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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jump, Jump, GO!

Ladies and Gentlemen.  We are witnessing a rebirth.  A new era is emerging.  One that is familiar, yet all the same new.  And crowning.  Ok, bad phrasing.

Thesis: We have entered a Rennaissance of Platform Gaming.

I myself have been guilty of saying things like, "God, I'm so sick of all these First Person Shooter Clones!  Doesn't anyone have anything NEW to make?!"  And even the other day I overheard a lady gamer (yes, I know ladies *plural*) say that everything these days is just Wolfenstein 3D.  Which is obviously not true.  And yet it has the spark of truth.  There seems to be a tendency towards Shock and Gore over Quality in games these days.  Or at least I used to think that was true....

The other night I was so bored with *UNNAMED MMORPG* that I could spit.  It was time to move on.  So I booted up Xbox live and downloaded the little engine that could - SUPER MEAT BOY.  And holy hell am I having fun.  It's amazing how something so simple as jumping from platform to platform toward an endpoint can be so challenging, invigorating, and charming.  All it takes is some inspired art/scoring, fun and appealing character design, and well crafted game mechanics and suddenly I'm transported into another era.  The era of my youth where nearly EVERY game was some variation of the platform.  Super Mario.  Wizards and Warriors.  * THIRD GAME WHICH FULFILLS LIST CRITERIA*.

But let's think about the last couple years and what Xbox Live Arcade itself has been able to unleash on us.


And then there's Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii.  I'm sure I'm forgetting other examples as well.

Here we have a genre which has more or less languished since the dawn of FPS.  And I'll admit I was not the least bit sad to see it go.  At their peak, platform games seemed to get redundant, repetitive, and retarded.  Nothing was progressing.  I was tired of getting knocked into water by an offscreen bat I couldn't anticipate coming at me.  Why can't my superpowered character survive a little H2O?  I can shoot lazers out of my eyes, but I never learned to swim??

But now we are seeing FPS begin to languish inartfully (I take it back Portal, I take it back!!), and new technology and the ease of promoting indie DLC has brought us innovation we never saw coming.  And I'm loving it.  Bring it on, developers.  Bring me quality and joy the likes of which mine eyes have not known for well on 15 years.  Give me back my childhood.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Ok, Blizzard, cover your ears.........   So.  I've been playing the Rift Betas.

KEEP THEM COVERED.  You know what, BLIZZ?  Just leave the room.  It would be better if you just left.  Yeah...

Ok. Now we can talk.

Needless to say I'm feeling a little guilty.  WoW is a jealous mistress. It's like I'm cheating on Bo Derek with Brooklyn Decker.  Well not Bo Derek NOW.  But you get where I'm going.  There's a new, upgraded version of the hot bikini clad blonde in my life and her accessories are... ample.  Wow is classic.  It is fun.  It is streamlined.  It's what all the kids are playing.  But like dear Bo it's getting a little... OLD.


Sheesh.   But this here Rift MMO may just give the old ball and chain a run for it's money.  The graphics are not per se a mighty artistic achievement but they somehow feel more adult. More mature.  This of course will not keep any 'Fap to Mudkips' comments out of trade chat, but still.  It somehow seems an improvement.  And the talent trees are definitely deep and flexible.  Sorry Bo.  Having a healing melee class with a pet and the possible potential of tanking in the future shows a lot of options.

However.  This does make me a little nervous that they will be sacrificing multiplayer game difficulty in order to provide an individual player with options.  For example, in WoW  there are basic cookie cutter specs that just work.  If you break too far away from the tree you are going to have fail DPS or Healz or Threat.  By giving people a lot of options, there is a lot more room for error in speccing in Rift.  So.  Do they make encounters easier in order to accommodate diversity, or does it become even MORE complicated to put a well balanced team together for raiding? I don't know.  But I am interested to see how this all plays out.


While my little blue shammy troll is ... meh... CUTE?

Brooklyn Decker has some gnarly tats.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Elder Scrolls. Yessssssssssss.

Dear Bethesda Software.  Please take all my money.  Drain all funds current and future from all accounts, and in exchange, let me live now and forever in the sweet fantasy paradise that is the world of The Elder Scrolls.  My experience with Oblivion was, to say the least, immersive.  When the game was finally over, I started 2 or 3 new characters which I played 20-30 hours more just to try and sop up a bit of that sweet fantasy crack and mainline it into my cerebrum.  It didn't work, however.  Way to leave 'em wanting more.

This game is right up there with Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid 3 for me.  Indelible.  Inescapable.  Like a lover.  Like a child.  Like a mother.  An experience that at its conclusion leaves you feeling at once sweetly fulfilled and utterly bereft. You see it's face in every stranger's.  At every bus stop billboard.  In the bottom of each cup of coffee.

There is a VR future where you enter this realm Matrix style and live forever in the harsh and unforgiving wilderness, both a fugitive and a hero.  I want to live long enough to see this day.  To incorporate my being fully into the stratum and yield to its sweet succor.  Embrace me, dark yeti.  Make me whole again.  I yearn for your coarse and cruel instruction.

I mean, just look at that picture.

I want to go to there.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


OK.  I loves me some hot avatar action.  Yes, I want to date your avatar.  I want to marry it IRL.  But Bayonetta.... FFS.  Hot pseudo asian chick with glasses whose very weapon is not only her hair but also the only thing she is wearing on her entire body?!?!  Check please.

I tried to play this game.  I tried to judge the design, the controls.  All I find myself doing is desperately seeking that perfect moment when the hair pulls back to reveal the heroine in all her glory.  But it never comes.  (TWSS)

I can't focus on the game itself.  And so I die.  And die.  And die.

I'm passing this review off to Linus.  I can't take it anymore.  I need to go let off some steam...


Ok, Braid.  We get it.  You are awesome.  You are a gorgeously rendered, masterfully scored work of art breathing new life into the 2d platforming genre as never before.  Time control?  Yes Please!  Saving the princess?  Hallelujah.  She's in another castle?!  You're killing me.  The game is difficult, innovative, rewarding.  In short a gem.

But this ending.  Can we talk about this MindF@#$ of an ending???


You build me up.  You teach me.  You guide me.  You punish and redirect me.  Your love is righteous.  And all the while you promise me that my efforts will be rewarded.  With love.  The sweet and gentle love... of a lady.  The love of my life.   The princess.  I fight and fight, and yearn and yearn.  All for she.  My preciousssssss....

But then!!!

The mallet drops.  My world is shattered.  I am naught but a pawn of my own deluded psyche.  She wants me not.  She yearns not for my touch but for the utter eradication of my presence from her sight, indeed her entire life.  There is another beau that has caught her eye.  A haughty, handsome knight with whom the likes of I could never compete.  My heart is rent asunder.  I am the villain.  The foe.  The creepy guy who jumps on your balcony at night and says, "Surprise!  I'm your stalker!!  Will you MARRY ME?!?!"

Ok, guys.

I get it.

You're artists.  Innovators.  Reinventing something olde and classic in a way that is not only fresh but inspiring.  But let's take a look at your target 'demo'.  This is a gamer's game.  DLC only.  INDIE.  The kinds of people who are going to buy and play and LOOOVE this game are people like myself.  Hardcore.... nerds.  We identify with this character far too much.  I've heard of catharsis, but I don't really want a game that helps me piece together that the reason cute girl in the purple tank top keeps looking at me and moving to the next aisle over in the supermarket is not because she is flirting with me, but because she is doing the exact opposite.  She is fleeing for her life with a cart full of ramen and dismay.  Shame on you genius game developers.  Shame on me for trusting you.  I went from feeling like a guy who thought he had a chance to Captain Creepy.  For shame.

Sexy Toons

Much has been made around the office of my tendency, nay visceral need to create avatars which are A) Female and 2) Sexy.  To some this appears to be a trend toward virtual transvestitism.  These are the same type of people who say things like "You are what you eat.  QED you are an @$$HOLE."  And from this I can only conclude, JAMES, that you dine primarily on a diet of Gay Demon Pie!  Nothing wrong with that choice, just don't pretend you didn't make it.  But I digress.

The benefits of Sexy Female Avatarism are many and rewarding.  First off, baddass chicks kicking evil tail are hot.  See - Kill Bill, Sin City, and The Main Reason People Read Any Comic Books At All.  Second off, the posterior view.  I like video games.  I like killing bad guys.  I like the backside of a woman who is killing bad guys.  It's a three-fer.  Third - Ask any guy if he would be a hot chick for a day and you know what he'll say?  Hell yes.  Do I need to spell out why??  VIP access to the facilities, my friends.  This is why girls own so many mirrors.  I know I would.

So, does this make me a girl?  No.  Does this make me a cross dresser?  Not at all.  Does this make me a loser who doesn't know any girls outside of the workplace even though I keep trying to talk to that bendy Yoga girl at the gym where I don't really work out but really just go to view the buffet of flesh?  Probably. Definitely. Yes.