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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #18

Between seeing personal projects go downhill and writing some nifty things for Smash! magazine, it’s been a busy week and it’s going to spill into the next ones. For now, free time is dedicated to… Well, I don’t have free time. Erm. So, here are the the week’s links.

  • You can’t argue the fact that IGN is one of the most popular news aggregators of our time. What you can argue is whether their information is interesting or even intelligent. This article by Greg Miller, wherein he compares Mass Effect 2 with Uncharted 2, is certainly more than enough reason to question IGN’s value. Miller claims both games are different, that they appeal to different players and that they can’t really be compared. Only to draw the conclusion that Mass Effect 2 is totally better than Uncharted 2. This might be a good time to remember a 2009 article by Sean Malstrom, which demonstrates the stupidity and prejudice running wild at IGN. The topic is about a podcast where Nintendo is attacked by the most ridiculous reasons one can imagine. To quote one of the highlights: “Turning on my Wii is a very lonely experience because Wii doesn’t have a system like Xbox Live”. Absolute cancer.

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #17

Usually, when we make a mistake, there’s this tendency to want to go back in time. An impossible task, to be sure (and then, only Marty McFly could do it) and one that would ignore something crucial: mistakes or not, our decisions build our character. When a few years ago I found myself going through an existencial crisis that saw me abandoning videogames and writing about them, the desire to go back was gradually replaced by a certain acceptance. It was a choice made in full possession of my mental faculties and the cross to bare was mine alone. I’ve made worse decisions and I still live with them and I suspect many other people share the same experience. So when I’m confronted with chances to, in some way, redeem myself I don’t know what to think. When I got an invitation to work in Smash! magazine, I didn’t hesitate (spoiler: might not be entirely true). When this week sees a late Christmas present arrive by mail, in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, the world goes into “bullet time”. Once in my possession, it was sold in cold blood and became associated with other kinds of losses in my life. Now that I have a chance to return, arguably, to the best Zelda game ever created, I’m not sure what to think. To say that I will play it is a truism but it will be curious to return to Miyamoto’s maximum expression of wanderlust while trying to abstain myself from thinking about the double meaning the game now has. Overly gushy, they say. Something more interesting, then:

  • An excerpt from 1958′s Disneylanf TV Show called Magic Highway USA, which ponders over the future of transportation technology. It’s an artefact very much of its time, with a radical vision of optimistic future clashing against the traditional roles of men and women in society (in other words, highways could me magical and futuristic but it was the man who would dominate them, while the woman was still chained to the role of the housewife).

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #16

I’ve reached the 16th edition? Hum, yay? Bioshock 2 critique is done, only thing left is to clear up a few rough edges and work on the translation – should be up in the next days. Until then, I predict a chance of Alien vs. Predator this Saturday and Sunday and some openings in Endless Ocean 2. For now, the links of the week.

  • PC Gamer announced and Ars Technica confirmed: the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 not only requires online activation but also demands that players to be constantly online in order to play and even save their progress. In theory, this prevents the game from reaching the second hand market since information is inexorably tied to our account and Ubi’s servers, and it also prevents (or at least delays) digital pirates. In practice, this makes it so the game can’t be played offline and that if something happens to our connection or even to Ubi’s servers, it becomes impossible to play Assassin’s Creed 2. Connection failure after a one hour playthrough without passing by a single checkpoint? Tough. You’ve lost everything since your last save. Similar situations have been happening with Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins. When Electronic Arts serves are down for maintenance, the games cannot recognize their respective DLCs, preventing players to access them. Any savegame using DLC content is therefore rendered invalid until the servers are back online. It’s not hard to understand why depending on a constant online connection is a terrible idea: ISP problems, router failures, interferences in wi-fi connections, precarious stability of 3G networks and problems in Ubi’s own servers (from maintenance to an eventual shutdown further down the line) are just a few of the situations that may arise. And all this without even mentioning the most obvious issue: yes, some people do not have an internet connection at home. If there ever was a valid reason for PC gamers to boycott a game, here it is. And I’m talking of an absolute boycott. We have to supress this idea that it’s somehow mandatory to play every single new game in the market, and that it has to be played regardless of costs – whether financial or ethical – associated with them. Why? Because if you buy the game, you’ll be telling Ubisoft that you accept this kind of initiative. If you pirate the game, you’re only reinforcing Ubisoft’s position and they will keep insisting that this kind of system is necessary. It’s a vicious and cheating cycle, one only the consumer can help break. And that’s enough fire starting for today.

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #15

I found myself with a Xbox 360 copy of Bioshock 2 for reviewing purposes, and the review should be published in the next issue of Smash! magazine. The result is a more refined shooter but an inferior experience when held up to the original. A good game but no more than that – which, considering the first title and the current videogame climate, is actually a pretty positive thing. But there’s lots of potential in there that no one managed to explore. Eventually, I’ll be leaving a small wall o’text about it here before February ends. But playing Bioshock 2 had at least one positive side – make me think about the original, which led me into revisiting the first iteration of Rapture and leaving a few links here that relate to the game.

  • Many a time I found myself thinking that the first Bioshock should have only used one Little Sister and one Big Daddy, and that our interactions with them along several stages of the game should have shaped the ending rather than, as is the case in Irrational’s game, gradually tearing down the sense of wonder with those routine encounters. Meanwhile, I see this amazing perfomance in Berlin which is about reuniting “the Big Giant, a deep-sea diver, and his niece, the Little Giantess”, in celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and I can’t help repeating myself: Bioshock should have only used one Little Sister and one Big Daddy. I have quite a bit of respect for Levine and crew but there’s more punch, more story, more emotion in those images than in “PRESS X TO RESCUE”.

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #13

Oh, a weekend. Hmm. Links, am I right?

  • On a recent session of Iwata Asks, a Nintendo-held conversation between the company’s president and several of its designers, there was an interesting part about the history of handheld Zelda games. Series co-creator Takashi Tezuka claims Link’s Awakening was inspired by Twin Peaks. As in, a game about a small number of characters in a small town, but where they were all suspicious types. As one of my favorite Zelda games, one I spent a lot of time with, it stands to reason. It was a Zelda game that subverted some of the series’ familiar tropes. There was no Princess Zelda. Certain characters completely broke the fourth wall. Kirby made a guest appearance as an enemy. The island was implied to be nothing more than a dream. There were screens typical of a platformer where Link would jump and stomp on Goombas. And so on. Worth a read for those who want to know just a bit more about the series and/or are not ridiculous hardcore types dedicated to bashing Nintendo (aka, the Eurogamerus Trollus Despicabilis species).

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #12

A lot of stuff to play and do, little time for the blog. Not exactly news, right? I hope to write something about Brütal Legend, Dragon Age: Origins and Bayonetta around here as soon as I can but between work and a flu and being assaulted by Emil’s characterization in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World for the Wii (it’s either the best or worse voice acting ever), I’ll keep on pretending to have more than two or three people reading this and that for some reason, they don’t mind checking out a list of links they might have already found somewhere else.

  • Gamasutra did an interview with Hiroshi Aoki, producer of Space Invaders Extreme and its sequel and a veteran at Taito (currently Square-Enix’s arcade arm), who looks at the past, present and future of the company. “In my games, if I press the Start button, I want to be in the game immediately; I don’t want any useless cutscenes.” Curious how Taito, which made a career out of making games that never wanted to be more than what they are, gets involved with Square-Enix, which seems only capable of making games that strive for legitimacy by being less than videogames.