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Content ID matching is a topic that I haven't keep up on, but know it's been around for a while. Basically, it's something that YouTube does to YouTubers who make income via advertisements on videos that contain content held by copyright owners. Instead of taking the videos down, they redirect any ad revenue generated away from the content producer and to the copyright holder. So, anyone who makes a Let's Play video and received income from the ads now loses it to the publisher, provided they claim it. Nintendo has now laid claims.
Personally, I feel Let's Players should be left alone. I don't think copyright law particularly applies to this situation, as I see it differnently than animated music videos or recut films. For a song artist, they can potentially lose a sale of their song because someone can hear it off of YouTube. For a movie, someone can watch it off YouTube. For a game... you can't really play a game off of YouTube. And honestly, if someone just wants to see the game played without playing, they're still not going to buy the game, regardless if the LPer gets ad revenue or not.
Let's Plays are valuable sources of information. Not only do they demonstrate a game being played to help out a person struggling through a specific level, but it's also a resource that a consumer can use if they're researching a potential purchase. Stealing away an LPer's income source for making these videos is akin to charging writers for reviewing their games, or for writing FAQs and strategy guides.
Should Major League Gamers be charged for training on a publisher's video game? Should a portion of the prize money be allocated to, say, Capcom because someone won a tournament playing Street Fighter X Tekken? Now, I know what you're thinking. "No, because they're sponsored." or "No, because it's promotional; they're advertising the game." Well, Let's Players are also promoting these publishers' games. The publishers don't have to pay these YouTubers to talk about their games, but instead are stealing their income for doing so. This is like CBS signing over checks to Square-Enix every time a GameSpot employee talks about Tomb Raider.
Here's an interesting thought. Why not Sony charge whoever plays the game that's being shared to them over the PS4? Why should some guy on the other side of the country be able to play someone else's game for free? "That's unfair!" Right, and so is taking ad revenue from LPers, who BOUGHT the game in the first place! And in case you don't want to read the article I linked, I'll just pluck a quote out of it.
"Theyre [Let's Plays] a great form of advertising and sadly, the way Nintendo is punishing people for playing their titles is going to do more harm than good, when it comes to exposure for their games. YouTube personalities will be less inclined to make lets play series based on Nintendo games since they get no revenue, which decreases exposure. Word of mouth exposure has always been one of the most premium forms of advertising for games."
Exactly. The only difference is that these LPers are making a few dollars doing it. They're taking time out of their day to spend playing YOUR game, which they BOUGHT, and spreading the word. If you as a publisher are really bothered by that, then how about you pay them instead? You didn't play the game for them, so how dare you take away what they earned?
I know this is a grey area, and I can see exactly how copyright law would apply to these situations, but that doesn't mean I think it's right. I don't like the way it works, and I think it needs to be reformed. It also sucks for me personally, because I was thinking about doing this in the future. Now, not so much. If I really have to agree with this copyright law, then I figure I how about 100 different publishing houses money, because I earn a living shelving their books in my library.
Bonus Content: Rich's take on Nintendo's claims.
Before I begin, please take a few minutes and watch this. If you've already seen this, please then advance, or if you don't want to watch, please skip to the quote, because that's really all you need to know.
"You paid up to 60 dollars for a game; you should have some option to experience all the content. ... If you paid for content, do you not have the right to all the content you bought? What if books spontaneously combusted if you didn't understand certain words, or movies refused to unpause until you took a quiz to prove you knew who all the characters were?"
What brings this blog about is my current experience with the first Fire Emblem I'm playing for the GBA. 10 years later, the series FINALLY gets a casual option that turns off permadeath and allows you to save anywhere. Why, oh why, did it take 10 years for that to happen?
"But... but... permadeath makes you think harder about where you're moving your guys!"
Sure, it does. What I don't enjoy, however, is the random death that can happen to even the smartest of people. For instance, that sorceress hidden under the fog of war that can reach out 10 blocks and vaporize your character because she scores a critical on you? How about your knight, who never should have missed, misses and the swordsman with the Killing Edge, who never should have hit you, hits you with two criticals in a row? Or how about you execute a perfectly laid out plan only for it to become a clusterfvck because the game spawns 10 new enemies you weren't ready for?
Of course, part of this frustration is my fault as I'm somewhat of a perfectionist. I cannot accept losing a single character, so if I lose one, I have to start the mission over. Even if I've spent 45 minutes and about to finish the chapter but lose a guy to the boss, I will start it over. Even if I lose a character I don't use, I will start it over. It would have been nice had someone 10 years ago realized that not everyone who plays Fire Emblem truly appreciates this so called "difficulty". The game isn't that hard for me, more as it's just a time waster. I will still end up beating the game; it's just going to take me longer.
And that's the thing. I don't have as much time as I used to have. I found myself with more games coming out this generation that I want to play, but I haven't gotten to yet. Again, it's sort of my fault for adding more pressure to my hobby, because I've decided to focus on my backlog of games. Every time I view a loss in Fire Emblem, I think of how much extra time I have to spend on it it when I could be applying that time to a different game.
Now, this goes back to the argument of hardcore vs casual where the "true" fans don't want to see easier options to make the game appeal more to the casuals. If you watched the video, then Jim has debated that point far better than I could have done. The thing is, you still get your hardcore experience, and the casuals get their casual experience. If a "noob" beats the game, why does that bother you? YOU beat it on a Ultra Mega Super Hardcore Of Which Makes Me a Bad Ass Mother Fvcker mode. Pat yourself on the back.
But honestly, Jim's point about paying money for a game and not being able to enjoy it because it's too hard is a great freaking point. This is entertainment, and this particular medium - video games - is all about fun. What happens when someone of a lesser skill level gets frustrated with the game? That fun decreases. Not finishing a game you paid for is like not finishing a tasty steak or tofu burger if you're a veg; it's a waste of money. So, I'm glad there's an Easy mode in Dark Souls; I'm glad there's a casual difficulty in Fire Emblem: Awakening. It means more people are able to experience those games in their entirety.
In fact, I'm almost tempted to say that microtransactions are a good thing, which would contradict something that I'm adamant against, but I understand more now why companies put them in. They want to attract more people, the less skilled or the more impatient players, who can unlock things at the ready - for a cost - so they can skip through all the bullshyte that the rest of us go through to really enjoy our games. Of course, Dead Space 3's a bad example of this, because they redesigned their upgrade system specifically for microtransactions, and I won't play it because of it. I still view microtransactions as capitalizing on the less skilled and more impatient gamers, but at least they have the option to breeze through the game at their leisure.
This isn't just about difficulty, though. I also think that every game needs a subtitle option for the hearing impaired (most already do). I think there should be more lefthanded controllers and handheld consoles. I think there should be standard options to save wherever you want, even in the middle of a cutscene, because you never know when something comes up. You can always pause a movie or bookmark a book; why can't you do that with video games? I would also love to play a Rockstar game that allows for more tha one save slot, because I may not be the only one in the household interested in playing it. And I always want to see an option to play as a character that you yourself want to see. If it doesn't make sense within the game's story, at least you have the option to make it nonsensical.
Of course, we can't change the fact that vampires sparkle in Twilight. We can't write in more meaningful dialogue and character development into a Michael Bay movie. We can't put more zombies in Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride Prejudice and Zombies. This is where games differ from movies and books. Yes, we pay money for movies and books, and everyone who starts them can finish them. That isn't the case with games, and that's not how it's supposed to be. Since many games have shown that you can customize certain features, you can actually have a better experience than the game maker originally intended. So, instead of making optional options an option, let's instead make them a standard.
So, on my journey to finally get some old games that I've owned finished, I come to Fire Emblem. I started it back on the Game Boy Advance back in 2003, and now 10 laters later, I'm returning to it. As it turns out, I stopped at Chapter 15. If I stopped because it proved to be too hard or I got distracted with another game, I'm not sure. I do know why, though, that it took me so long to return to it. Gameplay wise, I hate it. No, seriously, I can't stand it.
I love strategy based RPGs. My favorite series of this genre so far has been Disgaea, closely followed by Final Fantasy Tactics. I have two reasons why I strongly dislike Fire Emblem, though, and the first has to do with the fact that characters do not return once they're killed in battle. I understand why this is, because it forces you to be extremely careful, but the unfortunate downside to this kind of play style is that battles tend to drag out. Instead of you overwhelming the opposing forces by sacraficing your men, you have to stay back and let the enemy wear themselves out on your strongest players.
The second reason why I dislike this series is limited use weapons and item management systems. For several chapters, you are stuck having to waste turns trading items and equipment among your units. You only only get money every four or so chapters, and you have to wait for a level that has venders and armories to stock up. I have yet to run into any problems with equipping my guys, but I hate knowing the fact that you can render a unit useless by having them run out of weapons. It's an antiquated system, and I sincerely hope the series doesn't continue its usage with its laters titles.
Those two issues aside, I am having fun with the game. I love it when my characters attack twice in a row, and I love how enemies try to hit me through forests and mountains and I just sidestep and counterattack, killing them on their turn and not mine. I like the story, and I think the writing is excellent. I definitely enjoy the way they use older style wording. I'm currently on Chapter 11, I believe, so I've finished Lyn's story, and forgot entirely how the chapters worked. I look forward to experiencing Eliwood's story next.
Now, this game has brought painful memories to the forefront due in part to another Intelligent Systems game Advance Wars. I never finished that game either, mainly due to the fact that the game kicked my ass. The final level seriously turned me off on the game. I pray that Fire Emblem does not have a frustratingly difficult final level, because I hate spending 30-40 minutes on a mission only to lose and start all over again from the beginning. I think the next Fire Emblem game I have is Sacred Stones but I don't think I'll start that one right away. I have a feeling I'll need a break from the series after I finish this game.
Oh, how I've tried to finish you. I started you once when I first played you back on the Super Nintendo, but got suck in one of the crystal dungeons in the Dark World. I tried you again when I purchased you on the Game Boy Advance, but got distracted and moved on to other games. Now that you have a sequel inbound on the 3DS, I'm getting the call to try you again. This time, I WILL finish you!
And I forgot how hard this game is. I mean, it's not that it's hard, it's just I have to get used to the thing all over again. It's so easy to get hit by the jerkish movements and the weird attack angles of Link's sword. I've died more times during the first dungeon than I think I ever did in a 3D Zelda game... Damn, I'm rusty. Anyway, this game brings back a lot of memories, most particularly the music which is still classic. I just finished the first dungeon and got the Pendant of Courage, and I can't wait to move on to the next.
I'm playing it on my old DS Phat, because like an idiot, I got rid of my DS Lite. I loved that thing. Anyway, I decided to get this beauty as well.
It's the Ice Blue Japanese version, and I opted for this one as it was selling for 99 versus 129 that the rest of the models were going for. Anyway, I forgot that this title doesn't sleep when you close the system. You have to actually pause the game and select the Sleep option, and then you need to hold both shoulder buttons and the select button to get it out of sleep. Took a bit of getting used.
Back to the game, I still remember loads of it, like getting the flippers from the Zoras so that I could swim the waters. I also remember the worm boss, the same one shown in the new Link to the Past, and I remember some puzzles really stumping me, especially a couple in the crystal dungeons. Not looking forward to revisiting those. Maybe they won't be so hard, maybe they'll be harder?
Also, I'm really glad gameplay has evolved since Link to the Past, because only have one button for a tool really sucks. I'm always swapping the boomerang out for the lantern or the bombs or the arrows. I also forgot just how useless the map for the dungeons was. And yes, I did try to attack the chickens to see if they'd bombard me again. So yeah, really looking forward to actually playing this game through completion this time around. Embarassed that I still haven't..
By now, everyone's heard Nintendo won't be holding a major E3 press conference.
But that won't mean they won't be at E3 at all. They will still hold two events on the morning of E3's first day of Tuesday, June 11th. These meetings will be closed-door, meaning we the general public won't get to see what Nintendo will be showing off the moment they're unveiling it. We'll need to wait for press attendees to publish their videos and articles so that we can learn what was shown.
I will be honest, this feels very weird. I've always watched what I called the Big 5: Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and of course Nintendo. Not seeing them on the big stage seems like a gaping hole. As much as I've grown tired of Iwata and Reggie, I'll still miss them. E3 had a lot of historic moments for Nintendo. They announced the Revolution as the Wii. They made every single preson jealous of envy of the attendees when girls passed through the audience with playable 3DSs. They confused everyone with the Wii U, while at the same time garnering applause for trying something different yet again.
Then of course, there are the game announcements. With the Wii U in a death stall, everyone was relying on this year's E3 to really get the ball rolling again for Nintendo. We'll still get the game announcements, if Nintendo still has any surprises up their sleeves. We just won't be getting them in the same fashion that we usually have.
Nintendo began doing their Nintendo Directs back on October 21st, 2011 in Japan and North America. These mini conferences broadcasted directly to consumers via their PCs or Nintendo devices ran just about every month. They announced news games, featured gameplay footage of previous announcements and talked about software enhancements. They've been giving information to consumers on a year round basis instead of keeping every single secret for major shows such as E3. It's because of this that having a major conference at E3 doesn't feel as important to Nintendo anymore.
And well, it's not just Nintendo that doesn't want to wait until E3 to start sharing information. On Feburary 20th, Sony announced the PS4. They spent hours unveiling features and announcing games. They didn't show the system itself, and they did withhold dates and SKU pricing, obviously saving the official announcements for E3. It was smart of Sony to do that, because it made gamers salivate even more for E3. Also, Microsoft plans to do the same, announcing their follow up system on May 21st, just three weeks before their own E3 conference on June 11th. Will they confirm or deny the rumors on May 21st, or will we have to wait for E3? Regardless, we just have to wait.
This is yet another way that Nintendo's changing. Is it for the better? Some say it's a smart move because it's promoting better communication among the actual audience they're marketing their products to, as they're less interested in all the business and investor talk. Others view it as a weakness, saying that Nintendo's lack of stage presence is an admittance of succumbing the continual poundings they've received in the industry thus far. Whether it's for better or for worse, I will miss seeing that Nintendo tab under GameStop's E3 conference page this year.
I've been waiting for this game about as long as (ok, a month longer) the Wii U title. Unfortunately, I'm not as excited about it. The Chase Begins is a prequel to Wii U's Lego City Undercover, and as such it takes place in the very same city. For the most part, the city's identical to that of the Wii U game, but there are some parts that are still under construction. The story follows Chase as he begins his career as an officer rounding up criminal after criminal, eventually having him going after the most criminal of criminals, Rex Fury.
Here's where the game starts to lose it for me. The presentation is lacking voice acting, which only occurs during prerendered cutscenes. I loved the first game so much, because of the constant spoken dialogue. It was also well written and very humorous, and it just made the entire game delightful. The lack of voice acting here in this game has a really negative effect. It has almost a sterilizing effect on the game's charm. They don't even mumble like in older Lego games. It's just so... bland.
Unfortunately, since I'm not enjoying the game that much on a presentation level, the basic gameplay just isn't a lot of fun. I now grow bored of the constant enemy encounters where I have to continue to beat them up before I can put them in cuffs, something that just took one attack to do so in the Wii U game. It's monotonous and just not very fun. The structure of the game's missions has also been changed. Instead of 15 standalone missions taking place in their own enclosed environments, the missions in Chase Begins are chopped up into two or three minute tasks. Some take a little longer, but there's no solid missions, and as such, no stud collecting goals to achieve, no hidden red bricks (they're all in the city this time), no police badges and not even simple puzzle solving.
An open world also seems to be too much for the 3DS to handle, or maybe TT couldn't find an effective way to code the game. The game now has to load every time you pass from one district into another. Not only is this disruptive, but some the bridge districts are passed over entirely. It hurts the sense of free roam, and I'm not even that encouraged to roam around the city like I was with the bigger game. And the load times? They're just as long! It doesn't make sense that a card-based game has to load for so long!
I'm not regretting the purchase, as I'm enjoying somewhat what the game offers me. It's just I wish I didn't pay full price for this game, even though I only paid 30. I played the hell out of the Wii U game, and all I really see in this game is a watered down handheld version. I get simplifying the mission structures, and not being able to render the entire city all at once, but did they really have to skip out n the voice acting?
Or do we...
At the end of Wednesday's Nintendo Direct, they dropped a huge bombshell on the Nintendo community with the announcement of a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The video footage shown contained a similiar art style, but beefed up with 3D graphics. Considering A Link to the Past is heralded as one of the best games in the series, every fan should have been ecstatic. Yet, the announcement drew negative comments in response to GS's news article. It even prompted GS to make a video on the subject, not just the Zelda sequel, but in response to the Direct in general.
Let me pluck out a line from the video.Tom McShea wrote:I feel like they're not catering to me anymore. I think they're catering to like a new generation of Nintendo players and leaving the old ones behind.
This isn't the first time McShea has talked about Nintendo staying Nintendo, as he wrote a pretty good piece here. This is pretty much how I feel, and I've already wrote a piece on that, although it's more centered on adult rated games. I also like what was said about it being hard to be critical of the same Nintendo games when they're still high quality. Why say negative things about games you love? It's not that we don't want to play more Mario and Zelda; it's that we want games that have that same level of quality, but entirely different experiences. This is something Nintendo themselves are rarely capable of doing. Instead, they take things that we're familiar with and repackage them.
I'd like to focus on the Link to the Past sequel for a second. I saw a worrisome picture posted in a thread in Primary Games Discussion.
This is worrisome, because it asks the question just how much of the original Link to the Past is going to be reused? Even the boss fight at the end of the dungeon shows that very same worm that you fought in the original, with the exact same tactic. True, it takes place in the same Hyrule, so obviously you're going to notice a few similar things, but why can't it just take place in an entirely different land of Hyrule? Why bother revisiting anything at all, when I'm sure there's more Hyrule on the other side of the game's planet. This is why I was bothered with Skyward Sword, because under that vast ocean of clouds, you only were able to visit three different regions.
So, enough about Nintendo, because I want to be fair here. Nintendo does get a lot of flack for milking their franchises, but let's remember they aren't the only ones who do that. Some troubling news visits both MS and Sony, as their respective first party franchises Gears of War and God of War are experiencing lower than expected sales. These aren't just lower than expected sales, these are abysmally lower sales. Gears of War: Judgement sold 425,000 units compared to Gears of War 3's sales of over 2 million in its first month. God of War: Ascenion sold 360,000 compared to God of War 3's 1.1 million.
Those are major league franchises, and if AAA sequels is what the industry thinks we want, what happened? Are gamers growing tired of those games that quickly? Are they being put out too frequently? Well, they aren't being released annualy like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed, so maybe it's the fact that neither franchise really changes much in the way of gameplay. Then again, that same argument could be said about Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. We also see them released every year because they sell. Developers have to keep making them for publishers to sell them, because they think that's what gamers want.
It does make sense, though. If gamers love great games, make more of them. If they keep buying them, continue to keep making them. Yet, it's a double edged sword, because it culls creativity. How do you manage to be able to break free from the annual franchise release grind when the publisher won't let you? If you don't want to, you'll be let go and the publisher will find other people to keep making it. *ahem* Activision/Call of Duty.
I've been doing some thinking about this lately, and I've noticed something among entertainment mediums. Authors of books, producers, screen writers and directors of movies will always have something along the lines of "The author who wrote" or "From the producer of". Those promotional lines above those book and movie titles establish a pedigree and invite the audience to try out something new, because they know who it's coming from. They have grown to like what those creators do, and they want to read and watch more. Where on earth are those promotional lines on our video games?
More gamers should do themselves good and begin to educate themselves on who makes what. This why the gamers in the know are following Destiny, because it's from Bungie, "the makers of Halo." Bungie has established themselves by making Halo games for more than TEN years. Look at how long it took for them to break away from MS to make something new. Look at Naughty Dog. They made three Uncharted games in succession, and now everyone is following The Last of Us because of Naughty Dog.
I understand that Activision is reluctant to make a new game that isn't Call of Duty, or Ubisoft doesn't want to start a new franchise that doesn't involve a hooded assassin (well, there's Watch Dogs). But every publisher, Activision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, etc., need to realize that the IPs that brought them so much success over the years... *waits for dramatic effect* started out as new IPs. Hell, you can't have a Mega Man 10 without first making Mega Man 1. When Keiji Inafune makes his new games, we're aware of it, because we follow him, but the average consumer doesn't. The average consumer knows of Mega Man, so when Inafune's new game comes out, why not just have "From the creator of Mega Man" on the box? I guarantee you it will help sell a few more.
Back on Nintendo and to Nintendo's credit, when they release a new Super Mario or a new Zelda, they at least try new things from a gameplay standpoint. The New Super Mario line isn't a very good example, because it's hard to really tell the four titles apart, but Zelda's always doing something new, regardless of how formulaic each iteration is. Yet, they're also dipping extremely heavily into the nostalgia bucket this generation, and it's becoming alarming. The 3DS was a remake factory with Ocarina of Time, Star Fox, and now Donkey Kong Country Returns. The Wii U is getting a Wind Waker remake. A Link to the Past 2 looks entirely too similar. Granted they are all quality games, but they are all far too familiar. We love them, but Nintendo needs to continue to create new franchises so that 10 years down the road, they have more nostalgia buckets to dip into.
More risks need to be taken, not just Nintendo, but everyone. And, they need to be executed smartly. They need to be promoted. They need to be marketed. They need to be put on pedastals to consumers with a giant sign hung around their neck saying, "I AM THE NEXT BIG THING!" We love sequels, yes, but we also love playing new games that manage to amaze us so much that after the credits roll, we put the controller down, point to the TV with both hands and say, "YES! NOW GIVE ME A SEQUEL!"
So we have a new Nintendo Direct. This one didn't manage to be that bad. Iwata goes on to talk about the year of Luigi. The first game he talks about is Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.
The Mario and Luigi games are quite possibly my favorite handheld franchise. When Iwata revealed the game in the last Nintendo Direct, I was ecstatic. I can only hope it will be half as good as Bowser's Inside Story. From what I've seen of the new footage revealed in this Direct, I'm a bit hesitant, however, as there's just something about the art style that I'm not quite liking. The action itself, though, looks incredible, and I love the idea of using so many different Luigis to cause major damage. The story about having to delve into dreams doesn't really seem as interesting as, say, Bowser's Inside Story, but knowing that the writing for each of the previous games has been stellar, I'm sure it will be a great story nonetheless. The game will release on August 11th. Hurry up!
Iwata then reveals more information about Mario Golf: World Tour.
Another reveal from the previous Direct, this is another game that I'm waiting for the 3DS. Not only does it look beautiful, but it looks incredibly fun as well. I love the series and it will be awesome to have another Mario Golf on the go. Iwata talks about the community features in this game being similar to those used in Mario Kart 7. This will be a cool feature, as it will pair up people against similar abilities. He also said there you'll be able to change the rules for classic play, meaning no super shots, or even have everyone play as Luigi. Yep, this year is all about Luigi. The game doesn't have a set release date yet, as it's just slated for summer.
Next, Iwata unveals for the first time a new Mario Party game.
I haven't played a Mario Party game in a very long time, since the first one released for the N64. It seems, though, that this will be the first Mario Party to significantly change things up, as there will now be seven different boards to play on. Each board has an entirely different set of rules and obstacles, which will surely affect the outcome of each game. There will also be 81 mini games, and the footage shown makes the game look extremely fun. I may consider getting this game, but so far I haven't heard anything about online play. I'm hoping there will be, as that will greatly influence my decision to buy it.
Iwata then talks more about New Super Luigi U.
Again revealed from the last Direct, nothing much new is talked about in this Direct. We still know that the world map is the same, but each and every level has been remixed specifically for Luigi. What Iwata did go into depth about is that Luigi has characteristics that change the gameplay, such as higher jumping, a very quick fluttering float, and skidding making it harder to stop during a run. That's not really a surprise, though, as Luigi's always controlled differently. Also, it seems all the new courses will start out with only 100 seconds. This is something I don't really like, as I hate being pressured during games. This is going to force a lot of mistakes... Now, I'm just interested in hearing how much it's going to cost. No set date, but it will come out this summer.
Iwata reveals more information now about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.
This is one game that I can't really care about. I loved the game on the Wii, but I'm not compelled enough to buy it again for the 3DS. So, not only are the graphics improved and enhanced in 3D, but there's something called New Mode, which is basically a nerfed easy difficulty that gives DK and Diddy more hearts, green balloons that lift DK back up after he falls, crash guards that let him shrugg off two collisions during vehicle segments, etc. It seems to be designed for people who don't have the time to keep dying over and over while they're on the go. The original mode is included, but I'm interested to see if there's any real new content added to get me to play this again. I wouldn't mind buying it again if there were new levels. May 24th is the release date.
Iwata now talks about a new Yoshi's Island.
I'm just going to come out and say right now that I dislike the artstyle. The original Yoshi's Island was much better, and this one just seems neutered. Sure, it's not an ugly looking game at all, but my eyes just don't snap to it like they did with the others. The gameplay, however, sounds like it will be just as fun. Everything from the ground pounding to the egg throwing and having to reclaim Baby Mario are coming back. I'm also sure that the level design will be just as excellent. No release date given just yet.
Iwata then talks a little more about the new downloadable Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move.
I believe this was another reveal from the last Direct. I've enjoyed the franchise for quite some time, and am currently working on March of the Minis. This one looks to be the most unique at all. For one, it's no longer in 2D, as it's all 3D. You move tiles around on the bottom screen, while the game world changes on the top of the screen. I think I might have to get this game, because I really do love puzzles. Plus, the footage they've shown seems to have some classic music in there. I heard some Super Mario Bros. 2, and I really love that soundtrack. Release date is May 9th.
Iwata now talks about the new Wii U firmware update scheduled for next week. It will improve loading times, allow you to instantly access Wii Mode from start up while the system boots, allows you to download software in the background, automatically install updates, and transfer data between two external harddrives.
Virtual Console will begin next week, and he shows off footage of different games that will be available. Looks like Donkey Kong, Excite Bike (yay! ), Super Mario World, the original Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, the SNES Kirby, Ice Climbers, Punch Out!, Super Metroid, Balloon Fight, a Kirby game I didn't recognize, and F-Zero. They'll also come with their own MiiVerse channels, but here's the thing I just don't like. Even if you already bought the games before, you're still required to buy them again to enjoy the Wii U specific features. Oh, but the "special" price is only a dollar for NES or 1.50 for the SNES. No, Nintendo, they should be free to original owners. Of course, that won't stop them from continuing to sell their old games time and time again. GBA and N64 games are coming as well.
Wii U Panorama View allows you to watch world events in 360 degrees, like you were virtually there. I have no interest in this at all, and get this. The tours will cost you TWO DOLLARS!
Iwata now talks about more Pikmin 3.
He doesn't go into much, but he does talk about a new pikmin type that was hinted at during some footage in the last E3. There will now be purple winged Pikmin types. The footage shown reveals that they might useful for carrying items over water without being slowed down, or attacking airborne enemies more effectively. It looks as beautiful as always. He doesn't give a release date, but says it's coming out in the next few months. I really need to catch up on this series, as I've yet to even finish the first.
Now, Iwata mentions a new title for the Virtual Console. It's Mother 2, or as it's known here, Earth Bound.
I have never played this game, but I've heard a lot of great things about it. This is actually the first Virtual Console title that I'm considering purchasing. He gives no release date, just saying that it will come out at the end of the year. Looking forward to it, but I wonder if it will come out on the 3DS's eShop, as I would prefer to play it on the go.
Iwata then turns the show over to Bill Trinen of Treehouse, Nintendo of America Inc. Bill talks about new games coming up for the 3DS and the Wii U in the upcoming months. The first game he talks more of is Game and Wario.
I've really enjoyed the WarioWare franchise, and this new title looks like a lot of fun. The gameplay they've shown reveal some pretty cool mini games that make great use of the gamepad, and I'm always looking for Wii U games that do that. There's also going to be some multiplayer games, and some will be designed to be played just by one player, but with spectators encouraging you on. The release date will be June 23rd. I think I'll make this a purchase.
Bill then talks more about the Monster Hunter games. He talks about new gameplay videos that Capcom has released, and mentions that there was a recent update that lets you play the game offscreen. He then moves on to talk about Lego City Undercover and how the gamepad let the player become more involved in the game's world. He touches a bit on the 3DS prequel Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins, and I'm definitely getting this. It takes place in the same city, and it looks like the gameplay is pretty much exactly the same, which is a good thing as Undercover on the Wii was a helluva lot of fun. It releases on April 21st, which is this Sunday!
Now he mentions that Swapnote users will receive new messages very soon. Meh. Swapnote is one feature that I just was never excited about on the 3DS. I just wish they'd completely redesign it, because it's such a fundemental mess.
He talks about the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Leaf being released on June 9, and then reveals this.
Will you look at that thing! It's so cute! I would love to have that, and I would play it with pride! Had I known this was coming out, I would have waited for it and not bought the XL last year. It's an Animal Crossing styled 3DS XL, and it comes pre-loaded with Animal Crossing: New Leaf on an SD card.
Bill then announces that both A Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are coming to the 3DS eShop. More Zelda on the 3DS is always a good thing, but I've yet to even play my original copies on the Game Boy Color. These titles are coming May 30th, and they'll feature the cross-game interactivity like the originals.
He now announces a new game by Square-Enix, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
Now, this is the first real surprise for me. I haven't heard anything about this game until just now, and the gameplay footage they've shown looks absolutely beautiful. It will also have CG cinemas that are of SquareEnix calibre, and it's so nice to see them show interest in the 3DS. This will be one of the major 3DS titles to get, and I would love to play a JRPG on that system. It will be co-published with Nintendo, so that means an exclusive title, and it will be released some time in 2014.
Bill's next reveal: Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy!
Now, I know this is no surprise as I knew the series wasn't over, but I'm still excited nonetheless. Bill says it will be the conclusion to the second trilogy. From the looks of gameplay and screen shots, it's set in the winter this time, and every screen shot that I've found has been in Japanese, so the game hasn't even begun its localization period yet. This means it will be quite some time before it's release. It will feature over 500 new puzzles, and Bill didn't even bother to throw out an vague idea of when the game would be release. It will be far off indeed.
He then goes on to talk about three new titles from Level-5 belonging to the Guild Series. The first is The Starship Damrey.
The Starship Damrey looks to be a slow and moody mystery game where nothing is explained to you. You given no information at all, not even a a tutorial. You simply manuever around the game trying to gather as much information as you can to understand your surroundings. It looks interesting, I will say that much.
The next title is Bugs Vs Tanks.
This title comes from Kenji Inafune, creator of Mega Man. So, the concept of the game is WWII tanks have been shrunk, and they're going up against an assortment of bugs that are gigantic to them, because they themselves are microscopic. Not much footage was shown of the game, only that your tanks will be customizable.
The last in the series is Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale.
Now this one excites me. Basically, it's a tale of a boy who goes about his days bumping into real life monsters from his TV shows. I already love the art style of the game, and from the brief footage shown, I was instantly reminded of Ni no Kuni. Looking forward to hearing more about this one. No dates given for any of them, only that they're coming soon.
He has one last reveal. A new Shin Megami Tensei. No gameplay or screenshots were shown, but they did show a picture of the packaging, and it looks pretty cool. It will come with CD, strategy and design book and collectible outer slip case. It will release June 16th.
Oh, and now Reggie Fils-Aime comes out. Oh, I heard about this one!
I know new Zeldas are nothing new, far short from surprises, but a direct sequel to one of my favorite Zeldas of all time (which shamefully I still haven't beaten)? Wow! Just ... wow! Look at how gorgeous that game is! The gameplay footage shows some really cool new features. The 3D will be put to great effect for multi-tiered dugeons, and a new ability that turns Link into a drawing will let him move along walls and change perspectives, revealing new angles not seen from viewing top down. Reggie also states that a gameplay trailer will be prepped and ready for download on the eShop, which I'm so going to watch today! It will be out this holiday season!
So it turns out I've exceeded my character limit with this blog. I'll just wrap it up by saying that I'm excited to see the 3DS supported so strongly this year, but disappointed in both the lack of new first party IPs and any new Wii U content. I know this Direct was focused on the 3DS, but they've got to try harder to support the Wii U right now. It's almost the complete opposite of what Sony's doing by supporting the PS3 and not the Vita. Anyway, thanks for reading, those of you who did.
Yannis Mallat doesn't think so. He believes that "most gamers are prepared", and that he "suspects the audience is ready." It might be easy to think this if all you're going off of are the number of people who play online. It's a numbers game, and Mallat feels there's enough to support their business if an always online mandate happens. People are understandably being worked up by his comment, but no where did I read in that article that he meant "most gamers want always online". And more importantly, he states that he doesn't want to see it happen unless it "provides clear benefits". I can't think of any benefits, and I'm not sure even he himself can. It could be read that they'll never do it this because of that.
Your statistics won't show how many people who play online will suddenly stop playing if forced to always be connected. It won't show how many people who were willing to buy the new Xbox will pass based on the mere notion that if for one minute their 720 can't connect, they can't play anything at all. But statistics are showing that enough gamers are putting up with it. How many people endured the mess that was Diablo III? Millions. How many endured SimCity? Millions. And it's still selling.
On the surface, it seems like enough people are incredibly pissed about the concept of a console - or game for that matter - having an always online requirement. But just how many people actually have the conviction to not just support the game, but the company and the platform? How many of you will say no to the 720 if it's always online, and no to Watch Dogs or any other single player Ubisoft game that requires an internet connection?
One of the comments I read:Poster wrote:i would love to see em go always on all the way just to see em crash and burn. watch dogs and rainbow 6 patriots will be the last Ubi games i buy. right now im trying to force myself to even play AC3. i was gonna get AC4 but man im so sick of these AC games every year.
This is a dangerous attitude. If companies like MS and Ubisoft go through this, they'll be counting on people who hate their crap, but put up with it and keep buying. This isn't just about always online, but also day one DLC and online pass practices. This is about people complaining about Dragon Age 2, yet still buying it or pissing and moaning about the locked out characters in Street Fighter X Tekken but still buying it, and then buying the characters. This is about the vocal minority swearing a company up and down, yet when the product releases, they go out and buy it. Even if you buy used, you still issue a tick for the product's demand.
Remember, us bloggers and posters and commenters are a vocal minority. We may think that we speak loud enough to be heard, and some cases we do. We spoke out against Adam Orth and now he longer works there, but that's a person and not a product. If a company thinks the numbers are there, they WILL try it. The majority of gamers don't post on the Internet. They don't follow gaming articles, thus they don't form opinions on a product based on personal politics. Or, you have gamers who do read the news, but they simply don't care. They'll continue to buy whatever they want to buy, critics be damned.
I surely don't want this. But, I am prepared for it. If MS decides to make an always online console, I am prepared to not buy it. Same with Ubisoft and Watch Dogs, or any other company that makes a game with a single player campaign that requires an internet connection. I think we need to stop thinking that just because WE don't want it doesn't mean we won't see it happen, when there are plenty other gamers out there who may not say no. I hope when the time comes, enough of us do say no, because a lack of sales says more than a comment wall full of swears in all caps.
I know, I know. I should be skipping this game and moving straight to Infinite, or so people would tell me. It seems like the general reception of this game is that it's the black sheep in the series. I can't see anything in the game so far that makes it in any way superior to the first, however, I don't see anything that makes it grossly inferior either. I'm actually enjoying it so far, as it really keeps me on my toes.
Bioshock 2 is one of those reminders that most modern day FPSs have made me soft. I'm so used to regenerating health and using cover, and I have neither of those in Bioshock 2. It's rare to see health bars in shooters nowadays. Anyway, I do like that the game is littered with first aid kits and food and EVE pick ups to always keep your powers fueled. I always did enjoy the game's vending machine mechanic in that you find money and spend it to increase your stock when it runs low. If you die unprepared, it's entirely your fault.
I also like the new take on the series, being in control of a Big Daddy, and doing what they do: protecting little ones as they harvest ADAM. My memory of the first game is foggy, so I don't remember if its weapons had alternate firing modes, but Bioshock 2 has them. The rivet gun has trap rivets, which sound exactly like they are, and you can lay traps all over the walls, floors and ceilings. They come in great when you have to protect your little one as she harvests ADAM from corpses. Then, there's the new twist of the Big Sister, a female, slender version of Big Daddies, who screaches her approach to you. I do love these battles, because they usually scatter picks up all over the place when you're done.
I haven't come across any new plasmids yet. I still have the basic telekensis, electroshock, and incinerate. I'm finding myself rescuing every little one that I find, so I'm actually handicapping myself by not having enough ADAM to buy all the upgrades. I just hope it's worth it in the end. As for the level design, it doesn't seem to be on par with the first game. There's just nothing that's jumping out and impressing me. I remember having to deal with flooded corridors in the first, and watching that water breaking the glass and being in awe of it. Maybe that will happen later in the game.
And no, I'm not touching the multiplayer. I really have no interest. I just hope the story ends up being good in the end. I like playing as a Big Daddy, and I can't wait to see the inevitable twist the game will throw at me in its conclusion. I like that you can hack bots again, but I dislike that they simplified the hacking mini game to nothing more than stop-the-needle. Once I finish the game, I might consider playing Infinite soon, but only if I can find it for a good price.
By now, word is getting out about MS Studios creative director Adam Orth no longer being employeed by Microsoft. It's not clear if this was a voluntary resignation or a forcible removal, but it's almost assured that his departure from MS is a result of his insensitive Twitter comments that caused a worldwide furor last week.
So what exactly does this mean? Does this move further confirm the rumors of an always online console? Was Orth let go for indirectly divulging information about the upcoming Xbox? Nowhere in his comments did he actually come out and say that yes, the 720 would be always online. Was what Orth said about rural committees really worth firing someone over? It was his Twitter account, and he was not saying those comments on behalf of MS, but unfortunately as a public figure of your company, you still bear the responsiblity of representing your company in your off time. Or, was Mr. Orth simply so embarassed over the debacle, he was no longer comfortable stepping foot in MS's office anymore?
None of what just happened is evidently clear. What is clear, though, is that social media needs to be handled with more caution and sensitivity. How many stories have you heard of someone being fired over what they said on Facebook about either their job or their company? Usually, they didn't even make the status update when on the clock. The most recent story I remember was this:
Then there's the entire Chic-Fil-A circus. Have you seen this video?
Adam M. Smith (oh look, another Adam got himself in trouble over social media!) was fired as CFO for Vante as a direct result for his verbal harassment of Chick Fil A employee Rachel Elizabeth. Ms. Elizabeth showed a great deal of patience and professionalism towards Mr. Smith, while Smith continued on. Smith eventually apologized for his video, after losing his job at Vante, but here's the real tragedy behind the whole ordeal. Nowhere in the video did he state who he was or who he worked for. He made the mistake of posting it online, and then it went viral. His company found out who he was, and even though he never indentified himself in his video, the company wanted no assocation with him at that point. Quite a social media blunder.
You don't even have to work for a corporation to get yourself in trouble over social media. You could simply be a bratty teenager.
Everyone should have seen this video at least once, an angry father's response to catching his daughter badmouthing her parents on Facebook again. This also went viral, and every network show from The Today Show to Dr. Phil weighed in on the matter. Whether you agree or disagree with the father's response, one thing's clear. Hannah would have still had her laptop if she simply would stop using Facebook in an irresponsible way.
I could continue to post examples, but you all get the picture now. The Internet is a very powerful tool, and like any tool, it has its good uses and bad uses. You have the right to say practically anything you want, and social media is a fantastic way to get your voice heard. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, all sorts of blogging services allow you to express yourself. But having your right to say what you want does not protect you from ramifications. What you say can reflect negatively on yourself, your parents, or your employer, and the consequences can be severe in the examples that I've shown.
During my Twitter browsing since Adam Orth leaving MS, I've seen a couple tweets about people scared to use their social media, but that shouldn't be the case. Like any tool, it won't hurt us if we simply use it properly. You don't saw something with your finger in the way, and you don't hold your thumb on the nail before you hit it. What is so stupid about these people getting themselves in trouble is they don't bother to think before they submit what they're saying. It's one thing to be face to face and say something damaging, because it just comes out. It's an entirely different matter to do it virtually, because it takes time to compose your thoughts. You are witnessing what you're doing before you relay it to people. You have time to go back over it and mull it over before you hit Submit. It's just a shame that Adam Orth didn't; that Chelsea Welch didn't; that Adam M. Smith didn't; that Hannah didn't. Honestly, freedom of speech does not come without its own price.
Reading this thread about Nintendo not having any 1st party M-rated games has sparked my desire to write this blog. I honestly don't believe Nintendo themselves have ever made an M-rated game. I'll quote from one of those posts in that thread here.Nintendo_Ownes7 wrote:Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Developed by Silicon Knights but Nintendo has full control over the IP)
Geist (Developed by n-Space and Nintendo)
Zangeki no Reginleiv (Developed by Sandlot it is currently Japan Only)
Fatal Frame IV and Fatal Frame II Crimson Butterfly remake (Nintendo know owns majority stake in the Fatal Frame IP they purchased it from Temco-Koei; Fatal Frame IV is Japan Only and Fatal Frame II Wii Edition was released in Japan and Europe)
I honestly think Nintendo should seriously consider going after the older crowd as well. Sure, they are, have been and will always be a family-orientated company, but it isn't entirely unthinkable for them to do this. They have published M-rated games before, such as those named above, and they will be publishing Bayonetta 2, which not only has graphic violent content, but also sexualized themes as well. But what I really want to see is Nintendo themselves take a stab at it.
Picture if you will an M-rated Zelda. For 25 years, Link has been carrying with him an instrument of destruction: a sword. The very nature of the sword is to cut and render. For 25 years, the sword has never been truly capable of reflecting what it will do in real life: cut things to bloody ribbons. In this new M-rated Zelda, we'll see Link cut down beasts and monsters and leave bloody trails in his wake. The new mature take on this franchise will show Link's struggles in a whole new light, a dark light. Zelda has had dark games before, but breaking free from the restraints of the younger demographic will create a starkingly real world, a vastly more interesting one. Think of it as a reboot, much like what the new Tomb Raider did for Lara.
A beautiful piece of fan art that shows how blood can make Link look more interesting.
Now I know what you're thinking. It wouldn't be the same Zelda, but that's part of the point. It doesn't have to be a shallow action game where you're shuffled along set piece to set piece. They can still use the same basic formula with Link going to this dungeon to get that tool to use in the next dungeon and so on. It's just that game will have a more realistic environment to give it a scarier and more absorbing atmosphere.
I'm only using Zelda as an example. They can make up entirely new IPs, which is what I would prefer, but I would still like to see an M-rated Zelda. I get that most Zelda loyalists wouldn't want that, but again, that's kinda the point. There are a large number of gamers that grew up on Nintendo, but have since moved on to other platforms because they feel Nintendo hasn't grown up with them. There's a huge vacancy in their line up, and it's been this way ever since Nintendo transitioned from playing cards to video games. It's blood.
An M-rated Kirby game? That's so distrubing, YET ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE enough to work!
Sony has their God of War franchise. Microsoft has their Gears of War franchise. Nintendo has... nothing. Blood doesn't make the game, which is true, but violence really does sell. "But Nintendo doesn't need to make violent games!" So then why are they publishing them? Why do they let them even exist on their platforms? Nintendo knows there are gamers who like these games, but they simply won't make them.
Sony has appealed to the younger crowd. We've seen such easily accesible games with colorful graphics like Spyro, and Sly Cooper and the upcoming Knack for the PS4. We've seen Microsoft do the same with Viva Pinata and Kinectimals. If Sony and MS themselves can appeal to both young and old, why can't Nintendo? Why does Nintendo continue to focus on just the family? Yes, that's where they make their bread and butter, but why not go after jelly as well?
Just letting third-party developers make M-rated games and publishing M-rated games you've commissioned second-parties to make for you isn't enough. The Wii U has more holes in its library than holes in an abandoned country road, and having some serious, M-rated games would go a long way to patch them up. Again, I'm not saying that games need to have blood in order to be great, but you CAN have great games with blood in them.
Sure, Nintendo is a family company, but I bet you the dad loves violent games. The kids growing up might one day too.
I cannot stress this enough, Nintendo, so I'll say it again. Some gamers grew up with Nintendo, but have left because you have not grown up with them. You take gambles on your hardware all the time. With the DS, it was two screens and a touchpad. With the Wii, it was the motion controls. With the 3DS, it was glass-less 3D. With the Wii U, it was the tablet controller. Why don't you take a gamble on your software as well? Why don't you take a billion or two out of your bank, open up a number of internal studios and start going after Sony and MS's markets like they went after yours.
Make your own God of War. Make your own Gears of War. Quit playing it safe and truly show us that you're striving to get back on top by getting the core gamers back. Don't just farm it out to other companies. Step out from your comfort zone and do it yourself! I got news for you, Nintendo. Core gamers don't just play Mario.
OOoooohhhhhkkkkkkkayyyyy..... Just going to toss those up there and see where it goes...
This comes after Kotaku yet again rumoring that the 720 will require an always on-line connection, among other things. Ok, now keep in mind that this is Kotaku, and there's still a chance they could be wrong, but the pictures of Adam Orth's tweets aren't doing much at all to disspell these rumors. Also, keep in mind that Adam Orth's tweets aren't 100 percent claiming that yes, the 720 will be always online, as he could just be airing his thoughts on his personal opinion regarding the topic.
Yet, you have to wonder... why would the creative director of a studio make such comments like these on the same day as another always online rumor being reported. Now, is it "always on" that he's referring to, meaning the constant sleep mode that the system will be in, so it will always be ready to play when you turn it on? Or is he just shortcutting for "always online"? Whatever the case, he's done a lot of damage here. Some say it's damage control, and if that's the case, it's some of the worst I've seen in a very long time.
Even if he's just referring to the "always on" feature, and not "always online", and if it's just his personal opinion and not a confirmation, it's that whole, "Why on earth would I want to live there?" reply to @manveerheir that's completely unwarranted. Yeah, it's his Twitter, and well, he has the right to express his views, but you can't just say whatever you want without thinking it's going to have some negative ramifications. Plus, it also put things into more context that he indeed is referring to "always online" and not just "always on".
So let's say this creative director really did have diarrhea of the mouth and indirectly confirmed the rumors that we've been dreading for months are indeed true. The new Xbox will require an always online internet connection, and that's something I don't think we should support. Wasn't the Sim City debacle (and well, Diablo III for that matter) enough to showcase how consumer unfriendly always online DRM is? And what happens when MS has a server issue of their own, and people's perfectly working internet connections are useless to them in that instance? MS will have effectively prevented their ENTIRE userbase from playing ANYTHING.
This is just dumb. The mere fact that we're still having to wonder whether or not this rumor is true is dumb. The fact that Microsoft has given us enough reason to even think of the possiblity of it being true is dumb. Adam Orth spouting this crap on his Tweeter is about as dumb as dumb can get. I know Microsoft doesn't like to comment on rumors and speculation, but seriously? They're going to continue to remain silent after all this? Are they really thinking of going through with this? Is the threat of piraters really that great that they'd risk losing sales from so many people who think this is a horrible idea, and alienate gamers who simply don't have the Internet at all?
I can tell you this much. Just having this guy Adam Orth representing Microsoft is enough for me to not want the new Xbox. This arrogant attitude of MS's needs to stop. They're going to suffer if this is truly their plan of action. I haven't passed on a system launch since the first PlayStation, but at this rate, the 720 will be the first. I wouldn't mind, because I could use the extra money.
I am not the Angry Video Game Nerd.
I am not Angry Joe.
But I do get angry. I'm not nearly the same kind of raging gamer that I was back in my early twenties. Way back then, I broke controllers on a regular basis. I punched a hole in my door. I've thrown a friend's SNES controller during a frustrating bout with Super R-Type and almost got my ass beat as a repercussion. I smashed an N64 Rumble Pack while playing South Park for the N64. I threw a controller straight into my toe and it took a year for the nail to grow back properly. I snapped the disc of the original Driver in half because of the final mission.
Occasionally, actually rarely, I'll break something these days. The last two things I can remember is breaking a DS Lite over Brain Age refusing to recognize my voice inputs (don't ask), and Max Payne 3 costing me a PlayStation 3 controller. So... two devices in the span of six years? Hey, that's pretty damn good. I've kept my controller chucking under control, but I still got a ways to go. I get easily frustrated with the games, and I'm still finding myself yelling and swearing when playing them. I invent new swear words and I even cuss in foreign languages. I'm the type of person you wouldn't really want to be around when I get pissed off with games. And hey, you don't need to tell me that. I already know what I sound like. I'm not proud of it, and I know it's a waste of money. I know it's stupid and idiotic and immature, but well, I'm human.
I was told, "If you're not having fun with it, quit playing!" I respond back, "But then I'll never finish it!" So, I guess the reason why I keep playing games when they get incredibly hard is that I feel I'm compelled to see it through. Finish what I start. "But it's just a game! No need to take it so seriously!" Oh, I hate hearing that too. Sure, it's just a hobby, but I do take it seriously. The guy who makes porcelain cats and sticks them on his window sill takes his hobby seriously, too. Do you think he'd just give up because his cats weren't coming out right? Well, ok. Not the same thing. I'm sure he doesn't scream and cuss and shatter his cats by throwing them at a wall. It all goes back to finishing the game, and that requires passion, and a bit of insanity.
My new masochistic love right now happens to be Need for Speed: Most Wanted U. For the most part, it's not that hard, but when I come across a frustrating race, I end up spending nearly an hour just to beat one. Out come the expletives, flying all over the place like someone dropped a lit cigarette in a crate of fireworks. The voice starts getting louder, the pitch starts rising, the anger starts building, the neck muscles start tensing, the eyes start squinting, and if my ears could steam, they would start steaming. "For the love of God, Lucas, just turn it off!"
But if I do, I can't beat it. And if I can't beat it, I can't feel elated once I finally win. I can't feel that natural rush of endorphins flowing over me, calming me down like cool, crisp mountain air across my face.
It's the sense of accomplishment that makes it worth while to me. It's a natural high.
Video games are my anti-drug.
So that feeling of winning first in a frustrating race, or striking that fatal blow to the boss with just a sliver of your own life left, or solving that puzzle that made you feel you're too stupid to involuntarily operate your own lungs is worth it to me. It's a payoff that I look forward to when I find myself in those frustrating moments in games. It makes the experience feel like it's worth having.
Of course, there are moments where it just doesn't fudge king matter. There are games that are so stupidly challenging that their entire point is to piss you off. You can even be an expert gamer and still die in a level 100 times. "I'm going to get better at this. I'm going to do it. HA! I knew I coul- WHERE IN ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BEARD DID THAT MISSILE COME FROM!" See, thought you were better than the game, didn't you! Those moments are the ones that should make me stop playing the game, not because it's challenging, but because it's broken. Yet, I continue to see them through. If I get stuck with a crappy ass game... I unfortunately have to still finish it. My last horrible experience?
And since it was for the Wii U, it was even worse. They never bothered to fix the camera and control issues of the first game. They never bothered to expand on the possibilities of the paint and thinner gameplay. Instead, they continued to make even more mechanical mistakes, and forced co-op on you with Oswald being so daft and inept, he could make Goofy look like a scholar. God, was this game bad, and the horrible frame rate issues the game suffered FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON AT ALL just made it all the more unbearable. There was no joy for me in playing and overcoming obstacles. I got a sigh of relief, a big "THANK GOD IT'S OVER!" when the credits rolled. That's not the kind of reaction you're supposed to have when beating a game. The only sense of accomplishment I got was that I could move on with the rest of my life. Why, then, did I keep playing it? Because I had to review it.
I review as a hobby, and I review as a profession (albeit a struggling one as I'm far from a gig that I can live off of). So, in order to keep my writing up, I have to keep reviewing. This means whatever I play, I need to complete so that I can review it. I don't review unfinished games, so you can see how this becomes a cyclic effect. Most games I choose to play; others I might get assigned to me. This presents a danger to me, though, because it puts pressure on me to finish a game as soon as I can. Guess what happens when I'm hit with a frustrating part that I can't get past, costing me time that I wish I had?
Pretty much. But I do my best to make sure that I keep that in prespective when it comes time to writing the review. This is why I think sometimes difficulty makes a reviewer score a game lower than others. It goes back to my previous blog where I state that everyone has their tolerances. Today, I experienced a potentially frustrating moment in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon where I was fighting three boss ghosts at once. There were several times where I got hit because I couldn't avoid an attack since I was stuck trying to suck up one of the ghosts. It's this kind of design that feels cheap, and Carolyn called them out on it. I'm starting to agree with her that not every boss battle is well-designed, but my tolerance is greater than hers, at least for now, so I can't see myself enjoying the game any less as a result.
But at the end of the day, I still have fun with most games that I play. I still love gaming, but sometimes it's an unconditional love. You love it no matter what, so you take the bad with the good. I hear from my fellow gamers sometimes that they're tired of gaming, so they take a break, which is smart. They usually end up coming back, because they miss the fun of the games in general. I admit, I have a character flaw which is a result of my compulsion (maybe even OCD at times), but at least I understand why I do what I do. If you have to ask anyone you know why they play games when they get frustrated by them, maybe you can understand a little better after reading this.
Gonna be honest here. I was >THIS< close from trading the game away. It has a very steep learning curve, at least for me. There are two main problems that I have to work to overcome. The first is the controls. It is not a responsive arcade-style driving game at all. It could just be that fact I'm not using to playing racing games with the Wii U's gamepad sticks (they do feel somewhat different than the other joysticks), but I definitely don't remember having problems with Hot Pursuit's controls. You're also moving so fast that's entirely too easy to take a wrong turn and miss a check point. There aren't enough visual racing aids to help you react.
The second problem is... and this is a big one for me... there's so much crap EVERYWHERE. It's entirely too easy to accidentally swerv and smash into a dumpster, or hop a rest of a road and slide into a guard rail or see a unavoidable car crossing your path in an intersection. Oh, did I mention drifting is extremely hard to do? A couple of nights when I first started it, I believe my second or third race took more than an hour trying. I'm great at racers, at least I think, but for some reason, this is just tough as nails. But, I am finding that the more I play it, the more I'm starting to like it. I'm winning a few races in two or three tries, and a rare one I'll win on the first attempt.
The structure of the game is open-world sandbox, so you drive around looking for races. It's exactly like Burnout Paradise (a game I disliked for previous reasons). Your goal of the game is to become Fairhaven's most wanted driver. How you obtain this is by "jacking" other cars and winning races to earn speed points. Earn enough points and you unlock a Most Wanted race which pits you one on one with a driver of a car that you can't get anywhere else. Beat the race, and the driver gets released into the city. He'll randomly pop up on your map and will try to take you down. Then, it's on. You can chase him and if you managed to take him down, you unlock that car.
There are other races as well, but I haven't done much exploration with the modes. I've basically been finding new cars and participating in the basic races as I've found them. There's the normal sprint race, but then there are races where the cops are trying to take everyone down. Like Hot Pursuit, they vary in standard patrol cars and then there are police-painted super cars. They get aggressive and ram you and set up road blocks and drop spike strips to blow your tires, but here's what bugs me. When you get spiked and crash, your tires are still blown when you reset. If just one side's gone, it's managable, but if both are shot, just restart. It's why that race a couple of nights ago was so frustrating. Cops kept forcing me to restart.
Now, from my understanding, this port is based on the PC build, so it's supposed to be better looking than the 360 and PS3 versions. Since I have not played those, I have no basis for comparison and will not comment on that. The graphics itself are pretty, but honestly not all that impressive. I could be imagining things, but I think there's a few frame rate hiccups. The other thing I don't like is that the crashes aren't remarkable. There's no carnage, no cars flipping end over end, no doors being popped off and wheels being chucked. Just basic body damage and shattered window. A real shame; it feels very toned down.
I've explored with the Co-Driver content just a little bit, which is unique to Most Wanted U. You can change the time of day, turn traffic on or off, switch cars on the fly and even disrupt the cops. You can pass the pad over to someone else who can control all this while you play with the remote and chuck, or the Pro Controller. Of course, you can also send gameplay to the gamepad and play that exclusively. One thing I don't like, though, is how you can't set waypoints via the map on the gamepad. Maybe there's a way, and I just haven't found it yet, but the map seems almost useless at this point.
I picked up the game on sale from Origin.com for 30 dollars believe it or not. Of course, that sale price has since passed, so I'm actually happier with the game at 30 than if I paid full price for it. I don't regret buying it, but I will not lie and say that I'm not frustrated with it. I'm having a little more fun with it now that I'm winning a few races, but I know eventually it will get ridiculously hard again. I'm going to try not to give up on this one like I did with Paradise and see it through. Although... I personally think Criterion needs to stop using the sandbox format; it just isn't as fun to me.
This is in reponse to Carolyn Petit's article Heroes Who Look Like Us: A Call for Diversity In Games.
Obviously, the issue is deeper than what's just on the skin. Carolyn isn't talking about characters that resemble average looking people. She's primarily talking about seeing more female characters, and nudges in seeing more characters of different ethnic backgrounds. There's no question that we can benefit from seeing more diversity in games, but I hardly feel it's something that's plaguing our industry, and far from such a problematic issue to be referred to by both Cliffy B and Carolyn Petit as a "cancer". Surely, you both could have used a better euphamism. :/ Diversity is wanted, but let's not be that demanding about it, ok?
With all these isms - feminism, racism, sexism, etc., - I choose realism. I consider myself to be a realist. In my opinion, it's the best way of looking at something, because you aren't relying on a skewed point of view as you aren't taking sides. You are seeing something the way it is, cutting straight to the truth, and the truth is something that's hard for some people to see. The truth is, a company should market to its target audience first and foremost, because that's what keeps the company afloat. If the majority of gamers are white males, that gets reflected in the games we play, if they continue to sell, continue to make them. Does that mean racism? Heavens no. Does that mean the market will always stay the same? Absolutely not. But here's what I see happening if people like Carolyn Petit continue to be as overally vocal as they are now.
Companies will begin to make characters that don't make sense. They're going to see a quota that needs to be filled, and they'll start putting in more diverse characters and simply not focus on the real task at hand: developing quality character development and great stories that revolve around them. This has always been an issue with our games, and it won't improve with different faces. But it also doesn't mean that diversity isn't happening now. It just cannot be an overnight process like Petit wants it to be. Remember, Assassin's Creed not only introduced its first female character, with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, but she was also half-black. And what did we see happen? A completely wasted opportunity to flesh out a potentially interesting character.
Instead of demanding that the industry make more diverse characters now, I think a better alternative is pushing a demand for more character creation. I'm an uninteresting 33 year old white male. Yet, when I make my characters in my video games, they hardly look anything like me. I usually give them darker skin tones, hairstyles that I will never attempt in public, and jawlines that will make a rampaging rhino back down. I make my characters look as far different from myself as possible, yet character creation allows for the exact opposite as well. Technology already exists that lets you map your face onto the face of your character, and even if you don't want to spend the time customizing your character, a lot of games come equipped with a multitude of presets.
And it is far better to ask for character creation versus making more female and ethnic characters, because it means you won't have to risk selling games to people who don't want to play as whatever mandatory character your game stars. I know it sounds lazy, and interesting storylines will suffer as a result, but it allows companies who are scared of alienating particular demographics a way to appeal to everyone; it really is the only feasible thing to do at this moment. This also would be a way to see just what kind of characters the gamers themselves choose to play as, something that is far more beneficial than a simple random market survey.
There's a part in Tom Abernathy's argument where he lists sources that state adult women make up 30 percent of the gaming audience, but if you look at one of those sources, it's PopCap games, makers of extremely casual games. Is this a credible way to reflect exactly what kind of games these adult women are playing? Not at all. For all we know, the majority of these women gamers play Facebook games, not saying they do, though. So, it really is understandable why publishers are relunctant to release games with female leads.
The more imporant way to correct this is if you want to see more games with female characters, BUY THEM. This is going to require some sacrifice on your part, because you'll have to pick up these titles knowing they may not be everything you want in a game, but at least you're adding a +1 to their sales and thus creating a market. You're going to need to do more than just ask - or demand - publishers to make games with more diversity; you're going to need to support them when they do. And, I want to see that happen. Quite honestly, I love playing female characters, because I think it's awesome when females kick ass.
Since I'm on the subject of females kicking ass, here's something I've yet to see any female gamer ask for: more female enemies to kill. I think this would be a great way to equalize things. Sure, Lara Croft is a strong female character, but all she's doing is killing men. What is this telling us? Are males the only gender that are capable of commiting evil? Is the Lackey Club exclusive to only men? Why can't women get shot too? I honestly want to see more female enemies, and not just boss characters, but actual run of the mill thugs that you beat up just as often as you do men.
Yes, I honestly want to see more diversity in video games, but I want to see it come naturally. I don't want it to be a rushed job, because publishers always rush their games anyway. I'm reminded of affirmative action, because companies tend to ignore the best possible candidate for the job just to increase diversity among the staff. Diversity needs to be tackled with sensitivity, not an obligatory check list. Yes, there are publishers hesitant to offer different characters, but there are also others that continue to break new ground. If you're passionate about seeing more diversity, you need to seek those ones out and help them be successful and prove to the hesitant companies that the markets for these games are indeed growing. This doesn't start NOW, with the companies. It starts NOW with you, the consumer, and it has always BEEN with you, the consumer. Ms. Petit ends her article with, "You don't coddle cancer." Jesus Christ, Carolyn. Let me end mine by saying you don't cut out the cancer without knowing what impact it will have on the body.
Oh man, what a time it is to be a 3DS owner. We're really getting some awesome games as of late. I've been awaiting this game for some time, as I absolutely adored the original on the GameCube. Now, I know everyone's first question will be, "It it really worth the 6.5?" Obviously, I can't answer that. I'm no where near the end of the game, as I've only finished about four missions. But of those four missions, I can safely say that if you loved the GameCube game, you'll love this.
It's so nice to Luigi strapped with his Poltergust 5000 again. He has those classic animations that your remember him having. He cautiously enters a room and shivers as he senses something near. He yells and leans back when he spots a ghosts, and even the ghosts sometimes are spooked by him. Gameplay still remains the same, where you'll need to stun ghosts with your strobe light and suck them into your vaccum. They've added some new features as well.
The Dark Light beam reveals hidden objects being cloaked by invisiballs, I think they called them. If you find them, you easily suck them up into your vacuum and whatever object they were concealing becomes revealed. The environments also beg to be toyed with, as money spills out from the unlikeliest of places. I also like how areas you've already been to might contain more money or ghosts to suck up as you pass through, inviting you to recheck areas again in future missions. The mansion itself has some great level design
The graphics are awesome, and everything animates so well. I love the transparency effect on the ghosts, and the game makes great use of the 3D as well. I also love the music, and I like how Luigi hums to it from time to time. I got to say, though, the incoherent gibberish that Professor E. Gadd mutters reminds me of an ewok from Return of the Jedi.
This game has been hitting all the right notes so far with its delighful gameplay and lovely charm. I just wish I had more time to spend on it, because right now, Lego City Undercover on the Wii U is hogging most of my gaming time. If I had to focus on just one negative aspect, though, it would be getting cheap shotted a bit one too many times when you're battling multiple ghosts. I have a feeling, though, it won't be something that's problematic enough to ruin the enjoyment of the game. Bottom line, if you have a 3DS, get this game.
Kevin VanOrd has just reviewed Bioshock: Infinite and gave a 9.0. You would think that everyone should be happy with that score, but surprisingly (ok, not that surprisingly), a few people are still upset. They wanted a 9.5, and I even saw one demanding a 10. Kevin raves and raves about the game, describing its deep and challenging narratives and fantastic gameplay. He only mentions a couple of negatives, including a few glitches that impact the game, but it doesn't seem to warrant a drop of a full point to some.
Carolyn Petit reviewed Luigi's Mansion last week and gave it a 6.5. This caught a lot of people off guard as reviews started coming in from the Four Corners of the Internet and they were mostly positive with lots of 8s and even some 9+s. It seemed overly harsh for GameSpot to give the game a 6.5. I, like many others, were a bit baffled because the review text clearly didn't match the score. Carolyn's major complaint was a lack of midlevel checkpoints and some overly difficult moments. Dark Souls is both brutally hard and contains no checkpoints, yet Carolyn gave the Prepare to Die Edition a 9.5.
Tom McShea reviews The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and gives it a 7.5. He has instaneously earned more ire and hate from the Nintendo community than Jeff Gerstmann did when he gave Twilight Princess an 8.8. Tom had valid complaints which were instantly dismissed because he had the "audacity to give a Zelda game lower than a 9.0". Also, the Metacritic was going against him, which I'll get into that later. Yes, it was assumed that Tom McShea hates Nintendo, which is ironic as the very same reviewer gave Super Mario Galaxy 2 a 10. And you know what's funny? People STILL complained about the score, saying it was too high. (And then there's Gerstmann's own 10 for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.)
Jane Douglass gives Trine 2 an 8.5, but a year later Carolyn Petit gives Trine 2: Director's Cut on the Wii U a 6.5. Even though the Wii U version contained free DLC and introduced no new flaws with the game's transition to the Wii U, it was scored two points lower. Carolyn simply didn't like the game as well as Jane did, which caused a problem I'll get into later.
Chris Watters gives Gears of War Judgement a 7.5 and Mark Walton gives God of War: Ascension an 8.0. Both of these games are the fourth installment in their respective console franchises, of which they have scored nothing short of a 9. Yet, some people blew gaskets when they saw these scores, as there was no possible way either GoW could have scored less than a 9. They chose to remain ignorant of the games' flaws, and continued to dismiss the reviewers' opinions.
And this is why you should never trust reviews. They are inherently opinions. GameSpot tries to review their games as objectively as they can, and they might do so more than user reviews do, but at the end of the day, it is still one opinion. The reason why a review cannot be trusted is because an opinion does not equal a fact. Even when a reviewer claims he is being objective about a game's features, he is indirectly making an assertion based on his tolerances. Everyone has tolerances when it comes to not just games, but everything else. It's our how tastes are defined.
GameSpot reviewers do their best to explain their positions, but when they submit their score, it no longer becomes their score; it's GameSpot's score. Every reviewer in that San Francisco office does not review using a hive mind, which is clearly evident with the inconsistency of Trine 2's reviews. People can't be expected to learn every single reviewer's like and dislikes, because that would take too much time. So to them, they don't see Kevin giving Bioshock a 9, Carolyn giving Luigi's Mansion a 6.5, Chris giving Gears of War a 7.5, Mark's God of War an 8.0. It's "GameSpot gave this and this and this a 9, a 6.5, a 7.5, etc."
I've also read - and partially agree - that GameSpot should adopt a multiple reviewer format, like the old days of Electronic Gaming Montly. This would give more perspective into the game, but at the same time, it would cause the reader more confusion when the scores are all over the place. I remember one review of EGM's that went from a 9.5 all the way down to a 4. I was like, "What the hell am I supposed to do now?" It would be nice, but I think it's more beneficial to just read reviews from other sources altogether.
Then there's Metacritic. People continuously say "Don't trust GameSpot. Look at Metacritic." So, instead of not trusting one reviewer, you're going to trust a cumulative score of many other reviewers? I bet you probably wouldn't click on a single one of those reviews on Metacritic. Even then, I heard it's not the professional Metacritic score you should be trusting, it's the user scores that matter. That can actually be worse.
User scores are easily influenced. If there's shady politics regarding the business decisions of that publisher, users will attack them through user scores, as can clearly be seen by the Kane and Lynch fiasco, where the user score on GS has been dropped to a 4.1 (although I know it was much lower when the circus began). You'll also have fans of a series or a license that will give games a much higher score than reviewers, because being critical of a game doesn't matter to them. They can love games unconditionally.
"Reviewers don't love games." This is one thing I've heard a few times, and I've even been told before that I hate video games, which is absurd. Although, there is something to be said about reviewers being able to enjoy certain games less than other gamers. It has to do with our hobbies becoming work. Every so often, reviewers end up suffering from burnout, having to pull all-nighters during crunch time to get that review out by the deadline, and then it's on to the next game immediately. I'm not saying this afflicts all reviewers, or even a good number of them, but it's not impossible to say it doesn't affect some on a subconcious level from time to time. Unable to take a break from a frustrating game can have an adverse affect on the reviewer's frame of mind, and negatives will carry more weight when the reviewer begins to write up the review.
It's expected for reviewers to finish their games, but some readers feel that a game should be finished 100 percent before a proper verdict can be given. This is why you might see some readers arguing over reviews because the reviewer didn't fully explore the game. That's a bit unfair, because there are other games that need reviewing, and we simply don't have the time for it. This might give off the appearance of reviewers being jaded, but we just don't have the same luxury of time as you do. Always keep that in mind.
I'm writing this as a reviewer myself. I have been reviewing games since as far back as 1998, being an Editor-in-Chief of a small hobby site called MediaFuzion, having a small stint with PSXExtreme.com, writing well over a hundred user reviews for this site, and I'm currently writing for DefaultPrime.com. So, it seems weird that, as a reviewer, I'm saying don't trust reviews. Yes, don't even trust mine. Reviewers aren't mind readers, and we certainly don't write to placate to you. We'll say what we think about a game to give you an idea of what the game is like. We'd hate to know that we're responsible for you buying a game that you ended up hating based on our recommendation, and we surely don't want to bear the brunt of your wrath when we "crap all over" a game you absolutely love. Reviews as meant to be used as buyer's guides, with the emphasis on the plural. This means that burden of research lies on you, the consumer.
On, and one last thing. QUIT BASING YOUR PURCHASES OFF SCORES! Actually read the text! They are far more important than any qualitive number. For all you know, God of War: Ascension got an 8.0 simply because there weren't enough boobs...
Let me first just say how terrific it is to be using my Wii U again for something that's not Netflix. This has been my first Wii U game since I finished the initial seven launch games I picked up last year, and it's one that I've been waiting for for quite some time. I also feel that of all the games in the Wii U's library, this is one of the more important ones. Yes, it does appear to be just for children, a vibe that most Nintendo games usually give off, but the one thing that any secure gamer knows is that Nintendo games are simply just pure fun. Lego games have a large following, being played by young and old gamers alike, so for the Wii U to have such a quality Lego title exclusive to them is a much needed title indeed.
Lego City Undercover feels extremely fresh for two reasons. One, it's not based on any licensed media. Its concept and theme are entirely unique. Two, it's not structured like any of the previous Lego saga games. It's structured just like Grand Theft Auto, an open-world sandbox. You are free to go where you please, playing through story missions when you please. Its story missions are explicity linear, however, but you're still free to do extra activities at your own pace. You can seek out loads of Super Builds to put together, but of course that will involve acquiring bricks, and there's Super Bricks EVERYWHERE.
Undercover is also an important Wii U game, because it makes great use of the gamepad. Once you get the feature unlocked, you can hold up your gamepad to seek out any Super Bricks, villains to arrest, or other activities by holding up the TV and moving around in total freedom. The visual is pretty slick, too, as everything goes into a gently pulsating blue, with objects being highlighted in gold. Video calls also play on the gamepad, and the map is there too, but personally, I just wish you could still use a mini-map on the TV screen. It's a bit distracting to always have to look down at the pad while driving.
The story missions themselves are designed pretty much like any other Lego game. You move from room to room, each having some kind of obstacle in your way that you need to solve simple puzzles to overcome. Destroy this, build that, use a different disguise's ability to activate that door. You'll still be collecting a required number of studs to get 100 percent and earn a Lego City Hero rank, and there are hidden red bricks in each of the 16 story levels. You can also revisit those levels in Freeplay with new disguises you've unlocked to earn hero ranks and get any other missables.
Now, I will say that during my playthrough of my last Lego game, Indiana Jones 2, I was enduring crappy driving. Driving has never been Traveler's Tales' strong suit, and I was worried the driving would be absolutely horrible in Lego City. Well, it's not absolutely horrible, but it's still pretty bad. It's quite easy to oversteer and crash into a wall or another car, and most cars have only four hearts for health. Plus, on the rare occassion where the police become aggressive enough to hit you, it can be frustrating as there's almost no way to avoid them. As I said, though, those occassions are rare. The police are very, very passive for a sandbox game.
I so badly want to keep talking about this game, but I need to save the rest for a review. Lego City is just a blast so far. It's no where near as technically sound as other sandbox games, because Lego games have their own inherent mechanical problems, but the charm, humor and overall presentation of the game is just simply fantastic. I'm going to end up giving the game a Funniest Game of the Year award, because I'm just in love with the writing. Ladies and gentlemen, you may not realize it, but Lego City Undercover is actually the Wii U's first killer app.
EDIT: By the way, I forgot to mention that the game has SERIOUS loading time issues... I guess I forgot about it when I was writing my impressions, because I was having so much fun with it.