Features <GO TO REVIEWS
Fantastic news for Wii owners came today. After I whined a couple of weeks back about there being very little on the horizon for Wii owners, Nintendo have today confirmed that long-awaited titles Xenoblade and The Last Story (previously only available in Japan) will be given a European release. Xenoblade will also be made available to American gamers under its original title, Monado: Beginnings of the World. The confirmation was made by a Nintendo of America representative, delivered to Destructoid, and comes right of the back of Operation Rainfall, a social networking campaign launched by fans and covered by gaming sites, to have the titles localised. Other titles mentioned in the campaign were Pandora's Tower and Earth seeker. Most gamers agree that it's about damn time these games saw a Western release, and that Nintendo have been infuriatingly stubborn about localisation (see: Disaster: Day of Crisis). However, after a lackluster E3, this news is certainly encouraging, and seems to indicate a level of discourse between fans and company that is rarely seen.
UPDATE: Nintendo responded to Operation Rainfall a few days later, stating on Twitter: "Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say 'never,' but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans." At this point, Destuctoid still stand by the story. So, either Nintendo has yet to confirm, or the games will only see a European release in the foreseeable future. I'll keep you posted. [COMMENTS]
21st June, 2011
After almost a decade and a half in development hell, the elusive Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released onto an unwitting public. The sequel to 1996's Duke Nukem 3D was dogged by delays, poor management, layoffs, and unrealistic expectations, and has been regarded as vapourware for the past few years, until it was suddenly released last week. And after 14 years being made, critics are wondering what was done during the other 13 and half.No-one expected the game would be a masterpiece, but the lack of ideas; the lack of polish and the endless load-screens is really quite shocking. The 360 had better looking launch games than this.And of course it's all compounded by the obnoxious adverts for the game, proclaiming the "King is back, baby!"
I guess my own disappointment comes after reliving these old trailers of the game: One from 1998, and another from the 2001 E3 conference. Why couldn't we get these versions of Duke Nukem Forever? They actually look more exciting and innovative than most current FPSs, let alone the stale, generic, souless turd that is Duke Nukem Forever. I mean, even the voice acting is better. Imagine if this had been released before Halo. It could have changed the entire trajectory of the shooter genre. Supposedly, it was 95% complete, but then a new game, like Half-Life or Doom 3, was released and some executive at the top of 3D Realms (George Brossaurd) got jealous, and made them scrap the whole game to build something better. Maybe one day they'll release a ROM of it or something. So sad...
I'm seen a few different sites and bloggers actually trying to defend this game as some sort of 80s action satire, and that it's supposed to offensive and dated, and that's part of the charm. And to that I say: What satire? This game isn't making sly parody so much as it is simply referring to things in the most crass and unsubtle way imaginable. I don't think this incarnation is even in on the joke anymore. Something can satirise a genre and still be a great entry into that genre (see: Kick-Ass). This game does neither. There's nothing charming about the protagonist of Duke Nukem Forever. In fact he's thoroughly witless, and at times, downright detestable. He just cribs lines from Duke Nukem 3D, and all that does is make you wish you were playing that game, instead of this steaming mess. And my God, the misogyny. I mean who wrote this garbage, a repeat sex offender? There's nothing charming or witty about shooting a girl because she's been impregnated by aliens, and then whispering "it's better this way". That's just psychotic. They took a fun, action hero schtick, and turned him into this leering, revolting prick. [COMMENTS]
11th June, 2011
I was little let down by Nintendo offering at this year’s E3. They didn't reveal any new games for the Wii; just another Zelda trailer, which actually managed to look worse than the 2010 trailer. The 3DS lineup looks great, with a new Super Mario and Luigi's Mansion previewed, but I'm not a really handheld gamer. And Nintendo's newly unvealed console, the WiiU, is intriguing, but that won't be out for at least a year, and even then the software lineup will be thin. The system features an iPad-like controller, in which players can interect with a game in interesting ways, such as viewing the game environments from different or magnified angles, via a large touch pad. The demo's on show indicated full high definition, which is nice. Certainly interesting things could be done with it, but the same was said for the Wiimote. Nintendo supported the technology and experimented with it, but third-parties didn't. I hope Nintendo releases a more traditional controller as well, so that it doesn't alienate multi-platform developers. Third-party support seemed strong though, with Assassin's Creed, Ninja Gaiden, Splinter Cell, and other HD properties promised in the future.
Regardless, I care about the here and the now, and there is nothing on the horizon for current console owners (except for Zelda). What makes it even worse is that Nintendo are sitting on fantastic, original titles (Xenoblade, Last Story, Fatal Frame 4, etc.), and simply refuse to localise them. It looks like 2010 was the Wii's prime, and now it's all a bit downhill. I mean, there is NOTHING on the horizon for Wii owners. Sony and Microsoft had pretty lackluster showings as well. Overall, a disappointing E3. [COMMENTS]
25th May, 2011
I found this interesting article about why it’s still not cool to admit you’re a gamer, and I found it quite interesting. I'd actually have to agree with most of its points. I'm not really embarrassed to tell people I play video games (though I don't think I'd refer to myself as a "gamer"), it just doesn't come up all that much. And there's no point talking about video games to someone who doesn't play them, so I keep my mouth shut.
In my Modern Texts class at uni, I've considered bringing up a particular game during discussions, but the truth is, compared to films and literature, most games are extremely poorly written and badly acted. Most popular games are just aping cheesy action movies, so there's very little chance of innovation. Even Heavy Rain, which many gamers hold up as some kind of proof of progress, is really just the equivalent of some crappy airport novel. But a game's narrative is as much about gameplay as it is about cutscenes, and that dynamic is difficult to explain to non-gamers. [COMMENTS]
17th May, 2011
With the impending release of Battlefield 3, the growing hatred for the Call of Duty series has reached a boiling point. Gamers (including myself) are continually flawed by each gameplay video of this upcoming title, with a host of gaming bloggers and YouTubers declaring Battlefield 3 the “COD killer”. While I feel COD gets a harsh wrap amongst gamers, I can sympathise with their distain. Like Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, COD has become blockbuster franchise, with new installments released every year. Since the developers have been using the same engine for the past 4 years (a modified version of Doom 3) many gamers see the series as little more than glorified map packs. The popularity of the series has also turned off a lot of gamers, with its fanbase seemingly composed of ADD afflicted, prepubescent brats. Not to mention the diva-like behaviour of their core studio, Infinity War, and the almost James Bond level villainy of their publisher, Activision. So I thought I’d offer some thoughts as why the original Modern Warfare game was so highly praised, back in 2007.
After a decade of WWII shooters, gamers finally got a fresh, modern take on the FPS. Advanced weaponary; an emphasis on stealth and strategy; much improved enemy and ally AI; and a real sense of speed and desperation were all part of the games appeal. Modern Warfare was also much less linear than previous shooters. You could try an outflank the enemy via a number of routes, make use of explosives as distractions, or you could just run and gun; all required a degree of skill. Also impressive was the dialogue, which (while implausible to an actual soldier) had a sense of realism to it; and of course the voice-acting was top-notch for the time. And of course the graphics and level design were absolutely gorgeous for 2007, and still hold up today. Most importantly, however, was the multiplayer. It was simple enough to learn, but required weeks and months to master. The use of kill streaks encouraged practice and strategy; and the perks and guns were well balanced. The idea of prestige also helped balance the combat; as skilled players were working with less advantages. Many reviewers and gamers at the time saw Modern Warfare as the spiritual successor to Counterstrike, and to an extent they were right.
So, overall, it was the games fresh new FPS mechanics and excellent multiplayer that made it popular and critically acclaimed. While this has faded over the past few years with the avalanche or Modern Warfare clones and sequels, I feel that it is still a quality game that deserves its popularity. I think the main reason Call of Duty inspires such fanaticism is because, for many kids, it served as their main introduction to video games. And like most of the newly baptised, they see the world in very black and white terms. Call of Duty is their saviour, while its rival Halo, is damnation. The tourists will follow its long decent into oblivion (see: Sonic series), while the proper gamers will expand out into other games, and maybe start to look back on all of the games that influenced Call of Duty. Modern Warfare 1 and 2 are fine games (maybe not entirely original, but certainly enjoyable), however this third installment is just silly. I thought the series was supposed to be covert warfare and intelligence gathering, not a global conflict engulfing multiple nations. What's MW4 gonna be, an alien invasion? Actually, I could be down for that. [COMMENTS
3rd May, 2011
Apparently Sony posted a message that “an outside party” may be responsible for the PSN outages (which could last another couple of days). And this message was posted by the Anonymous Facebook page:
"Take a break from online gaming for a while... it will help your skills, your health, and your emotional levels, which by the way are a bit out of order if they are being shackled by the PSN being down. We have no qualms about our actions, even though it may affect fellow anonymous or supporters... we hope they understand the bigger picture."
Obviously this doesn't take away from Sony's poor handling of the situation, but as someone who's pretty indifferent to Anonymous, this kind of pisses me off. If it's true of course. I wouldn't care so much, but this comes just after the release of Portal 2, Mortal Kombat, SOCOM 4, and the Infamous 2 beta. Here's a link to the article.
UPDATE: Over a month later and PSN is finally back and running. Sony has lost billions in profit and branding, and along with gamers everywhere, is keen to hunt down the hackers responsible. It’s still unclear whether Anonymous was responsible, or if was a splinter cell claiming to represent the group. Regardless, Anonymous’s reputation is almost as damaged as Sony’s. The hacking of American credit details have even raised the ire of U.S. congressmen. On the plus side, Sony is offering two free games and a 30-day PSN+ subscription, as part of their “Welcome Back” package. [COMMENTS]
20th April, 2011
So I started playing this game about a week ago, and I was really enjoying it, but I was kind of disappointed how bananas and lives weren't really as important as they were in the original DKC games. The original game in particular forced you beat about three levels at a time, before you could save your progress, and lives reset to 4 once you turned off the console. In DKCR however, you kept your lives; you could buy more lives; and the game saved automatically. The actual gameplay was fun and as challenging as the original, but it felt like some fundamental part had been taken out of the original experience. I didn't feel the same desperation to complete a level. I wasn't hunting down every banana and life balloon, like it had the cure for cancer in it. I was dying plenty by the 3rd and 4th world, but by then I had wracked up about 50 lives, and over 400 coins. They all felt meaningless, and my checkpoint was never threatened by a sudden Game Over screen.
Then, I think it was the 5th or 6th World, the tide started to turn dramatically. I don't wanna say the difficulty got turned up to 11, but the challenge increased just enough so that getting a checkpoint was tough enough that I needed to hold onto it. My lives started to fetter away like dry leaves. I found myself on single-digits, and finally got my first Game Over screen. I was annoyed, but at the same time invigorated that the game had finally started to fight back. This was a real challenge now, like the platformers of old. In fact, by world 7 and 8, I'd say the difficulty surpassed any of the original games and many of the great platformers of the NES/SNES era. By worlds 7 and 8 I was having to buy 20 or 30 lives a level, just to secure the KONG letters. It was brilliant, and I'm glad Retro managed to create such a fun, gorgeous, and challenging platformer, out one of my favourite gaming franchises.
On a separate note, however, whoever designed Time Attack in this game is a real jerk. Don't get me wrong, I love the game to bits. In fact it's probably my favourite Wii title behind Super Mario Galaxy 2. But the Time Attack stages just piss me off, especially for an obsessive completist like me.
First of all, why have the timer continue to run after you die. The timer should reset to what it was, after you passed a checkpoint, or back to zero, if you're back to the start of the level. This design cue just makes no sense, and seems to be there just to infuriate the player. It means that if you die, you have to pause and click "retry". There's no point even having a checkpoint in the level, if the timer continues from what it was when you died. It just makes NO SENSE!! It's tough enough to race through a stage with no errors, but you can't die once, which is essentially impossible on some of the later stages.
Which brings me to my next problem, the times are incredibly tough to achieve. For the early worlds, sure you can beat a level without dying but making it under the time limit my take a few hours. But for worlds 6 onwards it seems to be an exercise in masochism. You never know if you would have made the time, because I die by the half way mark. The only later levels I can complete in Time Attack are rocket or mine cart, since it's impossible to speed up or slow down. Everything else is just too tough.
And lastly, if you thought the gold medal was hard enough to aquire, there's a secret "shiney" gold medal, that you have no idea what the criteria for getting is, and never will because it's impossible. You might have to shave 1 second off your time, or up to 20. Now I'm sure there's master players out there who can do all of this, but I'm not one of them. This was a tough game to complete and since I managed that I can call myself a good platform gamer, but this Time Attack would take weeks and weeks of playing to accomplish, and I just don't have the time. Even though I love this game. It just irritates me. Sigh... [COMMENTS]
19th March, 2011
I beat Black Ops last year and I actually just bought Modern Warfare 2 a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I much prefer MW2. The visuals are crisper and cleaner; the levels are better designed and more detailed; and the weapons and gadgets are much cooler. The campaign in BO is probably more interesting and certainly longer, but I felt it was too linear, with too many quick-time events, like the dev's were funneling you along this prescribed path and you were just going through motions. The same could be said of MW2, but I felt there was more freedom and interactivity. The environments were certainly much bigger. The actual plot of MW2 is pretty preposterous, but still quite fun with some great set pieces. Like the part where you're in Washington and an EMP blast takes off all the power, so helicopters start falling out of the sky. It's pretty silly, but still fun.
MW2 also has Spec Ops, which are short missions that you can complete solo or in co-op (online and split-screen). I feel like this makes up for the short campaign and I actually had more fun with these missions than the actual narrative. Co-op is a must. BO doesn't have Spec Ops. Instead it has zombie mode (think Left4Dead), which is also quite fun in co-op, but it gets a little boring and repetitive after a while.
As for the online, I also prefer MW2. Some people have complained that BO is more balanced in terms of perks, weapons and killstreaks, but that hasn't been my experience. Maybe it was worse last year, after the game was released, but I think a lot of campers, noobtubers and hackers have moved on to BO, while the more serious games have remained. I've had the game for about 2 weeks and I'm averaging about 20 kills a match with the UMP. Maybe some people will find it unbalanced, but I'm enjoying it. I will say the sniper quick-scoping can get pretty irritating and every now and then you'll come across a noobtuber (someone who only uses the grenade launcher, and resupplies its ammo with the One Man Army perk). Both of these issues are apparently fixed in BO, so that might be why it's preferred. I also feel the levels is MW2 are easier to get around. Some of levels in BO's felt way to large and cumbersome. Although, apparently camping in BOs is trickier, so that may sway your opinion towards them. I will say BO was much easier to find opponents for, whereas MW2 takes more time for some modes (like Search and Destroy) and occasionally you'll lose the connection. So that also might be a reason to get the newer installment. Although if that's the case, you might as well wait till MW3. [COMMENTS]
13th February, 2011
I can’t seem to figure out the appeal of these re-released game packs. The ones I've seen just include a bunch of new maps/costumes that can be downloaded online, anyway. Am I missing something? I'm assuming you're a huge fan of the series because you're planning on getting the DLC before even playing it, but that also means you're going to have to restrain yourself from buying/playing the next installment in that franchise, possibly for 12 months. It's like a strange kind of torture. Sure you'll save money, but you'll be playing a game a year after it mattered. For good or bad, this is never an issue for Wii owners. The day Zelda comes out, I'm on it like stink on a monkey.
If I was going to be cynical; I’d say it’s just an attempt to get money out of the consumer by adding maybe an hour of extra gameplay. It goes towards the argument of releasing a game before it is truly finished, which is a pet peeve I have for this generation. Some sites have even nourished a suspicion that this content is already present of the disc, and that you are simply paying to unlock it. WHat are your thoughts on the issue? [COMMENTS]
4th January, 2011
Recently I've noticed how little I actually use the TV speakers while playing games. I always use headphones, even for movies. I find that it creates a much nicer atmosphere; it's more immersive, you can detect all of the subtle sound queues that would be lost in speakers, and it blocks out unwanted noise. It also helps you focus a lot more on what is going on on-screen, since the audio isn't being filtered. I suppose if I had a surround sound system it would be even more immersive, but those are a couple of hundred dollars at least, whereas a good pair of headphones is only $30-40. Also, I live in a dorm, so I can't really be blasting Mario Kart through my speakers at 2 in the morning.
You don't actually need an audio jack in your TV to set up headphones. You just need to plug a red and white cable into the audio-out jacks on the back of the TV. Then, in order to connect that cable to a headphone cable, you need to buy a little metal thing that can receive a plug at each end (Freudian slip). I can't for the life of me remember what they're called, but I just explained that I wanted a wired headphone setup at my local electronics store (Dick Smiths [more slips]) and they gave me the cable and the little metal thing. It only cost $12 and $4 respectively.
Now, the only thing is that, on this setup, the volume will be at a set level. It doesn't matter whether you mute the TV or turn it up to 100, the volume on the headphones will remain at a medium level. In order to control the volume on the headphones, you need to buy another red-white audio cable and plug it into the auxiliary input of a stereo. Then plug the other end into the little metal thing. Now you can plug your headphones into your stereo and control the volume via the dial, or you can unplug you headphones and listen through the stereo speaker. I guess it depends on the setup of your room, or whether you mind a few cables, but apparently a wired connection has a much better sound quality that wireless. [COMMENTS]
15th December, 2010
Has anyone noticed that department stores like K-Mart and Target refuse to hook up their video game displays using anything higher than composite cables. The Wii and 360 don't seem to suffer too badly, but if you blow up video from a PS3 onto a widescreen LCD, using composite cables, then things are going to look nasty. I was playing an Infamous demo the other day, and the graphics seriously looked like they were pulled straight out of Grand Theft Auto 3. It looked like Vaseline had been smeared over the monitor or something. I can’t imagine what sort of setups casual gamers have employed. Seriously folks, invest in some component or HDMI cables. You’re console will thank you for it. [COMMENTS]
16th October, 2010
That's a tricky one. Obviously GoldenEye 007 is the more influential game, as it created many of the conventions of modern day first-person shooters, and practically revolutionised the genre, but being a 12 year old game, it holds up nowhere near as well as Metroid Prime does. GoldenEye has a brilliant multiplayer and an engaging, challenging single-payer experience (certainly longer than contemporary incarnations like Modern Warfare). Unfortunately, as FPS's are the dominant genre these days, it pales in comparison (in terms of visuals, controls and considering its generic plot, it lacks generational reach). Whereas Metroid Prime, despite being overtaken in the graphics and gameplay department, is still one of the most unique and atmospheric gaming experiences in history. It rises above the technology of the day (like Ocarina of Time), as a truly great sci-fi story. What's also impressive is how unique, detailed and interconnected all of the environments are. Most shooters are divided into levels, while Metroid prides itself on creating a single alien world for the player to explore. Metroid Prime is especially significant for how unique each room in the game is, making exploration and backtracking much more appealing. So, my vote goes to Metroid Prime. Both games are excellent of course and a must for gamers interested in the history of the genre. The Half-Life series acts as something of medium between the two games, employing modern weaponry and objective based missions, but in a single unbroken environment with platoforming and a sci-fi narrative. [COMMENTS]
1st October, 2010
Now that we’re in the homestretch of 2010, a sad thought occurs to me. There is very little to get excited about on the horizon for the Wii. Apart from the new Donkey Kong and Zelda (which do look brilliant), I'm kinda apathetic to every upcoming Wii title. Epic Mickey could be good, but the E3 demonstration was pretty dull. The 2D section looked fun, but the 3D sections were very unimpressive. I guess nothing is ever going to live up to that incredible concept art we first saw. I thought the original Conduit was rubbish, so the sequel is gonna need some stellar reviews for me to even consider renting it. Same goes for Sonic Colours. I couldn't care less about that shameless cash-grab known as GoldenEye. Every video I see is a bunch of Activision spokespeople telling us how a remake of a 15 year old game is gonna blow us away. Having played and loved WaW and MWR, I know Black Ops will be great, but I'll probably just buy that for the PS3. I don't care about Mario Sports Mix (or whatever it's called), and while Kirby's Epic yarn looks gorgeous, it's not really my cup of tea (probably give it a rent). Also, what’s the deal with the Wii Motion Plus. With the exception Wii Sports Resort and few third party titles, it seems to have been all but abandoned. Very disappointing.
On the flip-side though, DK in the hands of Retro is like a dream come true, and I've adored Zelda since first playing Ocarina of Time. 2010 has been such a stellar year for the system, but 2011 has very little on offer at the moment. I just hope some exciting new titles are announced at the next Gamescom or E3. Can anyone think of any other games that have slipped my mind? [COMMENTS]
12th September, 2010
The voice-acting in Corruption wasn't stellar, but it was perfectly serviceable to the plot, and more importantly it was short and to the point, or played over gameplay. In Other M, characters we don't care about just drone on and on about nothing. Which brings me to the worst part of Other M - they have wrecked the character of Samus. What was once a strong, stoic, resourceful woman, has degenerated into this pathetic little school girl, pining after her superior's affections. Since when did Samus need permission from a bunch of mindless grunts whether she could use her weaponry. And what's with all the gratuitous framing shots? This is the same person who's single-handedly saved about half a dozen planets in the last decade; who's driven the Metroids to near extinction; who's known and feared by Space Pirates across the universe as The Hunter. These neanderthals should be groveling at her feet. And why on Earth is she afraid of Ridley? She's destroyed him countless times. He should be terrified of her.
The gameplay is good. It's very action-heavy and the game fails to introduce any new weapons or items, but the controls work and the environments are sleek. The morph-ball seems entirely perfunctory, and the soundtrack is pretty forgettable, but the boss battles are excellent. I was annoyed by how little exploration is required by the game, since this is a key part of the series. The graphics, on a technical level, are better than they were in Corruption. But as for the level design, I'd pit any of the 3 Prime games up against Other M. Other M has very little going on within its levels, unlike the Prime games which are overflowing with detailed architecture, crumbling ruins, complex mechanisms, and even little maintenance robots going about there business. Other M has none of this, despite spending a lot of its time within space stations. It isn’t bad a bad game, if a little short; it just doesn’t really feel like a Metroid game. Nintendo of America really should have bought it some writers to rework the script, otherwise just don't even include it, because it spoils the rest of the game. [COMMENTS]
7th September, 2010
So I got the Metroid Prime Trilogy for Christmas last year. I beat Prime 1 (one of my fave games of all time) in about 7 days, with 100% scans/items). And then moved on with great anticipation to Echoes (which I had never played). Sadly though, I didn't find it nearly as engaging an experience. It took me almost a month of playing bits and pieces of it to complete the first level (Agon Wastes). I found the environments dull and claustrophobic (a far cry from the lush terrain and wide open spaces of Prime 1); the map confusing; and the spider-web type menus very frustrating (especially since I wanted to get 100% scans). I couldn't understand why I had to collect ammo, or retread the same areas in Dark mode, running from bubble to bubble like an idiot. I just wasn't having fun with it, but didn't want to skip straight to Corruption (which I had beaten back in '07). So after finally arriving at the second level (Torvus Bog). I saved it, shelved it, and moved on to other game like Red Steel 2, Monster Hunter Tri and Super Mario Galaxy 2.
A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided to give Echoes another go. And lo and behold... I loved it! Suddenly everything started to come together. I started noticing the incredible detail Retro had poured into this game; the stunning architectural design of the environments, as well as how everything in the game was so perfectly connected. The music got better; the enemies become more unique; and I started getting new gadgets like the seeker missile launcher and gravity boost (and later the Echo Visor and Screw Attck), rather than just rounding up all the inventory I collected in the first game. The Dark Suit also made Dark Aethena much more bearable. Retro had unfortunately picked the two worst gaming environments to launch Echoes - a desert level and a water level. But they made up for it with the third and final level (possibly my favourite stage in the entire trilogy) - Sanctuary Fortress. An enormous, glistening, mechanical city in the sky, inhabited by some on the craziest enemies ever burnt to a video game disc. There was so many times when I would just stop and admire some little detail of the game, like those little maintenance droids going about their business along the walls or the complex machinery churning behind various grates. Just marvelous art-design. I also really loved the spider-ball sequences. The ability to boost from one track to the next was a great addition.
Anyway, I finally completed the game today (with 100% scans/items, might I add), and contrary to my original impressions, I now consider it a towering achievement of a game. Prime 1 and 3 are still better, in my opinion, but not by much. Rather it stands proudly along side them, rather than awkwardly in between. I can see why it's not well-liked, but to anyone who tried it once and gave up, I highly recommend you give it another go. You may just love it!! Anyway, Corruption here I come.
Overall, this is an amazing compilation. Metroid Prime was already one of my favourite games, but the Wii controls actually make it better, and combined with widescreen and pro-scan, open up Retro's amazingly detailed alien world. Multiplayer was also a nice touch, but it would've been great if they could have given us a deeper mode for the re-release (i.e. more characters, challenges, online), but I can't complain. [COMMENTS]
12th August, 2010
This may be a bit of an old topic, but according to Wikipedia, the PC games Deus Ex, released in 2000, accurately predicted the destruction of the Twin Towers at the hands of terrorists. The image of the towers was apparently removed from the game due to texture limitations, but the idea of their destruction in the near future was still written into the games narrative.
I'm no conspiracy nut, but that's kind of amazing. People talk about these vague predictions made by the Bible and Nostradamus, when in fact a video game flat out stated what would happen the previous year. Unless... You don't think Al Qaeda was inspired by...? Anyway, I just thought it was interesting. I have yet to play the game, but it's received high praise, so I might check out Human Revolution when it comes out on the PS3. [COMMENTS]
It annoys that hell out of me that, this trailer from 2004, can still inspire such excitement in me, not to mention being far more visually and theatrically engaging, than the footage we saw for Skyward Sword last week. Now, obviously I'm half joking. I'm a die-hard Zelda fan and Miyamoto has more than earned my trust. This game will be a day-one purchase for me.
However, it still irritates me that graphically, the series has advanced so little since Twilight Princess, and seems to have become even less cinematic. Corruption, Galaxy 2, Red Steel 2 and Monster Hunter Tri are proof the Wii is capable of producing amazing visuals, so why doesn't Nintendo go full-gun’s blazing with its greatest franchise. I'm still really excited for the motion control mechanics in this game; I just hope we see something more exciting than Link's
*ACTIVATING FLAME SHIELDS* [COMMENTS]
14th June, 2010
Another year, another E3! Journalists and gamers flocked to
The star of the show, however, was Nintendo. I may love the Wii, but I can admit the last two E3 conferences delivered by Nintendo bored my to tears. This year, however, was all about pleasing the fans. Reggie gets up on stage, and BOOM introduces Miyamoto with gameplay demo for the next Zelda title, Skyward Sword. Technical issues aside (apparently the WM+ wasn’t calibrated properly, though floor demos work perfectly), the game looks and feels great. The visual style seems to be a mix of Wind Waker cell-shading and Okami water-colour, with developers apparently being inspired by French artist Paul Cézanne. Sword-play appears 1:1, with orchestrated music promised. Some, including myself, were disappointed by the how little the graphics had advanced since Twilight Princess (having been spoilt by the likes of Monster Hunter Tri and Metroid: Other M), though Miyamoto has stated the final product (slated for an early 2011 release), will look much sharper. After a quick casual detour with Just Dance 2 and Wii Party, we were back to core titles with the announcement of a GoldenEye 007 remake, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and (my personal favourite), Retro’s Donkey Kong Country Returns. We also saw an extended demo of Epic Mickey. The gameplay videos of Epic Mickey were a little mixed. The sidescrolling looked fun, but the 3D environments were a little dull. It’s a shame the developers have moved away from the awesome concept art released earlier in the year. Kirby and Donkey Kong were both brand new titles and look fantastic. Kirby has employed a sort of patchwork art style that is just stunning. The last third of the conference was dedicated to the Nintendo’s new handheld system – the 3DS. Technically, the system seems to be on par with the GameCube, but with a 3D screen that can be adjusted for depth and doesn’t require glasses. Obviously the 3D can’t be experienced online, but reports for the system have been universally positive. Titles shown included installments of the Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil series, as well as a new Kid Icarus game. Overall, a fantastic E3 for Nintendo fans. [COMMENTS]
24th May, 2010
It always irks me the way gaming sites talk about the GameCube as if it was a collosal misfire (“love it or hate it” sort of thing), and then turn around in the same sentence and glorify the Dreamcast. I think it might be because of how they treated their core franchises. Sunshine didn't live up to Mario 64; Donkey Kong was turned into a music game; Star Fox turned into a ground shooter; and they cel-shaded, and kiddied up Zelda (of course now it's considered one of the best in series). But Metroid, Smash Bros. and F-Zero all had incredible new installments, and of course the Pikmin and Eternal Darkness series' was released. More importantly though, the GameCube had brilliant third-party support (which the N64 and Wii sorely lacked). Check out...
17th May, 2011
It's weird how easy a level is in retrospect. Maybe it's just me, but I can spend hours banging my head against the same stage over and over, becoming more and more frustrated, making the same mistakes over and over, until every plastic object around me has been broken...
But then the moment I beat the level and that ecstacy and satisfaction washes over me, replaying that same level is a piece of cake. The two stages that come to mind recently were the last stage of Super Mario Galaxy 2 (where you can't take any damage and there's no checkpoints), and the Mile High Club in COD4, on the highest difficulty. All I can think of is that it's a confidence thing. Once you know you CAN beat it, you DO. It's a weird feeling. [COMMENTS]
29th April, 2010
I don't have the Wii Homebrew Channel, but for the most part I don't really have a problem with it. Now, obviously I'm against any form of piracy, whether it be selling burnt Wii games for chipped Wii's or downloading games yourself. I've bought every game I own, brand new. But as far as applications such as the Wii DVD player, media centre, and homemade games, I say go for it; be as creative as you want. The fanmade Quake and Super Mario War ports, for example, have been well-received.
And now that Nintendo has pretty much abandoned the Virtual Console (one of the main reasons I bought I Wii), I'd say emulators (on a TV with a Classic/GameCube controller) would be pretty cool as well. I may get the Homebrew Channel some time in the future; maybe when Nintendo’s next console comes out. If only to play the NES/SNES/N64 games like I'd dreamed back in 2006, and to have a self-contained media system (for movies, music and photos) connected to the TV. It seems to me if the Wii has the technology, why not use it. Maybe I'm wrong... What do you guys think? [COMMENTS]
18th April, 2010
With Casamassina and Bozon gone (and Hatefield colonising the NVC), combined with the steady decline of editorials and reviews on IGN's Wii section (having said that though, the Message Boards are still rad!), what are some good places to get your Nintendo fix? For news and discussion, I'd recommend GoNintendo and NintendoWorldReport, while GameTrailers have very measured and thorough video reviews. TalkRadar and Weekend Confirmed are two great overall gaming podcasts. Do you guys have any more recommendations? Add them to the comments section. [COMMENTS]
7th April, 2010
The game has it's problems, but the core fighting system they developed is surprisingly complex and creative. It’s a shame they didn’t include a multiplayer mode. An online versus mode could have been really cool. The AI enemies you fight, while occasionally difficult, can mostly be beaten via consistent combo attacks, but a single human enemy with the same abilities could have been a real challenge. Playing the game, an online mode feels like such a missed opportunity. It will be a while before we see another engine like this again. Despite its pacing issues and questionable level structure, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The cutscenes (pretty as they are) are cringe-inducing, but I found the gun and sword combat a really kinetic and engaging mix, that the first game promised, but lacked. The best way to play it is on hard (forcing you to use all of the different combinations), with a relaxed motion setting. With those settings, I found the game a fun little arcade/beat-em-up. Also, the visuals and soundtrack are very impressive, creating a great Western-Ninja comic book style, but again, the narrative is pulpy trash.
Red Steel 2 is somewhat in a league of its own, since so few games use Wii Motion Plus at the momment. Obviously Wii Sports Resort is as close as you'll get to the sword mechanics, but I'd recommend No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. It's got sword-fighting, a crazy cel-shaded visual style, but most importantly, is incredibly fun. Forget the original Red Steel though. It's a mess. If you enjoy the first-person shooter elements of Red Steel 2, then check out Modern Warfare Reflex and Metroid Prime Trilogy; and if you enjoyed the beat-em-up elements, then check out MadWorld (another stlish, gore-fest). [COMMENTS]
11th March, 2010
Having used Internet Explorer since the first time I went online, I instinctively find it the most familiar and accessible. However, last week I made the switch to the infinitely faster Mozilla Firefox. I managed to customize it as close to IE as possible; pages loaded in a flash, and even downloads and videos seemed quicker, so I was happy. However, it quickly became apparent that if I had too many tabs or windows open at once, the whole browser would crash, which was especially frusterating when writing e-mail. Apparently, Firefox hogs a lot of resources as well, and causes overheating if used at length.Does anyone have any other browser recommendations? What do you use? Safari and Chrome are okay I guess (though not as quick as Firefox), but I'm not too keen on the interfaces, or having all of my search history catalogued by Google. [COMMENTS]
4th March, 2010
When asked whether he thought video games were a legitimate form of art, film critic Roger Ebert replied that “[he] did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature” and that “the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art.” Ebert further argued that “video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.”
Whether I think video games can be considered art is a difficult question to answer, because no-one can really pin-point what art is. Roger Ebert thinks he has, but to be fair he also thinks Godfather part III is better than part II, and that Fight Club can be dismissed as "macho porn". All I can express is my own personal reaction to an experience, and there are games--The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, Metroid Prime--that have moved me close to tears; not through dialogue or story, but music and imagery, which I think requires much more skill.
No one medium can fall under the category of art. Very few movies, songs, or even paintings would be considered a work of art, and video games are no different. However, as comic book legend Stan Lee points out, when done right, video games almost become a gathering point of all the strands of art--music, storytelling, visuals, mood--and in this case, the viewer is able to experience these strands in a much more immersive setting. Then of course, there are games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Shadow of the Colossus, which may as well be films, because their gameplay is so incidental.
Look at the recently released Heavy Rain for an example of beautiful cinematography that film camera’s are incapable of creating, as well as a tense, layered, beautifully crafted story. Look at games like F.E.A.R. or Mass Effect, which ask the player to make ethical decisions, or even compromise their morality for the greater good. There are games like Killer 7 which deal with extremely adult themes, such a schizophrenia, terrorism and the political tensions between
Advances in technology and heightened ambition/competition in game development has started to open up more artistic avenues. It's a strange case where I think CGI has been more of a benefit to gaming than maybe to most movies. The visual convergence of video games and movies is already here. For example, apart from the 3D mechanics (which is apparently on its way), does a cutscene from Avatar the game, really look that different from Avatar the film? Some have argued that because games are focused more on gameplay and visuals, rather than story, they are inherently inferior to movies. But look at the films of Andrei Tarkovsky; they rely much more on mood and imagery, and seek to express ideas, rather than a simple narrative. In fact the same contention could be said of paintings, the original artform.
Art is entirely subjective, and will change as a person and their culture evolves. All we can express, is how something makes us feel; our reaction. In which case, video games have the upper hand, because we can sometimes spend 50+ hours living in a virtual world and interacting with its people. Rather than following some linear plot set out by an author or director, gaming worlds must be these huge, free-flowing experiences.
Roger Ebert is obviously an excellent writer and a respected critic, but he tends to bash all of the films I love, and dote over the formulaic. I know he's intelligent, and a huge lover of cinema, but he seems somehow trapped in the past. He's sour on great films when they're released, but then revises his opinion a decade later, when they're considered classics (see: Night of the Living Dead). I don't know... he just seems like the last person to take seriously, as to whether video games can rise to the level of art. Was not film itself once a new field of art? Did it not also take decades for its academic respectability to be recognized?
There are already countless serious studies on game theory and criticism available, including Mark S. Meadows' Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative, Nick Montfort's Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan's First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, and Mark J.P. Wolf's The Medium of the Video Game, to name a few. But what do you think, can games elevate themselves to the level of art? Have your say in the Forums, or on the comments section. [COMMENTS]
15th February, 2010
I have kind of mixed feelings about Microsoft’s Halo series. I was very impressed with the original Xbox titles, but I’m not sure how revolutionary they were to the first-person shooting genre (as argued by Molyneux), in regards to regenerative health. I felt it removed a sense strategy or survival, allowing players to just run and gun, and then duck behind a crate for a few seconds to heal.
On the flip side though, its foray into online competition was absolutely invaluable to contemporary gaming. The original Xbox Live network will end April 15, this year, with one final Halo 2 free-for-all. Later instalments of the series, however, have been less impressive, but one can forgive. Halo is now Microsoft's cash cow, and I kind of don't mind them wheeling it out every now and then. God knows Nintendo milks Mario and the Wii series for all they’re worth, but we get awesome games like Galaxy, Twilight and Corruption to balance it out. Halo is also the 360's only original property. Without it and they’re extensive online community, they're just a poor-man's PS3. [COMMENTS]
7th January, 2010
What's so good about Macs? Seriously I've never understood the attraction. People seem fonder of the Apple brand, rather than the device itself. And don't get me wrong, I think iPod's are one of the top 10 inventions of the decade, but I've always found iMacs extremely frustrating to use.
Small, and yet collectively significant gripes include...
However, the more fundamental design flaws are:
My brother bought an iMac brand new, last year, for about $1,500 and the hard drive died just last week. Luckily he brought the 2-year warranty, but who knows what he’ll do if it breaks again next year. He also lost all of his data, programs and iTunes downloads. To contrast, I bought a 4 year old laptop from my uncle around the same time, and it still works perfectly to this day. Obviously a lot of this is subjective criticism, but I was wondering if anyone else still prefers Microsoft’s product to Apples, in spite of current trends? [COMMENTS]
6th January, 2010
A difficult question, to be sure. For me, gameplay over graphics are a given. Although, the gameplay in Killer 7 was pretty weak, while the story and visual style were amazing. The best games I've played combine addictive gameplay with an engrossing story (Metroid Prime, Ocarina of Time), but that hardly narrows it down. What do you guys think? What interests you in a video game, and keeps you engaged? [COMMENTS]
20th December, 2009
I'm sorry to use such harsh letters, but if Nintendo announces its new console at E3 next year, I will be seriously pissed off. We've only had the Wii for 3+ years and all of the worth-while games it's produced can be counted on two hands, with many of them ports from the last generation. Don't get me wrong, I love the Wii and am happy with my choice, but so far it hasn't delivered a quarter of the promise it preached when it was released. Brawl, Galaxy, Kart were all top-notch Nintendo titles, but the motion sensor controller adds nothing to them. So far, only Corruption and a few solid third-party titles have truly implemented the WiiMote in any revolutionary sense.
If the Wii 2 is announced, everything scheduled afterwards will fall under its shadow, either to be forgotten in the no-man's-land between one consoles launch and another's decline, or ported directly to its successor. It happened with the N64 and it happened with GCN. This belief that Nintendo having a console of equal horse-power to its competitors would bring more third-party support is unfounded. The GCN was more powerful than the PS2, as was the N64 to the PSX, and yet we were continually shafted by certain developers. I may be in the minority, but I don't want to hear about Nintendo's next console until at least 2012. Not until we've had a Zelda, Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero installment, as well as some legitimate third-party titles, that actually make use of the motion sensing controls (such as the upcoming Red Steel 2 and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories). [COMMENTS]
3rd December, 2009
Recently, I've started to notice a lot of hostility towards the Nintendo Wii on gaming forums and message boards. Now console wars, juvenile as they are, have always been a beloved past-time for nerds, but as a Nintendo fanboy, I've started to feel a real visceral hatred towards my console of choice, not just from the self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers, but from actual websites and publications like IGN, GameSpot and Game Informer. I thought I’d address some of these criticisms here.
In my opinion a lot of the backlash against the Wii is levelled by the "hardcore crowd" who resent the huge influx of casual, female and older gamers it has brought in. It's like when someone follows a band from its humble beginnings, but then when they hit it big and everyone is in love with them and buying their albums, they feel a certain resentment that they’re no longer in this special secret club. In reality though, they ought to be happy that their favourite band has succeeded; the same way these gamers should appreciate how much Nintendo has strengthened the industry. Another factor stems purely from the control-scheme. There are veteran gamers out there who have played 10 minutes of Wii Sports, couldn't get into it, and have used that as a catalyst against all Wii titles. And finally, there's the childish console warriors, who take up arms against any console that they don’t own. Nintendo has played the underdog since the N64-era and the Sony/Microsoft fanboys can't seem to deal with the fact that their technologically superior platforms are being trounced by the likes of Mario.
The major criticism levelled against the Wii is that its graphics suck. Well, yeah, the Wii doesn’t produce high definition visuals, and therefore its games aren’t as pretty as the 360/PS3. Shock! Horror! But why does that automatically make them bad? A games visual worth is as much about art design, as it is about resolution. In fact, I’d argue art design has more longevity than graphical prowess, since technology is constantly evolving, and even the most detailed game will look blocky 5 years from now. Whereas art work can be admired for decades to come (see: Castlevania, Super Metroid and Ocarina of Time). Even an 8 year game like Metroid Prime still looks beautiful, because of how lovingly its world has been crafted by developers. Wii games like Galaxy, Corruption and Brawl look much better than their GameCube counterparts, and despite their standard definition, stack up fine against HD games. Furthermore, take a look at upcoming third-party titles like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, Red Steel 2, and Monster Hunter Tri. They trounce anything released early on in the 360/PS3 lifecycle, and these visuals are being produced by a console without HD capabilities. So I reject the accusation that Wii graphics aren’t up to par.
It was only 2006 when the Wii was released, and I expect a console's lifecycle to be at least 5 to 6 years, considering the initial cost. I, like many gamers, can only afford one console at a time and the Wii was significantly cheaper than its competition. This was also before HD television and Blu-ray/HD DVD (it could have gone either way) had become commercially visible or financially viable. Besides, what exactly has the 360/PS3 done with high definition (outside of FPS's) that generally increases immersion of game? I would argue that whatever fun you may get out of a more realistic battle-scenario is brought down by archaic dual-analogue control; but, to each their own. I know a lot of people really dig the PlayStation controller, but I find it uncomfortable and inefficient in an action environment. I guess I'm just not used to it. I really liked the GameCube controller, and the 360 is good (though not much to look at), but I just find, with the PlayStation controller – the hand-grips are small and awkward and the D-pad and control stick should be reversed.
The next contention, this whole idea that the Wii is only as powerful as a GameCube, is a blatant lie. That, or unapologetic stupidity. The Wii is at least twice as powerful as its predessor, and unlike a certain other console, only has a 6% failure rate. If you want a console with more rev, be prepared to pay twice as much and have it break down every 6 months. The PS3/360 are technical updates, while the Wii presents a radically new control-scheme. Why exactly does Nintendo need to be chastised for not treading the beaten path? If anything I thought gamers would be happy that a console is trying something new and that there's a larger demographic being exposed to video games. But no, it's all just bitter name-calling.
Next; while I certainly agree that the Wii’s online component is severely lacking, and Friend Codes are pointlessly difficult, I’ve always preferred local multiplayer anyway. There’s something much more exciting about sitting in room of mates, trash talking and trying to gun each other down in a single screen, which is lost in the loneliness of online competition. And after a game has been out for a few months, there are very few people left to play with, or servers have been completely disconnected by the developers. But then again, I don’t see why we can’t have both. Online and offline multiplayer each have their pros and cons, and I can certainly concede that if you prefer the former, it can be a decisive factor in overlooking the Wii. But Nintendo’s library has always favoured local competition, and TVs these days are larger enough and sharp enough, that split-screen is no longer the turn-off it once was.
Whinging about how the Wii can’t play DVDs or CDs is another moot point. If you own media discs, presumably you own the machine that plays them. The Wii is a video game console, not a home entertainment unit. On the flip-side, there are people who use the PS3 solely to play blu-rays, and casual gamers still trump non-gamers. And yes, initially the Wii did have hard drive limitations, but the inclusion of SD cards into the main menu has effectively solved that.
The catalyst seems to be, Nintendo doesn't want to move straight into HD after only 3 years with the Wii, and while Nintendo fans are fine with that, 360/PS3 owners are morally opposed to it, because they "demand" more from their consoles (even if it inflates the price-tag and causes constant breakage). But since they don't own a Wii, they shouldn't really care. There's no glorious victory to be had here, it's just video games. It's a little sad how desperate these people are to insult a console they don't even own. I mean we all love video games, so stop trying to create absolute labels like "hardcore" and "real gamers", but I guess that’s just human nature. [COMMENTS]
19th November, 2009
12th November, 2009
I've just read IGN's review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition for the Wii, and I have to say, I was not impressed. Scoring this game over 10 points below World at War is just utterly ridiculous. It has improved visuals; a Conduit-level of control customisation; the same campaign experience as it's "game of the year" counter-part; and by far the most satisfying online multi-player mode of any Wii game in existence. And to rub salt into the wounds IGN is still using those awful leaked pre-beta screenshots. Maybe Bozon's version of the game is broken or something, because all critical and reader reviews argue well into the contrary; that the graphics, gameplay and framerate are all top-notch. Yes, this game is two years late, but so were Resident Evil 4 and Okami when IGN awarded them each a 9.0. For crying out loud, even Scarface got an 8.5. Unlike Modern Warfare, all of these are last-gen titles.
Now, I'm a huge fan of IGN and I find their reviews to be amoung the most reliable and well-written on the internet, but this half-a-page, slap-dash, mistake-riden (even the sub-heading was mispelt) article Mark Bozon farted out in between sessions of MW2, not to mention after only having the game for a day, is an insult! Now having played the game, I have to agree with the message board responses and YouTube videos that Modern Warfare Reflex improves on World at War in the graphics, controls and multiplayer departments. Gamer reviews have been universally and enthusiastically positive, with many calling Reflex the best FPS on the system, and I reckon Bozon ought to put down his copy of Modern Warfare 2 and give this Wii port a fair go. He is Nintendo editor after all! I'm not asking for a score resembling the original game, but at least something in the 8s; as it's certainly better than World at War and The Conduit.
UPDATE: Bozon has since released a video review, and I have a sneaking suspicion it was in response to the intense backlash he received; not just for the shockingly low review score, but the all around poor quality of the article (less than a page, factual errors, pre-beta screenshots, spelling mistakes, one-day prep time, etc.). Even so, the information given just doesn't justify a 7.0. He admits the multiplayer is excellent, but continues to accuse the game of frame-rate issues and poor controls, a phenomenon no-one else seems to have come across. But even if those problems were present, at its worst, the game is only ever as bad as World at War, which recieved an 8.0 from the same reviewer. I'm just baffled! [COMMENTS]
11th November, 2009
Let’s face it, 2009 has been an absolutely dismal year for the Wii. Amid the continuing flood of shovelware, the ounce-promising Conduit fell through, MadWorld was enjoyable, but mercilessly short experience, and the Virtual Console seems to have been all but abandoned. Hidden gems like Little King's Story, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Tiger Woods Pro Tour 10 and Dead Space: Extraction helped keep me interested, but sold poorly and were overshadowed by the swab of blockbuster titles on rival consoles.
However, in my honest opinion, the next 6 months promises some of the most exciting and best-looking games. Before the end of the year, we'll have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Reflex, Super Mario Bros. Wii, Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and Final Fantasy Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers. With Red Steel 2, Monster Hunter Tri, The Grinder, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, and Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Sky all being released in the first and second quarters of next year. Seriously, check out these games on YouTube; they are exclusive third-party Wii titles, make full use of its motion-sensing controls, and look insanely cool! Not to mention Nintendo releasing Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M and (hopefully) The Legendo of Zelda Wii, all in 2010. Now that the Wii has effectively saturated the market, it seems like Nintendo is finally shifting focus back on its loyal fanbase; as well as third-parties coming to terms with the systems technology and creating exciting, innovative software for it. Another reason that I bought my Wii in the first place was to be able to play classic NES/Genesis/SNES/N64 again. As I said, the Virtual Console has been lacking of late, but there is still quite a sizeable library there, that I've been lovingly working my way through. I also use the Wii as a GameCube (since my old one died), as I've still got heaps of GCN games that I still play, and many I've never got a chance to.
I know a lot of people's interest in Nintendo's little white box is waining, as the recent draught gathers dust within its engine, but I'd hang on to the Wii for a little while longer, because in many ways, the following year promises the exciting, innovative titles we've been waiting for. [COMMENTS]
16th October, 2009
I wandered down to my local JB Hi-Fi this morning, to pick up a copy of the newly released Metroid Prime Trilogy, only to find--instead of a stylish steel casing, with shiny, translucent slip--our version of the highly anticipated collection was adorned with a cheap, white plastic container; with nothing more than a piece of cardboard to distinguish it from the hordes of shovelware and carnival games it was buried under. Some might say, "who cares, it's only a tin"; who cares that we have been levelled with such a grave insult; that we aren't considered valuable enough as consumers to be given a Collector's Edition? Well, I say enough is enough! We are forced to wait months at a time before games arrive on our shores, and then asked to shell out $100 to play them, while the rest of the world has their fill on mere pocket change.
I say this is the last straw, and that we should march on Nintendo of Australia at dawn tomorrow, burn there head-quarters to the ground, and stick their presidents head on a f@#king pike for all the world to see. Then let’s see them try and censor another zombie game! Unfortunately, current Australian law forbids ritualistic genocide, so as an alternative, I'll be boycotting this version of the game, and ordering direct from the UK; where I can enjoy the game as it was originally intended, and for a $10 less, might I add. Who's with me? Let's send a message!
P.S. The above post was written with a healthy sprinkling of salt, but it doesn't mean I'm any less annoyed.
UPDATE: Un-freaking-believable! It seems Nintendo has launched an all-out assault against those proud few who spell colour with a "u", and drive on the correct side of the road, as England has been denied the Collector’s Edition as well. I am an angry, angry man. [COMMENTS]
13th October, 2009
It was recently revealed the next instalment in the survival horror series Silent Hill (Shattered Memories for Wii, PS2 and PSP) would be removing player combat from the game. Is this a good thing? As one of the developers mentioned in an interview for the game, as long as you're carrying a shotgun, you're never truly afraid, because you can just blast your way out of any desperate situation. Shattered Memories, on the other hand, puts you in the shoes of an everyman. The game seems to be a shift back to true survival horror, with an emphasis on investigation, tension and flat-out running for your life; rather than the action-focused gameplay established by Resident Evil 4. Personally, I’m pretty excited, as the title also boasts an element of unnerving the player through psychological profiling; i.e. changing the gameplay and imagery to suit your decisions. What are your thoughts on the issue? [COMMENTS]
8th October, 2009
Here's a few tips on what to do if your Wii is acting up, before you ship it off to Nintendo for repeairs. If the machine is having trouble reading the disc, just wait until you get your next error message: eject the disc, turn off the wii, turn it back on, reinsert the disc and start playing it. I've recieved this error message a few times in the past, but simply follow the above instructions the internal laser will re-aline itself properly.
Also, if your Wii is making a loud humming noise, or turns itself off after a certain length of play-time, it's probably overheating. The reason for this is either, that it's in a poorly ventialated position, or there's a built up of dust inside it. Try unhooked the machine and using a vacuum or [preferably] a dustbuster, to suck the dust out of the fan grates, at the rear and base of the Wii. If neither of these suggestions help, ring the Nintendo hotline.
The reason I'm mentioning this is that when I contacted Nintendo (at $2 a minute), they didn't have any suggestions for me, and because my 1-year warranty had expired, I was told I'd need to pay to deliver the machine to one of their reparers, pay for repairs, and even if they couldn't fix it, pay $30 for their time. That was 18 months ago, and the above tips have ensured my Wii continues to work as well as the day I bought it. Secondly, sending it in for repairs can mean that they have to erase your save data and Wii shop downloads. So make sure you back those up, if you still need to send it in. If you have any more tips on maintaining or fixing your video game console, please leave a comment below or in the Forums. [COMMENTS]
19th September, 2009
Being an die-hard Zelda fan from way back, I am incredibly pumped for this game, as it will be the first official Zelda title for this console generation (Twilight Princess was a GameCube gme). But so far all we've gotten is a screenshot (scratch that, a painting) and a few vague allusions from Miyamoto. Now, considering Wind Waker wasn't released until about 2 years after its first trailer, I'm a little worried about how long I'll have to wait to play the next instalment in my favourite franchise.
Supposedly the game's been in development since April 2008 (well into the Wii's life-cycle), and after seeing that amazing early footage of Galaxy 2 and Other M, as well as the inclusion of the Motion Plus and the general scope of Zelda games (most games these days last about 5 hours; try 60 mofos!), it should really push the limits of the systems capabilities. But where are the screenshots, the release dates, the title…? Rumour has it that a trailer will be released in October, at Miyamoto’s keynote speech, but I’m not holding my breathe. [COMMENTS]
2nd September, 2009
To my surprise and utter delight it was announced in August that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will be ported to the Wii and released early November, around the same time as the HD blockbuster Modern Warfare 2. Now, the original developers Infinity Ward has nothing to do with the porting of this game, and from all accounts are openly hostile to the Wii. Rather it is being worked on by the creators of World at War, Treyarch, who I'm growing quite fond of, as they are one of the few development teams giving the Wii a fair go.
So far, we haven't seen any pictures or video, but a lot of this might have to do with Activision focusing on the promotion of MW2. Members of Treyarch have discussed the game in GameFAQ and NeoGaf forums, and supposedly graphics are well-improved from the already decent World at War port, and none of the content from the original game will be omitted. To be honest, I would be surprised if this game failed. The previous two Call of Duty incarnations for the system were successful, and the majority of Wii-owners know Modern Warfare is one stand-out titles of this generation, and can only improve with motion controls. I'm excited for it, and it will probably be only the third purchase I make for this year (with the other 2 being MadWorld and Metroid Prime Trilogy). God, what a terrible year it's been for the Wii! [COMMENTS]
31st August, 2009
Even though I only own a Wii and a DS, I still like to know what other developments are being made in the video games industry. However, I'm starting to get a little sick and tired of the IGN Game Scoop frat boys ragging on Nintendo whenever it's brought up, which is pretty rare, considering its widespread popularity and recent swab of mature titles.
Every time the Wii is mentioned, it is met with the groans and snide comments of regular contributor Greg Miller, who will then turn around in the same sentence and defend to death the PS3's relentless stupidity and commercial arrogance (see: the Sony Dildo... er, I mean Wand). One episode consisted of the host repeating the phrase "the Wii stupid" over and over again for about a minute; and meanwhile, the DS is practically forgotten altogether. Once in a blue moon someone from the Nintendo Voice Chat (which, these days has become rather sparse and inconsistent) will join the podcast, but this only numbs their hatred by way of someone to actually argue the contrary. I can understand people disliking the Wii, but to flat out dismiss it and go off on mindnumbing hate-rants whenever it is mentioned makes me feel that for a "supposed" video game podcast, a large portion of the demographic is being severely under-represented. [COMMENTS]
10th June, 2009
Well, what can I say about Nintendo's latest accessory, announced recently at E3. For all intents and purposes, it is a heart-rate monitor used in video games. "What possible use could this absurd device have?" I hear you ask. Unlike most articles on the web, lets try and be a little bit more optimistic. For example, it might be cool to use in horror games, such as the upcoming Grudge, as the gameplay could change itself to suit your anxiety levels. Or maybe a puzzle game like Tetris, where the speed or difficulty of the falling tiles could increase as your heart-beat does. Having said that, though, the fact that there's no nunchuk input drastically reduces player interactivity. I mean, considering the lack of developer support for the Balance Board or Motion Plus (which have far more practical use in games), I can't possibly see this accessory serving a purpose. After the negative reaction generated at E3, they may scrap it all together. Fingers crossed! [COMMENTS]
17th May, 2006
Imagine you are stalking through the ruins of a futuristic science facility. Your muscles ache with pain; your deep wounds crusted shut with dry blood; your mentality is fixated on one single goal… survival. Stealthing from room to room on the balls of your feet, AK-47 in one hand, to clutch [green] blood-stained machete in the other. You pass the mangled corpses of militia and scientists alike, when suddenly a savage mutant springs out from the shadows and leaps onto your face. It gnashes its teeth, acid dripping from its gums onto your terrified face, makes a blood-curdling scream and lunges in for the kill. You side step left; tear out your pump-action shotgun and—PAUSE: Bathroom brake
This is the gaming universe - an entire galaxy of armed combat, online battles, intergalactic warfare, and role-playing adventure; sitting there, perched, on the second shelf of your TV cabinet. The innocence of games like Pong, Tetris, and Pac-Man are over, their time has passed. What was once a string of fun electronic puzzles is now a breath-taking enterprise.. An epic war has emerged between three of the greatest empires of the digital revolution – the powerful Microsoft; the ambitious Sony; and the artistic Nintendo… and Generation Y are its soldiers.
Believe it or not, the computer/video game industry is amoung powerful and profitable markets in the world; second only by the music industry. For those not familiar with the gaming medium (e.g. Eskimos), the term “computer/video game” refers to a game played via a video display (such as a monitor or television) as the primary feedback device. The only difference between “computer” and “video” being that the former is played on a PC or laptop, and the latter played on specifically-designed set top boxes (called a console) through a TV. Video games can also be played on mobile phones, PDA’s, or other handheld devices. Despite technological advancements throughout the 90’s, video games trace their origins way back to the 40’s. In fact, the company Nintendo was actually founded in late 1800’s.
The very first computer game was a missile simulation game, developed in 1947 for the Cathode Ray Tube. Players adjusted the curve and speed of the missiles by turning various knobs. The game was probably inspired by radar displays used during World War II. Five years later a second game was released – OXO: a graphical version of noughts and crosses. In 1958 the third, and perhaps most important video game, was created by William Higinbotham to entertain visitors at Brookhaven National Laboratory in
In 1972 the world’s first video game console, the Odyssey, was released by Magnavox. Though the Odyssey was not commercially successful, it was succeeded by the hugely anticipated system, the Atari, and its release game, Pong. As well as home consoles, coin-operated arcades were simultaneously being developed and installed in fish and chip shops all over the world. An extensive list of university developed games also began to catch the public eye; this, coupled with the Atari’s console success, and the development of millions of highly addictive arcade and PC games drove the world to the verge of a new medium – interactive entertainment. By the end of the 1970’s classic games like Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Pac-Man had etched their mark on the world, and the video game craze was off.
However, this new found strength was to be short lived. In the early 80’s the video game industry suffered an economic blow that rivaled the Great Depression of the 1930’s (...not really). It was christened, simply, "The Great Crash". There were many factors which brought about this sudden collapse and bankruptcy of the video game business during the year of 1983. They included the very aggressive marketing of home computers (especially the Commodore 64); a flood of poor titles based from hastily financed startups; and the media’s conclusion that (like Cabbage Patch Kids and Beanie Babies) electronic entertainment was just another fad, and that the age of video games was at an end. Sales dwindled; companies collapsed; and the video game industry fell from grace – everything seemed lost forever. But then--like a phoenix from the ashes of the forgotten medium--a new company arose … it was called Nintendo.
In 1985 the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES) was released into the world. Armed with a large number of Nintendo-developed original titles and arcade games, such as Super Mario Bros. Donkey Kong and Kirby's Adventure, the NES was a hit in a limited market release. A second rival system quickly followed – the Sega Master System. Despite public disinterest of the gaming world both companies began to gather success in the marketplace and respect in the industry. Atari also attempted to release another console, the 7800. Though Atari eventually faded away, Nintendo and Sega had made great advancements in gaming technology, and begun to revive and re-invigorate the industry. Video games were back at last!
If the 60’s were the research, development, and creation of electronic gaming; the 70’s were its glorious rise to power in the form of the arcade; and 80’s were the fall, return, and revival of video games; then the 90’s were about the evolution of the technology and, more specifically, the consolidation of the industry. Although there were many attempts for other company’s to muscle in on this newly defined market, there were only two real contenders – Sega and Nintendo. The 90’s brought around the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the equally powerful and beloved, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. The titanic technical advancements, vicious marketing strategies, and huge cultural influences that emerged from the direct competition of these two companies become known [historically speaking] as the Fourth Console War. Video games were no longer confined to repetitive simulations, or isolated systems, they were now home consoles with titles that ranged beyond the spectrum of film and literature; adventure, action, war, shooting, platform, racing, combat, sport, and multi-player were all explored in some form. By the mid-90s, Sega had begun developing the Sega Saturn, a machine which was able to delve into the third-dimension of gaming.
GoldenEye 007 (1997) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
In 1995, a fresh, ambitious new developer entered the gaming market – Sony. They released a 32-bit disc-based system which was able to generate 3D graphics. Despite having a weaker console, Nintendo still maintained dominance in the market. Sega’s new console (Saturn) was in direct competition with the PlayStation, and was eventually abandoned by gamers as the inferior console. It was around this time that Nintendo released their much anticipated 64-bit console – (appropriately) the Nintendo 64. Suddenly a new age of gaming had dawned upon the world, the age of the third dimension; and the Second Console War had begun: Nintendo vs. Sony.
The Fifth Console War was similar to its successor, in that it was fought through technological advancements and marketing skills. But unlike the first war, Nintendo was now fighting an incredibly wealthy and ambitious corporation. The Sony/Nintendo rivalry managed to churn out some of greatest and most important video games of the medium. These games included Super Mario 64, Dance Dance Revoltuion, GoldenEye 007, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and the Final Fantasy series. This era was marked by its experimentation of true 3D graphics and environments, a larely unexplored concept up until then. By the end of the millennium Sony had dethroned Nintendo (with the PlayStation outselling the Nintendo 64), and all but defeated the withered Sega.
The early 21st Century saw the beginning of the Sixth Console War. Sony had updated its console into a technically impressive (yet unimaginatively titled) PlayStation 2, and Nintendo had unveiled its fourth home console – the Nintendo GameCube. The intensely powerful Microsoft had also decided to dip its beak into the video game industry, with the release of the X-Box. Though Sega’s attempt to return to gaming (with their failed Dreamcast) was in vain, they now began developing games (although not exclusively) for their former rival Nintendo. Despite their attempts to retake control of the market, with third-party support and an update to discs, Nintendo simply could not compete with Sony or Microsoft. This era (which will have ended by the end of this year) produced some incredibly advanced and provoking titles; these include Super Smash Bros. Melee, Halo, Metroid Prime, and the Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo series.
I have really only explored the development of video game consoles, however, it may be of interest to note the gradual evolution of handheld gaming. Though there have been many portable gaming devices developed throughout history, it is Nintendo’s Game Boy that has lead the way and dominated the handheld market. The first installment was the original Game Boy, released in 1989. Simple and dull by today’s standards, the Nintendo Game Boy was leaps ahead of its time, and, packaged with Nintendo’s ultra-addictive game Tetris, was a groundbreaking success. Over the next decade Nintendo worked on both their home console and handheld range. The original Game Boy was eventually downsized to the Game Boy Pocket, and then upgraded to the Game Boy Colour. Several years later the Game Boy Advance was released (in conjunction with the GameCube), and then recently the Game Boy SP. As the device has evolved, so have its games. Titles like Tetris, Metroid II, and the Donkey Kong Land and Pokemon series have all earned their names in video game history. The handheld market is perhaps slower to advance, due mainly to the lack of competition and relative size of the device, but when you look back at the tiny black-and-white, pixilated screens of the original handhelds, and compare them to today’s 64-bit, crisp 3D visuals and sound, you cannot help but admire their progress.
The future of video games is a prospect shrouded in mystery. The next year or so will see the launch of all three company’s (and perhaps a few more) new consoles – the Microsoft X-Box 360, the Sony PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Revolution (or Wii). Having witnessed the technological miracles of the previous console war, it is hard to imagine what else can be achieved. What can we expect to see, not just in this generation, but over the decades to come? Will we see graphics so realistic that they are able emulate real life? Will we be able to eliminate the controller all together and manipulate games with our mind alone? Will virtual reality ever become available to everyday gamers?Only time will tell. One thing is for certain though; video games are not just a passing fad, they are here to stay. Like music, television, film, art, and literature they will continue to shape us as a culture and as a society. The human being will always yearn to explore and adventure beyond the realms of what is static and what is real, and, as history and technology have proven, there are no limits to the capabilities of the human mind and imagination. The video game war will rage on whether we pick a side or not. For it is a war fought, not over industry and trade, but to expand the dominion of the human thought and potential. [COMMENTS]