Shameless Gaming Month, July 2012 – update

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In an amazing turn of events, I finished off Explodemon this week as part of Shameless Gaming Month ๐Ÿ˜€

While the last boss was cheap and mean, it was a delightful end to an otherwise excellent retro-inspired platformer. The razor-sharp 1080p goodness, unbelievable chiptune-inspired soundtrack and variety of homages to Capcom, Konami and Treasure platformers (as well as a bit of Yoshi’s Island in there too!) made it worth the collective headbutt on the final encounter.

I’ve talked about the game previously, but dug up a couple of interesting bits on the game others might find interesting – there’s an amazing blow-by-blow account of the game’s development at one bit beyond, and an excellent interview and review at PlayStationLifeStyle.net. Oh, and there’s also the official website too.

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I want to be an Awesomenaut

Watch that video. Bask in the delightful theme song that heralds back to my youth, where a chubby ranga with a gimpy leg (me!) would stare in delight as television taught me about (token) multiculturalism, technology, family values, science, environmentalism (thanks CG!) and capitalism.

I have no idea what Awesomenauts is, aside from it featuring an amazing title song and that it plays in two dimensions.

But that’s enough for me. I showed that clip to Wifey, who made the comment “Wow, it looks like a game made by people like you”.

You know what? She’s right.

If you want to be an Awesomenaut too, it’s coming out this week on PSN and XBLA. Props to Silicon Era for posting the trailer last week.

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Jet Set Radio HD on the way, Skies of Arcadia and Shenmue next?

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Huge thanks to CG over at the Madboards for the heads-up – according to Gematsu (here and here), a Sega source has unofficially confirmed that HD ports of Shenmue 1 and 2 have been finished up for well over a year, pending a decision on where the franchise will be going.

Unbelievable news.

No technical details have been leaked, but given past Dreamcast HD ports, I’ll make the assumption we’ll see a widescreen-enhanced 720p port of Shenmue 1 and 2 coming via PSN and XBLA. In a perfect world, Sega would also make the games entirely bilingual so we can swap to Japanese audio. As amusing as the terrible dubbing in the first game was, it’ll be nice to play it in Japanese with English text – to date I’ll admit to having played through the Japanese version of Shenmue on the DC a few times, and there were a couple of spots where I struggled owing to my rubbish command of Japanese… though some perseverence won out ๐Ÿ™‚ To my credit, I don’t recall hitting any FAQs for those playthroughs either, which I thought was cool.

Shenmue 2 is another story – there wasn’t a localised version available in the US owing to some exclusivity rights courtesy of Microsoft, but in PAL territories we (unexpectedly) won out with a Japanese language/English text localisation which was fantastic to play through. While the Xbox port apparently looked a bit nicer, the language was locked to the English dub, which is a downer in my view.

Where the stories get interesting is that it suggests Sega are sitting on the games while they decide what they want to do with the franchise, perhaps indicating Shenmue 3 may actually see the light of day? As long as they can port the Yakuza game engine to the XB360, that would probably give enough tools to allow Shenmue a release on current platforms without too much legwork.

Beyond this, the news on Skies of Arcadia is an extra splash of awesome – Rieko Kodama’s amazing RPG deserves a HD port at the least, and a full remake with all the trimmings preferably (or perhaps a sequel?). The game was arguably one of the best RPGs of the previous generation, with the superb Valkyria Chronicles taking in plenty of motifs that subtley (and not-so-subtley) hint at its inheritance of Skies’ DNA (the other big contributor is of course the Sakura Taisen series; given the development team behind Valkryia Chronicles though, the above historical linkages make perfect sense).

If the news of these HD ports prove true, it would would mark a remarkable return to form for Sega, demonstrating the company’s ability to start treating its strong back-catalogue with the kind of respect they deserve (perhaps the first time post-corporate takeover/bail out), especially by returning to the fanbase that did its best to keep the company afloat during its difficult years. Sonic CD on PSN/XBLA, Sonic Generations, Sonic 4: Episode 2, Jet Set Radio HD, Shenmue 1 and 2 HD, Skies of Arcadia HD, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown… and now the possibility of Shenmue 3?

Bring on the blue skies.

Although following the progressive manner in which they approached Sonic CD, it would be amazing if they followed suit with Bombergames’ superb Streets of Rage Remake v5. Now that’s a title that would be amazing to have in sprite-blocky glory on my PS3.

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Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 trailer looks fun

So, the above is a teaser trailer for Sonic 4: Episode 2, and it does look much better than episode 1, which I downloaded a while back and find myself hating the more I played it. For every step that made the game fun and exciting, it followed up with cheap deaths and terrible stage design that was more interested in punishing you rather than giving you options to explore without the fear of death nipping at your heels. The controls were also a bit wonky, the music needed work (Gecko Yamori remixed the first stage’s song on the Mega Drive’s audio chipset and it sounded so much better) and the fact you lose speed when you’re in a spin (and coupled with the face you break out of a spin when you roll into the air – WTF?) broke the entire game, at least in my book. That’s probably part of the reason why I still haven’t finished it, which I really want to do before episode 2 comes out.

So, it’s with mixed feelings that I’ve watched the above preview, because after Sega’s double-whammy at Christmas in the guise of two excellent Sonic games (Sonic Generations and Sonic CD on PSN/XBLA), I’m hoping we might get a better, more refined and enjoyable Sonic title with this release.

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Setting goals

Yes, I’m still here ๐Ÿ™‚ A busy January has kept me from jumping back in, so let’s see how February goes. It also means my favourite blogs (all linked on the right) have had multiple updates I need to catch up on.

In thinking how to start off this year I thought about setting goals and how that plays into my gaming habits. I often overwhelm my spare time with a multitude of things, some of which is productive, some of which isn’t. Taking on big projects should be done accordingly, without going overboard.

So, with all of this in mind, I thought I’d make a few goals for this year:

Blog:

  • Update at least once a week; possibly two if I’m being ambitious ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Catch up on some tutes – I have stacks of photos from some Mega Drive 2 mods (including doing the colour mod), Famicom AV mod tute, Saturn Virtua Gun button repair mod and probably a few others I’ve forgotten.
  • Start posting up gaming session images using the video capture thingie I bought ages back.
  • Make some video tutes showing how to hack Phantasy Star: Generation 1 and Generation 2 on the PS2.

Gaming:

  • Play through Phantasy Star 2 in Easy Mode on the Sega Ages Phantasy Star Collection on the PS2.
  • Catch up on downloadable titles on PSN/XBLA.
  • Play more old games, especially Famicom stuff.
  • Get better at Panzer Dragoon Zwei to relive my past glory/skills ๐Ÿ˜€

Modding:

  • Finish my Famicom mod (need to swap in a fresh transcoder) and fix the controllers.
  • Replace the dead cart slot in my Saturn.
  • S-video mod my SMS2.

Projects:

  • Rebuild my gutted Taito Space Invaders cocktail cabinet that’s been gutted and sitting idle for well over 12 months.
  • Finally build the huge switchbox I’ve been wanting to assemble for a few years now.

Shopping:

  • Fellow retro gamer Frank might have convinced me to look into getting a Twin Fami owing to its amazing composite video output; will definitely consider it if the composite video mod on my Famicom doesn’t look comparable.

Oh, and those last two projects will be covered in full on the blog ๐Ÿ˜€

In addition, there’s also the usual domestic stuff – Wifey has been extremely patient for the last couple of years while I’ve landscaped and irrigated in the gardens, and this year it’s time to start inside the house, so the above will have to be done in conjunction with the house renovations ๐Ÿ™‚

Hopefully by putting these down, it will encourage me to actually tackle the issues and not flounder around staring in wonder at the nerdy pile of carts and floppy disks in the nerd room instead of doing something more productive… which happens more often than it really should ๐Ÿ˜‰

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