On Mark of the Ninja and Dismissing Stealth's Nuances

Full transparency, only played the first two and a half stages of Mark of the Ninja thus far (just shy of an hour) but...I just don't see it. Yes, it controls well and has that quality animation Klei does oh so well but the narrative thus far is extremely thin and I just don't feel compelled to keep playing.The gameplay is extremely derivative of Splinter Cell Convicion and Arkham Asylum. Yes, those systems have been translated successfully to 2D, but it just isn't entertaining enough on its own to keep me invested.

Now, I mainly tried this out due to the seemingly (and now, in my mind, confirmed) hyperbolic praise given it by Brad and Patrick and I feel the disdain expressed towards 3D stealth games is pretty damn dismissive. See, Metal Gear Solid at least gives you a carrot on the end of that stick to keep you playing, its called a narrative. Its called characters. Writing, ya dig? Yes, this Ninja game is less clunky in a pure mechanical sense but it also has a bit of a soulless vibe to it, if I may be so bold. There is nothing here beyond the base mechanics. Brad even says he wouldn't mind if it was stick figures, its the mechanics of the gameplay that make this fun to those not looking for anything more. Now, if you want to go ahead and compare this to mechanically focused games like a Super Meat Boy or a Pac-Man Championship Edition or N+, go ahead. But to dismiss an entire genre's merits in terms of marrying narrative with gameplay and questioning the use of violence in mechanical ways by giving you compelling reasons NOT to kill people (an avenue this game doesn't really cater to what with its emphasis on violent animations and lack of rewards for avoiding enemies), as well as inventing several of the systems this game incorporates just seems gross to me. Credit where credit is due. This game is less ambitious in every sense, yet it receives unapologetic praise in spite of those other games. Yet another illustration of the prioritization of the most basic aspects of game design over the loftier ambitions Giant Bomb, and game media at large, seems to favor.

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PAX Plans

Nathan’s List of Things He Noticed Were on the Schedule at PAX That Interested Him Enough to Hit “Add to Schedule” On His iPhone App So He Can Ponder Which Ones Are Must-See and Which Ones Can Be Missed

Friday

The Runaway Guys 12PM

Destructoid Live III 12:30PM (FUCK)

Double Fine Adventure Adventure! 1PM (FUUUUUUCCCCKKK)

We’ll Do it Live! Streaming Games over the Internet 4PM

On God and Gaming... 4:30PM (What would this really entail? Color me curious.)

Mega64: Panel That is Kind of Like a Nerd Thing 6PM (yay!)

Walking Dead 6:30PM (I must see Mega64, so hoping someone can attend this and let me know how it went)

PAX 10 Panel- Part 1 7:30PM

Giant Bombcast Live! 9PM

Sick Giant Bomb after-party where we all get wasted 10PM-???

Saturday

Breaking Into the Games Industry 12PM

Up Close with Kickstarter: Case Studies in Game Development vs Hideo Kojima 1PM (Just want to point out that DAMN, ain’t no one going to be at that Kickstarter panel, so good time to get some questions in for the Cards Against Humanity guy. I’m also super curious about the future of Kickstarter and how these success stories feel about it and I’m thinking Kojima won’t be able to talk about MGS5, everything will be via translator so it will be kinda slow-paced and not a lot of questions will be answered and it will GUARANTEED be online afterwards, so despite the awesomeness of Kojima being in da house, may go with the other)

Business Models of PC Games: Then, Now, and Looking to the Future 4:30PM

PAX 10 Panel- Part 2 7:30PM

Unlock Your Creative Potential: 7 Steps to becoming a Game Designer 8:30PM (Potentially pretentious and useless, but curious nonetheless)

Cards Against Humanity 9:30PM

TheLoadingReadyRun Screening Block 10:30PM

Sunday

Twisted Pixel Variety Hour 10:30AM

Press XY To Continue:Transgender Issues In Gaming 12PM

Concept to Reality: How New Games Are Made 4:30PM

Also, indie games indie games indie games, is what I want to see. I’ve seen the big stuff already, I want to explore the weird nooks and crannies of PAX and find cool, offbeat stuff. Oh, and buy a Mega64 DVD and get them to sign it! And tell Derrick he should actually be a rapper. Dude has talent!

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Self-Promotion Time

I guess I've never really gone into this here, but I podcast pretty regularly and feel I may as well clue those that follow me here to that stuff lest they be interested. Top Down Perspective is primarily video-game focused, been doing that one with my friends Sean (GalaxyTonight here on the site...unless he changed it) and Jon (ProtonJon more or less everywhere) for just over two years now. Media Monks is a lot more general in focus, encompassing movies, television, games and music (and maybe some oddly serious current affairs stuff if the mood strikes us). That one I've been doing for maybe six months with my friend Paul (Pixel Response is a blog he manages that I write for occasionally and the handle he goes by).

So yeah, some tomfoolery I'm involved in on the interwebz. Oh...I also update this blog semi-regularly. If you're into that kind of thing. (SFW)

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Get it together Microsoft, Game Room deserves better

Ugh, heartbreaking news hits once again in regards to new games coming to Game Room. The "not until late April" announcement was extremely frustrating on its own but now that late April has arrived that has turned into "uhhhh, we're not sure, be sure to check again sometime in the future". How hard is it to hit a button on a server somewhere to throw a 50mb file up so I can finally play some Pitfall, a game that really should have been in the initial batch over a month ago? Now, I've generally had a good time with Game Room thus far. Despite the really buggy servers in relation to challenges and leaderboards, I've sunk at least 8 hours into games like Jungler, Centipede, Road Fighter, and Battlantis but its high time we got some new stuff. They got to get this thing running on a regular schedule soon before they lose interest from a lot of people.

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Let's Do This, Big Bumpin'

So, two friends and I are going to be playing some Big Bumpin' in the near future in an effort to get a bunch of Xbox Live achievements, and we could use a fourth player. If you haven't got the points or you just want to experience some more of one of the worst party games ever, send a PM or something and we can exchange gamertags. 

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A generation that doesn't know how to hold a controller...

Okay, I work in video game retail and we constantly have demo machines running some of the more recent games. Nintendo has recently provided us with some titles that play very traditionally, namely Punch Out! and New Super Mario Bros Wii. Several times a day I end up having to explain to kids that no, you don't aim the remote at the screen, you hold it sideways, you know, like an NES controller. This often results in bewildered stares and kids awkwardly shifting their hands around the thing, sometimes holding it in completely nonsensical positions as they struggle to comprehend this concept. Thats what struck me, they literally have no frame of reference for what I'm talking about. The Wii remote is what games are to them, they have no knowledge of what came before and cannot understand this old-fashioned way of playing games.
 
Literally feel like Marty McFly just having endured the burn "you have to use your hands? That's like a babies toy!" This future is closer than we think, by 2015 it may in fact be that way.

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So, checking out some user reviews on Metacritic...

and stumbled on this little gem for Bionic Commando. As a person who has had a user review rejected by the site, I am very puzzled as to what their standards actually are.
 
" A gameplay bankrupt for videogame frustrating and a boring. Graphically it expire, the control of the personage is very bad. Bionic Command is one of the most large errors than Capcom, the much worse one than Dino Crisis 3. Sin because it could come outside large videogame like its those. Unfortunately if a video game is not giocabile it is not a video game."
 
Eloquently put by  Danleroi XX who gave the game a 3 out of 10.

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My Ten Favorite Albums of 2009

1. CFCF- Panesian Nights/ Continent
Okay, so technically two releases but they both came out this year and are both amazing. Mike Silver is only 21, but this dude has already demonstrated tremendous talent and I hope he has a long and successful career. 
Key Tracks: Panesian Nights- "Crystal Mines", "Sogni Rossi"
                      Continent- "Invitation to Love", "Half Dreaming"
 

Panesian Nights     
Continent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. The Bloody Beetroots- Romborama
I really like these guys, two Italian dudes wearing Venom masks playing chaotic, rave music. This album is huge, comprised of 22 tracks. Typically with large albums I lose patience (as was the case with Midnight Juggernauts' "Dystopia" from last year) but this one works for me. There are some duds, such as "Little Stars" and the incredibly vain "I Love the Bloody Beetroots" but there is enough stuff here that works to make the album really entertaining. That said, even some of the tracks I really dig are admittedly kind of terrible. "It's Better A DJ On 2 Turntables" is a chaotic mess, but something about the willingness to just throw in a bunch of nonsense and see what happens really made me smile.
Key Tracks: "Have Mercy On Us", "Storm", "Butter","Warp 1.9", "Warp 7.7", "Anacletus" 
Romborama

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. MSTRKRFT- Fist of God
Was initially a little bummed out by this album, largely due to all the guest vocalists, but I kept coming back to it and pretty much every song grew on me to the point where I really like pretty much every song on the album. The Ghostface Killah track, "Word Up", is certainly my least favorite but its listenable. Its just a fun, fast-paced album. Not everything is especially memorable, but it goes down smooth. 
Key Tracks: "1000 Cigarettes","Vuvuvu", "Click Click"
Fist of God
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. The Lonely Island- Incredibad
The last quarter of this album completely falls apart, but the first chunk is both catchy and hilarious (and crude, so be warned ye who be easily offended). And the included videos are also awesome. Just kept coming back to it over and over all year long. 
Key Tracks: "Santana DVX", "Boombox", "Like A Boss"
Incredibad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. Sidhe- Shatter Soundtrack
Great game, amazing soundtrack. A lot of this stuff could stand completely on its own, removed from the context of the game. My favorite is "Argon Refinery" which is nearly nine minutes long, but completely awesome throughout.
Key Tracks: "Neon Mines", "Argon Refinery", "Xenon Home World"
Shatter
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Basement Jaxx- Scars
This is on here mainly because it was the album that finally made Basement Jaxx click for me. I had purchased their singles collection some time ago but never really got into it. Then I gave the new album a couple listens and started to really dig their bizarre, samba-esque sound. Now I can say I am fully a fan of these guys. The new album has some bland entries, especially towards the end, but its generally pretty fun. And I really like "Twerk", which Pitchfork said was lazy and one of the worst songs on the album. I disagree.
Key Tracks: "Raindrops", "Feelings Gone", "My Turn", "Twerk"
Scars
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7. Shout Out Out Out Out- Reintegration Time
Awesome group from Edmonton, best seen live but this album is still pretty fun. Starts to slow down towards the end, with the final track being perhaps the worst perpetrator of having absolute silence for an absurd amount of time at the end of your album, but it starts off really good and none of the tracks are out-and-out bad. 
Key Tracks: "Run", "Guilt Trips Sink Ships", "In the End It's Your Friends"
Reintegration Time
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. Air- Love 2
This is the first Air album I've heard that I'd classify as "Good". Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie are completely excellent, the Virgin Suicides Soundtrack is great, Pocket Symphony is pretty bad, this album is right there in the middle (I have yet to listen to 10,000 Hertz, the duos second album). Its a nice, mellow ride, like any Air album should be. It doesn't reach the same highs as the first two albums I mentioned, but it stays consistently enjoyable over the course of it with a couple highlights sprinkled in there. 
Key Tracks: "Do the Joy", "Tropical Disease", "Sing Sang Sung"
Love 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. Royksopp- Junior
This album initially struck me as being completely fantastic, though my enthusiasm kind of drained away over the course of the year. Its still really good though, I just have some troubles listening to it all the way through. "Happy Up Here" is so awesome,however (as is the music video), that I still hold the album in high regard. 
Key Tracks: "Happy Up Here", "Royksopp Forever", "Tricky Tricky" 
Junior

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10. Various Artists- Valerie and Friends
This isn't so much an album as a compilation of tracks from a variety of artists, some of whom I have come to really admire and hope they go on to create more on their own. DVAS, Xinobi and Russ Chimes all demonstrate considerable talent in their contributions, and the rest of the stuff on here is pretty solid as well. Fun sampler of what may be tomorrow's successes. 
Key Tracks: "Inner Sanctum" (by DVAS), "Woodstock" (by Xinobi), "Daytona" (by Russ Chimes)
Valerie and Friends
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dishonorable Mentions
LMFAO- Party Rock
Perhaps the worst album ever made, I literally blame it for making me physically ill. Worst 8 dollars I have ever spent, deleted it from iTunes just to hide my shame. The fact this is nominated for a Grammy speaks volumes of how out-of-touch and tasteless those awards are.
 
Divided by Night- The Crystal Method
Really disappointing album from the guys that did Vegas. You know, that decent album from the late 90s that was majorly overblown due to everyone being way into "electronica" at the time? Again, why is this nominated for a Grammy? To be fair, its not terrible, just really really uninspired and bland.
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Masoumi, where you at?

Well, was watching some old episodes of Jeff's points report over on Gamespot (thank you Angel_Gamer) and the third one featured Abadox in the end credits. This reminded me of one of my favorite videos on Gamespot, Masoumi's attempt at playing through the first level of the game, only to fail over and over. Later, he defeated the game by blowing it up with some kind of nuclear weapon. It was totally awesome, as were some of the other videos he posted. Then, for no apparent reason, Masoumi disappeared. The videos were taken down, his profile went dead and that was it. This was literally years before the fall of Gamespot so I can't help but wonder what happened.
 
So yeah, you find your way to the grassy pastures of Giant Bomb, Masoumi? Anyone even remember who or what I'm talking about?

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Finally realized the Grammies are complete nonsense

Sure this comes as no surprise to anyone, but hey, don't know if you heard but the people behind the Grammy awards are complete and utter morons. If there is one genre of music I follow its Electronic/ Dance. Here are the albums they decided best represented the genre over the past year. 
 
 

Category 13


Best Electronic/Dance Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

  • Divided By Night

    The Crystal Method


    [Tiny E Records]

  • One Love

    David Guetta


    [Astralwerks]

  • The Fame

    Lady Gaga


    [Streamline/Interscope/Konlive/Cherrytree]

  • Party Rock

    LMFAO


    [Party Rock/Will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope]

  • Yes

    Pet Shop Boys


    [Astralwerks]
 
Okay, can't speak for most of those, but how on earth did the latest Crystal Method album and the completely horrid LMFAO atrocity "Party Rock" end up on there? Royksopp's "Junior", CFCF's "Continent", MSTRKRFT's "Fist of God", Bloody Beetroot's "Romborama", all far superior to either of those and yet none made the list. Especially surprised at Royksopp's snub given how they've been around for awhile and that album was really well-received critically. "Divided by Night" was incredibly disappointing and "Party Rock" is literally the worst thing I've heard in the past year, perhaps ever. Finally get why everyone hates the grammies. Those jabs in "The Simpsons" now make perfect sense. Just thought I'd share. And hey, if you are pissed about some other Grammy related nonsense, feel free.
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