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"Hardcore" and "Casual"; are these terms real?

I've done many-a-blog about the meaning of "Hardcore" and "Casual" gamers before, but now, I have changed my opinion. I also believe that this opinion is absolutely, 100% un-biased and correct.

So, let's start.

First, the history of the terms "Hardcore" and "Casual" gamers. Beginning with the start of video games, there were people that played games a lot, and people that didn't play games that much. The former people became "Hardcore" gamers and the latter became "casual" gamers. Simple. Easy. Nothing to it.

Well, now that's changed.

Actually, these terms didn't really come back to life until the dawn of the 6th Gen. of gaming consoles (PS2, GCN, XBOX) when developers started asking themselves who their audiences were, and who would buy what games. This brought back the term into the gaming world, and now it seems to be all that matters.

O.K. Let's examine this.

First up is Nintendo (don't worry, un-biased opinions here). Nintendo now has a notorious reputation for always wanting to cater to the casual gamer. Many fans (or ex-fans) of the company believe it has turned its back on the hardcore gamers.

Next up, Microsoft. The boys over at Microsoft seem to want to jump in on the casual bandwagon with Nintendo (look at games like Lips and the upcoming project NATAL). However, the company is split between the hardcore fans (many of whom they would lose if they started what Nintendo's doing) and the families with many little children just starting to play games (do NOT let those kids touch Halo).

Sony is strictly hardcore. Not joking. The main reason is that the system was so damn expensive in the first place, and only the most hardcore of gamers would buy it. Sure, you've got 3rd party familiy support, but only those multi-platform games that every system has. Sony seems to be reaching out to the casual crowd though, with the Playstation Move on the way and the PS3Slim's lower price.

Why did I just re-state what everybody knows? It's to make a point. First off, it's all about the money. That just happens to be in the casual crowd at the moment. Think about it, compare the numbers, and you've got tons more casual gamers than hardcore gamers out there. Microsoft and Sony are realizing this, and Nintendo got a huge head start.

Not only this, but many 3rd parties have found huge profit in Nintendo's casual market. Take Carnival games, everybody on Gamespot knows the game is total crap and should not be bought for any means. However, that didn't stop it from selling tons of units at the market.

Oh, and let's not forget Wii Play. That game set a record for most time on the top 5 sellers of the month-18 months in a row.

You see, the developers have coined these terms. They made them up in order to further organize their own thinking. Now, however, it seems that gamers have taken the real meaning of these words and thrown them out the window. "Casual" seems to mean suck and being able to get a tactical nuke in Call of Duty and "Hardcore" seems to mean getting all of the achievements in the Orange Box (Don't even laugh at that one, there are 99 achievements!). I have not done either of these, and yet most people would call me a "hardcore" gamer.

Look, these terms do exist. But not in the way most people think.

Casual- A gamer who picks up a controller every now and then for a bit of fun, not looking for a long-term commitment, but looking for a short burst of electronic entertainment.

Hardcore- A gamer who only gets the best games on the market, one who pours much passion and time into these games. A gamer who looks for a game with long-lasting value.

And those are the definitions by the industry.

It's a bit obvious to see why the market is in the former of the two; it's much easier to please. So are we to blame Nintendo for excouraging it? No. Are we to blame Microsoft for trying to open up to it? No. We should respect their business decisions and allow things to take their course.

Plus, there will always be hardcore games out there. My icon is from one of them, FFXIII.

What's my opinion on this? The terms exist, no doubt, but I don't care either way. Like I said, there will always be that "next great game" to look forward to. I think that every gamer out there in this debate should just shut up and move on, because in the end, money is money.

The Glorious Return of an Insane Blogger

So, I hath returned from the deep!

*blood-curdling screams are heard as I bow*

But 'tis true! And after a lot of significant events that happened in the past 3 months, am I not only a better GAMER but also a better PERSON

What does this mean for the blog?

Nothing-unless you count deeper insight on games on top of a glorius range of topics discussed. This blog is going to be something great, trust me.

So, let's kick this off with a short evaluation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

---

Before I start spouting opinions, let me tell you that I had in fact owned (notice the E and D) this game for 3 months before selling it back to Gamestop. This evaluation isn't negative in all spots, because the game has some very strong points, but its shortcomings were just too large for me to keep it.

Score: 7.5

Let's start with something you guys all know I care about, the story. In fact, a game without a good story just doesn't resonate well with me, and you all know such things.

The story was shockingly good. A story of struggle and betrayal, wonderfully executed.

While the campaign was criminally (yes, criminally) short, it was well done in all parts. The levels were all marvelously planned and executed (minus "No Russian"-there were other ways to execute that part of the plot) and there weren't any "choking points"...meaning there wasn't a part in the game that was 360-throwing hard. Definitely a good thing. There are some parts in the plot that will make you think hard about the cost of war, and others that are just simply exhilirating (every single battle in Washington, D.C. was fantastic).

However, this doesn't compensate for the mere 7 hours required to beat it on normal mode. I'm serious. It's just too short, even for a shooter (my favorite shooter, Half-Life 2, was 20 hours long).

Okay, now on to the multiplayer...*deep breath*.

It's good. It really is. It's intense and satisfying...but there's a huge problem with it.

...you don't need a brain to play it.

It's what I call the "Halo problem", the game simply does not require teamwork in any fashion to win. The leveling system is highly centered on the individual, and without any supporting perks or weapons (ex. stuff for a medic or a sabateur) the game quickly turns into a, "How many kills can I get in one life so I can get -insert killstreak reward here-?". This simply does not click with me and gets old extremely fast. Not to mention that the community is just as bad as Halo's.

Not only this, the multiplayer lack vehicles (killstreak planes do not count, players do not control them), which therefore derives from the amount of strategy needed to win the game. Even in Halo you had to be aware of vehicles, wether it's a tank that'll blow your legs off or a plane that will drop a bomb on your head, there's practically no need of awareness in the game.

Special Ops mode is mediocre at best. All you do is run through parts of levels you already have beaten in the campaign, except this time you have certain goals to fill in a time limit. It's a good idea, the second part at least, but when you're playing through something you've seen already, Special Ops loses its flare extremely fast.

Overall, CODMW2 isn't a bad game. It's just not godly as many people make it out to be.

Let's put it like this, if you liked Halo, you'll love this game. But if you're looking for some more meat-and-potatoes, you might as well look somewhere else.

---

I should copy-and-paste that into a review...

Anyway, this marks my return to Gamespot! *more screams*

Accept this or I shall throw a herring at all of you! *glare*

THUNDA OUT!

My impressions of Final Fantasy games I have played.

Final Fantasy, as you all know, is one of my most beloved game series...ever. The problem is, I haven't been able to play through all of them, but I've played through many. Here are my impressions on the games I've played so far.

Final Fantasy III:

This was my first Final Fantasy game. I was turned onto the series by Kingdom Hearts, and when I got my DS, this was the 3rd (Haha, coincidence?) game I picked up.

Holy crap was I blown away.

The story wasn't much to brag about, but everything else was. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad story, but seriously, chasing crystals isn't exactly the most original storyline. Anyway, what got me the most is the sense of adventure you got while playing the game. I was playing on the overworld map, and at first I thought it was pretty small.

Not really, it turned out.

In fact, the overworld map was not only huge by itself, but halfway through the game, you were introduced to a SECOND overworld (called the darkworld, I believe) to explore. The story really picked up there (FINALLY there was more to it than chasing crystals...even though it was still involved) and the characters started to become more real.

The gameplay was nothing short of outstanding either, the job system captivated me. Of course, though, I made some pretty crappy decisions on my party (a team of summoners sounded like a good idea at first!).

When I finally beat the game (The Cloud of Darkness was the hardest boss I've EVER had to fight) I set it down and thought about it. I really enjoyed it. And I had heard that the games only got better after that.

Well, it was time to move on to the "best" one, then. Which obviously should have been the most recent one (VII had not reached my mind at that point) so...

Final Fantasy XII:

This game was great. Honestly. It still is. In fact, for me, it's the SECOND best Final Fantasy game for me (#1 will be VERY apparent when I discuss it). I know there were a lot...A LOT of gripes about this game. Mostly of the story being "boring".

I disagree.

Stepping away from the normal fantasy setting; "a group of good people go chase bad guy yay!" this game focused a lot more on plotical intrigue and branching storyarchs. Yes, this game focused on plotics. A lot of politics. However these politics weren't so extravagent that you couldn't follow them easily. At the end of the game, you felt some REAL emotion towards the final boss (Vayne...? It's been a while) and you seriously felt need to kill him.

Not only that, but the BATTLE SYSTEM! My GOD was it FANTASTIC! The lisence board was the BEST idea ever for square, instead of just giving us characters with pre-set classes and telling us to "make it work", we were able to create our own unique characters. We were able to make our OWN classes.

And yes...I did make Balthier a gun-shooting, heavy armor-wearing badass.

Not only this, but the bounty system, the quickenings, the summons, and the absolutely epic sense of SCALE when you fought bosses...it was extrodinary.

Be serious now, you can't deny that fighting those Wyrms wasn't intimidating. They were a lot bigger than you!

My only gripe about this game is that...well...IT KICKED MY ASS! It was REALLY hard. But that only made it that much more satisfying at the end. I'm saddened to see that square is working on a new battle system for FFXIII, but you know what, I'm sure it's going to be great.

So, FFXII is over, what was next for me?

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles:

...was an epic fail. Moving on.

Final Fantasy VI

Ah, there we go! Much better! A REAL final fantasy! Oh, and by the way...

KEFKA

IS

ABSOLUTELY

INSANE

I LOVE FFVI! You can't beat this game for me. Why? LOOK AT IT! There are some absolutely INTENSE battle sequences in here, first of all. Yeah, the opera house sequence? Damn. The characters were anything but two-dimensional, and the story of Terra was fantastic.

Oh yes, Terra. Terra is my favorite final fantasy hero. She isn't annoying like most of the other ones (I'm looking at you, Pamelo and Yuffie) and the conflict in her heart over what side she should be fighting for...and the mysterious destructive power inside her...is absolutely engaging. Along with that, when you thought the story was going in a linear fashion, the planet is destroyed.

Thanks, Kefka.

God, I love FFVI.

Final Fantasy IV:

I played this game with FFIII in mind, I pretended I never even played the other two, because I didn't expect much from the story.

Wrong.

I was blown away by the story of this one. It was about love, friendship, and betrayal, and it was epic. This game had some extremely challenging bosses (Cagnazzo) and some really engaging, heart-wrenching moments (Rydia, NO!).

I really can't say too much about this game without being redundant...so moving on...

Final Fantasy VII:

I like it. I really do. I remember when I downloaded it from PSN for $10, I was almost off the wall I was so excited. I haven't gotten through it yet, I'm at the beginning on disc 2 (Aeris DIED, wait...I KNEW that was going to happen. Thanks, Gamespot) and I don't feel it. I like it... I like it a lot...but I don't feel where the hype comes from. Maybe it's because I'm not far enough...

I would also like to point out something I found interesting about the game, there are a few religious references throughout the game. For example, "Jenovah" and the "Turks". Maybe it's because it's the 7th game, and 7 was a very prominent number in the bibe.

Also...NO MOOGLES! T.T

Final Fantasy X:

I'm almost out of things to say. Other than I abosulely LOVED the story and the graphics are great for the time it was made.

Oh yeah, and Auron is a badass.

---

So that's my roundup of the series! I'm hoping FFVIII and FFIX go up on PSN for download in leu of FFVII's success (It's still in the top 3 downloads of the service).

Tomorrow is my wishlist blog! Until then! THUNDA OUT!

In Progress: 2009 Wishlist Blog *BONUS* A few updates

Hello fellow gamespoters!

It turns out I'll be leaving for Denver, Colorado the day after Thanksgiving, so, in lou of events, I will be posting my wishlist blog the day of Thanksgiving!

So here are today's updates:

I SCORED today on iTunes, I bought 55 songs from the whole FF series for $15!!! It's very easy to get, just look up in the seach bar: "Final Fantasy Dissidia" and you'll find the soundtrack for the game with the best songs from all 12 Final Fantasies! I bought it without hesitation, and it seriously was a good deal.

Srsly.

I didn't get a call back from Gamestop, the lady liked my interview and told me that if I don't end up getting a job she'd consider me when a part-time position opened up later on. It doesn't bother me. Getting a job can wait. The job I was being interviewed for was only a holiday position anyway, so it wouldn't have been permanent.

Also, MW2 is extremely overrated. I rented it and beat the campaign in a few hours, and the multiplayer got old really fast.

Yet another short blog. THUNDA OUT!

Job Interview!

This is going to be a really short blog.

So I turned 16 3 weeks ago (Halloween) and I decided I wanted to get a holiday job at Gamestop. I went around to about 6 Gamestops in my area handing in applications. That was about a week after my birthday. So two weeks later...

I GOT A CALL BACK!

I'm going to be interviewed for a job at Gamestop tomorrow!

GAH!!

I'm really nervous, but I have to be calm for the interview. So I'm getting out all of my jitters tonight and and getting a good night's sleep. The interview is at 1:30 CT. The lady who called me sounded really peppy and nice, so I don't think I'll have a problem talking to her.

I'm *SO* excited! I really hope I get this job!

What is with all of the freakin' SEQUELS?

HONEST

TO

FREAKIN

GOD.

WHY must we have ONLY sequels be coming out this holiday season? I'm sick of all of these! Let's look at the list, shall we?

SEQUELS DUE OUT NOV. 09- FEB. 10

Assasin's Creed 2

Modern Warfare 2 (Released)

Bioshock 2

Mass Effect 2

Lego: Rock Band(Released)

Guitar Hero: Van Halen

Left 4 Dead 2

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

BILLIONS OF UBISOFT SPIN-OFFS

Rabbids Go Home

---AND THERE'S STILL MORE! But of course I'm not going to list them all, it might take you an hour to read them. We have very few new IPs coming out, and while some of these sequels are actually going to be good, some are going to be the same ol' song and dance. EXAMPLE: CODMW2, L4D2, Assasin's Creed 2, RE: The Darkside Chronicles....the list goes on...

Developers are getting more and more lazy, their putting minimum effort into their sequels and slapping a number on them. They put a $50-$60 price tag on it and BAM! You've been ripped off. Honestly. Take Madden for example. EA just puts some shiny new paint on it, adds or omits a mode, or sometimes adds an omitted mode, and puts it out as a new game.

...Honestly. Is that necessary? Do gamers REALLY have to buy the SAME game every year? Think about it. Buy every madden game for 5 years the day it's released and you have just spent $300 dollars on the same game. Three. Hundred. Dollars.

Why is this so rediculous? Because it's becoming a PATTERN people. Think about it this way, there are two cliffs, on is ten feet high with $1,000 dollars on the bottom, and one is 50 feet high with $50,000 dollars on the bottom. It's obvious which cliff people would jump off of, because people prefer less risk and will deal with the lesser income. Even though with greater risk comes larger income.

I'm afraid the gaming world is in for a shock when we hit Left 4 Dead X and Guitar Hero: Bob Dylan.

I really hope I'm wrong.

My next gaming system will be...

So, my birthday is coming up really fast (Halloween is the day I turn 16!) and my party is a week from Saturday. I am expecting a bit of a large cash flow, so I was pondering what to get. Then it hit me.

A PSP 3000 FF: Dissidia pack.

It's only $30 more than a regular PSP, and it includes the Advent Children movie! It's also a PSP 3000, so we know that's a good thing :)

But...I don't know what else to get. The selling factor here for me was the announcement of the marvel comics download store and over 100 new DL games...oh, and STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT ELITE SQUADRON!! :D

So, I have a couple games on my list, but they're mostly *gulp* shooters, can some of you reccomend a few RPGs and such, I wouldn't mind a puzzle game or two, either.

I do know about KH: BBS, thank you, in fact, a plot twist in KH: 358/2 days made me want to get BBS.

So, yes, please, reccomend!

Are we heading into a second "Golden Age of Gaming"?

Ha, I didn't even blog about what new games I got. You know I must be busy. Oh well.

So, without further ado...

For those of you who know your video game history, the "Golden Age" of video games was when the Atari 3000 and Intellivision consoles were released and became a common household item, much like the Wii is today. Families were getting more and more into the video game industry, and they became a big hit. This is how video games as an entertainment item really got off the ground. Now, since every other family had a video game system, they need games to play it, right? This became a problem for the industry.

It wasn't that the video game industry couldn't come out with games quick enough or they were too expensive, on the contrary, video games were relatively easy to make, and could be sold for a low price to make a lot of profit. This is where the problem came from. Since so many people had a gaming console at their house, video games were a very easy way to make a profit. Everybody and their brother wanted to make a game, and with about a day's worth of research (or training) anybody could make a half-assed game and put out for retail.

Now we have a problem. People didn't know the difference between a good and bad game, and when they went to the store to buy a game, they saw two things. The first was shelf with good games lined up on it for $40 each, but if they looked to their right, they saw a bin filled to the brim with games for $4 each. People didn't realize that these games were cheap because they sucked, so they bought those games instead of the $40 ones on the shelf that were ten times better than the crap they were buying.

In turn, since people were buying bad games at low prices, developers of more expensive but better games went bankrupt and closed down. Soon, people finally realized that the more expensive games were better, but it was too late, all of those companies who poured time and love into their games were closed.

Gaming started to die down, it was being seen as a "fad" and people thought they would never come back.

Until, of course, Nintendo, a Japanese playing card company, decided in their final dying breath of bankruptcy to make a video game console. The NES, bundled with Super Mario Bros.

The rest is, literally, history. Nintendo saved the day.

Does anybody find it ironic that who was once the hero of the industry is now being seen as tthe enemy? Everybody and their grandmother has a Wii now, and they are looking for games to play. So, when they go to the store and see "Boom Blox" and "Carnival Games" and seen "Boom Blox" is more expensive, they're going to buy the latter.

Developers are starting to see this opportunity at hand, so in turn they're putting out shovelware with a nice box and selling it off as a good game.

I don't hate the Wii. I love the Wii. In fact, Nintendo holds the rights to produce my favorite gaming system, the DS.

But, if history repeats itself...who will save the industry?

2 years on GS! That's Wicked Sick!

If any of you got my play on words, I just hit level 30, and to top it all off, this is my 2 year anniversary of blogging on GS! I realize it says I've been blogging since June 1, but I haven't. I really started in September, I really just wanted to write reviews! :D

The best part about being on GS for me is how the community here is passionate in what they play, and have strong opinions on their games and tastes. I have been in many-a-debate about games, and have gotten many-an-update on gaming news.

I have nothing of real value to blog about, besides that I now have gotten so far in FFIV I have reached the point in my game where I just can't go on because of how hard it's getting (I'm close to the climax) . I'm trying so hard to push foward, but it's tough. No worries though, I'll just do an hour or two of grinding.

Have a good day!

THUNDA OUT!

5 Games I want, now.

A lot of people are doing a blog about what games coming out soon they want now, after all, it is that time of year, where the bounty of great games will be showered upon us. We will experience some of the most groundbreaking games, some of the best multiplayer, and some of the biggest letdowns. Oh, and we're going to experience yet ANOTHER Halo release that we all know is most likely going to fall flat on its face.

Hey, it's not a fall season without a Halo game being released, is it?

(I wouldn't mind the absence...)

Anyway, it's time to reveal the top 5 games coming out this fall/holiday season that I plan to get before January. There will be shock, there will be outrage, and there will be a, "Well no **** Thunderstarter put that on the list!" moment, it's a top 5 you don't want to miss, it's a top 5 for the world to see!

If you cared, that is.

5. The Beatles: Rock Band

I hate The Beatles with a burning, firey passion. I cannot stand them. So why do I want this game? I'm thinking it might change my mind, Rock Band managed to get me to enjoy Testament, Lacuna Coil, and System of a Down. 3 Bands I wouldn't normally consider because I didn't enjoy them until I played Rock Band. This also goes for Iron Maiden, but that's only because I hadn't heard them before. I realize this already came out, but hey, it deserved the bottom of my list.

4. Scribblenauts

This comes out tomorrow! It's ever so exciting, and I cannot wait to solve various puzzles with whatever I can think of. I saw a live demo on Attack of the Show, and there was a puzzle where you had to clean out a garden littered with all kinds of junk. They took the long way out and resorted to flamethrowers and a drunk, but I thought, "Uh...a Tornado! DUH!". This makes me excited to see how my friends will solve puzzles once I hand the game over to them.

3. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

It may seem odd to you that this game only hit #3, but trust me, this game is exciting me to no end. I really can't wait for the story (Which GI said is a must for all KH fans) or the ability to play as all of the members of Organization XIII (Sorry I meant Organization XIV due to Xion!). What's with Xion having to dissapear? Why is Riku involved? Why the Hell is Alyson Stoner Xion's voice actor? All questions will be answered on 9/29/09.

2. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

I can't believe I put an on-rails shooter up here. I really don't have much to say, but every time I see a preview my heart starts racing. The game is supposed to be scary, it's supposed to rely on teamwork, it's going to have Leon and Claire, I don't know, it sounds like win.

1. Dragon Age: Origins

No duh, right? Come on, 9 origin stories to choose from and countless endings, sidequests, events, and characters definately make this game a game for me. Bioware is legend for never letting down on a videogame (They made Sonic not suck!) and they're known for their ambitious storylines and legendary gameplay. Mass Effect was my first game by them, then Jade Empire, then Sonic Chronicles, and my 4th is going to be Dragon Age. These games have all delievered memorable experiences for me, and Origins I'm sure is going to give me more of those memories with Origins.

So there's my list, I'm guessing most of the list was a shock, but I'm proud of it and I can't wait to get my hands on these games.