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4:28 PM on 04.13.2009

Do you like the Madworld Soundtrack? (shortblog/contest)

Anyone who's played Madworld will know that the soundtrack is awesome. A really cool fusion of rock and hip-hop, it's one of the few soundtracks that I will listen to outside of the game and apart from the commentators, it's probably my favorite part of the game.

This CD is playing non-stop in my laptop/ipod at the moment and I have 2 copies to give away to anyone who wants one. Just leave a comment and pm me your address and I will send one out to you. I'm feeling generous so I don't mind sending it to anywhere in the world but of course first come, first served.

I've added a high-res picture of the back of the CD so you can see the track listing.   read

7:23 PM on 03.01.2009

Capcom Resident Evil 5 Gamers Day SD Sony Mega Remix version 2 Event

A while back Capcom held a special event for fans to try out Resident Evil 5 and the response was so good that they decided to hold a little RE5 community party at Sonyís HQ over the weekend. Thanks to the always awesome CTZ, Wardrox and I were able to attend this swanky invite only shin-dig and see what all the fuss is about.

I'm not going to say much about the game here (I'll try and do another post on that soon and Wardrox has beaten me to it) but I will say that the controls are superb and the game is bloody brilliant. What I will talk about is the actual event which was very chilled out. There were no NDAs to sign, no windy corridors to navigate, no smoke and mirrors or blindfolds, just the game, some food and good times. Speaking of the game, the version we played was very clearly labeled on the title screen as "review copy." We found this to be a little odd as the game was playing in SD through a big HD TV and some textures were clearly not polished/finished and this was increasingly apparent in the cut-scenes. I always thought that review copies were the same as the retail copies except maybe missing a few features such as online multiplayer. Wardrox and I both agreed that the demo on Xbox live/PSN looked better but hell the game is still ace.

Anyways, back to the event. The day started off great. After meeting up with Wardrox we ventured to Sony HQ and as soon as we entered the building and signed our names in the guest book we were greeted by the Capcom community manager Chiara who was really friendly and she addressed us as "the dtoiders." I'm not sure what she was expecting from us but I really liked the fact that she refers to descructoid as dtoid. In hindsight maybe I should have dressed up as a shark to honor the great CTZ. We were then given some funky zombie themed name-tags and ushered into a room around the corner where about a dozen PS3s were set up and just parked out arses down and got stuck into the game.

(photo taken from

I think we got to the part just before the first level of the demo before we were told that it was lunch time! Coming out of the room and turning the other corner led us straight to the cafeteria and since this was a Resident Evil event the menu had a zombie theme running through it. We had the delicious choice of severed fingers (Ribs), satayed entrails (chicken satays), road kill pizza (you would have thought that this had meat on it but it was vegetable pizza), mashed zombie brains (strawberries and cream thingy) and gingerbread men covered in adorable chocolate stitches.

(photo taken from

Now I could write a whole blog about how good the food was. I kind of imagine that the food at any kind of event where it's free, sort of tastes like 3 week old school microwave dinners run through a dead mans pants but the food here was incredible. It was so good that Wardrox and I even contemplated just staying there and eating all the food and taking some home. I mean RE5 comes out in 2 weeks but when will be able to eat this food in Sony HQ again? Those Sony boys really know how to cook up a feast!

We eventually had our fill and made our way back to play some more RE5 only to find a flashing red power light on the PS3 we were playing on. Yes, our triple had died. LOLOLOL but the Xbox event was the last one, it should have happened there LOL. So in the end we hijacked another unused console and carried on from where that game was paused. Luckily for us it was only a little bit further ahead than we were anyway so it all worked out. I think by the end of the session we survived one co-op QTE and got to about halfway through the second chapter. Typically we had to stop just before an awesome section on a jeep. It seems that this time the event was all about playing the game and as a result there was no Q&A session like last time. I really wanted to know if we'd ever see another Resident Evil Outbreak.

Capcom were also running a competition for the "best zombie impression." I think Wardrox was a bit hesitant since he wasn't wearing a hoodie to do his famous hunter impression but he made a very convincing zombie... I think that's a compliment right? Luckily for me I have no problem of acting like a tit to win stuff. If I've learned anything from this event it's that if you want to do a good zombie impression just lie on the floor and try to grab people's legs and if possible claw at their crotch. So yay serious win is serious!

Here's what I won in picture form!

A Resident Evil 5 bag.

A mini Chris Redfield Figurine

A 1gb Resident Evil 5 memory stick (took me a while to figure out what it was! The usb bit folds out to make it look a bit like a key)

A signed promo photo of Chris and Sheva signed by the two producers Jun Takeuchi and Masachika Kawata (apparently only 30 of these exist in the whole wide world!)

A free copy of the game when it comes out

Oh and here is the name tag we were given

The best part was when the Capcom community manager was announcing the winner she said "the winner just had to be a Dtoider."

Hells Yes we have a reputation of some kind!

All in all this was a fucking phenomenal day. I'd like to thank Capcom for organizing the event and being really super nice people, Sony for being really welcoming and overly accommodating throughout the day (they even made us tea and coffee at the end of the event!), CTZ for getting me into the event and just kicking so much arse and Wardrox for not getting me killed and not staring at my/Sheva's sweater balloons all day.

<3 you Destructoid   read

12:26 PM on 09.30.2008

Feel The Hatred: People who miss the point of a review

Reviews are serious business. A good review can turn a game that you were thinking about renting into a must have on day one purchase and likewise a bad review can turn you off a game that you were previously quite excited about. Unfortunately though it seems that reviews are becoming more like fanboy ammunition in the "console war." Comments in review threads can quickly devolve into mindless "haha take that *console of choice* owners, looks like you've got another shitty game to play on your shitty console!" comments or into equally bad "this review is bullshit, I would have given the game a higher/lower score. You guys have clearly been payed off by Micro$oft/$ony/Nintendo" comments. If the review falls in line with their opinion of a game whether they have played it or not then they rave about it and make sure everyone knows it. If it doesn't fall in line then they call out the writers and question their integrity.

I hate these people.

Why do I hate them so? Because they are missing the entire point of a review and twist them to fit their own view of a certain game.

These people believe that a review is the bottom line in how good or bad a game is. The truth is they are not. As people we are all different and we all have different tastes and so what we believe is good is completely subjective. There are plenty of games that I have played that got mediocre or poor reviews which I thoroughly enjoyed. Likewise there are plenty of games that got good reviews that I really don't like (Pixeljunk Eden and Mega Man 9 comes to mind.... please don't judge me). Those who read a review just to see whether a game is good or not is simply put, doing it wrong.

A review is a buyers guide. Someone has taken the time to go through the game and tell you what it does well and what it doesn't. They are basically telling you what the game is like which does not necessarily mean they are telling you if the game is good or bad (or at least it shouldn't because you are the one who should be deciding that). A review is there for you to use so you can decide for yourself whether you want to buy this game based on what you have been told about it. It is not there for you to use to mock other console owners when a game doesn't sound particularly good. The reviewer is not saying "this game is amazing/shit and you should buy it now/avoid it like the plague," they are saying "this is what the game is like, do you think this is game that you would enjoy playing?" All the points mentioned in the review are there because the reviewer believes that these are what the average person will experience. If the reviewer found a certain aspect of the game particularly frustrating then they have said so because if you play the game you will probably (but not necessarily) feel the same way. To you, a good review does not equal a good game. The chances are much higher but you'll have to play it to find out for sure.

Of course I'm ignoring any behind the scenes action going on behind the reviews, such as threats from publishers to pull coverage if they don't get a good review, bribes or imps hacking into the computers but that shouldn't matter. When anybody does any kind of product research, only an idiot would listen to just one source no matter how trusted it may be because as mentioned before our tastes all differ slightly. Chances are if 3 reviews all say that this game has sloppy controls, then the game probably has sloppy controls.

It pisses me off that too many people these days forget what reviews are for and take them far too seriously. If anything it's infuriating to see people not thinking for themselves and letting reviews dictate how they perceive how good a game is. It's a shame that fewer people are forming their own educated opinions and trying things out for themselves.   read

10:17 AM on 06.15.2008

Is the UK one step closer to legalizing Modchips?

On Wednesday 11th June 2008 at the court of appeal criminal division Judge Justice Jacobs threw out 26 charges against the self-styled "No. 1 name in console modifications," MrModChips (aka Neil Higgs).

Neil Higgs got into trouble because, yes you guessed it, he sold mod chips that allowed pirated and imported games to be played on Nintendo and Microsoft consoles. Back in October he was the second person to be convicted for distributing and selling chipped consoles or console mod chips. He was convicted of 26 anti-piracy counts and faced a £1 million fine and 2 years in jail. Ouch. Luckily for him the legal argument that modchips do not circumvent copyright protection was upheld by Judge Jacobs based on the argument that the copyright infringement has already taken place before the use of a modchip. Hurray! This means that not only was his legal fees reimbursed but he is now free to do business as usual.

So what does it mean? Does it mean that the UK is now on the verge of legalizing mod chips like Australia did in 2002? If you look at the case in Australia that led to the legalization of mod chips, the judge found that banning mod chips prevented legal activities such as playing backed-up or imported games. More importantly though that ruling also found that mod chips did not violate laws against circumventing copyright protections, the same finding was seen in the case against MrModChips.
So it is possible that mod chips will become legal in the UK at some point and you won't get banned from Xbox live if you do so but putting one in your console of choice will still no doubt void the warranty. Also the majority of people who will mod their consoles will do so to play pirated games. If mod chips do become legal will we see a shift in how Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo treat the UK/Europe. You can argue that they can't do anything worse than they are doing already but can we be sure of that? or will they even care?

via team-xecuter   read

11:49 AM on 06.09.2008

Deconstructing the deconstruction of GTA 4s ending

After a grueling exam period which is now all over I was finally able to finish Grand Theft Auto 4 today. A little while ago Reverend Anthony wrote a fantastic article called deconstructing the ending to GTA 4 which discussed the choice you make at the end of the game that determines the ending you get and the emotional impact each ending has upon you the player. In this article Rev argues that the more moralĚ path results in a more dramatic and superior conclusion but having seen both I disagree and prefer the less moral ending.....

Huge Spoilers incoming.....

When you're given the choice to either side with Roman, go ahead with the deal and take the money or side with Kate, kill Dimitri and keep true to the promise you made with yourself not to trust/work with him again, it's a much more complex decision than simply the revenge and money options the game lays out in front of you. Not only are you choosing between Roman and Kate but you are also choosing between Dimitri and Pegorino. Who do you hate more? Who do you trust to keep their end of the bargain? Who is a bigger threat? For me, the first time I played I chose to kill Dimitri for a number of reasons:

1.) He can't be trusted to keep up his end of the bargain.
2.) There's no guarantee he won't come after you or Roman again in the future. After all he's been trying to kill you throughout the game, why would he stop here?
3.) He's still in cahoots with Bulgarin who wants your head.
4.) I don't like the idea of selling out my principles.

Let's also not forget that the money from the deal would be put towards Roman and Mallorie's honeymoon and also remember that Kate will leave you/Niko if you decide to go along with the deal. Throughout the game Roman was the Ying to Niko's Yang. He was your friend who you could always count on. On the other hand you have Kate who represents Niko's new life free from crime and revenge that has haunted him in the past. She is Niko's chance at settling down and leading a normal life, his fairytale ending. Ultimately your decision here will reflect how much you like that character but when your decision is based on the question "would you sacrifice yourself for another?" the two become a bit more difficult to choose between. Do you repay Roman and lose your shot at happiness and normality or do you fight for this new life and hope Roman will understand? Everyone has their own motives and so Rockstar had a tough job creating equally satisfying endings for whatever you decide to do and in my opinion they have done an admirable job. Although the final mission is a frustrating cluster fuck!
The first time I tried to get the more moral ending I was on the boat and traveling to get under the helicopter and my boat suddenly explodes.... hit by a rocket that I didn't see. The second time I was again traveling on the boat but it was raining and as Little Jacob was lowering the helicopter for me to jump on, he bounced off a wave and the chopper went flying into the air and crashed on the ground. The third time my chopper was blown up in the air. The fourth time I was a bit quicker and Dimitri blew me up as I was getting into the boat..... what a cunt.

Opting for revenge at the end of the game by killing Dimitri may not seem particularly interesting from a storytelling perspective because as Reverend Anthony says in his article Niko ends up pretty much exactly where he was at the beginning of the game "in terms of his own capacity to commit violence"Ě and that "the player has chosen a path in which Niko cannot possibly change as a character." I feel that the Rev has missed the point here a little bit. Although what he says is technically true in that Niko is still willing and wanting to kill people at the end of as he is in the beginning. However, after you meet Darko, Niko repeatedly says he wants out of the life of crime and hence killing Dimitri was meant to be his last act of violence which is backed up by his conversation with Kate on their way to Roman's wedding where they talk about settling down and leading a normal life. This in itself proves that Niko has changed as a character as he is willing and wanting to stop the killing after everything is finished with Dimitri who is a constant threat to himself and Roman. Does it really matter when Niko decides to cease his murderous rampage so long as he actively tries to?

Another argument Rev puts forward for the revenge ending being less fulfilling is the character interactions involving Kate and Pegorino. If you took the time to date Kate then there's not really an argument as you see Niko open up to her about his past but because dating her is completely optional there's no need or really any benefit to doing so and so a lot of players will skip this entirely which makes her death almost meaningless right? Well not quite. Regardless of what you think of Kate or how much you dated her you know how much Niko likes her and the conversation Niko has with her on the way to the wedding is really all you need to hear. As I mentioned before Kate is Niko's fairytale ending and you may not think much of Kate but I'm sure you think quite highly of Niko himself and you want him to ride off into the sunset with the woman of his dreams. So when she is gunned down right in front of you all of Niko's hopes and dreams for a normal life die with her and once again he's brought back into the life he wants to escape as it's his/your fault she's dead.
As for Pegorino you may think that it's a bit of a stretch to make him the final boss but I disagree. If you remember the last few missions you do for him you see his whole world collapse around him. Anthony turned out to be a rat, Ray is dead and after you take out Dimitri, Phil bails out as well. Pegorino is left with nothing and according to the U.C Paper guy the Feds are closing in on him so in short he's desperate and needs the cash, fast, which you screw him over with by killing Dimitri. So it isn't that much of a stretch that Pegorino would go a bit crazy and try and take you out but miss and kill Kate by accident. The fact that he only appears towards the latter part of the game shows that by following a life of crime, no matter what you do, you will always have enemies who will try and hurt you and those closest to you and you don't even need to know them for very long and there is no escape from them, which of course fits nicely with the theme of the game.

Personally after getting the money in the "anti-revenge"Ě path I thought it was bloody foolish of Niko to let Dimitri go as he was obviously going to back stab and come after either Niko or Roman at some point in the near future. So when Dimitri sends the assassin to Roman's wedding I didn't really feel as much sympathy for Niko when compared to the "revenge" path as throughout the whole game Dimitri taunts and threatens Niko over the phone so of course he's not going to just let you go especially after he left you to die by not handing over the H while you were in the compound in the previous mission. When you're chasing the henchmen back to Dimitri Niko himself also condemns his own naivety and questions why he didn't kill Dimitri when he had the chance. Not to mention when you're on your way to the compound with Phil to pick up the money Niko tries to explain to Phil why he's doing this and not going after Dimitri and ends up sounding confused and unable to fully convince either himself or Phil who responds by saying "it's funny what money will make people do" (or something similar to that). Niko is obviously doing this for Roman but he clearly wants to finish things with Dimitri. The fact Niko doesn't sound or feel like he's doing the right thing makes this path feel quite unnatural, at least to me anyway. Although it does make sense to make Dimtri the final boss of the game, to do it this way makes it feel almost forced. I didn't feel as sorry for Roman when he died as I did for Kate because I was thinking "what did you expect? Serves you right for letting Dimitri go"Ě whereas with Kate I hated Pegorino more because you weren't sure if he would be such a bitter old man who would go that far.

Reverend Anthony mentioned that "Niko makes a full character arc, but is literally pulled back into his violent ways because of Roman's death" but you can argue that this happens when Kate dies as well. Just because you chose to kill Dimitri doesn't mean that afterward Niko had not renounced his killing ways the same way he does when he chooses the money over revenge. In both endings Niko is a vastly different character than he was at the beginning of the game. In fact I'd go so far as to say he's more of a changed man in the revenge path. Killing Dimitri was meant to be the closing of the book of Niko's past and murderous ways and when Kate is killed you see a more human side of Niko as he checks her pulse and is unwilling to leave her body and run away before the police arrive. As Roman calls for an ambulance you can see and hear the devastation of Kate's death in Niko's voice and he screams "she's dead."Ě Whereas when Roman is murdered all you see is a very blank, almost psychotic expression on Niko's face as he repeatedly shoots and kicks the assassin's already dead body. This shows that Niko has in fact not changed despite his decision not to kill Dimitri because the first thing he does after seeing Roman getting shot is to shoot the corpse of the assassin. He doesn't even approach Romans body and when told to leave he just walks off, unlike when Kate is killed he almost had to be dragged away by Little Jacob. You could argue that he was in a state of shock but when you compare his actions to when Kate is murdered it paints a very different picture of Niko. Ultimately the two murder scenes show the same Niko. In the anti-revenge path you are shown Niko's murderous side when Roman is killed whereas in the revenge path you are shown this side of Niko by killing Dimitri but in both paths you see Niko seek redemption only to realize that redemption doesn't come to those who simply want it and sometimes it's unattainable.

Finally I would like to address Niko's final line as he says "I don't know...what did I do?"Ě when Roman says "you did it"Ě after killing Pegorino. In his article Reverend Anthony argues that "A player who chose revenge as soon as it was offered would need this little unsubtle line of dialogue to explain the theme to them, since they obviously didn't make their decisions in such a way that suggested they'd understand this theme implicitly." Now I don't agree with this statement at all. The decision to kill Dimitri is not necessarily an easy one and nor is it a simple one. Hopefully I've done a good job in demonstrating the complexity of making that decision but that doesn't mean players who kill Dimitri don't understand the theme of the game. What if the player had spared every single character they could throughout the game and only decided to kill Dimitri at the end? Does this make them more merciless than someone who killed everyone and took the money? I let Darko live but killed Dimitri. Is that proof that I don't get the theme of the game? Do I need to sacrifice better storytelling and hence a better ending because I'm obviously not intelligent enough to go along with the main theme rather than make my own decision on what to do?
If you believe Rockstar had to spell out the theme at the end of the revenge path then they have done a poor job designing how the end plays out as you're potentially penalized for thinking in a way that goes against theirs/the games. The game effectively forces you to lean one way more than the other in order to get the "better"Ě ending. Bioshock did this by giving you a slightly better ending with more closure when you save all the little sisters. To me this is bullshit. It means the choices you make in the game are nothing more than a facade because to get the "better"Ě ending you have to go down one particular path and so there is no real choice at all.

Personally I still prefer the revenge paths ending. I don't believe the point of Niko's final words was to spell out the theme but rather add more dramatic effect. In front of Niko is the dead Pegorino. He's lost it all, his money, his followers, his empire and his life. What did Niko do? Who did he kill? He killed a desperate, bitter old man who failed to achieve the American Dream. Who is Niko? He's the same killer he has always been regardless of how much he wanted to change thanks to the decisions he made when he first arrived in Liberty City. As Niko says his final line and the camera pans out to view the Statue of Happiness, his words echo and haunt the player as they gaze upon the symbol of freedom and the American Dream. "Crime leads to the suffering of innocents"/"crime doesn't pay"/"the American Dream is a lie"/"violence begets violence,"Ě the themes of the game become much more powerful and prevalent and leaves a much more lasting impression on the minds of the players who see a broken Niko realize what he's done. He had everything he wanted and the chance to walk away from a life of crime only for it all to slip away and now he's lost and disillusioned after he suffers the consequences of his actions.

Overall the ending to GTA4 is a fantastic achievement. My only gripe with it is that both endings fail to offer a decent sense of closure. That being said every GTA game that I can remember falters in this regard but perhaps with DLC on the horizon maybe this time it's deliberate so that players can carry on from where the story left off much more easily. That being said I hope they address a few things in future DLC such as Bulgarin and whatever happened to him since he's still alive and surely still after Niko and whatever happened to Elizabeta? Did she get busted by the Feds in the end? One thing that puzzles me is that when Kate is murdered how come Packie never offers his assistance to avenge his sister? I know he had to stay with his ma but surely he would have taken time out to seek revenge himself but then again I guess he couldn't put his neck on the line for his mothers sake.   read

1:31 PM on 05.16.2008

The Marvel Vs Capcom Drinking Game

Itís scientific fact that if you want to make nearly anything better all you simply need to do is add alcohol. You name it, dancing, talking to your parents, happy slapping police officers and mildly raping the under age are all activities that are much more entertaining to you and all those involved if you are slightly or very intoxicated with booze and video games are no exception. So without further ado I introduce to you the Marvel Vs Capcom drinking game!

What you will need:
1.)A copy of MvC (obviously) and 2 or 4 controllers. I play with my 3 buddies on the Dreamcast version with a controller each but any version of the game will do and if you only have 2 controllers then you just have to pass the controller to your partner when you swap them in

2.)A method of randomly selecting your characters (I use a hat with slips of paper that contain all the names of the playable characters)

3.)Lots of Booze!!!

This game is designed to be played by at least 4 people although you can have more players and just swap people in and out and the people not playing can referee and keep drinks topped up. Speaking of drinks it doesnít matter what your poison is as you can adjust the rules slightly to accommodate whatever it is youíre drinking. The way I play involves having a primary drink that is weaker and can be drunk in large amounts and over a longer amount of time i.e. beer/cider/mixer/alcopop and a secondary drink that is much stronger i.e. shots and when explaining the rules when I say drink Iím referring to drinking your primary drink. If you prefer you can forget all that and just stick to one drink throughout the whole game whether it be beer or shots but I think itís a bit more fun and chaotic to have different drinks and it also helps you get wasted a bit more easily and letís face it, thatís what counts :-D
If you are under the legal drinking age you can also swap the primary drink with punches to your opponents arm and shots with a slap to your opponents face if you want to get involved..... in fact you donít have to be under the legal drinking age to do this..... once youíre off your face itís an awesome way to keep going without chucking up on your beloved Dreamcast. Also drink responsibly blah blah blah....

Housekeeping Rules

1.) Teams/partners must be chosen randomly. Roll a die, cut a deck of cards or whatever but you canít choose who will be on your team/who you play with.
2.) Characters must also be chosen at random. The way I do this is by having all the characters names in a hat a drawing a name when you start your round.
3.) The players fighting onscreen do not drink. Only their partners/teammates who are currently off screen drink.
4.) When the round is over teams/partners and characters must all be chosen again.

Drinking Rules

1.) If your opponent lands the first attack/hit then you take a shot

2.) Every time your partner performs a super jump you drink (take a swig of your primary drink)

3.) If you partner uses your assist character (pressing medium punch & kick) and your opponent either dodges or blocks the attack then you drink

4.) If your partner gets hit by your opponents assist character you drink

5.) If you swap in your partner (pressing heavy punch & kick) and you opponent blocks their flying kick then you take a shot

6.) If your partner gets hit by an opponents flying kick when they are swapped in then you take a shot

7.) Every time your partner gets successfully thrown by your opponent you take a shot

8.) Every time your opponent performs a tech hit on your partner you take a shot

9.) If your partner gets hit with a super move/hyper combo you have to drink for the same amount of time in seconds as the last number of the combo from the move. E.g. your partner gets hit by a super move that does a 26 hit combo; you then have to drink for 6 seconds. Or your partner gets hit by a super move like Spidermanís maximum spider that does a 07 hit combo or something like that and you then have to drink for 7 seconds.

10.) If your opponent blocks a super move then you take a shot

11.) If your opponent performs a crossover super move (when both characters/partners are on screen at the same time in real time with infinite super moves) then you drink until the move is over but if your partner counters with a crossover super move of your/his own then you donít drink as you are on screen and hopefully kicking arse! During a crossover super move no one in your team has to drink

and finally remember that it's not the winning or losing or even the taking part that counts but how drunk you get that counts :D   read

8:05 AM on 03.22.2008

and the gamers who play them: Hardcore RPG Gamers

[Author's note: I know this topic has already been touched upon but hell I wrote this on the train going back to Wales so I might as well put it up anyway]

Arguably RPGs are one of the most hardcore of videogame genres. They require a lot of time and dedication to complete especially if one wants to find all there is to find in the game. Due to the traditional turn based combat system found in the majority of RPGs and the list of menus and commands, many gamers are turned off by the genre especially if they don't contain the words Final Fantasy in the title.
The Final Fantasy series has the biggest cult fanbase next to Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts series and can stand toe to toe with the Halos and Grand Theft Autos of the Western world in terms of popularity, however the truley devoted followers of these games and genres are somewhat different in the ways they see and play games.

In this blog I hope to flesh out and describe a dedicated hardcore RPG gamers. Of course all of the following points will not apply to every single hardcore RPG gamer out there as everyone is slightly different and has different tastes, so consider this as a kind of checklist that covers a broad range of points rather than a definitive list of what a hardcore RPG gamer is, if that makes sense. Well with that in mind let's begin!

Story > Game Mechanics

Every RPG gamer will tell you that the most important asspect of an RPG is the story. A good story can make an RPG with relatively boring game mechanics a good RPG and this can be seen with Mistwalkers latest epic Lost Odyssey. Likewise an RPG with excellent mechanics and a crappy story will lead to an average RPG at best which unfortunately can be seen in games such as Grandia 3. It is this preference in story that tailors a hardcore RPG gamers mentality towards a lot of games.
Personally a game with a rich story is more likely to grab me than one with a weak plot. If anything it keeps me playing just to see what happens next. Halo 3 apparently had a decent story, however I failed to see it and to me the plot seemed only there to give you a reason to shoot people. Apart from Bioshock, I find that's the case in most FPSs. I couldn't for the life of me explain the story of Call of Duty 4 or Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 apart from there are terrorists and you go kill them. Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction was a game that had me playing for the story and charming characters, although less so than say Persona 3.


Any real gamer will tell you that graphics come second to gameplay and this is none the more apparent than in RPGs. Whereas games of other genres can be super seeded by better versions that came out after the original, classic RPGs are truly games that stand the test of time. Games such as Super Mario Brothers on the NES may still play fantastically today as it did when it came out but there are better iterations you can play from Mario World to Mario 64 and Galaxy. Chrono Trigger is a game that many still regard as one of the greatest ever made despite the dated 16-bit graphics and presentation. Due to the fact that every RPG is unique in their setting and story, classic RPGs are truly irreplaceable and cannot be duplicated, much like a classic book. Sure they can take the ideas from one and make a better game/sequel but no matter how much better it is, it will never be quite the same and anyone whose played the majority of the Final Fantasy games can attest to that.
With the PS3 and Xbox360 being the graphical powerhouses they are pumping out beautiful games such as Eternal Sonata, uncharted and Assassin's Creed it's hard for a game that doesn't look as good to stand out. One of my favorite games of last year Persona 3 may not be as easy on the eyes graphically as those games but it can still stand toe to toe with them simply becasue of the rather unique graphical style.
A lot of amazing games I remember playing when I was little end up being really disappointing when I go back and play them now except for the RPGs. Some of them look horrendous like Panzer Dragoon Saga, but despite the graphics the game is still as good if not better than anything I've played recently.


Every gamer loves innovation. Hardcore RPG gamers are no different however, they are a lot more forgiving when there is a lack of it. Using Lost Odyssey as a recent example, the game received a fair amount of criticism due to it's traditional roots (turn based battles, random encounters etc) but any fan of RPGs can easily overlook this fact. After all the game is beautiful and the story is epic. The Dragon Quest series is as traditional as you can get with it's low damage turn based battles and game structure of town -> plot point -> dungeon -> repeat but that doesn't stop the games selling as much as Thuper Hardcore fails. Although one could also argue that RPGs are one of the most innovative genres in gaming from Final Fantasy XIIs gambit system to Mass Effects enhanced dialog trees.

Emotional Attachment

So hardcore RPG gamers love great stories but there are a good number of games outside of the RPG genre that have great stories. So what is it that's missing in those games that prevent the same cult following? It may seem obvious but a great story needs great fleshed out characters. This is what makes the Dragon Quest series so good and it's what gives hardcore RPG players the drive to really get absorbed in the games. Not only do they allow themselves to get stuck into the world of the game but they allows themselves to get emotionally attached to the characters more so than any other gamer of other genres.
I hated Andrew Ryan in Bioshock, I felt like a comrade of Cpt Price and Gaz in Call of Duty 4 but after I finished those games I quickly felt no emotional connection to them. That being said I still hate Sephiroth, Kefka and Luca Blight while Junpei and Yukari still feel like my friends and teammates. The most memorable parts of an RPG are not always the huge plot twist moments but rather certain moments you have between yourself and some of the characters.
*potential spoiler* The most memorable part of Suikoden 2 (one of my favorite games) for me was when you finally came face to face with Jowy at Rockaxe castle. It's not the most memorable part of the game because of what actually happens which is quite a plot twist. It's because it's the first time you come face to face with your best friend Jowy and with neither of you able to stand down it looked like you had no choice but to fight each other, despite Nanami's pleas not to. You knew that confronting Jowy was inevitable but when it actually happens it still feels like you're turning on your brother. *end of spoilers*


Now while lovers of Halo 3 love it because of the gameplay and multiplayer, lovers of RPGs fall in love with specific games because of the story, characters and the world in which they inhabit. Some can fall in love to such an extent that they wish to be their favourite characters and as a result many of them cosplay. Now I know this doesn't just apply to RPG fanatics but I can guarantee that if you go to an anime or cosplay event you will not only see enough Naruto and Sasuke lookalikes to make you see them in your reflection in the mirror but you will see enough Soras, Axles and Clouds to make you feel like you're the odd one in your dtoid t-shirt and jeans.

I <3 Nihon

Although there are notable exceptions, most RPGs come from Japan. As a result a lot of them share many similarities in terms of themes and storytelling methods with other Japanese media, most notably anime. It comes to no surprise then that many hardcore RPG gamers also watch a lot of anime which also explains to some extent the love of cosplay. These similarities shine through and highlights a lot of the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. Since RPGs and anime are so typicaly "Japanese" it's not very surprising that many RPG fans become enthralled with Japanese cultures, especially the otaku subculture. RPGs send you away to a fictional world very different from our own and in the real world Japan is almost like another world found in videogames because it's so different than anywhere in the West. It also helps that many RPGs base their settings on Japanese culture which means it's easy to identify your favorite RPGs with things you see and hear about in Japan.

The Thinking Man/Woman

Turn based combat is the name of the game of many a RPG. This system allows for many different strategies to be implemented and since the flow of battle can change in an instant you have to keep your wits about you while you engage your enemy and adapt or change your strategy accordingly. With the exception of most Final Fantasy games going into a battle guns blazing, unleashing all your best moves from the get go won't necessarily equal victory. Veteran RPG gamers know when to take their time and use their heads to gain and maintain the upper hand whereas I'm sure there's many a hot-blooded Master Chief out there who will charge head first with an assault rifle and plasma grenade to the face. That's not to say that RPG gamers don't rush into things, it's just that they tend to be more aware of doing things at certain times.


As RPG gamers get so absorbed in the worlds that they play in, the thought of leaving it can be a bit too much to bear sometimes. As a result many gamers end up doing the large numbers of side quests in the game in an attempt to extend the lifespan of the RPG. They enjoy wondering around and discovering new areas with new secret weapons/items in them to use in their fight to undoubtedly save the world. Finding all the secrets the game has to offer is a joy and so to is watching your character evolve and grow to become as strong as they can possibly be. Since they've watched and grown attached to these characters it's a great feeling to see them get so strong that nothing stands in their way. Most RPGs also have a secret boss that is insanely difficult to beat. Not only do hardened RPG gamers like to explore their world, they also love to rise to a challenge. They don't mind the amount of grinding or time needed to sufficiently increase their strength in order to defeat the toughest of foes. In short hardcore RPG gamers like to obtain and do everything the game has to offer and in other words they are kind of like achievement whores.

The differences between a hardcore RPG gamer and a hardcore gamer of another type really boils down to the love of deep involving plots and unique and likable characters. Many of the other traits can be seen in other kinds of hardcore gamers as anyone can pump an obscene amount of time into any game that they really enjoy and playing strategically isn't narrowed down to just RPGs. It's the love of the story/characters/worlds that lead the more fanatical to get more involved with cosplaying and all things Japanese. Now I'm sure that I've overly stereotyped hardcore RPG gamers and missed out a load of things so I'm just going to leave you with this image for no real reason other than to distract you while I run away!

[img]   read

6:33 PM on 03.11.2008

Review: Trigger Heart Exelica

As technology improves and games become more complex, traditional old school genres of games are becoming less frequent and more unpopular. Side scrolling beat em ups, traditional platformers, 2D beat em ups and shmups are such genres that are fading away in a deluge of FPSs, action/adventure and RPG titles. However, thanks to Xbox live arcade and PSN it seems that shmups at least are making a bit of a comeback. Everyday Shooter, Omega 5, Geometry Wars and Super Stardust HD are perfect examples of great shmups available to download and with the legendary Ikaruga on the horizon everything seems set. So does the arrival of Trigger Heart Exelica on Xbox live arcade signal the launch of another classic shooter? When I first purchased this game my 360 actually Red Ringed when downloading was about 12% complete. Now was this because Exelica was simply too awesome for my then 360 to handle? or was it a warning to avoid this stinker of a shmup?

Trigger Heart Exelica
Developed by: Warashi
Available on: Xbox Live Arcade
Price: 800 points

The core of Exelica is the same as any other shmup, you dodge barrage after barrage of enemy bullets and destroy anything that pops up on the screen and collect the occasional power-up. This should come as no surprise. The gimmick that makes Exelica stand out from the shmup crowd is the capture system the game employs, so here's how it works. By pressing and holding the anchor button on the controller you lock onto any enemy that you are facing. If the enemy you have locked onto is a ground unit (tank or turret) or a boss then your fire is automatically aimed at your target regardless of where you are on the screen. Your movement is also greatly reduced which makes dodging dense bullet patterns a little easier and more accurate. Now this may not sound like much and really it isn't, but when you capture an flying enemy unit then something completely different happens and this is where Exelica comes into its own.

Firstly you are unable to shoot at an aircraft you are locked onto but if you keep the anchor button held down you can "capture" the enemy unit. The bigger the enemy the longer you have to hold down the anchor button to capture them. Small fry can be captured instantly whereas their bigger brothers can take several seconds to capture where you movement is reduced almost to a crawl and you will have to dodge many many bullets with your name on them and of course you can't return fire. While capturing, a timer in the form of a percentage appears over your target to indicate how long you have left to wait and when it reaches 100% is when the fun begins.

Once a flying enemy is captured you have two options. You can either use them as a shield or you can spin them around and throw them back at your enemies for destructive results. Spinning and throwing enemies back is more complicated as while holding down the anchor button you have to then hold down the shoot button to "reel them in" and then rotate the analog stick/d-pad to gain momentum and then release to launch your enemy. This feels very unnatural at first and takes quite some time to get used to although there is an auto rotate option which unsurprisingly automatically spins captured enemies by just holding down the capture button but takes away an important element of the game mechanics. For less destructive power you can also nudge captured foes into nearby enemies but spinning and launching them can take out way more enemies. While being spun your captured enemies also block any bullets they come into contact with until they blow up from too much damage and that's pretty much how the capture system works.

The problem with the capture system is this whole spinning system. As I mentioned above it feels unnatural and takes a fair bit of practice. Not only that but you need to maintain a steady rhythm in your rotations to keep your enemy spinning at a decent speed which also determines the speed at which you throw them. This leaves you practically defenseless as you can't really dodge bullets when you're spinning your captured foe. Another tricky aspect of the system is throwing the enemy in the right direction as you're going to want to throw them at a fast speed to do maximum damage but that means spinning them at a fast speed and releasing them when you are facing the right way so you don't end up lobbing them off the screen. All this comes with practice but can lead to frustration when you first begin playing the game however, when you master it it does become incredibly satisfying, addictive and fun.

The scoring system in the game is also very well thought out. When you defeat any enemy they drop yellow diamonds and you collect these to increase your score multiplier. The longer you survive, more bad guys you kill in one go the bigger the diamonds become and hence the bigger the points gained and the more diamonds you collect the larger your score multiplier becomes. There are also weapons power-ups to collect as well as smart bombs which are dropped by certain enemies. There is also something Warashi has incorporated called the Variable Boss Attack System (V.B.A.S.). Now this is a fancy system that just means the more items you have when you reach a boss leads to more crazy bullet patterns being thrown in your face and hence a much tougher battle. For the more hardcore who want to maximize their scores, more details on this system can be found on Warashi's website.

There are 5 levels and two playable characters: Exelica and Crueltear but unfortunately each characters levels are identical. The only difference between the 2 characters is their bullet patterns when they shoot. Exelica has a much wider range, while Crueltear has a very linear bullet pattern which means that while controlling her you have much more specificity over who you shoot and who you capture but she lacks Exelica's ability to clear the screen in a tight spot without using a smart bomb. The game is designed so that it's easier to shoot down enemies but by doing so you limit your maximum score. As a result Exelica is more suited to beginners and Crueltear is more suited for score hungry advanced players since you can't rack up nearly as many score multipliers by shooting enemies, which of course puts more emphasis on the capture system.

So that's pretty much the game but is it any good?

Well yes and no. The capture system is great when you get used to it and it does bring something unique to the table. It adds an extra layer of strategy to the game as you have to consider when to shoot enemies down, how long to keep spinning your captured enemy, where and when to throw them and when to capture without getting hit. Things can get really intense when you're trying to capture a big aircraft while dodging enemy bullets and then spinning the aircraft fast enough to block the incoming barrage you know you can't dodge and then gaining enough momentum to launch it before the new wave of bullets come, and if you miss.....then you're in trouble.

Despite how fun the capture system is though the game focuses too much on it and as a result you have a shmup which has pretty little shooting in it. The game almost forces you to spam the capture system which leads to a game that almost becomes a pattern where you have to carefully plan all your movements in a methodical fashion. Shmups are supposed to be a genre that pushes your reflexes and improvisation skills to the limit and in this respect Trigger Heart Exelica falters somewhat due to the slower pace caused by the overuse of the capture system. You could argue that all shmups become a mesh of planned methodical movements in the end (you need only youtube clips of Ikaruga pros to back that point up) but in Trigger Heart Exelica there are a few too many occasions where you have to capture specific enemies and throw them into specific places one after the other and if you miss then you are buggered for a section of the level and even though shooting is designed to make the game easier, in these situations it does fuck all.

Graphically the game is not particularly eye catching. Now you maybe thinking well it's a shmup so no shit! But all the enemies you encounter look pretty much the same and they look very uninspiring. The bosses are plane dull to look at and there are very few if any at all moments in the game that make you go "wow!" Shmups are renowned for having fantastically breathtaking holy shit bosses but Trigger Heart Exelica has none. The game simply lacks personality on a graphical level. Although the music in the game is awesome! However, the sound effects are not.


Trigger Heart Exelica is a good shmup although it has it's faults. It provides an experience unlike any other and looks damn cool once you get going. If you're a fan of shmups then this is something different that you should definitely check out but if you're not then this game is probably not going to turn you into a hardcore shmup fanatic but it is still worth a look.   read

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