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4:33 AM on 06.16.2011

Why I Hate Nintendo

I have been very vocal about my hate of Nintendo. I thought I would point out why. Let's turn the clock back to the 1990's, during the golden age of Nintendo which I would like to attribute to the Nintendo 64.

Great games, which transported me to epic worlds and provided hours upon hours of fun. I used to play StarFox64 twice a day during the peak of my obsession with it. I moved forward, never turning to look at Sony or Microsoft's consoles, because Nintendo made me happy.

The Gamecube came, and I bought it. Played what they delivered to me on that console, but real life matters (read: high school) forced me to give up on gaming for a while.

Fast forward to my college years: The Wii! A revolutionary new motion controlled console which had great potential! Yes! I was excited out of my mind.

I was disappointed

Got myself an Xbox 360, loved the hell out of it even as it started red ringing on me, because it actually had exciting games such as Halo and Gears of War! Gritty, over the top set pieces with tons of challenges and engaging stories the kind I have never seen with Nintendo! It didn't take long to realize the fact that Nintendo really didn't provide too many games that would have interested me, and with the Xbox 360, I found myself with access to an impressively larger library of games to pick and choose from.

Eventually got a PS3, and enjoyed all my consoles thoroughly, believing I was above any fanboy squabbles simply because I had all consoles in my living room, perpetually hooked to my then brand new HD television. My gaming setup was beautiful. I was happy.

The problem came when the Wii started catering to more casual audience. At first I didn't mind because hey, I loved myself some Super Smash Bros. and Fire Emblem from time to time. I was set.

I kept my Wii, simply for the sake of continuing to play this game:

Waiting for more games for the Wii through 2009, 2010 and now 2011, I don't even remember the last game I purchased for a Nintendo console. Yes, I do keep looking for some, because I believe it isn't useful to me without, you know, new exclusives that I would be interested in.

This year was the last straw, the announcement of the Wii-U killed Nintendo for me, because it clearly states what direction they plan to take it. Why would they name it after a console that alienated their core audience, unless they plan on continuing to alienate them.

It isn't the first time I said Nintendo's dead to me, and it won't be the last. I'll keep watching and hope they actually get their act together and give me something that would make me excited.   read

12:35 AM on 06.08.2011

Nintendo is Dead to Me

Before being bombarded with legions of Nintendo fans, I want to set one thing straight: I am not a hater by nature. I stuck by Nintendo longer than anyone would want to stick with any one brand or gaming company, even long after I wasn't getting anything substantial out of it.

Another thing, I'm not including pictures in this blog post because I believe that anything I may put would offend someone. Please bear with me and my wall of text.

Before E3, I heard news that Nintendo had lost 66% of annual revenue in the past year, and lost even more the year before. The message was clear: It was time Nintendo focused on the audience that really mattered. The oldest and fiercest type of gamers. Not babies. Not "casual gamers."

Hardcore gamers.

Little kids like to act like their elders, and casual gamers already have a device I like to call the iPad. Heck, just two days ago my 10 year old cousin asked me if I wanted to play Mortal Kombat with him.

Then the conference came, and with it, my hopes shattered faster than you could say "It's-a Me, Mario!"

Nothing for me. They didn't announce a single game that got my blood pumping. I really didn't care anymore at that point.

Nintendo just lost a customer, and when I have kids, I won't be getting them Nintendo stuff either.   read

11:17 AM on 08.07.2010

How Well Do You Know Your Games?

I was wondering, since we all game, how much of the facts of our favorite pastime do we really know? You may translate the results in whatever way you wish. You might say you're a knowledgeable individual when it comes to gaming, or that you're awesome and hardcore.

Before we begin, this test is by no means all-encompassing. I'm sure others will share their own questions in the comments. The exam is divided into three parts. The first part contains straightforward questions. The second part contains questions about the protagonists of different series and games. The final part is about filling the blanks. Good luck.

Answers can be found after the questions.

Take your seats and prepare to be tested.

1.01 What is the most common function of the A button (X button on Playstation consoles)?
1.02 What is the abbreviation usually used to refer to content you download from an online store?
1.03 What is the word used by game experts who want to be rude to an inexperienced gamer?
1.04 What is the number of current generation consoles?
1.05 What are the current generation consoles?
1.06 What part of your controller usually relates to your character's movement?
1.07 When you get 100 collectibles in platformer games, what are you usually rewarded by?
1.08 What is the Konami Code?
1.09 What is the name of the antagonist from the Command & Conquer series?
1.10 What is the game series which had teams of creepy crawlies fighting with ridiculous weapons in destructible environments?
1.11 What is the name of the movie director no gamer wants to see producing another game-related movie ever again?

What is the name of the protagonist in the following games?
2.01 Halo 2
2.02 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
2.03 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
2.04 Super Mario 64
2.05 Final Fantasy VII
2.06 Gears of War
2.07 Ninja Gaiden
2.08 Metal Gear Solid 4
2.09 Half Life
2.10 Tales of Symphonia
2.11 Timesplitters: Future Perfect
2.12 Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice
2.13 Mass Effect
2.14 Valkyria Chronicles
2.15 Mirror's Edge
2.16 Brutal Legend
2.17 Resistance 2
2.18 Too Human
2.19 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
2.20 Skies of Arcadia
2.21 Resident Evil 4
2.22 God of War
2.23 Crysis
2.24 Fallout 3

Complete the following:
3.01 When discussing a high-spec PC, a sarcastic question usually asked is "does it run _______?"
3.02 is a popular website gamers tend to visit to get past some parts of the game they're stuck in
3.03 __________: Source is a popular PC game on Steam
3.04 God of War's protagonist appeared in the fighting game series ______________.
3.05 The number of Pokemon was initially ___.
3.06 ____________ was the most emotional character in the Gears of War franchise.
3.07 ____________ is an addictive, non-violent Facebook game for nature lovers.
3.08 A lot of massive game reveals are made annually in the _______ event.
3.09 Kinect was known initially as ___________.
3.10 ___________ is a term used to define cheap, rushed games that severely lack in quality.
3.11 __________ is an extremely popular strategy game in South Korea.
3.12 ____________ is a game that produced a terrible movie, which was then translated into a game based on the movie.
3.13 _________ was arguably the first game to reveal the protagonist was actually a woman at the end of the game.
3.14 Gamers are prompted to press the ______ button in the main screen of most games.
3.15 RPGs have different ways of being categories, one of which is to classify it as either Japanese or __________.
3.16 ____________ is the mastermind behind many franchises that appear exclusively on Nintendo.

Below are the answers.

Answers for Part 1
1.01 Jump
1.02 DLC
1.03 Noob
1.04 3
1.05 PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
1.06 Left Analog Stick
1.07 Extra Life
1.08 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
1.09 Kane
1.10 Worms
1.11 Uwe Boll

Answers for Part 2
2.01 Master Chief
2.02 Link
2.03 Nathan Drake
2.04 Mario
2.05 Cloud
2.06 Marcus Fenix
2.07 Ryu Hayabusa
2.08 Solid Snake
2.09 Gordon Freeman
2.10 Lloyd Irving
2.11 Sergeant Cortez
2.12 Mao
2.13 Commander Shepard
2.14 Welkin Gunther
2.15 Faith
2.16 Eddie Riggs
2.17 Nathan Hale
2.18 Baldur
2.19 Starkiller
2.20 Vyse
2.21 Leon Kennedy
2.22 Kratos
2.23 Nomad
2.24 The Lone Wanderer

Answers for Part 3
3.01 Crysis
3.02 Gamefaqs
3.03 Counterstrike
3.04 Soul Calibur
3.05 151
3.06 Dominic Santiago
3.07 Farmville
3.08 E3
3.09 Natal
3.10 Shovelware
3.11 Starcraft
3.12 Street Fighter
3.13 Metroid
3.14 Start
3.15 Western
3.16 Shigeru Miyamoto

Feel free to add your own or suggest changes. I'll probably do an updated "test" based on the questions you post in the comments below.   read

3:55 AM on 08.04.2010

Teh Bias: Respect Me!

There are many games that I enjoy, and many that I disliked. Often the games that I end up disliking are the same ones that the majority of gamers like.

I dislike Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Kirby's Epic Yarn, all annual sports games and the majority of Mario Games.

Did the sentence above catch your attention? Did you disagree? Are you currently thinking about what you're going to write in the comments to defend the games I mentioned?

Perhaps my gaming standards differ from most of the world, but you know what? I'm okay with that.

I figured it out: I am biased toward games that respect me as an intelligent, adult gamer, and respects the console it's running on as a stand-alone system.

What does that respect entail?

List time!

Games should show respect to gamers in the following ways:

1- It should be able to run on the console, without the need for any additional accessories aside from the standard controller, to a maximum of four controllers if you have friends over. I don't want to use a plastic gun, balance board, drum set, guitar, or kitchen sink to be able to play.

2- It should not rely on a basic in-game gimmick as its main appeal. A glaring example in Kirby's Epic Yarn: Let's take Kirby, make him into a ball of yarn, and turn the world he's in into fabric.

3- It should not expect me to be standing while I play. For that matter, it should not expect me to be doing anything but sitting on the couch while I play. God help me, that's what I have a gaming console for.

4- It should not expect me to attempt to verbally communicate with my device. It's an inanimate object. Unless I'm calling someone on the phone, I have no business talking to, or through, an inanimate object.

5- It should not expect me to wave my hands around, or frequently tilt my controller around to move my character in the game. This includes party games on the Wii, and pretty much anything that cannot be translated to "press the button, use analog stick, tap on shoulder button, see desired action on screen."

6- It should not belong to a series that gets annual releases, especially not if it has the year at the end of the title. This goes for all sports titles. So you updated the roster of some teams, gave it a negligible graphical upgrade and are selling it again for the price of a full game? I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.

7- It should not belong to a series that gets many releases that have no significant difference between them, which could have just as easily been updated via DLC. This may be a repeat of #6, only with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Seriously. Metallic, Green Day, Beatles, etc... why not have them all as downloadable content and get it over with.

8- It should not attempt to tug on my nostalgia. It will ruin my otherwise cherished memories of the experience I've had so many years ago, and will ultimately leave a bitter taste in my mouth when disappointment settles in, when I realize how idealized my memories were of the game. Remember it. Cherish it. Move on.

9- It should not expecting me to work out while I play. That's what I go to the gym for. I don't need a virtual trainer telling me I'm fat, or that I need to change my diet. Dammit I'm here to sit down and play a game! If I wanted some advice, I'd ask the gym instructor for a work plan, not search for health answers when I want to game. I understand that some of you aren't members of a gym. If you want to seriously work out, then exercising just a few feet away from your game library and one room away from the fridge isn't going to help you much.

10- It should not be shovelware. That abomination should not be allowed to exist. This category extends to all game adaptations of movies, TV series, comic books, anime and manga. There always seems to be something lost in translation.

11- It must treat its audience for the mature, intelligent adults that they are. It should not attempt to be too cute, sanitized or pampering. I like my games to have mature themes.

So there you go. The eleven criteria of respect. I have it all laid down. I have opened up, and shared my most personal preferences for picking up games.

This month's topic is about bias. I don't think I can be more biased that to bear my game-loving soul, with all the good and bad it entails.   read

7:42 AM on 08.02.2010

Teh Bias: Let the Classics Be

I have a confession to make: When it comes to my entertainment, I like to remember what year I'm in. You'll rarely see me go back to play a game that was released over five years ago, and almost never play a game that was released over ten years ago.

Granted, some games can be said to age well, and they're still being played today. Such games have their audience, but I'm not their target audience.

Enjoy your games.

I cringe every single time I hear the words remake, reboot or re-release. I feel it's just a way to draw more money from the fans who liked the game/franchise when it was first released. Here's how I see it:

1. Yes, we all enjoyed the game when it first came out in 1997, but if you go and buy it all over again, you'll probably be disappointed and ruin the memory of the game.
2. A lot of people are fond of a certain game, as nostalgia to the circumstances that surrounded the time they used to play that game. My guess is, circumstances have changed a lot in all of our lives since the game was being played by a widespread audience, so the general experience will inevitably be diminished once the nostalgia element has been satisfied. Some may even be disappointed.
3. No matter how great the game was, it's a safe bet to say that there have been better games, in both gameplay, game mechanics, storyline, scale and overall entertainment value between that time and now.

Bigger, better, bolder

I don't shy away from my criticism of Nintendo: They have more franchises than they know what to do with, and instead of allowing them to grow with their audience, they insist on remaking, rebooting and restarting a predictable selection of games. Granted, they were amazing at their time, but I don't think they can stand up to today's competition.

You can call me out on how I loved the Worms series on the PC, Twisted Metal, and a few other games I thoroughly enjoyed. You can even try to make a big deal out of how I'm looking forward to the upcoming Worms game on Steam, but I say only this: I'm not getting any new Mario, Zelda, Star Fox or Donkey Kong title until one comes out that clearly isn't a remake, cheap ripoff or gimmicky title.

Instead, you'll see me looking out for games that acknowledge the technological developments of the last decade, and respect me as a gamer who owns a current-gen console. I'm looking at you, Twisted Metal, Halo: Reach, Killzone 3, Gears of War 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

I'm talking bigger, bolder and better. That's the direction we're heading in as a community of gamers with systems and games that were nothing more than an impossible fantasy just one decade ago.

And yet, most people are gravitated toward this...

Pictured: I sense a disturbance in the force, like six million seasoned hardcore gaming veterans letting their inner child take over at the very sight of this...

Why?!   read

6:59 AM on 07.31.2010

On Worms and War

One of the greatest classic franchises is about to make a comeback, on August 26, through steam. I'm sure you've all seen this post.

My stance toward this development was pretty much set from the moment I heard about it. I'm getting this game.

Now, I started wondering what little fun touches I'll come up with, in terms of turning pictures in my computer into destructible terrains, or whether I'll download the Sound Bank editor and create custom sound sets (I did five, a long, long time ago.)

Then I got to thinking, is it just me, or is there usually one Worm in whatever team you create which seems to be extremely lucky?

I remember one of the Worms in the team I created, which I cheesily called "The Dragons" called Takeshi. For some reason, both computer controlled and human opponents seem to screw up badly when they target him. I'm talking about throwing a Holy Hand Grenade that bounces off Takeshi and falls into a chasm where two of the attacker's comrades are hanging out. I even tried turning the team over to CPU control, set them to be utterly stupid, and Takeshi still persevered. I didn't know what exactly was going on, but I noticed different things about different Worms. One was always extremely destructive, perhaps lucky in offense. Another was extremely unlucky, and usually ended up being the first to die, no matter what I do to prevent that (even Takeshi sitting directly on top of him didn't save him, although Takeshi did survive somehow...) and one which always ends up drowning by a shot that wasn't intended for him.

Did anyone else ever experience anything such as this? I really couldn't figure it out...

One thing is certain, though...

Takeshi will be back!   read

1:35 PM on 07.27.2010

Epic Action Scene

Or, epic fail blog video


I couldn't help it. This is how NOT to make an action chase scene, taken from an old Indian movie.   read

12:42 PM on 07.27.2010

My Attempt to a Fail Blog

[embed]179997:31803[/embed]   read

12:41 AM on 07.27.2010

Islam and Gaming

I just read a post by Jim Sterling regarding Islamic ideologies when it comes to gaming. As a Muslim myself, I felt it was necessary to set things straight.

Please take the time to go through a small lesson in Islam. If you wish, think of it as a clear introduction to extinguish the flame war before it begins:

First off, Islam is built on ease of practice, not difficulty or complexity. However, there are some who take our texts and interpret them in ways that fit their individual world views.

In its purest form, Islam is built upon five pillars:
1. The submission to the belief that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammad is His prophet.
2. Praying five times a day.
3. Fulfilling Zakat (a fixed percentage, usually 2.5%, of your capital, given as annual charity to the poor and needy).
4. Fasting the month of Ramadan
5. Performing pilgrimage to Makkah if capable.

Now, with the pillars established, let's look at a couple of other practices that Muslims agree upon, which are relevant to our argument:

1. It is taboo to murder, commit adultery, steal, drink alcohol, eat pork, listen to music and talk about people behind their backs.
2. It is taboo to draw pictures representing living creatures, and if given an item with such a picture, you should not use it for decoration.
3. It is taboo to disrespect other religions, because its follows will disrespect Islam in return.
4. It is taboo to provide visual representations of Allah, the angels and the Prophets (including Mohammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, David, Isaac, etc.)

Some people take such unambiguous laws, along with texts in the Holy Quran and the Hadith (texts of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)) and misinterpret them, or take the ambiguous parts as justification of their behavior and ignore the unambiguous. They do that although it is clearly stated in the Quran that some parts are clear and some are not, and that there will be those who neglect the clear and embrace the ambiguous to suit their needs.

You see, not everyone who claims to be a Muslim should be taken as a model on which to compare all the Muslims in the world.

Now, let's look at how Sharia law, otherwise known as Islamic law, is meant to be formed: It is built on four aspects, as follows:

1. Quran and Sunnah: Use the texts of the Holy Quran and Hadith for the fundamentals.
2. Ijma'a: If the majority of Islamic scholars in any point of time agree on the Islamic views regarding any newly introduced topic, invention, technology or scientific method, then the consensus is formed and their opinion is written into law.
3. Qiyas: If something new appears, without any historical precedent to return to and/or no consensus is reached, personal judgment should be made by comparing the subject in question with loosely related subjects in which a verdict was reached.

You can probably see where exactly personal efforts can lead some scholars, even those not in any formal position or sufficient knowledge regarding the topic in question, to be lead astray by their research efforts.

Lesson's over.

Let's talk about the subject of gaming now. I have heard that gaming, and all other forms of entertainment, are undesirable under the following conditions:

1. It causes you to delay or neglect your religious duties (ie, when prayer time comes, you don't pray because you're playing a game.)
2. It has content that is deemed offensive to Islam (such as the depiction of God.)
3. It results in your neglecting your worldly responsibilities, including family, work, school and maintaining your physical health.
4. It has sexual overtones (ie, Japanese dating sim games, etc.)

I know a lot of fellow Muslims who are ready not only to play most video games, but to excel in them.

Now, to address any hate in the comment section before it begins:
1. Don't hate on any religion. That includes any and all attempts to question their legitimacy and the existence of any unseen entities related to religion.
2. Don't turn this into a religious flame war. In the VERY long run, we'll all know who is right and who is wrong.
3. No name calling. Not at me, not at Jim Sterling and not at the inevitable offensive commenter above your post.   read

2:04 AM on 07.20.2010

Gaming in the Future

I read an article in another website about what video game questions could be answered by 2040. I thought of compiling my own collection of predictions, so here goes.

By the year 2040...

Advances in technology made it possible for gamers to have total immersion in a virtual simulation in which games can be played.

Annual gaming tournaments will be as televised as the Olympic Games, and will have a worldwide audience.

Game developers will double as movie producers and directors

The conventional means of social interactions will go the way of the newspaper, and the majority of people will prefer spending "quality" time with their peers pwning others in their game of choice. Face to face interactions will be viewed as a fancy alternative to the norm (similar to how most of us view the people who still read print newspapers every morning).

Game achievements will be considered by potential employers in your CV.

A new form of social segregation will be seen emerging in some circles, built around the pro/noob and/ or hardcore/casual gamers.

Game consoles will continue evolving, with each new generation providing more features until the inevitable cross-compatibility consoles can play each other's games, forced on the gaming industry by increasingly empowered studios to maximize their profits.

A massive gaming world will be built, almost to the scale of 1:1 of Earth, which has geographic locations for different game types, with gamers able to travel (although with some difficulty and item monitoring to ensure the balance issues of different locations are kept,a-la airports) through different genres and settings. Although, you will find some people trying to smuggle healing potions into the futuristic militarized dystopia area, or smuggle firearms into the fantasy realm to try taking over Hyrule. Read the little-known novel Epic by Conor Kostick for a little preview of a world run by a glorified MMO.

Future conflicts will be resolved through FPS or RTS battles.

As games become more mainstream, you can expect more games to have heavy-handed religious and political messages.

Reality TV shows will make place to Reality Gaming Show, where contestants are sent to an unfriendly virtual environment under varying degrees of disadvantage to compete for a prize.

In-game currencies will have an exchange rate with one another, as well as real currencies. Fifty Wasteland Bottlecap equal one Hylian Rupee, which equals 1.8 American Dollars.

That's all I have for now. If you have other ideas, please post them in the comments.   read

1:11 AM on 07.19.2010

Your Character and You, Beyond the Game

I recently posted a blog about the relation between the gamer and your character, and the single comment I received mentioned that I seemed to be building toward something, but didn't really reach my conclusion.

To be honest, I was writing from my train of thoughts, and didn't really know where I was going with it.

A possible conclusion came to me when I was playing Fallout 3. My current character is pretty much evil by now, and I have finished all add-ons except Broken Steel. The Enclave had just appeared, and it seems like my character needs the closure she deserves.

It came to me after a conversation with the character's father in the Project Purity lab, where my character was confronted about the destruction of Megaton. This was the first time I made the decision to destroy Megaton in all playthroughs, and the confrontation took me off-guard. The conversation was postponed in favor of more pressing matters, brought forth in the form of having to provide the lab with the resources it required. While I was going around doing my thing, the Enclave appeared, and not noticing me, stormed the lab.

The military force confronted my character's father, and he ended up sacrificing his life to take them down. Through heavily enforced glass, I could see him looking straight at me, and repeatedly telling me to get out of there.

So there it was: Closure. My character started off by escaping from Vault 101 to search for her father, who left without a trace. Here he was, shortly after being found and "saved" from the mess he got himself into, sacrificing himself so a terrible military organization wouldn't get their hands of a critical experiment. In a sense, he has redeemed himself.

So what is left for my character? After going to the Pitt, Point Lookout, the Anchorage simulation, and even Mothership Zeta, all that's left is to take the fight to the Enclave.

I figured out what my character needed: redemption. As much as I enjoy playing a villain in video games, I enjoy the story of a villain's redemption. It would be a nice, heartwarming conclusion for my character's story.

Today I have decided to take it one step further: After finishing the game, I would be parting with a character I spent a lot of time with. As much as I like to see closure, I find myself getting drawn to an interesting idea: Recreating the character in New Vegas. It takes place three years after Fallout 3, so it just feels like it fits.

The conclusion I have arrived at is this: We all find ourselves influenced in varying degrees by our in-game characters. After the game is over, and the controllers are put down, it's the characters with the greatest resonance, mentally and emotionally, that you will eventually revisit. It is just as much about the journey as it is about going out with a bang and leaving you, the player, craving for more.

A final question, for the commenters: Would you recreate the same characters, if you could, in different games that have a character creation feature? Would you focus more on recreating skills, personality traits or physical appearance?   read

3:45 AM on 07.18.2010

Who Do You Write Like?

I found this interesting website, which compares your writing with that of established authors. I tried it out with all my blog posts here, and got amusing results:

H.P Lovecraft
Kurt Vonnegut
James Joyce
Dan Brown
Margaret Atwood

But only one name appeared multiple times:

David Foster Wallace

So, whose writing is yours like?

Click the link.   read

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