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A Reminder About Extra Life

Heads up! It’s less than two months away.

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When Sony and Microsoft first told us how the updating architecture for games on the PS4 and Xbone was going to function, I and a few other members of Sanctuary Crew, and heck the gaming scene in general were excited to hear you could start playing when a certain percentage of your game had installed, that your patches would download in the background of system operation so you could keep playing and install at your leisure. You could put your system into a suspended state just focused on keeping everything up to date so you could play when you got home? It seemed like the future of console gaming was getting closer to the bastion of the PC. Sure I and others figured there would be exceptions for things like online only experiences such as MMO’s, and really once this generation got rolling it seems for the most part to be delivered as promised. Until recently.

The biggest offender from my experience has been the two recent releases from WB games, Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight. I’m not talking about the issues with the PC versions of these games mind (both of which have had their own issues.) No, I’m talking about my PS4 copies, and one particularly egregious issue, the continued insistence of being connected to the internet at all times or ALL modes are locked, and also this weird micro-update system they’ve rolled out. Now, while I didn’t have the issue so much with MKX on release, Hawke and I had to put off playing a couple rounds because he was constantly being hit with only a fraction of the game being downloaded and playable despite the assurance of his console saying the game was fully up to date and ready to play. Many other players complained of similar issues and when all was finally ironed out, everyone seems to have moved on their merry way. Even so, PSN outages or personal internet access burps will happen, and suddenly I’ll be locked out of being able to access even single player modes. Why? I’m not always in the mood to hop online and fight other players. So why should my enjoyment be hinging on having the option to? Weren’t we finally going to be entering an age where this would start to go away?

So let me tell you about how not only is it not going away with WB Games, but it’s actually gotten worse. This week we saw the release of the final Batman game in the Arkham Trilogy by Rocksteady. So I went in early on release day to snag a copy for my PS4, figuring the game would be incompatible with my PC and wanted to sink some hours in before work. I had 4 hours available, what followed was almost 3 of waiting for updates, and being told I was not allowed to play the Story Mode because I didn’t have a fully updated game.

After 10 minutes of dropping my disc in, my PS4 cheerfully informed me that Batman Arkham Knight was installed and ready to play, and that it would be dowload updates otherwise. With my remaining time I loaded up the game and then was informed that because my game was not fully up to date, network features would be disabled. Knowing what I did of prior Arkham games, I was cool with not having scores posted to leader boards, I didn’t really care about that, I just wanted to play as Batman punching out criminals and scaring the shit out of the henchman working for the remaining villians of Gotham City. Apparently I wasn’t allowed, as selecting the Start New Story option brought up a progress bar saying that I didn’t have the newest version and I would need to wait for all updates to be installed. In frustration I turned off the game, noted it said it would take another 45 minutes and set my PS4 into Rest Mode, deciding to get myself a sandwich and watch some tv.

Sandwich and TV completed I turned my PS4 back on and was told Arkham Knight was fully up to date and ready to play. Upon getting to the Main Menu I was once again informed that my game was NOT up to date, and that I was still not allowed to play Story mode because with the game not fully updated, network features were disabled, and then flashed up a NEW window with a new progress bar, telling me it would take about 30 minutes to download this new update that apparently PSN didn’t know about.

Are we really still needing to do this? Oddly enough the game that seems to have used the PS4’s update architecture the right way is actually an MMO, and is a game that I’ve had a rocky relationship with. Destiny. When PSN detects an available update for Destiny it will install it, and can hop right into the game. If Your PS4 missed an update, and Destiny loads up then it will bring up the now downloading updates screen and drop you into character selection once it’s done without needing to restart. Now, obviously to play Destiny you need a connection to play, but how is it Bungie can work properly with PSN’s update framework while WB apparently staunchly refuses and insists on using a system that’s proven not to work well on ANY platform? If a game says it’s ready to play, the game needs to be ready to play. If I highlight the game and hit check for updates, and the game says it is up to date on the dashboard, there should not suddenly be surprise patches waiting in game. It is 2015, it’s time we start getting on track, and I want to buy more games. I just need to trust I’ll be able to actually play them when my console or PC tells me I can.

[Review] Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2 (Nintendo 3DS)

gunman-clive

With the floodgates of indie games completely opened, it sometimes can be a bit difficult to catch the really interesting titles right when they first come out. So it was with the Gunman Clive series for me. It wasn’t until I borrowed a friend’s copy that I actually paid much attention to the game. Let’s see if the games are actually worth your money and precious gaming time!

Gunman Clive starts you off as the titular protagonist, trying to stop bandits from wrecking the peaceful countryside. It’s a pretty basic side scrolling action game, with a somewhat slow, deliberate jump, a normal shot that can have up to three bullets in the air, and the ability to grab or let go of ladders in the air. In short, the mechanics are a slightly floaty early Mega Man feel, with the jump feeling a bit more like Mega Man X. This is not a bad thing, as the game mechanics feel familiar enough to be immediately comfortable to anyone with any experience with the Mega Man series.

Occasionally you’ll come across temporary gun upgrades that can give you anything from a triple shot to a homing bullet, or even a large, explosive but slow moving shot. These are immediately lost upon taking a hit from anything in the game, so keeping a special weapon for any amount of time is a mark of skill. Occasionally, life is dropped in the form of slices of cake as well, but these are about as rare as life drops in a Sunsoft NES game; that is to say, very infrequent and at the mercy of a sulky random number generator.

The graphics are quite stylized, taking a sketchbook style and adding color to distinguish bullets, enemies, and the player character. They’re nothing to write home about, but the look is very fitting, the animations are smooth and fitting, and I can’t really complain about anything in the look.

Music is similarly fitting, with the compositions definitely fitting a wild west theme. The only real complaint here is that tracks are reused several times and begin to feel a little stale after the third or fourth time you’ve heard them.

Difficulty is where the two games falter a bit. While you have unlimited lives to try completing the stages with, the levels are full of some very difficult and sometimes even cheap enemy placement. The first game tends to ramp up the difficulty at least somewhat moderately, introducing mechanics and enemy types one by one, and many of them will get a nod of “Yeah, I recognize this. The designer obviously loved Mega Man.”

However, the stages love to place enemies in concert with checkpoint positioning to knock you back to the last checkpoint for one more try. Even worse, the platforming heavily relies on pixel perfect jumps combined with a physics engine that can have the stages moving around you.

The second game ramps up the difficulty even more sharply, turning the difficulty ramp into a difficulty cliff right from the beginning. If I had to declare a comparison, Gunman Clive 2 is The Lost Levels for the first game. It reuses most of the first game’s mechanics while adding a few new ones, while expecting you to already have the first game mastered. It also adds a few 3D behind-perspective stages, but those feel a little bit off to me.

Mastery has its rewards, however. Gunman Clive has three playable characters, one of which is only accessible after completion. Gunman Clive 2 adds a fourth, much more difficult character as well.

With the price of both games being less than a fast food lunch, I can wholeheartedly recommend the first game without reservation. The second one I’d reserve judgement on until you’ve finished the first game. If you’re looking for more challenge then, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to steer clear.

Scores:
Gunman Clive: A-
Gunman Clive 2: C+

Mega Man Legacy Collection

Mega Man Legacy CollectionIt’s easy to dismiss Capcom’s announcement of the Mega Man Legacy Collection as both a quick cash grab and an attempt to derail Mighty Number 9. The expected release date ties in closely with Mighty Number 9’s own release, and Capcom certainly has reason to be desperate to show something– ANYTHING– Mega Man with so little to show for Mega Man fans lately.

I’ll admit I was extremely skeptical at first, myself. $15 for only the first six games? A reasonable price, to be sure– cheaper than the 3DS/Wii U Virtual Console titles– but missing at least five titles in the mainline series? Also, some may argue that Mega Man Anniversary Collection offers a better bargain now ten years later, where you can obtain a copy of the PS2 release for $10-15.

After some thought, I’ve decided the detractors are on the wrong track for the most part. While I still believe Capcom should add 7-10 to this pack if they really want a true “Legacy Collection,” I think comparisons with the Anniversary Collection are glossing over some severe issues that package had at release and even more severe issues that are apparent today.

Anniversary Collection’s versions of 1-6 were stripped, recompiled versions of the Rockman Complete Works packages that Capcom released in Japan on Playstation around 1999. While the gameplay on the RCW discs was remarkably intact, there were some noted problems with the sound.

As a result of Capcom ripping the entire NES sound system out of the NES emulator they wrote, both the music and sound effects were approximated using digital audio. Certain effects that would cut each other out (e.g. charged shots) would overlap on the RCW games. Additionally, sound balance between music and sound effects was rather poor. To make matters worse, Rockman 6 included mastering errors with the music that caused a number of music tracks to clip and distort.

Anniversary Collection on PS2 did nothing to correct these problems. Even worse, some of the additional features included on the RCW discs were removed. All reference to the aborted Pocketstation were removed, and you could not unlock the special powerups that game completion offered to repeat RCW players (for instance, doubled movement speed, faster buster charge, or halfed weapon energy usage)– all of these bonuses were completely stripped.

That’s just covering the first six games. Mega Man 7 was barely doable on the PS2 and had nasty frameskipping in order to be playable at all. The credits sequence was cut from MMAC as well, likely due to the serious performance issues. Mega Man 8 was based on the inferior Playstation version and didn’t include any of the bonus content the Saturn version had.

Then we get to the control lag. MMAC has inconsistent control latency that can make it somewhat frustrating to play. This is on a CRT, on a real PS2, mind you. Let’s only briefly contemplate how trying to play that on a modern HDTV is going to turn out.

In short, there’s actually a place for an updated modern collection that’s optimized for play on modern hardware. The question is if Capcom and Digital Eclipse can actually deliver on this. So far I’d argue the signs are mostly positive. Twitter commentary from one of the developers shows an awareness you can’t just stretch the image to 1080p and expect it to look and play well.

I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve had a chance to actually see this collection in action. That won’t keep me from advocating that Capcom really needs to either include the rest of the series, or announce a DLC upgrade, though.

We’re moving to Hitbox!

hitbox

June will be both the beginning and end of an era: Sanctuary Crew will be moving almost all of our streaming video operations over to Hitbox.TV!

This has been a long time coming; some of our oldest friends will remember that we left Livestream for Justin.TV after several years of increasing headaches. We were amongst the channels that the Justin.TV staff interviewed during the process of spinning off the gaming channels to their new Twitch platform, and we really do have to thank Twitch and their staff for all the wonderful times.

However, recently Twitch stability and policy has been somewhat problematic, and recent attempts to work out some details with Twitch staff have not been satisfactory. Sanctuary Crew has been doing some quiet, limited testing of the Hitbox platform, and we’re mostly impressed with what we’ve seen.

The quality is higher on the same bitrate, chat is more stable and more featureful, and the stream latency is generally at the 3-5 seconds we used to enjoy on Justin.TV. We believe this will be better for both us and our viewers.

We hope you will join us on the new platform.

P.S.

I did say almost all of our streams will be moving to Hitbox. PS4 game streams, especially those with viewer interaction, will continue to appear on Twitch as that’s the only place those game streams function correctly. If and when Hitbox gains that capability, we’ll reassess the situation.

Sanctuary Crew’s Sneak Peek: Westerado: Double Barreled

WesteradoWesterado: Double Barreled

Date: Sunday, 12 April 2015
Where: Sanctuary Crew – Channel 1
Time: 17:00 Central Standard Time

Greetings, watchers! Coming up this Sunday, Sanctuary Crew will offer you a sneak peek of the upcoming game by a studio, Ostritch Banditos, called “Westerado: Double Barreled”. Leading into the fray with this game will be none other than our loveable RetroNutcase.

Overview: You are a man who lost your family with their killer on the loose. Armed with a loaded pistol, you seek revenge out in the Wild West. You decide how you want the story to unfold as you interrogate shady individuals, draw your revolver out mid-conversation to get a rise out of the culprit. …With consequences.

Watch RetroNutcase as he undergoes his journey to find that killer. What decisions will he make?! Find out on the set time above!

Follow the developer on Twitter: @OstrichBanditos

Sanctuary Crew Event: Eorzea’s Eternal Bond at Hyperion

ArgothLenn

Sketch by RetroZero

Date: Saturday, 11 April 2015
Where: Sanctuary Crew – Channel 1
Time: 19:30 Pacific Standard Time

It is a Final Fantasy Wedding at Eorzea. The two couple braved the odds against all nature and insanity and will be wedded. Watch the upcoming ceremony as the two finally join as one couple. All are invited.

Special Livestream & GameDev Interview Day

Date: Friday, 6 March 2015
Where: Sanctuary Crew – Channel 1
Time: 12:00-16:00 Pacific Standard Time
Special Guests: KIRO’O Games Studio & Radical Fish Game
Hey everyone, Sanctuary Crew has a special present for all of our viewers. The games that we will be playing are going to be rather global! Sanctuary Crew members RetroNutcase and CK20XX will show our wonderful viewers to fantastic games.

Aurion12:00-14:00 ~ AURION: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

RetroNutcase will kick things off with a preview of a game taking place in an African fantasy world developed by KIRO’O Games Studio, the first video game studio in Cameroon, Central Africa.  Witness the real time, dynamic combat system that gives stunning effects in a beat’em up style. The game promises epic duels in the midst of combat against other warriors.

That’s not all! We will have the developers of the game live in chat with us, so this allows watchers to have a Q&A session.

Twitter: @KIROOGames

CrossCode
14:00-16:00 ~ CrossCode

Afterwards, CK20XX will explore the enigmatic world of CrossCode, a 2D action RPG set in a fictional MMO of the distant future. Developed in HTML5, this game shows vivid sprite work of RPG meeting Action-Adventure. Fast pace battles, puzzle solving. CK20XX will leave you mesmerized as he explores the world in wonder.

That is not all, we will have the developers, Radical Fish Games from Germany, join us in voice chat. We will conduct a livestream interview as we go through the demo!

Twitter: @RadicalFishGame
Support their IndieGogo Campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/crosscode/

UPDATE 3/2/2015: Hello! Floofy’s here to provide a little update that RetroNutcase will be stepping in for Seizui in this stream!

27 Feb: Oblitus with Seizui

Oblitus

 

OBLITUS

When: Friday, 27 February 2015
Where: Sanctuary Crew – Channel 1
Time: 1200 Pacific Standard Time

Are you a bad enough dude to take on the brutal and mysterious world as an amnesiac warrior with a spear?! Follow the tale of Parvus as he faces his heavy burden.

The game is developed by Connor Ullmann (@UllCon), programmed by Shawn Adams (@qtbon), composed by Josh Whelchel (@soundofjw), and published by Adult Swim Games (@adultswimgames).

Join Seizui(@seizui_), the stabbing fiend with a lot of rage, as he stabs his way through everything in his way as he seeks to become the greatest warrior of all time. No towering boss will stand in his way.

This will be a preview of the game release.

More Information on the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/306440/

20th Anniversary of Lufia 2

On February 24th, we will be running a Lufia-thon in celebration of the original Japanese release of Lufia 2 (or Estpolis Denki 2 as it was known then).

 

Seolla will be on Lufia 2, therpgfan on Lufia 1, and I will be playing Lufia: The Legend Returns because I hate myself (I actually like the game).

So, this was just a heads up. If anyone wants to play any other Lufia game (Ruins of Lore or Curse of the Sinistrals), what’s wrong with you? I mean… you’re more than welcome to… but… um… what’s wrong with you?