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.

The Five Sexiest Dudes in Gaming – #4: Link

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Link has gone through many forms in his long career. And unlike the titular character, Zelda, the majority of his designs are good (let’s face it, Zelda is only really sexy in Twilight Princess). But like all the characters in both lists, Link is not just about his good looks. Link is naturally attractive because of his courage and innocence – prevalent themes in many of the games. He charms everybody from a plethora of women his age to the many bizarre adults he meets on his adventures. Link just draws people to him.

Let’s not forget the fact that he is resourceful and talented. Link swings and slices and battles and solves puzzles, and even travels through time. He may never speak, but the guy is capable of more personality than a lot of modern day video game heroes.

Take Ocarina of Time. When Link first comes face to face with Ganondorf, the ten year old child takes out his sword and shield against an enemy with unthinkable power. A bit of a stupid move, maybe, but undoubtedly brave and iron-willed. Of course, we’re not going to go quite so far as to start to call ten year old boys sexy, but those positive personality traits carry over to adult Link and his undeniably badassery.

Everybody wants to be Link in Link’s world, and in his world every woman wants him. He might be the strong and silent type, but he’s also mysterious and clever. Like Riddles and Cloud, there’s nothing else to say but to admit that Link is a beautiful man. Our next few dudes on the list might prove to be a bit more verbose, however…

But first, Riddles will bring you #4 on our sexy chicks list. Predictions? Hopes?

Hey! Look! Listen! #54

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Oh, hey! It’s this column!

I know I only missed a week, but it feels… longer. But, then again, last week felt like it lasted for 327 years, so that might be why. In any case, I’m back, and sincerely happy to be here. I have seen the world outside, and it’s a far less pleasant place than Riddlethos.

Generally speaking.

I actually *don’t* have Alan Wake at this exact moment, but that’s only because I rushed home to begin work on this very article. Still grabbing it tonight, and I’ll have impressions up by tomorrow evening at the latest. Or, if I’m feeling crazy enough, tonight. (Don’t count on that one, though. Just throwing it out there. To torture you.)

Final Fantasy XIII Sells 5.5 Million, Square Enix Has Record Year

I didn’t realize until now, but during its 2009-2010 fiscal year, Square Enix released a numbered Dragon Quest, a numbered Final Fantasy, and two Kingdom Hearts games. The result? Money, and lots of it.

In an earnings report today, Square Enix announced that their games division had seen a 128.4 % increase in sales over the previous year, to 109,949 million yen. Operating income went up 254% over the previous year to 23,814 million yen. All considered, it’s the best fiscal year they’ve had since the Square and Enix merger in 2003.

Impressive, eh? You can thank Final Fantasy XIII, sad as that is to say. It’s sold a combined 5.55 million units since its release in Japan last year. Perhaps even more absurd, though, is the four million strong that Dragon Quest IX pushed – seeing that it was only released in Japan.

So, despite the apparent loss of their ability to make good RPGs, Square Enix isn’t going anywhere. And that’s all I’m really taking away from this. (IGN)

Square Enix “Looking Into” Releasing Vs. XIII on 360

Totally called this. Not that it’s much of a “call” these days. Publishers tend to release games on multiple platforms. It makes sense, and it’s not as difficult to do as it (apparently) once was.

During an investor meeting, in which financial matters (such as those in the story above) were being discussed, Square Enix’s president Yoichi Wada had this to say concerning Final Fantasy Vs. XIII’s multiplatform-ness:

“We’ll be looking into it internally until right before the formal announcement.”

Looking into it. Alrighty then. You know what I’d like to see, now that I think about it? A breakdown of how many copies that Final Fantasy XIII sold on the 360. I have a feeling that, if I could see one, I might be able to predict their decision. (VG247)

Aggregate Ranking Roundup: Alan Wake, Prince of Persia, Red Dead Redemption

As you’ve likely gathered, it’s Alan Wake Week here at Riddlethos. But, Alan wasn’t the only contender for the “honor” – a certain Prince and an assortment of outlaws from the Old West made fine arguments in their favor. Now that the week is here, how exactly are the three games faring in the critical realm?

Sitting comfortably on the first place position is Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. It’s currently holding down a 95.79% aggregate score on GameRankings. (It’s worth noting, I suppose, that the PS3 version only has a 93.36%). Impressive. Most impressive. Only based on twelve reviews at this point, but still. Maybe we should have made this Red Dead Week. Oh well.

Coming in at number two is our very own Alan Wake, with an aggregate score of 84.40% And that’s based on 40 reviews. Solid. Quite solid. I’m excited to judge for myself.

And, at number three, everyone’s favorite Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands with a 76.00%. That’s only based on five reviews, yes, but… disappointing? The reviews are actually largely positive. But, frankly, when I play Prince of Persia, I’m expecting a masterpiece. Then again, after 2008’s rather underwhelming reboot, maybe I… shouldn’t. Ah well. I’ll buy it and play for myself eventually; frankly, I’m hoping it drops in price as quickly as the last game did.

Aw, C’mon: Mass Effect 2’s Mining Streamlined

I didn’t do a whole lot of mining in Mass Effect 2, which I know did me no favors. (You gotta do it if you want to get higher-level weapon upgrades.) However, the reason I didn’t do much mining in Mass Effect 2 is because it was slow. Very. Very. Slow. It was actually kinda fun in an odd way, but god damn… was it ever slow.

Anyway. I think you catch my drift. The reason I’m writing this story is because BioWare released a patch for the 360 version of Mass Effect 2 (PC patch coming soon, supposedly) that addresses this exact issue. And according to Gaming Today’s Phil Owen, “The scanner now moves very quickly, and the scanner itself is much larger… talk about streamlining.”

Well fuck. That would have been nice four months ago, BioWare. Then, maybe then, I could have acquired that awesome [insert high level something or other here] that I always fucking wanted. (Gaming Today)

Oh, For Fuck’s Sake: Nintendo Attempting to Make New Zelda “Easier to Play”

I haven’t been reminded of this fact terribly often lately, but it remains: I hate, hate, hate, hate Nintendo. So much. So much. So. Much. It started with childish gimmicks like motion controls. Then it was instructional DVDs teaching us how to play games. And now? Well, now they’re taking my once-favorite franchise of all time and… doing god-knows-what. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.

Shigeru Miyamoto, the man who created Zelda, was recently speaking with a German gaming site Gaming Media about the illustrious, unreleased Zelda title for the Wii. (1UP transcribes). During said interview, he claimed that Nintendo was “creating a new way to play the game.” Excitement? No. Definitely not excitement. Why? Here’s why:

“We are trying to make Zelda, which has become very complicated, easier to play.”

Complicated? Complicated?! Complicated?!

Pardon me while my mind explodes.

Ahh, that’s better.

Okay, maybe I’m thinking of the wrong Zelda here. You know, the fucking bread-and-butter of action-adventure games? Crawl dungeons, fight baddies solve puzzles? Again: bread-and-butter. BREAD AND FUCKING BUTTER.

BREAD AND BUTTER IS NOT COMPLICATED.

Oh man. I just… have no words. Link… what are they doing to you over there?

It’s just… I have these awful mental images of everyone’s favorite Hero of Time being chronically sodomized by grinning, aging Japanese businessmen. For a while, I imagined Miyamoto merely sitting on the sidelines and watching; perhaps with a sort of subdued distaste. But now? Well, now’s he’s part of the action. And I just can’t handle that.

…and now that I have concluded the most disgusting tangent ever written on Riddlethos.com, I will take my leave. Goodnight, everyone. Enjoy the mental imagery.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

HLLfinal

What ho, loyal followers, and welcome to the Thursday edition of Hey! Look! Listen!

As always, I am your host Oliver Motok, and I’m really tired for some reason. Sounds like we have a super-sleepy edition on our hands. I doubt it will make a whole lot of difference, honestly, since I’m skilled at writing in a variety of mental states, but we’ll see how it goes.

Onward and forward!

zeldaNintendo Hopes to “Surprise” Zelda Fans at E3 2010

I want another console Zelda. As I’ve stated on numerous occasions, The Legend of Zelda is my favorite videogame series of all time, and these three long years since Twilight Princess have been painful indeed. Yes, I know Spirit Tracks is forthcoming, but it will likely just whet my appetite further for a true console release.

But there is hope! Speaking to UK’s Official Nintendo Magazine, producer Eiji Aonuma had this to say:

“I hope that we can show you something at the E3 show next year, and it is something we are hopeful will be surprising.”

Nice. I’m hopeful as well. I mean, that’s pretty vague, but I’m willing to latch onto anything at this point. He went on to say this:

“…we have been trying something new in terms of the structure of the Wii version of the new Zelda game this time. I am really hopeful that people will be surprised with the changes we have implemented for this Wii version.”

Yeah, me too. Man, I really AM tired. That wasn’t even a real news story, was it… sigh.

no-more-heroesNo More Heroes Coming to PS3, 360

Nice. VERY nice. I’ve yet to play No More Heroes on the Wii, and I might as well wait for the sure-to-be-prettier version now. According to some Famitsu screens that surfaced on Wii@Everyday, Suda 51’s critically acclaimed action game will soon be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3. No real details have been announced, but it’s definitely happening. Woo!

Sony Launches the PlayStation 2 In Brazil

No, it’s not a misspell. Poor Brazil, so behind the times. Regardless, I’d be happy for them, but it reportedly costs R$799, which roughly equals USD $465.

Four hundred and sixty-five dollars. To buy a PlayStation 2 in Brazil. Just when you thought you’d heard it all, eh?

I apologize for this disgustingly short HLL, but frankly there isn’t much happening in the gaming world today. And, as I’ve stated before, I’m really damn tired. But don’t fret, I’m sure I’ll be back to form soon. Look for a full review of Assassin’s Creed II soon, and of course, another Hey! Look! Listen! on Tuesday next.

When I Think Swords and Sorcery, I Think Of…

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Hmm, that’s a good question actually.

As you’re surely aware, this week at Riddlethos.com we are honoring all that has to do with Swords and Sorcery. Granted, I know that’s a pretty generalized statement. So, in the interest of establishing a sharper focus, let’s tackle the question: what comes to mind when the phrase “Swords and Sorcery” is uttered?

I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but for me, the first thing that jumps to mind (perhaps unsurprisingly) is J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. My first exposure to true fantasy was, by my memory, The Hobbit, which my dad read to me and my siblings way back in the day. Bilbo’s epic quest for gold was what started my ongoing love affair with all things magical.

As much as I’d like to discuss the rich mythology of Middle Earth, from the books all the way up to Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy, Riddlethos happens to be a gaming-centric site. That being the case, let’s list off a few games that, in my opinion, evoke the classic fantasy vibe that this week is all about.

ootThe Legend of Zelda

Well, this is a no-brainer. It’s fairly common knowledge that The Legend of Zelda is my favorite series of all time. Why? Because despite how simplistic the plotlines are, no other game evokes the feel of an epic quest so beautifully. Every time I step into Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field, I’m instantly awash with the feeling that it’s up to me, Link, to save the world. And, of course, the princess. Simplistic, but oh, so epic.

Fire Emblemfireemblem

I know this series is a bit of an acquired taste, but I happen to have a great deal of affection for it. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for the GBA was my introduction to the series, and I’ve been a fan ever since. And for what it’s worth, I maintain the opinion that Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the best Wii game to date. Each and every Fire Emblem puts you in the shoes of a commander, leading a gigantic army against… another gigantic army. Kings, knights, mages, dragons… it just doesn’t get much more epic than that. It’s fantasy in its purest form.

lotrgbaThe Lord of the Rings – GBA

Okay, this is a weird one, I know. Is there ANYONE out there who played EA’s two Lord of the Rings games for the Game Boy Advance? I’m not talking about the console iterations, (although those are decent as well) but specifically the GBA versions of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Yes, I know they’re movie spin-offs, and most of you probably rejected them based on that criteria alone. But damned if these Diablo knock-offs aren’t a hell of a lot of fun to play. When I say “knock-off,” it’s really more of a compliment than anything else. Take Diablo’s hack ‘n slash/lootfarming gameplay, put it against the backdrop of Middle Earth, throw in some heavily digitized Howard Shore compositions, and what do you have? Pure fantasy awesomeness in the palm of your hand. Don’t judge me until you try ‘em for yourself.

Diablodiablo

Frankly, I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Blizzard’s classic Diablo series, but I decided to throw it up here for a few reasons. First and foremost, it certainly fits the Swords and Sorcery bill. I’ve yet to play Diablo II, and I only made it through six levels of the original game, but nonetheless, there’s something amazingly endearing – to say nothing of addicting – about the experience. The game is Swords and Sorcery – you explore a dark dungeon filled with nasties, killing them one by one with, you guessed it, either swords or sorcery. There’s not much plot to speak of, but there’s a hell of a lot of charm. The town of Tristram is a place that will probably be stuck in my memory forever, and I say that in a good way.

Well, there you go. The question now, of course, is this: which of these games will I deem worthy of my time during Swords and Sorcery Week? All of them? One of them? A few? As I mentioned earlier, I never did get around to trying out Diablo II. Perhaps I’ll give that one a shot. (Though I understand it’s a bitch to install and run on Vista.) Also, it’s been a good while since I tried my hand at a Zelda game, so perhaps a return to Hyrule is in order.

What do you think? And, more importantly, what games do YOU think of when you hear the words Swords and Sorcery?