Portal: Still Alive - Review

Portal: Still Alive, XBLA - 1200 MS point

Review by Numan1617

To start off, and clear up some confusion surrounding Still Alive, I will state that the main game is exactly the same as the one included in The Orange Box. However, there are an additional 14 test chambers and new achievements that were not on the disc.

Given the length of time that The Orange Box has been out, I will not cover the main story/game of Portal but will instead focus on the new challenges. All of the charisma of the old Portal is still there and the challenges really do make you start "thinking with portals" once again. The new game mechanics add to the feeling of impending doom you get when playing through the story version of Portal, and some of them really make you sit back and think "how the… do I do this?"

The first new chamber sets things up nicely with a relatively simple 'get through the door' style challenge, so if your new to the world of Portal you have a nice stepping stone to get you underway, as well as helping you back in the saddle if you are a survivor of the original.

From here on out the pace really begins to pick up, so consider yourself warned. Chamber 3 is where things get interesting with the first new game mechanic, which I won't spoil here - suffice it to say that you may need to break an emotional bond.

Just the new chambers alone will give you an additional 10 hours of gaming (your mileage may vary, this figure is based on my experience) as you get the additional 14 chambers, each containing 3 types of challenges (fewest portals used, fastest time and fewest steps) so you will definitely have your work cut out.

Given the additional gameplay hours and the fact it includes a game you may already own, the value for money may be different for different people.

The new mechanics really do revitalise the game even though the main story is the same.

Overall I will say that if you did not purchase The Orange Box then this is a must have game just for the story/gameplay alone and if you did buy The Orange Box then just ask yourself the question: "Do I want to be challenged by a good old game once again?" In my case the answer was yes. I just can't get enough of this game.

15% off Play-Asia Sale

I am about to go out, so I can't pick the highlights (please feel free to make suggestions in the comments), but Play-Asia have a 15% off everything sale going on right now.

Be quick, you have just over 2 days, and if something goes out of stock, it's back up to full price.

LGF: At Eurogamer Expo

Just posting from Eurogamer Expo day 1, played a bunch of games and just stopping to refuel. Good news so far - one of my complaints with Mirror's Edge has been fixed, the cut-scenes are skippable. Good stuff.

LGF: LittleBigPlanet

Yesterday I popped along to Covent garden to have a play of LittleBigPlanet, and this is how I got along:

LGF: Guinness World Records: The Videogame

As part of the DS: London record attempt, TT Games where showing off their new Wii Minigames compilation (a real gap in the Wii's library...) "Guinness World Records: The Videogame".

It looks alright, I guess. I has online leader boards, and a bunch of other stuff. I was one of 4 lucky people who got the chance to play it. The balloon popping game involved holding the Wiimote in your hand and waggling it as fast as you could. That's the game.

Check it out:

LGF: DS:London Record Attempt

As part of the London Games Fringe, DS:London made an attempt at breaking the record for most people playing the DS in one place at one time. The record was previously held by some Australians.

Here's what we got up to:

LGF: Girl Gamers Tournament

I didn't actually mean to go to this event, but it was in the same place as the DS Record Attempt, so we caught the final few rounds.

The level of skill varied between the different players, some were new to the games, and some were seasoned experts, but everyone had a lot of fun.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 - Review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, PS3 - £27.98 delivered

Review by Amitai Winehouse

As a pre-warning to anyone reading this review, I must tell you that I am reviewing the Playstation 3 version of this game. As far as I am aware, the PS2 Version will likely be the same as last year with minor updates. They have done the same for the last 2 or 3 years.

Last year was not a good year for PES. Poor online play. Not 'next generation' enough for consumers. FIFA arguably catching up. A horrible port appearing on arguably it's biggest non-USA console, the PS3. Konami had a lot of work to do, and I can gladly say that they've done that and more. The graphics are better, the atmosphere is better, and the gameplay is what it should be, unlike FIFA.

Pro Evolution Soccer has always been renowned for one thing, even in the days of Oranges11, and that is quality football. It's been called the "Football Fan's Game", and never is this more true than in 2009. From the minute your first game kicks off, you feel as though you are in the stand watching a match, a real match. Players move realistically, the ball flows, and every pass seems to count. When the ball hits the back of the net, you can't help but celebrate ever so slightly.

Yes, a lack of licenses does bring you out of the realism every couple of minutes, and it's never fun to play against North London Blue. But the inclusion of the Champions League and an apparent patch in the coming months which will add more licensed teams might help this. The Champions League includes everything you'd expect, including the opening video, and most importantly, the theme music. The coverage plays up the history of the Champions League as you play it, and once again you find yourself immersed in what seems to be a real game, thanks to Champions League branded TV Broadcasting.

If there is one place PES can be faulted over recent years is a lack of innovation. The Be a Legend mode is ripped straight out of FIFA, but there is one huge difference. As I said before, PES seems like a real game, and therefore when John Smith runs out onto the pitch for Real Madrid, you can't help but think that you yourself are appearing in front of a packed Bernebau.

This game is not perfect, and despite the beauty of it, we still have not reached photo realism, and many players are still the generic people we'd expect sadly. However, as a full game, PES 2009 trumps the 2008 effort in every single category. If you didn't own that, I'd recommend it outright for any console. For the PS3, if you owned 2008, I would again say it is worth paying full price for 2009. As someone who never experienced the Xbox 360 version of 2008, I don't know if it was any good, but I'd argue that some of the new features in '09 are worth whatever cheap price you can find at the end of this review.

Judgement: Worth a buy.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, PS3 - £27.98 delivered

LGF: Video Games Live

Wow, Video Games Live was the perfect kickstart to the London Games Festival. A lot of fun, and really well put together. Everyone had a great time time.

Here's what we got up to:

Classic Arcade Medley:

Tommy Tallarico opening/Metal Gear Solid:

Canapés and Wine:

We were going to try and grab Tommy and Jack for a few words, but they got mobbed by a massive queue of people, so we just decided to mingle, and have some wine and Canapés.

All in all, it was a great evening, I'd definitely love to go again. Video Games Live have also just put out a retail CD in the UK "Video Games Live - Volume 1", and it has a great selection of tracks, with something for everyone. You can get it here for £9.98 delivered.

There was lots of gamer in joke, and audience participation. I was a little concerned it might be a bit pretentious, but not even slightly. If you've never seen a Live Orchestra, but would be interested in seeing one, Video Games Live would be a great first experience of a Live Orchestra.

It was always going to be the case, but there was some songs I would love to hear them play. But they told us to contact them with any requests, and I will be doing.

Brilliant night.

The Road to LGF

I've not had much sleep, not got a seat on the train to London, and the train is delayed. I have a big cup of hot Tea. London Games Festival is going to be brilliant.

Video Games Live is tonight and I can't wait, I'll be sure to report on it.

London Games Festival GO!

London Games Festival is about to kick off, and as you may know, me and Willeth will be there, and we'd love to see some of you guys if you're going to be there.

Here's the (provisional) events I'm going to be at:

Video Games Live
- 24th
A Live concert with Tommy Tallarico, Jack Wall, and the English Chamber Orchestra performing classic and contemporary Video Game music at the Royal Festival Hall. I'll be at the 4pm showing.

DS World Record
- 25th
I'll be helping set a new record for most DS players together in one place, at the Rocket Centre at London Metropolitan University at 4pm.

LittleBigPlanet - Covent Garden - 26th
I'm probably gonna check out the 'creative workshops' in covent garden, and see if I can do/make something cool.

Eurogamer Expo 2008 - 28-29th
The big event, I'm going to be playing as much as I can, definitely RE5, Left4Dead and Fallout 3.

GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair - 28-29th
I may also try and get a job

Rock Paper Shotgun: THE LONDON THINKOSIUM - 28th
I'll be at the Alphabet Bar, I'm sure this is going to be a right laugh.

If you can't make it to any of the festival, I'll be record as much of it as I can, so watch this space. If you are going to be about, shoot me an email on lewiep@savygamer.co.uk, and we'll have to meet up!

Xbox 360 Premium 60GB - £142.18

Tesco are selling the 60GB premium for £144.71, which is an incredible price. You can save a couple more quid by getting it from PC World via their pricematch.

You can order one to collect in store, and get them to pricematch it +10%.

Far Cry 2, PC - £19.99

Far Cry 2, PC - £19.99 delivered

Fatal Fury Battle Archive - Vol 1, PS2 - £13

Fatal Fury Battle Archive - Vol 1, PS2 - £13 delivered

Fatal Fury,
Fatal Fury 2,
Fatal Fury Special,
and Fatal Fury 3.

World Heroes Anthology, PS2 - £13

World Heroes Anthology, PS2 - £13 delivered

World Heroes,
World Heroes 2,
World Heroes Jet,
and World Heroes Perfect

King of Fighters Anthology, PS2 - £13

King of Fighters Anthology, PS2 - £13 delivered

Includes King of Fighters '94, '95, '96, '97, and '98.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Wii - £12.99

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Wii - £12.99 delivered

Endless Ocean, Wii - £9.99

Endless Ocean, Wii - £9.99 delivered

Bioshock, Xbox 360 - £12.99

Bioshock, Xbox 360 - £12.99 delivered

Tomb Raider Anniversary, PS2 - £4.99

Tomb Raider Anniversary, PS2 - £4.99 delivered

Castlevania Double Pack, GBA - £11.98

Castlevania Double Pack, GBA - £11.98 delivered

make sure you pick "Amazon.co.uk" on the right.

Contains Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance, which both looks fantastic on the DS.

Lair, PS3 - £9.98

Lair, PS3 - £9.98 delivered

make sure you pick "Amazon.co.uk" on the right.

Siren Blood Curse, PS3 - £13.93

Siren Blood Curse, PS3 - £13.93 delivered

Use discount code HALLOWEEN to get £2 off the displayed price. Thanks to Furry for the tip!

Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition, Xbox 360 - £49.99

Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition, Xbox 360 - £49.99 delivered

Art Book
Selected Soundtrack CD
Safety Deposit box
Duffel bag

Left 4 Dead, PC - £20.69

Left 4 Dead, PC - £20.69 delivered

Apply code "Softuk10" for 10% off. Thanks to $ilva $hadow for the tip off.

Assassin's Creed, PS3 - £9.99

Assassin's Creed, PS3 - £9.99 delivered

Boom Blox, Wii - £14.90

Boom Blox, Wii - £14.90 delivered

Project Gotham Racing 4, Xbox 360 - £9.99

Project Gotham Racing 4, Xbox 360 - £9.99 delivered

World of Goo - Review

World of Goo, PC/WiiWare

Review by LewieP

World of Goo is as close to perfect as it gets.

Please get it.

It's genuinely incredible.

I played the original tech demo for World of Goo (Tower of Goo), a few years back, and thought to myself "Wow, this is really neat, I wonder what could happen if they made a proper game out of this, I bet it could be fantastic."

That's exactly what 2D Boy have done, and it is fantastic.

It feels, and plays, like a very contemporary update to lemmings. It even has moments where you get to destroy everything on screen as a cathartic release from failing a level, before you give it one more go. The controls are brilliant, the animation is lovely, and the presentation is brilliant. The music is brilliant, it feels like it's not quite right, but that is part of the charm. Reminds me of Worms actually.

It is literally just about getting things from A to B. Although it's very post-portal. That's not a criticism at all, it has a lot of similarities with portal, but it really has it's own identify.

It's genuinely hilarious. Not just hilarious though, hilarious in a very game-y way. It has a wonderful character, 'The Sign Painter', who is consistently surprising, and consistently brilliant. Some of the scenarios are very witty, and very knowingly used.

All the humour, style and polish in the world won't make a fun game if the game isn't fun to play.

Luckily, World of Goo is fun fun fun fun fun.

The puzzles are very well constructed. They are always fair, and always logical. If you are anything like me, you'll spend about half the time working out what you have to do, and half the time working out how to do it. There is a lot of trial and error involved, but experimenting with different solutions is always a joy. It's very conducive to group play, taking turns.

World of Goo is a triumph of game design, and a breath of fresh air. Exactly what WiiWare needs, and a commendable indie effort.

It's an obvious conclusion, but thinking with Goo is the thinking with portals of 2008.

Clive Barker's Jericho, Xbox 360 - £7.97

Clive Barker's Jericho, Xbox 360 - £7.97 delivered

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Wii - £9.99

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Wii - £9.99 delivered

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, PC - £17.99

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, PC - £17.99 delivered

Timeshift, PC - £3.77

Timeshift, PC - £3.77 delivered

The SavyGamer Podcast, Episode 9

No, you're not missing an episode - this one's two episodes for the price of one, as I'm a lazy bugger and have to merge the two. We have a very interesting discussion on financing games and I dive into my backlog, finally. My audio's not great on this one as I had to work from a backup recording, but I think most of my points come across. Enjoy!

Show notes (Highlight to view):
00:00 Opening
00:37 Welcome
02:17 News - Portal: Still Alive, BioShock 2, MGS4 on 360, PS3 pricing and firmware, Will's various conspiracy theories around Microsoft and Sony, and a lot of things we're looking forward to in the future. Also a discussion on advertising and making original games.
39:57 What we've been playing - World of Goo, EBA, Sonic Chronicles and of course Rock Band and Halo. And more!
57:31 Bargains of the week:
Condemned 2 PS3/360
KORG DS-10 synth
Dark Messiah
Halo 3
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
1:04:52 Eurogamer Expo - We'll be there!
1:09:17 End of Episode 9 - A special message
1:09:35 Start of Episode 8 with a classy DJ intro, and why SavyGamer didn't update often for a week or so
1:13:12 News: TGS - XBLA, NXE, ODST, other acronyms. Also our new segment - Game That Lewie Thinks Are '...Alright'. Also, do Nintendo have some plans for the DSi they haven't revealed, and is Multiwinia being ignored? LittleBigPlanet and the legality and complexity of user-created content - check out this calculator!
1:55:25 What we've been playing - Lost Odyssey, Mega Man 9, Toejam and Earl, and more!
2:16:38 Bargains of the week:
Boom Blox, Elite Beat Agents.
2:20:30 Close

Total Runtime: 2:20:36
Total Filesize: 131.9MB

Got feedback on the show? Post a comment, or email us:
LewieP - lewiep@savygamer.co.uk
Will - willeth@gmail.com

MEGA MAN 9, XBLA - Review

Review by Will Templeton
(also available on WiiWare and PSN)

Mega Man 9 is a game that shouldn't really exist. The current climate of videogames tends to be that games should be challenging, but ultimately beatable. This is a philosophy that works best with the majority of gamers - people who play a few rounds of Call of Duty after work, or pull out Wii Sports with the kids. People who use GameFly and expect to be able to whizz through a game and get the full experience, and then swap it for another. Even Ninja Gaiden, widely acclaimed for its unforgiving nature, takes pity on you if you fail too much and offers you an easier option.

These kinds of people will hate Mega Man 9. This is a game that will chew you up and spit on you if you let it. This is controller-wrenching frustration, an exercise in self-punishment, developed by sadists who I want to get hit by a fireball and fall into a pit and die so they can get a taste of their own goddamn medicine.

But it's glorious. This is what Mega Man is all about. Every time you die, it's your own fault rather than some issue with the game being 'cheap', and every time you hammer the A button to have one more go. It just takes you right back to the first time you played a Mega Man game and that pursuit of perfection - you need to know the level inside and out and learn the exact mechanics of the game. It really is comparable to the original series of Mega Man on 8-bit systems.

If there's one sticking point, it's that there's not enough there to appeal to the new crowd who might pick it up. It's not necessarily trying to, though. This is a game that would only ever appeal to an existing userbase, and if there's something that confuses me about Mega Man 9, it's that someone at Capcom thought it was worth making. I'm grateful to them for doing so, of course, but it is fanservice at its most overt.

It's an oxymoron in itself - a modern retro game. Anyone who only started playing games within the last few years and thinks 'retro is cool' will be frustrated and disappointed. Most who grew up with the medium have graduated to different, more forgiving experiences - in essence, grown out of it. And that tiny subset of gamers who still crave this kind of thing? Well, they already own it.

Bully: Scholarship Edition, Xbox 360 - £15.96

Bully: Scholarship Edition, Xbox 360 - £15.96 delivered

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Xbox 360 - £7.97

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Xbox 360 - £7.97 delivered

Sega Rally, Xbox 360 - £7.97

Sega Rally, Xbox 360 - £7.97 delivered

Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific Collector's Edition, PC - £11.96

Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific Collector's Edition, PC - £11.96 delivered

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, DS - £7.17

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, DS - £7.17 delivered

Elite Beat Agents, DS - £9.56

Elite Beat Agents, DS - £9.56 delivered

Amazon Super Saver Delivery Change

Amazon have just altered the terms for their Super Saver Delivery - now, instead of £15-worth of items, you only need to purchase £5-worth to qualify for free shipping.

While it might not be the best method if you want to get something in a hurry (like a pre-order), I've usually found Super Saver to take only a few days to arrive and now you don't need to go scouting for something extra that's cheap in order to take advantage of it.

KORG DS-10, DS - £23.51

KORG DS-10, DS - £23.51 delivered

Apply code "B4U" for 2% off.

This is the UK release. Check out my import review here.

Sid Meier's Civilisation IV - Complete, PC - £10.99

Sid Meier's Civilisation IV - Complete, PC - £10.99 delivered

Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic, PC - £3.99

Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic, PC - £3.99 delivered

Really fun game. Get it.

Bully: Scholarship Edition, Wii - £16.99

Bully: Scholarship Edition, Wii - £16.99 delivered

No More Heroes, Wii - £12.99

No More Heroes, Wii - £12.99 delivered

Ghost Squad, Wii - £8.99

Ghost Squad, Wii - £8.99 delivered

Dragon Quest Swords, Wii - £11.99

Dragon Quest Swords, Wii - £11.99 delivered

Dewy's Adventure, Wii - £7.99

Dewy's Adventure, Wii - £7.99 delivered

Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, Wii - £7.99

Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, Wii - £7.99 delivered

Condemned 2, Xbox 360 - £12.99

Condemned 2, Xbox 360 - £12.99 delivered

Condemned 2, PS3 - £12.99

Condemned 2, PS3 - £12.99 delivered

Devil May Cry 4, PS3 - £11.99

Devil May Cry 4, PS3 - £11.99 delivered

Assassin's Creed, PS3 - £10.99

Assassin's Creed, PS3 - £10.99 delivered

Halo 3, Xbox 360 - £9.99

Halo 3, Xbox 360 - £9.99 in store

A quick search looks like there is plenty of stock around.

Might be worth checking to see if a local PC World has it in stock too, and you can get them to pricematch it to £6.99.

Buy one get one free PSP/DS

This offer has been on for a while, but a few new games have been added, and some have dropped in price. Most notably, Space Invaders Extreme is now £12.98 on both platforms (DS/PSP).

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, PS2 - £3.95

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, PS2 - £3.95 delivered

Ratchet And Clank: Tools Of Destruction, PS3 - £13.46

Ratchet And Clank: Tools Of Destruction, PS3 - £13.46 delivered

Enter code "freedel" for free P&P


Poverty is when people do not have access to what they require for an acceptable standard of living.

It's a funny term really. In a lot of ways, standard of living is pretty subjective. Depending on who you are and where you live, the criteria on which you judge standard of living are going to be different. What kind of things are essential? A car? An Education? Clean water?

A case can be made for all of them. In a hypothetical society where a car is the only feasible means of transport, not having access to one would be living in poverty. Education is one of the most important aspects of individual development. Clean water access is a basic human need.

Whether we like it or not, it serves a valuable social function. If everyone lived in relative comfort no matter what, there would be little to encourage people to succeed. I know I have seen people living in various degrees of poverty and thought to myself "I don't ever want to have to be in this position".

That's not attaching any blame or fault towards those who do live in poverty. The reasons for someone living in poverty are numerate and complicated, and often outside of their control. Maybe things would be better if the factors that determined whether someone lived in poverty had less to do with where they were born and more to do with who they are.

On an international level, it seems like it should be fairly simple to put into motion steps to reduce absolute poverty pretty drastically. Simple, but I guess not easy. It's just politics and economics. We have enough economists and politicians that we really should be able to resolve any political and economic challenge. I don't know what blend of free market economies, fair trade, international development, anarchism, science, communism, tax, infrastructure development, and just being nice is needed to reduce poverty in the areas worst effected by it, but I imagine that lots of people do know how to work it out. It's just about money.

Maybe I am under thinking it.

I don't really know what to suggest to you. I like to use SavyGamer to have a positive impact on the world whenever I can, but this isn't a problem I have the solution to. I don't know what I should do.

Is there anything that I should be doing?

There are lots of charities, but I've certainly not got enough spare money to give lots to charities, and charities themselves are kind of broken. I do volunteer work for Oxfam when I have the time, but I do that because I enjoy it, not because I think I am fixing the world.

I buy lots of fair trade stuff, but I don't really know how much of a difference that makes.

I used to sign lots of petitions, but not so much these days.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what the right thing™ is?

Update: I forgot to say, this is just my thoughts on the topic of poverty for Blog Action Day 2008

Please vote for SavyGamer

The RAM Raider Awards 2008 have just launched, and SavyGamer is eligible for the category of "Unwankiest Blog / Personal Website 2008".

I'd love it if some of you would vote for SavyGamer, either by emailing RamRaiderBlog@gmail.com, by Facebook or in the comments here.

The RAM Raider is a pretty great blog worth subscribing to, highly recomended.

Xbox Live Vision pack - £49.98

Xbox Live Vision pack, Xbox 360 - £49.98

This is the pack I used when I first joined Xbox Live. You get an Xbox Live Vision Camera, 12 months of Xbox Live Gold, a wired headset, codes for Live Arcade versions of Uno and Robotron, and 200 MS Points. There is also a free game called TotemBall on the marketplace that exclusively uses the camera.

Saints Row 2, PS3 - £15.97

Saints Row 2, PS3 - £15.97 delivered

Incredible deal. This looks like a misprice, given that Saints Row 1 is currently displaying the same price and that the 360 version is £34.97 (£31.82 elsewhere), but Tesco have a history of honouring these IIRC. Grab it if you want it, I won't judge you.

Enter code FREEDEL at checkout for free delivery.

EDIT 8pm 14/10 - This has now been corrected and is no longer available.

Gears of War 2 Limited Edition, Xbox 360 - £39

Gears of War 2 Limited Edition, Xbox 360 - £39 delivered

This comes with a code to unlock the golden Lancer for online multiplayer.

Gears of War 2, Xbox 360 - £34.89

Gears of War 2, Xbox 360 - £34.89 delivered

Prince of Persia from £23.99

PS3 £36.99
360 £36.99
PC £23.99

Fallout 3 from £22.89

PS3 £37.89
360 £37.89
PC £22.89

LittleBigPlanet, PS3 - £34.99

LittleBigPlanet, PS3 - £34.89 delivered

Fable 2, Xbox 360 - £33.18

Fable 2, Xbox 360 - £33.18 delivered

Use code 'perks' for 5% off. Thanks Kie!

Xbox Live 13 Month Subscription, £29.99

Xbox Live 13 Month Subscription - £29.99 emailed

This is from PlayTrade, which isn't run by Play itself but rather by its users. I think you can trust this given the testimonials, but bear in mind that you have very limited recourse should your code not arrive/work. Instead of a shipped product they'll just send you the code to redeem on your box.

If you feel uncomfortable about this then the next best deal is £34.86 delivered.

Dead Space from £25.91

PS3 £34.99
360 £34.99
PC £25.91

2100 Microsoft Points, £15

2100 Microsoft Points, £15 delivered

This might have to become the new standard. It's only just over a pound more expensive than the old Tesco deal, but it seems like much more.

Podcast episode 8 delayed :(

Sorry folks, I haven't been able to edit the show for this week before I head out the door to go to this event in London. I'll get it up early next week. Sorry!

Lost Odyssey - Review/How I fell out of love with the contemporary Japanese RPG and became a disenfranchised, prematurly middle aged, gamer

Lost Odyssey, Xbox 360 - £14.89 delivered

Review by LewieP

Lost Odyssey is a bad game.

The problem is, it's a good JRPG.

Every possible step of the way, it tries to delay you. It artificially lengthens the game by either poor design choices, or worse, intentional barriers, which only serve to disconnect you from your experience.

And playing Lost Odyssey will be a disconnected gameplay experience. It has cut-scenes, I guess this is par for the course with any modern JRPG, but they are far more jarring in Lost Odyssey than they have been for me for a while.

The cut-scenes are for the most part very well animated. However, all this does is highlight how badly animated the game is when you are in control. Kaim basically has the same quality of walking animation as Mario displayed in his 3D debut. The collision detection is awful, the environments lack any depth of interactivity. You can walk up to some objects, and press a button if you like. Kaim will then jerkily kick the object, and a glowing spark flies out of the object, and aparently that is supposed to signify you "Acquiring" the item. This whole process takes a good couple of seconds.

There are load times everywhere. Everywhere.


Once, I walked into a building (loading screen), walked upstairs and went to sleep (loading screen), cutscene (loading screen), walked outside (loading screen) walked a few paces, and triggered a cutscene, (loading screen) which was then followed by a boss (loading screen).

The cut scenes are (mostly) skippable, which is something. I guess.

The battles can be quite fun, but they are limited. Every time you enter a battle, one of your characters does their best ventriloquist act (in cut scenes, they lip sync, out of cut scenes, their lips don't move at all) and use one of their hilarious catch phrases, along the lines of "This'll be like taking candy from a baby", which wasn't that funny the first time, and gets no funnier with repetition. Each character has around 3/4 phrases. There will be hundreds of battles in any given playthrough. The battles themselves are basically all some variation on the same strategy - attack enemies until they die, but heal yourself before you die. Things are mixed up a bit, like how all JRPGs have slightly different battle systems, but the core gameplay is essentially identical to what you would expect from the genre.

Speaking of battles. They are random. The enemies jump, seemingly out of no where, and attack you in groups. They are pretty frequent. At first, I thought "Yes! They are going to have require interactive input", you have to hold down RT and let go at the right time to power up attacks. But that's it, there is no additional complexity to it, or different inputs for different moves/characters. Just one button.

I also encountered at least one boss where I had to grind to beat it.

The overworld is horrific. It's just a menu, not an overworld. Just a picture of a map, and a menu.

Also, for some odd reason, your party members other than you are not visible apart from in battles, and in selected areas. This is bad.

Despite (with the exception of the fantastic opening battle) the graphics only being acceptable, and the area's being tiny, and frequent loading times, the game still manages to have pretty bad framerate issues.

It also wants me to read. Now, I am happy to read, I love reading. But I don't want to spend this much time reading when I should be playing. Braid got away with having a large proportion of it's story told in text, because it did it well. It was quick, short, and didn't get in the way of the game, it enhanced it. Lost Odyssey throws a huge amount of text at you, and it just feels like they couldn't come up with a decent way of combining the narrative and the gameplay.

Also, "oh no, I have lost my memory" is not a plot device that you can get away if you are going to be that heavy handed with it.

The main characters are pretty one dimensional. Maybe that's not fair, but I certainly don't have any emotional attachment to any of the characters.

Without veering into spoiler territory, one of the main plot points is that the protagonist is an "Immortal". This means that no matter what, he cannot die.

Except he can die...if his health metre reaches zero in a battle. This disconnect between the 'gameplay' and the narrative is typical of not just Lost Odyssey, but the JRPG genre as a whole.

What I am getting at here is that Lost Odyssey probably ticks all of the boxes that it would require to be classified as a decent JRPG. The music is OK (although they could have done something other than the Final Fantasy Fanfare mixed up a bit for the battle victory theme) it has cut scenes in it, the characters all fit somewhere within the JRPG archetypes, as does the society, architecture, environment and fashion, and it relies on the same bullshit crutches that every JRPG in recent years has.

Now, I look at my long shopping list of complaints, and try to think of a JRPG I like. No, love.

I have to go back pretty far.

Let's say, back to Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Trigger has the following qualities:
Basically no load times,
Consistent overworld/battle scene,
Charming animation,
Few cut scenes (and all done with in game assets, from in game perspective),
Little redundant or repetitive dialogue,
No random encounters,
Little/no grinding needed
Great overworld,
All party members visible,
No framerate issues,
Characters I connected with
The plot and the gameplay were really well intertwined.

Now, I don't know if that's a fair comparison to make, and probably more than likely I am either looking back with a heavy twang of nostalgia, or at least I was a dumb kid when I first played it, and put up with all of its flaws.

But in my gut, it just feels plain wrong that we have moved so far backwards. With all the money, and all the hardware we have today, how can a game attempting the same thing do such a worse job of it.

It's not just Chrono Trigger either. A bunch of games from that era too. Earthbound, Final Fantasy III and to a lesser degree Pokémon are all good JRPGs and highly playable games.

Tell me, am I right here? Are new games broken and has the world gone shit?

Lost Odyssey has almost certainly got some good ideas in it, but they are lost in the bad design and blind following of the trend. I've not even completed the first disc of Lost Odyssey, but I am not hugely compelled to carry on. Why should I give my time to a game that shows me such little respect.

There is no reason that JRPGs should be excused of their failings just because they "come with the territory". I would love to see a wave of new, progressive, games, which push the genre forwards, instead of pandering to the audience.

Gamers are probably as much to blame as developers. We should demand more from our games, and more from our developers. If Lost Odyssey is the best the genre has to offer, then the genre is stale stale stale stale stale.

And yes, I have played TWEWY and that is exactly the type of progressive game I am talking about. Hats off S-E. Now lets continue to push things forward.

Elite Beat Agents, DS - £9.99

Elite Beat Agents, DS - £9.99 delivered

One of my favourite DS games. I would say a it's a must own for anyone with a DS.

FIFA 09, PS3 - £24.99

FIFA 09, PS3 - £24.99 in store at Morrisons.

I've heard from several people that Morrisons are selling FIFA 09 on the PS3 for £25. Might be on the 360 too. Let me know if you have any luck.

Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway, PC - £17.89

Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway, PC - £17.89 delivered

SNK Arcade Classics - Vol 1, Wii - £17.99

SNK Arcade Classics - Vol 1, Wii - £17.99 delivered

Art of Fighting
Baseball Stars 2
Burning Fight
Fatal Fury
King of Fighters '94
King of the Monsters
Last Resort
Magician Lord
Metal Slug
Neo Turf Masters
Samurai Shodown
Shock Troopers
Super Sidekicks 3
Top Hunter
World Heroes

Family Trainer, Wii - £38

Family Trainer, Wii - £38 delivered

Scene It? Box Office Smash Bundle, Xbox 360 - £29.99

Scene It? Box Office Smash Bundle, Xbox 360 - £29.99 delivered

Siren Blood Curse, PS3 - £15.93

Siren Blood Curse, PS3 - £15.93 delivered

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, Xbox 360 - £19.99

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, Xbox 360 - £19.99 delivered

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Xbox 360 - £4.99

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Xbox 360 - £4.99 delivered

SOCOM - Confrontation, PS3 - £29.99

SOCOM - Confrontation, PS3 - £29.99 delivered

Includes a wireless headset

FaceBreaker K.O. Party, Wii - £14.99

FaceBreaker K.O. Party, Wii - £14.99 delivered

Almost certainly going to be even worse than the 360 version, but it is also even cheaper.

The SavyGamer Podcast, Episode 7

Lucky number seven - the SavyGamer Podcast is getting closer and closer to being available when advertised. This week has pretty much been Nintendo Week and so we address that pretty thoroughly. Also this week - games that annoy us! I'm also toying with a new style of shownotes for this week - let me know what you think.

Show notes (Highlight to view):
00:00 Opening
00:37 Welcome
01:04 NEW PODCAST RSS FEED. Please update your feeds according to the details in this post.
02:40 Actually talking about games!
54:10 What we've we've been playing
1:07:35 Bargain of the Week
The Red Star, Burnout Paradise
1:12:14 Contest winners!
1:16:31 Meet the SavyGamers in London this month!
1:08:27 Close
1:18:36 Bonus: Excerpt from Two Drink Mike, by comedian Mike Birbiglia

Contest winners:

Congratulations to Caroline, who won entry into the LittleBigPlanet beta. Her entry really captured what a Sackboy(girl?) is all about and the detail was extraordinary.

Click to view full version

And congratulations to Alex, who has won a copy of the Collector's Edition for Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1. Here is his comic entry:

Click to view full version
(NSFW, expletives)
Entry based on this comic (also NSFW, expletives)

Link dump:
Joystiq's coverage of Nintendo's Media Summit
DSi in Europe Spring 2009?
Clarification: Wii games can be saved to SD, but not read from.
Experience issue in Halo is now fixed
Screenshots from our Annual run
The Pandora

Total Runtime: 1:18:44
Total Filesize: 73.8MB

Got feedback on the show? Post a comment, or email us:
LewieP - lewiep@savygamer.co.uk
Will - willeth@gmail.com

Boom Blox, Wii - £16

Boom Blox, Wii - £16 delivered

Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball, XBLA - Review

Review by Will Templeton

Whose side are you on? It's one or the other. It's a debate that's raged for centuries. But do you care?

Gamecock and Blazing Lizard certainly hope that you do, with their release of Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball on Xbox Live Arcade. 800 points (just over a fiver, depending on where you source your points) will net you a game that, while fun, will probably only last the life of the meme.

There's nothing deeply wrong with PvN Dodgeball. There's a cute story behind it with some genuinely funny moments. It's a fairly solid mechanic and I can see it being fun to play with other people once everyone fully understands it. But it's the little things that let it down.

For example, throwing the ball at the apex of a jump will result in a powerful throw that can't be caught or parried. However, I've found that it's extremely difficult to do this consistently, whereas the AI seems to be able to do it with almost every throw. Coupled with that, blocking requires extreme precision, and you have to be facing in the direction the ball is coming from, something that the game does not tell you directly. This can be very frustrating and leads to all too many cries of "Dammit, I pressed X!"

The ball can be difficult to distinguish from the stage on some occasions. As in some game modes the opponents can cross the centre line, this means that the AI can simply continually throw the ball at you and retrieve it while you're still wondering where it bounced. A simple glow would have fixed this but it not present.

I'd consider all this a little too critical except that if these were fixed then I can see a great little game underneath. Within a few minutes you could have learned all the controls and can been battling the other teams with your friends (there's Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, Zombies, and a 'secret' unlockable character team), except with the way it is now there are too many moments that feel cheap. When a game is this simple it needs to be balanced well, and it's too unforgiving.

I've never been a fan of the argument that 'you need to spend a little time with it and learn the game before you start to enjoy it.' Simple games like this - hell, most games that are designed for Xbox Live Arcade and similar services - are designed with ease of use in mind. But once you have spent a little time with PvN, it does show its true colours and I some of the battles are very entertaining. However, it still feels a little hollow. I shouldn't have to fight through that layer of frustration to find the gem underneath.

If you're paying 800 moon pounds for this game it feels like it should be a little meatier. It's not that this game isn't worth five quid or so, but the fact that for the same amount of money you could get an experience like Geometry Wars or N+ brings down the value. As of right now, it feels like a minigame that you would look forward to in a game like Mario Party. You wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to play it, but when it pops up, everyone enjoys it.

New Podcast RSS

If you use RSS to get the podcast then please note there is a new feed. This feed only contains the podcast and not the rest of the SavyGamer content. It is not a replacement for the main site feed - that will continue to exist - but if you only want the podcast, then there is a now a separate feed for that.

This is because some podcatchers read feeds in a way that expects only rich media files, and if there are a significant amount of posts in between podcast posts the podcatcher will only see the most recent episode. As SavyGamer sees a ton of posts per week this means that this was happening with our podcast, and so if anyone wanted to listen to an old episode they couldn't do it through RSS or iTunes.

So there you have it - choose which feed is more appropriate for you. If you want to see all the site content, then continue to use this feed. If you only want the podcast through RSS, then use this one.

If you use iTunes then you do not need to change your feed subscription at this time, but will need to once iTunes lists our new feed in order to retrieve the older episodes.


LittleBigPlanet, PS3 - £34.89

LittleBigPlanet, PS3 - £34.89 delivered

Preorder, released on October 24th.

Sainsbury console price drop

According to mcvuk.com, Sainsburies are going to be dropping the price of the Xbox 360 and the Wii in store as of tomorrow.

The Wii will be £149.97
The 360 Arcade will be £99.97
and the 360 premium (60gb) will be £139.97.

Cracking deal. Now is the time to pick up whichever of there you are interested in.

Nintendo Conference DS Montage

Nintendo's stream was getting hammered, so I have rehosted this:

It shows footage of the following DS games:
Self-indulgent Fashion: Girls' Mode
Know by Walking: Life Rhythm DS
Kirby Super Star Ultra
Cooking Guide
MLB Power Pros 11
Mega Man Star Force 3: Black Ace/Red Joker
Valkyrie Profile DS
Chrono Trigger DS
Chocobo and the Magical Picture Book: The Witch, the Girl, and the 5 Warriors
Mysterious Dungeon: Fuuren no Shiren 2
Let's Make a Soccer Team DS: Touch and Direct
Phantasy Star Zero
Wind of Nostalgeo
DS Nishimura Kyotarou Suspense Detective Series 2
Tamagotchi's Sparkling Shop
Tales of Hearts: Anime Movie Edition
Harvest Moon: Welcome to the Wind's Bazaar
Avalon Code
Prof. Layton and the Last Time Travel
DS Fortune-Telling Life
Friend Collection
Mario & Luigi 3
Made in Me (Wario Ware)
Solid Body Picross
Gyakuten Kenji
FFCC: Echoes of Time
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Shining Force Feather
Seventh Dragon
Infinite Space

Nintendo Conference Wii Montage

Nintendo's stream was getting hammered, so I have rehosted this:

It shows footage of the following Wii games:
Wii Music
Animal Crossing: City Folk
The Melancholy of Haruhi (Kadokawa Shoten)
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes
Samba de Amigo
Let's Tap
Cooking Mama 2
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Karaoke Joysound
Sky Crawlers
Happy Dance Collection
Family Ski: World Ski & Snowboard
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
Taiko Drum Master Wii
Tenchu 4
Harvest Moon
Rune Factory - Frontier
Shape Boxing
Wii Sports - Resort
Start w/ 100 Conversations! English Conversation
Punch-Out Wii
Another Code Wii
Cosmic Walker
Spawn Smasher
Dynamic Slash
Takt of Magic
Sin & Punishment 2
Forever Blue 2: Beautiful Ocean
Everyone's the Star on the NHK Red-and-White Quiz Battle
Line Attack Heroes
Castlevania: Judgment
Dead Rising: Chop Till you Drop
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Sonic and the Black Knight
Arcrise Fantasia
Oboro Muramasa

Burnout Paradise, PS3 - £17.99

Burnout Paradise, PS3 - £17.99 delivered

Willeth likes this game a lot.

The Red Star, PS2 - £2.49

The Red Star, PS2 - £2.49 delivered

I'm just going to copy and paste what I have said about this game in the past.

Buy this game.

It is a Shmup/Beat 'em up. With RPG-light elements.
It is set in civil war torn Neo-Russia
It has magic, and guns, and explosions.
It has references to Zoolander, The Office and Contra.
It is superb.

According to reports, you may get a factory sealed version, despite it being sold as 'preowned'.

Sonic Chronicles - The Dark Brotherhood, DS - £17.83

Sonic Chronicles - The Dark Brotherhood, DS - £17.83 delivered

Sid Meier's Civilisation IV - Complete, PC - £9.93

Sid Meier's Civilisation IV - Complete, PC - £9.93 delivered

Call Of Duty: World At War, PC - £27.93

Call Of Duty: World At War, PC - £27.93 delivered

Saints Row 2, Xbox 360 - £31.73

Saints Row 2, Xbox 360 - £31.73 delivered

Gears Of War / Blue Dragon / Crackdown, Xbox 360 - £19.99

Gears Of War / Blue Dragon / Crackdown, Xbox 360 - £19.99 delivered

Fantastic deal.

Facebreaker: KO Party, Wii - £17.99

Facebreaker: KO Party, Wii - £17.99 delivered

If the demo of the 360 version is anything to go by, Facebreaker isn't particularly good. In fact, I would say pretty terrible.

I guess it is cheap though...

Kudos 2, PC - £11.99

Kudos 2, PC - £11.99 download.

You may remember Cliff Harris as the PC developer who talked to pirates. We interviewed him on Episode 2 of The SavyGamer Podcast.

This is his first game release since his dialogue with pirates, and he's made some great changes to how he releases software. He has reduced the price by a third, increased the length of the demo and removed any and all DRM.

The game itself is a 'life-simulation strategy game'. Check it out.