Tuesday, 30 August 2016

[beastsofwar.com] Arcade Card Games

While I've talked about these kind of games on the blog before, namely Sengoku Taisen my friend who has been living in Japan for about a year and a half has written a post for his website about these games.  First you should go check out his post at this link


In that article he talks about Sengoku Taisen, Code of Joker and the until now unmentioned (on this blog) Kantai Collection Arcade.  If you want the low down on the latest schoolgirl warship simulator that has become a bit of an arcade sensation since its released then check out his post because I'll be uploading some game play footage from Kantai in the very near future.  I still need to sink my teeth into that game a little more before I produce my own thoughts on it but for a brief overview then that's a good place to start.

I've not had much time to click around that website but it looks like a pretty good place to go for information on table top games, so if you're into that then give them a bookmark, seems like a cool place.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Final Fantasy 8

A while ago I finished Final Fantasy 8 and I didn't actually say anything about it, so I thought I'd make a little post summing up what I think.  Before we get started I'd just like to point out that Final Fantasy 8 is probably my least favorite of the classic Final Fantasy games.  A while ago I probably would have said it's the worst one but now that Final Fantasy XIII exists that's kind of hard to say with a straight face.

If I tried to type up my entire thoughts on the story it would take far too long so lets just say I don't like it.  It's not any more retarded than you're average Final Fantasy plot but there's certain events within that story that are just a bit frustrating.  For example all the characters grew up together in the same orphanage and then forgetting or Irvine not being able to shoot the sorceress in the face because the sorceress was actually the woman who raised him and he somehow forgot.  Or even worse, when Rinoa is floating through space, essentially fucked and Squall goes out to save her with essentially no plan.  Instead of dying horribly from a lack of oxygen, alone, in the middle of space the game is suddenly like "OH WAIT SUDDENLY BIG ABANDONED SPACE SHIP!".  Not that other games in the series haven't done similar bullshit plot points but couple this with what is essentially the most annoying, unlikable cast in series history and it grates just that little bit more.

I have read the theory that Squall is actually dead at the end of disc 1 and while I've also read people punch holes in it I quite like that theory.  If Squall is dead and the whole game is just his self serving death dream to make himself feel better then maybe I could forgive all the plot retardation.  Makes the story kind of sad really since he spends the first disc being an aloof emo git only to dream in his last moments about how he's actually a hero to all and has tons of friends.

The game play is equally annoying but I have to admit that on this time round I enjoyed it a lot more than I have previous occasions.   The big problem for me isn't the junction system of the fact that GFs are essentially useless outside of their menu abilities but it's the level scaling.  I hate games with level scaling and I'll talk about that in another post but levelling up is essentially useless in this game.  This is because that not only do enemies scale with you but stat progression is linked entirely to the junction system so you don't really need to level up at all.  The idea of levelling up in RPGs is to raise your stats, but you raise your stats by (tediously) drawing or refining magic from enemies and items and then linking it to stats for a boost.  I switched out a party member from Rinoa to Selphie over half way into the game and despite her being half the level of Zell and Squall she still had max HP and strength out the wazoo.  Once you get some of those refining abilities from your GFs combat becomes nothing more than an annoyance and you find yourself wandering around the whole game with no encounters on and groaning at every mandatory battle, which is not good design.   That said, the system is so easily gamed that there is some enjoyment to be had in beefing yourself up really early and just rolling the whole game like it's nothing.

Like Final Fantasy 2, Square tried something a little different here and it didn't quite work out which is a shame really.  After replaying I can say that my hate for Final Fantasy 8 has subsided a little, I still think it's bad but its not the steaming pile of horse shit that I once pegged it for a while ago.  I wouldn't play it again, at least not for a LONG time, but this time round it was mildly enjoyable.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Bye Bye Gawker

A lot of people like to talk about the progression of news media such as how it all started with newspapers then moved to television and now we're in an age when we can get most of our news via the internet whenever and where ever we want.  So just like newspapers with their tabloid shitrags and TV with their gossip shows and whatnot, the internet of course has its own low brow bottom of the barrel bullshit with sites like Gawker.

What happened is that a while back Gawker posted a sex tape of famous wrestler Hulk Hogan and when they were asked to take it down they refused.  Mr Hogan then proceeds to sue the shit out of them and wins this case and now Gawker have to cough up some insane amount of cash.  Of course, the guy who runs the place, Nick Denton, can't afford that so Gawker have gone tits up and have been bought by some company called Univision.  A post of their website indicates that some time soon, Gawker will be ceasing operations

So what relevance does this have to the world of gaming?  Well if you're familiar with bullshit spouting cesspit Kotaku, they were one of the many websites that were under the Gawker banner.  It hasn't been confirmed the same way it has on the main Gawker website but hopefully Kotaku will be going the same way as Gawker Media and fucking off forever.

It's incredibly satisfying to see this happen because for a long time Gawker has been one of the sites with the most bullshit for a long long time constantly spouting social justice bullshit or re-posting other peoples work and presenting it as "news".  Back in my high school days Kotaku was nicknamed Slowtaku for being so massively behind on the times when it came to delivering stories but since the whole topic of Social Justice became the main controversy for gaming, they jumped on that bandwagon so hard that I'm surprised the wheels didn't fall off. 

I think one of their most famous examples of jumping on the social justice bandwagon was around the time when Dragons Crown came out.  One of the writers called the game sexist and offensive because of one character having large breasts so the artist responded with this

This is just one example but that website is full of know-nothing writers spouting their bullshit day in day out and hopefully we can see it perish.  It sucks that people may be out of a job but that's what you get for being a bullshit spouting, click bait writing hack for so long.  Fingers crossed that Kotaku vanishes and becomes nothing but a bad memory in the next few years.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Coin Spiral

I stopped seeing these things around in my teens so maybe if you're younger than about 24 you might have never have seen these things.  I know they aren't video games but my schedule got all crazy busy again so I'm just going to write something quick that I remember from my childhood.

Arcades weren't exactly a common thing for me as a young British lad.  The only proper, full on arcade that existed to my knowledge growing up in England was the London based Sega World but even that eventually shut down and faded into obscurity.  Up north where I was from arcades didn't really exist at all per se.  There was still coin-op but they existed as small banks of machines found in bowling alleys and cinema lobby's.

What England had an awful lot of though is shitty little side attractions.  The most common one are those coin dozer things where you have a big thing pushing a large amount of coins towards the edge of the play field and you put a 10p in the machine in the hopes that once that gets added to the pile it'll push a bunch of coins off and allow you to play more.  Aside from that, grotty UFO machines filled with cheap, unwinnable kak and similar games were available but the machines were usually in bad condition and you wouldn't want to touch the joysticks or buttons anyway.

But there's one thing that really sticks out in my mind from these shitty mini-arcade things and it's the coin spiral bank thing pictured above.  The idea of this thing is that you'd put a 10p piece inside the slot and just watch the coin spiral round and round on its side into the hole.  Nothing electronic, just simple physics made it work and there was nothing more to it than literally wasting your money. 

As a small kid though coin dozers and UFO machines used to piss me off.  These things that LOOK like games but are actually just cheap excuses to steal your change.  Proper arcade games, even coin guzzling titles like House of the Dead etc. didn't piss me off because even though they were out to take as much money as possible, blasting things with a light gun was a ton of fun for me when I was small.  This thing however managed to be nothing more than a colossal waste of change and it wasn't pretending to be anything more than just that.  You'd put 10 or 20p in it, watch it go and then it was done, you got your little thrill and the thing wouldn't ask for more or tempt you with unwinnable prizes.

Anyway I don't really know what I'm fucking on about, I just remembered these existed during my work day and wanted to write something about it. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

Kratos Is A Shit Character

So recently I've been playing the God of War HD Collection for the PS3.  God of War was a game I played a long long time ago during my high school days and while I enjoyed the first two entries in the series I never played Chains of Olympus on PSP (despite now owning 2 copies) or God Of War 3.  I'm actually surprised about how little I remember about these games.  As far as the first game in concerned I remembered everything pretty vividly up to the point where you go and get Pandora's Box and then it almost feels like I'm playing it for the first time once again.

Kratos, the lead character of these games, while not as universally recognizable as something like Mario or Sonic is a stand out face in the world of gaming.  God of War is a big popular IP for Sony and people who are at least a little into games have probably seen Kratos at some point.  Hell, even at the last E3 people were losing their shit for fat dad Kratos since there was a new God of War game on the horizon.

However what my current play through of the first game has led me to feel is that Kratos is just a bit of a shit character.  Now the shitness of his character doesn't reflect on the quality of the games, they are good games, but Kratos is a completely unlikable prick. 

His story seems to be that he was a general in the army who was pretty good at killing things but in some battle against barbarians he got his shit kicked in.  So just as he's about to get his head smashed with a hammer he calls upon Ares, the God of war and Ares comes down, saves the day and makes Kratos his bitch.  So Kratos does his bidding for a bit but one day wanders into a village and "accidentally" kills his own family.  Pissed that Ares made him do that, Kratos vows to kill him and so begins the first game in the series.

Granted that I've not finished my re-play of the first game yet so maybe the ending will make me rethink this entire post but it feels like they were going for some kind of redemption plot line.  Kratos wants to kill Ares, get his life back so he can stop being a prick.  But it's impossible to feel sorry for Kratos since being a prick was all he was made to do, with or without Ares and my bet that if that whole silly family killing thing hadn't have happened then he still would have carried on in his hobby of draining things of their blood.

Playing as a hilarious asshole can be fun, there's nothing wrong with that, but trying to throw in certain story aspects to try and make us feel sorry for a character who is just a prick and nothing more feels silly.  Like I said though, my memory of the first two games is fuzzy at best and my lack of experience with the third means that there may be things that they have done with the guy to make him a bit more likable but the first games attempt is quite frankly, laughable.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Why Walking Simulators Are Insufferable

A genre that we have touched on this blog previously is the Walking Simulator.  An example of Walking Simulators would be things like Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable, Gone Home, Everyone's Gone To the Rapture or Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs

If you've not played any of those games then allow me to describe to you what a walking simulator is.  In a walking simulator, there is very little to no actual game play.  No challenge, nothing trying to stop you achieve your goals and very little in terms of mechanics outside of "use WASD to move and mouse to click".  The idea of this genre is that it's trying to deliver a good story to you by giving you an interactive environment for you to explore and discover the plot for yourself.

Now there's a number of reasons I find these games completely unbearable not only to play, but to hear people talking about.  The big reason that sticks out in my mind is that they aren't even games really.  A game is something that has mechanics, win and fail states, a goal to achieve maybe even some competition, things like that.  These games don't do anything like that, it's sort of like walking through an art gallery but all  the artwork was created by piss-gargling twats who think they are being deep.  "Digital Art" would be a better way to describe these pieces of software rather than video games.  For some reason the fact that they are marketed as video games just sort of upsets me.

Another reason that I hate these games are the people who make them and the people who play them.  Let me just show you a picture of the people who made indie trash heap Gone Home

These people make me sick, that fucking tit on the sofa with his beard, floppy hair and trendy glasses.  Then next to him that woman with that "ooh look at how much better than you" I am look on her face.  I bet she looks down on ACTUAL games and laughs with all her shitty indie friends about how cultured and artistic they are.  Of course I'm being needlessly mean but this is the impression a lot of these developers give off but even worse than poncy developers are the fans of these games.  All of them are insufferable little twats who think that walking simulators are one of the best things to happen to all of gaming.  Criticising a walking simulator will lead to them going on and on and fucking on about how "you just don't get it".  People joke on the Internet about games being "2deep4u" but fans of this genre tend to take that idea a bit too seriously.

However the thing that really gets to me about these games is the fact that it just takes a giant shit on actual talented developers who not only care about making games but giving us great story experiences as well.

Just look at Silent Hill, a game with a story line LEAGUES better than anything these poncy cockrockets have come out with and yet still manages to be an actual game.  Hell, the story is pretty much what this game is famous for but there are still enemies trying to kill you and puzzles for you to wrack your brain over that keep in well within the land of gaming.

Or what about Shadow of the Colossus?! A beautifully crafted game where you have to kill a bunch of mountains in order to selfishly save some dead girl.  However the more you play, the more you start to realize that maybe you aren't the hero of the story but instead some selfish prick taking a bit shit all over nature just because you're a bit lonely.  You start to feel an actual sense of guilt and doubt, as if what you're doing isn't quite right but you push on anyway BECAUSE its a game and you have to reach the end.  Then when you actually get to the end you're left feeling like complete shit BUT despite the effect that the story may have on you, you still had a good GAMING experience.  When you get over the guilt of being a prick you can play time attack and things like that and enjoy the game from a mechanical standpoint rather than an emotional, story based one.

Or hell, what about Kamaitachi No Yoru

This is an old Super Nintendo title that isn't much more than a fucking book on a cartridge.  Yes, a game that consists entirely of TEXT pisses me off significantly less than the walking simulator.  This is because while Kamaitachi is nothing but text, there is a mystery at its core that simply playing the game and picking text paths willy nilly will not give you the answer for.  You have to pay attention to all the details of the story and then even when you figure out who committed the murder you THEN have to figure out how exactly to move through the game in order to get the best ending.  It's like watching an episode of CSI but instead of the criminal being caught at the end you have to re-watch the episode like 4 or 5 times catching every little detail and then YOU have to decide which bits of evidence to use and which people to talk to in order to catch the guy.

These are just three but there are tons of games like this, tons of games making a great effort to marry fine storytelling and gaming mechanics in order to create unique and memorable experiences.  Then these fucking idiots come along, make some shitty story and put it into some shitty interactive environment and then crown themselves the kings and queens of artistic gaming.

Go choke on your Vente Starbucks you insufferable bastards.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Bloodbath Kavkaz

Good lord what the hell is this game?  If you go on Steam and have a look at the store page you may be led into believing that this is some kind of Hotline Miami clone and while you'd be right from a game play perspective the content of this game is so unhinged that it feels like it was created during some kind of acid trip.

Developed and published by Dagestan Technology and released on Steam in 2015, Bloodbath Kavkaz is essentially a Hotline Miami clone of the most shameless variety.  You play from a top down perspective and control aiming with the mouse as you shoot your way through a bunch of retro looking levels.  The difference between this and Hotline, at least on a surface level is that while in Hotline EVERYTHING is sprites, the enemies and characters in this game either look like they were drawn in MS Paint or they have weirdly realistic faces as if someone took a photo of their corner shop owner and slapped it on every bad guy.

Where the game starts to differ though is in the story.  I would love to tell you what the story is but it's so fucking insane and the translation so badly done that I can't even really describe it.  You start the game being told that you need to go and kill a guy called Jafar and then from their you embark on acid trips and take orders from sentient pineapples and all sorts of other weirdness.  I imagine during development they just locked the writer in a closet with a large pile of hard drugs and told him that he wasn't allowed to leave until A) He'd written the entire game and B) taken all the drugs

While the game has certain points of being so bad that it's funny, for the most part Bloodbath Kavkaz is painful to play.  The collision on levels is atrocious, hit detection can be strange the sound and music design assaults your senses and sort of leaves you dazed and upset when you finish a session.  Occasionally a level will just break and become unbeatable but on the other hand I had one occasion where my death resulted in a level clear and took me to the results screen so it seems as if the game doesn't even understand its own rules.

Bloodbath Kavkaz also has some DLC called Khovan Revenge but I've heard it's short and doesn't have any English text.  Although while Kavkaz has a "mixed" rating on Steam while Khovan Revenge has a "mostly positive" so either people are trolling hard or they actually made the follow up game a little better.

Either way, there are plenty of short, cheap, not shit games you could get your hands on without wasting your time with this tripe.  I don't even remember how I came to own this game but you could do yourself a favor by keeping it out of your library.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Not Dead

If you've been paying attention then you may have realized there hasn't actually been all that much content recently.  This is due to a mix of a number of things for example my work is currently in it's busiest season of the year and due to this I come home every evening as a worn out husk in no condition to even be standing up let alone writing articles.  Also Pokemon Go came out in Japan which has eaten up a quite frankly embarrassing amount of my time but that's something we'll talk about later.  These were the two big reasons but other things have prevented me from really doing anything more than the occasional stream.

I thought I'd touch base with this short article because a lack of content is a sure fire way for the Alzheimer's Society to get no money and we don't want that.  Luckily, the lack of posting DOESN'T mean that things haven't been going through my head in regards for stuff to do once I find time and energy.

For example, the Ozma donation incentive for the Final Fantasy 9 stream was met so you can be sure that I'll be suffering my way through hours of chocobo hot and cold in order to bring you that epic battle.  Also the Resident Evil marathon where I play the first 4 games in the series back to back has also been met and as mentioned in a previous post the stretch goals to extend that to 5, 6 and 0 have been now added to the donation page too!

The other piece of good news is that in Japan there's a holiday known as Obon coming up, which means that I essentially have a week of bugger all to do outside of gaming and the occasional bit of cooking for the missus.  This means I'll be able to catch up with my shit and HOPEFULLY have a daily stream of content to you guys once more!

Thanks for the understanding and continued support!