Blog Archives

Right in Front of Your Face

Elitism still is the big divide. It’s the biggest obstacle facing games today. Elitism is the belief that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views are the only ones that matter.

We are that elite.

Many of my friends resented when Nintendo positioned itself as a beacon to attract non-gamers (including some of my non-gamer friends, interestingly enough). Now, after piling them with shovelware for years, we see our dusted Wiis and state “The Wii Is Dead” in a dismissive tone that implies “See, we were right all along. You shouldn’t have abandoned us. We are the ones that get it, not them”.

Because (OMG!) gaming is art. And we are (obviously) the only ones who can see it.
Some pieces of art are difficult to understand or appreciate. That’s why the elite is the elite; and have Bach playing on the background as they discuss the peasant situation. The thing is that while there is only schooling and experience in the way of turning the Average Joe into H. E. Pennypacker, for gaming there is also the issue of skill. How can grandpa even start to appreciate games when just comprehending the controls is bound to take more spasmodic accidents than his patience and time could afford?

Yes, folks, this is my Omnitopic entry!

No matter how unapproachable a book or a movie may be, one can always get through it. The same is not true for gaming, as the skills it requires are primarily related to manual dexterity – which is not a trivial thing to acquire. It’s mostly an aptitude after all. Gaming is built on progression and not matter whether this progression if linear or open ended, the plot is not. One cannot skip to world 8-8 if one cannot even pass world 1-1 (and the first warp zone is hidden in the world 1-2, mind you). This is troublesome. It’s like buying a movie without knowing how to read it.

I find this unfair, especially now games are maturing into a narrative driven medium. Read the rest of this entry

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Xenoblade Confirmed?

It’s been one of the great shames of the Wii that so many Japanese titles have languished as overseas only games while America gets Barbie Horse Adventures and Wii Play 2 instead. Titles like Mistwalker’s The Last Story and Fatal Frame 4 and Monolith’s Xenoblade have been stuck in Japan with Nintendo loathe to confirm or deny any effort is being made to bring these core titles to the States.

(Well, we all know Fatal Frame 4 is dead; just wanted some historical context.)

Things are looking good for Xenoblade, though; video games super sleuth Jim Sterling has unearthed an unlikely confirmation in the form of Peter Dickson (also known as “Some Guy”) saying he’ll be providing voice over work for the game. The game had already been confirmed, stealthily, for Europe, and this just adds credence to the idea that Nintendo is waiting to bust out Xenoblade and The Last Story at E3.

The only downside to this news is that it’s supposed to be a Fall release. Which means it’s going up against Skyrim, Skyward Sword, Deus Ex 3, Torchlight 2, Mass Effect 3, and potentially a new Nintendo console *and* Diablo 3. Which means it’s being sent out to die a slow, painful death, convincing Nintendo that there’s no market for third party hardcore games on the Wii. Which is bullshit: there’s very little market for non triple A releases when there are literally a half dozen 40+ hour adventures coming out in the span of three months.

But let’s not be too pessimistic. Xenoblade, everyone! Japan might be back!

Weekly Gaming News And Articles Collection Week of April 17th – 23rd

Hey all!

So, this is my first post and figured I’d start with a collection of some of the more prevalent news that’s come around this week so ya’ll can catch up if you’ve been working for the weekend and haven’t had a lot of time to check up on the news! My first review will be appearing on here later on, but until then, enjoy!


Playstation Network Is Down! Everyone Keep Calm!

So first of all, those of us with PS3’s (myself included) know what’s been going on since Wednesday. PSN outtage! And its been down for quite a while! It’s Saturday now, officially by the freckle on my arm anyways, and it’s still down! Reports have been coming in from various sources, but so far, the official word from the Playstation Blog is that they believe this whole event was caused by an outside intrusion–a hacker, perhaps. Some people say Anonymous is behind it, but hell, that’s more speculation and unfounded conspiracy rumors that I just don’t feel like getting into. Hit the link for all the deets!

Read the rest of this entry

The Last Story and the return of Japan only

Anyone whose followed video games in the past few weeks knows about the Last Story. It’s being developed by Mistwalker, the company founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi once he jumped ship from Square Enix in the early/mid 2000’s, and has released some relatively passable JRPGs, most notably Lost Odyssey (oh, and Blue Dragon, which Fern didn’t like very much). They’re good guys, and The Last Story looks to be a game following through on a lot of good ideas about how to fix the JRPG. Hell, I think it’s so cool, I covered it before it was cool.

The question, of course, is American release. Which is no longer a given. It became that way because of a related, but different, title, Xenoblade.
Read the rest of this entry

Check Out Some of DK Return’s Tunes

Hyped for the return of Donkey Kong? Well, here are some samples of the DKR soundtrack, featuring both remix and new tracks alike. First, we have what is probably the most iconic song, in remix form:

 

Remember Cranky’s theme? Of course you don’t! Back in my day we had to walk fifteen miles to remember this track!

Seems like the composers are running high on the nostalgia factor, but hey, it is DK’s return. If you’re interested in hearing a couple of the new tracks, make sure to head on over to Nintendo Everything, who has a couple more tracks for your listening pleasure.

I’m just crossing my fingers that the DK rap finds its way into the game. Yeah, it’s pretty much the worst song ever, but that’s why it needs to be in the game!

Super Meat Boy Review

For the past couple of days, my reality has consisted of nothing but blood curdling shrieks. You see, I’m currently trapped in a nightmare. This terrible nightmare has a name–Super Meat Boy. Fun fact: Super Meat Boy is the devil. Hell, Super Meat Boy is perhaps the most infuriating title I’ve played all year. I can’t recall the last time I was this angry at a video game.

Yes, Super Meat Boy is the devil…but I can’t stop playing it.

The premise of the little monster is simple: Dr. Fetus is a dick. And true to form, he’s stolen your love interest, Bandage Girl. I’m sure this sounds familiar to some of you (incidentally the acronym is the same as Super Mario Bros). And, like Mario, I sincerely believe that Meat Boy deserves to be considered for a spot under “generation classic.” A bold claim which will need to be revisited at a later date, but one currently held with real conviction.

I can spend a long time detailing the aspects of SMB which exude the feeling of a classic title–from the retro chiptune soundtrack, to the inclusion of warp zones that teleport Meat Boy to homages to classic gaming consoles. Meat Boy himself oozes charm, thanks to the wonderfully gooey sound effects, his expressions, and his dashing animations. Even the “supporting cast” of Dr. Fetus and Bandage girl are precocious, in their own way (and isn’t the idea of a fetus as a villain amazing in of itself?), but none of this is what makes SMB stand out. Sure, it’s a love letter to old-school platformers, but what really makes SMB superb is the incredibly deliberate design. SMB stands strong on its core design without any of the “features” bloating modern titles. And it’s all the more bold, outstanding of a title for it. Team Meat knows, well, where the meat of the gameplay is.

Meat Boy must run, dash, jump and wall jump at high speeds–nothing new, as far as platforming mechanics go–across worlds designed to be microcosms for your own personal hell. These actions are all governed by simple controls which follow the ‘simple to pick up, difficult to master’ paradigm. The thing about the game is, Team Meat knows where you want to hide your family heirlooms, your children, and your dignity. But I will tell you right now: there is no escape. The only way to come out alive is to have the precision of a madman. Have I mentioned there are no checkpoints in any of the levels? Because there aren’t. Hence, the need for near perfection. Don’t take this to mean that SMB requires specific precision–levels aren’t (always) linear, and can often be approached in a number of ways. Some of the more creative approaches require nerves and reflexes of steel, though. In my current playthrough, I’ve died over two thousand times. Normally, that sort of death count would cause me to give up playing a game, but while each death brings me a little closer to heart attack, it strengthens my resolve to beat the level.

Read the rest of this entry

NO MORE HEROES 2: DESPERATE STRUGGLE – Review

NO MORE HEROES 2: DESPERATE STRUGGLE is a videogame developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, published by Ubisoft (North America), Rising Star Games (Europe) and Marvelous Entertainment/Spike (Japan) for the Nintendo Wii. It was directed by NOBUTAKA ICHIKI.

George Carlin noted that anybody who drives slower than you is an idiot, and anybody going faster than you is a maniac. Well, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle must have been going at a pretty high speed, because I’m still here shaking my fist in anger. Make no mistake: Desperate Struggle is schlock. Not only because the game couldn’t live up to its predecessor, but also because of its nature. Sure, it is manic, bipolar, occasionally funny and always perverted; but it’s also superfluous, trivial and artificial. If the first No More Heroes was the new Mega ManNo More Heroes 2 is the new Mega Man 8.

Desperate Struggle gives the impression it was born from an Excel file. Nobutaka Ichiti, instead of trying to come up with any kind of vision for the sequel, must have simply created two lists after analyzing the original No More Heroes: one list with the points that received praise and another with the game’s shortcomings. After that, like a true scientist, the man simply removed all the opportunities for failures and proceeded to fit the good bits into a new and more streamlined game. The jigsaw pieces were all jammed in there and they seem to fit alright – but they don’t form the right picture. If the machines that wrote books in George Orwell’s 1984 ever started making games, No More Heroes 2 would be one of those games. Read the rest of this entry

Metroid: Other M Live Action Trailer

Gotta say, that’s a spot-on depiction of Zero Suit Samus–almost ridiculously so. Fans will undoubtedly be taken aback by the voicing, though. Overall, I’m still a sucker for live-action trailers so this looks downright sexy to me.

Watch 5 Minutes of Goldeneye Wii Gameplay

You’ll get to see the great briefing UI, Daniel Craig as 007, your partner, 006, improved graphics, as well as see familiar but tweaked level design. Plus many, many Russian accents. And a cover system to boot! It’s a modern game, alright.

New Epic Mickey Gameplay Footage Shows Platforming, Combat

Fresh off the rack folks, take a look at what a couple of 2D platforming and one 3D level look/play like in the upcoming Wii exclusive, Epic Mickey. The first level shown ain’t much to look at, but the game starts to shine in the second level shown–take a look!