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by Ethos

Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! #014 – STOLEN!!

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Oh lookit me! I’m Riddles! I’m gonna say that Ethos won’t write anything! Well fuck you! I’m going to steal that TGS Hey! Look! Listen! you promised. Bah-ha ha ha. Well, not every piece of big TGS news, just the stuff I care about.

Dear God, yes.

Team ICO Out the Ass: The Last Guardian Release Date

Finally we hear more about this ridiculously-anticipated title. People seem to be shocked that this was given a Holiday 2011 release window, but that comes as no surprise to me. In fact, that’s in the early range of what I was expecting, so count me as excited.

What’s that in the distance? Sounds like some sort of whistle. And now I see smoke? What could that possibly be…oh it’s the hype train! Full speed ahead!(IGN)

Team ICO Out the Ass: ICO and Shadow of the Collossus HD Collection!

BAH-HA HA HA HA HA AH! FINALLY! My life is complete! This long-rumoured collection is finally a reality. At first there was talk about it being two separate discs but has since been confirmed to be a single Blu-ray disc compete with trophies, the PAL ending for ICO, and even improved framerates, textures, and new widescreen framing. This collection is why humanity was created. (IGN)

Team ICO Out the Ass: Sexism Battle!

Remember when Miyamata joked about Peach not being playable in Super Mario Bros Wii because they would have to animate her dress? Remember when we all puked? Well as excited-out-my-ass as I am for The Last Guardian, studio head, Fumito Ueda was talking at TGS and even if his comments were meant as a joke, I still cringed.

He mentioned that the original protagonist for The Last Guardian was going to be female but because girls wouldn’t have the same physical strength as boys when traversing the environment, and “girls wear skirts”, they changed it to a boy.

Yeah, bullshit. I know that scientifically, the anatomy of men and women are different and strength arguments are occasionally valid. Like separating sports in the Olympics. But I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for a little girl to accomplish the same tasks as a little boy. That doesn’t sit well with me. And yeah, girls couldn’t wear Peter Pan-style capri shorts. That would seem weird. Fuck off. (IGN)

Muramasa and Odin Sphere Heavily Rumoured To Also Go HD

Sweet. This doesn’t appear to be a HD collection for PS3, but rather downloadable HD ports for all capable systems. Apparently Muramasa’s assets were developed in HD, so the process should be rather simple for that title at least.

I just hope the framerate is improved for Odin Sphere. I liked that game, but it was literally like a slide-show at points. That will need to be better for me to pick it up. (1up)

Unaltered picture of Bobby Kotick. Thanks Destructoid.


Ugh. Just when you thought Activision and Blizzard’s marriage wasn’t affecting the Blizzard side of things, Bobby Kotick goes off and starts spewing more of his famous shit about packing together all the cutscenes of
Starcraft 2 and selling it as a movie. Idiot. Seriously.

I mean, Starcraft 2 was just his example, but he talks about this idea like it’s the most brilliant shit in the history of time. Who the fuck would spend $20-$30 to watch all the cutscenes of a game? Certainly not the people who bought the game, and certainly not the people who didn’t buy the game.

There are reasons that these cutscenes are cutscenes. If you bought one of these “movies”, there would be major plot holes, it would all be high-intensity, and – oh yeah – THERE WOULD BE NO FUCKING GAME TO PLAY!

What a giant fucking idiot. (IGN)

That’s it.

Chalk up another win for Ethos.

In Which Ethos Melts Into Sap

Saturday, November 28th, 2009
Beautiful and sad.

Beautiful and sad.

There are many reasons I love living in Toronto. Number one, it works very well with my love for the underdog. Now, it’s arguable that living in Canada has, in fact, given me this underdog complex, but then it could be counter-argued that I live in the biggest city in the country and even the most American-like. But all nationalist reasons aside, I think I love the seasons most. Sure, I could deal with it if we managed to remove a month from Winter and place it…ANYWHERE ELSE, but I definitely wouldn’t want to remove the season altogether. The changes in climate, scenery, and collective mindset are so necessary for me. I love that the cyclical nature brings a sense of familiarity and nostalgia, but more importantly progression. I love that Winters remind me of previous Winters to not just comfort me with memories, but to feel proud or even discouraged when I think of where I am compared to where I was. Autumn, in particular has traditionally been my favourite. I love that the season literally brings about the death of so many things, but it does so with beautiful colours, smells, and the perfect weather. It’s more a celebration of life than anything else. It represents maturity and acceptance, but still vibrance and wonder.

But I’ve written too much about Toronto and Autumn without relating any of it to video games. I suppose my ultimate point is that I connect the strongest with any art – and particularly games – that can embody the same love of life in the face of death that Autumn does. Flower is a celebration of beauty and mood painted on a drab backdrop of melonchony and, penultimately, death. Shadow of the Colossus is the simple story of passionate courage in the face of – and at the price of – death. The most emotionally powerful Zelda games are the ones with themes of the celebration and eventual loss of innocence. Even Final Fantasy IX is an example of loving life in the face of death.

flowerWhat is it about this that resonates with me? I feel like it’s not disconnected from my morbid desire to see the apocalypse in my lifetime. I suppose I feel like Autumn and Autumn-like things best sum up what it means to be alive without making melodramatic sweeping statements. There’s depth in simplicity. There’s truth behind the beautiful celebration of life coexisting with the desperate struggle to stay alive.

All said, Autumn represents calm passion to me. It revives inspiration in me and resonates deeply in me when somebody is able to bundle up these thoughts into indescribable forms of interactive expression. It reminds me that life is more than just a zombie-like drift through life, and that even death is rarely a cause to mourn.

Anyway, that’s my vague ramble. The comments are there for your mocking pleasure.

“I Need A Cigarette” – Love Story Hits Countdown: #1

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

While Zidane and Dagger perhaps give us the best love story ever told in a video game, our worthy number one couple is the best love story ever experienced since every action taken in the game is rooted in love. Simply put, love is the entire reason for this game’s existence.

Mono_and_Wander#1 Best Video Game Romance: Wander and Mono
While I perpetually praise this game’s mood above all else – as Riddles touched on himself during Team ICO Week – I have to say that one of the first things that hooked me was the premise. Not just the fact that there were only 16 enemies in the entire game, but that the whole reason the hero was crazy enough to go up against them was that he wanted a shot at bringing her back to life. Yes, just a shot. Not even a guarantee. And while we tragically never see these two share a moment, there are a few important factors that give us back story so that we can emotionally connect to the story properly. It all stems from Wander’s proclamation that Mono had a cursed fate so she was sacrificed. In that simple sentence we learn that despite his culturally instilled belief that she was cursed (he says she “has” a cursed fate, not “she is believed to be cursed” or anything like that), he still stole a sword and made a long journey to an explicitly forbidden land. The weight of those decisions before any gameplay even takes place is very evident and carries throughout the entire game.

Bio-pics-0011-150x150To say the least, Wander’s willingness to battle 16 colossi for the mere chance of reviving Mono shows the intense devotion, and love, that he has for her. The player finds himself wondering what manner of relationship they had in the past – and why it is that Wander is so devoted to reviving her. The strange visions that Wander experiences throughout the game, in which Mono returns to life, only add to the mystery surrounding the two of them. The game is certainly not heavy on storyline, but the player will find themselves intrigued nonetheless.

sotc2Everything Wander goes through during the course of the game is done out of love. Every mile he rides, every monument he scales, every Colossi he slays, is done for love. I know that sounds horribly sappy, especially coming from me. But honestly, it’s true There’s no “love story” to be seen in Shadow of the Colossus, but it’s emphatically implied.

The ending is among the most heartbreaking ever seen. It’s an ending that has to be seen (and played) in order to appreciate; I won’t attempt to describe it here. But suffice to say, Wander’s hopes and dreams are far from granted. As the player, you’ll likely be somewhat disturbed when the true atrocity of Wander’s actions are revealed. And yet, at the same time, you’ll find it difficult to fault him. It was all done for the sake of love.

Shadow of the Colossus: Closing Thoughts

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

One of the largest among the 16.

One of the largest among the 16.

I’ve talked about Shadow of the Colossus twice already this week, and I’ve yet to touch on the actual gameplay found within. Granted, SotC is a game renowned for its mood and atmosphere, but the actual slaying of the beasts is not only brilliantly executed in terms of mechanics and planning, but yet another important part of the atmosphere the game creates.

Each and every Colossus is a battle to be remembered. The first thing that strikes you (unsurprisingly) is how huge these things are; never before has a game put you up against a foe hundreds upon hundreds of times your size, armed with only a sword and a bow. After the short introductory cutscene to each foe, it’s just you and the giant – and the frantic search for the key to defeating the beast begins. There’s no hack-and-slash here; each Colossus is a puzzle to be solved. The end result is always the same: after stabbing their weak points enough times, the beast will die. But getting to those weak points can be a challenge even for the most seasoned puzzle-crackers. Simply put, these fights are some of the most brilliantly conceived boss battles in videogame history.

Aside from that, the Colossi battles give the term “cinematic gameplay” new meaning. Each and every encounter is more than just a fight; it’s an absolute visual feast. Imagine clinging to the wings of a massive flying beast as it soars miles above the ground, trying its best to shake you off. Or holding on for dear life as a freakishly large watersnake dives below the surface with you in tow. The moments are impossible to describe, and nothing else in the world of videogames compares to them.

The game’s powerful atmosphere is present even in during the hecticity of the battles. The music, as I’ve discussed before, compliments the situations beautifully. The sense of loneliness is still present; despite how many Colossi you take down, each new encounter is a daunting experience. You’ll always feel woefully underwhelmed and overmatched.

One of my personal favorites.

One of my personal favorites.

Shadow of the Colossus is a game I could ramble about for many, many Team ICO weeks. But we have but one Team ICO week to spare, and that week has officially run its course. As much as I enjoy writing about the game, it’s really impossible to convey the experience through words and images. Shadow of the Colossus is something that must be experienced, not seen.

So, uh, what are you waiting for? Go buy it. And while you’re at it, sniff around for a copy of it’s spiritual predecessor Ico as well. Yeah, I know we weren’t able to talk about Ico this week (glares at Ethos), but it’s still an awesome game.

Goodnight everyone; I had a fantastic time Team ICO-ing with you this week. Now it’s time to honor one of the greatest Sci Fi epics ever told…

Shadow of the Colossus: Day 2

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Okay, I know Team ICO week is nearly over and this is only the second time I’ve written about Shadow of the Colossus. But hey, I’m doing better than Ethos is with Ico, seeing as how he never even managed to get a copy of the game. But as much as I like belittling Ethos, that’s not why I’m here today.

The game's main hub

The game's main hub

The last time I talked about Shadow of the Colossus, I used its musical soundtrack as a springboard to discuss the immense emotional power the game contains. The raw emotion that the game conveys is something that, quite simply, can only be done through the videogame medium – hence why I consider Shadow of the Colossus one of the single greatest arguments for games as art.

It amazes me how good Shadow of the Colossus still looks today. The game was never a technical marvel, even upon its release in 2005, but it’s incredibly distinctive visual style still stands out. The entire game almost looks like a faded, age-worn painting, which lends to the archaic element of the atmosphere – as the player, you feel like Wander’s story took place eons upon eons ago, in a land lost to time.

The land itself is one of the largest continuous worlds ever designed for a videogame. I can’t think of any other games in which I’ve spent so much time standing on the edge of a cliff or a hilltop and just rotating the camera, taking in every visual detail. There are no towns to be found in this world; only rolling hills, rocky cliffs, and ancient shrines that are beautiful even in ruins. The size and beauty of the world, in combination with utter silence aside from whirling winds, creates an incredible aura of loneliness. This loneliness is the main component of the game’s atmosphere, and it’s the best I’ve ever experienced. Titles such as the original Metroid Prime come close, but fail to match what’s been done here.

One of the single greatest animal companions in gaming.

One of the single greatest animal companions in gaming.

If nothing else, Shadow of the Colossus is a fantastic example of how graphics can mean both everything and nothing at the same time. As I stated earlier, the game is no technical marvel – character models aren’t overly detailed, textures can be blurry (which almost adds to the beauty of the world, but still) and the framerate tends to stutter from time to time. However, the stylistic design is so powerful that these flaws mean nothing. Developers would do well to learn that while hyper-realistic character models and flawless textures are more than welcome, without an impacting visual style, they don’t mean all that much in the end.

Look for one final post discussing Sony’s modern classic later this weekend. And if you’re good, I might crack open my copy of Ico just for old times’ sake…

Shadow of the Colossus: Day One

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

It’s been a long time since I played through Sony’s modern classic, Shadow of the Colossus. As Ethan pointed out earlier, I’m not really one to replay games. But a special week calls for special measures, so I dusted off my copy of the game (which, thank God, is the original black label version) and fired ‘er up.

The first thing that (re) occurred to me was the fact that SotC has one of the best soundtracks composed for any videogame, ever. The musical accompaniment to the opening cutscene does a fantastic job of setting the proper mood, invoking a sense of mysticism and wonder as you watch our hero venture into the forgotten land where the game takes place. Not being a fan of extremely obscure animes, I can’t measure the soundtrack against Ko Otani’s other works – but I’m willing to bet that he outdid himself here.

The soundtrack performs fantastically on its own – hence why I have it sitting in my iTunes playlist, playing as we speak – but the quality of the music itself is only half the story. It goes without saying that the mood of a game heavily depends on having the right music at the right moments, and Shadow of the Colossus succeeds at this in a way that few other games have.

Beware of blood geysers...

Beware of blood geysers...

Take the first encounter with a Colossi. After struggling up a sheer wall of rock, our hero Wander is greeted to the sight of two gigantic legs lumbering past him. Looking up, you see the Colossi – the beast you’ve been commissioned to slay – in its grand entirety. The music takes a slow, uneasy tone as we watch the creature walk away from us, unaware we even exist. The mood is one of confusion, and perhaps fear. Naturally, you wonder how, exactly, you’re to kill something like that.

Once Wander engages the Colossus, the music instantly switches to a bombastic, frenetic, and appropriately desperate tone. The fight has begun, but the air of confusion still lingers; you’re still unsure what to do or expect.

With a few good stabs to the leg, the beast stumbles to the ground. Once again, the music changes; speeding up considerably, and taking on a slightly more hopeful tone. Like yourself, the soundtrack is less confused, but still desperate.

Finally, after repeated wounds to the head, the creature falls. The music calms, and becomes almost saddening as we watch the peaceful giant crumple to the ground in death. You’re reminded of the fact that, fearsome as it was, the Colossus meant no harm to you – and, indeed, was content to simply ignore you until you began stabbing it.

The soundtrack may be one of the most essential elements to the unparalleled mood that Shadow of the Colossus creates, but it’s just one of many. Over the course of the week, I’ll be discussing them all in detail.

Project Team ICO Week

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Well here is the first non-completely-narcissistic week. I gotta say that I’m actually pretty excited. I’m naturally narcissistic anyway, so working double-time like that was a little difficult.
Anyway, to celebrate Team ICO Week, Riddles and I are starting a little project.
I realized that I have only played ICO through once, and – this is a little hard to admit – half of it was beat by my friend as we played through it together. I’m a little tough on ICO when I talk about it given my actual history with it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the game, but I criticize a lot of aspects that, to be honest, I don’t entirely remember.
THEREFORE this is my round-a-bout way of telling you all that I’m going to be replaying the game this week and posting about it every day.
When Riddles heard this, he decided he’d replay Shadow of the Colossus. I know that he shares my love for the game, but I’m not sure if he has played it as often or as recently as I have. I know that he’s not particularly the type to replay games, so perhaps he hasn’t…

EITHER WAY. Look forward to our daily updates as we replay these classics. We’ll also, of course, be talking about our thoughts concerning the upcoming Last Guardian.
Just in case you forgot:

King Ethos’ Top Five Games of All Time List: Number 3

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Alright folks, here’s number 3 on my noble list. If you want to see the full list so far, just click on the tag below, and you won’t have to sift through any of the other garbage on this site.

3 – Shadow of the Colossus
Next week is Team ICO Week, so I’m sure I’ll be going into more detail then, but for now it is safe to say that Shadow of the Colossus is one of the rare games that exceeded my high expectations. Loneliness and hope permeate the entire experience, and riding across the barren landscape inspires such unexpected awe and wonder. With the premise simply being that Wander must defeat 16 giant beasts in a forbidden land for just a chance to bring back a life of someone close to him, the world welcomes your imagination to fill in the blanks. Never before has such a magical land been so believable, and the unconceivable thought of defeating massive foes inspired such bravery. This is the only game that quite literally pushed me to the edge of my seat. My greatest moment in gaming is probably when I lept from my horse through a wall of sand onto a dragon’s wing and proceeded to soar up with the beast into the clouds. Unbelievable moments and mood.