Review – Wanted: Weapons of Fate

These days, it does not take much to get a 3rd person, cover based action game greenlighted for production. Do you have some sort of licensed property to link it to? Then you’re golden! But if you really want to spice it up, find a property that has some sort of silly gimmick for you to work with. That will help justify having the publisher spend millions (and the consumer $60) on a disposable six hour experience. This is exactly the kind of mentality behind Wanted: Weapons of Fate, the tie in game to 2008’s Angelina Jolie vehicle developed by recently defunct developer GriN. In such a crowded genre, Weapons of Fate likes to think of itself as being different and better from the rest, similarly to its source material, this is nothing more than a case of self delusion. →  Postlanser: Heritage of Read

Golden Jew’s Nuggets of Wisdom #5

My initial thoughts of the DS, complete with its Nintendo Gimmick Stylus, was that it was a Junior Pokemon Power Ranger Machine (my affectionate nickname for the Wii that drives Jay up the wall). I had no desire to draw rainbows (for fear of pissing off these people) or successfully masturbate a virtual cat into ejaculation with a stylus, so the DS didn’t seem right for me. Of course, with a $200-ish pricetag and no games I like I didn’t seem like a PSP person either. I thought that my next generation future was the same as my high school prom future: bathroom abortion baby. Or more accurately, being date-less.

Then I started finding good RPG games on the DS. Etrian Odyssey (1 and 2), Chrono Trigger, Magical Starsign, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Dragon Quest 4 (it gets a grudging “good” vote) and now Devil Survivor have all sucked me in. →  They’re reading her… and then they’re going to read me!

Review – Personal Nightmare

There once was a time where games were designed to ease the player into the gameplay, get him addicted, and then proceed to murder him. This was naturally because the games could only be sustained through a diet of quarters, and demanding a constant flow of money from addicted players was the most effective way to separate a gamer from his cash. Games today have the liberty to come in a lot of forms and sustain themselves in many different ways, so that cliché difficulty curve isn’t used so often anymore. Personal Nightmare, for example, simply murders the player right off the bat.

Personal Nightmare was made by Horrorsoft, creators of Waxworks (which I reviewed previously). Both inhabit the very specific niche genre commonly called “survival horror,” although they existed before that term was coined. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

The Six Hour Rule

Great game, great graphics, good story, co-op mode, online play but only 10 hours long. Or words to that effect. I’ve seen a number of reviews that say something about the relatively short length of a game being negative despite the fact that the game, considered too short by the reviewer, would probably take me months if not years to actually play through.

How long is too long? What do we mean by length? How much weight should reviewers put on the price-point/length-of-game ratio in deciding whether or not a game should be recommended? The Ram Raider has a nice article about price point considerations which is what prompted me to think about how long a game takes and about getting old. Being an old cranky, jaded gamer…

Gone are the days when I could buy a game and then revel in it for long periods of time until I’d explored every nook and cranny and devoured all the content in the main game, unlocked all the ummm…. →  Nobody puts article in a corner.

A Farewell to (Wild) Arms

One of the first RPGs to land on the Playstation in 1997 was an unassuming, Old West-inspired game by the name of Wild Arms. Though it never managed to compete with more mainstream series, it has a greatness all its own; with a solid difficulty balance, a variety of puzzles, and a plot that dwells more on loneliness and a decaying world than on long-haired villains or a large but irrelevant main cast, I consider it one of the best RPGs on the system.

In the past couple weeks, the news got out that Akifumi Kaneko, the lead designer and scenario writer for the entire Wild Arms series, left Media.Vision in 2008. This came a couple years after Michiko Naruke, who had been the primary composer for the first four games, had stopped working on the series due to illness. →  Fine, but this article then no more.

Breaking: Old news and images from canceled Suda game

Being a game journalist is hard. From thinking of sensational headlines to figuring out how to post rumors as truth, the pressure to deliver stories whether they exist or not can be crushing. Luckily there is a web forum called NeoGAF that any reputable journalist can use as a primary source without that pesky “old man journalist” idea of citing sources.

A poster on NeoGAF believed he found new information about an old Suda51 project for the PS3 that Edge magazine profiled years ago. Other forum members, being significantly more discerning than game journalists, realized this was old news, mocked the poster and then moderators locked the thread.

Instead of ending there, as a simple mistake by an excited fan on a web forum, the news was picked up by multiple outlets. →  Ys: The Article of Napishtim

Review – Hearts of Iron III

Paradox Interactive is becoming known in the innermost of hardcore gaming circles as “the only grand strategy gaming company left on earth,” a level of praise earned by their constant desire to take giant swaths of history and make games out of it. Instead of reading this, you could in fact be playing what we insiders call the “unnecessary gauntlet” of grand strategy gaming: repeating all of human history from 200 BC to 1956, the last moment in history that needs to be covered because Eisenhower’s presidency is the absolute pinnacle of mankind’s achievement. Year by year, hour by hour. No, Paradox Interactive doesn’t cheat like Firaxis, doesn’t do things like assigning one turn of gameplay a five year value in world time. You want to play five years? Then you better be prepared to play them out. →  Hell is other gamers.

Graphics: When more is less

What makes books so compelling? Lots of things, but one important facet is the ability of words, mere signifiers, to incite incredible images inside a reader’s brain. Few games encourage this, with their fancy polygons and all, but the same principle exists in them, whether it’s intentional or not.

When I first loaded Pokemon Red Version it was immediately obvious that the graphics were limited, or, to put it in nicer terms, pixelated representations of reality. Translating the sprites into concrete objects was something my brain had to acquire a taste for. I clearly remember not being able to find the exit of Ash’s home, and eventually learning that a certain rectangle on the floor represented the welcome mat and the door was off-screen from that. This sort of thing seems elementary now. →  Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Post

Review – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a strong candidate for the title of “most beloved exclusive in the early days of the PS3”. While this can, in part, be attributed to the lack of competition, there were also plenty of good words said about its quality. I believed them, but any number of screenshots suggested that the game hemmed close to the Tomb Raider mold of exploration and action. Not a bad comparison per se, but the best I can say about Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary were that they were worth playing through, though they were certainly not the best releases on any console. Uncharted would have to do more to earn its title.

The reality of the game is that it doesn’t stray from the above description. The platforming controls are straight out of the recent Tomb Raiders, which it, in turn, learned from the modern Prince of Persia trilogy. →  Readalations: Persona

Review – Animal Crossing Wild World

Animal Crossing isn’t a game. It’s a career. A vocation, a mini alternative life. You could educate a child with it and it would turn out OK. It teaches you everything you need to know about the real world. It teaches you the importance of money, shows you the true value of patience, punishes you for lying, and when characters move out of your town it’s an important lesson about the harsh realities of bereavement in adult life. Freckles is gone, Timothy, she’s gone to another town very far away and she’s never coming back.

It’s not a game, it’s a job. You HAVE to collect your fruit to begin with, else you can’t afford the cool furniture. You HAVE to keep fishing, else you might miss a rare fish. You HAVE to collect all the fossils, fish and insects because something cool might happen when you do. →  And so it games…

Are you a bad enough dude to save Eegra?

I would like to diverge from videogame discussion for a moment to bring attention to a disturbing reality: the very cool website Eegra is facing some serious financial problems. On their front page you can see some posts explaining the situation and how it can possibly be resolved. It makes me sad to no longer see their daily articles in my feed reader, and I hope they manage to work everything out soon. I decided to help in the only way I know how, blogging about it.

If you don’t know what Eegra is, it’s a quirky blog-thingy about videogames. It’s full of humor, indie/obscure games, and is run by some awesome and intelligent people. It helped inspire me to write about games and made me enthusiastic for gaming blogs.

Since they’re not updating very much anymore, here are a few highlights for you to read:

Who Is Kevin VanOrd, and Why Is His Jaw Tired? →  Read more, before it’s too late!

Review – Sony Go Media Software

Slowly but surely, Sony has finally gotten their act together with downloadable content on the PSP.  Aside from their recent ramp up of releases, they have given PSP users a variety of ways in which to acquire games and content.  My favorite option has always been to download to the PS3.  While Sony has rarely been explicit about it, PSP games need double their storage space in order to install.  Downloading to the PS3 negates this requirement, as the install files remain there, while the game itself is copied to the PSP.  Plus, this method allows you to play any PS1 Classics you buy on both consoles.  Of course, if you can’t fire up the TV for a download, one can buy and install games directly to the PSP via a wireless connection, or transferr them from a PC.  →  Ba da bam ba baa I’m readin’ it.

Cunzy1 1 is…

When first asked to write for videolamer, Jay asked for a short biography in the form of 10 games. You can see the gang’s choices over here. The games I chose to represent me aren’t necessarily my favourite games, games I have completed, games I recommend you need to play or necessarily even good games. They are the games that I have a special association with and games that take me back to a certain time or place. Much like a certain film or a song, games can tug at the memory and take you back to times past. This is my life in games in roughly chronological order.

Snoopy Tennis.
I’m not talking about the horrible Game Boy Color game, I’m all about the Game and Watch version. This is probably one of the first games I ever played and at the time it didn’t have a particular impact on me. →  Sounds mildly entertaining, I guess.

Review – Black Sigil

Black Sigil screamed promise. After being impressed and occasionally a bit burned with indie games, a DS game by a small but dedicated team of RPG fans sounded really good. Graphically inspired by Chrono Trigger, its visuals are both nostalgic and fresh on a system that needs more sprite-based games. Even after the release date was pushed back… and back… and back, I still was somewhat excited upon its release.

I maintained this excitement through the first area. The first section is mostly story, but your initial quest is to walk to an area on the world map. “You walk a little slowly”, I thought, “but that’s okay – surely they’ll eventually give me a boat, hovercraft, flying castle, etc.” And then the random encounters started. And continued. I had at least ten encounters on the way, and each one played out exactly the same way. →  Games are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.