Category Archives: Opinion

The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable: Shenmue

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I’ve written about this game a hundred times across a hundred different websites and it never fails to make me feel as though it is the best game to ever have been created.  I usually like to direct my Throwback Thursdays to something a little more relevant to what is going on or to whatever it is that I’m currently playing but I think that Shenmue deserves to be on every website that I am a part of.  The game has always been a very important facet of my life not only as a great Dreamcast game, (my favorite home console of all time), but a game that changed a generation of gaming.  Shenmue focused on main character, Ryo, who is searching for the person who murdered his father, crime lord and master martial artist, Lan Di.  Of course, detective work isn’t easy for a teenager who has only ever studied martial arts, so you need to utilize the time of day as well as your surroundings in order to find Lan Di.

The game utilizes time as an important factor, as it dictates when certain stores are open and when certain people are able to be spoken to.  It triggers most events of the game so it is greatly important that you pay attention to the time and date in the game.  Another incredible feat created by Yu Suzuki, creator of the game, is the fact that basically every NPC has both a voice and a personality.  Depending on the holiday or time of day, they each say something different or will have a different word of advice that can help you progress in the game.  This kind of gameplay was almost unheard of during the time of this game’s release, making it both incredible to hardcore fans of the roleplaying genre as well as those that passively want to play the game without any harsh movements.  Speaking of harsh movements, the combat in the game is done through the use of different skills learned, which are activated through different combo buttons, or through a series of quick time events.

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Games nowadays pretty much always have these elements in their gameplay and it seems like no big deal but the difference is that this game came out in 1999, a whopping seventeen years ago.  Intricate gameplay that required you to discover your path through a series of trial and error while following written notes and challenging your memory wasn’t something that was developed every day.  In fact, it is loved by so many people that a Kickstarter was created last year to bring the third game to fruition and bring the series to a whole new light.  Hopefully, the intricacy of the game stays and the only thing that will be changed is the level of fighting and the ability to discover more than just the closed area that you were allowed to be.

Check out the trailer for the first game below:

What We Think About the Nintendo Problem

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While there’s a large group of people that completely adore Nintendo for their never aging franchises as well as their state of the art hardware, there’s a whole side of the world that dislikes them for those same reasons.  Nintendo, as of late, seems to have been making relatively poor decisions in regards to the direction that they want to go in reference to both hardware development and software.  The Wii U, while not considered to be completely hot garbage, didn’t sell as well as expected and some Nintendo fans completely opted out of buying the product for the simple reason that it’s development only enhanced the same features available on the original Wii minus a few graphical enhancements and publishing licences.  The consoles was meant to be more expansive and was meant to reach wider audiences with titles like Assassin’s Creed III and Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition made to appeal to more hardcore gamers rather than the demographic of children.

That being said, their handheld hardware, the 3DS hasn’t seen any changes, (minus a few hardware upgrades), since 2011 and the publishing and developing of games for it doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon.  One of the big reasons for this is that the publishing rights that Nintendo has acquired for the 3DS is for games that appeal to wider audiences in North America as opposed to the home console games that the Wii U was putting out.  More people cared about Monster Hunter than they ever did about ZombiU and it led to higher sales of both the 3DS and the 2DS.  This is the exact direction that Nintendo needs to go if they want to stay afloat with their next home console release, the Nintendo NX.  Nintendo needs to focus on publishing games that more fans of the JRPG genre want without the ridiculous censorship that Nintendo Treehouse has been doing.

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Many of Nintendo’s personal franchises, like The Legend of Zelda and Mario, haven’t proven to be of much use to the Wii U and have only allowed for more fans to ridicule the company for their disconnect to their fans.  However, aside from the censorship on games like Fire Emblem: Birthright and Conquest as well as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, their publishing of Japanese games seems to be exactly what they need in order to stay above in the market.  These games are only available on Nintendo platforms and they are what is holing their slowly dissipating fanbase.  While no one wants to see Nintendo be punished for their own actions, it’s hard to argue against considering their lack of understanding what it is that their North American fans want.  You should know that you messed up once your own fans go outside of the country to buy a game that you just released in their country.

Hopefully, with the promise of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being an incredible title to the Zelda series as well as an incredible launch title for the Nintendo NX, Nintendo can begin their turnaround from a poor developer to an esteemed publisher instead.

The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable: Beyond: Two Souls

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Before I begin this Sadistic Saturday, I wanted to point out that I do not believe that Beyond: Two Souls was hot garbage and do believe that the game just didn’t turn out to be what was expected.  Quantic Dream has always followed a pretty strict regiment of making their games both hyper realistic and gives players the option to control their destiny.  With Detroit: Become Human coming out, that much is clear.  Beyond: Two Souls stars a young girl named Jodie Holmes, whose appearance is modeled after actress Ellen Page, who has a psychic connection with some kind of spirit named Aiden.  She has been in psychiatric care since she was very young and never had any friends aside from Aiden, as he always seems to interrupt any interactions with anyone who isn’t him.  Since then, she has been left in permanent custody to doctors Nathan Dawkins and Cole Freeman, Willem Dafoe and Kadeem Hardison.

The game utilizes dialogue choices to change the outcome of events as well as many quicktime events to control Aiden and allow him to do certain things.  It follows a convoluted plotline in which Jodie is trained by the CIA to undergo military procedures to other countries, using Aiden to aid her in her missions.  She becomes disgusted with herself after discovering that she killed the kind president of one of the countries that she infiltrated.  She becomes a fugitive and escapes, leading to a series of random encounters with people that take her in such as a group of homeless people and a Native American family.

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The characters are very three dimensional and the voice acting is superb, but the level that Quantic Dream was trying to achieve flew past the storyline and made the game seem a little sub par.  Since Aiden is a very large part of Jodie’s life, he doesn’t allow her to get killed or even injured, making some of the gameplay moments completely useless because you were never punished for any mistakes.  If you missed a quick time event, you were pretty much guaranteed multiple do overs because Aiden wouldn’t allow you to be injured.  This led to a relatively unrewarding experience and made you feel more like a participant than a player.  The only part of the game that really gives you a satisfying lurch forward is when you play as Aiden, an omniscient being that is able to traverse through every room of the area that you are in.

You can see through walls as him and are able to plan out your attacks or movements far before you even make them.  He’s very quick and his movements are only limited to room barriers, meaning that he is able to see far and wide so long as you stay within the confined area.  However, Aiden is mostly only used whenever Jodie needs something and will make note of it through verbal prompts to make Aiden possess someone or do s a certain action. It’s still fun, nonetheless, but it isn’t as rewarding as you may think.

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You end up finding out, after shit hits the fan, that Aiden is your stillborn twin brother whom you’ve had an attachment to since you were both in the womb.  It wasn’t the greatest twist, but it was the one that made the most sense and it allowed for a better look at why this character is the way that he is towards others.  I felt more like I had watched a film than I did having finished a game and that was not the experience that I wanted for the price.  At ten hours, the series of inconsequential choices and poor gameplay mechanics  forced me to feel more relieved that I had finished it over being satisfied.

The game was originally released back in 2013 and was currently remastered for the PS4 with Heavy Rain earlier this year, the better of the PS3 Quantic Dream games.

Check out the launch trailer for the game below:

The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable: God of War

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These last few Throwback Thursdays have been for relatively recent consoles and it looks like it won’t be changing with the announcement of several severely anticipated installments for some of gaming’s best franchises.  At Sony’s press conference at E3 this year, they opened up with a teaser for their newest God of War installment simply titled God of War.  The game seems to take a turn from the normal Greek mythology story line and places Kratos in a different country that utilizes Norse mythology.  However, Kratos got there somehow and that was by killing the great Greek God of War, Ares.

The PS2 game, God of War, debuted back in 2005 and was instantly a success among hack and slash type players and those well versed in Greek mythology.  The game follows Kratos, a Spartan warrior, who calls upon the help of Ares during battle to defeat his enemies.  Given his newfound power, the only exchange was that Kratos be Ares’s eternal servant and must do as he is told.  With that, Kratos is sent to a village to pillage and destroy, ultimately killing his wife and daughter in blind power, binding their ashes to his skin, (the reason for the white glow of his skin), as a constant reminder.

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The game is the beginning of the Kratos’s reign and shows that the Gods are not as they seem as he fights his way to get to Ares.  The final battle also shows how Ares’s fall crowns Kratos as the new God of War.  While the entirety of the game is based off of the revenge that Kratos wants and the fact that he wants the memories of his family’s death erased from his memory, Kratos isn’t really that three dimensional.  He doesn’t have any regard for those in his way and proves that by slaughtering humans and Gods alike; in multiple ways that range from stabbing all the way to tearing apart.

While it’s difficult to fathom Kratos’s anger, the game marks the very beginning of a Spartan warrior made Greek God.

Check out the trailer below for the game back in 2005:

The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

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As opposed to our last Throwback Thursday, God Hand, this one is a lot more recent; a DS game.  Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective follows in the footsteps of other great detective games such as the Ace Attorney series and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 while still managing to create a fanbase exclusive to the title.  You play as Sissel, the ghost of a detective that was murdered  who has the power of ‘Ghost Trick’, meaning that he can rewind time to four minutes before a person’s death.  Using this power, he can take control of objects in the room to prevents the person from dying.  Sissel’s spirit will disappear at dawn so he must use his time wisely in order to find our who he was when he was alive and who it was that killed him.

The whole purpose of the game is to switch between the Land of the Living, in which Sissel can move objects to alter the situation or solve puzzles, and the Ghost World, where he is able to pass between different objects.  Any items highlighted in blue are able to be possessed and are most likely clues to solving puzzles, (eg. moving a chair to avoid someone sitting there, etc.).  Before doing this, however, Sissel must take control of the corpse that he is trying to prevent from being killed in the first place, that’s when he can kick in his Ghost Trick powers four minutes before their death.

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The interesting part about the game is that the development was handled by the creator of the Ace Attorney series, Shu Takumi.  He was in the process of working on the third installment of the previously mentioned series and thought to create something new, birthing a new kind of detective games.  It was originally going to be named ‘Ghost Spy’ but the name didn’t stick, leaving us with a new taste of a franchise that never saw more than this single game.  Takumi has previously spoken about wanting to create a crossover between Ghost Trick and Ace Attorney but in the six year’s since the former’s release, it doesn’t look very likely anymore.  But that’s okay, as the game is still very well respected and praised for its story, gameplay, and for being among the very few games that had visibly smooth animation, (they’re dancing on a DS, the animations HAD to be smooth).

The reception for the game was off the charts, being the second best-selling video game in Japan the week it came out and even being nominated for an Annie Award in the ‘Best Animated Video Game’ category.  Other websites have also praised the game in different aspects with GameSpot giving it an an award for ‘Best Handheld Game’ and ‘Best Game No One Played’.  Game Trailers also awarded it with ‘Best DS Game of 2011’, among other awards.

Check out the trailer for it below: