Thursday, 31 March 2016

What Happened To Resident Evil

Resident Evil is one of those series that, among many others, has fallen almost completely into the trash.  This is a shame because despite its absolutely retarded plot and writing, they were amazing games.  

Resident Evil, released initially in 1996 in Japan under the title Biohazard, was the game that arguably put survival horror on the map.  You played as one of the members from S.T.A.R.S, a crack team sent to investigate some bullshit but things quickly go bad and you find yourself trapped in a zombie infested mansion. 

Resources like health, ammo and even saving items were limited so it was all very tense.  Once you progressed and even more horrible creatures started to stalk the mansion things got really frightening, at least the first time round. 

The game later spawned 3 sequels and a prequel that were great and a whole bunch more that aren't so great.  It all started to go downhill with Resident Evil 4 

Now don't get me wrong, RE4 was  great but it caused a shift in the series and arguably the genre that turned it to complete shit.  

The intensity of the first 3 games was gone and we were left with more of an action game with bombastic set pieces rather than a survival horror game.  They still made an effort to keep it at least a little horror but with RE 5 onward it's like they just gave up 

Now we are left with mediocre action games and a series of shit movies.  The originals have been ported and remade out the ass so it's easy to go back but I can't help but feel it's a shame that we will probably never get that old survival horror that we started with ever again 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Video Game Movies Don't Work

So I'm pretty sure this is a point I've made before, but with news of the Warcraft movie on the horizon it's something I feel like I should repeat.  Video game movies do not work, they have never worked and I feel that until I'm proven otherwise, will never work.

Now, does this mean that you can't look at something like the trailer for the Warcraft movie and not be excited?  Well no, if you're a normal punter then you have every right in the world to be excited, I mean their making a movie of fucking Warcraft for God's sake, just expect all that excitement and wonder to fade away once you actually get in the cinema.

What I'm not going to say is that video game movies don't work because of a lack of talent.  Unless you're Uwe Boll, chances are your going to hire some semi decent actors and have a director that has his head screwed on straight, it's just that these kind of movies are doomed from the get go.  This is because video games and movies are two VERY DIFFERENT ways of delivering entertainment and they don't really translate well from one to the other.

Silent Hill is a great example of this because it's a series that I hold so close to my heart that I can easily point out things that are wrong or things that don't work when it's done within a movie.  You see, Silent Hill games are legitimately scary because the effect of the horror when delivered through the game is two fold.  On one level you're scared by things like the sound design, the visual design, the monster design, things in the game that are designed to generate that feeling of fear.  However you're also getting the sense of fear on another level because those things are happening directly to you in a way.  From a game play standpoint you're terrified because you're managing health, ammo or you might be worried about losing progress.  What Team Silent did with the original games is marry those two ideas to create a truly frightening experience.

When you put this into a movie you lose some of what makes Silent Hill special.  Sure, there's freaky shit happening on the screen but you're nothing but a passive observer.  The story must go on because there's still run time in the movie so you essentially lose half of the fear factor.  Silent Hill is sort of a bad example in one respect because the writers idea of "horror" for the movie was a load of crap but I'm sure you see where I'm coming from.

Not only this, but you have to condense a game, which will usually run for 8-10 hours on a first play through in a movie run time of about 2 hours.  I'm sure it's no easy task to adapt something of that length and as a result people who know these games games backwards and front are left disappointing and angry because things were changed and adapted in order to suit the run time of a film.

The same is true for Warcraft, if you just want to see a movies about orcs and humans bashing each other with swords then I'm sure you'll have a good time but all the people who are invested in that series, which is a well fleshed out series, will be left wanting and probably upset.  I'd love them to focus on just a small part of the series and do it really well but even then you'd upset people by not having the same scope that the game series has built up over the years.  The movie is titled Warcraft, not Warcraft: <insert major story event here>.  Even with the title alone you've set the scope too wide and are setting yourself up for failure. 

The same is also true the other way round, video game movies generally suck ass because recreating that experience into a 10 hour game that feels world £40 is really hard.  Not only that but they pretty much have to be made while interest for said movie is high, which means that development is usually rushed and the games suffer mechanically as a result.  It might have been a little easier back in the day with things like Batman because all you had to do was make a platformer with a couple of nods to the movie that you were basing it on but now it's much harder and as a result video game movies are usually regarded with some kind of scorn or are just flat out ignored.

One day I hope I'm wrong about all this and they make an awesome video game movie or vice versa but to me it feels like the mediums are just too different from each other and when you factor in time, cost, manpower and a bunch of other stuff it almost seems futile to try.  All these adaptations suck but I admire peoples willingness to try

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Marathon Mayhem!

So as you may have noticed, the donation page is getting near its goal so in an attempt to get people to throw a few more pounds to the charity, I've added a few new marathon donation incentives. 

First, a complete list of donation incentives can be found here

The new donation incentives can be found at the bottom.  A whole bunch of retro gaming themed 24 hour marathons where I grab a system and playing nothing but that for a whole day.  The games haven't been decided so I'll be asking everyone for suggestions if and when they get met, donators will get more of a say in what games are picked so donate for those if you want to see some old school goodness.

Aside from the new incentives, don't forget all the old ones too!  Incentives for small series marathons of things like Resident Evil and Donkey Kong Country or longer series marathons of things like Megaman.  Also some crazy stuff like Guy game marathons and 2 Players 1 Controller with my buddy as well as other miscellaneous things!

If you wish to donate for any of these incentives hit that donate button on the right hand side of the page, donate a value and then leave the incentive you want your donation to go towards in the comment.  You do NOT need to donate the entire value of the incentive alone, so let's say an incentive is £50 you can have 5 people donate £10 for it to happen so even if you can only donate a little to the Alzheimer's Society then you can still get something for your money.

Finally, just to clarify, I don't see a penny of any money donated.  BTMyDonate is a UK service for charities and people doing fund raising to act as a tracker so people can make comments to their friends or people they know trying to do a project for a good cause.  I have never and will never ask for people to donate directly to my bank account, if you have enough money to do that then I'd rather it go to a good cause.

Thanks for the continued support!  Let's raise some dosh for Alzheimer's!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Silver Ball Planet Osaka

I realize that content has been a bit thin on the ground recently, job stress, large backlog and a packed schedule has made it hard to find time to write stuff for the blog.  One of those things taking time away from me was a trip to Osaka where I checked out a place called Silver Ball Planet, a huge pinball hall somewhere in the middle of what my friend called the "American village"

I know that strictly speaking Pinball isn't video games but its always been one of those things I've enjoyed.  Granted, my experience playing on actual tables like this is extremely limited but I've always enjoyed the odd stint on a pinball video game and when I do get a chance to play on actual tables it's always an absolute blast.

The place itself is this huge sort of warehouse looking place filled with all sorts of Pinball machines.  Some are insanely old while others are surprisingly modern.  The one that struck me the most was a machine based on The Walking Dead.  I didn't snap a pic myself but here's a image of the layout I got off Google

I mean, I've not looked too deeply into its production but my guess is that it must have been made and released at somewhat recently with the rise in popularity of the comic and TV show.  I find it cool that despite pinball being a somewhat niche thing, they are still making new tables in the modern day, that fact makes me kind of happy.

On the flip side there are machines made from the god knows when old times but the fun thing about these machines is that they were 10 yen per play

Most of the machines were priced, as one would expect, at 100 yen per play but if you were running out of coins then there were a few machines like this priced at 10 and 50 yen per go.  There was one machine that was 100 yen for 4 plays for some reason and if, unlike me, you're good at pinball then one coin can last you a long time.

One of the more video game related things that surprised me a little bit was that sitting next to the Tron pinball table was the goddamn Tron arcade game

It felt a little out of place surrounded on all sides by pinball tables and I was a little busy so didn't have a chance to try the thing but it was cool to actually see an arcade cabinet this old in the flesh.  I'm already planning my return trip to Osaka to play more pinball so this will probably be the first thing I try on my return trip before I start playing any actual pinball.

It doesn't matter if you're a pinball wizard or a piece of shit who just smashes the flippers and hopes for the best, Silver Ball Planet is a fun and cheap day out that I think anyone could get at least some degree of enjoyment out of.  Pinball is one of those games that's easy to get into but has qualities that make it hard to master.  There was an advert in the place for a beginners tournament which made me curse the fact I don't live in Osaka because I would have loved to check that out.  Anyway, to round out this post here are two pictures of the Super Mario tables.

The small shitty looking one
The bigger, more impressive table.  Notice the Space Invaders table off to the right too!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Vita Multiplat Frustrations

I'm one of these weirdos that actually enjoys and gets quite a lot of use out of my PS Vita.  Probably more so than my 3DS because Nintendo are a bunch of idiots who put region locking on their systems, but if you ask me, the Vita has a lot going for it.

That said, I'm having one problem with it recently and no its not the obscene amount of pervy anime games, I don't mind those.  It's the fucking PS4 multi platform titles that are pissing me off.  Some good examples of these would be Dragons Crown, Exist Archive and Yoru No Nai Kuni.  Buying games used to be so damn simple and now I have to do a whole bunch of research on the different versions because of shit like this.

I always find myself being torn when trying to make a purchase with these kind of games.  Do I want the title on the Vita so I can play it on the go, or do I want it for my PS4 so I can play it on my big ass TV and from the comfort of my nice couch.  Do I want I want portability and convenience or do I want comfort and easy access to streaming the title in question?!  I just don't fucking know anymore

You know, the one easy answer to this would be allow me to play my Vita games on my TV, kind of like how you can use the Vita as a secondary screen for your PS4 but the other way round.  Well this was a viable option for a while with the Vita TV but the thing fucking bombed and was discontinued before I could get my hands on one, so fuck that solution.  Plus I couldn't stream from the Vita TV so it only half solved the problem really.

I get why Sony are doing it, not many people bought the Vita overseas as far as I can tell so they want to make their titles available on both platforms so no one misses out.  It's a kind move but in their kindness that have filled my purchases for these systems way more stressful than it needs to be.

Maybe I'm being over dramatic for the sake of making a blog post about this "issue".  That said, it is annoying and I wish the situation wasn't like this.  Props to Sony for making sure everyone can play their games without owning the Vita, because in the west that thing kinda sucks, but goddamn it's annoying for me.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Final Fantasy Record Keeper First Impressions

So usually I'm the kind of person who will immediately dismiss a game released on the phone as casual garbage that isn't worth playing.  I don't know what came over me last weekend though but in a fit of extreme boredom at home I decided to download and try out Final Fantasy Record Keeper. 

What I got was actually a pleasant surprise.  Final Fantasy Record Keeper is sort of like a Final Fantasy all stars game where you collect the characters from the various games and then have them fight in strings of battles in order to progress through the games history mode.  Game play wise that's about it, all you do is fight, but for something that I'm fiddling with on train rides and things like that it works pretty well. 

That said, there are a TON of levels and a TON of characters.  Aside from unlocking characters you also have to collect equipment which also have a level and can be made stronger by using items or other equipment.  Each level also has a hard mode which is known as a "force dungeon" but at time of writing I've yet to try that feature out yet.  The game also hosts a number of events which will allow you to get high level items or unlock characters.

While it plays like a sort of typical mobile RPG, there is that sort of Final Fantasy polish to it and it all ends up being rather compelling and hard to put down.  So far my only criticism of the game is that the energy that you need to do dungeons is far too limited and it forces me to stop playing.  Generally speaking I run out of energy before the end of my 20 minute train ride between my house and work place, which would be annoying if I didn't constantly carry a portable system with me.

The game is free so instead of me harping on about it you should just go play it for yourself.  There is a lot to it, a lot more than you'd expect from such a basic idea and exclusive to mobile.  It seems that the Final Fantasy mobile games do actually have some degree of quality (apart from that All the Bravest thing) because my friend tells me that Final Fantasy G Bike is also pretty good so maybe that's worth checking out too!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

[Mediasplat] The Death of Classic Survival Horror

I went and wrote another thing for the guys over at Mediasplat!  Go check it out!

This time I'm talking about how classic survival horror is dead and the whole genre is essentially full of bullshit now.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Your Controversy Is Bullshit

Just who the fuck is this sexy sideways beast?  Well his name is Mark Ankucic and he has quite the story to tell.

Basically, he's an Aussie games writer that got fired from his gig for showing some kind of support for GamerGate, a can of worms I'm not about to get into.  Anyway, after being dropped from his job he set up a pen name known as Sandy Beaches and starting contacting a number of publications to try and get his pieces published.  What kind of pieces was he trying to get published? Well stuff regarding sexism in games and gaming feminism and his shit was ate up by a site called The Mary Sue. 

Despite much frustration with his pieces due to being misinformed and over exaggerated it turns out that everything he wrote for The Mary Sue was complete and utter bullshit.  Sandy Beaches was his little experiment to see how much bullshit he could get away with as long as he was posting as a feminist gamer and the results are pretty staggering.  You can read his story in much more detail here

One of my favorite lines from his article is this

"And that’s where the rub is. You write a hundred headlines claiming something, and people who don’t know anything about the actual topic will believe it."

That right that there has been the problem with any gaming controversy.  It doesn't matter if it's sexism in games, violence in games or table top being satanic, it all stems from the fact that the people writing and commenting on these things don't know JACK SHIT about the topic they are writing about.  They just read what other people have written and then parrot those misinformed opinions without doing any actual research of their own.

But what about these people writing the first few headlines?  The ones that all the idiots go ahead an believe without doing any research of their own?  Well it's one of two things.  One is that they are actually fucking stupid enough to believe their own shit or the second is money.  Writing click-bait controversy because they KNOW that there are enough uninformed idiots in gaming that will eat that shit up and happily jump on a bandwagon.  All those clicks will generate plenty of dosh and give the writer a nice fat paycheck .

Let's say you're writing a review for a game, this goes double true if you're writing a review of some obscure JRPG or something.  You COULD review it straight up but unless it's a big name game, chances are you aren't going to get all that many clicks due to a general lack of mainstream interest.  Throw in some controversy though and BAM! clicks for days as people flock to your review in order to find out just how "terrible" the game is.  Call it sexist or claim that it will one day fuel the next big school shooting and people will be retweeting, commenting and sharing out the asshole.  KA-CHING.

So next time you read an article about how X game is sexist or Y game is too violent, just stop and remember the story of Sandy Beaches.  Just think how much that shit is being spun to fit a current controversy for clicks.  If you do however just genuinely believe that shit, please go and educate yourself, the truth behind these gaming controversy's are never as terrible as certain publications make them out to be.