Thursday, January 19, 2012

The PS2 Lives On

When I first discovered emulators in high school I absolutely lost my mind. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen and ever since then I've felt really good about all that stuff. It might not be the most legal thing in the world if you're downloading games you don't own but it seems that emulating up NES or Master System games is a harmless activity.

Anyway, recently I was reminded of the PCSX2 emulator. I tried it way back when it first came out and immediately stopped. It was horrible! The compatibility with games was measly and the games that did run were buggy, slow as sloth messes. Shortly after that I deleted the program and quickly wiped it from my mind.

It's been some years since then though so I thought it was time to try again. The emulator is much harder to set up than most. If you can manage it though then it will be revealed that the PCSX2 emulator has finally grown up. Yes, there's still many incompatible games, but there are a great deal more that do work then don't. If you trust their compatibility guide, at least 1668 known games (this includes different regions of the same games) are completely playable. The best thing about the emulator though is that it can make PS2 games look and perform better than they ever could on actual systems.

I've only tried a few games so far but they both run well. I'm giving the emulator its biggest test by playing through Final Fantasy X. There has been one goofy issue though. During boss fights it seems one character in the party will always be facing away from the enemy. Who knows what causes that, but it's silly to see.

Beyond that, I've resumed ripping my PS2 games to an external drive. Initially that project was started to combat the eventual death of my discs. Sure, I might be amazing with disc care, but it's nice to have some peace of mind as well. What makes this useful though is that PCSX2 works best with disc images rather than running through the disc drive. So, if all my games get digitized I'll have quick and easy access to my PS2 library whenever. I can't wait!

Friday, January 13, 2012

AMY is Sure Getting a Lot of Hate

AMY is a recently published survival horror game for XBLA and PSN. Although it comes out on PSN next week basically anyone in gaming press (or gamers) have checked it out on 360 and have a lot of negative things to say about it.

Mostly, reviewers don't seem split at all. They know what they feel about the game and demonstrate it in the best way they know how - a horrendous score. Now, I've spent around 6 hours with the game so far and it is pretty bad. But is it the worst game ever? Is it worthy of scores of 0 to 3 (yes someone did rate it zero)? Now 1 and 2 seem basically like scores for something that is completely unplayable. AMY is definitely playable - how else would reviewers supposedly beat the game otherwise?

What the game does wrong is how strangely retro it is. It takes from the old school of survival horror design, which was never very popular. No one will ever be found applauding the control scheme and design choices of AMY nor would they be happy about Resident Evil's tank controls. It's so odd that the game is this awkwardly controlled. Did the team play any games in the past few years?

Still, the game works and you can get accustomed to the controls. I have a feeling that most people who put out scathing reviews only sampled the first few chapters. The first few are the most rage-inducing. Even I was seeing red when traversing the same sections of level over and over again due to stupid deaths and mistakes. Taking a full day away from the game though and coming back to it I can see that it is not a steaming pile of poo. It's not good, but it could have been worse. Vampire Rain, Onechanbara, and Siren are three games that come to mind that are in the horror genre and are worse. Yet nobody seems to bring them up. AMY is the "worst game ever!!!!!1!";  except it isn't.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Katawa Shoujo is Too Good

Original Katawa Shoujo artwork

Okay, back when I first heard about Katawa Shoujo I was more than a little concerned. It bloomed out of 4chan, which is well known as a site full of crude, creepy, and immature people. Members of the video game-specific board are always talking about getting into groups and making games, so I mostly just brushed references of this one aside. What set it apart from every other idea that bloomed there weekly before disappearing forever?

I guess it took a great deal of years but the game is finally out now. I wholly expected it to be a very trite dating sim experience which would probably insult a lot of people. Somehow though it's come out and been an amazingly caring experience. The writing isn't the best in the field, but it's a lot better than the majority of officially published releases (which isn't hard to do). Some parts of the game show obvious indie-ness (such as one character being drawn sketchier than the rest) but otherwise it is a very well put together package. There are points when I was very impressed with this as being an indie endeavor - such as some rather high quality animated sequences.

More than anything I was scared of what this game might be. Somehow though it's managed to treat each disabled character just like anyone else. They also seem to have done their research with working out how people adapt around this all. I'm amazed that something born out of 4chan isn't a degenerate piece of work. I think that's what impresses me the most. Even if you didn't know of its roots though the game is already on the list of my more favored VNs. I've not completed it yet but once I do I hope I'm left feeling happy about the game. I expect to write a piece later about how respectful and tasteful this game is sometime next week.
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