Monday, May 31, 2010

MCM Expo London: That wasn't ages ago

Bank holiday Monday is for plans, plans, plans and then those plans getting totally scuppered by The Yesterday Channel (the past is always present) and back to back episodes of Nazi Hunters. Spontaneous thought for the day: when will games be able to 'do' the liberation of concentration camps with the due gravitas? Looking to the awful (single player) Modern Warfare 2 (awful game, awful story and awful schlock tactics) which in many ways is the (inappropriate) poster child for games if not gamers, I'd say not for another decade at least.

So instead of generating actual new content now that the bank holiday has been practically spent, I'm going to write up my thoughts of the MCM expo whilst they are still fresh in my mind.

MCM ExpoFirstly, the day involved at least five types of queueing but fortunately, impromptu games of identify the cosplayer made all the queuing a bit more palatable. For a ticketed event, you would assume that the venue would have been a little bit more prepared for thousands of geeks to eat lunch. Turns out this surprised the organisers a little leading to at least 2 hour long waits for lunch. Also interesting to see, was the hierarchy of meatspace geekdom up close. The obscure anime cosplayers looked down on the popular anime cosplayers who looked down on the video game cosplayers who looked down on the movie cosplayers who looked down on the people who had turned up in only slightly geeky t-shirts who in turn couldn't look the attendees for the martial arts expo going on in the same building in the eye. In fact, the mix of orange, veiny beefcakes with busty chicks on their arms and pasty adolescents dressed as final fantasy characters advertising 'free hugs' remained entertaining throughout the day.

Overall the whole event was rather British from the public announcements (can Tracey Johnson, the owner of a blue fiat etc.) interrupting the 'celebrity' panels through to the abysmal planning of events. Our party ended up queuing up four separate times for an event that turned out to be in another place altogether and ticket-holders only. We also got turned away from the handheld-world record attempt because we hadn't registered (it had been advertised as no need to register) meaning we were hulking around three DSs and a PSP all day for no god reason.

Secondly, it's a bit rich calling it a movie, comics and media expo when movies were represented by the odd poster or, if you were lucky, a TV showing a looped trailer. Nobody cares about comics anyway and judging by the floor space given over to 'media', media is 90% otaku stalls, 5% DF list stars from ScyFy, 3% Yu-Gi-Oh and 2% video games. Okay, we're playing it up a bit for the cameras but this analysis isn't far from the truth. We'd prefer it if all the stalls were in another room altogehter.

Lastly, before we eventually get around to the games we had a go on, we are being a tad overly negative. The atmosphere of the event was really, really friendly throughout and we struck up conversations with a number of strangers which you can't just do anywhere in London (without a 25% chance of getting randa-shanked). Also, as much as we'd love to hate the community there is that special feeling when you are surrounded by 'your' people. Even if your people tend to smell a little bit in the morning and a lot in the afternoon. Some of the cosplay was truly amazing. Of course we saw more than a fair share of Clouds, Squalls and Rikkus (she's 14 in FFX for god's sake) but it was good to see a Crash Bandicoot, a Spyro, a rather painful looking Bayonetta, four or five S.T.A.R.S alpha teams, a pyramid head, only a 'handful' of Chun Lis, an amazing big daddy, a big mummy, a not so amazing big daddy, an ace caterpie, a trio or tetroids, a number of TF2 characters who spontaneously fought each other, a few more Dantes than Vergils and a rather good Isaac Clarke. We would have liked to have seen a few more DoA girls and Zangiefs naturally but you can't get everything you wish for. There were thousands of anime cosplayers we couldn't identify which made us feel that maybe we don't watch enough (or maybe we watch the right amount?).

Back to the games. There weren't that many games on show, significantly less unreleased games, only Activision, Nintendo, Rising Star and Koei* bothering to put up stands with more than one game playable.

BlandGears-alike Quantum Theory was there. We had a go and if the first two minutes is anything to go on, the game is boring. Bland levels, the weapons lack punch, connecting shots don't seem to have any real impact, it is really really really like gears of war and on both playthroughs we died and our body realistically slumped through a wall.

Blur was on show in a nice little 8 player networked stand. The best way of describing the initial impression is that it is an HD Mashed or Micro Machines with a normal PoV which isn't quite as fun as Mashed or Micro Machines.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was playable and had a healthy gaggle of people watching and playing it all day. Suffice to say as excited as we are about the game it is not really one that's best viewed in a sweaty noisy conference venue.

The Fist of the North Star dynasty warriors game was present in the form of a rolling video but if you can imagine Dynasty Warriors re-skinned with the Fist of the North Star cast with a sprinkling of new characters you didn't miss out.

Die and stay dead TransformersOther games there included the new Shrek game(!), No More Heroes 2, Warioware: Do It Yourself, Professor Layton and the new transformers game. As you can see nothing to set the world alight and nothing that isn't already out or that isn't a sequel*.

*The transformers game doesn't count because in our eyes at least the franchise died with the 2004 PS2 game before all that silly film business and the ridiculous version exclusives bots.

Nintendo Channel: Now Showing

Watching it because you don't want to Bank Holiday Monday blogging! Once again, we've been watching the Nintendo Channel so you don't have to. Can we get a "slow news week"? Now the love affair with Monster Hunter is over there's not a great deal of new or good stuff on the Nintendo channel since last week.
  • Those ace Warioware: Do it Yourself videos continue with Todd Lewis, that chap from Scribblenauts who makes a rather lovely micro game but who comes across as very very nervous under the pressure. Worth a watch and again, we hope these videos keep a coming.
  • Penta Tentacles is a colourful flow-a-like from the 'artstyle' family which looks a little bit derivative if we are honest. Still, we'll reserve judgement from when we've had our hands on it and more than likely we'll find ourselves still up at 4am in the morning collecting floaty bits.
  • There's a Dragon Quest IX trailer up, which as you can imagine looks like what you'd expect a Dragon Quest IX trailer to look like. We imagine lots of people out there will be happy about the new DQ game but we've already got metres worth of boxes of Squeenix DS RPGs to get through. We will say one thing for Squeenix though, they do bring the best out of the DS and no other company seems to be able to do those lush two screen FMV sequences to quite the same standard.
  • There's a Wiiware Dsiware download round up which had us moist with anticipation for not one but two, yes two! DS crossword games, a disco light simulator and a ferrari racing game. If we were Nintendo, we just wouldn't have bothered at all this week.
  • Rooms: The Main Building which has recieved mixed reviews due to issues over actually seeing what you are doing has a strong trailer now showing. The rather simple idea of sliding stuff around is made all the more brilliant when you introduce elements such as timed bombs, rooms filled with water and tube trains?
  • Jam with the Band: Jam Sessions has a very long video where a (popular? they say their band name but it is intelligible) boy band recording in a London studio use JWTB to record a song. So far so bleh, except they record a rather excellent little theme tune we happen to be quite keen on. I don't know if the video works as a promotional tool unless the intention was to make the game look like an-ever-so-slightly-more-approachable KORG DS that only works with four people who know what a chord is or what the notes mean......
  • If you do go and check the Nintendo channel you might as well swing by the Mii Contest Channel and die a little inside when you see the results for "the most honest person in the world" competition and the sheer creativity of the "friendly neighbour" contest.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glorious Moments in Gaming: Syndicate Wars

Glory glory men-united
Syndicate Wars was the first PlayStation game I ever owned. I had played Syndicate at a friends' house and it was with some excitement when my brother and I popped the PSX version in for the first time. Up to 4 player co-op, manga signposts, awesome soundscape (we loved Neotokyo on Timesplitters 2 because of how Syndicate it felt), bank robbing, pursuada-tronning, setting trigger wire traps, getting into a hover car and flying about, setting crowds on fire, the meaty spit when the LR rifle liquidises a person from range. That whole game was amazing* and we'd poured hours and hours into the game (occassionally accompanied by the good Dr. Wo).

We played the Eurocorp Agent missions because, hey, guys in trench coats are so much cooler than the guys with the shoulder pads. Apparently, I've just discovered, there was actually a proper 'plot' according to wikipedia but I never read any of the mission briefings and still loved it. Eventually, we managed to get to the last level which was made up of two sections with no option to tool up between. The first time we beat the first part we had no way of knowing this so when we ended up on the second section we quickly got greased. After a repeated tries we got quite adept at finishing the first section with most of our resources intact before heading up to the finale, set on the Moon, prepared for the final conflict. The objective of which was to take out the 'nine'. Nine enemy agents you had more or less been pursuing throughout who were going to destroy Earth with an Ion cannon ahem. It was here we got all seven kinds of rinsed. Repeatedly. Hundreds of zealot goons and mecha-spiders would pin you with lasers and plasma lances and then zap you to death. Even with the best weapons and cybernetics if you took one wrong step you were only ever seconds away from death. I remember hours of tense pop and run guerilla warfare through networks of glass tunnels always ending in frustration. Eventually, we enlisted the help of Dr Wo. and Monfuche (our mother) to fill out the 3P and 4P slots in a bid to beat the game.

There are surprisingly few syndicate wars screenshots or videos out there on the netOne of the best bits things about Syndicate Wars was that when you bought the cybernetic body from the cryovat, any player at any time could self destruct by pressing x, square, triangle and circle. Self destructing caused a massive explosion that would bring down skyscrapers, set trees on fire, send hover cars spiralling into the ground and would leave a crater in the fabric of the city itelf. Needless to say we had hundreds of mission restarts as one of us would "comically" or "accidentally" self destruct when we were all in a car together or killing the personwe were supposed to be escorting etc. Occassionally, it did come in useful for taking out targets quickly (but if you completed a mission when someone self destructed, you lose that agent, all their gear and all their body upgrades from the available agent list FOREVER) but more often than not self detruct was a last resort so you could exact your revenge on your would be killers before restarting a mission. More games need a self-destruct feature.

After numerous attempts at the final level we'd more of less committed to memory roughly how the level would go. When to lure guys into a trap, when to run and when to restart. We were on a really good run when things started to get a bit hairy. Mecha-spiders had Dr Wo pinned down with lasers and with zealots surrounding our position all of us were taking heavy damage. Shields were down. "Just run" he cried out, lasers taking chunks of his health and then self destructed a second before he would have been killed, taking a handful of bad guys with him and slowing down the spiders. Caught in the shockwave of the blast, the three remaining agents, shields completely depleted then started to rush the remaining members of the nine. Monfuche, slightly lagging behind then got picked off and started to take heavy damage from zealots, in between taking shots she turns to face the pursuers and then BOOM! she self destructs again buying us crucial seconds to complete the objective before getting swarmed. We then get to the final member of the nine who is armed with the sick graviton gun. My brother selflessly rushes up to him and BOOM self destructs, taking out the last of the nine With low health and no shields I then quickly sprint off being pursued by a horde of baddies, reaching the exit and winning the game.

Rarely, have I ever felt so good as after finishing that mission, my team mates selflessly sacrificing themselves so we could literally (within the fiction of the game) save the world.

*If there had to be a downside it was that the intro movie was changed from the brilliant PC version. Actually:

I guess you had to be there :( stupid hindsight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cammy Bison!

It's Cammy dressed as M.Bison. Newly released DLC costumes! Fucking awesome. I don't have SFIV or SSFIV, but boy am I reconsidering that!

More pics of the other cameltoe-tastic costumes over at the Capcom Urinary

Love and Transgender Roleplay.

Richie X.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Glorious Moments in Gaming: Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2:
So yeah as you may of noticed I'm a fan of Gears of War and try and play online with select friends as much as I can. With that said I am yet to claim that I am any good at the game. It's the kind of game that if you take any extensive break from it, your skills become far less sharp very quickly. I find at the moment I've not been regular enough to claim to be good, although occasionally show flashes of the old magic.
So on to the glory.
This particular match was in Execution mode on the 'River' map.
The game was tied at 4 rounds each and the final round had started.
I went off to the hut/tower to get the Torque Bow while the rest of my team picked up grenades and congregated at the Boom shot.
As it turns out we didn't get the Boomshot and with one "Boom" my entire team was taken out.
I was alone.
Alone in the hut with five Locusts hunting me down.
Almost instantly one of them came eagerly charging in, however a well timed active reload and well placed Torque Bow to the foot disposed of him.
I then switched to shotgun, as i had got lucky with the Torque at such close range.
Another came flying in, however I was ready for him and watched him disintegrate with the awesome power of a point blank range shotgun, that left three.
At this point my heart is beating wildly  and I was starting to believe.
One of them had taken up position on the opposite tower with the Torque and we began a sniping battle. As this continued i could see one of his team mates had picked up the grenades while another had picked up the mortar on the bridge, they were tooling up big time.
I fired off a Torque from behind a pillar taking out my opposition on the other tower while quickly rolling forward and hitting the Mortar on the bridge with an active.
That left one.
The drama was further heightened with the words 'Sudden death' on the screen and the 60 sec countdown began.
As I ran to the lower level charging my final Torque Bow I was met with my nemesis, who quickly covered me in grenades. With no time to aim properly I blindfired the Torque, it hit, and as we both exploded there was a brief split second of confusion as to what had happened.
Then as my heart pounded the magical words flashed up on the screen proclaiming a COG victory and my ears suddenly filled with cheers from my fallen teammates.
I was victorious and against all the odds had won the round and the match.
It was awesome.

Now this isn't a particularly unique glorious moment as it wasn't in a tournament or anything like that. However in Gears you get so caught up in mini wars that every ten minutes or so you experience a very intense range of emotions. In this instance I was lucky enough to play it just right and seize the brief glory, making up for so many other 'so close' moments of pain.


Underwhelming: APB

So APB... 

For those of you who don't know; for the past decade or something! A little company in Dundee called Realtimeworlds has been wasting its time trying to make an MMO based, essentially, on Cops and Robbers. 
It went beta a while back, and seems it may even get released this year! Do you care? Probably not, you hear MMO you automatically thing WoW, it's a reflex. As pretty as this little MMO might be, apparently they have a whole team dedicated to clothes physics, it's far from a WoW killer, especially with Cataclysm: AKA WoW2 on the horizon. 
They recently released a statement that the game may receive mixed reviews. Woah, really? you think some people will like it and others won't. What a marketing strategy, why not just say, "our game is average". Though in my experience, Developers are meant to hype their games? *glances at Molyneux* Does that mean that its worse than average? Surely not? A game that has been in development longer than your average Final Fantasy title, produced by a middling company, Pfft. 

The game is mostly running about in gangs, doing Player versus Player objectives and making your character "pretty". That is so 2000 and late!

In Conclusion, really not a WoW killer, and far from worth the time and effort the Dundonians (Dundee person) have put into it.

Cops and Robbers,

Richie X

Monday, May 24, 2010

Glorious Moments in Gaming: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft.
As much as I hate to admit it, WoW makes it on this top moments in gaming, one of the best moments in gaming was downing Ragnaros for the first time.
I first joined the guild for Molten Core at level 58, as they were missing a ranged DPS, I didn't contribute much, but still, I was better than nothing... It was fun because, I was a lower level, I was a bit of a liability, as I had a bigger agro radius, and the guild were having fun with it too, using warlocks to summon me past nasty mobs, which we were just ignoring for this run. A while into this run a few folks noticed that I was set up to do fire spells, this was all very amusing to the guild, a little fire-mage in "Molten core", a place full of fire type enemies. 

Suffice it to say, very shortly after that I proceeded to get to level 60 and I was helping the raid out with my continued Fire DPS on a weekly basis. The guild had been having a go at Molten core for a few weeks by the time I joined in, we were well versed at the bosses. We would suffer the occasional wipe, but that was mainly due to losing focus, which, during a 4 hour raiding session is bound to happen. One week we powered through to Majordomo (the boss preceding Ragnaros) way more efficiently, thanks ,in part, to my wonderful ninja pull; when dousing the flame (a requirement for summoning Ragnaros) behind Golemagg I found a glitch which pulled him, the fire giant did a long run around to our position. We maybe had 30-45 seconds to get ready from the point we noticed this. But we did it, the tanks and healers all got into position and we downed this boss with minimal time-wasting. We were all on a high from this, we were not prepped, not everyone had been buffed, yet we took the bastard down. We started being more gung-ho for the rest of Molten core, and before we knew it, we had completed Majordomo. 

We moved on to Ragnaros. Within our Guild we did have a couple of members who had killed Ragnaros in other guilds, these guys were mainly there to offer advice when they could. We were all prepped, according to the popularly used Ragnaros strats and on the advice of the veterans, we went through the motions; "Too Soon, You have awakened me too soon!", "You have failed me, Executus" etc. We had several attempts, however we were really struggling with "The Sons of Flame", basically a group of 8 fire elementals that Ragnaros summons which run about draining mana and causing AoE fire Damage. After 4 or 5 undertakings of this, and each time we were losing players, who were up past their bedtime... we decided to call it. The Guild Leader insisted that the people present at that guild run were the ones to try Ragnaros the following week, our task was to make sure everyone was up to scratch with fire resist gear (At least more so), which meant doing the BRD, LBRS and UBRS dungeons, and getting the crafters to make as much Fire resist gear as possible, myself included for tailoring, which actually meant buying/farming the wizardweave patterns (Which incidentally are now useless AND can just be taught by a trainer). 

Anyways the following week, 40 people entered into Molten core, myself included, we Fucked! Shit! Up! in there. There were fire elements, packs three headed dogs, hopping imps, scaly serpent like servants, odd floating rocks which spawn loads of other floating rocks. And they all lay dead in our wake. Molten core had (once again) been doused. All that remained was Ragnaros. That huge big boss, so fearsome that even my graphics card was scared of him. We set up Tanks were in position, Healers were in position, and the Various types of DPS were in position. And the bastarding Sons of Flame killed us again! But we did do better for taking a larger percentage of life from him. The second time however, was a very different story, we were more focussed (after just having a laugh and a stroll through Molten core, then getting our asses handed to us, we knew we had to wise-up) Everything went to plan, there were no early deaths, we got lucky with the Sons a few nicely timed Frost novas, Now we were in new Territrory! we had got passed the sons, now all that was left was to burn down Ragnaros before he summoned the sons again! Nobody lost focus, the tanks were still alive, healers were holding on to till just the right minute before shouting innervate, there were not even cheers when we killed the Sons, we just kept piling on the DPS fucking this guy up, we could all see the % Ragnaros had left, we were all aware. Still guild chat remained focussed, till about 5% life left, when one guy, in a rather English accent, anounced, "We can do this!". Now we all thought it, but daren't say it, for fear of jynxing. But we ALL just started cheering! Excited we saw the last few slivers disappear from his life bar, he lost grip of his hammer it spiralled in mid-air and landed next to the "body" of what was one the Elemental Lord Ragnaros, sinking slowly into the lava from whence he came!

That was awesome, such camaraderie. 40 people working towards one goal, I cant remember the loot, I know I didn't get any of it, but still, to get anything would have purely been Icing on the cake! 


Love and Warcraft.

Richie X

Thatguys Glorious moments in Gaming.

Continuing from last weeks theme, Painful Moments in Gaming, we shall be moving on to the more positive side: Glorious moments in gaming.

Without bragging too much, we shall try to detail some of best moments we have experienced in gaming, those moments where you punch the air in elation, where you scream and hug the person next to you, no matter their gender (you know like what the "normals" do when their team scores a goal or something). 

4 years of that guys! who'd have thought it...


Thatguys X

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red Dead Redemption: Social acceptability unlocked?

Prostitutes. More specifically, killing prostitutes. Having sex with a prostitute and then killing her and getting your money back. This is but one thing you have been able to do in Grand Theft Auto games since GTA III. Sure, you could view a thousand beautiful sunsets, save lives as an ambo paramedic, drive a motor bike off of a fuck-off great mountain and parachute to earth or, if you were so inclined, elope with a white priest on a yacht to a secluded stretch sea for some serious inter-racial homosexual making out sessions*. There were thousands of things you could do in GTA which is one of the many many reasons why the games flew off the shelves. It's kinda what 'sandbox game' means. Sadly it seems none of those other possibilities piqued the interest of newscasters, alarmist journalists or lazy politicians quite so much as the prostitute scenario. To labour the point, you could, if so inclined, you could just drive real slow and careful, looking for blacks. But of course that scenario then shifts the impetus for ne'erdowelling onto the choices that players make rather than the depravity that Rockstar force upon our innocent youth. GTA. Prostitutes. Murder. The opening line in many 'articles' that later lay obesity, illiteracy, violence and worse at the feet of video games.

So it is with utter fascination that opening this weekend's newspapers I discover that Rockstar's latest game, Red Dead Redemption has almost as many column inches (in the non-game review specific quarter page either) as stuff like where the best antique markets are, the latest opera and other universally appealing and ahem 'worthy' higher pastimes. Who would have thought that a game in the is-it, isn't-it dead 'elvis genre' that is Westerns, from one of the world's most infamous games developer, in the eyes of the press anyway, is the one that seems to finally be heralding in the great age of mainstream acceptance.

I didn't pick up every newspaper this weekend and of course I have no idea how much money changed hands for the favourable coverage but The Times ran with Red Dead Redemption on the front page of the Playlist magazine as well as a half page review and a refreshingly quotidian double page spread article about how RDR is just simply the next milestone in cowboyhood/ness, naturally the next landmark following in the footsteps of Calamity Jane, A Fistful of Dollars, Dances with Wolves and Deadwood.
Westerns were always pretty shit as wellThe Grauniad, which 50% of the time seems to forget that it has actual talented games journalists on staff, ran an article where semi-famous gamer and funny man Peter Serafinowicz, Fun Inc. author Tom Chatfield and even, gosh, yes, even film critic Philip French sat down with the game. Interestingly, Tom barely talks about the game, instead using the opportunity to emphasise that duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh this is games and has been for a while now. Peter goes and ruins decades of games journalism tradition and points out that he's only been allowed a couple of hours with the game and hence has not been set free in the world yet so can't really say what he thinks. Leaving film critic Philip French, self confessed gaming virgin and author on Westerns in film, to really capture that child like wonder at games that kept many of us playing games in his writing and no, he doesn't reflect on whether this is all art or not art.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised to see video games receive some surprisingly thoughtful, measured and positive coverage in the mass media. Although, you'd be hard pressed to discern this from the paper coverage, I'm sure there is still a fair amount of graphic MDK as well as prostitute abuse but hey, everyone is wearing a hat and maybe RDR will promote more children enrolling in equestrian sports in time for the London Olympics? The only question remaining is whether this coverage has come from a combination of healthy game marketing budgets and print-media dying, a testament to Rockstar's skill at just making great games or whether games and gamers have finally grown up enough.

*My brother and I developed a mini game in 2 player San Andreas which was to press the 'kiss' button in the most awkward situations. Army chasing you down? Your latest ride finally gives out from the hail of bullets? Helicopter taking potshots at you? A final stand in the middle of the exposed highway? No better time to spam the kiss button.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: Treasure Island Dizzy

Treasure Island Dizzy:
The pain isn't over yet...

The year was 1989, I had a Commodore 64. Games like Outlaw, Double Dragon and Bubble Bobble frequented my tv screen. My favourite however was Treasure Isand Dizzy from Code Masters and the Oliver Twins.
The plot was basically, you're stuck on an island and want to get back to the 'yolkfolk' . Through a series of inventory based puzzles you build a boat and get off the island by paying the shopkeeper character 30 Gold coins (which you have collected throughout).
For those of you who are unaware, this was seen as the most difficult of the Dizzy Franchise, unlike the predecessor which you had 5 lives and the sequel which had 3, in Treasure Island Dizzy you had one life.
Consider that for a moment, one life.
One life, with no ability to save the game, it was all or nothing.
This also wasn't an easy game, you had to essentially memorise the side-scrolling map, often jumping blindly in to the next screen (screens updated on a screen by screen basis, so not dynamically side-scrolling) hoping to not hit the spike, while still landing on the platform short of the killer cage that you couldn't see when you initiated the jump. There was also an order to which things had to be completed, otherwise you would miss one of the essential Gold Coins.
The inventory system was also a nightmare: You pick one thing up you drop whatever is at the top of the list, if you are under water and the snorkel is at the top, bad luck you are dead and have to start from the begining.
If you jump too far and hit a spike you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you do something in the wrong order and trigger a trap you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you drop something on the keyboard you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you have a moment without complete concentration you are dead and have to start from the beginning

My point is, in no other game i have played since, has life ever been so precious.

So back to that night in 1989, i had been playing the game for a couple of months solid and had uncovered all the coins and pretty much solved all the puzzles (no online guides back then), however the perfect run still eluded me.
This was the night however, when all those weeks of training would finally pay off.
My older cousin was visiting (to clarify he was an adult in his late 20's) and excitedly I had invited him to witness the magical completion of a great game.

The final scenes started to unwind, this was it, i had 29 Gold coins, had built the boat, all that was left to do was walk with the boat without falling in to the water, collect the 30th coin on the other side, pay the man and celebrate the completion of the game.

My cousin although not a gamer, was not completely removed from how they worked and was familiar with the 'Q' hotkey which instantly quit the game. He had previously teased me about this by pressing  "W" key, yanno to frighten and horrify a child. So predictably once again as i approached the 30th Gold coin he began his taunt with "W" fakeouts when suddenly the unthinkable happened, he hit the "Q" key (apparently aiming for the 'W") and without warning or verification i was thrown back to the title screen.
At that moment I went from a nervous excited feeling of impending jubilation to instant pain. Pain is the most apt word, whether it was due to my younger sensitive emotions, that fact i hadn't realised the cruelties of the world yet, or that even in today's world i would still feel pain, but in that moment i felt absolute crushing pain, instantly crumbling to the floor crying. This then progressed to anger as i started to attack my older cousin screaming in a tear filled rage 'Why!?!"
I remember being promptly ushered to my bedroom by my mother, who couldn't understand my pain and had instantly decided I was at fault for 'creating a scene' . I of course tried to explain on the way up the stairs to my bedroom by listing the atrocities committed by my cousin, but was merely dismissed and led to the solitary confinement of my bedroom.
Alone, I sat, sobbing. I had been betrayed, betrayed in the worst way an 8 year old could be, an unrecognised achievement robbed from me and nobody understood the pain, nobody even tried to understand the pain.
Even writing this today it stirs dormant emotions and it amazes me the emotion games can stir. Gamings validity as an artform is constantly in question, however no other medium has ever resulted in so much emotion from me, as a game did on this day.

I never played Dizzy again....

Oh and my cousin has no memory of this...


GUEST SPESHIAL Painful Moments in Gaming: GTA Vice City

As if this week wasn't painful enough, LEGEND Dr Wo 69 has an eleventh hour entry!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee got a 419 in North East Banana Grove.

It took a stupid amount of concentration to get to Vice City in the OG GTA and when it came onto the PS2 in full 3D glory it was the version that I played the most and enjoyed the most in a murdering sense. I tried San Andreas but it was just too god damn big! Yeah you can do all this crazy stuff in it with bikes and parachutes but I could never recognize a landmark to let me get my bearings. Vice City, 3 islands, couple of bridges, airport all you need to have fun in.

I took a vow on this game that I would NEVER CHEAT! EVER! Not one for anything, if I needed a weapon I would go and find it, if I wanted armour I would buy it, if I wanted an Apache Gunship I would have to steal it. The reason for this, is that I wanted the best Criminal Rating possible and by entering the cheats your rating gets a raping. I learnt this from GTA3.

So I plodded through the game getting busted only 5 times, got stuck on the final "Bank Job" for a about 6 months but thats cool, I was just filling time doing all the property missions, finding hidden packages. Oh the hidden packages, jumping motorbikes across rooftops to light up a pornstars shapely body on a skyscraper, making a killing on the frenzies you know all the bits in between, then I finished the game, hoorah!!! What next?

Well I came up with a game that I played on and off for god knows how long but I remember doing this during secondary school, then Uni, then after, then some more. To get your criminal rating up all you need to do is kill things, lots of things and not get caught. Getting Busted lowers your rating and just looks bad, so my game consisted of tooling up with the multitude of weapons, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, M16's, chainsaws the lot and cause as much carnage as possible get the army out, steal a tank, cause more mayhem and then leg it back to a safe house and save. The Army are A-Holes. Stupid programmed A-Holes, but they still would kill you very quickly so jumping into the tank was the key to survival and then trying to get the tank into a garage also, not the easiest of maneuvers.

This game was a cathartic exercise for me, (just like playing through the first level of Doom). Mass murder is a great way to release aggression. Whenever I was, pissed off, pissed, bored or needed a "recharge time", in with the Vice City and yeah chunking along the highway in a tank with the barrel turned backwards to go faster blowing shit up. This, that is all the behaviour above, continued for X amount of time where X is undetermined due to me never noting down when it all begun but I only ever had 2 save files, 1 of them I abandoned 5 missions in as it was gay and just kept on with the original file.

I had an overwhelming urge about a year ago to investigate the old girl, it had been a while since I had seen the Pink and pretty lights of that sea front, maybe I would just go and shoot 1 innocent bystander for old times sake, nothing too grotesque, I had matured slightly. Games had began to include moral decisions, times had changed but it would make me feel good just to slip back into that blue velour again and pop some rounds into a rollerblader.

In it goes, loading data- save data corrupted.

I cant even remember my last entry as at the time I just didn't look......

Dr Wo.

Cunzy1 1's note: One of the overiding themes of pain week has been software failure. I'd just like to point this out to all those who go on about 1000 years.

Nintendo Channel: Now Showing

Thank god Most Painful Moments in Gaming is over. Not only did the frustration of my individual pains come flooding back but the pain of my right honorouble friends made me cringe anew. However all this frustration will be offset with next week's feature-creeping best moments.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a quick butcher's at some of the stuff currently up on the Ninty Channel at the moment. I'm a big fan of the Nintendo Channel, I know not everybody is, but if I have some spare time I try to check it out once or twice a week to see what's new.

This week:
  • Monster Hunter Tri still dominates the channel with a massive 19 videos currently up. The latest video, bizarrely titled Hunting Jhen Moran Online is actually just a cutscene from the game (a fucking cool one nonetheless) advertising the now closed(?) event quest. The World of Monster Hunter Tri parts 1 to 6 and the World of Monster Hunter Tri Hunting Grounds set the scene for MHnewcomers but also strike me as a little bit spoilerific? Andy's Quest is a bit cringe-worthy but it shows some effort by Ninty to try to demistify the game that some newbs seem to be struggling with the fundamental ideas behind.
  • The Super Mario Galaxy 2 Trailer doesn' exactly make me want to run out and get that game but mostly because a lot of the clips in the trailer seem to be subtly emphasizing how SMG2 is not going to be a cake walk like the predecessor was and just thinking about beating some of those levels MAKES ME TIRED.
  • Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies has a trailer as well as a Behind the Scenes with TREASURE vid up. Both are worth a watch. The behind the scenes reveals how the game could have shipped at sub 60fps and how the whole game had to be made significantly harder after failing the first Super Mario Club Test..... I will pitch in and say it is such a shame that there aren't playable demos because videos of S&P really can't communicate the insanity of playing it.
  • There are three excellent Warioware: Do It Yourself videos up showing Masahiro Sakurai, Yoshio Sakamoto and Edmund McMillen making micro games on the spot for the Big Name Games download service. Seeing Sakurai draw a watermelon and McMillen put together a Super Meat Boy micro and then being able to go and download those games really is something special. I hope these aren't the last of these videos.
  • Rage of The Gladiator looks fun if you have Wii Motion Plus and some Wii points spare, in particular smacking Lord Vensor the 3rd repeatedly round the chops with a hammer looks like an excellent way to vent some pent up frustrations.
  • Metroid: Other M is looking pretty fucking sweet. The new gameplay trailer goes some way to help visualise how the game will play with those 'internet' controversial controls.
  • Surviving High School reminds us why we don't trust trailers that don't show gameplay and true FPS System Flaw: Recruit which uses the camera to superimpose bad guys onto the real world, looks simple but fun as long as you don't mind spinning around looking at your DS in public.
  • To be frank, we weren't ones who were holding our breath for Red Steel 2 but the enemies presentation on the Nintendo channel really does make us want to go and play XIII again so it isn't a total Ubi loss I guess....
  • And finally, 3 Minutes with the voice of Mario is annoyingly lovable or is it lovably annoying? One of those.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: Dead or Alive 4

Dead or Alive 4:
Fuck you, you cheaty, cheaty fuck!

Alpha-152 is the final boss of Dead or Alive 4, so I had played the "perfect game" i.e. I had played through to Alpha-152 with no continues (if I defeated Alpha-152 without continuing I would earn an achievement). I get to Alpha-152 and she pumps me, like seriously; Teleport, unblockable combo, teleport, throw, death. But never mind I remain calm it was only a crappy achievement, I knuckle down to do this boss yet again... and again... and again... and again... and again... and again... and again... and again... *Twitch*... and again. 

RAAAAAAAAGE! I WAS FUCKING FED UP OF GETTING MY ASS HANDED TO ME BY THE CHEAP CHEATY EXCUSE FOR A "CHALLENGE". I frantically search for something to take my anger out on, I contemplate kicking the 360. No, it's to expensive. I see a pillow, I could totally punch that, no I need to break something. Then I see my phone, the Sony Ericsson K800i. The little bastard was looking up at me, probably laughing at my numerous defeats. So I grabbed it and threw it about 3 meters against the wall!!! and then I instantly regretted it, stupid rage. As it turns out I had thrown it so that it landed face first against the wall, and with such force that it left an imprint of the out line of the phone and the keypad. The phone only required a new screen... But DoA4 NEVER got played again.

Love and Sparkly Blue Boobies,

Richie-152 X

Painful Moments in Gaming: Final Fantasy X-2

Final Fantasy X-2:
No, my "worst moment" is not actually playing through this hyperactive girl-power dross, though it is a major factor. When I bought the game I knew there was a "New Game+" mode so I was determined to complete everything I could on the 1st playthrough, reaching for the FFX2 equivalent of the holy grail; the Mascot Dress Sphere, which would be playable in New Game+. To get this, it involved getting an Episode Complete on all levels.  When I reached the point where I should have unlocked it, it did not happen... Now after a load of research as to why or how this could possibly be. The only thing I can surmise is that; very early on in the game there is a mini-game where you have to protect some crates on a wagon from bandits, I must have not saved enough crates. And well, the game can FUCK RIGHT OFF. It was a poor excuse for a sequel and considering the main bulk of the game was like I had just been brutally anally shafted with a 13" dry Dildo; a dildolification of Japanese girl power if you will, then as the repeated rectal punishment was drawing to a close... they bring out a 20" dildo coated in sandpaper with the words "You're not getting the Mascot Dress Sphere" printed along the side and proceed to, with no tenderness or gentility, penetrate. At this point I decided that this abusive relationship had to end. Frankly I couldn't be bothered to sit through it again, and as it turns out I didn't even care about the ending. 
Time heals all metaphorical rectal wounds.

Love and YRP,

Richie X

Painful moments in Gaming: The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game:
Now this game was a fun romp, I really enjoyed the storyline, parodying many other games, even referencing their tropes (every so often Comic book guy would pop up, announcing that a video game cliché such as "Double Jump" or "Exploding barrels" had been found). 

I had been playing it (couch) co-op, and after an epic session taking us to 5am, we were approaching Matt Groening's mansion, to what felt like a final boss character. Given the late hour, we decided to call it. The next day we resumed, or so we thought. Cue that wonderful message; "Your Save File is corrupt". And sure enough, exit to the dashboard and check the file, big yellow exclamation mark. RIGHT. BEFORE. THE. FINAL. BOSS!! Personally I blame EA for this one; "This game features and Autosave feature". And boy does it, it saves every couple of minutes and after every pickup etc. Constantly writing over the same section on the hard-drive over and over again. Stupid just stupid.

Itchy and Scratchy,

Richie X

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: TES: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oblivion was one of my first experiences on a 'next gen' platform and looking back I was a far more innocent gamer. I wasn't bothered by achievements, or consulting any guides to make sure I didn't miss out on any weapons or plot developments. I was just happy exploring the world and seeing what happened. I remember the first time i was afflicted by Vampirism and having to abandon the main plot while I dealt with this truly surprising plot twist, I miss that innocence and it was only a couple of years ago.
Anyway I digress.
Oblivion for me was a return to the days of Diablo, which lent itself to multiple playthroughs where you could share equipment across save files and over time I had amassed a huge collection of equipment. This hoarding nature was quickly appearing in Oblivion too.

As I ventured innocently across the world of Cyrodill I started to acquire a lot of cool shit, Unique Weapons, Daedric artifacts, rare gems etc etc. It was all mounting up.
I decided I needed a base camp, so I set up shop in one of the Mages Guild's, in a room that was rarely used.
I initially just littered my stuff around the room and carefully monitored save files regularly, which worked well, however as the collection grew, it became less practical. Eventually I decided to use the chest in the room which was far better to organise and view the items.
Again at first i monitored save files carefully making sure everything was safe, and it was , for a long long time.

Then one day I decided to return to the Guild to bask in the glory of my collection and add a couple of new items I had acquired when the unthinkable (to an innocent  stupid gamer) happened.
My gear was gone, it was all gone, replaced with a shovel and some calipers and tongs! For a moment I tried to rationalise it, Have i loaded the correct save file? Am I in the correct Guild? Is it the correct room? What is the Matrix?
Then I started to load save files, quickly working out how much I had 'done' since that save. I load it and run back to the guild in that timeline.
Same deal, it's gone.
I try another, then another and then another, eventually finding a save file that still contains my treasure trove, however this save file is so far back that 28 hours of gaming have passed since then, with many many quests completed and so much land explored.
It was too late, there was no way I was going back to that time.
I did linger a while in that save file, equipping some random gear, going 3rd Person to appreciate the look and generally rummaging around in the sheer awesome. However eventually I knew I had to move on.

This was my first lesson about containers in games and the end of my innocence as a gamer, I quickly discovered Wiki style sites and from then on sidestepped such perils.

I think the sign of a good game is when you forget you are playing a game and become a character in the world. This experience however burst that bubble, as, unlike when you lose your keys or your wallet in real life, I knew these items weren't 'around somewhere' They were mercilessly deleted from existence by a random loot generator for game containers.
No apologies, just code.


Painful Moments in Gaming: Pokemon Silver

Too painful to talk about again.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: Zelda: Ocarina of time

*Oh spoilers, but if you haven't fucking played it by now, I have no sympathy for you and I really shouldn't cater to you*

There is a bit in the game later on, where you have to get by some whirlpools by equipping and unequipping the "iron boots":

Time it just wrong and you get a KO from being sucked into the whirlpool and you return to the start of the whirlpool. Which happened over and over and over, keep in mind that to equip or unequip the boots means menu juggling, so it was getting more and more frustrating, till eventually I, out of rage, grabbed the controller and twisted it.  As I did so, the the 2 moulded halves of the controller prised apart:
However it didn't snap, or break... It did however revert back to it's original state very quickly, the controller snapped shut, the 2 sides closed together pinching a strip of skin on the palm of my hand. Well, not just pinching it actually scissoring the strip right off, forcing me to wear a bandage for a week and now being permanently scarred (branded). Cheers Miyamoto.

Love and Painful Masturbation,

Richie X

Painful Moments in Gaming: Grant Turismo

painful moments in gaming
Pretty much my whole family plays video games but occasionally, my brother and I would end up having little competitions. I still have all the old notebooks with the score for various one v one competitions that would span hours and sometimes days. My brother was an absolute demon at (bizarrely non cart based) driving games and anything to do with the Second World War and I was competent at beat em ups, kart games and FPS so often the competitions would be quite tight. One time we started to argue about who had 'completed' the most games. It was a stupid argument but he had completed more games than me so I insisted that it didn't count unless you had the save game to prove it. So we end up going into the memory card management screen of the PlayStation and counting up all the provable 'completions'. My brother argued that this system wasn't fair especially when games he liked took up more than one slot. In particular, Gran Turismo took up 5 slots, a third of a memory card so it should count five times (as if).

Grant Turismo box art
I'll point out here that my brother absolutely loved Gran Turismo (notice past tense) it was almost as if it was made for him. Virtual car porn with some gruelling challenges that really proved the mettle of a driving gamer. One of the hardest parts of the game was completing all of the licenses. The licenses start off easy enough, stuff like 'go in a straight line' in the time limit or go around a corner but then they quickly get harder and harder. I just don't have a brain for driving games so I'd just hit a mental wall and have to give up. My brother tried to tell me how to do it, it's about breaking and watching your speed and how you break etc. He'd busted all the licences, filled his garage with all kinds of tweaked beefy cars with ridiculous names and for all intents and purposes had 'busted' the game. So whilst we were looking at the save data I said to him "Can you imagine if I deleted GT?" to which he said "Oh man don't". I then hovered over the delete button and started swinging the pad near my leg "Can you imagine if it hits my knee?". "Oh man don't". That's when the pad hits my knee and we both watch as the five memory card icons for Gran Turismo disappeared. It was by complete (admittedly stupid) accident but I felt horrible inside, gutted. To my brothers credit, he didn't cry, he didn't punch me, he did revenge himself upon my memory card (including various Resident Evil achievements and Tomb Raider 100%s) he just never played Gran Turismo ever again. Which made me feel worse. I ruined his favourite game of all time. What a total cunt. Who does that? If you are reading this bro, I am still sorry about it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: SSX Tricky

SSX: Tricky

The Year was 2002 and Richie! and Cunzy11 had been playing SSX:Tricky with various Portsmouthians on the PS2 all year. Summer came along and Richie! introduced it in to my life and thus started many many hours and many many sessions of Tricky.
Now although we all completed the game to get the best boards/characters etc, the main focus was one of the first tracks, Garibaldi.
The tracks simplicity lent itself to a points frenzy, so the game was simple; how many points can you grab in one run by hitting as many x2, x3, and x5 multipliers as possible.
Over the months, we poured endless hours in to devising the best route that gave the best pay off in points. Often we would incorporate part of eachothers run in to ours, constantly refining the process. We even theorised about what score a 'perfect run' would yield.
The right of passage target (before you were considered a contender) was 1 Million points, however quickly 2M was achieved and everyone frantically made refinements to their 'run' to hit the 2M mark.
Suddenly 2M was standard and scores of 2.1M and 2.3M started to creep in, then for a while we were all stuck at 2.45M.
Which brings us to my run.
Richie! had headed back down to fraternise with the Portsmouthians and re-engage Cunzy11 in Silent Hill 2 sessions, I however had remained committed to the Tricky effort and continued to seek perfection.
After a few weeks battering away, I finally had the (almost) perfect run and passed 2.45M and racked up a score of 2.6M!!
To say i was chuffed was an understatement and even though the general Tricky commitment elsewhere had waned it still felt great to know at that moment in time, in our collective of SSX gamers, I had the top score. I of course shared this news with the masses, taking a moment to enjoy it before easing in to a life without Tricky at the forefront of my mind.
A few months later in 2003 my new flatmate started playing tricky, he was a simple gamer and basically liked snowboarding downhill fast (amateur!) One day when I got home he had a guilty look on his face and said,
"I think I've messed up your memory file"
Words that will send a chill down the spine of even the hardest of gamers.
However I instantly dismissed it, explaining he couldn't achieve that by accident, that he would have had to have gone in to the memory card, select the game, click delete and even then confirm the deletion.
He continued:
"I was drunk and came home wanting a race and I think I got trigger happy"
Again I dismissed it, however quickly started to fire up the PS2 nervously.
Upon loading Tricky I immediately could see that characters were locked as were all the good boards. My face was suddenly stricken with panic as I frantically loaded up the high scores on Garibaldi.
And reality hit.
There it was, an empty leaderboard, a vacant space where greatness had once dwelled. There was no sign of my 2.6M, my blood, sweat, or tears, and no sign of the journey of scores that got me there.
I was devastated, broken, and inconsolable.

There is an epilogue to this tale of sadness, as the replay of my 2.6M run had made it unscathed by the drunken brutality. However as any of the Tricky fraternity will know, the replay does not contain the score and while the run is clearly a good one there is no proof of the 2.6M achievement.

I never played Tricky again.


Painful Moments in Gaming: Viva Piñata: Trouble in paradise:

Viva Piñata: Trouble in paradise:
This cutesy game is really fucking good, there is very little like it out on the market, and as it turns out, it's hella addictive! I had come quite far in the game, I had managed to collect most of the species, even managing to collect the elusive Choclodocus. However disaster struck, I load up my "garden" and get presented with "Your save data has become corrupt", Motherfucker! I had spent fucking ages collecting those piñata species! But Salvation! As it turns out there is also a rolling save, and it had registered my progress with collecting species and their stats. So I proceeded to start a new garden, collect the remaining species, send them off to parties, essentially completing the game. Except, I was missing one entry... the Choclodocus... Which, as it turns out it is, in effect, tied to your Gamertag. Restarting the whole process for collecting him again would not allow me to re-obtain him. He is lost in the limbo of corrupt saves, forever denying me that last entry in the piñata encyclopedia. 

Love and 50 gamerpoints,

Richie X

Painful Moments in Gaming: Thrill Kill

I can't remember quite how but one of our group of friends had managed to get hold of a not so legal version of the PlayStation game, Thrill Kill. Thrill Kill, for those of you who don't know was infamously unpublished, at the time 'unpublishable' due to its violence and mature content. BDSM, cannibalism, Gimps and various circus acts duked it out in such gritty locales as a sewer, a car park, a car park sized mental institution and a car park in hell. Remember kids, this was back when Carmaggedon had to be heavily edited in order to see release. Thrill Kill obviously piqued our interest because of the 'senseless violence' promised but more appealing to our small gaming clan was that it was essentially a four player beat em up. Yes, the amazing Shaolin offered up to Eight player fighting (still one of the best multiplayer experiences ever) and later Gekido allowed for a similar four player fighting experience but for this one day we had Thrill Kill, a chipped PlayStation, four controllers, several eager players and a multitap.

The problem was, because the copy wasn't exactly 'legit' we had to hot swap the discs in order to get the game load. One of the entrepreneurs of the group had memorised the instructions which involved putting in a legitimate disc, sticking a pen in the PlayStation so it would think it was closed and start to spin, wait for the PSX logo to come up and the spinning to slow down and then swap in the Thrill Kill disc. Initially, the group sat round holding the pads eager to get playing but the disc swapping wasn't exactly a scientific technique and was taking longer than anticipated. A couple of hours later and we were taking it turns to try to get it to load up, not because we were that desperate to play it but because we'd all now invested a lot of time in the endeavor. Eventually,after another hour of disc, pen, power, wait, logo, swap, wait and restart something different had happened. We'd done it. We had finally loaded it up and were now faced with a warning screen along the lines of "This game contains scenes of violence and gore, you have to be over 18 to play this game. Are you over Eighteen?" with a selection between yes or no. To which, Chuff_72 (long term readers may recognise the name) who had done the lion's share of the disc swapping work sat back on the couch, picked up the pad and clicked "No" immediately booting us out of the game again. Hours and hours watching a black screen wasted. We did eventually get into the game after hours more spinning. It was 'okay', certainly not unpunishable and absolutely candy-cane compared to the dross that gets casually bought for minors today but by far the most memorable thing about it was Chuff's mistake.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Painful Moments in Gaming: Goldeneye.

Cast your mind back 10 years to the heady days of the Nintendo 64, and that gem: Goldeneye. I'm sure we all remember it well, it had 4 player deathmatches, on the same screen! now that is tech! So one afternoon there are 4 of us lounging about playing deathmatches, one of the modes you could get was "The man with the golden gun", where one shot was an auto kill. At that point we were playing 1 vs 1, one of the guys got the Golden Gun, retreated to a ramp where my only hope of killing him was to climb that ramp. 
Every. Single. Time. boom dead, boom dead, booooooom dead. 
Now I'm a persistent guy so I kept going at it, he had accrued a score of around 50 kills and I was getting madder and madder, redder and redder, breathing heavier and heavier through gritted teeth. Eventually at one point I had breached the perimeter where I would usually die, I got closer, scrambled with the controls out of pure excitement. then boom dead, yet again. I exploded... 

Now for those of you that don't remember the N64 joypad did not come with rumble as standard, you had to buy it as an add-on for the pad itself, annoyingly this was almost necessary for some of the titles, Zelda: OoT for instance had a metal detector-esque rumble function for finding items.

...But yeah, as I was saying, I was getting repeatedly brutally humiliated whilst an audience of my peers were watching. Sorry let me rephrase that, I say they were watching, I don't know if they could actually see me through the tears of laughter as they rolled about on the floor clutching their bellies, struggling to breathe... The score was 2 to 50-ish, I had just wasted an opportunity to turn the tide because I panicked. I let out a scream and smashed the controller on the ground, rumble pack first. The pack doesn't just break, it explodes. Bits of plastic, microchips, batteries and motors flying everywhere. Everyone went silent, I sat there deflated, looking at broken plastic shards still attached to my controller... Then everyone started laughing again, but 10x louder than before, I'm pretty sure someone started hyperventilating. Sucks to be me.

Love and Broken Rumble paks

Richie X

Thatguys Painful and Glorious moments in Gaming.

Alright Troops!

We at Thatguys decree that this week is National Most Painful and Glorious gaming moments week. As such over the next week we shall be sharing with you some of the most heart breaking and heart warming stories from the Thatguys team.

Well actually, it's kinna coming up for 4 years of and we thought we'd do a feature, we don't do them very often. We tend to fart ideas and opinions at random, and often offer nothing more save from some rather disturbing metaphors and analogies. Though attempting to go for shock-value on the internet is as retarded as stillborn puppetry, we like to think that we still have the warmth of a fat-man's bowel movement and wit that is dryer than yer maws snatch.

Well, gentle readers, we present you a little insight into the best and worst moments in our history of gaming...

Love and hugs,

That Guy's a Maniac... X

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Term Approaching: Tweakquel

A Tweakquel is a sequel to a video game which is essentially the same as the original except with some marginally game improving new features. Common tweakquel features are:
  • You can now dual wield weapons (e.g Halo)
  • There is a vehicle section (Tomb Raider)
  • You play as another character for part of the game (Devil May Cry, No More Heroes)
  • The torch and gun are no longer mutually exclusive (Dementium)
  • Two player co-op (Resident Evil)
  • Some of the best levels are removed from the game (SW Battlefront)
  • You get some decent songs licensed (Wipeout)
  • Live action is left out (Resident Evil)
  • Everything is shiny. So shiny (Perfect Dark)

Remember, you heard it here first.

Dragon Aged? Like a vintage cheese.

Avid reader! You may have noticed one third of TGAM hasn't been pulling their weight around here recently. That is because Richie! got sucked into Dragon Age: Origins. Big time. We managed to lure him far enough away from the 360 version of the game but only with the promise of helping explain to you avid reader why 'marmite' Dragon Age was worth playing, how Richie likes to roll (two meanings!) and why all dwarves are scots.

How do you normally play RPGs? General dick or worthy saint?
It's a tough one and particularly pertinent in Dragon Age as there are achievements either way for the moral decisions you make in the game. And unless you are Save Scumming you are only going to get one half of them on your first play through. But in general, when I play any game, I tend to be as nice as possible, helping everyone I can find, doing every quest I can, but also most importantly getting to grips with the world and it's mechanics, then when I'm aware of the world and it's exploits my second character will be an arsehole.

Do you play as yourself, the character or RP your own character?
I usually name my characters after me, and try to get them as similar looking to me as possible, and with female characters I tend to name them "Richaladin" after my shelved WoW Paladin. With Dragonage I just delved in, I enjoyed the banter and how you could approach it, however sometimes you got the feeling that it didn't matter that much as the plot steered you in the same direction. SPOILERS the classic example is at the start of the Mages origin storyline, where you HAVE to betray Jowan whether you want to or not END SPOILERS. But essentially I found myself putting points in "Coercion" purely for the alternative options you have.

emooist tits I ever sawedDo you play the game to exploit it (maxing DPS with gear combos etc.) or play more to experience yet another fantasy world?
I'm a gamer at heart, I cant help but try and find the best way to make bigger and bigger numbers appear on the screen, but in saying that in between the theorycrafting I enjoyed the world, tolkien-esque as it may have been, there was a feeling of it's own entity.

How important is the narrative?
Very. As I mentioned the storyline does break up the action but it will also combine the two, essentially you can choose who the bad guy is in your eyes and the story will evolve around that, also influencing the NPCs, and the way they react to you.

Hyper realism quick let us invoke the uncanny valleyHow was the story?
Fun, genuinely fun, it didn't delve to much into the realms on Medieval stoicism, despite the land you are in being on the brink of an invasion there is an entertaining endearing levity from the characters, and how they react to each situation. I left the dwarves story line to the very end of the game, as i didn't care for them that much, but their section of the game was a delight to play! From a a gameplay point of view the "Deep Roads" was a lot of fun to navigate, coupled with the banter form the drunken character Oghren, and even the ability to deeper understand the origins of the DLC character "Shale". Never really liked dwarves, but dragon age did it well! On a side note to this if you play the Dwarven Noble Origin story you are more central to the plot there and leads to some really interesting story you are not privy to as any other character.

Favourite moment from the game?
From the mechanics, probably throwing on all the passive skills of the Arcane Warrior Specialisation, you end up glowing, on fire, , surrounded by a shield, absorbing the corpses of the fallen, it's bad ass! Plot-wise, SPOILERS If you are playing a bastard, desecration of the ashes of a revered holy idol. Your party members reactions are priceless, and having that option is awesome END SPOILERS.

Worst moment from the game?

Before the most recent patch, when you were nearing the end of the game, there used to be a delay before you could loot the corpses. More frustrating than anything. There is also a bit where Leliana (bisexual rogue singing bitch) sings, ugh cringe-tastic.

Why are the class names in most RPGs horribly geeky? This prevents these games from being promoted via word of mouth because saying "I rolled again as a Rogue" makes any muggles within ear shot die of laughter.

I blame western RPG's (JRPGs are usually a bit more imaginative, when it comes to this... Onion Knight anyone?) and they're adhering to the classic Dungeons and dragons roots. Just call it something different.

NPCs. Bothered? If one of your buddies die do you miss their 'company' or their sword?
Well technically no-one in your party is an NPC as you can control them at any point, and as far as combat goes, as long as one member of your party is alive you will regenerate after battle. However there are many decisions you can make that will influence whether characters stay or go, and yes you will miss them, for skills, achievements, or even just the chat.

Why are all olde worlde people Scottish?

Just the Dwarves and its more like a weird mix of Scottish and Swedish. And why? I haven't got a fucking clue, I blame John Rhys Davis personally.

Three RPGs better than Dragon Age?
Tales Of Vesperia
Mass Effect (only slightly, so similar)

Three RPGs worse than Dragon Age?
Balur's Gate
Blue Dragon
Fable 2

Needless to say, would.Dragon Age DLC yay or neigh?
Yay, I got the special edition which included the stone prisoner and such, I bought the Grey Warden Keep DLC too, It was all fun and does offer some good upgrades to your character, I'm genuinely intrigued by the expansions too, however not until they get reduced in price.

Did you play any of Dragon Age Journeys to get those unlocks?
Nah, I stopped caring when I heard "Flash game".

So there we have it. Dragon Age: Origins. S'arlight.

Pokemon Black and White

How many news posts can be squeezed from four new pokemon and three new screenshots?

Too many?

Don't get us wrong, we're a little bit excited but not that excited. Still, we're the fool for expecting anything approaching measured responses on the internet. Especially not in the slums of the gamosphere.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Burn 'em all.

About 8-10 years ago we did a big ol' search for books about gaming and aside from hilarious compilations and dry history of computing books there was virtually (ha ha) nothing. Searching on Amazon this weekend and boy oh boy are there a load of books with interesting titles about video games (aside from Halo novels, Prima guides etc.):
Exodus to The Virtual World, Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World, Casual Revolution, Introduction to Game Studies: Games and Culture, Computer Games: Text, Narrative and Play, Teaching Video Games (Teaching Film and Media Studies), More Than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form and a shed load of others. Sadly most of them are more than a bit hand wavy and 90% of them start with the same hundred or so pages pleading with the non-existent non gaming reader who accidentally picked up the book: "Games are important, my university tenure is so valid, games really are important". I recently went to a book shop to pick up one of the latest books Fun Inc.: Why Games are the 21st Century's Most Serious Business. My experience in acquiring this book lead to me to the following thought.
The front cover is a bit general management to be fair
The Gamerati are constantly searching for widespread approval or some kind of audible ding to signal that games have become socially acceptable. Some, quite sensibly argue that this has already happened, others seem to endlessly search for the sign. Is it when we get a good TV documentary about video games? Is it when pro-gaming becomes something you can bet on? Is it when movie critics mention gaming in their column? Is it when the economy collapses because everyone takes a sick day when GTA IV comes out? Or is it when government passes tax breaks for the game industry? I would like to suggest a new yardstick so we can easily tell when Video Game Culture has finally dinged social level acceptable: It's when bookshops start having a video games books section.
The last four or five times I've been to an actual shop to buy a book it's never been easy. This Gaming Life was obviously in travel. Second Lives was in computing under 'Web'. The Art of the Video Game was under computing-3D graphics. Powering Up was in indoor games Fun Inc. was clearly in business-general management and Starcraft novels are quite rightly with the comics and the sci-fi books.
When all these can be found under the same section will be the day when Waterstones staff actually judge a book by its contents and the day that we can relax about gaming being 'normal'.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Alan Wake- This is not the Silent Hill you are looking for?

We managed to get our grubby mitts on awfully named Alan Wake this wochenende. Suffice to say we agree almost perfectly with unreliable Eurogamer's Eleanor Guitar. We almost agree except Mr Wake's constant auto-narrating grated on us even more. The game plays almost like how Silent Hill the movie watches.
In our mind he also looks a lot like Lucas not Lucas the other one from Indigo Prophecy 2 so all we really wanted to do was press X to Jason. To be fair, we didn't really press X to Jason much when we played Fahrenheit 2/11. Instead we used the time to check out hot mall chicks. We don't really do malls over here so checking out hot mall chicks was a first for us. It was a double first because when we played Indigo Prophecy 2 we were role-playing Lucas Lucas not Lucas as a transvestite so we were actually lesbian scoping for chicks instead of looking for our son. Bored already? Here's a screenshot from Alan Hill, William Hill's brother.
Alan Wake isn't here At this point in the game, you have to look for your son Jason. Back to Silent Wake. Wait, are we still reviewing the unreleased Alan Wake? We are so out of touch. Talking about Alan Wake is so last month. Instead let's talk about Alan Wake 2. We are so psyched after having not properly playing Alan Wake that we can't wait for Alan Wake 3. Alan Wake 2 you ask? Yesterdays' news over it. We can exclusively reveal that Alan Wake 3 may or may not be a prequel to Alan Wake, itself a prequel to Alan Wake 2. Future rumours may indicate that you can now dual wield a gun and a torch, two torches or two guns. You also play as Alan Wake's son, Jake Wake. Jake Wake has traveled back in time to Silent Hill Lake Pleasant Camp Crystal Lake and after pressing X meets a young Jason SPOILERS Voorhees. Then there is a vehicle section. Alan Wake 4 which will be developed by Rebellion is set in a series of flashbacks from Alan Wake 2 and Alan Wake 3. We can't confirm anything but Alan Wake 5 is a re-skinned Uno game for Xbox2020 Arcade.