I play just about anything you sit in front of me. The only genres that I tend to turn my nose up in disgust with are stale, derivative FPS games and yearly-churned-out sports turds. I turn my nose up at them because they stink of the purest of dark beer-fueled shite, and some may call that a strong opinion, but it sure isn't as strong as the smell of the newest Madden rolling out of EA's rectum every August, that's for sure.
I believe in the power of imagination in game design. Say what you want to about GTA IV, but any game that lets you play pool, darts, bowling, crackheaded Tetris, watch TV, see stand-up comedy, date chicks and let you sociopathically murder every person in sight has to count for something. Double bonus points for not involving a Wii remote for the first three and still managing to be quite good in the end. But like my first sentence said, I believe in imagination! There's not enough of it, there's far too much of a "me too" element in modern game design these days. It doesn't have to push any envelopes per se, but it does help if you actually thought to do something a little fucking different, or at least that's how I see it. I think that this entire industry could achieve a renaissance of sorts if that was the primary drive of creating games.
Think I'm crazy? Look at Okami. It's not new - it's fucking Zelda, just done with a little bit of imagination and love thrown into the mix. Imagination incarnate, however, is a term that goes to label games like Katamari Damacy...if we had more games like that, where a designer/developer decided to actually make something that had NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...then we'd probably start to see a paradigm shift in how games are perceived by the world at large, not just our hardcore niches. But, that too would carry a price, because then everyone would be making Katamari-style games, I guess...whatever makes money is whatever everyone tries to ape. Just for instance, look at Devil May Cry: it begat the remake of Ninja Gaiden, which therefore spawned God Of War, which shat Ghost Rider, which in turn shat Viking, etc. The quality goes down the more that imitation takes place...think of the copier theory: make a copy of a copy enough times and you get a unintelligible, blurry fucking mess in the end.
So, long story short, FPS and sports games aren't screwing up the industry at all, but it's definitely the streetcorners that the whoremongering masses gather around to be the next trick turned. And games like Okami don't sell well - which may not prove that God doesn't exist, but it definitely makes a strong case.
Games You Must Play Before You Take The Celestial Dirt Nap:
(Disclaimer: List in in constant state of evolutionary flux.)
Megaman 2/3 - NES
Chrono Trigger - SNES
Pilotwings 64 - N64
Metal Gear Solid - PSX
Okami - PS2
Jet Set Radio Future - XB
Rez/Rez HD - DC/XB360
Marvel VS Capcom - ARC
SoulCalibur - DC
StarTropics - NES
Dragon Spirit - NES
Kickle Cubicle - NES
Puzznic - NES
Lumines - PSP/PS2(Plus!)/XB360(Live!)
Street Fighter II: CE - ARC
Aliens VS Predator - ARC
Garou: Mark Of The Wolves - NG/ARC
The Last Blade 2 - NG/ARC
Donkey Kong Country - SNES
Final Fantasy VI (III) - SNES
Panzer Dragoon Orta - XB
Indigo Prophecy - XB/PS2
Mercenaries - XB/PS2
Grand Theft Auto 4 - XB360/PS3
Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec - PS2
Sonic Adventure - DC
Star Fox 64 - N64
The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Wii
WarioWare: Smooth Moves - Wii
F-Zero - SNES
UN Squadron (Area 88) - SNES
The Guardian Legend - NES
Faxanadu - NES
Shadowgate - NES
Ikaruga - DC/GC/XB360
Shadow Of The Colossus - PS2
Ico - PS2
Katamari Damacy/We Love Katamari/Beautiful Katamari - PS2/XB360 (BK)
Ace Combat Series - PSX/PS2/XB360
Portal - PC/XB360/PS3
Rise Of The Triad - PC
Sam And Max: Hit The Road - PC
Capcom VS SNK - DC/ARC
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - DC/ARC
Radirgy (Radio Allergy) - DC
Shikigami No Shiro 2 - XB
This, my friend is why I don't even get near them, as I have seen friends go into worse withdrawals from WOW than fucking cocaine. It'll get to the point where someone will suck someone else's virtual dick for a time card, I'm sure.
Truer words never spoken. I am scared to turn on my 360, and relieved when it powers on with green lights blazing, knowing that it will only be a matter of time before it takes a simple yet drastic color change. Every game could be its theoretical last, and that is a horrible line of thought to not only have as a consumer, but freely perpetuate as a company.
Just give up. I already have, and my life is a lot better for it.
"Core" Wii Owners:
It'll only be a matter of time before their new demographic gets bored with all of it. Nintendo isn't the real culprit at first, as their products aren't all that bad, but the 3rd-party developers who use the system as a compost landfill is the main offender, and Nintendo's allowance of that trend to continue only makes Nintendo the real culprit in the end as the mastermind of their own system's eventual, meticulously planned demise. Which, besides being an interesting plot twist, is a tragic tale of a company who once gave us veritable playgrounds such as the SNES.
Preach on, Brother Sterling. I've shed more pixelated tears for my European bretheren in the past few years than anyone else. I wanted to move to the UK, but I'd royally fuck myself game-wise doing so. And yes, putting UK and "royally fuck myself" in the same sentence was on purpose.
You've given me a lot to think about, Jim. Keep up the good work.
What I fear the most is simple, and while most people would argue that times have changed significantly and aren't like they were 25 years ago, I still fear a market crash.
I look at the amount of shovelware that hits the systems these days. Granted, most of it is directed at the Wii and DS, as Nintendo's "Official Seal Of Quality" lacks the words "Of Quality" these days, but that is the most dangerous thing to me as a gamer that is thoroughly invested in this industry, heart, body, mind and soul. The systems with the greatest amount of market penetration are the ones that have the greatest amount of titles that, well, for lack of a better term - are 100% shit. Anything released by BOLD games must invariably suck balls, and I have yet to find a title that proves that theory wrong. And I find many, many uninformed parents buying those games like Kids' Ice Hockey, Classic British Motor Racing, Doctor Branium's Games and other assorted turds, just waiting to unleash them upon their households and possibly turning what could be a happy gaming household into a family of jaded model-ship-in-a-bottle builders. That's not to say that other systems don't have their struggles, but I find the greatest concentration of pure poo aimed directly at the systems that have the most amount of hype, and the naive are buying them like they're hotcakes. And I don't want to burst their bubble by telling them why that cake is hot, mind you.
Sequel-itis isn't good either. There's a new $90+ Rock/Hero game out every fucking year now. So, what do you do when everyone has the guitars to where two people can play together? Drop a version that apes the competition for twice the price! With all of the extra peripherals (again, the Wii is the fucking KING of this) required for almost every goddamn game you buy these days, someone's got to be getting tired of it, I know I am. This one needs a board, this one needs a guitar, this one needs a flight stick, this one needs a microphone, the next one will need a 2-foot rubber dildo. It'll never end at this rate, and the market will get flooded eventually. And what happens when the market floods and everyone loses interest in the crap, sub-standard excuses for video games that get released every week?
A repeat of 1983, where overstock, unwanted games get dumped into landfills because nobody wants to deal with them anymore. That's what fucking happens. And that's what I fear the most. I want to hand my art to my children, to show them the way their father grew up, in the hopes that maybe they would find something for themselves down my old path, and if not they could at least have a bit of fun. But I fear a market collapse if the shit factories (and out own national economy) don't shape up. Now that's real.
I know that this is a shitty excuse for a blog entry, but I had to get this out of the damn way, man. This game is so ingrained into my GNA (Gamer's Genetic Code) that I will sell a kidney to play that motherfucker right now. I won't sell my kids, no sir, I'll sell your fucking spawn to play SF4 right now. And while I'm figuring all of the little gameplay nuances out all over again, I won't shed a single tear while the fruit of your loins is toiling the rest of their truncated lives in some mineshaft in Siberia. Yeah, I'm bad like that. For real.
Seriously, though. This game looks better and better every time I get a look at it. Everything looks like Capcom paid the utmost of attention to what their fanbase has been clamoring for, and it really shows to diehard fans like myself. The Ryu stage music during the trailer (which is available now on XBL) is a call to arms for a man like myself...until the trailer ends and the opening measures of Gouki's (Akuma for you damn gaijin) theme kick in...and then I find myself mock-performing the Shungokusatsu on my cat. My wife thinks I'm strange enough as it is, but now...between this incident and the Frosted Mini-Wheats commercial that Mega Man 9 did to me (which I loved the PA comic on that, it perfectly summed up my experience with it), she is certain that she married a fucking 10-year-old.
Anyhoo, Gamestop lists the release date as Feb. 5th. If that is to be held as truth, then rest assured that I will see you punk motherfuckers online. I hope you like the feeling of your face being used as a toothbrush to scrub this floor...because there's a lot of floor to clean.
That's just bravado talking... :P
no, seriously...i'm coming for your fucking souls, dtoid members...
So as a fighting game fanatic, I was pretty interested to see what the possibilities of a genuinely new Guilty Gear entry could bring to the franchise, especially after the Street Fighter 2-ification of the series (GGX, GGXX, GGXX#R:TMC, GG:AC is to Guilty Gear as SFII, SFII'/T, SSFII, SSFIIT is to Street Fighter). But then I learned that GG2 would be a strategy/fighting hybrid, and my reaction was a mixture of uncertainty and trepidation. I was unsure of the game right from the get-go. However, I waited patiently for the game to finally arrive on U.S. shores so that I could take proper controller time with the game in order to give it what I try to give every game that I play - a fair shake, unbiased and unapologetic.
Unfortunately, that fair shake means the Rick James treatment: 4 thumbs down.
Seriously, folks - the milk's gone bad.
It seems like it's a cool idea at first, take the primary special moves that the primary story characters use and translate them into a strategic, 3D-action beat-'em-up. But as Dynasty Warriors-awesome as that sounds, it's nowhere near as mindlessly fun as DW can make things on it's best days. This thing is like some sort of hybrid (which is a nice way of saying BASTARD) cross between Guilty Gear, Dynasty Warriors, Advance Wars and doing taxes. There simply is far too much going on to ask anyone's attention span to splinter to that degree.
Take your character. Let's say it's Sol Badguy, main character of the GG series. You get (almost) all of the awesome moves that you'd want from his repertoire: Gunflame, Bandit Revolver, and other assorted maneuvers are present and accounted for. Now, it's in 3D, so 2D input won't do...so let's simplify things and let's put all regular combat on the X button for standard attacks and special move-style attacks on the Y button. Now, we need to limit your awesome-nicity, so let's make all of your special moves drain the "Tension" gage underneath the life bar. Attacking enemies gains you more tension, and if you want to screw up a lot of heads in one shot, you'll need to use the Y button attacks to do so most of the time. There is a function on the left-stick-click to cancel any move (but only while locked-on, which increases damage but slows you down), but what good that does you is your guess - I already used all of my guesses up.
Clicking the left stick while not locked allows you to sprint through the battlefields, which is pretty Goddamn awesome until you realize that no matter how many times they tell you to "drift" into a turn, you're going to smack the fucking wall and fall over like a jackass. Every. Fucking. Time. If you can master this technique and use it well in-game, then congratulations in the highest. Not seeing a vagina since the day you were born has finally paid off for you, I see.
Now, add in the fact that you have to not only fight, but manage the "troops" that you have to buy/recruit, which entails commanding their movements and respawning them from the "Masterghost." This is a home base, nothing more, nothing less. You can capture territories and gain more "Mana," which is used to buy items and reinforcements mid-battle. Oh, and there's got to be the obligatory "Type A is weak against Type B, but strong against Types C and D" system of troop success likelihood, which is just a stupid version of Rock, Paper, Scissors when you boil it down to its base idea. Oh, and there's the fact that your CPU opponent can do all this multitasking bullshit WAY faster than you can. Almost forgot about that.
Add in frustrating camera angles, a story that reeks of "if you can understand this, then you wrote this motherfucker"-itis, and the fact that your "dumber-than-rocks" troops do WAAAAY more damage than you do (and you make fucking fire from a sword - what the hell?) to everything, add in a dash of control issues and you've got a recipe for a game that had an interesting conceptual idea, but as most games these days tend to do, utterly fails in the realm of proper, polished execution. Play it if you're feeling masochistic, but avoid like the plague otherwise.
Oh, and a simple Google search on Sol Badguy got me that gem of a picture. I had to keep the words "Pizza" and "Burgers" in frame just to preserve the unintentional joke that the photographer seems to have made. And I gotta say, that unintentional joke is pretty fucking hysterical because of it.
Here's the deal: I leave the quarter-century mark behind me this Saturday, October 11th. As I approach the 26th anniversary of being forcibly ejected out of my mother, I can't help but take stock of the things that I've learned in this span of time, and being a gamer of the highest order I tend to take said stock by comparing the past to the present in terms of entertainment software conquests. The recent releases of Mega Man 9, Bionic Commando Rearmed and Castle Crashers has made me realize something very disturbing: I wholeheartedly believe that games that operate on older play styles are still better than their newer, more "advanced" brethren.
Case in point: I love fighting games. LOVE THEM. I was the happiest person in the world when Soul Calibur 4 was announced, and happier still when I took that gleaming metal box home in my hands, ready to download the exclusive bonus gear that my limited-edition reservation afforded me and prepared to drink deeply from the well of what I considered to be the finest three-dimensional fighting game on the market. Flash forward two months, and I want to snap my SC4 disc in half and leave it on the steps of Namco Bandai's offices with a note that says "NEVER!", Rorschach-style. You see, Soul Blade was a revolution. Soul Calibur was a refined revolution. Soul Calibur 2 was a work of near-perfection on a level that hadn't been seen since the heyday of Super Street Fighter II Turbo (or Alpha 3, dependent on your particular tastes). Soul Calibur 3 was a botched rush-job, and Namco knew that, so they promised that SC4 would address these issues and restore the rock-solid gameplay of past incarnations. Unfortunately, to them that must mean making the game so filled with unnecessary additions such as armor-breaks, instant-kills, 85,000,000 guard-break moves for every character, high-hit attacks that lift you off of the floor repeatedly while lying prone, and other design decisions that, well, for lack of a better term, are just plain fucking stupid. What was wrong with just 8-Way-Run? What was wrong with balance? When did "Just Inputs" become something that every fighting game needed, and not just tired Tekken sequels? And it was at this point that I began to worry, not just about the industry, not just about the games, but about myself most of all. Am I right? Am I correct in thinking that too much is just that, or am I so mired in the past that I can't accept the simple fact that change is inevitable? Is the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" really true, or is that something that old codgers said to justify keeping the old ways the only ways? And if that is the case...am I getting fucking OLD!?
It makes me think about Mega Man, and how the first game I beat was 1988's Mega Man 2. It makes me think about all the hard work and practice I put into that game, the dedication that I had for conquering something profoundly difficult at the tender age of six. It makes me see how that dedication has applied in multiple facets of my life, and it makes me see how kids these days have it so easy. Just for shits and giggles, I handed my nephews (one just turned 14 and the other just turned 6) my NES and my copy of Mega Man 2 and asked them to play it. Granted, this was going to be an alien concept to them - two buttons, one D-pad, Select and Start, and no excuses. And furthermore, these kids aren't slouches: the oldest is a gamer in his own right, and the 6-year-old is a fucking prodigy when it comes to games - he can beat all of his 14-year-old brother's friends at any FPS game they throw into their 360, no lie. I've seen it, and it's surreal. But hand them an 8-bit masterpiece and it's like everything they know and hold dear gets knocked on its ear. The 14-year-old scoffed at the graphics, and asked how I could ever play something so primitive. The 6-year-old was a lot more receptive to the experience, it was almost like he knew he was playing something historically relevant and he treated it with the amount of reverence that I was actually hoping for, which surprised the hell out of me. The 14-year-old couldn't get it, put the controller down after dying for his third time and seeing a game-over screen and started complaining about how the health bar didn't recharge and the enemies causing too much damage. The 6-year-old had trouble at first, but warmed up to it eventually, and made it all the way to Bubble Man with no problems on his 2nd continue/7th life. He actually wanted to beat it. He wanted to prove himself to something that set the odds stacked against you in an utterly ridiculous ratio, while his older brother went back to playing Mercenaries 2 and The Force Unleashed. That caused some strange mix of sadness and hope to stir within me, sadness for the child that was 12 years my junior, pandered to by games that coddle the player and do everything for you except wipe your own ass, and hope that the child that was TWENTY years my junior would see that as what games should be about and seek out those games accordingly. And then I realized that I was twenty years older than someone I knew, and my heart took its last little pixel of damage..."peew peew peew peew peew."
Things like this are what make me stop playing the mass-market bullshit and retreat to insane mode on Castle Crashers. I'm hoping that SF4 won't screw the pooch and overshoot perfection in the name of "making it awesome." I think most developers don't realize the level of awesome that they had in the first place half the time, and by trying to raise the ceiling of awesome, it only succeeds in turning it into asinine/inane. I'm really scared for what the future holds for me, scared of becoming that old war dog that sits in the corner talking about how the good old days were better, hoping that some young buck would just hear me out and learn a thing or two from the old school that'll take them one step beyond their peers. And I realize that with the release of Mega Man 9 and BC:R, there are a lot more of us old war dogs than I realized. Maybe I'm not so alone, and maybe us 8-bit war dogs are the majority after all, not these whippersnappers and their dreams of kicking ass on a guitar made from melted-down Fisher-Price popcorn-pop mowers.
And then I proofread this. Goddamn it, I'm getting too old for this shit. :D
So, after finally getting the settings on my computer to not block Dtoid cookies and sacrificing not one, not two, but three wild goats to some ancient arcane demigod, I have finally gotten my happy ass back to blogging at Destructoid. And I may have triggered the beginning of the Apocalypse, but that still remains to be seen. At least I can still blog...IN HELL.