Monday, January 30, 2012

For the Other Kind of Gamer

At some point in the last few decades, the word gamer has changed. Back in the stone age when I was a kid, I was a gamer. Because then, the word gamer meant someone who played role-playing games. You know those geeks with their Dungeons & Dragons and whatnot. There were dozens of other RPGs as well, and once a year, tens of thousands of gamers got together in Milwaukee for the GenCon. Some of this is still true, but some is not.

While the term gamer is different, now predominantly referring to videogames rather than nerds (it's okay for me to say the N word, cuz I am one) and their polyhedron dice, the games still exist in many different forms, and they are still folks who play them, again, myself included.

Now those who know me, know that I do a weekly vidcast about comic books, well, in case you didn't know, that format began as the All Things Fun! Podcast, which just relaunched this month after a long hiatus. The Podcast continues to present reviews and discussion on all the great games out there old and new, with its hosts Wes and Jess (if you think Allison is going to hit me at any given moment of the Vidcast, wait until you hear these two) and of course store owner Ed Evans. You can listen here.

And if that's not enough game stuff for you other kind of gamers out there, I would also suggest you try Not Just Another Gaming Podcast run by some really cool folks, and also friends of All Things Fun! as well.

And as long as we're talking about All Things Fun!, and non-electronic games, and you're in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, you might want to check their calendar for what gaming events are happening when! Shameless plug over. ;-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Here are the introductory cinematics for the new game Star Wars: The Old Republic from EA:

I can't be the only one thinking this. Why the hell did George Lucas give us The Phantom Menace, the rest of that crappy trilogy, or even Cartoon Network's "Clone Wars" when we could have had this?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Call Dr. Beat, or Anyone Else

At this point, I have about five dozen games downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. I wish I knew about this option before I ever went to the real bricks and mortar store to buy games, or had friends lend me games. As it stands, I haven't touched any of the purchases or lenders in months - I'm just playing free downloads. Burnout CRASH! is just one of them.

Burnout CRASH! is a racing game that is apparently part of Criterion Games' Burnout videogame series. I liked it immediately because it had old music ("Crash" by the Primitives circa 1988) for this old man, and that's a plus. The tunage was powered by Autolog, some kind of online gaming thing. They wanted me to buy into it, but I passed - I'm spoiled by all this free downloaded games.

At first glance, Burnout CRASH! appears to be what I like most about Smash Cars and the GTA games (and what I really wanted to like about Incredible Hulk) - smashing stuff. There is however a whole lotta introduction and directions. With so many rules, all the fun was being sucked out of this game more and more. Now I know I've complained about lack of directions before, but for a game where the point is to break stuff, it just seemed like far too much. Most infuriating of all was the voice of the stereotype west coast radio DJ constantly asking, "What are you waiting for?" That pissed me off.

The game itself is simple despite multiple unending instructions. You crash into an intersection with your car, and then blow up repeatedly, trying to cause as much collateral damage as possible. Sounds simple, right? Maybe I'm just not playing it right.

Just when I was convinced I couldn't be annoyed much more, I hear the song "Dr. Beat" by the Miami Sound Machine from the dark disco days before they let Gloria Estefan take more control. It's one of those songs that made folks hate disco. It made me hate disco. The tune plays whenever an ambulance comes onto the screen - which is a lot.

Take that, couple it with five to ten minutes of introduction, along with five to ten minutes of tallying my score, and I'm just angry. Why can't the game just let me break stuff in peace? And you know what even makes me more angry? I can play this game. I can operate the controller on this one. Too bad I'm not playing it any more. As of now, it becomes one of The Rejected. It made me too mad.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lions, and Robots, and Anime, Oh My!

I don't get Voltron. I mean I get it, I understand it, but I don't get it. It holds no nostalgic value for me. It came out some time after I traded cartoons for girls, you know, waaay back in college.

For those of you in my situation, I'll refresh your memories. "Voltron: Defender of the Universe" was an animated series in the early 1980s that was edited together with segments from two earlier Japanese animes called "Beast King GoLion" and "Armored Fleet Dairugger XV." It was done in much the same way "Power Rangers" was put together, only not live-action. In the American compilation, the Voltron Force are five individual who fight the forces of evil in five different colored robot lions, that can combine into one giant robot and fight the bigger badder menaces they can't on their own. It was a huge hit here in the States for boys and girls.

As I said, it was past my time, much like G.I. Joe or Transformers. Still, I like giant robots, and especially monsters, when I saw that a game called Voltron: Defender of the Universe was available for free download from the PlayStation Store, I thought, why not?

The game starts with a whole lot of animation, old animation, which makes me think it's probably from the original American TV series. There's a bunch of it, so much of it, that you expect that to be what the game is like, but no, that's not the case at all.

Had the game had a Japanese anime feel to it, it might have been a bit juvenile, but it would have worked. The game however is nothing like that. It's like a crisp high definition version of what the old 8-bit and 16-bit video games for Atari and Nintendo used to look like. If you were told that blue and red pixilated blur was supposed to be Superman, you just nodded and blindly accepted that.
This stolen-from-the-web pic is 100% clearer than what I saw in the game...

It's like that here. After about five to ten minutes of running my black segmented blob of shiny metal through bad obstacles and having it gobble up good obstacles, it occurred to me that might supposed to be the Black Lion. Yeah, it's like that. What I was able to see of the game was pretty, indistinguishable, and pretty primitive. I gave up out of boredom, not frustration. If there are giant robots or monsters, I wouldn't know. I didn't get that far.

If you got a hankering for Voltron, get over to Netflix, not to your PlayStation, just my opinion.