I’m Not Really Sure What They Were Smoking…

•May 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Does anyone else remember the Ecco the Dolphin video games? They’re the video games where you play as a dolphin who goes to Atlantis/back and forth in time to fight aliens and save the world and rescue all you’re dolphin friends.

I remember playing them back when I was a little kid and my brother had a Sega Genesis (I cried when he sold it) and lately, I’ve been reading about the series and even watching some Let’s Plays on the Internet. And, uh, they’re a lot weirder than I remember. Maybe that’s just because I never got very far into the games back when I was a kid – though I do remember the part where the other dolphins get stolen by aliens and also when you go back in time and have a pteradactyl help you go places – but there is a lot of weird crap that goes down in those games. Rereading that sentence, it speaks to the game’s weirdness that alien abductions and dinosaurs are the less weird elements of the game.

But, yeah, if you don’t remember/have never played Ecco the Dolphin and have some time to kill, I’d suggest looking for some gameplay videos and seeing the insanity for yourself. There’s aliens, and time travelling dolphins, and flying telepathic future-dolphins, and Atlantis and impossibly ancient lifeforms that give you super powers. And, yeah, probably drugs were involved at the planning stage.

Also, the Ecco games have awesome soundtracks.

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Characters I’d Like for the New Smash Bros.

•May 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Nintendo has announced that it’ll announce stuff about the Wii U/3DS Smash Bros. games in the near future – I’m sure not sure if the date corresponds to E3 or not, but either way, it’ll be soon. In light of this, I thought I’d list some of the characters I’d like to see to see in the game. I think a few of these are plausible, if not outright likely. A few are just wistful thinking on my part.

1. Ghirahim – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

I’ve made it no secret since I first played Skyward Sword that I absolutely freaking love Ghirahim. He’s one of my favourite villains ever, one of my favourite boss fights ever and I would love to play as him in Smash Bros.

It would make some degree of sense to have him play like a faster, weaker Ganondorf given that he’s sort of designed as the anti-Ganondorf (svelte and effeminate to Ganondorf’s power and virility). On the other hand, it would also make sense for him to make use of a sword, given that he fights with/is a sword. It’s also established in Skyward Sword that he can shoot waves of magic, so incorporating that into his moveset would be in character and give him more range than most of the other sword-wielding characters in Smash Bros. (who are either from Fire Emblem or are Link)

2. Chrom and/or Lucina – Fire Emblem: Awakening

Honestly, given how popular Chrom and Lucina are, I think this one is actually pretty plausible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Smash Bros. replaced Ike with either or both of the main/most popular characters from Awakening, given that Awakening is the most recent game in the series; I can’t see them getting rid of Marth, since he’s from the first game in the series (I think) and has seniority in Smash Bros itself over Ike.

The way I see it, Chrom would work like a midpoint between Marth and Ike, being stronger and more durable than Marth, but less of a  truck with legs than Ike. Marth and Ike, and presumably Chrom in the event of his inclusion, pretty much have the same move set and gameplay style (though Marth and Ike have different side-B attacks and Marth does extra damage if you hit with the point, rather than edge of his sword). One of two of Chrom’s attacks might be notably different, but he’d almost certainly carry on the tradition (which isn’t entirely surprising, given that his sword originally belonged to Marth). Or they could give him his Great Lord outfit to open a few more possibilities (likely rising from the fact that as a Great Lord, he has a shield and spear).

As more Lucina, she’d almost certainly be a faster, weaker Marth and is probably more likely than Chrom of having a (mostly) cloned move set (but apparently Nintendo has been working for less cloned move sets since Brawl, so maybe not). If both make it into the game, what I think would make the most sense if having Chrom as a Great Lord and having a more distinct moveset than the other Fire Emblem characters and having Lucina as a female Marth. I’d also get rid of Ike, not because I don’t like Ike, but because I like Chrom and Lucina more than I like him.

I’ll actually be pretty surprised if at least one Awakening character doesn’t make it into the next Smash Bros.

3. Riki – Xenoblade Chronicles

Riki is not, in fact, my favourite Xenoblade character (that honour belongs to Dunban, whom I’ve taken to lovingly referring to as “The  Ban Hammer”), but given that he’s an adorable, yet strangely badass, ball of fur, I think he’s the one who would most unironically fit into a game as off-the-wall as Smash Bros. Having one of the human characters (like Dunban), I think, would lead to a pretty jarring situation with a fairly seriously character for a fairly serious game surrounded by magic robots (which, actually, kind of already happened in Xenoblade itself). It’s the same issue I had with Snake in Brawl (but, of course, that Snake was so out of place made any fight with him in it hilariously awesome)

I’ve actually heard rumours that at least Shulk (the main character) is going to make it into Smash Bros, but I have nothing to lead me to believe that the rumours are at all true, though I think it’s definitely a possibility. Hoping for Riki is an extension of that, as I would be entirely satisfied with Shulk and his magic God Sword, but I would absolutely love Riki in Smash Bros. I would love watching him spit poison at and/or eat Pikachu.

4. Yuri Lowell – Tales of Vesperia

In case you haven’t heard, Namco is helping to develop the new Smash Bros, and are the owners of the Tales games. It’s been confirmed, or at least implied, that third party (which probably means Namco) characters will be included. This, of course, has precedent with Sonic and Snake in Brawl. However, even so, this one is mostly wistful thinking on my part. Vesperia was, for one thing, an Xbox game (though mostly being in PlayStation games didn’t stop Snake), so I’m not sure how likely it would be for Yuri to get into Smash Bros. Especially if the game is going to feature Namco characters, I think it’s pretty inevitable that there’s going to be some Tales character in the game. And I would love it to be Yuri, because he is awesome. He has, in fact, one several Namco popularity polls and I vastly prefer him to either of the main characters of the Wii and Gamecube Tales games.

5. Princess Daisy – Super Mario, um … Land, I think?

Daisy is actually my favourite Mario character, so I’m kinda bummed she hasn’t been in Smash Bros. yet. Essentially, I see her playing like a more aggressive, in-your-face version of Peach, ’cause that’s pretty much she is. Even if her moveset was just directly cloned from Peach, I think she could still be set apart in how those moves look and in nuisances like the damage they deliver.

And Now the Other Foot

•May 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, yeah, Microsoft just keeps knocking it out of the park with the Everything Box, because now this happens:

http://www.destructoid.com/xboned-indies-can-t-self-publish-on-xbox-one-254292.phtml

This is another thing that doesn’t particularly bother me personally/individually/specifically, because I don’t play a lot of downloadable games and because indie games are universally/generally downloadable, I don’t play many of them. However, indie games are undeniably kind of a big deal – it tends to come up frequently that indie games will be what saves the industry from the creatively-bankrupt-new-release-to-the-franchise-every-six-months mentality of mainstream publishers.

Not doing things to conduce indie titles on your console is a decision that can’t possibly end well, even if the other two consoles weren’t making any effort and just managing not to screw the process up, but it sounds like Nintendo and Sony are in fact going out of their way to court indie developers. When the two possibilities are a red carpet or a brick wall, the choice for the indie developers is pretty obvious.

Man, the Everything Box is really running out extremities to shoot itself in.

Also, this is relevant (to the topic of the Everything Box moreso than indie games), and has given me no small amount of entertainment:

Speaking of Shooting Yourself in the Foot…

•May 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, yeah, if you’ve read either of my last two posts, you’ll know that Microsoft announced their new Everything Box today. I’ve been checking up on video game sites (hi, Destructoid) throughout the day to monitor the new tidbits of information that have been trickling onto the Internet throughout the day.

Long story short, I thought the apparent price point of the thing was Microsoft’s worst decision. Turns out it wasn’t.

http://www.destructoid.com/microsoft-xbox-one-will-need-to-go-online-eventually-254231.phtml

Pretty much, this article establishes two things:

1) The Everything needs an Internet connection, but doesn’t need to be always on the Internet; from what I understood, to function probably, it needs to connect to the Internet to talk to the Microsoft servers once a day or so. Obviously, that’s not as much a misstep as necessitated an always-on connection, but does have the potential to really screw you over in certain circumstances (like if your Internet connection ever goes down for an extended period of time, which, though not necessarily the likeliest thing in the world, isn’t entirely implausible)

2) Games need to be locked to a specific account (which themselves presumably require an Internet connection) to work. Basically, it looks like there’s going to be a one-time code that you plug in to your Everything Box for what Microsoft themselves tactlessly refer to as “the right to play” – which is perhaps the most flagrantly obvious indication of the whole “games-as-service-rather-than-product” mentality. This in turn means two things: first, this installs the game onto your Everything Box, thereby rendering the disc useless and second, if you want to play a game you bought on anyone else’s Everything Box but yours, you have to play full price (apparently) for it. Again. However, Microsoft has also gone on record as saying that trading in games, both to stores and apparently on-line will be possible, but the specifics haven’t been described yet. However, I think there is a very real possibility that Microsoft’s proposed solution will fall short of the desires and demands of the consumers.

Now, I’m really not passionate enough about video games to get all torches and pitchforks over this (but those people who are – whose passion I don’t share, but neither do I mean to disrespect – are). However, I recognise this as a profoundly bad decision. On the one hand, those people who care enough about being respected as consumers are going to get all torches and pitchforks at Microsoft, which best case scenario from a business perspective are going to post loud and angry comments on the Internet and send at least a few of those to official Microsoft channels and worst case scenario, are going to not buy Everything Boxes (and probably, in fact, but something other than an Everything Box). On the other hand, people who just want to buy an Everything Box to play video games with their kids are going to be bewildered and angried up by the amount of hop-jumping it will take to do that. And the same two possible reactions arise.

The Wii got mocked for catering too much to casual players, grandmothers and little brothers and alienating “real” gamers. The Wii U got mocked trying (poorly, the criticism goes) to recapture the hearts and minds of those same “real” gamers, thereby making itself overly complicated for the casuals. And yet, Microsoft seems to have instituted a policy that seems guaranteed to alienate literally everyone.

At the very least, it will be very entertaining to watch the outpouring of RAGE on the Internet and, of course, Microsoft’s attempts at ass-covering. Of course, the situation may even get defused as more concrete information on the Everything Box becomes available.

Addendum To That Last Post

•May 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, yeah, I kinda did a little stream-of-consciousness reaction to Microsoft’s reveal of the Everything Box (which, as far as I’m concerned, is the new Xbox’s official name). Thinking back, I think it may have come off more negative than I intended. It’s true that I pretty much have no endorsement of the thing to give. But at the same time, I’m not, like, outraged or angered by anything about it. Long story short, what you should be taking away from my reaction to Microsoft’s Everything Box is apathy rather than negativity. Given that I have a 360 now, it’s not inconceivable that I’ll eventually wind up with an Everything Box (though only after I’ve got a Wii U), but none of the promises of being able to do anything but play video games on it appeal to me in the slightest, partly because I anticipate that many of them will require paid subscriptions. It might be an eventual purchase, but it’s definitely not going to be a day (or, for that matter, probably even year) one purchase.

Of course, it’s also possible that I will, in fact, forsake the Everything Box for a PS4, if only for the novelty of owning my first Sony system.

Multitask All The Things!

•May 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, Microsoft announced/is in the process of announcing its new Xbox, which is somewhat counter-intuitively called the Xbox One (which, incidentally, is what I call the original Xbox). It looks sort of like the bastard offspring of a VHS machine (remember those?) and a Nintendo Entertainment System (remember those?). Apparently, the “One” is because it’s a machine that can do everything you could ever want in one machine (pretty clever, right?). Actually, though, we already have those. They’re called computers.

But, seriously, though. The amount I care about having a video game machine that has the ability to be the multimedia Sun to the heliocentric cosmos that is my living room is approximately 0. I have no ambition or desire to have a machine that can do everything given that I already have all the seperate machines to do each of the seperate things, especially given that most of those machines are my computer. Granted, if I ever have to replace literally everything in my living room, which I actually might, given that I’m going away to school in the fall, having an everything box (Microsoft really dropped the ball by not calling the machine the Everything Box).

The reason I want a video game system is to play video games, which is the one thing my living room and/or computer can’t already do. Everything else is superfluous or redundant. Is it really too much to ask for a video game system that plays video games.

Also, apparently it costs $500 dollars, which is twice as much as the basic model Wii U and about once-and-a-half as much as the bigger Wii U model (I forget what its actual name is). I think Microsoft kinda shot itself in the foot with this one, as I’ve seen a least a few people on the Internet talking about how the thing that’s keeping them from getting a Wii U is the price point. A price point which is half as much as the new Xbox. So, that should play out in an interesting way.

Also also, in regards to the actual presentation, too much time talking about how it’s also a Skype and a television, which I don’t even care about. Also, maybe a little too much about the hardware in itself, but given that this is the first appearance of the thing, that’s not entirely surprising, but is maybe a little much in the absence of talking about any meaningful games.

So, yeah, not a very good presentation and not necessarily the most compelling system.

From what I’m seeing, the reaction on the Internet isn’t much more of a resounding endorsement than what I’m saying.

Man, I really should have called this post “The Everything Box”. Oh well, that’s what I get for not thinking ahead.

Not Really Sure How it Happened

•May 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

One of the icons of Canadian literature/culture in general is the book Anne of Green Gables (and to a lesser extent, its various sequels), which follows an energetic redhead orphan tomboy as she grows up. It’s kind of a big deal in Canada, to the point where even I’ve read it out of a patriotic sense of obligation (even though it is exactly the kind of book I would want to read least).

It’s also hugely popular in Japan for some reason. So much so, that there was an Anne of Green Gables anime.