Mortal Kombat X E3 Stage Demo, New Characters!

Posted in Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat X, PC Gaming, PS3, PSOne, Xbox One, Xbox360 on June 11th, 2014 by thelonegamer

Mortal Kombat shows off some of the goods to come.

Ed Boon showed off his latest baby on stage at E3, revealing a ton of tidbits for this spectacular-looking gorefest. Mortal Kombat X will feature a bunch of all-new characters, some of which made their debut on the previously-seen trailer. The so-far shown newcomers include D’Vorah (‘Ladybug’), a half-human/half-insect female combatant, Ferra and Torr are the Master-Blaster combo character and Kotal Khan is the male fighter shown squeezing blood into his face from a crushed heart (Eew).

But there’s MORE! The vid above also gives a first look (character portrait only) at Cassie Cage- yep, the daughter of vets Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade (yep, they hook up some time after the previous tournament). Cassie will fight using a combination of both her parents’ styles.
Some other bits from the game- each character will have 3 Variations which will effectively be very different versions of the character, each with exclusive moves or weapons. This may pretty much triple the roster in a way- awesome.
The story of MKX is set up to 25 years after the first game (the story may happen in stages throughout that time lapse), allowing for both older and newer characters to appear. This still doesn’t answer whether we’ll see any of the fighters killed off in the last game though… Lastly, the game’s Final Boss will be a returning character, though it may be a ‘surprise’.

Man, Mortal Kombat X is looking darn intriguing and awesome. The graphics look amazing, the fighting looks solid, the character designs are wild, and I can’t wait to see more of this one. Sadly we still have to wait a while- the game is set for release in 2015 on pretty much every console. Color me excited. Hit me with your best shot, Nether Realm! I want your game now.

Cassie Cage makes her debut in this demo video.

UPDATE: Added in IGN’s Stage Demo vid from Day 2. This new vid shows off action with new characters Cassie Cage and Kotal Khan, along with their pretty cool new fatalities. I have to say I am loving the fatality/victory screen layout, with the victor standing in the background, the loser’s body in the fore. Really nice. They really are impressing me with this one.

The Life and Times of Playstation

Posted in Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSOne on October 22nd, 2013 by thelonegamer

When did You jump onto the PS Wagon?

I saw this video on Youtube and well, I can just identify so much. I have to admit, with some pride I must say, I’m an Old Timer. I’ve been around since the PSX or PSOne days, and stuck with them ever since. I bought my first Playstation with my own money, on a trip to Hong Kong, and never replaced it until the PS2 came. I went through the days of awesomeness, when the PSX was busted open by bootleggers and it seemed that games came EVERY WEEK. Those were the days of true gaming bliss.

Playstation 2 came and still I played games which lasted hours on hours. I probably went through two PS2′s in that era. Some of the best games I ever experienced were on that console.

Playstation 3 was a mixed bag. On the one hand, this 3rd era was a long, prolonged life for the console, and it’s still going. I still expect to enjoy PS3 games (I did just buy my current PS3 a few months ago) well into the next few years.

Now we’re on the cusp of the ‘Next Gen’. Playstation 4 is just around the corner, although I have not yet seen any game that justifies buying one (Come on, Harada- announce that new Tekken already), but it’s pretty much a done deal I’ll be getting one. Looking forward to sitting in front of my HDTV, spending nights once again with this or that awesome world the new console will open up for us.

Man, I love being a gamer.

The Fighting Game Story Mode: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Action Adventure, Dead or Alive, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Fan Service, Fantasy, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, King of Fighters, King of Fighters XIII, Mortal Kombat, My Stuff, PS2, PS3, PSOne, Retro-gaming, Soul Calibur, Soulcalibur 5, Soulcalibur IV, Streetfighter, Streetfighter X Tekken, Tekken, Tekken 6, Tekken Blood Vengeance, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, Xbox360 on September 22nd, 2011 by thelonegamer

Fast Tube by Casper

Soul Edge’s PS Intro: Always start a story with a rousing opening!

Ah, the Fighting Game genre. It’s certainly my most favorite of all videogame categories- my most beloved guilty pleasure in gaming. I’ve been playing fighters since I got into this hobby, from Streetfighter II on the Super NES to today’s Tekken 6 and Mortal Kombat remake. Many get into these games for the simple pleasure of owning someone else- the unabashed satisfaction of proving your dominance in the most blatant and base way possible- by sheer physicality or superior skill. Really, in the end, fighting games do of course boil down to a simple equation most eloquently shouted out by bloodthirsty masses in Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome- Two men enter, one man leaves. Well, sometimes Two women, or two THINGS. You get the picture, right?

Anyway, I think it’s a mark of a fan of these games themselves and not the sheer act of fighting that despite it being sheer gravy, that I put great importance on an aspect of these games that most often is glossed over- The Story.

Fast Tube by Casper

The Fight- and The Story- is All.

Why is all this fighting going on, anyway? Who’s the ‘good’ guy? Who’s the ‘bad’ buy? What’s at stake? Should we care? In all seriousness, it does add to the enjoyment of a story that we know the backgrounds of each and every single character in a fighting game’s often voluminous roster of Playables, and to follow their blood-slogging climb to the top of the tournament ladder. Drama, comedy, horror, evil, good, jealousy, courage… all encapsulated in what basically is about two guys hitting each other until one goes down and stays down.
Hell, if man going mano-y-mano with one’s fellow man didn’t make for good drama, then Homer’s Iliad wouldn’t have been certified a classic since the freakin’ Ancient Greeks. But hey, wouldn’t the Iliad make for a damn awesome fighter?

Fast Tube by Casper

MK didn’t always have great production values for it’s cutscenes…

This is probably something that fighting games spearheaded apart from other games- no longer did players fight to reach the end just to see a high score- they wanted to see an ENDING- something that couldn’t be quantified into any single number- but the satisfaction of reuniting your electronic avatar with his family, missing sibling or long-sought-after prize of revenge. Or a meeting with his country’s premier!

Fast Tube by Casper

Congratulations, comrade!

Anyway, relating a Fighting Game story has been done in various ways since the beginning. For the most part, the easiest and most expected way is the simple End Cutscene. Streetfighter II did it back in the day, rewarding the player’s victory over M. Bison with a bunch of screens with minimal animation and text. So effective was this that every game afterwards seemed to follow that same template- the ending was the reward, the narrative carrot dangled before the combatant. From SNK’s many brawlers like King of Fighters to Samurai Shodown to the original Mortal Kombat to every 90′s wannabee Streetfighter, it was all there in varying degrees of campiness.

Fast Tube by Casper

Your usual, run-of-the-mill Story Mode ending.

Of course there are a few games that didn’t bother to tell their story- the most significant being Sega’s Virtua Fighter series. All semblance of narrative was placed firmly outside the games, in arcane literature or dictated by actual game tournaments. In many ways, I think, that’s why VF has never found a certain closeness to gamers, with the most hardcore fans of this particular brawler more invested in game mechanics, frame counts and simple gameplay.

Fast Tube by Casper

Virtua Fighter’s Intro hints at a deeper story behind the fighters.

A benefit or detriment? Well, let’s just say that the fan support for VF, while rabid, is perhaps the smallest of all the big fighting game franchises. That’s not to say that the Virtua Fighters don’t have a story- it’s there, certainly, but just not being told as much. Perhaps when we are given a trail to follow and care for, perhaps that’s when VF will bloom to the emotional masses.

Fast Tube by Casper

A Tekken CG Ending waaaay back in the PSOne days.

As game technology and CG animation got better, ending cinematics became slicker and more elaborate. Perhaps the series that most surely chronicles not only it’s characters’ personal sagas but also visualizes the gradual leap of graphical and animation quality is Namco-Bandai’s Tekken series- from the very basic and simple end cutscenes of the first Tekken on the original Playstation, the cinematic cutscenes have raised the bar with every installment afterwards.

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Despite being an unpopular chapter, Tekken 4 placed more emphasis on story than most other installments in the franchise.

The series has now the reputation for these eye-catching cinematics, with perhaps the culmination of that reputation being the somewhat controversial Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie- perhaps the most complex cutscene yet for a fighting game.

Fast Tube by Casper

Tekken 6 endings are gorgeously animated, but the stories told range from the cool to the downright silly.

Ironically, Tekken 6′s Scenario Campaign is actually a very different way of telling the game’s story, albeit the mode proved unpopular with some players. I actually found this a very engaging and enjoyable mode, though perhaps it could do with some improvements.

Fast Tube by Casper

Mortal Kombat’s Story Mode is Epic in so many ways.

But CG visual quality isn’t the end-all and be-all of Fighting Game storytelling- Mortal Kombat proved this with it’s 2011 remake’s quite revolutionary Story Mode. It may have been a bit of a gamble on paper- a long and involved story told in real-time, in-engine graphics, visualizing the whole MK saga from the beginning to the future and back to the present, running many, many hours long and throwing the player into the boots of various warriors. But ultimately, it WORKED. Gamers got into the story, they loved it and acclaim for this way of doing the till-then tired Story Mode was pretty much universal. The one best thing about MK’s Story Mode? It showed one thing that other games always get wrong- The Ending is NOT the Story.
Mortal Kombat showed us that it was all about seeing the fighters’ tales unfold, seeing plots twist and turn and end up in outcomes we didn’t see coming and snowball to something we fear/await/dread was entertaining and kept us going hour after hour, through every fight till the very end.

Of course, MK isn’t the only fighter to have a long and involved Story Mode- just the most visible and perhaps the one boasting the highest production values. Truth be told though, 2D fighter Blazblue has a very involved and complex Story Mode as well, though told mostly in text or voice-driven static cutscenes but boasting multiple endings and paths, sometimes dictated by your victories or defeats.

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Blazblue’s anime-style storytelling makes for many hours of battle, voice-acting and battling voice-acting.

Dead or Alive Dimensions on the 3DS was able to summarize it’s entire enigmatic decades-long saga with it’s rather long but entertaining main Story mode (. The upcoming King of Fighters XIII will also boast a Story mode bursting with replay value for multiple playthroughs when it arrives later this year on consoles.

Fast Tube by Casper

The Soul Calibur series often featured interactive endings, where a button press could change the outcome.

Going back a bit, Namco-Bandai’s almost ill-fated Soul Calibur series has had a past filled with exceptional story modes. The original Soul Blade on PSOne had interactive endings where you could change the outcome of your fighter’s fate with a fast button press. Soul Calibur III had a Tales of Souls mode which boasted multiple paths and alternate endings- it encouraged multiple playthroughs so you could see all the possible endings and cutscenes, or unlock a very challenging boss encounter.

Sadly, SoulCalibur IV dropped many things from the previous installments, many of them conceivably fan favorite aspects that were sorely missed. Gone were the multi-aspect Story Mode and explorative minigames, in their place a generic Story Mode with a repetitive and generic cutscene and rather enigmatic endings. The Tower of Lost Souls, a challenging ladder game, proved to be more frustrating to many players than anything else. Perhaps the result? SoulCalibur IV was almost the last game in this long-running series, apparently only saved from the brink of oblivion by fan requests and support.

And so, what have we learned from all this? One important thing.

The Best Story Modes should be about The Journey, NOT the Ending. It’s about a story that’s compelling throughout, not just a prize waiting after all that’s said and done.

But would other fighters learn from this example? Only future fighters will tell. Or, perhaps, the next wave of fighters will.

Fast Tube by Casper

Soul Calibur IV’s Endings looked great, but the overall storytelling left much to be desired.

Soul Calibur V, set for release in First Quarter 2012, looks to have a Story Mode that hopefully has been influenced by recent games. Though we’ve yet to get any solid information on the gameplay, we’ve seen screens showing a map screen, which should bode well for the chance that this won’t simply be a series of fights leading to one ending. At the very least, cutscenes and a pathways chosen by the player may be included, and hopefully challenges and encounters that add and encourage replay- something the series is not a stranger to, as we’ve seen.

With the future of this fan-supported fighter perhaps lying in SCV’s performance, I’m hoping they make the story something that really gets players involved and wanting more of this Tale of Souls and Swords for years to come.

Fast Tube by Casper

Soul Calibur V, set 17 years after the last game, looks to have a story more dramatic than ever before.

With the current resurgence of Fighting Games as a popular genre in gaming, there will surely be more emphasis on the Story Mode. Thanks to Mortal Kombat’s high-profile success, we may expect even more epic storytelling to come from beat ‘em ups in the years to come. Hopefully we’ll see the Fighting Game story evolve into something truly enjoyable and interactive for gamers, so that our favorite fighters continue on and have their Tales Eternally Retold.

Tekken Intro Retrospective

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game-related Events, Gaming, My Stuff, PS2, PS3, PSOne, PSP, Tekken, Tekken 6, Xbox360 on October 12th, 2009 by thelonegamer

Over it’s 15 or so years of existence, the Tekken franchise has seen many traditions that fans have come to depend on. One of those cherished traditions is the Awesome CG Intro. Every home version of the Tekken series has always had an exciting opening cinematic whose quality pretty much shows the state of CG quality at the time. Here’s a look back at the many Tekken intros that have graced our screens and consoles over the years.

Tekken Intro on the PSX.

Okay, let’s just be frank. Even back then… Tekken wasn’t the prettiest of games. The art style was offbeat but it had its appeal. The PSX version got a new CG intro that showed off the main roster of fighters in various situations, with nothing much about any storyline. It hasn’t aged well but I have to say there’s a nice nostalgic feeling whenever I see it.

Tekken 2 Intro on the PSX.

Things got cooler in Tekken 2′s pretty slick PSX Intro. It was a step up from the previous game, with the art style becoming more comely and softer, characters and backgrounds getting a lot more detail and personality.
The most striking part for me, of course, was the start of the intro, with the familiar yet a lot more detailed figure of Heihachi Mishima clawing his way up the cliff he had been dropped from at the end of the previous game… like a horn-haired Sadako climbing out of the well. After that, the usual montage of character moments would roll, set to some pretty awesome techno music. One gripe of mine is Nina’s bit- from an assassin under fire in the first game suddenly she’s lounging around in some parlor and stroking her (really badly-done, even then) hair… couldn’t they have given her something more exciting to do? Anyway, surely the best bit was the Sub-boss roll call towards the end, culminating with a creepy Kaz posing with Angel. Though the visuals and animation are again pretty dated, this is still a pretty cool intro by any standard.

Tekken 3 Intro on the PSX.

When I first saw Tekken 3′s intro, my eyes popped out of their sockets. The CG quality of the intro (and the many character endings) was a huge leap from the previous game, incorporating highly-detailed character models, dynamic camera angles, moody effects and lighting with lots of action. The Tekken 3 intro probably made a lot of fans think that a Tekken CG movie would be a good idea. Even today it looks impressive.
The music was catchy and cool, the overall mood dark, with lots of shadows and gritty imagery, book-ended by the emerging threat of Ogre and Jin Kazama being scarred with his trademark tattoos. Tekken 3 introduced a whole new cast of fighters who would become more or less the mainstays of the saga today, and laid the foundations of the plotlines that still rage at present.

Tekken Tag Tournament’s Intro on the PS2.

Ah, Tekken Tag Tournament… the ‘lost’, non-canon just-for-fun chapter with all characters Tekken. As the first PS2 Tekken, this martial arts mash-up came with a pretty awesome, if brief, intro, the graphical quality looking worlds above the previous game thanks to the PS2′s power. The CG was more realistic than ever and showed off several characters; once again Nina is relegated to a silly nose-powdering segment while Bryan guns down some goons and Lei Wulong engages in a high speed police chase. The two missing majors from Tekken 3, Kazuya and Jun, show up here, each looking quite great despite their respective apparent demises.

Tekken 4 Intro on the PS2.

Once again boasting some impressive-looking CG, the Tekken 4 intro was a big leap from previous intros, now boasting even more detailed and advanced character models and animations than ever, plus with actual speech and dialogue. It was shorter than usual (the smaller roster probably contributed to this), focusing mainly on the main storyline while introducing the new challengers. Overall, this felt more personal and a smaller story than the usual big tournament type of feel.

Tekken 5 Intro on the PS2.

As the intro to the series’ return to form, Tekken 5‘s Opening had a lot riding on it… and thankfully, it delivered. No other Tekken intro before or since had so much crammed into Tekken 5′s cinematic prologues. We get Heihachi and Kazuya vs an Army of Jacks in a pretty awesome battle, the seeming death of a series’ mainstay, and a rockin’ parade of action vignettes showing pretty much every fighter having his or her time in the limelight, all set to the entertainingly crass ‘Sparking’ song. Best of all, Nina is in action and not powdering her nose or adjusting her bra this time. Yeah, Asuka’s riding around on a bicycle instead of kicking butt as she should, but man, she rode it off the Tokyo Tower. Fun, fun and more fun from beginning to end.

Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection Intro on the PSP/PS3.

The pseudo sequel/arcade upgrade Tekken Dark Resurrection eventually made it’s way to consumer versions (PS3/PSP), and as such demanded a new CG intro. The DR Intro was pretty slick, boasting slightly better CG quality than Tekken 5 (it had been a while since Tekken 5′s PS2 release, after all). The stars of the show were easily the debuting Lili Rochefort and Sergei Dragunov, though a few choice fighters also made appearances. The best thing about this intro for me though is seeing Asuka Kazama in her P1 outfit in a prerendered cinematic.

The Tekken 6 intro.

We’ve all seen the Tekken 6 intro by now, I think. Presented in state of the art pre-rendered CG, the T6 intro is more dramatic and somber to reflect the current storyline of world-strife and chaos. Not everyone is shown again, focusing more on the newcomers and some select fighters. The lavish, life-like detail of the characters plus the impressive production values of the scenes shown has a grand, big budget feel that will surely interest gamers into the story even if it doesn’t quite get the blood pumping.

So what’s the Best Intro in the series so far? I’d have to go with… the Tekken 5 Intro. If we could only choose one opening to represent the series as a whole, T5′s rousing and slickly-animated montage of action and character coolness, plus the amazing Mishima-Jack battle encapsulate pretty much all the fun and over-the-top style of the franchise; from cool poses and hard-hitting punches to rocket launchers blazing away and supernatural heavies awaiting in the wings- this had it all. Yeah, the song was cheezy, but it was fun as heck regardless.

I really don’t see the series ending anytime soon… surely more Tekkens and more intro movies will be coming in the years ahead, so perhaps someday we’ll have another retropsective. Till then, enjoy the intros and get ready for the next battle!

Retro Gaming Cheeziness: Battle Arena Toshinden 2

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, PSOne on July 6th, 2009 by thelonegamer

When Intros Attack!

I came across this video lately and it just brought back so many memories. It’s the CG intro to Battle Arena Toshinden 2, one of the early 3D fighters on the original Playstation back in the mid-90s. I remember getting this fighter alongside the original Tekken for PSX, and, well… while the gameplay was floaty, imprecise and awkwards, it at least gave us this pretty funny intro.

I mean, how can you beat live-action versions of your fighters to spice up and pad the game? It really looks pretty ridiculous now, but back in the day I’m sure that a lot of us went OOOOOH and AAAAAH at the flesh-and-blood Sofia and Ellis… or not. Actually, this intro was pretty cheesy even back then, heheh… Anyway, BAT2 wasn’t horrible, relatively, and it did give me some entertainment then. Nice to see this bit of videogame history now, I guess. Moving on, then…

Remembering Xenogears

Posted in Gaming, My Stuff, PSOne, Retro-gaming, RPGs on May 7th, 2008 by thelonegamer

It may be hard for me to fathom this nowadays, but back then, in the days of the PSX, I wasn’t a Hardcore Casual Gamer. I was a HARDCORE Gamer. Back then, it was par for the course to spend days on a game, hours on end, with just the minimum of sleep, food and human companionship required. There were games that consumed me to the core, so much that every waking moment spent away from the console still revolved around the titles that made gaming so sweet.

One of my most cherished RPG titles of all time is, without a doubt, Xenogears. This Square RPG wasn’t as big as FFVII (it came sometime after, and was even mentioned by Cloud Strife in-game) but let me say that any Xenogears fan will swear on their deathbed that the experience of playing this title was sublime.

Set in a world where martial arts and mammoth robots existed in everyday life, the player took the role of Fei, a young man who soon embarks on a journey to discover the secrets behind his violent and strife-ridden world. On the way he’ll meet the love of his life- and of his past lives- friends and allies who will stand by him to the end, horrors and tragedy, betrayal, war, science, magic, false gods and more. But even with the complex, twisting storyline, I remember never being lost- it was like playing or living a marvelous anime series, with you in the pilot’s seat. The story was amazing, the presentation awesome with anime cutscenes and great music (though some of the english voice-acting was off-sync) and dramatic moments that will stay with you forever.
You just know you love a game so much when you care deeply about the characters- I truly cared for the members of my party- but Xenogears pushed the envelope to eleven when I found myself worrying about the fate of a side character- a very minor side character at that- after a planetwide crisis ravages the world (don’t worry- the character, a kind nurse who helped Fei out in his time in a gladiatorial arena, came out fine). Man, I didn’t just play Xenogears… I lived it.

Coupled this with addictive gameplay with the coolest characters (my favorites were Sitan Uzuki after he picks up his sword again, and Billy the gun-toting priest). Could you say bad-ass and kicking ass? Xenogears let you do it in style.

Yeah, these days we have Xenosaga, but it just isn’t the same. If there’s a game that should be given a remake treatment, along with FFVII this should be one. Xenogears is GOLD, and the generations of gamers who missed this gem who consider themselves RPG or anime fans owe themselves the pleasure of getting a PSX and playing this game. It’s that awesome.

Man, those where the days.

Crisis Core's Teasing Secret Ending

Posted in Action Adventure, Gaming, PSOne, PSP, RPGs on September 19th, 2007 by thelonegamer

Here is a secret ending video found at the end of FFVII Crisis Core for the PSP. It’s basically the opening of FFVII, just rendered in Advent Children/Crisis Core quality CG. The ending line, ‘To be continued in Final Fantasy VII’ both points to the classic game, and to a possible remake (which I know every FFVII fan is yearning for). I’d love to see the whole game again. Mind you, it wouldn’t be enough to just redo the game with AC graphics and CG. I’d need to have new stuff, like updated options and interface, new cinematics, voice acting and perhaps an Advent Children-time chapter playable with Cloud and company taking on the Remnants. None of this is confirmed yet, of course, but that may change depending on how much fans want it. Believe us, Square, we WANT this. A remade FFVII is a license to print money. There’s a whole generation since the original game came out that missed the whole shebang. And another generation that wants to feel the magic again. So cough it up, already!

Oh, and non-believers in FFVII and those who think FFXII is a better game can go get bent. Heh.