Video game plots must evolve

The importance of video games to human development cannot be overstated. I believe there have been three major inventions that have radically shifted the creative horizons of the human species and the reality we continue to shape for ourselves. The first would be movable type and the advent of the printed word, the second would be motion pictures, and the latest revolutionary intellectual force would be interactivity. Video games and the internet that many of them run on have irreversibly transformed the human race and set our consciousness on an exciting new course of development.

I marvel at the advancements this medium has made in my lifetime.… Read the rest

Review – Professor Layton and the Curious Village

As the perpetually annoying sidekick Luke’s cockney accent will quickly inform you at the start of the game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village tells the story of the eponymous Professor Layton, renowned puzzle solver, and his apprentice Luke as they investigate the death of the Baron Reinhold in the curious village of St. Mystere (I hear that’s heavy-handed-plot-device-ese for “mystery”). More specifically, Layton is tasked with settling the Baron’s will and finding the enigmatic “golden apple” it references.

Getting to the bottom of this riddle will require interacting with the various townsfolk of St. Mystere– sounds easy, right? Only one one little problem, the people of St.… Read the rest

2008 Game Predictions part 1

2008 promises to be an excellent year for gaming. The 360’s software lineup should remain strong and the Wii and PS3 are coming into their own. From Spore to Metal Gear Solid 4, there will be some huge titles coming out soon, but will they actually live up to the hype?

Based on released information, knowledge of development history and gut feeling, we have chosen some of the games we most look forward to this year and predicted how they will turn out. These should be about as likely to be accurate as any analysts predictions and we charge less.

Golden Jew’s predictions

Civilization Revolution
I’ve written about this already, so this feels cheap and easy (like your… sister?).… Read the rest

DS games on the go!

So you have a DS but you don’t have the time to sink into long playing sessions. Or in my case, you have the attention span of a seven year old on crack. The whole concept of the aging process bringing patience is a lie and I’m living proof. When I was ten I could sit for hours and rock Final Fantasy 2 on the SNES, now I can barely sit through a thirty minute session of Phantom Hourglass. I think I am turning into more of a casual gamer and I know for sure that my mind is usually elsewhere when I flip the switch on my black-as-my-soul DS.… Read the rest

Review – Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations

I recently went through some effort to prove that most games are entirely about play mechanics and that story and characters are mere dressing. This concept is echoed by some great designers. In On Game Design, Chris Crawford describes interaction as the key to all games — more, deeper interactions make for a better game. Judging by his designs, Miyamoto agrees.

Don’t look at this picture. Too many spoilers.

With this in mind I face a problem. The Phoenix Wright trilogy stands among my favorite games despite their being little more than books on DS carts. And not even Choose Your Own Adventure books that create the illusion of control; there is only one correct thing to do at all points in Ace Attorney, and often you will be forced to run through all items in your inventory in hopes of showing the right someone the right something.… Read the rest

Retrospectives – Metroid Prime

I don’t know about you guys, but with all these Metroid videos popping up all over the place, coupled with the release of three Metroid titles in a three week span (Metroid, Super Metroid on the VC, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii), I have developed full-blown Metroid-fever. GameTrailers has an awesome video retrospective on the entire Metroid series, while Nintendo has been so kind as to relay eight preview videos for the soon-to-be Wii masterpiece, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, right to our very own Wiis.

But then I became a little sad. Corruption is going to end the Prime trilogy as we know it.… Read the rest

Review – Mr. Robot

I entered into the futuristic world of Mr. Robot with some apprehension. The game is based on a lot of stuff I am not overly fond of; puzzle games, platformers, and robots. I was not too keen on the title of the game, either, because other than Mr. T, who was the last good Mr. Anything you can think of? And so help me, if you dis Mr. T, I do indeed pity you, fool.

The one thing this game had going for it is that it is one of my friend’s all time favorite games and he has very good taste.… Read the rest

Little things that make a big difference: Visible enemies in RPGs

Playing Chrono Trigger today, I noticed what a nice change of pace being able to see enemies on the screen was. The Saga games may be another RPG that shows bad guys, but that series does it in a way that makes wandering maps akin to a running play in 10 Yard Fight. Chrono’s enemies are different.

Sure, you can avoid many of them, but the little animation they run through pre-battle goes a long way to immerse us in their world. These aren’t invisible baddies who materialize randomly – they’re always out there, even if they’re hiding in the bushes.… Read the rest

Make my RPG

The RPG Maker XP community can be harsh. Members tend to look down on any game developed using RPG Maker XP that contains the default graphics and music. Not wanting to play a 50th game that uses the exact same character graphics and boss music makes sense.

But then there don’t seem to be 50 finished games. Much of the community expertly ignores a new game if it looks old hat, but games rarely see completion. It doesn’t make much sense why people are so sick of character art they have only seen used in five finished titles, but not wanting to use that character art in their own games is what leads to so few finished products.… Read the rest

Retrospectives – Suikoden series, part 3

Suikoden IV

The fourth game in the Suikoden series, putting it kindly, is the “black sheep.” It features more realistic graphics, nicer portraits, good voice acting, and a good translation. It takes place in a vast, thalassic island chain, which you roam on impressive Exploration Era-esque warships complete with rune-based cannon.

The sad part is that nearly everything else has jumped ship, so to speak. Though the game is quite pretty on the surface and has all the requisites to be a Suikoden game, it is highly regressive. Konami realized they had struck a “too complex” chord with its audience and took a few too many steps backward in an attempt to make things right.… Read the rest