If you've been wondering why I've been lax with this whole blog over the past few weeks and months, it can be explained with the words "writer's block." I've been struggling to write about the many topics that have been swirling in my head for a while now and unlike my early days of blogging here at Giant Bomb, I'm attempting to create some sort of standard of quality to a point. Combine that with a busy summer, a pinch of real life, and a lack of time spent playing video games, there's been little for me to actually blog about. Hopefully with the summer season ending and the busy gaming season beginning, there's hope that I can start providing the community with something... anything.
And maybe the end of 2011 will make up for a pretty lackluster lineup of games I believe we had throughout 2011 as a whole. Maybe the past few years have spoiled me, but this year has been a disappointment. The games that interest me have been few and far between and all the games I'm looking forward to in the near future (Skyward Sword, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2) are still weeks, months, and maybe years away respectively. I guess I had so much fun with last year's games that I'm suffering from gaming fatigue or indifference to new things... I'm not sure. Maybe it's because the Wii decided to take a long sabbatical or the bad economy finally catching up to us, but 2011 kinda sucks at this time and is ruining the blog I built with my bare hands.
Or maybe I'm just fucking lazy.
Oh, and I guess it's becoming common knowledge, but Mento gets my vote for rookie of the year in the Giant Bombosphere. Go read his stuff if you haven't already.
Well that's a small load off my chest. Now Sweep won't ban me... tonight.
It's officially Labor Day here in America, a day where we do the opposite of labor. It's a lovely, little piece of irony we celebrate every year. It's also the last day white clothes is acceptable and the last day most of us will grill our burgers and durgers this year. But I think we should cancel Labor Day this year since nobody is actually working in America right now. That's right! 100% unemployment here in the U.S. Can't believe that day finally came when we all collectively said, "Fuck it!"
So I'll celebrate in my own unique way. I might spend the day buying Bastion or Limbo and playing Bastion or Limbo... or cleaning up the backlog. Or awaiting the Dead Island reviews to see if that's worth getting. I know zombie games are so 2008, 2009, and 2010, but they're so 2011! Or I should just play some Left 4 Dead which I haven't touched in ages. Or maybe I should ask myself why 2011 has been such a disappointing year in video games? Decisions, decisions.
I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this, but the big, red phone will be exploited for dangerously hilarious purposes. I assume that was clearly in mind when they approved of this stupidly bad/stupidly awesome idea. If you're not aware of this phone, it's a subscriber-only thing... and I reluctantly renewed my subscription even though I was on the fence about it for months. Maybe I'll start watching more of the Happy Hour shenanigans and buy a shirt or something for the good of the universe. But this phone... oh I have plans for that phone.
Dark, sinister plans.
They may regret this whole phone idea, but if they're gonna go full steam ahead with this, maybe they should add voicemail so we can leave dirty messages for Vinny because Vinny appreciates dirty phone messages.
Video games, when it comes down to it, is all about numbers. We strive to achieve the highest scores and reach the highest levels almost all the time in video games. We often look for a number or grade to make us feel better about our progress and skill, but numbers made an impact on games in so many ways... or maybe vice versa, I'm not really sure. But anyway, here are some numbers that shaped the way we play games. Commence numbering!
The number 1 is synonymous with the beginning of the game. It's the level of your character when you first boot up a new game in your favorite JRPG. It's the number of the first act in Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, Mario takes it farther with World 1-1. The first level is probably the most important of any game since first impressions can determine whether you'll enjoy the rest of the game. The number 1 is sometimes associated as a sign of weakness in some games. A level 1 character doesn't sound the least bit menacing and are pushovers, but you typically don't stay at level 1 for very long. The number 1 can also be a positive thing. It feels pretty awesome being the first at something, like a leaderboard or a race or a high score screen with 3-letter initials of people you never met.
As time goes by, the number 8 becomes less and less important, but the number 8 is crucial to video games in two major ways. First of all, it's the number of bits in the classic video game consoles, the NES and the Sega Master System. The 8-bit aesthetic is still celebrated even though our current technology is getting very close to photorealism. It reminds older games like myself of a time when platformers ruled the planet and all you needed was a D-pad and a couple buttons, and even that couldn't prepare you for the crushing difficulty of some of the games of that era. But it's not just about bits, it's also about levels, worlds, and stages. Level/World/Stage 8 is typically the end of the line, the final showdown, the coup de grace. It's where the game ends either in a blaze of glory against the hardest foe you've ever faced in your life... or in death. While the elusive 9th world pops up when they need to pad out a game with extra-tough levels, it's all about the 8th stage where you fight Bowser, King Dedede, etc. There are games with 6 levels or worlds and others with more, but for some reason games with 8 levels feel just right, not too padded with filler or not too short to the point where you feel like you got shortchanged. Today, that rule doesn't really apply, but we still see games that keep it traditional. Just look at what Nintendo released the past few years.
It's more of an RPG thing, but the number 99 is usually the opposite of 1. It's typically the maximum level you can reach in a game where leveling your character is part of the game. Getting to level 99 is normally not necessary in most RPGs, but it's a goal some people try to achieve for their own silly, selfish reasons. Getting to level 99 means a lot of grinding so getting to that lofty number is not for the faint of heart, but once you get to level 99, you feel like you can destroy anything in your path. I've done it myself a few times playing Earthbound (because I'm a crazy person) and since I'm trudging through Chrono Trigger at this time, I'm crazy enough to do the same in that game. But why not 100? I guess it comes down to not wanting to add an extra digit because it makes no real sense overall... or sloth on the part of the developer.
One of the side effects of the 8-bit era is that games were limited in its computing power. After all, it's all about 0s and 1s at its core. And that brought us the 255 phenomenon (that should be a concept), a common restriction found in RPGs and games where you collected things in large numbers. Basically, this happens when the 8-bit value reaches its maximum, or 11111111, or 255. This was a common occurrence in games back in the old days, but this phenomenon carried over to a number of 16-bit games and even several current games, mostly RPGs where the use of numbers is most important. It doesn't really affect us as it used to... imagine if Link could keep all those rupees he had to throw away or if there were more than 255 levels in Pac-Man. He'd do some more gambling in the old man cave.
And finally, this one has deep meaning for the Xbox 360 achievement whores out there. 1000 is the maximum number of achievement points allowed in the every vanilla retail game for the 360. And while DLC can goof up the numbers a bit, 1000 is the ultimate goal for the those who wear their achievement score on their shoulder. For some, it's a pointless system that forces arbitrary rules on the player, but for some it's a symbol of perfection. However you describe it, the number 1000 is important to many gamers.
Here's the part of the blog where I question you, the audience. Did I miss anything? How can I forget the dreaded sequel numbers 2, 3, and 4? 16-bit anyone? 32? 64? Have you ever wondered why these numbers made sense? Do you care?
It is now August 1st here on the East Coast in beautiful America, and that means I'm now 30 years and one day old. Hooray for milestones and all that. So I must take this time to officially retire from video games because Kathie Lee Gifford, some other bitch, and that gray-haired fuck said so.
The "My *insert adjective* Farm series... the epitome of lazy game descriptions. We all know about My Farm and My Exotic Farm, ... and apparently there's My Asian Farm that was unbeknownst to me, but now we have My Australian Farm!
My Australian Farm is a breeding simulation game! At the beginning, all you own is an empty field, a little money and a single emu... You need to feed the emu, take care of it and improve its lifestyle. Well-fed with seed, it will lay eggs which can then be sold to the Shopkeeper. With this money, you can buy new animals at the Farmers' Market. Little by little as your farm builds up, you will unlock certain bonuses: a grain store, a wind turbine, a sacred stone, etc. And you will be able to exchange your animals with your friends who play My Farm,My Exotic Farm, My Asian Farm or My Australian Farm!
So that got me thinking. What if I made my own farm? You can do it, too. It's very simple and Mad-Libbish. All you need is an imagination and time. Feel free to use the above quote as a template.
So... feel free to go at it. We may have ourselves a future hit on our hands.
We've been talking about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward back when it was a single concept picture showing a fairy who was believed to be the Master Sword. Two years later, we're finally getting some more information about this somewhat mysterious game, but it's a Zelda game so we should know what to expect, right? Nintendo released a trailer for Comic-Con just a few days ago if you were wondering so let me get that all embedded for you.
There we go.
Now, the interview with Eiji Aonuma. Here's the link to the interview for your amusement, but here's a simple recap for you.
So Zelda and Link actually are childhood friends living in the clouds together, but Zelda is taken away as usual so Link must save her. Nothing really out of the ordinary except for the whole childhood friends deal.
The ocarina is a harp, so to speak. Expect some Wii MotionPlus shenanigans when using the harp.
Lord Ghirahim is your Ganon for this adventure. Ghirahim looks like he's a stark contrast to the brutish nature of Ganondorf and appears to be a mysterious fellow. A bit feminine, maybe?
Skyward Sword is before Ocarina of Time in the still very confusing timeline and since it centers on the Master Sword and not the Triforce, Ganon will not be in the game. This is welcome news to me since I'm getting a bit tired of the typical Link-Ganon feud.
Link can ride large birds. He lives in the sky so why the fuck not? And think of the bird you ride as the Wind Waker boat, but hopefully less tedious.
Make of the similarities of every other Zelda game in existence, this game looks like it may have its own identity once the game goes gold sometime at the end of the year. I continue to warm up to this world of pastel colors as I'm always complaining about the color palette of today's modern games, even if those criticisms are becoming less valid everyday. Nevertheless, I love the look and the orchestrated soundtrack we've been clamoring for ages. If Skyward Sword is the last big Wii game, I think the Wii will ride off into the sunset on a good note.
I guess the 3rd anniversary of the unveiling of Giant Bomb proper is a good time to revive the dormant zombie that has become my blog this past month or so. So the best way to bring this blog back to life is to go through what has been rattling in my mind for the past month.
Team Fortress 3... will we see this in our lifetime?
About a few weeks ago, Valve officially stopped selling games and entered the virtual hat industry... at least that's what I got out of the whole free-to-play deal lucky PC gamers took advantage of. It's certainly brought in a lot of new players who would have never even considered buying it even at insanely low sale prices and after almost 4 years, Team Fortress 2 was not going to sell much at all... the sales would eventually level off and that's true for just just about every game, even the almighty World of Warcraft. So now that Valve turned its attention to polygonal hats to pay the bills, where does that leave trusty TF2? Besides more updates of course.
The uber-success of TF2 and its constant update policy means TF3 (if it ever comes to fruition) will not arrive for a very, very long time. I am not advocating Valve start developing TF3 because at this point, there's no need for a new game... unless you count that Chinese TF2 clone with the sexy sniper. The way they designed TF2 almost makes it impossible to kill the game outright for a sequel. The stylized look of its characters, the constant evolution of gameplay, the maps, the mods, the near-perfect class system, the game truly has the total package. It would take a complete meltdown of the community or a very serious competitor from another developer on a competing PC platform for Valve to even consider making TF3. And right now, the number of players who can theoretically download the game right now and play hovers around... oh, everyone with a PC made after 2007. I realize the people looking for another Team Fortress game numbers in the dozens at most, but it's okay to dream of a new game with several new classes, updated graphics, and new apparel and hardware to buy or randomly stumble upon. So would you like to see TF3 happen sooner than later or do you believe Team Fortress 2 is on the path to updates until the sun burns out turning Earth into a ball of ice? Personally, I'm hoping for an unending ice age... it's 85 degrees outside and it's almost midnight!
Nintendo of America, Y U NO RELEASE GAMES?
I've been demoted to using dumb memes. Sorry, folks.
Operation Rainfall, you guys hear of it? You know, the group of disgruntled Nintendo fans trying to get the attention of Nintendo of America so they can release Japanese games that likely won't sell that well in states. It's a very noble effort that some in the Giant Bomb community take very seriously. I'm normally with the majority of the crowd in that I believe petitions and campaigns of this sort rarely go anywhere, but Operation Rainfall has gotten the attention of Nintendo of America, but we saw their response via the Twitters and the Facebooks. But Operation Rainfall continues its efforts and the mail-in campaign is still in full swing even though the site does have a story about an unconfirmed American localization for two games already completed or in progress. I've got nothing else to add other than to say that more Wii games are always welcome, especially now. If you can support this cause do it. It's not incredibly difficult to do... even a simple tweet will help.
At least Zelda: Skyward Sword will keep the Wii from gathering dust.
Aquaria is a game I messed with for an hour or so.
Steam sales have normally been a weakness of mine, but lately the sales have not been as amazing as in the past when I had fewer games. With my game collection via Steam in the triple digits now, it's getting tougher to find games I want at low, low prices. Luckily, Aquaria was available at a low, low price so I now own Aquaria, a 2D adventure starring Aquagirl. Lucky me, I guess? Well, people have been talking about Aquaria as if it were a game from 2011. Hell, there was even a Quick Look of the damn game as if it came out on XBLA during its arcade summer blast thing extravaganza. Long story short, I swam around, killed some fish, found some trinkets, and nearly facepalmed from laughter when Vinny made the Sea-Loaf Green quip. Aquaria should be a game I should love because of its pure Metroidvania style, but here I am stuck in some weird video game opinion limbo where I can't decide whether I like it or not. The only way to solve this issue is to just play the damn game until my thumbs bleed.
Oh I promised more, didn't I? Hmm... Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat? It took this fucking long? And if you were wondering how this is possible, New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., distributes the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The more you know.
Thanks for playing and happy birthday, Giant Bomb.
Rule 34 is once again in effect, gentlemen. The entire world got a glimpse of the Wii U and Japan is still part of the world, although they're in a strange part of the world where naked cartoon pussy is as popular as the real thing. Japan is also ahead of the curve in naked cartoon pussy in video games. Japan is ready to take advantage of Nintendo's new console with its unique brand of creepy and I guess these are some supposed ideas. It's not like these games will ever come stateside or the other continents where the English language is widely spoken, but at least Japan will continue to baffle and confuse us with their hentai hijinks.
Hentai likely coming to the Wii U is probably the biggest non-story of the week. I mean, these are the same people who make love pillows. And giant robots.