Home Upcoming Reviews About
Ethos and Riddles talk about video games...
            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

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.

Winterscapes Countdown #5 – Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime)

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Ethan has already begun his stupid countdown, so it’s time to begin mine.

Which, for the record, is even MORE stupid.

Regardless, we’re gonna do this. I’m a sucker for snow scenes, as I’ve mentioned previously. That being the case, I’m a sucker for snowy videogame locales. And because I own a website, I’m going to take the liberty of counting down my five favorite “snowscapes.” Be excited. Or better yet, be disgusted. As the title suggests, the first shout-out goes to the immortal Metroid Prime.

I haven’t talked much about Metroid Prime on Riddlethos, despite how much I adore the game. It is, quite simply, one of the most atmospherically masterful games ever created, and will probably remain so until the end of time. But given the nature of the list, I must restrain myself and skip to the point  - The Phendrana Drifts. This picture should help with some of the explaining:

phendrana

Pretty as the screen might be, it doesn’t do the Phendrana Drifts justice. Metroid Prime’s Phendrana Drifts is a cold, hostile place, composed of heavy snowdrifts and frozen lakes. The natural inhabitants are nasty enough, and that’s to say nothing of the “visitors” who have taken residence. Veterans of the original Metroid Prime will recall that Samus’s first contact with the Space Pirates – as well as the titular Metroids – is made here, in this snowy wasteland. Beautifully rendered on Nintendo’s GameCube, and dripping with atmosphere, the Phendrana Drifts is not a place to be forgotten.

For many people, Metroid Prime is a difficult game to get into – and that holds true for myself as well. When I first stuck the disc into my GameCube at the tender age of… er… 12 or so, I gave up less than three hours in. The punishing difficulty, slow pace, and unremitting bleakness was enough to turn me off.

A year or so later, I gave the game a second try. I picked up where my last save was, and soon found myself in the snowy plains of Phendrana. And I didn’t touch another game until I had beaten the final boss.

Winter is a nostalgic time of year by nature, and I hope to reflect this in my silly countdown. Be here tomorrow for more. And if you haven’t played Metroid Prime, then for the love of Christ, give it a go.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

HeyLookListenLogo

For some reason, I have a serious lack of motivation tonight. In fact, I suffered the same problem last night. However, I’ve determined the best way to overcome such lethargy is to actually open a text file and start typing.

So far, it’s working just fine.

Welcome to Hey! Look! Listen!, everyone. As always, it’s your darling Riddles here to bring you industry news as seen by ME. But enough faffing about; let us get down to BIDNESS. (That’s the cool way to say “business”).

Isolation is the word of the day...

Isolation is the word of the day...

Follow Up: IGN Won’t Drop the Citizen Kane/Metroid Prime Thing
Ugh. Perhaps you recall the segment from ABC I linked you to in my previous HLL, in which IGN’s Michael Thomsen compared Metroid Prime to the immortal Citizen Kane. I found the comparison rather odd, to say nothing of useless, and figured that was the last time we’d ever hear of it.

Well, I was quite wrong. Michael Thomsen has now followed up his brief appearance on ABC with a meaty article on IGN, exploring so-called similarities between Metroid Prime and Citizen Kane.

Regardless of the fallacies, the article is a fantastic read. However, the vast majority of it seems to focus on why Metroid Prime is such a definitive interactive experience. Why or how it supposedly translates the passive viewing experience of Citizen Kane into an interactive sci-fi action game is still somewhat unclear to me. I suggest you read it for yourself. Perhaps it will make more sense to you; if it does, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comment section below.

Michael Pachter Thinks the PS3 May Dominate the Holidays
Funny, I’ve been thinking this for some time. But now Michael Pachter, one of the more well-known industry analysts, agrees with me. Just listen to what he has to say:


“We believe that the recent round of price cuts may benefit the PS3 the most in coming months, given that unit sales last year were only 1.5 million for the September – December 2008 period. The Xbox 360 has outsold the PS3 for the past 13 months, likely due to a higher perceived value proposition (the Xbox 360 “core” model was priced $100 lower than the PS3). We think that the PS3 will outsell the Xbox 360 in September, and may continue to do so for the rest of the year.”

Beyond a doubt, the “higher perceived value” benefit of the Xbox 360 is gone. I was once convinced that the 360 was the definitive gaming console of this generation. The main reasons, of course, being the robust software library, and the competent price point. But unless you’re a zealot (and I know there are plenty of you out there) it’s clear that neither of those reasons apply today. The price points are identical, and the software battle, in my opinion, is at a dead heat. Can you point to a single notable 360 exclusive this holiday season that doesn’t have Halo in the title? And don’t forget, one of the two consoles sports a fully functional Blu-Ray player. (Kotaku).

ODST
Halo 3: ODST Sells 2.5 Million
Of course, that’s NOT to say the 360 is down and out by any means; not if the Halo franchise has anything to say about it. Within two weeks of release, ODST has pushed a staggering 2.5 million copies, despite it’s utter lack of Master Chief. (Kotaku).

On that note, if you’re worried about the Chief, don’t be. Microsoft’s Frank O’Connor is pretty sure you’ll see him again:

As for Master Chief, odds are he will be seen again. “I think that (his) fate, Cortana’s fate and the identity of that giant, dark planet at the ending (on the game’s hardest skill level) – that’s a spoiler – are probably big mysteries that would be irritating if they were just cliffhangers,” O’Connor says. “We do have a plan that goes out at least six years,” he says. “Eventually, it will become very apparent that there is a plan for the way the canon all ties together and the way the comic books and the novels all tie together.” (USA Today).

So, worry not Halo-Heads! Your beloved franchise isn’t going anywhere soon.

This is So Fucking Stupid: University Student Surveys “Gaymers”
A student at Full Sail University (essentially a game design school) has created a survey asking homosexuals what they would like to see in their video games. His name is Paul Nowak, and here’s his explanation:

“Ideally, I want to learn what exactly it is that gaymers want from their games and how that differs from their heterosexual counterparts. I’ll take that information to develop guidelines the industry can use when trying to make gaymer inclusive games that don’t become offensive or insulting to any gamer regardless of sexual orientation. If someone had done the same kind of research when the industry was trying to reach out to female gamers, girls wouldn’t have had to suffer through the wildly unsuccessful attempts of games like “Mary Kate & Ashley’s Winner’s Circle” pony racing. I’m hoping to help the industry avoid the same mistakes as it reaches out to gay gamers.”

Here’s a little tip to oppressed minorities everywhere: if you wish to achieve the acceptance you (supposedly) seek so desperately, stop trying to segregate, differentiate, and otherwise set yourself apart in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY YOU CAN.

Tell me, because I’m confused: what exactly would a homosexual want from videogames that a heterosexual wouldn’t? If this is about eliminating negative portrayals of homosexuals, I highly doubt we need a survey to accomplish that. Nowak says he’s attempting to avoid the mistakes the industry has made in reaching out to female gamers, and I applaud him for that. But what he doesn’t seem to realize is that those attempts failed on account of their very principle, not in their execution. Producing games that are “female-friendly” or “gay-friendly” is a sexist act in and of itself. This survey is utterly pointless, and if it accomplishes anything at all, it will be contrary to what Nowak is hoping to achieve. (Kotaku).

uncharted2
Quickie: Uncharted 2 Demo Sees 27+ Years of Playtime
Nope, I’m serious. Apparently everyone in the world except me has downloaded and played the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves demo. Naughty Dog co-president Even Wells has gone to the trouble of tallying up the stats, and here they are:

Total Number of games played – 1,217,424

Total Number of Kills – 92,110,787

Total Number of Treasures Captured – 1,860,645

Total Amount of Money Earned – $38,841,367,350

Total Time Played – 9,905 days (or 27+ years!)

I have a feeling that when the game actually hits stores, the numbers are going to be something to gawk at. Or maybe everyone will just be a cheap-ass and keep pounding away at the (seemingly quite robust) demo.

Well, my lack of motivation was seemingly replaced with an almost unprecedented strain of verbosity. It felt good to write all that, and I can only hope you enjoyed reading it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a Dead Space: Extraction review later tonight. But I’m not gonna promise anything, especially after writing all that. My creative juices can only go so far in one shot.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

HeyLookListenLogo

God, do I love The Office. The American version I mean, not that British knockoff.

Yeah I know the British Office came first, but I dislike it strongly, and belittle it whenever I can.

That aside, welcome to Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I STILL have not finished Dead Space: Extraction. I plan to do that, and then move on to Modern Warfare, which is my chosen backlog game to finish this week. The campaign is supposed to be super-short, so it shouldn’t take long; especially since I’ve already put a few hours into it.

On to the main event! Bit of an offbeat setlist of news today, actually.

FTC Ruling Might Affect Video Game Reviews?
The Federal Trade Commission has recently issued a ruling that may affect the way news outlets review video games.

The ruling states that “material connections” between “advertisers and endorsers” must be disclosed. Material connections being money or free products, presumably.

Speaking frankly, I really doubt this will have any effect on the way video games are reviewed. Why? Because I’m pretty sure a critical review isn’t considered an “endorsement.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

But let’s say reviews were endorsements. In that case, “material connections” might refer to free review copies of games, and perhaps even money earned from advertising.

But again, I don’t think it will have an effect. I just figured I should report it, since every other news outlet is jumping all over the story. (GamePolitics).

Citizen Samus.

Citizen Samus.

Metroid Prime Compared to Citizen Kane

ABC recently aired a segment that featured IGN’s Michael Thomsen comparing the classic film Citizen Kane to the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime series.

Yeah, no, I’m serious.

A bit strange, to say the least. I mean, as much as I like seeing video games given mainstream coverage, comparing Metroid Prime to Citizen Kane seems a bit over-the-top, to say nothing of… entirely superfluous. It was hard enough for me to take the report seriously; I can only wonder how non-gamers reacted to it. Check out the video yourself here

I'm failing at captions today.

I'm failing at captions today.

Interesting Note: Activision Didn’t Want Modern Warfare
It’s true! Activision was convinced that Infinity Ward’s concept for a modernized FPS was not financially viable. This is according to Vince Zampella, head of Infinity Ward, in a recent interview with PlayStation Magazine.

“Activision also did not want Modern Warfare.” Zampella said. “They thought working on a modern game was risky and ‘Oh my God you can’t do that, it’s crazy!’ They were doing market research to show us we were wrong the whole time.”

Well there ya go. 14 million copies later, I’m pretty sure the big shots at Activision have experienced a collective change of heart. (Kotaku).

On That Note: Apparently a Call of Duty Movie is Happening
This isn’t officially official, as it’s all based off of a few Tweets from Robert Bowling, Infinity Ward’s creative strategist. He mentions having lunch with the Hitman movie director, Xavier Gens. Presumably during said lunch, he tweeted “talking game films.”

Bah, bah, and bah. I’ll concede that Hitman was actually a notch above most game-to-film adpatations. But it wasn’t good enough to make me think that Call of Duty would be anything more than a generic war film shamelessly hoping to profit from its name alone. (1UP).

Yes, This is for Real

And it's awesome.

And it's awesome.

As seen on Wine.Woot

That’s all I got. By the way, do you like the big shiny banner/logo up top? I think it looks pretty nice, myself.