This weekend should prove interesting. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate showed up, and it's the next logical step for my pursuit of expanding my gaming horizons.
I’ve had good luck so far. XCOM was one of my favorites from last year, and Fire Emblem: Awakening has a good chance of being there, too, when 2013 winds down (it’s weird to say that). Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan was my first stumbling block, albeit one that wasn’t entirely unexpected. A hardcore dungeon crawler is both not in my wheelhouse and isn’t necessarily a genre I’m all that interested in getting into. I knew the game wouldn’t get covered on the site unless I picked it up, and rather than just pop it in, I wanted to give it a few hours, and have the game open itself up to me. Maybe I’d be wrong? Maybe I’d fall in love? Probably indifference?
You can’t love everything, but you can certainly give it a chance. That’s the driving factor behind playing all of these games that would otherwise fly around in my periphery, and get little more than an eye roll. It’s important to have a better idea why I like or don’t like the things I like or don’t like, especially when it comes to genres that I haven’t visited in ages, and my feelings have crusted into a mass of unknowables.
Anyway, who knows what will happen with Monster Hunter. There’s just as much of a chance that it won’t click for me, but I’ll sleep better knowing that when people ask me why I don’t like Monster Hunter, it won’t come from a place of brushing off the franchise and, instead, from spending some hours with the game.
Hey, You Should Play This
- The Button Affair (PC and Mac / Free) -- www.thebuttonaffair.com
Did you play Mirror’s Edge for iOS? It was one an early games from a traditional publisher on Apple’s platform, and remains a favorite. It wasn’t a first-person platforming affair, but it condensed some of that Mirror’s Edge magic into a 2D platformer. The Button Affair plays around with similar concepts, except dropped into a world of spies and deception. The cutscenes have a charming MS Paint quality to them, and while the mechanics aren’t as twitchy as I’d like, it scratched an itch I’ve had for a long time now.
And You Should Read These, Too
- "Japanese Postmodernism and Fandom: The Rise of Raiden and What Kojima Really Meant" by Brett Fujioka
Considering our lengthy Hideo Kojima digressions on the podcast recently, thanks to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Brett Fujioka’s lengthy look at the designer is fascinating. Fujioka presents a compelling essay about the reasons for creating Raiden the way he is, what it says about the Metal Gear fan base, and the potential motivation behind keeping the Raiden’s central, controversial role in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty a secret from everybody. He doesn’t just piece together quotes Kojima, either--he takes a hard look at the concept of “otaku,” and how Metal Gear’s broader mythology works as social commentary. Even if you don’t buy some of the junk Kojima’s selling, this makes great reading.
“None of Raiden's psychological traits are unprecedented if you look at Evangelion's characters. What's different is that MGS2 directly correlates the relationship between otaku-like groups and the internet. Before the U.S. got the notorious 4Chan, Japan had 2Channel. Like its American successor, anonymous postings were the popular mode of conduct, even when internet anonymity was still controversial. If people could write anything without repercussion, it left room for libel and other falsehoods to stream freely. Bearing this in mind, The Patriots -- MGS2's antagonistic shadow government -- agenda of internet censorship is more easily understood.”
"Gameological Q&A: Not Again" by Gameological staff for Gameological
A bunch of Gameological writers are asked to confess their greatest pet peeves in game design. I wrapped up Tomb Raider earlier this week, and it brought to mind one of mine. Collectibles are a cheap, easy way to motivate players to explore the world in a way they might not do on their own or along the directed path of the story. That makes sense. But I can’t stand collectibles for the sake of content padding. Only the journals in Tomb Raider add to the plot, the rest are hidden objects that stop being hidden when the game hands over a treasure map that makes their locations explicit. It’s even worse when the game implies through a line of dialogue that one of the collectibles, the GPS caches, might have payoff. Unfortunately, they don't. Argh.
"I can’t stand games that make you mash buttons to perform a simple action. You know the kind: You have to turn a valve or pry away the cover to an air vent, and the game puts a prompt on screen with a throbbing button icon, inviting you to hit the X button a thousand times. I suppose it can be mildly effective at times, when time is of the essence, but in most cases, it’s the lowest form of busywork. For all their good points, the Arkham Batman games do abuse this gimmick, as does Asura’s Wrath (to the point where it’s almost hard to mind anymore). But my “worst example” is Dark Void, for personal reasons. I was playing through a prerelease demo of Dark Void with one of its producers, Morgan Gray, and we were having a fun conversation about pet peeves. I complained about this particular design trope, and I didn’t hold back. You know how the story ends: Not 30 seconds later, one of those throbbing X prompts popped up on the screen, and I just let out a quiet groan. Gray was an awfully good sport about it, though."
If You Click It, It Will Play
Kickstarter Has Promise, Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up
- Empire Eden is one good looking 2D action game.
- In Pulse, the only way forward is to utilize the sound around you.
- Some folks are still trying to bring Homeworld back.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
For those worrying about how you’ll play always-online games, like Sim City, decades into the future: the answer is piracy.— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013
Piracy offers the all-encompassing archive of discontinued video games. Heck, you can play Bandai Satellaview games thanks to SNES emulation— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013
All those games that have been removed from the Xbox Live Arcade servers? You can pirate them. I wouldn’t worry.— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013
Hexels is a Nifty Art Program Helping Artist Make Beautiful Stuff
Lara Croft is Back, And People Have Thoughts About It
- Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker questions what we're losing when games chase the spectacle.
- The headline "The Creepiest Review of Tomb Raider You Will Ever Read" is definitely accurate.
- An interview with Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett about some of the game's controversies.
SimCity's Launch Has Prompted Some Iiiiiiinteresting Articles
- A thoughtful take on what the role of a reviewer in the games as service age.
- The Penny Arcade Report explains why its "review" of SimCity on day one wasn't trustworthy.
- Polygon initially gave SimCity a 9.5...before knocking it down to an 4.0 due to the server issues.
- Possibly the best review of SimCity around.
- One take on SimCity from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- A great profile of one of gaming's most beardly designers, Michael Brough.
- Some games strike people in powerful ways. In this case, for this woman, it was Tomb Raider.
- Edge has this extensive look at the making of the original Max Payne game.
- Who knows if The Industry, a gaming-focused iPad magazine, will take off, but I wish them luck.
- One backer of The Banner Saga isn't so happy with how his money has been spent.
- This is probably the craziest hack of a Pokemon game you'll see all week.
- Jeremy Parish makes a compelling argument for why Etrian Odyssey IV is an interesting game.
- The story of one crazy bug squirreled away inside Chris Hecker's SpyParty.
- System Shock 2 is available on Good Old Games now. Learn the story why.
- Observation and criticisms on The Museum of Modern Art's section on video games.
- Apparently I'm not the only one who has a problem with games embracing the term "addictive."
- There was another game hidden inside F-Zero GX the entire time, as it turns out.
- Uber Entertainment outlines the rapidfire development time of Outland Games.