The darkness to every light, the shadow to every shine, the dusk to every dawn, the Luna to every Sol.
And vice versa.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to game. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.
I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Finally, as is to be expected I'm super excited for the new WiiU "Xeno-" game!
The Wii is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
Xenoblade Chronicles (see also: Baten Kaitos - Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean for GC)
Zelda: Twilight Princess / Skyward Sword
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Wario Land: Shake it!
and Metroid Prime Trilogy.
I love my WiiU as well, and even though there aren't that many games out for it right now, I'm having tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.
Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Dungeons of Dredmor
Mark of the Ninja
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
To The Moon
Orcs Must Die! 2
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
and many, many more!
Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!
Food for thought: the RuneScape theft It is the 6th of September 2007, in a little town in the middle of nowhere. A 13-year-old boy, let's call him Petey McShade for ease-of-use, is alone in his room playing RuneScape. Apparently his friends have failed to smack him upside the head for still playing RuneScape in this day and age. Their judgment will come later, but first there are more important matters to discuss. At about a quarter to three, two classmates of this boy enter his house with ill intent. Under threats of beating him up they demand Petey to log into his RuneScape account and transfer all of his gold and items to their own characters. Afterwards the incident is reported to the police, and both classmates are caught and prosecuted for, among others, assaulting and threating Petey. Justice has been done.
But much like in LOST, pressing questions remain unanswered. Questions such as "What was up with the numbers?", "Why did the Others want Walt so badly?" and "Seriously, who still plays RuneScape?!"
But the most pressing question of all is this: did those two classmates steal Petey's gold and items? But while you think about that, let me discuss some other highly important points on digital property, and I'll come back to this case in a little bit.
Digital Property: The Ages Past Digital property is a very broad thing. It comprises digital video games and their licenses first and foremost, but also virtual items, in-game currency and potentially much more. The question is whether or not we can say we "own" them. This is important because ownership grants a whole slew of important rights: uncompromisable enjoyment of your property, being able to resell it, you name it! You can do a lot more with something you own than with something you have gotten "licensed". From the recent developments I've seen, I think we may soon be seeing important revolutions in the way we look at our digital property rights. The above case is one of them, which I'll come to later. I want to use this case to illustrate a bigger point. The point that maybe...maybe we're about to enter the Third Age of digital property rights.
First things first though. If I'm going to claim that the Third Age is upon us, let me first explain what I believe the previous two ages have been.
The First Age ranges from the very start of video gaming up until not more than 10 years ago. Back then, video game ownership was incredibly simple. There was only one principle: you own what you buy.
Sometimes this came in the form of cartridges, like with the Nintendo and Sega consoles, sometimes the game would be built into the system, as with Pong, and later on most companies went on to use CDs. Sure you had to blow on the cartridge every once in a while to get it to work or your disc would get scratched, but otherwise the enjoyment of your property was completely uncompromised. You bought your game, you played your game until you were done, and all was well in the world. The whole digital thing was new, and publishers and consumers alike didn't really think of the implications, nor were they ever a problem. Technically even then you were buying a copyright license rather than an actual game, but back then that simply didn't worry anyone. The game was yours.
In short, the First Age looked much like this:
The Second Age is where it gets a tad more complicated.
This era only really started a couple of years ago, but it took an enormous flight very quickly. Video game publishers came to realize that they were really only selling a game's copyright license rather than an actual product, and that interesting things could be done with a model like that. This is the model that is still prevalent today.
Owning the CD didn't necessarily mean anymore that you could play the game. Your license could be revoked for cheating or from trying to mod the game. And remember those games you could only install a limited number of times? What does that say about your property rights? Little good, I fear. The same applies to online passes, and the recent events with Diablo 3 and SimCity have also shown quite well that you no longer own what you buy. You own what the publisher let's you own, which isn't a lot as we've seen. This model of selling a restrictive license spread even more quickly in light of digital distribution. Steam, XBLA, PSN, you name it. Every one of them sells you a license instead of a game, and don't ever make the mistake of thinking those companies aren't fully aware of the implications.
For fun and profit, I decided to take a quick look at the license agreement that Steam uses. I came across some neat things which I think very nicely summarize the current state of digital property. In that context, I think the very best one is this:
"Valve hereby grants, and you accept, a limited, terminable, non-exclusive license and right to use the Software for your personal use in accordance with this Agreement, including the Subscription Terms. The Software is licensed, not sold. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Software." (emphasis mine)
Remember: as a Steam user you agreed to this. And I don't know about you, but I'd say that quote makes this next screen rather...interesting.
Apparently Valve PR and Valve Legal disagree over whether or not I own my Steam games.
As it stands the implications of this model are quite worrisome indeed. It implies that the distributer can simply revoke your right to access the game for any reason they remember to put in the license agreement. Cheats and hacks are often in there, but we're seeing other things as well. We have even seen cases where legal troubles on the publisher's side led to every single sold license being revoked. Finally, in another of Steam's license agreement provision it says that Valve explicitly does not guarantee access to your games. Firstly, that means that when it comes to non-functioning games, say because of an always-online model, you're simply shit out of luck. But taken to its logical extreme, any reason whatsoever could be grounds for revoking your game. Because hey, it's not like you own those games anyway, right?
I use these points not because I hate Steam (far from it), but simply to illustrate that in the current video game climate there does not exist such a thing as ownership. Even if you hold a physical disc in your hands this model applies: you can own the disc, but never the game. Publishers simply don't want that, they're much too happy selling an easily revokable license to you. I fully suggest that you read the license agreement to any video game or distribution service you have, because I'm sure you'll find similar terminology there, if not worse.
So summing up the Second Age:
Fortunately, however, we may already be on the brink of the Third Age.
Entering the Third Age Nowadays, it seems that increasingly many people understand the big implications behind the current practices of digital ownership. This number is only likely to grow in the future.
First and foremost, the gamers themselves are starting to get fed up with a lot of this. People were very critical of Origin's licensing when that came out, for one. Even now the common consensus seems to be that as long as a game doesn't force you to use Origin, you stay away from it like it's Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. We just don't trust EA with a Steam-like system. Besides that, the idea that one of the next major consoles will be always-online chills us to the bone. When the license agreement prescribes that we need to be online for the game or the console to function, we immediately see that this definitely wasn't what we as gamers signed up for. After all, how will we play the games we bought and own?
We have also seen a rise in services that try to be more consumer-friendly in selling their games. One reason for why the Humble Indie Bundles have become so very popular is that you can simply get an installer if you so desire. No more digital platform with a restrictive license that may prove unreliable in the future: you make a back-up of your installer somewhere, and the game will forever be yours. Singular indie devs often allow you to download an installer from their site as well, as does GOG. Strictly speaking this practice of giving you an installer that you're free to back up does not by definition mean that you "own" all of those games now, but we are already getting to a situation that is quite similar to the First Age. You technically may not own it, but you're getting so close it doesn't really matter anymore. Everything you could do with your NES-cartridges you can also do with those installers, short of tossing them out the window to see if they really are indestructible.
While gamers and some distributers have already learned, non-gamers are starting to wise up as well. They too are starting to realize that selling a software license is a model that is very open to abuse, and that digital ownership needs to become a real thing. Consumer organizations are starting to get worried over some of these practices and some countries that have extensive consumer rights regulation have already put restrictions on the publishers and distributers. By Valve's own admission some parts of Steam's license agreement aren't applicable to the EU, and for good reason: that shit just doesn't fly there. Moreover, just last year the European Court of Justice took a major step in the right direction, when it ruled that a copyright holder cannot prevent you from reselling his license. Think about the implications this may have for digital video game distribution! This judgment could make it possible to set up a market for used Steam games! And you and I both know you've got games on your Steam account you'd be better off selling.
There are some other interesting things to be taken from this particular judgment. For example, at one point the Court explicitly states that downloading a game and concluding a license cannot be seen separately, but must be taken together as a whole. Once again I can't help but see the seeds of a true property right on digital games and software. The Court sees that your Setup.exe is useless if you're not allowed to actually install your game. So doesn't it makes sense to see it as one product? One that you can own? I think so. The license model has already been dealt a hefty blow with this judgment, a blow that not even a binding contract could parry, so I don't think it's a stretch to say that a true property right may yet be on the horizon.
In fact, there is reason to believe that the Third Age may go farther than even the first. Back in the NES days it was almost unfathomable that you could actually own not only your video game, but even your in-game items. I already explained that owning your video games is starting to become a reality. However, with cases like the RuneScape one described above, even ownership of virtual in-game items is becoming a very good possibility.
I was withholding this information from you earlier to get you thinking, but Petey's classmates were actually first and foremost prosecuted for theft. But only if we own our virtual items can they be stolen. So the question before the court was: do we?
There are definitely some strong technical arguments you could bring into this to argue that this isn't the case. You could say that the items never existed, that they were nothing more than "bits and bytes" inherently unsuitable for ownership. Or you could say the items never belonged to Petey in the first place. Don't the items technically belong to the guys running RuneScape? It's their game after all. In that case, nothing was ever stolen, because the items never left their owner.
The court, however said that virtual items are indeed property. Petey was the owner of his items, and the conduct by his classmates amounted to theft. What was at stake was our expectations as gamers as to the ownership of our virtual goods. The court brought the law in line with those expectations, with the reality of the digital world, and I for one applaud the judges for taking a very modern and worldly view on this matter. The court explicitly took into account that the items are felt to have a value to their original owner (in fact, the victim testified that he was "rich" in RuneScape) as well as to the suspects. Moreover, acquiring these riches requires time and effort on the player's part. I think I speak for all of us when I say that this is exactly and entirely correct. Acquiring in-game items does take a heck of a lot of time, and off course these items have a value to us. And if that's the case, why shouldn't we own them?
But let's change the facts of the case a little bit. In actuality, a RuneScape amulet was stolen. It had some sort of worth, but it couldn't have been a whole lot. But now: let's change "RuneScape amulet" to "Second Life house", or to "EVE Online spaceship". After all, if there's any place where there is real money to be found in virtual items, it's there. Without ownership of virtual items, entire virtual houses worth thousands of dollars can be stolen without significant repercussions and without compensation for the victim. You could even simply consider this issue with games featuring micro-transactions, as so many MMO's have nowadays. What if Petey had bought his amulet for two dollars? That's undeniably a worth right there. I can only imagine that the court saw this and judged accordingly. And with that in mind, I couldn't be happier that it took this brave step.
Closing off In short, recent developments in law, as well as the growing awareness among gamers and even many others as to the problems with the current state of digital property, are sending me a clear message. The message that this model will not last forever. This applies both to the license model and the virtual items situation. For both, a turning point is coming; we may yet come to truly own them.
So what about you? What would digital property mean for you? What do you hope owning your games would change? Do you want to go in and mod them? Do you want to be able to resell your games, or do you want protection against loss of your save files? What about virtual items; do you think they should be protected as your property, and does it matter if we're talking about an MMO or a singleplayer game? Should they be shown the same respect as physical items?
In short, where would you want the Third Age to lead us?
I mentioned last week that I still had two blogs that I wanted to write in the near future. Well...this was not one of them. However, something came up a few days ago that I felt warranted this topic being done a tad earlier than planned.
I think everyone about my age can relate: back when you were younger, say high school age, there were a couple of free online games you played which looking back were really pretty bad. Runescape seems to be a major offender for most people. You probably played it at some point, but you wouldn't be caught dead playing it now. Maple Story is another favorite, although I hear that one actually holds up pretty decently even now. I never played Runescape myself, but my friend got me into Maple Story a little bit. I didn't play it for very long, and my friend got way more into it than I ever did.
But there was another game my friend showed me back then. A game I wound up putting tons more hours in than he ever could have imagined when he showed it to me.
This was a little game called Rakion: Chaos Force.
If I have to sum up Rakion, it's basically a F2P class-based PvP melee MMO. Yeah, say that three times fast. But really, you should just think Team Fortress or Monday Night Combat, but replace all the guns with swords, and you'll be pretty close. That right there is more or less what Rakion was like, at least in theory, and I loved the crap out of it. In fact, the very reason I'm writing this blog is because I firmly believe that this concept still has promise.
The main game was more or less divided into three modes. You had your basic Free-for-all, which was pretty fun in and of itself but nothing special. There was Team Deathmatch, in which people were paired up in groups of six or so and scored points by killing the other team. Standard Deathmatch, no complaints; personally I found this mode to be a heck of a lot of fun. Finally, there was Golem Mode, and this worked much like Capture the Flag. Again people would be paired up into two teams, and each team had a large Golem creature in their base. The teams would then try to kill the other team's Golem in order to win the round. The trick is that you couldn't actually hurt the other team's Golem right away. Instead there was a large Golden Golem in the middle of the map. At the start of each match both teams would rush in towards the Golden Golem, which could be killed by regular attacks. The person who scored the final hit would gain a golden aura, and this meant that he or she was now able to damage the Golem at the opponent's base. Off course, this resulted in one team trying their hardest to protect their golden ally, and the other team trying even harder to kill him. This was a pretty neat mode, all in all. Either way, there could have been more variety in gameplay modes (there was a solo PvE-style mode, but fuck that noise), but overall it was fun enough for a free MMO.
Rakion featured five classes when I played it, and looking at the website now that hasn't changed yet. They are pictured below. From top to bottom, there's the Blacksmith, the Archer, the Warrior, the Ninja and the Mage.
Take a second to guess which one I picked. Go on, guess.
Each character had different strengths and weaknesses, as you would expect. There was a little combo system in place, but these combos were only a couple of hits tops. Besides that, each character had a ranged attack, with some being more reliant on it than others. The system was simple, but it worked and it felt right. There was one other special thing about all the characters, but I'll get to that later.
The Warrior was your standard all-round guy. He wielded a sword which actually had a pretty decent reach, but there's not much to say about him. His ranged attack was a knife throw. It was pretty difficult to aim, but you didn't really ever use it anyway. You had to take a second to equip your ranged weapon before you could use it with all the characters, and you had to equip your melee again afterwards, so for most characters ranged was neglected in favor of simply running up to your opponent and sticking a sword in their gut.
The Ninja was the fast one. She had two knives, ran fast and had quick combos but pretty low health. These were always a pain to fight. For ranged she had shurikens: these sucked in PvP but were insanely overpowered against Golems and other creatures. You never saw a match in Golem Mode without a Ninja or two.
The Blacksmith was the big dude. He was slow but could dish out tons of damages with that warhammer he wielded. He was pretty fun to play as, and his design was cool. For his ranged attack he had throwing axes. They did good damage, but much like the Warrior's ultimately weren't worth it. Free players could use three character slots, and a Blacksmith filled one of mine.
The Mage, whilst being so small, was another heavy hitter. His normal attacks had very short range, but he had a heavy attack in which he sent out a row of icicles in front of him. This was slow and left you open, but did huge damage and juggled anyone who got in the way. For ranged he shot homing fireballs, which was another slow but powerful attack. The Mage is another class I really liked the design on, and they were a lot of fun to use all things considered. This was the class I used as my secondary character, only surpassed by off course:
The Archer, my main (did you guess right?) was your go-to ranged gal. She had a short sword, but her combos and reach left much to be desired: slow, low damage, incredibly not worth it. Her ranged attack was obviously her bow, and this thing was her greatest strength. She was fast with this thing as well, and once you got the aiming down you were capable of wrecking people before they could even get close. The physics behind her arrows were very well done, and you really had to learn the aiming system in order for your shot to hit its mark. After a lot of training, you knew exactly how high you had to aim to hit that moving target at the other side of the map, but once you got good you could hit him every time. There was nothing more satisfying than taking your shot, waiting a second, and seeing that asshole Ninja in the distance flinch right before she got a hit off on your teammate.
Her bow was, paradoxically, even very good at close range. You could always tell the good Archers from the bad ones by looking at which of them switched to the sword when enemies came close. Rule #1 of the Rakion Archer: Never, EVER, take your sword out. Bow all day, every day. Even when enemies got right up in your face, your bow was your best friend. The thing is the Archer shot fast. Like, really fast. She could shoot so quickly that it was completely viable to lure your opponents into doing an attack, dodge and fire. Each hit stunned as well, so if you were lucky and quick, you could get off multiple hits at once. This was a fucking blast! There was also the element of learning to predict your opponent's moves which was another incredibly satisfying experience once you saw it pay off. Once you got good with her, the Archer was a beast both close range and long. And considering all the time I spent practicing, I think it's safe to say I got pretty good indeed.
One problem the Archer did have was that she sucked at Golem. Her arrows didn't do enough damage to creatures to be viable, so you were often reliant on the rest of your team. Except for that little fact that Golem Mode didn't have respawns. Once you were dead you stayed dead, and killing all your opponents was an alternate win condition. So while everyone else was hitting the Golden Golem I usually got myself a place with a nice view, so to speak, and kept picking off the enemies. This way they'd get stunned every few seconds so I bought my team time to kill the Golem for me, and on the off chance that an enemy managed to score the last hit he had already taken so much damage that killing him before he reached our base was no trouble at all. There's also that little fact that almost everyone who got the gold aura instinctively ran towards the other team's Golem in a straight line. A word of advice: do not run in straight lines when Archers are on the prowl.
Remember kids, you can't spell "funnel" without "fun"!
Eventually, some people would get so fed up with me picking away at them while they were concentrating on the Golem that they'd come after me instead. Now the Archer was a class that in my opinion was often grossly underestimated. So every once in a while an overconfident Blacksmith who got fed up with me came after me with the idea that he'd just kill me real quick and focus on the important stuff afterwards. Nine times out of ten, he left as a pincushion. That is, if he left at all. Back then, that was the best feeling in the world.
There was also this one time where I was the only one left of my team going up against three or four scattered opponents, and my own team kept urging me to switch to the sword. Because be serious, how is an Archer going to fight close range with just a bow? About ten minutes later, in what admittedly must have been my best Rakion match ever and perhaps my best multiplayer match ever period, they knew exactly how one fights close range with a bow. I won us the round that time, because each of the opponents figured they could easily take me one on one. Had they come together there would've been major problems, but none of them saw the need at that time. I don't think they ever made that mistake again. Perhaps I was wrong earlier. This was the best feeling in the world.
Anyways, the final general thing you need to know about Rakion is the Chaos system. After a certain amount of kills, and sometimes after a certain amount of deaths as a pity prize, your character could go into Chaos Mode. You became a lot bigger, were immune to damage and stun and did fucktons of damage. Basically, you were given the option to for a limited time FUCK.SHIT.UP. See each character's Chaos form below. The Mage's Chaos Form in particular was very cool, but the Ninja became even more of a bitch than she already was anyway. All in all this was a decent system, but it didn't add a whole lot. The game could've done without.
From left to right: Blacksmith, Ninja, Mage, Archer and Warrior.
This was more or less the full game, and I loved it. There were a lot of things that made this game work, but most of all it was being able to play a class-based game like this at melee range with swords and magic. Hopefully you too are able to see what made Rakion this unique little snowflake. Never before or since have I seen a game quite like this, and that's a massive shame. Because unfortunately, there's a reason I refer to Rakion as "crappy" in my title. This game had a slew of problems. While I didn't see those at the time, looking back on it now they really do break the game. I haven't gotten it to run on my Windows 7, but I doubt things have improved much since then.
Firstly, this was one of the first games I ever played where "F2P" reared its ugly head. You could get to level 20 for free, but after that your character stopped getting skill points upon level up unless you paid. Even back then I refused to pay for shit like this, so I was perpetually stuck at level 20. This was more of a skillbased game anyway, so it didn't matter much, but it was still annoying.
Secondly, Golem Mode gave huge XP gains compared to the other modes, so ultimately that was what almost 90% of the people played. Whereas Golem Mode was pretty fun as I discussed before, every once in a while you want something different. I myself loved Team Deathmatch since the Archer was pretty unsuited for Golem matches from the get-go, but those games were rare and yielded only a fraction of the XP and gold.
Thirdly, the balance in this game was whack. I have never seen such strange balancing in a class-based game. If I have to summarize it: every character was overpowered. In groups, that is. Rakion had this very strange thing in that every class was utterly broken if you had an entire team of them. Five Warriors were completely devastating, as were five Mages, as were five Ninjas, et cetera. In other games you want to make sure you have a variety of classes in your team for maximum effectiveness. In Rakion, whenever you saw a team all with the same class, you knew you were screwed, and it didn't even matter which particular class it was. To this day I have no clue how this could've happened, but that's what it was like.
Finally and by far the most painful, the netcode was complete shit. It was very rare to find a game where none of the players had huge ping, and disconnects were frequent. Lag was the rule rather than the exception, and if you could go two matches without the game crashing you were in luck.
Long story short: when this is your game's tagline, you know what time it is.
So all in all, Rakion: Chaos Force was pretty much riddled with problems. But riddle me this: what games are there that did anything like what Rakion tried to achieve? Anything at all?
Rakion had such an amazingly fun concept. You take a class-based MMO and replace the Snipers with Archers, the Heavies with Blacksmiths and the Scouts with Ninja's. You make the players get up close and personal and have them play all sorts of fun modes. They really don't have to be anything special. A simple game of Team Deathmatch or Capture the Flag changes dramatically once you take guns out of the equation. All of a sudden you need to buy your golden teammate some time, because he still has to kill the enemy's Golem and that's going to take a while. All of a sudden you have to wall off your base with Warriors and Blacksmiths, while your Archers and Mages fire away at the gold enemy before he can reach your base. All of a sudden you don't have to worry about getting close to the heavy hitter before he shreds you to bits (with a minigun, say) because he too can only do damage up close. There's all these little things that happen when you make a class-based MMO melee, but the only game I've ever seen do it was Rakion.
Where are my class-based melee MMOs, game industry? No seriously, where are they?
I have heard it said that the Dark Messiah of Might and Magic multiplayer is somewhat similar to this. Unfortunately however, I only managed to play that game relatively recently, and the multiplayer is long dead. Other than that, I'm coming up empty. Some MOBAs seem to go Rakion's direction somewhat, but more often than not MOBAs devolve into "hit the special attack button and hope it dies" whereas Rakion was much more about using your standard combos at the right time and dodging when needed. Still nothing like I was searching for.
But then something happened.
A couple of days ago, an Early Access game went up on Steam called ArcheBlade. I'm pretty sure nobody had ever heard of it. This was its trailer:
I want it said that "Dick the Megaton" is the best character name ever.
It looked...great! I was ecstatic! It has a class system, a focus on melee, simple combos with some special moves, cool characters, Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch. Could this be the game I was waiting for? Could this be Rakion, except not shitty?
Well, kind of.
This game definitely has the right idea, and it reminds me of Rakion in the best possible way. The trailer shows its potential and it definitely looks the closest to Rakion I've ever seen something come. In fact, someone on the Steam forums has already compared the two games as well.
Unfortunately, this seems like another game which doesn't bring out the full potential of the concept. I played it for a while yesterday and was left disappointed. From what I've seen your characters always attack in the direction the camera is facing rather than where the character itself is facing. This isn't much of a problem, except that it takes even the most minute angles into account. You'll be attacking an enemy, but when you turn the camera a little bit to look at who might be approaching, your next attack is going to miss simply because you turned the camera ever so slightly. More than anything this ensures that you'll never stand any chance fighting more than one opponent at a time. Either you can't focus, or you can't see. Moreover, in all the matches I played yesterday, not once did I manage to fight someone one on one. This game has a huge tendency to bundle up all the players in a small area, ultimately ensuring that fights become too chaotic for the system to really show its stuff.
Once again F2P rears its ugly head, even more horribly than Rakion's ever did. ArcheBlade, you see, makes you buy every single character. Yeah. Free to play my ass. You want to try your hand at a defensive class? Pay up. How about ranged? Pay up again. Your quick hitter sucks? Well too bad then, you already paid for it. You can pay about 20 bucks for the starter pack, but all evidence points to this game being one of those F2P titles. You know the ones. Finally, in the games of ArcheBlade I played there was also a good amount of lag present, pointing to another instance of bad netcode. And since ArcheBlade is a bit faster paced than Rakion was it becomes all the more annoying.
You like these characters? That will be 3 bucks each kthxbye.
When I think about it that way and I read the above paragraphs, I could actually see ArcheBlade becoming someone else's Rakion. I imagine right now there's a kid just like me back in high school who is loving the shit out of ArcheBlade, wondering why there are no other major games like this.
...but it looks like we'll have to keep on searching for that one game that will get it right.
So come on, gaming industry: make me that class-based melee game. Make me a Capture the Flag with swords and bows. Make me a 4v4 Deathmatch with ninjas and magic. ArcheBlade is already a step in the right direction. Keep going, keep going.
Make me Rakion again. ....but please...make it good this time.
So I figured that, after raving about how much I want this to become a real thing we do on Destructoid, I should probably do my own version of calling dibs. The very least I can do is complete the trio started by burningsoup and Pixielated. Seriously though; all of you go write these. Do one retro-actively for all I care. Just make it happen. I'll even get Holmes to give you a kiss.
Froakie, you say? Chespin? Come now. We know we can't all have the best starter for Pokémon X and Y, but is that really a reason to give up that easily? You didn't have to delude yourself into thinking that you want Froakie or Chespin; you could've fought for Fennekin, like he deserves. Well too bad, you're too late now.
Now I've got dibs on Fennekin, and there's nothing you can do about it. Why do I have dibs? Oh you ignorant fool, there are so many reasons that Fennekin beats all. But you know what? I'll give you a tiny sample, just to rub it in that you can't have him anymore.
- Fennekin can be both cute and badass. Even at the same time. Don't believe me? Watch!
Take careful note of those other two guys being not-at-all-badass
He is sleeping in a ring of fire. Have you ever seen anything that simultaneously cute and badass? Off course you haven't. Let's see Froakie or Chespin pull that off! So far Froakie has only been able to look like he hasn't got a clue about anything that's going on around him, and Chespin is so happy his parents should seriously consider a sugar-free diet. But Fennekin? Cute. Badass. DONE.
- Animals of the other starters already exist. Fennekin is unique. Completely and utterly unique. Unfortunately, that doesn't hold true for our Grass and Water friends. Let's take a look:
Froakie is, obviously, a frog. But wait, haven't we seen that before? In fact, yes we have. Politoed, Seismitoad, and Toxicroak are all examples of frog-Pokémon, only one of which isn't a Water-type.
Chespin fares a little better. He bears some resemblance to a squirrel, but this position is already taken by Pokémon such as Pachirisu and Emolga. But you know what, fair enough, he probably isn't a squirrel. The other thing he looks like is a mole. Sorry, little guy, but that position is already taken as well, and Drilbur wouldn't like you messing with his game.
And what about Fennekin? Entirely unique. Not once in the entire series of Pokémon have we seen anything resembling a Fennec, or even a fox, let alone a Fire type fox. Except Vulpi None at all.
- Fennekin is legit the best fire-starter since Torchic. Charmander was a great starter. Cyndaquil was noticeably less interesting, but the starters of the second generation were kind of weak as a whole. Torchic was great again; he was an awesome little fire chicken who could kick you square in the face once it grew up. But then came Chimchar and Tepig. Chimchar literally had a flame coming out of his butt, and Tepig was...a pig I guess? I'm sorry, but there's just so little to say about these guys. They're the vanilla of Pokémon, flavorless animals colored reddish to convince us they were Fire types. Besides, what the hell kind of name is "Tepig"? And don't even get me started on their evolutions.
Fennekin, however, has revived my love for the Fire-starter. Besides being cute and badass (see above), he is the first Fire-starter since Torchic to really have an identity of its own. It's based on a relatively niche animal compared to Chimchar and Tepig, and his large ears and tufts of fire-hair give him a charm that's hard not to appreciate. Moreover, Game Freak didn't feel the need to color him orange this time around, instead going with a much nicer yellow. They know he can stand on his own merits, that he isn't "random animal but now FIRE!" like his predecessors. He's a fennec and he's fire, and that makes enough sense as is.
- Nobody uses Internet Explorer anyway. Admit it: the last time you used Internet Explorer it was to download Firefox. Firefox is a good browser, Fennekin is a Fire fox. Quod erat demonstrandum, he said in Julius Caesarese.
Oh, and while we're at it, I've also got dibs on Zapdos.
- Fennekin may be a Psychic type and Psychic kicks ass. If the rumors are to be believed, all of the starters this time around may receive an additional type. So far, Bulbasaur is still the only starter with two types, because he hails from a time where Grass-Pokémon were obligated by law to also be Poison-type. But perhaps that will change in Generation VI. In fact, if the rumors are true, Chespin will be Grass/Dark, Froakie Water/Fighting and Fennekin Fire/Psychic.
You may recognize the Psychic-type as the type that was completely and utterly broken in the first Generation of Pokémon, where it devastated everything in its path. Off course, ever since then the type has been nerfed considerably, but as far as pure power, Special Attack, goes you still can't go wrong with a Psychic-type.
And Fennekin may be one. Apart from scorching its foes to a fine crisp, he may also have the ability to fling you straight into the wall with its mind. In fact, he'll even be able to fling Wailord around with his mind. Think about that. Yoda was able to lift a small spaceship with the Force, Luke could barely move his lightsaber, Fennekin FLINGS FUCKING WHALES WITH HIS MIND.
Chespin's going to fight like a cheating bitch, Froakie thinks he's Kung Fu Panda, Fennekin outclasses Yoda. There's just no contest here, honestly.
But that's not all. If Fennekin turns out to be a Fire/Psychic, there's only one other Pokémon that (consistently) shares his type. The only Fire/Psychic Pokémon currently in existence is Victini, a Legendary Pokémon from Black and White. So not only will Fennekin have a cool typing, he'll only have to share it with a Legendary who is also the Victory Pokémon. Froakie, on the other hand, will share his type with a tadpole, and Chespin will share his with a cactus and a tree. Not quite the same, is it?
- Fennekin will not be a Fighting type because I will personally punch the entirety of Game Freak in the face. 'nuff said.
Alternatively, I will hug this baby fennec... No, that has nothing to do with anything; I just wanted an excuse to hug him.
- Fennekin has hair coming out of its ears that is also fire. Did you know that unicorn earhairs cure every disease known to man and can grant eternal life to penguins? It's true! Point is, ear hairs are awesome, and Fennekin's got them in spades. What's more, his ear hair is fire! He has the best fire-hair this side of LeChuck, and that's gotta count for something.
- Fennekin has the most potential for evolutions. When we first saw Charmander, how many of us could've imagined that he would evolve into the awesome dragon that is Charizard? Torchic is an even better example; how many of us foresaw that tiny chicken turn into a fearsome combination of fire, chicken and Bruce Lee?
The thing is, Fire starters have a history of turning out more awesome than you would think, whereas the others just tend to turn into a bigger version of themselves. I'll grant you Snivy, but otherwise the point more or less stands. At this point, we can only imagine what Fennekin's evolutions are going to look like. Still, it is very clear that we can expect something awesome, whatever it is. I could see him going the route of Amaterasu, and I'd be all over that.
- Red was my first ever video game. Yep, it was. Pokémon Red was the first real game I've ever played, and it was what got me into gaming in the first place. Pokémon Red also had the final evolution of the Fire-starter on the cover. So, in a strange and entirely roundabout way, Fire-Pokémon are what got me into gaming. With that in mind, how could I possibly not love Fennekin?
And last but not least: - There’s a Fennekin plushie. Can’t argue with the plushies.
And that concludes it, you can't possibly need any more evidence than this. As you can clearly see, there is only one real option for a starter in Pokémon X and Y, and that is Fennekin. He's cute, badass, may be Psychic, is entirely unique, has massive potential, and has a plushie. In short, we all want him.
Well, sucks to be you then, because he's already mine!
As most if you will probably know, I don't tend to blog all that much. This is mostly due to time reasons, and because I don't always have anything interesting to say. I often write something when something specific has popped up that I want to talk about, but that only happens every once in a while. With this blog, I want to try things a little bit differently.
I've often made it a point that I love to share the things I like. There's just something about giving other people the chance to fall in love with the things I've been enjoying for so long that makes me want to do it time and time again. Besides that, it's also a great way to show my own appreciation of the things that mean so much to me. Finally, this allows you guys to get to know me just that little bit better. So I've decided that, rather than doing posts based on random things that pop up every now and again, I'm going to start a sort of series of just me sharing good shit. Or just regular ol' shit, if I feel so inclined. I'm not going to promise that these are going to be weekly (God knows I can't), or even monthly, but I hope to be able to update this whenever I have time and inspiration.
Here's how it's going to work. In every new edition of Shade Shares, I'm going to pick a particular theme. These can be genres, gameplay elements, plot points, or anything else really. In the blog, I'm first going to try to explain why this theme is so important to me, followed by as many of my favorite examples as I feel the need to share.
"So basically it's a top 10 only you call it something else?" Shut up, you.
Seriously though, these are not actually meant to be Top 10's or anything like that. I don't intend to claim that the things I post here are the best, or the only good ones.
Basically, if I'm going to sum it up, it's this:
"Look you guys, these are things I like, have some." Simple as that.
Anyway, let's be off! For the sake of trying the new site with Youtube embedding and because of the already large number of posts regarding OSTs in the past week, this time Shade Shares Soundtracks!*
Shedding a Light**
Ah, the soundtrack. Was there ever a greater piece of music than that? Beethoven, Mozart or even Justin Bieber, all the greats have nothing on the likes of Koji Kondo, Hans Zimmer or Nobuo Uematsu. Personally, I can't tell you how much I love Original Soundtracks, and those of video games in particular. Currently, I have over 14GB worth of soundtracks on this computer alone, spread over almost 4500 files spanning well over 50 games, including some that most people won't even have heard of. It's gotten to the point that I rarely listen to anything else anymore. I can hardly remember the last time I listened to an actual band and I can't for the life of me tell you which "hot" songs are on the charts right now. I guess "Gangnam Style" is on there? Is that still a thing? If "Call Me Maybe" still is I might have to go and punch something.
Either way, what is it that I love about video game soundtracks? There's a couple of reasons for this, actually.
Most importantly, it's because they bring back great memories. With one exception which we'll get to later, all the soundtracks I have belong to games I've played and loved. Because of this, I can listen to any song on its OST and instantly be transported back into the game. Hyrule Field is only two clicks away, as is World 1-1, Phendrana Drifts or any of the other worlds I've had the joy of visiting in all my time as a gamer. Even when I don't actually remember hearing a specific song in the game, just hearing it and recognizing its style is enough for all sorts of great memories to come rushing back. Once we get to my actual sharings, I'll be sure to give you some which invoke this particularly well. If you love playing video games, wouldn't you want to take that feeling with you everywhere you go? Off course you do, and that's what OSTs are for. Either that or handhelds I guess.
Secondly, I believe that video game soundtracks are developed in a unique way, like no other music before it. Above anything else, game music is designed to be listened to on repeat, more so than any other type of music. Think about it, if you've created a three-minute song for the Obligatory Fire Dungeon of Dragons and Lava, how are you going to deal with a player that takes an hour to get to the end? There's just no composing against that, so you do the only thing you reasonably can do; you make your song loop. And don't even get me started on battle themes, which you have to hear hundreds of times in a single playthrough! But then, that poses a new problem. How do you make a three-minute song play twenty times in a row without it becoming annoying is hell? Honestly, I couldn't tell you how. I have the musical ability of a deaf chimp on crack, so you really shouldn't be asking me these things. Luckily, less crappy people than me have managed to find a way, and they are the greats that we all remember.
All of this results in music that you will know by heart at the end of the game, being exposed to it for so long, as well as music that you can always listen to without any problems. Video game songs are rarely linked to specific scenes, as movie OSTs so often are, so they will invoke the general feeling of the game without causing a disconnect if you don't have the game itself in front of you, and you can listen to them as many times as you want, because that is exactly what they were designed for! That really is unique in the music world, and it's just another special factor in my undying love.
Alternatively, you get a 20-minute song like "Dancing Mad", that also works
There are many other things that I love about these pieces of music, and I'm constantly finding more. The fact that you can interact with the music in many games (you know that at some point in your life you tapped the fire button in time with the music, don't deny it), and their ability to have an amazing variety of songs (tied to different areas in the game) but still maintain a single general theme are just some of the things I really like. All in all, we should always cherish all the great things about this hobby of ours, and the video game soundtrack is one of those things that deserve our recognition.
Well, here we are! Hopefully this is what you've been waiting for. Now that I've tried to explain my thought process regarding game music, allow me to share some specific ones that are special to me. There are many more were these came from, and they aren't even all my favorites, but I picked these because I had something specific to say about them. Well, that, and the fact that they're awesome. So yeah.
Ocean Theme - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
This is bar none my favorite song to travel to. I honestly can't think of any song that sounds more adventurous than this one. And how could it not be awesome? After all, it plays when a young boy and his magical talking ship take to the seas on an epic journey across the seven seas (or one giant one)! I've never found anything quite like it, and that speaks volumes for this song. Not even other Zelda themes like "Hyrule Field" can compete. Whether you're traveling by plane, bus or even by foot, every mile will feel like an adventure with this in your ears. You'll almost be able to picture the Great Sea, and the many tales you have to tell about it.
People's thoughts about The Wind Waker are mixed. Hell, mine are. Many people thought that the sailing in particular could be kind of boring, and should have been sped up. Me, personally? Not once have I had any problem with any of the sailing I had to do. And I'm sure you can already guess why.
Kainé~Escape - NieR
Above, I mentioned that almost every OST I have belongs to a game I've played, but for one exception. NieR is that exception. I never actually picked this game up myself, but I did watch a Let's Play of it. Normally that wouldn't be quite enough to make you fall in love with a game or its music, but it was for NieR. This song in particular stuck out for me, and I honest to God believe that this is one of the best songs ever in video games and perhaps even beyond. I wish that there was more that I could say about this one, but I really can't. It's just great and that's what it is. So beautiful and great that I never even cared that I haven't played the game.
Ironic, for a theme based on one of the most sluttily-dressed and foulmouthed characters in video game history.
The Lost Court of Mushroom Caves - Trine 2
I wish I could post all of Trine 2's music, I really do. I had an easy time picking one song from each of the OSTs I featured here, except for this one. If there ever was such a thing as "hauntingly beautiful", I think some of these songs would definitely be it. This one right here caused me to take my hands away from the keyboard for a second just to sit there and listen. I still get the urge to do that every time I'm playing this level.
The unfortunate thing is that the music from Trine only really shines when combined with that game's awesome visuals. Regardless, this is still some of my favorite music from video games, and a big reason why I love the Trine series as much as I do. (which is to say a lot)
Soul - Madworld
I included this because it really shows how powerful video game OSTs are for me. Why? I hate rap music. Despise it. I can comfortably listen to almost any kind of music. I might not also exactly like it, but I can stand it at least. I can't stand rap music. I couldn't exactly tell you why, but just take my word for it here. So what's the deal? I actually like Madworld's soundtrack, which consists entirely of rap music. Not only can I stand it, I genuinely enjoy listening to it. I never expected to, that's for sure.
I wanted to try this game for its hilariously violent gameplay and its artstyle, but from the beginning I was set to mute this game whenever the music would start to suck. It never did. I liked all of its music, and that completely stunned me. I'll admit that this isn't my favorite soundtrack by any means, but just the fact that I like it at all is amazing. Again, I'm not sure what it is about it, but I just think its catchy and fun.
But it really is about the big picture here. Apparently video game OSTs are so great, that they not only make a genre I normally actively hate tolerable, but they even make it good.
Nega-wisp Armor Phase 2 - Sonic Colors
I love it when video games do this.
Picture this: you're fighting the final boss, big orchestral music in the background telling you in no uncertain terms: "You are fucked, my friend." This music plays throughout about 80% of the fight. But then at some point, when you get really close to beating him, the music changes. The haunting music from earlier is no more, and in its place you get awesome victory music even before the fight has actually finished. "Holy shit, you got this man, go for it!"
I remember that Super Castlevania IV did it (just watch this), but other than that I can't think of many, which is a damn shame. Recently though, I've found a new game that also does it, and it is none other than Sonic Colors.
This is the victory music that starts playing near the end of the final boss. As such, it brings back so many memories that it's not even funny. Colors was a great game, and this was a great boss, so that just happens without even trying.
But actually, there's another thing that's special about this song. It's actually a orchestral version of "Reach for the Stars"! If you don't know, "Reach for the Stars", besides a Will.i.am song (thanks for that, youtube), is also the main theme of Sonic Colors, performed by Cash Cash. It is one of the cheesiest songs ever in a Sonic game, only outdone by "Speak with your Heart"...which is also from Sonic Colors. I'm not going to lie, I like both of those songs in that special "so bad it's good" kind of way, but this version is just something else. I don't know how, and I don't know how anyone even thought of doing it, but somehow the composer for this game managed to take that horribly cheesy song, and managed to turn it epic. That's one of those things that's just crazy enough to work, and apparently they went with it. I love it, is all I can say.
Engage the Enemy - Xenoblade Chronicles
This song. This song right here. Man.
I'm going to try to be coherent here, but I can't make any promises. It's just...I mean...damn. This song gives me the chills.
Okay, I'm going to make a fair warning here. If I do make more editions of Shade Shares, expect to see Xenoblade on it more than once. I'm obsessive about that game, and I love everything about it, so don't be surprised. It's going to happen, just so you know.
This song, "Engage the Enemy", is basically the "shit is going down" song of Xenoblade. Whenever a particularly plot-important scene starts to play, this song plays with it. It works particularly well, because the song actually scales up as it goes along, so it will always coincide with the scene too. When the scene picks up, so does "Engage the Enemy". After my 120-hour playthrough of this game, some scenes will forever be etched in my mind in the best way possible. As a result, so is this music. From the two minute mark onwards, I completely lose it.
I know full well that this is not a song that is really suited to be listened to by anyone who hasn't played the game yet (even though you should), but this is still a song I wanted to share with you guys. It may very well be my favorite one ever, and at the very least it's the one I'm the most emotionally invested in. If that's not a cause for sharing, I don't know what is.
And there we go! Shade has now officially shared soundtracks! I hope you've found things to enjoy, but even if you haven't I still hope that you've learned just a tiny bit about my own interests. That's why I do what I do, and hopefully I get to do more editions of this in the future. There are still some topics up here in that brain of mine, so maybe I'll get them to come out at some point in time.
In the mean time, don't hesitate to share any songs you like, because I like receiving just as much as I like giving!
*insert sex joke here*
*Also, one of these days I'm going to find a less obnoxious way of incorporating my name into this, but for now you're all stuck with this crap right here, so there you go. ** I warned you.
This is not a blog I was planning to do, really. But holy shit does this feel awesome. If there was ever a thing I wanted to share with you guys, this is it.
So, I just got mail. Normally this wouldn't be anything special, but today is different. Just now, I received my new favorite pieces of video game swag. I'm psyched! Here, let me guide you through it. Also, excuse the quality of my massively shitty camera phone. I was way too excited to take the time to look for a better camera.
So this was the first thing I saw. At first I wasn't exactly sure what it was, because I didn't remember ordering anything from Club Nintendo.
But it started to dawn on me soon enough.
Which is to say it hit me right around here. I hadn't ordered anything recently. But there was still something special I was waiting for. Something I had already ordered months ago. Something exclusive as fuck. This had to be that something.
So, a little backstory. I'm pretty sure that everyone still knows what Operation Rainfall was all about. Three JRPGs: Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, which were already out in Japan to great reviews, weren't going to make it to the US or Europe. However, RPG fans everywhere weren't going to take this. Operation Rainfall was launched to get these games overseas. In a stunning turn of events, it worked, and in an even more stunning turn of events, Nintendo of Europe just ran with the entire thing. Europe was the first, after Japan and way before the US, to receive Xenoblade and The Last Story, and as of yet is the only one to receive Pandora's Tower. But NoE, infamous for not getting several great games released over here, decided that this wasn't enough. Almost as if they had something to make up for (they did), they went further than ever expected. They hosted a Let's Play-contest for Xenoblade, for one thing, and even seemed to support Pandora's Tower, the least requested game, quite a lot.
But they weren't done.
As a final measure of good will, they decided to go all out. They knew that there were still hardcore JRPG fans out there, fans who weren't waiting for one of these games, or even two, but all of them. Nintendo of Europe had something in store for those exact people.
This is that something. They were going to give away an exclusive set of coins based on all three of the Operation Rainfall games to the first people who would register all three games on Club Nintendo. As far as I know, this was only done in Europe (although US may still follow, I guess?), and I'm not sure how many exactly were made, although I don't expect more than a couple thousand.
Either way, you have already guessed it: I'm one of those people.
Did I mention I'm excited as fuck right now? Because that's what I am.
So, what next? Roll call!
First up is Xenoblade Chronicles. As far as the three games go, this is definitely my favorite. I was the most excited for this one, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. The story's great, the characters are pretty good, the combat is great, the art direction and music is great, I just love this game to death and then some. This side of the coin has the title logo, which you can barely see because I suck at this. That's going to be a theme here. Also, each coin is going to have a title logo side and a symbol side. You'll see what I mean in a second.
This is Xenoblade's symbol side. The design isn't all that special, as it's just a Japanese character, but this is still my favorite. I've already said that Xenoblade is my favorite game of the three, and if you love the game, this symbol is really clever. The game's combat is completely focused on so-called "Arts". These are basically special attacks which you can perform during combat. It's difficult to explain, but it works fantastically. Shulk, the main character (with a stupid name, can't be helped), gets a set of extra-special Arts, which are activated by using his legendary sword. Upon activation, the sword will show a different symbol depending on which power is used. This is one of those symbols. It's the symbol for "Monado Enchant", which powers up your teammates and allows them to hurt the otherwise-impervious "mechon". It's the first power you gain, and completely vital from start to finish.
Artwork of Shulk performing Monado Enchant
So yeah, a great choice for this coin's symbol. Off to a good start here!
The Last Story's title side. Of the three, this was my least favorite game, although I really wanted to love it. The combat didn't feel right for me, and the story was only so-so. I did like the characters though, and overall I still consider this a good game.
While I really like the design of this one, it actually took me a while to figure out where this symbol came from. I don't remember The Last Story as well as Xenoblade, for obvious reasons, and the symbol isn't as clear as the one coming up. I finally worked it out though. At the start of this game, Zael, the main character with a much less stupid name, gets a power called "Gathering". With this power he can pull the enemy's attention to him and he can command his allies more effectively. When that power is activated, this symbol appears on his hand. The flame actually technically isn't part of the symbol, but you can see blue "flames" rising from his hand whenever he uses Gathering, so that's where it came from. It's quite difficult to see in-game, but this pic should show what I mean:
Note the blue crap in the middle
I think there probably would have been better choices for this one, but it's still cool in my book!
This game was actually quite a bit better than expected. The story's quite good, despite that fact that this is the least "RPG-ish" of the three. The girl you have to rescue from a horrible curse, Elena, is the sweetest damn thing ever seen in video games (to the point that I felt just as strongly about saving her as the protagonist did), and other characters are good as well. The bossfights are nice and cool, and the dungeons have some interesting ideas behind them. This game does have some problems with the camera and combat, but I otherwise found it to be a very solid game, although I was expecting this to be the least good of the three.
If you've played this game, or have even just seen some official art, this symbol should be instantly familiar to you. Of the three, this must've been by far the easiest choice for the designers as well. This symbol is featured in the game's logo, for one thing. But more importantly: this is the symbol of the curse that has been put on Elena, the one you're trying to rid her off. The symbol on her back shows that she's still under the curse, which basically means that the entire story revolves around it. It actually has a double meaning as well if you've played the game all the way through, but that's not something I'm going to spoil here.
It was a no-brainer of the best kind
By your powers combined, we are:
Fucking awesome is what we are. So yeah, this is basically what I wanted to show you guys. I'm probably one of the first people to receive these, and as far as I'm aware there aren't that many to go around in the first place, so this is completely sweet. And considering that I like each of the three games to a more or lesser extent, these commemorative coins are just icing on the cake. Well played, Nintendo of Europe, and keep up the good work!
...Wait a minute, did I miss something?
This is a poster I won several months ago, signed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who created a little something called Final Fantasy. Like I said, The Last Story definitely isn't my favorite game by any means, but I do really like the art here. Besides, that's not the least of names on the bottom there. Unfortunately I never managed to get my hands on Xenoblade posters, which I know are going around, because that would've been even more awesome.
Anyway, that was basically it. I'm going to find a nice place for these three coins, because these are going to get me all the ladies. I mean, ladies are into that, right?
Hey everyone, guess who's writing again? I've been busy with my studies for quite a while, and on top of that my personal life got massively shaken up a couple of months ago. Luckily, everything is back in order, leaving me with time to write a piece that I had planned to do for some time. And considering all the recent comments that the community needs to step up its game again, what better time than this to finally do it? This blog deals with a more personal side of my (gaming) life.
This is a story about me, about my life and about my experiences with video games. It is also, as so many are, a story about a girl. This girl is in a strange way special to me, but not in the way you might think. Now stay a while and listen, for I will tell you all about the girl with the Triforce bag.
Does anyone know what the absolute best way to play video games is? How can you have the most fun playing video games? Actually, let's go through some of my own experiences and see if we can find out.
A controller is in my hand. In twelve seconds' time I will put it down because I'll have beaten the game. Ten seconds now. It is 2011, and I have just defeated the final boss of Xenoblade. It took me over a hundred hours to get this far and I had an absolute blast. This is a great game and at the very least one of the best RPGs ever made. And yet, something is missing...
It is August 15th 2012, and I am at home alone. One hour ago, I achieved 100% completion on The Binding of Isaac. It's a really (really) addicting game, in which I happily invested all the time and effort I could spare. And yet, something is missing...
It is July 11th 2008. I am playing as Luigi in Super Smash Bros. Brawl because he has a killer air-game. Four years from now I will still be playing as him and loving it. I can already beat several level 9 cpu's without too much effort. I like to think that I'm pretty good at this game. And yet, something is missing...
It is October 16th 2011. Me and my friend have just finished the last co-op room in Portal 2. This is more like it.
Hopefully you can already see where I'm going with this. But just to really bring it home, let me show you what I think the best way to play games is:
But on the off chance that you don't have personal Black Cat and X-23 cosplayers, this will do:
So, while I am madly in love with a great many singleplayer video games, nothing in the world will ever beat the joy of on-the-couch multiplayer. If that's not available online multiplayer works too, at least as long as you can opt to just play with your friends. Whether it be a versus mode in Smash Bros., co-op in Portal 2 or a mixture of both such as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's all great. If you have ever experienced it, I'm sure you know what I mean. The only thing you need are friends to play with you.
And that's exactly the problem.
I've mentioned this before in my 10 things blog some time ago, but I feel the need to go a bit more in-depth. When I was still in high school, I had several friends who played video games. We'd share experiences, hold get-togethers, all the good stuff. I still remember fondly one special multiplayer session where just me and the girl I liked spent all afternoon playing Smash Bros., during which I secretly let her win on several occasions, much to her amusement.
After high school though, over three years ago now, we all went our separate ways. Myself, I moved to a new place about 100 miles away to attend university. And while 100 miles may not sound like much, it is literally half the country over here, so it feels huge to us. As a result of this, combined with everyone having a busy schedule these days, I don't really know the guys from high school anymore. I only managed to keep in touch with my best high school friend, and he is now the only gaming friend I have. I do still know the girl I mentioned above, but our schedules prevent us from getting together all that often and she's not that big of a gamer either way. I am giving her Portal 2 for her birthday next week though; hopefully something will come of that.
When in doubt, Portal 2.
Off course none of this means that I'm a lonely person (none of you should be worried), just that I'm a lonely gamer. I've made lots of great new friends at my new place, guys and gals I wouldn't trade for the world. None of them, unfortunately, have any real experience with gaming, or particular interest in it. They accept the fact that I'm a gamer and they will listen to me when I tell them what I've been playing in my spare time, but that's about the extent of it. I have yet to seriously ask them to play with me, because I'm not quite sure how they'd respond, but I'm thinking of buying New Super Mario Bros. Wii if they would be up for it. Right now they are the people I hang out with the most, talking about all sorts of crazy stuff. Little of that crazy stuff involves video games though.
As it stands, my experiences with multiplayer games are lacking as well. I love to play co-op with my gaming friend: we've played Magicka, Lara Croft, Portal 2 and recently Orcs Must Die 2, and we had a blast during all of them. But here too the lack of gaming friends rears its ugly head. I personally love the Trine series...but he doesn't. This means that even though those games are supposed to have a pretty fun co-op mode, I won't be able to experience that. Similarly, he will never get me to play any RTS with him, because I can't manage to play an RTS for more than 5 minutes without getting bored for the life of me. Still, there are a lot of games we can play together, and this is closest I can get to the experience I want: it's pretty damn close. Nevertheless, none of these online experiences can ever match the chaotic joy of a 4-man Smash Bros. match or similar games. This has become painfully obvious to me after watching several Let's Plays of a bunch of guys playing multiplayer games together; a series of every (console) Mario Party being the highlight. They laughed together, cursed together (because hey, it's still Mario Party, if you're not swearing you're not playing it properly), and in the end had tons of fun together. As I was watching it, the same feeling would keep creeping up on me: "Man, I wish I could be a part of that..."
I would absolutely love to have more multiplayer sessions, but that just doesn't seem possible right now. I want to laugh at my friends when I beat them in a fighting game, I want to think of clever ways to get that out-of-reach Star Coin without someone dying, I want to give them Luigi's weird-ass Final Smash right in the face, I want them to tear me a new one at any shooter ever, and I even want to get a Blue Shell up the rear end when I'm just about to cross the finish line. I want all of that and more.
Alas, that was not meant to be.
But perhaps...perhaps I know what the problem is. Perhaps I know why I don't have enough gaming friends.
Maybe I'm simply lacking the confidence to declare my gamerness to the world. Maybe I'm simply not as courageous as the girl with the Triforce bag...
Technically it's the crest of the royal family of Hyrule, but eh, same difference.
I "met" this girl about a year ago. She was walking around town, apparently heading for the book store. She had dyed red hair, gothic-style clothing (but not too overdone) and, off course, a bag with the famous Zelda emblem printed on it. Now, I say I "met" her because I don't actually know anything about her. I don't know who she is, where she lives or what her major is. In fact, I have never even spoken to her, nor do I even know her name, so I'm going to have to disappoint all of you that were hoping for me to reveal a secret crush. Really I didn't so much meet her as see her walking down the street. Still though, seeing the Triforce on her bag struck me. "Wait, did I just see that?! Because it be pretty awesome if I did!" After that I didn't think too much of it, though. "After all", I thought, "it's a pretty cool looking symbol, so perhaps she doesn't even know what it's from." My doubts where quelled about two weeks later. I saw her again, a little closer up this time, and I noticed that besides the bag, she was wearing another special item. On her jacket she had a picture of the 1-up Mushroom from every Mario game ever. This could not be a mistake. You don't just wear that without knowing what it's from.
I reached a conclusion then and there: This girl is a gamer, and she's proud of it.
But at the same time I reached another, less happy, conclusion: I am nowhere near as confident as she is.
The Triforce of Courage was never granted to me, it seems.
In a way this also relates to a question Dale North asked just last month: "Do you wear video game t-shirts?" He answered his own question right away: "I suppose that's a silly question. Of course you do. I do. We all do." I don't. I have never worn any video game related clothing, and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm always tempted to buy one, but then I back down at the last second. I don't even give a single fuck about fashion whatsoever. I can barely tell the difference between any of my jeans, wear nothing but old shirts, and my only accessory is my digital watch which I never take off and is apparently so horribly out of fashion that nobody even sells the damn things anymore. Besides, it's not even like there aren't any cool t-shirts available.
I like this one, simple and to the point, but instantly recognizable.
I think what it ultimately boils down to is that I'm not confident enough to wear video game t-shirts, despite the fact that I would really like to. I just don't think that I'd feel comfortable wearing one, which I admit is pretty damn stupid. As much as we like to deny it, gamers still tend to get looked down upon, and I don't think I have the heart to test my luck in a crowded city. I'd feel weird shouting to the world that I'm a massive geek, even though I'm perfectly comfortable doing it here. Hell, I even assured my friends (gaming and otherwise) that "I have reclaimed the word 'geek'; it's now a compliment". However, when it comes to everyone outside my circle of friends, those bold claims tend to leave me...
But I am a gamer, and everyone who wants to hang around with me is going to have to accept that fact one way or the other. And yet I hardly ever tell it to anyone I meet for the first time. For fear of ruining my first impression, of them judging me? Perhaps so. In the end, I may be just a bit ashamed of how important games are to me. The fact that I prefer Nintendo games to all others also really doesn't help matters. Imagine this scenario:
"Oh, so you're a gamer are you? What are you playing now?"
"...Kirby's Epic Yarn" "I'm sorry, what was that?"
"...I'm playing Kirby's Epic Yarn right now...but it's actually really good, honest!"
Pictured: Your first impression going out the window
On the other hand, maybe being more confident in myself as a gamer is exactly what I need! At 21, I'm too old to be ashamed of what I do...aren't I? I've got my life on track, I've got my priorities straight, my studies are going well, and I just so happen to really enjoy video games. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?
In his blog, Dale also talked about some stranger coming up to him to talk about his Prototype 2 t-shirt. Personally, I would love something like that! Maybe if I had worn a Zelda-themed t-shirt I would've had the perfect opportunity to compliment the girl with her sweet bag. Who knows, maybe I would have gained a gaming friend from something as simple as that. In fact, maybe the city is full of potential gaming friends but I just never really bothered to look. Just walking around town when all of a sudden a fellow gamer compliments you on your "kickin' rad" t-shirt would be pretty damn awesome if you ask me.
Ultimately, I think I need to learn to be more open about what is and will be for a long time to come an important aspect of my life. Gaming has changed my life and made me who I am, and I owe it to myself to make the most of it. Playing Smash Bros. against CPU's is no fun at all compared to the real thing, and letting more people know that that's what I want is the simplest solution I can think of. Off course this doesn't stop at wearing a new t-shirt, I need a boost of confidence all around, but it can be a nice place to start. Another step would be to simply ask my non-gaming friends to play a game with me. They can't hate Mario that much, can they? Hopefully this will pay off in the end.
And as it is written in ancient gaming law, I get to be Mario, they get to be Toads.
All in all, I think I've gained some new insights over the past year. My experiences with my co-op buddy, the Let's Plays I've been watching and, most importantly, the girl with the Triforce bag have all helped me to realize that I'm not as confident being a gamer as I would like to be and, moreover, that this is something that I should work on. It can only go up from here because, let's be honest, having most of your playtime in Smash Bros in singleplayer mode is at least a little sad.
I would also like to ask you, fellow 'toiders, what you think of my plight. Does anyone else recognize being the only gamer in a group of friends? What do you do in such a situation? How does one boost his gaming confidence; where does one find his Triforce of Courage? What tips can you give me for my next course of action? In short, what Wisdom can be found here on the Dtoid Cblogs, and where do you find the Power to live your life fully as a gamer?
Either way, I only have one thing left to say to round this off:
I don't know where or who you are, Triforce bag girl, but I just want you to know that your bag is friggin' sweet!