Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A game from 10 years ago.

So I fucking bought San Andreas... Again. (Currently owned: PS2, Steam, Windows Phone, now 360)

It was really just on a whim, £2.99 on XBox Live seemed well worth a punt. I had a dick-about with the iOS/Windows Phone version and as cool as it is to have San Andreas in your "pocket" the controls are just wank. Nobody likes a fake dual analogue stick game.

But the 360 version is worth it. Its prettier than 10 years ago, it now has achievements, it actually stands the test of time! Downside is after playing the iOS version I am very aware that this is the port of the iOS version and now a newly reconditioned version, there are obvious giveaways with the controls. And it crashed a couple of times.

Love and Hot Coffee,

Richie

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I Love Rodland

A beautiful bit of "16-bit" work.

The whole thing is just the epitome of the crazy Japanese pixel are you come to expect from the mid 90's

You don't see shit like this nowadays, no siree, Its all fucking hyper real sci-fi men with brown hair.

Where's the fantasy where is the off-the-wall utter madness you used to see in games.

Even the fucking F2P Monstrosities with cartoon graphics still settle into the old D&D tropes.

Love and Fuck you, I'm old, I get it,

Richie X






Friday, September 05, 2014

Over 200 Games Journalists Write an Open Letter To Gamers. Stop the Hate

#GamerGate continues to tear the gaming community apart. Brothers and sisters fight. But there's a shining light. Writing letters to end the hate, harassment and nastiness that haunts our hobby. Theoretical game developers and community managers wrote their letter and gamers have their petition but as a community, video game journalists have not yet spoken out as a group. Until next week that is. An anonymous source who wants to remain anonymous sent us this letter which will be going out next week. 

Dear Gamers (R.I.P)
Please stop the hate. The only thing we have is the power of our opinion on games and gaming related things and if you don't like that then we don't get paid. Well a lot of us don't get properly paid in the first place. In fact being a games journalist sucks. We should really do something to improve our plight.
Anyways. If games journalists stop writing are we not just gamers? Please stop the hate.
Signed

7 of 9
Albert Brooks
Andre Romelle Young
AKB48
Anthony North
Barney McGrew
Bonnie and Clyde
The Busby babes
Bruce Wayne
Charles Earl Bowles
Charles Foster Kane
Clark Kent
Clint Eastwood
Clive Hamilton
Cuthbert
The crew of the Nostromo
Dibble
The dinobots
Dr. Mario
The Easter Bunny
Edward Kelly
Ellis Bell
Father Christmas
Grub
Huey, Dewey and Louie
Huey Lewis and the News
Jane Doe
Jessie and James
Jessie James
John Doe
Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Kaiser Soze
Kane and Lynch
Kane and Abel
Katrina and the Waves
Killer 7
Leeloo
Link
The magnificent seven
Malcolm X
Megaman X
Mario 
Metal Mario
Mike and the Mechanics
Oswell Spencer
Sir Percy Blakeney
Peter Quill
Pugh
Pugh
Richard John Bingham
The Rockford Peaches
Roger Rabbit
Saloth Sar
Professor Samuel Oak
Santa Claus
S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team
S.T.A.R.S Bravo Team
Steveland Judkins
SUM41
Terry Jean Bollette
The seven dwarves
Thelma and Louise
Tom Marvolo Riddle
Toon Link
Tooth Fairy
UB40
Unown (all 28 forms)
The Wonderful 101

UPDATE: Parts or all of this post may be deleted, reinstated, edited, changed across all dimensions and we reserve the right to not have to inform any of you of those changes, unless we want to. 

Cant Beat them...

Here! You know Kotaku right, in between all their "journalism" they do crap about Japanese Culture. Like stuff about food shaped like an obscure animal from the most talked about cult dating sim from that week. Or when they talk about their favorite Anime from this season and genuinely discuss the quality of the "boing" noise that the overly endowed female character's boobs make when they bounce/jiggle/squish.

Well here is our favorite bit of Japanese culture:

Babymetal!

They are hitting western shores now.

I'm too old now for Dubstep and following Radio 1. But this I can get behind.

Be warned Babymetal, TGAM may just go Full Stalker on this one.

Love and KAWAIIIIIIIIIII,

Richie X

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Alcamoth Citizen Says: The topic of the hour/day/week

With the gaming community tearing itself asunder, the developers, gamers and gamers who get paid to write about games turning on each other like cornered animals (online of course, nothing is happening in real life) this conflict between brother and sister is spilling over into game worlds too. Our in-game correspondent,Alcamoth Citizen reporting from Xenoblade Chronicles has this to say about the burning issue: 'Why isn't anyone excited about Jigglypuff being potentially leaked for Super Smash Brothers?'.


So there we have it. If only other game journalists took this news quite as seriously.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Won't Someone Spare A Thought For The #GamerGate 'Journalists'

This last couple of weeks there's been a storm in a teacup that seems to have culminated in the gaming community doing a sea cucumber and eviscerating itself, turning itself inside out and ejecting all it's internal organs as a defense mechanism. You can follow the 'story' on the social media under the hashtag GamerGate. We won't go into the specifics of how this kicked off because the spark that lit the part of the fire we're interested in is sort of irrelevant. The short version is that some pretty strong evidence has come to light reminding us once again of the rampant cronyism and amateurism within games journalism. The funny thing is that what may or may not have happened to kick this off is almost completely by the by. In between the feminists, the white knights, the trolls, the griefers, the journalists and the developers all rallying to four or five different calls and fighting with each other, some are using the #GamerGate to call for clearer transparency and ethics amongst game journalists, an ugly beast that occasionally rears its head. It's just there's never been a hashtag for it before. 

Our issue is that expecting games journalists to conform or to act in a certain way is verging on pointless because aside from a few organs of repute, most games journalists are nothing of the sort. Here's a bulleted list.
  • Games Journalists Aren't Professionals. We've seen our fair share of job adverts for 'journalists' for various outlets over the years from Rock Paper Shotgun to the Official Nintendo Magazine. Our interest piqued, we've made enquiries (because professional industries never, you know, list a salary or rights and benefits for a job with the advert right? If there even is an advert...) to have received responses like; 'If you're asking about pay, it's not the role for you' or just not hearing anything back at all about the job, the role, the pay, the ha ha ha pension. Much like the games industry that apes a proper industry by mimicking them from it's cage, 'games journalism' parodies proper journalism by using words like news, exclusive, feature and sometimes even calling themselves journalists but it's just a bunch of people who write about games.
  • There's No Association Or Accreditation For Games Journalists. Well there may be one or two but I've never encountered them. Anyone can (and does) write about games for a website. But unlike the proper press there's no way to lodge complaints or issues aside from emailing the author, who can and will in all likelihood ban you, tell you to fuck off and then subtweet about you. They may then adapt, delete or rewrite offending content and they may or may not flag or make transparent that they've done so. And why should they? They've got nothing to lose. They're people who get paid (sometimes) to write about games. Nothing more. Go ahead, find a list of 'approved' games journalists.
  • Anyone Can Be A Games Journalist. Seriously. I have a couple of Internet acquaintances who do just this. Try it. Find the right distribution list to get yourself on as a 'journalist' and voila, you'll get free games, get taken on press junkets, sent free junk and invited to 'conferences'. Publishers don't care. They barely check credentials and again, why should they? Send out a bunch of games to outlets and they'll write about your game. If your game is shit you can 'embargo' reviews but the only threat from breaking embargo is you won't get sent review copies from that publisher in the future.  
  • But The Websites Look Legit. They Have Ads For Games On Them. I really think that this confuses people. Having ad banners from the latest blockbuster is in no way an indication of legitimacy, in fact it's probably the opposite. Again, think about it. There isn't someone at EA or Activision who goes through a list of websites they could run their ads through, screening for journalisti integrity. If anything it's a popularity contest not a discerning process at all.  
  • The Lines Are Blurred. We can all agree that the following aren't journalists; Youtubers, people with Twitch channels, Redditors, most posters on NeoGaf. We're all fine with that. So why would you expect some sort of higher behaviour from people whose only qualification is they upload content to a website? Even more worrying are websites like Kotaku who used to have a ban policy on comments telling them their articles aren't news. That's not really a part of journalism. 
  • Some Game Companies Don't Bother Anymore. Nintendo is a great example of this. By releasing their announcements, interviews and trailers [direct to you] through 3DS and Wii-U they bypass the 'gaming press' altogether. You wouldn''t interpret Nintendo's content as journalism right? It's marketing. So then why oh why are you surprised that your sacred journalists are the same people who fight over themselves to live tweet and report the information you can go and see for yourself first hand and in many cases they barely interpret it. They're just churning out the marketing but on their URL. And you and I know this practice is rife. Press release goes out and like a row of dominoes the websites report the release sometimes illustrated or edited, sometimes almost unchanged. Rarely is it labelled ADVERTORIAL or PRESS RELEASE. 
  • There's No Such Thing As Investigative Games Journalism. We all know that there are many many ills with the games industry. Dodgy practices, poor finances, sweatshop sourcing, abysmal job security, lacking basic employment rights, unsustainable hardware, dodgy trading not to mention the games which employ the same tactics as highly addictive gambling  machines. Even worse many 'games journalism' sites don't even pay their writers or in the case of one Official Magazine in the UK get under-age writers to contribute to their content in return for the 'privilege' of writing for them and the odd exclusive access to conferences and expos. Yet I'd be hard pressed to find a single genuine piece of journalism investigating any of this. Sourcing 'quotes' from 'anonymous' 'unconfirmed' 'leakers' doesn't fucking count either. Where's your journalists now?
These are just a few points that have sprung to mind during this whole #GamerGate affair. Expecting 'game journalists' to maintain a baseline code of ethics or practice is ridiculous. Yes they're all mates, yes it seems ridiculously easy to segue from writing about games to making, consulting on or writing games and back again. Yes, they may have a press pass but in reality it should take a lot more to fool you into believing you are accessing content that is in any way different to losers like us writing here or worse, it's agenda driven content. Content to get more clicks. Content to squeeze more 'exclusive' content from game makers. Content to earn enough to pay the 'journalists' employed. I can understand the anger from many gamers but at the same time we can't all be that naive right? As for what we can do to change the situation, we'll see if #GamerGate starts the ball rolling to inject some accountability within, so called, games journalism. And if they're smart about it, 'journalists' could use the opportunity to professionalise the field they work in and distinguish themselves from hobbyists who make content on the Internet.

GROUCHCLAIMER. Yes there are some exceptions and there are some great writers but from the grubbiest of websites (Escapist) to the heady heights of EDGE it all smacks of an exploitative and 'grey area' industry far too often.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Valkyria Chronicles errr Review?

Recently I was gifted a PlayStation 3 and a fairly comprehensive catalogue of games which is great for two reasons. Firstly, free games! Secondly by being gifted one it allows me to maintain that the PlayStation 3 never reached a critical mass of games for my tastes that warranted a purchase of the (still) overpriced console. One of the games that was on the shortlist that never reached critical mass was Valkyria Chronicles. 

Released in 2008 to generally positive reviews, Valkyria Chronicles is a mix of all the best bits from Advance Wars, Battalion Wars and quirky PlayStation 2 game Ring of Red. It's a 3D turn based strategy game which is a lot of fun with a beautiful art style. Playing games slightly time shifted from the climate in which they were released is interesting. Although I can see the appeal of VC when it came out, having played and loved Fire Emblem: Awakening last year, VC is probably lower in my estimations as there are some great mechanics which should have been in VC but weren't.

To set the scene, it's a fucking turn based strategy war game. If you've ever played one your pants will remain firmly unblown away to discover that; there's a Europe but not Europe, ravaged by war, time of peace, shortage of MacGuffin resource, conquering Imperial force, an unlikely but gutsy crew of spunky teenagers turn out to be brilliant military strategists that fight the Imperial forces whilst growing together as a team. Fine. So far, so blah. 

One of the great things about the game is you get to choose the members of various rock/paper/scissor classes that will make up your squad. Pleasingly, it's entirely possible (barring the boring protagonist) to make an all-female squad. However, due to the misogyny still rife in game design, the ludonarrative is dissonanced somewhat by the might of the Empire being continuously thwarted by an all female squad of former singers, dancers, bakers and florists who have an average age of 'just turned 18'. 

The troops on down time. I grew up in a Barracks City and this is definitely what squaddies get up to when they aren't on active duty.
 And here's where the game could have been much better, taking a leaf from the recent Fire Emblem. Aside from the main cast your squad members may be heroes from conflict to conflict but there's nothing to reward player attachment to characters. At the moment, sadistic emo shocktrooper Jane and Irish sniper Catherine have been the backbone of virtually every conflict but aside from an in menu biography generically filling out with use of these characters I feel that their story remains unpreserved. There's no way to see the statistics of individual squad members and classes are leveled up on mass rather than character specifically. Each squad member is recruited with pre-existing character traits, flaws and best buddies which again is a bit jarring seeing as Catherine and Jane have been through some serious scrapes together yet they remain besties with the generic male characters who never got out of basic training. 

I'll admit I've been spoiled with Fire Emblem: Awakening, an amazing game that came out five years after VC but I can't help but think the character and relationship development from FE, in VC would have turned a good game into one of the great games of the last generation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Omastar Comics #38

This week, Omastar gets his tentacles in a twist about that OTHER Omastar, in particular the lucrative merchandise deals and TV spots. 

Fucking religion.