Thursday, 25 September 2014

Moments in time: The first quest for the sword



See that cartridge above? That's mine, and it's one of the most important video games I have. It was bought for me in the winter of 1992 (along with Mega Man 3) as an early Christmas present. I picked it on the back of a glowing review in issue 2 of the specialist snes magazine, "Super Play" with it's excellent Wil Overton cover art. I took a risk on a genre I had never played before,

Sunday, 7 September 2014

4chan know legitimate journalism



A while ago, I stated; "Gamers deserve better, but they also need to do better". Right now, more than ever, is that true in light of the last couple of weeks and the events that's lead to the ironically hashtagged, "Gamergate".

Thursday, 3 July 2014

e-sports must protect boys from female tyranny



Remember the day comrades, for this is truly a momentous occasion. One that will ring in the anals of video game history. For the golden souls behind Finland's Assembly Summer gaming tournament took a stand against the feminist onslaught to ruin the pure artistry of playing video games with a bunch of blokes, in a place.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Red Bull wants to make Flappy Bird and snowboarding tv show



At the moment there's lots of talk about the decline of the gaming magazine. How the former publishing powerhouse, Future publishing is now a shadow of it's former self, and how far the print medium is lagging behind digital content providers. Well as far as print is behind the internet, television is fucking light years behind both.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Who will protect gaming's male minority?



Poor old video games, eh? Sometimes it seems like it can never do anything right. Well, that's not really the case, sure it has more than it's share of fuck ups (as does  any form of the entertainment industry) and can be unfairly scapegoated by the tabloid press- like rap, comics, punk and rock & roll before it. Well, it looks like gaming has upset those women folk, because an unholy coven of women are dragging the good name of gaming through the mud by the great feminist overlords behind the prospective documentary, "No Princess In The Castle".

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Anonymous guest spot: Dating for gamers

 There's nothing wrong with admitting you lack a certain skill or specific knowledge. It just means I have to throw this blog on the mercy of my superiors in games media to speak, completely uncensored, on subjects outside of my purview. In return, I grant them anonymity so they are saved from pissing off editors and that wanker at Sega. The writer's name and publication have been changed to protect me from legal action and keep the writer's job







Nicky Quish has been writing for men's lifestyle blog, "Man Handle" for seven weeks and a longtime Kotaku commenter, reaching a career highpoint of being blocked by Leigh Alxander on twitter.




Dating for gamers

Hey there bros, nice guys and  gamecocks. I was on that internet, looking for new fedoras to impress my honestly real girlfriend/cam girl and I noticed post on Kotaku about a young lion who tried to pick up a buff  muff in a clothing store and got shot down on Facebook. Amateur tactics bro! You let that girl totally sink your man ship.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Nintendo loves them ladies



Things have been a rough for Nintendo as of late. The Wii U's sales have been, frankly, shithouse. And many have been predicting Nintendo's demise from the console business because of it. One of Nintendo's biggest problems, admitted by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, is the failure in reaching their target audience, which comprise of casual gamers who bought the Wii and people who might very well buy a new games console just to play Bayonetta 2. Nintendo just hasn't been able to fully communicate the appeals of the Wii U to gamers who are apathetic at best. But the marketing geniuses at the big N have devised a brilliant new plan to bring in a hot, previously untapped demographic, women!

Nintendo are going for the mythical "girl gamers" that we read so much about, with the introduction of the not remotely patronising, "Nintendo Girls Club", a Youtube channel  Nintendo UK. Which seems to be presented by a D-list actress, locked inside a soft pink isolation room.








I have sometimes wondered, is Nintendo's sometimes (or always in the case of the UK branch) questionable marketing as result of incompetence or indifference? Was the idea of, "Hey, women like shitty soap operas and make up and er, shopping. Lets do that" because Ninty UK have even less of a clue what gamers are interested in, or they just don't give a shit, so just cobble together some fake unboxing videos with a way too enthusiastic presenter and more of those adverts where whoever wasn't booked for "Celebrity Ice Wanking" pretends to play a 3DS game.


"We're trying to reach out to you bitches, so buy a 2DS, FUCK YOU!"


Bloody hell, Nintendo. You didn't even bother with a pink 2DS, you know women only like pink things. That's a well known fact. Or better yet, make a limited edition Wii U with realistic hair you can actually brush, so it's just like you're a hair dresser! Women have hair, that'll tip the scales back in Ninty's favour, no doubt. Scratch that, release a hollowed out 3DS that girls can keep all their makeup and special lady things ( for that stuff they do once a month, like in the Carrie documentary) to give the appearance of being into games, but not really. Because what women do. I mean, there's no proof for that, but I saw a Youtube commenter say that once, so that's good enough for me.


This is Nintendo's problem all over. If they want to desperately try to pander to a audience, but end up insulting them with a antiquated view to segregate them further than the games industry and gamecocks in general, then really swing for the fences. You gotta commit, the future of your console depends on it! If you went after gamers with the same vigour you went after youtubers, you'd be repeating the Wii launch success by now. God damn it, you're Nintendo, you should make Iwata wear a Fedora in those fucking  grim Nintendo Direct videos and fill the Girls Club channel with sandwich recipes. This is gaming, if you want to alienate and insult a group, you have to try much harder. Or at least tell them how they can stop the constant tide of dick drawings on Miiverse.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The new games media is worth every penny



Did you read about the games reviewer who gave a game a score and people didn't agree with it and accused said reviewer of being, "paid off by the publisher"? All the time, right? Because saying something contrary to what you believe means someone must have paid them off. Even though they haven't really been. Yes, we've all read Rob Florence's mildly infamous article where he hinted at, but was  too pussy to name the actual journos who were too cosy with the publishers -in between bouts of telling everyone how he invented talking about a video game and putting it on the internet. And I'm constantly referring to the hacks and editors who work deals with publishers, exchanging good reviews for exclusives,  and flog all their review code and PR swag. But as far as I know, no actual money has ever been paid by a publisher direct to a reviewer  for covering one of their games (unless you were already working  for said publisher). However some review sites have taken what used to be a comment section accusation and made it into a business model by charging publishers for reviewing their game.

Recently, indie game developer, Peter Norberg, as an experiment, approached a number of , pay-to-review, sites (some of which you can find on the Appy Nation Hall of Infamy) to see what you actually get for your money. Unsurprisingly, most of the sites that took Norberg's money didn't even put in the basic effort to use the screen pics and release date info (or "assets" to use the industry lingo) that was provided. Maybe that happened because any website asking for money to review a game  is is clearly A FUCKING SCAM. If you have just made a game and intend to self publish for the first time, seriously, you're not supposed to pay some crappy site, or any fucking site,  for the honour of reviewing it for shits sake!

"They spelt "Flappy" with seven Xs"


Don't do it, Ever. I know the temptation is high, especially when you're not a "name" and it's easy for your game to get buried under the sheer amount of new titles being released but there are plenty, decent sites like Pocket Gamer or Rock, Paper, Shotgun that only require you send them a copy of the game to review, you know, like game reviewers are fucking supposed to. And ultimately, you're only going to screw yourself in the long run by upsetting the publisher/reviewer symbiotic relationship of content and coverage.

The game is the "content", it's a product made to be bought so the developer can make a profit that warrants producing more games. The game review is the coverage,the means in which people find out about the content. Both rely on each other, with no games press a publisher has no real way to communicate to the  masses of their products and without a constant supply of preview assets, release dates and game to review, the games reviewer has no content to to fill their site/magazine with. Both publisher and reviewer need each other to prosper. Sometimes the line between the two gets a bit blurry, with hacks showing off their pr shit, like it's a present or and the open secret that is the "early, exclusive review". As well as the passive aggressive way pr people will suddenly stop inviting you to press events if you give their below average game a below average score. But asking for money from the publisher to review a game will not only destroy what little legitimacy the games press has, but the newbie, self publisher will end up in with the same problem of lack of awareness.

Publishers see news, previews and reviews of their games as promotion, nothing more. Unless there's a way to swindle dev teams out of bonuses, big publishers don't give a toss about review scores for the most part. So if paying the games media to review a game becomes industry standard (and lets be honest, I never underestimate the depths the games industry can lower to) then the indie publisher will back to square one. Because if outright paying for coverage becomes a thing,  the AAA publishers will do what they normally do, use their superior marketing budget to gazump everyone and have their games pushed ahead of everyone else. And the little indie game will back to square one. Lost in a storm of similar games, all fighting to get noticed amongst the big names.


 Norberg concludes his look into paying for reviews by advising that like minded indie devs should make sure they get value for money when buying a review. No, don't do that. You want loads of media outlets to review your game? Then make a interesting/original/fun game that everyone will want to talk about. Sorry if that's news to you (and it had to come from a blog at the arse end of the industry) but if you end up being responsible for whatever undeserved success the pay-to-review sites (who I would interested to see if any pay their writers) get, then you will have helped nightmare scenario. The complete corporate takeover of games media.

 Don't believe me? Look at what's happening to Youtube. The mass flagging that took place with the new Content id, wasn't just about stopping the misuse of copyrighted material. It's also the beginning of the corporate takeover, especially of gaming content. We now know both Microsoft and EA have been paying youtubers to promote their games. And publishers, like Sega are seemingly working Youtube's copyright system to their own advantage, deleting popular Shining Force videos so their Shining Force ads take preference in google and youtube searches. Or trying to censor bad reviews.


 Outside of Japan and Korea video games has never truly been given a fair shake. Sure there's been brave attempts and a couple of channels, but nothing that cements video games as a mainstay of TV. So gaming jumped on to the internet way before other genres/subjects did (long before Netflix started the, "everything will be viewed online now" revolution) and it was a user lead jump. Youtube  was fresh soil for so many gamers. Some of them good, most of them bad, but  all independent of the traditional games media structure. For the most part, none of them relied on publishers or any kind of relationship with PR people. But then some of those youtubers started making money and no way were the big publishers missing out on that. Which is why honest reviews are being flagged for no proper reason, other than because Sega et al just can. And Youtube will be a wasteland of lowest common denominator advertorial, like Machinima is becoming and IGN already is. Or corporate whores, like PewDiePie or the unfuckable KSI who have back door deals with publishers to produce glorified adverts while keeping the conceit of being a salt of the earth, humble little youtuber, while Youtube pushes them to the front page every time because Google has to have it's pound of flesh too.

If you feed this journalism equivalent of a smash and grab, not only are you wasting money that could of spent on your game's marketing (or simply pay the bills) you are only fucking yourself and the industry in the long term. If you have even the slightest regard for the games industry, then don't fucking do it. Indie and mobile games are supposed to be the future of video games, not a nail in the coffin of creativity.










Sunday, 26 January 2014

Suicide Gaming 2013 awards: The Back Hands

Much like the mixed feelings of regret and confusion you get from the probable aftermath of drunken idiocy of the new years piss up, waking up in your own urine and wondering who's vomit that is in your hair (because you don't remember eating prawns). We must now take stock and look back over the shitty parts of the previous year, because, let's be honest, this is what you came for. But like the positive, Glad Hands having one, the 2013 Back Hands have an omission too. The Spike TV VGX awards are left out because, how may of these have Spike TV made? It's still the same people (Geoff Keighley included)  behind the awards show, do you think they're suddenly gonna realise how good telly is made? If you're expecting the glorified advertising block that is the VGX is anything close to a genuine awards show, then more fool you. Plus there's a more obvious top offender for 2013, so lets get on with it, shall we?



Microsoft


You knew this was gonna be here. didn't you? Microsoft had a complete clusterfuck of a 2013, to the point where you wouldn't be blamed for thinking all of upper management had pissed off and left interns in charge. MS's new console, the confusingly named, "Xbox One" had some of the most regressive, anti-consumer policies this side of a Monsanto crop. MS still had a fair amount of goodwill until it's first live stream to announce the new console, with the emphasis on media apps, like watching sports. You know, like you do on television, but with Xbox One you can watch them via a plastic box that charges you a subscription to access what you were watching on your TV anyway, and  still needs a TV to work in the first place. Then came the rumours that the Xbox One was to implement DRM that would block the user from playing pre-owned games, the concept of having to sign in once every 24 hours or the user is locked out. Cue lots of PR/avoidance which then turned to outright  insulting the intelligence of the userbase. Most notably when former creative director at MS, Adam Orth, sarcastically (according to him) said that people who didn't like the rumoured always online aspect of the Xbox One should "deal with it", which lead to his resignation. Regardless, when pressed on the matter, MS president of Interactive Entertainment, Don Mattrick, confirmed that the Xbox One will have to sign on once ever 24 hours and games could not be physically shared or sold without the secondary "owner" paying a fee to the publisher. In response to the obvious backlash, Mattrick said anyone who didn't like could simply, buy an Xbox 360. Essentially telling Xbox fans, "here's the new console, you don't have a good internet connection? Then fuck off." And even then no one at MS could fully explain how the game sharing thing worked. It's still unclear whether MS were totally incompetent or Mattrick had taken a bung from Sony to throw the console war?  An overall feeling of confusion and betrayal best summed up in this breakup letter to Xbox  by the immortal John Cheese. Then Mattrick fucked off the Zynga and MS had no choice but to backtrack on the DRM and pre-owned when they realised people actually gave a shit about pre-owned games and not having to be chained to their living room via a underpowered, hyperbole box. Plus Sony got a massive head start simply by doing the opposite. Now MS is playing catch up with false platitudes and questionable promises, and frankly, I don't buy it...literally. And neither should you just for the sole reason you (the buyers of the Xbox and Xbox 360) are the reason Microsoft are even making their third console in the first place. Don't let them forget it.



Phil Fish




Yes, his comments about the Japanese games industry were borderline offensive. Yes, he often comes across like a petulant teenager who really should learn to think before he speaks (or at the very least hire someone to run his twitter account) and yes, you can often label him as dishing it out and not taking it. However, that's not why he's on this list. If you followed his meltdown on twitter, instigated by official camel-breaking straw, Marcus Beer, aka, "Annoyed Gamer", aka, "Anger-gimmick reviewer #259" called Fish and Jonathan Blow "fucking hipsters" on a podcast because both didn't answer straight away to a story Beer had asked them about. Cue a twitter shit-storm where Fish, Beer and anyone on the internet spoiling for a fight, that ended in Fish cancelling development on Fez 2 and quitting the games industry entirely. The reason Fish has won a end of year Back Hand  isn't because he got over sensitive and should learn to log out of twitter when things get hectic. No, he's on this shitlist because he quit the best job in the world because of some arsehole on the internet. I don't know him personally so I don't know for sure whether he walked because he wanted to storm out dramatically leaving a chorus of "please don't leave us Phillip!", hoping to leave a trail of broken hearts and cries to return (which, in my experience doesn't happen). Or he had to honestly get away from social media and video games entirely, because internet twats think freedom of speech means freedom to hurl whatever abuse to anyone without repercussions. But either way it fucking stinks because, I don't know about you, but I'd rather have less game journalists in the world than game developers. So Mr Fish, you need time to clear your head, take some time to reflect then get back into what you do best. But as long as you let the mouth breathers who think all video games is their exclusive domain and they dictate to all, then this back hand remains. Get your  priorities straight and tell yourself you don't need to reply to every cunt on twitter.



KSI & Sponsors



 
Just when you thought it was safe to be female and go to a gaming event, the walking slab of fuck-meat, KSI rears his unlovable face once again. Or rather his corporate sponsors tried to force  upon a public undeserving the sight of the disgusting, asexual lump that he calls a body. What happened was a few outlets and individuals openly questioned Microsoft's UK PR hiring the convention sex pest to perform at the UK Xbox One launch, seeing as MS were all about aiming their new console at more of a family friendly audience. Which begged the question, did MS have no idea of KSI's often objectionable behaviour and content when they hired him? Or did they not care because he's a popular Yotube personality amongst angry, young misogynists, and they need to hit that market? A question most notably posed by VideoGamer.com's Matt Lees. In which he questioned the  use of KSI -who's only contribution to comedy is impersonating a rapist and playing Fifa- by family friendly brands who sponsor KSI, like BT, EA, The Gadget Show and MS. So, does the youtube "personality" do in reply? Ignore the initial furore? Make a rebuttal video? Make a honest vlog, explaining that he's portraying a character and he doesn't endorse sexual harassment? Nope, the prick flagged the video because it used clips of his sexual harassment at Eurogamer Expo video.That means VideoGamer (even if they overturn the flagging) lose out on six months of ad revenue. So KSI not only is against a free press, but is also happy to use the broken Youtube content id system to stop people's income. Funny how the people who leaped on Lauren Wainwright for threatening Eurogamer with legal action were strangely absent when KSI was censoring a video critique of him, eh? I guess they're all as much of a coward as KSI is. And as much of a hypocrite as all the corporate sponsors, who hired him to to wank their brands off to his four million subscribers, then tried to wash their hands of the responsibility of doing research on the unfucakble scumbag.



Penny Arcade



If it wasn't bemusing enough how PA made itself into a gaming media power house, hosting the biggest gaming conventions in America, PAX,  off the back off a below average web comic then. It's equally mind boggling when, despite their seniority in games media, they still act like two teenage pricks in their bedroom with a web comic. More so with PA co-creator, Mike Krahulik, who flip-flops between being a shafting bully and crying victim. The origin for this behaviour goes back to 2010, with the whole "Dickwolves" controversy started (which you can read about in detail here), which came to light yet again when Krahulik, at a PAX panel, brought up the Dickwolves debacle and the flack PA took for making Dickwolves a t-shirt (which PA soon withdrew), and said he regretted withdrawing the Dickwolves shirts. This is a man that has denied contributing to rape culture, yet made it's uniform. Whether he's honestly ignorant that his outbursts make him just like the rape apologists that wear the very shirts he boasted about wearing to PAX,because he's fighting censorship, or is being a plain old dickhead is unclear. But this whole, "Well I didn't know all these people that read my comic strip and hang on my every word-especially when I'm grandstanding at a massive convention I helped create, were gonna run with a stupid stance I took over valid criticism, which then got hijacked by an insidious subset of sociopaths." act is getting hard to swallow. So pardon me if I look at the proposed "diversity lounge" with a touch of cynicism. A safe "space" for women, people of colour and LGBT, as opposed to making the whole convention safe for everyone, even trans-gendered people, who Krahulik won't properly recognise. But it's alright now, because Penny Arcade now, supposedly, has nothing to do with PAX -as well as dropping their video content and sacking big Benny Kuchera- as stated in Krahulik's blog post. If  Krahulik is sincere about trying to make amends for his bile, then he will have to look hard at himself and what he's done and maybe think about openly confronting his misgivings as a way of educating the young boys and lost puppies of the MRAs then good luck to him. Unless he's just a sneaky cunt who's lying low until the storm blows over while still coining it in from PAX? We'll see.



SimCity



Perhaps not the last, but definitely the largest nail in the coffin of Digital Rights Management, as SimCity was the perfect advert not to use DRM in the architecture of your video game, and a textbook case of corporate idiocy. EA and Maxis (for lack of a more exact term) fucked up royally with SimCity because of EA's greed and total lack of foresight by making the latest incarnation in the SimCity franchise to be exclusively available from EA's online game service, Origin and would require the user to be always connected to the EA servers to run the game. So, the game launches and guess what happened? Day one, the servers crash and all those people who paid full price for a digital only game couldn't because despite EA being one of the biggest publishers on the shitting planet, it couldn't afford -or couldn't be arsed to buy- servers big enough to handle the obvious world-wide traffic. Cue lots of disgruntled customers, the Vice President of Maxis avoiding questions about the outage and constantly excusing their customers not being able to play the game they paid for, because they were being silly for being pissed off at not being able to play a game that was designed to be connected online. It's the future, and it was fighting piracy or something. And by no means should we have listened to the rumour that SimCity could actually be played offline. In fact, hacked versions of the game could be played offline, so it begged the question, what was the point of legally buying a product, that implemented a deeply flawed anti-piracy, anti-play-your-game-on-anything-but-cunting-origin  digital tether, while people playing hacked and pirated versions were free to build their city for free? SimCity is exactly why almost no one trusts any sort of always-on service, nor should they. EA fucking gouge the shit out of  or sequel games to death but when you have a online game service that can't even do the one thing it's supposed to - you know, play games when you want - then EA and Maxis deserve no praise whatsoever for finally making SimCity work offline. And it only took them six months to do it too.


Youtube



Youtube has been such a pain in the arse, you'd almost think Google were doing it out of spite, for Youtube kicking the shit out of Google Video (remember that?) years ago. Things first took a turn for the crap when Youtube users were asked to ditch their user names for their real names so Youtube could force users to comment and message each other using Facebook's ugly cousin, Google +. Because Google are shit out of ideas to market their social network, so they just jerry rigged it into the massive video streaming site, and if users didn't go for the update, then they don't properly exist, so fuck 'em if they want to comment or like something. Then the tits really hit the can when the new content id system came into place. Literally overnight, videos - many that had been up for years - were being flagged left, right and center. Content blanket flags every-fucking-thing from videos made as obvious parody, critiques, song covers (all which are textbook fair use), videos that used music with full permission of the original artist or even themselves.That's how undiscriminating Content ID is, because it actually flags content on the behalf of the copyright owner, even when the owner is fine with people using their content or the video using said content isn't monetised (which is usually the free pass with most companies). Why is this happening? Firstly, Google don't want another Viacom situation, where other movie/game/music companies threaten legal action over all the misuse of copyright. Secondly, now Youtube is a legit content platform, with many creators making their own original content, pulling in millions of views and that potential advertising space needs to be protected, especially now more established corporations are moving in. Thirdly, it has to be a software-based content check, because it would cost too much to hire enough people to check everything. And fourth and most important of all, Youtube is the biggest video streaming site going, so they can do whatever the fuck they want. Google have probably figured some people will be put out, pissed off and outright forced into leaving (if their channel hasn't been already shut down) and made any sort of video game footage a no-no unless you have a deal with the publishers like KSI and PewDiePie and take the King's shilling to make the kind of advertorial that make the comments section in gaming sites froth at the mouth, yet barely raise am eyebrow when the "real gamers" are happy to do. Youtube might as well cut the bullshit and make their slogan, "Where else you gonna go? Vimeo?" Because now the corporations have moved in, the people who made Youtube the success it is (the users) don't matter  anymore. And when Content id becomes self aware and decides the entire human race is guilty of copyright infringement, we'll really be fucked for sure.




Honourable fuck yous



The Loading Bar- Here's an idea, lets take a crappy, overpriced cafe in the shitty part of Soho (where the gay clubs end and the crack dealers begin), stick a Master System in the window and serve overpriced cocktails and host launch events for publishers who can't afford to hire anywhere nice. Just stick a Playstation one in the front window of a All Bar One, you get the same effect.

The Amazing Atheist- The poster boy for white male privilege on the internet.  Made a video called, "The failure of feminism." The only failing I can think of is that it didn't do a better job of pushing for full access to contraception for women, so his mother could have done the world a favour and have the little prick aborted.

Ginx TV- For finally breaking through on to UK screens on the Virgin Media and achieving what I thought impossible; making Explosive Alan's content look slick and professional by comparison. Say what you want about Dan Maher (by all means) but at least he can talk to camera without constantly tilting his head.

Game Journalists who trash NeoGaf but use it for news sources- Or the "Ben Parfitt Award for hack journalism, and general wankery." If  NeoGaf is full of entitled whiners who know nothing yet you're still happy to post the most erroneous rumour on 'Gaf as news, then guess what? You're a fucking hack and are in no position to even criticise the weather.

Capcom- As hackneyed as it is to ask, seriously Capcom. Are you all on crack? Because where else is all the money going?Because it's not on making better games.

DC Comics- You just had to fuck with Batwoman, didn't you? Was it to tie in with the (now aborted) Orson Scott Card run on Superman, where the super powered alien would protest the "unnatural" marriage between Kate and Maggie? And you couldn't even let us have the fight with Batman, could you?

David Cage- If Cage wants to make games where the focus is more on the story and character development that's peachy. But when the story is recycled from Carrie and some old X-Files (or "Beyond Two Souls" as most call it) episodes and has dialogue and plot holes that would make Hideo Kojima cringe, and loads of fucking QTEs then your game kinda fails it's objective. Oh, and of you are gonna scoff and games like Lollipop Chainsaw, Mr Cage, when Beyond Two Souls has a QTE tribute to the rape scene from The Accused. Was that supposed  to elicit emotions Dave? Well I got some, disgust and annoyance. And fuck Ryan, he's a wanker and if BTS was written to a standard akin to the best TV or film, Ellen Page would of told that divorced twat to fuck off in a heartbeat.

Suicide Gaming- An end of year piece nearly four weeks into the new year? God, Ben Parfitt is right, I really am a shit writer. Ironically, when I joked about quitting, some people believed it. I should of paid attention to the popular opinion and should of actually stopped. I don't know, I need a fucking holiday.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Suicide Gaming 2013 awards: The Glad Hands

Yes, it's that time of year again. When there's fuck all to report in the world of video games, because all the big publishers think it's a good idea to shoot their commercial load right at the start of the Christmas period. So with nothing better to do (other than stop) I'm- like every other terrible blog or website with time to kill- compiling the Suicide Gaming end of year awards. Just like last year, they are split into two categories, summing up the good and bad of video games (as well as stand out people, items or events) of 2013. So we start with the best of the 2013, the glad hands.  But first some admissions. This list is complied by me alone, so that means I can only list games I've actually played. So GTA 5 isn't here, because I need a new hard drive for my Xbox 360 for the 8Gig install. And the lack of mobile games is because my phone is shit. If you don't like it, then set up a amazon wishlist for this blog and you can just buy me everything, that fair? So anyway, in no particular order...


Bioshock Infinite

After the lacklustre Bioshock 2 (which was more like a glorified add-on disc) Ken Levine and all at Irrational Games really found their form again and created another instalment of what they did best with the first Bioshock. Acaptivating story, that is essentially holding your hand through a linear first-person shoot 'em up, but when the story being told is as well thought out and written as Bioshock Infinite's steampunk twist on American history. Add to that improved shooting controls (a common complaint of the first game), some actual space to move around enemies all set against the stunning backdrop of Columbia, a floating monument to capitalism, racism and the odd 80s pop song. But best thing of all about Bioshock Infinite is how it lured out every  hack games journo who wanted to wave around the term, "ludo narrative dissonance" - which is something you'd see in the story or cutscene of a game that clashes or is totally contrary to the game play. So every arsehole with a media degree went about showing how cleaver they were buy saying Bioshock Infinite was a major example of it. Yeah, playing as a former government spy/union buster using violence and magic potions to defend himself against a whole floating city of militia men and genetically modified jingoists really clashes with the plot. You know what's really dissonant with the game? Finding money in bins. Are the inhabitant of Columbia so affluent that they chuck all their spare change in the rubbish? That's the only problem, just enjoy a well made game, you self important pricks.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

If the story of how MGR: Revengeance got made in the first place- that the head of Platinum Games half-jokingly agreed to make the Metal Gear Solid based action game Hideo Kojima's team was having trouble making- is true then hats well and truly off to Platinum for, frankly, keeping up their pedigree of hack and slash games alone, but that they did it using the MGS universe. Just think about that, they took a game series that emphasises stealth, patients and really, REALLY, long cut-scenes and thought, "Why don't you just run around with a sword and sliced everyone in half?" And for good measure have it star the least popular character in the MGS franchise, pretty boy Raiden. Underlying homophobia aside, Revengeance carries on in the growing Platinum Games catalogue of cool action games, focusing on sword-play and then some. You get you de riguer light and heavy attacks but then you get "Blade Mode." A genius piece of video game interface, drawing the action to a standstill and allowing you to slice through a enemy as exact as a surgeon or into a pile of fucking cyborg mincemeat. Brilliant! Is it better than Bayonetta? No, but then what is? But the soundtrack is certainly miles better and there's a reference to the Vanilla Ice song, "Ninja Rap" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. So fuck your 30 minute cutscenes and crap dialogue Kojima, we've got mad bastard cyborg Raiden now. It's well paced, fun and the pointless Jetstream Sam and better Blade Wolf DLC packs are free now.



Pacific Rim




Pacific Rim is a movie about giant, alien monsters invading the Earth. And in defence, humanity makes equally giant robots and punches the shit out of them. That is it. There's no fancy twist or post-ironic look at the Japanese Kaiju, giant monster film genre. It's a film completely about piloting giant robots and having massive rucks with giant aliens. And it's fantastic. Where Michael Bay failed over the course of three rubbish Transformer movies, Guillermo del Toro succeeded with tremendous aplomb. The main thing that sets Pacific Rim apart from the generic summer sci-fi blockbuster fare is the over riding feeling that it's been made by someone who genuinely loves the genres that inspired it. But even though it's inspiration comes from anime and movies from the over 30 years ago, the story, direction, kaiju and jaeger design, camera work, soundtrack and characterisation all have a fresh take on what should be fairly tired ideas. It's familiar and new all at the same time. Yeah, you have the troubled loner who needs to open up and realise his full potential and yeah, he does that through a relationship with a women who takes interest in him. But *SPOILER ALERT* not in the way you expect. Raleigh and Mako's relationship is that of brother and sister, bonding over their loss and learning to trust the other. Because the colossal jaegers require two pilots, working in complete unison-connected by shared memories. So the whole, "We have to learn to work together or we lose" routine is perfectly justified in that two seemingly different people discover they're more alike than they thought and it makes them much better at kicking the shit out of giant aliens. And boy do they kick the shit out of aliens. If, by the Hong Kong scene, you haven't regressed into a 10 year old, bouncing around in your chair with a big silly grin on your face then there's no hope for you. If there's only one negative I can find, it needed more Cherno Alpha.

Mummy, I want one!


Depression Quest




I'm not usually one for text-based games and I didn't write anything about this interesting title-that has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons- when I played it. The reason I didn't write about or review it earlier was because the "interactive fiction" (as the creator Zoe Quinn calls it) that depicts the life of  someone suffering from depression affected me in a way no video game ever has. While playing it, I was doing what most people tend to do during similar, multiple-choice, personality tests, and answer as truthfully as possible, basing my answers on how I would of acted in a similar situation to the protagonist of Depression Quest. As I made the various choices based upon me from 10 years ago,  when I was in a similar situation, the status updates on how your character's mental health, as you progress, grimly telling me how depressed I am, when it suddenly clicked. That time I used to jokingly refer to as my "lost years" was depression. It was such a shock, I didn't want to play it again right away nor write about it. For that alone, Depression Quest is worth mentioning with the best games of 2013. This is one of the best depictions of the isolation and self-loathing one goes through during a depressive period. I know that doesn't sound like a great game but the way it uses a first person narrative to put across how mental illness can develop and worsen without help (which you can seek via links on the website) means your time isn't wasted, even if you're not no-scoping space marines in ultra high definition. Check out the website and give it a go, you can pay whatever you want, or play a free version, or give it the nod on Steam Greenlight.



Jim Sterling




Young James may have had the odd rough patch in the past, but 2013 has really been the year he stepped up his game and came into his own as the foul mouthed, self aggrandising, Willem Dafoe obsessed speaker-upper for the common gamer. Even if the subject matter is something some gamers don't want to dwell on or were unaware of- be it microtransactionsdevelopers pulling a fast one, and victim blaming, he hasn't shied away from the difficult subjects. Even if you don't always agree with what he has to say, you should respect his total honesty with games, gamers and himself. Honesty that has drawn a fair amount of flack from those he's criticised (both the players and makers of games) or those yet to, or never will, get some of his arguments. I pretty much hate everyone in games media, but Sterling's video series, the Jimquisition has become essential viewing. Plus, what other game journalist shows off their sex toy collection? Try getting that out of Ben Kuchera. He won't show you as much as an anal bead.



The Shamancycle



 The massive rise in popularity of crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter,has lead to some confusion on the nature of investment, maybe because there are now known people and corporations forgoing the traditional method of funding and  using their fanbase as a direct cash source. Or, like the Ouya, it's been a minor cluster fuck. Investing in something isn't a online store, ok? Kickstarter was meant for projects that wouldn't be able to get funded via the traditional channels of hoping some rich bastard or mega-corp likes it or see a commercial  aplication. That's why in 2013 (or probably ever), the only kickstarter I donated to a 10-person, giant eagle bicycle, the Shamancycle. This is exactly the sort of thing Kickstarter was set up for. A giant eagle-shaped bicycle for 10 people to ride on, because it's too awesome not to exist. If that isn't art purely for the love of it, then I don't know what is. I have no idea what my meagre donation paid for, probably a foot pedal. Yeah, that'll do for me, the Suicide Gaming memorial pedal- always under someone's foot, but it keeps going. And if you don't wear shoes, you'll get hurt. Perfect!



SMB3: Brick By Brick




Bob Chipman, cinema critic, game journalist and lord of the dark moustache has literally rewritten the "lets play" (maybe someone else did it before him, probably. But seeing as awarding him on the dubious notion he has redefined a sub-genre of games fandom will no doubt  fuck off  his detractors, so why not?) by documenting an entire run through of Super Mario Bros.3 on the NES, told alongside Chipman's professional and personal life, detailing some of the common struggles the adult gamer has to deal with, trying to juggle a productive life while still devoting every spare second to  defeating that fucking long koopa tank, near the end. If you like Chipman, then Brick By Brick is a brisk read about one man's history as a Mario fan and well worth you time. And if you don't normally like his "constant issue raising" then see what he's like when it's all about the games, right here.




Rad Raygun



Often, retro-style games are given the label, "love letter to..." because it uses pixel graphics or chiptunes and make little nods to games that are more than 10 years old. But (to my diminishing knowledge) none have been a love letter to a console, in this case the Gameboy. Rad Raygun wears it's love for Megaman games (and similar titles) on Gupei Yukoi's little gray box of wonders on it's sleeve, it's collar, trousers, belt, the whole fucking outfit. The graphic style is entirely in a  green monochrome- that can be adjusted to the exact shade of green (or red or blue)you had on your old, original brick Gameboy, just for the extra touch of nostalgia. The soundtrack by  FantomenK is excellent, especially the Berlin stage. You've got loads of references to 80s and 90s game and cultural tropes. And you play as a anthropomorphized Gameboy for shit's sake! Available on Steam and Xbox Live, this is a small yet wonderfully formed indie game is a neat homage to shooting platformers of yore, but without the massive difficulty curve. I find Rad Raygun to be a nice cleanser, when I play something and reach a frustrating impasse, I quit and blast through Rad Raygun as a break from that one bastard of a boss that's pushing me to a screen-kicking spree. I look forward to what TruFun Entertainment does next.



Patrick Scott Patterson




Despite being guilty of the social crime of wearing sunglasses indoors, Patterson, on top of documenting the history of videos games and having it recognised as part of popular culture has taken it upon himself to offer his services as a video game expert to any news channel in the US  running a story (unsurprisingly) about violent video games and it's misrepresentation in the media. Using such progressive methods such as reason, forethought, promotion of responsibility. Basically everything Fox News and Jack Thompson want people to think every video game is shooting satanic radiation into the player's brain, making them into psychotic baby kickers and cat molesters at the drop of a Xbox Live update.





Honourable mentions






IDW Comics - Iffy Dredd ongoing ans shitty Crow in Japan remake aside, IDW has put out some really excellent titles, including James O'Barr returning to write 2 new Crow stories, Judge Dredd vs. Mars Attacks  and what has been the most consistently funny comic of the year, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. Yes, really. Imagine a all-autobot remake of Red Dwarf but without the disappointing decline in quality.

Darkstalkers: Resurrection - Under the radar fighting game classic has well tuned second and third games in the series. And Jedah. Fuckin' Jedah!


The Dredd Sequel Petition - Whoever put the idea into effect, it's a fucking excellent idea. I don't know if a Dredd sequel would reverse the economic crisis, cure all disease and make ice cream  slimming. But sign the petition anyway.

The Wolf Among Us - Not only is a cool variation on the misery-thon, The Walking Dead. But I love it already, just because in my 30-odd years of gaming I never thought I would hear the line, "Have you heard the latest Shakin' Steven's album?" Genius!

Kirk Mckeand - At the rate he's writing now, in about 4-6 years he'll be at the "too good for games journalism" stage. So jump on the bus early, before he loses his looks.

Mindless Self Indulgence - Their latest, crowdfunded, album, "How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence" is like there's a party in your ears. And they're all having gay sex. Which, as we all know, is the best kind.

Lou Scheimer -Animation icon, Scheimer, passed away in 2013, leaving a long legacy in Western animation, most notably He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. Which helped kick off the 80s boom in US cartoon shows and dedicated channels. If you've ever enjoyed a cartoon show from the last 30 years, made for one of the numerous cartoon channels, then you owe a small debt to Scheimer. Good journey Lou.

Diablo 3 - The console version to be exact. No bullshit DRM or having to mine money for the broken exchange system. Just the game, and playing it with a controller makes the combat is real time, thus making Diablo 3 the Gauntlet remake I always wanted.

Video Games Changed the World - Despite the presance of Rob Florence and one of the Explosive Alan cast and the omission of DDR, Charlie Brooker showed good video games television is doable, there is a audience for it and it doesn't have to be aimed at infants or night dwelling masturbators.

Far Cry: Blood Dragon - Slightly underestimated arcade game, wrongly labelled as DLC. It's not. You don't have to buy the game about some cunt with a shit haircut, murdering tigers to play as a cyborg cunt with a shit name and murder neon cyber-soldiers and shoot at dinosaurs.

John Cheese - For his breakup letter to Xbox, summing up the (mostly abusive) relationship between console maker and user.

Critial Miss - For being better written, drawn and funnier than anything Penny Arcade has ever shit out. So read it.