Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 - year-end wrap-up

And so, my little blog finds it's way to the end of another year, and I suppose it's my duty (absolutely!) to do a little summation of what 2008 had in store for the world of gaming.

Unlike the previous year, 2008 seemed relatively quieter/less disruptive overall. A lot of money was made, lots of big sweeping changed occurred, but overall the year seemed kind of grey in it's tone. I would say in the bigger scheme of things, it was a somewhat forgettable year overall... not a bad one, though.

Lots and lots of big releases for a year I hadn't expected much fanfare from. We saw the PS3 hitting it's stride quite a bit, after kind of a dull 1st year in existence. Xbox 360 of course had a great year, well at least consistent if not... noteworthy. Wii is continuing to be a mammoth money-making machine, and it saw some decent releases as well, but again nothing like it's previous year (though it saw a few very solid titles). DS and PSP sort of went on doing their thing, with expected efforts.

Economically, I can't say I know how much moolah the games industry raked in, but you can bet it was something hefty. I believe March alone saw something in the neighborhood of a BILLION dollars (a sum that previous entire years could not match!) and that was before some of the year's bigger releases had even come out. Despite the wild profits, game development has become exponentially more expensive, so in spite of wonderful sales, it's costing much more to get to those profits - we saw a lot of layoffs and studio closures this year, as the typical cycle of change continued in the industry. It really hit in earnest toward the end of the year (not unusual for such things) but what a bummer..!

Games releases - as noted, I was a little clueless about what was due to come down the pipe this year, but as it unfolded I wised up. We saw heavy hitters Metal Gear Solid 4 and GTA 4 of course, with much buildup and fanfare proclaiming these games to be the Second Coming for some time now. Ultimately, they may have failed to live up to that hype, and regardless of what their ultimate effects were on their audiences, they did deliver - and they DID sell loads of copies. Of course all eyes were on the Wii this year, as it's been building up quite a head of steam since release - for a variety of reasons, not least of which is it's remarkably well built-up userbase (hey, it is still challenging to find a wii system available for purchase on a store shelf! It has been TWO YEARS!) Wii did well with titles such as Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart, and of course Wii Fit - regardless of how these titles rated, or their staying power, they were standout during the year for various reasons. Wii Music released for the holidays, a game which I am sure will always be remembered as one that never-quite-fit, though it does seem to have it's fans (though perhaps not the intended sales). Personally, the Wii surpised me with the "EA/Steven Spielberg Collaboration" Boom Blox, which looks horribly childish (and low-tech) but is just incredibly fun, particularly at parties. No one wanted to like this game, but after playing it I don't think anyone could argue that it's one of the most enjoyable videogames ever produced, in many ways..

PS3 games.. ummm.. it's escaping me right now, WHAT came out for this system - was lair this year? Sigh. PS3 is stuttering along, they aren't exactly falling apart at the seams but certainly failing to impress when it really counts. I guess we saw Ninja Gaiden 2 on PS3 - or was it Xbox? (Exactly! Well, it was only on Xbox actually) Devil May Cry released for both systems this year as well, a former PS3 exclusive that wanted to "make money" and I cannot blame them. So they got their MGS4
anyway, and the (who noticed?) Metal gear Online as well. I couldn't even tell you if there was a SOCOM. Gran Turismo Prologue I think (enough with this...!) Ratchet and Clank got a very tiny side-story (better than nothing, but commendable nonetheless). No Jak and Daxter, no Spyro, okay that stuff is a generation or two old but still we should have seen something by SOMEone. There's big holes in their release schedule, and not much excuse for it. I mean, money is waiting to be spent! At the end of the year we got another Motorstorm (who asked for it?) and Resistance 2 (should have waited another year, or "who asked for this either?") Sony is a smart and powerful company, who seem to be making some extremely predictable missteps. Yea, they are making money. Yeah, their system is "formidable." But they are losing a lot of ground for some pretty simple reasons. I guess this is what happens when you start getting top-heavy (and invested a bit much in the longevity of the PS2). I predict a better 09 for PS3, but still sluggish and stale. Lest I forget, at least we got LittleBigPlanet out of the deal, one of the coolest games I have EVER seen. Truly a game which maybe didn't "deserve" to exist (2D? DIY? on PLAYSTATION?) but it gives me hope and pride to see a game this gorgeous, brilliant, and full of pep and character come out with this kind of backing. It won't make them tons of money, but at least it shows some willingness to do something weird and different.

XBox has gone on as planned - business as usual. What the hell big-name titles did they release this year, I can't even get anything out of my head? Who cares. Xbox is to hardcore gamers as Wii is to everyone else. They are truly the PS2 of this generation, in that they have games for all walks of life. Unlike PS2, they are powerful enough (technically) to stand head-to-head with the competition (PS2 always looked weak next to Xbox and Gamecube, though it had many more "fun games" that everybody wanted). Okay, this is bothering me, WHAT DID COME OUT for Xbox this year? Mass Effect was the end of 2007 - fallout was mutli-SKU. yeah I know Gears 2. Um... Viva Pinata 2? Banjo-Kazooie? Fable 2? Shoot I am drawing a blank, what a cheesy way to wrap up my year-end of blogging then. I guess they kinda lay back and let the multi-platform stuff run the show on autopilot then.. which I guess you an do when a billion people have already purchased your platform, and keep doing so. Notably, 360 is extremely progressive in Japan, where once upon a time (forever!) any game system not produced by Nintendo or Sony or the like was instantly DOA. Same for 360 for a time. Anyway I have to hand it to them for turning things around. I am still waiting to see if my system dies... sigh. Online, nothing spectacular. Geo Wars II, but everyone's forgotten already. I was excited - to a degree - for Galaga Legions, but the demo left me uninterested (this, after all the enjoyment I got out of Pacman CE). As noted in an earlier entry, I am waiting to see Space Invaders Extreme over here, I think that'll be a blast...!

What did the PC guys get - well, other than the usual Multi-SKU stuff, EA/Mythic got Warhammer out the door hoping to steal a little WOW thunder - no clue how that's going, though I am sure it's only a matter of time until another one bites the dust (you can't stop those guys.. behemoth!) Of course the new WOW expansion released recently as well, and it moved record units, though again.. it's an expansion. WOW's gotta get old sooner or later, but it's got some crazy-remarkable staying power. EA Maxis' Spore finally saw light, after umpteen years of development and redevelopment - again, to no great fanfare. It sounds interesting, but another halfhearted effort at the end of the day, no doubt throttled by politics and economics. But hey, I am not gonna be one to kick EA when they are down, they have definitely been trying to do right by the critics as of late (much to their stockholders' chagrin).


PS3 finally got their "online experience" Home up and running, after much lead-up. I don't think many people like this thing, personally I see it as a warm pile, but I stand by my conviction that it still holds enormous potential - if exploited properly, it could become a really unique, enjoyable experience. It needs the right people in charge of it, someone with a combination of technical knowhow and imagination and enthusiasm to make it their baby, who won't cave into the suits so much - I think it could take off (I'd love to give it a shot!) That'll never happen, but as far as where it does go, time will only tell.

Xbox has their "NXE New Xbox Experience" as well, which I think is kinda gross as well, but at least they are trying to change with the times - even if it doesn't fit my taste (and I'd never promote "changing for the sake of changing," at least not in such a fashion). Still it's noticeably more accessible than Wii's 24Connect service - yuck - but hey at least Nintendo has done SOMETHING. Pathetic that it must be so championed -- Again, I'd love to be the person in charge of designing such things, as there's a lot they could learn from M$ Live and the PSN.

Soooo, yeah! Another year, all wrapped up all pretty with a big ol' BOW on it. And me, what did I play? Ah heck, I am no gamer. I just read GAF a lot, boy. I got a vectrex! That's fun! I got a TG-16 and CDRom and Japanese card to play JPN discs! I guess my most enjoyment was a few notable sessions of Boom Blox on Wii with friends, plus back to it with more Rock Band (though that's pretty stale by now. Still fun, but old!) Honestly we pulled Bomberman 2 out for SNES at a few parties this year and that got a lot of play, that was probably the most enjoyable gaming for me. I played a bit of Wii Fit, it's not "fun!" but it does feel useful and gets me more interested in going to the gym and stuff. I would love to see a tweaked-out version of this, or something.. I still have to charge up my gameboy micro with some other games... As for PSP and DS, lest I forget, nooooot much to sayyyyyyy. PSP is yawny, DS is always eh-to-really good, and iPhone/Google-thing are the ones to keep an eye on.

Am I excited for the coming year in games? Not really. It's just kind of grinding away at this point. Wii's the one to watch, always, it gets the "weird games" which I find enjoyable. Uncharted 2 will likely be fun, colorful, and more-of-the-same... God of War 2 will of course look excellent and be fun. Xbox will keep coasting. No one will care about PSP, and more weird little games will come out for DS. Everyone and their mother will keep wringing their hairs over WOW. Bleah.

---SCRREEEEECH! I almost forgot! Can't have a year-end wrap-up without some mention of the weirdness in the industry! Aside from all the upset (layoffs times a million), the usual hubbub- 19 new guitar hero games announced, activision/Blizzard merger and all of that fallout, death knells of giants like Midway and THQ, etc... we saw a lot of change in the gaming press. A lot of big names who were active in the press retired, or went over to dev, or what-have-you. Also my favorite podcasty-thing Retrogaming radio pretty much ran outta steam after a decade. Over all it was a lot of changing of the guard, across a LOT of sources that I followed, and I am not too pleased about all of that - a new day is dawning, and it's with a lot of the old guard being absent. And so it goes. Happy new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

so WHAT in the HELL??

Okay, so it is the time of the year - the end - when I would usually take the opportunity to sum up my thoughts on the whole past year of gaming. What's good, what's bad, what was a surprise, and what was -- the best, and worst! WELL - gonna save that for next time. This post will deal with the horrible state of the game industry, lately...

So, no one is a stranger to the notion that the entire country is in some economic turmoil right now, that's rather well-known. Plenty of people are out of work, there's no money ANYWHERE, we're all just freakin' miserable. Save for a new administration shortly to be inaugurated into the White House, it's pretty bleak bleak across the board, and that sucks. Two things - 1. Gasoline is about as cheap as it was like 10 yrs ago (how did that happen?) And 2. Videogaming, as a business, is doing better than ever in history.

So what's to complain about - well, for starters, a lot of the old guard is eating it hard. Typically (and ironically), right before the holidays is when the layoffs generally kick in. That sucks, but that is how it goes - therefore it is no surprise that some studious would downsize at this time of year. However I have never seen it happen at such record numbers. Like TEN studios have been suffering dire economic catastrophe and resorted to laying off staff this season! Maybe not ten, but certainly getting up there. I can't name them all - Aspyr, Midway (yeah, the long-standing old-timers!), Sony (not the games division yet, but even so) - Turbine, EA (record numbers of layoffs). Factor 5, Free Radical. That's off the top of my head, surely there have been a couple more. I know some Activision Blizzard studios got shuttered too (Mass Media, either laid off or closed completely, I don't recall). So what's this all about then? Games are making record money, to a ridiculous degree - where is it all going?

The development model is in need of a change. What worked with small teams on smaller-scale productions can't hold in this multi-million dollar climate. Studios NEED to churn out blockbuster titles to make money, since they are pouring so much dough into development. And now we have a peculiar phenomenon - even if a studio produces a quality title, will it even sell? It used to be the case where the worst thing one could imagine was that the market would be flooded with crap. Now, strangely, the market is flooded with good damned games! You look at the release schedule for the holiday season and what do you see - Tomb Raider. Resistance 2. Gears of War 2. Left for Dead. Dead Space. Mirror's Edge. Call of Duty 5. Rock band 2. Guitar Hero 4. LittleBigPlanet. Fable Fallout 3. WOW Lich King. This is the tip of the iceberg - thank GOD our game didn't ship this season..! Who has the time to play half this stuff? I guess it is actually GOOD people are losing their jobs, so they can manage to sit home and have time to play all these games!

So what is next? You make a bunch of decent selling games, then one bomb and you're toast - is that how this plays out? Suddenly making DS and PSP titles is sounding way more attractive. Is there money to be made there by anyone besides Nintendo? Man are those guys having the last laugh (and look at their Xmas release schedule, it's dead - they didn't even NEED to release anything! Mario Kart and Wii Fit are still doing well enough..). Then there's iPhone development, and beyond that things like Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, Wiiware.. all new models, all waiting for their time to hit, and in what fashion I cannot quite say. Well, it will be big, whatever form it takes, no one can deny that online deployment is the way of the future, and it is only a matter of time.

So, to my fallen comrades, I salute you. I have been laid off before, and it truly sucks. This is exacerbated if you have a family and all of that, especially now with the crushed economy and hell - it IS the holidays. I can't say what's to come, all I know is that it was a banner year for games (some of the best releases ever, and some of the worst layoffs and closures by a wide margin). Hopefully onto better times, though I suspect rocky roads lie ahead. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, if you are reading this and you are on the other side, I wish you much luck and hope you can get crackin' on your demo reel... there's a damned lot of competition out there, that's for sure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Place like Home - thankfully...

so, PS3's Home (beta) finally released for the general public's consumption a couple of days ago, how did it's much-anticipated release fare? Well, not so hot. The thing has been in the cooker for a good couple of years now, and as noted there's been a lot of anticipation of the thing - though I wouldn't say it was of the "hot" variety. Xbox live has been getting long in the tooth, the WiiConnect24 is just kinda.. sloppy, and now PS3 has their service to compete.

In their defense, the overall PSN looks good to an "average user like me." It's ripped-off the Xbox live service appropriately enough (which basically is what we'd had wanted them to do) and it's easily and cleanly accessible. It always seemed a fair question "why do we need a 3D version of this to walk around in?" Home tries to show us why this is cool. The graphics in Home are slick and clean, as expected of a system of this generation - but man! As soon as you touch down, and start wandering the landscape, you realize that there's just nothing to do in here. There's a bunch of 14-yr-olds spouting their shitty gang-speak about noting in particular, and a couple of sad-looking cases trying to explain that they think MGS4 is kewl. Of course, that's what you're probably supposed to WANT to do in an app like home, but something is just getting lost in the process.

I don't want to condemn Home. I still think it is a genius idea, it's very viable, if handled properly. At this point they've shot it out there just so they could at least say "it's out" and feel like they didn't completely waste their development time and budget - and now they can get honest-to-goodness feedback and supposedly concentrate on constructing a workable 2.0. As it is now, Home is empty and depressing, barely a hint at what could have been if it obviously hadn't misfired due to some (well-intentioned?) politics. No one will argue that the model is full of potential - one need only look at things like Facebook/Myspace, and of course WOW and Second Life. Sony can't expect to just put out "a product" with their label on it, and expect it to sing 'cause it's free. They need to put some minds behind this.

Walking around in the game it immediately becomes frustrating "oh I can.. I can walk. And what's this? I can sit as well. Oh! I can dance!" That's fine for starters. You know what I want? I want to skateboard! Rollerblade. SOMETHING. Rip off the whole Tony Hawk series, I don't care (it's been done). If ATVI had their heads on straight they'd just make a free online THPS world like this, it would get lots of flack but people would definitely live in it! I would! It's hard to look at a project like this when there's tings like GTA and Saints Row out there, online-ish communities where you can at least... do things. Okay maybe it's not cool to be able ot kill people in Home, but at least put a paintball (or lazer tag) arena in there. A climbing wall/jungle gym. Parkour. Something involving physics. A moonwalk. A weird carnival - something!

I can't let them get away with their bowling alley either. I didn't bother to try bowling - of course I wanted to see how the arcade looked. Man, it was sad. There were like 7 machines (3 different varieties?) and you had to wait in line to play. You watched someone else's avatar stand in front of a machine while they "played." Not moving, just.. standing there. Then you roll up, if you can get on.. and then wait a few minutes for the freakin' thing to load and play... echochrome? Would anyone "play" echochrome in an arcade? I played about 15 seconds and then quit the arcade. Please, Sony.. license like 500 old-ass arcade games from the early 80s (at least) and stick them in beautifully decked-out retro arcades. The newbs will hate it but us old-timers will love it - besides those old games are tiny (less than half a meg for the oldy-old ones, a couple megs after that) it would be no problem to stream that stuff over. Sounds like Namco is on the ball with getting this started, wisely...

So, basically the most entertaining part of Home was when I walked into a movie theater. A bunch of bored people were arguing over their headsets, yelling about how fat and stupid each other were. It was all very strange, but.. it was something to watch, and hey it was unique. People got bored and felt like they were wasting their time, so i guess they had to find some way to entertain themselves.

In closing, Home = not a colossal failure, but for what it is it doesn't measure up. Bring someone new in there and give them some power, for they definitely have some good foundation to build on - the enthusiasm just needs to come in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

some kid blogs, the internet looks at him, companies get mad

and hilarity ensues. money is spent (pageviews) and lost (game developer, floundering, takes another groin-hit). So this dude at Factor 5 in northern cali writes in his blog about how the company is suffering some fiscal difficulties. Dunno how or why, the guy is all of a year in the industry but somehow some non-spider gloms onto it and the beans spill across 1UP.Com about the troubles - projects getting cut, money getting lost, people not getting paid, yadda yadda. The guy (he is 24) is using the internet for therapy (hey.. it happens) and now I am sure he is looking at no more work in the games industry for a little while, doing what little he can to save face (I'd do the same, deleting the offending blogpost and putting up a sloppy retraction). Hell I gotta give him credit, he probably cleaned up a little better than I would have, but that's just my insecurity.

Anyway good luck to him. I have heard of people getting blackballed in this industry, it was a mistake of youth and of course let's not yet forget that the Internet is truly Pandora's Box - we do not yet know what we wreak -

Having a blog is a difficult thing for me, I have a game blog and a personal blog. I keep this game industry blog not because I just LooOOooOOoove to do noting but write and write ad write about games all day and night, in fact it can be something of a drag sometimes - but the industry is quite fascinating, no matter what, and I do have a somewhat unique view from my perspective. I like to think that, whether or not I get many readers in here, I do hold some responsibility in some fashion to document my work, at the very least for myself - my work, and that of those around me, this industry around me, these times.

When my game blog was new, I discussed it with a fellow dev over dinner one fateful night, she being a writer as well, no doubt more capable than myself (well, technically, anyway) - she expressed interest in starting an industry blog of her own, but shunned the idea as it was "a conflict of interest." Well the Factor 5 fellow proved her right I suppose, but I maintain that it can be done, if properly, without threatening one's livelihood - and without sacrificing the dignity of the writing, as well.

Is this a perfect experiment? Far from it. I have learned from it, I have a lot to learn yet - perhaps someone will stumble on my own blog some day and hold me up to some scrutiny as well (be gentle!) Perhaps a current or future boss will happen upon it, and it may negatively affect my career - or, perhaps the result will be positive.

One thing is for sure, when dealing with business, one must take their world seriously, they mustn't act impetuous (even if our world is stifling-suffocating with manchildren, I mean hell we make videogames - about robots and boobies and tentacles and spaceships and crap) - but we must be responsible as well, across the board. Sigh - I could write a book, EASILY, I have worked 11 years in this field now. I have seen and heard (and been part of) all manner of crazy stories. I could make some money, probably, and get out of my grunt position. But you know what, that isn't what I want. I like sitting there, at my desk. I like building and lighting levels, hanging out with my buddies, figuring this stuff out. I love the insane politics and the crazy hours. Well, it's what I do.

Robot Rondo

2:21am, monday morning. I am sitting here in my blue and yellow "police" shirt, eating birthday cake and drinking coke. i need to be awake in some hours to go to work. instead i am sitting here eating this crap and typing in my game-blog - oh well, i suppose i could be doing worse things at this hour, eh?

news, Space Invaders Extreme is coming to XBLA, which is a definite-buy for me. I don't know wen it's out (shortly I hope!) but this game received lots of critical acclaim in the portable incarnations, so I think I can see myself parting with a few bucks for some good timey-ness. I am a fellow who still actually (very much) enjoys a good game of classic space invaders, even all these years later. it's a hard game, but it rewards patience with addiction. On a side note, while i loved the Pacman:CE update, I wasn't so taken with the demo for Galaga Legions.. hey well, that is why they have demos. Right?

More news, one of my very favorite things in all of videogames, a podcast called "retrogaming radio," has finally been officially retired. This guy Shane Monroe, who I affectionately would refer to in the past as "the Michael Moore of Videogames," decided after 10+ years of consistent output to hang up his mike. This was the longest-running podcast i have been into, since the dawn of my own career in the filed actually - and I am quite sad to see it go. Knowing him, the show will not die a true death - I hope! - at the same time, I know that life goes on and at some point one must move on and say "enough is enough." I encourage any who read this to seek out the website, if you are at all passionate about the world of retrogaming there is a goldmine out there waiting for you to plunder (hey the show is about retrogames, so it's all currently as relevant as it'd ever be, really!)

More news also, I got my hands on a divx of a documentary called "chasing ghosts:beyond the arcade" - seek out the trailer on youtube. in this post-"king of kong" world, it's interesting to have a different, more documentary look at the world of early-80s competitive videogaming, the world and the people who lived in it, and what it was all about - see the other movie for what little was left in it's wake. Fascinating movie, I was interested to see it for a couple of years now, though not quite was I was expecting - rather dark, upsetting, I am a child of that era, and it all seems so distant and irrelevant now. Of course all of videogaming is so different now from those pre-crash days, no doubt, but it does seem sad how such a colorful and interesting time mutated into something completely and utterly different. A good lesson to learn from...

Work is alright, i have been busy. I had a long weekend, our office moved into swankier digs, tomorrow's the first day over there so it will be interesting to see how high-class it will be (I have expectations!) Though I must say, a part of me will always prefer the more humble locales of some videogame development studios. I remember when I was with Neversoft, and we moved from one office building into a larger, more dedicated facility - Yes it was fancy, but of course it was like leaving a somewhat exciting, touching piece of history behind. And so it goes, and of course they found even greater success since relocating. Hey here's to that, you know?

Early December, all the big releases for the year have come and gone. It's all quiet as we gear up for a little mellow time across the industry, and then of course the next phalanx of releases will be out for early-early spring. What's next on the radar, my head is a little low. Killzone of course - that's the biggest thing I can think of. I guess Infamous and Bionic Commando are due in some coming months as well, but really everyone is just quiet as heck these days. No surprise coming off of such a busy season, but.. hey, what the devil is up nintendo's sleeve, anyway? I guess they are just at the phase right now where they can truly kick back, take a breather, and let the money keep-a-rollin' on in.

Monday, December 1, 2008

nice and rotten

the thanksgiving holiday is behind us, and now we can all get on with our lives.
Thanksgiving, as a yout', was traditionally the point of departure for me between my whole previous year of gaming and the beginning of the whole COMING year, the things i had been salivating over in gaming magazines for the past several months were finally seeing the light of day at Toys R Us, EBX and Child World, or the like. It was pretty much a high point of the year for me (well, of course I generally didn't like being in school very much, and I wasn't into sports and stuff like that, I suppose my parents were too lazy to kick my ass and make me go outside.. sigh) Anyway, now as an adult I view it from the flip side, seeing all these games trickling out just past halloween and the media barrage that accompanies them, of course driven in that particular way that only the internet can do -- yeah, if we had this stuff when I was a kid, I suppose I would have ended up being even more antisocial then I was already..

Thanksgiving was alright, we got a bunch of time in with Rockband 2, though I must admit that after a year, I have had enough. I have a long way to go with the drums, and I have barely touched the guitar - more than any of that I've not ever really touched the progression modes, in my househould RB usually serves as party entertainment. It's been fun while it lasted and it will be awhile yet, but the novelty has definitely passed (and I can't say I am too terribly looking forward to download many more tunes). I suppose if the selection blew wide open and there was a lot more to chose from - the selection, while decent, has always felt painfully limited to me, though I can not blame them for putting out a decent effort - then I would get a fair bit more enjoyment out of it for some months to come. I suppose that's up to the future of rhythm games, a genre which is still relatively early along in it's stride. The problem with the whole "yearly update agenda" they push with these things, is that it kills the potential and enthusiasm. Either that, or sink a shit-ton of R+D into the thing and blow a fat wad of cash to absolutely annihilate the competition. They don't need to, so they won't - the short term answer is it's a pretty powerful juggernaut, though the potential for better games inthe long term gets kind of diminished as a result. No matter really, since I suppose no one ever really knows what they are missing - though they do realize when they are bored...

Bookending the sessions of Rockband, we pulled out the SNES and played some Bomberman 2. I have had it sitting in my closet for a good year and a half or so, with little more than a session here and there in the past with the game. Truth be told, I never really caught the train on the whole Bomberman trend, not that I didn't dig it, the game just fell through the cracks with me. I did finally get wind of it several years later, and plunked down for a set, and glad to say I did, the game is a lot of fun! I realize there's like EIGHTY variations of Bman out there, and I can't really say I know where to go next (or that I really need to). Four-player local is enough for me, I guess I will see if I can hunt down the first SNES iteration as well as the game gets some praise. Really, games like that still hold up very well, they remind me that we don't need to churn out crazy tech to have extremely fun gaming. Honestly, they still look and feel more than satisfying enough.. I like when this happens, pulling up a rock and finding a whole cool branch of gaming that one was kind of oblivious to in the past, that can still be enjoyed.