Look here, kid. I'm Nicky Austin and I'm about to rock your world. and by rock your world, I mean I'm about to weird you out at some point with my odd brand of humor, but what the hell, that's what Destructoid's for, right?
My favorite games (in no order, because this is the thunderdome, motherfucker.)
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Super Mario Galaxy & Super Mario Galaxy 2
Donkey Kong Country
Resident Evil 4
and more to come in the future!
Favorite bands (because I like music, obviously)
Ling Tosite Sigure
Between the Buried and Me
Fall Out Boy
If you want to know more about me, you can get to know me on Twitter, Wii U, and whatever else! just come talk to me!
Final Fantasy almost prevented my existence. My father was so enamored with the game and the downright addictive qualities it and the whole JRPG genre contained, that he stayed up late at night leveling up his characters and slaying any enemy that dared cross his path. My dad loved Final Fantasy, but there was one thing that he would throw that entire experience away for: my mom. She was so fed up with his late night gaming tendencies that she threatened to leave him. My dad then realized he couldnít ruin his relationship with his girlfriend over some Japanese game that ultimately didnít mean anything in the grand scheme of things. So he toned it down, let my mom sit down with some Lolo action on the NES, and went on with his life.
In the year of 1995, a child was born. This child was the light of all creation, the savior of every living being, and source of the greatest entertainment mankind has ever known. This child was Earthbound. Oh, and I was born that year too. I was born smack-dab in the middle of the Super Nintendo age, and you know my cool dad was on top of that Super Mario World business. I donít remember much of my really early childhood, but I could assure you that I was amazed at the 16-bit Japanese goodness on the screen. It was the beginning of a deep-rooted love between me and the games old Japanese dudes threw at meÖ figuratively. Cartridges hurt, dude.
In the totally-safe-not-world-ending year of 2000, I was coming home from a long, hard day of Kindergarten; Naptime is serious shit. When I arrived home, I was ecstatic to say the least. In the living room lay an entire team set of Power Rangers action figures and the technological marvel that was the Nintendo 64. That shit rocked my whole world. It wasnít even my birthday, my parents just decided that on this day I should be the happiest human alive, and holy shit was I happy. Pokemon Stadium 2 and Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue (I really liked Power Rangers, alright?) were my first games, and they continued to be my first games for a good 6 months.
While both of those games were fun, after a while I decided it was time for some more games. So I begged, begged, and begged some more. My parents never really budged on the issue, and understandably so because games were expensive as fuck back then. The situation was looking pretty dire until the heavens opened up and angels came down to close down Blockbuster for good in the area. Games went on sale, my parents bought some stuff, and I sat in the car wondering what games they would pick. I was only five, so I had no idea what was worth getting. Good thing my dad has excellent taste. The car doors opened, and in came my hulking goliath of a father with a bundle of six Nintendo 64 games. The games were Pokemon Stadium, Wave Race 64, Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario 64.†
Those games wholly shaped my taste in video games through elementary and middle school. Hell, they helped shape my taste in games in general, and I thank Nintendo for that. Nintendo was the catalyst for some really magical times like my father and Iís first playthrough of Ocarina of Time which ended in a hilarious way by way of my little brother accidentally deleting our file right after we reached Ganonís Castle. This carried over to the Gamecube age which really influenced me in a visual sense. Games like Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and Viewtiful Joe opened my eyes to cel-shading, which to this day is still my favorite graphical style. The clean textures and loud colors really resonated with me at the age of nine or ten and still resonate with me now. Because of those games, I am still drawn to bright, colorful cel-shaded or pixel art graphics a lot easier than I am realistic graphics.†
My love for Nintendo charged on forward at a breakneck pace when I started watching E3, and boy did I start at the right time. When I saw the words ďNintendo RevolutionĒ appear on the screen in front of me with this foreign, strange device accompanying it, I was completely and utterly bamboozled. So many questions entered my mind. How do I even play that? THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TWILIGHT PRINCESS? Why is Reggie suddenly the coolest guy Iíve ever seen? At that moment, I knew I was hooked. Iíve watched every E3 since then and I have been completely enamored with not only the games, but the games industry, and I have E3 to thank for that.
Around when I was in middle school, it started to get hard to blindly love Nintendo. After a couple years of games like Wii Sports Resort and Animal Crossing being my only sought after exclusives, it came time to diversify. I got a PS3 (that ended up breaking, the damned thing...) and started discovering truly awesome games like God of War and Uncharted. I borrowed a friendís PS2 and played through Persona 3, which is a stellar game and I still need to play its sequel. I got a steam account, and that probably ranks in my top five best decisions in my life so far due to its awesome community and even better deals. I still loved Nintendo, donít get me wrong. I picked up Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Skyward Sword at launch, and my 3DS XL and Wii U are two of my favorite things I own, even if the Wii U has like four games worth owning right now. Through this diversification, however, I started to come to a massive realization about video games and how I play them.
It wasnít until a couple years back that I really started seeing video games as an art form and looked at games in a critical light. I realized that games can make me feel the same emotions television, books, and actual life events could. It was games like Wind Waker, Mother 3, The Walking Dead, and Hotline Miami that really opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes games are playthings, and sometimes they have something to say. Through this, I have really taken an interest to the people behind the games, the people that make the games work and bring it to public light. I also realized that some games are just shit, while other games absolutely are not. I began to look at why games are bad and good a lot more closely. Both of these realizations really changed how I play on a daily basis.
After E3 2012, I decided to look into how I can be a part of the gaming industry, particularly gaming journalism and/or gaming criticism. I obviously like to write, and video games are one of the things I take an interest in the most in my life, so why not do it as a career? So I started a blog on the beautiful Destructoid Community Blogs about three of the most magical games I have ever played and as a result, I have met some of the coolest people in the world. Gaming has entertained me my whole life and now I would love to be a part of that world. My gaming story has only just begun and I have a whole life of carefully timed button presses and screens entertaining me ahead and that honestly excites me to no end.
It was the summer of my 6th grade year and I had just gotten home from a local game store where I bought True Crime: Streets of LA. I spent almost all night shooting thugs and running over people because I was completely blown away by the game's open world gameplay. I was a Nintendo kid through and through at that time, (Steam and Sony have spoiled me) so I had never gotten a chance to play Grand Theft Auto 3 or any of it's sequels. This was my first foray into the genre and my last for a while. There just aren't that many good open world games out there for Nintendo consoles.
So let's fast forward to last week when Sleeping Dogs, a game that was on my radar because of how much fun it looked. I had no idea about it's ties to the game that took my summer away six years ago, but I just knew I had to get in the city of Hong Kong and take down some triads. At a price like $12.49, it was a game I simply could not resist.
Sleeping Dogs follows Wei Shen who is an undercover cop that has ties to the Sun On Yee, one of the biggest triads in Hong Kong. Along the way he will ascend the ranks of the Sun On Yee to finally take down the big wigs behind the whole operation, the red poles, and greatly reduce the crime rate in Hong Kong as a result. His journey introduces you to many different, interesting people. Some take their illegal work very seriously, some just want to have a good time, and some aren't sure if the triad life is one they want to lead.
Wei Shen as a protagonist is kind of boring. He always takes the high road and things don't really ramp up for him as a character until around the last couple of missions. He is always the straight man in any exchange of words or bullets, taking the high road whenever possible. I mean he is a fine cop, but I would have loved to see him do some batty gangster shit as well.
The other characters are a completely different story, however. Sleeping Dogs features one of the most colorful supporting casts I have seen in any game. There are characters in this game like Dogeyes to absolutely hate, Jackie Ma to depend on, Winston Chu to respect, and Old Salty Crab to laugh hysterically at. Almost all of the supporting cast has something to contribute to the story and it's awesome, it's also one of the many things Sleeping Dogs does right.
You will fuck people up in Sleeping Dogs. No, like really fuck people up. Seriously, there are times when you throw dudes in furnaces and hook them like meat. You can kill a man with a fish. I don't even have anything else to say. That's ridiculous.
The combat in this game is fucking great. Your three basic buttons are the attack, grab, and counter buttons and these can be used to perform some really great kung fu movie-style combos. It takes a while to get used to, but when you do, it's one of the most satisfying combat systems out there right now.
Another thing that's super solid is the driving, which also has it's own twists to offer. Driving isn't too realistic like Gran Turismo, and it's not slippery like that fish you just killed a motherfucker with either. It's just right. There are certain points (many points) in the game that will pit you against a group of enemies in a high speed chase, where you can jump car to car (and it works like a dream, don't fret) and shoot the tires off of enemy vehicles to just annihilate them.
The shooting segments are just pretty okay, though. It works just fine, but the cover system has some flaws. Taking cover sometimes will just not work. Wei Shen just doesn't lock on to the surface at points and it will cost you a bit of progress and time. It wasn't a huge deal but it is an issue worth noting.
Another issue has to do with some glitching, whether it be the assisting character walking into a wall until moved by Wei Shen or people clipping through things. The game is so beautiful though, especially when it's raining, that it's very easy to forgive some of those graphical glitches.
Sleeping Dogs is a wonderful open-world crime drama. It takes a lot of the cool parts of Grand Theft Auto, beat-em-up games, and action movies and puts it into one huge game and pulls it off beautifully. United Front really outdid themselves with this one and even though it's got some blemishes, I will be eagerly awaiting any sequels they decide to throw at me. Definitely worth staying up until 3 a.m. every night for a week.
Apologies for not blogging for the past month or so, I was finishing up my last semester of high school. Now that I'm all graduated and such, I have more time to play games, listen to podcasts, blog and all that fun stuff! I have a lot of stuff I'd like to talk about, including E3, so expect some more blogs coming your way!
Thanks to Niero for helping me out when I was having trouble uploading this thing!
Contact is a GBA turned DS game by the rad dudes at Grasshopper Manufacture. The same guys who gave us the excellent Killer 7 and No More Heroes. It was a mostly overlooked action JRPG that came out in 2006 to little fanfare as critics called it fairly average, not to mention it's poor sales in Japan with the release of Mother 3 around the same time.
In fact it was so overlooked, I had no idea it even existed until I saw it for six bucks at a local game store while hanging out with a friend. Even though I knew little about the game, the cool artstyle and the box's promise of monkeys and cosmic terrorists flipped a switch in my head that pretty much conducted an override on my brain and slamming six dollars on that counter to pick it up.
Let that be a tip to those in business. Put "monkeys and cosmic terrorists" in anything and this guy will buy it without even thinking.
Contact is certainly a unique game, using the dual screens in a way I don't think I've ever seen. The top screen has the professor and his pet cat thing Mochi providing support to the main character, Terry, controlled by you. This support mainly consists of giving hints and tutorials pertaining to the gameplay. The professor also loves puns. Really bad puns. Puns that he'll always be sure to tell you every five minutes. All this cool stuff on the top screen is presented in a nice, minimalist pixel-art package.
The bottom screen, however, is a completely different story. This screen is presented in a really nice detailed pixel-art format with many pre-rendered backgrounds. On this screen, you will control Terry, a boy who was plucked from his hometown when the cosmic terrorists (CosmoNOTs) attacked the professor's ship. Terry fights enemies ranging from plant snakey things to air force pilots that ran out of funds to buy planes so they run around acting like planes instead. I couldn't make that up if I tried. Terry fights these enemies to retrieve five cores for The Professor to get his ship back up and running so they can finally go home.
The contrasting art style between the top and bottom screens is easily one of the best things about this game. It really drives home the feeling that the professor and Terry are from two totally different worlds. It's an excellent design move that really hooked me into the game. I have a hard time imagining how this would work on the GBA though, since that was where this game was originally going to go. I guess we'll never know.
There is a really cool costume system in the game in which you can outfit Terry with different outfits that each have a perk. One such costume is the Chef costume which you can use to convert defeated foes into ingredients for food. Speaking of food, there is a pretty in depth cooking system in which you can combine things like water and tropical fruit to make fruit juice and meat and spices to make kebabs and shit. Cooking's cool.
Although these are all super rad things, they really aren't the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. As per usual, if a game's gameplay isn't very good, the entire game just kinda falls flat.
Unfortunately, this game kinda falls flat.
Contact is an Action-JRPG. So instead of the usual turn based combat, you just go right up to your opponents and start fighting. In Contact, you click in and out of battle stance with the B button after you choose your opponent and you just kinda... watch the battle happen, and you can use Techs to do special moves for extra damage. You can also change the direction of where your strikes hit and walk around a bit, albeit awkwardly. This system sounds pretty alright until you get in a situation where there's multiple enemies ganging up on you. The aiming and hit detection is BALLS when there's too many dudes hitting you and makes the game needlessly difficult. This wouldn't be too huge of a problem if this only happened a few times, but it happens pretty frequently and just dampens the entire experience for me.
I wanted to absolutely love this game and tell everyone to pick it up, but I just can't recommend it on the graphics and presentation alone, as much as I want to. This game reminded me so much of the Mother series and all the quirks and jokes that go along with games like that, but the difference between Contact and say, Mother 3 is that Mother 3 has a really intuitive, fair, and all-out fun combat system that makes you actually excited to beat up some pigmasks. Contact's combat just feels like a chore.
Ahhhh violence. What a beautiful thing! It's the thing we as humans find most eye catching and entertaining. Every time a fight breaks out in a school or bar, we immediately run to the location the tussle is taking place and cheer. We always root for brutality in these situations because it's something we as humans don't see very often. It's exciting because we don't know the true horror. All we know is the silly, vapid version of violence we see in movies and games.
It's kind of an adrenaline rush, isn't it, Seeing something truly extreme?
For example, let's take my high school. I am a senior (thank god almighty) and I've seen my fair share of fights in the halls and cafeterias of my rural high school. Rednecks are always wanting to pick fights with each other, and girls are feral beings when someone tries and takes their man. It just gets crazy twisted up in high school. Most of these fights mostly result in some pushing and then a teacher yelling "STOP!" and the entire thing disperses. It never gets REALLY serious. However, there was one lunch period that left us all a little scarred.
This kid wanted to get in school suspension so he picked a fight with this one guy. He really messed with the wrong guy. The stupid kid punches the tough guy a bunch and then the tough guy responds by slamming his head on the corner of the lunch table.
Over and over and over again.
There's blood everywhere, and the kid runs to the nurse's office, getting blood all over the floor. His face is all messed up, and the tough guy gets arrested. The students did not cheer that time. It was absolutely shocking to see so much blood come from a fellow classmate. The kid turned out ok, but it really bothered a bunch of the students at my school.
So what does this all have to do with videogames?
A lot, actually.
What kind of video games sell the most? The huge violent blockbuster shoot-em-up games. Games that let you just escape the world you inhabit and wreak havoc on a small polygonal world online with friends around the world. The key word there is 'escape'. Violence in video games is not something to be taken to heart at all, it's merely an exaggeration to please the consumer. Take that same consumer to Afghanistan and give him an M-16, he's a little hesitant to do some damage. It's a lot like the stuff you'd see in cartoons like Tom and Jerry. In Tom and Jerry, you'd see a cat with it's face flattened by a frying pan or thrown off a building. You didn't see any kids in the 50's mutilating their animals, did you?
I really don't think videogames are as influential into how a person acts as congressmen and southern baptist parents insist it is. It's just like any other medium of entertainment. All the violence contributes to is some eye catching entertainment. A bit of a visual aide to show players that what they're doing has some real affect on other things in the environment of the game. The only things videogames will really be shaping in young people are, at most, the things they will be more interested in as older people. Just like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time got me into all the crazy games, movies, and comics I am absorbed in now as a 17-year-old teenager.
The people that do play violent games and respond with violence and hurt those around them already had way more serious problems, in my opinion. To play a game like God of War or Bioshock Infinite and respond to the entertainment those games provide by ruining other lives and killing is way more a testament to the parenting or social environment of the individual than it is a testament to how videogames and movies ruin the mental frames of our youth.
Violence in videogames are merely superficial to me. I don't really care whether or not a game throws gallons of virtual blood in my face as long as the story or gameplay is awesome. While I do think that young children should wait until at least like 12 to play the super violent stuff, I don't really think it affects them on a mental level.
People should remember that videogames are a form of entertainment and while they can shape interests of individuals, they certainly can't take someone's psyche and throw it to the dogs. Entertainment just doesn't have that power over anyone.
After much frustration with Sony's shitty stream and Gametrailers' slightly less shitty stream, I ended up sighing a defeated "fuck it" and read all about Sony's next black box that plays video activities on Destructoid.
So what I gather is that THIS box gives us a couple more pixels to look at, and in turn, more old men to look at uncomfortably. The number 4 also tells us we should have friends and that we should share how awful we are at Kunuk or whatever the hell it's called to these friends Sony says we should have. Also, a share button is on there for kicks because... sharing is... caring?
Now, I actually think the Playstation 4 looks pretty fuckin' dope. It's got good graphics, but not updated enough to phase out my Wii U (Thank god, I got scared there for a second). The controller looks really comfortable and nice to have in my fat hands. I just hope that touchpad doesn't only get used by developers to make me swipe to knife or any of the shit Vita owners have to go through with most of the Vita library.
The sharing aspect could be something I can get behind. I've always wanted to stream or capture video of my games (winkwinkiwannadoayoutubeshowwinkwink) easily, and this looks like a pretty fuckin' easy way to do it.
In fact, this whole sharing/social network/playing with friends business kind of reminds me of my precious Wii U and Miiverse, just a few steps further. We'll just have to see if that's how it pans out or not.
Oh! Let's talk about games now!
inFamous: Second Son looks cool and Killzone Shadow Fall looks... like Killzone. Diablo III doesn't interest me in any way, Destiny looks cool, the old man Quantic Dream showed me still creeps me out, Watch Dogs is on Wii U, and Square Enix will have a game at E3 that we won't play until 2017.
Now I want to see more, Sony. Impress me at E3, Sony. Sell me a god damned black box. I just want to see more inventive and crazy as shit games. I just want to see more.
So there I was. On my computer. I had just cried my eyes out over the end of Telltale's The Walking Dead, and I see someone in a YouTube comment mention this game. A surreal, hilarious flash game.
The game was called Frog Fractions.
I decided I needed a little pick-me-up after the emotional roller-coaster I had just endured. So I load this game up, right?
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Fuckin' art, man. What's with all the games I talk about having wonderful art?
The epic tale of Frog Fractions begins in a pond.
It's pretty dang simple. You play as a frog, and he's really fucking good at fractions. See, every time he catches a bug, be it fly, butterfly, dragonfly, a whole lotta flies, with his ridiculously long tongue (Seriously, Gene Simmons has some serious competition.) fractions pop up! Later on, the fractions become scientific notation, and even sometimes you encounter a typing segment. Oh, and you collect apples, but that's not too important.You can upgrade the fractions frog with a lock-on reticle, a static tongue, the ability to turn those pesky apples to durians, and even a turtle to ride.
So eventually I'm a frog on a turtle with a static tongue and I'm kinda bored. I'm moving around, catching durians, eating bugs, and scoring major points. I've unlocked all the upgrades so far, and I have no idea what to do.
Then I pressed down and everything changed.
I score a ridiculous amount of points and that turtle is then upgraded to a dragon.I spot a warp upgrade to the side. I use it and then go skyward, because fuck it, video games.
Oh. I'm in space now.
Ok, I'm fucking sold. Where else am I going?
Frog Fractions has now gone from a joke educational game to a space shooter in a matter of five minutes or so.
The Fraction Frog and his trusty dragon companion are now shootin', eatin', and educatin' through the depths of space when a boss appears. Nope, shit's dealt with.
Ain't nobody fucks with Frog Fractions. No one.
Protect ya neck.
Anyways, the frog has just killed a man! Duh, that's what happens when you shoot people out of goddamn space.
So now our friend has to go to court.
That's all I'll be telling you guys about Frog Fractions and it's absurdities. What I've put in this blog is only the tip of the hilarious iceberg the dudes at Twinbeard made. The game is great, it's a truly unique experience that will surprise you and have you laughing hysterically by it's end. It's only like a 30-40 minute game, anyways, so whaddya got to lose?
So what are you waiting for? Frog Fractions is completely free and browser based! So you don't even have to download this thing! One thing you should download though is the excellent soundtrack that totally made me all happy inside.
So yeah, Frog Fractions was the perfect pick-me-up.