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9:02 PM on 10.14.2009  

Beneath the Pixels: Wind Waker Part One

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Welcome to the first ever Beneath the Pixels. If you don't already know what this blog is about you don't have to worry. I've got you covered.

Beneath the Pixels is a new monthly blog series in which 3 people play a game up to a specified point and discuss their experience. The fun isn't limited to just us three, though. Community members are encouraged to play along and move the discussion from the community blog and into the comments.

Those of you that are already aware of this are probably ready to agree with or disapprovingly yell at one of us. Let's get things rolling.


vexed alex

This is big for me. This is the first Zelda I've been excited to play since Ocarina of Time, and so far things are going great.

I was a bit surprised by the game's prologue. I still can't believe they're trying to tie these stories together. I was always under the impression that the only ones concerned with any of that nonsense were the crazy members of Zelda's fan club. I almost wish that it wasn't called Zelda so that they could drop the baggage, though that may change as I continue playing.

I was a bit of confused once I began playing it. I'm so used to having third person games require you to control the camera and this one feels like the designers didn't think it was so important. That's most evident when you try to switch your controls to non-inverted because I couldn't find that option.

I did do a tiny bit of research on Wind Waker after I finished playing through Dragon Roost. I noticed that the game's new visual style did come with its fair share of complainers from both the fans and the critics. I honestly can't understand the literal outrage. As far as I'm concerned this is one of the most gorgeous games I have ever played, and I always thought it was beautiful before we started this series.

Most last generation games look so awful on my sixty-five inch screen (bragging) even if they have an option to run it in HD. I'm playing this in 480i and that didn't cross my mind until I began looking back at my play-through. Wind Waker is just perpetually charming to me. Whether it's through the cel shading, the way Link cutely tip-toes around thin ledges, or seeing his tiny feet under the cover of a wooden barrel, I was smiling throughout.


Jonathan Ross

One of the draws for Zelda fans, if I remember correctly, was that this was the first Zelda that was explicitly linked to any of the others. People had been making ridiculous theories and timelines for years, but I think the official Nintendo stance is that all the other Zeldas are totally unrelated (although *Phantom Hourglass* is a sequel to *Wind Waker*).

I had the exact same problem with the camera this go around, which is funny because I don't think I had it the first time I played it. It's super frustrating though -- three hours in and I still mess up the direction I want the camera to go EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

The other thing that stood out to me is how Mii-like everyone in the game is. A lot of the facial expressions and eyes in the game you can put on your Mii, and its weird to me. I used to really like the art style, and I guess I still do, but I keep thinking of the characters as Miis and that bothers me.

The other thing that playing through this has reminded me is that, while I like Zelda, every single Zelda from *Ocarina* onward is pretty much exactly the same. I think it's a reason I love the Gameboy Zeldas so much -- I think the game works much better in 2D than 3D. I hold a pretty unpopular opinion in that *Ocarina* and *Majora's Mask* are my least favorite Zelda games, so a lot of the later games just feel like more of the same. That said, I do on the whole enjoy *Wind Waker*, but I feel like it could have been so much more.

One of the things I do really like about *Wind Waker* is that there's a lot of humor in the game -- both kind of physical slapsticky humor and some really clever dialogue. It really gives the game personality, and I think fits well with the game's art style. The art is kind of whimsical and lighthearted, and the tone of the game is as well. I wish more recent Zelda games were like that, but as we've seen with *Twilight Princess* they're trying to make Zelda serious again, and I don't think they're doing that great of a job. (Ooh, save the world from something scary? That's the plot of EVERY Zelda game. Making Link a teenager and putting in a lot of broken scenery doesn't make your game 'dark'.)


Ryu89

So from a point of someone who has played this game before, I can honestly say the controls have never been a problem for me. Probably cause I play enough games that I'm used to bad cameras.

I'm more interested in the dynamic behind Link's relatives. Link lives on Outset Island, with his grandma and his sister Aryll. I think what's particularly interesting about Wind Waker as a whole is that it's one of the few games where link has a direct relative. I think what makes Wind Waker better than most Zelda games is Link actually having a legitimate reason to have people say to him, "hey go here, do this, don't think about it" because he wants to save his sister.

Other than showing that, Outset island is kind of boring. You talk to generic old guy who teaches you sword play, meet Tetra who at this point is just sort of uninteresting. The only other noteworthy thing is the interaction between Link and his grandma when she gives him the shield. It pulls at my heartstrings every time I play.


Jonathan Ross

I see the relative angle as kind of a cop-out. They barely establish any kind of relationship between Link and his grandmother/sister, and before you know it OH NO SHE'S KIDNAPPED GO RESCUE HER. I actually can't remember if they get into it later in the game, but at this point it just seems like they needed a reason for Link to leave the island and went with the standard cliche; 'rescue your family member!' thing. Seriously, what kind of grandmother would let a 12 year old (I think that's how old he's supposed to be) leave an island to hunt down a giant bird monster with a group of crazy pirates no one has ever met because he's playing dressup for a day, and has had 3 minutes of sword training after never having fought before. WTF?


vexed alex

I'm totally with you on the humor aspect of Wind Waker, Jonathan. One of the first things I noticed when I started playing were the children in Outset Island. If you get within certain proximity of them they'll start to follow you around and will bump into if you stop moving, including this snot nosed kid. If you pay enough attention to him you can see that he tries sucking the mucus in.

I do also lean more to what you're saying about Link's "link"; (pun intended) between him and his relatives, Ross. Though the scene between Link and his Grandmother as the Pirate ship leaves the island was indeed sad, there really wasn't any buildup to establish the relationship. The only thing we had to go by were their admittedly adorable family pictures spread around the house and conversations between them. It was still a welcomed surprise for a Zelda game, but it was kinda sloppily done.

And from what I've played so far Tetra is kind of a douche bag, but so not mean enough to be a real pirate.


Jonathan Ross

I'm not saying he doesn't have a relationship, he obviously does, since she's his sister. My problem with it is that they just jam it in your face. LINK. SISTER. TAKEN. HE'S SAD. GO. The facial expressions kind of make it worse, since they're so exaggerated. GIANT SURPRISE FACE SHE GOT TAKEN BY A BIRD. ANGRY DETERMINED FACE BECAUSE I'M GOING TO RESCUE HER. It really doesn't do much for me -- I would have liked to have seen SOME interaction between them besides "Happy birthday your present is a telescope you get to borrow for one day." How touching.


Ryu89

I don't think it's that way at all. I think facial expressions are really important, and if you pay attention to his face they REALLY wanted to show that he DOES have a relationship, implied or otherwise. I think the catapult scene shows it the best when right before they fire him off he has this disgruntled look on his face that just says to me "I don't like this, but it's for Aryll".

Maybe I'm reading into it too much though. Speaking of the Forsaken Fortress, I want to know when game developers will learn that forced stealth sections are NEVER fun. A lot of people say that twilight princess takes forever to get off the ground, but I think Wind Waker feels longer because of this area. They end up doing something with it later... but at this point in the game, its just really annoying to bother with.


vexed alex

Normally I'd agree with you on stealth, but I only really had two problems with it. The first one were the rats. One of them ran up to me and knocked my barrel off without warning causing me to get spotted. I was still wrestling with the camera at this point too, and that inadvertently landed me in jail as I'd fuck up a jump or get spotted by the lights. Oh, and again, seeing Link's tiny feet under the barrels is really damn adorable. That‘s probably why I‘m no as harsh on it.

However, I was mildly upset by the fact that Ganon is in yet another Zelda. For a game that took risks with its art style, I'm bummed that they were too cowardly to bring something knew with the main antagonist. Though, I guess this also stems from me not liking that this game brings the baggage of previous Zelda games like I mentioned before.


Ryu89

The worst part about Ganon is this game is that they obscure his face at first, as if to say OH MAN I WONDER WHO CAN THIS BE NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK, when it's totally obvious. The more I think about it, the less I think that the Forsaken Fortress is actually a badly designed area, it's just so dull and boring to get through I hate playing through it.


Jonathan Ross

Ganon is pretty much a staple of the series, at least for the console games -- the handhelds are a bit more loose with introducing new antagonists. Majora's Mask I think is the only console one he didn't appear in. Given that Nintendo's plan for Zelda tends to focus on repeating the main themes, he'll be showing up for a while. I still don't have any major ill will against Zelda, but being risky is NOT what the series is known for.

I got frustrated with Forsaken Fortress, and mostly because of camera issues. Technically they were my fault -- I don't think there was any time I got caught where it was 'unfair', but it sure would have been a hell of a lot easier if the camera didn't suck so much. I think I got sent back to the jail about 6 times, and I was over it by the second one. I like stealth games, but I don't think stealth needs to be a part of every game.

Random aside from Dragon Roost -- I always think it's hilarious that a little spider can bump into my leg and take away half a heart, but if I jump off a bridge that's 100ft up into a giant pool of molten lava I just singe my butt and lose 1/4th. Not that the game would be fun if falling into the lava was instant death, but I always found that amusing.


Ryu89

So after the forsaken fortress you come to Windfall Island. A lot happens here, but all of it is secondary to the main game. I'll cover some stuff that's awesome even if you might not have seen it. The dude that you play battleship against is the best Zelda character ever. SPLOOOOSH. The camera guy is neat also. Fuck Tingle. Eskimo guy gives you a sail and then you can actually get into the real game.

Dragon roost is an interesting dungeon because back in the day, when people were still unsure about Wind Waker with the art change, you got to about halfway through this dungeon and it just clicked that YES this is still a freaking Zelda game and it's awesome. The dungeons highlights for me included throw pots of water into lava to make land bridges, the grappling hook is awesome, and the boss is interesting like any other Zelda game. Not sure what else to say about it content wise.


vexed alex

You forgot to mention Wind Waker's version of Falcor; King of the Red Lions!

I think you met a lot more people in Windfall than I did. I don't recall a camera guy, however I do agree that the guy running the Battleship game is hysterical. His faux-celebration after you beat the game is amusing.

I don't know how you guys feel about sailing, but so far it's very uneventful. Hopefully that will pick up. The seagulls flying with you as you're sailing was a nice touch, though.

I too felt that Dragoon Roost clicked right away. I had many "AH-HAH" moments. I don't know if your experience changes if you've played the game and have some memory of the puzzles, but I thought that they were excellently done. They weren't really difficult, though I don't know if Zelda puzzles ever are. They weren't so easy that I had my intelligence insulted, so that's a plus.

I don't know how I feel about the boss fight. I hate going back to this, but if it wasn't for the camera the battle would have been so much more easier to get through. It made it artificially difficult, which in turn made it slightly frustrating when I died. It was the targeting system that annoyed me mostly. I don't know if I was doing anything wrong, but it just wouldn't stay in place. It would slowly trail off as I circled around the monster.


Jonathan Ross

For some reason I have bad memories of Windfall from when I first played the game, but I have no idea why I didn't like it, and probably didn't have a good reason. That said, on this play through I walked in, got the sail, and left. The towns have always been some of my least favorite parts of Zelda games, even though I normally like them in RPGs. I think Zelda to me is more about dungeoning and stabbing things.

Dragon Roost I'm a fan of. As previously mentioned, I thought the water jug puzzles were really clever. I actually got briefly stumped when I ran into the boss, because I thought I remembered what to do. It turns out I did, but the very first time I moved my grappling hook aim over his tail, it didn't turn into the grapple sign, so I thought i was doing it wrong. (Turns out I was just out of range.) Luckily, there are always tons of hearts in the boss room so it wasn't a big deal and I beat him kind of quickly.

That actually is one of the things I like a lot about Zelda. Typically, the bosses tend to be really easy, but only once you figure out what their trick is. Sure, some of the bosses are really obvious and lame, but there are some pretty awesome boss encounters throughout Zelda. Sure, it's not great for replayability, but I like that kind of design. I could see how others wouldn't though.

Overall I think it's one of the better first dungeons in a Zelda game (I'm not counting Fortress in that). I think a lot of times in Zeldas the first dungeon is just a total cakewalk. I think this does a good job of introducing you to dungeoneering concepts while not being too simple. There are a few things you have to think about in order to proceed.

I still have my lava question :)


vexed alex

I'm going to be Tactix and say that It's hard to get burned when you've got a hot ass.


Ryu89

Before we move on to the conclusion I want to know what you guys think of Medli, or the Rito tribe in general. I personally think they're the second coolest race to be in a Zelda game, second to gorons. The character of Medli is interesting, I think you could really tell that Wind Waker was alot of trial and error for Miyamoto and the dev team to make better developed characters, which I personally feel can be seen realized in Twilight Princess. In ocarina of time, I didn't really care about alot of the side characters; they were really boring to me.

Everyone in Wind Waker is interesting and well thought out, except for maybe effing TINGLE. I feel like this added to its charm and character, which really benefitted the game in the end. Any thoughts on this?


vexed alex

I actually like Tingle even if it seems like he's worthless if you don't have the stupid Game Boy Advance connector.

I had a very tough time trying to figure out what the hell the Rito were. I originally assumed they were just people in bird costumes. I think it was their beaks not actually being beaks that threw me off.

I can't really say much about how I feel of Medli specifically because she's on screen for very little. She at least isn't a cunt like Tetra, nor does she have a ridiculously designed ship. The character design for the Rito Tribe is really cool.

Komali was cute despite his cowardliness.


Ryu89

So overall I'd say this is probably my least favorite chunk of the game... other than something else. We'll get to that in a few weeks. While dragon roost is a pretty enjoyable dungeon, later dungeons are much better. The tutorial section is bland and uninteresting save for what I think is interesting characters, and I hate forced stealth sections, especially when its the beginning of the freaking game. Any other thoughts about the game so far overall?


vexed alex

I came in excited to play Wind Waker for the first time, and I still feel the same now. Not very many games manage to effectively turn me on to a series that I've lost interest in. Although Outset Island could have had some more polish and better characterization, the game really began to sink its teeth into me by the middle of Forbidden Fortress.

This is despite all of the negativity -- camera controls included. I don't want it to seem like I thought they broke the game. They were a minor annoyance that sometimes got in the way, but they weren't Too Human bad. I could deal.

Also, Tetra's ship stupid. Build a bridge and use that space for cargo, whore!


Jonathan Ross

I feel like I have a slightly negative view towards *Wind Waker*, and I'm not entirely sure why. I LOVED it when it came out. I think it might just be a disillusionment with the series in general. Even then though, I think *Wind Waker* is a solid game, and the best console Zelda since *Link to the Past*. It may be as we play on I'll remember why I liked it a bit more.

I just want a new, GOOD handheld Zelda, and not this *Phantom Hourglass* bullshit :(

_____________________________________


This brings the first of our three part Wind Waker discussion to a close. If you didn't play a long there is still time. Playing on through from beginning to Dragon Roost will probably take you around 3 hour (give or take an hour). You can still catch up!

We're starting part two immediately. We're stopping right after you beat both Temple of Wind and Temple of Shadow. This section will be a bit longer to complete than our first, but there are no rules as to which of the two temples you have to do first. It's all up to you.

We will be posting part two October 24th, and part three will end Wind Waker the night before Halloween. I hope.

I'd like to thank Ryu89 and Jonathan again for helping out, and to any community members that have contributed in any way (this includes playing along).   read


11:47 PM on 10.08.2009  

Gran Turismo PSP: My Two Cents

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Eight hundred cars, thirty-five tracks, and some of the most breath taking graphics the PSP has ever seen running at a consistent sixty frames per second -- it really did sound like an instant winner. That was the truth until the Polyphony began trickling down more information. You get no career mode, no performance upgrades, no visual upgrades, only three other cars are allowed to race against you, and youíre only allowed to tune a total of thirty vehicles. Total downer, right?

I donít really understand what came over me. I convinced myself that the game was not worth it if I wasnít going to get half of what made me fall in love with Gran Turismo 2. I went ahead and bought it despite myself, and Iíve come bearing good news. Itís the best racing game Iíve played on the PSP, or any handheld device, and this isnít hyperbole.

The cars look incredible, and Polyphony has surprisingly managed to make them feel distinct. Though it isnít the best simulation (it is better than ShiftĎs), you can tell when youíre driving an all-wheel drive vehicle versus a rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive car.

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Itís unfortunate that the only way to play this game is digitally. You can try using the analogue stick, but itís more trouble than it is useful. My difficulty comes from being used to having precise throttle, braking, and steering control on an XBOX 360 controller, and to a lesser extent on the PS3 controller. The throttle and braking control in Gran Turismo PSP is either off or on. Itís not good when youíre trying to slowly and smoothly brake into a turn, or ease out of a corner for that matter. Your driving becomes aggressive all the time as a result.

The way you buy cars is a bit unusual, but I believe it works incredibly well as motivation to keep you racing and possibly even trading cars. Youíre only allowed to choose from four car manufacturers all with a limited number of cars. The cars change between each racing day and each day seems to last around 2 races. I imagine it may suck for some of you, but I thought it gave the game some nice pacing to battle against the lack of any career mode.

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On the one hand, Iím glad I can grab any car I want and race in any track I like without having to worry about any power or car type restrictions, but I do miss feeling of progression. Perhaps a hybrid of both career and ďdo it yourselfĒ would have worked better. They may have tried to do just that with the ďDriving ChallengeĒ tests, but they work more like the license tests in Gran Turismo 2. They try to incentivize you with money and unlocking custom soundtracks.

Iíd unlock the custom soundtracks feature as quickly as possible. Gran Turismo has always had a history with me of having an outstanding soundtrack. Gran Turismo PSP breaks the trend with an unbearable mix of bad techno. Fortunately you can just mute the gameís music and enjoy the sweet engine sounds if thatĎs too much work. They arenít the best, but you can tell that at least some recording was done -- a rarity for a PSP racing game, and something thatĎs very important to me and perhaps most car enthusiasts.

If youíre planning on getting a few buddies together for a few races youíre out of luck if neither of you are in the same room. Apparently Polyphony are afraid of the internet and have made sure that it doesnĎt hurt you by excluding it from another Gran Turismo release. Thanks, guys.

Gran Turismo PSP could have been miles better, but as it stands it is a very competent racer. I went from completely hating it to loving it. Iím not afraid to say that I was relentlessly cruel to it. Ignore all of that old drivel. Gran Turismo was forty dollars well spent.   read


3:41 PM on 10.05.2009  

Beneath the Pixels (Game Club) Announcement Post: Wind Waker

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After a week long delay, Beneath the Pixels (recently renamed from Game Club) is now set to go. Iíve got the details ready for all of you lovely people to participate. Though, Iím not going to pretend I know what Iím doing. No pretenses here. This could be a complete failure, but hopefully youíre curious enough about it to participate. This way we can all fail as a group if things go completely bad!

Iíve decided with the help of a few community members that the game to break the ice will be The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker. It certainly isnít a particularly short game like I originally wanted, but it was something I have been wanting to play for a long time.

Since I havenít played it, my two partners in crime did and have been able to help with finding a spot to stop. Ryu89 has decided that stopping right after ďDragon Roost CavernĒ would be appropriate, so look out for that. We will. I donít mind if you play on ahead, but you wonít be able to discuss anything outside of our stopping location on the post.

I realize that not all gamers play alike, but I doubt any of us are going to try to 100% the game. You might if you have time, but weíre going to be strolling through it casually. Thatís going to be a lot of the fun, though. Itís seeing how differently other people play the game. That goes for difficulty and which platform you decide to play any particular game on.

Weíre splitting the Wind Waker discussion into three parts. We should be done with Wind Waker by the end of October. Plans for the next one have not been fully thought out, but we have decided on possibly having the next game selection go up as a vote. Iíll have a list of about 3 or 5 games and whatever wins will be the next topic. Again, all of us depends on mine and your motivation to keep this thing alive. Iím a simple man, though. A small group of fans will more than likely be enough to keep me at it.

I should reiterate what Beneath the Pixels is really about to avoid confusion. Weíre not going to review a game. This isnít a buyerís guide. This is us playing a game for a set period and having a quasi-educated discussion about it.

Weíll have 3 main community members -- one of which will be me -- discussing on the blog, and Iím hoping that we will have discussion bleeding into the comments. This will only work with community participation, so I hope many of you have a copy of Wind Waker and a Wii/Gamecube laying around to follow us with.

So thatís it! Look out for the first real BtP blog next Wednesday where weíll end the first part and start the second one. That will also be your chance to discuss your experience with the game in that blogís comment.

The three of us discussing this month's game are Jonathan Ross, Ryu89, and me.

Special thanks to Ryu89 for the new name and the idea of leaving the game choices go to a vote.

---------------

Got any game suggestions? Want to be a part of the blogís main discussion? E-mail me with the subject line ďGame SuggestionĒ or ďI want inÖĒ for the latter. If you want to be part of the three amigos, please leave your Destructoid username and the best way to contact you electronically.   read


2:07 PM on 09.21.2009  

NEW BLOG SERIES IDEA! NEED SUGGESTIONS! COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION A MUST!

That title reads like a Craigslist ad. Don't worry. I'm not selling sex.

This idea has been floating around in my head for quite sometime. See, RebelFM does a podcast weekly called ďGame ClubĒ. They pick an older (preferably cheaper) game, play up to a point, discuss it, and itís rinse and repeat for about 1 or 2 more episodes. I wanted to try something like that, but scaled down a bit for the community blogs.

Instead of the usual 4 or sometimes even 5 man roundtable discussion I wanted to bring it down to 3 people. Anymore and I think weíd have for too much text in one blog. However, it would be amazing if the people who are not in the weekís discussion would play along with us. Hopefully this will lead to very nice discussion in the comments.

Now let me make this clear. We will not be reviewing the game. And by that I mean that this shouldnít be used as a buyerís guide. We will be free to discuss any spoilers up until the part in which we decide to stop playing for that section. The blog will be cut up into however many times we may need (max will probably be 3).

I know itís nearing holiday season. Games are being released and weíre all becoming overwhelmed. Some of us canít afford to play an older game whether it be because youíre broke or you just donít have time to play. Iíll try to make this first one as easy as possible.

Weíll have to pick a short game. We donít want to spend too much time on what could be a failure. Though. if it does indeed become a failure hits wise but it ends up being fun for the writers thereís no reason why we canít continue doing it. It will still be better to test the waters with a much shorter game. Iím thinking maybe 6 hours tops. We can then figure out what changes we need to make -- what worked and what didnít.

So any suggestions? Know of any short games we can play? Leave a comment.

If you want to be a part of this little experiment, drop me an e-mail at alexandorator [at] gmail dot com.

Cross your fingers!

EDIT: Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'll start looking at all my options and will announce something on Monday!   read


3:33 AM on 09.17.2009  

Halo 3 ODST OST Samples: My Two Cents

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Say what you will about the Halo seriesí gameplay and story. I can understand when people tell me that they donít like it, but I will not have someone speaking negatively of the gameís music. It has been some of the most spectacularly memorable stuff Iíve heard in a long while. Halo 3 ODST hasnít changed this.

With each sequel, Bungieís audio team has always given that well known theme a slight twist. Marty OíDonnell, however, has dropped the monks in favor of a more noir jazzy theme to fit the gameĎs slightly new direction. It sounds smoother and a bit eerie at times. Though Marty hasnít given up on those grandiose compositions there is a more personal feel to the score. Itís a nice mix of ďepicĒ and ominous loneliness.

Donít believe me? Check it out for yourself. Bungie released a few samples for your listening pleasure around 3 days ago. I thought you'd enjoy them. Just please donít make a mess of things once your ears orgasm.

ODST Theme
Rain
Traffic Jam
Neon Light

Rain and Neon Light are my personal favorite of the four. Theyíre the two that encapsulate ODSTís new that noir lonely theme that Bungieís Joseph Staten has been going on about. I do really enjoy the wailing guitars in Traffic Jam, though it does feel a bit montage "let's get pumped". Not that it's a bad thing. The subtle snare drums giving way to the aggressive violins and then transitioning to the savage electric guitar -- fantastic. Is that Steve Vai again, Marty?

So, what do you think? Dig the new music?   read


4:22 AM on 09.15.2009  

Halo 3 ODST Vidoc: "Terra Incognita"

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Bonus of staying up this late is that I got to catch the newly released ODST vidoc. Yay for being a loser!

Not much that you haven't seen before, but it does give an inside look as to how ODST evolved from a small 3 hour game to a 8 to 10 hour full experience. There's quite a bit of information on the struggle of building New Mombasa with such a small team and such a small time frame.

There isn't much else other than rehashed information about the ODSTs being weaker than the Chief. It does seem like they're bringing the game back to the Combat Evolved roots, which is interesting I guess. I'm excited.

As some of you may have noticed, I am a pretty big Halo dork, and I guess this is a good place to let you all know how excited I am about the game's music. Between the Halo haters and the stupid frat boys, no one ever really talks about it, but Marty O'Donnell is quite the composer. I'd even bravely say that Halo has the best music in the first person shooter genre, and possibly some of the best video game music period (Portal's Still Alive doesn't count -- that was end credit music, so fuck you!). Across the entire series it has been consistently amazing. Check it out for yourself!

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There's also quite a bit of Rooster Teeth ODST related viral marketing going on if you aren't sick of that stuff. If you scroll all the way through the Red vs. Blue page you'll find it. They're labled "ODST. I'd also recommend you check their shorts. RT Shorts is in their videos tab -- quite good.

I think I've played Bungie PR enough. I accept Pay-Pal, Microsoft.

P.S. -- I call dibs on Sgt. Johnson, assholes.   read


5:13 AM on 09.12.2009  

The Beatles Rock Band: My Two Cents

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I never try and pretend like Iím the biggest Beatles fan. I enjoy their music quite a lot, but Iím not a raging maniac like my sister is whenever she sees Paul McCartneyís. I can understand why the band was so popular and why it has been put up on such a high pedestal, though. If you canít, then youíre an imbecile. They were pioneers.

Now, I donít know if this is just my high from recently finishing it, but if it is thatís completely irrelevant. Iíve played music games and apart from making me feel like a rock star even while Iím standing in the middle of my room in underwear, I never really got anything more from them. Understandably so since these games are designed to do that. Most party games donít really care if you get a deep emotional response. Theyíre just concerned with fun, and thatĎs great!

What Beatles Rock Band managed to do was not only make an informative tribute to the band, but they also managed to push a few extra buttons. I obviously didnít cry. Iím a man for goodness sake. Men donít cry.

No -- what Harmonix did was successfully present players this extraordinary band, and show you why it is that these four talented men are so beloved. Just think about the era that this band came from and how their music evolved. They Pop rock stars that were allowed to be experimental, and you get to witness key points through a rhythm game.

There wasnít on key design choice that made it all great, though. It was the entire package, The music, the visuals, the way the game progressed. Everything from the character models to the all the littlest of details like the studio audio playing while a song loads. The game just feels like a labor of love. It has soul. It was made passionately. It makes me glad Harmonix were the ones doing this game and not Neversoft. That would have been disastrous.

Sorry for the my blogís length and quality (or lack thereof) but I just had to say something. It isnít hyperbole when I (shockingly) say that this has been one of the greatest emotional gaming and music listening experiences of my life.

While I was jotting down my thoughts I came across Deathofthedead's blog. It's similar to mine but vastly better articulated. Go read it.   read


1:24 PM on 08.22.2009  

Would You Look At What the Mailman Delivered!

I really don't know what has come over me. I've recently gone into some retro buying frenzy. I've bought an original Gameboy, a red Gameboy Pocket, a teal Gameboy Color, a Game Gear, and blue Neo Geo Pocket Color. I've also bought games for the systems I've purchased. The Game Gear I ordered itself came with around 11 carts, and the blue Neo Geo came with Sonic Pocket Adventure and SNK vs. Capcom.

As you can see, my new obsession has remained strictly handheld and I don't know why. With the exception of the Neo Geo Pocket color (which is amazing) I don't really play with them. I guess I'm just interested in the old technology. It can't be nostalgia. Apart from the Gameboy Color, I never owned any of these other consoles.

At any rate, I got two new handhelds (plus games) added to my collection.

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I'm actually quite shocked at how heavy this thing feels considering its size. This is actually my new favorite Gameboy. It came with Sonic Advanced, but I'm about as interested in Sonic the Hedgehog as I am listening to Republicans on AM radio.

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Another Neo Geo Pokcet! I actually bought this because the first one I got wasn't in excellent condition. I mean, it isn't awful, but the small scratches were distracting.

It came with 3 games in their original boxes. They weren't sealed and nor was the the Neo Geo Pocket, but they were all in like-new conditioned with no cosmetic damage at all.   read


1:22 AM on 07.25.2009  

DSi: My Two Cents

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My DS was stolen a few days ago. Pity me right now, please.

I was originally going to replace my Lite with an identical one, but I began looking into the DSi. The initial reason I became interested in the DSi was purely superficial. I hate gloss electronics with a passion (I blame Apple), and the slightly smaller, sleeker, matte finish beckoned me

The major complaint people have is the lack of GBA support, and to be quite honest, Iím not interested in that noise. I donít mean to sound like a DSi apologist, but I never really liked or played my GBA games on my Lite. It stuck out of the console awkwardly. I also had a Micro. If I ever felt like playing a GBA game Iíd bust that out. Itís not like Iím ever in a situation away from home where I get the urge to play an older game. I never carry one around, anyway.

This thing comes fully equipped with a lot of gimmicky features. A horrible music player that doesnít support the dominant MP3 format, a silly audio recorder, and a camera that can only really compete with the one on my phone (which isnĎt really good - 2.0MP).

The upgraded firmware does come with some noticeable fixes, including the ability to update it. You can load a game when the console is on, you can change system options without having to restart the system, you can change the screenís brightness in-game, and it has WPA support. Unfortunately, WPA will not work on older games, so that really hasnít helped much. I donít think itís possible for Nintendo to fuck up online on any of their consoles anymore.

The prospect of the DSiware shop is probably the only noticeable thing, but itís riddled with shit. Calculators, cell phone caliber games, and clocks. Even the Nintendo developed games are awful. WarioWare: Snapped is one of the most atrocious unresponsive games Iíve ever played. It tries using one of the cameras on the DSi in place of buttons or a touch screen, but it does not work. My skin is brown and my wall is white, and yet it canít seem to find me. Am I going to need some bright orange Natal jumpsuits to play it?

At least I got Dr. Mario out of thisÖ

I myself am satisfied with the purchase, but you can probably tell that itís not necessarily because the console is $50 better. It could be once the store begins to find its stride, or if Nintendo decides to continue upgrading and improving the firmware. A DSi version of the Virtual Console would be exquisite.

I did appreciate the free 1,000 Nintendo points, of which IĎm sure will not entice all of you R4 owners. Even if people design a cart similar to the R4 for the DSi, the fact that Nintendo can patch the console whenever they please can be troubling. It could render your $30 thief machine useless. I donít really care, though. Buy games, you jerk offs.

So, I really paid $50 for aesthetics and $10 worth of fixes - satisfied, though!   read


7:27 PM on 07.17.2009  

ďDon't Cry Because It's Over - Smile Because It HappenedĒ

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Practically every purchase we make goes through a checklist that we subconsciously and consciously make up. We know ourselves more than anyone and buy only the things that we feel weíll like. However, thereís one thing Iíd like for all of us to remove from the aforementioned list; length. More specifically (and to avoid any sexual innuendos), length in video games.

Itís extremely narrow thinking, and sort of countermands the whole ďgames are artĒ argument. We donít even treat food like this, or at least I donít. If Iím going out to eat Iíll take a smaller, better made burger than a Big Mac at McDonaldís. If Iím going to buy a video game, Iíll take the shorter, more focused gaming experience over this forty hour grind-fest.

You associate a lengthy title with money ďwell spentĒ because youíre more clearly able to see what your hard earned dollar is going to. Unfortunately, length is a blind measurement of worth. Deciding to purchase a game based on quality requires much more thought, and so we donĎt do it despite ourselves.

I used to bring up the argument of movies and books. We donít pay attention to length in those mediums, and Iíd always get the same response that quintessentially makes my point. Iíd tell them that no one puts that type of thought into movies, and theyíd say, ďitís because movies arenít as expensive.Ē Duh!

So weíre in agreement that putting much more thought into a more expensive means of entertainment is a good thing, but your contemplation is in the wrong area. You should be paying more attention to quality if thatís the case. You forget that length and entertainment do not always mean the same thing. Transformers 2 is a great testament to that statement. Length is impartial, and its importance amongst gamers is a detriment to the mediumís evolution and acceptance.

It isnít something we should completely ignore, obviously. Itís just something we should move down our list of priorities; even below graphics (though I do think graphics are more important than most people - art style). Let us not make it a prerequisite anymore.

I haven't done a preachy blog. Thought I'd make it short.   read


1:25 AM on 07.16.2009  

Turn 10 Blog Shows Off SUVs In Forza 3

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When I first set my eyes on some of the Forza 3 leaked images, one thing caught my eye. There was an outline of a SUV on the vehicle select screen. Tonight, Turn 10ís bi-weekly announcement blog made it official. SUVs confirmed for Forza 3. That may sound like the least interesting thing in the world to some of you. Understandable even though youíre wrong.

As explained in one of my blogs, I love challenging myself in games like these. A heavy, tall vehicle is going to be new, hard, and suh-weet; especially down some winding Italian road. Itís going to be fun just seeing how theyíll be able to compete with the Ferraris and the Lamborghinis that will probably climb the leader boards within the day.

Fortunately, these arenít your typical Cadillac Escalades or Hummer H2s. American trash, if you will. These are sports luxury SUVs; bred to climb a muddy road with ease and style. We have the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, the Mercedes Ml63 AMG, the BMW X5 xDrive 4.8i, the Audi Q7 V12 TDI, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, and the Volkswagen Touraq R50. Doesnít this list make you mad, environmentalists? Your tiny green hearts must be throbbing with rage.

All the vehicles will be fully upgradeable like their sports car brethren, so you may be able to tune that X5 into one bad mother. It may even be formidable opponent to its skinnier and much more nimble sister - the BMW M3.

There may be some whiners in the house tonight. That wonít be a surprise. SUVs in a serious racing game like this seems a bit sacrilege. The great thing about it all is that Forza 3 is quickly becoming the thing Turn 10 set out to do. ItĎs a celebration of all things cars.

There are also a few other screenshots of some sports cars and luxury cars newly released today. Go check Ďem out on Forzaís website. Employ self-control. Thereís a lot of car porn on that site.   read


8:57 PM on 07.08.2009  

Earthbound - The Perspective of Someone Who Isn't Into JRPGs

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No matter how much you dislike a certain genre of games, there are just some that you must play. Itís like that for me, at least. Whether itís to contribute to an interesting conversation, or just simply expanding my gaming repertoire, games like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger are high up on my to do list. If it means diving headfirst into a particular genre I know I have little fervor for, so be it. I hate hearing about how great something is and not having an opinion on it.

The few that know me well understand that Iím not the biggest fan of Japanese role playing games, or most things that have to do with Japanese culture for that matter. Iím not totally opposed to them, but my patience wears thin. There are some prerequisites when purchasing a new JRPG for me. It must be something extraordinary, or it must have Pokťmon.

What prompted me to jump into Earthbound before any other games in the genre was the strong Western vibe. It wasnít set in a fantasy land and it wasnít set in Tokyo, or whatever irrelevant Japanese location. It oozes 80s and 90s American cinema. You know, back when a childís adventure flick meant the Goonies and not Hannah Montana.

After a few hours of play, Iím happy to announce that I like it. Itís not necessarily because Iím enamored with the battle system. On the contrary. I absolutely despise the combat system. It is overly simple and utterly monotonous. Even upon looking back at other JRPGs released during and before Earthboundís release, you canít say that it was one of the strongest. It also didnít help that the game wasnít very clear about telling me what to do. Iíd run back and forth trying to figure out what to do and having to fend off the same enemies because theyíd reset once I moved screens.

Itís interesting when I look back at all the games Iíve played. Not many have been able to pull off what this one has. As a game, Earthbound fails. The mechanics - the combat; it isnít fun, and no amount of convincing will change my mind. As a story telling platform, itís such a palatable experience.

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The closest thing I can really compare Earthbound to is Uncharted, but even thatís sort of a stretch. I didnít hate its gameplay, but it wasnít what Iíd call ďgoodĒ. My attention was kept because of the charm that the digital actors had, and such was the case with Earthbound. The world was an absolute joy to traverse. Luckily, some of the same charm that you get from walking around and interacting with things sometimes sneaks into the combat in Earthbound.

There were many things that makes everything outside of battle an absolute joy, but the most prominent part was the music. Lately Iíve opened up to the music in older games, and this oneís up there with the likes of Megaman 3 and the original Metroid soundtrack. However, it isnít just the music thatís astonishingly good. The entire audio department did a fantastic job; especially with sound effects.

Your party members walking around with you is another aspect of the game Iím quite happy with. I wish Japanese developers would do it all the time. It does so much for immersion when I donít see my characters disappear after battle, even with a game whose graphics require much more imagination.

Iím sitting at a crossroad. I canít tell you that I hate this game, because I donít. It just sits in a spot where it relies on narrative, but thatís usually there to back gameplay. Itís just not easy to be black and white with this one, and itís something I can respect.
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