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Our day at Colorado Cutt Throat Supercon

Colorado Cutthroat Connection Super Con report

It’s about that time again when video game tournaments are at an all-time high. Los Angeles hosts EVO while Japan is home to Godsgarden, but unless you have the time and money to attend these (and if you do, we’re jealous), where is a local player to go to participate in such gaming events? The Colorado Cutthroat Connection event has you covered. These guys host about 5 tournaments every year all over the US. One of the more prominent ones was just held in Denver during the last weekend in July, and we were glad to attend. If you wish to partake in some fighting game goodness, this is the place to be.

When we departed for this event we weren’t sure what to expect, as our experience with fighting game tournaments had been limited to local anime cons, which is admittedly a very different atmosphere. Were the players going to be the dreaded anti-social stereotype of elite players, or would they welcome newcomers with open arms and freshly-modded controllers? I am grateful it turned out to be the latter, and in the end it was a rewarding and fun experience. I have never met a friendlier group of people for a gaming event. The Cutthroat guys definitely go out of their way to make sure you have fun at this mini gaming con. It’s a one day event that’s filled with more than just fighting game, since it has room for other types of gamers to have fun, even including space for some classic convention DDR. Their main focus is still the fighting games, of course. They were running tournaments all day long for Mortal Kombat, MVC3, Super Street Fighter 4 AE, and Blazblue. In addition they ran workshops in some of the other rooms instructing people on how to improve their skills, complete with random trivia for prizes. There is always something to do all day long regardless of your game preference.

It was a lot of fun and everyone there far exceeded expectations. We got some great tips on modding arcade sticks at the event which I have been excitedly working on in my spare time. For an event focused on fighting tournaments, these guys know how to do it right. And it’s not just a one-time event, they manage to keep it running multiple times throughout the year! The man in charge, Greg, is so dedicated that he has fighting game parties at his place just for people to come and enjoy the atmosphere. Anyone looking for some fellow players for a match or even just wanting some tips for major tournaments should check these guys out. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions either, you never know what handy tips you might pick up. These guys are exceptional and just want to do whatever they can to help improve your game.

Also look for their upcoming events partnered with Gamestop in the Colorado area. They have a full schedule planned for the fall and winter season this year and Hyphytek plans on attending just about all of them. I hope to challenge some of you guys there!

Additional resources:

Website:  http://www.coloradocutthroat.com/index.php

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ColoradoCutthroatConnection

Joseph Dunn

Shoryuken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II – Review

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
by Travis Wainwright – 2/23/2011

Gameplay – 8
Graphics – 9
Controls – 8
Plot – 5
Replay Value – 6

Overall Score  -  7.2

In the inevitable follow up to Lucas Art’s hugely successful title, The Force Unleashed, we continue our revenge-driven hero, Starkiller’s story through the mildly short epics of The Force Unleashed II. For Starkiller’s return, however, Lucas Arts obviously deferred to jump start the story line with hi-the-ground-running tactics instead of stopping for any focus to character development.  The title’s story line starts off with an immediate confrontation with the infamous, Darth Vader, and before you know, Starkiller is on the run for his life to escape his ultimate purpose as the Dark Lord’s slave puppet, only to find himself eventually returning to where he started to save the helpless starlet of his affection, Juno.

One thing the player discovers very early in the game is the its excitable game play through smooth graphics and controls.  Although, you can’t actually utilize all of Starkiller’s powers until at least half way through the gameplay, his character is by no means a weak presence from the get-go.  Right off the bat, Starkiller’s powers are a force to be reckoned with, and through force pushing, lightning charges, and force grabs, the elements of game play are nearly limitless in the number of ways you can pummel your enemies.  These factors do a superb job of hiding the fact that the game is actually a hack-and-slash, button smasher, since when a hack-and-slash is being performed by a dual wielding, lightsaber force master, the fun factor instantly pushes through the roof. There’s just something about the slick acrobatics of a well trained Jedi and the hum of his sabers arcing through the air that can easily trick your mind into forgetting that all you’re doing is smashing buttons.  Once you’re done slicing through a mob of stormtroopers, then grab a TIE-fighter out of mid air, crush it with your mind, heave it at another squadron of incoming fighters, and call it good in the name of a hard day’s work.  The point being, when it comes to the non-stop action in this game, you’ll be salivating in your seat.  Charged with the excitability of the fast pace action sequences and the well developed cinematic cut scenes, and the gameplay alone is probably what saved this title from becoming an overly-hyped flop.

As any avid gamer can tell you, however, gameplay alone can’t always save a title.  Gameplay will only keep a gamer entertained until the novelty of the action sequences wears off.  In the end, what really keeps the gamers’ hands glued to their controllers is a well developed plot, and the Force Unleashed II’s ‘hit-the-ground-running’ story line definitely came at the cost of… … well… a story.

Lucas Art’s clearly intended for Starkiller’s character development to transfer from the title’s prequel, which had clearly focused more on plot development, and unfortunately leaves any new comers to the series with a feeling of disappointment.  The ultimate story line boils down to our protagonist’s burning love for a woman named Juno, who becomes the ill fated damsel in distress.  Although, his unyielding desire to rescue her at all cost is the epitome of romantic heroism, Starkiller relentlessly turns a deaf ear to the pleas for help from the Rebel frontline who inevitably become overwhelmed by Imperial forces.  It actually leaves the player with a sense of bewilderment as to why any rational individual would willingly allow thousands to be slaughtered for the possibility of saving just one.  Again, maybe return players from the prequel would have a better understanding as to why his passion for one woman goes so deep, but the sequel’s lack of any prominent story line or character development does little to clue in any new comers.

After all is said and done, maybe it was actually good planning that the game’s campaign is only four levels long.  If gameplay is what you’re banking on to carry a player to the terminal end of your story, then you better not have an Elder Scroll’s game design to force gamers to play for days to reach the end.  You would be especially irate if you were to dump a hundred hours of your life into a game and discover that it ends the same way The Force Unleashed II ends, and for those hoping to plow through a lackluster story line in the hopes that they might be saving all the bang for the finale… don’t kid yourself.  Without ruining any surprises, the game’s ending is more disappointingly attuned to watching a great movie only to discover that the protagonist was dreaming all along.  I’m not saying that’s how the game actually ends, but you might still walk away from the game with that sickening feeling that all your hard work was for nothing.

So, in the end, I give The Force Unleashed II a 7.2 out of 10.  The graphics and gameplay are full of entertainment and potential, but the fun factor quickly dwindles without a strong plot to support the weight of its hype.  Combined with an overly short campaign, unnecessarily long boss fights, and one rather irritating bug in the game that prevented a platform from appearing and hindering my progress through the final level until I restarted my console… I’d recommend caution before purchase.  The gameplay itself is at least worth a play-through at some point in your life, and in fact I would say this title is a win for any fans of thoughtless button-smashers.  However, for those craving a deeper intimate connection with the characters under their immediate control, I’d wait for a substantial price drop before investing in the full cost of this fan title.

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops – First Strike Map Pack

Call of Duty: Black Ops – First Strike Map Pack
By: Travis Wainwright;
Hyphytek – Senior Entertainment Editor

On February 1, 2011, Activision released the first DLC to see the light of day for their latest blockbuster hit in the Call of Duty franchise. Black Ops shattered the world launch record with more than $650 M in sales following the first five days of its November release, while gamers and fan boys alike have been impatiently salivating for the first extension to be released through Xbox Live. So after a week of persistent red eye and an astounding 1,200 Microsoft points later (translated to $15), how did Activision deliver?

For starters, at $15 for a four map extension, I’d say it’s fair to accuse Microsoft of taking advantage of the title’s overwhelming success. One would think that charging 25% of the game’s on-shelf retail value would come with more than just a small bump in venue options and zombie maps. After all, most Xbox Live Arcade games rarely see a price tag so absurdly high, save for a few overly successful titles such as Braid, Castle Crashers, and Limbo. So what exactly does your $15 get you? more »

Mindjack review by Kai Powell

Taking a page from games such as Demon’s Souls, Mindjack claims to offer a revolutionary experience allowing any player in the world opportunity to enter your game as either an npc in your aid or actively take control of any member of the opposing force. As one of the freshest multiplayer gimmicks to be released in years, does Mindjack bring true innovation to the field or does it simply fall at the heels of the established hitters in the genre?

In the recent wake of gaming, it seems that many companies are striving to etch their name upon the monolith genre of third-person shooters. From Koei to Sony, Eidos to Capcom, all of these companies are all vying for a piece of that gaming pie. With so many niches filled there lies a new challenger waiting to enter the ring: feelplus. more »

G Gundam review by Archer

Archer anime review

Mobile Suite G Gundam

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5k8oCN0qdL8/TCRK4W1EgFI/AAAAAAAABnA/YVU6-WL875Q/s1600/G+Gundam.jpg

G Gundam was one of the first series I ever watched, and was one of the reasons I fell in love with anime. G Gundam was created in 1994 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the franchise. This anime is very different from the other Gundam series, which has caused it to be some what shunned by the Otaku’s of the series. The show takes place in “Future Century”, a war that is fought in which a fighting tournament is held every four years between the space colonies. Each country sends a representative Gundam Fighter to fight on Earth until one is left, and the winning nation earns the right to govern over the colonies for the next four years. G Gundam follows Neo-Japan’s fighter Domon Kasshu during the 13th Gundam Fight. He is in the fight both to win and to track down his brother, who had stolen a mysterious Gundam—the Devil Gundam (Dark Gundam in the American version)—from the Neo-Japan government. An English version was aired on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block from August 5, 2002 to more »

Curse of the Crescent Isle Review by Jarod Sanchez

Curse of the Crescent Isle

Genre: Platformer

Developer: AdamTheOtaku

Available: Xbox 360 Indie Games Marketplace

Price: 80msp/$1

Overall score: 9

Curse of the Crescent Isle applies a blocky world to present a tale of a kingdom attacked by an evil figure. Not a new story; Curse of the Crescent Isle uses a premise that has been used time and time again. What freshens up this platformer is a switch of perspective that is a rarity. Even with a twist using a dated game design crates issues at times that can make this game a chore. Though every chore is rewarding and Curse of the Crescent Isle is no different.

A Warlock brings on the curse during the wedding of the Princess of the Crescent Isle and Prince of the Northern Isle. Though only meant for the King of the Crescent Isle, the King made a narrow escape that took away his kingdom and transformed his subjects into more »

Nana review by Maris Kelley

NANA

Ai Yazawa + Madhouse = a beautifully-rendered tale of ambition, love, friendship, angst and music. NANA, based on the long-running manga of the same name, is arguably Yazawa’s most famous work. It presents the story of two girls named Nana, who could not be more different. They meet by chance on a train to Tokyo, where sweet, naïve Nana Komatsu is moving to be with her boyfriend. She meets hardened musician Nana Oosaki, who hopes to live her dream as a singer with her band, Blast. When fate finds them looking at the same apartment, they decide to become roommates. The series follows them as they pursue their dreams, deal with romantic entanglements and become friends.

Animation: 10/10

It’s Madhouse; how could the animation be anything but stunning? They have successfully translated Yazawa’s illustrations to animation, retaining her distinctive look while giving it that more »

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Single Player Review

Assassin's Creed:  Brotherhood

By Ross Dougherty

Much has been touted about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s new multiplayer mode.  So much so that little was known about its single player component until the game’s release.  It may come as a bit of a surprise, then, to learn that Brotherhood’s campaign is just as expansive and exhaustive as its single player only predecessors, Assassin’s Creed I and II.  Everything that made those two games great returns in addition to some new and interesting gameplay elements.  This review will focus on Brotherhood’s campaign mode, and what makes it a welcome addition to the Assassin’s Creed saga.

Perhaps more appropriately titled Assassin’s Creed II: Episode II, Brotherhood takes place immediately after the events in ACII.  You play as Ezio Auditore, a member of a league of assassins in early 1500s Rome, which is now totally under the rule of Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander VI).  Rome has become completely unhinged under Borgia’s corruption.  The economy has tanked, the buildings are in ruins, and the citizens live in constant fear of Borgia’s totalitarian rule.  It’s up to Ezio to put an end to Borgia’s influence, rebuild Rome and bring it back to its former glory.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate.  You really play as everyman Desmond Miles in the year 2012 reliving the genetic memories of Ezio, his ancestor.  The modern day assassins are using Desmond and Ezio’s memories to look for clues to stop Abstergo, a corporation bent on controlling the minds of the world’s population.  If it sounds a little farfetched, that’s because it is, but it makes good sense in the context of the game.  I won’t go any more into the story here because it is truly interesting and engaging and worth experiencing firsthand.

The missions in Brotherhood mostly work like this:  Ezio is given the name of a target and then has to go and kill that target (he is an assassin, after all).  There are really two ways to do this:  you can stealthily climb walls and jump across roofs and rafters to silently stalk your target, striking at just the right moment; or you can run in full steam and attack your target (and all his guards) in a full on melee brawl.  Some missions enforce one over the other, and each mission has a secondary objective such as ‘kill only the target’ or ‘avoid detection.’  These secondary objectives don’t serve anything other than an extra challenge, so most of the time you can proceed as you wish.  The combat system makes it easy for Ezio to dispatch swarms of guards quickly, and the platforming mechanics allow Ezio to sneak around quite fluidly.  Both are equally as fun.

Additionally, there are enough side quests to make Brotherhood a completionist’s nightmare.  Borgia’s towers must be toppled and his flags removed; shops reopened; landmarks renovated; thieves, courtesans and mercenaries assisted and additional assassinations executed just to name a few.  There is certainly enough content to keep you coming back.  There is no in game timer, but my playtime is probably well into the 30 hour mark and I’m only at about 70% completion.

The most significant new addition to Brotherhood is the ability to recruit the citizens of Rome into the Assassins.  These new recruits can be sent on missions across Europe to gain experience, and that experience can be used to upgrade each new assassin’s weapons and armor.  More significantly, and this is probably the best thing in the game, these recruits can be called upon at will to take out targets.  Simply lock on to a victim, and with the press of a button your team comes flying off roofs, leaping out of hay piles and bounding over walls to mercilessly slaughter every hapless, unsuspecting enemy in the vicinity, and then slink away into the shadows before anyone notices anything.  It is both hilarious and pride invoking to watch your protégés utilize their skills so effortlessly.  Don’t get too cocky, though, as inexperienced assassins can be killed in combat.

Brotherhood is not without flaws, however.  The game’s platforming mechanics, though fluid and mostly effortless, are such that more than once did I accidently send Ezio flying off a cliff rather than onto the next ledge, where I though I had told him to go.  These moments, though frustrating, do not break the game and only encourage you to be more careful during sequences of intricate parkour.  Similarly, a few times during heated combat, Ezio somehow locked on to an innocent bystander, giving them his trademarked double eye-gouging with is patented hidden blades rather than the guard right next to him.  These are more frustrating as killing civilians can cause missions to restart immediately, and those people shouldn’t have been standing there in the first place.  If you are new to the Assassin’s Creed series, Brotherhood is not a great place to jump in.  The story is way too deep to make any sense to a newcomer and hardly any time is spent developing the characters as they were already flushed out in ACII.

There is something intrinsically satisfying about Brotherhood.  It is a perfect blend of action, stealth, puzzle and RPG.  Completing missions and quests gives a real sense of accomplishment.  The city of Rome is fully realized as dozens, if not hundreds, of NPCs move about their daily lives, occasionally pausing to comment on Ezio’s bizarre wall climbing habits.  The story is extremely well written and acted, and the story-outside-the-story of Desmond is wholly interesting and keeps me wondering what’s really going on.  I hope future installments live up to the standards that AC I and II have set.  Brotherhood certainly did.

Overall Score: 9/10

Steam Heroes review by Jarod

Flash! Bang! Whoosh! this is what solving a puzzle feels like in the XBLA Indie game Steam Heroes. Developed by Tiamat Games and Projector Games for the Xbox 360, Steam Heroes puts a twist on the puzzle genre. While keeping with familiar game play similar of other puzzle games, but adding elements to create an intense experience. Where completing a stage in Steam Heroes is a kin to an insane victory in a battle. Set in the fictional Steam Land where Baron Von Smog and his evil minions are attempting to rule all of Steam Land. The Steam Heroes are set to disrupt Von Smog in 12 stages of color matching steam stomping.

Every stage in Steam Heroes is set up by a cut scene displaying the story out as a one panel comic. These are effective and give the player context for the game. Voice acting is used to not only give clarity, because word balloons can be difficult to read, but to even flesh out the characters. Game play consists of matching three or more game pieces to clear them from the game board. When this occurs the steam from the pieces will aid the heroes in battle. As a player is successful in matching game pieces the more successful the heroes will be. Forced by mechanics, players will have to be strategic in which pieces to clear. As specific steam/health bars need to be filled with a matching steam in order to keep playing. No time limit is in place because play time is determined from the player’s skill. Stage bosses will attack with, and without, special abilities against the heroes that will effect the game board and the many bars. Five in total displaying the heroes’ steam, the player’s health, and the enemy’s health. The problem with all these bars is also having to search a full game board for matches at the same instant. Unlike most puzzlers this one just keeps piling on the game pieces and never allows the player to breath. With so much to take account of a rush of sorts is born from the scramble of searching. Steam Heroes is a very active gaming experience that can be just as draining as any fast paced action game. Which is its strength and is complemented by a creative and aggressive world. more »

P3P Review by xARTURIAx

xARTURIAx’s Video Game Reviews
-Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable –

By: Sara Pease

Who doesn’t love a game where you can kill yourself over and over again? Well, if you’re like any other poor college student, and sick of Adult Swim’s “Five Minuets to Kill Yourself”, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable might be just the game you’re looking for.
First released on the PlayStation 2 console, Persona 3 didn’t receive as much attention as the game deserved. Soon after the PS2 game’s release, and after it became apparent this game wouldn’t make as much money as predicted, Famitsu (a Japanese video gaming magazine) announced the release of Persona 3’s enhanced remake for the PlayStation Portable. This remake, titled Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (a.k.a. P3P), features many new options to game play, such as; a new storyline featuring a female protagonist, new looks to various characters, and new difficulty levels the player can choose before starting the game. If you’re not familiar with the Persona series, this new hand held version is a great place to start. By choosing to start with the male protagonist, a player is shown the basics of Persona game play as well as the original storyline from the PS2 version. Besides, Persona games are similar to Final Fantasy games; the storylines are all new, and rarely do they mention the existence of the other games. This was may first Persona encounter, and I was very impressed with how easy it was to catch on to the main plot, battle system, and the whole “social link” thing. Anyway, on with the review! more »

Burst Angel review by Archer

Archers anime review
Burst angle (Bakuretsu Tenshi)


Burst Angel, or Bakuretsu Tenshi, was originally aired on TV Asahi from April 6, 2004 to September 14, 2004. There were 24 episodes aired and on march 23, 2007, Burst Angle was released by Gonzo and licensed by FUNimation in Canada. The US. Burst Angle is a funny action packed sci-fi anime that will hook you in from the first episode, at least that’s what it did to me. It is one of 4 anime I have watched more then once and will watch again. The anime’s zany humor, along with the tear jerking drama, is mixed with action packed fights that will keep you wanting to pop in the next disk. On November 13, 2007 FUNimation released an OVA, titled Burst Angel: Infinity, and in 2008 Tokyopop released a 3 volume manga, telling Jo and Meg’s story prior to the events presented in the anime. more »

Cutouts! review by Jarod

Looking for a breath of fresh air, then Cutouts! Is the game you are looking for. A warm fuzzy challenge of death awaits players in this felt coated world. Invoking a child like response, this action platformer brings enjoyment to players with it’s ease of controls and well crafted game play. This title  was developed by Robert J. Louie who is the one man band for Cutouts! Creating all the elements of this game. The love poured into development shows making me even think that 80msp/$1.00 was a little low, even for an Xbox 360 indie download. Cutouts! is made of nine levels of twitchy platforming fun for all ages. Even my 25 year old self had to keep playing just to see World 3 at the cost to a pile of dishes I’ve yet to clean.

What got me playing were the visuals, they will be the lasting impression of Cutouts! With nearly 100% made of felt, playfulness brightly bursts from your screen with colorful fabrics. Even with my fat SD TV the texture of the felt is clearly visible. The art is not detailed, but it is this simplicity that creates the right about of distance from the art. Cutouts! has a subtle beauty that helped to keep me going in tough areas. Hopping on a rock monster across a lane of spikes in a vibrant volcano world is plain enjoyable to stare at. While not feeling obligated to study every detail of the mountain side. This child like art style relieves that pressure of worrying about what is what. With nine levels, Cutouts! Is  split into three worlds that have a distinct style. With every world’s visuals reflecting the increased difficulty in game play. World 1 is a gentle lush forest that offers a calm game play experience, after the worlds become more intense and so do the visuals. I don’t wish to spoil, but when the game heats up, the world heats up too. When it becomes an ice queen ready to take your hat at anytime, the game will display it. more »

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