Thursday, 30 October 2014

Too Much Drama In Western Games Industry

I want to come clean about something.  Ever since it started, I've been silently following the #GamerGate story pretty closely.  I'm not going to talk about that whole thing at any length because it's the kind of interest controversy that I don't want to get myself in.  If you give a shit about what some nobody on a blog has to say about the whole thing, then make a request with a charity donation because I've already received nasty emails for making certain, unrelated tweets and I can't be arsed potentially getting anymore.

#GamerGate had me thinking though that there is WAYYYY too much fucking drama in the western games industry.  Every time there's a new game or someone writes an article it's always surrounded in some kind of fucking drama and it's rather tiring.

A while back there was some promotional content released for the upcoming Hotline Miami 2 but any excitement I had was dashed by a number of idiots on the internet crying about a certain scene and how it offended them.  More recently, Bayonetta 2 came out recently and while press surrounding the game is positive I can't help but trip over a number of articles crying about how the game is "sexist" or whatever stupid uneducated bullshit they are trying to peddle for clicks.

All these issues that keep coming out of the western press about violence, sexism and other stupid shit just pisses me off.  Why can't I play a game with a sexy woman and just appreciate it for being a damn good brawler?  Why can't I just play something horrifically violent and just have fun killing dudes in a virtual world and not have someone claim that I'm a serial killer waiting to happen?  Whenever I read articles on websites about games that I enjoy, I get the impression that I'm not allowed to have fun unless I feel some kind of sense of shame or self disgust for finding said games enjoyable.

There's a lot less of this drama and PC crap in Japan though.  Granted I don't follow either regions gaming press all that closely but all I ever see out of the Japanese press is a celebration of a games release.  It can be a game about big tit ninjas or killing millions of dudes and as long as it's fun to play then it will be talked about favourably.   I find that Japanese people care a lot less about the various -isms or worrying about if X, Y, Z game is going to cause the next mass murder, they just ask "is it fun or not?" and go from there.

I'm not saying western games are bad or anything like that, just that western releases always come with a lot more baggage than Japanese ones, which is sad really.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I Miss Quirky Peripherals

My post yesterday evening about rail shooters got me thinking about video game console peripherals and just how boring they have become in the modern age.  We have stuff like the Kinect, the PS4s pad thing but I only seem to ever come across people complaining about those.

I mean what the fuck happened to every console having a gun.  Back in the day, every motherfucker and it's dog had a goddamn gun in order to play all those arcade rail shooter ports.  The Wii kinda had a gun thing going on but that was nothing more than slotting your remote into a hunk of plastic.  I want shit like the Sega Saturn Predator back.  It was fucking heavy as shit, lit up when you fired it and it was fucking big.  You knew that when you got that motherfucker out the draw, shit was going to go down.

Back then, developers were always trying to do interesting shit with their systems and giving you interesting ways to play.  NiGHTS on the Saturn saw the release of a "3D" controller which looked kind of like an arcade stick and was designed to make playing that game a bit easier or something.  The Dreamcast had a fishing rod for use with Sega Bass Fishing but also worked with Soul Calibre so you could swing it around like a sword.  This resulted in getting smashed by someone with a controller but it was fun nonetheless.  Nintendo were famous for their weird fucking peripherals such as ROB the Robot for the NES and the Game Boy Transfer Pack back when Pokemon Stadium came out which blew peoples fucking minds back then

Sure, they were gimmicky and the number of compatible games was kind of low but the point is that a lot of the time they were fun to use.  I spent HOURS playing ports of rail shooters and HOURS with the fucking DC fishing rod just because it was a novel way to play.

With modern systems, a lot of the shit is built in or has been done before a long time ago and it worked better (Kinect and Eye Toy for example).  Things like touch screens were novel back when the DS was new but in 2014, a touch screen on a modern device is fucking standard.  The closest thing we have to a proper interesting peripheral is the Occulus Rift or any other VR headset thing.  That thing is pushing boundaries and giving people a chance to experience games in a way they never have before which is awesome.

It also makes the console a bit more interesting I think.  I'm constantly finding weird bits and bobs in the retro stores around Japan and sometimes I have no idea what the fuck they would ever be used for.  40 years from now when people are going around retro stores for PS3s or whatever, there isn't going to be anything all that interesting to find in a junk box because aside from the standard console/controller/cables/games there wasn't really much else to fuck about with.

I know it's mainly a problem with technology being what it is and the need for all this quirky bullshit being reduced to basically zero but I'm sure the creative minds in the games industry could come up with SOMETHING that would make me want to play their game based on the method of input alone like they did back then. 

Maybe one day.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Arcade Rail Shooters Need A Comeback

This weekend I was hanging out in a few game centres with some friends and while they were off playing the UFO catchers and other assorted nonsense I decided to jump on a couple of rail shooters. 

The first thing I played was Silent Hill arcade which I ended up pumping a few coins into in order to play to completion. 

I like this game quite a bit and it's one of the only Silent Hill spin off games that doesn't piss me off.  It's a solid rail shooter that's fun to play despite being a little slow at times and it's got just the right amount of fankwank.  The final stage is complete BS but then again these games are designed to eat your money so it's to be expected.

After that I jumped on some kind of Transformers rail shooter that was super fun to play, looked amazing and was bombastic as fuck.  The movies suck but I think they work way better as a mindless arcade rail shooter so I don't regret dropping a couple hundred yen into that machine.

The last game I played was Silent Scope: Bone Eater

I've not played a Silent Scope game since the Dreamcast days and boy it sure has changed.  Bone Eater is a 3D futuristic sniping game with an awesome sit down style cabinet and it has a little fan that blows wind in your face as the character jumps around buildings just for that added immersion.  It's tough as nails but good lord is it fun.

I wish there were more of these shooting games.  Back in the day games like House of the Dead and Time Crisis ruled the arcades but now I barely see them any more.  Hopping on one of these either solo or with a friend is one of the most fun experiences ever and it's a shame that they are such a dying breed.

I'll talk about each of these games in much more detail at a later date so watch this space if you want to see me gush about arcade rail shooters.

Friday, 24 October 2014

I Don't Get Sports Games

I like to play basically every single genre of games, I don't care if it's a military FPS or a swords and sorcery RPG, it's all good to me.  However there is one genre of game that I tend to stay quite far away from and that's sports games.

I am not a sportsman and I tend to stay away from sports in real life too.  Sure, I don't mind playing a little bit of something from time to time with a few friends for the sake of getting some good exercise, but I have no interest whatsoever in professional sports and the people involved in them.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that sports games or real sports suck, their just not my cup of tea.

But even with that in mind, sports video games fucking baffle me.  They baffle me in two ways in particular and I'm going to outline them in the hopes that someone will stumble across this post and explain the fascination to me.

The first way is the very concept itself of a sports game.  I understand something like a racing game, because the idea of someone going out and buying a vehicle capable of competitive racing is just too much.  However I don't understand things like Football (soccer) games or any other sports games because their isn't really any reason you couldn't go outside with a bunch of friends and play some.  I've never once in my life met a lonely football fan.  Every single person who has an interest in football usually has a group of friends that could go to a park or field and have a game of football.  Same goes for something like Tennis, ESPECIALLY if you live in the UK where tennis balls and rackets are cheap as shit.  Just buy some basic equipment, go to a park and play some fucking tennis instead of sitting on your couch doing it.  Something like Hockey might be a little harder, but generally speaking wouldn't it be better to just go and play the real thing rather then shelling out all this money just to play a video game version of something that would be better to do for real?

The other thing about sports games is that they are just a fucking rip off.  Every goddamn year there's a new Fifa or Pro Evolution game and people go fucking nuts for it.  I understand it when Konami releases a new IIDX game every year because there's new music on it and it's an arcade game.  Doesn't matter if it's IIDX 21 or IIDX 22, it's going to cost 100 yen to play.  But are sports games for things like tennis, football, American football, hockey, basketball etc. really that different from game to game?  What do they even fucking change? The rosters to reflect the teams? Who gives a shit?  In my head, what you're paying for when you buy Fifa 15 is Fifa 14 but with a few names changed round and maybe a shitty PS4 controller or Kinect gimmick.

Like I said, I don't think they suck per se, I just don't get them.  I'm sure there must be SOMETHING to these games otherwise companies like EA wouldn't be able to milk them for so much money every year.  Still though, when I see a game getting yearly sequels I roll my eyes, but when sports fans get yearly sequels it's cause for celebration.  What gives?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Horror Game Advertising Sucks

If there's one thing that's pissed me off for quite a while now it's the way horror games are advertised to the public.  They have zero subtlety and everything is made far too obvious from the trailers. 

Let's take a look at an old piece of promotional material for the original Silent Hill

and let's compare this to

See the difference?  Silent Hill has a pretty decent trailer with it posing a question and then showing you a few scenes from the game to give you an idea of it's cast an atmosphere.  The majority of the games content is left a mystery and the little bits of horror that they do show you.

Silent Hills on the other hand has a pretty bad trailer that's all about the special effects and wowing you with next gen graphics rather than making anything remotely scary.  Apart from the fact that it's all pre-rendered, which pisses me off on it's own, the whole thing is more like carnival horror house rather than cutting edge psychological horror game.  No real build up or any mystery, just a big twitchy spazbeast chasing the character down and then some weird shit with a door and a dark stairway.  Don't even bother mentioning the man throwing up centipedes or whatever because that shit was laughably dumb.

Going from that trailer into Silent Hill is like going on a horror adventure filled with mystery while the Hills trailer is like a big advert for Kojima's Spook House.  However, a bad pre-rendered trailer, while annoying isn't the end of the world and it won't sour my opinion of a game before I even get a chance to play it.  It's those stupid fucking reaction videos that do that for me.

This kind of promo material is the fucking worst.  It's like someone saying "HEY GUYS! HERE'S HOW YOUR SUPPOSED TO FEEL WHILE PLAYING OUR SUPER SCARY GAME!".  These kinds of videos falsely put forward the idea of a game being scary, so that when other people play it they already have that idea in their heads.  The game isn't scary, they've been fooled into thinking it's scary beforehand by idiots screaming in front of a camera.  Outlast is actually a really good example because it's one of the least frightening "horror" games I've ever played yet there are people who think it is scary because they've had that idea forced into their head by stupid bits of promotional material like this.

Horror games are supposed to be about mystery and atmosphere and I think whoever the people are in charge of making trailers and promo material for horror games really need to get a clue and learn how to make a good trailer again.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Problems With Backlogs

Not my collection, but at this rate it will be soon
My backlog of games has kind of become my own personal fucking nightmare.  It's a thing I'll never be able to get over and I'm doomed to perpetually have metric fucktons of games unbeaten on unplayed until the day I die.

On the surface it seems like every enthusiasts dream right?  Stacks upon stacks of games to play, never stuck for choice and just being able to quickly yank something off your shelf and play.  Failing that, firing up my computer and having hundreds of digital games at my disposal ready to be installed and played at any time, sounds wonderful, right?

Well no because that's not how it goes.  The problem with having a huge backlog is that you have too much choice.  You suddenly decide that you want to play something new and you'll sit there for fucking HOURS going through every single game you fucking own trying to settle on one to play to completion.  It's gotten to the point where I'm not finding games that I forgot I ever owned and when I'm buying used games in places like Book Off I have to wrack my brains trying to remember if I own it already or not.

The other problem is long games.  It's OK if you're backlog is all modern FPS games that are about 6 to 10 hours long, but if you have an old collection then I can guarantee that there are games 60+ hours in there somewhere.  Old school RPGs that you bought off GoG or JRPGs from the PS1 days sitting there, festering and you know that one day you're just going to have to rinse it for a week solidly to have any decent chance at beating it before getting distracted by something else in your massive collection.

It's also stupidly easy nowadays for a backlog to get out of control.  I can go 10 minutes down the road to my retro shops and find stacks upon stacks of games for about 100 yen.  I can find equally cheap PS2 games and it's now gotten to the point where even things like PS3 games won't exactly break the bank.  Not to mention that PC owners have to deal with Steam, constantly offering them sales on shit they may not even want but that "75% Off!" mark is just too damn tempting.  Making the whole PC situation even worse is the fucking humble bundle, offering you games at a price OF YOUR CHOOSING.  If you're feeling particularly miserly then you can add another 5 titles to your endless list for $1.  I spend more than that commuting to work for fucks sake.

Once a backlog is out of control, it's doomed to be like that forever.  You try to stop yourself but there's always some cheap way to acquire games and you may not be spending that much money but these poor poor games are doomed to be stuck on the shelf for weeks, months or maybe even years.

One day I'll topple my backlog and when that day comes I'll have to do something insane in celebration.  Until then I'm just going to carry on being a victim of Steam sales and stupidly cheap Japanese retro games.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Akihabara Aint All That

I am now home from Tokyo but before I put that horrible memory behind me I want to tell you a little about a place called Akihabara and how it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Just in case there are people who aren't clued in on their Japan shit, Akihabara is a bit like nerd Mecca.  If you're into manga, video games or weird shit like maid cafes then people will tell you that Akihabara is THE place to visit if you go to Japan.  This might be the case if you're a hardcore anime fan, but for a gamer Akihabara is a bit of a disappointment.

It's not a shitty place by any stretch and there are a lot of things to like about the place.  For example it doesn't matter if you're into new games or retro games, chances are that if you want something you WILL be able to find it in Akihabara.  The selection on display in some of the stores in this area is nuts, it's the only place I've seen a fully stocked shelf of MSX games and that's just one thing of many.

However, as good as all this may seem, Akihabara is massively overpriced ESPECIALLY if you're into your retro shit.  I found games for 1000, 2000+ that I bought in Nagoya for 100s of yen.  The arcades are overpriced too but not the kind you might think.  Modern games are the same price as they are everywhere else but Akihabara has a pretty extensive collection of cabinets running older games.  In Nagoya, cabs running older games are 50 yen a pop but here they were your usual 100 yen, which is a little bit BS to be honest.

In it's defence, I didn't have a lot of time to truly bury my fangs in and really explore the place so I'm sure that there are places that are actually really good.  That said, there's no way you're going to find these places without a full day to explore and some command of Japanese to help get you round.  So if you're a resident of Akihabara or a nearby area, feel free to comment and call me an idiot but if you're a tourist making a pilgrimage to what is essentially nerd capital, then you may feel a bit let down.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Something Video Games Taught Me

This isn't going to be one of those posts where I take silly concepts from video games and turn them into life lessons.  I'm sat in a hotel on a Friday night trying to put something out in a rush before I go and hop on a train, so I thought I'd lay down something a little serious and maybe something a little personal, because why the fuck not right?

I feel like games have taught and inspired me to do a lot.  Hell, the reason I'm in Japan at all is because of my love for gaming.  It was my fondness of Japanese games (coupled with a lack of direction during my teenage years) that brought me to my decision to study Japanese at university.  But thanks to that here I am in a nice job in Japan living the good life.

I know it sounds stupidly cheesy but the one life lesson I think I took away from gaming is to never give up no matter what.

I like hard games, games that punish me and test every single bit of my skill and determination.  It's part of the reason I find modern gaming so disappointing and probably the reason I'm such a huge fan of Rougelikes.  It's stupidly satisfying to be sat there for a few hours dying over and over on a segment of a game only to end up getting past it and having only myself to thank for it.  Then when you eventually reach the end of that game it feels so triumphant.

So after punishing myself and seeking out the biggest challenges gaming has to offer, I've taken away a never say die attitude that I've applied to my life and I'm glad I did.  I'm not sure about you, the person reading this post, but for me, I've been told at nearly every point in my life that I shouldn't bother with X, Y or Z thing because it probably won't go the way I want it/expect it to go or some shit.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  Back in my college days (the thing before University for you Americans) I had this teacher who I will call Mrs. V for the sake of this story.  This was quite late in the school year and pretty much all the students at my school had decided on what university courses they were planning on doing.  One day, during a class, she comes up to me and asks what I was planning on taking, to which I responded "Japanese".  One thing you have to understand before I carry on is that French at my school was mandatory up to a point and my results for French were....sub-par to say the least.

So after hearing my response she has this kind of shocked expression on her face like I just told her I was going to university to study murder or something.  She then says to me "maybe you should change, if you're French results are anything to go by then you'll probably fail"

At the time I laughed it off since manners towards teachers was held as a top priority at my school but inside I was fuming.  How dare this fat bitch who's been stuck teaching high school geography her whole fucking life tell me I'M going to fail at something based on my results for something TOTALLY DIFFERENT.  Students are going through a tough time at that point and I can promise you that if someone in her position said that to someone a bit less stubborn than me, they might have actually changed.

But for me, sure I fucked up French but that's just one Game Over and moving to a new environment to study Japanese was my next coin in the machine.  5+ years later, look at me now, rushing out a post on a blog from a hotel in Japan after a month of training in Tokyo for my new job.

So, just like you should never give up when playing a super hard game, apply that same determination to anything and I promise you you'll go far.  If you want something badly enough then nothing will stop you from eventually jumping over one of life's spiky death pits and smashing through the final boss of your own worry and self doubt.  Just don't forget to give the middle finger and stomp all over any small fry throw away pricks that try to stand in your way too.


Sorry if this post is all weird or whatever, I think Tokyo has sent my head all funny with it's shitness.  Normal video game goodness will resume once I get back in Nagoya, promise.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Coming Home! Update Time!

On Saturday I'm finally coming home from Tokyo!!!!! I'm so happy to be getting out of this flaming shit heap.  It's been kind of hard to keep up with content creation when I'm being shunted around various hotels from week to week but now that I'm coming home hopefully I'll be able to go hard and get shit done.

So the first big thing is the Euro Truck 24 Hour Marathon that got donated for.  I was planning to do it during my second week in Tokyo but due to shitty hotel internet it never got done.  One of the first things I plan to do when I get back is set a date for the marathon so keep an eye on the Facebook page or my twitter to find out when that's going to go down.

The second thing is a little mini speed run marathon since I've not been able to stream anything at all and I fear that I may have gone a little rusty.  I'll be doing my first one-man speed-a-thon where I speed run 5 games (Silent Hill, Hotline Miami, Ys, Megaman X and They Bleed Pixels) back to back.  Don't expect any records to get broken but I'm hoping I'll be able to get back into the swing of things for when I start my nightly streams up again.

Depressingly I haven't done a play through for YouTube since Outlast which was a long long time ago, so when I get back I'll be thinking up something to do for the channel.  I'm willing to listen to suggestions but please remember that your suggestion may be considered more closely if there's a charity donation with it.

So that's all for now, keep up the support and keep up the donations!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Terra Battle First Impressions

It's not every day that I'd be so quick to jump on here and talk about a game for iOS but goddamn, Terra Battle is pretty fucking good.

The story goes that one day I was having trouble updating the apps on my phone.  While trying to work out the problem I took the the app store to see if I could still download stuff.  Terra Battle just happened to be at the top of the list so I hit download and it worked.  After fixing the problem I thought I should give the thing a go so I fired it up and the first words I see on my phone screen are "Mistwalker"

I was stunned, I had no idea Mistwalker had made a game for iPhones and what was even more stunning is that it was released (at time of writing) last Thursday.  For those that don't know Mistwalker is a company founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the guy who headed Final Fantasy back when it was good.  They came in strong with Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360 and followed it up with The Last Story on Wii but after that I lost track of them.  Turns out they've been making games for iOS and Terra Battle is their latest release.

Terra Battle is kind of like every other RPG on iOS right now in the sense that you collect characters, put them in a team of 6 and then play some kind of puzzle game to fight monsters and level them up.  What I like about Terra Battle is that the puzzle involved isn't just something stupid like matching gems but it involves positioning units around a board to make attacks by flanking an enemy.  To add a little bit of extra strategy, units on the same row as an attacking unit can get a little extra hit in and all units come with skills that are activated by chaining attacks together.

The one thing I like about this game is that I'm not being bogged down in characters right from the get go.  One of the things I don't like about games like Puzzle and Dragon or Love Live is that you get so much shit and no "box" space to put it all in that a lot of the characters feel like junk.  In Terra Battle you are given small numbers of units and you have to carefully arrange a party together to effectively get through a level.

Right now the game is quite bare bones but this is by design as Sakaguchi has come up with this idea of "download starter".  Apparently he has stated that he likes the sense of community that comes around via something like Kickstarter but doesn't like the idea of fans directly financing the game.  Instead content is released based on download numbers.  Given that, as of right now, Terra Battle is the first game I see in the app store on my iPhone, I can see this game going pretty far.

Sakaguchi is a man who knows what he's doing when it comes to making games and making fans happy so give this game a go.  You have nothing to lose really except maybe an hour or two and the only complaint I have about the game thus far is the translation is a bit wonky.  Plus if you download and give it a go you're helping me get more content, so get downloading.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Fighting Games are Awesome But......

I love a good fighting game and fighting games are probably one of the most fun genres around.  Grab a couple of friends and just beat the shit out of each other all night long over a few drinks, it's a damn good time.  Doesn't matter if it's 2D like Street Fighter or 3D like Tekken, generally speaking whacking out a fighting game at a gathering of gamers is a guaranteed good time.

As you may have been aware from my ranty post about how much I hate Tokyo, I'm currently stuck here on job training.  One weekend me and my buddy hit a game centre and I had a quick blast on Capcom Vs SNK 2.  That game is awesome and I was able to beat the whole thing with one coin which was pretty nice.  Following our little run at fighting games in the arcade, we went back to his place with some cans of beer and fired up a bit of Street Fighter Alpha 3.  We ramped the difficulty up to 8 (max) and took turns working our way through the games arcade mode.  We had to continue a couple of times but it wasn't too long before we made it to the end.

Now if you think I'm telling you all this to show off, I'm not.  In fact it's quite the opposite, I love fighting games but I fucking suck at them really hard.  Sure, I'm good enough to beat down the CPUs in an arcade or on a home console version but if you put me in front of someone who even remotely knows what they are doing, then I'm going to get smacked the fuck down.

I remember first coming to Japan in 2010, me and my friends had been playing an absolute shit ton of Tekken 6 and we were extremely excited to jump on an arcade version and try our hands against the denizens of Nagoya.  Generally speaking, there was little to not competition at our university with everyone who came play being embarrassingly bad with the exception of our group.  We were sort of successful online but coming to Japan and playing the people here was a completely different ball game.  We got beat down.  Hard.

Despite my complete suckage it hasn't turned me away from the genre.  I find the competitive scene for this genre absolutely fascinating and the dedication it takes to learn a fighting game well enough to play at a tournament rivals that of speed running.  All the things such as frame and hitbox data as well as how to use each character effectively is amazing and it's a great thing that people take the time and effort to learn this stuff in great detail.

Fighting games are great and the people who play them well are a treat to watch.  I only wish that I was better but I just can't wrap my head around that shit.  If I sat down and played one for a significant length of time maybe I could get good but between speed running and my backlog I don't think that will be happening for a very long time.  Guess I'm just destined to be the ultimate scrublord for all of time.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

If you need diverse games, then make them.

I can't believe it but #GamerGate is still a thing after all this time.  I at first thought it wouldn't get very far because the corruption behind games journalism has been a thing going back ALLLLLL the way to the Commodore 64 but after checking in with it for the last few days shit has been getting real.  Certain companies have pulled their advertising for certain websites after some certain hateful comments on twitter and many interesting people have joined the fray.

However I'm not commenting on #GamerGate, I'll leave my opinion on that whole situation for another day but very recently another twitter tag popped up which was #INeedDiverseGames.  To a degree I agree, the idea of more diverse story and characters in games is absolutely a good thing.  More writers exploring more ideas for plots and exploring ways to make these ideas work within a good game is a great thing.  More innovation in both story and game play is definitely what the games industry needs.

However, while I agree with the core idea, it still manages to piss me off.  Developers have spent a long time with a lot of hard work making games to entertain people and that hard work has paid off and they've been rewarded with loyal fanbases.  These companies know what their fans like and will try to make games that their fans will enjoy and hopefully while aiming to make entertaining games they will draw in more fans and do more business.

Then this group of people come along demanding more diverse games like they are entitled to a game about trans people or whatever and SOMEONE should accommodate that idea just because.  Well no, that's not how this shit works and throwing around demands (and in some cases insults) towards developers just makes you look like a childish idiot.

If there's one thing #GamerGate has showed me it's that there seems to be a group of people on the internet who somehow think that gaming is this thing that only straight white men can enjoy and it's something only straight white men have any say in.  This couldn't be further from the truth and quite frankly if there is anyone who believes that gaming is sexist/racist/homophobic or whatever then you are a moron of the highest calibre. 

If you NEED more diverse games then put down your phone, stop tweeting, learn to code or whatever and MAKE one.  No one is stopping you and no one will be against the idea of having certain main characters/story elements or game play mechanics if you make them FUN.  Remember, people don't hate Gone Home because it's about lesbians, they hate it because it's a shit none game which requires no skill and has shit writing.

Hell, if you wanted to make a game about same sex couples, rip off Castlevania Portrait of Ruin or something.  Have your same sex couple going around killing demons and tagging each other out with their unique powers, people will love that shit.  Make the whole thing a metaphor for gay people having to fight for the right for same sex marriage or something, as long as it's a good GAME then people will dig it. 

No ones excluding you from making games and the reason games with these themes and characters don't get made is because no one who knows enough about that stuff is in game development.  So go learn to code, make something entertaining to play and tell a good story then people will be more open to the idea of these games.

Stop demanding shit from developers like a spoilt little child and do some goddamn work.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Shovel Knight

I know that as this game was being made there were quite a few people who were really excited for its release.  I, on the other hand, tend not to follow game release after their initial announcement and I'm glad I didn't because Shovel Knight was one of the best surprises I've had all year.

Shovel Knight is a retro-esque 2D side scrolling platformer about the titular character trying to rid the world of evil and unravel the mystery of his companion Shield Knight.  Over the course of his journey he must do battle with a bunch of other knights, some wandering travelers and eventually an evil sorceress who has laid claim to the lands.  To be brutally honest the story is very much in the back seat position for this game but it's mildly entertaining and worth reading it's few cut scenes just for that little bit of extra enjoyment.

The game play is where this game really shines with it's mix of Mario 3, Megaman and Castlevania.  It takes the map thing from Mario 3 and uses all the same things such as spawning baddies that give gold and items as well as extra little challenge stages for the players that want to push their skills the extra mile.  It takes an item system that's SORT OF Zelda-ish but more like Castlevania.  You can equip items such as an arching anchor and a talisman that gives limited invincibility at the cost of mana points in the same way you use items with hearts in Castlevania.  Finally, the game is kind of presented like an old school Megaman game in it's level design and in the sense that every area comes with 3 bosses that you can pick in any order.

The absolute best thing about this game is it's level design.  Every level is challenging but without being bullshit hard.  Every time I died it felt like it was MY fault rather than the fault of some stupid bullshit making me fall down a pit or get crushed whatever.  If you do die there is a Dark Souls-ish system where you drop some of your gold and if you can make it back to where you died then you can reclaim your lost cash.  Later on in the game you get knocked back enough to the point where it feels like there's a decent punishment for death but without being overly harsh on the player.

It's this last part of the post where I'd usually say something bad about Shovel Knight but to be brutally honest with you I can't think of anything bad to say about it right now.  It's not a 100%, 10/10 perfect game but it's so damn good that any of it's flaws are so minor that you'll be having too much fun to notice.

So if you own any of the systems that Shovel Knight is on, go and buy it.  I'm fucking serious, buy the shit out of it because games with this much quality deserve to be supported.  It's not very often that a game is so good that I'm lost for words when it comes to criticism so take that as an indication of how much you should buy the damn thing.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Horror Games Need Combat

So Alien Isolation popped up on my Steam for a pre load and after doing some digging to get some information.  As far as I'm aware Alien Isolation is basically Amnesia but with Alien which is fine for a series like that, but in general there's this annoying trend for horror games to be all about running away from something.

Really it all started with Amnesia a few years ago.  Survival Horror was getting a bit stale and then suddenly this little indie title pops up for PC and everyone goes nuts.  Amnesia was different from a lot of horror games because ALL combat had been removed and the idea was that you were to run around solving puzzles while avoiding any confrontation.  In the event that you were found by the big monsters, you weren't able to do anything to it so your only option was to run.

Amnesia was a good game, I really enjoyed it but it started this annoying thing where now there are LOADS of horror games with 0 combat and it's all about running away.  I find this annoying because it's gone and removed the "survival" from survival horror and in a lot of cases there isn't much horror to be found either.

Combat is important to survival horror because it adds that extra layer of tension and uses game mechanics to create an extra level of fear.  If you go back and play something like Resident Evil now it's not scary because of it's laughable graphics and voice work but it's still fun to play and extremely tense because of how that game manages combat.  Ammunition and healing items are scarce and actually engaging in combat is a big decision that you have to make as a player because you have no idea when you might need those bullets or herbs for something nastier that may come later.

Fatal Frame took this idea another step further by not only making resources hard to find but by making combat extremely intense by basing damage on proximity and timing.  In that game you're using a camera so to get a good shot and do a decent chunk of damage you have to be in their grill except if you want to maximise your damage then you have to grab a shot of the ghost JUST before it hits you.  It's intense, scary and daunting even if you've beaten the game a few times before.

Games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space made this a non issue because in those games you ALWAYS have ammo and healing and you are ALWAYS sure that there will be more around the next corner which is why when a game like Amnesia came out it was such a breath of fresh air.  However I think that horror games are missing out on something by not having combat.  No more am I planning the best route through a given situation but I'm just saving and loading in order to find the best space to hide and progress to the next part of the game.

There were times in old horror games when I was legitimately worried that my trigger happiness or the fact that I had taken too much damage meant that I wouldn't be able to beat the game and that's a feeling I want back.  What made survival horror such a great genre way back when was the fact that it was scary AND challenging.  Now the challenge has been removed and it's all about running away and I feel the genre is worse off for it.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tokyo Sucks

Right, I'm sorry, I know this isn't video games but I'm stuck here for another couple of weeks so I just want to let off some steam and rant about how much I fucking hate Tokyo.

Tokyo is a shitty place.  It's SO horrible that just the act of going outside of my hotel room is enough to make me fucking miserable.  There's nothing wrong with the hotel I'm in, it's quite nice really.  I can play some games, chat to my family, watch TV and all that good stuff but as soon as I step outside I just want to hang myself.

My first big problem with Tokyo is that it's too fucking busy all the fucking time.  No matter where I can I can't escape large crowds of people and people who walk around the streets of Tokyo seem to have some kind of problem where they can't stop bumping into things or being in the way.  I've only been here for about 2 weeks now and I've lost count of all the times I've been stuck behind large groups of people, been bumped into or pushed around or had to pause because some twatsocket has to stand in a fucking doorway or stairwell to check a map or read his phone or some shit.

Speaking of busy, the trains in Tokyo are the absolute fucking worst thing I have ever encountered in my life and coming from someone who spent 3 months riding around on the PARIS metro then that's saying something.  The Tokyo train system is large, confusing and bullshit and getting lost when trying to go somewhere is really fucking easy.  Also for some reason, on the line into the place where my hotel is, they just decide to NOT announce the stations.  You see in Nagoya, when you arrive at a station an announcement will say something like "You are now arriving at Nagoya" or something, right?  But not here, oh no, the train just stops and you get some vague mumble as the door opens that you can't fucking hear because there are too many people talking or whatever and before you know it BAM! you've missed your stop because you were too busy fretting over the map trying to avoid just that.  Fucking stupid train, ANNOUNCE YOUR SHIT LOUD AND CLEAR.

Also the sight seeing in Tokyo sucks anus, just go to Kyoto instead.  Everything here is way too fucking expensive and way too fucking crowded.  Just off the top of my head as a write this rant, the things that people go and usually see are Tokyo Tower or the Sky Tree.  Both are overly expensive and not worth it because if you pay the 3000/4000 yen to go to the top or whatever then the only view you get is of a big fucking city.  If you live in a big city just go to the top of the highest thing your city has and look at it, it's the same fucking thing.  There's a lot more than just those 2 things but to get to them you have to ride the subway so fuck that shit, just stay in the hotel and eat shitty food from Lawson or whatever, you'll have a much better time.

But what pisses me off more than anything else are the people who come here and then brag about it.  I've met many people in the UK and Japan who are like "uhh, I've been/lived in Tokyo" like it's some kind of big fucking deal.  As if going to the capital of Japan is some kind of massive undertaking and they are so fucking cool for having done it. 

Tokyo is Japan on easy mode to be incredibly honest with you.  This is the city where all the idiots who can't speak any Japanese go because it's the place where the most English is available.  You didn't challenge yourself or do anything amazing by coming here, you did a shitty overly expensive holiday in a city that isn't really distinct from any other shitty capital.

In short, fuck the people, fuck the trains, fuck the sights, fuck the cost of everything, fuck the tourists and FUCK TOKYO!