Review – BIT.TRIP BEAT

It’s been 37 years now since Pong became the first commercially successful videogame. 37 years isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things, so with gaming still so young it’s not surprising that only recently there has been a popular interest in its history. Although the medium owes its existence to computer technology, games are unlike most computer software in the sense that the latest versions aren’t always the “best.” Every game offers its own unique experience.

Unfortunately most games don’t manage to transcend time completely, and large aspects of them are trapped as artifacts of their era. Essentially no one today could enjoy Pong the way its first audience did in 1972. This is why remakes are not just popular, but essential for most games. And sometimes someone will make a completely new game that borrows the best qualities from games of the past, and integrates them with the best qualities of today. →  SNK Article Classics Vol. 1

Review – Wario Land: Shake It!

I have been trying to figure out the “new” Nintendo ever since the Wii launch, and a game like Warioland Shake It! both enlightens and confounds me. It is perhaps the best picture of what Nintendo can do (as opposed to what they may want to do) with their traditions, yet I cannot find a reviewer that sees it the same way as me. While in all likelihood this is a clue that I am going off on a wild tangent, I cannot help but feel that Shake It! is a sign of a community that at times has an ass backwards opinion of Nintendo, or in some cases is having a hard time adjusting.

I am going to put it bluntly – Shake It! is a kid’s game, a description which I do not use pejoratively. →  All your posts are belong to us.

Now on Virtual Console: My childhood

This Monday the Virtual Console got its first batch of Commodore 64 titles (in the states). Though I haven’t played the released games, it was a momentous occasion for me because the C64 was home to my first gaming experiences. While the other kids were playing their Nintendos, I was learning run “*” ,8,1 (only with the shortcut of “u” plus the shift key that yielded some bizarre symbol I don’t remember).

The majority of American gamers likely haven’t even touched a Commodore so VC sales will probably be pretty slow. Honestly, I’m not sure they deserve to be brisk – most of the titles I remember were fun at the time but seem archaic and shallow now. Still, I feel a responsibility to present a list of favorites just in case the planets align and Nintendo releases good C64 games and you happen to find yourself with five bucks to burn. →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War

Review – World of Goo

What a strange and intriguing little beast this is. I’m hesitant to call it a game. It most certainly is a game in the sense that it places a series of challenges before you, with rewards meted out along the way, and then a credit sequence plays. But in some ways that are intangible, and other that are, it doesn’t quite feel like a game. Before I go off on some bizarre experiential recollection of my time spent with it, I will give you a more straightforward recounting of what I felt about the game. I believe in times past they were called “reviews”.

There is a lot to like about World of Goo.

I’m going to get the look and feel out of the way first, because it’s pretty much perfect. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Review – No More Heroes

No More Heroes came out a little more than a year ago, but I’m reviewing it now since the current economy is helping me appreciate older games I already have lying around my room. I remember playing it soon after it came out and thought it was fun at the time. Once I beat single player story mode though I essentially lost interest in ever picking it back up because that was all there is to it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a game simply having a twenty or so hour long single player mode, but once you beat it you’re through. There’s no way to select levels afterward and replay your favorite parts, so you simply have to make the whole twenty hour investment all over again in order to get the full experience. →  It’s not you, it’s me.

Playing catch up – Phantasy Star IV

I was a Nintendo kid growing up (until that stopped being cool, when I defected to Sony). I got a Genesis very late in the game, so I’m still playing catch-up on the Phantasy Star games. A couple months ago, the final game worth mentioning in the series was released on Virtual Console. I played through Phantasy Star 2 several months ago, so I figured I’d give its better-regarded descendant a go now that current-gen RPG releases have calmed down a bit.

Phantasy Star 4 deserves all of the acclaim it gets. If its fans are not heard as loudly as those of other, better-known series, they should be. Is it the Second Coming? Perhaps not. But it has all the requirements for a good RPG (aside from only one of two established religions being evil – I’ll overlook that). →  Hell is other gamers.

An ode to a fallen memory card

In a spontaneous fit of impatience and retardation, I recently reformatted my GameCube memory card. Tales of Symphonia, which I picked up after not having played in two years, insisted the card was corrupt and needed to be wiped clean first by the GameCube’s internal mechanism, then by being throw into a wall. Instead of thinking it through and realizing I’d just been playing Metroid Prime and it saved fine and fearing I’d lose my 30 hours of Symphonia-ing, I hit “Sure, erase all of my saved games, it’s not like I put any time or effort into them” then practiced my pitching for 15 minutes.

The bad news is it was for naught as I had no clue what I needed to do next in Symphonia. After reading all of the back story (nice feature by the way) and then wandering and sailing and giant monster riding around the map for an hour I gave up knowing it was just as well. →  Fear the old posts.

Counting the Game Industry’s Gold

Like most industries, the gaming industry is bound by the conventional economic wisdom that you must spend money to make money. Historically, that’s meant taking a loss on every game system sold (with the notable exception being most Nintendo consoles) in order to tap into selling game after game to console owners. This measure of success is known as the “attachment rate” or “tie ratio.” A somewhat (November 2008) dated Gamasutra chart shows that the Xbox was in the lead, with 6.6 games/system sold, followed by the Wii at 5.5 and the PS3 at 5.3.

This statistic has historically been a powerful metric for measuring market penetration and overall success for a console. After all, what’s the point of selling a console if you can’t sell game after game? But as with many things in today’s integrated media world, the lines have blurred and traditional metrics don’t necessarily tell the whole story. →  Drakenread 2

Wii gets another once HD game

EA recently announced (or Twittered) that it is bringing Dead Space to the Wii. The company says they “will rival Nintendo in terms of quality,” which is frighteningly close to Ubisoft’s claim that in ’08 their Wii games would be of “Nintendo-like quality.” Of course, Ubisoft’s Wii games are shitty so EA’s bold words don’t really inspire me.

Empty promises aside, an alarming trend is beginning to emerge – HD games with watered down Wii ports. I am a proponent of good games getting wider audiences and if you’re reading this site you’re likely a “core” gamer, in which case you likely agree with me (unless you’re one of those casuals-gone-core via GTA and Halo who hates the fact that people who aren’t 16-21 year old males play games). Games that expand gaming’s audience is good for the industry – people who wouldn’t play these games now may, and there’s the potential casual gamers move upstream by buying other core titles. →  To be this lame takes ages.

News We Care About Update

You don’t catch someone by running slower (than they are running)
Eurogamer is one of my favorite sites but they’ve hit on one of my many pet peeves – inaccurate sales language. In Japan, the PS3 has been doing a little bit better lately while Wii sales have been slowing down. Eurogamer describes this as Sony catching up to Nintendo.

The Wii is actually pulling away from the PS3 at a less dramatic pace but every week it outsells its competition, the Wii is indeed putting more distance between it and the PS3. In order for Sony to even begin to catch up, more PS3s need to be sold than Wiis.

I think this stuff may actually be calculus, which would possibly explain why so many paid writers can’t grasp sales shifts. →  Read Theft Auto 4

The next gen consoles then and now – Revisited

I wrote this little ditty sometime last summer, analyzing all three consoles and how they had changed since launch. Since then the market has seen more major shifts, so I want to take yet another look at the Wii, 360 and PS3, and see what we might expect from them in 2009.

Microsoft
Then: I claimed before that Microsoft looked to be getting wishy washy, constantly tweaking the policies and features behind the 360, leaving early adopters in the cold and not focusing on the important issues that need fixing.

Now: Microsoft embarrassed my predictions through and through. The Red Rings of Death have waned, and whether or not it is a good thing, the community has mostly gotten used to dealing with them when they do occasionally pop up, much like we got used to replacing old PS2s. →  Xenosaga 2: Jenseits von Gut und Pöst

Review – Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Tales of Symphonia is one of the Gamecube’s greatest RPGs. I only got around to finishing it a couple of months ago at the urging of several friends. I was further encouraged to play through it by the impending release of its sequel, Dawn of the New World. Unfortunately, DotNW does not live up to its predecessor’s legacy and instead spends much of the time in its shadow.

Some of this is inevitable. Tales of Symphonia ends with the merger of two worlds, and much of the sequel deals with what happens afterward. The two lands of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla do not really get along, and bizarre weather events trouble the entire world. A lot of blame is naturally cast at the heroes of the first game. Lloyd, in particular, seems to have gone off the deep end as he instigates a massacre of a town during the game’s beginning. →  You think about everything.

Golden Jew’s Nuggets of Wisdom #2

Cooking Games

This is a slippery slope I’m about to embark upon, but what do I care, you clicked this link, so you’re stuck with me. I can’t be any worse than doing your job, right?

I get video game escapism. I was a nerdy kid before blooming into my awesome alpha male self, so I understand the appeal of being a wizard, or space marine fighting space aliens, or a pirate ninja. Even though sports games don’t appeal to me, I understand why someone wants to play football and play like Tom Brady, or manage a college football team like the UF Gators, or rape a girl and get away with it like Kobe.

But where I get really fucking confused is when games like Cooking Mama become popular. I understand that there is this genre of “casual” games for people, where instead of trying to decide the proper build order for Protoss to rush Zerg, they want to just hit a tennis ball around with the Wii controller. →  Eh, I've got nothing better to do.

Dragon Questing

Before they even released their next iteration, Square Enix has announced that Dragon Quest 10 will see the light of day on the Wii. The announcement comes as a surprise to no one (which is different than the angry genre fans that bet and lost on the PS3 carrying the jRPG torch). The question still remains as to what this will actually mean for the console.

While it is true that Dragon Quest has always appeared on the most popular console of the time, the reasons for this have always varied. For DQ 1-6, Nintendo was so dominant that there was no question as to where to put the series. For 7 and 8, Enix took a “wait and see” approach before choosing Sony, and released them many years after either Playstation had established their own dominance. →  READ3R

The Small, White Elephant in the Room

Every month I get game magazines with beautiful characters from HD games splashed across their covers. The latest EGM features the Watchmen, the newest Edge details Little Big Planet and Game Developer dives into downloadable XBLA game The Age of Booty. Roundtable discussions in these magazines with developers and producers invariably focus on HD games and the challenge of creating and bringing them to market.

If you don’t follow the monthly NPD report you probably would have no idea that Nintendo has a significant lead in the American market. While the old guard of gaming press has been slow to downright resistant in accepting the Wii, the blame for the lack of Wii game coverage rests almost entirely on publishers. EGM has a tough time doing a cover story on non-existent games, and, while Babiez Party may be better than Mass Effect, diapers don’t look good on front pages. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

Review – Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Say what you will of Activision and Neversoft’s handling of Guitar Hero, but the idea of themed games revolving around a particular band is a good one. Celebrating the history and catalog (as well as the conflicts) of a world famous band is a great honor. It allows young players to learn some rock history, and for their moms and dads to relive their younger years.

Say what you will about Aerosmith, but the band fits the above description, and have been a huge influence on the rock world for better or worse. Finally, I get to say that while I like Neversoft more than a lot of gamers, there are a few kinks they need to address if they wish to continue making these themed games. GH Aerosmith is better than I expected, featuring more care and new content than I anticipated. →  Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘Game Over.’

My Life as a Hermitic King

Around day 100 or so it starts to become painfully clear that playing My Life as a King consists of little more than assigning spreadsheet characters to spreadsheet dungeons. As this understanding of the game mechanics slowly dawned on me, I began to go to bed earlier each day (virtual king me, not real me).

Calling Chime in every morning to put me back to sleep after I had finished running to the sign post and assigning every adventurer to the open behest I was met with the question, “Are you tired already, sire?” At first I felt like an emperor who had come down with mononucleosis.

This gave way to my recitation of the few lines of Macbeth’s soliloquy I still recall. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow… The days had blended into each other and none of them seemed to matter at all. →  Fine, but this article then no more.

Peripheral Disdain

Hate Goes HERE

My girlfriend is pretty solid into Mario Kart. This was made clear to me when we started dating, that any attempt to usurp her Mario Kart dominance would be met with pure and unfettered force; the kind you would expect from the core of an exploding sun.

Not one to back down to that sort of challenge, I wrapped up my attempt at her throne in a pretty bow and gave it to her, a shit eating grin slapped on, for her birthday along with Mario Kart Wii and an additional wheel. This additional wheel, it was for me. For me to use to kick her ass.

Before you lose your dork-load trying to tell me how amazing the GC controller is and how lame we are to be using the wheel it should be mentioned that her golden path of pwnership was swathed wide with a wavebird, and that these wheels we got – we got them for fun. →  Ridge Reader V

Diary of a Guitar Hero Loser

Guitar Loser

Recently I wrote of my relative experience in the area of playing the video games and how it related to my ability to enjoy Halo 3. My cocksure countenance and, frankly, fairly insulting prose garnered a respectable number of responses whose general flavor I would describe as mired in absolute and laser-focused ire. Ire mired, as it were.

It is now weeks later and I own Guitar hero 3. I purchased the Wii version because I thought that plugging my Wii-mote into the Les Paul would somehow be more awesome than gaining achievements or playing friends online with less than thirty layers of fucking moon cryptography between myself and those people Nintendo just assumes are trolling the Wii-nternets looking for kids to say nasty things to. It is unfortunate that I must report to you that there is absolutely no reason to go this route. →  [post launches in virtual reality]

What Call of Duty has taught me about the Wii

I’m just about willing to say that Call of Duty 3 is the most important game on the Wii right now. I couldn’t even finish it, yet it showed me a lot about the console that I never thought about before (or simply disregarded as false).

For instance, we’ve all heard the complaints from lazy gamers who are afraid of being active when playing the Wii, thinking they will get tired after only a few short minutes. Even before launch this was often mocked, and once people started playing, it seemed even sillier. But it isn’t silly at all. True, most games will not tire you out – even Wii Sports won’t unless you play it like a workout. In fact I’d say the Wii makes things much less tiring by allowing you to hold the controller in a variety of positions. →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War