Thursday, 30 June 2011

An Open Letter To Reggie Fils-Aime

Dear Reggie,

I can't presume to know the process for localizing a Japanese game for a western audience. I don't know which Game Fairy waves the magic wand that makes the entertainment disc in my Videroo-tron machine deliver the fun-times, and which are banished to the land of frowns. That's how it goes, right? I don't work in video games, I'm still a bit hazy on that.

I also cannot speak for Operation Rainfall, or say if even half of them would be true to their word if "Xenoblade", "The Last Story" or "Pandora's Tower" were released in my country. And I certainly can't say if those games are actually any good, because I haven't been able to play them. As far as I know, it may not even be Nintendo's call on whether the U.S. and Canada would get to purchase these games.

What I can tell you is that those three games are not shovelware. They are not sequels to established franchises. They appear to have an emphasis on story and characters, and feature unique visual aesthetic and control schemes. At least one of them I can confirm has an unbelievable soundtrack. This is what we need more of in video games today. They are the kind of games I am willing to pay for.

Your company has been unafraid in the past to release games for the Nintendo Wii which were big risks to your bottom line. Niche titles that deserved to be seen and experienced, even if only by a few people. Because of that, I was able to purchase "Zack & Wiki", and "Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon". Your company gave "Okami", a critical darling that undersold on its original release a second chance. Your company releases and/or publishes games about solving mysteries and puzzle-solving instead of sensational violence. I cannot always say the same for your two biggest competitors.

I wish I could make those big promises, that supporting titles like those featured in Operation Rainfall will be a positive influence on your company's bottom line. All I can promise is that if Nintendo of America decides to release any of those three titles where I can purchase them, I will. You will absolutely have at least one sale. You will have my money.


~Alex Hill

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Metroidvania Mishaps

After completely missing the boat when it came out, I picked up Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which the internet has apparently decided is the best in the series, if what every conversation about Castlevania anyone has ever had is any indication. I'm more for the GBA installments myself, "Aria of Sorrow" being my personal favourite of the bunch. To my surprise, I discovered that all of the GBA games are just Konami cashing in on Symphony of the Night's structure and mechanics over and over again.

With the exception that the newer games are actually good. It was pretty obvious this concept of the open world dungeon crawl needed a few things wrinkled out.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Video Games Are Free Speech

[This link opens a .pdf file with the verdict.]

The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that California can go suck it video games(and certainly violent video games) should be protected as free speech under the constitution, like any other legitimate art-form. Let's all celebrate by murdering someone! =D

Thank You, Internet




Sunday, 26 June 2011

I Don't Even Comma What Is This

It is my belief that Hideo Kojima is, for all intents and purposes, mentally ill. But he ain't stupid. He can see the writing on the wall when it comes to designing/selling a game for an international audience vs. a local audience. I don't know if I like everything he's suggesting(which basically amounts to developer segregation as the true path to international success). But I'd rather have more people in video games today like him than even one more Bobby Kotick...

...who is apparently starring in a Brad Pitt movie. For some reason.

Initial reports suggest he's playing a shithead billionaire. Way to colour outside the lines there, Bobby. Who does Brad Pitt play, someone handsome?


Friday, 24 June 2011

Classic Friday: "I'll Handle This..."

For today's Classic Friday, I'm going to bring up my one suggestion for a new playable character in the Smash Bros. series, since apparently we're getting a couple more of those in the future:

Extra Credits: Game Reviews

James Portnow and the other two whose names I can never remember are talking this week about what's wrong with Game Reviews, how they're hurting the medium from a credibility AND a practicality standpoint, and how they can be improved. As someone who once dreamed of being a game critic, and who then woke up to the disgusting realization that not only is it a profession mainly for slobs and corporate prostitutes, but that any real talent is actually shunned there, this episode appealed to me. I've been looking forward to this one.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

LulzSec Get Hacked

...Or not. The owner of the hacked site claims he's not involved in any way. Still, I know a declaration of war when I see it.

Don't get me wrong: Every hacker is an asshole, no matter what group they might affiliate with. But LulzSec is basically the virgin equivalent of Bobby Kotick. Even among douchebags they're looked on with contempt. Seeing them get a taste of their own medicine would be the sweetest sour grapes one could taste.



Sunday, 19 June 2011

Game Republic

So developer Game Republic vacated its offices, shut down its website and its CEO, Yoshiki Okamoto is apparently missing. Unlike a lot of developers that go bankrupt or otherwise fizzle out, this didn't appear to anyone on this side of the planet to be some long, drawn out, impending doom. Game Republic didn't appear from the outside to be dying a slow and torturous death like most developers who close their doors. I'm sure it was, but you wouldn't think it with the abruptness with which this news came. I didn't even know they were in financial trouble. I was looking forward to Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Okamoto is a veteran of Konami AND Capcom, apparently having hired the artist who designed the characters for Street Fighter, and he had a hand in the first Resident Evil. It didn't seem at all like this was a guy in massive debt, let alone from "disreputable sources".

Very peculiar turn of events.



Saturday, 18 June 2011

Edgy Edgertron

Two things today:

1.) Tim Langdell made a career out of trolling people with copyrights if they used the word "Edge" in their games or product's titles. At least one indie developer spent months and thousands of dollars making a video game on his own time, only for this cockbag to muscle him out of the profits to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle. Then he tried to take on Edge Magazine.

I think just about anywhere you go, the justice system is going to be a little fucked. But I don't think there is a word in the English language to describe the reaming Tim Langdell got in court recently. This man and his dubious practice were not merely defeated; they were pulverized, down to the molecular level. Maybe it's wrong to be celebrating the public downfall of a complete jackass(see: Anthony Wiener), but if anyone deserved to be bent over the judicial barrel for all to see, it's this butthole. No one can say he doesn't deserve this, or that games in general won't be better off for it now that he knows he can't get away with that shit anymore.


And 2.) Bioware is finally going to include the Female Shepard in their marketing for Mass Effect 3. In addition to the male variety.

Good. This is the right way to go about it, I think. Not one or the other, but both the male and female versions of Commander Shepard in the advertisements. To show that you have the option. And it'll be nice to see something other than BALD SCOWLING SPACE MARINE on the cover of a game where he doesn't really fit in(at least on the Collector's Edition).

Yes, this matters. There is a different, underlying context depending on the gender you play as in these games(and certainly everyone who plays the Mass Effect game has their preference for who is voicing this character, be it Jennifer Hale or the robot they got the play the dudebro version). Some squad-members are simply... there, if you're playing as a man or a woman. Just occupying space and not really advancing the story in any meaningful way. A switch of the gender of your main star can make those same characters integral to the interpersonal dynamic of your team. Representing both options here is only going to do this company good.

I wonder if they'll go with the default look for FemmeShep(as they went with the default male version for the marketing in the last two games), or if they'll get a little more creative with it. While my version of Shepard doesn't stray too far from the default settings, I'm kind of hoping Bioware goes with a dark-skinned take on her. Probably won't happen, but it'd be a nice gesture at least.



Friday, 17 June 2011

Classic Friday's Covered Wars, You Know

Since I've been on a Dead Rising: Case Zero kick lately, I thought I'd repost my thoughts on the first game in the series:

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Yesterday I purchased Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. Today I have conquered it. And that one 24-hour span was worth more to me than every infuriating hour spent trying to succeed its predecessor. I always thought the idea of Dead Rising was a solid one, unfortunately marred by some pretty awful game design decisions.

No Otis. No constant, unskippable "phone calls" in unreadable text that disarms you while you're surrounded by zombies. A main character who isn't an ugly, unlikable cunt. A main goal that's a little less vague and a little more personal. A location that feels more grounded in reality and less zany than a mall or a casino. More than one save file.The ability to perform well enough on your first playthrough, instead of having to fail miserably and level-grind through multiple campaigns. A boss fight that isn't cheap as hell. A vehicle segment that is relatively quick and painless.

Nearly everything I hated about Dead Rising is gone, and they threw in customizable weapon combinations in their place.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Golf Clap

Yesterday Lulzsec (think Anonymous' annoying younger brother with aspergers) temporarily took down EVE Online, The Escapist's website and Minecraft. Yeah, that'll learn 'em! Because that giant faceless conglomerate Minecraft needs to be taken down a peg?

If I may direct the rest of this article to those who did the actual haxxorz:

Seriously guys? THESE are your targets? At least Anonymous sometimes, maybe accidentally chooses to ruin the day of people who might deserve it. But see, no matter how much good they might do, they tend to immediately go and do something horrible to counter it. Like, say, sending death threats to an underage girl because she wouldn't show them something that can get you landed in jail.

But you, the Lulzship(or whatever the fuck it's called)? You had the chance to do something that could have gotten people on your side. You could have been what Anonymous can't, and been a lot less morally ambiguous about it while maybe making a point(perhaps sending a message to major companies to take online security a little more seriously than Sony did). And instead you're picking on a one-man indie success story and the place where Moviebob posts videos?

And for what, "Teh lulz"? Credit card info? You're able to bring companies' online infrastructures to their knees, and this where you cast the gaze of Sauron? Bravo, sirs. You managed to get a lot of people who would have been on your side to call you fags(and if they aren't, I sure am).



Tuesday, 14 June 2011


I hate to say this, but David Jaffe is right. Game criticism today is this pathetic, limp-wristed thing that's too easy to ignore. A games review has no teeth. Even the better reviews(that aren't just corporate whores for IGN or Gamespot) aren't particularly well-written, and are even downright condescending. They use a lot of tired lingo that (I assume) they think we NEED to hear, to the point where it sounds like a 9th grader's book report than something a human adult typed out. And lord, do we ever need to get rid of those scores at the end. It's not the same as the Four Stars system. No professional critic ever feels the compulsive urge to literally type "I GIVE THIS FIVE GOATS OUT OF BLIMP".

We're still looking for our Roger Eberts, our Gene Siskels, our Pauline Kaels, our Leonard Maltins and so on. All we've got now are some Harry Knowles and Armond Whites. I mean, I sincerely doubt just having respectable critics is going to get video gaming's head out of its ass, but it'd be a good start.

The best people talking about games, I've found, are those who aren't really game critics. Folks like Shamus Young and James Portnow tend to talk about games incidentally, instead of specifically. I'm sure some good effort can be found here and there, and I know I'm forgetting some good people here. But I think what this comes down to is that there's no, if I may use an old chestnut here, "champion of criticism" for video games. We're looking for a Hero, which oddly enough I don't know if that's really the right way to go about it. I mean, we compare to movie criticism, but they don't have just one identifiable champion or anything. Everyone has their personal favourite.

Yeah, they have Ebert and Kael and all of those people, but movies don't depend entirely on them. Come to think of it, maybe this is a sort of chicken and the egg problem. Games are bad, because game critics don't give theme enough incentive to be better. Game critics are bad because games aren't giving them opportunities to take them seriously. The great circle of shit.

And by only telling you what you already know here, while not really going anywhere with this or offering some sort of solution or point, I've... pretty much accomplished exactly as much as a modern game critic.I guess I'm not the right man for the job.



Saturday, 11 June 2011

Classic Friday: "Throwback Galaxy"

Damnit. One of these days, I'll get it in on time. This week's "Classic Sat-er, Friday" is a reminder of why I'm a little cautious about that upcoming Super Mario 3D:

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Obligatory E3 Reaction Post 2011

  • That new "Overstrike" thing by Insomniac looks interesting. If nothing else, Ratchet & Clank has given these people a hell of a lot of practice with animation, and it shows here.
  • A new Luigi's Mansion? That was a pleasant surprise. Glad to see that's gettin' some lovin'.
  • One of the tech demos they had there was "New Super Mario Bros. Mii". Mii, not Wii. As in: "Play with one of the Miis you've created, instead of two Toads"... I'm really not sure why they didn't just do that in the first place.
  • Bald Guy #12 Billion from "Infamous" is going to be in... Street Fighter? Seriously guys? Couldn't find a more boring, forgettable character design to include? (Well, okay, it's HALF a Tekken game...)
  • Minecraft is being released for the Xbox 360... AFTER I already bought the knockoff "Fortress Craft". Them's the breaks.

  • New Smash Bros. for 3DS. Masahiro Sakurai will be working on it right after he's done with Kid Icarus. Totally called that one.

  • ...I kind of like the Wii U. I don't get why the stock is lowering upon its announcement(although their stock price lowered before the Wii gave them infinity jillion dollars, so maybe people just like to over-react). It's not blowing my mind, I have a few concerns, but no outright complaints. I mean, it's finally caught up to the other boys in this thing in terms of technicaly horsepower, and it looks like the controller has some potential. Although I have to wonder how they're going to sell this to the casual crowd, since the original Wii owes a lot of its success to not just the hardcore crowd, but also to the exercisers. The folks who made it another part of their daily workout regimen. This doesn't look like it'll be making you as active.

    But hey, four friends playing-

    Wait, what? Only player per console? WHAT? On a Nintendo console?

    Are you KIDDING Me?!

    Oh, you can still use Wiimotes you may already own. Still, that's kind of stupid. I can see why some people aren't totally on board now. For a multiplayer-centric game developer, that's a bizarre limitation. These guys aren't exactly known for their robust online services to compensate for this sort of thing.

    In any case, I'll wait and see. I don't know how much it costs, and I'll wait to see what kind of lineup it has at launch, but I'm still closer to optimistic about this one. If nothing else, I've been going through an OMG WOE IS ME wangst-parade lately, and this did boost my spirits a little. I'm not sure why, but I won't argue with results(if they're any good).

  • It's sad how little embarrassments have occurred at E3. Not one of the Big Three (Nintendo, Microsoft and Colecovision) had a particularly BAD showing this year. No horrible drumming pantomime, no "Riiiidge Racerrrr!", no Peter Moore being... er, Peter Moore. It looks like everyone'll be happy this year. Sadly, this leaves us with very little material for youtube poops and humorous animated .gifs...

    Wait... what's that, Ubi-Soft? You're not afraid of a few dick jokes? Good, that's going to come in handy.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Halo: On Stranger Tides

Recently a friend of mine became fed up with my negative outlook. He said, and I quote: "You're worse than Yahtzee." He said this, because I was not as shocked or outraged as him that Microsoft is going to make MOAR HALOZ.

I'll talk more about those later. For now, I'm still reeling from that conversation. It's like, what was he expecting? Did he really think anyone at Microsoft would stand up in a board-room meeting and say: "Hey, let's never make another entry of that game series that gives us hundreds of millions of dollars every few years!" Because I'm sure people in those fancy offices are just itchin' to not be rich anymore.

It's like expecting Nintendo to never make another Zelda, or Pepsi to suddenly stop selling soft-drinks. Why would they do this, when there's no financial incentive to stop, the demand is still there, and as long as people are still willing to pay so much for this crap?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Classic Friday: Saturday Edition

Oops. Forgot to do another one of these on Friday. Sorry about that.

The following post was originally made on June 25th, 2009. It's about spiders:

Friday, 3 June 2011

Don't Rock The Boat

Boy, these guys are just bending Sony over a barrel lately, aren't they? Just when they're getting PSN back up and running too.

Not that I'm sympathetic to either side. Ultimately it's the people with personal-information on display who suffer here. But still. Damn.

What do you suppose it'll take to get hackers to stop? I get the feeling as this stuff happens more and more, and even if new, impassable security measures existed and were put into place, would they abide by some code of honour to cease? Or at least pick a new target? Will it just be sheer boredom that will cause these attacks to die down? Seems like one of those things that Sony could do everything right to protect against and still couldn't prevent.

I'm not sure what the answer is... I mean, beside everyone who is affected to change their passwords and cancel dem credit cards, yo.



Thursday, 2 June 2011

Kingdom Hearts: Galvatron

Yes, it has come to my attention that Leonard Nimoy played the main antagonist in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. This pleases me. Maybe it shouldn't be surprising, because these games have always had excellent casting. The pinnacle for me being Christopher Lee in the second game. He helped give a functionally retarded plot some much needed dignity.

Now, Nimoy's no Christopher Lee, but I've always had a fondness for his collective body of work, and not just Star Trek either. I especially like the odd voice acting roles he's done, like that old asshole from "The Halloween Tree". And who could forget the narration from "Seaman"? I'm even considering seeing the third Transformers movie because of his presence there as the voice of "Sentinel Prime". Even though I am well aware of how hellish an evening like that sounds.

And that's not the only surprise with Birth By Sleep. I knew that they had based a wise, old mentor character off of Hironobu Sakaguchi, former big-wig at the developer "Square-Enix". He pulled that company out of near-bankruptcy in the 80's and his flagship franchise is one of the few things keeping this shambling corpse of a company upright. And they named his tribute character "Eraqus", an anagram of "Square".

I knew that.

What I didn't know was that they got Mark Hamill to do his voice(1:05 in.)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The 3DS isn't selling very well in Japan. And people are trying to figure out why. Much of this can be attributed to the cost, concerns/troubles with the 3D aspect, the sluggish battery life and the lack of "must-have" titles, all valid arguments.

But it's like, guys, they just had THREE DISASTERS IN A ROW. Can we cut these people some slack if they've got more important things to spend their money on than a shiny new game console? Like say, rebuilding their shattered homes? Is this actually a mystery to someone?