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Bait And Switch

Hey gamers,

With the recent reveal of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s impending launch day of March 3rd fast approaching, I have been going on…and on…and ON about the system. Picking apart and analyzing every little bit of the Switch hardware, software coming out, and Nintendo’s general hype building in preparation for their big move.

thanos-wait-and-see

AKA The Thanos Treatment.

It’s really looking like a “wait and see” scenario right now, with Nintendo taking their sweet time getting up off their asses to deliver.

In my attempts to analyze the Big N’s strategies involving the Switch, I’ve voiced my opinion that I can’t quite shake the idea they didn’t learn the right lessons from the Wii U, as it looks as if they are repeating them in due process. Mounting launch costs (both console and add on prices), unproven tech involving gimmicks like HD Rumble and IR sensor on the controllers (“Joy-Cons”), and a seemingly rushed launch day that currently looks to be doing more harm than good, and I’ve got this familiar sinking feeling in my stomach I’ve felt before.

everclear

Bad console launches being a lot like what happens when you pregame with Everclear.

With all of that in mind, I’m constantly reexamining my critique of the Switch, to attempt to see the value of what Nintendo is offering. I preordered the thing, dammit, so I’m really not trying to put myself off before launch day. If anything, without straining myself at least, I want to be genuinely excited to finally get the Switch in my hands come March 3rd. A bad console launch is one of the last things a gamer wants to suffer from, right next to the effects of pregaming with Everclear.

everclear-drunk

Picture of a person reacting to the PS3 launch, or someone who’s Everclear Drunk? 

I’ve already come to terms with the idea that the Switch launching so early in the year really indicates a “Soft Launch”, kind of an attempt at Nintendo’s part on rushing the thing to market, to strengthen it’s value and better prepare the machine for it’s destined money making holiday window later this year.

Considering how hard Nintendo royally dropped the ball on software last year for the Wii U, it’s not like they have the luxury of just not making money for the majority of this year, so the earlier Switch date makes sense, at least from a business stand point. Having seen what Nintendo has to offer, it leads me to believe it is from a business stand point only that the Switch will deliver initially, but I have my fingers crossed.

While I still intend on writing an article about what appears to be the only  saving grace of the Switch during it’s launch period (Zelda: Breath of the Wild), I thought I would take one more moment to look at a few of the other exclusive *NEW titles on the Switch, that Nintendo is hoping will get our engines revved.

mario-kart-8-deluxe

*NEW titles, Nintendo.

I mean, come on guys. That is like 95% an already released game, and due to the Switch’s online not even being ready at launch, MK8 will have more functionality on the Wii U than the Switch till later this year.

disappointed-freaks-and-geeks

Nintendo’s Reaction: Nah Uh.

The three titles I’m taking a closer look at today are ARMS, Snipperclips, and 1,2 Switch, all exclusive titles for Nintendo’s upcoming console. I will take a moment to figure out what these unique titles are bringing to the table with the Switch, and whether or not they will help to make the launch day fantastic.

I am now going to take this moment to immediately douse your flames of excitement, by reminding you that only one of these games is day one (1,2 Switch), with Snipperclips dropping a couple weeks later, and ARMS tentatively positioned for Q2 (April, May, June).

Oh yeah, did I mention the Switch will only have 7 games on launch day, only two of which are exclusive? Excited yet?

michael-bolton

Off to a good start, then.

Starting with a look at our first “launch game” with ARMS, this game takes a slightly different approach to the 3D fighter, with a behind the shoulder approach of fisticuffs, relying on combos, grabs, dodging, and strategic weapon usage rolled into an accessible fighter. Think Punch Out! meets Wii Boxing.

I remember the lead designer at the Switch presentation referencing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” when speaking about ARMS, and after the Live Treehouse event, it looks as if roshambo had a stronger inspiration for this title than I initially imagined, as the title has a heavy emphasis on countering with the right move at the right time design.

A basic, but somewhat strategic mix up kind of game.

arms-1

Or a straight up eat shit game, depending on your skill level.

The big stand out question for me while watching ARMS being demoed was whether or not it would have the same lasting longevity as a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors; seeing the light of day only in moments of bored indecisiveness. The game was exhaustively referred to as accessible, which is worrying to hear for a fighting game, as most of the greatest have a mandatory jumping on point of difficulty you just have to struggle with.

Needless to say, I was not able to discern in such a short amount of time whether or not the title had a serious meta-game to it, or whether or not it would basically devolve into a mindlessly satisfying button masher, but one of the reps did mention “frame advantage”, which inspired some confidence.

arms-3

At least, it inspired more confidence than the obviously painstaking creative endeavor of original in-game character names.

I think ARMS has a chance of being the most memorable of this presently discussed launch bunch, even if we have to (sadly) wait a couple months to see if that’s the case. The rep mentioned that ARMS wisely took a page out of the Wii U’s failed play book, by offering up both traditional and motion controls for the title, giving players options in the matter.

Having said that, the rep also drew a comparison to Splatoon, citing the motion controls as the more ideal option with very little practice. Considering Splatoon turned out to be a surprise darling proving gryoscopic controls can work efficiently in a competitive arena, ARMS may yet surprise gamers with a depth of play and addictive quality only the Switch’s Joy-Cons can offer.

OR it may just be a $60 drop in the bucket which will recount the same awkward arm flailing simulator Wii Boxing did at 100% of the cost but…we’ll have to wait and see.

Next up on our “Will they won’t they give a shit about Nintendo launch titles?” quiz comes Snipperclips. Snipperclips is a co-op puzzle experience, which sees two players going through a series of puzzles they must work together to solve, in what I’m guessing will be an unforgiving, tough as nails take on the puzzle genre.

snipperclips-0

Or not. I see Nintendo is fiercely targeting that hardcore dollar again.

Upon first glance, it doesn’t look like Snipperclips is looking to challenge the members of Mensa, or will even give Professor Layton a run for his puzzle making money, as Snipperclips looks to be a cutesy, quirky, quaint, co-op experience you and your closest non-gaming buddy may get a laugh out of, however.

snipperclips-1

Snipperclips, AKA The Couples Game

The main hook of the game has both characters being able to “snip” the other, cutting the partner into a relevant tool that can help solve the current puzzle. The few examples they showed were incredibly simple, from popping a balloon to sharpening a pencil.

There was no time limit, and the players could be reset on the fly, with virtually no way of failing. The game appeared exceedingly forgiving AND seemingly impossible to lose at even, leaving me wondering if the most puzzling aspect of the title was who it was actually aiming to challenge.

sensible-chuckle

Truly, Snipperclips being the sensible chuckle of the Switch lineup.

I concluded very quickly Snipperclips was indeed that ideal couples/family game: the title that is the stop gap between the core and casual gamer of the bunch, the gateway drug to help coax along the unsuspecting Zelda-less heathens of our lives.

While not impressed by Snipperclips, I will at least concede the demographics for this game do exist, and at a $20 price point, despite having no seriously redeeming qualities aside from a charming aesthetic,  Snipperclips may not need to do much else but lie dormant next to a Nintendo logo on a store shelf to sell several million copies.

mario-and-sonic

It worked for Mario and Sonic, anyway.

1,2 Switch is next on the agenda, looking to comfortably fill that token mini-game launch compilation slot Nintendo is so fond of filling. Unlike the benefit Wii Sports had with the freshness the motion controls brought with it, or the appealing promise Nintendo Land ultimately failed to inspire other games to follow up on, 1,2 Switch looks only to be switching it up in terms of what’s left to scrape out of the bottom of the mini-game barrel.

milk

I’m not even reaching when I say Nintendo is starting to milk this concept.

And that is indeed a screenshot from 1,2 Switch, from the mini-game simply titled “Milk”, which doesn’t look like the richest experience from the demos thus far.1,2 Switch does include a variety of other mini-games of varying degrees of attractiveness, including Quick-Draw, Copy Dance, and Eating Contest.

The selection of mini-games packaged into 1,2 Switch shows off the questionable bells and whistles that Nintendo has packed into the Switch’s Joy-Cons, including the HD Rumble, and IR sensor, which help you interact in new, exciting ways you’ve only ever dreamed of.

eat-1

Hah. Too easy. Time for another segment of make up your own joke caption.

The Treehouse Event showed off several of the mini-games involved, some of which, like Copy Dance and Table Tennis, were some of the few that had that fine balance between goofy and engaging. Others, like Eating Contest and the game simply entitled “Milk”, left a lot to be desired, as the novelty of the games seem so extreme, I wonder if either would get even a second chance after the 30 seconds of awkward novelty wore off.

12-switch-electric

Another preview of a mini-game from 1,2 Switch, likely entitled “Electrician”, the object of the game is to pretend to perform a menial work task to forget the amount of boredom you’re having with a Nintendo launch title.

Other games still, like Quick Draw and Samurai Training were more imagination than actual gameplay, upon further scrutiny. In both theory and execution, the titles offer some interactive charm, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, both players will effectively be interacting with either game a mere second or so and a single button press.

With all of this in mind, I’m not sure whether to applaud Nintendo for their ingenuity of having the player be apart of this abstract design, or smack my head in disbelief that the big N found a way to sell you the idea of a game, and for you to imagine the rest.

hd-rumble

Ever dreamed of competing in a virtual “how many marbles” game against your estranged family members? Say no more: Nintendo’s got you.

All that said, Nintendo really is selling you more of an experience with 1,2 Switch than genuine, hard data gameplay, as 1,2 Switch heavily relies on the players to complete the idea, through enthusiastic participation and role playing, in a sense.

In fairness, the Treehouse Live event only showed a handful of mini-games, and IGN’s write up of their hands on mentions Nintendo’s reassurance that these represented a small portion of what’s on offer, but I must insist, Nintendo perhaps is starting to scrape the bottom of the mini-game barrel to come up with any more creative endeavors in the min-game launch line up arena.

wii-sports

And to think, Nintendo debuted and simultaneously peaked motion control gaming with the same title.

1,2 Switch doesn’t have the advantage of the previous two mini-game compilations had, not being bundled in with the system, and debuting with a $50 price point, it looks so far through previews of the game that 1,2 Switch is the hardest sell yet from Nintendo’s token mini-game launch compilation lineup. The game seems to lack the robustness Wii Sports managed, and fails to be that hectic insanity Wario Ware has perfected, while still lacking the more abstract design approaches of Nintendo Land.

Despite all of the obstacles I see standing in this title’s way, if we consider the almost non-existent variety of savory Switch games at launch, and the stupid gimmicks I always underestimate the general populace totally eating up, 1,2 Switch may prove me wrong in terms of sales.

amiibo

I mean, if these cheap little things can turn crack addicts out of Nintendo fans, what would fail to?

I’m shooting in the dark here by saying this game isn’t packaged in with the Switch, because Nintendo either doesn’t want to send the message that this is their mission statement for the Switch, or they don’t have a lot of games at launch and need every last title to round out it’s roster.

This might be a little from column A, little from column B scenario, but whatever the truth is between the two, I’m comfortable in pointing out this certainly feels like a glorified tech demo for the Joy-Con functionality, and an attempt to justify the “HD Rumble tax” that helps contribute to the $70 price point that the Joy Con’s are going for…without mentioning the extra $30 charging grip that compliments the controllers.

money-printer

Remains to be seen whether or not the Switch will follow in the footsteps of the Wii and DS line, in being Nintendo’s new money printer, or as useless as Nintend’s printer without paper, the Wii U.

I was about to conclude the article with some final thoughts, but remembered at the last second there was one more launch title worth ridicu…err, analyzing, and let me reassure you, the joy I have in bringing forth discussion about the game and it’s developer staggers me.

konami-bomb

Oh Joy.

Yes, gaming fans, it looks as if Konami has taken time out of their busy schedule of mailing envelopes filled with piss to Hideo Kojima and counting their pachinko machine profits to hype Bomberman R, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. A throw back to the old school Bomberman titles you kinda remember from the 90’s, you’ll get to relive the classic days of blowing you and your friends up as you walk down memory lane with an *unbeatable franchise.

konami-franchise-2

*Unbeatable in being a cheap to churn out iteration when compared to several way bigger franchises that helps to showcase a minimal effort of commitment to both consumer desires and strong third party support for Nintendo.

To its credit, Bomberman R does look as faithful as any of the old school titles you may remember, but with swanky new HD visuals. Despite a faithfulness to the original formula, I stand annoyed at Konami for a vast number of reasons, including picking Bomberman out of their huge stable of available properties to go with (see above), while simultaneously failing to generate hype for the Switch.

Out of all of Konami’s offerings, this seems like one of the weakest picks they could have gone with. Especially compared to the rest of what they have; no one’s going out to buy this console for Bomberman.

milk

But when you consider that MILK is an alternative buying choice. IT’S ANYONE’S GAME!

It’s not even as if Bomberman is the only cost effective/low overhead game out of their old franchises they could have developed for the Switch that would have made bigger splashes, either. Ignoring the massive hype franchises like Zone of the Enders, Suikoden, or Silent Hill would have brought forth as launch titles, I feel as if other simplistic old school titles like Goemon, Gradius, or Contra would have spoken to far louder fan bases on either side of the globe.

Hell, even a remixed/repackaged Castlevania would have caught a lot of peoples attentions.Plus, it would have competed with Konami’s former star employee Igarashi, and his spiritual successor to the Castlevania series Bloodstained, which is the kind of pettiness I feel Konami really shoots for.

mgs-konami

Ah Yes. Pettiness the likes of which only Konami can pull off.

Again,  Bomberman R looked fun, even if the demo was the only one in the entire event that had troubles with controller connectivity, which made me unsure whether or not Konami informed their rep it would be an additional five dollars to unlock player two’s controller. The old school charm for Bomberman R wore off pretty quickly of course, as I waited with bated breath for the moment of truth…

bomberman-gems

Paying to continue? In MY Konami game?

It’s more likely than you think.

And before I launch off into an exhaustive rant about Konami’s infinitely stupid ingame practices, I will give them the SLIGHTEST moment of pause, in admitting I was unable to find out whether or not it was easier to earn gems solely in-game, or primarily through real world currency. It’s likely you can just gain the gems through in game play, no biggie.

I still however, wouldn’t put it past Konami to roll out some pay 2 play bullshit in some form, just because they can. Considering the shop tab is one of the only visible on the main menu of Bomberman R…

bomberman-bs

…and that Konami has a notorious reputation for shoving micro-transactions into their other franchises, including allowing you to skip playing their games by paying to “achieve” 100% status, and further destroying huge series with cheap pay to play gimmicks like Castlevania and more recently MGS V

konami-laughing

Hey Fucking Hoh! Micro-Transact Me, Bro!

I honestly don’t even care if I’m being  a knee jerk alarmist here: any chance I get to turn up my nose at any possible Konami misstep I will more than gladly take.

castlevania-erotic-violence

They’ve earned my ire.

I felt as if I had some grand finale to close on, but it’s 6 AM and I don’t care anymore. So there you have it: a slew of reasons why the Switch is testing my patience, and why I question myself when I immediately preorder new consoles, despite knowing video game system launches are fool’s errands, and why I’d be better off just waiting a year and a half for either the first big price drop, or the third killer app worth having.

I guess much like Nintendo, I will never learn how to do it right.

~Pash

 

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Highway to Hell

Hey gamers,

Every four years on January 20th in the US, inauguration day takes place, and depending on who’s taking office, it can either be really good or really bad.

Then there was this year.

doom-1

Which immediately prompted me to start playing DOOM in response.

Tonally speaking, it felt on point.

I don’t ever need much of an excuse to pick up DOOM, but if I’m ever feeling particularly apocalyptic, its a good go to. I usually rock out with DOOM 2, one of my favorite shooters of all time, but I picked up the DOOM reboot around launch, and only played it for a little bit, despite thoroughly enjoying the game. The choice was obvious, when I considered my demon slaying options.

cyber-demon

I don’t want to run rampant through just any old hell, mind you. If you want that crisp original flavor, sometimes you just got to go with fresh hell.

Continuing my habit of discussing not-so topical ultra violence in the world of video games, I figured I would jot a couple of quick thoughts about DOOM down, as the game really does help to set the standard in how not to over think a reboot.

simcity

Or how to put any thought into doing a reboot right at all.

I think first and most importantly, it was clear from moment one that ID knew exactly what they were doing, upon their first showing of DOOM earlier this year. The trailer screamed simplicity, which makes sense, as the DOOM reboot is back to basics in the most ideal way. They looked at what made the original DOOMs so great, and it turns out- it wasn’t a whole hell of a lot.

doom-ii-circled

Yeah. It was mostly just the uh, you know, all of this going on right here.

In that sense, the DOOM reboot really is stripped to it’s core essentials and not much else, and the experience greatly  benefits as a result. There aren’t many elements feeding into the design experience, which works fantastically, as the original DOOMs had a very minimalistic but effective charm that made them such gaming powerhouses. It’s minorly amazing to think it’s been this long since we’ve had a proper follow up to the PC classics, not that DOOM 3 wasn’t a great game, it was just a different beast all together.

doom-3-flashlight

A very different….very hard to see beast.

DOOM succeeds through its strong emphasis on simplifying gameplay, and there’s hardly any clutter to speak of. Much like the originals, the maps are sprawling without feeling empty, the secrets are tucked away without feeling laborious to find, and the demons are quick and many, adding to an overall chaotic feeling of combat DOOM pulled off back in the day.

doom-bullshit

Kinda of like when this kind of bullshit fucking happened.

Perhaps, one of the most impressive feats the developers pulled off with the DOOM reboot, is the accurate recreation of the character movement found within. The speed and mobility aren’t a 1:1 feel of authentic recreation to the originals in terms of rushing and dodging through the hellscapes, but it’s damn close, and helps to make the experience feel old school in a satisfying manner.

sans-dead-bunny

Sans the dead bunny.

Not only that, but all of the weapons you remember (plus a few more) make their way into your arsenal, so you can destroy the legions of hell in style, and to your hearts content. Everything from the BFG to the Chainsaw makes a triumphant return, and the meaty feeling of ripping through hellspawn flesh is oh so satisfying. The Super Shotty of course makes a triumphant return, bringing with it the two best features of old school DOOM games.

DOOM Super Shotty.png

The Left and Right Barrels.

The story is straight forward and to the point: I.E-RIP AND TEAR, and the campaign isn’t cluttered with many cinematics, instead focusing hard on what DOOM does best-let you blow away the legions of the devil himself. Sure, there are a few new caveats, like a very minor RPG-like system that helps strengthen your character, and some cool little challenges scattered throughout, like how fast you can make a demon shit stain suck led, but overall, just good old fashioned gun toting, curse ridden, blood lusting fuck fest of fun.

family

A true family experience.

I amazingly haven’t beaten the game yet, but am pushing forward through the circles of hell with pomp and circumstance. While I look forward to harvesting the wicked souls of the underworld a few times through, I have serious doubts on how active the multiplayer community still is. Outside of the biggest titles, few online communities last much longer than six months of shelf time, so in that sense, some value may be lost with DOOM, but never the less, plenty of bang for your buck with single player alone.

I am hoping DOOM sold well enough to merit a follow up, as every 2nd installment of the DOOM series is impossibly more satisfying than the first, which seems absurd, but true non the less.

If you’re looking for some quality, old school shooting to sink your teeth into, I would definitely check out DOOM if you get the chance. You’ll have a hell of a good time.

 

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The Violent Double Standard

Hey Gamers,

A long time has elapsed since I’ve put words to a screen, and it’s time for that to change. I’m going to spitball about GTA V here for a bit. I am gearing up to write about the recently revealed Nintendo Switch, but I usually like to warm up before the real fun begins.

gta-trevor-torture

Real fun, ultra violence….tomato, tomato.

In any case, I’m very late to the party on GTA V,  as the game came out a few years ago, but a number of happenstances prevented me from playing it for quite awhile. I bought it for myself on X-Mas, and have had a blast with the game so far. I’ve always been a big fan of the GTA series, maybe just as an after effect of GTA III being such a massive deal when I was growing up. There were plenty of games that justified the PS2, but GTA III was arguably one of the easiest justifications of why the system dominated that console run.

melee-halo

Not to say Nintendo or Microsoft were total pushovers.

The series really didn’t find itself till the third installment, with the first few GTA games being more of a middle of the road experience. The lack of technology was the obvious pitfall of the original titles: the top down view made the experience feel a lot more detached and archaic in design, something III fixed with a third person perspective and subsequently, a more immersive open world as a result. In fact, GTA III did for sandbox gameplay what Street Fighter 2 did for fighting games.

mudman-2

Annoy everyone with offensive knockoffs.

Fast forwarding a bit, GTA V tries a few new things, and mostly succeeds, even if the game is still guilty of some of the age old problems that has plagued the series since III. GTA has always been a jack of all trades and a master of none, at least mechanically speaking. The shooting is always second rate, as well as the driving….and well, GTA has never excelled at any single gameplay facet, but the experience has always been greater than the sum of it’s parts. I suppose the glue that holds the experience together is the empowering freedom that every installment is imbued with. Aside from the fragility of mortal life (which many pop on a cheat code to resolve in an instant), the worlds of GTA are truly yours to take, with an endlessly inviting yet intimidating environment where most anything seems possible.

gta-v-monkey

What happens in Los Santos stays in Los Santos, right guys? Right?

GTA V stands out more than its immediate predecessor, as IV deviated a bit from the prior games, eschewing the more ridiculous aspects of previous titles, and overall taking itself a bit more seriously . Where San Andreas had large Scale Gang Wars fought with Jetpacks, IV had hang outs with your cousin going to a strip club (to fulfill the simple task of seeing “big american titties” or so I have heard). Pretty mundane stuff in contrast, needless to say. So while Saints Row was picking up the slack for the zany antics during GTA’s chill out period , it wasn’t until years later when V  launched that the series returned to absurdity. V is not at all worried about being more ridiculously raucous, which is a saving grace of the title.

gta-v-horsing-around

You know, some good old fashioned horsing around.

However, from a story stand point, GTA V definitely has more difficulty in believably switching it up between the absurd and the serious during pivotal moments. Keeping in mind, GTA stories are rarely much more than parodies of already existing crime stories, at best recycling cliches from Hollywood’s most notable gangster offerings, but V never seems to balance inane and insane with more intriguing verve. The 1st act of the game has great momentum, and the 2nd act carries it confidently with the introduction of the Heist missions, but the game perhaps peaks too early in terms of drama, and then kind of meanders into some seriously dubious territory, in terms of both suspension of disbelief and bad pacing. A not so confident story guilty of flippancy more often than not.

In essence, I like that V is more ridiculous in many ways and better for it, save the story, which does not benefit in the same manner.

gta-v-sex-doll

It’s a touch and go mess, honestly.

Focusing more on one of the main characters, I wish to discuss Trevor, who is the obvious fan favorite in the community. We are speaking of a man that goes from 0-100 in about 3 seconds, with mood swings that startwith Trevor violating a stuffed teddy bear, which then somehow segways into a a bloodbath involving half of a walking mall and a firetruck. In a sense, Trevor is kind of the human personification of the world of GTA: total chaos.

While I was playing GTA V, I had a strange moment of realization; Trevor as a character represents a departure for the series in an interesting way, and I’m not sure how many people really considered why. Where as earlier GTA games featured basically a blank avatar (Claude from GTA II and III), and other characters were morally grey, but mostly mentally sound individuals, Trevor stands out. Looking back at past characters, Tommy was a killer no doubt, but he was still grounded in some form of reality, and CJ was just a kid mixed up in some bad shit trying to get out of the hood, CJ being the most sympathetic and likable of all the GTA protagonists in my eyes.

jetpack-cj

I mentioned the jetpack, right?

Niko is from Eastern Europe, and was a soldier who was fucked over in a war so…he is understandably harder edged, but you still felt for the guy in trying to make a new life by leaving a bad past behind him.

This is where Trevor stands out as an oddity, as Trevor for all intents and purposes, is a certifiable psychopath, having absolutely no moral boundaries whatsoever and a seemingly endless thirst for violence in which he gleefully engages in. As I mentioned previously: Trevor represents some walking metaphor for the world he inhabits- chaos incarnate. This is the interesting split with Trevor from other characters in the series, as we kind of have to observe and judge Trevor in real time outside of our own actions, and be a little closer to the idea of how insane GTA is in theory, and perhaps even how fictionalized the games have to be in order to maintain a sense of self , or how desensitized we have become to violence itself in order to participate.

motoraxe

I mean, joy rides have really spiraled out of control in recent days.

I know that sounds a little heavy handed, but I think there is a case to be made that Trevor represents a confrontation for the player, as we have to observe the very same insanity we’ve been personally guilty of for so many years in a new, uncomfortable way .

He challenges us by pushing the boundaries, helping to uncover at what point violence crosses the line from darkly humorous to detestably horrific.

Truly, Trevor represents the worst of the worst: so uncontrollable and violent by GTA’s standards, that even the other crazy murdering protagonists are terrified of him, going as far as high ranking government officials specifically wanting him very dead for what a threat he is. Where as most other GTA anti-heroes are poised as somehow charmingly flawed in their conquest of the criminal underworld, or someone like Claude who represents you as the player, a personal conduit, previous GTA characters have represented someone to root for. If we then look to Trevor, who outside of your own actions, provides a sense of brutality we haven’t seen yet in GTA, Trevor succeeds only in being a train wreck: you know it’s wrong to want to see the carnage the crash will cause, but you can’t help but sadistically hope the derailment occurs for a small sense of relief.

Despite his bi-polar fueled ragefests, I was always entertained by Trevor…when I wasn’t blown away by his vile approach to the every day. And yet, Trevor persists as manic to a fault, and goes back to GTA V failing to toe the line between the inane and the insane, with Trevor’s lighter moments being almost Tom & Jerry in one instance, to straight up Reservoir Dogs within the blink of an eye. Rockstar didn’t seem to quite know what to do with Trevor entirely, kind of having their cake and eating it too. If they made him too brutal he would have been a loathable character entirely, but make him too high jinksey, and he would have lost his fearful reputation as a result

I don’t know if they quite pull it off, but Trevor at least stands tall as a very memorable character as a result, even if a deplorable one. The simple truth of the matter may lie within who Trevor is fundamentally, as further analysis suggest he becomes a distillation of the GTA experience as a whole, representing the game, the player, and the interaction between both, in spurring the random chaos of a fantasy. Maybe Rockstar’s greatest achievement with Trevor then, is somehow creating an avatar that encompasses the interaction of the game and the player, into one psychotic symbolism?

walrus

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Thinking about it, does that make Trevor the Walrus? I suppose if Trevor is the avatar of the experience, then maybe we are all the Walrus in this case?

……

Regressing back to my original point, and to clarify: I’m not taking GTA to task for not being more self-aware or less violent: the very premise would make the games instantly vanish into a thin air of boring paradox. I’m more pointing out that GTA V suffers from the same systemic problem many games  across the board do, which is lagging behind in the story telling department…or perhaps, struggling with the story and gameplay complimenting each other in a greater, more satisfying manner.

I’ve seen many gamers turn their nose up to the phrase “ludonarrative dissonance” as a criticism, a term used to describe conflicts between gameplay and story. In this particular instance however, I pair the term with disassociation to boot. How my swath of bloodshed and murder is somehow palatable and joyous, while I’m simultaneously revolted by the  Trevor inflicting the same kind of terror in a similarly gruesome way, I stand in a final moment of grand hypocrisy.

Hmm. 1800 words later, and I’m still not sure I’m articulating quite what I wanted to say here. On top of me being rusty in the writing department, I think there’s a lot to unload on this topic, so this idea may yet be in it’s earliest stages of development. With one final note, though I have thoroughly enjoyed GTA V, I think if Trevor does act out as sort of the spirit animal of GTA V in a symbolic way, I think observing that Trevor is an imbalanced riot says as much about V as it does him, and maybe even me, at least in terms of when conceptual depravity is concerned.

Well. I suppose that’s it for now. Just trying to shake the cobwebs out.

~Pash

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Tongue of the Fatman

Hey Gamers,

Quick post today, but more robust ones to come later. I will be the first to admit: my creative output for April was…err, lacking, to say the least.

I Am Very Aware, Thank You.

                  Yes,  I Am Very Aware, Thank You.

What makes less sense about my failings in producing more work, directly ties into how excited I was to be invited back to E3 at the beginning of April. While I was thrilled to begin sharing stories and pictures from last years E3 straight away, though my momentum in doing so failed entirely. I can cite sickness as a definite contributor to my struggled creative endeavors, but I feel no less guilty about the whole thing, excuse of no excuse. E3 has been, and in many ways still is Christmas time for gamers. Why my current energy levels are more akin to identity crisis is beyond me.

One possible answer, and one I’ve observed is true about me, is that I seem to have a habit of self-sabotage, so this may not be as surprising as I’m making it out to be.

Indeed, I could be just straight up trying too hard to “find myself”

Happens To The Best Of Us

                   Happens To The Best Of Us

In any case, this post was not intended to be some odd apology explanation (but is anyways), I was merely bringing attention to an awesome turn of events. The Internet Archive, which has helped to preserve a large swath of old video games for the sake of keeping history alive, has now allowed you to embed DOS games into tweets. I stumbled upon this little nugget of information when my friend Chris Kohler over at Wired, tweeted a story that had a game embedded in the tweet, which was then embedded into the story he tweeted.

Yo Dawg Chris 4What a time to be alive, truly. These dizzying levels of entangled technology, has reached new and delightful heights of self-reference. And I thought I had achieved true technological feats of horror, when I laid out my PS4 profile, which had a Vita screenshot of me playing Zelda on my Xbox One.

Down The Rabbit Hole We Go

                   Link Was As Shocked As I Was

Maybe not ground breaking news, but extremely cool non the less. I’m not sure if this makes Twitter a viable gaming platform in some regard, or if this strange technological loop hole has signaled a way into emulation legalities…but who cares? It’s damn fun. Check out the Internet Archive if you haven’t already, to get your hands on some sweet old school DOS games, and start tweeting at your friends to finally play the 1989 Activision game, Tongue of the Fatman.

Just You Know, As A Joke

               Just You Know, As A Joke

(Cause It Is)
~Pashford

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E3: 2nd Coming

Hey gamers,

So, this happened today:

So Happened

So Happened

No, not the actual event, but my invite as a member of the press to E3 itself. I was invited last year, which was quite the ordeal (an amazing one at that), and needless to say, it’s a huge relief to have been invited once again. I’ve been so busy working, enjoying, and celebrating the occasion, I’ve had very little time to produce anything new of value today.

Except For, You Know, All Of This.

Except For, You Know, This Whole Thing

In any case, I thought I would share my extreme excitement about the event, and all of the hype that is sure to follow. I live blogged and wrote about my experiences last year, and will very much do the same this year. I have plenty of pictures and stories I have yet to share on a mass scale from E3 2014, and am excited to show all of you in the months to follow. I have lots of ambition, tons of ideas, and a ridiculous amount of excitement to speak of, but right now, I have a lot to be thankful for, and thought it would be nice to share it all with you.

Cheers.

~Pashford

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Encyclopedia Muranica: Phoning It In

Hey Gamers,

As some of you may have noticed, I was quite quiet throughout the majority of April, making only small mention of myself by way of Mario Kart, and my highly troubled misadventures on Star Road.

And The Rocket Men Who Helped To Cause Them

And The Rocket Men Who Helped To Cause Them

I would bother explaining why I was without voice during the past month, but I think I barely understand it myself, so I’ll save you the time. Rest assured, my mind has still been predictably fixated on video games, and the odd happenings surrounding them. One of the more stand out oddities of the past couple weeks, came in the unexpected form of baring witness to a painful past being uncovered, and a long standing myth finally being laid to rest, once and for all.

Not This One

Not This One

 

Wrong Again

Wrong Again

 

 

Already Figured This Out

Already Figured This Out

Already Solved

No Longer A Mystery

 

Dude, No

Dude, No

Okay, This One Isn't Even Remotely Related

Okay, This One Isn’t Even Remotely Related

That's The One

That’s The One!

Though, for anyone behind the gaming times on the rest of the myths I farcically mentioned, they go as follows:

1. Couldn’t Get It
2. Didn’t Exist
3. Complete Joke
4. Absolutely Possible
5. Totally Happened
6. Turns Out His Name Is C.G.B Spender
7. True, Apparently

I probably should have waited to give away the ending to the E.T myth, but it’s been pretty big news, even outside of regular gaming circles, so the chances are you’ve heard about it by now.

If not, SPOILERS.

If you hadn’t guessed already, I have been following the whole affair with some exuberance. I find gaming culture, by and large, fascinating. Needless to say, one of the longest standing and most noteworthy myths of all time finally being proven as true is equal parts amazing as it is astounding. Many believed the facts surrounding this supposed fiction to be entirely funny, to the point of hyperbolic jest of the game’s regularly observed quality. Though, at least since I’ve been making my rounds on the gaming circuit, the joke became more of a possible reality than a ridiculous fantasy.

Cementing once and for all, that E.T was indeed cemented over.

Belive Me, It Really Does Make Sense

Belive Me, It Really Does Make Sense

I wasn’t there, of course, but that didn’t stop me from feeling completely involved. The event was covered by Wired.com, with my friend Chris Kohler reporting on the whole thing. I was lucky enough to get the pictures front and center, moment to moment, in all of their hilariously surrealistic glory. You wouldn’t think people standing around in a landfill looking for something so hated it was buried out of financial rage three decades ago would be so fun, but it totally was. While the mystery surrounding the event is now muted, with the fiction becoming the reality, it does prove once and for all how toxic this game was really considered. As many before me have pointed out, E.T represented the turning point for video games in the early 80’s, with many citing it’s failings as one of the first of many that contributed to the game crash of 1983.

This discovery of the games in the Alamogordo landfill solidifies two facts:

1.E.T was figurative garbage
2.E.T was literal garbage

Not many games can brag about failing on such levels that E.T has, with some truly Herculean feats of failure for E.T to champion, and a legacy that will continue to haunt all of those involved.

At least, I thought so initially, not really giving the topic a more open approach and careful consideration. It’s been well documented that E.T is awful, truly and utterly, with few peers in it’s respective field to challenge the ultimate shittiness it absolutely represents. However, in it’s complete lack of quality, E.T ends up doing what few games ever achieve, and that’s become a cultural phenomena, one that super-cedes or at least completely obscures what the game actually accomplishes.

Which is nothing, at least, from a design standpoint.

I Mean, This Is Seriously 50% Of The Game

I Mean, This Is Seriously 50% Of The Game

I’m frightened to think that may in fact be a conservative estimate of the time spent in holes in E.T.

While in essence, there is no successful design to speak of in E.T, and it’s design only by proxy relates to my point about the game in some manner achieving success, I will take a second to point out the true absurdity of E.T as a game. Though I had painstakingly played the game several times before, it wasn’t until I replayed it in response to this recent unearthing did I realize the absurd truth of the matter. When I mentioned that at least 50% of the game is spent in holes in E.T, the more maddening aspect of E.T is that winning in the game looks exactly like losing in the game, with the lines of reality blurring intensely as a result.

The Whole Game

The Whole Game

The object of E.T, in a sense, is to fall into holes (to reclaim parts for E.T’s phone…you know, for home). Since the game is always randomized, you must fall into a large variety of holes to find said parts, which means no matter what, you must fall into holes, that may or may not be relevant to your phoning needs. With this in mind, I reinject the madness previously mentioned, as any degree of success or lack there of, looks exactly the same. Winning looks like falling into holes. Losing looks like falling into holes. Sometimes, you don’t fall into holes. Is this winning or losing? Both or neither, maybe.

Either way…

Pure Insanity That Will Leave You Paralyzed

Pure Insanity That Will Leave You Paralyzed

I don’t think enough people play E.T for long enough to realize they’re in a hole to begin with, and that more await there clumsy/effective means of play. I forced myself to see the “win? screen”, as I wasn’t entirely sure if I had done so previously. This screen is as confusing as the journey to get to it, and only reintroduces you to the very same idea immediately after.

You must become the hole, as the holes becomes you.

Like most Atari games, there really is no end. Even the manual reminds you of your only two bleak options in ending your experience:

1.You Die
2.You Stop

Again, the distinctions between success and failure are complete semantic, really only acting as a reminder of your own grasp on reality, and the existential concepts you have to deal with before you even turn off your Atari 2600. I’m not sure if I’ve sub-consciously associated the same quality with the movie after so much time with the game, though I will mention I haven’t sat down to watch the movie since perhaps my first session of E.T on the 2600. Were there holes in the film? There must have been, though none quite as confounding as the ones the game possesses, this I am certain of. I definitely don’t recall during the course of E.T (the film) that I was strangulated with intense ideas involving existentialism, though my hunger for Reece’s pieces may have entirely obscured the truth of the matter.

The Truth Perhaps Just Hiding In Plain Sight

With The Truth Of The Matter Sometimes Staring You Right In The Face

It all seems so obvious now.

Digressing waaaaay back to my initial point that it wasn’t the design of E.T, in it’s oddly present yet not existing glory that was relevant, but ther mere essence of what E.T has become to the masses. This is a game that achieved so much of nothing, that it ended up creating something. A sub-culture, a myriad of followers, and even one of the greatest myths of our gaming day. Through it’s nothingness, E.T achieved somethingness, which not even excellent games can brag about. Even in my musings and honesty that the game feels like no game at all, I’ve spent hours in the past week playing, thinking, writing and speculating about the sheer levels of nothingness involved.

Nothing

Well, Even Nothing Is Something

And as mentioned, nothing in this case truly becoming something.

With my digression fully intact, I want to quote the creator of the game, Howard Scott Warshaw, who was more poignant in his opinion on the whole excavation than perhaps he even meant to be:

“When I first made this game, the whole point was about entertaining people…like this (excavation) right now behind me, and it’s still entertaining people, only now it’s not legend it’s fact.”

Which was a fascinating point, as mentioned one that has interest beyond it’s initial premise. One I’ve also heard posed before, by none other than the director of Troll 2.

Yes, I did just mention Troll 2, and I know what you’re thinking.

Oh My God

Oh My God

While I won’t even bother digging up the exact quote, the director of Troll 2 (Claudio Fragasso) pointed out that his efforts in making Troll 2 had a very simple goal, entertaining. Through, what I’m guessing was sheer willpower or tremendous ignorance, no one knew what they were actually creating when they were helping to make Troll 2, though it eventually came to be what we know it to be today. Troll 2 is much like E.T in this regard, who’s creator (Warshaw) had one simply desire: to entertain, despite any and all lack of quality.

Through a magnificent series of events that truly blur the lines of realities, we end up having a nothing that became something, and a loss that became a win. I’ve theorized before about the nature of “success”, only to conclude how success is all relative, and how one can never truly anticipate what “success” may even entail, till time has come to unearth the truth.

After my intense enjoyment of these events, and my utter disdain for E.T as a game, one last truth came into focus. E.T achieved being more than just a game, despite many arguing there was no game to begin with.

~Pashford

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Whore Swords

Hey Gamers,

Despite my best efforts, I have not yet tired of speaking about Zelda.

I Think I'd Have To Change My Name If I Did

I Think I’d Have To Change My Name If I Did, Honestly

I made mention of a possible part four to conclude my thoughts on Zelda, though I feel as if I’ve already done justice in giving A Link Between Worlds ample spotlight. This whole line of articles, for those who may remember, was the first effort in flexing my mental fibers after a long hiatus. ALBW gave me plenty to think about, and Zelda does easy work of making me a happy gamer. While my last post  may have come off rather irritated instead of happy, it was more of a “dude, really?” in regards to Nintendo’s sometimes backward approach in game design. The company may be responsible for building the house of Mario, but that doesn’t mean they’re master carpenters all of the time.

And the metaphorical outhouses they sometimes build

Too Soon?

*ShitFests

Nintendo did learn a valuable lesson from narrowly focus testing the 3DS XL in house: do not build accessories to scale with Reggie Fils-Aime size in mind.

Reggie, Seen Here, Standing In His Office At Nintendo HQ

Reggie, Overseeing Operations At A Nintendo HQ

I will save myself (and you) from the endless stream of jokes, resulting in the mention of the massive girth Reggie boasts.

Those are laughs for another time.

I speak in reference to Nintendo’s meaty American President (and more directly to the Circle Pad Pro), as a correlative reference to my last post, which dealt with Nintendo’s missteps with Skyward Swords motion controls. I’ve made peace with what I think in regards to SS, and the mention of the game’s usage of the Wii-mote helps to center a singular point Nintendo often seems to get wrong: simplicity. The debate I observed, had some claiming the motion controls indeed complicated an already simplistic control scheme, which has a truth about it. More leg (arm) work was involved in controlling Link in SS, thusly making the game a little more involved, and a little less simple. Skyward Sword failed in adhering to a simplicity found in previous games, and lacked “That Zelda Feel” for some, ensuring the game was not fully embrace across the board.

In contrast, ALBW works rather simply, and that’s very good for players of all sorts. The game’s simplicity may have been overlooked in pre-hype phases, from the way Nintendo tried to sell the game. Very simply, while the wall hugging is cool, the 3D elements offer some visual oomph, and the game boasts a “retro flair”, these are all just elements Nintendo ended up abusing for marketing purposes, because they all are easily identifiable ways to sell Zelda. What surprises me here, in fact, is that in some strange way, selling Zelda by Zelda standards seems beyond Nintendo at this point, as if they’ve forgotten that the basic formula is what makes or breaks a game.

You can have all of the cool abilities and weapons in a game, but if it doesn’t feel right, it’s no game at all.

Balthier, Reminding Vaan He's Got No Game At All

Balthier, Reminding Vaan He’s Got No Game At All

Moving from reality to fantasy, let’s take shooters for example.

Articulation can be difficult, especially in sub cultures. In gaming for example, a lot of people might like a game, but may not have the vocabulary to explain why. Some people just lack awareness, others just simply don’t put as much thought into how they enjoy their spare time as I do. Any popular game or title that is worth it’s weight in virtual gold, possesses this comfortable value of feel through effective design. Why a Halo player may not enjoy Counter Strike and vice versa, is only lost to those who haven’t really spent time with either. Halo and Counter Strike both have different feels, and even within their own machinations, different iterations of Counter Strikes and Halos can indeed differ.

All

All

Different

Different

Feels

Feels

Bro

Bro

Four Swords, all of the same caliber, all used by the Chief. Ignoring a lot of the fourth wall breaking stuff (like the god awful weapon continuity of the Halo universe due to alterations in game balancing), the man and the sword do not change, though the feel does. The overall feel, to the uninitiated, is one of empowerment. Power Weapon Mongering may be one way to describe it, noob swooping another, and sword whoring yet one more title this specific empowerment takes on. They all refer to the same thing, and yet from game to game, the feel changes ever so slightly, but tries to not get too far away from that classic “sword feel”. A hard concept to relate to, if you have an estrangement from the virtual realities of Halo, but one that helps frame why or how a game “feels right”. Even within a single fan base, this can be a violent, divisive sense of elitism and debate, which shows you just how complex and delicate game design really can be.

Though Delicacy and Complexity Are Not Always What's Produced

Though Delicacy and Complexity Are Not Always What’s Produced

I know my focus on first person shooters may seem like an odd interjection in terms of Zelda discussion, but it relates in a broader sense, how Nintendo seems to “miss the point” in marketing Zelda by Zelda standards, and overlooking “the feel” of a game entirely. I suppose in some ways, people may criticism Nintendo for playing it too safe with their own formulas, so an appeal to the familiar in marketing may have been dangerous territory. Considering how quick Nintendo was to try and sell the DS Zelda’s and Skyward Sword on “gimmicks” instead of “Zelda”, selling ALBW more honestly as a straight up Zelda game, without the 3D wall hugging bells and whistles attached, might have been a good thing.

Not that I’m implying Zelda needs to follow Halo’s lead in marketing or execution, but the two can benefit from similar approaches

Link Warthog

Seen Here: Link Only Briefly Questioning What Song He Just Played On His Ocarina

ALBW did just fine in both a retail and critical sense, so I believe what’s synonymous with Zelda is still well intact, even if Nintendo’s understanding of it is not. Again, I’m not saying Zelda needs to HTFU, gets some guns, blow shit up etc, I just think Nintendo forgets how Zelda simply is better in the first place, without all of the superfluous nonsense. “That Zelda Feel” is all important, and really why the series, even when the games seem too safe or too quirky, are still tons of fun. My concern with the quality of ALBW, is that it’s polish may have been in an incidental bi-product of being a sequel to a game with a fantastic feel, A Link to the Past, and how playing it completely safe here was completely acceptable. I know this goes back to what Zelda you like, and there’s plenty of you out there (which is good), but I think it’s about time Nintendo acknowledges some of the strengths of certain Zelda games, and brings them to the front in one title.

You Know, Reaching A Common Ground Between Fans?

You Know, Like Reaching A Common Ground Between Fans?

I’m ending this post (in one sense) prematurely, only because I’ve broken up the writing process of finishing this post into three parts, which has made the effort unfocused. I’ve also gone and had too many ideas concerning “That Zelda Feel”, and realize further discussion is required in all regards. ALBW, as I’ve observed, is appealing, provoking, and refined, largely due in part to staying faithful to familiar fun. The game has been inspiring enough, in these more personally dark times, and has helped me to ponder a great many things about design and Zelda as a result. I believe my next post will continue to Link  Zelda’s, in understanding how the series has done it best.

As I’ve investigated here today, a Link Between Worlds can really draw you in, and will remind you that inspiration can sometimes be found in odd places.

They say green is the color of genius.

They Say Green Is The Color Of Genuis

I’d Argue It Can At Least Be The Color Of Success

~Pash

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