Saturday, June 6, 2015

Splatoon: Fun Before Criticism

There's something about the gaming world that repeatedly absorbs me into the muddy aspects that I don't like about gaming, and yet no matter how much awareness I have towards these ailing areas I still find myself taking part in them, however temporarily, regardless. Some of them I've managed to conquer and leave behind, like preferential manias ("system wars," say) and blind statistics (do we really know how many copies the Metroid Prime series sold? Does it really matter?), but there are some corners that still stick out, pierce my ribs, and then swing me over into an all-too familiar shit hole that I immediately know I should get out of--- but still stick around, just for a while, because of some deranged, self-harming addictive element, like a fly swimming in dog crap.
In this blog, what I'm specifically referring to is skewed "criticism," or synthetic complaining, about games that you are having a terrific experience with and yet are compelled to be judgmental and negative about whenever you publicize your opinion concerning, which any thoughtful investigation of a forum discussion will prove true. I assume this phenomenon of judgment comes from the fact that the videogame Review, and the reactionary impulse to loudly applaud or loudly disagree with each one, remains the most impacting form of journalism for gaming, rather than varied discussion and personal interpretation.
This is a ridiculous environment. There is nothing that needs a bullet-point list so to be discussed, and this is especially true when you're discussing in a personal matter. The strive for objectivity in gaming journalism is important, but there needs to be drawn a line between journalistic writing, and personal. At least for me it does.
And so--- Splatoon.
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I have some complaints with Splatoon, and if I were writing a review of Splatoon I'd cast hard judgment for this new and inventive title from Nintendo. The literal couple of game-modes play too chaotically, Turf Wars being meaningless until the last 30 seconds, and the lack of player-communication support disables Splatoon from becoming a thoroughly competitive game, which it certainly could be. This is also another videogame that launched with promises of updates, and there is something greatly problematic with this trend because the game is full-price, and in no way does Splatoon feel like a full game. It promises to become one, but then why even bother with this thin, if not skeletal, form now? Updates are in no way guaranteed, and this should never be overlooked with games like Splatoon. Updates are a method to keep a game selling if it succeeds prior. But if the game were to fail or drop off the radar, then those updates, which are just promises and not contractual agreement with the consumer, will also fall through.
And I won't humor Splatoon's campaign; it's short, it's obscenely easy, and it's position is as something to do while the Internet is down in your home or when you've gone on a frustrating losing streak in multiplayer. It's significantly limited in what it offers, and grossly elementary with what it does. And so, when the multiplayer goes dead in Splatoon, whether that is five years or six months from now, Splatoon will become a rather useless game to own, multiplayer updates or not, and this isn't something that I would say is acceptable, or at least not yet (and hopefully ever), with full price games.
So I have some serious problems with Splatoon. I question the entire game-design, and the way Splatoon's multiplayer focus indifferently views the individual consumer while still charging full-price inspires some conservative philosophy that I feel is relevant in judging Splatoon. If this were a review, which I like to write with the intention of being a consumer report rather than artistic criticism, my final opinion would be that there is a serious lapse in the total realization of Splatoon as a game in its current form, and that the cons within Splatoon's total design far outweigh the positives of its ingenuity and smooth gameplay. This would be my objective opinion.
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All of that said, I'm not writing a review here. What I want to talk about here, and what I always mean to talk about on forums, is my own personal experiences with the game, which have been immensely satisfying. Splatoon has fast become a beloved addition to my Wii U library, and in the five days the game has been out I've put more than fifteen hours into it and not a one has been without excitement and enjoyment.
I've been excited for Splatoon for reasons that are indifferent to my Review criticisms. When Splatoon was revealed at E3 2014 I was eager to get my hands on it because it didn't look like it would be an intensively competitive shooter, which would be a great change of pace in my gaming world. It had this great art-style and original gameplay ideas and it looked like silly, simple, and easy-going fun. I never expected Splatoon to make me want to start a clan and start bickering with teammates about position and strategy; I expected it to be highly casual and accessible, and all of these desires and expectations came out to be true.
I really don't care that the Aerospray is easily the best weapon for Turf Wars, and I don't care that there are only six maps available now. I also don't care that I can't talk to my teammates (who are almost always Japanese it seems, and my 日本語 skills are rather poor anyway). None of this stuff, whether competitive play or ultra-balanced gameplay, matters to my personal expectations and desires from Splatoon. My big hope from Splatoon was that it would be a shooter that I could play without giving a damn about winning or losing, about being able to just have fun and explore this strange little world of boneless squid-kids, and that's exactly what Splatoon delivered. And it's awesome.
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There is a time and a place for criticism, or praise. The two are not always linked together; criticism has its obvious value, but so too does praise. There's more to be gained from socializing about gaming than just frustration and the investigation of error. There's fun in gaming discussion, and being able to explore that fun, to put into words what exactly made an experience so uniquely and positively your own, is as important a public display for others as criticism is.
The problems with a game do not necessarily outweigh its successes, and this is important to understand. With Splatoon, the only way to criticize it is as a multiplayer shooter, and the staples and consistencies within that genre do prevent Splatoon from earning anything other than a very lightly positive review. But that doesn't mean that the actual experience of Splatoon is lacking. The oddly colorful Japanese designs, the quirky construct of amalgamating squids, and even the single player story, which has charming collectibles that humorously tell the history of the war between inklings and octolings, is inspiring and delightfully creative, and I would say it's completely untrue if someone were to state that Splatoon is not worth experiencing because of its objective issues.
This blog is almost an apology, because the reason I'm writing this is because I made the error of resuming the character of the bitter gamer when Splatoon released. My review criticisms I portrayed as my personal opinion, and this was completely unfair and dishonest. Splatoon has been an excellent experience, and I am consistently surprised by the imaginative qualities that are the true structure of this game. It's a world of its own, from gameplay, art, sound, and really everything, and there's something that needs to be celebrated with this. The degree of individuality in Splatoon is what I'd argue most significantly in its favor: Splatoon is downright amazing and sensationally brilliant, and deserves to be experienced.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gaist Crusher (3DS) - Review

More than a year ago I wrote up my impressions from the demo of Gaist Crusher, and in that writing I expressed a positive energy towards Gaist Crusher because of what I'd thought would be added to the final product, and not so much what I'd actually experienced. There wasn't much to the Gaist Crusher demo, but because I did like what was offered on a basic level I took the optimist route and wrote rather glowing impressions anyway---

Well you live and learn, because not only did none of my vapid assumptions come true, my initial feelings on Gaist Crusher, which I'd buried underneath positivity, have come to be my final opinion as well. While Gaist Crusher does have a slick presentation and solid gameplay, there is nowhere near even the most minimal of variety to hide what is an excessively dull experience. Gaist Crusher is a serious offender of mindless repetition and blatant limitation, and no matter how well built the gameplay is it cannot camouflage how unrewarding, and seriously boring, the game actually is.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hands On: New Nintendo 3DS (Japan Import)

Having spent about 20 hours total with the New Nintendo 3DS now, I'm excited to post my impressions of the new device. With this blog I'll focus on what I myself found important while using the New Nintendo 3DS, rather than doing yet another comprehensive overview of features you already know about.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is Hatred the Most Important Videogame of the 21st Century?

This weekend a trailer released for that of an upcoming PC game titled Hatred, and the splash it has made from its trailer alone has pressured the entirety of the gaming community, from developers down through gamers, to question the whole of the contemporary gaming world, from that of the unending question of what constitutes art in gaming through that of what responsibility developers have in their creative projects. As always, the debate is wide, the splits between arguments both broad and narrow, and any agreed-upon conclusion is far from being reached.

These passionate debates are wonderful and necessary for the increasingly defined sphere of the gaming medium, but already the greater scope of direction these debates have taken (especially when folks begin trying to describe what 'art' is for the umpteenth time) have greatly skewed the discussion away from its initial propulsion; Hatred as a game. And there's much that still needs to be stated about Hatred prior to enlisting debate and bias about the overarching theoretic of artistic products, particularly because the brief demonstration of the title showcases what may very well be the most influential modernist construct in a videogame so far this century. And the reason why is not because Hatred proposes something edgy or topical; in fact, all Hatred has brought to the table is the every plateau of equality that the gaming world has come to both grow and agree upon so far, and what is most important here, and what makes Hatred so significant a title, is this consolidation and reminder of all that the gaming world has struggled to achieve so far.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Azure Striker Gunvolt, and the Gaming Media: A Prime Example of Guised Criticism

Originally I'd intended to write a review of Azure Striker Gunvolt that was to be glowing. I've recently finished up my 20th hour with this downloadable title and, while at first I found myself a bit disappointed, eventually came to understand and learn what it is that Gunvolt offers uniquely, and how exciting the title is once understood.

But I ran into an issue, and the issue was that every time I tried to write about Gunvolt I felt myself repeatedly drawn to recognizing the assumed position of the Megaman series in regards to Gunvolt. The two games look very much alike, and with Gunvolt there's quite a lot that takes both openly and admiringly from Megaman, which includes not only gameplay but art-direction, storytelling, some secondary functions, and last but not least Keiji Inafune (the creator of Megaman) himself serving as Executive Producer.

The largest issue with this is that I kept feeling the need to spend this great amount of time discussing Megaman, and the reason why is because of how much not alike Gunvolt is to Megaman. In truth, Gunvolt is an utter bore if it's played as though it were Megaman, and what is essential to experiencing Gunvolt, particularly for gamers alike me that are very familiar with not only Megaman but most 2D Platformers since, is being able to dissect our expectations and familiarities and objectively witness the individual product that is before us. To be open toward what is truly an almost entirely original game design.

But I didn't give up writing my review immediately. Instead, I jacked in to the Net and researched reviews for Gunvolt by other gaming media. What I discovered was rushed gaming journalism that once again proves a sizable inferiority to other established mediums, this time in the form of the "review" that is actually a biased criticism. And there's something sincerely wrong about this, because Gunvolt is certainly not the first title this has happened to, and definitely not the last.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why Shouldn't Gaming Franchises Age With Us?

A survey conducted by Rocket News asked Japanese children why they loved Level-5's Yokai Watch so much, which is the latest of Level-5's multi-media projects that has recently bloomed into national reverence. Interestingly, and what certainly caught me off guard, was that the large response was, "Yo-kai Watch doesn't have annoying adult fans like Pokemon does."


But it's certainly reasonable. Kids like to be separate from adults in interests and culture, reveling in the modern while rolling eyes at the aged fads that adults have a bit more trouble (or less interest in) letting go of.
Creating a brand that meets the interests of young people is a delicate business, one that is limited to the elementary education of its intended audience, and also the more optimistic tone that children respond to, but still different enough from that which has existed prior to allow for that generation separation in identity from that which modeled its adults, an essential facet in growing up for all children regardless gender, nationality, etc:. Essentially it's all the same thing (bright colors, cool animations, and some sort of collectibles merchandise that bleeds mum and daddy's bank-account); but it's not the thematic similarities that matter, but instead the exclusive separations between them. And often, it is those differences which baffle the increasingly planted-minds of adults but make perfect sense for children that are most important to a youth franchise succeeding or not.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Utakumi 575 (Vita) - Review

Videogame demos have rarely been a detriment for me. Most often the carefully chosen segment of a demo is enough to sell me on a game despite concerns for the overall package, and even when the demo is a bit lackluster I won't lose interest in the game's elements that drew me to try it out in the first place, braving the front-lines of a day-one purchase regardless.

But Utakumi 575 is a game that I'd really wished I'd listened to myself after playing the demo, and it's something I can summarize this review with also. For anyone interested in Utakumi I highly suggest downloading the free JPN demo off of PSN before purchasing, because however you feel after playing the demo is exactly how you'll feel for the full game also.

For me, I was pretty disappointed with the demo, and had that suspicion that the full-game would be too similar to that same disappointment. Unfortunately, that came out to be the very case.