hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts


Handy's blog

3:56 PM on 06.13.2015

E3 Bingo: Where Dreams Come to Die

E3 is upon us once again, and so too are ridiculous predictions. Having exhausted every form of divination available in past years – tarot cards, coins, magic 8 balls – I was left with either the last resort of “Erotic Dice Predict E3” or to change the format up. I chose poorly.

So I’m proud to pronounce E3 Bingo, the only game where winning makes you a bigger loser! The cards will be split between the Big Three conferences of Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo and a fourth General card. The traditional Free Space will be occupied by a sure thing and victory is achieved by getting a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.


Microsoft like to play it safe, a little too safe. Last year’s "all games, no bull" approach helped make up for the previous disastrous years, but they still lag behind. Objectively, it could be argued that Microsoft have some of the best games to showcase, but the problem is most turn out to be multiplatform. They also have a habit of using doublespeak to feign exclusivity, so look forward to pointless confusion in the coming days. Expect lots of green.


“Greatness Awaits” has been the tagline for a few years now, and fans are starting to get impatient, Greatness needs to hurry the hell up and arrive already. Sony’s had a comfortable lead for a while, but they’ve been coasting on goodwill at E3 lately, hopefully they’re more proactive this year, instead of waiting for MS to screw up. Expect that panoramic shit that people watching online can’t appreciate.


Okay, predicting Nintendo is basically pointless, because they don’t follow any predictable course of action or business acumen ever. Where Microsoft are evil and Sony are stupid, Nintendo are crazy. Not to mention they run such a tight ship, Nintendo rarely leak, even when their upcoming game is Tentacle Hair Bukkake Turf Wars, somehow nobody mentions it. Expect presentation kind of like those kids shows that talk to the viewer.


Everything else, EA, Ubisoft, Square, Bethesda and more have showcases this year. Who knows what terrifying monstrosities they’ll unleash this year? Expect cringe.


1:58 PM on 03.21.2015

Remastered Collection announced for PS4, PS4 rebranded PS3: Definitive Edition.

Sony today revealed that they are well into production of their newest title, the “Remastered Collection”, said to be compiling the latest hits of the last five years with minor graphical improvements and framerates originally deemed “not cinematic”. Bringing together hits like The Last of Us: Remastered, Gravity Rush: Remastered, Grand Theft Auto V, Resident Evil Remake HD, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Grim Fandango “Remastered”, God of War 3: Remastered, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD and somehow Halo: The Master Chief Collection all in one package.

God of War 3 goes from “pretty disappointing” to “pretty, disappointing”.

Shuhei Yoshida announced the title last night on the disassembled stage of last year’s E3 conference, “Yeah, we released the PS4 way too soon, aside from InFamous we had basically nothing planned until late 2014, which really means mid 2015 after delays” said Yoshida “we have to do something to tide people over, we tried putting gameplay into this movie called The Order but nobody fell for it” and went on to say “recycling is very important to us here at Sony, whether its recycled ideas or recycled games, we need to do something to reduce our carbon footprint after burning all those unsold Move controllers”.

But this isn’t just some collection of games, this is the Remastered Collection, all games will be receiving yet another overhaul of improvements. “In The Last of Us Ellie would often blatantly run around and go unnoticed by enemies, many found this immersion breaking so rather than rework the AI again we’ve given her a Predator like cloak during stealth segments”. “For DmC we found that Dante focus tested much better when we removed all his dialogue, we also changed his default look to the Classic Dante DLC costume and replaced Kat with a giant slice of pizza”

Not in a million two years.

“We honestly have no idea what to do with Resident Evil though, it’s been remade four times already, it’s not like there are other hit PS1 games people have been begging to be remastered for years”. “With Borderlands we just had to replace all the dialogue and text with newer memes, and the final boss is now a gigantic black and blue dress”.

The Remastered Collection is set to release later this year, though recent leaks suggest it might be better to hold out as Remastered Collection: Complete Edition HD may be in the works.


2:02 PM on 02.06.2015

8 Game Trends That Need To Go

You Know what else needs to go? Intros. You know what a list blog is, you're smart, I trust you.

(No, I'm not being lazy...)

Tailing Missions

You know what I love to do in my openworld games built around traversing the environment in fun non-restrictive ways? That’s right, very slowly following someone as they obey all the rules. Waiting for them at red lights, watching them stop to have conversations, staying perfectly still and not pressing anything because every button does something that “draws attention”, starting all over again because you got too close or too far away, nothing frustrating about tailing missions, no siree!

Worst Offender – Assassin’s Creed: Tailing missions are one thing, but Assassin’s Creed forces you to wrestle with its “stealth” mechanics while doing it, and insists that you must keep your target on camera at all times, and that you get close enough to eavesdrop, next thing you know you’re in a bush creeping on Gorge Washington and wondering what the hell happened to this series.


Overindulgent Shotgun Reload Animations

I think everybody who plays shooters has at some point considered the potential of more in depth reload mechanics, like what if reloading early wasted the rest of the clip instead of magically adding the spare bullets to your total? You’d have to manage your ammo consumption and fight your OCD need to reload after firing one bullet. But I can only assume these mechanics turn out to be too frustrating in practice since no one has implemented them. That is, except for the shotgun.

There we have to watch the lavishly detailed animation as you slide every individual shell into the gun, most current games even let you interrupt the animation in emergency situations to fire off the shells you’ve already loaded, tactical depth and resource management all in the middle of a shootout! Sounds fun? I agree! Except it’s only shotguns, making them a massive crutch compared to other weapons. Why can’t every weapon have this depth? There’s an entire boss fight in MGS3 dedicated to the boss figuring out how fun this could be. Seriously, half of Ocelot’s best quotes are about how much fun it is to reload guns. Let us do it!

Worst Offender – Every Shooter I guess: I mean, it’s not going to be racing games.


Stun Waggle

For the unfamiliar, which might be everybody since I just made up this term, stun waggle is when your character is grabbed or incapacitated and the game forces you to violently jiggle the analogue stick to regain control. A nice idea in theory, your brain associates the left stick with movement and shaking it is a nice way to represent the struggle to break free or snap out of a daze, much like shooting with the shoulder buttons – it should just feel right.

The problem? It’s going to break my damn controller! It has already! More than once! Let us mash a button or something instead, anyone who’s familiar with character action games knows all too well about the dreaded “CLACK CLACK CLACK” sound that counts down the lifetime of your analogue stick.

Worst offender – Platinum Games: As if having to buy new a console to play each of their games wasn’t bad enough, having to buy a new controller for new game+ is pushing it.


Ambient Muffle

A little trick games are pulling these days for immersion is to smother sound depending on where it’s coming from in relation to the player. It really draws you into the experience if you’re wearing headphones or have a decent sound system, it really takes you out of the experience if you have to turn on subtitles or stop and turn the camera at whoever’s talking so you can actually hear what they’re saying.

Worst offender – Naughty Dog: “What’s that Ellie!? You had a really insightful comment about the tragedy of the human condition? Sorry, I missed it because I’m down the hall looking for scissors in this toilet!”


Openworld Padding

Wow, it even feels like a waste of time to explain it at this point but you all know the drill. Kill the bad guys and get to the big thing so you can climb it or liberate it to unlock part of the map which unlocks sidequests that get you more weapons so you can get more places and climb more big things etc etc etc.

It’s ironic that openworld games, whose selling point is freedom and emergent gameplay, have become the most formulaic and predicable in the last few years.

Worst Offender – Ubisoft: I don’t think I even need to buy any of their games in 2015, I’ve basically played them all already.


Next-Gen Flare

Okay, maybe it’s just me but I’ve had a next gen console for about two months and I’m really having trouble...seeing things, or rather, seeing everything, all at once, all the time, flashing, brightly, in my eyes, my eyes you guys, my eyes hurt so much. It’s a symptom of every new console generation, everybody wants to show off their shiny new graphics, but this generation is especially obsessed with lighting effects.

Bright explosions, flashy effects, bloom lighting, all have been turned up to eleven, even a muted game like Abe’s Oddysee had remade into a blinding lazer show. Hell, Dying Light’s main selling point seems based around recreating the “Ah, crap, the sun’s in my eyes!” experience.

Worst Offender – InFamous Second Son: I’m going to find whoever came up the Neon powers and follow them around with a laser pen for a week. Aside from burning Delsin’s silhouette into the back of your eyelids, they start to impede the gameplay flow, Neon (and the other power I won’t spoil) are so visually loud and dazzling that it becomes difficult to tell if you’re even hitting your targets anymore, especially during night sections.


Fishing Minigames

Oh my God this is so boring stop doing it! It’s literally just standing in place and waiting for a button prompt, unless it’s one of those advanced fishing minigames which somehow become extremely stressful by introducing reeling mechanics and line breaks.

Worst offender – Japan: I suppose an island nation would enjoy their fishing, but it is beyond me why every Japanese game with even a semblance of freedom or openness insists on including a fishing minigame. God help you if it’s the kind that requires you catch a certain type of fish that can only be found in a certain part of the map which requires a certain type of bait that is only sold by a certain merchant if you want to unlock the True Ending.


Zelda Pacing.

Pacing is important, and a steady pace can be difficult to maintain for any game over eight hours. Usually the best way to achieve this is to set up a long term goal and guide the player there with smaller, achievable short term goals. Zelda games however, and those who take inspiration, take this to a ridiculous extreme, where short term goals become massive road blocks that plague you at every turn. While fundamentally similar to any other progression blocker in gaming, Zelda Pacing brings with it a persistent feeling of being set back or delayed, a continuous shifting of the finish line, and a weight on the shoulders. When you finally complete something it turns what should be a feeling of accomplishment into exasperated relief. As an example, let me explain a personal stand out moment from our Worst Offender – Darksiders 2.

You’re told you need to reach the Well of Souls and to do this you must contact the Lord of Bones who is reached by climbing Serpents Peak to summon the Eternal Throne which itself turns out to be a giant traversable dungeon. But just before the throne room you’re stopped by The Chancellor who says you must go to the Gilded Arena and fight the Arena Champion before you can get an audience. So you go to the Arena and are told you must assemble three Animus Stones to summon and fight the Champion, after this you can finally talk to the Boner Lord who won’t grant your request until you find his three Dead Lords. Aside from having their own dungeon, EACH, one even demands you find him three Lost Souls before he agrees to go with you and I don’t know what happens after that because that’s when I deleted the game, realising I was on a sub-sub-sub-subquest. Keep in mind that these five to six hours of hoop-jumping are all for the purpose of getting someone to just talk to the protagonist properly and let him know what he’s actually supposed to be doing.



Honourable Mentions

Death blur: Making it really hard to see what’s killing you by drowning out colour and smearing the screen with blood, this is literally the worst possible time you could obscure someone’s vision in a game.

Audio tapes and notes: What was once an interesting way of fleshing out characters is becoming a crutch, aside from the believability of everybody constantly writing and recording their actions and leaving it scattered everywhere (err, aside from social media), notes and audio tapes are becoming exposition dumps, telling us what they should be showing us.

Co-op integration of single player story mode: If you aren’t a Souls game you aren’t doing it right.

The word “Badass”: Come on, stop saying that, people are watching, you're embarrassing yourself.

Piles of furniture blocking staircases: Once you notice it you can’t un-notice it. This is especially prevalent in post-apocalyptic settings, as though “duck and cover” was at some point replaced with “push your sofa halfway up the stairs”.


4:24 PM on 10.20.2014

The Brave New World We've Won.


At first games were held in contempt, a toy for children and nothing more, and to an extent they were right, but gamers and the medium grew up together and came into their own. When the moral guardians told them they were sick or pathetic they held our ground and proved them wrong. When the Jack Thompson’s of the world blamed tragedies on gaming they were told where they could shove their baseless accusations.

Basically what I’m getting at is that gaming has had a lot of shit flung its way, and today is no different, except the shit-flingers are coming from within, and their audience is sick of it. Now I’m not going to warn you about the gaming “boogie men” or “conspiracy”, boogie men are scary and conspirators are smart, these people are neither. These are the more hilarious examples of what we’ve had to put up with for the last few years, the reason there was so much animosity built up for games journalists who push political correctness, the other four thousand straws before the one that broke the camel’s back if you will.

Blonde Shepard: Don’t judge a woman by her looks unless we do.

EA, realising the large fan following FemShep had garnered, decided to revamp her default character model for inclusion in ME3 promotional material, however EA was also aware that the unpleasable wasp nest that is the Bioware fanbase would hate whatever they came up with anyway and decided to leave it up to the fans for vote for their favourite themselves. Some people in the game press took issue with this, drawing comparisons to a “beauty contest”, some might consider this silly considering we’d already had two games to get to know this character, and that nobody would be forced to use this model since the it would only be the default in a game with a character creator. But lines were drawn, it was wrong to boil the glorious Commander Shepard down to just appearances.


That is, until the blonde won the vote...

“Blonde Bimbo” “Barbie faced personality vacuum” “that is the face of a woman who cares more about her glue-on nails and handbag Chihuahua” these were the accusations levied at the chosen winner, who is still exactly the same person she was before. The issue of voting on appearance was dropped in lieu of badgering the world for not choosing the “right” type of girl, it was simply unthinkable that Shepard could become an example of “western world Caucasian beauty” (coughunlikeMaleShepcough).

EA went into damage control mode and announced “Phase 2” of voting, now for hair colour, and it was fine to vote again, so long as you made the choice that made her look like the old default they were going to import anyway, and so we ended up with a hastily pallet swapped Femshep who looked like she bleached her skin and had a terrible dye job. But would blonde prejudice ever rear its ugly head again? (Spoiler alert: yes, it’s number three).

E3 2014 Panels: Not enough crippled minority lesbian presenters.

Polygon’s Danielle Riendeau took exception to this year’s E3, the problem, in her eyes, was that there were more severed heads than female presenters, and by “more” she meant “two”, there were two more severed heads, and considering the games shown included Mortal Kombat and an Assassin’s Creed about the French Revolution I’d say that’s coming out pretty well. In Polygon’s eyes the lack of women or “people of color”, because it’s still the 50’s apparently, “sends a message”. Is that message “Most of these people are the company’s executives giving a talk at a trade show”? Is it “Many minority execs are from non-English speaking countries and can’t go on stage”?

Nope, just “sends a message”, which much like it’s cousin “problematic” is code for “I want to call this racist but don’t have any real substance to do so”

Most peculiar though, was the complaint that too many presenters were “white, male and able-bodied”, speaking as a disabled person this is an incredibly odd statement to make considering that (1) not all disabilities are visible, and (2) maybe being disabled might impede someone’s ability run on and off stage while giving several impassioned speeches for upwards of an hour. But then, that would imply that Polygon actually gives a shit about disabled people instead of looking progressive.

Far Cry 4 Boxart: Return of the Aryan oppressors

Far Cry 4 was accused of racism after the reveal of its boxart, many claimed the image evoked (and therefore, wholeheartedly endorsed) white supremacy, cultural eradication, and just for good measure, homophobia, it’s an awfully bright suit after all. Personally, I think making a bunch of loaded accusations based on stereotypes like that seems kind of...well racist, but the best part? Nobody in that art is white. In fact, we knew next to nothing about the game at the time the art was released, but that didn’t stop anyone making wild accusations, most of which were based around dyed hair.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it hilarious that those most eager to scream racism literally couldn’t recognise an Asian when he was staring them in the face, not to mention sitting on a Buddhist statue in the Tibetan mountains while stroking another Asian on the head.

Far Cry 4 at E3: Silence is sexist

Sticking with Far Cry 4, narrative director Mark Thompson was questioned at E3 2014 by Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson about what he would have done differently “If you had been able to work with a playable woman character in Far Cry 4”, Thompson declined from answering, no doubt feeling that he was being asked a leading question that Kotaku could twist into a manufactured controversy. Thompson was wrong however, Kotaku didn’t even need an answer to begin the manufactured controversy.

“Ubisoft Refused To Talk To Me About Women” was posted soon after, an article that spends ten paragraphs describing literally anything but the topic at hand, the sights, the sounds, the smells, at one point Loony Toons, anything to make it look like anything actually happened. Ubisoft’s refusal to answer leading questions on a hot button topic was all it took for Kotaku to conflate them with the issue.

Also, Look forward to my next article “Kotaku Refused To Talk To Me About Their Hand In The Rwandan Genocide”

Dragon’s Crown: Breasts Exist.

Game Journalists didn’t like when Dragon’s Crown, a game with hyper-stylised art inspired by everything from Renascence art to Walt Disney, had the audacity to exaggerate the female form. The character, drawing from the likes of Jessica Rabbit and the Swords and Sorcery trope of the buxom sorceress, was given impossibly large breasts, which is unacceptable at random intervals in the games industry. No effort was made to see where the character drew inspiration from, most ignored that almost everybody in the game is heavily caricatured, or as Penny Arcade’s Tycho put it “The only characters here who aren’t fucking mutants are the Elf and the Wizard”. Once again, it seemed like they didn’t care about the issue so much as that they could make it an issue, and the game was brushed off as the product of the artist’s juvenile fantasies.

...which is nonsense because anyone who’s played a Vanillaware game knows George Kamitani is an ass man.

Lara Croft’s PG rated traumatic experience.

Remember that time we had month long discussions over whether or not it was okay to depict sexual assault and rape in a videogame and then it turned out the scene in question was a guy touching her leg about a second before Lara killed him? That may have been blown a little out of proportion.

Starcoon: I don't even

A group of students in the Netherlands made a browser based game about a racoon travelling to the stars, they called it Starcoon. “Cultural differences – we have them” said Kotaku’s Mike Fahey as he imposed his cultural standards on some foreigners, insinuating that a portmanteau of “star” and “racoon” was racist. The developers eventually changed their name to avoid any discourse, which Kotaku used as fodder to write about why the Washington Redskins should change their names.

If you’re a game journalist and you’re wondering why your audience has suddenly turned on you, it might have something to with years of bullshit artificial controversies like this, and lines such as “We’re told all the time that the average age of gamers is getting older, but their emotional maturity and concept of life in a pluralist society seems to be stuck somewhere around the freshman year of high school. On average, it’s a demographic no more sophisticated than a meathead sports fan.” thanks Owen Good of Kotaku Australia, we’ll get right on that!

Any other words with antiquated racial connotations we should watch out for? Cocoons? Spades? The colour black? Halloween is right around the corner, can I still say spooky? What about the sambo, a type of gourd found in –oh for fuck–

Sambo: let’s keep racism alive so we can fight it.

Scribblenauts is a game in which any word you enter will appear in game, including the sambo, the name of a type of fig leaf gourd found in Spain which resembles a watermelon. As it turns out “sambo” was also an outdated racial slur for black people in America, and black people liking watermelons is also an old-fashioned stereotype, when connecting all the dots togther it soon became quite evident that 5th Cell did not sneak 1800’s racism into their videogame.

“Racial Term in DS' Scribblenauts?” – Protip: when a game journalist uses a title with a question mark at the end there’s a 90% chance they won’t answer that question. Bonus tip: if you need to dedicate over half your article to an American history lesson explaining why the name of a foreign fruit might be construed as racist – it’s not fucking racist.

Quiet: Shhhhhhh

Hideo Kojima said (in his poor grasp of English), that he’s been designing characters with cosplayers and figurines in mind, but expressed concern that he’d made Quiet too “erotic” to cosplay, either because the outfit is uncomfortable or because it would be hard to go around public events dressed like that. Somewhere along the way this got twisted into meaning that Kojima was making all the characters sexier so that he could perv over cosplayers.

Expect to hear more about Quiet in the future. You see, Quiet is the perfect character for the games press, she’s scantily clad, potentially a victim, and most importantly, she can’t speak for herself. Because at the end of the day, much like everything else here, it’s not really about her, it’s not about what she’s like, what she thinks, or what she does. It’s about them. It’s about earning brownie points for how progressive look, it’s about “enlightening” the audience who don’t know any better. All those accusations, all that outrage, and the character hasn’t even opened her mouth yet.


3:47 PM on 07.26.2014

What if Mario was... a GIRL!???!!!?

When they announced new Super Mario 3D World heads were sent spinning at the prospect of playing as Princess Peach, unfortunately, many were disappointed as both Peach and Rosalina reinforced gender normatives by running slower and jumping differently than their male counterparts. Some brave fans took it upon themselves to reverse the situation and draw Mario as a girl, and in doing so, subverted all expectations and revealed the chauvinist precedent unwittingly encouraged by Nintendo. 

If you’re still reading this then that means you clicked, and I have already won. Here's some fanart I found. However, in an attempt to make this look like I didn’t shit this out in ten minutes allow me to present some half baked ideas I thought up in the shower. *Ahem*. If Mario was a girl than that would turn the stereotypical “save the princess” plot on its head, now a woman would be saving a man, and that would be really progressive and open-minded and avant-garde and stuff.

I’m definitely not writing this because Nintendo fans are rabid and fanatical and women in gaming is a hot button issue.

Also, in anticipation of dissenting opinions allow me to suggest that if you are a man attracted to female Mario then you’re probably gay, and gender-swapped Mario is how you lie to yourself and maintain your image. “This isn’t gay” you think, as you imaging her giant cartoon gloves enveloping your penis, “I’m straight” you reassert, picturing the gentle caress of her moustache. 

I’m sure that pre-emptively suggesting that those people are gay in no way reinforces the idea that it’s something to be ashamed of. In any case, I’ll be pretending to be so forward thinking that I couldn’t even conceive why you would go there or why anything in this article would even draw attention in the first place. 

Have I mentioned Smash Bros yet? Oh man, Smash Bros is for idiots.   read

3:23 PM on 06.22.2014

E3 Predictions: The Results

With the dust settled I thought we’d take a look back at the E3 Predictions post to see who came out on top, and to just reflect on E3 in general. All in all I think it was a pretty good showing, something for everybody no matter what your tastes or platform of choice, I’ve heard some complain that it was a boring year, and while I agree in some respects, I think it’s important to note that an uneventful showing isn’t necessarily bad a one, E3 certainly wasn’t boring last year but that’s because it was a disaster for some. 

So here’s how we’re doing this, below you’ll find my original fifty questions, followed by a short blurb on how well I think they were answered and who was correct in their predictions, it’s...kind of  mess to look at but if you read the prediction post then you've read half of this already. Also some quick thoughts on the big three and their conferences for funsies, and the final score revealing who our champion is! 


I have to hand it to Microsoft for how they conducted this year’s conference, while I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say this has convinced them to pick up an Xbone, their approach of “Game-game-game-game” with little to no fluff in-between did a lot to show that they at least recognise what a joke they were last year. Also, is it me of does every racing game act like they’re the hottest shit when get a Nürburgring Track?

Microsoft has been embarrassing themselves on stage for the last few years, but this year they assure us it will be "all about the games" and less about the suits. Will they make good on this promise and focus on what core gamers want?

(For the most part, Microsoft certainly did come through with their promise that it would be all about the games this year)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Death, Reversed - resistance to change, unable to move on – NO – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Yes definitely" – YES – Correct 

With the recent announcement of Kinect being sold separately from Xbox One, will we finally be free of the flailing beast at this year's press conference?

(It’s dead, we can finally play pantless again!)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect 
Tarot: Moon, Upright - illusion, fear, anxiety – NO – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Concentrate and ask again" (I do so) "Yes" – YES – Correct 

Will they have celebrities or sport personalities on stage?

(I honestly have no idea who the hell those people were. They were either mid-tier developers or nobody-tier celebs. In any case, they weren’t on stage and they weren't the focus, so I’ll let it pass)

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Hanged Man, Upright - restriction, letting go, sacrifice – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Reply hazy try again" (I do so) "It is decidedly so" – YES – Incorrect 

Will there be extended talks about TV, sports, television, TV, Mountain Dew, and so on?

(A little, but nowhere near the extent we expected, somehow Sony talked more about TV than Microsoft)

Coin: Heads – YES - Incorrect
Tarot: Hermit, Upright - soul searching, introspection - NO (let's give them the benefit of the doubt) – Correct 
8-Ball: "Outlook not so good" considering the topic, that means – YES – Incorrect 

We know Halo 5 is coming, but what about other exclusives? Will we see the next Gears of War?

(We sure didn’t)

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Tower, Upright - disaster, upheaval – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Concentrate and ask again" (I do so, again) "It is certain" – YES – Incorrect 

What about Sunset Overdrive? Will we see that?

(We sure did)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect 
Tarot: Wheel of Fortune, Upright - good luck, karma – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "My reply is no" - NO – Incorrect

Will we see Quantum Break in either its game or TV incarnation?

(I believe we got brief glimpses of Quantum Break, but nothing significant enough to call this a yes)

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Tower, Reversed - avoidance of disaster - YES and it won't be terrible or - NO we won't see it at E3, but it will be terrible – Correct 
8-Ball: "It is certain" – YES – Incorrect 

Will there be any Titanfall related announcements?

(Not from Microsoft anyway)

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Fool, Reversed - naivety, recklessness - YES but it will be something dumb – Incorrect
8-Ball: "Concentrate and ask again" (I roll my eyes and do so) "Don't count on it" – NO – Correct 

Will Call of Duty continue its relationship with Microsoft with a new trailer or announcement of timed exclusive DLC?

(Buy an Xbox One for the chance to pay more money sooner!)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Star, Upright - hope, renewal, serenity – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Yes, definitely" – YES – Correct 

Last year's E3 was something of a disaster for Microsoft, but since then a lot of the controversial features of the Xbox One have been removed or scaled back. Do you think Microsoft has realized their mistakes and changed enough to have a strong showing this year?

(While few of the games grabbed me personally, and general opinions still seem to float somewhere around mistrust and disinterest, Microsoft have definitely realized their mistakes and had a decent showing)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Temperance, Reversed - imbalance, excess, lack of long-term vision – NO – Incorrect
8-Ball: "Yes definitely" – YES – Correct 


Me: 70 minutes into Sony’s conference.

Sony’s conference took place at 2am to 4am in my part of the world, and in my half asleep stupor I for some reason thought they brought the thunder in the first half, and promptly fell asleep for the second when business man and the Kingpin started talking, thankfully I was cognisant enough to catch the new Metal Gear and Uncharted trailers afterwards. 

Upon second viewing (to make sure Bloodborne wasn’t a dream) it certainly wasn’t the tour de force I thought it was, but still, while I need one more big push before I buy a next gen console, they had a lot to show off. I dare say if they had of cut out all the boring suit speak and kept the conference tighter they would have “won” between the E3 conferences handily.

Sony has a propensity of throwing rather dull charts, graphs, and sales numbers at our face during E3. Should we fear more of that this year?

(Christ yes, mister Clinton gestures put me to sleep, literally)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect
Tarot: Emperor, Reversed - domination, rigidity, inflexibility – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Yes" – YES – Correct 

With Jack Tretton's departure from Sony, will the replacement speaker be able to live up to the vast legacy of being mild and inoffensive enough to "win" E3 by default of not being terrible?

(Nope, with the other companies upping their game to “Not Terrible” it’ll take more than not being nails on a chalkboard to win now)

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Wheel of Fortune, Upright - good luck, life cycles - YES – Incorrect
8-Ball: "Better not tell you now" (getting real tired of your shit, 8-Ball) "Outlook not so good" – NO – Correct 

Last year we were reintroduced to Final Fantasy Versus 13, now branded as a full-on Final Fantasy entry. Will we see a release window, a trailer, or anything at all this year?

(We didn’t see jack shit, and I for one will no longer hold on to “they’re waiting for TGS” hopes, that’s game’s vapourware until I’m happily proven otherwise)

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Devil, Upright - bondage, addiction, sexuality, materialism - um... YES? – Incorrect
8-Ball: "As I see it, yes" - YES – Incorrect

Will we finally see the Last Guardian again? Is it still real? Was it ever real?

(After reassurance that The Last Gaurdian is definitely still a thing Sony preceded nothing once again) 

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Hierophant, Reversed - restriction, challenging the status quo - YES (assuming the status quo is that it's been missing for years) – Incorrect
8-Ball: "My sources say no" – NO – Correct 

After a lukewarm reception, will The Order: 1886 prove to be anything more than "just" another third person shooter?

(I’m not even sure it a third person shooter for all the good shooting did in that trailer, are we sure that wasn’t a cutscene? Either way, The Order sill has a lot to prove) 

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Empress, Reversed - creative block, dependence on others - NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Reply hazy, try again" (yet again, I do so) "Ask again later" - FUCK YOU, 8-BALL  – Incorrect because fuck you 8-Ball

How about the new Uncharted? Will we see that?

(I’m pretty sure Nathan Drake should have brain damage for the amount of times he's been knocked unconscious and woken up in strange places, that or he has a drinking problem)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Death, Upright - endings and beginnings, change, transformation - YES but it's a kart racer now – correct (we don’t know that it isn’t a kart racer)
8-Ball: "As I see it, yes" – YES – Correct 

Will they show support for the Vita, or will it forever remain the stretch goal that Kickstarters stop before reaching?

(The closest thing to support was the announcement of the Playstation TV, which is essentially a Vita for people who don’t want to shell out for a Vita, not exactly what I’d call a stellar endorsement) 

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Star, Reversed - lack of faith, discouragement – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Concentrate and ask again" (this fuckin' guy) "Yes definitely" – YES – Incorrect

Will Sony keep trying to make the phrase "PlayStation Nation" happen?

(I didn’t hear the phrase, but as mentioned I was half asleep) 

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Tower, Upright - disaster, upheaval - YES – Incorrect
8-Ball: "You may rely on it" - YES – Incorrect

Will they be focusing on Morpheus, Sony's new VR technology?

(While it had a presence, Sony smartly avoided focusing too much on something we can’t get hype about from our couches at home)

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Judgement, Reversed - self doubt, refusal of self examination – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Better not tell you now" (the coin never gives answers like this) "Most likely" - YES – Incorrect

The big one for many people: will Project Beast be revealed at Sony's conference?

(Bloodborne is here and life is worth living again!)

Coin: Tails - NO – Incorrect
Tarot: Justice, Upright - fairness, truth, er... justice – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Most likely" – YES – Correct 


Nintendo is tough to talk about this year, while I think they certainly had the best overall E3, I personally believe they had the weakest conference. Only 45 minutes and most of what was discussed were already known quantities, don’t get me wrong, Nintendo had a lot to show at E3, but for some bizarre reason they chose not to show it when they had the entire world’s rapt attention. Every time I bring this up someone corrects me with “they didn’t have enough time”, I’m sorry but are you insane? It was pre-recorded! And half as long as the other conferences! And they spent twenty minutes in a goddamn aquarium and wool shop! TIME was not a factor! 

And Splatoon is not as big a deal as you think it is! It looks like a fun little game, but you know if it was on PlayStation or Xbox people wouldn’t be hyping it up like they are now. It’s completely immature of me, but something about Nintendo fan’s tendency to cling on and make a huge deal out of something small really gets my goat. Dynasty Warriors is a joke, but reskin it with Zelda characters and suddenly it’s amazing! ARGLE BARGLE RANTRANTRANT! 

Nintendo definitely won E3 this year, but not for the reasons Nintendo fans will tell you. (God, I am a man-child)

As people have no doubt been asking for years now, will Nintendo announce a new entry in one of their beloved B-tier franchises such as F-Zero, Star Fox, or Metroid?

(What we got were some blurry background shots of a new Star Fox, as far as Nintendo fans are concerned the second coming of Christ was confirmed)

Coin: Tails - NO – Incorrect
Tarot: Strength, Reversed - weakness, self-doubt - NO – Incorrect
8-Ball: "It is decidedly so" – YES – Correct 

Will we see Monolith Soft's "X" this year?

(We sure did, and it looks sweeeeet)

Coin: Tails - NO – Incorrect
8-Ball: "Outlook Good" – YES – correct 

How about Smash Bros? Will we get any new character reveals?

(Palutena and Pac-Man enter the fight! This is what happens when you don’t create any new characters after 1986)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Emperor, Upright - authority, structure, solid – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Cannot predict now" (I shake the ball a little more than necessary) "Cannot predict now" (I shake the ball violently) "Don't count on it" - NO – Incorrect

What about Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem? Will we get any new information on that?

(We didn’t get shit! How long must I wait for my Demi-Fiend X Chrom fanfic to become a reality?)

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Hierophant, Reversed - restriction – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Yes, definitely" - YES – Incorrect

Last October, word was mentioned that a Wii U Zelda game may be on the way. (Possibly just a prelude to Hyrule Warriors.) Could there be a new, proper, Zelda coming our way?

(We got our new Zelda...sort of. I personally consider the announcement underwhelming, just a picture of a field and some discussion of vague concepts, we don’t even have a name yet, you’re kidding yourself if you think this is coming out before 2016. That said, I’m just not personally invested in Zelda games and have never enjoyed their structure, I know fans who freaked out at what was shown) 

Coin: Tails - NO – Incorrect
Tarot: Hermit, Reversed - withdrawal, isolation - NO – Incorrect
8-Ball: "You can count on it" – YES – Correct 

The 3DS has been doing excellent but there doesn't seem to be much on the horizon. Will there be any new announcements?

(I gueeeess, nothing aside from Code Name: S.T.E.A.M, things are looking lean for the little portable that could)

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct 
Tarot: Star, Upright - hope, renewal, inspiration – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" - NO – Incorrect

Is it possible Nintendo will make a bold move and just announce a new console altogether?


Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: The World, Reversed - lack of completion, lack of closure - (possibly referring to the Wii U) YES – Incorrect
8-Ball: "Outlook not so good" – NO – Correct 

There will be an open-to-the-public Smash Bros event taking place across America during E3. Does this mean gaming websites are seriously going to have to dispatch people to Best Buy for hands-on previews?

(Not that I’ve heard of, though I’d consider it hard hitting journalism considering what some sites have been up to this year)

Coin: Tails - NO – Correct 
Tarot: Chariot, Revesed - lack of control - NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" – NO – Correct 


Third-party showings were sort of weak this year. EA promised six new games and literally had nothing to show, they tried to cover it up by pretending they were giving us a “sneak peek” behind the scenes, but it was sadly obvious that they had nothing beyond concept art. It’s becoming clear that Ubisoft’s breakneck turnarounds are starting to affect development, as every game shown touted the same big feature: co-op “seamlessly” integrated into singleplayer, Aisha Tyler however, is still the best host by miles. 

Overall, E3 2015 is going to be weird as we’ll be seeing most of these games again. 

Ubisoft made waves the last few years by springing last minute surprises on us at the end of their conferences, will they do it again this year?

(They sure did)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect 
Tarot: Priestess, Upright - intuition, mystery, subconscious - YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Yes definitely" – YES – Correct 

Will said surprise announcement be way too early and end up getting pushed back two years?

(It sure will)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect 
Tarot: Hermit, Upright - introspection, inner guidance - YES (I'm interpreting this as Ubi looking inside and realizing "Oh shit, we announced this way too soon again") – Correct 
8-Ball: "Most likely" – YES – Incorrect 

Will there be a new MGS5 trailer?

(Kidnap some goats and rub a dead guy on your face, can't wait!)

Coin: Heads - YES – Correct 
Tarot: Magician, Upright - skill, action - YES – Correct
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" – NO – Incorrect 

Will we finally get a real look at Persona 5? (Note: Chad asked this question on my behalf to a peccary in 2010. That peccary was a filthy liar.)

(Coin, Tarot and 8-Ball are all on my shitlist next to that peccary) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Lovers, Upright - love, union, relationships – YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Reply hazy try again" (I need this, 8-Ball) "YES" – YES- Incorrect 

Do you think by any chance there is perhaps maybe a small possibility that Call of Duty might conceivably have a presence at E3?

(It was a long shot but wow, can you believe it Call of Duty was there?) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Correct
Tarot: Death, Upright - change, endings and beginnings - NO? (though it may refer to a change within CoD, not our exposure to it) – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Outlook not so good" – NO – Incorrect

Is the new Mass Effect to be revealed this year?

(I do not consider that...concept work to be anything close to a reveal)

Coin: Tails - NO – Correct
Tarot: Magician, Reversed - poor planning, latent talents - NO (it's coming along, but not ready for E3 -- perhaps just a vague teaser) – Correct (cannot believe how correct that was)
8-Ball: "As I see it, yes" – YES – Incorrect 

Will Mountain Dew and/or Doritos have an embarrassingly large presence this year?

(Dewritos Pope was lurking around E3 but I didn’t see anything that would constitute an embarrassing presence) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Temperance, Reversed - imbalance, excess – YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Signs point to yes" – YES – Incorrect 

Will we finally get a look at the next Fallout game?


Coin: Tails - NO – Correct
Tarot: Judgement, Upright - judgement, rebirth, inner calling – YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "You may rely on it" – YES – Incorrect 

Will Shenmue 3 be announced or do I have to keep sacrificing these goats?

(Running out of goats here)

Coin: Heads - YES – Incorrect
Tarot: Emperor, Reversed - rigidity, inflexibility - NO – Correct
8-Ball: "Ask again later" (sure thing, we've only been waiting THIRTEEN YEARS for this!) "Outlook Good" – YES – Incorrect 

Does Ubisoft seriously have the balls to announce two mainline Assassin's Creed games at the same time?

(They aren’t that bad...yet)

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Moon, Upright - illusion, fear, insecurity - sounds like a YES to me - Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Don't count on it" - NO – Correct

We all know the answer already but, as is tradition: will a Final Fantasy VII remake be announced?

(No, but we got G-Bike! Getting closer!! Any day now!!!) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Death, Reversed - resistance to change, unable to move on (starting to feel like this card is referring to me asking the question rather than answering it) – YES ANYWAY(#GoldenSaucer4Life) – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" - NO – Correct

Will Beyond Good and Evil 2 be announced?

(FF7 remake has a better chance)

Coin: Tails - NO – Correct
Tarot: Priestess, Reversed - hidden agendas, refusal to listen to oneself - NO – Correct
8-Ball: "Outlook good" – YES – Incorrect 

Will Platinum Games announce another revolutionary genre-defining masterpiece that will get overlooked by the gaming press once again?

(Much as I love Platinum, I have reservations about Scalebound that I may write about some other time, but for now, with Bayonetta 2 also in the pipeline, let’s just say yes)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect 
Tarot: Devil, Reversed - breaking free, power reclaimed – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Ask again later" (goddamn prima donna 8-Ball) "It is certain" – YES – Correct 

Will David Cage be present and will he say "h'emotion" more than three times?

(David Cage was busy filming more uncomfortably long shower scenes this year)

Coin: Tails – NO – Correct 
Tarot: Empress, Reversed - creative block, dependence on others - (sounds like David Cage to me) YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "You may rely on it" – YES – Incorrect 

EA just announced that they would have six new games to show off at E3. Will even one of them be a new IP?

(EA didn’t have ANY new games, yet alone new IP, they even didn’t have two wireframe models to rub together) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Hanged Man, Upright - suspension, restriction – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Signs point to yes" – YES – Incorrect 

Will Half-Life 3 be revealed, followed by world peace, genetically modified flying pigs, and free milkshakes?

(haha, no)

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Temperance, Reversed - imbalance, lack of long term vision (seriously?) – NO – Correct 
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" - NO – Correct

Rumours abound of Resident Evil 7, but I think what we'd all really like to know is if the critically acclaimed industry darling Dino Crisis is finally getting the attention it deserves?

(Still no Dino Crisis, maybe Capcom will listen to me if I act like a shrill baby and harass their employees) 

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Chariot, Reversed - lack of control, aggression - NO – Correct
8-Ball: "Better not tell you now" (I will drain out your blue dye and drink it in front of you one day) "It is decidedly so" – YES – Incorrect 

Is it true that Project Beast is actually an elaborate red herring to distract us from From Software's true reveal: Metal Wolf Chaos 2?

(We’ll have to settle for Bloodborne)

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: Sun, Reversed - temporary depression, lack of success - NO – Correct
8-Ball: "Most likely" – YES – Incorrect 

Will Capcom announce a new Mega Ma-ahahahaha, ahhh, sorry sorry *ahem*. Will Capcom announce a new Mega Man? *snicker*

(Mega Man disappointment sustains my lifeforce)

Coin: Tails - NO – Correct
Tarot: Wheel of Fortune, Upright - Good luck, destiny, turning point – YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "It is certain" – YES – Incorrect 

They've been stringing us along for ages -- after months of teasers and subtle hints could we be on the verge of finally getting our first look at Tractor Simulator 2015?

(Actually...yes. I have no idea how to react when my joke questions come true)

Coin: Tails - NO – Incorrect
Tarot: Lovers, Upright - love, union – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: "Very doubtful" - NO – Incorrect

Will Capcom announce Devil May Cry 5 followed by one whole minute of deep apology bowing?

(They’ll come around...)

Coin: Heads – YES – Incorrect 
Tarot: The Fool, Upright - beginnings, innocence, spontaneity – YES – Incorrect 
8-Ball: "Don't count on it" - NO – Correct


Will Kotaku try their damndest to make a sexism controversy out of something? 

(Holy shit did they ever, wish I had mentioned Polygon in the question too, as far as I’m concerned they’re the same thing now.)

Coin: Tails – NO – Incorrect  
Tarot: Moon, Upright - illusion, fear, insecurity (that’s our Kotaku) – YES – Correct 
8-Ball: “Without a doubt” – YES – Correct 

AND THE WINNER IS................

Coin – 19
Tarot – 29
8-Ball – 22

Tarot Cards! JoJo! Persona! Other things that use tarot motifs! Psychics too I suppose! Yaaaaaaay!   read

9:10 AM on 01.27.2014

Is Toad Middle Eastern?

First, we discovered that the clouds and bushes in Super Mario Bros. were using the same sprite. 

Later, mankind theorised that the entirety of Super Mario Bros 3. was actually a stage play.

And now, I have unearthed the next “it was there all along” revelation of the Mario universe; Toad is Middle Eastern. Sort of, I mean, he’s not from the actual Middle East or Arab or anything, he’s a mushroom, but just roll with me here. 

Reason #1 – Look at Him

I feel like either I’m the only person in the world who sees this or everybody else in the world is aware of it and just never mentions it; but Toad’s design is heavily based on Arabic culture. When I was little I always wondered why Toad wore the same outfit as Disney’s Aladdin, but looking at it now I see that Toad is completely decked out in Arabic garb, not only is he wearing an Arabian vest and harem trousers (actually what they’re called), but the real cinchier was when I realised that his mushroom cap is supposed to be evocative of a turban. 

Reason # 2 – World 2 is Always a Desert. 

To date, the second worlds in Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World have all been desert themed. Assuming that Mario takes the shortest route possible to Bowers domain this indicates that the Mushroom Kingdom encapsulates or borders vast expanses of desert land, given how early in the game you visit I’m betting it’s the former, this means that the Mushroom Kingdom must integrate and share much of the land’s culture and people. 

Reason # 3 – Mushroom Royalty 

These fine gentlemen are the Mushroom Kings, appearing in Super Mario Bros. 3 as the lords presiding over the Mushroom Kingdom. You may notice than they all have dark complexions and several of them dress in style reminiscent of Middle Eastern nobility, except for the Viking, potato? Let’s just assume they rule over the vassal states. Were that not to convince you enough have a look at this fellow...

That is the Mushroom King, the Mushroom King, as in Peach’s father. Appearing occasionally in the comics as a bumbling fool, this is the closest we've gotten to any sort of official word on big daddy mushroom himself, and as you may notice, he’s a goddamn sultan! In fact, it’s becoming more and more evident that Peach and Daisy are the odd ones out when it comes to the Mushroom aristocracy.

Reason #4 – Doki Doki Panic

Doki Doki Panic was the basis for what we in the west knew as Super Mario Bros. 2, what was originally an Arabian Nights themed platformer was reskinned to become a Mario game, and since Mario games were already surrealist nonsense very few changes needed to be made beyond inserting familiar characters. Toad replaced Papa, a squat man wearing an Arabian vest, harem trousers (again, actually what they’re called) and a turban, sound familiar? I’m not saying Toad is a rip-off, he was created first, more likely is that they wear similar clothes because vests were an easy way to distinguish the arms of a character, much like Mario’s overalls. The point is, Toad already looked exactly like his Middle Eastern counterpart, and the fact that Nintendo haphazardly smashed an Arabian Nights themed game into the Mario world doesn’t exactly hurt my case. 

Reason #5 – Nobody Cosplays Toad because it Looks Racist. 

It becomes shockingly obvious when you stretch Toad out to human proportions that this character is Middle Eastern. Anybody cosplaying as Toad is put in the unfortunate position of being mistaken for a genie by anyone outside the gaming community. 

Reasons #6 #7 #8 – So Many Other Things!

Am I the only one seeing this!? What about the Dryites from Paper Mario? What about the pyramids that appear in so many levels? Are Shy Guys supposed to be female Toads in burkas!? Okay, no, that one was stupid, but you can’t deny the irrefutable evidence that Toad, and evidently, much of the Mushroom Kingdom, are thematically and allegorically Arabic.   read

4:28 PM on 12.30.2013

2013 in Gaming: Better/Worse than Ever

What a year, eh? Another triumphant year for current gen consoles, the introduction of the next generation, the higher standards of AAA experiences and the greater exposure and availability of indie games. Yep, it’s a pretty great time to be involved in gaming.....

But fuck that, let’s complain and think up stupid categories for stuff I want to talk about. 

Fork-Tongued Merchant of Lies Award – Randy Pitchford

Gearbox were on a roll, the terrible-but-totally-not-their-fault-they-swear Duke Nukem had become little more than a bad memory, and they were basking in the afterglow of Borderlands 2’s critical reception, Gearbox had finally rid themselves of the stigma of releasing awful, broken games and were on the road to recovery. Then Aliens: Colonial Marines happened. Now, when most developers and publishers don’t have confidence in a game there’s a few steps they take to minimise damage, they don’t send review code to game websites, they cleverly edit trailers so as not to show gameplay for more that second-long flashes at a time, and basically release the game quietly and hope for the best. No hype means no backlash. 

But Gearbox took things in a different direction, deciding to instead embargo the review code till the game was released, falsifying trailers to the point of being unrecognisable, and going into a complete media shutdown, only breaking the silence to acknowledge the rare flicker of praise the game got. The only indication of the game’s quality we had was an unusual talk Randy gave at DICE a week before release in which he was adamant we recognise that other studios worked on the game. All this was bad enough before the accusations of embezzlement, the lawsuits, the finger pointing and that time he spent $25000 for a magician’s ponytail. But at least we know their true colours now, never again will they sink their teeth into one of our beloved...JESUS CHRIST TELLTALE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? RUN!! GET AWAY FROM HIM!

Runner Up – Peter Molyneux.

What was inside The Cube? A publicity stunt....damn it, Molyneux. 

Post-Trilogy Prequel in a Massive Franchise You Already Forgot About Award – Gears of War: Judgement

Gears of War was a big deal. Where Resident Evil conceived the over the shoulder shooter Gears popularised it, for better or worse, Gears of War played a part in shaping the current generation. You’d think the fourth entry would have done better. The prequel starring Baird, because apparently when your choice is between the fan favourite and a guy created to justify four player co-op the black guy still can’t be the lead, was released to average critical acclaim and poor commercial success. Could this be a sign that we’re finally tired of freakishly muscular men shooting aliens in the face? Or are we just tired of these particular freakishly muscular men shooting aliens in the face? Only time will tell. 

Runner Up – God of War: Ascension

Maybe we’re just sick of the Gs of War. 

Evil Genius Award for Achievements in the Field of Bastardry – Don Mattrick

The Xbox One reveal was a trainwreck, between the invasive concepts and attempts to control what we did with our games to the mixed messages and Don Mattrick’s displays of outright contempt for the core audience, it was almost as though he wanted the Xbox One to crash and burn. Not long after the PR disaster that was our introduction to the Xbone Mattrick left Microsoft for Zynga, it seemed he screwed up so bad he was fired...........OR WAS HE??? You don’t just clear up your desk and become CEO of the world’s leading casual game provider, Don knew where he was going well before E3, at best he was completely checked out at that point and didn’t care about the Xbox One, at worst, remember that Zynga is the company that constantly espoused the coming revolution of social gaming and the death of consoles. Don Mattrick wasn’t just jumping ship, he was cutting loose the lifeboats and poking holes in the hull first.

Runner Up – Randy Pitchford

Did I mention the whole Aliens thing?

Oddly Specific Genre Award – Aging Father Figure Travels Through a Hostile World With Young Woman

The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and The Walking Dead are games about ageing men in a world gone to shit as they travel with and protect young women that circumstance has placed in their care, perhaps over time the women will begin to take care of themselves and toughen up as they come to terms with harsh realities of this world, perhaps the men will open up and let themselves care again, perhaps game journalists will call it “emotional” because our lexicon is severely limited and we have such low standards that making us feel any emotion at all is considered an achievement in this medium. Snark aside, it is promising that three games can be so similar yet offer different experiences, and all three can reach varying levels of success. Both game developers and players are reaching their 30’s and 40’s and many are now parents themselves, and it’s wonderful to see this shift reflected in gaming. 

Seriously though, stop it, we’re playing to get away from the damn kids. 

Runner up – Incredibly Boring Thing Simulators

They’ve always been around, but 2013 was the year the gaming community at large became aware of the incredibly boring thing simulators. Have you ever dreamt of delivering a crate of tomatoes from Southampton to Amsterdam? Of course you haven’t what’s wrong with you? But somehow there enough people out there to make truck, train, and airport simulators not just successful, but flourishing yearly franchises. We give Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty a lot of shit, but how different do you imagine Tractor Simulator 2014 will be from Tractor Simulator 2013. What amazing advancements have been made in the world of tractor simulation since then?

Controversy That Missed the Point Award – Bros Before Hos

I’m not going to defend it, the God of War games are pretty vile in my opinion, they’re brutal, cruel, and borderline embarrassing for the industry. But for some people, a trophy called “Bros Before Hos” crossed the line. Half the women go around with their breasts out, every game involves having QTE sex with a random women for XP, this isn’t even the first game in the series built around viciously killing a trio of sisters, in the third one you have to kidnap a consort and mutilate her in some gears to hold a door open, and in the finale of Ascension you literally stab the final boss in the tits. But no, all that was fine, the real point of contention was a bros before hos joke that Adam Sessler misinterpreted. 

Runner Up – Like, 90% of the Other Controversies

Least Amount of Fucks Given – Hideki Kamiya

Hideki Kamiya wouldn’t give a shit if he had diarrhea at a scat convention. 

Schoolyard Slapfight of the Year – Marcus Beer vs Phil Fish.  

In what started as a (for once) completely uncalled for outburst on Phil Fish escalated into full on name calling and nonsensical “say that to my face over the internet” exchanges, things came to a head when Fish cancelled FEZ 2 and took his ball home while Beer’s mother called him in for dinner. Cliff Bleszinski, comically unaware of his position as King Dick of Dude-Bro Mountain, pleaded for Fish to return to the industry, but it fell on deaf ears. At the time of writing Fish remains secluded in his pillow fort and Beer was reprimanded by his superiors with no dessert for a week.   read

10:46 AM on 12.10.2013

Carry Over Saves Are a Near Impossible Dream.

Can The Walking Dead deliver on its promise of past decisions affecting Season Two?

Carry over saves were a revolutionary idea, the concept that decisions you made could have repercussions that went beyond just later on in the game, but could carry over into the next game altogether put a whole new spin on things. Your decisions went beyond the immediate conflict, was it wise to anger or kill a certain character or faction you don’t like? They might not appreciate that next time you run into each other. Or better yet, sticking by your convictions, even making the wrong call and having it come back to bite you years later in the next game can be immensely satisfying, it makes it matter, that your influence changed more than just the next line of dialogue. Truly, carry over saves left their mark on the face of the industry.

Weird, considering only one game series has actually tried it. 

With Season 2 of The Walking Dead looming over us this Christmas like an Anti-Santa with a sack full of harsh realities, and with it the promise of carrying over our decisions, I’ve decided to explore why this feature isn’t used more often. It can be devastatingly effective, it built Bioware one of the most invested (and rabid) fanbases in gaming, I might even go as far to say it’s something that can take game narrative to the next level. So why is it so ridiculously underused? Well, for starters...

It’s a logistical nightmare.

Having a decision leave big consequences in a game is hard enough, having it leave big consequences in the next game, yet alone a trilogy, is almost ludicrous. You need to create a tree of branching events that will matter to the player while not interfering too much with the main plot, and since games like this are very involved and responsive to fan feedback, that’s like putting together a puzzle before half the pieces have been made yet.

Fan-made chart depicting the various outcomes of the suicide mission. 

Take the decision to cure the genophage for example, factors in those events stretch across the entire trilogy, whether or not you killed Wrex, saving or deleting Maelon’s data, if Mordin survived the suicide mission, when and if you choose to reveal the sabotage, all these things change the characters involved, their interactions, and the context of the decisions you make. In one save I decided to do right by the Krogan and cure the genophage, in another with Wrex and Eve dead I decided it was in the galaxy’s best interest to sabotage it. 

Now consider that in addition to all those variables they also have to consider which team members are with you, their dialogue, all the incidental dialogue in the game world stemming from your decision, ensuring there are no continuity errors in each version of events, double the voice work for a Shepard of either gender, no, quadruple it because there’s at least two sets of dialogue depending on paragon or renegade speech options, and double the dialogue of everyone who speaks to Shepard to react to either of those speech options. That’s a lot of work, a lot of assets, a lot of money, and a lot of headaches. One wonders if it’s all worth it considering the other big caveat with carry over saves....

They only serve to shrink your audience.

Every publisher wants to sell as many copies as possible, they want to reach out to new players and get them interested in their product, that’s kind of hard to do when playing the last game is a requirement for your biggest selling point. It might be a good way to keep recurring customers, but assuming you got your new IP off the ground with the first game that’s not really your biggest problem. That’s why Mass Effect 3 had to introduce so many new elements, and why so many old elements couldn’t play a role too crucial to the plot.

Hey kids! Wanna play Mass Effect 3? All you have to do is find and buy a six year old game and its sequel and in about eighty hours you’re ready to go!

That’s why the Mass Effect 3 marketing was based around “Take back Earth” – it’s the only thing in the Mass Effect universe new players could relate to, that’s why Shepard is haunted by the Starchild – new players needed a face to represent what’s at stake, that’s why they included the everyman James Vega – to have someone as new to the world as they are, that’s why Felicia Day had to....actually no, there’s no excuse for that one. Mass Effect’s biggest strength, a consistent world and characters shaped by your choices, became its biggest weakness, all of it could alienate new players. Compromises have to be made.

It’s easy to forget, but nobody has attempted anything that ambitious before or since, the most we’ve gotten out of previous saves is a line or two of dialogue, maybe a cameo, if you’re lucky you might get some early XP or unlockables. Will The Walking Dead become the next game to carry on decisions in a meaningful way? Maybe, The Walking Dead works on a much smaller scale than Mass Effect, allowing it more freedom, but as evidenced by the different outcomes from episode to episode and 400 Days, it seems The Walking Dead is still beholden to the same limitations. Both also have a different approach, with The Walking Dead working more with the illusion of choice, rather than actually changing the outcome of most events.

Goddammit, Kenny.

Of course, just because carry over saves are such an undertaking doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried, look at what just attempting it has done for these games. Even getting us part way there has elevated them to new levels of critical acclaim and success. I do hope more developers venture into this relatively unexplored area of gaming, carry over saves might be a near impossible dream, but the rewards are there for those who rise to the challenge.   read

10:12 AM on 05.02.2013

Fanart Flops: Sonic walks with Christ, do you? (NSFW)

Welcome to Fanart Flops, the blog that insists fanart is one word no matter what spell check says. For those not in the know Fanart Flops is a collection of the oddest and most confusing videogame fanart by otherwise talented artists. The baffling, the bizarre, or just the out of context, all are gathered here for your enjoyment/horror. While I do try to avoid the more “raunchy” art out there nothing should be considered safe for work, and I will occasionally bend the rules if I think it’s worth the laugh (especially the last one here). 

We’ve got some real gems this time, you are not prepared for some of this stuff, I could literally explain that one of the pictures involves Garrus tied to a table being tickled with an electric whisk by the grandmother from Everybody Loves Raymond and you still wouldn’t be prepared for that image....and then there’s Scrooge....

Welcome back everybody!

I don’t think this is particularly bad, I just include it because it addresses Sonic’s weird double eyeball thing that I’ve brought up here before. 

Praise the sun, Banana Knight is here!

While this is clearly terrifying I’m really just using it as an excuse to bring up this piece....

So religious Sonic fanart is something I keep coming across that I can’t wrap my head around at all, can someone explain this? Did some church hold a competition or something? 

And a crucified Yoshi for good measure. 

Lion King fanart for inappropriate games is a whole other can of worms I may open someday.

Okay, I actually quite like this one.

Foxhound yoga, sure, why not?

Squidgirl snake, okay, whatever.’ve lost me now.

Is it wrong that the thing I find most disturbing here is Sonic with his gloves off?

This is by far the best thing you will see today.

You clicked on Fanart Flops, you knew the risks.

“Assassin’s Steed!” – me while uploading this three days after first seeing it.

Pretty sure earth food would kill Garrus and that is definitely the thing to focus on here.

[Insert comment about Capcom shitting on MegaMan here]

You may recall a collection of Sly Cooper fanart on the front page not being received very well.

Stay off my turf. 

What little I recall of Gex involved him being a media obsessed shut in but I’m not familiar with the Gex cannon post Enter the Gekko. 

Yup, sexy Abe.

You guys in the LGBT community think you have it bad? Bioware doesn’t even consider ferret enthusiasts!

But I bet you didn’t even think of that.

Did ya?

Check your gay privilege, ferrets aren’t even an afterthought.

They demand equality.

I think we’re about tapped out for today, please remember to check with your consultant if your eyes burn for more than two hours. And I’ll leave you with this wonderful piece celebrating the return of Ducktales. 


1:18 PM on 02.19.2013

7 Demos better than their own game.


There’s been a lot of talk of demos lately since it was suggested at DICE that demos hurt more than they help in terms of sales, to which we all responded smugly and said “Ha, only the rubbish games”. Well no, not exactly. The problem isn’t about us “finding out” that a game is bad, the problem is that the demo itself can often be a poor representation of the game. Being dropped into a random slice of the game with no context is jarring, there’s no build-up to what’s going on, it’s over by the time you get used to the mechanics, the bigger the game is the more story is left out for fear of spoilers, and it usually cuts off before you have a chance to really get into it and really see what the game is all about.

I hated the demo for Dragon’s Dogma, I thought it was clunky and slow. But after word of mouth spread I gave the game a chance and really enjoyed it. The demo for Ni No Kuni has completely soured me on buying the game, I keep hearing good things, but that segment they chose to represent their game was a bad decision. A game that’s a slow burn like Limbo may only come across as boring to many with just the small chunk they gave us.

But that’s not why we’re here, okay maybe it is a little, I do kind of want to prove my point, but mostly I’m here to have fun and maybe even save you a little money. The following are the exact opposite of what I’ve talked about above, these are bad games with good demos, or at least games that probably aren’t worth your money, not when they offer the best they have to offer for free anyway.

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men.

You may remember Kane and Lynch as the game that got Jeff Gerstmann fired, though some still speculate that it was just so bad it made him quit. But this game has worse offences under its belt, like a sweet talking demo that cons good people out of their hard earned money. You see, Kane and Lynch’s demo takes place exactly at the high point of the game, it’s still not particularly great, but it is the high point of this game. Disguised as window cleaners you’ll abseil down the side of a Tokyo skyrise and attack a bunch a Japanese businessmen for...some reason. Followed by an intense shootout through the luxurious (for a 2007 game) interior, and eventually spilling out into the streets while surrounded by panicking civilians desperately trying to escape the building.

The problem is that immediately after the demo ends is where the game introduces it’s “twist” and decides it wants to be a military shooter. Thus becoming a poorly conceived spiritual sequel to Freedom Fighters but with nigh invincible helicopter boss fights and more angry balding men.

Also at one point you fight a dump truck. Seriously, don’t buy this game.

The Club.

If you were to combine elements of racing games, arcade shooters, and a Tony Hawk style point scoring system you would have a beautiful game. If you hit that game with a van you would have The Club. The greatest complement The Club ever received is that it would have been a great game “on the PS2”. Really its only true fault is that I came out in the wrong generation, a few years earlier and it may have been a classic. The problem is that it was the last true “pass the controller” multiplayer game and it came out at a time when everybody was enamoured with online multiplayer.

As it stands, the demo will give you all you could want from that bygone era. DAMN THIS PLASTIC FUTURE!

Just Cause 2.

You have half an hour. Here’s a big slice of the map. Go nuts.

That is the premise behind the Just Cause 2 demo and it really is great. You’ll skydive, parachute, play around with the grapple hook, surf on a plane, and shoot red things till they explode. Thing is, that’s all there is to do in the main game, shoot the red things till they explode. That’s not to say Just Cause 2 is a bad game, but you will squeeze more fun into that half hour than you’ll get out of twenty hours with the real thing. You’ll experiment with the grapple hook before you figure out that it’s not as versatile as you thought, you’ll tie people to various moving objects before you notice that cords disappear after ten seconds and you can only tie one thing at a time, you’ll shoot all of the red things till they explode before you realise that it’s literally the only thing you do in the game.

With Just Cause 2 ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s free!

Resident Evil 5.

Again, another game that isn’t exactly bad, but it does slightly betray your expectations. The demo is about scrambling for survival in a shantytown gone mad, and it really is a tense experience, even with the lady who heals you and helps shoot the monsters. But the demo is set before Resident Evil decided to jump the shark like a zombie on a dirtbike, soon you’ll be facing zombies with machine guns, blonde Neo, assaulting a rock, minigunning the aforementioned Motocross zombies, and shooting building sized tentacle monsters with space lasers.

Still, in retrospect it’s not so bad compared to 6.

Time Shift.

Okay, I didn’t play Time Shift, you didn’t play Time Shift, most of you probably don’t even remember what Time Shift is. But I think it’s safe to say that the novelty of slowing down time in the rain was about the apex of the experience.

Sonic Unleashed.

The Sonic Unleashed demo is set in that beautiful segment of the Sonic Cycle before we hear about the gimmick that ‘s going to ruin the game, like a happy family portrait taken before anyone knew Uncle Nick was a sex offender. You can see the beginnings of SEGA finally figuring out what to do with Sonic in a 3D world. Of course they had to screw it somehow and decided to make 70% of the game a poorly executed God of War clone starring a cross between a furry and Stretch Armstrong. But man, when you’re running around (at the speed of sound) you can almost trick yourself into believing they actually got it right for a while there, sort of, kinda.


What you think you’re getting

Remember the original gritty SSX trailer? Well, make no mistake, that is the game you are getting when you buy SXX, they carried out as much damage control as they could, and lacquered the game in a slightly brighter tone, but it’s clear the foundation was already laid. The demo takes place in a bright and colourful stage (one of about three in the whole game) and provides plenty of opportunities for all sorts of tricks and excitement set to some of that young people’s music I keep hearing about. The full game is a different story...

Most of the game takes place on severe and harsh courses, it’s very clear the game was built on their original mantra of “survive the mountain”, you’ll fall off so many ledges and into so many bottomless pits that they had to add a Prince of Persia time rewinding mechanic. Then there’s the Deadly Descents, where the game throws arbitrary obstacles in your way, trees, rocks, white out, pitch darkness, blacking out the screen from lack of oxygen, the game does everything it can to get in the way of you having fun.

What you're actually getting

Should you enjoy the soundtrack, well that’s too bad, because if you want to accomplish anything in the game you need to keep your Tricky Bar built up, and when your Tricky bar is built up the only song you’ll hear is a dubstep remix of “Tricky” as a spectral Rev. Run chases you down the mountain screeching “yyyyyyyeeeeeeeEEEAAAAAHHHHHHhhhh”, it is terrifying and I’m pretty sure if you could turn the camera around you’d see his face chasing you in an avalanche like The Mummy.

Add on top a story full of pretentious vignettes filled with empty statements like ”I do this because I can. I don’t feel alive unless I push myself to the limit”. And a plot about a team of nine people jetting around the globe just to spite one guy, who by the way, accomplishes everything the team does, first, singlehandedly. Meanwhile Team SSX constantly talk behind his back and split the work between nine people, after a while it starts to feel like you’re playing the world’s first extreme sports bullying simulator.

It’s play the demo.   read

10:04 AM on 02.03.2013

Sex: No. No no no no no no nonononononono. NO.

If you can’t do sex right, don’t do it at all. That’s why I don’t do sex, and that’s why developers shouldn’t either.

I’m no prude, sex is a natural part of life and an unavoidable storytelling device, the thing is I don’t think gaming can handle it well, I don’t think that’s going to change in the foreseeable future, and I don’t really think that’s a problem either. Are sex scenes ever necessary in a game? Can you name one game, just one game, that has done a full on sex scene well, one game where it makes sense in context, adds something meaningful thematically or storywise and is handled tastefully? I can’t.

Heavy Rain was so desperate to seem grown up that it shoved in an unnecessary sex scene while the main character’s son was still in immediate danger. God of War’s Kratos is a on an unstoppable rampage of vengeance fuelled by pure hatred and rage, except when he breaks character to have sex, sex we have to QTE our way through in exchange for red orbs. I’ve only seen one game with sex scenes that are there to actually convey something to the player, The Ballad of Gay Tony, and the only thing those gratuitous scenes are there to say is “Luis definitely isn’t gay, guys” because Rockstar knew GTA’s core audience wouldn’t take kindly to that.

Even with Hot Coffee you at least bought them dinner...

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sex should never be addressed, alluded to or implied in a game, I’m just saying there’s nothing to be gained from showing it. The fact that the two characters are going through with the act says all that needs to be said, all you have to do is make sure the player knows what’s happening and fade to black. Developers,fading to black is your best friend when it comes to this sort of thing. Plenty of games include sex without needing to show it, the Persona games only need imply what’s going on, Mass Effect can’t seem to make its mind up but generally fades away before things get too steamy, Catherine – the sexy-sexy sex game about sexy sex – doesn’t have a single sex scene in it. Even Fallout’s encounter with Fisto the sexbot is handled with more tact that Far Cry 3.

Besides, few things are more immersion breaking than seeing uncanny valley faces affect a look of “ecstasy”, and I don’t think using L.A. Noire’s expression capturing technology to replicate the perfect O-face is going to be any less disturbing. Not to mention that games are so bombastic and full of grandiose these days that a sex scene isn’t much more than a drop in the bucket. You want to show that two characters care for each other? You need to show some subtlety, have them sit on a couch and order pizza, a kiss on the forehead can say more than a romp in the bedroom.

But hey, if this screams romance to you who am I to judge?

I’m not saying games shouldn’t be able to have sex scenes. I believe gaming as a medium should have the freedom to tackle anything it wants, but if you were to ask on an individual basis, should this game have a sex scene? I will tell you no. Confusing isn’t it? Some people may think that games need to portray sexual relationships if they ever want to be seen as mature. I think those people need to grow up. Sex is not the be-all, end-all of a mature relationship. Nathan Drake and Elena for example, make a great couple because they have chemistry, they bicker and joke, the second game closes with Elena teasing Drake over crying and his fear of clowns, that’s a real relationship.

And on top of all of that, games are still a relatively new medium, we’re still figuring things out. What applies in other media doesn’t necessarily translate well into ours, in a movie sex is a thing between two characters, with a game you have to consider player agency, choice and consequence, what type of story you’re telling, the creators vision and whether it conflict with the players intentions – it’s already a mess before you throw in a sex scene.

So for now, I think games just need to learn to fade to black.

And for the love of God don’t make it interactive Just, no.   read

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -