Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here comes the New Year...

After neglecting my poor blog for well over a month -a shit-storm of everything bad that shouldn't have happened did happen- I have finally settled everything out (more or less) and can devote myself to my thoughts and writing.

I managed to write a few articles for Multiplayergames.com, submit a few trailers for Examiner.com, and worked on (but never got around to submitting) four articles on misogyny, sexual orientation, and women in videogames (particularly MMOs). I'll get on those ASAP this January.

The coming year is bringing lots of new games to try out as well; games like Bayonetta, Darksiders, Fragile, Final Fantasy XIII, No More Heroes II, Arc Rise Fantasia, and ass-loads more I can't even begin to try and remember.

In any case, the new year is fast approaching (half an hour more, here in New York City). I always said fuck New Year's Revolutions (and I still do), so my promise to myself this coming year is to be honest with myself and tell people how I feel, instead shutting my thoughts up and coddling/ accommodating every needy fuck out there to my own displeasure. I live in New York, after all, nobody here censors themselves like I do, considering how rough and downright nasty people can be in this shit-hole.

I'll need to work on some witty retorts for when the need arises...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blade & Soul at G-Star 2009 game festival in Busan, South Korea!

All I can say is "Holy Shit". It looks like a must-own MMORPG.

I did a little blurb on Blade & Soul a few months back, (here), when it caught my attention with a beautiful video trailer of the world, the premise of the game (Asian myth and martial-arts), and the freaking fantastic artwork by manhwa artist Hyung-Tae Kim. (Blade & Soul is the only game with Hyung-Tae Kim as it's character illustrator where the characters actually look like their illustrations).

I was very much impressed.

At the G-Star game event in Busan, South Korea, NCsoft revealed two major trailers, one which you can see on Examiner.com, and another which was shown in a press conference, which is pretty shitty quality as it looks like it was filmed on a cell-phone.

Nonetheless, the viewable trailer (again, click here to see it, but be sure to come back) shows us four races total, the Jin and Gon, as well as the slender, graceful new Kun race, and the tiny fox-kids, the Lyn.

In addition, four playable classes were announced, the Sword Masters and Kung-Fu Masters (which we already knew about) plus the new Force Masters (gravity and energy type mages) and Destroyers, the massive axe wielding tanks of the game.

Man, the game looks too fucking awesome to pass up. I can't wait for actual gameplay videos to hit Youtube when the game hits open beta.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

God Of War III Vs. Bayonetta; a comparison piece by David A.

A recent article on thesavepoints.com caught my eye. It was a lengthy comparison of the God of War III demo gameplay with the gameplay found in Bayonetta.
Here's a brief excerpt:

"I really wanted to see the contrast between both games, as I’m sure a lot of people will skip Bayonetta simply because God of War III is coming out just a bit later in 2010. In my opinion, that’s a shame, because from what I’ve experienced from the demo, Bayonetta is a much better experience."

"Wait Dave, are you comparing a full game to a demo? I guess I’ll have to call guilty to that one. But wait! I was a strong defender of the Bayonetta PS3 demo before the game came out in Japan, as I believed that the subpar demo was an issue of it being an in- development built. And I was right. So I’m not going to judge GoW III fully before the full game is out either. I’d be too much of an hypocrite to do so. But we can still take a look at design choices for both games and compare them."

"First and foremost, God of War III’s graphics are one of its high point. We can all assume that even as good as it looks running right now, it’ll look better when the game hits us this spring. Nothing to doubt here. The game’s engine is stunningly better at rendering than Bayonetta. Oh, I haven’t looked much at the 360 version of Bayonetta, so I’m always speaking of the PS3 version."

Interesting stuff. Read the full article here.

I'm definitely looking forward to Bayonetta, simply because it's fun. I haven't had this much fun with an action game since God Hand. The entire game exhudes polish, and while God of War is just as polished (if not more so), the gameplay in Bayonetta looks like a brilliant combination of everything great about action games. God of War's combat simply isn't as deep or satisfying.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In honor of Bayonetta's release in Japan...

Yes, Bayonetta is out and about in Japan. Don't know the exact figures, but I read she sold over 100,000 copies on her first day, outselling Tekken 6. Pretty badass. Looks like Hideki Kamiya has developed a game that struck the right chord with Japan (who, for whatever reason, aren't usually as into his games as Americans are).

Good for her, and good for Hideki Kamiya and all of Platinum Games. I would be more excited, but since I have to wait two extra fucking months for the game, I'll sulk a bit, if you don't mind.

Anyway, to commemorate the re-defining of the action genre with Bayonetta's release, I've embedded a little music from the game to whet you're appetite. Here is the Jeanne's boss-fight music.



Track uploaded by wishyyy

I've actually been looking for this track for some time now. Great music.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep trailer!

Brand new trailer from the Tokyo Game show for Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
Wrote a pimp-ass article for it on Examiner.com. He's a small excerpt:

"Birth By Sleep takes place about ten years prior to the original events of Kingdom Hearts,revolving around the Keyblade masters before Sora and Riku. One in particular, Master Xehanort (the old man) as well as his apprentice (Vanitas), disappeared. Terra, Aqua and Ventus, three apprentices and the knights in the secret trailer, were ordered to find him."

For the rest of the article (and the bad-ass video trailer), click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bayonetta's Tokyo Game Show Trailer

Well, you know me. I'm really looking forward to this. So it comes as no surprise that I'm posting more Bayonetta awesomeness



Holy. Fucking. Shit. Hell yes, I want me some of that. January can't come any faster, damned it. Credit to lucasciclope.

In other news, the New York Anime Festival takes off tomorrow, and I'm gonna be reporting there. Pretty cool, eh? I'm gonna focus on the World Cyber Games national tournaments, but there is a lot of shit going down this weekend aside from just that. I'm making myself a schedule in hopes of catching as much of it as possible, and will be reporting at night. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First 15 minutes of Bayonetta

UPDATE!!!!

Sega's Ninja Lawyers, I swear. They took it down pretty much the same day.

Anyway, let me give a somewhat brief and vague description, at least.

The trailer starts off with the old "long since erased" intro, with Bayonetta and Jeanne looking into the far-off moon. An army of angels is fast approaching, and the camera turns to reveal both of the women, standing on a falling clock tower, ready to fight. And fight they do. Holy shit it's cool. As they fight, (and it looks like you actually control Bayonetta in this sequence), you hear about the backstory between clans. Some dispute arose between them, which caused a rift, which led to a war. The Umbra clan was victorious, until they were targetted by common folk and murdered during witch hunts. The Umbra witches were wiped out. All save for one.

Switch to modern day. We have Bayonetta, (in a nun outfit), praying in a graveyard. Enzo, a greasy italian "buisnessman", is talking all sorts of shit. (I swear, his lines are fucking hilarious). Apparently, Bayonetta is summoning the angels down to her, and they respond, with more hilarity from Enzo.

She dashes into the air, kicks ass, and transforms (bombastically), into the outfit we know and love her for. More fighting and Rodin rises from the grave (with a coffin full of guns). Talking, teasing, and still more fighting, and that concludes the intro, and the game dives into more action.

*****

I am literally watching this as I post. So freakin' sweet!

Holy shit it's awesome. I can't tell you how badly I want this game. The second coming of action, indeed.


And here is part 2! Props to Rikarikachu from Youtube for the upload.

Monday, August 31, 2009

For the Lulz

God Hand is awesome. So much so, in fact, that it needs to be said again. God Hand is awesome.

Even the ending credits are awesome. Bow down to the overwhelming (and Hilarious) awesomeness that is God Hand. You cannot resist.



Your brain is no doubt trying to catch up from being smoked by awesomeness. It's okay, it happens to everyone.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Awesomeness I'm not gonna buy

Look, Tomonobu Itagaki is a massive dick. Just absolutely massive. Arrogant to a fault, with no sense of respect for anyone who is not himself, especially towards developers in his same genre.

But, he developed for the X-box 360, and I don't intend to buy a PS3 until it's actually reasonably priced.

So it sucks that, now that Tecmo gave Itagaki the boot, Ninja Gaiden 2 is getting ported over the the PS3 with extra boss fights, new enemies, new weapons, and three new fucking characters.



Oh, well. It looks pretty badass. And you know what they say; you can't win them all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bayonetta broke my heart...

Oh God, it hurts. She ripped my heart out, stomped on it, laughed at me, and poured lemon juice on the gaping wound. My life will never be the same... I don't know what I'll do with out her... I... I....

Okay, enough teenage drama bullshit.

Turns out, because of the shit-storm of games coming out this fall and winter; Modern Warfare 2 (which I'm buying), Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (which can kiss my ass, unless it's coming out on the 360), Assassin's Creed 2 (never got into the series), Demon's Souls (read Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2), and a whole plethora of other games, my sexy little Bayonetta is being pushed back to fucking January.

I'm so pissed about this I could kick a puppy or three.

I can understand, though. Madworld was hella fun, but the sales were lackluster. It doesn't surprise me that Sega is being cautious this time around and releasing its AAA title when there isn't much else to compete with it.

*Sigh*

If that's what it takes, I guess....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Birth by Sleep: Heavy on the Awesomesauce

Well, you may not know this, but I'm a Kingdom Hearts fan. The series took me by surprise, and I really did fall in love with it. It's like nostalgia to the max, re-living all my favorite Disney memories. The gameplay is pleasantly sweet to boot.

What I fucking hate, though is Japanese-exclusive releases. After releasing Kingdom Hearts 2 in the NTSC region, Tetsuya Nomura decided to re-release it in Japan (ONLY), after he fucking said he wouldn't do that. So Japan got a KH2 with new moves, new abilities, new fucking bosses, (like twelve of them), and new areas. Plus, they released it with a PS2 remake of KH: Chain of Memories. Thank God though, that Square saw fit to release Re: Chain of Memories in the States, otherwise I'd have sent Square-Enix of Japan a tasty letter bomb or three.

Anyway, if you finish Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix plus on Critical Mode (the new uber-hard mode), you get this fucking awesome cinematic.


Birth by Sleep is being developed for the PSP. Guess I'll have to go out and buy one now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Even more Bayonetta goodness

You can probably already tell, but I'm a big Hideki Kamiya fan, and a big Platinum Games fan. I really, really hope the team and their games do well.

So obviously, I'm excited whenever anything Bayonetta is released.

On their PlatinumGames website, the team members posts small blurbs about what that specific member does, background design, artwork, etc. This week, the team posted a small vid where Hideki Kamiya answers questions asked on the blog.


Looks like they're havin' fun working on the game.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Magna Carta 2 looks like it won't suck

Really. Magna Carta 2 is looking pretty sex. The gameplay looks like a cross between an Action RPG, and Final Fantasy XII, which is looking very, very cool.


Oh so very cool.

The shitty part is that there are alot of nice-looking games coming out pretty damned soon. And I have, like, no fucking money. Bayonetta, Muramasa, Darksiders, Magna Carta 2, and I know I'm forgetting something or another.

Sad panda = me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Found the Bayonetta trailer again

Yeah. I figured Sega would take down the leaked trailer Gamekyo was hosting. And they pull the trailer down every time someone posts it on Youtube.

Fortunately, the uber secret internet ninjas at 4playerpodcast are hosting it there. And I'm embedding it here too. And maybe saving it on my computer as well, just in case Sega decided to 404-error our asses.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Schedules suck, and a new comment!

Reading up all that E3 jazz has been insanely time consuming, made worse because I'm trying to write about it all.

Anyway, yesterday marks my #10 article published for Examiner.com, so I need to pat myself on the back for that. Read up on it here.

Now, onto more awesome news. I noticed a comment was left under my Misogyny #2 post. Thanks very much Yunafire for that comment. I'd like to address a few points.

-Personally I think Ashe could be a great female lead were she not burdened with seeing her dead husband every five minutes

-I would agree that Ashe could be a great female lead too. She is head-strong, ambitious, and a skilled fighter to boot. Her husband is a major motivator for her, as well as the restoration of her throne and people. As far as the ghost-husband thing, well, that's actually a story related vision she gets which I won't spoil for you. It's much more than just dramatic effect.

-And she can't wield the big, heavy Sword of Kings, only the smaller thinner ones. Ahem, symbolic imagery, much?

-About the Sword of Kings: well, it's a big fucking sword. Absolutely massive. I think that she couldn't use it in the cutscene was simply to imply how big/ heavy the blade actually was. I think she can weild it during the game, though can't she? (I though I equipped her with it during play, only to find that it sucked).

And about her not handling big and heavy swords, but only small, thin ones, well that just implies.... that she can't handle.... that she's not.... I wont get into that, LOL. I know what you mean though, innuendos and all.

The problem with Ashe is the problem I have with FFXII; the story is much too sparse. It really does feel like an MMO, where you play with only tidbits of story given to you at critical points. Some elements should have been introduced much, much earlier. (Venaat, and the Occuria), and some elements needed expanding. The characters in particular get just enough screen time to establish their personalities, but I don't feel any genuine development as the story progresses. They're just... there. The game doesn't focus on the war or it's people much either, (again only at critical points), so in the end I walk away from FFXII wanting a bit more.

So I wish we knew more about Ashe than what little the game gives us. If she and the other characters had more screen time, and more life and emotion in the scenes that they are involved with, than the story and characters of FFXII would be excellent.

-Oh, and on the idea that Balthier isn't pretty enough for yaoi, I'm here to tell you, that's far from the case. And I only know that through...uh, research. Yeah.

-About the yaoi thing, well lets just say I know full well how pretty and, um, open minded Balthier can be. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but, yeah.... But I think the fact that he is a suave, smooth-talking badass makes him harder to relate to, (for the average teenage FF consumer), than a blunt little teen-prick. Who is prettier. And less manly.

-To me, Vaan isn't the main character at all. He's merely a way for the audience's questions to be answered.
-I hate Vaan. He definitely isn't the central character, but that the story is told more-or-less through his eyes irks me to hell. He's unnecessary, or at least he would be if we were given Balthier or Ashe instead.

Glad you liked the post, and thanks for reading, Yunafire and all!
Happy father's day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Bayonetta trailer!

I noticed GameFAQs' Bayonetta forums were buzzing yesterday and learned, much to my disappointment, that a brand new trailer for the game had been leaked to the public before it was intended to be shown. No doubt it is being saved for E3, 2009.

Well, I missed my chance to see it. (Hence, the Disappointment). Fortunately, for the moment Gamekyo is hosting the trailer. So I'm embedding it here too!



UPDATE:
Yeah. Sega took it down. Sugar-doodles. Oh well. I'll find it again, eventually.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Business trips suck.

Been to Ecuador to resolve an inheritence hiccup on my mothers behalf. Crappiest two weeks I've had in a long, long time.

Worse still, I missed out on E3, only the biggest gaming event in the Americas. God-freaking-damn.

So now I'm playing catch up; reading up on every new bit of info that's been released these last two weeks.
*Sigh*

Anyway, I posted 4 new Examiner articles while I was away. Check them out!
Read 'em NOW! LOL.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little MadWorld In Your Life


A little bit of awesomeness, by the name of "MadWorld". It's on sale at Gamestop for $30. Check it out!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Check Me Out

I've been featured on Examiner.com! http://bit.ly/HipGamer. Pretty cool, eh?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Like Women. Really.

I've noticed that as of yet, there aren't too many good female mains in videogames. No, I don't mean "main" like love interest main, as is sadly the case with most games and movies nowadays; I mean lead character. Typically, your standard leading lady is a big-breasted, under-clothed strumpet who tries too hard to be sexy and badass and falls flat as a character because of it. Lara Croft, Ayumi, Nariko, Rachel, etc. All eye-candy with crap personalities and attitude.

However, there is one female character who is not only my favorite woman in videogames, she stands as one of my favorite videogame characters of all time, right up there with Zidane from Final Fantasy IX. This woman is Lenneth Valkyrie.

Lenneth is the central character in "Valkyrie Profile", an RPG developed by Tri-Ace, and published by Square-Enix. A lead in a genre dominated by males, Lenneth is a powerful character, being the Goddess and reaper of the souls of the slain. She is strong, proud and confident, possessing something of a superiority complex, but she is counter-balanced by her sealed humanity, the meek, shy and insecure girl she was during her life as a human.

As the story progresses, we see Lenneth grow emotionally and dynamically; she begins to doubt the will of the Gods, and develops a deep bond with the souls she encounters during her mission, until at last her humanity is awakened, and she faces down the threat to her world and her people.

What's really cool, aside from playing as a God, is that Lenneth doesn't have to whore herself to the player with skimpy outfits or giant tits to win any favor. Her character and story alone warmed me to her. She is badass because her personality is badass. No nonsense, a strong sense of right and wrong, and when she regains her humanity and memories, not even the Gods can stand in her way.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Sexy Bayonetta Goodness

As you probably already noticed, I'm pretty damned excited about Platinum Games' upcoming title "Bayonetta". It's being directed by Hideki Kamiya, the director from the first Devil May Cry. If you've played the first DMC, you'll know why I hold that game in such high regard, and why I'm expecting Bayonetta to be the Second Coming.

But even if you haven't played DMC, (and really, any action gamer worth his/ her salt should play it; it's like 6 bucks at Gamestop), Kamiya was also at the head of Viewtiful Joe and Okami. Platinum Games itself is comprised of many ex-employees from Capcom's studio "Clover", (they developed God Hand, by the way). Surely, you've at least heard of these critically acclaimed games, right?

Anyway, a few weeks back, Platinum Games released the third Bayonetta trailer, titled the "First Climax Trailer", (seen here). Yesterday, Hideki Kamiya did a commentary on the First Climax Trailer, walking us through the flashy preview's many scenes and gameplay segments.
Check it out!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Opinions are like Butt-Holes....

Yeah, yeah. You know the saying.

I post regularly on the GameFAQs forums, not only because of it's plethora of game news, but because it's such a great amalgam of voices, all shouting, debating, and speaking at once. I often find myself lost in thought, taking in all the opinions and ideas I pull from others there.

Anyway, a discussion regarding Star Ocean's story came up again. (Yes, I'm going to beat the dead horse). As you already know, I find S.O.'s story, it's overall presentation, and it's characters to be God-awful. Many in the forum agree, and drop a lengthy post about why they think so. Obviously, there are others who disagree, or find complaining about it pointless.

Some on the forum argue that gamers are not writers, and as such have no right or capacity to judge a games' story. Others argue that we don't need a degree in writing to judge a games' story, only our own extensive backgrounds in gaming. (I agree with the latter statement, though a degree is nice).

And, at the end of the day, I'm paying money for the game. It is a product. Why don't I have a right to complain about the product I'm purchasing, if it's flawed? If you ordered furniture, only to find the delivery service had broken a chair, would you suck it up and keep it? Of course not. Likewise, if I don't bitch, how will the developer know they shitted (shat?) in my case and called it a video game?

That's right, they won't. Bitch, gamers. It's your right.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Voice acting: The Gift and the Curse

The first video game I played was Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo in 1988. I lived in a 2 family house, and our landlord lived below us on the first floor. He had two sons who were my first friends, through the passing of time has clouded their faces from me. Rondel and Ruel were their names. The two had a plethora of games, and they introduced me to the lot of them.

Back in those days, it was common for games to have stories. However, they were usually brief back stories to the game proper, and tucked away in the games User Manual, which gamers discarded the minute they opened their game. So in reality, imagination played a major part in the games story. We were given a name, place, and time, and essentially set free in the games' world. Voice acting was very, very uncommon, mostly because of the limitations of the hardware in those days.

The advent of the PlayStation introduced larger, meatier system specs., and the expansion into the world of voices really took hold. Voice acting added a new level of immersion to games that could only be achieved before through our imagination. In fact, there are plenty of die-hard fans out there who adamantly reject voice acting in their favorite series,simply because they feel voicework would ruin "how they imagined it would be". (I'm looking at you, Zelda fans).

The problem with video game voice-work is the same problem that Anime faces: the crappy Voice Actor (VA). I feel that voice work has gotten gradually better over the years. It is rare that you get games with really bad VA's. (Click here for hilarity). As you can see, there are instances where the VA's are genuinely bad, or miscast, or simply don't give their performance there "all". Voice acting then becomes one of those things you define by it's bad, instead of it's good.

Now, I'm not condoning crap voice work. Quite the contrary; I am very critical of games regarding both their stories and their VA's. However, unless the voice work is miserably bad, I don't let these criticisms interfere with me playing my game. It just doesn't get to me like it would the typical wapanese otaku. I do understand, though, that bad VA's can easily ruin the immersion aspect the game was trying to achieve in the first place.

Mediocre though many claim American VA's to be, I sure as hell don't want to listen to Japanese VA's, who follow nothing but archetypes. Added to the fact that I don't know a lick of Japanese, and you have an unfun-filled gaming experience.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Storytelling" in games: Part 3?

It's been a while since I touched the subject, but my train-ride from work got me thinking about it again.

To date, my favorite Japanese RPG has been, and still is, Final Fantasy IX. Why? Because as far as plot and presentation, I find it's the most uniform, and well thought out.

What it comes down to is style. FFIX presents it's world through pre-rendered backgrounds and areas, as did all Final Fantasies of the PS1 era. Because of this style, the scenes were relatively static. You walk and move your character through what is essentially a painting, with "walls" coded into the game to create the illusion of surface and space. So you couldn't "move the camera" or center the view behind your character; what you see on screen is all you will get.

Developers worked around this by creating multiple backgrounds for certain areas, and automatically shifting between screens as you approached borders. This was also implemented during story-scenes, which of course, gives the scenes a much more cinematic appearance because of the "dynamic" view shifts.
video
Lastly, as you can see above, FFIX and plenty of other videogames employed FMV. Essentially computer generated movies/ shorts, these play during dramatic or important scenes, and are wonderfully directed and exciting.

The result is a great mix. The story scenes go from simple, one camera scenes, to shifting perspective and panning scenes, and finally the FMV, which can be as dynamic as a real movie. But the beauty of FFIX, at least for me, is that the story is not overbearing. Perhaps because its because the story is presented through text/ speech bubbles, that the dialogue never gets annoying, as it does with voiced scenes. The FMV's are always a treat to watch, and the cinematic panning and shifts can still catch me by surprise. Maybe the variety of methods the game used to tell it's story made it so easy to enjoy.

I'll need to chew on it some more....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Misogyny? In My Videogames? Part Tres

Let's wrap this matter up, before I go off on a tangent.


Here's the thing: Sex sells. It sells porn, it sells movies, and it sells videogames. And you can hate me for saying this, but it's not all bad. There is a good kind of sexy, and there is the tactless, shallow kind. Bayonetta, for instance (see the trailer in my "On a Lighter Note" post) is a heavy sexual trip. Innuendos abound, over-the-top sexiness, partial nudity, and God knows what else will be in the final product. However, its sexuality is so rampant and silly that the game can't be taken seriously; it becomes almost parodic.


Blade and Soul is another game with scantily clad women. But notice too, that many of it's men are scantily clad. This is Hyung-Tae Kim's style. He draws in a style that pretty much ignores any anatomic accuracy, in exchange for a look or feel. Which is why his characters are either hulking and half naked, pretty and half naked, or pretty, half naked, and massively boobed. It's like he captures everything I'm writing about in one art style.


So I judge a games tact based on balance. Either make the sexuality so over-the top that it's silly, or make everyone half naked. That way, everyone wins. Or loses?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Misogyny? In My Videogames? Continued...

You see, men are divided into two camps in videogames: the "pretty boy", and the "manly man". There is no in-between. Japan in particular is notorious for super-prettying its males in videogames. In many cases, the only way the untrained eye can tell if a character is male or female is breasts. If the pretty character in question has breasts as big as footballs, it's female. Anything less, and it's male. The "manly" male characters are usually massive, 7 foot tall monstrosities that eat muscle for breakfast, and have jaws so great and square you would think they've partially swallowed a brick.


Well, so they're exaggerated a bit. No big deal, right? Well, not quite. In both cases, the characters are objectified, though the females get the worst of it. The women characters typically are more valuable as a walking pair of titties than as an important aspect of the story. Myuria in Star Ocean could have been left out entirely and no one would be the wiser. The only people who would notice would be those familiar with the Anime genre, who would wonder where their giant tit archetype went. Women typically wear a lot less than the men do, even when it makes no sense. So you're a woman knight, huh? Well, you're hot and all, but... uh, why is your midriff exposed and un-armored? Won't that be the first place you're enemies target? Of course, it gets a lot sillier than that.


Men are objectified as well, though. There is huge appeal in the markets (I'm looking at you, Japan) for the pretty male character in games. There is always at least one. Final Fantasy XII, for instance, was originally designed with Balthier as it's main character (a rather stylish air pirate in a badass embroidered vest and slacks). However because of the "pretty boy" demand, the story was told through the eyes of Vaan, a scantly clad teen in armored pants and a tiny vest. (I'm talking 10 sizes too small). And no shirt either, just the vest. The reason for the change, I can only surmise, is because the developers knew the Japanese fangirls wouldn't stand for a non-pretty main character that be couldn't paired up in yaoi fanfiction and art. (Or maybe not, who knows?)


Manly men are designed to appeal as well, but not in a particularly sexual way. "Manlies" are essentially the idealized male. Massive muscles, big jaws, "I'm gonna kill you" attitude; (cookie cutter stuff, really), these are the dudes men wish they could be, but are too lazy to put the effort into becoming. So you get to live out your muscely murderous wet dreams through the character instead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Misogyny? In My Videogames? Part One

My last post net me an interesting comment. Now, I like bewbs as much as any other guy (maybe a bit more than the other guy), but I play videogames for the immersion; to be able to lose yourself, if only for a moment, in another world. Call it escapism, or a distraction, or maybe even running away; I really don't care. Anyway, part of the whole immersion process comes from the games presentation; it's graphical, aural, and artistic appearance. Games that look and sound good are easier to get into than games that don't. The other aspect of immersion is the gameplay. Challenging gameplay, tight control, clever level designing, etc. all contribute to the "feel" of the game, which again, allows the player to really sink their teeth into the whole experience.

We have to keep in mind that Video Gaming is an entertainment industry, just like Film. As such, developers must focus not just on making entertaining games, but good-looking games too. Sexy games, even. Just like Hollywood cakes its actors' faces with makeup to make them more flawless and appealing, so too will developers "pretty up" its characters for the same effect. Fortunately for developers, videogame characters are complete fabrications. They are as flawless as they are designed, essentially.

So how do you make a flawless character more appealing? Exaggerate, of course! Make the hips wider! Make those legs thicker! Pinch down the waist! Her breasts need to be as big as her head! And why is she wearing so much clothes? For female characters, size is everything. Breasts are usually #1 on the super-size list. Developers have the fortune, as I said before, of working with fabrications. They don't need to hide "imperfections" ; they design their characters without them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On a lighter note...

I noticed my last few posts were rather negative and, well, pissy. I suppose I've just been having a crappy week. So instead of focusing on the disappointments in gaming I've been coming across, let's look on the brighter side of things.

Platinum Games' "Madworld" was released a few weeks ago, and looks bloody awesome. While I haven't picked it up yet, I will when I get my tax return.

With Madworld, I'll also be picking up the "Legacy of Ys" for the DS, just because "Ys" is an insanely cool series that, unlike Zelda, actually knows what it is and where it wants to go with its gameplay and story.

A brand-spanking new trailer for "Bayonetta" was released yesterday, seen here:
video
Damned sexy, as you can plainly see. Hideki Kamiya is at the helm of this project, the father of the first Devil May Cry, and Platinum Games is the developer, the same Platinum of "Madworld", who coincidentally, were originally team "Clover" at Capcom. So yes, these guys brought us DMC, and Resident Evil, and Viewtiful Joe, and Okami, and God Hand, etc. You can expect frantic, fast-paced, challenging action goodness from Bayonetta, to be sure. I know I am.

Another game to keep your eyes out for is "Blade and Soul" a Korean Mmorpg, being developed by NCsoft. What makes Blade and Soul cool as hell is that it's an Oriental Martial Arts MMO, set in an obviously Asian fantasy world. I read it's based loosely on the Korean myth called "Song of Genesis", which I can only assume is a creation myth (?). What's more, Korean uber-artist Hyung-Tae Kim is doing the artwork for the game, whose asian flair suits the game's style to a freakin' tee, as you can see by the image to your left. Now, they haven't stated whether or not they'll bring this gem of a game here to the states, but come on. These guys made "Guild Wars", "Lineage", and "Aion", among other titles. It'll happen. Behold the beauty that is "Blade and Soul" in its trailer here:

video

And lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I was paid this week, finally, for all the work I've been doing for a friend these past few months. A very respectable check indeed, and I'm in a much better mood now because of it. I wuv money =)

Have a great Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eiji Aonuma needs to stop developing "Zelda": Redux

As I left off yesterday, Windwaker was flawed, but not a bad game. Certainly not the worst of the Zelda's I've played.
Anyway, a few years after The Wind Waker, Nintendo attempted to address TWW "problems" (read: the art style), by making Zelda more "realistic" graphically. Which means it looks like 3d manga, which as far as I'm concerned is the ugliest graphical style this side of Japan. They called this little "gem" The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Of course, none of the real issues with Wind Waker were addressed, except length. Combat was still simplistic and unimpressive, traveling was still tedious and boring ('cept you ride a horse this time, intead of a boat! See, it's different!). What's more, the story got JRPG'd, so now we get long, boring, poorly editted garbage cutcenes. Jeez, at least Wind Waker had charm.

So you see, I've become disillusioned. The once epitome of Adventure is now scrapping the bottom of the proverbial barrel, not even trying to keep up with developers who innovate and invigorate the genre; instead sticking to a model that is two generations too old.

I really think they need to get the father of Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto (and only Miyamoto) to direct and supervise the next Zelda, because it's obvious Eiji Aonuma has no damned clue what he wants to do with the series. Seriously, there are trains in Zelda now. Trains. In a medieval fantasy setting. Yeah....

Either that, or give future projects to the Capcom team that developed Oracle of Ages/ Seasons, and the Four Swords series. They did a fine job with Zelda, which is ironic considering a third party developer (Capcom) develops better Zelda games than the in-house, "Mother" development team.

Ass-backwards, I swear.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eiji Aonuma needs to stop developing "Zelda"


Alright. At the risk of sounding crazy, stupid, or both, let me say this:
I hate Zelda.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do not like the Zelda series.

But wait! Don't leave yet! Let me explain.

I remember back in '94, when my father drove me to some dark, grimy electronics shop (more like a friggin closet) and asked me what game I wanted. I forget the occasion for this, but I know that, because I saw my neighbor playing it, I wanted to play it too. "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". So the disgruntled shop (closet?) owner pulled a brand new copy of Zelda out from his filthy case, and my father shelled out $65 bucks for it. But I didn't care, I was the happiest little snot-nosed kid in the world.

To this day, Zelda: A Link to the Past, (Alttp), is still my favorite game. I dust off my Gameboy Advance once a year to play through it. So what happened? Why the Zelda hate now?

Honestly, I was let down by "The Wind Waker". Much too short, the last segment (the Triforce shard bullshit) was tedious and felt rushed on the developers part, sailing was less fun and engaging than watching paint dry, and the combat was the same simplistic crap as "Ocarina of Time", the first successor to Alttp. I did like Wind Waker's art style, though everyone and their mom ragged on it and it's cel-shaded, "kiddy" style. And it wasn't a bad game, at the end of the day.
To be continued....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Storytelling" in games, Continued

The Star Ocean series, and quite a few other Japanese Role-playing Games (J-RPGs) I've played, have poorly conceived and/ or written stories. They are often unnecessarily convoluted, overly melodramatic, and terribly edited. I get the impression from watching the story scenes that developers try to cram as much garbage as possible into the games cutscenes because they have some mistaken idea that more content equals better content. Thus, unnecessary tripe that should have been edited out of a games story, isn't.

What's really frustrating, though, is that I feel that the developers aren't even trying. After all, why bother getting creative when you can spoon-feed your audience the same tired crap you fed them before, and your audience gobbles it up regardless? We need writers and developers who don't mind getting creative with the stories, and don't mind trimming the fat down just enough to keep us wanting more, and not forcing forty minutes of dialogue and cutscenes down our throats. Characters who resemble the archetypes of the genre, but through their actions and speech and mannerisms, are as complicated and interesting as the genre will allow.

To hell with petitioning the developers. Writers unite! We can crap better stories than they can dream!

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Storytelling" in games. Who writes this stuff?

Seriously. I just finished Star Ocean 4 for the X-Box 360, and can't help but feel extremely disappointed by the story. If there is one thing that always bothered me about the "Star Ocean" series, it's that all the "alien" races in the games look almost exactly like humans. Pointy ears does not an alien make. So you mean to tell me that completely different ecosystems on dozens of planets millions of light-years apart produced sentient beings that are all nearly identical to one another save for ear-shape, at almost the same time? The odds are ... well, ridiculous. Suspension of disbelief = no longer suspended. It makes no bloody sense.

But then again, J-RPGs are often developed with the anime-fan in mind. Plenty of anime archetypes are recycled in J-RPGs, and so too are the stories and general style. This explains why so many of the characters feel so goddamned similar. It's all modeled after something else. The J-RPGs job then, is to make it's story and characters as interesting as possible, without straying too far from the mold. Star Ocean 4 doesn't get it right, though. None of the characters are interesting enough for me to care about them. A hero with a "strong sense of justice"? The strong-willed but quiet female companion? The seductive assassin looking to avenge her dead love? The silent, arrogant badass? The obnoxiously loud (and terribly dressed) cat girl? Yeah. I think I've seen this all before....

Us writers need to submit something to these developers. They need some fresh blood.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothin' like a swift kick to the balls....

Really. Anyone on the receiving end will agree, that there is nothing quite as painful, or as humbling, as a proper testicle-booting. Except maybe playing Capcoms tough-as-nails "God Hand".

This is one of those games though, that leaves a lasting impression on you. An action gaming experience you will remember, and in my case, compare all other action games to. Yes ladies and gentlemen, God Hand is a "good" kick to the balls.

It is probably the most challenging game I've played in recent time. The beauty of the gameplay though, is that frustratingly hard as it is, I never cried out "cheap" or "unfair" like I do when I play Ninja Gaiden, (or sometimes even Devil May Cry). I weave, side-step, and back flip out of any attack the game throws, and if I get hit I know is was because I made a mistake, and not because the game nails me with an attack I couldn't avoid.

What's more, the gameplay is tight. By this I mean everything you need to conquer the game is at your fingertips, but necessary for you to utilize. Easy to access and use, but hard to master. This makes the game feel tight; everything has a purpose, everything fits.

If you are an action buff, you need to play this game. It belongs in you game library, not cold and lonely in some bargain bin. It needs some love!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why is it so damned good?


Alright, I admit it. I'm a little late to the party. 

I played Okami only a few months ago. (Sue me). But damn, did it leave an impression on me. Anyone who has played it knows why. It's friggin beautiful. The art direction was brilliant (Japanese watercolor? Seriously?), the music was actually good ( I find that too many games get away with crap music), the story was interesting, as were its characters.  Who can forget Mrs. Orange "Raging Demon"-ing her stove to whip up some cherry-cakes for you? The incredible battle with the demon Orochi in the cave shrine? Or Nine-tails on Oni-Island? The sense of awe and warmth at Ammy's recovery, thanks to Issun, during the final battle with Yami? Whats more, the gameplay is solid, if not a bit easy. But hell, I can forgive ease; it's an adventure game, after all, not a hardcore action game. 

What makes Okami such a classic is the fact that the game is a brilliantly polished "whole-package" of a game. Every major aspect of the game, control and gameplay, sound, story and pacing, characterization, is all done beautifully. It is what I would consider the adventure game "ideal". Okami had everything that it needed to do the be a good, memorable game, and it executed it wonderfully. 

What this amounts to is a gaming experience I have not witnessed since my completion of Zelda, A Link to the Past, back in 1994. Okami is now the game I use to compare all other games in this Genre, that's how wonderful it is. If you still have a PS2, I highly, highly encourage you to get this treasure of a game. (It was ported over to the Wii as well, but I heard the port was kinda choppy and unresponsive regarding the Wii-mote controller. I haven't played the Wii version, so I can't say for sure).

Of course, it's not perfect. But the minor gripes feel so insignificant compared to the whole of the game that I may as well not even mention them. So I wont. Buy Okami if you haven't already. Buy it. Now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gaming tirade. Where to go from here?

Console gaming today is a radically different entertainment medium than it was over twenty years ago. The hardware used for gaming has evolved and grown tremendously since the 8 bit days. Games are capable of performing and delivering graphical and audio experiences unlike games before them because of the tremendous processing power of the gaming systems of today.

As such, story telling and graphics have taken enormous strides in games; indeed, many games nowadays are less like games and more like interactive movies, with on-screen button prompts triggering scripted attack scenes and such.

Since gaming has evolved, the target audience changed. Many of the older gamers (myself included I suppose), are much more patient at learning and playing games, having learned to play and master the uber challenging games of old. Younger, newer gamers want as much bang as possible for their buck, without committing much to actually learning how to master said game. They expect flashy graphics and simple, easy-to-get-into-and-finish games. So there is something of a rift between gamers; those "hardcore" gamers, who appreciate genuine challenge, who study the subtle nuances of the game play and stick to it until they succeed, and the casual gamer, who picks up a game, plays it to his or her content, then moves on to the next game with little to no commitment.

There is a rift among developers as well. There are the more free-style type developers, who create games that are fun for them. Then there are games that the developer makes to appease a certain market. The "casual" game, which uses generic archetypes in as flashy a manner as possible to appeal to as many gamers as possible. I call these the "one-night stand" games. Jump in, do your thing, and walk away. No commitment required. Catering specifically to the casual.

Where do they go from here?