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12:34 PM on 06.21.2015

Man, I Can't Wait to Get a PS4... Next Year

Like I do every year, I sat down last week and watched each of the E3 press conferences. Putting aside the usual batch of awkward moments, missteps, and botched announcements, I think a lot of people were more up on the show this year than they have been in a while. Bethesda came out very strong for its first ever press conference, Microsoft and Nintendo continued their upward momentum with more to come at Gamescom and TGS, and the rest of the third parties managed surprisingly well. All and all, I'm looking forward to the next couple years of gaming much more than I did for the previous two.

Sony's E3 Conference Stage

Then there's Sony. I think we can all agree, their conference was packed with some pretty huge announcements and a lot of fanfare. The Last Guardian re-appeared, Guerrilla debuted its new IP, Shenmue 3 got a (now funded) Kickstarter, and Final Fantasy VII is finally being remade as a timed PS4 exclusive. Those are some pretty massive bombshells at a time when so many announcements like these drop before E3 or just end up being leaked. Sony certainly made a good case for the PS4's continued success this generation, adding onto their already impressive 23M unit start. But much like last year's conference I can't help by ask myself: why should I buy one this year?

That's not to say the PS4 has a poor software library by any means. There's about 20 or so multi-platform titles I've held off on to play their best versions on 8th gen, on top of a dozen or so re-releases and some smaller digital stuff I'd like to pick up eventually. And with Assassin's Creed, Dying Light, Evolve, Witcher, and Batman being 8th gen only (with many more to come), I'm definitely going to need to pick up a new system if I'd like to continue playing new releases at all. Since PS4 has the better hardware, it's likely I'll be doing most of my third party gaming there.

PS4's Third Party Support

But that's not reason enough for me to spend $400 on a new console right now. Or even this holiday, for that matter. I'm still not caught up with the previous Infamous, Killzone, and LBP games, Knack, Driveclub, and The Order ended up being disappointments, and while Bloodborne is apparently incredible I've never been one for the Souls games. So that leaves... Until Dawn? I guess we'll see how that one turns out upon release. I'll be honest, my expectations aren't too high.

But next year? Well that's pretty much a guarantee. Ratchet and Uncharted are the reasons I bought a PS3, and they (probably along with Horizon) will be my reasons for buying a PS4. It's not that I wouldn't have plenty to play on Sony's newest hardware, it's just that I can't justify spending the money on an upgrade for ports, indies, and third party games. As a longtime fan of the series, Halo 5 is enough for me to buy an XB1; a decision made that much easier by Sunset Overdrive, 360 backward compatibility, and my Live friends list. And WiiU? With sale prices frequently hitting $250 or lower, the dozen or so exclusives it has even make that a better proposition for me right now than a PS4.

Halo 5 Guardians Multiplayer

Who knows. Maybe there will be some Black Friday deal on a PS4 Battlefront bundle and my inner Star Wars nerd will force me to cave. But at this point, it's looking like I'll be waiting another near to put my PS3 out to pasture. Which I think begs the question: how alone am I in that thinking? On the back of nothing but a $50 price cut and a Halo re-release, the XB1 outsold the PS4 in the US by a third in the two busiest sales months last year. For 2015, Microsoft has Halo 5, an exclusive new Forza, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to a game which did 8M worldwide. The WiiU's exclusives will continue to grow this holiday with Yoshi, Xenoblade, and Star Fox. The PS4 has timed exclusive DLC for COD and Battlefront. That's a bit of a stark contrast.

What about you guys? Have you made the jump to 8th gen yet? Did you pick up a PS4 or another console? Or are you sitting back on PC laughing at all this nonsense? Feedback welcome in the comments, as always.

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1:58 PM on 05.12.2015

Nintendo Needs To Be More Like Valve (But Not How You Think)

First off: hello! For those who might have recognized the username, no I'm not "coming back" to Dtoid beyond the occasional post or upvote in the comments (hold your tears, please). But I do admit: I have missed the blogging, and to be completely honest I'm curious who's still around these days. This topic has been on my mind recently given some news stories that popped up not too long ago, and I figured it'd be a good topic for a blog. Oh, and for those who don't know me: welcome!

Super Mario 64 HD running in Unity

As some of you might have seen, a developer by the name of Roystan Ross had been working to recreate the N64 classic Super Mario 64 in the Unity game engine. For someone trying to learn game development, this is actually a great way to teach yourself. Much in the way an English professor might have you use a stanza of a poem as a jumping off point for your own work, or an artist might recreate one of his favorite paintings for practice, using the mechanics and level design of the first stage in the first ever 3D Mario game can be an incredible learning experience. Not only would you have a (damn good) template to start from, but you actually get to recreate the nuts and bolts of one of the most revolutionary games of its era and see why it worked so well in the first place.

But Mr. Ross took it a step further. His plan wasn't just to recreate a level or two to learn from, but to actually remake the classic with modern tech for a new generation of gamers, putting his own twist on the formula using what the industry has learned about game design in the last two decades or so. A piece of video game fanfiction if you will: "What if Nintendo made Super Mario 64 today?" After all, it's not like Nintendo was ever going to do this themselves. In their 40+ years as a game developer, not once have they ever remade one of their games from scratch. The most we ever get from them is an enhanced rerelease (or an overpriced emulation on Virtual Console).

This part in the story is where opinions split. I've heard a lot of apologism in defense of Nintendo on this topic. A lot of people ignorant to copyright law who think that Nintendo is going to "lose the rights to Mario" if they don't issue cease and desist letters and force modders and fan developers to stop doing these types of projects. A lot of people whose entire thought process on the topic ends at "well it's Nintendo's right and it's legal so too bad". And of course, the largest contingent of apologists: "Can I still pay you $10 to buy Super Mario 64 for the fourth time? Then I don't care."

But few people actually stop and ask: "Why?" What does Nintendo have to gain by shutting down these fan projects? They're not losing the rights to rerelease their product, let alone the intellectual property as a whole (contrary to the belief of some wildly misinformed fans). They're not losing any money on their own remake of the game because (as far as we know) they have no plans to break their company long streak of never doing such a thing themselves. And the best part? You couldn't even play the damn remake on Nintendo's own hardware, thus forcing anyone with their newest console or handheld to buy a copy of the original game through them anyway. But maybe the more important question is this: "What is Nintendo losing by acting this way?"

 The Steam Homepage

Which brings me to the core point of this post: Valve. Unlike Nintendo, who is probably the most polarizing figure in the industry, Valve is easily the most widely loved. Do they have their detractors? Sure. But by and large, the good will that Valve has built up over their years with Steam simply can't have a price put on it. They have over 125 million active users, by far the largest of any digital distribution platform for gaming. Hell, this year Steam broke almost 9M concurrent users: that's more than the entire Wii U installed base to date. Competitive pricing with frequent promotions, cross platform purchases, a unified account system, a full suite of online tools and features, unobtrusive DRM, and a robust but user friendly UI have gotten them here; all things that Nintendo lacks.

There is one more thing, however: support for user generated content. As a part of that active users press release, Valve also announced that they now have over 400 million pieces of user generated content on Steam, from cosmetic items, to content based mods, to full on standalone releases (most of which are built on Source, Valve's own engine which they made the SDK for publicly and freely available). Valve is the antithesis of Nintendo here: not only do they allow people to make mods with their IP and source code, but they actively encourage and help them to do it. And what does Valve get from that? A larger corporate mindshare, more developers who know how to use their tools and engines, a pool of talent to poach from (as they do frequently), a cut of the profits when much of this content is sold directly on Steam, and that unquantifiable good will that Nintendo simply does not have outside their relatively small, dedicated fan base.

Black Mesa vs Half Life '98 comparison 

Oh, and they have this. For those who don't know, Black Mesa (first known as Black Mesa Source) is a total remake of Valve's 1998 classic Half-Life. Built from the ground up in Valve's own Source Engine with a brand new musical score and redone voice acting, the "Crowbar Collective" of about 40 volunteer developers (which began at only 13) aimed to not just recreate but reimagine the original and improve upon it. The first public release came out in late 2012, a full 8 years from its start date. Today, the game is available on Steam's Early Access program for $19.99, of which Valve sees their (assumed) 30% cut from every digital copy sold. All because they publicly released an SDK they already had and gave these guys a platform to sell their product on which already existed. A product which Valve could have legally stopped them from making at any point.

If you haven't picked up on a number of direct parallels and contrasts by now to Nintendo and that Unity fan remake of SM64, you should have. And I'm sure by now a number of you are already formulating a response (read: excuse) for why Nintendo "can't" follow suit. As if there haven't been dozens of console and handheld games since the N64 generation which support user generation content. Or games like Unreal Tournament 3 which allowed you to import mods created on PC into the PS3 version to be played. That the upcoming Mario Maker wouldn't be the perfect platform for Nintendo to test out a model for paid user generation content. Or a laundry list of other retorts I'm sure I could put together in response to the inevitable Nintendo apologism these types of blogs normally bring out.

But I'll leave it at this: Nintendo is fine. They have billions in the bank, they have some of the most easily marketable and widely profitable IPs in the industry, and as long as those two facts remain they won't be leaving the dedicated hardware market any time soon. But 10 or 20 years from now? I don't know. At this rate the WiiU won't outsell the Gamecube lifetime, and it's questionable if the entire platform will ever be a financially profitable endeavor (much as the OG Xbox failed to be). The 3DS will be lucky to sell half the units of its predecessor, falling far short of the OG Game Boy and likely the GBA as well. With 36% of 3DS hardware sales and 40% of software sales coming from Japan, a dramatic increase from the 20-21% for both figures on the GBA and DS, it brings into question how long Nintendo will be able to sustain themselves with Japan as their financial backbone.

Some things are going to need to change. Eventually. This is one of those things that would be relatively simple to implement, assuming Nintendo can bring their corporate culture into 2015 and stop thinking that Amiibos are going to magically solve their long term problems.

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5:33 PM on 09.05.2014

@All: Good Night, and Good Luck

On Sunday I threw up a new post in the community blogs; partly as a response to Holmes' article about the term "gamer", and partially in response to the controversy and ensuing internet shitstorm surrounding independent game developer Zoe Quinn. Some people took the post relatively well. They may not have completely agreed with everything I had to say, but they respectfully gave their two cents in response and could at least understand where my concerns were coming from. And I greatly respect and appreciate that.

A number of the 100+ comments I got on that post however (by far the most attention a c-blog of mine has ever gotten), largely fell into two general categories. The first: "Stop talking about this, shut up and play games, you're not accomplishing anything with your blog, this isn't serious and your concerns aren't valid." The second: "You gamers are making a controversy out of nothing, in the process blaming the victim of your baseless harassment, these types of relationships are perfectly fine, there is nothing to investigate, and there is no legitimate conflict of interest or concern about impartiality." These post have more or less mirrored the comments section of the front page.

For the former group, I tried to make the case that this situation is more complicated than they might realize. That the press absolutely does have an influence on the industry and has for decades. That the direction the art medium takes is shaped by more than just core consumers, and it will change for the worse at the rate we're going. To the latter group, I began formulating a response on how these types of relationships would either (A) require full disclosure or (B) result in firings if we were talking about another industry. But more importantly, that there is absolutely something to investigate here even if a vocal minority have ruined the discourse on the other side of the fence. Never even made it that far, though.

I then headed back to work from Labor Day Weekend and I stopped caring. Not about the issue (which I do still find important), but about spending time discussing it here. As you're probably aware (for better or for worse), I'm been by far one of the most active commenters this site. I've greatly enjoyed the debates, discussions, and general discourse I've had here. I've seen a dozen different Dtoid staffs come and go over the last 5 years, some which I've really admired. I've also met a number of people on here who I could honestly consider friends, regardless of whether or not I know their name, where they're from, or anything about their personal life. And I've unfortunately watched quite a few of them leave here as well.

I think I'm done with the comments section on the front page and the community blogs (please, contain your excitement). After Dtoid decided to take the "safe" road, ignore the controversy, and basically tell us that nothing is changing in regard to their policies on press relationships and game funding, I'm not sure I want to be a part of this site anymore. And with the community slowly turning angrier and more hostile to anything that doesn't fit into the narrow hive mind they've established for many topics, there's really no reason to stay for them either. I'm tired of reading "inb4 ctg867" for having an opinion different than yours (one that I argue and explain rationally and intelligently no less). Especially when half the time I'm just posting memes to avoid the hostility entirely because I've grown tired of the ignorant hatred that's directed at me and a small minority of others who share some of my views.

This isn't making me happy anymore. I'm out of college and finally have a full time job in my field. Monday through Friday I have less than 7 hours a day to cook, shower, shave, do laundy and food shopping, upkeep my apartment, run errands, etc. And that's before I have any free time to myself. I've made more new music with a friend of mine in the last month than I did in the last year, and shit like that is honestly how I want to spend more of my time from now on. Oh, and actually playing video games, something I wonder if the STFUAJPG people actually do anymore themselves. Not drowning in this hate and vitriol. Not all of you are part of the problem. I love a lot of you guys and I enjoy shooting the shit, debating, or talking games and culture with you. But you're a slowly shrinking segment of this community, and that's incredibly unfortunate. It doesn't help when new staff members are sinking to the level of the majority here and encouraging childish, inflammatory, unconstructive behavior in the comments and on the front page.

On the flip side, I'm sure a lot of you are happy about this. That there's one less person here to disagree with your dogma. That it'll be easier to argue on the FP with fewer people that actually know how to construct a competent counterpoint. That you'll have one less "SJW" who would challenge you to think about this medium as art and entertainment, not just sex games and kids toys "because this isn't important". To those people I say this: stay salty, bitches ;-)

You might see a comment out of me from time to time or an upvote when somebody says something I like. But beyond that, my days of being part of the Dtoid community are over. To those sticking around who have enjoyed talking with me over the years (as I have with you), I wish y'all the best of luck and I hope you can keep this place going for the better. Keep fightin' the good fight, whatever you feel that is. It's been real. Cheers.

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1:24 AM on 09.01.2014

Appropriation, Ethics, and the Death of the Gaming Community

Like a lot of Gen Xers and early Millennials who were into games and technology, I grew up on the receiving end of some bullying for my interests. Some people got it worse than others. Walking into high school at six feet tall helped me dodge the physical end of it, and in all honesty that's the hardest kind to avoid. The verbal, social, internet based stuff? Yea. I admit it definitely impacted my development, and there are psychological and emotional hang ups from it which I still carry.



But I lived. Like just about everyone who was in my position. Yea, we were nerds and geeks with culturally foreign interests who could be socially awkward and didn't always know how best to approach the opposite sex. But we figured it out. We may have argued amongst ourselves about the best console or operating system, but at the end of the day we were all techies or gamers or whatever we called ourselves. There was unity in that. Strength, even. That these were people who shared your interests, cared about what you cared about, and weren't going to marginalize or belittle you for it.

Today? Well things are somewhat different. The box office revolves around comic book movies, everyone walks around with a computer in their pocket, and most people probably have a dedicated gaming device of some sort in their home. Nerd culture is no longer foreign, it's a major part of American culture. And in many ways, I see this as an achievement. That our community is the one which rose to the tops of society, which found avenues to make its art and products critically and commercially successful, and which made it a cornerstone of what people enjoy and use today.



As we've clearly seen over the last few weeks, this is not without some serious pitfalls. What we should be having a conversation about right now is integrity in games writing. How personal relationships and conflicts of interests have compromised the impartiality and ethics of the industry, and how games writers and developers both need to be more aware and transparent about how they do their jobs. Instead, I find myself here backed into a corner by this vitriol, looking on as my culture is being both simultaneously appropriated for a "cause" and burned to the ground at its core by a sad segment of the internet on a perpetual warpath.

I'm glad that the people playing, making, and discussing games are more diverse than they've ever been (even though we still have a ways to go). This is something that everyone should openly welcome and encourage as it directly, tangibly leads to unique and quality experiences that we otherwise never would have played. But with this massive, diverse community of gamers has come exposure. Exposure that has inevitably led to spotlight being shined on the worst parts of the gaming community. Parts that every culture is unfortunately saddled with. But instead of these specific segments being exposed and criticized, the entire gaming community is being dragged down with it.



Why? Because while our art and entertainment is accepted, we as gamers are still not. We may be able to sit down and talk about our interests with more people than we ever have been before, but we haven't stopped being marginalized as people. That the entire gaming community can be broadly generalized and attacked by wide swaths of the internet over the last month, including the very fucking people who have put food on their tables for the better part of their adult lives on the backs of this very community, is sickening. We are not what a tiny group of assholes on the internet have misled people into thinking we are. We're not what self-proclaimed feminists, journalists, and activists claim we are for page views and to further their careers. We're gamers, god dammit. Respect that shit.

And yes. I use that word. GAMERS. Just like athletes, sports fans, film buffs, hip hop heads, sneaker whores, gun owners, or any other group of hobbyists or enthusiasts who have labeled themselves with a name of some sort. This is not an exclusive group, it's an inclusive one. Gender, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic standing, sexual orientation, nationality, language, age, I don't give a fuck what you are and anyone who does isn't a part of this community. There is one rule and one rule only to join the gamer club: be genuinely interested and appreciative of the art form. The people harassing others over this shit? They don't get to be in the gamer club. Why? They're assholes, and they don't represent us. So stop acting like they do.



As I'm sure you're aware, Jonathan Holmes wrote his weekly piece of clickbait today, and as is usually the case some people here were annoyed by how poorly thought it was and how he yet again generalized large portions of the games community to make his "point". Why this man continues to be given a soap box on this site is beyond me. Who knows. Maybe Hamza and Dale feel some irrational sense of loyalty to an individual who brought controversy to this site with years of his condescension and passive aggressive opinion pieces. This time was a little different, though. His discussion on the perceived move towards a death of the term "gamer" is strangely one of a dozen pieces exactly like it all throughout the games press this weekend. All arguing for the exact. Same. Thing.

If you raised an eyebrow at that, you should have, and this is really the core point of this post: games writing is dead. As we saw with the Zoe Quinn controversy and the conflicts of interest that were created from her multiple romantic relationships with both writers and developers, this is an incredibly incestuous industry and no one seems to have a problem with that. It's not some giant conspiracy, it's just a close group of people who think and act similarly in furthering their interests. In short, we've developed our own Hollywood and all the terrible shit that comes from such an environment. First, you had a complete industry wide blackout on the controversy, and now you have and effort to dissolve the very group of people who called you out on your bullshit.



And again, I feel the need to make this perfectly fucking clear: this isn't a conspiracy theory. It's not some carefully constructed web of lies and deceit. It's very, very simple. People got some fame, people made some money, and now they want to hang on to both. And guess who's gotta take it on the chin this month to make that happen? Yup. Us gamers. And what's the message? "Hey, let's all get along and stop fighting you guys." Which sounds like a great message, right? I mean, who wants to keep fighting about this shit? Let's just play and enjoy the games, am I right?

But it's not that simple. Because we're not just bickering with each other anymore. We're not arguing over consoles or genres or franchises. We're targeting this at you. The people who called yourselves "journalists" for the credibility but then gave up and settled on "blogger" because ethics are too hard of a concept for you to wrap your heads around. The people whose pre-release coverage, review scores, and game of the year awards meant something to us because we trusted you for some basic level of fairness and impartiality. But now? Apparently personal and romantic relationships with those who make the products you built a career on is totally fine. And no. This isn't something we need to discuss, so don't expect any of us to actually report on it (spoiler alert: not a single games site has).



So instead, let's talk about gamers. Let's talk about how you people use that term to attack and exclude others, and not just because you're proud of your interests. Let's talk about how you're really just a bunch of insecure children desperately looking for a label, not enthusiasts who are just as dedicated as film buffs or audiophiles are. And let's talk about how you really just want to play the victim here, and you actually haven't been the target of non-stop cultural bashing and sweeping generalizations over the last few weeks (and well before that).

Because if we didn't, then maybe we would actually have to start addressing the incestuous and unethical practices we've been engaging in for years. And we sure as shit can't have that, now can we?   read


1:27 AM on 07.28.2014

The Greatest of All Time: #8 - God of War

First off, I wouldn't actually call these the "greatest games of all time". That was just a catchy headline to bring you here. Because to be fair, I haven't played every game, or even most of the ones that are widely considered "the greatest". But for me, these are the ten greatest titles that have had the largest impact on my tastes and interests as a gamer. There's a lot that I left out of course, and my list largely focuses on character driven, single player experiences. Be warned, there will probably be some spoilers if you're unfamiliar with the source material. Following Ratchet & Clank 2 at number nine, let's continue with eight:

8) God of War
Developer: SCE Santa Monica, Publisher: Sony
Release: March 22, 2005 (PS2, PS3, Vita)


Just wait 'til I get to the top of that thing. You're in for such an ass beating.

Once upon a time, in a land where broadband wasn't ubiquitous and people still read text printed on sheets of paper, I had a subscription to a number of gaming magazines. One of them was the Ziff Davis published Official Playstation Magazine, commonly referred to as OPM. While I did actually read it for a number of years, I mainly got it for the PS2 demo disc that came with every issue. Most gamers from that era will have a least one story about a game they never would have played without a demo disc, but immediately fell in love with. For me, that game was God of War.

The opening level to the game (and the demo) starts you in the Aegean Sea, jumping from ship to ship amidst the crew's fight against the Hydra. The first thing you notice is how accessible but rewarding it is to actually play. As you fight through waves of undead soldiers on your quest, the game slowly introduces you to its core mechanics. Light and heavy attacks, grabs, dodging and blocking, and most importantly your combos. A fixed camera gives you the perspective to see everything you need to, allowing you to focus on what's really important: killing everything in your path.


Oh, I'm sorry. Did you need that neck? With you being undead and all I assumed not.

Simple enough, right? And that's exactly why God of War works so well: it's simple. You don't need to worry about obnoxious tutorials, memorizing lengthy combos, or dealing with some cumbersome weapon switching menu. Give a Dualshock to anybody remotely familiar with games and they'll immediately be able to pick up and play God of War. Not because it's shallow, it just has one of the best learning curves you'll ever find in a video game. If you don't know something yet, you'll cross that bridge when you get to it. No aspect of the game is ever overwhelming because Santa Monica never throws too much at you at once. In game design terms, this is called passive learning. The gamer becomes familiar with a mechanic by being given an environment where it's fun and easy to experiment with it themselves. The introduction to a new tool or system should be exciting, never frustrating, tedious, or confusing.

Luckily, God of War doesn't have this problem. You slowly build a mastery of the combat and are introduced to more combos, items, and techniques without every getting lost or confused in the process. But it doesn't feel as simple as it really is. Your first fight against the Hydra is a complete surprise. It breaks through the ship you're on, and with only about 10-15 minutes of game time under your belt you manage to beat it back. And man does it feel good. The first time you land a hit with the Plume of Prometheus, the game going into slow-mo with you in mid-air, right before you come smashing down on the beast in a golden explosion is just... wow. Never has an easy, three button combo made you feel like such a fucking badass.


What's that? I'm sorry, I can't hear you with all those wood planks in your mouth.

Call of Duty doesn't just have hit markers in multiplayer to let you know when you land your shots. More importantly, it's there because it feels good. There's a response that lets you know when you've succeeded as a gamer. A visual, an audio queue, a controller vibration. When done right, this acts as an acknowledgement of your win state (however small) and an encouragement to proceed. The foundation of God of War is built on this design philosophy. Every hit you land, every enemy you kill, every orb that comes flying out of a fallen foe and rushes towards you with a satisfying "ahh" that's designed to evoke the feeling of sipping a cold rink on a hot day. It all comes together to build a drip feed of instant gratification.

All of this is made that much more gratifying with the quick time events. Unfortunately, QTEs have gotten a bad rap in light of all the games after God of War and Resident Evil 4 which use them. They're often criticized for being a game design crutch, taking meaningful control out of the player's hands and boiling it down to rudimentary button prompts. In many games this is true, but in God of War it couldn't be further from the case. For smaller interactions, it helps make the game a little more engaging (ie: something as simple as opening a door). For larger interactions, it becomes a really gratifying, visual conclusion to a successful enemy encounter.


You just keep spewing that lava around. Just ignore the wooden stake launcher in the back.

While it would be easy to point to the boss fights to demonstrate this, I don't have to. The gratifying "ching" every time you hit a QTE prompt, the ensuing attack, and the orbs that flow when you're done all come together to validate your mastery of the game mechanics after a boss fight. But Santa Monica's brilliance in execution comes from the area to area fights. The ones where your health is low and a Minotaur, who yields green health orbs from its QTE finisher, is literally the difference between life and death. And as the game goes on and gets more challenging, the speed at which you need to mash circle in order successful execute the QTE ramps up as well. The Cyclops encounters build a similar tension and reward system with the player, where a QTE prompt is a shortcut to a quick kill of a very dangerous foe.

From a game design perspective, God of War executes what it set out to do almost flawlessly. That being said, I wouldn't have put it on my list if it wasn't for the story that carries you through the carnage. Not because it has groundbreaking writing or because it explores complex themes. The reasoning, much like the core game mechanics, is simple: Santa Monica made a hell of an epic Greek tragedy. From the opening cutscene, all you know is that the protagonist Kratos attempts to commit suicide after the Gods of Olympus apparently abandon him. The game starts, however, three weeks earlier. Every few levels you get another cutscene where the narrator gives you bits and pieces of Kratos' story. This mystery is a major driving force for the plot's progression. The game's story is told in an incredibly non-linear fashion (knowing the future, playing in the present, learning the past), and it leads to a very Tarantino-esque rise (and fall?) tale.


Oh, Kratos. If you only had a clue what you were in for when this began.

The truth to this mystery, however, is likely far from what the player would expect. A great general in the Spartan Army, Kratos gave his life to Ares (the God of War, for those not up on your Greek mythology) in exchange for defeating his enemies and saving his life right as defeat was upon him. That sacrifice was more than he bargained for, and in the midst of his newly granted power, rage, and bloodlust he unknowingly kills his wife and daughter. As punishment for his sins, the ashes of his loved ones are permanently burned to his now pale skin, earning him the nickname "Ghost of Sparta". In a quest to be rid of the nightmares that haunt him, Kratos now lives as a servant of Olympus.

Though I commend Santa Monica for crafting their own Greek tragedy with God of War, the gameplay implications of this are what matter most to me. You play through the bulk of this game under the impression that you are, at least to some degree, a "good guy". You may be ruthless, but defeating evil monsters and fighting for the Goddess of Wisdom seems like a noble cause. Before the truth is revealed, the "nightmares" that are spoken of seem to be the horrors of war. That Kratos is a noble warrior struggling to repent for the causalities of his slaughter. And when Ares turns against you and his fellow Gods, taking him down seems like the logical thing to do as the "hero" of our story.


As much as the player wishes it were true, God of War is no redemption story.

But you're not a hero. You're a bloodthirsty coward who chose to live as a slave instead of dying a man, and ended up killing his wife and kid in a fit of blind rage as a result. Is Ares evil? Sure. He's the embodiment of war. But how are you any better than he is? Blades and ashes bonded to your flesh as a constant reminder of what you've become. The Gods never "abandoned" Kratos. As you find out by the game's conclusion, you could never be freed of your sins as no man could ever be forgiven for them. His suicide was an attempt to finally rid himself of the nightmares, and in turn rid of the world of the monster that is Kratos. For a game built on incremental rewards, the ending leaves you to question what you really accomplished with all this.

And on one final note, I would be remiss if I didn't praise the soundtrack of this game. Really one of the best from its generation. Everything I've said thus far is doubly awesome with that music. Really powerful, energetic, ready-to-kick-some-ass type stuff. That being said, you know the deal. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and if you like what you've read feel free to give it a heart/upvote. Hoping to keep this series going all the way to number one, so be sure to check back for the next post in a few days. If you haven't had a chance, check out numbers 9 and 10 here.   read


5:53 PM on 07.24.2014

The Greatest of All Time: #9 - Ratchet & Clank 2

First off, I wouldn't actually call these the "greatest games of all time". That was just a catchy headline to bring you here. Because to be fair, I haven't played every game, or even most of the ones that are widely considered "the greatest". But for me, these are the ten greatest titles that have had the largest impact on my tastes and interests as a gamer. There's a lot that I left out of course, and my list largely focuses on character driven, single player experiences. Be warned, there will probably be some spoilers if you're unfamiliar with the source material. Following Kotor at number ten, let's continue with nine:

9) Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Developer: Insomniac, Publisher: Sony
Release: November 11, 2003 (PS2, PS3, Vita)


Furry protagonist, robot sidekick, big guns, giant explosions. Okay, I'm in.

When people refer to a game as "formulaic", it's usually done so with a negative connotation. Many annualized franchises today get that term thrown at them as a criticism. With Ratchet & Clank, the opposite is often true. Much like Dota or WoW, the formula to Ratchet's gameplay is by far its greatest strength, and what's allowed the franchise to spawn nine main installments, three spin offs, and a PS4 remake of the original coming next year.

By Christmas 2003 I had already owned a PS2 for a full year, and two of my uncles decided to buy me the first couple Ratchet games as a gift. I didn't ask for them, but I read in Game Informer that they were made by the guys who did Spyro (which I still love to this day), so I was excited to play them. And for the most part, I enjoyed the first game. The humor, the weapons, the interesting worlds. Unsurprisingly reminded me a lot of Spryo, so I was happy.

But the sequel is what really grabbed me. The shift to proper dual stick, strafe and look controls was a massive improvement over the original. Combat was now significantly more frantic as the developers were able to expect much more in terms of what the player was capable of doing. So from a mechanical perspective, Insomniac really nailed it with Going Commando. But even more important were the addition of upgradable weapons, health, and armor to the original's shoot, explore, and collect formula. Way before this trend was everywhere, Insomniac found a way to enhance progression with RPG elements in a genre that rarely featured it.


One of the earliest third person games that really nailed dual stick controls.

But why is this so important? One of the biggest issues with the first Ratchet game (beyond its controls) was the lack of encouraged variety in player behavior. When you got a gun that worked, you stuck with it. Sure, there were certain situations where some weapons were clearly better than others. For the most part though, once you got the automatic blaster and the rocket launcher, you stuck with them. If that was the most effective way to progress as a player (and the first Ratchet was really hard in some places), why change what wasn't broken?

For Going Commando, every time you killed an enemy with a weapon you got a little experience on that gun for using it. Once you hit a certain point, the weapon upgraded into a stronger, improved version. Here's the kicker, though: sometimes you'd end up with a functionally different weapon as a result. That gun that shot streams of lava at enemies? Now it shoots balls of molten magma. The one that shot balls of plasma? Now it sends out shock waves as it flies, bouncing off multiple walls (or enemies) until it explodes. The shield charger now shocked back at enemies. The ray that turns enemies to sheep? Now they're giant exploding sheep. You weren't just rewarded with more killing power for using a gun you otherwise wouldn't. Often you'd end up with a different tool in your arsenal that pushed you to think and fight in different ways.


The Sheepinator upgrades to the Black Sheepinator. Yup. Still makes me laugh.

Once you hit the experience cap, you couldn't level the weapon up any further. Unless you were fighting a boss, using already upgraded weapons on regular enemies felt like a waste. The solution? Use a gun that you didn't have upgraded yet. Suddenly, the second biggest issue with the first game is solved. As a player, you're incentivized to rotate your arsenal and upgrade all your weapons. The curve at which you get bolts (your in-game currency) and are able to buy new weapons is set up so you'll almost never be without something to level. As such, this guiding mechanic was able to push you through the game from start to finish.

Was there a great deal of variety in the worlds you visited and the enemies you faced? Of course. But at the end of the day, all you're really doing is strafing, aiming, and shooting at bad guys while you dodge their own attacks. Being incentivized to constantly change the weapons you used (which were already very unique from each other) made the game rarely feel repetitious. When you factor in the weapon mods, it added another layer to this. Things always felt new, and they always felt fresh. They managed to create a gameplay hook that always kept you moving forward. Studios will spend decades making games but never really manage to pull that off.


Fuck finding stars in Super Mario 64. Collecting these bad boys was the shit.

In order to get weapon mods though, you had to spend your collectable Platinum Bolts. Why is it always fun to explore in Zelda? You get cool shit for it. There's a feedback loop there that works, and it incentivizes certain action by the player. Same thing here, and Insomniac were nice enough to add an item late in the game that highlighted the general area for Platinum Bolt locations on your map. If you were smart, you could get them all without ever needing outside help. You also had Skill Points: vague level specific challenges that accomplished the same thing. They may not have had as big of a gameplay reward (they only unlocked cosmetic changes), but they too got you to try things you might not normally do. Plus there was an interesting thought puzzle involved in deciphering the descriptions and finding how to even complete them in the first place.

Which bring me to my second point. Beyond that feedback loop, the optional "macro-games" in Ratchet did a great job of breaking up the gameplay and letting you do something cool and different for a while. One of them was the arena, which presented you with increasingly difficult and varied combat challenges that rewarded you with bolts (and sometimes unique items). Some would limit your weapon choice, others had a time limit, a few required you to complete it with full health, and a couple threw unique boss enemies at you. The second arena also had a mode that flung you in the air onto what was basically the inside of a hollow cylinder. With your Gravity Boots, you'd fight off waves of teleporting enemies as the lava filled arena below you seemed to spin in the background as you strafed.


My god, I've probably spent hundreds of hours in the arena alone over the years.

Maybe you'd be interested in the two hoverbike courses in the game which also featured increasingly difficult and varied challenges. As you progressed, track short cuts and weapon pickups unlocked, and competitors got much more aggressive. How about space combat, fighting off enemy ships, space wasps, and ghosts from your starfighter. Not fast or well armed enough? There's a couple planets were you can mine the comically named "Raritanium" to trade for ship upgrades. Which are coincidentally the same places you find buried crystals you can trade to a crazy old hermit for bolts. Hell, the grind rails, glider segments, and hacking minigames within levels were great at breaking up the experience in and of themselves.

Up Your Arsenal, the sequel to Going Commando, built on a lot of this. They ditched the hoverbikes and space ships (to which I ask, WHY?), but kept the arena and crystal collecting while adding a couple new things. They lacked the character or the variety of the original macro-games though, and ultimately failed to live up to them. In all honesty, no Ratchet game since has managed to nail this pacing so well. They were all optional, so if you wanted to skip part of all of them you could. But they were a great way to break up the experience and help reward you with bolts for your main journey. Again: feedback loops. Insomniac gets them.


The Star Explorer is in desperate need of a return. I miss my ship combat!

And the proverbial icing on the cake? Challenge Mode, aka new game plus. I couldn't actually beat Ratchet 1 when I first played it. I got stuck at the final boss, put it down, and picked up Going Commando (which I proceeded to tear through). So I had no idea the series had a challenge mode. Hell, at that point I had never played any game with one. Beating the final boss wasn't even the real reward; getting to take all my shit and start the game over was. And that's immediately what I did. Insomniac however, added a twist: every enemy you kill ups your bolt multiplier by one. Every time you get hit, it drops to zero. And now you can buy new upgrades for all your weapons that will let you level them up one more time. Which is great, because now all of your enemies are dramatically harder to killer. They really weren't joking when they said challenge, eh?

You might have notice I've skipped elaborating on some of the things Ratchet & Clank is known for, namely its humor, weapons, and art design. Like I said, they're all great. Insomniac knows how to get that atmosphere right and it's part of why I'm so excited for Sunset Overdrive. That game basically looks like the spiritual successor to Ratchet I've been waiting for. But those aspects aren't the reason why I'm immediately addicted to these games as soon as I pick them up. That perfected feedback loop is the reason, and it may very well be Insomniac's greatest achievement as a developer. If there is such a thing as gameplay "perfection", at least for mechanics, they did it.


Crazy to think how far this franchise has come in a decade. It looks incredible now.

Any fellow Ratchet fans out there? Anybody who's never got a chance to play one but was interested in doing so? Or are you one of those people who think Jak and Sly were better series? (It's okay to be wrong, I still love you). Whatever the case, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, as always, and if you like what you've read feel free to give it a heart/upvote. Hoping to keep this series going all the way to number one, so be sure to check back for the next post in a few days. Oh, and if you haven't read number ten yet, definitely check that out here.   read


6:57 PM on 07.21.2014

The Greatest of All Time: #10 - Kotor

First off, I wouldn't actually call these the "greatest games of all time". That was just a catchy headline to bring you here. Because to be fair, I haven't played every game, or even most of the ones that are widely considered "the greatest". But for me, these are the ten greatest titles that have had the largest impact on my tastes and interests as a gamer. There's a lot that I left out of course, and my list largely focuses on character driven, single player experiences. Be warned, there will probably be some spoilers if you're unfamiliar with the source material. With that, let's start with number ten:

10) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Developer: BioWare, Publisher: LucasArts
Release: July 15, 2003 (Xbox, Win, Mac, iOS)


Come on, man. Even the damn box art looks like it should be a Star Wars movie poster.

As far as Star Wars games are concerned, the ones that really manage to encapsulate that massive universe and put you in the driver's seat of the hero (or villain), Kotor is easily the best thing LucasArts ever published. While most Star Wars games focused on the Skywalker Saga of the films, Kotor went back. About 4,000 years back, to be specific. The "Old Republic Era" that Kotor exists in was established by the Tales of the Jedi comic series first released in 1993. Choosing this time period afforded Bioware a significant amount of leeway in how they told their story. They didn't have to be concerned with canonical restrictions from the movies. This early design decision is responsible for Kotor's greatest strength: choice.

A lot of people from my generation and earlier probably remember those "choose your own adventure" books from when you were a kid (also known as gamebooks). Rather than being taken through a linear story as told by the author, you got to choose how to proceed in your quest, jumping back and forth between pages when given the option. Kotor wasn't the first game to give you choice in how the plot progressed. Adventure games had been doing that for decades. What Kotor did manage to do was create a 3D world that felt like the Star Wars films, but gave you meaningful choice over not only your story, but the stories of your companions as well.


Getting the white Force aura from being full light side? A reward in and of itself.

While Kotor had multiple endings, most of your decisions in the game had no impact on its conclusion. This might seem like an issue, but it wasn't. BioWare didn't need to create weight to character choice by dangling influence on the plot's conclusion over your head like a carrot. When it came to the light side/dark side choices, they did this through gameplay. The more good or bad decisions you made, the more powerful your light or dark side oriented powers like Force Heal or Force Lightening would become. While it didn't drastically influence your power (and Mass Effect arguably improved on the system), it was enough to make you think about these decisions from a gameplay perspective. It wasn't just about morality and choice, it was about how it impacted the way you played.

Even when Force Points weren't involved, player choice still had gameplay implications. Sure, you had experience, money, and loot to think about. But more importantly, you had to consider what path your dialogue choices would take you down. On my dark side playthroughs, finding ways to double cross and manipulate people was probably more fun than it should have been. Each NPC seemingly coming to life when the opportunity presented itself to "outthink" them. This was vital to how you played on Korriban, the home of the Sith Academy. Could I turn these students against each other (and their masters), then loot the goodies from the blood bath? Sure. But if I'm trying to play a good character, pretending to be evil put you on pretty thin ice as a player. The thought puzzle here was equally engaging. How could I complete my mission without making dark side choices? You had to think like a Jedi to be one.


The maze of dialogue choices on Korriban easily outclasses the maze of Sith tombs.

This system of morality and choice leads into Kotor's second greatest strength. Few titles before it (and in all honesty, few after) have managed to make each member of your party feel so significant. Most RPGs try and do this with combat abilities and cutscenes, both of which can be effective from a design perspective. And to be fair, Kotor did this too. When you finally "rescued" Bastila on Taris after hours of searching, adding her to your party felt empowering. You didn't just care about Bastila cause you went through the damn trouble of saving her. You care because she drastically shifts the power dynamic in your party, adding an entirely new selection of tools to use in battle. She was important in both plot and gameplay, especially before your player character got his own lightsaber.

But more than that, you care about Bastila (and the rest of your crew) for a very simple reason: you talk to them. As much as I loved the fighting, looting, and exploration of Kotor, more so than anything I was just excited to get back on the Ebon Hawk and talk to everyone in my crew. Every time you leveled up, you weren't just rewarded with higher stats and newer abilities. You unlocked new dialogue with your party. The conversation wasn't just awarding for being well voice acted, or for having great writing that managed to engage you in something so passive; the conversation itself was the reward.


Kotor: the thing the made listening to old men rant an enjoyable gameplay experience.

How is my relationship developing with Bastila? What secret is Carth hiding? Will Canderous have more stories about the Mandalorian Wars? Can I manage to turn Juhani away from the dark side? Hell, the entire mission to rebuild HK-47 is probably one of my favorite quests in an RPG. I didn't plan my trip to each planet around min-maxing, sticking with the same characters over and over again. Based on my conversations with the crew, I would make my best guess about who would be most interesting to bring along and who would have the best chance of starting an impromptu mission. The plot affected the gameplay, and in turn the gameplay affected the plot. That, at its core, is sound game design.

Everything I've mentioned thus far, player choice and your companions, is all before I even get to what set Kotor apart from the many Star Wars games before it: how good it felt to play as a Jedi. The first time you have Bastila in your party, it's like you put in a damn cheat code. Her lightsaber cuts through enemies with ease, she dodges or blocks most attacks against her, and you finally have ability to heal your allies with a Force power after hours of rationing your medical supplies instead. Much as Zero is a tease of what to come in Mega Man X, Bastila is a foreshadowing of what Jedi powers will soon be at your disposal.


Bow to the power of an almighty SITH LORD! Sorry... got a little carried away there.

By the time the game ends and you hit level 20, your character is nearly untouchable. Force Wave and Force Lightening can hit a dozen enemies at a time, Force Heal and Death Field keep your party at full health and continuing to deal out damage. And by the time you face Darth Malek, after forty hours of him destroying planets, almost killing you multiple times, and potentially turning one of your crew members against you, Force Choking him during your final one on one encounter makes you wanna start throwing Vader one liners at the guy. I can't harp on this enough: BioWare nailed feeling like a Force wielder.

But as you know from the films, being a Jedi is more than just killing the big bad guy. It took three films for Vader or the Emperor to go down for the count, after all. As I mentioned at the beginning, the journey here is much more than just a buildup to your fight with Malek. Your visit to Tatooine is the best example of this. In one trip, which adds up to less than a fifth of the entire game, you bump into Bastila's mother, you buy HK-47, you make peace (or war) with the Sand People, you fight Czerka Corporation, and you kill a krayt dragon. None of which have anything to do directly with Malek or the main quest. But everything still manages to be exciting and the choices are still engaging. Sure you're fighting, leveling up with new powers, finding new lightsaber parts, and adding up your credits. But the adventure feels like it belongs in Star Wars. It manages to capture the magic and be a part of that film universe better than any Star Wars game before or after it. And it did this with a prequel that goes 4,000 years in the past.


BioWare gave me this feeling in the form of a video game. What else can I ask for?

Knights of the Old Republic is not only a crowning achievement for Western role playing games, but for player choice within the art medium as a whole. Every time I pick this game up, I'm immediately lost in it. Suddenly 30 or 40 hours have gone by in an unhealthily short period of time. No RPG has managed to grab me like Kotor has. The Mass Effect series has been a good spiritual successor of sorts, and it brought a lot of innovation in gameplay and UI design. Ultimately though, I don't think those games stand up to BioWare's work on Kotor. And I really hope that the Swtor MMO isn't the last we'll see of Star Wars RPGs.

Have any fond memories of Kotor? Wanna join me in complaining about the lack of a Kotor III? Or maybe you'd like to tell me I'm crazy and that Kotor is actually a buggy, broken, overrated mess? Whatever the case, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, as always, and if you like what you've read feel free to give it a heart/upvote. Hoping to make this a ten part series (as you could probably guess), so be sure to check back for number nine in the next couple of days.   read


11:28 PM on 07.09.2014

How Sony could save the Playstation Vita (but won't)

As it stands, the Vita's probably only getting two types of games from here on out: things that will make a profit with just the Japanese market, and ports of PSN and Steam indie games developed first elsewhere. As much as Sony seems dead set on turning the Vita into a glorified WiiU GamePad for the PS4, it could easily be just as good as the PSP or 3DS as a standalone handheld. So let's take a trip down hypothetical road and imagine how things could have been different.

Leveraging the Back Catalog:


What's that? Another excuse to post an image of Crash Bandicoot? You got it.

One of the major uses for my Vita over the last few months has been for PS1 emulation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love those games. Problem is it only became that way for me because Sony screwed up and let you download any PS1 game you can buy on PS3 or PSP directly to the Vita. Due to licensing issues Sony is either unwilling or unable to resolve, you can't normally do this with every PS1 Classic (especially in North America).

This is something that definitely needs to be resolved. More than 1,200 PS1 games were released during the system's lifetime. Less than 150 are available on Vita in North America, including the Japanese imports. What gives, Sony? The PSP library available on Vita is also much smaller than it could be. And given that we know the PS3 is capable of software PS2 emulation (thank you hackers), why not bring that library to Vita as well? The system is nearly as powerful as a PS3. Hell, they have Dreamcast emulators running on tablets and smartphones with similar internal specs to the Vita. Why not expand Classics to Sega's backlog, like Nintendo has done on the Wii and 3DS with Virtual Console?


Turning my Vita into a Genesis emulator? Sign me up, please.

Is this the only thing the Vita needs to be? Of course not. But the idea of having a portable PS1 and PS2, in addition to the Dreamcast, Saturn, Genesis, and more? Could you imagine a device like this a few years ago? And given how close the Vita is to the PS3 in power, why not go for all three generations? You couldn't emulate it of course, but you could bring over the best PS3 games to Vita. Fuck The Last of Us on PS4. Why not The Last of Us and all three Uncharted games on Vita. Give me a discount for buying it once on PS3 (if not Cross Buy) and I'd be a lot more okay with double dipping.

Finding a Middle Ground with Third Parties:

Ideally, I would love for Sony to go to Ubisoft and say "we'll pay to bring Far Cry 4 to Vita, you just have to sell it Cross Buy with the PS3 and PS4 versions". Forget system exclusive content. Give me a free copy of something on my handheld and I'll buy all my third party games on your console instead of the competitor's. Remote Play with PS4 and using PS Now for PS3 games is nice, but this is a far superior solution.


Won't look like it does on PS4, but I'd still love to take my Far Cry destruction on the go.

Would that put more of a cost on Sony's end? Yes, but I think it'd be worth it. It'll bring more third party licensing revenue to Sony, and they'll have one more game on Vita for people to buy standalone if they don't want it on PS4 or PS3 (or they just don't own one). It's a win-win for Sony, even if the initial investment is more. With the right marketing for the program (read: a promise of free promotion for any third parties that sign on) I see it pulling in enough money to justify doing it in the first place.

Hopefully, this wouldn't just be for retail. Valiant Hearts, Strider, DuckTales. Why are these games not on Vita? They don't really tax the PS3, so I doubt it would be incredibly difficult to bring them to Vita. Especially with the APIs and development tools Sony has already created for doing just that. Cross Buy, Cross Save, Cross Play, Cross Controller. These are the types of things that get me to purchase one game over another. And that goes across platforms and storefronts, including those that otherwise wouldn't make Sony any money.

Using Playstation TV to Expand the Installed Base:


This thing has far more potential than most realize. It's up to Sony to actually use it.

The PSTV (known as Vita TV in the Eastern market), could be quite a big deal if positioned correctly. The $100 MSRP gives the base model an incredibly low barrier to entry. But I think the bundle needs a bit more. A PSTV with a Dualshock 4, a memory card, and a month of Plus would be a much better deal at $150. Just enable the DS4 for Vita touch screen/panel use when possible, patch PS Now so PS3 games with analog face buttons will function with the DS4, and allow handheld Vitas to be used as controllers for PSTV. That way all your gaming bases are covered, and the PSTV is immediately a much better value proposition.

Combined with the aforementioned backlog of three Playstation console generations, two handheld generations, and potentially catalogs from former manufacturers like Sega, NEC, and SNK and suddenly you've got a better $100 gaming micro console than any of these Android alternatives. Sony immediately has by far the greatest competitor in a field that Amazon, Apple, and Google all see the potential for profit from. Rather than having to fragment the Playstation ecosystem with a special low budget console, they can just expand the Vita ecosystem (thus increasing the developer incentive to support the thing).


Rather than making a special SoC and OS for your Bravias, just put a PSTV in it.

Here's the clincher though: PSTV needs to be the hardware and OS of choice for all Sony smart televisions, not Android TV. Assuming Sony can get every major streaming media partner on board, there's no reason they need to support Google's ecosystem and online store. If the Bravia division can turn things around (and this could actually help with that), every smart TV sale is another Vita in somebody's home. That means another device that can Remote Play with PS4, another device that can do PS Now, and another device that can buy and play games through the Vita's PS Store. And Sony pockets all that revenue, not Google.

Oh and, Ya Know, Maybe Some First Party Games:

No, I wasn't going to skip over this. Right now, the Vita's biggest issue is a lack of upcoming exclusives. Shipping another game on the scale of Uncharted or Killzone isn't feasible on the Vita. They cost too much to make and they don't sell enough copies to be profitable. Especially not next to their superior console counterparts. Instead, Sony needs to work with its smaller second party studios and some of its smaller internal teams on lower risk, lower budget projects.


...so I guess Sony is just done making original experiences like this on Vita?

Sony may not have the IP catalog that Nintendo's got, but as I've touched on in the past it's filled with a number of gems. LocoRoco, Ape Escape, MediEvil, PaRappa, Patapon, Jak and Daxter. Hell, even more recent games like Puppeteer or Into the Nexus, which didn't necessarily get the attention they deserved on PS3, would be a perfect fit on Vita. I think the business model Nintendo has used for the 3DS has worked wonders for them. No need to fix what ain't broke here. Even just one retail exclusive per season would be a massive improvement over the complete drought they've given us in 2014 outside of the Eastern market.

I think the Vita would also be a great place for some PS4 Cross Buy games. A new Cool Boarders or Jet Moto might not work as a big budget PS4 exclusive. Why not a budget priced, Cross Buy release instead? I could easily see a new ATV Offroad Fury, LBP Kart, or Motorstorm using this model as well. I figure Sony plans on using its AAA retail games to leverage new PS4 purchases, so future PSN games like Resogun and Entwined could come to Vita as day one Cross Buy titles. I can't imagine most of those being massively difficult to port, and knowing that you have "free" games waiting for you on a new platform you haven't bought yet makes it that much easier to justify buying one as a consumer.

Miscellaneous/Everything Else:


My thoughts on Vita Memory Cards in my best Joe Pesci voice: You muddafucka you!

With the aforementioned, I think Sony would be golden. Cheaper memory cards (4GB - $10, 8GB - $15, 16GB - $25, 32GB - $40, 64GB - $60) would help. A PS4 and Vita bundle, either $500 just for both systems or $550 with Plus and a memory card, would also be a smart move. And I still say a $200 Vita bundle with Minecraft and Lego Marvel would do wonders in the US for younger gamers. But more so than anything, the thing just needs the right marketing and the right PR for once. Because as it stands, Sony's comments about the thing's future really haven't done them any favors.

Could they do this? Sure. Do I think this would work? Yes. Will they attempt anything remotely like this? I highly, highly doubt it. And as a Vita owner, that's pretty disappointing. What do you all think? Am I asking too much? Would this be a good idea? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments, as always. If you like what you've read, feel free to share/like/upvote/etc.   read


1:57 PM on 06.30.2014

Destiny, planned obsolescence, and the future of DRM

When Microsoft originally announced the Xbox One, the backlash to the online check-in requirement was enormous. Not only were the people who don't have access to fast, reliable, cap-free broadband upset, but so was a wide swath of the community who look at games as an art and entertainment form and not just a disposable product. What Microsoft announced wasn't just a new way for your console to function. It was an end to the video game industry as we knew it.


I'm relived this isn't the future we live in, but we're honestly not far off from it.

The online pass never had that strong of a response. It was unpopular and ultimately did more harm than good to the games publishers were trying to make more money off of, so the program was eventually dropped anyway. But if it stuck around, I think life would have carried on as usual in the industry. The only thing that was ever walled behind the online pass was the online multiplayer (and in some cases bits of mostly meaningless single player content). When it comes to console games, all online servers get shut down eventually. The online pass didn't change that reality.

The original plan for the XB1 was an entirely different beast. Without access to Live, every game disc you bought for that thing was a brick. If you couldn't authenticate the game, you couldn't use it, single or multiplayer. One day when the XB1 successor is released and the Live servers get shut down for it (just as they did with the Original Xbox and just like they will with the 360), everyone's discs would have been useless. If you want to play those games again, you'll have to rebuy them someplace else. No Steam offline mode. No local play. Gaming is no longer art to be experienced, it's a product with an expiration date.


What if shutting the Original Xbox servers meant you couldn't play this in any capacity?

Fast forward to today, and that post-apocalyptic gaming future has seemingly been avoided. Microsoft pulled its so called "Xbox 180", reversed its DRM policy with the XB1, and over the past year has been changing its strategy to better respond to what consumers want, instead of what Microsoft tells them they're supposed to buy. The PS4 may have gotten an early lead this generation, but things definitely seem to be heating up going into the holidays. Is the industry in a better place? Sure. But there's another problem we need to address.

This past March, Respawn Entertainment released the highly anticipated Titanfall, the culmination of four years of work by the core staff responsible for bringing you the early Call of Duty games. I'll be the first person to admit that I'm a fan of COD. My in game play time on Modern Warfare 2 is over two weeks, and I've pumped dozens of hours into almost all the other sequels as well, both the single and multiplayer modes. But I didn't buy Titanfall. I have a fully functioning 360, at the time my Live sub was still active, but the idea of an online only game being sold for $60 didn't interest me at all. Especially when I know that, as EA always does, the servers for Titanfall will be shut off somewhere between the release of the first and second sequels.


So how long until this is all your Titanfall disc does? Two years? Three maybe?

And so we come to Destiny. Now I've been following this game for quite a long time. Ever since that easter egg referencing the game was hidden in Halo 3: ODST, I've been eagerly awaiting the release of Bungie's first new IP in over a decade. When we started to get news on the game, I was excited. As time passed, reality eventually set in: this might not technically be an MMO, but it's sure as hell going to function like one. And what does that mean? It's a brick if you can't get online, and once the servers go down permanently it stays that way. It's yet another product with an expiration date. Just like every version of Windows Microsoft pulls support from to get you to buy the new one. Just like every mediocre upgrade to whatever smartphone Apple and Samsung try to sell you this year while they stop giving security patches to the old models.

As we already know from the contract between Bungie and Activision that came out as part of the West/Zampella lawsuit, Destiny is a ten year project. Each game in this franchise will be released on a roughly two year schedule, with expansion packs (referred to as "Comets") being released in the off years. This isn't something that happened organically as a result of the first Destiny being a success. This didn't come together during development when they realized they had more ideas than they could fit into one game. No, this was planned before a single line of code was ever written for Destiny. Much like the social and mobile games we despise which are built around their business models and not their gameplay mechanics, Bungie and Activison are doing the exact same thing in the boxed retail space on consoles.


Don't worry mask guys. I'll see you again in 2 years... and another 2 years... and...

And how do they pull that off? An always online requirement. They don't want you booting up Destiny 1 a decade from now and playing split screen with a friend. They want you to drop another $60 on Destiny 5: Who Gives a Fuck What it's Called Just Buy It Already. They want you in that ecosystem, buying more microtransactions and DLC for that game, and constantly posting to social media to add to Activision's ludicrous $500M development and marketing budget for Destiny. If they can't kill the second hand market with DRM, they just build these products around being the DRM itself. And from the looks of The Crew and The Division, Ubisoft seems to be joining EA and Activision with this sad excuse for a "business model".

As you've probably already noticed, Destiny isn't coming to PC. I think that's intentional. That open ecosystem is a direct threat to ActiBlizz's bottom line. They don't want someone modding Destiny to work offline, just like we saw with Sim City and their own Diablo III. That would only prove that the always online requirement isn't a necessity, it's just a forced mandate. Destiny isn't actually an MMO, and as such Activision isn't going to have to pay for server upkeep or content updates like they would for an actual MMO. But that's not stopping them from walling off the game like it is one.

Welcome to the "next generation", ladies and gentlemen.   read


5:58 PM on 06.24.2014

Looking Forward: The Next Nintendo Wii

In my last blog post, I took a look at what the next DS might be and what I'd like to see from it. With this post, I'm gonna take a look at the next Wii and where Nintendo should go with that. This is very much a continuation of the DS post for reasons you'll see in a moment, so if you haven't had a chance to read that yet I'd definitely recommend checking it out here. With that out of the way, let's do a hypothetical spec run down. Because those are always fun.


Just like the Wiimote, I highly doubt we'll see this thing sold in a box with the next Wii.

WiiU Successor: Fall 2017 - $300/$400
-CPU: 2x quad core x86-64 AMD APU
-GPU: AMD R7 400 series (shared memory)
--Expresso & Latte processors from WiiU for BC
-Memory/Storage: 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD + SDXC

Miscellaneous:
-802.11ac, BT 4.0, Ethernet, 4x USB 3.0
-Included wireless Infrared Sensor Bar
-Optical discs 25/50GB (SL/DL) in size
-Core bundle comes with new Pro Controller
-Premium bundle comes with DS successor

Controller Inputs:
-Concave analog sticks (2x)
-Analog stick buttons (2x)
-Plus d-pad (8-way)
-Face buttons (4x)
-Shoulder buttons (2x)
-Analog triggers (2x)
-Function buttons (3x)
-Accelerometer, gyro, compass
-NFC reader on controller

For those of you who have been keeping up with the "Fusion" rumors and some of the comments Nintendo have been making about tying together consoles and handhelds in some way, this more or less follows that line of thinking. As such, I think it would be very wise for the next Wii and DS to both use the same core operating system, one designed for ARM and one designed for x64, on top of using a unified account system and online infrastructure. Not only would this make development and support easier, but it would tie the two devices together and help them promote each other, thus bringing you further into the Nintendo ecosystem and buying more games.


Do I think Nintendo is going in this direction? Yes. Will it look anything like this? No.

But the ties need to go beyond the UI and the online systems. There's been a lot of debate over the role of the GamePad and what Nintendo could have done differently with it. Some argue that selling it separately would mean no developers would support it. Others counter by noting that outside developers still dropped WiiU even with the bundled GamePad. So here's my solution: make the new DS and the new GamePad one in the same. Rather than asking people to spend an extra $100 on a console for a special controller, why not let them use that handheld as the special controller if they want to?

If you launch the new DS a year ahead of the new Wii (assuming Nintendo plays its cards right), you could be looking at 5-10M people who already own the new Wii's controller before the thing is even released. For them, the barrier of entry is suddenly much lower than it otherwise would have been for these second screen experiences. And since the next DS would likely sell way better than any peripheral ever would, the debate over developers wanting to support something that not everyone has is significantly mitigated. And if they don't have one yet, you still sell the premium version of the console that comes with this DS at a discount.


About as good as console/handheld connectivity has ever gotten with Nintendo.

Would everyone have the new DS along with their new Wii? No. And that's honestly how it should be. Not everyone wants a companion device, and that's totally fine. That's why you'd still ship with a cheaper controller only SKU. But to expand the potential second screen installed base even further, why not allow consumers to use devices like the Tegra Shield, Wikipad, Archos Gamepad, or any other Android or Windows device with a controller attachment of some sort too? It wouldn't be a DS, but it would be another justification for publishers to use those second screen features on the next Wii without Nintendo forcing an increased barrier of entry cost on everyone.

I don't think the Wii-DS connectivity should just go one way, however. Having the DS enhance the Wii with second screen experiences is great, but why not let the Wii enhance the DS with your television? Video out for portables is something that's been toyed around with in the past (the Game Boy Player and PSP Slim spring to mind), but it's never a great option. You're either tethered by a wire or you're using a second controller, which would completely defeat the point for something like a DS. It is a controller, and that's what it should be doing: controlling. So why not let your Wii play your DS games?


Doing video out from your DS shouldn't take a $250+ mod. Why not use your Wii for that?

The unified account system is a major part of what makes this possible. If you have the physical game cart in your DS or you have a digital copy in your purchase history, you can download and play a version of that DS game running in an emulator on your Wii natively outputting in high definition. Not only would the game look better than any video out solution, but you'd still have the DS unit and the bottom screen to play these titles how they were meant to be played, all with near zero latency. In short, it's like the WiiU GamePad but in reverse.

Looking beyond the dual screen stuff, I think Virtual Console is something that desperately needs to be addressed with these new systems. Not only are prices desperately in need of a drop (NES/GB - $3, SNES/GBC - $4, N64/GBA - $6, GC/DS - $10), but everything needs to be 100% cross buy. That means across console/handheld lines along with generational ones. The double dipping needs to stop, already. If the next DS becomes the indie machine I think it will be (alongside the Nintendo retail exclusives of course), than optional cross buy needs to be enabled for eShop games as well.


To play this same NES ROM on both WiiU and 3DS, it cost $10. What gives, Nintendo?

And let's get to the elephant in the room: the third parties. When the WiiU launched, it should have had every major retail third party release that came to the PS3 and 360 the second half of 2012. Of the ones it got, most were overpriced or inferior to their console counterparts. This can't happen again. If Nintendo needs to offer to take on the porting cost themselves, so be it. If the next Wii launches in 2017, every PS4 and XB1 game releasing that holiday needs to be there. Third party games bring in licensing revenue, and that's how you keep a console afloat until the installed base is big enough where you can live largely on your exclusives. That's also how you avoid three straight fiscal year losses. Nintendo would be wise not to do that again. Having basically the same internal hardware as your competition will definitely help with that.

There you have it. My vision for Nintendo's hardware future. Not sure how much of this will come to pass or if this is even something they're interested in doing. But to me, this would help the next Wii and DS start strong and stay healthy. I don't see Nintendo ever repeating the Wii/DS dominance they had in the previous generation, and it's probably unlikely they'll ever have a hyper competitive SNES-Genesis style generation again either. But they can be profitable, and they can keep their fans happy making the quality experiences they've been known for. That's all you can really ask for from Nintendo at the end of the day.


I'm sure Nintendo wants nothing more than to get back to this. I do too.

So, what do you think? Am I crazy, or is this not a completely terrible idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts below, and if you like what you read please give this a heart/upvote. Thanks =)   read


8:16 PM on 06.22.2014

Looking Forward: The Next Nintendo DS

It may feel a bit premature to be thinking about the ninth generation of video game hardware with the PS4 and XB1 release coming just last year. We seem to forget, though, that the eighth generation started in early 2011 with the release of the 3DS. That was more than 3 years ago at this point, and we're definitely at least half way to the inevitable release of its successor. Since I enjoy both writing and speculating, I figured I'd do a post on what we might see from the next DS. Let's start with a hypothetical spec rundown.


This thing had a rough start. Let's see if the next DS can get out the gate better.

3DS Successor: Fall 2016 - $200
-Top Display: 4.7" 800x480 autostereoscopic IPS
-Bottom Display: 4.0" 600x480 capacitive IPS
-CPU/GPU: Quad ARMv7 & PowerVR GX6000
--Dual core ARM11 CPU from 3DS for BC
-Memory: 2GB LPDDR3, 8GB flash + SDXC

Miscellaneous:
-3D 720p cameras (front & back)
-802.11n, BT 4.0, IR, NFC, Micro USB 2.0
-Stereo speakers + front & rear mics
-Dual vibrate motors for rumble
-Game carts 2-16GB in size

Gaming Inputs:
-Circle pad (2x)
-Plus d-pad (8-way)
-Face buttons (4x)
-Shoulder buttons (2x)
-Rear buttons (2x)
-Function buttons (3x)
-Capacitive stylus
-Accelerometer, gyro, compass

I figure the next DS will likely keep the clamshell design of its predecessors, along with a glasses free 3D display on the top (with a slider and the option to disable it in the system UI) and a touch screen with a stylus on the bottom. The key difference being a much needed upgrade to a capacitive panel for the bottom screen, thus allowing for multi-touch. I also see them keeping the 5:3 and 4:3 ratios for the top and bottom displays, hopefully with size increases from the 3.5" and 3.0" screens on the 3DS (but below the 4.9" and 4.2" screens of the XL). And given how ubiquitous they will likely be for mobile displays by 2016, IPS panels for better viewing angles would be much appreciated as well.


Keeping the clamshell, I see the next DS being between these two in size.

As for the internal specs, this would more or less keep up with the hardware curves. A quad core ARMv7 CPU (likely either a Cortex-A7 or A12), and a quad core PowerVR GPU (probably something from the circa 2012 Series 6 line) would likely make it more powerful than a Vita, and able to roughly keep up with the WiiU on visual quality if not resolution. For reference, the 3DS outclasses the PSP and is somewhere in the Wii ballpark. On the memory side, 2GB is what the WiiU has (the 3DS and Wii have 128MB and 88MB, respectively), so I figure this will probably be what this unit ends up with. Given where even budget smartphones are in 2014, what I'm proposing for a 2016 device being sold without a profit margin at launch would be perfectly doable for $200.

Everything else is pretty run of the mill stuff, ie: better cameras and newer wireless radios. I figure tilt as a gaming input will return from the 3DS, and I think it'd be pretty cool to add built in rumble, a second circle pad, and rear buttons below the shoulders as well. And since 3DS and Vita game carts currently max at 4-8GB, I figure we'll see 16GB carts to hold larger titles given that we'll have had a decade of 25GB+ gaming media at that point. Most titles probably won't use them, but I'm sure a couple of higher end ones will.


Please, just don't make this mistake twice. Put a second pad on the unit.

Nintendo's approach to the 3DS needs to differ from the DS in two major ways. The first is on price. For a device that targets the mid to low end in terms of technical power and is designed to have mass appeal, it needs to have a lower barrier to entry. The 3DS didn't sell at $250, and I don't think the next model will either. $200 is the cut off, in my opinion. I also figure Nintendo won't go down the proprietary memory route, so that cost won't be an issue for consumers either. I guess we'll see how the next couple years go for the 3DS. If another R4 cart style device pops up, they may feel the need to ditch SD cards.

More importantly than the price, it needs to have games. Along with the $80 price cut the 3DS had early on, it also got its first two exclusives worth buying that holiday with Mario Kart 7 and 3D Land. The next DS needs system sellers out of the gate. A Mario platformer is guaranteed to move hardware, a new Donkey Kong or Metroid would be cool to go along with it, and a new IP or a sequel in something we don't see often would be a nice way to round out a kick ass launch. Just keep 4-5 retail exclusives coming each year from there. As far as external development is concerned, allow for self-publishing and optional cross buy, and create a set of tools and APIs to cheaply and easily bring both mobile games and PC games to the eShop. That's really all Nintendo can do on that front.


Let's be honest: a 2D New Super Mario World would be an awesome system seller.

The last point I'll touch on is Virtual Console. First and foremost, the WiiU and 3DS need to use the same unified account system that keeps track of all your game purchases. When it comes to VC, those purchases need to track across platforms. No more upgrade fees, and no more double dipping on consoles and handhelds. It's anti-consumer and it discourages people from buying something that has an expiration date. There also needs to be a way to move your purchases over from your 3DS, and everything already on NES, SNES, and Game Boy VC needs to be available on day one (with the other platforms to come soon after).

The dedicated handheld has a place in this market. It's not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether it's kids, commuters, city dwellers, or the "core" demographic, there will always be people who want to game on the go and prefer quality titles and physical controls over touch screen time killers. If Nintendo plays its cards right from the onset, its next DS could be an immediate repeat success for them. And with my next blog post on how I think it should function with the new Wii, I think it could do even better than that.


This gave me a good laugh and I needed one more picture, so here you go.

That's all I got for now. Feel free to put your thoughts and comments below, and please upvote if you like what you saw. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in a few days on my next post =)   read


2:37 AM on 06.07.2014

Nintendo E3 Prediction/Wish List Part 2 - 3DS & More

Unless I get some inkling to make another blog for the third parties just a couple days before E3 starts, this will likely be my last prediction/wish list post for 2014. For those who haven't had a chance to check it out, Part 1 of my Nintendo E3 blog covered what I'd like to see on the WiiU side of things. Here, I'll be focusing on the 3DS games along with a couple other Nintendo related oddities. Fair warning, most of this shit will probably not happen. So don't get your hopes up.

Metroid 5 (Nintendo Software Technology)


What happened to Metroid Dread, you ask? Who the fuck knows...

Let's get this one out of the way first: where the fuck is my new 2D Metroid? The last sequel we got was 2002's Metroid Fusion (referred to as Metroid 4 in game), followed by a remake of the NES original in '04. Since then, R&D1 (the team responsible for the previous 2D Metroids) was disbanded and turned into SPD Group 1 (overseeing Other M) and SPD Group 3 (overseeing the Prime games). With the rumored Metroid Dread falling into development hell, there hasn't been a team left at Nintendo to make a new 2D Metroid. That's where NST comes in. They developed the competent Prime Hunters spin off for DS, but since then they've only made Mario vs DK sequels. For the love of god, put them on a new Metroid, Nintendo. Stop neglecting this franchise.

Advance Wars 3D (Intelligent Systems)


I admit I only played the GBA titles, but these were some fun turned base games.

I think people have been clamoring for a new Advance Wars for quite some time. Days of Ruin was released in early 2008 to positive reviews, but the 3DS has so far been without a new Wars sequel. Paper Mario has gone to Vanpool and there's no known plans for a new Wario party game, so the only other things Intelligent Systems has on their plate is SMT x FE (co-developed with Atlus) and a new Pushmo game. Given the size of this studio, it's conceivable they could have been working on a new Advance Wars for a while at this point, and this would be a great way to keep the 3DS lineup strong in the second half of its lifespan.

F-Zero 3D (Amusement Vision)


The challenge? Making these games fun *and* profitable.

This franchise has had a rough history. While beloved by many, the 2003 Gamecube sequel F-Zero GX didn't sell very well. Since then, developer Suzak did two GBA spin offs in '03 and '04, the latter of which never made it to the West. The franchise then went dark for a decade. Mario Kart 8 just came out on WiiU, and I doubt Nintendo is in any rush to eat into the sales of that racing game with another one. Instead, how about a new 3DS game? Suzak recently filed for bankruptcy, so they're probably not an option. Amusement Vision, who releasd GX to critical acclaim, is now owned by Sega. Seems like a great opportunity to continue building those third party relationships, no?

Mother 4 (Creatures and/or 1-UP Studio)


I suddenly find myself being reminded of how much I miss sprites...

So I readily admit this one is pretty ridiculous and there's little chance it'll ever happen, but hear me out. Creatures, formerly known as Ape Inc, co-developed Mother 1, Mother 2/Earthbound, and the cancelled Earthbound 64 with HAL. Mother 3, which was never localized outside of Japan, was co-developed by Brownie Brown and HAL, the former of which is now known as 1-UP Studio. If Nintendo doesn't want to put HAL on a niche product like this, I get that. Why not get one or both of these second parties to make it instead? All they do now is spin offs and development assistance on other Nintendo games. Announcing a Mother sequel at E3 would be guaranteed to silence any questions of whether or not Nintendo cares about the "core audience".

Other 3DS Games:

While Star Fox hasn't been as big of a franchise for Nintendo as Zelda, Mario, DK, or Metroid, it's gotten more love than most fans acknowledge. If not a new sequel, how about another 3D re-release? Better yet, how about they update the original alongside a finished copy of the cancelled SNES sequel? Q-Games worked on the last two Star Fox releases, and EAD 5 is probably available given all they do is Wii Fit and Steel Diver. Speaking of re-releases, what about Majora's Mask? We got Ocarina of Time 3D, and with EAD Tokyo finished with it and Four Swords Anniversary I'm sure they'd be up to the task.


Yea... I'll just let myself out.

Of course, Nintendo's two big 3DS games for this year are Super Smash Bros 3DS and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, set for a Summer and Fall release, respectively. No doubt we'll see plenty of both at E3, including during Nintendo's conference. As mentioned in my WiiU blog, expect character, stage, and feature reveals for the former, and probably some cool new bonuses for the latter. The Pokemon remakes have always added new regions to the original maps, so I'd be curious to see what new areas of Hoenn we get to explore, and what features from Gen VI we see brought over from X&Y.

As for the rest of Nintendo:

If we don't get some announcement of a unified account system between 3DS and WiiU, including some type of Cross Buy for Virtual Console games, I've pretty much given up all hope for Nintendo ever being pro consumer with its back catalog. The fact that it cost $10 just to play 30 year old ROM dumps on your console and your handheld is just embarrassing. And on top of that, where are the GBA and DS VC games for 3DS? Why aren't see seeing more GBC games as well? They just announced the GameCube controller adapter for WiiU, so why not that too? Hell, where the fuck is the N64? In all honesty, if I knew Nintendo's first party backlog was all available on WiiU and 3DS at reasonable and competitive prices, it would be much harder for me not to buy them on nostalgia alone. I absolutely adore those games. Please stop trying to price gouge me, Nintendo.


The N64 and Gamecube were profitable without a gimmick. Remember that.

If you know me, you probably know my stance on the GamePad. Forcing a $100 peripheral on consumers who don't want it is asinine as far as I'm concerned. The WiiU can't compete with its technologically superior counterparts at $400 (both of which are getting far more games in terms of both indies and third parties), and it can't compete with the $200 PS3 or 360 (both of which have massive, dirt cheap back catalogs and wildly better online services). I can't see how the WiiU will ever be more than a Nintendo machine for a niche audience at that price. Microsoft learned its lesson. Nintendo is too stubborn and arrogant to admit its own failure. As much as they should decouple the GamePad from the box (they'll never have third party's to support it either way), I'm sure they won't. And that's massively disappointing as a potential customer.

That's all, folks. After my two part Sony prediction blog, my Microsoft E3 predictions, and Part 1 of my Nintendo wish list, this series has officially come to a close. Thanks for reading along, and I hope you've enjoyed. Please heart/upvote if you like what you've read, and as always I love to hear what you have to say in the comments. Sometime next week, I'll do a wrap up post looking back at how right (read: very wrong) I was with this. Especially my 3DS and Vita predictions, lol. Can't hurt to dream, right?   read





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