Oculin, known in the realm of the living as Benjamin Toy Yoder, is a college student majoring in journalism and professional writing. He likes to pretend to be a vidjya game journalist and, at the very least, has successfully tricked a few people into believing him, landing him gigs at VGChartz, Classic Game Room Empire and TheSpeedGamers.
Digging for gems in unknown or poorly received titles is what Oculin games for. He places a large emphasis on entertainment, rather than just polish. He also has an unhealthy interest in creepy Japanese idol games, despite never playing one.
Anime, visual novels and manga are also hobbies of his, although he is incredibly picky and very rarely takes recommendations.
The Wii was my favorite console the last generation. That's not a ridiculous proposition if you think about all the first party successes the platform had with Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and other big Nintendo franchises. Where my love of the system does get a little strange is that I prefer the Wii's third party titles over other consoles.
When it comes down to overall quality, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had a consistent flow of AAA third-party content, especially in the later years of their life. Most third party Wii titles ended up being these B or C level experiences that needed more time to come together, or were just a bad combination of ideas from the start.
What set the Wii apart was not only a new control scheme, but a whole new audience for the market. Most consumers bought the Wii for Wii Sports, and were largely inexperienced beyond those four mini-games. Third party publishers took a lot shots in the dark, hoping something would stick with this unknown audience. Without a large variety of successful blue prints to work off of, a lot of different styles and approaches were taken to find a hit. It was reminiscent of early 3D games, as developers were trying to figure out what worked best for this new system.
The Wii's hardware sales built a promise of an untapped market many publishers were drawn to. The majority of this new gaming audience was happy with just Wii Sports, but third parties didn't know that at the time.
Some games were aimed at bridging a casual and more traditional gaming experience, often intending to act as a stepping stone between these two experiences. These titles used simple and approachable mechanics, wrapping them in a complete adventure with cut scenes and an involving story.
Dragon Quest Swords was one of the first titles to attempt this style on the Wii, following the simple tale of Blade and his companions to face the evil demon, Xiphos. The title relies on a simple set of skills that you learn to master. The end of the game surprisingly requires an extensive amount of precision using the infrared pointer on the Wii Remote. It's a light experience that hardly lives up to the main Dragon Quest series, but doesn't try to. It was essentially the Wii's Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest.
Before PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade fully came into being, the Wii offered an escape from the growing budgets on other platforms. This allowed for a slew of creative titles.
Lost in Shadow combines two-dinensional combat, platforming and puzzle solving, then designed those mechanics around light sources. The player is trapped in the shadow world and can only traverse in the background from the shadows cast off physical objects, which need to be manipulated to create a path. It replicates ICO's visuals and atmosphere, which makes it a treat on the aging Wii hardware.
The controller itself captured the imaginations of many developers, despite the original Wii Remote being a limited device. The Wii MotionPlus came a bit late, but helped developers fully deliver on the ideas that they had since launch.
Ubisoft's first person brawler, Red Steel 2, in a lot of ways was better than Nintendo's own first party Wii MotionPlus offerings. Motion controls look ridiculously awkward as the player flails about, but Red Steel 2 makes you feel like a bad-ass while doing so. It takes your basic motions and transforms them into a variety of special skills: launching enemies into the air and slamming them to the ground, counter stabbing enemies behind you, and performing a wide variety of executions using your sword and guns. It was the sword fighting Wii game we all wanted, albeit three years after the fact.
It's sad that most third party Wii titles are likely to be forgotten, even though the platform lives on through the Wii U's backwards compatibility.
To avoid falling into a depressive Wii fan coma, there were some titles that received recognition. No More Heroes in particular put the light on Suda 51. The cel-shaded visuals helped with the Wii's technical limitations and matched Suda 51's bizarre style. It features a smart use of the motion controls, where the player uses a satisfying flick of the controller to finish their enemies. It also helps that the game featured some of the most entertaining characters in gaming history.
In a lot of ways, newer consoles are picking up certain elements of the Wii. Kinect is bundled in with every Xbox One. Download services have taken on the burden of strange or experimental releases as the generation has closed out. The Wii remains unique with the system's focus being on its combination of control scheme, broad audience and lower budgets. All those elements came together to help inspire third party publishers to to tackle content with a specific mindset: If Nintendo can do it, we can to.
Little fanfare was made around Attack of the Friday Monsters' initial release. It's not a surprise considering most Nintendo fans were busy celebrating the long-awaited virtual console release of EarthBound. Thanks to Nintendo's Indie Week, Attack of the Friday Monsters has been brought back to the forefront of the 3DS' eShop. It's a title that left a huge impression on me with its child-like innocence and heart-warming characters and dialog.
If you have not heard of Attack of the Friday Monsters yet, it's hardly your fault. There was a lone trailer for the English release, and what is shown offers little insight into what the experience offers. The trailer features a young boy doing a lot of walking around as giant monsters fight in the background. It's accurate, but lacks context.
Once you start a new game, everything becomes clearer as the most charming opening credits scene ever created plays. The 10-year-old protagonist, Sohta, sings about himself, his father's job as a dry cleaner, his mother's love of cooking, and the Japanese town Fuji no Hana, which he recently moved to.
Opening on a Friday morning during the summer of 1971, Sohta is sent out by his family to deliver some laundry to a nearby neighbor. Despite the short trip, he quickly becomes side-tracked into investigating a strange phenomenon: On Friday, giant monsters appear on the outskirts of town.
Finding out the mystery behind the monsters is the driving force to move Sohta from location to location, but getting a glimpse into the life of the townsfolk shows the true quality and love in the writing. The kids cast fake spells on each other, to which the victim of voluntarily falls to the ground. They gossip and make assumptions about monsters, adults and other kids, exaggerating as children often do. The real stories fall within passing dialog of the adults, who often seem somewhat distant as Sohta is oblivious or confused by their troubles.
Fully exploring Fuji no Hana doesn't take long, but characters who populate the it frequently move, often triggering a new set of dialog to enjoy. It's essentially a picture book you can explore. Beautiful hand-drawn scenes set the backdrop. On the edge of the town flat green farm lands stretch across the distance and where it meets the base of mountains, as factories from the next town over pump black smoke into the blue sky. All of this is set to ambient bird and cicada songs mixed with the occasional sound of distant passing trains.
Within the town are small and often wooden houses, which most families both live and run their businesses out of. A peppy TV announcer and wind chimes can be heard from the households as Sohta runs by open doors. Toward the north, a railroad crossing warning signal rings endlessly as trains pass and conductors announce the stop in a monotone voice. This impeccable attention to detail and atmosphere completes Attack of the Friday Monsters as a package.
The majority of us haven't grown up in a 1970s Japan, including myself, but the title tickles the player's childhood nostalgia either way, creating a warm feel-good experience. It may not have any sort of real active challenge as a traditional game does, however it's a world that I do believe many more can fall in love with.
Do you like 90s' anime girls? I've got a title for you: HuneX's Blue Breaker Burst 2! Released for the PlayStation this Japanese only fighting game has more of a focus on the ladies than actual fighting
Project X Zone is all about tickling the inner fanboy in all us as a large variety of franchise characters from Capcom, SEGA and Namco Bandai mix together thanks to dimensional rifts. Half the fun is seeing your favorite characters team up to battle familiar foes. Despite it being a title built around the idea that players will grab onto characters they've know for years, I've found myself enjoying meeting new faces from titles and series I've yet to unearth more than anything else.
With over fifty character in the main party, which might as well be a small army, there's not much time to really get to know each of them. The starting prologue missions have tidal waves of character introductions, however after that most will just randomly show up and make a comment before disappearing back into the sea of party members. Everyone lacks depth within Project X Zone, but sprinkled dialog bits over the chapters gives you a small window into their personalities and their worlds.
After spending some time with my new allies, I often end up distracting myself looking up characters like Toma and Cyrille who were completely off my radar as they're from a 2007 PlayStation 2 title, Shining Force EXA.
While I had a passing awareness of Zombie Revenge, Rikiya Busujima tempted me to actually take a look at some gameplay. Now it's near the top of my list of titles to pick up for the Dreamcast as it looks like a charmingly cheesy late 90's 3D beat-em-up.
Some discoveries were a bit less exciting. Hunting down Neneko brought up this lovely result. After a giant “NOPE,” I've become fairly certain that my time with this little loli will end once I finally get around to finishing Project X Zone.
Cross overs and cameos are nothing new, but the sheer number of characters and worlds in Project X Zone makes it a great title to get a glimpse into a variety of Capcom, SEGA and Namco franchises, even if their actual gameplay isn't represented.
Having a backlog hurts my soul, face and hands. While it's nice knowing that I have a large variety of untapped experiences in my closet or on my hard drive, both now are overflowing with unfinished titles. However part of me still wants to complete everything in my backlog, and through that I've become a little obsessive about managing it.
It's not the biggest collection, but it's unwieldy enough.
There's more elsewhere.
In January of last year, whilst hiding in my sister's apartment from the rest of the world, I started archiving my collection on Backloggery, a website where you can not only record your gaming collection but also your progress in completing it. After nearly a month of sporadic updating between being lazy and being even more lazy, my list was comprehensive enough for me to accurately evaluate the status of my collection. With about a 60% completion rate, I was somewhat sad but fairly satisfied that the edge was in my favor. Unfortunately a wild beast dwells within my wallet and I cannot control what it purchases. Between purchasing new games and adding titles that I had missed in my original count, I had started to lose ground.
Instead of actually beating games, I decided to refine how I categorize games in my collection in hopes to twist things in my favor. I started asking myself questions." How should I categorize multiple copies? Should titles I have with faulty discs count against me? Should I even count MMOs? How do you "beat" Animal Crossing?" It was a mess, but somehow I emerged from it with some general rules. For example a "finished" Animal Crossing is paying off all debt, rather than having a 100% file. These half efforts did little to stave off the growing shame.
I'm now down to about 55% completion, a 5% drop from early last year. I've recently been significantly increasing the rate at which I've completed my games. Despite these efforts, my 2013 breakdown shows a grim future.
What do I need to do to stop this madness? The obvious answer is to throw my wallet down the staircase and stop buying things. As much as I'd love for that to happen, it won't. I've already pre-ordered Project X Zone and Animal Crossing: New Leaf is looking scrumptious.
I shall fight this losing battle against my game collection until the day I die.
While all the hardcore gaming ladies and gents were verbally exploding about the mastery of BioShock Infinite this week, I started Style Savvy: Trendsetters. Good heavens, what did I get myself into?
Initially I was only able to scratch the surface of Style Savvy, but I sunk a full 5 hours into it at my first chance of doing so. Usually I feel like playing large portions of a game at one time tends to have a negative effect on my opinion of them. Eventually I'm just waiting for the next save point so I can say, "that's good enough for today" and move on. In Style Savvy: Trendsetters' case, I had to pull myself away from it.
What drew me into the game? I'm not sure if I can say for certain yet. I've always liked playing dress up in video games, despite my real life attire being fashionably stale. Ten to twenty dollar polo shirts and khaki pants fill my closet and dressers. However this was the first time I played a game that was focused almost entirely on dressing up the ladies, as well as men now in Trendsetters.
There's a significant variety of clothes available from what I can see so far, and rarely have my outfits felt the same. The title may seem straight forward at first, but problems will start to arise that require you to get more creative with choosing different pieces of clothing. Managing your stock in specific creates many challenges, especially if you're an all-purpose clothing store. If you have a customer who wants some punk rock gear and you're running short, you have to get creative on how to make an outfit work. Otherwise, you'll have to turn them away.
Style Savvy: Trendsetters is a nice breath of fresh air in the rank and dusty bullet-filled mouth of gaming. It's far from the first title of its kind, but it has a level of polish that seems rare in the genre.
I plan on cuddling up with the game much more from this point on. I haven't even gotten to the fashion contests yet, so I think I have a good bit more to look forward to.[center]