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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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E3 Logo The games of E3 part 1: Sony PSP

Let's see what E3 had in store for the widescreen wonder

Mon, 23 May 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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I didn’t attend E3, but I refuse to let a little thing like that stop me from talking about the games (and consoles) that were shown there. Firstly I’ll discuss some of the games for each of the current systems.

I’ll be posting an article about my thoughts (and all the information I've been able to gather) about the upcoming next generation systems (and their games) from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo too, so keep an eye out for that one. Of course, if you want the pics and stats for those systems you can already check them out, right here at Buttonhole, courtesy of Ando and Special K: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution/Game Boy Micro

To start things off, let's go with the newest member of the gaming world- the PSP. Sony’s sexy portable wonder hasn’t arrived down under just yet; so for us, technically all the games for the system could be considered “upcoming”. But it has been released already overseas, so I’ll treat it as a “current” system. There are a really good mix of game styles/genres geared up for it, so there should be something for everyone. One thing is for certain though; if you like driving/racing games the PSP has got you covered.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories:

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Leeds

The first cab off the rank, in terms of games I’m really looking forward to, would have to be Rockstar’s planned PSP GTA game. The only problem is…it wasn’t actually shown at E3. So there’s really very little information about the game at the moment. All that’s known about it for sure so far is that it will be a fully 3D game (not the top-down view 2D of the original GTA games, like previous handheld versions) and that it will be set in Liberty City, which is the same fictional city that GTA 3 took place in. The game is being developed by Rockstar Leeds, a newly acquired development house, though they will be getting some help and input from Rockstar North- developers of all the PS2 GTA titles.

Even with next to no concrete details on this game I still find myself getting excited just thinking about it. If it is as good as GTA: San Andreas I’ll be very happy indeed. I honestly don’t how, or if, they’ll be able to top that game really. Especially since the PSP hardware is of about equal power to the PS2 (in other words it is not greater), though it is apparently easier for programmers to work with. It will be interesting to see what they come up with and if they attempt any really new and different ideas. On top of that, a portable game is generally meant to be playable in short bursts, rather than over extended periods of time (that’s not my rule, I’m just repeating what the game companies will tell you) so we’ll have to wait and see if that has any kind of effect on the overall design of Liberty City Stories.

Gran Turismo 4 Portable:

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Polyphony Digital

This is the same deal as the previous game; GT4 was not shown in any form at E3, at least that’s what all the reports from the show that I’ve been reading said. I’m not a big “driving sim” fan as such; I don’t hate them or anything, they’re just not really my cup of tea. I am more into the over the top fun of the more “arcade style” racing games like Wipeout, Ridge Racer, Mario Kart, Burn Out and F-Zero. However, for those who are car fans in real life and like their driving games to be more authentic, there are few sims out there that can match up to the quality and sheer scope of the Gran Turismo series.

There’s no doubting that Gran Turismo is easily one of Sony’s most popular and successful “A List” properties, which makes this one of the company’s more important PSP games. Thanks to the E3 no-show, there is, unfortunately, not a whole lot of info for this game yet either. However, I think it is safe to assume that it will look incredible and sell by the truckload. From the little I’ve read and heard about GT4 Portable, I’d expect something pretty similar to the PS2 version in most respects. Since the PS2 game has generally been very well received, that should be a good thing for most fans. Also, maybe the PSP version will incorporate the internet support that went missing in the PlayStation 2 version.

Virtua Tennis: World Tour:

Publisher: Sega/THQ(in Australia)
Developer: Sega

Even for those (like me) who don’t particularly care for tennis in real life, tennis games can still be a lot of fun. Handhelds have a pretty good history of quality tennis games, dating all the way back to the imaginatively titled Tennis for the original Game Boy and more recently Camelot’s Mario Tennis games.

Virtua (Sega avoids that pesky letter L as much as possible) Tennis was a great game in the arcades. It was still a great game on the Dreamcast and later PS2. Therefore, there’s little reason to suspect it won’t remain a great game in its latest form on Sony’s handheld. The game shown at E3 was far from finished, but it already looked really good. The graphics look as impressive and realistic as ever (probably even better, thanks to the system’s exceptional screen quality) and that addictive gameplay will likely go over very well in portable form. From all reports, the PSP’s analogue stick handles things really nicely. The potential for this one to be a top multi-player title makes it one to keep an eye on.

Burnout Legends:

Publisher: EA
Developer: Criterion

Here’s another driving/racing game (the PSP is going to be home to roughly 10 billion of them). But, as most gamers will know, despite the fact that Burnout and Gran Turismo both feature cars; the two series actually have very little in common. Turismo is all about accurate handling and being a convincingly realistic driving experience. Burnout, on the other hand, is about pure speed, crazy over-the-top mayhem and carnage (no pun intended…unless you find a lame gag like CARnage funny, in which case I totally meant it ).

As the game’s title indicates, Burnout Legends is not a port of the upcoming Burnout Revenge. Instead, it is going to be much like the PSP Ridge Racer, in that it will feature all of the most popular tracks and vehicles from the previous games in the series. A sort of “best of” compilation you could say. There was a 70% complete, playable version on display at E3 and the general consensus seems to be that Burnout Legends plays very much like Burnout 3, with the graphics and sense of speed also being a lot like they were in that game. It also features multi-player wireless support and that sounds like a very promising feature to me.

Metal Gear Acid 2:

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions

Polish up your card skills. As Kenny Rogers would tell you, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run”.

So… already a second Metal Gear title is on the way for PSP and again it isn’t going to be a stealth/action game? That just seems a bit wrong to me, but oh well. Metal Gear Acid was the recent (all PSP games are recent really, so recent that we Aussies can’t even play them yet!) turn-based strategy card-battling game and this is the follow up… yep, that’d be what the 2 is for.

Kojima Studios is Konami’s new internal studio, which, as you can probably guess, was put together by Hideo Kojima. Kojima is the famed (in gaming circles at least) creator of the Metal Gear series and he chose to lead his own development team, allowing him to fully concentrate on the creative side of things and leave the business/marketing aspects to others.

From the screenshots I’ve seen online, Metal Gear Acid 2 looks pretty much identical to the first one graphically. The gameplay changes are not really known yet, but I’d expect it just to expand on the ideas that reviewers and consumers liked in the first game and remove some of the aspects they didn’t. Of course, since I haven’t even played the first one yet, I couldn’t really tell you what exactly those things are!

Due to the huge, rabid fan base that anything with the Metal Gear name attached to it is sure to attract, it wouldn’t shock me too much to see this game sell really well when it comes out. Those hoping for a “real” Metal Gear game on the PSP might find the news of a second card game to be slightly disappointing, but at least they have some of the familiar characters from the series making an appearance, in some form, on the platform.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper (working title):

Publisher: THQ
Developer: Capcom

It has wireless multi-player support and boasts a list of over 34 fighters. There are four new characters: Karin Kanzuki, Rainbow Mika, Juli, and Juni. Guile and E Honda are a couple of the old favourites that will be making a return.

Aside from that it is basically the same Streetfighter Alpha we all know and love…umm, except for those that don’t love it I suppose.

The graphics are looking sharp so far and make nice use of the PSP’s widescreen display. Good to see some top quality 2D fighting action on the way for the system. For the “3D only” gamers (sadly they do exist), there’s also a Mortal Kombat game on the way.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children:

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix

You want to talk blockbusters? Love them or hate them (or find yourself mostly indifferent towards them, as I do since the series left the SNES era) games just don’t get much more popular than the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VII in particular seems to be a favourite with thousands upon thousands of people. So setting another game in that universe makes perfect sense. The thing is though, as the hardcore fans will already know; Advent Children is not a game at all. Instead it is a movie. A movie designed for the UMD format exclusively (at this stage at least) for the PSP.

Those who recall the last Final Fantasy film, The Spirits Within, might find this decision a little dubious. You see, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was hyped by Square (from memory this was before the Enix takeover…I mean partnership) to the moon and back. It was going to change the way movies were made and become the biggest thing ever. In the end though, it was a very slick looking thing…and little more than that. Sort of like a massive budget video-game CG cut-scene, probably because that’s basically what it was. It was all ridiculously convoluted and over-wrought. If it ended up making any sense at all you’d be long since rendered too bored by that point to notice. The movie was almost universally panned, it bombed at the box office and Square ended up losing a fortune on the project, after which they swore to never try their hand at movies again.

This time around though, they have a more solid framework to build on and thanks to the more contained environment of being released for a “games system” and, therefore, being target directly at fans of the games, you would expect a much greater chance of success. Advent Children’s budget will no doubt be much more reasonable than The Spirits Within’s was as well.

I’ve watched the preview footage of the film from E3 and it certainly looks very nice. I really can’t see myself rushing out to buy it though. But for all the Final Fantasy VII fanatics desperate to find out and see more of Cloud, Sephiroth and the other characters they know and love it will probably be most appealing.

At the very least it will be an interesting experiment. Can movies made just for the PSP sell well enough to be worthwhile? If Advent Children proves to be popular, will that encourage other game companies to try their hands at similar projects? Personally, I hope not, but that’s ok…I can always choose to just not buy them.

The Sims 2:

Publisher: EA
Developer: Maxis

It is yet another Sims game, in which you do yet more Sims types of things. Forgive me, but I just can’t bring myself to talk much about this one. The Sims games still have heaps of fans though and all those people should be pleased to know there’s a version of the game coming to the PSP.

Viewtiful Joe VFX Battle (working title):

Publisher: Capcom/THQ
Developer: Capcom

More Viewtiful action is on the way! This game is being developed for both the PSP and Gamecube. I loved the last two Viewtiful Joe games. My review of Viewtiful Joe 2 for the ‘cube and PS2 will be up soon (better late than never right?).

Judging by the screenshots I’ve seen of VFX Battle it looks as though the great, ultra-stylish 2D visuals seem to remain mostly unchanged. The gameplay sounds like it will be a little different though, as this time around some two player co-op and versus modes and interactive environments are being added to the mix. There’s not a whole lot more I can tell you about this one yet…because I don’t know anything else about it! It is looking really good so far and I am looking forward to it, that much I can say.


Publisher: Sony
Developer: Ready at Dawn

Sweet! I like my platform games, so this one is good news to me. Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter games were excellent, so let’s hope Ready at Dawn can continue that pattern.

The game is set just before Daxter rescued Jak from Baron Praxis, which is why the little guy is on his own this time. They’re planning to take advantage of the fact that you control Daxter rather than Jak. Things such as the small spaces he’s able to squish himself into should help the game feel quite different to its predecessors.

Visually, this is one of the best games so far on the PSP with the graphics being near 3rd generation PS2 titles in their level of quality. The gameplay already looks quite varied and shows plenty of promise. There was some talk of Daxter featuring almost an entire second game within the main one, but I couldn’t find any more details about that. Sounds like it will keep you busy for some time though!

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:

Publisher: Sony
Developer: SCEI

It has Ghost in the Shell in the title, so the anime fans are automatically going to be interested. It is also a first person shooter, so the legions of FPS lovers will want to check out one of the first PSP games in their favourite genre as well. Oh yeah, don’t forget the chicks in G-strings part, that will certainly appeal to some too.

I know I have repeated these words an awful lot, but it is the truth and there is nothing I can do about it… so here I go again; there just aren’t too many details on this game yet. No real plot details, gameplay details or any other kinds of details. It looks okay so far and the frame-rate is reasonably steady when you see the game moving, but it appears to still have a long way to go. After some more time in development it could be a great game. Sony will probably have a decent sized audience waiting for the game when it arrives, based on those factors I mentioned at the start.

Some of the other PSP titles shown at E3: Tomb Raider: Legend, GripShift, Madden NFL ’06, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Guilty Gear Judgement, The Godfather, Batman Begins, Black & White Creatures, 50 Cent: Bulletproof and a shitload more!

There we have it then. Cleary the PSP is going to be very well supported by all the major publishers/developers and have all kinds of different games to choose from. The future of Sony’s first handheld gaming system looks very bright indeed.

by: Hillelman

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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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