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2:12 PM on 11.03.2013

I've got no Objections for the new Phoenix Wright game

Let's talk about this. Let's really sit down and discuss this. Love it or hate it, Phoenix Wright is not a game to be ignored. I think it's newest installment has made that blatantly clear and to get it out of the way right now: I have nothing but the highest most fantastic praise for this game. Because I am so crazy in love with it, it's easier to talk about what I don't like, than what I do. In truth, although this is a review, I'd also like it to be a discussion. I want to know your opinions about the new game, good and bad. And if you've got comments about the other games, bring those on too! I know it's tricksy to discuss a game like this and not reveal spoilers, so I can only ask that everyone does their best as even I didn't get around to playing one or two of them. 

To get the ball rolling, one of my least favorite things about Phoenix Wright games in general (which is also one of my favorites) are the powers. They always introduce these things to you as if they are going to be a mainframe staple to be used at will, at yet during the course of the game you can only use them when the game dictates you can. In a way, this also leads to the other tragedy of the PW series: because everything is so straightforward with only one solution, they have no replay value. To be honest, because the games are difficult enough puzzles as it is, I completely understand the 'one solution only' tactic, but it still makes me sad that the only part worth reliving is each and every pun and pop culture reference I can get my greasy paws on. 

Jumping back to the 'powers'... there are moments in the previous games where I would say to myself: "Well damn, if only I could use so-and-so's powers right now, I could bust this case wide open!" Although not much different in that aspect, Dual Destinies gives you much more frequent use of the powers and it does this at least twice for every playable character (obviously allowing the newbie Athena Cykes to have at it most often.) That being said, they're so much fun that I'm just happy they exist at all to complain too much.

In the end, the real power of these so-called niche game lies in the storytelling. More time is spent in-game investigating than being in court (depending on the case of course, but damn did I spend a long time in Yokai-land for the second case! SHEESH!) The really impressive bit is the creators ability to tie all 5 cases together. Yes, they do this in the other games (at least, they did in the ones I got around to playing) but never have they made such an impressive effort as they did in Dual Destinies. There were so many heartfelt moments where I was actually yelling and crying on my 3DS simultaneously. The sheer intricacy of the plot and the ability to be led on by all the evidence to the lies before the truth is really a thing of beauty. And unlike in the other PW games for 3/5 cases, you do NOT know who the guilty party is. Talk about being run in circles man!

I think the only problem with this comes up in the form of the 'Third Party Crises', which gets very dull after the second time they try to claim this. The sole way of proving our client innocent is always 'FIND THE MYSTERIOUS THIRD PARTY WHO ACTUALLY COMMIT THE CRIME.' Which logically makes sense... but doesn't stop the story from feeling repetitive in terms of the puzzle objective. 

Long story short (har har har): 10/10 for story.

But what about the graphics you say. The sound you say. Do you even use that blasted 3D feature on the DS you say!

The Prosecution will allow me to present evidence. I'm not sure if you've seen any of the trailers, but here's one to just to reiterate what we're talking about and make it very clear. I will only say this once: this is one of the most beautiful games I have ever had the pleasure of playing, especially for the kind of game it is. The 3D sprites have such realistic movements and gestures, little nuances that make them stand out fantastically. It was even a pleasure to play with the 3D on, to see them move about in their environment which perfectly suited them. The music, although typical and repetitive, was a dramatic highlight to the game and a huge assistance to solving the cases. You knew you were doing well with it's groovy assistance. 

I warned you I had nothing but the highest praise for this game. It has been a very long time since I was so ridiculously impressed with a game. I have been waiting for this game for eons and my excitement and expectations are high, not only did they rise to meet me, but they surpassed me out into space itself! The trailers contain the perfect amount of information to wet your appetite before diving into the truth and the dark age of the law! I really truly cannot say enough good things about the graphics or gameplay. 

To stick a small pet peeve in here... my Court Record was far too overrun with evidence many a time, and although it attempted to clear it out for me, it left it stuffed more oft than not, probably to keep me confused and make it difficult. You really need to go back and examine and reread each piece of evidence very carefully which is more annoying in the end than challenging. 

Graphics: 10/10

Sound: 8/10

Total: 9/10

Disclaimer: Nobody in any way is paying me to say nice things about this game. I am doing this of my own volition. Capcom, you may have problems with grammar, you may suck at localizing things, but damn can you make puzzle games. Bravo old friend, bravo.

I guess this is enough bragging from me, what about you? If you made it through my ranting and raving, what did you think? What did you love? What did you hate? What did you wish was there but wasn't? Again, please TRY to keep spoiler free, I know it's really tough but we can do our best. In addition, if you haven't beaten the game yet, read with CAUTION! 

(As a side note, I was also thinking of writing a post to discuss/collect the many pop culture references, such as where they make fun of Twilight, or salute Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Anyone interested?)   read

5:30 PM on 10.21.2013

The New Pokemon Makes My Childhood Cry

I've been thinking this way for a while now, but I haven't gotten around to write about it. With the release of Pokemon X/Y, I think it might be the perfect time to start. We need more awareness about the rape that the Pokemon franchise is committing to our childhood. Yes, you heard me correctly. I know the hype is big now, and I know it's surrounding you with it's soft fluffy promises of 3D maps and mega-evolutions. But hear me out. I'm going to tell you a story and then you tell me if you see where I'm going with this.

A young girl at the tender age of 7 sits with a bowl of fruit loops watching TV before school. There is something she has never seen before. It is brightly colored and tells the story of a young boy, not much older than myself, who wants to set out to be a Pokemon master! Everyone leaves him behind to pick up this angry electric monster as his companion, instead of the cool thing his rival got. It didn't matter. In twenty minutes I watched Ash bond with Pikachu and become inseparable friends.

Over the years, I watched him struggle and I struggled too. I collected cards (I've got over 500 of some of the original released sets) and played Blue, because people told me Red was too difficult. I was a miserable excuse for a gamer back then, and I wasn't a very good trainer, but like Ash I kept trying. Eventually, I stopped watching the show (I'd moved on to newer and better anime, like G Gundam and Outlaw Star.) But I never stopped playing the games.

Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl, White. 

I greeted every new set of friends with a smile. When the original 150 were released and then expanded upon, it was always new and interesting. Torchic is a personal favorite. And my love for Espeon spans several conventions of running around as one (even a skit back in 2010.) I've got a level 99 Rayquaza that can kick all of your butts by itself. I've never cheated and I've kept as many as I could transfer up from the old games. 

Ruby and Sapphire are my favorite, if you're curious. Why? They had the best maps, the best new set so far, and the generally I had the most fun. Come on! SECRET BASES.

Diamond and Pearl were okay, but they didn't hold the same joy that Ruby and Sapphire did. It seems to go downhill from there. Can I ever really forget the great blunder that is Black/White/Black 2/White 2?

Maybe I'm a different gamer now than I was back then. Hell, I'm definitely a different gamer now! But to watch Ice Cream and Garbage Bag Pokemon run free? This is just bullshit. This complete and total mockery of everything I ever loved is an outrage and it's time someone stood up and said NO! It is OKAY not to come up with a completely new range of Pokemon for every game. It's okay. Really. We promise. As fans, I'd much rather relive playing with Blastoise and Blaziken than a key ring, a candelabra or trash can. Stop insulting me.

Yet all of you are guilty too. You sit there and take it. You love the franchise relentlessly without fail or question. That's fine, but think about it for a second. Think about the cult you're wrapped up in. They've tricked you into thinking this is a good idea. You've actually started to believe that little key ring is cute. Or man, do you absolutely love that trash bag you've got. He's so powerful! Look what they've done to you. They're making fun of you and you're not noticing. They are stomping on your childhood.

My childhood.

I've had enough. I spent a long time debating about getting X/Y, supposedly the saving grace of the franchise. The ability to bring the game into the next century of gaming! A 3D world with more Pokemon interactivity than ever before. Sorry, I'm not impressed. I played Ni no Kuni a few months back and had a taste of what Pokemon SHOULD be by now. Your lame excuse for an updated battle system doesn't work for me. You make all these beautiful grandiose modifications, so many NEW things to provide a gateway, but you forget to overhaul the battle system. 

We've been using the same one for what... 15 years? 15 years! In 15 years, all you've done is added some flashy effects and crammed more than one Pokemon onto the opposing side. Why are you so afraid that the fans will reject it? What are you afraid of Nintendo? We love you anyway. Haven't we proven it? We bought all your Wind Waker HD Wii U's. We bought all your Luigi merchandise. We still buy Pokemon Snap off your eshop. Why can't you trust us with something totally new? Why can't you trust us as fans?

I wanted something new. I wanted to see Pokemon go the distance. I wanted to forget the blunder of Black/White and immerse myself in your Pikachu-loving arms again.

I can't.

For me, Pokemon will never be the same, but not in the way I was hoping it could be.

To my readers, to play a quick devil's advocate (and avoid any hurt feelings that may have arisen from my post) I understand some of the reasoning behind why they don't change the battle system. (I definitely don't understand the key ring, candelabra, and trash bag, but whatever... and if anyone says Voltorb or Electrode, it's not a valid enough reason.) First of all, the turn based system is a benefit to many people and a lot easier for their target market to work with. Second... well actually I summed it all up already. 

TLDR; I don't think the Pokemon franchise is up my alley anymore. I'll just go back to my Animal Crossing town. (If you want my friend code, just let me know.)


12:37 PM on 07.06.2013

Lion’s Arch Loyalist, or Why GuildWars2 (ArenaNet) is Awesome

I am new to PC Gaming and to MMOs in general. I’ve never had a super powerful computer that showed off the graphics and I sure as hell wasn’t going to pay a monthly subscription fee. So when the first words out of a friends mouth are: “You should try this great MMO…” I promptly stop them and tell them I’m not interested in the soul-sucking world of agony that sort of genre brings. I’ve heard the horror stories about neckbeards in the basement, and even dew chuggers. Online games (aside from the arcade kind) bring nothing but solemn misery.

My friends let it go, and went on their merry questing way. Until one day, when I was hanging out with some friends and some of us were playing console games, and the rest of them were playing GuildWars2. (Now when I say ‘rest of them’, I really mean like two dudes.) Curiosity killed the cat, and I peeked.

It was the best mistake I ever made.

Not two weeks later, ANet held an event around the Mad King Halloween party allowing people to try GW2 for free for a few days. I hadn’t really understood until that moment that once I put out the someodd $40 it would cost me to get the game, I’d never have to pay another cent if I didn’t want to. You heard me. GuildWars2 has no subscription fee.

For someone who had never played MMOs before, whose only knowledge about them was the ridiculous monthly fees and basement dwellers, this was a groundbreaking moment. I knew then that I would never be free of the beautiful world of Tyria, and that I would play until it killed me.

Or at the very least, I could play on and off. It was endless! I could play and explore this fantastic world however I chose, whenever I chose. This was the key. This opens the door to allowing ANet to gather mass amounts of people to play this game.

Not only that, but the game does not lack in any quality despite the ‘lack of monthly income’ from the players. Of course, you can use real money to get special items for your avatar, but really they mostly consist of skins and town gear, and some makeover things. (And Black Lion Keys, but that’s another story.) Never in my life have I seen such an immersive world that I would truly call a work of art. Every single area, every crafted item/weapon/mini, every race… every last detail of this game is off the charts.

I’d like to place a disclaimer here: I am not in any way associated with ArenaNet. I am not being paid to say these nice things. I do not benefit in any way (other than personal joy) by sharing my love for this game with you.

Wait. If that isn’t enough, and for some avid MMO players it isn’t… let’s talk about what really puts the icing on this cake for me.

Monthly events.

You heard me.

We get worldwide monthly events.

The one complaint I might have is that it’s taken ANet a little while to get up on their feet about how these events should work. There have been some problems with the way they choose to create the dungeons, or the way prizes get handed out. In addition, if you don’t have a lvl 80 character you’re very fluid with, things can get hairy. Regardless, they are trying to please everyone with FREE monthly events and now bi-weekly updates with tons of cool new content.

Pay $45, get automatically upgrading game for FREE.

It’s like free DLC.

I’m really looking forward to the expansions.

Tell me, do you play GW2 why or why not? If you do, what was your favorite event so far? Your least favorite?

I really loved Tixx and the Dragon Bash. I had hoped the Aetherblades were going to be cool, but they just turned out to be a sad headache. At least the caches are fun to hunt! Either way, keep doing what you’re doing ANet. You have this fans loyalty! Also, Super Adventure Box.


10:20 AM on 07.06.2013

Final Fantasy is the Bad Boyfriend I Keep Letting Back In

Following the announcement of Final Fantasy XV (formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII), I realized that, aptly dubbed, Squeenix was like a bad boyfriend I kept letting back into my house. A couple of years ago, after the downfall of Final Fantasy XIII, and the lack of announcement for Noctis's game anywhere in sight, I decided that I would never buy another Square Enix game unless it was his. I have kept that promise. I didn't buy any of the Kingdom Hearts filler games, or that rhythm game everyone was so pleased about. I didn't buy Final Fantasy XIII-2. I've been a good little girl.

And yet, as soon as I was finished reading through the various news articles at their E3 spot this year... I'd forgiven them. I'd forgiven them years of sins simply for saying, here, we still love you. Have a Noctis. Better yet, have a Noctis AND a Sora.

I'm going to tell you my Square Enix story, and then I'd like to hear all of yours. Have you been in an abusive relationship with this high-fantasy company? Have you stuck it through and bought all the new releases? Was there a last straw for you too? Let me know!

I wish I could be one of those gamers who could start their love of this epic saga with one of the classics, you know Final Fantasy III or even Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, I can’t. To be quite honest, I’ve never even played either of those games. Don’t get me wrong, I know almost everything there is to know about Final Fantasy VII, and whatever I know about three… well I know that from playing Dissidia. My adventure actually began with Final Fantasy X.

Back in those days, I would’ve been labeled a ‘casual’, and rightly so. I only cared about the story that drove the game. Gameplay, quests, leveling. None of that mattered to me. Story and graphics were my passion. And man, back then Final Fantasy X had the best graphics around! That was why I loved them. They were always so beautiful and creative. I believed that each game was a work of art. So I played Final Fantasy X, badly. And I played Kingdom Hearts, not so badly. And eventually I even played Final Fantasy XII (my favorite), and Kingdom Hearts 2, pretty well.

Those were the days where you could call yourself a Square Enix fan and get away with it. You could even say you loved Final Fantasy XII and no one would make fun of you. (Well, maybe only a little.) I sure do have a lot of fond memories of those days. For instance, I was so bad at Final Fantasy X that I never actually beat it. I got all the way to Overdrive Sin with only one character (Auron) dealing in the four digits, and the most damage he could do was about 1200 per hit. With only a few turns to turn the tide, it was impossible for me to beat the game without starting all over again.

There was also one time where I properly set up the Gambits and let my characters run around in that jungle, the one with the cats and the snake/vine monsters (?) for two hours without touching the controller. I think I took a nap, and I woke up and was about five levels higher. I really was a fan back then. I have several limited editions of that game and some of the others. I’ve got the special edition of the VII movie, Advent Children and some art books scattered around.

I think the beginning of the end came during the wait I endured for Kingdom Hearts 2. I diligently and loyally waited the 3 years it took to get that game out, and in a way I was disappointed. The game was short, overly simple and despite being gorgeous, it really turned a lot of the established principles of the first game on its head. I almost felt as if the story was changed last minute. I loved it, all the same, but looking back I realize I felt a little gipped.

If that was the climax, everything after that was the downfall. I’m not sure how many goddamn sequels you can make before people get annoyed. I’m not even sure you can do it and carry on the story properly that way. They’ve got a handy chart on Wikipedia, in case you’re not familiar with how desperate they were to keep the moneymaker going. (Because really, isn’t that all those sequels were? An excuse to capitalize on the franchise? Only a handful of them were actually relevant to the plot, and because they were released on handhelds that not everyone has, not everybody was able to continue the story in a linear and kind fashion.)

That was the problem. They weren’t being fair to the gamer. It was like a trick: Buy this game and you’ll get more stories. Sorry, it’s only for –insert handheld you don’t own here-.

2004 – Chain of Memories (GBA)
2007 – Re: Chain of Memories (PS2)
2008 – coded (mobile)
2009 – 358/2 Days (DS)
2010 – Birth by Sleep (PSP)
2011 – Re:coded (DS)
2012 – Dream Drop Distance (3DS)

At an average retail price of $40-$60 a game nowadays, even for some handhelds, you’re looking at (including the actual first and second game) $320. And that’s not even including all the merch and accessories you probably own. Or strategy guides if you’re into that. It was absurd and it was undoable, and as a fan I had to abandon the franchise because the games all felt halfhearted and hard to get into. Granted, I didn’t play all of them. But this isn’t a discussion about the multi-part KH franchise.

This is about Squeenix.

Finally, they released Final Fantasy XIII and I thought, this is my gateway to Noctis and new and wonderful things! I was supremely excited: the graphics were GORGEOUS! And then I started walking through a tunnel…. And a cave with no turns… and a fortress with no side rooms…. And even a field that seemed pretty roundabout. I had no freedom. Unlike X or XII, you couldn’t just go romping around. You were forced to play through what was essentially an interactive movie. Calling it a game would be generous.

So I began to focus more of my attention on waiting for Versus. And waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And… wait… no… oh sorry…

Still waiting.

Until finally, at the last E3, almost seven years later, Versus was announced, and was to become the next installment (squee!) Final Fantasy XV. And at that moment, I forgave every single sin Square Enix had committed to me. I forgave every useless sequel, every bad moment in XIII. I even considered buying XII-2 and Returns. Hah! Me? Buying a Square Enix game? How silly! I haven’t bought one in years!

It’s just amazing that after seven years of anticipation, of letdowns, of unhappy surprises and wasted gameplay hours, that after all this abuse they have shelled out… I will forgive them.

But if this game isn’t the best thing since XII, may Aeris have mercy on your soul friends.

How do you feel about the franchise? Do you have any love/hate stories?   read

8:14 PM on 06.04.2013

From Then to Now and Onward: The Future of Gaming

This is it. We are on the precipice of change. E3 is right around the corner and we are all hoping we'll get the answers we're looking for. Whether you are a hardcore gamer or a causal one, we're all hoping that the industry will find a way to survive another year. Up until now, I'd never questioned that. I never questioned videogame companies, or wondered about Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo. They were all just there, doing their thing. Now I'm watching them crumble like the United States economy and I can't help but wonder if this is what we need. 

Can we, as a community, really survive another generation that's looking as bleak as this one? In the last few years, some of the complaints listed by the Internet include: on-disc DLC, DLC required for full game experience, digital download only, anything having to do with EA, abuse of fan dedication (Mass Effect 3), locked used games, share buttons on controllers, and general hullabaloo all over. Let's think back to the beginning, back when gaming was fun and our main complaint was that we didn't have enough time in the day, or our graphics card wasn't good enough to play Doom. 

Small Disclaimer:  I can only give opinionated accounts from my own childhood and my first game system was the Sega Genesis with Sega CD, so I'm sorry in advance if I skip over something that might be otherwise important.

The year is 1972, and Pong has just been released. There is nowhere to go but up, and over the course of the next few years that's exactly where the industry will go. Pong was a game and a system all in one, a cabinet. That same year the Magnavox Odyssey was released. This became the beginning of what would become first generation consoles. 

By the mid 70s to early 80s we had a range of second generation consoles from Mattel, Atari, Magnavox and Fairchild Semiconductor. (You can find all of this on Wikipedia.) Videogames were still new and almost a novelty item. I guess people thought they were some kind of fad. According to the Internet, the next stop on our Time Travel Bus is referred to as the 'Golden Age of Arcade Videogames'. I can only assume this was the beginning of real arcades, tons of extremely popular cabinets and where most of our parents spent their childhood. 

So we're getting there. We've gone from novelty item to something real, something to be wary of and something that was fun to play. That's important. The most important thing about games from Then is that they were FUN. 

And while the third generation was nothing to sneeze at, let's skip right on over to the fourth generation. When Sega Genesis came out I was 8 years old. My dad had brought it over from his parent's house and so at the time I assumed it was old. Older than me anyway. It's funny to know, now, that it wasn't. I can't speak about the Super Famicom, but man did I love my Genesis. There were 3D environments, and tasks, and games, and quests, and fights and ... I could go on and on. At the time, it didn't matter to me what system I was playing on. What mattered was the game. Sega was just the name on the black box I could play Sonic on. Just like Nintendo was the name on the N64 that brought me Pokemon Snap.

I wanted the next game. It wasn't about fighting with the industry for a $400 glorified computer. It was about that port to adventure and mystery. It was about experiencing a sense of childhood and nostalgia for something you grew up with, both adults and kids alike. Everyone I know looks back on this time fondly. We talk about the 'simple' days and how things used to be.

It wasn't until I got my Playstation 2 that things started changing.

Not Quite Yet
Sorry, that's a bit of a lie. We still have a little bit of time before the industry became a big part of gamer's lives. In 2000, the Playstation 2 was released, followed quickly by the Nintendo Gamecube and the Xbox in 2001. When they brought my PS2 home and told me I could play more videogames, I was the happiest kid in the world. I was 10 and I'd already beaten every mini-game in Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Stadium 2; I needed something new. 

In my personal, and extremely biased opinion, the Playstation 2 was the greatest system that has ever been released, and I think that it is even better than the eighth generation consoles coming out later this year/early next year. Never in my life were there so many games I could play. It was endless. There was no DLC, no worrying about the price of used games. Even the new ones didn't cost more than $40 for a few months! 

You've probably realized that I haven't included any handhelds in this article by now. I want to concentrate solely on the consoles and not the handhelds to make a point, so bear with me.

Today I have over 100 PS2 games. I have about 10-15 Gamecube games and I never had an Xbox. Okay, so what's the point? What are you trying to prove with all of this? Well, sixth generation consoles were part of the millenium and part of the time period where people actually began to respect gaming and see it as a potentially gigantic field. This isn't to say this wasn't happening before these consoles came out, but I do think these consoles helped mark the sixth gen as a turning point for gamers everywhere. 

And the most important thing was still valued: the games were fun. You could feel the passion that game studios had for their art, and the respect that went along with it. It's a respect you'll be hard-pressed to find now.

Here we are. Seventh generation, on the verge of the eighth. Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii. Soon to be followed by Xbox One, Playstation 4, with the Wii U having already made it's debut. The prices of videogames new are around $60 and go as high as $120 for a limited edition. Not to mention the countless packs of DLC that online gameplay has provided to expand the gaming experience.

Now, I am not sitting here and telling you that all of this is bad news. That is not what I'm trying to say. In fact, with or without DLC games like Dragon Age: Origins are still amazing games! However, I am trying to point out the industry's grubby little hands all over my stuff, and the publishers trying to shove it all down my throat. In the last few years I feel like I've watched the industry go from an honest and innocent little kid to an angsty and rebellious teenager, picking people's pockets and holding people up at gunpoint. They're like a lazy mafia leader who threatens you from afar and let's you continue to fuck up until you're in over your head and owe them your soul. 

I'm not sure they'll grow up into that mature self aware adult we know they can be.

We have publishers like EA suffocating studios like Bioware. The studio can't make the kind of game that consumers used to love but EA doesn't care about passion; EA is all about the numbers. What happened to the love? What happened to the excitement? Yes, as time moves on and the economy changes, things get more expensive. The more technology we use the more shit costs. It is inevitable and we need to keep moving forward.

I don't think this means that publishers have the right to bleed the community dry though. The Playstation isn't just the system sitting under your TV letting you play Devil May Cry 4, it's the SONY Playstation. It's the MICROSOFT Xbox 360. We've been caught in a disgustingly vicious cycle! The big companies and the publishers all want money from us, the consumers. So they raise prices, they set out DLC that might even be mandatory to a full-game experience. They control us and the creators. They manipulate us.

They manipulate the love that we've held deep inside ourselves. The only way to stop the cycle is to simply not buy the product right? Well that's all well and good, but you can't just ask us to stop being gamers. So we have to game in different ways: PC versions, Steam (thank Andraste for Gabe Newell). And for some people, that works. Unfortunately, not for someone like me.

I am a tried and true console gamer, and of this I am proud. No I do not have your hi-res graphics card, but I also don't have to be confined to a desk or with a burning hunk of technology on my lap. I don't want to get into an argument about if one is better than the other, that's for another day. But I do want to help reach out to others like me and explore the future.

The Future of Gaming
In an ideal world, games would be easily accessed and shared by everyone. They would be affordable to all walks of life from the poor college student to the family of five down the street. Each new generation would present a type of technology not seen before, thereby improving upon the last. The DLC would never be mandatory, and would only enhance the game. And studios would be free to create the games as they wanted, allowing publishers to have a say only once the product was finished. (We wouldn't want another Assassin's Creed What-Number-Are-We-On-Now incident.)

Instead, we have the eighth generation. Of the three major consoles released/being released, the Wii U is the only one with a major component change to its strategy. We don't even know what the PS4 looks like. All we know is that it has a 'share' button on its controller. The Xbox One has a ton of rumors flying around, such as the hacking abilities of the built-in Kinect, and the status of used games. There isn't any technology here that we haven't already had for a long time.

This society, which has become obsessed with technology, has forgotten itself. Sure, we ask about a few of the games coming out for the console, but mostly we ask about the specs. 'Who really cares what game is coming out, I'm going to buy it anyway just because.' This mentality is not as scarce as you'd think.

I can't even be told otherwise about this one. It might be different for different people, but how many PS3 games do you have? Honestly? I have 3. I have a monster of a PS3. It is one of the original backwards compatible chunky beasts, costing way more money than any kind you can buy now, and I only have 3 games for it. All the games I play on it use the PS2 or PS1 emulator that's built in.

As for my Xbox 360, I do have quite a few more games, but I hear a rumor that the Xbox One isn't backwards compatible. So what good is it? I have a built-in Kinect? Oh man. I can't just go out and buy one and hook it up.

For me, the industry has always been about the games. I don't care how I get to play them. But with all these exclusivity contracts (see Bayonetta 2) we're not really getting anywhere. Will I still be able to play Dragon Age: Inquisitions? Probably not!

In conclusion, I think that the community has lost its voice and needs to stand up for itself and for the creators. I think that we need to give our 'patrons' demands, not let them demand it of us. I think, that we will lose everything if we let this go on. There will be no end to the blood they try to squeeze from our stones. I want to go back to asking about games and not consoles. And right now, the only company that seems even remotely headed in that direction is Nintendo.

Whether you agree with me or not, this next generation will mark a turning point for the industry and for consumers. It's up to us to change what we don't like and shape the future.

Take that!


3:32 PM on 06.03.2013

Persona 4 isn't so Golden

I've been waiting to do this blog for a long time, and by now it's probably a little late, but I think fans of Atlus and the Persona series are always up for a little discussion. As a hardcore Persona fan, as well as a longtime gamer, the love I watch people have for Persona 4 absolutely boggles my mind. We're not talking Golden here, because I can't afford a Vita just to play one game. We're talking Playstation 2 version of Persona 4. This game is probably one of the most insane wastes of time I've ever played. 

Please, can someone explain to me what you find so compelling about this game that doesn't even hold a candle to Persona 3? It's predecessor was a fantastic work of art, and I could go on and on about 3 for a really long time. The characters, the stories, the cliffhangers, the battle system... purer genius was never found. And when they created Persona 3 Portable, they only improved on an already perfect game. By stark contrast, 4 is bland, hard to play, and ultimately not very satisfying for the time spent. 

I'll break down why I feel this way and I'm curious if any of you agree or disagree. Please be aware right now that this post will be bogged down in SPOILERS. Again, SPOILER CITY.

Oh, you're still here? Let's get to it then!

Persona 4's characters have absolutely no depth to them. The stories are so bland and straightforward that my friends and I use the game as a joke. (He named the protagonist 'Wiener Minstrel'.) When I say this, one character in particular stands out fabulously: Yosuke. Could there be a more generic jealous best friend stereotype anywhere? "Oh man, I hate you but I actually love you. Let me punch the crap out of you and then we can be best friends again, because you make me feel useless and this will solve everything!" Are you getting it yet? 

How about Chie? It wasn't enough we had male protag vs. Yosuke, we had to have the lovely Yukiko vs. Chie. Listen, if you wanted to go out with her, you should've just asked instead of being such a prude about it! Bringing this up really leads me into the dungeons and part of the story because of the way these games are set up. The characters in Persona games become the story, so when they are lacking, the entire story falls short. When thinking about Chie and her problem with Yukiko, are we reminded of Yukiko's lacy underthings in her princess castle? 

At the end of every dungeon it is revealed that each character was secretly trying to hide awful personality traits about themselves. And yet, each breakdown is seemingly unrelated to the fit that got them there. Yukiko, the introverted young innkeeper-to-be, turns into an outgoing princess-type looking for a man, but in actuality that wasn't what her inner self was trying to say at all. Please tell me you see the problem here. The real Yukiko expresses her hatred for being forced to inherit the inn. This has nothing to do with the castle, and yet it is her princess self who expresses this unhappiness. By the end of the game, if you've raised Yukiko's S.Link high enough, she eventually decides to inherit anyway because it's part of the family. 

I can see all you P4 lovers out there, and I know what you're thinking: Yes but it's the journey to get there that was amazing!

No. No it wasn't. That journey consisted of hours spent in a dungeon with a combat system that made me want to snap my controller in half over twenty times over. We've finally gotten to that point in the review. After playing 3, I'm not sure how anyone can stand 4's combat system. In fact, I tell people that if they insist on playing them both, they play 4 first, so they'll be less disappointed with it when they finish it. They won't realize how shitty the battle system is until they play the smooth combat system that 3 has. Sure, you can't control every character in 3 and Mitsuru has a startling tendency to uselessly 'marin karin' everything, but I'll take that over inadequate targeting systems and an annoying ID system.

Let's address one last huge pet peeve: THERE IS BASICALLY NOTHING TO DO AT NIGHT, except that sexy nurse. (And man, did I do her.)

You are forced to do the dungeon during the day, when the most S.Links are available, therefore compromising that part of the game. There is just no logic to this. In the previous game, you only had to give up studying or hanging out with Koro-chan (depending on which version you played) to go to Tartarus. In this one, you give up time with just about every single character to hang out in the Midnight Channel (DURING THE DAY) where a hateful and horrid Fox will charge you ridiculous amounts of money to heal. I think the amount of disgust I felt with the Midnight Channel outweighs everything else. If the whole thing was different, I'd even be willing to let the generic stereotypical story go.

After all, the choose-your-own-adventure style ending in which Nanako can die if you mess up is pretty cool. That and the music were the only things Persona 4 had going for it. What do you think? Do you see these flaws now that they're laid out in front of you? Or do you still think Persona 4 is quite possibly the greatest game ever, even above 3?   read

8:08 AM on 06.03.2013

My Gaming Story: Where is the Love?

It's 7am, an ungodly hour for anyone to be awake, let alone dressed and ready for school. But here I am, or should I say, my small 8 year old self, eating a bowl of fruit loops and discovering Pokemon for the first time. In that small moment between when Pikachu shocked Ash for maybe the fifth time that day and when my bus was beeping from outside in the real world, I knew that there was more to life than my simple private school was letting on to. 

This isn't to say that I had never played a game before that day, but I certainly didn't play anything with the amount of ferver I gained after playing Pokemon Blue (because I'd heard Red was harder.) And because I was young, I trashed both of those games before I could finish them and hid behind PC games like Petz, and something resembling Oregon Trail with better graphics. I've got some pretty fond memories of listening to that AOL dial-up sound. Still, gaming was just something I did. It passed the time and made me forget that I had to share this planet with crazy people who wanted to send me to Hell for mixing up my Hebrew alphabet. Only during 1999 did I discover that gaming could go far beyond my handheld or the computer.

My dad brought home a Sega Genesis with Sega CD addon.

He handed me Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and let me go, and I felt the thrill come alive in my little frame. I wanted to grab and collect as many of those goddamn golden rings as hedgehog-ly possible, and not even Y2k was going to stop me! I played my heart out of Sonic right through the Millenium. Looking back on it now, I think that videogaming is a culture and a big part of my life. It's something I'm competitive about and an industry that I have to watch fail a little more every day. But back then it was just fun. It was the kind of fun only a kid could have. Eventually I would spend hours every Saturday beating my Uncle in a min-game for Pokemon Stadium 2 on the N64, and never getting past the first two levels of Super Mario Advance for the Game Boy Advance. 

I'd get a Playstation 2 and a game called Okage: Shadow King and think that this was the premiere platform of gaming. I'd discover Final Fantasy X and hate the grid system, which would lead me to love the tactic/chessboard system for Final Fantasy XII. I'd get a Nintendo Gamecube and Animal Crossing and start out with a town named Hell and a boy named Devil, because I was a creepy kid. I would do all of these things and not quite realize the depth of my passion, because gaming was still just something I did. 

I could love specific games because I loved specific stories, but it wasn't the gaming I was in love with. It was the story. The game was simply the medium by which I got to experience the story, and if the game didn't have a story then I didn't want the game. Of course, in my adult life, this has led me to be called a 'casual' by the gaming community. 

It began to happen when I discovered Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time several years into my teens. I'd snagged the Collector's Edition for the Gamecube and realized I had never played a Zelda game. So I sat down with my best friend and we conquered temple, forest, dungeon, field and that blasted Floormaster. For years, I'd been gaming alone and now I wasn't. We solved puzzles like some crazy dynamic duo and I began to understand the power of gaming. Over the next few months, I surrounded myself with titles that are now near and dear to my heart: .hack, Psychonauts, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, and even Twilight Princess

Now, my passion rivals that of all my friends and I can beat anyone at a game of Strip Mario Party 6 GUI (Gaming Under Influence.) An Xbox 360 has joined my repertoire and my love for gaming is stronger than ever. I understand the industry and the love put into the games, as well as the struggle to get the game made. I've put lovingly long hours into 100% completion for games like Persona 3, Ni no Kuni, Skyrim, Dragon Age 2, Bayonetta, Portal and Portal 2. So while my gaming 'career' began with a Pokeball and some gold rings, I didn't begin to truly love it until I learned to play Epona's Song for the first time. 

To me, gaming is a passion, a culture, a lifestyle. It's one of the most artistic mediums I can think of and I wouldn't be me today without it.


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