Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God bless the Xbox Live Marketplace.

One of thew things that sucks about being a freelance artist (aside from the burpy cash flow) is that it leaves little time for actually playing games, especially anything as long-winded as Twilight Princess (which has been collecting dust for the better part of a month).

I have been tinkering around with quite a bit of Wii Sports however (199 bowling score last night, BOOYEAH!), some Virtual Console games, and much more importantly - my brand-spanking new Xbox 360. The funny thing about that is that because my time (and cash flow) has been so scattershot recently, I've been using the console almost exclusively to download bite-sized game demos, who'se 10-15 minute-time-duration is custom suited to my current work schedule. (That didn't keep me from picking up a used $15 of Perfect Dark Zero, though, which is a sordid tale in of itself. Bleh.)

Anyway, a quick recap of my most recent week in gaming:

- Lost Planet (XB360): A fucking fantastic little demo, despite the fact that combat with ice monsters ("shoot the glowing spot!") and energy-lozenge/health system is about as sophisticated as anything you'd see in a 20 year old NES game. The game's graphics (and creature animation, in particular) are fantastic, and the sound design is top-notch. I only hope the finished game features as much mech-based combat as the demo does. Christ, I sound like a plant.

- Gunstar Heroes (VC): Hey, this game actually lives up to some of the hype spewed by it's rabid cult following! It's the lovechild that Contra/Ninja Gaiden/Metal Slug would've producedh after a 3-day long clusterfuck in the Bahamas.

- Alien Crush (VC): Only one pinball map for $6? Feh!

- Ice Hockey (VC): Not nearly as good as my 12-year-old self remembers it being, but what can you do? The Skinny/Medium/Fat team-building dynamic still cracks me up, though.

- Dead Rising (XB360): Holy fucking Christ on a crutch, folks werent kidding when they were kicking and screaming about how stupidly small the text in this game is. How hard would it have been for Capcom to let the player toggle the text output depending on his/her television's resolution? Again, feh.

That said, the demo of Dead Rising is pretty fantastic (bowling balls! baseball bats! katanas!), though I have the sneaking suspicion that the full game is little more than the demo spread across more mall acreage and punctuated with more god-awful cutscenes. Thanks, but no thanks.

- Perfect Dark Zero (XB360): Yeah, I went ahead and picked this up despite all warnings to the contrary - what can I say? I was a huge fan of Goldeneye/PD on the N64, and I thought this game might recapture at least a little bit of that magic, but all it really does is make my ass itch.

The funny thing is that PDZ's gameplay isn't really bad at all (crummy level design aside) - it's just that everything *surrounding* the gameplay in seems custom-designed to rape your eyeballs and make you wish you were dead. I know that this was a first-generation game and that Rare was hoping to make as much use of the 360's graphical effects as possible, but why did that mean that every single goddamned texture in the game has look like it'd been shrink-wrapped in 6 inches of plastic wrap? And sure, the writing/story in the first PD game was silly, but PDZ sets a operatic standard for amaingly bad storytelling (a bad guy named "Killlian"> Are you fucking kidding me?)

And don't even get me started about the game's character designs - the simple fact that when you boot up PDZ's deathmatch mode you find yourself in the guise of a goggle-eyed teenaged girl wearing Chuck Taylors and 15 pounds of bangles BENEATH some hilariously stupid-looking Lazer Tag armor (complete with bicycle helmet!)...well, that pretty much says everthing about the game you'd ever need to know.

That said, I DID have a pretty productive week on the art side of things, and managed to finish a few strips that'll be part of a new game-related webcomic that I'll be launching on Christmas day:


—J said...

All of the thumbnail links seem to go to tincity1.jpg.

cookiecups said...

Hi Bill!

This is Kathleen! I'm super flattered that you're using us kids from 1UP with your art and comic! I wanted to tell you I was totally impressed by it.
Why am I not playing any games, though? :)
I'm so lookin' forward to seeing more.

Mary said...

Totally looking forward to the new comic. :D

James said...

very cool little strips, seems like Nintendo/Sony meets Heros, looking forward to more of these.