Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Video Game Wrap-Up

2012 was an interesting time in games. Indie titles like Minecraft, Fez, Journey, and the Walking Dead gained not only popularity but awards. Journey's soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy, making it the first video game to ever receive a nod. And of course, the Walking Dead won GOTY at the VGAs.

2012 also saw its fair share of controversy including the Mass Effect 3 ending, the Tomb Raider "rape" trailer, the bullying and harassment of  the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games kickstarter, and the latest installment of "video games cause violent behavior in real life."

I have written about most these things and others. In fact, I was recently accepted to write for So I've been a busy little bee.

I've played my fair share of new games this year and I narrowed down what I think is best. I loved Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 among others.

The new year is looking to be quite promising as well. Let's hope BioShock Infinite isn't delayed again. And GTA V looks amazing, as does Gears of War Judgment.

Maybe video games are growing up. The VGAs weren't wholly embarrassing. And while there was tons of controversy, there was also a lot of great discussions about gender and violence in games. Growing up doesn't mean that games will be stuffy, politically correct bores. What I hope for is that we the gamers can continue to have real discussions about gaming issues. (Even when we think the issues are imagined.) I love gaming culture and in a lot of ways, I'm hopeful about how it has moved forward in 2012.  I also hope that the media focuses more on the positives of gaming and the positive, articulate people involved in gaming.

For me, I hope I will find the time and be able to update my blog more. The last half of 2012 was difficult in few ways and the first part of 2013 looks like it's going to be the same for a bit.    

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pictures of the Link Mosaic

Here are some close-up pictures of the Link Mosaic. My family went to the Nintendo Store over the summer and found me:

I'm near the edge of the mosaic. Here's my son pointing to my pic:

Here's another one:

These pictures are huge and when I tried to upload them in the original size, they ate the whole site. However, I did create an album on photobucket where you can view more pictures of the mosaic in their bigger size. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How About That Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC?

I'm one of those people who didn't outright hate the original Mass Effect 3 ending that I got. Although once I realized that all the endings were pretty similar, I couldn't help but understand why other people were so upset. As the excitement of not blowing everything to Hell wore off, I also realized there were glaring plot issues. I addressed these in a Mass Effect 3 post back in April.

Now that the Extended Cut DLC has been released, the endings are longer and more detailed. I'm especially happy that they filled in some of the plot holes, like why the Normandy was flying and how my crew I took to Earth survived.  I picked the same option as I did before of destroying the Reapers and there's definitely more information and cutscenes that explain things better. You can even ask the Star Child questions before you pick. There is a new refusal option, which I feel doesn't gel with my Shepard's beliefs. I can't imagine going through all that trouble only to refuse to pick and let the cycle continue.

If you hated the original endings, you probably won't like the extended ones. I still believe BioWare and other developers need to take this fiasco to heart. I hope something like this never happens again, as I still feel endings shouldn't be changed just because of fan pressure. While I can't deny this DLC did provide more closure, it shouldn't have been needed. All this "extended" information should have been there back in March.

More on the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gender Issues, Sex, and Gaming

Once again, gender issues have taken the center stage in gaming.  If I wanted to read every article that's been published on gender issues in gaming in the last week, I'd probably would be stuck in front of a screen for two days straight.

But here's the thing, I do want to read everything written on the issue, especially how other women feel. Mainly because a lot of the articles express a viewpoint I don't understand. Why? I've said it plenty of times before. I can't remember ever being offended by a game. I don't care what characters wear, I don't care if I'm playing as a boy or girl. I would gladly mow down some sexy assassin nuns. I'm currently playing Lollipop Chainsaw. However, most of the articles I see take the stance of "here's why ____ is offensive or sexist."

Sometimes I feel that as a woman who plays video games, that's it's part of my job to constantly be offended. And I'm not doing my part and I don't care to.

A lot of the recent controversy has centered around the new Tomb Raider game. We all saw the Crossroads trailer at E3. Then it was said that the game included a scene of attempted rape. The web exploded with "how dare they include that" type comments. Then it came out the scene's already in the trailer, and to my knowledge, nobody took notice of it before the rape comment surfaced. Now, there a petition to get the scene removed.  Here's exactly what was said and a clip of the scene.

First, I think the petition is ill-informed and a knee jerk reaction. However, there seems to be no way to express my opinion on the site without signing the petition and I'm not going to do that.

Second, rape, sexual assault, and all manner of terrible things are regularly featured in books, TV shows, and movies. If a video game even suggests a scene like that, the world cringes and is offended. Seems a bit hypocritical to me. Hell, even if a consensual sex scene is suggested in a game, some people behave as if the sky is falling.

Third, the game isn't even out yet.  

I'm not offended by the clip. Lara in the game isn't the badass from the older ones. It makes sense to me that she's fighting for her very survival on a hostile island where she kills people and people try to kill her. It's going to be a brutal game, regardless.

While it's important to explore and talk about gaming and gender issues, I think the side of  "not offended female gamer" gets lost. Articles mostly seem to want to talk about controversy, of course. But, I believe there is also a large number of  women gamers who don't have a problem with the content in video games. We just want to play.

I have written a few recent things about gender issues in gaming.

Here's my response to questions about being a female gamer from 

Here's my take on sexism in Resident Evil from New Gamer Nation

Here's Gender vs. Experience from 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

E3 Sony and Nintendo Round-Up

Now that the big three consoles makers have had their conferences, I got to say there were very few moments at this E3 that awed me. That's not to say there wasn't some really cool and interesting games and ideas offered. Here's what Sony and Nintendo had at their conferences:


From the developers of Heavy Rain comes Beyond: Two Souls. I loved Heavy Rain, so I'm excited to play this new game. It's about a girl who has psychic abilities and is being hunted by an agency.  I can't wait to hear more information about it.

The Last of Us. Is there anything more to say? It looks amazing. Although, I heard it's shipping in 2013 instead of 2012.

The All Stars Battle Royale  game. To me, it still looks a lot like Super Smash Bros, but it was announced that a Big Daddy (Bouncer) will be a playable character, so I want it.

God of War Ascension will be released in March 2013.

Wonderbook for Move. I don't know what to think of this. If it wasn't for the fact that JK Rowling made a Books of Spells for it, I probably would have ignored the whole thing. However, I don't have Move, so even if Jo did create a book for it, it better be super awesome in order for me to buy it. I think I'll wait and see. I've never been too impressed by other HP games (except for the Lego ones), so I don't have my hopes up here.

Overall, I think Sony did a good job of showcasing games, more than Microsoft did. The PS3 has some really great looking games coming out.


Everything started out great for Nintendo's conference. Miyamoto was showing Pikmin 3 for the Wii U, but after that, the feeling sort of deflated.

On Sunday Nintendo had a pre-E3 video explaining more about the Wii U. That was helpful and I thought they wouldn't go on and on explaining it again at the conference. But they did anyway.

The best announcement was the the Wii U will support two GamePads. Of course, they didn't talk price yet. I've heard it will be a few weeks or maybe longer before we get prices and a release date.

No word of Zelda anything yet.  I wasn't expecting much, though. But any little mention would have been nice.

The 3DS line-up looks pretty great. Paper Mario and Luigi's Mansion are coming this holiday. I'm totally excited about them. There's also  Scribblenauts, Epic Mickey, and Castlevania games coming for the 3DS.

The Wii U will have games the hardcore crowd has already beaten like Mass Effect 3. Still, it's a step in the right direction. And the Batman Arkham City game has its own "Armored Edition" for the Wii U.  ZombiU looks awesome as hell, though.

There's Nintendo Land which is a themed park with different Nintendo game based mini-games. I'll check it out if it's bundled with the Wii U, but I doubt I will go out of my way to buy it right away if it's not.

My favorite thing about the Wii U is the GamePad. I want one now. I'm hoping it lives up to what is being promised. I can't wait to play Wii U games without needing a TV.

So yes, I still want a Wii U as soon as humanly possible. Nintendo's conference was rather dull, but they still had plenty of great games to show.

Final thought:

You know what really made me weep tears of fangirl joy? The fan-made trailer for Majora's Mask. For the 3DS or Wii U, who knows? Whatever it was looked awesome and I wish it was real.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Microsoft At E3 2012

E3 has officially kicked off with Microsoft's press conference. So here's what got me excited:

Starting it off with Halo 4. The forerunners look sick, the music made me a little weepy in a good way, and the game looks gorgeous.

Gears of War Judgement trailer. As an unapologetic Gears freak, I was so damn excited to hear we're getting another game in 2013. According to the Gameinformer cover, both Baird and Cole are in chains. However, the very short trailer only showed Baird. Of course, there were lots and lots of locusts.

Resident Evil 6 focused on Leon and had tons of zombies. So many zombies. It looks great and I can't wait to play it.  It looks like the 360 will get DLC first.

Tomb Raider reboot is a game I've been waiting forever for. What was shown at E3 was awesome, especially the part where her parachute fails. What a heart pounding moment. Again it seems the 360 will get exclusive first DLC for this one too.

South Park Stick of Truth looks just like the TV show.  Trey and Matt talked a bit about the game on stage, but I wish their presentation was longer. However, it's good to know that they're still heavily involved with the game.

Smart Glass is a way to connect the 360 with smart devices. It seems like this is what the Wii U is trying to as well.   I think it is an interesting idea, especially with things like Halo Waypoint.

What didn't do anything for me:

Anything Kinect related like the Nike fitness game and Dance Central 3. Seriously, having Usher sing a song was just a waste of time.

Not too excited about Internet Explorer coming to the 360. I don't use it on my computer, don't think I want to use it on my 360. We'll see.

The Loco Cycle game confused me a bit. I guess you play as a female motorbike?

Black Ops 2 overkill. During the pre-show they talked about Blacks Ops and then at the end of the conference they played Black Ops 2 for about 10 minutes.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Legend of Zelda Love/Hate Cycle

Maybe it's because I've been with Zelda since the beginning that I see what I call the "Zelda Love/Hate cycle."  What is this cycle and when did it start? Here's my theory:

The original game was like nothing we ever seen before. Exploring a non-linear world where you can go just about everywhere right from the start was amazing. Don't forget it was the first video game with a lithium battery, so we could easily save progress without worrying about complicated passwords.

The second one came out and I really enjoyed it, not knowing that one day it would be seen as the "black sheep" of the Zelda games. It was different. It was more difficult than the first one, but that didn't stop me from beating it over and over again.

Of course, Link to the Past was a phenomenal game that returned to the original's way of exploring without side scrolling. But then came:

Ocarina of Time. It blew everyone away. There's Hyrule field, Epona,  the Water Temple, learning to play songs, time travel, and so many other things that made the game a masterpiece.

And ever since OoT, every Zelda game has been (unfairly) judged to be not as good. It started with Majora's Mask and is still going strong with Skyward Sword.


Once the hype of the newest release settles and we prepare for the next Zelda game, something starts to happen. The game that was bashed is now beloved. Once the new game released, the cycle goes into full swing. For example, when Wind Waker was released it got so much hate for its cel-shading. People complained that it "was for little kids" and "I hate sailing, it takes too long" blah blah blah. Now it seems WW is the second most requested Zelda game that people want to see remade for the 3DS. (MM is the first)

Again when Twilight Princess was first released, fans bitched and moaned about everything, but now everyone seems to love it.

Mark my words, when the next Legend of Zelda home console game is released, people will be fondly talking about Skyward Sword and how great is is, instead of criticizing it.  And they'll complain that the new one is too different or too much of the same. Link's too young or too feminine. It's too linear or there's too much world to explore. 

While all this is happening, I'll be happily playing as Link running around in the new game, fighting things, bombing stuff, maybe learning a new song or two.  Because for me, I realized a long time ago that no game will ever compare to the original Zelda  in my mind.  But that's okay. I love each game for its differences  and similarities. Every new Zelda game is like reuniting with my old friend Link, and I look forward to each new meeting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things That Should be in Fallout 4

When Fallout 3 was released, I quickly became obsessed with it. Six hours would go by without my knowledge kind of obsessed with it. While I do love New Vegas, I just can't wait for a Bethesda developed new Fallout game. Of course, there are ways Fallout 4 could be improved over Fallout 3.  Here's just a few:

1. I don't want my followers to die if there's a stiff breeze.
This was the most annoying thing (besides the glitches and freezes)  in Fallout 3. How the Hell did anyone who followed me survive before they joined me? It seems that the minute they walk out into the Wasteland, they drop dead. What's the point, then?

2. Have DLCs with a continuous story line.
New Vegas has some of the best DLC I've ever played. From the pain in the ass Dead Money to the amazingly wonderful and kooky Old World Blues, I loved them all. What makes them stand out is that little snippets of story from the main game and even the other DLCs can be found through out them. I like how it was brought all together, especially the Veronica and Christine story line.

3.  Make the beginning shorter.
When I first started Fallout 3, I was surprised to be a newborn baby, then a toddler, then a little kid, then a teenager. While I love taking the G.O.A.T, and shooting my dad and Jonas with my BB gun, it's a very long way to start a game. Perhaps the beginning of Fallout 4 could be more like New Vegas or Skyrim.

I know Fallout 4 won't probably come out for at least a year or two, but I'm still excited to get back into post nuclear America with its Dandy Boy Apples, Fancy Lad Snack Cakes, and Nuka Cola.

More of my ideas about what should be in Fallout 4

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The 3DS at E3 2012: A Wishlist

In less than two weeks E3 will kick off.  While many gamers are focused on what will be said about the Wii U, I'm slightly more interested in what's happening with the 3DS.  So here's a little wishlist of things I hope are announced for the handheld at E3 2012.

1. Give me Luigi's Mansion 2 and Paper Mario 3D for the holiday season. If I had to pick one, though, I guess I'll go with Luigi. Just don't announce that both of them are coming out soon and then delay them both. I can't take anymore delays this year.

2. Give me more downloadable games. I'm not ashamed to admit I spent a lot of time "window shopping" in the 3DS eshop. I especially want to see all the older Legend of Zelda games available. If Nintendo isn't going to remake a Zelda game for the 3DS before they release a new one, the least they can do is let us download the originals.  Why don't you want to take my money, Nintendo?

3. Show me anything new Zelda related. I don't care if it's a picture of poorly drawn Link framed by a 3DS. I'm not hoping for a definite release date, just something to remind us that you're making it.

4. Something brand new, exciting and a surprise to everyone. I suspect that the Wii U will get its share of (hopefully) awesome announcements, but don't leave out the 3DS.

That's about it. I'm not a greedy person. I just want everything on this list and anything else you think is cool. Okay, Nintendo?

Nintendo's presentation will be on June 5 at 9:00 am PDT. You can watch it at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Slow Death of an Xbox 360

While I written about my experiences with Xbox 360s and their problems before, this is something new to me.

Whenever I had a console fail or break in some way, it was always quick. One minute it's fine, the next it's RROD. So I decide to chronicle the very slow and painful death of my son's 20gb  Xbox 360.

Here's how it went down:

Back in March we got Operation Raccoon City. I played a bit of it on my 360. He popped it into his and it froze three times in 30 minutes. We thought maybe the disc was defective. But, he tried it on mine and it works perfectly.

A little while later, it wouldn't download the Trials Evolution demo. Then it stopped playing any game that was downloaded.  This made me think it's the HDD, but nothing looks corrupted and all the saved game data works fine. I think it went back to playing downloaded games a few days later.

Everything was okay for a few weeks, but then the two red rings on the left side started appearing. According to the Xbox support website, this means it's overheating, but it would happen even if it was on for a few minutes.  My husband took it to get it cleaned, thinking that it's old and probably very dusty inside.

After the cleaning, the two rings stopped, but now if you try to play a game, one red ring on the right side lights up. So I looked this up and might be the dreaded E74. But, we're not getting the screen for it. The screen is just black. So I tried everything it told me to do. Including unplugging it, taking out the HDD, etc.

At the same time, we got Ninja Gaiden 3 and it's freezing constantly.

He can watch Netflix on the 360, but I think that's about it for now. It seems everything that can go wrong with it, will. I'll admit that I'm somewhat fascinated by this process. It's like the 360 is having one last swan song and we're forced to deal with it.  It's an old system that's gotten fixed by Microsoft. It's not under warranty anymore, of course.

While I'm a bit upset to see the sad state of this 360, I'm looking forward to getting my son a newer model, like mine. Then I will be able to actually play my 360 in peace again, which will be awesome.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Got An Award!

Jeremy at Geeky Tendencies  kindly bestowed upon me this neat award:

In order to accept it I guess I have to give 10 random facts about myself and award six other bloggers.
So, here we go:

1. I am a very private person. Even offline, it takes me a long time to feel comfortable around new people.
2. Next month, my husband and I will be married for 16 years.
3. I have four cats, Twiggy, Ramirez, Hedwig, and Mr. Mostly Mittens.
4. I also have a ball python named Nagini.
5. I don't like the taste of red meat.  I prefer vegetables and fish.
6. I wear mostly black clothes all the time.
7. I'm very short, only 5'1.
8. I hate pants. Give me a dress or skirt and I'm happy. .
9. I love the ocean and live only 15 minutes away from it.
10. I saw JK Rowling at Radio City Music Hall in 2006.

Now, the six other bloggers I'm awarding:

This award seems to be traveling fast. I've found quite a few blogs that already had it. So, if I picked you and you got the award last week or something...whoops.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Skyward Sword Mosaic is Unveiled

Earlier this year, Nintendo asked Legend of Zelda fans to submit their photos on facebook. These 25,000 photos were turned into a gorgeous mosaic of Skyward Sword Link. The mosaic is in the Nintendo World store in NYC.  I'm pleased to say my photo is one of them.

You can find a nice size picture at Zelda Universe  However, it is still very difficult to make out the individual photos. I've been searching the web for a detailed, clear picture of  the Link mosaic. So far, I haven't found much. The Nintendo Store website doesn't have one. And while I found one close-up pic in the comments on Zelda Dungeon, it's just of one small section. Hopefully, as more people go to the store to see the mosaic, more pictures will be available online.

I would love to see a bigger picture of the Skyward Sword mosaic and be able to find my photo. Better yet, Nintendo should sell posters of it.  They have at least 25,000 eager, would-be customers already.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z Challenge Reflections Post 2012

This was my second year completing the A to Z Challenge. Even though I felt disorganized in the beginning, I knew I would be able to do it. I tried to visit and comment on as many blogs as I could and I found some really great ones!

These are a few of the blogs I know will I continue to check out in the future:

I admit that I'm not much of a commenter. If I stumbled on a blog and the theme or topic was completely foreign to me, I usually didn't say anything. I know I have a very niche blog. I understand if some  A to Z visitors don't care about video games. I wouldn't expect them to leave a comment, just for the sake of commenting. So, if you visited and commented, you're awesome. If you visited and didn't comment cause you don't know anything about gaming, that's cool.

My only gripe about the challenge is visiting blogs who never seemed to post about the challenge at all or gave up on the letter "C," for example. I know real life gets in the way. However,  I also found a number of bloggers who couldn't complete the challenge, but they made a short post about needing to quit.

 I love that I have to think of a gaming topic for every letter. It's fun, but sort of difficult especially the second time around. But I will definitely do it again next year.

Thanks to everyone who put this challenge together!

May Monster Madness: Resident Evil and Silent Hill

Call me weird, but I don't mind Tank controls.  Early PlayStation games often used Tank controls, like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. While there are few things more frustrating than trying to run away from a zombie or monster only to run head first along the wall, I have (almost) fond memories of the awkward control scheme's challenges.

But what about those monsters? From Silent Hill 2, I give you The Bubble Head Nurse

The shaky, twitchy way they walk creeps me the hell out. But they are faster than they look. They make horrible gurgle sounds and carry pipes. The pale ones has bloody mouths, while the darker ones seem to have a film part of their faces. They're gross, but I love them.

From Resident Evil 4, there's Dr. Salvador:

Yeah, he looks like  Leatherface wearing a sack, but there's more than one of these trying to part Leon with his head in RE 4. I think what gets me the most about "Chainsaw Guy" is that one of them shows up very early on in the game. 

*This is my last post for May Monster Madness. I'd like thank Annie Walls for putting it together. I really enjoyed discovering some great blogs!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Monster Madness: F.E.A.R.

Met Alma:

I'm a sucker for Asian horror. Nothing seems to scare the hell out of me more than Sadako from Ringu. That's probably one of the main reasons I was drawn to F.E.A.R.  Alma is the official creepy mascot of the FPS shooter series. Her presence is always felt, even if she's not on screen.

 In the first game, she appears as both a little girl and a naked, emaciated young woman. She pops up while you're climbing down a ladder or in a dark hallway. Sometimes, she leaves bloody footprints. She also tries to attack you. At the end of the game, you must escape the facility and Alma before it blows up. Later , when you think you're safe in the helicopter, Alma's hand reaches in and pulls herself up. Then the game ends.  Alma is a big mystery. Who is she? Is she alive or dead? The answers are pretty shocking.

After being put into a coma and sealed in a vault at the age of seven, she was impregnated twice, once at 15 then again at 16. At the age of 26, she was taken off of life support and was declared dead. This is when one of her sons, Paxton, turned ten. She psychically linked her mind to his. She's able to "talk" to him and tell him to do things. Like in the first game, she tells Paxton to "kill them all." And of course, being dead doesn't stop her from psychically attacking everyone when the facility housing her was reopened.

 In the second game, it ends with her forcing herself on your character, Michael Becket. She spends the third game pregnant, but still manages to terrorize. However, as you learn more of her back story, you kind of feel bad for her, especially in the third game. (Paxton's gross ending, for example)

Is Alma a monster? Yes, whether she's like that because she was born a monster or because of the experiments when she was a child. Maybe it's a mixture of both reasons. But, in the series and especially in the first game, she's freaking creepy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Monster Madness: The Walking Dead Game

If you haven't played it yet, you really should. The Walking Dead game released its first episode recently and even though it's only about two hours long, it's definitely worth the download. It's available on Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Store, and PC. I have it for the 360. It cost 400 MS points. The other versions cost $5.00.

The Walking Dead game isn't a rehashing of the comic book or TV stories. It has a new cast of characters, but there are some familiar faces making appearances. It will be five episodes long, with a new one released each month.

I played through the first one and I'm very excited to see where the story goes from here. You have a lot of control over what you say and do, so it isn't just a "kill the zombies" type game. There's plenty of  drama involved.

Here's the trailer:

Fans of the comic and show really shouldn't pass this game up!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Monster Madness: Left 4 Dead

I'll admit when I first heard of Left 4 Dead, I was skeptical. There isn't much story and the main campaign  is very short. But then I played it, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Some of the best memories I have of  Xbox Live come from countless matches. I prefer to play as one of the survivors, not the infected.

Through never ending hordes of infected, you and three others must make it from safe house to safe house. Sounds easy enough, right? Nope. It seems everything works against you. If a car alarm goes off more infected swarm, if you get separated from the group you're as good as dead.

And then there's the special infected. If you're not careful, a Hunter might pounce on top of you. For what ever reason, Hunters like me very much and it's a running joke here that I'm Hunter bait. Or a Smoker will grab you with his tongue.  Hell, you may even get puked on by a Boomer. As Boomer bile clouds your vision, the horde comes out to play.  Of course, when the Tank's music starts, everyone in your party scrambles into action.

But, my favorite special infected is also the most unassuming.
                                                                  The Witch.

Imagine shooting your way through infected, only to hear what sounds like a girl sobbing. As you track down the noise, you see the image above. From the back, she looks sort of harmless. But look at those claws. If you upset her, she shrieks and runs after you. Next thing you know, you're on your ass.  Without your teammates helping you, you're done for.  The only way to avoid feeling her wrath is to turn off the flashlights and sneak past her very quietly.  Or you can do what my son does and crown her.

Monday, April 30, 2012

May Monster Madness

One of my favorite video game genres is horror. For the May Monster Madness, I think it will be awesome to focus on some true video game monsters.

So for the next week, I'll be posting about my favorite gaming horrors. I intend to mostly focus on one character from each game. However, I think I will also dedicate posts to entire games, perhaps those that just have too many monsters to pick from.

Here are some of the games I want to cover:
Resident Evil
Silent Hill
and one or two surprises

What is your favorite horror video game? Or gaming monster?

Z is for Zant

While there are basic elements and themes that are the foundation of the Legend of Zelda series, each game has its own story. For the letter Z, I decided to highlight Zant, one of the major baddies in Twilight Princess.

According to the official timeline, TP takes place after Majora's Mask. This is what's referred to as the Child Era. As Zelda fans know, after Ocarina the timeline splits three ways. One with the hero defeated, one where the Scared Realm is protected, and one with Ganondorf sealed. Twilight Princess takes place in the Scared Realm split.

So here we have Zant, a member of the Twili race and the self proclaimed king of of the Twilight.  He spreads the Twilight through Hyrule, making Link turn into a wolf when he enters it. He mistakenly believes that the World of Light belongs to him and the rest of the Twili. Although, when he rose to power, he also deformed many of the members of his own race, turning them into Shadow Beasts.

But what happened to Zant that gave him so much power? If he overthrew the rightful leader of the Twilight, who is it supposed to be? Why does he turn from calm to crazed by the end of the game?

 If you don't know the answers, then you should go play Twilight Princess.

And now, some announcements:

*this is the final entry for 2012's A to Z Challenge. Starting May 7, every blogger in the challenge will have the opportunity to write a reflection post. So look for that next week*

* I will also be taking part in May Monster Madness, starting tomorrow. I look forward to posting about gaming's most horrible monsters.*

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for "You think you're some kind of hero?"

BioShock spoilers ahead.

The BioShock quote in this post's title isn't as famous as "Would you kindly? or " A man chooses, a slave obeys."  Fontaine says it to Jack right after he learns the horrible truth about his history. Can you really imagine how it feels to learn you're nothing but a mind controlled back-up plan? Your whole life is a lie. There's no farm house, no mom and dad. Your plane crash was no accident. You're a grown man who's really only three years old. Wrap your head around that, would you kindly?

However, as  Jack, it's hard not to see yourself as something of a hero, especially  if you're saving the Little Sisters. After you swim to the lighthouse, you get your first awe inspiring glimpse of Rapture. Awe turns to horror as you experience what the city is actually like. Crazed, deformed splicers who try to kill you at every turn. Big metal monsters protecting their little girls while she takes ADAM out of an "angel's" corpse. Little do you know at the time that you're one of the grotesque things the city produced.

You're stuck here, in a leaky, dark city sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Just trying to figure out how to escape. Or so you think. One of the best things about BioShock is how it takes everything  you know about your character's situation and discards it. There have been few video game moments like shock you that.

It's while you're being insulted that quote is used, but Jack can be a hero. The" good" ending proves that.  Of course, you could also become a monster. The choice is yours.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-rated Games

I'm not talking about those 20 or so games that got the AO rating. Nope, I'm talking about Unnecessary Censorship in Video Games.  For those who don't know, these videos take dialogue from games and censor it to make it seem naughty. Take this Skyrim one, for example:

There are other games like Mass Effect 3 that are also made X-rated. Might be that I'm easily amused, but I giggle like mad watching these. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wii U

What a polarizing device and it's not even released yet.

What to say about the Wii U? Perhaps there are two sides. First, personally I have always been somewhat of a Nintendo fanatic. But, there's a lot Nintendo does that's worth being fanatical about. Second, while I love my Wii and you couldn't pry it from my cold, dead hands, there's a lot of games it can't handle. It's not HD and it's graphically inferior to the PS3 and 360. I am not such a blinded fangirl that I can't see the Wii's problems concerning the lack of "hardcore" titles.

However, I remain optimistic about the Wii U. It will be HD. There are rumors about just how powerful the graphics will be. But, the consensus points to this gen 360 and PS3 graphics.  Does that bother me? Not really. Yes, great graphics are pretty and shiny. But, they don't make or break a game for me.  Would I love amazing graphics that blow the current gen away? Of course, but it's not going to happen with the Wii U.

It seems you can turn the Wii U on and play games on the controller without needing a TV screen. That's awesome, especially in a house like mine. Say my son wants to use the PS3, I can still play the Wii U on the tablet controller.

Another cool thing about the Wii U is duel support for both its games the games on the 3DS. Right now, the news just hit about this feature for the next Super Smash Bros. If this takes off, I'm sure many more games will have this support.

What about the rumored apps store it's building? Since Nintendo doesn't license its games to iPads and the like, if the Wii U is able to have the very popular games that are on tablets and phones right now, plus an ebook reader feature then great. I'm very interested to see if Nintendo can pull this off.

On the downside, I worry about third party support. It's something Nintendo has been lacking for years. Although, as long as Nintendo continues to make its exclusives, I'll be okay. Another worrying thing is the amount of crappy party games that plague the Wii. I can only hope Nintendo gets rid of this trend for the Wii U. I can only hope they return to releasing more hardcore games. Maybe they can truly be the console for everyone. If any company can pull that off,  Nintendo can.

But of course, the angry hardcore gamer in me still just wants to scream "Fuck everyone else and focus on us."

We will certainly get more info at E3 this June. The Wii U is set to come out this November. I will be waiting in a line at midnight to buy one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vault Boy Tattoo

If you ever played Fallout New Vegas, perhaps you will recognize this as the Math Wrath perk.  Why did I go with Math Wrath? Even though I'm not a big fan of math, I like what this perk does. It optimizes your Pip Boy, saving AP costs by 10%.

Besides what it does, I just like it. He's wearing glasses. (so do I) It's a pretty clear shot of the Pip Boy, and he's focused so hard, his tongue's sticking out.  When deciding that I wanted a Fallout tattoo, a Vault Boy was the obvious choice, especially because in all the Fallout games, there are so many images to pick from.

There were other Vault Boys I was considering like Science and the Computer Hacking perk. Hacking in Fallout is my specialty. But Math Wrath won out because he just has so much personality in that image.

It's on my arm, just above my wrist.You can see part of my Link tattoo as well. I'm dedicating my lower arms to gaming. Link and Vault Boy are the first two done. Of course, I also have a huge BioShock tattoo, but that's on my leg. I'm getting that one worked on this weekend.

Just as my husband did my Link tattoo, he also did my Vault Boy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ugh.. My PS3's HDD was Corrupted

It's not exactly the way I pictured spending my Saturday.

But, I'll back this up a bit. The problem started happening late Friday night. My son started the PS3 and it gave a warning that the hard disk might be corrupted. It was going to try and restore it. It did its thing and went back to normal.

Saturday morning it was working okay, but then the electricity in the house shut off for a second. While the PS3 was on. When we turned it back on, the warning came up again, it did its thing and it was fine. Later on that afternoon, when I turned it on again, I got the same warning, except this time it got stuck in an infinite loop of trying to restore. So for all intents and purposes, the PS3 became an expensive paperweight.

Let me take a minute here, I knew what was happening and I knew this 320gb Slim was only a year old. We don't abuse it, randomly turn it off, call it names, or drop it. I also knew sending it back to Sony would do nothing but cause us time and money.

When the infinite loop happened, I started the PS3 in safe mode and went through all the options until the final one of reformatting the HDD was the only one left. Of course, this means everything on the HDD would be erased. But, I'm a weirdo and even though I haven't been backing up my saved games regularly (for shame, I know) I wasn't upset. When the HDD died,  I was on like my 56th play through of BioShock.  I guess I'm lucky that the most recent games I've bought are either on the 360 or the 3DS. So in reality, I didn't lose anything I was playing for the first time.

Reformatting worked.  Now it's Tuesday and everything's back to normal. If I needed to get another HDD in the future, I'm not too concerned. They're not that expensive and we already upgraded our original 20 gb fat to a 250 gb years ago. (It got the YLOD, but it's fixed now)

So here's the moral of my story. If you really care about your saved data, back it up. If your HDD becomes corrupted, don't send it to Sony. Reformat it or buy a PS3 compatible one. Sometimes even if you try to be super careful, shit happens and things break.

More information about PS3 HDD corruption 

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tingle

"Tingle, Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! These are magic words that Tingle created himself. Don't steal them!"

When thinking of what to write for "T" day, the first thought I had was of Tingle, so I'm going with it. For those who don't know about Tingle, you haven't played enough Legend of Zelda.

Tingle is a weirdo. In fact, in a gaming series full of weirdos, Tingle's really high up on the weirdo list. The first game he was ever in is Majora's Mask. He sold Link maps. Link could  buy these maps after he shot down Tingle's balloon.  You see, Tingle floats around via balloon. One red balloon that's stored in his backpack. If that's not strange enough, he also wants to be a fairy, dresses up like Link, and he's 35 years old. You also meet Tingle's dad in Majora's Mask. Needless to say, he's not too impressed by his son's behavior.

The game that made Tingle infamous for me is Wind Waker. He's kind of a money-grubbing jerk. After Link springs him from jail, he gives him a poorly drawn map of "Tingle Island."  When Link gets there, Tingle's brothers are doing all the work as he lazes about. Tingle charges him 398 rupees to decipher each of the eight Triforce locations. That's a hell of a lot of cash.

Tingle's also been in Four Swords Adventures were he tries to steal Force Gems from Link. Tingle and his brothers also appear in the Minish Cap. He made an appearance in Oracle of Ages as well.

Even if Tingle isn't in some of the Legend of Zelda games there still might be a mention of him. There's a wanted poster of him in Phantom Hourglass. Statues and a picture of him in Spirit Tracks and a doll in Skyward Sword can be found.

Even though he's somewhat annoying, Tingle has become part of the Legend of Zelda experience for me. He doesn't need to be active in every game, but finding a doll or poster is a cool way to remind Zelda fans of one of the greatest weirdos to ever grace the series.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Skyward Sword

Last November, Legend of Zelda fans rejoiced as Skyward Sword was released. The last home console Zelda game, Twilight Princess,  came out in 2006 . Since there is usually so much time in between releases, when we get a new one it's really some special. And Skyward Sword is no different.

What can I say about Skyward Sword? Well, it's the "first" Zelda game. It takes place in Skyloft, a floating town high above what will become Hyrule. Of course, Link must go to this mysterious land beneath the clouds to rescue Zelda and stop the evil Demise. It's filled with back story about how elements of the previous Zelda games like the Master Sword came to be. There are other plot twists and surprises too.

What's really different about Skyward Sword is the motion control. While Twilight Princess for the Wii used motion control, Skyward Sword uses motion plus, and it's amazing. In the 80+ hours I put into playing the game twice, I think I had to recalibrate  it 5 times. That's not too shabby. Besides, I really got a kick out of having to raise my super awesome, special edition golden Wii remote over my head to charge the sword. It made me a little misty.

Skyward Sword has the great blend of graphic. It's almost like a watercolor painting. It reminds me of a mix between Wind Waker and Ocarina.  What made the graphics for me is how expressive Link's face is. Link doesn't talk, of course, but he really doesn't need to. His face says it all.

If there was anything I could change about the game, it would that different locations should be connected. It felt weird every time I had to go back to Skyloft  just to go from the forest to the desert. But the lands themselves were fun to explore.

Skyward Sword is a must have game for any Legend of Zelda fan. I can't wait to see what new Zelda games are in the works too!

Of course, I wrote quite a few Skyward Sword articles, and they can be found by clicking the YCN link on the top right of the page.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rebooting Video Games

There are many older video games that I'm still fond of. Some I'm lucky enough to still have, whether it be on disc or downloaded onto a console. But, why did those once great franchises disappear into oblivion? Some of them died a slow and painful death, others just vanished. Whatever the case might be, there are tons of older games that I would love to see rebooted.

Tomb Raider is actually getting a reboot that should be released for the holiday season. This one is sort of a prequel, with a younger Lara becoming shipwrecked on an island. What I've seen of  it looks amazing. It's definitely something I'm going to check out later this year.

Earthworm Jim is a quirky game I played a lot on the SNES. I actually have the first one downloaded to my 3DS and it's just as weird and challenging as I remembered. But, there hasn't been a new Earthworm Jim game in years.

What ever happened to Star Wars Battlefront? I loved those game, especially the second one. Whether it's in development hell or just dead, the series needs another game.

Some game fail miserably at being rebooted, like Duke Nukem. However,  I think many games deserve a second chance, not only for us gamers who fell in love with the titles when they were first released, but for younger gamers who might have never gotten the chance to play them at all.

Check out more video games that should be rebooted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questions about Video Games

I realize because of the A to Z challenge, a lot of my recent visitors aren't gamers. I thought it would be neat to use my Q post as an "ask me a question related to video games" sort of thing.  So ask me anything about video games, consoles, etc and I'll answer.

Keeping with this topic, there questions about games I want answered. Unfortunately, I don't think the answers are out there yet.

Here's what I'm dying to know:

What is Super Mario 4? I know there's been rumors, and Nintendo registered the domain name. E3 can't come quick enough. 

Will the extra content BioWare is giving us for Mass Effect 3 make everything better?

Where the hell is Fallout 4? 

How about that Skyrim DLC?

Will Activision kill the Call of Duty franchise by flooding the market, Guitar Hero style? ( It's not that I want this happen, but I have a feeling)

Will the super awesome Legend of Zelda art book that has the official timeline be released in the US?

Will the AO rating ever be more than the dumping ground for crappy porn games? 

Seriously, what the hell is Queen Myrrah? Is she a locust or human or a mix. This drives me nuts. 

There plenty of other unanswered questions I have, these are just a few.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pre-order Bonuses and Video Games

Ah, pre-order bonuses. They can drive a gamer nuts. Best Buy has X bonus with that game, but Gamestop has Y with the same game. I think I finally had my pre-order bonus nervous breakdown when Fallout New Vegas was about to be released. I wanted all things Fallout, you see, and exclusive bonuses from four different retailers made my head hurt. I finally said screw it and didn't pre-order from anywhere.

Pre-order bonuses for video games are strange. First, it's not like highly anticipated games are hard to come by. If you're getting a standard edition of something, then there are tons of copies. The only time I can remember having a slight bit of difficulty in finding a game was when Twilight Princess was released for the Wii. This was only a short time after the Wii itself was released, so demand was high. But the second store I tried was stocked with Zelda goodness, so no harm done.

What drives me crazy about pre-order bonuses is things that should be unlockable in the game like armor and weapons, are "exclusive" to one store.  If you want all the virtual goodies,  you can buy multiple copies of the game, (yeah right) try to buy the codes from someone online or wait a few months until you're able to buy the bonuses from the PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace. It's really not unfair.

But some pre-order can be fun, like Fallout 3's poster and music CD. I'd rather have physical and collectible bonuses than just having a code that unlocks a gun pack that's already on the disc.

Hopefully, they go back to being about cool stuff.  I really don't pay attention to which store has what bonus anymore. Although, every time a game I really want is on the horizon (BioShock Infinite) I can't help but wonder what the bonuses will be.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Old School Games and Gamers

I'm glad that I was a child of the 1980s. I got to witness the success of the home console for myself. Maybe it's that sense of nostalgia that makes me still return to those games today. It also could be that many of those games are amazing and fun to play. Another reason is a few of those early 8-bit franchises are still being made all these generations later. When a new Zelda or Mario game is released, it generally receives high praise.  

Perhaps the fact that I was lucky enough to play those games from the beginning has tainted the way I see them, because I don't understand gamers who "can't" play 2D games. To me, it's like saying you "can't" watch a black and white movie. Just because the technology isn't as advanced as it is today, that doesn't mean those games are bad or not worth your time.

I don't know what it is that turns off some newer gamers to old school games. Perhaps someone could enlighten me. Graphics are the obvious reason, but graphics aren't everything. Or maybe it's because few games had the ability to save data at all. Is it because today's games tend to help gamers with maps, autosaves, and waypoints? Maybe old school games are just too hard?

I don't know, but it saddens me a bit when someone who loves the newer Zelda or Mario games dismiss the originals without giving them a chance.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nintendo 3DS

I have written a lot about the 3DS since I got one last year. The number of hours I spend playing it are starting to rival those of my home consoles. In other words, I can't seem to put the thing down.

The funniest thing about me own a 3DS is I don't use the 3D  all the time. I do when I'm playing a game that supports it, but I'm sort of in love with the eshop. Here I can download all sort of older titles like Link's Awakening, Super Mario Bros, Earthworm Jim, etc. Games that don't use the 3D feature but are still amazing.

Of course since the release of Ocarina of Time 3D, I also love wondering about which Zelda title will get a 3D remake next. Last I heard, Nintendo said they want to bring a new Zelda game to the 3DS before revamping older ones. (I'm not going to complain about that) However, I would probably weep tears of joy if Majora's Mask 3D or Wind Waker 3D was announced.

So even though the 3DS had a slow start was it was released, I think it is going to a be huge force in the industry this year, and I'm ridiculously excited for its future.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Massive Mass Effect Controversy

Warning ME3 SPOILERS ahead.

So there I was starting a game of Mass Effect 3 when I read an article about how not playing the multiplayer mode will hurt your chances of getting a good ending. To say I was angry is an understatement. I quickly typed out my reply and called the whole business a terrible idea.

If you don't play online, you need to get enough War Assets so Earth and everything else in the galaxy isn't destroyed. I am not an online gamer. I do play XBL with my son, but not all the time. I prefer single player and since Mass Effect 3 is a single player RPG first (ME 3 is the only one with multiplayer) I was livid.

But I played on, scanning every planet, collecting every little thing, doing every mission. It was during my time in the campaign when I noticed a lot of people complaining online about the ending. Not wanting to get spoiled, I didn't investigate and thought people were still mad about the multiplayer stuff.

Holy crap...... was I wrong.....

At the very end of the game, (if you have enough War Assets and I did)  you have three choices. You can destroy the Reapers, control the Reapers, or combine synthetic  and organic  life. Okay.. well since I thought it would be best to destroy them, I limped towards that one. And I get a cutscene.

I was so damn happy I saved Earth, that a few things didn't even register with me at first. As I walked to my computer filled with that post-game glow, I decided to peek at the other endings, because surely, they were vastly different.

But they're really not and that's the problem.  The choices that you made in the three games didn't seem to matter. It didn't hit me at first because my cutscene showed flashes of Liara and Garrus. And while I wondered how they got back on the Normandy since I took them to Earth, I was glad they weren't hurt when the missiles where launched. Those two characters are the ones I spent the most time with.  I also wondered why the Normandy was even flying, but again, I was just so happy everyone was okay.

Unfortunately, everyone gets the same cutscene with a few "red, green or blue" tweaks. This caused an uproar from fans. Petitions and protests started. BioWare was sent 400 red, green and blue cupcakes with different food coloring (so they all taste the same)

Bioware has come out and said they will give free DLC that explains and expands the ending this summer. I still don't know how I feel about that. Yes, after I saw the other endings, I was upset  that nothing seemed to matter. Yes, there are unanswered questions and terrible plot holes. BUT, should BioWare change it?  I do not want a gaming community where we bully developers into changing things. I don't want endings messed with all the time.

I want the ME3 ending "fix" to be a one time deal. Bioware said they'll give us more content, then fine.  I hope in the future, developers keep this mess in mind when they promise fans that the choices they made years ago in the first game will really matter at the end.  Because they should.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Link Tattoo

Deciding on what kind of tattoo to get from the Legend of Zelda was difficult. It seems like I spent years thinking about it. At first, I didn't want to get one that was too recognizable. I wanted something that only Zelda fans would understand. Although with over a dozen games, the choices were endless. So then I decided on Link,  but which one?

I thought 8-bit Link was a cool idea, expect I've seen it done a lot. Same with Ocarina styled Link.  Eventually, I picked Wind Waker Link, then switched to Skyward Sword Link, and back to Wind Waker.

Why did I pick Wind Waker Link? First, I think he's adorable.  Second, he seems to be a dividing factor among Zelda fans. Wind Waker received a lot of complaints when it was released. Not everyone liked the cel-shading or that Link looked very young. Since I love the look of the game, I thought it would be cool to show my support, permanently on my arm.

So here's my tattoo of my favorite video game character ever, looking super tough, but cute.

The original picture:

 And my tattoo:

My awesome husband did my Link tattoo. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kinect

It's been a year and a half since Kinect was released for the Xbox 360 and I'm still not jazzed about it. In fact, the only Kinect exclusive game that I had interest in, Star Wars, has gotten tons of bad reviews. I'm usually not one to take reviews to heart. However, the game itself seems like a collection of mini-games, and a short single player campaign. Not what I want from a Star Wars game. The only M-rated Kinect game, Rise of Nightmares, also gotten crap reviews.

So what does Kinect hold in the future for the hardcore gaming crowd? I'm not sure. Maybe one day a great  game will come along and get me off my gaming chair. I know a few games are being integrated with Kinect, but if I can use a controller, I will.

For me, I think that's part of the problem. Not having a controller and hoping the sensor scans your body correctly and picks up your every move, it seems like too much trouble.

I'm also concerned about how a action packed game would play out with Kinect. Imagine Gears of War for Kinect? I'll pass, thanks.

I like that motion control is an option. I like how it works on many Wii games. But I also like that I can play Super Smash Bros Brawl or the Legend of Zelda sitting down, with a controller in my hand. Kinect might be a revolutionary idea, but it's still not compatible with the games I want to play. And maybe it never will. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for John Shepard

While I'm planning on making "M" for Mass Effect, there is so much going on with the controversy surrounding the third game (especially the ending) I don't want all that to overshadow the Commander. Besides, it's his/her birthday today! (although he/she isn't even born yet)

Mass Effect's default Shepard is named John.  However, my femShep shares my name, Jenn.  Through BioWare's magic, I created a character that looks so much like me, it's actually sort of eerie. Too bad I can't put glasses on her.

Of course, the difference between everyone's Shepards is more than just appearance. The options in Mass Effect are numerous. You can be a lil' goody-goody or a complete jerk. You can romance your squad mates or ignore them. All the choices makes it sort of hard to talk about Shepard because my Shep might be the opposite of yours.

Mine tries to keep everyone happy and be friendly, but some people (like Miranda) are just jerks.

She loves Liara.

She has a space hamster named "Mr.Fuzzybottoms."

In ME 3, she got the "good red ending."  (but more on that for M day)

But, there are important things about the character of John/Jane/Jenn whatever Shepard that ring true no matter what. From the first time I played Mass Effect, I couldn't believe how much pressure is put on your character. Everyone in the galaxy is counting on you, to stop Saren, to stop the Collectors, to stop the Reapers. And the kicker is, nobody seems to believe anything you say, from "Saren's bad" to "the Reapers are real." Until, you know, they're under attack. Then it's your problem.

So whether your Shep is a John or a Jane, a solider or a vanguard, a jerk or a peace keeper, he/she is the galaxy's only hope. ( or at least one of the very few who don't have their head completely up their ass) Get ready to say "I told you so" a lot.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Identity and Gaming Stereotypes

What does it actually mean to identify yourself as a gamer?  What do the non-gamers of the world think of us? Does it matter?

I identify myself as a hardcore gamer. To me that means "playing a lot of games and keeping up with every bit of gaming news."   But that also means a lot of stereotypes are thrown your way. 

Every December, Spike TV has the Video Game Awards. And even though I watch them, there are always some cringe worthy moments. Moments where I think "oh god, this is how the rest of the world see us."  Prime example this past year, that ranty blogger who they gave way too much time to. I know we gamers can be quite the angry bunch. But, I don't think showcasing a person who acts like they really have a few screws loose is a good idea.  Especially when every few months some pseudo-scientific study tries to warn the world about how video games makes people violent.

Identifying yourself as a hardcore gamer also seems to imply you hate casual games and the people who play them. While I may joke a lot about being a "gaming snob,"  I certainly don't hate quality casual  games or the people who play them more than they play RPGs or FPSs. (But, I will never consider Farmville and its long list of clones "games")

And apparently identifying yourself as a gamer means you have no social life, job, family, or offline friends.

Of course, these gaming stereotypes are all nonsense. But when year after year, the mainstream media decides to parade around the worst, while ignoring the diversity and creativity of the rest of the gaming community, it doesn't help.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Half-Life

The Half-Life series is amazing. As the silent Gordon Freeman, you fight your way through Headcrabs and all other manner of crazy monsters. Even though the first one is on the PS2, I still enjoy playing it. It's challenging, interesting, and you can use a crowbar as a weapon. What's not to like?

The same can be said for Half-Life 2 and its two episodes.Unfortunately, Valve can't count to three. The end of episode two leaves players with so many unanswered questions and plot twists. Then it's over. Of course, Valve is supposed to be working on episode 3 or even Half-Life 3. But, they've been as silent as Mr. Freeman about it. Five years later, we're still waiting.

Which brings us to another H word, Hell. As in development hell, where all talked about and might have been worked on games go. Duke Nukem recently emerged from development hell after over a decade, but perhaps he should have stayed there.

But, I have faith that Valve will do right by good ole Gordon whenever he does appear on our screens again. Half-Life is such a beloved franchise, that all these years later, fans are still protesting and signing petitions to make sure it gets released. That's dedication. And seriously, I want to board the Borealis already.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gamer Girl

I have a love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with the phrase "gamer girl" at this point in my life. Why can't we just be gamers? Look, I know it's a male dominated industry. I know sometimes women get treated like crap and that's wrong. Although, there are some other issues that are a big deal to "gamer girls."  I have never understood these complaints about gaming.

One of the issues is  that games don't have enough strong female characters.

(I think there are many examples of awesome female characters. Here's a few: Alyx from Half-Life 2, Chell from Portal,  Zelda from Legend of Zelda, Jade from Beyond Good and Evil,  Jill and Claire from Resident Evil, Lilith in Borderlands, Anya and Sam in Gears, Samus in Metriod,  Faith from Mirror's Edge, Lara from Tomb Raider and I could go on. )

They can't relate to guy characters or something like that. I have never felt this way, so I don't know what the problem is, exactly. When I read a book or watch a movie, the main characters doesn't need to be anything like me. Am I an 11 year old British boy who found out he's a wizard? Nope.  But, I still love reading about it.

Or the complaint that games are marketed towards guys. I don't care who the target audience is, if I like it, I'll play it.  As for big AAA, hardcore games, I don't feel they target anyone but gamers with their commercials and ads. Gamers who play games not because they're "girl" games "boy" games, but because they're good.

Just because some guys (and women too) are jerks when it comes to who they think should play games, that doesn't mean we have to stoop to their level of idiocy. And when I see a lot of " I'm a girl and play games, I'm special snowflake" type of stuff, it doesn't make sense to me. We know the statistics, almost half of all gamers are female.

I really think constantly throwing gender into other people's faces does us a disservice. Complaining without offering real solutions does us a disservice. We should stop  harassment on XBL on other online games. We should take action if we're denied a job just because of our gender. But that doesn't mean we should get mad if nobody's paying attention to the loud, whiny brat who's a rare, special creature known as the "gamer girl."

If you loves games and you have a daughter, share your love of games with her. Make her a gamer, not a "gamer girl."

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Final Bosses

In video games, final bosses can be anything from super hard to super easy, or even non-existent. The Legend of Zelda has always given gamers a final boss and most of them are awesome.  In fact, many Zelda fanatics agree that Skyward Sword's final boss, Demise, is the hardest in the series. The first Gears of War has RAAM,  who can be very difficult if you're not playing co-op. (Seriously, if I'm Marcus, the AI Dom likes nothing more than running straight up to RAAM and dying. )

But in Gears 2, there really isn't a final showdown. Same with Fallout 3, BioShock 2, and Saint's Row 2. Sure, there might be a wave of enemies, but nothing like a definite "this is it" moment. Even Alduin in Skyrim didn't give me the same challenge that other enemies in the game did.

It seems like more and more recent games lack that big fight at the end. I'm not sure how I feel about it. A part of me is okay with it, but another part wants the feeling of defeating the final and toughest enemy. I guess as long as the game is entertaining and filled with challenges along the way, I'll be happy. But not having that final moment can be a little jarring.

More on final bosses

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Ah, good ole Skrim. (Yes, that's what we call it in my house, pronounced Sk-rim) Skyrim was released to much fanfare back in November. But I didn't seriously become addicted to it until the beginning of January. (blame Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time 3D)

Just like when I wrote a review on Skyrim, it's sort of hard to find something to say without going on for 1,000+ words. The game is huge. There's dragons, the Thieve's Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and my awesome horse, Shadowmere.  And Trolls, magic, Daedric gods, mudcrabs, dragon priests etc etc etc.  Although, there's no Adoring Fan, thankfully.

As a badass Dark Elf who happens to be the Dragonborn, I defeated the main badass dragon, but the game isn't over. I don't even want to know how many hours I've poured into this thing. I do know that I haven't discovered every location or done every mission. In fact, I haven't even touched the whole civil war story line, yet.

Of course, you can't talk about Skyrim without mentioning the glitches. Bethesda games are known for being buggy and Skyrim is no different. My favorite glitch I experienced was near the Whiterun Stables. I walked out of the town and started off  towards the stables. As I got closer, I noticed a person staring at my horse's behind. Upon further inspection, I saw that it just wasn't one guy, but two. These creepy, glitched "twins" were stuck there. If I talked to one, the other's mouth would move. It happened again later on,  only they turned into triplets. At least Bethesda keeps patching the problems. Granted, sometimes the fixes cause more problems, like dragons that fly backwards.

What I'm really waiting for is an announcement about the DLCs. I've heard rumors about going to Morrowind or maybe Cyrodiil. But nothing official has been revealed yet. Hopefully, we will get more information this month.  

For more of my thoughts on this awesome game, check out Annoying things about Skyrim and Creepy missions in Skyrim.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dom

Back in October while I was playing Gears of War 3, I wrote a post about getting to "that part." It's now April and I'm going to talk about "that part" and the character behind it. There will be major Gears  spoilers ahead.

For those who don't know the Gears of War series, Dominic Santiago is the second player's character.  But, he is more than just a typical re-branding of the first player's character, Marcus. Dom's story through out the games has captivated me in a way Marcus' doesn't.

Before I get to "that part," here's brief history of Dom, one of my favorite video game characters:

On Emergence day,  (the day of the full scale Locust Horde attack on Sera's surface) Dom lost both of his children and his wife.

Years later while still fighting against the Locusts, Dom learns that his wife might be a prisoner of the Horde. He spends most of Gears of War 2 trying to find her. And he does.

But, Maria isn't herself anymore. From the stress and torture inflicted on her, she is in a comatose state. Dom decides to euthanize her. It's clear that this is the most painful decision of his life.  And this is one of the most heartbreaking  things I have ever seen in a video game.

It doesn't end there. Here's "that part".....

In Gears 3, the war isn't going well. In order to find fuel, Dom and the squad go to Mercy, Maria's hometown.  After arriving, he visits her family tomb and leaves his COG tags there. This is when I knew he was going to die. Later in Mercy, the squad is completely surrounded. Dom jumps into the driver's seat of a fuel truck and crashes it, giving Marcus and the others time to escape.

I have played through this scene at least 3 times now. Every time, it gets me. The first time I saw this, my son and I were playing together. As the scene unfolds with Dom getting into that truck and the aftermath, we both cried. I don't think I ever had to stop playing something and walk away before. In fact, I don't think we played Gears 3 for the rest of the day. Of course we did finish the game, and although the ending is bittersweet, it is also hopeful. I just wish Dom was there to see it as well.

more about Dom on the Gears wiki

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Consoles

I've always been a console gamer. I'm always been a Nintendo fangirl, even back when it was just Nintendo and Sega. Of course, that doesn't mean that I hate my PS3 and Xbox 360. I play them more than my Wii. But, I also play the hell out of my 3DS. Out of all of the consoles available now, I'm only missing the Vita.

Now that we are nearing the end of the 7th generation of consoles, speculations and rumors about the next PlayStation and Xbox  are increasing.  So here's a handy little list of what I think about all this:

I think we will able to play used games on the new consoles. If Microsoft and Sony ban used games, it would kill business. Yes, I know game publishers don't get more money from sales of used games, but for a gaming family like mine (with two 360s and two PS3s) this would be terrible. I'm not buying two copies of the same game.

Besides the Wii U, which is releasing later this year, I don't think we'll see a new Xbox or PlayStation until late 2013 or even 2014.

I don't think Sony or Microsoft will say anything about new consoles at E3.

I think the new Xbox and PlayStation will have disc drives. (But Microsoft, please get rid of the tray)

I like backwards capability, so does every other gamer on the planet.

These are just a few of  the concerns and rumors that are floating around out there. As we get closer to the next generation, I'm sure they will get even wilder.

More on  next gen consoles.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for BioShock Infinite

So last year, I used B for BioShock. But, that post was really just a gushy ode to my second favorite gaming series after the Legend of Zelda.  This year, BioShock Infinite will come out on October 16. I have already told my husband to keep a continuous  supply of bottled water and pizza handy for me. What's so special about Inifinite? Well, I'm glad you asked....

It's number three in the BioShock series, but it takes place in 1912, a good 50 or so years before the first one.

It takes place in Colombia, which is the exact opposite of my beloved, almost scary obsession with the underwater city of Rapture. Seriously, I would live in Rapture if I could. The best/worst thing about Columbia floating in the clouds is you can totally just jump off and fall to your death, so sayth Ken Levine.

I do have some reservations about the bright, sunny new city. But the more I see, especially of the "Heavy Hitters" enemies, the more creepy and awesome it gets. Check out G4's coverage of the new enemies. My favorite one is the robotic statue of George Washington who has mini-guns.  Or the Sirens or maybe the Boys of Silence....

Besides the time and place, there will be a new mode for Infinite called 1999 mode. It sounds like a love letter to us BioShock veterans who have beaten the first two on every difficulty offered. Hooray!

So yes, while I do love my Rapture, I'm super excited for Columbia. I trust Irrational to make an experience like no other. What I want is a warm, fuzzy mix of what makes BioShock great, but with new surprises and twists. I don't think I'll be disappointed.  (but it would be cool if there was an old fashioned Circus of Values in an alley, just something to consider... lol)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Art and Video Games

Whether or not video games are Art is a subject that's been debated to death. But, this year the "Games are Art" camp  (which I am a member of) won a "victory" with the opening of the the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian. It runs from March to the end of September. Even though I live in Florida, I am going to try my damnest to make it there.

Why do I believe games are Art? It's simple really, and a part of me doesn't understand why there's a debate at all. Art makes you think and feel. It's more than just the technical aspect of how well someone draws or paints. (or how good the graphics are for games.)

So yes, even the 8-bit games of the NES make me feel something, whether it be excitement, frustration, or joy. These days the graphics are way better, but I still get those same feelings when a game moves me. The stories are deeper now, as well. Granted, there's always room for storytelling improvement (mostly in the plot-holes category), but there are many times while playing that I have felt a connection with a character or situation. (More on this in the coming days)

This exhibit isn't without controversy, of course, with most of it surrounding the fact that gamers picked which games would be included.  Hopefully, I'll make it to DC so I can bask in all the gaming goodness for myself and see what all the fuss is about.