Torchlight: #1 for Cats

I'm replaying Torchlight, to I guess get a little hyped up for the Diablo III launch... whenever that happens.

Turns out my cat loves this shit and is crawling all over the desk and me to watch more of it. I think if I don't get back to it he's gonna be disappointed.

Just wanted to update the GB community on what games cats are loving these days.


Recettear - The Other Side of JRPG World

I started Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale today. After getting through the demo yesterday I knew I had to give it a shot, and I'm having a blast.
Recettear is an impossibly cute RPG in which the main character is pressed into opening an item shop in your stereotypical JRPG town. At first it's pretty simple, and as you're slowly introduced to the mechanics, each game day, it broadens into a super-fun and addictive management/adventuring hybrid, sort of like Harvest Moon meets a SNES-era Action-JRPG like Zelda: LTTP, Illusion of Gaia, or Terranigma. About half of the time, you'll be in the town - either in your shop, buying and selling; in the market or merchant's guild, gathering inventory; or in another part of town, for little (presumably optional) cutscene / plot points. The other half of the time, you'll be controlling one of the adventurers you contract to find you items, venturing out into the world, fighting monsters and bosses and who knows what else.
At first you can only contract with a poor warrior with a beat-up sword, but you can equip your adventurers with items from your inventory to beef them up for your forays, which is a really interesting way to have the two game halves connect. When you're not adventuring with them, they'll even come into your item shop to buy new supplies and sell what they've found -- and even though they might not be as rich as your other customers, sometimes you'll want to cut them a deal to make sure they don't die out there!
It's hard to explain exactly why I'm having such a blast with Recettear. It's not mentally taxing, really, but it's got just enough going on to be really easy to pick up, and the localization is fantastic (by a first-time-out indie team, Carpe Fulgur.) I get a kick out of interacting with the residents of the town, and the action RPG side of the game feels very solid. The difficulty of the questing ramps up at a good pace to feel challenging but not unfair, and there seems to be a combo-chaining system as well, though I haven't gotten into it enough to find out yet. You get XP bonuses for side, back, and counter attacks, and the way the monsters react to swings and hits, together with your character's animations, mesh well. It's still just "tap Z to attack, tap X for special", but I've read that things get more complicated when you're able to contract spellusers and other classes.
Recettear is available on Steam as of today! Try out the demo, also available there. It's definitely worth a try, if you're into classic JRPGs at all. Unless you can't stand cute anime stuff, then run away screaming. But it's still fun, damn it.
I'll post a full review once I get through, but I have no idea how long that'll be - I'm not even through week 2 in the game yet! Damn loan shark fairies...
UPDATE: And if you've tried Recettear and found some things weird, there was an update yesterday or so. It's automatic on Steam, but if you grabbed it from other sources (GamersGate or whatever) you can get the patch from CF here.


Blur beta impressions: fast, neon, and awesome.

Blur feels like, deep down at its roots, a classic game. There's no dignified voiceover guy (*cough*forza*cough) telling you in serious tones about how to tune your car. There's no (*cough*mario*cough*) characters yelling when they spin out. There's no goofy story (*cough*needforspeed*cough*) even necessary. You're in a fast car, you have missiles, and everything is neon. No one needs to tell you what to do. This is a video game. Hit the gas, shoot your guns, and go.
Instantly you can tell the game is about speed. The art style is fantastic, from the countdown at race start to the instantly-recognizable Tron-like projectiles. You get in a game, you vote on a track, you take a quick look at your car (if you want), and bang, you're racing. There's no handholding, and it doesn't seem necessary. Each powerup is very straightforward: short-range blast, long-range homing missile, 3-shot dumb missile, turbo, shield, repair, mine. We all know how this works. It's practically in the blood of anyone who's picked up a controller in the past 20 years.
The action is constant. You get a few seconds at the beginning of relative peace as you and up to 20 cars bang around through the first turn or two, and then everyone rank 3 or higher (and yes, ranks work pretty much exactly Modern Warfare 2) who's equipped it will have their Bribe mod activate, which gives them a free random powerup at the beginning. Remember you're in a lump of cars at this point - everything explodes. And it continues exploding, constantly, until the finish line -- when everyone who's got anything left in their inventory drops it, and ends the race with even more explosions. Even in last place - and I've never had so much fun being in last place - you are constantly jockeying for the right angle to get a Shunt (homing missile) onto whoever is unlucky enough to be in second-last. And on it goes.
The matchmaking is a little sketchy right now, but this beta is about testing and improving network code, so that's to be expected. Joining a room mid-race means you sit around staring at the  screen for a few minutes while everyone finishes up. I've been disconnected a few times. But I don't see why those issues can't be worked out before release.
I don't know the last game that got me this impressed this quickly. I don't think it needs a single-player mode. In the state it's in right now, it is pure video game, in all its arcade-y, bright, crazy glory, and it's great.


Giant Bomb: The TV Show

The new Bombcast theme is awesome. So awesome that I couldn't listen to it without thinking, "damn, that sounds like it would make a great opening to a TV show..."  


The Awesome of Shadow Complex

"Hey, whoa, it's like Blackthorne. No wait, it's Out of This World. Wait, it's Metal Gear Solid, look at this gear. And I totally brought that guy down with stealth. Wait no it's Metroid, I have missiles!"
This continued as I played this awesome game.
And then, suddenly, it was Zelda. After

I got an item, and never have I wanted the Zelda "mystery solved" music to play so much in a non-Zelda game.
This is a fantastic experience and I never would have tried it if not for Giant Bomb, so thanks guys!