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Everyday Legend's blog

9:50 AM on 10.20.2014

Dry your eyes, it's just goodbyes.

I'm trying hard not to make this overly dramatic.  I'm not even going to spell out my exact reasons why.  I'm just giving everyone who cares to read this what they deserve for taking the time to listen over the last seven years.  And to those who have read my posted thoughts, and those who are reading them now: I cannot thank you enough.  You've all been wonderful.

I'm leaving Destructoid.  For good.

I won't get into the reasons why - not here, at least - but there have been events that have taken place which have caused me to lose significant amounts of real, irreplaceable faith in Destructoid.  I have been feeling this coming for quite some time, and even though I've spent large amounts of time and energy becoming the change I wished to see, the only changes that have been positive have been a long-overdue Cblog editor overhaul.  Every other change has served to make me feel more marginalized and less integral to the lifeblood of the site, a place I've made my primary internet home for seven years.  A place that used to be defined by its community, moreso than any other.  But things aren't that way anymore, and it's time for me to find somewhere else to be.

My follower list is packed with the names of people who no longer come here, and it's now my turn to join them.  I suspect they left for very similar reasons, but I just held on longer for some odd reason.  I left the Cblogs, then the FP, and now, I'm even abandoning the Forums.  As I said before, I won't get into the specific reasons why, but one look at my recently-revived Twitter account and the things I've been writing for Digital Confederacy do a very good job in pointing out where my reasoning lies.  I urge you to catch up with me on either of those avenues, because while I don't personally know everyone who ever joined a comment conversation (and even though I know that I can come off as being a little spiky at times), I can't bear to leave without letting everyone know where they can find me - that's how much I love the Destructoid community.

This place has given me lifelong friends, an abundance of stories and a lot of cool things to talk about.  But all good things must come to an end, and I feel that I've stuck around long after the actual book has closed.  For all those who want to take a look at my body of work, feel free to browse my Cblog entries here, my work on the Community Interviews, and even my naked baby photos as OhJAM.

And staff: don't think this is a cry for "delete my shit" attention.  I want my legacy to stay here, because I was proud of the things I wrote here and my time spent here.
Radio Dtoid (Communitoid) Appearance:
Also, Dtoid Forums:

You can also find me here:
Steam: Everyday Legend
PSN: Everyday_Legend
Twitter: @Everyday_Legend

And finally, you can find me at Digital Confederacy, where I still write and get into rather pointless arguments.  I don't want to plug another site as it's rather awkward, but that is where I'll be, so there it is.


I'd like to take the time to say "Thank You" to a few special people:
Char Aznable
Zombie Platypus
Hyper Lemon Buster Cannon
Occams Electric Toothbrush
Luna Sy
Cornflake Justice
Corduroy Turtle
Red Motherfucking Morgan
The Defenestrator
Darren Nakamura - First rule of any wolf game, kill Dexter345
pk fire
Gorilla Gravy
Mr Funsockz
Polite Gentleman
ChillyBilly, hope IL ain't freezing yer balls off
Isay Isay

And most of all: Mr. Andy Dixon - you're the best, no hyperbole.  You always made someone feel welcome when the atmosphere was grim, and you have always been the kindest soul on the site, bar none.  Now put your pants back on.

Alright, I'll just stop.  There's been a lot of you fuckers I came to know and love.  Don't you forget about me, because I ain't forgetting about you.  Don't.  Don't.  Don't.  Don't.

See you, Space Cowboys. <3


11:10 PM on 06.09.2014

Sony & TLG: The Last Broken Heart

I don't even know if this is going to be worth reading.  I'm not going to mince words, I'm emotionally affected by the subject matter of this post.  I'm hurt.  And I'm going to use lots of colorful language, loads of hyperbole, and I'm going to try to be constructive about my level of upset.  Please pardon my venting, I'll try my best to make sure it's at least an interesting read.

Over the weekend, IGN (in)famously broke the news that The Last Guardian had been canceled.  The game was done for, and the thing that captured so many imaginations (mine, too) was no more.  Then, Scott Rohde, Software Product Development Head for Sony Worldwide Studios America, Tweeted how this simply wasn't the case.  The stage was set for E3 to be the long-awaited next showing of a game that needed its day to come.

And for as great as the show was, and for all of the great things they showed...The Last Guardian was not part of it.

Imagine the feeling of a kid left out in the rain, their parents forgetting them after soccer practice in a torrent that magnified the sadness with every drop, multiplied by every second passed.  Or someone special to you completely forgetting your birthday.  Picture the abject disappointment that person must feel, the loneliness, the isolation, the feeling that your wants, needs and desires just aren't fucking important enough for anyone else to give a damn.

Like I said, it's gonna get hyperbolic.  But I feel like that right about now, or at least as close to those things as not seeing a videogame you've waited eight long years for can approximate. You could say the same thing for Half-Life 3, and you'd be right - except for the fact that HL3 has never been officially announced or had footage shown for the game in question.  TLG had both.  It's much more cruel that way, to be honest.

See, I think they missed out on a golden opportunity, here.  This was their chance.  This was the time to have shown off something that Microsoft and Nintendo just weren't capable of doing.  This is the time to stop showing the remastered games and the sequels, and show off something that's been cooking for almost a decade.  I mean, God Of War fans have seen seven (yes, fucking seven) titles in that series.  Killzone, four (on consoles).  Shit, even Uncharted just got a fourth game announced (at the point of the show where TLG should have been, no less).

The Last Guardian?  We get reassured that the game still exists.  Again.  No video.  No teaser.  Nothing at all.  No sign of life.  Just a "sorry I couldn't make it, but I'll be there next year, for sure" from someone who's been absent every year running for almost a whole goddamn decade.  And who wants to wait on someone like that, really? 

Sony fucked up.  Plain and simple.  You can't even use the "we're waiting for TGS" excuse, because the Japanese are more concerned with mobile games than anything else.  Consoles and their AAA titles are still alive and well in the West, and when you consider that wowing those audiences can provide fiftyfold (is that even a word - fuck it, it is now) the sales number compared to the Japanese market at the very least, and not advertising something long-awaited and totally unique is a very poor choice on multiple counts.

I wrote a cblog a few months back about this game, and I had hope.  I was full of it.  Just this Saturday, I recorded an episode of Radio Destructoid where I talked about how The Last Guardian was the only thing I was looking forward to from E3 2014, and then heard live during recording that it was cancelled.  I reacted with "that's hype, just give it a few minutes" with the confidence only reserved for some sort of religious zealot.  Then, minutes later, as if ordained by heaven itself, the tweet arrived.  I said something along the lines of "the true believer is rewarded for their faith."  It was a joke, of course.  But, like all jokes, there was an edge of truth that allowed that blade to cut the way it did.  I felt utterly justified.  Righteously so.

Then, tonight, Sony drops the ball.  Again.  On top of again.  On top of again.

I don't know what to say.  I don't know what to think.  I don't want to give up on this game, something I have such blind faith in thanks to the previous games in the series and the profound effect they have had on me and my life.  There are very few "experiences" that I've had playing games - I've had lots of fun, and I've got lots of memories, but very few actual moments that are indelible flashes of remembrance when the word "experiences" pops up.

Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus are two of those brilliant, shining moments.  I was ready for this game.  I've been ready for this game.  My bags have been packed and I've been waiting patiently.  And suffice to say, I've been disappointed for the last time.  I will not allow myself to get any more emotionally invested than this point, right here.  And to do this, I must cease to care about this game.  I have to stop waiting on a friend who will never show up.  I have to stop hoping for that moment.  

I am officially giving up on The Last Guardian.  This is probably the saddest day I've ever had in this hobby, and that's out of twenty-eight years playing video games.  This day, right here, is when I watched the purest of videogame hope die.  That's not hyperbole.  That's very real.

And Sony, you giant, sprawling multi-national corporation, you. On the beyond remote off-chance that you're out there reading this, I'd like you to know one thing and one thing only about that hope:  you killed it.  With your bare-mother-fucking-hands.  Nobody else.  Nothing else.  And I am sure as shit that I'm not the only one who feels that way right now.

"But Urrday, it's not like they canceled it."  You might as well have, at this point.  Stop dicking all of us around and just decide on whether or not you're going to put a bullet in it already.  Now you're just being cruel for the sake of being cruel, and if you can't see that, you're far worse than your fans ever thought you were.  Just shit or get off the fucking pot.

With that said, I'm going back to the week's E3 coverage.  It's going to be interesting if I can muster up the energy to care anymore.  I certainly won't get this emotionally invested in a videogame ever again, that's for sure.  This hobby used to be about inspiring that childlike sense of, I guess they're more in the business of extinguishing it.  

At least there's No Man's Sky, that's all I'm saying.  We know that's coming.

But, hey, there's always room for some more fucking zombies, right?  Right?  Guys?   read

7:42 AM on 05.28.2014


Psycho-Pass is getting a game on XBOX One.

Obligatory celebration.


8:16 PM on 03.26.2014

Leland Yee And The Beautiful Irony Of Life

This is Leland Yee.  He's a Senator for the great state of California, Democratic Party.  In the past, he's introduced and sponsored bills for both gun control and the restriction / elimination of violent video game sales.

He's also just been picked up by the FBI on charges of corruption and arms trafficking.

There are moments in time that are packed with true divine comedy.  Irony so pitch-perfect, so adequate for the situation that you wonder if these events aren't scripted by the hand of some great cosmic force we humans are simply not meant to understand.

If there is a God, no matter the name or form it takes, it must love videogames.   read

4:47 PM on 03.10.2014



Follow the link to the Forum thread for the most up-to-date information.  

Click here for a location map.

Well, it's time.  This Saturday at 8pm, Orlando is about to have a giant gathering of cooler-than-the-average nerds, as Florida's Dtoid constituency is cordially invited at theoretical gunpoint to attend the first of (hopefully) many NARP (No Apparent Reason Party) events.  Get together with other videogame fans, forum posters, cblog writers and frontpage commenters you know and love hate tolerate the presence of (now in real life).

The hostilities festivities kick off at 6pm, where we're all going out for dinner somewhere (still TBD, but the forum thread has the list of places to choose from along with active discussion about where to eat beforehand).  Then, at 8PM, it's off to Player 1, and it's going until you decide to leave or someone kicks us all the fuck out.

Bring cool people, have a good time, and finally meet people you've been internet-talking to for an inordinate amount of time.  Also, get drunk with them.

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Also also, please drink responsibly, and please have a designated driver if you are out to do serious liver damage.  Nobody needs to die over a good time.  I'm just putting that out there.   read

4:42 PM on 03.07.2014

The Low(er) Tier Podcast - S3E3: Pumpkin Tits

I'm still in the process of getting the login info for the LTPC account, but in the meantime, I'm putting this blog post up here so everyone on the front yard of Dtoid can enjoy it.

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The Lower Tier Podcast



On this episode of The Low(er) Tier Podcast, Usedtabe changes his (nick)name, ZP hates the rebranding, and Rev has strong words for an online stalker.  We discuss the linguistic skills of CoD players (blopblop), getting drunk and playing games, ask if there are any classic game collectors in the group, and wonder just what the fuck is up with the Steam Machines and why they even exist.  We then answer another round of listener questions...and some of them are just bizarre.  It's the Lowest Tier yet.

Your hosts:
Usedtabe (Latrell)
Revuhlooshun (Ryan)
Badstar (Justin)
ZombiePlatypus (Levi)
Jaime (Hi-Me)
Everyday Legend (Grant)

Music Credits:
Entertainment System - F-Zero (Port Town)
Cut Chemist - Litmus Test (Lesson 6)
Boards Of Canada - Roygbiv
Fu-Schnickens feat. Shaquille O' Neal - What's Up Doc (Can We Rock)
311 - Nutsymptom
Module - Shatter OST (Krypton Garden)

This podcast may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are entirely nonprofit and are not making a single red cent from this production, and really, the only thing we're doing is giving free advertisement for the products discussed and the artist whose music has been used as our interstitial pieces. As such, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. So there.

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12:41 PM on 02.25.2014

Dtoid Southeast NARP: Beware The (St.) Ides Of March


Follow the link to the Forum thread for the most up-to-date information. I'm of the mindset to do dinner beforehand, but the night will definitely be moving over to Player One for liquor and games.

If you're in Florida and want to meet some Dtoid people, get your ass off the couch and go. Bring friends. Shoot the shit. Possibly each other. Fun.

Keep checking up with this blog space for updates. Byaah.   read

7:41 PM on 02.11.2014

The Past: Oreos For Breakfast

I was three.  Just turned three, in fact.  Late December, 1985.

I was spending Christmas with my family at my Aunt and Uncle's house.  

My Mom was pregnant with my baby sister, and I was a criminally-precocious kid who had rocketed out of toddler status and had become a being made of very strong curiosities.  I liked electronics.  I loved my Dad's Atari 2600, we would play River Raid, Pitfall, and loads of other fun stuff.  I remember the smell of the controllers, the feel of the plastic.  But it was just a toy to me.  Video games were loud, blinky things you found in dark corners of skating rinks and bowling alleys.  They weren't something you seriously played at home, because the games you played at home just weren't as colorful, as musical, or as much fun.

But this was Christmas, late December, 1985.  And shit just got real.

My Aunt and Uncle never had children, so their enjoyment of children stemmed from being the cool Aunt and Uncle that never grew up.  My Aunt Vicky, especially.  She was the kind of lady who would let kids eat Oreos for breakfast (true story - the best days were Friday mornings).  She was the kind of lady who would take off from work to take my sister and I on bike rides and beach trips.  She was the kind of lady who would read trashy romance novels and watch classic cartoons every morning.  She was the ultimate big kid.

She showed me their new Nintendo Entertainment System.  I played Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt for hours that week.  Hours.  We all got into it, really.  But as everyone else's interest began to wane into boredom, two people were still having a blast: my Aunt Vicky and I.  And it was the start of something very profound for me.

Fast forward about six months.  My sister was a scant three months old, and it was the summer of 1986.  I was soon to be four, and was spending a hot June right on the Gulf of Mexico (I'm a Floridian) with my Aunt and Uncle.  We did the normal summer stuff, the beach, baseball games, etc. - but while my Uncle was at work, my Aunt and I would play Nintendo games. My Uncle Davis had bought a magical golden game, something called "Zelda."  I saw him playing it at night, saw the maps he had carefully and meticulously drawn on graph paper, and how he would reference them when looking for hidden objects and other things.  I knew I wanted to play it, too, and my Aunt let me use my Uncle's save file.  I played around with all of his equipment he had found, wandering the magical lands that lay before me until I had my ass kicked by a bunch of things popping out of the water (I would later find their name to be Zora).  I was dropped out of the game and back to the main screen, where I decided I would forge my own path rather than walk a trail blazed by another.

I erased his save file to start my own.  It was a mistake I would never make twice, as I was barred from ever playing someone else's save ever again.  This taught me a new sort of self-reliance, though - my progress was forever my own from that day forward, and every game had a save file reserved for my use.  We went through adventures on our own, but compared notes almost constantly.

Soon, we were playing Ultima.  Final Fantasy.  The Guardian Legend.  The Magic Of Scherezade.  Crystalis.  Zelda II.  Metroid.  Faxanadu.  Tombs & Treasure.  Kickle Cubicle.  Tetris.  Shadowgate.  Puzznic.  Legendary Wings.  Dragon Warrior.  Nobody else seemed to share my love of Megaman games, but then again, I didn't seem to grasp the charm behind my Uncle's love affair with Solomon's Key, either.  All of these games had saves or passwords devoted to my progress, and when I was there, I played.  God, did I play.  I didn't have an NES of my own, so I had to make do with what meager time I had.

But seriously, fuck Solomon's Key.

Until 1992, that is.  I got her collection as a surprise present, and she moved on to the Super Nintendo, while I burned through all the games I possibly could.  All the things I never had time to finish.  All the things I never had the chance to play.  New games that I would get for myself.  It was the ultimate in wish fulfillment.  A year later, I had a SNES, and we would trade games back and forth.  We played the Final Fantasy games together.  We played my Uncle's shmup collection (Darius, Gradius, Axelay, etc.).  Wario's Woods.  Tetris Vs. Dr. Mario.  I played Chrono Trigger with her, beat it with her, and went on a mad quest to find all the hidden endings (we succeeded).  It was amazing times, and it kept going until my 14th birthday in 1996.

She got a Nintendo 64, and when I stayed at her house for my family to celebrate my birthday, we spent all weekend - and I mean all weekend - playing Super Mario 64.  I had a blast, and when it was time to go, she told me that I could play that system whenever I wanted to, because I had to pack up the N64 before I left.  Her new N64 was my new N64, that my family had purchased for my birthday.  She didn't follow me, though - she followed Square, and thus, she picked up a PlayStation for herself.  I wouldn't catch back up with her until 2000, when I bought a PS2 at launch.

But by this time, my Aunt Vicky, the person who proudly 100%'d Final Fantasy 7, was fighting a much, much tougher battle.  And she wasn't winning.  She had already lost much of her insides to ovarian cancer, and while she was fighting it like a champ, it was a story where we all knew the ending.  She started to play less and less, and as I was 18 and owned no less than seven different consoles, I started to get more games from her to finish what I never could play before.  I played all the good stuff she had, and asked her for her advice and guidance through unfamiliar places.  I played Wild Arms, Final Fantasy 7 / 8 / 9, Chrono Cross, all the Ace Combat series (my Uncle's passion - he was a pilot in the Navy), all of her vast collection of JRPGs were mine to experience.  And I shared that experience with her.

Fun fact: I cannot listen to the overworld music of FF7 without tears.  It reminds me of my aunt and I playing it together when shit got really rough.

She saw me get married in June of 2007.  I had never seen her happier.  Ever.

She was gone that September.

She left me her entire collection.  Everything I didn't already have, she had given to me.  Every NES, SNES, PlayStation 1 & 2 game she owned, it was to be given to me.  I was the only steward capable of realizing the magnitude of the treasure trove that had been bequeathed, the only one who knew the tales of all of those worlds we had conquered together.

She also left a desire to never truly grow up, to never forget what it was like being three years old on shag carpet in the mid-eighties, clutching an alien piece of plastic with buttons that made the sword throw light at the things that scared you.  She instilled a sense of learning from my mistakes by doing things myself, the hard way being the only way.  My daughter has a piece of her middle name, "Lynn," as part of her own.  I tell her stories about her Aunt Vicky all the time, and as my daughter gets older, I'll be taking her on a lot of those same adventures with me.  

To me, it seems right.

And when I wake up on Saturday mornings, and my daughter asks for me to turn on "headband man," I can't help but think that my Aunt is still very much here in some fashion, laughing all the while with me as I put Street Fighter into my PlayStation, as per adorable toddler request.

If there is an afterlife, I know there's a second controller and a bag of Oreos waiting for me.


4:52 PM on 01.20.2014

New DTOID Group On Steam: D.I.C.K.S.

Or, rather, the Destructoid International Collective of Kicking Shit.  It's a group designed to do one thing, and that's to make it easy to find and play members of the Dtoid community on Steam...but specifically for fighting games.

I asked around some of the groups that were already in existence, and there's a lot of people playing a lot of different games, but finding people to play took writing cBlogs announcing playdates or asking around in the forums.  This way, you can join up and see who's playing fighting games or would be interested in quitting whatever they're in the middle of to go play fighting games instead.  

If you play any of these games, consider joining:

Injustice: Gods Among Us
Mortal Kombat
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition / Vanilla SF4
Skullgirls / Skullgirls ∞Endless Beta∞
Street Fighter X Tekken
The King Of Fighters XIII Steam Edition

Any other titles that get released on Steam, you can bet they'll be added.
Come play with friends (or at least people whose names you recognize).   read

10:51 AM on 01.18.2014

Skulltoid: Skullgirls On Steam

I will admit, the first time I heard about Skullgirls, I wasn't really all that interested in it.  I mean, I knew it was indie (which should be supported), I knew it was high-quality in terms of art assets (even if a little heavy on fanservice), and I knew it was a fighting game made by dyed-in-the-wool tournament pros.  Even with all of this at its back, it just never really did it for me.

However, I picked up the beta from a giveaway here on Dtoid, and saw what the hype was about.  So much so, that when it went on sale during this last Steam Winter Sale, I snapped it up without a second thought.  I've been digging deeper into the game itself, and it's surprisingly good.  Like, Capcom-SNK-Sammy-and-Namco-better-take-some-goddamn-notes levels of surprisingly good.  The problem is, there's not too many players that are online regularly - or, at least none on the fairly-large list of Destructoid friends I have on Steam.

As such, I'm proposing starting a regular meeting of fighting game players on Steam, and I'm starting with Skullgirls as the first game on the rotation.

Anyone else interested in playing on a regular basis?  Throwing down in KOF XIII, SSF4AE, etc.?  I'm looking to give Dtoid a fighting game home on Steam!   read

7:12 PM on 12.05.2013

And Now, For Something Constructively Different

-*-*-*-*-*-*-R . A . N . T . . . . I . N . C . O . M . I . N . G-*-*-*-*-*-*-

So, there's been people bitching and complaining about community.  People bitching and complaining about Dtoid losing focus.  There's been forum threads, cblogs both constructive and destructive, people leaving in a huff, and all throughout, there's been two people trying to round up the community and place them in the spotlight, every single week.

I am one of those people with their hand on the spotlight.  We took it over and rebuilt it so that you could enjoy its warm glow.

There are a few of you who have really stuck around for the weekly feature we work on, and to you, I must admit that I cannot thank you enough.  To those that have participated, I cannot thank you enough.  To those who take the time to click the fap button and comment, I cannot thank you enough.

However, beyond that, I'm having a small crisis of conscience, and I hope that the community can help me resolve it.  There's something bothering me.  Seriously, it's getting at me in a fairly major way.

See, there's been lots of bitching and complaining.  There's also been lots of discussion about what sucks, who sucks, what needs to change.  Well, myself, I come from the Mahatma Ghandi school of "Be the change you wish to see in the world," hence why I started my project of Community Interviews (and came to find out that OpiumHertz had the same idea, so we joined forces).  I wanted to make things better, so I've been trying as hard as I can to make something special that would not only give me an outlet, but also give back to the community here by showcasing one member per week, three weeks at a time.  I wanted to get feedback on the process, start dialogs, get people talking about something other than "Dtoid Sucks," because I started to feel that same way, too.  So, I decided to do something about it.

And thus far, the project has been warmly-received...but I would not call it a success.  And that doesn't have to do with me.  That doesn't even have to do with site staff.  It doesn't have to do with ads.  It doesn't have to do with Huge membership subscriptions.

It has to do with the very community I'm trying my good God damndest to serve, to set an example rather than just be another dissenter.  This feature has been a weekly staple for almost four months solid, and very, very few of you out there seem to care.  To those few who tune in, those few who comment, who vote it up so it can be seen by the community we make it for - I could quite literally cry and hug you.  

I guess I just expected better from a community who claims to be so damn hungry for their own to shine.  I expected a larger turnout from people here, and that's probably got a lot to do with my biased expectations - because I would have been glad to read this every week, myself.  I'd have been glad to see more community-based, community-driven features made by our own.

Problem is, the vast majority of you don't seem to be that interested, and that makes me feel like this is all very pointless except to a golden minority.  

So, I'm going to finish out my interview backlog / waiting list from the forums. 

At that point, I'm going to begin making a call out to the front page.  Instead of taking my ball and my teary eyes home in defeat, I've decided to to the exact opposite: I'm going to take my ball into your living room, and I'm going to suggest a game to play, and anyone who wants to play is more than welcome to join me.  We will have fun, I guarantee it.  Anyone who doesn't want to, well, you probably suck anyway.  :D

I'm doubling down so hard on this that I might as well get a forum badge for it.  And if you don't get that reference, well, you should probably take a look around some of the smaller nooks of this fine site we call Destructoid.  Maybe you should start working on something to make this place better instead of setting fire to your room before you run away from home, or publicly threatening adblock to get that negative attention you desperately crave, or bitching about paid subs / downvotes / whatever Sarkeesian video is blowing up this week.

I answered the call.  I stepped up.  What the fuck are you gonna do?

Oh, and before I forget - please take the time to tune in every Wednesday to go read our Dtoid cBlog Community Interview series.  It's fucking GREAT, we work our fucking balls off for it, and it stars the people who you argue / high-five every day here as a pure labor of love.  Much like The Simpsons, the cast only gets larger as time goes on.  And if you feel like you have something to say, step up and ask to be interviewed!  PM me or Opium, we'll be glad to get you into the rotation.

Try actually supporting community-driven efforts, rather than just sitting around and bitching about the state of things.  Listen to the community podcasts, like (the soon to be rebranded) Communitoid, The Lower Tier, Scary Granules or any other creative efforts spearheaded by your own virtual neighbors and friends.  Shit, I've even begun to attempt to resurrect the fabled NARP in the southeastern United States, because DESTRUCTOID! Join the Forums.  Start writing better cBlogs.  Start being the community you want to see.

Because until you do, all your silly bitching means nothing.  
Not when the power to truly direct change is in YOUR hands.


7:10 PM on 11.22.2013

SoulCalibur II HD Online Has Broken Everyday Legend's Heart

I don't review games often, if at all - I apologize for the long intro, but this has to be said so that you can have a very specific frame of reference for this review.  I'm going to get this out of the way right now: 

SoulCalibur II is one of my favorite games of all time.  Ever.  Like, I have been playing videogames for twenty-eight of my thirty-one years, and out of all those experiences, out of all those systems and platforms, out of all the games I could possibly play, SoulCalibur II still stands as one of my absolute, near-and-dear, desert island, you-can-keep-your-(insert title here) games I have ever played.  Period.  Outside of genre.  Outside of theme.  Just as a game alone, it stands on high.

I've played each new installment as it came out, from Soul Edge in the arcade to SoulCalibur V, and everything in between.  And sadly, nothing ever touched SCII in my eyes.  Sure, there was better mission modes and content in SCIII, there was better character customization in IV and V, but to me, the core gameplay has never felt better and more tightly tuned than in SCII.  I don't look at SoulCalibur games for extra content just like I don't eat a cheeseburger for the ketchup - the meat is the most important part, bar none.  It makes the sandwich, so to speak.  Everything else, like great vegetables, gourmet cheese, artisan all goes to waste if the meat sucks.  

SCIII had no arcade playtest to precede it, so there were glaring gameplay problems and glitches in the mission mode (I've lost saves numerous times, to the point where I simply gave up).  SCIV tried to take steps into being 3D Guilty Gear, with a focus on combos and instant-kill attacks.  SCV added Street Fighter-style meter management into the mix.  Everything past II seems to have lost more and more of the "core gameplay is the focal point" ethos, which is a shame, because nobody else was doing what SoulCalibur was doing in terms of gameplay, even ten years after the original SoulCalibur.  Nobody copied their formula.  Nobody did it better.

Imagine my joy when I heard that SoulCalibur II would get an HD re-release, the full home version of one of my all-time favorite games, complete with online play. 

Imagine my sorrow when I see glaring problems and many, many missed opportunities that completely mar an otherwise competent port.

Now that you've read that, you know where I'm coming from, and hopefully my point of view can remain as objective as it possibly can be considering my abnormally high level of fandom for this very particular entry in the franchise.

SoulCalibur II HD Online is upon us.  The gameplay itself hasn't changed from 2003, and that's a great thing.  This is classic SoulCalibur, where awareness of your positioning, proper reactive defense and fake-out mindgames are the true keys to victory, with no meter management aside from your very own lifebar.  Attacks are the same as they were, tactics are the soup du jour, and the controls might take some readjusting to get your sea legs back, but once you've acclimated, you'll find that it's the same game you loved way back when.  And what's best is this - no more arguing about which guest character was better.  Now you get to fight them to the death in order to settle the score for sure.  Or, at least 2/3 of the score, since Link isn't in this game, while PS2's Heihachi (Tekken) and XB's Spawn are.

This brings up plenty of fanboy ire on news stories, social networks, comment sections and message boards.  And truthfully, it's understandable.  However, if Nintendo didn't want to release Link to other consoles via a licensing agreement, or Namco didn't want to support Wii U for whatever reasons, there should have been no reason why they couldn't have modified the character model, called him "Kiln" and called it a day.  You'd have had your I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Link version of Link, and some people would have been made extraordinarily happy by this inclusion, because something always beats nothing, hands-down.

As a side note - the Japanese voice option has been removed.  Not a dealbreaker, but sad, as I liked their dub far more than the ham-'n-cheeze English one.

With that said, this port is made from the PAL version of SCII, which has a few bugs and glitches in gameplay that allow for specific character infinites and a few nasty properties on certain moves that make for unblockable attacks, etc.  Namco really screwed the proverbial pooch here, because using the NTSC version wouldn't have had these problems, but we're stuck with this version, and no casual player will have their experience shattered over these things.  Only eagle-eyed vets and serious competitors will take note of these changes, but I feel that they are worth mentioning.

This version also brings the same modes as the 2003 home versions. Weapon Master is back, and needs to be played in order to unlock the characters, costumes and weapon sets, just as it used to.  I have to applaud their decision to do this, as they could have done the standard Namco practice and easily offered a "Unlock It All" pack for an undisclosed sum as paid DLC.  However, I can't shake the notion that this is the reason why they're charging $20 for this game instead of $15.  I mean, sure, they did add an online component and upscaled the texture models, and there are two out of the three system-specific guest characters (one of which is licensed), but with the state of the online netcode, I'm not sure $20 is justified.

Online play isn't necessarily bad in SCIIHDO, it's just not good.  Matches are playable in the sense that you are able to play with other people online.  That's it.  The netcode simply isn't good enough to hang with the split-second timing required to execute Guard Impact parries, or shift stances with proper timing with Ivy, or even block Taki's rising B=>B (knife goes up into the face, knife goes down into the foot - good luck with guarding your foot in time).  Even on top of this, joining online games is nothing short of a joke, and playing with friends is practically nonexistent.  There's no lobby system at all, something that's a standard of all online fighting games.  Here, you just search, and join.  Once it's done, back to the main menu you go to repeat the process.  Whatever "3-4-5" means as far as connection quality, it doesn't matter - I've had better, smoother matches of online checkers. 

It's also worth noting that it's just one-on-one versus.  No Team Battle.  No online Tournament mode.  Nothing like the legendary (and I mean LEGENDARY) Conquest mode from the arcade version of SCII.  Just join, fight, and drop.  Because of all these deficiencies, I can say for a fact that SoulCalibur II HD Online only carries the right to have the word "Online" in the title on sheer technicality alone, and the pieces currently in place are shameful for anything besides an internal test build.  Project Soul should be ashamed of themselves for letting this out into the wild, and Namco should be mocked for putting it out with a smile on their face.

I feel like a little more deference should have been given to this re-release, especially for an inflated price point of twenty bucks.  The graphics are nice, the gameplay is still solid (minus the few annoyances present due to picking the wrong damn version to port), and the original game is 95% intact (no Japanese voice option bugs me a bit).  However, there's nothing new outside of the shinier coat of paint, and nothing extra added onto the original package to justify its asking price.  It comes equipped with an online mode that functions without functioning well, and has none of the creature comforts of current fighting game offerings, like lobbies.  It's the equivalent of saying that doors are optional in a house - front door, privacy doors, all of them.  All optional.

(Yes, I know, it's SCV, but it expresses my disappointment perfectly.)

This leaves me with a very bittersweet feeling, one that I can't quite stomach.  I can't honestly recommend this game to anyone, and it's the game I've been evangelizing for a decade.  I finally understand what my father meant all those years ago when he looked at me after doing something terribly stupid and said: "Son, I'm not angry at you - I'm simply disappointed in you."  That's the exact feeling I have for Namco Bandai at this present moment, because such a high-water mark for the franchise deserved so much better of a treatment than the one they gave.  This is the videogame equivalent of a job done by a high school volleyball team car wash - half-hearted and content in the fact that they already have your money, leaving you driving away with something unfinished and full of obvious spots.

With zero hyperbole, I can honestly say that this is one of my saddest days as a videogame player.  Nice job, Namco.  I can only imagine how good this game might have been if it were given more care and attention, and I know there are lot more people than just myself waiting on patches to help the situation...but considering this is a re-release, I won't get my hopes up. Especially so after you've raised them with the mere announcement that one of my absolute favorite games was returning, better than ever before.

Next time, if there even is a next time, try actually focusing a little more on the "better" part.   read

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