Thoughts on 2009

It's like the holidays hit, and everything got warped into some type of stress induced vortex. They always do. Over time I've learned to be... not dismissive of other peoples stress, but appropriately assess other peoples stress. I'm actually kinda proud of myself this year, as there were many times that I didn't let other peoples "issues" affect me. Overall though, it was a better holiday season. A new house, a new computer coupled with family and friends resulted in a fairly eventful Christmas. I hope everyone else had a similar, if not equally enjoyable experience. 

 ...So I haven't done a blog in a few weeks and I have no one to clean my images while I'm away. Someone pass the windex.
 ...So I haven't done a blog in a few weeks and I have no one to clean my images while I'm away. Someone pass the windex.

Hail to the king?

Duke Nukem Forever was announced on April 28th 1997.
I was ten years old.
And that's really all I have to say. 
The level of shame that some of the long standing developers need to come into grip with, is so mind-boggling, my attempts to even begin to fathom what thoughts might have gone through some of their minds is difficult to even comprehend. Yahtzee pointed out probably summed up the most disgusting aspect of the whole situation yet: In this cut-throat industry, where small developers with great idea's are cast aside by monolithic publishers: How dare anyone could have supported this project, for this long.  Take-Two apparently sued 3D Realms for their inability to deliver....anything... 
If there was ever an argument against the terminology of "When it's Done", this is it.
I personally never understood why people were clamoring for this game. I understood why after Duke Nukem 3D for sure, I loved that game to death, but as the....decade....past the sheer concept of what Duke is died. He became a parody in the eye's of time, if the game had been released at this time it would have been blasted probably as too generic. 
 Congrats: Your now irrelevant.
 Congrats: Your now irrelevant.
It's interesting to note though that development for this atrocity actually picked up steam a few years back. The whole situation was documented in this fantastic article from Wired, that not so surprisingly, puts the blame at long lasting development George Broussard.  
The article is a bit difficult to follow at times, not because it's a poor article but the story is just heart-wrenching at least for me. I'm currently in taking 3D modeling and animation classes, and eventually want a career somewhere in Game development. The concept that so much art assets, work and energy would never see the light of day due to a egotistical scatterbrained development lead and an irrational amount of funding is beyond me. 

I get into PC gaming

I have a couple blogs that I did concerning my triumphant(?) return to PC gaming. 
Blog 1
Blog 2
I'm currently blasting through Dragon Age: Origins and loving it. Like a lot of people who have it on PC, I'm a bit confused on how the game actually works on a console. The combat reminds me quite a bit of Final Fantasy XII, even down to their Tactics/Gambits system. It's neat to see that the RPG genre is diversified enough to see such complimentary adaptations of gameplay mechanics.
It was neat going back into PC gaming, and it seems my experiences struck a cord with a lot of people. I left PC gaming for reasons that I found were very relatable: I own every console/ PC gaming is generally expensive. 
What's kinda funny that my first experience with something..."console-esque" on the PC was so horrible. Halo 2 PC, and apparently Xbox Live for PC in general from everyone I've talked too is something to generally avoid. It's a future of PC Gaming I want no part in.
Even with the minor issues, I haven't looked back though. I have named my PC, Colonel Philbright Westriverside Warehouserock XXVI, and we have tea together and you are not invited!

The Return of Monkey Island

I met David Grossman at PAX this year. He signed my Monkey Island poster. 
 Very cool.
 Very cool.
It was very awkward. I kinda ran into him at the TellTale booth, and I quickly recognized him and thanked him for contributing to warping my childhood :P
When I was a kid me, and half of the class, would sit in the computer labs all screaming at one poor kid trying to navigate Guybrush Threepwood through his adventures. The DOS game was even old back then, but we generally did not care. Latter in life I would return to the series and realize how genius it truly was. Things that went over my head as a kid were more apparent. 
He was very kind, another Telltale guy watching our conversation joked that they never get over the fact that they work with Grossman (He said sarcastically.) He admitted that old Lucas Arts games in general were used as teaching tools for English as a second language, a concept that blew my mind open immediately. The literal use of verbs to interact with objects, sure there was the Humongous stuff, but I never thought the original Lucas Arts games would function in the same manner.
Speaking of TellTale, I think they won my favorite developer award, or something. It's one thing to revive Monkey Island, but like the fourth game taught us: There are pitfalls in succeeding. Tales of Monkey Island was absolute pleasant surprise this year, equal to Monkey Island 2 (Personal favorite) and quite possibly the funniest in the series. I implore anyone who simply want's to have a good laugh to check it out, the remake of the first Monkey Island was emotionally gripping for me.

Wait, I actually met a bunch of people this year.

That's Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi who showed up at a local GameStop. I got my collector edition signed, while I took pictures of him and Major Nelson meeting. It was actually pretty freaking cool.

I forgot who this creepy guy is. Name escapes me.

Oh, Sega

Yakuza 3 was finally announced to be released next year. I would like to see the first two games get some type of re-release in the future, but until then it's good to see Sega finally realizing that this series has interest outside of Japan. Just not in the manner that they initially foresaw, like Yakuza 2 the game will retain it's original Japanese voice track. I applaud them for accepting the obvious.
Resonance of Fate is a JRPG to be released next year made by Tri-Ace. The original name of the game in Japan is " End of Eternity", which of course makes no sense.
I mean, who in their right mind would name anything "End of Eternity"?! That's some typical Japanese to English, mismatched crap that I'm happy the localization department at Sega has corrected in some form or another. To shame anyone who has previously used that term before! Learn English dammit!
That includes you, cherished science fiction writer Issac Asimov! Someone from Sega should clean this up!


With everyone clamoring for digital distribution, this year brought us a little strange device that for many has been classified as a failure: The PSPGo. 
Many retailers simply refused to stock the device overseas due to it's all digital format. It's a step in the right direction, but the real problem came when the lack of any support regarding UMD came into play, resulting in rumors that a UMD like add-on is in the works: Which if released, would bring irony to a whole new level.


Watching my friends cringe after my PS3 decided to flood my status updates with trophy announcements was pretty funny. I don't understand why both Microsoft and Sony jumped for this feature, but both consoles support Facebook some way or another. 
Again, I don't understand why it's better clicking on every letter individually versus sitting at a computer and typing a status comment. 
You better "Like" this blog post.

GiantBomb happenings

Speaking of Sony and trophy information, it's nice to see where there screwed up priorities are regarding the sharing of information regarding their trophies. Apparently Facebook can get easy access, but when it comes to sharing trophy data with any other website, which is a basic function regarding achievement style data: consider yourself fucked.

Tony Hawk Ride gives birth to my favorite Penny Arcade comic ever.

After Tony defended his broken product, claiming that people were biased against it, the fine folks at Penny Arcade were there to point out the obvious.

Shinji Hashimoto shouldn't do interviews.

I can do an entire blog of all the stupid crap that Square has stated publicly this year, but nothing takes the cake quite like Square's vice president Shinji Hashimoto and his proclamation about the future of the Chrono Series. 

 Why does everyone ask about Chrono Trigger? [after being told that the games are a very much loved] That's not what the sales tell me!. If people want a sequel, they should buy more! (Chrono Trigger DS)

I'm sorry, Symphony you wanted to say something?

@vidiot: Seriously, is that VP retarded?  According to Wikipedia which cites two sources for this claim -
"Chrono Trigger sold more than 2.36 million copies in Japan and 290,000 abroad, reaching two million in sales in only two months. It ended 1995 as the third best-selling game of the year"
It also mentions, and cites sources - "Chrono Cross shipped 850,000 and 650,000 units in Japan and abroad respectively"
Let's compare some others that did see subsequent sequels recently -
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time - "[I]t had estimated U.S. sales of 630,000 copies, with revenues of $23 million. In Japan, the original sold 533,373 copies as of 2008."
Pretty similar sales, a bit less than Chrono Cross, and it saw a recent (albeit pretty bad) sequel...
Saga Frontier 2 - "SaGa Frontier 2 has sold over 675,000 copies in Japan as of December 2004"
No mention of sales abroad, but that warranted the release of Unlimited Saga (which was panned and labeled as terrible in the West).
Then there's their new games like Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery which are just godawful... so it's okay to basically throw away money on publishing crap games like these (okay, I'm sure they turned a profit, but still...) but not on working on a tried and true franchise that HAS the sales numbers to prove it's loved? *boggles* Shinji Hashimoto statement strikes me as that of someone who has either no concept of the franchise he's talking about or no concept of sales. Possibly both. I wouldn't be surprised if (hell, I'm willing to bet on it) his only knowledge of the game is the DS port and he's basing his sales figures off of that alone. Because a DS port of a game is definitely going to tell you how well a full-fledged console game would sell, right? 
That's like guessing FFXIII's sales off of the FFIV port to the DS or a better analogy would be basing the sales of an FFVII remake off of the sales of Crisis Core on the PSP (cause we know EVERY FFVII fan bought that game (and a PSP to play it on), right?!) 
Edit: I should note that if the issue were that the original creators of the Chrono franchise had no desire to work on it any more, that would be another matter entirely... and it does seem like, as Yasunori Mitsuda (who showed interest in working on the score) put it, "there are a lot of politics involved [with the franchise]". So even if the sales numbers prove the game would sell, the franchise might not have the backing of the creative team that made the games so endearing in the first place.


Guy doesn't marry his DS

 Apparently, one of my favorite stories of the year did not go through, as the guy in question did not marry his DS.

Worst characters in a video game award


From left to right:  Guy who swears and opens doors, Player character, Other guy that swears and opens door,  Commander guy who swears and doesn't do anything right.
From left to right:  Guy who swears and opens doors, Player character, Other guy that swears and opens door,  Commander guy who swears and doesn't do anything right.
Killzone 2 is a phenomenal game.
It's pacing at times I would argue is better than Modern Warfare 2. It has a phenomenal set pieces, the multiplayer is phenomenal, the action is dense and it's orchestral score is brilliant. Tons of time and money went into this game. 
The story and characters....Oh, man.
Normally, I could honestly care less, but when a game stresses that I should be emotionally involved during key sequences due to it's superior production costs it losses me. If I learned anything this year, it's that game's that have a strong identity of what they are usually do quite well. (I'm going to plug Pepsiman's blog concerning this subject, hope no one minds and I'm sorry if they do, I can remove and edit links :P)
Killzone 2 doesn't know what it wants to be. At one point a main character dies, the orchestral music rises, the direction of the cutscene is perfect: And I don't care. 
In fact, my main concern was who was going to open up doors now for me. There was a loading screen that passed by claiming the character who died was known for his "joking personality". I have no idea what the hell this loading screen was talking about. I think he said a "Your mom" joke once while playing, so I guess he appeals to the 4th grader demographic. To me he was just another faceless, cursing futuristic solider.
Initially Killzone's 2 plot generally confused me. It was my first game in the series, and there was no attempt to bring newcomers into the context of the plot. Not even a blurb in the instruction manual.  
From an earlier blog a few hours into the campaign:

The Hellghast are bad. I know this because they have British accents and have red eyes.
I'm a good guy. People call me Sev. I'm with some other people. They tell me what to do. They also swear.
I'm on the Hellghan planet. The Hellghast don't like that. 

The back-story of the ISA and the HellGhast is very interesting. 
I read it on a few websites, I don't understand why we can't integrate all that interesting context into the actual game. 

Best Story: Modern Warfare 2

                                                                                                                                    Don't worry Japan. Regardless of the miss-translation, it's
                                                                                                                                                        still not going to make a lick of sense. 
Modern Warfare 2 wins my best story award. 
Yes, I said in another thread that the person who wrote the plot to this game should be....*ahem*..."Fired", and that the plot was so ludicrous that it was "...a Michael Bay movie that not even Michael Bay would touch."
I've also been an adamant and staunch critic of the No Russian level, a subject matter that I have discussed to death, and I don't want to cover here. If your inclined to give your opinion, please, please, please PM me.
Overall, Modern Warfare 2 wins Best Story to how phenomenally stupid it is. Let me touch on just one small example:
Makarov, a highly publicized terrorist who goes by name and face in numerous news articles presented to you prior to the No Russian level, decides the best way to hide the identity of his ultra-nationalist Russian comrades and himself is speaking in English. 
Little do people know that speaking in another language: changes your appearance.  

So, the next time you want to shoplift at a grocery store, or if your in a situation where you want to commit a crime and are on camera....Like an international airport....Speak in a different language. 
Crap, it doesn't have to be an actual language, speak in's fun, I do it all the time.
Does it matter that during this same level, another terrorist not including yourself dies and is left on the runway? Nah, we don't have time think or talk about this.

Notice: Modern Warfare 2 was my favorite first person shooter this year, over ODST and Killzone 2. It's level design was great, and I am a huge fan of composer Hans Zimmer. The production values are equally amazing, and the roller-coaster like feeling it gives is great. It is perfectly acceptable to appreciate the game and the story separately. 
Modern Warfare 2 is NOT my best story in the year award. I'm just pulling your leg and annoying you. :P

Game that surprised the crap out of me

 One of the best game's this year is Batman?!
 One of the best game's this year is Batman?!
If you would have told me that one of my favorite games this year was Batman I would have laughed at you. RockSteady, a company I have never heard of, delivered not just a great Batman game but the best superhero game of all time.
Sorry X-Men Arcade. :P
What's great is that you can clearly see the developers who were making this game, loved what they were doing and had great respect over what they were doing. When you can visually identify that, it's a beautiful thing. The game's mechanics are great in that you actually feel like the caped crusader. If you haven't had the time or effort to check this game out, I strongly recommend you just run out and purchase it. 
Batman also grows a beard over the course of the game. That's awesome. 

Game that should have been nominated for more awards.

Infamous came out at a strange time, going head to head with the likes of Prototype. In my opinion, Infamous is the superior game by far. Sucker and Punch proved themselves as phenomenal developers with the Sly Cooper series, but Infamous and it's dark brooding Seattle WTO atmosphere takes the cake.
The character, even the powers of Cole are not exactly "new", but the game does enough from a presentation standpoint to take what is essentially a very basic comic book story and make it new. There's a ton of parkour being used in games today, throw in super powers and by the end of the game you feel invincible. It's not perfect, but it seems to have been kinda forgotten by end of this year. It's too bad.

 I am a terrible, terrible person for not playing the following games.

I haven't checked out Demon Souls, which apparently won Gamespot's game of the year award. I don't know, I haven't really seen anything that has impressed me online about it. I've heard it's a game you have to play to appreciate, but I never had a hankering for old-school Kings Field like stuff, still I'm intrigued.
There's also something about a Street Fighter 4 that a ton of people are into. I guess those were pretty rad games this year. 
I also have yet to play Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. That will be corrected soon :P
(Notice: I'm currently playing through Assassins Creed 2 and Dragon Age Origins, they are both not really on my list anywhere but they are both awesome.)

My Game of the year.

I played so many good games this year, but if I had to choose just one....
 You know something is right when your favorite character doesn't speak a word of English.
 You know something is right when your favorite character doesn't speak a word of English.
Uncharted 2 does so much right it almost frustrates me.

I've heard people complain about the platforming, which is still stiff like the first game. But the checkpoint system is so forgiving, I find it difficult to rally against the whole game because of it. From a presentation standpoint it blows everything out of the water. Uncharted 2 knows what it is, and we are all thankful for it. 
It's one thing to say that games can rival movies, but Uncharted 2 is better than just about every goofy contemporary take on Indiana Jones that I've ever seen. Seldom do we take notice of the acting in a game, you can't avoid talking about Uncharted 2 without referencing the superb job that Nolan North does.
The gameplay is solid and the level design solid. Awkward mechanics that were noticeable in the previous game have been touched up on, making the combination between narrative/shooting/stealth/and punching dudes in the face so fluid it's quite the sight to behold.
With all the games concerning space marines, Uncharted 2's premise and style, no matter how simplistic is a breath of fresh air.  
I went on about it previously in another blog, but if I want to single out my favorite game this year: This has to be it.  
And Tenzin will fucking cut you.

Onward into the future

I'm worried about gaming in 2010.
I'm worried about the conflicting things I've heard regarding Final Fantasy XIII.
I'm worried about BioShock 2.
I'm worried that Mass Effect 2 won't be up to snuff. 
I think revisiting the Sands of Time trilogy for Prince of Persia is strange.
I have yet to be sold on Halo: Reach.
I'm afraid Tony Hawk will release Tony Hawk Ride 2.
Yet at the same time, I have a strange sense of optimism. Not completely optimistic, but aware that my concerns can easily be flipped. Regardless what 2010 brings, I look forward to it.  
Edit: User Tiwi demanded my mention of him in this blog. So here, I am mentioning him.