The darkness to every light, the shadow to every shine, the dusk to every dawn, the Luna to every Sol.
And vice versa.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to game. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.
I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Finally, as is to be expected I'm super excited for the new WiiU "Xeno-" game!
The Wii is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
Xenoblade Chronicles (see also: Baten Kaitos - Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean for GC)
Zelda: Twilight Princess / Skyward Sword
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Wario Land: Shake it!
and Metroid Prime Trilogy.
I love my WiiU as well, and even though there aren't that many games out for it right now, I'm having tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.
Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Dungeons of Dredmor
Mark of the Ninja
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
To The Moon
Orcs Must Die! 2
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
and many, many more!
Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!
The stage is set: E3 2012. It's the fifth of June, and Nintendo's press conference is about to start.
They are going to nail it this year. Yesterday Microsoft once again fell flat on its face, and while Sony did well, it was nothing that can't be beaten. Nintendo has a fresh new console to promote: all the more reason for them to knock it out of the park today. They've got this one in the bag.
The show starts: a nice little video featuring Miyamoto being followed around by pikmin. Man, they're starting off with Pikmin 3! I told you this was going to be glorious! I can't wait to hear what else they have in store! "You've got to have a Mario game", Reggie says a little while later. He's right, you know. New Super Mario Bros. U is shown, people like it. A little Van Gogh there in the background, Nintendo? Nice. The game looks good, but it's not that spectacular. Also, Nintendo really needs to work on its naming conventions. Harley Quinn starts talking to Reggie. A little bit of disguised DLC promotion? Oh well, it was a clever little segment, so we'll let it slide. Warner Brothers comes up to show a few games. Arkham City looks great, but it was already great on the other consoles a couple of months ago. People are largely unimpressed. A nice little trailer reel. It includes Trine 2, but nobody seems to notice despite the fact that it's goddamn TRINE 2 FOR WII U!
About half the show is over now, and it was alright, but nothing stellar. Nintendo's saving the big guns for last. Or Wii fit U (naming conventions!), I guess? Well, Reggie admitted that his body was ready, so it's all good. Wait, singing? People are looking over to the person sitting next to them: "why would they show this?" 3DS is next, that apparently also exists. Couple of Mario games, couple of trailers, pretty okay. Wii U is back. Ubisoft? That looks promising, let's see some more Rayman! Oh, dancing. Drat. ZombiU looks cool though. Also naming conventions.
We're nearing the end of the show. Those big guns are coming any second now. But first, Nintendo Land. Bunch of minigames that will surely be sold together with the console. Nobody really cares at this point. After more Nintendo Land, Reggie is thanking everyone for coming? Wait, was that it? No big guns? Fireworks play. They're blasting away Nintendo's major E3 victory. People are standing up, a little disappointed. It wasn't a bad show, but Nintendo didn't nail it like they should have. And what was up with ending with Nintendo Land? Sighs are heard as people stand up to leave.
But then it happens. The lights dim again, the screen goes black. "Wait, what's happening?"
Music starts playing. Awesome music.
Duuum-duuum-duuum-duuum-dum-dumdum-duuum-duuum-duuum-duuum-dum-dumdum Several people start wooing: they obviously know what's up. The rest hasn't caught on yet.
Until, out of nowhere...
SHOW ME YOUR MOVES! The guitar comes in, the Mute City theme in full glory! The crowd goes wild! Some people are playing air guitar along with the music, others are applauding and being otherwise just excited as hell.
And on the screen? Gloriousness. It's a short trailer, but it's showing off nothing short of a brand new F-zero game! The game looks fast as hell, and the visuals rock! Captain Falcon is back baby!
At the end the screen simply says: "F-zero UX". Naming conventi-ah screw it. New F-zero!
Everyone finally leaves the Nokia theater, ecstatic: Nintendo has won E3.
At least, that's how it went in my imagination. Off course we all know that it didn't really go this way. Now, I've gotten over my disappointment and am now able to see that Nintendo still had a pretty decent show, even without a big surprise. Still though, many people were hoping for something really exciting, and while any of the "big guns" would've done fine, I believe F-zero in particular would have been completely perfect, for Nintendo's sake as well as ours. In fact, here are three reasons why.
1: We haven't seen it in forever Many people of the internet have already pointed out that maybe it was too much to ask for a new first-party title right away. The last Zelda, after all, was only a couple of months ago. Yes, we're getting new Mario games, but those also aren't really what we were talking about. Off course, Pikmin 3 will also be great, but we already knew about that one. We wanted to be surprised.
And what would be more surprising than reviving the series that has skipped the Wii entirely, despite launching one of the most meme-worthy characters in Nintendo history?
With F-zero making up one of Nintendo Land's minigames, it's clear that the big N hasn't forgotten its racing franchise. Unfortunately though, the only video of it we've seen so far shows that it's much slower than an actual F-zero game would be, and the racetrack seems rather bland. Why not go all out with it instead? Hell, you could even get cameo racers in there. Have Samus unlockable in her gunship, Olimar in his rocket, Star Fox in an Arwing. Go for it! Nintendo fans would love it. Seriously, show that in an E3 trailer and watch the crowd completely lose its shit.
A small step in the right direction
2: It is "the hardest of the core" Did you know that F-zero is hard? Like, really hard? Because it is. Only the most well-trained and experienced intergalactic racers had even a chance of beating F-zero GX for the Gamecube on the harder difficulties. This actually makes F-zero a great game through which Nintendo can show that the WiiU is indeed intended for the hardcore audience. Your grandpa wouldn't play F-zero (and if he would, he's awesome!) and neither would your little sister. No, F-zero is for us, and for us alone. We'll curse and scream when we just barely finish in second place. We'll spout memes like it's nobody's business. We'll post our records on youtube for others to tell us we suck. We'll do all of that and more, because this, well, this is our game.
In fact, this would be a great series to use with Miiverse. We've already seen that future games may get some sort of achievement system, and racing games are quite suited to that, as beating a certain time is half the fun of playing it. Actually, why stop at achievements? Get full-on online multiplayer in there! Man, if you can get a fast-paced racer like F-zero running online, no one will ever doubt the WiiU's online functionality again!
3: It could show off the WiiU's graphical power The common consensus right now seems to be that the WiiU is about as powerful as the other consoles, perhaps slightly more. Because of that, people fear that Nintendo will be left behind once the new consoles come out.
Nintendo has a few tricks up its sleeve though. As Jim Sterling recently pointed out, gritty shooters don't make for very beautiful games. If you get a bit of color in there, you can actually get a much better looking game. Nintendo has always been able to make "outdated" hardware sing. Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3 and Skyward Sword all looked better on the Wii than they had any right to. Monolith understands it as well, as evidenced by Xenoblade. And finally, Pikmin 3's visuals also managed to wow people, despite WiiU apparently not even being all that powerful.
F-zero is the perfect series for Nintendo to show that they can still do it. It's bright and colorful, with lights everywhere, and different racetracks can be used to showcase all kinds of different visual splendor. If you want to show what WiiU can do, let's say in an E3 presentation, this is one of the best ways to do it.
You want to play this in HD and you know it
All in all, the WiiU's launch line-up seems pretty good. A couple of first party games, one of which has been awaited for a long time, and some nice-looking third parties too. Some of them show off what WiiU can do better than others, but still. Nintendo's E3 presentation, however, was kind of underwhelming. Ending with Nintendo Land was especially hard to swallow for some people, but that game was somewhat saved by the inclusion of an F-zero mini-game. Could a full F-zero have saved the conference too? Yes.
F-zero, or even a small trailer, could show off the WiiU's graphical power, show that the WiiU is for the hardcore gamers and would have ended the show with a nice surprise to have them go home feeling good about life again.
In all honesty, I'm not sure how F-zero would utilize the new functions of the Wii U Gamepad. Then again, does it need to? Maybe it would be good for Nintendo to show the world that not everything needs to use the Gamepad for something special. Simplicity has its own charm, and the fact that the game could be playable on the Gamepad itself could also be a nice bonus in its own right. At the very least it would quell some shouts that every WiiU game is going to be "gimmicky" if Nintendo itself came with a game that didn't use the controller as much, but used its newfound graphical power instead. At any rate, a well-made trailer showing off cool stages, online play and whatever else Nintendo could come up with would have been eaten up by the crowd and would have surely won it some confidence.
Pikmin 3 is cool, but Captain Olimar can only get you so far. Perhaps it's time to call on the other Captain as well.
Iím liking this recent surge of information on the Cblogs. It's nice to see what kind of little, and not so little, things you can learn about your fellow gamer. So what the hell, time for me to chime in!
Look everyone, it's a phoenix! Oh, and some guy in the background I guess. Not sure what that's about.
1. I donít watch TV, ever. I donít even have access in either of my regular homes. Thereís simply nothing on TV that I canít watch more easily online and everything else is just crap. The Daily Show, Colbert Report, My Little Pony, I can watch all of those practically in realtime. I donít deal with commercials, godawful people who have gotten famous for literally no reason whatsoever or any of that crap. Instead, I bought a television set to serve as an external monitor for my laptop, and I watch everything I could possibly want on that.
2. I hate giving myself compliments for fear of becoming arrogant People have told me that this is an ďage thingĒ an ďintelligence thingĒ and even a ďDutch thingĒ. Honestly, Iím starting to think itís just a ďShade thingĒ. My studies are going really well, and Iíve made some nice achievements here and there. I was the top-scoring Law student during my first year (out of about 600 people), and Iím still in the running to graduate Cum Laude at the end of next year. But when people tell me that Iím ďsmartĒ or anything, I just feel like backing down. I feel like an idiot much more often than I feel even remotely smart. I just so happen to like what I do and I work hard for it. That really makes all the difference in the world. Above all though, Iím scared of becoming arrogant. Iíve seen people change once they got it into their heads that they were one step above the rest, and I donít ever want that to happen to me: Iíd absolutely hate myself for it. So while I can fully admit that Iím doing well in my studies, Iím more than a little hesitant to call myself smart or intelligent or whatever. Itís not in my nature to do so, and I donít really want it to be.
I love this shirt. Honestly, I think a little self-deprecating humor is healthy for everyone
3. The word ďflickĒ is awful and should be banned Yeah, everyone has those one or two words that he just hates with a passion. I hear that ďmoistĒ is a favorite for many. Mine is ďflickĒ, as in the action movies. Damn it. Damn it to punishment and pain eternal. Call it a ďmovieĒ, a ďfilmĒ even, call it ďa series of rapidly changing pictures to give the illusion of movementĒ for all I care, but just for all that is good in this world donít call it a flick. And yes, I know Destructoidís sister site is called Flixist.
4. Hypnosis helps me relax What can I say? It really does. This will sound weird, but Iíve actually gone through a time where the concept of ďsleepingĒ really bugged me. Trust me on this, you should never think about what actually happens to your body while you sleep. I mean, going into some kind of unconscious state until the morning, and you wonít even know how or when it even happens? Creepy stuff. I have some hypnosis sessions on mp3, however, and itís the most relaxing stuff ever, Iím not even kidding. They can really help me forget about the worries of the day (video games do that to me too, but in a different way somehow) and get me relaxed and ready for sleep in minutes. I donít have any sessions with a manís voice though, because a guy whispering into my ear to lay back and relax creeps me the fuck out.
5. Clumsy is my middle name And I donít mean clumsy like Bella from Twilight is clumsy. This is not a flaw that is kind of cute when you have finally accepted it. I just break things. Any and all things, everywhere. I canít draw at all and am even worse at arts and crafts. Something, somewhere will always go wrong. Hell, I can barely assemble a piece of Ikea furniture. I trip, I drop things, my balance is terrible, I make even the simplest solutions incredibly convoluted and itís all just completely UGH. If I ever get a job offer as a waiter for December 2012, I'll be sure to turn it down, because I think that is what the Mayans were referring to.
Strangely though, I do consider myself good at video games: Iíve even finished the original Ninja Gaiden and 100%ed Super Meat Boy. So apparently, I am still really skilled with my fingers. (Ladies.)
6. Letís Plays have recently taken up more of my time than actually playing games Iíve made it a point in #2 that I work hard for my studies. This has been doubly the case in the last few months. Iíve been working on several important essays which really take up quite a bit of time. It doesnít help that academic works often take an half hour of research for writing one sentence. At the end of the day, when Iíve finished all of my work, I just canít bring myself to stay in front of my PC playing a video game. My other option is the Wii, which also isnít all that when youíre tired. So instead, I hook up my laptop to my TV, search through the Letís Play Archive, drop on the couch and watch away.
Iíve actually come into contact with many games that I wish I could play, but canít. I love Muramasa, for example, but I donít have the console to play its predecessor, Odinís Sphere. Letís Plays truly save the day here. Iíve even put a game on my ďmust play before I dieĒ-list, based on what Iíd seen in an LP. Iím hoping that once I have more free time on my hands I can go back to actually playing games again, especially my massive Steam backlog, but for now Iíll settle with a nice night on the couch watching a guy play Super Mario 64with his feet.
7. When it comes to girls, Iím a walking friend zone I like girls. That sounds like me trying desperately to convince myself that Iím not gay, but that truly isnít the case. I just so happen to really like talking to girls, more so than guys I would say. I pretty much have more girl-friends than guy-friends too. Only rarely do I meet a woman I dislike, especially if I get a chance to talk to her one-on-one. And it works too: I often get along quite well somehow, despite (or because of?) Iím somewhat overweight and havenít inherited anything like bbainís staggeringly awesome beard. I donít even do anything besides being me and being friendly (both of which I think you should always be regardless) but often it seems to click rather well.
As friends, that is.
For as good as I like to believe I am at generally being friendly and making friends, Iíve never been romantically involved with anyone. Iíve been in love several times for sure, but always ended up in the dreaded friend zone. And as it is written in the story of my life, my gift then instantly becomes my curse.
8. This one is blank What did I tell you about living by my own rules!?
9. I am currently trying to memorize Edgar Allan Poeís ďThe RavenĒ Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door
ďĎTis some visitorĒ, I muttered, ďtapping at my chamber doorĒ
Only this, and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Anyway, you get the point. The first time I read this poem I was absolutely stunned. Iím not much of a guy for literature, and poetry even less so, but I found The Raven to be just completely gorgeous in every way. I can recite the first 9 stanzas (out of 17) pretty consistently. The rest hasnít been that easy yet, since English isnít my first language and there are some pretty obscure words in there. Really now, ďQuaff, oh quaff this kind nepentheĒ? What does that even mean? The point being, I really liked it, and some of Poeís other works as well (be sure to recommend some!). My favorite part is, I think, where the Ravenís name is first asked:
10. Out of all of my friends, only one is a fulltime gamer Itís true, unfortunately. I have a friend I share all of my gaming-related stuff with. Weíre on Steam together, host co-op sessions, et cetera. All of my other stuff I just saddle onto all of my other friends. They donít seem to mind. A lot of them have played some games in the past, so they can understand what it is that I do. And really, they are getting good at being interested/feigning interest when I talk about ďwhat Iíve been doing all weekĒ.
Still though, I wouldnít trade these guys and girls for the world, but it would be nice if I could get any of them to play Smash Bros with me.
11. Iím actually typing this using Dvorak for the first time Okay, no Iím not. Thereís some potential in here for sure, but holy crap this is going to take a while to learn.
12. My dream is to become a judge for the European Court of Human Rights (or for a not-even-in-existence-yet Universal Court of Human Rights) Talk about shooting for the stars, eh?
Nonetheless, Iíve been interested in the law for years and years, but during my actual studies in this field Iíve found that human rights are my true passion. They are, quite simply, the very things that allow us to live the lives that we do, and thatís something very special. Iím writing a thesis right now on whether or not access to the internet should be a human right (my supervisor wouldnít accept ďthe right to visit DestructoidĒ) and stuff like this is what I could see myself doing in god knows how many years. Seeing as how the European Court is the single most successful human rights court in existence that is really what I should be aiming for. I believe I'm getting a feeling for human rights and the law in general, and I'm willing to do all the work it takes, so I don't believe this is impossible in any way. Itís a long ways away, surely, but dreams bring out our full potential, do they not?
Besides, Xenoblade has made it to Europe, so apparently anything is possible.
Yes, that was a set-up just so I could use this picture.
I've never made it a secret: I love Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda is my favorite series of all time, Mario games are quite simply the best platformers around, and while I don't like the FPS all that much I gladly made an exception for Metroid Prime. I even fondly remember Nintendo's "B-series" such as Star Fox and F-zero. Off course, all of this also means that the Super Smash Bros. series is basically my dream come true, and I have indeed played all three of them to bits.
And yet from the very first Smash Bros., there was one character that eluded me. One character I just couldn't quite place.
A character called Ness.
In the following years, I would learn that Ness was from a game called Earthbound, or alternatively, Mother 2. I would keep learning more and more about this character and his game. Earthbound was supposedly an RPG, and the other members of your party were apparently called Paula, Jeff and Poo. Finally, some thing called Giygas was the main antagonist, so I was told.
Until recently, I had left it at that.
However, just a couple of weeks ago I finally managed to find the time to start my own playthrough of Earthbound. I thought that this was way overdue, because based on everything that I had heard throughout the years, Earthbound was going to be right up my alley.
What I got was something that was certainly very interesting, but also one of the most frustrating games I have ever played. Now, before grabbing your pitchfork, please allow me to share my thoughts on this game below, as well as my ideas for simple improvements. Because for all the things wrong with it, there is still a very clever and unique game underneath.
Of Rowdy Mice and Men The most fundamental shortcoming that this game has absolutely has to be the difficulty. Now, I'm not a person who shies away from difficult games. Throughout my gaming years I've beaten some of the most difficult platformers around, I've beaten Roguelikes with permadeath, and many a Bonus Boss has felt my wrath. Basically, if I tell my friends that I found a game "decently challenging", they interpret it as "this game is hard". When I tell them a game is "unfairly difficult", it translates to them as "avoid like the plague".
Egostroking aside, Earthbound often landed in the latter category for me.
A major example occurs right at the beginning of the game. Ness is tasked with finding the first (of eight) "Your Sanctuary" locations, which in this case is located at the other end of a cave. Unfortunately, this cave just so happens to be crawling with enemies called the Rowdy Mouse. These guys take about two or three hits from Ness' standard attack. This wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, but these mice have a nasty tendency to land critical SMAAAASH!! hits for major damage. In fact, they quite literally land a critical hit almost half the time, while Ness can only survive about three of them. And since you don't have any party members yet, prepare to take massive beating throughout this cave. Luckily, Ness has healing magic, and you can always use items (but will I come back to that later), but even this only gets you so far. You'll be completely worn out by the end of the cave, making you a sitting duck for the boss, who also packs a mean punch.
Really, the only way you can do halfway decently in this dungeon (which I would like to remind you, is the first one in the game), is if the enemies miss a lot, or are kind enough to waste their turns for you.
This man knows what he's talking about
That is not the mark of a good RPG. A good RPG should give you a decent chance to survive if you play it smart and come well prepared. Earthbound doesn't always act like it ever got that memo. To be fair, it gets a little better later on: you have more party members to share the damage, and you are more versatile in your methods of attack.
And yet even then there are still many, many enemies who serve no other purpose than to mess with you. There are lots and lots of creatures who would rather die than let you go without a fresh status ailment. They find it fun to make you "feel strange" (and not in the good way, wink wink nudge nudge) at the beginning of the fight, or make you catch a cold with just about a 100% success rate. Some of these ailments you can heal yourself, but this costs precious PP ("magic") which is relatively limited in this game. Others you can only get healed at a hospital in town, which is even more of a pain. At one point a mushroom-themed foe inflicted an ailment on me that reversed my controls, so I was desperately looking for the hospital while I kept moving in the wrong directions.
Really, there is only one real way to improve upon this, and that is to make the enemies do their regular attacks more often. Any time any enemy uses its special move, people die and controllers are thrown. However, regular attacks are far more survivable. I'm not against status ailments in games, off course not. And many moves in Earthbound fit their delightfully quirky source very well, so it would be a shame to get rid of them completely. But honestly, does that Gigantic Ant really have to poison me every single time I see it? This only serves to make the beginning of the game much harder than it needs to be, and continues to be incredibly annoying throughout the rest. Ness' adventure wouldn't be half as frustrating and twice as fair. So please, can we tone it down just a little? Pretty please?
And while you're at it, can we have more enemies like this?
"Poo, could you carry this for me?" Another thing that really needs improving is the inventory system. Simply put, your inventory space in this game is much too limited. Earthbound handles its inventory similarly to Golden Sun: every character has a separate inventory which is quite limited in size. In this case however, "quite limited" means that every character can hold a total of 14 items. This includes equipment (four pieces for each character), and key items.
Furthermore, every duplicate item takes up a separate spot in your back-pack. So if you have two hamburgers, instead of one spot which reads "Hamburger x2", each hamburger has its own spot.
Finally, you can buy things like packets of ketchup, which you automatically use when you eat a hamburger or other such food item: they cause you to recover more HP. But off course, these also take up a spot in the inventory. Together, this ensures that your inventory is always full at the worst possible times, and I've had to drop more items than I'm willing to keep track of.
Like I said, this has a very simple solution: simply make the inventory bigger. Making the inventory shared would have my preference, because separate inventories always lead to more trouble than they're worth. This game is absolutely no exception. At the very least install a counter for duplicate items, and allow me to use the packets of ketchup on my hamburgers instead of keeping them around until I eat one.
Silence is golden Earthbound is known, among others, for its clever and funny dialogue. Rarely will you see a game where talking to random villagers leads to such silly conversations. However, for all its well done NPC's, the main characters rarely say a word. In fact, pretty much all of Poo's dialogue can be summed up as: "Hello Ness, I am joining you." This is really a shame, because it makes you wonder what the developers could've come up with. As it stands, Paula and the others don't have much in the way of characterization, which is unfortunate.
Recent "parody-RPGs" like Cthulhu Saves the World and Penny Arcade Adventures show exactly what you can do when you create funny main characters and have them interact well with each other. With Earthbound being one of the first in this "genre" it is a bit of a missed opportunity here, because it also causes the characters to feel a bit more removed from everything that is happening.
This one is not so easily fixed however, because I can understand that writing good dialogue and create convincing characters can be difficult. However, based on the rest of the story, I think that this dev team could do a really good job.
"Fuzzy Pickles!" Okay, photograph man? Yeah, you were funny the first time. The first time was 10 hours ago. Please get lost.
Look, if you interrupt my game one more time, I swear I will personally feed you to Pokey
But, the more things (should) change, the more they (should) stay the same While the above are genuine criticisms that I have while playing Earthbound, I can't help but feel that I'm being a little hard on the game. Sure, less annoying enemies and a better item system would go a long way, but there is much that this game does right.
So the final improvement I would like to suggest for Earthbound 2: stay the way you are. Or become even weirder, if you want. What I'm saying is: "Go all out".
Because honestly, the weirdness and setting are what save this game. They're what's keeping it interesting throughout the experience. While the first part of the game wasn't all that, it quickly picked up after that. So far I've already encountered a hostile circus tent, a religious cult devoted to the color blue, a drug-fuelled version of a major city, a barely functional robot who happens to be a pretty though boss, lethal hieroglyphs, and much more of such silliness. Truth be told, I haven't finished the game yet, and according to word of mouth the ending takes a turn for the creepy (which I love, so bring it on!), but even right now I've already seen enough to justify playing this game.
The NPCs also stand out, from the aforementioned Blue-cult to the perpetually contract-burdened Runaway Five and even just some random people you find around town.
Special mention must also go to Pokey, who I think is actually a pretty effective villain for a game like this. Who better to be a major rival to a child than another child who finds all sorts of creative ways to hurt Ness and his friends?
Pictured: Pokey's biggest fan
So if there is one thing that a (direct) sequel to Earthbound must absolutely keep, it is the quirkiness that made it a cult classic in the first place. If anything, I think gamers could survive an Earthbound 2 that is even sillier than the original. Get some extra meta-jokes in there. Make the main characters funnier. Make me fight guys riding Penny-farthing bicycles who attack by falling on you. Actually, the developers are probably far better at this than I am, but you get the point. It is vital for Mother's survival that the weirdness stay in place, preferably at the center of the experience.
However, we shouldn't go so far as to sacrifice story-telling for being silly. The story that we already have is, at least so far, pretty basic, but it works. It functions as a sort of coat rack for the developers to hang all of their crazy ideas on to. This is something that in my opinion works particularly well and doesn't really need to change either. A little bit more depth might be nice, but nothing else is necessary. There's a nice balance here, and it would be a shame if that got disrupted.
All in all, this game is great at its core, and it would be fantastic of the developers could bring that to the surface even more.
And that sums up my feelings on my first playthrough of Earthbound. There is a great game in here, but unfortunately you have to dig through at times unfair difficulty and several other flaws to get to it. These are all things that I would've liked to see different in Earthbound. But for all the things that have to change, just as many have to stay the way they are, because this is still certainly an interesting and creative game.
Now, I must confess that I don't know if Mother 3 fixed any of these issues: maybe it has, maybe it hasn't. It hasn't been released outside Japan, so I can't really be sure.
Either way, it's safe to say that Earthbound is a game that I won't soon forget. Often for all the right reasons, but sometimes also for the wrong. If there was ever a Mother 2-2, besides breaking the space-time continuum, it could be one of the best RPGs ever made by virtue of its clever setting and story. However, it needs to take the above suggestions to heart to truly become all it can be.
Or alternatively we could just Earthbound-ify Chrono Trigger
Dear members of the Destructoid community.
As you may or may not recall, about one year ago you purchased your very own ShadeOfLight. The introductory blog dated from the 21st of January 2011, but the ShadeOfLight had already been active for several weeks before that. It had escaped our custody just a while before you actually bought it, and we apologize for any damage it may have caused during this time.
We of SoLcorp believe, based on our continued surveillance of the creature, that you have taken the suggestions we gave back then to heart. It seems that you have done very well in raising it and that it has found it's place here on the site. The ShadeOfLight itself also seems more than content to be here, and since we always have it's best interest in mind, we could not be happier to hear this.
We hope that the feeling is at least partially mutual.
We would like to remind you that the one year warranty is over, so SoLcorp can no longer be held accountable for anything the ShadeOfLight does anyway. It's your problem now, suckers!
But before we go and leave the creature to you permanently, it seems that the ShadeOfLight itself also has some things to say, and we will let it speak below.
So then, enough of that sillyness (that you will only understand if you've read my introduction all the way back in January, and probably not even then).
It seems that just about a year ago, I started visiting this wonderful little site of ours. It doesn't feel as long, that's for sure. I still remember how I came here in the first place. I used to go to IGN to get my gaming news, but they were slowly but surely getting worse. My favorite Nintendo editors left, only to be replaced by people who were just not quite as good. At one point though, IGN decided that I was no longer allowed to visit the US website. It immediately linked me to the UK version (based on my location in Europe, I'd wager), which....sucked. It just sucked. It hardly ever updated, the podcasts were scarce and simply not as good and all in all it just didn't give me the gaming news that I wanted. Surely I shifted sites. I wandered around for a bit, until I noticed at one point that I was increasingly often being linked to Destructoid. I had known for a while that this site existed, but never quite tried to get into it. That was bound to change. I favorited the 'Toid after some time, and quickly came to the conclusion that this site told me everything that I wanted to know. Moreover, it had pretty good original content, a blog section, and a very solid community too boot!
The rest is history. (which is an odd phrase, because everything else I just mentioned is history too....)
Looking back after one year, it is really astounding how much I benefited from becoming a regular toider, in both the material and immaterial sense.
Let's look at the material first. After I had been on the site for just about a month, the Steam Holiday Sale went up. "Wait, what does this have to do with Destructoid?", you ask? Hush, ye impatient one, and let me tell you!
I must admit, I never had any real interest in Steam, so I had previously skipped all news relating to it. I never wanted to take the time to get into it, because I just didn't think it was worth the effort. But here on Destructoid, I saw the error of my ways. When a news article went up showing all of the incredible Holiday deals, I couldn't resist. Super Meat Boy for three bucks, you say? Count me in!
I was an instant convert.
We are now a year later (I'm already psyched for next week), and I now have a Steam account filled with over 50 games (mostly indie ones), all of which I love. I also dragged a friend of mine with me, and we had a tons and tons of fun playing Magicka and Portal 2 together. Seriously though, Steam kicks ass, and I've got the 'Toid to thank for showing me that.
Related to that: Since coming to this site, I've been much better able to keep track of all sorts of interesting games that I wouldn't even have known existed otherwise. This netted me some really cool stuff over time. Again, especially indie games. Let's just take a couple of examples here.
Just last week we saw content related to Dustforce, which seems like a game that was made specifically with me in mind. Nice art, fast platforming gameplay, cute little concept? Done. The same goes for Owlboy; I'm still keeping track of that too.
Finally, this is a game that I also saw just a little while ago: Of Orcs and Men. I don't know who you are, person who came up with this game, or how you've managed to get into my mind, but I want you to know that I love you. Best concept for a game I've seen in a long time, and I probably would never have heard about it if it wasn't for Destructoid.
And how else but through Destructoid would I have known that there was an RPG out there starring Cthulhu? And that it was coming to Steam (see above) for practically free?
Speaking of free, I can't talk about everything I've gained from Destructoid without mentioning bbain's awesome batches of freeware indie games, can I? From Octodad, which was surprisingly fun(ny), to suteF, which is just all-round amazing, and everything in between, I've downloaded a lot of cool stuff over the past year thanks to that blog series, not to mention those of others.
"Game face" is appropriate in more ways than one
But all of that are just material gains. Ridiculously awesome material gains, but still. I feel that there are other benefits too, which certainly warrant a mention.
I feel like I've become part of a community that, for the most part, is just like I am. Nowhere else have I found a place where the people have such similar interests to mine. For example, when I mention the Baten Kaitos games in any other place, I get blank stares. If I do it here, I'll find at least a couple of people who know and love it too. The same goes for many other titles. I still remember the news story that finally confirmed that I was going to be able to play Xenoblade, just as I remember all the times before it where I couldn't stop mentioning it anywhere I went (and as you can see, I still do).
It's just very nice to be able to be a part of that. Now, I realize that I don't have the name recognition of people like Elsa or Occam's, but that was never the goal. I've earned at least some semblance of a sort of a place among this site and that's just great.
Finding an editor (even though he's not even aware that I exist, story of my life :P) who is both the most likable person ever and often seems to think pretty similar to me (I claim no connection between the two), was a strange thing, but also very welcome.
Holmes is kind of like Kirby; nobody in their right mind could possible hate either one.
I mean, just look at the little guys :D
The community blogs were also a great addition and I frankly didn't really expect that when I first joined the site. There's simply a lot of people here who have interesting stuff to say. And while I don't always agree with everyone, they certainly provide some food for thought. As a law student, my studies encourage me to always form opinions on issues, but only after assessing all of the facts and really thinking carefully about it.Giving your gut feelings is one thing, but really forming your opinion on a matter is quite something else.
That is something that I've often found myself doing while browsing through the blogs, partially to my own surprise. I would sometimes just sit down and say to myself: "Well, what do I think about this?" This could range from simple things like whether or not the FPS is too prevalent nowadays, to much more complex issues like female characterization in games.
I could sit for a long time, staring into nothingness, trying to from my opinion as best I could.
Spoilers: the results of this were mixed. :P
But there are two sides to the Cblogs, the reading part and the writing part. Now, I haven't written all that many blogs here, mostly due to time reasons, but it was nice to see that people seemed to like them when I did write one. They never went frontpage, but I would like to think that that is not the standard by which these things are judged.
What was nice is that several of my blog got topsauced (even the very first one, before I even knew what a 'topsauce' was), and while not the biggest achievement it was nice to see people appreciating what I wrote. It was particularly unexpected that a sappy story about an old strategy guide would resonate with multiple people. Finally, what was very nice was that one of my blogs caught the attention of a 'toider who had just started his own gaming website. He asked me to write original articles (/shameless plug) for his, admittedly new and relatively unknown, site and I've been enjoying that as well.
All in all though, it's amazing what can happen in one year if you find the right place to go, and it seems like Destructoid really is the right place for me. Between a new-found love for Steam, better game-coverage than I ever had and a pretty nice community to boot, 2011 has been pretty alright for me here.
That leaves only this left to say:
Good job and thank you, Destructoid, and I'll be happy to be here for another year (that is, if you'll have me :P).
For this week's musing, I would like to look beyond a single villain that I liked. Why? Simply because there are too many good ones to name. So instead, I will do things a little different, I'm looking at a certain kind of villain. The Traitor, the one that everybody loves to hate. This blog will obviously contain spoilers, but they are mostly from older games and I will try to warn in advance. Don't worry, I won't stab you in the back on this.
So, mr. Evil McKillington, you have decided to become a villain in a video game. Even though you will most definitely lose in the end, that is a good choice. The villains are usually some of the most memorable characters in the game, and you will surely be remembered fondly. Now then, what type of villain would you like to become? Big Bad? Right hand man of the big bad? Incompetent comic relief underling? Take your pick.
Ah, so you would like to become The Traitor, do you? Interesting.
The Traitor is the character who seems to be helping the heroes throughout most of the game, only to stab them in the back later on. The fact that you build up trust first will ensure that you will be remembered for times to come. Players will hate the Traitor from the depths of their hearts, and they will love doing so. And that is exactly what's so great about this type of villain. Well, mr. McKillington, you have made a wise decision. Become a good Traitor, and your status as a classic villain will be guaranteed.
However, you have to keep in mind that being an effective Traitor is not easy. Slip up once, and the impact may be quickly destroyed. If you don't do it right, you might not be taken seriously, and we wouldn't want that. Fear not though, because as a player of many a story-based game, I can tell you exactly what to do, so that you may be the best Traitor gamers have ever seen.
Here are some guidelines to help you on your way.
1) Shock and awe (and foreshadow) This is the most basic rule of becoming a memorable Traitor. When it finally turns out that you were evil all along, you want the players to be stunned by the revelation. I know this sounds straightforward, but you would be surprised by how many characters forget this rule. Some characters make it so obviously clear that they are actually evil, that no one will be shocked by it anymore. For example, many characters still believe that they can be a Chancellor or an advisor to the king, and expect it to be a shock when they turn out to be evil. However, gamers have long since realized that there is no such thing as a "good" advisor. It just doesn't work.
But then, look at Chancellor Cole, from The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks:
Yeah, he's not fooling anyone
Clearly, that is a guy who could use a healthy dose of subtlety.
However, there is one thing you should remember. Before you bust out your "I'm a friend to all living creatures" T-shirt, you should know that you can in fact be too subtle. How is that?
Quite simple really: if you become too nice and too helpful throughout the entire game, people simple will not believe you anymore when you turn out to be evil. They will feel that this plottwist is conveluted and makes no sense, and that your betrayal simply isn't credible. This will be a major strike against any Traitor, so make sure that you don't fall into this trap. An example of a game that clearly did fall into this trap is Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. In this game there was a character who was quite literally the nicest guy in the game. He was a monk, and therefore inherently peaceful, and he went out of his way to help you in any way he could. In short, there was no way on earth that he could be evil. So when it turned out that he was, it just fell flat. His betrayal wasn't credible at all. He was just.too.nice.
To avoid this, you should use foreshadowing. In the correct dosage, foreshadowing can greatly help your cause, and it is advised that you invest in this vital aspect of your character.
Mysteriously mutter to yourself and respond "Oh, it's nothing" when your fellow travelers ask you what's up. Disappear without a trace every once in a while (but make sure to come back with useful information for the heroes, to keep their trust up). Have certain clear character flaws. There are many things that you can use, as long as you're creative enough.
Just make sure that your betrayal is believable in any way you can.
Basically, what you want is that it "all falls into place" for the players at the end. Everything just has to make sense all of a sudden. When they replay your game, make sure that they can catch the subtle hints that they missed the first time. That is the mark of a great Traitor.
In short, what you should remember is this: Make sure that your betrayal is credible, but have the shock be incredible.
This is a difficult balance, but if you manage to do it right, you're well on your way to greatness.
2) "Just brainwashed" is a no-go This will be a brief one, and it ties in to #1. If you're going to be evil, just be evil. The "just brainwashed" clichť is already well known, and it just takes away the impact from your acts. Don't worry, you can still become good again after a while, if you want. Just become good again because you have seen the error of your ways Make it matter! The brainwashing is just an excuse to make you do evil things without the consequences. You don't want that, you want everything you do to have meaning. Only then will you become a memorable Traitor.
I'm looking at you, Kain.
Remember kids: Winners don't use brainwashing!
3) Make it personal A more or less random person can make a good traitor. But what really makes a betrayal work, is if the Traitor in question is able to make it personal. Are you the best friend of the main character? Have you raised one of the heroes from birth? Or did you simply save the life of the hero's love interest? If so, you are in a fantastic position. Not only will you be one of the last people that gamers will suspect of being evil (see #1), changing sides ensures that you'll really hurt the heroes on an emotional level. They thought that they could trust you, that you would never do something like that, but they were horribly mistaken. Taunt the heroes a bit for good measure, really rub your evilness in their faces.
Evil as you are, you will love the look on their faces once they realize you're not kidding, trust me.
Clearly the work of a true master
But obviously, you're doing all of this to leave a lasting impression on the gamers. Still, this remains a vital piece of advice. The reason is clear.
If the game you're in is any good, then the players should be completely immersed in the story. They will be relating to the heroes very strongly. This can be exploited.
If you hurt the heroes, chances are that the gamers will feel it too. You will instantly become "the guy to kill" to anyone who cares about the game's story, and this is exactly what you want.
If the gamers want you dead beyond all else, you have made it as the Traitor. You have cemented your position in the game, and these people will remember you for years to come. They will hate you, yes, but they will love doing so. That, right there, is exactly what you should be going for. And if you really do it right, even the main antagonist will have to bow before your treacherous ways.
Look at Tales of Symphonia. Who was the best villain in that game? It certainly wasn't the Big Bad, and you know it!
4) Go from great asset to even greater threat In a way, rule #4 ties into to the previous one. When you become the Traitor, everything is about hurting the player as much as you can. This is the best way to be a memorable villain. Look at Sephiroth, one of the most famous villains ever. How did he become so big? Why, he killed Aeris, off course, and gamers hated him for it. He hurt them on a whole new level.
You, as the Traitor of the game, have this opportunity as well, and there is only one thing that you have to do.
Be an asset to the team while you're still 'good'.
If you are one of the best fighters in the hero party, it will physically hurt to see you go. Not only are the heroes now robbed of one of their most valued people, they have gained a powerful enemy as well. You will deal two strikes at once. If the player thinks "My god, I wish this guy was back on my team" when he's finally fighting you, you have done incredibly well. In contrast, if you were not of any use while you were still good, then the player most likely will not care when you leave. He or she knows that there are much better fighters still on the side of good, and (s)he know that you are going to be incredibly easy to kill. Memorable, this is not.
You can still save it, a little bit, by giving some vital piece of information to the Big Bad, but that will only get you so far. Let's look at someone, a guy from Final Fantasy VII, who made this mistake.
Look at the little guy. Could you ever see him as a credible threat? He's a little cat doll riding a somewhat larger Moogle doll, for crying out loud!
Hardly anyone ever used Cait Sith in their main party, because he was simply outclassed. Even if you desperately wanted a cat in your party, you could always go for Red XIII, who was a lion with a flaming tail, and therefore awesome. So, this guy usually stood on the sidelines during most of the game. It turns out, as should be obvious by now, that he betrays you. But did anyone really care? Not really, because what was Cait Sith going to do? Throw furballs at us? Seymour also failed hilariously in Final Fantasy X, where he would keep coming back over and over again, only to be beaten instantly. Besides that, he barely had more subtlety than Chancellor Cole.
No, you don't want this to happen to you. When you leave, you want both the heroes and player to physically feel it. So buff up, learn magic and just allround kick butt wherever you can. And when the player finally feels like he has a great party with you in it, leave. Just like that, leave the party and watch the player try to fill up that tremendous void that you left. After that, watch them try to fight you and fail hilariously.
They will hate you for this, and again, that is exactly what you want.
And last but not least: 5) Die well What you do need to understand, however, is that you will not survive. You can't. You want to become the villain in a video game, and that means that inevitably you will die. It might be in this game, or you may get lucky and come back in the sequel. At any rate, at one point you are going to die for real. Yet, this is not a moment for sadness. It is actually quite the opposite, your death is your chance to really hit it home. If you pull off a good death scene, nothing will get the gamer's minds off you for a very long time. If you want gamers to remember your name in 10 years, your death may be vital.
There are a couple of ways to go about this, but first and foremost:
Try to get killed by the one you hurt the most. Were you the main character's best friend? Make sure that it is him who kills you. Did you kill the boyfriend of a sidecharacter? Have her do it. You can come up with many other scenarios yourself. A karmic death can really work wonders.
She may be just a computer, but she betrayed me and she.is.going.DOWN!
You want this because it provides a great deal of closure for everyone involved. Again, if the player is engaged in the story, nothing will feel better than to end you once and for all with the character that has the most reason to do so. All that hatred that you build up towards you over the course of the game, will instantly turn into a sense of victory and satisfaction. Of course, you shouldn't die just like that, you have to die after you provide an epic bossfight. Get yourself a cool location and an incredible boss-theme, and you're ready to go. No one will remember you if you unceremoniously die for no reason, because that is nowhere near as satisfying. So do it right and craft your death carefully.
What you could also do is to turn good again at the very last minute. Although this may be a bit harder to pull off, the rewards for success are more than worth it.
Just before you die, monologue about how blind you have been, about how the heroes were always in the right. Then, at the very last moment, save the heroes by sacrificing yourself. Stay behind to disarm a bomb, tackle the Big Bad into the lava, just be creative about this in any way you can.
The added benefit to this approach is that you will keep the players guessing.
"Was he really that evil?" will be the title of many a topic on the fanforums. Players will be discussing your character long after you have passed, and this is a great way to go. If you really pull this approach off well, people may even start to sympathize with you. They will wonder whether you may have had a good reason to betray them, if you maybe had a point somewhere. You will have both the villain creds, and the hero's. That really is the best that you could ask for. Just be sure that you explain yourself well, and don't turn good again for no reason (remember #2). Your transition has to make sense, just like it did when you turned evil in the first place.
Done well, any death scene can keep you memorable for a long time. So by all means, go all out. You have nothing left to lose, so have your death be the greatest that it can possibly be!
And that's it. These are the most important guidelines that I can give you if you want to become an effective and memorable Traitor. Who wants to be the main antagonist anyway, when your deception can net you just as many fans? Do it well, and you will be the talk of the internet.
You have made an excellent choice, and I wish you all the best. I hope I will be able to love to hate you in whatever game you decide to appear.
You are now ready to join the real world of Traitors. Go out there, and make us proud.
There are lots of games out there that make you feel like the star of an action movie. In fact, let's not beat around the bush, most games nowadays attempt to make you feel like that. From Uncharted to Modern Warfare to Gears of War, the list is practically endless. All of these games have one thing in common: you are cast as the hero of this actionmovie-like plot.
But what about the action movie underdogs, the guys on the sidelines who make all the heroics possible? Don't they deserve some love too?
Who, you may ask? I am referring, off course, to the hackers. The lovable geeky guys sitting at their computers, disabling security systems, stealing money and just all-round being wizards of technology. What would an action star be without his trusty 'wizzkid' sidekick? Still awesome, yes, but probably much less effective.
I hope that you're asking yourself right now why there isn't a game that puts you in role of one of these amazing people. Because I can answer that right away: there is.
It is called Hacker Evolution, but it seems to be a very niche little game; I've never seen it mentioned on Destructoid, and that's saying something. It's quite good though, if you open up to it.
Like I said, Hacker Evolution (and it's sequels, subtitled Untold and Duality) is a game in which you play an action movie hacker, and I do emphasize the 'action movie' part. This game probably doesn't have anything to do with real life hacking, but more with the hollywood type. Think Swordfish, not Geohotz.
You could also think Ed, but then you'd be way off.
This is also an independent game, made by just a couple of people, so it can come across as a bit of a basic experience. But what it does, it does really well.
At its core, Hacker is a puzzle game, with a hint of strategy. When you start a level you're given several missions that you have to complete in order to progress. These missions range from "retrieve the stolen file", to "find the person who hacked into our system", and you'll even see things like "hack into the core server and disable the security". Before you can do all of this, however, you have to find the right servers. It would be kind of hard to retrieve a file if you don't know which server hosts it. To find out where the servers are that you need, you have to hack into the ones you can already see. Once you've done that, you can look through all the files hosted their to find clues towards your next location.
Let me give a short example. Let's say that someone stole the file 'jimsterling.ai' (because we all know that there is no way that that guy is a real person) from the dtoid.com server. You don't know who has it yet.
So first, you'll have to hack into dtoid.com, either through a password, an exploit program, or by good old-fashioned crack. Once in, you find a activity.log file, which shows who was given access on the day of theft. Sure enough, you find that an incoming connection request was granted just before the file was stolen, and you can see that it came from the dastardly people at the server kotaku.com. Now that you know who stole the file, there is only one thing left to do: you scan for the server in question and you hack the crap out of it!
I find that the basic gameplay in Hacker was original and well done. It's supposedly a bit slower-paced than the more well-known Uplink, but I think the 'detective' elements in this game really have their charm. Progression isn't always as logical as the above example (you'll find some files on servers that have no reason to have them at all), but all in all it was well done. There is a bit of a story, but that really doesn't play a large role and the ending comes absolutely out of nowhere and makes no sense at all. But things like that are quickly forgiven.
It's much more fun than it looks, trust me.
Because what Hacker really does incredibly well, is presentation and immersion. Everything is this game was tailor-made to give you that authentic hollywood hacker feeling. This is something that is really difficult to explain in text, you should really feel this for yourself. The game can be completely controlled by typing everything you need in the command console. "crack", "exec", "scan": these are all commands that you will use a bunch throughout the game. I find that this really helps to get you immersed in what you are doing. Never in any game have you been this close to the game. You're not controlling anyone, you're not clicking on stuff to cause it to move; you're hacking. You, personally, are doing everything throughout the entire game. I've never experienced anything quite like it, and Hacker deserves huge credit for this. You could even be forgiven for forgetting, if just for a moment, that you're playing a game in the first place.
If you can type quickly, it gets even better, because you will instantly feel like the guys you see in the movies.
Take it from me, sitting at your pc and typing "exec shade.exploit dtoid.com 199" feels surprisingly good and completely "legit". Again, if you want to feel what it's like to be the hacker sidekick in any action movie, give this game a spin.
Besides the basic controls, there are many other things that contribute to the great presentation.
- First of all, every time you try to hack something, people will try to trace you. You're given both a timer that shows you how long until your hack is finished, as well as a visual representation of the tracing. It can be very nervewracking as you're watching both of these counters race for the 0.00. Often, your hacks will be complete literally just a fraction of a second before you can be traced, and I've let out more than a few audible sighs because of that fact. It really makes a game which is usually quite slow paced incredibly intense for a little while.
- Secondly, you also have to manage your pc setup in the game. Transferring money from the servers you hack into can buy you some nice equipment. Pimping your setup with extra CPU or a better firewall can make things a lot easier, although money is scarce, so you'll have to make educated choices.
- Finally, the music is exactly like something you'd imagine a hacker to have on while conducting his business. The upbeat electronic music, performed by a guy named DJ Velocity, really sucks you in from the get go, and the fact that there is an in-game mediaplayer which cycles the OST songs just gives it that extra bit authenticity. Again, this is your pc, and you're doing everything in this game personally.
Long story short, Hacker is not at all like this crap.
Unfortunately, it's easy to see why Hacker never really took off. It's just an incredibly hard sell. This is not an actionpacked game and if you just look at screens and videos, it will look like the most boring stuff ever. It's only when you start playing for yourself that you start to see its charm. And charm it has.
I personally got immediately sucked in when I played the demo (oh, yes, there is a demo by the way). The incredibly direct interface, the hollywood hacker feel, playing detective by searching for clues in uncovered files, everything together made it a really memorable experience for me. Obviously, I bought it not long after (in fact, I bought the Hacker Evolution + Hacker Evolution Untold pack for double the hacking goodness). Both games feature extra content in the form of free DLC, and they include mod editors, so you can download levels made by other fans or make your own if you're so inclined.
However, the puzzle elements and the slow pace, i.e. thinking every step through, might turn some people off, while others might be put off by the concept from the very start. If you never wanted a hacking simulator, then this game is obviously not for you. You won't be shooting stuff, let that be clear. But if we take all of the above people out of the equation, how many are left? Not a lot, I fear.
It's clear that this game fills a niche, one that is admittedly not very large. But if you, like me, do belong in that niche, then you would be doing yourself a disservice by not checking this unique but under-appreciated game out.
In this level you hack street lights to turn red while you're speeding away. Other games feature the car chase, this one offers the other perspective.