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JustPlainLucas Blog

Now Playing #123: A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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Oh, how I've tried to finish you.  I started you once when I first played you back on the Super Nintendo, but got suck in one of the crystal dungeons in the Dark World.  I tried you again when I purchased you on the Game Boy Advance, but got distracted and moved on to other games.  Now that you have a sequel inbound on the 3DS, I'm getting the call to try you again.  This time, I WILL finish you!

And I forgot how hard this game is.  I mean, it's not that it's hard, it's just I have to get  used to the thing all over again.  It's so easy to get hit by the jerkish movements and the weird attack angles of Link's sword.  I've died more times during the first dungeon than I think I ever did in a 3D Zelda game... :?  Damn, I'm rusty.  Anyway, this game brings back a lot of memories, most particularly the music which is still classic.  I just finished the first dungeon and got the Pendant of Courage, and I can't wait to move on to the next.  

I'm playing it on my old DS Phat, because like an idiot, I got rid of my DS Lite.  I loved that thing.  Anyway, I decided to get this beauty as well.  

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It's the Ice Blue Japanese version, and I opted for this one as it was selling for 99 versus 129 that the rest of the models were going for.  Anyway, I forgot that this title doesn't sleep when you close the system.  You have to actually pause the game and select the Sleep option, and then you need to hold both shoulder buttons and the select button to get it out of sleep.  Took a bit of getting used.

Back to the game, I still remember loads of it, like getting the flippers from the Zoras so that I could swim the waters.  I also remember the worm boss, the same one shown in the new Link to the Past, and I remember some puzzles really stumping me, especially a couple in the crystal dungeons.  Not looking forward to revisiting those.  Maybe they won't be so hard, maybe they'll be harder?

Also, I'm really glad gameplay has evolved since Link to the Past, because only have one button for a tool really sucks.  :P  I'm always swapping the boomerang out for the lantern or the bombs or the arrows.  I also forgot just how useless the map for the dungeons was.  And yes, I did try to attack the chickens to see if they'd bombard me again.  :P  So yeah, really looking forward to actually playing this game through completion this time around.  Embarassed that I still haven't.. :(

Nintendo communicating differently

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By now, everyone's heard Nintendo won't be holding a major E3 press conference.  

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-04-25-nintendo-ditches-e3-press-conference-in-favour-of-behind-closed-doors-events

But that won't mean they won't be at E3 at all.  They will still hold two events on the morning of E3's first day of Tuesday, June 11th.  These meetings will be closed-door, meaning we the general public won't get to see what Nintendo will be showing off the moment they're unveiling it.  We'll need to wait for press attendees to publish their videos and articles so that we can learn what was shown.  

I will be honest, this feels very weird.  I've always watched what I called the Big 5: Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and of course Nintendo.  Not seeing them on the big stage seems like a gaping hole.  As much as I've grown tired of Iwata and Reggie, I'll still miss them.  E3 had a lot of historic moments for Nintendo.  They announced the Revolution as the Wii.  They made every single preson jealous of envy of the attendees when girls passed through the audience with playable 3DSs.  They confused everyone with the Wii U, while at the same time garnering applause for trying something different yet again.

Then of course, there are the game announcements.  With the Wii U in a death stall, everyone was relying on this year's E3 to really get the ball rolling again for Nintendo.  We'll still get the game announcements, if Nintendo still has any surprises up their sleeves.  We just won't be getting them in the same fashion that we usually have.  

Nintendo began doing their Nintendo Directs back on October 21st, 2011 in Japan and North America.  These mini conferences broadcasted directly to consumers via their PCs or Nintendo devices ran just about every month.  They announced news games, featured gameplay footage of previous announcements and talked about software enhancements.  They've been giving information to consumers on a year round basis instead of keeping every single  secret for major shows such as E3.  It's because of this that having a major conference at E3 doesn't feel as important to Nintendo anymore.  

And well, it's not just Nintendo that doesn't want to wait until E3 to start sharing information.  On Feburary 20th, Sony announced the PS4.  They spent hours unveiling features and announcing games.  They didn't show the system itself, and they did withhold dates and SKU pricing, obviously saving the official announcements for E3.  It was smart of Sony to do that, because it made gamers salivate even more for E3.  Also, Microsoft plans to do the same, announcing their follow up system on May 21st, just three weeks before their own E3 conference on June 11th.  Will they confirm or deny the rumors on May 21st, or will we have to wait for E3?  Regardless, we just have to wait. 

This is yet another way that Nintendo's changing.  Is it for the better?  Some say it's a smart move because it's promoting better communication among the actual audience they're marketing their products to, as they're less interested in all the business and investor talk.  Others view it as a weakness, saying that Nintendo's lack of stage presence is an admittance of succumbing the continual poundings they've received in the industry thus far.  Whether it's for better or for worse, I will miss seeing that Nintendo tab under GameStop's E3 conference page this year.  :(

Now Playing #122: Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins

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I've been waiting for this game about as long as (ok, a month longer) the Wii U title.  Unfortunately, I'm not as excited about it.  The Chase Begins is a prequel to Wii U's Lego City Undercover, and as such it takes place in the very same city.  For the most part, the city's identical to that of the Wii U game, but there are some parts that are still under construction. The story follows Chase as he begins his career as an officer rounding up criminal after criminal, eventually having him going after the most criminal of criminals, Rex Fury. 

Here's where the game starts to lose it for me.  The presentation is lacking voice acting, which only occurs during prerendered cutscenes.  I loved the first game so much, because of the constant spoken dialogue.  It was also well written and very humorous, and it just made the entire game delightful.  The lack of voice acting here in this game has a really negative effect.  It has almost a sterilizing effect on the game's charm.  They don't even mumble like in older Lego games.  It's just so... bland.

Unfortunately, since I'm not enjoying the game that much on a presentation level, the basic gameplay just isn't a lot of fun.  I now grow bored of the constant enemy encounters where I have to continue to beat them up before I can put them in cuffs, something that just took one attack to do so in the Wii U game.  It's monotonous and just not very fun.  The structure of the game's missions has also been changed.  Instead of 15 standalone missions taking place in their own enclosed environments, the missions in Chase Begins are chopped up into two or three minute tasks.  Some take a little longer, but there's no solid missions, and as such, no stud collecting goals to achieve, no hidden red bricks (they're all in the city this time), no police badges and not even simple puzzle solving. 

An open world also seems to be too much for the 3DS to handle, or maybe TT couldn't find an effective way to code the game.  The game now has to load every time you pass from one district into another.  Not only is this disruptive, but some the bridge districts are passed over entirely.  It hurts the sense of free roam, and I'm not even that encouraged to roam around the city like I was with the bigger game.  And the load times?  They're just as long!  It doesn't make sense that a card-based game has to load for so long!

I'm not regretting the purchase, as I'm enjoying somewhat what the game offers me.  It's just I wish I didn't pay full price for this game, even though I only paid 30.  I played the hell out of the Wii U game, and all I really see in this game is a watered down handheld version.  I get simplifying the mission structures, and not being able to render the entire city all at once, but did they really  have to skip out n the voice acting?  

I squeal, you squeal, we all squeal for sequels!

Or do we... 

At the end of Wednesday's Nintendo Direct, they dropped a huge bombshell on the Nintendo community with the announcement of a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  The video footage shown contained a similiar art style, but beefed up with 3D graphics.  Considering A Link to the Past is heralded as one of the best games in the series, every fan should have been ecstatic.  Yet, the announcement drew negative comments in response to GS's news article.  It even prompted GS to make a video on the subject, not just the Zelda sequel, but in response to the Direct in general. 

Let me pluck out a line from the video. 

I feel like they're not catering to me anymore. I think they're catering to like a new generation of Nintendo players and leaving the old ones behind.Tom McShea

This isn't the first time McShea has talked about Nintendo staying Nintendo, as he wrote a pretty good piece here.  This is pretty much how I feel, and I've already wrote a piece on that, although it's more centered on adult rated games.  I also like what was said about it being hard to be critical of the same Nintendo games when they're still high quality.  Why say negative things about games you love?  It's not that we don't want to play more Mario and Zelda; it's that we want games that have that same level of quality, but entirely different experiences.  This is something Nintendo themselves are rarely capable of doing.   Instead, they take things that we're familiar with and repackage them.  

I'd like to focus on the Link to the Past sequel for a second.  I saw a worrisome picture posted in a thread in Primary Games Discussion.

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This is worrisome, because it asks the question just how much of the original Link to the Past is going to be reused?  Even the boss fight at the end of the dungeon shows that very same worm that you fought in the original, with the exact same tactic.  True, it takes place in the same Hyrule, so obviously you're going to notice a few similar things, but why can't it just take place in an entirely different land of Hyrule?  Why bother revisiting anything at all, when I'm sure there's more Hyrule on the other side of the game's planet.  This is why I was bothered with Skyward Sword, because under that vast ocean of clouds, you only were able to visit three different regions.  

So, enough about Nintendo, because I want to be fair here.  Nintendo does get a lot of flack for milking their franchises, but let's remember they aren't the only ones who do that.  Some troubling news visits both MS and Sony, as their respective first party franchises Gears of War and God of War are experiencing lower than expected sales.  These aren't just lower than expected sales, these are abysmally lower sales.  Gears of War: Judgement sold 425,000 units compared to Gears of War 3's sales of over 2 million in its first month.  God of War: Ascenion sold 360,000 compared to God of War 3's 1.1 million. 

Those are major league franchises, and if AAA sequels is what the industry thinks we want, what happened?  Are gamers growing tired of those games that quickly?  Are they being put out too frequently?  Well, they aren't being released annualy like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed, so maybe it's the fact that neither franchise really changes much in the way of gameplay.  Then again, that same argument could be said about Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.  We also see them released every year because they sell.  Developers have to keep making them for publishers to sell them, because they think that's what gamers want.

It does make sense, though.  If gamers love great games, make more of them.  If they keep buying them, continue to keep making them.  Yet, it's a double edged sword, because it culls creativity.  How do you manage to be able to break free from the annual franchise release grind when the publisher won't let you?  If you don't want to, you'll be let go and the publisher will find other people to keep making it.  *ahem* Activision/Call of Duty.

I've been doing some thinking about this lately, and I've noticed something among entertainment mediums.  Authors of books, producers, screen writers and directors of movies will always have something along the lines of "The author who wrote" or "From the producer of".  Those promotional lines above those book and movie titles establish a pedigree and invite the audience to try out something new, because they know who it's coming from.  They have grown to like what those creators do, and they want to read and watch more.  Where on earth are those promotional lines on our video games?

More gamers should do themselves good and begin to educate themselves on who makes what.  This why the gamers in the know are following Destiny, because it's from Bungie, "the makers of Halo."  Bungie has established themselves by making Halo games for more than TEN years.  Look at how long it took for them to break away from MS to make something new.  Look at Naughty Dog.  They made three Uncharted games in succession, and now everyone is following The Last of Us because of Naughty Dog.  

I understand that Activision is reluctant to make a new game that isn't Call of Duty, or Ubisoft doesn't want to start a new franchise that doesn't involve a hooded assassin (well, there's Watch Dogs).  But every publisher, Activision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, etc., need to realize that the IPs that brought them so much success over the years... *waits for dramatic effect* started out as new IPs.  Hell, you can't have a Mega Man 10 without first making Mega Man 1.  When Keiji Inafune makes his new games, we're aware of it, because we follow him, but the average consumer doesn't.  The average consumer knows of Mega Man, so when Inafune's new game comes out, why not just have "From the creator of Mega Man" on the box?  I guarantee you it will help sell a few more. 

Back on Nintendo and to Nintendo's credit, when they release a new Super Mario or a new Zelda, they at least try new things from a gameplay standpoint.  The New Super Mario line isn't a very good example, because it's hard to really tell the four titles apart, but Zelda's always doing something new, regardless of how formulaic each iteration is.  Yet, they're also dipping extremely heavily into the nostalgia bucket this generation, and it's becoming alarming.  The 3DS was a remake factory with Ocarina of Time, Star Fox, and now Donkey Kong Country Returns.  The Wii U is getting a Wind Waker remake.  A Link to the Past 2 looks entirely too similar.  Granted they are all quality games, but they are all far too familiar.  We love them, but Nintendo needs to continue to create new franchises so that 10 years down the road, they have more nostalgia buckets to dip into.

More risks need to be taken, not just Nintendo, but everyone.  And, they need to be executed smartly.  They need to be promoted.  They need to be marketed.  They need to be put on pedastals to consumers with a giant sign hung around their neck saying, "I AM THE NEXT BIG THING!" We love sequels, yes, but we also love playing new games that manage to amaze us so much that after the credits roll, we put the controller down, point to the TV with both hands and say, "YES!  NOW GIVE ME A SEQUEL!"  

Nintendo Direct 4.17.13 thoughts

So we have a new Nintendo Direct.  This one didn't manage to be that bad.  Iwata goes on to talk about the year of Luigi.  The first game he talks about is Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.  

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The Mario and Luigi games are quite possibly my favorite handheld franchise.  When Iwata revealed the game in the last Nintendo Direct, I was ecstatic.  I can only hope it will be half as good as Bowser's Inside Story.  From what I've seen of the new footage revealed in this Direct, I'm a bit hesitant, however, as there's just something about the art style that I'm not quite liking.  The action itself, though, looks incredible, and I love the idea of using so many different Luigis to cause major damage.  The story about having to delve into dreams doesn't really seem as interesting as, say, Bowser's Inside Story, but knowing that the writing for each of the previous games has been stellar, I'm sure it will be a great story nonetheless.  The game will release on August 11th.  Hurry up!

Iwata then reveals more information about Mario Golf: World Tour. 

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Another reveal from the previous Direct, this is another game that I'm waiting for the 3DS.  Not only does it look beautiful, but it looks incredibly fun as well.  I love the series and it will be awesome to have another Mario Golf on the go.  Iwata talks about the community features in this game being similar to those used in Mario Kart 7.  This will be a cool feature, as it will pair up people against similar abilities.  He also said there you'll be able to change the rules for classic play, meaning no super shots, or even have everyone play as Luigi.  Yep, this year is all about Luigi.  The game doesn't have a set release date yet, as it's just slated for summer.  

Next, Iwata unveals for the first time a new Mario Party game.

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I haven't played a Mario Party game in a very long time, since the first one released for the N64.  It seems, though, that this will be the first Mario Party to significantly change things up, as there will now be seven different boards to play on.  Each board has an entirely different set of rules and obstacles, which will surely affect the outcome of each game.  There will also be 81 mini games, and the footage shown makes the game look extremely fun.  I may consider getting this game, but so far I haven't heard anything about online play.  I'm hoping there will be, as that will greatly influence my decision to buy it. 

Iwata then talks more about New Super Luigi U. 

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Again revealed from the last Direct, nothing much new is talked about in this Direct.  We still know that the world map is the same, but each and every level has been remixed specifically for Luigi.  What Iwata did go into depth about is that Luigi has characteristics that change the gameplay, such as higher jumping, a very quick fluttering float, and skidding making it harder to stop during a run.  That's not really a surprise, though, as Luigi's always controlled differently.  Also, it seems all the new courses will start out with only 100 seconds.  This is something I don't really like, as I hate being pressured during games.  This is going to force a lot of mistakes... Now, I'm just interested in hearing how much it's going to cost.  No set date, but it will come out this summer. 

Iwata reveals more information now about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.

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This is one game that I can't really care about.  I loved the game on the Wii, but I'm not compelled enough to buy it again for the 3DS.  So, not only are the graphics improved and enhanced in 3D, but there's something called New Mode, which is basically a nerfed easy difficulty that gives DK and Diddy more hearts, green balloons that lift DK back up after he falls, crash guards that let him shrugg off two collisions during vehicle segments, etc.  It seems to be designed for people who don't have the time to keep dying over and over while they're on the go.  The original mode is included, but I'm interested to see if there's any real new content added to get me to play this again.  I wouldn't mind buying it again if there were new levels.  May 24th is the release date.  

Iwata now talks about a new Yoshi's Island.  

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I'm just going to come out and say right now that I dislike the artstyle.  The original Yoshi's Island was much better, and this one just seems neutered.  Sure, it's not an ugly looking game at all, but my eyes just don't snap to it like they did with the others.  The gameplay, however, sounds like it will be just as fun.  Everything from the ground pounding to the egg throwing and having to reclaim Baby Mario are coming back.  I'm also sure that the level design will be just as excellent.  No release date given just yet. 

Iwata then talks a little more about the new downloadable Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move.

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I believe this was another reveal from the last Direct.  I've enjoyed the franchise for quite some time, and am currently working on March of the Minis.  This one looks to be the most unique at all.  For one, it's no longer in 2D, as it's all 3D.  You move tiles around on the bottom screen, while the game world changes on the top of the screen.  I think I might have to get this game, because I really do love puzzles.  Plus, the footage they've shown seems to have some classic music in there.  I heard some Super Mario Bros. 2, and I really love that soundtrack.  Release date is May 9th.

Iwata now talks about the new Wii U firmware update scheduled for next week.  It will improve loading times, allow you to instantly access Wii Mode from start up while the system boots, allows you to download software in the background, automatically install updates, and transfer data between two external harddrives.  

Virtual Console will begin next week, and he shows off footage of different games that will be available.  Looks like Donkey Kong, Excite Bike (yay! :|), Super Mario World, the original Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, the SNES Kirby, Ice Climbers, Punch Out!, Super Metroid, Balloon Fight, a Kirby game I didn't recognize, and F-Zero.  They'll also come with their own MiiVerse channels, but here's the thing I just don't like.  Even if you already bought the games before, you're still required to buy them again to enjoy the Wii U specific features.  Oh, but the "special" price is only a dollar for NES or 1.50 for the SNES.  No, Nintendo, they should be free to original owners.  :|  Of course, that won't stop them from continuing to sell their old games time and time again.  GBA and N64 games are coming as well.

Wii U Panorama View allows you to watch world events in 360 degrees, like you were virtually there.  I have no interest in this at all, and get this.  The tours will cost you TWO DOLLARS!

Iwata now talks about more Pikmin 3. 

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He doesn't go into much, but he does talk about a new pikmin type that was hinted at during some footage in the last E3.  There will now be purple winged Pikmin types.  The footage shown reveals that they might useful for carrying items over water without being slowed down, or attacking airborne enemies more effectively.  It looks as beautiful as always.  He doesn't give a release date, but says it's coming out in the next few months.  I really need to catch up on this series, as I've yet to even finish the first. 

Now, Iwata mentions a new title for the Virtual Console.  It's Mother 2, or as it's known here, Earth Bound.

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I have never played this game, but I've heard a lot of great things about it.  This is actually the first Virtual Console title that I'm considering purchasing.  He gives no release date, just saying that it will come out at the end of the year.  Looking forward to it, but I wonder if it will come out on the 3DS's eShop, as I would prefer to play it on the go.

Iwata then turns the show over to Bill Trinen of Treehouse, Nintendo of America Inc. Bill talks about new games coming up for the 3DS and the Wii U in the upcoming months.  The first game he talks more of is Game and Wario.

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I've really enjoyed the WarioWare franchise, and this new title looks like a lot of fun.  The gameplay they've shown reveal some pretty cool mini games that make great use of the gamepad, and I'm always looking for Wii U games that do that. There's also going to be some multiplayer games, and some will be designed to be played just by one player, but with spectators encouraging you on.  The release date will be June 23rd.  I think I'll make this a purchase.

Bill then talks more about the Monster Hunter games.  He talks about new gameplay videos that Capcom has released, and mentions that there was a recent update that lets you play the game offscreen.  He then moves on to talk about Lego City Undercover and how the gamepad let the player become more involved in the game's world.  He touches a bit on the 3DS prequel Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins, and I'm definitely getting this.  It takes place in the same city, and it looks like the gameplay is pretty much exactly the same, which is a good thing as Undercover on the Wii was a helluva lot of fun.  It releases on April 21st, which is this Sunday!  

Now he mentions that Swapnote users will receive new messages very soon.  Meh.  Swapnote is one feature that I just was never excited about on the 3DS.  I just wish they'd completely redesign it, because it's such a fundemental mess.

He talks about the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Leaf being released on June 9, and then reveals this.

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Will you look at that thing!  It's so cute!  I would love to have that, and I would play it with pride!  Had I known this was coming out, I would have waited for it and not bought the XL last year.  It's an Animal Crossing styled 3DS XL, and it comes pre-loaded with Animal Crossing: New Leaf on an SD card.

Bill then announces that both A Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are coming to the 3DS eShop.  More Zelda on the 3DS is always a good thing, but I've yet to even play my original copies on the Game Boy Color.  These titles are coming May 30th, and they'll feature the cross-game interactivity like the originals.  

He now announces a new game by Square-Enix, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy

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Now, this is the first real surprise for me.  I haven't heard anything about this game until just now, and the gameplay footage they've shown looks absolutely beautiful.  It will also have CG cinemas that are of SquareEnix calibre, and it's so nice to see them show interest in the 3DS.  This will be one of the major 3DS titles to get, and I would love to play a JRPG on that system.  It will be co-published with Nintendo, so that means an exclusive title, and it will be released some time in 2014. 

Bill's next reveal: Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy!

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Now, I know this is no surprise as I knew the series wasn't over, but I'm still excited nonetheless.  Bill says it will be the conclusion to the second trilogy.  From the looks of gameplay and screen shots, it's set in the winter this time, and every screen shot that I've found has been in Japanese, so the game hasn't even begun its localization period yet.  This means it will be quite some time before it's release.  It will feature over 500 new puzzles, and Bill didn't even bother to throw out an vague idea of when the game would be release.  It will be far off indeed.  

He then goes on to talk about three new titles from Level-5 belonging to the Guild Series.  The first is The Starship Damrey. 

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The Starship Damrey looks to be a slow and moody mystery game where nothing is explained to you.  You given no information at all, not even a a tutorial.  You simply manuever around the game trying to gather as much information as you can to understand your surroundings.  It looks interesting, I will say that much.  

The next title is Bugs Vs Tanks.

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This title comes from Kenji Inafune, creator of Mega Man.  So, the concept of the game is WWII tanks have been shrunk, and they're going up against an assortment of bugs that are gigantic to them, because they themselves are microscopic. Not much footage was shown of the game, only that your tanks will be customizable.  

The last in the series is Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale. 

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Now this one excites me.  Basically, it's a tale of a boy who goes about his days bumping into real life monsters from his TV shows.  I already love the art style of the game, and from the brief footage shown, I was instantly reminded of Ni no Kuni.  Looking forward to hearing more about this one.  No dates given for any of them, only that they're coming soon.

He has one last reveal.  A new Shin Megami Tensei. No gameplay or screenshots were shown, but they did show a picture of the packaging, and it looks pretty cool.  It will come with CD, strategy and design book and collectible outer slip case.  It will release June 16th.  

Oh, and now Reggie Fils-Aime comes out. Oh, I heard about this one!

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I know new Zeldas are nothing new, far short from surprises, but a direct sequel to one of  my favorite Zeldas of all time (which shamefully I still haven't beaten)?  Wow!  Just ... wow!  Look at how gorgeous that game is!  The gameplay footage shows some really cool new features.  The 3D will be put to great effect for multi-tiered dugeons, and a new ability that turns Link into a drawing will let him move along walls and change perspectives, revealing new angles not seen from viewing top down.  Reggie also states that a gameplay trailer will be prepped and ready for download on the eShop, which I'm so going to watch today!  It will be out this holiday season!  

So it turns out I've exceeded my character limit with this blog.  I'll just wrap it up by saying that I'm excited to see the 3DS supported so strongly this year, but disappointed in both the lack of new first party IPs and any new Wii U content.  I know this Direct was focused on the 3DS, but they've got to try harder to support the Wii U right now.  It's almost the complete opposite of what Sony's doing by supporting the PS3 and not the Vita.  Anyway, thanks for reading, those of you who did. 

It was about time.

Was at Best Buy today picking up Django Unchained and I decided to browse their games.  Figured I'd finally pick this one.  Now I just have to find time to play it. 

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Oh, and apparently I overpaid on it.  Best Buy... :roll:

Will enough people say no to always online?

Yannis Mallat doesn't think so.  He believes that "most gamers are prepared", and that he "suspects the audience is ready."  It might be easy to think this if all you're going off of are the number of people who play online.  It's a numbers game, and Mallat feels there's enough to support their business if an always online mandate happens.  People are understandably being worked up by his comment, but no where did I read in that article that he meant "most gamers want always online".  And more importantly, he states that he doesn't want to see it happen unless it "provides clear benefits".  I can't think of any benefits, and I'm not sure even he himself can.  It could be read that they'll never do it this because of that.  

Your statistics won't show how many people who play online will suddenly stop playing if forced to always be connected.  It won't show how many people who were willing to buy the new Xbox will pass based on the mere notion that if for one minute their 720 can't connect, they can't play anything at all.  But statistics are showing that enough gamers are putting up with it.  How many people endured the mess that was Diablo III?  Millions.  How many endured SimCity?  Millions.  And it's still selling.  

On the surface, it seems like enough people are incredibly pissed about the concept of a console - or game for that matter - having an always online requirement.  But just how many people actually have the conviction to not just support the game, but the company and the platform?  How many of you will say no to the 720 if it's always online, and no to Watch Dogs or any other single player Ubisoft game that requires an internet connection? 

One of the comments I read:

i would love to see em go always on all the way just to see em crash and burn. watch dogs and rainbow 6 patriots will be the last Ubi games i buy. right now im trying to force myself to even play AC3. i was gonna get AC4 but man im so sick of these AC games every year.Poster

This is a dangerous attitude.  If companies like MS and Ubisoft go through this, they'll be counting on people who hate their crap, but put up with it and keep buying.  This isn't just about always online, but also day one DLC and online pass practices. This is about people complaining about Dragon Age 2, yet still buying it or pissing and moaning about the locked out characters in Street Fighter X Tekken but still buying it, and then buying the characters.  This is about the vocal minority swearing a company up and down, yet when the product releases, they go out and buy it.  Even if you buy used, you still issue a tick for the product's demand.  

Remember, us bloggers and posters and commenters are a vocal minority.  We may think that we speak loud enough to be heard, and some cases we do.  We spoke out against Adam Orth and now he longer works there, but that's a person and not a product.  If a company thinks the numbers are there, they WILL try it.  The majority of gamers don't post on the Internet.  They don't follow gaming articles, thus they don't form opinions on a product based on personal politics.  Or, you have gamers who do read the news, but they simply don't care.  They'll continue to buy whatever they want to buy, critics be damned.  

I surely don't want this.  But, I am prepared for it.  If MS decides to make an always online console, I am prepared to not buy it.  Same with Ubisoft and Watch Dogs, or any other company that makes a game with a single player campaign that requires an internet connection.  I think we need to stop thinking that just because WE don't want it doesn't mean we won't see it happen, when there are plenty other gamers out there who may not say no.  I hope when the time comes, enough of us do say no, because a lack of sales says more than a comment wall full of swears in all caps. 

Now Playing #121: Bioshock 2

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I know, I know.  I should be skipping this game and moving straight to Infinite, or so people would tell me.  It seems like the general reception of this game is that it's the black sheep in the series.  I can't see anything in the game so far that makes it in any way superior to the first, however, I don't see anything that makes it grossly inferior either.  I'm actually enjoying it so far, as it really keeps me on my toes.  

Bioshock 2 is one of those reminders that most modern day FPSs have made me soft.  I'm so used to regenerating health and using cover, and I have neither of those in Bioshock 2.  It's rare to see health bars in shooters nowadays.  Anyway, I do like that the game is littered with first aid kits and food and EVE pick ups to always keep your powers fueled.  I always did enjoy the game's vending machine mechanic in that you find money and spend it to increase your stock when it runs low.  If you die unprepared, it's entirely your fault.

I also like the new take on the series, being in control of a Big Daddy, and doing what they do: protecting little ones as they harvest ADAM.  My memory of the first game is foggy, so I don't remember if its weapons had alternate firing modes, but Bioshock 2 has them.  The rivet gun has trap rivets, which sound exactly like they are, and you can lay traps all over the walls, floors and ceilings.  They come in great when you have to protect your little one as she harvests ADAM from corpses.  Then, there's the new twist of the Big Sister, a female, slender version of Big Daddies, who screaches her approach to you.  I do love these battles, because they usually scatter picks up all over the place when you're done.

I haven't come across any new plasmids yet.  I still have the basic telekensis, electroshock, and incinerate.  I'm finding myself rescuing every little one that I find, so I'm actually handicapping myself by not having enough ADAM to buy all the upgrades.  I just hope it's worth it in the end.  As for the level design, it doesn't seem to be on par with the first game.  There's just nothing that's jumping out and impressing me.  I remember having to deal with flooded corridors in the first, and watching that water breaking the glass and being in awe of it.  Maybe that will happen later in the game.

And no, I'm not touching the multiplayer.  I really have no interest.  I just hope the story ends up being good in the end. I like playing as a Big Daddy, and I can't wait to see the inevitable twist the game will throw at me in its conclusion.  I like that you can hack bots again, but I dislike that they simplified the hacking mini game to nothing more than stop-the-needle.  Once I finish the game, I might consider playing Infinite soon, but only if I can find it for a good price.  

The price of social media

By now, word is getting out about MS Studios creative director Adam Orth no longer being employeed by Microsoft.  It's not clear if this was a voluntary resignation or a forcible removal, but it's almost assured that his departure from MS is a result of his insensitive Twitter comments that caused a worldwide furor last week.  

So what exactly does this mean?  Does this move further confirm the rumors of an always online console?  Was Orth let go for indirectly divulging information about the upcoming Xbox?  Nowhere in his comments did he actually come out and say that yes, the 720 would be always online.  Was what Orth said about rural committees really worth firing someone over?  It was his Twitter account, and he was not saying those comments on behalf of MS, but unfortunately as a public figure of your company, you still bear the responsiblity of representing your company in your off time.  Or, was Mr. Orth simply so embarassed over the debacle, he was no longer comfortable stepping foot in MS's office anymore?

None of what just happened is evidently clear.  What is clear, though, is that social media needs to be handled with more caution and sensitivity.  How many stories have you heard of someone being fired over what they said on Facebook about either their job or their company?  Usually, they didn't even make the status update when on the clock.  The most recent story I remember was this:

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If you heard about this story, you'll recognize the reciept.  It was the reciept that got Applebees waitress Chelsea Welch fired for posting a picture of a reciept with a customer's name on it, a violation of the company's customer privacy policy.  Not only that, it dragged her ex-employer into the mud as well, as a picture of a compliment written on the back of the ticket contained its own patron's signature posted by another employee.  A double standard was exposed, so apparently, it's only a terminatable offense if the reciept you post reflects negatively on the patron.  

Then there's the entire Chic-Fil-A circus.  Have you seen this video?

Adam M. Smith (oh look, another Adam got himself in trouble over social media!) was fired as CFO for Vante  as a direct result for his verbal harassment of Chick Fil A employee Rachel Elizabeth.  Ms. Elizabeth showed a great deal of patience and professionalism towards Mr. Smith, while Smith continued on.  Smith eventually apologized for his video, after losing his job at Vante, but here's the real tragedy behind the whole ordeal.  Nowhere in the video did he state who he was or who he worked for.  He made the mistake of posting it online, and then it went viral.  His company found out who he was, and even though he never indentified himself in his video, the company wanted no assocation with him at that point.  Quite a social media blunder. 

You don't even have to work for a corporation to get yourself in trouble over social media.  You could simply be a bratty teenager.  

Everyone should have seen this video at least once, an angry father's response to catching his daughter badmouthing her parents on Facebook again.  This also went viral, and every network show from The Today Show to Dr. Phil weighed in on the matter.  Whether you agree or disagree with the father's response, one thing's clear.  Hannah would have still had her laptop if she simply would stop using Facebook in an irresponsible way.

I could continue to post examples, but you all get the picture now.  The Internet is a very powerful tool, and like any tool, it has its good uses and bad uses.  You have the right to say practically anything you want, and social media is a fantastic way to get your voice heard.  Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, all sorts of blogging services allow you to express yourself.  But having your right to say what you want does not protect you from ramifications.  What you say can reflect negatively on yourself, your parents, or your employer, and the consequences can be severe in the examples that I've shown.

During my Twitter browsing since Adam Orth leaving MS, I've seen a couple tweets about people scared to use their social media, but that shouldn't be the case.  Like any tool, it won't hurt us if we simply use it properly.  You don't saw something with your finger in the way, and you don't hold your thumb on the nail before you hit it.  What is so stupid about these people getting themselves in trouble is they don't bother to think before they submit what they're saying.  It's one thing to be face to face and say something damaging, because it just comes out.  It's an entirely different matter to do it virtually, because it takes time to compose your thoughts.  You are witnessing what you're doing before you relay it to people.  You have time to go back over it and mull it over before you hit Submit.  It's just a shame that Adam Orth didn't; that Chelsea Welch didn't; that Adam M. Smith didn't; that Hannah didn't.  Honestly, freedom of speech does not come without its own price. 

Should Nintendo step out of their comfort zone?

Reading this thread about Nintendo not having any 1st party M-rated games has sparked my desire to write this blog.  I honestly don't believe Nintendo themselves have ever made an M-rated game.  I'll quote from one of those posts in that thread here.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Developed by Silicon Knights but Nintendo has full control over the IP)
Geist (Developed by n-Space and Nintendo)
Zangeki no Reginleiv (Developed by Sandlot it is currently Japan Only)
Fatal Frame IV and Fatal Frame II Crimson Butterfly remake (Nintendo know owns majority stake in the Fatal Frame IP they purchased it from Temco-Koei; Fatal Frame IV is Japan Only and Fatal Frame II Wii Edition was released in Japan and Europe)Nintendo_Ownes7

I honestly think Nintendo should seriously consider going after the older crowd as well.  Sure, they are, have been and will always be a family-orientated company, but it isn't entirely unthinkable for them to do this.  They have published M-rated games before, such as those named above, and they will be publishing Bayonetta 2, which not only has graphic violent content, but also sexualized themes as well.  But what I really want to see is Nintendo themselves take a stab at it.  

Picture if you will an M-rated Zelda.  For 25 years, Link has been carrying with him an instrument of destruction: a sword.  The very nature of the sword is to cut and render.  For 25 years, the sword has never been truly capable of reflecting what it will do in real life: cut things to bloody ribbons.  In this new M-rated Zelda, we'll see Link cut down beasts and monsters and leave bloody trails in his wake.  The new mature take on this franchise will show Link's struggles in a whole new light, a dark light.  Zelda has had dark games before, but breaking free from the restraints of the younger demographic will create a starkingly real world, a vastly more interesting one.  Think of it as a reboot, much like what the new Tomb Raider did for Lara.

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A beautiful piece of fan art that shows how blood can make Link look more interesting.

Now I know what you're thinking.  It wouldn't be the same Zelda, but that's part of the point.  It doesn't have to be a shallow action game where you're shuffled along set piece to set piece.  They can still use the same basic formula with Link going to this dungeon to get that tool to use in the next dungeon and so on.  It's just that game will have a more realistic environment to give it a scarier and more absorbing atmosphere.  

I'm only using Zelda as an example.  They can make up entirely new IPs, which is what I would prefer, but I would still like to see an M-rated Zelda.  I get that most Zelda loyalists wouldn't want that, but again, that's kinda the point.  There are a large number of gamers that grew up on Nintendo, but have since moved on to other platforms because they feel Nintendo hasn't grown up with them.  There's a huge vacancy in their line up, and it's been this way ever since Nintendo transitioned from playing cards to video games.  It's blood.

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An M-rated Kirby game?  That's so distrubing, YET ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE enough to work!

Sony has their God of War franchise.  Microsoft has their Gears of War franchise.  Nintendo has... nothing.  Blood doesn't make the game, which is true, but violence really does sell.  "But Nintendo doesn't need to make violent games!"  So then why are they publishing them?  Why do they let them even exist on their platforms?  Nintendo knows there are gamers who like these games, but they simply won't make them.  

Sony has appealed to the younger crowd.  We've seen such easily accesible games with colorful graphics like Spyro, and Sly Cooper and the upcoming Knack for the PS4.  We've seen Microsoft do the same with Viva Pinata and Kinectimals.  If Sony and MS themselves can appeal to both young and old, why can't Nintendo?  Why does Nintendo continue to focus on just the family?  Yes, that's where they make their bread and butter, but why not go after jelly as well?  

Just letting third-party developers make M-rated games and publishing M-rated games you've commissioned second-parties to make for you isn't enough.  The Wii U has more holes in its library than holes in an abandoned country road, and having some serious, M-rated games would go a long way to patch them up.  Again, I'm not saying that games need to have blood in order to be great, but you CAN have great games with blood in them. 

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Sure, Nintendo is a family company, but I bet you the dad loves violent games.  The kids growing up might one day too.

I cannot stress this enough, Nintendo, so I'll say it again. Some gamers grew up with Nintendo, but have left because you have not grown up with them.  You take gambles on your hardware all the time.  With the DS, it was two screens and a touchpad.  With the Wii, it was the motion controls.  With the 3DS, it was glass-less 3D.  With the Wii U, it was the tablet controller.  Why don't you take a gamble on your software as well?  Why don't you take a billion or two out of your bank, open up a number of internal studios and start going after Sony and MS's markets like they went after yours.  

Make your own God of War.  Make your own Gears of War.  Quit playing it safe and truly show us that you're striving to get back on top by getting the core gamers back.  Don't just farm it out to other companies.  Step out from your comfort zone and do it yourself!  I got news for you, Nintendo.  Core gamers don't just play Mario.