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Alex Wilkie's blog

1:22 PM on 01.05.2014

Opinion - Remove Unlockable Difficulties

Hello Destructoids! With my recent completion of the new Zelda installment, "A Link Between Worlds", I was reminded how much I dislike the idea of an unlockable difficulty after you have completed a game. I feel like this trend has become more noticeable lately and I'll explain why it frustrates me. For the past decade, videogame releases  have been increasing exponentially. As you're reading this there are most likely several steam games collecting virtual dust on your account or some other sort of "backlog" of games that you have been meaning to complete, but haven't had the time for. With the lack of time that most people experience today, personally the last thing that I want to do after beating a 20+ hour game is to beat the same game on a harder difficulty for 20+ more hours.

Unlockable difficulties increasingly frustrate me because it usually is not necessary for you to beat the game once already. If you handed "Zelda: A Link Between Worlds" to someone and started it on its unlockable "Hero Mode", they would most likely be able to complete the game with few problems. There is no trick that you learned playing the game the first time that would make your quest any easier; there was no technique previously learned that if skipped would leave you stuck on a certain puzzle. Harder difficulties often only mean the enemies hit harder, enemies have more hit points, and resources become harder to find.

Developers only make this problem worse by including secret/alternative endings with the hardest difficulty. I shouldn't feel like I'm being held hostage because I'm a completionist and a developer decided to include a bonus ending and dangle it in front of me like a cheese danish. I think developers should leave all difficulties open from the start unless they plan on changing the gameplay beyond "Pixels hurt more and you need to hit pixels more before they implode.". If there is a new difficulty to be unlocked, it should be meaningfully more difficult, make sure there is a reason I needed to complete the game once before tackling this harder challenge.

I can understand why developers include a new difficulty as an unlockable feature, however. It adds replay-value to a game. If a game has higher replay value, it ensures a percentage of those who bought the game will play the game again after beating it. This helps keep buzz generating around the particular game. The longer that people play the game, the more they will share their fun and excitement with friends which leads to more sales. Even though issues like this are a numbers game, and developers would be insane to not do it, I wish developers would work on the merit that if their game is truly great, it will sell well, and I personally will play it again in a few years once that stale cheese danish has digested.

Thanks for reading! If you enjy awesome things like videogames, jokes, and videogame related humour then join me on Twitter ! (I follow others who enjoy similar awesome things :D). Have a great new year and be happy!   read

1:53 PM on 12.25.2013

Top 5 Game Breaking Bugs

You just bought an amazing new game. You blaze home in your run down car and try to not slip over the ice on the driveway as you make your way to the door. You tear off that overcoat and rip into the shrink wrap like there's no tomorrow. You finally load the game and let the first notes of the start up screen fill your ears. This game is amazing, you've never played anything like it. Then it're 2 hours in and you come across a bug....A bug that is so game breaking you cannot even continue. The only thing left to do is turn off the system and watch "The Price is Right" re-runs on your wasted fake sick day. Here are my top 5 game breaking video-game bugs.

#5. Fire Ant (Fallout 3)   

These Fire ants give the term a whole new meaning with flamethrowers mounted on their tonsils. These giant bugs from Fall Out 3 are capable of burning down entire cities with their built in foreman grills. What's even worse is that these bugs were genetically mutated by a fellow man (Dr. Lesko)! Lesko sounds more like a name for a soda brand then a Doctor if you ask me. Take that bug nerds!

#4. King Zing (Donkey Kong Land 2: Diddy's Kong Quest) 

This buzzing monstrosity is one of the bosses in Donkey Kong Land 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. The noise that this bee makes is purely mind numbing. You'll find yourself screaming like Nicholas Cage in "The Wicker Man" if you don't bring down this foe fast enough. The only thing capable of defeating such a creature? Coconuts. And lots of them. I hope you have a pet parrot capable of shooting coco-puffs from its gullet handy!

#3. Wiggler (Super Mario World) 

This seemingly friendly character made its first appearance in Super Mario World. They seem nice enough but beneath that courteous visage they boil and bubble with a hatred for all things. You know when they interview a serial killer's neighbours and no one suspected them of being crazy because they were such a nice person? Yeah, Wiggler.

#2. Zerg (Starcraft) 

If you're not good at Star Craft some 13 year old will 6 pool you so fast you won't have time to type "glhf". Better block off that ramp or you're done for. Zerg are so infamous that you may not even play Star Craft but you have probably heard of the term "Zerg Rush". Zerg are capable of amassing an army so fast that they can bum-rush their opponents harder than a swarm at the local Wal-Mart during Black Friday.

 #1. Caterpie (Pokemon)

The baddest bug of them all. This bug from the Pokemon series will eat you alive after it slows you down with a good string shot. Caterpie is the Zubat of Viridian Forest and will tear your starter Pokemon apart. The only thing capable of taking down this micro-menace? Bug Catcher Joey.

Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays everyone. Follow me on Twitter @AlexJWilkie for more jokes/video-game humour and updates of my blog! Enjoy your time spent with friends and family, be kind to others and laugh lots!   read

12:29 PM on 12.03.2013

Is Pokemon meant for children only?

With the recent release of Game Freak's newest Pokemon installment, X/Y, I see this statement posed frequently. Although the phrase is often said by griefers and bridge dwellers, is it completely without merit? What are their reasons and are they valid points?

Arguably, children have and always will be the main target demographic for all things Pokemon. The main character is a ten year-old boy/girl who sets out on a journey to become the next Pokemon Champion (other adults in the games are surprisingly less ambitious). The plot for all Pokemon games can often be described as simple and light-hearted, with prominent themes of love and friendship. The stories are hardly complex, sometimes border-lining on the absurd, and feature little character development. You also face off against a criminal organization in each new iteration of the main series. These adult criminals give you key codes for defeating them and let children pass by and wander their HQ to foil their plans. Why? Because your dog-fighting team beat their dog-fighting team - that's why. In X/Y, the main villain calls you on your holo-caster to tell you about his malicious plans before he enacts them. It follows a classic cartoon-like plot of telling the protagonist their plans for destruction right before enacting them. At least Team Flare is polite.

Critics also cite the game's lack of difficulty. Considering the newly changed EXP Share, it is easy to zip through levels and over-level your Pokemon within the first portion of the game. While EXP Share can be turned off, making the player grind more does not indicate a higher level of difficulty. The Pokemon-type chart is just a more complex game of boldore-paper-scizor. Gym-Leaders use one type of Pokemon and can be swept with a single Pokemon if planned properly. Most Gym-Leaders, trainers, and rivals do not even take advantage of the 6 Pokemon cap. Most players can fill up their Pokemon roster within the first few gyms, but your rival is still using the same 3 Pokemon at the 6th gym. The Trainer AI is also nothing to write home about. I fought a trainer who used a move called "Power Trick", which swaps your Attack and Defense stats. There's nothing wrong with using this move, but I sighed with frustration when they pointlessly used it again immediately after. Pokemon fans would cite the self-imposed 'Nuzlocke challenge' as a challenging endeavour, but I will not comment on it since it is not a game-feature intended to be implemented by the developer.

However, the main story is not all there is to Pokemon. Most people fail to consider that there is a deeply established meta-game in the online community. At a closer look, the game features complex mathematical formulas when analyzing IVs. A Pokemon must have proper EV training, the correct nature, and a carefully planned move-set. There are different kinds of teams to build and even established brackets ranging from the Over-Used bracket to the unconventional Never-Used bracket. Each bracket features different ways of battling that can be fun and changes the way you look at otherwise useless Pokemon. Hardcore fans spend hundreds of hours perfecting various teams and using them for battle against their friends. The online features, in particular, favour an older audience, especially if you want to take online battling seriously. It takes a certain amount of dedication to wrap one's head around all of the finer points of breeding and the online meta-game.

X/Y, in particular, caters to old fans of the series, whether they have played the recent games or not. Those who were alive to turn on their Gameboys and load up their first game of Pokemon Red/Blue are most likely now in their 20's. Game Freak has arguably utilized Pokemon X/Y to entice old fans of the series to revisit their past roots. Game Freak has included the old 1st-generation starters, along with an abundance of classic 1st-generation Pokemon in the new games. The game certainly must bring back feelings of nostalgia for those who have not picked up the series for several years.

Who is to say what is "adult" and what is not? The game is rated "E for Everyone" and in my opinion anyone who needs to use the word "adult" as a tool for exclusion is not an adult themselves. One can more easily make the argument that "Barbie: Jet, Set, & Style!" (10/10 by the way) is a kids game despite having the same "E for Everyone" label. But these kind of games more blatantly try to cater to children only. Pokemon games do tend to cater more towards children because that is where most of their sales come from, and understandably so! Arguably the plot is written with a young audience in mind, but that is not an indication that they are meant for children exclusively.

Why let someone tell you what games you should or should not enjoy based on your age anyway? Games were not originally created with a specific target audience in mind. Decades from now, there will most likely be a much larger demographic of adults who enjoy video-games because that is what they grew up with and the industry is only getting bigger. If someone enjoys a game, then that should be enough merit for them. You wouldn't make fun of someone for doing a cross-word puzzle because it's for old people, would you? Let yourself be the judge of your own entertainment and go from there. Now if you will excuse me, my Barbie just unlocked a new wave runner.

Thanks for reading my first blog Destructoids! I'm still not sure what to call you...Leave a comment on your thoughts, upvote if you enjoyed it. You can follow me on Twitter: for updates on my blog and some laughs!   read

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