White Flag – Giving up on Saga Scarlet Grace and Monster Train

I recently came to the conclusion that only chumps play every game until completion. And so here is the first entry in what will likely be a long, if not entertaining, series of posts on games I gave up on. I got lucky in that both are very good games that just couldn’t hold my attention until the credits rolled.

Saga Scarlet Grace: Ambitions

Scarlet Grace is the best Saga game I have played, which is similar to being the smartest Qanon believer. The series has managed to improve in stature amongst people who care about long running JRPGs, no doubt assisted by Jeremy Parish’s constant Kawazu fawning. I am happy the games exist because having something weird and different is preferable to not having it, but the games do not really come together from what I have experienced. →  Read or die.

On the Rejection of Writing Formal Game Reviews

Being a magnanimous business owner (of videolamer Corporate Consolidated Holdings LLC), I allowed Editor in Chief Pat to take a week off for vacation with his family on the condition he return with a Panzer Dragoon Saga write-up. This means that there is no one here to make my writing less bad or to talk me out of posting short, pointless, half-formed thoughts. So enjoy this one while you can.

In this site’s first run from 2005-2011ish I reviewed some games. Being in my 20s, I didn’t put much thought into my qualifications – I had a keyboard, a poorly reasoned and loud opinion, and an internet. All the pieces were there for insightful critique, as far as I could tell. The game industry was also smaller in those days and it was possible for a single person to comprehend huge chunks of context, history, game design lineage, developer and studio formation and attrition, and so on. →  Read it your way.

Final Thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII

In Part 3 of this 3 Part series about Final Fantasy VIII (that I never intended to be a 3 Part series about Final Fantasy VIII – Part 1 here and Part 2 here), I want to go into a bit more detail about my personal history with this game. I fully admit that this is more for me than anyone else, a sort of final bit of therapy to help me put it in the past and move on.

Final Fantasy VIII is a game I first played at launch back in 1999. I didn’t get very far.

I tried playing it again a few years later. This time I was serious about beating it. But I didn’t.

I tried again a few years after that. And again a few years after that. →  Destroy All Articles! 2

Who was brave enough to pioneer unique console names?

The first video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey. The follow up to that system was a series of consoles that appended a number after the word Odyssey. This was just good business sense. Why confuse customers by changing the name of your product? Atari saw the wisdom in maintaining a name and followed the 2600 with the 5200, publicly declaring it twice as good. There are other generational products beyond consoles but my mind jumps to the automobile as a template for how to treat new models. It would be bizarre to rebrand the Honda Accord next year with a new name (the Honda Discord, obviously) and then continue to do so with each significant rehaul. It would just be bad business.

Unique console names ended when giant corporations Sony and Microsoft moved into the video game space, but where did they start? →  SNK Article Classics Vol. 1

Away Games: Recommendations for Places That May No Longer Exist

In the long years without videolamer updates, I passed time staring at walls, counting the seconds until death would release me from my meaningless existence, and watching TV. I also did a little bit of traveling. Whenever possible, I coerced, tricked, or bamboozled my girlfriend/fiance/wife/ex-wife into doing something at least video game adjacent on these trips. And so I present you with my research and recommendations for places to visit that were likely closed years ago due to the pernicious whims of capitalism. With pictures!

Galloping Ghost Arcade: Illinois

A family vacation to South Bend put me within (multiple hour) striking distance of this arcade I had read good things about. Knowing fellow videolamer contributor and all-round site admin Chris was from this region of Earth, I asked if he would like to meet and play some games. →  We have the best words.

Nintendo Switch Successor Hardware Power Rumors

Many gamers were sad to see the recently released Switch OLED was not a hardware update that came with a spec boost. Those gamers should take solace, though, as rumors from Japan suggest the Switch follow up will be something of a beast. It will reportedly be so powerful it will run the eShop smoothly and rarely even fail to load while browsing the deals section of the store.

Seamless.

An anonymous source from Kyoto says, “The original Switch model had trouble loading the eShop due to an internal decision to focus resources on the second, highly complex “black” theme that came built-in on all consoles.” Sources also say shopping technology that would enable users to add games to a cart without losing their current place on the storefront is unlikely to be possible on a portable device. →  Fear the old posts.

Triangle Strategy Demo Thoughts Likely to be Invalidated by the Full Release

Triangle Strategy employs a design technique I named “branching linearity” when I was pretending I was a game designer in the halcyon days of college. Instead of many choices with usually subtle or no effects on game flow, this design focuses on fewer but more dramatic choices that can significantly and (hopefully) irrevocably change the path the player takes.

It is true that Triangle Strategy also tries to weave subtler effects into its design, asking you to choose between the three virtues of thriftiness, relaxation, and stick-to-it-ivness, but the larger choices put you on distinct tracks; for example, early on in the game (and playable in the demo), you choose to visit country A or B. You cannot then go visit the other country – your choice is binary and it affects the plot and characters you may recruit. →  Did I do that?

Early to the End of the Party – videolamer NFTs

To celebrate the return of videolamer we will be offering site relevant NFTs to our diehard readers and general fans. Images such as our logo, logo with inverted colors, old logo, and the old “lamer” character made in 2 minutes using MS Paint will be available on a first come first served basis.

Because I don’t understand NFTs, I will be emailing the relevant gif or jpg to the address you provide for the price of $1,000 per file. I ask our readers to not save any of our proprietary, definitely copyrighted images in the meantime. We have a large team of high powered lawyers standing beside our GoDaddy server listening closely to the site for right clicks.

All of us at videolamer are excited to pull up our sleeves, strike while the iron is hot, and get in on the ground floor of what will inevitably prove to be the new foundation of the video game industry, the NFT. →  Screw Jesus, this article's the real deal

Oh Joy, an old video game site

Step aside Web 2.0, here comes videolamer 2.lame. Or lame.0. Whichever is stupider. We have returned to offer articles, reviews, complaints, and jokes about video games to the new generation. A lot has changed since we stopped regularly updating the site nearly a dozen years ago. Back then we didn’t even call them video games, but moving interactables. Also, we could pretend we had enough time left to do something about climate change.

2011’s best looking game.

To fill new readers in, this is a site where each contributor can write mostly whatever they want, though we generally share a passion for older and Japanese games. What we lose in unity and coherence, we gain in distinct perspectives. And what perspectives! We are all straight, white men, but one of us doesn’t even live in America. →  Now you’re reading with power.

We’re back… kind of

We’ve managed to bring the site back with https support, removed some older shared content (what even is gamegrep?) and cleaned other things up a bit.

If you happen to actually read this… let us know if anything seems to be broken!

Quantum Link Remembered

Hey reader(s),
None of us at videolamer (that I could get a hold of) recalls the Quantum Link service, although many of you no doubt remember its successor America On-Line with no small amount of fondness. This is a pretty darn cool article about the Quantum Link worthy of attention:

https://www.tinytickle.co.uk/quantum-link/

We’re not really in a state to reincarnate at the moment, but we do fondly recall the times we would write several articles a week, some of which were worth reading. We’ll keep them online as long as we can.

Keep on keeping on.

Great Greed: Or, I play bad RPGs so you don’t have to

Many, many years ago I was an avid reader of Nintendo Power.  I had already developed a taste for RPGs, although they were a bit less numerous back then.  A bunch of them were bad — and often, even Nintendo Power was willing to admit that.

Regardless, I would read each article about an RPG with fascination.  When it was a game I knew, I would enjoy flipping through the various artwork and reading about the tricky parts.  Otherwise, I’d quietly file it away in a hidden corner of my mind, to play later.

I’m finally working my way through the last few of those games I filed away — recently Paladin’s Quest and 7th Saga, and a year or so back I played through a good chunk of Arcana.  All of these games I tracked down, purchased, and (with the exception of 7th Saga, which is too tedious) played on real hardware. 

 →  I only ask one thing. Don’t read in my way.

We need to talk about the PSP Vita.

We need to talk about the PSP Vita.

It isn’t exactly lighting up the sales charts.  True, it isn’t technically out yet in the West, but if it is true that its Japanese numbers are still hovering around half a million units, then the 3DS almost matched Vita sales in its first week alone.  Unless fortunes reverse, and the Vita ends up doing gangbusters over here, I think we can agree that Sony has a problem on its hands.

What frustrates me is why this is happening.  For all appearances, the handheld is a marvel of hardware design, is relatively cheap, and has strong launch titles.  So why is it that no one is going nuts over it?  It seems to me that for all the Vita’s strengths, Sony messed up on the little things, and they’re adding up to a lot.  →  Game. James Game.

2012 Gaming Uncertainty

I wanted to write a 2012 predictions piece about how uncertain I am about what gaming in 2012 will look like.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to format such an article.  By sheer coincidence, Tim Bray recently wrote a similar piece on his personal blog (albeit about topics much more serious than gaming).  I liked his approach so much that I had to unashamedly use it as a template for my own attempt.  Here then are my Bray inspired 2012 Gaming Uncertainties.

Playstation Vita – Will the West embrace it as tepidly as they did the PSP?  And will it perform as well in Japan as everyone thinks (and hopes) it will?  Already the analysts of the world are framing this as Sony’s fight for survival, and if their words really do have an impact on the business world, then should we be afraid that they seem to have their minds already made up about the Vita’s chances? →  I can has post?

Time isn’t on my Side (and I’m okay)

Former VL writer and Powerhead Games designman Matt recently posted a question on Twitter, to which I responded as succinctly as a I could.  All told, it’s an interesting topic, so I wanted to elaborate on it a bit more in a meatier blog post.
Matt’s initial question was the following:

With so many new games being released every single day, what does that do to a player’s appreciation for a single title?

I’m not exactly sure what, if anything, he is getting at with the question, but I know what it means to me.  My response was this:

honestly? It makes me appreciate that title more, if I’ve come to see most of those new games as “noise” in the release year.

This answer is the result of a major change in my gaming habits over the year.  →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Digital Distribution is the Future — and Soon it Will Have the Past too

This evening I felt the need to sift through my old book of CDs — mostly PS1 and 2 games, but a smattering of PC.  First I noticed one game I had a digital copy of, then another, then another… and, well, things went on like this for a while.  By the end of it I had a small pile of games I had bought twice — voluntarily, of course, to support distributors bringing such old games back.  And surprisingly, I play them, too — I had not actually beaten Baldur’s Gate II until a few months ago, when I purchased it from Good Old Games.  The set (which is incomplete, since it doesn’t include Kohan 1, Seven Kingdoms, or any Blizzard games) is below.

Much of my childhood (and high school... and college)

If I had to pick favorites in here, it’d be Master of Magic, Arcanum, and MOO2 — but honestly, all of these games are pretty good. 

 →  Xenoblade Articles X

Portal 2, and Three Reasons Why I Don’t Like Sequels

This isn’t about how I don’t like Portal 2. Tomorrow (or perhaps earlier?) will be a historic day in my life. Not just because I’ll be playing Portal 2, but because it will be the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many years that I’ll actually play a game on its launch date. I barely ever pay full price for games anymore, much less preorder them. With that said, I don’t think I need to go into further detail how extremely excited I am for Portal 2.

I want to emphasize that fact so that the rest of this post isn’t misinterpreted as being critical of Portal, or any specific game. The release of Portal 2 however works well as an opportunity to discuss sequels in general, and why I almost always dislike them. →  Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Authors, Nine Articles

iPod Gaming Report

Now that I have owned an iPod Touch for several months, I figured it was time to come back and report on the iOS gaming experience. The only problem is that there hasn’t been much of an experience to speak of. I bought quite a few games, most of them highly acclaimed, and only played a handful of them. This is, in a way, a good thing. Since the games were so cheap, I didn’t waste more than a few bucks on bad purchases, and it taught me quite a bit about this brave new world of gaming.

Specifically, it is no different than the old one. Just like with the Xbox, the Wii, or the PSP, iOS devices have the potential for both great and awful games. More importantly, the same decisions which can lead to good or bad games on those “traditional” platforms are also in effect in iOS land. →  Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 5: Golden Post

Weekend in Review – Weekends Happen Once a Year

Sometimes Pat and Jay hang out and play video games. These are the chronicles of Pat and Jay hanging out and playing video games. Here are some of the old chronicles of Pat and Jay hanging out playing video games: Some month a long time ago, some month less a long time ago.

Project Berkley – No obsessive Shenmue fan’s collection is complete without the Japanese release of Virtua Fighter 3tb, since it came with a disc of scenes and interviews about the making of Shenmue (codenamed Project Berkley during development). Neither of us speak Japanese, but we were lucky enough to be joined by Jay’s girlfriend, who also doesn’t speak Japanese.

Pat: Not much to say. There is some good character concept art, and the Shenmue music always makes me wistful, but without knowledge of what Yu was saying this almost felt more like something we should do than anything else. →  The fuck does Cuno care about reading?

Potent Portables

So both Sony and Nintendo have revealed their next generation handhelds. I suppose it is time for new hardware in the portable space, though considering I only got a PSP in 2007 (and a DS in ’08), these launches still feel premature based on my own time with them. I’ll probably treat the 3ds and PSP 2 the same way I did their predecessors — I’ll largely ignore them, and wait for the price drop, the hardware to be revised, and the software library to improve before I make any move. In the dedicated console space, hardware revisions don’t mean too much (I don’t know anyone who is embarrassed for having an original 360, and people are proud of OG PS3’s), but with portables they can make a huge difference. And considering both Sony and Nintendo are pushing the boundaries of what should be considered an acceptable price for a portable, it is getting more and more risky to beta test 1st gen hardware. →  It’s time to read and chew bubblegum… and I’m all outta gum.