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12:16 AM on 01.09.2012

Ozzblog Backlog: January 1-7

With New Years just passing, one of my resolutions was to put the biggest dent into my backlog. I'm hoping to beat last years record of 66 completed games, except this time in just unbeaten games rather than ones I've perfected over the years. Figured I might as well keep track of a weekly progress, so here we go!

3 weeks in the first week is a pretty solid start, if I can keep this up all year I may finish my backlog.

Game: A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda
Platform: Steam
Date: January 4th

Take Megaman, only have 5 stages, and instead of pixel greatness, toss in really crisp flash animations, and you have A.R.E.S.
Basic side scrolling shooter with unlockable weapons earned after boss fights. Some of the hidden items like increased Max HP take some really tricky acrobatics to get to, but most of the game is pretty simple. I highly, highly recommend grabbing a controller for this though. With mouse/keyboard it works, but just feels awkward. When I bought my wired 360 controller and tried this game again, it just felt good, it felt proper. Can't say much for the story or audio because it's totally forgetable. Something about robots wanting to destroy humans and start a new circle of life on Earth, I dunno.

Game: Alien Breed 2: Assault
Platform: Steam
Date: January 5th

A twin-stick shooter heavily influenced by the Alien franchise, and from the minds of Worms. Seems promising, right?

Well, it is. The game may be short with only 5 stages (Few more if you hop into co-op), but each stage takes about an hour as long as you're not rushing things. There are only 5 weapons in the game, rifle, shotgun, flamethrower, chaingun, and rocket launcher, and while you can upgrade them, upgrades generally don't help all that much, sadly. This doesn't stop the game from being really fun though, as long as you enjoy pounding aliens in the face with lead and flame.

Game: Cthulu Saves The World
Platform: Steam
Date: January 5th

While you can't improve upon perfection, you sure can approach it from a different angle with the same mechanics.

I'm not even sure where to start with this game, everything is just so damn good. A retro 8-bit style RPG akin to Dragon Quest (Or back then, known as Dragon Warrior), 16-bit soundtrack, well-written humour throughout the whole game, everything just comes together and fits perfectly and feels so god damn good playing it. The only complaint I could see anybody having is that it's not a long RPG. Only takes about 4-5 hours to run through on Normal, but with unlockable modes and harder difficulties, you'll definitely be sinking in a lot more than 5 hours into this game.   read

8:28 AM on 10.03.2011

Steamtoid Challenge: Week 5

For those new to the Steamtoid Challenge, check out what it's all about right here. With that out of the way, let's get started.

First! There are rules to be followed!
1) Must have a Steam account!
2) Must join the Destructoid group on Steam
3) Must join Dtoid's chatroom (AKA Steamtoid)

Now onto the challenge.
Best Video Game Porn Parody
Deadline: Monday, October 10th, 2011

Doesn't matter what video game it's about. Could be funny, awkward, epic, or just fucked up, it's all good!
Can be a simple rename of a franchise, or a picture either drawn, photoshopped, made with Lego, whatever!
Submissions can be sent by PM, commenting here, or by finding me through other means.
Prizes are given out on Mondays, because Mondays need less suck!

My body is ready   read

2:34 PM on 09.26.2011

Steamtoid Challenge: Week 4

For those new to the Steamtoid Challenge, check out what it's all about right here. With that out of the way, let's get started.

First! There are rules to be followed!
1) Must have a Steam account!
2) Must join the Destructoid group on Steam
3) Must join Dtoid's chatroom (AKA Steamtoid)

Now onto the challenge.
Best Gaming Haiku
Deadline: Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Doesn't matter what video game it's about, doesn't matter the context. Could be funny, awkward, epic, or just fucked up, it's all good! Stick to the 5-7-5 format of Haiku. Know the risks of coming up with a clever haiku that is only funny to those who've played a certain game (Not everyone will get a Persona haiku, for example).
Submissions can be sent by PM, commenting here, or by finding me through other means.
Prizes are given out on Mondays, because Mondays need less suck!
Bouncing in the sky
Sending the enemies down
The Balloon Fighter

This week's winner is: Telephis
The sword is pulled free
The green hero masters time
He feels - HEY LISTEN   read

12:06 AM on 09.20.2011

Steamtoid Challenge: Week 3

For those new to the Steamtoid Challenge, check out what it's all about right here. With that out of the way, let's get started.

First! There are rules to be followed!
1) Must have a Steam account!
2) Must join the Destructoid group on Steam
3) Must join Dtoid's chatroom (AKA Steamtoid)
(Seriously guys, it's a good community with some rough edges, but this is helping promoting the PC community, so take part! )

Now onto the challenge.
Best Caption
Deadline: Monday, September 26th, 2011

All you have to do is come up with the best caption for the above image. Whether it's hilarious, crude, or just disgusting morbid and wrong (Or all of the above!), anything's game!
Submissions can be sent by PM, commenting here, or by finding me through other means.
Prizes are given out on Mondays, because Mondays need less suck!

This week's winner is: Aurain
"Tarvu's masturbation fetishes are getting out of hand."
Indeed they are, indeed they are.   read

12:17 PM on 09.12.2011

Steamtoid Challenge: Week 2

For those new to the Steamtoid Challenge, check out what it's all about right here. With that out of the way, let's get started.

First! There are rules to be followed!
1) Must have a Steam account!
2) Must join the Destructoid group on Steam
3) Must join Dtoid's chatroom (AKA Steamtoid)

Now onto the challenge.
Best Steam Screenshot
Deadline: Monday, September 19th, 2011

Doesn't matter what game your playing, doesn't matter the context. Could be funny, awkward, epic, or just fucked up, it's all good! I chose Steam screenshot over any screenshot because it stops peeps from stealing other players screenshots and claiming as their own. This way I can see your screenshot in your Steam profile.
Submissions can be sent by PM, commenting here, or by finding me through other means.
Prizes are given out on Mondays, because Mondays need less suck!

20 foot mutated spiders? Bitch, I got a knife!

This week's winner is: FranksPickle!

Now that's the face of a winner coming off of a DOMination! Seriously, look at that face.

Bitches say they dominatin' me. Say whaaaaaaa? Nuh-uh girlfriend.   read

1:50 PM on 09.08.2011

Steamtoid Challenge: Week 1

I've decided to host a weekly challenge to fellow Steamtoid users (Even new ones!) and give out a prize to whoever does it better than everyone else (including Batman). The prize will be $5 worth of anything from Steam, and maybe extra goodies depending on what I have. If there's nothing the winner wants for $5, they can "Bank" it for later use, or if they win again and claim $10 worth of goodies, and so forth.

However! There are rules to be followed!
1) Must have a Steam account!
2) Must join the Destructoid group on Steam
3) Must join Dtoid's chatroom (AKA Steamtoid)

Simple, really. Now unto the first week's challenge.
What would Destructoid's Uncle look like?
Deadline: Monday, September 12th, 2011!

Picture can be anything. Drawn, photoshopped, or just Googled, it's all good!
Submissions can be sent by PM, commenting here, or by finding me through other means.
Prizes are given out on Mondays, because Mondays need less suck!

Do I have to talk dirty to you? Come on! Open up for daddy! I'm gonna shove a load into you! Here we go! Come on, it's nice and easy. Aaah! Come on, here we go! Ah! Take that! Take that! Come on! You don't want the crowbar, do you? Come on! OPEN UP! UUGGHH! I'm gonna shove my load into you whether you like it or not!

This week's winner is: Max!

Clearly this man knows Mr. Destructoid's history very very well. From the greasy gut, to the noose, and even his favourite game!

Second place: Mollygos!

This entry was just too good not to share. Another great image of what it's like to be in the family tree. While there may be no prize for the runner-up, there will always be cocks!   read

11:18 AM on 09.01.2011

id Software In 30 Days

So to prep myself for Rage on October 4th, I've decided to do a playthrough of every single id Software game, developed or published. It's about 32 games in 30 days, and with each game estimated at 8 hours, will take 256 hours to complete. Why am I doing this? Because id Software made me the gamer I am today. Plus bragging rights so I can get all the bitches. I'll be updating this blog entry with every game I beat, and how my brain is holding up as this will be a tedious task for sure. So while there's not a whole lot of text going on now, it should grow day by day into something worthwhile (hopefully).

So the order of the games I plan on doing is every id Software developed game in chronological order (Excluding their Softdisk games, since there's no soul in those games). Then every id Software published game, but we'll get to that later. So my playlist looks like this - Commander Keen 1-6 + Keen Dreams, Wolfenstein 3D + Spear of Destiny, Ultimate DOOM, DOOM II + Master Levels for DOOM II + Final DOOM, Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena + Quake III Team arena, DOOM 3, Quake Live, Rage HD. Now with the exception of Quake III and Quake Live (Since they're just fragfests), that's 17 playthroughs alone, wow!

Now I was planning to start this at midnight last night to maximize my time efficiency, I was busy winning at Munchkin with my buddies, so after a full half day of sleep, I'm ready to crack into this. First game up on the list is...
Commander Keen Episode 1: Marooned on Mars
Start time: 1PM
End time: 1:20 PM
These used to take me a few hours to beat, and I just rampaged through this in 20 minutes. Can't help but feel a little dissatisfied. Oh well, 6 more Keens to go!

Commander Keen Episode 2: The Earth Explodes
Start time: 1:25 PM
End time: 2:09 PM
This game kicked my ass at two parts, reducing me down to my last 2 Keens before completion. Difficulty curve definitely went up by a good margin. If the rest of the series continues like this, I might not finish 5 or 6. We'll see.

Commander Keen Episode 3: Keen Must Die
Start time: 2:15 PM
End time: 3:03 PM
The crunching, I can't take it anymore. I'm referring to the sound Keen makes when he walks. Since the game is 21 years old, the audio certainly shows it's age as his footsteps sound like crunchcrunch, crunchcrunch, crunchcrunch, crunchcrunch. I muted the game for 5 minutes just to give my ears a break. Also, jumping on clouds and riding dinosaurs FTW. Oh, and getting a "Big V" is cool to, if you know what I mean.

Commander Keen Episode 4: Secret of the Oracle
Start time: 3:10 PM
End time: 4:18 PM
What's that? Trouble's brewing and old guys are missing? Fuck off, I'm playing Paddlewar! This was the game I remember from Commander Keen, with Paddlewar!, the ability to grab ledges, 16 bit design, and most importantly, the audio of his footsteps was taken out. No more crunchcrunch!

Commander Keen Episode 5: The Armageddon Machine
Start time: 4:25 PM
End time: 4:57 PM
Unfortunately Steam only has episodes 1-5, so I'm getting the last episode (and Keen Dreams) through other means. But for now I'm taking a break from the old school and playing some TF2 for a bit before returning to finishing Keen by tonight. That's right, I'm taking a break from gaming, by playing more games. Makes sense, don't it?

Commander Keen Episode 6: Aliens Ate My Babysitter
Start time: 5:55 PM
End time: 7:12 PM
Definitely the longest one yet, but after spending 6 hours playing the games, I just breezed through most of the levels. Starting to feel a bit burned out, at least for Keen, but there's one last one to beat, so might as well get it out of the way.

Commander Keen in Keen Dreams
Start: 7:15 PM
End: 7: 27
Walking bucktoothed hash browns? Check. With shotguns? Check. Who turns into flowers when I shoot them? What. The. Fuck. I didn't think I'd clear a game quicker than 20 minutes, to be honest. But Commander Keen is out of the way. I always loved the fourth game, and until today, it was the only Keen game I had beaten. Now I can officially say I've bested them all in one sitting, hurrah!. Goodbye Commander Keen, until we meet again!

Wolfenstein 3D
Start time: 8:00 PM
End time: 9:18 PM
I used to speedrun this when I was in high school, but my memory failed me on a handful of times. I was expecting to have this done in under an hour, oh well. Another game checked off, off to the next!

Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny
Start time: 9:30 PM
End time: 10:26 PM
Thought it would take me longer than Wolf3D since I've only played this once before, but I'm happy with the result. I'm going to see if I can squeeze DOOM in before midnight. I don't expect this to take long as I know that game like the back of my hand.

The Ultimate DOOM
Start time: 10:35 PM
End time: 11:15 PM
Average of 10 minutes per episode as I thought, but now I think it's time for a break before I tackle DOOM II, Masters Levels and Final DOOM, that'll be a rough!

Well that was an eventful first day. 10 games in 11 hours, pretty happy about that. New record? Fuck yeah it is. Over halfway done the id Software developed games, let's see if I can finish that today. Got plenty of sleep, some Lucky Charms in the stomach, and a whole 10 hours ahead of me until the day is done.

DOOM II: Hell on Earth
Start time: 1:35 PM
End time: 2:31 PM
Little big longer than my DOOM speed run, but that's because I haven't played DOOM II nearly as much. Onto it's expansion!

Master Levels for DOOM II
Start time: 2:35 PM
End time: 3:13 PM
While I've only played the Master Levels once or twice before, I seemed to instinctively know my way straight to the exits. Next is the not appropriately titled Final DOOM, which is the hardest offering in the series, with a double does of content. This will take me the longest so far, I reckon. But before I start it, I need to head out to the bank and pay rent. Was supposed to do that yesterday, but my schedule's been busy, if you can't tell.

Final DOOM
Start time: 6:30 PM
End time: 9:04 PM
Got caught up with dinner, Timmies, and TV. So starting 2 hours or so later than I expected. After a solid 2 and a half hours, it's time to say farewell to 2D sprites, and say "Hello beautiful" to 3D polygon models.

Day Three
Ended my gaming night pretty early last night. Decided to do other things with friends who I may have been neglecting during the night time, haha. I'm ready to take the next step in gaming, let's do this!

Start time: 1:00 PM
End time: 4:17 PM
Well it seems like I won't be speedrunning through Quake, considering I've only beaten Quake 2, and that was once many years ago. I hope I can at least finish Quake 2 within 3 hours.

Quake II
Start time: 4:25 PM
End time: 7:40 PM
Well shit, took longer than 3 hours, just by 15 minutes.

Quake III + Quake III Team Arena
Start time: 7:45
End time: 8: 50
Considering there's no story to these games, I just spend 30 minutes in it enjoying the fragfest action. I miss the old days of Seganet.

Start time: 9:00 PM
End time: 2:04 AM
I'm now feeling like these games are dragging on, considering how fast I've been beating these games, and as they get longer, they take more out of me. Tomorrow shall be the end of every id Software developed titles.

Day Four
Just one game stands in my way of beating every id Software game, and that game is Rage HD. So I'm gunna quit dickin' around and just get it done. (Convenient Rage HD just went free for a week last month too, hurrah!)

Rage HD
Start time: 12:45 PM
End time: 1:20 PM
Died on Asylum because I'm half awake, so took abit longer than I wanted, but it's done! The halfway mark is reached on just the fourth day!

Now to start on every id Software published game, mostly with Raven developing. First game up is Heretic.

Start time: 1:25PM
End time: 3:18
I always loved the level design Raven's done with the Heretic/Hexen titles. Plus the whole medieval aesthetics totally call out to me since I love fantasy. Will be taking a break to play some more TF2 with a buddy before I start Hexen.

Start time: 5:00 PM
End time: 9:12 PM
My brain needs a break right now, considering Hexen is one big puzzle. So once again, hopping on TF2 with a buddy.

Hexen: Death Kings of the Dark Citadel
Start time: 10:00 PM
End time: 10:56PM
To be honest, if I didn't notice this in my Steam list, I would have never known about Hexen's expansion. Only about 20 levels or so, and definitely a simplified level design compared to the rest of the series.

Hexen II
Start time: 11:00 PM
End time: 4:32 AM
So much god damn backtracking in this game, but I cannot help but love it. Definitely up later than I expected, so I'm gunna grab some food, and hopefully pass out.

Day 5
Was woken up by my neighbour being a huge deaf fagbait, so not in the greatest mood. But not going to let that stop me from completing this challenge. So straight back into it I go.

Quake: Scourge of Armagon
Start time: 11:45 AM
End time: 2: 17 PM
I seriously didn't think this would take as long as it did. Oh well. Heading over to a buddies for some co-op gaming, pizza, and whole bunch of good stuff.

Day 6
Well shit, I had unexpected plans happen twice, which kept me busy until 3 AM. So there goes THAT day. Let's try this again. 6 hours or so of just beating through this.

Quake: Dissolution of Eternity
Start time: 6:00 PM
End time: 9:00 PM
The only game I'll beat today, sad.

Day 7
It's a Wednesday, nobody does anything on a Wednesday, right? Right! No friends to keep me distracted today so I can actually put another dent into this challenge. I hope. I took an unexpected nap, and am now ready to get an early jump today.

Quake II: The Reckoning
Start time: 1:20 AM
End time: 3:35 AM
There, Quake is done, at least old-school Quake.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Start time: 3:40 AM
End time: 8:36 AM
This is actually my favourite Wolfenstein title, and I can't explain why. Very much enjoyed this playthrough.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Start time: 8:40 AM
End time: 9:10 AM
I only consider this an additional game because it was shipped as one. It was supposed to be apart of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but was delayed and released at a later point. Since there's nothing to play through, I just put 30 minutes into it like I did with Quake III.

DOOM 3: Ressurection of Evil
Start time: 9:15 AM
End time: 1:12 PM
Only 4 games in 12 hours, seems like a slow day, eh? Gonna head of my PC for abit, give my brain a break before coming back.

Quake 4
Start time: 7:00 PM-7:53 PM| 9:03 PM
End time: 12:53 AM
I passed out for abit, and have more food in my tank, so ready to rip into this. I'm taking a break from Quake IV because if you're worth anything in salt, you'd know Dtoid now has a TF2 server, so I've gotta join my fellow Steamtoiders while they're on. After an hour of distractions, I get my ass back into gear and finish Quake IV finally.

Day 8
After Quake, I just passed out. My sleep schedule is all kinds of fucked up since I woke up and it's a little past 2 in the morning. But sleeping aside, I SHOULD finish today. Let's see how it rolls out.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Start time: 2:25 AM
End time: 6:39 AM
It's almost over. Just one more game on the agenda, Wolfenstein (2008). Before I start that however, the PC my roommate uses has died and he wants some TF2 action, so I'm gunna let him hop on mine for abit.

Start time: 10:05 AM
End time: 1:14 PM
I didn't expect to beat this game so fast, but I shouldn't be surprised as I recently 100%'d on 360 earlier this year.

It's done. It's over. 32 games in just 8 eights. (Really 6 though, got sidetracked by that damned social life). I don't think I'll ever do something as excessive as this again. But at least now I can concentrate on others games, after a nice long break of course. TF2 and Brolands aside, don't think I'll touch another FPS until Rage. I'd like to thank the handful of you (literally, five peeps) for supporting this ridiculous challenge of mine.   read

4:54 AM on 07.19.2011

Downloadables: Epic Breath of Despair

One entry from last week tickled my fancy in a way I did not expect. It talks about digital distribution being the death of retro gaming. While it's an excellent read, I outright disagree with the saying "the death of retro gaming", but in a different sense. I'm going to talk about three fantastic games that I love, that are built around the idea of retro gaming.

With the rise of digital distribution comes the rise of smaller games for a cheaper price. Most are terrible half-assed games or attempts to cash-in on popular fads. We in the industry call this "shovelware" and there isn't a big enough shovel to heave this shit from sight. I can hear your epic breath of despair when you look upon the cluttered space known as digital distribution. Not knowing what's good, what's bad, and what could scar you, but fear not! I am hear to guide you to three games that show off the very essence of what makes this medium good and pure. So sit down and grab a sammich, this should be a smooth ride.

Epic Dungeon (Xbox Live Indie Game)
Developer: Eyehook Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: November 30, 2010
Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
This game is so good I even wrote a review about it. For those who aren't into reading blogs within a blog, I guess I'll provide a summary. This game is a complete throwback to 80s retro gaming, with it's main influence being the original Gauntlet. You choose one of four characters and must dungeon crawl through 50 floors to beat the game. It has added layers thanks to upgradeable equipment and level progression you'd find in a typical RPG where you get to increase your stats and spells. Just like in the retro days of gaming, once you die in this game, that's it. Your character becomes a tombstone and leaves behind a random piece of equipment for your next adventurer to stumble upon. Adding to the old school flare is an awesome 8-bit visual and audio style making you feel like you're back in the good 'ol days.

Breath of Death VII (Xbox Live Indie Game)
Developer: Zeboyd Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: April 22, 2010
Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
This game is almost beyond words to describe it. It's an RPG akin to the old Dragon Quest (Or Dragon Warrior as it was known back then) games, sharing the same combat system, and general mechanics of the game. However, the brilliantly witty writing, and homage to decades of games sets Breath of Death VII into a class of it's own. In the name alone it pays tribute to Breath of Fire and Final Fantasy. Other references include Mega Man, Pokemon, Earthbound, Lufia, The Legend of Zelda, Fallout, Castlevania, Super Mario, Diablo, among others. Some are dropped ever so slyly that you'll find a smirk crawl right up your face, while other pop up in spontaneously and you cannot help but chuckle, or even burst out laughing. This game doesn't just feel like a really tight old school RPG, it also feels like a fan service by making us remember the games we grew up playing.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox Live Arcade)
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: August 4, 2010
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15)
Speaking of fan service, that's the entire point to this game. It struck a particular chord between Castlevania fans. Some loving it because it's mixed an arcade feeling into the "Metroidvania" style of the newer games. Others hate it because there's no story, the game is built for co-op, or they prefer the old school platforming type of games in the series. I'm obviously on the side that loves this game and for good reasons. Not only does the game feature a large cast of favourites, but through downloadable content, the nostalgia really kicks in. One of the stages recreates the entire NES classic into one giant level, in beautiful 8-bit glory with the soundtrack to match. Also released was an 8-bit character Simon Belmont, which is what tipped into buying the game.

The main aspect these games have in common is that they embrace the look and feel of the games I grew up playing. That is why I love them, and why I will continue to support smaller games like these. I was honoured to be your guide through this. While I did only cover one platform (Xbox 360), fear not! Breath of Death VII is now available on Steam, and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is coming to the Playstation Network this summer!

Game on!   read

6:32 PM on 07.11.2011

Digital Distribution: Save Your Money

I'll be the first to say I used to be 100% against digital distribution, but as it's grown in size and value, it's crept into and became a permanent part of my life. Now how can something I hate with a passion become not only part of my life, but is occasionally recommended instead of retail? Read on to find out.

Obviously the first problem people have with using digital distribution is the fact that they cannot hold their games, and have no way to show off their purchase without booting the game up. This is the biggest concern for collectors. The second problem is when you're done with the game and do not plan on playing it again, you can't sell it. You're essentially stuck with it forever. These are what stopped me from jumping on board for many years, and still prevents other gamers from taking part as well.

I cannot blame them one bit for not wanting to try either, because being a gamer is an expensive hobby, and when you're spending hundreds, or even thousands of dollars a year on video games, you want something to show for it, something you can hold, bring over to a friends, and rub it in their face, physically.
For collectors like myself, physical copies are a must! Extras like action figures, a comic book, art book, cards, whatever else that comes in a Limited Edition of a game. They act like trophies of our dedication to gaming, and our passion for that game. I may not have any medals from Track & Field in high school, but I have a bust of Duke Nukem to show that I waited 15 years for a game, and never gave up.

Onto another note, the used market. Prices drop and become more affordable as time goes on, while games on a digital service generally remain at their launch price, then drop in price in half a decade. So not only does the used market make games cheaper, it allows you to rid of your finished games for that missing chunk of coin you need to pick something you want to play. This makes it a win-win situation for customers. The used market is single-handedly the most important aspect in video game sales because of this advantage.

Despite those hefty advantages of having the possession of the physical product, there are three reasons why I joined the digital distribution bandwagon, and I'll cover them in importance from least to most.
The third most important reason I dove into the world of downloads was exclusive content. Games like Monday Night Combat and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair were only available on Xbox Live, Wipeout HD and Dead Nation were only available on the Playstation Network, Shantae: Risky's Revenge and Mighty Flip Champs on DSiWare, the list goes on. I would not have been able to enjoy these great games if it weren't for digital distribution.

The second most important reason is easy access to the world of indie development. While this is tied into the third most important reason, I place this higher because smaller studios like Zeboyd and Gaijin Games not only deserve better recognition, but need it more than the big boys. It's the smaller studios that can take us through unforeseen experiences that hardly come by the mainstream developers, and you get to see the power of creativity overriding the thoughts of how many units the game will sell. The big boys pour millions of dollars nowadays into their games, so they can't take that chance of complete creative freedom that smaller studios can. The smaller studios can't afford to mass-produce their game onto discs, so they use digital distribution. Through digital distribution, I get to play their games, and if I like it, support the company and help them grow.

Now onto the single most important reason that dragged me kicking and screaming into the realm of digital distribution....

Steam is the very definition of how to do digital distribution right. They have the exclusives and support all indie developers. All while supporting retail versions of titles on the service by allowing you to input a code from your copy, and redeem a free digital version onto your account. Steam has all the bases covered...Or do they?
The single biggest draw of Steam goes hand-in-hand with the single most important aspect of video games sales, and that's the Steam Deals, where they drop the price on selected game by up to 90% off. Steam just had a 10-day Summer Deals event where bundles by publishers like Activision, THQ, and developers like id Software put almost all of their respected games together, and sold the lot for a fraction of the value, but if that wasn't enough, every day through the event, random games would get even bigger discounts, up to 85% off. This allows you to pay little and get alot. I personally spent $75 through this 10 day event, and received over $300 in value thanks to the savings.

I believe when it comes to digital distribution, it should come at a reduced price since you don't get that feeling of purely owning your purchase, you have to share that purchase with the program. But if that program is going to take out a good chunk of what I would pay at retail for it, I don't mind sharing all much.

Digital Distribution: Save Your Money   read

3:37 PM on 07.04.2011

Freedom: What Killed JRPGs

During the NES days of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, the SNES days of Chrono Trigger and Breath of Fire, and the PSOne days of Legend of Legaia, and Legend of Dragoon, I was all about JRPGs. The leveling up, the upgradeable equipment, the stories and characters, I loved it all and didn't think RPGs could get better. Until I borrowed my friends Xbox many years ago and got a taste of something I've never had in my RPG career up until that point. That taste was freedom, and the plate serving such an exotic and delicious sensation was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

What makes Morrowind so much different than anything other RPG I played before it was it's lack of restraints. Whatever I wanted to do, I could do it (Except for pissing in a corner...One day!). I wasn't bogged down and restricted to a set storyline, I was never denied access to parts of the world because it wasn't unlocked, or closed off after an event had happened. I could talk to whoever I wanted, steal from them, even kill them. I had the choice to do what I wanted, for better or worse. No one was invincible, so if I wanted to cancel out a part of a story by killing someone important, I had the freedom to do so. If I wanted to skip out on any stories and just roam across every inch of land I see, I have the freedom to do so. The game conformed around me, rather than me having to conform around the game.

I remember playing through Final Fantasy X, and feeling so confined in towns and dissatisfied with the exploration in the game. Invisible walls, so many invisible walls! I thought maybe it was just the game, as I had grown out of my Final Fantasy phase since VII and VIII disappointed me greatly. So I picked up Golden Sun for my Game Boy Advance, and absolutely loved the game as it felt like a RPG from my earlier years.The animations, the characters, the story, and especially the music made the experience one of my favourites. But I couldn't help but feel the same limitation I felt while playing FFX. Even though I loved everything else about the game, it was this one major flaw - the lack of choice - that dampened what would have been a perfect experience for me.

So it boiled down to one of two things. Either RPGs were becoming worse, or Morrowind's sense of freedom raised the bar for what makes a perfect RPG to me. The only way to find this out is to replay all of the classics I grew up on. I started with Legend of Dragoon. And everything was going great, until I got to the third disc, and I just couldn't take it anymore. Every time I try to play Legend of Dragoon now, I'll get to the third disc, and watch the Divine Dragon trash the city, and by then, I just can't bring myself to care about continuing on. I get so bored with the game, that not even the almighty powers of nostalgia can push me to continue. At that point you're forced to crawl through the story, and when you don't care about the story, the game becomes a dud at that point. The limitations of the game kill it at that point, and it's such a damn shame because Legend of Dragoon is still one of my favourite RPGs.

The only exceptions that survived my recent playthroughs was Legend of Legaia, because of it's fantastic combat system, and Chrono Trigger, because it's the closest a JRPG has ever gotten to a sense of freedom found in WRPGs. It was then that I realized that Morrowind pretty much ruined the replayability of my childhood RPGs because it proved me wrong. RPGs could get better, and they did, and the bar was raised so high, I cannot enjoy most of what I used to.

Freedom - What killed JRPGS   read

8:52 PM on 06.07.2011

Ozzblog Review: Epic Dungeon

Epic Dungeon is an old school styled 8-bit hack & slash dungeon crawler with RPG elements such as leveling, stats, and upgradeable skills and equipment. It's developed by Eyehook Games, and is available on the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace for the bargain price of 80 Points (Or $1 for us common folk).

While there isn't a story for Epic Dungeon, there are four different prologues depending on which character you start out with. The Berserker wakes up with a wicked hangover from his seventh bachelor party. Not knowing where he is, or how he got there, he trusts his blade will guide him home through the dungeon. The Gambler was thrown down a well by a farmer after he found out he was fucking his three daughters. He's a bit of a catch, after all! With no way back up, he must journey through the dungeon and find a way out. The Shaman enters the dungeon because he believes the Earth suffers because of the monsters within. His magic is great, and his will is strong, he ventures forth to rid these monsters from the planet. The Tinkerer has woken up and realized that once again, his mother has has drugged him and buried him alive. "Oh how she loves to play tricks on me" he says before realizing this is the perfect time to test his latest invention...
So while there's not a whole lot of anything to go off off entering the game, the quirky introductions definitely set the humerous tone of the game.

As I said before, the game is presented in an 8-bit fashion, but has the polish of crisp pixel art, and music based on 16-bit MIDI. The animations are basic and limited, but upon killing an enemy, they explode into pieces of meat and fall down your screen as if you were playing a 2D platformer, even though the camera remains in a top-down perspective. Not nagging at it, as it's added for humour and to give the screen some eye candy and flare.

For those who have played the original Gauntlet games back on the NES, expect the same game, with added depth. First you choose from 3 different difficulties, Easy, Normal, and Epic. Second, you choose your class. Berserker, Gambler, Shaman, or Tinkerer. Each class specializes in a skill and start with two points in it, and each point they put into their special skill increase it's level by two rather than one. I'll get more into skills later in the review.
You'll soon figure out by Floor 2 that death is permanent. There is no coming back, and you leave behind a tombstone for the next adventurer to take pity on you - And loot your corpse. When you come across a tombstone of a previously deceased character, you actually recieve a random item carried by that character. It wasn't going to do them much use anyway.
You advance through endless hordes of monsters as you dive down 50 floors of mayhem filled with loot, treasure, secrets, and the occasional shop. As you slay your way through, you'll also gain experience, and as you level up your health increases and you get 3 Stat Points to spend in one of four categories. Damage, Defense, Dexterity, and Luck. Damage obviously increase your damage, Defense reduces damage taken, Dexterity affects your chance to dodge attacks and also your chance to hit your enemies, and Luck affects the random loot drops, as well as influence the outcomes of Random Events (Which I'll explain later).

Every third level (Starting at level 3) you get a Skill Point to spend in one of five skills. The skills consist of Freeze, Frenzy, Regenerate, Orb, and Poison. As I mentioned before, each class specializes in a skill, except Regenerate. Regenerate increases your automatic healing factor by 2 for every point put into it. So when you have only 1 point, you'll regain 2 health per second, where having a maxed out 10 points will speed up your recover to 20 points a second. Now for the class specialized skills.
Berserker - Frenzy
Swings your weapon around attacking all 8 surrounding squares. Upgrading this causes Frenzy to deal more damage. Frenzy is assigned to the B button
Gambler - Poison
Poisons enemies around you, and deals them damage every second. Upgrading this causes the poison to deal more damage each second. Poison is assigned to the A button.
Shaman - Freeze
Freezes surrounding enemies in ice blocks for a short time. While frozen, your first attack will automatically be a critical hit, but will unfreeze your enemy. Upgrading this causes the freeze duration to last longer. Freeze is assigned to the X button.
Tinkerer - Orb
Summons a mechanical orb to fight alongside you. Will attack your enemies, but can be attacked back. Wether you want to let it absorb hits for you is your call. Orb is assigned to the Y button.
These skills suffer a cooldown when used, but shortly after using your skill, if you time it right, you can activate your skill again as part of a "chain", and keep your skill going. There is a maximum amount of times you can do this, and it's determined by what level your skill is, plus one.

Random Events are marked by a question mark on your map and bring up humerous events like a Witch needing your toe for her potion, or something simple like a princess in a puffy pink dress is locked in a cage, or even witnessing a goblin sneak up on two snoring giants and trying to loot them. There are dozens of these events and they're chosen at random, but you'll never encounter the same event happen twice on the same playthrough. Also for every event, you're given multiple options generally consisting of backing away and ignoring the situation, or following through with it, and sometimes even outright attacking with whoever you've encountered. Thanks to the fantastic writing in this game, each event should get a good chuckle even if it's turned for the worst.

You will also occasionally encounter holes in the ground with a golden aura glowing from below. Using these will bring you to a 2D platforming mini-game in which you're forced forward and must press the A button to jump across various platforms collecting gold. If you finish the mini-game or fall off before, you're dropped into the next floor at a pre-determined spot. Sometimes this is convenient and the monsters are around the ladder you usually descend with, or sometimes you fall right into a group of them and experience what it's like to drop the soap in prison.

Now what else could you possibly add to this game? How about randomly generated levels? Yeah! While the levels do maintain the same type of look to them, the layouts change. Example, level 8 will always look like you're inside a castle's bricked walls, but the layout of the floor will be different. Add this random generated design with a random generated loot system, and you sir, have alot of replayability.
But it doesn't end there!
Act now and you'll get Awardments! Actually, act anytime and you'll get Awardments. These act like in-game achievements and give you an Awardment score, but actually serve more purpose then just showing off high numbers. Whenever you start a character, there is a treasure chest on the first floor, and contains loot. What determines the quality (and quanitity) of the loot depends on how many Awardment Points you have. Neat!

So there you have it. A classic throwback to the classic dungeon crawlers like Gauntlet with added depth, and is accompanied by great witty writing. With 3 difficulty settings, Awardments, lootable tombstones, and randomly generated levels and loot, there's alot of content here, and alot of replayability, and only for a dollar! I haven't had this much fun with an RPG in a long time. If only Dragon Age 2 was like this, then maybe Varric wouldn't be the only good thing in that game.

TL;DR (In Tweet mode): Throwback to 80s dungeon crawlers with randomly generated levels/loot. Throw in awardments and witty writing, you have the best dollar ever.   read

1:00 PM on 06.01.2011

E3 Approaches: The Promise

First and foremost, let's get my predictions done and out of the way.

First prediction: There will be (blood) games.
Of course we'll be seeing AAA titles like Resistence 3, Uncharted 3, Metal Gear Solid 3D, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Super Mario 3DS, Mario Kart 3DS, Gears of War 3, as well other titles without numbers at the end that no one cares about.
Second prediction: There will be new hardware
With alot of attention on Nintendo's Project Cafe, I wouldn't be surprised is Sony or Microsoft also tease their next iteration of consoles, however I would be suprised if we actually got more then just a shitty tease considering they've been in the dark for so long (And since Sony can't keep their secrets together, PS4 would be leaked as bad as the PSPGo was).
Third prediction: There will be fanboys raging, and gleeing
As always, the brand diehards will over-exaggerate their new wares, while dumbing down everything else. While this is generally tiring to read, or even watch, E3 is so god damn big, and everyone watches it, that more then just your general mindless fanboy will be trashing and praising. E3 brings up the clever fanboys that always provide good quality entertainment with their opinions that even if they are wrong and exuberate such a hardcore bias, that instead of ignoring him, or hating him, you like him because he shares the passion as you even if it's directed only into a single area. (Looking at you Sexualchocolate).
That about sums it up. Every E3, these are the main events and why we watch it, love it, and anticipate the next one after it's over.

Now let's get to what's important - What I Want
As someone who is dedicated enough to a franchise to get tattoo work done about it, it's obvious I want to hear more about it. Luckily my franchise is Legend of Zelda, and there's lot of goodness to look forward to. We have the announced Skyward Sword coming up, Ocarina of Time 3D, and a teased 25th Anniversary project. Ooooo, lot's a good stuff, so of course this is the most important thing about E3. Maybe aside from Nintendo's Project Cafe.

Speaking of Nintendo's Project Cafe, that's next on my list as I always enjoy watching new consoles coming out, sitting there with lackluster launch titles to hold them off until the good stuff comes in a year later and it picks up steam. I may sound alittle bitter, but it's the promise that keeps the excitement there. (Inb4 Wii never picked up comments).

More 3DS Games! Seriously, Ocarina of Time 3D will only hold me off for so long, so I want details on Super Mario, Mario Kart, eShop and 3DSware so that I have that promise to help justify my 3DS purchase (If you took Ocarina of Time out of the picture, of course). Aside from those important things, I'll just soak in the rest of the goodness like the titles I mentioned at the beginning.

Call me crazy, but E3 is my favourite event of the year. Better than my birthday? Yup! Christmas? Yup! and it's because of one reason - The promise. While I love getting games and playing them, it can be said that the anticipation is the best part simply because it's all positive. And we've all been there - Game looks great, sounds great, but when you get your hands on it, disappointment. If you never played that game though, you'd still have that happy little kid in you about the subject.

Promise is a delicate thing, and with age, comes doubt, and with doubt, the promise fades, and we lose that hope. E3 reminds me that nomatter how old we get, no matter how many bad games you played last year, there's always promise of a better experience in the future, and that is why I love E3.   read

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