Bayonetta – Panda Review

Just realized that I hadn’t reviewed Bayonetta since I got it.

Preface: I downloaded the demo and was wowed, I hadn’t bought a video game in a while, let alone an action game in many years. So I got it, now here’s the review.
Action games. They are a mainstay of video games since the beginning, with River City Ransom, Double Dragon, etc., but always hard to get right. There are so many things to take into account from gameplay, graphics, the look, feel, control, story and so on.

Bayonetta gets the important ones right, but does lack in other departments.

The world of Bayonetta is described as one where light and dark are forces keeping each other and the world in balance. The angels are light, and witches are dark. Bayonetta is a witch. At some point, there was a war and it was thought that all witches had been killed, but Bayonetta lives.

Now she is killing a ton of angels to find out about her past because she can’t remember any details.

Kidna of a cool otherworldly story. In truth, it is kinda of disjointed and doesn’t always make sense. No points awarded here.

Graphics wise, the game does pretty well. Not mindblowing, not game changing, but definately next gen and still very good. There are a few times where the game has small glitches and the screen twitches, but it doesn’t happen during the action and doesn’t get in the way or prevent you from playing the game, it just gets annoying at some points of the game. There are pretty good cut scenes throughout the game, but then there are these storyboard things that they used to move the story forward that aren’t cut scenes. It’s like a comic book where the person’s hair moves, and that’s it. There’s a picture of the person talking, the hair moving, and dialogue. It’s kinda creepy and kinda crappy that they didn’t just make them all real cut scenes.

They would lose points for that, except I don’t really care. The cut scenes and storyboard scenes do move the story along and work well enough without feeling totally out of place. Then there’s the plus side of the action.

The important part of the game’s graphics happen during the fight/action scenes. The scenery look and design is very nice without going crazy or mindblowing, but the graphics more than keep up during fight scenes and work flawlessly. From fighting 5 angels at the same time, to fighting monsters the size of a blimp, the graphics never stutter or chop and all the characters have great looking moves and animations. Check this fight out, it’s what you see on a regular basis, this was just a pretty normal enemy for the game. Bayonetta absolutely get the graphics right when it matters, which is the second most important thing to get right for an action game.

It’s over the top with the removing of clothes and such, but it is entertaining and doesn’t feel too out of place.

The control is the most important thing to me for an action game, and Bayonetta get this right also. There is a combo systems built into the game that compromises of punch, kick, and gun/action, then combined with a dodge button. It seems simple, but is difficult to master, and gets even more in depth when you find out different techniques. The coolest one to me is the ability to start a combo, dodge an attack from another enemy mid-combo, go into “witch-time” (more on that shortly), then continue your combo and inflict tons of damage, looking awesome the whole time. These are really hard manuvers but it never feels impossible, just challlenging. The only let down is the camera, as it can be a liability at times being in the right place at the wrong time when the action gets real hairy. Controlling it with the right stick while completing the combo/dodge can be a pain and will result in a few deaths, but it doesn’t happen too often to really affect the overall game.

Then there’s witch-time. It’s nothing more than bullet time in other games, and it is activated by timing your dodge right as an enemy attacks, as you avoid it, the enemies go into slow motion and you can dish out as much damamge as you can in the few seconds given to you. It becomes a real challenge when there are 4-5 enemies at varying ranges attacking head on and at range to avoid these attacks.

So, I love this game. It is a definate buy for me. If you aren’t a fan of the weird story, over the top costume and moves, then you’re looking for an RPG to play, not an action game. It’s all about the feel and look during the action, and Bayonetta nail this in every aspect.

-FYI I have the Xbox 360 version, I read that the PS3 version isn’t as good and has a few slowdowns but not during the action, I would still buy it for the PS3 if that was the case.


How the music industry works, or doesn’t

This was an open letter I found posted on Gizmodo from the rock band OK Go. I thought it was interesting they way they lay out how and why you can’t embed youtube videos sometimes from major artists, and other issues that the music industry deals with.

To the people of the world, from OK Go:

This week we released a new album, and it’s our best yet. We also released a new video – the second for this record – for a song called This Too Shall Pass, and you can watch it here. We hope you’ll like it and comment on it and pass the link along to your friends and do that wonderful thing that that you do when you’re fond of something, share it. We want you to stick it on your web page, post it on your wall, and embed it everywhere you can think of.

Unfortunately, as of now you can’t embed diddlycrap. And depending on where you are in the world, you might not even be able to watch it.

We’ve been flooded with complaints recently because our YouTube videos can’t be embedded on websites, and in certain countries can’t be seen at all. And we want you to know: we hear you, and we’re sorry. We wish there was something we could do. Believe us, we want you to pass our videos around more than you do, but, crazy as it may seem, it’s now far harder for bands to make videos accessible online than it was four years ago.

See, here’s the deal. The recordings and the videos we make are owned by a record label, EMI. The label fronts the money for us to make recordings – for this album they paid for us to spend a few months with one of the world’s best producers in a converted barn in Amish country wringing our souls and playing tympani and twiddling knobs – and they put up most of the cash that it takes to distribute and promote our albums, including the costs of pressing CDs, advertising, and making videos. We make our videos ourselves, and we keep them dirt cheap, but still, it all adds up, and it adds up to a great deal more than we have in our bank account, which is why we have a record label in the first place.

Fifteen years ago, when the terms of contracts like ours were dreamt up, a major label could record two cats fighting in a bag and three months later they’d have a hit. No more. People of the world, there has been a revolution. You no longer give a shit what major labels want you to listen to (good job, world!), and you no longer spend money actually buying the music you listen to (perhaps not so good job, world). So the money that used to flow through the music business has slowed to a trickle, and every label, large or small, is scrambling to catch every last drop. You can’t blame them; they need new shoes, just like everybody else. And musicians need them to survive so we can use them as banks. Even bands like us who do most of our own promotion still need them to write checks every once in a while.

But where are they gonna find money if no one buys music? One target is radio stations (there’s lots of articles out there. here’s one). And another is our friend The Internutz. As you’ve no doubt noticed, sites like YouTube, MySpace, and run ads on copyrighted content. Back when Young MC’s second album (the one that didn’t have Bust A Move on it) could go Gold without a second thought, labels would’ve considered these sites primarily promotional partners like they did with MTV, but times have changed. The labels are hurting and they need every penny they can find, so they’ve demanded a piece of the action. They got all huffy a couple years ago and threatened all sorts of legal terror and eventually all four majors struck deals with YouTube which pay them tiny, tiny sums of money every time one of their videos gets played. Seems like a fair enough solution, right? YouTube gets to keep the content, and the labels get some income.

The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn’t pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn’t get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won’t let us be on your blog. And, voilá: four years after we posted our first homemade videos to YouTube and they spread across the globe faster than swine flu, making our bassist’s glasses recognizable to 70-year-olds in Wichita and 5-year-olds in Seoul and eventually turning a tidy little profit for EMI, we’re – unbelievably – stuck in the position of arguing with our own label about the merits of having our videos be easily shared. It’s like the world has gone backwards.

Let’s take a wider view for a second. What we’re really talking about here is the shift in the way we think about music. We’re stuck between two worlds: the world of ten years ago, where music was privately owned in discreet little chunks (CDs), and a new one that seems to be emerging, where music is universally publicly accessible. The thing is, only one of these worlds has a (somewhat) stable system in place for funding music and all of its associated nuts-and-bolts logistics, and, even if it were possible, none of us would willingly return to that world. Aside from the smug assholes who ran labels, who’d want a system where a handful of corporate overlords shove crap down our throats? All the same, if music is going to be more than a hobby, someone, literally, has to pay the piper. So we’ve got this ridiculous situation where the machinery of the old system is frantically trying to contort and reshape and rewire itself to run without actually selling music. It’s like a car trying to figure out how to run without gas, or a fish trying to learn to breath air.

So what’s there to do? On the macro level, well, who the hell knows? There are a lot of interesting ideas out there, but this is not the place to get into them. As for our specific roadblock with the video embedding, the obvious solution is for YouTube to work out its software so it allow labels to monetize their videos, wherever on the Internet or the globe they’re being accessed. That’ll surely happen before too long because there’s plenty of money to be made, but it’s more complicated than it looks at first glance. Advertisers aren’t too keen on paying for ads when they don’t know where the ads will appear (“Dear users of, try Gerber’s new low-lactose formula!”), so there are a lot of hurdles to get over.

In the meantime, the only thing OK Go can do is to upload our videos to sites that allow for embedding, like MySpace and Vimeo. We do that already, but it stings a little. Not only does it cannibalize our own numbers (it tends to do our business more good to get 40 million hits on one site than 1 million hits on 40 sites), but, as you can imagine, we feel a lot of allegiance to the fine people at YouTube. They’ve been good to us, and what they want is what we want: lots of people to see our videos. When push comes to shove, however, we like our fans more, which is why you can take the code at the bottom of this email and embed the “This Too Shall Pass” video all over the Internet.

With or without this embedding problem, we’ll never get 50 zillion views on a YouTube video again. That moment – the dawn of internet video – is gone. The internet isn’t as anarchic as it was then. Now there are Madison Avenue firms that specialize in “viral marketing” and the success of our videos is now taught in business school. But here’s a secret: zillions of hits was never the point. We’re a rock band, and it’s a great gig. Not just because we get to snort drugs off the Queen of England (we do), but because the only thing we are expected to do is make cool stuff. We chase our craziest ideas for a living, and if sharing those ideas takes 40 websites instead of one, it doesn’t make too big a difference to us.

So, for now, here’s the bottom line: EMI won’t let us let you embed our YouTube videos. It’s a decision that bums us out. We’ve argued with them a lot about it, but we also understand why they’re doing it. They’re aware that their rules make it harder for people to watch and share our videos, but, while our duty is to our music and our fans, theirs is to their shareholders, and they believe they’re doing the right thing.

Fiat 500 – how to do a compact car

Honda, take notes.

The Fiat 500 will make it’s way stateside thanks to Chrysler sucking and going under and being taken over by Fiat.

Because of this, they will be bringing some of their models over, including the awesome Fiat 500.

Check it, the car is smaller than a Mini, the Abarth version makes 135hp, and 42MPG.
And I think it looks cool.

It’s even the car of choice for Lupin III. How cool is that.

The cooler part is that they are planning a limited edition Lupin III edition for Japan.

And the Abarth.