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Sat 11th Dec 2010

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TheGameSquid commented on First Impressions: Kirby Wii:

Not to disrespect your opinion, but I don't really get why you're so sure this will be so much better than NSMBWii, which you say is "uncreative, generic and completely played it safe". I think this looks awesome, but this looks like a total rehash too. It looks like every Kirby game since Super Star with awesome visuals. That's it. And judging from previous Kirby games, level design won't be above "okay" level and there also won't be much of a challenge. NSMBWii was weak from a presentation standpoint, but nailed everything. Incredible Single Player, hilarious Multi Player, godlike controls, delightful level design, hours upon hours of pure gameplay, an amazing balance between challenging and accessible gameplay (to me NSMBWii is the perfect game for the so called "Casual Player" and NOT games like Wii Sports) and those delicious star coins. I don't know how much more you can expect from a platformer. It seems like this one at least has an AWFUL lot of shoes to fill...

Still, purchasing this one as soon as I can though!



TheGameSquid commented on Games Do More Damage Than Passive Smoking, say...:

Yeah, and I think red is prettier than a car. If you want to have a serious discussion about this, they better start making comparisons that make sense instead of making them sound sensational. Don't get me wrong, I understand the comparison he's making, but what's the point here? Undoubtedly the ties between people who own a car and people who interested in owning a car are extremely strong. What does that tell us? Let me put it bluntly: a lot of young boys are interested in violence one way or another (take a slightly more abstract view if you will), so is it really all that surprising that those kids also play "violent" games, and at the same time display "violent" behaviour? Not to me. Studies have also shown that playing video games have had a very positive effect on children's ability to solve problems. Does that mean all games are positive for children? No. If there's one thing I'm sick and tired of, it's approaching sociological problems with statistics, just so you can catch a headline or two.

And while I know that it's just a stupid comparison he's making here, it's worth pointing out of course that cancer isn't the only reason you should smoke. There are many more negative side-effects to smoking, so the cancer comparison isn't a good one, since it doesn't show a good "use vs. damage caused" relation.



TheGameSquid commented on La-Mulana Hits Japan On 21st June:

Judging by how good the original free PC version was, this should (still) be one of the better games released this year. That is, IF we're going to see an international release this year...



TheGameSquid commented on WiiWare, Fez Developer Does Not Like You At All:

How very mature of you. The game's not coming to your favourite console? Then it must suck! If you had actually followed the development of Fez you probably wouldn't have said this. The game now boasts an incredible (and quite revolutionary, I might add) game engine, absolutely stunning graphics and a soundtrack that seems to be worth the price of the game alone. Everyone that has had some hands on time with the game so far seems to have liked it to some extent (most were blown away), and while this is in no way proof that the game will succeed, it seems to be an indication that it will. The game has performed quite well in the IGF too. It's been extremely high on my most anticipated list ever since it was first announced (which, unfortunately, was a LONG time ago).

Now, I can understand that people react negatively to Fish's odd behaviour. His secrecy about the game has made me angry quite a few times as well. But can you in all honesty claim that you DON'T understand his reaction? This is about someone who's simply trying to make a living out of making videogames, and Nintendo is effectively making sure he can't do this via their console. Whatever Nintendo's stance REALLY is, there is no mistaking that WiiWare itself is set up in a way to absolutely discourage indie developers from attempting to put their game on the service. And he's sort of correct about the no-demo part. If you don't have a 360 or a PS3 you might not understand this, but every single game on Xbox Live Arcade has a demo. It's required by Microsoft. Say whatever you want about MS, but the way they set up XBLA this generation (with its international releases and mandatory demos) is great. On WiiWare, there's a faint possibility that there will be a demo. I don't even think the developers have a whole lot to say about that. If Nintendo wants a demo, they'll take care of it in an awkward way. If they don't, well... tough luck! So in theory, Fish doesn't really have the ability to put a demo on the service. And having a demo for your game can be EXTREMELY important for an indie developer. Developing an indie game without publishing a demo is basically the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

We all know that the Wii could have been the ultimate Retro machine. The Virtual Console and the GameCube Backward Compatibility means the game covers the entire history of Nintendo home consoles. Because so many Retro gamers were interested in the Wii, WiiWare could have been the ultimate home for new, yet retro-styled games that couldn't appear on retail shelves. Since Fez does seem to have those "New Retro" aesthetics and design ideologies, WiiWare could have been a great place to deploy Fez. And this makes it even more frustrating for developers like Polytron to see the service in such bad shape. And it saddens me too.



TheGameSquid commented on WiiWare Super Meat Boy Gets Canned:

I made a small mistake in my previous post, SMB is now indeed under a NO-PS3 contract by MS according to the developer, my apologies for that. But this is of course AFTER Sony passed on them the first time around, so you can hardly blame MS for that. I'm curious why the hell Sony did pass on the game though. Team Meat managed to invoke quite a lot of attention when it was first announced.



TheGameSquid commented on WiiWare Super Meat Boy Gets Canned:

Guys, please read all the comments before posting. Everyone has said about a billion times that game was never even a WiiWare exclusive to begin with. Team Meat themselves stated specifically that they wanted to deploy the game on various consoles, and we all know XBLA is one of the prime interests for Indies. I in fact always assumed that the game was going to hit XBLA first.

I'm sure Team Meat did all they could to bring this game to Wii without cutting it to pieces. Those who have the 360 version like me know that they are very consumer friendly. They were the very first company that signed a deal with Microsoft to instantly put their game on sale in the first week of its sale, and they also managed to bypass Microsoft's harsh DLC rules so they can regularly update the game with FREE DLC. They are only a two-man team, so you can be sure these guys are willing to fight for their game.

On a technical side, I do think Nintendo restricts WiiWare games to 40Mb in actual size on the hard-drive, not just the download. SMB is only a 90Mb download, but it's much larger when it's sitting uncompressed on the hard drive. It would probably suck up half of your space on the Wii. I think Nintendo doesn't allow the ACTUAL size of the game on the drive to go over 40Mb either, but I could be wrong there. Many people here complain about the fact that Team Meat was "too lazy to deal with those restrictions". I don't think they were too lazy, but perhaps they were unwilling. If I was a small independent team I'm not sure if I was going to gut my game just to launch my game on an overtly restrictive download service. What's the point in the end? However, the fact that they even tried to deploy the game as a retail release clearly shows that they were absolutely willing to go pretty far to put their game on the system. How many developers have you seen who were willing to take such a risk? How many TWO-MAN developers have you seen who were willing to take such a risk? Right.

To those who are holding back into buying the game into 360, I want to say, go right ahead. At first I wasn't sure that I would want to play it with the 360 controller either (because of the D-Pad), but it turns out that SMB is quite heavily reliant on analogue controls. Both the movement AND jumping in SMB are analogue, and it's sometimes actually important to passing levels. After playing it a lot I'm actually quite convinced that they game would probably not play as good on the Wii as it would on the 360. But that's all hypothetical of course.

The ones that don't own a 360 should buy the game on PC. I don't like Steam all that much either, but the game is so good you probably want to make an exception here. You can use the (fantastic) 360 gamepad to play the game. Even I can play the game on the PC, and my PC can't play most games made after 2003. So basically everyone can play it.

The technical problems on the 360 are also extremely minor, it's just something with some autosaves not working which is extremely easy to avoid if you read up on the bug. The developers know precisely when it occurs I believe. Don't let that hold you back.

And the entire "Evil Micro$oft Contract of Devilish Exclusiveness" comments sound pretty misinformed either. The game is out on PC. Doesn't seem all that exclusive to me. And would they even by TRYING to put the game on the Wii if they were under such a contract? I think they probably signed a one-month exclusive contract so MS could launch it in their Game Feast promotion as a temporary exclusive. And if MS managed to give them a much more comfortable contract, perhaps Nintendo should show indie teams a little more love?

Anyway, I think people should be more careful before insulting a team of two extremely dedicated developers who have worked extremely hard these past few years to bring us this superb game. Please get a little more informed before making such harsh comments (I'm sure it really hurts the developers if they were to read some of the comments here, especially because a lot of them sound extremely unfair). I'm sure they are also very sad that they can't put the game on the Wii. But that's how it is.



TheGameSquid commented on Review: Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary...:

I disagree with the review. For one, it only considers the standpoints of "old-school fans". For some reason the only perspective possible for this release is that of someone who has already played the game. Was the GameCube version of Ocarina of Time worth it if you own the one version on the N64. Not really. Was it worth it if you had never played the game before? Sure.

I have never played All-Stars before. I only played it at some places (a friends house, and once in a shopping mall I believe), and I would really like to own this package. Getting the original cartridge is certainly going to cost you more than 25$, especially if you don't own a SNES (which I don't). I'm going to buy the game this Christmas, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a superb time playing the game. Why is it so impossible to just write a review and say "Hey guys, it's a superb game, but you know what, if you already own it, don't buy it twice!". That would have made more sense, especially because everyone is just trying to act all shocked and all, but there really isn't anything surprising about all this.

First of all, this isn't Mario's 25th anniversary. I've been trying to tell this to everyone for so many times, but we're celebrating the 25th anniversary of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, released alongside the NES in 1985. Mario is older than that. His first appearance is arguably in Donkey Kong, though he was only named Mario in Donkey Kong Jr. I believe, back in 1982. So we're only celebrating the "Bros" games.

Next fact: Super Mario World, Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine and a whole bunch of spinoffs ware available/playable on the Wii. Did anyone really expect Nintendo to try and meddle with the sales of its own games on the VC? Did anyone think ANY company for that matter was going to do that?

Considering these two facts, I'm ALMOST inclined to say Nintendo has more than enough reason to release ONLY these four games on the collection. And that's just fine by me. And I'm guessing 95% of the unsatisfied people already own these games. I don't see how getting these games in their exact same form was going to alter the situation. Were you really going to get the game so you could have Super Mario 64 on both a N64 Cartridge, the Virtual Console AND a Wii Disc? Why would that be worth your money?

The last thing I was going to talk about is something I'm only vaguely knowledgeable about, so pardon me if I make some (or a lot) of mistakes here and there. Super Mario All-Stars is a SNES game. If I'm correct, SNES games are programmed in Assembly Language, right? I think most game developers would consider programming a video game in assembly language an absolute pain, especially now that we're 25 years into the future, and such a thing has become obsolete in the world of game development. Going back and "altering" a ROM from 1995 written in assembly language is not all that easy, and I'm pretty sure "making it widescreen" is actually a pretty daunting task. I'm sure there wouldn't be a whole lot of people working internally at Nintendo who would be even comfortable doing so. Now, someone might say, "What about those GBA remakes, they did it for those games, right?". I'm not sure. I think they were actually remade from the ground up for that system, using SMAS as the base. And those games retailed for 50$ EACH. Surely that would have supported the development costs. Surely, they could have done a "complete remake" of SMAS, That would have cost them a bunch of cash, and perhaps the remake wouldn't even have seen the light of day. And perhaps this would have resulted in an uproar of the fans who wanted them to stay true to the original games.

What I mean to say is that the situation isn't as simple as it looks, and we all knew this was just going to be a simple port when it was first announced, right? Who seriously expected something else, looking at the evidence on display?

So, I'll write my own little review of the game:

Super Mario All-Stars is a collection of three superb remakes of three already fantastic games, plus a nice remake of a somewhat mediocre game (The Lost Levels). Those who have never played it should consider it a must-buy, and those who already own it probably shouldn't consider buying it again. Unless of course they really, REALLY want two copies of the game.
Sure, Nintendo could have included some nice extra stuff in here, but you can view as much old commercials, art-work, music or whatever for free on the internet. If we're going to judge the game merely on the cosmetic aspect, I think we're doing something wrong here.

There. That's it. That's pretty much wrapped up all there's to say about it I think. In conclusion, I think I should summarize by saying that I think people have judged this based purely on their dissatisfaction with the goodies, instead of just admitting that this is a superb game. I don't think this was made for the fans at all. I think Nintendo just wanted to re-introduce younger folks to great games of yore. If more companies decide to do this, fine by me. You can call it a cash-in, cheap, a sell-out, call it whatever you want. But I'm enjoying it immensely, just like many other people, and surely there can be nothing wrong with that?



TheGameSquid commented on Features: Don't Touch my Samus: Metroid's Cont...:

Alright, time to add my two cents to this article!

First of all, I respect everyone's opinion about this, and I have no intention to offend
anyone (I can often be a bit harsh), but I do have a rather strong opinion on the subject.

Let's get some things straight first. I like Metroid: Other M. It's a great action game, and
despite some occasionally wonky controls, I think it's a great attempt to bring the classic
Metroid side-scrolling games to a more modern 3D style, and I would like Nintendo to continue
down the 2D/3D road. However, I have some problems with the story in Other M, and I think this
article largely ignores the TRUE reasons of the negative backlash.

You see, Other M is not the first game to portray Samus as a character with real emotions.
Pretty much every game since Metroid II have given us insight into the protagonist. I think
the designers have always managed to put a great amount of story into the key sequences of the
games, and I do have the feeling that Samus has developed a strong character over the course
of the games, perhaps a little slowly.

Other M differs in two different ways for me:

1) The narrative framing is TOO different. Let's take the previous Metroid games and have a
look at them. Samus does talk a few times during those games, but it's all pretty limited.
It's safe to say that Samus remains largely silent throughout the series. To me, Samus was
always a character that seemed cursed in a way. Since the assault on KL-2, Samus seems
destined to hunt down the Space Pirates, and the Metroids they try to abuse. All of her
attempts seem futile, as she constantly seems to re-encounter the enemies she thought she had
wiped out for good (Ridley, the Space Pirates, Mother Brain, the Metroids). She's locked in an
eternal battle that is both intensely personal and of intergalactic important at the same
time. And yet, she seems to accept this terrible destiny without hesitation. She knows she was
made to do this, and I find this strong selfless behavior very touching. I think we all wish
we could of be of importance to someone, but we get scared when it asks too much of ourselves.
Not for Samus. She has no home. She knows no peace. She's always out there. Now, some people
might say: "She's a bounty hunter, of course she's always doing missions!". For me,
that's not entirely true. Sure, Samus frequently receives "missions" from the Federation, but
we don't actually see that happening in the games. In fact, we never see Samus receiving a
"true" reward, we don't see her enjoying fame and the biggest reward I can remember that she
gained was either the 5 second applause from the Luminoth in Prime 2 or a salutation from
Admiral Dane in Prime 3. Other M creates a stronger connection between Samus and the
Federation, featuring a large amount of Federation soldiers and a HUGE amount of voice acting.
To me, this diminishes the feeling of selflessness that was always such a strong part of Samus
because it once again puts an emphasis on the fact that she, after all, a bounty hunter.
Metroid Prime 3 already had voice acting and a more cinematic presentation, and I never liked
that. However, I could sort of understand the decision. After all, Corruption was the end of a
trilogy, and no doubt Retro wanted to give the game a more "epic" feel to make sure players
really felt like they were playing the closing chapter in a long saga.

2) The next issue is the biggest problem with the game. In fact, I'd say it's a huge problem
that's been plaguing Japanese gaming for the last 12 years or so. I'd something I always like
to refer to as "explicit characterization" (I know, it's a stupid term). What this means is
that the developers try to make the protagonists more interesting by giving them several
different characteristics. And then they shove it in your face. They shove it in your face so
HARD that your nose starts to bleed. How common is to see characters from Japanese games
complain about their feelings or give you elaborate explanations about how the feel or
experience a certain situation? It's pretty much in every contemporary jRPG.
Now, you may say "What's wrong with that?". My problem is that this is not how it works.
People aren't like this. Our minds don't work like this. For starters, we usually don't talk
openly about our problems. Two people often have to work very hard to truly "understand" each
other. We also don't understand our own minds well enough to explain our behavior. We often
find ourselves being happy or sad, but can we truly explain why? We are often afraid of
things. For example, I'm afraid of talking to people I don't know or entering buildings that I
don't know the layout of. I would have a lot of trouble explaining someone why, even though
it's a big part of my life. The human mind is immensely complex, and we lie to ourselves
constantly to make things even more difficult. I now of very few people that are willing to
talk so openly about their ACTUAL emotions. Sure, you must of met hundreds of people that
complain about this or that, or act like they were hurt by something, or who say they hate
someone, etc. But these are all very superficial emotions that mostly take place within the
frame of our society. Samus is open about her feelings in a way that not only works in an
alienation way, but also in one that comes across as unconvincing.
Let's take another medium/form for example. Let's say you were watching a (good/mature) movie
about a dysfunctional family where the husband and wife are having trouble living together.
How would we notice this? Would the film be successful by letting the husband or wife narrate
the entire thing in first person rambling on and on about how she feels towards her husband?
Most likely not. The feeling of social discomfort is often achieved by given away by small
signs of annoyance. They might not take much interest in each others hobbies. They might talk
about different things to each other over dinner, or they might be silent during a ride in the
care. Perhaps the wife would never looks her husband in the eyes, or they might sleep with
their backs turned to each other. These are all small and perhaps silly examples, but I think
you get my point. Telling us about the characteristics and emotions of characters is much more
satisfying when it is slowly revealed and when the viewer/player/reader has an active
involvement in the process (the process of deducting those very emotions from the behavior of
the people that play a large role in the story). In other words, it's often better to avoid
the "explicit characterization".
I recently saw the film adaption of Richard Matheson's brilliant novel I Am Legend. I didn't
expect all that much from it, but I still wanted to give it a chance because I loved the novel
so much. In the end I thought it was a piece of for various reasons.
The most obvious criticism would be that the film was not even remotely similar to the novel
(Here's a small anecdote: leading up towards the release of the movie, there was a small qui
that was being organized on the main site of MSN. My sister saw it and asked me to answer the
question because she knew I read the novel. The question was "What creatures live on the post
-apocalyptic Earth in I Am Legend". I said the answer was "Vampires". Everyone who read the
novel knows that this is the correct answer. But according to the quiz, it was incorrect. The
correct answer was "Zombies". And indeed, as I afterwards saw, the movie barely explains that
the creatures are Vampires, and it is indeed more likely to assume that they are zombie-like
creatures. THAT'S how unfaithful it is to the novel. But I'm getting off-topic). But another
criticism is that the main character was WAY too vocal for my tastes. If I would have made the
movie, I would have chosen to let the Robert remain largely silent. The power of telling us
messages through visual and aural means is HUGELY underestimated these days. Another example:
The Thin Red Line. A lot of people I know HATE Terrence Malicks third masterpiece because of
the voice-over narrations. To a lot of people, the poetic first-person narrations (I couldn't
find an example on YouTube, but a good quote/sample is used in the first part of a song called
Have You Passed Through This Night by Explosions in the Sky, which you can listen to here: of the movie sound pretentious or impenetrable. I
don't agree. I think a lot of people mistake the actual words being spoken for true things
being told by the characters. I don't see it like that. To me, these narrations are simply
thought from the deepest subconsciousness of the characters put into words. These thoughts are
unframed by the definitions of emotions found in our contemporary society, thus making them
more free for interpretation and (for me at least) more touching.
Yet ANOTHER example would be the first person narration used in the film adaptation of The
Road (which I thought was a very fitting, beautiful and humble adaptation of a deeply moving
novel). In the opening lines The Man (played by Viggo Mortensen) gives us an overview of the
situation on the devastated Earth. He talks to us about the death of trees, animals, the
cannibalism, and the fading hope in both him and his son. Some people once again interpret
this as an "explicit way" of talking about the emotions of the characters. ONCE AGAIN I
disagree (are you surprised?). It is the cold, dry and hopeless way of speaking about these
terrible things that makes this scene so beautiful and haunting, not the actual things being
said per sé.
One last example from that same film. There is a scene where The Boy basically says he want to
go up to his dead mother, who he believes is in heaven.

They could have said it like this:
The Boy: "Pop, I want to die so I can be with Mommy in heaven."

But that would have ruined the entire movie and would have resulted in either a facepalm or a
loud yelp of agony from me. Instead this is what was really said.

The Man and The Boy are sleeping in a truck. The Man is still awake but The Boy is lying in a
bed behind The Man.
The Boy: "I wish I was with my Mom."
The Man hesitates: "Do you mean you wish you were dead?"
The Boy: "Yeah."

When I first saw this scene in the movie it hit me like a sledgehammer. I literally felt like
the air was knocked out of my lungs and I immediately felt tears well up in my eyes. It's a
moment you only experience a few times in your life.

Okay, now I'm really getting a bit off-topic. What I'm trying to say is that it's pretty much
NEVER a good idea to serve your story, characteristics and emotions in an "explicit" way to
your reader/player/viewer. It makes little sense compared to our real world, it destroys all
room for interpretation, and it insults the intelligence of the reader/player/viewer, as it
insinuates that we wouldn't be able to figure it out on our own. All those things are
situations a competent script-writer would want to avoid. The writes of Other M made those
mistakes on top of a script that was already mediocre, and slaps some so-so voice-acting on
top of it, including a rather unfitting.

And, as a final note, I would like to chime in on the entire "high heels" issue. I usually
find high-heels very unattractive, and I often find it irritating that this is imprinted on
the mind of women as "universally attractive and feminine". We should all wear what we find
attractive, not just because we know other people think we look good because the person
resembles the stereotype built up in the media. It makes Samus more of a female stereotype
than she ever was in my opinion (Yes, I know she only wore a bikini at the end of the first
Metroid on NES, but how else would you make it so that there would be absolutely no mistake
what so ever about her femininity with 8-bit graphics?). On top of that, it makes absolutely
ZERO sense for the tasks she has ahead of here, including sprinting at lightning speed and
wall-jumping! And it makes her look like the stupid shoe-shopping shallow blonde that I always
thought she wasn't.

There. That's pretty much all I've got to say about the subject I think. It's not her emotions
that are most bothersome, but the way she shows them to us. Sorry for going on for so long,
but I wanted to make my first post here super-awesome!

Great game though