EDIT: The site's posting functionality continues to lay the hate, so you can get the raw MP3 file here.
Two former community podcasts merge together and try to get back into the podcasting game! I can't really say much for the quality since it's been a while, but we had fun recording this madness and hope you'll have just as much fun listening to it. To give you an idea of how much of a slapdash affair this whole thing was, I simply put out a call a few days ago and had a last-minute assemblage of friends from both The Naked Cartoon Podcast and TL;DL. It had been months (or, in the case of NCP, more than a year) since our previous gathering, and it was nice to finally sit down and vent about video games in the midst of our increasingly busy schedules; if this becomes a regular thing again, that'd be nice. However, as indicated by the title, I only planned for this to be a one-time crossover of podcasting insanity. Once more, I've come to the realization that editing is still an ordeal. That, and Giant Bomb's blogging tools absolutely kicked my ass tonight by deleting every single thing I've written for no good reason;. Seriously, this site NEEDS a save function. Leave a comment and/or feedback if you feel so inclined. It is always, ALWAYS appreciated. :)
There are some glaring omissions this time around--most notably bonbolapti, the host of TL;DL--but here's your starting lineup:
As a child, it was easy for me to keep my gaming backlog virtually nonexistent. Games were somewhat rare items, since my parents only bought them for my siblings and I when it was either our birthday or when our report cards were in top form. Otherwise, rentals at the local Blockbuster were there to satisfy minor cravings. One such rental was Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, the Gamecube's first foray into Natsume's hit farming franchise as well as my own. My brother, little sister and I liked the game a lot, and we eventually came to the decision that it would be our next purchase once we either scrounged up enough money or had the grades to persuade our parents. On some random trip to GameStop (or maybe it was even a Funcoland at the time) our parents got it for us; despite our excitement and having the save files from our rental in tow, it went unfinished, and will probably stay that way.
While I could easily rattle off a bunch of unfinished games and reasons why I left them in such a state, HW:AWL marks a beginning of sorts, because it was the first game I ever felt bad having not completed. Up to the moment when I gave up, I made a point of completing each game given to me as a gift or reward. If I asked for a particular title or received one for my hard work, I felt it was only right to make sure I reached the end. In retrospect, the restrictions my parents had on my purchases were, admittedly, something I wasn't fond of; but at least the spacing between each new game forced me to thoroughly savor what I had and greatly anticipate what was coming around the corner. Sure, I could always put the brakes on buying games in my adult life, but when there's disposable income and financial freedom, who's to stop me from buying the newest, hottest titles? Anyway, back on topic.
Realistically, HW:AWL isn't hard at all, as is common with the series. However, at a certain point it starts eating its own tail: the routine of tending the farm becomes tedious, villagers literally say one phrase during all four seasons and I wanted to kick my baby for all the times he whined and cried. It's as if every stand-up comedy bit on marriage were made manifest in software. At the start, I was hell-bent on creating the best farm I could, but after proposing, getting married and having a kid, the energy died quicker than a sunflower in winter. The game ceased to provide any meaningful variety.
The sad part is that marriage occurs one year into the game, out of an agonizingly long ten years. Any remaining time before the reaching the end would be fine, if there were anything left to do. As stated before, there's a point when the villagers become absolutely meaningless. After becoming friends and receiving their one gift, there's no reason to ever step off your farm and talk to them again. The residents are either feeling dandy or, in the case of the unmarried bachlorettes, filled with some sort of passive-aggressive guilt tripping over how you didn't marry them. Additionally, the traveling merchant offers very little by way of new inventory.
Instead, the game dumps a newborn baby in your lap and says, "Welcome to the next nine years of your life." Even regarding the child, there's not much to do; he's essentially a special piece of livestock. You don't need to pay too much attention to him and, as far as I remember, you don't even need to feed him. All that's asked of you is a cuddle every now and then to later affect how spoiled or detached he acts during his later years. Hell, I even remember reading a FAQ that said if I wanted to influence his interests, I should carry him to a corresponding neighbor and have him crawl/walk back home on his own.
Speaking of which, the primary objective during this stage is getting him started down one of six career paths. A bit sad really, but what else is a father to do after watering the crops? The choices are: scholar, farmer, rancher, artist, musician and athlete. I opted for the artist path because, well, I don't recall exactly why. A typical day of "caring" for my child involved dumping him off at some hippy's hut while I headed back home and hybridized some seeds. As my child came waddling up the hill back to the house, the only thing he had to look forward to was a sketchpad in his toy box. Yeah, there was a ball and other stuff I could've bought, but he was going to be an artist, goddammit.
I wish I could say more about the game, but that's where I stopped. Eventually, I came to realization that nothing was going to change, and I still had eight more years of in-game time ahead of me. By then I already made enough money to last me through the end of the game, my child was in the habit of visiting neighbors on his own and my wife was still only cooking a Light Pickle dish. I will reiterate my stance that HW:AWL isn't a bad game, just an extremely boring one. After the first year, every single thing runs on autopilot, and any manual task assigned to the player character is repetitive to an extreme.
If I ever were to pick up this game again, there would be a handful of things I'd do differently. Firstly, I'd play the female version, Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life, which fixes all the broken aspects of its predecessor and has more variety (up to the point where you could even resurrect one of the residents that died in the original). Secondly, I'd marry someone with a different personality type. I have a thing for redheads, but the only one in the game is so mentally removed from work that she'd often walk down to the beach, neglecting her kid in the process. Lastly, I wouldn't use the crop hybridization glitch that breaks the economy early on; with nothing else to buy, the game took a nosedive in keeping my interest.
Perhaps I'll take a second look at this during winter break or next year's summer break, since I actually own a copy of Another Wonderful Life. As it stands, chances are that it'll forever hold the dubious honor of being the unfinished game that I've owned for the longest time. Oh, and this bit of music is forever ingrained in my skull:
I hate segmenting this thing into two parts, but I need to relinquish my internet connection soon and I've reached a good stopping point. :)
The Bread Basket (i.e. Not the main course. Get it!?)
After an entire week I could’ve spent playing Eternal Sonata, I came away from these past seven days only playing just above three and a half hours of clocked active playtime. I could chalk it up to a general lack of enthusiasm right now ( Marvel vs. Capcom 3 comes in on Wednesday) but it’s really due to me taking this game one chapter at a time and me being a procrastinating writer overall. Even still, I’ve persisted and, if you asked me two months ago, playing any part of Eternal Sonata would’ve been slightly preferable to having an eye cut out. Believe me, starting up the game was a small miracle.
Anyway, here’s the first bit of my masochist quest for love and understanding!
It begins! Oh my goodness, the main menu is the worst thing ever! I hate this game already! A rotating crystal and floating eighth notes!? What were the devs thinking!? Eternal Sonata? More like Eternal SO-NOT-A-GOOD-GAME. If Care Bears could vomit, they drudge up this sorry excuse for a menu! Options!? Get the fuck outta’ my face with that! Pfft, as if I’d dare start a new game on this piece of crap. …Oh, I hate myself. *presses X button*
Right off the bat, we get terrible foreshadowing via inner monologue. Okay, yes, yes, I said I’d be more optimistic BUT if a character can’t wait until the end to jump off a cliff, then what the hell am I playing for? To be fair, a handful of games start with a later-occurring death. However, I believe there are better ways to raising the interest of the person playing; I haven't gotten attached enough to the characters to care and compounding their emotional dilemmas on top of all that doesn't help.
Immediately cut to Polka as a young girl, because we've apparently found a time machine that seconds as a plot redactor. Now, cute things get to me, and Polka as a kid fits the bill. Her mannerisms remind me of Ushio Okazaki from Clannad After Story with the primary differences being hair and eye color. I hate children (because they hate me, no joke) but I wouldn't mind pinching Polka's cheeks like that crazed aunt-in-law no one likes at Thanksgiving. The game's cheeriness now has me enveloped in its warmth; I'll freely admit that I feel like I'm in a good place right now.
BUT WAIT, here comes a big ball of negativity and sadness! It's crashing down and destroying the illusion of wonder, beauty and fantasy! Here we have little Polka asking her mother about waves, piquing her curiosity as most children do, when her mother begins muttering about vanity, wealth and power and telling her daughter she might have to throw herself in the water to make the world a better place one day. Wait, what?
That's my sticking argument against Eternal Sonata, it does enough to make me smile at a regular clip but, just as often if not more, the plot shows its bad side and slaps the happiness and whimsy away. There's always some sort of caveat to anything positive. Not only is it a real bummer, it's terrible writing and a poor way to usher in character growth. Why not have these bitter pills to swallow:
Polka can use magic! BUT WAIT, it's because she's terminally ill!
This entire place is a wonderful dream of Chopin's! BUT WAIT, it's because he's terminally ill too!
Allegretto and Beat are noble rapscallions stealing bread for others! BUT WAIT, it's for kids who're impoverished due to high taxes!
These flowers that bloom only at night are beautiful. BUT WAIT, people think they're omens for death!
Chopin looks calm when he's resting! BUT WAIT, that could also mean he's dying quicker!
Polka wants to visit the king to lower taxes on the good she sells! BUT WAIT, that's only beneficial to her village! THAT INSENSITIVE BITCH!
I've obviously done a job of highlighting what I didn't like about the game thus far. So, what do I like? Read mah shit tomorrow!
Start the Conversation
Out of all the JRPGs I’ve ever played, none of them have been more hotly contested than Eternal Sonata—and it’s because I make my seething hatred known whenever it’s brought up in conversation. Ever since its original release in 2007, I’ve made numerous attempts at finishing the game despite a comparatively short length and easy-to-handle combat system; this most recent attempt will be my fourth and, hopefully, last.
As someone who can garner appreciation for the likes of Deadly Premonition, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad or even Friday the 13th, this flowery, cutesy, fantastical game should’ve been a walk in the park by comparison. It’s not often I actively dislike something; in fact, I often pride myself on making it through the worst of the worst and, through that, end up liking certain games more than anyone should.
For me, Eternal Sonata fell apart in its disparate story elements and how they don’t come together in a meaningful way. While I understand the plot and setting are a fictitious dreamscape of Chopin's, the developers did a number of things to shift the focus away from such an ambitious and eccentric world. Realistically, Chopin didn’t need to be in the game; tying a real-life composer to the game’s events was a poorly conceived plot catalyst that didn’t add up to anything. As much as I love the Revolution Etude, just give me a made-up composer!
An Unjustified Opinion
That’s how I feel about the game, at least up until the various points where I just gave up. Many will argue that you only need to play as much as you want to have a solid opinion; I believe that in order to condemn or praise a game in its entirety, you at least need to see the ending. Over the years, not finishing the game been my greatest failing, and I’ve hardly articulated my hatred in conversation besides saying, “the story sucks.”
So am I beating this just to say I hate it? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that’s partially why. However, another reason why I’m going through it again is because I want to like it, and I want to find a little nugget to appreciate. I certainly didn’t make three previous attempts just to go on a rampant hate quest. On top of that, many people have voiced opposite opinions to the point where it seems I’m the deluded one. Hopefully this series of blog entries will definitively articulate my thought process while playing the game and lay my opinion to rest.
Actually, it might be you. But we can change that!
If there’s a wrong way to play Eternal Sonata, I feel like I’ve come across it. My first run of the game was with the 360 version and my time was limited because I was checking it out as part of GameStop’s employee benefits. On subsequent playthroughs, I feel my mistakes were as follows:
Playing the PlayStation 3 version
Technically speaking, the PS3 version is a better value with additional characters, costumes and, apparently, a significantly changed ending. However, one of the negatives (in my opinion) is the increase in difficulty; compounded with that is a decrease in EXP gain. Granted, Eternal Sonata wasn’t terribly difficult to begin with, but a harder difficulty brings more chances for frustration. If I recall, the boss fight with… Tuba(?) had me tearing out my hair. Unfortunately, my next foray will be with the PS3 version, but knowing what I know now will dull the pain.
Playing with English voices
My internal logic dictates that, if the setting feels apropos for English voices, use them. Since the plot deals with Chopin, I figured English would be my closest bet given that French—or any other European language—wasn’t an option. However, I was met with some grating voice acting jobs, not the least of which lent itself to the most overblown death I’ve ever witnessed. Oddly enough, I’ll miss the voice actor for Beat, but it’s a small price to pay for Japanese voices instead.
Playing with a cynical mindset
Conan O’Brien, before leaving the Tonight Show, said, “I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere.” I agree with this statement and apply it to games as well. Starting a game with cynicism or pessimism in mind won’t let you appreciate the finer aspects. For example, you shouldn’t put down a first-person shooter just because the right bumper doesn’t throw grenades; it's petty, idiotic thinking that won't lead the industry in diverse, innovative directions. During my third playthrough, such a thing was very detrimental to my experience and I won’t be crashing my head against the rocks. Slow, steady and optimistic is how I’ll be playing.
Updates and Format
It's been a while since I published a blog, and between my last self-centric post and this one hopefully I've improved my craft and will be able to better reflect it here. The update schedule for this series of entries will be infrequent because I want to format it in such a way that's aesthetically pleasing and fresh. What does that mean? For starters, I won't be putting these on Giant Bomb's message board. Too many variables go into messing up the format, and I don't want to deal with those; additionally, this isn't something the GB audience goes for anyway. As for whatever else, hopefully you'll see creative spins on blogging as my adventures go on. Those Naked Cartoon Podcast posts sure were neat and nifty, eh?
In the span of four days, we managed to pull our shit together and get right back on schedule by consistently posting these things inconsistently. But hey, we're putting this up on a Monday and, if it frees up the anguish of editing for the rest of week, I'm all for it. As the name of episode implies, we get ever closer to actually having a thought-provoking discussion about naked cartoons. However, with AjayRaz missing (no doubt due to the insane amount of hentai he's been downloading) it's still a case of "so close, yet so far away"; detailed show notes are in the spoiler tag.
Did you guys hear that? It’s Ace being mauled by the stealthiest bears alive.
Electrica Cadente by Dead Combo (as featured in Alan Wake)
Introductions all around with VinceNotVance, apathylad, Ace829, aurahack and, our first special guest, Bones8677! By the way, check Bones' awesome web comics on either his GB blog (click on the yellow username in the table above) or at www.cma.smackjeeves.com!
Want some Inception discussion? Considering half of the podcasters haven’t seen it, aurahack, apathylad and Bones8677 boil it down the spoiler-free sentence of: “Yo, go see Inception."
03:26-The end of the podcast since I don't want to listen again just for timestamps!
VinceNotVance is getting through World of Goo and downloaded one of Capcom’s PSP collections and goes down the list of games in quick succession. Will he beat Ghosts & Goblins one day? Hopefully.
Persona 3 Portable makes it into the discussion via aurahack. If you’re down on it because of your “memories” of the Persona 4 Endurance Run, you may want to consider his stance that it’s “ultimate Persona game” after all the improvements; I agree with his sentiments. Alan Wake captures his heart and he laments the still-high cost of its collector’s edition.
Apathylad is JRPG heavy with Dragon Quest IX and Demon’s Souls. Concerning Dragon Quest IX, it’s a Dragon Quest game, so if smiles are your shit, pick that up; if you’re shitting slimes, however, see a doctor. Demon’s Souls is hard; get better weapons for great success!
Ace829 begins his quest to obtain a Street Fighter IV Fightstick. This devolves into talks about arcades, regional differences in those arcades, hentai games and a questionable spanking and ass-fingering game. He also talks about his agility orb woes (he’s missing one) in Crackdown—it’s the first Crackdown, so, he’s essentially talking about Crackdown 2 at the same time, hey-o!
Our guest Bones8677 starts with F.E.A.R., Dead Space, Portal and Half-Life 2. Are you sensing a theme? If you said, “shooters”, technically you’d be right, buuuuuuuuuuuuut, all of the games have silent protagonists, which also happens to be the main topic for the week. Do YOU think silent protagonists are great?
The crew talks about which PlayStation 2 platformers they preferred. Ace says Kinect and Move will attract more shovelware to the their respective systems, and sings the praises of Wii on high.
Numbers for Episode V: Vince Strikes Back
Episode V downloads: 49 (~43% decrease*) New subscribers: 2 (95% decrease*) New site visits: 6 (50% increase*)
*Compared to Episode IV: Reloading Arms over a four-day period
Episode downloads: 266 Subscribers: 94 Site visits: 35
Apologies for the late podcast and lack of detailed show notes! Corrupted audio and a stubborn HEX editor results in such delays! We'll be back to our normal schedule as soon as possible. VinceNotVance rejoins the normal NCP Crew after a few weeks of hiatus! This week's discussion revolve around Vince's drunken adventures in England while Wendy's, internet privacy, Crispy M&Ms and 3D movies make it into the mix! Intro music (below) is "After School" from the Persona 3 Portable Original Soundtrack; artist is Shoji Meguro.
It's another episode of the Naked Cartoon Podcast! We're once again stricken by the plague of yet another lost member, this time being AjayRaz. But aurahack stepped up and filled the void nicely. As per usual, the show notes are underneath the spoiler tag; 56K people (do you still exist?) be warned though, this show is long and the show notes reflect that. Links to the podcasters' individual GB profiles are below. Please download, subscribe and support us! Most importantly, leave constructive feedback! Thanks!
Midwestern thunderstorms and modems don’t mix. Can you guys hear me? Hello…?
Kinetic Harvest (Shatter) – Module vs. Sidhe Interactive
After a non-existent Rock, Paper, Scissors match over Skype, Sleepy_Insomniac takes the reins as host and rules with a buttery fist. Ace829 and apathylad survived the curse plaguing the podcast since its creation, and managed to make it back for another week of random audio debauchery. Unfortunately, AjayRaz couldn’t record with us due to incidents that are, as of now, still unfolding; so we’ve commissioned artiste extra-extraordinaire aurahack to brush over our podcast with the dulcet paint of his voice.
E3 reactions begin with the Microsoft Press Conference and the crew finds itself in hesitant acceptance concerning Kinect’s line-up. $149.99 for the Kinect and $59.99 for games? Is the purple box that persuasive? No skateboard scanning technology, no sale.
Now over to aurahack and Ace829 for sports! The two touch upon the 360’s new ESPN streaming functionality. Geek culture is a fair weather fan.
There were some “hardcore” games at Microsoft’s press conference, which served as Ace’s highlight for the Xbox 360 showing. Sleepy_Insomniac thinks Gears of War looks like Gears of War, Fable looks like Fable and Halo Reach space combat looks like Project Slypheed. Stick your genitalia in the disc slot and fart up a storm, it’s a revolution!
Xbox, stay. Xbox, jump. Xbox, play Justin Bieber.*cringe*
This year’s Microsoft press conference ranks among the worst for Ace, but the new Xbox 360 S: Alienware Desktop Edition might have saved the day at the last minute. Oh wait, no one at home got one for free, so it still sucks. Speaking of which, the new systems apparently have a warning message for when it’s about to overheat. Does it give you time to save your game, then turn it off? No? Well, then fuck that too! Did someone intentionally overheat their new 360 S just to say it sucks? Conspiracy theories! Someone get Alex Jones on the phone!
Ace explores the wonders of pedophilia as he comments on the acting of that random Kinectimals child. There's a joke I'd LOVE to put here, but can't because it's so distasteful.
You're next Nintendo! More specifically, Nintendogs (+cats) which spawns a slight <> into Tamagotchis, Nano Pets and Digimon. Still, a bit of casual appeal didn't stop Ace from thinking Nintendo has the best showing, primarily thanks to the 3DS and its known library of games. The crew talks about the price point of Nintendo hardware and gets its analogies mixed up.
Sleepy_Insomniac disputes the 3DS lineup and asks where all the original content is. What will it take for him to get it? Persona 5, perhaps? Sleepy and Aurahack lament over the possibility.
Speaking of lamentation, Wii Party! But, Disney: Epic Mickey combats the lack of originality and shields itself from a failed gay joke by Sleepy_Insomniac. You could paint aurahack unsurprised at Warren Spector's inclusion of RPG elements. Get it!? Huh? HUH!?
We splooge our love all over Kirby's Epic Yarn and Ace goes down a mental list of some of Kirby's new moves. Also, no real disappointment over that other Kirby Wii game being a no-show again; we've got our appreciation in a tight knit around Epic Yarn. I'm on a roll in this section of the show notes, folks. I'll be here all week!
Aurahack confesses he has little to no nostalgia for Nintendo franchises and that he grew up a Sega/PlayStation kid because of a hand-me-down Sega Master System. This preempts Sleepy_Insomniac into saying Kid Icarus on the NES was a piece of shit (which, as the person writing the show notes, I will reinforce that it is). Everyone should play Sin & Punishment while Ace clutches his Game Gear at night.
Metroid: Other M shows up for a bit, and Pikmin 3 not so much. Maybe it'll show up at Spaceworld this year.
Apathylad and Sleepy_Insomniac are on the fence about Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. We want more DS-GBA interconnectivity! Really though, how about more DS games? Bah, developers aren't going to abandon that system anytime soon, especially since games will presumably be cheaper down the line. How much would YOU pay in the future?
The crew moves into a discussion about Sony's motion controller, the PlayStation Move. Is it THAT hard to hold a Dualshock 3 in one hand? Seriously, try it out. I can wait. *waits* You're as silent as the people after the Navigation Controller price was announced, I SCHOOLED you!
Sony Press Conference talks continue as Ace is still apprehensive over a system purchase. What about Portal 2 with console Steamworks support? Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2 pack-ins? Each time someone says "exclusive" take a shot per aurahack's recommendation!
Oh, what are you getting Portal 2 for? Why not PS3 or 360? You know it'll be $10 during the holiday Steam sale anyway.
Ace believes the PSP should killed out of mercy, but then they can't make awesome DJ Max Portable games to satisfy aurahack's ridiculous, though justified, obsession! Then again, aurahack really liked a majority of Sony's showing and further explains why. We get to know him a bit more: Rez is his favorite game of all time, he played 200+ hours of SOCOM 2 back in the day and he doesn't yell into his headset.
A heated discussion over Gran Turismo 5 begins as Ace believes the brand has lost its hold over gamers since the last home console iteration. Watch the latest trailer (below) and tell him he's wrong. Racing wheels and rewinding round out the driving talk.
Random segue into Twisted Metal... GO! Aurahack displays excitement for the title while the others range from middling to disinterested. Nay, there's a demand for this game! So says aurahack and AjayRaz! Sleepy says it looks like a downloadable PSN title and we wonder about the game's T rating and what that entails. Regardless, the game needs those insane cutscenes!
We dabble in a bit of U-BI-SOFT before loving Dance Central and the Sony translator guy. Ace shows his platforming love for Rayman, aurahack grumbles over Beyond Good and Evil 2's absence and everyone gets together to talk about some Assassin's Creed.
Forget all this typical E3 reaction hullabaloo! We go over games that we're excited about that weren't covered extensively by the press! Starting with... Sleepy_Insomniac and Time Crisis: Razing Storm! The video below is so campy, you can almost feel the tents unfurling.
What about Ace? He brings the MMO to the flo' with Final Fantasy XIV! Also, what worse: A boss fully healing itself or an instant death spell?
I think apathylad was caught off-guard (even though he had ample time to think) because he responded with the Michael Jackson game.
Leave it to aurahack to mention a game that nobody knows about. Apparently Sidhe, the folks behind Shatter, released a bit of concept art a ways back and purportedly had some news for the PSN version of Shatter. Anyway, here's the lone piece of concept art and the original image file had the word "Flourish" in it. Maybe that's the name of it?
Oh, and apathylad couldn't dig up anything new about the sequel to American McGee's Alice. We also have very brief mentions of other no-shows like Agent, Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Ken Levine's new project, Borderlands 2 (Borderworlds?) and Capcom's next western developed title.
Damn it all Ace, don't start the Sonic Cycle again! Sega talk, why not? I heard the Dreamcast 2 and Shenmue 3 were coming out.
Let's say goodbye! Leigh Alexander!? No, shut the fuck up about that! Alright, bye--wait, VinceNotVance likes TWILIGHT!? We can't stop now! Actually, we can.
Numbers for Episode II: Vince Nor Vance Edition
Episode hits: 44 Subscribers: 17 Site visits: 10
***EDIT*** Added podcast logo graciously provided by aurahack; once again, great art! :)
I’ve never really talked to vidiot, and only recognized him by his NES cartridge user icon on GB; nevertheless, he was courageous enough to take the reins as the controller in our recent session of Sleep is Death. Courageous, for the interface was absolutely daunting despite the game being only 3 MB of data. All I had to do was sit back, relax and play the game he set before me. Since vidiot was in charge of changing scenarios in turns of 30 seconds, it’d only be natural to cut him some slack. I don’t play that way, so I persisted in trying to break the narrative I thought he was going for. However, he and I quickly found that resisting any semblance of sanity was the best route to go, and we came away with some very humorous results.
The picture gallery below is a scene ripped out of the middle (I am the character with suspenders), if you like what you see, you can find the rest of it here.
Needless to say, the story went in a wild direction; resulting in attempted pixelated rape, teleportation, penis discussion and suicide. It was certainly immature and haphazard, but it's quite unlike anything I've seen from a game this side of the Postal series. What surprised me the most was how most of the content was conceived and imagined by two people who are far away from each in both distance and personality. Sure, the game boils down to nothing but a glorified role-playing chat room, but the constraints--and the ability to possibly break those--are what made the game truly enjoyable. I wasn't able to rape the poor lady lying on the ground, but such is life as a character in Sleep is Death (or at least vidiot's version of it).
Personally, I came away from the game with a smile on my face and, for future posterity, a record of the events that I linked to above. Despite a soured taste toward independently-developed games, Sleep is Death left me with complacency; during my session with vidiot, the interface, aged graphics and lo-fi music never cropped up as an issue. The game gave me the satisfaction of a "create, play and share" title that LittleBigPlanet failed to deliver. Even as someone with very little control over the proceedings, I felt intimately involved with the creation of a story.
I recommend everyone to try it out at least once; it's definitely an experience worth having. Also, pester vidiot or Symphony for their story, it's way more hilarious.
Over the long Labor Day weekend a general theme has been circulating around my head and it's been stuck there ever since listening to GFW Radio's August 27th, 2008 podcast. That theme is girls and their participation in the gaming community. To start off, this isn't an entire post dedicated to immature rants and generalizations about how girls suck at gaming and whatnot. Instead this is a careful analysis as to how I, an 18 year old Asian American from Chicago, perceives girls in the gaming blog community. I've played video games with girls and I can unashamedly say I've lost to them as well. I hope that you, the reader, can take my comments as maturely as I assume you can and please feel free to leave a comment should anything in this post strike a chord with you, good or bad.
Anyway, when my sister picked me up from campus, I whipped out my PSP and scrolled over to my RSS saves for GFW Radio. It had been a fairly long week and I was eagerly awaiting the contents of their most recent episode. A few minutes into the podcast (2:48, in case you want to listen in), 1UP Editor Shawn Elliot stated the following:
"Anything to do with women has been highly suspect on 1UP.com and this is because of, like... you know we have our most popular user blog section and it's always when you look down there, nine times out of ten it's a pretty smiling girl who just happens to be the most popular blog and you look and the blog's like, 'Hey guys!' and that's all it says, but there's three pictures. So, to make a point about that, people have started making fake accounts; they'd find someone's MySpace page where they can find three photos of the same girl then they would make a 1UP account thing and then watch how immediately they could get more friends within ten minutes than they did in their entire two years of posting and participating in the community."
I'm not usually one to take a sweeping generalization to heart, but I was curious and went to 1UP's Popular Blogs Section (see first image). Surely enough, the first blog on the list was of one A. Sullivan, a female user of 1UP.com. I noticed, as far as comments go, that her blog's twenty comments were a huge step up from the others' paltry three or four. A huge coincidence? I think not. But, as I clicked through A. Sullivan's previous blog entries, there was substance to most of them and there was at least some correlation to gaming. There wasn't anything I'd consider hard-hitting or controversial to popular gaming topics, but her posts were a lot better than high school drama and one sentence updates about how awesome the Warhammer beta is. I guess her photo gallery updates about PAX do warrant twelve comments, since they do depict some very lively moments... Wait a second, is that another PAX blog from David Ngo I see? It is!
When I clicked on it, I was greeted to another gallery of photos much like A. Sullivan's. The big difference between the two blogs was that David Ngo's pictures included detailed captions for each of them where A. Sullivan merely posted her pictures. In my honest opinion, I was much more enthralled by David Ngo's experience at PAX than A. Sullivan's; surely Mr. Ngo would have more people cheering his experiences through the comment box, right? Much to my dismay, I scrolled down to see only one comment greeting the extremely active 1UP community member. How is it that the better post, in my opinion, gets less recognition? I hypothesize that it's because A. Sullivan just happens to be a girl and that males are clingy to any doll-faced human with a uterus. Am I right? Maybe.
Bound not to leave my assumptions unchecked, I proceeded to other sites where blogs are recognized by their respective communities. So, off I went to Destructoid.com where the site programmers were gracious enough to put a "most popular" button on the side of the home page. Behind that button, Shawn Elliot's comments came true as the first thing on the list was a post titled "Introduction, Opps." by blogger NadjaRiot. I can't be all too assuming of male behavior, but as soon as I saw a portion of her cleavage loading at the top of the page, the thought that ran through my mind was a unified, "Dear God, so this is why the blog post got 239 comments!". I read the entirety of the post and could pretty much gather that my assumptions were partially right.
After reading the post, I naturally went to the comments to see what the users (mostly male) had to say. One user even called her out as a camwhore to which she surprisingly responded:
"camwhore? hmm okay. I could see lashing out at me if I was not into games and using this just to have men drool all over me however I am not. I have pics of me posted because I am proud to not be a total troll."
Her defense was completely true though; her collection effectively proves her dedication to gaming and previous posts even demonstrate her being upset that a game box's spine logo was printed upside-down. This made for an interesting conundrum. Both A. Sullivan and NadjaRiot were clearly dedicated to their gaming lifestyles, but so are many male gamers. From what I've seen, comments, for the most part, have been completely civil and encouraging of their gaming tastes. There honestly isn't a problem with having hardcore female gamers around. What truly concerns me is that many male gamers share the same views, but they're constantly brushed under the carpet because they don't have breasts or a cute face.
It's probably some psychological thing that's way over my head but whenever I read what someone has to write about a game, I'm reading a gamer's perspective, not one of a sexy model nor one of a prepubescent teenager. I don't really know how to close this rant, but the next time you're on a female gamer's blog, ask yourself why you're there. Are you there because you honestly care about what they have to say? Or are you there just to whack off to their profile picture?
P.S. Sorry to any female readers (if any) if I've offended you. My apologies will accompanied by a virtual cookie.
There was a day when I actively defended Nintendo's stance and while I understand their position is good for the future of the industry, it's hard to take an "I told you so" from Sony and Microsoft fanboys. I mean, I skipped school to reserve the damn thing; I remember hopping over the fence around my high school gleefully grinning over the fact that I'd be guaranteed a Wii on day one.
When I got the system, nothing could explain the intense amount joy I had when I popped in Trauma Center: Second Opinion and the even greater times I had playing Wii Sports with my friends and family. Those moments may be few and far in between, but it's those memories just happen to be much more memorable than killing some strangers in Call of Duty 4 or harvesting a Little Sister in Bioshock. This may sound sappy and a likely story, but it's the heartfelt truth.
I have a huge backlog of games dating back to two years ago, and I'm still picking up Tales of Vesperia and Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice later on this week. People can complain about the lack of game all they want, but personally I'm kind of thankful that Nintendo is, while unintentional, giving me some slight breathing room. Sure, we always want more hardcore games, but the question is do we really need them?
I'm not wholefully regretting my purchase of the console in the slightest sense, but I do regret buying into games such as Mario Kart Wii or Wii Fit. I've yet to pick up certain games like Boom Blox or No More Heroes, but as it stands, I'll be lending the console to my brother when he goes to college and will most likely be missing out on those. I like the direction Nintendo's going in with their inclusive scheme, I just wish it didn't consume the entirety of their being. But, if it'll take two to three years to get the games that I actually want, I'll gladly wait. So yes, I'm allowing Nintendo the chance to "pan" it out.