FyFYI Episode 151: The Splashing of the Breasts

Pete and new (once a month) co-host Mike Phillips discuss the sexy olympics, food, sports videogames, answer a dozen tweets or so and chat about whether Steam needs to get into price wars with Amazon.

Stream here people.

You can also grab it off of iTunes.

Apple iTunes

Reach us at:  FYIFeedback@gmail.com

For Your Vita Hype

Double K.O.

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Pete’s Twitter

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Mike’s Twitter

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Review: Dokuro (JPN)

I love a good puzzle-platformer, so much so that if I were tasked with designing my ideal game, it would probably involve a fair amount of jumping and puzzling. I do, however, have a significant beef with the direction the genre has taken in recent times. The problem is that somewhere along the line, the platforming aspect has become an afterthought. In games like Braid, Closure, and even to some extent Limbo, platforming has been relegated to a crutch whose only real purpose is to keep the focus, the puzzles, from becoming a complete abstraction. Admittedly the jumping is sometimes an integral part of a puzzle, but rarely, if ever, in these games is there platforming-for-platforming’s sake, and they suffer as a result. Dokuro, on the other hand, is an example of a genuine puzzle-platformer. Not only does it feature a good number of exquisitely designed puzzles (on a par with the likes of Braid), but these are mixed in with traversal elements that are as good as those of any traditional platformer.

Some of the enemies are genuinely creepy.

What makes this balance even more impressive is the complexity layered on top of these core mechanics. The player controls Dokuro (literally ‘skull’ in Japanese), a skeleton who can transform into a prince. Choosing the correct form at any given point is crucial to success, as each has its own abilities and weaknesses. Dokuro’s goal is to help the princess escape from the ‘Dark Lord’s’ castle. (Exactly what is going on here is only really fleshed out in the game’s closing cutscene. Suffice it to say you’re not going to miss a great deal if you never see it.) The catch is that the princess is apparently the product of hundreds of years of royal inbreeding. Her only function is to walk left to right across the screen, and to die. A lot. The player’s role is to prepare a path for the princess to escape. Beyond the standard tropes of pushing and pulling blocks and bombs, Dokuro has at his disposal three different colours of chalk which are applied via the touchscreen. I won’t spoil anything, but each of them has a very different effect on the environment. Oh…and gravity manipulation crops up too.

What we are left with is effectively a puzzle-platformer-cum-escort-quest with both ranged and mêlée combat, walking on the ceiling and a rudimentary drawing mechanic. This should be a mess, but it isn’t. It’s brilliant. Some of this lies with the core mechanics; the puzzles are clever, and the platforming controls are tight. Beyond this though, the developers have shown restraint in managing all these different elements. Unlike most escort quests, protecting the princess never reduced me to a gibbering wreck because, despite her lack of smarts, she knows enough to stop walking when the next step will kill her. You also learn pretty quickly that the developers have been very careful with respect to how many of your tools will be required to complete a level. I can’t recall, for example, a section which I needed to use all three types of chalk to pass. (This is not without its drawbacks – once or twice I found myself stuck, only to remember the blue chalk, which I hadn’t used in about thirty levels.)

The Dark Lord – not as friendly as he looks.

It’s also a really nice looking game, if not especially ambitious. The chalk theme is reflected in the art, which has a grainy look much like that of chalkboard drawings. The animation is very simple, and combines with the art style to give the whole thing the feel of an old Eastern-European cartoon (a little like ‘Worker and Parasite’, for those long-time Simpsons fans). The bosses are probably the artistic highlight. One or two of them are impressively grotesque and really quite nightmarish. If I have a complaint about the presentation, it’s that the backgrounds are pretty drab and repetitive, but they are consistent with the art style as a whole. The music is appropriate but forgettable – twee, with a dash of fairytale kitsch.

I’m going to pre-empt the perennial question of whether this wouldn’t be more successful on the PS3. Absolutely not. First, gone would be the tactile aspect of the drawing mechanic, which would be a big loss to the feel of the game. Beyond this though, Dokuro really feels like a game that has been built with handhelds in mind. Most of the games 150-odd levels are very short. Once you have worked out what to do, a majority of them can be completed within a minute or two. For the last few weeks I have kept Dokuro open almost constantly open on my Vita, picking it up for a few minutes at a time to knock off a level or two. The game also offers a fair amount of replayability, at least for trophy hunters (platinum) and crazy people. Each level in the game has a coin to collect, some of which are very difficult, and there are also a number of trophies related to finishing the game within a certain time. Were I playing it on the PS3 there’s no chance I would go back to this game. On the Vita I can see myself returning to it for some time, trying to shave a few seconds off a level here and a level there.

Things start to get a bit complicated after a while.

For me, Dokuro is in many respects the perfect handheld game. As a puzzle-platformer it is absolutely top tier, and its design makes it ideally suited to being played in small chunks. This aside, I’m not about to suggest that it’s a must for everyone. Firstly, it can be frustrating – infuriatingly so. If trial and error are a bummer, this game may not be for you. I will also admit that Dokuro is a little longer than it needs to be. There was one egregious instance of repetition late in the game that was just unnecessary and drove me to distraction. However if, like me, you have a masochistic streak, Dokuro has a lot to recommend it. Some of the puzzles are absolutely diabolical, and solving them gave me more of a sense of satisfaction than I’ve derived from a game in some while (I hasten to add that just how diabolical you find the puzzles will depend on just how much smarter you are than me. I’m not that bright.)  In fact, I would go so far as to say that much of the time it’s more satisfying than it is fun. The game currently retails for around ¥2,000 in Japan, which I would guess will put it in the $15-$20 range once it hits the US (which seems likely – the cart comes complete with support for half-a-dozen languages). For Vita owners who are attracted to the idea of a puzzle-platformer in the truest sense, and who aren’t averse to a bit of a challenge, Dokuro is a gem.

Sony Remembers Vita Exists, Decides to Start Integrating PlayStation Plus

Originally Posted By Carlos Macias

Hey, did you hear about this? While we weren’t looking, apparently, Sony decided to start throwing Vita owners a bone and integrated PlayStation Plus benefits last week with slashed prices for Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, Virtua Tennis 4, and Hustle Kings.

PlayStation Plus membership crossover is something that’s been requested since Vita’s launch in February and finally Sony came around to implementing it. It’s the small things like the occasional price cuts that have created a great value for loyal PlayStation owners and have made it exciting to follow PSN updates week to week on PS3.

And, while this editorial could have been written last week, I decided to give Sony a chance to impress me with continued PlayStation Plus goodies and to demonstrate how serious they are about said membership integration into the PS Vita’s digital offerings.

This week’s game updates to the Vita store front were Foosball 2012, Puddle, and…Canabalt?* Um, yeah, as Pete so aptly tweeted earlier in the week, those games aren’t exactly “barn burners,” but what’s interesting is that Foosball 2012, during its week of release, saw an immediate lowered price deal and that signifies good things to come, in my opinion, for future Vita digital releases.

While $2 may not seem like the biggest deal to the more affluent gamers out there, it’s sufficient enough for me to consider purchasing Foosball at $5.99 (against the regular $7.99) and even Hot Shots saw a significant enough price cut to $17 — cheaper than its going rate of $20 on Amazon.

The last couple weeks of updates hopefully foreshadows a Sony fully leveraging its online store to keep Vita owners glued to the system. One that quickly expands and gives way to more incredible downloadable games — especially since there’s little to be excited for retail-wise in the coming months.

The next big titles on the board are Sound Shapes on August 7th, at a discounted price for PS Plus members, and then…well, not much else until September with the likes of LittleBigPlanet and possibly PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

Sony needs to pile on the temporary deals and entice Vita owners with downloadable titles during the summer lull with more than just quick and dirty “look at all these Rockstar games we managed to get on the PSP!” ports.

I’ve yet to be fully convinced, but here’s hoping that the coming weeks of downloadable Vita titles fulfill Sony’s “never stop playing” mantra and PlayStation Plus benefits are a great first step to that end.

*Yes, I know that Pete’s been playing the awesomeness that is Wizorb (originally available on Xbox Live Indie Games), but since it’s not on the store front ready for download — you have to use your PS3 to transfer the download to Vita — I disregarded it as an “official” Vita release. I’m hoping that it at least makes it over in less time than the Velocity minis game, which launched on PS3/PSP weeks ago!

A short word on the future of the FyFYI Podcast

I have a hard time sitting still.  This is evident in the podcast where you can hear me moving towards and away from the mic.  And it’s evident in how the podcast has operated over the last 150 episodes with rotating cast members that can’t deal with me because I’m a hyper 12-year-old.  And (un)lucky for James I’m in one of those moods again and something needs to change with the podcast.

But why? We love James!  I do too.  In fact, that’s the problem, I think James is too good.  I think his other podcast, with his cousin, is worlds better than this one.  I feel like the bit of lag that exists while skyping from this side of the earth to that side of the earth makes it hard for him to get in there and shut me up.  But don’t worry, James isn’t going anywhere, we are still going to be recording every other week.  This isn’t changing.  Because even though I have an inferiority complex about Double KO, James is one of my favorite people on the planet and it’s an honor to make a shittier podcast with him.

I needed to do something to mix things up though.  So I’ve ended up with two ideas that are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.  The first is that once a month (starting this week) I will be recording with Mike Phillips.  This is a bit of a nerd dream for me which is odd considering he has been one of my best friends for a decade now, but we’ve only recorded together a few times and never one on one.  I expect sexy results.  Now, you might be thinking, isn’t he on P1P and The Fanboys?  Yes, yes he is.  So won’t I feel the same thing I do with James?  Yes, yes I will.  But like James it’s worth feeling that just for the opportunity to record with him.

So what do I do to create my own niche in this funny little world?  Well, the other free week each month (starting two weeks from this week) I will be recording with my spunky, hyper, potty-mouthed, italian, wonderfully deranged wife.  This may be a glorious failure, but it’s worth a shot, right?  It’s likely to be less videogames and more tv and makeup, and dick jokes and farts.  Like actual farts.  She rips them like a truck driver.

This is where FyFYI is headed.  I hope you guys enjoy it.

 

 

FyFYI Episode 150: Sinamoi

For our 150th episode we do the same thing we always do.  But then we have a special guest.  Games include:  Ghost recon, Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD, LOTR: War in the North and Dead Island’s most famous accent.

Stream here people.

You can also grab it off of iTunes.

Apple iTunes

Reach us at:  FYIFeedback@gmail.com

For Your Vita Hype

Double K.O.

Check Platform Nation

We have a little forum on The Fanboys Site!

Pete’s Twitter

James’ Twitter

PSP games on the Vita (UPDATED 7/26/12 with FFIV Complete + 3 more)

Update #1: Added 6 of the Atlus 50% games.

Update #2: Added 1 more Atlus sale game and  2 others.

Update #3: Added Persona 2/3, Killzone, Daxter and more.

Update #4: Added GTA:CW, Castlevania, Monster Hunter, Valkyria Chronicles 2 and more.

Update #5: Wizorb added (below PSP games)

Update #6: FFIV, Dead Head Fred, Ys Seven and more

Original story (scroll down for list)

The best thing, to me, about the YouTube app on the Vita is that now when I’m rummaging through the Vita PSN Store to find a cheap but potentially good PSP or Mini I can then flip over to the YouTube app and watch some video of it. The problem is that most of this video was shot 5 years ago and is done with inferior cameras filming an inferior device.

So I decided to step up and fill the void with footage of the PSP and Minis that I have.  My camera is nice, the Vita screen is amazing and sometimes having that second stick can really add to a game.  These videos aren’t perfect, of course.  I wish I could get a direct feed as even though the camera is pretty amazing it does create interlacing and aliasing issues from time to time.  Also you’ll notice there is no game sound.  That’s mostly because it’s summer here and my air conditioner is about 3 feet from where I record.

These videos are being put up with the hopes that people doing exactly what I do with the YouTube app will see how the games will run on their device. This post will be updated all summer long (and I expect the entire project to take me all summer) with new videos.  I don’t own every PSP game, obviously, but it’s kinda absurd how many I do.  Requests will help move things to the front of the queue so feel free to drop them in the comments. And if I don’t own it you may help convince me to buy it…

PSP GAMES:

Burnout Legends

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Cladun X2

Class of Heroes

Crimsom Gem Saga

Daxter

Dead Head Fred

Final Fantasy IV Complete

God of War: Chains of Olympus

Gods Eater Burst

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Hexyz Force

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Kenka Bancho Badass Rumble

Killzone: Liberation

Knights in the Nightmare

Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite

NBA 2K12

Persona 2

Persona 3 Portable

Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters

Riviera: The Promised Land

Sonic Rivals

Valkyria Chronicles 2

Yggdra Union

Ys Seven

 

MINIS:

Wizorb