Tuesday, 29 April 2008

that DS figure skating game

apparently *did* get a US translation after all, although it's slightly buried under the label of the 'Imagine' line, where it will get less attention from japanophiles like me.

Not officially out in Europe for a couple more months (extra translation time probably) and I expect I have enough to do at the moment that I don't have to get it right now. OTOH it will cost twice as much in Europe so I may import it...

IGN Review

Monday, 28 April 2008

choose your own adventure games

Inspired by the Lone Wolf post here.

I don't think the idea of CYOA is unappealing to people, even now. But the genre is not as commercially bubbly as it was. Why is that?

Most of the books, even the well-written ones, weren't that special. Writingwise, I mean. They were full of a lot of things *happening*, often rather exciting things, but short on meaning or things to think about. They generally weren't full of passages that you want to linger over lovingly. They're not all that appealing to read again, once you've found all the endings and 'won' the book.

And even if you wanted to just read, you probably can't. You'll end up bogged down in page-flipping (and dice-rolling, if it's one of the books that included combat) and while these things were exciting the first time, on a reread they're obstacles getting in the way.

So - they're sort of throwaway entertainment. Read them, enjoy them, give them back. I went through all the CYOAs in the school library at a rapid pace and had a great time and didn't want to keep any of them. I do own plenty, of course, but if I read one without buying it, I had no interest in buying it later.

Books have gotten more expensive. At the school book fair long ago when my parents told me that I could *not* have a stack of 25 CYOAs (I tried!) they cost about $2 each, maybe less. Sure, sure, inflation, but the point is that $1.50 is small enough that even a kid like me who doesn't get an allowance can imagine scraping together that much money out of change found lying around. And I bet a parent today would be even less pleased at a stack of 25 modern CYOAs for $7 each. Ow.

The computer just plain does it better. The more complicated CYOAs required you to keep track of a lot of data when paths crossed and recrossed. 'If you have the red berry, turn to page 36.' The computer can keep flags for you, it's a lot easier.

There were a lot of websites for a while (maybe there still are) for people to write and share these things with each other, completely free. It's simple - especially if you're only aiming for the 'throwaway entertainment' level. So to that extent, the genre is still popular, just becoming less commercial.

And then there are visual novels, which generally move away from the Whiz Bang Pow action plots of the CYOA and into more character-driven stories... with a lot more meaning, and easier to savor on replay as well...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Peggle 100% complete up through stage nine, only two more left to go.

Friday, 25 April 2008

the little details

The problem with this comic is that it fails to take into account the few seconds in which you can hear the unmistakeable sound of an incoming shell and go 'Oh, bugger' before you get blowed up. :)

(Although they're playing the Wii version, and I have no Wii. I'm just happily DSing away. It's less fun now that I only have the computer to play against, but I'm currently working through the missions mode.)

Pop Singer RPG

Well, actually, it's an Idolmaster clone. Sort of. Find and train your idol singers to make them stars! I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but it looks pretty cool.

Game Website

vroom vroom

Been spending a lot of time playing mario kart DS lately. Am not too bad at it - I generally beat the other player in multiplayer matches with the CPU set to hard even if I don't always beat the CPU. I'm not very good at the whole slide-dash thing, though, and never got the hang of it at all until I played mission mode and had to.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

do as I say, don't do as I do

Peeking at the comments relating to a new hidden object game release, almost everyone hates it. Crap. Terrible. Waste of time. No one would ever pay for such a cheap cashing-in.


... they do.

(Which probably just goes back to the old 'don't listen to the vocal guys on your message boards, they don't necessarily represent the masses' but is still somewhat disheartening. I agree with the internet wackoes. Why are the masses still buying this?)

back in the day

Discussion on game design and game history, and the differing expectations of players then and now, especially of casual players versus arcade players, who got very little for each quarter...

This Youtube Video shows a run at a game I was quite fond of - Mr Do. Now, I played the Coleco version, not the arcade version. The arcade version is insanely hard. I've tried it on MAME and I really can't get very far, even though I was quite fond of this game in its friendlier home format...

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

otaku time

The Escapist is currently doing an issue on various Japanophile influences. Of potential interest are articles on: Yaoi and Magical Girls

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Saturday, 12 April 2008

what are we teaching our children?

So I'm looking at a game called Jane's Hotel.

Now, as I mentioned long ago, I don't 'get' time-management games. They're all about duplicating boring repetitive jobs. I don't have a boring repetitive job, I don't want one, and I certainly don't want to play one. (Although if in the real world, boring jobs fired off stars and sparkles and praise as often as the games do, people might enjoy them more.)

So on the one hand, I'm not sure these are the sorts of aspirations I want to be passing on to young impressionable minds. But more importantly, from my perspective, the writing in these games tends to be awful. Not just dull, but a grammatical nightmare. This isn't really surprising, because many of these games are developed by people whose first language is not English.

But the thing is, children learn language through seeing and hearing it used by others. My own language skills were influenced by the fact that I read a LOT as a kid. (My spelling was also influenced by reading, which caused some trouble at school over British/American variation.) Loading up kids with this terrible muddled Engrish is not exactly setting a good example. Portals wouldn't approve games whose graphics were as messed up as the text is... Why do they approve games whose English is so awkward you can't even understand the directions? (Not this particular game, but there have been some.)

People make such a huff and fluff about the supposed effects of violent games on children. What about the effect the READING in games can have on children? It could be good... but in the current state of affairs at portals, it's actually rather bad, and some of these 'child-friendly' titles have NEGATIVE educational value...

Friday, 11 April 2008

pay attention to your game mechanics

So, I'm playing through a match-3 game called The Rise of Atlantis - the basic gameplay idea being that you have to make matches on the board in order to move special bonus items down the board and off the bottom. A timer is counting down and you must get all the bonuses off before it runs out.

Generally match games reward you for matching more than three in a row and for creating combo chains, where the blocks falling in to replace one match cause another match and so on.

In this game, matching more than three in a row gives you special sun power which will eventually be used like a smart bomb to help knock out stubborn tiles in your way. This is a very desirable thing.

The problem comes in with combos. Combo chains count for extra score points, but they have no gameplay value, they don't help you make progress towards getting those bonuses off the board. Worse, they take time. The timer continues to run down while these chains go off - and while combo chains are going off YOU CANNOT MOVE OTHER PIECES.

So you're *stuck* there watching the game go
as the chain goes on longer and longer and YOUR PRECIOUS SECONDS ARE RUNNING OUT and you can't do anything about it. Bad game designer. No biscuit.

This is especially annoying because at times the random generator seems to go all silly near the top of the board and drop match after match from the ether - so you couldn't possibly have seen this coming or have any idea how long that chain's going to be.

vroom vroom

A relative dropped off her copy of Mario Kart DS, so I can now say that I'm playing a DS game that doesn't involve the stylus.

However, she lost the manual somewhere, so we're not terribly sure how the multiplayer vs battles are supposed to work, and just drive around a giant cake looking confused.

I can't think of much to say about it really. It works, it's cute, it feels less fun somehow than the original mario kart on the snes, probably because I am spending my entire time staring at the minimap on the bottom screen (I navigate better that way?) and therefore don't actually SEE the game very well. Maybe I should stop doing that, I don't know.

zork zork zork

If the simple phrase "It is dark." makes you immediately want to follow up with "You are likely to be eaten by a grue.", then this may amuse you.


Sunday, 6 April 2008

remember, friends...

... they make hentai games for girls, too.

(although certainly not all otome games are 18+. Some are just romances, like the ones I more commonly discuss here.)

If I had a wii

this little fantasy town-sim sounds cool. The Final Fantasy brand doesn't mean that much to me really, but the overall idea looks cute.

On a vaguely similar note, previews for Construction Quest on the DS are promising, as long as it's not too difficult. I have shamefully casual tastes on my DS. Small bursts of hard are okay as long as there are no major setbacks - those mystery dungeon RPGs where you have to start over every time you die are NOT for me!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

a game about panties

Run through a school, seeing how many skirts you can flip up. Harder than it sounds! My wrist got tired... wait, that sounds dirty, doesn't it?

Play It Here

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Money for Dirt

As seen on Tales of the Rampant Coyote: Videogames Made Me a Criminal!, some trashy newspaper is bribing people to write stories about how video games led them to a life of crime, so that they can write a smear piece about how evil the industry is.

I'd like to see someone turn this on its head while technically answering the request - I'd like to see someone write in about how video games made them turn to a life of PIRACY.

"I wanted things, and didn't want to buy them, so I stole them... and then I stole more and more..."

You can get all the sort of dirt these tabloids want without making up lies about the industry. And while hopefully making piracy look tacky and addictive? :)

arranging the cups and balls

Sometimes one wonders if GameSpot intentionally harangues certain low-budget games just so that they can have a reputation for being harsh when it counts in order to counter certain accusations of reviewer payola on the big titles.

Take SunAge, for starters. The score seems deserved, if it's really as totally buggy as the review claims. I wouldn't know, I'm really not into RTSes. It's the details I'm wondering about.

The reviewer keeps harping on how out-of-date the entire game design / visual style is, in a childishly snarky way that sounds like the author really wants to be writing for SomethingAwful's ROM Pit. And insists that the comic book art in the cutscenes is the "worst comic art this side of early '90s Marvel" without saying a thing to explain what's actually wrong with it (failing to match the story? All characters look alike? Grossly distorted anatomy? Important details lost in murk?), and with only one screenshot that appears to have perfectly adequate art.

To which all I can say is - The game sucks, but so do you.