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FEATURED VOXPOP shandog137 Background: I own and have completed every entry in the Ninja Storm series, so there is inherent bias but luckily this isn’t a review. These are just my thoughts on a fun series I chose to pick up after my Dragon Ball Z Budokai days. I am also only about 3 episodes behind in the...


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Ninja Storm Revolution: Initial Thoughts (Not a Review)
Posted on Friday, September 19 2014 @ 17:37:24 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Background: I own and have completed every entry in the Ninja Storm series, so there is inherent bias but luckily this isn’t a review. These are just my thoughts on a fun series I chose to pick up after my Dragon Ball Z Budokai days. I am also only about 3 episodes behind in the current anime (not the manga).
1. The Edo Kages are ridiculous and add some fun new move lists to the mix, particularly the Second Mizukage…Dude is a combination of Itachi’s clone bomb jutsu, Suigetsu’s thin water dragon is part of his taijutsu combo chain, and Diedara as he has some strong shuriken combos but also strong taijutsu combos…maybe a more appropriate comparison is to TenTen but his long-range combos are better in my opinion.
2. The separation of ultimate jutsu, awakenings, and support types really make for a ton of extra variety as they do a better job fleshing out character abilities and balancing the matches. Ultimate jutsu types can deal some heavy damage really quickly but may need to rely heavily on chakra depending on character or team. Several times I have transformed into a giant awakenings only to be sealed by an opponent using support type. Support is able to provide that extra bit of time to buffer between being attacked and charging so it is one of the easiest scenarios to “pressure” fight with. They just keep attacking and depending on the team can have a long combo attack range leading to reduced substitution jutsu usage.
3. I really don’t like the character select menu anymore because they tab the fighters into groups. It is difficult to see some of the potential team formations. Once you select a character, the cursor is placed over a preferred teammate and once selected possibly the next preferred teammate if there is one. Having to flip through four groups of fighters makes for a bit of a disconnect from being able to see all of your options laid out in front of you.
4. The “Ninja Escapades” mode made me really want a story mode for this game because they did that section so damn well. I like the streamlined movie->fight->movie->fight sequence vs. the running around the leaf village…again… This could have been a good way to bring players new to the franchise up to speed through a series of CGI movies and battles. The missed opportunity leaves new player with very little information on what the Ninja Escapades are talking about…who the hell are the Akatsuki?... Why do only certain combinations of characters have combo ultimates?...What the hell is an Uchiha?...There funky eyes do what? None of these questions are answered! Great for fans, but not so much for individuals now entering the series…
5. Combo ultimate jutsus are ****ing bomb-looking when you pull them off. I hope they expand the list of combo jutsus available in the next game. Combos should also impact awakening mode types and support mode types. For instance, Sasuke and Itachi have a combo ultimate they perform together when paired. In awakening mode it would be cool if you could awaken both when the gauge maxes so that the support came from Sasuke’s, Sassuno, or vice versa when you truly awaken Itachi. Currently, no supports can be used when you awaken into a giant form. With regards to combo support type implementation I would go with being able to flick one of the analog sticks to switch which support jutsu your teammates use so when in a combo support group your supports could use 2 types of jutsu respectively vs. only 1.
6. The time allocated to Ninja World Tournament should have been split between it and Ninja Escapades. I know the story for fans has been at this point beat to death but Escapades was great in offering fans some additional information on known story arcs. It was a means of briefly summarizing past events while incorporating a few fights. They really should have expanded this section if only to bring new players up to speed…
7. Ninja World Tournament also gets old kind of quick with the four-player mix-up. I found it entertaining and novel for a while but ended up just going to Free Battle where I could actually test out the moves and strategies for the various team types I would be using for the brunt of my time spent with the game. This would have been a great side mode as it gets repetitive quickly but still has its moments. I personally just wouldn’t have swapped out story mode for a focus on this mode…
8. Great variety of characters and costumes! Let me reiterate…great variety of characters and costumes! It’s really fun playing as Naruto and Sasuke in their school uniforms and pulling off a combo ultimate jutsu to finish off Madara.
9. They have added a whole lotta multiplayer modes…I haven’t gone online as of yet but have set up my clone and sent him out…2nd Mizukage of course with a team of the current and former Mizukages.  I am going to see if he has reached level two today. The addition of the online clone is a fun way to guide players who primarily focus on the single player (due to the online historically being super unbalanced and players sticking to repetitive OP choices) to the online aspects of the game. Still not sure how much time I will spend online but going to give online matches a shot this weekend to see if the segregation of team types has improved the balancing. Still need to wrap up advanced survival and advanced league modes but was happy to see all the different variations.
Overall Impression: I like the focus on fighting vs story but think a little more backstory would have helped newbies. As a fan of the series the number of options and variations on play style has been much appreciated. Ninja Escapades was made for players like me and I liked the additional information as I am very familiar with the story arcs presented. The segregation of battle types in my opinion seems to have allowed CC2 to better flesh out the fight system and have lead to some very novel yet nostalgic battles and outcomes.
It’s a fun game for fans and okay for others. Nonetheless, I will be sinking some serious hours into this badboy and look forward to trying out the vast combinations of team types!

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A Letter to the Big “N"
Posted on Friday, September 12 2014 @ 12:02:24 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

I have and will continue to have a place in my heart for Nintendo. In fact, my first console was a Super Nintendo. The video game market has changed drastically since the early '90s and it seems like what once was platinum is more so along the lines of silver now. Nintendo has always been focused on family fun and I can recall the debates over playing Mortal Kombat with either a better controller and purple blood (SNES) or face the masochism of trying to pull off quarter-circle moves consistently on a Sega Genesis controller but with red blood.  
The battles were epic in Street Fighter II but the variety of games were what kept me on board…there was Mario, yes…but if you wanted racing you had Top Gear, you want RPG you had Final Fantasy, you had Castlevania, Super Metroid, NBA Jam, Sim City for God’s sake! This was a good time for the Big N. These were some of your strongest roots. I split off at the release of the original Playstation but still headed over to my friend's house to play Nintendo 64, the original party console with 4 controller ports. Nintendo has been fostering multiplayer and group play since before the internets. Mario was great as a kid but when I hit my teens Goldeneye was what captured hours of my time. Call of Duty/Battlefield multiplayer was grandfathered by 4-player Goldeneye matches.
I stayed the course with Playstation as we entered the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube era. Even then, I would head over to my friend’s dorm room and play Soul Caliber with Link. We would have amazing times with Mario Kart Double Dash but when it came time to "get serious", in came Metroid Prime which rebooted the Super Metroid series. I personally consider this reboot to be better than the much praised Resident Evil 4 reboot. You had something for everyone…and every age.
In my PS3 days I had many friends pick up the Nintendo Wii which had taken a very different direction than past Nintendo consoles. We would go over and play Wii Sports, but when it came time to "get serious"…we could only looked at each other and for the first time in years we actually had to put down the Nintendo controller to pick up that of a different console to fill the need. This was a very different time. I thought to some extent this is probably just a phase…the Big N probably ages inversely to dog years and is simply going through adolescent changes…
As I contemplate today, whether my next console purchase will be a PS4, Xbox 1, or WiiU I feel the odds of me returning to the Big N are slim at this point. I still haven’t lost my love for the company that made my very first console, though. I just want to provide some ideas that would make me as a 32-year-old "gamer" who grew up with your past products buy your console in the current market.
1. More games and more variety (note: they don’t have to be violent or gory to be directed at a mature audience). If Sony and Microsoft bring out Drive Club & Forza respectively, you reboot Top Gear, Cruisin' USA, and Crazy Taxi. They bring out Mortal Kombat X and DOA, you reboot Samurai Showdown and Ready to Rumble, (Street fighter has and will always be yours in my book…take it back when you are ready). They focus on Dragon Age and Skyrim and you bring out SimCity 4 Ultimate edition once some expansions have been released. Choices like this appeal to my demographic, who tend to spend the most money during the holidays for themselves and their kids.

*I also wouldn't mind a Road Rash reboot and Afterburner reboot (not HD upgrade - full reboot).
2. I would like you to redefine local multiplayer by allowing 1 console to output to up to 4 additional screens via cable or Wi-Fi with a manual selector in your system settings (basically creating a LAN multiplayer with a single console and numerous screens). Create the “In-home Arcade”! You were the first major console to introduce 4 controller ports on one system now allow those with either 1 home television and a computer monitor or those with 2, 3, or 4 TVs in their home to connect to one system for local multiplayer. Consider being able to sit side by side in your living room or basement with a friend and play Cruisin' USA like you did as a kid in the arcade. Consider games like DDR with two screens in your home for 2 – 4 person dance-offs and a 3rd player being a DJ to modulate beat, tempo, and song transitions with the touch pad controller. DDR Wii U- Special Edition.
3. This one is going to take some serious discussions, but pair up with Apple (just hear me out a sec…) Apple has a great understanding of the current Western Market Apple is focused on simplicity and mass appeal of its products – kinda in the same spirit of the Wii appealing to non-gamers…how can you broaden? If you are appealing to casual gamers then a tie into the App store for mobile games is key…no Plants vs Zombie port…direct access to all the games that people play during their daily commute. Don’t stop playing Castle Crashers when you get home just pause the game on your phone, switch on the Wii-U and continue. Grandma having a hard time seeing Bubble Bobble on her I-Pad that’s okay bring it up on the living room TV via the Wii. Apple is a primary competitor of Microsoft and Sony in the mobile and pc space…enemy of my enemy is my friend…not so much but could be a rather lucrative partnership if amicable terms could be reached by both parties. If you can accomplish these three things, I would hop right on your wagon. In the '90s the idea of a third-party developer for a AAA title shunning the Big N was unheard of. Today, it is explicitly stated in media releases that certain publisher/developers have no interest in the Big N. Regain your standing in the market and watch as they “Respect your Authoritay”. You have a good system; you just need to figure out how to reach the inner kids in the adults who currently support your system. These are just some of my thoughts on a console and company I hold quite dear to my heart.
Good Luck, Big N!

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted earlier in September 5, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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The Microsoft 180: Business as Usual
Posted on Tuesday, July 1 2014 @ 11:58:22 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

When Microsoft announced its new “Kinect-less” Xbox One offering, the debate over the “Microsoft 180” was reignited. As I read the comments for and against this business move, I couldn’t help but feel that a great deal of people either forgot how multi-billion dollar business decisions are made or were simply unaware. Specifically, it is a “team” of people with varying opinions and ideas who determine the best way to proceed. What people seem not to acknowledge in the current discourse is that there were probably members of that team who felt just as the consumers felt (anti-Kinect, anti-DRM, anti-no used games, etc…), but in making decisions as a group you must concede at times for the sake of what is deemed in the best interest of the majority (at the time…). So, it really isn’t a 180 in the classic sense for all involved.
Aside from the dichotomous view that they either go with their originally planned course of action or are simply back-pedaling and reneging on original promises, I would remind you of something we are all familiar with: “The contingency plan." When you head off into an multi-billion dollar endeavor, you do not simply plot a single course of action but rather you create contingent strategies as you can’t predict with 100% accuracy the reception of your product in real-world markets due to all of the variables. The “Microsoft 180” discourse seems to completely overlook this key facet of business planning. I would argue that Microsoft never actually did “a 180” but rather based on real-world feedback modified their business plan to position themselves to make a viable profit off the product they are offering.
It’s easy to simplify the nature of this concept and say that they are back-pedaling or that Sony has done everything right, but neither point is entirely accurate. If we step away from console wars of Microsoft vs Sony (Nintendo… intentionally omitted at this point) and look at them simply as businesses offering a product, then we can start to get away from applying the characteristics of an “individual” to a multi-billion dollar corporation with hundreds of employees who jointly determine business actions.
From my perspective, I see that a team of Microsoft employees came to the decision that, based on  feedback on the Xbox 360, the initial product offering for the Xbox One should look like “x” (always on, Kinect-required, no used-game playability, etc…). Absolutely nothing was wrong with this course of action and at the time it was deemed by those involved as quite reasonable. Once the product was introduced to the market, consumer feedback was received and the model was tweaked to address consumer demands. Microsoft is still doing what it is supposed to and consumers are as well. This isn’t a 180 in my perspective—​just business as usual.
Now you have a third character in the mix which is Sony. Aside from consumer feedback on your product, you have to review the performance of your competitors as well and adjust your business model accordingly. I reiterate that this is a multi-billion dollar business plan. The plan that you remain consistent to retain the perception of being steadfast in your business choices is offset by the reality of the gravity of the business decision. If you are losing money and believe this business plan to be of a ten-year nature (long-term/console life,  then you understand that you vary and tweak your business strategy the most on the front end until you stabilize hopefully in Year 1 or 2 but even Year 3 (See the PS3), so that you have 7-8 years to demonstrate how steadfast your “final” business plan is.
I honestly think the PS4 and Xbox One are still both in a good market position. Numbers are currently down for Microsoft much like the initial run for Sony last-gen, but there is plenty of time to reposition and retain a competitive stance in the current market. The “Kinect-less” offering with a price point consistent with your most significant competitor is a step in the right direction.
So, before you get all huffy-puffy about your favorite or most hated company doing a 180, don’t forget what’s on the line and also the fundamentals of how these decisions are being made… by groups of people (some of which I so want to believe are avid gamers). I would much rather a “180” if that’s what you want to call it than seeing a huge market competitor fall to the wayside to retain short-term perception of being steadfast in their beliefs. It’s not like we have seen a lot hardware competitors enter the market in recent years only to fall to the wayside unable to secure a significant enough market share to prosper? I wonder if dynamically and promptly addressing your consumer demands leads to that solid footing Microsoft currently has…

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted earlier in May 21, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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So much more than war...
Posted on Friday, April 18 2014 @ 16:56:36 Eastern

The recent blog, Peace in the Era of Call of Duty really made me think about war games that dig deeper than simply a kill streak reward. The first game that came to mind was Spec-Ops: The Line and although I haven’t played ...   read more...

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A Day Without Booth Babes! But why?
Posted on Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:31:18 Eastern

I felt compelled to write this one up after reading a recent write-up by Daniel Bischoff requesting the support of the GR community in banning booth babes. Before I begin to address some of the points made by Daniel, I think it worthwhile to expound ...   read more...

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The Great Compromise: Final Fantasy VII
Posted on Friday, March 7 2014 @ 08:42:06 Eastern

[Yep, I flipped the image... see what I did there? Ed. Nick]
I was not originally a fan of FFVII; in fact, I remember looking at the commercials in the '90s and finally purchasing the game only to realize the commercials only show...   read more...

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Playing to achieve, complete, or enjoy?
Posted on Tuesday, March 4 2014 @ 16:38:29 Eastern

I read the article, “Gamer Earns 500 Platinum Trophies, Makes a Real-life Platinum Trophy” and it reminded me of Ryan Bates piece, an “Irrational Divide” and a piece by Daniel Bischoff called, “I Got a Top Score in Call of Duty”. What the...   read more...

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Playstation+ More than Just Free Games
Posted on Friday, January 31 2014 @ 10:16:51 Eastern

On June 28, 2013, Anthony Severino posted an article quantifying the monetary benefit of a one year subscription to Playstation Plus (PS+). After some basic assumptions and quick math, Anthony assessed that a user for that time period would h...   read more...

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What yah looking at Big Brother?
Posted on Wednesday, December 18 2013 @ 15:35:18 Eastern

As the holiday season is upon us I am reminded of Santa Claus making a list and checking it twice, because he knows who is naughty and who is nice. Santa’s a damn spy and I don’t want a plump, old dude of no relation to my childre...   read more...

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I ain’t scared of no ghost! Now clowns on the other hand…
Posted on Monday, December 9 2013 @ 16:47:07 Eastern

I recently read an article discussing Shinji Mikami’s (Evil Within) revelation that it is simply getting harder to scare gamers. Sir, I agree! As I roll into my 30’s I have developed a rather tragic condition, called “Fearlessness&r...   read more...

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