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17 hours ago - 3:50 AM on 05.27.2015  

Thick as Thieves: Grand Theft Auto III Retrospective

So for my Band of Bloggers: Thick as Thieves entry I have decided to hone in on Grand Theft Auto III and do a retrospective post. It's no secret that I love Grand Theft Auto, specifically the Liberty City games but I won't bother linking that, partly because I can't because I have just written too many GTA blogs all over the place. Instead you can have this funny promo of Roman from GTA IV.

What's interesting is how the game is set in the early 2000s and because the game feels so dated, being that it's only the third numbered game released in the series, it feels more authentic. It actually feels like 2001 simply because the gameplay is so outdated and this is "old liberty city" as I like to refer it, in all its watered down and pixilated glory. It's like an interesting coincidence. The new Grand Theft Auto Games (IV and V) feel and play modern and are set in modern times (2008 and 2013 respectively) and the old Grand Theft Auto Games (III, VC, SA, VCS, LCS) feel and play dated and are set at the very least a decade ago and stretching as far back as to the early 80's (Source: GTA Wiki). Of course this will entirely be ruined ten years from now when these modern games are no longer "modern" and GTA 10 comes out with the ability to rig your brain to make you steal a car in real life. Live for the midpoint.

Sadly I played through this game after Liberty City Stories, which comparatively has more "teeth". This notion extends to the cities of each game, being that they are the same setting and version of the city we can easily compare the two and when I do I find that LCS' city is built with much more to do, more detail overall and this is so for obvious reasons. It was released much later than GTA III I mean even Vice City feels more dated than LCS. Let's say you walk down a specific street in GTA III, well there's a good chance that walking down that same street in LCS is going to be more interesting let's say. Again the LCS Liberty City was just made with more detail. There's also this example of hidden packages that I picked up on. In LCS you collect packages and in increments get rewards. Ie. after you find your fifth hidden package (any, these are hidden all throughout the game world) you will always have a small pistol with a tiny bit of ammo spawn in your safehouse. Then after that maybe a better gun or body armor after five or ten more. You get the idea. Whereas in GTA III, this isn't the case at all. You simply collect hidden packages. Then again, you never actually go "inside" of your safehouse in III like you can in LCS. So again we see these limitations. But I still like to look at Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories as almost too similar games and things like with the hidden packages simply make me want to play the more recent game which has more things for me to do and take in details wise around the city.

Let's move a little on to Story. In GTA: III the game follows a silent protagonist, Claude eh... they obviously knew this was a bad choice for this type of game as since then every GTA protagonist has been rich, with lots of back-story and most importantly speaking. Well maybe not always but at least the speaking part is true. From what I've read up about this was DMA (the dev at the time) trying to create a character that "everyone can relate to" (not quoting any one source but this idea of relatable characters) and as such Claude's voice was silenced and any sort of character depth was done away with to make way for this blank slate type of protagonist. That really is a damn shame as it makes not only cut scenes but the story in general less interesting when you SEE the character all the time but he doesn't honestly take part in what's going on. Instead he just stands there and nods awkwardly. I like to think at some point he introduced himself to these people, otherwise they wouldn't be associating with him. Flawed as it may be I will give them a pass on this simply because it was the first 3D Grand Theft Auto game, there was still plenty of improvement to come as we saw not to mention it could've been some pre-determined aspect that came out of the origin of this franchise, with its silent protagonists that nod and accept/carry out missions in total silence. They didn't realize how much worse it was this way yet and that's fine.

Then I got up to the moment you know the one I'm talking about. It's the moment that pissed of many internet people, including one not to be named feminist who I will absolutely not name. You get to the end credits of the game and Maria, the character you just fought the equivalent of a small army to rescue, is talking. She's talking. And talking. And she keeps talking... so much that a gunshot is heard and the talking ceases for the rest of the credits. All of this of course happens off screen so we don't know what this is actually supposed to be but I think we can safely assume what is being suggested is that Claude killed Maria because she was being annoying and blah blah-ing too much. Well I'll tell you this pisses me off too except for a different reason. IT FUCKS WITH THE STORY.

Why would Claude kill her AFTER he just fought through heavy military vehicles, a rocket firing helicopter and about two dozen dudes who could empty his health in seconds? Which by the way I finished with like three health left. If she was so annoying that he'd have to kill her to save his sanity why would he even start this mission in the first place? Why not let his ex-girlfriend have her? Oh because he mostly wanted revenge against the ex-girlfriend for betraying him.. No that's nonsense because he could've just fired down the helicopter from a safe distance and be done with this mission. Or even ambushed her at the original tradeoff by the mansion. So he must've wanted to rescue Maria.

In retrospect, by killing her during the credits it makes me feel like the final mission has no purpose. I could've just stopped the game at the mission before and it would've been all the same. Not to mention what's been said before but you don't get the cool mansion at the end, I guess it wasn't a staple of GTA yet, instead the final safehouse is a crummy building in a bad neighborhood. The final mission in this game is bullcrap. Oh and one last thing that keeps me from getting why in the world Claude kills Maria during the credits. Why is it that only now she annoys him this bad, the character has been around since the first island of the game, that's roughly 2/3rds of the game at the very least, and it's not like she was any less talkative before. The worst part is that being that Claude is a silent protagonist he can't explain his dumb self for any of this, that quiet bastard.

All things considered, this game feels like the Grand Theft Auto "prototype". It set the framework of everything that was to come for this franchise and also broke a shit ton of ground (Seriously I was a kid when this game launched and remember how many feathers were ruffled) for itself and games in general. This means that it is quite hard to come back to Grand Theft Auto III, overall it feels insubstantial and as if plenty of what you would expect to be missing from this game. It feels insubstantial and like parts are missing because the game is fairly short, the radio stations aren't as interesting over all and there are far less songs on them, the city has fewer details, gameplay is clunkier and there is less for you to do, the protagonist is a shell of what a GTA lead character should be and that half-assed final mission.

But how could you possibly hate this game for any of that? It is the brilliant starting point and brave step forward for Grand Theft Auto the franchise to come. You need to put on your extra awareness glasses for the ride, so that you understand going in this game isn't a perfect game but for what it was when it originally launched it absolutely excelled perfection and you better believe that because if you do you can still have a great time playing it decades later. It's like watching the first movie in a trilogy that got especially better over time. How could you go back to that first one when the sequels are far superior? Again, you need to have the right mindset to enjoy it. I did this with Grand Theft Auto III and enjoyed myself for the most part. It didn't feel as fulfilling as a modern Grand Theft Auto or even game in general, and you can tell because I spent a lot of this blog with my grievances, but it was hearty and I enjoyed it quite a bit as I excused many of those things, well at least looking back. I was pretty angry about how that final mission turned out when I was playing it...

I feel compelled to keep writing, like there is still more for me to say about this game but I can't find those words right now. Maybe it is something symbolic for a post about Grand Theft Auto III to be lacking a content/cut off short. This retrospective blog post was written by me the reviewer but now it's going to end with Claude the silent. I have said my piece and am at peace about this game.


11:10 AM on 05.08.2015  

PStoid Extra: What makes Virtua Fighter stand out?

I have decided to take on an added writing assignment per each episode of my podcast.

Following the release of an episode, I will pick something that I talked about on the show and expand upon it. It will not cover all things I talked about likely but also will probably cover things not said on the podcast. This is in hopes to promote my podcast, being that after an episode goes up in about a day it is completely unseen in the Cblogs side section, by referencing it in a blog post a day later or so with the added bonus that I will be encouraged to blog more. It's a Win-Win, yes? Hopefully some people that read my cblogs but don't listen to my podcast might be pushed to do so and vice verse if the podcast listeners out there will discover that I can blog.

Everything for the show will be linked at the bottom.

While I wait for him to make a Genesis Retrospective blog for it (Gaj ;)), I'm going to take this opportunity to talk to you about my absolute favorite fighting game. I'm going to expand upon something that was covered last time on PStoid but only very briefly.

So you slide the disk into the cd tray, or open a file from a list of games you own, the Sega logo plays among various others and you are greeted with a start screen. You jump right into a match as you are eager to start and then proceed to have a difficult time, getting your ass absolutely handed to you by the computer or competitive player. What happened, what went wrong? Well upon examining the button configuration screen you find out that Virtua Fighter only has three buttons!

Though it's actually more like six or seven unique inputs when you combine the different ones together, you essentially just have a button for Punch, Kick and Guarding. VF is one of those games that uses a button for guarding, much like Mortal Kombat or Smash Bros and unlike Street Fighter or Persona games, for example, that make you hold back to automatically guard. To me, the three button system makes Virtua Fighter the most accessible fighting game and I'll tell you why. Unlike Mahvel where you'd need to use likely the whole 8 available buttons on a fight stick, with Virtua Fighter my hand never leaves the buttons I need allowing me to focus entirely on what I'm doing and so forth. After a bit of sparring at my local arcade club with the VFers (Shoutouts to the crew!) it wasn't long before this was entirely intuitive. I mean I could hit punch, kick, punch + kick, kick + guard, punch and punch + kick + guard for a combo without missing a beat, because my hand never leaves every button for the game unlike other games where you need to be sliding your hand back and forth. For this alone, the developer has made something really outstanding for a fighting game as far as I'm concerned.

The other thing that really sets it apart is how the actual fighting in the game is. What I said on the podcast was something a friend (who doesn't VF bro) said about the game, that it's like the closest thing there is to an actual fighting game. He says so because the characters' movesets are based on real life fighting/martial arts styles. Ie. Jacky has Jeet Kune Do, Pai has Mízōngquán (Ensei-Ken) and so on. This, coupled with the fact that the game doesn't have any real added properties for the movies and no projectiles makes it feel real. It gives it that "realistic" to use the term feel and for a fighting game the application of that term is actually a good thing. Here is a fighting game where the fighting feels realistic (as opposed to here is this brown shooter where... because it's brown it feels more realistic?) Side note: Save for Kage who uses a ninja fighting style, Dural who isn't a real person and the Pro Wrestling characters for obvious reasons.

This sets Virtua Fighter apart because we don't get a lot of fighting games like that anymore, that try to be real. I've said it before but Mahvel and Street Fighter have a lot of flash (they're very flashy games) what with all sorts of particle effects added and an insufferable amount of fictional projectiles. The fighting isn't real but exaggerated and that's great for all those who enjoy and even prefer it that way but they can't say their fighting and move sets are grounded in reality. If you want 200 hit combos with missiles and lasers flying everywhere, Mahvel is over there. But if you want something REAL then the best game for someone in that market is simply Virtua Fighter.

Outside of that Virtua Fighter is unique to me for a few other reasons. It has a killer soundtrack, seriously there isn't a bad soundtrack in a vf game my favorite being either Virtua Fighter 2 or Virtua Fighter 5 (Vanilla). The former obviously gets the spot for being nostalgic but also they just knew how to compose a good track to go with the level/character. Shun Di's stage theme is very.. uhh, Chinese sounding, with a good atmospheric feel to it like you're standing with a foggy/mountainous backdrop, preferably floating on a river by way of bamboo raft. Wolf's stage theme is also very atmospheric but it takes you to a totally different setting, one that is the snow covered Alaskan/Canadian mountains. Cold, slow a slight bit melancholic but all action. And then there's Lion's theme which is supposed to be very youthful, let me go grab my skateboard and be all 90's and shit. Even though he is French and therefore his experience is of an inferior 90's to our awesome American 90's, he was promoted likely as the one kids will relate to most, being athletic, young and spry (with such amazing catchphrases as "I'd never hit the elderly" -cringe-) so they made him a fast paced, action packed theme song that honestly is good enough to be the main theme of VF 2.

Virtua Fighter 5 was able to accomplish similar, giving us really good theme songs for the locations and characters but using the marvels of modern audio technology it does away with that "all the songs kinda sound the same" that older Virtua Fighter games had going for them. Again we have Shun Di's theme with plenty of sounding-Chinese and whatnot. But they were able to get a lot more in there. More appropriately legitimate chinese instruments and musical techniques and from there they molded that into this quick song that gets you pumped for fast paced combat. Oh how perfect then is it that the drunken fighter beats down his opponents faster than you can say "take a shot"? Then we have the theme of Sarah Bryant, appropriately named Aurora. Like the character it is both alluring and fierce. I also appreciate the liberal usage of jazz piano in there, if you listen closely you can hear it every once in awhile. It's almost like a throwback to old VF and even Sega games music. Finally another example is El Blaze who was actually introduced along with Eileen for the first time in this iteration, much to my initial dismay. Well his theme is pretty alright as far as a metal/hard rock song goes but it does a lot more for him/the stage it's in simply for being a professional wrestler (specifically luchador)/wrestling arena. Metal just goes good with Wrestling, I don't know why, though I can make a pretty reasonable guess about it I've never questioned this. For the first ten seconds, what's probably the heaviest part, I am actually reminded of the old RAW IS WAR theme from the attitude era of the WWE. Not sure if that's intentional but I hear it and it works well for obvious reasons. The song also incorporates a lot of synth managing to miraculously not piss me off. I like my metal sans keyboards and the like, save for Rammstein, Ministry and a couple others it's rarely done well imo. But this song hits a good balance of guitar work and electronic effect. Kudos. Truly the composers for these games are musical geniuses.

Another interesting thing with the music is how every new version of VF5 got a brand new soundtrack that wasn't garbage *cough UMVC3 cough* here is one such example. I've been listening to this song since Final Showdown came to consoles and gotta say it still raises the hair on my spine.

There too is an interesting blend of voice acting. Even though Virtua Fighter is notorious for terrible english voices, especially VF5, I like what they did in the aforementioned poorly dubbed game. Some fighting games make all the character speak one language while others give you the choice for each or most of the characters individually, either they can speak Japanese or English. But that creates a weird break between the character itself. Don't get me wrong, I've watched a ton of anime in my day both subbed and dubbed and I love that people have that choice there but for fighting game characters it feels like one will definitely work better than the other and the other one is usually just dreadful to listen to. English Street Fighter Ryu, Mortal Kombat 9's Kung Lao/Liu Kang, etc. If you don't have the choice you're stuck with part of the cast sounding good and others sounding not so good. If you do, then you still will at some point have to listen to horrible dubs/not the ideal voice and know such an inferior piece of trash exists in this game. Well VF has the best option, one voice per character but it's not limited to one language. The english speaking characters speak english and the non-english speaking characters speak Japanese. Sadly that means that there are Chinese characters that speak Japanese but it's a start. This way the most appropriate voice is mandated for each character and you don't need to tinker or be disappointed. Also fun fact a member of one of my favorite Jpop groups voices Pai Chan, who happens to be my main or was my previous main.

There are many things that make this game unique that I won't cover, like how it inspired the 3D fighters of today that are more popular now like Tekken or Dead or Alive or it's "Rock, Paper, Scissors" mechanics which was stolen by Tecmo when they also stole the whole of Virtua ,if we're to be perfectly honest, to make their boob fighting game. It's probably also one of the few 3D fighting games that's around since the 90's but has a niche presence in America and Europe while its strongest following is over in Japan. But really it's just my opinion and this is my favorite fighting game. I will leave you though, since this whole thing came out of a desire to talk about Sega of all things, what could've been if Sega hadn't fucked around when came to support for this game. Notice how the one match that gets showcased on the main stage of Evo in Las Vegas got a ton of good crowd reaction and hype. For shame Sega.


I hope that you enjoyed this rambling on of fan of a game of a great community of a shitty publisher that ruined it all, however you feel about Virtua Fighter or the things I've said please let me know if the comments below and thank you for reading! As promised I couldn't link the podcast stuff at the beginning in good faith so, if you feel compelled to check it out, you can find all of that below.

Podcast Blog Post

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Facebook and Forums!


2:26 PM on 05.06.2015  

Too many games to play

[Update 4: Put GTA 2 on a sort of hiatus/playing it bit by bit while I play other stuff, also taking a break from the GTA's atm as I have my fill and San Andreas would really be a long one. Starting Bioshock instead as I am feeling a bit depressed and could use a good scare.]

[Update 3: Finished Grand Theft Auto III and restarting Grand Theft Auto II.]

[Update 2: Added Bioshock.]

[Update 1: So I just want to let anyone (who possibly sees this) know that I will periodically be coming back and updating this here blog post. Now that I've finished my first backlog game, and am on my way to the next, the list needs some changing. Bold denotes games that have been added since I first did this blog and strikethrough is for ones that I have since completed. If I manage to get through everything here I will probably be doing a brand new blog post for it but will certainly keep updating this one. Not to mention it's likely not gonna happen.]

So what's been irking me for awhile is how I play games all the time now but still my backlog feels like it's getting bigger and bigger. It's like the only way to play all the games you ever wanted to play in your life would be to spend your whole life playing them. I hope that the most important message everyone gets from this is that there is a time and place for everything and that gaming needs to take a back seat for more important life responsibilities, events, etc. That being said, let's talk about all the games I want(ed) to play!

First up we could talk about a few that I've wanted to and just got around to finishing and we'll start with Wolfenstein: New Order which I have blogged already about. I bought this one way the fuck back on Black Friday '14 for the low price of fifteen bucks. Along with Metal Gear Ground Zeros for ten and Assassin's Creed Black Flag for twenty. All PS4 and since I've been almost exclusively playing on the slicker newer console, I've been trying to get through all the physical games I own for it, including Wolfie. So having just beaten Shadow of Mordor and Diablo III finally, also out of my backlog and bought on relatively good sales, I blasted through Wolfenstein. I loved it, you can hear more about that potentially later but it was good to finally get around to playing and finishing a game I've had for about half a year. I will say though there hasn't been a single sale that touched the awesome price of $15 for it since then, so that justifies the purchase back in November in my head. Moving on..

Next we had the Spring Line up for the PSN. Every year they run a handful of games, some of which are old, some of which are newly ported and others are totally new, generally all indies. I think I bought most of those or at least half. I played through Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Axiom Verge, Bastion and Shovel Knight. Even though I rushed through most of them in that week before the release of the following Fever game, it still required that I take a step back from that terrifying backlog. I was happy to do it however, simply because I knew a lot about all of these games already and wanted them.

But it's time to return to that backlog guys. I know there are new games that come out all the time, that we have to take a step back from the backlog to play. For me right now that's for sure going to be Bloodborne , MKX, Alien: Isolation & 1886 when I get them, Uncharted 4, Tomb Raider, The Witcher, etc. But at the moment I'm going to hold back on buying any new games (even though I totally just bought Akiba's Trip after it finally hit a sweet low price for the Golden Week sale) to go shovel through that backlog for awhile. I don't know how long it'll be before I come back but there's just way too much that I have and want to play already that needs to be played through. And even though I don't want to seem dramatic about it, I feel like listing out my current "I know I will play" version of my backlog will help me keep track of it, feel better and most importantly share with you great people. So here goes:

All of the Tell Tale Adventure games I missed for PS3, Sam & Max, Monkey Island, etc.
Anything new that comes out on PS+ that I haven't touched yet, Deadly Premonition: DX, Ether One, Never Alone, etc.
Akiba's Trip (PS4)
Assassin's Creed IV (DLC Story) (PS4)
Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
Bioshock (PS3)
Duke Nukem 3D (Vita)
Enclave (Steam)
Fallout 1 (Retry) (Steam)
Fallout 2 (Steam)
FNAF (Steam)
Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS1)
Grand Theft Auto 3 (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (a second time) (PS2)
Gravity Rush (Vita)
Half Life 1 (PS2)
Max Payne 2 (PS2)
MediEvil (PS1)
New Little King's Story (Vita)
Nuclear Throne (Steam)
Omerta: City of Gangsters (Steam)
Persona 4 (Vita)
Rainbow Moon (Vita)
Risk of Rain (Steam)
Silent Hill HD Collection (Just SH2) PS3)
The Killzone Collection (Just the first one) (PS3)
The Ratchet & Clank Collection (Just 2 and 3) (PS3)
Thief Series (Steam)
To the Moon (Steam)
Two Brothers (Steam)
Valkyria Chronicles 2 (PSP)
Ys: Origins (Steam)
Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP)

It's funny, I feel so much worse now that it has all been written out like this... Lol sigh. Well I'll be starting with GTA III, conveniently for the new BoB assignment!


3:15 PM on 04.21.2015  

Ask the Community: Games I should've gotten into but Didn't

Awkwardly worded title aside, what's been on my mind lately is a few games that I've owned for a while and certainly match my interests going by the sorts of games that I like but for some reason I didn't stick around to playing them for too long or just didn't play them in the first place. Could be back logged games, games I got for free, games I bought discounted or even ones I bought relatively full msrp. I bet plenty of them are steam or playstaiton plus games, is probably what you're thinking. Well you're mostly right! Here are a few of the games that fit this category and a thing or two about them:



Castlevania: Harmony of Despair - Here's a fun one. A modern Castlevania game, still plenty pixel-y and good for cooping apparently. What a sell! Yeah it was on discount too, relatively cheap bought it. Meant to coop it all the way through with a buddy of mine, played a level or two had to call it a night never happened again. Sad piano. It is really sad though because as far as I can tell this is a top notch Castlevania game actually. It brings a bunch of the different characters together and you pick your choice to play through levels, with minimal story. Which does sound bad seeing as story is crucial in a Castlevania but the gameplay is really nice. And hey while you're not listening to game plot you could always fill in the details of what's going on and why with that friend you're Coop-ing this with! Oh and did I mention the soundtrack still kicks ass? Yeah it does I guess the last branch of a Castlevania game is that you will get some sweet music to play to.

Just remember that you get to toggle the camera pan in this game. For whatever reason you always start super panned out and the first time back you might not realize and just think the whole game was intended to be played like this.

Overall Impression? - Pretty solid game, check it out it's probably dirt cheap by now.

Likely to try again? - Yeah it seems fairly short and I'd be double interested to pick it up again if I had a dedicated friend to coop it with.



Renegade Ops - Yeah not as much to say here unfortunately. This one came as a freebie super early on for playstation plus. I remember wanting this game for a long time. Because it was Sega. Because it was a top down action game. But didn't invest because it was never on sale. Well then I got it for free and I didn't play it a whole bunch. Kinda shame but that's just the way it goes a lot with plus games and now I'm barely even touching my PS3 anymore. Art style looks great anyway.

Overall Impression? - It was a fun game def. but it didn't hook me enough likely.

Likely to try again? - Yes and like with Harmony of Despair I believe this one is a big multiplayer kind of game so if anyone has Renegade Ops for the PS3 and wants to play some time hit a fella up.



Omerta: City of Gangsters - Lately I've been more interested in top down strategy games. Most of all because I absolutely fell in love with Wasteland 2 and that got me interested in going back in time to play the original Fallout. That didn't go so well and you can read all about it here but I digress. Omerta is much the same that kind of game. Top down. Plenty of action. It's about the mobsters of years gone by. Got this one on a steam sale and it was still pretty expensive but felt compelled to get it because I convinced myself beyond some mixed reviews on the game that this was for me. Sadly I haven't touched it since I got a bunch of other games to play around this time. Damn shiny objects. Otherwise I should've loved this game like it may or may not deserve.

Overall Impression? - This type of game has recently become my bag. Haven't played it but it's likely going to sit well with me.

Likely to try? - Yeah I'm 'getting to it'.


But enough about my list, I'm curious to know yours!

THIS is the question: Community, are there any game(s) you should've gotten into but didn't and how come?

Thanks for reading, feel free to give me feedback as well!


3:57 PM on 04.14.2015  

PStoid Extra: Axiom Verge

I have decided to take on an added writing assignment per each episode of my podcast.

Following the release of an episode, I will pick something that I talked about on the show and expand upon it. It will not cover all things I talked about likely but also will probably cover things not said on the podcast. This is in hopes to promote my podcast, being that after an episode goes up in about a day it is completely unseen in the Cblogs side section, by referencing it in a blog post a day later or so with the added bonus that I will be encouraged to blog more. It's a Win-Win, yes? Hopefully some people that read my cblogs but don't listen to my podcast might be pushed to do so and vice verse if the podcast listeners out there will discover that I can blog.

Everything for the show will be linked at the bottom.

For those of you who wanted Super Metroid on PSN this is your answer.

"I've basically spent all of my gaming over the last few weeks playing this and not a whole lot else." The prospect of getting to play something like Super Metroid is kind of been done to hell I mean how often do we have an indie game released that's a 'Metroidvania'? Pretty often really. So what makes this one different? Simply put I don't know what enticed me about this game. It was probably the appeal of its pixilated art style, like the vast majority of indie games. Alternatively I have never played a Metroid game all the way through and was interested in the idea of it. I also got to demo test it at IndieCade this year, which was pretty fun too. All in all, there was a period starting maybe five months back from which I was already set on getting Axiom Verge.

The game is slow to build and many things are left unexplained to its detriment. This goes even so far as some of the controls not being obvious from the start, like that you can hold L1 to lock your character and aim freely, a technique that is crucial in some parts/boss fights. Also a protip: as you will be going to the map a bazilion fucking times the touchpad is a map shortcut. I did not realize this and like a fool went through the majority of the game going to the map from the pause menu every single time. It doesn't seem like a big deal but again, after the first few hours you will see how much referencing back to the map there is. I also complained about the passcodes, a tool that you discover in game which helps you unlock certain weapons or paths or even change your character's appearance. It really felt like the game just dropped this mechanic on you without telling you much else about how to get your pass codes and what they do etc.

Now on to the good. The last three points I addressed are related in a way that each one is comes from game design vs. hand holding. Axiom Verge is not trying to hold your hand. I think that's why things are cryptic and why the controls give you what you need to play but don't make things too easy even so. There's no standard dash move from the get go which would've really helped and I sort of expected to be there because I was getting dealt a lot of hits. Hits that my character was too slow to get out of the way of, the slow bastard.. Further, there are no checkpoints in this game that you can bounce back and forth between as is the norm in games these days - funnily enough most games that use save point/check point teleporting don't call for it in respect to the story, like Fallout set in a sci-fi universe but not the type that would have teleportation, the world crafted for Axiom Verge could easily accommodate why the character has the ability to jump from one side of the map to the other instantaneously, but it doesn't and good on the dev.

This is what the map looks like in Axiom Verge *the screenshot shown is not fully explored.

That is what you have to explore sans checkpoint fast travel. You will put at least 15 hours or so into this story (I rounded out at 20) and much of that time is going back to areas you previously could not access but now have the means to, by foot. Not to mention, the map is huge with so much for you to explore. It is time consuming but this creates one of the most satisfying feelings of exploration in a game. Though at times frustrating because you need to back travel manually again or you went to the wrong place, when you finally get through it and that map is nearly 100% you know you didn't take the easy way out. I'd like to think that this also made me more proficient with this sort of gameplay allowing me to go back and finally beat an old Castlevania or Metroid, games that previously seemed tedious as all hell. Instead of fearing the exploration, I want more thanks to how perfect the exploring works here.

So in summation, they really created a true to its roots Metroid inspired game. Even though in my experience there were barriers at first, over time they dissolved and I was able to take on the game thirsting for more of the map to explore and more cool things in the game to discover. What at first had seem on the level of "Milon's Secret Castle" level of cryptic/arbitrary hidden blocks soon it was more obvious what parts were breakable or where to explore and I was wasting less time trying to drill/disrupt every part of every room. Axiom Verge will grow on you if you give it a chance. Initially I was mad that they made the game way more than I wanted to pay and the special discount wasn't a whole lot but in the end I think every dollar was worth it.

I hope that you enjoyed this review, however you feel about Axiom Verge please let me know if the comments below and thank you for reading! As promised I couldn't link the podcast stuff at the beginning in good faith so, if you feel compelled to check it out, you can find all of that below.

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8:17 PM on 04.09.2015  

Favorite Game Radio: GTA IV

One console generation ago, I picked up a gem by the name of Grand Theft Auto: IV. I don't know why the game gets some hatred online but to me it is one of my favorite games that I played on the PS3.

An important aspect of this sandbox, third person shooter is its atmosphere, the game world. Grand Theft Auto games have since popularized the "urban sandbox crime" game fad but unlike some other like Saints Row that embrace creative choices, GTA has always been a game that crafts a realistic world based on whatever real life City the game takes inspiration from that time. And the fourth (with the number not "fourth" by chronology) introduced me to an important element of realism these games had which was that the radio reflects the radio stations' music you would find in the equivalent irl city. Vice City had 80's metal and New Wave, San Andreas had hip-hop and 90's metal and Grand Theft Auto: IV captures the real life radio stations of New York.

You have your reggea/dancehall stations (Massive Beat & Tuff Gong) which are wildly popular. Latin music, in this case reggaeton/merengue (San Juan Sounds), hardcore punk, later turned metal/thrash crossover in the DLC expansion (Liberty City Hardcore) which is crucial to this game simply because hardcore music had and has a big scene in New York and lastly Classic Rock (Liberty Rock Radio). East Coaster's love their classic rock stations. There are several and you could probably drive from Washington all the way up to Boston without shortage of classic rock to listen to along the way.

All of these tracks really capture what you would hear on your car radio in the real "Liberty City" and it's wonderful, clearly Rockstar did their homework. And at the same time, I've never really listened to a lot of this music. But since I played so much GTA IV in my day I always needed to switch to a different radio station for phases. At first I really loved Liberty Rock Radio, then I got bored of that, so I switched over to Liberty City Hardcore, still not too far off from my tastes. When I had memorized practically every song there I again had to change stations. Thankfully there were several that I never even touched. So slowly I made my way through to the ones that played music I was rather unfamiliar with/previously didn't like, such as Massive Beat and then San Juan Sounds. These two stations I grew to absolutely adore and I listened to them all the time like crazy, and even when I'm not playing grand theft auto. It's a really cool side effect of playing this game, it being expanding my music tastes.

Then we also have the music of the Liberty City from the Grand Theft Auto 3/LCS stories. Practically the same radio station selection even though the games are (story wise and release wise I believe) decades apart. You have a solid mix that almost represents the same sounds of the modern day Liberty City. We still have a focus on international music, although mostly Indian (Radio Del Mundo) and reggae (KJAH Radio) and also hip-hop (Liberty Jam) but this time instead of the focus on classic rock and metal/punk there are radio stations for electro/electronic music (Flashback FM), pop/soft-rock (LIPS106/RISEFM) and drum and bass (MSX 98). Evidently there was a shift. They probably also couldn't have had the money to secure the rights for the classic rock that was popular among New York radio stations at the time, acts like Queen, The Eagles or Joan Jett, being as they only just started turning Grand Theft Auto into a money printing franchise. But I can totally live with that; it is a minor discrepancy but it gives these two games a bit of a different feel, musically at least, not to mention it still turned me on to some great music from an early (GTA:III) and then in my teenage years (GTA:LCS). Probably the reason I have a general taste for drum and bass and music of that sort, as well as the music of Giorgio Moroder.

At the end of this rambly blog I think there's one thing I am for sure, I really want to go back and play me some Grand Theft Auto III and Liberty City Stories. In fact, I would love to marathon those two and then Grand Theft Auto: IV hell maybe there'd be some more obvious references to the previous two Liberty City based games that I missed. What do you guys think? Have you played Grand Theft Auto and noticed it's intricate radio stations? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading this mess!


3:34 AM on 04.02.2015  

Cool Sh*t in this Game: Wolfenstein New Order

One of my absolute favorite games that I only barely remember playing in high school for the first time was Wolfenstein 3D. Well that game's time has come and gone, there already was a Wolfenstein remake way back when, lined up around the 6th generation time. Totally missed my radar and I didn't get to that one. The recently released New Order however was on my radar then it wasn't and then it made it back when I snagged it for a sweet black friday deal and it's just been sitting on my shelf since.

So when I finally launched this beast into my PS4 I found that the first few hours were very unimpressive. I mean I was really disappointed because it was just so gritty and generic feeling. It actually got better a few chapters after, story-wise. I will not be spoiling it but they got some good, cross relationship & revenge story stuff going on in there. Not to mention the first big twist made me feel very crushed, like just imagining that reality depressed me. Again, no spoilers I'm just gonna say: I love you America!

The whole time, though, there was one great resentment hanging over the experience of New Order overall and that was basically this: I just wanted to play Wolfenstein 3D all over again. This feels like 3D but with so much removed, it's just changed I know what else was to be expected after all this time the same exact game? As good as the story has gotten up to where I'm at, I would gladly sacrifice that for a Wolfenstein 3D... 2. Really. Bethesda. You have the bank we all know it what with that E3 Press Conference you ordered, let's work something out here. But then like the sun shining its magnificent light through the dark gray rain clouds it was as if my prayers were answered.

There's a super dope throwback to 3D in this game! I was half expecting, and full on hoping they'd do it and they did. In New Order, the main character Blazkowicz has the opportunity to engage a "nightmare" mode where you experience a "nightmare" but actually it's not a nightmare it's awesome ass Wolfenstein 3D!!! Well mostly, like 95%. You basically play what's probably the HD version of 3D – except for some reason everything looks bigger – but with your hud view arms/guns/hud from the modern Wolfenstein: New Order. A bit jarring I know but whatever my eyes are bathing the euphoria of playing 3D again – with its music playing all the while too. But then the not a nightmare but actually a dream is over, you wake up and go back to the modern game. I won't lie to you to try and sound all pretentious by saying that at this point I just want to shut off New Order and fire up the nearest SNES because the game is really good by itself. Now that I took three seconds to look it up, turns out this is the only time in the game this happens and yeah you only get to play the recreation of Level 1 from 3D. INFINITE SADNESS. It would've been amazing if they let you play the whole of 3D as a side reward/section to go with New Order's campaign. I don't know about you but I'd do it.

But that aside, this is really a cool thing that they put into their game. It's one of my favorite things when a game is full of these little find-mes just to put a little added fun into a game. I'm not going to say it's because Bethesda was involved since they may've just been the publisher but guys it was totally because Bethesda was involved. A game with Bethesda involved usually is full of this kind of games magic. Let's save that for a possible other blog though! In the meantime there is one more thing that I'd like to cover and that's the records you find. To put it bluntly you find a bunch of records that are well known songs but covered by the Nazis because this is an alternate universe and all so The Beatles were really Nazis. Then you get to play those songs from the game's main menu. I know this isn't anything entirely new as we've seen it in Bioshock Infinite and so on. But it's still pretty out there and I enjoyed it.

I took the liberty of looking up the total list of songs you can find because there's no way I'll find them all on my own. Seems to be about a dozen or so and you have either full on covers or reimaginings of songs by musicians like the Beatles, the Kinks, the Animals, and a bunch of others I don't recognize. Side note: Would've loved to see one for like Kenny Loggin's Danger Zone or Taking Care of Business, but I digress. Or Elvis, definitely Elvis. Maybe Dark Side of the Moon would've been funny too..

Here is a video of what seems to be all of them.

That's basically it. There are plenty of other collectibles, this game has a hearty amount of stuff for you to look for but the Wolfenstein 3D throwback level and the records were the most interesting to me. I want this to be a love letter/thank you to the dev and if they had something to do with the decision, Bethesda, for including these aspects of the game. It's really one of my favorite aspects of games in general.

But how about you guys, do you like these sorts of creative secrets or are you too busy playing the campaign rushing past that sort of stuff? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!


2:28 PM on 03.16.2015  

Post PAX Blog: Party in the East, 2015

Well about a week ago a wonderful event where gamers get together called PAX East happened. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to it, it happened, everyone enjoyed themselves (yes, I've confirmed this!) and now it's time to be sad that it's over :(

The last one's so sad he just mopes around now listening to linkin bark

More to the point, every year I write a blog following up on all the things that happened at the show. I'll try not to forget anything but here goes:

Dtoid stuff: Met with Dustin to record a quick intro segment for Radio Destructoid, hung out with a few dtoiders, most of whom I didn't recognize/know except psy from last year and Jed from the staff at the old favorite spot Elephant and Castle, the annual community photo time where I got to meet with several familiars also Kyle for the first time, then skipped the next dinner night, gave out community awards on the showfloor with Holmes, Caitlin, Kyle and other cool people, which was nice because otherwise I wouldn't be doing anything all that cool on Sunday except wandering and then finally we wrapped up the Radio Destructoid recording for the live episode, and sad goodbyes. Oh and it's not entirely related to Dtoid anymore but I found and met Spencer and Betty. They were really, really nice and it was great to meet them. Also incredibly not what I excepted height-wise lol. Sadly Phil was not there with them!

Interesting games: Holy crap the only thing I'm sure as shit coming away from PAX this year is that the amount of games I need to check out/follow/buy is scary overwhelming. I'll do my best to jot them all down here: Don't Starve: Together, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Witcher III, Severed, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Axiom Verge, Titan Souls, Kwaan, The Masterplan, Mini Metro, Vagante, the new Steamworld game a little, CheckIn-KnockOutNo Time To ExplainGhost Control INC.Spoiler AlertSpeedRunnersLovely PlanetParty... Hard, all of the adult swim games games (TreverserOblitusWesterado Double BarreledRise & ShineGhost SongDuck GameRain World and Death's Gambit), Codename Steam, Bastion on PS4, Tearaway on PS4, Shovel Knight and YIIK. Obviously, it's mostly indie games, there are just so damn many of them. Honestly I was not expecting how many games were interesting for me this year. I would've also loved to check out The Behemoth's "Game Number 4" or whatever it's called. They're a favorite of mine, would like to see what else they got for us.

Other stuff: Some other cool stuff that happened to me was, for instance, I had my wrestling mask on me and got it signed by the Drink Box people, pretty cool of them and they seemed generally thrilled to do it too! I also got to check out Bit Brigade a second time and they did Metroid again but I liked it a lot more this time (at MAGfest it was a bummer for some reason). Sadly my favorite Chiptunes musician was there but he didn't perform at the convention center but a bar in the area and it was too late for me to go by the time I realized. Mega 64 was great as always, their panel and their booth. It's hard to remember the rest.

The Pictures: I made a thread calling for people that wanted to be adopted, a long standing Destructoid tradition and the vast majority of them made it with me in the form of a giant cardboard box, that at times I could hold like a shield. In the style of a picture blog, every picture, dtoid shield pics included, will all be uploaded to gallery and posted one by one following. The gallery has better quality if you want.


I'm so ready for this

And this

Special pic for Andy

A bunch of high end fans I think

The Calling of the Dew-des!

Sitting down to dinner with the Dtoid family

I only just found out this game is being made by the Advanced Wars guy, must get.

Bit Brigade !m!

Free Shrugs guy was pretty meh..

Coolest Enforcer cosplay to date!

This is a game called Party Hard it's about partying.... hard!

I was standing in front of this dumb Evolve display and trying to get a neat pic with the avatars, couldn't get it to come out well so I decided to edit it in myself, shut up it's the feeling that matters.


I also picked up some codes. I'm always happy to share with the Dtoid community, so if anyone wants I can give out a couple here and the rest will be given away on PStoid's next episode!


5:06 AM on 03.12.2015  

Skateboarding + Destructoid Podcast = Skatetoid!

Writing on the left side isn't radical enough!


Join Dtoid favorites Cold William aka Bill and Mr Phil Ken Mike Martin and also dtoider Nanashi as they talk skateboarding, their experiences, favorite skateboarding related people and things, and share stories in this one-off podcast!

You can find our three podcast hosts here:





That's really all there is to say, go download the episode [url=]here[/url]!


2:11 PM on 03.04.2015  

Is Your Avatar kinda lonely? Why not let me adopt it!!

That's right for a limited time only you, yes you Dear Dtoider can have your Avatar Adopted™ at the incredibly low low cost of FREE!!!! At a bedrock low price like that you'd have to be absolutely crazy not to let me take your Avatar with me to PAX East this weekend!


But Nanashi, every time I try to participate the instructons are always too complicated or I'm not selected.

Fear not, the way to take advantage of this deal can be summed up by 3 simple steps!!


1. Say so in the comments

2. Include a nicely high resolution image unless you want me to pick for you (generally based on your avatar)

3. Make sure to get it in within the next 24 hours or so to ensure I see it.


For example:

Hello my name is Nanashi, please adopt my avatar thank you :) <3

And that's it!
Your avatar is well on its way to a Boston video game convention in three easy instructions! I'll try to take as many with me but if I run out of space on my carboard box, we can see about having another dtoider take your avatar with them!

To get an idea of what to expect when you let me adopt your avy here is a blog I posted last year and also a picture of Hamza with Marche, Jim and AboveUp! Thanks guys :)


2:30 AM on 03.03.2015  

How the mighty fast have fallen: Sega calls it

Allegedly, Sega is shifting away from developing games to focus its efforts entirely, or almost entirely, on the phone/mobile games market reports say. There are more recent findings suggesting that they aren't 100% out or that Sonic could still be on consoles, but let's face it this is likely the end of the road for Sonic and certainly Sega as we knew them.

They haven't had a really good game, or even a decent Sonic game in recent memory, they've been rereleasing several of their older games onto modern consoles and pc for years now - and doing a sloppy job at that too, where the hell is a Saturn Ultimate Collection? - and they've already caved by doing the mobile games schtick. This was just a matter of time, and no matter how many people say they feel confident that this isn't driving the last nail in the coffin, it is and might as well be as it would've happened eventually the way they were going.


What Sega meant to me

Despite growing up with Nintendo in the home, my fondest gaming memories are with Sega consoles. Genesis, Saturn and a bit of Dreamcast, sadly didn't get much exposure with that one. Sonic was, is and will always be better to me than Mario, the old games I mean. The music, level design and speed are all infinitely more interesting, I feel, however I'm not trying to shit on Mario just that when you're presented with a Rolls Royce that BMW gets forgotten quickly. Sonic 1, 2 and 3 are all perfect games and I can play them any time and enjoy the experience just the same. They're some of my favorite titles and even if Sega's Blue mascot changed for the worse, again in my opinion, there's just a wall that I set up between the good and the bad and I was always fine with that. Maybe Sega just couldn't stand to make a good Sonic game anymore, like they destroyed the franchise beyond redemption, that's fine but they had other great titles.

From there we have classics like Streets of Rage, Altered Beast and Daytona USA to name a few. All that hold a special place in games for me, because they were good games. Not to mention to this day Virtua Fighter is my favorite fighting game and the only one I'd consider to play again and again. Seriously the Virtua Fighter franchise has a lot of potential but a series of awful decisions destroyed Sega's reputation for even the core VF demographic of Japanese arcades where it had a legitimate scene and was strongest. All of that is down the shitter now. Hopes of a great sixth title that would undo all of the bad because you know the creator's generally wanted to make a great follow up game instead of just pumping out another broken rushed mess full of near immediate dlc/patches, (something practically unheard of in modern fighting games) gone in a flash. I traveled around the country for a brief period to hang with the awesome Virtua community, with a long established history and so much great potential to build upon. Such a shame seeing as it just hit its 20th anniversary.

And then even as far as 2006 Sega was still capable of being synonymous with good/decent titles. We saw that with Valkyria Chronicles, the Yakuza series, Resonance of Fate and then what happened? A suicidal decision of porting the sequel to the portable, exclusively, then doing nothing with the franchise till just, so recently where they rereleased the original game on steam. Poor support outside of Japan. I don't know, all of these games were great, so Sega is capable of putting good stuff out there, they just ruin it with awful business practices.


What's left

This is a really weird place. Seems like just yesterday one of the big two and then three and then four of consoles became just another game company. No offense to game companies just that's obviously a huge step down. And today, or in the near future, that game company is taking the next greatest downward step by becoming an all mobile focused company. At least it feels like this is the end because really where else can they step down to? Surely Sega isn't going to announce in another decade they're now just an indie studio. (Again no offense jeez)

Sega fans are pissed everywhere and they have every right to be. A collection of our favorite games and creators, plump with potential, are going to waste away all because of Sega. You'll never see that sequel or even remake you wanted. Nope that's done now. Hell I'm usually quick to complain about them but they seemed to be in the exact same situation not too long ago and yet even Capcom pulled out of it alright. They also let down fans countless times and ruined their own games with god-awful decisions but at least they did something right. I don't know what it is. Maybe they stole James Hetfield's ballsack and sacrificed it to get out of their rut. But they were able to. And so was Sega. Don't tell me you guys couldn't get out of this jam.

So that's it. The home of my favorite games of all time is going out not with a bang but with a whimper of fremium, in app microtransactions and generally, repetitive games that will annoy the crap out of old people on the bus.


3:35 PM on 02.28.2015  

RANT: Fat Princess Piece of Cake

Yes I know, this could totally be its own episode of that series I once did where I rant about things. But no I'll save that for a game that I can say a lot more about.

The Truth is, Fat Princess: Piece of Cake is a reminder. A reminder that video games are fun and sometimes they can mean a lot to people, but they are also business. Bizzy-NES. Getting busy with Ness. So from there we have what could've been a delightful, more appealing game-wise skin swap of No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either! a game that I believe was on my blog before in one form or another. It could've been that, but it wasn't.

No Puzzles was a great game because it was free to play, had a sorta unique puzzle mechanic, and most importantly, payment was optional! Also that it was a vita game because we need more of those like thirsty people in the desert need water. Its pay mechanic worked like this: the game itself is hard in the way that you would need to be more cunning in your moves and develop some skill to do better. This is the core game and from there the most important thing you need to pay for is a thing of DLC to get rid of the time constraint. We're talking like $7 here. Long story short I committed because it was in my opinion that the developer made the game first and then made the pay mechanic. They wanted to make a good game, is the conclusion I come to from that fact.

Being that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Plump Heiress on the PS3, it's no surprise how excited I was to hear that Vita is getting a new FP game. Oh boy, I don't know whether I should change my pants now or when I get my hands on this game! Well hold off, it's a free to play game. So I didn't want to be that guy, you know the guy that groans immediately at the utterance of "free to" and "play" in the same sentence like the end product is immediately worthless? Yeah I thought fuck that guy, I'm not any less excited for Piece of Cake. The idea being that it would be a great experience nonetheless. Then I read that it's also a puzzle game. Huh, some screens look like No Puzzles, that game I loved oh this is gonna be the best you guys!

It was not. The game can be a slight amount of fun and it's probably best enjoyed in small bursts anyway. But they put way too many incentives for pay mechanics in that game. The game is hard because everything is designed to fuck with you so that that fat greedy cake eater can pop her head on the screen and say "Oh gee, so sorry that you got absolutely wrecked. Hmm, you know what would help with that? This item that magically is designed for just that situation. Only blah-ty blah. blah-ty blah available on the store!" Fuck you and your cake hole I ain't buying shit. So then when you go to replay, ah sorry man you went over how many tries you get for the next 10 minutes (1 per every 10 minutes) which is also something that you can buy away from the game. Funny how these games' paying mechanics are more complex than the games themselves.

Well I'm not buying and I'll tell you why. It's because trying for the thousandth time to beat a level and then getting utterly crushed because the opposing team has three times the number of characters as you with way more potent abilities gets absurd, especially considering at times you will make a move that "cascades" into about seventeen other moves you'll do well and then get to a point where the enemies are just too OP and they kill you anyway. So evidently it's not about skill OR luck. Which leaves one thing this game could be about.

So thanks, Piece of Cake, I am now officially "that guy". I've been burned by a Free to Play game and am immediately skeptical/dismissive of all other F2P games from here on out. You've done a wonderful thing. Instead of giving us a Fat Princess 2 or even something like Fistful of Cake for the Vita, you tried to fuck your consumer base.

Don't give money for this lazier version of No Puzzles Either! because they obviously weren't trying to make a good game first. Instead just download the slop and keep playing it on the free like I did.


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