In an age when internet access has been deemed a utility as crucial to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as electricity, it’s tough to imagine a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One left unconnected to Al Gore’s pièce de résistance. It’s like gaming with the Amish.
Believe it or not, I'm on my third copy of Sonic Shuffle. It’s a game I've played so much that the discs show their wear, back when review scores didn't influence purchases as persuasively as rentals and when game reception wasn't trapped in bubbles enforced by online commentary. When I later discovered that this game I loved got hammered with criticism, I was puzzled by negativity I felt was unwarranted. Some insist Sonic Shuffle is a Mario Party rip-off, unoriginal and dominated by fault-ridden gameplay. I see things differently.
Blizzard's name is an aptly-chosen one; this titanic game company is famous for its glacial development pace. New Blizzard projects usually have lengthy gaps between them, with release dates rarely getting mentioned until the product is finished and ready to ship. While it can be frustrating for fans to have to wait interminably long, this relaxed speed brings with it a creative atmosphere and quality games— as Shigeru Miyamoto so famously said, "A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever." Overwatch marks the newest entry in the Blizzard library (and their first all-new intellectual property in over a decade), so let's take a moment to go back through the brightest points in the history of these legendary game-makers to better understand why their newest game garners such eager anticipation.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a quiet achievement in Nintendo's library: an overlooked mystery game for the DS that felt like it belonged on the system, but still only "quiet" for being relatively unknown to most. Following the format of a visual novel, Hotel Dusk was heavy on dialogue with a story laden with secrets, but its gameplay was in line with a point-and-click with elements of risk similar to Broken Sword, as well as the occasional puzzle treatment. This blend made for a compelling and suspenseful detective story, one that nailed a 70s-themed noir art style.
The games may be original, but their covers were total rip-offs!
After two years in existence, the newest PAX is still relatively small. There are few big-name publishers exhibiting on the show floor, with many of the biggest booths belonging to hardware companies like Intel, Alienware, and Astro. There aren’t as many prominent figures in gaming walking the halls of the Henry B. González Convention Center in downtown San Antonio, TX. And the expo floor certainly isn’t as big and sprawling as PAX’s counterparts in Boston and Seattle. PAX South is a low-key show, for sure, but that’s all part of its charm.
Morality is a gray matter, a deep entity, and a thing that doesn't stop at the surface. It's also a subject that video games have played with constantly. Whether it was the evil Dragonlord presenting the hero with a choice to join his side at the end of Dragon Warrior in 1986 or Geralt choosing to sacrifice or save a dear friend in the more recent Witcher 3, video games have been attempting to capture the complexity of moral dilemma as a flexible mechanic for decades. The degree to which a game will go to accomplish that widely varies, but even the highest caliber releases supposedly punctuated by a choice-driven environment face a problem. Have games made choices truly matter? Can games capture the full effect of emotional baggage without sacrificing what makes a game fun? I’m not so sure they have yet.
This wave of customized amiibos by fans from all over is a positive and beautiful symptom of Nintendo’s first stab at mainstream gaming relevance in what feels like forever.
The “game over” screen has long been an experience that every gamer is familiar with. This dreaded ending to a gaming session is the most widely used example of a failure state.
I had planned to collect the entire Super Smash Bros. line before backing away and being more selective about my amiibo purchases. I had successfully avoided the NFC figure initiative until now because I'm a longtime Smash player and these are too cool to pass up. Notice I said I had planned to collect the entire Smash Bros. line. That goal is now in jeopardy, and not through any fault of my own.