Remastered PSP Games to Release on PS3

Sony Computer Entertainment announced the PSP Remaster series yesterday. Beginning in Japan, “blockbuster” PSP titles will see physical Blu-ray releases on the PS3. The games are being designed specifically for the PS3 and aren’t just straight ports of the PSP version. There are plans for other regions like the U.S. to get the games as well.

Throughout the system’s life, various PSP games have been ported to the PlayStation 2. Popular games like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters were later released for the PS2. Now that trend is evolving to the next generation.

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Backlash

Human beings have an interesting reaction to Things That Are Good. Instead of loving them and appreciating them for what they are, we tend towards finding flaws, looking at the things that don’t stick. We say we want something brilliant, but when something brilliant arrives, we pick holes in it and try to find something else even more brilliant.

When something is good, we tell ourselves that it sucks and that we shouldn’t appreciate it as much as we should.

There are hundreds of good examples of this. The most famous, in my book, is Led Zeppelin, easily the most timeless and gifted band of the 70’s, who the world decided it hated because they couldn’t stand to hear Stairway to Heaven another time. It’s what happened to Final Fantasy VII: Aeris dying was the most profound moment in video games, possibly ever, so we decided to tear it apart, decrying Cloud as a crybaby and Aeris’ death as a stupid incident of polygon on polygon violence.

Recently, we did it with Bioshock, a game of huge narrative importance, by slamming its narrative’s delivery through audio logs for not being immersive enough, and its Save/Kill mechanic for not being weighty enough. The most brilliant game of the decade, and we shat on it until it fell beneath other, lesser games. We did the same to Mass Effect 2 for not allowing you to play a full spectrum of character types, for having a solveable suicide mision. We slam Grand Theft Auto 4 for being dissonant despite having one of the best narratives of revenge in any medium.

In other words, we hate success. We hate that which is good because we can never be satisfied. And now we’re doing it again, with Portal 2.
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REVIEW: The Brink of a Genre, Worth Exploring

Stretching The Edges of a Genre

Brink was developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC. It was directed by Paul Wedgewood, Richard Ham, Olivier Leonardi, Chris Sweetman, Arnout van Meer, Richard Jolly and Stephen Gaffney. The Xbox360 copy was played for the purpose of this review following the day one patch released from developer Splash Damage.

Innovation rarely produces perfection, but it always brings something new to the table. Something on the brink of existing standards, stretching old rules with the new ideas it brings forward. Flipping on Brink for the first time, and watching it’s lengthy tutorial videos (10-30 minutes), you get the immediate sense that you are playing an ambitious shooter. Four classes, directly interdependent with one another, three distinct body types, and a plethora of weapons and abilities help shape the battlefield of Brink in a way that is rarely seen in this generation’s “run ‘n’ gun, lone-wolf” brand of first-person shooters. Brink’s team centric, objective-based battles are laden with a variety of fun opportunities, but they are also fraught with technical issues that will leave those with slow internet connections as well as eye-candy junkies disappointed. Visual issues frequently result in constant texture pop-in and online lag often interrupts the fast-paced flow of combat. Problems with the bot’s artificial intelligence in Brink can also be downright infuriating. There, is without a doubt, mountains of lasting fun to be had with Brink, however with all it’s innovation aside, it falls short of perfection.

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Interview With Eitanya

Garrus and Shepard

Have you ever wanted to cuddle up with your favorite character only to discover hugging the game box or dvd case is just uncomfortable and not very fullfilling? Then you need to drop Eitanya an e-mail. Her plush version of the fan-favorite character “Garrus” from BioWare’s Mass Effect series was first posted in Game Informer and then made its way around the web. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing her on the creative process and finding out why she started making soft and squishy versions of characters.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure thing. I’m 26 years old, currently living on the gorgeous Emerald Coast with my husband, my brand new baby girl, and one spoiled rotten dog. I work from home designing plush toys, hats, and doing whatever other random creative things strike my fancy. When I’m not playing video games, of course.

How did you get started making these plushes?
My husband is a huge fan of the Strider video game series. I wanted to get him something related to the series for his birthday a few years ago, but finding something Strider-related that he doesn’t already have is getting increasingly difficult. So I got it in my head to make him a plushie. Mind you I had never attempted anything even remotely like that, but hey, I’m all about panic-learning! After making a few simple ones for myself I managed to plushie-fy Hiryu and then it was all over. I was hooked.

What did you make before that first plush?
Before Hiryu? A poison rice ball from Tenchu, a small Weighted Companion Cube, and my first human plushie was Faith from Mirror’s Edge.

Do you have a favorite plush that you’ve made?
Oh that’s tough…probably Aphmau from Final Fantasy XI, I was really happy with how all the details turned out.

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Role-Playing Games as Embodying the Joy of Living

Pictured: the joy of living

Republished from The GameSavermy blog dealing with philosophical issues in the field of video games.

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Before beginning, I would like to acknowledge that the seeds of the ideas that ultimately led to this article were first planted in my mind when I read “Why I Like Stamp Collecting,” a 1971 essay in The Minkus Stamp Journal by Ayn Rand. I consider what follows merely my application to role-playing games of her original ideas on the philosophy of stamp collecting.

To start, consider just what a role-playing game is. I define an RPG as a game in which (1) character customization occurs, (2) there exist quests or missions that are freely chosen, and (3) non-linear character advancement of some kind is present. These features can vary immensely in scale.  Read the rest of this entry

Looking For Conspiracy In The Dream Machine

Just one disclaimer here: I don’t really play point and click adventure games. My only other experience with the genre is Machinarium. Also…major spoilers for the first chapter of The Dream Machine.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about The Dream Machine. While playing last weekend, I noticed something that struck me as odd about the way I was playing the game. After waking up from the deserted island dream, I found myself in the protagonist’s apartment. Looking around me, there were nothing but normal, ordinary objects: boxes, windows, cabinets, light switches, what have you. Nothing I would normally pay much mind to…except I was given the option to interact with the objects. Upon examination, I hardly ever found anything worthwhile and yet, there I was, in the next room, flipping another light switch on and off just to see if maybe THIS time, something would happen. Of course, nothing did. And yet once again, the next room, I found myself examining more mundane objects. Further: I was picking up items that had no immediate usefulness to me. Why was I doing this, why did I feel such a compulsion?

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El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Demo is as Awesome as its Title is Long

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is an action platformer whose visuals are reminiscent of Okami and whose gameplay is reminiscent of Devil May Cry. This is not surprising considering Sawaki Takeyasu, the art director for both, is the mastermind behind El Shaddai.


According to the official site, the main character, Enoch, is a scribe from heaven trying to prevent a great flood by capturing renegade, probably corrupted angels. Enoch narrates a bit to himself at the beginning, but the rest of the dialog of the demo is taken by an archangel named Lucifel (Lucifer), who speaks on the phone as you pass and is not afraid to break the fourth wall to introduce a boss to you (though you do not get to fight the boss in the demo). It is a rather Clover/Platinum Games-esque narrative, and considering their track record, I am one-hundred percent okay with this.

One can tell from the first playable moment that this game is some kind of art—the whole world looks like a negative, with black surrounding and a white protagonist surrounded by trees made of flame-like clouds or cloud-like flame. Take a few steps forward and a drawn face floats across the screen accompanied by a laughing voice. The world shifts and changes around the character and it never gets boring just to look at. I found myself wanting to rush forward just to see how the environment would shift or just to see what the next screen looked like, since despite the dark silhouette motif everything remains interesting to look at. The demo goes back and forth between 3D eight-way movement and 2D side-scrolling. Platforming exists in both, but the 3D scenes tend to be more combat-focused while the 2D were entirely jumping and moving. It is the side-scrolling segments in which the environment changes the most drastically, in some cases having swirling, wave-like clouds rise from the bottom of the screen to act as solid ground for platforming. It is nothing short of cool to look at, and makes the simple task of walking forward something more than just a way to get from one in-game event to the next. Few times during the demo did I find myself staring at a static world—there is almost always some kind of movement.

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Los Angeles Confidential (L.A. Noire Game Diary) – Prologue

Prologue

It was another hot summer in L.A., and I could feel the heat from the pavement seeping in through my stained walls. It had been a while since I last had a case to work on, not enough women with missing jewelry or dirt bag husbands to investigate I guess. I lean back in my chair, the creak moaning off of the walls like a man dying, taking another sip of my glass of Bourbon. I was going crazy without work, I may have turn to some form of menial work to make money at this point. But, fortunately for me, ask and ye shall receive.

Loud foot steps rang off of the walls in the hallway outside of my office, they were sharp: stilettos, six-inches, 135 pounds, 5’5″, walks with a swagger. Trouble. Women are always trouble, especially the ones who end up approaching me in my line of work. A shadow appears in the window of my door, and I slowly sit up to prepare for probably one of the most interesting cases I’d ever take. The door knob turned slowly, and the door pushed open. There she was, the blonde bombshell of the century: blue eyes, elegant facial features, red lip stick, light blush, slender figure, black dress with a fur shawl over her shoulders, and an attitude in the sway of her hips as she walked. Like I said:

Trouble.

“Are you detective Passley?” She asked in a seductive voice.

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The Liberation of: Mass Effect


This article was originally posted on The GameSaver, an Objectivist blog I run dealing with philosophy and how it is destroying, and can save, video games. The title of this piece refers to the fact that I, the GameSaver, liberate games by revealing the philosophy hidden underneath. This Liberation begins with a tripartite breakdown, and continues with an essay-style explication and elaboration of that basic breakdown.

The breakdown will consist of (1) the philosophical essence, (2) the theme, and (3) the plot of the game. The “philosophical essence” is the philosophical core of the game, or a brief description of the game’s integration of theme and plot. The “theme” is the abstract idea that dominates and integrates the various parts of the work. The “plot” is the physical, concrete series of actions that takes place in the story and is the content from which the theme is derived.

One more thing: any words that are also links are explained by me somewhere in the text of the blog post, so there is no need to interrupt yourself while reading just to figure out what I am talking about. They are there just in case you are interested in reading more on your own.

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Mass Effect

The Philosophical EssenceAn abstract battle between Hobbesian personal subjectivism (Renegade) and Kantian social subjectivism (Paragon) played out in the concrete form of Hobbes’s “state of nature” versus the “Leviathan” (or Sovereign).

The Theme: The destructiveness of an individual mind’s control of reality, and the benevolence of collective control.

The Plot: Saren and the Reapers (representing personal subjectivism) attempt to impose their will and evaluation of truth on the galaxy, while the diverse, multi-species civilization that inhabits it (representing social subjectivism) fights back by sending Shepard (representing the player’s preference, through his choices) to stop them. Read the rest of this entry

This Terrarian Life

Death is a concept any living being is familiar with. One day your body will cease to function and that is the end of your mortal coil. Then whatever afterlife you believe in kicks in. In gaming, however, no one ever really dies. Permanent death is an alien concept to developers and players alike. Think back to the last time you played a game that involved permanent death–and running out of lives doesn’t count. I personally struggle to come up with more than a handful of examples. Most games use the fear of character death as the primary driving motivation for players. The fear of having to start over, or losing items or money makes players try. However death isn’t permanent and all you have to do is wait a bit and you can be right back in the action again. And usually you can recover what it is that you have lost in the process, totally nullifying the consequences. Players have grown up expecting a respawn or multiple lives in every game, a redo for every mistake. No matter how many times a monster kills you, if it doesn’t instil fear then somewhere the monster has failed. So I’ve decided to partake in an experiment where I play through Terraria with a single life–no respawns, redos, nothing like that. One life, that’s it. I want to put the fear of death back into gaming.

Teraria allows a player to respawn any number of times for a slight monetary loss. Death is more of an annoyance than the great equalizer that we all know it to be in real life. In Terraria, we fight monsters to keep ourselves from dying, and we build fortresses to give us safe places to hide from them. With death being such a minor event I sometimes found myself not caring if I lived or died, though. Ultimately we fight for survival which is the primary goal of Terraria. Survive long enough to get better equipment and then use that equipment to survive even better.

The self imposed rule of only one life will require that I study my environment, that I respect the creatures and the natural landscape. A more ‘scientific’ approach favoring observation and knowledge. The permadeath approach makes my survival paramount and makes me less inclined to embark on a careless genocidal spree. Under these circumstances, I expect that flight over fight will sometimes be the correct choice. Thus, hopefully this will be the start of a small series of articles to better understand the behavior of the monsters and the ecology of Terraria.
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