Bio: Michael Beckett

Michael "CactuarJoe" Beckett
Greetings one and all! My name's Michael Beckett, a reviewer at this fine establishment. We hope to bring you the very finest in RPG-centric coverage, so hang out for a while. Leave a few comments, maybe visit us on IRC, shout at us a bit if you like.

And now the serious bit: It's my opinion that video games, and RPGs in particular, have the potential to become one of the strongest artistic mediums available. As a reviewer, I try to look at RPGs from an artistic as well as a gameplay standpoint. I look at how well a game's parts fit together, and how these parts contribute to an overall message or feel to the game. Of course, you'll also get information about game mechanics and the basic elements of the game - a review is useless if it doesn't provide information, after all.

Besides being a reviewer, I devour books and anime, and dabble a bit in art. My favorite movies are Tokyo Godfathers, 12 Angry Men, and Farenheit 451. As for games, I'm a big fan of the Shin Megami Tensei and Katamari Damacy series, although training Pokemon tends to eat up most of my free time.

Anyway, that's all from me. Enjoy your stay. ^^

Posts by Michael Beckett

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Kingdom Hearts 3 Goes for Next Gen Consoles

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by | Posted in E3, Game News

Square Enix has announced that the long-awaited #3 in the Kingdom Hearts series would be heading to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is said to feature a more mature Sora as the protagonist, alongside Donald and Goofy as they visit a slew of new Disney worlds. No release date was given, though the game is said to be in development at Square Enix’s Osaka studio.

Final Fantasy XIV Heading to the PS4

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by | Posted in E3, Game News

During their press conference last night, Sony announced that Final Fantasy XIV would be heading to the PlayStation 4. Alas, we have no release date as of yet.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII’s Long Trail Takes a New Turn

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by | Posted in E3, Game News

The long-running saga of Final Fantasy Versus XIII took another unusual turn last night during Sony’s E3 press conference. It seems VsXIII will become Final Fantasy XV and move from the PlayStation 3 to its successor. SE later said that the game would also see release on the Xbox One, with producer Shinji Hashimoto saying that the game will be developed with DirectX 11, allowing for easy porting.

Elder Scrolls Online Heads to Next Gen Consoles

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by | Posted in E3, Game News

Bethseda Softworks announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Spring 2014 in addition to the PC and Mac versions. They’ll be doing an exclusive Beta run on PS4, though a date for this was not announced.

Nintendo of America Confirms Fire Emblem 3DS for North America

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

On the heels of its 3DS conference this evening, Nintendo of America has revealed through its Twitter feed that Fire Emblem 3DS will be seeing a North American release. Unfortunately, no other details about its release were discussed.

Theatrhythm not Final Fantasy Specific, Says Hazama

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

The producer of Square Enix’s 1st Production Department, Ichiro Hazama, said that he would like to see the Theatrythm series expand beyond Final Fantasy.

Speaking with Joystiq, Mr. Hazama said, “Our company has so many other IPs that create great music, so if you ask if I want to do it? I want to do it, but nothing is determined yet.” He went on to say that it was his intention that the series should expand to other Square Enix IPs, which is why the Theatrhythm title comes before Final Fantasy.

Theatrythm: Final Fantasy is currently slated for a July 3rd release date in North America.

Source: Joystiq

Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers to Include Shin Megami Tensei 4 Trailer

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

In an article  in this month’s Famitsu, it was revealed that the first trailer for Shin Megami Tensei 4 will be packaged with the upcoming Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, which currently has a Japanese release date of August 30th.

Source: Andriasang

Skyrim’s First DLC Tentatively Dated

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

According to Bethseda’s Tom Howard, Dawnguard, the first DLC package for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is tentatively scheduled for June 26th. Mr. Howard stated that the DLC would be released, “assuming nothing goes wrong.”

Source: Joystiq

Persona 4 Arena Sees DLC, Dual Language, and a Trailer

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

The folks at Atlus have been cranking out updates for us on the subject of Persona 4 Arena. For a start, it has been confirmed on Atlus’s official Twitter feed that the game would have a dual audio option, allowing players to choose between English or Japanese voice tracks. There’s also a super fancy trailer over at their YouTube feed, which features a rundown of a few of the available characters and some snippets of English voice work.

And finally, over at Andriasang we have the news that Persona 4 Arena will have both paid DLC and content that can be unlocked in the normal course of gameplay. Some examples given were: alternate character colors, different glasses, and new things for the announcer to shout at the beginning of a round. Unfortunately, it wasn’t made clear which of these elements were DLC and which were unlockables.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star Coming to 3DS

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

As part of its press conference this morning, Nintendo announced a new Paper Mario game for the 3DS. The game has Mario using stickers that are found in the environment as battle commands. The player can even peel back parts of the landscape to find new objects.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star also received a general release date of “this holiday season” at the press conference.

Mass Effect 3 to Appear on Nintendo’s Wii U

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

Nintendo’s press conference this morning held an unexpected announcement buried in a video montage; it seems that Mass Effect 3 will be appearing on Nintendo’s new Wii U console. Bioware confirmed on its Twitter feed that ME3 would be available for the console at launch.

Code of Princess to See Western Shores

Monday, June 4th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

Atlus says it’s bringing over the RPG-brawler hybrid Code of Princess from Japan sometime this Fall. In fact, they’ve already got preorder bonuses lined up; a “sound and visual book,” though they didn’t specify which retail outlet the bonus would be available from.

Source: Joystiq

Fable: The Journey Gets a General Release Date

Monday, June 4th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

The next entry in the Fable series got a bit closer to the light of day today. Microsoft says that this Kinect-exclusive title will be released in Fall 2012. They also mentioned that The Journey is a stand-alone title, with no relation to the mainline series.

South Park: the Stick of Truth Dated

Monday, June 4th, 2012 by | Posted in E3, Game News

The new South Park RPG entitled The Stick of Truth got a release date at the Microsoft press conference earlier today. THQ and Obsidian will be shipping the little bugger out on March 5th, 2013.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Staff Review #2

Friday, April 13th, 2012 by | Posted in Action RPG Reviews, Reviews, X360 Reviews

One of the highest-praised games of recent years, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a great deal going for it. With an enormous seamless world to explore and a highly flexible character development system, Skyrim is exceptionally easy to get lost in, with some of the most engaging role playing RPG fans have seen in a long time. On the whole, Skyrim deserves a great deal of the praise that has been heaped at its feet, but there are a few hitches in its design that are worth stating. Skyrim has a bit of awkward fumbling in its menu layout and a bit of difficulty with overly compartmentalized storytelling, as well as a troubling lack of subtlety in its art direction and a fair number of bugs and glitches even this far out of release. Ultimately, however, Skyrim’s vast and detailed world gives it an uncommonly broad appeal. (more…)

BioWare Announces ME3 Ending Patch

Thursday, April 5th, 2012 by | Posted in Game News

BioWare sent out a press release today detailing how the developer would be handling changes to Mass Effect 3 in response to mounting dissatisfaction among fans regarding the game’s ending.

BioWare will be releasing these changes in the form of a free DLC patch for the game, to be called Extended Cut. The company stated that the DLC would provide “additional context and deeper insight to the conclusion of Commander Shepard’s journey,” adding additional cinematics and epilogue scenes to the game.

The press release went on to state that BioWare remains committed to and proud of “the artistic choices we made in the main game,” saying that they strongly believe in the development team’s vision for the end of the series.  The purpose of Extended Cut, they say, will be to offer greater context, rather than to alter Mass Effect 3‘s ending.

Extended Cut is scheduled for a release sometime this summer.

The 3rd Birthday – Staff Review

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by | Posted in Action RPG Reviews, PSP Reviews, Reviews

Long feared to be a dead series, the announcement of The 3rd Birthday caused no small amount of surprise and delight amongst fans of Parasite Eve. Unfortunately, the finished product cannot be said to have the same effect. Featuring an overcomplicated mess of a plot, suicidal AI, and an actively hateful interface, The 3rd Birthday has fundamental issues that really prevent it from being enjoyable. There are some good points, of course: the game is great at creating a sense of tension, has a huge amount of replay value, and it presents some unique ideas in gameplay. It’s unfortunate that these ideas are buried under the weight of the game’s less player-friendly elements, to the point where it becomes difficult to recommend The 3rd Birthday even to fans of the series. (more…)

Fallout: New Vegas – Staff Review #3

Thursday, August 4th, 2011 by | Posted in Action RPG Reviews, Reviews, X360 Reviews

With the release of Fallout: New Vegas, it seems Bethseda is trying answer what fans wanted when Fallout 3 was released: a setting familiar to long-time fans featuring established factions and dozens of callbacks to Fallout 1 and 2. On a more fundamental level, Fallout: New Vegas builds on its predecessor in a number of ways, from basic improvements to game mechanics to a far more twisty, open-ended plotline, but it also has a number of unique issues. Even this far from release, New Vegas has bugs that range from the annoying (frequent freezing) to the catastrophic (quest failure), and has a few issues in setting and art direction left over from earlier Fallout games. Taken as a whole, New Vegas is an extremely enjoyable experience, but as so many have said so frequently of this series, it could really have used better bug testing. (more…)

Editorial – The Elephant in the Review

Friday, July 1st, 2011 by | Posted in Editorials

The idea that unless a game is truly monstrous, professional video game critics will score a game somewhere between seven and ten out of ten is a well-recognized and much maligned part of the gaming landscape. Many gamers accept that, one way or another, scoring is bunk. As a result, there is a widespread mistrust of video game reviews, a general acceptance that critics in general are more PR guys than writers, and an understanding that popularity will almost always equal a high score. Unfortunately, in many cases, these assumptions are all too valid. However, it may be helpful to take a look at the relationship between publishers, public relations firms, and gaming publications, so that we can see some of the reasons why things are the way they are. (more…)

Editorial – E3: Where Are the RPGs?

Friday, June 10th, 2011 by | Posted in E3, Editorials

With E3 winding down, it tends to be the tradition of gaming news outlets to look back at the show, to reflect on megaton announcements and deride the goof ups and failings. Though this year had its share of both — like many, I fear I may be seeing Mr. Caffeine in my nightmares for a long time to come — it displayed a disturbing lack of the one thing our readers had been most anticipating: Role-playing games. (more…)