Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The First Video Game I Ever Loved

This week's GBE2 topic is First Love. If you look over to my "About me" section, I actually use the words "first love" to describe one game in particular. But instead of babbling on about how much I love that game series (which I have done many times here), I thought it would be cool to talk about the evolution of it. I recently wrote about the history of the Legend of Zelda.

In this article, I focused on the home console games of the series, since that is where it all began in 1986. I should  point out that many Zelda fans don't seem to love the second title as much as the first. While I will always have a special place in my heart for the first game, I also love the second. But I've heard people complain that it was too different or too hard.

There are games in the Zelda series that just about everyone can agree are beyond amazing. These are A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. Ocarina is still one of the highest rated video games ever and it's ancient in gaming years. (It came out in 1998.) Link to the Past is even older.

But there have been some others that while they are also highly rated, they left some gamers disappointed. The graphics in Wind Waker were a huge deal when it was released, many people didn't like the cartoony cel-shading. (I think the graphics are adorable, btw) And it's been widely argued that Twilight Princess was  too easy.

But still, the Legend of Zelda is the game that made me a gamer, without a doubt. The replay value of the entire series is amazing. Right now, I have games of the original, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess going. 

So yeah, when I think of first love, my gaming brain goes immediately to Link and it always will. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strange Video Game Reviews: Red Dead Redemption

A video game about the Wild West isn't good unless you can ride bears, apparently. In this week's strange game review, that is the chief complaint. There's horses, but that's just not good enough. What about bears or cougars? Didn't everyone in the cowboy days ride cougars? I thought so...

I don't know why anyone but a  *coughtrollcough* would think a game that is trying to stay true to its time period and the way of life in that period would include riding wild animals. Maybe they would have liked Red Dead's DLC, Undead Nightmare, better. But it doesn't stop there, of course. What's the point of playing, the reviewer asking, if you can't do these things? I was also very upset when I stared my game of RDR and realized I couldn't steal chickens or tame bears..... Moving on....

The best (worst) part of the review is the complaint it's too "violent." Holy shit! Rockstar made a violent game with lots of shooting! Tell everyone! The reviewer points out the shooting people is disturbing to kids. And that's why the game is rating M, it says so on the box. And if you flip over the box, you'll see why... blood, violence, sex, language, etc etc.

Red Dead is an awesome game, for adults. It's set at the turn of the century when car were just starting out. Sure there were trains, but horses (not bears) where the standard method of travel. People got shot, people were violent, they said naughty bad things....

Sometimes these reviews are so weird, I wonder if these people are serious. But then really, it's entertaining to read, so keep them coming. lol

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Controlling When Your Kids Play Video Games

This week's GBE2 topic is Control, so that got me thinking. I've written about terrible video game controls, I could just recycle that. But lately, I've been noticing an outpouring of  "kids should get off their video games and play outside" type tweets, FB posts, articles, you name it. Yeah, I'm not impressed...

Why? Because just like parents have the ESRB to help them control what their kids play, they also have control over how long. Every console has parental controls that let you pick how long they can play for. If you want to get your kid out of the house, turn off the consoles, hide the power supplies if you need to. Put the systems in the living room, not in the bedroom. It's not the video games' fault. Although, all the "back in my day" FB statuses and tweets seem to think it is.

Even though gaming is a fairly new medium, when it comes down to it, parents are responsible for controlling what and when their kids play. And before video games, there was TV to distract children from the great outdoors anyway.

Who knows, maybe I'm overreacting. But instead of complaining about the "spell" video games have on kids, just tell them go out and play. It works for my son. When people blame the games, it looks like they're the ones who aren't in control.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Strange Video Game Reviews: Twilight Princess

In the spirit of all the awesome Zelda and Nintendo news at E3 this week, I give you a completely weird review of Twilight Princess. This one especially gets me because *cough*ImaZeldageek*cough*and  I just started a new game of TP.

So that's wrong with this one? Personally, the complaint here doesn't make sense to me at all. In fact, I have the opposite complaint with the game. The reviewer claims to have walked around for about 2 hours and couldn't figure out what to do. They say they had to look up online hints. What???

Okay, maybe it's because I've been playing Zelda since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but TP basically holds your hand through the game. It's certainly isn't like the original LoZ, where Link was dumped off in the middle Hyrule and all you did was wander around until you found something. All the help you got was a map that was packaged with the game and a few characters who spoke in poorly translated English.  There was no internet.

All you got to do in Twilight Princess is interact with your surroundings, for example, you can talk to people. There's a whole town's worth of people to talk to in the beginning of the game. If you talk to them, you know what's going on and what they need help with.  The "close up the ranch" complaint is strange. I assume this person means rounding up the goats and putting them in the barn. Yeah, all you got to do is ride on Epona and press A and the goats will run in the barn. It's simple.

Another complaint is "there's nothing to explore." That's blasphemy. Zelda is all about exploring. There's hidden things to find, bugs to collect, new sword moves to learn, wolf songs to find, mini-games etc etc.   

My favorite is "you can't figure this out on your own." I must be a freaking genius. I've been figuring out Zelda since I was 10. I'm awesome. *rollseyes*

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nintendo: Lost and Found?

This week on GBE2 the topic Lost and Found. Before Nintendo's E3 conference, I was sort of lost on what to write about.

Let's start at the beginning. I own all three consoles. In my house the PS3 and the Xbox 360 gets played way more then the Wii. Why? Because with the Wii, Nintendo lost its way. What? Don't I love my Wii? (yes, I do) What I mean is the motion control  of the Wii, the fact that it's not in HD or as graphically powerful as the other two meant that some "hardcore" games couldn't be played on the Wii. Instead what we got was tons of third rate "party" casual games. Yuck. I like Wii Sports, but any party type game that wasn't made by Nintendo was sucky. So my Wii sits, waiting for the next Mario, Zelda, and other games like that. And I love those titles enough that my Wii is definitely worth having. It's been 5 years since the Wii came out and it's no doubt Nintendo lost its way with the kids who grew up to be hardcore gamers.

But yesterday at E3, the Wii U  was shown and boy, what a showing it was. I'm not going to repeat everything I talked about yesterday, but I'm confident that Nintendo is trying to find its way back to the core auidence of gamers and I am so excited. The Wii could never handle titles like Ninja Gaiden or Battlefield. Besides the graphics, the Wii tried to go into the casual market. It didn't release many M rated games. Many of the titles for Wii U that were teased yesterday aren't family friendly. There's nothing wrong with family friendly, but not at the expense of the hardcore.

The Wii U is being touted as the console that can be all things to all gamers. I say good. I want to be able to play quality FPSs on my Wii. I also want Mario games and Zelda and other series I grew up with. If the Wii U is everything it says it is, it will be a great day for gamers when it's released next year. Then Nintendo will find its way back to the adults who grew up to be gamers because of  its early consoles.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nintendo's 2011 E3 Conference

Nintendo's conference at E3 was just a few hours ago. Here's what was unveiled:

The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary: For the anniversary of LoZ, there will be many things happening. Apparently, not all of them where unveiled today. More details about specials and events will be announced through the year. For now, we have Link's Awakening on the 3DS that launches today. A new golden Wii remote that launches with Skyward Sword this holiday season. Four Swords on the DSi in September. Two music CDs. One will be for Ocarina of Time's soundtrack on the 3DS. The other will be a  CD from the Legend of Zelda symphony. There will also be live concerts in the US, Japan, and Europe.

For the 3DS:
There was footage of Kid Icarus, Mario Kart, Luigi's Mansion 2,  Star Fox, and a new Mario. Most of these will come out this holiday season.

The big Nintendo news was, of course, what is Project Cafe. The new Nintendo console is now named Wii U. And it looks freaking sweet. It will be released in 2012.

First, the controller looks like a tablet. There's a 6.2 inch touchscreen. There's sticks, there's buttons. L buttons, R buttons and Z buttons on the top. You can use a stylus. You can make video calls with the thing.The controller interacts with the console and the game that's on the TV. This means a number of things. In the demo, they had the controller on the floor while playing golf. The ball was in the controller's screen, just like it would be on a golf course. You swing the Wii remote and play. You can use the controller with Wii Fit and the wheel and gun accessories. This means the system is backward compatible with Wii games. Hooray!!!

The controller also works as a drawing tablet. You can switch from the TV to the controller and play games that way. The possibilities, it seems, are endless.

That's great, but what about the games? It seems third party publishers are very excited about Wii U. The graphics look like 360 and PS3 graphics. They will be in HD finally. They gave glimpses of Ghost Recon Online, Tekken, Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City, Ninja Gaiden 3, Battlefield and others. There will also be a new Super Smash Bros.

Nintendo promises to make the Wii U the system for both hardcore and casual gamers. I love the Wii, but the ungodly amount of crappy party games definitely turned many hardcore gamers off. I grew up with Nintendo and I would be thrilled if they can regain the core gaming audience.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Microsoft's E3 2011 Conference

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

This morning marked the start of this year's E3 with the Microsoft conference. What's coming to an Xbox 360 near you soon? Let's take a look:

The Good:
Gears of War 3 Campaign sneak peak featuring the Silverback wearable "tank." It looks badass. The Leviathan monster is massive and it looks like a blast to fight. The best part was when Cole drops a create full of Tickers on the the monster.

Great demos of Tomb Raider and Modern Warfare 3. (even if the CoD demo was a bit long)

Mass Effect 3 demo looks amazing.

Halo Combat Evolved will be remastered for the 360 this fall.

Microsoft has partnered with many different companies including Youtube, Disney, and TV stations. This is the beginning of the end for traditional cable TV. Bing will search content on your 360 so it will be easy to find.

Kinect's Fun Labs looks like it's promising. You can make your avatar look just like you.

HALO 4 with Master Chef!!!!!!! They said it was going to be a trilogy.  But it was really short and it's suppose to come out next year.

The Bad

Does everything need Kinect? Seriously, Fable the Journey, Ghost Recon, Mass Effect 3.

Kinect might ruin the gaming experience. Do we really need to make gun motions with your hands or pretend to take the reins of a horse? When our character needs to jump, do we have to too? I'm not excited....

The Ugly

More Kinect casual games. More Dance games, sports games, games for kids. (really did a Sesame Street game need to be featured at E3?) Maybe I'm just a snob, but most of Microsoft's conference had me yawning.

I'm hoping Sony's conference tonight and Nintendo's tomorrow morning will be more entertaining and varied. If I hear "Kinect" one more time today, I might be sick.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Makes a Video Game Successful?

This week's GBE2 topic is success. So I kept going over it, trying link video games and success. What kept coming up is the Legend of Zelda. (Yes, I am obsessed) Without a doubt, it's one of the most successful video game series ever. And it's still going strong with the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time and the new Wii game, Skyward Sword, releasing soon.

What makes this series so successful? First, it's been 25 years since LoZ was released in Japan. In fact, right now, I'm wearing a shirt that says "Legend of Zelda Land of Hyrule 1986"

Second, the original game was full of innovation. From being non-linear to having its own battery in the cartridge for saving, LoZ did lots of things first. 

In 2009, Gameinformer magazine listed the original LoZ as the greatest game ever. Seven other LoZ titles also made it into the top 200 games of all time. More recently, the series won big in the voting for which games would make it into the Smithsonian's Art of Video Games Exhibit, happening next year.

The series has won countless awards in its history and it truly deserves them all.  Few other gaming series can boast this type of success. I am so proud to have been with the series since the beginning.