When Monster is sleeping, you can use his belly as a trampoline to get to unreachable locations
I know that it has been quite a while, but after a long hiatus, I hope to get back into writing, as there are some games coming out in the near future that I truly believe deserve some attention that might get thrown under the rug, or brushed away. This isn’t necessarily going to be a new feature, but I do want to adapt the way that I wrote before in lieu of a more mature, insightful look at the games that I have decided to discuss. Seeing as the main area where I play games is on Steam now, most of my selections will be from there, and because of the way that release happen, this means that some of these games may have already been out on other platforms for a while, and are re-releases just coming to steam. For this weeks installment, this is exactly the case, as the game that I want to discuss is an indie gem called Papo Y Yo, which released on PSN back in August, but recently got a steam release (it came out on the 18th).
Now I have always been a fan of games that try to tell a story that (at least attempt) to speak on issues that are more than just surface level. In many ways, the tone of a game and the way that it carries itself can turn a game that I enjoy into a game I absolutely love, and this is what initially drew me towards Papo Y Yo. I heard about the premise of the story (a young boy who is confronted with taking care of a docile monster whose addiction to frogs turns him into a raging beast) and the ties that it had to developer Vander Caballero, and decided that I needed to try it for myself. Without going into too much detail, the ties to addiction are something that I am very familiar with, so I wanted to see if a game that focuses on this could capture the feelings that I had when I dealt with similar issues.
But when he eats a poisonous frog, his demeanor quickly changes
The answer that I found was that yes, it did, to a scary degree. While there may be a few issues with the game technically (the controls aren’t the best, and the graphics are not top notch), I could instantly look past, as the game reached me in ways that other games never have. If you look at most of the reviews, nearly all of them say that while there are issues mechanically (which is to be expected with the size of the team that they had and the type of game world they developed), these are the type of stories that need to be told, and I couldn’t agree more. To be completely honest, the first time that I saw Monster eat the frog and start chasing right towards me, I felt a really weird sense of realism that I had never really felt in a game, but the depression that I initially experienced was soon quelled because I realized that I wasn’t alone in this experience. While Vander’s experience may have differed from mine, the fact that there was even a game out there period was more than enough to really entwine me deeply within the games universe.
This type of feature is something that I will continuously try to hone, as I think that there is quite a bit of room for improvement, but if you don’t have any feedback that you want to give, or your personal experiences with the game, feel free to let me know in the comments below, or you can email me at tagros.ariablarg.tv (if you want to keep it private). Hopefully this will be the first in a long line of blogs, and I thank you very much for reading!
Developer Vander Caballero was never passive about how this game was strongly informed by his life as a child
As I sit here waiting for it to hit 9 pm (when Tomb Raider releases on Steam for the West Coast), I wanted to do a blog about a game that I have been playing a bit of recently. Unfortunately, I have been massively busy with work the past two weeks, but I have still been able to fit in time for a gem of a game that goes by the name of Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. For those that don’t know (which I assume is an extremely small portion of people reading this article), Runner 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the indie smash hit Bit Trip Runner. I actually ended up preordering the game on Steam after I got back from Pax Prime because of how impressed I was with what I saw, but for those who only have knowledge of the original, I will tell you a few reasons why I think you should check out its sequel.
The art style has changed quite a bit from the original version
First off, let me know that the gist of the game is the same. It is still an endless runner and still has extremely tight timing for some of the jumps, which makes gameplay range from fairly simple to absolutely excruciating. One of the biggest things that they added was a checkpoint about halfway through the level, which honestly, is a lifesaver. In the first game, you could get to the very last jump, and if you accidentally slipped up, you were all the way back to the beginning. Luckily, the checkpoint can lessen some of the anger that you may get towards the game, but it can get infuriating if you miss a gold piece and hit the checkpoint, because it means that you pretty much have to start the whole level again. Another pretty big addition is the fact that in certain places, the map will split into two parts where there is an easier and a harder route. These tend to not have very important consequences outside of the fact that you can earn more points if there are more obstacles on the map, but it is a cool addition, and sometimes it can lead to secret areas!
Another cool feature is that the three worlds in the previous game have been expanded to 5 worlds, with multiple levels in each world. Each of the different worlds have quite a bit of charm and character, and each world offers a new character that you can unlock. They all play roughly the same, but seeing the different skins is pretty cool and adds a personality to the worlds. You can also collect costumes to put on each unlocked character, which can make your runner completely different from your friends. I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty big fan of customization, so this fact really drew me in. What do you think of Runner 2 though? Have you played it? Do you want to? Sound off in the comments below!
The “retro” sections are much more few and far between, but still provide quite a challenge
Chances are that if you are even slightly informed about games, then you have heard the news: PlayStation 4 is a reality! But outside of the reveal of the controller (which I do think is very impressive), was there really much of a shock with today’s announcement? I mean, sure, at the core, new hardware being announced is big, but was it really a surprise? We all knew that new systems were coming out extremely soon (as this current gen has pretty much reached its peak), and it just seemed like everyone and their mothers knew about the announcement before it was official. The best way that I can describe this is through a story that I experienced.
Say hello to the DualShock 4. It’s like the DualShock 3…but touchier
A few weeks ago, me and my friend were wandering around in the mall, and happened to go into a GameStop. I wasn’t look to purchase anything, but I wandered around, and when my friend was buying something, I noticed something on the counter. It was a clipboard that read “Sony is having an announcement on the 20th, put down your email so that we can email you with the news”. Now I don’t know if you read this the same way that I do, but I saw this as a sign that said “Hey, the PS4 is coming out and you can pre-order it first if you put your email down on this sheet”. The hype, for all intents and purposes, was gone.
It’s hard to explain why, but there just seemed like there was absolutely no mystery behind the release of the console. Heck, there were people who thought that it would be able to be released in holiday 2012, so a holiday 2013 release seems completely reasonable. Because they (Sony) announced first, they made a smart move by making their release date Holiday 2013, because if they had announced sometime in 2014, they would risk the chance of Microsoft making a counter announcement. What I mean by this is that if they announced a release date of 2014, then Microsoft could come out in a few weeks and announce a Holiday 2013 release date, which would put them hugely ahead of Sony in that people would flock to whatever the newest console is, no matter the brand. But regardless, Sony announced the hardware with a very strong release date, and it seems like the launch titles will be similar to current gen, where many of the titles coming out around that time will be released on both PS3 and PS4, but the number of exclusive titles made for the PS4 were not necessarily revealed.
DiveClub was one of the few games revealed, and it’s like you’re actually driving! Like a real car!
One thing that did somewhat intrigue me were price points that are apparently being thrown around. Kotaku posted an article saying that their sources believed that there would be two main price points: a $429 system and a $529 system. I can only guess, but I think that these are both pretty safe estimates, as I could see a roughly $600 ticket for a system and a game being a good selling point for the holidays. Obviously it will be priced better than the Wii U, so that puts you up to about $400, and I can definitely see the premium system that everyone wants retailing for about $500 (close to the $529 alleged price).
Overall, I was pretty on the fence about the conference. Obviously, any big announcements will be saved for PAX East or E3, and while the official announcement was interesting, it just seemed like it was so obvious that I couldn’t get excited for it. I do have to say that the reveal of the controller intrigued me, and I cant wait to get solid price points (which I assume will happen at E3 with the reveal of the actual box), but what do you guys think? Were you really excited to hear about the new hardware? Do the (alleged) price points seem like something that you could get behind? Sound off in the comments below!
A big portion of the changes come in the fact that you will now be playing the role of town mayor!
If you know me well, chances are you know my opinion on the Animal Crossing series. I think that it is truly one of the best all around franchises out there (despite the fact that changes made may not be as extreme as other series), and each iteration is something that I look forward to. My love for the series started with the original version that was released on the GameCube (for this articles sake, I am leaving out the version released for the N64 which was only released in Japan), because it captured something that I hadn’t really seen in any game…endlessness. Because of the way that Animal Crossing is played, there is never an end, and you can play as much or as little as you wanted, but the game would still go on. Shops in the game closed at hours that shops in the town that I was living in closed at, and my 10 year old mind was completely blown by the fact that a game could imitate reality so well. Of course, there were some obvious differences (largely in the means of anthropomorphic animals), but the gameplay intrigued me to play nearly every day, as I didn’t want to miss anything that was happening in my town.
The next version came in the form of Animal Crossing: Wild World, and while their weren’t any drastic changes to the formula, it did not lessen my excitement for the game. I am positive that it remained the longest time in my DS, as there was always that intrigue that the game would still be the exact day as the calendar, and that intrigue lead me to come back time and time again. The changes that they did make were enough to satisfy me, but the main reason that I got so excited was the fact that I could not only play more animal crossing, but I could play it on the go. Long car trips would go by quickly as I fished or dug up fossils, and there was always the incentive to pay off my debts to Nook in hopes that I could get that next house upgrade.
As you can see, the character models have changed a bit too (they are a bit taller and have more “legs”)
Because of my hand, I was unable to play the Wii version, as it required a Wii mote and nun-chuck, but my excitement was reinvigorated when I heard that they would be releasing a new animal crossing game for the 3DS. To be honest, I was not completely sold on the 3DS, but the promise of a new animal crossing (in addition to other IP’s) really sold me on the system. Fairly quickly after the 3DS released, I picked one up and waited to hear more news about the new Animal Crossing. Conferences came and went, and no news was released, outside of the statements that they were still working on it. A few screenshots were released, and skepticism started to build, as the changes that were being made were quite drastic, and this lead me to wonder if perhaps they may have bit off more than they could chew in terms of making a game that couldn’t be released. Luckily, it soon got a release date in Japan, but as far as us on the Western Hemisphere, everything was still silent. Every time that Reggie Fils-Aime popped up, I pleaded for news to come out about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but I was constantly let down.
Then came the most recent Nintendo Direct. These are often used to announce new Nintendo games that are being released, so it was the perfect time to announce the release date for New Leaf. We waited through Iwata’s discussion on Luigi, AND WE WERE FINALLY REWARDED. If you read the article posted by Kitsune, then you know that the release date for North America is June 9th, and I could not be more excited. There has not been a game that I have looked forward to more than Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and I am so glad that it will finally see our shores. The changes that they have made seem incredibly fresh, and I really think that this will end up being the best Animal Crossing game out there. Since the release of the 3DS, I have been waiting for this game, and I cannot wait to finally have it in my hands! Is this a first day pick up for you too? Leave your opinions in the comments below and we can discuss our excitement levels for the newest entry in the Animal Crossing series!
There may be quite a few changes to the game, but that doesn’t mean you cant still waste some time fishing with your friends.
This week, I wanted to take a bit of a departure from the games that I usually talk about, to talk about another game that has been taking up an incredibly large amount of my time over the past few days. Now, I will say that I have maybe not given my 3DS the love that it deserves, but recently a game was released called Fire Emblem: Awakening, and since then, I have been absolutely hooked. If you do not know, one of my favorite game genres of all time is the “checkerboard” style of tactics games, a la Final Fantasy Tactics. In fact, I sunk nearly 100 hours into Final Fantasy Tactics back in the day, and I was not even tired of the game at that point. That specific type of gameplay just really seems to resonate with me, which is a large reason why I found Fire Emblem (and XCOM: Enemy Unknown), so intriguing.
This type of checkerboard gives me so much happiness
To be completely honest, I really like my 3DS, but the games that were on the verge of being not enough to warrant a purchase. I truly believe that Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game that can sell the system however. The gameplay is tight, and while the actual battle screen may not look the nicest, the cutscenes that play out whenever an enemy or ally attacks are extremely well done, and the graphics look extremely good for a 3DS game. Upon purchasing the game, I found myself draining the battery within a day or two, which is a testament to how much I ended up getting addicted.
Perhaps my favorite part of the game is that if it is played in “Classic” mode, any character that dies is just that, dead. They will not come back, and outside of a few main characters, a dead character will not result in a game over screen, it will just result in one less character in your party. This means that your favorite characters very well can die, and if they do, that is the last that you will see of them (unless you reload a previous save and try to do a battle differently.) This “perma death” system is pretty interesting (it is also in XCOM), and really tailors gameplay to who you want to keep alive and protected.
Donnel is ok, because he has a pot on his head
Overall, I did not know that I would end up finding Fire Emblem as intriguing as I have. I haven’t really played many other Fire Emblem games, but after hearing very good things about this one, decided to give it a shot, and have not been disappointed. Anything that can hold me off until my ultimate 3DS game comes out (Animal Crossing New Leaf) is very welcome in my book, and Fire Emblem has been able to fill that gap quite wonderfully. If you are a veteran of the series, or just a fan of tactics/strategy games in general, I would highly recommend checking out Fire Emblem: Awakening, as it truly is one of the best experiences currently on the 3DS.
If you recall back a few months ago, there was quite the hype about an android based console, that was set to “revolutionize” the gaming sphere. There was quite a bit of fanfare when the Ouya was first announced, which led to a very successful kickstarter campaign. Then, as unfortunately as it may sound, it went the way of many kickstarter projects that reach budget: silent. Well, this morning, that silence was broken, and an announcement regarding the Ouya was made, which included the price point for both the system and a controller (the system comes with one controller already), the retailers that will be carrying the Ouya, and the tentative release date.
Could this be the harbinger of new systems?
For those dying to know numbers, the Ouya is going to be $99, and that includes the system and a controller. Each controller themselves will then run $49, which is pretty standard of controllers of current gen platforms. As far as where it will be carried, many of the traditional sites/stores will be selling Ouya, among them being Amazon, Target, Gamestop, and Best Buy. This is pretty standard, but does allow for Ouya to get out to quite a large audience, as most everyone has access to one of those four retailers. The last thing that they mentioned during the press conference was the release date. For those that backed Ouya through kickstarter, they will be receiving their system in March (yes, next month). For those who pre order the system through the website, the tentative release date is June 2013, although a set date has not been marked in stone. To be completely transparent, I think that the Ouya developers are using June because it is traditionally a very weak month for games, which will add to the fanfare of the system. With GTA V locked into mid September and no other real heavy hitters coming out, I think that the Ouya is banking on a weak month in order to gain a foothold before the really huge games start coming out, and more importantly, before details on next gen consoles are released. What do you think of Ouya though? Will you be picking it up/pre ordering it? I would love to hear your ideas on what you think of the console and how it will do!
If you want to pre order the Ouya, you can find it at its site, here.
Another week has come and gone, and the world of games has made a pretty large step, despite the fact that there were not many large scale releases this week. The largest piece of news perhaps from the last week was the THQ settlement, which sent all of the studios held by THQ to other companies, while THQ itself will cease to exist. It’s really an unfortunate thing, as THQ had a pretty bright future looking ahead, but I will try to write a specific article about that sometime in the near future. The focus of this blog is a game that I have really been looking forward to, and finally got my hands on, and that is a game called Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Mitey is one of the first monsters that you get, who can fight your battles for you
Now most people who love RPGs have at least heard of this game, or at least know it by the fact that it is the game that is produced partly by Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli. For those who know anime, chances are that you have either seen, or at least heard of, My Neighbor Totoro, which is just one of the many astounding productions that Studio Ghibli has done. Because of that name being tied to the game, I was very intrigued since it was announced, and before I heard a solid release date, was actually quite worried that it would never make it to the US. These type of JRPGs often times do not see the western hemisphere, so hearing that it was coming made me quite ecstatic.
After playing a couple hours of it, there are a few things that I wanted to touch on. So if you have absolutely no idea what the story is about, it is essentially that you, a boy named Oliver, must embark on a fantastic journey in a world parallel to Earth in order to save someone close to you. There are a few more nuances to the story, but I don’t want to ruin much if you are planning on playing the game for yourself. The gameplay actually plays quite a bit like Pokemon, in that you have your own character (Oliver) that can cast spells, but you can also summon monsters that can do your fighting for you. Many of these monsters are quite a bit stronger than Oliver, and managing them well (they have a time limit that they can stay active for) is key to defeating opponents.
this demonstrates the fighting system where your monsters fight for you
The art style is absolutely top caliber in Ni No Kuni, and really does not disappoint. While the Studio Ghibli sections are a bit more sparse than I may have liked, the rest of the animation is great (it is done by the gents over at Level-5 (the makers of Professor Layton)). The worlds look spectacular, and each of the enemies looks very unique, which adds to the spectacular aspect of the game. If you are a fan of RPGs at all and are looking for a new addition, I would highly recommend checking out Ni No Kuni. It is a JRPG through and through, but if you are looking for that type of game that will last you for a very long time, this is the game for you. The only thing that may detach one from the gameplay is the fact that it is very child oriented (Oliver says the word jeepers, like, a LOT). If you can get over this fact though, I think that Ni No Kuni delivers an experience unlike much else on the platform, and is definitely something worth taking a look at.
The relationship between Drippy and Oliver really gives the story weight