Since blogging on Destructoid, I haven’t done as many stupid ‘update on what games I’ve been playing/thinking about/excited for recently’-type blogs as I used to. I guess I feel like there’s more pressure here to better develop my ideas into something more fully-formed – something with a point – lest I appear in the recaps under “could be better” and feel bad for pushing more worthy blog posts off the first page.
But then there are times when I’m inspired to think about videogames enough that I just want to unite morph my random unconnected thoughts into a giant fist and punch my blog with demented prattle. And anyway, random blogs ‘because videogames’ are in fashion now, so let me be!
Anyway, I declare this a new segment on my blog (meaning I might do another one ever): Grethiwords! I write the words about the videogames! Because I’ve been thinking about the videogames! Videogames!
I just finished The Wonderful 101. It’s awesome. Like, my favourite game on the Wii U awesome. Like, the best action game I’ve ever played awesome. I didnt even realise it was an action game at first – to me it just looked like a cross between Pikmin and Ōkami, from the creator of the latter, and that was enough to sell me on it, I needed no more. But this is an action game. Like God of War. Or some other action game. I don’t play a lot of action games honestly. Combo systems scare me. Maybe I should try Kamiya’s other action games – Devil May Cry or Bayonetta? I’ve played the demos for those games… Bayonetta I could barely play. Maybe if I played it from the start – like Wonderful 101 where the gameplay isn’t especially satisfying at first but gets more and more fun the better I get at it the farther into it I get, maybe I could get better at Bayonetta? Anyway, I always thought that game looked totally pandering, and I figure these games lack the charm I love in Kamiya’s cartoony games besides. Now Viewtiful Joe… I will buy that in a heartbeat if it gets made available through the virtual console or an HD update or something.
Anyway, The Wonderful 101 does not play like a typical action game, and perhaps that’s why I was so able to embrace it. Its gameplay is also nothing like Pikmin or any of the other 100-guys-following-you-around games. But it is such a unique system, that like I said gets steadily more enjoyable the better I got at it, and I just love it. And like a true action game, it is breathlessly paced, and full of ludicrous set-pieces. It is also one of the most gorgeous and visually intensive games I’ve played. And it’s also damn long for a game paced so – I had heard it was gonna be short, but it lasted me a good 20 hours. I cringe to think how much they spent on this game considering the sales – but I don’t care, because I love it for the spectacle it is. It’s such a complete game, so full of detail and perfectly executed. I wasn’t sure it was gonna end in a way that truly manages to feel climactic in the wake of everything that came before, while still utilizing all the mechanics and everything I’d learned to that point – I wasn’t sure it was possible – but holy hell did they ever pull it off. Hats off to Platinum games.
And did I mention how damn funny and full of personality the game is?
Anyway, The Wonderful 101’s got me thinking about my 2013 games of the year. Which I’ll be posting on this blog no doubt well into February or March with all the games I still need to play. But I can’t wait ‘til then! I wanna talk about it now! So, spoiler alert: The Wonderful 101 is the frontrunner for my GOTY. Anyway, I already have eight games this year (nine if you count Earthbound; I won’t) that are so damn good it’d be sin to leave them off my top 10 at the end of the year. Whereas last year I could only come up with 3 must-play games for the year.
At the risk of sounding like a twat, 2013 is an amazing year to be a Nintendo fan. Six out of these eight games are on Nintendo consoles. And four of those are Wii U games. The Wii U is amazing and people should start buying it. There’s enough good stuff now, and I still have to play the new Mario game next week, and Deus Ex (though I’ll wait for a price drop on that), not to mention The Wind Waker HD. So much good stuff.
Anyway, I also still need to play Killer Is Dead, and Fire Emblem… The upcoming Zelda game… I gotta pick up Grand Theft Auto V. And Saints Row IV. And if that’s not enough, I’ve been watching some Hong Kong movies lately and feel compelled now to play last year’s Sleeping Dogs. Too much open-world! Waiting for a price drop on Dynasty Warriors 8, but I’m excited to finally try that series. Gonna get Pokémon X. And maybe I should play Bioshock Infinite, now that I think of it. (Edit: I forgot about Attack of the Friday Monsters, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and the new Ace Attorney...) Haha. Fuck. Do not expect my games of the year list by March.
And how the hell will I narrow it down to 10?
And now for something completely different. I did a blog about Love-de-Lic recently, which I’m actually kind of proud of, although it’s secretly just a romantic love letter to game director Yoshiro Kimura. There’s a scene in his game Chulip where the boy writes his first love letter, and that scene makes me so happy I want to cry.
Anyway, I didn’t know what he was up to now when I wrote that blog, but I just found out, from Podtoid of all places. He’s started an indie company called Onion Games and, as discussed on Podtoid, he has a twitter account in which he writes from the perspective of a sentient onion. It is amazing. But even more amazing to me is his blog/website, started mid-September. He writes diary updates like this one, and somehow, because of the cartoons he draws with it, and because of the way it’s written, in broken English, it somehow captures that mixture of child-like innocence and serious feelings from his games that I always find so beautiful and makes me want to cry so. I love it so much!
He also posts pixel art on the blog. Like this:
Isn’t it the best?! Look at it!! <3
Anyway, I still have no idea what kind of game he’s working on, but according to the blog, “Onion games is making game happily”, and I couldn’t be happier to read that.
Jim Sterling left Destructoid. In case you didn't know. Which is to me kind of like Mr. Destructoid leaving Dtoid for another website, so intrinsic is Jim to this place. And I'm still baffled by the lack of fanfare.
My head has been awhirl all day wondering if I even want to stick around this place now. Up until this morning when I happened upon the news mentioned off-handedly in a c-blog, everything at Dtoid was great for me. The rise in melodramatic posts as of late about the site becoming less and less fun left me unfazed, because I can only dedicate so much time to this shit, and as far as I'm concerned, the news, and personalities and content, in the capacity I have to digest them, are enough for me. But now without Jim, it's a whole other equation, and all of a sudden the front page does seem a bit dry to me. And I remember when my favourite editors left the last gaming site I used to browse, how hollow an experience it was to stick around afterwards as long as I did.
Anyway, since the best explanations of the situation seem to currently be found through such means as wading through Twitter posts, and Deadly Premonition let's plays – for the part where Jim talks about what happened for a bit before getting distracted by a cutscene – I will briefly post my findings.
- There seems to have been some sort of disagreement between Jim and Dale about the type or capacity of content Jim was to contribute, which he thought they could compromise on, but apparently they couldn't (wth) and decided it was best to get a divorce. But they're on friendly terms and mommy and daddy both still love you.
- Podtoid is now "The Dismal Jesters" and you can find it here for now. And it was just added to iTunes apparently as I was typing this. It's like, a regular episode of Podtoid.
That's about all I've got. Anyway, I did scout some other gaming sites today, but ultimately my conclusion is, I love Dtoid, and it still meets my needs as well or better than any other site out there, and it's crazy early to think about jumping ship. And I can still follow Jim separately on Youtube and the Escapist and the new podcast. And I'm encouraged by Dale North's words in a reply on another cblog, about the direction of the site and wanting to liven up the front page. It sounds pretty good. And there are still plenty of great people, in the staff and community. I'll stick around awhile yet, friends.
But now, Jim does deserve a proper Dtoid farewell.
Pleased to enjoy this list of things I want. They are things. I would be happy if they were real things. Probably they are not.
...Yeah. I've not listed anything we know is coming at E3, nor anything too boring, that we just had or can obviously expect. And in a way this is my wishlist (for Nintendo 1st party/published stuff) for the whole of the Wii U's lifespan. And even then I think these range from wishful thinking to totally impossible. But think if they happened!
10. New Star Fox
I haven't played much Star Fox. I played the N64 game (on VC)... once. I didn't like the whole arcadey play-the-whole-game-in-one-sitting thing, and I don't think I actually beat it, but it was quite fun while it lasted. I think I've played the SNES original a little bit... and not cared. How were the Gamecube ones? Point is, this is a franchise that's skipped a generation, and that I think has a lot of untapped potential and there's room for it to make one hell of a comeback. I want a truly amazing Star Fox game.
9. 2014 Year of Waluigi
Waluigi is my favourite Mario character. Wario has two whole serieses. Luigi's been getting plenty of attention these days. Now it's about time Waluigi got his own game. I don't care what it is. Nintendo's take on the stealth genre? It literally doesn't matter.
8. Super Smash Bros. U includes Travis Touchdown
Super Smash Bros. is to my mind the best party game, hands down, and it's definitely the confirmed thing I'm most excited just to actually see. But my number one wish for it is to include Travis Touchdown as a playable character. Suda's expressed his interest in this. And his existing moveset in his own games already translates perfectly to Smash Bros.
7. Earthbound Bundle
This is already speculated to be coming for the Wii U. I'd love this. Both Earthbound and Mother 3 are games I've tried to play on emulator but I've not gotten far in either. Being able to play them in an official capacity on the gamepad however, may be the motivation I need to really get into these games. We already know Earthbound is coming to Virtual Console, but a Mother 3 release would be more important, and I'd love to be there for some kind of series-celebrating physical special-edition release or something.
6. Battalion Wars/Endless Ocean 3
Though these series have little to do with one another, Battalion Wars 2 and Endless Ocean are both Wii games I got really into way back in 2007, and though they're often forgotten about nowadays, I think they're both ideal for the Wii U. I think the control possibilities for Battalion Wars on the gamepad are limitless, and I think Endless Ocean, more than just about any game I can think of, would benefit from HD photorealistic graphics.
5. Real-time 3D Pokémon Red Remake
This is a pipe dream I've had probably since forever. I want a fully-3D open-world Pokémon game. One in which for battles you control Pokémon in 3D space in real time and use the environment the way Pokémon do in the show. It would be a ridiculous undertaking for Nintendo, having to animate all those Pokémon... but I only really want the first 151 to be in it anyhow. Yeah, this would be higher up if I thought there was even a slight chance of it happening.
4. Skip Ltd. Bundle
I mentioned this in my last blog, how happy I would be if Nintendo localized New Play Control Chibi-Robo and Captain Rainbow and threw them out there, together in a bundle. I don't even care if they're up-resed for the Wii U. I just want to play these games.
3. Gamecube Games on VC, includes Cubivore
Okay, GC on VC is something that needs to happen. Hell, Sony's already got PS2 games on the PS3; there's no reason Nintendo can't keep up the two-generations-behind thing with its Virtual Console library. But more than the usual suspects on VC – Mario Sunshine, Melee, and all that – I wanna see some of the weirder games I missed out on, like Cubivore, Odama, Viewtiful Joe... and imports! The cancelled-last-minute localization of GiFTPiA, if it's not already included in the Skip bundle!
2. New Miyamoto IP
This is what Nintendo desperately needs – a new IP from Miyamoto, like we haven't had since Pikmin. Of course we know the idea for Pikmin came to Miyamoto as he'd recently taken up gardening. What's Miyamoto been up to lately that he can turn into the next brilliant game concept? He's getting older. Maybe an adventure game where your character is constantly and rapidly aging. As his abilities and agility decrease, he has to accomplish tasks to get something to reset his aging before he expires. Heh, a cartoonified Ubik. I'd play that. I would very much play that.
1. Wave Race 3
Remembering Wave Race exists (and having no one IRL to yell at about how much I want a new one) inspired this blog post. Wave Race is the greatest of all racing games. It's been 12 years since the last one. This series needs to come back. Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please.
When I think back to my time with Little King's Story, one of my favourite games of all time and to my mind surely the best original game of the console generation, I feel something like heartbreak. There is some kind of beautiful innocence to the presentation of that game, and my mind wanders to the positively stunning final level and very final cutscene in the game; I can't say any more for fear of spoiling it, but it is something nobody talks about, despite how deeply it's ingrained itself in my subconscious, like only a sparse few such sequences in games ever do. Equally heartbreaking is it to think of the game's poor performance, and that the main mind behind Little King's Story, Yoshiro 'miserable Japanese guy' Kimura hasn't been able to get another project off the ground.
The latter article has put Kimura back on my mind. I'd totally forgotten his PS2 title Chulip, was announced for PSN. It's apparently been on there for several months now. I've started playing it. I immediately fell in love with the game. There are so many good things in this game; it would take me an hour to explain! That said, the more I play it, the more its gameplay has proven an obstacle in my enjoyment. There's a complete game walkthrough in the software manual which has unfortunately proven entirely necessary, the game is too slow going, I get game over way too often, poopie causes way too much heartbreak... er, yeah, I'm not going to try to explain that one. But despite all these issues, I keep coming back to the game, and I must see it through. It's hilarious, and ferociously unique, and on some other mysterious level, it resonates with me, in a similar way to Little King's Story. It's nowhere near the same level as Little King's Story, and for the record, I think Little King's Story has incredible gameplay to match its presentation, but Chulip is nonetheless evidence of a major talent. One which deserved the resources to reach its true potential in Little King's Story, and one which deserves the resources to make even more games.
Finally playing another game by Kimura has once again reminded me of this Neogaf post I saw some time after playing Little King's Story, which has stuck with me. It is about Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, an untranslated Japanese PS1 game, which seems to be considered by many of those who've been able to play it as one of the greatest games ever made. It would seem that Kimura, back then, was part of a dream team known as 'Love-de-Lic', supposedly at the height of their creativity. That none of their games have made it out of Japan seems almost criminal.
With Kimura and Love-de-Lic on my mind, I've been trying to look into it more to find out exactly where the Moon guys have ended up, what games they've been involved in. It seems the three men most instrumental in that game's making are Kimura, Taro Kudou, and most of all, Love-de-Lic founder Kenichi Nishi.
First off, Kimura, we know, made Chulip and Little King's Story. After Love-de-Lic broke up, he formed his own studio, 'Punchline', which only made two games: Chulip, and the localized albeit very rare PS2 survival-horror title Rule of Rose, which I believe Kimura was heavily involved in but not the main mind behind. He then worked with Cing/TownFactory on Little King's Story, and since has worked briefly at Grasshopper and elsewhere, but hasn't been quite at the helm of another project, that I know of.
Taro Kudou meanwhile formed his own studio along with fellow Love-de-Lic guy Kazuyuki Kurashima called 'Vanpool', which've done a lot of things for Nintendo. Kudou, it turns out, was the guy behind Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, which I so wish had made it past Europe. But his first and perhaps most interesting game there, the one selected by the aforementioned Neogaffer as the second best LdL game, Endonesia, is confined to Japan.
Finally, Kenichi Nishi seems to have had the biggest career since Love-de-Lic, but also the most frustratingly unlocalized. He formed the studio 'Skip Ltd.', which've grown and made all sorts of things. But three games in particular were headed by Nishi, the only one to make it outside of Japan being Chibi-Robo. Chibi-Robo! How I want to play this game. But it's kinda rare now. I saw it in an EB Games once, a couple years back, prominently displayed. I was tempted and so wish I'd bought it, but it was $30 which seemed really high for a used Gamecube game, and at the time I still thought there was hope that the New Play Control version would get localized. But it never did. Anyhow, the other two include the Gamecube adventure title GiFTPiA, and, what's long been my most wanted unlocalized Wii game, Captain Rainbow. Anyway, Nishi has since formed another studio called 'Route24', and has made weird stuff like LOL on the DS, and some iOS games or something. Apparently he wants to do a Moon: Remix RPG Adventure sequel.
Point is, these are some of the most talented game developers in Japan, and it's incredibly disheartening that their games are so underrepresented outside their home country. For a minute I imagined Nintendo announcing a bundle with New Play Control Chibi-Robo and Captain Rainbow (and GiFTPiA for good measure why not), and now I'm so depressed I want to cry, because of how badly that's so not going to happen. Games don't have their Criterion Collection, someone to pluck them from obscurity and translate and rerelease them; it's too much work and there's not enough interest. It's awful, but it seems the time has passed on Love-de-Lic's games, unless I'm to learn Japanese...
...That's not entirely true. Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, the "greatest game yet made", has a fan translation underway. If there's one thing I hope someone takes away from this blog... it's to be as excited for this project as I am.
Back in mid-2010 when Monster Hunter Tri came out on the Wii, I was conflicted about whether or not I wanted to buy it. I’d been intending to try the series – it and Dragon Quest these two series that were popular in Japan and not so in the West, I was curious about, and were getting new acclaimed instalments around the same time as one another. But I didn’t take too fondly to Dragon Quest IX and subsequently decided against Monster Hunter. I chickened out at the last minute at the idea of its hardcore difficulty (my being someone who generally plays games on the easy setting), and at the idea that I can just lose a 50-minute fight and not accomplish anything (this is why I stopped playing Advance Wars).
But I’ve still been curious about the series. I thought maybe I’d consider Monster Hunter 4 when that comes out, but seeing as I prefer console games, and I’d like an excuse to use my WiiU, I decided by and by that I should try 3 Ultimate. And liable as I was to chickening out again, the timing was right, and I ended up picking it up, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I popped it in for the first time about 8pm Saturday night, intending just to play for a couple hours at most, and then watch a movie and go to bed. At about 4am I forced myself to quit. I love this game. (Incidentally, I’d just got done playing the very Dragon Quest-like Ni No Kuni, and loved that as well. I suppose this is weird Japanese popular games series 2010 games redux year. I’ll work on that title.)
I haven’t been this addicted to a videogame since Skyrim. I played Monster Hunter most of last weekend, when I could in the evenings this week, and now that it’s the long weekend I want nothing more than to play it some more. …Although my stupid brother’s playing Lego City Undercover at the moment – needless to say my WiiU, which I haven’t had anything to play on for the past two months, has gotten more game-time this week than I’m sure it has in all the time since I bought it on launch day.
Anywho, the community for Monster Hunter is awesome and super-supportive. Whenever I’d comment on some article about how I’m a little intimidated about the game, I’d get replies from series fans encouraging me to give it a go. And now in the game people have been really helpful in initiating me into it. I met my first Monster Hunter friend day one! Also most people use text and keyboard as opposed to the mic (or don’t mind people using keyboard), which is more my thing. So I like that.
But anyhow, I wanted to do my part now in addressing some of my anxieties about the game and encouraging other people to play. The game is not that difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it takes practice, and it can be very hard, but online, it all depends on who’s with you. With three other high-level players, an intimidating monster can be a walk in the park; I can pretty much just focus on staying alive, while they do most of the work. With only 3 in a party, and all on the same level as you, a tough boss fight can be a lot harder, and I have lost a fight after 50 minutes, but so what? I’ve now fought that same monster half a dozen times and it’s not gotten boring. When you’re playing Monster Hunter, an hour feels like no time at all; it’s so fun, and I feel like I’m constantly learning new things about the game and tightening my grasp on what all it has to offer.
The game is not inaccessibly challenging, but my god can those monsters be scary, and so much fun to fight. My first fight against a big monster, a badgery-looking bear, with only my soon to be first Monster Hunter friend, was something darn special. Now I’ve still only unlocked the second difficulty level/set of quests and I suspect the game will become much, much more challenging still. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to, and expect I’ll be ready for. Catching up on single-player quests has been a walk in the park after the big monsters in the multi-player. And I haven’t mentioned all the other stuff: I’ve figured out how to use my farm to get me plenty of the ingredients I need to make health potions, so I no longer have to forage for them; I’ve just forged a badass new electric sword (stubbornly insisting on only using the Longswords with the samurai aesthetic)… I could go on forever with this stuff.
But in sum: this is a ludicrously addictive and enjoyable game, like nothing I’ve played before. If you have a WiiU, I can’t recommend any game more highly for the system. If you’re on the fence like I was: without hesitation I say go for it!
Now I wonder how many months before I stop playing this finally. I really wanna try Lego City Undercover…