Archive for the PS2 Category

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 12, 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!

Avatar: The Burning Earth Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Gaming, PS2 on November 5, 2007 by thelonegamer

I was able to get some playtime with Avatar the Last Airbender: The Burning Earth for the PS2 over the weekend. What are my thoughts on this 2nd game in the Nicktoon-to-game series? Read on.

The second game based on the Avatar franchise (which I love to distraction), Avatar: The Burning Earth is set naturally in Season 2 of the series, or The Book of Earth. Avatar Aang and his friends, the Water Tribe brother and sister Sokka and Katara and animal companions Appa and Momo, arrive in the vast Earth Kingdom to find an earthbending teacher. The main Story Mode of the game is split into chapters, each of which is based on an episode from the cartoon. While the first chapter, The Avatar State, dispenses with any exploration or character interaction and just throws you into a battle against a misguidedly hostile Earth Kingdom general and his troops, the rest of the episodes after have you and a companion (either human or CPU-controlled) going through a stage to end up with a boss encounter or big fight at the end.

The controls are pretty easy- two attack buttons, a jump, a block and a character switching button are available, and the response is adequate. The CPU companion at least does a good job of following you around, but doesn’t seem to do very well with fighting on its own against enemies. Still, I didn’t find myself babysitting my ally since you can pretty much handle most encounters yourself, and they don’t die permanently anyway (this IS a Nicktoon after all). The simple platforming and puzzle elements are kiddie-friendly and frustration is kept at a minimum by the fact that even if you make a mistake and fall off or fail a section, you simply teleport back to try again. Same goes for your CPU ally- as long as you make it, they’ll make it.

The game’s challenge is usually found at the end of the stages, when you face off with a boss fight. Some are expected, like General Fong in Chapter One, or the Swamp Monster in, well, The Swamp. The game diverts at times from the series, such as throwing the Fire Nation Governor at you as a boss in the Return to Omashu chapter (he was a non-combative pansy in the cartoon) instead of a confrontation with the Ozai Angels, perhaps to save the formidable Princess Azula and her cronies as the final bosses for the game.

For the most part, the fighting action is simple and easy, and you unlock moves and characters as you go in the Story Mode for use in the Combat Arena mode. The latter is a one-on-one fighting mode set in the Earth Rumble Tournament Ring, where you can face off with a human or CPU-controlled opponent. Initially only Aang, Katara and Sokka are available, with more unlocked as you encounter them in the Story Mode. There’s not much to the combat, and disappointingly it doesn’t make for a very compelling or deep beat ’em up- don’t expect Street Fighter. But for fans, being able to kick butt with the Avatar cast should be a treat.

This will be a nice diversion for fans of the series and those who played through the first game and liked it- it’s more of the same but slightly better thanks to the inclusion of the series’ more fun characters (Toph) and a more action-oriented feel throughout. Anyone else might be a little lost or confused by some of the storytelling. Better check out the actual cartoon instead of this game to get a real feel of the Avatar series.

Hot Game

Posted in Action Adventure, Gaming, PS2 on October 24, 2007 by thelonegamer

I got myself several games today, the most ‘newsy’ of which would be Avatar the Last Airbender: The Burning Earth for the PS2. I kinda-sorta-probably liked the first game, but only ’cause I’m an Avatar fan and at the time I was really hurting for my Nicktoon fix. Anyways, it will be nice to see what this bigger, better game in the series has to offer… I mean, getting to play a Firebender via Zuko or Iroh should be cool (heh), and Toph should ROCK in gameplay. Ouch, painful stuff. Anyways, I’ll post vids and info once I practice some bending.

The Simpsons Game

Posted in Action Adventure, Gaming, PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox360 on September 9, 2007 by thelonegamer

I remember at least a decade ago watching The Simpsons arcade game- it was a Final Fight-style beat ’em up, with you picking a member of the clan and wailing away on mobs of bad guys to try and save Baby Maggie, who has been kidnapped by the evil Smithers. It was cool and 4-player games are always a blast. But since that time, it seems that most Simpsons games weren’t really up to snuff. That seems set to change with The Simpsons Game coming out this Fall.

The game apparently involves the family realizing that they’ve been put into a videogame (heh) and thus learning that they each have videogame-y super powers. In one stage, Homer gets the ability to inflate himself into a ball and bounce around. Lisa gets a ‘Hand of Buddha’ type power where a giant hand reaches down from the sky to pluck things out of the ground. Marge gets the power to gather a mob and fight oppressive corporate thugs, while Bart gets to turn into Bartman (and all that entails). The graphics look like they’ve been snatched right out of The Simpsons Movie, with sharp cel-shaded characters that look just like the cartoon. And, despite being so cartoony, the physics are pretty impressive during parts where stuff gets blown into pieces, or when Homer turns into a soft, bouncy ball. There are cool storylines and stages, like the Private Ryan-esque Medal of Homer stage, as well as homages to classic Simpsons episodes like Attack of the 50 foot Eyesores and the Treehouse of Horror specials and even some videogames like Katamari Damacy and Okami.

After seeing that the producers seem very much well-versed and dedicated to the actual source material, this doesn’t seem to be a trashy cash-in like previous games based on the Springfield cast. I certainly found myself actually looking forward to this, when it comes out later this year on pretty much every console.

In the meantime, check out this awesome featurette on the game, from Gametrailers.

Ikki Tousen Shining Dragon Review

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Gaming, PS2 on August 6, 2007 by thelonegamer

Sadly, not all the short skirts in the world can make this game anything more than a disappointingly shallow novelty.

I got my copy of Ikki Tousen: Shining Dragon last week, and I tried playing it over the weekend.
As expected, this one-player fighting romp puts you in the overly-short skirt of one of the butt-kicking anime babes of the combat-and-fanservice-heavy series. The main diversion is a Story Mode where you pick one of several girls to go through a series of fights. The mode starts with a talking heads-style cutscene (all in Japanese) and basically, an opponent will arrive and challenge you. The fights start with your character facing off against a gang of underlings- schoolgirls, male students and for the later stages, thugs in luchadore masks. Once you beat the cannon fodder, you face off against the actual enemy character in single combat. After every fight, you get points which you can use to upgrade your stats- and it’s pretty vital for you to do so, since enemy peons get stronger as the game goes on.

In terms of looks, the game is clean, if pretty basic. The characters themselves look okay, just not great. The most can be said is that they look like their anime counterparts well enough. The stages are pretty unspectacular, featuring venues like schoolyards and shrines which aren’t that exciting at all to look at. Animation is smooth, if again, unspectacular- all punches and kicks and that’s it.

The controls are pretty basic- you have two attack buttons, a block, a Rage Attack button and a special attack you have to unlock. As far as I can tell, you have no throws or grapples (not even Ryomou has any, and that’s supposed to be her specialty). The Rage Attack can be used once you fill a power meter- once activated by pressing circle, your attacks get stronger and you can’t get thrown off your feet by blows (you still get damaged though). Or you can just press circle again to grab your enemy and do a Special Technique. The Special Rage Attack will kill a normal enemy- do it on another name character and it’ll rip their clothes aside from doing damage.

The fighting is kinda broken- fighting underlings is irritating since blocking is almost useless- you can’t avoid getting hit most of the time as enemies mill around you; Ninja Gaiden this is NOT. It’s just a matter of upgrading your stats after every fight or things will get impossible since the enemies cause far more damage than you can dish out. The best way to go is to keep using Rage mode to power your attacks and just button-mash until no one’s left standing.
Luckily, the actual main opponent characters are pretty braindead- just mash away at square (normal attack) and you’ll do fine; do Rage attacks to rip their clothing, attack, mash, rinse and repeat. You can be as cheap as you want, and you should since often you’ll start at a disadvantage from having to fight the underlings.

Anyways, what’s the point to all this? Finishing Story Mode will unlock special Cosplay modes- which will let you dress up your character (and your opponent) in the ubiquitous Japanese school swimsuit or PE uniform. Unfortunately, there’s not much room or opportunity to appreciate this since the gameplay is so basic and mostly brief- you can’t even appreciate the characters in their ripped outfits, which negates the whole point of having that feature. There’s a Mission Mode, which prolongs gameplay a bit but in the end it’s just more of the same.

Needless to say, this game is almost totally in Japanese; the names of the characters at least are in english, so you can tell who’s who. The Story Mode features lots of dialogue, but really, it all boils down to your girl getting challenged by that other girl because of some other girl attacking that girl posing as your girl. Or something like that.

It’s pretty disappointing to find this game as it is; if only this was an actual fighting game, with every character having unique moves, combos, throws and special attacks, this would be a killer title. Ikki Tousen certainly deserves a true fighting game to its name, rather than this shallow novelty game. As such, I can not recommend this to anyone save the most hardcore of Ikki Tousen fans- though as one myself, while I don’t regret getting the game, I do wish it was better. A lot better.
Everyone else is better off just spending the money on buying the actual Ikki Tousen anime. Lots better fighting and fan service there.

King of Fighters Maximum Impact Regulation A

Posted in Fighting Games, PS2 on August 4, 2007 by thelonegamer

A long name, but this as-yet import only PS2 fighter has it’s caveats. While I certainly like the 3-D King of Fighter Maximum Impact games (I have both 1 and 2, as well as Maniax for the Xbox), getting this one may be a bit of a stretch. More add-on than sequel, KOFMIRA has no Story Mode and basically is just KOFMI2 with the 3-man Team mechanic of the 2-D KOF games. In fact, there are only 2 modes: Practice and Time Attack, so don’t expect the robust goodness of KOFMI2.

Yeah, there are a few new characters like KOF anti-hero Ash Crimson, creepy Xiao Lon and the out-of-left-field WTF surprise Mizoguchi from Data East’s Fighters History… Man, if they just added little Judo powerhouse Ryoko, I’d be interested. Anyway, there are really no Unlockables since everyone is available off the bat. All the returning fighters are pretty much the same as before, and extras are actually even less with about half of the characters’ unlockable costumes missing.

For the most part, this is a straight arcade port, no frills and extras package. Only hardcore fans of the arcade game need apply, since they’ll be the ones who can appreciate the little details. Well, that’s the reason why this is given a monicker of Regulation A instead of being named simply KOFMI3. Look for the true sequel to SNK-Playmore’s 3-D fighting franchise to eventually surface on Next-Gen consoles.

Fighting Fan Service

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, PS2, RPGs on August 1, 2007 by thelonegamer

Anime Babes Battle!
It’s Dynasty Warriors, but with more boobs.

If you’re an anime fan to some degree, you probably know about Ikki Tousen. If you don’t, allow me to orient you. This anime/manga (retitled Battle Vixens in the US) is all about various high school students in Japan who possess special beads called megatama which contain the souls of heroes and warriors during the Romance of Three Kingdoms conflict in Ancient China. Yep… characters like Lu Bu, Diao Chan, Cao Cao and so forth have been reincarnated in the bodies of horny high school teens, most of them busty babes who have a penchant for getting their clothes ripped into shreds.

The series is pretty high on the fan service chart, with bouncy boobs, panty shots and violent brawls aplenty adorning pretty much every episode or chapter. The main heroines include Sonsaku Hakufu, a warrior-hero now embodied in a ditzy girl who loves to fight, and Ryoumou Shimei, a crafty warlord now inhabiting the body of a moody, emo girl with a fetish for French maid outfits and a fighting style like Royce Gracie. Sweet, eh?

Flash Kick!
Now THAT is what I call a Flash Kick.

Well, now fans of the game can look forward to a videogame with the Battle Vixens. Ikki Tousen: Shining Dragon was released recently in Japan, and features schoolgirl brawls, rippable costumes, fan service alternate outfits and a new character created just for the game. Based more on the second Ikki Tousen anime, Dragon Destiny, this is more centered on the female characters, including the powerful, halberd-wielding Kanu. A bonus character for the game is Ryofu, from the first Ikkitousen anime.

Players may think that Shining Dragon is a one-on-one fighter, but in reality it’s classified as an RPG, and is a strictly one-player affair, with battles against multiple enemies and single character boss fights. There’s a Story Mode and Mission Mode, and you can upgrade your chosen fighter as well as unlock extra stuff like their PE uniform or school swimsuit for use in combat.

Crotch Shot! Crotch Shot!
This one screenshot probably has sold this game for quite a few gamers.

Well, early word on this ranges from HORRIBLE to For Fans Only. Well, I’m a fan of this series, so I’ve already ordered my copy. I’ll post vids from this sexy brawler as soon as I can, and give my own personal thoughts on it. For now, chew on the screens and check out more screenshots here.