Game of the Year awards are still trickling in from various media outlets - yes, three weeks into the new year, but I digress - and while Mark of the Ninja hasn't won GOTY anywhere I have seen, it has been nominated and in a lot of top tens throughout the internet. It should be noted that I have seen it win "Downloadable GOTY" or "XBLA GOTY", but not the flat out GOTY overall.
So anyway, I kind of ignored the game when it came out, for no real reason other than I probably had way too much to play at the time. It did come out on XBLA and was a critically acclaimed success right off the bat. Fast forward to tonight, when I was scrolling through my games catalog on my Xbox, and imagine my surprise to find that I actually had downloaded it a while ago, and simply forgot about it. Probably isn't the first, or last, game that will happen with ... I can guarantee that.
So I played it. On the heels of being disappointing by the newest Ninja Gaiden offering, I was prime to be wowed by this ninja game. As I was playing it, I thought the only appropriate way to blog about this game would be in haiku. So without further adieu, here is The Noyse's first official gaming haiku:
Ninja in the dark
Silent kills, death by the sword
Best ninja ever?
I enjoyed this game. But I didn't love this game, as much as everyone else at least. Maybe I just need more time with it. While the sneaking around, being stealthy is pretty fun, the controls seems iffy at times, and the combat system is based solely on being stealthy. You can't confront enemies head on, even if you are accidentally noticed. Your only chance is to run, hide and wait it out. Trust me, that gets old after a while.
I do love the art style. But I also wish the game didn't blur the lines between modernized enemies and weaponry and the ancient art of ninjas. I want a ninja game based in ancient times, when ninjas were at the height of importance. Being a ninja trying to avoid laser beams while stylistic Asian culture sets the scene is just weird to me.
Like I said, I need to put more time in with this game. I won't mind doing so, as it is easy to pick up and play on a whim it seems. Unless I forget I have it again, and if that's the case, well, it was fun while it lasted.
So after last night's post talking about a bunch of old games I played as a kid, I was feeling quite nostalgic today. That, on top of it being Championship Sunday for the NFL, I was in a old school football game kind of of mood. So what game did I grab to play? Tecmo Super Bowl, of course, for the NES.
(There was a SNES version a couple of years later by the same name, to eliminate any confusion.)
Did you know that Tecmo Super Bowl was the first sports video game to have license agreement with both the league (NFL) and the players union, meaning they were the first to use actual team names and real life players names in the same game? How cool is that?
Coincidentally, it was also the first sports video game that I played the absolute crap out of. As a kid, my parents couldn't/wouldn't buy me the game, so instead, I rented it from Blockbuster. I remember playing it once, taking it back, realizing how much I loved it and went to rent it back - only to find out it was already gone. It was several weeks before I found that sucker back on the shelf, so when I got my hands on it again, I didn't let go. I must have re-rented that game over and over again for two months straight, if not more. No joke.
To whomever the poor sap was waiting for me to return it ... I'm sorry. Actually, I'm not sorry at all. That game was freaking awesome.
Tonight I played a few games, and dominated as usual. If you could play a career mode, I would have been playing this game for 21+ years now, straight. The playbooks are simple, the plays are easy to run, and the defense is straight vicious if you pick the right play to defend. But the best thing about this game, which I realized for billionth time, is that great running backs are impossible to stop, no matter what.
And by great running backs, I of course mean one guy: BO JACKSON.
As a kid and a sports fan, Bo Jackson was the man. But as a gamer, in this game, Bo Jackson was a god. And still is. See for yourself. (This isn't my video, by the way, but one I found on YouTube, and is the perfect example to what I'm talking about.)
Man, I can't wait for the Super Bowl now. Even though I pretty much hate both teams playing, it is the Super Bowl after all. Sure, it might not be as great or as exciting as a game of Tecmo Super Bowl, but it is still the biggest sporting event of the year.
Even without Bo Jackson in it.
Remembering back to the glory days of gaming when I was just a youngster, there were lots of games I absolutely loved. In the NES era, where it all started, I can list several of games I played over and over again, because I loved them so much. Everything from the Super Mario Bros. games, the Mega Man games, Duck Tales, Tecmo Super Bowl ... the list goes on and on.
But there were a few games that I played, I wanted to love for every reason imaginable, but because they were so difficult and frustrating, they have left scares on my gaming soul. The short list includes, but is not limited to, Battletoads, The Adventures of Dino Riki and of course, the Ninja Gaiden games.
I shudder each time I think about the frustration those damn games gave me as a kid. Yet as frustrating as they were, I didn't put any less time in them as I did the games I could fly through. This is especially true for the Ninja Gaiden games.
(By the way, is it pronounced "Guy-den" or "Gay-den"? I've heard both pronunciations over the years, and I can never remember. Anyway...)
I remember the Ninja Gaiden games as clear as can be, too. From the title of the game having the Japanese characters in place of the "Gaiden", with that just shifted below it, to the amazing music, the awesome ninja moves, the cinematic cut scenes ... and the difficulty. Oh, the difficulty.
I honestly don't know if I ever beat them without the help of Game Genie. Remember Game Genies? Damn, were those not the coolest things ever? How did anyone ever get the codes for those things, anyway? If a friend didn't know them, you were shit out of luck. We didn't have the luxury of quick Google searches back then.
Game Genies .... wow.
Anyway, those games were annoyingly hard. So when they decided to reboot the franchise back on the original Xbox, I stayed clear. I couldn't bring myself to even try them. Well, they have kept making the new Ninja Gaiden games, and thanks to this blog, I was able to conquer my fears and finally give a new-school rendition of Ryu Hayabusa a shot. Let's just say, some things are better as just memories.
I decided to play Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, which was a launch-day game for the Wii U. The fact that this game is even on a Nintendo platform is nothing short of amazing, because while the Wii had a few gory hack-and-slash games, the company isn't exactly known for being M-rated games friendly. And trust me, this game earns it's rating tenfold.
Right off the bat, flying through the air and landing with a Katana slice right through the head of my first bad guy, my character screaming, "FUCK YOU!" as the blood pours out all over the screen, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The storyline? I don't know, I just skipped through every cut scene possible, because they just didn't interest me. They immediately reminded me of House of the Dead games cut scenes, and not in a good way.
Skip. Skip. Skip. Didn't even think twice about it.
The blood continued to flow. The enemies continued to come at me, only to be decapitated after several limbs were lopped off, left in a lifeless piles of mutilated flesh. Pretty gross, right? Yeah, it got old quickly, too. The bosses were average, but nothing special about them. The fancy GamePad controls for the Wii U? uninspired and more of a distraction then anything.
So how was the game play? Was it hard? Was the game as memorable as the very first ones? Well, funny thing is, I had to play it on easy, because every other difficulty I was getting absolutely destroyed. So yeah, the difficulty is there. But not because it's a hard game to figure out and be smart about, it's just ruthless and relentless. By turning the franchise into a hack-and-slash, the precision skills required have diminished in importance. It's now just about how well you can string combos together and remember to block and move.
I was bored. It doesn't hold a candle to how awesome the original games were. Whether that be a nostalgic bias or just the plain, hard truth, it needs to be said. It's a decent effort, but I found not connection whatsoever to the game.
You know how good a game is when all it makes you think about is how awesome Game Genies were back in the day.
Good try, Nintendo. I admire you for offering a game like this on your new, amazing system. But it was your first offerings of this franchise on your first console that won my heart and caused me heartbreak a long time ago. Please don't even think about rebooting the Dino Riki franchise, though ... I might seriously have an anxiety fueled heart attack.
There are some game that look great on paper. And sometimes, those great looking, great ideas of games actually translate to phenomenal games. Sometimes.
LittleBigPlanet Karting is not one of those games.
I got into the LBP scene quite late, playing the second game earlier this year, and then playing the Vita game a few months back. While I didn't fall in love with LBP 2, I did really enjoy the Vita version - whether it be because I played in while taking a vacation down to California and I had nothing else to play on the long drive down there and back, or because I really enjoyed it.
Either way, when the LBP Karting game was announced, I was actually quite interested in it. The world of LittleBigPlanet that I was starting to really enjoy combined with the awesome game play style of Mario Kart - what could go wrong?
Well, nothing really went wrong with the game, per say, but nothing really came out as hoped, either. I played the Beta before the game came out, and immediately realized that this game wasn't going to be all it was cracked up to be. I held out a little bit of hope for it, as I'm not usually one to play Betas or demos anyway, but when the reviews came pouring in for the game, I knew my first inkling about it was correct.
It wasn't until tonight that I actually bothered to try out the game, in it's full version - sans for the online function, for two reasons: PSN is STILL down for maintenance, and since it is a rental game, I don't have an online pass. I still gave the story mode and creation mode a whirl ... and was utterly bored with it. It's not as fun as LittleBigPlanet games, and not even close to being as fun as Mario Kart games. In fact, the only thing I got from it was the desire to actually play Mario Kart instead.
Just goes to show that some games may sound good, but usually, if they sound too good to be true, they usually are. Especially when it comes to mash-up types of game play.
Good thing I have my SNES handy. Might have to dust off the original Mario Kart, for old times sake. Maybe the creators of LittleBigPlanet Karting should have done the same thing.
Ok, let me start off by pointing out, and explaining, that I put the word "game" in quotes in the title of this blog post. The reason I did that is that, technically, Wake-Up Club for the PS Vita might not be considered an actual game in the purest sense of the term. It's listed as an App in the PS Store, not a game, so even Sony is quick to distinguish it as not being a game, but a tool for life.
Strange thing is, however, is that it has trophies. Many trophies that are easily obtained by "playing" around with it, testing it out. An App with easy trophies you get for playing it? Sounds like a game to me!
Sony is smart. This "App" is essentially just an alarm clock, but one that connects to the PSN, assigning you to clubs of other users that have their alarms set for the same time as you, and you race to turn off the alarm when it goes off. It's smart because it's free, but even so, if it weren't for the trophies, I never would have touched it, ever. And I'm sure that goes for a lot of gamers out there as well.
It's meant to actually be used as a fully functional alarm clock, but with trophies to be had, I spent more time playing it tonight than I ever will as an actual alarm clock.
For one, I don't keep my Vita in my room. Secondly, I'm annoyed enough waking up to Mike and Mike every morning, so I can't imagine how rough mornings would be trying to win a stupid game every morning. I love games, but not when they interrupt the little sleep that I do get.
I don't mind downloading free Apps or games, getting a few trophies for my efforts and quickly deleting it. I think more Apps and smaller games that are looking just for a little spotlight can go a long way by offering up trophies. It may seem stupid and pointless, but it's a simple concept that can go a long, long way to getting something a little more recognition then it may have gotten otherwise.
So did I play a game tonight, or just rack up easy trophies playing with an App? I would say both. But if you don't consider Wake-Up Club as fulfillment of my year long commitment to gaming, well, how about this: I also played the fun game of "trying to play a PS3 game that automatically connects to the PSN, but since the PSN was down for maintenance, it kept locking itself up in a continuous search for network connectivity."
Yeah, that was a super fun game. Trust me, that made me cherish my time with the Wake-Up Club. I bet you'll never hear anyone say that ever again.
Remember when I played Tank! Tank! Tank! on the Wii U and mentioned how I thought it would be an awesome downloadable eShop game, because it clearly wasn't a full retail game? Well, for every one of those type of games that get it wrong when it comes to classifying itself, there is lots of other games that get it right. They are just hard to find sometimes.
But when you do find them, talk about diamonds in the rough.
Tonight I played Nano Assault Neo, a simple eShop game for the Wii U. The premise is simple. You are a space ship created to kill alien lifeforms. No back stories, no cut scenes - just pick your level and start blasting away, picking up power ups and bonuses along the way, upgrading your ship in between stages and ultimately trying to beat high scores.
There is a little caveat to the game though, one that makes the game smarter than just your run of the mill shooter. You're not in outer space, but instead, flying around cells, killing germs/diseases. The game doesn't make a big deal out of it, but once you realize what you are really doing, you get one of those "Aha!" moments. Love those in games.
Anyway, tonight I went straight for high score slaughtering. I actually bested my previous high score on my first run through, and then turned around and demolished that one too. I checked my friends list, made sure I was number one on that, which I was. In the overall rankings, I think I moved up to 86 in the world, or something like that. Pretty cool, actually. I've never been much of a leaderboards, high scores type of guy, but every once in a while a game comes around that ropes me in. Nana Assault Neo is that game, for sure.
Nintendo, are you listening? Please make more of these types of games, that I can pick up at any time and have an amazing time with, even if it's for a short while? This new system of yours can thrive on content like this.
Some games just know exactly what they are. I appreciate that, and am happy to show that with my money. I have more, I just need more to spend it on.
Today I really needed to clear my gaming mind. After yesterday's rant, followed up by a lengthy Twitter discussion with a video game journalist about a touchy subject today, I really just had to unwind.
I spend most of my evening getting lost in Far Cry 3, but I did manage to pull myself away from wild animal hunting and treasure looting to play another game for this blog. I wanted to pick a totally mindless, non-thinking but insanely fun game, just because I needed something not-so-serious. So I ended up playing one of my favorite games to come out in the last couple of years, a good old fashioned yet modernized game that so many different types of gamers can relate to and enjoy: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.
If you're not familiar with it, it's simple really. It's the classic Pac-Man principle, just ramped up on a combination of caffeine and LSD. The idea isn't to finish each map, but to get the highest scores possible. The maps are flashing with tons of colors (different graphical styles to choose from as well), the speed picks up rapidly throughout your timed run, and the ghosts line up ready to be destroyed in order to chain crazy combos together.
If you like Pac-Man, but love racking up serious point totals even more, this game is awesome. And tonight, even though I have already achieved all the trophies and have accomplished everything possible, I sat back and just got lost in the world of fruit bonuses, ghost combos and techno stylization. It was crazy fun, if only because I wasn't worried or stressed about anything else going on in the gaming industry around me.
I wish I had more time to get lost in games like these. I really do. Games like Pac-Man Championship Edition DX are good for the soul, if only because they are perfect pallet cleansers.
I know this blog is about to be about my quest to play a game a day, every day, for an entire year. And while this entry still satisfies my project requirements, I intend to use it for a little more meaning tonight - a slightly politically-fueled rant. I apologize in advance if you came here just to read about my latest gaming adventure, but I feel fairly strongly about this topic.
I didn't think I would ever have to highjack my own blog, but some things just need to happen.
Today I played NRA Practice Range, a game that was just released for the iTunes App store last night, for free. It's not that I really wanted to play the game, but I felt necessary to do so in order to cement my point of view.
You see, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings one month ago, when the Nation was in an uproar over gun control, the NRA (National Rifle Association) was surprisingly tight-lipped. That was, of course, until they came out and publicly blamed violent video games and movies for fueling our society full of violence, ultimately leading to tragedies such as the elementary school shooting. While no evidence even suggested that video games or movies had anything to do with motivating the sick fuck to walk into a school and shoot dozens of kids, or any of the other recent random shootings, the NRA attempted to deflect negativity towards guns back onto easy targets like the video game industry.
This fueled towns to threaten "game burnings," asking town members to turn in violent video games for a good old fashion bonfire of violent media. They cancelled the burning a week after suggesting it, stating they made their point by grabbing headlines and bringing focus to the issue of violent video games. The NRA was smiling all the way. Their plan had worked.
And then, out of no where, they grabbed their own foot, turned it sideways and promptly shoved it in their own mouth. Last night, like I said before, they released a free first-person shooter game for the iTunes App store, where gamers can use a variety of weapons to practice their shooting, both inside indoor ranges, outside target shooting and skeet shooting. Players can also purchase new weapons, such as AK-47, if they feel so inclined to upgrade their weapon. The best part about it all? They rated the game for people ages 4 and up.
Sure, you aren't shooting people, but rather targets, but the message is still the same. You get cool guns to shoot things. Isn't that what all the "violent" video games do, in one sense or another? The game isn't meant to be an instructional app for gun safety and has no significant "guns are bad" message like they want the rest of the video game industry to do. And to rate it 4+ after telling the nation that guns in video games are harming our kids, on the heels of a school shooting, is flat out a slap in the face to everyone who took them seriously.
For the video game industry to be forced to defend themselves over and over again, and then get brutally thrown under the bus by this hypocritical organization is a damn shame. The NRA is a joke, and this just proves they shouldn't ever be allowed to make public statements regarding serious issues ever again.
I'm pissed that I even downloaded this piece of shit game, giving them another download to boost their numbers. Thank god it was free, or I would be demanding any money spent on this pile of garbage. The game itself sucks, is horribly built and feel like more of a joke than anything. And it is a joke ... a joke to even call it a game. It's a slap in the face to every single person who makes a living in the video game industry.
And for Apple to support this bullshit is even worse. They should make a statement and remove it from their store. The positives far outweigh negatives for making such a drastic, bold statement. But we all know Apple won't do a damn thing about it. They will sit back and collect whatever pennies are generated from this abomination of a "game."
Fuck you NRA. How dare you try to rip down the culture I and millions of others love, just to deflect any blame and hard questions that come your way in the face of tragedy. How dare you turn around and do the most hypocritically heinous act you could think of. How dare you even attempt to slide your way in to the realm of video games, where bullheaded bureaucracy has no place being.
If you excuse me, I'm going to go play a shitload of Far Cry 3 and shoot every god damn gun I can find nonstop, just because. Or I'll go play New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. Either way, I need to clear my head and regroup.
Hopefully I'm not the only one who feels this way...
Let's get to the point. The Kinect for the Xbox 360 sounded good on paper, before it was released. All the tech demos, videos, and hype made it out to be the best gaming invention since analog sticks on a controller.
Well, then it came out. And while it was fun for a bit, to play dancing games with your friends or show off how sorta-well the motion captioning worked, it got old and stale quickly. Then games, regular games, starting implementing Kinect controls into their games for no other reason than Microsoft paid them a bunch of money to do so. Games like Halo, using Kinect to throw grenades simply by yelling out "GRENADE!", and other crap like that. Sure, it was nice, I guess, to have the option to use them, but didn't anyone really utilize them in Mass Effect 3? I would bet not.
I've had some fun with my Kinect, but honestly, if I hadn't won it in a contest, I probably wouldn't own one to this day. My kids have gotten a lot of enjoyment from it, but they have problems using it thanks to the inconsistent camera, iffy lighting in our game room and just not enough space to make it worth while. Sure, we got a Nyko Zoom for the camera, shortening the distance needed for proper connectivity, but it's still hit and miss.
That being said, I decided to try out a Kinect game I've had for a while but never bothered to play ... until now. I tried out Wreckateer, a game I downloaded from the XBLA shop. The concept is simple. You fling ammunition (rocks, cannon balls, explosives, etc.) at castles and try to knock them down, earning more points and medals for doing more and more damage.
Sound familiar? It is. It was only missing some birds and pigs, basically. It's pretty much a straight Angry Birds ripoff, set in medieval times (when else would you use catapults?) and slapped with the motion gaming gimmick.
It was a little fun, for a while. But once the controls started going haywire and the game play got repetitive (which was quickly), I was pretty much done with it. All it made me want to do was play Angry Birds, to be honest. I admire developers for trying with games like these, but I think it's more the Kinect's fault then it is the game's being bad. There have been some good Kinect games, like The Gunstringer, but for the most part, it's filled with a bunch of repetitive gaming.
I know I will probably play a few more Kinect games for this project, and maybe I will try to rope my kids into playing with me to make it a little easier to swallow. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, though. And with talks of an all new Kinect sensor coming with the impending new Xbox system, and while I am cautiously optimistic, I think Microsoft needs to realize that maybe the Kinect isn't the best new innovation in gaming since the analog sticks.
Leave the gaming revolutions to Nintendo.
Honestly, today, I played a lot of video games. I mean, a lot of games. Pretty much the first day I've felt close to normal since getting sick, plus with it being Saturday and not much on the schedule except for watching a couple of awesome playoff football games, it was the perfect opportunity to get some serious gaming in.
I actually almost forgot that I had to stop playing games so that I could write about one.
So I wrapped up a couple of games I've been meaning to, thus clearing the way to put some serious work in on other games. But there was one game today I felt inspired to play for this project for no particular reason other than it just makes me smile.
Derrick the Deathfin, released on the PSN a few months back, is the first game to be completely molded from papercraft, or the art of cutting and folding colored paper into shapes that resemble things, in this case, entire oceans of sea creatures and features. You play as a shark, aptly named Derrick, and you're mission is simple: eat everything in your path to make it to the end of each level without dying. The longer you go without a snack, the quicker you will die. You literally just swim about and obliterate everything in your path, even taking to the skies at some points in the levels to leap out of the water and eat birds, people or anything else that might be feeling safe above the waves.
The ultimate goal in the game is to take down evil, polluting corporations who are damaging the fragile ecosystems of the oceans with their machinery and toxic materials. Sure, it has a small political agenda, but what else could you do with a game about a shark?
The art style is just amazing. The development team literally built every character out of papercraft, then had their creations recreated in digital form. If you didn't know any better, it would be easy to think that you were just watching someone dangle papercrafted sea creatures on filament in front of cardboard cutout backdrops. In an industry where graphics are at the forefront of every discussion of how good a game is, it's refreshing to see an artistic and fun approach to the visual style of the game.
Eventually, the game gets repetitive, and some of the gameplay mechanics get frustrating, especially when attempting to complete certain objectives. That was the main reason for me deciding I was done with the game tonight. If you can't advance any further without achieving a goal, but that goal is frustratingly difficult to reach because the controls just aren't as tight as they should be, then it's really hard to keep playing, no matter how creative it looks when you fail over and over again.
It's a fun little game, and one I enjoyed playing, but without much replayability, it quickly falls into that category of "Glad I Played," but won't get much playtime in the future unless I feel really froggy and want to clean up some missing trophies.
Makes me want to go to an aquarium, to be honest. And any video game that makes you want to go out and do real things in the real world is accomplishing something much greater than simple digital entertainment.
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
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3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365