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Should Zelda have recorded dialogue?


Remember in Mario Sunshine, that though the story was on the light side, all cutscenes were fully voiced? This is a rarity for Nintendo, a company that still keeps to some age old traditions of game design. Despite having the technology to include features such as voice acting Nintendo has for the most part shied away from including it in many of its games. I'm sure many of you will be happy to never hear Bowser talk again, but there are those that would love to see Nintendo's most epic franchise, The Legend of Zelda get the fully voiced treatment. Then again there are also those who believe the series shouldn't have to move with the times in every regard and that there is nothing wrong with characters remaining mute. Here are the reasons for and against a fully voiced Legend of Zelda.

Zelda should be voiced:

Link doesn't have to talk

Link is not a mute, yet we never see a line of dialogue in his name. There is a simple reason for this, Link is the every man that the player transposes his or her thoughts and feelings onto. However, everyone responds to him as if he is at least reacting to what they say. So those worrying that Link will sound like poor old Sonic the Hedgehog did when they gave him a voice box needn't worry.

Zelda needs to move with the times

What big budget action adventures aren't voiced? Struggling? Exactly. Text based interaction back in the day was a necessity, audio files literally couldn't fit on game carts, that's why we also had the nostalgia inducing MIDI music as well. So now games are going on discs that can store gigabytes of data, that problem simply doesn't exist any more. There are no restrictions now so Zelda should hurry up and join every other game of it's likeness and include voice work.

Voiced characters can add new dimensions

Actors. Zelda has never had actors. In a rich interactive experience, shouldn't characters have the extra depth that a voice actor can bring? Zelda characters, even the small ones, in fact especially some of the small ones, have incredible design and personality. You want to talk to NPC's because they are so interesting, that's a lot more than can be said for a few other games. So voice work can give these characters even more personality. Imagine if the Happy Mask salesman had an equally creepy voice to him, perhaps he would give you even more nightmares.


                                                                                                            One creepy guy

Zelda shouldn't be voiced

I've just raised the example of the happy mask salesman, I'm sure you have an idea of what he sounds like if you've played Majora's Mask and I'm sure it's scary beyond reason. So if the game was voiced, yeah he might have a creepy tone, but would it match what's in your head? Not likely. It's like when films are based on books, everyone who read the book says, 'oh I didn't expect him to look like that, or sound like this'. Truth is, we all probably have the perfect voice for Zelda character's in our heads that is individual to us. This argument doesn't only work for old characters that we already have conceptions of either, our imagination is in a wonderful teamwork with what is presented to us visually so we can build some of the character ourselves. Nothing wrong with a bit of imagination.

Humphumum... Ha Ha... Hyyaaa!
No, I haven't just lost it. These are sounds that Zelda character's make, little inklings of information about their voice that give us a bit of extra character. Why not go the whole hog? Well, because that would screw about with my last argument wouldn't it? These little sound bites don't get in the way of your own interpretation of a character but can perhaps give you a bit of guidance as to what was intended with the character, just so we don't think Tingle has a Jamaican Accent for example.

Just because everyone else does it doesn't mean Zelda should
In direct contrast to what was said about moving with the times is the argument that art is art. That voice or no voice, neither is actually better than the other, just a different artistic choice. Zelda can stick to its guns if it wants, it doesn't make it archaic.

They could really screw it up
You know, everyone could be walking around with Ye Olde English accents. Or worse, this. Or even worse, THIS.

So what do you think? Voice or no voice? Personally I do like the quirky style that Zelda has and I think that too much tampering could ruin that. Then again I'm not opposed to change, I was even one of the few that actually liked the Wind Waker when it first came out. Perhaps with the Wii U we will see a big change in Zelda.



3DS Hands On

Haven't posted here in years, hi to anyone who recognises me! This is a blog post I have written for my website, managed to get some hands on time with a 3DS today and am pretty impressed: 

Today I got some hands on time with the new 3DS from Nintendo. Having been tipped off on Twitter that the local HMV had grabbed themselves one, I made my way to the store and asked the guy standing at the counter if they did actually have a 3DS and whether I could have a look at it.

They kindly gave me a demo of the system and some hands on time with it. Unfortunately there weren't any games for the system in sight but there were the augmented reality games that come loaded on every retail version of the system. As you can see in the picture, you place one of the six cards that are included with the 3DS on a flat surface and watch as the tabletop come to life. with the '?' box card, a series of targets appear in which you have to move the device around using the gyro and accelerometer to aim and shoot. As the HMV employee was adement, and fairly so, that the device remained tied to him, this proved awkward in parts, especially when a dragon appeared and I had to move around to avoid his attacks (the dragonnot the HMV guy!). The augmented reality games seem to be a really good way of showcasing exactly how exciting the concept of the 3DS is and shows all the interesting new features that developers can really innovate with. I can't wait to see what Nintendo and third party developers can come up with this time round, having seen some pretty original game mechanics with the DS.

As you may know, I am a skeptic when it comes to 3D. I rarely think 3D really adds that much to my movie experiences and have limited experience with 3D gaming. I personally believe that the 3D on the 3DS works just as well if not better than in theaters. The blurry mesh of the screen viewed when being held by another slowly merges to form a fantastic looking image that seems like you are looking into a window to another world. Even when the dragon moved towards the screen it really felt like it was moving toward me. I expected the 3D to work on the 3DS but not as cleanly as it did when I got my hands on it today. I felt completely comfortable with the 3D slider on full but played about with it, very easy to make little tweaks to suit your preference, which I suppose will differ from game to game, or how you are holding your 3DS. Theres a certain magic to using the 3DS for the first time, the concept of glasses less 3D sounds like something from the future, but it works so well you'll be a bit taken aback when you first use a 3DS.

Hardware wise I was also pleasantly surprised. I've knocked the design of the 3DS before, but seeing it close up, it kind of does work as a piece of hardware, and feels more sturdy than I expected. Of course the design does look very Nintendo, as in, before we turned our logo grey and tried to be Apple Nintendo. I've decided I like that. The D-pad does feel like it takes second priority to the new slider pad, so it seems that, if games use this for movement, the controls will feel a bit jaunty due to the placement when compared to the face buttons. The face buttons have a nice clicky feel to them and the slider pad is much better than the one previously seen on the PSP, mostly due to its larger size. The resolution on the top screen looks great, whereas the lower is more of the standard fare that we have seen on previous DS's. The 3D cameras at the back really seem to work well in creating 3D images. I placed my hand in front of the lenses (like the guy in a rather stupid looking press shot) and I'm not going to lie it looked good, I now understand why the guy was doing it...

I'm under the impression that Nintendo have done it again. Created a console that will become a top seller to gamers and the casual market alike. I didn't get much time with the system today, but enough for most of the concerns I had to be squashed. I still think it can be a little jarring switching focus between screens as it always takes a second or so to really focus in on the 3D but that seems to be the only problem I can currently find with the system which otherwise left me very impressed. There is a slight concern to the portability of Nintendo's new handheld for example, playing the AR game on a bus just wouldn't be possible and if you are being bumped about the 3D effect may suffer. Then again both these obstacles aren't too much of an issue, especially as the 3D effect can be switched off. It seems evident that Nintendo know that it's handhelds are played as much at home as they are on the road and the 3DS supports experiences for both.

Personally, I can't wait to spend more time with the 3DS, look out for more news in the coming weeks.

MGS: Peace Walker TGS Demo Impressions

  This entry originally comes from a website I have recently set up, as it is only three weeks old, hits are still a little sparse so I'm posting it here as well.
As I said in a previous post, it seems odd that I have played the latest MGS game, mere months after it was announced, years I waited anxiously to get my hands on MGS4, so it’s a breath of fresh air that the latest Metal Gear Solid title on the PSP seems to be coming along swiftly.

The first thing I noticed about Peace Walker is its over all look and production quality, just from the TGS demo you can tell that the attention to graphical detail goes far beyond any title that I have ever seen on the PSP. In game graphics aren’t where the high production value stops either, menus and cutscenes come over very well too, and that’s even the more of a compliment to give as the TGS demo is obviously in Japanese and my knowledge of Japanese begins and ends with ‘Domo’.

Speaking of the cutscenes, they are done in a familiar format to the cutscenes in ‘MGS: Portable Ops’ taking the form of a moving comic. There are beautiful transitions when the 3D switches to the 2D cartoons, and overall, the cutscenes seem a little more colourful than the drawings in Portable Ops.  
On to the important part then, gameplay. Peace Walker seems to take most of its influence from MGS4 with a fully movable camera and and a third person aim mode for weaponry. Of course, the PSP doesn’t have a second analogue pad so camera movements are mapped to the face buttons. This obviously isn’t as comfortable or convenient as having the extra pad, but the game makes up for it with auto aim etc. Your main ‘action button’ seems to be the right shoulder button which controls your CQC abilities and fires when in aim mode (holding the left shoulder button). My main issue with the controls is that crouching and sticking to walls is mapped to the
D-pad which means you need to take your thumb off the analogue pad to press the button, this can be a little awkward as it means that you need to stop your movement in order to crouch or move up against a wall. Again this is only a little problem which you will probably get used to the more you play the game. Also, when you lay down n the ground you couldn’t then crawl, which is something I tend to do a lot in the series so I hope this is added in to the game.

The demo itself started with Big Boss and his recruited troops on a beach in the dark, a set up for your basic tutorial level with one troop shouting commands at you that you have to adhere to. After a cutscene you are on a beach with Miller, who players of the original MGS or MG2 may recognise, giving you commands by codec. you then make your way into the forest where you get a real sense of what the game is like sneaking up on enemies and practicing CQC and gunplay including a possibility to try out co-op in the part after the tutorial. 

No Caption Provided
The best thing about Peace Walker that I have seen so far is that it doesn’t seem like the franchise has been comprimised to make a PSP game in the series. It seems like everything from control mechanics to the look of the game have been meticulously thought out to fit the system. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this game.

(I apologize for the generally shoddy screen snaps!)     

Oh hi Wii, how have you been?

So Wii Sports resort came in the mail today marking the first time I've played my Wii in three or four months. To say that I deliberated on spending £40 on a Wii Sports title would be an understatement, I was hovering over the order button a few days back for quite some time. Though my final decision was worth it, Wii Sports Resort is a great title which is good fun to play alone or with friends, which is in itself a problem as I'm now tempted to shell out for a second MotionPlus. The MotionPlus itself is not in any way disappointing, now I don't know about you but when I first got the Wii and popped Wii Sports in I was hit with a very slight disappointment which turned into a form of denial, blaming the game for not utilizing the controls enough etc. I finally had to come to terms that I had expected too much from the Wii. With the MotionPlus I feel like that initial expectation I had has been met, it really is 1:1 recognition even though you have to re-calibrate every now and again. This is clear from the get go where your sky diving Mii has the outline of the remote around him and every slight motion of yours is portrayed on the the screen, really exciting stuff! Because of this my imagination has been racing all day about the possibilities the MotionPlus can bring to games, especially the up and coming Zelda title. It really does feel good to be excited about the Wii again.

Apart from that I've been sluggishly moving through infamous, perhaps I really need to get into it but so far I'm not really getting into the game, on a lot of missions I will reach the point of frustration then pass the mission, then reach frustration on the next but pass it. It's not that the games really difficult either, I don't know, I'll stick with it. As some shameless advertising to end a blog, I wrote a blog on the longevity of this generation a while back, went a little unnoticed, if your at all interested you can read it here. Thanks for Reading!

This Generation - Same Process or Something Different?

    Francis Fukuyama once said that with the end of the Cold war came 'the end of history', meaning the end to countless fighting for different political ideology as liberal democracy had proven that it was the best form of governance. That sentence has only a slight relevance to what I am blogging about today, but I am knee deep in politics revision and it is difficult to switch off. What I am going to be addressing today are the differences between this generation of consoles and those that have come before it, concluding that there are some differences that make this generation more of a mainstay in the homes of the many (even exam speak is rubbing off on me). 

    Of course this isn't the 'end of history' for games consoles, far from it. If anything this generation is a massive step in getting games into the mainstream, it has placed a gaming console into more homes than ever before, widened the demographic that play games and given a real social aspect that hasn't been evident before. Where is my argument  you may ask, a wider market has been penetrated surely they want more. This isn't necessarily  the case, everyone reading this plays games as a hobby, 'core fans' we seem to be called. Before we were the ones wanting more processing power to have better looking games without major overhauls in interface. Especially given the economic climate, I doubt Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo are vying to get the next powerhouse out of the door, especially given the difficulties that Sony have had with the PS3. Business sense doesn't seem to come with power anymore and if people are happy enough with their consoles power to price tag ratio right now, new machines don't seem to be on the cards for a while. Another argument would be that general consumers aren't going to see just a graphics upgrade as a sole means for buying a new machine, perhaps they are going to want something different and inventive to make them give up their current system. 
    To me it doesn't seem like good business sense to be unveiling new machines for at least a few years from now, things like XBL and PSN give systems a bit more longevity and graphics continuously seem to satisfy still. Perhaps I'm thinking ahead of time anyway but to me when expansion to a more casual new market meets an economic recession, creating a new machine that consumers are willing to pay for becomes much more difficult, and this is why I think that this generation of consoles will be the longest we have seen so far. Then again sales of the DSi worldwide seem to be evidence against my claims, with millions rushing out to buy a new system with slightly larger screens, two cameras and an SD slot, not exactly an overhaul. Tell me what you think the future is for this generation in the comments.

Otacon's '21st Century Breakdown' Review

Hey Guys, heres a review I have written for Green Day's '21st Century Breakdown' which has been submitted to appear in the 'Wessex Scene', Southampton.

 There has always been an element of genius to Green Day, whether it be the fusion 

of punk music with unashamed pop melodies or the occasional gem that gives a real 

insight into how musically talented the band are in other fields. It is also fair to say that the 

band has evolved thematically with 2004ʼs ʻAmerican Idiotʼ changing the usual subject 

matter of teen angst to political commentary. The amount of publicity ʻAmerican Idiotʼ got 

gave the band a status that it had not had previously, with more airplay and a much wider 

fan base than ever before. Now, after nearly a five year gap the band are back with the 

much anticipated ʻ21st Century Breakdownʼ and expectations are set extremely high. 

 The album, in an attempt to be even more of a rock opera than its predecessor, is 

split into three sections or ʻactsʼ as they are called, the first being ʻHeroes and Consʼ 

followed by ʻCharlatans and Saintsʼ and ʻHorseshoes and Hand Grenadesʼ. The record 

begins with ʻSong of the Centuryʼ Which is a short intro into the title track ʻ21st Century 

Breakdownʼ. At this point the style of the album seems quite different to what has been 

heard before from the band, in fact with the long intro into the first song, ringing guitars, 

and strong use of backing vocals, I would say the sound is best described as reminiscent 

of The Whoʼs later records. There is also a slight U2-like guitar riff in there somewhere. Yet 

with all this, Green Dayʼs trademark sound is still nestled in the song and itʼs not long 

before chants are shouted and the three power chord hooks are released. This certainly 

isnʼt a bad thing, as Green Dayʼs sound has clearly become more passionate than ever. 

The bandʼs first single from the album is ʻKnow Your Enemyʼ which some would say is one 

of the more predictable songs on the album, in the same vein as the title track from 

ʻAmerican Idiotʼ power chord guitars are accompanied by the political writings of the bandʼs 

front man, Billie-Joe Armstrong, who has penned a seemingly more lyrically ambitious 

record than before, songs like ʻ21st Century Breakdownʼ and ʻEast Jesus Nowhereʼ 

provide quite hard hitting commentary on life in modern America. This album really seems 

to show a higher level of sophistication in songwriting as well as sound. 

 At the heart of the album the thrashing Green day sound is still there but they are 

pushing their music somewhat. ʻRestless Heart Syndromeʼ and ʻLast Night On Earthʼ are 

two songs that really arenʼt expected from Green Day, venturing into the piano ballad 

territory. This is new for the band, and Billie-Joeʼs voice does a decent job of keeping a 

more melodic tone, though it is noticeable that his comfort zone is still in more powerful 

parts. Three chord hooks definitely take a back seat to more experimentation in this album, 

yet the album is definitely unified with recurring riffs, melodies and lyrical themes, giving it 

more credence as a concept album.  As a rock opera ʻ21st Century Breakdownʼ isnʼt 

exactly a progressive rock opus, the inclusion of the three acts doesnʼt seem to really add 

anything thematically, and the two main ʻcharactersʼ Christian and Gloria are mentioned, 

but arenʼt featured explicitly. Yet the album it is definitely more accessible for this, so it is 

perhaps best that the band didnʼt try to define a distinct story throughout the album. This is 

not to say the album fails as an overall concept, reoccurring riffs and constant themes 

make this album just as good a concept album if not better than what ʻAmerican Idiotʼ was. 

 Other notable songs on the album include ʻ21 Gunsʼ which is one of the prime 

examples showing Green Dayʼs progression. ʻMurder Cityʼ is most definitely Green Day 

true to form, and is one of the best tracks on the record for it. ʻSee The Lightʼ, the final 

track, is interesting perhaps not only for the track itself, but because the intro is also subtly 

used at the beginning of the album as the intro to the title track and so this rounds off the 

album effectively. The reoccurring themes, both musically and lyrically certainly make ʻ21st 

Century Breakdownʼ Green Dayʼs most ambitious record. 

 ʻAmerican Idiotʼ showed that the band had the ability to try something beyond three 

chord power pop, and ʻ21st Century Breakdownʼ is the epitome of that evolution, a record 

that is finely put together and works as a unified album that is intended to be listened to 

from start to finish, in the days of downloads this kind of album is becoming rarer. The 

political content is more intense and the variation between songs shows that the band 

were going for an epic feel, and they pulled this off without sounding pretentious, which is 

a worry when phrases like ʻrock operaʼ are tossed around. At the heart of ʻ21st Century 

Breakdownʼ is the angst Green Day have always had, yet now it has been channeled into 

an album which, though  arguably a mainstream pop/rock record, has a genuine and 

passionate punk mentality running throughout with itʼs commentary on modern America. 

Green Day fans will love this album but even if you arenʼt one of the wholly converted, 

ʻ21st Century Breakdownʼ is still worth a listen. 



My Beef with XBL

So, I now have Xbox LIVE for the second, no scratch that, the third time. Sort of. A couple of weeks back I bought a years subscription card to LIVE in order to upgrade my silver account I had been using since I bought my 360 back in December. I already had a LIVE account from the original Xbox yet recovering that required me to know the last four digits of a card number from yonks back, not going to happen. That was no big deal, wasn't as if I was losing a gamerscore or anything. So I type in the code to upgrade and get a message telling me I had to give some more information, all well and good until I reach the address section. The Xbox seemed adamant that I was a resident of the USA (Live in the UK), I changed my location on the console settings, still no joy. After calling up the Xbox support line twice I discovered the annoying truth. I'm a gmail user, so when I had to create a Windows LIVE account with that address I didn't access it on the browser to set up my information. This was apparently a big mistake, my account defaulted to US residence and locked my Xbox account to the US as well. Faced with a horrible choice of losing game saves and a gamerscore I had to make a decision, keep my fairly new account or just start over. Eventually I chose to create a new account as I figured having a US account would just cause some problems in the future. So, I am now on Xbox LIVE, not as HAL Discovery but Tsuik, same as my PSN ID, with a modest GS of 1135. A little annoyed but what are you going to do.
A little gripe I have is why an account is locked to a certain country the same way age is locked, age of course is completely understandable, but country? Yeah there are distribution laws etc. but why not let someone change their country every year so people aren't going to be changing it constantly, it's not unheard of to move country. Right rant over.


Watchmen: The End is Nigh, impressions

If Watchmen means anything to you, it is likely that the thought of a game based in and around the book would bring a sarcastic smile to your face. It is almost completely missing the point about what Watchmen is about, unless the self referential irony has passed fever pitch. It seems that this game is perhaps the most Hollywood like thing Warner Bros. has done with the movie adaptation and marketing, which I suppose is a good thing, the general hands off approach with the film means us Watchmen fanboys can enjoy a film that seems to have been so afraid of our reaction that it catered to us instead of the masses (at least this is what I have heard from reviews, I will see for myself at midnight tonight). I'm beginning to ramble.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh is probably what you would expect from a generic movie game, running around pulling switches to open doors where swarm after swarm of enemies will run at you, making you use your simple beat 'em up combat system to knock them down. The game tries to reference the graphic novel by having the tips section come up as Rorschach's journal etc. but none of it seems to fit. This is no slur on the development of the game, its pretty enough and not completely horrible to play, it's just that it is trying to be Watchmen and that makes the whole experience seem out of place. I think it is worth noting here that I have not actually bought the game, only played the trial version but it was enough to confirm any fears about the game, this isn't surprising as a Watchmen game that tried to connect with the source material would likely be like this.
So, it was to be expected, perhaps my view is incredibly biased as I have looked negatively on the game since it was announced. Perhaps some people will enjoy it. It's also worth mentioning the fact that this game is downloadable, this may be the new distribution method for film games if it works out as it could prove a decent business strategy. Oh look, I'm rambling again.


The 'Fanboy', A Trend in Gamers?

Today a teaser hit for a gaming franchise you may have heard of, stating that the next metal gear is coming along with a cryptic message depicting a power button, a green power button. You can't blame most people for deciphering this as a hint towards MGS hitting the 360. I'm not here to evaluate this assumption being right or wrong, instead I am going to have a look at the general reaction that surrounds the wake of news like this. Of course there are those that believe the teaser as irrefutable evidence, I found this comment on Joystiq courtesy of a lovely unbiased user. 

if you open your selective vision you'll see that I'm not the only person who thinks that this could mean MGS4 is coming to the 360.

Whether it's 4 or 5 I could care less. It's good news either way since sony and the ps3 crowd is losing yet another exclusive.

  Fair enough, some guys are cautiously excited about the possibility of MGS on the 360, There are plenty of Metal gear fans who haven't played MGS4 yet because they don't have a PS3. A comment like this however, I find hard to understand. The guy doesn't seem fussed about the series yet his concern is in the field of putting down the console he himself doesn't own. I think here we have to ask where this mode of thinking came from, why it's grown and where it's going.

  I would assume that 'fanboyism' has been around as long as the term 'geek' has. For example, I'm an absolute Zelda geek, therefore I'm an absolute Zelda fanboy right? Right. Not the same as our friends comment though is it? What we have seen above is the attachment to a console that ranges beyond being a fan, to having concerns about the business involved in sales, exclusivity deals and the like. Why should a consumer care?

  The first time I myself noticed rivalry between consoles was with the PSX and N64. You had a choice as a consumer between two great consoles and went with your preference. Like today you would justify your purchase on personal grounds and stick by it. There was banter from both sides but the love still seemed to be focused on the video games. Consoles cost money and people like to make the right choice, then tell people about this choice, being a little annoying in the process.

  So why has devoted love and allegiance for consoles grown? Well, looking at it, I don't believe it has. I think we are in the same situation we were in back in the 90's apart from one vital thing, the thing your browsing right now, the internet. Whilst back then we would have a little argument with our friends about why we chose a console, we can now create an anonymous username on a site and tell the world in a much ruder and blunt sense. Never has there been a better environment for twelve year olds and those that act like them anyway to spread their insecurities. Of course there have always been those of us who's palm has always met the face upon reading comments of such nature and who don't include themselves in petty elitism, we have always been here too. It seems the vocal fan has now just been given a louder voice and a name and guess what, he's here to stay.


Another Spore blog? Ok!

Well since friday I have been playing a ton of Spore and I have to say that I love it. Whilst it falls short in some stages, namely tribal and Civilization I think the game is still excellent. Of course the people who have been following it for years are going to have had expectations through the roof, those who actually expected the dream game where perhaps asking a little too much and are now sulking. I also had very high expectations but realized that the game was not going to live up to every expectation. When I played the game I did notice the shortcomings but was actually surprised with how few of them there were. You could argue that perhaps Maxis were trying to do too much, covering all bases, yet they seem to have a good enough grasp on each one to give each stage a feel that caters to a different style of gameplay but remains entertaining. Whilst no stage, bar the space stage perhaps, competes on the same level as games that are specified to those styles in complexity they remain pretty expansive in their own right. 

   Another thing is complexity itself. In general you feel like the game could have done something more on each level and you will most certainly feel that the reason behind its simplicity has something to do with it's attempt at mass casual appeal.
   However having said all this, lets cast our minds back to when Mr Wright showed demonstrations of the game and we were utterly wowed by it, those parts (well most) are still there and people seem to have forgotten how great they are just because they had already seen them. Spore is what Spore has always been, people's disappointments are mainly because the Spore that they built in their heads was not in the final build. Personally I think the game is incredible and a must own.
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