On Ryan Davis' passing

I never knew Ryan Davis personally.

The only sort of interaction I got was several years ago when he read one my questions for On the Spot on-air. Said my name was awesome -- even pronounced it correctly! Was a very cool, flattering, and weird moment. I've come close to meeting him along with the rest of the Giant Bomb crew at these past two E3s (and I did have a brief encounter with Brad and Vinny this year), though I never saw Ryan. "There's always next year," I thought, certain I'd be lucky catch a glimpse of him eventually.

Well. There won't be a next time now. Not anymore.

Ryan passed away last week, just days after his wedding, at the young age of 34. I'll spare you a repeat of the details and direct you to Giant Bomb's story for more. It's been tough to comes to terms with. Followed his work for almost a decade now. You sort of get to know someone after keeping up with their career for so long. Makes the eventual death all the more difficult to handle.

I've spent the past few days in a daze of confusion and depression, unsure of what to do with myself. Tried working, playing games, reading -- nothing helped distract me. Couldn't focus on anything, instead aimlessly browsing the Web just trying to pass the time until I somehow manage to accept what happened and move on. Hasn't been fun.

I'm still surprised by how much this effected me. I've lost people close to me before -- my grandfather passed away back in early 2010, for instance -- and I recall taking that well. Saddened, of course, but not broken up over it. Maybe it's because I knew it was coming with him. The family and I knew he was in poor health for months prior to his death, the signs of poor health clearly visible on his rare visits. So the news wasn't as shocking when it came to pass. Ryan, by comparison, seemed to be fine by all accounts -- fit as fiddle. And yet, here we are.

These incidents always serve as a stark reminder of how short life can be. A fact we're all familiar with, sure -- but it never truly hits you until it happens. Ryan was one of many who inspired me to try my hand at game journalism. Always hoped I'd one day be able to work alongside him and the rest of the Giant Bomb crew; or at least be acquainted from afar. Perhaps thank him for all his stupendous work and for motivating me to become a writer. Alas...

Rest in peace, sir. You'll be missed dearly.

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More Bit.Trip News...

...because there's still three more games on the way, and because I haven't got much else to talk about.

So anyway, the fourth game was recently announced. It's called Bit.Trip Runner, which makes me suspect that it'll be some sort of platforming game or something. Especially after what happened at the end of Void:

From that, it can easily be interpreted that the game will have the aforesaid character running on his own, with the player making him jump to avoid obstacles and/or grab beats along the way. Sort of like an on-rails-platformer (which may or may not be an actual genre).

Screenshots are said to be on the way according to the game's publisher, Aksys Games, so it'll become clear if my (and everyone else's) speculation is true or not soon.

Also, Happy Holidays, all!

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Activision games to no longer utilize consoles?

Following the success of the videogame market, there were (and still are) many who developed small electronic game devices that host a variety of simple games that one could walk into a store and buy for a cheap price. The games on these devices paled in comparison to those of consoles, but they obviously still saw some success at retail, otherwise they would have vanished from store shelves some time ago.

 
Why do I bring this up? Because if  a recent statement made by Activision CEO Robert Kotick is true, then Activision games may follow the way in which those games are played: No console required to play.

The quote in question mentioned plans for a "untethered Guitar Hero," and said to expect many of their "products to be playable independent of a console."

In other words, you'll no longer require a console to play games, specifically ones by Activision. And instead, I suspect, will simply have to pug something (possibly the peripheral) into your television to play, much like how similar peripheral based devices have done.

And for that reason, I can see this being beneficial in some ways. The Guitar Hero franchise is quite popular, and this could get it into the hands of more people, which in turn, brings in more money for Activision. And as with any company, that's reason enough to bring this concept to fruition.

Though I have to wonder how the console makers would feel about this... As this would steal potential sales from them, and I can't imagine that they'd be pleased with that.

Still, the idea has some potential. Though I would suggest not taking this as truth just yet, as comments like these have been made in the past and never reach fruition. But I must admit, it sounds like a probable move from Activision. I mean, they've pretty much made it clear that they'll do anything to make as much money as possible, and since this could help them with that, I can easily see this happening. I mean, it's not like anyone's going to stop them, right?

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Huh...

You know how the Dreamcast died just after the PlayStation 2 launched, and how there weren't anymore games being made for it? Well, it appears that's changed. As a new Dreamcast game titled, Rush Rush Rally racing, was announced yesterday.

You can get the lowdown on the game here if you're interested. As for me, I'm gonna sit here, and try to come to terms with this strange development. I'll let you know how that goes.

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Bit.Trip Void announced!

I just came across this trailer for Bit.Trip Void -- the third installment in the Bit.Trip series -- on Bitmob, and it looks awesome. Really awesome.

 
The trailer (embedded below) shows a large black mass moving around absorbing beats of the same of the same hue, while avoiding white-hued beats. Upon absorbing beats, the mass grows larger, and as it grows it seems you'll have to shrink it in order to continue avoiding white beats.
 
 

 


Many have said its like Ikaruga, and they're right -- it is like Ikaruga, just simplified. Though I would extend that comparison to just about any game in that genre, as it it very similar to how those games play. Which, as a fan of that genre, is a welcome change.

The game game is set for release this fall, according to the developers website, and I couldn't be more excited. The Bit.Trip series has delivered some amazing games thus far, and Void looks like it'll continue to deliver. The game is going to be at PAX apparently, so some details should arise there.

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Famitsu scan reveals Okami sequel for DS

Out of all the games I thought would get a sequel, Okami never once crossed my mind. Why? Well, for one thing, the game didn't do well at retail (neither version did particularly well, I believe), which is what typically determines whether or not a game will receive a sequel.

Capcom, however, doesn't seem to follow that method, though. As today it was revealed that they are working on a sequel for Okami.

The reveal came courtesy of a scan from Famitsu, a popular gaming magazine in Japan. It was posted on various news outlets, with a translation done by GameSpot. Here's what they got...

According to Famitsu, Okamiden will be an all-new adventure in the Okami universe, though it will be set in the same areas as the PS2 and Wii editions. Further, the game will follow a new, younger character several months after the events of the original. Gameplay will be similar to previous versions, and players will use the DS's stylus to draw the franchise's hallmark magical symbols.

...Perhaps it's just me, but I have a bad feeling about this. Why? Well, seeing as the visuals and music were important aspects of the game, the DS doesn't seem like the best system to release a game such as this onto. As it is significantly weaker than the PlayStation 2 and Wii (the systems the original game was released on) are. You move it to a weaker platform, and you'll lose the aforementioned elements that were so integral to the original game.

And seeing as the game takes place in the same locations as the original, these differences will become more apparent to those familiar with them (such as myself). And unless they can somehow delivers the same level of quality as the original, then the game will surely be a lesser game. Especially if the controls don't work particularly well either. As, in my experience, three-dimensional games don't work too well with a d-pad, especially when there's platforming involved, and there probably will.

Now granted, I could be wrong about all this, and you know what? I hope I am. I'd love to be proved wrong, as I'd love to see a new Okami that delivers the same level of quality as the original. And the Celestial Brush could work very well on the DS, as it would feel very similar to actually using a brush.

But at this point, I'm not sure it'll be good. As until I know that the aforesaid concerns are addressed, I can only worry about how it'll be.

Hopefully these fears can be put to rest once the forthcoming Tokyo Game Show rolls around later this month, as the game is going to be playable there apparently. Which, at the very least, should shed some more light on this game.

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Because Sony can't keep secrets...

...We get another rumor just as we close the book on another one.

Following yesterday's long awaited announcement of the PlaySation 3 Slim, which is set to be released in early September worldwide at $300 (Yay! Price cut!), another rumor regarding said system has surfaced via an FCC filing.

The filing in question mentions a 250GB model of their newly announced system, which shares similarities in its product code (CECH-2001B) to the one of the forthcoming system (CECH-2000A). Leading many to believe that it indeed exists.

And that belief is only further instilled by the one responsible for the filing: Sand Dollar Enterprise. Whom, according to GameSpot, is "a Foster City, California outfit that shares an address with Sony Computer Entertainment America." In addition, the contact given in the filing was SCEA senior vice president of legal, Riley Russell. So there's no mistake; it's definitely a Sony filing.

Personally, I'm torn on this. On one hand, the immense hard drive would be nice to have, especially for one such as myself, who buys many downloadable titles. But on the other, I'd rather not pay extra (because, knowing Sony, they'll do that) for more space. And the fact that they're still going with the multiple hardware configurations, is driving me nuts. Can't they just stick with one model, like the Wii has?

Still, more space is never a bad thing. And if they pack in a game or two (i.e. ones I'm interested in), then I'll probably go for it. Well...as long as they don't end up releasing it a year or so from now, anyway.

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The Conundrums of When a Review Can be Written

As a reviewer, my job (not an actual job, mind you) is too help consumers make purchase decisions, by telling whether or not a game is good or bad. How we, the reviewers, tend to go about doing this, is by playing the game from start to finish before we write our reviews. As doing so gives us the knowledge to effectively evaluate the game.

I have followed this philosophy ever since I began to review videogames, as reviewing a game without finishing it is like reviewing a movie after watching only half of it -- a horrible move that would not only hurt the quality of your criticism, but your credibility as a critic, too.

But recently I've begun to wonder if it truly necessary to finish a game before writing the review -- even if you had gotten to the very end, only to find out you simply cannot finish it. What do you do in that situation? Do you keep trying in the hopes that you'll achieve victory? Start over, and hope that doing something differently will affect the outcome? Or just write the review based on what you know about the game?

Those are questions I've been asking myself for the past couple days, as I've been placed into that situation.

The game is Knights in the Nightmare. A DS title from Atlus. I have been working my way through it for the past couple weeks with little trouble. But a couple days ago, when I had arrived at the game's final boss, I hit a roadblock: I can't beat it. It is simply beyond my ability.

I have tried multiple times to beat it, but no how close I come to achieving victory, I'm met with defeat at the last second. Leaving me to make a difficult decision: Do I keep trying? Or give up and review it anyway? I've been considering going with the latter option, as I feel I know enough about the game to review it. But, at the same time, I feel shouldn't. As doing so without finishing it, just seems wrong. Which leaves me constantly debating which option I should go with.

As on one hand, I already have all the info needed to write a review, so I can easily write a review like always. And it's not like the ending would have a huge affect on my opinion of the game, right? So why shouldn't I start writing it if I feel I can?

Because that ending sequence could have a big affect on my opinion, but I won't know for sure if I don't finish it. Therefore, writing a review now wouldn't be a good idea, as I still haven't played through all the content yet.

That's basically how it's been going in my head as I debate what the best option is. And while both sides raise good points, I can't simply decide upon one and feel I've made the right decision. As I would love to write a review for the game (simply because I love writing), but I don't think I should without finishing it first.

So basically it's a lose-lose situation. As neither choice is very desirable.

I don't know... Maybe I should just go with the easier option and forget about reviewing it altogether.

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