Archive for July, 2012

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Point Review: Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD (360, PS3, PC)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Developer: Robomodo
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Extreme Sports
Players: 1 (2-4 online)
Console: Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), PC
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Hours Played: ~6
Progress: Unlocked 6/7 levels in Career mode, tried all other modes including a few online matches

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater (THPS) series has a long and sordid history.  Entries in the THPS series have earned everywhere from a 98 to a 44 average score on Metacritic, and it’s no secret to anyone that their scores have been steadily trending downwards over the years.  Taking elements including levels, music, and move-sets from the first two great entries in the THPS series and mixing in modern graphics and music as well, you’d think that an HD “best of” collection would hearken back to the series’ hey-day and remind us all why we fell in love with it in the first place.  Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?!?!? Read on to see where the downloadable THPS HD belongs in the wide spectrum of Tony Hawk game scores.


5 Reasons You Should Not Look Forward to Pokemon Black/White 2

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Image courtesy of

My esteemed colleague ShinyVictini recently posted an article of 5 Reasons You Should Look Forward to Pokemon Black/White 2.  In the interest of both offering a balanced viewpoint on the upcoming Pokemon games and sharing my own views on the upcoming Pokemon sequels, I present you with 5 reasons not to look forward to Pokemon Black/White 2.  I, of course, invite you to peruse both of our articles and form your own opinion on the matter, but here’s why I’m not excited for yet another DS iteration of Pokemon:


5 Reasons You Should Look Forward to Pokemon Black/White 2

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

It’s official, Pokemon Black and White 2 will be hitting the shelves in North America on October 7th, 2012.  If you’re a Pokemon fanatic, you should easily be all manner of excited for this upcoming hot release.  If you’re only a casual Pokemon gamer however, or if you have fallen out of favour with the core Pokemon series games over the last few years, then this article is for you.  Make no mistake, these upcoming titles will be the most technically accomplished, most feature-filled, best connected, and all-round most fulfilling Pokemon experience ever to grace a Nintendo handheld.  As I’ve pointed out in a previous article, the first Black/White games raised the bar in terms of what the series can deliver.  The developer Game Freak has spent an additional year fine-tuning and expanding their product, and will no doubt raise the bar yet again.  While some people will bitterly complain that they could have been spending that time on more important projects (like 6th Gen Pokemon for 3DS, harumph!), they instead chose to milk a little more out of the geriatric Nintendo DS.  Regardless, if you’re not interested in either of these upcoming titles, you should be, and I’ll tell you why.


Social Log-In is Back!

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Well, that didn’t take very long! We’ve switched social log-in plugins and please feel free to test it out using the sign-in link in the sidebar and tell us how it’s working, as everything seems a-okay now.  We’ve also expanded the usable social networks to include: Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows Live, LinkedIn, and Steam.  If you have any problems connecting to old accounts or accessing your GP contact and we’ll have everything fixed for you in a jiffy.

Social Log-in Upgrades

Friday, July 6th, 2012

The social sign-in solution that we have been using for the past while with Game Usagi has decided to stop working as well as it used to.  Now when you log-in to Game Usagi, either with a password or with a social media account, it appears like you haven’t signed-in until you refresh the page that you’re on.  To fix this, we’re temporarily disabling social log-ins as we move to a new social log-in system that hopefully won’t present as many problems as our current solution.  Please bear with us during this short transition period and we’ll tell you when everything’s back up and running.

Pikmin 3 (Wii U) Impressions

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The longest playtime that we had with any single game at E3 was with Pikmin 3.  Our 10 to 15 minutes with Pikmin 3 afforded us a better than average taste of just what Nintendo has incorporated into this apparently relatively early build of the game.  Being a Wii U game, I’ll start off by discussing what the new system has inherently brought to the table for the Pikmin series. 

The most obvious upgrade that Pikmin has received is a shiny new coat of paint courtesy of the Wii U’s increased horse power.  While it looked nice, as I suspected from the peek at the game we received during Nintendo’s E3 press conference, Pikmin 3 still has a ways to go before I could call the graphics “impressive” or “amazing”.  The GameCube iterations of Pikmin always looked like they were trying to be as photorealistic as possible (at least when considering their environments and items), the Wii U version, while obviously benefiting from the HD resolution insofar as aliasing and texture resolution are concerned, seems to be trying to look more like the GameCube versions than taking full advantage of the Wii U’s copious graphical powers.  It more or less looks like the screenshots you see of the Dolphin Wii/GCN emulator running on high-end computers (ie. very little if any aliasing) than a AAA game you would see running on an Xbox 360 or PS3.  To me, this is just evidence that Nintendo is still out of their depth as far as making truly graphically impressive HD games are concerned.  While I do hope that Nintendo is able to bulk up the game’s graphics to an acceptable level for this generation of gaming (let alone the next generation) before the game’s release, history tells us that this is unlikely, so the most we can reasonably expect from Pikmin 3 is having it look like an up-rezed Wii game.  We’ll just have to hope that Nintendo’s unannounced first party titles for the Wii U do more to graphically take advantage of the system’s specs than the ones that we have seen thus far.

The other improvement that Pikmin has seen thanks to the Wii U of course comes from the GamePad controller — which I wasn’t allowed to use to the control the game.  The GamePad was sitting on a stand in front of the TV giving me an overhead view of the map showing where my Pikmin and various items/enemies were located while I was forced to used the Wiimote/nunchuk controller combo to scoot my non-Olimar character and his minions about.  Using the Wiimote, I found that I never really had the opportunity to glace down or use the GamePad in any meaningful way since I wasn’t holding it in my hands and it was more-or-less too far away from me (at about 4-5 feet) to be of any constructive use. The only interesting feature of the GamePad that we were shown with Pikmin 3 is that after you complete a level, the screen on the GamePad can be used to scrub back and forth while watching an icon-based replay of your play through of the level so you can “analyze” where you perhaps could improve your time or score on that level.

The Wiimote controls for Pikmin 3 are essentially the same as the New Play Control method offered on the Wii versions of Pikmin and Pikmin 2.  I’ve never played the Wii version of the Pikmin games, so I was rather upset to find that your Pikmin control under this control method is restricted to throwing the Pikmin, sometimes upwards of a hundred at a time, one-by-one at whatever thing you want them to attack or carry.  When playing on the GameCube, I exclusively controlled my Pikmin by employing the C-Stick to move them fluidly as a group toward whatever I wanted them to interact with.  In Pikmin clones like Overlord I/II, this is the only way that you have to control your followers, and rightly so.  While this method of controlling Pikmin is very sorely absent from the Wiimote controls for the game, I still expect them to include this method when you’re playing the game using the GamePad or Controller Pro — if they’re not, I could not see myself enjoying this game as the “throw your Pikmin one-by-one at stuff” method is supremely tedious and perhaps even game-breakingly bad. 

The game’s mechanics, apart from the disappointing control method available to me in the demo, were mostly pleasant and largely unchanged.  You still parade your Pikmin minions about and have them attack/carry/build/break things in the standard Pikmin fashion, but one thing that I was upset to note is that (at least in the game mode we were shown) time limits for levels (a much disliked feature from the first Pikmin game) seem to have been reintroduced.  This strikes me as odd as the evolution of the level time limits into a day/night system was one of the most touted features of Pikmin 2.  Seeing a step backward of this magnitude, bringing the focus off exploration and back onto arcade-like score challenges is discouraging to say the least.  There are rumours around the web that what we were shown at E3 was a level from a time-challenge mode to be featured in the game, and I very much hope that that is the case.  Arbitrarily throwing a time limit back on Pikmin’s main story mode after the series has already progressed beyond such things would be a mistake, plain and simple. 

You were only able to control two types of Pikmin during the demo: Red and Rock.  The red Pikmin were their usual good fighting/carrying selves and the rock Pikmin felt like a nice and natural addition to the Pikmin family.  The rock Pikmin were used to break down harder barriers and stun enemies (or break their protective shells) to allow the more offensive red Pikmin to do their jobs more easily.  I also used the rock Pikmin to carry broken pieces of pottery to build a shortcut bridge over water back to the spaceship, but in retrospect I could probably have used the red Pikmin as well.  There were various gold items (as well as just plain simple gold) strewn about the level that would give you extra points if you collected them, adding to the arcade-like feel of the demo.  At the end you were graded with a bronze/silver/gold medal on the value of the various things you collected during your limited time on the level.

So, while still obviously a fun game, Pikmin 3 left me with equal parts anticipation and concern.  I’m concerned about the inclusion of time limits in the demo, as well as the apparent inferiority of the Wiimote controls and how the game doesn’t graphically look nearly as good as it could considering the Wii U’s purported capabilities.  I’m excited for the prospect of playing a new Pikmin game in general, particularly one that doesn’t necessarily require me to use my TV all the time, and one that will look and perform better than those that came before it.  Hopefully Nintendo will listen to the reservations held by many of the media that were fortunate enough to get an early demo of the game and we’ll see an awesome Pikmin game that is graphically astounding and that both controls and plays superbly by the time it releases (possibly even for the Wii U’s launch).  We’ll keep you updated as more info on both Pikmin 3 and the Wii U comes out in the coming months, you stay tuned for more coverage.

You can see a video of a good portion of our playtime with Pikmin 3 in our E3 2012 Wii U Video Roundup.

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