Favourite games (not a complete list):
1. Final Fantasy VIII
2. Beyond Good & Evil
3. Fallout 3
4. Persona 4
5. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Super S
6. The Longest Journey: Dreamfall
7. Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
8. Final Fantasy VI
9. Tales of Vesperia
10. Left 4 Dead (when played with people I know)
One of the majour complaints of the original Mass Effect (aside from the pop-in and other graphical glitches) was the ability to engage in a relationship with Liara as a female Shepard, but not being able to have a relationship with a male character when male Shepard.
Recently uploaded on Youtube by user “lasangreal” were two videos containing hidden files found in the PC version of Mass Effect (and he even uploaded links to save games that I couldn't verify due to my having the 360 version).
The more controversial video is of male Shepard flirting with Kaiden before they start having sex. Most of the video is fully voiced, with only Kaiden still being able to speak after the sex has ended. True, Shepard becomes a woman during part of the cutscene and Kaiden refers to him as a woman after everything is finished, but the preceding dialogue clearly shows that work on the content had begun, even though it wasn't finished.
Another video uploaded by the same user was of female Shepard and Ashley doing the dirty (and being a lot more forward about it) and the whole thing is voiced.
This just has me wondering if whether or not Mass Effect 2 will carry the same controversy the original had or whether you can have a gay Shepard. Also, if the work for Ashley had already been completed, then why was it left out of the final release if not fear of backlash from the media (which wouldn't be surprising, considering the fits thrown in the media regarding the sex with “mono-gendered” Liara)?
Gaming is a social past time now, usurping the roles once occupied by things such as hanging out at the mall or going to the movies. When I grew up, my favourite hobby was just on its way toward general acceptance (I was ten when FFVII came out...), but wasn't quite there. To this day, I still have people look at me oddly when I shout “Objection” at the conclusion to an Ace Attorney game.
Don't get me wrong, I have a PSN account and Xbox Live Gold, and quite enjoy talking to people in a party while playing a game. I just never play games with the people I'm talking to. In fact, the last multi-player game I played was Brawl.
Many games companies will tack on a last minute multi-player component to a game to help it sell well, be it competitive or co-op: some work well and some fail horribly. As much as I want to blame Halo and the like, there isn't anything wrong with being able to play a game with other people, provided it's done well. I just don't want to.
I grew up playing games alone. To be honest, there was the odd bout of co-op in Sonic 2 & 3, and whenever my brother brought his friends over we would play Goldeneye or Super Smash Brothers. Generally, though, it was a singular experience for me. I wouldn't even trade my Pokemon because I got too attached to them... still do, sometimes. (Naming Pokemon after Ace Attorney characters is unnecessarily awesome, by the way.)
The biggest thing, though, is that a lot of games I enjoy are single-player affairs. RPGs (no, I will never touch an MMO. I grind enough as it is), Adventure games, rogue-likes, etc. I've never been into the traditional competitive genres of fighting or sports games, and I only just started with FPS games in the last couple of years. A quick scan of my gaming shelves reveal maybe ten games with an interactive multi-player aspect (time trials are not being counted), and ten times as many that do not.
With the rise of gaming amongst the general populace and the internet bringing gamers together, people are playing with each other around the world and forming friendships with people they otherwise never would have met. And I continue to toil away at the grind in a voluntary isolation. There is no need for a 2P in Cross Edge or Touch Detective. And I'm content with that.
Being poor sucks. Being a poor gamer makes it hard to partake in all the discussions surrounding the newest games. As a result, I've been re-evaluating my backlog and passed over the proverbial Demon Souls and Madworlds in favour of something a little more familiar.
Despite having yet to complete Persona 3 (even though I beat Persona 4), put Demon Souls in my PS3, or get further than the first episode of the Wii release of Sam and Max, I went to my roots.
I was the kid who grew up in a multi-console world, so I never had the whole fanboy thing going on in my family. I was in a family of three kids who each got their own Gameboy (I remember playing Pokemon on the big grey brick while my friends were trading Vulpix's on the just-released Gameboy Colour) and we each had our own Gamegears. However, there was only one of each console.
My mother, hardly what I'd call a gamer despite loving her black DS and Super Princess Peach, has long held a love of Mario games. I'm not kidding when I say that she got farther into Super Mario World than I could ever dream. Then again, between her Mario marathons and the occasional bout of Mystical Ninja co-op with my brother and father (the only game my dad ever played was Mystical Ninja and he was really good at it), I didn't get much use with the SNES. To make up for it, I spent time with the Genesis.
My family was far from rich (don't ask me how we could afford the Gameboys and Gamegears), so until Goodwill and yard sales were flooded with old gaming carts, I had to make do with what we had. And what we had was excellence. There was Mickey Mouse's Castle of Illusions, Quackshot, some licensed games I don't remember, and the Sonic series.
Thus we get into the meat of this blog. Sonic became Sega's mascot for a reason: the games were incredibly popular. The reason they were popular? The games were good. They're still really good, even without retrogoggles.
The one-button control scheme was revolutionary and made the games easy to control whereas others at the time couldn't figure out how to properly make a game for a controller that lacked shoulder buttons. Of course, it wasn't until last year that I learned about the one-button mechanic because my 7-year-old brain mapped out different buttons for different actions, but I digress.
I'll admit here and now that the last Sonic game I played was Sonic 3 plugged into the Sonic and Knuckles cartridge. There was a stint with the Sonic Unleashed demo which I found really fun, but I'm never played a final, retail copy of a Sonic game since 1994. Unless you want to count Knuckles Chaotix for the 32X, but that was more an experiment than anything else. Still, it was fun.
I was too young to watch all of the Nintendo cartoons out, so my biggest memories of video game-related cartoons were the Sonic games. Unless you want to count Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, which were given amazing game adaptations by Konami which still hold up well in this day and age.
Being raised a strict viewer of Fox on Saturday mornings, I got the amazing Marvel cartoons to carry me through my childhood. I didn't catch too many episodes of Sonic SatAM until this year (which is quite a shame, as it's still really good), but some of my fondest memories were staying home from school sick to watch The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sailor Moon.
I never watched Sonic Underground. After struggling to watch some on Netflix in the last month, I'm actually glad I didn't. Jaleel White may make the perfect Sonic, but he isn't very good at distinguishing himself in the other two roles he had on the series. And the overarching plot was only likeable during the opening sequence. As for Sonic X? The voice actors for the Sonic characters (aside from Cream) actually aren't that bad. The humans make me cringe sometimes, but the plot held enough coherence to make me have a recent marathon of the first 50 episodes and somewhat enjoy it. It was better than the other stuff out at the time, anyway.
Still, after having watched all of the Sonic cartoons (even the god awful movie), I have to say that SatAM has held up the best, and if Bioware does make another Sonic RPG I damn well better see Princess Sally and Antoine in it in order for them to get a day one purchase from me. And Bunnie, because you don't need to be a furry to find a bipedal, half-roboticized, ass-kicking rabbit with a southern accent hot... I hope.
I'm agnostic. This isn't my attempt to drag Destructoid into religious arguments or anything, I just felt that I should preface this with the fact that I personally have no attachment to any particular religious beliefs. Then again, if I did, something tells me that I wouldn't be as big a MegaTen fan as I am.
Anyway, Spiritual Warfare is the poster child of two very niche movements: Christian games and unlicensed NES games. Developed by and published by Wisdom Tree, and offshoot of Color Dreams. Color Dreams was one of the first companies to get past Nintendo's lockout technology and had developed a reputation for releasing crappy shovelware titles such as Baby Boomer. Wisdom Tree is an attempt to distance itself from the brand's reputation and capitalize on the (still) untapped Christian gamer market. I'm not talking about the people who enjoy the Left Behind games, either.
Although it was released on an aging console (it was 1992 and the SNES, Genesis, and Turbografx 16 were well into their own respective life cycles), Spiritual Warfare was easily Wisdom Tree's biggest commercial success. Precise sales numbers are not known because of the lack of a software tracking organization at the time and its own underground heritage, but it was successful enough on the NES to get ports to the Genesis and the PC.
Borrowing heavily from Nintendo's original Legend of Zelda, it lacks a complex story (not uncommon for most NES games), but makes up for with decent graphics and some incredibly engrossing gameplay that is actually rooted in biblical lore. This may be superficial lip-service (Wisdom Tree is not a Christian Company), but it's pretty good lip service.
Like Link your main character uses weapons and items to solve puzzles and wander a large over world. There are even dungeons that take the form of office buildings and “unsaved” places like bars, a prison, and slums complete with gangs and stray dogs.
Your weapons of choice are the “fruits of God.” This is a work of genius because, in addition to giving more options for combat, they have different uses and and functions. Some are fast, others are slow and strong, and some can even travel through walls and other obstacles. Then there are items like Samson's Jawbone which functions very similarly to Link's boomerang.
Rather than killing your enemies, you use your weapons to “convert” them, prompting a sprite of a person kneeling in prayer. Occasionally, you'll also come across “possessed souls” who, upon receiving your attack, reveal a demonic sprite that continues coming at you.
The main objective of the game is to obtain the “Armor of God” in order to unlock access to other parts of the game world with the final objective of defeating Satan. (I never made it too far as the copy I played was kept at my grandmother's for familial gatherings, so I can't comment too much on boss fights in general.)
Rather than use money, you collect saved “souls” in the form of white doves to buy things like Anointing Oil (health potion), Vials of God's Wrath (bombs), and you can always pray and give up souls to regain health. In fact, the best way to gain souls is, whenever you defeat enough of your enemies, an angel floats around the screen and quiz's you on biblical knowledge and quotes. The better you do, the more souls you're given.
One of the things I don't like about this game is the ugly backgrounds. For years I played this on a black and white TV (again, grandmother's house) and it looked fine. In fact, for an unlicensed game it's rather gorgeous, but when in colour you can see some mild distortion here and there, but nothing game breaking. Still, the backgrounds seem like an after thought. Although, the residential area is a treat and it has one of the most interesting areas in the form of an airport. Yes, this game lets you fight sinners in an airport by throwing fruit at them. It's awesome.
This is basically a Zelda clone with Christian window-dressing, but it's a well done one that is incredibly fun. Not to mention that you can now play it for free here.
Most videogames require the player to overcome a trial, to defeat an overarching enemy. In order to make the enemy seem as inhuman as possible to drive the player's need to hand a smackdown to the big bad, the opponent is often painted with a stroke of the insanity brush. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.
Here are the ones I feel did it.
Kefka Palazzo – FFVI
Um... If someone were to explain Kefka's insanity, they would need little evidence beyond his clownish appearance. When you get past that, you can appreciate just how sociopathic he is: just because he doesn't want to wait, he poisons an entire kingdom's water supply; he is fond of jumping around the screen like a hyper baby; and then he has the laugh, the first bit of “spoken” dialogue in a Final Fantasy game.
Dr. J.S. Steinman – Bioshock
In a game showing off the most morally corrupt examples of humanity who often skirt the line between sanity and insanity, the good doctor ran over the line, kept going, and never looked back. While he does not play an important role in the plot of the game, Steinman is owner of one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire game. You watch as he mercilessly kills a Splicer by performing a surgery while she is conscious and ranting about how she won't hold still long enough for him to make her beautiful. Then he sets his eyes upon you and you know you have stared insanity in the face.
Mitsuo Kubo – Persona 4
This one is probably known only by Persona and SMT fans. Mitsuo is a low key character throughout most of the game, until the party suspects him of being the serial killer throwing people into the TV world. And when they come across him and his shadow in said world, Chie even remarks that she does not know which one is the shadow. And when it comes out that *SPOILER* he was a copy cat killer who wanted to use the murders to make himself feel important*SPOILER* you get the sense of just how unhinged he is. Then there is the fact that his part of the TV world is set in a game and his shadow is a baby with an old-school 8-bit warrior shell showing that he has no real mental capabilities and that his view of the world is little more than a game he is interacting in.
Albedo – Xenosaga series
This is a guy who finds pleasure in tearing off his own arm and head to frighten a little girl, kills all of his followers for practically no reason at all, and uses the Bible as a source of menacing quotes. This isn't exactly your typical JRPG villain. And his laugh is even more unnerving than Kefka's, believe it or not.
Gary Smith – Bully
While neither a murderer nor a world-destroying baddie, Gary is included because his actions are horribly common. His sociopathic tendencies include lying, bribery, and manipulation. No matter how horrible his behaviour, he is never affected by it because he doesn't see any of the people around him as people. They are just things to be used to raise his own status. This is something that any person could be capable of and are all telltale signs of a much deeper damage of the psyche. Plus, the guy dresses as a Nazi for Halloween.
When people (fanboys) discuss things such as the price of a console, the standard comparison for being over-priced is the 3DO. Launched during the holiday season in 1993, the console sold for $699. This makes the the complaints about the cost of a PS3 or 360 look rather foolish.
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was unique amongst consoles in that it was not tied to a specific manufacturer. This led to multiple companies making their own model of it (with incompatible accessories), and varying price structures. Panasonic/Matsuhita was the first company to launch the console, and they had aimed it as more of a high end A/V device than a videogame console, thus the exorbitant initial pricing.
Being the first dedicated CD-based console launched in the United States (the Amiga CD32 had preceded the 3DO in Canada and Europe, but died off before launching in the US), the 3DO compared itself to the SNES and Genesis. Showing off its superior 32-bit technology and what at the time was impressive FMV video, it was highly anticipated. (Before the price was announced, at any rate.)
I wasn't in tune with the goings on of videogames when the 3DO launched, being a 5-year-old who spent his time trying and failing to beat the original Legend of Zelda. In fact, I didn't get a 3DO until earlier this year.
Considering the 3DO was launched in 1993, the graphical capabilities of the system are actually pretty good. Not quite Playstation or N64 levels, but more on par with the Saturn. The 3D isn't as bad as the Saturn, though. And the 2D graphics are rather nice.
These days you hear a lot of fanboys complain about the 360 being little more than FPS games, sports games, and generally just being a machine full of PC ports. Twelve years prior to the 360 launch, you had the same thing in the 3DO. Take a look at the listings on ebay. Aside from a bunch of incredibly random Japanese games (more on that later), you'll find a lot of shooters. Some are good, many are bad. The 3DO company didn't exercise any form of quality control on the games, which led to a LOT of shovelware.
Sports games also migrated to the console from the aging Genesis, as the at-the-time chairman of EA, Trip Hawkins, was also the mind behind the 3DO. The 3DO got a lot of support from EA as a result. And low royalty rates initially gave the console support amongst other big 3rd party developers such as Capcom and Crystal Dynamics. Not to mention the console supported AO ratings. So that means porn games! And more than a few were made OUTSIDE of Japan. Admittedly, they were just FMV games, as opposed to something like Beat 'Em and Eat 'Em, but nobody really plays porn games for the gameplay or the porn. Not to mention generally the most violent versions of any given game.
One incredibly unique thing about the 3DO was the controller. The first model of the console had only one controller port, and the controller itself featured a port to link the controllers to each other, rendering things such as multi-taps obsolete. On the bottom of the controller was a standard-sized headphone jack with a volume control. It was perfect for those parents who complained about the games being too loud, although one ran the risk of tuning out everyone around them.
While it was an American console, the primary manufacturer was a Japanese company, so it did fare decently in Japan. Not great, but there is a list of 80+ games that are exclusively Japanese. The benefit of this is that neither the consoles nor the games are region locked. One might call it forward thinking for the 90's, but it was more of the cost of a CD burner and blank CDs at the time. In fact, the 3DO had what is arguably the best Sailor Moon game: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon S. There are a few games from Japan that won't play on the American 3DO console because of Kanji issues, but the most notable one was translated into English. And the lack of region locking extends to copyright protection, so it is entirely possible to NOT download an iso and burn it to a CD to play. Or you could use one of the emulators floating around out there.
Sadly, though, while it was a good console and was very cutting edge technology at the time, the 3DO had no direction or a very well thought out game plan and died the quiet death it deserved. Not to mention 90% of its English game library is available on other consoles. The only people I would recommend it to are collectors and retro-importers. For the latter group, Policenauts has a 3DO version that does play on American 3DOs.