Chirico_Cuvie / Member

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Chirico_Cuvie Blog

The facts are starting to reveal themselves...

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If you were at all concerned about the events of November, and the more recent events regarding the staff at Gamespot, read this:

http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8587828&publicUserId=4561231

It sheds some harsh light on this site and causes me to again take my leave, this time for good. I'll occasionally return to look up old games, but after reading that I felt sick.

I realize that there are good people that work here, but they are in no position to bring about change, so it's a case of the band playing on.

I suggest you follow the sites of Jeff, Alex, Frank, and Rich and I expect to see something special from the dream team soon.

Let cooler heads prevail...

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After venting my frustrations, jumping to conclusions (in my defense most did) hearing more facts, and visiting the dumass boards on Gametrailers. I've decided to cancel my TotalAcASS subscription, but remain on with my freeloader general account.

I'll remain to support the few that are left behind, but I now will put even less value (is that possible?) on the reviews, not just here but everywhere. The previews, shots, video, and news are still fine. My biggest hurdle will be the original shows, without certain people it will be far less entertaining. I probably will avoid them for the time being and stick to reading content.

Oh, and Mass Effect is the friggin' best game I've played in years.

Later, it's been...interesting.

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Gametrailers is looking to be the new place to go. Even though it's owned body and soul by Viacom and MTV, they're at least honest about it. I won't miss the pissant moderators knocking my Nintendo comments down, or the PS3 fanboys that can't come to grips with the fact that like me, they own a $600 DVD player.

I do look forward to using profanity, speaking like an adult instead of a 3-year-old, and not worrying about being suspended by overzealous mods and reported by douchebags that have nothing better to do than defend nintendo.

The chirico name dies with gamespot, but Duketogo lives on GT.

PS Hilary Goldstien of IGN should be fired for his Assassins Creed Video Review, it was just as bad, if not worse than Jeff's for KL. He just pussied out and stuck with a 7.7, even though the review read like a 4.5, but what do you expect from a dude named Hilary.

The charade is over...

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Like many other GS readers, I'm just now discovering the fate of founding staffer Jeff Gerstmann. He was the one guy that kept me coming to the site. The GS Live content with Jeff, Rich, Ryan, Carrie, Greg and Alex are what made me decide to start paying for the TotalAccess account to see the high res video. One by one those people started to leave. It's not uncommon for many to jump at the chance to be a part of the creation of something you've loved for so long, many went on to work for game companies, others for more practical reasons. But Jeff was dedicated to being the best at what he did, be a game reviewer and be the top one in the field. Even in your final act at GS, you did what few others would, and put your integrity up against politics and revealed the biggest sham in the industry.

Which brings me to the real topic of this; I've been playing games since the mid 70's and when the early magazines like Electronic Games, VG&CE, and follow ups like EGM and Nintendo Power became the standard magazines, there was always suspicion that ads were a deciding factor in reviews. It was never proven, and usually it was written off as the lamentations of fanboys unhappy with a review. Now in the days of webzines and banner ads, advertising is more present than ever. Often I'd wonder why a review was taking so long, noticing that the site was plastered ads for that game, it seemed a little too coincidental that the review wasn't up until the game had a few days on the retail shelf. It's now been made painfully obvious that these reviews are often bought and paid for by corporate sponsors. It's not as bad as magazines like Play that give games like Lair a 10 along with the cover and 8 pages of saccharin review, but often a game would get a casual 7 that was good enough to appease the sponsor and low enough to make the bitter pill the reviewer had to swallow a little more palatable.

Now the fallout begins and we shall see how sites and magazines spin this. A few decades ago radio stations were actually prosecuted for "payola" the act of playing songs for money and benefits by the record companies. It still goes on today in some form, but it's more about getting exclusive interviews or promotional appearences than actual monatery rewards. I doubt we'll see the same thing, since video games are still viewed by many as a child's toy - thanks to Nintendo - so it will be largely ignored by people outside the industry. That's why we as the informed consumer and enthusiast of this hobby have to follow Jeff's lead and put our money where are mouth is. Do not buy games at face value, do not support the video game sites with paid subscriptions, do read forums and player reviews to get your impression if a game is worth purchasing. Until we show that we won't be part of this backroom deal crap, they will continue to do it.

I hope Jeff will find work at a new site, maybe start one himself, but in any case it's been real and I hope to see you on the flip side.

PS Kane & Lynch wasn't that bad, and certianly not worth the hassle of this magnitude.

Why we play games, achievements, value, and the myth of the long action game.

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Lately I've been seeing comments on the "short" length of recent releases. Stranglehold, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Lair, and Heavenly Sword are the subjects of late. All of those game have been accused of criminally short length with little reason to play the game again. Initially I jumped aboard the train of nay-sayers lambasting these games for the lack of "value". Some quotes were, "$60 isn't worth a game I can beat in 6 hours.", or "They expect people to pay full price for game that would be considered a demo years ago." Another quote was regarding the lack of unlockables, a staple of gaming for many years.

After reading these comments in the forums and below news reports, I came to the realization that "value" kept popping up. Whether it was about the price of the game opposed to its brevity, or the experience as a whole regarding time invested with nothing to show for it. It illustrated the fact that people are no longer satisfied with just playing a game and enjoying it. It has to have some sort of achievement, whether it's an actual one like the XBOX 360's or some semi-tangible object in the game that you can see or show off, proving you went the extra mile to get it.

Is this why we play games? To hang a digital trophy on a make-believe wall? I play games for the same reason I watch movies/television or read. To experience something that I myself can't or wouldn't do in reality. To enjoy a story that takes me away from my hum-drum life. To live vicariously through a character that is more capable than myself. I've been playing games for 30 years now, and ever since I was playing a phoney ping pong game (something I suck at in reality) I was hooked. I've killed dragons, saved princesses, saved the world dozens of times and killed scores of just about anything that draws breath. All with the satisfaction of seeing a screen with variations of the words "Congradurations", "fin", or "the winner is you". I've never needed my initials on a high score list, substituting ASS, DIK, or any other three letter word to prove the point. Now it seems that if a game doesn't have 20 unlockable costumes, a new character and 1000 "points" to add to some virtual status meter that it's not worth your time/money.

With modern games now regularly taking 3-4 years to develop and costing as much as a Hollywood blockbuster, the price of games has naturally gone up. I remember when the first 360 games came out at $60, everyone freaked out, calling it robbery. Well remember that video games have always cost around $50. It was robbery back when it was three guys in an office in Sunnyvale, making Food Fight. Even the 8-bit and 16-bit games were nowhere near the budget of todays games. If anything, I'd say that now more than ever are we getting the most for our money.

When was the last time you played an action game that lasted more than 8-10 hours? Better yet, when did you ever record how long it took you to complete a game in hours? This perceived notion that an 8 hour game is too short for your money is unfounded. Go back and look at some of the games you grew up with. I remember it taking me weeks to beat Castlevania, yet I've seen it done in less than an hour. I remember playing Altered Beast in the arcade for over an hour, yet in reality it's about a 15 minute game when you're good at it. Recently a game like Shadow of the Colossus feels like a long and arduous journey, but if you counted up the time it took you to play, it wouldn't add up to more than several hours. Even epic games like God of War and Halo aren't any longer than 6-10 hours.

Go back and examine the games you perceive as long and fulfilling action titles and really think about how long you played them. It may surprise you how short the experience was. Was it a rip-off? Did you enjoy it any less because you now know it was a few hours long? If a game is a fulfilling experience and takes you on a journey through an exciting story, haven't you got your money's worth?

5 things the Virtual Console needs.

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When the Wii was still known as The Revolution, the first details of the Virtual Console were made known. The description stated that classic hits from Nintendo's past consoles would be available to download and play. This wasn't that enticing because while Nintendo has a great catalogue of classic games, many of my favorites weren't made by Nintendo. Later on it was revealed (along with the terrible Wii name) that the Virtual Console would encompass not only Nintendo's titles but third-party titles that happened to be made for their hardware, as well as other classic systems. Now I was interested.

I've dabbled in the whole emulator scene, but I never played any for a length of time since using a keyboard to play Super Castlevania IV got old fast. That and the slew of questionable download sites for the ROMs made me nervous about what I was actually downloading. This way I could safely and legally download some of my all-time favorite games for a nominal fee, and play them on a current system with a proper controller. So far I've been pleased with what has been done with the VC. I've been playing some games I hadn't spent much time with in twenty years. The ****c controller is pretty good for some games, but the N64 controller was a very strange beast and it's apparent that no one controller can rule them all. This brings me to my first point that needs addressing:

1. Make classic controllers for the VC. I'm really surprised this hasn't been done yet. I'd love to have an authentic classic controller that would correspond with the system I was playing at the time. Dig up the molds for the Genesis, NES, SNES, N64 and Turbo controllers, install a Wiimote-friendly plug to the cord and now the experience is complete. Their currently are some homebrew mods out there like the retroport, and some plans that require soldering and electronics knowledge, but the market out there would rather buy a boxed product that either worked with your old controllers or a new controller outright.

 

While I've been playing some of the VC games I remember old patterns and strategies from playing these games back then. It really shows you how the mind keeps stuff filed away, until a particular stimuli kindles that memory, bringing it back from some dark recess. This brings up a second point:

 

2. Make new "Retroguides" for old games. I know the Internet has many FAQs on classic games, but unless you feel like printing out a book or you're sitting there next to your computer, the need for a strategy guide for some of these games is essential; especially for the generations of people that never played these games and and aren't used to games with no saves, passwords or unlimited continues. Again, I'm surprised old Bradygames hasn't launched a preliminary strike of "Classic Guides".

 

Whenever I see the next batch of titles announced for the VC, I feel obligated to offer my opinion and shed some light on the games being released for those that may have never heard of these games. I've been big into games since the beginning in the 70's so I'll sometimes offer what it was like when a particular game came out and how people like myself reacted and thought about a game back then. This is the third thing I'd like to see:

3. Include some vintage reviews, ads and insight from industry insiders in the games' documentation. This is often overlooked, and while considered by some to be useless filler, it can be a very interesting glimpse into the history of a particular game and sometimes the era in which it was released. The VC does have competition, XBLA and physical game collections often include bonuses like these to varying degrees. I recently bought an import title called "Oretachi Game Centre: (Castlevania)" It included the game, a CD that had the original midi tracks from the ROMs, a reproduction arcade flyer, manual, and a detailed essay on the game and the history of its development. All in Japanese of course but you get the idea. Other compilations from Namco, Capcom, Konami and other always offer some insight into the history of the game and bonus content. I'd love to see an interview with the creative team behind Contra, or Miyamoto's thoughts on the development of Zelda. Some people complain the the price of VC games is too much, this could help add value to the titles.

 

While perusing some of my old games I came across a few that I still have the original boxes for. The art for Castlevania is just as impressive now as it was then, the art for Mega Man is so bizarre and really hides the greatness of the game it represents, and the picture of Fabio on Ironsword is far more funnier than it was back then when he was unknown. This brings up my fourth point:

4. Include the original box art for the VC games. Much like old record album sleeves or lunchboxes, a certain nostalgia surrounds old boxes for video games. I remember my friend used to keep every box he got, I would give him my boxes too and he would ask others as well. He would tape them together with duct tape on the back forming this huge mass of cardboard. He then hung this huge mosaic on his wall, it was quite impressive until the whole mess ripped the nails out of the drywall and it fall on him in the middle of the night. Places like itunes offer a similar feature with a window showing the album art, and I think this would be a nice little option to display if you wanted to use the boxes as icons instead of the title screens in the menu.

 

While looking at the selection of titles on the VC I noticed that many of the games are very similar and some of the systems aren't getting the big titles that were the staples of anyone that owned it back then. I realize that spacing out the games over time will ensure a steady supply of quality games over the years, but the NES alone had several hundred games under its belt. While I don't expect to see every one on the VC I'd say that I can think of a hundred or more that would be worthy. I also see that while the Nintendo systems are getting the most coverage, the Genesis and Turbo in particular are getting a fraction of the games. This brings me to my fifth and final suggestion:

5. Include more games for other systems and don't keep size to a minimum. This will require the Wii to handle downloaded games differently, currently you can't save them to a larger memory card, and the internal memory is only so large but this is easily addressed with a system update. I have my Turbo Duo ready to play games. It's all hooked up and I've got the games in my media rack right next to my PS3 games. The same goes for my Sega CD, Saturn, PS1, Dreamcast, and 3DO. These systems too are classics that represent the generation after the cartridge format. My main point is that the Turbo Duo is where 75% of the best games for that system were released for. By limiting the file size to cart-based games you're limiting the potential for others to see that system shine. If you look at a Turbo CD game, you'll find that the actual game data isn't much bigger than the cart games. All the data is the music and voice overs for the cutscenes. The technology at the time didn't allow for digital compression, and midi was still very much, midi. So the developers used Red Book audio, which is what audio CDs used, so every 10 minutes of audio equals 100MB of data. This was also back when CDs only held 650 MB of data. The best way to fix this is to encode the audio into a digital format and compress it down to a more manageable level. This will require some work but it will add a good 30-60 games to the VC list and you can make them 900 points or something. I can tell you right now the people that want Dracula X for the Super CD will buy a Wii for it, it's actually cheaper than buying it on CD.

While my focus was on the Turbo CD, I do want to see games for the Sega CD, Saturn, Dreamcast, 3DO and if possible the PS1. The option to explore vintage PC gaming is there too. With the Wiimote you've got a virtual mouse and a USB slot for a keyboard. Games from the age of the Commodore 64, Amiga, VCS and early IBM are just as cherished and many are unplayable on current hardware. What I'm trying to say is keep an open mind and don't focus on how many versions of Zelda or Mario from consoles past are available on the VC. You've got a unique platform that caters to a vast audience, take advantage of it.