieces used to give a purpose to the sandbox I would probably be on board with it. But the story in Just Cause 2 is not that. It is cutscenes before and sometimes after missions with terrible voice acting that is trying to tell a cohesive narrative.

Just Cause 2, much like Saints Row, is not what I want out of an open world game. That doesn't make Just Cause 2 a bad game, it just makes it a game that is not for me. And honestly with all the games that are out there, having a few not work for me makes me appreciate the ones I do like even more.

If you want my “professional” opinion on Just Cause 2 after three hours of play, it is very good. Basically it is Mercs 2 (another title I didn't enjoy for much the same reasons) done well. So if you like playing in sandboxes and blowing stuff up Just Cause 2 might be right up your alley.

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ALL NEW: The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 - Episode 20 - get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes.


Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow: The January Wasteland
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: nothing in particular
Currently Reading: The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 9
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Things That Make Me Go Hmm…

Every once in a while I sit back and think why hasn’t someone done this yet. These are some of the ones I think the most about.

Why hasn’t SquareEnix released Parasite Eve, Parasite Eve 2, Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, and Dragon Warrior VII to the US PSN yet?

Vagrant Story and Xenogears are two of my favorite games from the Playstation generation. With Final Fantasy IX, they were some of the best games produced by Square in that era and add in the PE games, Chrono Cross and DW VII and those are some massive holes being left out of the PSN store. Vagrant Story has been available in Europe for over a year and all of these games are rumored to be coming to the US PSN. But when?

Why hasn’t Sony released Legend of Dragoon on the US PSN yet?

I don’t know if this is available in other territories and if so I hate you but regardless LoD was one of the best non Square developed RPGs from the PSOne era. This would be a prime candidate for sale in the PSN store and I’m sure many would snap it up.

Why doesn’t Sony offer all of their first party releases via the PSN?

Sure Microsoft doesn’t release them day in date with the retail version but they have been getting them out quicker and quicker. What makes matters worse is Sony looked to be moving in this direction with the release of Warhawk, GT5: Prologue and the PSP Go but they seem to be hiding in their shell. I understand the retail relations issues at play and that MS certainly has more clout with retailers than Sony does but still if your closest competitor is doing it, you need to get on board. Look, I don’t give the PSN much credit but purchasing on the network is far easier than doing so on XBOX Live, the fact that Sony isn’t taking advantage of people out there willing to hand over their money makes me scratch my head. Uncharted, Little Big Planet, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, Killzone 2, these all belong on the network for digital purchase.

Why doesn’t Square support digital downloads of their PSP games?

I get it, the PSP is a highly hackable device and piracy is rampant on it. But if people are going to pirate games, they are going to pirate games regardless of if they have to rip the UMD or hack the DRM on a digital copy. The only thing you do by not releasing your software digitally is hurt your sales. At this point if I can’t buy it off the PSN I don’t bother with it. I know that Brian Leahy at Shacknews is of the same mindset, so I know I am not the only one.

That is about it for tonight but I’m sure more things that make me go hmm…

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ALL NEW:
The Perfectly Sane Show: Volume 2 – Episode 20 – get it at Vagary.tv or iTunes.

Hit up my friends Game Over and TeaBagRadio.

Coming Tomorrow:
Just Cause 2 and Why It Is Not For Me
————

Currently Playing:
Final Fantasy IX (PSOne on PSPGo)
Currently Listening To: nothing in particular
Currently Reading: The Emperor’s Tomb by Steve Berry
Currently Anticipating: Little Big Planet 2
Halo Rank: Captain Grade 3
Bad Comapany 2 Rank: 11
CoD: Black Ops Rank: 9

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