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 and you can salivate over some food.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Character Analysis - Doug Rattmann


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. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Character Design - Wheatley

Wheatley was one of the first characters introduced for Portal 2. And people loved him. (Portal 1 and 2 spoilers) The Cores from the previous game were very popular, especially the cake and curiosity  cores.

So, when it was announced that there would be cores in Portal 2, people were interested. Then Wheatley was introduced.

He was funny, he knew about the facility, and he was destroyed by GLaDOS. Of course we liked him, and that was the point! Valve had to make a certain scene very hard to take. This one

Valve did a great set up. When they set up Wheatley, they decided the more sane robots would sound like robots. (See GLaDOS) but the insane ones would sound human so we would trust them more. They also did research and found that English accents gave players an expectation of intelligence.

Despite this, they gave some hints that Wheatley was in idiot before the change. We see that his form of "Hacking" involves either slamming into glass or trying to convince non sentient/sapient machines to let him into the framework.

And when Chell finds the Portal gun, his advice isn't very helpful despite being nearby. It is Doug Rattmann who gives more help despite being completely insane and not even present. (I ADORE Doug, he'll get an entry later) While it is unnerving, it only makes him more charming to the viewer.

His model also gets an upgrade compared to Portal 1. The original models just rotated, Portal 2 models actually show emotion. he "breathes", rolls around, narrows his eyes, etc. It's rather impressive. It also makes Wheatley more likable. He seems human. He's a loveable idiot trapped in this sphere of a body. So his betrayal is a real kick to the gut.

And when we get around to seeing him in his altered form it simply looks wrong. GLaDOS's head fits with the body. It's white like the body and it looks sort of like an actual head (At the very least it seems properly proportioned) Wheatley is too circular and too small. He seems wrong, and VALVE takes every opportunity to remind us of this fact. GLaDOS never watched us in test chambers (Well, not with big screens anyway)

Wheatley always watches. Wheatley's likeability and humanity is the driving force of his character.In the beginning, we chase him because we like him. In the end, we chase him because his likeability now makes him seem "off".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musical Monday - Legend of Zelda overworld theme

The first game I ever rented was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I chose it because it had a golden cartridge. (I was new to gaming and our Nintendo 64. Don't judge me)

It was amazing. I only managed to beat the first dungeon and I had fallen in love with the game. I preordered Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker specifically to be able to own a copy of Ocarina of Time.

Over time, I've played the other Legend of Zelda's. While (unfortunately) I've only beaten a few (I seem to have developed a mental block on beating games) I've grown to really like the music. And this piece is particularly awesome.

I know, 8 bit music but this really helps it get across. You just want to charge and fight and get to the next dungeon. I'm really glad it stuck with the series for so long (But for some reason, it wasn't in Ocarina of Time)

At some point I'll probably analyze music, but that's not for today or this piece. Just enjoy it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Your Worst Fear

I'm sorry for the late/distracted post today. Busy day! Anyway...

Arkham Asylum spoilers.

What is your worst fear? This video is a good answer for what is Batman's worst fear.

The tables being turned. He goes crazy and the inmates are running the asylum. We've seen Scarecrow's fear gas before in Arkham Asylum, but this is the most powerful dose and it's set up in a unique way.

A Gameplay glitch. The fear of a Gamer, a glitch that resets your progress.

Once we get past your fear, we see Batman's. We see him lose control. He's always been scared of that, of being unable to control who he has become.

In a why, that's partly why the game is so good. We really are Batman here. We understand his fears and we are limited by his lack of powers. It's part of the game's power.

And with this scene, we understand his fear. It's partly a fear of death, but the idea of utterly failing too. "Joker" has become the hero. He runs the game, the town.

He beats it though, in a way that's totally Batman. He keeps his cool and simply fights back against the universe. He throws off Scarecrow in order to show something.

HE runs the show, not the villains.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Disk DLC

(My apologies if this is random/not very well thought out today. I'm in a tad of a rush because I'm helping around the house)

This is kinda a problem now a days (I'll talk about DRM later)

On Disk DLC.

DLC (or Downloadable Content) is either a bane or boon of the modern digital based gaming culture. It can be generally anything. New Skins for characters to change how they look, a new map for the latest shooter, or a game add on for post game content. Sometimes glitch fixes and character balances come along for the ride too.

Three companies, for me, that do DLC right are

1) Media Molecule with "Little Big Planet". Alot of the material is available for free so DLC covers new costumes (such as Solid Snake, Ezio, Cloud, etc) or new levels that have a new mechanic added in (Such as Metal Gear Solid's levels with the Paintinator and Pirates of the Caribbean's levels with water focus) They sincerely listen to the community and try to get costumes and levels that the fans want.

2) Harmonix/EA with "Rockband" (series). The DLC just keeps on coming so it's become absolutely apparent by now there just wasn't enough room on the disk to have all of this music. Add in licensing issues and some music not being released when the game came out... it leads to respect on my end that they keep this coming.

3)Criterion/EA WITH "Burnout: Paradise City" There was a lot of DLC provided for free and when you paid it was for the higher end items like the "Famous Cars" pack or the ENTIRE ISLAND that they added to the game.

(Special Notice goes to Square Enix who up until now generally refused to put DLC into their game so that was nice since what was on the disk is the entire game. No shelling out of extra money required)

So, what about the other games? Well, let's look at something like Fighting Games.
Before, Alternate costumes would be something to be unlocked on the disk and they would look different from their main costumes aside from recoloring. (As this was sprite based it would, admittedly, be a bit easier) Now most costumes are added in as DLC. Most people want to know why they can't just unlock these costumes. It gets worse.

Sometimes the material is already on the disk and you're just buying (or preordering) a key to do this. (this can be noticed if the downloaded item is incredibly small) These Keys used to be in game flags, like "Beat the boss in 3 minutes" for example. However turning them into something to buy for a few dollars turns the costumes from a badge of honor for gamers into a grab for money by producers.

Then there is problems like with "Marvel Vs Capcom 3" where if you preordered at Gamestop you would get the Jill and Shuma Gorath DLC. "Great!" you may say, except these two are almost completely on disk.

No, really, apparently it's only slightly buggy.

This was done only to influence preorders, which makes it a money grab.

If the DLC is sincerely off disk, I don't mind. Things get cut during production and sometimes they have time later to remedy this. Other times they just couldn't get it to work license wise. Sometimes the disk is just packed full of data and the only way it can be in game is when it's downloaded. I understand these. Not to mention that gaming is expensive to produce and it's always a gamble. So, now that people will buy DLC, it makes sense to put some into the games.

But why pay $2 for these costumes, when they are already on the disk?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Design analysis - Bioshock's Medical pavilion

Bioshock is one of my favorite games,so I'll be visiting it a lot. I just want to talk about what makes it one of my favorite games.

The design of it's world.

We're going to skip over the (FANTASTIC!) opening right now and skip to one of the earliest levels, the Medical pavilion. (Note: this game is rated M for a reason. A large chunk of the reasons can be seen below)

The opening level is very good at setting up the game. We hear about how the world has gone crazy through ADAM. We fight Splicers. We see Big Daddies and Little Sisters for the first time.

The Medical pavilion is the first time this all comes together. First, though, there is the shock that all of this is happening in a medical pavilion, a place supposedly devoted to healing. We have secretaries murdered behind desks, splicers attacking eachother in the halls, and Steinman's little "Dioramas" all over the place.

One of my favorite parts of Bioshock is very rarely are items placed randomly. Teddy bear on a wheelchair? There were kids here. Dead splicer with luggage? She was trying to escape the medical wing. Splicer sobbing over a small casket? A baby died. If you actually pay attention, it really helps in telling a story. (I wasn't, though. It was my first shooter and M game and I was mostly "Oh, gosh, thatthingischasingmeandithasagunsmashattackbuttonsmashattackbuttonshootthethingohnothereisanotherone-) Some items are for shock, others are for terror, and others are to tell a story but each item DOES mean something.

Then there is the actual scenery. The floor, walls, and ceiling (along with various aesthetic touches like plants and benches) are very rarely whole. The floor is ripped up, walls are broken or painted on, and water leaks from the ceiling. They can saw "Rapture is a mess" or they can show it with these items.

Admittedly, Welcome to Rapture has some of these items, but they don't have the same effect due to one thing. "Welcome to Rapture" lacks a boss.

Meet: Dr. Steinman

Dr. Steinman is mentioned by Atlas early on and gets an Audio Diary talking about how ADAM has improved the medical process. However, we don't go "Oh Crap" until we walk into a room and see "Above All, do no harm" apparently written in blood (or red paint to imply blood) with cut up photos of women around and an audio diary offered up to the viewer. We need to get past Stienman in order to survive and he makes it quite clear that the medical pavilion is HIS. Splicers have made a point in their delusion to warn that "Steinman kills" and as time goes on, we see why.

He quite clearly has been sampling ADAM in his audio diaries. He consistently talks about the need to be beautiful and how ADAM accomplishes that. As the macabre temples to beauty continue he explains how not only has he seen Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) wandering the halls, he's had lunch with her while discussing beauty. (result? Picasso made the most beautiful people)And then he believes that beauty is a moral imperative, turning both incredibly shallow and incredibly terrifying.

Why is this important? While we have heard, repeatedly, that ADAM can cause insanity, we have never actually seen the effects. Yes, we've seen splicers but they mostly just say the same phrases over and over so while they say SOMETHING when they attack, we don't really know how they got there. Steinman is different. We watch his fall through his audio diaries and we are helpless to do anything. Rapture hadn't been defaced by anything like his murals before we come across them the game. We have never had a splicer deliberately work against us and plan against us. And bosses don't usually have this amount of set up unless it's something like the final boss. (At least, the bosses I have run across don't. I don't claim to have played every game ever so I may be wrong)

And then we get this.

There is a reason that Steinman is my scariest moment in Bioshock, or in any game ever.

If it was just a moment it would have been more random. But due to the careful amount of set up, we are properly terrified. He is not an aberration in a shooter, he is not a typical splicer that we can run across. He is the leader of the medical pavilion and the boss of the level. He comes across as powerful. He has made it clear he will not tolerate anyone ugly. He is going to kill us.

Character Analysis - Midna

The Legend of Zelda series is known for many thing. It's known for challenging dungeons, a timeline that people have yet to figure out, unique characters and fantastic gameplay.

But these characters rarely evolve.

(Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess spoilers below)

When we meet Midna, she inspires fear, not confidence. Link has been captured, turned into a wolf, and is trapped inside a cell. When he wakes up, the first creature he (and the player) sees is Midna and her slasher smile waiting outside the cell. And that chain Link was having trouble with? She snaps it quickly. She very quickly makes it clear that she just wants some power that was taken from her and while she doesn't want to annihilate everything, if they lose some humans she's fine with that.

Plot goes on and we see her do something unknown to the Zelda series. Character Development.

By the time the third piece of fused shadow rolls around, she's seen enough of Link and his world to feel a bit sorry for him. When she is dying due to Zant, she begs Zelda to help Link and to ignore the fact she's dying. When they arrive at the desert, she openly shows affection for Link. (Which Link pays back later when he takes care of a fainted Midna after she used her abilities to open a pathway to Ganon)

In her world, Link is openly treated as an Equal. They now work as a team, not her ordering him around (though there is some of that, but it's due more towards Link ignorance then Midna exerting control)

When the time comes to take on Ganon, they are not only equals but a team tied together by hard work, sacrifice, and friendship. They know they could not do this on their own, and they embrace how they work much better as a team then on their own.

So, how does this come about? It's really simple. Human interaction.

Or, rather, Midna watching human interaction. She does most of the talking in the pair, but she spends her time watching Link interact with other people from the shadows. We know she's paying attention since she frequently comments on conversations and interactions. She sees how the humans are sincerely just trying to live their lives and how the Twili are manipulated by Zant. She knew of it to some extent before, she was banished from her rightful role as leader after all, but she does not allow revenge to consume her. This may be because she and Zelda have also known eachother for a while. Zelda, bearing the Triforce of Wisdom, assuredly must have talked to Midna about life and self sacrifice. We also see people sacrifice themselves for her. Link takes on Zant to save her, and Zelda transfers her triforce powers to Midna to save her life, even though she knows that she (Zelda) will probably die. While she okay with humans before Zelda's sacrifice, she is much more "human" after it... even if she doesn't lose her trademark snark.

Midna is easily my favorite Legend of Zelda character. I hope she can return some day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Deleted Content - Kingdom Hearts part 1

Hey? Isn't this Kingdom Hearts, the Disney/Square Enix mashup? I've never seen THIS world before.... What is it?

It's the Jungle Book. And, yes, those are fully functional models of Terra, Ven, and Aqua. As you can see, Jungle Book was fairly late in development when it got scrapped. Why?

Well, we don't know. But I do have a guess.

Did you ever watch Talespin?

By the time Talespin was created, Louie Prima (note, I originally put in Louie Armstrong, but it appears I was wrong. My apologies)(King Louie's Original Voice Actor) had died. So, Disney hired a very good voice actor named Jim Cummings (He's also Pooh, Tigger, Ray, Don Karnage, Darkwing Duck, NegaDuck...) Jim Cummings has a skill in imitation so he imitated Louie Prima's performance.

Apparently he did it too well and Disney was sued by Louie Prima's widow for breech of contract. Since then, King Louie either does not speak or his cousin "Larry" shows up instead.

Now, look at the only perfectly complete room in the video. Apparently Terra was to interact with... King Louie.

My idea is that they started to program this world (and got very far!) by the time the legal issues with King Louie were made known. They were too far along with the project so they dummied out the world instead of reworking it. All hope is not lost though! Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is confirmed to consist of worlds that were highly considered for the other games. With the world partly built, we can assume that DDD is considering Jungle Book as well.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Hey there! My name is madammina (Just call me Mina) and I'm starting a video game blog. Some things to know about me:

My favorite character is Cyan Garamonde from Final Fantasy VI.
My favorite game is Sly 2.
My favorite genre is JRPG (but I also like Action/Adventure)
I play for story and character development.
I ADORE Video Game Soundtracks.

I won't treat my readers as idiots. I do want to have discussions, analysis, and to talk about much more then the latest release.

I hope to see you around!