The Near-Impenetrable Genre That Is Point & Click Adventure Games

The other night I finally watched Alfred Hitchock's classic North by Northwest. I say finally, because for about a year it sat in my DVD collection, unopened, collecting dust. This is just one of the many films, albums and games I own that--despite knowing I''ll enjoy them when I finally get around to it--find it hard to be motivated to do so.

Well, a few days ago I dusted off a game I've been putting off for some time now: The Longest Journey.

I'm not particularly fond of storytelling in video games, and there's much better gameplay to be had in just about every other genre, but there's a certain charm to point & click adventure games such as The Longest Journey that has always intrigued me. Problem is, there's so damn many of them that I don't even know where to begin. As such, it's a genre that I've mostly appreciated from a distance, playing the occasional one before retreating to other games, despite knowing there's a library of games out there I'd likely enjoy.

Other than The Longest Journey, I've only completed Amanita Design's games (Samorost 1 & 2, Machinarium, Botanicula), and gotten about half way though Broken Sword, Beyond a Steel Sky and Sam & Max Hit the Road before losing interest. Now, with only a few chapters remaining in The Longest Journey I'm wondering what to play next. I'll mostly likely play The Walking Dead before the GOTY Bombcast, but after that I'd like to cross another adventure game off the list.

So, any suggestions?

  • I think I have a copy of Grim Fandango lying around (sound issues made it unplayable on my previous computer).
  • I also have an unopened copy of Full Throttle.
  • And an unopened copy of Ghost Trick, if that counts.
  • Deponia looks awesome and could provide a welcome change of pace after The Walking Dead.
  • Wadjet Eye's games (Gemini Rue, Resonance and Primordia) have received a lot of praise but I'm need some convincing to play those.
  • I really enjoyed the demo I played of Escape from Monkey Island on PS2 years ago and would eventually like to play through that series.
  • I played the shit out King's Quest V growing up but never made it past the desert.
  • Day of the Tentacle seems to be considered one of the best adventure games ever.
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Journey

Not since Dark Souls has a game resonated with me like Journey. Since completing it the other night, I have been constantly browsing these message boards among others for peoples insight on the game. I've read reviews, I've watched videos, I've listened to podcast--I'm eagerly anticipating this weeks Bombcast to hear the crews articulate their experience--which is what Journey is: an experience.

Essentially a story about life, Journey makes a compelling argument for the games as art debate. In the relatively short time it took me to complete my journey, I felt emotions few games let alone films or music have been able to evoke from me. That snowboardingesque sequence, that brought out the same childish giddiness I felt years ago rolling down grassy hills. Watching my journey be retold in those pictures was touching, like looking over old photographs. Ascending to the top of the mountain, pure bliss.

It's a phenomenal achievement by thatgamecompany. They've somehow crammed the highs and lows we will all inevitably face in our own journey through life, provided we live to old age, into a game that can easily be completed in one sitting. Whether you experience these highs and lows alone or with someone by your side is up to you. Or perhaps out of your control, if the stranger on the other end isn't willing to co-operate. But hey, that's life. Some of our lives will be like my journey: born alone, died alone. I made some friends along the way, and formed a partnership with someone for a good chunk of the journey, but ultimately, I walked into that light alone. My friend on the other hand, he had the same companion with him for most of his journey.

If there's any criticism to be made of the game, it's that someday this game will have be played alone. Perhaps it's not until then that we will truly appreciate it, looking back on it much like the clothed figure looking over the ruins of a civilization long gone.

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Off my chest

Been awhile since I wrote a blog, and I got a lotta shit to get off my chest:
 

2011

What a fucking amazing year for games. I say this every year, thinking the next won't top it, but this year is shaping up to be the best year for games ever. And I haven't even played Child of Eden yet.
 

America

I went to America for 8 weeks. Road trip from San Fran to New York with a friend of mine. But that's another blog.
 

Assassin's Creed

I finally got this game. I haven't played it yet, and I probably won't for some time, but it's there waiting for me til the next game drought. I've been putting it off for years, partly because I only owned a PS3 at the time of release and didn't want an inferior version, and partly because of how repetitive it's supposed to be.
 
Also, I finally got
 

Dead Rising

This game, along with Alan Wake, is what I bought an Xbox for. I'd been searching for ages for a brand new, black label copy of it. I finally got lucky the other day and found one for $16. Thing is, it's NTSC and my console is PAL. So like Assassin's Creed, Dead Rising will have to wait for some time.
 

Disgaea

The upcoming release of Digaea 4 reminded me of something I've been wondering for years: just how the fuck do you pronounce it? Dis-gay-a?
 

Footy

[This will go over most non-Australians heads]
 
As I get older, I find myself liking footy more and more. Perhaps it's because the Bombers are doing ok this year, perhaps it's because I graduated high school and grew out of the jocks vs. skaters mentality. All I know is I'm really fucking hyped for the finals.
 

Mana Bar

This finally opened up when I was overseas, and it's awesome. Any fellow Melbournians been? Since I got back I've been there 3 times already.
That's me on the left
It's a bit cramped, it closes too early and the line is fucked, but video games + cocktails is always great night out.
 

Music

  
  
I've been flogging this song lately--on the way to work, on the way home, as my alarm clock--I can't get enough of it.
 
Also, I just heard this on the radio: 
  
I immediately bought the album on vinyl afterwards, which I'm slowly building a nice collection of. I own over 200 CDs and I decided a while ago to start buying vinyl instead. It's pointless buying a CD, ripping it straight to iTunes then letting it collect dust on my shelf. At least with vinyl I get nice big album covers to appreciate. And besides, most records these days come with an MP3 coupon anyway. 
 
Another vinyl I recently got is Earthless' Sonic Prayer. I saw them live back in January and they melted my face.
  
I'm also waiting on Gotye's new record, Making Mirrors to arrive in the mail. Hand-numbered and limited to 1000 copies!Get it while it's hot, this dude's gonna blow up soon. Here's the single of that album:
  
  
That's a pretty eclectic taste if I say so myself. As soon as I get my tax return I'm gonna buy a 1200 and some HD 25s to listen to all my new LPs, if you know what I'm talking about.
 

TV

I recently watched It's Always Sunny seasons 1 & 2 again, and I'm currently half way through Parks & Recreation. After that is Firefly, which like Assassin's Creed and Dead Rising, is something I've been meaning to watch for years. It's time I get in on the collective hard on so many people share for Nathan Fillion.
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PSN - What's the big deal?

With the recent news that millions of PSN users personal information has been compromised, I've seen a lot of people up in arms over this. And understandably so, having your credit card details out there is one thing; not knowing about it until nearly a week after it happened - that's another.

But what's the worst that could happen?

Some guy buys a yacht with your credit card. Big deal. They trace it back to him and it's case solved, right? Perhaps he shares the info with some of his friends, or even the internett, any purchase fraud is covered by Visa, Mastercard etc, no?

Am I taking this too lightly, or are people blowing this way out of proportion?

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This game taught me a lesson

Actually, I first learnt my lesson with Metal Gear Solid 4. On my first playthrough I got 0 continues, 0 alerts and 0 kills. Awesome, right? Wrong. It became a game of trial & error, constantly having to restart just because I fucked up. And I fucked up a lot. It was like watching a movie with a bag of chips, and having to rewind back to the begging of the scene every time I chewed too loud and missed a line. Or something like that. Needless to say it became a chore to play and while it's still one of my favourite games this generation, looking back on it I should've just run n' gunned through my first playthrough.

So if MGS4 taught me first, I guess Dead Space 2 was the proverbial spanking I received at the hands of Sister Common Sence.


YOU SHALL NOT START GAMES ON HARD DIFFICULTY!

Having just finished the original Dead Space only the night before, for the third time I might add, I thought it was a good idea to start Dead Space 2 on Survivalist. For those unfamiliar, that's code for hard. After that comes Zealot aka very hard, then Harcore aka you gotta be fuckin' kidding me. I can only imagine what those higher difficulties entail, since as the name suggests, Survivalist was a struggle to survive. Well, at least for the first few chapters. I scraped through most encounters barely breathing with only the boot on my feet left for ammo, and I died a few times heare and there, but for the most part it was manageable and at one point I thought to myself "this is the perfect difficulty".

Then shit got real.

About halfway through, the game became much more difficult. Too difficult. At some points, I was dying 10, 20, 30 times before progressing. I was often surviving on the loot scavenged from the last Necromorph, and at many times my life depended on whether they drop ammo or fucking credits. "But EVO, you can buy ammo and health with credis!". Back to MGS4, like that game, getting 0 continues and whatnot, I kinda set myself limitations on the way I play Dead Space. In both games, I never buy ammo or med kits. All credits go towards guns and Power Nodes. Why? In my One Gun playthrough of Dead Space I figured this was the best way to urdrade everything, albeit at the expensive of the necessities.

Some people might argue that this is the way it should be played, like the survival horrors of yore. But when developers Visceral put so much thought into pacing, so much effort into creating atmosphere, the easiest way to break the immersion is facing a game over screen every 5 minutes. Sure, I could've just changed difficulties, but by the end of the game I'd grown stubborn and determined to beat the game, instead of just experiencing it as I think Visceral intended.

So, if you're starting Dead Space 2, start on normal.
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EVO's App Club: Sleep Talk Recorder

So I got an iPhone 4 the other day.
 
This is my third iPhone--I lost the first two--and I've really been enjoying the apps this time around. For the first few days I was hooked on Game Dev Story, playing for 1-2 hours at a time, which kinda left me burned out on the game. But it's games like this that make a strong case for the iPhone as a legit gaming platform, worthy of mention alongside the DS and PSP.
  
Moving on, I've decided to do a weekly app spotlight. And since most apps are cheap, I think it would be cool if people downloaded said app and we talked about it for a week. People could vote on what app they want featured next week and we could even compare scores and shit. So without further ado:
 

Sleep Talk Recorder

 
This guys a bit of a douche, but he covers pretty much everything. 
Price: $1 
Official website
 
I've been told that I snore, and I regularly have some pretty wild dreams, which I thought would make for some interesting sleep banter. But if my last sleep is anything to go by, I sleep like a log. Aside from some mysterious, unidentifiable sound followed by me sniffing, it didn't record anything. Not even a single fart, which I'm also known to do in my sleep. And so it seems many others do, as the website suggests (personal favourite: car alarm fart).
 
So, anyone else got this app? Recorded anything funny yet?
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A look back on Uncharted 2

There are a handful of moments in games that I'll never forget playing for the first time. Waking up on N. Sanity Beach. Playing the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater demo over and over. Riding the tram into Black Mesa. Aeris' death. 
 
And then there is Uncharted 2. 
 
I'll never forget watching in awe as I clambered my way up that carriage, bloodied and bruised, stumbling through the snow amidst the carnage of the train wreck. From that moment I sat glued to the TV for 8 hours, and for many hours more I've played others online probably just as stoked on this game as myself. Needless to say, Uncharted 2 is one of my favourite games ever. Now, It's that time of year again when games are crowned game of the year, so it seems only natural to look back on the undisputed game of 2009. First things first:      
 

Dat ass


In last years GOTY Bombcast at 3:08:20, Ryan mentioned this cutscene at 3:05:
  
 
Ryan said:

" There's an early cutscene with Chloe where Nathan rests his hand on her ass, there's a natural nonchalance to that; that basic motion tells a whole story in of itself, you then know the history between these two characters just because of that. "

  
To expand on that, a film lecturer of mine once said the best way to set up a movie is not with words, but images, citing Rear Window's intro as an example. That cutscene with Chloe, the way Nate hesitantly touches her ass, that is a good example of this theory and it's actions like these that goes a long way towards bridging the Uncanny Valley, towards making the world of Uncharted 2 and the characters that inhabit it more real, more human
 

"Incoming!"

 

In an age of tacked on multiplayer, Naughty Dog could've just easily did a half ass job, or not included multiplayer at all, and nobody wouldve cared. The single player easily warrants the price of admission, but as it turned out, the multiplayer was just as good. While most people were busy playing Modern Warfare 2, and seemingly hating it, I was having fun not dying from campers, because the game just doesn't lend itself to such a tactic - well, the shotgun and pistole are pretty cheap, they kill you in one shot - but generally it takes a few rounds to bring down people. Just enough to get shot in the back but still survive, make it to cover and watch as the guy who was just shooting you unknowingly runs over the grenade you dropped.
 
Besides King of the Hill, all of the modes were really fun and it was refreshing to find team players in most games more concerned about winning than their k/d ratio. I guess because the multiplayer never really took off (it peaked at about 90,000 daily users), it kinda weeded out the dicks. Literally. There's a higher ratio of girls playing this game than any other game I've played online. And their good, perhaps too good. I hate losing to women.         
   

Nathan Drake is a murderer

 
Across the course of Drake's Fortune and Among Thieves, Drake has killed almost as many dudes as Sully has fucked women. Pirates, mercenaries, slippery naked dudes, helicopters, a demonic yeti, guardians - everything is fair game for Drake, even an innocent man just doing his job. (6:05)
  
  
That's right, our wisecracking "hero" just killed some poor guy in the most humiliating way possible, a pull down, and didn't even give a shit. At no point during the rest of the game do we see Drake feel any remorse for his actions, and with his impressive bodycount, we can only assume Drake enjoys killing people and his real motive isn't finding treasure nor saving the world. In fact, it's the exact opposite. He's killing off the world one innocent man at a time.
 

Was it all a dream?

  
  
Prison can break the toughest of men, even Drake. After 3 months locked up in some seedy Bornian cell, Drake is a shell of the man he once was. Reduced to shadow puppet theatre it's fair to say Drake has well and truly lost his shit. Thus, is it possible Sully and Chloe never came back for Drake? Is he still locked up, imagining all this?
 
Was Uncharted 2 just another one of his shadow puppet shows?
22 Comments

Online gaming blows my mind

I've come to the conclusion that online gaming is one of technologies greatest marvels. It's something a lot of us do daily and I think we take it for granted. Think about it, in just a fraction of a second:

  • your controller communicates with your console
  • your console communicates with your modem
  • your modem communicates with a server
  • a server communicates with Jimmy's modem
  • Jimmy's modem communicates with his console
  • Jimmy's console communicates with his TV
 
This is where things get biological:
  • Jimmy's TV communicates with his eyes
  • Jimmy's eyes communicate with his brain
  • Jimmy's brain communicates with his hands
  • Jimmy's hands communicates with his controller
  • repeat
 
This whole process happens constantly at an almost instantaneous rate. And when you take wireless controllers, modems etc. into account it makes it even more mind blowing.
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I love Dick.

Dick Smith that is. 

Yesterday I made my weekly trip to JB Hi-Fi. For those non-Australians, let me fill you in: a few years ago we relied on stores like EB and Sanity for games and music. While these are franchises in their own right, they were bricks and mortar compared to what was soon to come. For years we had to live with not only a shitty range of products but expensive prices to boot.
 
Then JB came along and took a giant dump on everything.
 
Dick Smith Electronics on the other hand, much like it's founder, has always been the quiet geeky kid that sits at the back of class and never bothers anybody. Only Dick Smith himself grew up to become a millionaire, starting a number of companies, founding Australian Geographic, circumnavigating the globe solo in a fucking helicopter, being awarded Australian of the year, jumping 15 motorcycles in a bus. Oh, did I mention he started a matchstick company?

So while Dick Smith might be hugely successful, the same can't be said about the electronics store in his namesake. Since JB arrived it Dick has mostly been collecting dust, only occasionally clawing its way out of JB's shadow by pulling customers in with a sale. So after picking up 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand at JB for $25, I was stoked to find that the one day I decide to visit Dick there was a sale on. Here's what I got:
 
  • LittleBigPlanet PSP - $20
  • Patapon 2 - $15
  • Resistance: Retribution $20
  • Scribblenauts - $30
  • WarioWare D.I.Y. - $20
 
That's $105 all up. Not bad for 5 games.
 
Thanks, Dick.

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