Monthly Archives: October 2012

Opinion: Wii U’s Experience

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. I love Nintendo. I’m a huge Big N fan, have been my whole life, always will be. It’s no surprise that I am, in fact, excited for the Wii U. However, I was very skeptical at first. After getting to play the Wii U a bit I have come to the clean conclusion that despite what many others may think or feel (usually criticism) of Nintendo’s new console, I am sincerely excited and believe it is a good step for Nintendo. I really do think the tablet controller is a great innovation, perhaps even better than the motion controls the Wii brought us. I can’t wait to plug my Wii U in and play Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U with a group of friends. I see a bold opportunity for the console, and here is why.

What was the problem many gamers had with the Wii? Its lack of strong, third party titles and the fact you had to play with the Wiimote for most of the games. The Wii U will theoretically not have this problem. With the Pro Controller as well as the Gamepad and Wiimote, you not only have options on what fits in your comfort zone, but developers also have options that can enhance or change gameplay mechanics based on the controller you’re using. The touch screen is amazingly responsive and the technology allows so many things for developers to dip their toes in. What’s great is that many developers want to explore their options with the Wii U, so we might see some very creative sparks from some of our favorite devs in the near future.

I love the idea. The idea of having information available at all times via touch pad is awesome. The gyro functions of the controller please me. The accelerometer, the built in microphone, the near field communications and the built in camera are all sweet, sweet additions that make me like it more. One could call it a TV sized version of the Nintendo DS. I agree to an extent, but feel that the simple difference of having the bottom screen separate makes for many renditions and experiences the DS cannot achieve. The Gamepad was also surprisingly lightweight, I remember thinking “Wow, this is almost as light as a Sixaxis controller.”

The evolution of first party Nintendo icons is upon us. Think of the possibilities that a new Legend of Zelda can hold. With active mapping and item switching alone open up many puzzle that involve movement and motion. Star Fox can offer strategic options on the touch screen, while the controller takes on the Arwing’s navigational systems. Metroid can take the element of scanning environments to the next level using the gyrosensor. Perhaps Pokémon can utilize the camera to catch those lovable little monsters in the real world, aim your controller around your living room and search under chairs, behind curtains, or even out the window! I see a future with the Wii U where some see fault.

Nintendo is a company that is known for its innovation. Some see it very differently. Some suggest this is even the end for Nintendo. One thing people need to realize is that Nintendo has moved on. They’re aiming for a new generation of gamers. They’re also doing this very successfully as demonstrated by the Wii’s sales. You might be upset by this, but it was bound to happen one day. Yes, I’m hopeful for the Wii U, but not with the same hope I held for the Wii. It’s a much different feeling. Nintendo has moved onto a different audience, one that they KNOW they can successfully capture while Microsoft and Sony continue to do their thing. I’m buying a Wii U. I don’t care if it has handicapped online gameplay, that isn’t why I buy Nintendo consoles. I buy Nintendo consoles to play locally with friends and family. This is why I trust Nintendo will deliver, they will hit the ball out of the park in that market, and I’m all for it.

I’m a heretic.

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Miniview: Lucky

By Andrew Williams

Leave it to Lucky.

Throughout the ages of gaming, Graphic Adventure games have always opened the minds of the young and old who decide to take on the adventure. From the old time Myst for the PC, to the newer flashed based games like the Several Journeys of Reemus, Graphic Adventures usually provide challenging puzzles, mind wracking riddles and an uplifting lesson or sense of accomplishment.

Lucky is no different. For only 80 Microsoft points, you can embark on an adventure of a young rich man just finishing a one night stand. Soon to find out the girl he had just spent the night with was going to inform him of his demise. Like most people would, the young man continued his day, not knowing that the prediction would actually happen. Now that he is dead, he spends his time venturing through the afterlife finding himself and the truth about your family.

Lucky has some faults but also comes with some treats for those who play. The game only has one solid track that plays the whole game, mind you the game only takes about 30 min to beat and the song was well done. You won’t necessarily be pulling your hair out. The graphics are decent for an indie game. The typical still scenery gets interrupted with unexpected cinema that seems to have been done by your standard 3d animation. Now I am not saying the animations are terrible, they are better than most indie games. I personally give a thumbs up to Guy Galer, the creator of this game.

For your simple “point and click” graphic game it leaves a little bit of the challenge. Items stand out dramatically which makes the game way too easy. The riddles and maze section also leaves a person saying, “That was too easy.” The story of Lucky is what makes me say everyone should play it. Although the game has personally changed my mind about certain things, I would not play this game again just because of the linear game-play. All in all, Lucky is one of the better indie games for the Xbox Live Arcade and worth the 80 points.

Preview: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale Beta Impressions

Let’s get this out of the way first… Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is not truly a bad game. I’m going to pick up a copy and play the crap out of it for about a week with my friends and have a ton of fun. The problem is, it’s not a game I could ever see be taken seriously, and I really don’t think it will last. Unless there is any true incentive to buy any DLC they might put out, I’ll skip it. It’s really a game that should only be pulled out when you have inexperienced members of your friends or family come over to play. Sadly, I have Super Smash Bros for that, so it’s probably going to collect dust.

What is wrong with it, you might ask. Well, it takes all the generic parts of Super Smash Bros, when it should take the specific parts of Super Smash Bros. This game would be A LOT better if it was a straight rip off of Smash Bros. If you’re going to rip something off, just do it, don’t try to be creative or different, you’ll just end up not being as good. This game is a joke compared to Smash. It feels relatively clunky and the gameplay is bland. There is no point in doing level 1 super move, when you can just do a level 2 or 3 in another minute. The fact that there is no damage and the sole purpose of the game is to smack invincible bodies around makes everyone fearless. I don’t care when I’m being hit. I should, but I don’t. Why? Because it doesn’t matter as long as I’m hitting them at the same time.

When you hit level 2 or 3 you’re guaranteed to kill. It demotivates the other players because it’s nearly unavoidable. Comparable to Smash‘s smash ball, but the smash ball doesn’t guarantee a kill. There is always a way out of a smash ball kill, in this game a level 3 will kill you twice in most cases, making the other player discouraged when he spawns because he knows he is going to die anyway. Discouraging a player is always the worst way to appeal to an audience. Rewarding players is good, killing players is fine… if it happens once. Once somebody dies twice in a row it puts a downer token on their gameplay experience and can completely turn off the player. Smash is better in every way.

Okay, I’m done ranting. What’s good about the game? Well, the cast of characters is bound to leave everybody smiling (except for Crash Bandicoot fanboys). It’s hefty with characters like Kratos, Nathan Drake, Colonel Radec, Sly Cooper, and even older All-Stars like Parappa the Rappa. They all have a versatile set of skills that relate to their abilities. They feel different enough from each other and balanced. I didn’t feel like anyone was really overpowered between the characters I experienced. I did feel like sometimes Kratos had too much power coupled with his range, or Radec’s sniper blast recovered too quickly, but I feel it’s a healthy balance for a game that isn’t supposed to be taken to a serious level.

The two levels I played were pretty cool. One of them, Hades, combined the Hades boss battle from God of War 3 with Patapons charging into battle. Hades seems to stand tall and even effects the gameplay a bit by smashing the ground and sending a shockwave across the arena, when suddenly the Patapons charge into the background and unleash a devastating volley of arrows onto Hades. It’s actually quite entertaining to watch. The other level was Metropolis from Ratchet and Clank and the Hydra from God of War. The level rocks a conveyer belt that drags the players into a spikey grinder. After the match has gone for a bit, the Hydra blasts out from the bottom of the stage and proceeds to smash the players around with his head.

This game isn’t honestly bad, but I can’t see this ever being played on a serious level. I can’t wait to see all the Playstation Fanboys try to argue this is as good as Smash. The characters are nice throwbacks and feel well balanced for this kind of game. The stages are interesting mash-ups and fun to watch. Sadly, this game suffers from poor core gameplay design choices and controls that just don’t fit a typical brawler. They even to a point feel clunky. It also often discourages players and doesn’t offer any strategy other than “slap that guy before he slaps you.” Sure, this is the beta of the game. Despite this, however, the beta is in testing for server reasons, not gameplay reasons. If there are tweaks to gameplay they’ll end up being day-one patches. The game is being printed as we speak. I’d pick up All-Stars if you’re a huge Playstation fan. If you’re not, it’s probably worth skipping it. We’ll see when the game launches soon.

Community: Challenge #1!

I am very pleased to announce two things! The first being, a new kind of article! You can expect Community Articles from time to time that are based around our Bangor gaming community! Check us out on our facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/04401Gaming/! The second being my new contests I am rigging up for all the readers, and to try to drum up a bit more community support. The goal of these contests is to bring the community together and drive power to the gaming community with prizes like Microsoft Points, Gamestop giftcards, and even sometimes a full game!

The contests will be things everybody in our community will be able to strive to achieve. Expect things like the following:

  • Article/Comment writing contests
  • Game night challenges
  • Gamerscore/Trophy contests
  • Video challenges
  • Random puzzle challenges I will occasionally pull out of my ass
  • And much more

As such, I am excited to get this underway! The first contest will be an article contest!

Challenge #1

1) Join the 04401 Gaming Group at www.facebook.com/groups/04401Gaming
2) Share this blog post on facebook!
3) Write a gaming article, it can be an opinion entry, review, rant, etc. Anything you want. Send the article as an e-mail to 04401Gaming@gmail.com

Every member who fills these requirements will be entered into a drawing for one $10 Gamestop gift card! The winner will also have his or her article featured on the blog!

What are you all waiting for? Submissions are due on Friday and the winner will be announced Saturday! Get writing!

As a final note, I plan on turning this blog into a full on Bangor Gaming Community website. Anybody who is interested in writing, designing, or administering the site, send me a message on facebook.

Let’s get going, people!

Opinion: Messages

    Recently, I played through Journey for Playstation 3. First off, all I can say is “wow”. It was an amazing experience and I suggest every Sony fan pick it up. What I’d like to talk about, however, is the ideas that were rushing through my head after the experience. Thatgamecompany has created an artistic masterpiece with this game. The art was beautiful, the gameplay fun, but most of all, the narrative was one of the deepest I’ve experienced in a long time. Journey actually left one of the biggest impressions with its narrative in my heart and mind out of any game I’ve ever played. There is absolutely no talking in Journey. The entire game is based around your thoughts as you play. Emotions were running like a river through my mind as I experienced the different portions of gameplay. I feel the best way to portray this is to share my, well, journey. Beware, this will explain a lot of the game’s events, so don’t read if you want to avoid spoilers.

    I awoke in a lonely desert wearing my robes. I was a pilgrim in the desert, traveling to the top of a large mountain in the distance. I was alone, tired from my travels, and honestly unsure of my potential. As I progressed over the sand dunes, I came across an ancient temple, where I learned I could bring magical objects to life. I acquired a magic scarf which allowed me to fly a certain distance based on how long the scarf was. After climbing the ruins, I endowed magical cloth to help me progress past a blockade. I arrived at the top of the ruins and proceeded to travel onward towards my goal. There was a long bridge leading up a tower, but the bridge was broken and impassable. I noticed several magic cloths drifting around in the wind, so naturally, I decided to wander around and bring them to life to assist me on my journey. As I was summoning the third cloth, I saw someone in the distance. It was another player.

    The other player was also summoning the cloth. After he brought another cloth to life, he looked at me and I looked at him. We proceeded to express our excitement by communicating in the only way we knew how – making primal “beep” sounds with the B button. This was the turning point of my play through of Journey. I realized that this is more than a game. It’s an experience. This player was there to help me. We didn’t know each other or anything about each other. Not even each other’s usernames. But when we saw each other there was something I felt. I saw hope, I saw help, I saw somebody treading the same treacherous path I tread. This is an amazing feeling I am describing. Thatgamecompany has shown me how it feels to be lost and challenged. They proceeded to show me how it feels to have a complete stranger join your efforts and hold you as highly as he holds himself. Through the course of the game, it became clear. We as individuals cared about each other. We were alone on this grand journey with many hardships ahead. We only had each other.

    We travelled over the newly built cloth-bridge and I wondered what we’d see next. I was in awe as we progressed into even greater ruins. The beauty of Journey is something I will remember for a long time to come. A combo of the magnificent lighting, textures and color was absolutely breathtaking. As we continued to solve puzzles and explore the even bigger ruins, we came upon a massive sand hill stretching down the ruins. We jumped on and slid on the sandy slopes beneath our feet. I felt like I was freefalling down because of the intense speeds we had reached. This portion of the game can be described in one word. Happy. I felt sincere emotions of happiness in my mind. My newly found friend and I were doing what can only be understood by experiencing it for yourself. I felt like nothing could stop us as a duo. The sun was setting in the distance and it made the game feel even more beautiful. We reached the end of the slope, but neither of us could have predicted what would come next.

    We fell. Into a dark, lonely, and relatively scary hole. As we came to our senses, I saw beaming eyes in the darkness. We had awakened a flying, serpent-like, ancient temple sentinel whose only purpose was to stop us. Afraid, I ran behind my friend. The sentinel floated around the room looking for whoever disturbed his thousand-year sleep. His eyes were like headlights beaming on a dark and lonesome highway. We hid in small tube-like structures on the ground. As he patrolled the large echoing room, we step-by-step progressed towards the freedom that was screaming our names in the next room. My friend ran ahead to a tube, but right before I could follow the sentinel flew right over my head. This wasn’t good. My friend stopped and looked at me. He was beeping as if to tell me “Go, now, while his back is turned!” I ran and to my relief, the sentinel decided to proceed instead of look behind him. We were so close to the end of the room. My friend had stopped but I was so close I could almost taste it. I ran. Dead sprint. As I looked behind me, the sentinel was nowhere in sight. I was getting closer and closer, and then suddenly the darkness was gone. However, this wasn’t because the next room was bright. It was because the sentinel was looking right at me. Fear shot up into my stomach. I heard the sentinel ball out an other-worldly scream and fly at full speed towards me. My friend beeped as if he was fearful for my life. And with that, I was on the ground. Unable to move. Dead.

    I thought I was dead. My friend quickly came to my aid after the sentinel passed. He used his magic to summon me back from the grave. I was eternally grateful to my friend. We continued up the ruins. After about a half-hour of climbing and puzzle solving we reached the top of the ruins, and the midpoint of the mountain. Snow was down falling onto the land. We fought angry winds and ferocious hails. It was so cold the magic we once held was constantly being sucked out of us. Warmth was the only way to restore the power we once held, so we had to stick together. When we were near each other, our magic would increase over time. We came to a portion of ruins in the mountain. The wind was forceful and tried to blow us over the Cliffside. Luckily, both my friend and I made it across the icy ruins. We came near the top of the mountain. We could see it in the distance, but it was a long walk and we were very tired. We tried summoning cloth to help fly us up, but the magic would run out too fast, and they fell to the ground shortly after coming to life. We had to do this alone. So we walked, and walked, and walked. As we climbed, I noticed my friend started to drag his feet and was getting tired. I looked at myself and noticed the same was happening to me. We were so close, but our bodies couldn’t take it. The snow and wind was too harsh, our magic was out and we seemed to be out of time. Suddenly, my friend collapsed in the snow. I stepped over to him and looked. His body was lifeless. I was alone. Before I knew it, I was on my knees, and then face first in the snow.

    I awoke. I was no longer on the mountain, but in a white room. A powerful being stood over me. He pointed to the top of the mountain and I nodded. He then touched me and gave me enormous power. Suddenly, I was with my friend and we were flying up the mountain as if our magic had completely comeback. We flew up and saw amazing sights. I saw magic beings flying around, waterfalls, and beautiful clouds. Then I looked behind me and saw the journey I had fought, no, conquered. We approached the top of the mountain and we saw what our goal was for the entire game, the light that shone out the top of the mountain. It was beautiful. We slowly step-by-step wandered into the light and suddenly…

    Rebirth. Journey‘s entire narrative is birth, life, death, and rebirth. It all made sense. I was standing in the same spot I started at the beginning of the game, in the desert, alone. Unsure of where I was. This is what made Journey so unbelievable to me. When it all came together at the end I felt an overwhelming amount of happiness. The beginning represents easy going, but uncertainty. The beginning of a newborn’s life. The second represents speed, happiness and fun. This is when you’re a child. The darkness and challenge is a symbol of adulthood and hardships in life. The cold climb to the top demonstrates the elderly age of man and death. The fly to the top represents your spirit being lifted, experiencing enlightenment. Then suddenly, you’re there again. At the beginning with the same challenge you started with. Journey was amazing. It’s a game I’ll never forget and I recommend everybody give it a try. Journey is just an example of how gaming can bring to life some of the most beautiful messages one can conceive. I am excited to see where Thatgamecompany goes next and to see if anyone follows in these amazing footsteps that they built.