Thursday, November 25, 2010

Omastar Comics #29

So Pokemon Black and White are now out in some parts of the world and there's now a whole bunch of new Pokemon to go after for the impossible task of catching them all. As ever when there's something new of different people will fear, hate and even write essays on their own wiki discussion pages. Team TGAM is split on the new critters. Richie is excited about some of the new type match ups and I just look at this page and slowly shake my head until my neck aches.

However, love them or hate them this new generation has finally given us that last Pokemon with the specific characteristics needed for us to create this image which we've been dreaming of making for years. Click for its splendor to fill your screen.

CLUE: Heroes in a half shell
Okay. Time for a new dream!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The New Review: Still no games?

Like all aspiring middle class people the only paper we buy is the Graudian and the Observer and every week we get a little bit angry that games are never covered in The Review supplement. That Travel and Sport get their whole own separate supplements is a bog post for another day. Like a lot of other gamers we're still waiting for an audible 'ding' to alert us to the fact that yes, games are now socially acceptable. If you so wished you too could hijack a dinner party/pub lunch with a boring lecture about games in the same way that it is acceptable for wine bores, travel bores and I've just popped a child bores to do. Even though games probably already are socially acceptable we're still waiting for the ding. The batman signal in the sky, the ironic t-shirt that becomes an unofficial trendy uniform, the endless historical documentaries on BBC4 or even our own OBE. Even more frustrating is that the Guardian do have a fairly decent crop of games writers who don't seem to be allowed to write in meatspace.

So it was with some trepidation that we opened this week's THE NEW REVIEW in the Observer. SPOILERS! Still no games:

Page 3: Gary Numan's cultural highlights. No Games. C'mon Gary we can tell by the way you look you're an RTS man. The iPad was Gary's choice under the 'Technology' section.

Page 4: MORE ON THE WEDDING! Quick aside: since when is a 28 year old woman who has never had a job some kind of working class pauper? Or worse some kind of role model? I never thought I'd ask for one but if ever, we need a Jeremy Kyle special: Layabout Monarchy.

Page 6: The 10 best Coronation Street characters. "Dear editor we hereby cancel our subscription etc. etc."

Page 19: The Discover section begins! Will games feature as part of Science, Technology, Nature?

Page 20: Some shit on robots with typical disappointing headline about how they're going to rule the world despite the fact most robots can't multitask beyond 'get stuck in a corner' and 'fall down stairs'.

Page 21: Something on google and facebook. Twitter probably mentioned. Good odds for part of the article just being a random selection of trendy celeb's tweets Ctrl+Ced and Ctrl+Ved. Easy copy.

Pages 24 and 25: Yet another article on Bridget Riley. AND HALF A PAGE ON ARCHITECTURE. HALF A PAGE!!

Pages 26 and 27: Theatre and Classical. Totally irrelevant. Who reads this stuff? We're no Philistine but we're told almost daily how many of us are gamers of one form or another. A third of us in a survery last week? If there were that many theatre goers it wouldn't be dying on it's arse as it seems to always be doing. We seem to lack the politicking advocacy of some media and the inherent cultural worthiness of other media for games to even be worth mentioning yet alone to receive an incomprehensible wafty semi-review of a one off performance.

Page 31: Sorry, I was wrong. The photography page is the least relevant part of this publication.

Page 34: GAMES AND RADIO, a very DCMS lumping, here we go! The games section is comprised of four reviews, one of which is 34 words long. Two typos in the other reviews. This, remember, is award winning coverage (not even by default).

Then it's 80 pages of book reviews, opinions, charts, listings and news. Then the crossword and TV listings.

Maybe the new, new review will be better. We can understand why games don't get much in the way of decent coverage in the mainstream press but when we look at the plethora of excellent games writers online (who don't get paid) and see games culturally sidelined here. Well we're not being served are we? We can't be the only ones either. Until electronic books, magazines and papers become as comfortable, social and as pleasurable to read through on a lazy Sunday morning over a cup o tea we'll just have to carry on pretending to be interested about the higher forms of media. And TV. And Theatre. And Radio, Dance, Photography and erm anything relating to Apple as filed under 'Technology'.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jumpy Twat

Jumpy twat

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are happy to announce that the Barioth from Monster Hunter Tri is the latest video game character to enter the 'Jumpy Twat Hall of Fame'. Barioth is the latest video game character to have solicited over 1 million frustrated calls of 'Jumpy Twat!' and thus eligible to enter the JTHoF joining such luminary jumpy twats as all of Bowser's children, Half Life headcrabs, Alien facehuggers and eliminators from Resident Evil. Jumpy Twats all. Why can't you just stand still for a second?

I'm just trying to do something.

They. Are. Played. Out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another day...

...another whinge about the problem with pre-owned games.

Our stance is very clear and we've bored each other (and hence 100% of the readership) silly with it but until news posts about it desist we won't desist looking on in amazement. Our problem with retailers is that they, in no way, really try to offer up the best of gaming. Older platforms vanish from shelves within weeks and new games enjoy the spotlight for a couple of weeks.

We for example are keen discerning gamers at the time of life with a little bit of disposable income yet time and time again we have to head online or buy second hand games to get the kinds of games we want to play. At all. There isn't a brand new copy sitting on a shelf with convenient distance that I'm ignoring. I prefer to buy games brand new (although not on launch day and certainly not at the ridiculous prices some games are). In most cases, these games aren't obscure or limited run games. They're fairly big releases (recent examples include Monster Hunter Tri, New Play Control Pikmin 2). If we can't get games and we're actively desperately looking, how are would-be-gamers or gamers who don't obsess about games finding the whole gaming experience? How many times do we need to say it? We can't buy the fucking games brand new and in most cases we can't even buy the fucking games direct (Capcom Store EU, Nintendo, Bandai Namco). Is that a good way to run a business?

It would be like a bookshop only stocking this week's releases and then 12000 copies of old versions of the Guinness book of records. It's insanity. Even suggesting that the latest batch of games is better than everything that went before it is insane. "Sorry, we don't stock a Tale of Two Cities or Charlotte's Web but we do have the new Jilly Cooper and Katie Price books".

Surely, publishers, retailers and developers would all benefit if games were being retailed sensibly and with a little bit of pride? Instead of game shops resembling at best a seedy pawn shop, at worst a young offenders dorm room.

At least today's whinge (from MCV) is a little more measured and Codemasters CEO Roc Cousens seems to get it although in this context its mostly about digital distribution.

Is there not a single business economist working with the games industry? It all seems to be run, as a business, by a bunch of morons so the next time yet another studio is restructured or cut I'm not going to be sad for them because this is nonsense.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ben X- Watch it.

Looks shit from the box art, probably why nobody heard of it

NOT BEN10 that hideous cartoon that isn't as good as all those cartoons we grew up on M.A.S.K etc. but a charming little Belgian film.

When we're used to getting excited about, analyzing and dismissing media before it has even been released it was nice to be taken by surprise by this little film. I hadn't heard of it and in fact wasn't really aware of it being at all video game themed and a quick Google seems to suggest it wasn't picked up by the monolith of websites calling themselves video game blogs.

It's a touching tale 'based on real life events' that quite heavily features video games but not in a brainless sense a la Gamer or a massive advert a la Wizard but featuring a video game (ArchLord, missed that on the wikipedia page didn't ya, wiki cunts) as part of a normal life. Dare-we-say-it even in a positive light?

For gamers out there I'd recommend giving it a watch. Not only is it the best video game related film out there at the moment it has quite a nice story. Many of the issues touched on chimed with me as a gamer (but not as extreme as depicted in the film).

Subtitles though! So watch out lazies who can't read and watch films at the same time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wii is a piece of sh*t

The unreliable eurogamer has an interesting piece just up about some guy who made the blogeadlines back in 2007 by ranting against the Wii at GDC. That's fine, each to their own but what Hecker does go on to say is the kind of idiotic rhetoric that gets our goat here at TGAM. From the linked article:

"Game design and gameplay is not separable from CPU power," he told Eurogamer.

"You can do more interesting games with a faster CPU. Nintendo made an underpowered platform, relative to what you could have made at the time.

This in itself is theoretically uncontroversial but is moot in reality. Where are all these 'more interesting games?' on other platforms? We've said it time and time again but the reason why at least one of us isn't writing off the Wii as an acceptable console is because now, perhaps more than ever there is a real dearth of diversity of good games across all the current generation of games. Furthermore, the quality of graphics with Xbox360 games and PS3 games can still be a feature of some godawful broken games or games that are just quite boring.

Let's look at for want of a better 'objective' list the top ten games by platform a la metacritic.

Xbox 360 GTA IV, Bioshock, The Orange Box, Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, Gears of War, Elder Scrolls IV, CoD4, Halo3, CoD MW2. Average meta score 95% Very diverse and interesting. Alternatively we could write this list as 6 FPS, 2 GTAs and two RPGs. Or seven sequels, three new IPs. In terms of the innovations there titles bring to gaming we've got excellent online features, amazing community tools (Halo) and then ummm the invention of a cover system (Gears), a decent stab at compelling story (ME2).

PS3 Reads much the same. GTA IV, Bioshock, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls IV, CoD4, CoD MW2, Uncharted 2, Street Fighter IV, Metal Gear: Solid 4 and Little Big Planet. Average meta score 94.4% One could argue that LBP stands out for doing something different but the rest are upgraded sequels and we're not convinced that graphics alone make GameN+1 better than GameN. Okay so last generation couldn't have created a sandbox with the detail like GTA or Red Dead Redemption and MGS 4 would have had to come with an extra 4 discs for cutscenes alone but is this really such a jump from the PS2 days? In terms of gameplay and game design there's virtually nothing 'new' here most of these are still "shoot things in the face until the cutscene lets you move on". We still live in a world of QTEs, boss fights, fetch quests and circle strafing.

SMG, SMG2, LoZ:TP, World of Goo, SSBB, Rock Band 2, Rock Band 3, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Re4, Okami. Average meta score 93.2% Again, sequalitis. A bit more diverse with only a couple of shooters in the top ten but essentially 5 last gen ports and seven sequels. World of Goo and Super Mario Galaxy are doing good different things in terms of gameplay and game design.

So what's the point here? Well Hecker mentions that we should be looking for more interesting games which bust out of established and very tired game design and gameplay but this micro analysis shows that just isn't happening across the board. Interestingly, if we were to pick out those games that are interesting and are turning gameplay and game design on their head you will won't find many of them in the top ten lists and a lot of them under perform commercially. In fact, in contrast to what Hecker says I perceive the Wii to be doing many more interesting games which take gameplay and design in many different directions, very few games of which that are based solely around motion controls which is why Kinect and Move have to pull some excellent motion controlled games out of the bag in coming months.

In conclusion it isn't something wrong with platforms and hardware there's something wrong with gamers expectations, the way games are marketing and the fact that most gamers seem to prefer games are still very 'gamey'. Low risk-familiarity, copycats and slight tweaking is the order of the day in which case using Heckers own terms most of popular gaming is a piece of sh*t.

*As a side dish, we're also bored of writers who simply equate the wii with motion controls and flailing and therefore casual shovelware gameplay. We strongly feel that with rare exception, motion controlling is an excellent addition to the way we play games and the best use of motion control is where you don't even notice you're doing it or when it is more intuitive than using an analogue stick or pressing a button (Mario Kart Wii, the light gun reload-flick, looking around in Metroid Prime and Resident Evil, everything in Zack and Wiki). It is an added dimension to how you play games but building games solely around motion control leads to the shallow kind of experience early Move and Kinect games are offering up. Stop putting things into camps and do your jobs properly games writers.

That Letter to Konami

Three working days is up bitches so I'm posting my letter to Konami here. Then maybe we'll put it on twitter and start a facebook group and maybe make page 416 of the Guardian Guide this weekend until Konami reply to us.

Dear Konami,

We here at the blog That Guy's A Maniac have been debating buying the new Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Game. It has received excellent reviews all around and we are a fan of other Konami games. Silent Hill is excellent. Not so much Metal Gear Solid but each to their own.

Anyway, despite being just over a month old it is already retailing for less than £20 in some places. LESS THAN £20! How is this sustainable? I'm a discerning gamer and the above game price is not even for a second hand copy but I bet the game cost a fair million to make and is already discounted to a half/third of the price. Perhaps a bit longer pride of place in the spotlight would be better for the game? I couldn't see a copy on the shelves of the largest GAME store in Europe this weekend. Is that it for this game? Onto something next now?

Also, I've seen no marketing for the title outside of gaming magazines and I'm interested so I'm looking you know? I bet the average gamer doesn't even know what a Castlevania is so they probably won't buy it. Which is a shame because hundreds of people did a bloody good job (so we've read) making it but they won't receive quite so much money in return.

Kind regards

Cunzy1 1 and Richie!

PS. Please make Silent Hill 7 good. The spin offs were OK but not a patch on 4. Or 2. Or 1. Or that recent wii one.

PPS. we actually didn't hate the Silent Hill movie. It was better than that Resident Evil CGI shit hey? Hey? Capcom? Hey? Hey?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guy Cocker defends 360 as gadget of the century

So editor of Gamespot UK, and owner of a name that still makes me giggle, has come out and stated that the 360 should be gadget of the 21st Century:

As a gadget fan with an iPad, an Android phone and many of the other gadgets on this list, there's still only one thing I'd take to a desert island -- my Xbox 360 S. With a flat screen TV, an Internet connection and a copy of Halo: Reach, obviously.

Surely the flat screen and "teh internets" is cheating? but yeah, ok 360 as Contender for Gadget of the 21st Century? It's a big claim! I mean we are only 10 years in (I assume this must be some sort of rolling competition?) anyways.

I love the 360, i prefer it to the PS3 and the Wii. So yeah if a console is gonna get the Gadget of the 21st Century, I would vote for the 360. Honestly though, I don't see a console winning. The contenders consist of the usual Apple products, a selection of Phones (some as outdated as the Motorola Razr), some Cameras/Camcorders, laptops, HD cable boxes, HD-DVD players(?), hand-helds, the consoles and the Nokia N8(Ha!).

So yeah you know what...

Despite the fact that the iPad will win, I'm with (teehee) Guy Cocker on this! 

360 to win!

Love And N8's

Richie X

P.S. How much cock could a Guy Cocker, cock. If Guy Cocker could cock guys?

Xbox 360 Marketing the shit out of Kinect (and other things)

Watching the goggle box yesterday was almost like watching the PS3/Xbox360 ads channel with the occasional television programme in between.

PS3 are gunning for attention with an Assassin's Creed Brotherhood ad with music and very mild violence ("exclusive features for the PlayStation 3" presumably means you can play as a Sackboy).

Meanwhile Kinect ads ran almost every single break. I don't know if it was deliberate or not but every single advert had a glitchy blip at the same place when the 360 logo came up at the end. Maybe they've changed their branding to be more in line with the Kinect experience.

Anyone else notice that (for reference, during Vampire Diaries- yes now you can JUDGE ME ON MY TELEVISION WATCHING HABITS)?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Warriors of Rock: The Shallow review

Guitar hero is shallow. 6 versions later and not much has changed whatsoever. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Guitar hero 6 has brought in a slapdash "plot" element the "Quest" mode, akin to the story mode in previous versions. You pick a character, play a few songs from their setlist, get enough stars, unlock the encore song, and also unlock some new outfits/character designs. Later Rinse, Repeat, till Final boss. There is also a plethora of cheevos to pick up on the way. Quick mode offers challenges, more fun cheevos  and a rather nice addition, a full collection of all the songs from the other Guitar hero titles (and DLC) giving me 200+ Songs in one place. The Setlist is different this time round; It seems neversoft have decided to stay in the Rock Genre, which is a good Niche, let Rock band have the Family Fun appeal..

In Short, the game cost me £20 brand new, it does not add much to the series, just some nice aesthetic changes and some fun new songs, still a steady, good, and fun game to play.

A shallow Review for a shallow game.

Warriors and Rock,

Richie X

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Ode to: The Great Jaggi

Oh Great Jaggi sometimes you scare me though.

Oh Great Jaggi
how Great are you?
Not that great anymore
the Great Baggi is greater than you
you are still greater than jaggis and jaggias though
So comparatively, your name is apt.

The first time I tried to hunt you,
you won.
And the second time.
Not the third time, although I did have help.
Stupid shoulder barge
That used to take off 80% of my health.
Now it does very little.

Go ahead. Call your buddies.
All they do is dance around.
Baggis spit ice stuff at you and make you sleep.
Unless Cha Cha helps me.
Cha cha never helps me.
I'm gonna leave you in the village next time you little shit.

Maybe I should sell all that Great Jaggi stuff
In me box.
I'll hang on to it for a bit.
See you around 'Great' Jaggi.
In the meantime
I need
A Rathian Plate.

What's the interesting thing about this trailer?

Trailer for Goldeneye Wii or whatever it's being called:

What is interesting is that it uses quotes from actual gaming websites rather than quotes from News of The World (Fallout New Vegas "All bets are off"). Or nuts magazine. For example.

Trying to bring some 'hardcore credibility' to the marketing of a Wii game or just good practice finally aligning marketing with gamers who might buy games rather than the everyman who actually sees the News of the World as some sort of trustworthy advocate for things....?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Two Reasons to Never play Dragonquest

I actually resent giving these slimy vaginal pus buboes any kind of media coverage whatsoever. But yeah for those of you that care (ideally the imbalanced ones with a sniper rifle) these faecal ridden lesions will be in Covent gardens on Saturday the 13th.

Love and resentment,

Richie X 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Why Everyone Should Really Read Replay

Yes. Know them please
"The video games industry was born in Japan and then exported overseas."
Kaz Takeshita quoted from this article over at the Beeb.

Okay there's some wiggle room with 'video games industry' but seriously now?

David Cameron and Silicon City. Wot no games?

Last week David Cameron was widely covered in the newspapers surrounding his ambition to create a Silicon City in East London. Although you might expect us to be excited about this it actually left us feeling a bit deflated and annoyed. Why, why is it time for a bulleted list? Yes yes it is.

Reasons Why David Cameron and Silicon City annoyed TGAM.
  • Video Games weren't mentioned at all in the coverage we read and we've just finished reading the excellent excellent Replay: the History of Video Games which is not just a damn fine book but it is so meticulously researched that we had revelation after revelation about how games came to be but also how games ended up being responsible for a great deal of the technological stuff that we now take for granted (including operating systems, twitter and facebook). To omit games seems a little bit short sighted when in fact we do have a good games industry in this country........
  • Especially with the increasing frustration over the scrapping of tax breaks for the game industry earlier this year. Who knows, maybe this silicon city idea might see tax breaks tabled again???
  • Although we often skip over EDGE's region specific sections detailing regions from around the world with excellence in game development we do actually have a fair few silicon cities already dotted around the country . Asking personnel to move to London to do what they already in other parts of the country essentially means all those people who work in the games industry taking a pay cut of a couple of grand to live in London. Think again Cameron. Think differently.
  • The aforementioned snubbing is yet another example of how the government just doesn't have a clue when it comes to the games industry (video games not the Olympic games which is a waste of, hisssss, boo). There was hope that there would be an active interest when games seemed to be bearing up in the economic downturn but still, to date, games have only ever been researched by the DCMS on the harmful effects rather than support an industry in an ever more difficult and competitive global market. But once again it is more about education and economics which doesn't ever come into play when lovies and darlings want to make hemorrhage money making films or worse, keep Opera from dying.

So we'd recommend that MPs responsible for creating a Silicon City watch all of videogaiden, get an EDGE subscription, read Replay and make former games journalist Kieron Gillen Gamer Laureate. Cunts.

Wiiware demos are back!

As the other three people in the UK who stop to actually use the other Wii channels may have noticed, via a message from ninty, that playable Wiiware demos are back! It used to be the case that you could try a handful of the download service games helping you decide whether to buy or not but for unknown reasons nintendo stopped the service which was annoying. We have issues with all of the downloadable games platforms on all the current generation of consoles but demos work really well on the Xbox 360 and used to on the Wii. Otherwise, of course, spending those Wii points on an unknown entity can result in players never using it again (missing out on gems like Swords and Soldiers, World of Goo and our favourite Lit). So we welcomed the change.

Furry Legends (Gamelion), Jett Rocket (Shin'en Multimedia), ThruSpace (Nintendo) and Zombie Panic in Wonderland (Akaoni Studio) are currently available. We managed to scrounge up enough free blocks (sorry Today and Tomorrow channel but you were shit) to try Zombie Panic and Jett Rocket. We might try Furry Legends but if it ain't a game where Krystal from Starfox adventures bangs Sonic the hedgehog via a Wiiwheel minigame we ain't interested.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland recieved mixed reviews largely because of the shallow gameplay. From the demo it's actually okay but probably not worth 1000 wii points. The cool aspect of the game is that (in the first level anyway) you start by shooting zombies within the constraints of a little shop but gradually destroy the scenery enough to reveal a whole street. It's essentially space invaders set in a zombie infested ninja world but might be an evenings worth of fun in co-op.

Jett Rocket Appears to be a charming little game which is visually something between Jetforce Gemini and one of the early Jak And Daxter games and from the first level demo plays like something between De Blob and Super Mario Galaxy. It's charming enough but probably not going to keep you engaged if you have SMG2 as well. Ironically, a man in a jetpack is supposed to be an eco warrior? Maybe it is a solar powered jet pack? Who knows?

So we won't be buying either of these games off the back of the demos but there is a small pleasure to be had by whiling away quiet moments by trying out a demo or two.

The High Street Experience

We bemoan the game retail industry. How is it that the cool world of games that independent blogs and magazines show us never manages to translate to the high street? The meatspace (ugh!) frontlines?

We were in London this weekend (in 'town' the cool kids call it) and the excitement around Wednesdays Kinect launch was zero because HMV had closed its demo area.

Also nice to see in John Lewis amongst the six DS games and five Wii games on sale was an amazing selection of 3D televisions with no 3D glasses available.

The future is poorly staffed it seems......