Nov 7th is almost upon us. Upon me. My Extra Life stream will be on youtube here and my donation page is here.
My quest? To save the kids. All of them.
The journey begins at 10am on Nov 7, 2015. (tomorrow)
Like so many others I will be playing video games for charity all day long. For the last two weeks I have been setting up for the stream and I'm hopeful that I can get everything working. The last thing I want is to be doing a live stream where I'm fixing the live stream the whole time. I'm quite excited about it, though, because I'll be playing games I really liked, but haven't been able to play again for a long time. Will my stream explode? Probably. I will do my best to keep things going for 24 hours, and raise all the money. That... I can (Sorry, you caught me Shatner-ing for a second there).
Anyway, I tend to plan a lot ahead of time for stuff I do. It's can be a pain to some degree because half the time I want to stick to my plan, but for whatever reason the schedule changes (it will probably change). Still, this is the list of games I expect to play as well as when (roughly not exactly) I will play them.
Enough of my jibber jabber. The list ahoy:
I wanted to start off with a few DOS games using DOS box. Due to the nature of all the emulators I'll be using the transitions will be a mess the whole time, I'm sure, but none-the-less I feel I have OBS figured out enough to capture all the games I have setup.
I have owned these games for years (which is the case for a lot of these older games, only 3 I'll be playing from GOG re-releases) so that's why the need for these emulated environments. That and old games don't like screen capturing, being windowed, or anything else that would make them easy to stream. So, playing them in another program as a wrapper is almost essential for most of them. Trust me, there is several games I wanted to have on the list that I couldn't because I could not get them to work properly and be captured.
Oh well, sometimes my knowledge fails me.
Win 95 games
While moving into Win 95 games I wanted to get into some very very old demo discs I have had since the mid 90s up through early 2000s. One is in DoS Box, the others are in Win 95. They only work in Win 95, last I checked, and I have not tested any of these so that will be fun to see if it even works right. It may not.
I debated whether or not I wanted to have surprises for my stream, but I fell on "no" because I'm not "famous" or "popular" so it doesn't really matter. If anyone does watch, I appreciate it, but also I don't think you'll have expectations about what I'm doing, haha. Hopefully it's fun without surprises.
(I should mention I will be emulating my PS2 on my PC. I do own all of these games, multiple PS2 consoles, and my PS2 emulation is 100% legal. If you want to know how that is done it's easy to find in a google search. You'd be surprised how easy it is.)
The rest of the games are mostly new, and won't require emulation, (except three, at the bottom, which are absolutely not new, but I don't know if I want to play them). Only 2 of them I even have installed yet, and others I haven't bought but I am ready too if I want/need back ups. It really just depends on how long I play each game up to this point and how much time I have left.
Tron 2.0 (I like this attempt at Tron as a first person shooter- it has more heart then it gets credit for)
You will notice I don't really have a theme really. The reason I'm playing a lot of games instead of just one game to play through for 24 hours is because I wanted to play games I have personally enjoyed over the year,s and go on a nostalgia trip for a bit (since there's never any time for that- so many games come out these days). I'm hoping the first half of my stream will mostly be games that are probably more obscure now or I haven't seen get a lot of attention anywhere(so would be more interesting to watch out of curiosity). I thought that could be fun. Later on in the night it will probably just be everything I can do to even stay awake so I wanted to play games I haven't played yet and/or have a lot of interest in.
Next to that: I'm not sure how to plan for eating, but I think I'm just gonna eat a couple Hot Pockets and some Ramen noodles or something. It'll be fine. I can put on some ads or some Creative Commons music while I eat.
Nov 7 2015, 10am. Be there or be square. *explosions*
Being the spookiest time of the year everyone is thinking about what movies they'll watch or what games they'll play that best represent the month. With so many new people popping up on Giant Bomb these days, and Giant Bomb now having existed for 7 years (not counting the blog before the site), I thought I'd go back and see what quick looks were best fitting for this time of year and make recommendations on what you should go back and watch.
Bare in mind these are classic quick looks which I arbitrarily decided are quick looks from 2010 or older (5 years older).
I was going to only do a "Top 5 classic quick looks for Oct 2015", but for whatever reason I couldn't narrow it down any further than 15. After much inner turmoil and debate I decided to just extend the list. It also somehow seemed fitting.
Anyway, I'll only be embedding the top 6 videos out of this list (no particular order- just the 6 videos I like the most out of the 15), but below those videos are the links to the other 9 if you want to watch them all.
Obviously this is my list and therefore isn't some end all be all list that will be right for everybody, but these are the quick looks that stand out for me as the best to watch during the spookiest time of the year. It's not always because they're funny, either, sometimes they are just fun to watch for varying reasons. Sometimes funny, sometimes campy, sometimes informative, sometimes there's just that one moment that stands the test of time because of how they reacted to it.
Note: If you'd like you can add your own favorites in the comments below, but in order to respect people who have low bandwidth or data caps I'm going to get ahead of any potential issues and ask that you post it as a link instead of embedding the video. Thanks!
This is something I've been thinking about a lot while playing The Witcher 3. Before I get into the meat of it, though, I should say that I haven't finished the game yet (being that the game is a million hours long and never feels like filler somehow so I am constantly doing something other than the main quest). I don't know my actual play time (because I have it on GOG and run it through steam and neither seem to track that so I'd probably have to open the game to see and I don't feel like doing that right now), but it's somewhere around 50 hours. Also, this contains no spoilers. Please be kind and block any spoilers in the comments below.
I've noticed on my travels in this game that you are constantly met with a tough choice. Really that's been a staple for this series since at least Witcher 2. In actuality I feel pretty confident in saying every single mission (whether the main story line or just something you run into) has some impact on someone. Every time you talk to anyone you're going to have to make an important choice. This isn't a problem with design as it gives you something compelling to think about at all times, but I find myself wondering what any of it means. I mean, really. I've made hundreds of these choices now and only a handful are at all apparent what they mean to a person or the world at large.
Here's the thing; you help so many people in the game (or don't help as the case could often be), and the major choices will come back at some point, but where it gets muddled for me is all the little people you help. I can't remember half the people I've made a choice to either help or not so the only way the game can tell me is by having them allude to when I made that choice and how this is the moment they're coming back to it. Very often, but not always, I don't remember the circumstance.
It comes off a little odd if only because there are so many of the little side stuff that I have done (and made choices on) that I don't even remember what choice I made or why for that one guy I helped 40 hours ago. Half the time no choice is an easy choice so you have to go with your gut so the reasons aren't readily apparent what their telling me I did wrong or they were happy I did what I did.
Having had similar situations before (in real life) I can understand the quandary is maybe more the human dilemma, the jaded nature of doing something so much, and the feeling of so much resting on your shoulders that maybe doesn't need to. Or even something as simple as not remembering that one guys name you knew years ago- he remembers you vividly but while you remember him his name alludes you. This is a real issue you could potentially face so it is interesting to face that dilemma in a game. At what point, though, does it become meaningless and therefore another form of tedium?
I'm not saying The Witcher 3 is poorly written or even designed. In fact it's incredible the way they have manufactured this world to feel so real in so many ways- even down to minute details. A problem I can see arising is such; at what point are there so many meaningful choices that they are no longer meaningful?
I find every time I make a choice I ask myself what the consequences would be. Like a chess game I try to make a choice for what I feel is the best outcome (even if not a "good" outcome), but when I have to make a similar choice again and again at times I can find myself just making one of the choices meaninglessly because I just had a moral quandary 5 minutes ago and I'm emotionally just too exhausted to deal with another one at this very second.
The game does sort of deal with this by making it so you could just blow off just about any choice you have to make (which is a choice in itself) but being human even that has an emotional cost, doesn't it? You risk angering someone you may not actually want to anger, or basically choosing to let their tribulations overwhelm them.
It is quite fascinating that CDProjekt Red has been able to craft such a fascinating dilemma within the context of a video game. To make it so every choice is a burden you must carry.The fact that we even become exhausted by the idea of having to to make a better choice at every turn is quite laudable. As I play, though, while some choices become apparent readily, and others don't, I often find myself wondering if maybe I've chosen to do too much. Maybe some of the people I made choices with had consequences I am missing because I don't remember anything of that even because I've had to do similar things so many times before and after that event.
It's something that I find really fascinating, but also at a game play level leaves me wondering if maybe there's a point when there's too much. It's not that games should always be fun, but at what point does the innovative way of making a player care about every choice they make become so tedious itself (because of the human dilemma, not because of bad design) that it itself becomes a chore to play? Or even at what point is it too much when you no longer remember what happened before and why you made the choice you did?
I just found these to be interesting to think about as I travel through The Witcher 3. It's an incredibly vast and open world. There's so much going on that you even find yourself speculating about it's roots, and the history of Poland itself. Where all these ideas come from and what spurns them on. It's quite interesting and wonderful to see something like this. Even my silly little introspection on player choice and if there can be too much seems to be a beautiful thing to come out of a video game.
Has anyone else ever thought about this stuff while playing? I'd love to read your thoughts!
So, here's the thing. I completely skipped the WII last gen. I wouldn't say I hate Nintendo or anything. I mean... I got the WII for one of my birthdays because it was something I wanted on my Amazon wishlist. I never used it other than that night when we played the WII sports game that came with it, though, and I played a few old Nintendo games on it as well.
I know what you're probably thinking. You could be thinking "That's crazy. There's so many good games on the WII what's wrong with you? Plus you can play Gamecube games which I psychically know you didn't play either. Shame on you Will Robinson, shame on you." Wow, how perceptive of you imaginary reader I just made up. You're also very handsome; have I told you that you're handsome? Is it ok if I tell you I think you're handsome?
You could also be thinking: "Good riddance. The Wii sucks." Well, you're awfully abrasive dear reader that I just imagined. You're a very blunt person. I respect your opinion. Do you bathe in acid? I'm mainly curious because I hear it's good for your pores.
I actually like Nintendo, but have for the better part of a decade and a half mostly just partaken in Nintendo stuff from the outside- watching other peoples reactions to it, or reading about it. I've had little to no interest mainly because of their controller hardware which could still arguably be called "gimmicky." There's also just too many games coming out, in general, these days.
The thing is, though, the Wii does have a normal controller. You could also use a Gamecube controller, but I haven't decided to plummet down that rabbit hole, too. I'm sorry if I don't get paid to do this insanity, but I don't so I have to find lines to draw for now.
I made several resolutions this year, and one was really stupid and crazy (especially considering a lot of good games that should be coming out this year). I'm not gonna buy any new games this year. At least... no, no I won't.
You may be asking yourself "Why? Why would you do this?"
I don't know. I haven't felt stimulated by very many newer games (not all, just most) and I felt my life is in the horrible place now where this felt like a good idea.
I should go back a bit, though. I actually already play old games on more than an odd occasion, and I still get that draw from them as if they were still new. It probably helps that I still have an old CRT TV (when it comes to things like my Genesis), but I'd say the best generation of games ended with the PS2 original XBOX era for me. While there is still new games that come out that I have interest in- I usually end up not wanting to finish most of them. Length is a big problem, but more than that most games (not all) coming out anymore feel like they are just adding a ton of padding to make the game longer with less actual substance. It's really draining and even games with good concepts and ideas are starting to just drag on when they absolutely shouldn't.
When I was younger we- I can't say we were poor because my Dad did make a decent wage, but I grew up in California which has always had a really high quality of life line and to top it off my Dad never understood how to spend money smartly so because of that even though we weren't impoverished I couldn't generally keep up with games like I'd have liked to. I had an original atari 2600 for years, that my dad got before I was born (I think), and I played that well into the Nintendo years. By the time I got a hand me down Nintendo people were starting to move on. I ended up getting the Genesis that I still own when I turned 16 (1998). For those that don't know this is 10 years after the Genesis actually came out (I have the series 2 model which is the one most people probably think of- there are three different models that Sega released if anyone is interested to know that). At some point in there I somehow also had gotten a Game gear. God, I wish I still had that brick of a handheld- mainly for nostalgia as I don't remember it being a good console.
Anyway, I played PC games for the most part because it was one of the few platforms I actually kept up with throughout my life. I mean, I played most PC games when they were new whereas with consoles I had not.
Anyway I loved, and still love, video games, and since I don't feel like I'm having fun with most of the main games right now- which I really should stop buying so many of- I started buyingoldergames that I lost over the years. This in turn means I've been using my old ass Genesis even more than ever.
The problem with this is I don't want to wear out my Genesis. It is around 20 or so years old, and who knows how long it will continue to work. I just like the idea of it working even if I don't use it. Even though one day it will probably just stop working because it just can't pass electricity through it's circuits no more (still surprised it hasn't happened yet, to be honest).
So, since I've been getting some Genesis games that I had before but lost so I could play them again I ended up going down the rabbit hole of purchasing a Retron 5 (which should arrive on Friday- and sorry but that completely legit console emulation system for some reason doesn't seem to be on Giant Bomb). I did my research and found out why it had issues on the initial release. It is my understanding that the loading issues it had were an issue with the pins getting pulled out because of it being a little to tight on the cartridges or something. Anyway, they supposedly fixed this with their most recent release of the hardware (which apparently also caused the price of it to jump to $160) so I took the plunge- fuck it, why not? I mainly just want to be able to play these games without putting a ton of stress on my Genesis, plus pulling out my old CRT and my Genesis and hooking everything up every time I want to play a game is just a pain in the ass at this point because I just don't have a place to leave it all hooked up since it requires a separate TV (because, while I can use a Genesis on a modern TV it looks like shit for many many reasons).
Anyway, because I bought a Retron 5 I should now be able to play SNES games. I never had a SNES, but I played it all the time at friend's houses. I had always wanted one, but I really liked the Genesis too (probably more) so at the time I was fine with that and it was the one I asked for.
You would think at first that me only buying old games right now would mean I would be saving money, but it turns out I am actually probably going to spend more.
The crazy thing is apparently SNES fandom is much morehardcore than Genesis. I can purchase Genesis games for very reasonable prices and I've been happy with the prices I've found for the carts that are being described. It's been perfect I'd say for someone who'd want Genesis games (as I would).
There is a couple SNES games I really wanted because they're great games, and I'd like to have them in my completely pointless collection that I like having. It's insane, though, how expensive most SNES games are now. So, I only bought a couple (one which I may have paid a lot for and I'll just say because this is going really long that it's a Zelda game, but in relation to what it's generally going for I got it for a great price). I decided I wouldn't get anymore SNES carts because they're just insanely expensive. This is what made me think of my WII (of which I already have a few old Nintendogamesdownloaded on).
Anyway, I then went insane and decided to buy the WII "classic controller" and then because I was getting that I decided to buy the WII games that I haveneverplayed, but I actually want to.
I don't know how this insanity will turn up, and I don't think it's a good idea, but I consider it a spiritual journey of sorts. I need to find my video game center, and I guess a cleansing wash of something completely different may do the trick. Or it won't and I'll just have a great time. Who knows?
Thanks for reading.
This blog is dedicated to my father, Paul E Respass, who died April 21 2014. He didn't understand video games, despite having grown up around and loving pinball, but he always tried to be supportive of my writing and always told me to do what was best for me. He will never be forgotten.
Video Games the Movie is a documentary that was released this year about the history of Video Games. It tries to encompass the medium, the industry, to sum up the history, as well as the culture that surrounds video games, in about an hour and 45 minutes or so. I feel it fails in doing that.
I originally wrote this piece to place on netflix as a review, but being that I am an amazing writer it does not fit into their character limits.
I cannot shorten it, and I spent too much time to have written this and not post it somewhere so I figured I'd just post it as a blog. Please excuse any errors as while I always edit myself I have not put a lot of time into this other than the hour I have been writing my thoughts down and I just really needed to discuss this documentary and why it gets so much wrong.
If you have any questions about the documentary after reading it, don't be shy. Go ahead and ask. While in the review I say otherwise, the documentary is on Netflix so if you haven't seen it go ahead and watch it on Netflix. It's ok, but to me it's not as good as it could be. It's still kind of fun if you just want to watch others geek out on video games as a medium. That's something that can be fun, and the only thing the documentary gets right.
Below is the Netflix Review of it I wrote:
"I did really enjoy this as a sweet indulgence, but that comes with an addendum. While I enjoy this as a love letter to video games, and the people that have become successful because of video games, anyone engrossed in video game culture will notice a ton of flaws almost right away.
The most egregious flaw is the complete lack of PC gaming other than minor references (pictures mostly) to it's impact. For instance, League of Legends is on here as a short nod to how much PC gaming (LoL specifically) has impacted sports and branched out into it's own medium, but it almost blatantly ignores the impact of PC gaming from the mid 80s through the 90s which (as other critics before me in these reviews have stated) bridged the gap when consoles crashed and burned in the mid 80s.
They do reference the fact that the niche following is what kept gaming alive, but then go on to ignore the entire PC gaming culture which flourished and was well ahead of anything consoles were doing throughout the early to late 90s and how PC development slowly became partially neglected and abused because there "wasn't enough money in the medium anymore to focus on it" and how this caused a major shift in the industry and stifled the PC gaming market which could already outperform even the PS1 before PS2 even existed- or even earlier the NES, SNES, Genesis and others.
PC is not the only thing ignored here (which, with "PC" I am encompassing several systems including commodore, apple II, Dos/Win3.1 and many other systems which were all major contributors to the gaming market as a whole and where video games are now). Genesis, or to be blunt Sega as a brand, is almost glossed over like a redheaded step child being relegated to a mere mention which is then quickly cut off as if to say they don't want to talk about the competitor to Nintendo.
Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to say these systems are better. NES is very much a system which brought the main stream back into the gaming market, and is very much a touchstone in the history of games. Sega is as much a part of that as NES was, and it's really shitty (especially when you look at what Sega is now) that it was so ignored. Sega was a big deal in the late 80s and throughout the entirety of the 90s. That's more than a decade being a real competitor until they made bad decisions and the market didn't follow because by the Dreamcast it was too late for them.
I understand that the video game industry is vast, and has been for a long long time. ~2 hours is not enough time to even digest the creation of video gaming, or the main big companies that still exist today, and a lot stuff had to be left out or this had to be much much longer (interestingly they also glossed over Cliffy B's major impacts a bit. This is interesting because he was an Executive Producer on this documentary so good on him for not wanting to push that even though it very much could be argued that he is a huge contributor and influencer on what multiplayer gaming is as it exists today), but I think this would have worked better as a mini series with several episodes rather than one film.
That being said, this isn't a terrible documentary by any means. It does talk about where video games actually come from- which a lot of people I have talked to over the years don't know- and it does speak with several developers and masters of the craft which we all love now and had no idea were anything when we were kids enjoying the Atari 2600 or Nintendo.
There are also modern day movie/TV/Web stars and industry veterans you might know discussing games which is always fun to watch and listen to.
It's a shame, with how much this gets right, that it gets so much wrong and has to ignore very important pieces of gaming history and culture.
I do have suspicions that this may be because of a large percentage of producers on this film are video game industry veterans (J Allard is on there) and it's hard to say how much impact they had on it.
Again, though, I think this particular subject is too large to cover in one film. It's like trying to cover the entire history of the US in one film. While that is an even larger undertaking, I feel the impact is the same. Too many important things are left out.
There are other problems with this film (why does it jump around in time so much?), but you get the idea.
I am a video gamer which a huge passion for this industry, and I don't want to cast dispersions. The film has it's good sides, and is an interesting watch. It just misses the mark on being 100% recommendable.
3 stars. I don't love it, but I like it. It could be better, but it's ok."
Sorry. No pictures on this blog. I guess you'll just have to use your imagination.
(I want to apologize for any formatting issues ahead of time. Giant Bombs editor is not always very cooperative due to how it auto resizes for the screen. I did my best to compensate for this, but it may still have issues on some monitor sizes.)
I received my Kingdom Hearts II.5 CE box today and I know there's other fans of the KH games around Giant Bomb so I thought it would be cool to share pictures of unboxing it- biggest reason mainly being that as far as I know (at least right now) this was a limited time thing. So, you know, in case anyone wanted to see it or whatever because they otherwise couldn't or something. I kind of doubt Giant Bomb will quick look the game which is only slightly a shame (I understand, though). It'd be neat if they did, but I know it's not a game the staff really cares about.
Anyway, to the pictures:
Pretty standard looking box. Unfortunately it was smashed a little in shipping, but whatever. I'm gonna open it anyway so it doesn't matter that much. There is not much else to say about this really. The box does it job, but it's probably the cheapest part of the production which is interesting to me. I've bought a few CE games over the years and usually the box is either terrible or really sturdy. This one is middle of the road. It's fine.
So, as you can see there is a plush of a heartless, a pin, a book of the art (for KH HD 2.5 Remix), and the game case. I have to say, the plush seems well made to me. It's not as cheap as I would have expected. I mean, I'm not going to use it or anything, but stuff is so cheaply made these days (especially with CEs of games) that it's refreshing that this seems like it was made by the people who make the plush toys Disney officially sells of their own characters. It's a legit plush, I guess, is what I'm saying. I have to admit, though, I can only base this on when I had stuffed animals like... 30 years ago. I don't tend to buy stuffed animals, but it seems like it's hard to find good ones these days.
The pin is surprisingly well made to me. Some kind of hard metal. It actually seems very sturdy, which again I didn't expect. I kind of thought it would be soft metal or a very lite mold of metal and a cheaper, less sturdy, material layered. But no, this seems like a decently refined pin. It has a nice weight when you hold it. As a collector of pins (well, I did when I was a young man, and still have those 20-30 year old pins somewhere) this is a pretty decent modern one in my opinion. I am very surprised by how well the items within this CE feel to me. Better made than usual.
I know. It's a picture of a book, but we should be fair and look at everything. I don't like to take pictures of the inside of books (it's both difficult and I don't like to bend pages for various reasons), but the pictures are nice. In fact that's all that's in the book. Other than titles to declare what the pages will cover (WORLDS!) and names of characters there is no writing in the book at all. The book itself seems to be made with an ok bind (that looks to be laced and glued) and- I don't know- it doesn't look super well made. It's ok because of the laced binding it should last longer, but it's not as impressive as the plush and the pin for me. The last book I can remember getting in a CE was with Alan Wake and that seemed better to me from what I recall. The book is also fairly short- having only a few concept drawings and renders in it. It's so far the least impressive thing to come with this although it's still not bad.
This is the case for the games. If I remember correctly this comes with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD (obviously) as well as a couple of the off shoot KH games. I forget which ones at the moment. The case itself has really nice art on it (I almost took a picture of both sides, but I'm not sure anyone else would care about it as much as me), and the tin the case is made of is just as good if not a little better than those blu ray collectors tins you can sometimes find at Walmart. I think it feels a little better. It's pretty sturdy and feels nice. I like the build of it; it doesn't seem cheap.
Inside the game case is the games and the modern day equivalent of manuals (which are really only warnings and title art).
Overall, I am actually pretty happy with getting this. It has mostly everything I would have wanted from a CE of a re-released game I look back on fondly (and have played 1 and 2 many times).
I remember when this CE was brought up as a Gamespot article a lot of people were nay saying it, but honestly I think they did this one right. Even including the first HD remix with it was a good step overall, but not only that the make of most of the contents of the package is actually pretty decent all things considered. I feel pretty good about how SE put this together and shows at least some amount of care that I wouldn't normally expect from an HD re-release.
Overall I'd have to say they done good with this one at least as far as outside presentation. After I finish the MGS collection I will go back to this series and see how well the actual games were uprezed and what not. As long as they aren't a total mess, and play like they did on PS2, that's really all I can ask for.
As a bonus I included pictures of my original KH and KH2 for PS2 below. Since this is a nostalgia piece in a way I felt it would be a fun fit to look back at those. I also just really like them. I think they're probably the best made game cases/covers on PS2- they have a really cool sheen to them.
Thanks for reading. If anyone else has thoughts on this, or got it and wants to share thoughts about it let me know- leave a comment.
(Just as an editors note: Youtube is not loading my videos thumbnails- I don't know why that is so the videos may not have a thumbnail before you click play. Sorry, I don't know why it's doing that.)
I was originally going to write about Run Like Hell. For those that don't know Run Like Hell is a (critically speaking) mediocre Sci Fi/Horror/Third Person shooter from 2002 that I, personally, really enjoyed at the time. It has an amazing cast (Including Lance Henriksen, Clancy Brown, Kevin Michael Richardson, Brad Dourif, Thomas F. Wilson and many many more famous screen and voice actors), what I thought was an interesting story with a real sense of loss for characters you make connections to (which was still rare in 2002), an interesting weapon upgrade system, and... BAWLS?
Yes, BAWLS (a soft drink) was a major advertiser within that game. There are soft drink machines with the branding prominently displayed all throughout the game. It's so prominent that some critics (such as Jeff Gerstmann, for example) could not see past it and often when they remember that game that's all they really remember. The game uses these soft drink machines to refill something or other that I forget. There are also Pip boy machines next to the BAWLS machine which are (you guessed it) a reference to Fallout (the Fallout mascot is all over these candy bars).
Yes, that's right, that game was Published by Interplay, and developed by Digital Mayhem (who had previously created MDK 2). I am on a tangent, though, sorry.
Anyway, I decided against putting any spotlight on it (as small as me spotlighting something is) as I have issues with the game now, that I had not really taken into consideration at the time. I won't go too much into it (as that isn't what my intention of this blog is), but suffice to say that it doesn't bode well- character design-wise- from the beginning. The game wasn't worth talking about anymore, despite the fantastic performances by the cast (and it really is a great story); I could not get over this one thing.
I'm sorry, reader. I didn't mean to lose you in that kerfuffle. We'll move on.
Anyway, I was stuck. I didn't have a game to write about, and I haven't done one of these in 3 years. I have the time for writing right now, and what I want more than anything is to spend my time writing just about anything, so I had to think of something. I didn't have anything, though, so I gave up this years Halloween blog as another one lost. Time was running out and I wouldn't get anything up before October was over.
While perusing the site (like I always do), I came upon a thread asking about Games for Windows live and if certain games work (because it's shut down now) and I began writing a lengthy theorem (as I often do) explaining why it probably wasn't something to worry about. I pulled out all my games that use GFWL, and began installing them in order to prove that it wasn't something to worry about.
Well, the first game I pulled was the remake of Alone in the Dark (which I'll probably get to in a later blog).
For anyone in suspense, by the way, I did discover that GFWL being down now will cause problems for some games and you may have to find ways to get around this.
I had an epiphany, however, and I erased everything I was writing for that thread- leaving it to be as it may. I do this often, but this time was different. I had an idea for what I would write.
I went to my old games folders, as I still have all the Alone in the Dark games, but then I thought about it and decided to get them from Gog- just in case. I wanted to be sure they'd work and Gog would make sure of that before selling them. It wasn't a very expensive investment anyway.
I must confess, I don't have a huge amount of nostalgia for the original Alone in the Dark games. They were severely loved at the time for creating the genre we now know as "Survival Horror."
Oh yeah, did I mention Alone in the dark was the first survival horror game franchise, having had two sequels before Resident Evil even existed? It's true. It's much like how World of Warcraft made MMOs popular, Resident Evil did the same for survival horror.
Having no nostalgia for these games, though (I didn't actually ever play very far in the first game, despite owning it), I felt like this would be an interesting thing to play through to see what holds up and try to figure out what the appeal was in these games at the time. I also thought it would be an interesting topic given that The Evil Within would be releasing [today, actually].
So, what is Alone in the Dark? Beyond being a survival horror (before the term was actually used) as I played it I discovered it was more of an adventure game than anything else. It definitely has horror elements; although I don't think those hold up to well.
Just coming at this 22 years later I wanted to understand this game and what it's impact was. I wouldn't be able to ask anyone, though, so I wanted to just discover it on my own and use my own nostalgia to fill in the blanks.
So, I watched a postmortem the creator of the game gave (not too long ago, actually, it was in 2012 and you can see it here- I recommend checking it out), and a lot of the design decisions were based either on horror films he loved, or to be easier to utilize yet ominous for the player, or because they outright had to. It was '92 so a lot that they did in the game was still very new and hadn't really been touched on yet in a visual game.
So, I understand the game and where it was coming from. It was a time when things were new and new things were being tried. Playing it today, though, the game does not hold up so much as horror, but I would posit that it still holds a fascination if only because it's the first of it's kind. I suspect the designer saw in it what you would see in it going into it today. Frederick Raynal says in the post mortem that at first, when they had finished it and released it, he hated the game because he could see it's faults. More importantly, though, he believed other people would see them too. Of course, at the time, this game was something completely new. From the polygonal design (which it wasn't the first to do, but it was in the first years of being done), the sound was of a higher quality than you were used to at the time (as he explains that sound blaster had just come out), the background elements were impressive for the time, and to top it off everything in the game was trying to kill you. So, at the time, this game was like what using an Occulous Rift is like now- to help put that into perspective a little bit.
The game opens with a character select screen. Interestingly you do something similar in one of the original Resident Evil games (or maybe it was both 1 and 2- I forget now). Honestly, the comparison between the two games is stark, and I would not be surprised if I was told how much of an influence this game was on Resident Evil despite Resident Evil being the most remembered game.
Something I found amusing is the opening dialogue read by a voice "actor". I am placing a video of it below. Watch and enjoy that- it really is something special. I actually wonder if the actor is drunk. I understand limitations (see House of the Dead's voice acting), but this is gold at it's best none the less. I did try to find out who the actor was to give him his dues, but sadly I cannot find any record of it anywhere. Even the manual makes no mention of it and I suspect the voices may have been added later. Again, though, I cannot find record of this either. I suspect it because Raynal makes mention to the fact that he did not want voiced dialogue (mainly because of limitations, but also for atmosphere), but I am only speculating.
To continue on, the first thing you discover when playing now is the controls are a little strange. I read the manual first to get used to it, and it actually reminds me of Time Commando in a lot of ways. The stranger part, though, is you need to go into your inventory to switch between action modes (for example if you want to "push" you have to go into your inventory and change it to "push", or "open/search" or whichever context you want the character to see your space-bar input to be). I do understand the context here, though, as again this engine and the things they were doing with it were still fairly new concepts.
So after restarting the game (because you will probably mess up the beginning the first time as you become familiar with how the game works) I was able to hit the ground running.
Shortly after that I discovered the next thing to know was that everything, including the house itself, wants you dead. This was in an era when things like Flashback or Out of this World were uniquely defined adventures- especially so because of their death sequences. The french really seemed to like to mess with their players. It's actually a fascinating dichotomy in the difference in game design at the time. Alone in the Dark is no different to these, and will try to kill you whenever it can. You most certainly will spring a trap in no time, or get jumped by demon... things. Or be eaten by a zombie. In actuality you take a lot of unavoidable damage, and your only reprieve is if you survive long enough the game does give you decent amounts of health replenishment in measured points in the game.
The camera work in Resident Evil was (and still is) lauded as being what helps to create the amazing atmospheres in those original games. Similar can be said of Silent Hill which came a little later. This game is no different, but being the first to try this the camera is often a nuisance or outright puzzling. While there are some impressive shots, others are not so much useful as irritating. Some times you just have to believe if you press on forward the game won't be out to kill you at that moment. To be fair, the game never did take advantage of this problem- which was not that often anyway. Raynal does give some interesting perspective on why these shots were used in the postmortem.
Raynal said he designed the game to be playable without much combat. There is only a few cases where you even have to fight at all (I think, maybe, 5 in the whole game- maybe less) and that is why ammo in the game is so scarce. Truth be told you don't really ever need ammo as there are other ways to fight and there is maybe one instance where a ranged weapon is even useful. The problem with the guns, though, is there is no way to tell where you're shooting or what it's going to hit. I made a video to show this perplexing problem.
You'll notice at first I am continuously shooting, but not hitting anything. There is no indication on the first angle that the flying creature is higher up than me so I did not think to move forward yet for a few tries at this. When it did occur to me to try from a different angle I then figured out what the problem was. It's a bit of a pain that the shotgun/rifle has a kickback to it, but I can't fault designers for being ambitious on a ground breaking game.
I really enjoyed (read as sarcasm: I did not enjoy it) that they put platforming puzzles. No, really they are quite painful to dissect, but thanks to my years of experience I know how to manage a few pit falls. They are made less aggravating, though, by the smooth save system.
Even crazier is when the game requires that you run (because something is chasing you that you can't kill). This is mostly fine, as the game is actually pretty forgiving, but it is annoying when it sneaks another problem up on you before you realize the last problem is no longer a threat.
This is another in a long line of games where you want to see the different death animations. Something that still kind of exists today (Deadspace being a recent example I can think of). I put a few together in this video below.
Also, there are a lot of books in the game- they help to create atmosphere and more importantly they were intended to be clues as to how to progress certain areas. The same as with the character selection they are fully voiced and fun to listen to in that way old games have interesting choices for actors. Beware, though, as some books can and will kill you as you see in that montage above.
I must confess I didn't read all of the books as I used a walkthrough to make the game play smoother, but I am going to try and remedy that if needed on the next game and at least read every book after a save. The ones I did see in this game were pretty good.
Finally, the ending. It's a byproduct of a fan of 70s horror films so now-a-days it looks cliche, but for a game at the time it would have actually been clever. I think it's kind of funny- it makes me think of stuff like Tales From the Crypt.
So, anyway, Alone in the Dark is an amazing game in it's own right. It's a shame it became what it did later on, but for a very long time it actually held it's own as well as legitimately creating a genre- even though the first game (at least) didn't even intend to do that. Resident Evil was clearly inspired by this game, and it has it's own impressive history. I can't say I appreciated Alone in the Dark at the time, but I can appreciate it's mark on gaming and the legacy it has spawned. Developers and players these days may not all know it, but we owe a lot to this game. Without it Silent Hill wouldn't exist as we love it now, so we can be thankful it dared to try something different.
If anyone has memories or reminiscence of playing this game back in the day I would love to hear stories about it and people's thoughts about what it was like to enjoy this game when it was new. Feel free to share your stories.
Stay tuned- next week I'll cover Alone in the Dark 2 and 3. Thanks for reading! As always I'll have my photo dump below.
I want to start with a warning. I may say some things about films that Robin Williams was in that you may consider spoilers if you haven't seen them. I recommend checking them out if you have any interest in doing that- he was in a ton of great movies and most are worth your time. Robin Williams Filmography on IMDB
Robin Williams death has impacted me a lot. I felt similarly impacted by my Father, Ryan Davis, James Gandolfini and also Ray Bradbury passing away (in recent memory I mean). For Robin Williams, as with most people who I only know of because they're famous, it's not so much because I knew him as a person, but because he was so much a part of my entire childhood (and early adult life) that I can't help but feel something for the passing of such a great person.
A lot of people tend to forget that Robin Williams didn't just play for comedy, and was passed over for an oscar he really deserved multiple times. He always seemed to take it in stride in interviews, and while his passion was always for comedy he was so much more than just a goofball comedian.
The oldest stand up routine I can recall seeing him doing he was so different than any other comedian I had seen at the time (and it was recorded before my time). In it, he constantly begs the audience not to leave. He often seemed to believe he wasn't even funny- when a joke he would say "didn't hit" he would utter "Oh no, I'm losing you" and he would start walking into the audience and coming up with jokes on the spot just to get a laugh. I have to imagine he was like that in life- often just coming up with jokes just so someone would laugh.
There was a controversy early in his career that he was stealing other peoples jokes. It did turn out to be true, and for a little while I was put off by that concept (he even ended up paying people for the jokes). I have come to believe that it wasn't really stealing so much as Robin Williams would not stick to a comedic script like most people and would often just say whatever came to his head. He was much the type of actor that liked to play around with a character or idea and just riff on it. Adlibing was both his talent and his curse.
This spread through his acting career, as well. The Terry Gilliam films he was able to take part in, I have heard he begged for any part in (I'm referring mainly to Baron Muchhausen). I don't know if that's true, but I suspect he was a big fan (who isn't really?) and would be happy just to have been in one of his movies. For me the Terry Gilliam films were the first time I had ever seen Robin Williams- or at the least the first time I noticed him.
Sure, he was in Mork and Mindy, but that was before my time so I only saw that on Nick at Night as a kid and really I didn't notice him as someone I want to see more of but rather he's a funny guy on this goofy show. I suppose that's partially because I was a kid, though.
In The Adventures of Baron Muchausen (one of my favorites) Robin played the god of the moon. A man whose body was in constant war with his own (literal) head. Just saying that sounds as weird as it is. I really can't imagine any other actor pulling off such an odd character, and even though it's over the top it's still one of my favorites.
Then there was The Fisher King. I remember this was the first time I saw Robin Williams as a more serious actor. He had done other more serious roles before this (Moscow on the Hudson comes to mind), but Robin Williams wasn't a thing in my mind at that time being that I was so youn gor not even born when he first started acting. Today The Fisher King stands out to me more so than his other films because it's one of a few films about PTSD that I have seen and can find something I actually can relate to. Robin's role as a homeless man haunted by his past is both charming and chilling all at the same time. He goes from being insane enough to get naked in a park, to real enough to be haunted by a dark knight who he believes is coming for him so he cannot bring himself to love someone again. This, of course, is explained more thoroughly throughout the film as something more real and tangible, but it's still one of the most touching characters he has ever portrayed for me and now that I am a military veteran with my own PTSD I feel it's one I appreciate even more.
Robin Williams did a lot in his career. He wasn't always in good movies. Some people have even expressed wonder how he ever made it; considering his first ever film appearance was in Popeye. It's considered one of the worst movies ever made (check it out on Netflix).
Everyone has their bad roles, though, and he would much later be cast as the genie in Aladdin- one of his more memorable roles at the time. Interestingly, Aladdin is my favorite Disney film, and in no small part is that because of Robin Williams. Even in that film he adlibed a lot and they used what they could of it (or so I have heard). It's truly unfortunate that he had a falling out with Disney as I think he would have been amazing in other voice over roles.
I would argue this is probably what freed him up to start doing a lot more serious stuff. Around the mid, maybe late 90s (i'm not referencing this stuff, I'm just kind of recollecting here) he started doing stranger things. More serious things, for certain, but I found it odd that he went from being a likable actor to choosing darker roles.
I think it was in the early 2000s he started with Death to Smoochy. In it he plays one of his most despicable roles. Danny Devito is certainly no stranger to dark comedy- it's his bread and butter- but the casting choice of Robin as a has been kids show host who hates the new famous guy so much he wants him dead is a real twist on the characters he generally played up until that time.
That same year he went on to start playing serial killers. Insomnia was the first time he played such a tortured soul. It's a deep film, that's hard to watch because Christopher Nolan's style with it captures the feeling of being awake but needing to sleep so well it's almost like a dream. Robin isn't in a lot of the film that I recall, but it was the second time he chose to play a role the audience was intended to dislike.
Again that year he played another serial killer role, but much darker than the last one. One hour photo is one of the most haunting films about a serial killer I have ever seen, and the character he portrays in it is probably the most disturbing Robin Williams had ever gone. Unfortunately, I could only find a trailer, but the climax of the movie is really intense. This trailer is decent for setting the films tone.
Shortly after that Robin wasn't in much else. He still acted, but he was starting to swerve off my radar. RV was one of the comedies he did around this time, and it was Robin doing his thing but not much else about it made any sense. Robin had done stupid comedies before, but maybe it's just the times, or maybe people don't know how to write anymore, but I'm not into what that kind of comedy is selling (I do still own the film and have watched it one time).
The final movie I can recall seeing Robin Williams in I randomly caught on Netflix. It was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (of all people) and was genuinely a surprise to watch. Worlds Greatest Dad is one of those dark comedies that sticks with you. The acting is phenomenal, but it's also very well written. You'd be forgiven for not even recalling you saw Bobcat's name in the credits. It's a surprisingly well done film that I didn't know Bobcat had in him.
I guess the years are coming up on us, and it's only a matter of time that our favorite actors from child hood start passing away. It's just an unfortunate thing it had to start what feels like so soon.
The circumstances of his death are only rumors at this point, so I don't want to speculate on his personal life. I really just wanted to look back and remember Robin Williams' impact on me throughout my life. For a good 30 years (that's most of my life) he was doing something that I had some kind of interest in. Either impactful or funny (there's so many I haven't even mentioned), he almost always managed to be one of those actors I would see a movie for (even if not until the DVD came out) just because he was in it.
As I close, I wonder about the stories I heard about Robin in the early 2000s. There were stories that he would randomly go to open mic bars in LA (I think it was) and do stand up just out of the blue. I have always wondered if that's true. I like to believe it is, because he was so full of energy and liked to make people laugh that even when he's a multi nominated academy award winner from countless films he still just wanted to know that he made people happy.
So, as always, I just finished playing a game and now I want to talk about it.
Today I played Disney Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (God, that's kind of a mouthful). I should note now I bought it on steam for $14.99. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to wait for a sale to purchase it.
What a delight this game is. Visually, it's very appealing and every inch of it tickles my nostalgia senses.
Disney is no stranger to nostalgia, and often we think more of what we remember of Disney than what they are now (really are they even relevant anymore? I mean, Pixar is fantastic but its not really Disney). In that sense Disney is what it is still because of what we remember Disney being for us at one time or another in our lives. I'm sure at some point there will be others who think back on Disney as something else entirely different from what I think about Disney(although I do wonder if the next generation will even care about Disney).
Anyway, despite my meandering I actually wanted to talk about Mickey in all of this. I realized today I haven't seen Mickey Mouse in any real relevant use in a very long time. There may be a show or something he's in now (I don't know, I stopped watching cartoons around the time the average cartoon became garbage), but Mickey hasnt really been culturally relevant in a long time.
I think the thing I loved most with Mickey were the old black and white cartoons. They were always my favorite things with Mickey. I actually always think back to the haunted house cartoon. It's a masterpiece and if you haven't seen it then you probably should (how weirdly relevant, being that all these horror games are coming out around this week and next month is October).
I grew up in the 80's, and while the black and whites were no longer "new" they still played them on the (at the time) new Disney channel (late 80s, early 90s something like that). My favorite time of the year for these cartoons, at the time, was halloween. Disney holiday specials around that time were some of the best ever created even today, but my favorites were always the halloween ones. Maybe because making something scary and also ok for kids is a real difficult task and so it comes incredible when its done perfectly. You have to make it scary but also funny. Disney always seemed to be able to pull that kind of thing off, at least for me, and I enjoyed it immensely.
I'm rambling, though. Castle of Illusion 2013 (I shortened the name, sue me) is an amalgamation of several 3d and 2d games. It is a lot what it aims to be- a reboot or remake of a classic game a lot of people loved- and it is a little bit something else. It delivers the original game in a lot of ways and even finds ways to surprise you a few times.
I really enjoyed the different layouts of the worlds and the simple, but fun, puzzles sprinkled in here and there through out the game. Traversing it also is fine (although I have heard somewhere that the controls on XBLA are awful) and for the most part I did not feel hampered. I think my only gripe was my own want to keep moving forward, really. I found myself frustrating myself more than anything. With patience and observation all the platforming, boss fighting, and (short) puzzle solving is really fairly simple.
Speaking of bosses; this game has a few. I read somewhere (maybe it was Polygon) that the boss fights in this game were the weakest part of the game. I disagree with that. They were fairly well done and while it's a simple act of discovering their patterns I think they do what games used to do which was force you to figure them out and challenge your ability to progress.
The boss fights, one and all, can be frustrating, certainly. Really, though, the majority of the frustration will come as you are trying to discover the patterns before you die. You should just give up on that first life in a first encounter with a boss, though. You will probably die the first time on most of them. Well, maybe. I mean if you have quick reflexes and adapt quickly then you can handle them fairly easily. Once you get the hang of the bosses they become simple at which point it can be a test of endurance.
The music and sound design in this game is probably my favorite part. I am so happy for that too. The game I always think of when it comes to Mickey Mouse is The World of Illusion (which was the Genesis sequel to Castle of Illusion). That game was so good I played and completed it so many times as a child I dont even remember. To top it off YOU COULD PLAY AS DONALD DUCK COOPERATIVELY WITH MICKEY! That was the greatest thing ever! It added so much more charm to the game on top of all the charm that game already had. I really actually hope this game does well so they remake or HD-ify World of Illusion because that game was SO GOOD!
Ok. Last thing I want to touch on is the how the developers tried to do something different. The game is not JUST a 2D platformer. I mean it is a platformer all the way through, but they add in moments where it suddenly shifts to a 3d plane so you can move anywhere, or makes you run up and down, or rotates the world. There's a lot of clever stuff like that that keep every world fresh and interesting all the way through the game. It never once got boring.
The game is most certainly short, which may throw some people off. I think it's the same length as the original though (clocking in for average Josh me at 2 and half hours to complete the whole game). I enjoyed every minute of it, though, and would still most certainly recommend it. The best part is, it's even great for kids. How often can you even say that about a video game anymore?
I am going to leave a photo dump at the bottom. Enjoy!
I just finished playing Gone Home yesterday and I feel compelled to write about it. It's incredibly impressive when I come across games that try something different. That try to say that playing a game can mean something that you're not used to.
Developers certainly have a long way to go, but when something like Dear Esther comes along and its hard to define what it is, I feel anyway, that you know the medium is growing.
In the same vein we have Gone Home. Going in really you know nothing about what's going on, and that is truly the beauty of it. Do not spoil yourself on this one. Honestly, if you like a good story and the act of discovering the pieces as you go, go ahead and check this game out now. Don't read about it any further, and certainly don't watch someone else play it (well you can, but I feel that may diminish the impact a bit). When you're done all the blogs and articles about the game will still be there- as will the videos.
I know this probably seems pompous, or incredibly hyperbolic, but I feel this game is really important- at least as a way to tell a story in a game. I have never played a game that left me feeling any connection to its story on such a relatable level- much like a good film. I have liked a lot of games stories for certain reasons, some have even made me cry, but how often can I truly relate on some level to what the story is saying?
Sure, it's been incredible seeing what people can do with the apocalypse and zombies, and there have been amazing choices to make in games around that, but while you can ask yourself "what would I do in this situation" can you truly ever understand it? Can you ever really know what it feels like to shoot a child? While some may say yes this is a very small amount of people. It doesn't diminish the impact by any means but its thankfully a question we would not normally have to answer and most people never will have to think about it beyond whatever amount of gaming they do. I just bring this up because I found the story of Gone Home one that many can relate to- even me in a lot of ways.
Really, all you're doing is trying to find out why there is no one home when you get home from a year long trip and your rummaging through the house to find clues or answers to the questions that keep piling up. At it's core, though, it's a love story. A fairly simple one, too, but very effective.
It's fascinating to me the things I learned about myself when playing this. For one, there is never really any danger yet at the beginning you have this sense of foreboding. I don't know why. Maybe it's the sound of the rain, or the old creaky house, but I felt more and more as the game progressed that something bad happened and I am marching towards a terrible scene. So much so nearing the end I had become deeply worried that things would take a terrible turn and I was hoping so much that it wasn't what my mind was thinking it was.
It also brought me back to high school quite a bit. I was surprised by that.
Maybe it's because it's set in the 90's around when I was in high school, or maybe the attention to detail on the thought process of people, but while Sam's character certainly goes through something I have not I can relate to how out of place in the world she feels. I did as well in high school and often still do sometimes. We learn as we get older that is fairly normal, but in high school we believe it's just us. Really, everything feels so oppressive when you're in high school and I can remember this sense that if I just got to do what I wanted everything would be better. Of course, that is much more difficult than we understand at that age.
It's a really touching story that I would recommend. Much like Dear Esther it's not your standard game play but I have less problem calling this one a game as you do interact with the world beyond moving forward and you discover things about the story by interaction so there is a sense of engagement at the player level.
I found it really fascinating what they did with the story here and anyone looking for something different should definitely check it out.
See how many lights you leave on (or don't if you're like me and have to turn them off when you're out of a room). It's actually quite insane how many lights this house has.