3:09 AM on 01.31.2015
The nitty-gritty is a series aimed at discussing the utmost granular game design choices and mechanics that makes our favorite games tick. No expense is spared in talking with the most obscure of lexicon and jargon in order really appreciate the nitty-gritty features of our games that we sometimes don't even notice.
PlatinumGames are masters of the action genre. As soon as you hear that the developer is PlatinumGames, people immediately picture a high-octane, adrenaline infused experience where the highs are high and the lows still leave your feet tingly numb. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Bayonetta 2 are two great examples of of Platinum's work. Both games are fast paced slugfests filled with grandiose set pieces and death defying encounters. On the surface both games should be mechanically similar yet when you start playing them they're very different. There are a lot of action games out there but what binds these two titles together yet makes them distinct? I want to talk about the nitty-gritty about what makes these games feel so good in practice.
Basically, Revengeance is ultimately a more offensive, aggressive playstyle while Bayonetta 2 is a more fluidity in movement, grace, and style. And while I ultimately want to gush about how much I love these two games, I want everyone to come out with an appreciation for how PlatinumGames can take a genre that's prone to repetition between titles and make them feel distinct. How does PlatinumGames make an action game where all you do is repeatedly wail on enemies, oftentimes with only one or two buttons, but still make every fight distinct and exciting?
Look at Revengeance and Bayo 2 from the outside and what would the average onlooker see? Probably high speed, visual noise with some semblance of violence. But when you dig deeper and really explore their combo system, you begin to realize that while both revolve on high speed action, they differ just enough to be a unique fighting experience. Probably an experience only someone with a long history of fighting and action games may sense granted, but a difference nonetheless.
So what do the two share that marks them as unmistakably P*? High frames per second. Call of Duty, as tired as the series may be, is always proud of its 60fps. There's a stark difference in control between the standard 30fps and the high watermark of 60. 30fps is pretty much a norm for most animation. Things appear to move normally when projected onto a screen and are perceived as such. Hit 60fps though and much more visual information is being conveyed to your senses. Halo has only recently joined the realm of 60fps and while the controls are the same, the gap between input and display will feel shortened. Popular buzzwords used like snappy and responsive are all we can use to describe how a game basically runs faster. And Revengeance and Bayo 2 run at these blistering rates in order to really communicate your thoughts and reactions to fast gameplay. It should be noted that Bayo 2 bascially runs at 60fps but will dip when the action gets heavy but this isn't really a concern until one or two encounters into the endgame where things get predictably wacky and flashy.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is a great way to see the real difference in frames per second for yourself.
Another similarity is scale. Maybe other games will sick a big boss fight on you every level but in both Revengeance and Bayonetta, every other enemy is at least twice as big as you. Towering behemoths like gekkos and urbane are a regular occurence and its not uncommon to bisect majors enemies and generally reducing the big enemies you get used to fighting to ribbons.
Play both for awhile and the difference is much more pronounced if you reflect on your experiences with the different encounters.
Revengeace is aggressive, in your face, and emphasizes a rushdown, all-out attack mentality. A typical encounter with Raiden is to slice up your opponent as much as you can until you can finish them off in blade mode, exposing their nanofluids, and recharging yourself to restart your offense anew. Blade mode is a purely offensive mechanic, allowing for rapid, powerful attacks during time dilation, at the cost of rooting you in place. In fact, Revengeance focuses so much on offense that your only initial defensive option is to block except you can't hold up that block. The mechanic works more like a parry in that it must be timed, but when mastered, allows for immediately retaliation as your opponent either recovers from their attack or is staggered by your block. The first complaint new players will probably lodge is that Raiden lacks a dodge option, at least at first. This immediately sets Revengeance apart from other action games of its ilk since they almost always provide you with a get out of jail free card in the form of a dodge mechanic that is almost always usable at any point during your offense. Instead the game expects you to grasp the timing of the parry mechanics instead, which is an inherently more offense-oriented than defensive. Even when you purchase the evasive technique, it's built to attack as Raiden dodges with limited movement.
Revengeance typically rewards aggressive combat since your attacks carry a lot of weight, and parrying allows you to restart you attack immediately after blocking your enemy.
Compare this to Bayonetta. While Bayonetta is certainly aggressive, combat in Bayonetta is more fluid and stylish. She has a standard invincible dodge maneuver with her trademark Witch Time slow down to reward precise dodges. Bayonetta isn't about confrontational strategies but rather controlling the flow of combat to your advantage. Since certain combos allow Bayonetta to summon Wicked Weaves, which a giant, powerful, area of effect moves, players have to be mindful of how their combos flow, how strong each of their attacks are, and react to attacks by dodging them. Well timed dodges of course reward you with Witch Time, which in turn feeds additional offense. Bayonetta has a sort of give and take momentum as well as a mindful eye towards pacing and motion. Also, since Bayonetta has guns and a few other methods of ranged combat, Bayonetta is more flexible with spacing. The usual style and pace still applies though.
Bayonetta is like watching tai chi. It's fluid in movement, blending offense with defense through flowing evasion and punishing counterattacks.
Other action games certainly have their own unique strengths, but I love the speed and impulse of PlatinumGames' brand of action games. I know Capcom's brand of action rewards people who dig in deep and stretch their mechanics to the limit. It's apparent in the Devil May Cry series, God Hand, and frankly a lot of other series with a challenge like Ghouls and Ghosts, where learning how the mechanics work at baseline and how to abuse them to their boundaries is almost expected for record setting scores. But PlatinumGames has always felt empowering without overpowering you.
Capcom is also known for punishing you with huge demerits for even the slightest mistake. In Devil May Cry or God Hand, not messing up is a reward in itself while screwing up means getting your ass handed to you. Meanwhile, PlatinumGames lets the difficulty do all the punishing and rewards players who do well. Players who slip up aren't sent back to go without collecting money but players who do well are rewarded such as Raiden's blade mode or Bayo's witch time. Maybe that's why I love PlatinumGames so much. I strive to do well in a game and master its mechanics and Platinum won't withhold anything from me in my quest for perfection.
4:44 AM on 01.25.2015
Another night for late night thoughts. Dtoid is certainly bustling this past month. I take back what I said describing Dtoid's comic book age phases. The very beginning was probably just Dtoid being small but tight knit. Let's call this the Pre-golden age or maybe the Classic age. Eventually there's got to be a Renaissance right? Maybe Renaissance is a better description now than the post-revival age? So Classical age, Golden age, Silver age, and what? Renaissance age? But there's never a shortage of discussion in Community Discourse. I mean, Robert Summa? I'm putting on my skepticals.
But enough about that! I realized I forgot some Hyrule Warriors DLC wish list items! While Shade revealed to me that a Hilda palette swap does exist (and its unlockables early in the Master Quest map too. I already got it), I still left out some choice ideas. It could function well too because Wind Waker isn't acknowledged nearly enough in Hyrule Warriors and the next two ideas are from that world.
Tetra and Spirit Zelda!
Why two distinct Zeldas? Because Tetra functions as Tetra and transforms into Zelda for certain attacks. Spirit Zelda on the other hand would be interesting in that you only see her a few important times. Most of the time, you'll be in control of a Phantom armor, and the armor can in fact be different depending on the weapon you choose!
Spirit Zelda can have access to different suits of armor as her weapon, from an old suit of armor, Darknut armor, to finally Phantom armor. Now I'm just spitballing live as I type this out, but in addition possibly moving like a Darknut in terms of combos, her special attack could be made as a callback to her game of origin. After all, Volga transforms into his dragon form during the game and Lana rides a Deku Sprout like the cavalry. Why not have Zelda in her Phantom armor leap onto a suddenly spawning Spirit Train as it mows down everything in front of you?
That can be a freebie Nintendo. Now how about Tetra?
Tetra can move like Shiek. She is after all a nimble pirate of the sea and prefers a small dagger to a large cutlass. Her agility can be used to provide her with blazing fast, mobile strikes like how Shiek constantly moves forward in her combos to strike with her kunai. The different is that Tetra will transform into Zelda and fire her trademark light arrows.
The jury is out on whether she'll transform into Zelda for specific attacks or if Tetra will shift into a sort of Zelda mode like how Zant charges up a meter to go crazy-bonkers-insane with his magic and scimitars. It'd be simple if she'd use Zelda as combo finishers but it could be possible to make Tetra a stance based character and give her elements of Ruto's ranged tidal wave attacks but better. Or change her move set entirely into a combo that involves a rapid barrage of light arrows with range functionally similar to Link's fire rod.
Isn't that cool? How about some extra costume ideas. Just stop and think about it. Shiek fights with a harp. And who else uses a harp in Wind Waker? Yes, Medli. Yes, Medli alternate costume for Shiek. Ain't that wild? How about Wind Waker Ganondorf costume for Ganondorf? His sleeves fucking rocked it. They both use dual swords too, so how about complete the look by turning his twin great swords into twin cutlasses? Yes, awesome Strider.
Thank you Strider.
The Gardevoir Experience
The second bit of news is the reason I decided to do a late night thoughts. Also, this idea is partially to celebrate Gardevoir's inclusion to Pokken Tournament and go along with everyone's excitement of everyone's favorite rule 34 subject. But deep on the web exists this enjoyable doujin called The Sirknight Experience, with Sirknight being Gardevoir's Japanese name. Now if you've already closed the window because you saw the word doujin and thought you were going to be bombarded with Gardevoir hentai, know that this doujin isn't a hentai and that it doesn't even portray Gardevoir as some sort of bubbly, girlfriend-esque image.
Check it out in one of its first uploads, on Psypokes! Images here presented cut for brevity and context. Just see it on that link though!
The Sirknight Experience is an enjoyable, short doujin that portrays Gardevoir as a stereotypical middle aged Japanese office lady. That type of character trope is the constant butt of insufferable office gossip, is coming to the conclusion that they're over the hill, and is unmarried but always looking for Mr. Right. It also stays within its comfort level and uses the Japanese names for all the named Pokemon, which isn't always apparent because some Pokemon have the same name in English and Japanese like Latios.
Anyways, a quick summary and review of the doujin is that Sana the Gardevoir is experiencing a mid-life crisis: she's getting old and still hasn't married, let alone a boyfriend. She's actually 40 and can't find the right man. Not only is her boss setting her up on sketchy dates but her co-workers gossip mercilessly about Sana's prospects, despite the risk of getting Thunderpunch'd by her. Pokeblocks however, are all the rage and it seems to be the magic bullet everyone's been looking for because her friend Feebas suddenly evolves into Milotic.
"Bitch, I can hear you."
Also, I don't know why Gardevoir has a proper name with Sana while I'm pretty sure everyone is just called by their species name. I guess it makes sense in the end to give Gardevoir a cohesive name since she changes forms a couple times in the story.
Just as Sana begins to really doubt herself, we're introduced to her childhood friend Bakejirou, better known as Typhlosion in English. He's naturally the type who is not just Sana's childhood friend but was also the victim of bullying as a Quilava, to which Sana as a Kirlia would protect him. It's at this point where they catch up at a noodle stand where I really begin to love this doujin. There are tons of details for Pokemon fans to appreciate, from the Slowpoke acting as a seat cushion, the Wobuffet crying into his food with Meowth, to the fact that Feebas evolved into Milotic because it was taking beauty Pokeblocks. Every interstitial scene is packed to the gills with extra details that any fan of the series will just love, especially because we get to see our favorite Pokemon act like humans with day jobs, except they breath fire or are floating hunks of metal.
I just realized they're eating fucking Slowpoke tails. Team Rocket's blasting off again!
Also, why is Typhlosion patrolling the streets on a scooter? It's just barely worse than a mall cop on a segway.
Anyways, Sana is caught wondering if Pokeblocks are really the answer when the local shady merchant confirms to us that no, only the Feebas-species can evolve that way but if you've seriously played the games you'd know that. The shady merchant, a Cacturne (the only character in the doujin with defining physical characteristics by the way. Everyone else uses accessories while this Cacturne has purple hair), tells Sana that she has a secret method to help her regain her youthful looks and therefore, the confidence to really hook a man. Particularly to hook her crush, the hotshot Latios who just got hired at her company.
After explaining the basis for experience points and growth (i.e. how every RPG ever works), Cacturne sells Sana on the idea of sucking those nasty extra experience points out of her in order to regain her youth. But despite indeed coming out of the mysterious process looking a bit younger and getting all sorts of good reactions (she fucking turns down Deoxys-D. High standards much?), she finds out Latios isn't into final stage evolutions. While Latios' co-workers says he has a first evo complex, we might be more familiar with calling him a lolicon. I watch a lot of anime but somehow the impact feels way worse now.
So after ponying up for extra sessions to suck out enough exp to turn Sana into a Kirlia, she nabs the man of her dreams and even dresses up in a sweet female trainer cosplay. But we soon find out that Latios really is as gross as we thought because not only is he a lolicon but he's also got a huge soft spot for polygamy. Even after getting absolutely rekt by about a dozen of his scorned girlfriends plus his actual sister Latias, Sana is still sympathetic enough to carry Latios to the Pokemon Center. If it weren't for her hip giving out on her.
This entire family has weird taste.
Turns out it was too good to be true. The experience points being sucked out of her only reduced her abilities and powers, making her appear younger as she devolved. In truth, the matter of experience points had no bearing whatsoever on her actual age. So despite devolving into her Kirlia form, she still had the body age of a 40-year-old. Sana's rage induced retaliation was only a wimpy attack and she gets quickly dispatched by Cacturne's needle arm (this was of course made a long time ago when it made sense that a grass/dark-type would wipe the floor with a psychic-type. Nowadays Gardevoir's been retconned as psychic/fairy so the outcome would be very different, before even considering the mega form). She not only sucks out what remaining experience points out of Sana, but she's using the weird juices being sucked out by her crony Gulpins to cook up meth! I mean, rare candies! Or meth candies? No, it's rare candies, because it's pure, crystallized experience points.
Watashi wa kikendesu!~ I am the danger!
Typhlosion shows up though, having tailed a Kirlia he recognized as Sana. When it looks at first that the once cowardly Quilava gets laid out like an amateur, he quickly rises to the occasion as Typhlosion of the Flame Wheel Corps and puts a beat down on Cacturne.
In the end, Sana, as a Ralts, is given not just a stern lecture from her friend Typhlosion but a jar of rare candies that could transform her back. While she has the option to become a Kirlia and go back to [that creep] Latios, Sana comes to terms with how she is and goes back to being a Gardevoir, knowing well that she has Typhlosion, who will always be there for her. It not only ends on a cute note, but also on a classic anime/manga trope of a guy feeling a girls boobs on his back a he carries her off. Only we all know Gardevoir has that tough looking horn thing that's probably much less enjoyable to feel in your back.
Your welcome Gardevoir lovers of Dtoid!
2:57 AM on 01.23.2015
It's been a longtime coming, but since I never know when to let go, the Fapcast is coming back for an episode. And while I loathe to do short form posts, I figure you've seen enough call for questions to be used to them. This episode will have me, your arrogant host, Phil, resident dickmonger, and a special community guest! Can you guess who it is? If you've seen me or Phil on Twitter, you probably already know.
But enough about that! What should you ask us? Well, in the spirit of everything goes because I never know just how many questions I actually get, just about anything. Other community podcasts seem fine answering inane questions like what kind of bread they prefer on their sandwich so I guess we could answer them too. But if you must focus on something, this episode's community segment will spitball on the brand new year and the new blood that's been pouring in these past few months. In my opinion as someone who's been around for three to four years, the time directly before me could be described as the golden age, where Dtoid grew and hit its stride. My period would probably be the silver age, when Dtoid hit its peak and held an identity. And we may now be entering the post-revival age, where there was a lot of reorganizing and restructuring of how the site views itself and how the community views it. We're now seeing lots of new regular participants, ongoing cblog series and views, and many new ideas entering the void of the Dtoid's rebuilding. Have anything to say about the way the site's been going? Think anyone in particular has been making the community a bang up place? We record Friday evening and send them in!
Sound off in the comments! You can also reach us at twitter @CblogFapcast, as well as the hosts of the show, @Striderhoang and @MikeMcPhil!
9:28 PM on 01.20.2015
Believe it or not, I really love Hyrule Warriors. Actually, that's probably not such a stretch seeing the comments for each new DLC release. But Hyrule Warriors has really grown on me as something Nintendo has always been really good at and has done multiple times already: creating self-referential celebrations of their games. Everyone knows Smash Bros. is basically a celebration of Nintendo's video game history and these days its dawned on me that Mario Kart is a celebration of the history of Mario games with their character rosters, tracks, and items. And since no one would ever expect a Zelda game that isn't an action-RPG, Hyrule Warriors fills a surprisingly well-rounded role as a Zelda celebration with all its combat and monsters to beat up.
There are exactly two different opinions to Hyrule Warriors: people who are fine with Dynasty Warriors and people who aren't. Even if you love Zelda to the point of giving Hyrule Warriors a shot, that means you were fine or at least not actively repulsed by its gameplay. Which is a shame for people who don't like repetitive hack and slash action games because there's the game is packed with cool references and action-oriented re-imaginings of classic Zelda items and characters. For example, who would've thought the wind waker baton could've made a great weapon but here I am, commanding the winds to create cyclones and decimate entire armies. In terms of a celebration of Zelda, its just like past Nintendo games, even though it wasn't made by Nintendo but Tecmo Koie. The story uses a plot device that allows many major Zelda characters from across time to be in the same place such as Ruto from Ocarina of Time or Zant from Twilight Princess. There is a treasure trove of weapons with unique combos, effects, and properties on top of the character's gimmicks, not to mention a few major items are important sub-weapons for all characters, so I get to see Ganondorf's huge gerudo-ian mitts trying to use a bow and arrow.
So why do I like Hyrule Warriors? First of all, Zelda celebrations, like I said. I get to see Zelda herself use the Dominion Rod from Twilight Princess and crush hordes of moblins. Second, the hack and slash mentality actually carries over surprisingly well for a fan of fighting games. The different repertoires of combos all have unique effects and uses such as how Link's 2-hit to strong with the gauntlets juggles enemies well for extra damage. Or there's the fact that certain characters play completely differently despite having only one or two weapons. Link has over 4 weapons with different attacks and combos but even though Ganondorf only has his great swords, he has a unique charge mechanic that gives him a powerful area attack which is a constant part of his gameplan.
I also love the expressiveness of the characters on Nintendo's HD console. I didn't get a chance to play Skyward Sword which featured a more expressive Link and Zelda. I look forward to either getting a disc or seeing a VC release of it now that Nintendo has figured it out. But I also jumped on the sale they had on the retail exclusive costume packs and there's something so absolutely charming about seeing Twilight Zelda smile so radiantly. In fact, I so rarely get to see my favorite Zelda characters smile and that's kind of weird because Hyrule Warriors is in the context of an actual war while most other games are adventures against the backdrop of a thinly veiled peace. When Link crushes monsters with the Spinner, he fist pumps! When Zelda uses the wind waker baton, she smiles and giggles! When Ganondorf kicks open a treasure chest, he has a sly smirk!
But most of all, I love the weapons you can use. This ties back to the Zelda celebration and references. The lore really gets acknowledged by the game when you use it yourself. The weapons are the whole reason I wanted to talk about Hyrule Warriors! So without further ado, here are some of my favorite weapons and by extension, characters in Hyrule Warriors. My choices are judged by a criteria of design, their visual flourish in combat, and actual effectiveness in battle. I also throw in my ideas for future weapon and character ideas too, because just like Smash Bros. there's always something else you wish for.
Link may be the baseline character with no special effects but he also has the largest variety of weapons to make up for it. All his weapons are really interesting to use like the fire rod or riding Epona. I actually love the gauntlets + ball and chain combo. But the spinner barely edges out its electrical element cousin for its sheer area of effect utility. I absolutely love the idea of Link using his golden gauntlets to not only crushing armies with a wrecking ball but also beating redeads senseless with his thunder fists. But the spinner, true to its name, spins everywhere, and tears up everything around Link. The spinner also ups the ridiculous factor, even compared to the gauntlets' ability to dig up and pile drive huge black monoliths into dodongos.
The spinner you see, comes in an infinite supply of itself which seemingly appears conveniently out of no where. The strong attack kicks out his current spinner into place, which then becomes a projectile when Link kicks out his next spinner to ricochet the last one. Link can also spawn a row of columns that sticks his opponent magnetically before bowling them over. He even spawns a gear tower from Twilight Princess out of no where, rides up it, then crushes it, creating an explosion!
Also, he can kickflip it in front of him, punch it, and send it flying forward like a Beyblade death missile. That move looks way cooler than it sounds, so I tried using a Beyblade reference to help you realize how ridiculous it is.
What's better than a giant's knife? How about a giant katana? Impa basically uses her own version of the giant's knife like she's right out of a samurai period movie because she keeps the thing rested in its hilt over her shoulder until she draws it for quick, fast cuts the break the pavement. It draws obvious design inspiration as a katana than a broadsword, and yet its immense size in the Zelda universe is less Buster Sword and more Biggoron's Sword.
The sword itself is really cool. But the water magic Impa infuses it with is equally, if not cooler. She can conjure a bubble of water to draw her enemies in, arrows of water to rain down, and even a small armory of swords made entirely of water to slash and rend her foes. But not that Impa is some mage, because the way she handles a sword as big as herself is much more entertaining than simply watching someone strongarm it. She swings with its inertia like its a flail and even continues the combos with her feet to preserve its deadly momentum. Her strong attack also lets her dash in on her target and quick draw them, which is one of the better utility moves in the game compared to janky projectiles or a different kind of strong attack.
Like the spinner, this item is extremely niche and didn't serve much purpose outside its intended dungeon from Twilight Princess. Also like the spinner, its really good as a weapon of mass destruction for Zelda to destroy entire armies. The rod has two modes: hammer statue and owl statue. While the rod let's fly an orb of light to pummel enemies, one of the two statues will follow its own preset path of destruction until you perform a specific combo that instantly summons it in front of Zelda do something like a hammer combo or a pinball bounce attack. The statue together with Zelda herself lets her cover an enourmous amount of space. It's like two fighters in one!
Zelda's other weapons are extremely different. The rapier has a light stock mechanic which augments her attacks when she's charged with light. It provides powerful area attacks but requires a lot of forethought to use effectively. The baton is the Wind Waker, which allows her to sweep enemies with gusts of wind, but it has surprisingly bad reach. Neither hold a candle to just how much mayhem the Dominion Rod can do thanks to the large size of the statues and senseless havoc you can make from just a few choice combos.
Also, her special focus attack simply causes a statue the size of a skyscraper to topple over onto her enemies. It's a simple, big magic trick but still pretty funnyto watch it fall onto a Gohma or say, Ghirahim.
Lana is about as divisive as Hyrule Warriors. She's very out of character with her perky personality and actual voice. You either may hate her as an eyesore or love her because she smashes dinosaurs and gives a victory wink to the camera. She also hums the Hyrule theme while using the summoning gates weapon so forget what I said earlier, you should love Lana.
But this isn't about the summoning gates. This is about the spear, in actuality, an overglorified deku stick. It doesn't look at all like an actual spear, but it does look like a stick! It can also summon the Great Deku Tree to mangle its foes in its branches, summon homicidal Deku Sprouts, and turn into one of my favorite items of all time, the deku leaf! Which of course you use to create hurricane walls of wind to plow through platoons and zip kick enemies while floating with it. It's seriously the best combo ever.
It's the little touches that matter. Not only can you ride a Deku Sprout like the calvary, your defense guard becomes the Kokiri shield. Awesome.
Ravio/Hilda alternate costumes for Link and Zelda
At first, I was trying to think of ways to integrate Ravio and Hilda as standalone characters. After some time though, I figured it be easier to consider them as skins and introduce the weapon ideas by themselves.
Admittedly, Hilda is just Zelda but purple. Ravio though is a great costume, with a vague rabbit hood, scarf, and cloak set. If Link can cosplay the postman and show of his legendary... legs, then Link can cosplay as a comparatively modest but interesting Ravio. What do you know about the postman, huh? Link can cosplay as the interesting, conflicted, and cowardly Ravio, who is an alternate version of him from Lorule. Wouldn't it be cathartic to see Ravio finally become the hero he could've become?
Oh, and spoilers I guess for Ravio.
The Ice Rod
There have been a lot of different magic rods in the game. In Link Between Worlds alone, there are three elemental rods plus a whirlwind rod. But the ice rod stands as something unique to contribute to Hyrule Warriors.
Yes, it would probably shoot shards of ice and summon spears of ice to pop up from the ground. It's intended use in-game though is dropping ice. What if its special attack, after filling up your special bar, was another callback? After all, Link conjures a flaming dragon reminiscent of Volga through the fire rod. So logically, what if the special attack for the ice rod was dropping a frozen replica of Blizzeta?
Just let that sink in for a moment. Activate your special attack and in addition to freezing your enemies in activation, you literally freeze the ground around them before its mirror sheen reveals Blizzeta is moments away from a total megaton impact. I'll take my checks in direct deposit Nintendo.
Vaati gets so little recognition nowadays. It may be because the entire subseries he's in, known sometimes as the Four Swords series, was done in conjunction with Capcom. Maybe Nintendo wants to make sure the series gets swept under the rug so people don't entirely catch on to the fact that Capcom was responsible for such great cult hits. But Vaati doesn't deserve this shabby treatment. Or maybe Capcom is holding joint rights to him and keeping him indoors Spider-Man style. Also, do you realize what this means for Marvel Vs. Capcom 4?
Ganondorf is capable of assuming his monstrous shape in certain combos. Vaati should also be able to do so himself since he's known traditionally to be a demon. Vaati's also always been known as a wind mage, so it's possible for Vaati to function like a better version of Zelda's baton weapon. And it's obvious his special attack should at least partially transform into his cyclopic form and really decimate the field. His personality has always seemed very Ghirahim to me, before Ghirahim. But let's face it, we'd just be interested in seeing a 2D character make it to 3D.
Roc's Cape and Pegasus Boots
Roc's Cape used to be such a novel idea. Leap across holes and chasms! But ever since Ocarina of Time and its 3D landscape with automatic jumping, it rendered the idea useless. Even in recent top-down Zelda games, map design never asked for the ability to jump as far like Roc's Cape might ask you to.
The Pegasus Boots have fared better in terms of survival. Which is where Hyrule Warriors comes in to bring Roc's legendary cape back to relevancy. By itself, maybe it just allows impressive jumping and gliding. But what if we combine it with a re-imagining of the Pegasus Boots? Magic boots that not only impart agility but immense kicking strength. Now throw in the cape for impressive gliding and air mobility and you have yourself a masterful kicking weapon in the same vein how the gauntlets is two weapons as one.
It could function as a cross between the spinner's ability to attack all around itself with high speed and the baton's wind strikes. But there's only two characters who'd fit the weapon's motif properly. Either Impa, with her athletic speed and build or Lana with her demonstrated history of acrobatics. Hell, one of Lana's guard point finishers just has her stomping on monsters with electrified feet. I love Impa but I feel Lana could make the visceral rush of flip kicking enemies into the horizon with what are essentially jet boots that much better with her own apparent appreciation of Zelda lineage.
1:57 AM on 01.10.2015
Holy cow, I've been meaning to throw this out for months but something always gets in the way, whether it's timely writing prompts (Giving Thanks, Gift of Gaming), big creative itches (finishing Pokemon, GOTY 2014), or just plain good old fashion real life probs yo (date days, holiday work season, school). But finally it's the new year, it's off peak at work (fuck that damn mouse and stocking merchandise), and an open schedule to write, dare I say, for fun?
Anyways, differences in culture always fascinate me. North American west coasters can wear shorts in October and just sweaters in January but Canada is the kind of place where you'd wear what? Three layers of clothing? So whenever I think about the UK, my brain stops working. America has GameStop and UK has... GAME? Man, I thought GameStop sounded dumb. Listening to Secret Moon Base and hearing Stevil say words like quid and what's a corn dog really drive home how universal and global games are and how I'll gladly label foreigners as weird while I drive 10 miles for pretty much anything, from shopping to pretzels.
I live in Southern California. Home of surf, sun, and celebrities. I don't live like the 2000's perennial The OC (now that's an old reference) but I can drive 20 minutes to the beach. But games can be different too, despite everyone all over the world playing them. Even four hours away in the central valley where my girlfriend lives, life can seem so alien. Fast Internet isn't as common and more people are at the mercy of either monopolies or slow Internet.
You can never have too many
I live near no less than 4 GameStops within 30 miles of each other. But despite that I still either go to a department store like Best Buy or download a game digitally. There are still a few mom & pop game stores but they mostly subsist for relic hunters or hardware repair. I live in range of service like Verizon and Time Warner for Internet. I used to use Verizon DSL but when I started working and earning my own paycheck in my parent's household, I pay my own premium on cable internet because fuck casual American DSL. I may be paying more for a paltry 18mbps down rate but when most of Asia can get 50mbps in their own Starbucks I just want what I can get within a reasonable budget. A lot of my multiplayer gaming these days is mostly online like you'd expect. Still, I also live near and work at Disneyland. My friends oftentimes set up multiplayer game sessions and even this past week I missed some sets of Smash.
In my immediate neighborhood, there's more elderly than youth but that doesn't mean I'm surrounded by old folks. I also live near a middle school. But the real source of community and interaction for me is my alma mater, California State University of Long Beach. Finding someone to game wirelessly with handhelds is easier in any school granted but I can name several campuses including my own that are within a 30 to 45 minute drive: UC Irvine, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, and a bevy of local community colleges. At least during my time at college, in my area, fighting games had a healthy market share as it was the favorite method of playing together. Nowadays, I know Cal State Long Beach's gaming club has expanded into eSports like RTS's and MOBAs. God bless our old school arcade with 3rd Strike but a massive rainstorm flooded it out and it was never the same when they replaced it with a PC and console gaming cafe.
Conventions like Anime Expo, Anime LA, and E3 are annual regulars for locals like,bringing a massive influx of gamers. It's also worth noting that I've been to Blizzard and Activision before as they're in the SoCal area. SoCal also has its fair share of fighting game scenes and surviving arcades like Round 1, Super Arcade, and lots of places that are variations of Family Fun (ironic considering the sodium levels you could detect in a typical fighting game). I loved Arcade Infinity as well when it was still up and running. It was sad to see it go but the owner was at odds with the landlord and the city of Rowland Heights.
Another sight, though it's not unique to my area, is the local swap meet. Mine is the Golden West College's weekend swap meet, which is home to two or three unique video game peddlers. Personally I don't trust a place that'll charge me upwards of $15 for a SNES game. I think it reeks of someone who've trying to snag an uninformed casual or a window shopping granny. But like any sweep meet/flea market, you never know what you'll find and the mystery is half the fun.
So that's the majority of my area. I live 45 minutes away from Los Angeles but in addition to that time sink, traffic is killer there. There are a couple of interesting things to say about that place but I don't go there often enough to care so much. Maybe you have something interesting to share about your home about gaming. I can hardly imagine a place with limited Internet or living close to a surviving arcade. But hearing about other people's set ups can be interesting.
2:34 PM on 01.02.2015
Hey guys! You enjoying those PCs and next-gen consoles? Sorry, current gen consoles. Xbox One and PS4 have been out an entire year and they probably no longer have that new console smell. PC always gets interesting games and shitty ports while Xbone and PS4 are seeing brand new games and stupid old franchises. Not me though! My laptop is suited to low-end experiences like Psychonauts, I've still been steadily playing my 3DS which has lost some steam, and bought a Wii U which has been gaining steam. Of course, there's a cap to all that steam because this is Nintendo we're talking about because of course its fucking Nintendo.
This year was a bit awkward in terms of judging the best games. The first half of the year, I still had an Xbox 360 and enjoyed games that weren't even released this year. Then during the later half of the year, I put it towards a Wii U and had to play catch up to some of Nintendo's big Fall beginning line up. I still haven't caught up because I'm not made of unlimited money but I think I tried admirably. In the meantime, here's my list of GOTY with some filler near the end for games I played this year but weren't released this year. Always go to where you want to play games after all.
Shovel Knight is a masterful example of true throwback game development. We've come a long way from 8-bit gaming but do we really want to play literal, actual 8-bit games to relive our childhood? There are a lot of commodities that I'd miss like expanded sound boards and saving. Shovel Knight skillfully triggers the nostalgia section of our brains without hurtling us back into the dark ages of game development.
It's blocky and pixilated! And yet it moves smoothly and has the color range of something modern. It has all those classic sounds and tunes we love! And yet it composes music that goes far beyond what a paltry NES could ever hope to achieve. It moves perfectly, plays perfectly, and has a surprising amount of charm. Like Mega Man's robot masters but better, everyone probably has a favorite. Treasure Knight was mine! And that's because stages are crafted with laser precision and attention to presentation. From Polar Knight's twilight ice caps to Mole Knight's lava filled caverns, every setting, enemy, and step of the way feels perfectly deliberate. The backgrounds, animations, and especially sound design and music, are so easily enjoyable without the guilt that it's nostalgia whoring.
It's hard to believe more is on the way. Free DLC, adding to the world, changing how we see it, and continuing the high watermark of quality in general. When it was already such a perfect game, Yacht Club Games is truly making this a labor of love.
Shovel Knight has no glaring flaws worth mentioning. And it also paradoxically triggers the love for things long past and what games are capable of doing now. I love this game because its timeless. I could've played this game 20 years ago and loved. I played it this year amongst games with lens flare and 1080p HD graphics and I loved it. Its not dated at all because every bit of its art and design makes it enjoyable to experience no matter what year it is. And there's never a substitute for great levels, great characters, and great design.
It's these qualities that make Shovel Knight my true choice for game of the year.
Both the Wii U and the 3DS versions deserve to be mentioned together. They weren't just a game that was released in October and November respectively. It was a season long experience with yearlong reveals, shocking unveilings (Pac-Man!? It's not April 1st!), starting with a portable game I took everywhere, then the definitive HD release.
Like any game that pits your mettle against another, it was a long journey from figuring the game out, picking a main, and learning the ins and out for the diverse move sets. But of course every Smash game since Melee has been celebrating Nintendo's, and now for the fourth game, video game's history. You've got 600 plus trophies depicting a long line of iconic characters, rapidly changing and detailed stages, and over 400 tracks of music in between the two games. That's before we get into things such as improvements to sociability like a whopping 8 players duking it out at once, local wireless fights on the street, and not to mention the return of in-game snapshots complete with in game painting.
It is in essence what every Smash game is but improved: a love letter to Nintendo games and the video game experience, wrapped around a flexibly fun and hardcore fighting experience.
I almost forgot this was released this year, outside of Japan anyways. Who knew this once mild mannered JRPG would show us all that we could still have fun with a genre we've grown so accustomed to making fun of?
It's sometimes described as a Final Fantasy game made for people who hate Final Fantasy. Or maybe it's a Final Fantasy game made for fans who are tired of the genre? Regardless, the classic formula, reinvigorated by an exciting new take on turn based combat, is incredibly well made. Simply take the concept of normal turn-based combat and introduce the ability to freely bank your turns or take out a line of credit on extra turns changes combat in fun ways. Instead of a boss simply having access to powerful spells and a larger health pool, bosses and monsters can have unique behavioral patterns such as defaults a few turns before braving twice for extra powerful wipes. Wipes you can survive if you recognize the pattern, guard and default through the assault, then return the favor. After all, your dedicated healer doesn't have to waste turns simply defending. Healers in Bravely Default can bank their turns in order to perform emergency first aid from unexpected damage.
The last act may be tedious but that doesn't mean the combat is any less fun, the customization for jobs isn't any less interesting, and the characters are still enthralling despite the stall in story. I grew to love Agnes, Tiz, Ringabel, and Edea as well as the recurring cast of enemies with an incredible amount of depth. If beating an enemy summoner sounds simple, just wait until a piece of their back story is revealed as a painful drama you'd never be aware of unless you'd spank her in battle twice. And even if you don't take a liking to the canon drama, there's still the head canon you develop about your unique warriors of light, such as my Ringabel always being the chivalrous defender, Agnes being the compassionate healer, and Tiz being the reckless glass cannon. Edea for me was a variety of roles though, but she always looked good doing it.
Before Bravely Default came to us, JRPG seemed like a derogatory slander. But it singlehandedly proves that there's still room for a classic formula if you know how to pull it off. And thanks to that, there may be more where that came from yet with Bravely Second in our futures.
Since this game was first unveiled last year, I had not fully realized its conceit was basically the puzzle stages from Mario 3D World. All I knew was that this game is as charming as the devil himself. How could I resist the undaunted smile of Captain Toad?
In a world dominated by violence, shooters, and heavy themes, Treasure Tracker is the bright spot that isn't some childish baby game. It is a cheerful game that doesn't ask me to rush myself but rather take it all in. The fact that wrestling the camera around a diorama like stage is a testament to what the game sets out to achieve successfully. Slow down, smell the roses, explore your world, and take it easy. Don't expect to 100% a level on your first try. Enjoy it on your first run, and casually explore the nooks and crannies.
Those nooks are precisely why Treasure Tracker is a gift to me. There's tons of personality not only on the characters but the levels too. Each level is a unique diorama that presents a unique challenge like pressing buttons with the Double Cherry or float up and down a clear beachy basin to pull level triggers.
Come for Captain Toad but stay for the levels! At a budget price, it more than pays itself with charm alone.
Mario Kart 8 was our sneak preview to what to expect in enjoying Smash 4. We've had the same exact experience before but never before in such a compelling presentation. But I can't just say MK8 is incredible due to HD graphics and 60 frames per second.
Anti-grav karts aren't a cheap gimmick. Mario didn't just slap on Back to the Future hover wheels and call it a day. The track design is some of the most elaborate and creative I've ever seen. A track as simple as a circular loop is more interesting when half of it lifts itself completely vertical. You can ramp off jumps from a wall and land onto level track. And there's more than one track where you race against your rivals who are completely upside-down to you. Some of my favorite tracks are humongous speedway jams in one direction down a behemoth of a track like Mount Wario or Special Cup Rainbow Road. And anyone outside Nintendo's influence probably won't believe me when I say MK8 has an excellent soundtrack but you haven't lived until you've heard Mario Kart 8's rendition of Mute City. There's a saxophone and it goes completely bonkers.
Mario Kart is only the same experience to you if you keep a narrow view. The incredibly inventive track design, especially in redesigning retro tracks to include anti-grav segments, plus the completely redone music and orchestrated music, are the real treat of this installment of Nintendo's main stay kart racer.
Titanfall is a conundrum to me. I stopped playing really early but every memory I have of it was enjoyable. Scaling a high tower for the ultimate sniper perch, wallrunning into goons to lock on with a smart pistol, and completely running laps around fools with a Stryder while dropping electric smoke.
Titanfall never claimed to have good single player. I must have more in common with the rich than I thought because I think people with no internet are either mythical creatures or bottom feeding mud fish, just like how the rich don't care about the poor. But if it were up to me, I'd praise Titanfall for its nerve to focus on multiplayer and forgo a typical single player experience.
The real story is how Titanfall encourages players to run rather then camp, and the emergent gameplay that comes from moving around a map like there's a bomb strapped to your chest. Then when you get a Titan, it becomes MechWarrior but good. Strafe, punch, dash, gun, and missile your way to metal monstrosity bliss with a multitude of tools. Nothing to me is more fun than Stryder dashing into an Atlas, popping electric smoke, and dashing out to unload a Seattle storm front of Arc Cannon blasts while they fry in a blinding haze.
Something needs to be said about a multiplayer game capable of making the experience fun for terrible players. Bots ready to be picked off before your glorious Titan drops. And burn cards became an instant hit. Who cares about careful balance when you have a one time use privilege to whip out infinite cloak or bottomless satchel charges or a sniper rifle with x-ray vision?
In case you can't tell, Titanfall deserves to stay relevant. Advanced Warfare might have exo suits but Titanfall still has mechs, wallrunning, and burn cards.
A real close contender for top dog GOTY but I simply got started late. Even 6 to 8 hours in though I know Bayonetta 2 is basically the culmination of all of Platinum's hype-as-shit games and all of my skills as an action junkie. Of all of Platinum's titles, Bayonetta feels like the most cohesive package of pure, unadulterated hype and fun. I love all of Platinum's work but there's always something worth talking about (Vanquish's abrupt ending, lack of power creep in Revengeance, Wonderful 101 having a tough sell, Korra's camera work and slow start). Bayonetta 2 has awesome combos, meaningful weapon spreads, very manageable camera angles, and the presentation to compensate for the classic bonkers, indecipherable/who cares story. Even though story has always been something Platinum glazes over, Bayonetta gives us epic demon-angel struggles and time bending combat.
Games are supposed to be enjoyable when all is said and done and Bayo 2 is built from the ground up to be a pleasurable experience. Blazing fast action, gratuitous set pieces, a strong and hard-to-hate female lead, and controls that respond in an instant to the demanding setting. It helps that Bayonetta 2 is designed to reward good players as opposed to the Capcom philosophy of punishing bad players (Devil May Cry). There's something to be said when I finish a chapter and feel like I can do better and play it again. Racing games are supposed to be like that with time trials and leaderboards but Bayonetta 2 makes me want to push the boundaries of my skill and do better. I can do this scenario with one less hit, a few seconds faster, and eventually I'm on my way to trying for a perfect run with zero damage and seamless combos. It helps that I'll have fun experimenting with different weapons, different moves, and different combos across a wide range of punching bags that fight back.
Bayonetta 2, truly Nintendo did us a huge solid that no one has yet to thank them for. Thank you for coming into our lives Bayonetta 2. And thank you Nintendo for saving this title.
Easily the most silent 3DS release on this or any list. Azure Striker is basically the new Mega Man from Mega Man himself, Keiji Inafune. Azure Striker capitalizes on its newfound introduction with a unique attack: his buster shots are weak but tag potential targets. Gunvolt can release a weak pulse of electricity around him but when there are tagged enemies, electricity automatically arcs to them for constant damage. You can tag multiple enemies for multiple arcs or one enemy several times to stack the damage. Combined with familiar Mega Man design aesthetics but with a revamped approach to accommodate Gunvolt's unique method of attack and you have something that's enjoyable as a fan of the blue bomber without feeling like I'm just playing more Mega Man.
Even though your skill set is built with a method to negate damage as long as you have electricity and you have a way to instantly recharge your meter, the game still finds ways to challenge you despite some perceived imperviousness. Like true Mega Man games though, levels are designed to really encourage you to push your skill to the limits in order to score record setting points, break times, and encourage you on a combat system that is built to ask yourself just how you're going to go about doing it.
Gunvolt isn't afraid of presentation either. Boss masters are fully voiced and have dramatic introductions and attack patterns, reminiscent of over the top fight animes. It sounds goofy to describe one boss' attack is called Lazy Laser and he actually calls out its name before attacking but it won't be as goofy when you realize he just sits back while he causes a huge ass laser beam to cover the whole screen by way of crisscrossing dimensional portals. But that's alright because you have your own super powerful, limited use attacks to use as well, right down to your own attack call out animations.
While the lore and story are a bit stupid, what Mega Man story is smart? As far as I'm concerned though, games like Gunvolt and Mega Man are about the relationship between you, the stage, and the boss characters, and Gunvolt accomplishes this very well without even needing to be considered a full retail game.
Broforce is simple in conceit, ridiculous in practice, and just plain fun when you play it yourself. What if your favorite action movie heroes got thrown into a pulpy, cheesy action set piece and shot their way through hundreds of vaguely defined terrorists while pulling off all their iconic moves like a burst firing Auto9 or bare fisted kung fu strikes through hordes of identical enemies?
Can you argue Broforce is shallow? Maybe. But when I get to set people on fire as B.A. Baracus or shred people with Ash's chainsaw arm, what else is there to ask for? I find that I hate PC gaming because bigger properties of course demand more time. This is paradoxical to how I feel when I get on a PC because I want experiences quickly without waiting too much. I want to enjoy Super Time Force Ultra's zany humor but I can't fast read through its hilarious but tedious textboxes. It's either read it slowly for its effect or skip it entirely. Broforce rectifies this need for a fast and furious arcade experience by making all its humor occur incidentally with the game itself. How enemies squeal in fright when they fall long distances, how everything gets reduced to a bloody pulp from excessive gun fire, how corny and deep the voice of the announcer is, and how checkpoints are marked with patriotic American flags and the goal line is marked by killing a suit wearing devil.
Another comparison to Super Time Force is how it handles character select. There's a curve to getting how STFU works with its character select and time reversing mechanics. But Broforce challenges you to be a true bro and just gives you a random bro when you rescue POWs. Does that sound unfair? At their core, each bro has an insane way of plowing through dozens of nameless terrorists and robots, whether it's a spray of machine guns or spamming dynamite all over the battlefield. The greatest fun is finding out who you got and what kind of mayhem you'll be spreading like an STD in a 70's backstage party. Will it be Brobocop's lock-on bullets? Or Brommando's missile barrage? What about Mr. Anderbro's bullet time? Did I mention the hilarious shock value of seeing your favorite action heroes' names twisted with bro? Brobocop is obviously my favorite but Blade becoming Brade must be simeltaneously dumb and great. And Indiana Brones? For some reason I think that's pure genius.
An under represented 3DS game. While its certainly still the easy Kirby game everyone expects, it can be surprisingly challenging in certain sections. The hidden levels and some bosses can genuinely push you and some puzzles will make you scratch your head. Not a lot of course, or even the majority. The real draw for me is charm, like Captain Toad.
Each stage has something new to introduce you to and feels like a fresh experience, even if its going to be easy. Not to mention the 3D effect is actually somewhat worthwhile which is a compliment not a lot of 3DS games get. Being specifically designed with a Mutant Mudds style of background/foreground 3D is cool but the fact that background elements will also actively interact with foreground elements is cool to see in action, such as when you're carrying an electrified pole that extends into the background. You'll even need the 3D sometimes to judge depth in certain fights and puzzles.
Triple Deluxe also carries a criminal amount of bonus content that's borderline Smash levels of extra. Hundreds of keychains to collect that celebrate Kirby's history, boss rush mode, Kirby Fighters, Dedede's Drum Dash, and even a full on Dedede mode to time trial in as King Dedede himself. The brand new variety of powers also lends itself a level of care and favoritism while each power has its own level of use and interest. The archer is extremely useful but there's no discounting the leaf or bell powers either.
I am the biggest hypocrite in the world. I actually do like Dynasty Warriors but I already knew that because I liked the first Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Still, not many care about Chinese period history. Finally playing as Impa and Samurai Showdowning 40 enemies at once with a giant's knife quickdraw special attack is ridiculous and fun. Watching established Zelda character just mow down armies should just be a shameless, awesome bullet point to alleviate all the stress that comes from arguing about how little Zelda games have changed but how much we still like it. It's notable to mention that Hyrule Warriors' DLC plan has been nuts too. True Form Midna? Epona as a weapon? Link in hot pants? Jesus Christ.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sappire
I've played this game last year. No, actually, 12 years ago. But battling eco-terrorists who think its a good idea to awaken climate changing monsters has its own little charm, especially when they give it a major contemporary face lift with characters like a smug, battle hungry pirate or a computer nerd fascist who threatens to bury you. Seeing new mega evolutions amongst the likes of Swampert and Metagross are also their own little small victories (steel-type's coming back yo!). Not to mention being the first Pokemon game available post-bank which let me enjoy the story in a unique way with all the low level Pokemon I'd kept but never got around to leveling up.
It's still basically Pokemon XY though. At least XY had major metagame shifts. This remake only brought minor shifts due to the resurgence of old move tutors. But you don't care that I can finally teach Storm Drain-Cradily Seed Bomb, do you?
Metal Gear Rising: Revengance
Thanks to the magic of sales, I played Platinum's last big game before Bayonetta 2 this year. I mentioned it in the Bayonetta entry but while I absolutely and unconditionally love Revengeance, there's never much incentive to purchase new combos or weapons asides from upgrades to health and blade mode. The boss weapons, though interesting, don't really hold a candle to simply keeping your sword and using its heavy attack to slip that sword in between your toes for some crazy foot-sword slicing absurdity. Your combos won't change too much compared to what you can unlock in Bayonetta.
I must emphasize though that though I'm saying all this for a game that isn't even from 2014, slicing fools with a hype-inducing high frequency blade, using blade mode to mincemeat anyone not on your side, engaging insane boss encounters, and generally leaving a path of destruction as a cyber ninja is truly the video game equivalent of cranking the 10 point dial to 11.
Super Mario 3D World
It's Mario. Whatever. I played it this year, not last. But they know what they're doing. Besides, cats are awesome.
3:53 AM on 12.22.2014
A great gift to me is something that qualifies the phrase, "the gift that keeps on giving." And what better gift is there that has more to give then what it initially offers then a good old fashioned fighting game? 2008 sounds so recent but it was six whole years ago. But 2008 was the release of Street Fighter IV and the proof of concept that fighting games weren't just a fad in the late 90's. It was a time of new blood. When Street Fighter II first made a splash, it damn well dried out the pool despite other big series starting up around it like Mortal Kombat and King of Fighters. But the pool reopened in 2008 and they even installed a water slide baby!
I was watching YouTube videos of Japanese arcades obsessively in class when I should have been paying attention. I sunk hours flunking Street Fighter IV's challenges and online lobbies. I got good with Blazblue, with their comprehensive starter guides that came packed in as DVDs. When a new fighter announced, released, overlooked, I found the hype. When SFIV singlehandedly jump started the long dead fighting game genre, it also stirred memories of classic games in the following years like how indie games patterned after classic games are now. And where most games will feel won and done in a month or two, DLC forgiving, fighting games have a meta that evolves and changes over an expanse of time, rejuvenating it sometimes. Fighting games used to be just another genre for me before, but when 2008 came, everything changed. Fighting games are a culture to me now.
Take Taiwan's Gamerbee for example. While characters like Akuma or Cammy were common sights back then, Gamerbee made a powerful showing with Adon of all characters. Now it's not as if Capcom directly responds to balance via what happens in major tournament, so even after EVO 2012, Adon was mechanically the same as before. But Gamerbee provided a proof of concept for Adon's capability and his usage became ever slightly higher after that. Heck, I gave Adon a try after seeing Gamerbee in action. All the zeitgeist needs is one particular show of impressive skill and showmanship and the shape of a game can change completely.
But there are also the endless references and moments that fighting games are so famous for. Dark Phoenix was once thought to be the plague of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and while her usage has gone down due to her risk, her power as Dark Phoenix is still very real. When Ageojoe fought Filipino Champ during Final Round XV, Joe was particularly known for running with a somewhat unconventional team consisting of Viewtiful Joe, Rocket Racoon, and Frank West. But Joe proved that actions speak louder than goofy gimmicks because he beat Filipino Champ with weird tech not once, but twice. First was a genius move with Frank using a combination of Barrel Roll's invulnerable frames and Funny Face Smasher to utterly annihilate Dark Phoenix in one shot. Second was a goofy mistake on Champ's part when he forgets about Rocket's Mad Hopper trap and loses in the most hilarious fashion possible.
And of course the title is an homage to Combofiend's infamous exploits with Spencer from Bionic Commando and his spectacularly versatile Bionic Lancer hyper combo, better known as the bona fide Bionic Arm. I liked playing Spencer before when he was relatively unknown but when Combofiend demonstrated to the world what Spencer was capable of, there was no doubt that his usage shot through the roof for the relatively simple powerhouse with the wife arm. There are a lot of moments worth mentioning from a variety of games like wombo combo, Tokido's real life raging demon, Smash Bros. Melee raising money for charity, and Mango Sentinel. A tournament even runs called Curleh Mustache!
I've written about fighting games before. They are an endless thrill. I've thrown hours into training mode for all sorts of games. I've experienced the mad cap pace of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. I've played Skullgirls with my girlfriend with through the ubiquity of Steam. I've played countless runbacks with my friends on Persona 4 Arena, Blazblue: CS, Smash Brothers, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Thank you fighting games. You aren't just fun, but also a bridge to meeting people. I've befriended countless people, both life long and casual. There's always someone I know personally or something from Dtoid that I know I can hit up for the occasional test of might. Even jumping into random matchmaking can sometimes leave me feeling satisfied just as Ryu from Street Fighter would be: conferring to each other our passion of fighting games by exchanging blows and virtually beating each other senseless. Countless unranked lobbies and connections, where there were no hard feelings, or maybe someone was mad salty. Maybe I decide to take Zangief or Kanji out for a spin and they decided randomly to try Juri or Yukiko. Maybe I never wised up to the constant reversals and DPs and lost far more health than I should have. Even in the harshest of conditions, against someone I have no real method of communication with, pride just falls by the wayside and I decide to play as some weird Jigglypuff I have in my pocket or Chipp Zanuff. Winning is great but if no one's having fun than what's the point? That's why at some point I just forget about any win ratio and start goofing off with Viewtiful Joe or Gold Lightan.
This season, its all about Smash, possibly the best example of just jumping into For Glory, playing a few rounds to measure each other's skill, then just the inevitable moment when you stop caring about seriously winning and just starting playing random new characters like Zelda or Wario. Merry Christmas to you all, and season's beatings!
1:12 PM on 12.11.2014
Whenever a new legendary is introduced, it's usually assumed that it'll fall into one of two tiers of power: OverUsed, which means its powerful and popular to use in team building, and ubers, which means its too powerful for normal play and only deserves to fighting against other ubers. For those of you who don't know, not all Pokemon are obviously made equal. Masquerain is a cute little Pokemon but its base stat total flats at 414 while Arceus, the god of Pokemon, sits at 720. Over the life of the Pokemon metagame there have been contenders who obviously held certain advantages that made team building easy. After all, why struggle thinking of good teammates to support a steel-type like Aggron with his slow, bulky ass when you can just slap Agility on Metagross and call it a day? But some Pokemon have it way easier than others. At least Metagross has checks and counters to switch away from. He's not like a snowball who becomes impossible to stop if you give him a chance.
Mega Rayquaza has the unique distinction and precedent of being the first Pokemon Smogon has banned from ubers. That's right: Mega Rayquaza has been banned from the normal play of a tier that is considered to be too strong for normal play. Part of this is from Mega Rayquaza's ridiculous base stat total, which is 780. Arceus, a deity in the Pokemon world, is a whole 60 points short. And while both Mega Mewtwo forms can tie Mega Rayquaza in the numbers department, Mega Rayquaza has one other ace in the whole: a unique mega evolution trigger. The Mega Mewtwos need to hold their respective mega stones to mega evolve, leaving behind options like choice items to instantly boost their power or leftovers for passive health regen. Mega Rayquaza only needs to know the move Dragon Ascent in order to mega evolve, being explained that Rayquaza was the first Pokemon to mega evolve after eating juicy meteorites for breakfast to support the rest of its immortal life filled with vitamin OP.
Afraid that your opponent is going to run away with a clean sweep? Bring out your bulkiest wall and cripple them! It's why I always have a Rotom or Gourgeist ready to take a hit and Will-o-wisp. But I'm afraid there ain't a wall alive that can live through Mega Rayquaza if it's absolutely armed to the teeth. Dragon Ascent is 120 BP, 180 BP when you consider STAB, flying off the handle from a 180 ATK stat and flinging itself out of orbit with items like Life Orb or Choice Band offering an instant 30 or 50% boost to ATK respectively. Something like that would overkill something like Charizard twice over. Mega Rayquaza's stats combined with the option to hold items lets it punch straight through the roof that is the sky and climb straight into the stratosphere.
Mega Blaziken can earn quite a few nicknames depending on who you ask: Destroyer of Worlds, The Mountain Crusher, Sky Cleaver, or That Damn Flaming Chicken. Mega Blaziken is a great representative of the general philosophy of what happens when you give a mega evolution too many tools to build up an unbeatable steam explosion.
Technically, Blaziken with Life Orb is said to have more raw kicking power. But Mega Blaziken is certainly easier to implement. Just mega evolve, swords dance, and if your opponent failed to kill you in that turn while Speed Boost kicks in, you win unless you hit the 10% miss chance a few times in a row. Obviously you can stop it with the likes of Azumarill but then that means you're putting an Azumarill on every team you plan because of your crippling PSTD induced flashbacks of when the damn bird crushed you under his foot, literally.
Mega Kangaskhan is just like Mega Blaziken, but worse to deal with in some aspects. What if you could simeltaneously attack and use Swords Dance? That's Parental Bond plus Power-up Punch for you, letting Mega Kangaskhan duplicate its attack. You know what's worst? Mega Kangaskhan has Sucker Punch for priority. Want to kill it with priority of your own? Not before it royally screws you over, if you can kill it at all.
Look, I love mega evos as an exciting new mechanic. While its like giving a 9-year-old a nuke in his back pocket, it gives all the relevant 9-year-olds nukes and creative teams still have ingenuity plus a nuke. Personally I like Mega Pinsir but he's still fragile beyond his destructive power. But there are of course a handful of megaa who were suspect tested to ubers and everyone has a story to tell. Mega Gengar? Shadow Tagged your ace didn't it? Mega Salamence? It's unfair how it gets boosted offense and defense. A lot of megas simply fit this bill of absurdly powerful headache. Not all mind you, and I still love megas in general, but try not to panic when Mega Charizard Y rolls in with Drought.
Remember Pokemon Red and Blue? Alakazam remembers! Can you believe there was a time when Alakazam rules the metagame? Back then, times were simple and made less sense. Special was one stat, governing attack and defense of special attacks like Surf and Thunderbolt and psychic-types had no natural enemy. If you didn't take the time out to train a simple Abra into the number one champion of Kanto then you simply didn't care, obviously.
Not only did Alakazam have high special attack, but since it was one stat back then, it could shrug off Surf from Starmie or Thunderbolt from Gengar. Oh, Gengar? His only ghost attack back then was Lick and it didn't even work properly against psychic-types. Remember on the OG cartoon show where Ash was recommended to catch a ghost-type in order to beat Sabrina and her Kadabra? That advice was tantamount to sabotage because while Haunter and Gengar were all well and good as special attackers, being part Poison-type was a liability against Kadabra simply using a STAB boosted Psychic. The only checks against Alakazam are Pokemon that can't really do much against Alakazam like Starmie or Chansey but the checks go both ways; neither one of them can really hurt Alakazam so much as Alakazam doesn't really hurt them.
Man, Ash is the worst Pokemon Trainer ever.
Legendaries and ubers are normally off the table when I want to talk about annoyingly powerful Pokemon because of course an uber is powerful. But Kyogre is special to mention for not only being powerful but automatically making an entire team built around Lyogre powerful. Back before gen VI reared its grotesque head, the gen V landscape was covered with more water than a Perfect Storm sequel. Since Drizzle and Drought were permament weather effects back then, Kyogre made a handful of water Pokemon unbelievably strong just by stopping by and asking his neighbors if they had any sugar before popping back home.
Kyogre was as bulky as you'd imagine a supernatural orca to be, but with its rain, everyone would get acquainted with abilities like Swift Swim and Hydration. Kingdra, Kabutops, Omastar, and Floatzel are just a handful of Swift Swimmers that encouraged the combo of Drizzle + Swift Swim to be banned from OU. Kingdra moving first means having free reign to abuse its typing and power on anything not built to taking punishment. Meanwhile Vaporeon, Toxicroak, and Manaphy could wall and stall thanks to the rain keeping them healthy. 1/3 health left? Vaporeon used Rest! Full health recovery and a rainy wake up call! Toxicroak doesn't even need to waste turns on recovery. Toxic Sludge and Dry Skin passive recovery gives him like, 1/6 of his total health back every turn. Even without a rain-centric ability, getting a 50% boost to attacks like Surf, Scald, and Hydro Pump will hurt regardless of resistances. Not to mention making Thunder and Hurricane 100% accurate, which makes throwing a check to block your water-types riskier with powerful attacks like those blowing past bulky waters and grass-type counters, among others.
I mentioned Azumarill before as an important check to the mega metagame but that of course means you'll be seeing a lot of that water mouse too by virtue of people trying to keep the megas under control. Azumarill isn't just good at checking megas though. Natural bulk, an ability that makes his mediocre ATK really good, and access to STAB priority in Aqua Jet makes dealing with Azumarril with anything that can't take a strong hit a real headache. Azumarill is one of my favorite examples in what a diverse array of sets and items can do to make predicting attacks hard. I prefer Choice Band to hit hard right off the bat and switch him in and out like a pocket rocket but people can bluff Choice sets by spamming a strong move, especially against specific Pokemon who are so weak that you're unsure of the damage calculations. Azumarill can also wear an Assault Vest, shrugging off attacks it would normally fear like Thunderbolt while its typing lets it power through most other attacks others would worry about like Hi Jump Kick or Outrage.
Azumarill is an example of gen VI's reliance on priority. Aegislash, the steel/ghost sword Pokemon can safely boost with Swords Dance while in shield form and can even boost twice if you're confident in its defenses. Most sets will then spam Shadow Sneak for priority and you'd be amazed how much a STAB 40 BP attack will hurt after +4 ATK. Then he can stop physical attackers cold in their tracks if they make contact with his signature King's Shield defensive move. Not to mention Aegislash is known to be physical then once in every blue moon you get thrown through a loop by a special attacking Shadow Ball user.
Talonflame is another priority abuser and while its not necessarily super bulky, the fact that its ability Gale Wings adds +1 priority to all flying-type moves, Talonflame sets are extremely diverse but united under the fact that Talonflame will always move first. Choice Band set? Brave Bird hurts a lot. Life Orb set? Now he can Roost off Life Orb damage. Bulk Up set? Hard to kill when Roost goes first. But all of them have a STAB 120 BP attack ready to go before anything else. Not to mention having automatic priority means your EV training spread can be diverse. Bulk in defenses? Why not? All in attack and HP? Ok! Speed means nothing until you're worried about... Azumarill, again.
Do you have certain Pokemon you dread to face in battle? Tyranitar bringing in constant sandstorms. Slowbro walling physical hits and using Regenerator to switch out and regain health. Garchomp and his speedy little STAB Earthquakes? Let me know in the comments what you groan at seeing in battle online and with friends. My friends back in gen V probably grew to hate my rain supported Omastar.
1:29 AM on 12.05.2014
There are a lot of great series out there with seemingly inexplicable staying power despite one of their bullet points being, "Don't change too much."
I just beat Pokemon Alpha Sapphire after a long binge on it. I played it at home, during breaks at work, and even after Thanksgiving dinner. After having beaten the Delta Episode (with still Battle Resort to go!), I felt like putting my thoughts down on what was one of the most impressive Pokemon adventures I've had yet. Remember, this is coming from a long time Pokemon fan who's played the game since Red/Blue back in 1998.
Impressive flare and presentation
Even when X and Y came out, with its introduction of a full 3D engine on the 3DS, it was still definitnely a Pokemon game in certain aspects. While characters and gym leaders come and go, there's no splash or staying power. Remember Grant? I bet you don't but he's the gym leader in X and Y who was the Rock-type trainer. So naturally his characterization was a rock climber! HAHAHA. Meh.
Here's one of my favorites though and his name is Crasher Wake (Japanese name: MAXIMUM MASK). Yeah, you don't even find out his real name. He wears an insane mask like a luchador and is a Water-type gym leader. Water can only be jazzed up so many times and when it is, it's usually a swimmer or a diver, but Crasher Wake is memorable because he dresses up like a wrestler because he's going to freaking pummel you like tidal wave. Now that's character design and presentation.
It's nice to see that since we're dealing with a game who's source material is over 10 years old, Game Freak has gone through the trouble of adding some extra pizzaz to the game. Flannery straight up shouts at you like she's panicking at a public speaking session and Norman is downright bushido when you meet with him and he's canonically you're father. And I've already mentioned the rise of Wally leading up to your fateful showdown in Victory Road. That battle truly took me by surprise and ranks as one of my favorite moments in Pokemon now.
But it's much more than the characters though. X and Y had your usual pedestrian camera views and perspectives. Black and White was the last game to offer something unique with Castelia City's sprawling diorama presentation of its huge skyline and docks. But in ORAS, a great deal of attention has gone into giving your typical Pokemon experience a cinematic experience. Close ups on sprites, pans on characters in their full body, a view of important landmarks and strangely emotive characters which all the more makes your typically unemotive trainer stand out.
By the time I had finished the Elite 4 and gotten through the Delta Episode, I walked away thinking that the package as a whole would definitely be one of the most memorable for a Pokemon fan. From encountering your cover legendary, battling unique trainers in 3D, and journeying to Ever Grande City, the whole experience was suitably epic.
Everything old, new again
I thought I'd feel deja vu picking one of the old Hoenn starters again but for some reason, seeing my Mudkip grow and evolve despite having a Swampert in X and Y still felt like I was growing a brand new Pokemon rather than one I felt like I've seen before. I guess things really are different in 3D now, because seeing all my favorites from the Hoenn region in 3D in this new metagame felt less deja vu and more an exciting new adventure.
I decided to use Pokemon Bank but I didn't cheat all the way through. I only used Pokemon near the same level as my current party and most of them were Pokemon from Black and White's old Dream World with their hidden abilities. Not only could I experience the Hoenn adventure in 3D with old Pokemon but I got to play around with new toys firsthand like a Fighting-type sumo Pokemon, Makuhita, using Sheer Force to sacrifice extra effects for more power. Or the fossil plant Lileep with Storm Drain, completely shutting down any member of Team Aqua I came across.
Everything worth complaining about
I will say up front that the long dreaded water routes have either been compressed or they weren't as bad as I remembered. I certainly had a Sharpedo to surf on to speed up the whole process (surfing on Sharpedo is faster than normal) but any route travelling north is a ridiculous trudge. Before hitting Lavaridg Town to reach the fire gym, you make close to an entire loop around the mountain before the game lets you hit the cable car up. Then there's the route to Fortree City which is fraught with rain, grass, trainers, and more rocky trails than you can shake a Bidoof at. Hoenn's water ways feel compressed but there sure is a whole lot of nothing in the countryside in between traveling to gyms for matches and discovering an eco-terrorism plot.
Speaking of a whole lot of nothing, it's weird they revealed the inclusion of the Delta Episode as a big part of promotions but not Battle Resort, especially considering the weight of what each represents. You'll most likely be testing real teams at Battle Resort and grind out battle points for important battle items like the choice items but it's not really mentioned in promotional materials. On the other hand, the Delta Episode is a long slog of fetch quests and rendevous without a lot of pay off asides from a few mind blowing lines. The impact the Delta Episodes implies with the fact that we're playing a remake that's discovered mega evolution while the original source obviously did not is truly a curious case that's worth mentioning but it's not worth an hour of flying back and forth between locations to trigger story events without so much as a meaningful battle.
Yes, the exclusion of trainer customization is a big blow, but a lot of the other features do a lot to make up like BuzzNav locating variants that come with egg moves and the new social aspect of Secret Bases. But hopefully the next Pokemon won't be weighed down by legacy to consider bringing trainer customization back with hopefully more to bring to the table for male trainers. Since I thought the male trainer in ORAS looks goofy, I played as the cute female trainer recognized as May in anime adaptations but named her after my girlfriend, just to keep a root in reality for creativity's sake.
But that's all there is I have to say for now. Pokemon will likely be on my mind for a long time coming. From talking about our favorite teams and who we'd have as a gym leader to one interesting topic about how powerful Mega Rayquaza is but for now I think it's safe to say that I've gotten my thoughts out well enough for someone who's played the latest Pokemon game after playing pretty much every Pokemon RPG game before it.
12:23 PM on 11.17.2014
I'm just glad to be on my damn computer again. For three whole days, I've had none of my regular Internet access. The only way I could connect to the net was through my phone's 4G LTE connection. That explains the comments I've left during the time I've described and why I haven't done much else. Despite paying for unlimited data, I feel guilty about relying on my phone's 4G to do things like watch YouTube when I used to do it off wifi. I wasn't motivated to do anything on my laptop since I had no Internet. No syncing with Evernote, which is where I like to do most of my creative work, no online matchmaking for games like Smash, no Miiverse to see posts on Mario 3D World, no wifi to properly watch all my streaming like Hulu, Netflix, or Crunchyroll. I'm so behind on my usual show watching schedule. I'm only posting this now because I'm currently at school bumming off their wifi. I still needto wait on a technician from my ISP to deal with my modem which seems to be on the fritz. Last thing I managed to watch was Parasyte, which at least featured the turning point that I knew I was going to love. I don't even mind posting on Monday because as we're all familiar with now, Smurf constantly has stuff going on keeping him from recapping Mondays. I wasn't always a recapper and was always mindful of what day I was posting due to what recapper (hey Wednesday cbloggers! Whatever!). But before I get into Parasyte...
Birthday art attack
Look at this neat little diddy. 4 weeks ago, a week before my girlfriend's birthday, I commissioned an old art friend of mine to draw something I had pictured in my mind for my girlfriend's birthday. What if for her birthday, I gave her her very first Pokemon? So I brainstormed a piece of art with my friend.
I think the female trainer from Black/White had a great wardrobe, possibly my favorite of any female trainer. As for me, my favorite gen wasthe RSE gen, so I opted for the male Emerald trainer getup. Cosplaying as trainers would be cool for a Pokemon oriented piece of art. Igave my friend her choice of my favorite Pokemon to feature as my helper, either Aron or Makuhita. Their base forms make more sense in interacting whereas Aggron and Hariyama are much too big to be intimate helpers, because I knew I'd want to give my girlfriend an Eevee! After all those specified details, the rest wasup to my friend's artist liberties. After all,just giving my girlfriend a Pokeball that has an Eevee would be lame.
We're now both using it as our phone wallpapers. After asking Mike Turvey of Dtoid fame for a Dtoid crew picture, it was a bit jarring going back to my friend for a more analog commission that she had to scan in compared to Mike's all digital, high-rez art. But in the end it all turned out quite well!
I always knew the Pikmin series was good. I played the first one and knew it was good. But it was never a beloved series to me. It's just one of Nintendo's greats. Since the demo came out recently, I figured, why not? I didn't expect to be so enthralled by it though, even being sold on it. I want Pikmin 3 now.
Could it be that Pikmin 3 has a great deal more personality? The way Alph and Brittany talk to each other in the demo and their reactions to meeting the Pikmin was cute and fun. Pikmin 3 is undoubtedly more natural than the previous two well. While Pikmin 1 and 2 has various manmade treasures with hints of a disappeared humanity, Pikmin 3 is much more about the gentle beauty of nature and harvesting juicy fruits. A lime is called a Zesty Bomb after all. I'd forgotten how endearing it is for alien life to name our everyday household marvels.
Apparently there are different control schemes? Because the demo locks you into Gamepad mode, with your left hand using the stick and L-trigger exclusively while your hand handles the stylus on the touch screen. I found this control scheme very natural though. I liked it even more than Pikmin 2's Wiimote pointing control scheme.
Parasyte: The Maxim spoilers
The most interesting thing about Parasyte is the questioning of one's humanity. Shinichi assertshe is undeniably human and that the aliens could never understand what separates us from normal animals. As the series progresses though, we're left to question what humanity means. Mysterious observer Reiko Tamura is a keenly scientific parasite who willing has sex with another alien-human host for an experiment that proves that while Reiko may be an alien, she is pregnant with what should be a perfectly normal human. Later on nearing the end, Shinichi meets a serial killer who is human but is irreconcilably inhuman in how he views life.
In the latest episode of Parasyte, its apparent that in order to save Shinichi from bleeding out, Migi's lifesaving procedure cause celluar bits of Migi to shave off and be absorbed by Shinichi's body. The end result is Migi's sleep cycle becoming a crucially deeper state of hibernation and Shinichi becoming something a little different than a superhuman.
Its been hinted through the series up to this point that Shinichi's humanity isn't as pure as he thinks it is. People sense and instinctively back away from some dark, frightening presence inside of Shinichi whenever he's backed into a corner. Particularly acute people ocassionally ask Shinichi if, "He really is Shinichi Izumi?" Like he somehow seems like a different person.
Now that Shinichi's mother is dead and he's merged with Migi, the series will really pick up like in the manga. Shinichi gains a drive of revenge against the parasites. He simultaneously becomes more confident in his abilities and more detached from his friends and family. I cannot wait to see the anime adaptation of the finale!
1:57 AM on 11.05.2014
Did you guys hear about these new consoles? They're called the Xbox One and the PS4, in honor of their predecessors: The one true ring, said to bear the mysterious markings of a box with an X in it and Paul Sabbur IV, the greatest war chief a small village in Ubekistan had ever known. Apparently with the name power of these great achievements alone has allowed these next-gen consoles to really bloom.
You know what's not next-gen? The Wii U. You know what I bought on impulse after finally chucking my Xbox 360? The Wii U. Think Nintendo is/was/has been dead? Long live Nintendo.
I walking into my Best Buy, knowing it would give me the best value for my Xbox. I also consciously went there because 1) my eBay account was mysteriously and unceremoniously slapped with demerits keeping me from selling and 2) they were giving me $40 more on the trade in then other places. I had intended on just going in, getting the credit, and waiting out for Black Friday deals. But I decided to browse around after getting $115 for my entire shabang and low and behold, I saw it: the Wii U Deluxe bundle with Mario 3D World. After that, it was all a haze and next thing I knew, I was standing outside with a Wii U in my arms and a $200 dent in my credit card. I was suddenly overcome by great awe, guilt, and excitement. The last time I made a big purchase was a 3DS for my girlfriend and that purchase still lingers on in my statements as a crater representing how much money I could have without altering my spending habits. And now I've done it again on one of the most impulsive purchases I'd ever done. I seriously saw it, realized how rare a chance it was to see this bundle in stock for once, and just snapped it up. I have to start fasting soon if I actually want to earn a profit.
There are a lot of people who are the type who will ask, "Why on Earth did you ditch your perfectly good, working, Xbox 360?" To answer that question, I'm a very pragmatic gamer. Sure, if I held onto every game I'd ever owned, I'd have a rather substantial collection. But despite years of resenting my mother for telling me to throw out stuff that takes up space which I don't use, and being a pack rat who likes to keep a few little knick-knacks here and there, I've still developed a habit of keeping my space tidy and cutting off the fat so to speak. I have to face facts that no matter how much I love the Mass Effect series or how expansive an experience Skyrim is, their time in my rotation has passed. There may be a lot of DLC I haven't played in Skyrim but I can't go back to that game after having played a more recent stable of games. I played Shadow Complex some 6 odd years ago and I don't feel the need to revisit it. Even more reason on multiplayer focused games like Street Fighter IV or Injustice; online communities ebb and flow with relevance and immediacy. Playing Person 4 Arena within a month of release means you'll find people reasonably within your skill range of crappy to extremely competent. The older a game gets though, the more the audience matures and changes. Newbs get better and pros hone their craft while noobs eventually get tired of losing and get weeded out. Months after release, you'll be playing matches ranging between fair to getting curb stomped.
Time to face facts: new stuff is going to the more socially relevant consoles while publishers are doing a weird transition of cross-generational games in an effort of making shiny new games while keeping their old install base happy. The best solution to this problem is of course, to invest in a console that's still receiving new games without any weird circumstances. A console that's still technically the previous gen that is! But it doesn't stop at the prospect of brand new games like Yoshi's Wooly World or Captain Toad. There are a ton of Wii games I slept on since selling my Wii due to my faltering faith in the old system. For example, I can finally play Okami, the best game you've never played! Or Muramasa, the most beautiful game not in HD. And even Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, which despite it not having online service would still be a hoot among friends.
I think many people can agree that Nintendo has our nostalgia sense by the balls. The Xbox and Halo is a great game, but that doesn't change the fact that many of us probably grew up wasting our childhood hours on Super Mario World or Kirby Superstar or something further back. If you're waxing nostalgic on a game like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you're not thinking back far enough or you're exceptionally young to my exceptionally old.
The Wii U and Nintendo is such a conundrum. On one hand, it's so bass ackwards and slow on the uptake on things I've taken for granted like online functionality and connectivity, media playback, and account consolidation. On the other hand, Nintendo stuff is so purely about fun without the extra stuff. There's less concern about DLC, season passes, and content gating. Perhaps in the simplicity of the software architecture, there's no space to implement some of the more insidious content wringing practices like content being locked away on disc. There are so many hoops to see if your friends are online so you can play together and yet I'm playing Super Mario 3D World with a big stupid grin of enjoyment. I can either tune my TV to play Nintendo games in HD, which is a selling point as we're maybe nine years past the widespread adoption of HDTVs, or I can keep my TV tuned to something like Regular Show while I play on my Gamepad.
I don't know if I'm jaded to it all or if there truly isn't anything that interests me on other consoles. For every game I'm mildly interested in which is cross-generational like Farcry 4 or even some geniunely interesting next-genners like Sunset Overdrive, there are games I am not interested in pursuing currently in like Shadow of Mordor or Assassin's Creed Unity and god know's what else is on the horizon. I cannot adequetely explain why I am so interested in Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker but fuck it all, I want that casual ass fun looking game. Look at him fucking run, collecting diamonds, and shout with all the genuine emotion of fun in the world.
12:37 AM on 10.30.2014
Warning: As with any scary game, most will want to experience the spookiness fresh, without spoilers. The following will totally spoil Eversion in its entirety. Note that I'm so much of a scaredy cat that I still derived an amount of fun after hearing mild spoilers of the game but for purists, you should totally just play the game now. It's a cheap and quick thrill. You can probably beat it in a half-hour and come back to read this.
Cold, hard, lies.
Horror and I have an awkward relationship. I can't stand tension, dread, suspense, or the scaries. That rising heartbeat, the tensing of the muscles, leading up to an explosive outburst with a rush of adrenaline is something real horror fans thrive off of. That palpable feeling of terror is like a drug for most but I'm no addict baby, no siree. I ain't about that wacky tobacky Jack. I'm clean and sober and also a pussy, you see gee? Please don't scare me.
Resident Evil 4 is about the only game that's even remotely close to horror and we all know RE4 struck a balance between pants goldmine cave-in and Die Hard that only saw the balance slide in favor of Die Hard: The Musical. Any horror game people talk up, I simply look it up on YouTube and derive a poor, sad sense of satisfaction knowing that watching it is as far as I want to go, rather than play it and feel the dark clench of evil wrap around me like a slow fear fart creeping out of my cheeks. I stay out of horror's way and horror stays out of my way, you dig cat? It helps that horror is very clear in marketing: Silent Hill has deep, foggy covers, Resident Evil has gritty, dirty color schemes, and Outlast is just a disturbed mind trapped in night vision mode. So imagine how perplexed I was when I take a gander at a friend's Steam review of Eversion.
Huh? Lovecraft? With rainbow font?
Eversion's box art completely ignores the common traits many horror games use to indicate that it is indeed a spoopy game for people who want a spoopy time. The preview image is bright, cutesy, and is in no way threatening unless such a colorful palette was able to give you diabetes. What really doesn't add up is that you'll see this preview image first, then see the tags to confirm what kind of game it is. Is it a platformer? Yes. Is it indie? Yes. Is it Lovecraftian? Whoa, hold on a sec Jimmy, you lost me there. Did you just say Lovecraftian? And horror? This is just the start of our descent into the rabbit hole. The game doesn't begin at start for me. It started at the sales page where my senses tell me Mario rip-off but my eyes seem to be playing tricks on me. How does a game that uses as many pixels as the average NES game become a horror experience?
Turns out, less is more.
Eversion is about cliche as you can get in the beginning. You're a weird little dude named Zee Tee who must travel across the land in a left-to-right manner to find and rescue the fair princess of the Flower Kingdom. It's so simple in its conceit, it lures you in a that classic false sense of security. Go right, jump on monsters, and collect more stuff than an episode of Hoarders starring Banjo-Kazooie. In no time at all, you'll come to a roadblock by design. You can't move forward and there's no point in going back unless by go back you want turn off this game and go make a sandwich. So naturally you wander around the screen to find an eversion point. Zee Tee has the ability to cross over to parallel realities, which in this case allows him to bypass obstacles à la Nintendo dark worlds like Zelda or Metroid Prime. Early on you'll find eversion points that will allow Zee Tee to cross back and forth to exploit the different rules of each. In the first dimension for example, clouds are just background images. In the second layer however, they act like actual platforms you can jump on.
Notice how I painstakingly detail how you evert forward than evert back in one example though. In this very short game, you'll find eversion to be a subtly menacing mechanic. One which seemingly unravels your sanity each time you evert forwards in dimensions. Like a trans-dimensional travel machine gone wrong, you'll gradually evert fowards into alternate realities but not back to your happy, home dimension. Every time you evert forwards, the world loses a bit more color, a bit more music, and becomes more hostile and disturbed. It's easy to see as your enemies start out as happy little Goomba knock-offs and slowly transform into mute, expressionless oddities until finally becoming creatures possessed by an unspeakable madness. The music becomes a more and more twisted beat that urges you forward to escape your current reality until eventually you're playing in eerie silence. The landscape doesn't just become more desolate and sad but it becomes openly hostile to you. Ordinary bushes that prove to be simply background at first become thorny vines that kill you. I've played levels several times to collect items I'd missed before and the Lovecraftian horror claws still creep me out as they reach out to me from the depths of each blood red pool. Even the very mechanics and design of the game seem to go crazy, as if to confirm that the game isn't just going crazy; its trying to drag you down with it. The score counter goes insane, your deaths transform from simply animations to full on blood explosions, and by far the worst part of it is the small collection of randomly assigned splash messages which range from slightly humorous (Get ready... to die!) to downright horrifying after playing for awhile (Behind you).
What starts as a happy, joyful little journey gradually turns into an experience I wish would stop. In the beginning, sometimes I'd evert forwards someplace creepy than back to normalcy. Further in, I might evert forwards then go a few levels going back and forth, like I'm promised some amount of normalcy in this game. But the further you get to the impending end of this short game, the more you realize that you're only going to evert further and further into a nightmarish dreamscape which mirrors a descent into madness and stress. Eventually there is only silence save for the sound of your jumping and the hell claws that try to rend you into a thousand pieces of shattered confidence. No matter how much I prepared myself before buying this game that something was going to go horribly wrong, there's nothing quite like experiencing the jarring transition from depressing fields to 7th circle of hell for yourself.
There's a moment midway where a block is enticing you to hit it. Maybe something good will happen for once. Maybe this seemingly unimpressed face block can show me something better? But as soon as you hit it, the world around you comes crumbling down and the once somber world that linked you to a happier place has suddenly everted you forward someplace very dark and very disturbed with no hope of return. The face on the block is now frozen in an expression of sheer terror and all you can do is move forward and witness what else this sick little game will show you with its limited tech set. The worst part is that every time you've traveled dimensions before, it was by your will, after finding a very specific warp point. This time and further along, you'll find that just like a person going certifiably insane, there is no control and no warning to manic episodes of dementia. Once you start falling, you don't magically slow down thanks to prescription drugs or important story plot points. As if the power of eversion had been forbidden all along, you now find yourself plummeting into a pit of evil filled with malicious plant life, unnerving creatures, frightening claws, and in some levels a scrolling wall of doom and oblivion.
This game isn't really forgiving either. The platforming is strict and difficult like games of yore and you'll find yourself dying a lot in order to perfect runs and collect all the gems. Out of the many things that unnerve me, dying for the fifth time on a stage only to be greeted at the ready screen with, "I See You," makes me genuinely glance around my room nervously as if I really am being spied upon by some invisible, menacing force. Every frustrating death at a difficult curved jump or a super strict leap of faith while trapped in a world populated only by living nightmares leaves a piece of my sanity stranded in some negative zone as I trudge onwards into this god forsaken desert called a game.
The real kick in the balls is the ending. None of them, except maybe the last secret ending, are particularly happy endings. And all of them have an unnerving atmosphere of pure, 100%, unadulterated dread as the environment goes full on Lovecraft around you and the music transforms into something only appropriate when you're surrounded by impenetrable mists with someone, or something, lurking within them.
Eversion is a game that manages to disturb me at my core. It surpasses simple horror via jump scares like dumping cold water on me through sudden monster appearances. Instead Eversion soaks you in a warm bath, all the while slowly turning the heat up until its too late to realize that my blood is boiling from out of my skin. It promises scenes of cutesy color and systematically lowers you someplace dark and forbidden. Its like you assume your party host is dimming the lights for mood but it turns out he's just fading to black before turning you into his next Hannibal-inspired art piece. Perhaps this the kind of horror someone who doesn't have an active palette in horror should consume. Not necessarily through false promises and subversion but rather through a slow burn that puts you in a situation of terror and dread before you even realize it. Instead of wandering a dirty Spanish village and hearing a chainsaw go off in the distance to trigger my response, I'll wander an ordinary landscape for a few minutes, not noticing that the a fog is slowly choking my vision until a dark hand creeps onto my shoulder and whispers something unintelligible into my ear.
Crap, I just composed this all before going to bed.