Syl and Murf have been at it, both writing excellent pieces on the topic of the abscence of democracy in game design and voting with your wallet. Both articles take different angles, but are essentially about the same thing: the amount of say gamers have in the development process of the games they play. Because I have the urge to add my opinion to the discussion, let me throw in my two cents when it comes to the relevance of the “vox gameri”, or the voice of the gamers (Pig Latin ftw!)
Some say that tradition and innovation are polar opposites, but after a few hours of Bravely Default, I disagree. After reading Murf’s interesting review of Bravely Default, I became intrigued by the JRPG for the 3DS. The reason why Bravely Default didn’t blip up on my radar earlier was because, in general, JRPG’s are just not my thing anymore. Sure, Final Fantasy VII is one of my all-time favorite games and I was one of the few people who enjoyed The Legend of Dragoon, but nowadays, I just can’t be arsed by the grindy, unnecessary long formula employed by that genre. However, Murf’s comments about the quality-of-life features in Bravely Default got me, and a visit to my friendly local gaming store later, I was helping Tiz and his friends saving the world.
Okay, okay, I know what I said. I know I told you guys I wouldn’t jump on the next-gen bandwagon so fast. I know how I wrote about my launch issues paranoia and the lack of titles, and I still support everything I said. However, when the opportunity to get one arose (and trust me, it’s pretty hard right now to get one in Europe without having to wait for a month), I grabbed my purse, threw some money at the console and am now the proud owner of a PS4, two controllers and two games. Well, am I really a proud owner? Well…
Every time I slam down fifty bucks for a new game, there’s always one person in my circle of friends who says: “Huh, that’s pretty much dough for a bunch of pixels. Sure you couldn’t have invested that in something else?” Of course, I always reply that he should shut his japper and let me just play my new game, but the question got me thinking: how do you put a price tag on digital entertainment?
Personally, after buying a game, I always divide the price I paid by the number of hours I invested in it. If the average price per hour is lower than the price per hour of seeing a movie at my local cinema, I know that I got a bargain. Why compare it to the price of seeing a movie? I don’t know, it just feels like the right measurement to me. So, when I paid forty-five bucks for Mass Effect 2 back when it was released, and it turns out I’ve invested about sixty hours in the game, having paid less than a dollar per hour sounds like a real deal.
Of course, this is just my way of explaining to my conscious that I made the right choice. How do you measure the value of your gaming investments? Let me hear your calculations!
For the first time since my childhood, I’ve become a Pokémon Champion. Though I’ve dabbled in many other Pokémon games, Pokémon Y is the first title of the franchise since Blue where I have smacked the Elite Four and the Champion. When I succeeded just a few hours ago, I had the urge to leap out of my seat, run towards my mom and shout “Look, ma, I’m the Champion! I did it!”
Except that I don’t live with my parents anymore. But I leapt out of my seat anyway.
This childish rush, born from the victory over a bunch of pixels, was just one of many nostalgic moments on my journey through Kalos. In fact, Pokémon X and Y feel like both the next step in the evolution of the franchise and an ode to its roots. Being able to pick a Kanto starter already tingles my childhood memories, but when I notice that Santalune Forest has the exact same layout as Viridian Forest (and the exact low appearance rate of Pikachu), I have to look in the mirror to make sure I have a bearded face which is not covered in chocolate. Now, when I first saw my Bulbasaur in 3D…words can’t describe my feelings.
A myriad reviews on the Internet have pointed out the flaws and strong sides of the game, but I am here to remind you of how Game Freak has succeeded in bringing everything you love about Pokémon to the third dimension. Sure, the story sucks, the characters are cut-outs and you technically play the same game you played ten years ago, but who cares? It’s Pokémon, a formula that has worked since you were beaten up in elementary school for your foil Charizard trading card!
I might have moved out and left my mom behind, but Pokémon X and Y reminded me that I’ll take some parts of my childhood with me wherever I go.
Go catch ’em all,
P.S.: Yeah, this is the last post about Pokémon. For now.
When I received the text message from my LGS that a copy of Pokémon Y was waiting for me, finishing my work got really hard. Knowing that I was just two-and-a-half hours separated from my future career as Pokémon Master didn’t make waiting any easier, so when the clock struck five, I jumped on my bike, peddled like a madman and picked up my copy. About an hour later, I was knee-deep in the Kalos Region, kicking all kinds of asses with my Froakie and other living weapons known as Pokémon.
So, what’s my opinion so far? Visually, I’m still stunned by how great the game looks. Walking through caves with the camera over the shoulder of your character makes the experience more intense, and racing through the streets of Lumiose City looks far more impressive know that the beautiful buildings really tower over you. Also, seeing your Pokémon as actual three-dimensional entities in battle, with facial expressions and what have you, is a real treat. The moment I had to fight my first Pidgey, I pointed at the screen and shouted: “It looks just like the one in the anime, including that arrogant face!” My inner kid was satisfied, especially once that cocky pidgeon was in my Pokéball.
The gameplay is what you expect from a Pokémon game, but with a few major and minor additions. The big new features include Super Training, allowing you to train your Pokémon’s EV’s through mini-games. Next to that, you can cuddle with your critters in Pokémon-Amie, hand out O-Powers to people all over the world or dress up your character in new clothes. These big new features are all nice, but to me, the small adjustments really make the difference.
Two of those little tweaks are the changes to the Exp. Share item and earning Exp. when capturing a Pokémon. In the past, your Pokémon would not get experience from a battle in which you caught the opposing Pokémon. Now, your Pokémon still get experience, even when you put that cute little thing into a tiny, confined space. Also, Exp. Share is now an item that can simply be turned on. When activated, all Pokémon who did not participate in battle get half of the experience the fighting Pokémon received. It’s a small change, but it eliminates some of the grind from previous games, making the training of your fire-breathing, bubble-blowing minions easier.
So far, I think Pokémon X and Y take the familiar formula of the previous generations and put them into a revolutionary visual presentation. The new features and changes to old ones improve the game, making it more accessible and fun. At least, that’s what I can say being six hours into the game, on my way to earn my second badge (what, I’m a Slowpoke, okay). Seeing how I like to spit my opinion at random people from the Internet, you’ll hear from me again once I’ve seen more of Kalos.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Gym leader who needs a whoopin’.
I’m not a teacher. I tried to be one. A year of my life, I spent trying to become a history teacher. I loved the historical part of it, but I found out that teaching teenagers is hard. Really hard.
Really, really hard.
Since then, I’ve lived with the feeling that teachers do not receive the respect they should get. Many people live under the impression that teachers simply sit in front of a classroom, work through their plan and enjoy long holidays. When I listen to some people who know nothing about the profession, it sounds like only lazy or unambitious people decide to take up the educating mantle. Such words often come from the lips of those who have never seen a classroom from the other side of the desk, and who see their own office jobs as far superior.
As a non-teacher, and inspired by this brilliant comic over at ZenPencils, I want to voice my support for all the teachers out there. Whoever you are: thank you.
About a week ago, I had another great conversation with my friend Dis. Dis (which is just the abbreviated version of the nickname he likes to use) is a guy who ponders about the stupidest things, but sometimes I join him in his mad thinking sprees and together we can actually discuss some fascinating things. Sometimes we elaborate on the philosophical depth of the Manual of the Warrior of the Light, just to continue the next day with a topic like euthanasia. Lately though, we have been discussing an even greater topic: achievements.
Yes folks, those blasted cheevos. Since they have become a shtick of gaming, achievements have us doing the weirdest things just to get that “achievement unlocked” pop-up. We place masks on zombies in Dead Rising, enjoy orgies in Fable II or simply press Start in The Simpsons Game. Achievements reward us for both normal and really strange activities in our favourite games, and are a nice pat on the back for most of us.
However, Dis and I came to the conclusion that achievements also contribute to the “de-mystification” of video games. In a way, achievements are spoilers. Simply seeing an achievement like “Kill Boss X without using the yellow power-ups” tells you that Boss X will probably be hard, and it also states that X will be a boss. What if X is your buddy for most of the game? Haven’t the achievements just given away a really cool twist? Also, achievements tell you about things you might not know are there. Many RPG’s hide legendary items throughout the world, which you should only learn about by talking to NPC’s or by stumbling upon them. However, one look in the achievements list tells you that you get fifty Gamer Points by finding Glundragir, Bane of the World Tree (or whatever the epic sword in your favourite RPG is called).
Of course, one might argue that in a time where walkthroughs are free to get on the Internet and message boards analyze every aspect of every title, games are already de-mystified. Still, walkthroughs and message boards can be dodged, while it’s harder to escape from a built-in achievement list. If I want to like, I like to keep a new game exciting and mysterious, and achievements certainly don’t help.
What’s your opinion? Do cheevos ruin your sense of discovery and exploration, or do you fully endorse them, planning your playthroughs around getting as many of them as possible? Vote below, and leave your opinion!