11/16/2011

At A Sports Bar, Filled With Folks From Reddit, Test Driving a New Snoopy Game For The iPad, AKA Typical Tuesday Night In NYC

by Matthew Hawkins

Time for a quick, mid-week update (since it’s been a while):

- I’m assuming that many out there have been busy with all the big, end of the year releases that have flooded store shelves over the past couple of weeks. At the moment, I’m putting Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 through its paces, on the behalf of Joystiq believe it or not! More on that when the time is right. Oh, and been thoroughly enjoying Peace Walker on a larger screen as well; it’s still a portable game at heart, but I’ve just never enjoyed the PSP’s set-up, mostly the analogue nub, even after all this time.

Though the one platform I refer to the most, simply by virtue of being a New Yorker, with the trains and all, is still my iPhone (at least these days, since I haven’t picked up a new DS title in ages). Finally got a 4S btw! Well worth the wait and hassle; am totally in love with the thing. Sucks I couldn’t get a 32 GB mode, so had to get 16 GB instead, the last one in my neck of the woods. Which means it can’t hold as much Sega music as I’d like, but as first world problems goes, that’s perhaps at the very top of that list.

Anyhow, last night was the launch festivities for some new Peanuts title for iOS. I also dig Charlie Brown and company, yet given my affinity for iPhone/iPad games as well, I approached the shindig with a certain degree of skepticism. I mean, let’s be honest: Snoopy and video games haven’t been the best of bed fellows over the years Everyone keeps saying that there was a really awesome Red Baron game not too long ago, which I don’t doubt, but the two just seem to be? I dunno? not the best of fits.

Ultimately, my primary reason for attending was because the game’s makers had invited a bunch of local Redditors to check it out, hence how I found out in the first place. Folks often ask where I get much of my info, and it’s via Reddit (sorry NeoGAF). Though instead of just scoping out headlines, in recent weeks (mostly due to prodding from Jason, whose a fairly hardcore Reddit user himself) I’ve been paying closer attention to the community aspects.

And since it’s been a while since I attended a good, old fashioned, meet-up of strangers from the internet? Plus the promise of free booze simply sealed the deal. It took place near the Empire State Building, at a sports bar that was packed to the gill with people in blue attire, at least the downstairs part. Upstairs was where all the online peeps were at, along with someone in a Snoopy outfit. Plus an open bar?

Among the many new acquaintances I made was some guy who writes about gold plus other precious metals, and is a fellow New Yorker that’s dying to return to Cali, simply for another taste of In-N-Out Burger; he confessed to me that it was his primary reason for wanting to move out to Cali, which I noted was not such a crazy idea as he had assumed.

He also seemed fairly convinced by my arguments regarding hot dogs, specifically how NYC can’t hold a candle to the stuff being done in Seattle. Sorry Coney Island, but call me back when you start putting cream cheese in your toasted buns.

There was another dude that runs the bicycling subReddit, as evidenced by his attire, and who also really dug my thoughts on social networking. Like how I honestly believe Google+ will be discarded in three years, just like Wave and Buzz was. Plus there was Dan, one of driving forces behind the game, and who took offense to my opinion that Sonic Generations is a steaming pile of? more on that later as well. Speaking of?

The new Peanuts title is actually in the vein of Smurfs’ Village; my only prior knowledge of that particular thing is how some kid in the UK racked up like $50,000 dollars with of actual purchases, in-game, or something ridiculous like that. Whatever the case, the mold it provided is a good one. The details are a bit foggy? I had a LOT to drink? but basically you oversea a neighborhood street fair, and depending on how well you do, which is determined by the attractions you chose and their placement, plus those who man them (who are from the original comics), will bring in Snoopy bucks. Which in turn can be used to reinvest in the proceedings.

Though the heart of it all are the mini games, which the street fair provides structure and context for. I also recall Dan or someone else stating that they were the primary nucleus for the project, and the Smurfs’ Village format was adopted afterwards, which again, worked out quite nicely. I didn’t get a chance to test them all, but the few that I did were lots of fun. And Christ, hard as hell, to a shocking degree. These activities help to unlock original comic strips from Charles Schultz and other goodies.

I was told repeatedly that the audio was fantastic, and that the game’s producers when the extra mile, negotiating the rights for iconic music and voices, even though they were not included when the deal was original struck. Too bad it was too loud at the bar to really hear anything, but the animation was pretty impressive. Especially the way everyone walked around, it was super cute! Along with the occasional bursts of dancing that goes down; fans of Charlie Brown Christmas will be pleased.

Again, there’s been countless examples of Peanuts games that have not worked in my book, because the Charlie Brown universe has always been shoehorned into something that wasn’t appropriate. So it’s nice to know that there’s finally a game featuring utilizes Snoopy & company in a manner that simply makes sense. Which is what I believe I told the guy with the video camera, when he asked for my thoughts of the game. Alongside my confession that I thought Peppermint Patty was hot. Sorry, but I just have a thing for girls with short hair, that are kind of dykeish, and are really temperamental. Plus, once more, I had way too many rum and cokes.

- Back to Sonic Generations, I actually whipped up a review for Heavy! Unfortunately, it’s not up quite yet, so in the meanwhile, pleasure refer to my reviews of Daytona USA and Guardian Heroes, which accompanies a little ode to Sega of mine.

EDIT: Actually, here it is, alongside Radiant Silvergun’s.

Meanwhile, I recently began contributing to Mecha Damashii after a long absence! It totally blows how Metal Gear Rex replica I’ve had my eyes on for literally years now is going to be $400, at least.

Oh, and if I could update Americurry, I could (up till this point, I’ve simply emailed my stuff, instead of directly interfacing with its WordPress). If only to post this?

BTW, don’t forget: I also write for Guysim every single day. I believe there’s much fun to be had, watching me introduce distinctly off the beaten path gaming hijinks to an audience that’s very much mainstream. Though? and this is for a whole other conversation? I am totally digging writing about games for folks who aren’t hardcore gamers and just want to know what’s cool to play, period.

Anyhow, time to wrap it up cuz I’m on the air in half an hour! For those who haven’t heard, I am now the official third, permanent chair of the Fangamer podcast! The announcement was made in the last episode, which was finally uploaded just a few days ago, about gaming and parenting. Tonight’s will be able what we’re thankful for, since it’s again that time of year. Should be fun!

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