Monday, 23 January 2012

To The Moon

Usually I use this blog as an excuse to moan and make petty arguments about various problems I have with gaming.  However on this occasion I want to use my powers for good!!

I recently had the pleasure of playing through To The Moon (three times to be precise), and it is, without doubt, the most moving story I have every encountered within a game.  Freebird games has created something truely special, a game that has the power to truely move the player, and leave a lasting affect after the game has been played.

It tell's the story of a two memory technicians, that during the course of the game travel back through the memory of a dying man named Jonny, to create a new life within his head, one where he fulfilled his dying wish, of going to the moon.  However this game is not about grand adventures to space, but rather the complicated and heartbreaking relationship Jonny has with his deceased wife River.

To say anymore would ruin the game, but it covers issues not many games would risk covering, and weaves a story that you MUST experience.  To cap all this off, the soundtrack is amazing, and perfectly compliments this amazing one of a kind game.

I have never done this before on this blog, but this is a selfless plug.  I am not being paid to advertise this game, and have no connection to Freebird games, but I strongly encourage you to buy this game via the link below.

I promise you won't regret it:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Gabriel Knight 'Tape on the cat' Puzzle

It all seems so simple.  You're stuck in a small French town, and need a mode of transport.  Of course being a small town there's only one place in town that hires out bikes, and demand is high.  In fact all they have left for you is a little 50cc scooter.  Sad times!

Now how can I get my hands on that green beauty? Fraud I suspect.

But wait!  There is a Harley in stock, but sadly it has been reserved for your good friend Mosley.  No problem you think to yourself, you can just steal his identity.  All you need to do is steal his passport, and disguise yourself to match his bald passport photo.  EASY! RIGHT?

No, it's not bloody easy.  Since this is the world of adventure gaming.  A genre that has always battled with its aging ways.  One game that really brought to light some of the genres biggest flaws was Gabriel Knight 3, which of course contains the now infamous cat hair puzzle.  Well infamous withing nerdy adventure gaming circles.  The puzzle is the perfect example of the often illogical and baffling puzzles that are used to beef up adventure games and fill in the gaps between story elements. 

The most confusing element of this puzzle was the need to obtain a false moustache.  The best way to do this?  Stick some double sided tape to a gate, and then chase a cat through it.  The most obvious answer really when you thing about it.  This took me ages to work out, and when I finally solved it a felt no sense of pride, but a sense that I had been bent over by the game designers, and that they had not been gentle.

That's Mosely in the middle.  No moustache!!!
Don't even get me started on the fact that Mosley, the poor sap who we are defrauding, does NOT have a moustache.  Of course the way around this is to draw a moustache on his passport in marker pen.

This is the biggest problem with the puzzle.  Mosely does not have a moustache, so why in gods name do we need to draw one on his passport in marker pen, so that we can then use a fake one ourselves.  Surely it looks a bit strange that the moustache is crudely drawn on in marker pen?

Amazingly this disguise works?  I decided to try it myself, so drew a moustache on my wife's passport, strapped a stray cat to my face, and then tried to obtain entry to America.

Fair to say, I won't be allowed back.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nintendo 3DS - Fat Buster

A lot of focus has been placed on the 3D aspect of the 3DS, but one feature of Nintendo’s handheld wonder seems to have slipped by relatively un-noticed.   On closer inspection however, this humble blogger feels that Nintendo may have solved the worlds obesity problem with one subtle feature, or at least taken a bite out of it, no pun intended.  That feature, is the built in pedometer.

The answer to Child Obesity?

Let’s face it, convincing children to exercise can be an uphill struggle, and although Microsoft made some inroads into this area with Kinnect, the end result was a lot of frantic arm waving and bad dancing.  If only there was a way to encourage the youth of today to get on the move.  Well Nintendo has the answer, why not pay them?  Not in real money, because of course that would be ridiculous and probably cost Nintendo more cash than the Virtual boy disaster.  Instead payments are made in virtual coins, which are rewarded by the 3DS’s pedometer.  These coins can then be used to purchase games and various goodies via the 3ds, genius! Now if only those coins could be used to solve the world finical crisis.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Rated 18 - Gaming, Violence and Parents

Completely meaningless??

Today's rant was inspired by a trip to my local games store.  I was browsing the 2 for £10 preowned section (blogging doesn't pay well) when I  overheard a conversation between a mother and her child, who looked around 12.  The conversation went like this:

Child : Mother, please may I have this awesome looking Gears of War 3 game?
Mother : Why of course Kevin, but make sure you share it with your 2 year old brother.

Ok, so I forgot how it went exactly, but the main point is she bought it for him, without a second thought about its content or the fact that it was rated eighteen.  This has always pissed me off.  We can't go two weeks without the Daily Mail starting some cruscade against violent games and how they warp our children, yet here we have a parent bypassing the clear ratings system to give her little darling a slice of mindless violence.

She's not alone though, it happens all the time.  A stint on the 18-rated Call of Duty Blackops multiplayer servers reveal the huge extent of the problem.  I can't even use the headset anymore because of the mindless jabber coming out of the mouths of the 10-15 year olds that frequent the server.  After all, I have my own mindless jabber to communicate with my comrads in battle. 

Yeah this seems fine for a 10 year old?

On a serious note though, its not as if the systems not clear.  The most violent games use the same certification system that we have used for our movies for years, and people seem to be able to understand that. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting up on my high horse and claiming that noone should play an 18 rated game untill their 18.  I just get annoyed when parents buy their children violent games without even the slightest regard for the content.  I bet if you asked the mother in my example what Gears of War 3 was about, she would have no idea.  Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that she will sit down with her child to examine the content of the game.  More likely, he will take it up to his room, put it on his Xbox, and she will be none the wiser.  I say this only because I know people like this, a lot of people like this. 

It's simple really, if you buy the game for you child, you should at least understand the content, otherwise don't go crying to the Daily Mail if your child start having nightmares, chainsaw filled nightmares.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Five Most Terrifying Games Ever.

Following on from my blog about Resident Evil, in which I explained how I felt the series had shifted away from the sweaty palm fear that it had once aimed for, and moved towards a more action based genre,  I wanted to list the my personal top 5 fear inducing games that are available.  Bear in mind this is my personal list, and is based purely on my opinion.  If you disagree then do so in the form of an angry comment, and we can argue about it until we get bored:

5.  Resident Evil (GC)
Survival horror?  Or some sick sick porn?  You decide
The original Resident Evil in my eyes still carries the most atmosphere and tension out of the whole series.   Of all of the releases of this game, the Gamecube remake is, in my opinion, the best version.  The updated graphics help bring the mansion to life, complementing the storyline to create a nightmare on your little purple Gamecube.  The Gamecube wasn't always given the credit it deserved, often mistakenly labeled as a console for children.  I can assure you that this game was not for children. 

Although by no means as scary as some of the other games on this list, like a mafia boss it carries enough fear and respect in my eyes to earn it's place in this list

4.  Alone In The Dark (PC)

Nothing scares me like a polygon zombie lurching around the corner of a haunted mansion, and it's a regular occurrence in Alone in the Dark.  Although a lot of people class Resident Evil as birth of the survival horror genre, however back in 1992 Alone in the Dark started terrifying lonely PC owners in their bedrooms all over the world.

Winged Demons offering hugs, that's AITD.

The game had a simple premise, simply get out of the house, from the top floor.  However the Lovecraftian atmosphere and groundbreaking (at the time) graphics made this an instant classic.  There have been many sequels including the pirate themed Alone in the Dark 2 : Zombies of the Caribbean and the Wild West themed Alone in the Dark 3 : Brokeback Mountain.  However the first game is by far the best, combining suspense and mystery built up by books and newspaper cuttings found throughout the mansion. 

3.  Project Zero 2: The Crimson Butterfly (Xbox, PS2)

Bit of a cult favourite this one, Project Zero has never enjoyed the commercial success that Resident Evil or Silent Hill have enjoyed.  However you shouldn't take that to mean that the series isn't worth a look, and Project Zero 2 is the scariest of the lost.  You play as a young girl looking for her twin sister in a mysterious village, but instead of being armed with guns or knifes or chainsaws, shes armed with a camera.

This isn't some sort of acid spitting camera, just a normal camera..... that has the power to repel ghosts.   In order to fight off the evil spirits that occupy the village you have to use the cameras view finder to target the ghosts at exactly the right time.  By forcing the player into a limited first person viewpoint it heightens both tension and brown stains in the underwear.  Combine that with a great story steeped in Japanese Folklore and you have a worth addition to this list.

2. Amnesia : The Dark Descent (PC)

Project Zero arms you with nothing but a camera, but what if you had no way of fighting at all.  Instead all you can do is run......... run and hide.  One problem though, your scared of the dark, and therefore can only hide for a short while before you have to brave the open again, otherwise you start to go mad, and of course, looking at the monsters also sends you mad.  That's right, Amnesia is very much about making the best out of a bad situation.
Insert your own caption here.
The game was developed by Frictional games, the team behind the Penumbra series, which gives the company a great horror pedigree.  In fact the Penumbra games are also well worth a look, narrowly missing out on this list themselves.   Telling you any plot details about Amnesia would ruin the game for you, but as a budget price download this game is well worth your money, so do check it out on Steam.

1.  Silent Hill 2  (PS2, Xbox, PC)

I would like to hope that I'm no wimp.  I can walk past groups of teenagers providing I cross to the other side of the road, and sometimes I cross the road without waiting for the green man.  However when I first played through Silent Hill 2 I frequently had to turn the game off, as shit had got to real.  This is, at least in my mind, the most terrifying game ever made, by a long way:

Pyramid Head - Personal Tormentor, and Prius driver.
The Silent Hill series has made a name for itself by praying on the more subtle fears, rather than the "BOO I'M A BLOODY GHOST" scare tactics of other games in the genre.  However Silent Hill 2 is made even better by its excellent storyline, full of twists and multiple meanings that result in a game that's not just scary, but also intelligent. 

One of life's greatest mysteries - where has the hole gone?

The game tells the story of James Sutherland, who is lured to Silent Hill by a letter apparently written by his deceased wife, asking him to meet her there.  Unfortunately once he arrives there he find the town populated by monsters, including pyramid head, James' own personal tormentor.  See James is here to face up to something, and the answer never fails to shock.  It's a masterclass of storytelling and, certainly in my eyes, the scariest games of all time.