Monday, August 27, 2012

The Best of Collector's/Limited/Etc. Editions In Gaming

I felt inspired to talk about this a little after coming across the new "Solid Gold Premium Edition" of Persona 4: Gold for the PS Vita, and showing a bit of disappointment over the fact that it's basically $30 extra for a travel case (while everyone should have already had one to begin with), stickers, and screen covers, along with a few wallpapers. I personally don't feel it justifies the price tag, but maybe you do? That's fine if so; I'm not here to say that what's valuable to one has to be to another automatically.

So as you can see by the title, I've decided to do some looking back on the various special editions of games that we've seen over the years and talk briefly about some of the ones I felt were the best (and soon the worst) of their kind. I have created a top 5 countdown list of what I felt were the best of the best. Feel free to give me any of your thoughts on the best/worst yourselves as I write up these two posts. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this one! Note that this list does not comprise of anything that hasn't yet come out (as awesome as the Street Fighter IV: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition looks!). Let's start things off with the best of list. I'd also like to point out that what really makes the "best of" list shine is the creativity involved in some of these:

5. Metroid Prime Trilogy: Collector's Edition

This one may not seem like much to someone who's never played these before, but the ability to get all 3 of these amazing games together in one bundle, especially with newly-designed Wii motion controls for the first two games is truly incredible. The updated graphics look great and the games came in a nice steel case with a plastic sleeve, and an artbook and very fancy looking instruction manual (think about the last really good-looking instruction manual you've seen in a game case and it's not hard to see why that's a big deal). Nintendo completely spoiled us with this one. It would have been one thing to simply port all the games over, but the overhaul done here was excellent.

4. Bioshock 2: Special Edition

This set is the perfect example of how a modern special edition of a game can deliver, even when the game itself isn't quite up to par with its original. In this edition, players were granted a fascinating-looking box made of matte paper, a 164-page hardcover art book, 3 vintage advertisement posters from Rapture, an orchestral soundtrack CD with music from the second game, and most interesting of all, a 180-gram vinyl LP of the orchestral soundtrack from the first game. The vinyl fits perfectly with the tone of the game and the time it's supposed to take place in. These are the kinds of items that make collector's editions so interesting and worthwhile in the first place in my opinion.

3. Catherine: "Love Is Over" Edition

And here we have yet another creative set, fitting the mood of the game perfectly. In a stylish pizza box, you get an "Empty Hearts" t-shirt, a pillowcase with Catherine displayed on it, a pair of Vincent's boxers, and an art book and soundtrack to finish it all off. Bizarre, definitely. But that's what makes it so cool!

2. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete

This thing was quite a beast, especially for its time. It included the 3-disc game, a soundtrack CD, a making-of disc, a hardcover instruction manual and art book, a cloth map, some pop-up cardboard characters, and if that wasn't enough, a replica pendant necklace. JRPG fans still have to spend a pretty penny for this one, and for good reason. This was pure love in a collector's edition set.

1. Ultima IX: Ascension (Dragon Edition)

This is the cream of the crop here folks! This over-sized box contained a disc with all 8 of the Ultima games leading up to IX, a soundtrack CD, tarot cards, an ankh amulet, a poster, a journal and spell book with leatherbound covers, a cloth map, a mini-illustration of the famous "Tapestry of Ages" art piece, and last but not least, a certificate signed by by Richard Garriot (creator of the series!), thanking you for your purchase and giving some hints about his future plans.

And there you have it! That's my personal top 5 list for collector's editions over the years so far. Some honorable mentions include the Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Editions, The Collector's Editions of Starcraft II and Diablo III, The Alan Wake Limited Collector's Edition, The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition for Nintendo Gamecube (porting over Zelda I, Zelda II, Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask, and a demo for Wind Waker all on one tiny disc, albeit an overall average job of porting the games), and the Duke Nukem: Balls of Steel Edition (ironic, considering how lackluster the game itself was of course). Stay tuned for the next exciting blog, where I go into some of the worst of the so-called "collector's editions" we've been force-fed over the years. Later!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Some Thoughts On The New Color Edition Of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1

Not long ago, Bryan Lee O'Malley must have decided he wasn't making enough money off of the Scott Pilgrim franchise anymore, and decided that he would be putting out new color editions of all 6 volumes. I made this post to talk about some of the differences with the new editions and help everyone decide if it's worth the double dip or not.

For those who don't already know, this awesome series focuses on a boy (Scott Pilgrim), who is getting over a horrible breakup by dating a high school girl, even though he's 23 (because it's "safe"). At a party, he literally encounters the girl in his dreams, Ramona Flowers and knows he has to meet her. As they talk and eventually begin to date, Scott is attacked by an ex-boyfriend of Ramona's, and has to fight for his life. It's then that Scott finds out that in order to continue to date Ramona, he has to defeat all seven of her evil ex's, all while making a billion geek/indie rock references. Is the plot absurd? Absolutely. And that's just what we love about it.

Now let's go into the actual differences of these new editions. The new volumes are put out in very nice hardcovers, which detract from the manga-like feel the originals put out. For a comic like this, I think I actually prefer it (though I still like the original look too, I admit). The black and white feel of the original versions were fun for what they were, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel very limiting, especially by the 4th volume, where we got a few color pages as a bit of a tease in the beginning. The mentions of Ramona's hair color constantly changing was another irksome factor when you couldn't actually see it. It's also worth mentioning that the pages are larger (now 6"x9"). As you can see in the picture below, the touch up job is very top notch.

There's more to this new edition than just the color palette however. We also get some nice extras like an afterword from Bryan Lee O'Malley, mentions of influences, the history of how the book came to be, and other interesting little tid bits that take us into some of the author's own personality, something I wish we'd see more of in projects such as this.

Summing it up, this is the deluxe version we always kind of dreamed about for this series, and I'll be happy to pick up each release as it comes out (though there will be a serious gap in the time each comes out. We'll be getting about 2 of these a year...). Not only do I think it's worth reading a second time, but at the same time, I don't even feel it should replace the original volumes, as those had a distinct feel themselves. If you had to go with one or other however, I'd say this this is a no-brainer. The only other question left is if you want the regular cover, or the more expensive "Evil Edition" cover for almost double the price. That's right, for $40.00 retail price, you can get the same thing with a variant cover as seen below.

Personally, I think the price is a bit steep for my tastes, nice looking cover or not. I do think it's a fun idea to have alternate covers with all of the evil ex's on them however, so I won't knock anyone for trying to get both here. And don't get me started on the collector's edition (pictured below). You already missed your chance to get it, and even if you had the chance, you probably still wouldn't have paid the $100 asking price. While it has some nice extra stuff (art prints, digital copy with signed card, gold coin, etc.), that is quite insane. Maybe I'm just not hardcore enough...

With all those conundrums aside, I give this my highest recommendation. It's one of those comics that just about everyone is reading/has read these days, and everyone should get the chance to at some point to see what all the fuss is about. This is a must read.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What The New Achievements In The Final Fantasy VII PC Re-Release Should Have Been

A few days ago, Square Enix re-released Final Fantasy VII for the PC, without really touching much of anything up at all. One of the few things they actually tried to implement was a new set of achievements. Personally, I was hoping they would go the creative route with some of them, but it seems we got some very boring and tame ones instead. Here's a link to the full list, just so you can see what I'm talking about.

Seriously, "Use 'X-Character's' first limit break?" "Win your first battle?" Is this the best they could come up with? Just about the only one I thought was a nice mention (more by default) was getting Aeris's final limit break. Anyone who's played the game knows why that one is actually quite a big deal, but I digress... I'm writing this blog not only to point out how disappointing this is to the fanbase in general, but also to show that we the fans could have come up with some much better achievements ourselves. I'd like to get the ball rolling by listing some achievements I've come up with, that I felt would have complimented the game perfectly. I'm now going to ask that you, the readers, add on what you feel would be fitting for this re-release. Whether you wanted to prove a point to Square Enix about creativity, or you simply had some funny/creative ideas off the top of your head to let out, then by all means post them.

Dude Looks Like A Lady - Have Don Corneo choose Cloud as his "Honey Bee"
Different Strokes - Go on a date with Barret at the Gold Saucer
We're Going To Be Here A While... - Used a Materia combination of W-Summon (Mastered) - Knights of the Round + MP Turbo (Mastered) and then had another character follow this with Mime
How Did You Know That Was In There!? - Found The Key To Sector 5
True Adventurer - Learned all possible enemy skills
No Fear - Chose to use the front door when invading Shinra HQ
Are We There Yet? - Chose to use the stairs when invading Shinra HQ
Elementary - Found all hints and opened the Shinra Mansion safe in Nibleheim
You Look Like You've Seen A... - Saw a familiar presence in the Sector 5 Slums Church (Disc 2 or 3)
You Can't Handle The Truth! - Viewed the special scene after returning to the Shinra Mansion in Nibleheim (Disc 2 or 3 after Cloud's reawakening)
Cha-Ching! - Reached Lucky 7's in battle
Sight Seer - Found all 6 Turtle Paradise Flyers

I think you all get the idea. What else can you come up with? GO GO GO!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some Recent Updates And Cosplay Announcement For NYCC

I haven't really made many updates since my Dark Knight Rises review, so I thought I'd give a more proper one this time. I was on vacation all of last week in New Hampshire and Maine on the last day. Good times abound. The weather could have been a little nicer, but it was still a very nice atmosphere in general. People are much more polite and welcoming over there, as well as less defensive and protective like you normally see in NJ and NY all the time. Visited some nice sights and trails, and picked up some old NES games and comic books, even a Steely Dan vinyl LP I was looking for.

I also started playing some more games since I came back. The new Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS is excellent so far (more along the vein of Birth By Sleep's level of importance than something forced like Re: Coded was). I'm hoping to get through more of that next week. I also started Persona 4: Arena for PS3. Wow! for a fighting game (sequel to an amazing RPG or not), this may contain some of the most story I've ever seen for this type of title! I'm already reading it takes most people between 30 and 40 hours to beat. That's incredible, even if 95 percent of it is likely a visual novel in itself. The fight engine itself is great too (though feels a little broken in some ways. I'll post more thoughts on that soon). I'm also eager to read over the re-prints of the first Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books which came out not too long ago. My friends and I are going to start a new campaign and I'm really excited for this, as I've never played with the first edition rulebooks before.

I've also been catching up on reading lots of things. I read all of the first Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book and will likely get to the other two at some point. I then read all of the Batman Inc. comics up to the most recent issues thanks to that awesome deluxe graphic novel they put out. Grant Morrison is usually love it or hate it, but I doubt many can find a lot of faults with this series in particular. I've also recently started to read the first Game of Thrones book after all this time. So far, I've read almost a quarter of it and it's already exactly like I remember the show being. Look forward to seeing what's different even more.

So you likely saw the "cosplay announcement" part of my title and are wondering what in the hell that's all about. Well, I've finally decided that after these last few years of not doing it, I want to again, and New York Comic Con will be the perfect place to do it. So what cosplay would I go with after all this time? It's actually painfully obvious, so I won't try to hide it any longer. I plan on finally cosplaying Deadpool at New York Comic Con 2012. Is there going to be an influx of other people doing this one as well? Of course, but I plan on making mine quite memorable. Not everyone knows the character the same way, and I intend to go full on into how I feel he'd act at a place like that, right down to the social commentary, fourth wall-breaking, and screwing with other cosplayers. This will hopefully be the most fun NYCC ever, and I really want to make it that way. If anyone has any suggestions on the best ways to make the costume, by all means. I'll take any info I can get as I attempt this one.

That's all for now. Hope to do more updates and reviews soon. Thanks for reading!