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3:23 PM on 07.27.2013

Open Discussion: On FEZ II: Why are "we" so open about Social Media?

In regards to what happenes between Phil Phish and Marcus Beer, something stroke me as interesting.

Having graduated from Art School, I know people in other entertainment industries such as film, music, and animation. What they have told me is that cases such as this, when professionals lash out on media, are almost non-existent. Comparing this to our industry has made me realize that both media outlets and developers bursts out on media like Facebook and Twitter. I can hardly imagine seeing poeple like John Lasseter and Brad Bird responding to media outlets in such mean spirited ways.

Sure, we have seen things like Amy's Bake and Cake and Amanda Bynes hit the mainstream news when it comes to social media breakouts, and heck, we all know how open Donald Trump is on twitter, but these things happen more commonly in our community and industry.

I'm not bad mouthing the video game industry. I love it, and that's why I became a 3D Artist for Games; so that I can do what I love with the people I love. But this has genuinely intrigued me today. This has happened with Jonathan Blow before, Cliff Blezinsky, and also people lashing out to Randy Pitchford on the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Jim Sterling, commenting on today's events regarding Fez II, says that what you best can do is to avoid those fights.

So, I want to open discussion on the comments based on the question "Why is the game industry as a whole so open about Social Media more than other industries and branches."   read

9:09 AM on 02.20.2013

My PlayStation Memories | Good Ones

With the expected announcement Sony's making tonight of the PS4, a hashtag started going around Twitter called "PlayStationMemories", which people have been used to share their fondest times with Sony's consoles.

Lemme tell you about mine.

I never owned a Sony console until around 2006, but I did experience the PS1 for the first time back in 1999. I was at Francisco place when he showed me some of the games he had there. I played Croc 2, Ape Escape, and Chocobo Racing.

Here's a fun fact! Chocobo Racing is technically the first Final Fantasy game I ever played in my life. The second one was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The third one was Crystal Chronicles. But I digress.

Those three games, along with Mega Man X4, where my first taste of Play Statiion games. I, admittedly, was a little Nintendo fanboy, so finding compelling games in other consoles was interesting for me. Yes, I'm calling Croc 2 and Chocobo Racing compelling, shut up.

Anyways, I played some other games on friend's houses every now and then. Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, and Mega Man Legends come to mind. But it wasn't until 2006 that I owned my first Sony console, a Play Station 2. From there I got a bunch of, yarr, BOOTLEG copies of God Hand, Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, and Metal Gear Solid 3 and, by God, I was completely compelled by all these games. So many new and interesting experiences I didn't get to experience on a Nintendo console! (Well, except for Okami. That's a great Zelda game.)

I kept enjoying great games there until 2010, when I first got a Play Station 3, along with a copy of Brutal Legend, Borderlands, Uncharted. But what most surprised me was in February of 2010 when I bought Braid; my first digital download game ever. When I finished it, I realized the potential of shorter, richer experiences in a video game that can truly pull an emotional response from me.

And that's when I started seeing the AAA Industry as maybe not the best thing ever. That a new market was opening up. One with more career opportunities and more interesting games. From there on, I've been enjoying great games on my Play Station console, and I'm overall happy I purchased a PS3 in the end. It has helped me shape the way I analyze, think, and develop my critical thinking and Game Art ideas. Here's to a new generation of Sony consoles, and may it bode well for the company.

Later today, I'll post my bad memories with Sony consoles.   read

8:13 PM on 08.29.2012

Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D

Weíve heard them all this far. Yes, it has a pretentious subtitle, yes this is a filler story still building up to the third main iteration, yes itís on a portable console and, yes, just give the fans Kingdom Hearts III already. Yet here we are with Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, a full-fledged title on the Nintendo 3DS. When I turned on the game for the first time, the logo celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series was the first thing to greet me, bringing back memories of the time Iíve spent with the series. Some of those memories I remember fondly, and others bring horrible headaches triggered by the heart-shaped brain tumor the games have left on my brain.

It is amazing how Dream Drop Distance manages to tickle both of those memories at the same time. For better or worse.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance // Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: July 31st, 2012
Published by: Square Enix Ltd.
Developed by: Square Enix Ltd.
Retails for: $39.99 MSRP

The events Dream Drop Distance take place after Kingdom Hearts II and the mobile entry Coded. A great evil is looming, and preparations to counter it are being made. One of such is the examination of Sora and Riku, Keyblade wielders and the main protagonists of the game. Their abilities are put to the test in the form of the Mark of Mastery exam, a series of trials that, if passed, grants one the title of True Keyblade Master. Sora and Riku are then sent to the Dream Worlds, where they are to unlock the Sleeping Keyholes from each land inspired by Disney characters and stories.

In Kingdom Hearts fashion, the story has various themes of friendship and love thrown here and there. Itís a tale that at moments feels like it has been told quite a few times already. If youíre not caught up on your KH lore, which is already quite the feat, keeping up with the references and nods to all the other games might sour the experience for you. The game fills you in with extensive lore entries of past games as you progress through the 25 hours it will take you to complete the story. If you want to comprehend what is going on, these entries are required reading material, making story bits occasionally feel like theyíre just some sort of test in order to see if youíve done your school reading, or played the other games. The story throws some interesting twists which, admittedly, do make the plot more interesting, but only at the expense of making it even more unnecessarily complicated and set things up for Kingdom Hearts III.

The way Disney characters are presented is the moments where the gameís complex narrative stands out, bringing new worlds to the table like La Citť des Cloches, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This is done thanks to surprisingly good voice acting and cutscene direction, since most of the Disney talent has been recruited for the in-game voices. Curiously enough, no Final Fantasy characters are present in this game, which are instead compensated with the main cast of The World Ends with You, Tetsuya Nomuraís other creation.

In Dream Drop Distance, you alternate playing as both Sora and Riku, as they explore the worlds separately. To encourage switching between both characters, KH3D has a new Ďdropí system. Players now count with a Drop Gauge, which slowly depletes as you play the game, and your items and actions in combat can change the speed in which the Drop Gauge depletes. Once the gauge reaches zero, you enter a sleep state and the game changes characters for you. You collect Drop Points (or DP) which you can use to purchase temporary bonuses and perks for the next character once the change occurs. Itís a nice addition, and it allows for the player to feel like the change not only occurs to advance the plot, but also for improving combat skills with both characters. Plus, you also have the option to Ďdropí anytime and change characters.

Kingdom Hearts 3D also features a revamped hack ní slash combat system. Aside from the Command Deck the series has always used in order to cycle through your different actions and magic during combat, the two biggest integrations are Flowmotion and Reality Shift. Flowmotion is triggered by using the dash/roll button against certain objects or walls. The player is able to then move quicker throughout the game field, and jump from enemy to enemy much faster, not to mention also attacking in different ways other than hacking away with your weapon.

The other addition, Reality Shift, triggers with the Touch Screen or by pressing A and X together once the prompt appears, which is usually when you deal lots of damage to the enemy or the enemy is low on health. Once activated, players enter a sort of micro-game which is played with the Touch Screen. These micro-games vary according to the world in which youíre playing and can allow for the player to deal damage to enemies in a designated area. This works surprising well during combat, freshing up things and making it more interesting, while making boss battles feel flashier, since using Reality Shift on them triggers cool action sequences. While these two are great additions, Flowmotion is better used in open spaces. When in tight corridors and surrounded by enemies, you might want to roll or dash out of harmís way and end up unintentionally triggering Flowmotion; a problem that can end in a frustrating death quite a few times.

Players wonít be fighting their battles alone, since youíre now able to create your own party in Dream Drop Distance. As you fight Dream Eaters, this gameís version of Heartless and Nobodies, you collect different ingredients, which are used for creating Spirits; good hearted versions of Dream Eaters. You can set up to two of them to accompany you in battle, with one extra Spirit to switch on the fly with the others. Each Spirit has its own Link Ability path, which acts like a Skill Tree, and players use Link Points acquired during battle to unlock magic, attack skills, and passive abilities not only for the Spirits, but also for Sora and Riku. Link Points can also be obtained by feeding your Spirits treats, playing mini-games with them, and petting them in the gameís AR Mode. Itís great to see more customization in your party, since Goofy and Donald in other games did their own thing, but these abilities for your Spirits can become difficult to control. The partner AI can be very dumb at times, as Spirits will occasionally charge head on to enemies repeatedly when they are blocking, using a type of magic that has little effect against them, and not using healing magic on other party members when needed. Itís certainly a downgrade since the days of trustworthy partners Goofy and Donald.

When you enter a new world, a minigame in which you Ďdiveí into the world appears. The game turns into an on-rails shooter with different objectives. This can vary from gathering a certain amount of points before arriving to the world, to defeating a certain number of enemies, to defeating a larger Dream Eater. These parts are straight forward and simple to play, if not also enjoyable, and do not feel pointless like the building of ships in other Kingdom Hearts games.

As you progress through your travels in KH3D, you will do so in a semi-linear fashion. Players get from one point of the level to the next while eliminating Dream Eaters along the way in order to reach the next cutscene and, eventually, a boss battle. These creatures vary in scale and difficulty, but battling against them is always fun, rewarding, and implement mechanics of the game in ways that make the battle more entertaining. Often, the levels include different events that are tailored according to the story of the Disney world youíre visiting, such as protecting a cart, taking part in a lightcycle battle, etc. There is a small room for exploring in each level of the game, which is rewarded with the finding of treasures chests containing items, rare ingredients to create more powerful Spirits, extra commands, etc.

The areas often feature basic puzzle solving, platforming, and the discovery of hidden objects through Reality Shift attacks. Platforming has always been present in Kingdom Hearts games but it feels obsolete in Dream Drop Distance, since the Flowmotion lets you jump higher and move faster, making platforming feel more like a hassle than fun. When taking a break from the action in save points, a Moogle Shop is always nearby, where you can buy and sell skills, magic, Spirit ingredients, and assorted items. Almost every item found in the shop is also attainable through hunting of treasure chests so, if youíre feeling like not looking for them or want to get the better spells you missed, the shop is a good alternative to get these. Know that money comes in lesser quantities, so itís also more difficult to purchase expensive items.

The game also features some Street Pass functionality. While exploring the world, youíll bump into Link Portals, which allows you to undertake small challenges to be completed while battling a set number of enemies. Some of these include not getting hit as much, perform a certain number of counter-attacks, and defeat enemies using only Flowmotion attacks. Some Link Portals can also aid you by borrowing Spirits from someone else. Players are also able to customize their own Link Portals with challenges or Spirits which they can send to other players through Streetpass.

If there is a thing I can genuinely praise about KH3D, itís the presentation. The game is certainly a beauty to look at, and the vibrant display of colors in the character models and inventive environments alike is greatly enhanced by the 3D Effect. The cutscenes are rendered in real-time, boasting quality lip synching and animation. Orchestral pieces by series composer Yoko Shimomura greatly boost the tense action during battles. For Dream Drop Distance, Square Enix made sure to squish out ever last ounce of graphical power out of the 3DS and it shows.

Itís a shame that, from the moment you start the game, it seems like youíre going to also have to deal with some frame rate issues at times; particularly in battles. During fights, frame rate can drop at horribly low points when there are too many enemies on display, and visual effects from attacks certainly do not help the frame rate either. At moments, just having the 3D on can slightly affect the frame rate. These technical issues, luckily, donít appear as much, and if overlooked, you will be able to appreciate the visuals of the game more for what they can achieve from the 3DSí hardware.

Dream Drop Distance may not be the Kingdom Hearts III everyone is waiting for, but itís certainly an entry that does try to bring new elements to the table. The revamped combat with new forms of movement and attacks make the traditional hack ní slash feel fresh, agile, and an overall step in the right direction. The new worlds, characters, and quality cutscenes wash away that lackluster feeling that some portable entries had, and KH3D manages to feel like youíre finally progressing in the adventures of Sora and Riku. That being said, itís already too much work to try to keep up with the complex story. KH fans will dig in this game without a doubt, since it leads to the events of the impending KHIII. But if youíre looking to have a good time with a hack ní slash, be prepared to deal with frustrating partner AI, a couple of unfair deaths due to inconsistent level design, frame rate drops, and listening to characters speak the words Ďheartí, Ďlightí, and Ďdarknessí more than ever before.

All that being said, Iím just thankful this game is not 358/2 Days.

Score: 6/10   read

3:16 PM on 04.28.2012

Plugged In! A video game music-based online radio show!

Are you tired of all that mainstream music (totally not hipster) pumping loud on the radio stations? Are you one of those people who was shunned at high school and college for listening to video game music because "it's not real music"? Do you enjoy remixes of your favorite Mega Man tunes and the occasional chiptune tracks?

If you answered 'yes' to any of those questions, and really if you're on this site, chances are you did, then have I got the radio show for you! Join me and AV Cable (Alex) in "Plugged In!", an online radio show that is streamed live on a weekly basis. Tune in to listen to your favorite video game tunes! From Super Mario to God Hand, to Sword of Mana and Shadow of the Colossus! We play chiptunes, orchestrated pieces, 16-bit, 64-bit, remixes, arrangements, absolutely anything that was ever on a videogame or that is inspired by it!

To tune in, just go to at 6PM EST, when the show starts, and click on "Listen Now!" It's just that easy!

And hey, since we're such nice folks, we even allow listeners to make requests! Just go to our Facebook Page, my Twitter @luisill, or even call live our request line (which is available at, and you can be sure that we'll take your requests!

I've loved the Destructoid Community for years now, and I'm more than happy to share this with you guys. I hope I at least convinced some of you to tune in!

Remember, tune in through at 6PM EST. It's gonna be awesome!   read

2:33 AM on 04.25.2012

Hey Rocksteady, I fixed your Box Art for Arkham City: GOTY!

Is this any better?   read

2:27 PM on 04.16.2012

Puzzle Game Analysis: Stacking

[As a Game Design student from the Savannah College of Art and Design, one of my assignments this week was to write a 600 word analysis of a puzzle game with a focus on it's puzzle mechanics and how well they work. The game I picked was Stacking. I hope you enjoy this reading!]

Double Fine attempts to introduce a whole new generation of players to the wonders of adventure games, but with one core difference: unlike the old adventure games, Stacking presents a variety of different solutions to each puzzle. More than that, the puzzles are introduced with ingenious core gameplay that, not only eliminates cumbersome user interfaces of old adventure games, but also makes Stacking a game that anyone can pick up and instantly start playing.

And falling in love with.

Stacking puts players in the shoes of Charlie Blackmore, a tiny matryoshka doll living in the industrial age of the 1930ís, whose family is kidnapped by an industrialist named ĎThe Baroní, and forced to work in order to pay their debts. Charlie then sets out to stop The Baron, rescue his family, and put a halt on child labor for good.

Everything in the game revolves around the concept of matryoshka dolls; from the artstyle and animations, to the puzzles and challenges Stacking presents; the last two being the gameís biggest strength. In order to progress, the player has to solve different puzzles through the grouping of other dolls located around the game world. Russian Dolls with Ďspecial talentsí act as verbs from old adventure games, and the proper organization and use of each will help you solve the challenges. Lateral thinking and some perplexing logic will put the playerís wits to the test as they unlock doors, seduce their way into restricted areas and, in traditional Double Fine humor, fart on crowded areas.

The puzzles vary in complexity and, while none makes players want to pull their hair out, they present a satisfying level of gratification and achievement. Stacking test logic and the way players perform different actions in very quirky situations, but some puzzles are also mixed up with unusual uses of conventional objects, sequence puzzles which require performing certain actions in a certain order, and occasionally fixing some sort of small contraption or machinery. These puzzles and their clues are fluently delivered to the player through small idle chat, by some NPCs in Stacking. There is a hint system available, but I find it far too generous and it pretty much gives the player the answer to a puzzle straight forward. Fortunately, itís a completely optional feature.

Stacking can easily be called a short game, but thatís only if players breeze through the puzzles. The fun in the game is the fact that every single puzzle has more than one solution. Or two. Or even three or more. Each puzzle features a non-difficult, but still fun way to solve, before challenging the player to find other alternate solution to it; doing so feels even more satisfying. Other than the main puzzles, Stacking also features different challenges and ďhi-jinksĒ that can extend the length of the game. While the hi-jinks do present themselves as padding, itís the extra challenges that really enrich the value of the game, highlighting Double Fineís ingenious puzzle-crafting and wacky humor.

At its best, Stacking is a love letter to adventure games of the 90ís, and I say that as a good thing. Itís good to see that Double Fine was finally able to create that ďmodernĒ adventure game they have always wanted, while cleverly disguising all the elements of old adventure games that modern players shun thanks to a fresh coat of paint. Clever and wacky puzzle design, charming delivery of narrative and the concept of building every aspect of the game around Russian dolls makes Stacking an unforgettable experience.


ABOUT THE WRITER: Luis studies Game Design and Development at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Other than video games, he enjoys music, voice acting, and many other arts. One of this strong points it's his 3D Art, which you can see (and maybe hire *wink* *whink*) on his portfolio website:   read

4:42 PM on 11.25.2011

I killed Dale North in Super Mario 3D Land. Whoops.

And so he did. Sorry Dale XD   read

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