Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas break

Just FYI, I'm going to be off until after New Years.  I will pick up then.

Please comment with any topics you want to see me tackle when I return!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Level Analysis - Final Fantasy VI opening

Today is the first day of Winter, so I wanted to showcase one of the best winter levels.

The Final Fantasy VI opening
I know, I know, you don't play there.  But it's a simply beautiful level to look at with the music playing.  the side view is generally unheard of in the game's context, and the level doesn't actually loop. Instead you get closer and closer to the goal of the city (which you can see twinkling in the distance).

It doesn't seem so now, but in the age of the SNES, this was VERY impressive.  It's impressive now, in our age of CG and orchestrated sounds. This was, and still is, very amazing.

And, visually, it's done very simply.  It's a simple perspective change that pulls us into the story, gives us back story, introduces us to our heroine, introduces or villain (No, really, Kefka shows up briefly)  and really pulls us into the world. 

It makes you care about this world, one that I hope Square revisits at some point. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kingdom Hearts 3D

It's very fitting that a trailer for a game that takes place in a dream is as trippy as this trailer is.  No, really, I've been following Kingdom Hearts for a while and I have NO IDEA what is going on besides the basic set up.  (Namely, that Sora and Riku are completing their Mark of Master exam.  This was the letter in KH2, and we've seen the Mark of Master exam in Kingdom Hearts: BBS.)

(Spoilers for the other KH games ahead)

It is interesting though, many scenes in this trailer are relating back to the side or filler games.  The Mark of Mastery exam, as stated before, was in Birth By Sleep.  Vanitas (Evil Sora) and Master Xehanort (the old creepy guy) are also in Birth By Sleep. The black haired Kairi is actually Xion who is one of the main characters of Kingdom Hearts 358/2... until it was revealed she was actually a Replica and was drawing power from both Roxas and Sora so she tricked Roxas into killing her so she could return to Sora, erasing everyone's memories of her in the process)  The the Somebodies in the trailer (Ienzo, Aeleus, and Lea) originally debuted as Nobodies in Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories.  Namine also debuted there. (She's the blond Kairi in the white dress) And there is suspicion the other Riku is a "Data Riku" from Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded.  (I haven't played Re:Coded so I can't judge)

But what is interesting is various scenes have been remixed, especially from Kingdom Hearts 2.  The famous Roxas/Axel battle is now in CG. 
But on the other hand, Roxas NEVER fought against Xemnas and Sora and Riku have yet to face Master Xehanort.  While it could be a nod to how Sora harbors Ven (who is in Roxas... it's a bit confusing) and Riku was possessed by Ansem:Seeker of Darkness who is actually a form of Terra (Yeah, that's confusing too)  but who really knows at this point.

And THEN there is that young form of Xehanort hanging around which has something to do with Vanitas which makes no sense at all since we've never seen a Xehanort THAT young and while Master Xehanort created Vanitas and semi raised him, they've never had a spiritual connection like the rest of the groups.

THEN there is "The World Ends With You" crew.  While the Kingdom Hearts games have included Square Enix Cameos before (Cloud and Zack are minor plotpoints in the Olympus Colosseum worlds) they're usually a bit more varied.  (While Final Fantasy 7 easily has the most characters, they share the sage with Final Fantasy 6, 8, 9, and 10(-2).)  But so far, almost the entire cast of TWEWY has shown up, and all in one world.  It's rather odd, even for an admitted marketing ploy.  (SE has admitted that they want to make a TWEWY sequel, but they need to increase awareness of the TWEWY crew so they were inserting into Kingdom Hearts)  That being said, putting in one of Josha's iconic lines is a nice touch. 

One thing that is interesting, though, is the utter lack of Ven, Aqua, and Terra (other then Terra and Ven's semi alternate forms) While Birth By Sleep and Re:Coded makes it clear that the three need to be saved in order for Light to win in the battle against Master Xehanort, and Re:Coded also states that they've tracked down at least 2 of the heroes of Birth By Sleep, it is interesting none of them show up, not even Master Eraqus who taught them.  While we might see more later, the absence is notable.

The choice of the three "Somebodies" that came back is interesting.  While we always knew Lea/Axel would come back (everyone likes him way too much and he appeared for almost no reason in Birth By Sleep)  Ienzo/Zexion and Aeleus/Lexaeus are an odd choice.  They only appeared in Riku's story in Reverse/Rebirth mode in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and as part of the short tutorial in 358/2.  Why have just those three (and Xehanort) come back?  As far as we know, they hold very little knowledge of the series' inner workings.

Square Enix makes fantastic trailers, but one of their main problems is they spoil too much. A few months before Birth By Sleep was released, many fans guessed that Terra would end up possessed by Master Xehanort (who was the real villain of the game) and become the Xehanort in the Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 reports.  That's not happening here.

Check out the short version of the trailer on the official website

I can't wait until we get a localized trailer, I hope it's the long one.  And I can't wait until we find out more about this game.  It's way too trippy, but it's awesome. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Musical Monday - "To Die" Heimdall 2

I'll come out and say it.  I know practically nothing about this game.  Which fits with the myth, very little is known about Heimdall.  All that is known about him is that he guarded the realm of the gods. 
All I can say is, I really like this piece for the Amiga game.  I wish I knew in what context it was used.  Despite the sad title, it is a very pretty piece.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jump Festa: Pokemon

Nobunaga's Ambition is a pretty popular game in Japan.  The gist of it is you are one of the clans taking over Japan.  This version of the game... each side uses Pokemon.   

I don't know too much, never having played it, but it sounds like an interesting concept, and one that would work very will in a Pokemon world.  Maybe in the time before Pokemon battling was regulated, this happened?

Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing more about the game.  At least the Gameplay looks interesting....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Design Analysis - The World Ends With You Opening.

Congratulations, I just spoiled the entire game for you.   (Spoilers ahead... since unless you played the game you don't realize how important any of that was)

Basically, this is a fascinating way to do credits.  It's "What the HECK" at it's finest, The names get in there, but rather then a basic background (such as from Final Fantasy III)

or alternate screens, the names are flashing with the various scenes... which explain everything as I said  before.

Two Shikis? Because there actually are two Shikis,only one is named Eri.  All those people Neku passed? His partners later in the game. The mindless drone reflections in Megumi's glasses? His master plan.  Yep, they out the villain five minutes into the game, I think before you even get to play as Neku.

It's an interesting way to do credits, and one I hope gets picked up more often.  It's stylized and by the time you realize this MEANS anything, you forgot about it.  It still sticks with you.

I really should play this game again... I feel like I'm missing things. 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Jump Fiesta

So, Jump Fiesta starts today in Japan!  I'll cover more when info actually comes out.

What can we expect to see there?
Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary (3DS)
Hatsune Miku and Future Stars Project Mirai (3DS)
Hatsune Miku Project Diva Arcade (Arcade)
Rhythm Thief R (3DS)
Samurai & Dragons (Vita)
Shining Blade (PSP)
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Lord of Apocalypse
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
Kingdom Hearts 3D
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
Dragon Quest Monsters 3D
Fortune Street
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 3
Dragon Quest X
Chrono Trigger (iPhone/iPod Touch/Android)
Bakuman: The Way of a Manga Artist (DS)
Blue Exorcist: The Phantom Labyrinth of Time (PSP)
Digimon World Re:Digitize (PSP)
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3/360)
Dragon Ball Zenkai Battle Royale (Arcade)
Gintama (Mobile)
Listen to Daddy Says! (PSP)
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact (PSP)
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (PS3/360)
One Piece: Gigant Battle 2 (DS)
One Piece: Grand Collection (Mobile)
Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle (PS3)
Tales of Innocence (Vita)
Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave (PSP)
Tekken Hybrid (PS3)
Toriko: Gourmet Battle (PC)
Toriko: Gourmet Survival (PSP)
Something Pokemon related
Capcom and Konami are both at the show, but I haven't found their line up.

What are you looking forward too?

For me, it's KH 3D and Theatrythm.  And maybe some  Street Fighter X Tekken stuff.  They should be announcing new characters soon,and I LOVE their story videos.
I wish we could see more of these kinds of vids.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Level Design - Hotel Dusk

Hotel Dusk is a criminally underrated graphic novel for the DS. It's lack luster sells means alot of people missed a great, complicated, interesting, unique playable novel about Kyle Hyde, an ex police detective in the seventies, who know works as someone who finds things and sells things.  He is sent to the Hotel Dusk and finds out that, for some reason, it is incredibly tied to his own past.  There is a sequel, but Nintendo decided against localizing it for the US so it was only released in Japan and Europe.  Fortunately the DS doesn't have any regional software so go import it!

Okay, moving on,

Hotel Dusk is distinguished visually due to it's use of Rotoscoping for it's visuals.  What this means is they record someone actually doing the action (holding an item, turning around, playing pool, whatever) and then draw over it.  This technique has been used before (the character of Snow White is rotoscoped for the movie) but it isn't always so sketchy.  However, it fits with the game.  The game is filled with black, white, and gray.  Life attempts to be simple.   And the backgrounds don't stand out.

It's an interesting style for an interesting game.  I just wish more people recognized it.


(As a side note: if this blog is shut down by SOPA, I hope you enjoyed reading it.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Character design- Riddler (Arkham Asylum)

As I haven't played Arkham City, I'm just covering Arkham Asylum.

Riddler is one of my favorite Batman villains.  I find his compulsion interesting, and though it is hard to do, he is very different from the Joker.

There are two rather different, but iconic, portrayals him in media.

Frank Gorshin's amazing laughter from the 60's Batman:
And John Glover's incredibly restrained and intelligent Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series.  (BTW, that series is one of THE best TV shows, let alone Batman series, ever.  It restructured and refined much of the Batman mythos, gave us Harley Quinn, rewrote Mr. Freeze's backstory, and is incredibly well done.  Go and watch it now, it is NOT a waste)
(Okay, NOT the best example.  If you can, watch "If you're so smart, why aren't you dead?"

With Batman: Arkham Asylum, they could combine many parts of the earlier incarnations, including the fact that Riddler in the comics is actually a murderous pyscopath.

So, they put that in here.  Along with the restraint of John Glover (most of the time.  He gets enraged as you solve more of the riddles) a laugh like Frank Gorshin, and together leads to a rather interesting performance.

Hopefully an even better performance in Arkham City... now that we can see him.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Laguna Loire in the modern era

AKA deleted content: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep part 2.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Dissidia Duodecim would both come out at about the same time.  And Square Enix decided that they would need to make a decision. 

Which game would star Laguna Loire?

Eventually, they decided to go with Dissidia and Laguna was cut some time before Birth By Sleeps release (As of this writing, no data has been found in the game that deals with Laguna.  However, this tidbit was revealed in the Birth By Sleep Ultimania)

That being said, from what was in Dissidia (I have yet to play FF8) Laguna would make a nice eventual addition.  A.V. Kennedy does a nice job voicing him (which is great, as far as I can tell, this is his first time doing anything besides background voices and he gets a big character in a big Square Enix release. GO A.V. KENNEDY!)  (cough)   and the character is fantastic.  Laguna is kind, funny, absentminded, interested in people, likes girls (but not in a pervy way), a perfect gentleman, and can MORE then keep up with the rest of Cosmos and Chaos' warriors despite having absolutely no magic.

In fact, he's the only Cosmos warrior who doesn't have at least one magic spell.  Tidus has a magic HP attack, Tifa has Ice, Cloud has Fire, Jecht has laser beams from his eyes (and transforms into SIN), and... all Laguna gets is his weapons turning gold which is really just Leon and Company lending their strength. 

With Dream Drop Distance coming up, and at least considered worlds confirmed to be in the roster, maybe we can see some considered heroes?

After all, he was more then considered for Birth By Sleep, he had his own plot line.  He was to run the Mirage Arena.  We don't know anything other then that, but judging from Dissidia (And FF8, which I can't comment on) it would have been interesting. Especially considering what he could have happened if he interacted with Aqua. 

As for future released, we don't know.  But I would LOVE to have him show up again. 

Delayed Musical Monday! Prince of Persia 2008

Crap, I forgot. 
Have some music from an underrated game.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

VGA post show

first, the trailers:
Now, for the bad.

Those trailers were pretty much the entire show.  Many of the awards were just released together in a montage, many of the talent were shunted off to the side (No, really, Mark Hammill was sitting in a BLEACHER SEAT and wasn't even told his character won! Or that he lost best performance to Stephen Merchant's Wheatley  (Who I do love, but that's besides the point)  Yep, as much as people like the trailers, we were here to see people get awards.  Not major awards in a montage.  (though we did see Legend of Zelda be the first inductee to a game hall of fame)

And, finally, let me make myself clear.  You people who were at the show behaved ABOMINABLY to Hideo Kojima.  Yes, he stumbled over his speech.  May I remind you that English is NOT his first language!He likes the west and by all accounts is a VERY nice man.  So, instead of having some sort of glorified teabagging at the awards, maybe you should have instead given him your patience.

Well, that's it for today.  Did you watch? what did you think?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

VGA - pre show

Honestly, I'm a little torn.  On the one hand, Video Games are a legitimate medium and it deserves some awards on it's own merits.  On the other hand, the style of the show perpetrates that scenario that gamers are only mountain dew fueled nerds.  It's... yeah.

If we are going to get awards, they can be a bit more dignified.  I do love the trailers and all, but if they are going to do awards, then they need to focus on the awards and not the silly stunts. 

It is an awkward time for us, games and gamers.  But we need to grow out of this phase, and grow up if we want to be treated respectfully.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nolan North

My apologies on no post yesterday.  I'm a tad sick and I couldn't think of anything.

As I am still sick, I thought I would pass along this vid:
And talk briefly about Voice Actors.

Voice Actors are often the unsung heroes of video games.  (when I say "Voice Actor" I mean people who's job is to create the voices and that is primarily it)  Say what you will about Nolan North, but he can imitate and manipulate his vice and give emotion.  There are many other voice actors who can do that too.  My personal favorite is Jim Cummings, but we can't forget Tara Strong, Jeff Bennett, John Di Maggio, Tress McNeille, June Foray and many more unsung heroes who give us more then what we could desire/

A consistent actual connection  with a variety of characters,



Let us hope that they eventually get their due.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Golden Sun - Development gag

Golden Sun is a very good, very underrated RPG that was originally released on the GBA

When it was released in the US, it had a commercial... that had nothing to do with the game.
No, really, none of it takes place at an opera house, you don't fight to music, that girl isn't in the game, and that chandelier monster isn't in the game either! (that being said, it is a really well done commercial and is very cool looking)

That changed for the DS sequel.
(just the summon)
Yep, the developers took a cue from the commercial and put it in the game.  And quite well too!

All joking aside, it is a really nice touch.  Good work developers!  You even had the smashed crystal from the commercial in there too!

(my apologies on it being in Japanese. Oh, and, Hi Final Fantasy VI's opera house!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Character Analysis - Terra (Final Fantasy VI)

Since Final Fantasy VI debuted on the PSN today, I thought I would analyze Terra (spoilers ahead)  I should also note, she's not my favorite character, Cyan is.  But, I'm saving Cyan for my birthday or something. 

Well, Terra is (arguably) the lead character.  And she's half human.  I know she doesn't look like it, but she's half esper. 

This is actually not only critical to the plot but to her personality.  Esper's have great control over magic, but in doing so have very little emotions.  While Terra can feel emotions, if she does so it is at the expense of her magic.  Well, at least initially.  Eventually she finds out that emotional disturbances end up disrupting her magic.  Like making it ceasing to work.


Or turning her into this:

Which is why the Empire put her in a slave crown at the beginning of the game. She has immense power, but she's also very kind and can not work properly when under stress (like in battle). 

So, if she doesn't like battle, why does she fight?

Because she has a reason.  She wants to find out who she is, and she knows the empire doesn't want to share it.  So, she joins up with Locke to find out... plus now that she's free she realized the Empire is in the wrong.  But, she doesn't realize that anything is particularly odd with her, until she uses Magic in front of Edgar. Upon finding out that she is different, she looks to find out what she can do to "fix" her...

But instead, finds out that she can't understand love.  She has no idea what it is, or how she should recognize it.

This search is a key part of her character. To quote her, "I want to know what love is NOW!"   She wants to know how she's different, she wants to know why, she wants to fall in love.

And she does, but in a wonderful twist, it's not with a person...

Not any one person.

Instead, once they fail utterly and Kefka destroys the world, she takes over a small village and takes care of the kids.  It is there she finds love.  Not in one person, but in a village of children that would not have survived if she hadn't stepped in.  And she couldn't use her magic until she realized that she loved her kids and she wanted to protect them.

It is also what allows her to survive after the end too. 


Love motivates many of the characters in Final Fantasy VI.  But, you'll have to play it to find out everyone else's love.  (And don't forget to sleep in inns with Shadow)

This is one of my favorite games, and I really can't do an analysis of Terra well enough.  She's a very confused young woman who, for all intents and purposes, woke up and had no idea who she is.  She spends parts of the game trying to figure it out, only to find out she's not human, and, eventually, does find her purpose.  In her new family in the town, and her friends who traipsed across an entire world to make sure no one would have to go through what she did ever again. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Musical Monday - Gwyn, Lord of Cinder

I don't play Dark Souls, so I can't comment.  I did promise a friend I would put it up though. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Character Design - Kaine

My apologies. When I wrote my gender post a few days ago, I meant only to focus on costume design.  It was my fault it went off topic due to me mentioning personality.

So, I was saving this post but... now's probably a good time to bring her up.

Kaine!(spoilers ahead)


Wait a minute, you may be saying, didn't she say that Kaine was complicated?  Isn't this Character Design? Isn't Complicated is an EMOTIONAL part?  Something in Character Analysis?

Er, no, not really here.  (though I will do a little Character Analysis) 

Kaine is a hermaphrodite.  (Confirmed in Japan, hinted at in the US version)  She identifies as female, but she's got all the parts of both genders.

Which is why she dresses that... You know what? I'm just going to have Weiss explain a bit of it.

She dresses so skimpily BECAUSE she wants to draw attention to how she's a woman.  The Lingerie with nipple slips, the bare back, the high heels (seriously, how does she fight in those heels?)  those are all ways to say "Hey! Look! I'm a woman!"

As for the bandages, in story it's to hide her Shade half, but just looking at her, it creates a bit of dichotomy and a curiosity.  Why should she want to hid half of her body like that?  Was she injured?  And we feel for the woman who may be wielding two very large swords, but may be hurting due to the bandages covering her.   (on a side note, major props for her managing to keep her top and bottom on while fighting.  One stray cut and...)

I know it may be just fanservice, but I appreciate Cavalia for turning the fanservice character into something much more.  Her style of dress gets actually explained and her character is so much more then eyecandy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Xenoblade

IS FINALLY AND ACTUALLY COMING TO THE US!
Nintendo posted pictures from the game on it's facebook page.
and you can preorder it at gamestop now.  Right now it seems like it's a Gamestop exclusive, but hopefully it will be published in other venues.

So, let's have some music to celebrate!

Why is this game a big deal?

It is - apparently, I haven't played it- a VERY good JRPG.  The metacritic scores are absurdly high, which is impossible in this day and age for a JRPG (my favorite Genre actually) Nintendo of America announced it several years ago, then didn't say a word.  It came out in Japan to brilliant praise, then nothing.

A group called Operation Rainfall started a petition to get it and 2 other respected JRPG's over (Pandora's Tower and The Last Story) and nothing...

except an announcement that all three would be localized for Europe.  This confused many gamers in both Europe and NA.  It is reasonably priced to turn a PAL release to a NA release, it's already in English, all you need to do is switch regions.  (apparently the UK dub is very good so that's not an issue.  Might run into some slight localization problems though. I don't know though)

But with this new release, it shows that the wii is NOT dead, good JRPGs CAN be made, and Nintendo has FINALLY listened to it's fans.

Who else is preordering?

edit: OFFICIAL TRAILER! 


edit 2: Official website and you can pre order either at Gamestop or from Nintendo.com  Personally, I'd go with Nintendo.  That way we may get Last Story and Pandora's Tower over here.  THANK YOU OPERATION RAINFALL!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

gender issues in games (part 1 - character design)

Okay, this isn't really going to be a series, just something I talk about when I feel like it.

I think today I'll explain why I'm talking about it.  Read this article first, not the comments.  And now you know why I'm thinking about it.

Gender is.... naturally complicated.  Men are usually the ones making the games (which is something else) so when it comes to character design, women are usually sexualized

While the men are... not.

I know there are unsexualized mature women (Jade from Beyond Good and Evil and Faith from Mirror's Edge for example)  and sexualized men (Tekken's Jin for example)  and, admittedly, Kaine's case is VERY complicated so she's getting her own post later.

But, by and large, this is the general trend.  Which is why women get very frustrated.

For me, at least, either turn down the fanservice on the female characters or turn it up on the males.  It's really frustrating when men are "complicated" and dressed reasonably but women are more "fanservice" and... that's it.  (Yes, I'll know I'll get called on for some characters such as Tifa, but let's just look at the general picture right now.  That is the exception, not the rule.) 

Some fanservice isn't that bad.  Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII has a belly button ring you can see, and that's it.  Othertimes, it's so overboard it may as well be parody, but it gets to be more then annoying when the first female character's show up, and it's a big breasted women wearing nothing but underwear, which has happened alot.  And then personality ends up just being somewhat one dimensional.  Admittedly, early non RPG games (and even some early RPG games) didn't really give anyone a personality so they are excused,  but since technology has developed, this has to change.

Again, nothing against fanservice, when done in moderation.  Girls do wear Midriff bearing shirts (which is why Jade isn't on my sexualized list)  and men do sometimes go around shirtless.... though unless they're exercising or in a naturally hot climate that just makes them look like jerks in my opinion.

Just make design practical (I can see a few small edits that could turn Lara's outfit from fanservice to actual climbing gear.... like extending the pants and shirt so she doesn't risk getting easily cut)   or give it a reason.  (Kaine)  and make the men a bit fanservicey too.  Again, in the realms of practicality.

And please, for the love of Cosmos, give the girls a real, complicated, personality, will ya? 

Then maybe we can look on these designs as something outdated from yesteryear, rather then something we do need to fix now.

So, can I ask a favor?  May I get a list of your top video game characters, one for each category.
1) Sexualized male
2) Sexualized female
3) Unsexualized male
4) Unsexualized female

Thank you for reading this post.  I'll try to tackle other gender issues later, and maybe I'll rewrite this post some day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Level Design - Castlevania

More Castlevania in general today.  I want to talk about... murderous archtecture.

Castlevania has a beautiful art style... and alot of items that are trying to kill you.  Water when you can't swim, spikes poking out of the walls, and the enemies that pop up JUST when you don't want them too. 

All of which make for a very rewarding experience.  The levels are very tough, but with each death, it is very rarely the AI's fault.  More often, you didn't jump at the right time, or dodge, or attack, or remember to pick up the right subweapon, or put on the right ring and then you died.  Which means, every time you actually beat the level you feel quite accomplished.  You feel even better when you unlock the hidden levels (in the games that have them) 

The plot doesn't really matter.  You beat Dracula with a whip (or, if playing a later game, then swords, arrows, paintings, knuckles, spells, tattoos and whips)  since he is threatening to destroy the world.  Again.  (I will note it is true the later games' plots do get a bit more complicated but as I haven't played Lord's of Shadow I can't really comment) but the true thrill of the game is the level design.

So, enjoy Vampire Killer as you think about how important Level Design is to making a satisfying series.




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Character Design - Nier

Yep, those are the same characters.  (note, I have played part of Western NieR and none of Easter NieR)

When the game "NieR" was being developed, Cavalia (who made the game) developed the top 'Bish┼Źnen" Nier.  He's designed to be very pretty, and has a brother relationship with the character Yonah. (since they are, in fact, siblings)  During this development, they looked into a western release and Cavalia noticed that Wester gamers prefer "Space Marine" type characters.  So, they made two different versions of the game.  One version with the "Bishie" Nier and the other with the "Space Marine" Nier (who is Yonah's father). 

As these two are apparently slightly different, different effects went into their clothes.  Father Nier is much more blunt, so his clothes are slightly more practical.  Slightly.  It at least isn't overly ornamented, something that fits with a poor widower who is doing odd jobs to pay for his daughter's medicine.It also shows off the scars he's gathered, showing he's lived a hard life.  (And that tattoo, which I don't really understand)

Brother NieR apparently worked as a prostitute to pay the bills (among other odd jobs)  so he's more covered up since he doesn't like to be touched.

I will say, though, I do like how certain elements of each costume are linked.  Both have odd sleeves, both have something clothlike wrapped around their waist, both have something crossing their chest, and both are, at heart, Nier.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Musical Monday - Lugi's Mansion

Luigi's mansion is one of the semi overlooked games in the Mario series.  It was a debut game for the Gamecube (as Super Mario Sunshine was not ready to go yet).

The story was about how Luigi had won a mansion and when he went to claim it, he instead found a haunted mansion that had just shown up one day with ghosts inside.  And then he finds out that his brother had gone inside... and never came out.  So, Luigi goes in to rescue his brother and, if possible, claim his mansion.


What makes this game notable is this really expanded several parts of Luigi's personality.  He became less of a "Palette swap" of Mario and more of his own person.  While I can do a character analysis on him, I'll save it for another day and just mention one thing.

Luigi is TERRIFIED of ghosts.  This is part of the character's model, his actions, and why Luigi is heard in the song.  He sings along with it in order to keep from getting too scared.  It's rather a nice touch, and really contributes to the background.  When the room is still haunted, Luigi frighteningly hums it.  When the room is clear, he whistles. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

RUMOR! Sony's Title Fight

Apparently, this was more then a tease for the new ad campaign.


This was, apparently a tease for an ENTIRE GAME.



 Yes, Ladies and gentleman, if the rumors are true then Sony is making a Smash Brother's style fighting game that is tentatively called Title Fight. 


You can read the rumors here: Title Fight.  The page notes that the "Michael" ad was a tease for the game.  Here is IGN's Rewind theater that notes the games in the ad.
(I like Rewind Theater's and they can point out more things then I can)


So, IF the rumors are true (and I have no vids to speculate on gameplay)  Who do you want to be in it?

Final Fantasy HAS to be represented as it is considered a "Sony" type game recently (All the main titles from 7-12 not including 11 were PlayStation exclusives.  1,2,4,5, and 6 were rereleased on the Playstation and with Dissidia all main games have had characters released on a Sony system)  But which hero?  I think it would boil down to between Cloud and Lightning.  Cloud is iconic and SE has been promoting Lightning lately. Lightning would have more variety (Switching between Commander (Physical), Ravager (Black Magic) and Medic (White Magic) in Dissidia for example)  and she has Odin, but Cloud is a normal swordsman and is probably more popular and iconic. Lightning is a bit more over promoted but still a viable choice.

Sly Cooper is in there,so why not Cole from InFamous?  He's a really good option for fighting games.  He's going to be in Street Fighter X Tekken!
No, really, he's going to be in Street Fighter X Tekken.
So, first player, fighter, he's looking like a good choice, if Sly wasn't already in the game.

Ezio isn't an exclusive character, but he was in the trailer, has a good fighting set up, and is going to be in Soul Calibur V, so he's also a viable option.

Subject Delta from Bioshock 2.  Again, not completely exclusive but would be a VERY powerful "Tank" option.  Between the plasmids, guns, and iconic drill he could do quite a lot in a fight.  Plasmids would probably drift to the more offensive ones. (INCINERATE! Electrobolt, Winterblast, telekinesis, etc)  the downside is he can't really talk... but it would still be cool.  (While Delta does not appear in the trailer, the Little Sisters do)


Snake from Metal Gear Solid.  Much like FF, MGS is a third party series tied to the Sony brand.Snake has a large role in the trailer and has already appeared in a fighting game.  Unfortunately, that game is Super Smash Brother's Brawl.  While it CAN be done, (he's very good in Brawl)  I'm not sure of the legalities.

Ratchet and Clank from... Ratchet and Clank.  Playstation Exclusive characters, would compliment Sly Cooper well, lots of gadgets to play with... would be a very fun choice! (Plus Ratchet was in the trailer)

Ico or Wander from Ico/Shadow of the Colossus.   I honestly don't know too much about these two, so I can't say much.

Dante from Devil May Cray.  So, yeah, talking about White Haired Dante here.  Lots of variety, devil may care attitude, would be a good way to mix up play.  He was JUST in (Ultimate) Marvel vs Capcom 3 so I don't know if there would be legal issues, but there might be. (Character is exclusive, company isn't)

Ryu from Street Fighter.  I don't think I have to explain why. 

That's all I can think of right now, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to shoot down Chell.  I ADORE her, but she doesn't have much fighting potential and Valve is considered more of a PC company then a console company.  Plus, until recently, Gabe Newell hated the Playstation for some reason. 

And while the three heroes from Trine would be another good option, it's a downlodable multi platform game.  it doesn't feel quite right.  Would be fun to switch between all of them though!


Who do you think should be in it? And why?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm busy over here helping with dinner, watching parades, etc.

So I'll leave you with this link http://www.gourmetgaming.co.uk/ and you can salivate over some food.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Character Analysis - Doug Rattmann

First: READ THIS COMIC http://www.thinkwithportals.com/comic/

Read it?  Great!  Meet Doug Rattmann.  He's never physically appeared in a Portal game, but he has remained a key part of the game's mythology.

In Portal 1, you are there, doing your experiments for some unknown reasons, things are becoming dangerous, and then you find this room:

This is our first hint that something is VERY very wrong.  While we knew things were wrong before, they weren't laid bare quite like this.  The mysterious author continues to help through the rest of Portal, offering written tips on where to go and how to beat obstacles.  He's the first to warn about the Companion Cube's demise (took it QUITE hard actually) and he gives his password for the players (not Chell) to find out more.

People really wanted him to return for Portal 2, and he did in his own way.  But he also got his own comic which sets up Portal 2 and the backstory to Portal 1.

From it, we can see that Doug Rattmann is a Paranoid Schizophrenic. I think this is actually a key part to his survival.  While everyone figured GLaDOS was murderous, he stayed with CONSTANT VIGILANCE and prepared accordingly.  He couldn't leave, so he worked to save Chell. 

And he continues in Portal 2... a bit.  He's still around but he's abandoned his hints for beautiful, if absurd, murals.

And there IS some gibberish you can hear walls in the walls in his dens.

So, what can we tell about Doug?

He's devoted.  HE's devoted to a cause (beat GLaDOS by any means necessary)  and he's devoted to Chell (who he's never technically met)  and he gives up the chance to escape in order to save Chell.

He is goal orientated.  While he could have simply ran away, he instead stuck around to give Chell clues on how to beat GLaDOS.

He's clever, even while insane. GLaDOS knew he was in the lab, but she could never find him.  Not only did he evade GLaDOS, he did so while crazy and in such a way he told Chell how to beat the puzzles.  Not an easy task.  And that's not counting the beans he ate while using old processors as a heatsink.

He has forethought.  He hid his medicine in case he needed it later.   His later dens are very hard to get into and are off the ground, so GLaDOS can't really access them.  When Chell does access the, presumably he keeps her from entering again if he can. 

(To go with the last two, he hacked computers so Chell was the first in the testing.  Not only clever but full of forethought!)

And, he's unbelievably tragic.  His best friend is a non existent cube, he watched every single member of work die, his sanity is constantly in question, he's injured his leg trying to save a woman he doesn't know, and even if he DOES escape, there is the Half Life battle above him. 

I really can't do this character justice. He may never actually appear in Portal, but he is so important to the world that GLaDOS would have one a long time ago, if he didn't step up to the plate. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Character Design - Isaac Clarke (Dead Space)

















Isaac Clarke is from the game "Dead Space" and "Dead Space 2" (And possibly 3, if the rumors are true)  I have yet to play the game so I'm focusing on his costume, which is a shame.  He is actually quite an interesting character.

Anyway, meet Isaac Clarke, engineer.  What marks him as different in the world of video game heroes clothes is... practicality. (Well, other then health being on the back)  As he is in a sci-fi game, he has to go out in space a lot.  As a result, his suit is a full space suit, complete with helmet.  As he will go into dangerous places in order to fix things, his suit is heavily armored to protect against random objects.  The suits many straps and clips provide protection against suffocation if one strap of the suit opened in space, the others have a large chance of keeping Isaac safe. His helmet glows, in order to give light to the space around him. In keeping with his lack of wealth, his armor is beat up since he does not have the time or money to repair it. 

Unfortunately, I can't say much more.    I honestly haven't played the game or seen a walkthrough.  While I know enough for this, more detail is, unfortunately, beyond me. Hopefully I can watch or play the games, and I can go into more detail later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Musical Monday - Into the Wilderness (WildARMS)

Sorry for the delay, I got Skyward Sword.

Anyway, today is Musical Monday, so I picked the fantastic piece, "Into the Wilderness".  An RPG for the PSq that had the unfortunate timing to come out around the same time as Final Fantasy VII.

I honestly adore this opening.  The music has a distinct "Old West" feel which highlights the inspiration for the game and the video itself is full of symbolism and foreshadowing.

I will talk about WildARMS later (it is one of my favorite games after all)  but right now, just let Rudy, Jack, HanPan, and Cecilia roll by.

(Normal posting resumes tomorrow)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Design Analysis: The World Ends WIth You


There is ALOT of reasons why The World Ends With You (TWEWY) is amazing, but I'll cover them all later. Right now, I want to look at the design of the world.

The game takes place in Modern Times,  in the area called Shibuya.  And, yes, Shibuya is a real place.
As a result, the game is defined by a modern aesthetic, much different from a typical Square Enix game.  The clothing looks like something that could be bought (well, mostly anyway)  And, in accordance to Shibuya fashions, most people dress according to certain styles.  There are shops that cater to styles (and some shops that sell a hodgepodge of clothes), fast food restaurants can be found almost anywhere, and the music is performed by local Shibuya bands. 

Finally, the areas you go to are all local places in Shibuya (though some have been slightly altered for copyright reasons.)  Hachiko statue, Tower records (Towa ingame) and Miyashita park are all locations in game (I'm sure there are more, but the map I used doesn't list them)

As a result, the game world feels much more real.  While we Americans might not know the real world locations as well, they certainly look much more real then other SE buildings.  the streets look like streets, with cars and people and buses riding by.  We can read people's thoughts (Analogous to a real world overheard conversation)  and pick up pieces of people's lives.  The characters shop, the clothes look real, and other then one very big thing, the characters wouldn't be too different from people we could know in our own lives.  The world feels real, and it gives us something to fight for mentally.

Shibuya feels like a real city.  While it is infused with a Japanese style, with some tweaking it could be any big city.  It takes alot to turn a real city that people live in, into a city just like it run by sprites and programming.  But I believe Square Enix succeeded.  One of the reasons why the game is so amazing is because we can feel the thrum of Shibuya's life. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Character Design - Hershel Layton

Professor Layton is a gentleman.  No, really, that and puzzles are his defining characteristics. How can we tell he's a gentleman?  Because of that hat.  As soon as Layton appears wearing that hat, we know he is someone incredibly polite.  No one really wears top hats anymore, but as he's seen driving a car in his intro too, we know he's not behind the times, he just likes wearing that hat.

 After this, we see the rest of his clothes are rather common.  Orange shirt, brown suit, he does not like to dress up, so the hat must be something special for him. 

Except for the hat, he seems like a common man.  He is, in actuality, a very kind archaeology professor so much of his outfit makes sense when you realize that he A) probably doesn't have alot of money and B) would need something to hide dust and dirt.  It really all goes back to the hat for him though.  That wonderful hat that immediately projects that this is a very good, very kind, very polite man who happens to spend his days solving puzzles and unraveling conspiracies to hurt other people. 

Unfortunately, I am rather busy today, so I'll leave you with something that sold me on the 3DS.




Ace Attorney Vs Professor Layton.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Character Ananlysis -Godot

 Blacker than a moonless night, hotter and more bitter than hell itself... That is coffee

I was going to do Miles Edgworth originally, but I'm missing a game of character development so...

time for another of my favorite Ace Attorney characters, Godot.  (Spoilers below)


First, though, let's listen to his song (since it does a very good job of describing him)
 
 So, when we listen to the song, we hear... regret.  The song is sad, regretful, and yearning.  A large clue into his character.
Godot is, in actuality, a man named Diego Armando.  Around six years before his debut case, he was poisoned by a suspect.  While he miraculously survived, he was forever altered.  His nervous system had been damaged leaving him blind without the mask and his hair turned white.  He woke up to the scent of coffee and found out his girlfriend (And fellow defense attorney), Mia Fey, had died in the intervening years.

Not really what you want to wake up too. 

So, he becomes a prosecutor, starts trying to find a way to protect Mia's sister Maya and to punish Phoenix Wright who he holds responsible for Mia's death. (Phoenix actually has nothing to do with the deaths.  He couldn't have known about the attempt on Mia's life and fought very hard to bring Mia's killer to justice. )  Godot's attempt to protect Maya was also tragic.  But, I'll touch on that in a second.

When we fist meet him, he claims that he has never lost a case as a prosecutor... because it's his first case.  He is shown to be obsessed with coffee, but there is always hints of a tragedy beneath his veneer.  He mocks love, he insults everyone, he allows someone to trash Phoenix Wright's name, and when we meet him outside of the courtroom, he is alone.

While this is admittedly not unique to prosecutors, but when we do see him, the other prosecutors have established connections.  Miles Edgeworth and Gumshoe have been established as Partners in Crimesolving before this point and the last case in game 3 only highlights that fact. Franziska von Karma has also shown a deep family connection to Miles Edgeworth at this point and willingly teams up with Phoenix Wright.  Godot, instead, disappears for a while and when he does has no connections. 

Another sense of tragedy is a brief moment in case 3.  There is a large ketchup stain on an apron, but he can not see it, the first hint that even with the mask he can not see everything.

Case 5 is where it all comes together.  His past is revealed, and when everyone figures out that he killed someone in order to protect Maya, he forces the case to continue until he is convicted.  He knows he will probably die but he still continues.

He has a strong sense of right or wrong.  I know it sounds cliche, but when dealing with the world of Ace Attorney, it's a good indicator of character.  He woke up in a bad circumstance and really tried to make the best of it he could, he just went about it the wrong way.  His obsession of coffee can indicate a fear of falling asleep again.  He manages to work coffee metaphors into EVERYTHING. (And often throws his cups at Phoenix.  This was actually referenced in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3)  He has has a large guilt complex.  This complex got him to save Maya from an attempt on her life, but rather then doing the sensible thing (Namely calling the police and warning Maya straight on) He instead sets up a situation where she had a greater chance of being in danger.  While it ultimately proves successful, the price was quite high and it causes his future execution and the death of Maya's mother.  Even when he knows that this reveal will cause his death, he still moves forward.  (Admittedly, how the law can be applied in the case is rather confusing, but the point remains.  Death is an option and he fights for true justice)

And he still finds peace.  Once Phoenix (regretfully) reveals that Godot is the killer, he starts to cry bloody tears.  He Calls Phoenix by his actual name, and seems finally relieved that he knows that Mia's legacy is in safe hands, that he can admit to himself that Phoenix could not have stopped Mia's death, and that he now has something to talk to, even if it is only for a short time.

Godot is quite easily one of the more complex characters in Ace Attorney history.  His Ace Attorney gimmicks are much more then that.  Each line, each animation, sets up and expands on a character who's hints of tragedy are far more then what we would expect.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reasons behind violence.

I was inspired by this IGN editorial yesterday:Editorial: Shock Without The Awe and it got me thinking about violence in video games. (note: I have not played Modern Warfare 3, so I am taking my information from the editorial)

I'm not going to argue "all violence desensitizes us to real violence" or "It's all fake so it doesn't matter" That is a VERY thorny matter, and one I've bumped heads with alot. I'm going to be looking at something else.

Justified violence.

When do we see violence in games and how does everyone react to it?  Is it just there to drum up controversy or does it mean something more.

First: I'm going to look at one of the most famous scenes in video games.  (Final Fantasy 7 spoilers)

Yep, Aerith's death.  Something that traumatized more then one generation of gamers.  You may ask: Why was it put in there?  She didn't sacrifice herself heroically to do something, in fact, she may not even had needed to die at all!

That was the point.

Yoshinori Kitase was the director and co writer of Final Fantasy VII.  During his work on the story, his mother died.  While they had known they were going to kill off one of the characters for a while (It boiled down to either Aerith or Barrett as they were the only other characters besides Cloud created at that time)  the circumstances around the death dramatically changed.  

 

 They were annoyed with the Hollywood cliche of "sacrifice to save others" and when Yoshinori Kitase's mother died, he realized his own way of coming to grips with his mother's death and how to make the death meaningful in the story. 


"In the real world things are very different. You just need to look around you. Nobody wants to die that way. People die of disease and accident. Death comes suddenly and there is no notion of good or bad. It leaves, not a dramatic feeling but great emptiness. When you lose someone you loved very much you feel this big empty space and think, 'If I had known this was coming I would have done things differently. These are the feelings I wanted to arouse in the players with Aerith's death relatively early in the game. Feelings of reality and not Hollywood.

 

 Tetsuya Nomura also stated: 

 

"Death should be something sudden and unexpected, and Aerith's death seemed more natural and realistic." "When I reflect on Final Fantasy VII, the fact that fans were so offended by her sudden death probably means that we were successful with her character. If fans had simply accepted her death, that would have meant she wasn't an effective character.

 

(Quotes taken from the Final Fantasy wiki page on Aerith's death)

 

 This death meant something to the player because it was so random, so unexpected, and so violent.  (I do not like Aerith that much(and I knew about her death), but even I was shaken up  by her death and I had to take a break when playing it.  I'm still very glad that it hasn't yet been made into a HD scene for Advent Children or a PS3 FF7.  The closest we've gotten was the seconds before in Advent Children during a brief glance into Cloud's thoughts)  and it spurred the characters on.  They fought to avenge Aerith and save the world.


Now, bizarre as that may seem, that is a positive portrayal. How about a negative one? (Bioshock 2 spoilers)

Bioshock 1 had set up the expectations of morality but they weren't really fleshed out.  (Even the developers admit it)  This was fixed for Bioshock 2.  This ending is a punch in the gut.

 

During the game, you see the line "Lamb is watching" all over Rapture.  Eventually it is revealed to refer to two characters, the antagonist "Sofia Lamb" and her daughter and your Little Sister, Eleanor.

 

Eleanor spends the game watching what her "Father" does.  But you don't truly grasp that until the end of the game.  Your ending is decided upon two factors. How you treated the various non threatening bosses (such as Grace Halloway, Alexander the Great, etc)  and how you treated the little sisters.  If you had a tendency to forgive and allow the bosses to live, Eleanor saves Sofia.  If you both killed or saved, Eleanor lets Sofia drown.  If you kill the bosses, she kills her mother.  For the little sisters, how you interacted with them deals with if/how Eleanor takes your ADAM.  Saving them has Eleanor take your ADAM as her conscious, mixed saving/killing leaves Eleanor confused and waits to see if you will let her take your ADAM.  Killing the little sisters has her take your ADAM by force. 


 

Bioshock 2, like Modern Warfare 3, does not dwell on the analysis of these actions.  It literally does not have the time.  Subject Delta is dying and how his life ends is how it ends.  He can not change what Eleanor has become.  As a result, some players may not realize what they have done to Eleanor until it is too late.  It is very effective because there is little post action analysis.  This is different from the Modern Warfare 3 example All the analysis is before.  The entire game is about free will.  In playing for themselves, players may not realize the little girl they have corrupted.  



I'm with the article.  More analysis like this can help show what games can actually do for the sake of art. There will be crap, not all art or literature is classic, but if enough gems shine through, our hobby can actually get respect.