I’ve been traveling the past week and will be traveling much more in the next couple months. While I love going new places, I do dislike being separated from my dearly beloved game consoles. For years now, my Nintendo DS has been my trusty travel companion and more than a few transcontinental and even trans-oceanic flights have been whiled away with the help of Tetris, Civilization: Revolutions, and Advanced Wars among others. This last trip though, I decided to leave the DS at home because now I’ve got a shiny new iPad, and it’s chock full of games.
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As I understand it, in Persia pots can be extremely aggravating. I was reminded of this “fact” when playing through the Prince of Persia reboot, The Forgotten Sands, several weeks ago.
Forgotten Sands include that old gaming chestnut, break stuff on a level in order to get other stuff that will benefit you. It really is a strange concept, the notion that abusing the world around you is obviously a way of helping yourself out. I mean, okay, the idea of getting some sort of “life energy” out of a random pot in a palace is a weird enough concept. But do you really have to break a container in order to get at the weird stuff inside? Could the Prince be bothered to maybe reach inside first before resorting to vandalism?
In the now lengthy Castlevania series, Order of Ecclesia should rank as the second best of the Metroidvania styles. First place should go to Symphony of the Night by a very slight margin and third to Aria of Sorrow. The funny thing about even saying one Castlevania game is better than another is that very little changes in any of them. Plots are almost non-existent and characterization even less so. You’re always there to kill Dracula or someone is trying to be Dracula. Like its sci-fi sister Metroid, you spend most of the game exploring a map or collecting abilities that let you explore more regions. The RPG system is a fairly basic leveling up routine with variety added only through how you collect abilities. The biggest difference amongst the titles is how each Castlevania game handles difficulty.
When I refer to difficulty, I don’t mean it in the abstract sense of the word. I mean the player’s quantifiable ability to ignore the game design’s desire to kill them through the use of health potions, overpowered weapons, being immune to damage, and general button mashing. Common sense indicates thst you should go soft on the player in this department while they learn the ropes and then eventually put your foot down and force them to actually play the game. Difficulty is then perceived because I have to change the way that I am playing the game in order to continue it.
Turn around, walk away, blow town. That would have been the smart thing to do. Guess I wasn’t that smart.
I guess the Moving Pixels crew isn’t that smart either. Rather than bask in the warmth of the summer sun, our podcast crew revisits the darkened, snowed-in streets of Noir York City with a discussion of Max Payne.
Recently Leigh Alexander wrote an article for Kotaku questioning the popularity of war games. She asks, “why is our most common gameplay choice the pursuit of war?” but then confesses, “I don’t understand the continuing appeal; I don’t understand the unquestioning audience” (“Who Cheers For War?”, Kotaku, 30 June 2010) As someone who enjoys shooters, perhaps I’m in a position to answer her question, though I can only speak for myself. It’s not something that I’ve ever specifically thought about, but I now ask myself—why do I love shooters?
It should be noted that between bouts of Bad Company 2 that I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIII and loving it as well. I bought enough point and click adventure games during the recent Steam sale to last me well into next year. I also love the strategy of Risk: Factions, the arcade racing of any Burnout, and the platforming of Prince of Persia. With that said, does my love of shooters stem from some innate tendency towards violence, “maladapted people seeking maladaptive coping” as Leigh puts it, or is my love of the genre just an extension of my greater love of gaming in general?