Saturday, 30 April 2016

Arcade Quickies: Museca, Lost Ones Weeping

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tau Plays Discworld Part 16

Wow finally, a new Discworld part.  It feels like it's been about a million years since I last uploaded anything.

Along with this part I'm announcing a new YouTube schedule!  I'll be aiming to upload a new video to the channel every Wednesday and Saturday so keep an eye out and subscribe or whatever.  Hopefully I can blast the last few sections of this game and move on to a new playthrough soon

Monday, 25 April 2016

You Should Learn Japanese

Do you like Japanese games?  Sure you do but thanks to the wonders of localization teams bringing things over to the west I bet you haven't had much inclination to learn the language of the country they came from, right?  Well that's understandable, learning a new language is hard as balls and you don't really need to bother because most things get western releases anyway.  That said, it may be worth picking up a text book or taking a course because it does come with its advantages.

For me, I chose to study Japanese at university but I was always better at speaking it rather than reading it.  My kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japanese text) is for complete shit so that makes reading things in games kind of difficult at times.  It's only in the last few months that I've bothered to try and improve this and as a result it's been a little easier to play certain titles.  For example, I'm not at a point where I could play games like Mind=Zero or Persona 4: Dancing all Night with not much trouble but certain games like Bloodborne are still tripping me up pretty hard.

This is basically the games objective but I had no idea for ages because I just dismissed this horrible wall of kanji
However we're now at a point where we are hearing a lot more about games being changed from their original text or games having features removed from their original Japanese versions.  Fire Emblem Fates is the big one that comes to mind, which had huge chunks of dialogue changed because of a misunderstanding regarding the interactions of two characters which sparked the dumbest controversy I've ever seen.  Bravely Second has apparently had a bunch of content just flat out removed, mainly the "bad" outcomes from the side quests.  Other more minor things include a breast slider in Xenoblade X and some kind of petting mini game in Fire Emblem or something.  The point is that if you, like me, don't like these kind of changes being made by people who didn't develop the fucking game, then learning Japanese is a good way of giving them the finger because you don't need to play their butchered crap, you can just play the original.

Another good reason to get your head round the language is that while a lot of games do get brought over to the west, there are a pretty good number of good ones that don't.  I'm sure any fan of Japanese games has had that moment where they see something that looks really cool but then get sad because they hear it's not being translated.  Well you won't have to worry about that shit anymore and with things like PS4 having no region locks you're free to play whatever the fuck you want.

Aside from all the gaming stuff, learning another language is just kind of useful in its own right.  Sure, you could argue that there are more "useful" languages to learn but we're not trying to build a career here, we're trying to play some damn games.  Hell, Japanese isn't exactly a dead-end language, learning it for the sake of gaming may be that first step into some kind of successful career, who the fuck knows?!

Either way, if you like video games, especially Japanese ones, getting your head around some Kanji and Grammar seems like a good idea.  Whatever happens after that is just a bonus.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Item Hoarding: The Dumbest Habit

There's a lot of weird habits that you gain when you play video games for long enough.  Both in and out of game, an enthusiast may have some kind of habit that some may find to be a little OCD or a bit strange.  Like my biggest weird thing is keeping a spreadsheet of all the games I've beaten since 2011 and how many times I've beaten them.  I dunno why I do that shit but I find it sort of enjoyable to see that list get bigger and bigger over time.

Anyway, one habit that almost all gamers have is item hoarding and when you take a minute to think it's a really weird habit to have.  What I mean by this is you'll be playing a game and you'll be getting things like ammo or supplies but you'll be doing everything in your power to NOT use them.  The game is giving you these things for the express purpose of using them to give you a better chance against whatever enemies there are but someone who suffers from video game item hoarding syndrome will stubbornly not use it at all, even up to and after the final battle.

Resident Evil 4 is a good example of this.  I might buy a Shotgun or find a bunch of ammo or grenades and shit and how do I try to kill all the enemies?  1 bullet to the head, round house kick followed by knife slashes until they stop moving, rinse and repeat as often as possible.  It's not even like ammo is hard to come by in RE4, it's more like I'm hard wired to use as little resources as possible. 

This habit isn't just exclusive to one genre either, I find myself doing it in almost every game imaginable.  In FPS games, especially classic ones, I'll be using the shitty pistol or melee combat as much as possible so I don't have to use my big guns with the scarce ammo.  RPGs?  All those full healing items will sit in my inventory for the entire game and never see any use even during the final battle.  Survival Horror? Better run away from everything because those bullets and healing ain't going anywhere. 

These things are designed to help me through the game, designed to make my life easier but I stubbornly decide not to.  It's led to many a moment where I'll waste a great amount of time on a boss or section of a game just because I'm so worried about whats after that I'm trying to save my good shit until I really REALLY need it.  It's a dumb habit that I'm sure that I'll never shake for as long as I game.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Duke Nukem Forever

So I just got around to beating Duke Nukem Forever at the weekend.  Like everyone has known since the day this thing came out, it's a complete piece of shit.  It's one of those games that lives in infamy because of how long it took for it to came out.  It started development in 1997 but wasn't released until 2011.  I mean how many other games can you think of that took that long to develop?  There aren't many.  Unfortunately we weren't rewarded for our patience and Forever ended up being a stinking mess.

The game follows the titular Duke Nukem, a fucking asshole who's hobbies include sexing up women and shooting aliens in the face.  After saving the world in Duke Nukem 3D he becomes super famous and is living it up until the aliens come back down again and start making life hard again.  From there, it's just shooting things in the face and you do nothing but this until the very end of the game where you piss in somethings face and finally watch credits.

The thing that pissed people off though wasn't the terrible plot because Duke Nukem was never about plot.  The game play is so far removed from everything that made Duke 3D great that it's almost offensive.  Gone is that crazy good, labyrinthine level design from the good old build engine days.  Instead what we got was a shitty, linear 2 weapon shooter with regenerating health and crappy set piece battles every so often.  It wasn't Duke Nukem any more, it was just a Generic Console FPS #3671 featuring Duke Nukem.

I know for a fact that the games overall shittiness was down to its huge development time, engines changing every other day of the week and money issues but part of me wants to believe that maybe the dev team were a little smarter than that.  I desperately want to believe that they saw what a steaming pile of shit the FPS genre has become over the years and made DNF as a sort of parody and middle finger to the people who enjoy these kind of games.  Hell, there are multiple points in the game where you find little references to things like Halo, Dead Space and Gears of War where Duke or a supporting character will comment about how these characters are complete pussies.

However in reality that's absolutely not the case and the game just sucks because life isn't fair.  I wasted my time, if you haven't played it then don't bother and go play Duke 3D.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Thoughts on VR

So last weekend as I was going through the Steam listings like I do every damn day, I found a whole bunch of new VR releases.  So I guess that means that VR is starting to hit some kind of stride now.  Of course I don't own one of these things yet, although I have tried the Occulus a few times so I thought I'd just take a little bit of time to talk about VR as a concept.

On paper VR sounds really fucking cool.  The idea of being completely immersed in a game experience, actually getting that feeling of being IN the game, sounds amazing.  This isn't a new idea but the last time someone tried it the technology just wasn't anywhere near where it needed to be and it ended up sucking really hard.

Although that was 1995 and now we're in 2015 so shit is way better than that red and black sack of shit.  I've not actually played a game in VR yet, which is a shame.  My current experience consists entirely of being on impossible roller coasters and it was an impressive experience to say the least.  I'm terrified of real roller coasters and these demos did give me similar sensations although I wasn't screaming like a little bitch because I was still very much aware I was just sat in a chair in a shop front.

That said, there's a potential here for things to be really great once developers get their head round everything.  Obvious applications involve things like FPS games where the motion sensors can give you real freedom to move around and shoot things.  What I'm holding out for though is a real good horror game and I'm not just talking shitty "BOO! VR JUMPSCARE!" stuff, I mean real immersive, Silent Hill 2 level shit.  Other interesting ideas could be things like first person dungeon crawls or games that involve piloting a mech or something.  I'd love to play a game where you take the headset off and maintain/improve your robot just using a regular mouse/keyboard/screen setup but when you have to go on a mission or whatever you slam that headset on and pilot it using those weird motion controller things.  It would actually feel like your suiting up and getting in your bot, it would be pretty sick.

There are two big problems though I have with VR as a concept right now.  Not a single game that I've seen actually seems to have any substance to it.  It's all just fucking gimmicky bullshit and even if I had the headset I don't know if I could bring myself to buy any of the available titles.  That said, I'm sure this is a problem that's being caused by the age of the damn thing, once developers get used to developing for it I'm sure there will be some really cool games. 

The other thing that turns me off though is the goddamn price point.  One thing I noticed on Steam is that most of the games seemed to be compatible with the HTC Vive which is pictured at the top of this post.  So of course I look the thing up thinking that maybe I'll buy one and...

holy shit, $1000?!  When everything right now seems to be trumped up tech demos $1000 is a lot to ask for.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who have been waiting for for VR for a long time so the price point wasn't too big a deal but for normal folks like me, holy cow.

Still, as time goes on the games will get better and the tech will probably get cheaper.  I for one and looking forward to seeing where this all goes.  Nothing well ever beat just relaxing in a nice chair and chilling with a video game but the world of VR is absolutely worth keeping an eye on.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

You Thought DOOM Would Be Good?

I'm so glad this happened because I knew it would.  A new Doom game being developed in the modern day and you didn't expected it to be anything more than another shitty generic FPS where you go around shooting demons instead of people from the Middle East? Please

The story is that the upcoming DOOM game released an open beta on Steam and so far user reviews of the beta have been pretty negative.  People are claiming it's basically not Doom and plays something more like Halo but with a vaguely Doomish coat of paint.  The kind of people who enjoy shooters like Doom, Quake and Unreal Tournament are of course upset that one of their most treasured franchises is being turned into another generic, console-esque arena shooter with experience points and character customization because that's never what this shit was about.

But hold on, you might say, it's just a beta and it's only the multiplayer component.  Even if that sucks surely the single player will be good right?!  If that's actually how you feel then I feel nothing but pity for you.  The only people who might think that new Doom might turn out decent now are either idiots or people who haven't been gaming long enough to have everything they love ruined.

I can promise you that the single player mode will be no different.  It will be linear, story driven and might even have some really stupid bullshit like levelling up or something.  The open beta of the Doom multiplayer is revealing exactly what the current development team think Doom is and clearly they are wrong.  The fact that there's already a season pass available for this title proves as well that they don't give a shit about Doom or it's legacy, they are beating an old horse to make a quick buck based on false hype and nostalgia. 

Let's face it, what we are really looking at here is the next Duke Nukem Forever but more serious and with less time and probably less effort going into the development.  Do NOT buy this game when it gets released and show these fucking idiots that preying on our nostalgia and abusing the legacy of one gaming's most classic titles will not fucking fly.

Absolutely disgusting

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

PS+: Best 5000 Yen Ever

Back in December my wife gifted me a PS4 for my birthday and since then I've been a member of Playstation plus.  Aside from Tekken 6, I never played my PS3 online too much and Xbox Gold pissed me off by being a pay to play service for online games but I decided to jump back into these kind of online services for consoles and see whats up and now I'm pleasantly surprised.

The draw of the PS3 over the 360 back when those consoles were all the rage was that you didn't need to pay for the PS3s online service to play your games online.  Xbox on the other hand required that you had Xbox Live Gold which where you would pay monthly to get shouted at down a microphone by 12 year old children who think they are really cool playing Call of Duty and Gears of War. You'd still have the 12 year olds on PSN but at least you didn't have to pay for that shitty experience.

Of course, times have changed and now, as far as I understand, you are required to be paying for PS+ in order to play your games online.  It's not that expensive, I dropped just over 5000 yen for a year long subscription which is equivalent to about £30.  Now I don't really have any games that are required to be played online but I'm still really happy with my decision because PS+ just goes and throws 2 free games at you every month.

Now I caught wind of the free games that were available on the UK PS+ service and I get the feeling that if I was living in England this post would have a very different tone.  This month the UK PS+ users got Zombi and some space thing I've never heard of while I got Earth Wars, a cool side scrolling hack and slash with slightly dodgy character animation and Skulls of The Shogun, a cool little indie TBS that's both challenging and charming.

Generally speaking, the free games spat out by PS+ have been pretty good.  Most notably I've had Metal Slug 3, Steins Gate and Toukiden Kiwami just thrown at me for no money.  The total value of all the games I've downloaded easily exceeds 20,000 yen  and it's only April.  By the time I have to renew my shit PS+ would have paid for itself purely in free shit. 

Paying to play online feels like bullshit when I can do it for no real extra cost on my PC but at least with Playstation I'm being showered with free shit.  Granted they put some crap games on there too but generally speaking I'm happier with the PS+ service than any other online gaming service that I've paid for in the past.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Every so often a certain game comes along that makes me super happy that I bought a Vita and this is one of those games.  Persona 4 as you may already know is a spin off Shin Megami Tensei game that originally came out for PS2 and was later ported to the Vita under the title Persona 4 Golden.  While Persona 4 was an RPG with monster breeding elements, Dancing All Night is, as you can probably tell from the title, a rhythm game.

Unlike most rhythm games though, Persona 4 isn't just the soundtrack remixed and packaged as a rhythm game, it has a story mode.  The story follows all the characters from the original persona and one additional new character as they prepare for some kind of music festival that they will be performing at.  However shit swiftly hits the fan as a number of members of the lead idol group get kidnapped into the Midnight Stage and it's up to MC (now given a name, Yu Narukami) and his buddies to dance their way out of the problem.

Shadows in the midnight stage can't be beaten with weapons and magic spells so instead you have to put on a dance show in order to show them that maybe life isn't as shitty as they think it is.  This is where the rhythm game segment comes and as far as these kind of games go it's pretty standard.  You have a 6 button layout and you hit the notes in time with the music.  Hit the notes good and you clear the stage, miss too much and you fail.  The real selling point here is the fact that the game features a pretty hefty number of tracks from the Persona 4 soundtrack with a whole ton of cool remixes.  So if you really like the P4 OST (and it's a really good soundtrack) then this game is an absolute must for you.

Aside from the story mode there is also a free dance mode which just lets you play whatever song you like provided you unlocked it.  There's also a shop where you can buy outfits and items that will make clearing songs easier or harder via note modifiers.  There's also a collection thing where you get to see in game models and artwork but I've not looked much at that. 

I have one major gripe about the game however.  The first is that it's too fucking easy, even on hard mode.  I'm no crazy IIDX Another playing lunatic but I've got quite a lot of experience with rhythm games and on hard this isn't posing much of a challenge.  The life gauge is a bit quick to drain so occasionally I'll fail due to missing a couple of notes near the end of a song on the first try but it'll never take more than 2 tries to get an initial clear.  There IS an extra mode past hard call "All Night" mode but to unlock that you have to buy EVERYTHING in the games shop which takes a fair amount of time.  If you're looking for an entry point into the rhythm game genre then this is a good place to start but veterans may be left a little disappointed.

Still though, the music is cool and I'm getting my rocks off watching my favorite P4 characters do bad ass dance routines so it's not much of a deal breaker. If you're a fan of P4 then absolutely buy this game. If you like rhythm games but don't care too much for P4 then approach it with a bit more caution because you could do much better than this in terms of just core rhythm game play.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Baldurs Gate Controversy

Oh boy!  Can't go a fucking week nowadays without a given release kicking off some kind of huge controversy.  This time, a new expansion for Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition called Siege of Dragonspear has managed to piss a number of people off and of course games media are trying to spin it as some kind of indication of how horrible gamers are.

So here's the story that first drew my attention to it.  The new expansion gets released and all other complaints aside for the time being the thing that is apparently getting people all mad is the inclusion of an NPC who talks openly about being transexual or something.  She says something along the lines of how she thought she was a boy but decided to be a girl and gave herself a name from a single letter of every language or some shit like that.  Looking a bit deeper into it shes a nothing NPC who sells you shit or something so of course when I hear about THIS being the reason people are upset, I start raising eyebrows.

Just for the record, I have not played Siege of Dragonspear yet, I'll be waiting for that shit to sink in price during a steam sale or something but everything I'm going to write is based on things I've read from users and reports from friends who have already purchased the title.  It might also be worth mentioning that Baldurs Gate is a game that was original released in 1998.  There are people with fond memories of this game, it's world and lore so right off the bat a developer is already setting themselves up for heavy criticism when dealing with this kind of content.

So, how far is the inclusion of a trans NPC really pissing people off?  Well from what I can tell, not much at all, games media has just latched onto this one aspect of the game in order to push their story.  What is really pissing people off is the shitty writing, the broken multiplayer, mods being killed, shitty interface, corruption of save files and many more things.  From what I'm hearing is sounds like people aren't happy because the game is made like shit and isn't running properly.  Considering that I can go into my GoG account, fire up BG1 on my modern computer system and run it with very few noticeable problems it's sad that a fucking expansion for the update runs so shitty.

The writing is a particularly interesting point because if you believe games media then you'll be told its due to the inclusive nature of the script.  The truth is, all the "inclusions" that they have made are poorly written and feel out of place.  Not only this but they have also gone in and started changing some of the characters personalities.  You can google what these changes were because explaining them in detail would take another post on its own but it shows that the person writing these characters cared more about pushing agendas rather than building upon the previous story and are doing original fans a huge disservice by changing things.

At the end of the day, when we play games like Baldurs Gate it's because we want to jump into a fantasy world, live out an epic adventure and maybe shove a sword in a dragons face while exploring a dungeon along the way.  We do NOT want to hear about people changing genders or how "terrible" attitudes to women are UNLESS they are written in a compelling way that fits the story.  Just shoving that shit for the sake of shoving it in is not only lazy, creatively bankrupt writing but including it into a long established game like Baldurs Gate is, dare I say, offensive.

If you want to make games with shit writing and agenda pushing narratives then sure, do it, maybe some tasteless fuck will play it.  Do NOT come waltzing into games that people have known and loved since before the turn of the millennium, games that some folks fucking grew up with, and start changing shit to suit your warped view of the world.  People are mad not because you are talking about it but because you're shoving it down their throats.

Go and make your own shitty games inside your own little safe space or whatever.  Let us have our fun