Monday, June 21, 2010

Alpha Protocol Redux, No Frontier, Joe Danger and an 80's Revival  

Games: So my Alpha Protocol review is still stuck in limbo.

Despite liking some of the writing and peripheral elements like the e-mail and consequences of choice, the actual gameplay left me ice-cold. I felt absolutely no motivation whatsoever to continue after having reached the third location, and could see little reason to put up with the clumsy, archaic mess that was the “action”.

Tell me where my gameplay is... NOW!!!

I knew AP was going to be a rough play from the start, but I've championed plenty of oddballs and underdogs in the past and I thought perhaps that this little spy tale would be another one I could get behind. That didn't turn out to be the case. (Yet, anyway.)

I was seriously considering scrapping the review altogether and calling the whole thing done, but after hearing from several people on Twitter and receiving a very detailed explanation of the stealth playstyle from @DarthOdium, I decided to erase my character and start over from the beginning, this time focusing solely on being sneaky.

I began the second playthrough tonight. I haven’t seen the benefits yet, but it’s still early days.

It's pretty rare that I'll give any game a do-over, let alone one that performed so poorly the first time, so Alpha Protocol should count itself lucky that I feel some sort of strange compulsion to give it one more chance. My bar for the game isn’t set very high, and I’m hoping it’ll achieve minimum standard expectations… More to come.


In more “shut up about it already" news, I’ve been hearing lots of conflicting reports about Capcom bringing Monster Hunter Frontier to the Xbox 360. The title has been eagerly awaited by MH fans for quite a while, and seems like it would be a perfect fit for the Live online service.

Curious as to whether or not there was any truth to the chatter, I contacted Capcom directly for the inside scoop and was told very clearly: Capcom has NO PLANS to bring Monster Hunter Frontier stateside at this time.

A shame, perhaps, but if Tri does well enough (and that's a fairly big if) there might be hope yet.


Although tons of people have been talking about it lately, I'd be willing to bet that Joe Danger on PSN has gotten lost amid all the announcements and general chaos that come with every E3.

If you haven't heard about Joe, the easiest way to explain it is that the game is basically Trials HD with cartoony visuals and a difficulty curve that's not nearly as sadistic. The action takes place on a 2D plane with the player controlling a highly maneuverable stunt bike over jumps and through obstacles, and each level has its own set of special requirements. Things like ‘collect all-stars’ or ‘achieve a 100% combo’.

It may not sound like much from that description, but the game is concentrated fun thanks to extremely forgiving controls and a formula that's simple to grasp but not so simple to master. Anyone can blow through levels with a minimum of effort, but completing all of the tasks and going for high scores will definitely take some practice.

My son and I have been playing through the title together, and today was the first time that we hit a Trials-like level of OMFGTHISISSOIRRITATING. To be fair to the game, we were both pulling our hair out over something that was totally not required to progress, we just really wanted to say that we did it. We eventually met the goal, and the feeling of satisfaction for getting that hard-earned gold star was a good one.

We're not done with the game yet, but based on what I've seen so far, I would totally recommend it for anyone, but especially for kids or parent/child playtime. Like I said, it's very easy to blow through the levels so younger ones won’t experience too much difficulty, but there's definitely enough meat on Joe Danger’s bones to keep older players’ interest.


Family: Since my oldest only lives with me for a small part of the year, whenever he's here I sort of see the whole thing as a giant game of catch-up. I keep various lists of things that I want to take him to, or show him, or have him watch. Trying to pass on the family values, as it were...

This time around, we are discovering the cosmic value of Netflix by getting him started on some of the classics that the wife and I enjoyed when we were younger. I am, of course, talking about the A-Team, Knight Rider and Thundercats. (He's been a Transformers fan for years.)

The wife and I haven't watched any of these things since they were new, and the son is seeing them for the first time. I've got to say, it's a totally fascinating experience for everyone involved. For us, we get a tidal wave of nostalgia and a lot of laughs out of seeing how cheesy some things seem in retrospect, or how bad the fashions were. For him, he gets to see completely different philosophies and techniques in television production. He doesn't know exactly why these things are different, but he does know they are.

We're just beginning to immerse ourselves in the shows, but I will say that he has developed an almost immediate fascination with Mr. T, and took to the A-Team as a whole right away. I recently read a blurb in Entertainment Weekly that said the show (at the height of its popularity) drew forty million viewers a week -- more people than watch the American Idol finale show. Seeing the effect it has on my son and how pleasant the episodes are to actually watch even today, it's not hard to see how the series became so popular.

More 80’s revival to come.

What next?

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