December 14, 2014

Video Impressions – Godzilla Demo

Filed under: Impressions — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 10:50 pm

Godzilla Demo Preview
While Godzilla won’t hit North America until next year, the game is releasing for the PlayStation 3 in Japan this month.

Bandai-Namco has a demo available via the Japanese PSN Store, and we’ve got some new video equipment to test out, so why not sit back, relax, hit play and watch me try to kill two birds with one stone in the most awkward way possible?


January 13, 2012

You Tell Us – The Final Fantasy XIII-2 Demo

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , — Jamie Love @ 7:54 pm

Final Fantasy XIII 2 Demo
I’m generally possessed of fond memories regarding Final Fantasy demos. The wayback machine reminds me of purchasing Parasite Eve in 1998, and the extra disc of Squaresoft wares that offered an early slice of Final Fantasy VIII for instance. Some of you may recall the demo for that release, which offered a chance to lead an early mercenary assault that was the final test before graduating as a member of SeeD. I had no idea about the time-bending twists that took place throughout the full game at that point – I just knew I wanted the game as soon as it released based on the mission and cinematic sorcery that demo unleashed.

While I’m not alone in losing a long-running connection to the franchise in recent years, the desire to renew a bond with a series that dominates so many of my earliest gaming memories has been boiling, peaked by the release of a demo for the upcoming sequel to Final Fantasy XIII that is now available on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Unfortunately, my best attempts have been dashed this week, because after playing through the demo twice now, I’ve never felt so completely lost, as if that short taste of XIII-2 somehow verifies that I actually have no idea how to play a videogame and have deceived you all for years somehow. Or perhaps that Square-Enix is pioneering some future for the RPG that leaves me in the backwoods talking to myself about how things used to be.

The demo drops you into a very dry town filled with dreary characters dealing with a very large nuisance, offering a chance to jog around fighting smaller monsters and even stumbling across a side-quest opportunity. There’s a shortage of narrative justification and an emphasis on simply jumping into the fray, gaining defeated monsters as allies that can be added to your party, opening up further possibilities of fusing monsters together like a mad Shin Megami scientist.

The battle system itself still creates a chaotic space where Paradigm Shifts switch between auto-battle inclined strategies, all while I pine for something I can take more measured time with like the RPG luddite I seem to be.

And I could go on chewing on that bone, or I could put the call out to you fine Sugarfiends to go forth and play this demo, and then return and tell me something about it and why it may or may not be the most important creation since sliced Moogle-bread – which is delicious with strawberry jam by the way. Since that seems like the better option, I’ll add that I’d really appreciate it if you would check it out over the weekend, assuming you haven’t already, and offer some opinions of your own in the comments.

Not only can you potentially help me understand Final Fantasy again, but you can also save this post from appearing rather lame should no one chime in.

January 12, 2012

The Asura’s Wrath Demo – What Just Happened? Edition

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 11:06 pm

Asuras Wrath Demo
I just finished doing something with the Asura’s Wrath demo. I don’t wholly know what it is that I did, and really, I’m not sure what kind of thing I did it with.

Ostensibly, Asura’s Wrath is a beat ‘em up—except, I think I maybe beat up three guys in the course of the demo, for a total of perhaps ninety seconds of gameplay.

The demo chiefly consists of cut-scenes and quick-time events; it plays like an interactive episode of Dragonball Z, where following the prompts progresses the story, chiefly by causing Asura to get angry and hit things harder.

Interspersed were a few brief gameplay interludes, where I actually had some limited freedom to move Asura and do what I would typically describe as “playing the game.”

These sequences involved A) running and blasting things, or B) running and punching things. In the latter section, I fought what would, in any other game, be called a boss battle—but strangely, even this brawl felt suspiciously as if it were on rails. Not that it was, not truly, but there was a pattern, there were prompts—and eventually, I understood that the game was trying to make me play out a cinematic with my own two hands. If the boss knocked me back, I could tap quickly and recover—if I advanced perfectly through his assault, I could attack. If I was exactly skilled enough, I would use all the right moves and the battle would simply look like a cut-scene.

It would look like a good one, too. The aesthetic of Asura’s Wrath is, in a word, brilliant. I’ve never seen a videogame look like this—like a painting come to life. What’s accomplished here is what so many games struggle endlessly with and never achieve; a true visual dynamism where the nature of the image can change, like a brush stroke, becoming smooth and calming or stressed and furious. The visuals alone demand attention, insisting the game be played.

If there is a game, that is. At the end of the demo, a title screen thanked me for playing, and I sat there, wondering: had I played? I had mashed some buttons, sure—but whether there’s a game here? Whether this is a videogame? I really don’t know.

I do want to find out.

January 11, 2012

Demo Report – Asura’s Wrath

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 4:13 pm

Demo Report Asuras Wrath
Swinging the many furious fists of an angry stone God can now be sampled on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, courtesy of a demo for CyberConnect 2’s upcoming Asura’s Wrath, which appears to pioneer the genre of Anime-Action-Space-God-Epic.

If you don’t find some mix of humor and awe in that bold new label, stepping into Asura’s heavy shoes may require checking a certain amount of reason at the door – this demo provides access to two separate chapters that are both heavy on chaos and light on narrative explanation. And as much as I favor firm narrative ground, there’s an abstract sense of sense to appreciate all the same here in addition to the ludicrous lengths the game goes to in order to tickle your “hey ain’t that cool” bone.

Both sample chapters also present breaks with title cards, as if I were actually watching an anime series on television – color me intrigued as to how that might play out further in the presentation.

As for the mix of gameplay offered – and it is mixed – there’s a definite sense of two streams converging into one enthusiastic hyper-thread attempting to build on existing real estate. That’s my way of suggesting that whilst playing, one certainly feels the Platinum Games’ philosophy of ever increasing moments of insanely impossible but irrefutably amazing feats, such as flinging a God into space only to have him return larger than the planet you just tossed his ass off of, or being stabbed by an extending sword that pushes you off one planet and into space only to then push you through the core of an entirely new planet. These things happen in Asura’s Wrath, presenting a new benchmark for ridiculous over-the-top action that I want to lamely label anime-approved-cool or some such nonsense.

But there’s also a bit of Ninja Blade’s determination to make something more useful of those pesky quick-time button prompts, which Asura’s Wrath also has plenty of – many of them attempting to draw a connection between cinematic styled sequences and your existence as a player versus a spectator, adding some ground by having you push the analog sticks to make Asura literally stand his ground during an attack for instance. There are also moments where you attempt to press buttons at the right time, mash buttons, and curse while rotating an analog stick in a fashion that seems to fly in the face of how normal humanoids hold controllers.

There are times when the experience is more traditional, dodging bullets from an overhead ship and getting in front of missiles for a chance to throw them back comes to mind. Boss encounters also present familiar patterns for dodging, with a bit of button mashing attached at the confrontation mark. But the rhythm is constantly shifting here, always looking for the next new plateau to separate the current action from a previous one.

The much shorter appraisal is that Asura is a God who spends a great deal of time being pummeled by other Gods until reaching his Hulk factor and filling the screen with explosive rage. How could you not want to break from listening to me and go check that out for yourself?

Oh hey and if you do, be sure to swing back around and let me know what you think.

August 21, 2011

The Last Word on X’11

X 11
As you may have noticed from the slew of hands-on posts, Sugar went to X’11 and played a bunch of delicious games—and we’re not done talking about them quite yet.

In addition to Binary Domain, Rise of Nightmares, and Dead Island, I had the opportunity to get my hands on a whole mess of other games—titles like Space Marine, and some other little indie games you might not have heard of, like Mass Effect 3 and Rage. If these are the sorts of things that interest you, you may click onward to unfurl my parchment of mighty gaming tales.


August 19, 2011

X’11 – Hands On With Dead Island

Filed under: Features,News Feed — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 8:14 pm

dead island
In the latest installment of our 254-part series “Games Sugar Played at X’11” we have Dead Island, much-anticipated co-op zombie masher.

This particular demo was timed, so I quickly set about grabbing my weapon—a wooden paddle—and getting down to business. The business of zombie-murder, that is—and as several franchises can attest, business is good.

The beach I stepped out onto seemed safe enough, until a zombie came up at my flank and grabbed a hold of me. A prompt informed me that I should pull the left trigger, setting the zombie up for a pull of the right trigger that socked him directly in the face, staggering him away.

This was actually one of the more satisfying moments in the demo, so intuitive that I didn’t actually need to see the second prompt to know what the game wanted me to do.

Now the zombie was down, but he wasn’t out—he was climbing back to his feet. I swung the paddle and he crunched nicely, but to my surprise, he endured.


July 29, 2011

Ascending the Metatron (Or Something) in El Shaddai

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
The demo for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has been available on Xbox LIVE for a while now, though you may have overlooked its strange offering, as I initially did. In my capacity as an official Sugar Human, I recommend you reconsider.

The demo takes place in what might best be described as a bizarre drug induced hallucination; a world made of shadow and glass, laced together like a spider’s web. At one point, the perspective shifts to that of a side-scroller, where I leapt across rolling waves of clouds and flying rocks as the sun rose and fell, replaced by some ominous face in the background, again and again.

The demo is strange and dreamlike; sheathed in angelic armor that breaks away to reveal what appears to be some kind of surfer bro in jeans, the protagonist platforms through areas that seem only tangentially related, finding demons to fight in glassy arenas made of light and dark.

I challenged a boss, only to suddenly find myself somewhere else, platforming again, as in those strange dreams where you walk through a door to find the nature of the dream has completely changed.

It’s going to be a pretty thin summer for games this year, so it may be worth your time to check out this bizarre action entry; I played for half an hour, and though I’m not entirely sure what it is that I played, I can tell you that it was awesome. El Shaddai will arrive in North America on August 16 for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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