So How About Those Pokeymans…

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Well…here they are.  The new Pokemon.  A grass ram-thing, a sickly looking bird, a mildly annoyed panda, and a yellow…salamander…thing…?  I’m not one to hate new pokemon designs, I’m really not.  I even thought that the nigh universally despised trubbish and vanilluxe were kind of cute and well designed in their own way.  For the most part, I honestly love each generation of pokemon as much as the last.  I will turn around and play Blue version just as quickly as I’d pick up Black 2 again. With these designs though, I think that Pokemon needs to stop.  It had a great run, but all good things must come to an end.

It seems to me that, for the most part, The Nintendo Company is milking the franchise for all it’s worth at this point.  There are well over 700 Pokemon at this point, I think the time for new pokemon is over, it’s an incredibly well realized world filled with the little monsters, there really isn’t a need for more.  That’s not to say everything in the newest iteration is unnecessary, the addition of 3D graphics looks bangin, the new animations are a wonderful addition, and a 3D world is amazing.  But adding more pokemon just for the sheer sake of adding more Pokemon seems desperate.  Black and White and B2 and W2 were all incredibly solid Pokemon games, and I thought they were wonderful games to leave the franchise with, at least as far as new Pokemon are concerned.

I might be jumping the gun here, admittedly.  There ARE only 11 pokemon shown from the new generation at this point, and one of them is just a Pokemon from Gen 1 redone.  But based on these designs, I’m mildly unimpressed.  For the first time since I picked up Pokemon Blue when I was a wee lad playing my brand new Gameboy, my response to new pokemon coming out is a resounding “meh.”  It’s possible that The Pokemon Company will just completely blow me away as more designs come out, and I sincerely hope they do.  But for now…I just want to know what the hell that little yellow thing is.

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Saint’s Row The Third: What In The Actual Hell did I Just Play.

In an effort to play more games that I had meant to play in the past, I’ve taken to abusing Gamestop’s return policy like a 40 year old homeless guy abuses heroin.  The policy states that a used game can be returned within 7 days for a full refund, so I’m going to see how far that can get me through the summer at one game a week.  My first acquisition was a little game called Saint’s Row The Third. I realize that I’m a little over a year behind on this discovery, but you know what?  I’m writing this article.

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I had played the first two Saints Row games before and they were…alright.  Saint’s Row’s original purpose was to fill the then-present void caused by the lack of a Grand theft Auto game on the next gen consoles at the time.  By the time Grand theft Auto IV came out and showed how incredible the sandbox genre can be, games like the first two Saints Row games seemed relatively unnecessary.So Volition Software just kind of said “fuck it.” and released Saint’s Row The Third.

As far as the writing in video games go, it’s really hard for me to think of a genuinely funnier game.  When you play as a sassy black woman, voiced by Troy Baker, running around naked killing people by beating them to death with a 5 foot long purple dildo you know you have happened across pure gold.  Admittedly, as far as the gameplay was concerned, I was mildly underwhelmed.  It’s not bad, not by a long shot but it’s just not great.  Since this game has come out, there have been fantastic combat systems in open world games the likes of Sleeping Dogs, and Saint’s Row just feels by the numbers in comparison.  In the same vain, the layout of Steelport city is relatively drab for a game with such a ridiculous attitude.  There’s nothing to really see or do outside of the main story missions and the optional side missions.  But these missions are where the game truly shines.  The characters and situations the Third Street Saints find themselves in are outright ridiculous, hilarious, and sometimes just plain goddamn awesome.  In particular, one scene in which you skydive out of a helicopter and take over a penthouse while Power by Kanye West plays was particularly epic.  Scenes like this remind me how games can make a player just feel awesome.

All things considered, I really did love the game a lot.  It wasn’t terribly long, but the time I did spend I spent laughing out loud consistently (when I met the mayor of the city, I almost died).  While the fundamentals of the game were moderate, and the city of  Steelport is just ehh, I think the writing, and the mission design of the game actually makes this a must play for anyone that can appreciate the sandbox-crime game genre.

EA, Microtransactions, and Why Gamers Should Stop Bitching About It…Mostly

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In case you live under a rock, don’t own any major console, or don’t like video games you probably know that Visceral Game’s newest installment in their Survival(ish) Horror(kinda) franchise Dead Space has been released on store shelves today.  It’s currently averaging a 79 score on Metacritic right now which is a fine score to say the least.  I’ve played and thoroughly enjoyed multiple games that have gotten far less than that.  Most of the criticisms levied against the game include a relatively weak plot that retreads DS1 a lot, a lot of fetch questing, and some of the survival elements of the first two games being stripped away in favor of a co-op experience.  These are all legitimate complaints, these are design choices in the game that the developer made that actually changes the overall experience of the game.

But then I look at the user comments…I should know better than to look at user reviews at this point…ughh…

The average low user review on the game goes something along the lines of *ahem*

xXeahat3rXx says: I HATE YOU EA, YOUR MICROTRANSACTIONS AND DAY 1 DLC RUINED THIS GAME.  EA RUINED THIS FRANCHISE AND I HATE THEM FOREVER, I’M BOYCOTTING THIS GAME AND REFUSE TO BUY IT, GO DIE IN A FIRE

Ok, I can’t even begin to say how many of these user comments I’ve seen that go something along the lines of “EA has ruined this franchise.  It was so good.”

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I want you to look closely at the two boxes above.  Down there in the lower right of the box, what is it that you see there?  Is that…is that EA’s logo?  Well gosh darn it, that’s what it looks like! EA was one of the reasons this franchise existed in the first place, what with Visceral Games being a part of EA and all.  That’s not even the point though, what people are saying ruined this game was the addition of microtransactions and day 1 DLC.

This is where I start to get foggy on people’s complaints here.  Dead Space 3 is a single player game, or a co-op game.  What problem is it if they give the option to buy some extra gun parts?  Is it going to make them too over powered in their single player experience?  Who cares?!?  Is the fact that someone else wants to spend their hard-earned money on something to use in their own experience ACTUALLY hurting your own gaming experience in any conceivable way?  I can almost promise you with 100% certainty that it is not.

Again, the same thing applies with Day 1 DLC.  They finished the game, and they decided to add some guns to the game for a couple bucks a set, big whoop.  It’s not changing the playability of the game at all not having these guns is it?  As a player, you are completely capable of building your own weapons in-game without having these DLC guns, so why is it your problem if some other schmuck decides to blow 2 bucks on some virtual guns?

Take heed though: I’m in no way supporting these microtransactions and day 1 DLC.  Because while I think it’s inclusion in Dead Space 3 is pretty inconsequential, sometimes it does kinda sting.  If, for example, a whole story arc was released as day 1 DLC, that would be a problem.  That is a part of the game that could have very well been put in instead of sold alongside it.  THAT is when it becomes a problem, not when it’s a couple of extra guns for a couple bucks, that’s not fundamentally changing the game!

Something similar goes with microtransactions.  If it’s a multiplayer game where that microtransaction would end up giving the edge over an opponent, THAT would be a problem.  It’s at that point that it comes down to whoever has the most money wins the game.  But in a single player or co-operative experience why does it matter?  Is the fact that someone else is spending money to make himself feel better hurting you in any way?  If it is, well I suggest you go see a therapist.

So to all of those people throwing down “1” user ratings on metacritic right now, I say this: Just chill out and try to enjoy the game for what it is.  Who cares if there’s some guns out there that you don’t have, just don’t use those guns!  So what if someones spending the money on microtransactions, is it making you any less powerful?  Games are meant to be enjoyed, on their own merits, regardless of things Visceral and EA might put out besides the game.  Gamers these days need to stop looking at games as products of publishers instead of, well, games. It’s sad, it’s bad, and it’s sapping the enjoyment out of something that’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience.

I’m Back! Yay!

Well, okay then.

Turns out those couple weeks I was going to take off ended up being about a month off…or more…But that’s okay!  I’m back now, and I have stuff to write and things to say!  I’m also going to be doing some more streaming in a couple of months because I have my computer back!  But let’s do a quick recap about the last while, I’ll go into details in the coming weeks.

Christmas:  Christmas was spectacular!  If you saw my last post you know my Christmas list.  I actually ended up with a Vita AND a Galaxy S3!  I’m incredibly thankful, and I have a wonderful family.  It’s a little bit late to be talking about Christmas and stuff, but you know what, I’m doing it anyway.  By the way, if you haven’t played yet, Castle Ravenloft (the board game) is tons of fun for an afternoon of playing.

Ni No Kuni: I’m deeply, deeply, DEEPLY in love with this game.  I Picked it up Day 1 and it was love at first sight.  I’ll probably put up a full blown post about it later, but I just wanted to express quickly how much it is that I adore this game.

Taiyou-Con.  Taiyou Con was a blast as always this year.  Me and the guys at Nailbat had an absolute blast with our loyal fans and congoer friends as always, and made some fantastic new friends, despite the occasional technical hiccup.  Coming up in March we’re going to be going to ConNichiwa down in Tucson so look out for that.  We have some wonderful new panels and more fantastic content we’re rolling out.

That’s what’s been going on with me over the break, as well as getting back into College mode.  I look forward to throwing out some more posts really soon, and as always I love feedback!

That’s it ennit?  Tidy!

Ironhoof

Christmas Blowout Extravaganza 2013 EX Directors Cut + (AKA, the Christmas list my family wants me to put out every year that I just put on my blog now)

Well, it looks like that time of year again, everybody’s happy, it’s relatively cold outside (for Arizona), There’s a Christmas tree on Mill Ave. and half the windows at ASU have shoddily placed Christmas Lights on them.  What I’m trying to convey is…IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!  While there’s still a couple of weeks left of school here, it’s basically Christmas to me so I just wanted to take a moment in the name of consumerism to lay out my Christmas list for my dear family whom I will link this post to (I Love you Gram, Pops, Robin, Dick, Dave, Steph, Mom, Dad and possibly Alex).  And maybe some other people will see what’s cool out there and why I like it.

You may notice a distinct lack of Nintendo’s new video game system (The Wii U) on here.  I think it’s a cool looking system with a lot of fun potential, but I think there needs to be a more established game library before I go out and consider wanting one.

The layout this year is a wee bit different, as I’m laying out two possible options. One of these isn’t as much a “gift” (it’s a big gift) as it is a potential Spring Break plan, but I’ll get to that in a moment.  Without further ado…enjoy.

OptionPlan Number 1: The Regular List (As per always, in no particular order)

1. Smart Phone (Galaxy S3)

As far as describing this one, it should be rather self explanatory.  It’s kinda odd being in classes at a journalism school designing web apps for a smart phone I don’t even own.    It was especially weird when one of my teachers just assumed everyone in the class had a smart phone to do this video assignment, and when I said I didn’t have one, she pushed the assignment back so she could let me get a camera…yeah.  So having a smart phone would be nice.

2. PlayStation Vita.

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The Playstation Vita is the Successor to the PSP, and it is a gorgeous piece of technology. It’s a really cool system to use, and games look gorgeous on it.  Not to mention the selection of games is good too, now that it has had a good amount of time to be out there (It came out in March).  The Vita is up there on my list.

2a. Games for Vita

If I were to have a Vita, some games for it would probably be cool.  ones like

Persona 4: The Golden (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/ps-vita/games/persona-4-golden/101981 ):

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Following in the footsteps of Persona 3 Portable, the second highest rated PSP game of all time, and based on Persona 4, one of the most beloved ATLUS titles ever, P4G delivers an enhanced and expanded portable roleplaying experience. Visuals have been beautifully remastered to take advantage of the vibrant 5″ OLED display. The game’s aural presentation is better than ever, with 1.5 times the voiced dialogue of the original release. A new online dungeon rescue feature allows users to call on other players for assistance when they are about to die in the TV world. P4G is also overflowing with new content: new Personas to collect; new story events along with an allnew character; stunning new anime cutscenes, which include a new opening animation with a new song from master composer Shoji Meguro; a host of fan suggested tweaks and changes, and much, much more! Persona 4 Golden is far more than just a handheld version of an alltime classic: it’s the best way to experience it yet!

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/ps-vita/games/uncharted-golden-abyss/91436 ):

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Uncover the dark secret behind the 400-year-old massacre of a Spanish expedition as Nathan Drake follows the murderous trail of an ancient and secret Spanish sect. Caught in the middle of a rivalry between Jason Dante – his old friend – and Marisa Chase – the granddaughter of an archeologist who has mysteriously vanished without a trace – Nathan Drake races into the treacherous river basins, undiscovered temple ruins and karst caverns of Central America in search of a legendary lost city, only to find himself pushed to the edge of the Golden Abyss.

Gravity Rush: (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/ps-vita/games/gravity-rush/98723 )

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Manipulate gravity to save your world from destruction. Gain a new perspective as you take on the role of Kat, a strong-willed girl seeking the means to protect her future in a world that’s crumbling to pieces. Tilt and move the PlayStation Vita, taking gravity into your own hands to deliver devastating attacks, uncover the secrets to your past and explore a mysterious world.

3. PS3/Xbox 360/3DS Games

These are all fantastic video games that are on my list.

Play Station All Stars: Battle Royale (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/ps3/games/playstation-all-stars-battle-royale/101765?loc=newgamereleases )

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Do any of you remember when Alex and I got a game called Super Smash Bros. for Christmas on Nintendo 64? (Ahhh, those were the days!)  Well this is the same general idea as that game: Take some of the biggest characters and stars from Play Station’s history and have them fight each other.  It’s a really fun game that I had the pleasure of playing, that does a great job of differentiation itself from Nintendo’s Smash Bros. Franchise.

Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing Transformed (For Xbox 360 OR PS3) (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/xbox-360/games/sonic-all-stars-racing-transformed/104378 )

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Think Mario Kart, but with Transforming Karts that move through Land, Air, and Sea all at once as the tracks continue and change around you, it’s a grand ol’ time.  I haven’t had the opportunity to play this one myself yet, but the reviews on the game have been nothing but positive, and portraying it as some of the most fun you can have with a cartoony racing game.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (Gamestop: http://www.gamestop.com/nintendo-3ds/games/paper-mario-sticker-star/89905?loc=bestsellers )

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Paper Mario was a great game that came out back in the days of the Nintendo 64, that combined the tradition Mario formula with Roleplaying Game elements.  Now it’s back on the 3DS and apparently better than ever, and I’m excited about it.

4. Movies And Such

The Dark Knight Rises Blu Ray. (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Rises-Blu-ray-UltraViolet-Digital/dp/B004LWZWGK/ref=sr_tr_sr_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354910685&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dark+knight+rises )

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He’s the Hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

Persona 4: The Animation Blu Ray (http://www.amazon.com/Persona-4-Collection-1-Blu-ray/dp/B008DL4MSO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354910812&sr=8-2&keywords=persona+4+the+animation )

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It’s kinda funny that Persona 4: The Animation is the second Persona 4 based item on this list right now, it’s just that Persona 4 is one of my favorite games of all time, and the face that they both remade the game AND made an anime about it is just too cool.  The anime is amazing and up there with my all time favorites, so having it on Blu Ray would be awesome.

5: Fun Things

Star Trek Inflatable Captain’s Chair: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e9ce/

JUST LOOK AT THAT!  LOOK AT HOW AWESOME THAT IS!

House Stark Shirt: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ebbf/

Because Winter Is Coming

Theres No Place Like “Home” shirt: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/5d6a/

Get it?  Because those numbers are localhost AKA home!  HA!

Crit Happens Shirt: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f148/

A “crit” is when something is a “Critical Failure” in a DnD game.  So you know…crit happens.

Replica Legend of Zelda Shield: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f0b8/

Imagine THAT hanging in my room!

Castle Ravenloft DnD Board Game: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e692/

It’s a DnD Campaign you can do over a coupla hours time.  Perfect for initiating my friends to DnD without having to run a full on campaign with them.

Ascencion: Chronicle of the Godslayer: http://www.amazon.com/Ascension-Chronicle-Of-The-Godslayer/dp/B0040QE5YC

This is a card game I’ve played a couple of times with friends, and it’s a lot of fun.  You build your deck as you go through the game, changing your strategy as it continues.

Assassin’s Creed Hoodie: http://store.ubiworkshop.com/assassins-creed-3-connor-hoodie/

This is a really cool sweatshirt, based on a really cool character.

And that about wraps it up or plan 1.  Obviously, as every year, if there is anything NOT on this list that would be cool, I trust my family’s judgement wholly.  Now on to the 2nd possible plan.

OptionPlan Number 2: Disney World

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So I was talking to my friend Mike as I am often wont to do on any given day when he said something to me, and passed along an invitation.  He said that over Spring Break, his family had a hotel room at Disney World that they weren’t going to use, and that we (Me, Mike, George, Ruben, and Matt) were more than welcome to it.  But the caveat was of course getting there, buying a park ticket, and Food/spending money.  So that is option number 2: Disney World with my friends for Spring Break.  I realize this is a tremendous undertaking, which is why this is it’s own separate list from the rest, and if you ignore it completely I would certainly not argue.  But I figured I would mention the plan either way.

5 Day Park Hopper Ticket: $325

Plane Fare ~$500

Food/Stuff

So there you have it, that is my christmas list this year!  I hope this has been an enjoyable, helpful read with some pretty fun stuff to look at!

Let me finish it off with a pony.

Journey: The First Video Game Soundtrack to be Nominated for A Grammy

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A big step forward for Video Games, as the score and soundtrack for Journey (my pick for game of the year, and coincidentally soundtrack of the year) was nominated for a Grammy for the first time in history.  Along with the other announcements for nominees (CALL ME MAYBE SONG OF THE YEAR WOO!) in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, one familiar face stood out with the movies on the list.

I take this as a sign that Journey’s soundtrack is a shoe in to win music at the Video Game Awards, but you never know.  It’s really cool seeing the game’s soundtrack up there with the likes of John Williams (TinTin) and Howard Shore (Hugo).  Will it win the award?  I certainly hope so!  We’ll just have to see in March.