Wes and Dave discuss Majora’s Mask and games for next month.
I haven’t contributed to GameDrunk in a long time (unless you count encouraging Dave and Wes’ alcoholism), mainly
because I am a really lazy bastard, but in part due to life. As the resident Sony fanboy, I decided it was time to dust off the keyboard now that Sony has “revealed” the PlayStation 4, if you can define reveal without actually showing an actual product. It’s like saying you saw a basketball game by reading the sports page. They didn’t actually show a system, not even a block of wood with a PS4 logo etched into the side. Even cars will at least show a prototype model that may or may not bear any semblance of the final product. But no, all we got was the new controller, the car show equivalent of a steering wheel. That isn’t to say that Sony didn’t come with a list of specs, capabilities, and news. So, here it is from a Sony fan; The Good, The Meh, and The Ugly of the PlayStation 4.
It really says something when a lot of the good points you present aren’t actually on display, but in a specs list. Truth be told, this part is more like a developer’s presentation, but it was enough to feed the guys who love to argue for their favorite console in the console wars. So here it is: The CPU is an x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” processor. What this means is that Sony changed their architecture again, but this time they took it mainstream. It will be much easier for developers to design for the system. This means they will be able to get pretty much any third-party developer to work with them without having a learning curve, and it prevents the embarrassing moments of developers ranting against the PlayStation in interviews.
As a fan of the PlayStation brand I am excited to think that my go-to system will start from an even playing field when it comes to getting great third-party titles. The benefits of this are seen already as Blizzard has announced Diablo 3 is coming and Bungie, of Halo fame, is bringing their next game to PlayStation. But there is a negative aspect to accessibility. Die hard Sony fans know that there is something about the first-party titles that draws them in. There is a degree of delicacy that shows the developers have had to put in extra effort in the proprietary development structure and once they gain proficiency with it can get some fine details out of far less hardware than you will see on other systems. To this day I could not tell someone why I love Gran Turismo like I do, but there is always just a certain feel to it that calls to me. We could lose that uniqueness. A PlayStation game built in a popular architecture might be the gaming equivalent of every time Budweiser tries to make a new specialty beer. Speaking of mass produced shit, being easy to develop for is not always the best thing. The amount of shovelware will be incredible. Going to buy that AAA title will be like looking for your favorite import beer in a cooler full of Bud Light.
Moving beyond the CPU is the GPU. This will be an AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next chip that they claim can do 1.84 TFLOPS. I am still not sure when we started making up words for processing capabilities, but teraflops sounds like something a drunk Dr. Seuss, or my dad, would come up with. Naming conventions aside, I have been around technology long enough to know that is fairly impressive in the console world. This is even more impressive when placed with the available memory, which will be a shared 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. This is 16 times more memory than the total that was in the PS3. Even better, this is shared between the CPU and GPU, where the PS3 had 256MB dedicated to each. This means that the PS4 can be weighted to focus more on processing or graphics as needed. It will give developers more flexibility. I have already heard comments about the PS4 being better than top end gaming PCs. There are more powerful PCs out there now and by the time the PS4 launches near the end of this year PCs will have moved on. So, the console war has begun with the same hyperbole we are all used to.
A lot of what this means has been shown in some previews of AAA sequels. Most notable are Killzone: Shadow Fall and InFamous: Second Son. This should be good news for the more traditional gamer. What we love about our games is still there. Besides, what would a system launch be without space marines, zombies, aliens, or Nazis? And we get Space Nazis!!! And if you must absolutely have aliens, they did preview new title Destiny. It is hard to determine what any of these new titles will bring us, so what category they fall under is still to be decided on.
The final tech specs that fall under Good are a few welcome friends. A BD/DVD optical drive, along with news that used games will still be allowed. Wired and wireless Internet along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. And finally, HDMI, Analog, and Digital optical A/V connectors. If you still have that massive 48″ rear-projection screen standard definition TV you bought off a friend upgrading to HDTV then you can still use it. And considering the disturbingly large number of people I know still using SDTVs, that can be nothing but good. But will Sony toss us an HDMI cable this time around or not?
Now for something we did see. The Dualshock 4 wireless controller. The form factor is similar to the DS3, but now there is a capacitive touch pad, stereo headset jack, and a light bar. Touch is the new motion this generation. To be honest, I don’t care. I fear this will lead to a lot of mobile game ports. But as anyone who has tried using a touch pad on a Windows 8 laptop can tell you, a touch pad is not a touch screen. It works differently, and that will mean a bit of getting used to. Then there is the light bar, which will interact with the new camera, much like the Move light. So it is a Sixaxis Move with touch capabilities. I’m not sure this is a good thing. As it is now, standard controllers have 14 buttons (counting the D-Pad and R3 and L3 buttons). Very few games utilized the Sixaxis with the full range of buttons. Where adding Move and touch controls will improve games I don’t know. I see the benefit to not needing to buy tons of peripherals, but I can see nightmarish control schemes being created.
As for the headset jack, Sony confirmed we will have cross-game chat. Glad to see they got right on top of that, seven years after Microsoft. Ultimately, I don’t use a lot of chatting in games that don’t use team strategy. But this will likely play a role in the rest of the features. Sony is going social. You can share your gameplay and even let a friend take over to help you. My problem is that I never have any games share my latest achievement on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, aside from a few people I want to block, I don’t see most people do it. But when you combine a touch pad and this, I see a lot of FarmVille style games and my message inbox being loaded up with requests to harvest something or give a gift. It is all the reasons I avoided social games until I could put them on my phone and turn off the social aspects.
All this online capability will go even further. You can rent games via streaming and try them before buying them. Similarly you can play PS1,PS2, and PS3 games via streaming. You can also begin playing a game before it finishes downloading. My initial reaction was that this seemed awesome. But the more I thought about the more I kept thinking about OnLive. Most people who game online in the US have the Internet speed to play online multiplayer, but do we have what we need to do lag-free cloud gaming? To add to that, I know of a number of people in parts of Europe and Australia who still have monthly data caps. There are also talks of cable companies considering tiered data packages, like wireless companies have. There is a very real possibility that, despite the bandwidth, streaming games won’t be a feasible plan. As for the backward compatible via streaming:
the lack of backward compatibility isn’t a huge shock. I suspected it would happen. I didn’t think Sony would actually be dumb enough to do it after the kerfuffle that happened with the loss of PS2 backward compatibility and the removal of OtherOS on the PS3, but I also know that Sony has a way of just kicking their customers in the balls against all reason, and then acting like we are the assholes for complaining. But PSN purchases? The biggest selling point of digital media is that it is available to you anytime, anywhere, on any related device. Sony is making the largest case against digital media that they can with the PS4 by doing this, but on a system that they are touting cloud/streaming gaming as a main selling point. Oh, I can “own” a game on the cloud? When will you stop supporting that? Fuck you, Sony.
Let me break it down like this. In my house we have two iPhone 4s, an iPhone 5, and an iPad. All four devices use the same iTunes account and any apps or in-app purchases that have been bought are available to all devices. In fact, the only compatibility issues on smart devices occur when an app is designed specifically for new hardware that older devices lack, but no one expects forward compatibility to continue on indefinitely. So, every iOS and Android user knows how this should work. If you buy something, you own it and get to keep it. Even if an app is taken off the store you can back it up on your PC. But Sony doesn’t understand that concept.
This is the point when we should all ask Sony why we should purchase any digital media from them. The issue that is being overlooked is that as soon as they take down the PS3 servers in three years or so (ten-year lifespan, remember?) your PSN purchases will only last as long as they stay on a working PS3′s hard drive, unless it has an online-only DRM scheme (Looking at you Capcom). The real kick to the nuts will come to PlayStation Plus users who have been promised that they will get to keep their free content as long as they have a PlayStation Plus subscription. That will now mean only until the PlayStation 3 servers quit running or the PS3′s Plus program is ended.
Sony, let’s talk. I’m a fan of your stuff. I love LBP, GoW, GT, MGS, and many of your other exclusive titles. But this is inexcusable. I want to give you my money. I want to play your games. But I expect a little good faith in return. Those streaming backward compatible titles had better be free for anything I own. I bought the entire MGS saga, twice. I also bought the God of War HD collection. I have every Gran Turismo and a cockpit setup to match. Hell, I paid the $100 for the GT5 Collector’s Edition and even went out of my way to meet Lucas Ordonez (The first GT Academy winner) at a Le Mans race. I am a PS+ subscriber. And as I said before, I have a 320 GB HDD in my PS3 that is full of games and add-ons. My Rock Band song list is competing with iTunes right now. Explain to people like me why you didn’t make getting at least some of this stuff transferred over a priority in development. I honestly cannot say if even Gran Turismo (the reason why the PlayStation has always been my primary gaming console) will lure me in to buying a PS4.
Ultimately, what I have learned from the Playstation 4 announcement is that we, as consumers, have no reason to trust Sony going forward unless there are a lot changes before launch (and history says it will). Apple and Google have shown a proper understanding of the customer/business relationship when it comes to digital downloads and they are each rumored to be getting into the console business. Sony just convinced me that I should see what those two might give us before buying a Playstation 4.
I happened to stumble on to a group of musicians with an affinity for retro game music this weekend. Playing through Majora’s Mask Saturday morning and being less-than-thrilled with the games music I commanded my laptop to engage Youtube’s abundance of video game inspired music. One group I’d never heard of before popped up: The OneUps.
First of all let me preface this article by saying I am a Dave Matthews Band fan. That statement can get your ass kicked in some places and get you called a pussy in others. I don’t care, I like them. I’ve been to three of their shows and enjoyed each one more than the last. The best part of DMB for me is the instrumentation and song writing (at least musically; lyrically I’m often left wanting more than “I love you”). The band features such a great mixture of instruments, be they stringed or brass, and a thus are capable of putting out a phonically-pleasing sound. The OneUps are VGM’s DMB. They have: guy on the electric fiddle; guy on saxophone; dynamite bass player; guy on drums; dudes with guitars. Observe their mastery of “Brinstar” from Super Metroid.
There are many different groups out there who cover and remix VGM at a high degree of excellence. The OneUps are one of those elite groups. Perhaps they didn’t compose these tunes, but their arrangements are inspired and worth your attention (and money–albums available on the Amazon MP3 Store).
The rest of the set includes a couple from Chrono Trigger (Chrono Trigger, Secret of the Forest, Schala), Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country, ToeJam & Earl (Toejam Jammin’), and Sonic the Hedgehog (Green HIll Zone).
Welcome to February!!!
Game of the Month Club part one: Complete.
Enjoy the discussion.
Some video game series have been known for great things, whether it be the impeccable storytelling of Final Fantasy, the environmentalness of Metroid, the scope of adventure brought forth through The Legend of Zelda, or the back-against-the-wall, fuck-you-up-edness of Halo. Many ‘great’ series are known for many different things, but I venture to say that a series cannot be great without the accompaniment of great music. One feature we plan to unveil through MusicBox over the coming weeks/months/years is the divulgence of video gamedom’s finest, blue-chip series and the terrific music that enhances an already great collection of games.
Series to be covered (as of this moment) include:
- Final Fantasy
- Legend of Zelda
- Super Mario Bros.
- Chrono Trigger/Cross
- Elder Scrolls
- Mega Man
- Mass Effect
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Dragon Quest
- Super Smash Bros. (the greatest hits collection of the group)
Have any suggestions for superb video game series that tickle the ear as much as one’s fancy? Comment and let us know!
I’ve long had an obsession with video game music. The simply-complex tracks that used to fill my bedroom emanating from my NES left quite an impression, enough so that I felt compelled to create this feature dedicated to some of the finest video game music (VGM) I have come across.
This introductory post seeks to lay out the vision I have for the feature. With awards season violently thrust upon us I began pondering silly questions like, ‘Which series has the best music?’ and, ‘What is the best overall VGM track?’. So, with that in mind, you can probably expect to see that sort of bullshit in the near future.
I also plan on delving into good sources for VGM, like podcasts that give the medium its due, fan sites like OC Remix, and other artistic recreations of the finest tunes found on YouTube. Exciting, I know. But, if you’re anything like me, you understand what a profound effect good VGM can have on you, creating the want to play that title all over again as nostalgia comes sweeping over you.
Half way through the first month of our official Game(s) of the Month Club, Dave and I have each completed our selected games. The swap has happened, now it is time for Dave to tackle Stranger’s Wrath and me to dive into Metroid Other M. But, before we do that, here are our thoughts on the games we picked out ourselves:
I was a fan of the weird art style and atmosphere that was created with the Oddworld franchise. While I enjoyed Abe’s Oddysee and Exodus, I generally lean to games with more action – or at least more powerful protagonists. Stranger’s Wrath provided the perfect combination of ass-kicking protagonist and overall oddness that I had always wanted from an Oddworld title.
There is no convoluted back story hampering the introduction to the game. You are thrust into your role as a bounty hunter and you begin your bounty-taking killing spree from the time you press start. When you take your bounties into town, the story begins to unfold and you begin to piece together the mystery of your character; the on they call, The Stranger. This is not Citizen Kane. In fact, at some points the missions are presented to you in such a blunt and straight-forward manner that it almost seems as if they are making fun of the all too common mechanics used in video games to progress the story line.
Early bounty missions are very similar and start to become very repetitive right around the time they start switching things up on you and the story moves in a completely different direction. Cool characters, good dialogue, hilarious characters to interact with, spot on controls and just an overall high level of attention to detail and production value make this a game worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Some of you may remember any number of drunken diatribes I’ve scrawled upon these parts of the Internet in times past wherein I lambaste Metroid: Other M mercilessly. I am an admitted Metroid fanboy, having cut my teeth on the NES original and played through each iteration since. I was pumped about Other M upon release, then I played it, then I started hating Nintendo for what they did to my jam. Time has passed, though, and I’ve grown as a human. The Game of the Month Club offered a chance at redemption for Wii-troid, and I’m pleased to say, it didn’t help all that much.
The story in the Metroid series was always appealing to me, but I never thought it was Ivanhoe or anything. They used lame and uninspired names like “Space Pirate” and referred to an overly-attached Metroid hatchling as “the baby”. This shit is science fiction; let’s get creative! This go-round, Samus, who is a bounty hunting loner, is constantly seeking the approval of her former superior officer. She has an arsenal that has laid waste to the Metroid species as well as the Space Pirate conspiracy, but she doesn’t use it until Adam suggests it might be a good idea. “Samus, you’re getting your ass kicked down there. Maybe you should use your Plasma Beam.” Solid fucking thinking; this is why you are in charge. About 75-80% through the game the story picked up to a point where it was kind of enjoyable, but then it reverted back to its overly-contrived ways and started shitting melodrama again.
The last point I want to touch on here at the mid-month update is the game’s control scheme: it is not good. A, the Wii-mote is terrible to begin with. The nunchuk is not utilized; the classic controller is not expoited. It’s just you and the Wii-mote, left to trudge through the Resident-Evil-esque-fixed-camera-angle environments until a 1st-person view is required. At that point you have the pleasure of turning your remote towards the TV and waiting for the slowest of on-screen transitions as you move from 3rd-person to clumsily attack anything that happens to be directly in front of you, hoping your lock-on does its job and hones in on an enemy for a missile shot. It’s shit like this, Nintendo.
My expectations were as low as they could be, so at least I can say I wasn’t disappointed with the game any more than I had been. I’m glad I played through it because now I don’t feel bad when I complain of Team Ninja’s steaming turd that is Metroid: Other M. The characters are shallow, especially the series’ heroine, and the story, while it has some good points, feels like it was written by a forlorn teenager who got their fan fiction published. Metroid Prime had a good thing going, Super Metroid an even better allure, while Other M just feels like a monumental step backwards.
Our newest (and probably only) on-going feature takes the form of a game-of-the-month club, akin to a book club. Wes and I will both choose a game for the month, play it for two weeks, then play each other’s game for two weeks. This format allows both of us to play the same game from start to finish and bring our own, unique perspectives to the table for some in-depth dialogue over a chardonnay and mild brie. We are both picking games that we have never played before but always wanted to, or games that we’ve played before but never given much of a chance, or games that we’ve played before and wanted to beat but never put forth the effort. Some games are retro (8-, 16-, 32\64-bit) while some are newer (within the last couple of generations), but all piqued our interest enough to be included in this year’s grouping.
The two games chosen for January 2013 are Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, from Wes, and Metroid: Other M, from me. Anyone that has followed this site in any capacity likely knows my bloodfeud with Nintendo started upon the release of Other M because, in my eyes, they ruined what was great about Metroid. It was a waste of $50 then (because I bought it brand new, obviously) and only got about 4 hours’ worth of my attention before I wrote it off as a steaming pile of dog shit. My expectations at that time were so vast that the game was likely to disappoint no matter how good or bad it actually was. The fact that it disappointed me so greatly, though, really soured me on the Wii experiment (which I kept trying to believe in) and led to my refusal of support for their subsequent offerings, like the WiiU and 3DS. The gimmick-filled nature of Nintendo has grown tiresome to me and left me disinterested, and a little hurt. So, I figured with the absolute lowest of expectations possible, I might actually be able to even slightly enjoy Other M and, thus, get my money’s worth. Plus, being a huge Metroid series fan, my perspective has not been anywhere close to objective, but Wes comes in as an unbiased gamer, never grasping on to Metroid in the same fashion I have. I’ll be very interested to see what he thinks of Other M as just a game because, for me, it is very hard to judge the game by itself with the series so dear to me.
Wes picked Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath because he always wanted to play it but never did, I think. You’ll have to ask him for a more-long-winded reason…if you really want to.
I’ve been out of school for 3 weeks now, a newly-graduated Masters student, and yet I haven’t done a goddamn thing to the site since. Call it laziness, if you must, because quite frankly, you wouldn’t be wrong. Still, the year 2012 is coming to a close, and with that I have some shit I want to talk to you about. Oh, sure; you may not care about what I want to say, nor do you feel the need to proceed any further through this article. To that I say deal with it and keep reading. If you don’t, I will find you.
Bought myself Assassin’s Creed III for a graduation gift. The prevailing feeling so far is one of awesomeness. It’s still Assassin’s Creed, but the setting is fucking terrific. It is a completely under-utilized era in video games, which is what helped make the first two games of the series interesting. The game throws you through a slight loop about 20% into it, switching characters on you, a la Metal Gear Solid 2. Still, despite the connection I made with the first character, I ended up enjoying the change much more than I expected. I never completed either of the first two games, which has me a bit lost in the story of ACIII. Actually, the premise of the game (rather, the implications), seem fucking ridiculous. I find myself completely uninterested in the plot points taking place in the game’s “present”. Instead, I thrive on the events that take place in Old Boston and the Massachusetts frontier, just as I embraced Venice and Rome’s exploits in ACII.
Wes and I just completed our annual play-through of ToeJam & Earl, which was streamed live (and judging from the zero viewers, I’m willing to bet you didn’t fucking see it). I can’t tell you how skeptical I am of this game year-in and year-out. “I don’t really give a shit about this game, but I know Wes really likes it, and I really like playing old games, so what the fuck.” And then I start playing it, and I’m indifferent for about 15 minutes, and then I am totally fucking hooked. ToeJam & Earl does something very incredible in that they craft a ridiculous, random world for you to transverse (preferably with a compatriot) with a new experience each and every time. Wes and I always beat the game, but it does not lack for the drama that it might not happen. We played for about 2.5 hours, and by the end, I found myself yearning for next year’s play-through. In fact, the game has sparked a Genesis resurrection within me, creating a need to play so many of the old Sega games that I never had much experience with in the past. It was this very feeling that led me to Half-Priced Books afterwards in search of Genesis gold. I found only one cartridge worth buying (at least in my eyes), and that was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, the true gem I discovered was the copy of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the XBOX 360 for $8.00. Needless to say, after playing through games like Fatal Labyrinth, Space Harrier (admittedly, a Master System game), and the Streets of Rage series I am smitten with Sega like I’ve never been before. The music has really come alive for me, and I always hated Genesis music because I thought it sounded muddy and uninspired. How very wrong I was; tracks on games like Shinobi III and Sonic and Knuckles help prove that the 16-bit era was the definitive Golden Age of video game music.
On the radar: The only game I am mildly interested in is Ni No Kuni for the PS3 because, hey, Studio Ghibli. The problem is my PS3 has not worked since April and I haven’t replaced or fixed it yet. I was briefly (and I mean, like, 5 minutes’ worth) interested in a WiiU when I came into some extra graduation dollars, but I wisely squandered that money on Magic cards and my wife.
Up next for the Drunkards: Wes and I will be introducing a new dynamic to the site in January. We will be initiating a game of the month (two, actually) feature whereby we’ll play games that we always wanted to play, always meant to play more of, or games that got a bad rap the first time around and deserve a fresh attempt. We’re still trying to narrow down candidates, though I think for my first choice I’ll be playing Deus Ex on Steam. The idea is I pick a game, Wes picks a game, we play those games for two weeks, then we swap and play the other person’s game for two weeks. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide a more-balanced take on games that have been called classic over the years. I personally am looking forward to a few other titles, like Grim Fandango and Baldur’s Gate, neither of which I’ve sampled before.
It’s an odd thing, online poker, as it tends to exist in its own special space, devoid of any rules to attach to it as where it should be classed. It’s no longer just a game of chance – multiple countries have classed it as a game of skill, and given it comes in digital flavours, such as the renowned partypoker, it’s difficult to not classify it as an eSport, in a way.
But many gamers who view “online gaming” as something restricted to anything from Words with Friends, to World of Warcraft, to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, are not as likely to classify it as such. “There’s money at stake,” some of them might say. “It’s different.”
Well, let me ask you this. When you log onto Xbox Live and join in on a game of 1 Vs. 100, or you’re watching a Starcraft 2 championship that will yield a monetary reward for the winner, are they any different (yes, money for Starcraft – it’s a thing)? Any sane person would argue that they aren’t.
They also have a platform that many pro gaming networks do not (and unfortunately it’s still a major one, despite the internet streams) – television. Televised poker tournaments are a big thing, but they also work around the advantage that these are people playing a physical version of the same game. Not that anyone would complain about Magic: The Gathering taking to television, but that’s also not a major eSport.
While online poker slowly gains its bearings in the gaming world and pro gamers begin to actually look to poker as a way of progressing into a new career, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not people are willing to lay down their standard definitions of “online gaming” to embrace something new and exciting. Time will tell.
Everyone knew Halo 4 was going to be a juggernaut, the question was whether it was going to be any good. Let me assuage any concerns you may have immediately and say, yes, it is good. Quite good, in fact. 343 Industries grew out of Bungie’s Halo team, so it knows the series. 343 is responsible for the canon, the art design, the controls…everything. But Bungie is Bungie, which is akin to saying Samuel Adams knows how to make beer well. Halo 4 is a crisp, draft Sam Adams cascading into your glass, golden-amber bubbles invigorating your senses and aromatics inciting your salivary glands into overdrive. [SPOILER: For those who don't know, I drink the Halo Kool-Aid in epic proportions. Though I will also be first to tell you if something I thought was so promising sucked. I'm looking at you Metroid: Other M.]
Why is Halo 4 exemplary? Firstly the goddamn graphics of this game are ridiculous; 343 is seriously pushing the 360′s hardware. Gone are the blocky, blurry humans of Halo games past. The art crew for this game really captured basic human expressions and movements. I’d have to think motion capture was used, though I’m too lazy to delve into that right … … … OK, motion capture confirmed. Beyond the “actors” of the game, though, as always, Halo’s environments are astounding to look at. There are areas where sterility has set in, but those areas are meant to look that way. Apparently the Forerunners just couldn’t nail down interior design, but my god they figured out the whole floating tower thing.
It’s true. We really do.