Halo Reach and its lame ending.

September 27th, 2010 § 0

I've died countless times in much worse ways than this.

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you haven’t finished Halo Reach and are planning to do so in the future, don’t read this post. Otherwise, read on! ***SPOILER ALERT***

So, let me preface this by saying that I enjoyed Halo Reach. It’s probably the best campaign of the series in terms of tried and true Halo gameplay with the most epic of set pieces. And for all of its greatness, Bungie added a completely unnecessary epilogue level that is unwinnable.

I get it. Let’s make a dramatic/shocking ending by letting your character have no chance at beating the level and then get overwhelmed and killed by Covenant Elites. And then have an epilogue that tells you its the end despite your best efforts to kickass for the last 10 hours but it was all worth it because you paved the way for Master Chief to kill everything in the future and revenge your death. Which leads me to this…

Yeah, we know we’re supposed to die. But showing it is completely unnecessary. There is just no drama in it. Especially when you’ve spent the last couple hours being brutally murdered over and over again by waves of Elites on Legendary, the novelty of being overwhelmed by Elites loses its impact.

Furthermore, it’s very unsatisfying when you’ve spent the whole game overcoming all of these odds only to be unable to overcome this last onslaught of enemies. And really, it’s just a bunch of grunts and a few Elites. It’s almost as if the game is laughing at you.

So yeah, loved the game and it’s still fun to play but like Lord of the Rings, it really should’ve ended at the first ending. There is closure in knowing that you’ve sent Master Chief on his way to clean up the Universe. Some things just don’t need to be spelled out.

Metroid: Other M – Quick Review

September 8th, 2010 § 0

Just finished Metroid Other M with 100% completion and I must say, it was a great throwback to the SNES classic.

Metroid Other M for the Nintendo Wii

While I thoroughly enjoyed the Metroid Prime series, I always felt that it was missing something. Metroid Prime did all of the right things to bring the Metroid franchise into the First Person space– and it was a blast to play. However, what I think Metroid Other M(or MOM for short) does right is bring back that feel that the 2d games always had. More of a simplicity in controls, less item management to juggle. When you upgrade, you retain all of the abilities and their characteristics at all times. In other words, you get stronger and stronger as you play without having to switch modes in order to achieve something.

While the Prime series retained a lot of the feeling of Metroid in its transition to First Person, it also became more complicated in its abilities management between visors and weapons.

There is an attempt to humanize Samus’ character and, while cheesy, does work to some degree. There are a couple of interesting plot twists that nod back to older games– and you can tell that the inspiration for this game really did come from the SNES classic. Even in the opening sequence, there is a shot that is pretty much frame for frame of the mode 7 flight sequence in the beginning of Super Metroid. Also, seeing the ending of Super Metroid rendered in full CGI was a nice treat.

Metroid Other M has so many nods and throwbacks to Super Metroid that it's hard not to appreciate it.

I didn’t have as many control issues as a few reviewers had pointed out, though it was awkward that you couldn’t move around while in first person mode. You always felt vulnerable because you couldn’t actively strafe while shooting.

The bottle ship structure and layout felt very much like Metroid Fusion for the GBA in the sense that you were in a contained ship that had different environments, though not the diversity and scale of a planet. Also, it played very linearly as well. There really is an intended path through the game made much more apparent by the way points that are constantly given to you. So, while it lacks that sense of exploration like Super or Zero Mission, it does make for a more casual gaming experience(the many save points help as well).

Other M plays a lot like a suped up Metroid Fusion for the GBA-- from its setting to its near-linear play structure.

The music/sfx are classic Metroid– many themes from Super come back orchestrated and sound really cool along with the classic sounds of the hyper beam and bombs, etc.

All in all, if you were a fan of Super Metroid, this game is definitely for you. Just ignore the story part and play it like you would the original and you’ll be in for a 10 hour Metroid throwback for the present day Metroid fan.


August 15th, 2010 § 0

Created by Bryan Lee O'Malley and directed by Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim is a stylish, fast and funny love letter to our generation.

Scott Pilgrim VS The World is tanking at the box office despite rave reviews and a lot of hype from the internet community. This makes me sad.

I watched a midnight show of the movie on Thursday night and I have never LOL’d so much so frequently in a movie theatre. Scott Pilgrim is the brainchild of Bryan Lee O’Malley and wonderfully directed/translated to the big screen by Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright. Its visual style, pacing and sensibilities are very much like that of a videogame and manga rolled up into one. Every moment, every action, every transition is kind of ADD– but it works. If you grew up playing Nintendo, PC games, etc, you’ll find a lot to like about the sensibilities of this flick.

As an artist/creator/storyteller back when the internet was pretty much in its infancy– this was a time when all of the artists/creators shared a special bond. Pixel Art, Anime(as a rarity, i.e. the Golden Era), pre-realistic/crude CGI, mouse driven cg coloring were all the norm back then. As artists, we were all fans struggling to create things that we loved in a time when media and entertainment required more of an imagination than the types of things we get to experience today. We all got our hands dirty and did the best with what we had as we pushed forward into unknown territory. The ensuing years would be a renaissance of the entertainment medium in general. The combination of the internet, computer imagery and social media gave new grounds for every artist to be able to present their creative vision to countless people around the world if that person pushed themselves. Over the years, while some have floundered, others have taken things to new levels, broke new ground and have found some mild successes.

Bryan O’ Malley is one of us. To me, his efforts with Scott Pilgrim represent to the online creator what is possible if you stick with something you love and believe in. The fact that his work was able to grab the attention of such a great director like Wright, while also getting the backing and funding from a major Hollywood studio is something that all creators strive for — To have their work shown to a mainstream audience around the world and to receive some sort of recognition that comes from all of that hard work and dedication.

It’s a shame that this movie isn’t doing better. Whether it be marketing or the fact that the movie may be to niche-y. Whatever the case, if you have any affinity for retro videogames, comics and over the top manga-esque storytelling, I highly urge you to give it a chance. You’ll have a fun time and also keep some dreams for aspiring creators alive as well.

Click on the image above to go to the official Scott Pilgrim Movie website.

San Diego Comic Con 2010: The Aftermath

July 30th, 2010 § 2

San Diego Comic Con was pretty crazy this year. So many things to do and see and I got to miss all of it working at the Udon and the Capcom booth. :D

Hope you guys enjoy this small gallery of images from this year…



Kilian and Joe draw VO in action! ^_^

June 18th, 2010 § 0

Was digging through some old convention materials and found this drawing that was given to me at PAX last year.

Click to Enlarge

PAX 09 was probably one of my busiest cons ever as I broke my Miami Book Fair record of 85 sketches in one day. On Saturday, the busiest day at PAX, I did 120 convention sketches in one day. Kilian and Joe were watching me sweat it out and decided to draw me something to express their appreciation. Thanks guys! I’m sorry it took me this long to put this up. ^_^;;;;

See you guys at PAX again this year if you are there!

Contra-style shooter with BlazeBlue/Guilty Gear graphics? SOLD!

June 3rd, 2010 § 0

Click for story on Kotaku!

I’m surprised they didn’t think of this sooner. Arguably, Guilty Gear and Blaze Blue by Arc System Works have some of the best sprites ever made for HD(ish). To have a side scrolling shoot em up with graphics like that is enough to make any sprite fan mad with anticipation. Let’s hope that the animation takes some notes from the Metal Slug games and we’ll be set!

Lucky number 8?

May 25th, 2010 § 0

In Chinese culture, the number 8 is a very “lucky” number. Countless Chinese friends of mine all have phone numbers with a series of 8′s in it. I heard that a phone number consisting of all 8′s in China was sold for like hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Then I read this story about how the phone number in Europe consisting of all 8′s was suspended because the last 3 owners of that number died within 10 years…

And then Chinese all around the world went O_O …

Stephen King + Max Payne = Alan Wake

May 19th, 2010 § 0

Played a little bit of Alan Wake yesterday. So far, it plays pretty much like Max Payne without the bullet time(afterall it was made by Remedy- the guys behind Max Payne). The character models/rigging, the movement, even the sound effect of a door you can’t open sounds exactly the same. Sure, there’s the new light em up before you shoot em thing which is kinda neat and they gave you bullet time in the form of bullet time dodging, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing Max Payne again after all these years. Graphics(not including the characters) are pretty sweet. Characters are modeled so bad though that they really look like mannequins with awkward mouthing motions. The saving grace is the effects are especially cool with the black stormy cloud thingy that messes stuff up in the world in real time. I am also digging the episodic nature of each level as well as the little tidbits of videos in the videoscreens that harken back to the dark/creepy/weird themes in old school pc games.

RIP: Courier — The Ipad I would’ve used…

May 4th, 2010 § 0

Oh Microsoft Courier, you never even had a chance to come out…

Don’t get me wrong, the Ipad is a very cool device for what it is. But, a common comment I hear from a lot of artists like me is “If it has a stylus, I would pick it up in a heartbeat.”
You see, the Iphone works on so many levels because it is something you can take with you. You use it on the go and it satisfies all your internet/media itches and let’s you kill time anywhere you want to. I could be wrong, but I’d venture to say that most people use their Ipads at home or at some static location. If I am at home, I’d rather just surf on my desktop and have the full capability of doing whatever I want to on the web. At home, if I want to play games, there are many fuller and richer experiences to be had on my Xbox 360 or my PS3.
I think, as artists, we want to have something that can act as a digital sketchbook that we can take on the go. And painting with your fingers on the Ipad is like, well… finger painting. We don’t really do that anymore(at least not since elementary school).
When I first saw the Courier previs vids, I was ecstatic. Here we have a device that promises unlimited sketching/brainstorming potential and also let’s you document and save all of your inspirations digitally while also giving you access to your media on the go. I’m sad to hear that the Courier has been canned– I think many artists would’ve liked to have one. Rest in Peace, Courier…

Halo Reach Beta: First Impressions

May 4th, 2010 § 0

Got to play the Halo: Reach Beta today for about an hour. First impressions — Feels alot like Halo 3. Sure, controller layout has changed slightly, but the graphic fidelity doesn’t seem that much better(if at all) and sounds are exactly what you would expect from Halo. Movement feels slightly faster, but barely perceptible.

New weapons, I like the feel of the needler rifle. The new replacement for the battle rifle doesn’t seem much better than the standard machine gun– though admittedly, placing headshots has never been my strong suit during multiplayer.

Armor abilities – sprinting is only good for sneaking up behind someone for a melee kill. Rocket pack either makes you a floating target or lets you get the drop on someone. Shield seems useful to some degree. And cloaking doesn’t really matter in any of the oddball or skull modes since you get a big number over your head showing off where you are anyways.

I left feeling not too impressed overall. Just seems like more game modes for Halo 3 with no duel wielding. You die so often in the game that health packs are pretty much useless. By the time you even get to one, you’re probably already dead and respawned. I do like how some of the game modes are designed to funnel players into each other. However, after a while it just becomes a carousel of death that repeats with no real strategy to it. Perhaps this will change with the more objective based modes scheduled for the later release.

What do you think of the beta so far?

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