Happy lazy entitled workers day!  We’re down a man, as Ricky is off enjoying the Mediterranean sun with his lovely wife.  In the interim, Gavin’s all up in this.  With big news coming down the pipe last week regarding the Nintendo 2DS, the Wii-U, and Microsoft effectively permanently lowering the cost of the Surface Pro, I’m wondering – how do you decide when you’re going to get a new device/piece of technology?  Do you demand shiny new hotness, do you wait for the reviews, or does your wallet do the deciding?

Friday, 3:35pm – matt

excellent, I look forward to the next topic, where I can recap once again the doomed dreamcast! 🙂

One game that caught me by surprise is called puppeteer, from Sony Japan Studio, you assume the tole of a small puppet who has lost his head, and can attach new heads throughout the game that give different powers and abilities.

looks very similar to LBP but takes place on “stage” which is kinda neat!

Friday, 3:12pm – Gavin

Hm, that gives me an idea for next week’s conversation – great ideas ruined by poor execution.  I’m sure we’ve got tons!

With one obvious, glaring exception (GTA V), September looks to be a fairly quiet month for gaming releases.  Of course, that’s perfect for GTA V.  There’s very little competition for it – NHL 14 isn’t a behemoth, only 20 people are going to buy The Wonderful 101, and Diablo 3 was released on the only system people would ever play Diablo 3 for ages ago.  About the only real competition for GTA V is FIFA 14.

The only title I felt desperately compelled to try from September is the PC release for the redundantly titled Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (previously released on XBLA in August).  It looks absolutely beautiful and has a very interesting mechanic – the game requires the use of a dual-analog controller.  The left thumbstick controls one character, the right thumbstick controls the other, and you interact with the environment through the respective trigger buttons.  It’s been described as “Single-player co-op”, which I think is a really neat idea.  It seems like it would stress your hand-eye coordination.  I don’t know what the actual gameplay is like beyond navigation and exploration – i.e. if there are enemies that require defeating, rather than simple avoidance per the below trailer.  But still, it looks really neat, sounds like it has an emotional story to tell, and is trying something different, which even if I don’t like, I can always respect.

Thursday, 4:28pm – matt

hey gavin, ill help fill the silent void that is gamentary this week. Ive had similar moments to the one you have described while playing the VITA on the subway, and despite the fact their faces are full of ice cream remnants’ its kinda fun…

Zelda is a title that I feel compelled to play not only to appease the 12 year old in me like you pointed out, but the gameplay mechanics are still on top of any other game I could or would want to play. Zelda rules.

Thursday, 12:19pm – Gavin

I had a momentary rush of not being able to wait to have kids yesterday.  I was playing Zelda: A Link to the Past on my phone on the subway, and a young child sat down beside me to watch me play.  He couldn’t have been more than about 5 or 6, but he was completely entranced by the game.  As I mentioned last week following GameOn, it was heartening to see all of the young kids playing older games, and the same held true yesterday.  Perhaps they were only doing so because the New Super Mario Brothers Wii booth was completely full, but still, hopefully they’re able to get a sense for where games came from as a graphical, technological, and social achievement.

Some games are simply timeless and can always be counted on to appeal to a certain demographic.  I believe that Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of them, and a huge amount of that is due to the art style.  The colours are obscenely vibrant without being distracting, the actions of swinging a sword, casting magic, or shooting a bow and arrow feel satisfying, like there are actual laws of physics being obeyed, and the dungeons and environments feel organic and real.  Contrast that to the original Zelda, for which I have immense respect as a pioneer of the genre, and you’ll find that once one has been separated from the pull of nostalgia, you’ll see that the original, while incredibly influential, does not hold up as well as LTTP.

As he was a child under the age of 9, I presume he was issued a Nintendo DS at birth.  Perhaps he’ll feel more pull to play The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds when it comes out this fall.  I swear, that game could be the reason I end up buying an (X)DS.  LTTP was such a massive game for me growing up that I almost feel like I owe it to my 12 year old self to buy that game.

Wednesday, 10:59am – Gavin

Hmm, a quiet week this week, it appears.  Through my daily internet travels, I came across an excellent video game documentarian, Noah Caldwell-Gervais.  He’s an amateur filmmaker, which is usually a big red flag for me as most people have no idea how to talk in front of a camera.   However, his video voice is spectacular – clearly well-rehearsed and spoken with love of the game.  Anyway, he’s had a thorough look at Half-Life and why it’s so important and influential.  Much recommended:

His videos are very well done, well-scripted, and quite informative.  Enjoy!

Monday, 9:00pm – Gavin

Sorry for the delay in putting this one up.  It’s the long weekend though, and I’m elbow-deep in a million chores.  I beat Portal again, because I just missed the game for some strange reason.  I’d beaten it already, but wanted to give it another go.  Still just as good as it was before, very sharp writing, but honestly, not as fresh the second time through.  I’m definitely revising a previous opinion I had, where I felt that GlaDOS was “too there” in the second one.  Hearing her lines in the first one, I wonder what I was thinking.  Why wouldn’t I want more of that?  The writing really sold the game for me.

I’m not usually an early-adopter – the Wii-U was the earliest I had adopted a system ever.  I usually like to wait a year or two for hardware issues to get resolved (RROD, YLOD, etc) and for a nice library of games to be waiting for me.  As I’m now an early-30s DINK, my wallet isn’t really the main concern anymore.  $350 for a Wii-U?  Paltry compared to the amount I’ve been spending on major home renovation issues in 2013, so it was fairly easily justifiable.  I do have a lot of respect for early adopters though, as they’re the ones who are effectively the test-drivers for the marketplace.  I was able to get a 360 that only red-ringed once (and somehow managed to repair itself) because a bunch of other people dealt with the hell of it first.

I also dived into Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Pretty much everyone knows what this is, but just in case you’re one of the few that doesn’t, it’s a survival-horror game from Frictional Games, a Swedish design studio whose previous credits include the Penumbra games.  You wake up in a decrepit castle with amnesia (shocker), and you must discover who you are and why you’re there.  On the way, you see some standard horror-movie cliché stunts, but I’m about one and a half hours into the game now, and Frictional has really turned up the heat.  For those who have played it, I’m in the water level.  The game starts fairly slowly, employing some standard and some great horror mechanics.  Lights flicker, doors burst open, some silly jump scares like that.  But the game really, really excels at atmosphere.  Odd sounds can be heard throughout the castle, and you constantly expect something to jump out at you, and it just never does.  As it’s a survival-horror game, you can surely expect something to chase after you, providing the game with a lose-state.  But you don’t come across that thing for quite some time – an hour, maybe, if you’re an exploratory type.  In fact, for the first hour and a half, you only come across two different monsters just kind of ambling around, and the preservationist in me decided not to give chase to see what was up.  It could be that the events were scripted – there are a few scripted audio sequences giving you a ton of exposition – but it’s a very patient game, without boring you.  It keeps you on your toes, for sure.  In addition to the typical systems associated with survival-horror games – health, inventory, environmental interaction, etc, Frictional added in another dimension of sanity.  It’s not an entirely unique mechanism in that other games have definitely barked up that tree before (I believe Eternal Darkness did it as well, several years prior), but this is the first for me.  Basically, you have a limited amount of lamp oil and tinderboxes with which you may light your way, and they are very rare in the environment.  Light attracts attention but it makes the world more navigable.  However, if you choose to run around in the darkness, you quickly start to drop your sanity, which has physical ramifications on your screen – perspective gets warped, like you’re looking in a mild funhouse mirror.  Bugs start to crawl on the screen.  Blood starts to ooze from the wall.  It’s a great mechanic that helps immerse you in the game.  Survival-horror isn’t really my bag, but everyone had been talking about Amnesia as being the scariest game of all time, so I needed to know what that was.  It’s remarkably creepy, though nothing has made me scream yet.  I do feel an immense sense of tension, especially in the water level.  I noped my way right out of there once I saw the “thing” coming at me.  And that’s why I started playing Portal again.

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