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Ethos and Riddles talk about video games...
            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Super Mario 3DS

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

It’s announced. It’s in 3D in both senses.
Is that logo hinting at Raccoon Mario’s return?
New theme week coming tonight. What will be next week? Dragon Age or Pokémon?

…obviously Pokémon.


Scatter Storming. Issue #045

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

We’re here, we’re creepin’ up on the ol’ 50 mark. How will Scatter Storming handle such an honour? We all know it will be disappointing, but in WHICH WAY will it be disappointing? That is the question. Anyhoo this is Issue 45, not 50, so I have the Ocarina of Time challenge that I talked about earlier today to get to.

Soooo, let’s get to it!

The Great Ocarina of Time Fail-Through

Earlier today, I randomly posted that I was going to attempt a one-sitting playthrough of Ocarina of Time.

Let me give a little bit of backstory first. First of all, it wasn’t quite as off-the-cuff as I made it seem. My roommate and I had been talking of a full playthrough for a while. He wasn’t as familiar with the game and I was craving to dive into Hyrule again.

I decided to play some piano and in the middle of the Kokiri Forest theme, my roommate says “Oh yeah! You want to play through Ocarina today?” So I got up, wrote that brief post you may see below, and booted up a new game.

Now, instead of relaying what actually happened, let me direct your attention to the prophetic comments that appeared on my post announcing my intentions. 7thCircle said:

Can we gamble on this? Can I bet that you don’t finish? Can we bet on when you give up? Deku Tree? Water Temple? The opening credits?

Cow said:

I too bet that you won’t beat it in one sit. You’ll get as far as the Water Temple like 7thCircle suggested. Then you will be like FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!11 And throw a baby against a wall in protest.

Screw you guys! I made it to the Fire Temple. NEITHER of you predicted that one, suckers. And I didn’t stop because I was out of stamina. I could easily beat the whole thing with the right willpower. But not only did my roommate – understandably – lose a bit of interest watching, and not only would the TV be occupied in a few hours for the Oscars, but I had some thoughts that were also foretold. 7thCircle said:

OoT might be a liiiiiittle long, though, and you’d be cutting out the meandering exploration that’s one of the game’s strengths. I don’t think sprinting through the temples like a spiritless machine will be much fun.

This is a screenshot of Ocarina of Time

I had these exact thoughts while blasting through it. While I was enjoying things like the incredible mood of the Forest Temple, and story points like the infamous bridge scene with Saria when Link leaves the forest, or Princess Ruto’s proud façade, I spent more time wishing that I could just dick around and waste time in Hyrule Castle Town or Kakariko Village.

I realized that too often I just rush and I was finally feeling the need to take my time and explore the game again. Re-find places and moments that I had forgotten. Which brings me to the final prophetic comment from Cow:

But… But why? Why would you do this NOW?! OoT 3DS is coming soon and it will be less impactful if you do this now!

Good point. Playthrough closed down. Resume later this year when I’m sure we’ll have an Ocarina of Time Week proper. And I’ve been waiting two years to have that Theme Week here at Riddlethos. And speaking here at Riddlethos…

Where the Crap is Lameish?

Seriously, I’ve even had people on twitter ask about the next iteration of Call Me Lameish. Sure, Riddles and I have been neglectful too, and Lameish has a band and is apparently leaving the continent very soon. Okay, so maybe he has some excuses, but Ethos however…

Where the Crap are the Remaining Awards, Ethos?

Yes yes. The Best Theme Weeks and Best of Lord Riddles awards still haven’t been awarded. They will be, shockingly, but obviously very late.

I had assumed that I would have easier access to a decent video camera given where I work and the type of friends I have, but apparently not.

Oh right, I plan to make these video features to make up for the tardiness. Also a video Spam Comment Roundup is planned. I would tell you to get excited, but I need a camera first. So let’s take the focus off my failures and put them onto Riddles…

Where the Crap are Riddles’ BttF Impressions?

The fool requested we extend the week because he still wanted to talk about the game. Well? It’s Sunday! WHERE ARE YOUR OPINIONS?! Stuck up there with my late awards and your late Dead Space 2 Review?

…Wow, why do people still read this site?

I guess it’s the watching-a-train-wreck-phenomenon

This is one of the great commentators for Pro StarCraft II matches in Korea

Starcraft II Update

Watching the GSL pro-gamers is still awesome.

I’m still awful, but slightly better than before. More to come.

OH RIGHT!

I started Warrior Within HD. It’s definitely a better port than Sands of Time, but so far it’s definitely not a better game. I truly can’t take it seriously. Women with massive breasts wearing barely anything but their weapons, horrible one-liners, melodramatic story without the sense of charm from the original. The platforming is more challenging, and I suppose the combat is a bit more interesting, but I’m not hooked yet. Especially not after remembering how much I loved Sands of Time by recently beating it.

That’s all for now, fuckers. I’m getting ready for Pokémon Week, and you should be too. Daily PokéParty Updates, and rabid fanboy impressions. I tried to get an early copy, but I didn’t show up to their event, so I felt like it’d be a dick move to press the matter.

Oh, and I was going to take a picture of me with my Bieber My Balls shirt for the cover, but I ran out of batteries for Oliver’s camera.

Oh, and obviously I didn’t watch the Oscars. I learned my lesson about award shows years ago. I’ll tune in if anybody I know personally is nominated.

BYE FOR REALZ

Challenge…

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Going to attempt a one sit-down play-through of Ocarina of Time RIGHT NOW.
Success or not, a Scatter Storming is coming tonight.

Dragon Age II Demo Impressions: Yeah, It’s a Lot Better

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

To all fans of Dragon Age Origins on the PS3 and Xbox 360, heed my words: you need not fear for the fate of Dragon Age II. In fact, if the rather robust and lengthy demo recently released on PSN, XBL and PC is any indication, you should instead mark your calenders and start counting down. It looks like BioWare plans to follow up Mass Effect 2 with style.

Strong words, you say? Sure, but I’m willing to stand behind them 102%. Let me explain why.

It actually looks, feels, and plays like a current-generation title

In fact, it may be the most aesthetically slick videogame that BioWare has ever created. Presentation values have been upped big time, and injected with a dose of stylization that gives Dragon Age II a real cinematic punch. Cutscenes are easily on par (and perhaps beyond) those of Mass Effect 2: well-acted, well-directed, and looking fantastic. Character models don’t have hyper-realistic textures like those of Uncharted 2 or Dead Space, but BioWare compensates for this with a mild cartoon touch to the graphics. It’s very subtle, to the point where it’s difficult to notice unless you put Dragon Age II side-by-side with its predecessor. But it works.

And it’s not just cutscenes, but all of the game that impresses. Not looking like shit through a grainy lense would have been improvement enough, but Dragon Age II actually looks quite pretty – I can’t say if this will apply to the entire game, but the areas I traveled through in the demo seemed much more intricately designed and detailed than those of Dragon Age Origins – which often suffered from a general blandess to its environments.

It runs better, too. Much better. No more slowdowns, frame hitches and obnoxious pop-ins. Even when the action is hot and heavy, with numerous foes on-screen, the game doesn’t slow down. You can tell it’s been designed from the ground up for consoles this time. Surely a sore point for PC gamers, but to exclusively console gamers such as myself, it’s a wish granted.

The combat system has been improved in every way. (Speaking as a console gamer)

But, we all expected the game to look prettier. The big question about Dragon Age II, since its initial unveiling, has always been its revamped combat system. Gamers (perhaps justly) fear that the newfound focus on action and gore will detract from the game’s more cerebral elements. Well, once again: lay your fears to rest. Combat in Dragon Age II is not only faster and more accessible – it’s deeper, too.

That’s right, it’s deeper, and it allow for a greater level of tactical control over your party. Like the original Dragon Age,  you can pause the action by bringing up your Radial Menu. Once you’re there, though, there’s a few more things you can do than before.

First and foremost, you can queue up commands now. Remember how, in the original game, once you selected an action from the menu, the game would automatically close the menu and the character would perform the action? Sort of annoying, right? Especially if you’re trying to manually issue commands for each of your party members at a single given time. Dragon Age II does away with this frustration by allowing you to select an action for each of your party members, and then close the menu to let ‘em rip. You still can’t stack commands, though. (i.e, select a string of two or three for a single character.)

Another useful addition is the Move To Point command, accessible from the aforementioned Radial Menu. In Origins, if you wanted to, say, re-position your Archer, you’d have to go take control of him yourself, and run his ass over to whatever point you had in mind. Not so any longer! Select “Move To Point,” position the marker, and the selected character will promply run to wherever you’ve directed him/her. It’s incredibly useful, and also necessary to overcome some of the more hectic encounters. My only complaint is the camera angle – it’d be nice if the console versions featured the ability to pull the camera back for a more tactical view of the map. Apparently, though, this is the bone being thrown to PC users. Which, seemingly, is the only reason we console gamers can’t do it.

Flemeth has drastically changed up her wardrobe.

Another notable addition is the importance of distance and space. You can move around the battlefield a lot faster and more smoothly in Dragon Age II. And that’s because it’s actually possible to avoid damage this way. Now, when a big, nasty troll charges at you like a bull,  you can do a quick sidestep. Then you can go start wailing on his back, if you’re quick enough. It’s the single addition that makes Dragon Age II feel more like an action game. To me, it’s a welcome addition – it simply adds another layer to an already layered combat system.

Dragon Age II may look like hack-and-slash at first glance, it’s not. Sure, you press the X button to execute individual sword-swipes, you can run around freely, and there’s lots of fancy, stylized action moves – but it only takes a few moments of playing to realize that all actions are still dictated by a very fast, unseen ATB bar. Kinda like Final Fantasy XIII. (Except you could see it in that game.) Mash buttons as fast as you want; the game is still essentially turn-based. It just does a damn good job of hiding it.

I could go on and on about this demo; if you can’t tell, I enjoyed the crap out of it, and it’s made me much more excited for Dragon Age II than I was prior. If you have a PS3, 360 or a capable PC with an internet connection, go try it out for yourself. I’m going to take this opportunity to shut up before I say too much about a demo. Dragon Age II hits North American shores on March 8. You can be assured that I’ll have much more to say about it then.

~Riddles

[...]

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Mr. Sunshine – “Heather’s Sister” Review

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

What a great episode.

Mr. Sunshine had a solid pilot and has since delivered two excellent episodes; each one better than the last. Tonight’s episode perhaps was less fun during the climax than it was during the ride to it, but it was the most I’ve laughed out loud while watching television in a long time.

Surprisingly, the best character of the first two episodes, Crystal, was played down this time and Roman got his turn to bring the biggest laughs.

Well, check that, biggest laughs tied with the very most awkward and hilarious blind date I’ve ever seen on television.

In fact, I was giddy almost the entire episode. Heather’s ability to put Ben on edge with her combination of being incredibly sweet and creepy is continuously amusing. Alice’s ambition plays off Alonzo’s sense of superiority well, and Crystal is just always just insane enough to provoke laughs.

I was mildly annoyed that they didn’t really seem to wrap up the fact that Heather was supposed to be leaving last episode along with the fact that Roman set a golf cart on fire. Maybe we were supposed to connect a few dots on that one, but a small reference would have been nice.

Still, Heather’s Sister was a fantastic episode with a great guest to play Ben’s blind date. If Mr. Sunshine continues like this, it is shaping up to be the best comedy this year over the not-as-impressive-as-season-one Modern Family.*

SCORE: 9/10

*Of course this doesn’t count Community, because Season 2 of Community will forever go down in history as one of the greatest seasons of any television show in existence. How have I not reviewed an episode of that show yet?

Hey! Look! Listen! #68 – My Goodness, but Hasn’t it Been a While?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The answer to that is yes, yes it has.

Speaking honestly, I’ve been questioning the relevance of Hey! Look! Listen! for the last few months, for a variety of reasons. But then I realized that it’s not just a problem with HLL; all of Riddlethos irrelevant. Also, I occasionally enjoy the opportunity to provide arbitrary commentary on the latest headlines that appear in my Google Reader. I mean, shit, why do I have a website if not for that?

So let’s do this.

The Legend of Zelda is 25 years old yesterday

It’s true! If Ethan and I had been aware of the series’ upcoming birthday, we might have tried to coincide a theme week or something; especially since we’ve never actually had a true “Legend of Zelda Week.” But, that didn’t happen, and honestly it’s likely for the best – since every videogame website and its grandmother will probably be attempting some sort of commemorative feature. For my part, I’ll take the time to say Happy Birthday, Link, and thanks for all the epic adventures.

Also, the original Legend of Zelda is a terrible game, and I refuse to play it even on its 25th birthday. I know it was the “oblivion of its day” (those are the words of  Kotaku and their ongoing celebratory feature) but it sure as hell isn’t anymore. </superfluouscontrarianism>

Have Some Old Metroid Prime Concept Art

Metroid Prime was a game-changer when it was released for Nintendo’s GameCube waaayyy back in 2002. Nine years later (god, it feels weird to write that. Nine years later?)

Anyway. Nine years later, this concept art is still awesome. Especially this one:

If you wanna see all four images, go here. It was found on the blog of concept artist Greg Luzniak.

Concerning the Dead Island Trailer

Much ado has been made of late about the Dead Island cinematic trailer. The thing’s more or less gone viral, and reactions have been remarkably prolific. If you haven’t seen it yet, please to enjoy below.

Slick, right? The unique editing technique, in which we’re guided through the events in reverse order, is quite well done. I can recognize that; but regardless, I’m not blowing my load like the rest of the internet seems to be. Why? Eh, well, I think it’s just a matter of personal taste more than anything else. The trailer tries to make the viewer emotionally invested in a zombie game. Speaking frankly, I can’t quite recall when the Zombie genre managed to bridge the gap between campy fun (at best) and emotionally relevant storytelling. I don’t think it ever did, for that matter. Know why? Because you can’t relate to characters of a Zombie apocalypse, because Zombies aren’t real. And neither are Zombie apocalypses. Despite everyone’s apparent obsession with them.

Hoighty-toightyness aside, Dead Island looks like it could be fun. For those unaware, it’s a game under development by Techland (the developers behind Call of Juarez, for what it’s worth) with a focus on four-player melee combat. So I’m getting an idea that it’s like Left 4 Dead, but with axes instead of guns. Which, like I said before, could be fun. And I’ve never played Call of Juarez, but I know it’s well-liked. And, while I know the world is currently obsessing over a non-representative cinematic trailer, actual gamers will surely appreciate this small batch of screens that recently became available. They don’t look bad themselves, I’ve gotta say.

(Kotaku)

Telltale’s Jurassic Park Game Launching in April

I know I haven’t said a word about it yet, but Telltale’s Back to the Future game is pretty damn good. This leads me to believe that their upcoming adventure game based on Jurassic Park will also be pretty good. It’s being described as “Heavy Rain-esque,” which may scare off some, but certainly not I. In fact, I think it sounds like a delicious combination.

It appears that the game will tell a parallel story to the classic original Jurassic Park film. Which is good; the other two movies didn’t do much aside from cheapen the narrative integrity of the franchise, so I’m glad the game won’t be taking them into consideration.

Oh yeah, and in other news, Telltale is working on a fuckton of new stuff, including videogame adaptations of The Walking Dead and Fables. These guys are on a roll.

Riddles Works on his Back to the Future Review

The speed and ease with which the iPhone can shoot video and upload it to the web is… intriguing, to say the least.

Sony Mehs Platform Exclusivity… Again… #randomcoincidences

Platform exclusives are becoming a thing of the past. I’ve been saying this for some time now. It’s not really a matter of debate, it’s a simple observation: platform exclusive titles aren’t nearly as prolific as they were in the PS2 days. Sony, in particular, seems well aware of this. About a year ago at this time (17 February 2010 to be precise), their Senior VP of Developer Relations had this to say on the subject:

What is going to be the driving force is either exclusive ad campaigns, like the Madden campaign, or exclusive content like we had with Batman. The PS3 version outsold the 360 version, and what we’ve said to developers is: ‘if you take advantage of what the PS3 can deliver – more content on the Blu-ray disc, better graphics, being able to get more of what the player wants onto the disc – you’re going to see those sales translate.

If anything’s certain, Sony’s made good on their word when it comes to platform-exclusive content; whether it’s bonus missions (ala Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood) or an entire game (Like the original Medal of Honor being included with the recent reboot, or Dead Space Extraction on the special edition of Dead Space 2) Sony’s been actively pursuing the exclusive content angle as an alternative to fully exclusive titles.

Earlier today, Sony’s brand manager for MLB 11: The Show had something remarkably familiar to say:

We work very closely with our third parties publishers, not necessarily to lock down games exclusively, but to lock up exclusive parts of games.

A good example is Batman: Arkham Asylum, where you could only play as the Joker on PlayStation 3.

When you make a title exclusive, you limit its promotional power; we don’t want to do that. We want games to be as big as possible — it’s great for the industry. However, we want to make sure that you play it on the best system possible, so we like to take parts of games and make them exclusive to the PlayStation system.

To me it’s just a funny coincidence that two Sony reps would say (essentially) the same thing, during the same timeframe, two years in a row. It illustrates a point, though. I think it’s safe to say that the platform-exclusive is a thing of the past – for now.

I can’t believe I actually watched this thing

I mean, I appreciate the point the dude is trying to make – specifically, that Treyarch’s online support for the PS3 versions of their games, such as Black Ops, is rather lacking – but did it really need to be almost eight minutes long? And more importantly, did I have to watch it all the way through? The answer to the first could be somewhat nebulous, but the answer to the second is a definitive “no.” So… why did I watch it? And… why am I posting it here?

Alright, I think it’s about time to wrap this one up. I could ramble on for a bit, but I’ve hit 1300 words, which is quite substantial.

Back to the Future: The Game “It’s About Time” Review – It’s About Time

Monday, February 21st, 2011

LIKED:

-Obviously a game for fans made by fans with help from the original team and cast

-Amusing dialogue and characters with good voice acting

-Glad to see new scenarios and not just a rehash of the movies’ plots

-Wraps up the story with subtle hints to ties with future episodes in addition to the cliffhanger

-The timeless soundtrack. Of course

DISLIKED:

-Clunky controls, unstable framerate

-Although expected: Easy and short

Telltale Games has been making a name for itself by taking beloved franchises of different degrees and turning them into episodic point and click adventures. They started off humbly with Sam & Max and then Strong Bad, but are now turning to large movie franchises that have a place firmly in most of our hearts from early childhood.

In addition to the upcoming Jurassic Park games, Telltale has just released episode one of Back to the Future: The Game titled “It’s About Time” on PC, Mac, and PS3. I played it on PS3, and have no point of comparison for the other versions.

The game incorporates ideas that were originally going to be in the movies. Like this one.

Anyway, the game starts with a nod to a classic scene from the original timeless (or timeFULL) movie, but quickly moves on to a fresh plot that takes place after the events from the trilogy. This was a big relief for me. I love the movies, but a retelling with such a different medium would likely not be very successful.

The first thing I noticed after a new plot was the voicework. While I knew that Christopher Lloyd was returning to voice Doc Brown, I was very impressed by the rest of the voice cast who had to imitate the iconic voices from the movie. A.J. Locascio does a fantastic job with Marty, and I was perhaps even more impressed by the work done by Michael X. Sommers who voiced George McFly. It was easy to tell that it was very important to the developers to recreate the treasured atmosphere from the movies.

In that vein, this episode seems particularly set on making the game feel right at home within the franchise cannon. Throwbacks and settings in the opening scenes have enough nostalgia for the entire 5 episode series.

In terms of the new content, the dialogue options are largely plentiful and largely quite funny. It’s worth it to not progress the story – even when you know how to – just to hear all the things the characters have to say.

Looks like Marty, sounds like Marty

Beyond that, however, it’s never really a challenge to figure out how to continue. Anyone with a little bit of experience with point and click adventures will have the common sense to know which items to use with what and what to do next. Still, this could be a product of an introductory episode, and it’s not as if the experience wasn’t enjoyable.

In fact, the only time I didn’t enjoy my time with the game was when Marty would start walking in a way I didn’t expect, have weird collision detection, or when the game had some serious framerate hiccoughs. The game looks fine visually, but I can’t imagine it’s taxing enough on the PS3 hardware to justify such lag. But this is a pattern I’ve seen with most Telltale games, so I imagine it’s just a result of some coding not being as tight as it could be.

That being said, the lag isn’t constant, and it’s hardly enough to be a major point against the game.

It’s About Time is a very satisfying Back to the Future game. It’s not about action, but – strangely – neither were the movies, really. It supports itself with wacky characters, memorable dialogue, and ridiculous time-travel scenarios. The point-and-click format can be a little frustrating, but it’s ultimately a great fit for the franchise, and this first episode shows a lot of promise for the next 4. And if Telltale follows in their own footsteps, the episodes will only get better from here.

Review Outline

Yeah, yeah

Monday, February 21st, 2011

It’s back to the FUTURE week. A week about a franchise about TIME TRAVEL. So who cares if we flubbed it a little, we can just extend it for a week or so and call it “back to back to the future week” or something gimmicky like that.

Because that’s what we do best around here. Cheap, attention-grabbing gimmicks. Fluff, in its purest form.

Ethan says he’s writing a review for Back to the Future Part 1 right now. I’ll believe it when I see it. As for me? Well, I actually have the day off, and I don’t feel like shit, which is nice. So, on a whim, I’ve decided that Hey! Look! Listen! will make its return today, for the pleasure of all. Why? Because I feel like it, that’s why. And if Ethan does come through with a BttF review, I can’t let him outshine me.

So, I’ll see you all in a few hours. Or maybe ten hours. It depends on whether or not I can finish before my iPhone 4 arrives in the mail. Eee!

~Riddles

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

GREAT WEEK GUYS