Don't think of the children! Let's discuss The Walking Dead!

April 11, 2014

Let’s discuss The Walking Dead (Part 2).

Hey, welcome back.  Did you get yourself some tasty snacks?  Good. 

Now, in a move that will surprise absolutely no one who’s read this blog for more than eight minutes, I have to make an assertion: the “gritty story” model might be broken.  I say MIGHT because there’s always the chance that a movie, or a game, or whatever will come my way that makes me eat my words.  If that day is coming, then in light of The Walking Dead, I can tell you right now that said day is pretty far off.

USGamer’s Jeremy Parish -- whose words you should be reading when you’re not reading mine -- took a look at Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and raised a legitimate complaint about one of its issues (independent of it being a $40 $30 demo).  Apparently, GZ takes a dip into some seriously seedy territory, and it takes the franchise -- a goofy-as-hell franchise, more often than not -- to a very dark place, and a place that The Phantom Pain might not be prepared to tackle.  Or illuminate, or explore.  It remains to be seen how events will be handled, but Parish makes his point while pointing to some of the problems gritty fare runs into: sometimes they’re not prepared to go into those depths, but do it anyway because…well, that’s just a thing you do with a gritty story.  Go dark or go home.

And trust me; there are times when I wish some stories would just go home.  As you can guess.

Make your first move, so what’s it gonna be?
You’re trapped in the new world of SPOILER Fighter III!
Fight for the future, so what’s it gonna be?
The 3rd Strike, y’all, it’s SPOILER Fighter III!

Side note: did anyone notice that I called Andrea "Angela" at first?  Did anyone think to themselves that it only slightly matters?

April 9, 2014

WrestleMania XXX is secretly brilliant.

Well, you could argue that professional wrestling in its entirety is brilliant -- which I’ll do before post’s end, probably -- but I thought I could use a snappier title.  Anyway, Ryan and Rory, if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoy; this post is for you.  Also?  Digeridoos covered in cranberry sauce.  Think about it.  I sure didn’t.

Now, for anyone else reading this, let me be the first to make a confession: I hold pro wrestling in pretty high esteem.  Though technically, I guess I’m closer to being a poser than an actual fan; my fondest memories of the sport come from memories of playing wrestling games, dishing out power bombs, reversing enemy grapples, and breaking the legs of whoever my brother would try to win with (poor virtual Rey Mysterio…).  Beyond that, I’ve always thought that the grapplers in fighting games were the coolest, even if they weren’t exactly the most practical.  Hearing Haggar shout “PILE DRIVER!” made every beating in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 worth it.  Well, almost.

For lack of a better term, for years I’ve seen wrestling as something romantic.  Something that, by nature, is designed to get the blood pumping and the crowd roaring.  Thinking back, I used to tune in to SmackDown consistently before it fell off the basic cable/easily-accessed channels -- a real loss, but one I eventually got over.

But having seen WrestleMania XXX, I’m starting to think that letting the WWE get away from me was a big mistake.  Maybe one that I need to fix.

Warning: spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen the event yet, so readers beware.  Though on that note, how nuts is it that I have to use spoilers for something like wrestling?

Side note: am I the only one who’s compelled to call it WrestleMania Xrd thanks to the presence of three Xs and the latest Guilty Gear?  Well, probably.  But I’ll use any excuse to work an Ishiwatari song into the mix.

April 7, 2014

Let’s discuss The Walking Dead (Part 1).

I should be satisfied with The Walking Dead.

I’m about ready to declare that (outside of some currently-unseen yet supposedly-amazing first season) the show is the best it’s ever been.  There’s no wallowing in despair and having go-nowhere arguments on a farm; there’s actually a goal now, and the cast -- and the show -- has proven as of Season 4’s finale that they’re moving toward something.  These characters are actually trying to be characters instead of by-proxy survivalists and badass zombie slayers…well, as badass as you can be when your main opponent day after day is less threatening than an incensed sloth.  And as if my thoughts in my Attack on Titan posts changed the fabric of reality, the show is trying -- trying, if nothing else -- to inject some hope into affairs.

So don’t let anyone tell you that I can’t be positive about things out of my comfort zone (even though I hope I’ve proved that by now).  If there’s something I like, then I’ll bring it up.  If there’s something I don’t like, I’ll bring that up, too.  Let it be known that I can give praise to The Walking Dead as needed.

Let it ALSO be known that, were the show a living, breathing person, I would slap it across the face.  Multiple times.

You are now entering The Spoiler Zone…though that should be obvious, I hope.  Then again, this is coming more than a week after the Season 4 finale, so I’d hope that by now you’ve had time to digest.  I sure have.

Side note: I sure hope this doesn’t date the post months down the line when people find this blog looking for anime boobs or The Last of Us porn.  And on that note…seriously, internet?  Seriously?

April 3, 2014

RE: inFamous: Second Son

Am I the only one that thinks that the typing of the title is really awkward?  I am?  Well, forget it, then.  I’ll just keep typing “Infamous” instead.

A quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that the original Infamous was released in 2009, and its sequel followed in 2011.  Since then, the franchise has pretty much established itself as one of Sony’s key products -- the “reason” to own a PS3, and more recently a PS4 considering how Second Son was revealed alongside it.  (Though its reveal was pretty much a given by that point, I’d wager.)  Collectively, is Infamous the best in the superhero game business?  No.  And not even individually; that honor belongs to 2005’s The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, seeing as how it nigh-flawlessly captured the essence of playing as the Hulk.  Still, some props have to go to Spider-Man 2 for nailing the web-swinging; why the games that followed had to complicate the formula -- or forget it outright -- is beyond me.

But for what it’s worth, I’m ready to acknowledge Infamous as something praise-worthy.  I like the concept.  I like superheroes, and superpowers.  I like that it at least tries to do something with morality, and gives the player the choice of playing as the hero instead of a growling, amoral twit (or worse, the ever-so-delightful designated hero).  But as always, the execution is what proves or disproves the soundness of the concept.  If it’s not done well, there’s a good chance I could find myself wishing that it wasn’t done well at all.  Thankfully, the latest entry in the franchise gives a chance to iron out the flaws.  This is the game that proves the worth of the PS4, and ushers in the promise of the new generation…at least to those that pretend the Wii U doesn’t count.

That’s what Second Son is primed to do.  At least, I sure hope it is.

March 31, 2014

5 MORE Superpowers That Would Make Awesome(ish) Games

It’s probably worth mentioning that my brother got a PS4.  Weeks ago.

This would be the part where I’d say “funny story, actually”, but there’s really not that much to it.  He just came into my room one day and said, “Hey, what’s up?  I ordered a PS4.  It’ll be here on Monday.”  I’m pretty sure I spent more time staring at him in disbelief than he did on the conversation -- and certainly more than he spent trying to win me over.  I mean, can you blame me?  You just have to love the logic on display here; apparently there’s no better time to buy a PS4 than before it even has one game worth owning.

That’s not hyperbole, by the way.  He was so desperate to have something to justify his purpose that he ended up downloading indie games -- which for one reason or another he can’t stand -- and grabbed a copy of Battlefield 4…a game he already had on the PC.  He even admitted that he caved and bought the game; I think that was the first time in years I’d seen him express shame.

Thankfully, he may have gotten his justification with Infamous: Second Son.  I certainly hope so, at least; as I’ve said, it’s not as if I think the PS4 will be pointless forever.  And indeed, I’ll gladly welcome this new superhero game as the title that makes a case for the PS4.  And beyond that, somewhere down the line, I’m going to play it for myself; I want to see if it’s got the juice, and ISN’T just earning praise because it stands tall amidst a barren wasteland of games.

In the meantime?  Let’s keep playing the hypothetical game.

March 27, 2014

5 Superpowers That Would Make Awesome(ish) Games

No matter your opinion and biases, can we all just agree that there are too many guns in video games these days?

Look, I know what the deal is.  Video games define themselves by having the player interact with the systems built in.  The programming creates a means for expression that’s almost magical -- and almost since their inception, the one way games have done that in a way no other medium can is through combat.  Conflict.  How you can overcome enemies is an art form in its own right…and that art form is threatened when devs just shout “GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNS!” and move on.  

Now, it’s true that how you shoot a gun can be given its fair share of flair and style, but there are two problems: A) that would require a level of -- for lack of a better term -- fidelity that wouldn’t fit DA PLAN, and B) guns take all the guesswork out of combat by nature, especially in a game.  You aim and pull the trigger.  There’s a reason why guns are the weapon of choice in, you know, wars, but something romantic has been lost along the way.

Which brings us (however briefly) to Infamous.

March 24, 2014

On Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

I finally started playing Ni no Kuni in earnest.  Finally. 

The game has been out for more than a year, earned its fair share of praise, has been touted semi-recently for reaching the “1.1 million sold” milestone (1.7 with Japanese DS sales, but either way makes for a much more respectable number than the “we JUST started making a profit” Tomb Raider 2013), and manages to prove pretty handily that the JRPG is not only possible in the HD generation, but proves that the genre at large isn’t a broken model.  It’s just been proven by certain companies how easy it is to get it wrong.

For one reason or another, I’d only just started picking away at it in the past few months.  Blame DmC for that (I certainly will); it was my expectation that I could clear that game fairly quickly and get back to something good, but one thing led to another, and here we are -- with me lagging well behind the gaming populace.  That’s a mistake I’m willing to rectify, to the point where I’m about ready to REFUSE playing anything else -- barring the occasional multiplayer game -- before I finish it.  And while I don’t know how much farther/longer I have to go, I can say with plenty of confidence that there’s a reason this game has earned the praise it has -- and why I’m so very thankful it exists.

But it’s not for the reason you think.

March 21, 2014

On Sailor Moon and Housekeeping

Not Sailor Moon doing housekeeping, mind.  I think it’s important to make that distinction from the get-go.  Also, get ready for a post that’s more two-faced than Two Face.

Let’s start with some talk about the blog.  I’ve been thinking about this for a little while now, and I’ve come to a decision: from this post on, I’m going to tone down the output.  Or to put it a different way, for the time being there aren’t going to be as many posts as there have been for the past few months.  Two reasons for this: 1) There’s stuff that I want/need to work on, and I can get through that faster if I don’t have to engage in my usual verbal spews quite as often.  And 2) I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but in the interest of comfortably welcoming back I Hraet You I want to tweak the scheduling a little.

So here’s what I’m going to try.  From here on, posts are going to go up on Mondays and Thursdays.  I’m not going to stick to schedules or planned posts for now; whatever goes up goes up (dealwithit.gif).  Granted I’ve already got some stuff all written up, but I want to hold off on it for a bit.  I want to make sure I get it exactly right.  Besides, once I Hraet You chapters pop up again, I can see what happens when story posts and whatever-the-crap posts upload on the same day (albeit at different times).  It could work.  Might not.  We’ll see.

Now then.  Let’s gab about Sailor Moon.

March 19, 2014

How Much Should We Trust Reviews?

Now here’s a vaguely interesting question.

A few weeks back, The Escapist’s esteemed webcomic Critical Miss made a strip about what it would be like if car reviewers were treated like game reviewers.  It had hilarious results, as you’d expect.  I suspect that part of what made it so funny was that there was more than a little truth behind it; the comments sections of many, many, many reviews have turned out…well, let’s call it “poorly” and leave it at that. 

It should go without saying, but it seems like there’s a pretty big gulf between the reviewer and the consumer (and if anything, that gulf has gotten bigger).  This isn’t just an issue related to video games, either.  Rate a movie too high, and there’s backlash.  Rate a movie too low, and there’s backlash.  I’d bet that reviews can be outright cast aside, at least in the case of my brother; despite Resident Evil 6 earning a 3 out of 10 from Destructoid -- and similar low scores elsewhere, and being bad enough to eventually make several Worst of the Year lists, he made a mad dash to grab a copy.  It didn’t end well.

As always, this isn’t exactly an issue that can be sorted out with one all-encompassing answer.  But there are at least a few things I can say on the subject.  Just don’t give me a low score for my opinion.  It’ll break my heart.