An aspiring artist from bumfuck nowhere, Pennsylvania. I lurked on this site prior to joining, and I hope to do something with my time on this earth until I shed my mortal coil. but for now, let's waste some time.
I've been doing artwork on the side for a while, but I have only recently started sharing it around outside of family and friends(and also obscure forums). Hopefully I'll turn out to be a valued member of the site.
If you don't shut up and pay attention to what's going on, you're bound to not do very well. Frequently you'll be bombarded with numerous enemies, ranging from little grunts to massive monsters and gigantic robots, and if you want that coveted Pure Platinum rank, you're gonna have to use more than simple button mashing to obtain it. But first, you're going to have to practice how fast you can draw with an analog stick or touchscreen, or just watch one of these useful videos to get yourself acquainted to the mechanics.
I believe this is the reason the game is so divisive even with the two or so people with a Wii U. You're either going to like a demanding, technically complex brawler like this with unconventional controls, a la God Hand, or dismiss it as impenetrable nonsense with terrible controls and unclear instructions. And really, the controls do take some getting used to, but not in the "murder on the hands" way like Kid Icarus Uprising. It just takes practice, really, but it's the kind of practice that reviewers aren't likely to do.
For the uninitiated, The Wonderful 101's main mechanic involves drawing Unite Morphs, little symbols that activate certain powers. Drawing a circle activates Unite Hand, which is your main damage dealer, drawing a straight line activates Unite Sword, which is probably going to be the beginner's weapon, and drawing a right angle activates Unite Gun, which is more or less a support weapon. The size and power of Unite Morphs are totally dependent on how big you draw it, with larger morphs being absolutely devastating but doesn't contribute much to your combo score. Like everything here, practicing this system is key to being successful in the game.
As you continue to level up your characters, you can unlock different moves for each Unite Morph depending on how much you use them. Unite Hand's variation on Wonderful Rising is bound to be different from Unite Gun's variation, for example. This encourages you to string together combos of many different Unite Morphs so you can eventually unlock a full list of possible combos. You can also buy and equip skills, such as parrying and faster drawing with the right stick, quite useful if you're going for speed necessary for the Pure Platinum rank.
It's this depth that makes the game oh so very replayable, allowing you to go back to levels where you weren't so sure about how the game played with new-found knowledge and skill and ace it with flying colors. I did pretty poorly on the first real level, mainly due to the lack of a dodge move in my repertoire at the time. Now, I've managed to get a Pure Platinum for my efforts. And you're actively encouraged to do this, thanks to an extensive medal system, a ton of secrets, and a long list of moves and combos to learn and use. And if you feel frustrated, you won't get it right on your first try. You'll inevitably get a lot of consolation prizes(the lowest rank in the game) on your first playthrough, and that's fine. Keep playing, and you will be rewarded with something great. Plus, the difficulty level can be changed between levels, a design choice that successfully splits the difference between Plat's usual audience of Adrenaline junkies and newcomers.
The gameplay is wrapped in a candy-coated, Saturday Morning cartoon presentation and story, one that lampoons equal parts Power Rangers, Superfriends, Godzilla, Silver Age comics and Giant Robot anime. The game is one that clearly isn't serious, and would probably be considered a cavalcade of cliches if it weren't for the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Robots will be punched, dragons will be cleaved in half in midair, enemies will tower above every conceivable thing like scale doesn't matter, and that's just in the first two hours of the game. The presentation is also similar to a grand toy playset, with the environments having a pleasingly tactile look and your team essentially being the superhero equivalent of green plastic soldiers, where the mentality of throwing action figures at each other is taken to literal extremes. Top-notch voice acting, a legitimately hilarious script and a bombastic orchestral score add to the effect.
The boss fights are a particular highlight. Expect to see one or two minibosses in every level, and every final level in a particular operation gets an increasingly absurd boss as well. Platinum's commitment to absurd action particularly shines in the massive bosses that you will be fighting throughout. In the first boss level alone, you'll chase a flying King Ghidorah-like dragon in a rail-shooter section, hook onto its tail, and then fight the beast on its back while it is still airborne, and then take out one of the monster's eyes and take control of the eyeless head and bite the other head off. But that's not the end of it. You'll soon be walking on pieces of debris, avoiding the dragon and throwing bombs at the final head. Once it's weakened, you do some fencing with its sword-wielding rider, use the bow on the statue that the beast had attempted to destroy to pierce the dragon, and then cut both the rider and the dragon in half, destroying them once and for all. It only gets better from there.
The game isn't without problems, though. The Gamepad segments has the normally smooth flow of the gameplay come to a screeching halt, where the perspective is flipped to your controller and you have to look at both screens to solve puzzles. The puzzles themselves often give you unlimited time to solve them(it'll hurt your score if you dawdle, though), with at least one exception so far, but the awful motion-controlled camera combined with a rather wonky lock-on button make it more trouble than its worth. It's somewhat alleviated by using the Pro Controller and having the Gamepad off to the side, though. This is also one of the few problems that isn't alleviated as you get better.
In addition, the game's genre is... fluid, to say the least. Sometimes you'll be controlling a ship Star Fox-style, travel underwater in an homage to Zaxxon and Gradius, a straight behind the shoulder beat-em up in one boss fight, a Mr. Driller homage, and even two bosses that are a fairly obvious homage to Punch-Out!!!, complete with a way to play identically to the actual game. If you know these games, these are neat additions, but they can still throw you off from getting a Pure Platinum.
The Wonderful 101 and your opinion of it completely depends on how much time you're willing to spend on it. If you're the kind of person that plows through a game in a few weekends and never touches it again, this isn't the game for you. But, if you're willing to learn the ropes and continue to get better at it, you'll quite possibly play one of the most wildly original and replayable games of the year. Even if the game won't get the recognition it deserves right now, it'll hopefully gain a sizable cult audience as well. Then again, what Platinum/Clover Studio game hasn't?
Next friday, we will finally see the official release of the highly anticipated PlayStation 4, with its red-headed stepcousin the Xbox One to follow. Kinda crazy that we're seeing the official kick-off to the next generation after an abnormally long one with the Wii/360/PS3, huh? And I'm planning to buy a PS4 at least.
Just not anytime soon.
And some of you may ask, why? Well, it's pretty simple. A smart consumer waits until there's enough of a reason to get one, and right now, we mostly have a small collection of last-gen ports, freemium pap, and indie games that you can get elsewhere. The most original thing in the line up is eerily similar to the Werehog sequences in Sonic Unleashed, of all things. The Xbox One might have some better launch exclusives, but I won't plunk down $500 for one.
So what if you want something different than the hype machines that the new consoles seem to be?
Build yourself a PC There's an overused stereotype with console fans that PC gaming is too costly and full of snobs who look down on them, the equivalent of enrolling in Harvard if you're a street urchin. Companies like Alienware, who largely peddle over-priced rigs, don't exactly help the stereotype's prevalence. The thing is, the community surrounding the PC market is opening up its doors to the so-called unwashed masses, hoping to make PCs a viable alternative to a console. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of build tutorials circulating the internet, and chances are, you'll find a build that fits your budget. The other good part is that it's never been easier to build a PC, with parts that emphasize modular construction and easy replacement, and it usually doesn't require anything more than basic tools to make it. Heck, you could probably make the case out of Legos and it would still work well.
On the library side of things, it arguably trumps them all. Steam alone has thousands of cheap yet quality games to choose from, and they'll all inevitably look better than their console brethren even on medium specs. It'll also have most of the games the PS4 and Xbone have, and will usually play better than their console counterparts at the right specs. There's also a lot of peripherals to use outside of the traditional mouse and keyboard, which helps add to the variety of games to play. If you want to go into a legal gray area, you can get into the wonderful world of emulators. Don't want to pirate? There's now USB connectors that allow you to play your NES/SNES/Genesis/N64 cartridges on your computer, as well as certain disc drives for rom-dumping.
Buy a Nintendo 3DS and/or a PlayStation Vita The difference between these two systems is nearly night and day, and there's even some kind of rivalry between their fans. And I have to ask, why can't these people be friends? Because you can probably do well by buying both. And at their current price, you can get a 3DS and Vita for the price of a PS4 and get a better library from both!
With the 3DS, you get a fantastic library of first-party games, with the recent release of Pokemon X and Y being the most obvious example, but it also trumps its console brother in sheer variety. Want a hardcore RPG? Have Fire Emblem Awakening and Shin Megami Tensei IV and have your ass beat. Want something slower-paced? Animal Crossing and Rune Factory 4 hold the answer. In the mood for some platforming goodness? Get Super Mario 3D Land, DKC Returns and the Mighty Switch Force games for yo'self. Want to scare yourself shitless? Resident Evil Revelations is probably the scariest RE in years. Need a good multiplayer game? Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Mario Kart 7 are pretty good for that. Want to relive your childhood? Look at the two N64 remakes and a fast-growing library of NES/GB/GBC games. And the library continues to grow, with some great games coming out later this year and into next year, so it'll last you quite a while.
Vita provides something different, but still worthwhile. On the retail front, the unique Gravity Rush, the addicting Persona 4 Golden, and the impressive Killzone Mercenary are definite buys, as well as the variety of good ports to play on the go. the real stars here, however, are the massive amount of indie games. It totally makes up for the lack of retail games when you realize that there's basically an indie game being announced for Vita every other day. How else can you play Thomas Was Alone, Guacamelee and Lone Survivor without a steam account and on the go? You should also take notice of some of the weirder niche stuff coming from the likes of XSEED and NIS America. In addition, if you're planning to buy a PS4 next year, it works as a good companion device, being able to operate and play PS4 games without even touching the power button or even turning on the television.
Play catch up, or go even further back in time The old saying goes is that good things come to those who wait, and nowhere is this more apparent than with consoles nowadays. Launch customers are typically glorified beta testers, as their firmware divisions continuously tweak and refine the usually unfinished operating systems until they're somewhat stable. People that buy consoles well after this get a massive built-in library, a much more stable experience and a lack of the usual hangups experienced during the console's peak. So if you've been holding off on buying a 360, Wii or PS3, there's never been a better time to buy.
But let's say that you missed the consoles prior to that. No problem! You can probably get any console that you'd like for a reasonable price on Ebay or your local pawn shop. People that want less clutter can also buy hybrid consoles, such as the Retron 5, for very reasonable prices on stores like Amazon. Games as early as the Atari 2600 can also be bought this way, and depending on their rarity, you can probably build up a small library of games for little money.
Buy a Wii U I know what you're probably thinking. Why this of all things? Didn't you just present some better options to us? And won't this be the worst next-gen system of the lot?
Well the thing is, the Wii U isn't that bad of a console, it just mostly depends on your taste, which is mainly why I listed this one last. However, there's some tangible benefits of buying it first and getting the other consoles later.
For starters, it's cheaper than the competition, being about $100 less than a PS4 and $200 less than an Xbone. It is also completely backwards compatible with the Wii library, the only next-gen console to have this functionality, so the whole "playing catch-up" thing can apply just as well there. One other thing is that there is a decent selection of bundles to buy this holiday season. There's a Wind Waker bundle that's out already, a Skylanders bundle fer the families, and a Mario bundle as well. So really, it's a much better deal than it was at launch.
As for games, there's a good selection of stuff that's out right now that you will likely never find anywhere else(besides NSMB). Pikmin 3 is easily the best thing that EAD has made since the GameCube, greatly expanding upon the strategy for micro-managing buffs. The Wonderful 101 is probably one of the best action games of the year, along with Metal Gear Rising. Zombi U is probably better than I thought it would be, going heavy with its sense of dread and the paranoia that comes with snooping around in the dark. Rayman Legends may not be exclusive anymore, but it offers one of the most unique multiplayer experiences on the system. Super Mario 3D World is also a bundle of pure joy that needs to be played. Beyond that, there's a lot of promising games on the horizon, such as Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros., Xenoblade 2, Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. There's also a lot of oldies to play, which some may buy mostly because off-TV play is a great feature.
So there you have it. Even if it's not the most popular thing to do, there's a lot more viable options for Christmas than just the ones that everyone is talking about.
So Phil Fish had a self-destructive Twitter meltdown. Again.
This time around, he got so mad that he decided to go "fuck this," shut down his Twitter, completely cancel the development of Fez II, and completely quit video games entirely. Just because of some shit people said about him on Twitter that he only helped worsen. Oh, and Jonathan Blow was involved, but he somehow knew better than to let things escalate to absurd levels.
It's often said that Fish is the best example of the "prima-donna game designer" that has grown increasingly common in this age of twitterings and faces in books. He's highly opinionated, which isn't bad in of itself, but he refuses to consider the validity of other people's arguments, arrogantly believing that he is the only sane one here. He also has the absurd notion that responding to trolls instead of simply ignoring them will make things better or more amusing, which has basically been his own undoing. His antics suggest that of a needy child who does ridiculous things to get attention, only he's a grown ass adult and nobody thinks that it's cute.
However, I'm here to present an alternative argument. That Phil may not even actually act like that, but is using these antics to play the usually gullible press like a violin and simply generate more publicity for his fledgling company. He's quite possibly the Andy Kaufman of video games.
Now, I'll say this. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Fish isn't as clever as he probably thinks he is, and certainly not as clever as the man he probably not coincidentally decided to make his profile pic. But the similarities are there.
Kaufman's act was the epitome of "anti-comedy," acting up in public and using a host of characters and pranks to facilitate that, and even the person who was long thought to be the real Andy Kaufman was an act too. He never told actual jokes, and instead resorted to confusing and making fun of his audience, his peers and the press, and they couldn't get enough of him(well, some of them). More importantly, he was more comfortable hiding behind one of his characters, rarely breaking character as he portrayed horribly unfunny foreign men who could do a dead-on Elvis impression and tone-deaf lounge singers, while occasionally breaking out into a Mighty Mouse singalong. He was often said to have some kind of mental disorder, but that may just be another one of his tricks. The fact that his very real death from cancer was long considered fake speaks volumes about him.
Fish is a bit more ambiguous. His behavior is not out of the ordinary, unfortunately, as displayed by the likes of Cliffy B. and Jonathan Blow, who regularly resort to Twitter to voice their self-righteous "I'm right and everyone else can suck it" crap. But certain aspects of his persona just seem too exaggerated. He loves to stir the pot and poke hornet's nests, playing into the average gamer's mob mentality, and instead of letting it blow over like most internet drama does, he intentionally elevates it to absurd degrees for his own amusement. This creates a variety of amusing little exchanges, and between all the drama, Mr. Fish is probably laughing behind his computer. This isn't limited to Twitter, though. His infamous and very very public "Japanese games suck" outburst seems too similar to your average GameFAQs post to be taken seriously. Or, maybe, this is what he thought he was doing. Not to mention that it's widely thought that he has more than a few mental problems of his own.
Is Phil Fish really faking it? Well, maybe. It would be amusing if he really was playing the comically serious press like a violin, but on the other hand, this is Phil Fish that we're talking about. He may actually have serious problems or is at least a glutton for attention. Or, he could simply be a Kaufman wannabe with delusions of genius. Anything is possible at this point. For all we know, he could be working on Fez II right now, away from the prying eyes of a ravenous press, or currently in the process of getting an early retirement plan from Fez's lifetime sales.
I saw this wonderful concert at the Mann Center last year, and it was the highlight of a summer that was otherwise a bit forgettable. And this concert was kind of a special thing for me at the time. For one, it was the first concert that I ever went to. And I was also a gigantic Zelda fan, though not as much as before, and it was one of the few of its kind to ever pass through Pennsylvania at all.
Despite my reservations, it turned out to be wonderful anyway. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra brought fan-favorite compositions to life with plenty of gusto and fanservice, while catering to the parents and non-fans in the audience as well.
So it's now the middle of summer, I've gained a few new friends and I'm a senior now. I never thought I could experience it again, but it came back anyway, to the same venue, with the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra taking the PSO's place. Will it top last year's extravaganza?
The funny thing about the concert is that it breaks every rule that the symphony traditionally abides by, taking more of a festival-like atmosphere than your typical concert. Pre-show, there's plenty of people walking around in costume waiting for a photo-op. Some were rather impressive, while others still had a homespun charm to them. Besides the multiple Links and Zeldas of all shapes, sizes and colors, there were two Skull Kids running amok(on a full moon, no less), two Tingles for some reason or another, a Happy Mask Salesman with a full backpack, and last but not least, the Groosenator himself.
The sheer energy of the crowd is undeniable. Again, the audience usually forgoes the complete silence demanded of regular orchestral concerts, and it produces an atmosphere roughly similar to that of a rock concert. And who would blame them, when there are people who have come all the way from Florida(according to Streetpass, at least) just to see their favorite hero on stage, set against a world-renowned orchestra?
The actual concert started with a few surprise pieces. Namely, Link's Awakening and Spirit Tracks. The former strings together famous tracks from the Gameboy original, transforming the chirpy music found there into a seven minute epic, including renditions of Mabe Village and, you guessed it, Ballad of the Wind Fish, performing the last song rather differently than last year. Spirit Tracks was slightly hurt by my lack of familiarity with the game, but it was beautiful anyway.
The meat of the concert is the 4 movements, corresponding with a specific timeline path: Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Link To The Past, and Twilight Princess. While the Wind Waker and Twilight Princess movements can be heard in the Skyward Sword bonus CD, ALttP and OOT are entirely unique to the concert. The Link to the Past movement is probably one of the most moving songs of the entire setlist, nearly bringing me to tears in the end credits portion. The Wind Waker uses very celtic elements, OOT sounds pretty much what you would expect, but Twilight Princess is... bombastic. There's a lot of moments that will give you major goosebumps, is what I'm getting at.
Besides the four movements, the opening, and Gerudo Valley, few songs were retained from last year. Conspiciously missing is the Majora's Mask medley and the Ocarina songs. What we have now, though, is a moving rearrangement of Dragon Roost Island, performed with the right combination of nuance and bombast to feel just right, and making up for its conspicous absence from the WW medley. And, for the last song, a Skyward Sword medley that was actually listenable. There's a reason that caused one of the two standing ovations of the night, the other one being caused by A Link to the Past.
Overall, this is a must see for any self-respecting Zelda fan looking for an unforgettable night out. The music, the visuals, and the showmanship of lead conductor Eimear Noone work together to bring Zelda to life. I'm also not against it becoming a regular thing, much like the Distant Worlds concerts and Video Games Live, since everyone deserves to see it. Yes, even you.