Category Archives: Video Games

The Nintendo Wii, a toy?

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Uhmmmm, it looks like at least two game developers agree with what I’ve thought about the Wii for some time now. Funny how that happens, huh?

[Via MTV Multiplayer]

Choke points, why do you exist?

Here it is. The start of a wonderful relationship between you and your next obsession [insert game title here]. You pop it in, go through the ropes of what hopefully is a competent tutorial only to inevitably be shut down by a choke point. Better known as the “fuck us over with an unseen ridiculous ramp up in difficulty”.

So, what would bring this sort of thing up from the clutches of Will’s (hey that’s me) thoughts. Referring to myself in third person, that’s what. No, really it’s the GTA IV mission Three Leaf Clover. What a cluster fuck of frustration. Whoever the fuck thought this mission up needs to have a serious phyc evaluation. In hindsight, Three Leaf Clover is brilliant in so many ways. It’s in the trailer’s so there no real spoiler here. This bank robbery is better than almost the entirety of that of which is Kane & Lynch.

It’s a pivotal mission by all accounts as it starts you on the ramp up towards some pretty key parts of the story. Then again, this is the sort of thing that will keep lots of impatient people from finishing an already long game like this. Repeating things over and over isn’t exactly any-ones call for a good time. So why do game designer’s continue to put them in their games? Do they not want anyone not hardcore enough to make it to the end credits of their game. You see, this what mostly continues the divide between every other entertainment medium and videogames.

Is it so much to ask for some love? Creating artificial stop gaps in the middle of your game is troubling. No wonder so many people just don’t even bother trying to play a game when all they can see is that first point when they get stuck. And yes I know this is a much more complicated issue than what I’m making it out to be, but that’s the whole point. The consumer isn’t thinking about things the way myself and others like me think. What do you think “Joe Blow” is thinking when they get frustrated. Yes, there just going to do something else. Do you call that a job well done?

Lets NOT all hail Nintendo

As a fan of Leigh Alexander I’d like to take the time to counter some of what (What’s our Mandate) she’s written about none other than Nintendo. I’ve written quite a few things before doubting Nintendo for nearly everything they’ve done with the Wii and I can’t say that my opinion has changed in the slightest. Firstly will be a look at the following:

All hail Nintendo, for bringing video games to morning mainstream television, for lining up the all-ages gamers outside of its stores, for bringing in the girls, the senior citizens, the rehabbing soldiers, the fitness junkies. Yes, yes, thanks to Nintendo for fostering a more friendly attitude toward gaming among the uninitiated, for opening minds with a clean, soothing and bright white Wii ray.

Now, Nintendo is indeed doing a great service for the entire gaming culture from the aspect of what is called the “mainstream”, but what is really happening here? Are consumers really interested in playing a videogame now when they previously had not or is it that they’re just running with the tide of what’s hot and just following suit with the unwashed masses who feel they need to stay with the “in” crowd? A debate about accessibility can easily be had now, but that’s another matter for some other time. As for the more friendly attitude Nintendo has brought toward gaming, lets think about that for a second. Who’s really bringing this friendly attitude? It most certainly isn’t Nintendo. The potential user of the Wii is bringing this attitude all on their own as they some how feel that the Wii is what I’ll bring up again, accessible. If you look at any of the marketing efforts Nintendo is putting forth it’s painfully obvious that what their doing is not getting people to care to want to play the Wii, but flail around in there living room in the guise of playing a videogame. Go ahead, look at anyone of those ads. They all rarely show anything about what’s ultimately the entire point of owning a machine dedicated to playing videogames, the game. And yes, that’s clearly not what these “new” gamers are looking for as they are highly likely to not know anything about what their so hot to purchase in the first place.

If games mean more to us than simple toys, it’s because we’ve found a personal, emotional connection point, and that’s no small deal. We hope that games will contain many of these touchstones, and I think a heartening percentage of them do. I think, though, the key to gaming becoming really meaningful and important to society at large is for them to develop touchstones that aren’t necessarily personal to us, but relevant to the world on a whole.

Simple toys. What a bastardisation of what gamers hold dearly. It’s a phrase that’s as played out as a 747 being just a mere plaything for aspiring pilots to sit in and pretend there actually doing something other than playing with a gigantic hot-wheel. Videogames mean more to us as much as movies mean allot to a movie goer as they walk out of a theater feeling that they know the characters that they’ve just been watching for a few odd hours. Gamers understand what the joy of gaming is all about as they have moved beyond the peripherals of gaming and actually engaged with the medium. The nay-sayers who never actually partake with the control interface needed for what we now know as a videogame have little integrity to stand on when you try to reduce your possible interest to just the most basic of needs with a videogame by just watching ( and very little if that). Of course, you’re not going to get it. Relevance to the world will only come when everyone breaks through that passive barrier we’ve all become so accustom to with every other medium.

I’m thinking about this as I watch on television the footage of the absolutely mind-blowing destruction in China in the wake of an unprecedented earthquake, devastation in Myanmar. I’m watching stories about a lifetime public servant’s terminal brain cancer, publicity photos of his family smiling through it all. I’m watching America re-evaluate its national identity after what’s arguably a misstep of a war, gamely accepting that the next leader might be a black man or a woman, something impossible perhaps even a decade ago. I’m watching an energy crisis, an environmental crisis.

Then I go to work and write about video games. Our industry burgeons and swells with money against the backdrop of larger social issues, and on forums everywhere, the majority of the vocal audience wants to know, “does it have multiplayer?” We want to know if the graphics suck or if there will be a sequel.

There is a crisis of conscience here.

Our industry has no crisis of conscience anymore than headlines of major news outlets running with the latest Britney or Angelina fan fodder. The problem here is that there isn’t a problem. Why? Because not everyone wants to live in the “real world” 100% of the time, which is why (fictional)books, music, (serial) television, and movies have before videogames been the escape away from the things “that really matter”. When your not playing a game your living in reports of disasters, the death’s of “real” people, foreclosures, heat waves, droughts, depression, ridiculous energy and fuel cost, everyday chores, and kids if you have them. You know, life stuff. Everyone is entitled to some form of escapism aren’t they? Writing about videogames is some form of escapism in and of itself. Whether your being paid for it or not shouldn’t remove the reality of the situation. Your being paid to write about videogames. The craziness of that shouldn’t be lost anymore than some writing about any other hobbyist/recreational industry.

And lastly:

I would like games, and the work of people like me who write about games, to be able to keep a foot in reality, a thread that runs through the stories of the real world into the stories of the game world. Sometimes. A Final Fantasy Tactics fan at Japanator’s blogs used his feelings about War of the Lions to parallel and organize his own opinion on the war. He’s not even a professional writer, and he’s trying; I respect that. Infamous tipster SurferGirl has said that she hoped to use the buzz around her industry-insider blog to encourage gamers to broaden their views and take an interest in activism. She’s since retired the mysterious blog; perhaps she felt she wasn’t finding success at that.

I’m not implying that all gamers should feel some sort of moral obligation that they wouldn’t otherwise. And god knows that not all games need to carry social weight – let’s let Pokemon be Pokemon, for example. But at the very least, we should be able to write and talk about games in a way that isn’t insular, that doesn’t exclude the crucial stories of the real world. I say “at least,” even though I know what I’m asking is no easy feat, demanding a lexicon that’ll take time and broad effort to evolve. But to me, that’s really the only way to help gaming become truly relevant and inclusive – Miis, waggle and Wii Fit can only go so far.

Now here’s ultimately the biggest issue facing games in the breath of society as a whole. For writers to truly take their writing beyond the customary “how’s the graphics” arena and infuse it with the wider scope of the real world, the real world needs to shed its taboo whoring ways and maybe it’ll be just that much easier for most writers to not feel the need to be insular when that very world makes it seem so easy to attack that of which it doesn’t understand. Sure, it’ll take time for that to mend itself, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it shouldn’t be this way in the first place and as I may be afraid of, Nintendo may be doing just the opposite of what so many are currently concluding. Is “the videogame is nothing more than a toy” mentality being reinforced by Nintendo when so many previously none gamers only view the Wii as a novelty that they pull out here and there to show off to friends or to play only what came with it, Wii Sports? Its mighty hard to gain that relevance when your viewed as nothing more than a toy.

Super Mario Galaxy DS?

The title says it all, even it it is fake.

[Via Digg]

Marching Band the way it should be, all videogamed out

In this halftime show with the Cal U Marching Band, they perform a show entirely of videogame music, of which the obvious symbols corresponding to the music go with it. Much of it being Nintendo inspired, I wish we had done something like this when I was in Marching Band. There’s nothing else to say, but Hells Yes!

Pong
Tetris
Mortal Kombat
Pokemon
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Bros. Theme
Mario Underground Theme
Super Mario World Theme
Mario Water Theme
Mario World 1-1 Theme

Like Echo Chrome? How about Kokoromi’s FEZ

Games like Echo Chrome, Crush, and the latest Paper Mario incarnation are attempting to take gaming in a unusual place where 2d isn’t all that it appears. Kokorami’s FEZ is attempting much of the same mechanics. Which does it best? It’s up to the gamer.

[Via Game Girl Advance]

Mass Exodus of Nintendo Executives: Harrison, Kaplan, And Llewelyn Leaving

Senior Director of Public Relations Beth Llewelyn, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan, and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications George Harrison will all be leaving Nintendo of America in the near future. The exact date of their departures is unknown.

Ut oh! Where’s Moses when you need him? Trouble in Nintendo PR land?

read more | digg story

Midway “punishes” 1UP for low scores by not giving them games to review

Where’s 1UP’s Mortal Kombat Wii review? Midway has decided to not send 1UP review code at all as some sort of punishment. The message? “Give us better scores, or we won’t support you.” So 1UP’s getting it’s own copy from the store to review.

Ha, this is the downfall of civilization as we know it. 1up not getting a early copy of a game that’s been out for six month’s on older platform’s is pretty much a joke. Even if the new wii-mote controls are actually any good it’s still not worth it for 1up to kiss Midways ass,and for what? To get exposure for there games that will get exposure by 1up’s own will regardless. Give me a break!

read more | digg story

Sony Gamer’s Day 2007

 

Is there a reason to buy the PS3 for games now? Maybe.

PS3 l33t

Dislike G4 or not, this is pretty funny.