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10:30 AM on 03.01.2010

Long time, Dtoid, and: vote for best PS2 games.

Listen, I’ll be honest with you here: I didn’t start a blog because I care that you hear my opinion. I care more about your opinion. I know what you’re thinking: “Brilliam, you sure picked a weird format to use if you wanna hear other people’s opinions.” You’re right. but blogs do have comments, so there’s that.

I’ll cut straight to the chase, because you’re a busy person who might have ADD. I am running a poll to define, completely arbitrarily, the best video game ever released on the PS2. It’s with a website I frequent called ILX, but that’s beside the point. The point is GAMES, and LISTS, and POLLS. And GAMES. Did I say GAMES?

Firstly, I implore you: [url="http://cointandplick.wordpress.com/"]visit this website[/url]. There’s a list of nominated games there: this is part of the first step. Only games nominated can be voted for, to avoid vote splitting and confusion and such; however, nominating a game is as easy as commenting on this blog, or commenting on that blog, or emailing me (that’s magacid, by the way, at gmail). Nominations are due by March 14th.

After that, the fun part: BALLOTS. You would send to my email (not by comment, we wanna keep the results SECRET until the end) your list of favourite PS2 games: as few as 1, as many as 15, in order (ties are allowed!). Ideally (but optionally) one would also include small blurbs, frmo one sentence to one paragraph, explaining why it is an awesome game to you. The results would slowly leak out on the previously-mentioned blog, complete with delicious youtube links and pictures and blurbs from other voters (AND YOU!).

If you think your list will suck, FRET NOT. It’s easy and you should send one anyway. A lot of the people contributing are not “gamerzzzz” in the hardcore sense; in fact, our year-end lists often end up with free flash games and iPhone puzzle apps near the top of the list because, well, that’s how we roll.

THE PS2 IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE PS2.

PS. If you think I am a spammer: fuk u I been here longer than u. Although I am maybe a bit spamming this time, natch. Maybe a bit.   read


12:34 PM on 06.30.2009

The EVERYGAME blog: it's elolmentloly, my dear lolson

I might have mentioned Every Game Ever on here before, but in case I am retarded and didn't, or you, dear reader, didn't read any of my crap before this, Every Game Ever is a place where I and several friends are making blog entries, (supposedly) one a day, about every game. Starting with the North American games for the SNES. You gotta start somewhere, right?

So Every Game Ever has been taking a lot of my time, what with having to write one entry a week (or more, since a bunch of people dropped off and I ahve to make up for their shit). It has been a bumpy road, but there has been a real fucking renaissance recently, so I thought I'd share some of my faves by some of my fave authors for the place.

Scott is a phenom, but perhaps nothing is quite as laugh-out-loud as his review of FIFA International Soccer.

Everyone seems to know that Brazil is the best country at soccer, even though the majority of its citizens do not play (unlike Cleatselburg, where soccer—or football, if you will—is a mandatory activity that takes up 70% of the day and is responsible for an epidemic of knee injuries), so I relied on the only Brazilian I know: Thiago Silva. No, not Thiago Emiliano da Silva the Brazilian footballer; he plays at AC Milan. No, not Thiago Jotta da Silva; he was murdered to death and is no longer good at soccer as a result. No, not even Thiago Silva the MMA fighter; I don’t know him. I’m talking about Thiago Silva the miniature steam engine repair technician who works at TRAIN WORLD, THE TRAINIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. He repairs little trains.

Since I don’t speak Brazilian, and Thiago doesn’t really speak Canadian*, I had him write down his impressions while playing FIFA International Soccer and then used Google’s translation tools to transcribe it here:

Look at these little men running! Why they do not run with the ball? This is the game of football, is running with the ball and take the ball and put it on the network, but they do not want it seems.

I press the buttons and I am not sure if it is working. Is this working? The crowd is screaming and I am ashamed the ball was not placed on the network for my team. They need to have try much harder.

This is making me sad in my heart that my team does not pass each other, but only for the other team. They have to stop. They need more contrast to the practice of his pieces are never implemented in time for the tiniest of trains. Choo Choo. Ha! Ha! I love doing this, the little steam engine. They carry children in tunnels and are sometimes never seen again. That is why I can never go back to Săo Paulo.

Angus wrote about Fatal Fury Special and I'll be goddamned if it isn't one of the most surreal things I have ever read.

Jem JEM goddamnit get your father another beer I’m like to dry up and expire right here in my chair you wouldn’t want that whose pension is gonna put your goddamn cocoapuffs on the table when I’m dead and gone and paramedics are haulin my ass out this lazyboy and you’re sittin there crying over my body like some kind of pansy there’s too much of your mother in ya I always said ah thanks my son that’ll really PSSSSSSHHHTT hit the spot.

Was a time son when your dear old dad was somone t’ tussle with a real fighter Uncle Sam had me takin a slope name and going in fighting all manner of freaks and weirdos russkies boxers the whole nine. Said we’d end this goddamn cold war if we could just show em who’s boss power percieved is power archieved my son don’t matter if we ever put a goddamn American on the moon only matters that the reds think we did.

Will (that's me) wrote about Final Fight. I didn't know what part to clip because, really, it's one of the few things I've ever written where I actually like the whole thing... but it's a conversation between Cody and Haggar as they progress through the game:
LEVEL 5: BAY AREA

CODY: Here we go! The Bay Area! Classic! This is why you made that San Francisco reference at the beginning! I was starting to get confused!

HAGGAR: MORE LIKE THE YAY AREA, AM I RIGHT? WANT SOME YAYO? SOME COCAINE? I HAVE A LOT! LOOK! IT’S TRAPPED IN MY MUSTACHE! HA HA HA! IT’S LIKE A MILK MUSTACHE BUT MADE OF GACK!

CODY: Whoa this dude is neon red! And named Abigail!

HAGGAR: HAHA WHAT A PUSSY! PUUUUUUNCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CODY: Good punch!

Travis wrote about Dennis the Menace and is convinced that Kafka basically invented shitty platformers. If you know anything about Kafka you must read this.

I have mentioned before that SNES platformers are, largely, a homogeneous group of faceless experiences that melt together into obscurity. The cartoony protagonist leaping from horizontal surface to horizontal surface, over pattern-locked enemies, onto floating powerups that are doubtless coins, food or trinkets – this archetypical game bursts from every orifice the SNES figuratively possesses, rivaled only by sports games.

I believe that the moist burrow from which the genre’s placenta originally sloughed is Mario, at least in this specific form. Every trope, practically every moment within each of these games, can be traced back to the original Super Mario Brothers, or at least its sequels.

But everyone knows that. I am here today, then, to produce a new thesis on the origins of this genre. You might think it a conspiracy theory, but the overwhelming evidence I present will be so far above your whelm that you won’t even remember what it looks like. Your whelm will be like a footprint in the desert, viewed from the moon, by a myopic, wizened space traveler on his last legs who wanted to see the great, free darkness of space one last time.

My thesis is that all of these games were created, either directly or through vivid inspiration, by Franz Kafka.

I hope you check it out. Travis, Angus and Scott are personal friends of mine who NEVER write but when they do it's INCREDIBLE-- which is why I forced them to work on this. Because they're writing again. And seriously, you need to read what they're writing.   read


7:29 PM on 02.03.2009

Meaningful Review Scores

Hey, Destructoid. Sorry it's been a while since I've written anything; I got laid off, and was unemployed, and went home to Ottawa for a week, where I had precious little web time, then started a new job back in Montreal. In spite of this I spent a lot of time thinking about a few things that'll hopefully become articles in the near future. This post is also on mah real blag if you like looking at it with bigger text and more... green.

I, and many others, hate the state of review scores. 1UP was probably the best because it was completely arbitrary and subjective, and it wore that on its sleeve. They write their gut reactions, which I really appreciate. It's not about graphics and sound and gameplay as completely stupid separate categories coming into a terribly useless aggregate. Many other sites and publications have taken this sort of review to heart, but I still think there's something to the idea of breaking down the score and building your ultimate reaction from the sum of its parts.

To do this, I've invented a crackpot four-point review rubric. I can't say I thought about it that much; actually, while on the brink of sleep it came to mind and I texted the idea to my friend Angus and promptly fell asleep. And forgot about it. I may have already been unconscious. Hey, don't let that discount the idea though: at least one person thinks the lucid space between regular consciousness and batshit insanity is where the best ideas come from. I just use sleep because LSD is kinda illegal. I've given these four categories adorable disorder-based names that poke fun at things gamers are accused of having. Feel free to change them to less potentially offensive names if you're interested.

THE SYSTEM

ADD x/5

The ADD measure is indicative of how immediately engaging the game is at all (or at least many) times. There are a lot of games I can think of that I simply didn't like as much as others due to this. A great example would be Fable II; there were far too many times where I found myself bored just because it would take so long for something interesting to happen. What counts as interesting can vary, as can what takes too long; getting from point a to point b might take twice as long in one game, but if the journey is intriguing enough, it doesn't matter. Now, don't get me wrong: a game can definitely have parts that are tedious and still get a five. The question is, how often is the tedium broken up? How much of the game's time does it dominate? Is the tedium rewarding? When it comes to Fable II, the answers to these questions were simply unsatisfactory.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'll use a game like N+ to illustrate my point. You go into your Xbox 360's Game Library. You select N+. Once the game goes through its two (very quick, as these things go) company logo interstitials. A bad-ass BZHOOOOO sound happens and the menu drops in. You pick the menu, you pick a level, and you're in the middle of the action. It takes less time to get into the action than it takes most disc titles to spin up. The difficulty ranges from enjoyably casual-yet-challenging to downright diabolical, but it stays fun as hell.

OCD x/5

If you are poring over GameFAQs looking for more information you already have the ability to beat, you're probably playing a game with a 5/5 OCD score. This is a meter of a game's technical immersion. Droves of games come to mind as high scorers: Street Fighter II and III, Super Mario Kart games, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tetris, earlier Armored Core games... I could go on. The ability to get lost in the intricacies of a game's play and the urge to do so mean an easy high score, but it doesn't need to be complex-- sometimes it just simply has to be incredibly satisfying. There are certainly amazing games out there that wouldn't score well in this respect; for example, while playing Ico, I found it technically somewhat tedious and unfulfilling but I continued because I liked everything else so much. But, as such, I could hardly call it a "perfect" game, and it'd be punished in this category.

Escapism x/5

If OCD relays the game's technical immersion, escapism relays its emotional immersion. How much are you affected by the story, the characters, the world? If it's something you want to get lost in, and every time you play you forget about your bills and your shitty job and you just want to marry the main squeeze and you wonder what happens in the world once the game ends, it's a high scorer. Final Fantasy Tactics somehow achieved this. For me, Vice City did not achieve this at all; once I was done playing it, I didn't think about it again-- let alone feel any urge to visit it again. If it made you cry, it's probably a 5/5. If you tried to skip as many cutscenes as were possible, it was probably closer to a one. There's not much more to say about this.

Histrionics x/5

This is almost certainly the most controversial of the four categories, but I'll try to justify it. Basically, this is a marker of how relevant the game is or should be. Many games will get 5/5 before I even play them: Grand Theft Auto 4 and Braid would start with a minimum of five in this category simply because they're something anyone who talks about games needs to play. They could have both been humongous pieces of garbage (which, thankfully, they weren't), but they deserve to be played and talked about due to that hype. However, this is also a category where games that deserve that kind of conversation are highly rated; the "overlooked" gems like Team Ico's releases that innovate and create fantastic new worlds are pretty important in their own way. Games that are far from perfect but invent a new mechanic that future games will exploit to become amazing are also high scorers in this category. I'm looking at you, Assassin's Creed.

Some people would argue that a game's hype should have no bearing on its score, but here are three reasons I believe this is a valid category:
It means that you can easily justify not attaching it to the other categories, and get a more pure review score.
It's honest. I mean, if GTA4 has an all-time Metacritic rating of 98, how can you say that it doesn't factor into the score already? It's not like it's the best game of the decade like that MC rating would imply.
If you disagree with the hype, you can easily change this score in your head to something else and get what you consider a more "realistic" review score.

---

Each is marked on a scale of one to five. One is deplorable, three is honorable, and five is spectacular. The final percentile score is (a-1) * 6.25+ (b-1) * 6.25+ (c-1) * 6.25 + (d-1) * 6.25. Or, more simply, each score adds either 0%, 6.25%, 12.50%, 18.75% or 25% to the final score. The worst score is 0%, the best is 100%, and the exact middle is 50%. However, I would very occasionally consider giving a game a rating higher than 5/5 in a category; if it sets an utterly mind-blowing new standard in any of these departments (at least, for me), I'd give it a six. I would've given Football Manager 2008 an OCD 6/5, for example, because it dominated my life for months last year with its intricacies. I'd also give World of Warcraft a 6/5 in histrionics or escapism, because it was such an utterly new experience for me: for a year, I had dozens of best friends all over the US and Canada. Needless to say, a 6/5 would be incredibly rare. Like, possibly less-than-once-a-year rare.

However, on top of all of this, I'd still give a game an entirely separate score: it's a three-point scale. One is "don't bother," two is "play it if you have the time and the money to do so and nothing better is available," and three is "make this a priority." A scale like that is just as important, if you ask me. Even if Ico scored low in one category and not perfect in others, it's still a solid 3 in this entirely other system. You just need to give it a spin.

Anyway, that's the system. I'm toying with the idea of using this rubric for all future reviews of games I write. What do you think?   read


1:32 PM on 01.12.2009

Random Crap I Been Working On Roundup!

Sup, 'toiders? Been a while, hasn't it? I have been neglecting the crap outta this blog because I've been working on so much other stuff recently.

My main blog is still busy but I'll probably be cross-posting the really relevant stuff over here because I actually LIKE comments (yeah, I'm a whore). I'm making a post about how Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle could work as a game for Corvus Elrod's Round Table discussion. Those who dig brainy discussion on games should check out his blog, he's a clever guy. In fact, you should do like I do and try to catch up on all of these blogs if you dig that kind of discussion, because there are A LOT of people doing very smart stuff on the topic of games out there.

On a less intelligent note, maybe you remember the reviews of SNES games I was doing a few months ago. Well, GOOD NEWS! I am doing them again. In fact, I have a whole crew of people writing now... the target to write a review of every USA-released SNES game is GO! I'm also always looknig for more writers and guest writers, so if you're interested, show me some of your Dtoid stuff that you're most interested in and I'll see if I cna hook you up with some sweet writin' times. Full blog located here.

I'm also working on a podcast, which is a panel-type show on games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway, where it's like a gme show but with the same "players," but there's no improv involved). I'll keep you updated, I've edited the first episode, just figuring out where to host it, and how. Any tips on this, let me know.

My crew at Cikro is worknig on our first game. I'll announce here first (oooooooOOOOhhhhh) that it's called Malmo. That's all I can say for now but it will be great and the subject of a future Indie Nation, I'm sure.

I can't think of anything else. Also, cocks.   read


11:45 AM on 01.02.2009

My top ten games, '08

Yeah, yeah, I know, nobody cares... just figured i'd give the ol' dtoid blog some love since more people read this than read brilli.am/writes where this was originally posted. To see it on my blog, click here (not that you need to now!)

Here they are: the ten games of 2008 that really tickled my fancy. It's hard to say they're a cut above, considering how deep this year's releases were, but, if anything, this year proved for me that it's the year of the downloadable title (I bought two of these games on Steam, and three on Xbox Live Arcade). It's a scary future, because I find the lending and borrowing of games really important to me as someone who likes sharing and discussing the medium (more on that another day, I suppose), but it's hard to complain when the games are of such high quality (and, in the case of four, are so cheap. The other was expensive, but so many of my friends had already bought it that the lending thing was irrelevant).

10. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)

I haven't played very far into it so far, but everything I've seen, I've loved. It's not the pacing, because it's slow; it's not the combat, because it's pretty basic so far; it's not the voice acting, because it's deplorable. Honestly, I think the reason I love this game (and, incidentally, 3) is the graphic design and the ease of use. I think one of the greatest secrets of a good RPG is a menu system that continues to be a joy to use, and P4 nailed it. Furthermore, the high school sim is intriguing, the whodunit is intriguing, and the art is stunning. Now, can this be the last great PS2 game, so I can stop having to plug it back in every few months for the next unbelievably good release?


9. Burnout Paradise (360)

I don't really buy car games. Unless you count GTA IV, this is the only car game I've bought this generation (I got Forza with my 360, so that doesn't count). In fact, it took me a really, really long time to pick it up; it wasn't until I went into a Future Shop and saw it for $20 or $30 (I bought it at the same time that I bought the hilariously excellent Earth Defense Force 2017). What I didn't expect was to get one of those games that you can just throw in when you just want to mess around. It's like the Skate of cars. I don't care about the driving around to start missions, despite the fact that it's just the kind of thing I usually hate, because driving feels good in this game. More games need to steal this idea: make an engine that is SO GOOD, that nothing can feel like a chore. Go figure, right? Add to that the most progressive, laudable DLC releases in the history of DLC (free stuff, so you don't resell your copy) and you've got a game that nobody should be without.


8. Braid (XBLA)

In spite of there being a lot about this game I didn't like, I still loved a lot about it. I hate laundry-listing games, but the mechanics and the pacing and the art are all utterly top-notch. I LOVE Hellman's art style. What I didn't like was everything else about the presentation; the story, the text dumps, and even the setting left me a little flat. Still, no platforming game has been this incredibly well put-together. Blow might be a bit of a dick, but he knows how to think up insane puzzles, and that's awesome. I hope his next game doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth like this one did, because he's clearly an incredibly talented director.


7. Rez HD (XBLA)

Yeah, it's a re-release, but two points: firstly, I never got to play the DC/PS2 releases due to scarcity, and secondly, HD is (probably) how the game was meant to be played. Bad demo alert, though, the first level is very simplistic and not so exciting. It's not until you get into the later levels that you realize how thrilling this game is. By the fifth level, Fear, I am so enrapt that I forget I'm a sack of meat on a chair staring at a glowing picture frame. I forget everything, really. I just listen to some dorky rave song and react to pictures and grin like an idiot. If you doubted this game's quality, check it out anyway. It costs little and doesn't take long. But turn the lights off and sit close to the screen. You won't find better immersion for a while.


6. Audiosurf (PC)

Yep, two music games, and nary a Guitar or Rock in their names. I can't remember where I read it (apologies if you said it), but someone said of Audiosurf "If you hate this game, you probably don't like good music." Pretentious, and probably a bit inaccurate, but there's a seed of truth there: if you don't like Audiosurf, you're playing it wrong. I've listened to new records using this, and it makes it even easier for me to absorb them on first listen because I am so intently focussed on little idiosyncrasies. Of course, it doesn't really work for, like, a Bon Iver record as much as it does a Zazen Boys release, but I digress. This game is simple, but as endlessly playable as your music library. I reckon I'll be messing around with this title until they make a new one.


5. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (DS)

This only came out in December (in English), and only in Europe (North America is, inexplicably, still waiting on it) so I was hesitant to include it. But, I wanted to, because it's great. It is a Fire Emblem game, to be sure, but unlike some of the most recent entries, it's really thoughtfully laid out and interesting. It forces you to lose a member early, meaning you are less likely to freak out about the inevitable casualties you face. Class changes are more flexible than in previous iterations, meaning that no character is as irreplaceable as before. The battles, while difficult, are not hair-pullingly maddening meat grinders. Each is a well-thought out set piece, unlike the decidedly mediocre Gamecube and (especially) Wii installments. While it might not stand quite up to the GBA games (I haven't gotten far enough yet to judge) it is a great handheld turn-based strategy. And, since that genre is like catnip to me, I can't help but adore this game.


4. Left 4 Dead (PC)

As I mentioned before, this game was instrumental to my friends' ability to keep in touch once everyone moved across this giant, freezing country. Now, I'll be honest: this is a game best experienced in groups of four or eight. Once you throw strangers into the mix, it's less fun. But, when you play with a crew that you've been gaming with ages, and you know each other's weird gaming idiosyncracies, and you're forced to take care of each other while a sadistic AI attempts to bleed you out over the course of a dozen incredibly thoughtful set pieces, you end up realizing how awesome those gaming relationships can really be. My favourite gaming moment of the year was probably when Andy was charging ahead, and Angus was trying to be super-careful and thoughtful, and Travis was accidentally shooting everyone in the back, and I wasn't paying any attention and a smoker choked me to death. Even though we hadn't really displayed those tendenceies in this game yet, it was so us. And it was great. Add to that some of the most thoughtful social satire in zombie-related media since Dawn of the Dead ("I miss the Internet," the how-many-zombies-I-killed pissing contests, Zoey calling zombie bullshit) and you've got a game that was really worth the long wait.


3. Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

Space Invaders Extreme, like Pac-Man Championship Edition last year, took an old game, flipped it on its ass, and made a new, more modern, incredibly exciting game. Aside from speeding the game up and turning it into a veritable laser light show of a game, they do a lot of little nice things that remind you that you're not playing as game designed to eat your quarters. If you fail a level (there are five, with branching levels of difficulty), you can start it over. If you turn the game off, you can come back to that level later. Or, you can start over from level 1, but it never forces you to-- it makes it your own choice. But, the point is, it's thrilling. It's nimble and colorful and, while there are only five "bosses" (yes, there are bosses) in the game, each feels like an inventive use of the game's mechanics. The inclusion of little, commercial-break-sized bits (where it breaks away from the main game and sticks you in a mini-game) gives it a pacing where you never get so used to the speed that it becomes boring. Every time it drops you in, you're thrilled.


2. The World Ends With You (DS)

This title is, for lack of a better term, transcendental. It transcends its publisher, Square Enix, by existing as a bold counterpoint to their inaccessible, tradition-laden, committee-made lineup of sure-sale RPGs. It transcends any sort of "action" or "RPG" or "action RPG" genre definition by doing both things better than ny of their permutations. It even transcends what could have been a disasterously stupid setting ("extreme"-looking teens trapped in an "extreme" version of a metropolis's shopping district) by handling it, with as much grace as can be expected from a handheld videogame, maturely. I found myself playing it all of the time, for a while. I was enthralled, in spite of the developer and the setting and the genre and whatever else stood in the way of fun. And, if that's not proof of something awesome, then I need to take a class on what's fun because YOU GOT ME.


1. N+ (XBLA)

There's a lot to be said for a game that just feels right. N+, more than any game I can remember in the recent past, feels right. Its physics are neither floaty, nor overly frictional and oppressive; the game is as airy and precise as a monofilament whip. And, as such, is as difficult to master. There's also a lot to be said of a game that comes in bite-sized but satisfying chunks; the freedom to play for as much or as little as I want has always been a major sticking point for me (RPGs with "save points" instead of allowing saving anywhere, a prime example of the OPPOSITE effect). Minimalist but clean graphics are, in my opinion, both a lovely use of HD technology and a striking contrast to it. I can't think of a single thing this game does wrong, with the possible exception of too few leaderboards. I'd love to see the current "score" leaderboards complemented by pure time-trial leaderboards, but that's a nitpicky detail for a game that feels so right.

The honorable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that didn't make the top 10, but only just.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Ikaruga
Lost Odyssey
NHL 09
Professor Layton & The Curious Village
Rainbow Six Vegas 2
World of Goo

The dishonorable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that disappointed me.

Fable II
Fallout 3
Football Manager 2009
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix

The questionable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that, for one reason or another, I missed.

Prince of Persia
FIFA Soccer 09
Time Hollow
Lock’s Quest
Star Ocean: First Departure
Persona 3 FES
Zoids Assault, Operation Darkness, Spectral Force 3
Wipeout HD
Peggle Nights
The Last Guy
Soul Bubbles
PixelJunk Eden
Mirror’s Edge
Valkyria Chonicles
Mother 3
Boom Blox
LittleBigPlanet   read


11:31 PM on 12.24.2008

Good pick on L4d, Dtoid. THE WAY-TOO-LATE RESPONSE FORM BRIZNILLIAM!

I started writing a response to Dtoid's GOTY when it came out, but then I had to leave the city for Xmas and forgot to finish it. Well, here it is, to those who'd still read something based on an almost-week-old story.

Left 4 Dead is a no-brainer this year. Anthony said it best when he said it invented a genre. Dtoid picked the right games to nominate, but it DEFINITELY picked the right game to win it. That's all there is to it.

Braid was the absolute zenith of independent games this year. It made people talk in ways they never thought they'd talk about games again. At the same time, it was plagued by questionable themes and wore its non-budget a bit too proudly on its sleeve. While it'd be a gutsy pick for "game of the year," and might have been the most IMPORTANT game of the year (the years to come will prove this if gaming can move into an age of auteurs like Blow envisions), it simply isn't GOTY material. It's a stepping stone for GOTYs for years to come, though.

Castle Crashers exists as Braid's counterpoint; instead of a beard-stroking, rather pretentious showgazer of a single-plaer experience, you have the slickest indie fart joke ever created. Don't get me wrong, I love Castle Crashers. It's smoother than a vaseline-covered Crocodile Mile mat and it's incredibly cathartic and satisfying. But, it's also so intensely riding the nostalgia-wave that it forgot to come from 2008. It made a wheel rounder than any other while other games put seats, a chassis, and air conditioning on wheels that were already good enough. CC is amazing, but to call it GOTY would be to kick innovation in the nuts.

Those who consider Fallout 3 to be the GOTY must have played a different game from the one I played. Slowly-paced, buggy, soulless and downright crashy, this game was probably one of my biggest disappointments of the year. While I never intended to hold it against its predecessors, it does so itself by giving you so much of the SAME as those games, but without even a modicum of charm or heart or soul or whatever you call that spark that makes a great game amazing. Fallout 3 is sexy, but offers the user NOTHING worth writing a Memory Card article about in ten years. Then again, maybe I just didn't give it a fair shake after the third time I got stuck in a hole, two hours after saving, and couldn't jump or run out.

Lost Odyssey is an utter blockbuster, and the closest thing to an FF/DQ killer that we've seen in ages. Beautifully scripted and executed, it truly propelled the JRPG to the "next gen." But there lies its weakness: it's a JRPG. I loved it for many reasons, but I was also bored for many reasons. While I believe this genre could once again be relevant, I don't think anyone on Earth is moving it in that direction. JRPGs, despite big budgets, big scenes, and fantastic writing, are hurtling further and further from importance by staring at their own feet too hard.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was a hell of a lot of fun. But, as a fan of MGS1, 2, and 3, I also personally feel it was a giant embarrassment to the series. For all of the spending and lateness and promise and such, what we got was a series of cutscenes strung together by the most excrucatingly tenuous grasp on the concept of "narrative" that it goes well past "experimental" or "edgy" and about eight kilometers into "batshit insane" territory. Seriously, when MGS was weird, it was charming. Now it's just exhausting. MAKE A NEW GAME, HIDEO, AND DON'T MAKE IT METAL-GEAR RELATED.

Left 4 Dead perfected the shooter, redefined the shooter, and gave us some damn good co-op in a generation where we're starved for a multiplayer non-competitive experience that doesn't feel tacked on. And I'm not a Valve fanboy, either. I liked Portal and HL2 but I didn't get al evangelical about it. I think I like L4D more than either of them.   read


3:15 PM on 12.10.2008

I met up with Dtoiders in NYC! For Blip! It was AMAZING!



This post is incredibly late due to the fact that I was busy catching up with real life (since I didn't really get online, since I was in NYC for five days...). But... wow, I love Dtoiders. I love NYC. I love Blip. (To read more about my whole adventure, I did some fake-twitter-style posts on my blog, here and here.)

Sadly I didn't pack a digital camera (only my artsy-fartsy film camera, with which I didn't catpure any humans' souls while there). Regardless, I hope you'll let me gush a bit, website!

Zen Albatross, we could NOT have asked for a better host. It was totally awesome crashing at your place, you were really flexible and awesome to us, and even took in that poor homeless Al kid! You, sir, ARE A HERO!

Cataract, I'm glad you were a part of our weekend entourage! I'm sad to hear that your 'fro is gone, but glad you joined me in the drinking of 25 cent deathjuices!

Anonymous Noob, I am also glad you chilled with us all weekend! When you got on the F train and everyone freaked out... that shit was so classic. SO CLASSIC.

Samit, Glad you made it out a couple nights! I was worried that we were gonna miss each other all weekend, but it came through... sorry for texting you about how MTL was beating NYR, haha!

Tiff, Thanks so much for coming out to the museum with us! I wish we'd had a couple more chances to chill out-- I guess it's all the more reason for you to make it up to MTL sometime!

ScottyG, Was really happy to see another Canadian down there! I'm gonna tell my buddy Angus in Fredricton to get in touch w/ you, do you play fighting games? He needs to keep sharp, so I don't school him to hard when he comes back for Xmas...

Superflossy, make sure you go to that Brooklyn Museum exhibition before it disappears! It was fantastic! Also, it was AWESOME when you pulled Egg up on stage... :D

Phist, you are a totally awesome dude and made me feel like a champ because you laughed at all of my jokes! Even the only-mildly-funny ones!!!

RiserGlen, you still confuse the shit outta me with your real name not being Glen! Keep reppin' Ventrilo, I'll be back soon!

The Incredible Edible Egg, you had some wicked moves with those incredible LED-able eggs (see what I did there?)! Glad you got a moment on stage too, CLASSIC!

Tino, dude! I made a bit of a knob of myself when we spoke on Sat, but I blame OSAMA BIN LADEN (because I can). I wish we got more of a chance to chat!

Ascythopicism, let me know if you ever want to know more about that stuff we were talking about before! VAGUENESS!

Galagabug, Were you with us at any point? You shoulda been! Thanks for the hostel tip (although I ended up staying @ another one)!


Infinite Obscurity, PetiePal, casualweaponry, Nintendoll, Black Yoshi, Buster Slash, Bahamut Zero, Powerglove, and Pedro -- I wish we'd had more of a chance to chat, sadly I was to usy getting mashed (YOUR AMERICAN DALE'S PALE ALE PLEASES ME) + getting down (AS DOES YOUR AMERICAN SONGS). Especially you, Black Yoshi, you seemed to be the popular kid.


AND ALL OF YOU ADD ME ON XBOX LIVE -- IT'S BRILLIAM. LETS PLAY A GAME SOMETIME.   read


11:25 AM on 11.27.2008

REcording the first ep of "A Fistful Of Tokens" podcast. Please respond to the "user question of the week!"

Hey everyone,

my buddies and I are doing a new podcast this week called "A Fistful Of Tokens," which is basically going to be the videogame equivalent of the BBC Radio 5 sports show "Fighting Talk." More or less, it's a panel-style show where the members are asked questions and respond with hilarious rants, and receive points for punditry and style. There are five questions total. One of the questions is a "user question" where I ask the general gaming public for a response to a simple question. I read the funny ones "on the air." Thing is, people gotta keep their answers short or I can't read 'em.

So, give me your quick one-line zingers to respond to this (ideally should take me no more than 5 - 10 seconds to read):

What videogame franchise needs to be laid to rest, and what should it be replaced with? For the "replacement" you can make something up. This is where the funny comes in, right?

Since this is the first podcast for A Fistful of Tokens, there's no old episodes I can forward you to, but I promise once episode 1 is live I'll let you know! Gimme your contact info if you want me to let you know as soon as it's live or something.

For more info on the format, download the fighting talk podcast (somewhere on the bbc site) or check the wikipedia entry (somewhere on the wikipedia site).

GUESS WHO'S TOO LAZY TO FIND LINKS HA HA! Also posted this on the forums so EFF YOU I AM SPAMMING DESTRUCTOID NOW I GUESS. I GET A FREE PASS SINCE THE SITE OWES ME LIKE 6 FREE BEERS FOR FRONTPAGED ARTICLES WHICH I HAVE YET TO DRINK!!!!!!!!!!   read


12:14 PM on 11.26.2008

DEAR DESTRUCTOID, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE NUMBER 5

Hey, it's Brilliam. Remember me? I used to write a bunch of stuff. Recently I've been writing for my own blog on my own website, brilli.am/writes, but that's not what I am here to talk about today. I wanna talk about something that came up in response to Dexter345's fabulous post about the scores given by Dtoid's reviewers. Truly a fasinating post; read it if you haven't already. However:

I am here to talk about two words: mediocre and average.

me·di·o·cre
Ordinary: not extraordinary; not special, exceptional, or great; of medium quality.

av·er·age
Neither very good nor very bad; rated somewhere in the middle of all others in the same category.

CAN WE PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT WHETHER A 5 MEANS MEDIOCRE OR AVERAGE? I mean, seriously, people. Do you know what mediocre means? IT DOESN'T MEAN BAD, JESUS! BAD MEANS BAD!

I apologize if this has already been brought up. I heard the question on Podtoid this morning as to whether 5 means mediocre and average, which disappointed me, and was further disappointed when they ACTUALLY TRIED TO ANSWER THE QUESTION. C'mon! It means both! Theym eans the same thing! There's a reason that "medium" and "mediocre" sound similar! Soylent Green is people! KEYSER SOZE!

Etymologically yours (also, entomologically yours),

Brilliam "Thunderbug" McThrilliam   read


4:08 PM on 11.19.2008

Stop Saying Retro.



I posted this to my blog, brilli.am/writes, and figure I'd post it on my c-blog too, because I have ignored it for FAR too long. I hope you like!

Before I begin, I'd just like to applaud the gaming blogosphere for their hard work in fixing the gamer's taxonomy; Mitch Krpata famously knocked it out of a park almost a year ago when he examined the "hardcore" and "casual" descriptors on games. Douglas Wilson took a crack at the term "gamer," challenging its use and its validity. Countless bloggers have questioned the definition of art, and how it relates to games. I can't remember now, but some have even questioned the term "video game," as this form of media doesn't require video (like AudiOdyssey) or, err, games, really (Anthony Burch takes the piss out of a piece of Interactive Entertainment for calling itself a game, but if we don't call it a video game, what do we call it?). Certainly, the entire industry and community is filled with terms that may have meant something once, but have since become obsolete or have fallen into misuse. While nobody has really adopted these terms, yet, it's good food for thought; knowing the value of what we're saying is integral for successful communication. For example, while I might still say "hardcore" or "casual" gamer, I am now fully aware of their limitations.

I'd like to nominate the next word for close scrutiny: retro.

Now, this isn't an entirely useless word, when it comes to games; games that are from a certain time are retro, simply because they are no longer contemporary but back in style. It's cool to have images of 8-bit sprites on your website, or Atari logos on your T-shirts. For younger generations, the simple act of playing vintage games could be considered "retro" (for those of us old enough to have played it the first time around, though, it's really just "nostalgia" or, in some cases, "preference"). New games, though, don't deserve the term. They are new games, with new ideas, and to essentially call them old is a disservice.

The worst way in which this happens has to be with games that operate on a two-dimensional plane, or with sprites instead of polygons. Braid is a wonderful example of a game that's been called "retro" that entirely doesn't deserve the moniker. To the credit of most literate game fans, I haven't seen this game get called retro much, but I have seen it. What you have here is a wildly imaginative video game that does a pretty good job of transcending its genre with mind-bending puzzles, beautiful watercolor art assets and a clever (if a bit tacked-on) speed run leaderboard. Sure, it passes reference to retro games, but if anything, that's just proof that it isn't retro itself; how many old-school games that you can think of are making ironic postmodern references to their predecessors (as nauseating at that sounds)? I can't think of any.



Another example that's come up recently is Ikaruga. That's a game that brings a lot of new stuff to the table: a veritcal shooter that brings incredible 3D graphics that aren't gaudy or inscrutable; a completely new "polarity" system that makes enemy bullets as beneficial as they are dangerous; and a bizarro plot, the likes of which I've never seen in another vertical shooter (or any other... err, media, for that matter). I just spilled the beans on why people call it retro, though; vertical shooter. Since it's a genre steeped in tradition that dates back to arcades (make a game hard and give it zillions of points so people will feed it quarters and try to beat each other), it must be retro. This simply isn't true. If that were the case, we'd call Chris Farley's comedy "retro comedy" because he was just doing mild permutations on Three Stooges physical comedy. We'd call Quentin Tarantino movies "retro cinema" because they're so heavily informed by Westerns and kung fu flicks and the nouvelle vague and whatever else he claims he loves. The thing is, we just don't do this. We call the Three Stooges retro, we call Spaghetti Westerns retro, but we don't call current things that are influenced by them retro. Why are we doing it for games? See also the incredible early 2008 Xbox Live Arcade game, n+, or the upcoming (and Montreal local!) Fez: they're certainly retro-inspired, but to call them retro is incorrect, and invalidates the new, exciting innovations they bring to games today.

It gets more dicey as we get closer to things that actually are "retro." Three recent games made me start thinking about the word retro, and really are the core of my argument: Pac-Man Championship Edition, Galaga Legions, and Space Invaders Extreme. Upon first glance, the retro moniker might make a bit of sense; after all, they're using what are essentially the original sprites in gameplay that very heavily informed by the games upon which they are based. However, Pac-Man C.E. is, when you get right to its guts, as far as possible from Pac-Man as you can get; gone are the days of pattern memorization. This game starts slow, but by the end of its five-minute runtime (a new feature), it's become a twitchy stressfest joy explosion. Similarly, Galaga Legions only looks like Galaga, and evne then, only slightly; its use of remote satellites is the crux of its gameplay, and it's entirely new. Also new: trapping bugs to make them fight for you. They've also downplayed pattern recognition in favour of an assault on the senses, rewarding twitch and improvisation in addition to committing levels to mind. Space Invaders Extreme takes one of the most simple games ever made and turns it into a maximalist circus that plays like a Basement Jaxx record sounds-- it takes the monotonous pacing of the original game and flips it on its ass.

The point is, all of these games have retro-informed art assets, but they’re all new games—whether they’re new like Chris Farley and Quentin Tarantino are “new” or not, they should be called “retro games.” Save that term for Galaxian and Pitfall and Duck Hunt. What most of these games have in common is that they reject a three-dimensional playfield, which is something that’ll never go out of style (until we have a three-dimensional game display). A two-dimensional game plays to the dimensions that your television set can actually display; it doesn’t attempt to feign a third dimension with polygons and lighting effects and bloom and blur. Personally, I need to temper my 3D game-playing with doses of 2D games, simply because I get tired of parsing foreground from background. There’s no nostalgia in it; I just don’t appreciate the added challenge of imagining depth where there is none all of the time. It pains me when people essentially call a game old because it doesn’t have that one feature that’s in most “cutting edge” games. Is a game retro if it doesn’t have online play? That’s in most current games. What if it doesn’t have branching narratives? Space Marines? Gamer points or trophies? Simply rejecting a recent development in games doesn’t automatically age or depreciate your game. So please consider this when you call something “retro,” and stop diluting the meaning of a word that means something that is outdated but has returned to “the norm.”   read


11:49 AM on 10.24.2008

REVIEW: All Of The Final Fantasy Games

I wrote this a while ago for The Spoilerist which is a site that we wrote fake reviews and stuff with the intention of baiting people into thinking we were idiots. I will probably post it there sometime, but in the meantime, my Dtoid blog is going un-updated, and my rank is dropping (I was in the top 200 a month ago! Pew pew pew!) and I want to give y'all something. Take this with a grain of salt, I'm trying to be dumb.



This review is a super-review! It will review all of the relevant games in the Final Fantasy Universe, so that you might know which ones are most important, and you can choose to play them or simply read this and skip them all! It is your choice but I am warning you now, if you decide to play them all through to the finish you are looking at roughly 1000 hours of your life. That number is staggering. Even if you spend 12 hours a day playing, leaving only time to eat, poo and sleep, my calculations show that it would take you approximately until the year 1997! Astounding!

Final Fantasy (Original)
This is the game that started the end (get it? final? started? ended? HAHA!). There is a rumor that it was called Final Fantasy because it was to be the last game ever made by Squaresoft, who were tanking because they were making games like Tom Sawyer's Adventures. In Japan only. With blackface children. HOW COULD THEY HAVE BEEN FAILING?

Everything changed with FF came out because it was so awesome. You could make your little men! Then fight goblins and get treasure! And the black belt could become a ninja! It was the best thing ever. It was so good that it turned Squaresoft's luck around, and they were able to keep making games like...

Final Fantasy II, AKA Final Fantasy II (Japan) (that's 2) (two)
This is the Japanese FF2, not the English one. It was the next game they made! Apparently it was really bad, and was made by the SaGa guy who made some REALLY QUESTIONABLY AWFUL games later on as well. In fact, it makes one wonder, how is he still employed? He has virtually no good games to his name, but Square keeps allowing him to make games like SaGa Fronier, Romancing SaGa, Legend of Mana, Final Fantasy Legend II... I could go on, and believe me, nobody likes them. Perhaps he is sweetly retarded, or is married to the CEO's sister, or knows where the secret Square treasure is and is holding it hostage. Who knows? Skip this game. I can't believe a fan translated it to English. Something to be said for completists, I guess.

Final Fantasy III, aka Final Fantasy III (three) (arabic numbering: 3)
This was also on Nintendo and later on the DS. It is basically the same as every other FF game. Pretty people, critical hits, a girl... all that stuff. I played it for about 20 minutes.

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (aka "Final Fantasy Mystic Quest 1")
NOW we're talking. This is the good shit. Play this game. If you like it, play the rest of the Final Fantasy games. If you hate it, you'll probably hate all the other games too. And while you're at it, skip Half-Life and Prince of Persia too, because they are basically cheap imitations of this brilliant SNES masterpiece of legend. Speaking of Legend...

Final Fantasy Legend
This is for Game Boy and is really amazing too! If you are a lizard in this game, and you eat the meat of a bee, you will turn into a plant. If you are a mutant, you can get a spell called "GAS" that does damage. You climb a tower in this game that, INEXPLICABLY, has an ocean in it, and a SKY. What the fuck? Play this.

Final Fantasy Adventure
This is actually a precursor to Secret of Mana, and is for the Game Boy. This probably means it sucks as Secret of Mana is a pile of dog shit. Play Secret of Evermore instead, because DOGS ARE KAWAII!!! ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^

Final Fantasy IV, aka Final Fantasy II
This game made it to America! It is famous for having a sad bard who is spoony, an old man who is Tellah, and two children made of stone! Also there's something about a dark knight who turns to the light side like Star Wars Episodes I-III but played backwards. Whatever! Yawnsville! At least there are some sexy dancing girls in every pub so you can get your penis off while playing. There's also a shirtless guy with a ponytail who fights with claws so you can get your penis off while playing.

Final Fantasy V
I like to call this one "Final Fantasy Vee" even though it should be a "FIVE" not a "VEE!" Anyway it stars a guy named Butz who rides on an emu and runs away from an earthquake. I didn't get very far but there's also a female-to-male crossdresser, the first and last in the Final Fantasy series (now all crossdressers only go the other way) (wait that's probably a lie).

Final Fantasy VI, aka Final Fantasy III
North America's FIRST FFIII, and Japan's ONLY FFVI. It is considered the best by many, possibly the majority, of the fans of the series. I chock this up to them all being creepy pedophiles who want to have wild feral sex with Gau, a little boy with a lithe, knotted, rippling body and the spirit of a fierce, caged SEX tiger. Dirty, dirty fans. Shame on all of you. It is also a game where the main character gets to use a walking tank for a while, which I suppose is cool. There's a guy named Cyan. That's a thing, I guess. And a GHOSTTTT TRAAAAIIINNN!!!! It's been so long since I played it that I forget who ends up being the ghosts. If Scooby Doo is anything to go on it is probably some sort of child-hating groundskeeper.

[i]Final Fantasy VII[/]
Big hair! Big swords! Big phallic towers! This game meets all of your penis-metaphor needs! Also, Tifa has substantial titties. This game is porn. Google Image Search this game with the SafeSearch off and I'm sure you'll find proof soon enough. It does however have a snowboarding minigame! EXXXX FFFUUUCCCKKIINNGGG TTTTTREEEEEEME!

Final Fantasy Tactics
Imagine a Final Fantasy game. Now make it funner. It's called FF Tactics and you should probably play it unless you are an enemy of freedom (in which case you should stop reading because I don't like you).

Final Fantasy VIII (EIGHT/8/ATE)
A criminally overhated game. You don't have to run in circles to level up to win! Oh no! It relies on tactics in battle instead of time wasted! The horror! It was a slightly less childish storyline! NOOO! THE MAIN CHARACTER'S HAIR ISN'T THREE FEET TALL! CALL THE POLICE! ARREST SQUARE! FOR STEALING MY HEART!!!!!!!!

Final Fantasy IX (NEIN/NINE/9)
After the huge backlash from VIII, Square decided to just make a REALLY SHITTY GAME so the fans would be appeased. FFIX was born and for some reason people liked it. They are butt-nuggets.

Final Fantasy X (in French, ca c'est Final Fantasy Dix) (aka Final Fantasy DIX NUTS) (only funny if you know how to pronounce dix in french)
This Final Fantasy game doesn't look like jagged polygons rubbing each other in rough, brutal, SEXUAL ways. That's enough to make it better. Plus it has a game that is basically water polo, but entirely underwater with infinite air, and stupid RPG attacks. Also, the main character looks like the VIII guy and people freaked out but then they played the game and they kinda liked it. Whatever.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
If you wanted to play this game with four friends, and had none of the equipment, but wanted to play it right, you would need to spend about $1000 dollars (gamecube, four game boys, four connectors, the game, a cheap used TV). And then you realize the game is an excuse for your friends to take your treasure. Fuck them and get Pac-Man VS. instead. Much better use of the Game Boy connector. Also, let's talk about how this game has CRYSTAL and CHRONICLES in its name. Basically this game is trying to get kids hooked to meth and other-drug-laced weed. CRYSTAL! CHRONIC! FANTASY!

Final Fantasy XI
Never played it, but since it's an MMO I am sure it is a loom of sadness that takes the wool of time and money and weaves it into a brilliant yarn of misery. Like FFI, you can be a red mage. Unlike FFI, you can't enjoy it.

Final Fantasy XII (aka FF DODECAHEDRON)
It's like an MMO with none of the other people playing. Instead you get to practice your programming chops by setting your team mates up like computers. If this game were online-enabled, with two friends or something, it would have bee nthe best game, bar none. Especially with voice chat, all yelling "I NEED A HEAL" etc. Too bad they didn't do that. Still a pretty good game, and a nice departure from the same old boring shit. Battle-wise, anyway. The story is still the same old boring shit.

Final Fantasy XIII (cockneys pronounce it fuh-EEN, mate, you got five pee for the CHOOB MATE?)
I played it, you can skip it.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
YOUR EYES WILL FALL OUT. WHY IS THE GBA SO HARD TO LOOK AT.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire Of The Rift
GUYS WHY DIDN'T YOU FIX IT? ARGH I STILL GET NECKACHES FROM YOUR LITTLE SCREENS.

I am sure I have skipped some games, so feel free to post in the comments about them so people know the lowdown. For example, I missed the DS Crystal Chronicles, FF Legend 2/3, FFXII Revenant Wings, any games starring chocobos, probably some others, I forget, but frankly I AM SICK OF THIS TOPIC.

I GIVE THE FINAL FANTASY SERIES A VII OUT OF XII!

I wrote about a dozen of these, and if people like it I may bring some of the other ones to my dtoid blog. Beats writing new shit, anyway!   read


12:45 PM on 10.02.2008

Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is a Mediocre Relationship

I haven't "finished" Final Fantasy Tactics A2, yet. I have, however, at the time of this writing, logged approximately 105 hours-- far more than I thought I would ever spend on this game. It's something I repeated to myself, from the first hour: this game is most certainly not worth my time. Regardless, with a lack of other games grabbing my attention in the past few months (and an inability to properly emulate on my DS the one game I truly wish I were playing for the first time, Earthbound), my two+ hours of commute a day have culminated in a shitload of time walking around on little grids casting little spells.

Still, I can't figure out how I spent so much time playing the game.



To understand the amount of time I spent playing this game, you must first understand the context in which I play it; five days a week, I roll out of bed at 8:30 in the morning. After a quick wash and brush of teeth, I stumble out into the sunlight and get on a bus. This is, ideally, at about 9:05 in the morning. I'm on this bus for ten minutes at absolute most, and I transfer into a subway system just east of downtown Montreal. The subway takes under fifteen minutes, and eventually drops me off at a subway station just west of downtown Montreal. There, at 9:30, I am supposed to meet a co-worker (who was once my boss but I have since moved out of his department) who will then drive me to work-- a thirty minute trek far into the high-tech-industrial slag belt of the "west island," as it is called, where everyone has eyes that look dull, as if the life inside them was stamped out by these giant warehouse-office monoliths surrounded by acres of useless Kentucky Bluegreen. It's just north of the airport, actually, which may explain why the building protocol appears to be "build as horizontally and cheaply as possible" and "put a lot of toxically green grass around so the airports know this isn't a landing strip." It's also worth mentioning that I end up waiting upwards of twenty minutes per day for this co-worker because he is always late (but never gets in trouble, setting a hilarious double standard for the small office, as he is a management guy). It ends up being over an our of soul-deadening commute. The way back's even worse, because dude won't drive me back to civilization, so I need to take some filthy suburban bus back to the outer edges of the subway system. It ends up being about 2.5 hours a day of commute.



Due to this, I end up spending a lot of time with my DS. Sometimes I read, sometimes I just listen to music, and very occasionally I even manage to nap, but most of that time is sucked up with DS games. Some worked better than others; while I was still taking a terrible, terrible bus to work (before I negeotiated the most reluctant car pool ever), I attempted to struggle through Trauma Center on a bumpy road with a well-scratched touch screen. In fact, most games where the touch screen is vital were almost impossible to play. And forget using the microphone on the subway; even if you were willing to make that much of an ass of yourself, there's no way the device would your shouts and scratches over the metal-on-metal screech that Montreal's "ligne vert" emits.

Eventually, I found that turn-based strategy games worked best; they could be controlled digitally, they didn't punish me for riding public transit (which would, as implied before, make me shake like a Parkinson's in-patient). There are two problems with this: I have a lot of time to play games on the bus, and I'm very picky about my turn-based games. So, with my level of pickiness, I didn't think I'd get into FFTA2: I heard it was slow, and I didn't like FFTA that much before it (I don't think I even beat it). However, I got into FFTA2, and... well, that was when it came out. I'm still playing it. But what's strange is that how different the experience is from any other game I've played this much.



Most games I play, I play for pleasure. I play them because I like to play good games, and they are good games. Games like Chrono Trigger were something I looked forward to playing, or Tetris, or Super Mario Brothers 3; this game is routine. I wake up, play it, work, play it, get home. It's a blurry line between work and non-work.

Why is it so similar to work, though? I mean, there are things there that certainly feel like non-work. My neurons send the right electric currents when I see the beautiful sprites. The logic that goes into movement and execution of attacks also inspires my brain-lobes to glow with happy electricity. There's certainly stuff to love. And, the things to hate aren't enough to make me stop playing; isn't that what makes a game good? It's sort of like a bad relationship; you know, when you stay with your significant other because the inertia involved. You're not sexually attracted to each other anymore, and you fight all the time, and there are other people who you'd probably jump given the opportunity... but you share bills, and live together, and moving sucks, and things were good once, and maybe they will be again, and maybe this is just a rut. It's not good. But it's good enough.

One of the other things that this game gest flak for is the pace. Indeed, there are entire hour-long bus rides where I accomplish exactly nothing due to the lethargic pace of this game. It's like getting a Miles Davis seven-inch single, and slowing down the rpms on your record player to 33 and a third. Each heroine-soaked note is twice-iced over and infused with molasses. Why did Square do this? Did nobody on their QA team mention that the games about as peppy as an opiate drip? Yet, it's one more thing that makes it comfortable-- after a long day of rushing around, sitting down and takeing three minutes just to scroll to a weapon you want to equip can be... relaxing. It's more of a numbing feeling than a happy feeling, but sometimes that's just what you need, isn't it?



If I were the type of person to assin numbers to games, I'd be stumped. What do you give a game that holds your attention for nearly 110 hours, but you never really enjoy? Surely, to someone, that's worth it, but to another, that's awful. There's no real number that says what I want to say: "it's a lazy, alcoholic, no-good girlfriend, but it's my lazy, alcoholic, no-good girlfriend."   read





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