Saturday, 21 December 2013

REVIEW: Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

The terms "killer app" and "system seller" get thrown around quite loosely these days, however, It's actually quite rare for a single game to single handedly move a substantial number of systems the way Halo did on the Xbox, or Smash Bros. did on the Wii (there are of course exceptions, such as Pokemon on the 3DS). Furthermore, all three next-gen systems have had incredibly lackluster launches, with 90% of the launch selection either being already available on other platforms, or being "ok, I guess" at best. The Wii U has had a year to find it's feet (and some decent games), and I believe Super Mario 3D World is the console's first steps to greatness. That said it is still not quite a "system seller".

Meow!
Super Mario 3D World is the direct sequel to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS (a fantastic game in it's own right). Furthermore, it is the first 3D Mario platformer on the Wii U, and the first major Mario title without Godfather Shigeru Miyamoto's direct influence. So even before it had been released, it had some pretty big shoes to fill.

The feature that sets this game apart from other Mario games (apart from the cat suit, but we’ll get to that later), is it’s co-op (and sometimes, not so co-op) multiplayer. Yes, it has been done before in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but this is the first time it’s been done in a 3D Mario, and furthermore, it brings back the unique abilities of Peach, Luigi, Toad and Mario from Super Mario Bros. 2. Luigi jumps a bit higher, Peach has her “floaty” jumps, Toad runs faster and Mario is the all-rounder. Even if you’re playing the game in singleplayer, each character feels just unique enough to warrant switching things up from time to time.

The game is best played multiplayer with a group of good friends
But, this game should be played with friends. It is couch co-op at it’s finest. I've always been baffled by most console maker's decision to eschew local multiplayer in favor of online. Online play on any console is always going to be a vastly inferior system to what’s available (for free) on the PC, so why not focus on local multiplayer, something the PC struggles with and fits the console perfectly?

Thankfully, Nintendo is still pushing that agenda, and Super Mario 3D World is very indicative of that. The game is fantastic fun to play with friends, and it works really well. There were very few times where it felt like we were “fighting” the camera, or felt considerably disadvantaged for having multiple players. There’s a nice little competitive element to it too - the player with the most points at the end of each level gets a “crown,” so there is always this mad dash to get the most points. Multiplayer in Super Mario 3D world is a kind of maddening chaos that still somehow feels natural, with a few of the levels in particular even seeming to be designed with multiplayer in mind.

I should take some time to talk about how the game looks, because it is absolutely gorgeous. That 1080p/60fps benchmark that games on the Xbox One and PS4 are struggling to hit? 3D World pulls it off like a boss. The game never once struggled to keep its framerate, despite the fact that it was outputting to both the TV and the gamepad. The cartoony graphics of the Mario universe really pop out at you; characters feel alive, stages feel vast, and the color scheme is a welcome explosion of vibrant yellow and green in the face of the gaming world’s current obsession with brown and gray. When you add a jazzy, upbeat soundtrack that has plenty of catchy, memorable tunes, you’ve got yourself a game that looks and sounds as fun as it plays.

Super Mario 3D World's vibrant colors are a welcome change from modern gaming's obsession with brown and gray.
3D World brings back a lot of old favorite powerups, such as the fire flower and super leaf, as well as bringing in some items from recent Mario games (such as 3D Land’s boomerang suit and New Super Mario Bros.’ mega mushroom). Completely new to the game are the cat suit and the double cherry. The cat suit is the game's "big new item", with many levels, and many, many secrets being designed around it. Basically, it allows you to climb up walls, melee attack enemies, and perform a jump-dive attack. The first two skills are exceptionally useful at finding secrets and defeating enemies, while the third is exceptionally useful at diving you right off the edge of the map. Seriously. I was deathly afraid of using it most of the time because cat-Mario has some kind of death wish that can only be satisfied by leaping into the abyss.

The double cherry creates a “clone” of your character. It appears fairly rarely in the game, and while is a neat new idea, I feel like they didn't take the opportunity to properly explore it. It could have made for some total madness in multiplayer games to have levels just brimming with cherries, generating an insane amount of players on-screen at once.

The double cherry has a lot of missed potential as a power up
The game has the classic Mario difficulty curve, with the first world being complete-able by your grandma, and the final world driving even hardened veterans insane. There is a huge amount of content, with seven standard worlds and three bonus worlds - it’ll take you quite a while to get through it all, and the challenges are surmountable, but satisfying. The only thing that’s a bit lacking is the boss fights, with several of them simply being repeats, and most of them being pretty easy. I beat the final boss, for example, on my very first try.

I also had a small problem with the fifth unlockable character, Rosalina, being made available so far into the game. She is actually a pretty unique character, and is a much more interesting than Toad (sorry, Toad fans!) so it would have been nice to use her in the earlier levels, especially in multiplayer.

The boss fights are not exactly satisfying
Shoe-horned into the game, as seems to always be the case these days, are some social networking features. In this case, Nintendo’s Miiverse network bleeds in, with player’s Miis scattered throughout levels spouting whatever nonsense they last posted in the game’s Miiverse community. I don’t know how it is for English speakers, but for the Japanese version of the game, most of them were just cute pictures made with the game’s unlockable stamps. No real harm done, but it doesn’t really add anything to the game either.

I’m in kind of two worlds on my last point, which is also the reason why I don’t believe this game is a “system seller” for the Wii U. Basically, the game does not really take any advantage of the unique capabilities of the system. The gamepad’s screen simply replicates the action on the main screen for player one, and while there is a “touch baddies to make them stop/touch areas to reveal secrets” feature, it feels more like a last-minute addition than something that’s integral to the game (and it’s certainly not integral to the game). On the one hand, I think this is bad because it really does not “sell” the system, but on the other hand, I honestly don't think the game would benefit from it anyway. It may have even been detrimental to "force" more gamepad features into the game.

The catsuit, contrary to the double cherry, is a great new powerup for the Mario universe
Is Super Mario 3D world a fantastic game? Yes. Does it sell the unique features of the Wii U? No. If you already own the system it’s a no-brainer, but I honestly doubt people will be rushing out to buy a Wii U for it. Furthermore, to your average Joe, it only exacerbates the problem of people thinking the Wii U is just an addon for the Wii, rather than a new system. There’s nothing, apart from the improved graphics (which average Joe doesn't really notice anyway), that distinctly sets it apart from say, Super Mario Galaxy.

That said, you probably should rush out and buy a Wii U for this game, because it’s flipping amazing.

The game, unfortunately, does not take good advantage of the Wii U's unique features
Verdict: Buy

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

REVIEW: Battlefield 4 (PC)


I would like to preface this review by stating that I will, at no point, talk about the game's singleplayer campaign, because honestly, who gives a damn? No-one is rushing out to buy Call of Duty or Battlefield for their compelling, human stories. People buy Battlefield for the multiplayer, and the multiplayer alone, so it only seems fair that I review the game based solely on its multiplayer merits.

So here we are, just two years out from the release of Battlefield 3, and less than a year since the last Battlefield 3 DLC. If you're thinking that the game could not have possibly changed much in such a short time you'd be right. The difference between the games is not like the huge jump between Battlfield 2 and Battlefield 3, and more like the incremental upgrade between Bad Company 1 and Bad Company 2. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the game is automatically not worth your money. There is still an enormous amount of new content, engine upgrades, and gameplay modifications here to satisfy the Battlefield fans, while still being welcoming to newcomers of the series. That said, it is also not without its own shortcomings.

Let's start with the game's much touted new feature, the one that practically screams "next-gen" at the top of its lungs. It's called "leveloution" - the ability to use explosives and interact-able objects to physically alter how a map plays. For example, in Flood Zone, you can destroy a levee, which floods the entire map with water, replacing land-based vehicles with boats. In another, Siege of Shanghai, you can bring down an entire skyscraper, making the capture point (previously at the top of the building) much more accessible.
"Leveloution" can be pretty hit-and-miss.
Leveloution is pretty hit-and-miss. In some maps it is fairly easy to pull off just by a single, determined player, and is a really cool testament to the game's physics engine. On other maps, such as Lachang Dam, it requires several people to fire roughly twelve gazillion rocket at an object for a rather unimpressive effect that only barely alters how the map plays. Fortunately, I would say that overall it is more hit than miss, with at least six of the ten maps making good use of the feature. My personal favorites were the aforementioned Flood Zone, and Parcel Storm - a map which as well as having a periodic storm that whips up the seas, making boats and aircraft a more precarious option, also features a massive battleship that dramatically beaches itself on one of the map's islands.

Maps like Parcel Storm and Siege of Shanghai really show off just how beautiful the Frostbite 3 engine is. I played the game on a pretty beefy gaming PC, and it looked absolutely gorgeous. Those of you who played BF3 on a mid-to-high-range gaming PC won't notice too huge of a change, but the difference between BF3 on the 360/PS3 and BF4 on the Xbox One/PS4 is night and day. The big focus this time around is particle effects and physics, which help showcase the game's dynamic maps.
The game has a good range of map diversity.
So (most of) the maps are good, and the game looks great, but how does it actually play? Very similar to BF3, if I'm being honest. Veterans will be able to jump right into the game without skipping a beat, as the core Battlefield infantry vs. vehicles rock-paper-scissors mechanics are still there. The recon class has had a little bit of a mix-up, with the "spec ops" loadout returning from Battlefield 2, allowing him to equip shorter-range rifles along with C4 and motion sensors, while the other classes have simply been given more toys to play with. The classes have more diversity in weapon choice, with everyone being able to equip carbines, shotguns, and the semi-automatic "designated marksman rifles".

Possibly the biggest change veterans will notice with loadouts is that you can now choose any two gadgets, instead of being "locked in" to a secondary gadget. The engineer, for example, can have both an RPG and a stinger equipped, or the support can pack C4 and claymores.
"Customization" is the key word for Battlefield 4
Also, instead of the personal/squad perks of BF3, each class has a "specialization" they can choose. Each specialization has four "levels" of perks, which unlock gradually as you perform squad actions, such as supplying ammo to squadmates or capturing an objective marked by your squad leader. Everyone has access to the basic offense, defense and stealth specs, but each class also has two of its own unique specs. For example, the assault class has the "combat medic" spec, which increases the effectiveness of his healing abilities. Furthermore, if you entire squad is wiped out, the levels earned for your specialization get reset back to level 1, meaning there is a bigger incentive to work together as a team, and try and survive if you are the last squad member standing, rather than just Rambo-ing everything.

"Customization" is the big word for Battlefield 4, and in addition to the class loadout changes and the plethora of new and confusing weapon attachments you can choose from (what the heck is a "potato grip"?), vehicle customization has received a much-needed overhaul. Gunners for land vehicles now have a separate loadout selection, just like their attack chopper counterparts. Jets have been split into two classes (attack jets and stealth jets) and boats have been completely redesigned to be more than mere transports, complete with their own loadout and unlocks.
The game looks fantastic and plays well.
In order to help deal with the massive influx of new items, DICE has introduced "battlepacks", which are earned at various milestones, and grant three to five random unlocks upon being opened. It's a pretty cool system, but I feel it's missing some kind of trading option, so I can trade with my friends to get the attachments I want for my favorite guns, rather than just hoping to get lucky.

Also new is the "commander mode", which allows one player on each team to be view the game from a birds-eye view, and issue orders, drop supplies, and call in support options such as gunships and cruise missiles. It's a nice little feature, and the fact that it runs on tablets makes it a great little tablet game, but in the end it's just too simple to be more than a temporary distraction. I worry that in the near future the commander population will drastically drop as the playerbase grows weary of it. This is bad, as if one team has a commander and the other team doesn't, it puts the no-commander team at a noticeable disadvantage.
Commander mode is too simple to be anything more than a distraction.
Battlefield 4 is fun to play. It's a good upgrade from Battlefield 3 that fixes a lot of problems players had with the game, and if it wasn't for what I am about to say, I would whole-heatedly recommend it for both veterans of the series, and newcomers looking for a new multiplayer FPS to play on Friday nights.

However. However. The game is absolutely riddled with bugs. Battlelog, which was already a mess in BF3, has not really improved at all for BF4, refusing to connect to games, download updates, or even open at all for seemingly no reason. I was (and still am) unable to get its"battlescreen" feature to work on my tablet. In game, the sound cuts out in certain areas. There are graphical glitches. Weapons sometimes do not behave the way they are supposed to, and then there are the random crashes. When I first started playing, I was lucky to go 15 minutes without a crash. I now crash, on average, every two rounds. It's very obvious that the game was rushed to meet the next-gen console launch, and even now, several weeks after launch, the issues are still very glaring.

Battlefield 4 is a fantastic game, but it's not ready yet. Check back in a month.

Verdict: Don't Buy (yet)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tokyo Game Show

This is it. I've hit the big time. I literally spent three days in Tokyo playing video games, taking pictures of girls in skimpy outfits, eating delicious pizza, and getting paid for it (well, except for the pizza). This was my first year to attend Tokyo Game Show as press, and it was a really amazing experience.

Two years ago, I attended the show on one of the "open-to-all" public days. It was an... experience to say the least, but the incredibly massive crowds and lackluster games put me off attending it the following year. However, thanks to my gig at the Escapist, this year I scored a press pass, which changed the game considerably.

On the press days, I was free to pursue the games at my leisure. Lines were rarely longer than 20 minutes, and I could use my "press pass powers" to skip them entirely in some cases. Furthermore, there was a fantastic selection of games on display that I actually wanted to play, and I got a bunch of cool freebies just for being press.

Speaking of the games, Titanfall was far-and-away my pick for best in show. It felt smooth, slick, and polished enough to be released tomorrow, and was just a whole lot of fast-paced high-octane fun. Check out my hands-on preview for it here.

Microsoft impressed me overall a lot more than Sony. I was not a fan of the DualShock 4 at all, and none of the game's that Sony was showcasing for the PS4 really caught my eye. Sony hyped up this keynote speech on the first day, then went on to spend an hour talking about Facebook and casual gamers. Yawn.

Other cool games I got to play were Ryse: Son of Rome, Battlefield 4 and Wolfenstien: The New Order. Being a big Battlefield fanboy, I was pumped to get my hands on the latest game, but also being a member of the PC gaming master race meant that I was constantly frustrated by the limited PS4 controller.

I also attended one of the much-dreaded public days, but with some good friends by my side, and a plethora of amazing cosplayers to entertain me, I still had a fantastic time.

So, that was my Tokyo Game Show 2013 experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I eagerly await my next opportunity to attend any convention as press, as it really changes the whole experience substantially. Maybe I can squeeze a visit back home for PAX Australia next year...

Here are links to all of my coverage from the show:
Subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and be sure to check out my Escapist profile for daily updates!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Kickstarter - You're Doing it Wrong

In a perfect world, Kickstarter would give traditional-style funding a run for its money, resulting in perfect profits for developers and tailor-made games for the fans. However, ours is far from a perfect world, and Kickstarter has a long way to go before it can be considered a viable alternative in games development. I believe there are three big obstacles standing in the way of that: Big Names, Big Ideas and Big Fans.

Let's start with Big Names: I am talking about big, well-established game creators taking to Kickstarter to fund their projects. Tim Schafer, Keiji Inafune, Richard Garriott - these are all people who have used their "star power" to smash Kickstarter records as their legions of fans lined up to throw money at them. I'm of the opinion that these big names should not be allowed on the service at all. Kickstarter should be a place where up-and-commers, looking to break into the industry with an interesting new idea, can float that idea to everyday schmoes like you and me, who then decide if it's something worth backing.
"[Kickstarter] should not be a place for Keiji Inafune to get easy money for another Mega Man game"
It should not be a place for Keiji Inafune to get easy money for another Mega Man game. Keiji Inafune is Keiji fucking Inafune. His Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter raised over half a million dollars in a single day. It hit its funding goal within a week. And no one should have been surprised by this. Wow, you managed to raise a boatload of money for what is essentially an HD remake of a game that has millions of followers and is widely regarded as a cult classic? Well done. The only thing easier would be raising money for an Ocarina of Time remake. People with as much pull as Inafune should not be on Kickstarter. If Inafune can't find someone outside of Kickstarter to back his Mega Man remake then he's doing it wrong.

(Not Mega Man)
Richard Garriott also raised almost $2 million for his Kickstarter project. Do you know what Richard Garriott does in his spare time? He goes to space. The guy who can afford to go to space and has more money than you or I will ever see in our entire lifetimes needs a Kickstarter to raise funds? You've got to be kidding me.

Tim Schafer's Kickstarter tells a similar story, raising an unreal $3 million for something that’s just a concept. People threw money at Broken Age before it even had a God-damn title. You're telling me you had so little faith in finding someone to invest in a Double Fine adventure game that you had to take it to Kickstarter? Bullshit. If your obscure, action-adventure/RTS hybrid that no-one asked for, Brutal Legend, can find funding through official channels, then the adventure game that fans have been begging for since Grim Fandango sure as hell should be able to.
"People threw money at Broken Age before it even had a God-damn title"
Schafer's story also ties in to our next point perfectly: Big Ideas. Schafer asked for $400,00 for what was basically a gleam in his eye. He got eight times that amount. So what does he do? Humbly accept the money and deliver the most awesome game his fans could ask for? No. The guy says that it's still not enough. I'm sorry, but if three million dollars can't make your game, you should not be shilling that game on Kickstarter. Star Citizen has raised $17 million, and Chris Roberts has the nerve to say he avoided the publisher route because he thought it would be too "niche" of a game. Kickstarter is to kickstart projects, not provide an endless stream of money for you to waste on Big Ideas.
Tim Schafer
Big Ideas also refers to the cautionary tales of failed projects. American McGee's failed OZombie Kickstarter is representative of this, something that the developer actually admits himself - These kinds of Big Idea games are simply too big for Kickstarter. I'm also talking about projects that meet their goals, and then don't deliver on the product. Giving money to a project on Kickstarter is essentially an investment with no return - if the Kickstarter succeeds, you will, at most, get your money back, and if it fails, your money’s lost forever. There's no real incentive for fans to back a project on Kickstarter, especially when the Big Names raising millions more than what they ask for are hogging the spotlight.

I'm sure a lot of you are reading this and saying, "But Steven, the biggest draw of Kickstarter is that the fans get to help design the game," to which I retort: "I can think of nothing more horrifying than fans having a say in game design."

Big Fans are probably the worst part about Kickstarter. I'm going to put this out there, and I dare you to disagree with me: most people that post anything on the internet are morons. Don't get me wrong; there is are a lot of fantastic gems hiding out there, great ideas from brilliant people, but the overwhelming majority of it is crap. Don't believe me? Go to YouTube, look through the most recent video uploads. Start from the top and watch every video, start to finish, until you find one that's good. I challenge you to find a single entertaining video before you gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon.
Fan feedback
Do you really want these people having their hand in game design - the immature, moronic, racist, sexist assholes who inhabit the likes of Xbox Live and the YouTube comments section? If you're saying, "But Steven, these people would never donate money on Kickstarter," then I would call you a naive fool. Consider, for example, the nasty snare the Skullgirls IndieGoGo campaign hit thanks to “these people.”

Basically, the Skullgirls crowdfunder promised two "Mystery Characters" that all backers would be able to vote on. So what do you think happened when some backers' favorite characters got voted out? That they took it in stride and decided that though their favorite character was no longer in the race, they would keep supporting the developer and its vision anyway? Maybe in the land of sunshine and rainbows, but in the real world they took their ball and went home, demanding refunds when their characters of choice got knocked out of the vote. It got to the point where PayPal froze all of the campaign's funds due to chargebacks.
"Simply put, fans don't know what the fuck they are talking about"
And these are the people that I am supposed to trust with major decisions about game development? No fucking way. The Xbox One, which admittedly didn't have the greatest PR team, tried to do something drastically different and original, but was met with so much hatred and nerdrage that it has since reverted to the exact same thing as the PS4. Even the Kinect, which is one of the only things left that sets it apart from the competition, is still under intense pressure from "fans" to be removed. If you look at the film industry, you’ll see the same effect. Ben Affleck being cast as Batman was met with a wave of internet QQ, despite this actually being a pretty good choice considering Affleck's prior acting and directing accolades, his great love of comic books, and his physical appearance.
Instant nerdrage, just add Twitter
Henry "I invented the weekend" Ford said it best: "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said 'a faster horse.'" Simply put, fans don't know what the fuck they are talking about. Yes, listening to fan and player feedback is very important, but being beholden to your fans is a very scary scenario. Call of Duty "fans" sent death threats to developers when they applied minor tweaks to some Black Ops II weapons. Can you imagine a world where such people actually have a hand (however minor) in the development of a video game?

These are the three big problems I have with crowd-funding. I'm sure in time, when Big Name developers stop using it as their personal piggy-bank, Big Ideas make way for Realistic Ideas, and Big Fans learn to stop destroying everything they love, Kickstarter will become a very common alternative path for game development. I don't believe Kickstarter will ever replace traditional publishers, nor do I think it should. It has its place in the games industry, but it is a far cry from the be-all-end-all that people make it out to be. It also somewhat baffles me that we have become such a consumerist society, that people are willing to pay for products that don't even exist yet… perhaps a topic for another post!

Just some food for thought.

-Steven

Author's note: Thanks for reading guys. As always, if you want to tell me I'm a fucking moron please take to the comments section below, any feedback or criticism is welcome.

Subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and be sure to check out my Escapist profile for daily updates!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

I'm not dead yet!

Hey guys, just a quick update to let you know that yes, I am still alive. I know I haven't updated the blog in over a month, I've been pretty pre-occupied with work and holidays. I visited Australia over the summer vacation, ate a lot of amazing food, and got to see a lot of my friends and family. I even got to host my traditional LAN party, which had plenty of Street Fighter, Civ 5, and of course, bad movies.

Lan Party
Then, when I got back to Japan, I road-tripped down to the Izu peninsula just south of Tokyo to catch some sunshine and get some swimming in. While obviously not as good as the beaches in Okinawa or Australia, I still had a fantastic time. For me, it's not truly summer vacation until I've hit the beach at least once, and Izu delivered on that. Plus, the hostel we stayed at was fucking awesome, it was in this 100-year old Japanese style building that had been completely renovated and was just gorgeous.

Now, I'm nearing the end of my holiday, unfortunately. Just five more days! Why is it that summer vacation blows by so fast??? I know I've done quite a bit this summer, but it also feels like I've done absolutely nothing. I guess it didn't help that when I got back I really threw myself into my work.

Enjoying the "view" at the beach...
On that front, next month I will be attending Tokyo Game Show as an official media representative of the Escapist Magazine! I'm pretty excited about this, it'll be my first time going to the show's exclusive "press-only" days, and it'll be great to get to try out the new next-gen consoles. I really hope Titanfall will be playable!

I also may have another journalism opportunity coming up. It's too early to share details yet, but let's just say if everything pans out, I may be able to quit my day job as a teacher and work on my writing full time!

Titanfall
As for my regular Escapist news posts, I'm not going to repost them here this time! Sorry, but it's been over a month and I'd have to post like a hundred stories, which would just be way too much.

So instead, I urge you to just check out my Escapist profile, which lists all of my posted articles, and please subscribe to my Twitter, where I post every article as soon as I've written it.

Monday, 29 July 2013

NEWS: Monday Update

Hi everyone. Bit of exciting news for you all this week, I'm heading back to Australia on Friday! Just for ten days though, a little bit of a holiday to see everyone again. Also, when I get back to Japan, I'm going to head up to Izu for a bit of a beach getaway (it's not a real summer vacation until I've been to the beach!)

As such, don't expect too much in the way of updates for the coming month! My Escapist news stories will also probably see a bit of a decline.

Last week was my "training week" for my day job as an English teacher. It was good to see all the Nasushiobara ALTs again, and to cap it off we had a poker night on Saturday. It's a very nice change of pace from my regular teaching work, and a good lead in to my lengthy summer vacation.

I bought a car this week! It may just be a Kei car, and it may have only cost me $500, but it's a car nonetheless. Even if I end up going back home in March, I'll have still saved money over renting every month, and if I do decide to stay another year, I'll end up saving a LOT of money.

On that front, it's looking more and more likely I will end up staying here one more year. Next year, my car, and my apartment's start up fees will be completely paid off, and with my current work pace at the Escapist I reckon I can save up a LOT of money. I do miss being home, and it's particularly hard with several of my best friends in the country having left Japan earlier this year, but at this stage in my life it may be best to just burrow down, save up a wad of cash, and then blow it all on a big vacation (or... sensibly save it with the intention of possibly buying a house...). It would be nice to visit all my friends in America...

My new car
Anyway, here are the last couple of week's stories (sorry about no update last week):
Top stories:
Fez director Phil Fish


Okay guys, that's it from me for this week! Be sure to subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and check back here every Saturday for a roundup of my Escapist news pieces!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

NEWS: Sunday Update

Big exciting news from me for this week, my first official escapist feature is now live! The feature is about mechs in videogames. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I knew I was going to step on a lot of toes by not including every single mech game and anime, but I feel like I covered the most important stuff. Please check it out below, and I hope to be able to deliver more features in the future.


So I'm at week three of four weeks of straight elementary school and the summer vacation can seriously not come any faster. I'm dying here. It's great fun, the days go by quickly, and the kids are great (most of the time) but Lord Jesus am I exhausted at the end of the day. At least i'm getting plenty of exercise.

I'll be visiting Australia from the 2nd of August till the 12th, and I'll possibly be going on a roadtrip to Osaka and Hiroshima after that, so next month you'll probably not see too much of me.
Here's last week's news:
Story of the week:

Okay guys, that's it from me for this week! Be sure to subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and check back here every Saturday for a roundup of my Escapist news pieces!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

NEWS: Sunday Update

PHEW! It's been a couple weeks since I last updated the blog! Really sorry about that, I've been in over my head at both of my jobs. At school, it's now week three of four straight weeks of elementary school. Anyone who's ever taught it knows that it's fun, but it's so exhausting! As for the Escapist, I've been commissioned to write a feature article about the history of mechs in videogames. Look forward to seeing that by the end of this week.

Last week, I went to Nasu Highland Park. It's a theme park near where I live that I shied away from going to for the longest time, because a friend of mine who has lived in Japan a lot longer than me told me it was "shit" and to "not bother." I'm really glad I disregarded that advice, because it turned out to be one of the best themepark experiences I've ever had! Sure, it wasn't as glitzy or glamorous as Disneyland, but it was half the price, had little to no lines, and still had some pretty freaking sweet rollercoasters.

Check out this video my friend Jerry made about the whole experience:


On to the last couple week's news posts! Sorry to give you such a big dump all at once:
Top three stories:

  • Ellen Page: Naughty Dog Ripped Off My Likeness

  • Nintendo Fans Fight For Region-Free Consoles

  • League of Legends Oceanic Servers Now Available
  • Okay guys, that's it from me for this week! Be sure to subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and check back here every Saturday for a roundup of my Escapist news pieces!

    Saturday, 15 June 2013

    NEWS: Saturday Update

    E3 is finally over. What a crazy week it's been. This was my first E3 that I covered for the Escapist and the increased workload I had to deal with was intense. It should all pay off in the end though (literally, as I get paid per article).


    So what's my opinion on E3 this year? Obviously, there is the Microsoft thing, which completely baffles me. I am somewhat of a Microsoft fanboy (i own an Xbox 360, although how I came about owning one was more of an opportune than deliberate purchase) and even I have to admit that Sony wiped the floor with them. It was just one bad policy after another. I know Microsoft are trying to change the gaming world here, and they knew there would be resistance, but damn.

    A lot of people compare what they are doing to what Steam did to PC gaming several years ago. I tend to agree with them there. Steam was met with just as much (if not more) resistance than is now facing the Xbox One, but at the end of the day it turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to PC gaming.


    Microsoft wants to do the same thing with console gaming, but damn, they could have done a LITTLE bet better PR on it. Maybe eased people more into it rather than just dumping bad news after bad news.

    Aside from that whole bru-ha-ha, a lot of cool stuff came out of E3. We got to see Titanfall from the guys who made Call of Duty back when Call of Duty was a competitive PC FPS and not a running joke. If they pull this off, it'll sit besides TF2 and NS2 as a go-to multiplayer FPS for me.

    Watch_Dogs, with it's hide-and-seek multiplayer and crazy gameplay options looks set to really shake things up.

    There was the announcement of the new Battlefront, which doesn't really need to have anything else said about it (fingers crossed for a PC release).

    And then there was of course, Nintendo's direct, which pretty much hit everything right. Wii U has no games? OK. How about some big first party Nintendo games? Super Mario. BAM. Donkey Kong. BAM. Mario Kart. BAM. Oh? You are sick of the bog-standard Nintendo franchises you always see? Well here's Wonderful 101, a crazy new IP that's about controlling a whole mob of superheroes at once. You want third party? We got third party. Batman. Assasin's Creed. Bayonetta 2, which is a Wii U exclusive!



    Ok we done. NO WAIT HERE'S SMASH BROS. Ok we really done now. NO WAIT HERE'S MEGA MAN IN SMASH BROS!! PEACE OUT BITCHES!

    As you can imagine, I haven't had too many real-life adventures this week! Next weekend i'm planning on attending a 'scavenger hunt' in Fukushima, which sounds fun.

    So anyway, here's the news for last week:


    Story of the week:



    Okay guys, that's it from me for this week! Be sure to subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and check back here every Saturday for a roundup of my Escapist news pieces!