March 27, 2009
I just finished playing the demo for “And Yet it Moves,” which you can nab on Steam. Under normal circumstances I’d probably shell out the $15 for this title.
With your left hand you’re playing a 2d platformer, but with your right hand you control the orientation of the environment. Hitting left or right arrow keys rotates the platforms 90 degrees while hitting up does a 180. The best part of the mechanic is that momentum transfers, sort of like Portal. Certain “set pieces” can be effected by gravity in the same manner as you while others are not. All of this allows the developer to create interesting puzzles of a type that I haven’t seen before.
The art design reminds me a little of Fancy Pants Adventures with a dash of high school magazine collage. I don’t think it’ll win any awards for technical achievement, but it will probably run on any pc you’re likely to try it with.
“And Yet it Moves” comes out three scant days after “Braid” hits pcs. I hope it isn’t completely eclipsed by gamers who might be interested in an indie game.
March 9, 2009
I went through my RSS feeds today as is my custom. The first thing I found was a news special superfisially about Brandon Crisp, the teenaged gamer who ran away from home and was found dead. It is a tragic story and I still think about his situation from time to time. However watching this episode of Top Gun was insulting. It cheapened Brandon’s life and turned it into a propaganda piece. I made through ten minutes of the video before I gave up. To give you an idea of what you’re in for let me give you a few quotes:
The games Brandon liked most are what the gaming community calls First Person Shooters, role playing games where…
Nick showed them how they could play even when they weren’t together, online over the internet!
You can tell careful research was done and there is no motive to use complicated sounding words to confuse and scare the people they are ‘trying’ to inform. But hey, it’s a slow news day. I get it. If you rally enough hatemongering you can create a story to keep you rolling until the next big war.
This type of news show always talks about how gamers become engrossed in a world where death and violence become entertainment. Yet they are perfectly okay with summerizing an actual human life to the absolute worst moments of it and then use the currency that person’s misfortune allows them to buy a spot in your head to push whatever agenda they have.
The show does say that Brandon was unable to play hockey due to physical limitations, and the Xbox gave him a way to engage with his friends. What the ‘reporters’ (and I fear Brandon’s parents) never realize is that these team based games gave him a way to interact with his peers, much like the ‘high school hangouts’ of yester-year. It is very likely that team activities were the only way Brandon knew to socialize. If you tell any teenager that they’re not allowed to see their friends you must expect retaliation.
Hind site is always 20/20, I do not mean to insult or preach to the Crisp family. It does seem important that we try to learn from trageties like this to avoid them happening again. Learning from mistakes isn’t the mainstream media’s goal, however. In their model it is better to prop up cardboard demons to raise banners against. Video games are not to blame for the human condition, someday we might realize that.
March 5, 2009
There are three demos up on Xbox Live right now that I thought would be worth checking out. I was right on two of them; and so filled with self-confidence I’ve decided to talk about them.
First up, The Watchmen: The End is Neigh. Good god this is a crappy game. Because of it I have to swallow the premise of a politically liberal vigalante. Come on, he’s against the death penalty but beating the gore out of people is ok? From the demo I’m going to guess the game plays like a half hearted brawler cashing in on a movie liceanse.
Next I tried Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Darth Athena. The game plays a lot like Escape from Butcher Bay, and I’m okay with that. If you’re trying the demo and you never played the the first game it’s important to know you can shoot out the lights. I’m excited that this game is apparently coming to pc as well as the 360, but I’m baffled about the trailer at the end of the demo. Apparently they want to stress that this game has multiplayer. I’m not sure anyone expects – or even wants multiplayer in this game. I’m hoping the “Capture Riddick” mode plays like a lethal game of hide-and-seek, but some how I doubt that will work out well. I’m anxious for more of Riddick’s story, and I’m pretty confident this game will be the optimal way to experience it.
Finally I played Halo Wars. I was skeptical going in. How can a RTS possibly control well on a console? Ensemble figured it out. To a RTS veteran this game will probably feel too simple – combat seems to consist of building a large force and smashing it against the enemy’s large force. This is good news for me, as I’ve been looking for a way to break into the genre. While playing a game like this won’t prime me for Sins of a Solar Empire, I may be ready to graduate to Star Craft 2 when it launches. It’s fun to learn new things.
March 1, 2009
Here’s how it is: This site became my second job, and I wasn’t getting paid. The ads that most of you disabled are the only way I saw any return on the massive investment of time and money that I shelled out. So screw it, I’m not about the money anyway, I do this for the love. It’s time for me to reward myself by doing more of what I enjoy about running the site.
First off, I’m not going to be sticking to a schedule anymore. There are rss feeds all over NHR. You can use them to be notified of new posts when they happen. The technology is older than sin now, if you can’t figure it out I think less of you as a person.
I hate writing news posts. In a good month there may be four or five interesting things happening in the gaming world. The rest of the time it’s an exercize in creating something from nothing. I don’t really care about the business side of the industry, I don’t really care about what’s coming in 18-34 months, and I don’t care what Developer X had to say about Console Y. To tell you the truth, I don’t particularly care about consoles in general.
The last podcast, the one where I contomplated how EVE operates and why the L4D SDK should enable people to make great stories, is what I’m interested in doing. I enjoy writing features like the port forwarding article, or my interview with Chris Dillman. Expect to see more of that sort of thing, and less posts about an MMO in development that’s been overhyped for two years.
I’m not interested in talking about the graphics, technical flaws, and the value per dollar ratio of a game. I’m interested in art and innovation. Any reviews, more like unscored critiques, will reflect this. I plan to discuss games, not spell out a few bullet points and move on. I have come to the conclusion that bias, in the dictionary sense of the word, not neoGAF’s loose interprutation, is inevitable. I will no longer pretend I know what a game is to you. I will make sure you understand what a game is to me.
Andrew and Caleb have received the new charter, and they have ratified it.
We are not Kotaku. We are not 1up. We have no fiscial motivation. We own no loyalties. Our goal is to play games, enjoy them, and say something of value. You can get your metacritic friendly trash elsewhere.
March 1, 2009
This is the last scheduled post on No Hype Reviews. In a time where I’m thinking a lot about my past and my history with video games it seems serendipitous that Sega sent me a copy of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360. Quite a few games on this disc were among the first fifty or so that I ever played.
Technically the games work more-or-less as intended. I can play the first few stages of every16-bit Sonic game on muscle-memory alone, and I only noticed a few inconsistencies. On some other “ports” of older games the graphics seem to look either smudged or heavily pixelated, that wasn’t as much of an issue here. Everything looks roughly like it did in the 16-bit days, which I can appreciate.
Let’s talk about the selection of titles. You’ll be getting 40 Genesis, Masters, and arcade games including the unlockables. The games are all first party titles, which were not always my favorite back in the day. An “Ultimate” collection in my books would include titles from Acclaim and Electronic Arts among others, but considering the limitations of reality I’m content with the choices.
What this collection reminds me of is how brutal games were in the 90s. RPGs like Phantasy Star and Fatal Labrynth provide no explanation if what you’re doing – you’re not even outfitted with starting gear. Games like Comix Zone, Shinobi 3, and Streets of Rage are much more difficult (and thus beating them feels like a greater achievement) than their grandchildren (God of War, Devil May Cry, etc). The collection includes several platformers that were not Sonic. Vectorman, Alex Kidd, Kid Chameleon, Flicky (I can now say Flicky games have always sucked, even when it was a Joust clone) and a few others. If you’ve got a soft spot for 2d platformers this collection has you covered.
I didn’t spend enough time with each of the titles individually to say anything meaningful about them. I can tell you Sonic, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Shinobi, and Comix Zone have held up to the test of time. Those 12 games more than justify the $30 price tag to me.
I am disapointed that the Sonic and Knuckles title doesn’t couple with Sonic 3, let alone any other game. Some of the other collections have done it, and if you have not experienced those games in tandem you owe it your yourself to seek out that experience first.