Yes, it's official, AS3 is awesome. After 2 weeks of consistent AS3 tinkering, I'm wondering how I ever made games without it. Programming in AS3 is definitely tricky. There's no easy way to remove MovieClips anymore, and even passing parameters to functions can be a pain-in-the butt with all the new compiler errors that pop up should you misplace your variable definitions, but by and by it stands head and shoulders over AS2 in many departments.

Something I've been cheerful about is that- contrary to my initial belief- AS3 doesn't necesserily have to be coded in solid OO (what the hell is a public/private function anyway?), and you CAN thankfully code in an almost similar manner to AS2 just by learning the appropriate methods to migrate your AS2 code to AS3. And yes, though the proper programming protocol would be to have your game consist of a bunch of class.as files and give you a headache over all the encapsulation/polymorphism and that sort of tosh, you can actually circumnavigate all that and do it the old fashioned way I'm used to, ie having the game code entirely on the first frame and bugger all OO. Naturally I do intend to gradually turn my games into full OO, but it's a relief to know that my coding doesn't have to come to a flat halt while I'm on the baby steps to mastering that particular style of programming. Subsequently I wont be releasing any tutorials based on AS3 until I'm comfortable that I'm coding properly in OO- but you can expect a few new games out soon.
It's great perkt that I can stick to my usual style of programming and yet still benefit from the TASTY speed increases AS3 has to offer. Already it's clearly obvious to me that the power of AS3 is superior to AS2 in many ways, and if you take a look at some of the demo's online showing the differences between the two you can see it for yourself. It's like having a new Testarosa in your garage- all good fun and I shan't be going back to AS2 anytime soon.
Bounty Hunter 2 (AS3) is in the works. I realise the first one is well... shit, but it was fun to code and there's still a lot of functions in there I think I can reuse. Think of Bounty Hunter 1 & 2 as the equiv of Mad Max and the sequel. They're going to be light years apart in excellence. I've already a little prototype up and running on my machine with an astronaut that can enter ships littered around a galaxy, and an R-Type style beam weapon in operation that is looking rather fab if I don't say so myself. I won't post a pic or an swf as firstly there's a few bugs still in there and also the graphics are all placeholder and crap to look at. I figure I'll start out making a skirmish mode demo that sets you against 20 bots in a deathmatch, and if that does ok with the public I'll turn it into a long-term (and I do emphasise 'long-term') multiplayer project that will have teams against teams. I think the beauty lies in the Paradroid style ability to defeat and then occupy the enemy, assuming all of their special abilities and such. Almost like a Space Sim GTA. It's a play mechanic that I think will be huge fun, with people competing to get or destroy the best ships. Throw in some special super-rare super-hard-to-get street cred ships and you've got a winning game I reckon.
What I've been working on for the last few days though is actually the Streets of Rage engine. It now has throws, combos, some sfx and enemies, and is working well. This will be my last AS2 project for sure, I'm dumping AS2 like a frumpy girlfriend who's no longer good in the sack, for AS3, my new Swedish PlayBoy centerfold. The SOF engine will combine the mechanics of some of my favourite beat-em-ups, Final Fight, SOR, and Spike-Out. It's like Tarantino says- if you want to make great movies, you've got to be a great movie watcher, and I'm pretty confident that I know exactly what it is that makes some fighting games better than others.




TYPING OF THE DEAD

Yup, sounds like I'm making it up, but it actually exists. It's a game that's identical to the 2nd House of the Dead shooter, except you don't shoot, you err.....type. As zombies rush towards you a little box appears above their heads with the words you need to type in to kill them. Most of the words belong to the same content family. Like, 3 zombies might attack you with "ACE", "JOKER", "SPADE". The faster and more accurate you type, the higher the score and the better chance you have of getting extra lives. Bosses are of course, much tougher, and usually attack you with quite long sentences in illegible romanised Japanese "Ore mo jigoku e iku zo!Omae no sakki ni!" Something like that. Some sentences have hyphens and ampersands and such so they're just friggin impossible to get out in time. Finally, the cutscenes look silly, as the main protagonists now have huge typewriters attached to their hands in the place of guns.
Still, taking it all tongue-in-cheek, this is a pretty damn good game and there are much worse ways to blow 100yen. I happen to be quite a fast typist and always make it to around the 3rd level, when the sewer worms gets me due to my inability to answer questions about Japanese culture you are faced with to damage it.
I've also played a Lupan typing game, but this one is much better IMO.

Official website here: http://sega.jp/pc/soft/tod/



TIME CRISIS 4. Doing the rounds. Half-decent game. Has the same guy who does the Japanese voice for Snake in the Japanese Metal Gear Solid in this one. Very good voice actor.

The Japanese looooove 'Keiba'. That's horse-racing to you and me. This is a relatively new gambling game that's only been out for about 6 months. Basically it's the same as betting at the track, except computerised. Need any further elaboration? You just grab a console, stick your money in, choose a horse, then cross your fingers. And nope, you don't win real money, just tokens.


Bingo. Pretty much as you'd imagine it.


I remember when I used to play 'Shenmue' thinking that the capsule toys were cool but fictional. Well, I was wrong. All over Japan you can find these machines littered around the supermarkets and arcades. What makes collecting capsule toys more attractive is that you can often find some rare machines that can't be found in other prefectures. And I've heard that trading them online is quite a popular pastime for certain nerdy types. What's weird and Japanese about them is that you can find toys relating not only to popular comics and superheroes but also pretty much anything else imaginable, including human anatomy, celebrities, vegetables, electronics, well the list goes on...
I found a very cool StreetFighter Hyper Fighters collectors edition one the other day.






Video-games for kids. The one at the bottom is Mushi-King (Insect King). Japan is actually home to some of the coolest creepy-crawlies in the world, and in particular the kabuto (Rhinocerus Beetle), which is extremely popular with young kids. They keep the things as pets, and just love creating kabuto ring fights (little bastards) in the same way English kids love playing conkers. This trading card game they can emulate that by buying random game cards from the machine and fighting Final Fantasy style against a friend or a computer opponent, gaining experience with every battle they win. I've never played it but it looks fun.


Someone requested a close-up of the Half-Life 2 controls so here y'ar. The left stick is mainly for strafing and menu-selection and the right-stick is your controls. It's like a normal joystick except you can rotate it left and right to turn your character. Tap the foot-pedal to move forward. Like I said before, it doesn't quite work as well as it could, and this kind of over-complexity in a game will ruin it in Japan.



Gundam Battlion. Haven't played it yet but this game looks sweet. It's some kind of multi-network robot flying/shooting game and it's brand new. Looks from the outset to be a kind of gang warfare game where you team up with a dozen or so of your mates and take on an army of enemies, or perhaps humans linking from their online network. Will have to try this one out real soon.

Brand-new game called Too Spicy. Didn't look so hot. It's almost like a shooting version of Super-Punch Out. Instead of blasting away at a zillion enemies you have to take on one guy at a time and successfully avoid being hit by using the pedals to navigate your character around the arena. First impressions, not fantastic.



Romance of The Three Kingdoms (at least I think that's what the kanji of the title is). Awesome looking-game but I'm buggered if I can figure out how to play it. There's waaaay to much Japanese text flying about on the title menu and before you can even play you need to buy a bunch of playcards. You then play by swiping your cards over certain areas on the play tablet. Ahh bollucks...I'm not even gonna bother trying to guess how this is played, it goes way over my head. Looks good though. Amazing to think that from that little Snes game Nobunaga's Ambition followed all this.


Just a quick pic of the game-card machine for the above game. You know, for shits and giggles.

A final pic of a new Mah-Jong game that is popular here. Never played it.


That's it then peeps. There is still much more to go, but for now I'm spent. I'll be sure to continue this theme for at least the next couple of weeks so keep your eyes peeled for the next post!
(New Streets Of Rage Style Scrolling Beat-em-Up Tutorial on the sidebar!!)

As I had a bit of spare time this past week, I thought it might be fun to take a few pics of the country I live in from a heavy gamers viewpoint. I'm always seeing cool new machines that I'm sure never make it outside of Japan, and so you know, I thought I'd introduce what some guys outside of Japan would be curious about. What games are big in the video-arcades now, what's selling like hotcakes on the PS3, pics of gamer magazines, etc. Just generally illuminate how the game scene differs from back home. I'm not sure if this'll become a series or not (likely not), but I'll fill at least a couple of posts with it.

Disclaimer:
Since I'm originally from the UK, most of my comments will relate to my experience growing up in UK video-arcades. That's not to say they won't apply to you guys in the States, and as I did live in San Francisco/San Jose for half-a-year so I feel the game scene in both the UK and the States are kind of level-pegging, but, just so you know.....

So without further ado;

Game-Centers (Video-arcades)



More often that not they're run by the big names that you know well. Sega, Taito...Ah shoot, forgot to get Namco WonderLand for you. Will do that soon.



Round 1 is sweet. Check out the things you can do there;
Don't know if you can see all that (blogger.com only allows for set pic sizes).
It says:

B1- Games
3-4F- Leisure Stadium
5-6-7F- Bowling
8F- Open Air Sports
3F- Active Sports and Games - Billiards & Darts - Shower Room
4F- Internet-Karaoke-Table Tennis-Relaxation

So it's like a gaming multiplex. The first few floors have a lot of funfair style machines, video-games, football simulators, kickboxing bag games. All sorts. Then you've got a more chilled out space on the 4th floor where you can enjoy massage chairs, read manga, sing Karaoke or/and piss about on the net. They've also got electronic Darts machines which I simply cannot get enough of and will have to devote an entire post to at a later date. On the 8th floor you can play basketball and baseball against the ball machines, and when you've done all that, you can go soak your sweaty buttcheeks in the shower.
Awesome or what?!And people ask me why I moved to Japan....




Just like the UFO Catcher in that game Yakuza right? These claw machines are extremely popular with young chicks and couples. You can win 6ft Mickey Mouse teddybears. Personally they bore the poo out of me, but you know, they attract the babes so no complaints here.


The Japanese Fruit-Machine (pachislot). This one (Godzilla) is a little popular right now along with the Hokuto No Ken (Fist of the North Star). Gambling in Japan is pretty unexciting if you ask me.
You buy 5 bucks worth of tokens but no matter how much you win, you can't ever change it back into real money. Kind of defeats the purpose of gambling, doesn't it? And personally I much prefer UK fruit-machines. In Japan, instead of the reels spinning in random icons, you can actually time the drops to get exactly what you want. It's not as easy as it sounds, but yeah, you find a few peeps do nothing but win on these things. But again, YOU DON'T GET ANY REAL MONEY, so what's the point? Booooriiiiing. But at least they don't cheat.

And the machines are sexy. That pic of Godzilla you see there is actually an LCD screen that generates 3d cg imagery, so say you win the jackpot or something you see animations of Godzilla smashing down buildings or incinerating Tokyo
One interesting fact is that in Japan you can buy all these games on the PS. Yeah, not literally the machine, but the emulator that runs exactly like the machine PCB. So, if you're the sad bastard who's actually into them, you can play them night and day.



Ahh. Now these games are a mildly fun way to waste your money. As far as I know these things don't exist outside of Japan, either. They're like a combination of your standard coin-toss/woodrail game mixed with an rpg or first-person shooter. They're highly inventive and actually I once thought about making a Flash-game based on them. I still might. This one here is called DragonQuest (if memory serves). It follows the same principles as most of them- along the bottom of the video-screen you get some moving icons that you have to hit with the coin from a well-aimed rail, when you hit them they'll vanish and either reveal nothing or some kind of bonus. Usually the bonus is like 'Move 2 Squares forward' or 'Win 50 coins', where 50 coins will drop onto the shuffling coin-tray and hopefully push the rest off it. As you progress through the game you'll get the chance to battle bosses (hit them with the coins in their weak spots) and do other missions like collecting items for merchants or rescuing a dragon. It's all great fun but terrifically expensive. You could easily go through 10 pounds (pounds, not dollars) in as many minutes, but at the same time you have those days when the win streaks just don't stop.

Random Popular Games

Forgotten what the hell this one was. Gundam or something. Never been into those robot games much but it seems to get a lot of attention.



Spike-OUT. Wow, still surviving after being released 7 YEARS ago. One of the most popular fighting game multiplayers in Japan in fact. There's not many games that can boast with one credit you can either last 5 minutes or throughout the entire game. Best combo system ever conceived if you ask me. The difficulty level is so spot-on as well, the bosses are never too easy, but if you and your mates time the attacks well you can finish them in seconds. Great game.


Good to know the King is still alive and well.

Yep. Fun 4 player Mario Cart arcade.

Virtual Fighter TV. You can play against anyone around the country.


Half-Life 2 Arcade. I had a go on this, and I don't think it'll stand the test of time here in Japan, the reasons being;
a) Japanese aren't much into 1st person shooters. They claim that the games makes them dizzy.
Usually I'd scoff at that, but this game really does.
b) Too many controls. Western people don't mind so much, but Japanese gamers hate having to figure out zillion button games.
Still, it was a good game I personally thought.

OK. So that's it for now. Next time I'll take pics of game stores and show you what's no.1 on the PS3 and things. Plus whatever else I think might peak people's curiousity.

Kris
Just a very quick drop-in to let you dudes know that I'm currently working on a Streets Of Rage -style fighting game tutorial. I've actually got the combo system up and running, flying kicks, and enemy damage systems are a go go. The tutorial is about half done, so watch this space!
Sorry but that's all your getting today.
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