*Our scene opens with the writer, a tall bearded 20-something with glasses, sitting in a booth at a local diner. He appears nervous, checking his watch, obviously waiting for someone. A copy of the handheld hit Bravely Default walks through the door and takes a seat across from the writer.*
Hey BD, thanks for meeting me here. I know it’s not one of our usual places, but we shared a cup of coffee here once while killing time, so I thought it would be a neutral zone for us both. I think you know why I wanted to get together today, so let me cut to the chase. No, please don’t interrupt; this is hard enough for me as it is. I… think we should stop seeing each other. Continue reading Breaking Up is Hard to Do→
I can distinctly remember the first time I played Super Mario 64.
It was the last time buying a video game console was a family event. My father had purchased a Nintendo 64 the day it released and brought home one of the two launch titles for the system. This was the third time over 11 years that we had all gathered around the television to watch our favorite plumber run and jump across the screen. After hooking up the console to the TV in our den, my father passed the torch of first play to his sons; handing the controller to my brother. I slid the power button on, and sat by my brother as the Nintendo 64 launched in our household.
We all have games that are foolish to love; those comfort titles that the general public regards as less-than. We players can look past these games’ warts and rough edges to find a worthwhile experience in spite of what others may think. To start the month of April off with a goofy bang, those of us at United We Game will be divulging some of our own guilty pleasure games for your amusement. Things have gotten off on the right webbed foot by the Duck of Indeed, so let’s continue the joke with another foolish game!
Let us be frank at the commencement: Deadly Premonition is not a good game. The graphics are outdated, the combat is repetitive (at best), and the game controls quite poorly. The voice acting is hyper cheesy, the hit detection is appalling, and there are boring portions of the game that are simply included to drag out the time spent in front of your television. I could go on, but you get the idea; Deadly Premonition is far from the pinnacle of video game development. But despite all of these flaws, I really, really love this game. I would even go so far to recommend playing this strange title, as long as you don’t take it too seriously (along with friends and a case of beer).
When I first heard of Deadly Premonition, the main topic of discussion was how the game was receiving reviews covering the entirety of the number line. Some reviewers abhorred the game, damning it with scores of 1 and 2 (out of 10) to match their hatred. Others looked past the flaws to praise the story and ingenuity of the developer, rewarding the game with scores of 8 and 9 (also out of 10). I was intrigued, to say the least. As I was talking with a friend about the game, he revealed that he had purchased Deadly Premonition and was about to finish it for a second time. He also mentioned that he was No. 1 on the Xbox Leaderboards for this game, which is irrelevant (and super badass). So he agreed to let me borrow this strange survival horror/murder mystery game, mainly so he could have someone with which to talk about this title. Continue reading Community Post: I’m a Fool for Deadly Premonition→
My earliest experiences with the Mario Brothers were not spent playing, but reading the instruction manual while watching my younger brother play the very first game on our Nintendo Entertainment System. As I scoured over the game controls and characters, my brother would play through this relatively new experience with the ease of a much older gamer. All of Mario’s moves seemed natural to him, as if he had traveled these fantastic worlds for years. The reality of the situation is that my brother has better eye-to-hand coordination than I do, but the level design of Super Mario Brothers had something to do with his genius as well.
Think back to that very first level, World 1-1. There was no tutorial, no overt guidance for the player; only a stubby little plumber standing on the far left side of a screen. Any attempt to travel further left would result in the player hitting a wall, so to the right we must go. Oh no, there’s an angry looking mushroom heading your way. Quick, try one of those red buttons on the controller. Okay, ‘B’ doesn’t do anything… what about ‘A?’ Ooh, you made Mario jump! Try to stomp that mean looking guy. Hey, you squished him, good job. No time to celebrate though; there is a timer counting down up there. Let’s get going. Continue reading Community Post: A Mario Level for Every Player→
Lurking on the bedside table in my apartment, a devious piece of technology lies in wait. At first glance, it seems like nothing more than a simple tablet; something to provide convenient internet cruising from any location. But don’t let its harmless exterior fool you. This electronic notebook hides a darker side, filled with hours of engaging and addictive video gaming.
When my wife and I first received an iPad, we assumed it would be mostly used for surfing the internet and reading electronic books/magazines. After a while, she started to load art applications onto the tablet, allowing her to create some fine digital sketches. The iPad became her new toy to play with, which was just fine by me. After all, I had my 3DS and piles of great games to play. My mobile gaming niche was pleasantly filled.
It was roughly two months into our ownership of the iPad that we started to download some games. My wife installed Angry Birds (a carry-over from her phone) while I added a puzzle game I had read about called Spell Tower. This is how our madness began. It seemed like every spare moment was spent tossing birds or making words, destroying pig buildings and leveling towers of letter blocks. Soon after, more games snuck onto our iPad. Jetpack Joyride became a sort of challenge game, each of us trying to outlast the other and make a longer run through the cartoon laboratory. Jack Lumber was a hilarious swipe and slash game that my wife discovered while we attended PAXEast, and so the vengeful logger leapt onto the small screen. So many short and sweet games came to inhabit our happy tablet, and we were glad to have some little distractions to pass the time. Then we caught Machinarium on a sale, opening up a new world of gaming possibilities.
Machinarium was not just some cutesy mobile game to be played in short turns. It was a full-fledged adventure title, harkening back to the glory days of point-and-click PC gaming. We spent hours exploring the dystopian world of robots and scrap metal, trying to help our mechanical friend Josef in his journey. Sword and Sworcery followed next, which started to explore just what sort of features can be unique to a tablet game. The touch screen provided interesting gameplay mechanics, while the high-resolution screen allowed for gorgeous visuals. The transition was complete: the iPad had become a full-fledged gaming device and we hadn’t even noticed the change.
As someone who grew up playing video game consoles, it seems so odd that a device that was originally thought of as nothing more than a portable internet source has become such a gaming staple in my life. Two of the best games I played last year were mobile exclusives (Year Walk and Device 6), and it looks like this year will have even more iPad games for me to enjoy. So as you start to make your list of pros and cons for which killer next-gen console to purchase, be sure not to overlook the tablet market. There are years of amazing games in their back catalog, which is more than either the PS4 or Xbox One have to offer.
My fondest memories of cheat codes and unlockable content are firmly rooted in the Playstation One era. Video games had finally made the transition to disc-based media, and this upgrade provided developers with even more room to flex their creative muscles. Fighting games featured hordes of hidden characters and modes. Role-playing games became multi-disc epics; chock full of art galleries and enemy encyclopedias. A traditional platformer could provide players with hours of additional gameplay well after the main quest was completed. These were the glory days of the video game secret, where the hype machine of the gaming industry lacked the resources to spoil mysteries for the sake of publicity. Every disc seemed to have unlimited potential. There could even be a game hidden within a game.
As one of the two titles that were purchased with our PS1, Parappa the Rapper was a big deal for my brother and me. We loved its off-beat and colorful art style, along with the innovative gameplay it provided. At that time, the concept of rhythm games was still in its infancy and Parappa’s six little levels left us hungry for more. When the sequel hit store shelves, we bought it immediately, ready to rock our way through another goofy music game.
Um Jammer Lammy was a complete upgrade to Parappa the Rapper. The game featured smoother animation, more levels, and an unlockable two-player mode. For every level that was completed in the single-player campaign, that stage would be added to versus mode and a co-op campaign. My brother and I could shred through the story mode together, or face off in epic guitar-solo duels. Eager to unlock every stage for the multiplayer modes, we barreled through the single-player campaign. Upon completing the final concert, a familiar face stepped out of the adoring crowd: Parappa the Rapper!
At first, we thought the presence of our favorite rapping canine was merely a cameo, a polite nod to fans of the first game. To our delighted surprise, Parappa Mode was unlocked for play. The single-player campaign was made fresh with rap versions of every stage. Not just simple remixing, but a full re-purposing of every stage and its music to suit Parappa. New multiplayer modes were unlocked as well, featuring co-op and versus stages between the protagonists of each game. Finally, my brother and I could settle our age-old feud between rap and rock music in the arena of video games.
The existence of these extra modes came as a total shock to my brother and me. There were no hints, previews, or shameless advertising that let slip the presence of Parappa in Um Jammer Lammy. It was like an entire sequel was hidden within the game, just waiting to be unlocked and sweeten an already spectacular experience. These days, that sort of content would be leaked months before the shipping date as a means to create media buzz and overzealous promotion. A worthwhile extra like Parappa Mode would be packaged as marked-up DLC, or worse yet, as a ludicrously priced expansion pack. So instead of longing for a sequel for these beloved characters, I take comfort in my memories of a simpler time; when a video game could still hide a secret on its disc.
Ever since Sony acquired Gaikai from David Perry back in June of 2012, there has been speculation as to what the consumer electronics giant will do with the streaming service. First thought to be a sort of upgrade to the Playstation 3, then assumed to be a cloud media server for the PS4, Sony’s president has come forth in a recent interview with more details on future plans. Shuhei Yoshida spoke of an, “ultimate goal to bring Playstation games to all devices,” and “going from hardware to something closer to a service, regardless of the device.” He goes on to say that the PS4 would remain the center of their focus, even when considering other hardware avenues.
Sony is certainly not the first company to make a go at streaming games or a cloud-based service. Companies like OnLive and GameTap have been in the business for years. But these comments from Sony’s president could have huge implications for the future of gaming. Just imagine if Sony moves outside of their proprietary consoles and becomes a video game company based mostly on a streaming service. With a robust catalog of titles to pull from, Sony could create a sort of Netflix for video games: a flat monthly fee to play hundreds of classics from the Playstation 1, 2, and 3.
There are plenty of hurdles in such a move. As Microsoft found out earlier this year with the “always online” debacle, not every consumer has access to a hearty internet connection. On top of the headache that is server maintenance and running a smooth streaming service, most of the games that mark Sony’s rise to fame are third-party titles, so negotiations and licenses must be taken into consideration. But if all of these challenges could be met, Sony would make quite an impact on the gaming market, and potentially earn piles of money in the process. The bottom line to consider: just how many players would be interested in such a service and how much are they willing to pay?
Just speaking for the GIMMGP Headquarters, I know of at least two players would pay a good amount to stream dozens of Playstation games.