Paging the Razzies

Seriously, don’t even bother running the Golden Raspberries next year. Team Xbox have gotten their hands on some photos of the Dead or Alive movie which can be viewed in all their glory (in the loosest possible sense of the word) here. Even if they bring out Swept Away 2 in the next twelve months just give them all to DOA – just take a look at this one and tell me if there’s any way it can possibly come out well.

Castlevania Double Pack

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

My updates to this site have been a little slow recently and although the invariable lack of game news at this time of year is partially to blame, a little bit of responsibility has to be held by Konami. They, after all, released the Castlevania Double Pack for the GBA here last week.

Ever since Circle of the Moon, a GBA launch game that really drew attention to how dark that damn screen was, Nintendo handhelds have been the systems to own for the classic 2D Castlevanias, and a great shelter from the misguided 3D ones. The Double Pack contains the second and third versions – Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow – which are not only the best two but also, due to limited print runs, used to go for £40 each on eBay. Not anymore, when you can now get both on one cart for £25.

Harmony of Dissonance was a real graphical showpiece for the GBA when it came out and it still looks decent now, with some impressive and nifty sprite effects. It’s a really good “classic” Castlevania and reasonably lengthy (took me 11 hours or so to finish with the first ending, but there are two more which I plan to get which should take another couple), but the main criticism I can have for it is that it’s very easy. I didn’t really come close to dying in the whole thing because potions are plentiful, you get fully healed at any of the many save points, and if you use spells the bosses are a simple matter of whipping and waiting until they die.

Aria of Sorrow is the prequel to Dawn of Sorrow on the DS, which was a game that I really liked. While it’s still a 2D Castlevania at heart it kept many of the changes from games like Symphony of the Night by not having a Belmont at the helm (here it’s a vaguely androgynous high school student named Soma Cruz) and doing away with the whip as the only weapon. While adventuring with a variety of swords, knives, and lances, you get to use some mysterious powers that Cruz possesses and will probably have been spoiled for anyone who played Dawn of Sorrow first.

Aria of Sorrow is the better of the two games, not only for having slightly more variety but also for being more of a challenge (I’ve actually died twice). The one side where it does fall down is that I don’t think it looks as good as Harmony – it seems to look a bit more cartoony and Soma’s mincing run animation is a little annoying. Nonetheless I’m a few hours in and have been very much enjoying it.

The GBA has had a sudden influx of budget double packs with some good ones from Sega (the Sonic Advances and Chu Chu Rocket are worth a look), but this one takes the cake. Games that could have cost you £80 only months ago in a pack costing only £25 are an absolute bargain, and the fact that they’re two of the best on the GBA don’t hurt matters. If you have a GBA or DS and don’t own the original releases, buy this pack.

Loading…Please Wait…

I’ve noticed that quite a few PSP games have some atrocious load times (Winning Eleven 9, I’m looking at you), but this really takes the cake. It’s a video showing someone playing – or rather attempting to play – Smackdown vs Raw 2006 on the PSP from booting it up until getting into the first fight of career mode. It literally takes over six minutes because it even has to load the loading screen! It can’t be helping the already poor battery life, either.

The guy probably deserves it for buying a wrestling game, but still it’s either proof that the game was horribly rushed or that optical media isn’t yet the way to go for handhelds. Take your pick.

Ryu ga Gotoku

It might not have been particularly huge news on all the main gaming sites, but I’m very excited by the news that Sega’s recent Japanese action game Ryu ga Gotoku (translates as “Like a Dragon”) will be released in the West under the more marketable name of Yakuza.

As you may or may not have guessed, the reason why I’m excited is not only that it’s supposed to be an excellent game and a return to form for Sega, but because it’s also been called a spiritual successor to Shenmue, a game that I’d rank as my second favourite of all time and that I’m borderline obsessive about. It’s not as slow and doesn’t have the emphasis on exploration and investigation, but it looks nice and I can’t look at this shot without being reminded of certain areas of Shenmue II by night. This is one I’ll be watching keenly over the next few months.

Let’s just hope that the localisation isn’t ruined by horrible voice acting again.

English Ouendan?

Not exactly confirmation, but Go Nintendo is reporting that someone from Nintendo of Europe has let slip that Ouendan, the sixth best game of 2005 (NTSC-uk thought similarly), will come to the UK. It’s a pretty safe bet that if that happened it would make it to the US as well.

Personally I hope that if it comes out outside Japan they leave the actual song sequences untranslated and only change the menus into English. Knowing what on Earth was going on might actually be detrimental to the quirky appeal of the game, so they should at least leave the option of keeping the crazy Japanese-ness intact.

Gotta Love EA

If you need any more proof that EA gets lower every day, check this out from Kotaku:

Imagine my shock when a message popped up telling me that I had to either pay $2 or give my privacy away to ESPN and whoever they feel like selling my details to, if I wanted to play online.

Basically to play the PSP version of Fight Night Round 3 online you either have to pay them $2 from your credit card for “authentication” purposes, or if you don’t have a card/don’t want to give them any more money/don’t want to give your card details over a public wireless network, you have to give them your email and mailing address and opt into the EA/ESPN mailing list. This is in order to use all of the features of a game you’ve just paid $40 for.

Apparently to play the 360 version online it’ll require the blood of your firstborn.