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12:02 PM on 07.13.2015

Better with Age: Gotcha!

There I stood, in a grassy field marked by the footprints of an ancient creature, ready to take my first step into a new experience. It did not take long until I had selected my prey. Determined, I prepared my net and waited for the perfect moment to strike. Then it happened. I ran up, swung the net over my head and on top of what I believed was my goal. It did nothing. I was immediately attacked, leaving me with only four cookies left. Turns out I wasn't supposed to catch those little orange things.

So, my first experience with Ape Escape was rough, but who could blame me? I didn't know what to make of those weird sticks. Until that point, it had been all about pads, bout them pads, no trouble, so I wasn't exactly on board with the erect rubber nipples growing out of my controller. Looking back, ironically, there probably wasn't a better game I could've played to get me used to the analog sticks, but I did not want the change at all. Despite that, I still played it a lot, but not without switching over to games where I could use that sweet, familiar d-pad. Yes, even in 3D games. I was a dumb kid.

But time passes, we grow as people, try new things, change and get smarter. I don't remember exactly when it was that I returned to Ape Escape, determined to capture every monkey in the game. It might have been around 2010 or 2011. In any case, it was quite the surprise to finally get a sense of how good the game was, having gotten used to the directional mushrooms over the years. 

To those not sure what all the fuzz is about (since most of it is stirred up by me), Ape Escape is a 3D action platformer for the original PlayStation (the one with the cool noise at the start). It's another one of those "open level + task" kind of deals, which I'm sure you're all familiar with, but what sets it apart are the controls and the tasks themselves. See, the likes of Super Mario 64 and Spyro the Dragon are the "basic" ways to pull off these games. They are different, yeah, but they scratch the same itch. This game is more like scratching an itch slightly to the left of that.

The story is that a young monkey named Specter gets his hands on a helmet that increases his intelligence and turns him evil, leading him to gather an army of helmet monkeys to go back in time and change history with their superior technology. A kid named Spike (and his Milhouse wannabe of a friend) is sucked in, and the dude who made both the time machine and the helmets tells him to clean up the whole mess by capturing all the monkeys using a high tech super net and a lightsaber that's set to stun (before you get all the other sweet gadgets). You might have noticed that this is glorious bullshit nonsense of the highest order, and I love it. Way to take a silly idea and run with it!

So, let's talk about collectibles, and how they don't usually fight against you. Like, you don't see something like a power star run away, swim, punch you, shoot at you, throw bombs at you or even jump into a tank or a UFO in order to fight back. The monkeys in this game do all of those things, and it's basically what the game is all about, even though you've got plenty of "common" enemies as well. They have vastly different weapons and abilities too, more than enough to carry the entire game, and they've even got unique names. My favourite one is Lens (PAL name), a heavily armed monkey found in a hidden cave behind a waterfall, ready to attack on sight. What a clever little bastard!

So I come back to the game all those years later, and it plays brilliantly, even through the camera has to be adjusted a bunch. But it was when completing everything that I started noting a little something that's been crucial in my decision to consider it my all time favourite game:

Ape Escape doesn't have a bad level.

It doesn't even have a boring one. Every single level is completely awesome and memorable to me. All of them are unique to each other. One level takes place in a rainy lake. Another leads to an active volcano, where you need to get a monkey off of an angry t-rex. Another takes place in some lost ruins full of underground tunnels. Another one makes you slide polar bears across ice. Run along The Great Wall of China, jump into the stomach of a huge dinosaur, destroy sand castles at the beach, whatever time travel allows you to do. Each one has a different theme, as well as different music. Every animal has different behavior and every button has a different function. There isn't a single part of the game that I don't look forward to when starting a new playthrough. It never allows you to get bored or frustrated, it just keeps getting better. When the game first threw the massive Specter Land level at me, I got extremely excited, and it really is one of the most climactic and gigantic final levels ever, easily up there with this baby!

The game is pretty long (20 stages, most of them very big), especially for a single disc, but it never gets repetitive, yet it also never needs to spice things up with forced minigames. It does have minigames, but all of them are bonus unlockables, and the main game remains pretty much the same all the way through. Not once are you actually forced into racing, boxing or twin stick shooting, even though all of that is in the game. The rules don't change, and if you just want to catch monkeys, you can do that. Only slight exception happens in one of the final levels with the roller coaster, but even that is just timed jumping, which isn't too different from everything else.

So yeah, Ape Escape is fucking awesome, as I've made sure to mention in several other blogs. It's a fast paced, wonderfully charming hurricane of fun that's a blast from beginning to end. It's stood the test of time with ease, and I will continue to sing its praises until it gets the recognition it deserves. Despite being a financial and critical success back in the day, nobody really talks about it, and I find that incredibly strange for a game with so much to offer.

It's a huge shame that Sony hasn't done anything interesting with the franchise for years. I can only imagine what they could do with the technology we have now. The way levels could look, the new gadgets that could be made, the way social features could be implemented in a way that's actually cool. It's a huge well of untapped potential, yet the brand is as dead as they get. Maybe one day it'll get another chance to shine. Recent years have shown us that nothing is impossible, so being a bit hopeful is perfectly reasonable.

Knowing where and when to keep a game simple is, in my opinion, key to making the game age well, and this is a great example of why that is. It could've made the mistake of complicating its use of the analog sticks in order to show off, and the result would probably be the kind of game that's awkward to pick up years later, but even though the controls are still unique, they feel more natural than ever before due to the dual analog layout being a modern standard, and I could not be happier with it.

I will never stop loving this babe of a game. *smooch*

Due to the timing of this blog, I would like to add that Ape Escape was undoubtedly heavily influenced by the work of recently deceased gaming legend Satoru Iwata. May he rest in peace.

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5:36 AM on 06.18.2015

E3: The Best Ones (imo obv.)

Not much of an introduction needed here, as the title says it all.

Still, to be a bit more precise, I will pick the game that I am the most excited for from each conference. Except EA and the PC show, both of which I skipped and neither of which got me excited for anything. Sorry.

Oh, and then I'll give my reasoning too. Obviously! Why even write a blog otherwise?

 

BETHESDA was burning out of control with Doom (4)

I have to congratulate Bethesda with their first press conference ever. To be honest, I think they did a better job than anyone else at presenting their games, and it certainly helps that their line-up was strong, closing and ending on the biggest releases. Fallout 4 looked impressive, and will definitely please RPG fans (I might even give it a shot myself), but Doom is way further up my alley. A magnificent return of fun, fast paced circle-strafing and fireball-dodging that manages to be everything I ever wanted and more. It's got tall, impressive looking arenas, and I think having health being dropped by enemies is a surprisingly great way to always make combat a priority. It looks good too. Everything is gritty in a somewhat stylized way, weapon effects look great, and there's something about the way the hellish, fire-orange environments clash with the clean, white UI that strangely appeals to me. This is a proper modernized Doom. It's not a rehash of the old ones, sticking to tradition for the sake of it, but it also avoids being another Doom 3 situation where it misses the entire point. It takes the core of Doom and does something new and exciting with it. Instead it manages to hit a great balance between old and new.

Oh, and Doom Snapmap. Holy shit yes. Everyone wanted this to be moddable, but they straight up gave us the tools and made it a feature. That is the best icing that has ever even touched a cake. So pumped!

Followed by: Fallout 4, for above reasons, and maaaybe Dishonored 2, if it promises to behave and not shit on the carpet.

 

MICROSOFT made all the 30's kids nostalgic with Cuphead

Now, while I admittedly don't have much to base this on, it seems to me that some people are still avoiding and looking down on low budget indie titles. All I can say to that is please don't. Those games tend to be the most creative and innovative ones, the ones that don't need to consider financial risk. Cuphead is probably one of the strongest arguments as to why indies represent a better future (not to sound like a sleazy politician) for the medium.

Has any game ever actually looked this much like a cartoon? Several have gotten close, but all of them were recognizable as games from most screenshots. Yet every single Cuphead shot looks like it's actually from an old cartoon, and the first time I ever saw it during the last E3, even though it was part of a montage, it stood out to me far more than anything else. Everything about the style nails it. The game looks absolutely authentic, not a single thing was overlooked; it seriously feels like it comes from an alternate version of the 30's or 40's where traditional cartoons were playable, and that alone has me extremely excited.

Brilliant art aside, the game seems to be a combat focused boss rush type of deal, an approach I think is wiser than making it a regular platformer. Parallax scrolling would probably have ruined the illusion, so having the camera be static was a good choice, and it should allow for some interesting bosses.

None of the shooters presented could possibly satisfy me after the new Doom, so Cuphead didn't have an awful lot of competition, but even if that was the case, it still probably would have come out on top.

Followed by: Rare Replay, which could be a good chance to catch up with some oldies.

 

UBISOFT insisted on destroying my productivity even further with TrackMania: Turbo

God damn it TrackMania, would you stop being so much fun while also having infinite content? How am I supposed to get shit done?

Ubisoft didn't bring their A-game this round, but they still had some good stuff to show us, and TrackMania Turbo coming to is definitely my choice for the best showing. Apparently, this version has already been out on handhelds, and this is like a bigger version of that? I don't know, the world of TM incarnations is confusing. 

For those of you who don't know about TrackMania, what's interesting about these games is that they aren't traditional racing games. There is competitive multiplayer that resembles racing, but it's all about mastering the track, and players do not collide with each other. Single player is pretty much the same deal, only difference being that you beat your own records and win medals. It might not sound like much fun, but as you saw during the presentation, it's all about the tracks, and the game is centered around building and sharing these tracks online. Thanks to a wide variety of track pieces, tracks often include boosters, loops, sideways driving, skipping over water (I made one of those) and using anything as a road. You will fail often, but restarts are instant, so it's always compelling to try again until you get it right. What's interesting is that Turbo might actually include collision and regular racing, an interesting evolution for a game where you can easily fly off the tracks and have to restart at a checkpoint. Makes me wonder how exactly it's gonna work. It also has that random track generator, the rollercoaster theme and split-screen. I'm ready!

Okay, so maybe this isn't something I need to get at the moment, with TM2 Stadium currently in my Steam library and taking up plenty of free time already. It's definitely something that I plan on getting though, along with other versions, like Canyon and Valley.

I don't have a problem, shut up!

Followed by: For Honor, which looks like an interesting combat game, and Rainbow Six: Siege, but mostly for the waffle walls.

 

SONY made a fool out of me with The Last Guardian

"Herp derp, they should just cancel this cause it's never coming out!" - Some asshole.

Okay, fine, that asshole was me! IT WAS ME, ALRIGHT!? I SAID IT!! I SAID IT AND I WAS WRONG, OKAY!!? OKAY!! I SAID IT!! ALRIGHT!!! FINE!!!

Maybe sometimes it's better to be wrong. That's my E3 lesson this year. Having The Last Guardian come back is a blessing, even if it was followed by the news of Beyond Good & Evil 2 pretty much being fucked (unless the annoyingly vague update means it's not, whatever). Man, it's like one game sacrificed itself for the other. In any case, at least getting one legendary game is far, far better than the great big void of nothing that I expected.

This game does admittedly look a bit dated, but only in the sense that it doesn't take full advantage of the shiny new hardware that it's on. Thankfully, it still manages to look good due to being just stylized enough, and I feel like the look of it will age well, like its predecessors. As for the gameplay, shieeet, it looks like Ico with better controls and a cooler puzzle buddy with actual AI. That's all I need, really, even though the puzzle buddy this time around is a huge, majestic creature that's probably gonna learn how to fly around the end of the game, and it's gonna be awesome and magical!

It is entirely possible that a lot of people have forgotten why they were so excited for this, as the game became a legend during its inactive years, but I honestly think that Team Ico working on it is reason enough to be pumped, being a direct follow up to Shadow of the Colossus.

Followed by: Firewatch, a funny and mysterious looking game with good acting and writing, and Horizon Zero Dawn, a game about shooting robot dinosaurs in the nads with a crossbow.

 

NINTENDO sunk my spaceship with Star Fox Zero

Worst Nintendo showing in years? Some people seem to think so, and I can see why, but this is seriously the most excited the company has managed to make me since 2007.

See, I kind of lost interest in Nintendo back around the Wii's late lifespan, as all their games started to resemble each other more and more, a trend that I'm not a fan of due to the lack of variety in style. The Wii U took that even further, and it didn't help that many of its exclusive titles did nothing for me. Mario 3D World was predictable, Bayonetta 2 was confusing and Splatoon straight up wasn't for me. But Star Fox Zero? Yeah, I can dig that!

We all have a game (or series) that we always wanted to play, but never have for some reason. Star Fox is one of my biggies, and one of the few left after catching up the last couple of years. It's definitely one of the strongest franchises Nintendo owns, a beautifully simple arcade space shooter that seems to squeeze everything out of its gameplay. In other words, exactly the type of game I enjoy the most. Furthermore, the older games look like they hold up brilliantly because of this simplicity, and this new one looks like it has far more to offer than simply being and HD incarnation. Enemies look cool and interesting, and the ship's chicken run mechanic adds a fitting dose of humor to the game, while also looking like a good time in actual gameplay.

The closest thing I've played to Star Fox has been the space combat sections in Ratchet & Clank, and I'm totally down for a deeper, full-game version of that. Bring it on!

Followed by: This is getting tough, but that Yoshi game looks like it could be fun.

 

SQUARE-ENIX gave me another chance with Hitman: Hitman

In the blog about popular games I didn't like, I made a mistake. That mistake was putting Hitman: Blood Money on there. It made me struggle, but I still want to get into it, so it hasn't failed on me like the others I mentioned. It was extremely out of place for that reason, and that became clear to me when I realized just how happy I was to see a new Hitman game, despite it following that dumb naming trend. Hopefully, putting the game on here will help fixing that mistake.

What I like about Hitman is that it's a game about killing people, but not an action game. That makes everything seem really dark, seeing as your victims have no idea that they're even in danger, and often spend their time relaxing when you approach them. It lends itself to a nice combination of mundane and crazy scenarios, as well as plenty of depth, which I greatly appreciate. My main problems with earlier entries are the controls and AI, but I get the feeling that a smoother and more modern take on it will help me adjust to the style of gameplay, allowing me to go back and have an easier time with the older ones. It's just a matter of being a bit too late to the party, but I'll make sure to be just in time for the next one.

I also feel like it's my patriotic duty to support one of the very few Danish video game companies out there. At least I dug Limbo.

Followed by: Absolutely nothing. Most of SE's stuff bores me.


You know what's awesome? This is the first time I've ever been compelled to write a blog like this. You know why? Because this was a fantastic E3!

Sure, not everyone fully delivered, but those that did more than made up for those that didn't, if you ask me. Last year didn't even come close to this. I couldn't possibly have written about almost every conference, let alone adding runner-ups that I'm genuinely excited about too. Is it the best E3 ever? Can't say, but there is absolutely no doubt that it's up there with the best. I almost feel spoiled by the amount of good stuff coming out, and my wallet will no doubt take a heavy hit.

I am a happy man who has chosen a great pastime! Everything about this E3 has me convinced that video games have a bright future ahead, and I pity anyone who can bring themselves to be cynical about it. Just look at the variety on this list, and probably your own too. Shooting, platforming, racing, puzzling, flying, whatever you're into, there's something for you.

It's been, like, the Pornhub of E3s...

 

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2:57 PM on 05.31.2015

E3: Most Wanted

Everyone's favourite commercial break is right around the corner, and it's time to do something similar to what I (and many others) did last year, which is basically writing down a "wishlist" for E3. I'll try my best to make this one a bit unpredictable, and mostly talk about things I want announced, rather than stuff we know we're going to see.

Some of these are more realistic than others, and I've decided to put some of my less believable wishes aside. Also, I won't be splitting it between each company, because there's a lot of third party stuff in here.

 

Prototype 3

Or [PROTOYPE 3], if you prefer your sentences to look horrible.

InFamous has already gotten a third installment, and Just Cause is getting one too, so I think it's time for the king of chaotic sandbox games to rise once again. Yeah, I just called it that! You know why? Because Prototype 2 was all about the magnitude of the chaos rather than the size of the world. To be fair, giving the series such a title isn't really a challenge against the more tactical InFamous games, but it's a huge, deliberate middle finger towards Just Cause 2 (which probably should've been in my previous blog, whoopsie) and its upcoming sequel. We need a Prototype 3 to show these clowns who's boss!

But we also need a Prototype 3 because the previous game is awesome, and probably my favourite sandbox game to date. In an age where devs try to make the open worlds bigger and bigger, it is lovely to have a game that's more concerned about actually putting things in the world, thereby giving you stuff to do, which makes the game fun. It's a simple formula, yet sandbox games have become so much of a dick measuring contest that people have forgotten about it. That is why we need another Prototype, to show the world what a real sandbox game looks like. This franchise is a hero, here to show us the path of the future. A future in which we piledrive people from skyscrabers and take on their appearance. A future in which we reflect rockets back at helicopters with our mutant shields. A future in which we have Wolverine claws, Scorpion chains and Kraken tentacles at our disposal. A future in which we pick up cars and run on the sidewalks and knock everyone over. A future in which we get to use every single of our enemies' weapons against them. A future in which we summon magnificent beasts to fight alongside us. A future in which we can kick people really far.

God damn, Prototype 2 is fun, and I want several other major studios to take piles of notes from it. A sequel to this could only be a good thing, to say the least, and I think it's about time one gets announced.

 

Tekken X Street Fighter

Waaay more excited about this than Tekken 7.

Street Fighter X Tekken may not have been a huge hit among many, but that has a lot to do with the company behind it. While Capcom has a long reputation of being destructively greedy, the only major bummer on Namco's part that I recall has been their underwhelming treatment of Pac Man's anniversary. Other than that, I have reason to believe Tekken X Street Fighter will deliver, should it ever come out. Only problem is that we haven't heard much from it, and we're apparently getting Tekken 7 instead, which I'm honestly not that excited about anymore. Many of the new characters are a tad on the lame side, and I would much rather play as characters like Ryu, Chun Li and M. Bison with Tekken's one-button-per-limb controls.

I'm especially excited about this because I can't play Street Fighter for shit. I struggle a lot with movement, timing and distances, and it seems impossible for me to find a character I can get into. But this might be able to change that, allowing me to slide into a Street Fighter character with familiar controls, then trying that character in an actual Street Fighter game and possibly learning it that way. It would be a brilliant gateway into an unfamiliar series, and I want Namco to get on with it, even if Tekken 7 gets put on hold.

In other words, I might need this game in order to learn another game, so waiting this long for it is irritating. Let's at least see a trailer this year.

 

Darksiders 3

We need four of these. Hell, they basically promised us that.

One game for each horseman of the apocalypse. Sounds sensible enough, and we're already halfway there. Having the series stop at two feels very dissatisfying, especially since we've already gotten glimpses of what the remaining two look like, and how one of them technically isn't a horseman, if you wanna get pendantic over semantics. Unfulfilled potential is a huge shame, even if the series is admittedly a huge Zelda ripoff.

That said, as far as ripoffs go, this series is one of the better ones, and it definitely helps its case that Zelda doesn't get ripped off nearly enough. It's a delicious formula, and I want to try it with every type of topping. Having beaten the first game, and now being on my way through the second one, I'm very satisfied with the puzzles, combat and boss fights. It never quite fails to engage me, and I never really lose track of my goals, which is a risk frequently run with games like these. I just hope a third game will give me more camera options. Don't force me to play with society's ass-backwards idea of "normal" controls (pushing left to turn right = normal, yeah okay alright).

Another wish for Darksiders 3 would be to turn the bonkers character design down. It's a bit much as it is, and it often makes characters difficult to remember for me, since so many of them are overly detailed and messier than Lionel Messi in a mess hall trying to eat spaghetti during an earthquake.

 

A Black Flag spinoff

Let's get one thing straight: The ship parts of Assassin's Creed IV were crazy good!

So good that I basically wrote a blog about it. So good, even, that they're worth suffering through tailing missions. They're finger lickin' good, and easily capable of carrying their own entire game. One with minimal time spent on foot, where the ocean is a place of wonder and opportunity. One where playing through missions isn't the goal, but where the end is only reached once you've explored and taken over everything. One where you aren't reminded that the game is a simulation within a game.

I just want a good pirate game without multi-coloured beanbag chairs! Surely that isn't too much to ask for? Because that's a weirdly specific thing to have to ask for.

Assassin's Creed is weird.

 

Confirmation that The Last Guardian, Half-Life 3 and Beyond Good & Evil 2 are not coming out, so we can all move on

Guys, we have to be real. These aren't happening.

I know, it sucks. All of these have been anticipated releases for a long time now, and I would've loved to play them all, but at this point, the waiting is doing us more harm than good. Half-Life 3 hasn't even been announced (only an expansion for the second game, which should seriously be cancelled by now), so all we'd need here is confirmation that it's not gonna happen. As for the rest, Sony and Ubisoft should just let them die. Nothing is actually in development for this long, so it's clear that something is very wrong with both of these games, whatever that may be.

Getting disappointed every single year is the least fun kind of tradition I can think of, so putting that to an end would be pretty great, like that amazing feeling you get after you stop banging your head against a brick wall for a solid hour. Those non-updates we get a couple of times each year are infuriating too. What's the point of running your mouth when you've got nothing to say? It's a huge dick move, and I really wish they would realize that nobody wants to care anymore. Some still do, still excited about what the games could deliver, but nobody wants to, so teasing them is a waste of time and effort that only causes misery.

Of course, since Half Life 3 hasn't really been announced, it probably could still happen, but after all that waiting for that last episode of 2, the wait hardly seems worth it anymore. Besides, it's better to set yourself up for a pleasant surprise rather than disappoinment.

 

Hitman and Splinter Cell sequels that please everyone

Once you move outside of Metal Gear, stealth fans get critical. Nothing proves that more than these two big names.

A series starts out on the early 2000's, gets better as time goes on, hits its peak, goes in a new direction and is torn down by the fans it's gotten. So goes the story of two men, a bald killer clone and a three-eyed ghost. What is usually left out is the fact that the newer iterations ironed out a lot of little rough spots from earlier games, so for a newcomer, those became much more accessible. In both cases, this started a horrible war in which many were killed. That's my way of saying that it made each series a bit divisive, with older games getting the majority of the popularity vote.

But what if we could all get along? What if the best aspects of both new and old could be combined to make something that's cool for everyone? We have the technology!

Seriously, if we took the controls of the newer games and combined them with the more unique and ambitious older games, aside with a touch of inspiration from Mark of the Ninja (*smooch*), I think we'd have a couple of pretty fucking awesome games on our hands. And in our hands. When we buy them. Because they're awesome.

 

Something surprising from EA

Just something that isn't completely expected.

It doesn't have to be a game or anything that I'm interested in buying, but something to make their presser at least a little bit entertaining. What even is the idea behind spending so much money to promote things that everyone knows are coming? 

To be honest, I might not even watch their conference, since it kinda bores me every year. But if I do, I better be treated to something that's at least unintentionally funny. They can do that. It's E3, man, give me something that's either exciting or stupid!

Don't be so bland, EA. You can still be an extremely unpopular company with a bit of personality and fun.

 

Year of Wario

Come on, he deserves it!

 


So that's that. Was it unexpected enough, or am I being a huge, dickish hypocrite when I give EA a hard time?

No matter what happens, I look forward to the event, and to hopefully be excited for something. There's usually at least one or two things that'll get to me, so no matter what, I've got a reason to expect a great event. 

Merry Christmas!

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6:28 AM on 05.28.2015

No sir, I don't like it...

This is my vengeance.

You knew it was coming. Those of you who read my previous blog back in April, you all knew, deep inside, that this fateful day would arrive. Gone are the simple times where you would smugly sit back and chuckle at my futile attempt to redeem that which has been declared unworthy. Now, the tables have turned, and my time has come. My time to strike upwards, towards the sacred, the powerful, the things that you may value the most! Are you nervous, dear reader? Afraid that you might walk away from here with a perspective that you do not desire? If so, then you can consider me most pleased...

(You were supposed to read all that in the voice of Tony Jay)

Now that you've been properly spooked, welcome to my sequel blog! I wasn't actually planning on doing this, but of course it was going to happen. It would be like Yin without Yang, dude, it's all about balance!

Anyway, to write a "real" introduction: We all have a certain popular games that we aren't very fond of, and I'm sure we all want others to understand why this is. Whether I think the game is actually bad or simply dislike it for other reasons (see, I can make the distinction!), it belongs on this list. That said, it is not for games I haven't even played due to lack of interest, because that list would be extremely long, not to mention boring. 

Okay then, let's get going:

 

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I'll start out by saying that I'm doing this list in reverse from last time, which means I'll start out with the strongest case first, then go more and more mild. And god damn if this isn't the strongest case by a long shot. I fucking hate Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Bought it entirely by popular demand and played through the entire thing constantly hoping that it would get better, but it didn't.

To elaborate on this, seeing as the game sells itself as a puzzle-platformer, you'd think I had a problem with the puzzles and and the platforming. You would be wrong. I actually enjoy both of those. The platforming is fun and creative, and the puzzles are pretty clever. No, my problem is that the majority of the game is combat, and the combat in this game is some of the worst I've ever experienced.

It is so bad! Stiff, awkward, repetitive and infuriating. There are way too many enemies, yet I only recall about 7 enemy types, and that's counting tiny non-threats such as bats, birds and scarabs. Your moves have long, clunky animations, and it's never clear when it's safe to do what. It's possible to be trapped on the floor between enemy attacks, with no room to get up. Blocking is done with the same button as wall running, despite the fact that you often fight in tiny rooms, so that leads to a lot of frustration too, once you're back up against a wall and the prince decides to make a vertical run for it without your consent. All of this adds up to a lot of anger and desparation, and it's the only non-stealth game I can remember in which I actively avoided combat as much as possible.

Even the good bits were ruined by the awful combat. Failing a puzzle in later areas pissed me off more than it should, because I just wanted the game misery to end at that point. I regret playing through this, and I honestly consider it a bad game. Sands of Time takes the Tomb Raider approach, but with no understanding of what made those games work. No one should ever get away with putting this much fluff into a game, and most of the enemies are clearly there to stretch an otherwise short game out, even though that short game would've been really good. Instead, we get this terrible mess.

Of all the games on the list, this is the only one that deserves all of my anger. It's aged like milk, and it wasn't even good by 2003 standards. Even people who like the game talk shit about the combat, yet somehow manage to forgive it for that, despite how big of a deal it is. Why this gets so much praise is completely beyond me.

 

Dishonored

Now then, it's time to replace the anger with sadness.

I wanted to love this game. Well, obviously, I want to at least like every game I play, but this one had me very excited! See, two of my most played games on Steam are BioShock and Mark of the Ninja, both of which I ended up having a great time with. Because of this, I was more than ready for something BioShock-like with stealth elements, and I was going into this game with a very positive mindset. Besides, pretty much every other game I've played for the first time this year has been a positive experience so far. Aside from the two I just mentioned, that includes Prototype 2, Darksiders 2, Serious Sam, Psychonauts, Payday, Shovel Knight and Shantae: Risky's Revenge. Those are very different, yet all of them delivered. Then this game comes and wipes the smile right off my face, despite me being ready to forgive it for just about anything. Presenting itself as being the type of game that can be played in two ways, stealthy and shooty-stabby-bang-bangy, simply making one of these fun would've been enough to satisfy me. Sadly, it manages neither.

Stealth in first person is a dodgy concept to begin with, but it can be done right. Probably the best way to work around it is to let you know when enemies can and can't see you. Dishonored doesn't do that. It also gives you no way of know where enemies are, so stealth in this game is some random, goofy shite that you might as well not bother with. Now, the issues with the combat are far more simple: it's clunky and glitchy. Some guy's sword motion somehow managed to do damage to me from about 2 meters away, and the main character's severe boneitis is clearly giving him trouble when it comes to swinging his tiny knife around. Really, the only efficient way of getting somewhere is running and exploiting the teleport power. Sometimes you even get a loading screen message suggesting this method, which has got to be the biggest declaration of defeat I've ever seen in a game. "Sorry guys, I know we kinda screwed up with the tactical stuff, so maybe just run through and see how that goes?"

Granted, I didn't play all the way through the game, but it did take me a while before the rough realization came to me. Mostly because being able to kill friendly NPCs is funny as balls, even if the long load times aren't always worth the automatic failure. Even the tutorial had felt rough until then, but dragging myself through the first proper mission eventually became too much. I wanted to love it so much, but I had to let it go. Playing through something that causes me nothing but frustration is not worth it, especially with all the alternatives out there. So I uninstalled it, and then I probably went for a snack. I do that a lot. It's weird that I'm not fat.

Anyway, this game was an unpleasant surprise, and I'm not giving it another go. Maybe I'll be down if they make a vastly superior sequel, but they've definitely got a lot of fixing to do. Dishonored isn't the most popular game around, but I've seen people recommend it as a legit alternative to BioShock, and that confuses me a lot.

 

Doom 3

What a twist!

No, but seriously, I'm probably too harsh on this game. It's not even that popular. Sure, it's kind of a mediocre Half-Life ripoff, but it's fairly innocent. Even for that, it did some cool stuff with lighting and shadows, and it still looks really good, even today. That said, I still have a hard time forgiving it.

What bugs me about it is not only how it fails to deliver an experience similar to Doom or Doom 2, but how nothing has any real power or weight to it, which in my opinion undermines the entire atmosphere. Guns are way too silent, to the point where it's almost comical, and the way you gently float up and down when you get punched makes the game feel slightly unfinished. It's not like guns are very powerful either, as even common enemies absorb several bullets before going down, unlike in the older games. I know this is probably because of the shift in tone and level design, but there are other, better ways to do that. Make enemies faster and/or have them do more damage. Doing that would increase the difficulty without slowing the game down, and would easily make every encounter far more intense. If things like that had been thought a bit more through, I may have enjoyed the game a ton more.

People who read my Doom 4 blog probably expected this one to be my most hated choice, but I don't actually hate it as a game, just as a concept. Sands of Time hurt me, it constantly assaulted me with its awfulness. Doom 3 is just a bit boring. Comparing the two has actually made me change my mind about a lof of the things I've said about Doom 3 in the past, even though I'm still not a fan, and this is very unlikely to change. But hey, at least we're at the point down the list where I'm starting to get why people enjoy a game, unlike the two above.

While I will never like this game, I think I've finally made peace with it. Especially since Doom 4 will be nothing like it, so I can no longer blame it on ruining the franchise.

 

Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty

Keep it together and bring it back to me!

Okay then, Ratchet & Clank. Awesome series. Easily one of the top Playstation franchises. That said, even this one has its ups and downs. You got the main series, which is where the best stuff is: 1, 2, 3, Tools, Crack and Nexus. Then you've got the handhelds, which I don't know anything about, and then you have the weird, experimental ones: Gladiator/Deadlocked, Booty, All 4 One and FFA. Each of these takes the R&C gameplay in a different direction, and the results are mixed. Gladiator is all arena combat (and the best one of them, imo), Quest for Booty (this one, you senile fucks) is like a classic adventure game, All 4 One is chaotic co-op with 4 players and Full Frontal Assualt is tower defense.

Most of these are looked somewhat down upon in comparison to the main games, but strangely enough, Quest for Booty is the exception, and I often see it being recommended along with the regular games, despite being way different. I certainly don't think this is deserved. In my opinion, slowing the pace down by making you stop do solve puzzles all the times really ruins the flow. Be R&C or be Monkey Island, I say. Don't mix them, it doesn't work.

I wasn't even that interested in this, but decided to check it out after getting it for free with the superb Nexus, and while it isn't the worst game I've played, everything about it felt off. It tried to do something different and unique, but I don't think it worked out. Definitely get Gladiator over this if you ever wish to check out a less popular R&C game. Otherwise, sticking to the main installments is the safest bet.

 

Hitman: Blood Money

A shame, definitely, because I respect this one a lot. You can do some really cool stuff in this game once you've got it all figured out, but the process of doing so, to me, was weird and confusing. I don't fully understand the controls, I can't get behind how the AI works and I don't know how to pull off most of the stealthy stuf before having failed it several times. It's a sweet game and everything, but I wish it felt a bit tighter.

I got close with this one. For a little while, I was actually sort of getting into it. It was during the opera level that I somewhat started to get a feel for it, and I thought this would be the case going forward. Sadly, it didn't last during later levels. As I said, it's not bad or anything, it just takes me a long time to get the hang of each level, and while I like how huge and crowded the environments are, finding out what to do and where you can go can feel like a bit of a chore. Had the controls and AI been easier to understand, that probably wouldn't be a problem, but when I have trouble with simple stuff like using my garrot on people and flipping coins.

Who knows? I might give it a shot again at some point in the future. There's plenty to like here, and spending about more time "giddin' gud" might pay off in the end. At least that's one thing this blog has over the last one. You won't see me going "maybe one day I will learn to hate this game, just like everyone else".

On the other hand, I've heard IO is working on a new Hitman that should be similar to this one, but which will probably control more like 2012's Absolution. That sounds like a great combo, and I'm definitely excited for it, so even if Blood Money turns out to be a lost cause, I don't have to be done with this series.

 

Ni No Kuni

Now for the one that makes me the most sad, because my dislike of it represents something much bigger: The fact that JRPGs will never, ever be for me. You might argue that it shouldn't be here, then, but I was using this as a sort of final test for me. Being this pretty, this immersive and this charming, and moving slightly away from classic turn based combat, I thought this had a chance of being some kind of gateway drug for me. It was also worked on by the studio that did Spirited Away, and I like that movie, so maybe that would help me through?

All it took was a demo, and I realized it wasn't gonna happen. It was almost like I was allergic to it, my brain just rejected everything about the gameplay. It's only the gameplay, too. I was trying to get caught up in the beautiful art and atmosphere, but it didn't work out, and when the demo's timer ran out, I was not getting back in the ring to take another swing. This game wasn't gonna shake me all night long, that was for sure.

Character building is probably more compelling for those who play games as a form of escapism, but I don't really dig it that much, and when it's mostly done through menus, that's where I have to get off. That is not my idea of fun, at all. Even Ni No Kuni's attempt at making it exciting and fast paced only makes it more confusing, as you switch between running in circles and stopping to choose your move from a list. It has no flow to it at all, and would've been better off going with either fully turn-based fights or being all action, because the two don't get along.

Also what the fuck, why isn't the title translated? What's it supposed to mean? Is it a caveman named Ni declaring that he has no association with the Kuni tribe? Does it have anything to do with the kid's mom being dead? Google Translate will probably give me some funny answers to that.

JRPGs not appealing to me in the slightest is a shame due to how overwhelmingly popular they are on the internet, especially on this site.

 


See? That's what it feels like to me when you say bad things about Tekken 4 and Blacklist. :(

Still, as far as disliking popular games go, that list could definitely be worse. I feel sorry for anyone having trouble enjoying games like Half-Life or Ocarina of Time, as they would see no end to the nerd rage. The trouble I'll get into for thinking Sands of Time is a terrible game doesn't seem that bad by comparison.

Seriously, anyone who actually gets angry at me personally for this is free to talk shit about a thing I like, if that makes you feel better. The rest of you are encouraged to share your own list of popular games that you aren't fans of, since that stuff interests me a lot. It's happened to all of you, no doubt, and this comment section is the perfect place to spit it out. Or make another blog, if you don't think a single comment will do.

Toodles for now, I gotta go see a doctor to do something about all these pitchforks stuck in my ass.

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5:27 AM on 05.24.2015

We need chat back and HERE'S WHY!!!

As you might have noticed, Destructoid has gone through some sort of second puberty lately. It was a weird and gross and uncomfortable time for everyone, but I'd say the whole thing was worth it in the end. That is except one thing: Where's the goddamn chat!?

Has it been removed? Sure seems like it, I've been looking all over for it like a concerned parent. Is it being changed? Replaced? Or was it not active enough?

In any case, I we need the good old chat to make a return, and I'm about to give you some reasons why:

Thought dump

Whenever I have a really insightful thought or excellent porn parody title, I want to immortalize that shit in text form, and in a place where it reaches a lot of people. For me, that excludes Twitter, where only about 7 people follow me, but a public chat on a relatively popular gaming site? Gimme some of that! As it is, gems like "I, Skankenstein" do not have a proper home. Surely we can all agree that this is a huge shame, right? Fuck it, I'm assuming you agree. Having a chat provides quick and easy commincation for those of us who like a cheap laugh, which is probably all of us.

E3

Perhaps even more important than the one above (if you can even imagine that). While I usually watch E3 alone, I've never actually watched it alone-alone, as I always participate in a group chat in order to share my reactions with others, as well as seeing theirs. Not getting to chat during this event is gonna get very, very boring by comparison, especially considering how late it gets where I live, so keeping myself awake will become even harder than usual. There won't be that much to do during breaks either, as all stores will be closed and most people will be sleeping. Taking away the chat will make those late hours far more difficult for me to get through. I know there are other chatrooms out there (I'M NOT STUPID), but Dtoid's has always been very active and fun during the event, so why take that away?

Other stuff

I killed a spider yesterday by throwing a shoe at it. The little bastard tried to run and hide, but no arachnoid has ever outsmarted me! Wouldn't that be an interesting story to share to strangers over the chat? No? Well, okay then, FINE! What about a more interesting story? Or what about a short introduction from an ex-lurker who isn't quite ready to blog yet? There are plenty of uses for a chatroom, and I think the community would benefit from having a simple way of communication aside from having to write big ass blogs, and which doesn't involved a forum that gives you porn ads (seriously, what even is the deal?).

Anyway, here are a few inspirational quotes that may inspire you guys to bring back the chat:

"A chat on the website is better than ten on another website."

- Winston Churchill

 

"Goddamn that's a pretty fucking good chat!"

- John Travolta

 

"I have a dream! A dream about chatting on the internet!"

- Martin Luther King

 

"Stop emailing me for a quote"

- Vladimir Putin

 

I think it speaks for itself.

(If the chat isn't actually gone, I'm gonna look like a huge moron)

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7:59 AM on 05.22.2015

Thick as Thieves: Sailing under a Black Flag

BOOOOOTAAAAAYYYYY!!!

 

Has there ever been any sort of thief cooler than a pirate? I don't think so! If you gotta steal, sailing around, blasting down enemy ships and straight up taking all their shit by force is the proper way to do it! Not only are pirates very honest with their intentions, they like to make a show out of it too. No manipulation, no trying to be sneaky. You will know why they're there, and you will fear them. 

This is my first Band of Bloggers entry, and while I could have spent it taking on personal favourites like Wario Land II (which is also theft/pirate themed), I find it a bit more interesting to write about Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, AKA the best Assassin's Creed ever made. I say this as someone who's only really played this one of them, but shut up, I know it's true! There's no beating pirates, they're the best! French Revolution? Italian Renaissance? American Civil War? Not bad in their own right, but comparing them the golden age of piracy is harrrrdly even fair.

But how does Black Flag hold up as a pirate game? Does it shiver me timbers like there's no tomorrow, or is it merely poser trash for landlubbers?

Well, I kinda spoiled that by calling it the best in the series, didn't I? It being a massive disappointment is clearly out of the question here. That said, talking about the game's overall quality is actually pretty difficult, since it feels like three games slammed together due to its large amount of different gameplay content. Unfortunately, only one of these games would be any good, yet fortunately, the good one is so good that it easily outshines the others. In other words, there is so much shit crammed into the game that there's no way the devs could've possibly done all of it very well, and some of the gameplay definitely suffers from it. Stuff like checkers, tailing missions and (sadly) underwater sections are kind of a waste, and the whole modern day framework is especially pointless, taking up a lot of resources that didn't need to be there at all.

But fear not, dear reader, as there is a point to me getting rid of all the negatives early on, and that has to do with me sticking to the theme of theft. What I mean by that is that the actual stealing process in Black Flag is so damn good that it makes everything worth it. The sailing and ship combat represents the "good game" that I mentioned earlier, and thankfully, that's where the focus is. Because of this, I'm making this blog entirely about the positives of the game.

You take control of the Jackdaw, the ship of legendary pirate Edward Kenway, a dude who stole an Assassin uniform despite having no actual interest in the organization's cause. Best protagonist? Best protagonist. A lot of the goodness comes from the way the ship handles. It is exactly as heavy and slow as a large ship should be, without ever becoming too difficult to control. You have four different speeds to work with, and making good use of these is recommended. Turning is easier at slower speeds, for one, which is especially important to remember during situations where your ship is in danger of crashing.

The combat itself is actually kinda similar to those parts in the one good level of Sly 3, except that you don't go into a specific combat "mode", meaning you can take on as many ships at a time as you wish. Well, that and the obvious stuff, like it being way more fleshed out, the tone being more fittingly bloody and "pirate-y" and all that. Blowing your load is done by pressing a single button, while the direction in which you shoot is entirely controlled by camera. It's very simple, but you also get to manually aim your shots in case you're unsure. The Jackdaw has no cannons on its backside, but you get to throw down explosive barrels which can be used to escape pursuing ships. Bracing for impact allows you to take less damage from enemy fire, and upgrading your ship with mortars allows for long distance attacks.

Once you really get your head around all this, plundering enemy ships is like a (wet) dream come true. I'm crazy impressed with how ambitious this game is when it comes to the actual pirate gameplay, and how well it's all executed.

So what happens then is that you start a fight with a ship full of valuable stuff, and depending on how strong your ship is, the battle might be tough and intense, or you might blast their asses into the next century without breaking a salty sweat. In any case, it's not over yet, because you still have to jump aboard and complete a certain amount of objectives which include killing crew, blowing up gunpowder barrels and cutting off the ship's flag. That last one is my favourite, simply because it's like the game's way of saying "don't you dare half-ass this!", which is fitting, as it only happens when you take on bigger ships. Once this is done, you get the chance to do neat stuff such as repairing the Jackdaw or lowering your wanted level, meaning you're less likely to be bothered by pirate hunters (although you can just plunder their ships too, teehee).

Here begins the circle of life, in which you sell your goods in order to afford new ship upgrades, which then makes you able to plunder bigger ships. You can buy other stuff, of course, but upgrading should be your main priority if you want to explore and conquer. That then leads us to what I consider the real objective of the game: Taking over the goddamn map! Oh, there's a linear story and everything, but that's not where it's at. That road is paved with restrictions and clumsily forced stealth. What you want to do is sail around and explore on your own pace, and basically do whatever you want, like a pirate would. Thankfully, the world given to you is huge, and there's plenty of ships to plunder, treasure to hunt and fortresses to battle.

I love the fortress battles. They are very similar to ship battles, except that the fortresses aren't mobile but way more powerful than any ship you'll come across. Aside from having every type of weapon available, they can also take a lot of damage before they go down, and you have to attack them in specific places. As tough as that is, winning these battles are worth it due to the face that it removes forbidden zones and reveals the secrets of the ocean to you. In my opinion, this could have been the whole game. It should have started with a short tutorial, then let you loose to take down every fortress in the map. An entire game built around this objective would have been fantastic, even though what we got is still very satisfying.

As mentioned, treasure hunting is also a thing. I like that little treasure chests are spread around tiny islands across the world, but the fact that the big ones require you to track down actual treasure maps with specific coordinates is just special. It is a special thing made by special people who should have a special place in everyone's heart. Seriously, it's little things like these that make the game feel like a proper pirate adventure, and it's obvious that a lot of people on the development team were really passionate about achieving this.

Another cool detail is storms, except that isn't a detail at all, but instead a huge fucking deal! A storm during a ship battle changes everything! It changes your speed, your height, your visibility, your attack patterns and even your priorities, as you might have to turn your ship around in order to make sure a huge wave doesn't do too much damage. I honestly think this is where the combat shines the brightest, and the fact that storms are seamless makes it even better. As much as people complain that this series lacks polish (which I do agree with), this makes it clear that a lot of very talented and passionate people are working on it.

Assassin's Creed IV is a good reminder that we probably shouldn't always be too critical of a game as a whole, because there will always be a few diamonds covered in dirt. True, this is usually the case for the first installment in a franchise, but I hope that Black Flag can prove to serve a similar role to a potential pirate spin-off series, made with a smaller team on a smaller budget. Ubisoft has allowed for some humble, creative projects in the past, so maybe this has potential to be the start of something similar? I certainly think that all the pirate gameplay is too good to be a one time deal, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, which is only here to keep you distracted while my crew breaks in and steals all of your rum and sugar.

 

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9:29 AM on 05.06.2015

Ask me everything!

I have absolutely no clue why this is a popular thing to do right now, but here's another Dtoid AMA for those of you who somehow still have any questions left in you.

I will accept any kind of question, but I might bullshit a few replies if I don't know how to come up with a proper answer.

Topics I like: Food, video games, movies, music, cartoons, traveling and curling.

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10:37 AM on 04.11.2015

Well I like it...

Opinions are like assholes - mine is the only right one!

 

Sorry, let me start over...

Sometimes, people disagree with each other. Sometimes, these disagreements can be over something as simple as entertainment. Sometimes, this makes people want to write a friendly blog about it, rather than argue. Sometimes, there's a man.

You probably already know what's coming up, but in case you don't, this is what you're in for: A list of games that the general public seems to dislike to varying degrees, all of which I found myself enjoying (also to varying degrees). It's not a list of "underrated" games, because that really is a bit dishonest. People might have very good reasons for not liking these games, even if I don't necessarily understand them. I do not share these reasons, though, and as I enjoyed all the games mentioned, I will do my very best to defend them.

Note that I'm basing this on general public rather than review scores, as I feel that the former is what matters most in the long run. A lot of reviewers are very forgiving, after all, while fans of a franchise are more likely to be extremely critical. Fittingly enough, every single game mentioned here is part of a series, and I have no doubt that this has a lot to do with their relatively poor public reception.

So let's get started. I like:

 

BioShock Infinite

While easily the mildest case here, BioShock Infinite has definitely taken enough of a verbal ass-beating to deserve just a little bit of defense. It might have been praised to the skies (where it also takes place) by critics all over the world, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a period of time where people would constantly post a particularly harsh criticism video in the comment sections of pretty much every article related to it, just to prevent it from getting too much praise.

Having recently played through the original BioShock, I get it. I get that it's a completely different game, that it took away several mechanics, and that it went in a far more action oriented direction than previously. BioShock was almost more about planning ahead and preparing for the combat than it was about the combat itself, while Infinite is all about fast paced shootouts in huge arenas. Furthermore, I get people's disappointment with the story, as Columbia really doesn't even remotely compare to Rapture, and the characters aren't quite as compelling.

But none of that was enough to drastically worsen my opinion of the game. I just had a really good time with it, and nothing will ever change that. If anything, playing BioShock just made me hate Doom 3 even more, as it did something similar yet far more interesting. Infinite, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. It's a fun, crazy, chaotic shooter with a ton of neat and creative ideas, which is only made better by its beautiful art direction.

For everything it took away from its predecessor, it added something cool and new on its own, and I think the result of that is pretty great.

 

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

I've never played Splinter Cell: Conviction, or Double Agent for that matter. Not a fan of how those games altered Sam Fisher's iconic (and fucking sweet) character design, so after starting with the highly praised Chaos Theory, I decided to move on with Blacklist. The differences were notable, but overall I'd say the transition felt pretty smooth and natural.

So why exactly do people act like the two have little to nothing in common? I get that a lot of this comes from Conviction, but a lot of criticisms against Blacklist seem pretty unfair to me. It's a bit streamlined, but the things I liked about Chaos Theory are still there, with gameplay that feels much smoother than that game ever managed. It even adds the ability to buy new weapons and gadgets that you can use in previous missions, which is a huge improvement if you ask me, because it plays to the biggest strenght of stealth games in general: replayability. New gadgets let you play old missions in new ways, and doing so is always very exciting to me. Aside from all this, it's a very polished game, full of excellent character animations and environment design.

Granted, the game does have plenty of rough spots, and it never quite lives up to its true potential, but the potential to do so is still there. At its worst, it's forcing you through scripted action scenes while telling you a really stupid story with a terrible morale, but at its best, it's an incredibly tense stealth experience with plenty of depth to it. Most of its best just happens to be Grim's missions, in which getting caught is a non-option. How that doesn't satisfy stealth purists is beyond me, especially since higher difficulties allow you to turn off the somewhat controversial Mark and Execute feature.

Blacklist is far from perfect, but I think it's still pretty good once you get past the second level. I've returned to it a number of times, and chances are I'll probably do it again in the near future.

 

Tekken 4

Small roster. Unbalanced characters. An underwhelming amount of stages. Awkward jumping.

Looking back, Tekken 4 almost seems like it was designed to be some sort of weird prototype to the far more popular Tekken 5. In many areas, it seriously underdelivered in comparison to previous installments. Yet back in the day, it was still a huge deal. This was the main reason for me getting a PS2, a system with such a huge library that it forever changed the amount of games I'd be satisfied with owning. I used to be fine with about 6-7 games, but my PS2 collection grew like crazy, and all of it started with Tekken 4 (although The Mark of Kri was still the first PS2 game I played). 

To start, it was the first Tekken with walls. To me, that was the coolest thing about it back then. Stages were no longer flat. Now you could actually use walls (and even roofs) to your advantage, and the different environments were no longer just for show. As you can imagine, this changed everything, and I loved it. Some walls were even breakable. There was no better way to K.O. an opponent than using them no destroy a phonebooth or a pillar.

It's also important to mention that this game had the best version of Tekken Force, by far the best piece of single player content the franchise has ever had. Tekken Force was fun in 3 and all, but 4's version is the best. It feels like a very legit beat-em-up, but with a ton of player characters available, and everyone feels so much different to play as in this mode. Tekken Force as Bryan is a completely different experience than Tekken Force as Christie, and that gave it a lot of replayability. Seriously, why isn't this in more recent Tekken games? Imagine how amazing it would have been in Tekken Tag 2.

Oh, and it introduced some pretty great characters like Steve and Marduk (and Christie, but she was an Eddy clone), and finally gave Jin his own unique moveset. It's got a lot of things going for it once you look past the rough spots.

 

Sonic 3D Blast

It's fiiiine!

Honestly, I don't know what everyone's deal is with this game, but for some reason, everyone seems to agree that this is one of the worst Sonic games of all time, even though this franchise has been consistently shitting itself since the late 90's. Is it as good as the ones that came before? No, I wouldn't say so, but is it as bad as some of the stuff that came after? Fuck no, not even remotely!

As long as you play it on something that has an analogue stick, it is perfectly playable. That alone should elevate it far beyond the Adventure games, and pretty much all the proper 3D games, in which the concept of "control" seems like more of an afterthought. With this in mind, there isn't much else I should need to defend. You run around a level, collect all the birds and find the exit. The levels are fun, open and well designed. The art and theming is all pretty well done. The soundtrack is very good too, and I believe there are even two versions of it, depending on the system you play it on. Overall, while not a masterpiece, I think it's a pretty decent game.

Yet, despite this, I've heard it being compared to games like Sonic '06, which is just ridiculous to me. My theory is that some people played it back in the day using a d-pad, had a hard time controlling it, hated it, and then decided to spread the hate until it almost became legendary. It seems unreal that people experiencing it the way I did would hate it so much. I don't even like isometric games all that much, but I still managed to enjoy this one a lot.

I hope people will give this game another chance one day. It is the most hated one on this list by far, even though it probably deserves it the least.

 

SoulCalibur V

Confession time: I only bought this game because of the character creator. It's the only fighting game I know of that has this feature, and after learning about it, I knew I had to try it out. I don't know anything about SoulCalibur. Never once did I actually bother learning that much about the game, and I still have no idea how to pull off those cheap super-moves, and I don't care. Being able to make characters like Dickface, O'Deer and Ma' Suag has been worth everything. It's all I ever wanted from this game, and it delivered masterfully.

Obviously, a long-time fan will have a different perspective, and the actual fans of the series apparently despise this installment. Even the previous one seems to have been divisive, but I have never seen any fan of the series defend this one. I have no idea what it did wrong, but again, I don't care. This isn't about me straight up disagreeing with anyone as much as simply caring about different things. I never expected a great, hardcore fighting game, I expected a game where I could give a character a penis for a head, and that is exactly what I got. The actual fighting in this game will always be secondary to me.

SoulCalibur V probably won't ever sell me on the series, either, as I've never felt compelled to play as any of the regular characters. None of them appeal to me in the slightest, and I like my own fighters much more, even if many of them say the same things. I also don't like the SoulCalibur version of Yoshimitsu. His design is wank, his voice is dumb and he speaks English! What!? At least I managed to fix 2/3 of those problems with my own Yoshimitsu, one that's based on the kick-ass Tekken 3 version, with a voice that's no longer makes him sound like a 12 year old. I was even allowed to just name him 'Yoshimitsu', and that makes it really hard for me to stay mad at the game.

You're alright, SoulCalibur V, at least to a stranger like me.

 

If any of you folks out there have similar relationships with certain games, feel free to put them in the comments, or write another blog, or do neither. You can do what you want. FREEDOM!

 

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5:21 PM on 04.01.2015

Reservoir Cocks - A Dtoid Payday Playdate!

 

Two in the Mr. Pink, one in the Mr. Stink

Greetings, people-like creatures! April's Fools day may still be in full swing in certain parts of the world, but there's nothing foolish about what I'm about to announce. 

See, Destructoid's resident superhero/rockstar/megapimp Luckrequired and I are planning on getting some well earned vengeance after a failed round of Payday: The Heist on Steam. Luck humbly placed the blame on himself, but my own noobishness probably played a big part. We then swore that we would return, stronger than ever, to recover what rightfully belongs to our enemies, but which we are gonna take anyway because fuck them!

That said, and we'd like to join forces with any one of you lovely snugglebuddies out there to help us achieve this glorious victory. It doesn't matter whether or not you've ever played this game before in your life. We wanna play with anyone, as we believe that, through the power of friendship, any financially motivated murder-shootout will lead to happiness. <3

For those unfamiliar with the game, Payday: The Heist is a co-op first person shooter in which you pull off sick heists. Said heists get even sicker as you unlock more and more cool shit with which to pull off said heists, which as mentioned, are already pretty sick. That means you got some super sick heists to look forward to. Wicked!

It's all about teamwork. Communication is crucial, and you have to try your best to work as a part of a team if you want any chance to score some fat cash. Also, learn how to do melee attacks, as this will probably save your ass a bunch of times.

Playday is Friday, April 3rd 2015. Come drunk, sober or anything inbetween!

Make sure you have the time for it, because the heists do tend to take a while. Would suck if you had to bail during one. That's the kind of thing that would be absurd in real life. "Oh, oops, I forgot to pick up the kids. Uh, anyone wanna hold on to my stuff while I'm gone? Won't take too long, I promise."

We haven't agreed on the exact time yet, but we'll discuss it with those of you willing to join. Time zones can be tricky, so it's a good idea to make sure nobody has to stay up all night. Unless you were planning to do that anyway, which at least makes things easier.

Just tell us if you want to join, and you're in!

See you then! :)

EDIT: List of robbers so far

Zer0t0nin

OpiumHerz (maybe)

Tonich (maybe)

Riobux

Luckrequired

El Dango

 

I'll remove the 'maybe' once you know you're definitely joining in, or remove you from the list if you choose to cancel. :)

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8:49 AM on 03.19.2015

Where is BFAZ?

Last year, around the time that I started my current life as a young, unemployed hobo, I decided to use more of my spare time writing blogs on Destructoid. It seemed like an ideal way to spend some of the massive amounts of free time I was starting to gain, between applying for any open position I could find. I wanted to write about something fun, something gaming related that I really enjoyed, and in the end, I decided to write about awesome boss fights, through a blog titled Boss Fight Appreciation Zone (BFAZ). The first of the series was, I believe, the first of my blogs that was actually getting somewhat popular, and it inspired me to keep going, while making me want to make each iteration look better than the last. Five blogs were written in the series, with one being a "bonus round". It gained some steam, then lost some again, but people seemed to really enjoy the series overall. It's what finally made me feel like I was "inside" the community, like I was a real contributor, who could make a genuine impression on people on the other side of the planet.

Saying that, it might seem weird to some folks that I haven't any of these in 2015. There are a couple of reasons for that, and I'd like to ask and answer a couple of questions related to all of this.

Is BFAZ dead!?

Not entirely, no. In fact, I'm currently working on one, and has been so for a while. It's another bonus round, one mainly featuring a certain egg-shaped super villain who I'm sure you're all familiar with. However, after this one, I may call it quits. See, these blogs take a long time to make. Not only do I have to make gifs for each boss, but tons of other little images as well, not to mention that it all has to fit together and, to be honest, for one blog, the effort isn't entirely worth it. Blogs die, and are only rarely brought up again, so spending all that time making them pretty and detailed seems a bit silly. I still want to make good looking blogs, but the way BFAZ has evolved is very demanding and overly ambitious, and changing it back to basics would just feel cheap, to me at least. 

Aside from that, it was a very community driven series, and the last blog didn't gather that much feedback, so continuing with a Round 5 would be difficult. There's always a risk to be run with stuff like that, and I got way too confident with it. People probably got a bit exhausted by it, and understandably lost interest.

Will there be another series to replace it?

Maybe, I'd say a 40% chance. Doing a series is a lot of work compared to unrelated blogs, and the only idea I currently have for one is something I'd call 'The Naughty Bits', which would be a complete rip-off of Ben Davis' Experience Points series, and probably way worse too. So yeah, while it's certainly possible, it's not on my priority list.

Will the 'Into the Desert' blog be finished?

Fuck no, it's dead!

Sorry to the handful of people who voted for it, I appreciate your enthusiasm a bunch, but that blog was turning into a boring load of shit very quickly. It's not that I can't write an entire blog about deserts in video games, it's that I can't possibly write a good one. You know, one that won't put people to sleep. 

Seriously, here's the gist of it: Deserts in real life are kinda boring, so some video games make them look interesting and give you means of transportation in order to make them more fun to traverse, while still trying to make them feel vast and open ended. That's pretty much it. Can you imagine that being stretched into an entire blog? God damn, that would be painful to read through.

Here's a blogging tip: Don't tell people about your blog ideas! I have a ton of unfinished blogs lying around, all of them coming from me changing my mind and/or losing interest. Losing interest especially is a red flag, and ignoring this flag will make for an extemely dull blog. You can't make people care if you don't care yourself.

What's the point of this blog, then?

A little bit of closure, mostly, just in case some of you out there have been wondering. That, and I wanted an excuse to show you the stupid photoshop I've made. It would never be relevant anywhere, so here you go.

That's all folks! Treat yourselves well, and be sure to have a nice day. :)

Bye!

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9:24 AM on 03.11.2015

Dango's Favourite Food (NVGR)

 

Hello Destructoid, and welcome to a very special blog!

Writing about interactive entertainment is a lot of fun, and it's something that I intend to do more in the future. However, sometimes you need to take liberties with what you're given if you really want to express yourself in a way that truly matters, and nothings in this world matters more than food. Because, you know, we need that in order to live. Yet, while the consumption of food used to be nothing but an act of survival, we, as a species, have come as far as to turn it into an event, an activity, and even an art form!

I've always had a lot of appreciation for good food, but recently, I feel like it's been stronger than ever. Ironically, I've often been called a picky eater, and yeah, I suppose it's true, but when I do like a dish, I really like it. It actually fits in rather well with my taste in other things, such as video games, or any other media.

What I'm writing here is essentially a top seven of my favourite dishes ever, although it's only really the last one that fits into any sort of 'order' (and you might already know what that one is). The number doesn't mean anything, it just happens to be the number of favourite dishes I could come up with. No reason to make a blog like this all that long.

 

Speaking of long...

This is probably one of the first things I learned how to make, and the first thing that made me wanna learn how to cook. It took a while for me to actually get there, but this was a brilliant beginning. I've always been down for some spaghetti, and I always manage to empty my plate, no matter how big it is. Like, seriously, I've managed to eat some pretty grotesquely huge portions of spaghetti in the past, which you'd think would be impossible considering what a small dude I am. Where does it all go?

Of course, the main attraction here is the sauce. I like mine a little spicy, and I usually add a bit of extra oregano to it. Sometimes I even add some fresh tomatoes myself. It's also really important to me that the meat:sauce ratio is maintained, so that it won't get too messy and/or flavourless. Balance is important!

Parmesan cheese is also a must for me, though I've come to understand that this is something many people would rather avoid, which I've never understood. Granted, I usually add plenty of it (don't judge me, it goes bad quickly), which would understandably turn some folks off, but even a little bit makes such a huge, positive difference. But, okay, I have my own toppings and spices that I dislike, which would probably make others think I'm weird too, so it's okay. We all have our little things that make us want to chicken out.

 

Speaking of chicken...

Fucknuggets!

Sorry, I mean fuck nuggets! Don't get me wrong, I like chicken nuggets, but if they think they will ever rule the Fried Chicken Kingdom, they better prepared to get deported ASAP! Tenders tend the throne here, bitch!

Holy cock, what a surreal scenario! All that was just a way for me to say that chicken tenders are awesome and delicious, and my second (SPOILERS) favourite way of being served chicken in any fashion. This is despite the fact that I like chicken in pretty much every way.

Fried chicken tenders are basically the perfect mix of good meat and oily crunchyness, two things that are far too rarely seen together. In my experience, most fried food is junk, but I've never had tenders that disappointed. Then again, I've never had them that often, so there are probably plenty of places that mess them up, despite how easy it is to fry chicken. Seriously, I've tried it myself a couple of times, and it really doesn't take much to at least make it decent.

Then again, there's always been something fishy about the way some of the, uh... "less admirable" eating establishments serve their fried chicken. Pretty sure some of it is even worse for you than you might think.

 

Speaking of fishy...

My grandfather was a fisherman, and what an impact he left on me. He's been dead for almost 13 years now, but I'll never forget the stories he would tell and the pictures he would show me of all the fish he and his crew would manage to catch. He was a great guy, and probably part of the reason why I love fish fillets as much as I do.

Cook it on a pan and serve it to me with a slice of lemon, as well as some fries or bread to the side, and I'll be a happy man. Unlike everything else on here, however, I personally prefer having this for lunch rather than dinner. It's just 'light' enough, you know? It never makes me too full, but it gets the job done, and that's what I consider the best kind of lunch.

I also like different sorts of fish, but cod has always been my go-to fish. That's normal, right? Everyone has a go-to fish, right? Make sure to write about your go-to fish in the comments below, I wanna know what it is. You all have one, don't try to hide it, I'm not crazy! You're crazy! Tell me everything about your go-to fish! Don't wrap the truth in the blanket of comfort, it's time for it to come to the surface! Like a fucking fish!

 

Speaking of wraps...

This is where things start to get spicy. There isn't a lot food in this world more satisfying to eat than a succesfully wrapped tortilla full of hot, cheesy, meaty, tounge-roasting goodness. It's one of life's most simple pleasures.

FUN FACT: I couldn't find any images of a tortilla wrap that looked even remotely like the ones I make. Way too many veggies, not enough cheese, meat and hot chili peppers, AKA the three main ingredients in a Dango Wrap™. I just came up with that name on the fly, what do you think?

"Do you wish vengeance upon your own tongue, and do you happen to utterly despise your asshole!? Well, we got just the treat for you! Introducing the Dango Wrap™, a cheesy, spicy mess that will burn you from both sides! Go grab one today!"

Sometimes I do add a bit of cucumber though, so my recipe is a bit mixed. Variety is the spice of life, even when actual spice is hugely involved.

 

Speaking of mixed...

Here's a little something that will wok your socks off!

This is almost as much an experience as it is a tasty meal. I've only had this at one place (just down the street from where I live, which opened a couple of years ago), but I've eaten it a bunch of times, and it's always a total joy!

See, the way it works is that you get to pick from a large variety of meats, vegetables, noodles and other stuff, then take your plate to le chef, who then gets to work his magic in front of you (while you get to pick the sauce that you want). Remember to seperate the meat from everything else, though, as it needs to be cooked first, before the other stuff is added. Don't make le chef sad. Be responsible.

Oh, but even after the show is over, you get a seriously tasty meal. An unstoppable hurricane of flavour is the only proper way I can describe it, especially if you really vary your ingredients. They got squid rings at my place, and they come fully recommended. Squid is so weirdly delicious. It's chewy, but entirely worth it, and adding a few squid rings really make a difference with this dish, being a perfect complement to the more ordinary beef/pork/chicken combo.

A plate of mixed goodness like this is always guaranteed to leave me satisfied with everything in life.

 

Speaking of goodness...

Boyoboyoboy! It was only a matter of time before this timeless classic made its debut.

How do I even begin? You've had this, you know what the big deal is. We all do! It's a steak, it's not rocket science! It's not some kind of uniquely aquired taste. It's the world's most accessible piece of meat.

Of course, there is only one proper way to cook it, which is on a grill! Sure, other ways may lead to acceptable results, but only in case of weather related emergency situations (if the sun isn't shining). If you can grill it, that's how you gotta do it! Always look out for them while doing so, too. You don't leave a steak on the grill, you watch over it like a concerned mother, making sure your little kid doesn't get sunburnt. Overcooking a steak is nothing less than a tragedy, and no one should ever do that! I know that some people say they prefer their steaks well done, but some people also claim that the pyramids were built by aliens, so I think the conclusion we can make here is that some people can be a bit silly at times, and that we probably shouldn't listen to them.

There are several different types of cuts when it comes to steaks, and I would probably get a lot more street cred with the cooks if I picked and stuck with one, but I honestly like the variety. T-bones, for example, are pretty fantastic, but they are also a lot more trouble to prepare and cook, and I'm glad it's not all we got.

 

Speaking of grilling and Summer and all that is good in this world...

Yes, it's time for the thing that you could already see in that little 'things I like' collage I've made.

Whoever came up with this is the biggest genius the world has ever seen! Holy fuckleberry, I love me some ribs! Mmmmh mmmh mhh! Everything from the consistency, to the flavour, to the slightly rough nature of the actual eating process, is absolutely perfect to me. Gotta get your fingers dirty, people! That's how nature made you! 

I could always eat ribs. It doesn't matter how sick or tired I am, there's nothing in this world that can stop me from accepting such a heavenly meal. I must have this every Summer, otherwise I would stop functioning. As with the previous entry, this belongs entirely on a grill. There just has to be a certain amount of smoke in there in order for it to be just perfect! Furthermore, the sauce should be applied in a way that makes it be absorbed by the meat. Don't drown it in sauce, that's just overkill. Some restaurants do that, and it sucks! Make it a thin but substantial layer that adds flavour to the meat, without ever overdoing it. I've even made my own sauce a couple of times, often to surprisingly good results. The beautiful thing about barbecue sauce is that there are so many ways to make it, and you can find tons of recipes online. One day, I'm planning on coming up with my own unique one. I'll probably make it slightly spicy.

But please, don't give me any of that "McRib" crap. Everyone who's ever called that thing a living legend should be ashamed of themselves. McDonald's is not quality, it's junk, and you should get your rib fix somewhere else. Ribs being treated as some sort of junk food is a gigantic insult to everything I stand for, and it's a trend that I very much wish to see the end of.

 

Speaking of end...

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4:55 PM on 02.28.2015

My experience with Legacy of Kain: Defiance

Merry Christmas everyone, or at least you'd think it was, seeing as this is a super late Secret Santa related blog that I probably could've easily written ages ago. It's a task that's been hanging over my head for a while now, and though I admittedly haven't finished the game in question, I do think it's about time that I at least shared my impressions so far.

Cannibal Steven is a clever dude. Instead of assuming that we'd actually have it be a Secret Santa arrangement and buying something early on (which was my approach), he waited until his victim giftee was revealed before he made his choice, allowing him to pick something much more personal. Noting my open enjoyment of the Tomb Raider games, he decided to introduce me to a series of rather similar games in form of the Legacy of Kain Collection.

Getting a sizable collection of games rather than one is obviously pretty exciting, and I am very grateful. That said, figuring out where to start turned out to be really difficult. I knew that blasting through all of them was gonna be too much for me, so I decided to pick one. My first choice was Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, but that one crashed pretty early on, so I decided to go with something else. My second choice, the one that I finally stuck with, was Legacy of Kain: Defiance.

What made my choice of starting point so hard is the fact that this franchise is not exactly straight forward when it comes to the way each title is named. I'd actually argue that it gives Rambo a run for its money in this regard. As you can see, the actual position of the Legacy of Kain title varies from game to game, and the fact that there seems to be two mini-series doesn't help at all. I still have no idea what the core difference between Blood Omen and Soul Reaver is, but I did eventually learn that Defiance is apparently the latests game in the franchise (aside from some MMO thing), so there's plenty for me to be confused about.

There's this channel on YouTube that tries to explain video game lore in a minute. I checked out their Legacy of Kain video, hoping to get a better understanding of what was going on in the story, but it only vaguely helped. In the comments, people were talking about all the lore that had been left out of the video, which didn't even have time to touch on one of the main playable characters. Regardless, what I did figure out through the game is that the legendary Tony Jay once voiced a giant tentacle monster, which is actually pretty fucking awesome! The Elder God, I believe it was called, and damn if that isn't a title fitting of Mr. Jay himself. 10/10 for the casting, Kane.

When it comes to the gameplay, I've found it pretty enjoyable so far. First thing I did in the game was trying to get used to the controls, and I had to change the controls around a whole lot before that would ever have a chance of happening. There are a lot of functions in this game, and it's not always clear what all of them do, so it's definitely been taking some experimentation.

Defiance has you switching between two characters, Kain and Raziel, who both have their own sets of abilities. Kain is a vampire, but I'm not sure what Raziel is. 'Zombie' seems to be the most fitting term. You use these two to kick some ass, explore some environment and solve a couple puzzles along the way. It's definitely Tomb Raider-esque, if notably more combat heavy, and with a lot less climbing involved.

One really cool feature, to me, would be the automatic camera angles. They may not always be that helpful during combat, but I still like them. Full camera control has understandably become a standard over the years, but I wish it was more divisive. I also enjoy stuff like ICO and the early Metal Gear Solids for their perspective, because it makes the games feel more simple and streamlined, which can definitely be a positive. That, and it can be a helpful tool for showing off the environment in the best way possible. Games trying to be 'cinematic' doesn't usually appeal that much to me, but if they do it like that, I certainly can't complain.

The combat in this game is unusual, but I mean that in a good way. You have your regular sword attacks, but then you also have telekinesis, which sends enemies flying. I don't think you ever have to do that, but not doing it would be madness, because it makes everything way more fun. Flinging an enemy into a wall never stops being satisfying, and the fact that you can even do it from a distance is pretty fantastic. Add the finishing moves, where Kain/Raziel sucks out an enemy's blood/soul, and you get a combat system that does a decent job carrying a large portion of the game. It's not like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, where combat is clumsily inserted everywhere, despite not having that much to offer. Here, it serves as a nice break from the exploration and platforming, rather than getting in the way of it.

Of course, I also have to mention the environments, which was one of the biggest pleasant surprises to me. They look really, really good. Obviously, there some areas that look very pixelated, but it's more about the art direction than it is the graphical power itself. You get a lot of tunnels and tight spaces that you have to run through, but once it opens up, it shows off some huge, detailed, beautiful areas, suddenly giving you a much better idea of where you are and where you're going. I like that because it makes every area feel very grounded. You know you're in a big place, but you don't really feel it unless you spend a lot of time there, getting to explore every little dirty hole you come across.

Overall, I guess my biggest problem is that a lot of things, even simple functions, are just a bit too tricky to get the hang of. At one point I spent a lot of time with Kain in a tiny room, having nowhere else to go, as I had to light some torches in a particular order using a new power that was pretty difficult to aim. I also still find myself having trouble remembering all about Raziel's realm shifting, and I frequently forget which sword of his that I have to use. As much as I appreciate that the game wants to challenge me, I do wish it would let me get the hang of its mechanics a little easier.

During this piece, I've made a couple of comparisons to other games, but one that sticks with me as being more fitting than any other is Darksiders. Pretty much everything from the character designs, to the mythology, to the silly little glide that you can do, it all pretty much fits. More specifically, I'd say that it is to Tomb Raider what Darksiders is to Zelda. I think that sums it up pretty decently.

Before I end this, I'd like to pont out how weird Raziel looks. He might be a hideous zombie-like creature, but I gotta say, he's got some really good hair! I can't help but imagine him in his apartment, spending hours in front of the mirror each morning before going "Bleh, doesn't get better than this, time to slay some demons and vampire hunters and whatever else I come across".

Do I recommend this game, then? Well, yeah, for the same reason I'd recommend Darksiders. It's just a fun third person action game that may not be that original, but which certainly manages to scratch that particular itch. I'm definitely going to play it to completion, and chances are I'll probably check the other games out as well.

BALANCE EMBLEM!

 

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