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Myrmidon16's blog

1:45 PM on 06.27.2012

The Games With No Ending

You know what really grinds my gears? When youíre playing an epic adventure game, to the tune of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Psychonauts, then after you put so much time and effort into completing and finally defeating the final boss you realize there is no further inclination that you did complete the game. It is the bane of the game with no ending, and it has been an unfortunate thorn in my side as an adventure gamer and aspiring game designer. Video games are, in their essence, lacking much of a physical reward for completing them. You donít get a certificate or trophy once you emerge from the final dungeon and topple the final boss, only the surge of self-satisfaction that all the hours you have selflessly poured into this environment have come down to this final accomplishment. The game should at least give some kind of in game sign that you have finished all that could be, however in my experience some of the most rewarding games have ended in mild disappointment with their lack of this type of acknowledgement. WARNING: There may be some spoilers ahead, so proceed if you dare.

The first game I recognized this trend in was one of the first I ever played. Paper Mario always will have a special place in my heart for two reasons; it was an initial compliment to the surprise gift of a Nintendo 64 from my parents those many Christmases ago, and it was one of the many games I never completed the first time through, only to return to it years later and dispatch it with not much effort. I was held back for many years from the fulfillment of defeating 2D Bowser because of that blasted endless passage in his castle, but once I embarrassingly figured out the pattern I finally defeated the Koopa King with all that pent up rage from years of frustration. Alas, my accomplishment will never be realized by anyone other than myself, for once I returned to the title screen in order to check my status, there was no mark of my achievement anywhere to be found.

The game Psychonauts gave me the next and likely the most frustrating experience in this category. An adventure game at its core, this underrated gem from Double Fine also incorporated the collect-a-thon theme that I loved so much about gaming. I figured, once I did complete the game the fun wouldnít end, for I would be able to return to the quirky environments afterwards and finish collecting all the extra things that needed collecting, like figments and scavenger hunt items and giant floating eyeballs. However it appears that it was not meant to be, as to my dismay when trying to return to the game after defeating the chilling final boss (or bosses, depending on how you look at it), I not only was placed back in the final area before the boss, I was given no route to return to all the past levels in order to finish collecting everything. And I was sad.

Recently I finally got around to playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and even wrote a review on one of the most widely debated game levels of all time, and was horrified to find that a game that was so close to perfect in every other regard of its design included this never-ending game trend. Being in the depths of my college life, I returned to and reluctantly abandoned the game over a few years, but after my graduation I forced myself to finally finish and realize the full extent of this amazing game, and defeated Ganon. Yet there it was again, the exclusion of any display of my hard journey to this final accomplishment. I actually sat and stared at the final scene of the game (which, I might add, wasnít too bad seeing, as it was profoundly moving) to no avail. With no end in sight, I jumped up in frustration and slammed the power button down on the N64, never to return to the game again. Well, unless I want to replay it at some point. Which I probably will. But still. NEVER AGAIN.

Last but not least of the games I can recall using this despicable design flaw, the yet again underrated Baten Kaitos had unique gameplay combining turn-based strategy gameplay with the utilization of customizable card decks. Iíll admit that of all the games on this list, the never ending aspect was not its most jarring weakness, but adding it on top of the others certainly didnít make the game any better. It was a unique and risky attempt, which is commendable in a present day where many game companies lean towards the easy path towards development (*cough* Call of Duty *cough*), yet it still, like the other games in this article, left a bad taste in my mouth when the completion of the very difficult final boss battle will never be realized within the game in any way.

The most frustrating thing about these games with no ending is I just donít understand why game developers decide to leave out such a seemingly easy aspect of the game. Why not in Psychonauts just retexture Razís clothing to look like the turtle neck and terrible hairdo he gains at the end of the game, and allow the player to travel through all the levels again to collect the rest of the items? Why not just show some sort of mark or seal in the game that clearly shows that the player has completed it, like Razís clothing change or just as simply as a star next to the save file? Iím not asking for a completely new section of the game, something the designers after years of development might not have the energy to add just to appease my ridiculous demands; I just want some small sign of closure in a medium that naturally doesnít have one other than personal satisfaction.

Some games do it right, and prove even further that ending the game in the way I desire is probably one of the simplest parts of the design process. Banjo-Kazooie is one example, adding on to the endless list of reasons why it is and always shall be my favorite game. Initially, when starting the game from system shut down, no matter how far you have advanced Banjo always begins at the entrance to Gruntyís lair. This isnít even too much of a hindrance, as her lair works as sort of a base area connecting all of the other levels, and has portals placed throughout it to transverse to the further regions of the environment. Once the player has defeated Grunty, the game goes through all of the ending procedures, returns the character to the title screen, and when beginning your game again, Banjo appears at the entrance of the lair. Now, there really isnít a showing of the gameís completion, but the way the game is designed allows the player to explore previous parts of the game after completion, and isnít confined to the final area with any flexibility like in Paper Mario and Baten Kaitos. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is another game does apply the display I describe, in the way that I explained before with a star next to the save file, showing that the player has completed the game and allowing for further gameplay even after the final boss was slain.

In conclusion, many of the games that I have experienced this flaw in are games that I hold dear to my heart, and itís more depressing than frustrating that such masterpieces end in such a way. Now most modern day games do not end in such a way, or their design doesnít allow for any kind of ending in this manner, however I still see some crop up here and there and it puzzles me to no end. There must have been some reason for the designers to allow their games to end this way, if anything just pure laziness towards the end of development, but every time I come across it the value of both the overall game and the time I put into their creation is lessened, and I wonder why they do not want me to have some kind of compensation for all my effort. I just want some closure dammit.   read

4:33 PM on 05.14.2012

Why Skyrim Has Been One of the Most Frustrating Games Iíve Played

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a massive open world role-playing game released in 2011, receiving critical acclaim across the board and winning the Game of the Year awards from ten different ceremonies. It took over three years to create by a team of 100 designers working for one of the top game studios in employment today. Its plotline and gameplay have roots in fantasy and medieval settings, and allows the player to use a range of weapons and magic and become a part of factions ranging from werewolves to assassins. Everything about Skyrim shows that it would quickly become one of my favorite games, however through two different attempts to play I have become so frustrated with the game that I have given up on ever completing and enjoying this experience.

To begin, I have to say that I have only played one other Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion, and have given up on that one just as easily as I have Skyrim. I have played Fallout and Fallout 3, another gaming series created by Bethesda, and adore both of these games. In addition, I do not own Skyrim; in fact, I am playing it on a Playstation 3 that is also not my own, and the first game Iíve ever played on the PS3. The fact that I do not own the game, am not playing it on a PC, my system of choice, and that I am playing it on a system that I overall do not enjoy may have something to do with my bitterness towards the game. But I swear, I really did try and give it a chance, but Skyrim screwed me over not once, but two times.

The first time I attempted to play Skyrim I entered in blissful ignorance, excited to play a sandbox style game that had be enormously hyped months before its release. And hey, the Fallout games are great, and I had a momentarily lapse of memory as to my past experienced with Elder Scrolls games. So I happily went through the slightly dull introductory sequence with high hopes, only to hit one of my frustrations before I even finished designing my character. First of all, I am playing this game on a 48Ē projector television and I cannot read any of the menu type unless I am sitting inches from the screen. I understand trying to leave the majority of the screen for the games action, but I cannot read the important information necessary to build and customize my character, let alone all of the menu information necessary for later quest completions and customization. Also, as I have mentioned before, I am less than familiar with the Playstation systems, so the controller button placement took a little time getting used to. Too much time, Iím afraid, to allow for me accidentally calling my character the default name ďPrisonerĒ, with no alert box in sight making sure that was the name I had wanted.

The second half of my first experience with Skyrim led me to the small village of Riverwood, where I was told I would receive the first quest of many on my way to Skyrim legend. As it just so happens, the first encounter in the village was with this sweet little girl, who basically tells me to fuck off even before I initiate conversation. Sidenote: I have played very little of the game, as I will get into later, but have watched two of my housemates get pretty far in it, so I feel safe to ask why does every character in Skyrim either act like a total douche or try to make a pass at you? Well, while Iím *not* usually the violent type, someone needs to teach this little brat some manners, so I swung my brand new mace at her stupid smirking face. Thatís when I stumbled upon the lovely fact that children are invincible in Skyrim. And their parents donít take it too kindly to strangers swinging maces at them. So, a slight overreaction to a snide comment has the entire village lighting torches against me. So once again I had to cut my way through angry villagers (if I had a dollar every time that happened), and the last one standing was my quest giver, Halof. Well, he wasnít in the mood for quest giving, but after a little spat I had him on his knees. But what do you know; he gets right back up and comes at me again. After three more deaths I realize that this guy isnít going away, so I run from Riverwood, basically ending any chances of advancing in the main quest before even starting.

Such ends my first, albeit short, experience with Skyrim. Iíll admit it, my strategy in the game wasnít to be desired, however itís slightly ridiculous that the main quest of a game can pretty much be eliminated by one swing of the sword (or mace). The beginning sequence in itself took over an hour to complete, only to find myself in sort of a hole without a roadmap as to where I should travel next. So I basically spent the next few hours wandering around the never-ending expanse of the Skyrim world, mercing mud crabs and bandits and what have you, until I go so bored without a single direction to take that I placed the game aside, for a time.

This initial experience left a bad taste in my mouth for a couple months, but currently I sit in between the limbo of college graduation and the beginning of my next job, so time is abundant and seeking to be filled with gratuitous game playing. So I figured what the hey, Iíll give Skyrim another chance. Maybe this time Iíll be more discrete, build up my characters strengths more and then, return to Riverwood for the rematch of the century. This time I make sure I enter my characters name in correctly and begin my quest. Again.

And once again I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the size of the text. How can I not read anything on a 48Ē television without sitting close enough to ensure blindness by the time I reach age 30? But no, I must push forward. Skyrim still deserves a second chance. After the hours I spent watching my housemates play this game, I had a better inkling as to where to go and what to do, yet I still found it difficult to complete even the simplest quests in adequate time. One of my first quests was to become part of the Companions, however for the first two hours I spent my time squinting at the screen, trying to read the building names in each village and city, the choices given when I initiated conversation, and the ridiculously complicated yet similar names of the characters. I mean seriously, Jorrvaskr, Vignar, and Vilkas? Did the designers just take a Scrabble game and fling all the letters at a wall, naming places and characters after where the letters fall? And not only that, when seeking a certain character out, no one happens to know where they are, and their positions change every few hours anyway for me to nail a certain character down. I understand the game is trying to create the feeling of a bustling city, where people are going about their everyday lives, but you got to throw me a bone or something.

After a few hours of frustratingly travelling back and forth through Whiterun, completing these boring tasks for the Companions that constantly say that each member is their own man yet they have to run stupid errands for each other, I finally was given a quest I could sink my teeth into (no pun intendÖ ah shit, it was intended), I leave Whiterun and sprint in the direction of my next destination, only to find the game had hit a bug, propelling my character forward even when I release the joystick, right into the conveniently placed bonfire directly in front of me. At this point I was slightly peeved, however I didnít get too far, and hopefully I would start my game again in Whiterun to retry the quest, so I waited. And waited. And waited. I sat there staring at a model of a stupid mud crab for twenty minutes until I threw my hands up in frustrations and shut the PS3 down, never to return to this game that ate up my time with useless quests and anti-user game play. Another Sidenote: As a game designer, I really do like the idea of having the models shown during loading screens. It really allows us to examine what content is really used in a professional game. But I really hate loading screens.

One final note from my overall experience with Skyrim; the environment of the game. The world of Skyrim is really beautiful, and I found myself in awe more often than not during my limited time in the game. It is extremely impressive how they were able to create such a vast, detailed landscape that can be explored almost entirely during game play. That being said, travelling across this world for game plays sake is exhausting. I just want to behead some skeletons and bandits, not have to spend hours travelling from one city to the next, being startled by stupid elk every ten feet of the way, hoping that itís an enemy I can battle. In addition, the sections of the game the player should be spending most of their time in, the dungeons, like to take a page from the book of popular game color schemes: brown, grey, and darker brown. While at that time I was a pro at squinting at the screen, I still had to do it in every room, trying to pick out important treasures from the similarly colored and shaped rocks and remains.

So there ends my short yet greatly exasperating experience with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Iím sure my experience is in the vast minority, and I have nothing against the critical acclaim the game has gotten since its release, however itís worth noting that I have had nothing less than a irritating experience with the game and have no desire to continue that experience. For a game that was created by a team of 100 designers by a company that holds no less than a shining sport in my heart, I was immensely disappointed with Skyrim. Itís dark and hard to see dungeons, small, unintelligible lettering, extended loading screens in a time where loading screens have all but disappeared, and random and infuriating bugs throughout the game have left me with little regard for the game. Ah well, I guess I'll stick to Fallout.   read

1:20 PM on 01.12.2012

Bioshock: The Little Sister Conundrum

A little over a year ago I did what many normal gamers reluctantly do during this time of year; give into the loads of insane game deals on Steam. I was always interested in the Bioshock games since their release; however I never had a powerful enough computer or the money to purchase either of them. Now, with my nifty Alienware laptop and ten dollars I was able to purchase Bioshock 1 & 2 for my gaming pleasure. After that, though, I fell into another stereotype of Steam game purchases; I didnít touch the games until months after I bought them.

With a little extra free time over the summer, I decided to finally play through the games to see if they were as good as their reviews said. And while this isnít a game review per say, I can confidently say that I enjoyed both games immensely, if not the first one a little more than the second. However while playing through the games I couldnít help notice the stark differences in my attitude towards one of the main characters in each game, the Little Sisters.

Their inclusion in the game dictated what was advertised as a sort of ďkarmaĒ system, which affected the outcome of the game depending on how you interacted with the Little Sisters. Basically you had the choice of harvesting them for more Adam, a sort of upgrade currency in the game, but killing them in the process, or saving the Little Sisters, which led to less Adam but provided other helpful perks. At the time this system of game play was relatively new to the scene, and its effect of the actual game play ended up being minimal in relation, only changing what ending your game followed.

I am not initially a heartfelt kind of guy when it comes to playing video games, alternatively more of a running over hookers in Grand Theft Auto and mercilessly killing NPCís that give me lip in Elder Scrolls. So, evidently, when I heard that I would receive more of this precious Adam just by killing these little girls that I had no other affectionate connection to, my decision ended up being a no brainer. And after I finished playing through the first Bioshock, harvesting any Little Sister I could get my hands on, I was still relatively pleased with the alternative ending that I received from my heinous actions.

This would be a boring end to the article if I had not continued on to Bioshock 2 after completing the first. The storyline of the second game follows a Big Daddy, the hulking body guards of the Little Sisters in Rapture, who had his Little Sister taken away from him and was left for dead by the heartless Sophia Lamb. This brings me to the first surge of humanity handed down by this game, and it will not be the last. The Little Sisters that I stayed relatively disconnected from in the first game had a new face, one of a cute, helpless little girl who depended on me for protection.

Now in the first Bioshock, my ability to kill these seemingly innocent children was my ability to not become attached to them as characters. It was very easy in the situations the storyline put me in; an outsider looking only to get home, surrounded by a strange and hostile environment. These Little Sisters had what I needed to survive and escape, and itís not like they were completely helpless. I was destined for multiple trips to the Vita-Chamber as I tried to defeat their bulking protectors. And it didnít help that when I finally beat the Big Daddy and grabbed the Little Sister for her Adam, I was forced to look at this:

Yes, Bioshock did little to sway me from widespread child genocide. But along came Bioshock 2, and a sign that I might actually have a heart. First of all, the design of the Little Sister was changed significantly between the games, which might have been determined by a better graphics engine or the attempt to make them seem more human, and I struggle to find another way to describe them other than ďfrigginí cuteĒ. It didnít help that when I picked one of them up for the first time, with Sinclair in my ear urging me to harvest her for the copious amounts of Adam, she looked at me with her innocent, yellow eyes and trusting smile, completely oblivious to the internal struggle I had to kill or save her.

One of the reasons why I made my decision is just that; the Little Sisters in this game are just so damn trusting. I mean, here I come, this hulking, metal man running through a deteriorating city, gunning down any living thing I come across, while she watches helplessly while the closest thing she has to a father does mortal combat with me, and after he ultimately falls she runs up to the side of his lifeless shell of a body, probably traumatized for life after seeing him slain in front of her, and I lug towards her, breathless and bleeding, giving this innocent little girl no reason to think Iím not going to rip her head off without a second thought. But then she looks up at me like this:

I mean COME ON. And not only that, but before I have a chance to decide whether I want to harvest or save this adorable, helpless child to sate my bloodthirsty urge for Adam, I can adopt her as my own, carrying her on my shoulders as I escort her through dying Rapture to help gather even more of this Adam for me. I become to her the Big Daddy that seconds before she just watched me destroy, protecting her from the Splicers and giving her just as much agony upon my death as the one before me. And even after that, once I have used her up for my less than admirable purposes, I can still chose to harvest her, as if the Adam she just gathered for me and the little Iíll receive for saving her isnít enough.

No, I may be a cynic at times, but there are some places when I can draw the line. So, the same person who didnít think twice about killing innocent children just one game ago canít stomach the idea now, because damn you Bioshock 2, the Little Sisters are just too cute, and I have some sort of personal view against betraying such a strong sense of trust. And hey, over the course of the game, the lesser Adam I received for saving them was replaced by other perks, such as gifts of more Adam and helpful Plasmids from the grateful little girls. So I was content with my choice.

And then I beat Bioshock 2. And Iím still content; I saved my own Little Sister as well as the others from the underwater grave of Rapture and I felt warmth in my heart. But I had to check, like I did at the end of the game before this one, what ending did I miss by declining to harvest the little sisters? I enjoyed the first games ending even after my terrible deeds, was this ending the same? And lo and behold, *spoiler alert* activated, if I had harvested all of the Little Sisters, my own, older Little Sister would have adopted my heartless world view and used it to conquer the surface world as her own. AWESOME. Thank you, developers of Bioshock, for making me feel again, even if you have stripped away one of my dreams in the process. Damn you and your cute Little Sisters, damn you.   read

7:50 PM on 07.19.2011

LoZ:OoT: The Water Temple - So Universally Debated, It Needs It's Own Review

I like to consider myself a "gamer". The tag of gamer brings up another whole debate, but in my opinion a gamer is someone who is passionate about games and their design. Yes, leave it to someone commonly deemed a gamer to give it such a positive description, but a 35 year old man-child who still lives in his parents basement can still be considered a gamer in my eyes, as that is the most passionate (albeit sad) way one can experience video games. But I myself, with the lack of a dingy room in the basement, am a gamer, and yet up until a few months ago I had a terrible secret.

Duh duh duhhhhhhhhh!

I never played The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. There, I said it. So I decided to finally do something about this horrible burden and finally play the game. Once again, I can open another can of worms with my opinion about this game (BRILLIANT!), but this is not the topic of this post (and I haven't beaten it yet). However, as one who never played the game before now, I still knew a good amount about it, whether from conversations with friends or internet references, I gained knowledge over the years about the contents of this beloved game. And one of the most debated and commonly known parts of LoZ:OoT is the Water Temple level.
As soon as I removed my Iron Boots and floated up to the surface, the dreaded name of this temple shining across my television screen, I thought of all the things I heard about this level over the years. Impossible, the most difficult in the game, frustrating, annoying, all kinds of negative buzzwords would be thrown around. I realized this overall hatred was caused by the necessity of putting on and taking off the Iron Boots throughout the temple. How it was tedious to go to the start screen and choose the desired boots. How the entire level consisted of pressing start, putting them on, sinking, pressing start, taking them off, rising. So tedious. (FYI, I'm playing it on the N64, not the 3DS).
However as I began my journey through the (then) feared dungeon, I found one thought overpowering my remembrance of these reviews of the level: WOW. This level was breathtaking; the sweet serenade of the calm waters, the amazingly detailed architecture, the soothing sounds. I was actually ENJOYING my experiences in the Water Temple. And this, above all, was surprising.

We all float on okay...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be a heretic and be all, "Oh, everyone else must be terrible at this game, I find no challenge at all." Let me say this, I did have to cheat a little. Sometimes the placement of the dungeon keys were near impossible for me to find without seeking a little push in the right direction. The one under the rising pillar in the middle area was overall the hardest to find. But my expectations were risen so much by the years of criticism about this dungeon, that I was thoroughly underwhelmed when I finally found the boss key. I stood there for a while, thinking, this is it?
One thing I can say about the game so far through my first ever time playing it is that the level designs are perfect. They flow seamlessly from one room to the other, silently guiding you to the next treasure. Every part of the levels seemed to fit like a puzzle piece, not one section out of place or egregious. And I felt the same about the Water Temple. I barely noticed myself putting on and taking off the Iron Boots, as I was more focused on the soothing rising and sinking of Link, the reflection and movement of the water on the temple structures. The dungeon mysteriously commanded me when to use the boots, where to go, what to do next. I didn't think they were being overused, or that I was constantly changing to transverse a small section of the dungeon. In my opinion, it could have been much worse (and I expected it to be).
I did find two things annoying about the water temple; the separation of places you could change the water levels, and the succession of locked doors. To raise and lower the water, I had to travel almost from one end of the dungeon to the other, and for a while in the beginning I had no idea how I was supposed to do it (I totally missed the symbol on the wall, they should have made that more prominent). I addition, I found myself cursing when I opened a door with a key and traveled across some dangerous terrain (the rising and falling blocks over the waterfall, anyone?) and found out that I needed another key to finish this section. Then I would have to go all the way back and raise and lower the water and try and find the key I missed. It got a little tiring after a while.

There you are! Now obey me waters, cause I am your master!

But again, I still expected a little more of a challenge. From the tense opening scene in the dungeon to the surprisingly underwhelming battle with Shadow Link (after failing to defeat his strategically the first time, I just button mashed until he was defeated the second) to the even more underwhelming final battle with Morpha (again, failed the first time, kept my distance the second), I found myself more and more doubting the validity of what I had heard about the level and more and more learning to enjoy it. Which I did, and when looking back I can now safely say that I enjoyed the Water Temple more than all the other levels I had played up to it.

Its like I'm fighting... myself! Whoa...

In conclusion, I just felt like I should be one of the few people to voice my positive thoughts on this highly debated level, for I feel like I hear more about the negative reactions and those who did enjoy the Water Temple and didn't find it as difficult or annoying as the vast majority seem to are drowned out. Once again, I am not trying to argue for arguments sake, in my opinion I found the Fire Temple harder and the battle with Volvagia one of the hardest boss battle I EVER experienced, I am just saying that I expected something more from everything I heard and didn't experience it. I enjoyed the Water Temple, it was calming where the Fire Temple was stressful and the Forest Temple suspenseful. I guess I can never know how good or bad a game or level is without experiencing it myself, and I am truly joyful that I finally get to play this masterpiece of a game. Now onward to the Shadow Temple...   read

3:13 PM on 08.04.2008

Music of the Mushrooms: Les Claypool

You all have heard my opinion on the new game Madworld, but there is one other game in production out there that has me even more pumped then the bloody black-n-white; and that' Mushroom Men, developed by none other than Gamecock. Why so pumped, you ask? Well, it could be the largely explorable and beautiful worlds. Or it could be the ability to create your own weapons using human leftovers, such as pencils and paperclips. Or it could be the awesome setting and plot. It could be. But, its definitely one thing; and that's the games music being created by none other than Les Claypool.

Yes, that Les Claypool. The Les Claypool from Primus. The legendary bassist and quaint lead singer. Not only is Primus one of my favorite bands, but having Les do the music for this game is probably the greatest things that has ever happened. Nobody else could make the music for a game based around living mushrooms. I can't wait to chuck this game into my Wii and listen to the psychedelic background hums as I play. I mean, who else can you have create the music for a game about MUSHROOMS if he's not from PRIMUS. Yea, you see where I'm going.

Mushroom Men will be a great game even without the addition of Les Claypool. But this guy is just what Gamecock needs to bring this game into awesomeness. I'm looking forward to this game. Can't wait.   read

10:57 AM on 07.30.2008

Does Anyone Still Read Nintendo Power?

Now I practically grew up on this magazine, and I still subscribe to it today. But I've seen many of my friends who used to read it cancel their subscriptions and when I miss a payment and need to pick up the month I missed I find it real hard to locate a store that sells it. GameStop and EB Games don't sell it anymore, as well as Best Buy. It seems that if I want to find one without subscribing I have to go to Borders or Barnes and Nobles. Why has my precious Nintendo Power fallen so? Now they celebrate their 20th anniversary, but will it last 20 more years? In my opinion the writers at Nintendo Power remind me of the ones here at Destructoid, they're both funny and informative. I get all of my Nintendo fanboy info from that magazine,and I just need to know is anyone still reads it. Are they so hard to find because nobody buys them or do the people at GameStop and EB Games just have their heads too far up their asses? So does anyone read Nintendo Power here? Hello? Anyone?

ANYONE?   read

10:05 PM on 07.29.2008

Anyone Else Freakin' Exited for "Madworld?"

Cause I sure am. Now, lets face it, as much as I love Nintendo, I've been kinda disappointed with the lack of quality games over the summer. I mean, the only game I found good enough to buy was "No More Heroes", but I never got around to it (I will). But, lo and behold, I'm am really exited about the recent announcement of the new game from the independent developer PlatinumGames and Sony, "Madworld." And oh man, does it look awesome.

Literally, its LOOKS awesome. Its has the definite Frank Miller look with the black and white, and it reminds me of the movie 'Sin City' (based off of the comics by said mentioned) with the only color being red. From the, you know, blood. Cause this game is all M, not for those little kids and soccer moms who own much of the Nintendo Wii's. The main character is not loveable, he's all bad ass and such. The game play looks real good too, and its been confirmed that this game is all action. No pushing boxes and searching for keys. No puzzles, ACTION! AND BLOOD! Another great part is that its supposed to have lots of great weapons, as well as the ability to use the environment as one. This game is gonna rock!

After I wipe the drool from my chin, I'm gonna get to the universal look this game gives me. Another quality Mature game really gets my hopes up that this might be the first of a string of great games set to come out on my precious Wii. With "No More Heroes" getting much attention and great reviews, and hopefully "Madworld" will copy this, (what am I saying? Of course it will!) the possibilities are endless. Face it, both of these games are risk/reward, and when they succeed, maybe, just maybe, other third party developers will take those risks and make more games for the Wii.

Last but not least, I'm exited about PlatinumGames, formed by two developers who had worked on gems like Viewtful Joe and Okami, will provide more great games for the starving Wii. This game is sheer awesomeness, and hopefully it will bring more of these kind of games, though maybe not all Mature ones, in the near future. All I know is if I can impale a guys head with a road sign, I'm buying it.   read

9:24 PM on 07.29.2008

Great Band You Probably Don't Know Exists: Shinedown

I sure didn't. So one day I was watching Fuse and they had one of those countdowns for Rock music videos. If you like music and own Fuse you should watch it, I find many bands I didn't know exist on it, and sometimes they're pretty good. One of those bands is Shinedown. Now the first song of theirs I heard was the new single 'Devour'. I don't know if it was the sheer awesomeness of the song or the eerie Ozzy Osbourne lookalike lead singer, but I was hooked. So I, er, legally downloaded their discography and found out that some of their other songs aren't that bad either.

Now, as I listened to their albums, I found out that I actually was familiar with some of the songs but didn't know they were Shinedown's. Lets start with their debut album, Leave a Whisper. It's probably their weakest album. Now the song '45' is real good, but other than that its all pretty much the same. When I talk with some of my friends about this band, the term 'radio rock' comes up a lot. Now I'm not a huge fan of that term, but if you started listening to this band at their debut, you probably wrote them off as this 'radio rock', because that's what it sounds like. But wait! There's more! Stick with them!

Because in 2005 they came out with another album, having the same name as a certain psychedelic bands song from a certain multi-platinum album. (Don't know? Yea? Okay, I'll tell you.) Us and Them. And now your saying, "Mysterious stranger, if their first album was radio rock, what makes this one not?" Calm down, friend. The big difference is this album has three excellent songs on it; Heroes, Save Me, and I Dare You. Now it was weird cause when I first listened to this album I heard these songs and I recognized them, but I was like, "Wow, I didn't know these songs were sung by Shinedown." That and other quality songs makes this my favorite of their albums.

And last but not least is their recent album, The Sound of Madness. This album starts off with the still awesome 'Devour', which, if you don't know, is about the Iraqi War. Yea. This song is followed by other great songs, like 'Sound of Madness', 'The Crow and the Butterfly', and 'Sin With a Grin.' This is definitely a great album, and the lead signer is solid.

So there you are, a great band you probably didn't know existed. Or did. Whatever.   read

8:55 PM on 07.16.2008

E3 '08: What Happened?!?!!?

As I sit in sheer excitement while I wait for more blogs about E3 to come in on the home blog, I find myself musing about the state of my beloved gaming convention. I used to plan out the three or so days in July where I would not have to leave the room containing our 42" plasma screen, knowing that all the info about the gaming world over the next year would be shown to my previewing pleasure through those HD rays of goodness. Now, in order to get my E3 fix, the only thing I can do is check in on the Destructoid homepage a couple of times a day. That's it. Three days that pass by just like any other day, only with a few more interesting blogs. What happened?!?!!?

E3 was downgraded faster then I had ever seen. One year it was the same E3, all chock full of gaming news and goodies. Every developer was pushing and shoving to show the masses their new game in development for that year. E3 was supposed to be the Olympics of the gaming world. You trained all year for this time in the spotlight. Only here would the whole gaming world be able to see the new games that will be coming out soon with ease. And then, over two short years, my dear E3 has shrunk into another bland gaming convention, with big name developers dropping like flies out of the competition, and where the convention center it's held in advertising the event with one measly banner.

I blame the internet. It has become loads easier for the average gamer to easily receive the information one needed to learn about new games coming out. All of the secrets that developers were saving for E3 can be found on a random day in the c-blogs. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but today's quick-fix world has become one of the main reasons the species of giant gaming conventions will soon be extinct.

Now, what evolves from the dying breed of the E3's of the world is the smaller, more common gaming conventions like Penny Arcade and EIEIO. Developer's are even starting to create their own conventions to reveal their even more kept secret games in development to the masses. As a child I always dreamed of walking into that huge building where every corner contained flashy and fascinating booths, which contained many people trying to show us why we should look forward to their games. Now all that jazzy advertising is unnecessary, because the only way most of the gaming world will get info about their games is through a stray article on the likes of Destructoid and 1up. Now the average gamer looking for his E3 news has to *gasp* read!

Now, as I revisit my pathetic state as I nod off in the wee hours of the morning hoping another article will come in and give me what I want (more BK hands-on! resident evil 5 gameplay!) I have that time to reflect on what this tiny famous-through-name-only event once was. When you've got someone like me, who dreams of being in the gaming industry when I grow up, you tend to mourn the death of something that once meant a lot in the hearts of the residents of that industry, of that world of gaming.

R.I.P E3, and can I please get some Animal Crossing Wii news?   read

10:05 PM on 07.11.2008

Friday Night Fights: Movie Villains Edition

So I was checking my mail when I came across this article about 25 of the best movie villains of all time. My love for movies is only proceeded by my love for video games, and I like me some move villains. However, though there are some great villains on the list, I was somewhat disappointed about the characters that made the cut. Below I have listed a few of my personal favorite movie villains. Feel free to comment on some of your favorites, and maybe I'll be able to scrap together a little tournament of great movie villains. TO THE DEATH!

1. Hannibal Lecter: By far the greatest villain of all time. Not only is he intelligent and clever, he is also the spookiest guy to be around. He was always one step ahead of the cops. While watching Silence of the Lambs, I actually rooted for him because he was so cool. But behind those mystifying eyes is the brain of a madman.

2. Harry Powell: Not only is Night of the Hunter a great movie, but what makes it so cool is the villain Harry Powell. With love and hate tattooed on his knuckles, he spurts out Bible verse and spooks me just as much as he does those kids he's chasing.

3. Hans Gruber: Pretty much any villain played by Alan Rickman is great, and the Die Hard villain is no exception. He and his henchmen take many hostages and use this to embezzle millions, but Rickman's droning speech is what makes Gruber so evil.

4. Chigurgh: Greatest. Movie. Ever. No Country for Old Men is pretty much made by Javier Bardem's Oscar winning performance of the psychopath who lives by his own rules. This villain is so great because he has no morals. Nothing in his mind stops him from killing anyone. Even when not killing, like in the gas station scene, Chigurgh is the most chilling person, let alone villain. Awesome.

5, The Joker: Even before seeing the movie, I know Heath Ledger's take on The Joker in The Dark Knight will go down as one of the greatest villains of all time. Though I adore Jack Nicholson's Performance in Tim Burton's masterpiece, I feel that Ledger really captures The Joker's psychopathic need for destruction. Can't wait for this movie.

So there you are. Some of my favorite movie villains. Agree? Disagree? Think I missed one?   read

11:30 PM on 07.07.2008

The Little Things That Make Pokemon Great (Red/Blue Edition)

So I found out about a month ago that my Crystal version that I spent 120+ hours on and had all 252 Pokemon in it got corrupted, so all of that work is nil and void. *sniff* AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!1!!!!!!!!! *sigh* ... Anywho, this got me back to playing that addictive game of Pokemon in hopes to accomplish this feat. Again. Well, this brought me in transition back to playing Red version again. After playing for a while and reading Jim Sterling's recent blogs on Pokemon, I got to thinking though there are some strange elements of the game that can be bothersome, there are also some small, sometimes unnoticed elements of Pokemon great.

1. Trainers in themselves were a great part of the Pokemon games. You always would associate certain trainers with certain Pokemon. Bikers had Poison type, Guitarists had Electric type, Bird Trainers had, er... what did they have again? Nevermind. But another great part about those Trainers was the way the prize money accociated with them. Gentlemen were filthy rich, so when you defeated thier Pikachus and Growlithes you got some great pot, er, Pokeball money. However, those fucking annoying swimmers never had any good cash, even though they consisted of 99% of the Trainers. Though it's cool in a way because how would swimmers hold money anyway?

2. Pokemon was a twisted RPG, one of the many genres given to the game. The greatest part was the updated dungeon crawling scenario given to caves, forests, etc in the world of Pokemon. You traveled through these long, winding, dead-end places, facing wild Pokemon every step and dumbass Trainers that spend their days just hanging in the darkest part of the cave. Sometimes you were lucky, and found items or even Legendary Pokemon. Most of the time you just got annoyed.

3. You ever notice how gyms are never real gyms? It's weird how you think of Pokemon gyms and never really see the basic elements of a real-life gym. No weights, no machines, no buff guy who distracts the hot girl from you. There's just a bunch of Trainers with one type of Pokemon, sometimes elaborate traps and puzzles to the gym leader. None of these people are really gymmin' in the real sense of the word. How do they keep so fit in the Pokemon world if gyms aren't what they're supposed to be?

4. Pokemon tried very hard to make the world of these games seem as real as possible. And it worked. You walk in the forest, you encounter bugs and birds. In the cave you see living rocks and bats. In the water you find fish, squids and such. The different creatures just seem to fit in the places you find them. However, you also get the surreal part of Pokemon through their world also. You would never go out and through colored balls at purple rats or snakes. That just might get you maimed. You also don't want to set those kind of creatures on other people (at least without avoiding a lawsuit). This connection really makes Pokemon a great game. Its like real world on acid, and that's just the kind of world I want to live in.   read

5:30 PM on 07.01.2008

Start of the Affair: Banjo-Kazooie

Unfortunately, I entered the gaming world later then most. The first game I played was not on the NES, not even the SNES. The very first video game I played was on the Nintendo 64, and it featured a certain dim-witted bear and smart-talking bird.

I played Banjo-Kazooie for the first time over my friends house during a birthday sleepover. He had received that and Mortal Kombat for the 64, and my thirst for bloody games hadn't matured yet, so the mild bear-based game got my attention. It was probably the most fun I ever had up to that time. And luck would have it on Christmas of that year...

My parents surprised me and my brother by getting us a Nintendo 64. Among some games unable to be mentioned (A Bugs Life) and others which started whole other affairs (Super Smash Bros, Paper Mario), Banjo-Kazooie exited me the most. I couldn't wait to pop that game in and continue the oodles of fun I had playing it over my friend's house. Banjo-Kazooie, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. It quickly turned into my favorite game and the one game that I have played over and over without boredom. Rare was definitely at the top of their game when they released Banjo-Kazooie. The great dialogue, the creative puzzles, the all around individuality which this game contained. For starters, it features a bear with a bird in his backpack! You learn different moves from a mole! JINJOS!

From the beginning to the memorable final battle, Banjo-Kazooie began the long road of my obsession with video games. The creativity and design of this game started my affair with game design and animation. This excellent game was followed by another great one in Banjo-Tooie. Many different games and a few system generations later, Rare is about to release another one, and although they abandoned Nintendo and I'm not really exited about what they've shown so far, the awesomeness of the first installment revives my expectations of this game. But that's for another story... Anywho, if it wasn't for that unforgettable bear and bird, my love for video games and hopefully future success in the gameindustry would not be possible.   read

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