Ace Attorney 4 coming soon! and other mindless ramblings

Having posted about my love of the Phoenix Wright series back in September last year, I was surprised when a few days ago I discovered that the english release of the fourth iteration (Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice) was due out in a few weeks and I hadn’t noticed.  I think the marketing for the game is only just starting to ramp up, with pointed release date announcements and a new dev blog.

I also had a nice surprise when ordering it from dvdboxoffice – my source for importing games that will take months to come out here, if they ever do – I had a birthday coupon code from last year that I’d forgotten about and gave me $2.50 off the order 😀

 

Speaking of games that aren’t scheduled for release in Australia though (did I mention I love that DS games aren’t region locked?), the other game I’ve been keeping an eye on is Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  In the last couple of weeks Wired has had coverage of both the official trailer and this cool magazine ad showing off the quality of puzzles featured in the game.  It is due out in just over a week so I ordered that to tide me over until Apollo Justice (free shipping ftw!)

 

On a final note that could be a new entry but isn’t really worth it, this blog has been quiet because I’ve been hard at work on the next release of EditLive! and haven’t had much to talk about.  That isn’t likely to change for at least another week or two 🙂

Interesting tidbits

All of this stuff went into my link blog, but is interesting enough that I wanted to post about it.

However, I’m tired and have to get up early tomorrow so all you get is links 😛

Creating impossible deadlines has a tendency to be more expensive in the long run (why a game patch rendered some windows machines unable to boot)

Activision taking their Guitar Hero 3 ball and using it to screw PS3 customers out of using the controller on Rock Band

Class Action Lawsuit over GH3 sound problems on wii

The always-hilarious Yahtzee reviews Guitar Hero 3, hits the same Raining Blood wall the rest of us did and comes up with a very NSFW (but basically spot on) review

On a side note (just so this post isn’t pure links) the other day I had a go at some of the Guitar Hero 1 songs (which I’d never played), and I was amazed at how much better the note tracks were compared to GH3.  And thinking back at the GH2 songs I know and love, it’s pretty much the same thing.

I hope Activision and Neversoft hire some better musicians to produce the note tracks for GH4 because 3 isn’t any fun at the high levels.  I’m currently on set 7 of expert mode, I can only finish “Knights of Cydonia” and I don’t think I’ll ever get further than that.  I never finished the last boss battle of hard mode, and I “wussed out” of the battle with slash on expert because it was just stupid.

I could of course be proven wrong, I didn’t think “Pride and Joy” (the end of set 6) on expert was ever going to happen either but after a few days of practice I managed to pull it off.

Guitar Hero fixes for Wii finally coming

I’ve been playing a lot of Metriod Prime 3 and Mario Galaxy in the last 3 weeks (stupid Australian release schedules) but in on Thursday I was inspired to get back into Guitar Hero and start taking on Expert mode… I’d forgotten how crap it sounds.  My ears have been spoilt by the orchestral magnificence that is the Mario Galaxy soundtrack, and the Metroid Prime series is no slouch either – it has one of my all-time favourite boss music compositions.  My favourite sig from the now-43-page forum thread about the GH3 sound issues:

Hey, Activision, the 1950s just called, they want their sound format back.

But I digress.  As reported all over the internet last night, Activision have finally acknowledged the problem and will be issuing replacement discs (since you can’t patch Wii games) in a month or two.

I think the only appropriate response to this news is “thank f#@k for that”.

I passed RB on Hard!

I won’t be playing Guitar Hero 3 for a few days.  I can’t – I just finished the hardest song on the hard difficulty (not counting the final battle).  My verified completion of Raining Blood will sit on my profile for all to see:

http://www.guitarhero.com/accounts/274362

I’m so proud of this.  If you’re not GH player, ignore the rest of the post; it’s geeky on a level that will bore you.

 

I took the game to work today (yay for the detachable guitar neck) and we spent our lunch hour with it hooked up to the projector.  Somewhere, between that and a bit of practice tonight I finally clicked back into my ability to move my left hand around and play all 5 guitar buttons properly.  I haven’t really been able to do it since deciding to playing through Medium first; playing so many easy songs all but destroyed my muscle memory for Hard.

I went from being unable to finish any songs of the 8th set to scraping through Cliffs of Dover, so I figured I was on a roll and kept playing.  Before I knew it I had 3-starred Number of the Beast… then One… and then I (as usual) failed Raining Blood.

Earlier today, I was linked this video of some guy playing RB expert with a midi drum kit.  Now the point where everybody I know fails this song is 40%  – 1:07 on the video, officially called Mosh 1 but I call it “the mess”.  It’s not quite as bad on Hard mode, instead of quad pull-offs it has triplets so it doesn’t use the green button.  In other words, you basically just need to hold the red button and mash alternating triplet pull-offs with your other 3 fingers.  What makes it nearly impossible however is the fact that you have to strum at the beginning of each triplet.

Having watching the drum kit video earlier today I realised that if I could pass the mess the rest of the song would probably be cake.  So after a confidence boost re-run through Cliffs of Dover…

I did it 😀 😀 😀

The way I managed that insanity is a technique I used to play Cliffs of Dover.  Dover’s GBG GBR GBY GBG bridge section where you strum 1 & 3 of the triplets took me about half an hour of practice to get right, and a similar technique let me keep the strum beat of the mess in RB while creatively mashing my fingers in the 4-3-2 / 3-2-1 sequence.  I think there was quite a bit of luck involved, I was flashing red by the end of it and despite recovering I think I flashed red in at least 2 other spots.

 

I don’t think I’ll be playing that song again for a long time 🙂

Guitar Hero 3 sound issues on Wii confirmed

I mentioned in my post last night that I was keeping an eye on this Guitar Hero forum thread claiming the Wii version was producing Mono sound.  I now have news to report from said post.

If you’re using the Wii version, ever notice how when you activate Star Power it sounds like shit?  It’s just been confirmed that you’re not hearing what the developers intended (which I could’ve told you, having played the 360 demo numerous times).

One of the New Zealand players had enough of all this talk and plugged his Wii sound output into his PC.  Late last week he came up with some basic proof that looked pretty solid but last night he hit the jackpot.  At the bottom of that image you can see the guitar and band in mono, while the crowd sounds (of all the things that could possibly work) are in stereo.

People have been submitting this bug to Activision and Red Octane ever since the US release 2 weeks ago, so now all we can do is play wait and see.  I’ll be surprised if they don’t find a way to fix this; the box clearly advertises Dolby Pro Logic II sound so if they don’t fix it they can, at the very least, get brought up on false advertising charges.

I have until Friday to decide if I want to return the game, but that won’t get me my $125 back with EB only offering exchange or store credit.  I think I’d rather live with it and hope for a replacement, there aren’t any other games coming that I want (and I’ve already pre-ordered Mario Galaxy at a different store).

Little bit dissapointed in GH3’s Wii release

I didn’t really want to pick up Guitar Hero 3 yet.  Metroid Prime 3 was released on the same day due to Nintendo Australia’s dodgy release schedules, and for once I wanted to at least try finishing one game before buying another.  By Friday afternoon though I’d had a very long week and felt like kicking back with some Guitar Hero and a shiny new toy seemed like the best option.

I could’ve sat down with GH2, but it has become less interesting to me now that it would take weeks of practice to finish any more songs on Expert.  This isn’t a case of laziness; it’s a case of I don’t own the game so when I eventually move elsewhere all that effort would be wasted.

The game itself is great, I’m having a lot of fun and if you want you can follow my progress in their fancy new online profile system.  If you own the game I’ll happily add you as a friend so we can play some songs together.  However, if you have access to any other next-gen system I don’t know why you’d bother getting the Wii version.

Nick mentioned to me earlier that he was surprised how pixellated the graphics were, and as soon as I got into the first song I could see what the problem was.  What we have here is not a Wii game, it’s a PS2 game ported to the Wii with some extra shine attached.  Quite a few of these have been released (particularly early Wii games) but it’s a bit pathetic for a game this big to take such a lazy attitude to development on a system that’s been out for 12 months.  The only thing this version has going for it is not requiring separate batteries for the guitar (thanks to integrating the remote) and some gimmicky vibration for star power.

The sad thing is that it doesn’t matter how bad it looks; this game will sell like hotcakes, as did the previous releases.  From most reports the Wii version is already sold out all around Australia, I was lucky to find 1 copy left at my local EB.

Having said all that, the graphics don’t technically matter.  You still get the same note charts appearing at the same distance as the other versions, and it sounds fine (although I’m keeping an eye on reports that we’re only getting mono sound on the Wii, an unforgivable transgression for a music game).

I’m still going to enjoy this game a lot, and play it to death like the Guitar Hero fan I am.  It’s just that at the end of every song, I have to watch blocky PS2 models do stilted end-of-song dances in front of a zombie audience when I know the Wii can do better than that.

I really hope they use some of the bucketloads of cash they’re going to make off this game to develop a proper Wii version for Guitar Hero 4.

Really looking forward to Guitar Hero 3

I’m a recent convert to the Guitar Hero series.  I don’t own a PS2 or 360 so I never played Guitar hero 1 and was only able to play Guitar Hero 2 occasionally at a friends place; I loved it so much that the only thing holding me back was the by-then-famous RROD issues on the 360.  That all changed a month or two ago when my flatmate bought a 360.  After he bought GH2 I quickly became addicted, and between having a bit of musical background as a kid and knowing a few of the songs inside out from previous experience I was quickly smashing songs on the hard difficulty.

I, like a few other friends I’ve talked to, had serious difficulty with two of the songs on hard; in both cases it was the second song in a set that I had otherwise completed with ease.

“Woman” by Wolfmother is in the second set and is the first point where you really need to get good at fast hammer-on and pull-off sections.  I think that song took me a week, but once I’d finished it I quickly ate up the other songs until I hit the 8th set.  I completed the usual suspects, even 4 starring one of them – but “Carry Me Home” by The Living End absolutely killed me and the one time I made it past 5% it wasn’t pretty.

After many frustrating nights I was quite happy to just give up on the game, I think it was mid October by then and I knew Guitar Hero 3 wasn’t too far away.  I only got up to the third set on Expert before calling it quits due to the Carry Me Home issue and I won’t go back now; I don’t want to burn out on trying to complete those songs when GH3 is due out on Wednesday.

 

Anyway, back to the point of my post.  I downloaded the GH3 demo when it was released a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve played it through pretty much every night since 😀

I’m not a huge fan of the guitarist model changes or the rock meter, but I love the new score counter / note counter setup.  I also like the easier difficulty. The note timings are much wider and it doesn’t fail you anywhere near as fast (at least on hard, I’ve heard expert is torture in places).  In particular the timing for the HO/PO sections is huge in GH3; there are sequences of notes that I would absolutely not be able to pull off in GH2 but I can nail them at least half the time in GH3.

Tonight however I realised that the track “Lay Down” by Priestess has a very similar HO/PO section to the start of Carry Me Home.  Despite the easier note timing in the demo, I’d played so much that I was 5-starring Lay Down and figured it was worth a shot.

I loaded it up and nailed Carry Me Home’s intro on the first shot, taking only 3 tries to finish the song.  It turns out that somewhere in the week off from GH2, the GH3 demo has taken me that final step to easily moving between 5 fret buttons with 4 fingers.  The final GH2 encore, Free Bird, went down on my second try.

 

I finally have this controller nailed, and I’m using it the same way I approach touch typing.  I don’t use a keyboard by sitting on home row; my brain instinctively knows where each key is on the keyboard and how to put my finger on it.  With only 5 buttons on this controller it’s not as random as my typing but the point is I can concentrate on what notes I want to play rather than how I need to hold my fingers for each chord.

So yeah, I’m pumped for Guitar Hero 3.  I want the wii version, but I think that will have to wait because my flatmate already has the 360 guitar so it makes more sense for him to pick up the 360 version.

Murder mystery, old-school text adventure and fantastic story

While my parents didn’t get a PC until after the days of text adventure games had passed, I still had some exposure to them at school and have fond memories of wandering around online MUDs after discovering the internet.  And that’s the sort of gameplay I recall when I played Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.  This series originally began as a Game Boy Advance trilogy released only in Japan, but mild success there translated into stellar sales when ported to the DS.  And thankfully, the re-releases are done dual language Japanese/English as well as finally taken outside of Japan.

It’s been a year since I finished the first game, I became thoroughly addicted to it while on holiday in Thailand.  It was a bit of an oddball choice, originally popular amongst the internet crowd when someone created the Objection! generator from an in-game sequence.  It came highly recommended as a solid title so I reluctantly gave it a shot; you wouldn’t think that murder investigation and courtroom drama made for a particularly interesting story.  I’m glad I did, because I loved it.

This is, at the core, a text adventure perfectly ported into something today’s graphic-oriented gamers can connect with.  While investigating you have a list of directions you can move, and at each scene you can either look at objects or talk to people nearby – exactly how we used to only with pretty pictures instead of text commands.  It even features identifiable music that does well to set the tone of each location and congratulate you when you make a breakthrough in the case.

You need to exploit all of the available options to gather evidence, and there’s no rush; the game will not progress until you’ve found every clue (often frustrating, but in a good way).  Once you’re prepared with evidence, the courtroom drama makes for an exciting interlude. It will take some time to get the hang of the court system, but the first case of the game is always a guide case.   You still have to do the hard work to win, but there’s absolutely no penalty for mistakes.

The court battles are semi-realistic; it’s all about using the evidence you’ve collected and connecting the dots to find contradictions in testimony.  The difference is that in this setting the courts are overloaded – your client is guilty until proven innocent and you only have 3 days to do it.  This is where the real murder mysteries are played out, and reminds me of the old cluedo boardgame (another childhood favourite).  Courtroom standoffs get quite difficult towards the end, after the first case you are only allowed 5 incorrect objections before you lose.

In later games they switched from 5 strikes to an easier “life bar” system that refills at certain points, but it’s still annoying enough that you don’t want to lose.  The game does lets you save at any time which reduces the risk – but at many of the “prove your case now” points they disable the save button!  The game is also quite long, towards the end of the game you switch from investigations to the courtroom and back again many times as cases drag out to the full 3 days allowed.

This challenging but forgiving gameplay has made it very popular.  The second game was released in Japan just after my holiday in October 2006, which I immediately imported and was very happy with (even if I was too lazy to finish this blog entry at the time).  It gave a new twist to the series, moving the investigation stages above the sometimes boring “click every button you see and you’re done” mentality.  The third game arrived a couple of weeks ago and I’m midway through the second case, enjoying the fun all over again.

You’ll notice that the more recent games place emphasis on it as the “Ace Attorney” series, and attempt to stop it being called “Phoenix Wright”.  This is because the series has been vastly more popular than originally anticipated.  You see the Japanese title translates to “Turnabout Trial” and doesn’t place any emphasis on the main character; that was added for the English-speaking audience.   That choice poses a problem because the fourth iteration (released in Japan earlier this year) doesn’t feature Phoenix in the game at all.

It was also a Japanese-only release so unfortunately I’m stuck waiting for the eventual English translation; needless to say I cant wait 😀

(For my local readers, the first game was released in Australia earlier this year and the second was released last week).

Update on my posts over the weekend

Some of the topics I posted about last weekend have received extra attention this week.  The majority of the new discussion is related to my DRM post; I’ve put all of this on my link blog but I know of at least a few people who read my blog and don’t subscribe to the links.

Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality wrote up a nice summary of BioShock issues that covers not only the issues I experienced, but the stuff that I left out.  He also links to a Bioshock DRM article at TwitchGuru which goes into a lot of detail about the SecuROM issues and quite rightly calls this “a badly botched launch for an early contender for game of the year”.  Meanwhile, Alex from the WGA management team has posted the details of why WGA failed (I was right, they had a cascade of sysadmin mistakes) and promises to prevent it ever happening again.

In much brighter news, both Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins left comments on my 7th Son post.  As much as they love me for what I say about them, I still consider this a bit of an honor and once again proves my point about podcasters connecting with their audience 😀

While I’m on the topic of podcasters loving me, if you listen to today’s DSC you’ll hear Adam raving about a link I sent him (show timestamp 12:50) – the Opera Mini beta which is attempting to produce an iPhone-like browser for any Java enabled phone.  I highly recommend the Opera vs iPhone video, it’s hilarious 🙂