Saturday, July 30, 2005

Costume games in progress update

So I’m a few hours into Kingdoms Under Fire: The Crusaders. I forgot how stiff the voice acting was. Other than that, good times so far. I finally got Haunting Grounds for PlayStation 2 and Killer 7 for the Gamecube, so look for revised commentary on those eventually. Despite the mostly harsh reviews, I’m greatly looking forward to Killer 7.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Better costumes = more girl gamers

I’ve noticed that many of the folks that stop by and send me email are female. Most of that is probably thanks to the linkage from Game Girl Advance. I don’t want to jump on the ever expanding debate of why more girls don’t play games, but there was one article I read (can’t recall which one at this moment) where they interviewed a woman in game development and how she was tired of seeing the endless parade of bikini clad “heroines”.

Could a simple thing such as paying greater attention to a game’s fashion sense increase interest from the ladies? Maybe. With the coming of the next generation of consoles and their high definition presentation, I would hope that’s a priority regardless of publisher’s aspirations to draw in women.

Getting back to bikinis, news recently broke of Rumble Roses XX and the official confirmation (it’s only been mentioned in interviews up to this point) of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2, both for the Xbox 360.

No matter what they do with the next Rumble Roses, I doubt there will be anything remotely attractive about it to women. On the other hand, the original DOAX had tons of outfits to choose from, accessories to mix and match, and a deceptively simple friendship/gift giving system (it was actually very complex and forced you to pay attention to the likes and dislikes of each girl). All of those features seem tailored made for female tastes, except for the fact that every character in it was nearly naked, overly buxom, and posed provocatively at every opportunity.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Kingdoms Under Fire: Heroes

Kingdoms Under Fire: The Crusaders is one of those games I have sitting on my shelf that I really, really want to play, but haven’t managed to yet. The impending release of Kingdoms Under Fire: Heroes, a prequel story, has made this desire feel all the more urgent. KUF doesn’t have a multitude of costumes to unlock or extremely original designs. What it does have, in spades, is impeccable art direction. It’s more than just pretty graphics, it’s the choreography of it all. The way the story scenes are framed elevate whatever the camera focuses on. You can get a small sense of what I’m talking about from these screens, but you must see it in action to get the full effect.

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KUF: The Crusaders has some gameplay flaws that bugged me when I first previewed it long ago. That still didn’t stop me from buying it the day it came out. I know I’ll buy Heroes immediately as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Costume game preview: Monster Hunter PSP

Monster Hunter for the PlayStation 2 had an interesting battle system, neat looking character creation options, and pleasing overall aesthetics. It was also an online MMO for the PS2, two things that don’t go all that well together if you don’t plan carefully. Judging by the mixed reviews, they didn’t. Sure you could play offline, but all the fun stuff seemed to be made for net play.

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Enter the upcoming PSP version. As if you didn’t know by now, the main attraction for me is the cool armor options. There wasn’t an insanely huge variety on the PS2, but what was there had a unique design sense. Try not to judge it by the few pieces I’ve gathered here since I couldn’t find a wide variety scavenging online. Trust me, there’s far cooler outfits in it.

Playing this style of game offline is definitely more attractive on a portable player. Sneaking in some hunting, gathering, and upgrading when I don’t have time to sit in front of a TV sounds like a good time.

Monster Hunter PSP (title TBA)
Release Date: Fall 2005
Preliminary costume rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I’m a member of S.T.A.R.S.

I have to admission to make. I’ve been a Claire Redfield fan for quite some time. The moment she came out guns blazing in Resident Evil 2, I was sure there could be no other lady of survival horror for me.

To me, Jill Valentine had been kind of a whiny brat who could pick locks if she had the right tools. Things first began to change with her appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. She had a spunky attitude with memorable battle quotes, and the anime-ish rendition of her outfit was super sweet. Then the Resident Evil remake for the GameCube came out and the master of unlocking exuded a new, sexier aura. She had, um, filled out her uniform more and had two additional knock out outfits. One was sort of a Sarah Connor, green tank top/baseball cap/sunglasses/army pants number that I would rate in the neighborhood of 8.5. The third was her outfit from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Let me be clear though, when RE3 first came out, I hated that ensemble. The generic blue strapless “thing” with a blah skirt and a (gasp) sweater tied around her waste. I understand she was off-duty and probably on her way to a picnic or something, but c’mon! Still, Jill somehow managed to make that lousy outfit work in the GameCube game.

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Then I saw Resident Evil Apocalypse. If you want my purely movie related thoughts, go here. Long story short, I avoided watching it since I didn’t care at all for the first one and this second one had Jill in her least flattering outfit. As evidenced by the GameCube remake, even drab outfits can be elevated by how one wears it. Sienna Guillory was made to fill Ms. Valentine’s shoes. Her body is nearly identical to the character model with one important exception…Ms. Guillory’s luxurious hips. That is the element that finally redeems the “picnic” get up. Even so, I wouldn’t mind if they retired that outfit altogether.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Custom costume madness

Having collected the Cool/Cy Girls and 1/6 scale figures for a while now, I’ve been aware of many elements of the fan base. It wasn’t until I did some digging for the Protect Gear post that I happened upon something truly amazing. There are a number of costume customizers in the 1/6 figure arena, but G-Custom Modeling appears head and shoulders above everyone else

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The pics here are a small sampling of the amazing work for view on the site. This Jill Valentine outfit, based on the Umbrella tactical gear seen in Resident Evil Apacolypse, is mighty impressive.

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Speaking of the Umbrellae tactical gear, here it is.

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Hey weren’t you in that Dino panic, um disaster game? What was it again?

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She’s not from a game, but this gives you a better idea of the custom molded parts that can be created if one has the skill and the time.

Want more Jill Valentine? Just you wait till the next post.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Killzone bit my shit

It’s not like Mamoru Oshii invented the Panzer Corps look from scratch back when he made The Red Spectacles in 1986. The Protect Gear is just a heavily armored take on German WWII soldier wear. Oh, I guess he did add the snazzy shining red eyes so bonus points there. I’m not sure if anyone remembers the first footage released of Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox, but the soldiers you encounter later in the game used to look a lot more like the Panzer Corps soldiers. The Helghast dudes in Killzone aren’t an exact copy either, but the iconic menacing red eyes remain the same. Okay, maybe they look a bit more orange in Killzone, but the effect is the same.

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Anyway, the point is I dig the look. So much so I bothered to track down the Dragon International Kerberos figure about three years ago (that’s the one on the left). What you can’t guess from the pictures is the helmet and bullets are real die-cast metal so, yeah, BAD…ASS. Cool as this figure was, the overall rendition of the Armor and facemask left a little to be desired. Dragon released a more expensive version with “Lightening eyes”, which meant a battery lit up the red goggles although this made it impossible to take the helmet off. They also made a battle damaged version, but I didn’t care for that one.

A few months ago, Takara released their take on the Protect Gear through their Cool Girls series (known as Cy Girls domestically…yeah that Cy Girls, the insanely crappy videogame Cy Girls). They nailed it. Each piece of armor has great detail, and there are interchangeable pieces so you can customize how a particular squad looks. No fancy die-cast metal, but a really well thought out execution of the Protect Gear. If you’ve ever put together a Gundam model, one of the things you remember is how well each piece of plastic was molded so it fits and stays together without the use of glue. The Takara figure has that quality feel to it.

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Takara took liberties with the undergarments, but again they score here. A sleek leather number that is perfect for a bit of espionage, commandeering a motorcycle, or making it in time for a fashion shoot. Very versatile. (For the anal readers: The hand punching the Killzone box is from another figure. The Protect Gear version didn't come with a closed fist piece)

Soldiers from Ninja Gaiden – 6 out of 10
They’re tough customers, but it’s hard to get good looks at their gear

Helghast Soldiers – 7 out of 10
They would score higher if the first thing you saw were the glowing eyes coming for you. Instead, you always hear them yelling all loud and giving away their position. Not so scary.

Dragon Internation figure – 8 out of 10
Can be hard to pose, plus mask and armor pieces aren’t as realized as they should be.

Takara Protect Gear figure – 9 out of 10
It’s an expensive import item ($100+ at some sites), but it should remain a valuable collectable like the Dragon figure since a US release is highly doubtful. Plus it’s the best rendition of this type of armor. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005

Costumes in 3D

I had heard about some minor differences between the US (11/04) and Japanese (02/05) versions of Rumble Roses a while back, but it was nothing substantial. I would have tracked it down if new costumes were added, but that wasn’t the case. I know it didn’t sell particularly well here, but apparently it sold enough in Japan that there is a “The Best” release (their equivalent to the Greatest Hits line) scheduled for this August.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered there are indeed some different Rumble Roses costume material. The first source is a Best Shots collection book housing drawn and CG promo art. I don’t own it, so I’m just going by pics I’ve seen in eBay auctions and similar Best Shot tomes (I have a DOAXBV book, thanks Simon!).

The really trippy one is the 3D Rumble Roses book that comes complete guessed it, 3D glasses. Judging by the digital pics above I stole from this eBay auction, a few outfits (and non-outfits as it were) not found in the game are presented for your approval.

They seem nice enough, but I really prefer the costumes in action while playing the games so I’ll pass on these.