Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sorry for the recent delays

Long story short, it was a busy day.  Have some OCremix! 

On a side note: today is the fifteenth Anniversary of FFVII.  Wow, time does fly!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Musical Monday - Twister Remix

The World Ends With You was composed by Takeharu Ishimoto, but was preformed by local Shibuya artists. The main singer for this song is called "Sawa"

Anyway, the song in question "Twister" is one of the iconic songs of The World Ends With You. (In fact, the Demo of Kingdom Hearts: 3D introduces Neku by playing 'Twister')  and the album remixes it several times.  I have to say, this is my favorite version. 

The power is yet unknown.  The power is yet unknown.  The power is yet unknown.  The power is yet unknown.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ace Attorney 5

(Please note that I will be using the reasonably assumed English names not the Japanese names for the games that have yet to come out.  This way everyone will know what I'm talking about.  Also: a few spoilers ahead)

So, out of semi nowhere, yesterday Capcom announced Ace Attorney 5.  While this is the Ace Attorney Franchise's 11th anniversary (Wow)  we haven't had a main game in about five years.  The first three games debuted on the GBA.

  Ace Attorney 1 came out in October 2001, but only in Japan.  After a surprisingly large number of imports, the game was localized and released as a DS game in 2005.  The DS version has an extra case that does some set up of AA2 and AA3.

  Ace Attoney 2 (Justice for All) was released in 2002 for the GBA and 2006 (Japan)/2007 (US/Europe) for the DS.  This version had no extra cases for the DS.

Ace Attorney 3 came out in 2004 for the GBA and 2007 for Japan/US (Europe got it in 2008) DS versions.  This one also had no special features, but did have five cases.

While it has been five years for the US, it's been around 8 years in Japan and Phoenix did not quite appear... well, not as himself.

Apollo Justice came out in 2008.  (please note some parts of Europe received Apollo Justice before Trials and Tribulations)  While Phoenix is in the game, he is the mentor character.   Originally he was not to be in the game at all, but Capcom wanted him in.

After that, Miles Edgeworth took over.  And it wasn't purely Ace Attorney.
His DS game debuted in 2009 for Japan and 2010 everywhere else.  It deviated from the normal "point and click/Visual Novel" style games in that Miles, and other characters, could actually walk around the scene to examine evidence.  As it was a more "Investigation" style game, it took the investigations subtitle.

Ace Attorney Investigations 2 was not localized outside of Japan (unfortunately)  but was released in 2011 in Japan.  (I would like to say that, this actually makes sense.  While I would like to play it, the Ace Attorney games are known for their VERY good localization that takes a lot of time.  By the time the localization came out, the DS would be mostly dead.  I hope they do eventually localize it.  It could get new life as a 3DS port or something similar.  What I've found of the story hints it was VERY good.  Plus we find out more about Gregory Edgeworth! That's always a plus.)

In the mean time, two side projects with the Ace Attorney squad appeared.

Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney.  We know pretty much nothing, but the conference yesterday showed a video. The video showed Maya and Phoenix on a plane heading to London, but nothing else is known at this time.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 came out in 2011.  In a spot of hope, Phoenix Wright made the cast list due to pure fan demand.  While a character from the AA franchise (either Franziska or Phoenix) has been considered for a 'Vs' fighting game before (Namely Tatsunoko vs Capcom)  it was scrapped due to localization difficulties.  ('OBJECTION!" is longer then "IRIJI" (I hope I spelled that right)).  If Phoenix made it into Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3 due to fan demand, maybe AAI 2 could make it over too.

Well, still no word on that, but now we have Ace Attorney 5 officially announced!

We also know nothing else.  Normally, the "Ace Attorney" in question is shown pointing over the title (Yes, Miles counts. He's still an Attorney) However, the title is blank.  We could be getting a new one, the Attorney could be new, or an old attorney could be getting redesigned. That still means we know nothing.  But it is interesting to see where the franchise has gone, and where it could go.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Level Design: Alan Wake

Admittedly, I'm still working my way through the game (my first Xbox exclusive!)  but I have to admit, I do like the feel.

(Spoilers ahead)

Alan Wake operates on a Day/Night cycle.  Once you finish the "Night" section, you see it's effect during the "Day".  The "Day" is also a lot quieter and moves the story along. 

For example, "Stuckey" is killed at night, the next day is spent wondering about his disappearance.  It's actually a nice way to tie it all together.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two things

1) the last two posts were supposed to be published for the day before. 

2)  I, unfortunately, have come down with some sort of bug or virus.  It's... not pleasant. And I can not write anything today. 

Thank you for your understanding.

Why systems shouldn't be Region Locked

Do you know these games?  The first one is obviously "Ace Attorney".  The second one is the precursor to Elite Beat Agents.  Aside from being on the DS, what do they have in common?

They were only localized due to imports.  For both games, Nintendo noticed a significant amount of people importing the game elsewhere.  How could they do this?

Because Nintendo decided to let people from one region play games from another region. It is the opposite of Region Locking and I don't know why Region locking is so popular.  This increases your install base and it gives you an idea of who else is interested in your games. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The problems with restricting the use of used games

We just keep getting hit with used games issues.  Anyway, according to this Kotaku article there may be some sort of anti used game software on the system.  Which leads to three main problems.

1) Sharing  One huge problem of this is the inability to share games between family members, friends, etc.  If I want to show off a game, it has to be on MY system.  I can't just bring a game over to someone's house and show it there.  A family member can't pass a game along because they grew out of "Viva Pinata" or whatever.  It restricts the ability to share games, and therefore future profits.  My family bought our N64 (And the Banjo games) because my brother played them with a friend.  Interactions like this usually build future buys down the line.  Playing that game has lead to some of my favorite gaming memories and this blog.  This is especially true for digital releases.  I can't send my copies of Trine to my friends. 

2) When games cease to be published.  The World Ends With You is a fantastic game. It's has an amazing story and localization.  The art is gorgeous. The battle system is beyond compare.  It is also no longer published.  If you want to get a game now, you have to buy it used.  No, none of the later profits go back to the company, but with anti used game software, no one can try the game later. Final Fantasy VI has been out of date even longer.  I got my copy on ebay. I love it to death, and I would not know how wonderful it is and how amazing Cyan is without being able to play a game used.

3) No real copies.  One of the big debates in PC gaming now is DRM.  The end result though for the more intense DRM is even if you buy a physical copy of a PC game you only own the license. If you can not check into certain servers, the game will refuse to play since it can't say the copy is legit.  This really punishes the users rather then the pirates (If the servers are down on the company side or the internet is out, you can't play your own, legal, copy)  Of course people turn to pirates then, they bought the game, they want to freaking play it. 

If this rumor is true, it restricts player interactions and possible future sales.  Yes, they get more money NOW but it lowers likabiliity down the road and future sales.  How many fans do companies have now because someone decided to give their friend a copy of their game, or they bought a game cheap off of ebay?  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Character Analysis - Miles Edgeworth

Our job is to find truth, no matter how painful it may be.

Miles Edgeworth is a critical part of the Ace Attorney franchise.  (Because Ace Attorney Investigations 2 has not been localized for the west and the AAI series takes place after the main games, I will focus on the main games.  As always, Spoilers ahead)   
We meet Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth in case 1-2. (Turnabout Sisters) He explains that he has decisive evidence, has never lost a case, and he strives to find EVERY defendant guilty. Rumors persist of bribes to judges, doctored evidence, and back room deals so the defendants are always convicted.   Several times in the series it's revealed he asked people to keep quiet on parts of what they saw or heard so it helps his case.  You hate him with every fiber of your being.

The guilty will always lie, to avoid being found out. There's no way to tell who is guilty and who is innocent! All that I can hope to do is get every defendant declared "guilty"! So I make that my policy.

 As such, he is the polar opposite of our cheerful and snarky Main Character, Defense Attorney Phoenix Wright, who believes in his clients no matter what. This is even more striking when it's revealed that Phoenix and Miles used to be friends.

Over the course of the game, we see him loosen up slightly.  Wendy Oldbag gets him visibly flustered and he tells Will Powers that he (Edgeworth) is a fan.  And then he is arrested for murder.

He refuses Phoenix's help a few times, but then we see the first true weakness.  A minor earthquake hits while Phoenix and Miles are talking about the case.  Phoenix and Maya are fine, but Miles is curled up in a fetal position on the floor.  A little more digging into his past reveals that when he was young, he had been trapped in an elevator with his father(A defense attorney) and a baliff because an earthquake shut off the power.  His father was shot in that elevator and Miles Edgeworth has spent every night after that dreaming that he shot his father.  While it was eventually revealed that he did not commit the murder he was accused of, he then confessed to killing his father.   Phoenix pulled out all the stops and managed to mount a case that proved not only was Miles innocent, but that the person who raised Miles after his father's death was guilty!  ( I am hugely simplifying this case.  Play it, please.  I'm leaving out most of the DL-6, Yani Yogi, the reason why Miles doesn't believe Maya can summon the dead.  There's just alot here that I can't talk about right now)

After this he only showed up in the final cases of games 2 and 3.  Despite this, his presence is felt.  Phoenix believes that he committed suicidein game 2 because he was ashamed of how the last few cases ended.  This makes it even more amazing when it's revealed he's actually been living internationally and was the one who gave the key evidence in Phoenix's last trial.  When he finally enters a court room again, he reveals what he is now fighting for, the truth.  

He will find the truth, no matter what.  He will use the truth to convict the guilty.  And he will do it while remaining above the law.  There is reason why his theme is "Great Revival"
So, what does all this tell about him?

He's human.  While it may seem obvious, we can easily find these little chinks in his armor that show how human he is.  He is terrified of Earthquakes (the AAI series expands this to elevators also) When he heard Phoenix was dying, he flew half way around the world to see him one last time  and finish his case. (This turns out to be completely false.  Phoenix and Miles share a grade school friend named "Larry Butz"  and Larry has a tendency to exaggerate.).  He's launched task forces to save Maya at least twice,   and he is secretly a fan of the Steel Samurai (this was hinted at several times in the main series, but received more focus in AAI) 

He's stubborn, but not stupid.  Through out the series he's stuck to whatever he believes is true.  He's believed Maya killed her sister,  that he killed his father, and all defendants are guilty. (This last bit may be part of a guilt complex. He believes he killed his father, they already convicted his father's killer, so he prosecutes everyone else to make up for it) But when enough solid evidence comes to light that shows his ideas may be wrong, he rethinks the idea and chooses what he believes is the truth. It may be the old idea, but it can also be the new one.

He really does want to do the right thing.  Living with prosecutors made him chose the prosecutor path over the defense path, but the right thing is what he wants to do.  When he believes all defendants are guilty he pursues that path, but when he realizes he was wrong he adopts his new path and continues to follow it.  He will fight tooth and nail for what he believes is the right thing to do.  This has included randomly objecting to buy Phoenix time, having the defense call witnesses, BEING a defense attorney at least once,  and stepping in to prosecute when his adopted sister was shot (she survived).

There is quite a few reasons why Miles Edgeworth a fan favorite character, and I've barely gone into any depth (and I've left AAI out of this analysis) Play the games, see why Miles is so great. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Musical Monday -Parasite Eve

Yoko Shimomura is my favorite composer.  I have yet to play Parasite Eve, but this is haunting, beautiful, and battle ready. 

May I ask what games you would like to see me cover? I feel like I'm always repeating the same games.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I can't think of anything today

Have some music!
This is for the fan fighting game "Fighting is Magic" Basically, someone is programming a game that involves the My Little Pony characters fighting eachother similar to Street Fighter.  It actually doesn't look that bad. 

It's in Pre Alpha now, but they are recording voices and they just released a long explanation on how they are making the sprites.  It's a good read:
Read it here.

And finally, yes, I am a Brony.  (Or pegasister.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Level Design - Sonic Unleashed

Sonic Unleashed had it's issues.  I will not deny it.  But, at heart, it was a fun and legitimately challenging game.  Like this level. You would think that this level is easy.  That it's just following the lines.

It's not.  It is NOT. 

Which is why it's great.  You almost never fail so badly, you just can't keep up speed on the water, or you miss a jump or something. There's no bottomless pits, the water is a fantastic curveball,  and there are so few enemies that you are tempted to beat them instead of ignore them.  And then there's the freefall segments...

This was the first Sonic I played, so while some of these may be old hat to some of my other readers it was new to me.  Unfortunately, my copy (well, more my baby brother's copy.  He only wanted me to play the game and he wanted me to play it all the time)  broke recently so an 'S' rank is always beyond me. It's too bad, I thought I could do it if I had one more try... or one more after that... or one more after that....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Character Design - Master Xehanort

Master Xehanort is evil. He's the main villain of the Kingdom Hearts series and does he look it.  However, there is no main "evil" part to his design. Instead, we're subconsciously picking up the clothing of the future bosses!

The black cloak and boots is similar to the cloak and boots of Organization XIII (He does wear an Organization cloak at some points, but he is obscured when he does)
The white shirt and gloves is similar to Ansem: Seeker of Darkness' shirt type thing and his gloves. He also has similar boots. The coat is similar too, but is too light. (However, it has the red inner lining)

The eyes, though, are from Xemnas and Saix. Saix, though, is the only one with the ears.

(And, yes, Saix is a villain.  He's one of the main villains from 358/2 , which came out before Birth By Sleep, where he delightfully screwed with Roxas', Axel's, and Xion's head and they showed he was behind the elimination of the other members in Chain of Memories.  Yes, he's evil)

So, what about these cues?

These cues are not overtly evil.  There's no random spikes, there's no blood, everything fits in the Kingdom Hearts Universe (Such as the white gloves, though the Disney ones are a bit more puffy)  You just feel unnerved when you look at him. 

That is a powerful design, where nothing is particularly out of place, everything looks natural (for the world) but it just doesn't fit.  You simply know intrinsically that he is a villain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I tried to black out my page for the day... it didn't work.

Anyway, PLEASE educate yourselves on SOPA and PIPA and make a stand (and on ACTA for my foreign visitors)  I could be thrown in jail for making this blog.  I did not intend to violate copyright, did not try to "take" a sale and this was to improve my writing and blogging skills (and to get people interested in various games)  Hopefully, you bought a game because of something I brought up.

If I do get thrown in jail, I hope you've enjoyed the ride. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Street Fighter X Tekken Trailers

I really like these trailers since it not only sets up the plot (sorta) but also sets up the feel of the world (BTW, Sorry about Juri's odd face)  We can tell that the Tekken and the Street Fighter don't like each other.  And, more importantly, The Tekken side started off winning but now it's more evenly matched.  The rivalry is heating up and the story is coming together. 

What's even nicer is there are funny ones in all of this.  The most recent M.Bison/Juri and Jin/Xiao are serious, but the Rufus/Zangreif and Bob/Julia is rather silly.  The Poison/Hugo, Cody/Guy and King/Marduk straddles all of them. 

I wish more companies did more trailers like this.  Not much on plot, not much on gameplay, (and we know it) but it looks AMAZING and it gets everyone excited!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musical Monday Sly Cooper 2

I know I love JRPG's, but my FAVORITE game is Sly 2.  Everything just comes across as perfect.  Story is decent, it has some good twists, gameplay is fun, the characters have great interactions.  I could play it over and over and over....

So, here's the main theme!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shout outs

(Arkham City and Lost Spoilers)

So, yeah, it looks like the Joker is a lost fan and he didn't like the finale.  Lost was also referenced in Half Life 2
Anyone else know any Lost references?

(Sorry for the Half Life spam)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Character analysis - Jade

Post fifty already?  Wow.  Thank you for reading and commenting!  (And if you don't comment, drop by and say hi! I don't bite!)

Anyway, Jade. Jade is from Beyond Good and Evil (Spoilers below) 

She looks fairly normal (other then the green)  Her job is somewhat normal (she takes care of orphaned children and is a freelance photographer.  The game takes place in wartime, so orphaned children can be expected) When we meet Jade (the game does not open up on her, but she appears in a few minutes)  she is meditating with a goat like child.  Soon after, Aliens attack and she tries to run to the house to engage the shield.  She makes it to the house, but she doesn't have enough money for electricity so she has to defend her house and her wards.  These four things give us a good idea on what she is like.  1) She's peaceful (or at least tries to be)  2) she's cares for other people  3) She's broke 4) she can fight.  Two and Three together tells us that she probably spends her money on items for the house and kids rather then herself. 

The rest of the game is spent tracking down the Aliens responsible for attacking their planet and tying them to the people who are supposed to protect their planet.  While tracking down mysteries and animals (she's a photographer and right now she is cataloging animals for pay)  she keeps on getting... flashes.  It's either memories or telepathy, but the voice keeps on calling someone "Shauni".  Jade then uses that term as her code name.  The voice tells her to surrender to the invaders.  She refuses. The children she was watching  get taken, her father figure gets captured, but she keeps on trucking.  She works her way into secret base, rescues everyone she can find, and discovers something: She is Shauni.  She is what the aliens were searching for.  She is magic.  Magic hasn't been brought up in the world of Beyond Good and Evil, it's all implied science. She is someone who is BEYOND it.  She is implied to be a force, something that could be beyond good and evil.

But she isn't.  She makes an honest wage, she has friends, she takes care of children, she has adopted family, she risks her life for the truth and she would prefer to be non violent.    She wants to stop the invasion by people realizing what is going on, not by forcing them to an answer.

She could awaken limitless power, but she doesn't.  She'd rather stay as a poor, honest, caring, peaceful woman then do anything else.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Deleted Content - Portal 2

"A man with a briefcase was just here to see you!"
(Spoilers for Half Life and Portal below)

Portal 2 and Half Life exist in the same universe.  Black Mesa and Aperture were constantly competing for government resources but had two different philosophies on products.  Aperture tried to make the best products ever by constantly testing them but rarely sold them while Black Mesa sold products that people weren't completely sure about.  Both companies ended up being death traps.  Black Mesa triggered an invasion of earth while Aperture managed to load people's consciousness onto computers which then go crazy and kill all the scientists on "Take Your Daughter To Work Day".   

Despite that, the two games haven't had much crossover.  In Half Life 2 you find plans for the "Borealis" ship that were signed by GLaDOS, while in Portal Aperture and Black Mesa are competing for grants, and in Portal 2 you can find the Borealis (Well, it's dock)  and some more competition between the companies.

There was going to be more.  

In the early cuts of "Portal 2" Wheatley was apparently supposed to mention a man in a briefcase had dropped by to see Chell.  Anyone who's played Half Life could make the connection, The G-man was interested in Chell.

It was cut so it's now non canon, but it's interesting to speculate.

What role would Chell have played in the larger Half Life universe?  She left Aperture without her gun (and she can't really portal onto many surfaces outside of Aperture) so how could she have helped?  The G-man has been known to take an interest in people his "Superiors" don't like, could she have been one of them?  Considering how both she and Gordon are mutes (Though Chell is mute by choice.  She doesn't want to give GLaDOS and the other robots the satisfaction of a reply)  would one break and talk or would they both be kept silent? Would we switch between the two characters?  Are robots immune to the G-man's "Somebody Else's Problem" glamor? 

So many questions, but something to think about.  What do you think the G-man would have done in Portal 2?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Level Design - Half Life 2 opening

I've never played Half-life 1, but when Half-life 2 opens, you know you are in one heck of a weird world.

Gordon Freeman is a silent protagonist, so he doesn't divulge any information.  We get all the information from the world around him.

For starters, opening up to that image of the G-man is INCREDIBLY creepy.  He does nothing, he threatens nothing, but something just screams "WRONG!"  which is the point.  The G-man was developed to fall firmly into the Uncanny Valley so you can pick him out easily and realize how "off" he seems. The fact that we wake up in the middle of a subway car with no knowledge of how we actually got there only adds to the creepiness.

Once we exit, we are greeted by a semi abandoned train station.  It may have trains, but people aren't reacting right. People are missing, the stations are trashy, and the place simply feels wrong.  It doesn't help the police don't really look like police with those masks and are hassling everyone.  When Gordon steps through a door, he triggers a response and he gets escorted back to be tortured. 

When he finally escapes, he goes through the streets of a completely desolate town, the PA confirms how everyone is now a slave, people are scared and the standard of living is low. 

You know something is wrong.  Other then the PA deal (which is background noise) each individual element wouldn't be too noticeable.  We have security now a days in train stations, places aren't always clean, things generally look fine if you look at them individually. It's the whole that causes problems.  The fact that what spells out the fact the world is in danger isn't an explosion, but a train station speaks volumes about the value of setting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Character Analysis- Mark Meltzer

There is a reason why Mark was a late addition to the game... (Bioshock 2 Spoilers)

Mark Meltzer was created for the Bioshock ARG called "There's Something in the Sea"  He was an unknown character at first, just someone filling in a map.  The map has news paper clippings, photographs, and notes talking about the disappearances of several little girls who fit a certain profile.... ages 5 to 7 with dark hair.  Late in phase one, we find out the person who filled in the map just lost his own daughter to the monster, and we find out his name is Mark Meltzer. 

Mark is revealed over the story to be smart and dedicated.  He's being threatened by a mysterious force over the story and as a result he loses his daughter, his wife, and his status.  He has friends in odd places (such as the National UFO society)  but by looking at unconventional data he managed to pull together a picture of the disappearances.  Either as a threat or encouragement, the Big Sister who threatened him may be the one who is leaving him clues. 

He receives a record, puzzle boxes, and drawings from a mysterious place underneath the sea.  Above the sea, he finds information about people who just disappeared after world war two (such as Andrew Ryan, Dr. Suchong, Dr. Tenenbaum, Sander Cohen... the citizens of Rapture)  and maybe where Rapture existed.  The information and it's sources get more and more outlandish, but there can be no denying that the information fits.  Eventually he makes his way into Rapture.

Once he arrives there, he gathers information about the Splicers and about his daughter.
We lose his audio diaries, but he fills in important pieces of the puzzle.  And then we learn his fate.

So, what do we know about Mark?
He's incredibly loving. He was worried about a series of disappearances.  He had nothing to do with the vanishings, but he looked into them anyway.  When he lost his daughter to The Big Sister, he didn't give her up as dead, he looked even harder.

He's devoted and determined.  Mark searched for months.  He lived through revolts, mental institutions, assassination attempts, puzzles, Splicers, and Big Sisters in order to get Cindy (and the other girls) back. The only reason he stopped looking is because he found her.  Which then lead to him being captured, but that is because relief dulled his senses.

He's human.  Through the letters and phone calls we find out about a very devoted man.  He has friends, family, interests... we don't see that in Rapture.  People are usually very extreme and violent due to ADAM splicing, but he has none of that.   He occasionally fights back in Self Defense. He doesn't have a madness mantra.  We see him leaving his hat around his apartment, we hear him worry about money, we read about how he was tricked or how he went down the wrong path in his search, we notice how he keeps photos of his family around.  We may not know all of his little quirks, but it is enough.  We root for him because we see that he is, entirely, human.

He's clever. First, he manages to FIND Rapture, a city in the middle of the sea who's location has been hidden for years. The clues are scattered and obtuse, but Mark puts them together and actually discovers Rapture.   Jack and Delta also found Rapture, but Jack was manipulated into finding Rapture and Delta's outside Rapture status is only hinted at in a conversation that calls him "Johnny Topside"  Both Jack and Delta found Rapture years ago.  Mark found it in 1968.  The developers stated that the enemies of Bioshock 2 would be more powerful.  Jack (the Player Character from the last game)  would probably die if he entered into Rapture now.  Jack, canonically, gets at least one splice and quite a few weapons.  Mark has... a pistol.  That's it.  He has to think and plan his way through Rapture in order to avoid Splicers and find Cindy. And in that he gets about half way through Rapture and the only reason the Big Sister surprises him is because he's in shock from seeing Cindy. 

And then we get right back to loving.  Between losing his identity to protect Cindy or simply dying, he chooses to be with Cindy. 

Not bad for a character who isn't supposed to exist.... Well, originally.   During the "There's Something in the Sea" viral campaign, Irrational Games revealed Mark's address.  People started to send him fan letters.  The campaign became more interactive because of the support and Mark was put into the game, along with Cindy.  (due to time constraints, Cindy's model doesn't have blond hair and a planned trophy for rescuing Cindy was cut)  When Mark was put in, originally he was to follow Delta but the final product had it the other way around.

Mark is one of my favorite characters.  He's loving, devoted, determined, and tragic.  There's a reason why fans were devestated to find that Big Daddy they just killed was Mark, and the Sister is Cindy.  He was something you don't see in Rapture and we loved him for it.  He was a devoted, human, father.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Legend of Zelda official timeline

Yes, Nintendo finally bowed to pressure and released the Zelda timeline.

(Spoilers for Ocarina of Time below)

While the debate over the Zelda timeline most likely had existed before Ocarina of Time, but not to the extent that it does/did now.  At the end of "Ocarina of Time"  Zelda (and Nintendo) splits the timeline into two.  In one, Link lives as an adult in the land he freed.  In the other, he returns to being a kid and stops Ganondorf by warning the king of Ganondorf's treachery.

The timeline was thrown into utter confusion.  It did not help that the subsequent games (Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess) offered confusing takes on the timeline, and then what about A Link to the Past and the Oracle series? Where did they fit in now?

Nintendo explained they had a timeline already set, and games were added as they were made.  Arguments were made, confusion was rampant, then Nintendo relented and released the official timeline.  One part threw the fandom for a loop.

In one scenario, Link fails.  A Link to the Past, Oracles, even the first game!  They all fit into this timeline.  While we still don't know what will happen in future games, we now have a baseline. The fandom needs to work out HOW exactly Link fails, we know that he does.  He is human.

 But, we still have issues.  We don't know what happened before Windwaker.  All we know is for some reason Link didn't rescue the country and Hyrule was buried under water.  The Zora (a water species) evolved into a bird species for some unknown reason and the Deku tree is trying to bring land back to Hyrule.  While it has been hundreds of years between Ocarina and Windwaker, it does leave questions.  We know Link failed before, did he fail then?  (It would be an interesting game, to play as Link fails in his quest).  Majora's mask was previously considered as the reason why Link didn't save Hyrule, but Marjora's Mask is in a different timeline so that can't be the reasons.  And with the separate timelines, what about Termina?  Does it differ because of the different timelines? Is it destroyed in the Adult and failure timelines, or does it exist somehow?   We also don't know where the Twili from Twilight Princess enter into the story.  We just know they revolted at some point before Twilight Princess and were punished. 

And, we must ask, was the Timeline even necessary?  Couldn't Twilight Princess fit between Ocarina and Wind Waker?  And maybe Ocarina be a bit of a remake of A Link to the Past?   But, when dealing with a game with a Time Travel mechanic, there must be repercussions.  All magic has a price, Time Travel even more so.  By splitting the games into separate timelines, they not only explain the absence of Ganon in some games, but allow themselves some room to grow.  While it gets rid of speculation, it is nice to have a base to work with when figuring out continuity for a series. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Musical Monday - Bastion Setting Sail, Coming Home

In other news, playing Skyward Sword keeps you from writing blog posts. Sorry for there being no post yesterday.

In yet other news, I REALLY should play this game. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sly Cooper techniques

Or, successful integration of story and gameplay.

Sly Cooper is searching for his family book, the Theivius Raccoonus. Storywise, each of Sly's ancestor adds a technique and then Sly can use it after he finds it. After finding Ruichi Cooper's page, he can ninja spire (land on spires and perch there).  His father's page allows Sly to slide on laser beams.

This is a good integration because Sly has to unlock each of these techniques (by finding the page) before he can use them.  A few of them are mandatory, but you can ignore the pages if you wish or collect all of them.  They help, but they are explained in story and you can only collect the techniques when you find them. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


I'm going to talk about localization in general today. 

Localization is the second part of translation that turns a good translated script into a great one.  When you translate, you first translate something literally.  "The vodka is good but the meat is rotten" is a well known example of a literal translation of "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak".  What localization does is smooth the words over to give accurate translations.   Almost every word we use has an alternate and more specific meaning, or what about context?  "Steal" vs "lift" mean the same thing, but have very different contexts. 

This is where localization comes into play.  They look at the word, it's context, and make sure that they have the best word that fits the scenario.  Check some examples out here.

Other problems of localization include slang or references to local events.  "Spastic" means excited in the US, but it's horribly insulting elsewhere.  Meanwhile, the Ace Attorney games have "Lotta Heart" who speaks in a particular Japanese dialect.  The implications of that dialect wouldn't transfer over to the US, so they made her southern instead.
Localization is what makes games more enjoyable.  "YOU SPOONY BARD!" was put in because English lacked a current word that expressed what the Japanese said.  It's now an iconic line.  (For the record, the literal translation is somewhere along the lines of 'you lovesick bastard')   Maya's noodles were replaced by hamburgers, Final Fantasy VI's heroine is called either "Tina" or "Terra"  (the point was to make it sound exotic to the player's ears. "Tina" isn't exotic in the west)  and Pokemon's names are often changed to get the pun or idea across. 

Literal isn't always better.  There are some things readers just won't get, either due to cultural differences, language subtleties, or a mix of the too.  Some things that okay in one language or culture  are very insulting in another.  Localization sees these problems and fixes them. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Legal history- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

The legal issues in games and media fascinate me (at some point, I WILL do the Modern Warfare 2 legal controversy)   so I'll cover one that has covered more then 80 years.

The history of Oswald the Lucky rabbit.

Oswald was designed by Walt Disney in the 1920's when Walt worked for Universal studios.  Oswald made his debut in 1927
(please note the film was silent in it's debut, sound was added later)

Oswald became a run away success, Walt Disney managed to create and perfect several animation techniques, his team was coming together... and Universal told him they had to cut his funding.  He either had to cut his (small) staff or stop using some of the more time consuming techniques.  Neither of these options was acceptable to Walt Disney, so he left Universal with his artists. He attempted to take Oswald too, but Universal said they held the copyright. (This is the story I've heard from respected Disney blogs, but Wikipedia is citing a physical text that states that Universal hired away most of his animators and Walt signed a contract who's fine print said that Universal had the copyrights)

So, Walt Disney started over with a new IP (Mickey Mouse!)  a new studio (which he ran so all budget and artistic issues went by him)  and he took the world by storm.  In the meantime, Oswald was a successful competitor for a few years, but he gradually faded away.  Oswald grew more and more distant from his Disney base and grew less popular as Mickey grew.  His last main appearance was in 1943 and he had a cameo in a Woody Woodpecker short in 1951
(Yes, Oswald turned into a grey and white rabbit)

Oswald faded into obscurity and many of his cartoons were lost to time.  (Universal would snip frames for things, and others were just lost)

Oswald was known among Disney fans for a while, but he didn't attract any wide attention until 2007.

At this point, Disney (the company)  went to Universal and said they wanted to buy Oswald back.  After much debate, Disney traded Al Michaels (A NFL sports announcer. ABC lost NFL broadcasting rights and Al Michaels wanted to join his old NFL partner on NBC) The Disney Company owns the character in 2007 appearances on and they own all Disney produced shorts.  Universal retains rights to Oswald from c1929 to 2007 (Oswald appeared in some merchandise and comic books)As a side note, this is probably why Oswald's design is still very "original flavor".  While Mickey and his group have had a lot of time to go through redesigns and personality shifts, Disney has not had the chance to do this with Oswald.  He has very little brand awareness, so they need to establish a base look (his original one) then develop it from there.

Disney didn't do much with Oswald,( he cameos in some park stuff, appeared on a bit of merchandise, and a DVD of his shorts was released) until Epic Mickey (2010). However, considering a game's development cycle, it can be inferred that Oswald may have been bought for Epic Mickey.

Now that Disney owns Oswald, they need to increase his brand awareness. Other then Epic Mickey, they do have a few options. (What follows is pure speculation on my account)

1) Mickey Mouse Clubhouse:  the core group is the "Sensational Six"  (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, and Daisy) while characters who debuted with them or in the same time period make up the rest of the cast (Clarebelle Cow, Pete the Cat aka Pegleg Pete, Chip and Dale, Willie the Giant, etc) with a few original characters sprinkled into the mix.  Oswald has interacted with several of the characters in the past  (For example his foil in "O, what a Knight" is either Pete or someone who would develop into Pete.  Clarabelle is also somehow linked to him)  so his time period fits with theirs.  In addition, this would be a good way to introduce him to children so they can identify him later on in life.  While it would be slightly awkward to introduce him now, the episodes are stand alone and not every character appears in every episode.  That, combined with the target demographic, indicate a good way to at least test the waters of Oswald's sustainability outside of Epic Mickey.

2) Kingdom Hearts:  While we have visited a past version of Mickey before (Timeless River AKA Steamboat Willie), the development team has set up three alternate realms to the main KH verse.  We mostly play in the "Realm of Light", but there is a previously established "Realm of Darkness" in which several characters have gotten lost.  In fact, at one point there where three or four groups of people in or near it and they only reason they interacted is due to characters seeking the others out.  Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep mention a "Realm of Twilight"  which hasn't received  much elaboration.  All we know is that some worlds live inbetween the realms of light and dark and are a bit of a buffer or barrier between the two.  Finally, KH:3D is introducing a "Realm of Sleep".  Apparently, it is for those worlds which should be back in the light, but could not make it and now sleep instead.  We'll find out more when the game actually comes out.  Any of those realms would be a decent excuse for why Oswald hasn't been mentioned before.  (This would work even better if Oswald was a lost keyblade wielder who got sucked into the realms while traveling)

3)  The parks themselves:  Oswald has only cameod in the parks.  Toontown would have been a very good way to introduce Oswald, but it was demolished last year.  Oswald cartoons can be put in the main street theater, but he needs to be expanded beyond there.  I'm not sure where, but the parks would be a good way to attract attention.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because a few days ago, a respected Disney fanblog called "Stitch Kingdom" posted and then removed an announcement for Epic Mickey 2.  While it has been confirmed Disney was looking into Epic Mickey 2 (A survey went out to gauge people's reactions to several titles a few months ago) If the information is true then Epic Mickey 2 will be multiplatform (which makes sense, motion controls on the non Wii systems have improved dramatically), and it will have 2 person split screen Co-op with one person controlling Mickey while the other person controls Oswald. 

What do you think?  Do you like Oswald?  Do you want to see an Epic Mickey 2?  How should Disney use Oswald now that they own him again?