What with Strider specifically asking me to blog more often, I felt like it was time to get off my lazy butt and start getting back in the game. Do I even have the time for this? Good lord no, but I’m doing it anyway. In fact, this blog is the test run of what I hope I can turn into a series over the course of the year! Usually I only blogged when something new and exciting came up, but I’d like to try my hand at a more steady stream of laidback blogs. Will this work? Probably no; only time will tell. So what’s this all going to be about? Well, it’s about the thing I love most about videogames. I don’t solely play videogames for this one reason, but it’s definitely the big one.
Ladies and gentlemen, I like exploration. No, I love exploration. Exploration across prairies, in streets, in trenches, in grasslands, in frozen tundras, through deserts, on the sea, in the air, I love every act of exploration that can occur upon this earth.
Violence can be fun, and so can strategizing. In fact, videogames are fun in many ways. But to me, nothing beats the feeling of being transported to a new world with all sorts of amazing new things to see and do. The feeling of looking to an unfamiliar horizon and going “Ooh, I wonder what's over there?” before heading off in that general direction and no doubt being distracted by something cool halfway there. The feeling of seeing a tower off in the distance and wondering whether you can climb it. The feeling of checking to see whether there is an edge to the sea or not.
It's that feeling this series is devoted to. But don’t think that I'm restricting myself to big open-world sandbox games here. A well-made 2D Platformer can give you much the same feeling, and cleverly hidden secrets can give you just as much incentive to explore as any far-off castle. It's all fair game, as long as you make me want to explore every nook and cranny of your world, and you’ll let me. Invisible walls will earn you a slap in the face, but may not be unforgivable if you have something to make up for them.
Today, let’s explore the world of Xenoblade Chronicles.
It was kind of inevitable that Xenoblade would be the first entry in the series. It is far and away my favorite world in all of gaming. Besides, that Japanese Nintendo Direct on Xenoblade Chronicles X from a few weeks ago has me mad hype for the series again. Not like I ever quit being mad hype, but still.
The first thing you would notice when you're off to start exploring the world of Xenoblade is that it's a fundamentally different world from anything you’ve ever seen. It's not round like Earth, it's not flat like Earth before Jesus was born, or anything in between. It's actually made up entirely of the bodies of two giants locked in combat. One is the biological Bionis, and the other is the mechanical Mechonis. And that’s when you know; you're going to want to see all of it. I remember when Xenoblade was first announced, this premise alone completely sold me on this game. I mean, how is walking around on giant fighting gargantuans not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard? Hell, you even get to explore their insides, and walk across their swords! But premise alone only gets you so far. You still need to deliver on your promise to make me want to see all that your world has to offer. Did Xenoblade do that? Why of course it did, silly!
My favorite thing about the world of Xenoblade is that even on the underpowered Wii, every single area looks gorgeous. This game is the shining example that good art direction beats good graphics any day of the week. From the first steps you take all the way until the last, there will be something to gaze at. Sometimes it's a huge landscape, sometimes it's a beautiful waterfall, and sometimes you have an amazing view of the opposing giant. It tends to get even better at night. Remember how in James Cameron’s Avatar the bioluminescence was far and away the best thing about the entire movie? Well Monolith Soft took that idea and ran with it. When you first enter the Satorl Marsh, it seems like a drab, uninteresting place. Nobody likes a swamp, it’s like nature’s sewer level. But then night falls, and that’s when the lights go on:
Apart from that, the areas are amazingly huge. Come to think of it, much like in America most things in Xenoblade are big. The cities, the lakes, the animals, everything provides a very distinct sense of scale and awe. As a result, more so than in most other games, Xenoblade makes you feel like you’re exploring a connected world. Nature is very much on the forefront when you’re walking around on the Bionis. In fact, watching gigantic creatures walk by in the distance is one of the main attractions of the entire game! Now your first instinct might be to run up to them for a fight. But no, you’ll quickly find out that these guys are way out of your league. They’re not here for you to kill (yet). They’re here for you to gaze at, to bring the world to life.
Another thing that I really love is how all of the areas you visit make sense in some peculiar way. For example, the snowy mountain range Valak is located on the Bionis’ chest. Thing is, the Bionis usually faces away from the sun, so his chest is almost always shielded from the heat. Ergo, snow. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got a lush rainforest on his back, which is where the sun does get to. Most of the areas you visit have a similar quality, so that if you think about it there’s some logic behind it. It’s only some logic, mind you, but it’s still a nice little detail.
Unfortunately, Xenoblade never lets you explore the giants’ private parts, but my educated guess is that you’d find a big forest with an impressive tower in the middle. Possibly an oddly-shaped canyon if the Bionis turns out to be female.
- Possibly something like this if she’s incredibly horny.
But all of the above is just nature. To be fair, the nature is easily the best, most beautiful part of Xenoblade. However, there’s more to a world than nature. Who live here, and are they worth meeting?
There are a couple of races in this game, three biological and one mechanical. - First on bio's, there are the Homs. Humans, really. They live in settlements (Colonies) on the middle to lower part of the Bionis, say from about the lower back down to the feet. Their settlements tend to be pretty large and self-sufficient, so for a large part they keep to their own.
- Next, there are the Nopon, who are small round furry creatures with an extra set of prehensile arm- like appendages. They live in a giant tree in Makna Forest, but a lot of them are the traveling sort. At the end of the day, you’ll find Nopon everywhere. They’re energetic little bastards, but they can still be quite a force to be reckoned with once they get serious.
- The last of the Bio’s are the High Entia. They function a little like Elves usually would, in that they are more developed and more ‘cultured’ than the other races. They look much like humans, except that they have wings growing out of their heads. Pure-breed High Entia have big airworthy wings, while half-breeds have to make do with smaller Asterix-style ones. They live in a great city all the way at the head of the Bionis, on a floating island above the Eryth Sea. It’s sight to behold.
- As for the robot dudes, they are the only mechanical race in the game. They're the Mechon, and they may or may not all be evil. For all intents and purposes they function just like humans, but they're a lot more durable. Practically all of them live on the Mechonis, so it will take you a little while before you get to meet them. They're well worth talking too though, and some of them give you some very important information over the course of the game.
By this time, you might have noticed how many different locales I already mentioned. Well, there's an very good reason for that.
If there's one thing that the world of Xenoblade has, it's variety. When you just start out the game you'd be forgiven for thinking that all you're going to be seeing is large grassy plains. Well you couldn't be more wrong, and before you know it you'll be exploring all sorts of different locales, each prettier than the last.
You'll come across snowy mountain ranges, rocky valleys, incredible seas, lush forests, floating prisons, robotic bases, sprawling cities, and so much more. And again, most of the areas change dramatically at night, so it's almost like exploring every area twice. If I could decorate my room with just art from every seperate Xenoblade area, you bet your ass I would.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what's over there in the world of Xenoblade Chronicles. It is one of the most imaginative worlds I have ever seen, and pretty to boot. It's a gigantic world that I nonetheless devoted hours to scour every inch of. It's a world I wouldn't mind living in, and a world I would pay mad cash for to ever visit. In a world of Battling Behemoths Frozen Forever, exploration is king.
To round off these posts off, I'm going to pick two 'favorites' from the world I'm talking about. Here they are for Xenoblade: - Favorite thing ‘over there’: the fallen hand of the Mechonis that was cut off during the battle. It actually houses a town of its own, as well as a lovely beach.
Man, I can't even tell you how excited I am. The Trine series is one of my favorites of all time. As far as indie games go they're incredibly high on my list and they even hold up to a lot of my favorite 'AAA games'.
I love the interplay between the three characters, where they can overcome obstacles by combining their strengths.
I love the amazing art direction. The levels in Trine are easily more beautiful than any big budget title you can care to mention. And in contrast to, say, Final Fantasy XIII, Trine remembers to be a fun game that can stand on more than graphics alone.
And perhaps most of all, I love the music. I think I can safely say that as far as the gameplay-to-soundtrack ratio goes, this game stands at number 1 for me. I have about 50 hours combined in Trine 1 and 2, but I listen to their soundtracks all the fucking time. Among all the soundtracks I have (which is to say about 30 GBs worth spread over almost 100 games) Ari Pulkkinen's masterwork is easily Top 5 for me. For reference, that's about where things like NieR and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are.
So in honor of this momentous occassion, I'm going to give a bunch of Trine-related stuff away over the next couple of weeks. I'm not gonna lie, it helps that these games are all on sale at the moment. But still!
Here's how it's going down. Over the next five weeks, I'm going to give increasingly great gifts away, as follows: Week #1: Trine Enchanted Edition Week #2: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor Week #3: Trine 2: Complete Story Week #4: Trine Complete Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story) Week #5: Frozenbyte Pack (= Trine Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor) Week #?: Trine 3 (this contest will be put up the week of Trine 3's release)
The rules are very simple. Each week I'm going to ask you to answer a Trine-related question. The funniest, most thoughtful, or most original answer wins! You guys know how I think by now, so give me something I'll enjoy and the games could be yours! I will also allow, nay encourage, entering for a game you already own provided you have someone in mind to give it to. Same goes for entering in multiple weeks. So the winner of Week #1 is still eligible to participate in the following weeks, even in Week #4 and 5, but you're going to have to impress me.
Outside of answering the contest question, there is only one condition: no freeloaders. I'm giving these games away out of love for Frozenbyte and the Dtoid community, so the very least you could do is be part of the Dtoid community. That goes double for Week #?. Don't worry too much though, if you're a regular around here I'll probably know you. I made a list of 99 Dtoiders off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I'll manage.
Well, now that the heavy stuff is out of the way, let's start Week #1 right away, for Trine Enchanted Edition. Here is the first question:
If you could be a wizard, rogue or knight for one day, which would you choose and why?
And that's when it hit me. If I could make it to 99 Dtoiders who left an impression on me, I could get a lot more people in here while still fitting the theme! So, what if I did go all out and looked for 99 community members to list? Is such a thing even possible?
It turns out that yes, listing 99 cool Dtoiders is possible. In fact, it was a lot easier than I thought! It only took me a couple hours of procrastinating at work to compile this list, and I barely had to search for anyone. Seriously, at least three quarters of the names here just came to me in a flash. The rest I came across within minutes and I immediately went "Oh shit, how could I forget them?!" If that's not a sign of how much this community means to me, I don't know what is.
I am even making the frankly rather dubious decision to keep the staff off of this list. Well, for the most part. This list is intended as a list of my favorite community members. A lot of the Destructoid staff are still community members at heart, but some have fully taken up the staff mantle and aren’t in the Cblogs as often as they should. The former are included in this list, the latter belong on a separate list on their own. What I’m saying is Andy Dixon is fair game, but Holmes gets his own staff appreciation. That’s not meant to be passive-aggressive, I swear. I'm just trying to keep this as ‘by the community, for the community’ as I can.
Apart from about 20-ish people all the way at the bottom of this list, the names here are not listed in any particular order. They’re also not alphabetized to avoid people scrolling down to their own letter and ignoring everybody else. Have a look, and see if you're here!
So without further ado, an early happy 9th birthday, Destructoid. Here are 99 of your coolest members.
99. The Unknown Dtoider This one’s for you. Yes, you. You, the guy or gal who only comments sometimes and hasn’t built up a solid name yet. You, the person who’s still anonymously lurking on our site and wishes they could join the party (you can!). You, the Dtoid regular who accidentally didn’t make this list because I had a brain fart or something. You, the forum-goer who is wildly respected on your home turf but isn’t really on my Cblogs radar. You, the old veteran who doesn’t visit the site often anymore. You, whoever you may be, who is reading this right now. Chances are I think you’re pretty damn great. This is your shout-out.
97. Vxxyman 96. CelicaCrazed 95. Retrofraction 94. My Landlord 93. TroyFullbuster 92. Lord Spencer 91. The Angriest Carp
90. Scrustle 89. Cannibal Steven 88. TheKodu - Likely the second most controversial name on this list, but I stand by it. I may not agree with you a lot, but you’re definitely a presence on this site. You keep us sharp. What's more, you put your weight behind what you believe in without slinging too much mud; I can respect that. 87. taterchimp 86. Kaggen 85. amxwolf 84. The Gameslinger 83. TysonOfTime 82. Crackity Jones 81. Benny Disco - Please come back to us?
80. Chimpomagee - Unfortunately you don't post a lot, but I still like you. You're basically Australian me, and therefore better in every way. 79. Roberto Plankton 78. Robo Panda Z 77. Ooktar 76. Arkane9 75. BrownEyeWinkin 74. Wolfy-Boey 73. Cosmonstropolis 72. FlanxLycanth 71. RenaudB90
70. riobux 69. Batthink 68. Long John 67. El Dango 66. Code Name Crono
65. 6.5 Chris Carter - I'm just messin', love ya Chris. 64. Agent9 63. The Scholarly Gamer - Please don't freeze to death up there. We still need you. 62. Marche100 61. NinjaPresident
60. Chist 59. Knutaf 58. Corduroy Turtle 57. Handy - Your Fanart Flops probably takes the cake for funniest series on Destructoid. 56. Terry 309 55. KeithTheGeek 54. Nanashi 53. The Emolga Editorial 52. Spielerdad 51. Dr. Light ate your Magicite - Best username.
50. Sotanaht 49. Zer0t0nin 48. Fenriff 47. Reinhold Hoffman - Easily the best host of amazing fanart one could wish for. 46. Nekrosys 45. kingsharkboi 44. Scarritt 43. Morty 42. My Enormous Hairy Downstairs Kitchen - Anyone remember this guy? I found him fascinating, wherever did he go? 41. Voltech - Takes the Shade Award for Best Writer
40. Luckrequired 39. It's About To Get Gay In Here - I maintain that he needs to get his own Frontpage column. It’s way overdue. 38. ZombieOrwell - All Hail. 37. EdgyDude 36. pk fire 35. RedHeadPeak 34. Oscarno - I adore your indepth soundtrack blogs. 33. UsurpMyProse 32. Glowbear 31. JawsButterBawls
30. TheManChild / Phosis - And this is the controversial one. Your and Destructoid's relationship has been rocky at times, but you always came around and tried to fix it. You're also the one whose Recaps I took over, which has been a blast. I for one love having you back as Phosis, and I hope life's treating you as well as you deserve. 29. Goofierbrute 28. CousinDupree 27. Solar Pony Django 26. SeymourDuncan17 25. manasteel88 24. Luna Sy 23. Brittany Vincent 22. Tonich 21. Alphadeus
- This is legit the coolest thing anybody ever made for me. 20. Occam’s Electric Toothbrush - I have a feeling you're going to be on everybody's list. You know what they say, once you put a decoder ring on it, you're tied for life. 19. OpiumHerz - Pretty chill for a German. Also one of the few people who can keep us loose cannons in check. 18. Script - We totally need to Kart or Smash again sometime soon. 17.GajKnight - The Fetish Master 16. TheDustinThomas - A salute to the beard. 15. M R A Ndy Dixon - Boners. 14. Pixielated - Lady of Metaphor 13. Sir Davies - *insert Spanish joke here* 12.Smurfee McGee - You're blue, da ba dee. 11. Dreamweaver - You are the music-maker, you are the dreamer of dreams.
10. Wrenchfarm - Two giant robots walked into a bar. Wrenchfarm came before even hearing the rest of the joke. ______________________________________________________________________________ And finally here they are, the Nine. From here on it will get tremendously sappy, you have been warned.
9. Caimdark Caim, you have written some stellar blogs over the years. As a fellow Nintendo-lover, I'd say you were doing Miyamoto's work with some of the in-depth analyses you have provided from time to time.
As far as reasonable discussion goes, you're top of the line. While it's pretty rare to find actual discussion on a video game site, you managed to get people to talk on multiple occasions. That's something I've been trying to emulate, and I hope I'm succeeding.
8. Last Scion of the House of Blue Lions Last Scion of the Blue Lion Old Lion Orlion Bob
Jesus Christ man, pick a name and stick with it! Apart from being all-round great, you're listed here because you're basically my success story. You're the first one I managed to introduce to our community and who went on to make a name for himself. And what a name it was!
From the moment you were just a cub, you've been writing great blogs on the Souls series. Some of which made it to Topsauce and the Fapcast, which seemed to confuse you to no end. I also remember having long PM conversations with you about my Dark Souls adventures and some random other things.
Eventually you jumped head-first into the community at large, and that's where you stayed. You even wrote the amazing Divine Comedy parody, which still hails as one of my favorite things ever to come out of Destructoid. It's been great, indeed inspiring, to watch you grow into the fierce majestic lion Bob you've become.
7. Rexwolf2 An old veteran here, but no less important for it.
You're one of the main reasons I joined this community in the first place. What I mean is when I wrote my first Cblogs I wasn't sure whether they were even worth posting. But you left encouraging messages, even though looking back those early posts of mine were pretty damn crappy.
You showed me that the people here in the Cblogs and on Destructoid as a whole care about what you write. That your work is being read by people who come from much the same position as you do yourself. That's an important message to send to someone who has always had trouble finding likeminded people.
Well, I found those likeminded people alright, but I haven't forgotten the people who were there at the beginning.
6. Hyper Lemon Buster Cannon If you want, you can imagine me reading this to you in my Dutch voice. And hell, we'll do phone sex afterwards.
You're a bundle of joy and energy around this site, and that's much appreciated. It seems like nothing ever gets you down, and you know just the right thing to say to people. Your stamp of approval is more encouraging than any fap, and your jokes often hit exactly the right spot to brighten the mood.
You, and the person coming up after you, are one of my main motivators to keep writing happy things about video games. Because Destructoid is a happy place, and it's because it has people like you in it. And I'm not going to lie, having you tell me how sexy my Dutch voice is or how the ladies are going to be "all over" me makes me feel better and more confident than it probably should.
Without a shadow of a doubt, you have MY stamp of approval.
5. JoyfulSanity JS, you're in the same boat as HLBC above, so a lot of the same things apply here. I know you've had your sad times too, but whenever you're around here you bring the kind of fun and good spirits that we thrive on.
Your blogs are always hilarious and a joy to read. You're not one for routine either, so we never quite know what you're going to be pulling out of your hat next. In particular, I love how you can run with Cblog fads like excitement or fetishes and still make it your own thing. And then you come out with a list of the sexiest Dtoiders and take it to a whole new level. In fact, I totally stole this idea of listing every Destructoid member from you. But where you just listed ‘everyone else’ as the sexiest Dtoider, I decided to go the extra mile.
Apart from your writing, your comments have also left a lasting impression on me. They're some of the warmest and most encouraging things you can read on this site. I feel like whenever I do something right around here you're one of the first to tell me to keep up the good work. It's the reason why "being excited about video games" is still my go-to Blog theme.
Also, Ys is brilliant.
4. PhilKenSebben Every party needs its slut, and boy howdy have we got ours. You'll fuck anyone until they love you, no matter how long it takes. It's pretty much what you did to me.
What I mean is I'm pretty sure you were one of the first people I interacted with off-site, mostly on Steam. Dropping a comment here and there is one thing, but you're the one who took me deeper in the ass community. Through giveaways, chats and random comments about how you always have a hole for me play with, you showed me what the "C" in "Cblogs" means. Basically, if the lion dude is my success story, I'm one of yours.
In short, you're the best kind of town bicycle.
3. Elsa What can I really say about Elsa that hasn't already been said? You're the one with the most thoughtful comments, the most level-headed one out of all of us, you drop truth nukes all over the place, and you're essentially the entire site's rolemodel.
As for the influence you've had on me specifically, like the above wasn't enough yet, was that you helped me significantly improve my writing over the years. You showed me which of my thoughts needed extra consideration, which points weren't even worth making at all, and how to get points across more effectively. The best blog I've ever written for Destructoid was a direct recommendation from you, and I'm still thankful that you made me take the time to put all my effort into it.
Writing is a big part of my life both on Destructoid and IRL, and you continuously show us how it's done. Major props for that.
2. StriderHoang This is a man who's got heart for the community. You want to talk about the best blogs on the site? Make, host and edit a Podcast for it! You want to give a shout-out to the highlights of the year? Pull the team together and make a giant Year in Review Recap! You see Andy and Occam's having their hands full? You step in right there with them! You remember that Community Trading Cards used to be a thing? You make new ones!
And inbetween all of that, you write great blogs of your own, maintain a healthy IRL and get new Recappers acquainted with the whole process. You helped me with my first steps as the Thursday caps person, and you continue to make sure we don't go astray.
Frankly, I don't know how you manage to do it all, but we're lucky to have you.
1. bbain Well, Ben Davis bbain, here we are. Knowing you, you’re probably surprised to find yourself at the top of my list, but I can assure you that you deserved it. You were a huge inspiration to me here, in more ways than one.
I remember that you and me joined at around the same time. I beat you by about a month at best. But I also remember that immediately after you joined, you took off like a rocket. You became an integrated part of the community while I was still figuring out how blogs worked, or at least that’s how it felt.
You almost singlehandedly got me into the indie gaming scene. Your early blogs on your favorite freeware indie games never failed to give me a brand new experience to enjoy. It got me to pay much closer attention to the games less budget but more ideas. That’s a trend that has continued to this day; my Steam library is absolutely crammed with the indie games I may or may not have known about had you not opened my eyes to the many wonders they have to offer.
I remember you joining the Recaps Team as the Friday capper. From that point on I posted most of my blogs on Fridays, because you always had nice things to say about them. It was around that time, when I saw you step up and do something for the Cblogs, that I decided that I could do it too. It wasn’t until about a year later that I earned my own place with the Recaps scallywags. I remember talking to you on one of our Fapcasts, and experiencing firsthand what a lovely person you are.
And now here you are with a real name and a black-and-white photo, and you're still killing it. Your Top 10s are a joy to read, you get to review (non-freeware!) indie games, and your Experience Points fill some of the void that Chad Concelmo left behind. I mean Chad is irreplaceable, but dammit so are you. And be fair; Chad has his dolphins, you have your squids. It all works out.
In my experience you were always an incredibly warm presence here; from the day you busted down the door with a big “Huzzah!” to the day you reached lvl. 36 and evolved into Ben Davis (Side note: you will always be bbain to me bb). I'm sure you’ll continue to be a warm presence here in the ages to come.
Oh, and scarritt? You better treat my boy right or I'm coming for you.
So that's why I did the only thing a reasonable Destructoid member reasonably could do. I went to Dtoid's other (favorite) resident furry animal, The Wombat, and asked him the exact same questions. Word on the street has it that me and Wombat are pretty close, so it was a really quick and easy thing to do. At any rate, many thanks to myself for facilitating this interview, myself The Wombat for answering every single question despite the many difficulties involved in typing with claws, myself for taking the time to give it to you guys in blog form, and I suppose some of you for asking the questions in the first place.
We'll begin with JawshButturBawls and the question on everyone's lips: Gardevoir?
Of course Gardevoir! All Gardevoir, all the time. Two things though: 1. Why the hell is there no wombat Pokémon yet? Everyone has been asking for it, but Gamefreak just won't listen to reason. 2. *ahem* ....
GoofierBrute just wants to hang: What's The Badger's fondest gaming memory?
How should I know what his fondest memory is? Jeez, think these things through people! Anyway, I'm guessing something involving death and destruction, because he's hardcore like that. Gotta keep up the cred for the kids, you know?
Now, because you must also be dieing to know what MY fondest memory is, I'll tell you. It's a recent one, and it involves people in catsuits:
... It's fighting Meowser in Super Mario 3D World.
Dreamweaver is having an identity crisis. He asks: Am I the Badger?
You're not, don't worry. I may not look it, but I'm a certified expert on multiple personalities due to my lifetime of being a wombat. If you don't understand why that's relevant you clearly don't know us marsupials very well.
Anyway, the real question here is, "Am I a cool dude?" I only have one answer to that: you're Dreamweaver; you're not just cool, you're absolute zero. You're Sheer Cold. That's right, you're so cool that it one-hit KOs people.
---------- Cannibal Steven is an odd young lad: What's the Badger's favorite snake-related-transformation-movie-scene?
Again, don't ask me what the Badger thinks. I may have psychic powers but I'm not a bloody mindreader. So inconsiderate. The question seems...oddly specific. I'd love to know what brought this on. I'm going to cheat and not name a movie, but a TV series. Namely, Beast Wars. Because oh fucking hell yeah, Beast Wars.
Quickstrike's snake is a tail in his scorpion form, but becomes his arm/laser in robot form. Let me reiterate: THAT SNAKE TRANSFORMS FROM A SCORPION'S TAIL INTO A FUCKING LASER.
FullmetalJ has his priorities in order: What's your favorite David Bowie album?
See, this guy knows how to ask proper questions directed to the proper person. My answer is that I don't listen to David Bowie but "David Bowie flying in on a tiger made of lighning" is one of my favorite Cards Against Humanity cards.
Demo-Grafic is keeping up with the current events. He wants to know: If you are an industry insider, then maybe you can answer why the vehemently "anti-Gamergate" gets so much more instant press coverage? I've honestly seen far worse things said on their side than anything, yet no gaming site is willing to touch it when their nastier behavior is brought to light.
Who ever said that I was an industry insider? I'm just a wombat, silly.
Scrustle has one of those cool plastic pipes that blows bubbles and a nice deerstalker cap: What parts of the industry have you worked in? As in, are you a developers? Have you worked with different kinds of studios? If so, what kinds? Or are you a blog/site writer? Have you worked at different sites? How has your experience working at different places compared?
At one point I was the mascot for the company who made Sword & Sworcery and Super Time Force. That is until those jerks replaced me with a Capybara. I was also the PR person for Fez once, but then the dev decided that he prefers aquatic animals and, quote, 'doesn't need a PR animal, because I'll just do my own PR.' A tale of caution, friends. Finally, I was the nude model for Hatoful Boyfriend: Wombat Edition, which never saw the light of day. Strangly, the pictures I shot did end up on the internet the next day on a sketchy "Candid marsupials caught in action' website.
- Censored by Mr. Destructroid for privacy reasons.
The Defenestrator asks: What do you think of the rise of YouTuber's and the Let's Play scene versus the current model of game blogging?
I love it! You know me, as long as people are having fun with video games, I'm down with it. I'm a little worried about the people who do Let's Plays of explicitly bad games, but as long as they're doing it with friends I'm sure they'll be alright.
Enter the Dragon! KimikoLoco wants to know: So, why are "nerds" in game journalism not held to the same standards as nerds in print journalism? What is so special about them?
I don't know what the fuck you're talking about, kid. Are you asking me why society doesn't care about the people who write about Mario Bros. for a living as much as the people who write about world politics for a living? Ask your English teacher.
I'm so sorry about that, I don't know what came over me. I mean, who the fuck even writes that sort of crap? If you don't understand the question could you not, oh I don't know, ask for clarification?
Back to the question at hand then. The reason for this is twofold. First, nerds write about the nerd things they enjoy, and nobody wants to be the one to burst their bubble. We've got too few happy things as it is, and removing a sparkle of Nerd Joy(TM) from the world is something few people would want on their conscious.
Second, nerds are not held to the same standards because unbeknownst to anyone, nerds posess powerful magical abilities that could spell the end of the world as we know it of we pissed them off too much. Push a nerd just a little too much, and they develop acute telepathy with which they'll make you think you just got a leg cramp. That is an agony we should all strive to avoid, and that's why we cut nerds some slack when they don't jurnalizmer hard enough.
Destructoid's resident magical girl Brittany Vincent has a fastball, high and inside: Why are you so afraid of coming out and saying the things you do using your real name? You're "in the right," at least in your eyes, so why not go public with your opinions? You mock journalists for obeying rules so as to not lose their jobs, but yet you fear for the loss of your own?
Oh Brittany, Brittany, Brittany. If that is your real name. ...it is? Crap.
I remain anonymous for one reason only, and that is that I have to protect my secret identity. Remember that time in Iron Man 3 where he invited his enemies to come blow up his house, and that's exactly what they did? Well, I don't want to be that guy. I don't have an army of superadvanced power armor to keep myself safe. I mean I've got that old hand-me-down I got from Samus, but it doesn't fit and the whole rolling up into a ball thing is killer on my back.
It's a dangerous business, playing video games and liking them. What if I didn't like a game hard enough, and people would try to tell me I was wrong?! It would be chaos, surely. Can't have that.
Oh, and for the record: I only mock jurnalizmers lovingly.
Handy also wants to clear the air: You’ve expressed contempt for gamers, publishers, PR, journalists, critics, their audience, and developers of both indie and AAA games, why continue to work in an industry that doesn’t pay well and where you hate everybody?
Handy, I'm hurt. I never said any of those things! Maybe you didn't quite understand my first blog or something? I don't know what happened here, but let me just spell it out to avoid further confusion: I love gamers, (some) publishers, PR, journalists (I'm not entirely sure what those are to be honest, are they kind of like jurnalizmers?) and developers of both indie and AAA games.
I continue to work in this industry because even though it doesn't pay well I love everybody. Also, because this is the industry that gave the world this:
That is a service that deserves to be repaid.
PhilKenSebben is taking a short break from his usual debauchery to wonder: Why should anyone believe you or care about what you say? You give no facts to anything that isn't already public knowledge, name no names and are just a moniker, ranting on a blog.
There is a very good reason why you should believe me: you know I'm right. I love video games, you love video games. I love Destructoid, you love Destructoid. And when people agree with you, that means nobody can ever criticize you anymore ever. It's all very straightforward really.
Additionally, when I was 16 I was cursed by a witch (of the sexy variety, fortunately) so that I won't be able to tell lies ever again. Go ask her, I'll wait.
Papa Bear Neiro is considering a career change: Teachers get paid less than McDonald's managers. Can get them some Nintendos?
Oh heck yes we can get them some Nintendos! We should ask RedHeadPeak about distributing some 3DSes among teachers, I'm sure he'd be down with it. I'm not paying for it though, fair warning.
Destructoid's "Chilly" Bill Platt turns up the heat: If you knew about the rampant corruption as far back as 8 years ago, why did you wait so long to say something?
I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "rampant corruption", but I do know that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out 8 years ago, so I'm just going to assume you mean that. So why didn't I say something about it back then? I was too busy playing it, obviously!
But sure, I'll do some catching up: Metroid Prime 3 is a great game. The new Wii control scheme works like a dream, the environments look better than ever (dat Skytown) and people like Rundas are some of the better new additions to the series. It may not quite be on par with Metroid Prime 1, but it's a very worthy entry in the series. Be sure to pick up Metroid Prime Trilogy once it comes up in the WiiU eShop!
EdgyDude will cut you if you don't answer: Why post here? I mean why of all sites that could host your opinion why pick the one that decided to be neutral and stay out of this whole GG issue from the start? Why not post in another site that falls in line with your POV instead of this one
Jeez, someone clearly doesn't want me around. What did I ever do to you, EdgyDude? Fine, I'll leave just for you, I hope you're proud of yourself. I'm not going to cry either. Don't touch me.
Fuck, now look what you did.
Sir Davies just finished the 50 Shades Of Grey books and desperately needs to know: Do you look yourself in the mirror when you masturbate?
Have you ever seen wombat claws? The last time I masturbated I was at the vet's for a week. But, yes.
hlarge4 is in the midst of an existential crisis: Am I part of the problem if I just want to play games?
You're part of the solution, my friend. Not like that EdgyDude up there, the big meaniepants. If anything we need more people like you who can just sit back and enjoy the things specifically made to be enjoyable. Play the games you want to play, have fun, and let nobody tell you otherwise.
---------- MuppetTechNews menah menah: why is holmes such a wuss? as in why play the neutral game so much..its annoying.
Holmes is kind of like Nintendo in that we all love him but sometimes we just don't really understand what he's doing. He works in strange ways.
Ragnar DragonFyre has gazed into the abyss and would like to know: What's it feel like to tell the truth, only to have your audience get offended by the truth? Does it make you want to give up or re-double your efforts?
Oh dear, I offended people?! Ohshitohshitohshitohshiiiiii- Who are they, where can I find them, and what kind of candy do they like? I'm going to make it up to them ASAP. I suppose that counts as "re-doubling my efforts"? In that case, there's your answer.
JoeyMcJoeJoey is not to be trifled with, sir: Badger. Do you believe you're the hero gaming deserves? Or the one it needs? And secondly: Wanna fight?
It's Wombat, thankyouverymuch. Mister Wombat to my girlfriend, Doctor Wombato to that weird hobo down the street. At any rate, I'm not a hero. We've been over this. I'm also not a big fan of the Nolan Batman movies, so the whole deserves vs. needs things is kind of lost on me. However, I do dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.
As for the second question, hit me up in Smash Bros. I'll give you a grand helping of Luigi to the face.
pk fire wants you get comfortable and maybe give you a surprise back massage: What was your most awkward experience in your professional working environment?
The fucking Capybara, above. That just hurt, man. We had such a good thing going on, and then they fire me for a capybara of all things? Who the hell chooses a capybara over me?!
Retrofraction is a stickler for good hygene: What conditioner does the Badger use on its fur?
According to the Badger himself: "The same stuff Jesse Venture waxes his mustache with."
I'm going to have to try that.
Isay Isay say: So is the whole Badger persona a cathartic exercise for you?
I don't know if the Badger is a 'persona' or totally legit. If nothing else it's not cathartic for me, because I'm not the Badger. I'm honestly starting to wonder when this will finally get through to you people. I'm going to give Shade a real talking-to for getting me into this without checking out the questions first. IT WAS THE LEAST YOU COULD DO SHADE! I could have been playing Bayonetta 2 instead of doing this and you couldn't even be bothered to check whether I could actually answer any of these questions?
Finally, Reinhold Hoffman wears his sunglasses indoors and already knows the answer but asks regardless: Who are your favorite commenters on Destructoid?
ShadeOfLight seems like a swell guy when he's not tricking me into these kinds of interviews. Other than that, I know that Destructoid has some Canadian commenters and I can say from experience that Canadians are great.
Actually, most of the regular commenters are my favorite. Not to mention the sexiest. That Nekrosys dude worries me though, he keeps trying to turn me into a platypus. Do you have any idea how much it hurts growing a beak?!
- Pictured: agony.
A big thanks to the Wombat for answering all of our questions. I apologize for putting him through this, but something had to be done.
Lately we've had some people here who thought they could turn us on by listing some of their favorite fetishes in video games and otherwise. Well I think I speak for at least one person when I say that they utterly failed. I mean, spiders? Eight legs, but no skill. Succubi? Who the fuck would be turned on by a literal seductive sex demon? And humans? That's the most disgusting thing I've ever heard. I mean, have you even SEEN me? Not in a million years.
So instead, let me do this the right way. These are the things that get me turned on. I'm pretty sure that means they are the universal standard of sexiness, because that is precisely how fetishes work. Also fair warning: all or some of these may actually be true.
10. Destructoid Cblogs fads - When we all join in.
There's nothing better than some group action if you ask me. And if the group in question consists of all of our Dtoid friends, it's like a little slice of heaven coated in paradise. That's why I love it whenever the Cblogs gets a new blog fad going. Dibs, fetishes, random excitement, 10 things, it's all in good fun.
Sometimes I like to start, sometimes I like to join in later, and sometimes I just like to watch. Whatever the scenario, one thing's for sure: it always gets me off.
9. Bows - Dem curves.
There's something profoundly erotic about bows. The curve of the wood, the tightness of the string, the tension before release, the arrow plunging straight into its soft fleshy target... Okay so I just made all of that up on the spot. But damned if it didn't sound convincing.
Whatever the case may be, at the end of the day bows are just cool, as are the folks who wield them. None of this "up close and personal" bullcrap, just a nice clean shot from several yards away is all you ever needed.
8. Femme Fatales - Danger is sexy.
There are so many examples here; you've got vampires, demons, assassins, witches, and who knows what else. Not succubi though, that'd just be weird. It's often said that women go for the bad boys, but if we're going to be honest with ourselves, men aren't that different. There's something to be said about the woman who could rip either of your heads off if you so much as looked at her wrong. An air of mystery, of danger, goes a long way sometimes.
7. Luigi - Lean green sex machine What, do I really have to repeat myself? WE'VE BEEN OVER THIS. Everyone is already firmly aware about Luigi's appeal, and then some.
6. Cat girls - Purrfec*punched*
One could theoretically argue that "cat girl" falls under "dangerous" and is thus already covered by entry #8. To that I say "Shut the hell up, it's hard enough to come up with 10 of these as is!"
Besides, don't cat girls have a sex appeal all of their own? You know they do! The cute little ears, the (hopefully prehensile) tail, the eyes, the agility, the fur and claws: cat girls are the whole package! That is if you weren't looking for anything doglike, but let's not kid ourselves here.
Let me give you an example. Do you know how sexy Rosalina usually is? Actuallyprettysexy, but there's only so much you can do while trying to retain that regal air about you. So let's see what happens when we cattify her:
Hot dang son, girl cleans up nice. That's the power of cats right there. And Rosalina's not even a natural catgirl! Watch what happens when we find someone au naturel.
Truly, their own spot is well deserved. And not just to drag this out to 10 entries I swear.
5. Credits Music - The afterglow.
JoyfulSanity says that Battle Themes are often great. He's not wrong, but I've got a different proposition. The best, and therefore sexiest, music in video games is also some of the most underappreciated.
Can you hear the sexy oozing from that song? It's like porn for your ears.
The Credits Theme is almost always one of my favorite songs on the entire OST, even though you're only likely to hear it once. Maybe a handful of times if the credits aren't skippable. I love them because there's often such an amazing sense of accomplishment associated with them. You just beat the final boss, saved the world, and now you're being treated with a victory lap of amazing music accompanying the names of awesome people.
The game is doing nothing short of celebrating you, and the music is specifically made to convey that perfectly. It's the best feeling ever.
(Note to self: this entry needs to be a full blog someday)
4. Art Styles - Draw me like one of your Japanese watercolors.
Realism is boring. There, I said it. Games trying to emulate reality as best they can with CGI are completely on the wrong track. The Dead or Alive girls aren't hot; they're just creepy. They're lifeless and weird and gross.
- With some exceptions.
What you should do to make your game look as sexy as possible is something completely different. You have to develop your own style to stand out from the crowd. Use that color, accentuate those lines! Do whatever you need to do to make people notice you. It's how old 16-bit sprites still manage to look good today, while the polygons of yesterday have aged faster than prepubescent boys could fap to them.
Okami? Show us how it's done.
Oh yeah. Just look at that art. Isn't that just the artiest? It is. Holly Valance eat your heart out. (Also, marry me?)
3. Twins - Where you see "palette swap", I see "threesome".
Have you ever come across a woman who was so beautiful that you thought to yourself: "Damn, I wish there were more of her!"? I know I have.
Well that, my friends, is exactly the kind of predicament God invented twins for. Or in the land of video games; palette swaps. You can have two of Samus:
More Kirbys than you'll know what to do with (if you lack imagination):
And finally, alternate timeline Lucinas:
2. Midriffs - T&A is overrated.
If you scroll up just a little bit, you may or may not notice how most of these people are covered to a more or lesser extent, but still manage to show off their midriff. There's a very good reason for this, namely that there's nothing sexier than a well-toned core.
Don't believe me? Feast thine eyes.
(...What? Just because I'M into girls doesn't mean I can't be objective about this!)
You knew Eevee was cute. Fluffy. Adorable even. The adorablest. But did you know that Eevee's sexy too?
Yes my friends, it's that time again. A new popular fighting game is coming out very soon, and the hype is rising. 3DSes (or is that 3DSi?) are being pushed to their limits, minds are filled with thoughts of combat, and bodies are being readied.
This can only mean one thing. It's time to tear yourself away from whatever unimportant shit it is you're doing right now and claim dibs on your favorite character before one of the cool kids runs of with them! Remember that all is fair in love and dibs, so you've got to be quick!
In fact, while you slowpokes weren't paying attention I went ahead and got the first pick. I HAVE DIBS ON LUIGI, and don't let me catch ANY of you trying to violate this sacred pact. I know all about you dirty Luigi-stealers and I won't stand for it; is that understood!? Good.
Now I know that you are all intimately familiar with the many many reasons why Luigi trumps everyone, and I don't want to sound patronizing by explaining to you what you already know. Yet the ancient laws of dibs stipulate that I explain my choice, and I am nothing if not a loyal dibs-abiding citizen.
So why the Lean Mean Green Machine, Mr. L, the Green Thunder, the Eternal Understudy, the King of Second Bananas, the Other Guy?
1. Luigi beats Mario at his own game. Let's say that you were this world-famous plumber whose sole claim to fame is that you can jump a whole bunch. Jumping is cool, being world-famous is cool (trust me on this one), and while occasionally a giant turtle kidnaps your girlfriend you have a good lot in life.
And then it turns out that your little brother jumps better than you.
Look at that pathetic red guy, just barely able to clear that tree in the background. Look how much he struggles to lift his fat ass off the ground even the shortest distances. Then look at Luigi's gloriously majestic leap. Now that is what you call a jump. What's more, the guy doesn't even look like he's putting in any effort. "Oh I'll just jump like a goddamn superstar real quick, because that's how I roll", is what he seems to be telling the world.
And it's been like this ever since 1988, when Super Mario Bros. 2 first recognized Luigi's clearly superior abilities. Ever since that time Mario has essentially been delegated to the loser bench, because who the hell cares about a plumber who can barely even jump?! I know I make MY plumbers do jumping contests to win my favor, and I can't be the only one.
"But Shade," I hear ye unbelievers ask, "if Luigi is truly better than Mario in every way, how do you explain his slippery running controls?" A fair question for those who lack an insight into Luigi's mind. The explanation is simple: Luigi gimps himself to give everyone else a fighting chance. Already when Bowser kidnaps Peach Luigi has to constrain himself so that Mario doesn't feel left out. He has to give his brother the impression that he matters, and with all of the ladies Luigi's already getting he couldn't care less if Mario runs off with Peach. So when Mario finally caves and asks Luigi for his help, it goes without saying that Luigi doesn't want to solve all of Mario's problems in like five minutes tops. That wouldn't be very sporting, and Peach would drop Mario like the useless sack of bricks he is. So in order to not outclass Mario too much, Luigi pretends to have problems with running. He's a bro like that.
Luigi is taller than Mario, slimmer than Mario, younger than Mario, I'm going to assume more intelligent than Mario, has a better mustache than Mario, jumps better than Mario and just allround is a better person than Mario. Or anyone, for that matter. Both the ultimate lady's man and a man's man, Luigi is the best there is. Captain Falcon eat your heart out.
2. Luigi is the original Green. Did you know that Shigeru Miyamoto invented the color green just for Luigi? It's true! Before his first appearance in 1983, there was no such thing as "green". Traffic lights were red and blue, trees were bright orange, and grass was purple of all things. Can you imagine what purple grass must've been like? Unsightly, that's what!
But with Luigi's first appearance in Mario Bros., the world was forever changed. At first people were dumbstruck by this beautiful new assault on their eyes. Then slowly but surely they grew to accept the color green for what it was, and began to incorporate it into the world at large. And that is how we eventually ended up with green grass, green traffic lights and green energy. Unfortunately that knowledge has been all but lost to the new generation (I blame public education), but I for one shall never forget Luigi's profound impact on all of our lives.
Indeed, there's a very good reason why they call Luigi "mr. Green". He truly is the mr. Green.
Incidentally, this is also the explanation for why Luigi was so awesome in his role as Grass in that famous musical "The Mystery of the Fiery Hat of Social Awareness." But don't take my word for it:
3. Luigi has a killer airgame I already talked at length about Luigi's stellar jumping abilities. But while these may serve him well in mainstream Mario games, they truly shine in Smash Bros.
Personally, I'm a huge air player in Smash. This is an element that no other fighting game series can truly match, and one that I like to exploit to the fullest extent. There's something incredibly satisying in tossing your opponent off the stage and then jumping after him for the finishing blow.
Given my love for aerials in this series, it should come as no surprise that Luigi and I get along incredibly well. Almost like a reverse Little Mac, Luigi barely has any reason to ever be on the ground at all. I'd go so far as to say that anytime you spend more than 10 seconds not being in the air as Luigi, you're playing him wrong. He jumps high, falls slow, and has some quick aerials at his disposal that hit surprisingly hard and are easy to chain together. In Melee his biggest strengths were his forward and down air. In Brawl his forward was nerfed while his backwards was improved, so all that really changed was which direction you needed him to face. His down air remained good and his neutral was more relevant than ever.
I love playing Luigi for his ability to quickly dish out more aerials than you can keep track of, and for being able to follow your opponents wherever they may go. With his vastly improved recovery options in Brawl, there was almost no place to run from this guy. Pair that with a good forward Smash, an incredibly useful all-purpose Down-B and one of the weirdest yet most satisfying Final Smashes, and you've got my favorite fighter in the game.
In fact, Luigi is so good in Smash Bros. that he can win against anyone by doing absolutely nothing.
4. Luigi has character, dark secrets Out of all of Nintendo's characters, there aren't many that you could say truly have a personality to them. Luigi though? All of the personality. All of it.
In all of his recent appearances, Luigi has been the coward of the group. That alone set him apart from everyone else. While Mario would just blindly rush into a house full of ghosts like some kind of disinterested stoic, Luigi is more mindful of his surroundings and has the decent sense to be scared out of his wits. Good on him. Of course I would argue that this is simply a ruse to make Mario feel better about himself, but the point still stands that there's more to Luigi than meets the eye. Whether just a coward that faces his fears to save his friends or the ultimate hero who pretends to be scared so his brother doesn't look as bad, it's clear that there's more to Luigi than just his staggeringly good looks.
What makes Luigi truly unique, however, is his dealings with his dark and mysterious past. We know little about where Luigi came from and what made him who he is, but he has been dropping hints that there may be something sinister going on for years now. What is the Negative Zone, and how is Luigi able to summon it? Why did he change into Mr. L so easily in Super Paper Mario? What exactly did he do with Princess Eclair of the Waffle Kingdom and how is he able to come cheer on Mario while also being on his own quest? Just what did he see when he stared into the abyss of Shy Guy's face?
There are hidden depths here that need to be explored, and I think spending time with Luigi in Smash Bros. 4 is the way to do it. There is...something behind Luigi's eyes, and we need to find out what. For all our sakes.
5. I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THIS SUAVE MOTHERFUCKER There's only so much Luigi that I can explain. Some things you just need to see for yourselves.
- Cutting a tree down with fingerpistols.
- Having the very best V for Victory sex.
- Reprising his role as Grass.
- Blasting off again.
- Coming back to annihilate fucking everything
- And finally, leaving his mark on the world.
Call your dibs now! I think that just about covers it. By way of REASONS and LOGIC I have carefully explained why I have dibs on Luigi for Smash Bros. 4 for 3DS. He is mine and mine alone, so you have been warned. Now I know that all of you fellow Smashers are very upset, but there is no need to cry longer than a couple of days or so. There are still plenty of characters left in the game, and while they may be a far cry from the man in Green that doesn't mean they couldn't be somewhat decent still. I guess, maybe? If you squint?
You can still call your dibs. You have that power. It's been inside you all along. Go out there, and claim your Smash Bros. character before everyone else does and all you're left with is Jigglypuff. Or heaven forbid, Dark Pit. I look forward to seeing your no doubt well-reasoned blogs on the matter.
At any rate, I think I've made my point here clear. Luigi is amazing, Luigi is great, and Luigi is mine.
When I sat down to write my Recaps a few hours ago, I realized that it has been at least a couple of weeks since I talked about what my stay in the US is like. I mean, I still really want to talk about Bravely Default as well (Weapon Magic + Two Handed + Valkyrie = fun x profit), but for now it might be fun to give you guys another outsider's perspective on your country. It turned out so big that I figured I'd just go all out and turn it into a blog!
First things first: everything is still going well, and I'm having tons of fun. So yay! Second: over the past few weeks I've been doing a lot of experiments. Food experiments, that is. What I mean by that is that I've been sampling damn near everything I could get my hands on. Food you can't get in the Netherlands, food you could but prepared slightly differently, food I've never even heard of, the works. In particular I've been focusing on those foodstuffs that you often hear about in movies/cartoons and the like but which I have never actually seen before in real life because the Dutch aren't exactly the biggest demographic in the world. It's been a great experience, although those extra pounds are quickly starting to add up. For now though, that's future Shade's problem.
So let me take a moment now to share some of my results!
1. General comment: Choices. Like, way too many of them. Okay, before we go into specifics can I just say something here? Realtalk, America. You seriously don't need twenty different kinds of everything.
When I ask for a burger all I want is a goddamn burger. What I don't want is be dragged into a WRPG Dialog Tree about what kind of burger I'm going to eat. Rare, Medium, Well-done, it honestly isn't that big of a deal. And how the fuck is Medium-Well even a thing? Also, when I tell you that it doesn't matter whether you give me French fries or fried potatoes as a side dish, it genuinely doesn't matter and looking at me sheepishly until I've made my decision isn't going to help either of us. You're the experts here, just give me whatever's good!
Similarly, what am I supposed to do with this:
That's peanut butter. Which is to say that ALL OF THOSE ARE PEANUT BUTTER. This isn't even all of it, I could very nearly make a panorama photo out of this. Are Americans just so picky that they just want their one very specific kind of peanut butter and nothing else? It boggles the mind.
Okay, by now you may be wondering why this is so weird to me (disclaimer: I'm obviously not actually mad). Well, in the Netherlands we don't get nearly as many choices of foods. When I go to a Dutch restaurant, I pick something from the menu and that's it. They're not going to ask how I want it prepared: they'll just prepare it like they always do for everybody. At best you can ask them to skip the sauce or toss in some extra bacon, but otherwise what you see is what you get. And that's fine, really. I trust the kitchen staff to whip me up something good; they'd be out of business already if they couldn't. As for grocery stores: when I go to my local Dutch grocery store, they will have two different kinds of peanut butter: creamy and chunky. If they want to be fancy they'll have four kinds: name-brand chunky/creamy and cheap chunky/creamy. That's all you're going to get, and I've never felt like I was missing out in my peanut buttery life experience. This coming from someone who eats it by the truckload.
I will say that the variety here is quite amazing sometimes, and it makes the experimentation process that much more fun. 2. Pig in a blanket A hotdog, yet not a hotdog. Also much better than the regular variety.
3. Ben & Jerry's Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream This may sound weird to you. But yes, even foreigners watch Stephen Colbert. I'm one of them, and a huge fan to boot. Unfortunately, while Ben & Jerry's certainly exists in the Netherlands we don't get nearly as many different flavors (see #1). As a result, I've never had Americone Dream before.
That is, until:
It's great! I love caramel something fierce so this was like heaven in a cone. Comedy and ice cream, is there anything the man can't do?
4. Mountain Dew Mountain Dew is not a thing overseas. I don't know any store that sells it. I tried it here in the US because of the meme value. You know, the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew thing? (we do get Doritos in the Netherlands by the way)
The good news is that I now know why nobody sells it overseas. The bad news is that this reason is because Mountain Dew is terrible. I'm pretty sure that so far this was the only experiment that I can say legitimately failed. Almost everything else has been either good or at least edible, but Mountain Dew fucking sucks.
5. Breakfast Pizza Come on America, you don't eat pizza for breakfast. There are rules. Just like you're not supposed to have alcohol until at least somewhere in the afternoon, there are hard limits on pizza-time. Breakfast does not fall within those limits.
No matter how great it would be if it did.
6. Burgers I thought I knew what burgers were. I really did. You go to McDonalds, they put some meat on a patty and slap some cheese on it, and you've got a burger. This is far from uncommon even in Europe, so what could they do in the US that completely overturns this completely normal burger dynamic?
Turns out, everything. American burgers rule.
The Netherlands doesn't have burger places like you do here. You get burgers at McDonalds or Burger King, but there's no such thing as "Bobby's Burger Palace" or "Bolt Burgers" which serve burgers topped with everything but the kitchen sink. The fact that these places tend to have much better meat also helps matters tremendously, not to mention that they make them so big they literally have to stick a cocktail pick into it just so it doesn't fall apart.
I'm especially partial to a heaping helping of bacon on my burger, but the variety of cheeses here is also nice. The weirdest one so far I've had today though; a burger with cheese and potato chips. Because that is a thing now (not going to lie either, it kinda works), and that's simultaneously weird and amazing to me. Apparently these guys once had a meeting and someone went: "You know what, people love burgers right? You know what they also love? Potato chips." .... "We're doing this."
I fucking love this country.
7. Lack of licorice, frikandellen and stroopwafels It's not all good, having to eat in a foreign country. For the most part I've been able to eat what I always do. I've got my veggies, meat and potatoes, and as far as afternoon snacks go it's not like chocolate chip cookies are like this alien concept to me.
Nonetheless, there will always be some things that you miss out on. The things I miss most right now are Dutch licorice (are the Dutch seriously the only people who like licorice? The stuff is everywhere where I'm from), stroopwafels (which are cookies filled with caramel syrup and are thus the bestest thing ever) and the frikandel (an almost exclusively Dutch snack food sausage that you eat with your French fries. Trust me, they're amazing.)
- Frikandellen, one filled with ketchup, mayonaise and topped with onion.
- And stroopwafels. You have no idea how badly I want these right now.
8. My fortuneless Fortune Cookie Chinese restaurants are huge in the Netherlands. I wouldn't be suprised if a good quarter of all the restaurants in the Netherlands was some sort of Chinese place. More power to them, because Chinese food's great!
Yet despite the incredible number of these places, I've never had Fortune Cookies before. It's not a thing that Dutch Chinese restaurants will give you, because apparently there's this sense that it's stereotypically American or something like that. I dunno, it doesn't make much sense to me either.
So after my first meal at this local Chinese place in the US I finally got my first Fortune Cookie! ...and it was empty. I have no fortune.
9. Oreo-flavored everything You can get Oreos in the Netherlands, but only in their normal cookie variety. It turns out though that Oreos can be put onto almost anything to make it amazing. Chocolate-centered Oreos, Oreos with peanut butter, Oreo ice cream and I swear to god the moment someone thinks to put Oreos on a burger it will absolutely happen.
It's pretty safe to say that I've never appreciated Oreos quite in the same way as I do now. They're much more delicious than I ever gave them credit for and really do make everything from yoghurt to ice cream that much better. Remember though; in the Netherlands they compete with stroopwafels, which is not a battle that one could win. Which leads me to the following conclusion:
Caramel Oreos, guys. Make it happen.
- Well I'll be damned.
10. American Beer By now it may start to sound like American food is inherently better than anything in Europe, or that I led a sad existence in the Netherlands before coming here. That obviously isn't true. There are many things in the Netherlands that are great as well, and not all of my US experiments have been entirely successful.
One thing in particular that Americans aren't very good at is beer. Almost all of the US beers have been decidedly inferior to anything German, Dutch or Belgian. Given the choice I will order Heineken at any bar that has it, because there's really no contest here. The only beer I've found that's somewhat decent is Yuengling, but even that just tastes like not-as-good Heineken.
You've got to step up your game guys, this is a vitally important area you're missing out on!
Upcoming experiment: Twinkies. And those are the current results of my US food experiments! I've gotta say that in most areas you guys have done a great job, so be proud! Nobody does unhealthy foods quite as well as you do, and that's gotta count for something. I'm not done yet though, I've got a couple of months of experimenting ahead of me still.
Next up on the list is getting myself a Twinkie. Because Zombieland. I shit you not, that is literally the reason I want one.
Yesterday I had to spend almost the entire day on the train, so I figured I might as well do something productive with my time and get a head start on this week's recaps. This week was pretty special for me, so there would be plenty to talk about. However, as I was working the feeling crept up that I might as well blog about this. And since I have something to give away too, I want to make sure people take notice. Besides, since I'm posting this on my own Recaps day, that's at least one more blog to make the whole thing seem a little less barren. Because I'm smart like that.
So what's this all about? Well, last Sunday I went to a gamer's convention for the first time ever. That probably isn't too special for you guys across the pond, but I didn't know we even HAD Cons in the Netherlands, so for me it was quite the pleasant surprise! The thing was called EpiCon (kinda lame, but what can you do?) and it was mostly for gamers but with a little fantasy stuff and zombies thrown in. It was not very large at all, but despite being a relatively smalltime event the organization had managed to use the available space efficiently, so there was still plenty to do. The Netherlands is a tiny country, so a huge event isn't exactly to be expected anyway.
Besides, it's not the size that matters, it's how you use it.
The event would surely pale in comparison to what other people might be used to, but I had a lot of fun regardless.
For one, I got to play a bunch of upcoming games, including a demo for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! That was one of the highlights for me, because it's looking to be a great game. I got to play as the Enforcer class, who can summon two drones to help him out: Wolf for offense and Saint for healing. And by "can summon" I basically mean I had them out at all times. I really like classes with pets in RPGs so this one suited me just fine. Wolf and Saint certainly don't have the same "sawblade with wings" quality that Bloodwing had, but they serve their purpose well. I also got to check out the gravity mechanic and the limited oxygen. Basically, you can jump really high and cannonball back to the ground to do decent damage to anything near the impact site. It's pretty fun, and it definitely helps if you get swarmed by enemies. Finally, while we were running around killing dudes, we received instructions from a cockney kid called Pickles, who I swear is voiced by Luke Triton from Professor Layton. It's not just that his voice is the same; he talks exactly like Luke, except with more swears. Hearing normally well-behaved and gentlemanly Luke swear got a few chuckles out of me, that's for sure. The Borderlands demo wasn't very long (although I could swear everyone in front of me in line took at least twice as long as I did), but overall I was down with the low gravity and my class. Looking forward to the full game!
There was also a booth to play Evolve, but the line was so damn long it wasn't worth it. Instead I played a little bit of Mortal Kombat X (which is Mortal Kombat, but now with X) and some indie games by up-and-coming Dutch developers. I saw a shmup inspired by Geometry Wars, another shmup that let you switch between two different locations on the fly, and a very slow Zen game where you control a group of adorable floating creatures who you can split up in two groups (after which you control them with the two control sticks, like in Two Brothers) to solve puzzles. Not the most impressive games around I guess, but they seemed worth my time when they eventually get released. I do love shmups, after all. Some of them are on Steam Greenlight already, so keep an eye out! Already established Dutch devs were also present to talk about their games and the development process at large, like Abbey Games (Reus). No Vlambeer though, unfortunately. Would've loved to meet those guys.
Finally, some eSports were hosted, so I took some time to watch the Starcraft 2 finals. I know buggerall about Starcraft, but the matches were pretty fun to watch and decently easy to follow. Ignite vs. uThermal, if anyone knows those names. Afterwards some Hearthstone matches were hosted, but I know even less about Hearthstone than Starcraft, so I didn't stick around to watch those.
Overall, I enjoyed myself at the game stands for quite some time, even though the choices were pretty limited. I didn't even have to make use of the big lounge area they had set up, because I was kept occupied at all times. It's a shame there was no chance to play upcoming WiiU games or something, but in the Netherlands you take what you can get.
Apart from games, there was a stand where you could buy replicas of all sorts of video game, fantasy and anime swords. They had Sting and Orcrist, Kratos' Chaos Blades, Keyblades, and lots and lots of others. I was THIS fucking close to buying a Master Sword, but my friend dragged me away before it was too late. I did manage to get the seller's card, so who knows! I'd love to own a Master Sword, you have no idea. There was other swag as well at different stand, but most of it wasn't really for me. I eyed an Attack on Titan shirt for a while, as well as Thorin's key, but ultimately left with only a new GameCube controller to show for it (gotta prepare for dat Smash Bros!). That fucking Master Sword though. Goddamn. It wasn't even that expensive either.
One other thing they had was a large set where people were LARPing some Game of Thrones, including the throne and everything. It was a little silly, but everyone involved was having a good time. Besides, you could get your picture taken on the Throne, which even as a non-fan I just couldn't pass up.
Speaking of pictures, there were a lot more cosplayers around than I expected! I honestly didn't think we had it in us, but I guess the Dutch are a little more creative than you'd think. I saw lots of Star Wars people, a Lightning, Chell, Link and Zelda, two or three Lara Croft, Catwoman (Tim Burton version) some folks from League of Legends, Elizabeth, a couple of female Assassins (I wanted to tell them that they shouldn't exist because they're too difficult and too expensive, but I contained myself) and a bunch of others. I told myself in advance that I wouldn't bug every cosplayer for their picture, but that was pretty difficult to hold myself to. At one point I saw a Nazgűl wandering around and I couldn't keep myself anymore. So now I have photographic evidence that I was stabbed by a Nazgűl. That's a win in my book!
- After which he offended Fantasy puritans everywhere by sitting on the Iron Throne
All in all, I had a terrific day. The atmosphere at EpiCon was MUCH better than expected. You see, I have a terrible image of Dutch gamers, Dtoid members excluded. Our one gaming magazine is almost entirely geared towards shooters and sports, with hardly any Nintendo love, let alone indies. It often seems like the new Call of Duty and the new FIFA are the only games that matter, while Shovel Knight can go fuck itself. Dutch gaming forums aren't much better either. As such I was worried that the whole Con thing would be swarmed by dude-bro gamers who don't know their Zelda from their Link, which wasn't helped by calling the thing "EpiCon" and devoting a good chuck of attention to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. Apparently there are many more "real" gamers in the Netherlands than I gave them credit for. The people there, most of them my age so early 20s, were genuinely excited for the eSports, gave the indie devs the attention they deserve, weren't above lounging somewhere to play some Pokémon on 3DS, absolutely fucking REVELED in the swords and other swag, and all in all seemed like the kind of people I don't know nearly enough of. Props to all of you! Thanks!
GIVEAWAY TIME Ah yes, but I promised to give something away, didn't I? Well, upon entrance to the Con everyone received a Steam code for a Season Pass of The Walking Dead Season 2. As I understand it, this will net you all the Episodes already out, as well as giving you the new ones once they release. Now I haven't even played Season 1 yet, so I might as well give this away! Checking the store page for this game, I see that I already have three Dtoid peeps who want this game in my Friends List; you are automatically entered! Everyone else can just leave a comment here saying that you want in. No hooks or challenges or whatever (although I guess you can if you really want to), just ask. I'll collect all the entries next Monday and draw a winner!
Remember when we did "Because VIDEOGAMES" (here), when we all took a moment out of our days to appreciate that videogames are pretty amazing? Well, I feel like it's been way too long since then, and I'm sure we all have new things to be excited about. Come to think of it, it's been way too long since I blogged, period. So let's fix that.
For me, that new thing is definitely Mario Kart 8. Goddamn it's so much fun. I really enjoy the anti-gravity mechanic, the visuals and music are great and overall it's just nice simple racing goodness. It's been ages since I played a Mario Kart and I'm not even sure if I've ever owned one before, but the new one has been worth every penny already. So what better game is there to take the first steps in delivering more excitement?! None.
And with that, let's see if we can kickstart some "Because [INSERT VIDEOGAME HERE]" excitement, with my 5 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, and perhaps next week I'll follow it up with my 5 favorite retro tracks.
"But Shade, I want to hear about the things you hate about videogames! I feed off nerdrage and the tears of the fanboy! Surely even Mario Kart 8 can't be all good?"
Oh alright, fine. I know how to deal with jaded Internet assholes. The WiiU's messaging system sucks a fat one so it's hard to get your friends to join a game, the roster is severely lacking, and Blue Shells still ruin your day if you don't have a Super Horn.
There. You happy now? Then let's get to the fun part!
5 New Mario Kart 8 Tracks I'm Excited About First things first, what does it take for a track to get me excited? Three things, for the most part: visuals, music and fun. None of these should come as any surprise. It's been duly noted by pretty much everyone that Mario Kart 8 looks amazing, I mention my love for video game music all the fucking time, and fun just speaks for itself. Any stage that manages to combine all of these aspects is almost guaranteed a Top 5 spot, but even having one of the three can be amazing in its own right.
See for yourself!
- 5. Mario Circuit
I can't think of a better stage that exemplifies what Mario Kart 8 is about than Mario Circuit, the first course in the Flower Cup. Its design is based off of a Möbius strip which twists and turns all around Peach's castle. While the course itself is fairly straightforward, I find it to be a lot of fun. The track transitions from being upside-down to rightside-up seamlessly, so you'll barely notice that anything's amiss until you're cruising straight past the castle tower which may or may not be obeying the laws of physics. Definitely a nice touch from a visual standpoint there. There's a good reason why this track was chosen for the game's cover art: Mario Circuit isMario Kart 8.
But the main reason I enjoy this track so much? I smoke people here. I don't know what it is about this track, but it feels fast. My main character at the moment is what I like to call Shooting Star Rosalina. I use Rosalina on the Comet Bike with Cyber Slick wheels and one of the gliders that ups acceleration. This gives her great top speed, decent acceleration, weight and handling, but terrible traction (what does traction even do, though?). Let me tell ya, she's right at home on Mario Circuit. Nice long stretches to put her top speed to work, and the few turns you have to make are just wide enough to smoothly drift along the inside. Lots of fun all around!
- 4. Bowser’s Castle
I used to hate Bowser's Castle in earlier Mario Kart games. I remember doom and gloom, annoying 90-degree corners, and everything trying to kill you everywhere all the time. Fortunately, the latest installment of the dreaded fortress is much better this time around.
It might be less colorful than the other tracks in the game, but it's as fun to race in as any, with obstacles that are actually cool this time around. Take another look at that picture above and tell me that a giant flaming stone Bowser Golem thing punching the track isn't epic as balls.
It also has pretty damn bitchin' music if you ask me.
So, Bowser? I know you like renovating and all, but please try not to change too much for our next go, alright? Your place is great just the way it is.
- 3. Electrodrome
Electrodrome is quite possibly my favorite track in the game from a visuals point of view. Which kinda sucks, because it's incredibly difficult to capture in screenshots. Youtube to the rescue!
There's a lot of neat touches to this level that are hard not to appreciate. From the neon everywhere to the giant disco balls and boomboxes along the tracks, the rainbow trail your kart leaves behind on certain parts, and the NPCs "groovin' to da beat" (that is a thing that people say, right?), it all comes together to make a wonderful themed stage. This being a disco-level, due attention was obviously also paid to the music, which is both a lot of fun and fitting with the theme.
But now that we're getting to my Top 3 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, a track will have to do more than just be visually and musically interesting to earn its spot here. Fortunately, Electrodrome is also quite fun to play indeed, and another nice example of a track where Shooting Star Rosalina is at her best. Corners that are just tight enough, anti-gravity bump boost thingamajigs (<-side note: Word actually knows "thingamajig" and even has synonyms for it. What the shit) scattered all over the place, and enough opportunities to stretch that top speed to its limit, for Electrodrome you can keep those silly low weight class characters to yourself.
- 2. Sunshine Airport
Admittedly, I have no idea whatsoever how Mario & crew got permission to host kart races at an active airport. I imagine the paperwork must've been horrendous. Still, I'm glad they persevered, because Sunshine Airport is one of the most fun stages in the game. And be honest, if in real life you could race at an airport, wouldn't you do it too?
There are quite a few things that make this stage my second favorite stage in Mario Kart 8, but the most important ones all stem from the "active airport" bit. Not even 10 seconds into the first lap you're already driving underneath a Boeing 747 decorated with Mario imagery, and not 10 seconds afterwards you get to drive across a plane's left wing, through its body and out at the other side. Additional planes come and go in the background, and some will look like they just barely missed you. Very cool. But one of my favorite things is actually far more simple, and that's the sweet little shortcut you can take if you drive straight across the luggage conveyors at the very end. You skip a turn and get a trick boost as a bonus, at least as long as you don't slam your face into someone's suitcase!
Ah, Mount Wario. Without a doubt my favorite track in the game, and not just from the new ones. First of all, I really like the setup here. This is the only stage in the game where you're not driving around in a lap but have a single long course with a distinct beginning and end. And when said beginning is inside a helicopter and said end is all the way down at the bottom of a mountain, it becomes even more fun!
I like this stage a lot in that you're always driving at a downwards angle: it gives a nice sense of speed and a feeling that you're getting somewhere new. Along the way there are lots of other cool things to do as well. You get to drive on waterfalls, through a cave, you get to do tricks on fallen trees and snow hills, and you get to slalom through gates that must have been left-overs from Mario's run in the winter Olympics. The final approach to the finish line, where you're gliding off of a huge slope, is especially satisfying (if you're in first place doubly so), and it's neat that you can wait for the other players to arrive after you've finished rather than just watching the CPU make a mess of your victory run.
And the music? Why, inspired by Super Mario 3D World of course!
In fact, "greatness" is what I would use to describe almost all of Mario Kart 8's new stages. Like I said, I'm not exactly on expert on this series, so I'm not sure how the good-to-bad ratio was in previous games, but for the most part this game nails it. Water Park with its giant underwater O-turn, Cloudtop Cruise based on Mario Galaxy's Gusty Garden, Sugar Rush Sweet Sweet Canyon ripped straight out of Wreck-it Ralph, Shy Guy Falls making you drive up and down waterfalls, the new Rainbow Road's sweet-ass satellites, all of it is fun. I think the only stage I actively dislike is Dolphin Shoals, but even that's more because I suck at it than anything else.
As for the retro stages, lots of great stuff here too, but maybe I'll save that for later. It does need saying though that Royal Raceway looks absolutely fucking gorgeous in this game. What with all the flowers and everything? The WiiU can do some sweet visuals if it puts its mind to it.
These were once again just a couple of things I was excited about. Why? Because MARIO KART!
Video games are still amazing, fun, exciting and all the other good stuff. So what have all of you been playing? Are you excited Because MORTAL KOMBAT, Because DARK SOULS II, Because WATCH_DOGS, or something else? Or perhaps, of course, just Because VIDEOGAMES?! Let me know in blog or comment, because I love reading all about it!
In the mean time, me and Shooting Star Rosalina are going to be found on the tracks.
- Goddammit Yoshi, stop checking out Rosalina; she's not even the same species! Hell, you're barely humanoid!read
It is not every day that two visual novel gaming icons meet face to face, and it is even rarer to find a case where both icons fit well together despite their vastly different art and gameplay styles. Nonetheless, Level 5 and Capcom have managed to give both puzzle fans and aspiring lawyers just that with Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. It might still be a bit of a wait for any US fans, but the game is worth the wait in gold.
It goes without saying that a British professor of archeology and an American/Japanese lawyer don't just meet by pure chance. Even though it appears that the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series share the same universe, what ultimately brings the two unlikely heroes together is nothing short of magic. Literally. The story begins when one of Layton's old students has managed to find a strange town called Labyrinthia and in the process rescued a girl from the witches hunting her. The witches catch up to them though, and ultimately it is up to Layton and Luke themselves to keep this girl, Espella, safe. This proves to be their undoing, however, as the witches suck them into a magic book that instantly warps them to Labyrinthia.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey are just chillin'. Phoenix has been enlisted in a lawyer's exchange program with the UK. While there, he has to defend a strange absent-minded girl from being found guilty of (for the first time in the series) something other than murder. During those proceedings Phoenix and Maya are confronted with the same magic book and find themselves in Labyrinthia as well.
From there on out a tale of magic, witches, murders, Stories and much more unfolds. In Labyrinthia magic and witches are very real, and there is a mysterious figure called the Storyteller who basically writes the future. It will require both the puzzle-solving skills of the gentleman professor and the outside-the-box thinking of the ace attorney to get to the bottom of the many mysteries of the town stuck in fantasy.
The above is just about all that I can share about the story without going into spoiler territory. That said, the plot of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright takes some definite twists and turns throughout its 20-hour run. Some of them you'll see coming, others definitely not. The story is also quite dark this time around. Witch trials are very real in Labyrinthia and those found guilty will be burned alive without hesitation. We also see several counts of (attempted) suicide as well, with one instance of attempted child suicide. For me this only served to draw me ever deeper into the story, as I find "dark as fuck" to be just inherently gripping, but I'm warning you all the same. All in all, the story is well paced and well told. New mysteries keep popping up even up until the final hours of the game, and you're given plenty of material to work with in order to forge your own theories. Moreover, story progression isn't just restricted to the Professor Layton portions of the game. The Ace Attorney-style court cases have an major bearing on the story as well, causing them to feel just as relevant as anything the Layton team comes up with if not more so. Don't be surprised if a major revelation isn't the result of an investigation but rather of a witness spilling the beans. The game's endgame is particularly well done; when you hit the final chapter you will not want to put your 3DS down until you've seen it all the way through. To be honest I always find the endings of Professor Layton games to be kind of hit-or-miss, but I'd place this one squarely in the "hit" camp. Although it's probably still advisable not to think about it too hard.
The characters that inhabit this magical world feel like they came straight out of the Professor Layton-verse. They tend to have their own little quirks and mannerisms, but you will meet more serious people as well. In my opinion they're not quite as funny as the characters you would find in the Ace Attorney series, but they fit well within the bounds of Labyrinthia and interact well with both sets of characters. It helps that all of them have beautifully animated 3D models and are still expertly written. The same goes for the voice-acting. There are quite a bit of voice-acted lines this time around; with one or two exceptions they fit very well with their characters and bring some much-appreciated life to the cast. Professor Layton himself is (still) the standout in this field, but even one-off witnesses sound completely believable. The one downside presentation-wise is that Phoenix' model looks like a step down from the one we have already seen in Dual Destinies and his voice sounds a little bit off sometimes. On the other hand it is incredibly nice to see Maya fully animated and voiced.
Despite how good any side characters are, the main draw of this game is inevitably going to be the interaction between Layton, Luke, Phoenix and Maya. Rest assured that there is indeed plenty of interaction and it is without a doubt the highlight of the game. While Phoenix and Layton have vastly different personalities they work very well together, and the lovely assistants hit it off almost immediately, with Luke even adopting the moniker of "ace apprentice". Over the course of the game you'll also see some mixing and matching of characters, so that you won't be stuck with the two distinct duos throughout the entire game. This even transitions into the gameplay. The good professor is very helpful during the court cases (in which he even gets to shout "OBJECTION!" at multiple points), and the ace attorney likes to try his hand at a puzzle every once in a while too. As far as crossovers go you can't get it any better than this and honestly I didn't expect the IPs to intertwine as much as they do. The final few hours of the game in particular are a shining example of how crossovers should be done.
While the story and the characters are arguably the biggest draw for any fan of Layton or Phoenix, this game wouldn't be complete without a healthy mix of puzzles and cross-examinations. Fortunately, Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney delivers plenty of both. In fact, the game provides an almost 50-50 split between the two different gameplay styles.
During one part, you get to walk around the town of Labyrinthia. You will search the background for hint coins, talk to the quirky characters mentioned above, and research the many mysteries of Labyrinthia. Most importantly, of course, you get to solve the characteristic Professor Layton puzzles. In what I thought was a nice touch, many of these puzzles have a medieval theme, dealing with knights and witches and the like. Unfortunately, this time around the puzzles are almost all quite easy. Many of the puzzles you can't actually fail because they only end when you've found the solution, and even the few pure logic-based puzzles that have been included are unlikely to stump any seasoned gamer. Out of the 70 puzzles that are in the game there was only one occasion where I legitimately failed, and only a few that took me longer than a couple of minutes to solve. In contrast, there were only a handful of puzzles that I would count among the better ones of the series. Anyone playing this game purely as a Professor Layton fan will probably find the game lacking in this regard. That's not to say that solving puzzles isn't still fun, but it definitely would've done the game good if the difficulty had been upped somewhat.
During the investigation/puzzle-solving parts of the game, there are several points in the story where shit hits the fan. For the most part, that means that people get murdered by witches. What follows is a full-on Ace Attorney trial done in the style of the infamous witch trials. This brings with it certain noticeable changes to the gameplay. First of all, everyone in the courtroom is more hostile towards Phoenix than ever. Everyone, judge included, has already made up their minds that your client is guilty as sin and should be burned on the spot. They're not called witch trials for nothing, after all! They tend to ease up towards the end of the game, but for the most part you're fighting a steep uphill battle. This isn't helped by the fact that in medieval times there is very little evidence for Phoenix to work his magic with. You can't check a magic staff for fingerprints, because there's no such thing as fingerprinting in Labyrinthia. Crime scene photos don't exist either, and the artist sketches you do get contain dubious information at best. Fortunately, the ace attorney gets a few new tricks up his sleeve to deal with a world in which magic is real. For one, you get a tome of magic that explains how every magic spell works, which you can then use to your advantage. This leads to some interesting scenarios, as it becomes perfectly viable to claim that the real killer was simply invisible. If such a spell exists and there is evidence that it has been used, all possibilities are still on the table.
Perhaps more importantly, you get to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. In doing so you can set the witnesses up against each other and see whether their stories match up to your liking. Because of the number of witness that you have to examine, however, they tend to be less interesting than those you’d expect to find in an Ace Attorney game, with most having one defining quirk and little screentime. The final case has one instance where the system works brilliantly, but I can't help but feel that it fell a bit short during the rest of the game. There is one witness in the prologue case that channels the Ace Attorney spirit with gusto, fans of the original game and/or Dual Destinies will find a few funny familiar scenarios and the participation of Professor Layton and Luke helps to soften the blow significantly, but the cross-examinations don't reach their full potential.
- The witnesses are most certainly not above conspiring against you.
One final thing to mention is that both the background art and the music managed to stand out in my mind. Backgrounds are always highly detailed and particularly towards the endgame you will come across some startling backdrops. The music meanwhile is a great selection of both familiar Layton and Wright music, with some original work thrown in. Anyone who has played either of these series will doubtlessly find some familiar stuff in here, as you'd expect from any good cross-over game. My personal favorite was a beautiful music-box version of the Turnabout Sisters theme from the original Ace Attorney, which played at exactly the right moment to make me tear up a little.
Ultimately, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright delivers an excellent Layton-esque story complemented by court cases that feel right at home in the setting. With puzzles that are easier than they needed to be and cross-examinations that are not as wacky as one might expect, the gameplay won't astound any longtime fan. Fortunately, the interesting story and especially the great interaction between the two IPs makes this a game that is nonetheless more than worth playing. For the price of one you get a good Professor Layton game paired with a good Phoenix Wright game, joining forces to make a great crossover experience.
So here's a little update about me outside of my usual Thursday Shadeisms (because I like to pretend that people care). I just felt like sharing the good news without having to wait for my "turn". Also, random thought: this is the third blog I've written in a row which title starts with my name. I dunno what that says about me. That I still like my internet-name, I guess.
Ever since I started law school in the Netherlands I wanted to participate in one of my university-wide exchange programs. Basically, our university has official relations with a number of universities abroad (ranging from Japan to Canada to everything in between) and they will help us get a placement abroad, funding, housing and the like. Everything to make it easier for us to actually go somewhere. Myself, I was even luckier than most: because I finished at the top of my class in my very first year of law school, I received €500 extra to study abroad.
However, between my first year and now, I hadn't been able to participate in one of these exchange programs. Every year something would come up that prevented me from going. Some of it was my fault, some of it was not, but at the end of the day I was still stuck in boring old Holland. But since this year right now was the last time I could possibly go anywhere, it was now or never. I made extra sure that my application was in order, that my grades were up to stuff and that I took an English as a Foreign Language Test (which I aced, by the way).
Well shit paid off, because after all these years I finally got in.
I get to go to the United States!
Specifically, I get to go to the George Washington University in Washington DC.
I'm going from about the start of September to somewhere in January, so one full semester. During that time, I'm going to be brushing up on my American Law and I'm going to further pursue my own interest in Human Rights Law and in ICT Law. US Human Rights Law in particular sounds fascinating to me because of how different you peeps approach basic human rights compared to how we do in Europe. Whereas your First Amendment is almost sacred, us Europeans are of the view that there's definitely a certain limit to fee speech and that you can't just say any ol' bullshit and get away with it. But on the other hand, gay rights are far more developed in Europe than the US, and we've seen last year that if there's anyone we shouldn't trust to respect our privacy, it's the US government.
It's all so strikingly different that I'd love to get some first-hand experience in the one city where it all happens. That city, of course, being DC.
But as we video gamers understand better than anyone, all work and no play doesn't make for a very exciting trip. So during those months I'm going to be in the US, I'd love to go see things, do things. So if you've got any tips on what to do when in DC, by all means share them. Or any tips on which video games to bring on the plane or anything else you can think of. Just shoot!
But perhaps more than anything, I want to meet you!
- Yes, you.
Even though I'm far from the only "foreigner" on this little internet-home of ours, the vast majority of us are still American. So I figured, what if some faithful Dtoid visitors were located in the DC area? I could totally go say hi when I'm there!
And that's what this blog is for, really. I've been on Destructoid for years, but never really had the chance to meet the people behind that avatars that have come to mean so much to me. With my upcoming half-year trip to the States, now would seem like a better time than ever to do exactly that.
So, do any people here live in the Washington DC area? Of course in the city would be best (that way I wouldn't have to pay for a tour guide, duh), but if you think you're worth driving a couple of hours for, I'm sure I can squeeze you in (although that may or may not depend on your willingness to play Super Smash Bros. with me). For example, I definitely plan to visit New York during my stay; that's a kind of distance I could easily deal with. Note that I'm not asking for housing or funds or whatever, I can manage that on my own just fine. Still, it would be nice to have a friendly face in unfamiliar territory, to hang out with sometime or just to show me around once and then deny any connection.
So if you're in the area and want to meet a 'toider from the legendary land of hookers and blow, that'd be awesome! I want to take the time to see all that I can, and that includes you!
(I'm probably also posting this on the forums later, but the Cblogs feel like my eHome more than any other part of the site, so it's only fair to post here first.
Finally, on an unrelated note: I'm sorry for being so absent from the site lately. I'm going to try getting back in the game here. Reading and commenting on you Cblogs is on the top of the list. You guys so deserve it. Tell you what: if I forget I want you to come to my house and punch me in the face. Or watch me sleep, if you're into that. That'll teach me!) read
About ShadeOfLight One of us since 7:43 AM on 07.16.2010
On the wings of death, by the hands of doom;
By the darkest light from the darkest moon;
On the wings of life, by the hands of hope;
By the brightest light from the brightest sun.
And vice versa.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to play the vidya. 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 the library still needs expanding, I had tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Super Mario 3D World
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros. WiiU
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
And on the Nintendo front, let's not forget the 3DS I've had since early 2014! Like, say:
Super Smash Bros. 3DS
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Fire Emblem Awakening
Super Mario 3D Land
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright
Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Code of Princess
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
Thomas Was Alone
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!