Link: Oratan 5.66 official site

oratan_566_logo.jpgOratan has made the leap onto Xbox Live Arcade. Specifically MSBS 5.66, which was the final arcade iteration of the game (and arguably the best). This port will also feature full online versus but there is an elephant in the room in terms of the control input.

The original Dreamcast port afforded a twinstick peripheral, allowing you to play the game with the same response time as in the arcade. Bear in mind that these were digital microswitched sticks, and the leverage of the stick itself negated almost any deadzone. This resulted in a game that had pinpoint precision in terms of its control input. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the more basic elements of the game were lost on a pad as consequence.

The Dreamcast version was MSBS 5.45, 5.66 never saw a real home conversion (the hacked customize disc doesn’t count here, as the arcade version was still very different in lots of ways) and was only balanced against the sticks. Considering the increase in speed over the previous iterations, I’m really not sure how this will work on a pad. Marz and the recent SEGA AGES port run at a slower pace compared to Oratan, which was always the more reflex-based game in the series, and neither of those worked very well on a pad either.

The game will be out in April and cost 1200 Microsoft points. There’s a nice trailer here in case you’re curious.

Edit: In my latest column over at GameSetWatch I go into a lot more detail about the Virtual On series as a whole. So if you’re new to the games it might help clarify a few things.

News: Top XXX crappy game review tropes

I’ve been incommunicado for a while, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to say. One thing that’s been bothering me yet again these days is the poor state of game reviews. I’ve said a lot of this before, but here I particularly want to highlight some of the worst language tropes that people fall into. These phrases are nearly meaningless at this point, and are used in an attempt to be more personable or clever, but actually wind up as regurgitated fluff that takes the place of actual thought, writing, or criticism. This isn’t meant to be all of them, it’s just all I could think of after working all day, at 12 am. Here we go:

let’s just say
let’s face it
don’t get me wrong
the visuals
wonky
however (without juxtaposition, the word “however” is irrelevant, yet people continue to use it improperly)
minor gripes aside
while it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre
pales in comparison
worth the wait
hot little hands
it was only a matter of time
(x game) is like (y game) on (z drug I’ve never tried)
literally (while actually meaning figuratively!)

There are plenty more, but you see what I’m getting at. Most of these are used as filler, while the author thinks they’re actually doing real writing which simply upsets me to no end. Many of these were checked against IGN site-specific searches for returns of over 10,000. These are the kinds of phrases you find Gamefaqs forums fans emulating. And these are the kinds of phrases we need to get away from if we ever, ever want to move toward real criticism. I don’t forsee that day coming, with every journalist wanting to become a developer and leave their “writerly” past behind, but hey, we can dream.

Bonus: Here‘s my coworker Christian Nutt’s thoughts on a similar subject, regarding a specific review. See how you feel about it, then.

P.S. I am terribly sorry for only having three updates this month, only one of which is mine. It’s honestly really difficult to keep this site going whilst having a job and trying to survive and all. But as Yeats said, I shall endeavor again.

Update: Border Break

border_break_blastrunner_launch1.jpgLots of lovely coverage released today about SEGA’s new mecha game, Border Break. It’s also using the new Ring Edge arcade board, which appears to be even more potent than the Lindbergh. There are two videos going the rounds at present as well, one is your shiny CG promo video and the other is the more interesting gameplay footage.

The latter pretty clearly assuages any and all Virtual On references in terms of the fixed vectored dash mechanics. It’s more analogue and grittier, akin to the original Armored Core games really. Location tests for the game start next week in Japan and the mecha are cheerfully called “Blast Runners”.

Link: Fourteen

2Impact_artwork_01.png Some people have been asking me if I was going to post news again on IC, so well, here’s one now! Actually, this is just to announce that my own site is back online again, after a few weeks in limbo.

I believe it will interest you all, though. It comes with a brand-new issue, the fourteenth, no less, which features discussions on Gen-san and Kyuiin among other old pieces, but it also tries to provide an insightful approach to this second burst the 2D fighting genre is getting these days, complete with a recap of every game released in the past year and all the forthcoming titles announced to this date so far and to be shown in next weekend’s AOU 2009.

It’s in Spanish, but at least it’s now more Firefox-friendly!