Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tired Of Saving The World

You're preaching to the choir, Mr. Lomberg. I can't imagine the type of person who feels real emotional investment in the Master Chief or Army Guy #3,783. Video games today remind me of something Roger Ebert said about movies:

"I believe the more specific a film is about human experience, the more universal it is. On the other hand, movies "for everybody" seem to be for nobody in particular."

But then, that's the cost of games that have... well, a huge cost to make. If only developers had access to consoles that wouldn't demand such a staggering return investment, they could be telling more specific, personal stories.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Handhelds: "AA Games"

An interesting(to me at least) blog post about the rise and fall of level design in video games got me thinking. Big games cost more, so they take fewer risks. It takes longer to make levels, so they can't be as complex or time-consuming to make or play, so we get prettier levels that aren't as fun. Dirt-cheap iPad games have only superficial, passing substance while on the bus or something. They don't have the budget or motivation to make something more than immediate satisfactory impulses.

Where did the fun go? When did we trade the artistic integrity and adventurous spirit of this medium for more brown pixels? Where is the middle ground? Where are the games that aren't AAA, big-budget bald space-marine shooters? Where are the games that aren't about matching coloured gems? Where are the products that can tell a story with unorthodox settings and staples, on a budget that isn't retarded, doesn't need to rely on the most expensive, time-consuming technology to look good, and can still be loads of fun? Where are the games big enough to be about something, but not so big that they have to circumsize the creative heart and soul?

The answer came to me while playing Mega Man Zero Collection on the Nintendo DS. The handhelds!



Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Left 4 Dead Fan Film

Enjoy it now, before Youtube is destroyed by a supremely greedy and retarded bill in the U.S.!

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Left 4k Dead

See, I've always thought the concept of Left 4 Dead was a solid one, it was just really, really, really badly handled by Valve. Thankfully, one of the guys behind Minecraft took the same concept, and made a much more harrowing experience out of it.

And it's 4k in size. Turns out all of the polygons in the world can't cover up the smell of shitty game design.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Digimon Vs. Band Of Brothers

Marvel Vs. Capcom. Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton. That movie where Sherlock Holmes teams up with Sigmund Freud to fight crime.


And now, Pokemon meets... a complex historical strategy game about feudal Japan?

Peanut Butter and Chocolate?
I...



Well see, that...







Huh...


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 16 December 2011

High Definition Sucks

That's a dead url, btw, so don't bother.

There is something really annoying going on, and it's why I don't watch as much TV or play as many new video games anymore. At some point, games and shows started just assuming you have a widescreen television. Even just a couple of years ago, a new game would give you an option to play in widescreen or full-screen. Now they just assume you have the most expensive, gigantic HD, 3D alien View-a-motron available for domestic purchase.




So now everything is cutoff. On a standard television, TV Shows and commercials do this stupid thing where half of the onscreen text is bleeding out past the edges, or half of people's faces are cut out of frame. In video games, this means that the Heads Up Display is impossible to read, as well as text. The new Halo games do this. So do the Dragon Age and the Mass Effect series'. Both of those games are ALL ABOUT reading text and determining a response... in a visual presentation that makes both of those things impossible.

Do you see where the trouble comes in?



Thursday, 15 December 2011

Plankton Parade

Linkstorm ahead:


My favourite remixer from OCRemix.org is listed in the Soul Calibur V soundtrack. Andy "Zircon" Aversa will be contributing original compositions, alongside industry vets Inon Zur("Dragon Age"), Hikoku Kikuta("Secret of Mana") and more. They'll join the series' mainstay composer Junichi Nakatsuru, who is himself no slouch in the video game music department.

A positive development. This might just be the type of thing that could give this game a shot in the arm. Especially considering how the series almost ended to the sound of a wet fart.


More good news: Nintendo continues to baffle me with its choice of releases. Not that I'm not glad we're getting Rhythm Heaven. But that's a series known for a very specific, Japanese sensibility and tone. But hey, this is coming from a guy who played the original RH on an emulator, in its native language. I didn't care that it was bizarre and in a language I don't speak. Fun is universal.

If they've finally figured that out, and if they believe they can sell that to a western audience(and good on 'em for taking that chance), they really have no excuse for letting The Last Story and Pandora's Tower slide now.



In any case, good news all around. Although I do wonder what it will look like if they edit it for an American audience...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

"Red Vs. Blue Season 9": Review

by Alex Hill


2/5



I try not to review individual seasons or episodes of TV shows or web-based content, but I think this is a special case. The folks at Roother Teeth are the poster boys of Machinima (machine cinema, animating pre-made video game content for the purposes of fan-fiction). For eight seasons, they trotted out the same characters in similar situations, but have always managed to draw entertainment from the well. It was almost always amusing in a juvenile way, and the dialogue was always a fast-paced collapse of logic in the face of stupidity. If you didn't like a joke at first, they'd build and build on it, and a new one was always around the corner.

This is also the second season featuring Monty Oum's frenzied choreographed fight sequences, utilizing motion capture and other assets not found in the Halo series these guys normally work with. But they happen to a completely new cast of characters, in a different time period, in scenes that appear randomly and out of order inbetween the machinima parts. They don't overlap or compliment Church's exile in any way, or vice-versa.

Season nine of Red Vs. Blue has identity issues. It's two barking heads on the same shoulders.




Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Sum Of Its Parts

Jason Schreier has written an article at Joystiq.com. He's done a commendable job at explaining not only the appeal of an often baffling genre of video games, but also sheds a light on shady reviewing practices. Namely, how we dissect and rate each individual aspect of a game in a shallow checklist.

You know:

GRAPHICS: 5/10
CONTROLS: 7/10
DAVID HASSELHOFF APPEARANCES: 4/10...

When I review a game, I will go into specifics, but for me it's about the overall experience. What condition the product as a whole left me in when it was over. I find my writing isn't very helpful to those who aren't familiar with how to operate them. And to that I say... GOOD! 



Friday, 9 December 2011

Mi¢rosoft

It was only a matter of time until that new dashboard update for the Xbox 360 produced something legitimately stupid. It seems Microsoft hates Indie games, and doesn't want anyone to find them or play them. It's looking more and more like that they're doing it to pay more lipservice to the games that cost $60 from their major business partners. I guess they just assume they can afford to screw over people who actually have to worry about paying the rent.

Because "Modern Halofield of War 3" NEEDS that $5, you guys.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

"The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!" Review

by Alex Hill


3.5/5



There is a reason why I like vulgar humour. Your Family Guys, your South Parks and its imitators. I respect Married, With Children for getting that ball rolling. I like these shows to varying degrees, but there is a common thread that ties them together: They will do anything, anything to get a laugh. A well-written show with "adult humour" will go to any lengths, and fish for jokes in the deepest, darkest places. So many programs are bound and gagged by restrictions. By networks with no sense of humour, and people with frail sensibilities.

I respect any writer willing to find where the line is, and then throw up on it. Even when it's not serving a point, or trying to attach social commentary. Even if the joke fails, I'm just glad they tried it at all. "The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie" is funny. It's crude, repulsive and mean-spirited, but it's funny. It's funny in the first ten seconds. But your mileage may very. Two people could collect reasons for why they like or dislike this show, and both lists would look about the same.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Separated At Birth

He's "The Hero". He wears a recognizable green ensemble, and fights for the weak and useless.

He has no personality. He has only one facial expression. He kills and is unkillable. He is treated like a God by everyone that meets him. His enemies foolishly charge into his attack radius, despite the fact that that strategy didn't work out for the hundreds of other enemies he vanquished with ease. He has no family, no backstory, suffers no moral crises and has nothing to say. He blindly throws away any pretense of free-will, excusing a lack of backbone with "fate" and "responsibility".

He is boring.



Friday, 2 December 2011

Operation Rainfall: One Down...

"Xenoblade Chronicles" is coming to the United States. Fuckin'... Why did it have to take this much of a fan outcry to get that to happen?

So, that's good news, right? I mean, it's not all three of the Operation Rainfall games, but it's something. Right? Well here's the bad news: It's only being released at Gamestop and Nintendo's website. So I can either financially support a business that's destroying video games for its own benefit, or not buy it at retail at all.

There are some very stupid people working for the house of Mario. Even when they do it right, they're doin' it wrong.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wii Jokes: The Revenge

Urinal video games.

I repeat: URINAL. VIDEO. GAMES. And there's talk of possible multiplayer aspects down the road. Still no word on that AIDS vaccine, but you guys: competitive pissing.


I mean...


If you poop in it, do you get the high score?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Legend Of Zelda: "Terminal Pancreatitis"

I've mentioned before that the obviously terrible video games don't bug me. At least, not as much as the games that were so close to being great. The titles that had greatness within their reach, and let it slip away for reasons of hubris or incompetence.



Twilight Princess made me stop believing Nintendo was my friend, or that they wanted to make great games anymore. It taught me that games aren't just made to make money first; they're made ONLY with profit in mind by greedy assholes who look at consumers as the enemy. This is the entry that proved to me that Shigeru Miyamoto doesn't give a shit anymore, and instructs his team to paint by numbers. This is the game that convinced me that every Zelda title will just be Ocarina of Time, over and over again, because people mistakenly believe that's all this series should be. This is the game that convinced me that Koji Kondo is a has-been, long past his prime.

This isn't a review. It's an autopsy.


"Yes! I am the ASS-Assin!"

First "Ezio" from Assassin's Creed 2 gets into Soul Calibur V, a fighting game known for its bizarre cameos(from The Legend of Zelda, to Star Wars). Which I guess makes sense, since it's kind of a historical setting, and Ezio is a character from around the time DaVinci was still alive. Makes more sense from a context perspective than, say, Spawn at least.

But now he's getting a costume in Final Fantasy XIII-2, a futuristic fantasy game, and I am officially calling this weird.

Weird.



Sunday, 27 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Faster! FASTER!!

Due to multiple unforeseen delays and writer's block in the first two thirds of the month, I am now 49,000 words behind schedule in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is 50,000 words by November 30th. If I want to make it by the deadline, I'll have to write nearly ten-thousand words a day for the next five days.

Just once I'd like to set a goal, put my mind toward something and NOT have it torn out of my reach so that no amount of effort will matter. Just once I'd like to have a chance at succeeding at something, without being robbed by invisible bullshit outside of my control. Is that so much to ask?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Old Republic: "The Phantom Menace"


"Because that’s the real tragedy of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Not that it’s a mediocre game – though that is a tragedy in itself – but that it could have been so very much more.


And it isn’t."

That's "Josh", one of the people finally allowed to air his grievances with the Old Republic beta after the NDA was lifted. I get a sinking feeling Bioware is not going to survive this...

His is a sentiment I share with a lot of games I've looked forward to, now that I think about it. The obvious failures don't leave an impression anymore. Your Big Rigs, your Duke Nukem Forevers. I find I can't be mad at the stinkers anymore.

It's the games that COULD HAVE been great that baffle me. The games that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I can understand a hellish development cycle or a ridiculous deadline or all number of very good excuses for why a game fails. But then there are times where a team has all of the time, money and talent in the world, when they have everything going for them and they still screw up.

Those are the experiences that haunt me. The games who have perfection in their grasp, and they refuse it. Some failures are a maddening, hollow question mark.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Telltale Games: "Jurassic Park"

Telltale Games(Back To The Future, Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Strong Bad). Beloved developer of point-and-click adventure games that get rave reviews. People love them.

But apparently not enough for them not to game Metacritic scores. BECAUSE THAT'S THE DEAL-BREAKER FOR EVERYONE WHO BUYS GAMES, LOLRITE

All in a superficial attempt at... what, exactly? To trick people into thinking this wasn't an unusually tired attempt by this company? Did they think they could get away with it, when every other developer who's tried the same thing hasn't? Even if Jurassic Park were an uncommon fumble from this team, did they really think it would risk destroying them as a company? There's a fine line between PR and desperation, but this is the first time I've heard of them crossing it.


 
And honestly, after that he said/she said Jeep fiasco, it's hard for me to tell if anything that comes out of this company isn't complete horseshit. It's too bad, because this wasn't a developer that had the appearance of Activision or EA, or some other faceless Orwellian corporation that hates you. From what I heard, these were supposedly the good guys. The people who cared about making great games, the people who had their heads on straight in ridiculous times. Some companies take a lot longer than this to lose their soul.

Telltale, I can't comment on your Jurassic Park video game. I certainly won't play it. But not because some critic told me not to. I don't give a flying crap if Kotaku gives Modern Warfare 3 a blowjob in numerical form. I'm not going to play it because you don't trust your audience. Do you know how pathetic you look right now? Even Gamespot thinks you're being too overprotective about your scores!

Can't we rely on anyone in this industry not to be cowards?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bundle Of Joy

The PS3 has been doing a good job so far with bundling PS2 games. Especially since the damn machine isn't backward compatible... Yes, it's gouging and "HD" textures and slapped-on 3D effects don't really soften the blow. But if it gives people access to games that you can't find on the shelves anymore, I suppose that's better than nothing(or Ebay). And anything that gives "Ico" and "Shadow of the Colossus" renewed exposure can only be good for video games, and for people who enjoy them.

(I think there's also a compilation package for the older Metal Gear Solid games, as well as the God of War series, if those are more your thing.)

Boy, Snake's really let himself go...


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dragon Age: "Credits"

The weirdest part about Dragon Age is that when you beat the game, a "30 Seconds To Mars" song plays over the credits. Twice. Which is exactly what this medieval fantasy video game needed, right?


It's like hearing "Panic at the Disco" in Lord of the Rings. There is a time and a place for everything, and in this case it was Nowhere at Never o'clock.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Conveyance

There is a problem with video games today. Something very, very recent, as in the last couple of years. Maybe even more recent than that. I don't notice it in the SNES era, or when games moved into the third dimension, or even when the Playstation 2 and Gamecube were still relevant things. And no, it's not the first-person shooters.

Egoraptor recently made a video about how video games tend to hold your hand too much, to the detriment of the game. The idea being that they're actually not conveying necessary information in a way that doesn't hinder the experience. He spends 20 minutes explaining how the Mega Man series did a great job at letting the player learn through playing the game, with very little consequence. I always loved Mega Man X, but I never really knew the importance of how well the intro stage was designed until he ran through it point-by-point.

Also, this happens.


He called this "Conveyance". This is when the game communicates the player what the game wants you to do, without bashing you over the head with it, or slapping your wrist for deviating from the "ideal" path. Mega Man X taught the core mechanics, and even some trusty tips on the side all through playing the very first stage in the game. No tutorial. No loading screen with the controller setup. Nothing intrusive.



The challenge for game designers today is an unenviable one. They have to convey a lot more to the player now than they did in 1991. But lately it's like they're not even trying. What I speak of is worse than some "Navigator" warning you not to eat that nuclear warhead. I'm not talking about a poor attempt at dialogue between the developer and the player.

What we have here is a failure to communicate... at all.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Bob Chipman: "Rosebud"

I think I know what's wrong with Bob Chipman.

I've dreaded writing this, but I don't think there's any avoiding it anymore. I don't know if it really took me this long to figure out, or if I just didn't want to accept it. But I am convinced now that the problem is not, nor has it ever been the workload, or the crappy movie and game lineup this year. He is the next in a long line of victims who have been poisoned by politics. But that was a side-effect, a symptom of a much deeper root cause.

See, while he'll never admit it, he is a far-left kind of guy. "Far" being the key distinction here. I lean left of centre myself, but this guy takes it a few steps too far. Just like the right has the extreme nutbags, so do the liberals. There's crazies in every corner.



But he's making the mistake of the Tea Partiers, the Occupy movement and all of the worst people in politics: He is making an enemy out of ourselves.



Sunday, 6 November 2011

THE COLOURS, CHILDREN!

Here's an infograph courtesy of Joystiq.com that reminds us of how far we've come in regards to video game technology. Specifically, in regards to how many colours could appear onscreen. From the paltry green-and-white days of Electronic Tennis, all the way to today's billions of colours at any given time.


If only most of those colours weren't just brown and gray. Games are evolving backwards in that respect...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

"Halo: A Fistful Of Arrows" Review

by Alex Hill


4/5


Over the course of a year, a man going by the username "Leviathan" has been digitally painting a short fan-comic. It's called "A Fistful Of Arrows". His goal was to shed some light on the fate of a character the source material could not be bothered to care for. In the process, he has explored in unblinking detail why these characters and situations could have been something great. He took characters who were largely forgettable, and found out why they should have mattered. He wrote dialogue and events for the same characters from a multi-million dollar corporate turd, and did so with sometimes shocking precision.

One man on his own time did a better job with the same material, than people who were paid over the course of four years. Levi Hoffmeier paints circles around Bungie and Microsoft Studios. He rummaged through the hollowed-out carcass of a truly wretched game, and fashioned it into something valuable.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Skyrimjob



I wish I could be as excited about Skyrim as everyone else. I really liked Oblivion for a time. But after going through the same caves and the same dungeons and meeting no people or characters I could forge bonds with, and doing nothing except make the little numbers go up, I realized just how shallow the game is. Is that all there is? Just doing this over and over just to get better armour that I can't even show off like in an online game? At that point, I hadn't even completed the main story, or even a third of the quests. But I was done with Oblivion.

A mile wide and an inch deep. I don't regret the time I spent with it, all 100 or so hours. But I look at other games like it(Fallout 3 and New Vegas), and I feel myself reaching that brick wall sooner and sooner. Sandbox games and me are seeing each other on less friendly terms lately. I like shorter, more focused games I can return to over and over, that I have an emotional attachment to. How often can I shoot ants in New Vegas and have it actually be exciting?

I will say that I loved the Oblivion Gates in Elder Scrolls IV. I loved just exploring a piece of land not on any map, and seeing that tell-tale red glow. I love never knowing what I'll find in there, what dangers will meet me. Every Oblivion gate felt like a long and difficult expedition that I had to be prepared for on a moment's whim. And every time I closed one, I felt like I had made the world a little safer and a little bit better.

Does Skyrim have that? Is it somewhere between the cooking mini-game? I'm sure it'll be loads of fun for those who are into it. All the more power to ya. And maybe I'm just dead inside, but I'm just not excited.

I'll keep an ear out for Jeremy Soule's soundtrack though. Although he's got quite a tough act to follow.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Roar of the Earth

"Ico" and "Shadow of the Colossus" are two of the most important video games we have. Chris Suellentrop does a good job of reminding us why.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Character Showcase: "Zargabaath"



Final Fantasy XII is not an exceptional product by any means. One of the most troubled development cycles in gaming history led to multiple rewrites, delays, shuffling of creative employees and at least one person who was so screwed up by the bureaucratic process that he became violently ill and stepped down from a producer role. It rips off Star Wars with less shame than any other story I've seen, and tries to hide its tracks by making its events as convoluted as possible. 90% of the recorded dialogue is heavy breathing. Its battle-system allowed zero input from the player, but the level grind demands were fucking atrocious. Basically you did nothing, and had to do nothing for a long damn time.

And you spent that time with a bunch of insufferable transvestites. There is one major protagonist who has some small charm, but he's surrounded by shitheads. It's the Left 4 Dead 2 of JRPGs. So hopefully now you can understand why this character showcase is for a minor background presence. Sometimes a character manages to leave a strong impression even when they don't have a lot of lines or even a substantial screen presence.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Waluigi

Of all of the characters fans could have hacked into Super Smash Bros. Brawl, why HIM?

Okay, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. There was a nude patch out for the Boomer in Left 4 Dead before they made one for Zoey. I don't approve of either, but that's not the baffling part to me. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the order they chose. How can people have priorities that stupid?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 7 October 2011

"Gears Of War 3" Review

by Alex Hill


3.5/5




The original Gears of War was as juvenile as it was artless. It stretched itself thin on gimmicks. It was barely coherent and largely stupid. Its' attempt at characterization resulted mostly in loud and obnoxious stereotypes. Its world was the result of an ugly obsession with polygons, and macho muscle-headed bullshit. The games industry has "borrowed" a lot from this series since E-Day. That childishness is the only thing they've managed to do better than Epic Games. Not even when their CEO openly mocks independent developers at conventions.

And then something curious happened: Every other game wanted to be like it(and to be fair, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto). It was warmly-received by critics and the public. Men and women, despite it's "NO GIRLZ ALLOWED" tone. It even landed the highest honour the Game Developer's Choice Awards can bestow. It was like watching the Best Picture Oscar go to Bad Boyz II. So not only was it successful, this turd was critically acclaimed(by people who I thought knew better). Something about this series turns reasonable men into sluts.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Gamers Opt Out

If companies like EA and Sony want to avoid getting class-action lawsuits thrown at them, maybe they should consider not screwing up on a gargantuan scale to the point where millions of people become victims of identity theft thanks to them. And that maybe they shouldn't hold their games hostage until we relinquish the right to call them out for it.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Song of Storms

It's not really confirmed. But still, has it seriously taken this long for a new Zelda game to get an orchestra treatment? What was the hold-up? Twilight Princess sounded like it was composed on a Casio for crying out loud.

Also, here is a D'AWW-worthy story about a fan of Double Fine.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Hermit Life

I have unexpectedly come into the legal posession of Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout: New Vegas and the first Dragon Age with all of the DLC.

Goodbye human civilization. We had some good times.
END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Colony Wars

Some games you don't realize how much you missed until years after it left your memory.

Granted, this article by a determined fan trying to get answers on the creation of the series isn't the most informative read, but after this long it's not hard to see why info would be scarce on a series that hasn't been updated since before the Playstation 2. Still, it shed a small light on video game history.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Gunstringer

Huh. So it turns out you can get funding for a game concept you literally pulled out of your ass, just by frantically looking around your nearest location for inspiration. Really puts my super-secret idea for a game I've been nursing for 18 years into perspective.

It also reminded me of this.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Character Showcase: "Rarity"



Growing up as a young lad, there were "boy shows" and "girl shows". There was a certain code among the boys that girl shows were, and I quote: "icky". They were not tolerated. We were only to watch Manly shows, with Men doing Manly things without any pesky women getting in the way. Because otherwise it would be "gay".

I think if that was the point, we may have had our priorities backwards. Far be it for me to question the wisdom and time-honoured traditions of insecure 1st-graders.

But then, I was mostly raised by my mom and sister. And since life was and continues to be an emotionally crushing hellhole which leaves me "too scared to die and too damned to scream", I was in need of some distractions when the boy shows weren't cutting it. I wasn't above watching the occasional programming for whom I was never the intended audience. And I didn't have friends until the 5th grade anyway, so it's not like I had any reputation to lose by giving Sailor Moon or Hello Kitty a chance.

I think the major thing keeping me away from these Girl Shows and franchises wasn't the fact that they were for a different audience. It's that the majority of them that I tried watching were, quite frankly terrible. Even by 80's/90's kid show standards. It was as if they were made mostly by clueless men who greatly underestimated little girls or something, but LOL THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, SEXISM AIN'T NOT THANG RITE

I'm glad to see those days may be behind us.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Smash Bros. Brawl Remixes



Super Smash Bros. Brawl has the most soundtrack of anything that's ever needed music. It was a gargantuan project, assembling pretty much every name in eastern video game composition into one project, to remix classic Nintendo songs. Pretty much any song I ever enjoyed from all across this companies franchises were represented, sometimes by composers I've admired and followed over the years.

Oh, and they got my favourite composer, Nobuo Uematsu, to compose the main theme song. Nothing that awesome and nerdy will ever happen again.

Here's my 10 favourite song remixes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, in no specific order(not including original tracks like Final Destination, or songs that were included but not remixed):


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright

Nintendo's reluctance to bring Xenoblade, The Last Story or Pandora's Tower to the west told me, in no uncertain terms, that it doesn't want my business anymore. That my money is no good to them. And I can respect their decision.

And by "respect" I mean "face-palm".

I really don't want to give up on this company or its products. Honestly, I'm not trying to boycott this here, but I'm not convinced they haven't given up on me. That said, if they ensure the release of THIS GAME in the States, they will do a lot toward rebuilding some of the goodwill they've lost.

Image courtesy of portablegeneration.com

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 16 September 2011

5 Ways To Tell You're Irrelevant

John Cheese and David Wong of Cracked.com have in the past said some of the more frightening and honest stuff about the state of modern video games. That their latest article leaves such a sour aftertaste is unfortunate. These two rarely miss the point this badly.

It's called "5 Ways to Tell You're Getting Too Old for Video Games", and it tries to pass off all of today's hideous failings in the industry to us just being a bunch of old coots. They also make the claim that video games today are no different than they were in the Pong era, by virtue of the fact that there were copy-cat games there too, in comparison to our onslaught of brown FPS games.

Oh, and they also insinuate that Final Fantasy VI is on the same level as Call of Duty's zombie mode. Just because kids today are more immersed in that, in a -vaguely similar- way we were enraptured in the world of magicite and espers. See, it's not that games themselves are getting shittier, or that the industry is focusing too much on the racist 8-year old demographic. No, it's our fault because we aren't letting our inner-child roam free, free like the birds and the bees and the cute little bunnies.

Guys... NO. Holy shit, that's just... no.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Final Fantasy X Remake

Yeah. The one with Tidus.

Wait, I thought remaking Final Fantasy VII was "unrealistic"? But this one isn't? So, instead of getting what everyone is asking for, they're going to give us what NOBODY wanted? A game that doesn't need to be remade, because it looks and plays fine as it is compared to today's technology?

Not six? Not the three PSX era titles everyone won't shut up about?

Look, I'm not saying I didn't like FFX. It's one of my favourite games, in fact. But I really have to wonder if Yoichi Wada isn't trolling us at this point.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Extra Credits: "Cutscenes"

I've said my piece on Cutscenes. I don't like unskippable, badly-acted cutscenes that don't make any sense any more than the next guy. But I do feel that, when done right, they can be one more reward for the player. I don't even mind cutscene-heavy games, as long as I'm entertained. I also think the people who want them banished entirely are people who don't understand video games.

I guess what I'm saying is: I agree with Dan and James on this one, and they managed to get that point across with greater brevity and civility than I am capable of.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Video Games Suck

So Halo 4's "Creative Director" quit. About a year before the game is due. Early enough in development that no known gameplay footage exists, we know nothing of the single-player storyline, the multiplayer modes, the enemies, the allies, the weapons, the equipment or the setting. And already Ryan Payton's had enough.

The straw that broke the camel's back was apparently Microsoft keeping a short leash on what their new team can do with the franchise. This does not fill me with confidence. It's bad enough they're focusing on that worthless green turd just to satiate the demands of dumb-ass kids too young to be playing an M-rated game in the first place. And "Creative Director" is a pretty vague job title.

But if the people they specifically hired to get creative with their franchise are so restricted from creativity that they start rage-quitting, somehow I doubt they've got a handle on this video game thing. And after this many years, this company really should know better by now.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ten Years

Not really a whole lot I can say that others aren't saying a lot better. Especially people who were much closer to the impact than I was. My being a Canadian I can't claim the same experience as the Americans, but it has given me an interesting vantage point.

In the time since, I have seen from the United States equal parts hope and fear, courage and cowardice, reason and insanity. We talk of how we banded together and showed our true colours, while at the same time many others were taking advantage of that sudden patriotic camaraderie to suit their own selfish, destructive ambitions. We are more suspicious now than ever, less trusting, less certain.

In many ways, we're still crawling out of the wreckage. But we're still here. The sun still rises. And no amount of fear and hostility can break that.

My neighbours down south have been hit hard, harder than I'd like to imagine. And I think they've been wounding themselves for the last decade with their fear-mongering and pseudo-civil war "Us vs. Them" mentality.

But whatever doesn't kill you...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Classic Friday: "HUGO STIGLITZ"


I was hoping I could make these Classic Friday posts be at least vaguely on topic with something that's happened recently, but that's what I get for putting off saving those articles until it was too late. So you get an old review of a Quentin Tarantino movie:


Thursday, 8 September 2011

OC Remix: "Back In Blue"

OC Remix released their newest album: A collection of mixes from Mega Man 9. Pretty solid overall, and the only track they fucked up completely was Hornet Man's. I find that happens a lot with them and tracks with male vocalists. It's how they killed the Credits Music from Mega Man X, and the final boss tracks to FFIV and Donkey Kong Country 2. There's a few decent female singers there, but not one talented male vocal performer.

That complaint aside, I'd recommend giving it a listen. Some very talented people on this one. If nothing else, it will tide things over until they release their gigantic Mega Man X series tribute album.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Crytek Me A River

It's pretty sad that stories like this are becoming so commonplace they're almost not even noteworthy anymore. Crytek joins the ranks of EA, Rockstar and Activision when it comes to companies with dickhead bosses and allegations of hellish working conditions.

If there is any truth to these accusations, this is not something we should tolerate. But if this is how companies treat the people who bring us our entertainment, what do we do? Do we boycott the game entirely? While it would send a message to these companies in the only language they understand(money), it has the unfortunate side-effect of wasting the blood, sweat and tears developers go through to make these games. Even if those games are flavourless, mass-produced shlock. And I don't think pirating is the right way, either.

And it could just be bogus, a stream of lies by a guy rightly fired, now entangled in a vicious "he-said, she-said" situation on public display. Hey, just playing devil's advocate.

Either way, something is very rotten in video games if this situation is becoming the norm.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Classic Friday: "Tamers"



I'm happy to report that I've found a couple of older articles I HAD saved to my hard-drive before the old site died. Which means Classic Friday can still exist for about a month or so.

I also mentioned a few week's back that I'm planning on writing a list of my favourite cartoons. Well, here's one of 'em:


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Selina Kyle

Dear Lindy Hemming, costume designer for the upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises"...





You can do better.

 



Okay, Bane looks alright. I'll give you that.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Alyssa Bereznak Is A Cunt

I think when you openly work for a tech blog called "Gizmodo", you lose the moral authority to complain that your date is too much of a nerd. I don't know what happened to Alyssa Bereznak. Maybe "Magic: The Gathering" murdered her parents, and she swore vengeance against the collectible card game. But for such an impotent, mean-spirited article, I am left with a tinge of optimism.

Here is a person who will die alone and unloved. That's a happy ending, right there.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Two Things That Are Stupid

1.) Gearbox essentially gave away a free copy of their upcoming game "Borderlands 2" to everyone who attended PAX. That is THOUSANDS of sales lost. I'm really not sure what their business plan is here.

We do all realize the reason Scott Pilgrim did so poorly at the box office is because they showed the movie for free, at Comic-Con, negating any reason for the only audience willing to pay to see it from doing so, right? Why would anyone think this would be a good example to follow?

EDIT: It has come to my attention that the vouchers for a free copy were limited to the 900 or so attendees of the Gearbox panel at PAX. So it probably won't bankrupt the guys the way it looked like it would when the story first hit. My bad.

I still say it's a shitty business strategy. Assuming none of those people buy an extra copy for no reason other than blind devotion/poor money-management, that's still a potential $63,000 net loss for them. But then, considering it was apparently the "highest-selling new IP" in 2009, maybe they feel like they can spare some change.

2.) The Warthog from the Halo series can be unlocked in the racing game Forza Motorsport 4... But you can't drive it. In a racing game.

May I kindly ask what the point is, then? That's like Sonic the Hedgehog being introduced into Smash Bros., but you can't fight him, or play as him, and he only stands there while Tails talks about the material that went into making his shoes.

Very weird people doing the promoting for video games lately. And that's not even touching on the Gears of War band-aids.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

West Memphis Three

It is my opinion(as it is many others') that the "West Memphis Three", 3 young men who were charged and convicted for the bizarre murders of 3 children in Arkansas in the 90's were in fact innocent. The investigation and subsequent trial remains one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice the United States has ever seen. Countless people, in and out of Hollywood have championed their cause to get a retrial, or a new investigation, or something. Anything from a state that would willingly let a possibly innocent man die, instead of facing the consequences of their mistakes.

Why, WHY did I only hear that they have been set free a week after the fact? And that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh pretty much saved the day on this one. How is Kim Kardashian getting married supposed to be higher priority information here?


I'd rather be an uninformed git than watch the news. Look at the priorities of our media and tell me I'm wrong here.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Character Showcase: Vivi



I consider myself a character designer by heart. In order to make this blog a bit less ranty, maybe I should sometimes talk about a specific character design that works for me. Why it works for me, how it compares to similar designs, and what we can stand to learn from them. It could be from anything really. A book, a movie, a video game. Something with at least some semblance of a narrative, or at least something featuring a defined identity.

It could be a spotlight for protagonists, or some of my favourite villains. Or maybe an under-appreciated background character. It won't always be very in-depth or long, but I can never underestimate my debilitating need to not shut up.

We'll start with a character whose small stature belies his significance to me:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bungie, Part II

Part I is here.

I remember many years ago reading an article about how Bungie started playtesting their games with, I kid you not, actual soccer moms. Unfortunately, Google can only locate snarky forum posts that use this sort of information as ammunition. That's the kind of things 12-years try to use as an insult for a game someone else likes. Maybe Marcus Lehto is trying very hard to pretend it never happened, like George Lucas with the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Can you imagine priorities this stupid in another medium? That's not even selling ice to an eskimo. That's marketing a white-supremacist romantic comedy to Spike Lee. That's selling a book to a Tea Party rally.  If Bungie were a car dealership, they would be trying to appeal to the armless demographic by making every steering wheel a bear-trap.



Halo 3 stands today as the single most hyped anything in the history of consumerism. If Jesus comes back, he won't have as much build-up as this insipid swill received. It didn't fix much of what was wrong with the last game. It was still a confusing series of bullshit confrontations where it's impossible to tell how much damage has been inflicted. It still lied about the functionality of its weapons, in a genre where that's kind of important. And there's still virtually no engaging story or characters to speak of.

But at least it was pretty to look at again, and had a good soundtrack, so it was only mostly a failure. And more importantly, it revealed that the folks behind the games actually WERE good at something:

Community pandering.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Stamp

Click for full-view

Need to do stuff to keep awake, even if it's stupid stuff. Just so I can get a less weirdo sleep schedule... Or something. Shut up, I'm tired.

And I am trying to get a new webcomic off the ground. Trying to figure out if I can make something like that work on Blogspot, since I don't know how to code shit, and I think a lot of the free webcomic hosting places are a never-ending gauntlet of Sonic the Hedgehog sprite comics, furry porn, and furry Sonic the Hedgehog sprite porn comics.

I'm not saying what I have in mind is better. Just that those things are worse.

The biggest obstacle I think is that I can't figure out how, if it's even possible on Blogspot, to make the post image link into a thumbnail. One that leads to the full-size page. I'd prefer to just link the full-size page on its own, but I've been playing with the margin sizes and layout for the last hour and it would hurt the rest of the blog. And I don't really mind having to click a thumbnail or something to get a bigger image.

But that up there is as small as I can make this comic's pages here, and it would kind of suck to have a scene slightly spoiled before one could even zoom in and read the context.

Also, I'm already sick of "SPAAAACE". It's this year's "Cake is a lie" as far as overblown non-memes from Portal that weren't clever in the first place go. People have a way of going into well-written properties and only parroting the worst lines. It happened with "Hoo-ah!". It happened with "I'm Rick James, BITCH!", and it's happening here.

"Halo" belongs to Microsoft.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Classic Friday: Footprints



Since I've lost a lot of the material I was hoping to use for Classic Friday, I'm still deciding where to go with it from here. While I probably won't miss my reviews of Final Fantasy XIII and Mass Effect 2, I just realized yesterday that my writeup for Chrono Trigger is now erased from the world.

GOD DAMNIT.

Fortunately, I still have one series of articles saved. And while it's been a while since I've written them, they're very dear to my cold and shriveled blood-pumper. If you think my blog has been a sea of angsty vomit so far, know that if I ever unleashed this content you'd get tired of my unflappable optimism before long.

While I figure this stuff out, here's something I liked about the Diamond/Pearl Pokey-man games:


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Alexander Macris, Appendum

I'd like to follow-up on yesterday's post. I've been hearing that perhaps James Portnow was in the wrong in a few places, namely in how he handled the sudden cash-overflow from supportive fans. The idea being that, since Extra Credits is featured on The Escapist, then logically they must be entitled to some of this outpouring of support.

What this fails to understand is that Allison Theus' arms are NOT the property of Alexander Macris, The Escapist and Themis Group. Macris has no actual legal stake in the Rockethub donation drive. He did not help in any way. He doesn't even pay these people! THEY cover the expenses, and forum rumblings I've heard suggest they may not be the only ones he's stiffing.

Demanding $60,000 from charity donations, meant to make sure one of your employees doesn't become an amputee is psychotic. There is no justifying that. You are not entitled to being paid by your slaves volunteers, you piece of shit! Alexander Macris is a gaping hole where a human should be.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

An Open Letter To Alexander Macris


Dear Alexander Macris,

I am sending you this message to let you know that I am finished with supporting The Escapist, and all of Themis-Group's subsidiaries.

But this is not your fault. Please understand that. Maybe the whole incident with Extra Credits wasn't your fault. Maybe James Portnow is a filthy liar and you are the victim here, in a case where you felt entitled to 75% of charity funds directed to allowing a woman to continue doing the work you apparently didn't pay her for, as well as going toward an indie game scholarship.

No. The real problem lies with me.

Or maybe it's you.

You see, I was under the mistaken impression that you weren't just running a business here. I was foolish enough to believe that what was featured on The Escapist mattered to you. I was convinced that despite this magazine's myriad flaws, you would never replace all of its content with animal porn if it would bring in more traffic dollars.
It was wrong of me to assume you were a human being, Mr. Macris. This is my shame to bear. Yours is to let the single-most important video game-based webseries on the internet slip through your fingers, while holding on as tight as you can to Jim Sterling.

I mean, it's okay if all that matters to you is the money. You run a business, after all. It's not your job to concern yourself with what could make our hobbies more enriching, or our dialogue on current events more thoughtful. But don't expect me to keep giving you traffic or a subscription. When you willingly parted ways with James Portnow, Allison Theus and the other guy, you decided you don't want my business.

Actually, this decision leads me to believe you don't want anyone's business. Losing these three is going to bite you and your bottom line in the ass. If you couldn't catch more flies with honey than vinegar, people wouldn't have given more than 3 times the amount they asked for when it came time to solicit donations from fans for Allison's surgery. They cared enough about them to pay up in a time where money is already pretty scarce.

If you can't understand why people would be loyal to those they trust, who make them feel appreciated, and show their appreciation with their wallets, then you're a pretty shitty business man. And if you think you can succeed in business without that kind of audience, while treating your employees like slaves and your fans like mindless cattle, then is it any wonder you're in debt?

Photoshop couldn't make this picture any douchier.


How exactly does this benefit your compan(ies)? Do you have shareholders? How do they feel about your slippery business dealings pissing off and alienating the most patient, optimistic and reasonable human beings you'll ever meet? Is this what you had in mind when Themis Group acquired The Escapist? Do you really think letting them escape, and pissing off thousands of people who have proven they're willing to pay for this sort of content is a sound business strategy?

What do you have left? Do you really think Ben Croshaw's imp plushies are enough to sustain your salary, let alone every other expense?

Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you think we care more about you? Do you think you're why we kept coming to The Escapist, even after your forum moderators banned people for saying the words "ad-block" or for not thinking Happy-Thoughts? We've come to know and enjoy the Extra Credits crew, albeit vicariously. What do we even know about you? We can determine from your past actions that you aren't a successful man, or even a grown-up for that matter. You're certainly not good at what you do. How does it feel knowing a guy who lives with his mom and draws My Little Pony fan-art thinks you're a failure?

Not as bad as I feel, because I actually believed in your company. I would have stood by it if there were any indication that you cared at all about what you do. I was even going to get a subscription, because even though you yourself are a laughinstock, your business is home to a lot of people whose opinions are valuable to me. Enough to support financially. I held up your magazine's website as the best place to go for news about video games, movies, television and other popular culture, and with the best correspondents to go to for critical analysis and discussion of these things. If you didn't want The Escapist to be any of this, why don't you just go to work at IGN, and stop ruining a place that has potential?

If bankruptcy is what you want, I will respect your decision and encourage others to ignore you until you're homeless. Maybe you're in some sort of Brewster's Millions/The Producers situation, where you have to get rid of as much public good-will and money as possible, in order to cash in on your great-uncle's will. Fine. But don't think for a second that you can still proclaim that what you do matters. Nor can you continue to claim that The Escapist is some beacon of integrity.

Unlike you, Russ Pitts, The Escapist or Themis Group, games do matter. And so do the people who play them. I hope you understand that you could have mattered too.

~Alex Hill

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bungie, Part I

There is a new "ViDoc" out from Bungie. It details the rise and eventual fall of a company that only made decent products when they weren't burdened by the enormity of success. It is the story of a company that was founded by a bunch of college buddies renting out a cramped, stinky room, and ballooned into a faceless monolith that charges $70 to have explosive diarrhea once every few years.

Whenever a new Halo game was in development, Bungie would release "Video Documentaries" about their progress. They're certainly not the day-to-day in-depth look you'd get from Peter Jackson's video diaries, and they're more PR than anything, but I looked forward to seeing how much this company could lie through its teeth when saying how "awesome" Halo 2 was. I wrote my thesis on how that was such a steaming pile of dog shit that the games industry still hasn't quite recovered. Because of that one game, we have Xbox Live, and thus a dependence on violent, stupidity, and sequels to gray and brown FPS military masturbation.

It is a 60-minute long look at how a small company of RTS game designers ruined video games.


Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Precious Car Toons

I plan to do a list of my favourite cartoons. Probably ten, but maybe I'll be a bit generous, since I don't know when to shut up.

Actually, I was considering making one weeks ago. Socksmakepeoplesexy.net did something recently where they got a whole bunch of people to contribute their lists of favourite toons. I had a falling out with them a while back, but this was the first time I actually considered trying to make amends, because this is the type of project I'd be willing to put differences aside for.

But they know what they did, and I don't think I'm gonna get an apology after eight months of waiting, so you'll get your cartoons list here. I don't know when though. I still have a huge back-catalogue of ginormous articles I need to get through. But it's on my to-do list.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Classic Fri-

No Classic Friday this week either. BUT! This time I have a good excuse:

The article I was planning to put up today no longer exists. And it turns out I didn't have it saved anywhere. And the old site where it came from is now a dead url. It was my review of Halo 3: ODST, which I was going to get out of the way/reference in a later, much bigger article I plan to do about Bungie's history as a developer.

I feel pretty stupid right now, because I liked that one, and I was so sure I had it saved. And I thought I had more time to get it from the old site. Pretty poor planning on my part. And while I remember the basic gist of it, the only part I know word for word was the last sentence:

"[Halo] is finally about something: It's about damn time."

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Extra Credits: Art =/= Not Fun

I've got at least 5 huge posts in the works simultaneously. I'm gonna chip away at 'em over the next week. In the meantime, once again I must thrust in the general direction of James Portnow and co. and say YES. YES. THAT. WHAT THEY SAID.

Again, not the biggest Extra Credits fan, but they are right about this. The argument that we should call off the exploration of games' capacity to delve into richer themes in a mature fashion, just so we can stay in our little nostalgic box forever is part of why video games are less a hobby, and more of an industry. That attitude must be thrown overboard if we are to stay afloat.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Megatron

I've got a few articles that are taking longer to prepare than I would have liked. Sorry about the cobwebs around here because of that. In the meantime, here's something I can post:

I would like a crossover of My Little Pony and Transformers.

One of these things is not like the other.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Origin, Dragon Age

Okay. This one's going to require a bit of a history lesson. There are 3 major players in this story:

EA, Bioware and Valve.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Castlevania: Dracula Ain't No Thang

NOTE: The following is tongue-in-cheek. I feel stupid even having to point that out, but apparently there's a growing number of people who actually write like this and expect it to be taken seriously. And there's an even greater number of people stupid enough to take everything they see at face-value. And that's more terrifying than any ghoul or goblin I can think of.

~~~~~

I don't get why Dracula gets such a bad rap in the Castlevania games.

Besides his fashion sense, I mean.


What exactly did this guy do? So the guy needs blood to survive. That's not HIS fault. I can't blame you for needing food. And blood is something we naturally renew, so you don't even have to kill your victim, unlike all of those cattle we go through on a daily basis. How do you live with yourselves?

His castle shows he has fine taste(not counting the mausoleums and skull-walls and such). At least the guy has some class. How many people reading this have a bedroom as tidy and elegant as this guy's? And I don't think yours has an kickass blood-fountain or doorman who's also a Griffon. And have I mentioned he's not a sparkly dipshit metaphor for abstinence?


Friday, 22 July 2011

urgh

No classic friday today. Or posts for a little while. Been feeling under the weather the last week or so. This heat-wave isn't helping.

end of line

~a.h.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Mega Man Legends 3 Canceled

I'm sure this had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the guy championing its development for the last forever or so left the company in disgust with its ridiculous demands. Totally.

But honestly? This is probably for the best. A Mega Man Legends 3 without any input from the guy who poured his heart into it probably wouldn't have been worth the wait anyway. That said, it's still quite the dick move to give people that small shred of hope, only to snatch it away again. It certainly won't damage their bottom line, but they've certainly run out of goodwill from me.
END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mass Effect 3: James Vega



Meet Mass Effect 3's newest squad mate. In a game universe with dozens of interesting alien species that would have made fucking awesome team-mates, they give us a white guy with a douchey faux-hawk who does a lot of crunches.

Way to break the mold, Bioware.

Don't we already have Kaiden to be the boring whitie no one puts in their squad or talks to or looks at if it can be at all avoided? Do we really need another one of those? And what if you PLAY as a Commander Shepard who's a boring white guy? Well then that's half of your team being a poor man's recreation of EVERY OTHER VIDEO GAME EVER MADE.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Classic Friday: "The Game I Want"

 Damn it.

Okay, here's your Classic FriSaturday, my personal dream video game project that will be waiting for me if Heaven is real and God doesn't mind all of the masturbation:


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trends

I remember one time I was at a friend's house, and we played Halo 2 online. We joined a custom game where they were playing by rules they made up. It was called "Zombie". I don't know if it started there, or was carried over from a different game. It was based on honour rules. If you died by the enemy's hand, you had to manually switch over to the enemy's team, and now must face your former comrades. Like how after you've been bitten by a zombie, you become a part of the same mindless horde that took you down.

People liked this enough for it to be a built-in game mode in Perfect Dark Zero and Halo 3. No more having to go in and change teams by hand.

Then Gears of War 2 had the "Horde" mode, where victory is impossible and the only real goal is to see how long you can last against waves of increasingly dangerous opposition. The end is inevitable, the goal being to see how long you can cheat death. People liked this enough, so Left 4 Dead put in "Survival" mode, and Halo gave us "Firefight".

Then games like Dark Void gave us Jetpacks(although they were around during the Duke Nukem and Tribes times, they were out of vogue until recently.) We liked those, so now they're back apparently.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

One of the folks behind "Amnesia: The Dark Descent" explains the perilous road from pitching an idea to selling a completed product. He mentions Super Mario 64 as an inspiration for his horror project. Yeah.

We tend to take releases for granted, and it's a tiny miracle that any video game that isn't a guaranteed thing like Halo or Mario gets released, but Thomas Grip explains just what a nail-biting photo-finish some games turn out to be. These guys were on the precipice of closing up shop more than once, and were saved seemingly only by the occasional Steam sale. Because of this, they were able to release a game that was about atmosphere and dread instead of killstreaks.

It also means we got videos like this.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Movie Bob: Dark Matter


There are a few people whose opinions I don't always agree with, but who otherwise represent stable pillars in a sea of undulating childishness. People who would rather wait a while to let their thoughts take form, instead of racing to be the first to say something stupid. People that I sometimes look to for guidance on certain issues I feel unprepared to deal with. People whose opinions are more valuable than mine. People like Roger Ebert, Shamus Young and Pitchfork. And people like Bob Chipman.

So what happened to Bob?


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Extra Credits: A Shoulder To Lean On

Allison Theus, the artist for the show Extra Credits needs shoulder surgery badly. James Portnow, the writer of the three-pronged weekly effort put up a place to give donations. Because her insurance wouldn't cover it under a "pre-existing condition", they needed about $15,000. As of this writing, they have...

Wait WHAT???


Monday, 11 July 2011

Robosexual

I'll either have an Operation Rainfall post or an Extra Credits-related post up tomorrow. Until then, I direct your attention to this review of "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" by Roger Ebert.

Speaking as a guy who has spent way too much time thinking about a big-budget adaptation of the Mega Man X video game series re-imagined as an existentialist thought exercise about the capacity for super-intelligent machines to think or feel, this review seemed like kind of a downer. Not because I disagree, but because I think the gulf between a theoretical advanced android and a human person might not be so vast as we'd like to think. And if that did turn out to be true, then a review like Ebert's, whether he intended it or not, says more about humanity than it does about machines.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Play For Japan

Farting penis monster for charity.

No, seriously. This was going to be a post on Operation Rainfall until I saw that. Somebody thought that was a good idea for an album cover for music that's supposed to(somehow) help Japan after it's devastating hat-trick. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems like the kind of thing people would look at, and then pay Godzilla to wreck Japan even more, just to prevent art like this from happening again. Which seems like the opposite intention for disaster relief, doesn't it?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Classic Friday: "We Summon Rock"



Square-Enix is releasing a rhythm-based music game based on music from the Final Fantasy franchise. Sounds interesting to me, since I'm a huge Nobuo Uematsu dork. Today's Friday, Classic was written before the keytar was added to these games, and before the Rock Band/Guitar Hero plastic instrument franchise fad died off(or was it murdered?). That said, I still prefer my idea:


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Small Wonder

A Batman: Arkham City artist explains the gritty reboot of Robin. Because if it's one thing more video games need, it's brooding bald guys who fight people.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 4 July 2011

"Fragile Dreams" Review

(In the interest of full disclosure, I abandoned this game for a span of several months after being hopelessly stuck at one part. It was a carnival stage, and just trying to find my way out to progress to the next part of the game was an exercise in futility. I spent days combing every inch of this area, even backtracking to a previously completed mall area just in case I missed something.

Eventually I had no motivation to play Fragile Dreams anymore. I couldn't even bring myself to look at Game FAQS until several months later. This review should have been up last year, but I felt so thoroughly defeated by this game, and for all of the wrong reasons: Its art-design of a rustic, post-apocalyptic world hid a doorway that should have been in plain view, which was never pointed out on the map. The game made no effort to point me in the right direction. This was a total failure on Tri-Ace's part to communicate an objective with the player.

A year later, and I finally pushed through with the help of an online strategy guide, although no other portion of Fragile Dreams is that poorly designed. The product itself is rough around the edges, its battle system clearly an afterthought. It's clear where this game's priorities are, and they are better than most. And yes, the experience matters as much as the product itself. What does one rate a game that does many things right, and one thing outrageously wrong?)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Review Ratings

Once in a while I will post a review of something here. Movies, games, maybe an album or a novel or something else. Depends. While I believe the actual words should take precedent for whoever might read these things, I know that people don't always have time to go through an entire wall of text(which I am prone to provide, brevity not being a talent of mine).

So we come to ratings. I have a rating system which combines the needless constrictions of the "Four Star" system, and the redundant stupidity of the "...OUT OF TEN!" rating guide used by shitty video game websites. It's out of 5, but I make room for .5s too, so there's a total of 10-11 possible ratings.







(Five being a thousand blowjobs, and Zero being a thousand blowjobs, BUT they're all from the Crypt Keeper.)

For those of you curious, that's supposed to be the face of an original(pfft, HAHAHAHAHA) character I made a while back. I used to have a gamer webcomic with this guy at the same time I was writing the odd review, and I thought a symbol of his face/mask/thingy would tie in well enough. Now I guess it doesn't really serve any purpose still being there, but I like it, and it's my site, so fuck all ya'll so yeah.

I know ratings like this are stupid. Roger Ebert once wrote: "I write reviews for those who can read, not those who can count."... or something. Yeah, maybe they're dumbing down society or whatever. But that's the way the wind's been blowing for a while now, and I might as well take it seriously. Or at least, try to be consistent with how I give them out.

Just posting this so that you'll know what that weird little icon is at the top of future reviews I'll post here.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Classic Friday: "Skyward Snore"


Today's Classic Friday article sheds some light on why I'm more interested in Xenoblade than the new Zelda game: