Category Archives: Editorial

Evening the Score: A SimCity Story

Rule 34 this is not.

When SimCity launched a few days ago with one of the worst features in the width and breadth of modern gaming – the requirement that you remain connected to the internet 100% of the time, even to play single-player – I knew we were in for trouble. With SimCity, there’s supposedly a lot of online perks to the connectedness, but come on – we know it’s just DRM to keep out the pirates. We’ve seen this before. SporeDiablo III. Assassin’s Creed II. Not a single one has turned out well for either the end consumer or the developer’s public image.

In the days leading up to the game’s public debut, anticipation was high. The review scores (based on “final” review code, but also on empty servers) were terrific. People were excited! But then the day arrived, bringing with it multi-hour queues to play a single-player game. And that’s when you’re even able to connect. Continue reading

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Spec Ops: The Line – A Complete Lack of (Dramatic) Irony

America the beautiful.

Dramatic Irony (noun): “irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.”

Video games are not movies. Video games are not books. Video games are not plays.

One of the many concerns floating through the minds of parents at any given second is whether or not playing violent games will make their children more violent. Because you are the actor in the scene. You are the shooter. You are the one running over the pedestrians with no consequences. And it’s fun. And it’s addicting. And you can have all of the adrenaline – the thrill of the kill – with none of the regret, none of the fear, and none of the pain. Continue reading

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Dark Souls, Cave Story, and Never Getting It Right

If you've seen what I've seen... you'd know this guy is actually super easy.

In a Mass Effect Renegade playthrough, you will have arguments with people. It gets heated and intense to the point that – sometimes – the game will make you kill the person you’re bickering with. “Wait, game,” you say. “I didn’t want to actually kill him. I just wanted to tell him what’s up.” So you re-load your save and do it right the second time. You practice a little self-restraint because the game taught you through your mistakes how to act to achieve the goal you originally wanted. This is trial-and-error gameplay, and it’s been employed since before the days of Mega Man. Alright. I’m learning, and I can do better next time. It makes sense to my logical mind.

That’s not how Dark Souls… is. Continue reading

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My Strange Addiction: NFL Shuffle

Shuffle cuz it's cards GET IT???

I’ve only fallen down the free-to-play rabbit hole a few times. Without this shiny new iPhone, I’d have never discovered the compelling, high-speed Jetpack Joyride, or the strategy/action mix of Kingdom Conquest, and I wouldn’t get so hooked on Prize Claw that’d I’d play it during podcast recordings. Luckily, I still haven’t tried a single Facebook game. This week, I would have probably played a lot more Dark Souls (or, you know, written anything) if it wasn’t for my latest makes-no-sense addiction, NFL Shuffle. Continue reading

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How to Keep From Becoming an Accidental Video Game Pirate

See cuz it's a pirate ship from a video game.

It’s time we all learn about the illegal stuff we do! This’ll be more fun than the time that 12-year-old girl got fined a bunch of money by the RIAA for using Kazaa… even though her mom paid for the program.

First, some background on the story blowing up my little corner of the internet today. Forbes contributor Erik Kain wrote about a “new” Super Nintendo game (since edited) set to be released by the end of the year, including a box, manual, cartridge, the works. I put “new” in quotation marks because, while Nightmare Busters has never been released in cartridge form before, lots of people have been playing an emulated underground version of it for years. This physical version is brought to you by the original copyright holders, however! Continue reading

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Nintendo Direct: Their Body Is (Not) Ready

Iwata Macks

A few things went through my mind during Nintendo Direct’s Wii U livestream this morning. Not a lot of them were great. The underlying theme of the presentation, however, seemed to be something put into words by Iwata himself: “not ready yet.”

We’d like to show you Bayonetta 2, but we’re not ready yet.

We’d like to show you our new 3D Mario game, but we’re not ready yet.

We’d like to release the Wii’s entire Virtual Console library on the Wii U, but we’re not ready yet.

We’d like to ship a game before March, but we’re not ready yet.

But you know what, Nintendo? We’ve been waiting for years. We are ready. If you don’t cater to your fanbase in a timely manner, they will get bored and find something else to do.

So let’s talk about today’s Nintendo Direct, yeah?

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Did You Know…? Wii U Edition [Updated]

Wii U: "YOU'RE IN THE SHOT!"

[Update: I added a few more things to the end of the list that I thought about after this was originally posted. This thing has a lot of quirks.]

When I first got my 3DS, my lack of research into some of its finer points left me occasionally dumbfounded at some of the decisions Nintendo had made regarding its design. Well now I have a Wii U. And guess what??? Nintendo has done it again. There are some things about the Wii U which, design-wise, I will never understand.

Did you know…? Continue reading

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LittleBigPlanet: A Funeral Story

Sadboy

My grandmother died on New Year’s Day. So just one week after I made the 1,500 mile trip from San Francisco to northern Minnesota for Christmas, I was back for the funeral. It was yesterday.

The trip was familiar. Same airports (SFO, MSP, and DLH), same airline (Delta), same in-flight snack (cookies), same gate (C20), same fast food restaurant that I neglected to eat at (Chik-fil-a). Same. Same. Same. Only the reason for the trip was different. There were no Christmas presents to look forward to this time.

I made sure to come back for Christmas because Grandma had been in rough health for years, and her steady decline made it pretty obvious that this would be her last holiday season. I knew when I left a week ago that I probably wouldn’t see her alive again. It was a sad feeling, but we could all tell she had given up. She was ready to go, and it was only a matter of time.

So when, after a surprising heart attack, she died three days later, it was only a little bit of a shock. I left for my parents’ house the next morning. On the way, I needed an escape on the flight. I retreated into video games. I retreated into LittleBigPlanet on the PSP. Continue reading

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The First Annual Digital Gumballs Game of the Year Awards

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

2012 is nearly over. Now is the time where we look back on the last twelve months and compare where we are now with where we were at the end of 2011. Personally, I’m in a much better place. A new town, a new job, a new giant plasma television… lots of new. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is just how few new AAA titles I’m willing to pay $60 to play. And then, two months later when they drop to half price, nobody even wants to talk about them anymore. So I don’t play them new, and I don’t play them old, but I’m still playing games constantly. A few have really sucked me in this year, and I need to recognize them, and you might even like to try them yourselves if you missed them the first time around. I’ll talk to you about them, I promise!

There were five games this year that pulled me in like few before (well… seven, but Dark Souls is technically a 2011 game even though I didn’t fall in love with it before this year because of Skyrim, and Picross DS is from 2007, although that didn’t stop me from playing it for an entire month of 2012). For me, it’s not about the graphics, or the sound design, or the game mascot, or the controls. The best games to me are the ones that most successfully make you feel like you’re in this different world. Those games that you dream about long after they’re finished. The games you wish you could experience again for the first time. Five games to change the world. Continue reading

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Why Do I Have So Many Games? It’s for the Kids.

Those aren't my sideburns.

My lady, sitting in front of the wall of games in our living room, asked me if I’d want to sell any of them. “No,” I said. “Not even…?” “No. I’m keeping them all.”

Sure, it’s kind of a pain when I have to move halfway across the country and literally half of my boxes are full of gaming gear. And there are plenty of games I’ve never even started, and plenty more that I’ll never play again. But why-oh-why do I insist on keeping hundreds of discs and cartridges from the last 30 years strewn around the house, in an ever-expanding tribute to my own obsessive geekdom? It’s not for me. It’s for my kids. I mean, eventually. Continue reading

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