No, this is not a blog about LittleBigPlanet and similar games. Rather, it's a blog about personal rules players make to experience a video game in a new way.
What do I mean by that? Take a look at this video:
In it, two Japanese gamers try to collect the eight red coins in a stage while running away from the green mushroom, which makes for a hilarious video.
You see, in Super Mario 64 the 1-UP mushroom follows Mario around so you don't have to chase it. It was a mechanic implemented to aid the player, but with a little bit of creativity two people used it to create a fun challenge!
That video and forum threads like this made me think about what other games have people made inside games. One that immediately comes to mind is the Gnome challenge in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, made by Valve themselves:
I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with it, but for those who aren't, this challenge consists of carrying a Gnome statue from the beginning of the game to a place near the end, where you drop the little guy in a rocket to send him to space. Why? Well, why not?
There's no point to it whatsoever besides gaining an achievement. And it's not an easy task, since you can't shoot while carrying the Gnome and there's plenty of tricky obstacles you have to overcome to successfully bring it to the rocket (such as, how to put the Gnome in your car without the damned thing falling off it all the time?).
Challenges like that are kind of crazy, but they can be a whole lot of fun as well. In fact, some games are at it's best when you create your own rules and side-quests. One of the prime examples of that is the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Who has never completely ignored the missions to create mayhem in GTA? Raising the star levels and trying to survive for as long as possible is like another game in itself.
I remember trying all kinds of different things while playing San Andreas in particular, like using cheat codes to get a silenced pistol and a sniper rifle and go to a rural town to stealthily take down some self-appointed targets.
What about the Elder Scrolls franchise? You can invent your own crazy quest in it and role play all you want. Each player is sure to have a personal story to tell about something that happened or that they did.
Simply put, Christopher Livingston wanted to see if he could survive in Oblivion/Skyrim while behaving like a NPC with specific rules. No adventures, no running, no stealing and he had to eat and sleep like a NPC! It goes completely against what you're supposed to do in these games, and though it might sound boring, it made for a very funny journey that was entertaining at least to Livingston's readers.
All these examples made me remember about the different ways I used to play some of my childhood games. I loved to use the proximity/laser mines in games like Duke Nukem 64, Goldeneye 007 and Jet Force Gemini to create obstacle courses for me and my friends. In 007:The World Is Not Enough and Duke Nukem 64, we used the maps which had houses and different areas to role play or have a match with our own variation of King of the Hill, in which everyone had their own territory. In Perfect Dark, I used to add a team full of bots with low health to have my own version of a Dynasty Warriors FPS. In Super Smash Bros. 64, I putted the damage and item ratio to the maximum and selected only laser swords and Poké Balls to appear. I had way more fun than I should have playing those games like that.
But how about you? What crazy antics and personal challenges have you done in games? Do you have any story you would like to share? I would love to hear it!
Ah, the days of my youth... like the scent of fresh lemons, yousee.
Do you remember when games came with informative, colorful manuals?
Of course you don't, you whippersnapper! You were not even in the belly of your mother during the golden age of gaming. We were fortunate and behaved younglings. Went to church everyday. Had absolute respect for the elders. Fought in the great lemon war to protect our freedom. That was me as a wee lad, oh yes it was.
Nowadays kids don't appreciate their lemons. They don't respect their """old""" man. They only go to church on Sundays. I tell you, this generation is spoiled rotten! All they care about is their greasy hair and "rock" music, and they spend all day playing those newfangled electronic games!
Oh, that is right. Video games. That's what I was talking about, right? My memory is failing me, I tell you!
Young' uns, this is a manual. It taught you how to play the game. Unlike the hand-holding games of today, if you wanted instructions on how to play it, you went to the internet. Or you read the game manual. Either way, you were forced to READ, which is healthy for your spine!
The Super Mario World manual had detailed instructions on every action you could do with every item, with nice illustrations to boot. It also had the game's story and even a map with descriptions of the stages.
Of course, being the first video game ever made, Super Mario World's manual was rough around the edges. It was cool, but was it hip? Not hip like fedoras, it wasn't.
So, the next game manuals took it to the next level. They had trivia. More backstory. Tips and tricks. Some of them even had comics to appeal to our young minds, thanks to the popularity of that animated mouse, Donald.
In short, those manuals were the real deal. One of my favorites is LEGO Island's manual.
It was good. Great, even. But as an old man of experience, I knew they could get better. That was when PC games came and ushered us into a new golden age.
Just... just look at this beauty:
Those manuals were extensive. They basically gave you any information you could ever hope for and more. You could really get lost just reading all the backstory contained in those pages. For some games like RPGs, it was almost essential to read the manual to really understand how the game mechanics worked. If anything, there were perfect for a quick reference.
But now, look at the manual of one of the latest releases:
Grey. Boring. Like these new "movies" thing the kids keep talking about. Where's the ART? Where's the BEAUTY? Where's my heart pi- HNNNNNNG...
*pant* Oh. *pant* That was close. It's a good thing I don't actually exist or else I'd be dead.
Anyway, my point is: I miss the good old days. In my time, manuals were made with love. They were big, colorful. And the players read it with love. But nowadays manuals are tiny, frail things.
Okay, maybe games like Mario don't really need a manual. Everybody knows how to play Mario. Don't they teach that in elementary school like they used to? But games like RPGs, where manuals could truly shine, don't receive the adequate treatment. It would be handy to have a quick reference sheet to check the attributes of a class, the evolution of a Digimon, but we don't even get THAT. It's an abuse!
What was that you just said? Iron Hare? Huh? Oh, you "don't care"? Aaaaaarrrrghh you damned youngsters! You don't understand what it's like to love! Why can't you understand the concept of love? Is there no end to the madness? You are spoiled brats that have no respect for tradition! In my day, all we had to eat was rotten lemons AND WE LIKED IT!
I've about had it with you, GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!
It's okay. I prefer to be left alone anyway. And I will always have my old manuals to keep me company. As long as I have my dearest manual of all time, I will be happy...
[This review is part of my on-going Halloween quest. Check it out!]
Welcome ladies and dawgs to the first installment of my Halloween Quest reviews. I have played and completed American McGee's Alice, and I wish to share my thoughts about this game with you, in a very spooky way.
For those that don't know, American McGee's Alice is a grim continuation of the classic Alice in Wonderland stories. In this game, a fire burns down Alice's house, killing her family. Traumatized, or rather, spookified by the incident, she goes into a comatose state. She lives the next years of her live in an asylum, and one day she revisits Wonderland only to discover it has become a corrupted, spooky place, thanks to the Queen of Hearts' reign. The entire game revolves around Alice traveling through Wonderland, decapitating card men to save the land... and HERSELF (because Wonderland is her subconscious, get it?).
First off, it must be said that this is not a horror game. When I chose this game for my quest, I thought it was going to be disturbing and scary, that Alice would be a goddamn psycho, and that the gameplay would mostly consist of exploring levels while solving puzzles, with just a little bit of action and platforming. Turns out action and platforming are the absolute core of the game. In fact, there's almost no exploration or puzzle-solving here. The levels are linear and the only reward you get for trying to explore is health. Also, the game is not that scary at all! Maybe it's because the visuals are not impressive anymore, but there wasn't a single scene that disturbed or affected me in any way. There's a few "emotional" moments but they fall flat on their faces, thanks to the poor execution and in part to the dated technology. Oh, and Alice is a not a psycho, just a bit disturbed, but polite as a true British Miss. So in the end, this game is just an action/platforming 3D title with a dark art-style and some gore.
But how good is the fighting anyway? Well, I thought it was pretty decent! It's simple - you acquire a variety of weapons throughout the game and most of them have a primary and a secondary attack. The knife is your first and main weapon - you can either slash your enemies or throw it at them (which is very effective early on thanks to it's high damage output). You also get dices that summon demons to help you out, cards that you can throw from a distance and even a staff that hits multiple enemies at the same time with ice.
With 9 weapons (plus a hidden one near the end of the game), you would think there is a lot of strategy and variety to the combat. At some points, yes there is. However, I found out that a lot of the weapons become useless as you progress through the game. The croquet mallet loses it's relevance rather quickly, as does the cards later on because of it's low damage rate. After the you get to the middle of the game, you will have to rely on just a few weapons to be effective against the increasingly tough enemies. I would have preferred if the player had more freedom to mix and match the different weapons. For example, the ice staff could have been strictly a weapon to freeze enemies for a few seconds, so you could put a toy box bomb right next to them to blow them up. Or maybe use the knife to carve a spooky sculpture out of the ice. Stuff like that.
The platforming is... okay. I'm glad it's there to vary the gameplay and give the levels some verticality, but it can be annoying. There's plenty of pitfalls in the game which kills you instantly, forcing you to reload your last save. There's also a flying enemy whose sole purpose is to push you off platforms with their scream. The developers were devilish enough to create situations where you have to jump to the other side but also kill or avoid these enemies. Since the checkpoints are far from each other, this can be especially frustrating on the console version (I will expand on that later).
There's also a few underwater sections. I did not enjoy these. Alice can breath just for a short time, you can only use the knife and there's an evil fish which, though easy to kill, can be a pain in the arse. Thankfully, there's only two or three of these sections.
Oh, and I almost forgot, but there are some boss battles. They are nothing special, some of them can even be annoying, but most were still fun to fight, and they are important to give more narrative to the story.
Like I said before, the levels are rather linear. But not linear like an Uncharted game, I mean they are linear for it's time. You see, Alice is a computer game made in 2000, and old PC games usually had levels designed like mazes. During the year of 2000, games like Deux Ex, Hitman, Thief II, Giants: Citizen Kabuto and No One Lives Forever were released, and all of them had big, open, almost sandbox-like levels. Alice on the other hand had more strict, straight-forward levels. They were still somewhat open and they feel wide, especially for today's standards, but it was not like the other games released at the time.
Despite that, the level design can still be confusing. Often the path you should follow is not immediately obvious, and in some parts you even have to go back to pass through a gate you opened via a switch. And that's what I meant when I said Alice is not linear like most games of today. If you are too used to knowing exactly where you have to go, the level design of this game might feel dated.
The environments of the levels are hit or miss. Some look great even today thanks to the imaginative design, but others, like the photo above, are incredibly barren and boring to look at. But thankfully, most of the game levels are interesting. My favorite probably is the "Pale Realm", a chess-themed world which is visually striking because of it's black and white color scheme. There's also a lot more fighting than platforming in that level!
If you are interested in this game, I would like to make a recommendation: play this game on PC. I played the console version that came with Alice: Madness Returns (the sequel), and ran into a bunch of problems. First, the framerate is not good most of the time, it can get pretty bad in many areas. And occasionally, the control just stops working! At first I thought there was something wrong with my controller, but no. It happens only with this game, and it happens during it's entire length.
Because this game was made for PC, the game was designed with a few PC sensibilities in mind. The main thing I'm talking about is the quicksave feature. In computer games of that time, you could often save your progress anywhere on the level. The quicksave feature saved the exact moment you pressed the button. This means that you could save everytime you made a difficult jump, or right before or after a hard section. The developers assumed you used this feature, so the automatic checkpoints were few and far between. And they felt free to put some harder areas where you could easily be killed, like those flying enemies that push you to your death.
In the console version, you can save anywhere, but it's simply not as convenient as it was on PC. On the computer, saving and loading worked almost instantly, and you just had to press a button. On the PS3, you have to navigate the menu to save your game, and it takes at least 5 seconds to save and reload. It might seem like it's a short time, but believe me when I say it adds up.
Also, selecting weapons is a chore. You have 10 weapons by the end of the game, and you have to switch between each one of them to select the weapon you want to use. This was not a problem on the PC because the weapons were assigned to the keyboard numbers, like a shooter.
So that's why I recommend you play this game on the PC. You will be avoiding a lot of problems that might hurt your enjoyment of the game. If you still want to play it on your console, just remember what I said about the quicksave feature. The game expects you do to it, so don't feel lazy or ashamed to use it as much as you want. I recommend saving right before or after a section in which you think you might die. It will save you a lot of time.
To conclude, I would like to say that yeah, I enjoyed this game. It was frustrating at times and I don't think I will replay it, but it's still a solid game. I do wish it had a more grim and spookier story than it actually has though.
Should you play it? Well, if you're curious and can get it cheap, I say go for it. Just keep your expectations in check and remember that you are playing a computer game from 2000. The sequel might be more worthwhile for most people.
Hello there guys and gals, as you know we are in the spookiest month of the year, October. Halloween is near us, and I wanted to do something special to celebrate it. I have always wanted to do a "games quest" where I play and review some select games. This was inspired mainly by AVGN, this guy's quest to beat every NES game and of course, our very own Lil' Pumpy's series retrospectives.
So, the gist of this particular quest is to play Halloween-related games. I chose 5 games that I never completed, and I plan to beat and write a blog for each one with my thoughts about them.
Also, I would like YOU to participate in the fun! Do your own quest, preferably Halloween-themed, with the format, rules and games you like. The idea is just to have fun revisiting games you love or clearing a bit of your backlog. I would genuinely love to read your blogs.
Anyway, here is my list:
American McGee's Alice HD
I was first introduced to this game when a friend showed it to me at his house. I still remember the opening cutscene where Alice goes to a asylum after a fire burns her house and kills her parents. Seems pretty cliché now, but it was easy to leave an impression on me. The game's title screen still bothers me, though. Those insane eyes and cut wrists!
But I am actually looking forward to tackle this game. Despite not being a fan of horror, I have always been interested in playing this one because of it's twisted take on the well-known children story.
There's few games more appropriate for a Halloween-themed quest than Castlevania. You've got Dracula, Frankenstein and even the Grim Reaper starring in this classic game.
I never played it and I don't have any personal story with this franchise, but I've been very interested in retro games this year, and especially in the original Castlevania games recently thanks to the AVGN's videos about them.
Do you know those games that you are really enjoying but for some reason you just stop playing them? That's my story with Folklore. This one has been in my backlog for years, and I don't know why, but I just never got back to it. I think it's the perfect time to finally sit down and play it to the end, as Folklore's world can be very Halloweeny. Yeah, I just invented that word.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Ah, Majora's Mask. Probably the most polarizing of the Zelda games. Yes, many people praise it as one of the best Zelda games, especially here on Dtoid, but I have seen just as many people bashing the game for it's flaws. Whatever your opinion of Majora's Mask is, you have to agree that it is an interesting game, and very appropriate for this quest.
I never managed to play it as a kid because my parents refused to buy the necessary and expensive expansion pak, but thanks to modern technology I can now easily access it. I have already played quite a lot of it, but I have yet to finish it, so this will be a great opportunity to do so!
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
I bought this game very recently, and again, what a perfect time to play it! It already made me smile multiple times with it's charm, and since I barely played the original game the experience is completely fresh to me. There are some things that bother me though, but I will elaborate on that when the time is right. I can't wait to dive in this quest!
Q: This isn't really spooky, why didn't you choose game "x"?
A: Like I said before, I am not really a fan of horror entertainment. I decided to choose games that I am genuinely excited to play but that still has some link to Halloween. Also, I used "spooky" in the title because I like Halloweeny adjectives.
Q: Why do you suck at writing?
A: Well, English is not my native language and this is my first blog. I know I make a lot of grammar mistakes and my writing can be weird, but I have been holding off on writing blogs for too long. I have got to begin somewhere, right?
Q: I don't like you!
So there you have it, folks. I don't really have a schedule but I will try to beat them all before Halloween, so drop by from time to time. I hope you will consider doing a quest of your own, you have at least one guaranteed reader!