Who Needs Support when you’ve got Gadgets?

I have a Vita.  It’s a nifty little device that has all kinds of cool features, internet access, and dual touch screens (I keep looking for a dialpad so I can make phone calls).

But it doesn’t have games.  This is what I bought it for.  I forked over the cash with eyes full of starry wonder at the promise the thing had, with the potential it might deliver.  In all, I’ve probably played it for about two hours.

 

Sony’s not new to handheld devices.  They had the PSP, and every time I go into a game retail place I stare wistfully at the respectable library of games.  I can’t help but feel Sony might have missed an opportunity by not putting some kind of UMD slot in the Vita.  Maybe it would cost too much to implement and run the price up.  Still.  Would be nice to not have to download every PSP game I want to play.

Other than the few good download titles I’ve bought for the Vita (Super Stardust is good, and I’m surprised by how much fun I can have dicking around with pool on Hustle Kings), I have no games for it.  I’m getting Gravity Rush this week, so hopefully that’ll be good for awhile.  But the next title I have coming is in October.  What was Sony expecting, for me to just use the system like an expensive portable web browser for the next three months?

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Cause, you know.  I have this already.

 

Also, I’m not interested in ports.  I played Mortal Kombat on a real system.  I won’t be playing Sony Smash Brothers (I think that’s what it’s called) on a little screen, shouting at other upstanding young Sony supporters through the built-in mic.

I guess I could just dick around with Near for a few hours (what the fuck is Near, anyway?).

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Virtua Fighter: Why the Internet Scares Me Away From It

The new Virtua Fighter is out, and I have it downloaded to my hard drive.  I’ve been waiting years to play VF again, and yet, I haven’t jumped back in.  I’m scared of it, actually.  Not because I know I’m going to be terrible (my skills have more rust than a ’75 Buick), but because of one thing.

People.

Internet play brought something great to fighting games.  The ability to play with people all over the world, to be part of the fighting community without having to spend hours in dank arcades blowing quarters every time you lost.  But it also brought interactions with some of the dregs of the gaming world.  People that pull the cable when you beat them so as not to incur a loss.  People who send you messages after every match denoting that you should complete an act of fornication upon yourself when you beat them.  Unnecessarily vitriolic young ladies and gentlemen who lack a certain sophistication to their anger.

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I disagree strongly with your playstyle and demand recompense for the injury you have bestowed upon me!

It’s easier for people to get mad at fighters, I think.  There’s no team to hide behind when you lose.  If you lost, it’s usually because you fucked up.  This accountability really aggravates gamers online.

My time with vanilla VF5 was fraught with these people.  Back then, I could take it.  I was even amused by it.  Relished it, fed off of it.

I’m older now.  Older, and much less willing to deal with the kind of vitriol I’m likely to run into online.  It’s draining.  I guess I could just only play with people I know, just to avoid the random asshole.

But the randomness is part of the fun.

Losing the Hard in my Core (No, Viagra won’t help).

I think I’m getting old.

Not in like, an age sense.  I’m only 25.  Although I do get back pains and sometimes have an inexplicable urge to scream at children to get off my lawn.

But in a game sense.  As far as how hard I want my games to be and how much time I’m willing to invest in them.  There was a time when I would sit down and play countless hours of Quake 3 Arena, or attempt to breed a Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy 7.  Hell, I was a kid.  If I wanted to burn my day up seeing how many different ways I could hilariously knock Allistair Tenpenny off his tower in Fallout 3 with a baseball bat and a handful of VATS points, then I damn well would.

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Ten.  Exactly ten different ways.

But I’m finding now I’m less interested in that stuff.  And where I used to be right there alongside gamers raging against companies “dumbing down” their games, I find myself starting to understand and even enjoy some of the features.

I played Diablo 2, like most gamers, so hard that I couldn’t go to sleep without the orb of my health and mana bars burned into my retinas.  I did countless Baal runs to get my characters at best, a level or two, all so I could do it again until they were at a respectable level.  I read up on FAQ’s on the best way to allocate my skill points so as not to shoot myself in the foot  I hunted down my fellow gamers looking for the best gear.  The point is, I put a lot of work into what I think of now as not a whole hell of a lot of reward.

Enter Diablo 3.  The game automatically allocates stats.  Your skills unlock as you level.  You have access to all of those skills at any time, and their strength isn’t determined by how many points you drop into them.  Now there’s a crafting system where you can get some quality items as long as you remember to train your guys up every so often.  And those artisans(and the stash) carry over between each character.

When I started, all these features felt like they were taking away your chance to be creative with your builds, and some of the difficulty of the game.  I seethed as I leveled and gained my skills and was force-fed what Blizzard wanted me to use.

But then as I got higher up in the levels, I realized that I had access to EVERYTHING.  Everything I ever got was there for me to use again, in new ways, in conjunction with my new skills.  Nothing has exactly become obsolete.  And I’m digging it.

I realize now, as I play today’s games, I’m starting to value games for the intuitiveness of their mechanics as much as the time I spend on them.  Diablo 3’s setup feels intuitive, and easy to grasp to me.  I don’t have to bull through level after level, killing thousands of enemies on “runs” of levels just so I can grab enough experience to someday get off the exercise wheel.

I’m noting, with deep regret, that I’m even losing a bit of interest in my favorite genre, fighting games.  For a time I put monstrous hours into playing fighters against other people, whether online or in person.  I printed up movelists.  I learned frames of animation just so I could understand the best courses of action in any situation.  I Escape Throw Evade Guarded in Virtua Fighter.  I frame trapped into Emerald Genesic Tager Busters in Blazblue.  I hit Delayed Hyper Combo cancels to tag to Frank West to get him to level 4 or 5 so he could unleash zillion hit chainsaw combos of death in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.

I was never great at execution for these games (fighting games are probably some of the most demanding games in terms of physical dexterity and I have two left thumbs), but dammit, I tried.  I hit training modes, I read, I bought I discussed fighting game topics on forums like a computer chair Socrates (thankfully, there was no hemlock involved).

But I’m getting tired of working so hard for games as of late.  They’re supposed to be fun.  Like I said, I’m getting old.  I’m losing my teeth, one-by-one.  Eventually I’ll be looking for video game soft foods.

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Mmm.  Accessibility.

Cover Up.

As I was playing Max Payne 3 (and to a lesser extent and more recently, Resistance: Burning Skies), I started wondering about something.  When did everything get a cover system?

The original two Max Paynes had nothing like that.  You got your kills being a whirling dervish of dual-wielding, slow motion, bullet ballerina death.  You were like a Greek epic hero.  With Berettas.  I mean, you could duck, but it wasn’t necessary half the time.  You really felt like you were the invincible star of a John Woo film.

 

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Real men slide down banisters in the middle of gunfights.  They also smoke and walk away from explosions undaunted.

Max Payne 3 was going for realism, I guess.  No longer could I spend half the game in Bullet Time, pumping round after round into my hapless foes while they barely had time to aim.  I had to hide, pop out from cover, rinse, repeat, and occasionally cry for my mommy (she was busy making dinner, unfortunately).

This is a trend It seems I’m seeing more of in video games, and for the most part, I’m alright with it.  Lends a sense of realism to the proceedings, gives you a nice, tense feeling of cat-and-mouse.  But sometimes I miss feeling like a superhuman.  The cover system in Max Payne 3 works well for it, of course, but I wish the game wasn’t so reliant on it.  There are other potential ways to lengthen the game and retain the god-like feel you had from the first two games.

First person shooters seem to be jumping on making some sort of cover system.  the Call of Juarez’s had one, this new Resistance has one.  Deus Ex:  Human Revolution added one where you pop out to third person when you take cover.  I know some games had a leaning mechanic in place as far back as Goldeneye.  It’s just odd to me this is starting to become a standard for certain games.

 

I want a cover system for Street Fighter.  I’m tired of eating chip damage from Hadoukens.

An Introduction.

I’m a gamer.  I say this unironically, and I hope without a chorus of bemused laughter from whoever might be reading this.  I’ve played games since I was three.  I’ve grown up playing Mario, Tetris, what have you.  I’m not the kid that can beat Super Metroid in under three hours.  I’m not the guy that can headshot someone from across the map with a pistol in Call of Duty.

But I play games.  I play them a lot, and I play them often.  One of my consoles is usually on and running every day, with me working on some new vice I just purchased.  I spend unhealthy amounts of money on my hobby (still not even sure what the term “budget” means).

I grew up and changed with games.  But then so did games.  And like any person who’s dealing with changes in something they love, I feel a mix of emotions.  Some things make me elated.  But others confuse me.  Other changes piss me off.  Why do I have to pay money to get the true ending to a game I spent a significant amount of time beating?

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Not naming any names or anything.

So I figure now that, while I try to make sense of what has become of my hobby, I record it here, for people to peruse, to (laugh raucously at) perhaps find something for themselves in my adventures.  I thank you for whatever time you’re willing to give.