Friday, 31 August 2012

I am very stupid

Well, this is kind of a semi update post I guess, I literally just realised that the e-mail listed on the side bar has been wrong all this time, the correct address is now listed so if you've sent me any mail, I didn't get it because I'm a massive wasteman, sorry, feel free to resend it though!

Also, tomorrow marks the start of Saturn Month! Prepare for awesome!

Free Game Friday: I wanna be the guy!

Ok well it's Friday and this week is a bit of a cop out because I've not really bothered to actually play any free games, so instead I'm going to talk about a game that everyone under the sun knows about.

If you don't know about this game, you either don't play games that much or you've been living under a rock for the last god knows how many years.  I Wanna Be The Guy is a stupidly hard platform that takes pleasure in ruining your day.  The game is very unfair and does nothing but troll the player from start to finish but the save points are well spaced out on the games standard difficulty (hard mode) so you always feel like you only need that one lucky run through in order to progress.

Considering the game is free it's pretty long too, you may get lost at a few points and failing that you'll most definitely get stuck somewhere.  Sure, when you beat the game that first time, a replay seems a lot easier but this game is awesome the first time you experience it.

Saying any more really would feel like a waste of space since I think everybody with an internet connection has at least heard of this one.  So if you've not played it, get some anti-rage pills and give it a spin, because you've been missing out.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Sega Saturn!

Today we're going to talk about something I have very fond memories of, the Sega Saturn.  Holy fuck was this console AWESOME!

I don't remember how old I was when I first got my Saturn, but I was still pretty young.  All I remember is that I was going back home in the car with my family from....somewhere, and my dad just decided to randomly stop in an electronics store and pick one of these bad boys up.  I mean I was young and stupid at the time, I didn't have a fucking clue what it was until I got home and popped in Fighting Vipers!

This was probably the first game I ever played that was 3D and it blew my fucking mind.  You may think that this title has been long since forgotten and no one gives a shit but you'd be fucking WRONG!! If you've played Soul Calibur 4 (not sure if it's in 5) then then whole system where you could break off bits of armour, this is the game which did it first.  Hell, the game even had a feature to save your goddamn replays before anyone even gave a fucking about that kind of thing.

Despite all the fond memories of that game though, the Saturn is home to my personal favourite video game EVER! Which is Panzer Dragoon Saga
This game was fucking HUGE, it came on 4 discs and has one of the most interesting game worlds I think I've ever seen.  For anyone who doesn't know, Panzer Dragoon is a series of arcade type shooting games where you fly a dragon, but this game was an RPG spin off.  This game was so fucking good that a couple years later when I played Final Fantasy VII for the first time, I was disappointed with it because I didn't feel it stacked up to PDS.

The rest of it's library was pretty stellar too, things like NiGHTS and Die Hard Arcade just to name a couple kept me occupied for fucking hours although it did have a couple of crap games too, but what console doesn't, right? The Saturn was basically the point for me when gaming became more than just a thing to do to kill time, it became a full blown hobby, or passion, or whatever you want to call it.

It wasn't all wonderful though, the Saturn had some really awkward hardware so emulating it is a real bitch, and the console itself had a battery backup to save games, so if you don't replace that little bastard then your save games will delete themselves when you turn off the machine.

The last thing I want to say is that it had one of the best advertising campaigns I've ever seen in Japan, take a look.

Segata Sanshiro is a fucking bad ass, no wonder it did so well in Japan.  Shame that in the EU, it came out so close to the PS1 launch that no one gave a shit.  Oh well...

So to finish this post I want to announce Sega Saturn September!  Starting from September 1st, I'm going to make some kind of Saturn related post every day, so you may be seeing 2 or 3 posts daily during this month while I blog about other stuff as well.  Also, providing I can get the stream to work, I'll be streaming Saturn games whenever I have free time, I'll provide the link once it's set up.  So I hope you're ready to be educated on one of the best gaming machines EVER!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Blog Updates!

Well I don't really have time to make a full on big post today, so instead I'm going to grace you with some ideas I have for the near future.

First, I'm planning to do more Isaac videos, mainly of the challenge mode and probably with commentary.  I'll upload them even if I lose, but I probably won't upload every attempt because that will get pretty dull pretty fast, probably the first attempt and then the 5th, 10th etc.

The other big video project I have in mind is doing some mahjong commentary, playing online and explaining why it's bullshit when I don't win.  It'll also be semi educational so it might be of interest to anyone wanting to learn the game

There is also an idea to do a kind of non-gaming related video series but I'm still thinking about that one.

Finally, I have a big month long event that's going to go down starting from around September 1st, but you'll find out more about that tomorrow!

Look forward to the stuff, hopefully you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Leauge of Legends Vs DotA2

When I'm spending my time lurking around gaming forums, a common topic I see being discussed is which game is better between League of Legends or DotA2.  So I'm going to throw my opinion into the pile, even though it's sort of like spitting in the ocean at this point.

So which game do I think is better?  Well the answer is neither because this whole argument is fucking stupid in the first place, they are two completely different games, offering completely different experiences made by completely different sets of people.  Yes, they are in the same genre so there are some things you can say about similarities in style and game play, but the differences are far too vast between the two titles.

Don't take the fact that I think this argument is stupid to mean I don't like either game.  I like them both and I play both, but I play them for different purposes.  League of Legends I play strictly for the fun times, dicking around with a small group of buddies and just generally having a good time occasionally doing stupid shit.  DotA on the other hand is my serious face game.  I still have fun with it but I feel more motivated to TRY and do well in DotA than I do in League.  That's not me saying League of Legends isn't a competitive game, I just personally don't want to treat it as such.

Now the reason this argument is so stupid is because it's so obvious that League of Legends is trying to attract a completely different kind of person to DotA that if you can't see that you need to be smacked over the head with a piece of wood.  League from day 1 has always been a game that's far more accessible to new players, it's a free game that simplified the game mechanics of beasts like DotA so that everybody could have fun with it.  That's not to say the game is dumbed down per se, but things have been tweaked in the favour of those who know nothing about this genre than the hardcore fans of the old Warcraft 3 mod.

DotA on the other hand is the kind of game you really need to study to be good at.  There is so much depth to this game, and things like buying items and dying carry so much more weight that it's really aimed at the kind of person who wants a deep, challenging game rather than a quick MOBA fix.

To simplify my point further, it's like the difference between chess and checkers.  Neither are bad games, but one blatantly requires more thought, effort and practise than the other to be good at. 

But what I also see a lot of is people from DotA bashing people who play League, and this is also really fucking stupid.  It's not like the DotA scene was particularly huge until recently, but the hardcore DotA fans would love nothing more than all the new League players to just fuck off.  This doesn't make any sense!  Yes, DotA is deeper and more involving, so HELP THEM understand it and get good at it, don't shun them straight off the bat, your community will never improve that way!

Both good games, if your a fan of the genre I'd recommend both!

Note: Comparing these games to RTS games is fucking stupid, don't do it.  Also RTS players need to generally shut up about League and DotA players, because it's not impossible to be good at both genres for fucks sake.

Monday, 27 August 2012

The World Ends With You for iPhone and iPad

So if you are into anything like video games, movies, comic books and stuff like that, chances are you are a jaded, bitter, angry individual because all companies seem to want to do is take stuff that you love and take a massive steaming shit all over it.  This is what has happened with the new The World Ends With You announcement.

Now I tend not to pay too much attention to hype trains, I like to play a game with a clear head and form my own opinion on it, but about a week ago I was linked to this website  

All this website was the time I first viewed it was a countdown timer and some remixed songs from the original World Ends With You soundtrack.  I got pretty excited for what was going to come at the end of this countdown, I was under the impression that if you hype something with a timer, then the thing at the end of the timer is going to be good, right?


All we got was this piece of shit, a fucking port for iPhone and iPad.  First of all, the iPhone is not a good system for gaming, it just isn't.  Sure, shit like Angry Birds works really well on this system, but big meaty RPGs like this aren't going to attract your average iPhone gamer.  Most importantly however, the thing that made TWEWY such a good, interesting game on the DS was it's amazing battle system that utilised both screens.  So way to go and fucking ruin that with your piece of shit one screen combat.  The idea of having combat on one screen just basically ruins some of the interesting and challenging battles as a few of the fights would revolve around the dual screen mechanics (E.g. Taboo Noise, for those that know what that is)

It also fucks the game right up from a story perspective too.  The reason the combat was on 2 screens story wise was that despite the 2 characters being linked, they had to fight the big nasties alone.  If they killed the enemy, it would die for their partner too, but if they took damage, the partner would suffer as well.  It was a cool concept that made the idea of combat slightly frightening from a story perspective, but now all that has been thrown out the window since they can just fight together now on one fucking screen.

There are lots of other things I could talk about that make the game seem shit, but I have to remember that despite all my ranting and raving, I haven't played it yet, so my opinion is generally not worth shit on this matter, but it just seems like a bit of a betrayal here.  It might be pretty good, but I won't know for a long time because if square thinks I'm dropping 20 bucks on a fucking shitty iPhone port of a 2008 DS game, they have another thing coming.

Here is the trailer, people panned this shit so hard they removed comments and ratings.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Now That's Some Bullshit #6: Region Locking

Time for some more ranting and raving as I pick out one of the things that annoys me the most, region locking on hardware.

Now before I start hearing about the "pros" of region locking, I'm going to tell you right now to fuck right off.  With that out of the way let us talk about how region locking is a load of ass.  So as you may or may not have figured out I am currently living in Japan and if you have been following my story of all my games being stolen, you may also know that my family now live in Sweden after moving from the UK.

So after spending so much time living in the UK and then suddenly moving about everywhere, I have a lot of PAL video games.  Now in terms of games I own, everything Sony related I have no problem with.  The PS3, PSP and the Vita (which I don't own yet) are all region free, so all the moving around basically had no effect on that, same for the DS.  But my Xbox and Wii games, I just flat out cannot play anymore because I've moved country, and THAT is bullshit.  However, those games appear to have been stolen, so even if I was still in Europe I couldn't play them right now anyway.

That said, I own a 3DS, one that I bought in the UK, and this fucking thing is region locked too so I can't buy any games for this fucking thing because I'm living in Japan.  I don't want to hear any crap about how region locking a system is good for business or some shit.  Your average everyday gamer doesn't give two fucks about importing for cheaper prices (or knows how for that matter) and on top of that, companies are probably losing money by not allowing people like me to pay for games that aren't available to them in the country that they live in.  Disregarding that point for a second, the DS was fucking region free so why did Nintendo suddenly feel the need to lock me out of their library of games just because I moved house? Assholes

Long story short, stop fucking region locking, the companies that don't region lock their stuff aren't exactly suffering for it, so you basically have no reason to fucking do it as far as I know.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I made an Isaac video and then uploaded it


So the story is, I was testing to see if FFSplit just to make sure it worked and also to make sure that if I did record a game, it wouldn't make my piece of shit computer crash or make the game unplayable, I'm new to this whole recording games thing so I was testing the water.

Anyway, when I started this run on The Binding of Isaac, given that I spent the whole thing playing like a goddamn idiot I still managed to win.  Usually I wouldn't upload something like this but I had a couple buddies that wanted to see the run, so really it's for them, but hopefully some other people will get a kick out of it too!

Now that it's tested, the plan is to make videos of me completing the challenge modes with some commentary or something.  Depending on how interesting they turn out to be, I might upload the unsuccessful runs so you can all point and laugh at me as I don't do so good, but we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, enjoy this little test run I did, despite my crap play I still managed to luck out and get a win!


Friday, 24 August 2012

Alpha Protocol First Hour Impressions

So back in 2010, Alpha Protocol was released and at the time I ignored it after hearing some pretty lack luster reviews and just generally having no personal interest in the game.  Then about a year ago I managed to pick it up on steam for some stupidly low price and now finally I'm getting round to actually playing it

So far, it's not an awful game, it's playable at the very least but oh lord are there some problems with it.  First of all, the plot is just dull, not so much because it's cliche but because all the characters involved are just boring and I end up forgetting their names straight after any given cut scene.  I'm trying to pay attention but I've seen this kind of plot so many fucking times that I probably don't even need to pay attention in order to figure what goes on.  But I only played for an hour so it could get better at least.

Who are you again?
The biggest problem with this game is it just has technical bugs crawling out the arse and no it's not just a case of my computer being bad.  I get that 3rd person games nowadays like to have over the shoulder cameras but this goes WAY overboard, where the camera is just constantly riding up the main characters back and it sometimes makes seeing anything quite difficult.
This guy was just running into that wall, probably hoping if he couldn't see me I couldn't see him either...

Speaking of the main character, I don't really like the skill points system in this game for some reason
I took this picture pretty near the start, so I've got a few more points since then, but no matter how much I load down on assault rifle skills, the guy is still a shit shot with it.  It's not me not being able to aim either, if you move or fire the reticule goes WAYYYYY off target, so I'm having to fire only 1 or 2 shots at a time to actually hit anything, and if I was going to shoot a gun like that, I'd just get a pistol for fucks sake.  That said, if I don't aim the gun, hitting shit seems to be a bit easier, so why in the hell does carefully trying to aim my gun make things HARDER TO FUCKING HIT!  Although there is a possibility that this will change over time too.

The last thing I have to touch upon in this first impressions post is the hacking mini-game.  I fucking hate this mini game, why does it have to be so fucking stupid?!

Basically you have to line up the 2 codes at the top with the codes in the big grid.  Everything that isn't the code changes constantly so you basically have to search for the line that isn't moving.  It's not hard, at all, but it's really fucking annoying and moving the right hand code piece with the mouse is a pain in the ass and I've sometimes failed hacks because it doesn't control properly.  But on the other side of the spectrum, you get the most insultingly easy lock pick mini game I've ever seen, so maybe this bullshit is the make up for that.

Despite all the complaints, I'm not sick of it just yet and I'm willing to at least try to get to the end.  What I will say though is that if it costs more than 5 bucks to pick this up, it ain't worth it.

Free Game Friday: rRootage

Do you like shmups?! Fuck yeah you do! So lets get on the Japanese indie scene for some free awesome stuff.

rRootage is a very simple top down shooter with some awesome music and some extremely difficult bullet patterns.  It has 4 modes which are Normal, Psy, Ika and GW modes, but I've not played this game in such a long time that I've forgotten how the game play changes with each mode.  There are no "levels" in this game, it's effectively one big boss rush kind of similar to another game I covered a while back, Warning Forever.

So the first thing that you see when you fire up the game is this

The top four boxes are the modes, then ever other box is a stage in which you have to kill the boss a few times before you win.  Each stage is gets harder and harder as you progress and each time you kill the boss within the stage, his attacks get more intense.

The game can be a real challenge and it's the kind of game that you can pick up, have a quick crack at and then put down again, it's a lot of fun

For anyone interested in downloading, the link is

So go shoot some shit

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Let us have a moment of silence

I imagine that there are people who stumble across this blog who may be too young to recognise that logo at the top of the post.  To clarify for those people, that's the old symbol for what is better known today as SCE Studio Liverpool!

Well, the news about these guys is that Sony has shut them down, Psygnosis is officially no more, and that's a damn shame.  If you're not familiar with what they have produced, they gave us amazing games such as Wipeout, Lemmings, Puggsy, Alundra as well as many, MANY more. 

There isn't really much else to say really, but a hero has fallen and we need to acknowledge that.

So whatever the future holds for the team at SCE Liverpool, good luck!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive First Impressions

Before I start talking about this game lets have a BIG FUCKING DISCLAIMER!  I was never really all that good at Counter-Strike: Source and even less skilled at 1.6, so if your looking for someone to give you the ins and outs of this game from a competitive standpoint, I'm not your man!  Also, there are going to be pretty much no pictures in this post because I was having so much fun I forgot to take some, and I'm too lazy to load it back up.

Anyway, with that out of the way, I can finally start talking about CS:GO.  If you're not sure what it is, then you're either too young or you have been living under the rock your whole life.  CS:GO is the newest game in the long standing Counter-Strike series of games, basically the big grand daddy of team based online shooting.

It's actually refreshing to play a realistic style shooting game where my decisions actually fucking matter for once.  Health doesn't regenerate, at all, so if you go and make a stupid move in a fire fight, you're going to be punished for it, HARD.  Also you're limited to what you can take into each round by how much money you have, so in the early rounds or when you are losing, you really have to make careful, planned, intelligent decisions for what guns and gear you are going to buy.  So take all your Call of Duty pre-set load outs and regenerating health and fuck off, this is a real mans game.  I don't hate Call of Duty but the difference in skill required to play this, and to play CoD is astounding, so you best be willing to put in some practice hours in order to get good here.

Before CS:GO came out, I found that I was actually rather bored of CS: Source, I just didn't have the urge to find a mix or play in a public or anything like that, but when I fired up Global Offensive, holy shit was I pumped.  The menus are so sleek looking, the reticule is cool as fuck and best of all, the sound design is top notch.  Seriously, I have never heard guns sound this good in games before, it was giving me a fucking rush just hearing the effects.

The best feature I thought after playing it for about an hour was the match making.  You can very quickly find a casual or competitive game, and on top of that you can even play the much loved Gun Game mode through the matchmaking.  It just speeds everything up and makes the whole thing more accessible to those who don't want to trawl through server lists.  But I'm from a generation where server lists were the only thing around, and Valve made the correct decision not to remove the feature.  Custom games, custom maps and everything else are all still available through the games server list feature, so this game really does feel like a complete package.

Basically, the game is fucking awesome and you should play it.   Sure, there might be debates around the competitive nature of this game that I'm not aware of, but if you're looking for a fresh change of pace from all the Call of Duty and Battlefield type games, then this is for you.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lone Survivor Post Game Thoughts

Well I was hoping that I would be able to give some thoughts on Counter Strike: Global Offensive today, but it isn't coming out for another 5 hours so since I beat Lone Survivor today I'll talk about that instead.

I'm not going to give any spoilers so don't worry if you're in the middle of playing it, or thinking about buying it, the story shall remain intact for you.

Anyway, first lets talk about some of the good things.  This game is definitely a step in the right direction for survival horror.  From start to finish, the art style and sound design are extremely atmospheric and the game does a good job of keeping you on edge.  The need to eat and sleep, I thought, were really good features and it's nice to see a game in this genre class "survival" as more than having enough ammo and healing at any one time.  The most important thing though, is that I was actually scared by this game.  At one point I tried to play alone, in the dark, with some headphones on, and wimped out of that pretty quickly.  Sure, maybe you'll call me a pussy but there's something about this game that just...bothers me, something seems extremely off about the whole plot that shakes me right down to my core.  But you know what, that's the sign of a good fucking horror game, and I've not felt anything like that for a LOOONG time.

But this game isn't all glowing praise and loveliness, there are some things I didn't like about it.  The fact that there are only 2 real enemy types in this game really annoys me quite a bit.  I'm aware that the game was largely developed by one guy, but surely your mind can produce more than just a thin skin monster and a fat skin monster, right?  Yes, I am aware there are 2 bosses but even if you include them that's still only 4 enemies you ever fight, it's a bit weak.  It's not a massive problem but by the end of the game, the enemies lose their impact because you've already figured them out completely and they are no longer a threat.

The big complaint I have though is how the game trivialises it's own survival system.  I've already talked about how you need food to keep yourself going, so you know how that works, but what I didn't mention is the fact you can get differently coloured pills.  Each pill has a different effect but what it really boils down to is one giving you free ammo and one giving you free food.  I literally spent the last segment of the game offing a few enemies, blue pilling and sleeping, getting another 21 bullets and then went out killing again.  Once I figured this out, I didn't feel intimidated or scared anymore, I just felt like a murder machine.  Also if you run out of food, it's no problem because the green pill will give you some free food to carry on your journey.  Part of the tension came from having to ration your supplies but once you get hold of these pills that goes out the window.

Also, I'm aware that not using the pills or killing enemies gives you a different ending, but on the first play through I don't give a crap what ending I get, I'm just playing the game as is, and it's that first play through that will have the most impact.  Sure, doing the pacifist route may be a bit more challenging, but I've already beat the game now, it's not going to be as scary a second time.

That said, I still enjoyed this game a lot, it was an absolute blast and I would recommend it to any fans of the horror genre.  We've not had a good horror game in a long long time, but now we have something to keep us sweating until the big developers sort their fucking lives out.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Retro Shopping in Japan

Sometimes we all fall victim to nostalgia, a fleeting memory of a game played long long ago swiftly followed by the urge to play said game.  If you've been gaming for a long time chances are this happens to you quite often, old childhood memories of that old Nintendo game that you used to love so much make you want to play it so bad.

But, shit happens, you sell stuff or someone else sells it thinking its junk, something that makes you lose access to your old gaming collection.  Hell, if you've been following the blog, you'll know that a good portion of my collection has been stolen while in transit (at least it was all from this and last generation)

Sure, there are plenty of options for people into their retro stuff now, things like the virtual console, XBLA and PSN make getting hold of old favourites quite easy and it's made even easier if you're the kind of person into emulation.  But it's just not the same, there is a clear sense of happiness I get when I dig out an old console, hook that shit up and play it the way it was originally intended.  There is nothing wrong with doing things through the above methods, it's the same game after all, but there is something extremely pleasant about sitting in front of a TV with an ACTUAL SNES controller in your hands or whatever, it helps increase that nostalgic feeling.

Now I don't know about America but I've heard its a similar situation, where there are basically 0 stores that are willing to sell, or even take games older than the PS2.  In fact, I think just before I left for Japan, GAME in the UK stopped taking PS2 games altogether.  It's complete arse, the vast majority of my early game collection was sold off under the assumption that I wouldn't ever want to play old stuff again, but that was wrong.

However, Japan seems is the complete fucking opposite to this

This is a picture of a store near my apartment, they have pretty much every system ever, old and new for sale, old systems and games stacked to the goddamn roof, it's absolutely glorious.  You could spend hours in there and just constantly be discovering stuff you remember fondly as well as stuff you've never even seen or heard of.  Also, putting together a decent retro collection out of these stores won't exactly break the bank.  The people who run these places know how much shit is worth and they price pretty fairly.  But it's not just the small joints that provide old school gaming goodness.

"Book Off" is a huge chain around Japan but even a store like this will stock anything from famicom to PS3 although the selection isn't quite as good.

To cut a long, gushy story short, if you're into your old school stuff, Japan is the place to be.  Easy to get hold of and affordable and digging through these places is a ton of fun too.  So if you want that SNES collection you lost or never had, book a ticket and get your ass over here.

To end this post, here are some sneaky pictures I took in the first store.  I wasn't too sure if the owner would let me take pictures so I got some badly shot sneak shots, I really wanted to show just how much stuff this place had.

Mostly NES

Consoles, arcade sticks and assorted peripherals stacked to the roof.  Found a MSX joystick in the box on the bottom right!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sometimes people make me sad

So over the last few days, I've been watching the Intel Extreme Masters tournament for Starcraft 2, a highly entertaining tournament with some good casters and a very familiar host.

I've been watching the stream of this tournament through a certain casters website, and while observing the tournament there is a chat box to the right of the stream window.  This chat box really makes me lose faith in humanity sometimes and I'm so happy there is a full screen function in order to turn it off.

Maybe it's just me, but I thought that people watching games of Starcraft 2 would like to discuss Starcraft 2, but all people seem to want to do is just argue about stupid shit all day.  The one that annoys me a little bit is the whole Starcraft 2 being better than League of Legends thing.  First, this argument is fucking stupid because the 2 games aren't even in the same genre and secondly I don't want to hear about League when I'm trying to enjoy some high level goddamn Starcraft!

I'm not going to get into this debate in any detail, but it's fucking obvious that Starcraft has more depth and requires more skill than League, harping on about it just makes you look like an ass.

But the absolute worst thing I'm seeing in this chat, is the whole USA being better than the EU thing.  Why is this even a fucking issue?  It's not like the players care, it's not like the casters care and it's not like anyone actually at the tournament gives a fuck where your from.  Even worse than that it's not even a case of "America! Fuck yeah!", the whole thing is swapped with stupid comments about how the EU is bankrupt and America is the greatest country in the world yadda yadda yadda.

I don't want to hear this garbage, I'm sure there are plenty of places where you can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in certain countries, but a fucking Starcraft 2 tournament chat is NOT the place to fucking do it.  Discuss the game, have some fun, but don't bring your patriotic bullshit into the fucking conversation.

Time and place people!

EDIT: As soon as the chat got filtered to subscribers only, it was filled with good healthy discussion of the tournament and the game itself!  Guess it aint all bad

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Now That's Some Bullshit #5: Survival Horror

Well this blog has been filled with way too much happiness and sunshine recently, so it's time to talk about some bullshit.  Today I'm going to discuss the whole survival horror genre.

So a long long time ago, on systems long since forgotten, there was a game called Alone in the Dark.  This game is basically the great granddaddy of the genre.  At the time it wasn't called a "survival horror" game, but it's the title that basically set the standard for everything to come after.  So from the impact made by this game, we were given similar games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame just to name some of the most well known ones.

So, just what is a survival horror game exactly? I think this is something that needs to be cleared up

As far as setting is concerned, you're usually playing as some kind of normal man or woman, thrust into a life threatening situation that involves horrible looking beasties coming to get you.  But it isn't the beasties that make these games scary, it's the implications behind your characters situation.  A good survival horror game will make you feel as helpless and alone as the characters and that is part of the reason why Silent Hill 2 in particular is so famous.  In terms of mechanics, you are usually given a very finite supply of items in order to get to by and every situation and encounter has to be carefully planned so that you don't waste them.  You'll usually find that running away is the best option, not only because the enemies are scary, but because you as a player are terrified of being in a situation with very little to actually survive on.

But then something went wrong.

Now before anyone starts foaming at the mouth, I fucking love Resident Evil 4, it's an absolute blast, but it is NOT a survival horror game by any stretch.  What I hate is what this game caused, all the best horror franchises started to become over the shoulder third person action games.  All the atmosphere and horror of previous great titles had been thrown out the window for more cinematic action games with grotesque creatures.

It was with Dead Space that the bullshit really started to flow.  The game wasn't bad, but it wasn't scary AT ALL and it was really trying it's hardest to provide a scary game.  Sure, it had jump scares but gone was all the dread, all the mystery and all the decent characterisation.  But the genre wasn't dead here, it just took a shot to the leg.  The game that really executed this genre with a horrible bloody thump was Silent Hill: Homecoming

THIS game was the gigantic piece of shit to kill the genre good and proper, and it's not been able to recover since.  There was a standard that was expected of the Silent Hill series, and the group of knobs that worked on this game really dropped the ball.  They failed to understand anything about the horror genre in general, let alone survival horror games or even Silent Hill.

But you know what's the worst thing? Since then I have played 1 game that I can say was actually unsettling in some way, and that's just fucking sad and on top of that it's an indie game developed by 1 guy as far as I know.

The games industry really needs to go back and study these old great horror games if they ever want to make something that can be properly called a Survival Horror game again.  Until then, this entire genre is just a load of bullshit. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Grand Japan Road Trip: Final Part

OK, so I know we've missed to free game Fridays in a row now, but this is the final part of this story, so I'll try and get something special for you next week.

Anyway, after finishing up our business in Kyoto, we headed to our penultimate destination, Ise Jingu, also known as Ise Grand Shrine according to Wikipedia

So what Ise Jingu is in simple terms, is a huge ass temple thing.  It's an extremely pleasant place to be and there is quite a lot to see as you walk around the temple grounds.  For those who enjoy their Japanese video games, the shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu so you should get a kick out of the shrines religious lore if you're into shit like Okami.

There isn't really a lot to say about Ise Jingu, it's something you really just have to see and experience for yourself, so if you want to know everything about this place you might want to book a plane ticket, although there are a few things I can talk about.  At the entrance to the shrine, there is this bridge over a very pristine looking lake. 

After you cross it you get to walk around the temple grounds, covered in greenery and general pleasantry.  Even if you don't give a fuck about shrines, you'd still get a kick out of this place if your into scenic walks.

So the first stop we made after getting into the grounds was this place

I'm not too sure the religious significance of this thing, I think it has something to do with purifying yourself, but I won't pretend like I'm clued up on the whole thing.  What you did was pick up a water scoop thing and pour the water from the big stone basin over your hands.  I may be ignorant to it's purpose, but what I can say is that it was the most refreshing feeling I've ever had.  It was so much purer and cleaner than just regular water and you could feel it, I wanted to dunk my face in it but that would have been disrespectful.

The stop after that was another coin box up a staircase

If you remember what I said in the last part about the 5 yen and the little prayer, it was more of the same thing.

The final stop as part of the whole shrine thing that we made was a little thing of stones not too far from the exit.

I was told that these things are power stones, and that standing near them is supposed to give you energy or something.  Nearby there were a few people holding out their hands towards the stones, so I thought I would try it myself.  I'm not usually one for this kind of thing, and maybe it was some kind of placebo effect, but I swear I felt something on the palms of my hands, weird stuff indeed.

Anyway, the last thing we did in Ise was hit up another old timey road and eat something called Akafuku

It's this sweet thing made of Mochi and Anko.  Mochi is extremely chewy and Anko is very sweet, and while I didn't think I'd enjoy eating something like that, it was actually pretty tasty.

So after walking around there for a bit, we hopped in the car again and headed to the beach.  There isn't really much to say, it was a classic trip to the beach with swimming and getting burnt to death and not being able to see anything due to salt water in the eyes, but it was really fun.

After that, we headed back to Nagoya and I got dropped off at my apartment, where I then immediately made a blog post!  So that concludes this story of my road trip round Japan!  I hope you've had fun with it, and starting from tomorrow its back to the gaming.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Grand Japan Road Trip: Part 3

Well, after finishing our Kobe home tours, we hopped in the car again and made our way to Kyoto.  Kyoto is a place that I always wanted to visit, so when I discovered that we were heading there I got quite excited.

After reaching Kyoto, our first stop was this huge temple thing.

This thing was absolutely huge, I have never seen a temple this big.  Unfortunately I'm not sure of the name of this place, but it was extremely nice to look at.  So we went inside where they had this huge hall lined with tatami mats.  We then approached a box, threw 5 yen into it and said a little prayer.  Now I'm not particularly religious or anything like that, but there was something rather pleasant about taking part in this little tradition.  Unfortunately, there was a big sign at the entrance that said you weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but this inside of this thing was somethin' else.

So after our little prayer session, we crossed the courtyard of the temple and went back to the car.  The courtyard itself was actually pretty big and considering that the temperature was about 35 degrees again, it felt like crossing the fucking desert.  We then made our way to the next Kyoto destination which I have forgotten the name of, but it was really fuckin' nice so shut up.

This was the start of a big long road that looked like something from old timey Japan.  There wasn't really anything particularly special about the street itself, but it was covered in shops and food places.  The thing that Kyoto is famous for as far as I'm aware is green tea, so we got to stop at a little ice cream stand and got some green tea ice cream.  If you think that sounds weird then shut up because it's actually fucking delicious.  To follow that up, I found this fried meat stand thing that was charging about 650 yen for a piece of steak on a stick.  It was a hugely expensive price for that kind of thing so I just had to try it, and what I got was one of the best bits of meat  I've ever eaten in my life.  If you find yourself in Kyoto, try and find the steak on a stick.

You would also see these dudes running around town with these cart things.  They would pick people up and taxi them around town.  It looked like really hard work and I would not want to carry 2 fully grown adults while I sweat my soul out in the Japan heat, these guys must be pretty fuckin' tough.

Anyway after doing a bit of shopping and eating, we ended up going to one of the most well known Kyoto locations, Kinkakuji, more commonly known as The Golden Pavilion

This thing is some kind of temple in the middle of a lake and it's covered in gold.  You can't go inside it but it has a really nice garden area around the outside.  I was actually very lucky to get a good picture of the thing at all since it was so goddamn busy.  There isn't really much more to say about this place than that, it's the kind of thing you really have to go visit for yourself, but if you want the history there is a wikipedia article avalaible.

So at this point you may be thinking, "well if you were staying in the car during your trip, how did you shower?"  Well good fuckin' question!  The answer is simple, we went to an Onsen

 The above picture looks NOTHING like the onsen that I went to, but I couldn't exactly take my camera into a place full of water and naked people, so deal with the picture I got off google.

Anyway, I was actually quite nervous going into this place, I'm not exactly the most attractive person in the world and getting naked in front of a load of people was quite worrying to me.  What I realised is that I was being extremely stupid, as no one gives a fuck, people are more concentrated on relaxing in this place. 

So for anyone who doesn't know how this shit works, it's very simple.  You get naked, go take a shower, and then relax in some piping hot baths.  It's fucking awesome and the place we were in had lots of different types of baths that did various things, the most enjoyable one I found was the electric bath.  This thing would shock you as you sat in it, it's sort of uncomfortable but your body feels so good after sitting in it for a while, it's fantastic.

Anyway, the trip to the Onsen concluded our time in Kyoto, we drove out to a service station, ate and slept.  Tomorrows post will be the final part of this story, and then the video games will return!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Making Progress

Well I checked the donation page when I woke up today to realise, we have hit £100!  Sure, it's only 10% of my target and it doesn't sound like a lot in the long run, but considering I'm just a two-bit blog and I don't really have a huge readership, I think £100 is pretty good!

Of course though, it's not me who's been donating anything, so I'd like to thank everyone who has donated so far, I can't thank you enough.

We still have a long way to go though, so if you are enjoying the content on this blog, please throw a little money to the Alzheimer's society.  It doesn't matter how big or small, let's just try to eradicate this horrible disease

The Grand Japan Road Trip: Part 2

Well part 1 may have been a bit boring because it wasn't really anything more than a long story about a car journey, but now we have arrived at the point where I can start talking about some actual places, so here we go!

So if you remember I was talking about falling asleep for the evening inside the car, well by the time I had risen from my slumber we had already made it to our first destination, Kobe.

The first thing I saw upon waking up
The weather, pretty much like every other day since I arrived, was super hot.  Despite that walking around the streets was extremely pleasant. 
It's not exactly easy to tell from the pictures of the streets I'm uploading now, but it reminded me of what a small Italian city would look like.  The one thing I will say though, is that Kobe has hills fucking everywhere.  As nice as it is to walk through, on a boiling hot summer day where the weather is like 35+ degrees, the hills really are the worst shit ever. 

For those that can be arsed to traverse the steep hills of the bit of Kobe we were in, you get to see something pretty cool.

The top picture is known as Weathercock House and was home to a German trader.  The bottom picture is Moegi House, the home of an American consul general.  They were both built roughly around 1905 (the exact dates escapes me) and they really stand out from every other building in the area.  For a small fee, you are allowed to walk around each of the houses and look at all the old furniture and stuff like that, as well as a lot of historical information if you are into that kind of thing.  Unfortunately for me, we were on a pretty tight schedule and all the information tablets were in Japanese, so I didn't really have time to sit down and get the full story, but it was still a lot of fun to walk around.  I'll add a gallery for this at the bottom of this post.

Anyway, the other cool thing about this little area of Kobe is that when your done, they have this little thing just outside Weathercock House where one can quench thirst with some delicious natural spring water.

Considering the extreme heat and the lack of vending machines in the area, this thing was a fucking godsend.  I think without this my body would have shriveled up and turned to sand.  Anyway, once we finished gawping at some old houses and made sure we didn't die of dehydration, we returned to the car and made for our next destination....which will come in Part 3