Sunday, 30 August 2015

3D Is Crap

Contrary to what the heading picture might make you think, I actually quite like my 3DS.  Just for the record that picture was taken by me when making a post about region locking.  The 3DS itself is actually pretty awesome, there are a ton of good games for that thing and the original model that I have is nice and compact unlike the mammoth Vita.

That said, today I went to see Jurassic World in 3D and it got me thinking just what a massive piece of shit 3D actually is.  Why do people care so much about it?  It's just annoying for both watching movies and playing games and doesn't actually add anything to the experience.  Hell the 3D isn't even really that good, having some objects or text in the foreground pop out a little bit isn't worth raving about on a console or spending the extra money for on a cinema ticket.

On the 3DS is extra annoying though because at least with a movie the screen isn't moving around.  Right now I'm playing Bravely Default which is OK for the 3D since it's an RPG and I can chill when playing it.  Previously though, I was playing Ocarina of time and that shit uses the fucking gyro inside in order to aim weapons and that REALLY fucks with the 3D since you have to hold it at some kind of sweet spot to get the effect.  Also if you're playing the thing on a train or a car that's being a little bumpy then fucking forget it, just turn that 3D slider all the way down because you ain't gonna get much out of that shit.

For a movie the screen itself isn't so much an issue but you have to wear those fucking glasses that I just find super annoying.  Especially if the movie is long they start to get really irritating but that could just be me.

But really, do you really gain anything by adding 3D to your game?  I'm not more immersed in the experience and instead I'm just pisses off because this gigantic waste of time is draining the battery faster.  You can immerse a player with good writing or engaging game play.  Adding a few poppy out objects to the game world doesn't actually add anything to the experience and I doubt there is really anybody who was wowed by this shit even when it was new.

3D can fuck off

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Final Fantasy 7 on iPhone: What's the Fucking Point?

So recently I was killing some time and decided to browse around the app store on my shitty iPhone.  Before downloading some anime game about girls running races with each other I noticed that Final Fantasy 7 had been made available for download.  As I was swiping through the screen shots I found this.

Since I live in Japan the information came up in Japanese but I'll tell you what it says.  It says that on this version of the game you can turn off the encounters and raise your stats to maximum in order to make it easy to "play".  Now I'm also pretty sure this feature is available on the Steam PC version too and I may have ranted about it then but I don't remember so I'm going to go off on one again just to make sure.

Why is this even a feature?  What the fuck is even the point of playing a game if you are going to strive to take out all the "game" aspect of it.  Part of the reason FF7 is so good was because combat was fun and levelling up your characters and materia was a satisfying experience.  Sure, the story was cool as well but it wasn't JUST the story that made it a PS1 classic, it was the whole damn package.  If you're just going to cut a huge part of the games content just because you're lazy/shit then what's the fucking point?

See, we are playing fucking video GAMES here.  That means that there is some element of skill involved weather its platforming, solving puzzles, precise movements or accuracy or in this case, managing a team of adventurers so that they are able to cope with the challenges that the story presents them. 

Imagine if I was playing Mario and I could opt to turn off all the pits and enemies and just run to the end of the game for the "experience" of playing it?  It would be the most boring, retarded bullshit and anyone who actually cares about games would laugh you out of the fucking room.  If you are so stubbornly unwilling to get good at the GAME aspect of the video GAME then maybe you should just fuck off.

But wait, I hear an idiot somewhere on the internet cry "what if I just want to experience the story! I should be allowed to!"  To which I say go and fuck yourself up the ass with a spiky baseball bat.  These are games and if you aren't willing to put in the time or effort to gather enough skill in order to play it through then you shouldn't be playing at all.  If you want to experience a story go and read a book or watch a fucking movie, you aren't entitled to see the ending to FF7 just because it's a popular game that you haven't beaten due to being shit.

If a game wants to include an easy mode so that the less skilled members of the gaming community can play through their game and feel good about it, that's cool.  Even on an easy setting there is still the fact that you have to play the fucking game and get at least somewhat good in order to make progress but this is just retarded.  Doing shit like this just dumbs down the medium but that is another post for another time.

If you want to play Final Fantasy 7, play fucking Final Fantasy 7 and spend the 10 minutes required to learn how materia works in order to beat the game.  It's a fucking easy game, even someone COMPLETELY new to gaming could see the ending.  If you want to experience a story in a game, go and google some good visual novels I'm sure picking from a list of A, B or C choices won't be too taxing for you.  Then again, if you're the kind of person who needs to max stats and turn off combat then I'm not even sure that you could find the button to progress the text.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Gallows Movie Review

It's weird, even though you can tell a movie is going to suck some extreme ass just from the trailer I'm still willing to give it a try because it's horror and I'm always holding out for some really good horror movies.  However, The Gallows does not deliver and just generally speaking isn't very good.

The story follows 4 high school students which all fit a common American high school stereotype.  You have the asshole and his girlfriend, the jock-come-actor who sucks at what he does but carries on because of his crippling crush on a girl in the theatre group and the annoying, up her own arse theatre girl.  The asshole and his girlfriend decide to try and bail out the jock-come-actor from a stage play he is about to perform by sneaking into the school and night and wrecking the set.  After sneaking in, the theatre girl follows and catches them but they get locked in the school and then shit starts to get real.  The stage play that was being performed called "The Gallows" was performed previously by the school but a freak accident involving the gallows prop meant that one of the actors end up hung, so his evil ghost is roaming the school and is out to kill the 4 characters.

The story itself makes sense in the context of a ghost movie but the fact that it's one of those "found footage" type films throws some stupid questions.  At the start of the movie it tells you that it's video evidence being held by the police but at multiple points the perspective switches from a camera to a phone to a booth camera to a police mans shoulder cam (?).  Am I supposed to be believe that some cop sat in a room and edited these videos together so that we would know what was happening to each of the characters during all the chaos?  Found footage movies are pretty stupid

The movie also fails to deliver on any actual horror and instead just jump scares you for the entire film.  Lots of first person wandering around in the darkness followed by loud bangs, insane screaming and things suddenly jumping into the camera.  I could recreate the entire experience by standing in a pitch black room holding 2 frying pans.  I'd stand near you, wait 30 seconds then have someone turn on the lights, slam the pans together and scream "BOO!" and then flick the switch again.  Do that for an hour and you have the same horror experience as The Gallows.

It's not good as a horror movie but it suffers from the problem of not quite being bad enough to laugh at or be angry about.  That means it falls squarely into the realm of just plain old boring so I would easily recommend staying well away from this one

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tau Plays Discworld Part 8

Another part of the Discworld playthrough!  I fuck up considerably less in this one

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

What the Hell is Happening to Steam?

I love Steam, the convenience it brings along with the insane sales that it does is amazing.  I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression either, despite what I'm about to say I still love Steam and I have absolutely no intention to stop using it.

However, something weird has been going on recently with the games that are being released, probably mostly the fault of Steam Greenlight but more and more the latest release list is making me unhappy.  There used to feel like there was some degree of quality about the games on Steam.  Not that every single game was good but there was at least some degree of quality control when it came to which games got put on the market and which were not.

But then Greenlight came along and shit started to get weird.  Now there's all these weird fucking indie games which look like they have 0 production value put into them and they cost about 40p to buy.  Not only that but there's lots of fucking RPGMaker games which by itself isn't a bad thing but I'm so sick of clicking a title only to find it's been made in that.  RPGMaker is fucking game development on easy mode, hell, I'M in the process of making a game in RPGMaker and I'm a fucking idiot.  If I ever finish it I sure as fuck won't be charging any money for it and I'm not using any of these original assets but games made in that engine feel cheap and shitty, at least to me. 

The one thing that really gets me though is the fucking visual novels.  I don't mind a good visual novel, I've played and enjoyed a good handful of them (not on steam) but the ones that get released on this platform are the fucking lowest kind of crap.  All about fucking anime girls doing bullshit or created by westerners who got their hands on Ren'Py.  I know this is an extremely shallow case of judging a book by it's cover (almost literally) but I'll happily eat my fucking shoes if ANY of them even come close to the levels of quality of games like Kamaitachi no Yoru and 999.

The weirdest thing of all when it comes to this shit are the censored porn games that are available.  Shit like NekoPara and Hunnipop which you can buy on Steam but are censored so that all the nudity and sex are left out.  Why would you even play a game like that if not for the gratuitous anime porn that's available as a reward for putting up with it's cringe-moe BS.  NekoPara is a particularly interesting example of this because if you want it on Steam with the censoring removed you have to buy the fucking game TWICE!  At that point why even bother with the Steam purchase at all?

And before I finish, let me just take a minute to bitch about Early Access again because it's fucking awful.  Stop charging for early access because you're asking for money for an unfinished product which is just lazy bullshit.  I don't care if your game plays "like it's finished" (lookin' at you Necrodancer and Darkest Dungeon), the fact is that it's not and your trying to charge me money for it and that's not on.  If you want to drum up interest for your game then make a fucking demo instead of charging full price for your shit and then just promising that you'll do it.  Just have the end of the demo link to your kick starter or whatever and then you don't need to clog up steam with all this unfinished yet expensive bullshit.

Anyway like I said, Steam is still great and there is a lot of great stuff being released.  That said, finding the good stuff is getting progressively harder thanks to them allowing all this stupid crap clogging up the market lists.  I guess this is why they introduced Steam curators...

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Spooky's House of Jump Scares

You know, when I download a title from Steam that costs exactly £0 and has a name like this I'm not exactly expecting a masterpiece.  Hell, I'm not really expecting anything more than a couple of horror themed jokes and a game that you can finish in about 10 minutes. 

Well I was fucking wrong here

Spooky's House of Jump Scares is a strange game.  I've actually forgotten what the plot is even though it scrolls for you every time you load up the game but I think it's about someone with an interest in history hearing some stories about this old house and going in to check it out.  As soon as you get inside you are confronted by Spooky, a cute ghost that tells you that the house contains 1000 rooms and challenges you to get to the end of it.

Game play for this game is very simple, walk through a bunch of corridors and press E when you get to the end of each room.  Occasionally, the game will throw a puzzle or two at you and you must spend a little time to solve those but most of them are just things like "find the key" or "read the bit of paper with the door code on it".  While the game play isn't particularly great and the story isn't anything new or interesting it's the way the game delivers it horror that makes it a real success.

Now the horror aspect to this game is really hard to talk about because part of the reason it's so effective is that you aren't expecting it to take the turn that it does.  The first few levels are populated with cute little cardboard cutouts of  animals and cartoon skeletons but don't let that put you off because if you press on you really are in for a bit of a surprise.  I really don't want to say any more than that but let's just say that by the end of the game, even those cute little cut outs had me jumping in my chair a little bit.

The game also features multiple endings which adds some replay value but a single play through of this games 1000 rooms can be a little draining so getting the other ending is not something that I have got around to yet.

The game is free to download and play on Steam and I would encourage you to give it a go.  It's a hard game to talk about but don't read anything other than this going in and you're in for a really good time.  Sometimes it's the simple stuff that gets under your skin the most.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Back From Hong Kong!

You'll have to forgive me since the last week or so have been a bit slow on updates but this was due to a vacation from work and a trip to Hong Kong!  However now I'm back in Nagoya so I can go back to sitting on my ass, playing games and updating this blog but before I do that I'll share a few thoughts on Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a nice place but it suffers from all the problems that places like London, Tokyo and Paris suffer from of being busy, kind of dirty and full of generally annoying people (more on that later).  That said, the fact I was only there for 4 days and going out of my way to see the best the city had to offer meant that my stay was actually rather enjoyable.  It's an amazing city filled with so many huge buildings that I'm surprised I didn't get any vertigo just by looking up.

The most enjoyable day for me was my second day where I went to Lantau Peak and looked at a bunch of temples and other cool cultural stuff like that.  The experience that stood out the most in my mind was going up a mountain to look at the "Path of Wisdom", which is a area littered with huge pillars made of wood which have stuff written on them that I couldn't see.  The whole area looked like something out of an RPG or something and with my camera still firmly locked away in my rucksack I'll leave it to your own googling if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Aside from that I spent most of the time just exploring the city and checking out things like malls, the river side, a night market and a bunch of other stuff.  Dotted around the town are a number of restaurants all of which are host to some absolutely amazing food for a surprisingly reasonable price.  That said, if you got used to the kind of service that the Japanese provide, the service provided by service staff in Hong Kong can feel a little lacking.  I'm sure most people don't think anything of this but I've been spoiled my Japanese service for far too long.

Finally my point about the people which I was kind of over exaggerating when I said the place is "filled" with annoying types but there sure are a lot of stupid assholes trying to approach and sell you shit you don't want.  I lost count after the 5th time or so but the number of dudes coming up to me and asking me to buy bespoke suits was fucking staggering.  This wouldn't be so bad on it's own but these guys will follow you up and down the fucking street trying to convince you to go to their shop.  Other dudes blocking my path to try and herd me into designer watch shops and weirdos whispering "weed or hash" into my ear as I walked by were other particularly annoyances but generally speaking, despite my previous comment, the people of Hong Kong were friendly and helpful.

So yeah, that's enough travel shit for now, I'll get back to the games! 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Marathon Roundup and Remake Thoughts

So it's finally over, I played Final Fantasy 7 for 24 hours and surprisingly made a lot less progress than I thought I would.  Despite that, the marathon was a great success and I have to give a great amount of thanks to everyone who joined in and supported the stream, you guys are awesome.

First I'll say a couple of words about the marathon itself.  Over a 24 hour period you guys managed to donate a total of £315 to the Alzheimer's Society so congratulations to you guys for pulling off something that awesome.  As much as I enjoy playing these games, the fact that you guys are willing to take part in the charity side of things and donate make it all so worth it, so once again thank you so much.  It was a lot of fun but incredibly hard during the final few hours and I probably wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for the continued support of the fans and the dudes with me in the room.  There's actually a lot of bullshit in Final Fantasy 7 that I'd forgotten about and the pace of the game is actually a lot slower than I remember.  As enjoyable as it is I think there is a lot of nostalgia that comes into play when people give it such high praise.

This in turn got me thinking about the remake that was announced during the last E3.  There's a lot of weird stuff in Final Fantasy 7 that I can't see translating very well to a full HD release with fancy new graphics.   The biggest example of this off the top of my head is the part in disc 2 where Cloud pulls a Sonic the Hedgehog and does a loop the loop through a tunnel to reach a certain part of a dungeon.  I just can't see how that scene would look with today's fancy realistic graphics and this is just one of the more extreme examples.  There are plenty of parts in that game that I tried to envision in PS4 mode that would just be weird and after a while the idea of a remake started to worry me. 

Still, we should kind of know what to expect since we had Advent Children and Crisis Core give us a vague idea of what the world of FF7 looks like on modern hardware.   Square have a very hard line to walk between making fans cream their pants or making them scream betrayal at the top of their lungs but only time will tell which side of this fence we will be on.

Final Fantasy 7, despite all the silliness that goes down, is a great game and if there are any RPG fans that have somehow not played it then I fully recommend it.  Maybe play it in more manageable chunks than 24 hours but it's a damn good game and it's well deserving of the following that it has.  Just don't take it so seriously or else you run the risk of getting pissed off with it and putting it down.  Take everything with a pinch of salt and just enjoy the rich world and great combat and you're in for a good time.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

No Hopes for Mario Maker

Everyone likes a bit of the old Super Mario Brothers, classic platforming at it's finest.  Even the newer 3D games still manage to be enjoyable experiences and I can't really think of a Mario game that you could flat out call "bad".  Maybe there are a few mediocre ones but generally speaking they are all well made and fun to play.

So then Mario Maker gets announced and at face value this sounds like an awesome idea.  It's a simple set of tools for making your very own Mario games and levels and the idea of a bunch of Mario fans coming together and making levels for each other sounds awesome.  We've seen other games like it that were pretty fun to play such as Little Big Planet and now this is essentially that but with Mario instead of weird sock puppet things.

Except then I started thinking about the concept and my inner pessimist got the better of me and now the idea of Mario Maker make my eyes roll.  You see, custom Mario levels and games is not really a new idea, it's been going on for a hell of a long time except people didn't have a nice easy tool to do it all with.  Oh no, to this day exists a thing known as ROM hacking, which is where truly dedicated fans will take a Mario ROM, change all the bits around and make their own game with it.  The most famous example of this is probably Kaizo Mario World which is essentially a Mario game only for the most hard core of experts

Something may seem a little different to how you remember
The thing is, ROM hacking isn't exactly easy so it meant that the people who took up projects like this probably knew these games pretty well and had a good idea on how to make a decent level or two.  Now every Tom, Dick and Harry can make a Mario level so just how many idiots are we going to have giggling it up at the fact the recreated 1-1 from NES Mario or the hundreds and hundreds of shitty throwaway stages that are going to be uploaded by complete tossers who don't know what they are doing.

Mario is a big name and it attracts a lot of people which is great, it's always good to see more people gaming but most of these people probably know fuck all about designing a good level in ANYTHING let alone Mario, myself included.  It's going to suffer the same problem that Little Big Planet did with it's 100 pre made courses that will be awesome, a few really good user generated levels and then thousands upon thousands of complete trash stages that most people will only play for about 30 seconds.  Hundreds of people just recreating levels from other games in Mario Maker which may be slightly entertaining but the whole point of this shit is to create something original so if you are the kind of person looking forward to that then power to you but I sure as fuck won't be wasting my time with that crap.

There's a reason I'm a blogger and a speed runner rather than a game designer.  I'm trying to design my own fucking shitty RPG Maker game right now and every time I finish a map for a dungeon I can't help but get sad over how fucking crap it probably will be once I implement it.  Most people are probably in my boat and because of that I probably won't be dropping money on Mario Maker.

Please Mario fans, prove me wrong and then laugh in my face, I'd love it if you did that and I'd buy the game full price in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Final Fantasy 6

Well, my apologies for being slow as fuck but last night I finally beat Final Fantasy 6 on Stream so it's about that time where I come here to say a few words about it.  This won't be a particularly long post since it's FF6 and basically everyone ever has played it but I'll take some time to share a few thoughts.

As far as classic 16-bit RPGs go, Final Fantasy 6 is up there as one of the best and for damn good reason.  Everything about this game is awesome from the story to the game play and the reason it took so long to beat wasn't because of a lack of enjoyment but I just got heavily distracted by speed running other things.

Your adventure starts out with a group of rebels battling an empire but this part of the game really only serves as a sort of lengthy tutorial for what's to come.  Eventually you hit a point where shit hits the fan really hard and after following a plot rail for a short time you are eventually just given a big giant world to explore and it's entirely up to you where to go.  The open nature of this game is quite a stark difference to a great deal of the series that has you on a plot rail for 99% of the game and then a few side quests near the end.  This game is more like, plot rail for about 50% of the game and then everything else is side quests and that's awesome.

Maybe it's because I'm a huge dumbass but I needed quite a lot of help to find various things hidden within the game.  There are characters in the various towns and cities to give you hints but some things I don't see how you could work out without some dumb luck.  I'm sure there are some really hardcore players that could tell me how I'm wrong on this point but as a casual player I found the entry to a few of the side quests really weird.

Once you are done with a few of the quests you end up being pretty much unstoppable however that doesn't make the final area of the game a walk in the park.  The game makes you split up your team into 3 groups so if, like me, you were only really focusing on 4 members in your main party the final dungeon ends up being a real pain in the butt.  However I'm going to label this as a good thing because it forced me to put my thinking cap on and really plan out how I was going to progress rather than just gear up and stomp the final dungeon with no effort at all.

Aside from the story, great game play and fun flow and pacing the game also sports some excellent music and great visuals.  You can tell whoever put the sprites and tile sets together for this game really wanted to get the most of that SNES cart and I guarantee you that almost every gamer worth their salt knows at least 1 or 2 tracks from the OST just from off the top of their head.

So, onward to Final Fantasy 7 and while you're waiting for my marathon to start why not go give FF6 a whirl yourself?  If you've not played it already then you absolutely NEED to go do it, right now.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

"Clicker" Is a Genre Now?

So recently I've seen a few of these games pop up on Steam and there are probably tons more of these kind of games on mobile devices but I can't help but ask why the fuck does anyone bother with these kind of games?

Clicker, as far as I'm aware, started out a few years ago with a silly browser based game called Cookie Clicker.  I'm not sure if this was the first "Clicker" game but it was the first one that I caught wind of that had any kind of attention given to it.  Admittedly, I played it for a while and even made a blog post about it which you can find if you use the search function at the top.  But after a day or two of leaving it idle in the background to gather cookies things got dull and me and my fellow cookie clicking buddies never touched or heard of it again.

Then recently I start seeing all these fucking clicking games on Steam.  Clicker Heroes, Time Clickers, Tap Tap Infinity and most recently Sakura Clicker which comes will full on paid DLC.  This is just on Steam alone but I dread to think how many of these kind of games are on iOS or the android store.

I just don't see the appeal of these titles and who are these people playing these games to warrant multiple people to develop their on spin on "click the thing until the numbers get bigger".  They are the very definition of a pointless time sink and even stupid mobile games like Puzzle and Dragon have more worth as games than these piles of stupid bullshit.

Just thinking about Steam alone, go and check out their free to play section and there are quite a few actual fucking games that you could be playing instead of these stupid clicker things.  Hell, You Have To Win The Game alone is EASILY more worth your time than any of the 4 clicker titles I mentioned two paragraphs ago and you should go play that instead.  At least that is an actual game

I KIND of see the appeal of these kind of thing as a browser based game that you fuck about with during boring moments at work, or as a mobile thing that you can fuck with for a few seconds while you wait to cross a road or something but Jesus Christ, Steam.  You have literally thousands of games, some of them free and some of them less than £4 that you could be playing and instead there are people choosing to play this brain dead crap?!

Oh well, guess I really shouldn't judge, but these games will play themselves and I like to actually have some input towards doing well in a title, but that's just me.