Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Jul 19, 2010
Playing the role of prophet is a tradition as old as video game criticism, so look no further for a heap of prognostication and plain ol' guesswork.

Coming off a really solid half year of gaming and in the wake of E3, the Moving Pixels podcast considers the upcoming titles that publishers and developers have just given us a taste for.  Based on screenshots, teasers, and gameplay demos we discuss titles that look exciting, disappointing, and just plain intimidating (I’m looking at you Portal 2 gameplay demo).


Playing the role of prophet is a tradition as old as video game criticism, so look no further for a heap of prognostication and plain ol’ guesswork.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 16, 2010
Breaking up the party helps us identify the characters as individuals rather than as just parts of a whole.

In Final Fantasy XIII, most of the cast is introduced in the very beginning. Rather than spread these introductions out over the course of the game like other RPGs, the cast comes together after just a few hours and then breaks up again. It’s a strange series of moments, seeing your party systematically disbanded, but the reasons behind these divisions are very personal, and as we watch each character go their separate ways, we learn a lot about their inner thoughts and desires.


First some background information on the world of Final Fantasy XIII: the game takes place in Cocoon, a protective sphere separating humanity from the dangerous outer world of Pulse. The fal’Cie are powerful magical beings that reside in Pulse. They attacked Cocoon a thousand years ago and were repelled, but the attack left humanity paranoid and forever fearful of these creatures. Adding to these fears is the ability of the fal’Cie to turn humans into servants, the l’Cie. When branded as l’Cie, you’re given a vague vision of a task that you must complete. If you’re successful, you turn into crystal; fail, and you become a monster. Either way it’s a death sentence, and one more reason to fear the fal’Cie. Yet ironically, Cocoon was built and is still maintained by these magical beings. They control everything from day and night cycles to weather patterns.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jul 15, 2010
The bottom line is that the next time I'm bringing the DS along too.

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.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010
The only way to set things right in a world is to subtract something in it.

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?


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010
The perception of challenge in a game is always contextual and based on prior experiences in the game space.

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.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.