A long time ago, in a bedroom far, far away, I was a younger, less corrupted and less jaded version of myself. Dad had just introduced me to the original Max Payne, complete with a matching mouse pad emblazoned with Max's face, the game's logo, and yellow police tape lining the bottom. After several pages of hype via magazines and internet research, the both of us had eagerly awaited its release. Gritty police drama? Yes, please. Bullet time? OH MY GOD, YES PLEASE! Back then, Max Payne's stylish gunplay was laced with my delusions of grandeur and hopeful glances toward the future. I believed the elements introduced with this third-person shooter were truly the face of what was to come, and something unique to keep an eye on. Of course, back then every third-person shooter didn't look like an exact carbon copy of the one before it. Rockstar's Max Payne 3 hype train has started rolling, and with the release of brand new screenshots, I have to say I'm quite skeptical. Not only has Max gone from gritty, dark-haired antihero with a dark past to a baldie with more baggage than LAX, but the game mirrors 90% of every other third-person venture we've been given in the past couple years. Now, I enjoy my shooters as much as the next person, but I am firmly against the notion that every game I pick up should share the same characteristics, locations, and design. Plus, these retro revivals we've been seeing lately (Bionic Commando, anyone?) fail to pick up on what made them classics in the first place. For the record, I didn't pour hours and hours into the original Max Payne or the sequel to ogle Mona Sax, er, to gaze at rust-reds, browns, or sunny locales. I played because of the film-noir aesthetic, and Max's hilarious facial expressions. The story was fantastic. The graphics? Negotiable nowadays, but back then they were spectacular. It wasn't enough to give Max an unneeded makeover a la Sam Fisher, but now the newest game seems to be made to fit the mold of what Rockstar finds popular and appealing these days - also known as EVERY OTHER THIRD-PERSON GAME RELEASED. He doesn't even look like the same person, let alone anyone who should star in a film noir video game. And of the comic panels? Likely left for dead. Rather than dimly lit, inside locales, he'll be running around in sunny Sao Paulo, Brazil, sun beating down upon that glossy cueball of his. While the previous two games were created under the hand of Remedy Entertainment, the third installment is being squeezed out by Rockstar. The creator (Sam Lake) isn't even involved with this project, so what does that tell you? I'm not sure why it's being celebrated near and far, as this is one series I cannot condone, deviating from a winning formula. Is this what gaming has come down to these days, taking unique and intriguing ideas, then giving them an XTREME makeover when it's time for them to make a reappearance? I'll more than likely play Max Payne 3, simply because I support the franchise and the characters, but I can't say I absolutely appreciate its existence. In the future, rather than creating revivals that celebrate cookie-cutter locales, unneeded character evolutions (they didn't go through with Klonoa's!), and XTREME ACTION, why not sit down for a second and puzzle out how you could bring the mood fans know and love into this generation rather than squatting and pinching one off right on the faces of loyal fans who want nothing more sometimes than one more game with familiar mechanics. Change is good, but sometimes staying the same is better. I think it'd be within some developers' best interest to remember that every now and then. Is that too much to ask?
Greetings, Gamespot. We've met before - you may have noticed a comment or two from me nestled between a sea of others. Or perhaps you are familiar with me through the forums. In any case, hello. Nice to meet you. I'm Molotov Cupcake. Though my bio is provided on the sidebar for your quick reference in any random blog visit, I thought it'd be right courteous of me to give you all a bit of insight into my history as a gamer and why you should bother to come back and read what I have to say. That's why I have initiated a short, introductory blog series that will give you a bit of insight into my history as a gamer, beginning at my experience with the NES and chronicling my adventures now. It's called A History of Violent Pixels, and this is the first part. My parents obviously had their hearts set on raising a teenybopper, because they named me Brittany. Unfortunately, they got a pasty nerd who spends most of her time in front of a screen or loitering in bookstores. That's almost the same, right? To the masses I communicate with online I am known by a more anonymous moniker - Molotov Cupcake. Over the years I've spend many a sunny day inside twiddling my thumbs, jockeying with my joystick, and threatening to tear up some faces if (insert boss here) wouldn't kindly die in a fire - most recently, the Nyx Avatar (the veil is what ALWAYS got me). Many a controller in perfect working condition has been destroyed in my wake. Unlike those who feel pressured into indicating to everyone online that they did indeed begin their adventures in gaming via the Atari 2600 because that is the most widely accepted and almost inevitable response, I was introduced to gaming via the NES. Nothing wrong with that. Many days were spent in front of the television as my father kept me company. I regularly puzzled out Snake, Rattle, n' Roll, and my mother would hover around me as I did so - just to see what this video game thing was, never to join in. The inevitable Mario marathons took place late in the night when my younger self should have been in bed, though Dad knew and understood that I simply couldn't sleep until we topped the draw record in Hogan's Alley. I also was quite fond of Shooting Range, though the red-and-white umbrella-like targets proved difficult for my young eyes to track. Near the end of the NES's lifespan in my household we enjoyed Zelda, Metal Gear, and various other titles. One fateful day, my parents boxed up my favorite piece of technology and cruelly sold it off to a buyer at a yard sale. They even carted off the Zapper, something I still miss even these days. I'm hoping to buy another one whenever I can afford to rebuild my NES collection. After mourning the loss of my NES, I endured a long period of time spent having to borrow friends' SNES games and systems in order to get my kicks. I never truly had a SNES of my own, sad to say, until a few years ago when I began my own personal collection. With that said, though, I enjoyed many of the classics such as Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario RPG, plus various Final Fantasies that I found to be phenomenal and absolutely worth all the time I poured into them. I also quite enjoyed Terra Nigma. At such a young age I was already hooked. Unfortunately, I would often blame my parents for forcing me to forgo the SNES, because even though my father facilitated and fed my addicition, they were of the mindset that I should be content to play with my dolls and various other boring conventions. This caused ongoing, heated arguments and tantrums. Luckily, they gave in and purchased a Genesis for me from the pawn shop. The days of the Genesis were some of my glory days. I was endlessly flustered with Buster's Hidden Treasure, as I could not wrap my tiny brain around the later levels featuring lava and precise jumps. I did find my forte in Tempo (Check it out, ya know. He makes it funky, and he's good to go.) and Sonic, as well as Sonic Spinball, which I'm terribly excited about now that I can play it via the 360. Sweeeeet. Dad and I had some friendly shots at each other with Mortal Kombat, and my mother would often complain that my young brain shouldn't be exposed to SUCH VIOLENCE!!!1!one!eleven! Luckily my dad wasn't worried about such asinine remarks, and our sprees continued. Sometimes with Alex Kidd, sometimes with Altered Beast, and quite often with Captain America and the Avengers. Since we weren't exactly rolling in the dough, many of our games would come from pawn shops or yard sales, I would always get the most random of assortments. Even though my mother didn't exactly enjoy the time Dad and I would be spending together or separately gaming, she knew that's just the kind of person he was then, and thus accepted him and my almost inbred love of games as well. It's no surprise then that after the reign of the Genesis in my household and in my bedroom, an explosion of technology was about to occur. What was this explosion, exactly? Was it messy? Do you even care? Find out next time, on the next exciting episode of Dragon Ball Z, er, A History of Violent Pixels. Thanks for reading.