It\’s all in the Mind
A gaming blog discussing the current trends of the gaming industry and the games that drive it.

Jan
06

Here’s every game I have played this past year, old and new.

I will rate on a scale of 1 to 10.1 – feces
2 – horrible
3 – Horrendously flawed
4 – Slightly below average
5 – Average.
6 – Slightly above average

7 – Suggested if you are a fan of the series or franchise or game creator
8 – Suggested if you are a fan of the genre
9 – A game that transcends standard gaming molds and delivers an unique, unforgettable gaming experience
10 – Classic

If it’s a .5 that means it’s ALMOST to the next point, obviously.

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Jan
06

I hope we all know about Killer 7 and it’s controversial, messed up, and or unique gameplay/story/whatever. To keep the story short it’s an on rails action adventure with fps combat. The game pits you behind the mask of a psychotic assassin who sports multiple identities which you can manipulate.

The result is one of most charming and inspired games last generation. It’s quite a game, and I don’t understand the hate. Yes, it’s on rails, but what exactly is wrong with rails? Have the detractors of the game ever played a shmup? Or Panzer Dragoon? Or Rez? Or even Time Crisis? On rails gameplay is unique so that it constantly offers the game a good amount of action. This keeps Killer 7 from being boring in the gameplay department; the level, enemy, and character variety makes it even better. Furthermore, despite being on rails, the game does the same thing you’d do in most modern action adventures. The difference being you can’t exactly move where ever you want. Still, pressing A to go forward is no different from pressing up to go forward. Pressing B to turn around is no different from pressing down and going backwards, and best of all, K7’s control scheme is so smooth I don’t see how it’s a problem in the first place really.

And then there’s the story. This game is exactly how I like my game plots: mature, unique, with extemely varied themes and topics; K7’s ensemble ranges from rape, organ trafficking, corporate commercialism, and politics in general. It’s a pretty beefy story, and the best part is that it doesn’t shove a cutscene down your throat every 5 minutes, it paces itself ever so softly, while feeding the player bread crumbs to keep them going and yet..it still has impact. Killer 7 packs some extremely questionable content and makes me wonder why other games haven’t brought up the topics it mentions, and even though it has such debatable content, it never lets go of the humor in it’s dialog. The other great thing about the story is that it’s like a puzzle: half the fun of the game is figuring out what the hell is going on and yet, the story isn’t too overly convoluted when you come down to it. Let’s just say that Killer 7 has a really smart story and put it at that.

Each level (chapter) feels like it’s very own episode. This game is like Cowboy Bebop the game for me, where every episode is not related but still offers something to the grand scheme of things. As you continue through the game, engaging with NPC’s you unravel the plot ever so slowly, and it keeps the player always guessing. I like this a lot and it gives me more anticipation the more I continue through the game.

It is a shame that this game is as under appreciated as it is, because it’s too good to warrant the scores it received. The fact it bombed so hard that I bought it for 9.99 NEW is even more sad. While I will definitely say it’s probably hate it or love it, the amount of people that [i]love[/i] Killer 7 is such a small number and I really don’t understand why.

So, for the sake of debate here, what exactly is wrong with Killer 7 and why was it not so accepted by the mainstream press and the public? Is it because it’s too wierd? I’d actually consider that a reasonable argument as some may find it way over the top, but I haven’t gotten that feeling with the game and I actually [i]like[/i] how weird it is. People often say “great experience, but bad game” but I don’t understand that, because it’s fps combat and boss battles are some of the best I’ve seen from most games lately, extremely clever stuff, definitely more creative than 99% of the fps’ on the market. The puzzles that are featured in the game are Capcom staple puzzles, and anyone who has played a Capcom game since Resident Evil knows the drill: find puzzle pieces to stick into doors and the like. It’s really only there in this game to give breathing room between battle gauntlets though, and they’re definitely less nonsensical than what we’ve become accustomed to in past Resident Evil titles.

I guess some games just aren’t destined to be appreciated by the masses, but I definitely think K7 deserves better. It’s like I’m the only person who likes this game.

Oct
22

I have to apologize for my lack of updates. With school and work, I have been too busy, and quite frankly, too lazy to update my blog. Since my last entry, I have done some major thinking as to how I will direct this site’s future. If you have any suggestions please bring some up, but all I can say is look forward to the coming months!

Anyways, as the title of the entry suggests, I’m interested in pre-ordering a Wii. I missed out on the earlier pre-order day at my local Gamestop and I’m looking for any way I can snag one.

Nintendo has gone on record to officially state that there will be 2 million Wii’s at launch, but for some reason I have a feeling it will be a lot harder snagging one than we initially thought. The number one reason for this is the game that’s brewing on a lot of gaming fans minds’ right now: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which many feel will probably be a worthy sucessor and spritual sequel to the highly regarded Ocarina of Time.

Pre-orders currently, for me atleast, are a complete mess. The only store that’s apparently going to be taking pre-orders anytime soon is Toys R’ Us (TRU). Upon entering my area’s TRU, after quizzing the workers in the gaming section, I came to the conclusion that most selling this thing still don’t anything about it’s release. I was told that there will be no pre-orders at TRU, and that the basis for buying the new console would be first come, first serve; Which is a complete contradiction to many internet reports saying that TRU will take pre-orders October 29th (my 21st b-day!).

So what’s going on? How am I going to solve this? Will I be able to get a Wii at launch? Gamestop has a pre-order limit, Wal Mart doesn’t allow you to pre-order, nor does Best Buy or Target, and now it appears I can’t pre-order at TRU? I can only hope that what these TRU workers told me is a miscommunication issue on their part.

Either way, I have the feeling that come November 18th I’m going to have to pull out the sleeping bag, because I’m camping out. Which is unfortunate.

Oct
01

After many complaints regarding my Okami review, I decided to sit down and rewrite some pieces in it. Hopefully this version will flesh out most of my problems with the game, while still showing that I appreciate what was done here.

Hopefully this time, I won’t end up getting banned anywhere. 😉

Sep
27

Xbox 360’s conference held in Barelona this year has already garnered some of my interest. In a press release today it was announced that two Xbox Live Marketplace expansions for Grand Theft Auto IV would be released exclusive on the 360, each within months after the game’s release. Apparently, according to the press release they’ll both be in the same quality as Liberty City Stories for PSP. That’s a hefty amount of new content!

Banjo Kazooie 3, pending name, was also announced, with a short mini trailer uneviled. You can find the media on this here: http://media.1up.com/media?id=3041789

Halo Wars, an RTS made by the same developer of Age of the Empires fame. Personally, I have never played an AOE game but any type of strategy game is welcome to me, on any console.

 And finally, HD-DVD player will be available for Xbox 360 consoles as an add on for the price of $299.99, and bundled with King Kong (for a limited time apparently).

It seems that Microsoft waited to show it’s big guns for X06, as expected. Further updates will be reported as news is released throughout the conference.

Sep
27

New screens of the psycho-thriller adventure game Alan Wake over at Xboxyde.

http://www.xboxyde.com/news_3593_en.html

The game looks startling. Amazing even. But that is not enough for me, my friends. Do we know anything about how this game plays? Have we seen any videos of in game gameplay footage? One of my pet peeves are previewing games for months at a time with little info as to how the game plays. The gameplay is what gets me to buy games so why exactly are the developers playing around acting like all people will buy games if the graphics are good?

Sep
26

Sorry for the late entry.

It seems next gen isn’t all that bad. The latest Tokyo Game Show was a very interesting game show indeed. While there weren’t many new game revelations, what was shown definitely has my interest.

Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon definitely impressed me from the footage I viewed. Although LO is rough on the edges in some spots, it’s still relatively early in development. Devil May Cry 4 also gets me drooling, being a big fan of that series. Ninja Gaiden Sigma, a (another)  remake of the original Xbox Ninja Gaiden is up there as well.

While Xbox 360 as of now is my number one choice for next gen consoles, the other two have some interesting games going for them as well. Although it’s a shame Wii was absent from TGS, a couple of PS3 news tidbits completely made up for it. However, I still can’t get over the turtle like approach Sony is taking with next generation. There are two more months until launch and we know hardly anything about the console’s features, online plan, connectivity, or backward compatibility. Is Sony just playing around? Because they need to get to business.

And while the games on PS3 definitely interest me, I have noticed they’re mostly all sequels. Although they’re sequels to games I know and love, I would prefer seeing new IP’s rather than old ones when the new Sony console arrives. Heavenly Sword, White Knight Story aside, the lack of original exclusive IP’s on the Playstation 3 is unsettling.
If I was to make a list of my TGS 06 winners this would probably be it:

1. Lost Odyssey (x360)
2. Blue Dragon (x360)
3. Devil May Cry 4 (ps3)
4. White Knight Story (ps3)
5. Virtua Fighter 5 (ps3)
6. Yakuza/Ryu Ga Gotoku 2 (ps2)
7.  Lost Planet (x360)
8. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (x360)
9. Eternal Sanata /Trusty Bell (x360)
10. Earth Defense Force 3 (x360)

Sep
26

Okami has been hyped to hell and back for the past 2 years. A Capcom game developed by Clover, directed by Kamiya – the head honcho for DMC, RE2, and Viewtiful Joe; that sounds like a recipe for success. An action-adventure title that throws in a couple of Zelda gameplay concepts with a new and innovative drawing gameplay mechanic? Nice.

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Sep
17

I’ve heard from a few game developers that the first level is always supposed to the best level. It must be something that wow’s the audience, to have them keep playing the game.

I remember reading a very detailed analysis on this in a blog by a God of War developer, and as we all know, that game has quite possibly one of the best game opening levels in history. The first level has been debated as the most important level in a game but is it really as important as they say it is?

Personally, my ideal game is one that starts out rather good at the beginning, and ends up being an absolutely amazing experience with a roller coaster of emotions near the end. If you have all the best parts at the beginning, it leaves the player with little incentive to continue playing as it gets duller, more drab, and in many cases, repetitive.

You have a two edged sword here: you could just as easily mess up the game completely if not careful, and this is true in both cases.

Jet Set Radio has some of the best pacing seen in a game. The first few levels feel standard, but as you continue playing the game it surprises you with interesting takes on the earlier levels.

Jet Set Radio has some of the best pacing seen in a game. The first few levels feel standard, but as you continue playing the game it surprises you with interesting takes on the earlier levels.

On the flip side, Final Fantasy IX's first disc has possibly some of the best moments in the entire series, but after that the game seems to fall flat at an alarming rate.

On the flip side, Final Fantasy IX’s first disc has possibly some of the best moments in the entire series, but after that the game seems to fall flat at an alarming rate.

Do you give the player all the abilities he/she needs to work with at the beginning, or do you give a good number of abilities at certain points in the game? Should we show the best moments in the game here, or there? I’m pretty sure pacing is one of the more tricky parts of the development process.

Recently, I played Yakuza and that game has some admirable pacing in terms of gameplay. The game starts out standard at first, but as you get deeper into it’s juicy treats, it starts to open up a wide vary of possibilities, making the game only better as time progresses. At the same time, that makes the game hard to get into when you go back to points earlier in the game, because you’ve experienced so much better it truly hurts to see the game again in early stages.

On the same token, games with extrordinary beginnings tend to fall flat as players delve deeper into them.

It seems the answer here is a good balance,which is something many games lack. With all the other things that go into game development, pacing seems to almost always feel irregular and inconsistent to me. This entry could come off as more of a mental note, but I really am curious how and why developers design certain games like this, whether it’s on purpose or not.

Sep
17

I am mighty impresssed with what Nintendo has been able to accomplish with the Wii so far.

1. The most third party support out of all the new consoles.

2. The most varied roster of the three as well.

3. Decent price range, if not perfect.

4. Nice sounding features, excellent interface;etc.

As of now, at this point, it seems that Nintendo has learned from most of their mistakes in the past 10 years. The reason: the fact they have first handedly admitted to giving up on the next gen console race, by offering something new to a completely different audience as opposed to the gamer that resides in each of us reading this blog entry right now.

However, as easily as Nintendo could suceed with the Wii, it could just as easily sink like  a rock. Who is to say that American and European people (not just gamers, as they are not Wii’s target audience) will gobble Wii up? I think the Japanese success of Wii is a given. But appealling to Western crowds may be a little trickier.
I think I will be first to admit that I have always had a sort of indifference to most Nintendo consoles. I was Sega kid when I grew up; and during, before, and after that point I rarely ever put much stock or time into non portable Nintendo hardware. So with all this Wii hype, I’m really quite shocked that I’m so interested in Wii when, in the past, the games they have released were oft hit or miss with me.

I think in the end I’m just interested in getting that “magic” back. I am usually the first in line to bid against the usual nostalgia oriented fans and archaic, conventional gameplay. I am also more passionate as a gamer now than I was 10 years ago, but even I can admit a lack of magic in games these days. Whether it’s due to over exposure, the fact I’m growing older, or the fact that all forms of entertainment lose their spark after awhile, I don’t know what it is.

Perhaps the reason why everyone is so into the Wii and it’s potential is to relive the days when we were all just getting into this new form of entertainment in the mid to late eighties?

As of now, the next step of revolutionizing gaming isn’t the graphics, it isn’t the controls, it’s the way we approach our games and use them in our everyday life. That, in my opinion, should be the highest goal of any game developer. How many people do you know honestly think of games as a viable art form or medium? Not many do you? What is with these silly double standards? You can say you spent your whole day inside watching nothing but Football on tv, but if I say I spent all day playing an rpg I’ve been looking forward to for years I get funny looks?

The next step for pushing gaming forward is to abolish these funny looks.  Funny fact: Most houses do not include video game consoles with their main entertainment center. They’re usually in a seperate room altogether. We’ve hit a billion dollar profit per year with our industry now. Now is the time to make the people who don’t believe understand why it’s so damn fun to play them. That is Nintendo’s goal and I whole heartedly respect that more than anything I’ve seen from any gaming hardware maker in years. That push, that drive, that love. Whether the Wii suceeds or not shall be determined by how many people have video game consoles sitting in their entertainment centers.

If it fails, atleast they tried. But if it works, we’ll all be able to look back and wonder why we were so worried in the first place.