Chris Schilling’s Tetris Effect Review

Tetris Effect is out now, here’s part of Chris Schilling’s review:

Tetris has always been an exceptional puzzle game; now, thanks to the efforts of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and developer Resonair, it’s something much more than that. Mizuguchi’s career-long fascination with synaesthesia has given us the likes of Rez, Lumines and Child of Eden – and in the way it turns play into performance, Tetris Effect has at least as much in common with those games as Alexey Pajitnov’s seminal puzzler. The result, not unexpectedly, is extraordinary.

My favorite part of this review, though, is in the list of pros and cons, there’s this con: “Pretty much ruins all other Tetris games”

The only  downside I can see is the PlayStation 4 exclusivity, but it’s the $40 price tag which will be more of a shock to many folks looking at a downloadable puzzle game. There is also a physical disc version, which is more likely to drop in price faster.

PlayStation Network to Finally Allow Name Changes

If it hasn’t been hijacked yet, PSN is finally going to allow you to change your username. Sid Shuman says it’ll be free the first time, and $10 or $5 (for PlayStation Plus subscribers) after that, and the feature has some odd limitations:

When you change your online ID, you will have the option to display your previous ID with your new ID, so your friends can recognize you. Once you decide to display your old ID or not, you won’t be able to adjust this after completing the online ID change process.

The name-changing feature will be in a temporary “preview program”  in November for people who have registered to test pre-release versions of the PlayStation 4 system software, and it may break some recent games:

This feature is compatible with PS4 games originally published after April 1, 2018, and a large majority of the most-played PS4 games that were released before this date. However, please note not all games and applications for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita systems are guaranteed to support the online ID change, and users may occasionally encounter issues or errors in certain games. If for any reason you experience issues after changing your ID, you can revert back to your original ID for free at any time (you will only be able to revert once during the preview program). Reverting back to an old ID will resolve most issues caused by the ID change. In addition, when this feature officially launches, a list of compatible games published before April 1, 2018, will be provided on PlayStation.com for reference before you make a change.

Yikes.

It sounds like some games may just be broken for anyone who wants to play them after changing their name. I hope that Sony has a better workaround than “pay us to change back so you can play old games” before the name-changing feature ships to everyone early next year.

PlayStation E3 2018 Showcase Notes

We’re onto Sony’s E3 2018 event, it’s the PlayStation Showcase. Somewhere in a parallel universe there’s a bunch of executives watching a video stream of a writer in Honolulu and writing down what he’s talking about.

Continue reading “PlayStation E3 2018 Showcase Notes”

Parappa The Rapper on PS4 is Actually a PSP Emulator

I’ll probably never use it, because I don’t jailbreak modern consoles, but it’s an impressive discovery by KiiWii on the GBA Temp forums  (via Wololo) that the Parappa The Rapper remaster for the PlayStation 4 is actually a PlayStation Portable emulator with special features. Those features let the developers replace the textures in an emulated game with upgraded assets that look better at the higher resolutions of the PS4.

Very few PSP games actually work in this emulator, it’s just fun to look behind the curtain of one of these remastered games and find out how the remastered sausage is made.

God of War (2018) Out Soon, Sounds Awesome

The 2018 God of War game without a subtitle isn’t a reboot of the series, but it does sound like a great starting point for anyone who dropped off after the earlier games or who wasn’t interested in them at all.

The review embargo lifted a few days ago, to almost universal acclaim, here’s part of Keza MacDonald’s take:

This God of War wants us to see Kratos as a person, rather than an instrument of extraordinary violence. The game not only pulls this off, but turns Kratos and his son’s journey into one of the best games of recent years: a deft intertwining of relatable familial drama and awe-inspiring mythological epic.

There are probably a huge number of takes on this game from other parents, but mine is short: I probably won’t get to play this God of War for a while. As appealing as it is, and I loved the PSP games in the series, I have a very limited amount of time to play anything when my son is sleeping and I try to avoid any kind of violent games when he’s awake.

For everyone else who doesn’t have children, or whose kids are older, God of War is out this Friday the 20th on the PlayStation 4.

Surprise, Shadow of the Colossus is Still Great

Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favorite games. It is from a unique moment in time before independent developers had found the ability to publish their novel ideas widely. Instead, we had this deep series of boss fights from Team Ico that turns out to work just as well today as it did in 2005. At least, once Bluepoint did some serious technical work to make the game presentable to a new and returning audience.

Eurogamer’s Oli Welsh reviewing the new Shadow of the Colossus remake for the PlayStation 4 that comes out on February 6:

So this PlayStation 4 remake is a risky undertaking. The developer, Bluepoint Games of Austin, Texas, is the undisputed master of remasters and has even been here before, having made the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection for PlayStation 3 in 2011. But this isn’t a remaster. This is a remake, rebuilding the game from scratch using new technology and all-new, much more detailed art. Ueda wasn’t involved and everything he and his team made for the original game has been redrawn and embellished to satisfy our hunger for fidelity. In a literal sense, this is an artist’s game remade without the original artist and containing none of the original art. Could its spirit survive such a process?

Yes. And how. Bluepoint has achieved an unprecedented feat in game preservation that creates the definitive version of Shadow of the Colossus and makes a generations-old game feel excitingly modern.

Joakim Sandberg’s Iconoclasts Out on Steam, PS4, Vita

It can be pretty frustrating to find out that something you want to fix is difficult or impossible to repair. Glued-on screens cover batteries that are all custom fit inside small cases that prevent curious people from learning how things work and fixing problems with their devices. Iconoclasts from Joakim Sandberg takes that a step further, it’s a world where a mechanic, Robin, finds that her profession is outlawed. Your mission is to get Robin and her friends together to fix things in what looks like a bit of a metroidvania side-scrolling action-adventure with a Metal Slug-y vibe to the art.

Andy Kelly likes it:

Iconoclasts is a fine game, offering both satisfyingly sharp platforming and shooting, and some really smart puzzles. It’s enormous too, packed with secret areas and other stuff to discover. And although I found the humour a little glib and childish at times, it tells its heartfelt story well. A lot of Metroidvania games go for a bleak, downbeat atmosphere, but Iconoclasts is infectiously vibrant and sunny, even if the story does occasionally venture into dark territory.

Iconoclasts is out now for $20 on Steam on Windows, macOS, and Linux, gog (same platforms)as well as the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

Xbox Game Pass Announced

Microsoft recently announced their Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Most people are comparing it to a Netflix for games, it’s not a bad comparison excepting that while Netflix streams, the games with Microsoft’s service will download to an Xbox One.

The selection of games available will be pretty small, “over 100” when the service becomes available later this spring for $10 a month. The games will change every month, and once the game is cycled out you lose access to it. You do get a discount for purchases of games in the Game Pass library. The Xbox Game Pass games are mostly older from the Xbox One and 360, no real newer options though there isn’t a final list of what will be available.

There’s nothing exactly comparable to this from Sony, their Playstation Now service on the PS4 and Windows is $15 a month at its cheapest (3 month subscription), only streams older Playstation 3 games. The PlayStation 4 has no backwards compatibility with the PS3 otherwise.

Both Microsoft and Sony include “free” games every month with the subscription they charge for online play. I dropped my Xbox Gold subscription because I wasn’t playing online regularly, and the games they were offering weren’t as good as the Playstation Plus games.

Nintendo is going to include free games with their online service for the Switch, but final pricing is unknown, and they’ll all be swapped out every month.

There’s nothing at all like it from Valve on Steam or Windows, though the third-party Humble Bundle has a monthly subscription for $12 that acts like a blind box. Subscribing to that only gives you access to the next month’s games.

There are a lot of questions left to be answered. Games are different from movies, you might take more than a month to play through something and even some games could stick around for multiple months you might be coming up on the end of the month wondering if the one you’re playing is going to cycle out.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode

When Sony’s upgraded Playstation 4 Pro shipped it only offered performance improvements for games that were updated to support it. That’s a manual process that costs money (in wages) on the part of the developer to support. Not every game is going to get an update. It’s an impossible task for games that have had their development teams disbanded, or small studios that don’t have time to go back and retest and resubmit their updates to Sony.

An upcoming firmware update (4.50) is to resolve this issue, partially. Boost mode will offer enhanced performance for all older games. With the caveat that there is no guarantee they will support it.

Richard Leadbetter has thoroughly tested the new mode for Eurogamer:

In short, boost mode will work best in stabilising performance closer to target frame-rates and should prove interesting on unlocked titles, but you can’t expect game-changing miracles. Games like Destiny that stick doggedly to their 30fps cap will see no improvement, and titles certainly won’t break their performance limits and suddenly run at 60fps. However, there are plenty of games out there that glitch badly or run nowhere near their theoretical limits. In this scenario, boost mode could be revelatory.

Enhanced performance isn’t everything, and I’d be surprised if Sony didn’t eventually blacklist games that don’t work well with the boost, but this is huge news for anyone that bought a Pro and a disappointment for anyone that bought the regular Playstation 4 before this functionality was announced.

September 7th is Going to be a Busy Day

Now we know where Patrick Klepek went. In a post for Vice Gaming, with fellow Giant Bomb alumnus Austin Walker, Klepek confirms that the rumored variation of the Playstation 4 with improved horsepower would be announced on a very busy September 7th:

Sony will reveal the first details on an upgraded PlayStation 4 at a September 7 event in New York, French gaming website Gameblog reported today. VICE Gaming can confirm that it’s heard the same information from multiple sources familiar with the planned rollout for the new machine. These sources chose to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak publicly about Sony’s plans.

Previously, previously, previously.

That’s not the only announcement that is rumored to occur on the 7th, the iPhone 7 should be announced on the same day.