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5:40 PM on 08.20.2013  

The Game That Broke Me



The dream of most writers posting blogs on gaming websites is to one day review games for money. We all make claims like, ďIt doesnít matter if the game is bad. I CAN DO IT!Ē A lot of us even consider ourselves experts in the field of game knowledge.

Well, I finally got my chance to write for a little known website. Going by the guise of NewGamerNation, I was tasked with reviewing a few things and writing some news until I was handed The Curse Of Nordic Cove. Now I feel like my life is for nothing.

I donít think Iíve ever truly played a game as horrible as this. I understand itís an indie title and that no more than 3 people made it, but I just canít do it. Iíve finally met a game that I canít finish. Even Duke Nukem Forever wasnít this repugnant.

I donít know where to begin, seeing as how Iím panicking on how to actually review the game. I donít want to rate something a 1 out of 10, but I feel that this game is just truly beyond redemption. It sickens me to think that people are charging money for what amounts to an amalgamation of the entire games industry.

Itís one thing when a game has no conviction in its own identity and tries to cater to multiple crowds by including different mechanics. Itís another thing, entirely, when a game switches genres in-between levels. If you ever wanted to play an FPS Golf Game, Nordic Cove has got you covered.

The dialog is also some of the worst garbage Iíve ever listened to. One direct quote from the game is, ďFuck, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.Ē Thatís it. I canít even fathom what that means, let alone how someone uttered this and thought it might work in a story.

What really conflicts me, though, is my own lack of ability. Maybe if I tried making a game, itíd be worse than this? Actually, I should change that maybe to a definitely. I possess no knowledge of programming languages or coding or any kind of idea how to link mechanics together, so why am I being so harsh on this game?

I am just jealous because I canít create something? Do I feel that berating this game will somehow make my life better? Am I just compensating for the lack of emotion that I have? Will I ever truly enjoy gaming again?



I donít know what to do with myself. Iíve wanted, for a long time, to just write about games and let people know how I feel. When the time has come, Iíve become struck with stage fright and afraid to voice myself. I donít want to hurt anyone, but Iíve mastered that skill with little training.

So, I think Iím just not going to write about a specific game ever again. Clearly reviewing things is not in the cards for me. Iíd hate to think of how sad the developers would be if I just belittled their title without a second thought. Theyíve spent countless hours slaving over PCs to get this game running.

What do I have to show for myself? Absolutely nothing; I am nobody and will likely remain that way for the rest of my life. So, I guess I should be thanking The Curse of Nordic Cove. This game showed me that being a professional is not my path in life.

I do believe that path lies at the bottom of a bottle, though.

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6:04 PM on 08.14.2013  

There's V in my COD?!



When Call of Duty made the jump to the modern era, realism wasnít on the agenda. I mean, the game was certainly fashioned after combat with guns in a semi-realistic manner, but the scenarios and settings were clearly fantasy. You would have to be crazy to believe a two man team would somehow survive an onslaught in Chernobyl with one guy incapacitated.

It always struck me as odd that women werenít included. You do save a female pilot in Call of Duty 4, but then you meet your untimely death and she is gone forever along with you. So, I guess it honestly didnít make a difference if she was there (I also canít think of her name and I replayed the game three months ago).

Now with Call of Duty: Ghosts, one can finally be a female soldier. This is something that should have happened six games ago, but progress does take time. Iím happy that we finally can have some diversity in the most popular game of the generation. Iím also very happy for Elsa, since she enjoys Call of Duty.

Now comes the bad part. There was always going to be a bad part. I canít wholly praise something that Activision does. Iím sorry.



To me, Activision is parading the inclusion of women in Call of Duty as an excuse for the lack of originality in the series. Why should they bother changing up the formula? Those games still sell out on release and continually make billions for the company. Activision was able to divorce themselves from Vivendi Universal for $5.8 Billion, which Iím sure Call of Duty was mostly responsible for.

A lot of the features in multiplayer do seem cool. Iím a bit excited to actually try out the new Call of Duty, something that hasnít happened since Call of Duty 3 (I didnít much care for Modern Warfare until I stopped being a cynical prick). I wonít sit here and proclaim that the series shouldnít be loved or played or anything like that.

I just donít understand why, in 2013, including women in a game is a main selling point. Itís very sad that having women in a game even needs to be mentioned as a feature. Shouldnít this be a given? When other shooters like Blacklight: Retribution and Borderlands have had them for years and never promoted them outright, why does Call of Duty need to blatantly showcase the women?

It also doesnít seem like the inclusion is more than a model swap. There is no campaign mode where you play as a woman. There is no real reason aside from broadening the demographic. It just feels like they were added for purely financial reasons. This doesnít feel like equal rights in motion.

Thatís what makes the inclusion sound stupid. Still, as ridiculous as it might be, itís not bad. I want to sit here and hate it, but I canít. If Call of Duty sells like gangbusters, this will only lead to more games being made with female characters. That isnít a negative thing.

I really just wish that Activision would do more than simply include them. Maybe itís too much to ask of Ghosts, but for the next Call of Duty, I want women to have an important role in the game. Maybe even focus the campaign solely on a woman.



Medal of Honor: Underground has a female protagonist. It actually is the only World War 2 game I can think of that acknowledged the fact that women fought in combat in the 1940ís. Weird.

I wouldnít even mind contrived reasons for their inclusion in the plotline. As long as you donít have them focus on the fact that they are women or make their gender their personality, Iím down with more women in Call of Duty.

Now we just need EA and DICE to include them in Battlefield 4 and we can have an inclusive, loving battle for supremacy on the digital battlefront. I suppose we could also make jokes about late alimony paychecks and crash buildings on men.

Or tank through a house, jump out and knife a dude in the face for cheating. Or even reverse that. Have a guy parachute on top of his girl or grabbing the kids in leaving in the night. Holy shit, my sense† of humor is fucking warped.

So more V in COD is a positive thing. For as scummy as the incorporation might be, it will help in the long run.

I also wanted to find out the name of the soldier from COD4 (Cpt. ďDeadlyĒ Pelayo) and found out that the console exclusive Call of Duty: Finest Hour had a playable female soldier. She was named Tanya Pavelovna. Black Ops 2 also featured a female villain in zombies mode along with two female characters to play as and one in the campaign.




Sarah Michelle Gellar was included in DLC for the first Black Ops title, but I donít know if a celebrity counts. Maybe Call of Duty wasnít as exclusive as originally thought?

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5:29 PM on 07.31.2013  

Dragon's Crown is Sexist?



Is Dragonís Crown really that controversial of a game? What, exactly, is wrong with the art style? Sitting here and listening to TotalBiscuitís podcast, Iím stunned. Iíve seen coverage of the game on Destructoid, but I didnít realize how bad the public image was.

For starters, I havenít been the most accepting of people online. I typically over-react to situations and condemn developers for their indiscretions. Even this past weekend, I expressed how I was happy that Phil Fish was leaving the games industry.

Still, when I donít have a problem with the sexual depiction of women in a game, you should probably come to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with the art style. I donít care if you find fault with it, but I donít really see the point.

Itís like weíre shouting at our own problems. In the past, Iíve typically lambasted things like Street Fighter and Dead or Alive because of how scantily clad the women are. The real issue; there were no women in my life to talk to.

About the only complaint I can hold up is unfair difficulty curves. Sometimes games just do not teach the player well enough. They Bleed Pixels is an example of such. The first 4 worlds have a steady increase in difficulty, but the last level is maddening.

Regardless, I think we, as adults, need to grow up a bit. Most of the debates come from how insensitive the depiction of women is and how they might traumatize our children. Since we have the power to buy product, you can simply not buy the product.

Thatís a startling revelation, I know. I truly believe, though, that weíre projecting our own failings onto gaming. There is always going to be a game that truly sucks, but if the only problem you can find in a game is how bad the art style is, why are you complaining so much?

Itís a valid complaint and I accept it as the reason you may not enjoy something, but itís not the sole factor for deeming something as bad. Just because you disagree with something doesnít mean itís objectively bad.

My time watching Game Grumps has taught me more about how to view gaming. I even wrote a piece that focused on some aspects of Dust: An Elysian Tail that ruined the game for me. My opinion wasnít based in hatred or even subjectivity.

When you can tangibly call out a feature of a game instead of relying on pure emotion, it feels great. Itís much better than throwing stones at self-conflict. Obviously your own investment counts for a lot, but Iím tired of reading opinions where the only negative is how uninvested someone is.

So, this blog is unfocused and probably totally off base. Regardless, Iím fed up with spreading hate and seeing hate. I just want us, as a global community, to stop being so entitled and righteous. Sometimes, we just need to have fun.
I may be completely unable to have fun, but dammit if Iím not going to spread cheer around!

I also must add, I donít mind the Polygon review of Dragonís Crown, which sparked the debate on the podcast. The reviewer, [font=Calibri]Danielle Riendeau, doesnít focus on the supposed ďsexismĒ. Itís just a minor thing that conveys her opinion to like-minded people. Just find another review to agree with![/font]

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3:26 PM on 07.27.2013  

My Reaction to Phil Fish's Over-reaction



On Twitter today, Phil Fish of Polytron has confirmed that Fez 2 will be canceled. This comes right off the heels of a debate that Fish was having with Marcus Beer from GameTrailers "Annoyed Gamer" segment.

A series of high-school quality insults were thrown back and forth before Fish tweeted, "im done. FEZ II is cancelled. goodbye." This isn't the first time that Fish's mouth has gotten him into trouble.

In the past, Fish was cited as claiming that Japanese games suck. He later clarified that modern Japanese games was what me meant, still doing no good for his public image.
There are also tweets where Fish has insulted fans after they made some snide remarks about the original Fez not being released yet.

My person two cents: I think Fish should cancel the game and disappear. He constantly is making the games industry look like some childish playground with ridiculous antics like this. I understand if he wants to voice his opinion, but instead of throwing a literal temper tantrum, why not act like an adult?

A few hundred thousand people have handed money over to Polytron in support of Fez. The fans are the ones who made you famous and helped you climb out of the rut that was the 5 year development cycle for your only game. Instead of acting high and mighty, I think it's time you were cut down to size.

If I never hear another thing from Fish again, then honestly my life might be better. It's hard to remain optimistic about gaming when imbeciles like him spout off without thinking.

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8:55 AM on 06.27.2013  

Interviews from SGC

I was a bit busy at SGC this weekend. Not intent to sit on my ass and enjoy everything, I got some interviews about upcoming games! These were posted to a site I'm contributing to, Gamer's Association.

Since they deal with upcoming games, though, I figured I'd post them here as well. You guys are more than welcome to check out Gamer's Association. We'd appreciate some more views.

The first interview is with Cassie Chui. She is a level designer for Electronic Super Joy. I really enjoyed my time with the game and even handed some cash over to her for her hard work.



When I saw Craig, I knew I had to chat about the upcoming AVGN Adventures. I like that he gave me a sneak peek of things to come, as well.




All in all, this SGC was definitely a lot better than the previous years. Getting indie devs to come down and showcase their works was a fantastic idea. If this becomes a recurring thing for Screwattack, I'll gladly attend every convention they host.

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8:14 PM on 01.24.2013  

Sex: Sorry, no...



Sexy and video games are just two things that seem to fail together. I cannot claim that I havenít been aroused by a digital temptress, but more often than not, sexy in gaming just falls flat. For the worst possible example of it, look no further than ďHeavy Rain.Ē

Regardless of my disdain for the aforementioned title, I find myself turned on by the ideas and thoughts present in gaming more than the physical characters. The reason for this is that I tend to shift a characterís abilities on to people I know in real life.

I recently began playing ďThe Last Story.Ē Iíll save my criticism of that for another day. Still, one character in particular has captured my interest. One of your party members is a foul mouthed, loud, angry, drunken, strong, bisexual woman by the name of Syrenne (Seiren in the original Japanese script). These traits epitomize the last girl I thought I was in love with.

As I play through the game more, I keep thinking of that girl. Syrenne comes on the screen and Iím mesmerized by the positive thoughts I had with this girl. I feel sorry for hurting her and want to reverse my misdeeds simply because I realize how wonderfully charming she is. Iím aroused by her and its all thanks to this damn game!

But the game itself is not really doing anything to be ďsexyĒ to me. Sure, Syrenne is fairly attractive and is obviously dressed in such a manner to appeal to horny imbeciles like me, but she also has a personality that is incredibly realistic. Now if only she played video games and had brown hair, the transformation would be complete.


She's the one on the left...

Another game I finished late last year, ďLollipop Chainsaw,Ē starred a young, beautiful, quirky, blonde bombshell of a character that had a punk charm and some strong verbal skills. Well, I happened to work with someone like that for the better portion of two years.

Sure, I saw the short skirt, the ridiculous excuse for a bra and the vivacious and limber moveset, but I wasnít picturing Juliet Starling. No, that wonderful girl from work was where my mind drifted. Why would I want pixels (despite how tempting they are) when the real thing was mere feet away from me?

As far as situations go, I donít think video games have really nailed it yet. The most effecting women in games for me are the ones written with pure fantasy in mind; the romance that blossoms in a fairytale manner or where the guy gets the girl after many trials and tribulations.

Film just gives a much more realistic look at interpersonal relationships. I hate to say that, but the quality of storytelling in gaming just isnít on the same level. To me, games are much better at tackling the atrocities of war or giving players a sense of adventure and meaning. Film and literature is better at capturing love and introspective thoughts.

My honest to goodness favorite romance in a game has to be between Link and Ilia in ďLegend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.Ē Link never utters a word and Ilia is never portrayed as anything vulgar or mean. The game focuses more on her attention to Link and how his strength pulls them through. There is even a scene in the game that humanizes Link by tempting him with dark power.



It certainly isnít as strong as the bond that ďIcoĒ forms or even as emotional as many of the Final Fantasy relationships, but the thread between Link and Ilia is so pure and simple. It just makes me happy seeing them together.

I canít say that video games lack the ability to be sexy. Any form of media can take a sexual idea and spin it into a sexual fantasy that tantalizes the right mind. For me, though, I want my sexual visions to be more realistic. Iím still a virgin and Iím pretty much set on the path to being alone. If I keep myself in pure fantasy land, Iím never going to switch roads into reality.

Sadly, I view almost everything through idealized lenses. I have no doubt that at one point in my life video games will be the only thing that I find sexy. It doesnít help that more and more games are beginning to explore sex in a more realistic and mature fashion. Sure, something like ďSeduce MeĒ may be a stupid little point and click, but it definitely doesnít tackle sex with a pre-teen kind of view.

Weíre also starting to me a surge of women in the games industry taking the reigns behind projects and lending their own voices and values to scripts. I fully believe that female characters in the not so distant future will be properly written and wholly attractive.

As gaming stands now, though, I do not find it particularly sexy. I have more respect for sexual content in gaming now than I ever used to, but I still honestly just do not get it (both literally and figuratively).

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5:20 PM on 12.28.2012  

Briskly Walking "The Line!"

So, that ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ was quite the game, right?........Right?.......Ugh, sometimes I hate being me.



Just the other day, I finished my journey through Dubai in what seems to be record time; 5 hours. I played on the hardest default setting, otherwise known as Suicide Mission. This game was far from that.

While I found the narrative very ambitious and intriguing, ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ seems to run at breakneck speed through all of its high points. I mean, in the first hour alone, I conquered 5 of the games 15 chapters. They get considerably longer after that point, but I hadnít even realized how little time I had spent.

I have no problem with games being short, but I just feel a little short changed here. This game was touted as having a very deep and complex narrative and most of the anecdotes Iíve heard from gamers are how affecting they felt the games ďdecisionĒ scenes were. I saw them so close together; I donít even know how the hell Iím supposed to think.

This contrasts with ďHotline Miami,Ē another game that brings up questions of violence and does so in an even shorter time span than Spec Ops. I managed to plunk through that little gem in about 3 and a half hours, but the pacing worked much better.

Some missions gave some breathing room in terms of combat and there was even a break from the constant murder for a stealth mission (even if that level was a little crappy). Hotline wasnít a constant bloodbath and it worked to make me more interested in the combat and plotline.



Spec Ops, though, doesnít give you a single minute to reflect on anything. Even the cutscenes arenít that long, with the longest probably being around 6 minutes. You simply deal with a firefight, walk to the next room and repeat. When a decision comes up, you make it in a snap fashion and then proceed to shoot some more.

I canít say I was disappointed with the game (and I got it for dirt cheap, so how could I truly be?), but I feel like it would have been a greater story if I was just given more time to explore it. Let me sink in the details of the gameís world, let me reflect on my awful actions and give me periods that help build character instead of pushing me directly into the action.

One of the best moments in ďUncharted 2Ē comes during chapter 16. After practically non-stop action, Drake finds himself stranded in Nepal. The only task for the chapter is to walk around and soak in the sights. This gives you ample time to think about how you arrived at this location and reflect on what Drake has gone through.

NaughtyDog understood that packing a game with minute to minute firefights would sully the experience and leave the gamer wishing for a break. While you donít want to have too much time dedicated to simply doing nothing, even just the smallest amount of leisure or padding can create a sense of relieve and a desire to continue.

For all the flack the Zelda series may get for sidequests and lack of innovation, the padding in that series really drives home the desire to press on. The early games in the series (namely Zelda 1 and 2) suffer because there is nothing else to do. You simply proceed with quest or you donít play the game. Without any break of alternate activity, the quest feels longwinded (even being only an hour!).


This is completely related to saving the Princess...trust me!

So honestly, while I wonít deem a game of lower quality because itís short, some titles need extra game time to justify their existence. I canít sit here and whole-heartedly recommend ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ because I feel like itís incomplete. Itís too damn short and leaves too much unexplained.

If I only simply had more time to feel the anguish that Captain Martin Walker was going through, maybe Iíd be in love with the game. As it stands, itís a very ambitious experiment, but one that ultimately doesnít feel as impactful due to a sense of being rushed.

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8:04 AM on 11.04.2012  

KingSigy's Quest - Professor Layton Series



Inspired by Magnalon and his constant destruction of entire game series, Iíve decided to finally jump in the fray and represent a series that is often overlooked: Professor Layton. You probably wouldnít expect someone like me to enjoy Layton games (I often go for shooters), but Iíve been smitten with the series for awhile now.

Sadly, though, Iíve only ever finished 1 game. I own all 4 DS titles and will be acquiring the 3DS sequel in short order. Still, what better way to send off the year then by beating a game that has become a Christmas tradition for me?

Why Professor Layton?

Why Layton at this point in the year? Quite honestly, I lost power a few days ago and just turned on my 3DS. I had left the games out on my desk as a reminder to eventually finish them, but nothing spurred me toward my quest.

Iíve done every Zelda last year, all three Deus Ex games, the 3 main entry Quake games with their expansions and a crap ton of Mario games this year: why was Layton eluding me? I really cannot say.

So while I donít really have a clear motive on why Layton finally got lucky, I just know that Iím happy to be playing them after having the games hang around my house. I always felt bad since I asked my mom to get them for me and just let them sit around.

See, as Iíve become older, Iíve demanded that my mother stop lavishing me with gifts and boil it down to a single thing each year. For Christmas, since Layton happens to release later in the year, I just ask her to grab me that.

Thankfully Iíve been able to pay it forward this year as I currently have money. My mom is now the proud owner of a red 3DS XL and itís all thanks to me! I hope thatís one of the best birthdayís sheís ever had; living with me is a nightmare unto itself.



Professor Layton And the Curious Village [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I actually did manage to beat this one when it originally launched. I was studying in Florida to become a Chemist (hahahaha) and I was having troubles with my ďfriendsĒ at the time. While Iíve come to miss them, they definitely werenít offering words of advice with my depression or school work.

Regardless, I was able to shut myself away in my dorm and power through some puzzles. The first thing I remember about Layton, though, are the FMVs. I was blown away at how good looking those cutscenes were in the DS screen. How did Level-5 even manage to compress these videos down so well?

Then comes the puzzles. There are just so many of them (130 to be exact). I took this game with me everyone. In class, over to friendís houses, out to eat; I couldnít be separated from it. It was fun having some of my friends come up with solutions with me and us all being completely wrong.

As I replayed it, I missed a lot of that community element, but I really got sucked up in the story again. I love a good mystery and Layton certainly provides that. The characters arenít insanely deep, but they do provide chuckles. I still laugh at how stupid Luke sounds saying Professor.

I managed to beat the game in about half of my previous time, too. I am going by the save file, but 11 hours and 30 minutes was knocked down to 6 hours flat. Thatís not too bad!



Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I really prefer the Japanese name to this (Pandoraís Box!), but Diabolical also sounds pretty intimidating. Now, I have actually played this, but I never managed to finish it. At the time in my life when the game came out, I just couldnít muster up the strength to sit through a DS title.

That usually happens to me at the end of a consoleís life-span. When Shadow of the Colossus originally came out, I wouldnít be caught dead playing it as I was ready to move onto the 360. PS2 was a distant memory for me.

Iíve since changed my views on that matter, but obviously not before this Layton game came out. What do I remember about the short span I played? WellÖthe graphics were nicer. It also took place at night!

I was having fun with it, but I think I just got stumped somewhere and turned it off. I was heading to my uncleís house for Christmas dinner, I believe, and my aunt was terribly ill at the time. I didnít want to waste any precious seconds playing some game when she was so close to death.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

JustÖ.wow. I really missed a damn good game. Strange thing is, though, my save file was actually around 70% done. I had sunk 6 hours and 48 minutes into the game with around 68 puzzles solved. Holy shit! I remembered a fair chunk of them, too.

For starters, the presentation is just ace. The cutscenes come back with a vengeance and are much better. The lip synching is tighter and the animation is just stronger. There are also some text segments that are fully voiced and itís just much easier to get sucked into the plot.

The plot is also a bit more heartwarming. I am not afraid to admit this, but I shed a few tears at the end. I was just so overwhelmed with the realization that comes during the conclusion. Makes you think about your own life, too.

Gameplay wise, though, this one is strong and weak. For starters, there is much better variety in the puzzles. Youíre almost always doing something new and exciting and most of them actually have something to do with the plot. Most, I must mention.

While the game boasts around 153 puzzles, I think that number isnít quite right. One puzzle about mid-way through the game tasks you with moving a chess piece around a board and hitting each square once. You then do this againÖand againÖ.and again.

There also happen to be a few more puzzles that each have 4 levels. Claiming to contain over 150 puzzles is kind of false when you just come up with one idea and repeat it with variations.

Still, I actually like this one more than the first game. Itís story is stronger and the length is pretty damn good (took me about 10 and a half hours!). Just like in the first title, there are DLC puzzles and a crap ton of unlockables, so Iíd recommend this to everyone.



Professor Layton and the Unwound Future [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I know the name is different in Japan againÖThatís honestly it. I have not the faintest idea of what this game entails. It follows Luke and Layton solving puzzles. Sounds fine to me.

Iíve heard reviews claim itís the best of the first trilogy of titles. Apparently the puzzles really come together or something. Iím not quite sure. I just know that if it has another great story, then Iím game to waste countless hours on it.

Oh, as the box informs me, there are at least 165 puzzles. Weíve effectively added half another game on top of the original.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

So, Iím a bit indifferent. This was a great game with a long playtime (about 12 hours!) and I was blown away at the story in parts, but there is just something off. It doesnít feel like the soul of a Layton game is there. Everything gets so larger than life that Iím not sure what to think.

We have time travel coming into the equation (even though that later gets debunkedÖand then reinstated) and there are an insane amount of FMVs peppered throughout the story. The plus side is that there is also more voice acting during the text sections.

The polish is just through the roof and there are some very clever ideas that integrate puzzles directly into the story. There also happens to be crap where youíll look at a flight of stairs and Layton will say, ďThis reminds me of a puzzle.Ē

At the same time, I was just more interested in seeing the plotline finish then actually tackling most of the puzzles. I just love the acting and writing, even if this story falters a bit, so I think thatís probably a negative to people who enjoy the puzzles more. Now I understand how a Layton movie would work out.

Regardless, this was a very good game. Iím not sorry I played it and itís probably my favorite of the first three, but there definitely seems to be a small drop in overall cohesion. Whereas the first two games kept things quick and often made puzzles feel organic, this one just throws everything and the kitchen sink into the mix.

I mean, how many games have you played where two Londonís exist at once and one gets decimated? YeahÖI canít name a single one. I did shed tears at the end, though. So itís definitely powerful under the right circumstances.



Professor Layton and the Last Specter [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

While I know nothing of the main game, I do know that this DS entry comes with an Animal Crossing style mini-game called ďLondon Life.Ē That sounds pretty killer to me. I doubt it has ď100 hoursĒ of content, but I could see myself wasting time with it until ďAnimal Crossing: New LeafĒ comes out.

Regardless, Iíve heard this entry is fairly lackluster in terms of what Layton is. There are puzzles abound, but they never push farther than the other 3 games. Itís like a retreading of ideas (something Nintendo is glorious at!).

I do know that, canonically speaking, this is a prequel to the entire series. This game details the first time that Layton met his apprentice, Luke. I suppose that makes sense as the two seem acquainted during the beginning of Curious Village. Whatever, I just want more puzzles.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

Well, itís not my favorite in the series, but ďThe Last SpecterĒ is a very solid game. Like I mentioned with the last game, though, Iím far more interested in the plot line. This game tones down the main puzzles, though, giving you more extras instead of just bloating the campaign with needless padding.

The ending is completely amazing, though. While pretty much none of the puzzles flow directly with the plot, the ending has a series of 8 puzzles that all deal with exactly whatís going on. Itís very thrilling.

Thereís even a section where you get to play as Laytonís new assistant, Emmy. I find it strange that a third character in introduced in the prequel trilogy and never mentioned in the original games, but sheís actually not so bad.

Thereís almost an over abundance of cutscenes, though. I definitely love them, but considering the plot is shorter (Only 11 hours this time), it seems like practically half of it is spent watching.

Most of the puzzles are also incredibly safe. What I mean is, there arenít a whole lot of fresh ideas presented during the course of the new mystery. Lots of slider puzzles, marble jumping and a cool little pseudo-puzzle story wrap-up thing. Still, nothing 100% fresh.

Whatever the flaws are, I did like this game. The Layton stories are very well written, even if they are completely far fetched at this point. Iím eager to see what the movie holds, since Iím far more invested in the character of Layton instead of his actual puzzles.

Oh, and London Life is boring. Itís Animal Crossing without the funny, circle shaped people.



Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva [DVD, Blu-Ray]

This is the first film in the series. While I technically canít play it, I would like to watch it to get a full understanding of the series story. The movie is a flashback that takes place after the events of Last Specter. The flashback occurs during the downtime between Curious Village and Diabolical BoxÖThat honestly makes no sense.

Honestly, why bother with this? Well, I love the animation in the FMVs, so Iím sure there will be something I can enjoy out of this film. Iíve heard that itís actually quite good, so why can the harm be? I really canít fathom how puzzle solving works as a film, though.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

...WATCHED?..

HmÖ..I donít really know what to say. Iíve been more interested in the plot lines of Layton games for the last few and then this movie failed to produce a decent plot. Like most anime video game adaptations, the script focuses too much on including every character without actually understanding why they work.

One character from the prequel trilogy, Inspector Grosky, does absolutely nothing with the narrative other than provide his famous line, ďI AM GROSKY OF THE YARD!Ē Itís infuriating. Emmy, too, has no relevance in this movie, despite being introduced and fleshed out fairly well in the ďLast Specter.Ē

Even with these problems, though, the film is an okay watch. As far as game to movie adaptations, Iíd say this is easily the best. The humor is lighthearted, the film has some fun action scenes and the integration of puzzles into a different medium works very well.

The animation is also exceptionally beautiful. I was awestruck at how the Layton universe looks in fullscreen HD. I really would like Level-5 to develop something for the Wii U, now!

Particular mention needs to go to the soundtrack, as well. All of the themes are done by a full orchestra and they sound wonderful. Itís great hearing the tunebox theme and even the puzzle time theme come to life. The main theme is used far too often, but it is very loud, bombastic and high octane, so Iíll let it slide.

So, would I recommend this to the casual anime fan? Eh, not really. The film, on its own merits, isnít worth a watch. For those interested in Layton, Iíd almost say to skip it, too. But, just seeing Layton in a full movie and gasping at the animation can provide some joy to viewers.

So, whatever. Take the good, take the bad, put it togetherÖblah blah. Not too bad.



Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask [Nintendo 3DS]

COMPLETED

The first 3D entry in the series and a launch title in Japan for the 3DS, Miracle Mask is supposed to be aÖfairly typical Layton game. Oh well. Iíve heard that regardless of how comfortable this title is with the series legacy, it does make for some quality entertainment.

Iím not sure how I feel about the characters finally being rendered in 3D, but I donít really have much to complain about. If the only detractor is that the graphics look weird, then I think Iíll be okay.

I do also know that this game had a full year of DLC. Thatís right, some crazy bullshit like THQ promised with Saints Row, but for free and actually decent! Since the game has only been out for a week or so, I think only 14-21 puzzles are available in the US. By the time I get to this game, hopefully there will be a sizeable amount for me to comment on.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

I donít know why people called this a typical Layton game. For starters, itís the first game in the series to not focus solely on puzzles. There is an extended sequence that plays out similar to Zelda and itís amazing.

Also, the changes made to the way one interacts with the world are incredibly welcome. While I donít mind the old games, it was frustrating to be looking for hint coins and just tapping everything imaginable. Now you can simply scroll over items of interest and a little magnifying glass will highlight if you can click there.

Also, the graphics are incredible. With the 3D effect on, this game just pops off the screen. The colors are vibrant, the added depth makes the world feel huge and alive and the character models (now in place of the old sprites) animate like Wind Waker. Itís wonderful.

The variety in the puzzles is also stepped up, which is surprising considering there are less puzzles here than every game since the first. You do get a few repeats (I guess making cats and penguins jump is just too good to pass up), but for the most part, every puzzle is unique.

The story is also very touching, delving into a time when Layton was younger and dealing with the passing of close friends. I cried again, but considering how depressing this series tends to be getting, I donít think Iíll ever stop. Iím really not sure why Layton hasnít killed himself or how he remains so jovial.

So, Iíd say this one is close to the top of the list. If I had to rank the games, Iíd go: Unwound, Miracle, Diabolical, Spector and Curious. Funny, seeing as how the only game Iíve finished twice is Curious Village.



So while Layton isnít exactly the biggest hitter that Nintendo has up its sleeve, Iíve been a fan of the series for years now. Itís sad that Iíve actually only completed 1 game, but that will soon change. Since no one seems to give this series any coverage, Iíll be the harbinger of progress for Destructoid!

Hopefully Iíve gotten a few of you to pick up your DSí and get cracking on some mind benders! If not, then at least youíve read my thoughts on this wonderful little series.

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5:52 PM on 09.21.2012  

Apprently the Dreamcast sucks...(Short Blog)



I hate video game reviews. I truly do. With this weekís release of Jet Set Radio HD, Iím just reminded of how deep my hatred for game reviewing has become. How can a website rightfully justify giving a classic a 4.5 when they previously rated it a 9?

Now, I understand that tastes change and people move away from the things they used to love, but how does a quintessential Dreamcast title suddenly become something broken and unpolished? For that matter, was the Dreamcast ever worth owning? All Iíve been seeing from the re-releases of its ďclassicsĒ are reviews that top off at 6 out of 10.

It just boggles my mind to try and figure out how a game becomes so awful over the course of a decade. I havenít played a single title from my youth in recent years that hasnít held up to some degree. Sometimes awkward dialog or story progression rear their ugly heads, but level design and controls have always been a constant for me.

If I disliked the way the camera moved or the way combos were executed back in the day, I clearly remember all of that and expect it in the future. Hell, sometimes games I disliked back in the day are actually better with age, so what gives with ďJet Set Radio?Ē

Iím also getting really tired of reviewers claiming that titles are antiquated or feel old and that is their reason for being bad. Well, why do new games like ďCastle CrashersĒ and ďScott PilgrimĒ come out and get high marks for being old-school and retro? The contradiction doesnít make sense to me. You canít praise one thing for the same reason you hate another!

For that matter, old games donít suddenly become bad over the years. I understand that the philosophy behind developing anything should be to improve on the predecessors, but I still enjoy ďSuper Mario WorldĒ and ďStreet Fighter II,Ē despite the fact that their sequels may have improved in certain regards.

Not that film or music can even really compare to video games, but you donít see Roger Ebert going back and claiming ďHotel RwandaĒ actually sucks. When he states that his opinion of a movie is positive, he always sticks to it. Just because things have changed in cinema or methods or production doesnít mean that Rwanda is no longer worth it.



I'm sorry, I can't control this properly anymore...

If I go and ask my friend if she still likes the older Dave Matthews albums, sheís not going to say no! I donít dislike old Tool albums or Daft Punk, either, despite their styles changing and evolving over the years. When something is good, it is good!

My only real understanding of this situation comes with my old passion for Slipknot. I used to love their direct and dirty style of metal, but as I grew older and broadened my range of music, I drifted away from them. I no longer listen to them and I donít really have the desire to.

I still recognize their greatness, though. Nothing is wrong with the band and their music will always be a shining example of power/hard metal done right. Hell, their live album is fucking insanely good!


In fact, I went and re-beat ďSuper Mario LandĒ last night just for fun. That game is still good. I have lots of nostalgia for it (it was my second Gameboy game ever), but the title is a quick, quirky, fun little game and is well worth playing through. Hell, itís even better now because of how similar newer Mario games are becoming.

Maybe I just hold video games closer to my heart? I really canít make up an excuse or claim my passion is stronger, though. Thatís very selfish. Iím just finding it hard to understand how ďJet Set RadioĒ is now considered a waste of time when it was once proclaimed to be a revelation.

I suppose my friend Corey sums it up the best, though.


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6:55 PM on 09.10.2012  

Confronting My Bias



There are two franchises I will almost never speak about on this blog: The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The reason for that is simple: BIAS! Those are my two favorite franchises and I personally enjoy each game in them, even if I truly donít like a title (Zelda 2 and Mario Sunshine come to mind).

Why do I bring this up? Well, I recently 100%ed ďNew Super Mario Bros. 2Ē and I really enjoyed it. Iím surprised to see it held as the lowest ranking Mario game to date on GameRankings, but I also cannot disagree. Itís a very strange feeling.

Usually when I feverishly love a title and reviews are low, I just write them off and continue playing. This time, though, Iím beginning to question if my own bias is blinding me. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I believe Iím a part of the problem when it comes to modern AAA games being all too similar; maybe thatís true with Mario and Zelda?

I havenít purchased more than 3 games this year at full, retail price. After the abomination that was ďUncharted 3,Ē and my extreme disappointment with ďElder Scrolls V: Skyrim,Ē I vowed to wait for price drops or sales before jumping into anything new. It has paid off extremely well for me.

Still, the only titles I will buy immediately without question are Zelda and Mario games. I donít even care if they suck out loud, I need to play them. This kind of devotion is clearly what a money grubbing company would love, but it most definitely is not helping the creative lull that Mario has found himself in.


The next Mario game should have an art style like this!

Even though I loved every minute of my 9 hour jaunt through NSMB2, I canít help but feel like Iím growing weary of this entire ďNewĒ series. The level design, in particular, wasnít as fresh or invigorating in this 3DS title and the overkill with the Tanaooki leaf is making that feeling of wonder and joy from ďSuper Mario Bros. 3Ē feel dated.

I always wanted a ďtrueĒ sequel to Mario 3; now I have two of them. The sense of dťjŗ vu and complacency is starting to take its toll on me. Seeing as how my favorite Mario games arenít even from the ďNewĒ series, Iím completely conflicted on how I feel about ďNew Super Mario Bros. U.Ē

I want it to be the return to form that 2-D Mario desperately needs, but I canít help but feel like Iíve been burn to death on sidescrollers. For that matter, I want someone else to step up their game so that Mario has a reason to try newer and braver endeavors.

People point to ďRayman: OriginsĒ as some bastion of bliss, but I found the game completely dull. When in a Mario game does it take Mario four worlds to gain the ability to swim? Rayman is like playing Mario in a coma, even if its graphics are nice.

But maybe thatís just my bias coming into effect? If I didnít ďloveĒ Mario, maybe I could see the beauty within Rayman and embrace him as the sidescrolling king? I have no idea, but even adventure gaming doesnít compare to Zelda for me.

Iíll tell you left and right that I do not like Twilight Princess. The game is essentially a retread of Ocarina of Time, yet with more listless pacing and easier puzzles. Itís still better than ďDarksidersĒ to me.

In fact, I remember back in 2001 when ďIcoĒ was just coming out and Official Playstation Magazine labeled the game a Zelda killer. I hated the game for eight full years! It wasnít until I gave it a play in 2009 and subsequently wrote a final paper about it that I truly fell for the game.

When I have debates about potential ďGame of the YearĒ candidates, I almost always try to leave Zelda and Mario out of the equation. Itís not even fair to other games for me if I include them. Obviously Iím just going to pick Link and Mario!

As a matter of fact, my room is surrounded with the guys. I have three plush Marioís, a bean bag Yoshi, a stuffed Link and numerous posters from both series. My room is a venerable shrine to these gaming gurus.


Look how cute they are together!

How does one get over such a bias? Is there even really a point in doing so? Does my bias borderline on obsession? What could that possibly mean to the friends I keep in my life?

Whatever the implications, I cannot be without these two franchises. If Nintendo were to ever collapse and get out of gaming, I would too. I just will not fathom a game industry without these two icons, even if it may inevitably become a reality.

So, yes, I do think ďNew Super Mario Bros. 2Ē is a damn fine platformer. It kills ďRayman: OriginsĒ in every conceivable fashion for me. Excellent, hand drawn, HD graphics be damned, Iíll take Mario any day!

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2:23 PM on 08.30.2012  

I'm Part of the Problem



Every now and then, a treasured developer will produce a game so dissimilar to their previous work that fans will begin to rage. Theyíll lament the good old days and chat about how said developer has lost their way. What happened to the tight level design? Where are the classic monsters? Why does this game feel so different?

Id Softwareís ďRageĒ is such a title. Playing almost nothing like their previous games, ďRageĒ feels very awkward to a longtime Id fan. Why would you even bother with this title, outside of the developerís legacy? After playing through the game, I canít answer that question.

Still, I canít help but think Iím a part of the game industryís biggest problem; creative stagnation. Id Software tried their damnedest to create a brand new IP and I hate the game. Hell, even when they took ďDoom 3Ē in a different direction than the classic games, I was first in line to bitch and moan.

ďRageĒ definitely isnít a shining example of game design, but itís not poorly made. When the characters finally shut-up and youíre thrown into a dungeon, it plays like a better version of ďFallout 3.Ē The guns have great weight and the graphics completely sell the putrid creatures and their agility. It can be really tense.

In the same instance, though, nothing about the game is original and most of the ideas are half-baked. The upgrade system shouldnít even exist with how few options are available, the car combat side missions feel like half of a game (or early PS1 era cash grabs) and the weapon crafting is entirely pointless when you can just buy everything.

ďRageĒ is mind blowing if you havenít played a single game this generation. If you have, youíll just keep thinking about ďBorderlands,Ē ďFallout 3Ē and ďCall of Duty.Ē Itís sad when even in a brand new game, I canít escape thoughts of everything else.



I can't even tell which Call of Duty this is.....

At the same time, because I made those previous games successful, Iím partly responsible for ďRageĒ being an amalgamation of features from other shooters. I canít imagine playing a classic style game in the modern era, even though Iíd probably enjoy it to some degree.

Still, when new IPs are released, Iím the one responsible for sequels never happening. Iím the guy that craps all over ďnewĒ ideas and stops developers from taking chances. I dictate to them that Call of Duty and Battlefield are the only way shooters should be, so why even try something new?

To that degree, I also disliked ďSonic 4.Ē Iím not one of those people who abhor the physics, though. I was more in the camp that the level design wasnít adequate and that the boss encounters lacked originality. Since I love classic Sonic, though, what else was Sega supposed to make? How do they make me happy?

Iím also the same person that is lambasting Square-Enix for ďFinal Fantasy XIII.Ē I canít stand the auto-battle system or how streamlined combat is. The linear level paths for an RPG do nothing for me and the absurd story just brings my piss to a boil. How else is Square-Enix supposed to innovate, though?

If I could embrace ďRageĒ as an actual beacon of creativity, then maybe weíd be a better and more realized sequel. Maybe Id Software could expend more time in designing new mechanics or fleshing out the groundwork laid down with the first title.

If I treated ďFinal Fantasy XIIIĒ with more respect, maybe Square-Enix would finally give us that ďFinal Fantasy VIIĒ remake or another title in the classic, 16-bit style (excluding the FFIV pseudo-sequel).

Since I donít allow developers to try anything new, I fear that the next generation of consoles will just keep producing the same garbage over and over. I keep buying awful sequels in hopes that some of the original joy will be contained; I almost never leave happy.



Even this looks like Call of Duty....

So my only conclusion is that I am a part of the problem. Iíll do my best to embrace the indie game scene, but I donít see how Iíll be helping triple A titleís become more diverse in the future.

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5:55 PM on 08.14.2012  

Girlfriend Mode My Ass!



Developers and stupid comments seem to be going hand in hand these days. First we get Crystal Dynamics shooting themselves in the feet and now we have Gearbox making asshats of themselves. Itís insane to think how grown adults canít figure out how to properly speak to journalists about their games.

Still, the most recent instance with Gearboxís John Hemingway just does not make sense to me. Are the developers intentionally trying to not sell their product to women? When I first read the quick blip for Eurogamerís article, I immediately thought of a mode where the female character would bond to one character and heal them.

Instead, the gaming world is now treated to something unintentionally sexist. To say that female gamers require additional assistance in their games is ludicrous. If the main idea was to appeal to significant others who are bad at video games, why not just label the mechanic as noob mode?

Still, Iím a white male and Iím getting outraged at something that doesnít really impact me. Iíll never know what itís like to be a woman and have people constantly harassing me, so I took to Twitter for some quick comments.

I asked my co-workerís girlfriend and another co-worker of mine (the now infamous Jozie). Both play games and while they may not be experts or as hardcore as I am, they certainly can hold their own in terms of ability.





As you can clearly see, both arenít too happy about Hemingwayís comment. While he may not be a ravenous sexist, he certainly is unfounded and ignorant. Just like the controversy over ďDead IslandĒ and their ďFeminist WhoreĒ skill, developers need to realize that in-jokes arenít funny to the masses and knocks against female stereotypes are unfounded and ridiculous.

To further drive the point home, an old friend of mine was quite the gamer. She couldnít best me in Call of Duty or Gears of War, but she certainly wasnít a slouch, either. Gaming with her on ďHard ModeĒ wasnít some futile attempt to make myself look better. She honestly was up for the challenge and liked not having the game be a cakewalk.

Iíve also known quite a few female workers from local GameStopís that are interested in some pretty awesome stuff. My best friend Jimís old boss loved ďDark Souls,Ē a game that makes most grown men cry. This very lovely girl, Jen, was a huge fan of Fable and Call of Duty and she used to ask me pointers on how to get better, instead of cowering in fear of harder difficulties.

I also recall of two twins who were gigantic PokeMon fans. While that may not be the most daunting of titles to topple, just having the sheer dexterity to finish any of those titles is a pretty monumental accomplishment. Iíve only ever beaten 2 PokeMon games and I sink hundreds of hours into each.

My point is I donít understand why developers are still treating women like unskilled peons. According to ESRB polls, around 40% of gamers are women. If you total up all sales of the previous ďBorderlandsĒ (as presented by VGChartz.com), you get about 4.55 million copies. Imagine if 40% did not buy the sequel. Youíd sell close to 2 million copies less.

That is something that Gearbox probably doesnít want to face. Sadly, they may see a pretty big decline come September. ďBorderlandsĒ didnít have the easiest start of any new IP, but it did well on the charm of its gameplay and word of mouth from gamers.

If the new word of mouth is that Gearbox is a bunch of sexist idiots, maybe ďBorderlands 2Ē wonít sell so well. While I canít predict what will happen, I will say that developers need to start treating their potential customers a lot better.

Enough of the bullshit where women apparently suck or that being offended is solely your fault. Start thinking about what you say and maybe Iíll give a shit about your work. Until then, youíve lost a prospective customer.



Cate Archer is not pleased.

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