It’s been a while, readers. But I’m back. That’s right, the PhD is over. Submitted and awaiting viva! Throughout these past few months, I haven’t stopped playing games entirely. Still, my enjoyment of life in general has increased dramatically now, and that extends to games too. After listening to a recent Retronauts episode about the Gradius series, I decided to dust off my copy of the expansively named Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the trusty Sega Saturn. I’d always been curious, so why not try these spin-offs of a beloved series?
Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a collection of three arcade games, namely Salamander, Life Force, and Salamander 2. The former two, which I’ll cover first, are variations on the same basic game released within a year of one another in 1986-7. Salamander 2, by comparison, released almost ten years later in 1996, and is a more modern iteration on the series formula. These games all riff on similar level themes, bosses and structure, many of these themselves nabbed from the Gradius series. For instance, every game alternates between horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and contains a mix of biological and sci-fi themed stages. Continue reading
A good horror experience will ask the important questions: what is the nature of evil? Is death ever truly final? What kind of hospital needs a zodiac sign puzzle-operated door? Amongst the various preoccupations of the horror genre is a longstanding fasination with children. Children are scary precisely because we expect purity and innocence from them, and yet they exhibit many of our worst traits unfiltered (cruelty, jealousy, narcisscism, idleness, fickleness…). I didn’t know I had been waiting for a game that explored the psychological dimensions of young girls’ friendships… until I played Rule of Rose. Continue reading
Filthy. Casuals. Two words that are put together far too often when discussing videogames on the internet. Well, fact is, everyone has to start somewhere! And while the influx of so-called “casual” and “lapsed” gamers during the Wii generation is oft-discussed (not least on this very blog), the original PlayStation’s appeal to a new, older audience doesn’t get nearly the same level of attention. But if we turn our eyes to the late nineties, the figures don’t lie. The 32-bit generation of consoles – PlayStation, N64 and Saturn combined expanded the videogame market enormously, with approx. 144 million consoles sold in total versus approx. 80 million between Super Nintendo and the Megadrive/Genesis in the previous generation. That’s a whole lot of new gamers.
Now I have to admit I have this slightly weird, anthropological fascination with the topic because over the years I’ve met several adults who were first drawn to gaming during the PlayStation era. Maybe they’d played games before, but not to this extent and certainly never buying a console. I’d like to share anecdotes of a few people I know personally before giving some context for the gaming industry’s attempts to attract an older crowd to gaming. Continue reading
Today’s post by Maya looks at Another Code: R for the Wii, and continues a recent trend on here of using average or mediocre games to think through what distinguishes the gaming wheat from the chaff when it comes to narrative in games.
Oh, wait, I’m having a flashback…Eike, protagonist of Shadow of Memories (aka Shadow of Destiny)? What are you doing here? No – this is all wrong. I’m meant to be writing a piece on Another Code: R… So, why is Homunculus here? Why are Eike and Homunculus holding hands?! What is going on?!
Is my flashback an accurate recalling of a narrative sequence? Or is it an elaborate ploy in which to make several interrelated points on the problem of translation in narrative-heavy games and story order? Or did I simply want you to have a bizarre image in mind when reading this post? Whatever the case, flashbacks are an important element to the argument of this blog post, a conceit used in many games, but especially important in story driven games. And so I’d like to explore why Cing’s Code: R is a disappointing game compared with Shadow of Memories and other story-driven games, because of its failure to utilise the full potential of the gaming medium. Continue reading
If it isn’t Baroque, don’t fix it. That is, unless it is Baroque. Continue reading
I hate Game Length Supremacists. Don’t you? Check this out, from RPGamer’s review of Persona 4 on Playstation 2:
Persona 4 is also slightly shorter than Persona 3, but still manages to last a whopping eighty hours, far more than most RPGs.
The reviewer comes across as a baffling mixture of disappointed and impressed that Persona 4 is slightly shorter than its predecessor. Is the reviewer on drugs?! Let’s get this straight: Persona 3 is too long. I’ve put about 50 hours into that game and there are no signs that it will end any time soon. It’s a fine game otherwise but jeez. I just picked up Persona 4 the other day, mostly with the idea in mind that it will motivate me to go back and complete Persona 3. And now I read this?!
It’s the Game Length Supremacists who have caused this tragic state of affairs. What sort of normal human being is supposed to be able to complete and throughout that time appreciate an 80 hour long game?? I don’t want to have to take a two week holiday to complete a mother-fluffin’ videogame! Game length supremacists always place RPGs on a pedestal as the height of game design and execution, but on what basis…? Their length, of course! It’s these swashbuckling idiots who are so in love with one genre that they willing to throw out the pirate baby with the salty bathwater! 2D shmups and other arcade-derived genres have no legitimate place in the videogame landscape or vocabulary because of their “short length”, according to these biddling twods!
So I propose that a new movement be started. Rise up, rise up, Game Length Radicals! Defeat those BS hierarchies when they cross your path, and oppose injustice! Always be truthful: “Every game has its own shelf life. No game can sustain its players indefinitely without resolution of some kind.”
Chrono Trigger – 20 hours. And the game even includes the option of facing the final boss and beating the game at any time after around the 5 hour mark. One of the best RPGs, heck, videogames, ever. And with all my keyboard-clacking about Silent Hill, I never complained once that the first game “only” took around 5 hours to beat, and a similar amount with Silent Hill 2. I never complained because neither game outstays its welcome. In fact, both games are pitched perfectly length-wise.
Wield your best examples with strength and goodwill and never be defeated by the Game Length Supremacists! Seize your place among the righteous, join the Game Length Radicals: a movement for the ages.
This post came about thanks to an argument with my partner over writing about videogames. Is there a way to speak about games that takes into account its uniqueness as a medium and doesn’t rely on ways of analysing films and books? Previously on this blog I’ve written about Ocarina of Time, and its links with The Arabian Nights and Disney’s Aladdin, but in doing so I was forced to ignore the gameplay of Ocarina of Time, which is by far the dominant way players experience the game. So how can we talk about games as games and not as anything else?
The first two Silent Hill games I see as two major milestones in gaming. Many critics, reviews and fans compare Silent Hill games to films: Jacob’s Ladder and David Lynch films are perhaps the most frequent examples. And they’re not wrong – there are definite links and influences being passed on. But at the same time no film can be seriously compared to Silent Hill (not even the Silent Hill films).