Soapbox

Zelda could arrive in 2009

January 2nd, 2009 by Edwin in Soapbox



Don’t you just love analysts? They are paid good money to make calculated speculations regarding the industry they’re involved in, and most of the time the outcome comes out otherwise – and yet millions of people still place their faith in what was stated. I suppose that has a lot to do with folks not wanting to take responsibility for their own decisions, and hence make, for example, investment decisions based on a financial analyst’s comments concerning a certain stock or unit trust. Well, good thing the gaming world is more forgiving since there isn’t any chance for you to lose money there, so whether a title predicted to be released by an analyst is true or not, it won’t hurt our wallet ultimately. Lazard Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian has stated that Link’s next adventure could arrive on the scene next year on the Wii platform, but there are some pitfalls to look out for.

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Rumors of new Xbox 360 bundles afloat

September 28th, 2007 by Edwin in Gaming Hardware, Soapbox

xbox360-rumor-bundles.jpgThe rumor mill has started spinning again, and this time it involves new Xbox 360 bundles that will be released in time for the upcoming, frenzied holiday season. The first of the two would be the Xbox 360 Pro package (which leads me to wonder – whatever happened to the Casual package? Oh yeah, they picked up the Nintendo Wii instead) that will come with both Forza 2 as well as Marvel Ultimate Alliance titles, bringing back memories of the old Sega GT/Jet Set Radio bundle which were attached to original Xbox. This rumor started circulating last month, so a resurface could possibly indicate some truth in it.

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Energy bar for gamers – what next?

February 17th, 2007 by Edwin in Soapbox

guarana.jpg

In all seriousness, what is the definition of ’sport’? Do you actually have to sweat when it comes to a sporting event? Does chess consitute as a sport? To answer the last question, it should be in the affirmative as it is included in the Olympic Games. Sports purists might disagree as to what a real sporting event is, leaning more towards the physical aspect that involves a whole lot of sweat and training to build up one’s body. In the same vein, is gaming a sport? It doesn’t really matter what the answer is though with the introduction of the Headshot Gamer Bar.

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Warhawk for PS3 runs into hiccups

January 17th, 2007 by Edwin in Soapbox

warhawk-rumor.jpgThe PS3 is already beleaguered enough as it is, offering AAA+ hardware without the software that will ultimately drive hardware sales. Unfortunately for Sony, they have more bad news coming up their way with the rumor (which is more often than not the truth when exposed) that an upcoming high profile title which is hoped to be a “killer application” candidate is currently experiencing hiccups in its development. This does not bode well for Sony at all, as they cannot just rely on a couple of famous franchises (think Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid) to help make their new console a success. Other developers will need to pitch in with their very own top notch games before the PS3 takes the same route that the GameCube went through.

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Link returns in menacing pose

December 12th, 2006 by Edwin in Soapbox

adult-link.jpgThere are video game characters, and then there are video game icons, where Link falls into the latter category. If you are a big fan of one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises that never failed to be a blockbuster (save for The Legend of Zelda II on the NES, but that is another can of worms), then this Adult Link from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time will definitely wet your pants. First 4 Figures is offering this 7″ tall masterpiece, but too bad it won’t make it in time for Christmas Day as Adult Link will only be available worldwide in Q2 next year.

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All That Simplified Controllers Broo-Ha-Ha

June 29th, 2006 by Sean in Soapbox

Xbox 360
Peter Moore has dropped hints that Microsoft may have some kind of simpler new controller in the works for the XBox 360. Talking about current joypads, he pointed out that there are a lot of buttons, triggers and levers on there which may confuse and intimidate someone not used to holding such a thing. He also mentioned how some gamers just don’t like the current set up, citing his 14 year old daughter playing Project Gotham as evidence of just such a “frustrated” gamer.

There has been an awful lot of fuss about how complicated joypads have become, especially with Nintendo Wii having such a radically different control method to the norm. Having grown up through a series of different forms of joystick and joypad, most gamers don’t give the number of buttons a second thought.
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Who Put Him In Charge?

June 2nd, 2006 by Sean in Soapbox

Homer
Nothing to do with Homer Simpson in this post, but some of the crazy comments that have been uttered by Games Industry executives over the past months have made Homer look like Captain Intelligence. The level of catfighting between companies (particularly Microsoft and Sony) has risen to ridiculous levels since E3, so here’s a round-up of some of the idiocy we’ve been treated to.

We’ll start with Microsoft’s Peter Moore, who seems to be making the biggest ass of himself lately. His most reason public comment was “Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility.” Well, maybe you’re not Peter, but what about all those gamers who have upgraded to the 360 and want to play some of their old XBox games? Admittedly a lot of people probably will only ever try and play a couple of old XBox titles at most, and most may never even try, so to a certain extent he has a point, but if they really felt that way then why bother trying to provide any support for it in the first place?
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Unoriginal Games

April 27th, 2006 by Sean in Soapbox

Army Men
Once upon a time somebody had a reasonably nice idea. “Let’s make a game about those little green plastic soldiers we all had when we were kids!”, they said. “It’ll be cool to be able to re-enact all those pretend battles we used to do!”, they furthered. Well, it wasn’t a bad idea, and so was born the Army Men game, which was OK, but no more and no less than that.

Presumably the game must have been popular somewhere though, for a sequel duly followed, and another and another, until most sane people started to cry, “Why are they releasing more of this stuff? I didn’t play the first version, what makes them think I’m going to play the fifth iteration?”

And so we come to the present day and the news that yet another Army Men game is to be released. Ho hum. OK, I’ll put hand on heart here and say I’ve never actually played an Army Men game in any more than demo form, so maybe I’m missing out on a classic selection of games, but somehow, I don’t think so.

Maybe I’m being a little unfair singling out the poor old Army Men, as there are far worse games, but whilst some publishers just rely on churning out the same game year after year we’re going to be getting deeper and deeper into the pool of mediocrity. I urge all of you to vote with your wallets and try out some of the more original games out there, such as any of the Katamari games, Shadow of the Colossus, Trauma Center: Under The Knife or Pheonix Wright Ace Attorney.

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Badly Placed Save and Check Points

April 10th, 2006 by Sean in Soapbox

Save Game Frustration
The save point is one of the great inventions of the modern game, allowing you to put down a game and come back to it later, or allow you another attempt without having to play through the entire game again (something which was all too common in the 8-bit days!). What could possibly be wrong with such a great idea?

The biggest problem with save points is when the game doesn’t allow you to save at any point you wish, but instead only allows you to save at certain points determined by the games designer. I have no problem with this idea in general, indeed as a programmer it is often very useful to limit saving or checkpointing the game to certain positions as it makes the entire job much easier. However, there is no excuse for the stupid positioning of save points that you sometimes seem to come across.
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The Unfair Boss Battle

April 3rd, 2006 by Sean in Soapbox

R-Type
It may not have been the first game to feature it, but ever since the screen stopped scrolling on R-Type with a massive enemy filling your view, the Boss Battle has been a staple part of many games. I don’t know which game has the honour of introducing the concept of the Boss, but R-Type is certainly a memorable one and also illustrates what I feel is a generally “fair” Boss encounter, that being one where the difficulty level of the Boss is in keeping with the difficulty of the rest of the level leading up to that encounter.

Pretty much any action game you care to mention will contain a Boss encounter at some point, generally in the form of a bigger, harder to kill character, or some massive spaceship or the like. Such sections are usually also graphical highlights, and are intended to give the player the feel they are making progress through the game. So, what happens “When Boss Battles Go Wrong?”. Here’s a list of some of the major problems with Boss Battles.

  • The Difficulty Spike – Up until the Boss you’ve been making steady progression through the game. There’s been the odd area you’ve had trouble with, but otherwise things are going well. Then you reach the Boss, and suddenly the game you’ve been enjoying becomes the game you despise. All of a sudden you’re plunged into a sequence of restarts because if you can’t get rid of the Boss, then you’re not going to see the next part of the game. Normally with these Bosses it’s the case that you know exactly what it is you have to do, but achieving that goal seems near impossible because the Boss moves too fast, or attacks too frequently.
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