We didn’t go to the Tokyo Games Show

Despite a great deal of pleading, Jay would not finance a single trip to TGS this year. This is because Jay is a big fat racist. So because we didn’t go we can’t present you with what we saw there. However, because we’ve got nothing else to do besides F5ing the internet we felt like we did go*. We felt like we were there and so here’s the high quality games journalism coverage you would have got, had we been there. Don’t say we don’t give you anything for free vl reader. There’s no point vocalising what we all know.

Videolamers TGS Coverage Issue:

Check out the 4500 photos that Christian took whilst dicking around in Japan. Japanese buildings, Japanese people in the street, signs in Japan in English, Japanese HMVs etc. →  Sly 3: Honor Among Reads

Leveling up the Experience System

Over the past twenty-five years of the “modern” RPG era in gaming, we’ve seen the genre advance tremendously. Rendered graphics, advanced skill systems, voice acting and ever more colors of chocobos are in the vanguard of innovation. But one thing we have not seen advance in any particularly cogent fashion is the experience system.

On the surface, the experience system is relatively straight forward. You kill monsters, you get stronger. This can take a variety of formats: from the basic experience system that leads to levels which grant automatic stat and ability increases, to systems where experience or a similar credit system are spent on customizable skills, to hybrid systems which do both. Gaining levels serves to complement the plot at a tactical level: as the story progresses, inevitably the farmer-turned-hero, imaginary-underwater-volleyball-player-turned-hero, or emo-sixteen-year-old-turned-hero will grow more powerful from a plot context. →  Now you’re reading with power.

ODST(ough shit)

Halo is as popular a game series as there is, yet I have always felt like it has suffered from a case of identity crisis.  First everyone derided the series as being a dumbed down FPS for jocks and kids.  Then a wave of revisionism swept through the land, and now even the snobbiest folks may consider the series a favorite of theirs.

With this week’s launch of Halo 3: ODST, the cycle may start anew.  The scores are pretty solid all around, but folks have found new ways to bring on the hate.  Among critics, there is far from universal love for ODST’s storytelling, both in regards to the hub world/flashback concept, or the Audio/Video logs scattered throughout.  From what I can tell, ODST is the closest Halo has gotten to the old Marathon style of narrative, but for some reviewers that has apparently become a bad thing, as it gets in the way of shooting things. →  All the lonely gamers, where do they all belong?

Are you HARDCORE ENOUGH?

Writing about the hardcore/casual games divide was the new “Are Games Art” but now “There’s No Such Thing as Hardcore/Casual” is the new “There is a Hardcore/Casual Games and Gamers Divide”. This is a lie told to you by casual gamers. Casual gamers are limp-wristed liberals. HARDCORE gamers get chicks and drive huge cars and WILL FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH defending the console that their Mom bought them.

But are you HARDCORE? Or are you a casual? Do you have armour piercing spermatozoa/ova or are you firing blanks? This is where the HARDCORE test comes in. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you are NOT HARDCORE AT ALL. You are a casual homo. Don’t take this test if you don’t want the truth.

Remember, any Yeses, even one and you are disgusting. →  Contains 10% more consonants than comparable articles.

Cryptic’s Genius Relationship with Furries

I have to give Cryptic Studios some credit: Realizing the current flood of MMOs on the market and the presence of another game that they helped develop in the exact same subgenre would hurt their sales, they created a business model for their newly released Champions Online that can thrive with as few as 10,000 subscribers. By catering to the niche of the niche and trying very hard not to even suggest that their new release is anything like the legendary and fabled World of Warcraft killer that fans have been waiting for for years now, Cryptic was able to explore cheesy silver age comics ideas to their fullest without having to live up to the lofty, unfulfilled expectations that are currently dooming Age of Conan and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. →  It was the best of games, it was the worst of games

Review – Silent Hill: Homecoming

The last time I reviewed a Silent Hill game, I was playing through SH:Origins, a PSP original developed by an American team with a greater focus on combat than previous games in the series. At the time, I made two points which I thought encapsulated the nature of Silent Hill games. Firstly, I asserted that reliance on locked doors, constant map checking, and finicky combat are an easy way to make your game feel tedious, repetitive, and full of cheap parlor tricks. True they can help create a frightening and oppressive tone when used correctly, but I would argue that no one has been able to do that since the very first game. Secondly, I stated Silent Hill games benefit from their tendency to shape enemies and environments around the mental projections of their protagonist. →  NiGHTS into REaDS

Are you Smarter than 100 other Xbox Live douchebags?

Reading even a few game sites is guaranteed to expose you to a certain amount of PR jizz: with machines like Microsoft, EA, Activision and others, it is inevitable you will be exposed to their products through the usual gaming channels. So it was with 1 vs 100 for me. By way of Penny Arcade, I was subjected to a face full of “OMG this game is awesome” jizz. But it was free, so I figured I’d check it out.

For those of you who have been held hostage in a shed for 18 years and were only recently freed, 1v100 is a gameshow that originated in the Netherlands and was hosted by Bob Sagat in the US. 1v100 pits the “one” against the “mob” in a series of trivia questions. →  How many games must a gamer play before you call him a gamer?

Game Concepts – Great ideas of Genius

There are those among us who feel games are becoming increasingly predictable – a marketing dominated creative process where developers simply take elements from other successful games, try to throw in some token new thing and call it a day. So I thought I’d just throw out some slightly different ideas, just for the hell of it. If a butterfly flapping its wings can truly destroy the universe (as my people believe) then maybe this article can, uh, take down some butterflies.

Ashes of Destiny: The Cricket Saga

Okay, so you take a sport that everybody loves (Cricket) and you combine it was a genre that everybody really ought to love (RPGs) and this is what you get. I may also be liberally borrowing from the film Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, but I can make it different enough to stop the lawyers from getting involved. →  Do a barrel read!

Review – Cursed Mountain

Cursed Mountain is the latest game in the survival horror mountain climbing genre. It really wants to let everyone know that it’s scary, it has angry contorted faces all over the place, deep dramatic music, and lots of dark shadowy stuff everywhere. It also really wants to recreate the feeling of climbing up a mountain. You will have to literally climb every inch of this huge mountain. Except for a few parts where they jump you ahead a little, since only so much mountain can fit into a ten hour game.

This videogame is less “survival horror” (most noticeably absent from the game is the whole “survival” aspect) and more of a genre that I made up after playing Gears of War, which I like to call “on rails but not really.” →  Postgaea 2: Cursed Memories

Review – Digital Devil Saga

Atlus has a reputation for releasing games that appreciate in value. They print a bunch of copies, but they sell slowly at first but eventually you’ll need to trade in a console or two to have enough credit to pick them up.

Recently, they have been trying to curb that reputation – partly by printing more copies of new titles, but also by reprinting old games. Shortly before the ultimate demise of the PS1, they reprinted Persona 2, for example. More recently, they reprinted three Shin Megami Tensei PS2 games: Nocturne and the two Digital Devil Saga games, each of which had been selling for more than $60 for a good while.

Being the dedicated RPG enthusiast I am, I completed my PS2 SMT collection with the two DDSes when I heard the news. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

Getting the Batcave Right

Now that videolamer has become the haven for misfit and under appreciated games, a review of perhaps the year’s biggest release seems out of place and wrong. As such, no review of the excellent and entertaining Batman: Arkham Asylum will be drafted by me for inclusion on this website. Besides, the internet is already chock full of reviews and I really would have nothing to add to the conversation. But I will do a blog entry on a tiny detail that has almost no impact on the game whatsoever: How the Batcave was included, and what other video game makers will hopefully learn from this.

As Batman kicks ass and takes names all across the island that holds Arkham and its many criminals, he eventually reveals that he has a hidden Batcave just for such emergencies. →  Michigan: Article from Hell