Showing posts with label Braid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Braid. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ouya? Oh Yeah!

In recent posts I’ve looked at the new Nintendo consoles and basically poured scorn on them both. The Wii Mini looks like the most pointless thing I’ve ever seen – a Wii without internet functionality and no backwards compatibility; and the Wii U...well, my opinions of that turd are fiercely negative and I make no apologies. This week it came to light that due to some arcane European legislation, if you’re stupid enough to have bought a Wii U and wish to view/download ‘adult’ content (i.e. anything that’s rated 18 / Mature), you have to wait until between the hours of 11pm and 4am for it to be visible in the online store. And there I was thinking Nintendo were over the whole ‘green/no blood in games’ thing. 

To be fair, I don’t think this is necessarily something that Nintendo has implemented of its own accord, but both Xbox Live and the PS Network marketplaces do not impose this bizarre censorship and yet they operate in a European environment too. Way to go, Nintendo. First – bring out two new consoles, both of which are similarly titled to your existing one. Then send mixed audience messages by releasing a glut of child-friendly launch titles alongside more adult-themed ones...but then impose a kind of watershed on mature online content. Brilliant. There are two other consoles on the horizon though. And no, I’m not talking about the next offerings from Sony or Microsoft. They’re Ouya and Neo Geo X

You’d be forgiven for never having heard of either of these consoles, and in all honesty the Neo Geo X will probably be born into a cloud of apathy before vanishing into the mists of time (but not before sprouting eBay listings advertising it as ‘**RARE!!!**’); but the Ouya has the potential to be a bit of a game changer (sorry). Ouya started life as a Kickstarter project that went on to attract donations of over $8m and is in essence an indie gamer’s dream – a true modder’s console that runs a bespoke version of the Android OS, and that the creators are marketing as a console that will actively encourage homebrew creativity. So, it’s kind of like that GP2X thing that nobody bought, but in console form. 

The thing that sets Ouya apart from the other ‘modders/homebrew/indie’ consoles is that it offers so much for such a meagre price tag: It’ll apparently retail for $99 (which using the usual gaming hardware conversion techniques will no doubt equate to £99, and not the more realistic £60ish) on launch, and offer loads of cool stuff straight out of the box, such as compatibility with On Live and a fully featured app/game store. The Ouya’s creators are also quite happy for gamers to open the console itself and tinker with the actual hardware inside, which as far as I know, is completely unprecedented for a console. Fair enough, you can buy things like Raspberry Pi and you can always mod a PC...but official modding support from a console manufacturer is a new one on me. I’m not sure if I’ll buy one, but Ouya looks quite intriguing especially as the quality of Android games is improving all the time (those Modern Combat games are getting very good, even if they are blatant rip-offs of Modern Warfare...and technically I’ve only played the Blackberry OS versions, so not really Android...but fuck it. You know what I’m getting at). Ouya is out next March in the US...and a UK release date isn’t even hinted at yet (surprise). 

The other new console I mentioned is the Neo Geo X from SNK Playmore. SNK is a company that I always associated with impenetrable fighting games like King of Fighters and stupidly hard side-scrolling shooters like Metal Slug, and the original Neo Geo console (and its variants) was something I never actually played on because I didn’t know anyone who a) had one; or b) could afford one. 

There was a guy at my school who told everyone he had a Neo Geo, but when me and my brother went round one evening to have a go on it, he came out with some bullshit story that his mum had seen it in his room, not known what it was and then proceeded to throw it in the alleyway behind his house. He then went and pretended to be looking for his Neo Geo in said alley for about 20 minutes before giving up. Unimpressed by the quality (or lack thereof) of this blatant attempt to hoodwink us, my brother and I left soon after and our acquaintance never mentioned the Neo Geo again. Certainly not when either of us was in the vicinity, anyway. 

But I digress. So the Neo Geo then – a fabled and rarely seen console that boasted some (apparently) excellent 2D fighters, shooters and...well that’s it as far as I can tell. Enter the Neo Geo X – A strange hybrid console that consists of a hand held Neo Geo console that is pre-loaded with 20 of SNK’s best retro games...that fits inside a case that looks like the original Neo Geo so you can hook it up to a TV. The console comes with a gargantuan joystick/pad thing too so you can get that true 1990s import gamer nostalgia going on. Reports that it comes with a free Tango & Cash poster are unconfirmed. Oddly, the Neo Geo X doesn’t take original Neo Geo carts (mainly because the plastic case is just that – a mock up of the original AES shell without any functioning parts) as the games come on some kind of SD-like memory card that are plugged into the little handheld unit. You’d have to be a bit of an SNK nutter to shell out the $200 asking price for one of these things in my opinion, especially since most of the games available have either already been ported to other consoles or are available for free (cough) on certain (cough) websites (cough). Cough. As with the Ouya though, there isn’t a UK release date or price as yet. I’d be surprised if we ever see the Neo Geo X officially released on these shores though, especially as the original Neo Geo consoles never made an impact here and the Neo Geo Pocket Colour sold about 3 units. Saying that, if you did happen to find a Neo Geo CD system in a Moss Side alleyway in about 1995 (just up from where Maine Road used to be); could you get in touch via the comments section? I might owe an apology to an old school friend. 

I downloaded a little game last night called Braid. I’d heard lots of talk about it when it launched on Xbox Live, but I never got it because I find the whole ‘Microsoft Points’ thing a bit shit. If you could just buy things with real money out of your debit account like you can on the App Store/iTunes and the Blackberry Appworld, then I might be more inclined to do so...but I just don’t really like the way you can only buy certain amounts of Microsoft Points and then be left with a useless number of them after buying something. I’ve had 180 points in my account for about 3 years now...and 180 is just about enough to buy absolutely fuck all. However, I saw Braid on the App Store on the Mac last night for £2.99 so I bought it. And what a delightful little romp it is too. 

It’s basically a platform game with a great hand-drawn art style. The story and locations appear a little on the surreal side, as does the way you can rewind time if you fall to your death...but you also have to use this function to solve puzzles involving cannons firing clouds. Quite. I’ve looked around on the interwebs quite a bit and discovered that Braid is actually about a nuclear war or something...which just adds a bit of intrigue to the story in the textbooks you come across in-game. Only played the first two ‘worlds’ thus far, but it was definitely worth £2.99 in my opinion. You can’t even get a pint for £2.99 these days (unless you go and jostle with the alcoholics and bums in your local Wetherspoons) so money well spent. I might attempt to do a little video review some time. But then again, I might not.