Full Version     |     Sign Up     |     Login

Browse   |   Reviews   |   Pop   Blogs   Forum
Community   |   Promoted   |   Followed   |   Staff

Tubatic's blog

I Played Your Guy or You are not Cole Phelps
10:41 PM on 01.02.2012
From a Bowl of Rice: Assassin's Creed and its Brotherhood
1:41 AM on 10.20.2011
Digital Depth: Jim Sterling is onto Something
11:23 PM on 08.11.2011
Play My Game! Rubber Duck Zerocraft sees the light of day
12:26 AM on 08.07.2011
Spew out of 10: Score Scroller Serenity and a Strange Love of Words
9:00 PM on 07.04.2011
E3 Approaches: Hoping for a Way of the Samurai 4 Announcement
11:12 PM on 06.05.2011

Previous   |   Home

Home   |   Browse   |   Reviews   |   Popular

Full Version     |     Sign Up     |     Login

Tubatic's Profile Destructoid
Tubatic 's blog
click to hide banner header

-Super Meat Boy regarding Super Meat Boy

Hey. Follow me on Twitter! I'll tweet about games! Promise!
Twitter - TubaticPrime

Highlights from my blog include:

-2010 Sucked: Fable III Exemplifies the Year in Disappointement*Promoted Blog
-Keep It Complicated, Stupid
-What Wii Gaming is Like for Me*Promoted Blog
-I, The Author: How I Stole the Declaration of Independance*Promoted blog

Way of The Samurai, Shadow of the Colossus, Castle Crashers, Jet Grind Radio, ICO, Super DodgeBall, Canabalt, FTL, Final Fantasy VI and X-Com are some of the finest games ever made in ever

Xbox Live: Tubatic
PSN: Tubatic
Wii Console Code: 3554-2775-5012-0810
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom Code: 2107-0561-3043
Brawl Friend Code: 1762-2359-5359 "Tbatc"

Players can elect to summon "cartoony" versions of bats, bombs, guns, and flamethrowers. These types of items can be used to destroy objects or even other summoned items (e.g., a club can be used to hit an animal; steak can be attached to a baby to attract lions; rockets can be lobbed at a man).

-From the ESRB description of Scribblenauts

"Right after getting back to Japan, [Miyamoto] suddenly said: "You know we're including golf now." Apparently he'd stated in an interview that this time round golf shots would be determined by the backswing, even though at that time a golf game didn't exist in any shape or form!"

-A Nintendo Staffer explaining why Golf was added to Wii Sports Resort

"I have seen the Summa that everyone talks about. And I want to pour gasoline on him and cut off his ear. "

-Pendleton21 after listening to the disavowed Podtoid 94: So Baller

"question, did you play with controller or keyboard?

because controller is unplayable"
-Luc Bernard re: the first release version of Eternity's Child on Steam


"Just because u like a game doesn't mean u have to give it a high score"
-excerpt from the epic trolling on the Prototype review, inFamous/Protoype Wars, June 2009

Following (60)  

NOTE! I get a little spoilery, though I showed some restraint. Read at your own risky. Game has great performances regardless of knowing the plot points anyway...


One of my favorite games from last year was L.A. Noire. While the gameplay had its problems with jank and excessive handholding, the narrative flow and character performances made the experience something special. Having a big appreciation of police procedurals TV shows and films, I was drawn into this thick series of crime vignettes and period specific spacial and character settings. What really struck a chord with me, though, was how dedicated L.A. Noire is to keeping the player from identifying and connecting with the main protagonist of the game.

At the start of L.A. Noire, we find Cole Phelps at the bottom rung of the LAPD career ladder, with a wartime past that seems to hang on him in this not-so-proud way. As the start to a narrative, it seems well enough that we're in for a hero's story, as Cole ascends the ranks as a detective and eventually rules the roost, presumably, toward the greatest victory. We expect to find Cole vindicated and victorious by the end, but the Detective Phelps we have at the end of L.A. Noire's narrative is less than a white knight. Only the most forgiving or open minded player will easily accept the character as he's presented by the final act.

And that in particular is what makes the whole trip especially captivating. What Team Bondi gave the player is not the begrudging yet strangely willing hero of John Marston or the sad but morally malleable Niko Bellic. Nor is it the nihilistic via aggressive apathy tough of Johnny Kibitz from GTAIV Lost and Damned. With paper thin regard for who the player would want Phelps to be, the Cole that you have to play is a character that takes none of his overall disposition or destiny from the player's decisions. By the time the user hits that last act and the gameplay twist runs its course, it feels that you haven't even been playing Cole himself. Its more like you've been playing Cole's will to redeem his arrogant and regretted past.

What drove this home for me was the level of interaction with Cole that the player has. Very specifically, you don't control his home life. You don't control what he eats, and you barely control what he wears. But in the context of your protagonist's profession in police work, you are the driving catalyst for the ascension and motiviation of this crappy sap to which you're given the reigns. It not that you're pushing Cole to respond to suspects aggressively: you're indicating when Cole's professional line should be agreeable or distrustingly pressing. You never manage Cole's personal life or his relationship to his family, but you are the intangible dedication to job and duty that keeps him working well into the evening. In an era where the open world has presented players with the customizable, lived-in character, here's this guy. While the world around him appears to be this fully functioning world, the only context we can even begin to touch him in is professional.

Image found here

In this way, the turn in characterization that the game takes for the final act makes a lot of sense. What can a player do with Phelps when he is completely neutered in terms of his career and skill? Nothing. As our crushed protagonist passes his work onto the avatar of the final act, we're presented a certain scenario. The first mission of that final stretch is one all about sparking interest and getting our last man to care about continuing Cole Phelp's work. When the final splashes of the game's narrative plays out, the content is all about the will to set things right, from Cole's outro to the wrap-around flashback stinger, its undeniable, to me, that we've run a full tragic arc through this rollercoaster ride.

Its unfortunate that several people gave up on L.A. Noire about half way through. The gameplay and the intentional samey-ness of the homicide worked in active deterrent to players that had not been successfully hooked by the story content. What the game lacks in character movement in the first half, it makes up for in the back 9 with, in my opinion, one of the best falls a video game character has ever been allowed to have.
Photo Photo Photo

"I'm prepared to scour the Earth for that motherf*ck*r. If Butch goes to Indochina, I want a (dude) waiting in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his *ss."
-Marcellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction

Looking past the way he says it, Marcellus Wallace expresses a poignant value of being the big man in charge. As a person in a position of power and leadership, Mr. Wallace can both request and expect the near impossible to happen at his very whim. While the concept of a man popping out of a rice bowl to exact revenge is farfetched and comical, the intent is serious and clear. By his command, Butch is not intended to get far, and Marcellus has the network and resources in place to facilitate the end of Butch, without laying a hand on him.

At the beginning of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, we find Ezio Auditore on the cusp of knowing this same level of power and control. After spending much of his life fighting his own battles and gaining the respect of several certain powerful people in his world, the older and wiser Auditore sets about to execute both a personal and honor bound plan against the controlling faction in the city of Rome. To this end, Ezio revives the Assassin's Order, with himself as the leader. As he recruits and fills in the Order, we the players come to experience the fruit that preparedness and organization can bring, without ever having to consider the logistics of food based stakeouts.

Ezio can call in death on any target he chooses with just the bare minimum of preparation, simply by raising his fist. Wether near a river dock, the congested city, or the open fields, Ezio's assassin recruits will appear as if the strike had been planned for days. His agents of death will jump in over fences, ride in on horseback, or even emerge from blind corners that the couldn't have possibly know to hide in on such short notice. By whatever means available, the order will get it done. The sensation of it is pure satisfaction, and no less a power trip than stabbing the group of targets on your own.

What cements the feeling is the investment that the player puts into this team of death artisans. The game has you recruiting each member individually, saving them from the ruling Borgia family's aggression. From there, the player decides how each assassin improves, and even picks their initiate costume color. This is your team you're calling in, and they're as effective as you train them to be.

Mr. Wallace would approve of the training regimen here. The focus in the meta game of assassin order management is on sending out disciples to various locations around Europe and Western Asia to complete contract work, ranging from infiltrating Lavish parties to extracting friends of the order in dire need. Large missions describe far less covert battles against the Templar threat. You never see these events play out, but you're given Marcellus Wallace's point of view on the matter: I want this done, tell me you've done it. As each mission succeeds or fails, your charges earn the valuable XP needed to rise in rank, all the way up to a full fledged Leap of Faith taking induction ceremony as a capital "A" Assassino.

And with that full corp of deadly, trusted Assassins, your rule as "The Man" in Rome becomes absolute. From a gameplay perspective, there were few things that I enjoyed more last year than making the call and having a righteous "plan" come together. I'm hoping there's more of this in Assassin's Creed Revelations, but if not, I highly recommend giving Brotherhood a run to experience this unique gaming sensation.
Photo Photo Photo

For the past few weeks, Jim Sterling has taken on the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade entry for the week, and each has come in disappointing in his opinion. This has come as a surprise, as many of the games show an overwhelming amount of promise and skill in some area. Bastion with its unique approach to narrative, From Dust with it's manipulation of physical elements and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet with it's gorgeous artstyle: these little download games are presenting players with some of the absolutely highest quality components that are sorely lacking in some games that are made by teams of people for many hundreds of thousands of dollars. At any sectional slice, you would be forgiven for thinking you're having a go at a highly crafted work of AAA gamecraft.

But as Jim sums up, something has mackered the final project into palpable dissatisfaction. For all of Bastion's narrative prowess, a shallowness was evident and unpalatable for Sterling. As deft and lush as the element manipulation and physics may be, the game turns out to have little in the way of god-game depth. Even the down right beautiful ITSP tops off as a merely adequate rum through a not very developed tunnel of straight forward adventure gameplay. All amazing and promising games, all suffering from a similar malady: a general lack of full-on depth and substance. It's to be expected that not every game will be awesome. But, how is it that these three games in particular are weighing in as ornate jugs half full of delicious libation?

An easy solution would be to blame Jim Sterling for being tired of his work or some other ridiculous accusation. He's an easy target, because he's so fat. Fat with the presence he maintains on Destructoid, not only as a reviewer, but as a regular news and feature writer on the site. Couple that with the love these games are getting from several other outlets, and one might think he's just having a sad faced go at Microsoft's summer push. However, a look at those other outlets will reveal that the flaws Jim points out are echoed, but overall downplayed. They are there, but discounted in favor of praise and the will to endure the faults to enjoy these games.

So look then to the developers. What's creating this viscious strain of substandard games wrapped in wondrous coating? Theories are numerous, but I think the realities of these games' creation and existence are the ultimate culprit: a small scope game can excel in brilliant ideas, but its in danger of simply not having the key resources (time, people, money to sustain the project) to create the well tempered game that satisfies that deep gamer-thirst for long-lasting game sustenance. This is going to be the defining trait of this era of indie gamecraft at the dawn of digital distribution platforms and services: great ideas, truncated scope.

Greg Kasavin of Bastion's SuperGiantGames, has said that his studio simply wouldn't exist if not for digital distribution slashing the cost of delivering a game to the masses. They can't afford to put Bastion in a box and put it on store shelves. However, Bastion exists in a world where the game can be downloaded to a gameplayer. Similarly, I'm sure, From Dust as it exists today would never be a big enough idea or experience for Ubisoft to greenlight mass production, let alone greenlight the resources for developing the idea from the basic game it is now into a boxed product. These ideas and games thrive off of their smaller scope and are meeting with success and life outside of their creator's minds. This is great.

What isn't great is the loss of well developed, deeply explored games. The digital indie space thrives on the short experience. Indie game ideas bloom at the lower $0.99 to $15.99 price range, but you're not going to find the exhaustive and awe inspiring depth of SimCity, The Sims or Civ. A proper edition of those franchises, mind you: their iOS counterparts lack the depth and gusto of their originals without much room for argument.

Not to say depth can't be achieved in the indie space. Super Meat Boy is a thorough and shining study in pure run and jump. And even now, Jim is working on a review for E.Y.E, an apparently super detailed mash of an indie title built on top of the Source Engine. Hack anything, play how you want, and experience a world of details. Glaring issues aside, it sounds like its providing him with some level of real joy and contentment. But this depth is the exception in the digital indie space.

I've gone on about this whole thing about depth before, but its an item that rarely comes up as a solid point in the "Casual/Hardcore" or "Indie/Corporate" argument space. What do you think Destructoid? Are we losing depth in our games in this digital indie age? What sort of deep and detailed experiences are you finding on digital platforms? Or am I just barking up a dead horse? What's your take on this?
Photo Photo Photo

Hello Destructoid, it feels like we haven't hung out in forever. You look well. Have you lost weight?

Part of the reason I haven't been musing out like a bandit on the c-blogs lately is that I've been tinkering with the idea of maybe designing and making my own games for the past few months. I don't actually have much to show for it, except this game right here!

Rubber Duck Zerocraft, First Version for Other People!

Fair Warning: It *should* be just as easy as unzipping the .exe and running the .exe. It shouldn't cause any problems. If it does, I'm sorry: I've no idea where to even begin troubleshooting it, and honestly, it may not be worth the effort to. You probably have much better games to get running on PC than this prototype.

I highly recommend playing this with a controller. Grab JoyToKey (its free) and give yourself a button for Shift and a button for Space.

There isn't too much to it, really. I wanted to get a good grip on how GameMaker works, so I more or less built this game out of the tutorial for 2D shmups on the GameMaker Tutorial page. I mainly wanted to try creating a shmup without projectile attacks. The focus is on defense and avoidance. My main concession is that I can't do art especially well. If you pretend, in that regard, that I am 5 years old, this may be acceptable. I'll eventually pick up the full version of GameMaker and add some sweet particle effects, but for now, that's what's up.

It doesn't necessarily need more priming than that, so I'd love for you to give it a shot and give me your opinions on it Any of it. I want to call my self effectively done with this incarnation of the game, so any feedback will help me improve my gamecraft and possibly make a better, more involved version 2/ sequel in the future. I've got a few other neat ideas I want to scratch out, which I hope to produce much more efficiently than this one!

Have fun and let me know what you think!
Photo Photo

As someone that dabbles in writing about games, I have a great respect for reviewers and feature writers. Further still, as someone that dabbles as an artist, I would want nothing more than for every piece of work ever, to get its full scrutiny and appreciation as something that's been crafted for perusal. Even further under that, I'm an aspiring game maker and I hope that what ever work I do that merits a review will get its fair shake from what ever reviewing entity decides to stamp their opinion onto my wares.

Even with all that under consideration, the first thing I look for in a review is a score. Plain and simple.

I could blame Game Spot for being so about the score, at least 10 years ago when I was really into them for reviews. Maybe even blame GamePro and EGM, for assigning scores to game reviews in the first place. But for whatever reason, honestly and truthfully, the score is the first and biggest indicator of what a publication or writer thinks about a game, and its a value that I allow to have a lot of sway on how I perceive a game and its place in the social mindscape.

But who really cares about all that? Apparently a bunch of people, considering how much of a funk was mustered up about not only Jim Sterling's reviews in general, but about reviewer responsibility. Maybe its my old manitude coming through, but seeing so much time spent on the rhetoric of reviews, from ethics to fairness to how many negative descriptors per paragraph Jim Sterling used in a string of tweets about a review he was thinking about writing after a bad breakfast... Are we really spending so much time worrying about how video games reviews are affecting the world of a righteously diggable hobby like video games? What is going on?!

In caution of becoming hypocritical, I think there isn't much more I can reasonably write on the topic that hasn't been said. Find your preferred voice and method, whether as a writer or consumer of that writing, and apply your own filters. History will sort out a thing's place in history. If not, then it probably wasn't worthy of history. But consumers or games writers calling for official and non-official opinions, or watchdogging a writer for questionable content: Well as ManaSteel88 has writ well Its ridiculous for you to do so. As evidenced by the low accuracy of even the most celebrated of games industry analysts, nobody really knows anything about how the games industry works.

Make your mark, and let that be the thing.
Photo Photo

E3 means a lot of things to a lot of people. For most people its the announcements of new games, confirmation of rumors and reveal of details on games sure to arrive in the next two years. And for some, its a chance to wade chest deep into the stuff game fandom and fanaticism is made of. Days of sizzle reels, hands on demos and behind closed door exhibitions. For fewer still, it's a time to show off your wares and seed the hype that could make or break a company's financial and qualitative future.

But for fewer still, E3 is the time of year to scour the conduits of gaming news for a modest piece of data. It could be as short as a headline, or perhaps part of a greater wall of text. You may even catch it these days as a tweet or scribbled digitally across a chat window. One simple company line, without pretense or poetry, can bring fiero undulation to those fevered few that seek it. Or, in it's absence, lead that small cult of quirk to question the soul of the industry, as if they were children that had found irrefutable proof that Santa Claus is not real.

E3 approaches, and I'm looking for confirmation that Way of the Samurai 4 is being localized.

Seriously, Google Images can barely find images for the first game...

My excitement, fandom and general support for this series started when the original title was showcased around or during E3 at least ten years ago. I remember seeing the game pop up during GameSpot and IGN's coverage, which back then consisted mostly of screenshots and articles dropping a few details about nearly every game that got some floor space. At that point, all I could gather was that the game would have a branching narrative which, for the early 2000's, was pretty unique. The samurai action base of the game, which I hadn't really had a taste of since Bushido Blade 2 a few years prior, was also a major selling point.

Samurai was interesting, but ultimately wasn't a big deal in the landscape of E3 coverage. Getting games localized from Japan was still a very common arrangement, and I feel most gamers were pretty used to hearing about a game once and not getting much else about it until years later. Looking now, I can't even confirm the original IGN or GameSpot articles. I filed it away on my personal list of games to keep an eye out for, and managed not to hear much more about it until March 2002, where it was set for a June-ish release by BAM! Entertainment.

I picked up Way of the Samurai during the summer of 2002 while working as a conference assistant on campus. After only a few days, I had completed the game once, and immediately began again to try out the other narrative choices and endings. A fan and evangelist was forged. By that time, though, there weren't many game playing friends left around after graduation to wax philosophical about the game. GameFAQs become my hub for Samurai hype and by the time Way of the Samurai 2 was released by Capcom in 2004, a modest but healthy number of forumites were already abuzz with hype and interest in the series.

Unfortunately, the series fell fairly quickly into gamer obscurity. Way of the Samurai 2 managed a pure “Average” on Metacritic with a score of 59, which for many gamers is a “No Deal” on score alone. Common criticism found a distaste for the game's lack of open world in a post-GTA gaming landscape, while others took fair objection to the game's arcadey and old world take on game flow, combat and mission based gameplay. The next five years of the series' history are typified by a handful of screenshots for Way of the Samurai 3, tucked away in a few IGN articles about the game's Japanese development. This was literally the only bit of coverage the series was afforded for much of the time between 2005's Samurai Western (an off-shoot of Way-proper, published by Atlus) and May of 2009.

This is how I found out that Way of the Samurai 3 was coming to The States in Fall of 2009. I had joked somewhere earlier that week that several other games were seeing localization confirmations around E3, and that Way of the Samurai 3 was sure to be next. I had no idea that just a few days later official word of Agetec and UFO Interactive bringing the series in localized format would be a reality! What followed was an epic, frightening and perhaps sad campaign in the c-blogs of Destructoid to garner attention for this long forgotten franchise. Upon release, I marathoned through the game over a weekend and spouted a punch drunk review that only a fan could write with a straight face. As much as I love the game, you'll find my Trophy collection on PSN wanting for several achievements, including the multiple ending ones.

Its admittedly hard to blame publishers for not jumping at the chance to bring the series back to the states. Way of the Samurai 3 clocked in at a Metacritic of 58, as reasonable people have little patience for early console life jank coupled with good old fashioned Japanese quirk. If the sales stats from vgchartz.com are to be believed, sales were modest, to put it politely. While there's no doubt some profit to be made in this localization, its not a sure fire hit by any stretch of the imagination.

***Warning: Attached Trailer Gets a Little Too Kinky for Work for a Couple Seconds!***

That said, consider this my formal pledge: If Way of the Samurai 4 gets localized in the North America, I'll be the first in line! This release is currently PS3 exclusive with no word of even a Japanese 360 port in sight. But surely some company out there is willing to take the plunge on this niche legacy. The gaming landscape may be less keen on the localization of Japan's games, but I've still got room in my gaming wishlist for a little E3 miracle.

Do let me know if you hear anything!
Photo Photo Photo