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11:03 AM on 06.04.2010

Save Points Are Ultimately Bullsh*t

In recent years as we all know technology has progressed, 16 bit became 32 bit, which became 64 bit, which became... okay we kinda blew off the whole "bit" thing around that point but you see my point, technology has advanced, we have handhelds with more power that the PS1 on the market right now and Nintendo is working on a 3d handheld that just might be as powerful as a Gamecube.

So why do we still see save points in video games?

You might remember (but not likely) that some months ago I decided to play reviewer for a day and review Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echos of Time for the DS, a Game I generaly ripped a shiny new asshole.

You see that game had one of the worst save systems in the history of DS games, you could save in town, or before the boss, that was about it. That opened it self up to the situation where I would of had to stop played upwards of 30 minutes before I should of had to. because that was the span of time a typical dungeon would take.

You look on the flip-side of this coin and you have "The World ends with you" also for the DS which did feature a "save anywhere" feature and was a far better game for it, or at least I wasan't adding wherever or not I could make it to the next save point or not before running out of time or battery into my gameplay strategy.

So I guess the real question I just spent 4 paragraphs and an extra line trying to reach is "Do save points still have a place in video games"

Well believe it or not, they just might.

A couple games that did save points well enough, or at least well enough that I didn't really think about them was "Dead Space" which I played on the PC, And "No More heroes" for the Wii, In the case of Dead Space, the save points were generally spaced out very well, sometimes a bit too well and eliminated a bit of the fear of my violent and messy death, but they weren't super obvious, just walk up to a small panel on the wall with a camera and BAM, your progress is saved. No more Heroes on the other hand spaced them out in a simular fashion to Echo's of time, and yet even then, didn't really seem to mind it or care, more than likely because it was on a console, the missions didn't take 30 to 45 minutes, and your save point was a toilet.

Maybe that was the trick to making the save point work in these two cases was to make them part of the environment, it's not like your typical JRPG bullshit where the save points are some glowly crystals, cute fuzzy animal with a note pad, or jail-bait school girl tied to a post (I made that last one up) so it's more obvious and maybe even immersion breaking to have something obvious as a save-point.

But even if they fit all so huggy well into the environment, does this relic of ancient NES days still have a place in gaming? would have Dead-space been better suited for just being able to smash f5? Ultimately that's your decision, but like I said in the Title, to me at least, save points are ultimately bullshit.   read

9:22 PM on 10.14.2009

Mass Transit Gamer EP1: Final Fantasy: Echos of Time

The Premise

Okay before I get started it has occurred to me recently that when you read portable gaming reviews, that not many of them take into account that these games should be on paper, designed to be played on the go, many reviews don't take into account things that mass transit users care about. like save systems, especially when you may need to save quickly, instead focusing on something like say.... Online... Which is fine for platforms like the iPhone but not so useful when your talking about the Nintendo DS which requires a Wifi Connection which isn't reliable when driving down a road at 35 miles per hour.

So here's the point of this series, I take a portable game, for now limited to DS games since I still have to pay for these things, and review them, but rather than focus on graphics and game-play, I strictly review how mass transit friendly these so called portable games really are.

So here's how this works, I play the games on my bus route to and from work, which is roughly 90 minutes, which between 1 and 2 transfers. I play the game, takes notes and write it the review once I have either beaten the game or got far enough to get an impression of if it is a good game for your mass transit needs. All reviews are written before I look at the Metacritic score to compare my score to.

The game

So Final Fantasy: Echos of Time for those of you not in the know, or really don't care, is part of the Square-Enix Series that Debut on the Gamecube often remembered as that one Final Fantasy game that required 1 or more GBA's to play multi-play. Incidentally this game was billed for having the ability to Wifi Multi-play with the Wii version of the same game which should be a bit of a clue as to where I'm going with this.

See the first problem is that this game feels like it was designed with Multi-play at it's core, Many of the games puzzles are far more tedious than they have to be because of this design and thus something as simple as hitting a switch and dragging a block out of a box before the time runs out is a chore that takes at least two or more attempts, and one quickly begins to wish for a second person for there help.

But this is MTG so the common assumption that Multi-play is going to be unlikely, not having online play as an option to you, you have to rely on the possibly of a second person to be riding ones mass transit option of choice to help out out, otherwise your doing this all alone. This has the effect of increasing the amount of time your in a dungeon which could be up 90 minutes in length if your going through your first time.

This leads to the second major problem with this game, the save system. In this day in age we have the technology to get away from save points. They either lead to back tracking, or rushing ahead possibly trying to get to the next save point just to keep from losing progress, and if you consider that "The World Ends With You" also by Square Enix, Had the ability to save anywhere, a full year before this game came out, one really has to ask why this game still requires it besides it being a relic from the older Final Fantasy games from the SNES days.

The major issue with the use of save points is made worse by their locations, you only find Save points in town, and no you can't save on the world map, and just before a boss in a dungeon. So lets assume your playing a dungeon for the first time, you can't quite solve all the puzzles in a particular dungeon before your reach the boss checkpoint because you reached your destination, what are your options, well you can quit back to the map screen run back to town and save and pick up the game later on.

Or can you? You see dungeons reset when you leave them, monsters reappear, Puzzles unsolve themselves, you have to start the dungeon all over again from the start, so your time, and battery life, were wasted, and that is the very essence of frustration.

So to summarize for those who saw this and said TL:DR Your fighting the double team of a Multi-play focus and Poor Save system for a game that is fun while at home, but a exercise in frustration in Mass Transit.

Mass Transit Gamer Score: 45
Metacritic Score: 75

So there you go, if you feel like I have slighted your personal honor for giving a Square-Enix game a poor shake, or if you agree with what I said, or if you think this is a waste of our finite internet resource, drop a comment, and stay tune till next time, probably in about a week or so when I MTG review the next Game on my list, the DS game Draglade   read

6:19 PM on 03.19.2009

BLOG BY PIXELS: EP3: The Imperium is not recession proof.

The Blood Ravens are in a sad state of affairs in Dawn of war 2 are they not? I mean they got somewhere around 11 marines fighting a three pronged war against 3 very hostile races across 3 planets in a star system and to make maters worse, they have to scavenge there equipment from the battlefield itself.

I'm not going to make this a full on review of the game, I'll leave that for people who get paid to do that sort of thing I just felt that the changes from Dawn of war to it's Sequel leaves for some interesting color commentary

Now this is of course not to say that the current state of affairs in DOW2 for the Blood Ravens is not of there own cause. Like our current Recession the blood ravens have made some rather dubious Decisions in the housing markets, don't believe me? well lets look at there dawn of war 1 exploits.

During the Tartarus Campaign the Blood Ravens under the command of Gabriel Angelos went on a Campaign aganst three hostile races in trying to rescue the people of Tartarus before the world was consumed by a warp storm. Now the planet was for all intents and purposes, fucked... So how many plots of real state did the Blood Ravens set up before the planet was consumed at the end of the campaign? Well you built a base in each of the ten missions so, Ten strongholds and ten barracks, and so on and so forth. considering that they went down with 100 Marines your looking at Ten Marines per base held in the campaign.

Fast forward a bit to Davian Thule's campaign on Kronus Where he led 3 companies to battle to take the world over from damn near every Warhammer 40,000 race in existence. Not only did he waste a startling amount of resources building up to 20ish Bases on the planet, But then he for giggles decided to piss troops away killing the Imperial guard on the planet who were supposed to be Allies!

Don't even get me started on Soulstorm, wasting half the chapter and not even winning!

I can see it now, Somewhere on Terra, The Emperors loyal Certified Public Accountant number 3,234,987 is over viewing Chapter expenses when he comes across the Blood Ravens expenses for the last few campaigns. In a slight almost inaudible gasp of mind numbing terror he reads on, billions spent on wars, and all in the last century, Probably spent 12 times as much as any three chapters combined!

In quivering horror this lone CPA reaches over for a red button on his console and pounds it with a cybernetic fist calling down the emperors holy Extermanius on the blood ravens annual budget! Before whispering

"God dammit! Don't they know there's a Recession on!"   read

2:44 PM on 03.19.2009

BLOG BY PIXELS: EP2 Sadly I'm Not Joking

(Orignal posting date: January 20, 2009)

So I recently started playing the game Song Summoner That I downloaded to my iPod Nano using a iTunes card I got for Christmas, which is where I got the idea for this post.

Now the game follows a rather innovative Idea, and I'm pretty much a sucker for innovative ideas, that as Ziggy, you have the power to create solders from music, or in this case the music on your iPod.

Now I've seen some odd combination, "Bark at the moon" spewed out a rather powerful Platinum "Woody" Archer, and the Disturbed song "Guarded" Made a silver class "Little sister" Monk.

But the other interesting thing is that the game, while it's not running tracks how often the songs used making the characters are played to give points which you can enhance your team in battle, which i'm blatently cheating at by making a playlist of all the songs and running it on a loop while my iPod charges...

Anit I clever....

So I guess if you have five bucks on an iTunes card you want to get rid of, this game is a good way to do it. I'm having fun with it and i'm sure you will too :D   read

2:35 PM on 03.19.2009

BLOG BY PIXELS: EP1 Improving technology

(Archived blog post from 1-14-09)

Okay show of hands, how many of you have ever owned a Nerf gun in your life? I mean remember back in the nineties where Nerf guns were clunky inaccurate, generally low tech?

I recall that the first Nerf "gun" I owned was a first model ball launcher, you crammed the ball in there like a flint lock, pulled back pulling air into a tube, and pushed forward "pushing" the ball out of the tube with air pressure.....

In fact this was it....

Now just last year we got the N-strike Vulcan, Which is basically a freaking light machine gun, and has a 25 shot belt fed capacity.... Comparing this thing to what I had when I was 9 would be like comparing a matchlock to a M60.......

And there's talk of some of the guns from the N-strike Video game being made into actual guns next year, yeah like we didn't see that coming..... Hell of a marketing strategy, now if they made that Vulcan from the game into a real product, I would be death destroyer of worlds :D   read

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