Archive for September, 2013

Shelter by might and delight

We’re supposed to use words to describe things.

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Shelter is a game by Might and Delight. Might and Delight’s history is unknown to me beyond their last game P.I.D. Which was a disaster in some sense, but a compelling one in another. Shelter is a far more focused game. You are a badger mom. Now I know you just went out and bought the game based out that fact alone, but maybe we should discuss the mechanics?

You know that little grey baby at your side? It needs food. Your cubs will starve to death if not given enough food and that makes up a healthy portion of the game. Shelter is not a stress inducing game, what it does right is realize the potential of ambient play. It’s also really really linear, but the linearity ensures you don’t get lost. There are a few thankfully small sections were the anxiety bird descends and the play mechanics change to scurrying from cover to cover.

Creatively the game derives from nature documentaries, Disney films, and Metal Gear Solid. Mechanics include a well done night level, flash floods, and using brush to hunt foxes. The game is more than it’s parts by a long shot. It is propelled by a soundtrack that’s indolence and any meanderings capture the experience of a nature walk perfectly. The outdoors are meant to be relaxing, Shelter understands that.

When you’re in the wilderness thought often ceases. Nature still provides enough for the mind to see that our attention often shifts elsewhere, we become attuned to the asymmetrical ambience that surrounds us. Nature is a form of meditation and Shelter realizes this. The game is as charming as a nature walk. It reminds me of a 3 day hike I took into the Grand Tetons, the stillness of that horizon. With ambient play becoming so vast Shelter does something important: it doesn’t risk atmosphere for mechanics.

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    On another note I recently bought SMB2 aka Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic from the 3DS eshop and am enjoying it immensely. It got me thinking about platformers and the way they ended up going. Yume Kojo is not an inherently violent game, each and every critter can be chocked out of the way, playing as the princess you can politely put them down in another space. This creates an interesting tension because enemies require skill to be squashed. The game preserves a slightly more complicated ecosystem of ostriches, shy guys, ninjas, and ninnies. The game also has some interesting mechanics, things pulled up from roots include bombs, a watch that stops time, and a potion that makes a door and what with those doors anyways? Do the coins in the alternative dimension do anything? I collect them like rare gems Hoping they increase my score a bit. Yume Kojo is a lot like Quack Shot, it’s not necessarily lethal and it also makes riding enemies a breeze. It suggests a different place platformers could have gone to a less lethal and more constructive world. One where gender is a choice, and platforms are cosmopolitan accommodators. The vertical levels designs still give me the chills, those pauses as we adjust to the next free fall sections. I love this game even if it’s not as adrenaline pounding as Mario Brothers be. I want to make a spiritual sequel with horses and dragons and mice, a gravity system, an insane race to awesome. So many of these ideas need to be fleshed out, but instead we’re getting a 4 player 3D Mario that looks awful.

    Also have been playing this game a bit:

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    It took a little bit to get it and I won’t get in depth this early through, but the hype is worth it on this one.

    September 30, 2013 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

    Two things

    Wasabi on a Zombie’s tongue
    The sensation so hot is forgets all about consumerism
    Are there pokaballs in your daesin?
    Does pretension pay?
    The blue sky is pleasured by a Samuria with orgasmic hands
    His erections lead the way.

    Also, this is a video game blog kinda. Might and Delight made a little platformer called P.I.D. Awhile back. There next game is Shelter and it’s really a serene experience, imagine laid back jazz motifs to a wilderness survival game. It works and I really like it, will update with photos when I get a chance, off to Phuket to surf till Friday.

    September 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

    Henry Fool

    Yesterday I wrote a poem
    And I got 26 new followers
    In Henry Fool a man writes a poem
    And gets over a million
    Is genius not in practice Mr. Hartley 🙂 ?

    September 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

    Life

    Life is a hegemonic bully
    that holds your head up to the tracks.
    It knows only Schadenfreude.
    Occasionally you mistake an eddy for mercy.
    You fall sleep exhausted.
    When you wake you realize you must go
    Through life with out sleep,
    while the beast dreams
    Only of your exhaustion.

    September 27, 2013 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

    For Kakao

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    An iOS game only has to compete against idle time. When you’re at work and all the work is done, you can boot up Plants vs Zombies and play all you want. An iOS game only needs to be better than another iOS game. So this week I have been exploring that most heinous part of gaming: the casual or social gamer. On message boards all over the net console games decry the social gamer. Social games are often seen as the bane of console fanatics. Numerous triple A publishers have sacrificed time and resources for big budget console chart toppers to dip into the apparently more lucrative world of iOS and android games. This has led to anyone who ever liked Final Fantasy 9 having to ball tears and sheathe with hatred after discovering the director of their favorite game now makes mobile crap.

    Mobile crap is the detritus of a market in which cash hungry or merely desperate, but surprisingly digitally literate, desperadoes shovel shit onto a mobile device’s App Store. These games are obviously rip offs of other games or perhaps there’s something there and console gamers aren’t seeing it. Try getting off Candy Crush Saga etc. regardless mobile crap is all the stuff you wish wasn’t on an App Store in lieu of your favorite game. In the midst of sampling these crap tarts I came across a shump that’s a bit of a gem. I have no idea what the name is though because my Korean has shriveled to a neuron in my memory bank and I think some sujo swept the rest away.

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    Ok so I have a small confession to make: I like big brilliant cartoony graphics. Really, they do things for me. This game makes Mario look like a noir, the colors pop is so vibrant. Another pleasure of mine are Japanese shooters that involve magical girls who often ride brooms and fight hoards of baddies. This game instead has you piloting a robotic cat submarine so double points for originality.

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    But what makes the game stand out is that it’s an endless shooter. Shumps often require you hold down the shoot button for long periods of time, hence this loss of a button is actually an improvement, more shooters should just simplify down to auto-shoot. Now unlike almost every other shump I have ever played my bullets have range. Your stream of damage only goes about 2/3 of the screen in front of you meaning that maneuvering is necessary. Ok so add to this a typical level up super powered beam thing and a distance tracker and you start to get the game. Oh yeah it also gets a bit tough early on and the waves of enemies become almost impenetrable after the third boss, so I am pretty confident practice of in app purchases are required. Probably the later. Additionally instead of being a bullet hell dodger this game is a school of fish dodger if you can damage them enough you can weave a path a through the game other wise you’re just going to have to dodge. Dead fish float in the water till a tap clears them causing bonus points and in the case of puffer fish an additional explosion.

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    For Kakao is how I found then, these little shumps are all intended to be used on a Korean social network. As far as I can tell none of them are beatable with out in app purchases, but for the 3 days I have before vacation begins they will suffice.

    But is that how these games work? Do they provide such small subjective and personal Utopias that cash flush gamers like myself end up punching lots of little transactions into them? Has the App Store fragmented our tastes and little niche bubbles pop up a FarmVille addict there a match 3 fan there? What mobile crap makes me wonder about is how to design a market place that rewards such niche markets, that dots every subjective desire with affection, but then requires them to stand in line with their nemesis? It makes me curious how hegemonies in the industry will strangle it and make it their usual plateau of influence. Big name publishers are desperate to dominate the mobile space, is their consistent and steady output of crappy games and ad campaigns intended to destroy the lush indies underneath who might have your perfect game? And let’s not forgot about those consoles. They compete with your home time, when home cinemas and 3D TVs could be equally demanding pressures as much as family or the joy of jogging could be. Console games compete against time that capitalism requires: your leisure time or the spending moments, it’s that iOS and Android have out a shopping mall in our hands and ask we spend our idle time more productively that worries me.

    Tried these two today:

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    I don’t remember the name of the game, but one is a really direct clone of a puzzle arcade game. The thing about the games is: I had fun playing two of them, so I don’t know maybe the console mobile division is a healthy separation.

    September 25, 2013 at 4:04 am Leave a comment

    In praise of fascism or Ni No Kuni

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    About all we knew was that Shadar was evil. His means were horrendous, in the family safe environments of our game there exists a condition: broken hearted. Shader imposes this condition, how exactly he does I do not know. He has never come down to impose it on me, and the condition is so common that his imposition of it must spread like a disease, people all over the content are broken hearted except one little area Shadar decimated where he left behind a single witch to carry out his heart extracting activities.

    Ni No Kuni approximately translates to another world. That is where the action happens in this game: in a fantasy land that connects with the “real” through a surprisingly wholesome mechanic of feelings. Why one world would be exciting, large, and quite adventurous and the other is a mundane town is another question. Does the excitement of the other world require a boring counterpart at it’s base? Is our world in other worlds a sedate pill from which fantasy suckles? Motorville is the emotionally regular plateau on which Ni No Kuni rests, an entire fantasy globe transcribed to a single linear plane of automobiles and country stores. This fact is rarely acknowledged in the storyline.

    Shakespeare stole from other stories. He told tales he had heard from others, but his genuis was in finding the reasoning and diversity of people residing in them. Anyone can tell you Hamlet, but who can explain Hamlet? Much less who can make an indecisive brooding douche bag into a compelling character? Ni No Kuni follows acknowledged tropes: you are the Messiah, “the one the prophecies foretold” but the game offers little explanation for Oliver’s actions. Your name is Olivier btw, your magical doll is Mr. Drippy (high lord of the faeries) who comically has a Welsh or Scottish accent so deep it becomes amusing. Ni No Kuni might be designed by Level-5, but it lacks Miyazaki’s magical ability to make relatable characters. The characters in the game are literally cut from stereotypical cloth. In the 50 something hours I spent in the game, it rarely stopped for characterization and even story moments while often uplifting are scarce in plot detail. Ni No Kuni has great design, but a puny storyline unworthy of the Ghibli heritage. This isn’t a case of plot by theft, rather it is laid out in so stereotypical a fashion the story is in the commons: your are the Messiah.

    As the Messiah Oliver espouses the virtues of kindness and selflessness. He is hardly as complicated as Buddha or compelling as Christ, rather he is plain and his philosophy hardly varies into the harsh reality of ethics. He is simply put a childhood fable, but one whose momentary influence on a child’s ethics will be shattered the moment a child decides to take a selfish act. Oliver acquires and maintains his status as the good guy by remaining “pure hearted” or simple in his ethical dimension. This is why Shadar is such a surprise.

    Ni No Kuni’s main nemesis is a wizard known for leaving his victims “broken hearted”. The broken hearted are enfeebled in such a manor that they can no longer accomplish basic duties like opening doors, adventuring, etc. Shadar attacks your group several times in the game, but never quite fleshes out as a character. Once you beat him the game attempts an explanation of his actions: Shadar was a soldier blah blah saw some atrocities blah blah asked to kill kids refuses blah blah is horrified by war and… becomes an evil wizard to stop war. Yes Ni No Kuni is a game in love with fascism. Shadar’s global reign of evil is also a time of peace. In order to prevent war Shadar became a dark wizard who intimidated an entire globe into acquiescence. I know. Way to go Shadar. This one little factoid might be the storyline’s defining moment. It’s the only thing in Ni No Kuni that provides depth to the characters.

    The Pokemon like battle system is awesome, in the higher levels your a.i. Driven companions can become a bit of a chore, but over all the affinities, the weaknesses, the strengths all balance out to a remarkably interesting team. Leveling up creatures to their final form isn’t a lengthy task and the game provides a gym somewhere to do it.

    Graphically the game is just amazing. Studio Ghibli’s creations are some of the most intricate and well designed creations in the history of animation, and the expression and characterization their designs provide are amazing. In the end players of this game will go in for this reason. The battle system is ok, the storyline is passable, but drops into the horrid at times, however the world is enchanting and the privilege of raising Ghibli pets is hard to pass on. I had a lot of fun.

    September 23, 2013 at 2:24 am Leave a comment


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