I wish I met this "Jack" guy earlier

So my two best friends spent the night last night (my parents had left the house to me for two days) and after a lot of discussing, we came to the conclusion that we'd buy You Don't Know Jack for my Xbox360. This was after a long discussion at 2 o'clock in the morning on what we were going to do for the entirety of today (being Saturday...actually Sunday at the time of posting but nobody gives a damn anyway), and we picked this game because we couldn't think of anything else to do or buy.

I'm so glad we bought this game.

First off, I knew about You Don't Know Jack before this game was released as many people did. My Dad owned a copy of the Sports trivia edition for the PC back in the '90s (far too far back for me remember much besides haplessly trying to figure out what the heck was going on when I was playing...I was five years old!).  All I remembered was the Mac telling me that I didn't know Jack. I wanted to know what the game was all about, but my Dad sold it at a garage sale, and I had to wait until now to finally see a new version of the game released.

So after driving too far to find a used copy of the game and pulling out all of the stops I could on deals and store credit (I didn't actually trade in anything...) I ended paying five bucks for this game.

Best. Five. Dollars. Spent. Ever.

I've only played through 6 episodes (and I refuse to play online, I know how THAT goes with all of the freaking cheaters...) but I played through all of those 6 with my friends and we loved  it. The game is an absolute riot and the trivia actually makes you think a little, and it's not all impossible trivia. Sure it's irreverent; but it's good trivia all the same. The questions aren't that hard if you take time to think about what they're asking and then looking at the answers.

The game does irk you a bit though when your friends decide that they need to screw you AND ONLY you whenever they hear a "what?" coming from your mouth when you hear a question. I learned to keep my mouth shut when I heard something ridiculous come from the T.V. screen.

The writing is clever and witty, and it's just an all-around good time with friends. 73 episodes is a LOT of gameplay, and I'm sure we'll be able to replay episodes when we've forgotten about them (hell I might even buy those extra episodes available on XBL).

I should just write a formal review for this. The only complaint I have is that the episodes are all EXACTLY the same when you play through them a second time, so it's easy to cheat and it takes the random factor out of the game if someone has played them before (this happens of XBL).  However, if there were a few jokes in an episode you were dying to hear again, it's quite easy to go to the one they're in and listen to them over and over again.

Honestly, that's probably a legitimate claim, too. The writing is that good. My friends and I were caught laughing too hard at a few crude jokes to hear the instructions from the T.V. screen.

Well, you're probably ready to comment (or not) now. So I'll let you go. Thanks for reading!

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Look Back: Persona 3 Portable

Well, this is my first of a series of "Look Backs" I will do for every new game I buy. I will look back on them a week after I finish the main storyline. Here goes nothing...
 
I recently posted a blog about how much I LOVED Persona 3: Portable, being my first P3 experience. I didn't spoil anything for myself, and the game just went on to culminate into something...fascinating...
 
Of course, everything has its flaws. Persona 3 had its share. From a 30-minute last boss (who, by the way, must be the cheapest boss I've ever fought) to only one dungeon to explore (on the first run through), it's hard to say the game is perfect.
 
However, the game is at its best when it manages to overcome these flaws and give you a personal experience, which is exactly what I got. 
 
Persona 3 actually made a tear (A real human tear) stroll down my cheek. I felt like I knew these characters, the writing was done so well that it felt like they were actual people. Nobody was mary-sue. Everyone had a weakness. Watching each character's connections with each other grow was an experience I will never forget. It's like a novel that will stick with you forever. I'm not sure I will ever forget this game because of its characters.
  
...I would like to mention that the story was static until a certain date. Wait...sorry...I meant the plot. But that's fine. This was definitely a character-driven story, with a small (very intense) plot at the end.
 
Speaking of said intense plot, that last month was filled with dread and anxiety not only for the characters but for myself. I did NOT want to see that world end like that! I have NEVER felt that way while playing a game before. EVER. I have felt strong feelings of hate against a boss, but the world of P3 felt so real. It was like our own.
 
Don't forget the awesome that is the battle system. It's typical turn-based strategy at its core, but hey, pointing a gun at your head was always intense and never got old.
 
My favorite character? Aigis. Without a doubt in my mind, and the whole of the month of January is my reason why.
 
Plus, the ending was actually really good unlike a lot of games nowadays. It touched me.
 
Persona 3 is definitely one of the best games I've ever played. I'm already in July of my second play through.

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Pokemon Generation 5...what to do with it?

I'm posting this because of the release of Pokemon Black and White in Japan next month. Pokemon Black and White seemed to come out of nowhere when they were announced. It was hard to believe that Gamefreak had been working on this game at the same time as Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. What was even harder to believe is that the game is coming out less than a year later from the aforementioned games. This has got me worried.
 
Why? Well, for one, I'm an odd one and enjoyed Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. When HeartGold and SoulSilver came out, I was hit by a huge wave of nostalgia while playing it. Obviously, I've enjoyed the more recent releases. But now it seems that Black and White might end that good track record Pokemon has in my heart.
 
Why? For one, I have no idea how long Gamefreak has taken on the new games, and the timing seems to be too soon. While Gamefreak promised that the game will "take Pokemon in a new direction" I honestly don't feel 3on3 battling is that important of a development. Not only this, but has anybody seen the new starters?  I don't like them. 
 
To keep going on my rant, Gamefreak finally decided that online random battles were a good idea. It seems to be an extremely late development ESPECIALLY after we've had 5 games with online capability. 
 
What does look good in this game is the High Link, in which you can go to another friend's game and either help or hinder them on quests, and explore the whole of Issun. This seemed needed for a while, if you ask me. And, along with Day/Night coming back, we're going to see seasons in which certain Pokemon come out. The only problem I have with this one is that it's been confirmed that certain Pokemon only come out during certain seasons. I dislike having to mess with my DS calendar in order to catch a Mareep.
  
The new legends look awesome. I guess that's a plus?
 
Overall, it doesn't seem like the game will change too much. Me, being a Pokemon fan, will buy it no matter what. I'm just worried about the potential amount of disappointment I might feel. Guess I'll found out later in September...
 
Pokemon Black/White...what do you all think?

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Why Persona 3: PSP is one of the best games I've ever played.

Ever.
 
Well, I got my hands on a copy of P3P four days ago and can't put the game down. I guess that's not saying TOO much, because I do that with most every new game that I buy if it's good.
 
Well, P3P is special, because it's amazing.
 

It’s as if Atlus decided to reach into my brain and come up with my idea of the perfect game. They messed with it a tiny bit, but for the most part it’s everything I look for in a game.

Now, I’m only in August (I guess I shouldn’t say ONLY…can you tell that I play too much?) and I can already tell that this story is NOT what it seems to be, and that would normally be a turn-off. I would like to try and predict it, but I can’t, because the game isn’t foreshadowing anything or even giving me a hint of the events to come. The only clues that I have to the story is Pharos’ constant talking about “The End” and the beginning of the game, where it said that I only have one year to do something…

The best part about this game is the characters. Admittedly the story has done too much for me right now (I know that I still have a LOT of gameplay to go) but the characters have done SO much for me. I feel like I KNOW these people. Not just the people in my party, either, but the Slinks, as well! What Atlus has done here is create a world with believable characters that I have yet to see in any other RPG. It’s creepy, when I play through the days it’s almost like I’m living my own life…

The gameplay is great, too. The only problem I have with the game is that it’s a bit unforgiving (I went 6 floors into Tartarus to save a person one night, forgot to save, and the next day was the dark hour. I lost the battle there) and it’s frustrating to have to re-do everything again.

The whole idea of a Persona was fascinating to me, as well. Having to “let go” of yourself in order to use it was pretty intense, the characters pulling the trigger to their heads is always intense. The customization is great, too. I spend a lot of times seeing what personas I can get through fusion (and trying to abuse my SLinks in the process) and trying to get the perfect persona.

The game can be hilarious too. My favorite humor-oriented part of the game so far is when Junpei convinces Akihiko and yourself to start trying to pick up chicks. I almost died laughing when they tried to pick up the old woman by accident.

There’s so much more in the game than what I’ve said…it’s just that the game works so perfectly with itself. The opening is also great…

P3P is my favorite game of 2010 so far.

So far, so good.

 
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My Top 5 Anime Series

First, allow me to say that I am currently watching the following anime:
Pandora Hearts
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Digimon Xros Wars (Sue me! :P)
 
I won't list the completed ones, because it might give away my #1 (or not, it's not a very common #1, I must say...)
 
 

5) Code Geass

This is a bit typical…but why not? It’s hard to argue that this wasn’t a good anime. The animation was a bit questionable (everybody in the show was anorexic, it seemed) but otherwise it was a pretty well-rounded and fun anime…if not a bit drawn out.

What I loved about this anime is that it explored the blur between the concepts of good and evil. Lelouch was convinced that he was using his Geass for the betterment of the world, but his actions end up getting more and more innocent people killed. He realizes his wrongs and you see him slowly descend into madness, but at the same time you’re hoping that he does well. You know he has good intentions, but they just aren’t going over too well is what you keep telling yourself.

The show takes a spiral downward when it comes to quality in the middle of the second season. For me, it’s because it devolved into a bunch of meaningless mech battles when more time could have been spent on plot and character development. This is the reason why it’s only number 5.

I wish they had ended it sooner, but unlike most anime, this one has a GOOD ending. It gave closure to the story, and all loose ends (as far as I’m concerned) were tied up.

4) Darker Than Black

What gets at me about this show is that it didn’t have much of a plot or main character development. A boy named Hei (or Lee, pick one) is a contractor, a human being with a special power that can be used as long as one pays a price to use it, which can range from self-mutilation to having a drink of a beverage.

There are also beings called dolls. These beings are humans, but have no emotions and can send out spirits which they can see through. Dolls aren’t normally found alone and are usually seen helping contractors.

That’s the plot, well, that and Hei is trying to solve the mystery of his sister and the disappearance of a whole chunk of South America. The plot isn’t really mentioned until the last 5 episodes or so, which isn’t a bad thing, instead you get to know the characters. Hei isn’t developed as much as he should’ve been, I think, but the show is filled with a diverse cast of characters. Ranging from a two-bit detective to a talking cat (who is also a contractor), all of the characters seem genuinely human (even the dolls at points). The show is really fun to watch, and the ending is as intense as it should be.

However, for a while I was confused as to why I was watching the show, because the main plot was barely ever mentioned until, like I said, the last 5 episodes. Too late. It does deserve number 4 on my list though.

3) Elfen Lied

Oh, Elfen Lied. One of the most disturbing heart and gut-wrenching animes I have ever seen. The plot starts when a girl named Lucy (known as Nyu by some other people she meets later) breaks out of the laboratory she was being held captive in. Soldiers tried to stop her, but she was able to decapitate, maim, and just downright kill them without so much as laying a finger on them. This is because she’s a diclonious, a being that is born from normal human parents and one that can only be female. These beings are born with horns on their heads and will kill their parents once they get their vectors; invisible arms that are extremely powerful. Lucy escapes the lab and washes up on a beach completely naked and docile, the only words she’s able to say are “Nyu!”. A boy and his cousin stumble upon her and take her in, but Lucy is still inside her, and can awake at any point of time.

What makes this series so wonderful is not the horror and blood-soaked battle sequences, it’s the psychological elements that are shown throughout the story. All of the victims and characters close to Lucy go through many moments of fear and paranoia, and many times insanity if they’ve seen the extent of her powers. The characters here are great (notice what I look for in anime yet?), most notably Lucy, for you get to experience her backstory first-hand, and trust me, it’s not for the weak of heart.

2) .hack//SIGN

A very popular show, no doubt. A very good show, no doubt.

.hack//SIGN takes place in a MMO called “The World”, which is a notable game primarily for its use of headsets that allow you to see through your character’s eyes. This show follows the story of…well…just about all of the main characters on the show as they try to unravel the mystery of Tsukasa, a male player-character who can’t log out of the game.

What draws people into the show at first is the opening, of course. It just has to be seen, it can’t be described by mere words on a page. Despite the setting, there is not much combat in the show, in fact, it’s practically non-existent in many episodes.

Some of the best parts of the show are when the soundtrack kicks in, .hack//SIGN’s soundtrack is one of the best-composed soundtracks in any anime I have ever seen. The music blends in perfectly with the surreal-ness of The World and what the characters themselves are experiencing in it.

The only thing that keeps this anime out of my number 1 spot is the ending. It’s horrible. Many plot points that were introduced at the end are unresolved and stay that way…for a reason…they want you to buy .hack//INFECTION for the PS2! Enjoy that one…

While the game may suck, the anime is fantastic.

 1)Now and Then, Here and There

“What the hell?” you say, “I’ve NEVER heard of that show!”

That’s just fine; I love it all the same.

The story revolves around a boy named Shu, who while coming home from school one day finds a strange girl sitting on a smokestack. He climbs up the smokestack and learns that her name is Lala-Ru, but afterwards is forcibly torn from his world and teleported into a large fortress called Hellywood (symbolism is the name of the game here. No, it is not bashing American culture). Here he is seen as an intruder and is imprisoned, and he slowly finds out what’s going on in this world, a war over water, waged by the mad king of Hellywood, King Hamdo.

This show is my favorite anime because of the sheer amounts of emotion it managed to pull out of me. You feel happiness, sadness, anger, frustration and everything inbetween over the 13 episodes of this anime. It explores the human condition and ideas of rape, child abuse, kidnapping, religion, friendship, betrayal, and innocence in such an effective way that one will not come out of the series without a new perspective on something.

The characters here are deep, while Shu may seem like the inspiration of Naruto’s character at first, there is no way that he is. Shu is deeply conflicted with his ideas of justice and right and wrong when he comes to Hellywood. There are times where you feel that should just jump out into the anime and kill King Hamdo yourself. It is a wonderful show.

The only bad thing is that the animation budget seemed to only allow paper and a box of colored pencils (it doesn’t look THAT bad but it’s certainly not the best animation out there). I recommend watching the subtitled version, the dubbed version of King Hamdo’s voice might just make you want to kill yourself. It’s that bad.

So yes, that’s my top 5. No DBZ or FLCL to be found. I’m pretty proud of this list. What do you guys think? *builds wall from DBZ fans*

 
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Marvel VS Capcom 3 Wishlist

With the recent announcements of Amaterasu and Thor at Comic-Con, my excitement for Marvel VS Capcom 3 has skyrocketed. I never expected Ammy to make it into the game, but now that she did, it's practically sold the game for me (along with the announcements of Chris Redfield and Deadpool when the first trailer was released).  Of course, it's going to be hard to not see the staggering 56(I might be wrong) characters (!) we saw in Marvel VS Capcom 2, but just over 30 (I think we can safely bet on 32 or 34) could mean that we might see a balanced roster. 
 
At least, it'll be balanced until Omega Red is announced (don't announce him!). Everyone who's played online in MvC2 knows what I'm talking about. Spammers.
 
 

I’m also extremely excited about the fact that they’re streamlining the game a bit more. I got into the franchise when I bought Marvel VS Capcom 2 on Xbox Live Arcade, but the steep learning curve still has me stumped (I’m not that good). With the lack of a tutorial mode, it’s been hard to get into. I’m trying, and I can beat the game on hard mode now.

So, of course, I’m going to have a wishlist just like everybody else who cares about this game. Most of my Capcom favorites have been announced (Dante, thank you for coming to the fight!). But I still have a few people to add. Most of my wishlist consists of Marvel characters, so forgive me if you’re overwhelmed by them.

CAPCOM:

Megaman-

He’s been around since the original and is Capcom’s flagship character. He wasn’t fantastic in Marvel VS Capcom 2, but this all could be changed if Capcom just changed his roster up a bit.

Wesker-

Most RE fans have been crying for the appearance of Wesker and I couldn’t agree more. The man JUST DOESN’T DIE in the series; it would be great to see him in the game.

Protoman-

As long as he’s not a carbon copy of Megaman (I’m looking at you, WAR MACHINE!)

MARVEL:

Spider-Man:

He was a silhouette in the teaser picture that was released when the game was first announced and is arguably Marvel’s most popular character. To leave him out of the game would be blasphemy.

Storm:

As long as you balance out her moveset, Storm would be a wonderful addition to the MvC3 lineup.

Nick Fury:

His rising occurrences in the Iron Man movies and inevitable appearance in Thor makes Nick Fury a prime target for a seat in the roster of MvC3.

Daredevil:

Another character fans have been screaming for, and if we see more X-Men with crazy powers it’ll be nice to see a martial arts based character. Plus, it’s Daredevil, he’s blind and he still kicks major ass.

Doctor Octopus:

Doc Ock has 8 arms. The only problem I could see with letting him in is giving him Omega Red’s moves (DON’T!).

Jean Grey/The Phoenix:

While asking for The Phoenix might be a little much, Jean Grey and her telekinetic powers would make for a very interesting character in MvC3.

That’s my wishlist! There’s a LOT of Marvel, I know. What do you guys think? Who do you want in the game, and who do you think shouldn’t be that’s on my list? Thanks for reading!

 
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Farewell, 1 vs. 100

This is a little late to post, but man, I will miss 1 vs. 100.
 
Chris Cashman had announced that there won't be a season 3 for the popular XBOX LIVE Arcade game 1 vs. 100, based off the popular (canceled) TV show. Microsoft said they had moved the developers of the DLC Gold-Exclusive game to work on "other projects".
 
I remember the fun I would have whenever I popped into the live shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Chris Cashman had his times when he was funny, yes, but the best part was the interaction and competition you had with 4 other users when you played in the crowd. You would be put into a party of other players right when you jumped into a show, and your could talk to them while in it. Here was where a lot of the competition (or cooperation) came in, a lot of the times you could be helping your group by sharing answers, or you could be trash-talking them when you had a higher streak.
I will miss that simple game that XBL provided. What do you guys think?

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Let's put Final Fantasy XIII in perspective here...

A short blog with my opinion about why the complaints about Final Fantasy 13 are unnecessary and even contradictory.
 
First off, the game is often said to be "one long hallway". Alright, fair enough, it is. But guess what? So was Final Fantasy X. Until you got to the Calm Lands in Final Fantasy X you couldn't go anywhere off the beaten path. Final Fantasy XIII is linear until you get to Gran Pulse, which is much larger than the Calm Lands. In addition, to those who complain about side-quests, Final Fantasy XIII has way more than Final Fantasy X did. Why do I keep referencing that game? Because everybody loved it, and it's essentially the same as Final Fantasy XIII when it comes to mechanics.

Complaints about the leveling system are also heard, but let's go into some more perspective. First off, the Crystarium is an -almost- exact copy of the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X, it just looks different. You can't stray away from your character's three main rolls until halfway through the game-much like you couldn't get off the set roles for the characters in Final Fantasy X until you got a teleport sphere or the like until halfway through the game.    
 
Not only this, but the leveling system is just a disguised version of the systems found in Final Fantasies I-IX. Each character has some sort of primary role they're supposed to be used for, so you must use them accordingly. There's no reason to complain about it being linear because it's always been that way.
 
The battle system is up for personal taste. I was getting sick of the old system, I see the new system as a welcome addition.
 
The story was character-based. This does mean a slower pace at the beginning, but everyone who's completed the game (or the majority of people) with an open mind will agree that it was story well worth playing through. I've read in forums "I lost interest in Chapter 10. The story sucked." The story will only suck if you don't complete it, it's like a movie where the ending puts everything that was happening in a new light and it makes you truly appreciate the movie. The ending (actually, last 10 hours) of the game brings all parts of the story together, and after seeing the characters grow through their hardships, you feel like you have completed an awesome task after beating the last boss.
 
The soundtrack has had no complaints as far as I can see, but it is quite good. It has probably the best boss music out of every Final Fantasy game (I'm saying it trumps my favorite boss music, Dancing Mad). 
 
The game is beautiful, but nobody can say it doesn't without looking like an idiot.
 
I think I've covered most major bases here. I would like to add that the game has a great sense of scale. But that's not what people look at.

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How Important Are Graphics?

A topic that I'm sure everybody has thought about at least once or twice. But really, how important are graphics to you when it comes to buying a game? Do they need to be cutting-edge? Do they just have to be presentable so that it doesn't look like it was made 2 years ago?
 
For me, it's the second one. I don't need flashy Final Fantasy XII-esque graphics to make me buy a game. Sure they're nice to have, but I'm perfectly okay with buying games with the graphical quality of Portal or Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing. I worry about the gameplay. You can have really good graphics and still have a terrible game. A good example would be the new game Sniper: Ghost Warrior, it looks pretty good, but in the end it's just a bad game with no substance.
  
I remember when I was around 9 years old and really wanted to buy Dragonball Z: Budokai for the Playstation 2. My friend had told me not to buy it because, "The graphics suck on that game, dude!". Turns out they didn't suck, but they weren't cutting-edge either. The game looked good enough and it played pretty well (I liked it, being a fan of DBZ and never having had played a fighter before) and when my friend came over and played it he bought it a month later. 
 
Another example was when I was talking to another friend about classic games, and I brought up the original Legend of Zelda, I got the response, "Dude, why do you like that game? The graphics are terrible." They might be terrible today, but it was made over 20 years ago during the 8-bit era. It still looks good enough to play regardless (it's not bad at all). 

What do you think? This wasn't meant to be a long blog, just one to raise a question or two.

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Nintendo's Plan of Disruption-The Downfall of Sony and Microsoft

My first REAL blog. Here it is!
 
  --(I've posted this blog on Gamespot already, but it's my favorite blog and in my opinion the best I've written so far)--

"OH NOEZ!!!" You yell at me, "HE'S GONNA BASH SONY AND MICROSOFT! WHAT A CASUAL NOOB! HARDCORZ ALL THE WAY!!!!!1111eleven".

Yeah. Settle down if you were really going to say that.

I have recently read a very well-researched and evidenced blog called "Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy". I read it just today and it was written in 2008.

You can read my condensed version, or you can read the entire article. In an effort to keep it shorter I may have lost a few points or left a few out. Here is the original article:

I swear, everything that was said in the article came true at E3 2010. That, or it is currently in the works.

Read the original article (it's lengthy) or read my condensed version and THEN read my comments at the end. Enjoy!

- http://malstrom.50webs.com/birdman.html


DISCLAIMER- What you're about to read is a condensed, bite-sized version of the blog I read. I take no credit for anything I say here. It belongs to Sean Malstrom. If I put something in quotation marks, it's from the blog (unless stated otherwise). My comments will be separated from this.

Part 1: Birdmen

"Centuries ago, men attempted to fly by putting wings on their arms and flapping really hard. Logically, in their minds, it should have worked. Birds fly. Birds have wings. Therefore, having wings should mean man will fly."

These men that tried to strap on wings and fly ultimately failed. They became the object of many cartoon parodies and pictures with funny captions on the internet. The descendants of these men are still with us today. Do you wish to know where they are? Right in our game industry. Who are they? Some of the highest acclaimed gaming executives, journalists and analysts.

"Nintendo is flying high. Rather than examine the nature of this flight, the birdmen are mesmerized by the feathers. The analysts and executives do not see the concepts of disruption and don't even understand the Blue Ocean principles (though they think they do). The feathers they see on Nintendo's ascent are casual games. Therefore, they surmise, if they make casual games then they will be flying high with Nintendo."

"There is nothing new here. Years ago, when Grand Theft Auto 3 hit big, all the birdmen began putting out Grand Theft Auto 3 clones. Years before that, it was first person shooters. More years before that, it was bloody fighters. One can find the birdmen back in the 8-bit generation making platformers. They would look at Super Mario Brothers and go, "Oh, I get it! We just need to make a game with cute music, colorful world, and upgrades like the magic mushroom!" Slapping wings on their arms, these games flopped. Amazingly, despite how many times the birdmen fall down, each generation they are ready to put on feathers and jump off a cliff."


PART 2: How the Casual Fallacy was Born

The game industry is distinctly hardcore. Every game developer, gamer, publisher, journalist etc. knows that. These "hardcore" gamers see more then an average person does in a game. They see heart, sophistication, magnificence, they see art (not Roger Ebert, though. He doesn't see art in games, apparently). In a casual game, this game sees simplicity, non-art, and easiness (in a sum, that is).

With that thesis in place, you could easily replace the word "casual" with retard Hardcore gamers see Casual games not as an advancement but a hindrance to the gaming industry. Because of the new definition of "casual" you can easily think of all casual games as retard games.

"Despite every company and their dog making these 'casual' games, the so-called casual audience is not buying them (just as they didn't buy the platformer clones of the 8-bit generation, the fighter clones of the 16-bit generation, the GTA clones of last generation, and so on). When seeing their 'casual games' flop while seeing Nintendo's 'casual' games in the bestsellers, the third parties growl and say, "IT IS ALL NINTENDO'S FAULT! People only buy Nintendo games! Third parties can't succeed on this platform!"

The problem is not in these companies' execution of their plan. The problem is their world-view. Their perception is totally off, and it is costing these companies millions upon millions of dollars. Don't you think, guys, that it is time to think about things a littler harder before you waste more millions?"

Part 3: The Casual Gamer is a Myth

"WAIT!" You yell from your computer screen, "How is that true? Look at all of the shovelware on the Wii and DS!"

Let's put this into perspective. Speakers. Yes, speakers. T.V. Speakers, computer speakers, pick one. Now, for speakers, the better the speaker, the more money it costs, right? The same goes for gaming. The better the game, the higher the price

"But wait!" You yell, "I found a new copy of Bioshock for $20!"

Let's keep the comparison going. Think of games as new "models" for a certain line of speakers. When the newer models come out (AKA newer games) the older models drop in price. The quality is the same, but the price is different.

Keep the speakers in your mind and think of "hardcore" games as upper-tier speakers and "casual" games as lower-tier speakers.

" "Well, knowledge is the defining characteristic of the tiers. The more knowledge one has, that means the more audiophile one is, the more likely he or she will reach for the upper tier. At the bottom, the users know little about audio and do not care to know. The ones at the top are very passionate about their audio and will pick out separate speakers and subwoofer just to maximize their experience."

Are you saying the people on the bottom tier are stupid? Are they just casual listeners?

"Only an upper tier person would define them as 'casual'. They just don't have that much passion about audio so they don't have much knowledge." "

HA!

Going back to games, what creates the passion for games?

By having the games they want to have.

Wouldn't a gamer who constantly buys the lower-tier games he wants be called "hardcore" after gaining knowledge of these games? What right do you have to tell them they aren't passionate about their critically panned games?

Part 4: The Upmarket and Downmarket

Basically, the Upmarket are games with a ton of features, but no so many that it gets overwhelming. The downmarket are those games that have little features or so many that it gets confusing. The ones who are at the peak of these upmarket games are called hardcore.

Part of Nintendo's plan involves introducing people to games slowly. Introduce games that have a good amount of features, but not nearly the amount that say, a Metroid game would have. That would scare them away. The game is good, but not a ****c. They use the upmarket in a unique way, meaning that they have a plan to slowly bring their players up into the peak of the upmarket, so when they sell those AAA titles they will get more money.

Part 5: The Upmarket

"
Today, what is considered an "8-bit game" would be considered a "casual game". Evidence of this is seen with 8-bit and 16-bit spiritual sequels emerging only on handhelds while the consoles stay near the more complex games. Ports of Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Legend of Zelda have appeared on handhelds. What used to be ****cs have become damned as "casual" games. This is the current industry hive-mind view. This is the hardcore view. But what is the reality?"

No.

Let's divide games into tiers. The first tier mentioned being most immersive and the bottom being the least. Please note that I did not create this list and it's not meant to be perfect, just representative.

" Let me give examples of these tiers:

Tactical RPG/Strategy- Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, Master of Orion, Command and Conquer, Warcraft, MMORPGs
Epic RPG- ('epic' meaning very story based) Later Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, Ultima, practically most JRPGs
Tactical Shooter- Ghost Recon, SOCOM, Counter-Strike
First Person Shooter- Halo, Unreal Tournament, Call of Duty
Third Person Shooter- Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto 3, Resident Evil
3D Action Adventure- Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Eternal Darkness
3D Platformer- Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, Rayman 2
Basic RPG- Early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. (Likely) Dragon Quest IX
Action Adventure- Legend of Zelda, Metroid
Adventure- King's Quest, Monkey Island
2D Platformer- Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog
Mini-Games / Arcade **** Wii Play, Centipede, Galaga, Pac-Man
Puzzle- Tetris, Dr. Mario
Non-Fiction Game- Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Brain Age, Nintendogs, cookbook software, how to learn English, etc. Flight Simulator, Sims"

Most of the tiers are self-explanatory and because of that I won't explain any of them.

Now we analyze. When gaming started (the arcade era) games were simple, those lower tiers were extremely popular and the only games being produced were those. As time went on and those kids who spent allowances at the arcade got jobs and grew, more and more complex games were being made. These people were able to handle it due to their past experience. The so called "golden era" of the PSX, Dreamcast and N64 is the example of a time where only upper-tier games were selling well. This is due to the growth of the gaming industry. The downmarket tiers were thus abandoned until the DS was released. More on that later.

The "casual" game market today was not created by Nintendo, it was already there. Flash game sites are proof. If you look up "fun flash games" on Google you will find a plethora of sites where you can pick up and play games for a few minutes and get off.

Watch this.

Much like in the gaming era of the NES, SNES, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis etc., many western game developers were shocked when the market stopped buying their simple games to buy these new "Japanese Games", this happened on the DS.

When the DS was released, it was reviled and not liked due to the amount of shovelware put on the system and the simplicity of Nintendo games that were put on there. Now it is a system with a plethora of AAA titles. Why? Developers realized that their simple and poorly developed games stopped selling a few years in. It seems that the market wanted more than the five-step games they had, and that's what they got.

The Wii -was- doing the exact same thing.

Part 6: How to make a Trillion Dollars

Nintendo saw this market coming with the flash gaming website boom. In 2005, Yahoo saw that 70% of its active users accessed its flash game section of its website. Nintendo decided to dominate this market. The DS was the start of it, then the Wii came along and finished it. They sold everything at an affordable price and got their consoles out there. Then they started producing games the whole family could enjoy.

They had no intention of staying there.

You see, it's a well known fact that the games that make a lot of money are the blockbuster, hardcore games.

Nintendo isn't stupid.

At the time of this article, Nintendo started releasing hardcore titles like Super Mario Galaxy, SSBB, and Mario Kart Wii on its system. The people who had already bought the casual games looked at the new games with awe and tried them, with the experience they had from the earlier games, they were able to easily pick up and play the new hardcore titles.

Part 7: The End of the Birdmen

The Birdmen are the companies who ignored the lower tier market of games. Now Nintendo has a firm grasp on it. There are two things a company can do now that Nintendo has a grasp on it;

1) Fight- Companies try to get into the same market that has already been dominated. This is a risky strategy, because since the market is dominated it is now impossible to reach the amount of success the dominating company has.

2) Ignore it- Pretend its not there and keep selling the top tier product. They will still sell, but not nearly as much as the dominating company's.

Both strategies normally end in failure.

Make the connection?

This could very well spell the end of Microsoft and Sony.

Why? The casual train has been long gone. Nintendo got everyone aboard and rode it off. If Microsoft and Sony don't react soon, it's over.

"OH NOEZ!" You yell in sudden realization, "TEH HARDCOREZ ARE GONNA BE LEFT OUT!"

Read this:

" You see it, don't you? You now are suddenly seeing the Big Picture. Now, when you hear Sony says that they think Final Fantasy XIII or Metal Gear Solid 4 to 'save them', you realize they are relying on the upmarket. Just now, Nintendo announced paid online services and even download content. "What does this mean?" asks a reader. It is a sign that Nintendo is moving upstream into the upmarket, into the more hardcore areas.

The tsunamis were just the beginning. Malstrom puffs on his cigar while standing in knee-deep water. He points to you. Remember this room? Here are the statues of all of gaming's heroes. Malstrom held up out his palm, and you see a drop of water fall into it. You look up to see the roof leaking. "The water is rising!" you shout.

Yes. The Old Era will soon be gone. Enjoy its last gasp. We are in the midst of a huge shift where little will be as it once was.

But my hope is that people will stop being birdmen. Instead of looking at Nintendo's games, their marketing, or their online and say, "Oh? That is for casual gamers! This means they are going for people who don't normally play games! LOL! I AM SO INSIGHTFUL!!!" they will instead look at Nintendo starting at the bottom of the tiers and moving their way up.

A thoughtful reader asks, "Malstrom, this is an interesting and, indeed, ingenious strategy Nintendo is using of creating a very profitable business model, aiming to dominate the lower tiers, and then move up. The competitors cannot compete because they will not be as profitable so they will lose the attrition wars and can only retreat upmarket. What is the name of this strategy?"

It is called Disruption."


Sony and Microsoft saw this coming. They just ignored it, and now that Nintendo has control of the lower tier, they are blaming Nintendo for creating it. It was already there. Yahoo! Games, Addictinggames, Armor Games etc. are proof of. It was a Blue Ocean of opportunity.

That Ocean is now owned by Nintendo.

---

My comments:

This was written in 2008. I think its shocking how relevant it still is. Sean Malstrom was right. Look at E3 2010.
Microsoft and Sony have obviously chosen the "Fight" strategy to beat Nintendo. Their weapons are Kinect and Playstation Move. The only problem is, they're trying to sell to a market that's already satisfied with their Wii, why would they want to spend $150 on a peripheral and $300 on a new console when they already have a console with motion control?
There is proof already that Kinect isn't faring well:

"In an interview with Eurogamer, ShopTo CEO Igor Cipolletta told the site the number of Kinect preorders the retail chain has received is "very low." As for the pricing, ShopTo currently offers the Kinect for €153.75 ($18, while the executive pointed out that a Wii can be had for just a little more. ShopTo's online site is currently sold out of Nintendo's hardware, but the Wii Sports Resort bundle ordinarily sells for €166 ($203).

"It's too high," Cipolletta said of the Kinect price. "We believe that with this current economy it should be around £70 ($105)."

When Kinect arrives, Microsoft expects 15 games to launch alongside the device. First-party offerings include Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals, Kinect Joy Ride, and Kinect Sports. A number of third parties are also on board, developing such titles as EA Sports Active 2, Konami's DanceMasters, and Sega's Sonic Freeriders. Publishers have also promised postlaunch support, such as a Star Wars game from LucasArts, Q?'s Child of Eden, and THQ's UFC Trainer." -Gamespot.com

Playstation Move isn't available for pre-orders yet, but it costs more than a Wiimote and you'll need 2 Move controllers for some games. It's not destined for good things.

Nintendo has just jumped back into the upper tier market. They have a cornucopia of upper tier titles coming out:

Metroid: Other M
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Epic Mickey
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Golden Sun: Black Dawn
Dragon Quest IX
Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light

And even more 3rd and 1st party top-tier titles were announced for the 3DS...

Kingdom Hearts 3D
Resident Evil: Revelations
Metal Gear Solid
Final Fantasy
Assasin's Creed

And so many more. Nintendo is moving right back up with the "hardcorz".

My conclusion? I think Sony and Microsoft have their work cut out for them for the next few years. They have to respond to Nintendo. If they don't, they will fall. Like moths to a flame, and Nintendo will have a virtual Monopoly on the gaming market.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. It means another company can try to release a new console/handheld and do well when everyone only has Nintendo consoles and want something a bit different.

This is a marketing plan, and Nintendo has done it successfully.

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