Humble Bundle

Earlier this year, the head of independent developer Wolfire Games approached his friends and contacts in the games community with the idea that they should offer their games on a “pay what you want” basis. The Humble Indie Bundle, which included indie darling Gish and my beloved World of Goo, went on sale in May and, despite many people offering $0.01 for the collection, raised over $1.2 million (almost $400,000 of which went to charity). The sale was such a success they decided to try it all over again with the Humble Indie Bundle 2, which is available for the next few days.

If getting a handful of great games for well under their retail price doesn’t sell you, and you are the type who does not feel compelled to support the indie scene from which our medium sees so much of its heart and innovation, know that you can allocate your payment for the bundle to charity and screw those greedy indie devs! →  Read or die.

The Strange Joys of Not Gaming

Video games have always played a large role in my life. Some, my wife included, have drawn the conclusion that video games take up too much of my time. I’ll freely admit that I have a problem. It apparently could be worse since I have never played Shenmuie or however one spells that awful transliteration and if I did I would apparently love it so much it that it would devour my very being. So I got that going for me.

Thrust into a position where I have no television, no console and a laptop that struggles to run The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I find myself looking from the outside of the gamer community in. Having spent a few months in this position, my primary result of electronic entertainment deprivation is this: Being cut off almost completely from video games is weird. →  Post of Tsushima

iOS Gaming Thoughts, Part 1

Warning – this is a rambling rant, based on little experience. It is all speculation on my part – I’m not saying these things will happen, merely musing on what it could mean it they did. Don’t take it too seriously.

As I mentioned on the VL Twitter feed, I now have an iPod Touch. I guess that means I should take a serious look at some iOS games.

I’ve mentioned it briefly in the past, but I’ve been a supporter of iOS gaming, even if I haven’t played on it. The hardware is powerful and plentiful, and the motion control/touch screen combo can be used to great advantage by clever developers. I can’t see it ever replacing my DS or PSP, but it will definitely live along side them.

That being said, I don’t think the platform is all sunshine and rainbows. →  Ba da bam ba baa I’m readin’ it.

Review – Nier

The first thing you will hear when you start up Nier is swearing. Its intro, as with many other aspects of the game, may be an attempt to be unique. It also foreshadows (or is reminiscent of) a significant plot event. Either way, it’s certainly unusual. Much of the game seems like the intro sequence: it may be an attempt to be unique. It’s harsh and initially somewhat intriguing but each time through it loses a little bit of its charm. In the end, Nier seems to be saying something, but aside from a decent story filled with the requisite twists and turns, it’s impossible to really tell what.

Nier is not entirely a love-it-or-hate-it game, despite all appearances. Most reviewers panned it, saying its quests are too repetitive, its graphics too bland, its gameplay too derivative of the genre(s) it pulls from. →  SaGa 3: Shadow or Write

When are graphics good enough?

In an old Edge column, Mr. Biffo commented that he remembers thinking that at a certain point in console history graphics became good enough. Meaning that at whatever point he picked, the release of the 3DO, say, graphical fidelity in games ceased being an issue. Art could be better or worse, of course, but all in all games simply looked good enough.

This era of good enough began for me in 1999 with the release of the Dreamcast. Early 3D looked kind of terrible and even the PS1/Saturn/N64 games with “good” graphics make my eyes bleed today, but Sega’s early jump into the 4th generation (that’s 4th going by Japanese consoles I care about, starting with the NES/SMS) gave us mature looking 3D that still looks good today.

Compare a good looking PS1 game:

To a good looking Dreamcast game:

Trying to prove my subjective position is correct is less interesting though than the basic concept that to some people graphics become simply good enough at a certain point. →  Xenosaga 2: Jenseits von Gut und Pöst

Review – What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!?

One of the first games I played on my computer was the Dungeon Keeper series. I was an evil overlord who managed my dungeon with more gusto than a sixteen year old who had been newly promoted to fry manager at McDonald’s. I strove to be as evil as I could and I was good at it. Sometimes I think I missed my dictatorial calling in life. I loved being able to build traps and spawn new monsters to kill whatever hero was foolish enough to traipse into my lair.

Unfortunately, after Dungeon Keeper 2, Bullfrog stopped making the series and my dungeon-building prowess dulled – the lands were freed of my evil grasp. I have always wanted a game to fill the dungeon keeping hole in my heart but alas, the void remained…until recently. →  You lost me.

Review – Ys Seven

Ys Seven is a momentous release for developer Falcom. It is the first Ys game developed natively on the PSP, and it is also the first game in a major licensing deal struck with publisher XSeed Games. Westerners can finally play an original Ys game exactly as it was intended, rather than through a shoddy port.

Anyone excited for their first taste of this cult franchise will be sorely disappointed, however. If you’re looking for an introduction to Ys, you’re better off with Oath in Felghana, or the upcoming Ys 1 & 2 Chronicles. As for Seven, it isn’t an awful game, but even someone as hardly experienced with Ys as I am can tell that it isn’t the best showing the series has to offer.

Ys Seven still uses a realtime combat system, but lacks any need for strategy or precision outside of the boss battles. →  May God smite me if I stop reading here!