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LONG BLOG

C-Blog of 01/28/13 + Wrenchisms

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It is almost irresistible to compare Samurai Gunn and Nidhogg. They are both (mostly) local multiplayer games (Nidhogg has a currently broken online mode and they both have lacklustre singleplayer options) focused on intense competition between living players. They both make use of a sparse control scheme and very simple set of rules to contain a deceptively deep fighting system. Instead of relying on complicated execution or memorization, both games boil combat down to a matter of strategy, mind games, and creativity. Both are rendered with stunning pixel art and presented with masterfully composed music.

This is something of a growing trend in recent indie titles. Divekick could be said to do much the same, boiling down the complicated fighting game genre to two simple button presses, dive and kick.



But it was loaded down in baggage. The longer Divekick spent in development, the more it seemed to stray away from it's originally streamlined design. Extra characters with highly specialized moves, super moves and meter building, stat changing gems and alternating stances. The sardonic criticism of modern fighting games, particularly Marvel vs Capcom and the first iteration of SSFIV's Arcade Edition, which saw both games dominated by a select few characters capable of landing the eponymous dive kick and going into a victory deciding combo, got lost. Instead of sticking to those fundamentals, the Divekick devs layered in more and more gags, an extensive collection of in-jokes and references to a genre and community a little too in love with itself.

The result was a confusing compromise a game designed to simplify the baffling fighting game genre ended up being just as weird and impenetrable to outsiders as any other title in the genre. Fighting game neophytes couldn't grok the Stream Monster's bizarre double jumping mechanic anymore than they could catch the reference to abysmal fans jeering at an online broadcast.



Nidhogg is pretty in love with itself too. This was a game that won the IGF awards, then spent two years quietly circulating trade shows, exposing a select group of individuals to it's peculiar style. The relatively few industry insiders and convention attendees who played it would go on to speak of it in hushed tones, like it was the VHS from The Ring. Before it was available to the public on Steam, it was hosted in a New York museum piece. Nidhogg is named after a Serpent-Dragon from Scandinavian myth. Victory in the game is rewarded by being devoured by said Serpent-Dragon to the uproarious applause of pixelated spectators.

Clearly, some art is going on here.

But none of that gets in the way of the game. There is something profound about the purity of play presented by the title. There is no fat to be found, just pure mechanics. Two buttons, four directional inputs, and a simple goal kill the other guy and run like hell to the endzone. With that simple pallet, and a few understated stage obstacles such as pits, doors, and tall dry grass, Nidhogg gracefully opens up a world of tactical choices and split-second decisions.

When you press start to begin a fight, Nidhogg just dumps the two combatants into the stage. It doesn't even bother with an extraneous "FIGHT!" declaration, or a three second countdown for players to find their feet. It drops two dudes onto the screen, swords in hand and ready to stab, almost nonchalantly, as if you say "figure it out for yourself".



Samurai Gunn cuts straight to the chase too, no baggage. The characters are all functionally identical, offering only an aesthetic preference (ninja, topknot dude, puppy Samurai). Everyone works with the same rules and mechanics. The stages play on Samurai movie and videogame cliches.

It's slick, it's well presented, but it's clean.

Do I think Divekick would have sold better without those extra characters and jokes? No. It is a fairly niche title to begin with and I doubt it would have performed better if they just stuck to Dive and Kick. Do I think it might have been a better game?

Maybe.

* - Corduroy Turtle's blogs always bring a smile to my face, but thanks to the inclusion of Krang, this one brought a smile to my heart.

* - An interesting blog about save scumming, perma-death, and the opinions in between.

* - Long John wants to see more long Johns. See what I did there?

* - You can't argue with the FACTS.

A - SpielerDad remembers when Bomberman with a multi-tap was a massive multiplayer experience.



T - Staying true to his "no new games" pledge, Better On Holliday scratches a few more names off the back log.

T - Yeesh, from what I understand, Tony Hawk was actually pretty salty that RIDE never took off. But with tales like this, what did he really expect?




Great blogs today!

-Wrenchfarm

FPotD
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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

About Cblog Recaps

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Current "Bloggers Wanted" assignment

Costume Party

When it comes to October, it's pretty easy to come up with an idea for Bloggers Wanted. Halloween presents a lot of options. People will start playing horror games and marathon scary movies, but then there's the ultimate question for the day itself:

"What am I going to wear?"

Costumes are, after all, at the very heart of Halloween's fun. Whether you're playing a game with a canon character like Lara Croft, Spider-Man or a customized character in Monster Hunter World or an MMO, you're still faced with the question of what are you going to look like. Sometimes you even have stat bonuses to further complicate things, while other games have made it so you can have all the lovely stat bonuses and still make something that looks nice to you. Some folks even take this all huge step further and will realize such costumes for real-life cosplay.

As someone that posts often about Final Fantasy XIV, I have spent countless hours obtaining all kinds of armor, weapons and accessories from various corners of the game and only for the reason of it looking cool. In fact, once I have a job at 50, I feel obligated to give each of my jobs a fanciful glowing weapon before I press forward.

And then I give each job their own little pet sidekick, because I have decided my character is a Disney princess. Then I write macros that give them a blend of super sentai/Sailor Moon transformations because henshin a-go-go, baby!

But, if I'm honest, my one true love in regards to outfits in the game is the Invalician Samurai set, which I got from the Rabanastre raid. The design is pulled right from the Final Fantasy Tactics' art concept of the female samurai and is wonderfully realized.

But sometimes looking good comes at a price, too. I remember my favorite look for my Corsair in Final Fantasy XI required me wearing pants that reduced my movement speed by twenty percent and some of the best stat-based builds in Monster Hunter can make you look silly.

So this month's topic for Bloggers Wanted is costumes. Whether the costume is realized in-game or in real-life, we'd like for you to to discuss your favorite creations or tributes to characters, whether it's a custom look, a canon character or even a character skin like you'd find in Overwatch or Fortnite. You can discuss cosplays you've done, or cosplayers you admire. You can even talk about the plights of stat-based function over fashion.

The sky is the limit on this one, so head on over to our community blogs and get to writing! Use the prompt "Costume party: [Your title here]" and be sure to place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have get Bayonetta dressed up. She's heard about everyone and everything becoming Princess Peach and she would like to remind the world she was ahead of the curve on that.



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