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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Don't Buy What Happened to Lily Bergamo

It's not common, but sometimes when games are announced at E3 they're just not that interesting. What's even more uncommon is when a game is announced at E3 and it completely sucks.

I'm talking about Let It Die, an upcoming title headed by Suda 51 from Grasshopper Manufacture. As was revealed shortly after the announcement, Suda let known that Let It Die is actually Lily Bergamo, and that the uninspired snoozefest of the Let It Die trailer is the direction that the game is taking from here on out. No more ultra stylish anime game; bring on the next dully serious, dark-tonality murder simulator! ---*crickets*

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 is the Year of the--- PSP?!

On the unofficial side of gaming, at least.

The PSP died a few years back in the U.S., and it died with a rather significant chunk of downright desirable titles locked far, far away in that distant place called Japan. Despite this, gamers have been petitioning, emailing, and forum-shouting at several companies to bring these import-exclusives over, but alas--- very few have answered these cries.

But fans haven't given up these games, and more importantly is that fans with programming skills and translation capabilities haven't. There have been quite a few fan-translations for the PSP in the past, such as Way of the Samurai Portable and the Project Diva games, but for whatever reason 2014 has simply been loaded with excellent fan-translations of much desired titles, and there's plenty more planned for the future.

So which have been released so far this year, and has it been worth the wait? Scroll on down for links and my own 2-cents on these sincerely appreciated fan-translations.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Should I Be Masturbating?

Recently there was announced a new title for the Playstation Vita, called Bullet Girls. Put simply, this is a game that is about young and pretty girls attacking one another, and when damaged lose pieces of their clothing (clothes-degradation). There's also implementation of the Vita's touch-feature, which will be used in "Interrogation" sequences where you, presumably, extract information from captured girls by any means necessary. As seen in the photo below, stripping her down to her underwear and then getting your touchscreen on is fair game.
For those of you reading this and are shocked this is releasing anywhere other than PC, I can assure you that there's nothing 'new' about this, especially in terms of the Vita's Japanese (and soon Western) library. From Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, a game also with clothes-degradation and a locker room where you can molest the girl's buxom parts via touch-screen, through Criminal Girls Invitation, a game where you must train your all-girl squad by "punishing" them with gags, whips, and tazers (the girl's making erotic sounds and pleas throughout), and onwards through Genkai Totsuki Monster Monpiece, a card game where you evolve your all-girl cards by stroking your Vita up and down and are rewarded with the evolved card that has the girl wearing less clothing, there's clearly a trend going on here.
I'm not insulting or high-horsing these games (I own all three), but what I'm wondering is exactly what I'm supposed to 'do' with these types of games (silly question, I'm beginning to see). Despite the fact that I've played many of these sexualized titles I've never looked at them as tools of eroticism, but only as interesting import games. Embarrassed and amazed, I giggle and grow wide-eyed at the scandalous moments. But I've never masturbated to them, and what I'm asking myself now is, 'Why not?'
Magazine Scan from the Upcoming Vita Title, Bullet Girl

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tearaway, and the Praise for Bad Game Design

When I write about games, I like to do so with my own personal evaluation. While I've read reviews prior to games that I later talked about myself, I always keep it in mind to keep my own thoughts and feelings separate from those I've read. The journalists that I admire are the ones who write without objectivism; and their neglect to be persuaded by other journalists is something I admire.
That said, and what is the reason for this blog, is that I can't help but compare my thoughts about Tearaway to that of other journalists. Or rather, I have no idea how my thoughts towards Tearaway are so seemingly alone. The summary, before I expand below, is that I have absolutely no idea how Tearaway earned such high marks because the game that I played sported one of the most frustrating and unrewarding game designs around, one that I've spotted in some other relatively recent titles also (Thomas Was Alone, and Rain), and that, if it was me writing a review, I'd have given this game something alike 'Below Average.'
And so what is this flaw? It is the flaw of utterly meaningless game-content.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Monster Monpiece's Censorship Says About the Global Videogame Market

Recently it was announced that Compile Heart's Monster Monpiece (Monmon), a card-game for the Playstation Vita, is coming to both American and European shores. It was a shocking announcement because, as was recently the case with the localization of Senran Kagura for the 3DS, Monmon is a title drenched in suggestive and sexual imagery as each card is a mythological monster personified as a young and sexy girl with little to zero clothing (naughty bits are not shown though).
This is an announcement that would normally inspire calamitous cheers from the growing otaku and Japanese-game aficionado crowd, although the celebration quit as soon as it had begun. Following the localization announcement, Idea Factory, the western publisher for Monmon, stated that several of the game's cards, particularly those which reflect younger women, had to be removed for the localized edition, an announcement that immediately severed Monmon's already limited western audience.
There are those who are "just happy that the game is getting localized," and those who find the censorship "total bullsh*t, and I'm not buying this gimped product."  Each side has valid arguments, but what is most important here is what this censorship proves about the western videogame market, and how it exemplifies the secondary tier videogames still remain in as both an entertainment media, and artistic expression.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where Storytelling Damages Videogames

In regards to gaming, and its many inner arguments of "graphics significance" or "console domination," I've shifted position inside these debates countless times over the years, and usually in repeated contradictions. But the one view that I haven't changed from is when I migrated from "Story Over Gameplay," to "Gameplay Over Everything."
This change for me represents the hypocritical nature of myself as a gamer, because how this came about was from my searching for stories more relating to my own interests, which is to say (pop-culture) Japanese interests. Be it the hyper-infused kawaii of moe-blend titles like Monster Monpiece, or the awesome mech and alien sci-fi of E.X. Troopers, my original reasoning for delving into import gaming, and learning Japanese, was because I believed that the stories in games exclusive to eastern nations were the stories that I was looking for, and this was something that I was ready to put both the money and time down for to experience--- except this about-faced on me not too long after.
Eventually, by playing dozens of games in a language I don't understand, I came to the point where I don't care to judge a game on anything other than gameplay anymore, and in relation to stories I've not only nullified my attention towards them but also my consideration, having established for myself a belief that, when in search of a story, the novel is the best place (which I don't mean in a snooty way, but rather that I am an English major after all).
But what inspires this blog is a recent gaming experience which re-opened that doubt between gameplay and story-telling in regards to a maximum gaming experience. Ys: Celceta, for the PS Vita, is that game, and the experience has left me with as much doubt as it did satisfaction, which is to say a lot.